meal planning: week 4

Well, the holidays are coming to an end and I can imagine that many of you set some kind of new year’s resolution about eating healthier or exercising more. Here’s week 4 of the simple meal plans + grocery lists I put together. Hopefully it’s a good jumpstart into a healther 2015! As an added bonus, when you have your meals all planned out and do some prep in advance, you have more time after work to fit in a trip to the gym or go on a walk!
For recipes and grocery lists from weeks 1-3, be sure to scoll back through previous posts or do a search for “meal planning” in the search bar over on the left hand side of the page!

southwestern steak, corn, + black bean wraps

week 4 shopping list

meal planning: week 5

I’ve only included two recipes in this final week of the meal planning series but I’m hoping that you tried some of the previous recipes and can add some of your favorites in. You could also pick a recipe or two from the weekly spotlight posts to add into your rotation! It doesn’t take too long to put together a list of everything you need and it helps even more if you choose recipes that have at least a couple of similar ingredients.
In case you missed them, don’t forget to check out weeks 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the meal planning series for more recipes + lists!
week 5 shopping list


There is a LOT of comfort food in this week’s collection of recipes…some more indulgent than others. However, all are made at home, which already gives them a huge advantage over packaged or fast food. To add a little balance, I’ll start things off with a couple of fresh salads, which can be somewhat hard to come by during the winter! Enjoy :)

kale, avocado, tangerine, + sesame salad

and here’s another winter salad: broccoli + butternut squash salad with orange vinaigrette

slow cooker smoky white bean soup

this chickpea minestrone soup is loaded with good stuff

sun-dried tomato + spinach baked pasta

there just can’t be too many sun-dried tomatoes in my opinion :) sun-dried tomato chicken + cream sauce

somewhat familiar but with a twist, these indian turkey meatballs over rice will surely be a hit at the dinner table

these individual tamale pies are so cute and filled with all of my favorite things!

chicken quinoa lettuce wraps can lighten things up a bit but still taste great

spotlight + surviving food holidays

Happy Thanksgiving week!! There’s no doubt you already have the menu planned, but here are some healthy additions…as well as some other fun recipes from this week.


One thing to keep in mind during this season of food holidays: just as one day of eating vegetables can’t make a person healthy, one day of more indulgent food than usual can’t make you unhealthy! Don’t starve yourself before a big meal but don’t feel like you need to avoid all the amazing foods your friends and family prepared. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind before we get to the recipes:

1. Eat normal, healthy meals throughout the day before a big gathering. “Saving up” calories for a feast isn’t a thing. You’ll just end up ravenous (and likely hangry!) by the time you get to the party and end up eating far more than you would have if you’d just eaten normally through the day.

2. Focus on balanced, healthy meals on days in between food events. A few days of indulgence here and there aren’t going to add on the pounds, but a 2 month long endless buffet of indulgent foods will.

3. Portion control! Enjoy a reasonable portion of each food and enjoy it.

4. If you don’t love it, skip it. You will not find me wasting plate space on a bland carboard roll or that pink fluffy mystery “salad” I don’t love just because it’s a holiday. I’d rather have extra space for stuffing and pie!

5. You can always bring a healthier dish so you know you’ll have something you can load your plate with and crowd out some of the less healthy options.

I will definitely be trying these cinnamon roll overnight oats

there is a lot of heavy comfort food this time of year. make room on your table for this festive kale salad with apple + pomegranate too!

polenta is one of my favorites and these polenta stuffed poblanos look incredible

I LOVE yukon gold potatoes. imagine them combined with garlic, chives, and sweet potatoes!

if you want to add some sweet potatoes to your Thanksgiving table without 10 lbs of marshmallows, I suggest this sweet potato casserole with sweet and savory bacon pecans! roasted sweet potatoes are also a favorite

deep dish pancake in the microwave!

homemade cranberry sauce is almost as easy as opening the canned variety


meal planning: week 2


So, did you try out any of the recipes on the meal plan last week? If so, I want to hear about it! Leave a comment here, or you can tell me on twitter @realfoodfirst.

Here is another round of healthy recipes for next week. Again, the shopping list is included! For the pizza, I just included the crust recipe so you can choose whichever toppings you like best, but you’ll need to add these to your shopping list.

Pizza is a great way to sneak in veggies – I love one with artichoke hearts, banana peppers, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach. You can also add some chicken or Canadian bacon, which is lower in fat than sausage or pepperoni. Chickpeas are also a good addition if you want to add a little protein but don’t eat meat.

Another good pizza combo is leftover chicken tossed with a little barbeque sauce (I like Gates or Stubbs brands for their recognizable ingredients). I also add green onion and tomatoes to this one. The possibilities are endless really :)

week 2 shopping list

coconut water


Coconut water has become all the rage in recent years as a more natural form of hydration, especially surrounding exercise. If you’ve tried coconut water, you may have discovered that it also has a pretty steep price tag. So, is it worth it?

Here’s what you’ll find in an 8 oz serving of coconut water: 45 calories. 30 mg sodium. 470 mg potassium. 11g carbohydrate. 0 g protein.

While the ingredients may be “all natural” (just coconut water + vitamin C), there are a few issues when it comes to using coconut water for rehydration during/after exercise. The main one being sodium.

Most sports drinks heavily promote their ability to replenish electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, that are lost in sweat. Here’s the thing: the main electrolyte you lose and would need to replace is sodium. There is about 1000 mg sodium lost per liter of sweat, compared to about 200 mg of potassium per liter. When you compare this to the daily recommended amount of sodium (1,500 mg) and potassium (4,700 mg), you can see that it is much easier to replace potassium that sodium after exercise.

As you can see above, coconut water mainly provides potassium, with very little sodium. This makes it an inadequate form of post-exercise rehydration.

So, is coconut water a miracle rehydration beverage? No. Is it fine to drink because you like it? Of course – just be mindful of the calories it adds to your daily intake, as with all caloric beverages. If you’re exercising for greater than 60-90 minutes, in a hot/humid environment, or are a heavy or salty sweater (you have visible salt on your skin or clothes after working out), then I would recommend a sports drink for hydration surrounding exercise. Otherwise, water is more than adequate!