Meal Planning 101

Meal Planning 101

I get a lot of questions from clients about how to plan meals. While meal planning is seen as tedious, it’s best to start with a few simple tenets. Consider these points first before you start your plan:

  1. Do you like to cook or need more convenient type foods?
  2. What do you like to eat? Do you prefer vegetarian or animal-based meals?
  3. How often do you eat out? To meal plan, consider how many meals you are not eating at home.
  4. What can you afford? Do you shop at discount or high end grocery stores?
  5. Do you have any health conditions to keep in mind? Are you trying to prevent diabetes, weight gain or trying to lower cholesterol and blood pressure? Or, are you seeking to gain weight or improve your energy levels?
  6. Do you have food allergies or intolerances that modify your eating habits?

Balanced meals are just that- balanced. They include all (or most) food groups in order to give your body all the nutrients it needs. Studies show that the more diverse your diet is, the more robust your microbiome (gut bacteria), which helps protect your immune system. Can you manage without dairy products? Of course- but you’ll still want a decent calcium source from either a dairy substitute or calcium/vitamin D supplement.

Should you eat low carb or high carb? This depends on your goals. A lower carb diet may help with weight loss and blood sugar reduction, but may also be difficult to follow long term, especially during the holidays. How about reducing the amount of treats you eat and making a switch from white rice to brown rice? Or adding an extra serving of vegetables and having a smaller serving of grains at each meal? These little tweaks may help you with your health goals rather than having to give up an entire food group.

Do you make a list when you shop? If not, you should. Include foods that you will actually eat. Sure, avocados are in vogue right now, but if you don’t like them or will let them sit on your counter and rot, then don’t buy them. Why not use guacamole for your “avocado” toast? It’s convenient and you may be more likely to use it. Are you bringing food that you purchased with you for snacks or meals at work? If not, why not? Food is for eating!

Breakfast is optional. If you’re not hungry in the morning, I give you permission to skip it. BUT- only if you’re NOT overeating at lunch, dinner and at night. Sometimes people aren’t hungry in the morning simply because they eat too much before they go to bed. Take a real look at what times of day you are eating and why. My advice is that if you’re not hungry, don’t eat. Spread your food out throughout the day for more balanced energy. Include high fiber foods (fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts or seeds) and high protein foods (beans, meat/fish, tofu or dairy products- cottage cheese, string cheese, Greek yogurt). These keep you feeling fuller, longer and may help you snack less.

Keep some staples on hand for when you’re in a time crunch. These are a few of my favorite meals: black beans & whole wheat tortillas with salsa & shredded cheese, scrambled eggs and toast with a side of fruit, stir fried chicken and vegetables with brown rice. Other than thawing the chicken, these meals can be made fairly quickly without a lot of prep time needed.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up for not having every last morsel in your diet planned. That takes all the fun out of eating. Your meals don’t have to be 100% perfect and neither do you. Remember to include fruits and vegetables every day and a few whole grains per day. Reduce empty calories from chips, candy, cookies, soda and alcohol. Drink more water and get 7-8 hours sleep every night. Your health will improve without drastic measures. Give yourself time.

Cyber Sale- use code BF20

Cyber Sale- use code BF20

While I’m not a fan of stores being open on Thanksgiving day, as a small business owner, I have to take advantage of all the Black Friday/Cyber Monday/small business madness. And- there is no shame in shopping in your PJs after a big Thanksgiving dinner!

SO- if you have “thyme” (tee hee), check out my Lettuce Beet Hunger giving program and food pun shop. I am not an artistic person in the crafty sense, but I do have a knack with words. Food is my muse. I have over 20 designs ranging from Bada Bing to We could be gyros. All designs and sayings are “clean”, meaning you won’t make your grandma blush when she reads it.

Food pun tees, totes, notecards, mugs, onesies and more make great gifts for chefs, dietitians, foodies, health coaches and really, anyone that loves to eat.

Do me a “flavor” and check them out!

Peas n tanks!


Mocha Almond Granola with Cinnamon

Mocha Almond Granola with Cinnamon

Anyone that knows me, knows that the way to my heart is through coffee. I love the smell, taste and overall experience of it. So when given an opportunity to cook with it? I said, GAME ON!

I am taking part of a recipe contest through @purity_coffee and created a simple granola using their sample. Purity Coffee is an organic coffee that is roasted where the antioxidants in the coffee are maximized and acrylamide (a compound that is produced through the roasting process), is minimized. The beans are also tested for pesticides and other contaminants and beans are selected when they do not contain these impurities.

Traditional granola can be fairly high in fat and sugar. Recipes often use coconut oil, brown or white sugar and/or honey. I opted for a few tablespoons of maple syrup and added mini chocolate chips at the end for sweetness. Below is my recipe.


1/4 cup whole bean Purity coffee, coursely ground

2 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup dry quinoa

3/4 cup almond slivers

2 tsp. cinnamon

3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the ground coffee, rolled oats, quinoa, almond slivers and cinnamon in a large bowl and combine together.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and canola oil.A
  4. Add the maple syrup mixture to the rolled oat blend and toss to coat
  5. Spread a single layer of the mixture on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and bake an additional 15 minutes until oats and quinoa are toasted.
  7. Let cool for 2-30 minutes, then add the chocolate chips in.

Makes 6 servings.

@purity_coffee @livingplate #PurityCoffeeRD #samples #recipe #contest


Thanksgiving recipe! Spinach salad with apples, cherries & pecans

Thanksgiving recipe! Spinach salad with apples, cherries & pecans

Good Lord- Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away! There is no good reason why you can’t be the hero and bring this beautiful seasonal salad to dinner.

This salad starts with spinach, which is a great source of lutein and beta-carotene. These nutrients help prevent macular degeneration and night blindness, respectively. It’s also a source of potassium, which helps lower blood pressure during this stressful holiday season. Add a crisp apple or two, chopped pecans and dried cherries, and you’re set.

This recipe calls for blue cheese, which I consider the Brussels sprouts of cheese. It’s quite polarizing. You either love it or hate it. You can always substitute feta cheese or leave the cheese out. Chopped walnuts or almonds could be used in place of pecans and raisins or dried cranberries would work in place of dried cherries.

You’ll be surprised at how LITTLE salad dressing you need for this salad. I prefer to taste mostly salad and keep my dressing light when I make salad. This also saves calories and fat in the recipe.

Enjoy and have a happy, healthy holiday!



1 bag baby spinach leaves

1/3 cup dried cherries (cranberries may be substituted)

1 Granny Smith or other tart/firm apple

2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 Tbsp. crumbled Bleu cheese or feta cheese


1/3 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. honey


Wash & dry spinach leaves and place in a large bowl.

Wash and cut the apples into small chunks and add to spinach.

Add chopped nuts, cherries and cheese crumbles.

Mix ingredients for dressing.

Drizzle dressing over salad (and toss) right before serving.

Makes 6 servings.  Nutrition information per serving:  194 calories, 16 grams fat, 3.4 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrate, 2.5 grams fiber, 1 mg cholesterol, 338 mg sodium.


Food pun swag sale- great for dietitians, chefs and more!

Food pun swag sale- great for dietitians, chefs and more!

If you’re not a dietitian, you’ll wonder what the heck FNCE means. It stands for Food, Nutrition, Conference & Expo and is one of the largest (if not largest) food and nutrition conferences in the US. It is sponsored by AND (the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics) and celebrates dietitians and other food and health professionals globally. There are updates on nutrition-related topics on weight management, diabetes, heart health, functional foods, culinary arts and more. It’s a 4-day event full of networking, new food products and cutting edge education.

This year it was held in downtown Philly, right near the famous Reading terminal market. Philly is full of history and great food. It could not have been a more perfect city to host this big foodie fest. The convention center in Philadelphia was massive but perfect to hold over 10.000 dietitians in attendance.

One thing “missing” this year (according to my friends and colleagues) was a food pun tee or swag booth. Almost every year, there is at least ONE company selling some form of food pun swag, be it tee shirts, mugs, totes or badge reels. This year, that was not present. Many food companies have adopted food puns, which brings me great joy.

I never miss an opportunity to wear and share my own line of food pun items. I will most certainly have a booth at the conference next year in Indianapolis. Serving Ohio as president this year took me to lots of meetings at FNCE, so the shirts did not make it, except on my own back. Stalker (shown here) got plenty of laughs.

In honor of FNCE, I’m offering a 19% discount on all food pun items until Friday at midnight. Grab a gift for a foodie friend. They are great for chefs, dietitians or anyone who loves to eat and has a sense of humor. Use FNCE19 at check out.

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