Maintaining a balanced diet is essential for overall health and wellness. Incorporating a variety of nutrient-rich foods into your meal plan can not only support weight loss but also provide your body with the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs to thrive. Here are some nutritious food ideas to work into your meal plans along with a selection of delicious recipes to help you get started:
1. Leafy Greens:
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard, arugula, microgreen, bok choy, beet greens, and collard greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are low in calories and high in water content, making them an excellent ingredient for weight loss meals. We recommend eating at least 2 cups of leafy greens everyday! With that in mind, here are a few recipes that include leafy greens to help you work more of them into your diet:
- Green Smoothie: Blend spinach, kale, a banana, Greek yogurt, and almond milk for a nutrient-rich breakfast.
- Cheesy Spinach Casserole: Sauté eggs, spinach, onions, cottage cheese, and cheddar cheese in an oven baked skillet for a few minutes, then transfer to a 350° F oven to bake uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes.
- Kale Chips: Bake olive oil and salt coated kale in a 350° F oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Lean Proteins:
Include lean protein sources like chicken breast, turkey, fish, eggs, and legumes in your meals to support your bones, muscles, metabolism, and overall wellbeing. According to Harvard the daily, "Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound." In laymen's terms, that's 54 grams of protein for those that weigh 150 pounds. To help put that amount of protein into perspective, a skinless, cooked chicken breast (172 grams) contains 54 grams of protein. So, here are some protein-packed recipes to consider trying this week:
- Egg Bites: Bake eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, and veggies in a 375° F oven in a cupcake pan or silicone egg mold with non-fat cooking spray for 20 minutes. Each egg bite would contain approximately 7 grams of protein.
- Baked Salmon: Bake salmon in a 400° F oven coated in olive oil, garlic, Italian Herb Seasoning, salt, pepper, and lemon juice for 12 to 17 minutes. This recipe calls for 5 oz. salmon fillets, which contains approximately 28 grams of protein.
- Almond Crusted Chicken: Coat chicken breast in ground and crushed almonds and bake in oven at 400°F for about 30 minutes. This recipe would contain approximately 60 grams of protein.
3. Whole Grains:
Choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and whole wheat pasta over refined grains, because they're higher in fiber and nutrients. Just to confirm, whole grains are made from the entire grain, while refined grains are grains that have had some or all of the germ and bran removed from the kernel. We recommend consuming between 3 to 6 ounces of whole grains per day. Here are a few recipes that include whole grains to add to this week's meal plan:
- Toasty Whole Grain Orange Muffins: Bake rolled oats, quinoa, walnuts, flour, orange, eggs, buttermilk, and marmalade together in a muffin tin at 400° F for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Roasted Squash And Vegetable Quinoa: Bake squash in a 400° F for 25 to 30 minutes, then combine with quinoa and other vegetables tossed in a honey, lemon, and oregano dressing.
One-Pot Lentils & Rice with Spinach: Periodically add in to sauté onions, garlic, rice, lentils, and spinach to a pot to cook for a total of 45 - 50 minutes.
Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while providing natural sweetness. Some of the best fruits to work into your diet are blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, oranges, apples, and star fruits. It's recommended to eat 5 portions or 2 cups of fruit per day. Here are some fruit forward recipes to try:
- Berry Smoothie Bowl: Blend strawberries, raspberries, chia seeds, and coconut milk together, then pour it into a bowl and top with dried coconut and granola.
Baked Apples Recipe: Bake cored apple coated in cinnamon, wrapped in foil, in a 350° F for 30 minutes.
- Blueberry Cucumber Salad: Toss almonds, spinach, blueberries, cucumber, green onion, and parmesan in a balsamic vinaigrette.
5. Nuts and Seeds:
Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds, are excellent sources of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. It's recommended to eat an ounce or two per day, which is easy if you just sprinkle a few into salads, sauces, vegetables, or whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa. But, here are some that are really nutty and seedy:
- Nutty Oatmeal: Mix oats, cooked with water in a saucepan, with chopped nuts, seeds, and honey.
- Homemade Trail Mix: Combine a variety of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and tasty treat in a plastic bag or food storage container.
- Nut Roast: Bake a combination of vegetables, spices, breadcrumbs, nuts, and cheese in a 350° F for 50 minutes.
6. Colourful Vegetables:
Eating a variety of colorful vegetables ensures you get a range of nutrients. Some of the best rainbow vegetables to consider are beets, tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower. We recommend eating 2 to 3 cups of colourful vegetables per day! So, here are very veggie based:
- Vegan Veggie Soup & Garlic Bread: Boil and then simmer a variety of vegetables together for approximately 30 minutes.
- Roasted Cauliflower Bowl with Lentils & Sweet Potato: Combine roast cauliflower and sweet potato, with cooked lentils, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cilantro, and tahini.
- Maple Ginger Beet Stir Fry: Sauté onions, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, garlic, ginger, chickpeas, and beets with soy sauce, maple syrup, and five spice.
With those nutritious food and recipe ideas in mind, remember, balance and portion control are key to successful weight loss. Try incorporating these nutritious foods into your meal plan and experimenting with the different recipes to keep your meals exciting and enjoyable.
If you'd like other nutritious food recommendations based on your preferences or allergies, please give our Personal Health Coaching Team a call toll-free at 1-800-852-5401, so they can provide you with personalized recommendations!