Flexible + Menu

Flexible Dieting

For those of you yearning for a sense of belonging, a fresh start, to lose weight, to start over, etc. YOU must change. You are the key component in the direction that your life goes and no one else. If you choose to do nothing, nothing will happen. If you choose to diligently and intentionally push yourself every day for days, weeks, months, years…you will see a change. Otherwise, you will continue to frown when you step onto the scale. You will continue to loath getting ready for work in those pants that are just a little too tight.

Your pants won’t magically fit better one morning if you beg them to. The thing about change is sometimes it takes some research and always takes effort. At some point it gets hard and you can’t simply just stop drinking that coke to lose the pounds, you won’t be able to simply stop eating the chips and dip and drop 5 pounds. Once you lose the extra weight that a soft drink or a bag od chips brings, what is next? Do you give up everything you love to eat and live miserably?

Every time that I discuss macros and encourage people that workout to eat carbohydrates they are typically elated and shocked. Carbohydrates have such a bad rap and really it is unnecessary. The first time I ever heard about restricting carbohydrates I was in high school. My aunt was on the Atkins diet and she was eating a lot of stewed tomatoes. I had never thought of certain foods as bad. I was in high school and ate anything I wanted to. I also was not concerned about my body composition, well not concerned enough to do anything about it.

I didn’t actually care enough to make a change until college. I was not an athletic person in high school. I cheered some and showed cows, that was about it. After high school and in college cooking for myself and needing to occupy my time, I decided I would go to the gym. I had zero clues about what I was doing with any of the machines or free weights. I went anyway. I knew I needed to do more than sit in my dorm room, so I went. I played tennis, horribly and attempted some running. I kept the same cycle going all through college, but it never seemed like much changed.

I was at a healthy weight and in decent shape, but I wanted to be the best version of myself. Once I got the courage to try CrossFit, I finally found my athletic self that had been hiding, I just needed that extra advantage to be more competitive in the gym. It wasn’t until I took a class in nutrition that I figured out my problem. My food habits had to change. I researched macros and calories for the first time, I started tracking what I was eating and was blown away at how much food I was consuming that was really unnecessary. I was not eating to fuel my body, I was eating for the sake of eating, which isn’t so bad from time to time, but every day or even all weekend long is when it becomes a problem.

If I really wanted things to change, I had to make a change. My body was not going to magically change without the required effort. I had a slight idea of what calories were. I knew what they came from food and how to read nutrition labels, but I didn’t really know what I needed and how to get it. I made a total 180 on my nutrition and haven’t looked back. Once I learned what I was putting into my body, I knew what I had to change and why.

I knew I couldn’t just give up everything that I loved to eat and drink though. I didn’t want to be one of those miserable people that go on a crash diet, after a crash diet, after a crash diet. I didn’t care to be on a never-ending cycle of weight gain and loss. I wanted a healthy lifestyle, not a diet. I had the workout piece of my lifestyle figured out, but the healthy diet was another story.

When I learned how to count calories and macros I felt so relieved, that I wouldn’t have to give up everything I loved. I could have my cake and eat it too, as long as I logged it. Having the ability to keep track of all the food I ate and know what my body needed versus what I wanted was powerful. Having the ability to still go and have ice cream with my kids and not feel guilty was the best.

Counting my macros completely takes the guilt out of eating and allows me to have a positive relationship with food. I don’t view carbohydrates as bad, I don’t think that restricting any macro group is a healthy way to live. All three serve a purpose for your body to perform and function at it’s best, it is just about finding that balance and really educating yourself on what is in food and what you need. A flexible diet (counting macros) gives you just that. I was able to make the change that I needed without feeling bad about it or feeling like I was punishing myself.

New Food Review:


Salmon + Chopped Beet Salad

Lemon Ricotta & Spinach Pasta

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole

Best Super Easy Penne

Slow Cooker Herbed Chicken and Rice Pilaf

Salmon + Chopped Beet Salad

I know we just had salmon a few weeks ago, but you can never have too much salmon in your life. I love the way Josh cooks out salmon, so I don’t use a fancy recipe. It is by far my favorite fish and he knows exactly how to cook it. I prefer to grill our salmon, but if it is cold, the oven works just fine. We use lemon zest, lemon slices, garlic powder, onion powder, and Tony Chachere’s seasoning. Rub or spray the fish down with olive oil, season, wrap in tin foil and cook until it is done. We don’t flip our fish, we just set it off to the side if it is cooking too quickly and let it slow cook.

The beet salad paired so well with the salmon, that I am going to cook a beet salad again. This one is different, but if you loved the last one, obviously feel free to cook that one instead. To cook my beets, I prefer to boil them, but you can also wrap them in tin foil and roast them until tender. While I boil my beets, I check for tenderness with a metal skewer. Once the skewer can go completely through the beets, I take them out of the hot water and put them into cold water. You don’t want to try and rub the skin off until the beets have completely cooled. To rub the skin off you simply hold the beet under running water and gently rub until all the skin is off.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Salmon (skin on or off) 
1 lemon (zest and slices)
Tony Chachere’s seasoning  
Garlic powder 
Onion powder  

2 pounds (910g) fresh beets
*1 bundle medium sized beets, red or yellow
4 ounces (113g) crumbled feta
*non fat feta, 12 grams per salad 
1/4 cup (60ml) minced parsley
1/4 cup (60ml) slivered or sliced almonds
*omit almonds

2 med cloves of garlic , minced or crushed
2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
*omit oil 
1 tablespoon (15ml) balsamic vinegar
*2 tablespoons 
finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
2 teaspoons (10ml) fresh lemon juice
*1 whole lemon juiced
1 teaspoon (5ml) brown sugar
*omit sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt , or to taste
fresh cracked black pepper to taste 

Lemon Ricotta & Spinach Pasta

I made this about 3 weeks ago and loved it. This time I’ll be using carbs-nada instead of spaghetti squash. It was great with spaghetti squash but I really missed the pasta texture.

This was such a great, simple sauce to make and right at 300 calories is hard to beat. The sauce was right at 177 calories. I opted for shrimp and spaghetti squash, which kept the calories down. The carba-nada is going to add more calories but also add a lot more protein too. With the added protein in the carba-nada, I won’t have to add in as much shrimp or chicken.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1/2 lb pasta 
*spaghetti squash or carba-nada 
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
5 ounces fresh spinach (about 3 cups or 1/2 of a 10 oz bag)
1 cup ricotta cheese
*1/2 to 3/4 cup skim milk ricotta
1/2 cup reserved pasta water (see below)
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
Grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes (optional), for topping 
*60 grams for 4 servings reduced fat parmesan
*add in cooked chicken breast or shrimp 

Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Casserole

The last time I made this, it was solely for my husband. I am NOT a casserole girl. I don’t like the idea of all the mayonnaise and cream of whatever people typically use in casseroles. This recipe has neither, so I am excited to give it a try. He is a true lover of casseroles with all mayonnaise and cream of whatever though. I put my own spin on this and it turned out to be so great and healthy! I was so surprised, I am probably looking forward to this meal the most.

This was not easy to track because it is all mixed together. There is no way that each piece cut will have the same amount of chicken or cheese. It will be precise on the macros but the slices themselves won’t be 100%.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
*spray olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
*10-20 ounces baby carrots sliced
1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons salted butter
*1 tablespoon
1 1/2 cups basmati or jasmine rice
*1 cup jasmine rice
1/2 cup dry orzo pasta (use gluten free, if needed)
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for topping
3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
*2 cups
3 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup whole milk or canned coconut milk
*non fat milk 
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
*100-180 grams depending on how cheesey you want it to be  

Best Super Easy Penne

I previously said that you needed to fast to eat this dish…and I might have stuck my foot in my mouth. I went back and made a few more changes and ended up with a decently low-calorie meal, compared to the 500+ that it originally was.

Without any pasta or pasta substitution, this sauce was the first time I made it 214 calories. If I add one cup of spaghetti squash it would add 42 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.5 grams of fat. Not too bad. Add in your chicken or beef meatballs and you are in business. The second time I made the sauce I cut back on the marinara and it was 110 calories per serving, for 5 servings.

The meatballs will get you. You think that 3 meatballs are not enough but trust me, it is more than enough and likely even more than what you need. The spaghetti squash will even that out some and if you opt for ground chicken instead of beef, you will save some fat and calories. Make sure you cook the meatballs separately, you don’t want all the fat from the meat to be in your sauce.

I could have made the sauce into more servings, but it tasted SO good that I wanted as much as possible. I might make it into 5 servings this time if the calories with the meat are too high. There really are not a whole of ingredients in this dish. It is super simple but can be really high on the calories if you don’t make any adjustments. For four servings the sauce was 10 ounces and I added at least 5 ounces of meat.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
*spray olive oil
25 to 30 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated 
*pre-peeled bag of garlic 
1 tablespoon dried oregano plus fresh oregano, for serving 
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 24 ounce jars marinara sauce
*1302 grams 
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 pound spicy ground Italian sausage or chicken sausage
*ground beef meatballs cooked separately or ground chicken
1 pound dry penne pasta
*Carba-nada or spaghetti squash 
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving 
*low fat parmesan cheese 60-80 grams add to sauce

Slow Cooker Herbed Chicken and Rice Pilaf

I usually cook this at least once a month. It is one of the simplest dishes and turns out great every time. Throw everything into the crockpot, set it on low for 6 hours, and you are done. You are supposed to sear the chicken before putting it into the crockpot, but I have skipped this step before and it has still turned out just as good. Josh refers to this as a “modern chicken and rice” like what his Granny used to make. It is 100% a compliment.

I don’t shred my chicken into the dish. I take it out in whole pieces and add it to each bowl in the amounts that I want. This makes tracking my food a lot easier. After taking out the chicken I weigh the entire pot of rice and vegetables, mix it well, and create my servings. Then I top my bowl of rice and vegetables with chicken.

The last time I made this, without chicken factored in, per serving I had 220 calories, 8 grams of protein, 44.3 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.3 grams of fat.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1 1/2 cups wild rice
* 151 grams or less 
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
* 2 cups 
juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
* 11-12 ounces baby carrots 
1 cup wild mushrooms, torn
* 284 grams  
2 pounds bone-in chicken breast and or thighs
*chicken breast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*omit oil 
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
kosher salt and pepper
4 shallots, halved
1 sprig fresh rosemary

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