Updated: Apr 13, 2022
In 2022, I want to focus on nourishing foods and healthy habits that we can ADD to our day vs. foods and habits we have to remove, which can lead to a very negative and restrictive mindset.
Over the month, I’ve challenged you to:
add the “Forks Down” mindful eating habit,
add fermented foods to contribute to a healthy gut
Continuing on the theme of adding nourishing foods and healthy habits, your challenge for the next 2 weeks is to ADD the macronutrients (macros) at every meal.
You’ve likely heard the word macronutrient before, and it sounds important, but what exactly is a macro, and how do we include them in our daily diet?
Technically there are three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats, but I like to add fiber to this list as it can be easily overlooked. For example, a complete macro meal could be a white bagel (carbohydrate) with deli chicken (protein) and cheese (fat), but those foods don’t have a lot of fiber.
It’s important to include fiber in your daily diet:
Fiber can remove excess bad LDL cholesterol from the blood, which can help maintain normal cholesterol levels and blood pressure - two factors that can help prevent heart disease and stroke
Fiber helps to keep blood glucose levels stable, which can balance hormones, prevent insulin resistance and diabetes
Fiber absorbs water creating bulk, which contributes to healthy digestion and can keep you feeling satisfied for longer after a meal, which can help with weight loss goals
Certain sources of fiber like raw fruits and vegetables (skin on) are indigestible, which is a good thing! They linger in the intestines, ferment, and contribute to healthy gut bacteria
Sources of fiber are whole, fresh foods that also include a variety of vitamins and minerals that contribute to good overall health: raw vegetables, fruits, legumes (lentils, beans), nuts, seeds, brown, wild or black rice and whole grains.
Including the 4 macros at each meal keeps you feeling satisfied and energized for longer after eating, they help build and maintain muscle mass, support the immune system, keep blood sugar balanced, contribute to healthy digestion, and provide everything your body needs to function properly.
There are certain macronutrients that I would recommend adding over others for their awesome health benefits:
Vegetarian protein sources like lentils, beans, tempeh (fermented soybean cake), edamame and tofu are also high in fiber, and low in fat and calories - a winning combination for weight maintenance and loss. When it comes to animal protein, eggs and fish are excellent choices as they also contribute to brain health. Lean meats like chicken and turkey are lower in saturated fats; therefore better for a low cholesterol/blood pressure diet.
This macro presents an awesome opportunity to include more fiber! Just keep it simple, and focus on vegetables such as squash, potatoes, and root vegetables. When it comes to rice, try high fiber options like brown rice, wild rice or purple/black/forbidden rice (also a source of brain boosting antioxidants). If you like pasta, choose high fiber, gluten-free options like chickpea (also a source of protein), quinoa or brown rice pasta. Oats, quinoa, buckwheat and whole-wheat are also high fiber choices.
Including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated essential fatty acids (in place of excess saturated fats from red meats like pork, beef, cheese, butter, lard and trans fats in hydrogenated vegetables oils from fast food, fried food, packaged food) contributes to healthy cholesterol levels and blood pressure, as well as brain health, gut health and hormone balance. My favorite healthy fats include:
Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil
Omega-3 fish like: salmon, rainbow trout, herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies
Avocado (also a source of fiber and protein)
Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed and hemp seeds
Eat the rainbow! Include a variety of unlimited raw vegetables, fruits (skin on for more fiber) and whole grains.
I don’t like to discriminate against vegetables, but I always recommend including leafy greens like kale, spinach, swiss chard and arugula as they are a source of vitamin K, which helps to build strong fat cells in the brain, and a source of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant chemicals that protect plants from illness and diseases. When we eat those same phytonutrients, they also protect us from illness and disease. Phytonutrients strengthen our immune system, lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Certain green vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage, arugula, and Brussels sprouts are “Premium” veg because they are hormone-balancing for women - specifically when it comes to estrogen. They help women metabolize or get rid of excess estrogen. Estrogen dominance can throw everything out of whack, causing symptoms like weight gain (especially in hips, thighs & mid-section), fatigue, irritability, anxiety, heavy periods, etc.
Green veggies are also high in fiber and low in calories, a combination that will help you feel full and satisfied without overeating, which can lead to weight loss! Eating high fiber foods can also prevent sugar and carb cravings, contribute to healthy digestion and a healthy heart.
So how do you combine all those magnificent macros? Here is an example of what a complete macro day of eating looks like:
Breakfast: the best way to get all the macros in one meal are smoothies. Combine a few handfuls of spinach or kale, a green(ish) banana, flaxseed, blueberries, protein powder or plain yogurt and water or unsweetened nut milk and you’re good to go! If you’d rather chew your breakfast, check out the recipe below for my Coconut Chia Pudding Parfait.
Lunch: I always recommend a big leafy green salad as a base, and top with your favorite protein of choice like a scoop of tuna or egg salad (mix tuna or boiled eggs with hummus & sea salt) and healthy fat like avocado or pumpkin seeds. *Having leftover roasted vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and sweet potato make great additions to lunch salad bowls.
Dinner: Rainbow trout with roasted vegetables. Grab two big sheet pans, preheat the oven to 425F, and roast broccoli and sweet potato on one pan for 15 minutes. While your veggies are roasting, drizzle 2-3 rainbow trout fillets with olive oil, season with sea salt, and add to the oven for the last 10 minutes. Voila - dinner done in 25 minutes! *Feel free to use salmon and any combo of roast veggies that you like here.
Snacks: produce + protein or healthy fat: natural almond butter with celery sticks or apple slices OR raw veggies with guacamole OR handful of walnuts or pumpkin seeds with berries.
Coconut Chia Pudding Parfait
Makes 4 servings
1 cup unsweetened coconut or almond milk
1 cup plain, unsweetened Greek Yogurt or Coconut Yogurt
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (sulphite-free)
1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup or monkfruit sweetener (optional)
¼ tsp. cinnamon or ground ginger
Pinch of salt
Possible toppings: almond butter, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, sliced almonds or my Grain-Free Granola and fresh berries - enjoy!
Combine ingredients in a bowl, and whisk together. Let stand for 5 minutes, and whisk again to prevent chia seeds from clumping.
Store in the fridge for 3 hours, or overnight. Mixture will firm into a “pudding” consistency.
Before serving, stir in natural almond or peanut butter, or top with nuts and seeds or granola and fresh fruit. Enjoy!
Notes: I always double this recipe! Chia pudding lasts one week in the fridge.