Week of Eats .007

If you follow along with me on the ‘gram, you may have caught on that as July faded into August (how?!), the past two weeks of my life were each truncated by a lack of routine and no lack of social structure. Even though this meant minimal meal preparation and limited nutritional control, it also meant more good things than I could count on my fingers and toes combined, like standing by my friends as they said, “I do” and an impromptu trip to Madison, Wisconsin to spectate the 2019 CrossFit Games with my boo (thanks, ROMWOD!!). Of course the complete lack of vegetables at breakfast (cringe!) was completely worth it, but I won’t deny I’m happy to be back perched on my couch, drafting this blog, sharing my brain child (aka my weekly meal plan) with all of you. If a break from routine is sweet (that Chocolate Shoppe ice cream, though), return to routine is mighty savory. Let’s eat, shall we?

When I first saw the word spatchcock I was all ~ WTF is that ~ ?! It sounded like something I didn’t want to eat, but the picture that accompanied the description sure looked like something that had to grace my tastebuds. So, to the interweb I went! This funky little descriptive term describes a technique for preparing a whole chicken in which the backbone is removed and the bird is split and flattened before cooking. The benefits? More flavor due to the increased surface area to soak up marinade, shorter cooking time, and more exposed skin to get nice n’ crispy. I’m going to pretend I wasn’t born and raised in the North East when I tell you, I love few things in life more than crispy chicken skin, y’all. I’m going to marinade my whole chicken according to this recipe, and the jury is still out on whether I grill or bake the bird. I’ll pair it with a lemony salad of crunchy fennel, green beans, and leafy greens of choice.

In the hopes of receiving my bi-monthly Butcher Box, and in an effort to increase my lucine-rich protein intake to maintain muscle mass during half marathon training, I wanted to plan a red-meat based dish for this week. Spoiler alert: my box o’ meat didn’t ship when I expected, but my pal Jenn received hers, and she leant me a package of her grass-fed ground beef protein ๐Ÿ™ Thank the heavens for likeminded friends, because inspiration already struck something fierce during my weekly fridge, freezer, and pantry inventory when residual tomato sauce and ricotta sang a siren song of Lasagna. Of course on my plate, it’s gonna be veggie-based. To Pinterest I went! The options were endless, from zucchini to eggplant to cauliflower, but I landed on… CABBAGE. I’ll be sure to record and share how I modify this recipe to make it a bit more macro-minded. I’ll be serving up my portion with a side of perfectly roasted, never soggy, eggplant. Pro-tip: the key to crispy eggplant is parchment paper and limited oil (just a mist will do!).

One of my favorite mindless yet uber nutritious and delicious meals is a big ol’ one-pan stir fry. Identify your protein and flavor profile, pick some produce, and **bam**! That’s Emeril for cook and devour! I’m going for a Cashew Chicken vibe with peppers, snap pea, and broccoli.

Listen, I don’t plan anything I don’t like or I’m not craving, but there’s always one meal on the menu that stands out as a star among the rest, and I am fully DROOLING over these Grilled Buffalo Chicken Tenders already. I’m not sure if I’m more excited for the protein, or my planned side: a gorgeous medley of roasted brussels sprouts, grapes, and blue cheese.

Since Mo opts out of meal-prepped lunch on Friday, Thursday night dinners typically consists single serving dishes made fresh, and I can get ultra creative knowing that the reheatability factor is a non-issue. This week, a super summery pairing of air fried Coconut Shrimp, Golden Jicama Fries, a cucumber tomato salad, and a cilantro-lime yogurt dipping sauce. Close runner up to the start meal on the menu, but with a bit of a complicating cooking process and uncharted territory, it’s fingers crossed that all goes according to plan!

Whether they’re on my meal plan or not, I always whip up a batch of hard boiled eggs for grab-and-go snacks, quick protein boosters, or pre-WOD weekend fuel. Don’t get me wrong, I was so grateful that my hotel had a complimentary breakfast that consisted of some foods that aligned with my preferences and palate, but damn, Hyatt, if those hard boiled eggs weren’t waaaaay overcooked. Here’s the key to the perfectly jammy hard boiled egg:

  • Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.
  • Once boiling, place eggs in carefully! Do not put the eggs in before the water boils. If you’re worried about that old cracking myth, try allowing your eggs to come to room temp before cooking for extra precautions.
  • Boil for 7 minutes.
  • Immediately transfer eggs to an ice bath for 10 minutes
  • Store in shells in the fridge for 5-6 days! Peel as you go. The longer they sit in the fridge, the easier they will be to peel.

Here’s a glimpse of how it’s all coming together in my week at-a-glance:

Sober-ish

If I sat my LBF (life before fitlicity) self down and told her that, in four years time, she’d abstain from alcohol, I am fairly completely certain she would laugh boldy in my face. But I’d look her right in the eye with a knowing confidence because โ€“ being that I’m hypothetically from the future and all โ€“ it’s the truth.

As I write this, it’s been almost a year since my last sip of alcohol, which was a modest pour of a dry white wine, that I enjoyed with my newly-appointed husband as the sun set into a technicolor horizon from the beaches of Canggu, Bali. Before that, my last drink was a Miller Lite on the dance floor at our wedding, that was later used to play a bust-a-move dance circle version of Spin the Bottle. And before that, I’m not entirely sure. I vividly remember (or, don’t remember at all) the last time I was actually drunk was the year prior to that, at my surprise engagement party in April of 2018.

And even though the last year without alcohol has been one of the very best years of my life โ€“ maintaining a loving marriage, fitness PRs and skill development, achieving three professional nutrition & fitness certifications, starting and sustaining a thriving business, changing my career path โ€“ there was a time when I repeatedly stated, with steadfast assurance, that I would never, ever be willing to give up drinking alcohol (read: getting drunk) in my pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.

A brief-ish history of my relationship with alcohol

Born and bred into a very social family, drinking alcohol and getting drunk have been a part of my life for as long as I have memories. No matter the occasion โ€“ celebrating or mourning โ€“ or lack there of โ€“ just casually ’cause โ€“ my familial circle raised a glass to that. And, I liked it. Don’t get me wrong, I still do! My family is loving, sensitive, supportive, wild, fun, emotional, and they also happen to hang.

Mom, if you’re reading this, close your eyes ๐Ÿ˜‰ My personal alcohol consumption began in high school, with swiped bottles of literally who-knows-what and contraband cans of cheap light beer that seemingly materialized out of thin air. My (parents’) humble home may or may not have become known as The Party House come my senior year. Transitioning into college, alcohol became a larger part of what I viewed as my intrinsic identity. I joined a sorority that had the reputation of partying harder than most fraternities. I could “handle” my liquor, but I preferred beer. You know, like a cool girl. I believed I could drink most of my friends under the table, and would take any opportunity to prove myself right. I had my own personal beer bong that was lovingly christened “Katniss” because I wore it, from party to party, secured across my body with a piece of pink string, not unlike The Hunger Games heroine’s trusted bow and arrow. I was resilient, either sleeping through hardly-there hangovers, soaking them up with a greasy bacon egg and cheese on a kaiser roll, or chasing them with another round of drinks. For four years, weekends (and weeknights) were spent in strange and familiar rooms filled with strange and familiar people holding bottles, and bags, and cans, red Solo cups in hand. But hey, I graduated Magna Cum Laude, so let it be known that I had my brains and booze, too. Post-graduation, the bottom of a cold, tall beer was a social safe-haven at the end of a long, stressful day. Where alcohol consumption may have decreased in frequency, it must have doubled in volume. My body and mind were less willing to rebound, so I learned to navigate life with a hangover โ€“ and by that I mean I learned how to nurse a pounding headache with fried, greasy takeout, a cold shower, and a permanent fetal position on the couch. I without a doubt drank with the sole intention to get drunk… and then some. Drunk Guilts and Sunday Scaries and Alcohol Anxiety were regular states of mind, cloudying my brain in murky and solemn thoughts. But despite any destructive side-effects, the main event โ€“ the memories, as I hardly remember them โ€“ were fun.

So, despite deciding to put an end to living my life in a constant state of dissatisfied autopilot, it makes sense that, at the time, I wouldn’t consider alcohol as a factor I was willing to change.

A healthy-ish approach to alcohol

When I set out on my quest to get healthy, I am certain that my vision was skin deep shallow with sights set on six-pack abs, which is why I was reluctant to imagine a future without six-packs of beer. As I went along, though, and my daily acts of nutrition and fitness built into practices that started resembling habits, I realized that I quite enjoyed the way I felt when I made healthy food and activity a priority. And, slowly but surely, I also learned that alcohol had a tendency to get in the way of that.

Here’s a consolidated timeline of how this realization went:

  • Phase I: When I was out-and-about, I did my best with my newly formed knowledge to make food selections “lean, clean, and green” and “approved” according to the guidelines of the meal-plan based challenge I was following, even when inebriated. Who cared if I was consuming half my daily calorie requirement in beer, I was eating turkey burgers without the bun!
  • Phase II: Instead of skipping meals to “save room” for alcohol and the drunk munchies that came with it, I’d actually eat my prepped meals and snacks according to the meal-plan based challenge I was following. Woo! This was a win.
  • Phase III: I started bringing my own better-for-you snacks to the pre-game or house party, drunk munchies shifted from pizza rolls and mozzarella sticks to the likes of Cheerios & almond milk, protein bars, and carrots & hummus, and hangover meals lost the grease and gained some nutrients, in the form of protein pancakes or sprouted grain “french toast”.
  • Phase IV: I stopped drinking with the intention to get drunk. This was a monumental milestone. At first, I had to consciously practice this by setting limits for how many drinks I was willing to consume within a certain time frame. I said “no thank you” when people offered me boozy beverages and added more water into my liquid diet. Over time, I drank less and less. 5 drinks became 3, became 1, sometimes became none. When I drank but stopped before the threshold of drunkness, I realized (or perhaps finally admitted) the impact alcohol had on my life, beyond being a catalyst for less-than nutritious food choices and inactivity. It’s depressive qualities lowered and slowed far more than my neural and motor function in the instance of intoxication. It heightened my anxiety and lead me to feel less-than-proud of my choices, thoughts, and intentions. More often than not it made me question, why am I even doing this to myself โ€“ my body, my mind?
  • Phase V: I found enjoyment in alcohol-centric settings without being drunk. Another monumental milestone, and the realization that sealed the deal in my preference for sobriety. When I realized that I could have fun โ€“ and be fun โ€“ at social settings and in the company of drinking or drunk people, declining boozy beverages was easy. Honestly, I have more fun being sober! Instead of standing there glassy eyed, my ass is the first one on the dance floor and the last one off. Plus, I’ll make sure all my friends are taken care of with food and rides at the end of the night โ€“ I am the MVP ๐Ÿ˜‰ If I didn’t need alcohol to talk, or dance, or make people laugh, and if alcohol didn’t support anything else in my life, why did I need it? It’s here that I came to the personal decision that… I didn’t.

I should note: I broke these down into clear phases punctuated by neat and tidy edges, but in reality they flowed into one another, seamlessly and slowly over time.

My sober-ish life

As my daily actions became the habits that eventually reshaped my identity, it became clear I no longer resonated with someone who could “hold their own,” “handle their liquor,” or found pleasure in the act or effects of drinking. And because the very root of my entire evolution over the last four years is marked by a desperate attempt to reclaim intention in my life, I choose not to engage with activities, people, or things that don’t align with or support my identity. For me, that meant exploring a life without the consumption of alcohol.

It’s important for me to clearly state that my choice to abstain from alcohol is not motivated by body composition goals. It’s motivated by my personal desire to demonstrate intentional self-respect and support myself completely โ€“ mentally, emotionally, and physically โ€“ in every choice I make.

I’d be withholding the truth if I didn’t share some of the challenges I faced during this exploration: Questions and comments from family and friends. Feeling the need to make excuses to legitimize abstaining from alcohol โ€“ I have a run tomorrow, I have work to do later. Insecurities of being judged and being perceived as judging. Questioning whether or not I did want just one drink, one time. Questioning my worth in social settings without alcohol. Tolerance thresholds of late nights, crowded bars, and slurring speech. Defining what this approach to alcohol consumption meant to me. Giving it a name โ€“ am I “sober” (a term that generally people in recovery from substance-abuse) or do I abstain from alcohol? Is there really a difference?*

But despite the challenges, exploring and eventually embracing sobriety meant showing up as my best self, 100-percent of the time. And for that, I was willing to face some temporary discomfort to discover complete confidence in my decision.

*I still don't know the answer to this, which is where I came up with sober-ish.

The benefits that have bestowed me since becoming sober-ish are many and magnificent, to name a few:

  • Even after a late bedtime, waking up to workout is a viable option if I so please
  • Similarly, even late bedtimes bring quality restful and restorative sleep
  • No more days wasted on the couch. I can be a productive powerhouse! Unless I’m choosing to relax that is ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Sound judgement means clear choices and complete nutritional control โ€“ no drunk munchies, boozy binges, or hangover hungries
  • A clear mind means complete confidence and eliminated feelings of anxiety, guilt, or regret
  • Liking myself a lot more means caring if people like me a lot less
  • I’m a cheap date ๐Ÿ˜‰ My husband’s wallet, and my own, are happy
  • In combination with my diet and exercise routine, I’ve noticed clearer skin, increased energy, and balanced moods

To sum it up, I feel clear and stable. I feel like I have taken ownership over my identity. I feel completely and utterly purposeful.

My tips for being sober-ish

It’s not your imagination: Sobriety is trending, and, if you ask me, for good reason. When you’re working your butt off (on?) in the gym, staying dedicated to your healthy eating goals, and taking time for your mental health, it can feel destructive to down one-too-many mimosas, bottles of beer, or glasses of wine on the regular. Even if you’re not binge-drinking (did you know that for women, this term equates to just three drinks in one day?) to the point of getting wickedly hungover, there are some undeniable health perks to forgoing booze, and it’s got people sober-curious. Here’s how to get started:

Understand Why. What purpose does alcohol serve for you now? Is it a way to relieve stress, to increase confidence in social settings, to ease emotions? Do you enjoy the taste? Is there cultural significance? Determine what alcohol does (and doesn’t do) for you, and what activities, habits, or routines you may be able to implement in its stead.

Own it. I’ve said (written) it before and I’ll say it again, the choices you make in order to benefit and support yourself do not require explanation or validation. But it can be helpful to let your family and friends know that you are choosing to abstain from alcohol, in as much or as little detail as you please, free of excuses! For one, it prevents people from offering you a drink 400 times and you turning it down just as many. For another, it instills confidence in your choice. I encourage you to be upfront and clear. Instead of easing in with, “I don’t really drink anymore” try just going for it with, “I don’t drink.” Instead of responding to a request like this, “Not right now” or “I’m good for now” try a simple, “No thanks!”

B.Y.O. Booze-less Beverage. Pack a cooler of La Croix, bring along a Kombucha, order up a seltzer and lime at the bar, or mix up a mocktail! For me, holding a drink in my hand is helpful for engaging in things like drinking games or toasts, and drinking something other than plain water helps set my ~*tone*~. Plus, unsuspecting people usually assume a seltzer-and-lime is a vodka soda! No questions asked, no answers needed.

Pack Snacks! While you’re packin’ faux-booze, be prepared with some real food. Bars or house parties may not have the most nutritious options available, and a long night may keep you away from your kitchen for longer than anticipated.

Be engaged. Don’t skip out on alcohol-centric plans just because you plan to abstain. Show up and show up as your best self, sister! Boogie on the dance floor and create conversation. When a toast comes round or the gang takes a shot, don’t hide out in the corner or get all awkward, just go through the motions with your alcohol-free drink of choice. It’s not a big deal unless you make it one, trust me.

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 โ€“ or take-out โ€“ 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.ย 

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 โ€“ a time when Mo and I typically eat separate dishes (at the same time huddled around our binge-worthy series of the moment) โ€“ 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 ofย 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 someย Grilled Tandoori Shrimp & Chicken Kebobs. I useย this recipe for my marinade. I’ll be pairing it with a tahini-dressed roasted salad ofย 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 โ€“ Egg Roll Bowl. I’ve tried a few variations of this popular better-for-you remake, andย 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“.

Thisย 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:ย Mix it right in the individual yogurt container for no clean up!
  2. Add EGGstra ๐Ÿ˜‰ protein with a perfectly jammy hard boiled egg
    • Pro-Tip:For the perfectly jammy egg, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.ย AFTERย 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.ย 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… theย 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 haveย 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!

Sassy (but serious) Solutions to Overcoming Obstacles

There’s no denying that a busy schedule, stress, peers, family obligations, lack-luster motivation, career, etcetera, etcetera, pose difficulties to living a healthy, active, well life day to day. Let’s face it, nutrition and fitness are often the first things to be disregarded as unattainable when they feel less than easily accessible.

But these challenges โ€“ call ’em what you will: obstacles, roadblocks โ€“ are not impassable barriers. They are not a reason to stop, or quit, or give up. In fact, an obstacle is a platform, a stepping stone to success.

Hell, if you can find a path without obstacles, it’s probably not leading anywhere worthwhile. Consider this: in the midst of every challenge, lies opportunity. Unlike the comfort of regular routine, it’s these make-it-work moments that define your dedication and solidify your success. That’s where the magic happens.

You say: “I don’t have time.”
You mean: “It’s not a priority.”
Al says: “It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of priorities.”
We all have the same 24 hours in the day, even Beyonce. It’s how we use those hours that makes all the difference. Seriously, try replacing “I don’t have time to [meal prep, exercise, meditate, stretch] with “[Meal prep, exercise, meditation, recovery] is not a priority to me.” How does that sit with ya?
The Solution: Have a plan, schedule time, and honor it. In the same way that you’d honor a deadline for your boss or a date with your husband. Not just any plan, but a realistic, attainable plan that works with you and creates productive flow, not constricting boundaries. Check out this blog all about creating time efficiencies!
Practical Tip: If youโ€™re looking to maximize fitness time, HIIT it hard! Short, maximum effort workouts lasting even just 15-20 minutes are equally as effective as long, steady state exercise. Even better, they can often be done right in your home to eliminate travel time. Plus, with a little help from a properly stocked kitchen, you can create nutrient-dense and flavorful meals rapid-fire style in just 20 minutes or less. Check out this blog on freezer & pantry staples.

You say: “It’s too expensive.”
You mean: “I don’t see the value.”
Al says: “Invest now, or pay later.”
Spoiler alert: hospital bills as a result of chronic disease are far more expensive than grocery receipts or gym memberships.
In the world of finance, and easily applied to wellness, expenses are costs which are incurred in a certain period and are not expected to generate future cashflows. Investments, on the other hand, are expected to generate future cashflows are are the result of a specific set of activities.
The Solution: Get on board with the priceless value of your optimal health, and invest in it. Check out this blog on ways to maximize your dollars on nutrition!
Practical Tip: Eat nutrient-rich food on a budget by purchasing pantry goods in bulk, shopping in-season, and by choosing frozen protein and produce. Did you know the average meal prepped dish costs just $5, where the average restaurant lunch rings up more than double at $12.75? Save major money by preparing your own meals, instead of dining out.

You say: “My peers [family, spouse, friends, coworkers] aren’t healthy.”
You mean: “I am uncomfortable with the possibility of inconveniencing others, and fearful of judgement.”
Al says: “Be a leader. Own your healthfulness.”

Repeat after me, self-care isn’t selfish. And your decision to make choices that benefit your mind, body, and soul do not require justification, explanation, or validation. Prioritize the things that are going to help you show up as your very best self, so that you can excel in all the roles you play โ€“ from partner, to friend, to colleague, etc. Promise me that you will never, ever allow others to make you feel that your preferences, lifestyle, or goals are a burden or inconvenience.
The Solution: Be confident, keep communication clear and open, express the importance of your goals, ask for respect, and don’t pass judgement. Check out this blog on socializing health & wellness!
Practical Tip: Get your social-sphere involved! Plan healthy meals together with your family, attend group fitness classes with your friends, or start a healthy potluck once a week with your coworkers.

You say: “I have zero willpower.”
You mean: “I struggle with consistency.”
Al says: “You don’t need willpower, you need self discipline.”

Where willpower is an impulsive reaction, self discipline is proactive action. Existing habits have deep roots. Just think of how long you’ve been living a certain way โ€“ likely, your entire life. So those new habits, the ones you’ve been working on for only a few weeks, are delicate. And frankly, needy. They need constant nurturing to become the norm. Until you have been consistently acting upon your habits for more than six months, you are not yet in the maintenance stage, and you can’t rely on instinct, you must rely on intent.
The Solution: Don’t rely on impulsive willpower, take the steps necessary to set yourself up for success in any scenario.
Practical Tip: Making sure you are properly fueled with satiating and satisfying meals will support you in sticking to your plan by managing the brain regions that control appetite awareness, cravings, and ultimately food intake. 

You say: “I don’t like healthy food.” / “I hate exercise.”
You mean: “Change is uncomfortable.”
Al says: “Preferences are malleable.”

The more consistently you consume nutritious foods and move your body, the more you will enjoy, and even crave it. Often times, what we think we like and don’t like are dictated by a warped way of living that put nutrient-poor foods and inactivity on a pedestal. What we don’t like isn’t so much the nutrients or the movement, it’s the discomfort that comes with change. I mean, do you really not like brussels sprouts, or did you try them once, boiled by your great grandma who smelled like cat food? Do you really hate running, or do heavy legs and shortness of breath challenge your abilities?
The Solution: Try everything twice, experiment, identify enjoyment… and implement it! Check out this blog on keeping health & fitness fun.
Practical Tip: Start by creating better-for-you versions of familiar favorites, a few strategic swaps can increase the nutritional value of a meal โ€“ like baking almond-meal coated chicken tenderloin in place of deep-fried and highly processed nuggets! Check out my Spinach Artichoke Cauli-Chicken Casserole that tastes just as delicious as a two-for-twenty appetizer, only waaaay more nutritious.

You say: “I don’t see results.”
You mean: “I don’t see results… yet.”
Al (or the translation of a popular medieval French phrase) says: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

You don’t see results, or you don’t see instant results? This is not 2001 and you are not a Magic Grow Capsule. Let go of eating and exercise as a temporary means to an end โ€“ yup, bye 5-day detoxes, 7-day slowdowns, and 30-day challenges โ€“ and embrace nutrition and movement as a way of living. The only Magic Grow Capsule when it comes to results is Consistent. Habits. Repeated. Over. Time.
The Solution: Have patience and track consistency. If goals are not met, change the approach, not the goal. Check out this blog on measuring progress!
Practical Tip: Step off the scale! Calibrations for body fat percentage and lean muscle mass are much more accurate indicators of body composition than weight.

There are nearly four years between these photos.

You say: “How do I know it’ll work this time?”
You mean: “I am afraid of failure.”
Al says: “It doesn’t work, you work.”

Even the best plans and programs don’t work unless you do.
The Solution: Anticipate roadblocks, challenges, and difficulties and plan to overcome them. Check out this blog about motivation!
Practical Tip: Before taking action towards a more healthful lifestyle, rate yourself on how Ready, Willing, and Able you are to implement change on a scale of 1-10. If you’re anything less than a nine, re-evaluate your priorities, values, and motivators!

You say: “It’s too overwhelming, I don’t know where to start.”
You mean: You say: “It’s too overwhelming, I don’t know where to start.”
Al says: “Use your resources.”

Valid point. There’s incessant of noise and chatter and captions when it comes to the best diet or most effective workout routine. And don’t even get me started on marketing. We’re not to blame for being confused, but we can get educated. But the truth of the matter is, the right approach is unique to everybody and every (space) body.
The Solution: Consult an expert! Partner with a Certified Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, or Health & Fitness Professional to establish a plan that is going to optimize your goals. Click here to work with me!
Practical Tip: Start by setting a SMART (Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely Goal). Then break that goal down into habits, and those habits into actions. The actions are where you start!

In closing, you are not a product of your circumstances. You are a result of how you respond to your circumstances. You are a reflection of your choices.

Week of Eats .005

Earlier this week, a series of circumstances hard work, dedication, and determined opened up an exciting opportunity for me to host a Nutrition Seminar for a large corporation as part of their employee health & wellness initiative. I swapped my CrossFit booty shorts for a sleek wrap dress and stood before a room of ambitious, intelligent men and women and spoke from the brain, and the heart, and definitely the belly, about the power of food, and how to approach nutrition in an attainable, maintainable, and sustainable way from nine-to-five any beyond.

As I introduced myself to the wide-eyed (with interest or caffeine, we have yet to determine) team as someone who’s entire life is founded on nutrition and fitness, from my business to my hobbies. Yes, I genuinely enjoy meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking, I said. Cue the internal eye-rolls. I look forward to exercising, I explained. Was that a cynical scoff I just heard? It’s true, I find these things fun and fulfilling and interesting, I promised. And then I clicked to a slide with this photo:

You see, I wasn’t always this way, I confessed. I have no predisposition to healthy living, not by nurture nor by nature. No special chromosome or unique upbringing. No, I wasn’t born this way. I didn’t wake up like this, as the cool kids say. I created this. I worked hard for this. I changed my habits until I changed myself. And now, I help others achieve the same level of change in their lives that I achieved in mine.

And this ritual act of meal planning is representative of all the ways in which I have changed. It represents what I have established as non-negotiable priorities โ€“ No matter what, I’ll carve out an hour for planning. It represents developed discipline and dedication โ€“ I make my plan and I stick to it. It represents reaching my highest potential โ€“ Ever see someone have every kitchen appliance going at once? It represents the standard of self-respect I expect for myself โ€“ I honor my body with nutritious food.

So, what you’re about to read isn’t just my meal plan for the week. It’s the foundation of my entire life. And it tastes damn good.

Okay, this week’s meal plan brainstorm got a little crazy (read absolutely insane) as I neared a list of 20 recipes I just **had** to make. However, amidst the chaos, this Turkey Mushroom Bolognese reigned supreme for two reasons. 1) A heatwave is rolling through and that InstantPot will keep my kitchen much cooler than the stove or oven and 2) I mean… bacon, in a turkey bolognese?! Enough said written. Thawing out a pack of ButcherBox bacon from the freezer means using it in another recipe for the week. I won’t give a spoiler alert, you gotta keep scrolling! I’ll be serving my portion over zoodles, and Moses’ over Trader Joe’s famed cauliflower gnocchi. Pro tip #1: To prevent soggy zoodles, plate (or shall I say bowl?) the spiralized veggies raw, and allow them to take on the heat and flavor from whatever delish protein you’re dishing on top. Pro tip #2: The only way to cook cauli gnocchi is in the air fryer. That is all.

Part of the reason I scheduled an Amazon Prime Whole Foods delivery this week, in addition to attending two-day CrossFit Advanced Coaching seminar, is because, despite carefully calculating the exact portions of produce and protein I need, I can’t quite seem to resist impulse buying an extra veggie here or sauce there. **SMH** Upon taking inventory of my fridge, I realized I had 3 bell peppers and a surplus of onion that wouldn’t get used up this weekend. Well boy oh boy, do I have a fave repEAT recipe for that! One Pan Chicken Fajita Bake to the rescue! I’ll be making it a bowl with Organic Girl Butter, Plus! and some Mexican roasted cauliflower. Mo will get his pick of Siete Foods tortillas or white rice.

Speaking of that absolutely mind-boggling meal prep inspiration list… I’ve come to surround myself with a pretty amazing circle of like-minded individuals. My pal (and Coach!) Jenn is 100% on my level when it comes to planning and prep, and we swap menu ideas on the reg. I called in an SOS for help narrowing down all of my tasty tentative ideas, and she picked this Smoky Lime Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Salsa as a standout among the list. Well Jenn, you’re pick made the plan. I’ll be serving it with a crispy, cool cucumber, avocado, and snap pea salad! Talk about summer on a plate. **drooling**

This Sweet and Sour Cabbage is the wildcard on the menu for sure. I stumbled upon it during an endless scroll, and just couldn’t stop thinking about the flavor combo! The recipe promises that it’s the perfect side dish for just about anything, so I decided to pair it with Deliciously Simple Paleo Meatballs that promise to pair with any side. A match made in heaven, if you ask me.

Okay okay okay, I have yet to actually make the Sunday night pad-Thai inspired dish I’ve been craving for the past few weeks. Leftovers or a new craving just keep popping up! But this week, I’m working it into my solid plan, and getting that fix. I’ll be grilling up shrimp, and tossing it with freshly a chopped stir fry of broccoli, bell pepper, bok chow, carrot, and snap pea in an almond-butter sauce inspired by this Peanut Sauce recipe.

Bonus! Remember when I said thawing that entire pack of bacon had to go to good use? Behold… Breaky BACON Brussels and Onion. In case you’re new ’round here, I eat brussels sprouts and red onion for breakfast at least 4 times per week, usually paired with meal prepped egg cups, or fresh out the oven baked eggs. This week, I’ll be taking the side up a notch by baking the veggies together with chopped bacon. The bacon fat serves as the cooking oil and bless my belly, is it ever an indulgent flavor bomb. This special side will serve as the starring role to some supporting Spinach and Tomato Egg White Cups.

Here’s how it’s all coming together in my plan!

Week of Eats .004

What a whirlwind ten days it’s been for your gal! My four-day trip to Nashville a honky tonkin’ good time and everything I had hoped โ€“ a lil’ sweaty and a lil’ relaxing, and a lot delicious and a lot nutritious. In fact it was so much fun, Mercury’s retrograde rotation decided I needed to soak it up just a little bit longer than anticipated, when my already-late-night flight home was delayed FOUR times, landing me (literally) with a FOUR A.M. bed time Monday morning. Alas, I’m finally feeling like a fully functioning human again and I’m celebrating (and procrastinating cleaning) with my personal favorite part of my routine: planning my week of eats!

Salmon Burgers are a fitlicity original recipe that haven’t graced my plate in too long. Though I have come around to the taste of dill since the inception of this recipe, I love the simple flavor of these meal-prep friendly burgers that pair well with just about any side. This week, I’ll be tossing it in glass tupperware with a side of crispy roasted garlicky broccoli and a nutritient-dense waldorf salad!

I was walking Genny just this morning, scanning Pinterest for recipes not yet feeling inspired, when this Apple Cider Vinegar Grilled Chicken stopped me dead in my scroll. It sounds (and looks!) so perfectly simple and summery, yet entirely drool-worthy delicious. I’m plating bowling? it with a massive kale salad and smashed brussels or roasted cauli.

On a mission to stick to my weekly grocery budget, the idea of Chicken Sausage Peppers n’ Onions comes from a surplus of frozen Italian chicken sausage in our freezer โ€“ and the fact that peppers and onion is one of my trusty go-to meals I could repEAT over and over again. Method: To Be Determined. I could take to the grill if I’m craving a bit of bubbly char, stick to the sheet pan for extra-ease, or sautรฉ over the skillet if I so please! I’ll be experimenting with a cauliflower polenta, and definitely serving with some simple fresh greens.

Of all the delicious eats I’ve got planned for the week, I may be most excited for the anticipated flavor-bomb that is this carnitas-inspired Pulled Pork Tenderloin with chili-lime watermelon jicama salad! Dare I take it next level and throw that melon on the grill for some gorgeous iron marks? I am pretty dang proud of myself for day-drooling up this combo.

Here’s hoping for clear skies this week, because I just realized I’m firing up the grill almost every night. Another idea bred from a budget-conscious freezer clean out: Grilled Pesto and Tomato Sirloin Skewers using our two remaining ButcherBox top sirloin rounds. **YUM** This recipe calls for flank steak, but I think sirloin will work just perfectly! It’s all about improvising, y’all. I am thoroughly excited to serve it next to an arugula salad with snap pea and prosciutto and a heaping pile of roasted radish.

Finally, the Sunday Bonus Supper! We’ll see where my cravings take me, but as of now, I’m planning on finally whipping up a Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai that’s been on the tip of my tastebuds for weeks!

Here’s how it’s playing out with my breakfasts and snacks! You know the drill, I love using leftovers for lunches! It makes planning and prepping so super simple. Mo gets a few different sides that meet his needs and preferences.

Travel Tips for the Fit & Nutritious

Let me start this blog by writing a few things bold and clear:

  1. What defines “healthy” travels goes far beyond squeezing in workouts and finding (or creating ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) the most nutritious option on a menu. While it is totally valid to be fitness and nutrition-minded and goal-oriented while traveling (and that’s what this post is about!), remember that the intention you set for your travel is entirely up to you. Perhaps, the most holistically healthy thing for you is to make decisions that are most conducive to your physical and physiological goals to keep you feeling and functioning as optimal as possible. Perhaps, it’s intentionally breaking from routine in a restorative manner that supports your mental and emotional well-being.
  2. Your body will fluctuate when you travel. Hell, your body will fluctuate when you don’t travel. On the daily. No matter if you nail your workout and meet every one of your macro goals or you hit snooze and find yourself elbow deep in take-out. It’s a fact of biology. Be prepared for it. Accept it now! Know that your body is a flexible, pliable, malleable vessel that will yield and respond to your efforts.

My personal philosophy to travel is the same as when I’m on home ground. I prioritize nutrient-dense foods that are going to support my physical and physiological function (hell, I want to enjoy vacation, not be held up with stomach upset or groggy with brain fog!). I make time for intentional movement that benefits my mental health. And I enjoy every single moment, I keep it flexible, and I go with the flow (but not without jerky in every one of my purses).

Without further ado, I’m here to outline the top tips for prioritizing fitness and nutrition during travel, no matter the destination or duration.

On Your Terms
Whether you’re away for vacation play or business meetings, the actions that you take to support your total wellness do not require justification, validation, or explanation. Let go of what you think you “should” do while traveling, whether that’s squeezing in a daily workout or diving into dessert, and embrace what you, personally, want and need to do. While these actions don’t require explanation, it can be helpful to earnestly express the importance of your choices to your travel companions. If prioritizing nutrition & fitness is something unfamiliar to you and your circle, let them know just how important it is for you to honor your commitments no matter where you are.

Reframe & Reposition
Hear me out. Just because something is available to you does not mean that you have to eat it or engage with it. Words and phrases like “indulge,” “treat yo’self,” and the infamous “vacation calories don’t count” create a sense of scarcity surrounding food & exercise offerings that have a major impact on our biological cues and awareness. Try replacing “I have to exercise because I’m traveling” with “I want to move my body today” or “I need to rest today.” How about swapping “I should eat the ice cream, I never do at home” with “No thanks, I’m satisfied and not craving ice cream today” or “I’ll have one scoop of chocolate because it’s an important part of this experience for me.”
Psst… This concept works on all end of the spectrum, whether applied to nutrient-dense or not-so-nutritious foods. I’ll never forget when I went to Europe with Mo for two weeks โ€“ Our engagement trip, **sigh!** I was newer to the whole health and fitness thing, and thus hell bent on making my trip an active and nutritious vacation out of fear of regression, to the point where exercise and food consumed most of my thoughts. Looking back, this mindset is not my idea of “healthy,” and many things (not just my last name) have changed in the years that followed. I digress, back to the Al-ecdote. Every chance I got (read: every time I saw a corner store with snacks, read: every other block) I picked up a “healthy” snack – a fresh fruit smoothie, a bag of almonds, a protein bar โ€“ you name it โ€“ and ate it… for the sole sake of making a point that I found something nutritious to eat, despite not being hungry. Turns out, I probably wound up consuming more food than I needed to (and certainly letting food consume me more than it needed to) and would have been better off honoring my hunger cues appropriately.

Order Up
When dining out, remember – youโ€™re the paying customer! You have the right to ask questions, request modifications, and note any preferences to your server (flanked by a genuine โ€œpleaseโ€ and โ€œthank you,โ€ of course). Pro tip: ask your server how a food is prepared (butter or broth?), what you can expect from portion sizes (made to share or bite-sized?), and what complements the entree (pasta or greens?). This information will help you decide what type of modifications, if any, you’d like to make to your selection. A few of my trusty tips for navigating any menu with an eye on nutrition can be found in this FREE e-book!

Spoiler Alert: asking questions may not always work… especially if you and your server speak different languages! I’ll never forget in Canggu, Bali, I was so excited to order a “Whole Roasted Cauliflower” served with herbs, cashews, and tahini drizzle from a delightful beachside cafe decorated with like a gypsy caravan with driftwood and dreamcatchers adorning the walls. I confirmed with my server that the cauliflower was roasted, not fried, with an enthusiastic head nod, “yes, yes yes!” And then, I watched Mo’s eyes get wide as he watched the chef toss my whole head of cauliflower right into the deep frier from his view across the table into the open air kitchen. Unfortunately, I knew that, that quantity of fried food would not sit well with my stomach, and asked if they would please prep me up a version that was roasted, not fried. All was well in the end with my golden, tender veggie!

Likewise, in France, Mo and I watched from our quintessential Parisian AirBNB as lines formed at the restaurant cap-stoning our block each night, weaving around the block in a matter of minutes. We just had to know what was up, but couldn’t find any information about the eatery online, so… we hopped in line. Turns out, the restaurant only served up all you can eat steak frites โ€“ buttery strips of steak with bottomless french fries that soaked up the decadent sauce. Needless to say, I enjoyed every damn bite, but I chose to honor my preferences as well by eating a moderate portion until satisfied. It was worth it for me, and it was what I wanted in the moment!

Stay FULLfilled
PSA: Intentionally restricting or limiting nutrient intake while traveling despite being physically hungry will likely lead you to consume more calories than if you ate regular, balanced meals throughout the day. That’s because ignoring our hunger and biological need to be fed does some serious damage for our perception of appetite awareness. Facts. It causes our bodies to lose trust in us, thinking their headed for starvation. Prioritizing robust, nutrient-dense meals will help manage hunger, curb cravings, and keep appetite awareness in check, where as feeling famished will often lead to a lack of judgment and over eating.

Pack (or purchase!) n’ Go
The first law of navigating nutrition states: if food is readily available to you, you (or someone you love, or someone you moderately tolerate) will eventually eat it. (But remember tip number 2!) Since travel often means close proximity to restaurants boasting sweets and grease abundance, set yourself up for success with strategic selections that support your goals and preferences. Pack up a carry on with non-pershiable snacks, protein, and veggies so that nutrient-dense foods are always in your back pocket (literally, I sometimes carry jerky in my back pocket). Or, make a pit-stop at the store upon arrival for the same.

Support Digestion
Chances are, your accommodations don’t have a full kitchen set-up and you’re left dining out at restaurants or picking up quick pack-ables at the local grocer. If you’ve got a super consistent groove to your normal routine, you might find that everything from unfamiliar foods and cooking methods to schedule and surroundings have an impact on your digestion. Totally normal, but it can leave you feeling a bit uncomfortable. Pack a digestive enzyme and take with each meal – especially a meal you know may trigger an intolerance – to assist your body in breaking down and metabolizing food.

Schedule Activity (and Rest!)
Planning your exercise schedule in advance will hold you accountable to prioritizing movement, and keep you from scrambling to figure out your next sweat sesh. Plus, factoring a rest-day into your routine will help you relax, restore, and recover. Pro-tip: make exercise a part of your travel experience by opting for a class exclusive to the area, an activity important to the local culture (salsa or line dancing, anyone?!), or engaging the whole crew (like hiking, kayaking, or biking!). Bonus points for combining all three.
Don’t have access to a class or outdoor activity? Try this 20 minute Anytime Anywhere Body Weight AMRAP:
As Many Rounds and Reps as Possible
5 push-ups
10 sit-ups
15 air squats

Go Bottomless
On H2O, that is! Staying hydrated with water will aid in appetite awareness, balance fluids, and battle any bloat that may come with being out of your element. If alcohol is a part of your travel, know your intentions and set limits so that consumption doesn’t interfere with them (you know, being elbow deep in drunk munchies or hangovers that leave you snoozing through the workout class you were so looking forward to!).

Quality Sleep
Traveling sets your familiar schedule all out of whack, so protect your nights to make the most out of your days. Prioritize a regular bedtime routine (or at least something that resembles one) and aim to maintain eight solid hours of restful sleep. I for one absolutely love a big, comfy, hotel bed with plush pillows all to myself… sorry, Moses, but ain’t nothing better than a solo hotel sleep ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not all accommodations are lush and lavish, though, so come prepared with anything that helps you drift off โ€“ pack lavender essential oil, an eye mask (ever try falling asleep in Iceland when the sun is still high in the sky at midnight?), and ear plugs, and download a white-noise app prior to departure.

Identify Your Essentials
When you’re traveling, so many things are out of your control or different than what you’re used to. It’s the beauty of visiting a different destination, but it’s also what freaks nutrition and fitness minded people out the most. Go into a trip knowing the top three things you need in order to feel good โ€“ your bare essentials โ€“ and do whatever it takes to protect those things. Mine are quality sleep, a high volume of vegetables, a dash of alone-time, and some sort of intentional movement every few days. I will go out of my way in order to make sure that these essentials are met, and then I can be flexible for everything else.

Week of Eats .003

Go with the flow. It’s a saying we all know, and it comes more naturally to some of us than others. But did you know that Flow has more to do with maximizing your productivity power to make $#!% happen than it does amble through life.  Psychological Flow describes the positive mental state of being completely absorbed, focused, and involved in your activities at a certain point in time, as well as deriving enjoyment from being engaged in that activity.

Each week, as I browse Pinterest and the gram, when the puzzle of proteins, veggies, and flavor profiles starts aligning in my brain and on my blank plan template, I get genuinely excited โ€“ buzzing from the endorphins of an hour invested in my goals and day drooling over the nutritious and delicious tastes to come. Meal planning, and meal prep, is my Flow state.

The Kim household has totally been vibing on shrimp as of late, so when I scrolled past this incredibly photogenic Creamy Shrimp Primavera, I had to flag to my “eats” collection. Instead of traditional pasta, I’ll be serving mine up with palmini, my latest impasta‘ obsession. I love the mediterranean flavors the hearts of palm-based noodles give off, and its texture is perfectly light for warm summer nights. Knowing I have some surplus veggies in the fridge (oops, I can’t help myself!), I’m going to expand this recipe into a primavera with the likes of bell pepper, snap pea, and squash with fresh mint and basil plucked right from my herb garden. Plus, I’ll be picking up some fancy dough from the fresh-made pasta case at Whole Foods!

With our ButcherBox arriving porch-side last week, our freezer is brimming overflowing with protein! I don’t cook with ground pork often, but when I saw this Whole30 compliant Weeknight Picadillo recipe, the wheels started turning and the mouth started watering. Typically prepared with beef, Picadillo is a Latin American hash of seasoned meat, spicy tomato sauce, optional sweet raisins, and briny olives. I want to get this specific flavor profile just right, so I won’t be making any Al-mods to this one (other than swapping the protein!). You’ll see my portion paired with a side of cauliflower rice and butter lettuce, while Mo will gets heaping helping of white rice.

Another ButcherBox freezer-space-free-up-inspire meal, BBQ beef brisket comes together โ€“ or shall I say, literally falls apart โ€“ in just 60 minutes in the InstantPot. Another time when I want to make sure I get texture and flavor just right, I’ll be following this recipe down to the Tbsp of seasoning. See what I did there? I’ll be plating this with crispy brussels sprouts & caramelized onion and, of course โ€“ my summer go-to, a simple side salad.

I confess, I never wound up making the nut butter satay/pad thai combo I dreamed of and drafted about last week. Alas, the tastebuds were tempted by calls of my shawarma spice blend, and I answered. But this week, the craving concept is resurfacing, though in different preparation. We’re trading eat-from-a-bowl for eat-with-your-hands with these Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps topped a nutty (or seedy) sauce and a big ol’ bowl of crunchy cabbage salad. The sauce is inspired by this macro-minded recipe and the chicken mixture by this recipe. I’ll be going a little freeform here to make my perfectly palate-pleasing concoction.

Stay tuned for my recipe and method for these Grilled Salmon & Grape Skewers that are sure to delight. Delight is literally the word that comes to my mind when I picture how these are going come together. I’ll be serving the freshly-made protein up with a meal-prepped warm kale and cauliflower salad!

For the bonus meal, I anticipate having some leftover ground chicken from a small batch of blueberry pecan break sausage I plan to mix up as a side for my favorite repEAT prosciutto egg cups. I’ll be forming it into this Tandoori Chicken Burger that will make for a mighty taste and ultra convenient reheat n’ eat protein for busy weekends! What shall be my bun, you ask? I’m thinking leftover bib lettuce leaves or a crispy Cali’flour Foods flatbread!

Here’s how it’s all coming together in my Week of Eats.

Any of these flavors get your mouth watering, stomach grumbling, or tastebuds tingling?! Good! Get to cookin’.

Week of Eats .002

I’m sitting here, on my couch, before dinner with my laptop perched in it’s namesake position, wrapping up a drool-worthy week of prep. Okay, Al, why the dramatic emphatic use of italics on a seemingly ordinary series of words strung together in a sentence? Well, I’m at that point where the CVS-receipt-long to-do lists in my normally methodically compartmentalized brain are busting out of their respective spaces, unfurling and tangling among one another until I can’t quite see the top – or bottom – of any one list.

Sound familiar? For you, this might be the point where meal planning falls right out of sight and out of mind. But for me, it’s a stress-relieving act of self-care that I hold onto with hook-grip inspired strength. Meanwhile, with my brain fumbling around like a CrossFit newbie attempting a snatch – hook-grip be damned – I must admit to myself that not much traditionally “productive” work is going to get done. So, I’ll be productive where I can! I’ll sit back, on the couch, before dinner (an act that usually only happens after the lunchboxes are loaded and the garnish has been placed on my plate) and get some “work” done, no matter how insignificant it may seem. In the grand scheme, this 30 minutes of planning and preparation saved future me a whole ton of scrambling and a whole ton of money. You go girl! You’ll get back to the big items on that to-do list tomorrow, with one less thing to check off.

Without further ado, a week of eats and recipe inspo comin’ atya! Eat up, friends!

Take this Tomato Feta Shrimp Bake from fridge to plate in only 25 minutes. My bet, it goes from plate to belly in under 5 ๐Ÿ˜‰ The recipe calls for dill and parsley, but I’m thinking of tossing some basil into the mix – I know, I’m ~*wild*~ Serve it up over spaghetti squash like me, chickpea pasta like Mo, or any of your other favorite bases like zoodles, rice, or roasted potato.

I have not been able to stop day-drooling over this Thai Basil Beef Stir-Fry since I first pinned in a week or so ago. Literally, visions of the stunning colors and texture filling my fave bowl and fantasies of the flavor bursting in my mouth have occupied serious space in my mind (perhaps why my compartments are so full?) Alas, my ButcherBox arrived just in time with some gorgeous 6oz sirloin rounds that will slice into the perfect protein for this dish. I’m serving mine with a cauliflower “fried rice” and Mo’s with traditional (but better-for-you) fried rice – no quotes needed.

Lemon Grilled chicken thigh is going to be my sort-of-wing-it at the grocery store dish. I’m thinking of a mediterranean-inspired marinade paired with grilled veggies galore – asparagus and zucchini for sure, but do I dare try to grill an artichoke, or revisit my ol’ friend halloumi?! Either way, I’m pairing with a heaping serving of my new favorite pasta alternative, Palmini. Recipe inspo here and here!

Since Mo is not the biggest fan of chicken breast (admittedly, neither am I, after discovering the juicy, flavorful glory that is thighs), I’m taking my Prosciutto & Pesto Chicken Rollatini (find the recipe on my “Food” Highlights) to a different kind of lean meat this week, pork tenderloin. I’m serving mine with simple oven roasted cauliflower and a big ol’ side salad. Inspo here and here!

Adobo Chicken Burgers are one of my favorite repEAT recipes. While the recipe is super simple, the spice and flavor profile is nothing short of spectacular. (Shout to to Primal Palate for combining other-worldly blends into beautiful glass bottles!) You can catch me serving this up with non other than roasted brussels and onion or air fried cauliflower.

Pro tip: Instead of busting out and oiling up the cast iron (and by that I mean oiling up my entire kitchen and probably setting off the smoke alarm), I give these burgers some oven lovin’ for just about 20 minutes in a lightly greased pyrex dish. The meat stays ultra juicy and it takes the prep from high to low maintenance real quick. And spoiler alert: This week, I’m going to get cray-zay by using one-half of the mixture to make patties as per the recipe, and the other one-half to make stuffed peppers! Stay tuned for the outcome.

And a bonus, something I’m planning to plate up Sunday night… TBD-Nut-Butter Chicken Tenderloin Satay with spaghetti squash “Pad Thai”! This craving has been my taste buds for days, and I’m excited to blend a few recipe inspirations, like this, and this, and this, to make my own lil’ palate pleaser. Mo will be serving his portion with his latest culinary conquest – sensory-deprivingly spicy biang biang noodles. Let’s just say my mouth will most certainly be happy, his will be happy… and numb.

That’s all she wrote, fam! I hope you found some flavor-inso for your week ahead. Here’s how I’m putting it all together in my master plan:

Week of Eats .001

With what feels like so many recipes and so little time, I understand that meal planning can fall to the very bottom – and even right off of – your to-do list.

Though I may be in the overwhelming minority here, I get **jazzed** about meal planning each week. It’s so fun for me to identify the flavors I’m craving, and I look forward to knowing I have a structure in place that is going to support my physical and physiological needs. After the plan, the only thing left to do is stick to it. And with meals as delicious (and nutritious) as this, that’s easy as cauli-tamale pie ๐Ÿ˜‰

Since I love planning so much, and make time for it each week without fail, I figured – why not share the bounty with my fam? So, I present: weeknight dinners (or lunches!) to add to your meal plan, based on the flavors I’m cravin’ and cookin’ up each week.

These meals are delicious, nutritious, and meal-prep friendly! Pro-tip: whip up a recipe for dinner and portion out leftovers for lunch the following day.

Cauli-Tamale pie is an original concoction born of a craving. This grain-free, green filled casserole is a twist on a traditional corn and pork tamale pie. Stay tuned for the dEATS, but in the meantime here is some inspo for a paleo version.

Taco (Bowl!) Tuesday! Do it up your way, which chicken, beef, or fish, and serve over a bed of crisp greens, with rice of the grain or grain-free variety, and go loco with toppings! More of the eat-with-your-hands type? I love Siete Foods shells for ~traditional~ tacos.
Inspo here, here, and here.

Tomato-Basil Turkey Meatloaf is a repEAT in my menu rolodex. Typically thought of as a winter dish, this fresh take on a meatloaf gives off warm-weather vibes. There’s only ONE recipe to use, and it’s this one. Serve it up with a big side salad, cauliflower mash, baked sweet potato, or with a pasta alternative like Palmini or Banza!

Need I say more about Grilled Peach & Prosciutto Skewers? I think not. Recipe inspo, here!

Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole is the only way my husband, Mo, will eat spaghetti squash. This recipe is quick, comforting, and oh-so-filling, making it a repEAT in our house!
My method here:

  • 8 oz ground chicken, lightly browned in ghee
  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 heaping tbsp non-fat, plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce (I love The New Primal)
  • 2 oz shredded cheese (mozzarella and cheddar), divided; 1 oz mixed into casserole, 1 oz layered on top
  • seasoning to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • scallion for topping
  • Mix it all up, and bake for ~20 mins or until cheese is super melty! Serve up with a side salad or some steamed greens.

Don’t forget to peep my Pinterest for a ton (literally, maybe too much) of meal inspo to fill out the rest of your plan. Download my simple but successful meal planner, here: