In response to: “Healthy minds need healthy foods. What are your top 3 homemade dinners and snacks?”
Hey hey hey!!! It’s been a while. This writer’s life is not for the faint of heart. Had to take some time to regroup. What better way to jump back into it than by responding to YOU. Some time ago I asked my fellow blog followers, what they’d like to read about. Surprisingly, the inquiry about my favorite healthy foods came up. At first I wondered, what would bring about this question? Is it because I somehow manage to make this “lifestyle” of physical activity, and work/life balance look easy? I felt like a fraud for a second. Because that is far from the truth. Or was it the way I’ve been able to maintain my weight loss journey? I do share my love for food on my social media. After all, I’m a foodie at heart. Don’t believe me? Check out this highlight https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/18144254365185653/
I’d say my “nibbles” infatuation comes from my background. My culture is well known for its love of food, music, and fellowship. Read more about Dominican culture food history on this fellow bloggers page. https://www.dominicancooking.com/1370/about-dominican-cooking
And so it’s no surprise that I grew up with the idea that we must “live to eat”. In fact, coming to terms with the ideal that we must “eat to live” came along much later in life for me. And some days, to be honest, I teeter back and forth from both eating styles. Most are surprised by my incessant desire to devour good eats. All be it, slowly. Better believe it will get eaten! No shame in my game. But this is exactly why I’ve learned to balance out my physical activity and healthy habits.
Over the years, I’ve learned healthy eating practices and developed a more conscientious way of eating. This may have come after having gained over 30 pounds, but… that’s neither here nor there. I’ve developed a love for more healthy food options. Of course, there are times I treat myself to the occasional “not so healthy” foods. And I’d be the first to admit, sometimes I go overboard. But I’ve learned the meaning of healthy balance in my journey. I’ve been able to explore various foods. Trying something new is always up my alley. I’m always open to trying different cuisines especially if there are added health benefits.
One thing most Dominicans can agree on is the fact that growing up, in our meal preparations, vegetables have rarely been at the forefront. In fact, it’s quite common to have meal after meal full of starch, carbs, protein, and more carbs and protein. And who could argue with us that avocado is not actually in the vegetable category?!? I mean, I still can’t believe it’s considered a fruit. Who knew! I remember like it was yesterday, when I prepared a meal for my now husband. We were dating at the time. He says, “Where are the veggies?” I chalked it up to a difference in cultural eating experiences. Though I later learned just how important it was to incorporate greens into my diet. For the purpose of gut health, greens and various fibrous vegetables are important to include in one’s meal. In fact, through Beachbody’s amazing healthy eating programs, I’ve learned to have a more substantial relationship with food.
For me, it boiled down to these two infamous and life changing words, “veggies most”. Not eliminating the things I like from my diet but instead including vegetables as a major part of my plate, in lieu of piling on the carbs (namely rice, I’m a sucker for rice).
And so I lead you to this. The moment you’ve all been waiting for!!! (In my announcer voice)
The first of my favorite homemade dinners has got to be, Herb Salmon on a bed of Mixed Green Salad, topped with dried cranberries and nuts and drizzled with a light red wine vinaigrette salad dressing. Though initially I was skeptical about the use of butter used to Sautee the salmon, I learned through a very popular TV show on prime time television that butter is in fact not bad for you, in moderation. Namely, grass fed butter being the most beneficial to one’s diet. Though I don’t agree with every aspect of this “Wild Diet”, it has certainly proven to work in the “My Diet is better than yours” experiment. The grass fed butter certainly brings so much flavor to the salmon and makes for a delicious salad option.
For more information on the “Wild Diet” and to check out Abel James “My Diet is Better than Yours” Wild Diet testimony, click on the below links:
My second favorite homemade dinner option is, veggie stir fry. Well-seasoned chicken breast, marinated by my own special blend of “sofrito” (a Dominican staple in the kitchen comprised of onions, garlic, peppers, and other rich flavored goodness used to season meats, beans, etc.). The great thing about this option is I’ve developed a simple meal prep solution. Places like Trader Joe’s makes it so much easier to prepare healthy meals. Their kosher vegan options are sure to provide a nutritious addition to your preparations. Once cooked, the chicken breast is cut in strips and added to the pan with the frozen stir fry mix from Trader Joes. For flavor I add, you guessed it… grass fed butter. Delicious!
Other Casa de Green favorite options are my turkey meatballs, which I season with a blend of sofrito, garlic powder, complete seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and add diced onions and peppers before molding them into hefty balls of meat to add to the saucepan where I’ve preheated some Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I pair this with long grain brown/quinoa rice and Brussel sprouts or another veggie fav mix.
Next is my scrumptious ground turkey lasagna made with low sodium tomato sauce and veggie pasta. Sometimes I make it with the regular pasta and enjoy in smaller portions. I add mozzarella, ricotta, and cheddar and layer before baking. Serving with an arugula tomatoes heirloom salad topped with a simple vinegar and olive oil salad dressing and some creamy avocado. Never forget the avocado! The healthy fat is good for you.
Another versatile homemade meal option is, egg white and spinach turkey omelet (which often turns into a scramble). This meal I’ve often even made for dinner. After all, who doesn’t love a great breakfast for dinner option?!? I prep the deli turkey first (low sodium option is best), dicing it nicely prior to adding to the heated skillet with extra virgin olive oil. My favorite being the Filippo Berio Olive Oil for sautéing and grilling. While the deli turkey is browning I chop up the onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes. I then add that to the saucepan. I let it cook until semi-tender then I add the egg whites. Shortly after I add shredded mozzarella cheese and top it with spinach. I then flip it half way and cook evenly on both sides until golden brown. I remove from the heat and top with some creamy avocado (of course), and depending on my mood may even toast a slice of wheat bread for an extra delight.
If I had to choose another breakfast favorite, it would be my “Keto pancakes” made with almond flour, topped with sliced strawberries, powdered Keto approved sugar, and sugar free syrup. As mentioned back in my previous blog, “Issa Fit Life” (see link below) there came a time where I experimented in the Keto diet realm. I learned so many things from this process. Namely, how to avoid sweets that weren’t good for me and find healthier no carb and no sugar options. I’ve since continued to incorporate some of those practices in my current diet. I’ll admit, the no carb part was a bit challenging, but I made it work. Making my own bread, baking my own sugar free no carb option sweets, and trying various other recipes. Call me the Dominican Martha Stewart. 😉
As for healthy snack options, this has been rather easy for me. I stick to reduced fat cheese strings, fruits like bananas and berries, peanut butter and pretzels, and if I need a little extra sweetness I go for a slice of wheat toast with peanut butter and sugar free jam. Home-popped kernel popcorn is a staple in our home as well. Making it as low sodium as possible, though this is a struggle because my husband is a major salt fanatic (we’re still working on him). Roasted almonds and dried fruits are also a great snack option.
I’ve found portion control is key to any healthy meal serving. I’d say I mastered this when I completed the Beachbody 21 Day Fix program and meal plan. I’ll be honest, initially I was skeptical. Seeing the portion control containers was intimidating. I didn’t think it’d be enough. I was pleasantly surprised to see how I not only was satisfied with each meal preparation, but I often struggled to incorporate snacks in between. I was sold! And portion control has been a staple for me ever since. In fact, I’ve even purchased and gifted a few portion control containers for those struggling with this in their daily eating habits.
Long story short, I don’t believe in depriving oneself of the things we love. Occasionally, it’s okay to indulge in those food options. However, moderation is key. Consistency with your meal plan is also critical to developing healthy eating habits. After all, you’ve got only one life and one body to do it in… make wise choices. Nourish yourself with the foods that make you your best self. Think of healthy eats as the elixir to anti-aging and long lasting life. In fact, it actually is.
Hope this piece answered your questions dear reader. Pass it along to others looking for meal prepping inspiration, and don’t forget to go back and read my previous blog SERIES 6, “Issa Fit Life,” for more on my wellness lifestyle journey.
I hope this message has encouraged you. To live your life to the best of your ability. To shine brighter each day and be your best self. As always, yours truly. – Lin Green