Ahhh, the sweet, sweet – or shall I say savory – taste of systems and schedules. R-O-U-T-I-N-E, find out what it means to me! The first full week of the New Year brings with it a full cart and full fridge, stuffed to the brim with produce, protein, and meal prep a plenty! Truth be told, finally settling into the Termination stage of behavior change – oops, is my coaching nerd showing? – four years after my very first meal prep session, my preferences and practice don’t vary much whether I consider myself in or out of my typical routine. But alas, the creature of habit in me is quite excited to see ample white space (aka *me time*) on the spreadsheet this week.
Let’s dig right on in to the meat of it, shall we?
Last week’s marinade and plating combo for this menu staple was so finger lickin’ good, I’m doing a back-to-back double take. My butterflied bird will soak in a lemon-herb marinade (featuring Primal Palate Amore) for a full day before being baked, broiled, and finally plated with sautéed asiago and hazelnut shaved brussels sprouts and a roasted-to-caramelized-perfection combo of cauliflower, onion, and pear.
I just l-o-v-e that this protein is so versatile – truly a cook once eat all week dish – because I’ll be packing leftovers into transportable tupperware with a big ol’ winter-inspired salad the following day. Hashtag Lunchbox Life returns… just for this day. My favorite ways to repEAT throughout the week are mixing leftover cuts into chicken salad, adding buffalo sauce and crisping int he air fryer, or creating a stir-fry with surplus veggies.
Chicken Mole Bowls
I spent this New Year’s Eve (my 2nd one sober!) at a deeeeelicious Mexican restaurant in my quaint and cozy hometown, which happens to be owned by an affiliate at my CrossFit box, seated ’round with friends I made through – you guessed it… CrossFit! While my brain and belly were set on my go-to Mexican order (fajitas sans tortillas, rice, and beans in favor of extra veggies), I couldn’t help but notice my eyes lingering on a Chicken Mole dish listed a few lines up on the menu. It was then, at 10:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve eating fajitas with friends, that I decided some sort of Mole that catered to both my preferences and palate would grace the grid of the upcoming week’s meal plan. A few searches on Pinterest, and I found this recipe sure to do the trick! Since this is a flavor profile I’m not familiar with, I’ll be following the recipe down to the T of cocoa power. The only thing I’ll be modifying is the method. I’ll attempt to convert Crockpot to InstantPot in an effort to reduce cooking time without compromising flavor. I’ll plate my portion with freshly riced zucchini, cilantro lime roasted cauliflower, and crunchy romaine.
Super Saucy Asian Stewed Beef
This is one of those meals that stopped me dead in my scroll. My eyes grew wide and my heart rate spiked as my pointer finger went right to the Save for Later flag before I even knew what was happening. The belly knows what the belly wants. When attached to this photo, the word saucy literally sends my tongue salivating (seriously it’s happening right now, as I type). I won’t lie, I’d usually try to speed up a cooking time like this on a meal prep dish but… nope, not this one. I’m going to let this sucker simmer for that entire 90 minutes to increase my chances of super saucy success. And it won’t stop when the flame dies down. This Super Saucy Asian Stewed Beef will get even more flavorful as it soaks in the fridge for a few days before I heat it up and scoop it atop a heaping helping of stir fried veggies (think bok choy, peppers, mushrooms, carrot, and snap pea) and a side salad of crunchy cabbage and juicy mandarin. So many textures. So many flavors. Mouth party for one! This is sensory awakening is starting to feel a bit sexual… let’s keep scrolling, shall we?
Peri Peri Chicken Thigh
The first time I read Peri Peri on a menu was just eight months ago, in Iceland nonetheless! The very first spot Mo and I stopped to grab lunch was an electric eatery with an emphasis on cozy, healthy eats. The ultra-blond waitress warned me that Peri Peri‘s spicy flavor profile was not for the weak of tongue. My tolerance to the spice spectrum has increased exponentially since expanding my diet with nutrient-dense food, so I decided to give it a go! Alas, I found it just enough smoky, subtle spice to spark the senses without sending me into a sweat. Let’s see if I can recreate it with a combination of smoked and sweet paprika, cayenne, chili powered, and ginger in my kitchen!
Another love at first sight dish that solidified its spot in my meal plan the second I scrolled upon in. I’ll be using this recipe to inspire my own air fried Salmon Croquettes. Stay tuned for my mods and method! My portion will be served up with fitlicity signature cauli mash, simply seasoned, blanched broccoli, and a crisp side salad.
Out to Eat
One of my top tips for meal planning and prep: be realistic. What good is a grid full o’ delicious eats, if hardly half actually get eaten? Whether its a catered meeting or a social commitment, block it out to save time, stress, and money. This week, I myself have plans for a lunch out on the town with my MIL. If you asked me a few years back, the only restaurant I’d likely suggest for an eating-based experience would have Salad or Greens in the name. Alas, I have learned – with much trial and error and many a modification – that most every restaurant has something on the menu that aligns with my preferences, priorities, and of course, palate, too! Even if it’s not spelled out in the salad section, I’ve learned to read between the menu lines. In my opinion, and in the opinion of the scientists backing the Center for Disease Control, Self-Advocacy – that is, confidence and competence in communicating individual needs and beliefs, especially in the presence of conflicting circumstances – is one of the top skills necessary to make lifestyle choices that benefit long-term health and wellbeing such as eating well and exercising.
I digress. For this particular date, I suggested a sushi house. My go-to? The sashimi special! I absolutely love fresh raw cuts of salmon, tuna, and yellowtail among other Chef’s choices like octopus, egg, and eel. Typically, I order up a side salad or steamed veggies to round out my protein platter.