You can easily modify recipes to meet your macros. All you need is your meal plan, a bit of math, and the ingredients for a nutritious meal.
When I go over healthy meal plans and recipe ideas with people, I like to give them some guidelines to follow versus only specific foods or recipes. I like to promote a variety of nutritious foods that can be chosen by the individual so he or she will be more interested in staying on track. Additionally, creating a meal plan with specific recipes is not only tedious for me (because every recipe has to be created and tracked in order to ensure nutrition balances out over the week), but the reality is, most people are not going to want to spend the time it takes to make exact recipes. Additionally, if we don’t like certain ingredients, we are likely going to omit them from our meals.
What does a sample guideline look like then? Calories and numbers are based on clients’ needs, but an example looks like this:
6 ounces of lean protein
1 cup of complex carbohydrates
1-2 cups of green vegetables
1/2 of a small avocado or another source of healthy fat like olive oil
My meal plans are quite “biased.” I do recommend specific foods I enjoy like the avocado you see here to give ideas, but I always take into consideration client likes and dislikes. Avocado is one of my favorite foods and when I’m dieting, there are times I’ll eat up to two a day. My calories come from fat instead of carbohydrates, but both can play a role in a healthful diet, that’s why I include adequate proportions of all three macronutrients at mealtime for the average person concerned about their health and/or looking to lose weight. Because so many people are always on the go, I do recommend some convenience foods and supplements. One hundred calorie packs of almonds or mixed nuts travel easily and and keep portion sizes in check. Greek yogurt is a quick and tasty go-to with both protein and carbohydrates, good for either before or after a workout. I’m a fan of protein supplements as well for a variety of reasons, again, they are convenient. If you have a sweet tooth, like I do, they can quench it a bit without all the fat and calories. I know it’s not the same as a chocolate chip cookie or something like that, but having a daily protein shake won’t break the calorie bank! They are a quick source of portable protein beneficial not only post workout, but any time of day. You’ve read it before, but I’ll write it again, it’s important to get protein in over the course of the day, not just at one or two meals, and supplements are a good way to do that, especially in between.
What about recipes? Here is where you can have some poetic license in the kitchen using guidelines provided. It’s important to read labels and keep in mind what condiments and sauces are high in fat, salt, and sugars, but you can create plenty of tasty dishes with fresh herbs, spices, and low calorie vegetables. Onions, garlic, turmeric, lemon grass, chilies, and so much more add flavor and nutrient benefits without adding extra calories to your meal. Yes, there will be a few extra calories, but a few calories from some onion and garlic is much better than hundreds of calories from high sodium sauces and marinades.
If you want to create a recipe that yields 4 meals, multiply the above numbers by four. What main protein source do you want? How about carbohydrates? What flavor combinations? A simple, “one pot” meal like a stew or even a chili is always good. How about a sweet potato chili? You can use both beans and diced sweet potato. Here’s a brief breakdown for 4 servings:
2 tbsp oil
1 cup onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp pepper
1 can low sodium diced tomatoes
1 cup canned beans, rinsed
1 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups diced sweet potatoes, boiled
Serve with a lime wedge and 1/4 of an avocado. Add a dash of salt for additional flavor.
To make the meal, heat olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet. Add garlic and onions and sauté until translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add ground turkey and break it up with a spatula. Add seasonings and cook until lightly browned. Add diced tomatoes, beans, broth and stir. Add in diced sweet potatoes last and heat until hot. If you add raw sweet potatoes, the chili will take longer to cook, sample as you go. A simplifying alternative is to used pre diced butternut squash that is sometimes available in the frozen foods section at your grocery store or you can buy it fresh. Sometimes Costco sells diced and peeled butternut squash. You can freeze what you don’t need. The same goes for chilis and stews. They are easily frozen and can be used later. If you’re feeling ambitious, whip up a double batch and save some for later.
The more you follow basic guidelines and experiment with different recipes in the kitchen, the easier eating healthy becomes. You don’t have to eat bland meals and boring meals to be successful with weight loss.