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5 Meal Prep Staples Every Kitchen Needs

Meal prepping is my second favourite way to keep up my healthy lifestyle all week long. (Working out is number one in case you were wondering). When I have prepared food in my fridge, not only am I making better eating choices at home, but I’m also less inclined to say yes to going out for dinner, brunch or drinks as I don’t want my own food to go to waste. 

Spending a few hours on Sunday or Monday to shop and cook is one of the easiest ways to stay on track, however, the thought of actually meal prepping is so daunting to so many people.

If you are new to meal prepping, it definitely takes some trial and error to determine exactly how much food to buy and prepare and this can differ week to week.  But regardless of how much food I am cooking, here are the 5 staples I can’t prep without:

1. Garlic Powder

My mom and sister who are both chefs are probably rolling their eyes reading this as they are all about the freshest and best possible ingredients for cooking. And I understand where they are coming from, however, my top rules for meal prepping are to make it: quick and easy. Garlic is my favourite seasoning and I use it on pretty much everything I make (protein + veggies) but I save time and avoid the extra clean up by just using it in powder form. Using garlic and other spices is a super easy way to keep your prepped food flavourful but also healthier. For example, next time you are prepping chicken, try swapping a saucy marinade for spices which will cut calories, sugar content and time. 

2. Sea Salt

Speaking of spices, a really good sea salt is key to big batch cooking. Just a pinch to every recipe will add a ton of flavour to even the simplest dishes. When I’m making my salmon, all I use are sea salt and pepper. Again, this minimizes clean up and keeps the fish healthy. Sea salt also contains many important minerals including potassium, calcium and magnesium. And if you are curious about the difference between table salt and sea salt, table salt is just processed seal salt, usually with some additives to give it a consistent texture, which reduces the quality of the minerals in the salt. 

3. Oil Spray 

Another ingredient I add to all my prepared food is oil. Whether seasoning a pan or a tray of vegetables, a spray can of oil is the easiest way to exercise portion control. When roasting my vegetables, I will chop them, lay them on a baking sheet and quickly spray them so they are evenly covered. My favourite spray oil is Chosen Food’s Avocado Oil as there are no added ingredients or propane. No matter which oil you prefer (olive, grape-seed, etc.) try and choose a can that only has one ingredient: oil and watch out for added chemicals. Using a spray also eliminates clean up as you are not using any utensils to measure and distribute the oil. 

4. Parchment Paper

When it comes to easy clean up, parchment paper is your best friend. When prepping my veggies to roast and chicken and salmon to bake, I always put a piece of parchment paper on the baking sheet first, for two reasons. Firstly, using parchment paper ensures the food won’t stick to the pan. Most of the time I can simply remove the paper and put the pan away without washing it which saves me so much time with my clean up. Secondly, using parchment paper eliminates the use of extra oil to keep your food from sticking. For example, I used to use oil with my fish so it wouldn’t stick. Most fish, especially salmon, are already oily and full of good fat naturally so adding the oil was fat overkill. Now I just use parchment paper and only season the fish it before I cook. My favourite brand is If You Care which is chlorine-free and pre-cut so there is less waste. 

5. Pyrex Containers 

When all your prep is done you need to have somewhere to store this food. Although I mostly use plastic as I purchased so much of it when I first moved into my home, it really is best to use glass. Once my food is finished cooking, I avoid using extra dishes and place it right in the tupperware and let it cool down before it goes in the fridge. Adding heated food to, or re-heating foods in plastic releases chemicals into our food therefore glassware is your friend. My favourite brand is Pyrex as they have rubber lids that make them easy to use and store. 

 

photos not my own – featured image from Buzz Feed. 

Veggie Burgers

I have to say my meal prep game has been strong and consistent for a few years now. I’ve mastered the act of big batch cooking and it typically sets me up for a successful week.  However, while my prep work does allow me to throw together easy meals, I still do wish I was better at making recipes.

The problem with making recipes for me is that it changes my whole grocery shop and cooking routine. Right now I can mindlessly shop a grocery store getting exactly what I need for the week. But if I am shopping for a specific recipe, for some reason I will be in the grocery store for twice as long, looking for ingredients I don’t normally cook with. 

Therefore, any type of home cooking for me always means the same thing: baked chicken, roasted veggies, cooked grains and hard boiled eggs. Throw them altogether in a bowl and that’s as close to a recipe as I’ll get.

Yet now that I work from home, I feel like my beautiful, dust-covered cookbooks are just staring at me, begging me to open them and try a recipe. So the other day I picked up the Oh She Glows cookbook by vegan master chef Angela Liddon and browsed the picture perfect pages for a recipe that didn’t require me buying a whole new pantry.  

I decided to go for her veggie burgers and changed up the recipe to incorporate what I already had at home. This meant substituting breadcrumbs with my all time favourite snack, Mary’s Organic Crackers. A long with a few other tweaks, the recipe turned out delicious and at the end of the day, it wasn’t too much of a hassle to change up my grocery shopping routine. 

Veggie Burgers
Serves 8
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Prep Time
25 min
Prep Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  2. 1 cup chickpeas
  3. 1 cup red kidney beans
  4. 1 cup grated carrots
  5. 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  6. 2 garlic cloves
  7. 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  8. 3/4 cups gluten free rolled oats processed into flour
  9. 3/4 cups Mary's Organic Crackers (or other crackers of choice) processed into "bread crumbs"
  10. 2 tablespoons tamari
  11. 1 teaspoon chili powder
  12. 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  13. 1 teaspoon cumin
  14. Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flaxseed with 1/3 cup warm water and set aside until thickened.
  3. In large bowl combine all ingredients with flaxseed mixture and mix until well combined.
  4. Form 8 patties out of the mixture with wet hands to avoid stickiness.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown, flip and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Adapted from Oh She Glows "Our Perfect Veggie Burger"
Kale & Krunches http://kaleandkrunches.com/

 

January Favourites

I’m back with a new installment of my monthly favourites and I’m so excited to share more about the products that I picked for January! 

I always feel compelled to reiterate that I am not paid to write any of this and I would never promote a product that I don’t actually love or use. Every now and then some of the products are gifted but I will point out which ones and I just want to say I am so grateful to be able to try out new things and share them with you. 

This month has been all about lifestyle changes for me, as I transitioned from working corporate, to traveling for a month, to becoming self-employed. I’ve now somewhat settled into a new routine – or at least I have a better idea of what I want that routine to look like – and I’ve come to rely on some of the products below.

Favourite On-The-Go Snack

Genuine Health Fermented Vegan Proteins+ Bar 

    

When I pictured myself working from home, I always got excited about the idea of having more time to whip up delicious meals in my kitchen however that is just not the reality of my new situation. I am always on the go, traveling from the studio, to a client’s home, to a lunch meeting. Often times this means my next meal or snack is usually eaten in the car. I’ve come to rely on Genuine Health‘s fermented protein bars, which I had the opportunity to first try at a fitness class they hosted in November. I find them extremely filling which is my number one criteria for an on-the-go snack plus they are GMO free and the fermented protein supports digestive health. They are also delicious and do not have that dense, chalky protein taste to them. I would highly recommend if you are looking to change up your snack bar game.

Favourite Health Food Beauty Hack

Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

I have two jars of coconut oil at home. One in my pantry, one in my bathroom and I definitely use the one in the bathroom way more often. Let’s forget cooking and just focus on the reason this jar takes up prime real estate in the ensuite. First of all, it is the only product that properly takes off my eye makeup. Until I started using coconut oil as makeup remover, I found my eyeliner and mascara would never properly come off and I would still get black streaks after washing my face the second time that day or night. Just dip a Q-tip in the jar –  you don’t need very much to get every last bit of black off your eyes. I also use my coconut oil for my cuticles. Coming back to this freezing winter after 4 weeks in a hot climate didn’t exactly do wonders for my skin or nails so I have been lathering the oil on my cuticles before bed every night. It has been making such a difference and I’m getting less and less of those annoying and painful little cuts around the nail beds.

Favourite Read 

Breaking Vegan by Jordan Younger 

I had been following “The Blonde Vegan” and then subsequently “The Balanced Blonde,” Jordan Younger’s handle,  on Instagram for a while when I saw this book came out. I felt compelled to buy it not because I was ever a vegan or even a vegetarian but because the concept of Orthorexia fascinated me. Orthorexia is defined as “an obsession with eating foods that are healthy.” It is essentially a disordered way of eating when an individual becomes so obsessed with only eating things they consider healthy, that they become afraid to eat most foods. This is what happened to Jordan who realized veganism was not only controlling her  life but causing her to develop a negative relationship to food. Her struggle and successful overcoming of orthorexia was interesting but what really drew me into the book was how she found a balanced approach to eating. Balance is something I struggle with every day and I know will continue to be a challenge for me. Jordan also goes into great detail about how she started her website and pursued blogging full time so this was definitely the perfect book for me.

Favourite Winter Workout Gear

Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Crew

Probably my favourite part of pursuing fitness full time is I get to dress in activewear all day. Seriously, nothing makes me happier! I normally teach my spin classes in a sports bra and tights but when I am personal training, or doing my own workouts, I thankfully don’t get nearly as sweaty and can cover up a bit more.  This Lululemon long sleeve has been perfect for training clients in the winter as it keeps me warm but is still tight enough to show my muscles and proper form in exercises. I have one in grey and one in black and I always feel chic pairing it with long running tights and sneakers. And now that I am doing this full time I think I have an excuse to buy a third colour, right?

Favourite Clean Beauty Product 

Bamboo Makeup Remover Wipes

As I mentioned I have been so lucky to receive new and exciting products from some amazing companies. Prior to my month-long trip, Boo Bamboo, a Toronto-based company that sells all natural, personal care products reached out to me about sending me off with some of their items to try while I was away. Strapped for space and in need of a good travel face cleanser, I opted to take a few packs of their makeup remover wipes with me. To be completely honest I did not wear makeup while I was away so I cannot fully speak to their makeup removing abilities, however I used the wipes daily to cleanse my face. Whether I was on the beach or in an airport, I felt so good knowing I was using an all natural product that contained vitamin E antioxidants. I was super impressed with how the packaging held up –  the reusable container actually kept the wipes moist the entire time. Since I have been home, I continue to use the face wipes after I teach spin classes, to quickly get rid of the sweat. I have also started using their all natural shower gel and am happy with it so far. 

Since I love supporting local brands, especially one’s who promote a clean and healthy lifestyle, I have partnered up with Boo Bamboo for the chance to give one lucky Instagram follower a package of their best products, including: Shampoo, Conditioner, Revitalizing Hair Treatment, Face Wash, Face Lotion, & Makeup Remover Wipes. All you have to do is head on over to my Instagram, follow @kale_and_krunches and @boobambooproducts and tag 3 friends in the comments. All of these products could be yours! Giveaway closes Friday.