My co-worker Claudia Rodriguez and I are always trying to figure out new and exciting meals for lunch. Since we're restricted in terms of time and only have a small counter and a microwave for prepping, we have to be creative and semi frill-less. Not only that, but as a Vegetarian, Claudia has really gotten me into trying alternative sources of protein and nutrients than what I've always used to - love that! This week, we wanted to make something that utilized the black beans and lentils that we already had in the refrigerator, and thought maybe a play on taco salad would be exciting. To our delight, it turned out WONDERFULLY and we were both BEYOND excited to keep telling each other how amazing it was in between mouthfuls....
The Bomb Bag
In a large ziplock bag we combined:
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup lentils
1/2 cup black beans
1 oz shredded carrots
3 sliced Persian (mini) cucumbers
1/2 cup shredded cheese (3 cheese mix)
Salt & Pepper
(we really wanted avocado too but they were hard as rocks at the store)
From there, we shook it like a salt shaker, split the contents between 2 large plates (paper plates because we like to be fancy), and doused our yummy creation in lots of lime. Our creative baggie meal came out to 330 calories per serving and I'm definitely making it again!
Not everyone can make their own meals as much as preferred, which is why Love Fit Life is starting the Check Please series! Since eating out is a challenging area for me, I'm always searching for tricks, advice, and methods for keeping my cool at restaurants, bars, fast food joints, etc... Here's some things I'm focusing on right now:
- Take control and plan ahead as much as possible. Have you ever had that conversation that goes something like...
"Where should we go eat?"
"I don't know, where do you want to go"
"Hmm, I don't know either, do you have anywhere in mind?"
"No, dude, I'm just hungry..."
Yah, me too! In my experience, these conversations often lead me to eating somewhere with more unhealthy choices than healthy ones. So, I started taking control. I began making a list in my phone of all the good options around the area (and other areas that I go out to eat depending on where friends are). This way, when the "I don't know" conversation starts, I can say (for example), "Let's go to Tender Greens, it's pretty new in the area and has really good salads, sandwiches, soup, etc.." CHA-CHING! Success.
Can't control where you're going? When I'm in that position, I always try to look up the menu online ahead of time and get a handle on the scene. For example, I was going out to dinner with a friend this week in Downtown LA and we wanted to try Nickel Diner because we've heard great things and it was on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (LOVE THAT SHOW!) - Not going to lie, I was a little worried because diner food does not usually mesh a healthy lifestyle. So, I jumped on my iPhone on the way there and saw that they had a tasty looking veggie sandwich that I could get. As it turned out, we split a yummy chicken club style sandwich and both got side salads, but I was ready just in case she got all crazy triple burger and fries on me.
Realistically speaking, most places don't have incredibly healthy options, so you have to be as prepared and flexible as possible. There was an episode of Thintervention with Jackie Warner (on Bravo) that really spoke to me on this topic (I really wanted to find the clip but couldn't - sad face). This is how it goes - celebrity trainer Jackie Warner is working with a group of people to change their lifestyles and help them lose weight. After a successful few weeks (or months? I can't remember to be honest), everyone in the group is doing great and making healthy choices and positive changes. Jackie takes everyone out to dinner to celebrate and announces that she's going to order a bunch of food for them to share - they're all smiles and can't wait. Jackie is tricky though and she orders pretty much all unhealthy food! Everyone is PISSED to say the least. One guy claims it's like "throwing cocaine at a drug addict." The lesson that Jackie teaches them (and viewers) is an incredibly real and important one - unhealthy food will always be around. What are you going to do when you walk into a party/restaurant gathering and you're starving? You will NOT always be in a position where you can control the food in front of you, and you have to be ready for that. Take the fried crust off the chicken strips, remove the top portion of the buns (or the whole bun) off the hamburgers or sliders, look for the healthy options hidden in the mix like ahi tuna and the items that are steamed or grilled versus fried or sauteed. You can do it!