Tag Archives: Eat By Design

how to get more veggies

7 Ways To Get More Veggies Into Your Diet

My client sent me a note before our weekly call and said that she wanted pointers on how to get more veggies.

And of course, this is an excellent question. The answers are not rocket science but the discussion even served as a great reminder for me so I know that this will be a valuable list to share.

Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that are essential to our health. They help our bodies process and eliminate toxins from our environment and help our cells to avoid being damaged which keeps us safe from chronic disease.

They also contain fiber which keeps our digestive systems running smoothly, helps control our blood sugar levels and may help prevent cancer. It also helps to remove the “bad” cholesterol from our bodies.

And yes, you can get all the fiber you need and more from a grain free diet that contains lots of vegetables.

Here is how you can get more of these important little pieces of goodness.

Be prepared

Getting more veggies starts with being prepared.

You know you are going to get hungry during the day so make sure that you keep easy to grab snacks (ie vegetables) on hand.

For example, right now I am loving snap peas. So I buy a bag or two every week. I snack on them while I cook and I bring some with me when I leave the house.

This eliminates the desire to stop for a quick snack or take out.

You can also do this with mini cucumbers, carrots or any other veggie that you like.

Get a greens powder

Greens

Paleoethics Greens

We recently discovered this greens powder. It is a mix of veggies and fruits and it is organic, wheat free and filler free.

But is not something we have to choke down with the goal of getting more servings of veggies. We actually love it…and we get more servings of veggies!

I add a scoop to my shake bottle in the morning and then, later in the day when I am getting a bit hungry, I just add water and enjoy.

The kids love it too, as a chaser to their breakfast or a midday snack…and even as a bedtime snack (you know what I am talking about…”I’m stiiiiill hungry!”)

Eat a salad with every meal

Yep. Even breakfast.

I like to buy bagged salad. This just gives me the convenience I need right now. And when I have time, I make one of these salads.

Omelettes, Frittatas etc.

If you are eating By Design, paleo or just nutrient dense foods you are likely eating a lot of eggs.

Well, just make sure to add some veggies to those eggs…on the side or in the eggs.

Every morning at breakfast make sure to nibble on some peppers, add a bed of spinach to your plate before plating the eggs or add some onion and mushrooms to your eggs.

Spiralize

Zucchini Noodles

Spiralizing is super easy. You just use the spiralizer to turn your sweet potato, zucchini, butternut squash or beets into noodles.

You can enjoy them raw or sautee them in a bit of healthy cooking oil (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil) with salt and pepper for a few minutes and you have the base of your meal or a perfect side dish.

Many grocery stores are starting to sell spiralized veggies as the trend is catching on!

Buy a veggie tray

This idea came straight from my client! In the spirit of convenience she decided to purchase a big veggie tray and keep it in the fridge.

Yes, veggies stay fresh longer and are likely more nutrient dense if you prepare them right before consuming them but really…if it is a toss up between eating veggies from a platter or not eating them at all… you had better know what the winner is, by a long shot.

Greens Smoothie

Two great things about smoothies:

1. You can put vegetables like swiss chard, spinach and cucumbers in them and still make them taste great.

2. You can meal prep them so that all you need to do in the morning is add all the prepped ingredients to a blender.

This video shows you how to meal prep smoothies and shares my favourite smoothie recipe.

Recap

See? I’ll bet the wheels are turning a bit right now and you are thinking “Yeah, I could start doing…..to get more veggies.”

  • Be prepared.
  • Get a greens powder.
  • Eat a salad with every meal.
  • Make your eggs into an omelette.
  • Spiralize.
  • Buy a veggie tray.
  • Make a greens smoothie.

I would love to hear which action step you are going to take to get more veggies into your diet. Please let me know in the comments below. And let me know what other ideas you have!

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

 

salmon foil packs

Sundried Tomato Pesto and Salmon Foil Packets

The best summer bbq recipes are healthy and simple but still deliver a ton of flavour.
Admittedly, this Sundried Tomato Pesto & Salmon Foil Packets recipe does carry an extra step of making your own pesto but it is super simple, I promise.

They are great for a weeknight meal but also fancy enough for company!

These packets can be made in advance and then frozen before cooking. Make sure that your rice is fully cooled before you put the salmon on top if you intend to freeze it so that you do not unintentionally heat up the salmon before freezing it. Then, defrost the packets before putting them on the bbq.

And the rice is totally optional.

The best option for a super nutritious meal would be to make a bed full of veggies under the salmon. Cut the veggies small enough so that they will soften in the 15-20 minutes that they cook. Using frozen broccoli is great because it will soften quickly.

Just remember that no matter what you use, adding a little water to the packet before closing it will help to make sure the bottom layer does not burn during cooking.

If you want to make these packets for a weeknight meal, it will speed up the process if you make the rice and pesto in advance, but this is not necessary…just a little food prep tip.

Nutritional Yeast can be found at Bulk Barn, your local health food store or the health food section at your grocery store. It is an inactive yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses that tastes similar to cheese. It sounds weird, but it is a great alternative to parmesan for those you cannot consume dairy.

Sundried Tomato Pesto & Salmon Foil Packets

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Special Equipment: Food Processor

  • cooked white rice (optional, I use the equivalent of 1 cup dry rice, before cooking)
  • trimmed green beans (or snap peas or broccoli)
  • 1.5 pounds salmon, cut into four portions
  • salt & pepper
  • sundried tomato pesto (about 1.5 cups, recipe below will yield more…)
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • aluminum foil
  • olive oil
  1. Make the Sundried Tomato Pesto (recipe is below).
  2. Make two large rectangles of aluminum foil (about 2 feet long each).
  3. Pat down half of the rice in the center of each piece of foil.
  4. Create a layer of green beans on top of the rice making sure to have the length of the bean running parallel to the long side of the foil so it folds easily and drizzle a little oil over top.
  5. Place 2 salmon portions over the beans on each piece of foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  6. Spread a thick layer of sundried tomato pesto over the salmon portions (about 1/8 inch thick but more or less will be great too)!
  7. Sprinkle minced garlic over the salmon.
  8. Place fresh thyme sprigs on top.
  9. Roll up the foil by bringing the long edges together and rolling them down. Then roll up one end.
  10. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of water into the open end of the packet (this is to keep the rice from drying out). Then fold up that end.
  11. Foil packets can now be
    cooked or placed in the freezer.
  12. Cook packets on the bbq over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until salmon reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF (or 120ºF if you like it medium rare).
  13. Open packets and place portions on plates to enjoy!

Sundried Tomato Pesto

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 270ml bottle of sundried tomatoes with oil (I use these)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • Additional olive oil if needed
  1. Turn on your food processor and add the cashews and garlic while the blade is spinning.
  2. Open the food processor and add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Process until the ingredients have turned into a pesto.
  4. If the mixture seems a little too dry add 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Serves 4-6

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

Burrito Bowls

Easy Burrito Bowls

You may have found that healthy eating and take-out do not exactly mesh. So when you find one you love, they become your go-to.

Burrito Bowls from Chipotle and Muccho Burrito have both been great options for my family. They are full of veggies and meat with healthy guacamole and I can choose to omit any ingredients that are not nutritious and just ask for more veggies.

But because I am also budget conscious, I can’t say that I love dropping more than forty dollars on burrito bowls for just one meal for four…even though they really are delicious.

So in honour of my hubby’s birthday this year, I decided to take a stab at making homemade burrito bowls. Chipotle, for the record, is his favourite take-out. It is the only thing I know for which he is willing to risk missing a train….

I marinaded the meat in a spice rub overnight (I used chicken and beef), sauteed some peppers and onions, made some pico and guacamole and served it all up with sour cream, salsa, cheese, white rice and black beans (if you are avoiding grains and legumes, you can easily leave out the rice and beans. It is an indulgence for me that I choose to include in my burrito bowls).

And the final review….he said the meal was better than pizza (which up until that night was his all-time favourite meal)! And for the record, he didn’t even have the rice and beans.

Easy Burrito Bowls

Time: 1 hour 45 minutes including marinating

  • 2 pounds chicken breasts or thighs or grilling steak
  • 2 tablespoons of fajita/taco seasoning or use this recipe:
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • 2 peppers (a mix of red, yellow, green or orange), cut into strips
  • 1 medium onion, cut into strips
  • Pico (recipe below or store bought)
  • Guacamole (recipe below or store bought)

Serve with

  • sour cream, salsa, cheese
  • optional: black beans, white rice
  1. Mix the spices together and toss them on the meat along with about two tablespoons olive oil. Allow the meat to marinade for an hour or overnight.
  2. Grill the meat (or bake it) and once cooked, cut it up into small chunks.
  3. Cut up the peppers and onions.
  4. Sautee peppers and onions in a pan with some olive oil over medium heat until soft to your liking (some people like to leave them with a bit of a crunch).
  5. Make Pico & Guacamole (below).
  6. To serve: put each item in it’s own bowl (including the sour cream, salsa, cheese and black beans & rice if using) and create a buffet so people can load up their burrito bowl the way they like it!

Serves 4

Guacamole

Prep Time: 5 minutes

  • 2 avocados
  • Fresh squeezed juice from  1/2 of a lime
  • 1 tablespoon or more fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the insides into a bowl small.
  2. With the back of a fork, mash the avocado.
  3. Add tomato, onion, lime juice, cilantro and sea salt.
  4. Mix all ingredients well.

Pico

  • 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  1. Combine ingredients in a small bowl.

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

Flax Snax

I originally came across this recipe on Ellen Sue Spicer’s website back…well, way back! 

It was a hit with my kids and even better because it is so simple to make, I would get my kids involved, even at a very young age, and we would make a batch every weekend.

If we had young friends over, we made a batch with them. And then I shared them with my bookclub and the recipe became a hit there too!

I admit, it is one of those interesting concoctions that is strangely addictive.

I look forward to hearing what you think!

I recommend buying your flax seeds whole and grinding them in a blender yourself. This will ensure that you are using fresh flax. Once ground, the flax will be fresh for about a week.

prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 0 minutes

Flax Snax

Ingredients:

1/2 cup tahini

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup raw cocoa powder

1/4 cup grass-fed whey protein powder (vanilla flavoured or plain)

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl mix together tahini and ground flax seeds with a spoon.
  2. In another bowl mix together maple syrup, protein powder, and raw cocoa powder with a spoon.
  3. Add tahini/flax mix to other ingredients and stir with a spoon.
  4. Using your hands, form the mixture into small balls, roll them in coconut flakes and place them on a plate.
  5. Freeze for about an hour and then enjoy!

Yield: 12 flax snax
Note: Store leftovers in the fridge

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

Meal Prep: Best Guidelines for Freezing Food

Oh my…wow….just the memory I am about to share is enough to make me cringe…

I can still remember the days before I figured out what meal prep actually meant, trying to get supper on the table. Witching hour for my boys happened to be right at the moment when I was stuck in the kitchen, something boiling over on the stove, the meat not even in the oven yet, ingredients for a salad that I knew I wasn’t going to make…and dinner already way behind schedule…oh yeah, those were the days!

Now to be honest, these days still happen to me sometimes but they are much less stressful because I have found ways to at least have one thing prepared in advance to make my life easier at dinnertime.

And the way that I accomplish that is often by making food that I freeze. It can be a whole meal, just the main or just the side dish. Honestly, anything helps.

But deciding what to freeze can be a bit tough because you can’t just freeze everything…some things break down when frozen and some things do not reheat well after being frozen.

So today I am going to help you get clear on what to freeze and what to keep out of the freezer when you are doing meal prep.

There are going to be a handful of key pointers in this blog and you can get even more tips about meal prep in our free Meal Prep Checklist (which you can get HERE. )

So let’s jump right in.

Dairy

Yogurt does not freeze well.

The problem with freezing yogurt is that it becomes watery.

That means that a dip like tzatziki can still be prepped in advance, but it needs to go in the fridge instead of the freezer and be eaten within a few days.

But since yogurt dips are so easy to make you can also just make the dip the day you need it.

Cheese

Freezing cheese works well so feel free to make up a big lasagna and freeze it, no problem

Also, you can save money by buying cheese in bulk and then freezing it. I like to buy big rolls of goat’s cheese and cut them into five portions to freeze. Then I just take out what I need.

And I also like to buy large blocks of mozzarella, shred them in my food processor and then freeze it in separate containers.

Sour Cream

Sour cream is actually the answer to your wish if you plan to make mashed potatoes in advance. If you can get your hands on some high fat sour cream, then you can add that and some butter to your mashed potatoes and they will freeze and thaw well, without becoming watery! (If you follow these instructions and still find them a bit watery, just add a bit more butter and give them a good stir).

 But with that being said, sour cream doesn’t freeze well on it’s own.

Veggies and Fruits

Root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes and beets freeze and reheat well whether they are fresh or cooked. Even roasted cauliflower works!

But veggies that have more tender membranes will not freeze well on their own. For example, zucchini will turn to mush if you freeze it. That means no Stuffed Zucchini Boats or Zucchini Noodles made in advance….

well sort of…

For a dish like that, you would just cook up the ground meat on meal prep day, along with some peppers, onion and garlic and store that in the fridge or freezer until needed. And then, when you are ready to eat that meal, you would cut a section out of the zucchini, stuff it with the meat mixture and bake it! The zucchini never gets frozen but you still have most of the meal prepped in advance.

Cucumbers, celery, spaghetti squash and raw peppers will also loose their pizzaz if you freeze them. But there is an exception…If you have cooked these veggies into a dish, like a soup, stew, casserole or lasagna they will freeze and thaw just fine.

Again, the tip here is to make as much of a dish beforehand as you can and then add these veggies to the plate on the night that you need them.

So, if you were making spaghetti during meal prep, you would prepare the sauce only and just cook the spaghetti squash the day you need it. Of course, you can also cook it during meal prep and refrigerate it until needed if you plan to eat it within a few days.

And as for fruits, you can absolutely do up awesome smoothie bags in advance and freeze them like this one (which is one of my favourites). These are packs that have all of your smoothie ingredients, ready to dump right into the blender with some protein powder and liquid of your choice.

Some fruits and veggies will require blanching first (placin them in boiling water for a few seconds) and others do not.

Here is a great resource on freezing fruits and veggies.

Meat and Poultry

You might be surprised to know that you can cook up chicken, freeze it,  and then thaw and reheat it and it can still taste like you just cooked it.

The trick is to freeze it with a sauce. The sauce will help to keep the meat moist when you reheat it. 

Any soup, stew or casserole that contains meat and that is previously cooked should also reheat well.

I also think that you could get away with freezing cooked steak or roast if you were to freeze it within a sauce like gravy but honestly, if it were up to me, I would just cook steak the day I needed it because it is so quick and easy to do.

For a meal like steak and veggies, I would likely make my side dish or salad on my meal prep day and then just throw the steaks on the grill the night that I was enjoying them. See how easy that sounds?

Fish

I actually used to cook and then freeze salmon. I would cook it up in a maple sauce that it had been marinating in and then I would freeze it…until I realized that the reheating method was pretty much exactly the same as the cooking method so I was basically cooking the fish twice (which just dried it out).

So, now what I do is buy the fish fresh or frozen. If frozen, I leave it frozen. Then I create the marinade which I add to the fresh or frozen fish, in a container and it goes right (back) into the freezer. That way, all I have to do on the day that I want to have salmon is defrost the fish and then bake it right in that great marinade that it has been sitting in for so long.

That method is awesome!

Herbs

Some fresh herbs freeze well so another money saving tip is to keep your heartier fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano in the freezer so that you do not have to buy a new package every time.

Basil is not that hearty but I freeze it all the time and find it tastes great when added to a sauce. Just buy it fresh if you are garnishing with it (like putting it on a salad for example).

Salad

I am pretty sure you know the answer here but just in case…

no, mixed greens and lettuce do not freeze well. Spinach and swiss chard can be frozen but they should be blanched first and they will totally loose their structure (which means they are only good for soups and stews, not salads).

What does this mean? Do not freeze your salads. Just make a salad on meal prep day, leave it undressed and eat it within a few days.

Capiche?

Good to freeze…a few more.

There are some items that are generally great to freeze and reheat.
Casseroles, By Design Quiche, cooked Enchiladas, Lasagna, soup, stew, broth…these are all great in the freezer.

Also, baked goods like grain free muffins and cookies freeze well as do cooked waffles and their batter.

Notes on Freezing

Now, when you do freeze food you want to take a few special precautions:

  • If you are freezing liquid leave a bit of space in your container so that the liquid can expand. Otherwise your dish will crack.
  • On the flipside, do not leave too much air in any container or the food will not stay fresh and may end up freezer burnt. So, if there is a big gap between your food and the top of the container, put a layer of parchment paper, wax paper or plastic wrap over the food and then put the lid on.
  • Do not freeze hot food. This will raise the temperature in your freezer which may compromise other food and it will also allow ice crystals to form in your food.

So there you have it! Please let me know what other questions you have about freezing foods for meal prep by asking in the comment section below!

And don’t forget to grab this freebie! Get your free Meal Prep Checklist HERE. ). We take you through step-by-step all that you need to learn in order to create a smooth meal prep day in your kitchen.