The Simple Meals I Eat to Automate a Healthy Lifestyle

At first, when I got into fitness seriously, I thought I wanted to be a real part of that really intense FITNESS community. You know. The ones who are always posting inspirational meals/workouts/etc. and are going to the Arnold conventions. The ones who dedicate their Instagrams to FITNESS 24/7. I even thought I may want to compete at one point.

Let me get this straight- there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those things. I’m friends with people who are in that community. But over time, for myself personally– making FITNESS become this big, bold thing in my life and main focus- it just didn’t become that appealing anymore.

Similar to the realization I had when I realized that only focusing ONLY on acting wasn’t going to make me happy, a few years after I graduated college with my B.F.A in Theatre Performance. Now- I still act! But I don’t base my self-worth on whether I’m cast or not like I used to. Just like I still work out and eat healthy- but I don’t base my self-worth or value in the fitness world whether I have a 6 pack at all times or not.

Maybe it’s because I’ve automated a lot of my lifestyle in such a way that makes it easy to maintain by this point. I don’t “meal prep-” but I always have guidelines for my meals. (Focused on a protein source, veggie, healthy fat, limiting carbs appropriately). But then- I’ll eat meals that don’t follow those guidelines sometimes and not feel guilty about it at all. I also don’t obsess about eating 100% “clean” and freak out if I have a condiment or add cheese or whatever. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things!

I follow a scheduled workout routine, but if I miss a day, or spend 3 days straight on my feet at a music festival so I end up skipping my next 2 workouts- I don’t stress out about missing my workouts. I just get right back to them when my body feels good enough to. I also sometimes skip my scheduled lifting routine for a challenging hike. And I don’t push myself to lift AS HEAVY AS POSSIBLE every workout- but I listen to my body more. Feels better that way for me right now.

Sometimes the view at the top of a mountain is just a better view than than the dingy gym mirror- you feel?

Sometimes the view at the top of a mountain is just a better view than than the dingy gym mirror- you feel?

I’ve found that finding the key things that allow me to maintain my health and physique and not obsessing over hardcore FITNESS feels good because I can focus on other aspects and parts of my life that I am also passionate about! I’m finding for myself- it’s important to not let one aspect of life overpower anything. Because when I do, I tend to neglect other things important to me. It’s just the type of person I am, and it’s not for everyone, and that’s ok!

I honestly find myself not wanting to think about my workouts as much outside of when I’m actually working out. I just want to get in, do my thing and get out. I don’t spend as much time researching perfect “fit” foods, I just experiment in the kitchen with flavors, keeping in my mind certain guidelines that are now just habitual.

So while “automating” my fitness lifestyle I’ve found certain foods that really help me reach my goals and without thinking too much about it. Since lately I’ve had people ask me what kinds of things I tend to eat, I wanted to share some of my food basics with you guys so that it may help you out when building your meals!

You’ll notice most of these are lower carb. Since we do go out to eat a couple times a week (where carbs aren’t watched as closely) I tend to keep the meals at home of the lower carb variety. If that’s not your thing- just add some baked sweet potato, Ezekiel bread, etc. to the meal.

Breakfast Staples:

Breakfast Sandwich using Applegate Chicken Sausage, Thomas Double Protein English Muffins, an egg over-easy, and a little shredded cheese.
3 eggs scrambled mixed with peppers/onions, salsa, and 1/2 avocado. Side of fruit.
-Smoothie with 1 banana, ice, 1 tbs. PB, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 handful spinach, 1 handful berries, a little stevia
2 eggs over-easy topped with a little cheese, avocado, salsa with some fruit/veggies on the side
Breakfast Hash– shred 1/2 sweet potato and brown in pan with crumbled breakfast sausage/ground beef/turkey (I use leftover meat for this) or even natural deli meat shredded up. Stir in a little diced onion and pepper. At the very end of the cooking process, crack an egg in the mix until it’s cooked (but yolk is still runny.) Serve with a little ketchup or even barbecue sauce!

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The mother of all breakfast sandwiches.

Lunch Staples:

-(Usually a left-over from a previous dinner, honestly.)
Cheeseburger Scramble: brown some natural ground beef in a pan and add some chopped onions, stir till cooked. Add a little salt/pepper. Serve immediately and add a little shredded cheese, then stir in some lettuce/chopped pickles and top with your favorite condiments ( I use ketchup + mustard.) This sounds kind of weird but it’s SO GOOD.
Turkey Scramble: Basically just cook some ground turkey in a pan with another veggie. I like to use a bag of broccoli slaw as it stays nice and crunchy. You can go a couple ways- if you want a more spicy/Mexican flair, use cumin/chili powder to season. For an asian flair, throw a little soy sauce or red chili sauce.
Salad: I like to buy those pre-made salad kits at Kroger (Southwest is my favorite!) and use whatever meat I have on hand with it. Easy peasy.

BIG OLE' Salad.

BIG OLE’ Salad.

Dinner Staples:

Crockpot Chicken Tacos: Simply throw chicken breasts and chopped onion/green pepper in a crockpot with 1 jar of salsa and either 1 packet of low-sodium taco seasoning -or- 1 tbs. chili powder, 1 tbs. cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 4 hours on high and you’re left with delicious chicken you can use to make tacos with, or even put on a taco salad.
-Fresh Herbed Fish/Carrots: I have a sage/thyme herb plant, so I like chop about 1 tbs. of each herb with fresh garlic and marinate fish in it with some lemon juice+ olive oil (salmon is my favorite) then bake it. I like to serve this with carrots either roasted in the oven with the same herbs/garlic/oil mix (but no lemon) or I sauté them in a pan. Either way- they are delicious! Carrots are definitely an underrated veggie. But I recommend using the large ones- not baby carrots in a bag.
-I’ll often use one of the scrambles in the “Lunch” section for dinner, too.
Greek Chicken: Marinate chicken pieces in a mixture including Greek yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and thyme. Simply grill or bake and serve with your favorite veggie- something simple like steamed broccoli.
Fajitas: Cook sliced chicken or steak in a pan with sliced onions/peppers. I honestly use jarred salsa as the main seasoning in this (makes it easy, too!) and add some extra chili powder/cumin. Serve in tortillas and top with avocado.
Homemade Chicken Nuggets: I’ll cut chicken into small pieces, and coat with egg, then a light coating of flour. (If you want to be a purist you can use oat flour.) Saute in a pan with olive oil. Serve with your favorite veggie.

Snack Staples:

-I generally keep a big bowl in the kitchen full of protein bars, nuts, and fruit to always have something to grab on hand.
-My favorite protein bars are Quest bars (though I tend to not buy them as much as I don’t want to buy a case at a time..hah!), Power Crunch bars, Simple Truth protein bars, and Clif Builders Bars.
-Greek yogurt
-Protein Shake
-Mini-peppers and hummus
-Arden’s Garden greens juices

While this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, it’s literally the majority of what my husband and I have been eating lately. No- it’s not 100% “clean.” No, I don’t keep track of the macros and calories on all of this. (Here’s why.)

But it’s a diet that fuels us in the gym and for life, that keeps us generally lean and feeling good! So hopefully it may spark some ideas for you!

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Pinterest Friday: Healthy, Delicious Recipes!

Have ya’ll ever been to Foodgawker.com? If not- first of all, STOP reading this post and head there IMMEDIATELY.  If you love beautiful food, you can spend hours scrolling through impeccably photographed, tasty treats. I generally pin them to my Pinterest board, as I love the combination of gorgeous aesthetics and meal ideas together and it gets them all in one place. My food inspiration starts at Foodgawker a lot of the time!

So today I’m going to share some of my favorites with you. Most of these follow my general nutritional guidelines (high protein, lots of veggies, lower carb, healthy fats- Precision Nutrition style) and a few healthier desserts thrown in, too 🙂 The majority of these recipes would fall under the labels of “clean eating,” “paleo” or “low carb,” but I didn’t hold them to any strict nutritional barometer necessarily. I just enjoy eating nourishing foods that aren’t terribly carb heavy overall.

When I’m at home, I like to cook pretty on-target to my nutritional guidelines- so that I can enjoy “cheat” meals when I’m out with friends or in social situations. However I don’t really call it a “cheat”- I just call it moderation and eating mindfully. I don’t restrict myself of anything, so I end up not going all out “CRAZY” when I do. I just enjoy myself when I feel like I want to, then rein it in at home.  (You can read more on my general nutrition philosophies here if you’re interested. I also recommend checking out Jill Coleman at JillFit Physiques– she’s like the mindful eating goddess and has excellent advice on her site and all of her social media accounts. I particularly enjoy her newsletter!)

Enjoy! And my apologies if this post makes you hungry.

Click the photos for recipes:

from BonAppetit.com

Ranchero Breakfast Tostadas- BonAppetit.com

 

Power Salad by Two Peas and their Pod

Power Salad by Two Peas and their Pod

 

Jerk Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple Salsa from Closet Cooking.com

Jerk Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple Salsa from Closet Cooking.com

Herb and Citrus Roasted Chicken from The Comfort of Cooking

Herb and Citrus Roasted Chicken from The Comfort of Cooking

8 Beet, Tangerine and Blood Orange Salad with Goat Cheese, Pomegranate Seeds and Pistachios from Bourbon and Brown Sugar

Beet, Tangerine and Blood Orange Salad with Goat Cheese, Pomegranate Seeds and Pistachios from Bourbon and Brown Sugar

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Aioli from Lifestyle 365

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic Aioli from Lifestyle 365

Pan Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower Cilantro Lime Rice and White Gyro Sauce from Lifestyle 365

Pan Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower Cilantro Lime Rice and White Gyro Sauce from Lifestyle 365

Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Miso Dressing from Pinch of Yum

Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Miso Dressing from Pinch of Yum

Artisan Tropic and BBQ Chicken Plantain Nachos from Jessi's Kitchen

Artisan Tropic and BBQ Chicken Plantain Nachos from Jessi’s Kitchen

 

Korean Short Rib Lettuce Wraps from No Spoon Necessary

Korean Short Rib Lettuce Wraps from No Spoon Necessary

OKAY! Now on to the fun stuff…

 

Protein Oreos

Protein Oreos from Protein POW

Healthy Red Velvet Fudge Protein Bars from Desserts With Benefits

Healthy Red Velvet Fudge Protein Bars from Desserts With Benefits

Chocolate Avocado Popsicles from The Little Epicurean

Chocolate Avocado Popsicles from The Little Epicurean

Now I dare anyone to tell me eating healthy is boring! 😉

Lavender and Lemon Chicken

Today I’m excited to share a guest post from Erin Mcgee, a friend of mine and owner of the blog Sugar Stache. She’s a professional baker and classically trained chef- and also literally one of the most adorable people I know. To commemorate the beginning of Springtime she came up with this recipe to share with you guys! It’s a simple, clean meal with tons of flavor that is good enough for company!


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Hey guys! I’m Erin from the Sugar ‘Stache blog, and I’m really excited about doing a guest post for Janine!

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I started eating high protein/ low carb about two months ago and in that time I’ve come across and created some fun and delicious recipes. Eating right doesn’t have to mean boring. Today I’m going to share with you a great springtime recipe that I adapted from Rachel Khoo’s cookbook The Little Paris Kitchen.

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It’s a yummy Lavender and Lemon Chicken that has a bit of sweetness to go with the floral taste. I served this with a spinach salad topped with olives to add some salty flavors to this sweet chicken.

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I hope you enjoy it! What would you recommend as a side to this?

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Lavender and Lemon Chicken by Sugar Stache

• 4 Tbsp Lavender Oil
• 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 3 Tbsp Honey
• 2 Sprigs of thyme (leaves removed from stems)
• The zest and juice of one lemon
• 4-6 Chicken Legs (I used Organic for these, also any part of the chicken will work for this.)
• Salt to taste.

Directions:

-In a large freezer bag add everything except for the salt. Make sure all chicken pieces are well and evenly coated. Allow to marinate in the fridge for about 4 hours.

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken along with the remainder of marinade into a foil lined baking dish.

-Sprinkle with salt and bake chicken for 45 minutes, turning halfway through bake time. To check for done-ness, pierce the thickest part of the chicken and make sure the juices are running clear, not red or pink. Enjoy!

[Adapted from Rachel Khoo’s cookbook The Little Paris Kitchen.]