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!

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 sauté 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

How To Become A Morning Person

Morning

Are you the type of person who enjoys waking up early? Do you feel energized and productive in the morning?Or are you a snooze-5-times and don’t-talk-to-me-for-30-minutes type?

If you struggle in the mornings, there are some proven ways on how to become a (happy) morning person.

1. Get Fresh Air:
The famed “breath of fresh air” actually has some science behind it. This study shows that breathing outside air truly does lower cortisol, leaving you feeling more relaxed and calm. While you might argue that one could get fresh air later in the morning, we think that it’s simply the association we make between mornings and feeling calm that makes, this tip a keeper.

2.  Take Your Time:
What’s your favorite thing about sleeping in? It’s that lazy, leisurely feeling, right? Instead of associating early mornings with rushing, leave yourself enough time to move slow. If you can, find a moment to be alone. Sit with your coffee, watch the sunrise, make a healthy breakfast, lay in bed for 10 minutes before getting up, say a prayer, take a warm shower. Even if it means setting your alarm for just a few minutes earlier, those few moments can make early mornings your favorite time of day.

3. Get Some Sun: 
There is something about seeing the sunrise in the morning that makes us feel awake and accomplished.  A study notes that exposure to orange light (like the sun’s) can increase brain activity and boost alertness. When you first wake up, immediately open the blinds or curtains to let any natural light in. Summer is the perfect time to start establishing these early morning habits since it’s bright early. During winter months, try to get outside or to a room where there’s sunlight as the sun rises.

4. Have a detailed plan:
The best thing you can do to inspire you to get up is to know exactly what you’re about to do. As that alarm goes off and your thoughts start to rush in, you’ll be much more likely to hop out of bed if you have something to look forward to. The more specific the better. For example, your plan could look like this: sit up in bed and take 10 breaths, put water on for coffee, open the blinds and splash water on your face before and enjoy coffee for 5 minutes.

5. Workout:
For most non-morning people, it’s hard enough to get up for work, let alone a workout before work. However, if you struggle with mornings, changing your workout routine, might be what helps.  Research shows that those who workout in the morning (vs. evening) are more likely to sleep better and reduce their stress. Once we start to consistently feel better (from all that good sleep and reduced stress!) waking up early and exercising will be a habit worth keeping.

Ready for  a way to do all 5 habits in one easy step? Register for our summer session! You’ll get fresh air, see the sunrise, workout, and have a morning routine you love.

Check out our schedule here.

 

Guide To Sweeteners

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Remember when agave syrup was all the rage? Today, you might be hearing more and more about coconut sugar.  But are these alternatives really healthy choices?  It can be confusing, especially when it comes to baking and cooking at home.

So whether you’re baking a dish for a potluck or your favorite holiday recipe, we’ve listed the pro’s and con’s of common sweeteners. From sweeteners to avoid to the more nutritional choices, we’ll show you how to substitute each of these alternatives in your go-to recipes.

Reduce List: Sucrose / high fructose sweeteners
Refined white sugar: Conventional table sugar, or sucrose, is derived from sugarcane or sugar beet and processed through heat, chemical purification, and bleaching. This type of sugar is highly processed, high glycemic and no nutrients.

Brown sugar: White sugar plus molasses. (We know! We were shocked too.)

Organic sugar: The same as table sugar, but derived from non-GMO beets or sugarcane. While avoiding GMO’s is a plus, organic sugar is nutritionally the same as table sugar.

Agave syrup: Despite it’s claims as healthy alternative to sweeteners due to it’s low glycemic index, agave is on our avoid list. It’s a refined and processed syrup made from cactus with a molecular structure similar to high fructose corn syrup (90% fructose). Cheaper brands and quality may even contain high fructose corn syrup.

Better list: Low / no fructose
Coconut (Palm) sugar: Low on the glycemic index, minimally processed and still contains some nutrients. However, still high in fructose (up to 50%). This is the easiest alternative to white sugar as it doesn’t change the recipes.
-Use  1:1 in recipes that call for regular sugar.

Brown rice syrup: Made by breaking down and cooking rice until it becomes syrup leaving complex carbohydrates, maltose and a small amount of glucose. This makes brown rice syrup popular a low/no fructose option. Although it can be hard to find good quality brands.
-Use 1-1 1/4 cups in place of sugar in recipes and reduce liquid by 1/4 cup.

Honey: Therapeutically used for allergies, honey contains many healing minerals and qualities. Quality is the factor that determines if this sweetener is “healthy” or not. Pure, raw and organic darker honeys have great antioxidant content. Good to sweeten beverages and drizzle onto snacks. But when using for baking, can lose most of it’s nutrients. However, honey is still high fructose at 40%.
-Use 1/2 the amount of honey to sugar in recipes, add 1/2 tsp of baking soda per cup of honey and reduce baking temperature by 25 degrees F.

Maple Syrup: Like honey, this sweetener is high fructose (40%) but it can be argued that it contains a good amount of some vitamins and minerals. Grade B and C contain more nutrients than the more processed and cheaper Grade A. Unless it’s labeled “pure” it may be mixed with corn syrup or other sweeteners. Maple syrup is a good sweetener choice for baking and heating.
– Use 1/2 to 2/3 cups maple syrup for each cup of sugar and reduce liquid by 1/4 cup.

Stevia: Derived from the stevia plant, stevia powder has low/no effect on blood sugar and also no calories making it a good option for those watching their glycemic index or caloric intake. However, like honey, quality is what determines the health factor. Look for pure and organic. Stevia has a distinct taste and is hard to use in baked goods since it’s  300x sweeter than sugar. However, it can be a good tool for those transitioning off of sugar and sweets.
– 1 tsp of finely ground stevia is about equal to 1 cup of sugar. However, stevia isn’t recommended to be subbed for sugar in recipes that don’t call for stevia as the sweetener already.

Best Choice List: Sweet Whole Foods
Bananas /Dates / Fruit: There are many recipes for cookies, brownies, and cakes  that use unrefined whole foods as the main sweetener. While bananas and dates are high in fructose they contain the fiber that slows down the glycemic response, unlike the above condensed sweeteners. They also contain enough nutrients to support their metabolism. Berries are the lowest fructose fruit.

Spices: Sweet spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves can help give the illusion of sweet. Try adding cinnamon to coffee or tea instead of sugars.

Coconut: Coconut has a naturally sweet and nutty taste that can help satisfy a sweet tooth. Try using shredded coconut on top of oatmeal or using coconut oil saute banana slices for a caramelized treat.

Save this guide for the next time you’ll be baking your favorite cookie or dessert. Or even better, try bringing a no sugar option like a berry crisp or fruit salad to your next potluck or party.

Mason Jar Burrito Bowls

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Our last blog post talked all about tips on how to stay healthy despite a busy schedule.

One of the main tools we discussed was setting aside a couple hours on the weekends to prep some healthy meals for the upcoming week.

Today, we want to share a recipe to help get you inspired: Mason Jar Burrito Bowls.

Mason jar salads are the easiest ways to prepare lot’s of food in a quick amount of time. The airtight seal keeps all the ingredients fresh, so that you can make enough to last the whole week.

With these burrito inspired, flavorful and hearty salads, you’ll never have an excuse for take-out lunch again.

Salad Ingredients
Chopped bell pepper
Cooked and cooled quinoa or riced cauliflower
Baked, cooled and cut sweet potato
Baked, cooled and cut organic chicken breast or black beans
Halved cherry tomatoes
Diced avocado
Chopped romaine lettuce

Dressing Ingredients
3 tbs rice vinegar
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 bunch parsley
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp maple syrup
juice of 1 lime
pinch salt

Equipment Needed
4-5 large, wide mouth mason jars

Directions

  1. Prep ingredients and dressing
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of dressing to the bottom of the jar
  3. Then layer in ingredients in the order listed above, starting with crunchy vegetables, followed by grains and proteins, then soft vegetables and lettuce on top
  4. Seal with lid and store in fridge for up to 1 week

Feel free to substitute different vegetables, proteins or greens. You could also take a look at some of these ideas for other flavor combinations.

These salads are also perfect to pack for work, school lunches or travel days.

Make 5-6 with your favorite ingredients and flavors and you’ll be set for a week of healthy, satisfying lunches.

(Photo + Recipe Credit: Momo Wellness)

How To Eat Healthy When Eating Out

We live in one of the best cities….

from our stunning views and parks that make for amazing workouts to …

… our food!  

In fact, San Francisco has officially been called “obsessed” with food.

Unfortunately, eating at food trucks, restaurants and cafes all the time can take a toll on our waistline, fitness goals and general health.

We’ve all been there: restaurant overkill. Maybe you have family or friends visiting and want to show them of your favorite restaurants. Or it’s a busy week at work, so you lean on your comfort takeout a little too much. It doesn’t take long to start to feel the effects.

So what’s a San Francisco foodie to do?

Here’s how to enjoy our city’s’ culinary scene and keep yourself feeling healthy:

Eat takeout and restaurant food in moderation. Make a goal to reduce the number of meals you eat out on a weekly basis. For example, if you often buy lunch out, try to save restaurants for the weekends only. Or if you always pick up breakfast at the cafe, try a 5 day challenge of home-made breakfasts. If you’re looking for easy ideas to cook, try this or this for breakfast or this for dinner.   

At BootCampSF, we don’t do short term diets or harsh restrictions. It really is about what you eat most of the time. So if you can truly minimize your indulgent meals to 1-2 times per week, then you can fully enjoy that Friday Delfina Pizzeria date or Sunday Aziza brunch. 

However, if you’re finding yourself traveling or work or social engagements require you to make dining out more than an occasional treat, here are some tips on how to make the best of it:

1. Start with something green. Ok, this might be old news, but we could all use the reminder. Starting with the salad or vegetable appetizer is always a good idea.

2. Order the simplest dish.  It can be hard to tell what the best choice is…the chicken or the fish dish? Here’s how to choose: pick the dish with the least amount of added ingredients. Anything that’s a protein and couple sides will be a better choice than the chicken or pasta in a 10 ingredient sauce. 

3. Pick your battles: booze vs. dessert. Alcohol and desserts are the two quickest ways to pack on the extra sugar and calories. If you think you’re going to order that second glass of wine, skip the dessert. Or if that chocolate pot de creme is calling your name, share it with a friend and skip the second drink.

Try these three, simple tips next time you’re dining out to help you feel healthy and enjoy your meal.

In the meantime, we challenge you to set a goal to reduce the number of meals you eat out. Set a goal, write it down and hold yourself accountable by telling us in the comments below!

Kale Corn Salad: 2 Ways

I’d like to introduce you to the perfect summer salad.


Really, it’s perfect.

I made this salad 1 year ago for a potluck and my friends are STILL asking me about it.

Great for potlucks, as a side dish to your BBQ, or on top of tacos, this dish also makes great leftovers (perfect for adding eggs to in the morning!)

Originally this recipe (adapted from the Healthy Happy Vegan Cookbook author) is dressed with the sweet miso dressing which compliments the crunchy salad perfectly.  (If you’ve never had miso, it’s a paste made from fermented soybeans. And if you’re thinking “ewwww”,  it’s a traditional Japanese seasoning with a tangy, salty taste and tons of flavor. It’s also quite nutritious!)

However, since not everyone has miso hanging around their fridge, the second way to serve this salad is with the garlicky lemon dressing. Also, a delicious compliment to the sweet corn and vegetables.

Nutritionist’s tip: Bring a salad to the party. Summers are full of parties, BBQ’s and lot’s of social engagements. This means lot’s of eating! If you bring a salad or vegetable as your contribution to the party, you’ll always have a tasty and healthy option to fill your plate. 

Recipe modified from: Healthy Happy Life

Salad Ingredients
2 ears of summer corn, shucked and kernels removed from cob
4-6 cups kale, washed and finely chopped (remove thick stems)
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1 small white or sweet onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped red cabbage

Sweet Miso Dressing
2 Tbs white or yellow miso paste
1 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs Soy sauce or Braggs liquid aminos or Tamari
4 Tbs olive oil
4 Tbs rice vinegar
Black pepper

Garlicky Lemon Dressing
4 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:
1. Prep veggies
2. Mix in a large bowl
3. Whisk all dressing ingredients
4 Stir dressing into salad and let sit in refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving.

Notes:
If you prefer cooked corn to raw, then boil corn before shucking. However, most sweet corn is delicious as is!

Getting Fit and Staying Motivated with Pinterest

Are you on Pinterest? In case you somehow managed to miss the major press this addictive site has been racking-up the basic premise of Pinterest is that it’s a visual way to collect, organize, and share your favorite online content. Each item that you add to your account is known as a “pin” and each of these pins can be easily organized into likeminded collections known as “boards.” I’ve been there since last March but it wasn’t until this past Christmas that it made the transition from occasional check-in to daily must-do. Want more info? Click here for an in-depth tutorial about getting started with Pinterest.

My pinning habits run the gamut from recipes to furnishing my imaginary beach house and even a board dedicated to all things Kate Middleton. It might sound like a silly waste of time initially but honestly until you’ve lost multiple hours of your day going down the Pinterest rabbit hole then you probably won’t understand the hype. I suggest you give it some time, connect to some of your friend’s accounts and see what shakes out. I’m willing to bet you’ll soon find yourself consulting the site the next time you need to make a grocery list, plan a dinner party, or buy a unique gift.

One of the key tenants of Pinterest is also that it serves as a source of inspiration for users. To that end BootCampSF has begun to curate their own boards on the site. If you’re a boot camper then I suspect that fitness and healthy living are important parts of your life, but finding information on these subjects can be time consuming. With Pinterest you can discover oodles of information in one place and easily pick and choose the items that interest you most for later consumption.

Of course, not all information is created equally online. While there are a lot of excellent tips posted on Pinterest you will also inevitably come across unhealthy and downright wacky images and ideas. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is and if an image makes you cringe move on to a better board.

In addition to the BootCampSF account (which is just getting started) you might also find some of the following boards and users great jumping off sources for healthy recipes, workout clothes, and even motivational quotes. Happy pinning!

If you’re already an avid pinned please let us know and leave a url to your profile and/or your own favorite fitness pinners in the comments on this post. We’d love to follow you and hear your recommendations!