Nutella vs Peanut Butter

I was 19 when I traveled to Europe for the first time. We visited England, France, Holland, and Belgium. The cuisine was the highlight of the experience (aside from quality time with family).

Each place offered diverse food, rich in flavor and experience. But none of the food left quite an impression on me like the divine taste of…Nutella.

Yep, out of everything I had on that trip my life was changed by a chocolatey, creamy, hazelnut spread.

Who knew?

In 2001, Nutella had yet to be a household American request. So I came home with a suitcase full of Nutella dreams that ended months later. Well, until it became a staple on U.S. grocery shelves in 2013 and has been invading ever since.

Well done Nutella, well done. But for real though, how does Nutella stack up against the O.G. of morning nut spreads, peanut butter?

Let’s dive in and find out who wins the health battle of Nutella vs peanut butter.

History of Nutella

Because I was curious, I wanted to know how Nutella came to be Nutella. Nutella’s creator, Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker from Piedmont in Italy, created Nutella because of a shortage of cocoa. He combined a “sweet paste made from hazelnuts, sugar and just a little of the rare cocoa” to create what would come to be known as Nutella today.

What began as a simple intent to create a yummy treat has led to a gigantic branding mission to find its way to the breakfast table. Interestingly enough, in 2012 the Ferrero group, the U.S. makers of Nutella, had to cough up a whopping 3 million dollars in a class action lawsuit where a mother claimed their advertisement of the product touting its health benefits were false.

The history of Peanut Butter

When did peanut butter begin to show up in our food history?   In an article by National Geographic, John Harvey Kellogg May have been the first to use a peanut spread in his health clinic to treat patients.

The beginning of peanut butter is unclear, and still to this day so much controversy over the health benefits of peanut butter exist.

Is it good or bad for you?

Well, it can be both.  Peanut butter contains both healthy fats (omega-3 fats) and unhealthy fats (0mega-6 fats).  However, with more omega-6 fats than omega-3, peanut butter creates a potentially higher risk of inflammation.

The standard American diet is high in omega-6 fats which are linked to increase in obesity and weight gain.

Just like most foods, moderation is key when consuming peanut butter.  By buying a high quality brand and making sure you are focusing on amn overall nutrient dense intake, peanut butter can be worked into your diet in a healthy way.

Not all peanut butter is created equal

One look at the peanut butter aisle in the grocery store and you can see that not all peanut butter is created equal.

Looking through the glass jar, some are clearly creamy, oil-less and often light in color.

Others are dark in color, oily and liquidy in sound.

Often times manufacturers put added ingredients, like soy lecithin, in peanut butter to make them easy to spread, last longer and sweeter in taste. My suggestion, pass on those peanut butters.

A great example of such a peanut butter is Jif. Its ingredients are listed as such:

Roasted Peanuts and Sugar, Contains 2% Or Less Of Molasses, Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed And Soybean), Mono And Diglycerides, Salt (per their website).

Fooducate gives it a “C” rating due to its inclusion of hydrogenated oils and highly processed nature.  Anything with hydrogenated oils should be a major avoid to your health.

Because of tricky advertising that states a product is “natural” the requirements for use of the words like “natural” and “organic” are loose. Your best bet is to always read the ingredient label first.

Pick peanut butter that has two to three ingredients and requires a good messy stir before the first spread. That is the type of peanut butter you should have in your house.

An example of such is the generic Santa Cruz, Costco, Nutiva and many more.

Ingredients

If you are new to nutritional label reading, the first label listed on a label is the one that is present in the largest amount by weight.

On the Nutella label, the first ingredient listed is sugar. This is followed by palm oil, hazelnuts, skim milk powder, cocoa, lecithin (an emulsifier that helps the butter to blend together) and vanilla. That means the ingredient present in the largest quantity in Nutella is sugar.

You can read more about food awareness here by clicking on my post that gives you 5 tips to increase your food awareness.

In a brand of peanut butter, Santa Cruz, found at many grocery stores locally, there are only two ingredients: dry roasted organic peanuts and sea salt.

No sugar is listed at all. So when it comes to the ingredients in Nutella vs peanut butter, peanut butter wins with less sugar.

Beware of sugar

The average child consumes 13% of their daily calorie intake from sugar.

Why is sugar bad? Or is it?

On average children consume 11g of sugar at breakfast (nearly half the recommended daily limit) mostly via sugary breakfast drinks, cereals, and spreads.

In 2017, Nutella fans experienced an even bigger sugar high when Nutella increase the sugar content of the produce and likely decreased the cocoa content. This left the product under even further scrutiny and many health-conscious fans were outraged.

One serving of Nutella between two pieces of highly processed white bread could easily reach a child’s recommended daily sugar intake…before lunch.

Many studies prove the link between sugar intake and disease exist among many other consequences including energy levels, ability to focus and mental fog.

These conclusions only reiterate the importance of being mindful of sugar in our daily diet, especially for our children headed off to school.

It’s not about sugar alone, but rather the totality of awareness of how much sugar is in a person’s daily intake that is really the cause for thought.  Especially, when it comes to the little people we are responsibly for modeling healthy habits to.

Nutritional profile

In 2 tablespoon of peanut butter (32 grams) (using the Santa Cruz brand featured below) on average, there are 16 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of protein for a total of 200 calories. Less than 1% of that intake comes from sugar and only 10% is from saturated fat (you can read more about types of fat here).

One serving of Nutella also contains 200 calories but the macro and micronutrient profile are wildly different. In one serving of Nutella, there are 10 grams of fat, 19 grams of carbohydrate and 2 grams of protein.

The big difference is that all 19 grams of carbohydrates come from added sugar. This is equivalent to just over 4 teaspoons of sugar.

Peanut butter is lower in carbohydrates because it contains less sugar. It also contains more protein compared to Nutella’s  2 grams per serving.

Taste

The taste of each spread is different.  Nutella is sweet in taste, like a rich, creamy custard.

Peanut butter, of course, has a dense nutty taste and grainy texture.

The two provide totally different palate experiences because of the high sugar content in Nutella.

Why size matters

The food industry is a battleground for consumer attention and loyalty.  There is so much going on behind the scenes when it comes to product labeling that we as consumers have no idea.

Serving size listed on packaged foods is based on what the average American would consume in one sitting.

Umm..that makes about zero sense.

We the consumers are dictating serving size?

Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed (RACCs) are the standards that determine servings sizes we consume.  RACCs are set from information gathered by the department of Agr Dilute from the 1990s which now truly shows us that Americans are eating more.

The controversy over some foods come from what category they are often lumped into.

Nutella currently falls under the dessert toppings category. Under this category, the RACC is two tablespoons in one serving.  Why is this important? Because this is the same RACC for other nut butter spreads, like peanut and almond butter.

When a consumer is comparing the nutritional information on both products this allows a level playing field.

In 2017, the Ferrero group, requested that Nutella be re-categorized to “marmalade” (jams) or into its own class, in order to reduce the serving size to 1 tablespoon.  This would provide an advantage to unique spreads like Nutella because the nutrition labeling would appear to have the upper hand over counterparts like peanut and almond butter

Product knowledge is power

The average consumer is not educated regarding product labeling.  A quick glance at the label would then give an appearance that Nutella nutrition is superior to spreads like peanut and almond butter.  This would muddy the waters even more in product labeling.

The reality is that products are in the market for sales.  Companies like Ferrero want to beef up sales. They have clearly demonstrated that as Nutella sales in the U.S. are up almost 40% over the last 5 years according to an article by the Washington Post.

This nutrition label struggle only further demonstrates the need for individuals to understand what the products they are purchasing have inside them.

This is a basic habit I try to teach and share to all my clients. Knowledge is power. If you can understand what is inside your food you can make more empowered decisions to support your health.

It isn’t saying a big fat NO to Nutella, but rather understanding the reward and consequence of your choices and learning how to work them into your life to achieve balance.  It should be the mission of the FDA to protect average consumers who are learning how to better understanding food awareness.

Nutella vs Peanut Butter Recommendation

A small child can tell you that Nutella is a “treat.” It should be eaten in moderation accordingly and not served as a breakfast staple atop a slice of bread.

If you or your family are looking for a healthy alternative there are many. My favorite is my very own recipe, Cashew Pecan Butter. The combination of these two nuts and two other ingredients creates a nut butter that tastes sweet and creamy.  You can read the recipe for Cashew Pecan Butter here.

Another favorite alternative to traditional peanut butter is Sunflower butter. This is also a great option for those with nut allergies.  This is my son’s favorite “butter” spread option even without allergies. Click here to see his favorite.

And lastly, almond butter is a great go-to as well.  Click here to see my favorite almond butter spread too.

Nutella alternative brands

If it is the chocolate hazelnut spread you are after, other companies have followed suit and have created a chocolatey morning spread experience with improved nutrition.

Justin’s hazelnut spread is one alternative option.  Justin’s uses some organic products to create their hazelnut spread and contains 50% less sugar than Nutella.

Click here to buy Justin’s spread.

Nutiva’s hazelnut spread takes it a step further with certified organic ingredients, fair trade cocoa and all around improved ingredient quality.  It also contains almost 50% less sugar than Nutella.

Click here to buy Nutiva’s spread.

Both still contain sugar, although organic, as one of the first ingredients listed.  By no means do these brands deserve a regular appearance in the diet. Instead, just like Nutella, they are a treat with higher quality ingredients and less sugar.

Talk about it

I have gained wisdom over the years and have overcome my Nutella obsession. My kids, though, I teach them moderation of course. There is no regular place for Nutella at the breakfast table in our house but learning how to enjoy treats like Nutella help them (and big kids too) develop a healthy relationship with food.

Approaching the discussion of nutrition with children is all about teaching them food awareness and mindfulness. We must teach them what is inside their food, how food makes them feel and that correlation between taste and health does not always exist.

We want them to understand how whole foods versus a “sweet treats” like Nutella feels in their body.

Those little munchkins are smarter and more intuitive than we give them credit for.

When prepping your morning breakfast, reach for a spread that helps support your health and not your sweet tooth.

So in the competition of Nutella vs peanut butter, I would choose peanut butter.

Do you love Nutella?  Do you think you do a good job of regulating your daily sugar intake?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Coconut Sugar versus Brown Sugar

Coconut Sugar verses Brown Sugar

Every Thanksgiving I make my own version of the infamous “Ruth Chris Sweet Potato Casserole”. If you’ve never had the real deal…holy heck, it’s amazing (and loaded with calories). I had it once and from then on out was determined from then to recreate in my own fashion.

So I do…one time a year.

Everyone at Thanksgiving dinner swoons over the dish and it is devoured.

What they don’t know is that each year I make the recipe with coconut sugar instead of the brown sugar the recipe calls for. Are you probably saying to yourself “sugar is sugar” and isn’t all sugar bad for you?

Is coconut sugar a better option? What’s the big deal on coconut sugar versus brown sugar?

In this post, I will share more about the differences between coconut sugar versus brown sugar including the nutritional benefits, uses, and recipe swaps.

Sugars By Name

As if the health factor of sugars isn’t hard enough to weed through, sugars have multiple names.

Brown sugar can go by many different names including light or dark brown sugar, demerara sugar, muscovado sugar, turbinado sugar and free-flowing brown sugar.

Coconut sugar can also be known as coco sugar, coconut palm sugar, coco sap sugar and coconut blossom sugar. Coconut sugar can come in a granular form or is also available in a liquid form similar to agave syrup, honey or maple syrup.

Where Do They Come From?

Perhaps one of the biggest differences in brown sugar versus coconut sugar is the origin. Your run of the mill conventional brown sugar you purchase at the grocery store is actually just refined white sugar with sugarcane molasses added in (shocking, right?!).

That is what gives it the brown color. White sugar is highly refined and is made from sugarcane and sugar beets. Refined means that it has gone through a chemical process that removed impurities and can possibly remove beneficial nutrients.

Brown sugar can contain up to 10% molasses. 4.5% molasses is considered light brown sugar and 6.5% plus is considered dark brown sugar. Processing sugar increases chemical additives and dyes to change the consistency and appearance.

Coconut Sugar Verses Brown Sugar

Coconut Sugar Creation

Coconut sugar is made by a two-step process and can come in crystal or granule form, block or liquid. It is made by cutting the flower of a coconut palm and collecting the liquid sap. The sap is placed in large woks over moderate heat until most of the water is evaporated. The brown color is mostly due to caramelization.

Coconut sugar can also be considered a more sustainable product, therefore, it is considered better for the earth. Due to the minimal processing, coconut sugar uses less water and fuel when it’s being made.

When purchasing coconut sugar, make sure to check the ingredient labels to ensure you are getting a pure product and that it doesn’t contain cane sugar to help reduce the overall cost of the product.

Learning to read ingredient labels to confirm what additives are in your favorite brands helps increase food awareness and forces you to steer towards an organic brand which may be of higher quality.

Coconut Sugar Versus Brown Sugar Nutritional Comparison

When you compare the nutritional facts of one tablespoon of coconut sugar versus brown sugar, they both have about 4 grams of carbohydrates in the form of sugars. That is about 16 calories per tablespoon.

But if you dive a little deeper into nutrition you will see that due to the added molasses, brown sugar contains calcium, iron, copper, potassium phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium.

Coconut sugar naturally contains vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper. Coconut sugar also contains inulin which is a type of dietary fiber.  Inulin acts as a prebiotic which nourishes the good bacteria already in your gut.

What Are They Made Of?

Generally, brown sugar is made of 95% sucrose and 5% molasses.  Sucrose (white table sugar) is made up of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Coconut sugar is 70% sucrose and the rest is made up of individual molecules of fructose and glucose. So basically they are made up of the same molecules. Both are sugar.

How Does That Affect My Body?

In a study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute aiming to assess the glycemic index of sugar, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than brown sugar. This means coconut sugar increases blood glucose levels at a slower rate. This can be especially important to monitor if you have diabetes.

However, these findings have been inconclusive. According to the American Diabetes Association, the glycemic index can be a helpful tool when managing blood sugar. Keep in mind the glycemic index can vary from person to person depending on different food combinations, how the food was produced and personally how your body responds.

Like most foods, it’s not the product that you consume that impacts health.  Rather it is the amount of the product that impacts your health. By overeating junk food you can gain fat just as you can by eating healthy foods.

Taste and Texture

If potential differences in health value of brown and coconut sugar do exist, how does that translate to cooking in your own kitchen with regard to taste, texture and swapping one for the other?

Let’s start with conventional brown sugar. It is slightly moister due to the addition of molasses.  Because it originates as white table sugar the granules are fine and uniform in size.

The sugar dissolves well in liquids and incorporates into solids used in baking such as butter. Brown sugar has an almost caramel-like flavor to it which blends well in baked goods. Depending on the amount of molasses added the caramel flavor and color can vary.

Coconut sugar, contradictory to what the name implies, does not taste like coconut! Like brown sugar, coconut sugar has a slight caramel flavor. Both sugars have a very similar taste. It’s the texture that sets them apart.

Coconut sugar has much larger granules because it is made by dehydrating sap. It is less processed than brown sugar and is in a more natural state. Due to less processing, coconut sugar can be a less informed in taste and granule size, mostly unnoticeable to you and I.

Coconut sugar does not blend as well with items such as butter and can leave baked goods spotted or grainy if they normally call for brown sugar. However, these days there are many baked goods recipes that call for coconut sugar and it works great. (See below for some amazing health inspired recipes to give it a go.) Coconut sugar does dissolve in liquids quite nicely and can be a nice addition to your morning coffee or tea.

You Decide

Brown sugar and coconut sugar contain very similar macronutrient profiles. Coconut sugar edges out brown sugar slightly as far as micronutrients are concerned. It also contains inulin which can be beneficial for gut health.

 

In both cases, quality trumps it all. Be sure to read ingredients labels thoroughly to look for added sugars, chemical additives and anything that looks and feels like it doesn’t belong in a PURE sugar product!

Where do I buy coconut sugar?

Coconut sugar can be found in any local grocer.

BUT, my favorite place to buy it is from the comfort of my own home, on the couch and in my pajamas.  Because this mama LOVES efficiency and does not like shopping.

Here are a few brands I love that can be found by clicking on the name and shopping on Amazon.

Big Tree Farms Organic Brown Coconut Sugar

Nutiva Organic Coconut Sugar

Wholesome  Organic Coconut Palm Sugar

Better Body Foods Organic Coconut Sugar

Thrive Market

If you haven’t heard about Thrive market you are missing out! Think of Thrive as Costco meets Whole Foods all via a virtual store. Essentially you pay an annual membership to get amazing prices on high-quality products including food, supplements, toiletries and home essentials.

The awesome part is shipping is FREE on orders over $49!

You can shop for specific products via their online catalog, with all prices typically 25-30% below retail value.  Some of my favorite foodie products are hard to find and I don’t live near a retailer that carries them.

Thrive comes in handy because I can order whatever I want and have it delivered to my doorstep. They also carry a few things that I have yet to find in my local grocer.

Thrive’s yearly membership cost is $60 (that breaks down to $5 a month) and is an awesome price point for a gift. When I got married we got a Costco membership and it was the best ever.

Thrive would have been even better! Click on the link below to start your 30-day FREE trial at Thrive and get FREE shipping.

Thrive Membership

Now What?

Understanding their potential differences may increase your willingness to try new recipes. There are many sweet treats that can be made with coconut sugar. It can also be used in savory dishes as well. Coconut sugar can add a little extra kick to your dinner plate for that combo sweet and savory finish.

Recipes To Try

Check out the links below to try a few healthy recipes that require coconut sugar in the ingredient list.

Paleo Vanilla Coffee Creamer

Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies

Paleo Sweetened Condensed Milk

Coconut Sugar Sriracha Shrimp

Slow Cooker Refined Sugar-Free Pulled Pork

Peanut Butter Blondies

Soft and Chewy Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cookies

Peanut Butter Blondies

Coconut Sugar Lemon Almonds

Roasted Apples and Pears With Coconut Sugar

At the end of the day, coconut sugar is still sugar and should not be over consumed. Just because it contains some additional nutrition does not mean it’s a free for all. Sugar is still a “treat.”

Using food awareness and nutrition label assessment is the key to choosing the highest quality option for you.

Do you use coconut sugar?

Do you have a favorite dish to use it for?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

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Healthy Chicken Nuggets

If I were to say chicken nuggets, what would you start thinking about?

You may have slight nostalgia, remembering the good old days when you’d dunk those bad boys in a variety of sauces (or just one if you were super picky).

It may have been the only food you liked to eat.

It may even be your kids’ favorite food (if you have kids that is).

For many of us, chicken nuggets are a comfort food, something we eat when we want something familiar. They are a kid staple and a parent go-to.

BUT, most chicken nuggets leave little to be desired when it comes to nutritional value. Instead, they are high in saturated fat (the unhealthy kind), contain a measly amount of protein (which is a shock for chicken!) and virtually no micronutrients.

A four-piece Chicken McNugget from Mcdonalds contains 11 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrate and 10 grams of protein. If you pair them with a small order of fries, you’ll have almost enough calories from one meal to make up a small child’s total calorie demands for just one day. Shocker right?

Being unhappy with chicken nuggets led me on a mom mission to create my own healthy chicken nuggets. I wanted to create them so my kids would be able to remember their chicken nugget experience as a comfort food that mom made at home when they become parents themselves.

My biggest goals were to increase the protein and bring down the saturated fat. But as a bonus, these healthy chicken nuggets are also gluten-free! You read that right. They have no outer breading, and they will still rock your sock off.

 

Want to know some alarming information?

The ingredients for a very popular brand of chicken nuggets is listed first as “Chicken”.

At first, you would think, yes, that’s good isn’t it Amanda?

Well, not always.

Not when it is an unspecified source.

When the source is not listed that means the chicken can come from anywhere on the bird, like anywhere.

EEEwwww.

And chicken nuggets are a staple of many kids’ dinners and are such an easy go-to for busy parents.

 

And they aren’t just for kids.  Parents and non-parents alike can jump on the chicken nugget wagon because this recipe requires whole ground chicken breast, an egg and a few seasonings and one MAGIC ingredient and can be made in under 15 minutes.

These healthy chicken nuggets are made from just a few simple ingredients. No junky oils were used in the making of this recipe, and they still taste amazing. What really up levels their taste is the finishing touch in the GoWise Air Fryer if you have one. If not, I’ve left you a simple stovetop method that works well too!

If you haven’t bought into the air fryer craze, this recipe may change your mind. You can check out my review of the GoWise Air Fryer HERE. I break down the review in real-world circumstances in a kitchen where I cook all the time with small children around.

You can also check out the GoWise Air Fryer review because I share my experience with twenty-five days of air frying (basically anything I could) along with ten recipes that I fell in love with along the way.

At the end of the day, the Air Fryer produces what many people are after. A quicker, more convenient way to cook food. I am constantly helping clients find ways to bring more real-food options into their diet in a way that is simple, and convenient. Any tool, including an air fryer, that increases the willingness and likeliness to eat more real food is a WIN in my book.

With that said, let’s get to the recipe!

5 from 1 vote
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Healthy Chicken Nuggets

Turn this childhood staple into a healthy option your family will love.  Make them in the Air Fryer or stovetop for a quick and fun weeknight go-to.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 21 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 Pounds Ground chicken breast
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 Tbsp Bragg's Nutritional Yeast

Instructions

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 370 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Pour the ground chicken into large, clean bowl.

  3. Mix in one egg, nutritional yeast, and seasonings until well blended.

  4. Lay parchment paper on the bottom of the air fryer’s fryer basket, spray with a light coat of olive oil.

  5. Using a cookie scoop (or round spoon) place a level scoop of the ground chicken mixture onto the parchment paper.

  6. Repeat this process as many times as space will allow, leaving ½ inch in between chicken scoops for cooking.

  7. Turn the air fryer on. Select the “chicken” setting (if your fryer allows it) and allow to cook for 6 minutes.

  8. At 6 minutes, turn the nuggets over to allow a crisp layer to form around the entire nugget.  * Note: If you don’t have a chicken setting, continue to cook at 370 degrees fahrenheit until cooked through (10-15 minutes, flipping once).

  9. Pull the nuggets out at a total time of 12 minutes.

  10. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

Stove Top Method

  1. Pre-heat a medium or large skillet over medium heat.

  2. Spray lightly with olive or avocado oil to lightly coat the pan

  3. Pour the ground chicken into a large, clean bowl.

  4. Mix in one egg, nutritional yeast and seasonings until well blended.

  5. Using a cookie scooper (like this ONE) scoop the mixture into rounded ball shapes and add to the hot pan.

  6. Allow the underside to cook from roughly 1 minute to 90 seconds. It should start firming up and losing the pink color.

  7. Using a spatula, turn each nugget over and then press the ground mixture into the pan (raw side down) into nugget shapes.

  8. Allow each nugget to cook for 2-3 minutes. Then turn them back over to cook for an additional minute on the initial side.

  9. Be sure that each nugget is cooked thoroughly throughout. There should be no pink, and if you were to use a thermometer, it should read at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

  10. Remove nuggets from the pan and serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

This recipe for healthy chicken nuggets is guaranteed to be a family favorite. Another bonus is that these healthy chicken nuggets can be “double prepped” (read my post on meal prep here to find out what I mean by double prep) so that you have enough to pack in the kids’ lunches the next day too.

I have a thermos trick to keep them warm too. You can view those in my IG story highlights under “Lunchbox Ideas HERE. All you do is bring a cup of water to boil, pour the hot water into a thermos, and allow it to stand for 5 minutes to heat the thermos.

While the thermos heats, reheat nuggets in the microwave for 90 seconds. Dump the water from the thermos out and dry it quickly. Place the nuggets inside and they will stay warm until lunch time. #winning

I hope this recipe helps you add another healthy option to your weekly menu that maintains quality, is super simple and will be a crowd favorite.

I’d love to hear from you:

What recipe would you love for me to create a simple and healthy version for you to add to your weekly menu?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

GoWise AirFryer Review

I was completely reluctant to add yet another kitchen gadget to my arsenal. I had heard mixed reviews for air fryers and I wasn’t ready to create my list of pros and cons to convince my husband we needed another kitchen appliance quite yet.

When the AirFryer arrived my kids and I were so dang excited. They follow in my footsteps when it comes to being in the kitchen and loving food. They have had their hands in the kitchen since they were toddlers, curiously chopping away.

I immediately washed it and began reading the manual. I was ready to DIG in. Being totally transparent, I haven’t even looked for a place to put it in a cabinet since I’ve received it, because I’ve used it that often.

Size

My biggest concern was size. My kitchen does not have a ton of storage space and I had no idea how frequently I would use the air fryer. It sits nicely on the counter without being too much of an eyesore. The GoWISE 8-in-1 Air Fryer (model…) is 3.7 quarts of kitchen convenience and for the volume of food it prepares, the size is a bonus.

User-friendly

The controls of the GoWISE Air Fryer are digital and it has a simple to use touchscreen.  Although straightforward, it will take some time to understand how to use the controls for proficiency (just like any new kitchen device).

The pre-set buttons are AWESOME and have not led me astray. The options you’ll have are warm, chips, chicken, steak, shrimp, pork, cake, and fish. There are also additional buttons to adjust the time and temperature up and down.

Shop for the Go Wise Air Fyer HERE.

How It Works

My first big curiosity was how does the GoWISE Air Fryer actually work? Air Fryers cook food by circulating hot air around the entire surface of the food, called Rapid Air Technology.

A heating element at the top creates heat that is then circulated throughout the appliance using a small fan. The outcome produces a food that looks, feels and even tastes “fried” by only using a small amount of oil or none at all.

Everything I have cooked up to date has actually only been with a light spray of olive, avocado or coconut oil. It produces that unhealthy fried food, soul-filling finish in a much healthier way.

In addition, it allows you to reheat food, bake it or even cook frozen foods, which is super convenient. In fact, I’ve found cooking frozen vegetables or sides in the air fryer is even better than in the microwave because it doesn’t create that mushy texture.

Eating at restaurants exposes you to extra hidden macronutrients. Foods are often fried or sauteed in unhealthy fats. Fat provides cushion and protection to the body at a cellular level. Fats are also crucial to hormone regulation and absorption of micronutrients.

Fats come in two forms: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat, often deemed the “bad” fat, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Examples of saturated fat include fat from animal products, dairy, butter, and coconut (coconut oil).

Unsaturated fat is often labeled as the “good” fat as it can reduce cholesterol levels when replacing saturated fat in the diet. Samples of unsaturated fats include nuts, seeds, and avocado.

Learn the Value of Food

Quick and convenient foods often provide a calorie dense, but a nutrient-poor option. When we measure up fast-food options or pre-packaged options against real food, they often leave little to be desired.

Take a look at the picture below. The meal on the right is a fast-food restaurant’s chicken nugget meal (4 nuggets and a small order of french fries) compared to my homemade version of chicken nuggets, curly sweet potato fries, and cauliflower “wings”, all cooked in the GoWISE Air Fryer. Both contain the same calorie content. However, there is clearly much more bang for your buck when you chose the real-food option.

Although these foods contain the same calorie content, their macronutrient profiles are different.  The fast-food meal has nearly 25 grams of fat and only 6 grams of protein. My homemade meal has nearly 40 grams of protein and only 8 grams of fat.  Point being, when you create your own meals at home it offers much great support for a healthy lifestyle.

What can I cook?

Anything. Pretty much anything.

Look below and you will see my first twenty-five days of cooking with the air fryer in an attempt to try and cook a variety of things to test its effectiveness.

I was somewhat concerned initially that everything had to be spread perfectly without touching in the air fryer to actually cook. However, after continuous use, I’ve realized I can throw it in (bonus for a busy mom) and interrupt cooking time with a quick shake or toss to expose other cooking surfaces on the item.

By far the biggest game-changer for us has been sweet potato fries and sweet potato buns.  We love sweet potatoes and I cook them often. One of our favorites is Sweet Potato Sliders (you can view my recipe here).  In the Air Fryer, their taste and texture are elevated and give a truer crispy finish then preparing in the oven.

Shop for the Go Wise Air Fyer HERE.

How do I cook in it?

Let’s just say that there isn’t an easier way to cook. You open the pan by pulling on the handle.  The pan will slide out exposing the basket. Lay all of the ingredients in the basket and return the pan inside the appliance.

Next, push power and adjust your time and temperature settings to the appropriate level. You will then hear the fan begin to run as the heating element clicks to begin circulating the air.

The buttons will flash to let you know it is heating and will stop flashing once the Air Fryer has reached the desired temperature.

Once cooking time is over, the alarm will sound to indicate it’s finished. One tip is to interrupt cooking at some points to shake up ingredients and expose new surfaces to the hot air.

You can then pull the basket out. The inside of the pan and basket will be hot but the outer parts will not. (This is why it’s a great learning tool for my children who are six and eight at the time of this blog post).

Budget Worthy

The GoWise Air Fryer ranges in price from $90 all the way to $300 for models that have a plethora of features.  The model featured in the post retails for less than $80.00. You can buy it on Amazon by clicking the link below.

This size is perfect for our family of four.  It is very versatile so it makes it a great “bang for your buck” purchase if you are looking to add a kitchen appliance to your arsenal.

Easy Clean-Up

The GoWise Air Fryer has very few parts, just a basket and under pan. One necessity I have for a kitchen gadget is simple clean up. If I have to take every little piece apart and hand wash it, then it is a deal breaker. That is the exact reason the juicer I got for our wedding 12 years ago still sits under the counter.

Mama ain’t got time for that.

The air fryer basket pops right out of the pan with a click of a button. Both pieces are easy to hand wash and dry quickly. Both are also dishwasher safe. I am not sure if this breaks air fryer rules or not, but sometimes there is no real need to even wash the parts because of little to no mess. After a few uses, I always go back and wash to make sure there isn’t any unnecessary build up.

I find myself using it to cook small side dishes mostly and leaving more delicate foods for oven roasting or grilling. What I love is adding one more way to multi-task for meal prep or “Double Prep” (you can learn more about that here in my meal prep post). The air fryer offers this subtle, crispy finish that other preparation methods don’t match, in my opinion.

A super bonus is that my kids are totally excited about being able to feel comfortable using it.  It is a great stepping stone to teaching and understanding hot/cold in the kitchen, cook times and being confident in beginning to learn food prep and handling.  Getting the kiddos involved is an extremely important skill for their long-term health success.

Highlights:

  • Temperature controls from 170-400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cook time up to 30 minutes
  • Pre-set settings for some of the most commonly cooked foods
  • Adjustable time and temperature settings
  • Removable basket with release button for easy clean-up
  • The basket is dishwasher safe
  • 1 year limited warranty

Comparing Other Models

GoWise offers models ranging in price from $100-$300.  At the base is a 2.75-quart fryer with multiple styles and settings. Next is the 3.7-quart fryer with a few model options. The largest air fryer is the 8-in-1 XL at 5.8 quarts. You can visit GoWise HERE to see all of the models and their unique features.

Shop for the Go Wise Air Fyer HERE.

Twenty-five days of Air Frying

I then turned to a thirty-day mission to make something in the air fryer every day for the next month to really test is variability, convenience, and durability.

Here is what I made:

Day 1: French toast sticks

Day 2: Fried eggs

Day 3: Egg in a hole (from the GoWise recipe book)

Day 4: Sweet potato fries

Day 5: Kale chips

Day 6: Green beans

Day 7: Baked apples for breakfast covered in coconut sugar, flaxseed, and cinnamon.

Day 8: Firehouse tacos

Day 9: Buffalo cauliflower wings

Day 10: Curly fries

Day 11: Chicken nuggets (my own recipe)

Day 12: “Simply Potaotes” hash browns

Day 13: Baby creamer potatoes

Day 14: Chicken Tenders

Day 15: Turkey Bacon

Day 16: Broccoli

Day 17: Zucchini chips

Day 18: Smores banana boat

Day 19: Fried cauliflower rice

Day 20: Ranch chickpeas

Day 21: Salmon and potatoes

Day 22: Berry cobbler

Day 23: Baked potato

Day 24: Tortilla Chips

Day 25: Sweet Potato Toast

Maybe you’re ready to invest in an air fryer or maybe you already have one and feel re-inspired.  Either way, you need ideas! I searched and tested many recipes and found a few unique, healthy, and pretty awesome ones to share to get you started.

Check out these 10 air fryer recipes that are musts in your life.  By the way…they are simple and quick too!

  1. Baked sweet potato from Courtneyssweets.com
  2. Berry cobbler from Healthyslowcooking.com
  3. Banana smores from Meredithlauranece.com
  4. Ranch flavored chickpeas from glueandglitter.com
  5. Salt and vinegar zucchini chips from sugarfreemom.com
  6. Sockeye salmon and potatoes from meredithlaurence.com
  7. Cauliflower tater tots from meredithlaurence.com
  8. Fried cauliflower rice from glueandglitter.com
  9. Curly fries (recipe coming soon to the blog)
  10. Healthy chicken nuggets

At the end of the day, the air fryer produces what many people are after. A quicker and more convenient way to cook food. I am constantly helping clients find ways to bring more real-food options into their diet in a way that is simple, and convenient.

Shop for the Go Wise Air Fyer HERE.

Any tool, including an air fryer, that increases the willingness and likeliness to eat more real food is a WIN in my book.

 

Do you have an Air Fryer?

What is your favorite thing to cook in it?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

Amazon disclaimer: Awalkmyway is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.awalkmyway.com

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Client Success Story: Food>Gym

Client Success Story: Food > Gym

We’ve been trained through media and inaccurate visions of the perfect body types that exercise is the way to change your health.  That you must spend hours in the gym to create a healthy body.  Many of us are guilty of training extra hours, sacrificing sleep and balance to sneak in a gym routine to justify our eating habits.

Today’s success story proves the exact opposite.  She is total proof that investing in understanding in food and spending time in the kitchen is a far more beneficial investment of time.

She is a busy mom that just simply doesn’t have the time or desire to try and out train her diet.  Through our work together, she learned she didn’t have to.  Yes, you heard me correctly, she doesn’t even “workout.”  She lost over twenty-five pounds without spending’s hours in the gym creating mindful eating practices.  Instead, her investment of time was through meal prep, understanding food and learning how to fuel her body.

Furthermore, she is proof that a life of constant dieting often leaves you on a plateau that requires more food to drive weightless success.  She went on a mission to get her body and confidence back and found balance in real food, life, and sustainability along the way.

Here is her story:

“I am a wife and mother of two. I am 5’ 5’’ and for most of my life sat right around 135 pounds.  I had my first baby at 34 and my second baby at almost 37 and with my babies and older age came to the weight. 5 pounds turned into 10 and 10 turned into 20 plus. When I turned 40 I made it a focus to try and get healthy by losing the weight, but nothing seemed to work. Diet, exercise, nothing seemed to make any change. I would lose a few pounds and gain them right back over and over again.

I was so frustrated and discouraged and ready to call a doctor to begin the process of checking my thyroid and screening for medical problems when I noticed some of my friends had been steadily losing weight over a few months. What stood out to me was that very little had changed with their lifestyle, they weren’t working out or eating special food, they just dropped weight.

Through them, I connected with Amanda and learned about Macros. I learned that the reason I could never lose weight was that first I wasn’t eating enough, to begin with, and second I wasn’t eating a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and fat.  With Amanda’s help, I shifted the way I ate the foods I loved.  A big struggle for me was eating the amount of food I had to eat in a day. I learned how to eat my carbs and fats and about portions. Another struggle I had was protein and trying to find ways to get in enough to support my goals.  Now I understand how important it is for my body to function.

I have been with Amanda for 7 months and I have lost 26 pounds and all the baby weight. I have hit the maintenance stage and am healthier, I have more energy with my kids, and my clothes fit again!

More than that I have a better understanding of food, how it works with my body, and how to eat to fuel it. I still eat all the things I ate before like pizza, cookies, peanut butter, chocolate and more, but now I know how to eat them the right way to sustain my body and not overwhelm it. I don’t feel like I am fighting my body, or depriving myself, but rather I feel empowered and happy both with how I look, feel, and am able to eat.

I am so grateful for my time with Amanda and I recommend working with her to everyone who asks what I have been doing to lose the weight. Learning about macros isn’t a fad diet, but a sustainable change in how you eat and I promise it is worth it!”

6 Month Follow Up

“It’s been a few months since I have been on my own and I’m still doing great. I do track my foods, but not 100% of intake 100% of the time. I have discovered the boundaries I need to sustain the weight I lost but still eat without fear.

I make sure I always get my protein in. I’ve found that for me , this is what fuels my metabolism. Second , I’m not afraid now to eat what I want sometimes. If I’m a little over in carbs or fat it’s ok – it’s amazing how it all works out as long as I keep that protein solid.

I don’t worry anymore if I attend a wedding, party or dinner at a friend’s house.  I make smart choices which include selecting protein, going easy on high fat dressings and eat what I want keeping the general idea of my macronutrient ratios in mind. If I know I’ll be eating out that night , I will also sometimes track my morning and afternoon meals planning to allow myself the higher carbs and fat at dinner.  I think it’s all about planning.  When you invest in understanding food you get to a point where you can do that without much thought and effort because it becomes habit.”

You can read more client success stories like her’s HERE

Ready to become food aware and transform your life?

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

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Healthy Pantry Checklist

If the brain has to think too long to make decisions, it shuts down.

No joke.  This became really obvious when I was reading Donald Miller’s, “Building a Story Brand.”  When the brain feels overloaded with too many decisions it starts to burn too many calories and stops dead in its tracks.  He makes such a powerful point that the “human brain is drawn toward clarity.”

This was an ah-ha moment for me as it relates to food.  It is part of the reason that so many people fail at meal prep and healthy food decisions.  They simply have to make too many decisions to be successful. Thus, their brain begins to burn too many calories and quits.

McDonald’s is just way easier (and they know it).

For you to be successful in creating a healthy lifestyle you have to eliminate as many barriers to success as possible.  One of those barriers is creating a physical environment that breeds easy nutritional access. Specifically,  a kitchen that makes decision making simple and straightforward. One that is clean, fresh, organized, inviting and let’s just say it…pretty.

If you walked into a restaurant that was dirty, disorganized and a total disaster would you want to eat there?

Yeah…me either.  

Your kitchen is no different.  You must create an environment where you want to cook, where you can find things easily, where things stay fresh and where you feel like Gordon Ramsay every damn day.

One of the first places to start is your pantry.

To me, a healthy pantry contains items that are essential to building the foundations of not just meals but snacks.  They are high in quality, contain ingredients that are easy to read and aren’t too sugary sweet.

Overall, the pantry is a place of balance.

Together we are going to begin to create a pantry that invites you in to take control of your health, is packed with healthy go-to’s, and maintains balance in 6 easy steps.

6 easy steps to creating a healthy pantry

Here are six simple steps to creating a healthy pantry.

Step 1: Ditch the junk.

Yep, let’s clean it out and start fresh.  This way you don’t have to question dates and can eliminate any of the stuff that has been sitting there for far too long.  And if you don’t want to start from scratch then just ditch the stuff you know won’t support your goals.

I am talking about those trigger foods; foods you can’t moderate and leave you with an ugly food binge of mental guilt.  Identify which ones are the highest triggers and remove them for now until you have time to learn how to moderate.

There are times when the pantry begins to fill with too many sugary laden items and I have to go in deep and trash the treats (thank you Christmas, Halloween, and Valentines).

Step 2. Invest in long-term storage

When I mean invest, I mean don’t be afraid to buy something that will last because it is worth it.  If you do it right, this pantry project can provide you years of health and sanity. Buy storage that fits the space well and is durable to last whatever age span your family or you are.

Clear Storage is a must. It allows you to see to the inside and identify what the contents are without pulling basket after basket out.  Being able to see to what is on the inside saves wear and tear on the pantry and also saves your ears from the “MOM–what is there to eat?

Because I am a budget conscious girl, the first place I began looking for clear kitchen storage was TJ Maxx.  They have hidden treasures in their kitchen and food department and I love peeking in there frequently to see what they have in stock.

Sure enough, they had the brand of clear kitchen organizers I was exactly looking for, InterDesign.  This brand is carried at the Container Store (in case you want to go there for reference) but is almost double the cost of what I found at TJ Maxx or even from Amazon.  I purchased the various sizes on-hand and used them as a guide in size to purchase more from Amazon.

You can also check out 9 Simple Organization Tools to Declutter Any Kitchen by Lyn Mettler, of The TODAY Show who features my  very own clear storage organization tip along with other products that will help you create a kitchen environment for success.

I bought stackable containers for small items like the ones shown below. You can click HERE for the link to view them on Amazon.  I also bought larger ones for bagged items like rice, quinoa, and lentils like these from AMAZON.  The tall and skinny ones are great for layering in the pantry. You can shop for various depths and configuration to fit your pantry the best.

Wire baskets like these from AMAZON are also a great option that allows you to see inside.  Trust me, I speak from experience, you save yourself so much time and energy by seeing what is inside the bins first.

Plastic or Glass?

This highly debated topic is relevant to the pantry too.  Will you buy plastic storage, a much cheaper option, or glass?

Here is why glass may be your best option.  It stays cleaner because it is less porous, can be washed at high temperatures, and is 100% recyclable.

I use Mason jars for every storage solution I need.  Why? Because they are cheap, easy to find and for me, are really inviting.  You can order all sizes right from Amazon shipped to your house in less than 48 hours.  The pricing even beat a Hobby Lobby trip where I could use a 50% off coupon.

I use small pint Masons for spices and seasonings.  The larger quart size Mason jars are filled with flours, ground seeds and some of the items we use in larger volume.  I even use some of the half gallon sizes for things I buy in massive bulk like nuts.

If you prefer plastic or are on a budget, just make sure they are 100% BPA free.  Because these containers will be used for storage and won’t be heated at high temperatures in the microwave, the use of plastic outweighs your amazing effort to make the pantry a more healthy place to eat.

#3. Group like items

To keep focused and efficient, group like items together.  Keep nuts and seeds in the same place in jars or on a turntable so you know where to look for that item.  Over time, that location will become a habit and will create efficiency for the eye.

Place boxed items together too.  For example rice, quinoa and lentils, all dinner side items, in the same bin.  That way when you are scrambling for quick dinner options you can view all choices of similar purpose (carbohydrate) together.

This also helps when you are preparing your grocery shopping lists because you can make a quick scan of the location to see if you need to buy more.

#4. Consider what you want the focus to be

A pantry is a place for storage of items that aren’t extremely perishable.  That often leads to a mixture of whole foods like nuts and seeds but also processed items like grains and crackers.

Consider what you want the focus to be in your pantry, not just for you but for your little ones too.

Do you want those crackers to be at eye level for little people?  Or do you have jars of nuts and trail mixes that you want the focal point to be when they open the pantry door?  Think about what message you want to send when you organize the pantry and keep those items you want to be consumed most often at eye level.

Use turntables so that you and your family can have full access to what is available.  I have had so many awesome pantry foods get hidden behind something and they have gone to waste too soon.  A 2-tiered turntable like this one allows you to store jars of nuts, seeds so that you can easily give it a spin and find all the options available.  It also allows you to maximize your pantry space by stacking items and filling space upward.

Consider a grab-and-go quick snack bin like this one.  This basket is filled with quick snacks that we might need for a car ride or on the way to an event.  It’s filled with things we don’t have daily but are healthy bars like Larabars, Rx Bars, Red Bars and occasional other bars that may be a treat.

#5. Buy in Bulk when you can

The great part of making an investment in your pantry and buying proper storage is that you can begin to save money by shopping in the bulk bins at the grocery store.  You are likely to pay half of what you pay buying the packaged version because you are saving on the cost of packaging and labor according to the thepennyhoarder.com. You can buy in bulk as needed and then store in the pretty little jars you invested in.

Using Mason jars as discussed above guarantee freshness over time.

#6. Label it up

I always tell myself I will remember what is inside each jar I have.

WRONG!

Let’s just say I have made a really spicy batch of my cashew-pecan butter when I accidentally put in cayenne instead of cinnamon (totally wasn’t paying attention).

Point is, put a labeling system in place from the start so that you know what is inside each jar from the get-go.  You can use pre-printed labels, chalk, or simple dry erase markers. Labeling helps the entire family, especially beginning readers like mine.

I keep it simple and often use a dry erase marker for the tops of my mason jars.

You can buy chalkboard labels or even dry erase tape to save a bit of cash.

Don’t forget to label your jars with dates to keep track of freshness in the pantry too.  Write the date you opened it or the expiration date as listed on the product’s packaging.

Having a pantry that is organized and inviting inspires healthy habits and cooking.  You can make your pantry over on a budget and can modify any of these containers by even shopping at your local dollar store or on Amazon Prime.

Pantry Staples: How to stock a healthy, nutrient-dense pantry

Kids are home from school, backpacks are flung on the kitchen table, and within 2 minutes I usually hear the rusty squeak of the pantry door hinge.

The kids are hungry and want snacks.  

The fridge is full of healthy whole foods, but the pantry is usually where the simple quick stuff is.  They aren’t dumb…they want a snack that will satisfy that afternoon craving.

If this story sounds familiar (or you have one similar) then this confirms the importance of filling your pantry with foods that support your family’s health and wellness.

P.S.A.: What is in the pantry WILL get eaten, no matter.  Even if it is healthy or not.

As parents and spouses, we are responsible for filling the pantry with options that help keep a nutrient dense diet but also allow balance in life. That is a huge responsibility.

Sweet treats

I talk a lot about eliminating trigger foods if you don’t feel like you have high willpower at the moment.  Keep that in mind when stocking that pantry.  However, creating a healthy relationship with foods you enjoy from a young age is a really important piece of the food awareness puzzle.

When it comes to children, don’t underestimate their knowledge and understanding of the importance of food in their bodies.  Teach them what foods provide them, encourage them to reflect on how certain foods make them feel and allow them the power of choice.

I keep a small bin of “sweet treats” in the pantry because I want my children to know how to moderate their consumption of them.  We use the following food mantra in our home as an open (and simple) reminder of how we fuel our bodies:

“There are everyday foods.” (things like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, lean proteins).

“There are sometimes foods.” (things like a piece of chocolate, pasta, cereal, bread)

“And there are special occasion foods.” (cupcakes, ice cream, etc.)

This helps to create a simple visual and verbal reminder of what foods should be primarily composing our day-to-day diet.

Build a Foundation

There are things you can and should have on hand every single day.  These are things that serve as the foundation of meals and will make healthy living simple if you have them organized in your pantry all the time.  Beyond what you physically have in your home is teaching your children (and adults too) the power of choice when it comes to filling their body with foods.

What you fill your pantry with is what you will eat.  So chose wisely. Building a healthy pantry is a great responsibility.

Where can I buy these things?

Thrive Market

If you haven’t heard about Thrive market you are missing out! Think of Thrive as Costco meets Whole Foods all via a virtual store.  Essentially you pay an annual membership to get amazing prices on high-quality products including food, supplements, toiletries and home essentials.  The awesome part is shipping is FREE too on orders over $49!

You can shop for specific products via their online catalog, with all prices typically 25-30% below retail value.  Some of my favorite foodie products are hard to find and I don’t live near a retailer that carries them. Thrive comes in handy because I can order whatever I want and have it delivered to my doorstep. They also carry a few things that I have yet to find in my local grocer.

Thrive’s yearly membership cost is $60 (that breaks down to $5 a month) and is an awesome price point for a gift. When I got married we got a Costco membership and it was the best ever.  Thrive would have been even better! Click on the link below to start your 30-day FREE trial at Thrive and get FREE shipping.

Amazon Subscribe and Save

Amazon now offers the subscribe and save option.  You can pick your favorite items to be sent to your door automatically at a reduced price of anywhere from 10-25%.  If you know you are going to use it, this option is brainless and uber convenient.

Sprouts and Costco are my favorite local grocers for many of my pantry items.  I buy from the bulk bins at Sprouts and in bulk at Costco for some of our favorite go-to’s.

Healthy Pantry Checklist

Here is a list of must-have staples to help you build a healthy pantry.  You can download the entire list HERE.

Nuts, Nut butter, and seeds

Almonds

Cashews (If you haven’t tried my cashew-pecan butter you need to right now)

Pecans

Macadamia

Walnut

Sesame seeds

Chia seeds

Flax (seed and meal)

Hemp

Want the whole list?  Then CLICK here for a simple checklist you can take with you on your next grocery shopping trip to stock your pantry with real foods.

Refrigerator organization

I am embarrassed to admit this but there have times in my house when life has happened, the house is a disaster and I simply have no idea what is currently in the frig.  It isn’t always perfect food organization and freshness over here.  I am human too.

In fact, there have been moments where I’ve reached into the frig to grab fresh veggies only to find a two-week-old rotten zucchini that I had clearly forgotten about.  SO freakin’ gross.

Just like a well-organized pantry, your fridge is no different. In fact, it is even more gorgeous because a well-organized fridge with big, beaming lights is like a choir singing.  Okay, well maybe not, but it is an inviting space that beckons healthy eating.

Many of the same pantry tips apply to the refrigerator as well.

Use clear storage to save space

Just like the pantry, clear storage bins create a colorful invitation into the fridge.  Research suggests that when fruits and vegetables are visible their colors can increase your senses, thus we are more likely to grab them to eat. So, fill your fridge with bright enticing colors to sneak in a variety of vitamins and minerals.

After hitting the grocery store, the first thing I like to do is wash and dry veggies.  Once dry (because you don’t want to give mold any leg up) I use various size Mason jars to store them in, ready to eat.  This my friends is the number one way to increase whole food, healthy eating…have it ready.  That doesn’t mean just in the fridge but washed, cut and ready to devour.  I preach to my clients that success is about eliminating the barriers to your success.  By making vegetables and fruits readily available, there is no excuse (and no barrier).

 

Just like #2-6 above, group like items together, make the focal point the items you want to be consumed and don’t forget to label everything with dates.

Healthy Refrigerator (and Freezer) Checklist

Here is a list of items to help you begin to build a healthy, real-food kitchen.

Eggs

Egg whites

Almond Milk

Applesauce

Want the whole list?  Then CLICK here for a simple checklist you can take with you on your next grocery shopping trip to stock your refrigerator with real foods.

 

Remove the barriers to your success and create a physical environment in your kitchen that makes healthy choices and cooking a no-brainer.  These practices build sustainable habits that encourage a lifelong skillset of success.

What is your favorite healthy pantry snack?

 

Work Hard Be Kind,

AWalk

 

Amazon disclaimer: Awalkmyway is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to www.awalkmyway.com

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How many carbs in almonds?

Me and nut butter…it’s like the yin to my yang.  It’s incredibly addicting. So much that I make homemade cashew pecan butter every single week in my house because my family devours it. And almond butter…holy moly, we love that too.  Quite honestly, my pantry is stocked with a wide selection of nut butter.

Almond butter though takes the cake when it comes to media hype. They have plenty of properties that make them a worthy recipient. Almonds are packed with antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. A ½ cup of almonds provides ¼ the amount of recommended daily fiber intake for an adult female. So how many carbs are in almonds? Well, almonds are low in carbohydrates and boast an impressive amount of monounsaturated fat (the good kind of fat!) which can lower cholesterol, aid in the protection of our organs, and promote overall heart health.

How Many Carbs Are In Almonds? An Origin   

The almighty almond originates from the Mediterranean and southwest Asia, but since the 20th century, almond trees have largely been cultivated in Sacramento California. The almond is the seed of the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree. Almonds are closely related to apricots and peaches.

Yes, that’s right, almonds are actually considered to be a fruit according to the United States Forest Service. They come from the prunus family and fall into the stone fruit category. Stone fruit trees and shrubs produce fruits such as cherries, plums, peaches, and nectarines.

Your friends will be impressed when you tell them almonds and cherries are cousins and happen to make a delicious trail mix (just don’t forget to add the dark chocolate nibs!).

How many carbs are in almonds? And what about fat and protein? One serving of almonds, or 1 oz, provides 14 grams of fat (9 grams of monounsaturated fat, 3.4 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.1 grams of saturated fat), 6 grams of protein, and 6 grams of carbs. And as far as vitamins and minerals, almonds are rich in vitamin E, Magnesium, manganese, copper, and calcium.                   

But why do almonds have carbohydrates?

When we think nuts, we think FAT.  But most nuts contain more macronutrients within them including carbohydrate.  According to MyFitnessPal, one serving of almonds has 6 grams of carbohydrates. 2.9 grams of net carbs, and 3.1 grams of fiber. Remember, Net Carbs equal the total grams of carbs – grams of fiber. Fiber is most present in the skin of the almonds.  To make sure you are getting in all the fiber buy almonds with the skin on them in order to reap the benefits.

Almonds contain insoluble fiber which is indigestible, and is considered “nature’s broom”. Insoluble fiber aids in the motility of the digestive tract by moving materials through and adds to the bulk of stool.

This type of fiber is helpful in the diets of people who struggle with constipation or irregular bowel movements. The net carbs come from complex carbohydrates which are slow digesting and have a time releasing effect for energy usage. Complex carbohydrates don’t have the crash and burn effect like simple carbohydrates (candy, white bread, chips, etc.) do on people.

Fats

One ounce of almonds contains 9 grams of monounsaturated fat, the good type of fat, that is greatly associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Monounsaturated fat also improves insulin sensitivity and helps the body to properly utilize fat. Increasing the amount of monounsaturated fat in one’s diet will help aid in weight loss, and maintain a healthy metabolism (i.e maintain healthy body weight).

Polyunsaturated fats often referred to as omega-3 fatty acids, are also present in almonds. Polyunsaturated fats have been linked to raising HDL levels (good cholesterol) and Lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in persons at risk for heart disease. Lowering high blood pressure, and reducing the risk of type II diabetes is another added benefit from consuming foods containing polyunsaturated fat.

Protein

The media often touts almonds as a high protein source. Although this is true, the amount of protein (6 grams) in one serving of almonds is usually not sufficient enough to fulfill protein requirements for that one meal unless paired with another protein source.

Nuts are great, but can be easy to overeat, and can easily consume one’s allotted macronutrient values for the day in a hot second. Adding almonds to a grilled chicken salad, or making “chicken nuggets” with almond meal is a good way to “have your cake and eat it too”.

Magnesium

Magnesium is crucial in the functioning of over 300 chemical reactions required for proper body functioning. It is commonly used to alleviate constipation. The health benefits of Magnesium include calcium absorption, the formation of connective tissue (bye-bye wrinkles), proper metabolism of fats and carbohydrates as well as regulating blood sugar levels, and aiding in the proper functioning of thyroid levels.

Magnesium is also used by many health professionals to maintain healthy blood pressure in patients since it is a calcium- channel blocker. Brazil nuts and flaxseeds are also a good source of magnesium.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is antioxidant-rich which helps to stave off free radicals such as environmental pollutants, poor air quality, and sun damage. Many studies state that including Vitamin E also helps to suppress the oxidation or hardening of LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in the arteries. Other evidence suggests vitamin E helps to fight against the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. One 1oz. serving of dry roasted almonds provides 6.8 mg of Vitamin E.

Manganese, Calcium, and Copper

Nuts also contain minerals that play a key role in many of the body’s processes. Manganese is an important trace mineral that is found in small amounts in the body particularly in the kidneys, pancreas, liver, and bones. Manganese aids in the formation of bone, connective tissue, blood clotting factors, and plays a major role in the metabolization of fats and carbohydrates.

Calcium is a common mineral found in the body that is necessary for life. Calcium helps to form and maintain bone and bone density. Calcium plays an important role in muscle contraction, releasing hormones, transmitting messages through the nerves, blood clotting factors, and your heartbeat. A consistent level of calcium intake can be a preventative measure for people at risk for osteoporosis. Women need to be especially concerned about their calcium intake since they are more at risk for osteoporosis than men.

Copper is an essential trace mineral in the body that helps aid in the absorption of iron, the formation of collagen, and brain functioning. Iron and copper together form red blood cells. Copper can be found in the brain, liver heart, kidneys, and skeletal muscle.

Too little or too much copper in the body can lead to brain dysfunction. Copper plays a major role in the maintenance of collagen and elastin in our skin. Maintaining collagen and elastin will help in slowing down the effects of the aging process.

In my FREE 7 Day challenge we talk about the connection between food, mood and aging!  You can join totally FREE HERE!

Pecans

Pecans are the only nut native to North America and Mexico. Pecans are another superfood that helps to reduce inflammation, prevent oxidative stress, improve brain functioning, maintain bone health, and reduce symptoms of PMS. Yet even more reason to make your own cashew pecan butter too. They have a higher fat content than any other nut.

Pecans are high in omega- 9 or oleic acid which helps to protect the nervous system and helps to control inflammation levels within the body. Pecans contain nineteen vitamins and minerals. The most important being copper, zinc, and manganese. One 1 oz serving of pecans according to a MyFitnessPal query, contains roughly 20 grams of fat (11.6 grams monounsaturated fat, 6.1 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.8 grams of saturated fat), 4 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are native to Australia, but Hawaii is the largest exporter of this super delicious nut. Dip them in some dark chocolate and it is life changing. Macadamia nuts are high in flavonoids, which convert into antioxidants in the body. Macadamia nuts have a perfect one to one ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats which the standard American diet provides way too much omega- 6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3s.

Too much intake of omega-6 can lead to heart disease, atherosclerosis, and inflammation of the body. They are also high in Omega -7 in the form of palmitoleic acid which helps your body use omega- 3s properly. Without omega-7s, omega- 3s do not do their job as well. One ounce of macadamia nuts contains 204 calories, 21 grams of fat (17 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0.4 grams polyunsaturated fat, and 3.4 grams of saturated fat.)

Not all almonds are created equally

It can be hard to know if the products you are purchasing are going to be the best bang for your buck nutrition wise, especially when almonds are talked about as a superfood. According to the USDA, as of 2007, all almonds must go through a pasteurization process before being sold in stores. This is to prevent salmonella. They fumigate the almonds with propylene oxide gas that is carcinogenic and potentially gene-mutating.

Stores such as Costco have admitted to selling this type of almond in their stores. As long as the almonds are not roasted, stores are allowed to label their almonds “raw” even if they have been through this type of pasteurization process. This makes the shopping selection even more confusing to the average consumer trying to make health-conscious choices. So before you ask how many carbs are in almonds, ask if your almonds have been through this process.

Almonds have a bad side

Almonds may be a nutritional powerhouse, but they have a dark side. Many nuts contain phytic acid which inhibits the vitamins and minerals contained in the nut. This means that your body will pull out the nutrients rather than use them. It’s best to soak your almonds overnight for a minimum of 8 hours completely submerged in water.

By soaking the nuts, this will neutralize the phytic acid and enhance the enzymatic activity. Enzymatic activity helps in the digestion process and the utilization of vitamins and minerals.  The reality is though even with the presence of phytic acid, snacking on almonds provides a much greater nutrient value than a junk food counterpart.

Almond butter for weight loss

The reality is that almonds contain roughly the same macronutrient profile as other nut butter.  Eating almond butter over peanut butter because it contains more micronutrient benefits may have validity.  However, eating it for weight loss will not bring you any other benefits compared to another nut butter counterpart in the same quantities.

If you are ready to change your LIFE and start feeling amazing naked then join my FREE 7 Day Feel HERE.

A tablespoon of almond butter contains 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbohydrates and almost 4 protein.  This compared to a tablespoon of peanut butter also at 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbohydrate and 3 protein.

Almonds in recipes

Almonds are such a versatile nut and can be added to almost any meal or side dish. Eaten in moderation, almonds can provide long-lasting health benefits when paired with a healthy balanced diet.

Try throwing some almonds, bananas, and cinnamon into morning oats before a long day of work. The complex carbs from the oats and the fat from the nuts help maintain satiation well into the afternoon when you can finally sneak in your overdue lunch break.

Using sliced almonds or pecan bits atop a salad adds an awesome crunchy texture and sneaks in all the benefits of nuts as mentioned above.

When I make many spaghetti squash bakes, I sprinkle almond meal on top and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes until it gets nice and crispy.

One of my favorite treat recipes of all time is an almond flour-based chocolate chip cookie. You can find it here.  Although these cookies are macronutrient dense, they have whole, real food ingredients and are so dang good.  You can bake them and even freeze to help portion out and get a nice treat.

 

What are your favorite almond based recipes? Feel free to share below.

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5 Tips To Create Food Awareness

It’s dinner time, you’re driving home from work, and you are starving.

Like, HANGRY.

It’s Monday, so naturally, you’ve told yourself today is the day that you’re getting your life together and going to start changing habits and living a healthier lifestyle.

You decide to grab a quick healthy meal from your favorite restaurant or fast food joint, and as you scan the menu, you realize that you aren’t really sure what’s healthy. You decide on the salad because “Duh, salad is healthy”. When it arrives, it’s loaded with hard boiled eggs, nuts, bacon, dressing, chicken, and so much more. All of a sudden, what was supposed to be a healthy meal has turned into a 1,000 calories meal in the blink of an eye.

What you are lacking is real, long-term food awareness.

What is Food Awareness?

Food awareness is at the heart of long-term nutritional success.  My definition of food awareness is having knowledge and understanding of what food is made up of and what purpose it serves for the body so you can make food decisions that support your goals.

Sound complicated?

Increasing food awareness gives you the ability to answer the following questions:

What’s in the food?

What does that food do for you?

Whatis the food made of?

The more knowledge you have about the foods you eat, the more powerful your choices can be.  In turn, you can make better decisions on the foods you select to fuel your body. It takes time to invest in the understanding of food awareness, but it’s so worth it! It’s really the “secret sauce” behind my one-on-one work with clients.

You can read more about their success stories to building a lasting relationship with food here.

 

You don’t know what you don’t know

I learned a simple quote from my husband that is so applicable to food. He is a police officer who is frequently thrown into unique situations that bring about new learning.

He shared a quote with me they use in his unit often:

“You don’t know what you don’t know.”  

It is so relevant food too. How can you really understand all the excess ingredients and calories stuffed into foods if you don’t have a baseline level of knowledge to go from? How do you know what you’re putting into your body if you don’t know how your current eating habits are or what a nutrition label is?

I want to help you improve your food awareness by helping you practice a few simple steps that will help you gain knowledge and thus, increase your ability to make good choices. I’m going to share with you 5 easy tips that you can start implementing to increase your food awareness.

5 Tips To Create Food Awareness

Here are 5 tips to improve your food awareness.

1. Evaluate Your Current Eating Habits

To become food ware, you must first learn what you’re eating RIGHT NOW. There are so many different ways that you can evaluate your current eating habits.

A food journal like this one is a simple place to start.  You can list the foods you eat each day and then ask yourself a few questions, like:

  • How do I feel after I eat these foods?
  • Did I eat mostly whole foods, or processed foods?
  • Did I crave certain foods, or crave foods more than I normally do?

We all need to know where we are starting from, so we can gauge where we are going. By starting small, like writing in a food journal, we can understand what we are doing now so we can look back and see how the foods we eat impact us.

If you want to take it up a level, use an app! My favorite food app is My Fitness Pal. In the beginning, don’t worry about the numbers, just use it as a diary and record your foods. You can even make notes and comments in the app

This is really valuable information to have. As you begin to get more advanced you can then begin to look more specifically at the macronutrient values of food, including fiber and lots of other valuable info about the foods you are taking in.

2. Invest In Understanding Nutrition Labels

If you want to increase your food awareness, take the time to read and understand nutrition labels. When you go to the store, pick up the foods, and actually read the labels!  First things first, read the ingredients. If you struggle to pronounce the ingredient list, it’s a great red flag to reevaluate. That’s just too much “stuff” that’s not a necessity.  A great rule of thumb when selecting pre-packaged foods is to stick with something that has roughly a maximum of 8-10 ingredients listed that you are able to pronounce out loud.  Likely the other unnecessary terms are disguised sweeteners and preservatives that don’t serve your overall health any good.

Ingredients are listed in order by weight.  The ingredient contained in the largest quantity will be listed first and the smallest last.  What does that mean to you?  If you find something like “sugar” (or another secret form of it) listed first, it is likely a product you should pass on.  Look for things like sugar and sodium to be listed last (or not at all).

Just because the ingredient list doesn’t spell out the word “SUGAR” there about 50-60 other forms of the word that could be included to sweeten the product.  Manufacturers are in the business of selling their product, so they use other forms of sweetener to mislead the average consumer.  Labels and advertising on foods is truly a very misleading market.

Next, asses serving size. Nutrition labels can be tricky, and most of the time you can’t eat the whole box as a serving size. You may read the label and realize that the box contains 8 servings of the food inside, increasing the macronutrient ten-fold.

Next, begin to familiarize yourself with macronutrients. How many carbs, protein, and fat does each serving size have? How much fiber? You can download my FREE Macro Basics guide HERE to understand more about what macronutrients are and why they are important to you.

At the end of the day, real food doesn’t have nutritional labels.  The awesome part is there are resources to better understand their values too.  MyFitnessPal has a huge database of food so you can learn what really is in an egg, cup of strawberries, or any of your favorite whole foods.  I also love Calorie King as a means of researching foods and also as a guide to what is in some of your favorites foods when dining out.

3. Get To Know Portion Sizes and Food Value

Portion control is a major step toward food awareness.  When dining out, we are served HUGE portion sizes, and it’s so much more on our plates than we really need.

A basic step in portion control is learning use to use your hands as a guide.  To create a balanced plate, add a:

  • A handful of lean protein
  • A handful of carbs
  • Two handfuls of vegetables ( and maybe a bit of fruit)
  • A thumb full of healthy fat

No complicated measuring or tracking initially, just food awareness when it comes to portion sizing. You carry your hands with you everywhere you go and using them as measurements give you a nudge in the direction of what you a true portion should look like. You’ll come to realize that maybe you weren’t eating enough, or maybe overeating at each meal.

It’s also important to familiarize yourself with texture and the purpose of foods. Foods that share similarities often fall into the same macronutrient category.  Think about fruit, like bananas and apples, and how they share the characteristic of sweet. Things that taste sweet tend to be high in carbohydrates.

Nuts and seeds leave an oily feeling in the mouth and leave you well satiated.  They all belong to the same macronutrient category of fat. If you aren’t sure which foods fall into which macronutrient category, check out this link to my free real food list that helps you see the categories of macronutrients that foods fall into to help you select portions for your meals.

Download my FREE list of real food macronutrient ideas HERE

Learn the Value of Food

Quick and convenient foods often provide a calorie dense, but a nutrient-poor option.  When we measure up fast-food options or pre-packaged options against real food, they often leave little to be desired.

Take a look at the picture below.  One meal is a fast-food restaurant’s chicken nugget meal (4 nuggets and small french fry) compared to my homemade version of chicken nuggets, curly sweet potato fries, and cauliflower “wings”.  Both contain the same calorie content.  However, there is clearly much more bang for your buck when you chose the real-food option.

Although these foods contain the same calorie content, their macronutrient profiles are different.  The fast-food meal has nearly 25 grams of fat and only 6 grams of protein.  My homemade meal has nearly 40 grams of protein and only 8 grams of fat.

Let’s look at another example.  Below is my favorite on-the-go bar option, the Rx bar.  It contains 12 grams of protein, 25 grams of carbohydrate and 9 grams of fat.  You can see a side-by-side comparison of two other meal and snack options that contain a very similar macronutrient profile.

The point is that you must understand what your food is made of to truly understand the best option for you.  You can get a whole lot more food when we sacrifice convenience and work towards bringing in more real food options.  Ultimately, it is all about balance and understanding the reward and consequences of food selections.

You can watch and listen to my Facebook Live where I talk about food values and real food comparisons HERE.

4. Realize That The Whole = The Sum Of The Parts

The next time you go out to eat, take your burger, burrito, or whatever you get and deconstruct it. What’s inside the burrito? What’s underneath that hamburger bun? This will expose the oils the ingredients were cooked in, sauces, and things like fried onion rings hidden under the protective covering of a “bun.” Those items can really increase the caloric value of the meal.

If we deconstruct these meals, we can gain a better sense of what is truly in the food.  Ketchup, Chick fil a sauce, butter, all add up when we don’t pay attention to what is really hidden inside. Once you become aware, you can make more informed choices, like asking for steamed veggies (instead of sauteed in butter) or the sauce/dressing on the side so you can control how much is used.  In the end, knowledge is power.  When we make these choices consistently, they become a habit and that is where real change happens.

5. Evaluate Your Real Hunger

When was the last time you really listened to your body and the hunger cues it provided?

We are creatures of habit, so many of us are used to running from place to place and not paying attention to what our bodies are telling us they need. We eat fast, snack often and don’t ever truly slow down enough to listen to what our bodies need.

Take a moment to stop and really get in tune with the messages your body is sending you. These days, we aren’t listening to our hunger; eating has just become a habit for us. Before you eat, feel it out. Are you truly hungry? Maybe you’re just thirsty, or bored, or eating just because others around you are. Increasing our food awareness also means increasing trust with our bodies.

After you eat a serving of food, ask yourself “am I content?”. Are you going back for seconds because that’s what you’ve always done? Have you created a habit of feeling like you need more because you’ve eaten so fast you haven’t really let the rest of your body catch up? Take this time and listen to your body and what it’s trying to tell you. You may be surprised that you’re full after just one serving of food.

At the end of the day, food awareness is a lifelong skill that is priceless.  All it takes is you investing time and looking at your day to day life so you can make simple changes. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s really all about your mindset.  These small habits all compounded over time create a life rich in food awareness that will support your health and wellness goals.

What is one area of food awareness you struggle with?

 

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How do I meal prep?

#meal prep. It’s a continually trending hashtag, with over seven million uses on Instagram.

Creating a plan is really the single most important piece to executing your nutritional goals.  It ranks right up there with personal accountability.

But it is freakin’ hard.  It’s hard to carve out the time and to know what the heck you actually need to buy, how much to cook, and even how to cook it all. It’s completely overwhelming.

So what do most people do?

They skip it.

But not YOU. You won’t skip out on it. Because you are here.

I am breaking down meal prep into 4 simple steps that will take away your overwhelm and will save you time. It’s devoted to helping you take away the barriers to your success and help you find simple ways to execute prep and get more whole, real foods into your day.

You do not have to do it ALL right out of the gate.  As you read, you can find what works for you and ease into the process of meal prep.  Pick the parts that work into your life and slowly add in more aspects over time. This first part is to help you start to organize your meal prep.

If you are ready to take the next step, you can buy my Meal Prep Hero guide RIGHT NOW that will dive into these steps in more depth, walk you through a sample week of meal prep from start to finish AND give you 2 weeks worth of more ideas for planning.  BONUS: it will also provide you a grocery shopping and meal planning template.

I want all the other stuff in the Meal Prep Hero Guide!

Benefits of meal prepping

There are many great benefits to making meal prep a habit, including:

Saves a dollar, dollar bill Y’all

Yep, that’s right.  When you prep in volume you end up avoiding those last minute stops at the grocery store where you buy too many unused ingredients for one meal.  When you organize your meal prep, you can use multiple ingredients across multiple meals, thus saving you money. AND if you get great at DOUBLE PREP (which I discuss below) it saves you massive amounts of money from eating lunches out during the work week.

No excuses for not staying the course

Meal prepping takes away temptation and puts the resources you need to be successful right at your fingertips.  Ready meals and snacks help you stay the course and eliminates massive barriers between you and your success.

Less snacking

When well balanced meals are ready, you will be eating foods that are more satiating. Greater satiation means that you will have less desire to snack and will likely eliminate the temptations to reach for something that doesn’t support your goals.  Balanced meals help regulate blood sugar levels which helps maintain long-term health and hunger regulation.

Success in your goals

Anytime you have a goal, you must have a plan of action to get there.  Part of the action plan to lose weight or improve the quality of foods you are eating must include meal prep as part of that action plan.

4 Steps To Meal Prep Success

#1: Organize Meal Prep

The first step in meal prepping is the initial organization. I’ve also found that this is the part that feels so overwhelming that so many people just stop because they don’t know where to start.

In theory, I could just offer a whole list of foods and grocery shopping lists and map out an entire plan for you. BUT that does not teach you one darn thing. It would last, but only for a bit. So instead, I am going to take you through step-by-step directions so you can be a meal prepping boss. Just like my work with clients, I want you to develop a skill set that will last you a lifetime. So here’s how to organize your meal prep.

Sync your schedule

Look at your week and think about what is going on. If you are married or have children, include their schedules too. This is the time to decide how many meals you will be having at home.

I have a family of four and we usually plan for 5 meals for the week, 1 night of leftovers and 1 meal out as a family (we really look forward to this one). Five meals are totally manageable and a 6th night for leftovers makes sure you let nothing go to waste.

What will you prep?

This is the fun, creative part of the organization and planning process.  This is also the part where you get bored over time.

The most basic way to pick what you will prep is opting for the “PICK 3 COMBO” (covered below).  This oversimplifies the planning and also helps guide you in the direction of real, whole foods.

Keep it Simple

One of the biggest failures, when you start to organize your meal prep (aside from not making it a priority), is making it too complicated. You don’t have to make gourmet meals. You just need to batch cook a few choices of lean proteins, a selection of vegetables and starches. Each can be recycled using spices and seasonings to totally change the flavor and consistency.

Pick your portions

Next, you’ll need to pick your portions. This is where you think about how you plan to use each meal.  Will they be stand-alone dinners? Or will you become the master of meal prep and do what I call “DOUBLE PREP” so that you have lunches for the next day too.

DOUBLE PREP is the key to my sanity. Although I do some mass meal preps, my favorite form of meal prep is doubling up the portions for dinner to kill two birds with one stone and make lunch for my husband and me for the next day too.

The main goal is to have an idea of how much you will need so you have enough to organize your meal prep.

Make a grocery list

Now that you’ve got your recipes and portion sizes you can start to create a grocery shopping list.  If you organize that list by category, you also simplify the shopping process and become more efficient maneuvering through the store.

You can download a super easy to use meal planning calendar and grocery shopping list here too (because this post wouldn’t be complete without it).

Shop

Lastly, shop until you drop. BUT my number one suggestion for shopping is not to do it on an empty belly. If you are hungry at the grocery store you are likely to creep into the aisles and add things to the cart that aren’t going to support your goals.

You’ve spent all of this time planning, you want to go in with a mission and GET IT DONE.

And boom, just like that we’ve taken what could have been a super complicated process and broken it down into manageable steps. Now you can organize your meal prep with ease. Remember, start small and keep it simple. Above all, just start.

The work week comes fast and before you know it’s Friday and you haven’t spent any time preparing yourself for the week. We spent time organizing meal prep in order to get rid of the overwhelm of even starting it. Now it’s time to dig in and learn how to start executing meal prep. For me, this is the best part.

#2: Executing meal prep

Wash and Dry

Turn on your favorite Pandora station and go to work.  The first step is gathering your ingredients and washing, drying, and peeling whatever is needed. If time is really a HUGE factor, don’t be afraid to buy pre-cut vegetables to help eliminate some of the basic steps in meal prep to make the task less daunting.

Become the ultimate multi-tasker

To start executing meal prep well and become efficient, you have to become great at doing lots of things at the same time. When you begin a massive meal prep session, the first thing you need to do is begin to cook the items that will take the longest first.

If you plan to cook protein in the crockpot, put it in first so that it can cook while you cut, chop and saute. In general, proteins will take the longest followed by vegetables and carbohydrates depending on their method of preparation.

Get those proteins going and while they roast, grill, or sit in the crockpot, move onto the prep of the other items including chopping vegetables or getting your carbs ready for the oven or Instant Pot. I talk about this in much more depth in my guide that will teach you how to become a meal prep hero that you can buy HERE.

Pick 3 Combo

The most basic way to pick what you will prep is opting for the “Pick 3 combo”.  This oversimplifies the planning and also helps guide you in the direction of real, whole foods.

Click HERE to learn more about the Pick 3 combo in my meal prep guide.

Once you get the hang of it, you can add different flavors, spices and swap macronutrients to create diversity in your meals.  Chose a few proteins for the week that can be repurposed by adding new spices, seasonings or simple sauces to change up the flavor.

My favorite seasonings include Trader Joe’s Everyday seasoning, Chili Lime, Lemon Pepper and Everything But The Bagel. I am also in Love with Primal Palate’s garlic and herb seasoning, and BBQ seasoning. You can order them HERE in awesome combo packs that are so worth it.

There are also sauce choices you can add that won’t add a ton of caloric value including regular mustard, dijon mustard, Frank’s Buffalo sauce, diced pickles, or some Greek yogurt-based dips to create a creamy condiment.

Efficiency is key

Think about using the kitchen space you have efficiently. Your goal is to maximize the use of all the surfaces so you can be efficient with your time. If the crockpot is filled with protein, bust out the Instant Pot to cook rice or potatoes (or vice versa).  If you don’t have either of these kitchen gadgets (I highly recommend first getting the Instant Pot because it can do both pressure and slow cooking) then use the stove and oven simultaneously.  Saute proteins while you roast a large batch of sweet potatoes in the oven on one tray and broccoli and cauliflower on the other tray.

Efficiency will come with practice. Just like any new adventure, it takes time to master it and get a really great rhythm. What might take 3-4 hours in the first few attempts will soon only take 2 hours. 2 hours of your time executing meal prep that will lead you to an entire week of success.  It is 100% worth it.

Portion and Package

Once everything is cooked and ready, it’s time for the grand finale… the packaging. If you track your macros, then this is the time to bust out the scale and measure out each meal to guarantee accuracy and success.

If your goal is simple balanced meals and accountability with a meal prep plan, then balanced portions of good quality whole foods are what you are after.

Use your hand as a guide and aim for one handful of protein, one handful of carbohydrate and two handfuls of vegetables.

There are lots of options when it comes to meal prep containers.  You can choose plastic or glass, and base your choices on whatever your budget and material requirements are.

These plastic containers are easy to use, can be bought in bulk for lots of weekly meals, are BPA free, and dishwasher safe.

If glass is your preferences, these rock. I have also seen awesome sets at our local Costco as well.

Once each meal has a lid on it, use a dry erase marker to list the contents inside and macronutrient quantities if you need to. Don’t skip this step, especially if you plan to freeze, because you will forget what the heck you made and on what date.

Snacks

While things feel under control and are cooking away, this is also a great time to prep snacks. I use this time to chops fresh carrots, celery and cucumber to pair with my favorite Greek yogurt dips (you can find the recipes for these HERE) or hummus as a snack and also for my kiddos’ lunches. I love to store things (after they dry) in mason jars so I can see what is in the frig fast and to tempt my kids (and hubby) with healthy options.

If you are a really advanced meal prepper, you might even measure out servings of nuts, trail mixes, crackers, or fruit to have as grab and go options in your pantry or fridge.

Freeze it too

And finally, don’t forget the freezer.  It is really helpful to make a few extra meals for the freezer each time you meal prep. There is sure to be a night where you are just not prepared nor feel like cooking. These freezer meals will save your day and will help you maintain laser focused on your mission to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The work week comes fast and before you know it’s Friday and you haven’t spent any time preparing yourself for the week. We spent time organizing meal prep in order to get rid of the overwhelm of even starting it. Now it’s time to dig in and learn how to start executing meal prep. For me, this is the best part.

Ready to dive into meal prep from start to finish?  Grab my guide to becoming the hero of your own meal prep HERE.

 

#3 Add variety

Now you just need ideas.

And who has time for being creative??

Diversity breeds sustainability. I teach my clients that all the time. If you eat the same stuff day in and day out then you are likely to get bored. You need to make time for ideas that don’t have to be complicated.

If you stick with my PICK 3 COMBO to simplify meal prep, then you can do a few simple things to increase variety in your meal prep. And super bonus…stick with it until the end of the post for 5 resources for even more ideas.  If you are ready to start now, you can grab my guide to becoming a meal prep hero which will give you exact meal ideas and walk you through how to execute your own meal prep from start to finish.

 Seasonings

Bust open that spice cabinet and use your favorite seasonings.  They change the flavor of your food completely and can turn your crockpot chicken into Asian wraps, chili lime taco salads, or BBQ chicken pizza.

When meal prepping in batches, make the initially cooked meals simple in flavors with some salt, pepper and garlic.  This will leave room for increasing diversity variety in your meal prep during the week.

Here are a few of my favorite seasonings to keep on hand:

  • Primal Palate Seasonings (these are pricey but the best I’ve used and I love the Meat and Potatoes blend and simple Garlic and Herb blend as well)
  • Trader Joe’s Chili Lime
  • Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel
  • Trader Joe’s’ Everyday Seasoning
  • Maldon Sea Salt Flakes (so good in my skinny version of guacamole)

Add condiments

Another simple way to change the flavor of your food is to add condiments such as sauces and salsas.  The only tip I have here is to be aware of the contents and make sure you aren’t adding a massive amount of calories through condiments.

A few of my favorite condiments include:

  • Mustard
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Franks Red Hot (mix this with Dijon and holy yummy)
  • Greek Yogurt (you can add this with seasonings to make a dip like this one)
  • Salsa

Swap the starch

To increase variety in your meal prep, simply swap the starch you typically pair with your protein and vegetables.

Usually have rice with lemon pepper chicken?

Swap it for roasted sweet potatoes.

Usually have sweet potatoes with sloppy joes?  

Swap them out for some quinoa.

No over complication, just simple no hassle meal prep.

 

Have protein variety

Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.  Meal prep does not need to consist of chicken every week. Try new proteins along the way to add flavor and texture variety. In addition, the diversity of protein allows for lots of micronutrient benefits as well. For a complete list of lean proteins, click HERE.

Change the way it was cooked

Lastly, swap your prep strategy.  If the weather permits, forgo the oven and grill everything.  There is something about meals from the grill that make me feel like summer and a La Croix with a splash of lime.

Or bust out your sheet pans, use a light spray of olive or coconut oil and a few simple seasonings to roast a whole bunch of potatoes and veggies to batch prep.  Oven roasting is great because you can allow things to cook while you master multitasking doing other things to get ready for your week. Changing up the cooking method adds flavor and diversity throughout the week. I cover which cooking methods are actually best for meal prep and how long you can store food in my Guide to Becoming a Meal Prep Hero HERE-

Top 4 Resources for meal ideas

You stuck around to the end (or skipped here). Either way, I don’t care because I just want you to be a meal prep master. Here are my top resources for meal prep ideas that will give you simple recipes that you can turn into weekly go-to’s.  Some recipes may be too complicated because remember that part of the success of meal prepping comes from keeping it simple. However, they may inspire ideas, flavors and combinations you would have otherwise passed over.

  1. Skinnytaste
  2. Detoxinista
  3. Paleomg
  4. My Pinterest (shameless plug) because I add yummy ideas all the time

#4 Simplify with meal pre must-haves

No meal prep post would be complete without a guide to my favorite tools and supplies that make meal prepping easy. Your budget and lifestyle will dictate the need for each of these.  What I do know is that each of these meal prep must haves offers something unique to the meal prepping process that may become the magic of your meal prep success.

Instant Pot

I am a raging Instant Pot fan because once I tried it…I never looked back. I still use my crockpot but I love having this on hand so that if I don’t plan ahead, I can still get dinner on the table quick. It can pressure cook and slow cook and it makes that most amazing hard boiled eggs.

If you could buy just one kitchen gadget, this would be my suggestion because it has so many features and is an all-in-one kitchen appliance. This is the ultimate tool on my meal prep must-haves list, and I’d be lost without it.

Crockpot

This was my first kitchen appliance and first cooking love. I still use mine often. It is a great purchase for a newbie in the kitchen because the buttons are simple and its use is straightforward. Throw in a protein or other ingredients, add some liquid and let it cook for 6-8 hours. It’s foolproof most of the time.

Air Fryer

I am not gonna lie.  I was extremely reluctant to try the Air Fryer because I didn’t need one more thing. However, this little handy gadget can come through with that lightly fried finish that some foods just need without the mess of oil or the macronutrient fat bomb!  You can put in so many yummy food options for a solid golden finish. This should be on your meal prep must-haves list if you like crispy food without all the extra oil or greasiness.

You can buy the Air Fryer in multiple sizes to accommodate more food.  My opinion is to go big, especially if you are feeding a family so you don’t have to do multiple batches for one meal.

Some of my favorite things to put in the Air Fryer are kale chips, sweet potato fries and chicken.

Glass Storage Containers

An eco-friendly form of meal prep storage can happen in the glass containers.  They lock tight and the super bonus is you can reheat your food right in them. Plus, they’re easy to use.

Plastic Storage Containers

If glass containers are too bulky or unreasonable for your commute, you can opt for a more simple option.  These plastic containers are more cost-effective, stack nicely in the refrigerator and are super simple to pack for work or school.

Reusable Sandwich Bags

These are my jam! You can put dry and wet ingredients in them and reuse them for your snacks weekly. The initial investment saves you lots of money in the long run because you don’t have to buy throw away Ziplocs anymore. Like, ever. And they are easy to clean too.

Lunch bag

If you are on the go and work has you living out of your car, then this is a worthwhile investment.  It allows you to pack multiple meals, snacks and keep them cold all day.

Lunch Bots

I am a fan of Lunchbots products all around. I bought my first container 4 years ago when my daughter was in preschool for a safe and dishwasher friendly options. We still use it today.  I’ve purchased more along the way for my son and hubby. These are awesome for kids meal prep and if you stick them in the fridge overnight, it helps keep your food cool all day.

Dry erase markers

Who thought these would be on my meal prep must-haves list? The finishing touch of meal prep is labeling your food, quantities, and put the date you made the meal on them. No matter what type of container your food is stored in, using dry erase markers makes it easy to label and reuse.  These are a must for meal prep and are often overlooked.

Make meal prep simple and invest in things that make your life easier. Changing habits is a long-term investment so commit yourself to the process and create an environment for success…which includes meal prep must-haves.

Creating a relationship with food that lasts is about forming habits, putting in the work and investing in your health.  Long-term results do not come from fad diets that produce overnight results.  Meal planning and prepping is a skill and habit that is 100% worthwhile.

These steps are the basic framework for success but I’ve put together a whole lot more in my Meal Prep Hero Guide.  In it, I will provide you a grocery list and walk you through one week’s of meal prep from start to finish AND provide you two weeks more of meal ideas.  It also included details on safe methods of preparation and storage, a grocery shopping and meal planning template and some detailed tips not included in this post.

Ready to learn how to implement these steps?  BUY my guide to becoming the hero of your own meal prep HERE.

Work Hard Be Kind,

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