Tag Archives: food

My Meal-prep Dirty Little Secret

So I can’t remember the last week that we actually ate all of the food I prepped on Sunday.  Invariably – life happens.

A teen’s event was not planned for.  A worship meeting goes long.  An opportunity to roll presents itself.  Something happens that prevents us from eating what is in the fridge and dictates that we are going to grab something from a restaurant somewhere.

Every.

          Single.

                      Week.

So when for the 3rd week in a row I was about to throw out baked sweet potatoes and chopped peppers, I decided to find a new way to utilize these staples of our week.

Enter:  Sweet Potato Bird’s Nests

These take a bit longer than I would like since the potatoes I use are already baked and take a while to crisp up like I like them but they are awesome.  I will definitely be making these regularly and for sure will do this with a sweet potato hash as well.   Video and the recipe are below.

See the Video Here

Ingredients:

  • Pre-baked sweet potato (each potato yields approximately 4 “nests”)
  • Pre-diced Red Onion
  • Pre-diced Red Pepper
  • Pre-diced Green Pepper
  • Pre-diced Jalepeno Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and sauté until onion is translucent but peppers are still crisp.img_3452
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the sweet potatoes. Add salt, pepper and sautéed vegetables and mix well.                                                          img_3450
  5. Transfer a spoonful of sweet potato mixture to each muffin mold. Press the mixture up against the mold until it is approximately ¼ inch thick leaving a cavity for the egg (to be added later).
  6. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from oven.
  7. Adjust the oven to broil (still at 400 degrees)
  8. Crack one egg for every sweet potato being baked. Add egg to the cavity created by the mold.
  9. Place muffin pan back in oven. For soft yolk eggs remove after 6 minutes.  For hard yolk eggs, remove after 12 minutes.

You have probably noticed that I did not give quantities of potatoes and peppers.   Because this recipe was conceived around leftovers, whatever you have left over will determine how much to use.  You can always cut up more peppers to meet your potato supplies (like I did when I created this one).

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When you are in the business of helping people achieve their healthiest life, you spend a lot of time talking about food.  Now, it is one of my favorite subjects so I don’t mind at all but one thing that does drive me a bit nuts is hearing from folks that say;

“It’s just so hard to eat clean on the road!!”

Let me get this out there now – No it isn’t!!

It really all comes down to choices.  What choices?

The choice to eat ‘Clean’

We really do need to define what ‘Clean’ means but that is for another post.  In the meantime, you need to decide this before you ever leave for your departing flight.  If you commit to eating right before you ever leave, you are 100% more likely to actually do so (please note that I just completely made up that statistic).

Seriously though, making the decision in advance does dramatically improve your chances of actually following through.  You are much less likely to end up on the wrong side of the rest of these choices if you have already decided to eat clean.

The choice of where to eat:

This is huge.  A restaurant that specializes in grilled seafood is way more conducive to your commitment to clean eating than Burger King.  Sure it may mean that you need to drive a few miles out of your way rather than stumbling across the parking lot to Ruby Tuesdays but in the end it is worth it.

Pro-Tip: I have found that it is also easier to eat clean in the restaurant rather than your hotel room.  This includes take-out orders, which almost always end up wrong (and cold).

Pro-Tip 2:  The exception to the above Pro Tip is the grocery store.  The grocery store is a great option for picking up a clean meal you can take back to your room.

The choice of when to eat:

So I may be preaching to myself on this one but your food options at 11:00 PM are vastly different than at 7:00 PM.  Take that into account as you are planning your day.  Set yourself up for success rather than trying to figure out “Whatever is easy” as you hit your hotel at midnight.

The choice of how your food is prepared:

Grilled over fried.  Baked over sauteed.  Sauce on the side.  Rainbow of colors vs. monochromatic.  If you are trying to eat clean, you should already know most of this but every time you order anything, you have the choice.

However, with all of these choices, the most important one is the choice to not to accept the lie that eating clean is hard to do.  It really isn’t.  It just takes a bit of planning, being willing to order off the menu and the choice to make it a priority.

How does a pescetarian survive a backyard cookout?

This is the question my wife and I have to answer every time we head to a community event.  The most recent example?  UFC 200 watch party at our gym.

Great event.  Great group of people.  Great socializing.  Nothing for someone who is basically a vegetarian to sustain themselves on.  To complicate matters, all of the sides were potluck which invariably ends up producing a smorgasbord of carb laden options such as chips, potato salad, candies of all types and more deserts than my 14 year old could even consume.

We learned a long time ago that if we are going to be able to stick to our dietary guns, we need to bring a couple dishes on the side to sustain us, especially Joy.  Enter…..

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail!!!

Not sure why this was the dish we both had a craving for but we both did.  We get this dish all the time as an appetizer at one of our favorite local restaurants and I have been trying to emulate it for months now.  I think I have finally gotten it where it needs to be!!

It is great because it easily keeps in a cooler, tastes great cold, you can make it ahead of time and you can make it in relative bulk with easy to find and prep ingredients.  In fact, this version is basically no prep at all!!

So the next time you are invited to an event but are not necessarily excited about hot dogs and brats, consider taking this instead.

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail (serves 4 as an entree, 8 as an appetizer)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Shelled, de-veined, boiled or steamed shrimp (I use 31/40 and previously fozen works just fine)
  • 1/2 of English cucumber (diced)
  • 1/4 cup of diced jicama (don’t skip this one!!!  The crunch it provides is crucial!!)
  • 1 cup pico de gallo (you can either make your own or use store bought)
  • 2 Tbsps cocktail sauce (I prefer the hot cocktail sauce)
  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 1/2 medium avocado (diced)
  • 1 Tbsp minced cilantro

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Directions:

  1. Place pico, cocktail sauce and tequila in a medium mixing bowl and mix well.
  2. To the mixture add the cucumber, jicama and shrimp.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (it can go longer and the flavors tend to marry more but expect more fluid if longer).
  4. Immediately prior to serving add diced avocado and mix.
  5. Top with cilantro.
  6. Enjoy over chips, tortillas or just out of the bowl!!

Special note for those who are on eating per the 21 Day Fix & 21 Day Fix Extreme, you can also make this recipe without the tequila and the avocado and it is great.  This brings your container count to 1 red and 1/2 green depending on your serving size.

Happy Freedom Day!! – Time for carb-less chips!!

The Fourth of July!  Independence Day!  (Treason Day if you are from the UK as one of my good who does hail from Britain proclaimed on Facebook this morning).

It is a day for celebrating, fun in the sun, fireworks and backyard BBQs!  A time for  sweet creamy desserts and salty sides.  But as someone who is currently watching and limiting every carb he takes in, how can I partake in the fun and not be a total Debbie Downer to everyone else?  Enter Carb-less Chips!!

So this morning in prep for our family BBQ, I was making Cloud Bread and decided to experiment on a smaller scale – what about chips?  They turned awesome and you are beneficiary.  Seriously, enjoy

Ingredients:

  • 4 Egg whites
  • 1/2 Tbsp of Water
  • 1/2 tsp of Chipotle Pepper
  1. Pre-heat over to 400 degrees.
  2. imageCombine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk well.
    1. Note:  I use Chipotle Pepper for the spice in this because I like it spicy, feel free to play with the spices that speak to you)
  3. imageSpoon mixture into a cupcake pan (I prefer the mini-cupcake pans but whatever will do) until the bottom of each cupcake is just covered by the mixture.
    1. Note:  You are going to be tempted to overfill, don’t!!  They will come out much crispier the thinner you pour your batter.
  4. Bake for 13-15 minutes checking to make sure they do not burn.
  5. Remove and eat immediately.
    1. Note:  You can also immediately spray with coconut oil and salt if desired.

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Now you have a way to battle the bowl of chips on the picnic table that everyone else is diving into.  Enjoy!!

Carrot Tortillas

In my house, tacos are considered a gift from God.  My wife is pretty much convinced that the manna that God provided the Hebrews had to have been collected and then pan baked into nice round shapes.  Seriously….tacos are a big thing in this house.

However, so is the consumption of refined carbs….or better stated, the lack there of.

So what is a family to do?  We love spicy goodness wrapped in an edible delivery system (ponder on the genius of that for a few moments…..pause….pause….pause…..).

Enter:  The Carrot Tortilla!!!

I know what you are thinking.  I was too but trust me on this one, these are the best we have tried yet.  Don’t believe me?  Watch the taste off here:

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So here is how you make them:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cup Grated Carrot
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Flower
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  1. Wash, peel & grate carrots – OR – buy the shredded carrots from the grocery store and give them a rough cut like I do.
  2. Place the carrots in a microwave safe bowl and add water (recipe is 1/2 cup but you are really looking to get them covered in the bowl, the amount really doesn’t matter).  Microwave on high for 5 minutes.DSC_0287
  3. Drain and dry the carrots.  Use a dishtowel or cheese cloth to squeeze extra water out.  The drier you can get these the better they will turn out.
  4. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Tip: just use your hands and get dirty.  It is by far the best way to get the ingredients incorporated.DSC_0293
  5. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a backing sheet with parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  6. Spread carrot mixture into approximately 6 inch round ‘tortillas’ that are approximately 1/4 inch think (Note: these don’t rise or spread at all during cooking so however you spread them is pretty much how they will come out).
  7. Bake for 12 minutes, flip them once and bake for another 12 minutes.
  8. At this point you can eat them right away, lay them over a rack to allow them cool into the shape of a hard taco or store in the fridge for up to 5 days.  If you store in the fridge, I highly suggest heating them up again in a small frying pan to get them warm and a bit crunchy again.

So there you have it, our solution to not being able to eat tacos without all the refined carbs!!

What others won’t tell you about living a life on the road

I always love having conversations with people who do not spend much time on the road, especially when they are on the road themselves.  And having just come off of the largest conference of the year for the apartment industry where literally thousands of folks who never travel have just spent the last week in City by the Bay, I have had a lot of those conversations recently.  Want to guess what the most common question/comment I heard in my various conversations was?

                “How do you do it?”

The answer is simple, one day at a time.  That is all I can do.

These conversations prompted me to write an article this time that I am not sure I have seen out there.  Everyone likes to point out the positives of travel, I would like to point out the challenges that RoadWarrior’s face so the next time you find yourself staring at a calendar with an upcoming road trip, you are ready.

Reality #1 – Staying fit is hard:

Gyms with broken equipment.  Overtaxed schedules.  Tired muscles and minds.  All of these are a normal part of the RoadWarrior life.   Combine that with the ease of finding food that is horrible for you and the scarcity of the food that will really fuel your body well and you have the perfect recipe for allowing your fitness to suffer.

My solution:  Plan ahead (more on this topic here).  You need to schedule your workouts.  You need to research where and when you are going to eat.  Winging it every once in a while is OK.  Winging it every trip is a recipe for obesity.

Reality #2 – Alcohol is everywhere:

Seriously.  Once you get any level of status on an airline or hotel chain, they are constantly making sure that if you want to be liquored up, you can be.  It becomes incredibly simple to have a cocktail in the lounge before your flight, a couple of glasses of wine on the plane and then again at your next hotel.  I lost count a long time ago of the number of people I have seen over served at the hotel bar.  I am far from saying don’t drink but definitely do so with intent and a consciousness about it.  Too much alcohol has done no one any good….ever.

My solution:  Be conscious about your consumption.  Set limits in advance and choose when/if you are going to consume and where.

Reality #3 – People expect you to work constantly:

This may be just my world and my own personal work ethic but if I am going to be away from my family, I am going to make sure I am as productive as possible (I do so with the intention of protecting my time when I am at home).  Here’s the problem, my coworkers now expect me to be available 24/7 when I am on the road.  You have to protect yourself on this one.  You prioritizing your time is different than others demanding your attention.

My solution – Create and stick to reasonable boundaries.  I turn off my instant chat function on my computer around 9:00.  I stop responding to emails about that time as well.  I don’t send out new emails after that point.  It is when I shut it down (or at least give that impression – truth is I am often working later but scheduling my correspondence to be sent the following morning).

Reality #4 – Reentry is hard:

You just got home from a long trip, your plane was late and it is actually tomorrow when you arrive home.  To top it off, you have been burning the candle at both ends all week and you are both physically and mentally spent.  All you want to do is climb in to bed and never get out.  Unfortunately, your spouse has had the same type of week shuttling around kids, making sure everyone is fed, doing their own professional job and trying to stay fit.  They have been burning the candle at both ends and all they want is to climb into bed and never get out…but thank God you are home to take over, right?

My solution – Suck it up cupcake, especially if you are a regular RoadWarrior!!  Your travel schedule created this dynamic and you need to do everything you can to make the reentry as smooth as possible.  Sorry I don’t have any additional sage wisdom here but sometimes it is what it is.  This is also why I tend to bring gifts…..like San Francisco sourdough bread!!

bread

Reality #5 – A life on the road is a lonely one:

I have written on this topic previously but it is very had to develop relationships on the road and very easy to hide among the masses.  There is a reason fish school to avoid predators, they can become an indistinguishable part of a larger massive organism.  Great for fish…..terrible for humans.

My solution – Be intentional about maintaining the relationships you have that are most important.  If I am not intentionally reaching out to my wife, my kids, my parents, it is easy for me to go days without communicating.  This may just be a me thing but I like to fade into the background (ironically, I am doing so right now in the Admirals Club as literally dozens of industry coworkers buzz around).  Below are some recent shots from a run I made across the Golden Gate with a couple of co-workers.  An hour of intentional interaction.

Reality #6 – It is really easy to get depressed:

Everything above can easily culminate in a feeling of depression.  You stop being active, you feed your body with a depressant, you are working constantly, you know when you get home there is going to be tension and you feel alone.  How could you not get depressed, right?  I would be lying if I did not admit that about once a quarter, I have a trip where it all bears down on me……and I don’t think I am alone in that feeling.  I am always amazed at how utterly alone you can feel in a sea of people.

My solution – Beat the depression out of me physically.  Seriously, this is why I work out the way I do on the road.  I will do double workouts – if for no other reason than it keeps me off of the computer.  I will start a blog just to vent about it into the abyss.  For others it may be reading their favorite book, knitting, researching menu plans.  Could be any number of activities but do something you love to focus your energy and attention elsewhere.

So there you go, the 6 realities that no one really wants to talk about a life lived on the road.   If you can be intentional about heading those 6 off before they start, you are in for a good trip.  See you on the road!

Do you remember your second step?

Do you ever look back on a journey and ask “what was the second step?”  No.  Most everyone remembers the first step, the proverbial hardest one, but very few remember let alone talk about the second, the third, the fourth, etc.  Well that is what I want to talk about today.

When I first started focusing on my health and fitness level while traveling, I had to start somewhere, right?  Noone just makes a massive change in everything they do, do they?

Certainly not me.

So where does one start on this journey towards a healthier version of yourself?  Here are the 3 changes I made to start.

Change #1:  Nothing Fried

OK people, don’t underestimate how big a change this really was for me.  I would literally eat burgers with fries or fish & chips every day I was on the road.  Literally!!  So this was the first real change I made.  If it came out of a deep fryer, I was not eating it.

The first change here is funny to look back on but I no longer ordered the fish & chips and went with the burger (or chicken sandwich) instead.  I would then substitute a dinner salad for the fries.  I must have had this combination hundreds of times and still do pretty regularly actually.

Change #2:  Do Something – Every Day!!

With how much I love to work out now, it is hard to remember back to a time when I did nothing but that was exactly what I did for years.  Now mind you, I would pack workout clothes every trip but they never saw anything but the inside of a suite case.  In fact, for a while, I was traveling to Houston so often that I literally set up an apartment at one of my communities.  With how much I love to work out now, it is hard to remember back to a time when I did nothing but that was exactly what I did for years.  Now mind you, I would pack workout clothes every trip but they never saw anything but the inside of a suite case.  In fact, for a while, I was traveling to Houston so often that I literally set up an apartment at one of my communities.  They gym there was fantastic.  I think I can count on one hand how many times I actually used it back then.

This change is actually where my guardrail for Workout before Wine came from.  I figured if I wanted to have the extra calories contained in the alcohol, I needed to earn it first….and I really like wine.

Change #3:  Rethink “Free”

Extra (fattening) calories are everywhere for the RoadWarrior!!  The cookie at check-in with the hotel.  The waffle maker and bacon at breakfast.  The evening desert bar in the concierge lounge and THE ALCOHOL EVERYWHERE!!!  Hotel and airlines are very good about making sure their best travelers are well taken care of.

These freebies are anything but free.  It is way too easy to find yourself on glass #3 or desert #2 or having desert every night you travel.  My big change was to eat on the road like I would at home.  I do not have desert every night at home.  I am not having 3 glasses of wine a night at home.

Now notice I did not say I gave all that up.  Nope, I just was conscious in my choices of what I would partake in and what I would not.

So those were my steps two, three and four.  Nothing majorly groundbreaking.  No healthy living overhaul.  Just 3 things I could do every day to get closer to RoadWarriorFit.

So how about you?

What is your next step?