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Week of Eats

Breakfasts

Turkey Bacon Egg Cups a la @fitlicity

Pro Plate Tip: pair it with roasted brussels, pear, and onion and a side salad.

Healthy Hint: Meal prep the egg cups and “breaky brussels” up to seven days in advance. RehEAT the egg cups gently in 30 second microwave increments, and crisp up the veggies in the air fryer.

Eat the Rainbow Breaky Plate

Featuring seven-minute Jammy Eggs a la @fitlicity, smoked salmon, turkey bacon, crunchy raw veggies of every color, texture, and flavor profile… and a special appearance by a cauliflower “bagel”.

Mains (Lunch + Dinner)

I operate on a “leftovers for lunch” planning strategy, so each of the meals below yield at least four servings for myself and Mo.

Spatchcock Chicken

Spatchcock is simply a preparation method of a whole chicken that involves removing the backbone and breaking the breastbone so that the chicken lays flat – cooking more evenly (and quickly!). The marinade du jour in honor of Super Bowl Sunday is buffalo!

Pair it with: cacao e pepe brussel sprouts and roasted cauliflower.

Spinach Artichoke Chicken Casserole

I’m modifying one of my own culinary creations to bring you something a little bit new with a bite of familiar flavor! Stay tuned. But until then, use this recipe for ooey-gooey but totally ooey-gooey-good-for-you deliciousness.

Pair it with: sautéed green beans and asparagus

Spanakopita Meatballs

If you’re wondering what in the heck Spanakopita is… so was I! But the photo of this dish was so dang pretty, it was worth a trip to the Google machine. A quick browser search informed me that these meatballs are inspired by a Greek culture classic – savory spinach pie (sans phyllo dough).

Pair it with: vegetable medley, a tzatziki sauce, and a side salad

Butternut Squash Chicken Curry

A trip to the Weather app (one of my Meal Planning pro tips – check the forecast!) showed me that a cozy, rainy evening lay ahead. Cue: a comforting bowl of curry. This recipe uses one of my favorite packaged products – Yai’s Thai Curry!

My mods: I’m making the fat content a bit more modest by using 1/2 can of Yai’s Thai sauce

Pair it with: cauliflower rice and extra spinach

Shrimp, Peas, and “Rice”

A surplus stock of frozen jumbo shrimp inspired this “Fish Thursday” dish… and girl, I am glad about that!

My mods: I’m subbing confetti rice, a colorful blend cauliflower, broccoli, and carrot, in place of the called-for grain

Pair it with: roasted lemon parmesan broccoli

Snacks

Cottage Cheese Power Bowl

Spoon out a base of 1/2 cup cottage cheese and let your fridge and pantry inspire the rest. If you’re afraid cottage cheese isn’t your thing… make sure you try it first! May I suggest Good Culture or Nancy’s? If it’s still not your thing, opt for greek yogurt or ricotta, instead!

Pair it with: sweet fresh or frozen berries nuts and nut butter (maybe even a piece of dark chocolate or sprinkle of cacao nibs!) or savory tomato, cucumber and bell pepper with olives and basil (go crazy with a balsamic drizzle!)

Bistro Box

I like to mix and match my snacks bistro-box style. All you need is protein, fiber, and fat!

Protein: deli meat slices, smoked salmon, hard boiled egg, canned tuna, chicken slices, yogurt or cottage cheese

Fiber: raw crunchy veggies (snap peas, celery, carrots, bell pepper, zucchini) or fresh berries (blue, black, straw, or rasp)

Fat: cheese wedges, nuts, nut butter, avocado, or olives

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Week of Eats Holiday Edition

If you think the long anticipated arrival of The Holidays (you know, the capital-letter week-and-a-half of Christmakwanzakuh celebrations) stops this sister from planning her meals… you don’t know me as well as I thought.

When social commitments are crowding the calendar leaving little resemblance of routine to be found, mapping out my (color-coded, time-blocked, hyperlinked) menu makes room for all the things that fill me up (like food, friends, and family) and reduces those things that weigh me down (like stress, scrambling, and inefficiencies).

Scroll on to read all about my approach to planning around – and for – The Holidays!

Plan practically.

A plan that isn’t practical – or flexible – isn’t feasible. Be sure to plug in an at-a-glance view of your schedule so that you have a clear view of how your plan will come into practice. This step will answer questions like: How many meals do you actually need? Where and when are you eating away from home (and can you contribute a dish)? How often are you cooking and how often are you being served? Where do you need to pack snacks for the road?

Keep a well-stocked fridge, freezer, and pantry… and use it.

A sporadic schedule is the perfect time to pull together simple meals from your Staple Stock Ups and make a little room for a refill. If you’ve always got eggs in the fridge, cauli rice and peas in the freezer, and coconut oil in the pantry – bam! Cauliflower “Fried Rice.” Grab chicken sausage and cauliflower rice from the freezer, your favorite pasta from the pantry, and sauce from the fridge and – voila! Marinara bowl.

I’m putting this into practice this week by whipping up a batch of my Spinach Artichoke Chicken n’ Cauli Casserole (still need a better name for that mouthful). I have artichokes in my pantry, cottage cheese, mozzarella, and cauliflower (I always buy an extra) in my fridge, and scooped up spinach to complete the dish.

Mix up your prep personality.

Take on the traits of a Big-Batch Prepster and cook up complete containers of casseroles, soups, and stews that you can dip into at a moments notice. Just reheat and eat! Or, channel the Mix-n-Match Maker by preparing individual components of meals that you can compose on the fly.

Like the true Gemini I am, I’ll be opting for a little bit of this and a little of that. The Mix-n-Match Maker in me is cooking up beef, rice, and veggies (Bonus! these are also items I have in my Staple Stock Up) for Mo to assemble to his tastebuds content and the Big-Batch Prepster in me is tossing the fixings for a Chicken Marsala Soup in the InstantPot, ready for the sippin’.

Go with what you know.

You’re giving out as much energy as you are gifts this week, and you don’t need to be squeezing out the last drop sweating over the stove. Set yours up for success (and satisfaction!) by dropping your favorite repEAT recipes into rotation.

I’ll be implementing this with my Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake, Spinach Artichoke Chicken and Cauliflower Casserole, and Egg Cups with Breaky Brussels n’ Onion a la fitlicity!

No prep, no problem.

Lean on items that require low-to-no prep to build snack-style or bistro-box meals. Think hard boiled eggs, smoked salmon, and deli meat or dairy like greek yogurt and cottage cheese for protein, raw crunchy veggies like snap peas, carrots, and baby bell pepper for fiber, and nuts, cheese, or olives for fat. Charcuterie Board for one? Count. Me. In.

Get freezer friendly.

As much as we can color-code and hyperlink our lives, plans change. *ahem, see point one* Stay one step ahead and plan to minimize food waste and maximize your grocery spend by preparing meals that can be frozen if they don’t get finished.

That’s precisely why I planned this Chicken Marsala Soup.

Share your Love Language.

Use time with family and friends to serve up the things that serve you and invite your support system to share in the flavors (and nutrients!) you love. Offer to contribute salads, sides of veggies, or yes – charcuterie boards, to The Holiday spread.

I’ll be assembling a Cobb Salad for my mom’s Christmas Brunch and a seasonal Pear and Pomegranate Salad and roasted Brussels n’ Onion a la fitlicity for Mo’s family.

Plus, I’ll be packaging up some Truffle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts and tying ’em with a pretty ribbon for a gift that keeps on giving (until the jar is finished, that is).

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Under (Food) Pressure

It seems like you just watched Hocus Pocus for the twelfth time in twenty-four hours and already, The Holidays are upon us… bringing with them parties a plenty with friends that feel like family and family that feels like… well, family. Amidst good conversation and genuine connection are abundant apps, snacks of snacks, and tempting treats that leave our hearts, plates, and bellies full, fuller, and fullest.

But what happens when – gathered ’round the charcuterie board or seated at the dining table – someone makes what’s on (or off) your plate, their prerogative? Whether a curious inquisition or a snarky snipe, commentary about your eating choices may leave you feeling anything less than merry this holiday season. Here’s how to deal:

Before we begin, a disclaimer.

It goes without saying (but I’ll write it anyway) that even if you’re striving to live a healthy lifestyle and tend to be very thoughtful about your food choices, it’s okay to engage with food containing little nutritional value in whatever context is appropriate for your individual wants, needs, and goals. For you, the holistically-healthy choice may be enjoying a piece of candy or cake free of guilt. Or, it may be saying “no thank you” in a demonstration of developing discipline. Whatever it is, make sure what you’re serving yourself is serving you – body, brain, and belly.

We may choose to engage (or not to engage) with a food for several reasons, from personal preference to specific goals to ethical beliefs to allergies and beyond. Of all the things that belong on our plate, peer pressure is not one of them.

To eat the cake or not to eat the cake is not the question – but either way, you’re gonna hear about it. So, let’s strategize some effective responses to navigate Nutrition Nudgers.

First, make sense of the motive.

If you ask me, there are three reasons a “Food Pusher” may have something to say about your eating choices:

  1. Genuine Love & Care: For Aunt MaryPat, cooking enough meatballs & gravy (or is it sauce?) to feed an army is the ultimate expression of love. Keeping the people she cares about “well-fed” (maybe by way of calories, but not so much nutrients) by questioning whether or not you’ve eat yet before both feel are the door or suggesting – or straight up serving – seconds before you’ve cleared your plate makes her feel fulfilled. She means well, and that means you might feel badly about offending her…
  2. Curiosity: Your coworker Jane sees you happily munching through your colorfully-packed tupperware each day at lunch while she stares solemnly into a styrofoam take-out container. She’s been prime witness to your progress from how your productivity has increased to how your clothes are fitting, and she wants in! Don’t get your guard up! Jane might come off like she’s making a back-handed remark when in reality, she’s totally inspired by you.
  3. Pride: With all of the Diet fads floating around, one of your family members or friends is bound to be testing the trends, and they aren’t afraid to share it – after all, they lost 3 pounds! Your cousin Carla who’s “mostly Keto” will probably be the first to side-eye you for spooning some pickled beets onto your plate, but she’ll be the first to over-justify her slice of pumpkin pie at the end of the night.
  4. Insecurity: The girl you later refer to as “That B****” when you call your bestie to tell her what went down at your boyfriend’s cousin’s sister’s Friendsgiving is probably jealous of you. Or, what she thinks she knows of you based on your eating choices. Beneath the brash, she’s insecure about her own habits and decisions, and she wants to make you feel badly so that she can feel just a little bit better. It’s unfortunate, but remember – her words speak more about her character than yours.

Once you know who you’re dealing with, choose your tactic.

  1. Gratitude: Express your gratitude to Aunt MaryPat in your own way, something meaningful and tangible that doesn’t necessarily translate to unwanted food on your plate or in your belly. Start with how grateful you are for her thoughtful and sure-to-be delicious preparation. If the pushing persists, don’t be afraid to ask for her love and care on your terms, as well. After all, it’s these motives that are at the heart of her actions. Tell Aunt MaryPat that, while you absolutely love her meatballs & gravy – they’re the best in the world! – you’ve had your fill. Or let her know that, right now, you’ve made a commitment to your nutrition and would really appreciate her support in honoring your current priorities. That way, she can feel she served her purpose of caring for you, without serving you unwanted food. Plus, maybe she’ll even be inspired to whip up a delicious and nutritious meal for the next time you stop by.
  2. Education: Get curious right back and ask Jane what’s been going on in her life. Has she started a new exercise routine? Is the thinking about making some changes to her diet? Has she ever tried brussels sprouts? Be a catalyst for change from a totally supportive, I’ve been there, I get it, type of way. No need to lay down the dogmatic law with Jane. She’s not quite ready to hire a Nutritionist and get under a barbell, but with the right encouragement she’s well on her way. To get there, she needs empathy and a real deal, authentic role model. Feel free to share some healthy hints (or maybe even a bite of your snack?!) when she seems to pry. This could be the start of a brand new fit-friendship!
  3. Neutrality: Stay in your lane, sister, and don’t forget to celebrate cousin Carla’s success, no matter what your knowledge tells you about her tactics. Much like religion an politics, Nutrition Dogma doesn’t belong at the dinner table. Change the subject and do you, boo!
  4. Assertiveness: For someone who’s rarely at a loss for words, “That B****” won’t know quite how to respond when you politely lay down the facts. The straight-forward strategy will have her reconsidering her – and your – confidence while you move right along.

Above all else, remember that the actions you take to respect yourself, your values, and your priorities do not require justification or validation.

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Week of Eats .010

The boy is back in tooooown!

ICYMI: Mo was traveling all week, leaving me and sweet Baby G to eat to our heart’s savory desires. Despite being an introvert (yes, actually) who relates to the lyrics of Ariana Grande’s *bop*, NASA on a personal level, I am more than ready for my partner to come home. And his return means… back to planning meals for two that not only meet both of our caloric and nutrient needs, but our preferences, too.

On an unrelated note, the first day of fall is officially this Monday, September 23! While I finally feel like I have seasonal permission to put fall flavors and soups, stews, and casseroles into my plan, temps are still hovering in the 80s here in the Philadelphia ‘burbs, so I’m gonna stick to some lighter, warm-weather fare… for now.

No surprise here: Spatchcock Chicken is staying in rotation! This week, I’m doing it up with a lemon-herb ghee marinade and pairing with roasted baby broccoli and brussels, all drizzled with a sure to be delicious caramelized onion and mushroom gravy.

I’m easing into the fall flavors with this One Pan Pork Loin with Brussels and Apples. It looked entirely too delicious, nutritious, and easy to pass by, and totally speaks my palate love language! I’ll be adding a side of my very own Cauliflower Mash (which I now steam in the InstantPot!) to take the cozy rating on this dish from a 10 to an 11.

One of my favorite repEAT dishes, I’ll be grilling up Tandoori marinated chicken thighs to pair with Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower and a hearty bed of greens.

I got very excited to put this Korean Beef Bowl on my menu when I stumbled upon a few variations of inspiration. I’ll be searing sirloin steak from The Simple Grocer with a Korean stir-fry sauce and plating (bowling?) with a bed of shredded cabbage, cauliflower rice, and home-pickled veggies! My inspiration is coming from the Cook Once, Eat All Week cookbook!

Another product of my recent The Simple Grocer order, I’ll be grilling up Pederson’s Green Chili Cheese Sausage and shrimp and pairing with grilled bell pepper and cauliflower “grits,” just like this recipe!

Here’s how it’s all playing out in my Meal Plan, breakfast and snacks included!

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Week of Eats .009

Contrary to popular belief, Labor Day Weekend does not mark the changing of seasons. In fact, the first day of Autumn falls on September 23. So, another week of summery recipes for this gal!

Even though I waited until what felt like the eleventh hour to fill in this week’s meal plan, the usual ~*flow*~ took over and the dEATS were decided before the clock struck 3 pm and grilled zucchini squash turned back into pumpkin spice 😉

I told y’all that Spatchcock Chicken would be a staple on my menu for the foreseeable future, and I wasn’t lyin’! This particular preparation of a whole chicken, in which the backbone is removed, produces the most flavorful tender meat and crispy skin. Plus, it leave me with the perfect amount of protein to whip up a few easy-to-assemble, low-to-no cook Fridge Clean Out meals when the weekend rolls ’round. You can find instructions here, or pick up a deboned bird from Whole Foods! This week, I’ll be serving it with a spinach and arugula salad spread of grilled peach and prosciutto and a side of baby broccoli (or, as I’m writing this, I’m debating brussels… I don’ have a lot of brussels planned and I love my brussels…)

ButcherBox bring Ground Beef for life! I’m transforming it into one of my all-time favorite, super simple repEAT meals: Sloppy Joe! It’s a taste that transports me right back to childhood, eating what we christened “Sloppy Moms.” Equally delicious and likely way more nutritious (Sorry, Mom, I have no idea what you put in between your buns). I follow this recipe, usually experimenting slightly based on what sauces and such I have on hand at the time of culinary conception. My portion will be plated bowled a top oodles of zoodles and served up with a side salad.

You never know when meal inspo will strike, and I’m pretty (100%) sure I flagged this Chicken Satay Cauliflower Rice Bowl during a 4:45 a.m. Instagram scroll, before hitting the gym but after my daily selfie-shimmy. What? You don’t search for recipes before sunrise? Weird…

I have a surplus of fresh parsley and cilantro on my shelves. Don’t let wilting herbs go to waste! This is the perfect time to blend up a Chimichurri Sauce to compliment your favorite protein and veggies! For me, it’ll pair with Sirloin filets, an heirloom tomato and shallot salad and Golden Jicama Fries, my favorite way to prepare my new favorite ultra fibrous root veggie.

ICYMI, Mo has a Friday ritual of grabbing lunch with coworkers to as the culmination of a successful workweek passed, which leaves me with the challenge opportunity of planning a Thursday dinner with just enough servings for two and assembling leftovers for a Friday fridge clean-out lunch. For my fam, this is the perfect occasion to make a dent in our weekly seafood quota since, in my opinion, fish, shrimp, and shellfish is often best eaten fresh off-the-grill or out-the-oven (I mean… I’ll do it, but no one really wants to be the one microwaving fish in the office). I only hope that my attempt at this Sicilian Style Salmon recipe with vibrant tomato, crispy broccoli, and briny olives is as beautiful as this photo. Intimidated by cooking your own salmon? Been there! Pro tip: use an air fryer for a perfect salmon filet (wild caught, skin on – the only way) every time. Season, rub with just a dash of your favorite oil (avocado or EVOO), and place skin-side down in your air fryer, cooking for 8 minutes at 400. Flip (carefully, keep that skin in tact) and go for another 2 to get the outside ultra crispy.

The Bonus! meal this week is courtesy of a weekend trip to my family mountain house with friends! One of my ButcherBox 5lb pork butts is making the 3 hour journey so that I can offer up an a la carte Pulled Pork spread. Bowls or buns, the fam and friends will be able to take their pick! This InstantPot recipe will make that marbled butt (actually, the top of the leg) the star of the show, and I’ll be serving up a ton of supporting sides from slaw to salad to brussels!

Check out how it all comes together across the week, below and stay tuned for how it pans out (get it, like pots and pans?) on my stories daily! Also, I added fun emojis to my plan this week during a rare moment of procrastination. You. Are. Welcome.

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Week of Eats .006

If you’ve been following me for some (any) time, you’ve probably caught on by now that I don’t dine out – or take-out – too frequently. If I had to guess, I’d say I typically purchase a restaurant prepared meal two-to-three times per month. A steep decline in average over the past four years of shaping my lifestyle. It’s not that I have anything against a good ol’ menu meal, I just have created the habit of planning and prepping my food for the week (that’s why you’re here reading this, right?!). And when the weekend rolls ’round, I enjoy cooking-up culinary concoctions that I like to call “fridge clean-out” or “fridge-foraging” meals (keep scrollin’, more on that later). I can’t stand to waste not only the fresh produce I’m privileged to have access to, but the money, time, and energy I spend purchasing and preparing it. Alas, the importance of planning! If I am dining out, I make sure to build it right into my schedule to prevent waste of any kind, and set myself up for success. And apparently, when I do dine out, I do it three times in one week… Sroll on to see how I’m supporting a super social schedule with a week of nutritious eats. 

When I first took on a larger role in Mo’s nutrition by preparing his work-week meals, I restructured my planning methodology in such a way that dinner leftovers become the following day’s lunch. However, I soon realized this strategy meant having leftovers locked and loaded from Sunday supper – a time when Mo and I typically eat separate dishes (at the same time huddled around our binge-worthy series of the moment) – or planning a two-portion standalone meal for Monday lunch. It boggled my brain…. until I started shifting the way I viewed my meal plan. I’ve adapted my previous Monday-Sunday grid to a Sunday-Saturday timeframe. Much easier on the noggin. I digress. This week, I took the standalone meal approach, because cravings told me I absolutely wanted a packed plate of Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole paired with “cheesy” brussels sprouts Sunday evening (check my post soon for my method!).

What’s that standalone meal you ask? Typically, I make use easy-to-portion protein like chicken sausage or shrimp to avoid unnecessary leftovers. This household also happens to have those options stocked in our freezer at a ll times, so it makes for a low-to-no spend meal. This week, I’m bringing back an old fave: my Cauliflower Arancini Bowl! I’ll be prepping a batch with real-deal white rice for Mo, and maintaining that cauliflower for myself.

ICYMI, I ordered Amazon Prime Whole Foods delivery for the first time last week to support myself during a super busy time. It was a great experience and absolutely helped me to maximize my schedule, but I would have made a few minor adjustments such as, picking a larger broccoli crown, a smaller jicama root, and not being forced to purchase 2 lbs of chicken thigh when I only needed ~1.5. This ramble is to tell you that I had an extra pack of chicken thigh in my fridge that wasn’t quite enough for four servings, but too much for two. So, I’m using that easy to portion protein again to make some Grilled Tandoori Shrimp & Chicken Kebobs. I use this recipe for my marinade. I’ll be pairing it with a tahini-dressed roasted salad of kale, cauliflower, red onion and date, tossing on some cucumber, tomato, and feta, and topping it with a lemon-dill dip, and garnishing it all with mint from my herb garden, of course.

One of my top tips to make meal planning simple is keep a list of 3-5 go-to repEAT favorites for each meal, and bring them into circulation when inspiration is lacking, schedules are wonky, or hey, just ’cause! There’s no need to reinvent the flavor wheel each week. So, one of Mo’s most-loved flavors made it’s way onto the menu this week – Egg Roll Bowl. I’ve tried a few variations of this popular better-for-you remake, and this recipeis my personal fave. I’m serving it with a sesame ginger roasted broccoli, snap pea, and carrot medley and perhaps some cauliflower “fried rice“.

This Lemon-Dill Breaky Box has been the soundtrack to my portable breakfast summer. It’s a super-low-almost-assembly-only prep. Here’s how to build yours!

  1. Prepare your dip (Yields 1 Serving)
    • 2/3 cup non-fat, plain greek yogurt (that’s 1 individually packaged cup, or ~150g)
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tsp dill
    • Optional: shake of salt and garlic powder
      Pro-Tip: Mix it right in the individual yogurt container for no clean up!
  2. Add EGGstra 😉 protein with a perfectly jammy hard boiled egg
    • Pro-Tip:For the perfectly jammy egg, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. AFTER water comes to a boil, carefully add eggs by placing into pot with a spoon and continue to boil for ~7 minutes. Remove the same way, gently with a spoon, and transfer immediately to an ice bath for ~8-10 minutes. Store in-shell in the fridge for 5-7 days. Stressed about cracked eggs? Let them come to room temperature before boiling as an extra precaution if you please.
  3. Fill it out with veggies
    • Sliced mini bell pepper
    • Sliced baby cucumber
    • Snap peas
    • Tomato
    • Jicama sticks
    • Carrot
  4. Top it off with some favorable fat
    • Smoked salmon
    • Nuts of choice
    • 1 mini cheese

And for this week’s bonus, I present… the Fridge Clean-Out Meal, also known on the ‘gram as “fridge foraging”. How many times have you stood in front of your fridge, freezer, and pantry and sighed, **I have nothing to eat** only to then order something less-than-nutritious on speed-dial? Chances are, between leftover prep or unused produce and your kitchen stock, you have a ton of options waiting to be paired together, you just need a little creativity!

  1. Start with the base. I’ve always got these things stocked:
    • Fridge: surplus salad greens
    • Freezer: cauliflower rice
    • Freezer: cauliflower pizza crust
    • Pantry: go-to grains or legumes
  2. Pick the protein. At any moment, you can find these items in my kitchen:
    • Fridge: eggs – quick and easy!
    • Fridge: greek yogurt
    • Freezer: chicken sausage, shrimp, fish
    • Pantry: canned tuna, canned salmon
  3. Identify the toppings. I typically find something like this during a forage:
    • Fridge: leftover veggies – even if they look like they’re on their last leg – you won’t notice after a proper roast!
    • Fridge: surplus fruitFridge: cheese!
    • Freezer: frozen veggies, frozen fruit
    • Pantry: nuts and seeds/nut and seed butters
  4. Determine the flavor profile. I always have one of these to choose from on the shelves:
    • Fridge: marinara, dressings, fave sauces
    • Freezer: herb cubes, ginger cubes

Here’s a look at how it’s all coming together in my plan:

Eat on, fam!

The fitlicity Five: Philosophies

The fitlicity Five are my top Principles and Philosophies to approaching a habit-based, nutrient-dense lifestyle.

Defined by a set of practices, skills, systems, behaviors, and beliefs, The fitlicity Five are born out of my very own experience choosing grease over greens, and backed by applied science.

What began as a skin-shallow means of body composition change bred a soul-deep method of radical behavior change.

What I learned, practice, and preach is that above – or shall I say below – all else, it’s the why and how of what we eat that is critical to success, where success is ultimately defined as looking, feeling, and functioning our very best.

The fitlicity Five: Philosophies

Progress Over Perfection

It is possible to be precise, and to be excellent, without being perfect. In fact, it’s preferred. The pursuit of perfectionism encourages you to stall. It allows you to play it safe, to dumb it down, to remain the same, to keep it comfortable and generally to avoid doing the thing – anything – that will move you closer to your goals. Perfection paralyzes the possibility of progress. There is no action-plan for perfection, but there is an action-plan for being your best, and for increasing that standard every day. That action-plan is persistence and perseverance. It’s continuing a course of action despite difficulty and delay in success. It’s challenging yourself and exposing yourself to opportunities for mishaps, mistakes, and failure so that you can adapt and evolve. This, above all the tips, tricks, and healthy hints for choosing the quality and quantity of your food, is the ultimate takeaway I want you to repEAT, over and over again.

Prevent Impulse, Promote Intention

When you participate in an activity that makes you feel good in the moment but serves no future value or is in avoidance of your goals and values, you are choosing something for gratification. Gratification is the temporary act of pleasing, whereas satisfaction is the lasting feeling pleasure obtained by fulfillment. When it comes to eating, pleasure comes in different disguises: as the immediate sensation of wanting and liking a food in the moment or as a longer lasting feeling of total well-being after a meal. Apply this philosophy to your eating choices by plotting the increase or decrease in pleasure over time. What things merely fill you up, and what things fulfill you to the brim?

Own It

There is major power in active awareness of your choices, especially when it comes to what you put into your body. As a member of the fitlicityfam, you subscribe to the belief that you are not a product of your circumstances, but rather a result of your choices. A reflection of your systems and beliefs. Chalking up choices that act in avoidance of your goals to weak willpower and  “whoops!” is not an option. Rather, we have to take ownership of our actions by implementing The fitlicity Five Triple-A Triage: Acknowledge, Analyze, Adapt.

Neutral Narrative

Your approach to a nutrient-dense lifestyle is not a capital-D “Diet,” it’s simply the way you choose to eat. The food you eat is not good or bad, nor does it impose that implied morality onto your sense of self. Remember to think like a scientist, not a judge. Guide with policies, rather than policing. Prioritizing nourishment is not a means to an end, but rather a way of life that integrates physical, physiological, and psychological wellbeing.

Fake It ’til You Make It

I give you full permission to “fake it til you make it,” y’all. RepEAT after me: if you don’t believe you’re the kind of person who can achieve the goals you have set, no amount of resolve is going to lead to action. And ultimately, it’s action that yields results (or not). Identity-based habits are formed by acting like the person you want to be, until you actually become them. 

Life hack: stop setting outcome-based goals and start setting identity-based intentions.

The fitlicity Five: Principles

How do these Philosophies of why and how you eat apply to what is on your plate and in your belly? With The fitlicity Five Principles!

Ready to change the way you approach eating for good?

Coming Soon

The fitlicity Five, my group program designed to guide you in building your foundation to a sustainable happy, healthy, and habit-based nutrient-dense life with added accountability from the fitlicityfam!

With The fitlicity Five, you will learn how to nourish your body from temples to toes with delicious food, how to make intentional, intuitive choices based on your body’s biological needs, how to cultivate connections between the way you eat and the way you navigate the world, and how to build a sustainable lifestyle founded on an attainable approach to nutrition and habit-based health.

Recipe: Jammy Boiled Eggs

The Goldilocks of boiled eggs. Not raw and runny. Not gray and dry. But juuuuuuuust right.

You’ll need

  • A batch of large eggs
  • A pot large enough to submerge all eggs
  • A bowl large enough to submerge all eggs
  • Ice
  • Water

Method

  • Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat.
  • Once the water is boiling, carefully add each egg with a spoon. Don’t add them before the water comes to boil! Cracking shouldn’t be an issue, but you can allow the eggs to come to room temp on the counter while boiling the water for eggstra precaution.
  • Boil for seven minutes exactly. No need to cover! Set an alarm so you don’t forget 😉
  • While the eggs bowl, fill a vessel large enough to submerge all eggs with ice and cold water.
  • At seven minutes, quickly remove the pot from heat (shift to a cool burner) and carefully spoon each egg into the ice bath. Take care not to scoop up too much water with each egg, to preserve the cold temperature of the ice water.
  • Allow the eggs to set in the ice bath for at least ten minutes, if not more.
  • Store in the shells in the fridge for up to seven days, or crack and peel on the spot!
  • Top with EBTB seasoning for the best bite.

Recipe: Jammy Egg Cups

These high-protein, meal-prep friendly breakfast bites are a staple in my weekly menu until further notice.

Ingredients (yields 2 egg cups)

  • 1 slice meat of choice (turkey bacon, prosciutto, bacon, ham, deli meat, etc!)
  • 2 large eggs (I love Vital Farms)
  • 1 sprig of fresh herbs (basil, parsley, or sage)
  • 2 tbsp fresh scallion, sliced into rounds
  • 1 tbsp parmesan
  • Salt and pep or everything but the bagel seasoning

Optional add ins: cherry tomato, wilted spinach or greens, diced pepper, onion, buffalo sauce, pesto … get wild!

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
  • Spray a non-stick muffin tin with avocado oil. Option to use parchment or silicon liners for eggstra caution.
  • Arrange 1/2 slice of meat into the muffin tin. Pro tip: for turkey bacon, I cut in half length wise, and wrap around the mold like a belt. For prosciutto, I cut in half width wise and press into the mold like a pocket.
  • If you are using turkey bacon or bacon, pop into the oven for 5 minutes at this stage.
  • If you are using fillings such as diced veggies or wilted greens, add them here.
  • Crack a whole egg into each mold. Place your fresh herbs and scallions on top. Sprinkle with parmesan and crack with salt and pepper or Everything But the Bagel seasoning.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the whites are *mostly* set and the yolks are still a bit jammy. The whites will experience some residual cooking as they cool (and when you rehEAT), so it’s okay to undercook just a bit to preserve the jammy yolk. We don’t want these dry!
  • Allow to cool before transferring to glass storage container. Store for up to 7 days in the fridge.

RehEAT tips

To prevent overcooking, microwave gently in 30 second intervals until warm.

Recipe: Breaky Brussels n’ Onion

Tune into the ‘gram every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday… and you’ll find this combo on my plate. Can’t imagine eating vegetables for breakfast? Just trust me on this one…

And don’t get it twisted, I use this method no matter the hour of the day.

Ingredients (yields 2 servings)

  • 1/2 lb brussels sprouts (~200g), halved or quartered
  • 1/2 medium red onion (~100g), cut into wedges
  • 1/2 tsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 tbsp thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Optional add ins: apple, pear, grapes, sweet potato, butternut squash, turkey bacon, bacon, prosciutto

Method

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Assemble brussels and onion on a tinfoil or parchment lined baking tray (this is key to getting the brussels caramelized – tender yet crispy)
  • Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with seasoning. Toss it all around and spread out as evenly as possible on the baking tray. Too much overlap and the veggies will steam and dry, rather than caramelize.
  • Roast the veggies for roughly 35 minutes, untouched for 15 minutes and then shaking every 10 for the last 20.

RehEAT tips

Air fry on medium heat for 6 minutes!

Store as meal prep and serve with Jammy Egg Cups when you’re ready to eat or…

  • Roast the veggies for 25 minutes
  • Create a pocket on your pan, and crack on 2-4 eggs and 1-2 cut slices of turkey bacon, bacon, or prosciutto
  • Roast for an additional 10 minutes
  • Plate and eat fresh!

Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Bake

If ya haven’t tried this cheesy, comforting, veggie-based good and good-for-you bake yet… RUN, don’t walk, to a kitchen nearest you.

This recipe is

  • Perfect for meal prep
  • Keto-friendly
  • Macro-minded
  • Totally nutritious “comfort food”

Ingredients (yields 4 servings)

  • 1 medium/large spaghetti squash
  • 1/4 tsp olive oil, to roast the spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 tsp ghee
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 2-3 heaping tbsp non-fat, plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4-1/3 cup buffalo sauce (I love The New Primal)
  • 3 oz shredded cheese of choice (I love equal parts mozzarella and cheddar), divided
  • seasoning to taste: salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • scallion for topping

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degress
  • Prepare your spaghetti squash: Cut the squash in half, length-wise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Place the spaghetti squash with cut-side up in a lightly greased baking dish. Brush the face of the squash with a dash of olive oil and season with a crack of salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes before flipping and roast another 20. Once cool enough to handle, shred the squash, place into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Prepare your chicken: While the spaghetti squash roasts, add 1/2 tsp ghee to a saucepan over medium-low heat. When the ghee is melted in the pan, add the diced onion and sauté until translucent an fragrant – about 5 minutes. Add the chicken to the pan, breaking it up with a spatula and tossing frequently until no longer pink (we don’t want to over-cook in this step, since the chicken will continue to cook once the casserole is combined). Add a dash of salt, pepper, and garlic powder to lightly season. Set aside and allow to cool.
  • Assemble the casserole: In a large mixing bowl, combine spaghetti squash, chicken and onion mixture, egg, cottage cheese, yogurt, buffalo sauce, and 1.5 ounces of the cheese blend. Mix thoroughly with a fork until completely combined. Transfer the mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish (I use an 8×8 square, it’s best when it’s thick!) and sprinkle the remaining 1.5 ounces of cheese on top.
  • Cook the casserole: Bake for ~20 minutes, until casserole is bubbling and cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Storage tips

Allow to cool completely in the casserole dish prior to transferring to a storage container. I personally set mine in the fridge, uncovered, for several hours before portioning it.

Serving tips

Top with fresh scallion and pair with a side of green veggies (I love simply roasted brussels or steamed broccoli) or a side salad.

More than a Number

My Perspective on Calorie Counting and Macronutrient Tracking

Calorie Counting, a tale as old as time…

If the relationship between the Calorie and the Counter is the 1991 VHS original Beauty and the Beast, macronutrient tracking – and specifically If It Fits Your Macros, otherwise coined IIFYM – is the 2017 remastered remake starring Emma Watson. In either case, I’d say that both the Calorie & the Macronutrient, and the Counter and Tracker, play the part of Beauty and Beast interchangeably as the plot thickens and chorus crescendos.

A quick browser search or scroll through Instagram’s native Explore page will prove, without pause, that calorie counting – a dietary approach that emphasizes the input and output of total energy – is still quite relevant and that it’s cool-kid cousin, macro tracking – a dietary approach that emphasizes the input and output of total energy plus added specifications – is gaining ground.

Before digging in completely, allow me to clearly state that both calorie counting and macronutrient tracking can contribute to a holistically healthy, nutrient-dense diet. Key word, contribute. I won’t argue that calorie counting and macronutrient tracking “don’t work,” but I will argue – or rather, politely express my personal and professional opinion – that when implemented in isolation, failing to factor in the points outlined below, the two practices fall short when it comes to nutrition, performance, and health.

The concept of tracking macronutrients – particularly from an IIFYM point of view – is that once you’ve “figured out” how many calories you “need” per day along with which portions of them should come from each macronutrient, that is – protein, carbs, and fat, you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want – so as long as you stay within the confines of your designated macro split.

I’m using quotes around figured out and need here to represent the air quotes I’d be using if I were speaking about this topic instead of writing about it. You see, although there are formulas we – and by we I mean everyone from Registered Dietitians to that Instagram Influencer – can use to estimate ideal caloric intake, it’s not a perfect science. No matter what the online calculators want you to believe. Many factors influence an individual’s caloric needs from genetic predisposition, to goals, to activity level, to biological blueprint, and beyond. This last point, biological blueprint, is most important. It tells us that two people with the exact same body weight, waist measurement, and even exercise routine, will have different caloric and nutrient needs based on their individual ability to process and absorb specific nutrients.

While Calorie Counting and Macro Tracking certainly can have their place in a holistically healthy, nutrient-dense diet, I believe that the two practices fall short on their own.

In general, both Calorie Counting and Macro Tracking reduce food to a series of numbers – sums, differences, ratios, and percentages – that describe diet as a quantitative experiment rather than a qualitative experience.

I write reduces, because science supports my personal belief that quantifying food into just four compartmentalized components – caloric value and percentages of protein, carbs, and fat – is an extremely narrow way to view what you put into your body. Imagine having to describe yourself only in a set of four quantitative classifications – your age, weight, height, and pant size. What do these numbers actually say about you? About what you do and believe? How you think, talk, and live? Your likes and dislikes, fears and dreams, skills and passions? Absolutely nothing. Not unlike the way categorizing food only by calories or macros eliminates the many, many qualities that make food so much more than “fuel”.

Sure. Calories, or rather the breakdown of macronutrients, supply our bodies with the energy we need to survive, much like fuel supplies an engine with the substance it needs to run. However, that’s about where the car analogy crumbles. Fuel doesn’t turn the wheel, push the peddles, or initiate windshield wipers. Fuel may provide the option – the potential – to get from Point A to Point B, but it contributes little to if, when, and how that journey unfolds.

Beyond calories and macronutrients, food offers countless compounds that influence individual health without directly providing energy. Think micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, and phytochemicals, and compounds like fiber and water. These substances may not provide the potential for life on their own, but they dictate the way in which we live. In sum, calories allow us to survive, but nutrients allow us to thrive.

Furthermore, each individual responds differently to food. Without dismissing allergies, sensitivities, illness, think even of sensory preferences like flavor and texture. And let us not forget culture, religion, and tradition, the historical human nature of breaking bread. In this sense, food caters to facets far beyond our physical function, nourishing relationships and connecting cultures.

Caloric and macro values alone also don’t take into account how different combinations of nutrients affect the body within each feeding. Nor do these practices take into account the distribution of nutrients throughout the day. Though the combination and distribution of nutrients will have no impact on over all calorie intake, it will set off a series of chemical chain reactions that impact energy levels, mood, and cravings just to name a few physiological functions. For example, eating a simple sugar by itself – such as candy – will likely send blood sugar levels skyrocketing, which can then set off a chain of other metabolic reactions including cravings, lethargy, and mood swings to name a few. But combine that with protein, fat, and fiber, and the effect on blood sugar is blunted, completing changing the way the body absorbs and processes the food. Candy aside, this can be applied with two seemingly similar and characteristically “healthy” meals, as well, as shown below.

While both of these oatmeal bowls boast nutrient-dense ingredients and would certainly “Fit Your Macros,” one option is loaded with starch and sugar, while the other is topped with fiber and protein. Though either could round out your nutrient pie chart for the day, each would be metabolized completely differently – resulting in equally different effects on body composition and physical and physiological performance.

Macronutrient timing, which is crucial when performance is a priority, may also be ignored with the IIFYM approach. When it comes to fueling workouts, there are times when you might want little to no fat or fiber, and specific ratios of carbs and protein. Sometimes highly-refined and quickly-digestible foods are best for the body and at other times, the opposite. For those with performance priorities, eating for post-workout recovery should consider caloric and macronutrient values different than a pre-workout meal, intra-workout meal, or “anytime” meal.

As mentioned, but worth repeating, calorie counting and macronutrient tracking emphasize quantity, but on their own, quickly dismiss quality of food. You can easily meet your carb quota with sugary drinks, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily should for optimal physical and physiological function. Similarly, living off of pizza, french fries, and protein powder isn’t optimal – even if you can achieve your macros with those options alone. This is the concept of being fed, and in many cases overfed, without necessarily being nourished.

Overfed but Undernourished refers to exceeding energy (caloric) needs but not meeting micronutrient (vitamin and  mineral) requirements. For the first time in history, obesity correlates with malnourishment. Research indicates that lack of proper nutrition is at the root of obesity – even when people over consume calories. Take, for example, a power lifter with the goal of increasing muscle mass. In order to gain weight, she will need to consume more calories than she burns. In order for those calories to be metabolized efficiently and primarily converted into muscle mass as opposed to body fat, she needs to consume more high-quality, micronutrient-rich calories than she burns.

That’s because “empty calorie” foods like pizza, donuts, ice cream, and french fries are low in nutrient quality, and high in processed fats and sugars. Though a caloric deficit and corresponding weight loss can certainly be achieved by “eating whatever you want,” losing weight does not automatically equate to improved health. And, we cannot truly find our healthy homeostasis until we address our insides just as much as our outsides. Beyond calories in vs. out, we have to provide our body with the nutrients it requires (remember those vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and probiotics?). Without these key elements, it is nearly impossible to treat the root causes of most health problems and weight management issues: gut health, hormone balance, and inflammation.

Consider, for example, two different meals with very similar macronutrient profiles:

Though these meals would register as virtually identical on a MyFitnessPal macronutrient pie chart, they are hardly comparable outside the confines of a calorie tracking app and inside the body.

Check out the same meals when we layer in just two compounds among countless nutrients: sugar and fiber. One meal is packed with simple sugar, artificial additives, and processed products, while the other provides plenty of slow-burning complex carbs and lean protein. One meal would result in a sugar spike, crash, and burn, while the other would provide sustenance and nourishment in the form of lasting energy. And not only will these meals feel totally different on the inside (energy levels, cravings, mood, and more), but they’ll look totally different on the outside, too. Over time, one meal would promote insulin resistance, and ultimately the storage of body fat, while the other meal would promote a lean, muscular physique.

Lastly, counting calories and tracking macronutrients can lead to a lack of interoceptive awareness: the ability to acknowledge and apply individual inner body sensations, involving the sensory process of accepting, assessing, and appraising internal bodily signals. When relying numbers and percentages alone to determine when, what, and how much to eat, you may suffer a lack of attunement to your internal cues.

For certain individuals, reaching a numeric cap to food intake can spur feelings of restriction, and corresponding acts of rebellion. For others, reaching the end of the day with a bunch of macros left to backfill can send them reaching for energy-dense, nutrient-poor choices or eating past the point of physical fullness. In other words, if it’s 9 p.m. and you’re still hungry but have “hit your macros” for the day, the internal instinct to honor hunger may be blunted. Likewise, if it’s 9 p.m. and you are satisfied and satiated but haven’t “hit your macros,” the internal instinct to periodically fast may be disrupted.

Furthermore, choosing to eating a specific food for the sole purpose of meeting an arbitrary caloric or macronutrient value fails to support satisfaction by inhibiting an intentional, cohesive, mindful eating experience. Failure to understand and cater to sensory preferences reduces anticipation, pleasure, and excitement around eating experiences, which may be a catalyst for the restrict and rebel cycle, or just plain bring on burnout.

In the end, quantitative practices like calorie counting and macronutrient tracking can certainly contribute to a holistically-healthy, nutrient-dense diet by providing guidance for overall energy intake and as an added level of accountability. If it works for you, I’m here for it. But I’m also here to remind you that food is more than numbers. Remember to factor in quality to your equation.

And hey, maybe you’re totally a numbers guy or gal. In which case, I’ve got some qualitative quantities for you to focus on. Rather than the number of calories or percentage of macronutrients you consume in a day, try cataloging this data:

Numbers that count

GRAMS OF FIBER

25 to 35 grams. That’s how much fiber a day we need for optimal health, but most Americans get just 16 grams per day. Adequate fiber intake helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, prevents certain cancers, eases constipation, and keeps you feeling full for longer, which is helpful for weight management. Get more fiber from vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

CUPS OF FRUITS & VEGGIES

5 cups or more. That’s how many cups of fruits and vegetables it takes to optimize your physiological health from blood sugar, to mood regulation, to gut function, to hormone production. Healthy Hint: try adding a side salad to your lunch and dinner, and a piece of fruit to your breakfast and snack!

SERVINGS OF SUGAR

6 teaspoons (100 calories or 24 grams). That is the maximum recommended daily intake of added sugar, whether from artificial or whole food sources, according to the American Heart Association. Did you know that just one medium sized latte from your favorite coffee chain boats 66 grams of added sugar? That’s 2.75 times the daily recommended intake in just one beverage. It’s no wonder that the average American consumes about 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) of added sugar each day, which is 3 times the recommend amount – adding up to 66 pounds of added sugar per year. But it’s not just lattes, sodas, and candy bars. Sneaky sources of added sugar include your favorite fruit and veggie juices, granolas, and “protein” bars, too!

OUNCES OF WATER

Half your bodyweight. Though hydration needs vary based on biological blueprint, lifestyle, and even external environment, most Registered Dietitians and Exercise Science Nutritionists advocate a minimum daily water consumption of half an individual’s body weight in ounces. Hydration levels are linked to digestion, nutrient absorption, appetite, mood, cognitive performance, and skin health to name a few. 

HOURS OF SLEEP

7 to 8 hours. Are you getting that much sleep every night? Lack of sleep has short-term consequences, such as poor judgment, increased risk of accidents, bad moods, and less ability to retain information. Poor sleep over the long term has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So, turn off the Netflix binge, power down your devices and get the rest your body needs.

MINUTES OF EXERCISE

150 minutes. That’s the recommendation for how much physical activity you should get each week, preferably spread throughout the week in increments of at least 20 minutes. This amount of activity helps combat heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, dementia, and cancer.

Numbers that don’t add up

CALORIES

1,800 calories. Or whatever number you choose or calculate. You don’t need to count every calorie you eat – it’s tedious, often flawed, and it doesn’t necessarily help you choose nutrient-dense foods. If you had the choice between 100 calories of broccoli or fries, why not choose the fries, right? But that wouldn’t provide much nourishment and oversimplifies eating into one number. If you find calorie counting to be a helpful tool, there’s no reason it can’t contribute to your dietary approach, but just remember that it’s not the most vital number for your holistic health.

MACRONUTRIENTS

30-40-30. Or any other ratio of protein, carbs, and fat. While there is proven science behind adhering to specific macronutrient percentages, there’s also evidence of psychological effects like obsessive use of food diaries and apps and reduced interoceptive awareness. Similar to calorie counting, macronutrient tracking can be conducive to a holistically healthy diet… if you remember to focus on quality as much as – if not more than – quantity.

FASTED:FED RATIO

16:8.Or any ratio of hours spend fasted versus fed. Much like calories and macronutrients, when we consume our meals says little about the quality of our diet. If you’re eating french fries within your arbritary window, they’re still french fries – metabolized the same way as if they were eaten earlier or later in the day. Healthy Hint: humans intermittent fast by nature. We don’t eat when we sleep. Intermittent Fasting isn’t so much a new concept, but an expansion of our biological evolution.

Week of Eats

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?

Spatchcock Chicken

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!

Salmon Croquettes

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.

2020 Word of the Year: MOMENTUM

Flashback to 364 days and some odd hours ago – January 1, 2019. I established my word of the year as PURSUIT.

If you’re not familiar, a word of the year sums up the primary principle or philosophy that will guide how you choose to live – directing hundreds of thousands of choices day-in and day-out – for the next 365 days and beyond. Rather than spurring a list of insurmountable outcome-based goals longer than a CVS receipt, a word of the year consolidates your desired achievements into an actionable value or belief.

2019 was about pursuing each and every one of my goals – big or small, mental or physical – with bravery, with gut, and with heart. It was a year of beginning, of risk, and of chance.

As I sit here, 364 days and some odd hours later, it’s with swelling pride that I can write – I’m not starting 2020 from a stagnant place. From a seed. From a spark. I’m already moving, growing, and burning.

And so I hereby declare my word of 2020 to be… MOMENTUM.

Momentum (n) The force + energy gained by a moving body; From Latin momentum, “movement, moving power”; Figurative use, “force gained by movement, impelling force”

Much like pursuit, MOMENTUM is not about a product, but a process. This year, however, it’s about capitalizing on an existing catalyst.

Don’t get it twisted. MOMENTUM is not about a cyclical “on to the next one” mentality. It’s about a deep-rooted sense of security and stability in my systems, skills, behaviors that serves as a platform for possibility. It’s about identifying and leveraging areas of potential. It’s about awareness, acknowledgment, and adaptation.

Nor is MOMENTUM about coasting on cruise control. It’s not about reacting or succumbing to circumstance. Rather than auto-pilot, it’s about autonomy.

The idea of MOMENTUM in the sense of a rolling stone isn’t quite right for me. As that type of MOMENTUM restricts motion along a single line, implying a linear, passive trajectory with little control over speed, coordination, or accuracy. In the end, the stone is still the stone. It hasn’t changed, it’s merely in a different place. And it got there by the path of least resistance.

No, that’s most certainly not for me.

I imagine something fluid, yet precise. Swimming upstream in open water. A paintbrush gliding over a blank canvas. Oil cutting through vinegar. The stride after summiting the hill that peaks halfway through your 5k route. This kind of MOMENTUM requires a combination of knowledge, persistence, discipline, and mastery. This kind of momentum is active and productive. This kind of momentum is messy and unexpected.

As far as we know, MOMENTUM is a conserved quantity. In physics, conservation of momentum states that the total amount of momentum of all the things in the universe will never change unless, of course, acted on by a force outside the system.

And so MOMENTUM can not exist without impetus (n), the force or energy with which a body moves; the force that makes something happen.

MOMENTUM can not be realized without motivation, stimulus, incentive, and encouragement.

And thus, MOMENTUM is a measure of kinetic energy – or, how much work is needed to move an object. According to Crossfit – oh, and ya know, physics again – work is defined as the energy transfer that occurs when an object is moved over a distance by an external force.

In that, MOMENTUM is methodical. It dictates just what has to be done, just how hard you have to hustle, to not only maintain motion, but gain force.

The law of MOMENTUM states than an object in motion will stay in motion, until it meets a resisting force.

The very nature of MOMENTUM predicts obstacles, friction, setbacks, and roadblocks. From the very beginning, MOMENTUM anticipates the possibility of failure. It’s not to say MOMENTUM is finite, but rather that MOMENTUM allows for redirect and asks for perseverance.

And finally, MOMENTUM is relative. It’s frame-dependent. Meaning that my MOMENTUM is all my own. By any direction, any speed, any means – how I perceive MOMENTUM is all about my perspective.

There will be moments of discomfort and challenge, of that I am certain. But even more so, I am certain that my MOMENTUM will be a force to be reckoned with.

Tell me, what’s your word of 2020?

If you’re feeling stuck or perpetually pondering, allow these prompts to guide you:

  1. Spend some time imagining what you want your life to look like. What kind of person do you really want to be or become? Time is going to pass, no matter what. Who will you be when it does? How do you describe yourself? What do you believe and value? How do you speak, think, and socialize? Describe the mental vision you imagine.
  2. Write down the characteristics of that person you want to become. Describe them. Get to know them, from the inside out. What’s her heart like? What character traits does he have? What drives her? What are his best qualities? What disappoints her? What brings him joy?
  3. Make a list of words that sum up that description or that conjure up an image of that vision you started with. It can include nouns (such as peace or joy), adjectives (like thoughtful or brave), verbs (like create or pause) or even prepositions (like with or in).
  4. Then whittle your list down to the one word that resonate most with you. Take some time to look up your short list in a dictionary or thesaurus. Browse quotes. Educate yourself on their etymology. Spend some time digging into what each word means – to the world, and to you. And then decide on the one that feels right, free of judgement.
  5. Apply action to your words. Establishing your word is one thing, but outlining how you will apply it and act on it is the step that breeds behavior and ultimately, results. And then, get to it.

Week of Eats

It’s that week. You know, the one between The Holidays and New Years when you have no idea what day of the week it is and your stuck somewhere between soaking up every last bit of sweet (savory) freedom and reinstating your routine.

With the exception of a few more meals coming from someone else’s kitchen and a slight uptick in greek yogurt bowls, My eating habits don’t change much at all during The Holidays because they’re just that – my habits and preferences.

When I first started my Fitness Journey one day in April 2016 by choosing stop over snooze as a 7 a.m. alarm chimed, crunching out every rep of a living room core workout, and blending up a (chunky AF) “superfood” smoothie… I was a not-very-healthy human in healthy gal’s clothing, playing the part of a person who loved exercise and eating nutritious food. When faced with the choice to sleep in or rise n’ grind, I asked myself, “What would the healthy human do?” And I did that. When faced with the option of grease or greens, I asked myself, “What would the healthy human do?” And I did that. Over and over again, with hundreds of choices big and small, I acted like the healthy human until one day, years later, I actually was her.

Today, I identify with the person I once intended to be – someone energized, confident, and self-aware who prioritized health, happiness, and habits through nutrition and fitness. And so, I have no desire to act in avoidance of my values and beliefs, no matter what the time of year.

Read more on that and download a FREE Wellness Workbook in my latest blog: The Magic Pill

All of that said written, let’s take a whiff of how I’m marinating, roasting and sautéing into the next decade.

Spatchcock Chicken

Almost every Sunday, I bake up this simple, versatile, flavorful butterflied bird for supper… and lunch, and another lunch. This week’s marinade is a lemon tuscan herb rub. I’ll be plating my portion with my latest craving craze: sautéed shaved brussels and cauliflower with hazelnut and rosemary asiago. Mo’s will get served with with steamed sweet potato, and we’ll share sides of salad and roasted carrot.

Dijon Herb Pork Tenderloin

‘Tis the turn of a calendar year y’all, and in true Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, that means pork and sauerkraut. I’ll be dishing up our good fortune with a dijon herb marinated tenderloin seared and steamed to pressure in my InstantPot with apple and cabbage, all topped with a smooth and savory pan sauce of broth and apple cider vinegar and served over cauliflower mash.

Pomegranate Chicken Thigh

ICYMI, I whipped up a finger lickin’ good Christmas dinner salad of pear an pomegranate atop a bed of baby kale, arugula, and spinach. It was so well liked by Mo’s flavor-loving fam, my MIL left with what little leftovers remained in the bowl. Despite leaving dinner empty handed (trust me, it’s a win!), I did have leftover pomegranate seeds that needed using up. And this is how my brain works… I typed “Pomegranate Chicken” into the google machine and scrolled the pages until I found a few recipes to inspire my own culinary creation. I’ll be serving mine with (you guessed it) brussels, kale, and cauli and Mo’s with rice.

Halibut

Did you know the American Heart Association recommends a minimum of two servings of fish or seafood – particularly fatty fish – per week? Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna boast heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. It’s why I’ve established Thursday “Fish Night” in the Coll-Kim household and personally aim to consume salmon 3 times during the weekend. Whole Foods had a killer sale on thick and juicy halibut filets a few weeks back that I’ll be defrosting and either baking with lemon and herbs or poaching with coconut curry… let’s see where the cravings take us.

Breakfasts

For my fave meal of the day, I’m cooking up familiar flavors like turkey bacon wrapped egg cups to be plated with salad and breaky brussels n’ onion and, despite cold temps, will be catering to a cool, crunchy craving with a bistro box of jammy eggs, smoked salmon, and veggies galore.

Snacks

Once again, leaning on my go-to rolodex of meals with cottage cheese or greek yogurt power bowls, bistro boxes, or collard wraps.