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nutritious

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/

 

Corporate Health Shaming

Did you make a New Years resolution to lose weight, make better lifestyle choices or simply to just be healthier?

Have you been following through with those resolutions, by packing your lunch, hitting the gym and saying no to those 3:00 pm sugar cravings?

Do you have an office job or work with others in a corporate setting?

If you answered yes to all of those questions, it is likely you may be experiencing what I like to refer to (although did not coin) as Corporate Health Shaming.

I worked in the corporate sphere for approximately seven years, in an industry that is predominated by men. While I spent my first eighteen months of my office job joining my colleagues at fast-food restaurants for lunch and hitting coffee shops for a donut in the afternoon, I quickly learned this was not a sustainable lifestyle for me and made many changes. I started packing my lunch or choosing healthier options like Freshii, I always had nutritious snacks stashed at my desk and I traded in coffee for water.

Now I’m not saying anyone who vowed to be healthier in 2017 should make such dramatic changes themselves. However, if you have been trading in your McDonald’s burgers for homemade salads, you may me experiencing some negativity from co-workers, which is the same thing that happened to me.

At the office, my two battlegrounds were lunch invites and lunch rooms.

If I turned down going out to a restaurant for lunch it was often met with some attempted persuading or even hostility; “just come, you can order a salad”…”one burger isn’t going to kill you”…”I’ll pay this time”…”fine, it’s your loss.”

 If I brought my food back to the lunchroom, I felt better about being able to eat with my colleagues but comments about my choice of food were always made; “the rabbit is eating another salad”…”aren’t you going to be hungry?”…”don’t you get sick of the same thing for lunch?”…”I’ll pay you to take a bite of this pizza.”

You name it, they’ve said it.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been lucky to work with some amazing people and have always loved my colleagues that I worked closely with. The truth is, I think the negativity comes from everyone else’s own insecurities about their lifestyle choices. It’s not uncommon to second guess your food choice when the person next to you orders a salad after you ordered a cheeseburger.

Whatever the cause of this corporate health shaming may be, I have some tips to navigate the negativity and keep you on track with your goals:

  1. Continue to pack your lunch and your snacks. There are so many benefits to sticking with these healthy habits such as controlling what goes in your food and saving money. Don’t be discouraged by one comment and completely give up. Try and stick with it.
  2. Leave the preaching to the preacher. While you may believe in lemon water and celery sticks, it is not your place to project those values onto your co-workers. The same way you don’t like the comments they make on your brown rice sushi, you don’t need to comment on their slice of pizza. Let the lectures come from their partners or health professionals.
  3. Come for the walk. This is a phrase I used on a daily basis at my job. No thanks, I don’t want a donut, but I will come for the walk. And most of the time I would end up ordering a tea. Just because you are not going to indulge in that old fashioned glaze doesn’t mean you can’t be good company and take a mental break from your desk.
  4. Practice saying no. This is probably the hardest lesson and takes practice. Leftover birthday cake from a kid’s party, children’s halloween candy that mom wanted out of the house, chocolates from Christmas baskets. There will always be something in the office tempting you. Be okay with saying no even though everyone else is eating it. The same goes for lunch invitations. You don’t always need to say yes to going out for lunch. Be okay with eating alone sometimes. Catch up on some reading or have a phone call with a friend. I promise the FOMO is not that bad.
  5. Save one day to eat out. I always liked to pick Friday’s to go out with my colleagues for lunch. by the end of the week my packed lunches aren’t as fresh anyways and it is mentally good for you to socialize and go out with friends. It is also good motivation to continue packing your lunch on a daily basis knowing you have Friday to look forward to for your big outing. 
  6. Don’t sacrifice your job for your diet and don’t sacrifice your diet for your job. Sometimes your job requires you to eat out a lot. Maybe you have to entertain clients. Or maybe the CEO asked you out to lunch on a Tuesday. Be smart and respectful and go for lunch, which brings me to my next tip.
  7. Learn how to read a menu. It is so easy to be tempted by unhealthy options on a menu but understanding what to order can be helpful. Skip the appetizers, pastas and pizzas and try a protein. Look for key words such as bakedgrilled or poached. Avoid dishes that are heavily fried or saucy. Nine times out of ten there is a garden salad that you can add chicken to. Get comfortable asking for what you want. Dressing on the side, no cheese, whole wheat – these are all simple requests that don’t sound obnoxious when you are ordering and can save you some significant calories.

At the end of the day, understand that your healthier lifestyle choices should not come between your job, friendships and overall happiness. Is it hard work? Yes. Does it take practice? Yes. Does it just suck some days to not have a slice of pizza? Yes. But if it were easy, you wouldn’t stand out at your workplace for being the healthy one. Remember that overall the pro’s ought-weigh the con’s and when your skin clears up, your clothes start fitting better and you are glowing from the inside out, your co-workers will start asking you how. 

 

 

 

Sunday Prep

I get asked a lot about my meal prep – what do I make? how long does it take? etc, etc. If you have been reading this blog, you’ll see I have definitely been slacking in the “Sunday Prep Day” department the past few months but I was able to sneak in a little meal prep last week and I am excited to finally be able to share with you an example of what that looks like.

While I have a shelf full of aesthetically appealing cookbooks with their colourful and healthy recipes just staring at me, begging to be made, I don’t have much time these days to plan and shop according to specific recipes. This is something I will definitely make more of an effort to do in the new year but until then my beautiful Deliciously Ella and Oh She Glows hardcovers will need to collect a few more dust bunnies while I buy the simplest ingredients to make the most amount of food in the least amount of time. 

Keep in mind I am just cooking for my husband and myself. And it is also important to note that my extremely fit (swoon) hubby eats like a teenage caveman so this specific prep really only brought us to Wednesday…fail. That’s the thing with meal prepping – it is a lot of trial and error – sometimes I have way too much food that I can’t even get through and other times I am resorting back to UberEATS by Thursday. 

My strategy, while clearly not always accurate, starts with a look at my calendar to see how many dinners I will actually get to eat at home. Between balancing work, family and social engagements I find we sometimes only have 1-2 dinners at home. From there I try and make enough food for 5  days worth of breakfasts, lunches and snacks, all to be eaten at work, and then however many dinners we need. 

I will then grocery shop (in hopefully under 45 minutes) and as soon as I come home, pre-heat the oven so it’s ready to go once the groceries are unpacked. From start to clean up I would estimate I am in the kitchen for about 2 hours total.

Keep reading to find out how I prepare everything, what it was used for and how you can do your own quick and easy meal prep!

Grains & Carbs

Sweet Potatoes:

The first things I always prep are my sweet potatoes simply because they take the longest to bake. I buy 4 large ones, cut them into 2 inch cubes, drizzle a little olive oil on and toss with good salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (depending how strong your oven is). We eat them all week as either a side dish with dinner, or throw them in a salad for lunch.

Brown Rice:

I either make a pot of brown rice or quinoa depending on what I have in my pantry. I prepare approximately 2 cups dry which makes about 4 cups cooked. I try and limit my serving size to 1/2 cup for each meal. I love throwing rice and quinoa into salad, soup or just as a side dish with some Tamari sauce. 

Protein

Baked Chicken:

There’s nothing worse than a sad piece of dried up, grilled chicken, especially when you are trying to watch your diet. After so many attempts and experiments I think I have finally mastered the easiest way to make a simple and healthy piece of chicken that is actually juicy and flavourful. I always buy the club packs of organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are hormone and antibiotic free. It is definitely much more expensive but this is something I choose to spend my money on as it is important to me – don’t judge. I spread the chicken on a baking sheet with parchment paper so there is no need for non-stick oils and sprays. I then sprinkle on garlic powder, onion powder and dried herbs (about 2 tsps each), squeeze some fresh lemon on and add salt and pepper. So simple and so quick. Pop the sheet in the oven where your potatoes are already baking for about 30 minutes. Once they are fully cooked through, I let them cool and then cut the chicken into strips so it is easy to portion out and pack for lunch.

Ground Turkey:

I am really into ground meats these days and turkey is a great, lean option. Ground meat is so versatile and can be used in pasta sauces, lettuce wraps, chilies, the list goes on. Lately however, I have been making this easy mixture of turkey, onions and mushrooms and just throwing it over some grains or vegetables. It really is the quickest and easiest thing to make. Simply dice and saute 1 white onion with 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, when the onions are soft add in the ground turkey meat. As it begins to brown, thrown in a pack of mushrooms. I add in a splash of Tamari, tiny bit of toasted sesame oil and a dash of brown rice vinegar. Done like dinner.

Hard Boiled Eggs:

Eggs are another item I choose to spend a little more money on. I go for eggs from pasture-fed, free run chickens. Hard boiling them is my favourite way to prepare them and I must add I am an eggshell peeling connoisseur. I typically pack 2 hard boiled eggs for breakfast along with a brown rice cake and some avocado. It’s a good mix of macro-nutrients that sorta keeps me full…until my pre-lunch snack (let’s be honest, nothing really keeps me full these days thanks to all the spin classes I teach). 

Fruits & Veggies:

I love having raw veggies and fruits already prepared in the fridge. They make the best snacks and prevent me from grabbing an unhealthier option. Problem is, they are by far the worst part about prepping. Between the washing, the peeling, the chopping – it actually makes a huge mess and takes the longest amount of time. It is definitely my least favourite part of meal prep. Saying that, I think they are actually the most important items to prep because I will be less likely to touch them if they are still sitting in their original form in the fridge. My favourites to make are kale (duh!) for salads, celery to dip in almond butter, carrots to eat with hummus and strawberries for something sweeter to snack on. 

I also love preparing roasted veggies as a side dish for dinner and usually gravitate towards broccoli and asparagus. I make them both in the fastest (read: laziest) way possible. Toss/brush some olive oil on, season with salt, pepper and dried minced garlic and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.  

As you can see, each dish is prepared in the quickest and simplest way to get me out of the kitchen and back to eating as soon as possible. I look forward to having more time in 2017 to experiment with proper recipes, but until then I will enjoy my baked chicken and roasted broccoli!