Tuesday, December 23, 2014

We've Had a Request, People :: Veggie Packed Meatballs.

Welp. We've had a request. A friend of mine asked me what to do when she is needing to eat something on the way to a workout, but doesn't have the time to fix something right then or needs it on the go. This is a great question AND a very important element of feeding your body at the right moment.

While I must remind you I am NO expert or nutritionist, I know some stuff. There are two key windows to fueling your body to really take advantage of your hard workout efforts! One would be the hour or so leading up to a workout and the second would be that 15-30 minutes after a workout when your body is recovering and makin any gainzzz you can off your ever-so-recent hard work. Just like when you eat at any point during the day, your snacks are just as important to keep completely balanced with your macro-nutrients. Getting a balance of protein and carbohydrate (come down people...this is referring to carb dense, nutrient-ful veggies, not glowing buttered rolls and other complex carbs) is vital to serving your body fuel and not consuming wasted, invaluable calories.

My favorite easily prepped such snack is the Veggie Packed Meatball. I prep these at the start of the week and store them by two's for an easy to grab snack on the way to Crossfit or as an afternoon pick-me-up.
A lot of people have their own variations, and to be honest, I change it up based on what I remember to buy each week but I'll share the gist!

What I use:
  • 1 pound ground meat of choice (ground turkey or ground beef both work great)
  • 1 egg
  • 5-6 strips of cooked bacon (I prefer to bake mine to be crispy)
  • 1 cup/or a handful of baby carrots
  • 2-3 handfuls of leafy (LEAFY) greens...I use spinach, kale and chard or whatever other power greens I have on hand
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of sun dried tomatos
  • 1 shallot
  • a little salt and pepper
  • really, the list can be endless, zucchini, shredded sweet potatoes, peppers, green onions or anything like that will be great add-ins!

Then What:
  1. Heat oven to...you guessed it, 415!
  2. Pulse all the veggies in a food processor along with the bacon. You can puree if you prefer but I like it to look like this with some chunks still in there for better texture.
  3. Let's get messy...in a large bowl, hand mix the veggie mix with the ground meat, salt and pepper and one egg. Hand mix it all until thoroughly incorporated. 
  4. I line a deep pan with foil as there will be some juices baking out from the meat and grease/spray with some EVOO
  5. Create ball shapes about 1.5-2" in diameter and spread out evenly across your pan
  6. I like to drizzle a little Frank's Red Hot Sauce across the meatballs for some added flavor baked into the top!
  7. Bake the meatballs for about 25-30 minutes depending on your oven. You can check them to see how the meat looks and I often cut one open to do a little taste test if they look done!
  8. I put these in containers of 2 and eat them cold on the way to Crossfit or sometimes after. I also have been known to eat a few of these for breakfast in a pinch and they're great reheated or cold....in my opinion.
Having things like this already prepped and packed full of nutrients makes it easy to grab the right kind of snack and keep that metabolism going throughout the day!

Get to snackin!
Finding Fit,

Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Meal Preps Take 2 :: The Juggling Act.

Well a two month wait for the second installment on my meal prepping was probably a little overkill, but I've been busy, people. And now that December is half-way over, let's just say we're lucky I've remembered to breath...and I know I'm not alone on that feeling.

I believe the last meal prep process blog ended somewhere around you've got a food haul: now what? (Check out that meal prep post to see what sort of things are making it home with me from the grocery stores) So today, we'll focus on getting from shopping cart to this:

The easiest way for me to explain my own chaotic process is to walk you through my tasks. Some Sundays I get home with all my loot and have a sudden feeling of overwhelming impossibility...so I just turn the oven on. First things first, people. Oven at 415 and I know I can make anything happen.

Turning around from the oven, your counter may look something like mine...well let me tell you how I start. Bacon. Just bacon. Bacon seems like a perfectly reasonable and thoughtful way to start a meal prep. I throw a tray of bacon in the oven to crisp up while I move on to other elements. And, let's face it, once the bacon is employed, everything else just falls into place.
For this meal prep, I knew I was planning to prep a couple dishes to bake and needed to get those in the oven and then could tend to more stove top elements. Paleo Shepard's Pie and Pizza Spaghetti Pie took precedence on this. Browning meat takes little attention at first so I started to chop my sweet potatoes for breakfast bowl while monitoring the meat. Balancing two stove top elements while prepping other veggie elements like the mashed cauliflower top for the shepard's pie and baking the spaghetti squash for the pizza spaghetti becomes quite the juggling act. Phone, microwave and oven timers are deployed in the hopes of keeping the balancing act going.

Removing the bacon, I choose a veggie (broccoli or brussels sprouts) to spread across the pan's bacon grease and toss that pan back in the oven (after spreading evenly and seasoning of course)! Getting the shepard's pie and spaghetti squash dish in the oven along with some veggies, I move on to that breakfast bowl.
Brussels after roasting in the bacon grease and FlavorGod seasonings!
I got the sweet potatoes simmering in oil over medium heat with a lid to steam them for softness. While that cooks, I browned more meat for this dish and moved on to getting an additional protein ready. This week it was salmon...I prefer my salmon a little crispy on the edges so it's easy for me to season this up and throw it in the oven next to the veggies with the casserole dishes on another shelf. As long as timers are kept straight, it's easy to just allow all these elements to cook at that same temp...at least for this multi-tasking chef.

Once the meat and sweet potatoes are ready for the breakfast bowl, I scramble up a pan of eggs and get this all mixed together. <<I'll be posting this recipe (and any others not up yet) later>> With one breakfast simmering together, I start in on my veggie packed meatballs <<Again, I'll share these soon>>.

 ...While I can, let me take a moment of confession: I'm Lisa and I have some OCD tendencies. This often causes me to use any down moments between spatula tossles to wash dishes and keep up with the kitchen...making the overall experience less overwhelming, and more controllable....that's all...

So back to these meatballs. I keep this simple and am able to pretty much dump a bunch of veggies in the processor and pulse a couple times. Gettin my hands dirty, I get these suckers rolled and into the oven in almost record time. I mean, it's pretty impressive. Ha
The meatballs headed into the oven. Recipe share coming soon!
As sides and dishes come out of the oven I begin to portion these out into my individual containers to get more pans out of the way and get more grasp on how many of each dish I will have for the week. The remaining time is a balance of chopping, washing and bagging some fresh raw veggies and any fruit or nuts for snacks as well as getting the dishes out to portion and pack up.
One question I get a lot is about storage containers and fridge life...
I find this sort of personal preference. Always check your eggs and other dates as the original food's expiration dates should be maintained as the meal's shelf life. In effort to be able to prep for my whole week, I do not ever have issue with reheating meals or eating the same thing a few times a week. Others may prefer to prep a few days of food and then prep more mid-week, but my preference is to knock it all out!

As for containers, my favorite meal containers, as you can see from the picture, are actually from Snap Kitchen (or My Fit Foods or Simply Fit...or whatever ready made meal place you've got...). They have great sizes, bpa free, a nice tight seal and they stack and fit well everywhere, storing the right size meals. I typically dump my food on a paper plate to spread it out and heat up but you can also heat up directly in these (unless you've got the whole fear of plastic thing going on). I collect these containers from week's I don't meal prep or from friends who don't keep theirs and love having them ready to use for my own meals.

In regards to what all I try to prep...
That depends on the week a little. Ideally, I would have 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and at least a few dinners if not all of them. I also am sure to have something yummy for an afternoon snack or pre-workout fuel (the meatballs) and raw veggies and nuts for healthy snacking options. Just remember to be considering your macro-nutrients and fueling your metabolism throughout the entire day with real whole foods.

With all of these elements ready and raring to go, there's no room for cheats, going hungry, or having to spend extra money throughout the week for food. 

If I can prioritize this in my busy schedule, you can too. Start simple and get excited to see how your love for cooking will grow, or as in my case, come out of nowhere!

Happy prepping friends!
Finding Fit,

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Taking Thanksgiving :: Roasted Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Welp, the Holiday season tis definitely upon us. One such tra-la-la-festive day was our recent beloved Thanksgiving. Turkey, dressing, casseroles, mashed taters, steaming starches, all things pumpkin, and pure indulgence are all elements associated with this holiday...right alongside the pilgrims...

Wearing 'pants that give' is just wise planning and a post-meal food-coma-induced nap is an expected sidebar to ridiculous amounts of football and Lifetime Christmas movies (yes this day makes it officially okay).

Family, friends, and loved ones gather round with hearts of gratitude to break bread together...except THIS girl would have no grain breakage. That's right. I wanted to take Thanksgiving and let it know, just like the rest of my life, that this day of thanks and celebration would not have to revolve around food on food on food #onfood.
Since completing the Paleo challenge in November, I have decided to go into events and holidays with a planned mindset of whether I was going to allow a cheat or not and that's just what I did this time. My mindset for Thanksgiving? I could have it if I wanted at that specific meal, but not before or after and not in excess. So I headed on home to a loving and supportive family. With just our immediate family this year, we went ahead and cut out a few items, including the homemade rolls from heaven and my favorite mama's apple pie. To bypass the mashed potatoes, I whipped up some simple roasted rosemary sweet potatoes and my now well-known-amongst-my-friends roasted bacon brussels sprouts. 
While I did opt to allow myself 2 bites of steaming stuffing and a small scoop of creamy green bean casserole, that was it. I kept the rest of the meal clean and did not feel one bit deprived. Where I would have reached for a second scoop of something (even the clean eats), I sat back and realized I was satisfied and had met the taste bud needs across the board. I never hit the indulgence phases of too stuffed to move or regret. And ya know what? Thanksgiving wasn't any less thanksgiving without all things gluten-filled.

I even whipped out a batch of my favorite Paleo chocolate chip cookies so I could opt for a cleaner route while pumpkin pie and a cheesecake sampler were dished up. Again, I did not feel deprived one bit. The few minutes I thought I'd stray, I just had to mentally LOCK IT UP and I was good.

Moral of the story? I did have a few bites of cheat for Thanksgiving meal but kept it planned and precise and have zero regrets. After all what's not to like? Turkey? Good. Veggies? Gooood. Family time? GOOOOOD. (Please enlighten yourself on that FRIENDS reference because It. Is. Good.)

I have been meaning to share my go-to brussles sprouts method for a while now; and, after making it for several Thanksgiving events this season, it is time to share my ways!

Roasted Bacon Brussels Sprouts::

What I use:
  • Package of Pederson's Uncured Sugar-free bacon
  • Large bag of Brussels Sprouts, chopped (you can often find pre-chopped sprouts in some stores like Trader Joes or Whole Foods as well)
  • A spritz of Avocado Oil or EVOO
  • Salt&Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
Then What:
  1. Oven at 415*, line a lipped baking sheet with foil
  2. Line the bacon out side by side across the tray and bake for about 15-18 minutes, just check for crispiness based on your oven.
  3. While bacon bakes, wash and chop your sprouts. Easiest is to cut in half and place those flat sides down and then chop them lengthwise into about 3 pieces each half. Once you have a rhythm down, it's very simple!
  4.  Remove your baked bacon and set aside, leaving the tray filled with bacon grease. THIS is the secret key ingredient :) Good ole bacon fat (from healthy bacon, of course!)
  5. Spread your chopped brussels out across the grease in as thin and even a layer as possible. Spray with a spritz of your oil of choice to get the tops to roast well and season with a good covering of garlic powder and pepper and a dash of sea salt. 
  6. Bake on the top rack for about 20 minutes, checking and shuffling them at least once. I like to have some crispy texture in there at the end so mine may bake for a little longer.
  7. Crumble bacon into them to serve fresh and flavorful! 
  8. I often make sprouts to use throughout the week (sometimes without the bacon step if I'm in a hurry) and they are great reheated with fried eggs over them for breakfast or alongside a protein at lunchtime!
Bacon on my friends!
Finding Fit,