The other night I made a delicious meal – OK, actually 8 meals – that required no chopping whatsoever.
Basically, all I did was throw a bunch of stuff in an oven-proof skillet and, barely 30 minutes later, ended up with a nutritious, filling and low-cal meal that tasted great.
That’s why I love frittatas, which are kind of like Italian omelettes but require absolutely no folding or flipping. That means cooking them requires very little actual cooking (yay!).
Plus, they’re pretty much infinitely versatile and are a great way to use up any veggies or ingredients that you have left over in the fridge.
Low Calorie Frittata Recipe
I made this frittata for my dinner on a Sunday night and, after I ate, I still had seven meals left. Well, in theory anyway, because it tasted so good that on Monday, I actually ate two servings for lunch (but once you look at the nutrition numbers, you’ll see that’s not a big deal).
Yes, the purist in me doesn’t love convenience foods. But the realist? Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and this recipe heavily relies on canned/packaged foods. But as “convenience” foods go, the ones I’ve included in this recipe are fairly harmless.
The feta cheese in this recipe doesn’t necessarily go with the Mexican theme of the rest of the ingredients, but it’s what I had the fridge and I like its zesty flavor. If you have a different cheese on-hand … or if you want to go without cheese … that’s OK. If you do a swap out, know that the nutrition info might be a bit different.
And just as you can swap out the cheese, you can also use different bean varieties and also different veggies.
But I happen to like this combo because it’s basically rinse, toss it into the pan, and cook.
Calories Count in Weight Loss
If you’re looking to make a change in your body composition, knowing exactly how much you’re eating is vital. Calorie are the units we use to measure both how much fuel we take in and how much we expend.
Creating into a modest fuel deficit is (eating just slightly less than we burn off) is the key to long-term and healthy fat loss.
Anyone else love their iced coffees and iced lattes? Especially on a hot summer afternoon?
And especially if they’re mocha iced lattes? So yum.
The problem with coffee shop iced lattes and coffees is not only the price, but who knows what’s in them? If you’re not careful, you’ll be ingesting a bunch of unnecessary and potentially harmful sugar, fat, and processed food products (1).
Also, they really don’t do very much for you nutritionally.
That’s why I came up with this iced protein coffee recipe, which you can rev up to make a full-on latte if you want. It lets me enjoy my afternoon treat guilt-free. It’s low in sugar, has a favorable macronutrient profile (fats/carbs/protein), and is pretty darn tasty.
Adding protein not only adds some extra creaminess to this recipe, but protein helps keep your blood sugar stable as well as helping you to stay fuller, longer. Not only that, but if you are trying to lose weight, it’s important to eat an adequate amount of protein so you can maintain your muscle (2).
If you’re staying away from caffeine, this is just as delicious with decaf coffee. You also could make it with a coffee substitute, such as Teeccino or chicory root, although honestly neither of them will impart the true coffee flavor. But they’re close.
Here’s a recipe for a Starbucks-like mocha Frappuccino, revved up with some extra protein.
Cherries were on sale last week at the grocery store. Like, big-time.
And you can big-time bet that I bought a whole bunch. I even pitted some and put them in my smoothies because they are so delicious. Plus, I was thinking of trying a couple of new recipes (cherry clafoutis, anyone?).
But guess what? Mangos were on sale too. Again: big-time. And they, too, are also delicious in smoothies and recipes.
I wanted to horde them all because I know in a couple months they’ll either be unavailable or cost four or more times what they do in-season.
You know what I hate, though? Buying fresh fruit and veggies, only to have them go bad before I can eat them. Ugh. So, no extra fruit for me.
And then I remembered. Doh.
My Grandmother’s Frozen Raspberries
Back in the day, my grandmother (“Nanny”) used to grow rows and rows of raspberries every year. Her raspberry pies were renowned – local restaurants would buy them from her for big bucks – and Nanny made the most amazing “fresh” raspberry compote even in the middle of January.
The berries weren’t mushy and nondescript mashes of goo, either. They were beautifully preserved … and it wasn’t because she did anything magical with them.
She just froze them.
And … duh! … I realized that with a teeny-tiny bit of time and effort, I can freeze practically any fruit I want, too, the same exact way Nanny did. I remember hanging out in the kitchen with her every summer during the not-so-elaborate freezing process.
I know this isn’t rocket science, but I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen and I figure if this hasn’t occurred to me before, then it likely will be new-ish news to someone else. (I hope the mangoes are still on sale this week.)
How to Freeze Fruit for Smoothies and Healthy Recipes
First, gather your fruit and thoroughly wash it.
Then, grab a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper.
Next, it’s time to prep the fruit.
For larger fruits and/or those with pits, you will want to remove the skin or peel, and then slice them.
Citrus fruits can be divided into sections or quarters.
Fruits that turn brown – like apples – can be dipped into a solution with lemon and water to prevent them from discoloring.
Berries need no additional prep beyond washing.
Once your fruit is good to go, all you do is place it on the lined cookie sheet, and then put the sheet in the freezer for 2 to 24 hours. After, you can put the fruit into containers (I use freezer bags) in portion-sized amounts so it’s ready for a quick grab & go.
Seriously, so easy!
Beyond smoothies, this frozen fruit can go a long way toward beating an ice cream craving. Just put some frozen fruit in a high-speed blender and whir it up into a sorbet-like concoction. Delish!
This morning I threw together a quick and easy smoothie from my fresh-frozen fruits.
Banana Cherry Smoothie
This delicious smoothie is packed with vitamins and minerals to start your day right ... but it also makes a great anytime snack.
No matter how “healthy” you eat, if changing your body composition – losing fat, gaining muscle – is a goal, it won’t happen until you get a handle on how you’re fueling your body.
To lose weight (and fat), you have to eat less fuel than you burn.
How Many Calories Do You Need?
I created this calculator to help you see how many calories you actually need during the course of a day, along with a handy macronutrient calculator so you can try to get the ideal amount of protein, fat, and carbs based on your goals.
When it comes to choosing a macronutrient profile that suits you, remember: each one of us has a unique operating system.
If you’re trying to lose weight and are healthy, you can help stay full and maintain muscle by eating a higher (not necessarily high!) protein diet.
But there’s no need to overload your body with protein (or fat!). Experiment and see what works best for you!
Note: the calculations for women are different than men, so I’ve tailored this specific calculator for women. If there’s enough interest I’ll make one for men too 🙂
How Do You Track Your Macros?
Exactly how you follow your macros is another post for another day, but a good app to use is either Fitbit’s food log or MyFitnessPal. If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of tracking your macronutrient protocol, just focus on the calories.
I figured out how to do it myself, after monkeying around with some nutrition calculators. Honestly, I think that’s the best way but there can be a high frustration level.
I’ve written a super-cheap book on how to track your macros (the link is in the menu bar) but I’ll also put together an easy-to-follow post in the near future. I just wanted to get this calculator out to you!
Do you get into food ruts? You know, when you tend to eat the same meal every day?
Sometimes I do – and I’m OK with that. Especially when it comes to breakfast.
Because when I have a favorite go-to meal every morning, it starts my day out right. I look forward to it (although maybe not as much as I look forward to my morning cup of coffee!).
My most recent fave breakfast was a Berry Good Green Smoothie with kefir. It was creamy, refreshing and had just a little “bite” from the kefir, which is packed with probiotic and protein.
But when I went to the grocery store last week, there was no kefir to be found.
So I asked one of the clerks, “Where’s the kefir?”
After much investigation, we had the answer, which confused even the clerk, as the demand for kefir is so high they have a hard time keeping it in stock.
They were no longer going to carry it.
Hello, Berry Chia Green Smoothie
Now, I know I can make my own kefir (and someday soon I might) or go to the health food store and buy it there.
But I took this as a little challenge to mix things up.
You see, a while ago my doc ran some food sensitivity tests and I came up “highly intolerant” of dairy. And in fact, most of us are intolerant of dairy – 65 percent of us have issues digesting it after we leave infancy. (1)
It’s not like I consume a bunch of dairy on a daily basis. And kefir can actually help with intolerance issues because of all the enzymes and nutrients it contains. (2)
But that didn’t matter at the moment, because there wasn’t any kefir to be had. I had to come up with a new breakfast that would make me happy.
I don’t know about you, but a lot of typical breakfast foods leave me hungry soon after I eat. I love cereal, but it makes me want to eat all day long. Or, it makes me want to eat the entire box.
Eggs and bacon? Yum! But who has time? Plus, there’s something I like about a cool breakfast.
So anyway, as I stood there in the Hannaford “healthy foods” aisles, my stubborn streak came out and I wanted to preserve as much of my original smoothie as possible.
And I realized I could do that with chia seeds.
Chia seeds, before and after soaking for 10 minutes
You’ve probably heard about all the health benefits of chia seeds: they’re rich in antioxidants (which is why they don’t go rancid quickly), high in fiber, and also contain calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and more. Plus, they’re loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.
Some people toss chia seeds directly into smoothies but I like to let mine soak for at least 10 minutes, or as long as overnight. That gives them a gel-like consistency that gives your smoothie a creaminess that’s really delicious.
Now, I happen to think negotiating the maze of non-dairy milks is a very low-impact version of walking through a minefield. There’s no super-nutritious alternative. Unlike non-dairy milks, “real” milk is loaded protein and calcium – but it also has that other stuff in it that makes it hard for a lot of us to digest.
Plus with dairy, even if it doesn’t bother you or you load yourself up with enzymes to help you digest it, you have to be really careful what kind you buy. Otherwise, what comes out of the jug or carton can be riddled with hormones and antibiotics.
That’s why I tend to change out the non-dairy milks I regularly use, and I make sure to choose organic non-GMO varieties. When you’re choosing a non-dairy milk, consider steering clear of those that contain carrageenan (a common ingredient in almond and coconut milks), as it might have an impact on gut health. (3)
Green Smoothie with Chia and Berries
So anyway, that’s the very long story of how I came up with my latest breakfast go-to. It’s especially delicious if you blend it for a couple minutes to let it get nice and fluffy. If it’s too thick, just add more milk.
Have you tried Buddha bowls yet? I’m probably late to the party, but that’s OK. They’re so good I had to write a post about them anyway.
If you haven’t tried them, you’ve got to make one soon. They’re an easy, tasty way to throw together a super-healthy meal that also happens to be gorgeous to look at.
Now, I’ve been a big fan of one-bowl meals for as long as I can remember. In fact, at one point in my life, someone near and dear to me called me a bowl-using m-fer. Is that sweet or what?😹
Anyway. Buddha bowls are like the ultimate one-bowl meal.
I guess you could define them as salads that also include warm ingredients. They get their name from their big, overflowing “belly” bowls, which are kind of like Buddha’s belly.
How to Make a Buddha Bowl
There’s a basic formula to create “hippy bowls” (another name for Buddha bowls):
Start with a base layer of greens
Add grains and/or beans of your choice
Layer on some veggies
Sprinkle on some seeds and/or nuts
Top with a dressing or sauce
Any of these can be precooked or prepped so you can throw them together when it’s time to eat.
You’ll notice that there is no animal protein (i.e., cheese, egg, seafood, poultry, or meat) in that formula. Traditionally, Buddha bowls are entirely plant-based, but hey, it’s your meal so if you want to load on some hard-boiled eggs, shrimp, or whatever, that’s up to you.
No Recipes Required
When it comes to one-bowl meals, I am not a huge fan of actual recipes. I usually have a basic formula and use ingredients that taste good, and generally the meal comes out pretty fantastic.
This lack-of-recipe situation can be a bonus, because you’re not nailed down to specific (or expensive) ingredients. You can make do with what you have on-hand.
But it can be kind of a bummer if you come up with a combo that’s especially stellar and you can’t remember the specifics of what/how much you used.
Comfort Food ‘Salad’
Back to this recipe. I’ve been thinking a LOT of about roasted veggie salad lately.
One of my “things” for 2017 was to eat a salad 5 times a week. And maybe because we’re deep into the pummeling that January offers, it’s hard to get excited about eating plain-old cold salads.
When the temp dips under 20 degrees (and even moreso when it’s under 10 or sub-zero), I don’t know about you but I crave warm comfort foods.
That’s why I came up with this combo, based on the formula above.
The awesome news is that roasted veggies taste amazing when they’re chilled, too, so if you happen to make this another time of the year, you’ll still love it.
You can precook the quinoa and veggies and heat them up when it’s time to eat, and then throw together the Buddha bowl.
I’m all about convenience and frozen veggies (I rarely throw away frozen veggies, but fresh sometimes go bad before I have a chance to use them up!). The good news is you can easily roast frozen veggies. Here’s a great tutorial from The Kitchn.
Crispy Chickpeas = Crave-Worthy
Also, if you haven’t tried crispy chickpeas yet, put those on your list too. They are so crispy and tasty you’ll wonder why they didn’t become trendy till now.
The trick to crisping them is to rinse the chickpeas and then dry them very, very well before you pop them onto the stove. Now, if you’re looking for more specific how-tos when it comes to making crispy chickpeas here’s a basic guide to making them on the stove (although I use much less oil). A lot of people do prefer making them in the oven, but they don’t seem to get as crispy for me.
Now, the “sauce” I made for this particular bowl veers off-track a little because it contains yogurt (which is not plant-based), but I was in the mood for a creamy dressing. You can use whatever dressing you happen to love. I didn’t need much of it – just a tablespoon plunked on the side that I dipped my fork into occasionally.
Roasted Veggie Buddha Bowl
This roasted veggie Buddha Bowl makes a filling and delicious lunch. If you prepare the quinoa, roasted veggies, and crispy chickpeas in advance it takes just minutes to throw together.
Toss frozen veggies in 2 tbsp oil and some salt and roast in preheated 450-degree oven until done.
While veggies are roasting, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet until it "pops" when you add a drop of water. Add rinsed, dried chickpeas. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp. Season to taste.
Remove roasted veggies from oven and season to taste.
To make dressing:
Place yogurt in a small bowl. Squeeze in lime juice and whisk together with a fork. Add salt and spices to season to taste.
To assemble Buddha bowl:
Put baby spinach in bowl. Top with quinoa, chopped veggies, and roasted veggies. Add crispy chickpeas and pepitas.
If you prepare the roasted veggies, quinoa, and crispy chickpeas in advance this will come together quickly.
Also, feel free to substitute rice or sweet potatoes for the quinoa, and you can use other beans in place of the chickpeas.
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