Step-by-Step Meal Prep Guide

What is Meal Prep?

Meal Prep

Meal prep means just as the name implies; “preparing” your meals ahead of time so that having a healthy meal on-hand is always an option.

Step 1: Decide what type of meal you want to prepare from the template below

• Basic: Protein + Carb + Vegetable + Fat
• Low Carb: Protein + Vegetable + Vegetable + Fat
• Vegetarian: Legume + Grain/Carb + Vegetable + Fat
Step 2: Decide on your meal prep method

1) The Semi-Ready Meal Prep
This means having each individual food group chopped and ready to cook on the spot and/or having it already cooked and ready to portion out for each day/meal. This leaves the majority of the prepping out of the way and allows you to decide what you want to eat for that meal. Mix and max as you please!

2) The Full Meal Prep
This type of meal prep has all your meals for the week ready to grab-and-go from the fridge. The food groups are pre-portioned and stored in Tupperware or glass food containers. This requires more Tupperware than the Semi-Meal Prep but saves you a little more time during the week.

Step 3: Visualize your meals and shop according to how many meals you would like for the week. And shop accordingly.

Pro tip: Google “Meal Prep” and click on “images” to get a look at some of the delicious options that you might want to consider.

Step 4: Preparing the meals

For easy meal prep, there are three options for cooking:
1) Roasting – cooking in an oven, usually on a sheet pan or casserole dish
2) Steaming – using vapor heat
3) Poaching/boiling – submerging in boiling water

Try to pick one to two methods of cooking for the easiest meal prep.

For example:
Roasting  Protein + Vegetable
Steaming  Starch

COOKING BASICS

• PROTEIN
Roasting is the easiest way to cook meats. Lay all your meat on a sheet pan lined with foil or parchment paper, season with spices and herbs of choice, bake according to safe temperatures.

• STARCHES
In general, when cooking grains, steaming is the best option. When cooking roots/tubers, starchy vegetables, roasting or boiling are good options.
All grains can be cooked in a rice cooker, however if you don’t own a rice cooker, follow the stove-top recipe provided.

• VEGETABLES
Other than consuming raw vegetables, roasting or steaming are the easiest ways to cook them. Steaming is a lighter option than roasting, however roasting can be kept light if using little to no oil (think olive oil spray). For roasting, lay all washed, chopped vegetables on a lined baking sheet, spray, season and bake for 15-20 minutes at 450° F.

• FATS
Though fats are a necessary component to any diet, they don’t necessarily need to be “prepped”. When preparing the rest of your meal, figure out whether you already have a source of fat BEFORE adding a source of fat.

For example:
1) Certain meats/protein sources may already have a source of fat.
2) Roasting vegetables or meat in oil counts as a serving of fat.
3) Salad dressings typically have oil (fat).

If you don’t have a source of fat coming from the above sources, then you can add a source of fat such as cheese, nuts, olives, avocado, seeds, etc.

Step 5: Storing Your Meals

• The Semi-Meal Prep – Store each food group in a separate large container and store in fridge. Use smaller containers on the day of and portion out your food each day. Mix and match daily!

• The Full Meal Prep – Portion out all you meals for the week in individual containers and store in fridge or freezer.

 

Samira Bouldt, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.

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The Scoop on Anti-Inflammatory Diets

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What is inflammation?

Inflammation occurs when the body is fighting something harmful and/or foreign. It is a natural immune response that helps bring blood flow, and therefore nutrients, to repair the damaged/irritated area.  Inflammation is often localized, but can also be systemic.

Inflammation is NECESSARY and serves a purpose to protect us from injuries and disease, however if it is chronic (constant), it can lead to other serious health issues.

What causes inflammation?

  • Injury
  • Stress
  • Exposure to irritants
  • Exposure to foreign materials the body can’t eliminate easily
  • Diet

How does diet affect inflammation?

Diet can affect inflammation in many ways including:

  • Food allergies and intolerance’s triggering an immune response
  • Ingestion of foreign “non-food” compounds in highly processed foods, triggering an immune response
  • Imbalance of essential pro-inflammatory fats to essential anti-inflammatory fats

What is the best diet for reducing inflammation?

Though there is no specific diet targeted at reducing inflammation, there are a few things you can do:

1) EAT WHOLE FOODS

Whole foods are foods that have not been altered to take away any of their edible portions. By consuming whole foods, you are ensuring that the foods will contain their natural composition of fiber, water, sugars, and other nutrients in a way that will act balanced in your body.

2) LIMIT PROCESSED FOODS

Processed foods are foods that have gone through a “process” to achieve its current state. Processed foods can have unnecessary additives such as sodium, and chemical agents that are safe for human consumption, but may have unknown and unwanted effects on the body.

3) A GOOD RATIO OF PRO-INFLAMMATORY FATS TO ANTI-INFLAMMATORY FATS

Inflammation is necessary in the body. Without it, healing internally or externally would not occur. Poly-unsaturated fats known as Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s play a large role in inflammation. Omega 6’s are actually needed in a higher ratio than Omega 3’s, at a ratio of 4:1. However the typical western diet is showing trends of ratios closer to 16:1 and up to 50:1. This is a major cause of inflammation because we are consuming much more pro-inflammatory fats than anti-inflammatory fats.

Omega 6’s

· Pro-inflammatory

Main sources include seed and vegetable oils such as:

o   Soybean oil

o   Corn oil

o   Sunflower oil

o   Cotton Seed oil

o   Olive oil

o   Canola oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omega 3’s

·  Anti-inflammatory

Main sources include fish and fish oils (DHA & EPA)

o  Salmon

o   Sardines

o   Tuna

o   Mackerel

o   Halibut

o   Herring

Other sources (much less bioavailable- ALA):

o   Walnuts

o   Flax seeds

Other animal fats such as:

o   Eggs

o   Pasture raised beef

TIPS ON GETTING CLOSER TO THE 4:1 (OMEGA 6: OMEGA 3) RATIO

  • Reduce or eliminate processed vegetable OILS – they key word is OILS. Oils are a much more concentrated, extracted form of these fats. There is no need to eliminate their whole food
  • Increase intake of fatty fish as it contains bio-available Omega 3’s in DHA and EPA form. Though ALA is a form of Omega 3, it is not as easily absorbed or used by the body.

 

Samira Bouldt, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.

Batch Cooking Beans

Beans

Making your own beans from scratch/dry may seem like a time-consuming task. Though it may take up to 24 hrs from start the finish, most of the work is hands-off and totally worth it!

Canned beans are a great option if you’re in a pinch. However most canned beans have other added ingredients and preservatives such as salt, sugar, calcium chloride, and calcium disodium (what is that??). Plus, why buy a dollar can of beans when you can make 4 times the amount of beans for the same price or maybe even less?!

Here is how I make my beans from scratch!

Ingredients:

(recipe makes about 5 cups of cooked beans)

1 lb beans of choice (kidney, black, pinto, red, chickpeas, lima, fava)

 

Directions:

Soak dried beans of choice in room temperature water for 12 hours or overnight.

Drain and rinse beans. Place in a thick pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-2 hours on medium-low heat or until soft. Adding water as needed. Drain and rinse beans again.

Spread beans evenly on a large cookie sheet and allow to cool and air dry for about an hour. Try to keep beans from overlapping. After one hour, place entire cookie sheet with beans in freezer for 2-3 hours (this allows for the beans to freeze individually instead of in a large block). Using a spatula, scrape frozen beans off of cookie sheet and transfer to a freezer-safe ziplock or container. Work quickly as beans can start to thaw.

Note: When boiling beans, you can add herbs and spices to give flavor, such as garlic, onion, cumin, rosemary, sage, thyme etc. If you would like to add some salt, add at in the last 15 minutes of boiling, as salt can prevent beans from cooking all the way through.

 

Samira Bouldt, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.

Seasonal Gardening with Samira

Garden

Get the most out of your gardening year by planting your garden according to the season. Knowing what and when to plant certain fruits and vegetables can have you harvesting food in every season of the year!

Asparagus, Rhubarb, and Strawberries

These three are the first to start providing in the year. These plants are perennials that go dormant during the coldest months of the year but begin to thrive as soon as the ground begins to thaw. Get these planted in your garden ASAP, as soon as the ground is thawed and soft. They will produce more and more every year! No need to replant!

Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, etc (Brassicas)

The brassicas belong to the cabbage family. These can tolerate freezing temperatures in the early spring. Get seedlings transplanted in late February to early March for a mid to late May harvest. These plants actually prefer cold weather as hot temperature can cause them to flower and go to seed.

Peas, Beans, Carrots, Radishes, and Lettuces

Another spring crop that prefers cool weather. Directly sow you seeds in thawed, evenly moist soil in mid March through late April . These will germinate within 2 weeks and be ready to harvest by late May through June, before the weather gets too hot.

Potatoes, Onions, and Corn

Get these planted in early April as they need a long growing season. You won’t be harvesting these until end of August to early September, but the longer they are in the ground the better.  A light frost won’t harm them.

Squash, Peppers, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Cucumbers

These summer vegetables love heat and do not tolerate cold weather. Wait until the end of May or early June to get them in the ground. Peppers are especially sensitive to temperatures below 50 so wait a little longer to plant your peppers.

Cabbage Family

Time to get your winter veggies in the ground again so they can get established before the days become too short. The cabbage family will survive through the winter and grow slowly but you can get harvests as early as January if you get your seedlings in the ground by end of September.

Garlic

Pop these in the ground no later than Halloween for a mid-summer harvest! Garlic needs to establish it’t roots over the winter and a cold snap to grow big bulbs!

There you have it! Vegetables for every season! HAPPY GARDENING!!!

Samira Bouldt, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.

Benefits High Intensity Interval Training

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High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a super-efficient workout. Most people aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic zone (this happens when you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest). During HIIT, you work very hard in short intervals and then you recover.

You burn more calories during a HIIT workout, more muscle is preserved, and also HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. HGH is responsible for increased caloric burn and slows down the aging process. Calories burned from HIIT come from a higher metabolism, which lasts for hours after exercise.

Overall, HIIT produces many of the same health benefits as other forms of exercise such as reducing inflammation in your body, improving heart health, lower body fat, heart rate, and blood pressure, in a shorter amount of time. Intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into hyperdrive and as a consequence you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIIT workout than you do after a steady-pace workout such as running.

A study recently published on cell.com shows that HIIT is more effective than weight training or cardio for improving metabolic health, is superior for fighting age related decline, and may yield anti-aging benefits down to the cellular level. HIIT was found to be even more effective at improving mitochondria biogenesis.

All cells in our bodies contain mitochondria. They produce energy that powers everything your cells do. HIIT boosted the ability of the mitochondria within cells to generate energy by 69 percent in older volunteers, and by 49 percent in the younger group. Mitochondrial activity declines with age, which may aggravate fatigue and reduce the size and ability of muscles to burn excess blood sugar – a risk factor for diabetes. But this decline was halted and even reversed with HIIT after three months of interval training in older participants in the study, where everything converged towards what they saw in young people. Interval trainers also saw surges in the amount of oxygen they could inhale and consume, another indicator of higher metabolism.

New research also found evidence of the HIIT effect on the aging process by measuring the structures at the end of chromosomes, known as telomeres. Telomeres are a kind of “junk DNA”, which does not encode protein sequences and whose function is not well known.  Each time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. When they get too short, the cell can no longer divide; it becomes inactive or “senescent” or it dies. This shortening process is associated with aging, cancer, and a higher risk of death.

We know that our telomeres start to shrink as we age, but we also know that older people with longer telomeres don’t experience vascular aging as rapidly as people with shorter ones. This means their veins are generally in better shape and they are less at risk for conditions like heart disease and stroke. Researchers found that the people in the aerobic and HIIT groups experienced more telomerase activity. Telomerase is an enzyme that adds nucleotides (the molecules that form DNA) to telomeres. This process causes chromosomes to become longer. In other words, HIIT acts “like a drug” protecting your telomeres, producing the anti-aging effect.

Gabriela Brochu, Biologist, Ph.D.

Gabriela Brochu is a College Professor by day and Group Fitness Instructor at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center by night. She teaches HIIT a couple of times per week. Her classes can be found under the class schedule on our website: www.saintmarysfitness.com 

Whole Grain Sourdough Crackers

Crackers

Ever thought about making your own crackers? It’s a lot easier than it seems and its a great way to have total control of the ingredients inside! Plus, lower phytate levels due to fermentation make sourdough bread and crackers easier to digest and absorb minerals! Sourdough also contains natural prebiotics and probiotics and may even help break down gluten which allows some gluten sensitive folks to be able to enjoy sourdough items! Yay! So many benefits!

Read on as Samira shares her go-to sourdough cracker recipe below.  Yum!

Whole Grain Sourdough Crackers

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (180g) “fed” or “unfed” sourdough starter
  • 1 packed cup (150g) whole grain flour
  • ¼ cup (70g) water
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) olive oil
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

Optional Ingredients (up to ¼ cup total):

  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Sunflower/pumpkin seeds
  • Slivered/chopped nuts

Optional Seasonings (to taste):

  • Granulated garlic
  • Granulated onion

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300° F. Whisk sourdough starter with water and olive oil. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and optional seasonings. Mix until just combined, but do not over mix. Take dough and roll out as thin possible on silicone mat or parchment paper that fits two standard sized cookie sheets. Make sure to sprinkle flour on top of dough to prevent from sticking. Using a rolling pizza cutter, cut into 1”x 1” squares. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate pan and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Turn off oven and allow crackers to completely cool INSIDE of the oven. Store in a jar or glass container to prevent the crackers from breaking.

Samira Bouldt, is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center.

Using the Pinky Ball for Trigger Point Therapy & Self-Massage.

The Pinky Ball is a portable massage aid that can go anywhere you do. Ideal for self-massage of chronically tight muscles in the feet, glutes, hips, back, shoulders, forearms and more. It can also help with the prevention or relief of plantar fasciitis by rolling it under the foot to stretch the plantar fascia.

These irritable, painful areas of muscle are often referred to as trigger points.  Chronically tight muscles tend to have restricted blood flow causing reduced oxygen and nutrients in the muscle as well as increased levels of metabolic waste products. This leads to pain, irritability and localized areas of pathological contractions within the muscle. Trigger point therapy uses steady pressure applied to the muscles to force stale blood out of the muscle, stretch the muscle fibers and restore normal blood flow.

Watch the video below as Rori demonstrates various ways to use the Pinky Ball to  release tension in your body and reduce pain in tight areas.

We hope you found this helpful!

Please feel free to contact Rori Lee, Health Coaching & Corporate Wellness Supervisor if you have questions! 775.770.7503 or RLee@primehealthcare.com