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.

The Magic Pill

When I connect with potential clients for the very first time, our conversation typically commences by shrouding The Goal – you know, the capital-G end-game G-O-A-L looming in an unknown and unknowable galaxy far, far away – in a cloud of circumstantial causation. It sounds like this:

“I just really want to lose 20 pounds, for good. But I’ve tried everything – every Diet – and nothing works. I have no willpower and I have a nagging sweet tooth and I just don’t love vegetables.”

By the end of our fifteen-minute discovery session unpacking that initial introduction, we conclude that a change in body composition isn’t so much the result we desire, but a by-product of something much more than skin-deep – identity and behavior change.

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

All ’round the globe, from coast to coast and sea to shining sea, people are resolving to change. But how long before goals are abandoned, left to collect dust on the top shelf, far out of reach? I’ll let you in on a little (big) secret that will change the way you approach – and achieve – goals.

If you ask me, it seems everyone is so caught up in toning their arms or building their booty, they forget to shape their character. Their identity. Their integrity. It’s your insides that shape your outsides. It’s who you are at your core – your values and how you act on them – thats sculpts your reflection.

I don’t even mean this metaphorically, I mean it quite literally.

If you’re looking to commit to a change, like put-a-ring-on-it commit, then I say stop focusing on results and start focusing on your identity. Become the type of person who can achieve the things you want to achieve.

Set behavior-based goals and build identity-based habits now. The results can (and will) come later.

It works like this: when most people set goals, they choose an outcome they’d like to reach.

Outcome-based goals focus on the end-result.

I will lose 20 pounds

I want to Squat my body weight

I’ll stop smoking

I will get sober

Sound familiar? That’s because you’ve likely been there, done (or should I say, didn’t do) that.

Outcome-based goals are problematic, and often so difficult to accomplish, because they put more emphasis on circumstantial causation than personal choice and control. Outcome-based goals look at the long-term, and despite any amount of desire or desperation, they can quickly feel too distant, lofty, or insurmountable. Outcome-based goals don’t often address the root cause for wanting change, which makes it difficult to stick to it when the course gets slippery.

Outcome-based goals focus on the end-result… but don’t put emphasis on what happens between now and then or here and there.

I’m not telling you to never ever set a goal. Far from it. I’m telling you to set behavior-based goals and better yet, identity-based intentions, instead.

Behavior-based goals focus on actions and process.

Behavior-based goals create conditions that make the chances of an outcome or result more likely. Behavior-based goals look more closely at the short-term, emphasizing attainable action items that can be implemented consistently and repeatedly. Behavior-based goals consider the catalyst for change, bringing clarity to the why behind the how and the what.

Behavior-based goals focus on actions and process… emphasizing what happens between now and then or here and there.

But 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).

You are what you do, and you do what you are.

No matter how S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) a goal is, you’ll be hard pressed to stick to it if you don’t believe yourself the type of person who can, will, and wants to.

If you want to accomplish your goals, and maintain the results long-term, you have to identify with the behaviors necessary to achieve them.

Any which way we look at it, identity is at the root of achieving goals.

Who you are (identity) impacts what you do (behavior) and dictates what you have (outcome).

Or…

What you have (outcome) is a product of what you do (behavior) which is directed by who you are (identity).

When we give up on a goal, we often chalk it up to self-sabotage. But the actions we take that prevent us from our goals aren’t self-sabotage, they’re self-reflective – a mirror-image of who we believe ourselves to be.

Whoever you identify with now, you believe it because you have recurring proof:

  • If you identify as somebody with a slow metabolism or genetic predisposition to a certain body composition – the number on the scale reinforces that every day.
  • If you identify as somebody with no self control – the empty ice cream containers in your trash can reinforce that with each additional pint polished off.
  • If you identify as someone who is “too busy,” – the structure of your to-do list reinforces your priorities (or lack there of) daily.

In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear writes:

“Once you have adopted an identity, it can be easy to let your allegiance to it impact your ability to change. Many people walk through life in a cognitive slumber, blindly following the norms attached to their identity.

When you have repeated a story to yourself for years (or decades), it is easy to slide into these mental grooves and accept them as a fact. In time, you begin to resist certain actions because ‘that’s not who I am.’ There is internal pressure to maintain your self-image and behave in a way that is consistent with your beliefs.”

James Clear, Atomic Habits

So you can imagine how difficult it is to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs about yourself that dictate your behavior.

Each action you perform is driven by the fundamental belief that it is possible. So if you change your identity (the type of person that you believe that you are), then it’s easier to change your actions.

So, how do you even begin to change your identity?

Fake it ’til you make it.

Listen, I am all for authenticity. But in this case, I give you full permission to fake it ’til you make it.

An identity-based habit is formed by acting like the person you want to be, until you actually become them. 

Although it seems like this crazy complicated concept, changing your identity can be done with two simple steps:

  1. Decide who you want to be
  2. Prove it to yourself

Every choice you make will either act in accordance or avoidance of your identity. So with each choice, ask yourself, “what would they do?”

How does the person who has what you want act? Eat? Train? Think? Speak? Work? What do they prioritize? What do they enjoy?

And then do that. Until one day, it’s not what they would do, but what you do.

Work backwards to move forwards.

Outcomes are about what you get (“I lost weight”).

To achieve a goal, start first by establishing the outcome you desire. You don’t have to put too much thought here. Honestly, it’s okay if the goal is skin-deep. It’s perched on a pedestal now but trust me, it’s hardly going to mean a thing as we keep going.

Behavior is about what you do (“I meal plan and prep weekly, eat mostly nutrient-dense foods, and exercise regularly”).

Then, outline the actions, processes, and habits necessary to achieve that outcome. This should come easily to you. Truth is, for the most part, we know what it takes to achieve a goal.

Identity is about what you believe (“I am a healthful, energized, active human.”)

And finally, determine what type of person performs these actions and processes regularly. What do they value, prioritize, and believe? Here’s where it gets more than skin-deep. Where the soul-searching and self-discovery happens.

The real challenge is not defining the outcome and determining if you want the result – everybody wants to be an olympian, an award-winning author, a millionaire, accomplished, successful – but if you are willing to accept the sacrifices and compromises and actions required to achieve your goal. Do you want the journey that comes with your destination? Do you want the difficult – and sometimes boring and ugly process – that comes before the exciting and glamorous product?

In other (key)words, outcomes are about the what, processes are about the how, and identity is about the why. And the why is how you get what you want.

Ultimately, it’ll look like this:

  • Goal: lose 10 pounds To be a healthy, self-confident person.
  • Goal: stick to [insert Diet] To value nutrition and nourishment.
  • Goal: squat 300 pounds To be a strong person who prioritizes strength training
  • Goal: run a marathon To be a runner.

And that’s when you’ll have it – The Magic Pill. The prescription – rather, a set of behaviors, beliefs, systems, and skills – for successfully achieving any goal and sustaining results.

Discover your core values, limiting factors, and bright spots with my FREE Wellness Worksheet: The Magic Pill.

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).

Recipe: Sweet + Savory Breakfast Bake

I don’t measure a thing when I cook… I just sprinkle, shake, and add until I hear my culinary spirit guides whisper, “that’s enough, child.”

It’s been a minute since I’ve developed an official recipe for you – aside from the many culinary concoctions that frame my Instagram stories on the daily – because, well, that ^^^

Alas, the cold temps are comin’ in cold and this winter-inspired Savory + Sweet Breakfast Bake is comin’ in HOT.

You know the drill – as always, this recipe is:

  • Meal Prep Friendly
  • Macro-minded
  • Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • Flavorful, satiating, and satisfying

Sweet + Savory Breakfast Bake

Yields 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cooking oil, divided (I used a delicious mushroom sage infused blend from Lebherz Oils!)
  • 1-2 tbsp bone broth for browning meat (can sub additional oil, if needed)
  • 4 oz ground chicken breast
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup egg white
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium (200 g) apple, chopped
  • 1/2 small (300 g) butternut squash, cubed (acorn or delicata also work)
  • 3 heaping cups chopped kale, lightly steamed
  • Savory Spice Blend: 1/2 tbsp Primal Palate Amore seasoning (sub a combination of Garlic, Rosemary, Onion, Oregano, Thyme, Basil, Parsley, Red Chili Flakes), 1 tsp fennel seed, 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • Sweet Spice Blend: 1 tbsp Primal Palate Breakfast Blend (sub a combination of Himalayan Pink Salt, Garlic, Onion, Oregano, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Sage), 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • While the oven comes to temperature, assemble cubed butternut squash on a parchment lined baking tray and brush lightly with preferred cooking oil.
  • Bake butternut squash for ~30 minutes, shaking every 10, until squash is tender and edges start to caramelize.
  • While the squash bakes, prepare the remaining components of the casserole as follows:
  • Add preferred cooking oil to a pan over medium-low heat. When it’s warm, toss in onion and cook until translucent, browned, and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  • Add ground chicken to the pan with 1-2 tbsp bone broth, or more oil, and lightly brown over medium-low heat, about 5-7 minutes. When the meat is mostly brown, add the Savory Spice Blend and mix thoroughly to combine.
  • Add chopped apple to the pan and lightly sauté, about 2-3 minutes.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine steamed kale, roasted squash, and chicken & apple mixture and toss thoroughly.
  • Transfer to baking vessel lightly coated with cooking spray of choice and evenly distribute the mixture across the surface of the dish.
  • In the mixing bowl, whisk 8 eggs with 1/2 cup egg white until fully combined. Add in the Sweet Spice Blend and fold until evenly distributed throughout.
  • Pour the egg mixture over top the fillings in the baking dish, mixing with a spoon or spatula if needed.
  • Bake in the previously preheated oven until edges are golden and eggs are set, about 30-35 minutes.
  • Allow to set before serving, or allow to cool completely before transferring to a storage container.
  • Stack it high and serve with a side salad or cup of fresh berries – yum!

Week of Eats 1216

Receipts rejoice! I was way under my $200 grocery budget this week, tallying $178! This means one of two very different things. 1) I forgot a bunch of stuff or 2) I was extremely efficient with maximizing some Staple Stock Ups and leftover produces. After making my list and checking it twice… good news! It appears the latter is true.

$200 per week yields roughly 60 meals for myself and Mo between post-workout recovery, breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners – not to mention licks, bites, and tastes, nibbles and munchies, and of course, desserts. That comes out to $3.33 per meal! Hot dang, I’ll call that a freakin’ steal.

Here’s what the protein, produce, and packaged products of that spend are serving up this week:

Let’s kick it off with my weekend ideas (not pictured in the plan above, but most def accounted for on my expanded spreadsheet). I like to loosely draft up some dishes I’m craving, usually ones that are some combination of the following:
a) kitchen clean-out inspired, maximizing Staple Stock Ups or leftovers
b) a bit more complex or time consuming to make or plate
c) comforting and cozy
d) something Mo doesn’t prefer
e) all of the above


As it currently stands, I’m day-drooling over my Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole (method in this blog), Spaghetti Squash Egg Bake, a Create Your Own Pizza experience – Cali’flour Foods crust for me (use the code FITLICITY and save some dough on your dough), or perhaps some air fried Fish Sticks. We’ll see where the belly takes me and you can follow along on my stories, daily!

Sunday Night supper is… you guessed it – Spatchcock Chicken! Peep my method in this post. I’ll be plating it up with some combination of my favorite veggies: cauliflower and brussels!

The minute I scrolled up this Italian Sausage Kale Casserole, I knew it would have a place in my plan! I had leftover mushrooms and kale in the fridge, always have marinara in my pantry, and was immediately excited by the cozy vibes of the dish. I’ll modify the recipe to yield four servings, plating mine with Cauli Mash a la fitlicity, Mo’s with roasted carrot, and a salad shared between us.

Our ButcherBox was delivered (Ranch Steaks included) just in time to inspire a recipe a promised I would repEAT, Thai Basil Beef Stir Fry! By marinating the beef over the weekend and combining the veggies night-of, I recall this combo being the perfect partial-prep recipe that boasted amazing flavor and kudos from Mo! We’ll both get our portions dished up with rice (white for Mo, cauli for me) and blanched broccoli. Yum!

Leveraging yet another repEAT recipe, Tandoori Chicken is in rotation this week. I’ll make up the marinade ahead of time, and air fry the thighs night-of for optimal flavor and freshness. You’ll see it paired with a lemon-herb yogurt sauce and plated my with one of my favorite sides of the season: roasted shredded brussels, cauliflower, and grapes.

If all goes according to plan and I whip up a small batch of Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole this weekend, I’ll have some leftover ground meat that I plan on combining with some chopped shrimp and Primal Palate adobo seasoning for some flavorful patties inspired by one of my favorite meal prep friendly recipes!

I’ll round out the eats with breakfasts – Egg Cups a la fitlicity and a sweet n’ savory Winter Squash Breakfast Bake (recipe coming!) – and snacks – cottage cheese power bowls, collard wraps, bistro boxes, and more!

Did any of these dishes spark your palate and get penciled into your plan? Let me know!

Week of Eats 1209

Guess who’s back? Back again.

Y’all, I missed blogging about the delicious and nutritious menu I laid forth for the week ahead. Alas, I found myself needing to prioritize productivity as I took on some new layers of my career which also happens to be my lifestyle, and it left me hard pressed to carve out a corner of my mental capacity to even scribble down my plan, let alone form full sentences around it. But to know me as you know me is to know that I L-O-V-E meal planning and preparation with a passion hotter than a Fabio romance novel jacket. It’s my flow state that leaves me feelin’ tingly with pride and endorphins. And it’s not that *snap* instant gratification kinda feeling, it’s that long lasting, this was a future investment for myself, sustenance kinda feeling. Sweet, savory, sustenance. What I’m trying to say is, it brings me joy, and if can bring you just a little bit of inspiration, my joy doubles. So here’s to drafting (much more concise) versions of this blog and cataloguing my inspiration, planning, and preparation over on my Highlights. Without further ado, the Week of Eats that breaks the dry spell…

As alluded in rambling paragraph number one, some things have changed since my last published meal plan! I launched a group nutrition program (Cycle 2 kicks off January 5!), picked up coaching two CrossFit classes at my home Box, switched up grocery haul to Friday morning to maximize my time (and my sleep), and got into the groove out outlining my menu in an online spreadsheet, just like my clients do! Don’t worry. My cart is still filled with brussels and I still eat Spatchock chicken every week… not that much has changed.

Speaking of Spatchcock Chicken… this looks-way-fancier-than-it-is dish is on the menu every Sunday (or sometimes Monday) ’round this neck of the ‘burbs. I love how home-y, simple, and versatile this protein is. Plus, a 3.5 lb bird yields Mo and I about 5 meals throughout the week. I coat my chicken with a generous mixture of ghee, dijon mustard, and freshly chopped herbs (rosemary, sage, and thyme) and stuff the pockets under the skin with quartered lemon and onion. I serve mine with my fave veggies (usually brussels and onion, cauliflower, or a big ol’ kale salad) and Mo’s gets plated with his fave sides (rice and blanched broccoli or roasted carrot).

Here’s how I do it:

  • Spatchcock your chicken by removing the breast bone and giving the ribs a good crack so that it lies flat in a pan. If that sounds totally gross or totally too time-consuming for you – I can promise, it’s neither! – opt to buy it pre-prepared. Check out this video for a follow-along visual.
  • In a bowl, mix your marinade by combining 1/2 tbsp melted ghee with 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and sage and 1 tsp dijon mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. On the side, quarter one white onion and one lemon.
  • Prepare your chicken by first using your fingers to carefully create pockets between the skin and meat of the breasts, thighs, and legs. Then, massage your marinade across the entire chicken, distributing evenly under the pockets and on top of the skin. Finally, wedge onion and lemon quarters in the largest pockets between the breasts and at the thighs. Reserve leftover onion and lemon for storage and baking.
  • Transfer your chicken to a large, shallow dish. Add remaining onion and lemon quarters, cover, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, but best overnight.
  • When you’re ready to cook, allow the chicken to rest on the counter for about 30 minutes prior to heating. Option to bake in your storage dish if oven-safe, or transfer to a different vessel. I prefer to roast my Spatchcock Chicken on a wire rack that allows the heat to fully circulate the entire surface of my bird. I stack a wire rack on top of a tinfoil lined baking sheet to catch my pan drippings (best drizzled atop the chicken before eating… drool!). For easy flipping, spear your chicken with two skewers through either breast and thigh before placing in the oven.
  • In a 425 degree oven, roast your chicken breast-side up for 40 minutes. Flip, and roast breast-side down for 15-20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165.
  • To finish, broil chicken breast-side up for 10 minutes, or until skin is crispy (but not charred!).
  • Optional but recommended: eat hedonistically with hands.

For the last few weeks, I have been salivating thinking of a totally that-hit-the-spot combo I whipped up around this time last year – BBQ Chicken Thighs paired with Braised Kale and Caramelized Onions and Roasted Brussels, of course. The only thing stopping me, the dark, cold night separating me from my grill. I wanted that crispy yet juicy texture! But organic dino kale was a Pie Deal at Whole Foods this week, so it had to happen. Me and my palate are pleased to say “so long” to those grill-woes after recently discovering the nom-factor of cooking chicken thighs in my air fryer (previously had only used to rehEAT). I could stand outside and grill in my headlamp and beanie… or I could stay in the comfort of my slippers and set the air fryer to manual. I’ll take the latter!

Healthy Hint: Buy Primal Palate blends (hashtag not sponsored just love). You guys. I know I’m capable of creating my own spice blends, but I also know (from experience and experiment) that my culinary concoctions can’t come anywhere close to Primal Palate blends.

Despite cold temps and classic comfort cravings, soup doesn’t always do it for me. Especially when all the contents are blended into one puree. But this InstantPot Veggie and Chicken Soup looks like a big ol’ mouthful sure to satisfy my brain and belly with eat bite. The turmeric and ginger separate got my senses excited, and I love that the recipe calls for Bonafide Provisions bone broth, which I have stocked as a freezer staple! In the theme of staples (always set up for success, y’all), I’ll be adding one of my many pantry staples, Palmini “pasta,” to my bowl and tortellini to Mo’s. We’ll enjoy cozied ’round the coffee table with a shared side salad and How I Met Your Mother.

Healthy Hint: the act of meal planning (and preparation) actually amps up the anticipation for the food you are going to eat, which serves up a big ol’ mouthful of increased pleasure and satisfaction when it comes time to eat what you’ve planned!

I’ve said (and written) it before and I’ll say (and write) it again, as much as I love cooking and create many of my own culinary originals, I also love that full-time recipe developers are out there doin’ it for me. Use your resources y’all! Rarely do I follow a recipe down to the TBSP of ghee – I experiment, modify to meet my needs, and leverage as inspiration! I’ll be putting that principle into practice with these Enchilada Skillet Meatballs, swapping the ground beef for ground chicken and leaving the meatballs undone… So, for me, it’ll be Enchilada Skillet Meatballs. I’ll be serving mine over riced cauliflower and zucchini and Mo’s over white rice. We’ll enjoy a crunchy romaine side salad from a big shared bowl.

Thursday night is Fish (or seafood) Night in our house. And this week I’m planning another recipe turned inspiration for my own madness (creative genius?)… Shrimp Stir Fry inspired by this Chinese-inspired Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry dish. I’ll be using the sauce (and the InstantPot) but whipping it up night-of with jumbo shrimp and some additional veggies – think snap pea, bell pepper, and zucchini!

For breakfasts, I’ll be prepping what I hope is a NEW RECIPE for you! **drumroll please** An Acorn Squash and Apple Breakfast Bake sure to please lovers of savory and sweet. Plus, Prosciutto Egg Cups a la @fitlicity and of course, Breaky Brussels n’ Onions – methods for both of which can be found on my “Food” Highlight on the ‘gram.

Do you meal plan? And if so, do you stick to it? Why or why drop? Drop me some insight in the comments. I may have a tip, trick, or healthy hint up my sleeve!

xo,
Al

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.

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!