Meal Plan Monday. (3of4)

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This past week has been so wonderful.  The food, the people, the love.  Even the sun shone more than usual and the rain always held out so we could go outdoors and have fun at least a little everyday.

So here is this week’s meal plan.  Nothing fancy, and a ‘cheater’ meal included (easy meal not cooked from scratch).  Also trying out a new recipe!  After the indulgence of our Valentine’s meal I’m feeling good about the health and nutrient packed snacks and meals I have in store for this week.

  • Quinoa with Zucchini and Ricotta Bake (gluten free!)
  • Asparagus Risotto
  • Tempeh Shwarma (adapted from The Coup restaurant’s cookbook!)
  • Mushroom Pita Pizzas
  • IMG_1887Cauliflower Indian  (vegetarian AND gluten free!) We also serve naan bread with this meal.   It is a low protein meal so I make sure we get ample protein elsewhere during the day (read: lots of almond and greek yogurt snacks!)  Here is your ‘cheat’ for this week!
  • Refried Beans ‘n rice, with salad (from 100 days of Real Food Blog.) *this is the new recipe!!

In doing all this planning I have realized there is so much I want to share…including how I set up our daily snacks and organize so that our nutritional requirements are pretty much balanced throughout the day.  Certain meals don’t necessary contain everything we need, but we make those up in other areas through the day.  To break it down a little further…

Daily: I sort it out into the 4 major “food groups” (loosely based on the Canada Food Guide.)

IMG_1886 IMG_1453 IMG_1394 IMG_1356Grains, protein, fruits/vegetables and dairy.  Although in the dairy section I break it down further (as we are trying to cut back on dairy products consumed).  The break down is: healthy fats, and calcium (although calcium does come in other groups as well).  

For every meal and snack we aim for at least one thing from every group.  

And for meals where we are lacking, snacks make up the difference.  Like adding walnuts to a snack, which gives us healthy fats and protein.  I don’t break down the numbers (very often anyway) – just too much work!  But I do listen to my body, pay attention to how it responds to food, and use that information later in my planning.

From a nursing and nutritional perspective I also try to balance out blood sugar levels.  This way we have enough fuel to keep us going for at least a few hours until our next snack.  Balancing carbs (starches and fruits) with proteins (greek yogurt, nuts, beans, pulses, nut butters) gives our body a quick energy boost (carbs) and then a slow steady ride (from the protein.)  This is broken down to be very very basic.  You can get all wound up in how nutrition works in the body and what everything rates on the glycemic index.  But I go for general rules…that are easy to follow. Hence putting some of each “food group” into what we eat.

Always eat a carb (or starch) with a protein.

Weekly: I try to even out nutritional components…like levels of iron and B12 (specifically those because we eat a vegetarian diet.) Also mixing up the types of grains we have, and variety of fruits and vegetables.  So that is incorporated into the meal planning portion of my Monday.  What I’ve given here is our dinner…lunches, breakfasts and snacks of course are planned out too.  Just not to the same extent. (Thank goodness!  The B-type personality has to come through somewhere or life would never be laid back!)

Eat a rainbow and you’ve got it covered. (Rainbow = a variety of whole foods in different colours.)

Having said all of that, I am a firm believer than the whole is greater than the sum of all ingredients.  Just eating a tablet of vitamin C, a protein bar and a tablespoon of olive oil does not equate with a healthy meal.  Which is why we don’t add things like protein powder to our foods.

The nutrients we do get are as close to the source as possible.

I believe that is the best way to live.  Not only nutritionally, but environmentally as well.  If I can go into the garden and get a fresh carrot, or egg (or whatever) it saves a ton of petrochemicals in transporting goods and housing them in a store.  You are then also more aware of what’s in your food, and more importantly what’s not (pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics…) I’m not saying we all need to go out and become farmers, but I am saying a little awareness goes a long way.  Especially when you are using those things to fuel the most powerful tool you have – your body.

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