Tag Archives: kristin mccaig nutrition

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.

How Do I Treat A Cold Naturally? (Part 1)

This is the first article in a three part series How Do I Treat A Cold Naturally?  I am showing you how you can support your body, naturally, to recovery quickly from common viruses like the cold.

It all started with a sneeze.

It quickly became a runny nose, a sore throat, a headache…and then I just felt like total garbage.

But I don’t take medicine…usually.

I don’t take medicine unless I am in a situation where either my life depends on it or my level of discomfort has surpassed my pain threshold. And my most recent cold did just that…so I was laying wide awake, with dull, aching sinus pain wondering “How do I treat a cold naturally?”

In part one of this series I am going to go over the most important basics of how you can support your body to do it’s thing and get better without medicine. In the second article we are going to discuss how you can support your body with supplements and other natural methods and in the last article we are going to discuss how to decide when it is time to see a doctor.

You are amazing.

The body has an amazing potential to heal itself when it is faced with a common virus like a cold.

Your nose runs because the mucus is trying to trap the virus and bring it out of your body through your nasal passages, and for the same reason you may have diarrhea. Your temperature rises so that the environment is not favourable for the virus or bacteria to replicate.

And that is why turning to medicine to increase your general comfort, in this case by decreasing your mucus production or lowering your fever, does not sound like a good plan.

You need to understand that sometimes when you medicate your body, you are basically tying your immune system’s hands behind its back so that it cannot use its natural defences to deal with the virus.

*Caveat: in the case of serious illness sometimes it necessary to use medicine so that your body can heal…here, were are talking about common viruses and healthy people.

Let’s go through some tips on how you can make yourself more comfortable and support your body through the process of dealing with a virus, without trying to medicate the symptoms away and lowering your natural defences.

1. Avoid processed sugar.

Step one is to remove all processed sugar from your diet.

Sugar can suppress your immune system and make you more susceptible to infectious disease.

Fruit sugar is different because fruits contain water, nutrients and fibre, all of which are valuable players in the healing game.

2. Listen to your appetite.

If you are hungry, eat. If you are not hungry, don’t eat.

Science does not definitively support the ideas that you should either feed a cold or starve a fever.

We know that in some studies, moderate calorie restriction (eating a bit less than usual) improved cell-mediated immunity (your good cells eating up the bad cells). But other studies show that periods of low food intake lower our body’s defence of specific pathogens (not eating enough made people more likely to get sick).

So I recommend that you listen to your appetite.

Eat home-cooked goodness.

It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that when you are sick, it is time to make wise food decisions. Get your hands on good, homemade, nourishing food.

Ask a friend or family for help (you can pay them back later) or go pick up some pre-made meals from a grocery store that serves healthy options (Farm Boy or Whole Foods are two examples). You can also order meals from a personal chef service just to get you through.

Dairy

Dairy is known to create more mucus for many people so I generally recommend that you avoid it however, if yogurt truly is the only thing you can think about holding down and you really are feeling hungry, go for it.

In our house, popular “sick foods” are applesauce and white rice.

Although the rice does not really offer any nutrients, it is easily digested and can often give you that little bit of energy you need to make it through until you are feeling a bit better and can tolerate something nutritious.

3. Keep hydrated.

You need to get fluids when you are sick.

Your runny nose, increased rate of breathing, elevated temperature, diarrhea and vomiting are all taking water out of your body. And you know how important water is right? (On average your body is made up of sixty percent water).

So keep a glass of water by your bedside at all times. And sip on it regularly.

You can also get some fluids by drinking herbal tea, which is soothing. I would avoid caffeine right now because you need to sleep.

But my absolute favourite way of getting fluids into your body when you are sick, aside from water, is to drink homemade bone broth. This can be made at home easily (here is my recipe) or purchased in the freezer section of a health food store.

Broth has nutrients to support your body, it is easily digested, it is comforting and it may just be the perfect thing to satisfy your mild hunger and give you some energy. So keep some broth in your freezer for times like this and just warm it up by the cup full when you are feeling sick.

6. Rest

I hate to break it to you but the likelihood that you are under the weather because you are overworked, under-slept and stressed out is pretty high.

Did you know that when you are taking excellent care of your body you are less likely to get sick?

Yes! You are around different viruses and bacteria every day but you only express symptoms from them on occasion (hopefully). And that is highly dependent on how well you are taking care of yourself in terms of food, sleep, exercise and stress.

So the message that your body is sending you is “It’s time to get some rest.”

This means real, legitimate rest. Like sleeping…for hours.

For children especially, the stimulation of video games and television may even be too much. And it certainly is going to interfere with their ability to sleep, so I recommend avoiding it altogether.

And for adults, this is probably not the time to feel bad about missing the gym. You need to let your cells use as much energy as possible to heal your body.

As a caveat, if you are “just a little bit sick” and feel up to the gym, go for it!

Recap

Your body has an amazing ability to deal with viruses on its own with little intervention from our over-thinking human brains. However, you have to be willing to let your body go through the process the best way it knows how, without getting in the way.

So here’s how to let that happen. As soon as you feel like you are coming down with something:

  1. Avoid processed sugar.
  2. Listen to your appetite and eat healthy food.
  3. Stay hydrated.
  4. Rest.

If you are really down and out, go to your room with a glass of water or cup of broth. Get under the covers. Go to sleep.

Look out next week for Part 2 in this series. We will be looking at Supportive Supplements that you can take when you are “treating” a cold naturally.

Want some easy meal prep ideas? Get my FREE “4 Easy Meal Prep Ideas” download that includes four of my favorite things to prep in advance so that there is always food ready…and the recipes are included. You can get that 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.