Meal Plan Like A Pro

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What do you think of when you hear the phrase “meal plan”?

Is it a stack of plastic Tupperware filled with identical meals of chicken and sweet potato? Is it a tattered page out of your notebook with words like “salad” or “oatmeal” on repeat? Is a confusing app on your phone that you downloaded but never use?

Does the whole idea of meal planning make you feel a little bored?

We so get that.

At BCSF, meal planning isn’t a diet scheme or an unbendable set of rules. Rather, it’s a constructive tool to help design a healthy diet. It’s a system put in place to make healthy choices, save time in the kitchen, spend less money at the store and reduce waste.

So, you’re on board?

Great!

Now, let’s make you a pro.

Here are 5 steps to plan your meals like a nutritionist:

#1 Start with dinners: Dinners are the easiest meal to plan in advance. We usually know our favorite go-to meals and are more likely to have the time to cook at home.

Turn it pro: Plan your dinners for making lunch leftovers. All of the dinners you make, make enough for leftovers for lunch the next day. Dishes like soups and stews are easy choices. But even dinners like fish and vegetables can be doubled up too. If you can get in the habit of cooking once and eating twice, you’ll never be tempted by  greasy takeout for lunch again.

#2 Modify recipes: It’s easy to lose interest in meal planning when you feel the pressure to only plan your healthiest meals. I don’t know anyone who wants to eat a salad 3 meals a day. Instead, try to include some of your favorite dishes, but with healthier substitutions. Try zucchini noodles with your favorite pasta sauce, wrap your favorite enchilada ingredients in a collard wrap instead of a tortilla, try a socca pizza crust for your family pizza night. Get creative and choose foods you enjoy.

Turn it pro: You’ve probably heard that you should always “make ½ you plate veggies”. But that can be a hard goal to wrap our heads around. Try re-framing that statement to “make ½ your recipes veggies”. Adding in extra vegetables and leafy greens to your go-to recipes is an easy way to sneak in those daily servings of vegetables.

#3 Don’t forget your PFC!  A balanced diet is made up of proteins, fats and carbohydrates (PFC). While the amount of each of these can change from person to person, we all need all 3 everyday…every meal and every snack.

Turn it pro: If your meal is missing a healthy fat, some go-to favorites are avocado, olives, chia seeds and olive oil! Keep your pantry stocked with these staples and use them to balance your meals and snacks

#4 Plan for snacks: We’ve all been there. It’s in-between meals, you’re starving…so you reach for that pastry or sweet just because it’s what’s around. Instead, plan to have 1-2 different choices for snacks per week, so you don’t have to turn to whatever’s convenient.

Turn it pro: Always have one savory snack and one sweet snack on hand to satisfy your cravings (extra points if you make your snacks meet the PFC rule too!)

#5 Add a to-do: Putting it on paper is one thing, it’s a whole separate task to make it happen. At the bottom of your planner or on a separate piece of paper, make a list of everything that you need to do to in advance to prep your snacks and meals. Do you need to set aside a couple hours on Sunday to batch cook? Do you need to chop vegetables for Wednesday dinner that morning since you get home late that day?

Remember: meal planning doesn’t have to feel like a drag. Be flexible about it. At the end of the day eating a healthy meal is something we will never regret.

Now it’s your turn. We challenge you to take the next 5-10 minutes to jot down your meal plan for the next 5 days. 

P.S. We’re in love with this meal planning notepad!

Healthy Dinner’s Your Kids Will Love

 

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One of the more common challenges we hear about when trying to eat well is managing picky eaters. It can be difficult when you’re trying to stick to your healthy foods, but all your kids will eat is warm, buttery pasta.

Instead of trying to either make two meals (salmon and Brussels for you, pasta for the kids) or only eating what your kids will eat (frozen pizza for all), try meeting in the middle. With these healthy, yet kid friendly recipes, you can enjoy dinner as a family.

Here are our top 10 family friendly dinner recipes:

  1. The Ultimate Better-For-You Butternut Squash Mac N’ Cheese: Skip the butter and orange powder in this plant based comfort food dish you kids will love. Pair with a veggie or salad and a protein like roast chicken for a complete meal.
  2. Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup: Top this slow cooker recipe with a dollop of Greek yogurt and avocado and you’ve got  hearty dish you can all enjoy.
  3. Turkey Sloppy Joes Over Zucchini Noodles: A healthier take on spaghetti and meatballs for the pasta lovers in your family.
  4. Breakfast For Dinner: While you can do breakfast for dinner 100 different ways, we love these eggs fried in a bell pepper for a fun shape you kids will adore.
  5. Mini Meatloaves: Mini anything and your young ones will be requesting seconds. We love this recipe with simple, whole food ingredients.
  6. DIY Burrito Bowls: Meals that allow for customization without extra prep work mean everyone can “have it their way”.
  7. Baked Paleo Chicken Tenders: This version of a kid favorite uses almond flour and coconut for a more sophisticated take on chicken fingers. Pair with a veggie and salad and dinner is complete.
  8. Pesto Spaghetti Squash Pasta: You can hide greens and veggies in a pesto sauce and call spaghetti squash “pasta” and no one will complain about a plateful of vegetables.
  9. Sweet Potato Pasta with Almond Butter Sauce:  All the noodle-y goodness of a bowl of pasta without skimping on the vegetables.
  10. Coconut Red Lentil Peanut Soup: Sweet and warming, kids and adults alike will love this recipe.

What are your favorite, healthy family meals? We’d love to hear! Head on over to Facebook and let us know.

Healthy Holiday Cookie Roundup

Holiday Cookies

Office party cookie exchange? Kids’ gingerbread decorating party? In-laws holiday dinner? Chances are you’re going to be making a batch of cookies at least once this season. Instead of dusting off The Joy of Baking Cookbook for a dated chocolate chip cookie recipe, why don’t you try one of these festive and healthy recipes?

We’ve pulled from our favorite bloggers and recipe creators for our top 15 healthy holiday cookie roundup.

Short on time? Here’s 5 easy, no bake options: 

  1. No Bake Pecan Snowballs (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): With only 7 whole food ingredients and 2 steps, these festive cookies make the top of our list.
  2. Dark Chocolate Truffles (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Roll these superfood packed bites into matcha powder and pulverised dehydrated raspberries for red and green truffles that no one will know are healthy.
  3. Gingerbread Bites (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Easy almond gingerbread bites were our holiday cookie feature last year. Check ’em out.
  4. Chocolate Bark (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Homemade chocolate made with just a few simple ingredients and topped with any toppings you like would make a great dinner party dessert or host gift.
  5. Raw Double Chocolate Macaroons (Paleo, Vegan, Raw): Shredded coconut sweetened with dates and dipped in homemade chocolate. Need we say more? (You could easily, skip the chocolate coating to save time and ingredients).

Looking for a healthy takes on holiday classics? Here you go:

  1.  Gingerbread Cookies (Vegan, Paleo): Using almond flour and maple syrup, these are a healthier alternative to the holiday classic (especially with this coconut sugar frosting).
  2. Sugar Cookies with Naturally Colored Frosting (Vegan): Subbing coconut oil for butter and dehydrated raspberries to make red frosting, make this recipe is a winner.
  3. Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies (Vegan, Paleo): Take the extra step to sub the filling with this 5 minute chia jam and you’ll wow all your friends.
  4. Magic Bars (Vegan, Paleo): A cookie exchange favorite with squeaky clean ingredients…these are a must.
  5. Peppermint Fudge (Vegan, Paleo): 4 ingredient peppermint fudge made with coconut butter. Check out the recipes link to easy DIY coconut butter.

Feel like trying something new? Check out these creative recipes:

  1. Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chunk Almond Meal Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free): This recipe has us drooling by adding eggnog to the batter. And with only 1/4 cup sugar for the entire recipe, we can’t wait to try.
  2. Secret Ingredient Blondies (Vegan, Gluten Free): These are so good, we promise you’ll never notice the healthy secret ingredient.
  3. Peppermint Brownies (Vegan, Gluten Free): We couldn’t resist throwing in these peppermint black bean brownies too!
  4. Pistachio Crusted Chewy Chocolate Chip Cranberry Cookies (Vegan, Gluten Free): One of the prettiest and healthy recipes we could find!
  5. Cranberry Chocolate Chia Cookies (Vegan, Paleo): With an ingredient list that you could eat for breakfast, these holiday cookies are a great healthy alternative.

Chicken Zoodle Soup

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Comforting and healthy. Makeover your homemade chicken noodle soup recipe with these 3 simple swaps for an upgraded version of this classic, cozy meal.

  1. Swap zucchini noodles (a.k.a zoodles) for traditional pasta noodles. Replacing flour noodles with a vegetables makes a lower calorie, nutrient packed bowl of soup. We suggest this spiralizer to turn everything from zucchini to sweet potato into noodles. You could easily use parsnip or turnip noodles in this recipe too.
  2. Swap homemade bone broth for store bought.  Traditionally, chicken soup is made with bone broth. (Bone broth is made from simmering bones in water for a long period of time until a broth has formed). This broth is higher in protein, beneficial collagen and lower in sodium than any store bought variety. Read more about how bone broth has been shown to inhibit infection, promote strong bones and fight inflammation. If you’re new to making bone broth, try using a crock pot and following these tips from Bon Appetit. The easiest way to make homemade chicken broth is to use the leftovers from a whole roast chicken (that way you don’t have to pre roast the bones).
  3. Add herbs and aromatics. A squeeze of lemon or garnish of fresh basil can turn a simple recipe into a bright and flavorful soup. Most herbs, spices and aromatics are packed with vitamins and minerals. Adding them to your cooking improves both flavor and nutrition.

Ingredients
2 organic chicken breasts (or about 3 cups shredded chicken)
2 tablespoons organic butter (or sub olive oil)
1 tsp herbs de provence
1/2 onion
3 carrots
2 cloves garlic
4 cups homemade chicken bone broth
1 cup frozen peas
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 zucchini

Instructions
  1. Chop onions, carrots and garlic
  2. Heat pan and melt butter in large soup pot or dutch oven.
  3. Saute onions, carrots until onions are clear, then add garlic and herbs and sautĂŠ until fragrant (few minutes)
  4. Add broth and chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through. (If using chicken that’s already cooked and shredded, add to pot and skip to step 6)
  5. Remove chicken and shred with a fork.
  6. Add peas. Simmer until soft (5 minutes)
  7. Meanwhile, use a spirlizer to make the zucchini noodles
  8. Add shredded chicken and zucchini noodles
  9. Let simmer for 10 more minutes
  10. Add lemon juice, zest
  11. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh herbs

Recipe and photo: momowellness.com

5 Tips for a Healthy Halloween

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Whether you’re under 10 years old or over 30, Halloween = candy overload.

I mean, who can resist that pillowcase full of bite sized butterfingers?

Instead of  feeling like the holiday got the best of you, we’ve got some tips to help you (and your kids) avoid the Halloween sugar hangover.

  1. Make a festive meal: Instead of sweets being the center of attention, get festive with savory foods. A healthy meal before trick-or-treating can make a big difference in late night snacking. Here are some ideas:

2. Try a candy inspired smoothie: Blend up one of these nutrient packed smoothie for an afternoon snack. With recipes like peanut butter cup, caramel apple and almond joy, they’re sure to leave your cravings feeling satisfied.

3. Make a splurge plan: If you know the Reese’s will be calling your name, make an agreement with yourself to only have a set amount. Be specific. When you know you only get 1 or two, you’ll enjoy it more and set yourself up to avoid binging. Before Halloween night, it’s also smart to set up expectations with your kids too.

4. Try this sugar hangover meal: protein + healthy fat + probiotics + water. Excess sugar can throw off our hunger/fullness signals and we can often end up with intense cravings. Eat a balanced, protein rich meal with a healthy fat to get your metabolism back on track. Refined sugar can also mess with your gut bacteria, so including a probiotic rich food like kefir, yogurt  or sauerkraut is a bonus. Example breakfast post Halloween: egg and vegetable scramble with avocado and sauerkraut or Greek yogurt and berries.

5. Stock up on the health(ier) stuff. For kids, Thrive market is a great online resource for stocking up on additive-free candies and treats. For the adults, choose dark chocolate or these better choices when it comes to the sweet stuff.

Mix-N-Match Stuffed Roasted Squash

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Are more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cook?

Us too.

That’s why we love this mix-n-match guide for making stuffed winter squash.

A hearty and healthy meal you can adapt to whatever you have on hand.

Here’s how it works:

Base Ingredients

  • 1 squash (acorn, kabocha, butternut, delicata)
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 cups of filling per squash (depending on size)

Filling

  • 1/2 – 1 cup protein – sausage, chicken, pork, tempeh, tofu or beans
  • 1/2 – 1 cup vegetables – onions, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, greens
  • 1/2 – 1 cup cooked grains – quinoa, rice, farro
  • Herbs and/or spices
  • Optional: nuts/seeds – walnuts, almonds
  • Optional: shredded cheese for topping
  1. Preheat: Oven to 375
  2. Prep the squash: Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds
  3. Bake Squash: Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and add about 1/4 inch water. Cover the dish with foil and bake until a knife easily slices through (anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes)
  4. Prep filling: While the squash is roasting, prepare any filling ingredients (cook meats or veggies fully) Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season with spices and herbs.
  5. Stuff the squash halves: Rub inside of cooked squash with a little olive oil and pack with stuffing ingredients. Top with shredded cheese if using.
  6. Bake again: Re-cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until tops are crispy and/or cheese is melted.

Here are some ways you could mix-n-match:

  1. Sausage + mushrooms + onions + kale + farro + sage + walnuts
  2. Chicken + bell peppers + black beans + chili powder + pepper jack cheese
  3. Turkey + onions + thyme + dried cranberries + parmesan cheese
  4. Tofu + mushrooms + spinach + garlic + scallions

Not sold on the mix-n-match idea? Here are 5 recipes to get you inspired:

  1. Sausage Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
  2. Chipotle Chicken Stuffed Acorn Squash
  3. Beef, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Butternut Squash  (paleo)
  4. Stuffed Butternut Squash with Quinoa (vegetarian)
  5. Wild Rice stuffed Butternut squash (vegan / vegetarian) *pictured above

This post was inspired by the Kitchn’s How to Make Stuffed Roasted Squash

Salted Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Banana Ice Cream

Ice cream lovers, listen up! If you haven’t tried banana “nice cream” yet, get ready because your dessert world is about to be rocked.

By simply freezing bananas in small slices and blending, you get a rich, creamy and sweet mock “ice cream” made from only bananas. One try and you’ll be impressed with how similar the sweetness and texture are to real ice cream.

All you need is ripe bananas that you chop into small pieces and freeze and a powerful blender or food processor.

Try out our recipe for salted banana peanut butter with chocolate sauce or experiment with adding your own flavors. (Like mint, chocolate chips, strawberry or cocoa powder)

If you’re looking for a cold treat to quench your sweet tooth craving this summer, this healthy alternative will be your new favorite.

Salted Banana Peanut Butter with Chocolate Sauce (serves 2)

3 Ripe bananas frozen in very thin slices
2 Tbs. Organic unsalted peanut butter (no additives)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 Tbs. coconut oil
2oz. quality dark chocolate (70% or higher) Or 2 Tbs. Cocoa powder

Instructions
  1. Blend frozen banana slices and peanut butter in a blender or a food processor on lowest setting until creamy, adding salt to taste (if not blending well, wait a couple minutes to let them defrost a little and they will blend better. I like to leave a few chunks too. You could also add a Tbs. of non dairy milk.)
  2. In a double boiler (or carefully with a small pot or in micorwave) slowly melt coconut oil and chocolate
  3. Scoop ice cream into serving bowls and pour chocolate sauce on top
  4. Top with chopped nuts, extra chocolate, shredded coconut or toppings of choice

Fresh Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls

Homemade fresh rolls are an excellent no-cook recipe for summer nights. They’re easy enough to make during the week, but impressive enough to serve for a dinner party. Add a hearty sauce and pre-cooked protein to make them a meal, or leave simple for a healthy appetizer.

We love this mix-n-match recipe for being adaptable and veggie-packed. The only prep is chopping the vegetables. Ideally, they would all be julienned into matchsticks like the pros. Or you could do like us, and just cut vegetables into small-ish strips and call it good.

Ready? Here’s what you’ll need:

INGREDIENTS
1. Rice paper wrappers
2. Sauce (see recipe below)
3. Filling Ingredients (mix-n-match from below)

DIRECTIONS
1. Prepare all filling ingredients (if adding noodles, make sure they’re cool)
2. Make dressing
3. Fill a shallow pan or cookie sheet with warm water
4. Place one rice paper sheet in pan and let “cook” for about 20-30 seconds
5. Remove from pan, let drip dry and fill with ingredients of choice.
6. Spoon sauce inside and roll like a burrito. Set aside and repeat.
Note: you can make these in advance for dinner guests or let everyone make their own for a fun dinner party idea or hands on meal with the kids.

3-4 Vegetables, julienned
Carrots
Cucumber
Bell Pepper
Cabbage
Butter lettuce or romaine

1-2 Fruits, chopped small
Avocado
Mango

1-2 Herbs, minced
Mint
Cilantro
Parsley

1 Protein
Cooked, shredded chicken
Sliced, Tofu or tempeh
Cooked shrimp

Other Additions
Mung Bean Sprouts
Rice Noodles or soba noodles

Dipping sauce Recipe
3/4 cup nut butter (almond, peanut or cashew)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup reduced sodium tamari (you could also sub coconut aminos or soy sauce)
2 Tbs. Honey
1/2 Tsp. ground ginger
1 clove garlic

Blend all ingredients until creamy.

We hope you enjoy this healthy summer recipe!

(Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet)

10 Healthy 4th of July Recipes

4th of July

Whether your plans for the 4th of July are swimming in the sun or celebrating in the San Francisco fog, you’ll definitely be enjoying some summer food. Substitute the burgers and potato salad for these mouth watering recipes and make your party the healthiest one on the block.

Appetizers

Tomato Basil and Peach Skewers (pictured above):  Adding peaches to tomatoes, mozzarella and basil will make an impressive, sweet and savory appetizer.

Avocado, Black Bean and Corn Salad: You can’t go wrong with these 3 ingredients. Dress with plenty of cumin and citrus and you have an easy, versatile dish to serve with chips, on top of tacos or as a side salad.

Watermelon Feta and Mint Bites: Simple and easy to make (only 3 ingredients). Plus, nothing says summer like watermelon and mint.

Sides

Napa Cabbage and Kale Coleslaw: While coleslaw is usually one of the only vegetable sides to a traditional BBQ, it’s usually more mayonnaise than veggies. Instead, substitute a lighter (but still creamy) miso dressing and add in lot’s of leafy greens.

Fresh Herb Potato Salad: This recipe from Thug Kitchen uses fresh herbs and a flavorful vinaigrette for a fresh take on traditional potato salad.  As they say on their site “nobody needs mayo in their life”.

Entrees

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers: Easy to throw these on the grill with your meaty burgers for a hearty vegetarian option without extra fuss. This recipe also includes an avocado chimichurri recipe worth making.

Grilled Fish in Foil: Cooking for only a few? These 20 minute grilled fish would be great for 4-6 people. Easy to clean up and unlike a heavy burger will leave you with room for dessert. These also work in the oven.

Grillable Veggie Burger: The problem with most veggie burgers is that they don’t hold up on the grill, right? Wrong! Minimalist Baker has a solution with a grill worthy vegetable burger made with only 10 ingredients.

Dessert

Grilled Fruit: Try pineapple, peaches and even watermelon on the grill for a low calorie and festive dessert option that will please kids and adults, alike.

No Churn Peach Sorbet: As easy as making a smoothie. Just blend and freeze and you’ll have homemade peach sorbet.

Bring one of these recipes to your summer potluck or party and impress your friends with your healthy taste. You can even take all the credit for it, we won’t tell!

Easy Homemade Falafel

Falafel Pita

If you’re looking for something new to add to your weeknight dinner rotation, we have your perfect recipe adapted from the minimalist baker (one of our favorite resources for simple, easy meals)

These homemade falafels are…

Easy and quick to make
Kid friendly
Great for a meatless Monday meal
Full of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates
A great way to add in new flavors and spices
Made from pantry staples (canned chickpeas, onion, garlic, spices and herbs)

This is a fantastic recipe for a quick 20-minute weeknight meal. You might just need to try it tonight…

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup herbs (parsley and/or cilantro)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin
Optional: cardamom and/or coriander to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, optional (if you omit, add in 2 Tbs. Tahini instead to help bind)
Oil to pan fry (we like avocado oil for this!)

Directions
Add onion, garlic, herbs and spices to food processor.
Pulse until chopped
Then add drained chickpeas (and flour and baking powder if using) and pulse until chunky mixture has formed (don’t over blend!)
(OPTIONAL STEP: refrigerating for 1 hour before cooking will help them bind)
Scoop out about 2 Tbs. at a time to form 8-12 small disks about 1/2 inch thick
Heat oil in a large pan on stove over medium heat
When oil is hot drop in patties and cook 4-5 minutes per side
Serve warm (ideas below) or store in fridge for up to 5 days

Serving Ideas
On top of a salad with tomatoes, cucumber, olives and tzatziki (recipe below)
In a whole wheat pita with lettuce, sliced cucumber, onions and tomato and tzatziki

5 Ingredient Tzatziki
(Mix all these ingredients in a small bowl and store in fridge for up to 1 week)
1 cup greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp dill
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
Salt and pepper

This falafel recipe was adapted from the Minimalist Baker and The Kitchn
Image from Minimalist Baker