Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Feeling full, Without The Calories

Now that school is out for summer and I have a break from teaching, there is a little more time in my day to hit up the grocery store and prepare some fresh cooked meals.  Usually during the school year most of the food I eat is out of Tupperware and cooked a few days in advance.  For the most part, I tend to eat for fuel.  Since I have a little more time on my hands I've been exploring ways to get a little variety in my meals along with some much needed flavor.  The hard part was avoiding a surplus of extra calories.

As far as daily nutritional goals, my calories usually fall between 2,000 and 2,200.  I try to get in between 180-200 grams of protein throughout the day and the amount fat and carbohydrates I eat will vary on my activity level.  Lifting days = more carbs. Most of my carbs come from fruit and my fat sources are olive oil, coconut oil, various nuts, eggs, and grass fed red meat  I am by no means anywhere close to a vegetarian, but recently started incorporating a ton of various vegetables to my meals throughout the day.

The addition of fibrous vegetables to my meals has really satisfied my hunger, as well as improving my energy,and has made my digestive system function more efficiently.  The debate can go on between organic vs. non-organic or frozen vs. fresh and some people have the soul purpose in life to ridicule the "Paleo Diet". But, in all honesty, vegetables have too many health benefits to argue about, just eat em'.  

Vegetables can lower blood pressure, possibly prevent cancer, reduce the risk of diabetes, improve your circulatory system and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.  One of the "power" veggies is Spinach.  I use spinach in the majority of my meals.  Since I don't eat a lot of dairy, spinach provides calcium along with a broad spectrum of vitamins and a little fiber.   

Here are a few meal ideas that include a vegetable with every meal, plenty of protein, and will satisfy your hunger:

-Eggs with spinach, mushrooms, onion, red peppers and tomato.  Scramble 2-6 eggs (depending on your calorie/fat intake) add some egg whites for extra protein without the fat.  Coat a frying pan with 1tablespoon  of organic coconut oil, throw the veggies in and let them saute for about a minute, then add in the eggs.  Scramble em' up or cook em as an omelet.  It's amazing how much food your eyes will see, adding those veggies will make it appear like you are about to indulge in a 1,200 calorie meal where actually you are probably eating 300-600 calories (depending on how many eggs you use).  Usually I eat some fruit with this meal, an orange or apple or some mixed berries will do the trick.

-Protein Shakes.  One way to add a little substance to a protein shake is to add in some milled flax seed or chia seeds.  These ingredients add a little fiber and are a good source of essential fatty acids.  My "off the wall" ingredient is spinach, if blended correctly you won't even taste it!  I usually add in some blueberries  or another fruit for a little extra flavor and added antioxidants. If I need some extra calories, I'll add in some walnuts or natural peanut butter.
Trust me, you won't taste the spinach.  You can also add some coconut oil for a good source of fat and extra calories.
-Turkey Scramble.  I try to buy "organic" 99% lean ground turkey breast.  I fry it up in a pan with a little olive oil and then add in some spinach  and a big bag of mixed frozen vegetables.  Once I add the veggies I reduce the heat and cover the pan for about 10 minutes. Along with my turkey scramble, I usually eat an apple for some extra fiber or I will eat some cashews or almonds for dietary fat.  
I add a little hot sauce for a little extra flavor.
 -Shish Kabobs.  I usually use chicken or steak, but shrimp or scallops can work as well.  I like to load up the skewer with a variety of veggies (onion, peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini) mix in the protein source and throw them on the grill. It's almost fool proof to make a good kabob, just make sure you don't overcook the steak!
One of these days I'm gonna try buffalo as my protein source.
-Big Salads.  I like to add all sorts of leafy green veggies to my salads.  Everything from romaine to spring mix and sometimes kale.  Once I load up the greens, I'll throw some other stuff on such as mushrooms or peppers then 1 or 2 tablespoons of flax seeds or chia seeds.  For dressing I will mix apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, and some olive oil.  I have a variety of protein sources I can add on top such as salmon, chicken, or steak. I recently used grill shrimp and it was a success.  If I need to increase my caloric/fat intake I can add some chopped almonds or walnuts.
Depending on calorie/protein needs I'll add more chicken or hard boiled eggs.
If you are trying to gain weight and bulk up, this is obviously not the best nutrition advice for you.  But if you want to feel like you are eating a lot of food, while keeping your calories low- give some of these ideas a try.  You can always add some things in or take some things away, just don't overcook the steak!

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