This tomato recipe calls for seasonal ingredients and uses fresh herbs to add tons of flavor without spiking the fat content.

When you’re looking to shed fat, vegetables are your best weapon. For a few calories per serving, you can eat as much as you want and feel full without packing on the pounds. Replace high-calorie processed foods with fresh veggies and you’ll surely notice a change in your waistline!

Heirloom Tomato and White Bean Salad

Heirloom Tomato and White Bean Salad with Herb-Marinated Chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup Herb Marinade (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups mesclun greens, rinsed
  • ½ cup navy beans, rinsed
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (stack leaves and cut into small ribbons)
  • 2 tbsp Herb Marinade, reserved for dressing
  • 1 heirloom tomato, coarsely diced

Herb Marinade 

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare marinade.
  2. Pound chicken with a mallet to flatten. Place in a small bowl. Cover with ¼ cup marinade, plus enough water to cover chicken completely. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. Heat a medium skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and marinade to the skillet and cook until chicken is no longer pink inside, about 15 minutes.
  4. Place washed greens on a dinner plate. Top with beans.
  5. Remove chicken from skillet. Set on a cutting board and slice into thin strips. Place atop greens and beans. Sprinkle with basil leaves and reserved marinade.
  6. Place heirloom tomatoes around the plate. Serve.

Cost: $5.78 per serving

Shopping Tip: If the greens look wilted, ask the farmer for a fresher bunch. Chances are, they’ll have more to offer if it’s early in the day.

Herb Marinade 

  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender. Pour into a mason jar to store. Use as a dressing or protein marinade. One serving equals two tablespoons.

This marinade is a great way to use up all of your herbs!

Nutrients per serving (about 3 cups): Calories: 386, Total Fats: 12 g, Saturated Fat: 2 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 66 mg, Sodium: 535 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 35 g, Dietary Fiber: 10 g, Sugars: 7 g, Protein: 36 g, Iron: 5 mg

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High fiber links to weight loss and lower bodyweight, making buckwheat a functional and tasty addition to meal plans.

Buckwheat Chicken Salad

Makes: 4 servings

Ready in: 30 minutes

  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1 whole rotisserie cooked chicken breast, shredded (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped dill
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cook buckwheat according to package directions; set aside in large bowl to cool slightly.
  2. While buckwheat cooks, combine chicken, red pepper, broccoli and all remaining ingredients in large bowl and mix until well-combined; stir in buckwheat. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 258, total fat 5 g, saturated fat 1 g, trans fat 0 g, sodium 50 mg, carbs 35 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 2 g, protein 19 g, 1.8 iron mg

More Information:

  • Buckwheat can increase good gut bacteria and decrease bad bacteria.
  • High fiber links to weight loss and lower bodyweight, making buckwheat a functional and tasty addition to meal plans.
  • Red bell peppers are high in vitamin K, essential for bone health.

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Discover why the latest eating trends might not work for you.

If one thing is certain in this world, it’s that no two people are the same. We have different likes, different genetic structures, different goals and most certainly different metabolisms.

So why is it that when we see a friend who’s lost weight, we automatically ask them how we can adopt their diet with the hope of achieving their level of success? This approach is like reading two different books and expecting the endings to be the same.

It’s important to understand how different diet trends may or may not work for you based on your metabolism.

In today’s society, this behavior occurs more frequently thanks to social media and the internet. You see a friend’s progress picture or a popular social media influencer and immediately send them a message asking them to share their secret recipe.

What if I told you that it’s not that simple? What if I told you that each body is so unique that what works for one person might not work for the next?

The metabolism of one person may me completely opposite to the next person. Where one person may see results with a keto diet, another may see results with a high-carbohydrate diet.

It’s important to understand how today’s different diet trends may or may not work for you based on your metabolism.

Your rate of metabolism is based on how you convert food into energy through a process known as oxidation. Which diet works best for you will be dependent on whether you are a fast, slow or balanced oxidizer.

Fast oxidizers are people who do well with heavy protein and fatty foods because they are able to convert protein and fats into energy more efficiently than slow oxidizers. They have strong appetites and eat frequently in order to avoid energy crashes. And unlike slow oxidizers, they usually require a heavy breakfast to get going.

Slow oxidizers are the exact opposite. Because of their slower rate of oxidation, they are unable to get adequate energy from fats and don’t do well with high-fat meals. They require more carbohydrates than fast oxidizers in order to maintain their energy levels. But in contrast to their counterparts, they have poor appetites and don’t require frequent meals.

Balanced oxidizers are as the name implies. They are able to oxidize food into energy equally from all sources. They can consume all three types of macronutrients without depending on any specific one for energy.

So which diets work best based on your metabolism?

Keto Diet

The keto diet is very popular nowadays. It’s highly advocated within the CrossFit world, and many social media influencers praise it as the best way to lose weight and decrease body fat. Keto diets are based on the consumption of protein and high fats with little (less than 50 grams per day) to no consumption of carbohydrates. But the truth is that the keto diet is not for everyone and that many people do not follow it properly.

One of the biggest mistakes people on the keto diet make is high consumption of saturated fats such as bacon.

The biggest mistake most people make is they increase their fat intake disproportionately and consume high amounts of saturated fats such as bacon and lots of red meats when they should be consuming unsaturated fats such as avocados, red fish, olive oil and nuts. Even more important is your type of metabolism. This diet is particularly useful for people who are considered to have a fast-oxidizing metabolism but not as helpful for slow oxidizers.

Paleo Diet

Not to be confused with the keto diet, the Paleo diet is based on the idea that one should consume foods that were found during the Paleolithic period. Basically, no processed foods or foods that are a result of the agricultural boom. This means no starches, dairy, breads, grains, legumes or pasta to name a few. The Paleo diet can be adapted to most metabolic types. However, it works best with fast oxidizers because of its limited carbohydrate sources, and in many cases, it can become limiting and isn’t necessarily feasible long term.

Intermittent fasting doesn’t limit the types of food you consume, but the time in which you consume them.

Intermittent Fasting

Possibly the best option for slow oxidizers, intermittent fasting is based on consuming all your daily calories within an eight-hour window during the day. Unlike other diets, intermittent fasting does not limit the types of food you can consume but rather the time in which you consume them. One should still eat foods with a high nutritional value such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes and complex carbohydrates with very minimal processed or refined foods. This is ideal for slow oxidizers because they take longer to convert the food into energy and can go for longer periods without food intake.

Mediterranean Diet

The word diet shouldn’t really be applied when one decides to follow this eating habit because the Mediterranean diet is not restrictive in what you eat but rather encourages the consumption of heart-healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood, nuts, legumes and olive oil while limiting sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods. Balanced oxidizers do very well on this type of nutritional plan because of their ability to use different nutrients as potential fuel sources.

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Your go-to glass of hydration may help you shed extra pounds.

In the summer, drinking cold water to cool off is a no-brainer, but recent research shows that it also can temporarily boost metabolism up to 40 percent.

A cold water habit could help you loose 5 pounds a year.

Drinking 48 ounces of cold water daily can cause you to burn an extra 50 calories per day, which might not sound like much, but over the course of a year, that adds up to 5 pounds! Researchers theorize that you expend extra energy to bring cold water up to body temperature, which is why you don’t experience the same results from warm or hot water. 

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According to research, your cheese addiction is not your fault.

According to recent statistics, the average American downs 11 pounds of cheese in a year. That’s a lotta cheddar. But this urge to glut might not (totally) be your fault.

According to research, your cheese addiction is not your fault.

Cheese contains casein, which has been shown to induce the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to feelings of pleasure, and according to research published in PLOS One, higher-fat foods have been linked to pleasure receptors in your brain. 

The upshot is that cheese is a great source of protein and calcium, and some early research even suggests that casein could have anti-cancer and antioxidant properties. However, the lactose and high-fat and salt content in cheese can make it problematic for those who are sensitive to dairy or have high blood pressure, so limit accordingly.

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Protect your health with these immune-boosting nutrition tips.

You are what you eat — and what you eat can make or break your immunity. A poor diet that delivers empty calories and artificial ingredients into your body combined with an intense exercise regimen, lack of sleep and stress can compromise your immune system, making you more prone to injury and putting a halt to your results. Bulletproof your health with these research-backed nutritional strategies and avoid being bedridden by bad bugs.

Keep Quality Carbohydrates

Carbs are getting a bad rap these days, especially with the popularity of the ketogenic diet, but they happen to be the main fuel source for athletes and the preferred source of fuel for your brain. However, the kind of carbohydrates you ingest affects not only your brain power and physical strength but also your immunity. Simple sugars (glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey) such as are found in candy and soda can negatively impact immunity by hampering the ability of white blood cells to engulf and kill invading bacteria by as much as 50 percent, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Complex carbs did not cause the same problem, according to the same study: They are slower to digest, thereby stabilizing blood sugar levels, reducing your stress response, decreasing cortisol and moderating the undesired activation of immune cells. The soluble fiber found in complex carbs such as oatmeal, broccoli and carrots also helps remove toxins from the gut and acts as a prebiotic to nourish the good bacteria that reside in there, and which comprise a good portion of your immune system.

Whenever possible, skip sugary and processed foods and stick to complex and fibrous carbohydrates. If you’re training intensely, carbs should make up 40 to 50 percent of your daily diet. If you’re training more moderately, you can cut that back to about 30 percent. But no matter what your intensity level, eat your carbs close to workout time: Recent research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that eating carbs during or after a tough workout helps boost your immune system.

Power Up Your Postworkout Protein

Having protein after training can help accelerate muscle gains and speed recovery, but it also can improve immunity: The antibodies that fight disease are made of protein, so ingesting quality protein after training supplies your body with all it needs to repair and rebuild muscle tissue as well as fight infection. Certain amino acids also help fight inflammation, and proteins that contain zinc such as lean beef, beans and seafood help with the production of infection-fighting white blood cells.

As an athlete, you should err on the higher side of the intake spectrum, getting about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Choose a variety of clean sources like lean meats, turkey breast, eggs, fish, whey and plant-based protein powders.

Guarantee you’re getting vitamin D by taking a supplement in the morning.

Don’t Forget D3

Vitamin D is essential for athletes and has been shown in research to boost athletic performance and to reduce abdominal fat. In terms of immunity, vitamin D can reduce your risk of infectious disease by triggering a strong anti-microbial response to fight off unwanted invaders, stopping infection and disease before they even start.

However, even if you live somewhere sunny, you could still be deficient in vitamin D, especially if you are conscientious and use your daily sunscreen. Supplement in the morning with 1,000 IUs of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), the natural form your body makes as a reaction to sunlight, either with or without food.

Include probiotic foods such as yogurt in your weekly diet.

Be Pro-Active

It’s estimated that 70 to 80 percent of the immune system originates in the gut, and the 10 trillion microorganisms that reside there are mostly responsible for your overall health. Probiotics can help improve digestion and optimize overall health by balancing the “good” and the “bad” bacteria, which is especially important for athletes who are training hard and constantly asking their bodies to perform: Research in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that athletes had 40 percent fewer colds and gastrointestinal issues when they took a probiotic as compared to those who took a placebo.

Include probiotic foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut and sourdough bread in your weekly diet, and/or choose a probiotic supplement that contains live bacteria to keep your GI tract in the pink.

Cutting Calories = Colds and Flu

It’s common practice to reduce calorie intake when trying to lose fat quickly, but under-eating can do more harm than good. Research from Michigan State University found that cutting back on calories can make you more susceptible to the flu. The reason? With fewer fat stores, your body breaks down your lean tissue to help fight infection, decreasing your metabolic rate. In addition, levels of leptin — the hormone that controls appetite and makes you feel full — decrease when you’re hungry. And because leptin helps regulate basal metabolic rate, a reduction means your metabolism comes to a screeching halt. Low leptin levels also initiate an inflammatory response, further compromising immunity.

Instead of slashing calories, adjust your macronutrient balance to optimize your fat-loss potential, and be satisfied to lose at a slower rate.

Water Works

Staying hydrated is often the most difficult task to master on a daily basis, but maintaining good hydration ensures your blood carries enough oxygen and nutrients to cells, flushes toxins, prevents insomnia and can even reduce your risk of depression. Water also helps produce lymph, which circulates white blood cells, and keeps your eyes, nose and mouth clean to repel dirt, dust and parasites. Furthermore, without adequate water, your GI tract is susceptible to bacterial overgrowth, compromising immunity.

Make it your goal to drink one large glass of water per hour. Add a little lemon to your H2O and get a boost of vitamin C to help fight colds and protect cells, help digestion and aid in detoxification. 

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Don’t be humdrum with your hydration — these beverages deliver big body benefits.

Water is involved in every bodily function from performance to digestion to temperature regulation and nutrient absorption. And while plain water is great on its own, sometimes adding a couple of vitamins, minerals or superfoods can ratchet up its dietary value. Here’s a selection of heathy, enhanced beverages categorized by their research-backed benefits to consider for your next hydration boost.

Muscle Makeover

Research in The Journal of Nutrition shows that getting adequate amounts of branched-chain amino acids such as leucine, isoleucine and valine may reduce the duration of exercise fatigue and improve muscle protein synthesis. Electrolytes such as potassium and calcium help maintain fluid balance and assist with muscle contractions, and caffeine can improve physical performance and signal the body to break down fat for energy, according to research published in Food Science and Biotechnology.

Sip It

Ultima Replenisher electrolyte drink mix, sweetened with organic stevia, replaces electrolytes and minerals lost through sweat and exercise to promote hydration and prevent cramping.

$20 (20 stickpacks), ultimareplenisher.com or amazon.com

Oikos Pro Fuel delivers 25 grams of protein, about 20 grams of carbs and 100 milligrams of caffeine for optimal replenishment.

$2-$2.50, retailers nationwide

Celsius BCAA recovery drink contains 2.5 grams of BCAAs per bottle as well as vitamin D3, electrolytes, tart cherry juice and caffeine to energize your workouts and promote recovery.

$25 (12-pack), celsius.com or amazon.com

Gut Great

Balancing and bolstering your gut flora with prebiotics and probiotics can boost immunity, improve energy and facilitate fat loss. And the more diverse the species and strains of microorganisms in your microbiome, the better your metabolism, brain function and immune response, according to research published in Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases. Dietary fiber is also key, and research published in Science revealed that the byproducts released by your gut microbiota during fiber digestion bolster intestinal cells and help your body break down food more efficiently.

Sip It

Good Culture Wellness Probiotic Gut Shots contain 50 billion live and active cultures and 12 live and active strains, as well as turmeric, matcha, chaga and collagen to support total-body health.

$6, goodculture.com

Tropicana Essentials Fiber drinks contain 100 percent juice and 4 grams of fiber per serving.

$3.50 (32 oz), tropicana.com

OWYN plant-based shakes are fortified with 5 grams of fiber to feed your microbiome and contain very little sugar to prevent inflammation.

$20 (4-pack), liveowyn.com or $36 (12-pack), amazon.com

Up Your Immunity

When it comes to immune function, fortifying yourself with antioxidants is a smart move, and anti-inflammatory ingredients are popular add-ins for commercial drinks. Curcumin — the active ingredient in turmeric — is even being looked at as a possible anti-cancer element. Anthocyanins — the phytochemicals responsible for the blue, red, pink and purple hues in berries and grapes — are another power player and, according to the Journal of Gerontology, may prevent neurological diseases, reduce the incidence of cancer and combat inflammation.

Sip It

Kabaki Kenyan Purple Tea contains plenty of anthocyanins, is low in caffeine and comes in five flavors.

$3, kabakitea.com or amazon.com

Bai Antioxidant Infusion is made with coffee fruit, a cherry-like superfood, and delivers free-radical-fighting antioxidants and a big energy boost.

$2, drinkbai.com or amazon.com

Numi Organic Tea Daily Super Shots are nutrient-dense drinks that fuse the power of fruits, roots, herbs and spices.

$4, numitea.com or amazon.com

Superior Sleep

Getting a full night’s rest is always a win when it comes to optimizing recovery, and ingredients like GABA and melatonin can help promote more restorative sleep. Tart cherry juice has been shown to increase the quality and quantity of sleep, according to researchers at Northumbria University in England, and CBD oil has been shown to help decrease inflammation and boost oxygen uptake, helping flush out excess lactic acid.

Sip It

Cherrish contains 96 Montmorency tart cherries per 12-ounce bottle to regulate blood sugar and metabolism, speed recovery, and ease joint and muscle soreness.

$35 (12-pack), cherrish.net or amazon.com

O2+ Hemp CBD drink delivers 10 milligrams of broad-spectrum hemp extract, seven times the oxygen of tap water and twice the electrolytes of traditional sports drinks.

$4, drinko2.com

Som Sleep contains a blend of L-theanine, GABA and melatonin to help your brain and body fall easily into restorative sleep.

$30 (12-pack), getsom.com or amazon.com

Energy Allies

When it comes to training, caffeine can help improve focus, exercise performance and fat burning, and research out of Georgia State University found that caffeine improved muscular endurance and strength, particularly in movements that use larger muscle groups. Ingredients such as matcha can boost cognitive performance and reaction time, and capsaicin, when paired with caffeine, increases focus and attention.

Sip It

Optimum Nutrition Essential Amin.O. Energy Plus Electrolytes provides 5 grams of amino acids, a bevy of electrolytes and 100 milligrams of natural caffeine to power up your training sesh.

$25 (12-count), optimumnutrition.com or amazon.com

Hint Kick caffeinated water is free of artificial sweeteners and contains 60 milligrams of caffeine per bottle.

$20 (12-pack), drinkhint.com or amazon.com

Kitu Super Coffee Triple Shot Espresso drink contains L-theanine for added focus and 180 milligrams of caffeine.

$2.50, drinksupercoffee.com

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It turns out this mild, flaky whitefish, which happens to be the most abundant, certified-sustainable fish in the world, is one of the best protein choices for optimizing muscle growth.

The global pandemic has many of us considering new ways to maximize our health and the health of our families. Fitness regimens are being reimagined at home, and the hunt for nutritious, affordable and easy-to-cook staples is on the rise. 

When it comes to reaching our fitness goals, there is perhaps no more important variable to the nutrition equation than protein. But not all protein is created equal. When choosing a protein, considerations abound. Yes, it’s important to ensure we’re weighing nutrition qualities, but we also want to consider how the protein was sourced, its taste and ease of preparation.

Trident Foods / Photo Credit: Scott Pitts

It’s hard to check all those boxes at once. Yet Wild Alaska Pollock does. It’s a tender, flaky and mild whitefish that is incredibly versatile and lends itself to countless recipes. It’s also one of the best protein choices we can make for the planet. Wild-caught in the pristine icy waters of Alaska, pollock is the most abundant, certified-sustainable fish in the world.

And while it’s one of the most consumed fish in the United States, often associated with Gorton’s yellow bags containing the fish sticks we all know and love, Wild Alaska Pollock’s nutritional profile remains a best-kept secret.

Study Shows Wild Alaska Pollock’s Better Protein Quality

When studying foods for their protein value, net protein utilization (NPU) represents the proportion of protein absorbed into the body. NPU is a critical factor for athletes and all fitness junkies looking for a better way to enhance muscle synthesis, aka muscle mass.

New data from an independent research study conducted by Nippon Suisan Kaisha in Japan shows Wild Alaska Pollock has a near-perfect NPU — outcompeting milk, beef and soy and rivaling that of the egg, often called the gold standard for measuring protein quality.

The study shows that consuming this fish increases the width of fast-twitch muscle fibers, the type of muscle that provides for both explosive movement and muscle mass. Remarkably, it also found that intake of Wild Alaska Pollock increases muscle mass even without additional exercise, particularly in the lower extremities.

Rounding out its nutritional merits, one 3-ounce serving of Wild Alaska Pollock provides 20 grams of protein, 90 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, 10 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin D and potassium, 22 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance of omega-3 fatty acids and 130 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin B12.

Discover Easy Preparations and New Products

Naturally nutritious, Wild Alaska Pollock is available in fresh and frozen product varieties. And with more and more people searching for tasty frozen fish options to cook at home, as indicated by a recent increase in frozen seafood sales, Wild Alaska Pollock is the perfect choice. Wild-caught and processed within hours of harvest, wild Alaska Pollock is quick and easy to prepare, and it is a great vehicle for seasonal and ethnic flavors.

The Wild Alaska power grain bowl, recipe follows below, is a great summer dish to explore the versatility of this mild and tender whitefish. Discover the wide variety of tasty Wild Alaska Pollock products and try some of the newest offerings, including One for Neptune’s White Fish Jerky — a great snack for active lifestyles — or the new burger in town, Power Packed Pollock Burgers.

If you’re looking for a high-quality, sustainable protein that will help you achieve your health and fitness goals while satisfying your cravings, look no further than the planet’s best-kept-secret: Wild Alaska Pollock.

Wild Alaska Pollock Power Grain Bowl

The summer greens and fresh herbs enhance simply prepared baked fish for a healthy yet protein-packed salad. 

Recipe created by chef Dan Churchill

Ready in: 20 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless Wild Alaska Pollock fillets
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 head broccoli, sliced into florets
  • 1½ cups quinoa
  • 2 ½ cups water

For serving:

  • 4 cups fresh greens, such as baby spinach, baby kale or mixed greens
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon or lime

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 F. Pat Wild Alaska Pollock fillets dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over broccoli florets and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add broccoli to a sheet tray and place into oven to roast 15 to 20 minutes, or until beginning to crisp.

Heat ovenproof pan over medium-low and sear fillets on one side for 3 minutes. Transfer entire pan to oven for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, or until Wild Alaska Pollock is completely cooked through. Note: You can bake the fish at the same time your broccoli roasts!

While Wild Alaska Pollock finishes cooking, prepare quinoa. Combine quinoa with 2½ cups water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until cooked, about 11 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Once everything is complete, assemble bowls. Place greens at the base, followed by quinoa, Wild Alaska Pollock, broccoli and toppings. Serve and enjoy!

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Plan ahead and make these healthy and hearty meals that go quickly from fridge to fork — just heat and eat!

Imagine a life where dinner is ready when you get home from work, where snacks are grab-and-go and breakfast miraculously appears from your freezer. No more greasy takeout. No more cardboard frozen pizza.

Yes, that life could be yours.

Make-ahead meals are timesaving treasures. With a little planning and a dash of foresight, you can create nutritious fare for every meal all week long!

Learn how to master meal prep and make dining at home easy.

Make-Ahead Metrics

Mastering meal prep allows you to stay on top of your nutrition game, whether your goals are fat loss, building muscle or maintenance. Here’s how to make it happen.

Create a Menu

Meal prepping doesn’t mean you have to eat the same things all the time. That’s the beauty of building a menu. First, write down things you like to eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner, including a couple of different options to prevent boredom. Then see how they could fit into a weekly table that complements your schedule.

Make a Grocery List

Create a grocery checklist based on your menu, and be sure to include the amounts of each item you will need to buy to accurately create your recipes without wasting food. For example, the Make-Ahead Meal-Plan Grocery List includes enough food for a week’s worth of meals and snacks.

Shop for Supplies

Hit the store, grocery list in hand, and buy your needed items. In addition, make sure you purchase plenty of zip-close bags and airtight food containers to store your prepped food, as well as masking tape or stickers to label and date your meals.

Prep, Prep, Prep

Once home, it’s time to get busy. Lay out all your ingredients and containers and give yourself about two hours to prepare all your food. Some recipes make more servings than others, so pay attention to the directions in the Make-Ahead Recipes (as well as your own), doubling them, if necessary, to ensure you have enough food for an entire week. Once cooked, parcel out your meals into individual containers or baggies, and label them with a name, portion size and date.

Allot Snack Space

Many snacks don’t need cooking, so assign these to a large drawer in your refrigerator or a shelf in your pantry. Stock these spaces with healthy grab-and-go snacks such as apples, string cheese, sliced veggies, yogurt, hummus, raisins, popcorn, natural fruit leathers and the like.

Create a Meal Plan

Once your prep is complete, outline a weekly schedule that delineates what you’re going to have for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner every day of the week. For an example, look over the sample Make-Ahead Meal Plan. Before bed, organize everything you’ll be eating the next day so you’re ready.

Monitor Inventory

Like a restaurant manager, it’s your job to keep track of your meal supply and to replenish your inventory before you run out so you don’t leave your nutrition up to chance.

Family-Style Meals

These tasty and nutritious meals are an easy sell, and because they’re so easy to make ahead, you’ll have more time to spend with your fam! Double the ingredients for a family of four or to have leftovers for extra meals during the week.

Add your seasoning blend of choice to this shredded chicken breast recipe.

Slow-Cooker Shredded Chicken Breast

Makes: 10-12 Servings

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 4-6+ Hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp seasoning blend of choice (e.g., Montreal chicken or garlic and herb blend)
  • 2 tbsp salted butter

DIRECTIONS

Place chicken in a slow cooker. Add broth and seasoning to a bowl and stir. Pour over chicken. Place butter in center, cover and cook on low at least 6 hours (4 if cooking on high). Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and place in a large airtight container. Use 2 forks to shred, then pour some of the remaining liquid from the pot onto chicken, if desired. Allow to cool before refrigerating.

Tip: The longer and slower the chicken is allowed to cook, the juicier it will be.

Nutrition Facts (per serving= 5.4 ounces): calories 157, fat5 g, protein 26 g, sodium 84 mg, carbs 0 g, fiber 0 g, sugar 0 g

Sheet Pan Chicken and Asparagus

Sheet Pan Chicken and Asparagus

Makes: 2 Servings

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cook Time: 20-22 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp chopped or crushed garlic
  • 2 (4-6 oz each) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 large asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 5 lemon slices (optional)
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, honey, pepper, salt and garlic. Add chicken and toss to coat. Place chicken and asparagus on prepared sheet and drizzle remaining marinade over top. Place lemon slices on both chicken and asparagus, if using, then sprinkle cheese on asparagus. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil, flip chicken and stir asparagus and cook another 5 to 7 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 253, fat 5 g, protein 31 g, sodium 416 mg, carbs 24 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 19 g

Sheet Pan Protein Pancakes

Sheet Pan Protein Pancakes

Makes: 6 Servings

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Bake Time: 15 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup oat flour
  • ¾ cup buckwheat flour (You can sub rolled or ground oats.)
  • ½ cup vanilla whey protein powder
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk or milk of choice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line an 18-inch-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, egg yolk, butter and vanilla. Slowly pour milk mixture into dry ingredients, whisking until combined. Pour batter onto prepared sheet, tilting sheet to spread evenly. Bake on middle rack 10 to 12 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until pancake is slightly golden. Remove and slice into 12 squares. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

Nutrition Facts (per serving= 2 squares): calories 251, fat6 g, protein 20 g, sodium 847 mg, carbs 30 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 13 g

French Onion and Mushroom Quinoa

Makes: 4 Servings

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cook Time: 35-40 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 2 cups dry quinoa
  • 1 packet French onion dip mix
  • 3½ cups water

Tip: A French onion dip mix has less sodium than a French onion soup mix, so read the labels carefully if you’re watching your salt intake.

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute until mushrooms are soft, about 3 minutes. Add water, quinoa and French onion dip mix and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 15 minutes. Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Tip: If any liquid remains or the quinoa is still crunchy, return it to the pot and cook on low 5 more minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.

Nutrition Facts (per serving= 3 ounces): calories 292, fat7 g, protein 9 g, sodium 516 mg, carbs 49 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 0 g

Make-Ahead Meal-Plan Grocery List

Freezer Meals

Your freezer is good for more than just ice cream. These recipes are healthy and hearty, and since they’ve already been prepped, they are easy to heat and eat in a pinch.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burrito

Makes: 6 Servings

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

Cook Time: 30-60 Seconds

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk of choice
  • dash salt and pepper
  • 6 low-calorie 9-inch whole- wheat tortillas*
  • 6 oz shredded low-fat American cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked

DIRECTIONS

Add eggs, milk, salt and pepper to a large bowl and whisk lightly. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium. Add egg mixture and cook, stirring continually, until no liquid remains, 3 to 5 minutes. To each tortilla, add 1 ounce cheese and 1 slice bacon. Divide eggs evenly between tortillas and fold in sides. Roll up and place seam-side down to cool. Then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a large zip-close bag to freeze. When ready to eat, remove wrap and microwave 60 to 90 seconds, or until warmed through.

These burritos can last up to three months in the freezer!

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 320, fat 18 g, protein 31 g, sodium 1,028 mg, carbs 21 g, fiber 14 g, sugar 2 g 

*Low-carb, 60-calorie tortillas were used in the nutrition analysis.

PB and Banana Sandwiches

PB and Banana Sandwiches

Makes: 10 Sandwiches

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 20 slices soft wheat bread*
  • 10 tbsp all-natural peanut butter
  • 5 medium bananas, sliced

DIRECTIONS

Spread 1 tablespoon peanut butter on each of 10 slices of bread. Evenly divide banana slices on remaining 10 slices. Place peanut-butter bread on top of banana bread and press together lightly. Cut in half and place each sandwich in a zip-close bag to freeze. Thaw at room temperature 30 to 60 minutes before eating.

Tip: Place a frozen sandwich in your cooler bag in the morning — it will be thawed and ready to eat at lunch!

Nutrition Facts (per sandwich): calories 343, fat 17 g, protein 14 g, sodium 361 mg, carbs 37 g, fiber 9 g, sugar 9 g

*The bread used was 45 calories per slice.

Taco Lasagna

Makes: 9 Servings

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 Minutes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lb ground beef (90-93% lean)
  • 1 packet low-sodium taco seasoning
  • 9 low-calorie 9-inch whole- wheat tortillas*
  • 1 (16-oz) can fat-free refried beans
  • 16 oz low-fat shredded Mexican-style cheese

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add ground beef and seasoning packet and cook until browned. Drain and set aside. In a large casserole or baking dish, assemble lasagna: Lay 2 tortillas in the bottom side by side. Spread refried beans on top and then evenly spread meat and cheese on top. Continue layering in this manner with remaining ingredients, finishing with a layer of tortillas and some reserved cheese to sprinkle on top. Cover and freeze. When ready to eat, preheat oven to 350 F and cook, covered, 20 minutes. Then remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.

Tip: Pop this recipe out of the freezer 30 to 60 minutes before baking or allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 8 ounces; does not include toppings): calories 351, fat 17 g, protein 39 g, sodium 792 mg, carbs 16 g, fiber 9 g, sugar 0 g

*Low-carb, 60-calorie tortillas were used in the nutrition analysis.

Optional Toppings

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Guacamole
  • Mexican-style corn
  • Hot sauce
  • Pico de galloScallions
  • Low-fat/fat-free sour cream
  • Scallions
  • Cilantro

Snack Attach

Having healthy foods on hand is key for preventing a snaccident. These recipes are quick and easy to make and to help keep you on track.

DIY Power Bento Box

Makes: 5 Servings

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Babybel cheese rounds (original flavor)
  • 5 small apples, sliced
  • 5 packets peanut or almond butter
  • 5 100-calorie snack bars
  • 1¼ cups sliced fresh veggies of choice

DIRECTIONS

Divide ingredients evenly into compartmented containers. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 501, fat 32 g, protein 18 g, sodium 455 mg, carbs 39 g, fiber 11 g, sugar 22 g

Tip: Place a paper napkin in each bento container for a tidy snack!

Froyo Bites

Makes: 12-14 Bites

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes

Freeze Time: 2+ Hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 oz cashews
  • 1 oz blueberries
  • 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt

DIRECTIONS

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Divide mixture evenly in mini muffin pan cups or an ice-cube tray. Freeze at least 2 hours. Let sit 10 minutes at room temperature before eating.

Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 bite): calories 37, fat 1 g, protein 2 g, sodium 12 mg, carbs 5 g, fiber 0 g, sugar 3 g

Make-Ahead Yogurt Parfaits

Make-Ahead Yogurt Parfaits

Makes: 5 Servings

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1¼ cups diced fruit of choice
  • 1¼ cups low-sugar granola
  • 1 (32-oz) container nonfat plain Greek yogurt

DIRECTIONS

To each container, add ¼ cup fruit and ¼ cup granola and top with 6 ounces yogurt. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 238, fat 2 g, protein 21 g, sodium 178 mg, carbs 34 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 14 g

Smooth Move

Are smoothies your jam? You can make these ahead, as well. Fill a baggie with your favorite smoothie ingredients — Greek yogurt, fruit, spinach, protein powder, flaxseeds, etc. When you’re ready to eat, just dump the contents into your blender and whip away. You also can make a large batch of smoothie ahead of time and portion it out into small freezer bags, ice-cube trays or muffin tins for use later on.

Stock Your Staples

To go with the Make-Ahead Recipes and Meal Plan, you’ll need to execute these tasks:

  • Hard-boil a dozen large eggs.
  • Steam 1½ cups of dry brown rice.
  • Cook 1 cup dry high-protein pasta.
  • Steam 5 to 8 cups veggies of choice.

Make-Ahead Meal Plan

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Feed your muscles and torch fat with this postworkout meal!

A balanced carb and protein meal like this is ideal for after a weight training workout. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you torch per day.

Crunchy Chicken Salad Pita

Ready in: 10 minutes

Makes: 1 serving

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 1/2 cup roasted chicken, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red grapes, cut in half
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 tbsp walnuts, chopped

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
  • Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 whole wheat pita
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves

Instructions

  1. Set aside chopped chicken, grapes, celery and walnuts in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir together dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour dressing over chicken and toss to combine.
  3. Serve in pita half lined with lettuce. Serving Tip: Double this recipe and save the other half for another meal.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 314, Total Fats: 10 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 54 mg, Sodium: 236 mg, Total Carbohydrates: 33 g, Dietary Fiber: 4.5 g, Sugars: 12 g, Protein: 27 g, Iron: 2.5 mg

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