Delicious Nutritious Meal Ideas

If you want to add more stress to your day then aim to arrive home late and say, “What the heck am I going to cook for dinner?”.

As psychologists observe, under stress we revert to the familiar. Out comes the cheese on toast or micro-waved pizza and out go any vague good intentions.

Instead spend 10 minutes, perhaps on a Sunday, and jot down a rough plan for the week’s menu and any shopping needs. These few minutes will save you considerable time, stress and regret – if not dollars too. Copy a list of options such as below and tape it to the inside of the pantry door. Retire the physically and psychologically unsatisfying choices of the past. Replace with colourful, beckoning bounty that provides two forms of pleasure: it thrills the taste buds in the short term, and it keeps you looking and feeling good in the long term.

Easy Snack Ideas

The first phase of digestion is called cephalic, which relates to the head. When you see, smell or even think about food then digestive enzymes, fluids (an impressive 9 litres daily so ensure good fluid intake) and hormones prepare for the task. Relaxing before eating is essential to muster critical resources. Sit upright and loosen any tight clothing. Eat consciously and deliberately – don’t graze in a daze. INTENTION powerfully influences brain/body priorities and deployments. Have 3 meals and 0 – 2 snacks daily. If you tend to overindulge or make poor choices then follow:

3 Rules of Fine Dining

1) Decide what you will eat and how much before entering a kitchen or cafe;
2) Only eat food off a plate;
3) Only eat when seated at a table.

If you have blood sugar regulation problems then do not consume fruits or juices unless these are accompanied by other stabilising factors such as protein, soluble fibre (see my report on You Are Just A Few Steps Away From Peak Vitality) and a little fat. The high sugar content, however natural, can be too stimulating. Try these tasty options that encourage steady vitality:

• Fresh or dried fruit, or vegetable juice + small handful mixed nuts and seeds. Purchase nuts and seeds raw and then lightly toast (this adds flavour and minimises anti-nutritive factors such as phytates that impair digestion); no added oil is needed; to flavour add cumin or curry powder and tamari (naturally fermented wheat-free soy sauce), or Thai fish sauce or Malcolm Harker Sea Salt & Kelp; these can be done in bulk, covered and chilled.

• Small smoothie with: fresh or frozen fruit + Milk Option (soy, oat, almond, hazelnut, organic cow or goat, or 3 parts rice milk with 1 part coconut cream) + added protein (nuts, seeds, tahini, egg, silken tofu, spirulina). Take extra, to work or school, in a thermos.

• Homemade popcorn: toss with walnut, pumpkin seed or avocado oil + choice of seasoning (sea salt, kelp, garlic powder, curry powder, savoury yeast flakes, toasted sesame seeds, chilli flakes).

• Raw vegetables + small wholegrain crackers (read labels regarding hydrogenated fats, and additives), or make a base out of slices of cucumber, pepper, cooked potato, large mushroom caps, apple, pear, pineapple or kiwi fruit + top with hummus; Greek Olive Spread (supermarket); Dynamite (see The Shape Diet); tahini; nut butter; Pesto or Creamy Salmon Dip (see website Recipes); sliced hard boiled egg or omelet; or avocado plus anchovies, smoked salmon, sardines, marinated squid or mussels.

• Sushi (the type of rice used with added vinegar, seaweed and fish all make this low GI).

• Soup in a cup:
a) Use good quality, artificial additive-free packets of instant miso soup. Or make your own: place 1 heaped teaspoon dark hatcho miso (fermented soybean paste for digestion and immunity) in a mug; add 1 Tbsp nori strips or karengo fronds (small strips of New Zealand seaweed), hot water and stir. Optional extras are chilli flakes (heats the body, supports circulation and immunity), tiny cubes of firm tofu (protein, calcium, magnesium, Omega 3), pre-soaked and sliced shiitake mushroom (soluble fibre, immune support).

b) Use fresh or frozen, homemade or top quality chicken stock (eg Essential Cuisine – no artificial additives, made from simmered bones not just from meat extracts). Heat in a small saucepan as is; or with added chilli, seaweed, shiitake mushroom (all as above); plus a protein (tofu as above, cooked chickpeas or other legumes, crumbled hard-boiled egg, chopped left-over meat, smoked fish, or serve with a dollop of hummus); optional fresh or frozen vegetables and herbs.

Easy and Delicious Lunches (include 3 types of vegetables or part fruit)

• Soups, smoothies, sushi, bread/crackers/toast and topping ideas (accompany with raw vegetables), and other ideas as above for snacks.

• Tub Lunches speedily assembled on the day or as part of your dinner clean up. Place in a glass container, cover and chill. Note the pattern below of a small portion of something starchy and filling, balanced with a protein, crisp vegetables and a moist seasoning. Try:

a) Rice, millet or buckwheat + cashews + boiled egg, marinated mussels or cooked chicken + cucumber, grated carrot + vinaigrette or aioli.

b) Potato or pasta shapes + tinned red (thus wild) salmon or Red Lentil Dip (process cooked red lentils with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, olives, red onion, sea salt) + raw peas, sprouts, radish + avocado.

c) Kumara/sweet potato + chickpeas or tinned bean mix or Tex-Mex Beans (see RECIPES) + baby spinach, orange or dates, beetroot + hummus, tahini or macadamia butter.

d) Pumpkin, amaranth or quinoa + cubed tofu or left over cooked meat (toss with soy sauce, chilli sauce or tahini, fresh coriander or pickled ginger) + mushrooms, snow peas or broccoli, spring onions.

Easy and Delicious Dinners

Here the formula and structure is similar to that of tub lunches. Let variety and rotation become your standards. Alternate major proteins such as 2 nights per week of fish and seafood, 2 vegetarian (legumes, soy, nuts/seeds, egg), 1 red meat, 1 poultry, 1 flexible or dining out. Utilise a similar pattern with major starchy carbohydrates such as wholegrains (buckwheat, pasta, cornmeal/polenta, rice, millet, amaranth, quinoa, wheat, oats, rye), potato, kumara and pumpkin. Initially at least, this requires planning.

Meals can be planned as above around dominant ingredients, and according to the style of presentation (soup, stew, stir-fry, fritters, croquettes, casserole, tossed – such as pasta with sauce). Include 3-5 types of vegetables, which should complement those at lunch by adding up to a total of at least 5 servings (handfuls) of 5 colours daily. If this all seems daunting then just choose 1 starting point such as rotating your dinner protein choices. This is a skill that will improve over time. When set in motion it will become automatic and enhance your creative, dining and health experience. Meal ideas follow with alternating choices of protein and starch.

• Monday: mushroom, asparagus and pistachio risotto + mesclun, red pepper, pear salad, with aioli and fresh basil.

• Tuesday: fish fillets (simmered with white wine or orange juice, capers, red onion, olives) + pumpkin, kumara/sweet potato and broccoli mash + seasoned cucumber and radish slices.

• Wednesday: grilled or BBQ marinated lamb steak + potato wedges + lettuce, tomato, mushroom, raw pea/snow pea salad with mustard vinaigrette.

• Thursday: fritters (beaten egg, toasted sunflower seeds, grated tofu or pumpkin, breadcrumbs, parsley, curry powder) + mixed steamed carrot, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts tossed with tahini and lemon juice.

• Friday: roast chicken + mixed eggplant, green beans, onion, apple and figs baked with olive oil, chicken stock, cumin and coriander.

• Saturday: tomato based pasta sauce simmered with squid rings, mussels, carrot and courgette + cornmeal, buckwheat or semolina pasta tossed with raw spinach, spring onions and sprouts.

• Sunday: the cook resteth! Dine out or enjoy a help yourself buffet of left-overs, tinned fish or legumes, sliced fresh veg, condiments and dressings, tacos, tortillas, wraps or gluten-free pita bread.

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