Meal Prep Monday
After a long day at work, the thought of waiting to eat for an hour while dinner cooks is exhausting. But, with meal prep, I don't have to. As I've made yoga a deeper part of my life, as with any fitness regimen, it's important to make sure I'm eating in a way which supports my exercise.
I'm not one to spend four hours on a Sunday meal prepping. This seems equally exhausting. Instead, I take small steps to ensure making healthy choices every day is always quickly accessible to me. I usually only spend about an hour on my day off preparing food, and a lot of it, like roasting vegetables, just happens in the background!
The first step is to pick a day where you have free-time. Here are some tips:
Prepare a spread (like hummus, pesto or tahini) that you can use to flavor dishes or as a dip for snacking on veggies
Roast a selection of vegetables you enjoy to make grain bowls, add to pastas or munch on with your spread
Wash and store any fresh veggies (like kale or carrots) - doing this when you're already in work mode from the grocery store is a great way to cut back on time. It's a small step, but having these ready to go makes the idea of getting that salad ready for lunch a much more appealing one.
Prepare a healthy grain like quinoa, lentils or a gluten-free pasta (I love chickpea pasta)
Make a snack, like power-balls!
I've been a vegetarian since I was three, I'll tell you that story later, but if you are a meat-eater, perhaps try prepping a healthy lean meat like chicken or fish.
As you're picking what to prep, think about what's on sale, what pantry staples you may already have, and what dishes you may want to make throughout the week. This can also be a fun way for you to pick a new spread recipe, or try a veggie or dish you've never had before! I like to try at least one new thing a week, and that's how I found my new love -- roasted delicata squash "fries." Seriously, try it.
I only really have three food rules, and none of them involving calorie counting or obsessing about protein intake or macros. I don't think that's what healthy eating means, instead my rules are simple.
Rule number 1: try new foods.
Rule number 2: NUTRIENTS! I add greens in some form or fashion to every meal and am a firm believer that most people's diets don't have enough of these, your skin and body will thank you!
Rule number 3: Drink 3 liters of water a day, again your skin and body will thank you.
When we impose too many limits on ourselves, and restrict, that leads to unhealthy choices in the long-run and eating healthy isn't meant to be convoluted or difficult. Food, at it's most base, is meant to fuel and nourish our bodies.
One of my favorite spreads to make is kale hempseed pesto. Hemp hearts are a wonderful way to work in protein and omega-3s, containing 10 grams of each in a serving. A serving will also give you 20% of your daily intake of iron. They have a slight nuttiness in flavor, and are tasty in smoothies, yogurt or on salads. Add in kale for vitamin K and nutritional yeast for a powerhouse of B vitamins and you've got a nutrient-packed spread! I love to sneak in greens wherever I can, so if you're a fan of a more traditional pesto, try adding some spinach to that, too!
The dish I'm sharing with you today is packed with plant-based protein, nutrients and flavor! The pesto takes less than 5 minutes to make, and I promise you won't even taste the kale.
Kale Hempseed Pesto - makes 1 cup and lasts five days stored in the fridge!
- 1/2 cup hemp hearts (I use Manitoba Harvest)
1 clove garlic
2 cups kale (washed and de-stemmed) - I used baby kale today since I had some in my fridge that needed to get used. This was the first time I'd used baby kale and the texture came out a lot creamier than when I have used curly kale or dinosaur kale in the past, but any kind of kale works fine!
1/4 cup olive oil
OPTIONAL: nutritional yeast to taste to give it a cheesy, nutty flavor
Pulse hemp seeds and garlic in food processor until minced. Add kale and pulse.
Add 1 lemon juiced and 1/4 cup olive oil. Pulse until smooth
Add nutritional yeast and pepper to taste
It's tempting to just eat it by the spoonful, but tonight I'm putting it on top of chickpea pasta, which has 26g of protein per serving, alongside some roasted veggies! Stay tuned next week for my favorite pre-yoga snack in my meal prep queue, and in the meantime, enjoy!