That is the question, isn’t it? We’re constantly told what to eat, how to eat and when to eat via television, the internet, books, magazines, friends, colleagues, doctors…the list is endless…One thing’s for sure, we must nourish our bodies with full-sized, flavorful meals and real breakfasts (no breakfast skippers). I preach to my clients to eat wholesome, pure, real, ‘clean’ food as close to its natural source as possible. My #1 rule: Don’t cut out fats, carbs, oils or chocolate.
From egg omelets to smoothies to oats, no one should run away from carbs at the start of the day. Enjoy a hearty bowl of mixed cooked whole grains such as brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa or millet tossed with nuts, fresh fruit and dates. Or perhaps you’d enjoy an omega 3 egg over easy on dark, whole-kernel rye toast with a fresh tomato, chives and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Many of my clients prefer a morning smoothie, especially during these warm months and when they are in a time crunch and need to eat on-the-go. A protein shake with rice protein powder, frozen cherries, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp milk can satisfy anyone’s morning meal and hold you over until lunchtime. I enjoy herbed-egg scrambles with avocado, a side of steel-cut oats made with almond milk and agave nectar and a side of fresh in season fruit.
Look beyond the PB & J and jazz up your brown paper bag to ‘wow’ your coworkers…whip up an almond butter sandwich on whole-grain bread with a whole-fruit spread and a sprinkle of ground flax seeds. Toss together a salad with canned salmon, tuna or sardines; combine them with canned artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, veggies and a whole grain such as quinoa. Many of my clients enjoy grilling tofu, chicken or salmon the night before and packing that atop a bed of mixed greens with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for their lunch the next day. My lunches are quite similar every day; I usually have a load of veggies such as broccoli, asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, onions and carrots along with fish, such as wild Alaskan salmon, however I often opt for halibut, cod, mahi mahi or sardines, as they are equally as delicious.
Grilled lean proteins such as fish, tofu, tempeh, turkey, chicken or pork loin are delicious options to ‘encrust’ with homemade bread crumbs (or gluten-free cereal, pretzels, crackers, etc. mashed) along with olive oil, then broiled in the oven. This can be served with a vast array of vegetables depending on the time of year…perhaps acorn squash in the fall, eggplant in the winter and summer squash in the spring. I always have at least three different vegetables with my dinner. For instance, last night I had halibut with Brussels sprouts, broccoli rabe and asparagus with grilled tomatoes, a drizzle of fresh lemon and balsamic vinegar and a few of my gluten-free homemade pitas with my homemade chickpea hummus. I’m also a huge fan of shrimp and all seafood, therefore I never turn down the shrimp or fresh fish at the market; I often serve these with a stir-fry medley. I liven up every dish with many spices such as cayenne, chili powder, cinnamon, basil, garlic, rosemary and cilantro. My starches consist primarily of beans, squash and gluten-free grains. And, let’s just say I never, ever, ever turn down a veggie! I eat unlimited vegetables everyday and never get bored with them because it’s easy to create a new spin on every veggie. For instance, try broccoli one night baked in the oven with garlic and olive oil, then stir-fried with tamari the next night and steamed with fresh lemon the following evening…keep your taste buds guessing and veggies will never get dull!
Many of my clients stress out about restaurants, holidays, BBQ’s, happy hour, celebrations and any meal created by someone other than themselves. But, in this day n’ age, our busy lifestyles don’t allow us to make homemade meals every night, therefore we must learn to eat smart when dining out. The trick is to eat foods that you’d normally eat at home such as grilled fish, lean meats, salads and extra veggies. For Seafood, I opt for a lobster or shrimp cocktail, poached fish and two sides of vegetables. /For Italian, I opt for grilled veggies, chicken and a gluten-free grain or pasta. I also love turkey, chicken, bison or fish burgers as well as fish, turkey or chicken tacos with pico de gio, salsa, guacamole, extra veggies and a squeeze of fresh lemon. The goal is to be flexible and not just eat ‘brown rice, steamed veggies and tempeh’…branch out and adapt to the surroundings of the restaurant; leave room for some recreational eating as you want your dining out experience to be pleasant, healthy and enjoyable.
Go Ahead and Indulge
We all snack; from almonds, cashes, walnuts, grapes, cheese, fruits and veggies or perhaps dark chocolate, raw cacao, homemade banana Greek yogurt ice cream, air-popped popcorn, healthy whole grain nachos with nutritional yeast ‘cheese’, high-fiber gluten-free scones and cookies.
The goal is to listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel after each meal and snack. Be aware of hidden sugars and sodium that lurk in many processed foods. Once I came to understand how foods affect us and why we eat the way we do, I started to feel so much better, especially after I learned that I was gluten and dairy-intolerant as my dairy-free and gluten-free lifestyle is nutritious, healthy, delicious and doesn’t lead to cravings for foods that will make me feel bad.