Tag Archives: lunch

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail…

Meal Prep Sunday

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We know that our diet is the single most important contributor to our ability to maintain a good physique. So even during the busiest of weeks, if we aren’t able to find time to exercise, ensuring we don’t binge or seek convenience food is critical.

Doing weekly meal prep is a great way to free up a lot of time during the week. I know it seems daunting and requires a lot of discipline, but it’s actually not as time-consuming as it might seem. I don’t know how many times I told myself I was going to do it… Even bought a crock pot cookbook to meal prep the easiest way possible but I fell off the wagon after one attempt.

I decided this year would be the year that I disciplined myself to prep food for the week, allowing myself the weekends for dining out with friends. I’ve been doing well thus far and sticking to my plan quite well. Pat on the shoulder for me. *PAT*

Sadly, one of the biggest motivating factors for me was the purchase of fabulous glass containers for the meal prep. If only everything in life came so easy.

So… pictured above is my meal prep from last Sunday. It took me a total of 1.5 hours to complete and resulted in snacks, lunch and dinner for the entire week. Here’s a quick breakdown of each meal.

BREAKFAST

  • Protein shake, or
  • Greek Yogurt, berries, almonds and almond butter, or
  • Organic Steel Cut Oats, berries, almonds and almond butter, or
  • Whole wheat sandwich thins, avocado, 2 scrambled or sunnyside eggs

MORNING SNACK

  • Grape Tomatoes and Cucumbers, or
  • Baby Carrots and Celery

LUNCH

  • Salad comprised of baby spinach, kale, green peppers, red peppers, strawberries and avocado
  • Protein of either 2 hard boiled eggs or tuna

AFTERNOON SNACK

  • Bounce Protein Ball (LOVE THESE! Especially the peanut butter one. It’s literally a ball of peanut butter. YUM!)

DINNER

  • Either backed Chicken breast or Backed Turkey Breast
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Corn
  • Quinoa

Some people find it boring to eat the same thing every day, and I admit I struggled with that too… But I infuse a lot of flavour with spices on the meat, trying a different combination for each piece resulting in a different flavour each night. Similarly, I cook my quinoa in chicken stalk and throw some spices in there for some flavour. And then I try a different sauce every night for additional variety.

Of course, knowing that I will treat myself over the weekend is also a nice motivator to stick to my plan.

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Farmer’s Market… Cheaper? or More Expensive?

Farmers Market in Skopje

Farmers Market in Skopje, Macedonia
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As a little girl growing up in Macedonia, one of my favourite memories has always been going to the local farmers market with my grandfather. It was always a lively place with friendly people who often gave me a free strawberry or piece of chocolate as my grandfather and I made our way up and down the isles. I can still smell the fresh bread.

In Toronto, we’re lucky to have a couple of farmers markets open year round, with many springing up in the summer months at shopping malls and city halls around the suburbs. As I have been focusing on improving my diet and eating organic, locally grown food, shopping at the farmer’s market has become part of my weekly ritual… Every Saturday, I grab my reusable grocery bags, my shopping list, pick up a Starbucks latte, and make my way to St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto.

Last weekend, for the first time, I was struck by how inexpensive my shopping trip was compared to what I had been spending at my local Loblaws Superstore. I got all the groceries pictured below for $58.18. Not only are all of them organic, they will last me for two weeks!

Farmers Market Groceries

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I decided to compare the prices with a few of the major grocery banners in Toronto, just to make sure my memory wasn’t off. I compared the total cost of purchasing all the items on my grocery list at St. Lawrence Market, Sobeys, Metro, Loblaws Superstore and Whole Foods.

Grocery List

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Here is what I found:

St. Lawrence Market        $58.18

Metro                                 $148.32

Sobeys                               $128.56

Loblaws Superstore         $136.89

Whole Foods                     $173.44

 

 

 

Based on this shopping list, I am saving over $1800 a year on groceries by doing my shopping at St. Lawrence Market! That’s a LOT of stilettos… And sweatpants… And maybe even a vacation…

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To cleanse…. or not to cleanse…

juicesIs it just me, or is there something about juice cleanses EVERYWHERE lately? The news, Facebook, Instagram… You name it!

I have to be honest, I’ve never really understood the benefits of these things. They seem short-term and a bit extreme for my liking. As one of my dear friends points out, chewing the food you’re eating is a large part of the satisfaction of the meal. I like it when my belly feels full, the food is tasty and I am satisfied for a few hours after. The only time I will “drink” a meal is a morning protein shake.

But I’ve been seeing information on detoxes and cleanses everywhere, so I thought, maybe I’m missing something… So of course, I did some research.

While there is a lot of contradictory information out there on whether to cleanse or not to cleanse, juice or not to juice, overall there are some benefits and some things to be careful about.

Benefits

It Actually DOES Cleanse! – Did you know that the average person holds 5 – 10lbs of toxic old matter in their intestines??? Feasting is the only way to get rid of it. Doing a juice cleanse gives your digestive system a break, allowing your body to use the excess energy to clean out old matter from your small intestine.

Rapid Nutritional Intake – Juice hardly requires any digestion. Nutrients get absorbed by your body incredibly quickly, leaving you feeling energized and rejuvenated.

Increased Vitamin and Mineral Intake – Let’s face it… We all struggle with getting the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables. A juice cleanse can help you to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables (and associated vitamins and minerals) you take in daily. You can pack a looooot of veggies in a juice glass!

Juicing Right

There are some potential risks with juice cleanses, so nutritionists say to keep an eye on a few things.

1)      Use Only Organic Fruits and Vegetables – There is an increased risk that you may consume unwanted chemicals if you’re juicing with non-organic, genetically modified produce.

2)      Watch Out for Chemical Pesticides – When you juice, any chemical pesticides will be ingested in much higher quantities. Most organic produce is treated with organic, natural pesticides, but not all. Make sure you double check.

3)      Don’t Exceed 3 Weeks – for best results, nutritionists recommend doing a juice only cleanse for no more than three weeks and then resuming a nutrition rich, clean and organic diet that incorporates fresh juices to amplify vitamin intake.

4)      Cleanses Are Best for Generally Fit People – While there are some weight benefits associated with doing one, if you’re overweight and considering a juice cleanse, speak to your doctor first. Most overweight adults have an unstable glycemic index making a juice cleanse a bit too extreme for their bodies.

What’s in your juice?

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The day of many vices…

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An integral part of maintaining a good balance in life is to treat yourself once in a while. Work hard, and play hard, as they say. Last Friday I bid farewell to the grey skies and frigid cold of Toronto in favour of the sunshine and warmth of San Francisco, California.

The past 5 days have been a wonderful treat to an otherwise busy and rather gruelling year. Spending time with incredible friends and taking in the sights has been really relaxing and therapeutic.

When on vacation, it’s easy to let your diet and exercise slide, so I made a concerted effort to stay active while here. I have gone running through wine country for 2 out of the 5 days I’ve been here and utilized the San Francisco hills for butt and leg sculpting the remainder of the time. By and large, I have been eating relatively healthy as well. Until today that is….

I have no idea what came over me, but today has turned into the day of many vices. I kicked off the morning with a wholesome breakfast of leftover pizza. Not having had the opportunity to try San Francisco’s famous sourdough bread, I followed this with a brunch of a sourdough turkey and avocado sandwich. For lunch, we were at Ghirardelli Square, so I thought… What the heck… A chocolate brownie sundae sounds like a great idea! So I had that for lunch… If you’ve never been to Ghirardelli Square and you find yourself in San Fran, you MUST go and have some dessert. It’s to DIE for and worth every calorie.

Following this, my friend and I headed to Pier 39 where, like good Canadians, we got comfortable on some Muskoka chairs and ordered fruity drinks complete with little umbrellas. We quickly attracted some wonderful people who were out for a work function. They joined us on the Muskoka chairs and promptly offered us a few drinks on the company. We’re not ones to refuse great conversation and free drinks with new friends, so two more fruity cocktails ensued.

Time flies when you’re having fun, so before we knew it, it was time for dinner. Off we stumbled to an Italian restaurant we had scoped out earlier. More sourdough bread with butter, olive oil and vinegar magically appeared on our table along with wine. Clearly I had to sample some before my spaghetti a la salmone arrived. It would be rude not to…

So within 12 hours, I consumed more carbs and sugar than I have eaten in at least 3 years. I would normally be feeling very guilty, but I am relishing in the glow of the wonderful tastes I sampled comforted by the fact that I have earned every calorie not just by walking the steep hills and climbing 800 steps throughout the day, but by all the hard work I have put in over the past year. Soon, vacation will be over and I will be back to the grind of work, the gym and my own carbless cooking. So for now, I am treating myself. Because I deserve it.

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Homemade Nutella – Gluten Free & Dairy Free

Nutella JarDear Nutella

I want to smother you on everything… You make me think late night binges are the best idea ever. You comfort me during “that time of the month” like nothing else can (not even Midol). I’ve eaten you by the spoonful despite adamant protests by my butt, thighs and stomach.

You are by far my longest relationship ever – my childhood sweetheart… And every attempt to break up with you has left me longing for more and inevitably reuniting with you over a piece of toast and a glass of milk.

But the time has come for us to both be better versions of ourselves… Leaner and healthier, but with all the personality ever.

Sincerely,

Katerina

Homemade Gluten Free Dairy Free NutellaYep… Growing up in Europe has resulted in a bit of a Nutella addiction. Ok… A MAJOR Nutella addiction. I’ve tried to kick the habit, but it seems to be ingrained in my DNA. So… I decided to try deconstructing the recipe, replace some ingredients with healthier options and hopefully reduce the saturated fat, sugar and calorie content. Without sacrificing the flavour of course…

Tall order, right? Well… I tried and am quite happy with the result. It was not only really quick and easy, it’s also Gluten Free and Dairy Free. You’re welcome.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups of raw whole hazelnuts

1 can of light organic coconut milk

½ cup of organic coconut sugar

¼ teaspoon sea salt

10 oz 100% chocolate (or if you don’t have a dairy intolerance, you can use 70% chocolate)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  1. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes. You know they are done when the shells look lightly toasted and fill your house with that yummy hazelnut fragrance.
  2. In a medium pot, heat coconut milk, coconut sugar and salt on medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved into the milk. Set aside.
  3. In a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate and set aside.
  4. When hazelnuts have been toasted, lay them on a clean, damp towel and gently rub them to remove most of the skin.
  5. Place the hazelnuts in your blender or food processor (I use my Ninja) and process them until they are extremely fine.
  6. Add in melted chocolate and mix until you achieve a smooth texture.
  7. Add coconut milk and sugar mixture and mix again until all the ingredients are completely incorporated and smooth.
  8. Pour into a jar, let cool and spread all over everything in your fridge. Yum!

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What’s your winter comfort food?

Lasagna

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On a cold and snowy day, nothing is more comforting than a heaping plate of my homemade lasagna, followed by a fuzzy blanket, a glass of wine and a movie. And the best part is, there is enough left over for at least 1 or 2 more dinners or lunches.

Making lasagna takes a long time and can be intimidating, but anyone can do it – even you! Here are step by step instructions on how my recipe can warm you up on a cold day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound Italian sausage cut into small pieces
  • ¾ pound extra lean ground beef
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 6 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 6.5 ounce cans canned tomato sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons Chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Cayane pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • 16 ounces light ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ pound shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • ¾ cups grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Meat Sauce (1 ½ Hours Cooking Time)
1. In a large pot, brown sausage, ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat.
2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water and mix well
3. Add sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, Chili powder, Cayene pepper, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley
4. Simmer covered for about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally

Noodles (20 Minutes Cooking Time)
1. In a large pot, bring water and salt to a boil
2. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 8 – 10 minutes
3. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water

Ricotta Cheese Mixture (5 Minutes Prep Time)
1. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg, remaining parsley and ½ teaspoon salt
2. Stir with a spoon until well mixed

Assembly (10 Minutes)
1. Spread 1 ½ cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9 X 11 or 9 X 13 inch baking dish.
2. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce
3. Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles
4. Top with shredded mozzarella until covered
5. Spoon 1 ½ cups meat sauce over mozzarella
6. Sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
7. Arrange 4 more noodles lengthwise
8. Spread remaining ricotta cheese mixture
9. Top with shredded mozzarella until covered
10. Spoon 1 ½ cups meat sauce over mozzarella
11. Sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
12. Arrange last 4 noodles lengthwise
13. Spread remaining meat sauce over noodles
14. Spread remaining mozzarella until covered
15. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese until covered

Baking (50 Minutes)
1. Cover baking dish with foil. Make sure foil doesn’t touch cheese.
2. Bake covered for 25 minutes
3. Remove foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes
4. Cool for 15 minutes and then serve!

What’s your winter comfort food?

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