For any fitness goal you need to know a few cooking essentials. Whether you want to lose a few pounds, tone up, build muscle, or be healthy, there's no substitute for preparing and eating meals at home. Cooking at home lets you choose quality ingredients, control the amount of oil, butter, and salt, and portions. While you can ask the restaurant to grill your protein and prepare the vegetables without oil/butter, the calorie content, cholesterol and sodium levels will still be higher than a home-cooked meal. When eating at restaurants most people also overeat because portions are bigger and you're in a relaxed atmosphere.
A good guide is cooking dinner at home at least 3 to 4 nights a week. An added bonus is cooking at home is budget-friendly. Make extra at dinner and pack the leftovers for lunch the next day. I like trying recipes for new ideas and learning how to cook. But following a recipe every single time you cook can be no fun, time-consuming and frustrating. Here is a simple healthy guide on exactly how to cook a healthy meal, no recipe required.
- Choose at least 2 vegetables. Sautéed onions, asparagus and mushrooms. Grilled zucchini and eggplant. Steamed broccoli, carrot and cauliflower. Roasted brussel sprouts and a green salad. There are endless combinations.
- Choose a lean protein. Fish, chicken, ground turkey, lamb, steak, pork, eggs etc. Try roasting, grilling, lightly sautéing, or baking.
- Choose a complex carb. Wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, red potatoes, etc. Skip the complex carb and get your carbs from vegetables if you: are sedentary, have a lot of weight to lose, are naturally less hungry at dinner, OR you eat more of your calories earlier in the day.
- Choose your seasonings. Especially if your goal is fat loss, you'll want to choose mostly seasonings that don't add any calories. While cooking I add dried spices like onion powder, garlic powder, oregano and cayenne. To finish the dish, I chop fresh herbs like parsley or mint and squeeze a lemon or lime. I add himalayan pink salt after cooking. Other toppings include a little feta cheese or goat cheese, avocado slices, or a dollop of Greek yogurt. I usually cook my vegetables and meat or fish in coconut oil or grass-fed butter so there's already a healthy fat that adds flavor.
- Set the table and plate your food. Turn off the TV, light a candle and play some light dinner music. Sit down and enjoy your meal. Savor and chew each bite. Ever feel hungry immediately after eating? You want as little distractions as possible while eating. This helps the body to digest and know when it's full.
Try putting these tips to use right away, especially #1 (eat more plant-based) and let me know how you do! Check out the blog for some of my favorite healthy recipes.