Do you ever wonder why you eat chips or pretzels with sandwiches?
Why is it that you always have pancakes after your long Sunday ride?
Why is it that you have to top yogurt with granola or dry cereal?
Why is it that you have to have jelly with peanut butter?
Why does lemonade always sound good after a hard and hot workout?
Why does hot chocolate taste so good on a snowy day?
I'm sure you have heard the expression "it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks". I think it would be true to say everyone has habits in the diet (good and bad). I think the number 1 fear people have when changing dietary habits is "giving up 'favorite' foods".
Ask yourself, if you were to change some of those habits, would you lose weight, improve performance or feel better about the you eat?
While snacking on fruit is certainly not a habit that you would want to change, perhaps always ordering fries with a meal is a habit that should be changed. What about that cliff bar that you snack on mid-day? Are you eating that for convenience, because it tastes good or because it provides you with the fuel for your upcoming 90 min. after-work run workout?
This post is all about being creative with your meals and snacks.
As you know, I love re-creating recipes. I love finding creative ways to turn a favorite high-calorie recipe into a new, favorite healthy recipe. Part of being creative with meals is understanding what it is that you are wanting to re-create.
I think everyone has parts of their diet which could use improvement. Whether you are looking for ways to improve the diet for performance gains or improving the diet for weight loss, it is important to make the most out of your meals and snacks and most of all, enjoy what you are eating and feel satisfied after eating it.
Take a look at the meals and snacks in your diet that you want to re-create. Ask yourself the following questions?
1) Is presentation important?
2) Is size important?
3) What makes this meal sweet?
4) What makes this meal filling?
5) What seasonings make this meal tasty?
6) Why do I enjoy eating this food?
7) Am I eating this meal for health benefits?
8) Am I eating this meal for performance benefits?
9) Am I eating this meal because I am bored or tired?
10) Am I eating this meal because I am starving?
I'll give you an example. Let's use pizza for dinner as the example.
1) Presentation- Would you still enjoy pizza if you went light on the cheese, loaded it with veggies and ordered whole wheat, thin crust?
2) Size - would you be able to eat 3 small pieces over 1 x-large piece?
3) Sweetness - there isn't anything sweet about pizza
4) Filling - although whole wheat would add fiber, the cheese adds fat for filling and perhaps, because it is easy to eat a lot of pizza before feeling full, it is easy to fill yourself up with a lot of calories.
5) Seasonings - is it the sauce, toppings, in the bread? What makes pizza so good?
6) Why do you eat this? - Is this a special night? Is a sports game on TV? Did you just workout hard?
7) Health - pizza could be healthy if prepared at home.
8) Performance - many people (myself) enjoy pizza a few nights before a race. There could be performance benefits so long as the rest of the diet is balanced.
9) Bored or tired - Is delivery or frozen pizza an easy option when you don't feel like cooking?
10) Starving - Do you reach right for frozen or left-over pizza when you are starving? It is likely that if you are starving that you may overeat pizza when it is ready but if you are starving at a restaurant there are quicker items on the menu.
Eating healthy isn't about giving up all of your favorite foods. Sure, you may need to cut back on the restaurant and fast food items, but by cooking at-home you can really get creative in finding ways to give your old favorites a healthy twist.
I have re-created a few recipes for you to get your brain thinking.
*I really impressed myself with how yummy these creative recipes turned out..Enjoy!
Instead of French Fries...
*Similar shape, nice crunch, filled with nutrition, low fat and calories, great taste!
1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 egg whites
1 tbsp fresh Parmesan
1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Spray with non-stick spray.
2) Cut peeled Zuccini in half. Cut each half into thin slices. Cut each slice in half to make fries.
3) Arrange your stations - Slices, egg whites (lightly scrambled), bread crumbs + Parmesan.
4) Dip slices into egg whites and lightly roll in bread crumb mixture. Place on baking dish.
5) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bread crumbs begin to brown.
Instead of boxed granola...
Homemade apricot granola
*More affordable, lower in calories, lower in fat, lower in sugar, super yummy!
*Warning (based on personal experience in the Sumbal household) - this recipe requires discipline and portion control. I recommend putting portions into baggies as soon as the granola is finished cooking...or your granola will be gone in 2 days :)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chopped honey roasted peanuts
2 cups instant oats
1/8 cup ground flax seeds
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp. natural peanut butter
1 tbsp. maple syrup or agave nectar
5 whole canned apricots (or 10 halves) - chopped
1). Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Spray a non-stick baking sheet with non-stick spray.
2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients.
3. Mix until granola is well combined.
4. On your baking sheet, press down granola. Granola should be no higher than the 1/2 inch. If higher, use two baking sheets.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes (you will smell it). Check around 15-20 minutes, and every 5 minutes thereafter, to prevent over-browning. Remove from oven when granola looks toasted.
Who had a bite of my granola before I took a picture???
Instead of restaurant corn bread...
Homemade corn bread
*Healthier, quicker, more nutrient dense, delicious!
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp flax seed
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of pepper
2/3 cup corn
*optional 1/4 cup jalepeno and/or green peppers
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup skim milk
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking loaf pan w/ non-stick spray.
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl (except milk) and mix well.
3. Add milk and stir until mixture looks like soupy pancake batter.
4. Pour batter into your loaf pan.
*I did 1/2 with peppers and half without peppers. I added the peppers after the batter was in the pan.
5. Bake for 25-30 min. or until top of corn bread begins to crack.