Believe it or not—despite the assortment of mouth-watering, appetite satisfying and carb-sensitizing recipes in my books—I actually don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Like many of you, my busy schedule just doesn’t permit it. Whether balancing work, school or family life (or all of the above), we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, and often it feels like that’s not enough. This can be a hard hurdle to clear when looking to shed a few pounds that may have accumulated over the summer—especially since a diet requires preparation and consistency to succeed. The good news is that there are some time-saving tips that will make preparing and sticking to your fall nutrition program a whole lot easier.
Purchase a portable blender. While I love my powerful Vitamix blender, I like to keep a smaller, inexpensive blender (like the Magic Bullet) at work and at my cottage, along with the key ingredients for a perfect smoothie. My selection includes whey protein isolate, frozen berries, a package of ground flaxseed or chia seed and a selection of sugar-free nut butters. If you don’t have access to a fridge or freezer, you can bring in fresh berries as needed, or skip them altogether. While ground flaxseed and chia seed should be kept in the fridge, most fiber alternatives can be stored at room temperature.
Double up on recipes. Although recipes range from single servings to family size, you can always double or even triple the ingredients and freeze extras for later. As long as the caloric breakdown of the meals are fairly equal, such as the recipes listed in The Supercharged Hormone Diet, dinners can become lunches and breakfasts can even become dinners.
Purchase a shaker cup and glass containers. Out of all my must-have diet essentials, a good shaker cup tops the list. They can be purchased at almost any health food store for under $10. If I know that I will be out of the house all day, I will put a scoop of protein powder in my shaker cup along with a little bit of cinnamon, a serving of chia seed or non-psyllium fiber supplement and a tablespoon of almond butter. When I am ready for a meal, I just add water, shake well and drink. The almond butter becomes a tasty little “cookie” at the bottom of the shaker that can be eaten separately. I also recommend having an assortment of glass containers in which to store and carry your meals so you aren’t tempted to stray from the program. Although plastic containers are cheaper and lighter to carry, they can leach chemicals into your food.
Cook protein in batches, twice weekly. Since most proteins will remain fresh for three or four days, I find it helpful to cook protein twice weekly in larger batches either using the oven, the grill, the crockpot or the stove.. Given that Sundays and Wednesdays are my slower days, I set aside a bit of time on these days to prepare the powerful protein punch that will keep my metabolism revving. While that is cooking, you can also chop up a large assortment of vegetables twice weekly so you can make a quick stir fry, top a salad or have a snack.
Prepare snack options in bulk. You can be diligent in preparing your meals, but if you skip a snack you may find yourself being magnetically pulled to the vending machine at work once that mid-day slump hits. This mini-meal will help balance your blood sugars so you avoid the dreaded “afternoon slump” that often makes us reach for junk food. This snack will also help you achieve greater weight loss, if this is your goal. Since the snack options I recommend below are so easy to prepare, you may find it helpful to prepare several servings and separate them into baggies or small glass containers that are easy to grab and go. If you are storing your snacks at work, be sure to replenish your inventory regularly. I usually keep a box of protein bars, a large bag of tamari almonds, a selection of low-fat cheeses and Greek yogurt at the clinic for easy access.
My favorite quick and easy snack options:
- 2 servings of Allégro 4% cheese with a piece of fruit and a few nuts
- 1 organic apple with 1 tbsp (25 mL) almond butter
- 1 serving of plain Liberté Greek or Goat Yogurt with one piece of your allowed fruits
- 1/2 cup (250 g) berries mixed with 1/2 cup (250 g) ricotta cheese
- 12 tamari-roasted almonds with 1/2 cup (250 g) blackberries
- 2 boiled eggs with a handful of veggies
- 1/2 cup (250 mL) hummus with veggie slices (such as cucumber, peppers and celery)
- 2 to 3 slices of nitrate- and sulphite-free turkey or chicken slices with one tbsp of almonds
- 7 walnuts with a piece of fruit or ½ cup of berries
- 2 large tomato slices, topped with 1 1/2 ounces (45 g) Nu Tofu non-fat cheddar cheese alternative and 1/4 of an avocado
- 8 almonds and 1 1/2 ounce (45 g) Nu Tofu non-fat cheddar cheese alternative
- Mix 1/2 cup (250 g) Liberté Organic Plain Yogurt, 1/2 scoop whey protein isolate, 3 walnuts or 5 almonds, and 1/4 cup (125 g) raspberries or blackberries
- 1/4 cup berries with 1/2 cup cottage cheese, with 1 tbsp almond slivers, mixed together
Photo: Crumpets and Cakes