Hope your week is treating you well thus far and anyone partaking in the Abs & Push-up challenge is enjoying it so far – even if it means embracing the suck some days. I know I’ve already had days where I think of bagging, but I remind myself that the underlying goal of it all is zero-judgement and to just do something. So I’ll cut my sets from 4 to 2 for that day, just do it, and acknowledge the 10 minutes of self care I took for myself.
Speaking of self-care… another thing I’ve slowly learned after the last decade or so, is meal planning and prepping veggies for the week. My parents always made meal planning and ample amounts of healthy, fresh foods seem seamless, and, yet, in practice I quickly learned it is not as easy as it looks.
I’ve meal planned for a family, and I’ve meal planned for myself, and, perhaps counterintuitively, meal planning for myself is not necessarily any easier. In fact, there’s less motivation to do so, and it can be harder to eat all the fresh produce you buy a week out when you’re the only one eating it. Regardless, it takes some advance planning, some prep work early in the week, and some budgeting – financially and otherwise.
I’ve previously discussed my love of viewing my foods (and drinks) holistically, so that I am getting enough nutritious food while still having room for my daily chocolate and beer/wine. This way of eating and viewing balanced meals did not come easy, in fact it took many years of trial and error, but we are all works in progress and, at the end of the day, the objective is to find what works for you (and your family, if applicable), and what makes you feel your best. And, yes, that includes enjoying what I refer to as soul foods – foods you know have little or no nutritional value, but that’s not why you eat/drink them – you enjoy them for the sensory experience, for the social aspect, for the enjoyment that comes with something as simple as sharing good food/drink with people you love.
That said – even though I don’t do much true meal planning these days (too many work/school demands), I do buy a week’s worth of whole, fresh foods every week and plan how I will incorporate them into as many simple meals as possible.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy veggies and ensure I have them ready to throw into work day lunches is by roasting a big tray on Sunday/Monday.
This is obviously preferred during the Fall and Winter months, when I like cranking my oven and root veggies are ample and in-season, but you really can prep veggies with relative ease and time efficiency any time of year (Spring/Summer veggie ideas to come soon!).
This week I wanted to take advantage of winter squash while it remains, so I made a mix of roasted butternut squash, beets, white (Japanese) sweet potato, onion, and whole garlic cloves (leave them in their ‘skin’ and roast the cloves whole – you can spread them on bread like butter or just eat them with your roasted veggies, they are so good).
I simply tossed them all with a little olive oil, Kosher sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, but you can add fresh (sturdy) herbs like rosemary or thyme for extra flavor.
These veggies can now go alongside sautéed greens or massaged kale, ‘cado toast, eggs (would be really good with quiche/frittata, but an omelet would be an easy, delicious option), chicken/fish/tofu and be a complete, satisfying meal.
What I love about these ingredients:
B-nut: Technically a fruit, b-nut is chock full of nutrients, sweet-tasting, and low in calories. It is a great source of Vitamins C & A, magnesium, and potassium (two very important minerals for working muscles!). B-nut also contains iron, calcium, copper, and phosphorous (source).
Beets: Ahhh beets, one of my absolute favorite nutritional powerhouses, and so under-appreciated. I love to eat raw beets grated and mixed with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper and piled on top of salad, but roasted brings out the Earthy sweetness so well. Beets are loaded with fiber, Vitamin C, nitrates (which lower blood pressure), as well as both athletic-performance boosting benefits (by helping with efficient oxygen utilization) and anti-inflammatory properties (source).
Onion: Onions are another nutritional powerhouse, with cancer-fighting properties (specifically for stomach and colorectal cancers, thanks to organosulphur compounds), Vitamin C, quercetin and sulfur (two important antioxidants), as well as a slew of other minerals (source).
Garlic: In the same family (allium family) as onions, garlic is one of my absolute favorites for it’s flavor and impressive nutritional benefits. In addition to it’s nutritional heft (Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, selenium, sulfur, manganese), garlic also has anti-microbial properties (eat extra during cold and flu season!), improves HDL (“good”) cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and is loaded with important antioxidants that reduce cellular damage (and may lead to decreased risk of neurodegenerative disease). Eat yo’ garlic! (source).
Sweet taters: One of my absolute favorite pre-endurance event foods, sweet taters are loaded with fiber, Vitamins C and A, potassium, antioxidants, and are great for regulating blood sugar (especially compared to other forms of carbohydrate) (source).
There you have it! An easy, budget-friendly way to ensure you have a week’s worth of veggies to throw together for simple meals. Add something green, perhaps a fat (avocado, fatty, cold-water fish), and lean protein and you are set. Think of all the time and money saved on eating out! 🙂
Run on, my friends.