Healthier Choices::My Meal Plan
The way I feed my family has certainly evolved over the 40 years I've been cooking. From the first week as a new bride I diligently made out menu plans...in fact I still have that menu plan from the first weeks of becoming Mrs. Greene. I can assure you my menus today don't have bologna sandwiches on white bread.....I've come a long ways baby!
We decided recently that we were going to make some changes in our diet and it has been a welcome difference from the same old-same old that I was getting so tired of making. As I said, we've come a long ways from bologna sandwiches on white store-bought bread and this is just another step in our journey of eating healthier.
This meal plan doesn't have a name and it is just what works for us at this time and what we feel good about putting into our bodies. It does focus on less meat and LOTS more veggies than we were consuming before we determined to really eat a lot more vegetables and fruits daily. It has simplified that age old question for me and probably you have said it too...of "what can i fix for meals today"? We are repeating week after week with my plan but still give way for freedom to change it up as we like or by what is in the pantry or refrigerator that day.
What I am avoiding or eating in small quantities:
DAIRY including CHEESE
My husband is already very ship-shape and fit at age 68 and weighs the same as he did in his twenties and works out with weights every day and runs, etc. (I am not even going to mention myself as it is pretty much the opposite of him in those regards) but for him he is mostly avoiding the dairy (due to his past problem with kidney stones) and sugar except what naturally occurs in fruits. He still eats my homemade bread as he burns a lot of calories in a day and he has to fill up on something. He also enjoys the same lunch with me each day and evening meal so is focusing on veggies rather than meat also. But we are not avoiding meat altogether. We have simply drastically reduced the meat we were consuming and added in way more veggies than we were eating before.
HERE IS WHAT I HAVE FIXED FOR A WEEK:
BREAKFAST Monday - Friday:
The night before I prepare his and my breakfast. You can see how I do it here.
We always eat this Monday - Friday. He eats his at 6 a.m. and I eat mine at 10 a.m. It just works that way for us. We take integral collagen everyday and so it gets mixed in with the oats.
This day is a break from weekdays for me and I make caramalized onions using some olive oil and stir fry in shredded organic fresh brussel sprouts. I use that for the base and top it with 1-2 fried eggs. I drink KEVITA Probiotic Tangerine flavored drink with it. My husband LOVES his Breakfast in Bed Oats and he has it every day of the week.
Today breakfast is a TREAT for me and I enjoy it on our 30 minute drive to church. I steep 3 bags of YOGI BLUEBERRY GREEN TEA in a STAINLESS TUMBLER and add Almond Silk Vanilla Creamer and my collagen to it. I might change it up when hot weather gets here and have my smoothie that is made with almond milk, OJ concentrate, Spirulina and collagen and ice.
LUNCH: Monday - Saturday
Everyday for lunch it is a MEGA salad. We don't do salad dressing but instead give the top of it a shake of MCT Oil (liquid palm and coconut oils) and Balsamic Vinegar along with coarse celtic salt. These are not boring and they are BIG!
I fill a large glass deep dish pie plate full of fresh goodness. It takes quite a while to eat this big salad and I was surprised that it fills me up. We have come to look forward to our lunch each day and even I am shocked I can eat this many fresh veggies without it drowned in high calorie salad dressing.
I change it up a bit every day but an example of what I put in each salad is:
CHOPPED KALE & CABBAGES
GRANNY SMITH APPLE
BROCOLLI or CAULIFLOWER RICE
RAISINS OR CRAISINS
PINE NUTS OR SUNFLOWER SEEDS
CASHEWS OR PECANS OR ALMONDS
RED OR YELLOW SWEET BELL PEPPER
On days where we want something a big more "comforting and warm" for lunch I add sauteed veggies on top of the salads...like zuchinni spiralized into noodles sauteed in a drizzle of olive oil with garlic or grilled asparagus, I just pile it on top and it is delicious!
Many days I make our salad for lunch and while everything is out I make another in 1/2 gallon glass jars so the next day all I have to do for lunch is grab it from the refrigerator and serve..making the next day's lunch absolutely quick & easy!
This may change after a while but for now it just works! It is the day we get a treat of meat and I make certain the meat is thawed and I make a quick spaghetti sauce with meat when I get home from church. I spiralize a few large zuchinnis and stir fry them in olive oil with garlic. That works for our noodles/pasta and we have come to love it! I also make a small side salad not near as large or as many ingredients as the weekday salads we eat for lunch. It's easy to add to it if there are more than just me and my husband here to eat...I make a pot of pasta noodles for the guys and garlic bread and they can enjoy the meal with us and there is really no extra fuss for me to add those few things to make the meal suitable for anyone else here.
SNACKS & SWEETS: If I get feeling like I've got to have a snack I choose celery with almond butter or sometimes popcorn and a KEVITA Tangerine. I also love KIND bars that are low on the glycemic index and are made with non-gmo whole foods. They are 200 calories each so I limit them to only 1 or 2 a week. Our treats for sweet stuff is Avocado-Sweet Potato Brownies with a few walnuts & a dollop of whipped cream (tsk tsk!) or Lily's chocolate bars sweetened with stevia (just a few squares .... not the whole bar!).
DINNER: Monday - Saturday
I've given each nite a theme and we usually have the same thing but as we continue on with this plan I am sure I will switch it up some. It has been so freeing to already know what is going to be on the menu and makes preparing so much easier! I'll just give an example of one menu to help inspire you with what I have served for each of these nites. We have loved ALL of it!
MONDAY: SOUP NITE
Tonite I made a big pot of white bean chili and skipped the "meat". I did use a box of organic chicken broth for the liquid and it was very flavorful. We didn't even miss the meat. I also left out the corn as I couldn't find any as it was hiding at the bottom of my chest freezer. It was still good and we made a skillet of gluten-free cornbread to go with it.
TUESDAY: TACO/FAJITA NITE
Tonite I made Fajita Bowls. The bottom had a bed of jasmine rice. I stir-fried in a bit of olive oil 3 colors of sweet peppers along with 2 large onions and sliced mushrooms. This is the recipe that inspired me. It was absolutely DELICIOUS! The avocado made it very filling and satisfying. Some weeks I will switch it up and have a taco salad.
WEDNESDAY: INDIAN NITE
Tonite I made up my own recipe for the main dish. It was simple and very tasty and satifsying...but then I LOVE INDIAN food so this is my favorite nite of the week. I cooked some red lentils, barley and chick peas together in chicken broth with garam masala spice, garlic and curry powder. When the mixture was ready I added in a lot of baby spinach and stirred the hot mixture until it wilted.
I served it over oven baked brown rice. I stir-fried (Frozen) Haricot Verts (skinny young green beans) in a bit of olive oil in a cast iron skillet as a side vegetable and made my husbands favorite, fried breaded okra (I pan fry it in coconut oil).
THURSDAY: BEANS & RICE NITE
Tonite I made our family favorite of black beans with oven-baked brown rice. The boys got home and joined us so they loaded theirs with grated cheese and ranch dressing but I held back and just ate the beans on rice with salsa and restrained myself to only 6 tortilla chips. I always add "taco" type seasonings to my black beans and make them from dried beans in my Instant Pot. It takes less than 2 hours from start to finish. My brown rice is always oven-baked. Simply put 2 1/2 cups brown rice in an oven-safe large casserole that has a lid and add 5+ cups of water and a heavy dash of salt. Cover and set oven to bake for 1 hour at 415 degrees. Turn off oven and let rest covered in the oven until ready to eat.
FRIDAY: CHINESE NITE
Tonite I made a vegetable stir fry with zucchini, broccoli, snap peas, onions, squash, carrots and peppers. I seasoned it with fresh ginger and garlic and Braggs Aminos. I served it over jasmine rice. We LOVE my homemade eggrolls and so they made the meal extra special! They are filled with carrots, cabbage, bean sprouts, ginger, garlic, spring onions, and browned ground venison.
SATURDAY: BURGER NITE
Tonite I made vegetarian burgers and seasoned potato wedges. Ketchup was our treat for the wedges and I had sliced tomato and avocado along with crunchy dill pickle spears and sliced onion for the burgers. For the guys I made venison burgers and had homemade buns for them. I froze the extra vegetarian burgers so next Saturday will be easy-peasy! For my veggie burgers I roughly followed a recipe online and added to it liberally and with what was on hand...it basically was a mixture of carrots, black beans, oats, chickpeas, parsley, onion along with spices and salt and pepper. I mixed it all up in a food processor, formed patties and baked them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. The outside was crispy and they were really flavorful. There are lots of wonderful recipes online to be tried for a vegetarian style burger.
SUNDAY: SHAKE NITE
Sundays I go light and easy and we drink a Chocolate Protein shake made with nut milk in the NutriBullet. It is just about as creamy and yummy as a Wendys Frosty when we use the JuicePlus brand protein powder.
How blessed we are to enjoy such good food...made from scratch...eaten at home surrounded by those we love the most!
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- Martha Greene