Meal Preparation: A Key Element of a Healthy Lifestyle
An important key element to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is meal preparation. In other words, it just doesn’t happen by chance. In our journey to be healthier, the concept of “What should we eat on a regular basis?” came up. We wanted to use Sunday as our meal prep day, which we would cook and prepare food for the both of us for the week ahead.
We started to research ideas and noticed a big trend with quinoa, pronounced “keen-wah”. As Wikipedia states, “quinoa is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. Quinoa seeds contain essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus and iron.”
We already had Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s All Good, and as I was thumbing through it, I saw that she used quinoa in a lot of her recipes. She states in her cookbook that quinoa is, “A must for all healthy contemporary diets, quinoa is a protein-packed grain that cooks quickly and is a wonderful canvas for all sorts of add-ins and dressings.”
I was interested in Gwyneth’s statement. We started out with the below recipe as a base. Then as the weeks continued we started adding different ingredients such as different kinds of beans and vegetables. We love adding lightly steamed broccoli. We try to ensure that all the ingredients we use in the recipe are organic – the quinoa, beans and vegetables.
Zesty Quinoa Salad recipe was adapted from allrecipes.com
- 3 cups of Perfectly Cooked Quinoa* (recipe below)
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 limes, juiced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
- 1 ½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 5 green onions, finely chopped ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Salt & ground black pepper to taste
Gwyneth instructs the best way to prepare quinoa on page 178 in It’s All Good, as stated below.
*Perfectly Cooked Quinoa
Makes 3 cups –
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 ¾ cups water
- Coarse sea salt
“Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine-mesh strainer (although this may sound like an unnecessary step, it really makes a huge difference in flavor, since quinoa’s natural coating tastes like soap.)
Place it in a pot set over high heat with the water and a big pinch of salt. Bring the quinoa to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa’s germs look like lots of little spirals, 12 to 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, place a dry paper towel between the pot and the lid, and let the quinoa sit for at least 5 minutes before giving it a fluff with a fork.
In addition to the Zesty Quinoa Salad, we also prepare a crock pot full of organic chicken breasts. We purchase the organic chicken breasts and sauces at Costco. We cut the chicken into cubes and add it to the crock pot. We then add Robert Rothschild Farm’s All Natural and Gluten Free Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Sauce and All Natural Jack’s Cantina Style Salsa to the crock pot until all the chicken is covered. We stir all the ingredients together and cook on low heat for about 4 hours and it comes out delicious.
The Zesty Quinoa Salad and the crock pot chicken make up our main meal during the day while we are at work. I also bring fresh fruit, vegetables and Kind bars for snacks throughout the day. When we get home, we’ll have a lighter meal such as a salad or a light snack. We have restructured our eating habits since we met with the nutritionist at our gym. She said to eat our larger meals during the day and then taper off as the day progresses. We’ve been following the nutritionist’s suggestions and we have been very happy with the balance it has created within our lives.
It takes planning and discipline to prepare our meals every Sunday; however, we know how important it is to take care of ourselves through proper nutrition. It’s a great feeling to know that in just a few hours on Sunday, most of your meals for the week are already taken care of and all you have to do is pack it up and take it with you.