Ignorance + Menu

Ignorance is Bliss.

Sometimes, I wish I didn’t know what was in my food. Sometimes, I wish I didn’t look at a menu and analyze what I am going to eat based on the macros that I know I will be consuming. I find myself always making a smarter choice when it comes to food. I am always looking for the best option for me, which leaves me feeling satisfied not only taste-wise but my gut too. If I ignore my macros and just eat whatever sounds good, my body will not appreciate it.

I will randomly get texts about nutritional info on food and whether or not I would or if I do eat certain things. I love these kinds of texts because I am helping educate someone on food and food nutrition is really my passion. Recently I was asked if I ate the chips at the Mexican restaurant. Yes and no.

Goodness, in high school and college I ate those like they were going out of style. I remember going after school and eating the bottomless chips and salsa (for free) and just paying for a drink, probably sweet tea. In college, I would skip the tortilla and cover my “naked burrito” with cheese dip. I really had no clue and I was never concerned with what I ate then, now I am. I was concerned about my body image but never concerned enough to do any research or change what I was doing. After I gained some knowledge on the matter, I mostly stayed away from chips. I decided to look up the nutritional information for Surcheros chips one day. Yeah, I wish I wouldn’t have.

NUTRITIONAL INFO
Amount Per Serving
Calories 550
Calories from Fat 510
Total Fat 57g
Carbohydrates 10g
Protein 1g

That is one serving of chips according to their website. Knowing this changed my whole perspective on chips. I mean, I knew they were bad for you…but not that bad. You can make yourself believe anything when it comes to what you want versus what is right.

When you look up chips on your macro-tracking app, it doesn’t say one serving is 510 calories. This is why I always look-up information from each specific restaurant if I can. I love, love, love chips and dip…but it just is not worth 510 calories for me. Now if I want chips and salsa, I weigh out chips that I have bought and know the nutritional value on. If I am at the restaurant I gauge how much I ate and track it. If I want to eat them, I eat them (but track them). I like to try and save my calories for the actual meal because usually, the chips have more calories than the meal.

Some people might say that it is crazy and they don’t need to live like that and they would be 100% correct. You don’t have to live like that. I choose to weigh my food because I am not ignorant about food. I choose to weigh my food because food is fuel. For me food is pleasurable, but it does not last. Tasting something delicious only lasts a few moments but the effects from it stick with you. Eating something bad for you consistently will consistently push you further away from your nutritional goals. You might think that bar of chocolate is nothing, but in reality, you are consuming an entire meal of calories in just a few bites of chocolate.

I know what is in food and I can’t just ignore what I know to be true. If I know something is bad for me, then I can’t knowingly eat it on a regular basis. I am all about splurging every now and then. I track my calories so I can eat those things guilt-free. I baked cinnamon twist bread, a Hershey cake, and a strawberry biscuit cobbler. I plan to eat all three. I know these treats are LOADED down with calories.

I can go about eating them in two different ways. I can save up my calories and eat a full serving of the dessert or I can eat like I normally do and have a small serving. I don’t need to deprive myself of the desserts I made for Easter and my father-in-law’s birthday, I just have to be smart about how I am eating. It is all about give-and-take when it comes to tracking. The first step is actually tracking though and learning about what you are putting into your body.

When people read labels on containers of food, they see LOW FAT or LOW CARBOHYDRATE and think ‘oh that is healthy’. Sadly, that is not the case. Typically, if it is low fat it will have a lot of carbohydrates and if it is low carbohydrate it will have high-fat content. Most people don’t bother to turn the container over and look at the label that really matters. Honestly, a lot of people don’t even know what they are looking at when they read a nutrition label or care to look at it. They are completely unaware of what their body actually needs.

What most people care about is the marketing scheme that catches their eye. If they feel like what they are doing is healthy, then it is so. Trying to educate some on what is really in that so-called healthy container can be pointless because they would rather remain ignorant. I don’t necessarily blame them. Knowing what is in your food is such powerful knowledge, but for people that don’t really want to put in the effort to make a change…it is pointless.

For me, when I see food that people post I analyze it/judge it. I look at their food and think of all the macros they are consuming and how they probably have no idea or maybe just don’t care as I do. There are plenty of times that I wish I didn’t look at a menu or other people’s food and wonder about calories and macros, but I am glad that I know.

I want to put food into my body that I need to be at my best. I don’t eat just to eat and I don’t consume food that is not enjoyable. If you scroll through my Instagram or look through my menus, you will see all kinds of food. Never am I eating just the basic meal-prep food. There is a way to eat healthy, tasty, and still have your treats. It is on you to put in the effort to learn about your food and learn about what your body actually needs to achieve your body image/nutrition/physic/weight lifting goals. Without eating the right amounts of food, you will not reach those goals. Period. Ignorance is bliss, but it will not get you where you want to be.


M E N U

Zesty Shrimp and Sweet Peach Salad

Salmon + Roasted Chickpea Cauliflower Salad

Best Super Easy Penne

Chicken Blueberry Feta Salad

Slow Cooker Herbed Chicken and Rice Pilaf


Zesty Shrimp and Sweet Peach Salad

Oh, this salad gets me so excited for supper and lunch the next day. To say I loved this salad is an understatement. I have used the zesty seasoning so many times since then and it never disappoints.

The first time I made this dish, I did a mixture of shrimp and chicken last time, which was a great cheap way to get more protein in. The chicken was great, but the shrimp were right on the money. So good. The lemon and lime zest mixed with the spices, and one ounce of honey…such a good combination! This time I am going to use backstrap. It is super lean and we have a good bit of it saved up in the freezer right now.

To be 100% honest it is SO frustrating trying to calculate the macros for this dish because there are so many separate parts to it. I put everything into one recipe on my app, but keep all the ingredients separate to divide evenly to each salad. It is tedious, but worth it to get the exact macros. When I made this dish before, the macros were 286 calories, 42.2 grams of protein, 20.6 grams of carbohydrates, and 5.7 grams of fat. I did add some extra shrimp for the second day because the calories are very low and the shrimp was amazing.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined 
*meat of choice 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 
*zero calorie olive oil spray
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder 
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
1 teaspoon honey
*1 ounce 
zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime 
kosher salt and pepper 
4 thick slices ciabatta bread 
*omit 
6 cups mixed greens spinach or arugula 
1 peach, thinly sliced
*245 grams (split into 4 servings) 
2 ears, grilled corn, kernels removed 
*1 cup sweet corn 
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved if large 
AVOCADO VINAIGRETTE 
1 avocado, halved and pitted
*3 ounces 
1 cup fresh cilantro 
1 jalapeño, halved and seeded, if desired 
juice of 1 lime 
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
*4 Tablespoons 
1 pinch of kosher salt 

Salmon + Roasted Chickpea Cauliflower 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.

This cauliflower chickpea salad is one of my go-to sides when I am going to a potluck gathering. I usually leave out the quinoa because for some reason people cringe at quinoa the way they do with kale, so I just skip it.

There is really no reason to add the oil unless you like the taste of it. For me, it is unnecessary to have all the oil of the fat. I sound like a broken record but I don’t like the invisible fats, I much prefer to taste my fat and have it be actual food like avocado or bacon. I will spray my pan with olive oil but I do not add oil to my dressings. 

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
1/2 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
*2 cauliflower heads
the finely grated zest of 1 lemon
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
*zero calorie olive oil spray
1 1/2 cups cooked, patted dry on a clean tea towel
*1 can
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup cooked quinoa
*omit quinoa 
1/4 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
*omit almonds 
a handful each of fresh mint leaves, flat leaf parsley, coriander (cilantro), roughly torn

jalapeno lime dressing:
1-2 pickled jalapenos, finely chopped
*diced pickled jalapeños 2 Tablespoons 
the juice of 2 medium limes
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*omit oil 
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
*green onions 
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Best Super Easy Penne

The first time I made this dish, it was almost 600 calories in total. For me, this is an insane amount of calories for one meal. Without any pasta or pasta substitution, this sauce is 214 calories, for 4 servings. 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.

I would rather not use spaghetti squash this time, but it is a good option. I will likely use carba-nada and just make the servings of sauce smaller. I am going to use chicken breast instead of the meatballs intended for this recipe.

The meatballs are delicious, but they have so much fat, even the chicken meatballs. If you do the meatballs, don’t go crazy with them. You think that 3 meatballs are not enough but trust me, it is more than enough and likely even more than what you need. If you use spaghetti squash it will even that out some.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
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
*1270 grams of sauce
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 pound spicy ground Italian sausage or chicken sausage
*ground beef meatballs cooked separately or chicken breast
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

Chicken Blueberry Feta Salad

In an effort to keep the carbohydrates balanced, I try to cook two-three “heavy” carbohydrate meals and two-three light carbohydrate meals every week. I will alternate the high carb and low carb meals between lunch and supper so I don’t go over my allotted carbohydrates every day. I don’t worry about which meal of the day has the high carb or low carb, I just focus on keeping it balanced.

With this salad don’t skip making the dressing, don’t try buying some store-bought version, because it won’t be the same. Any dressing made with lemon juice is right up my alley. I skip the olive oil and just up the amount of lemon juice and it makes it extra healthy. I don’t mind eating fats but I would much rather save my fat for the almonds or avocado, not the olive oil.

For the chicken, you can grill it if you are firing up the grill this week anyway or simply season well and put it in the oven while you get the meat ready for the other dishes. I love cooking my chicken covered on the stovetop, I don’t have to watch it like a hawk, it cooks super fast, and stays juicy.

I like to put a lot of blueberries in each of my salads, but you can put from 1/2 cup to a whole cup. Strawberries are also in season right now and would be a great addition if you can’t get good blueberries. The strawberry patch is a great place to go to, to get a break from in-home quarantine.

Usually, I pick between almonds of avocado. I don’t want to go over on my fat because of one dish. Typically 1/4th of an avocado is 1 ounce. 1 ounce of avocado is 50 calories, 0.5 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of carbs, and 4.5 grams of fat. You can add both, just make sure you watch the calories, fat adds up quickly. Two ounces of avocado are 100 calories and that would is about a fourth of what I would want my total calories to be for one meal. In my opinion, it is just a lot of calories for something so small. Just make sure you weigh it and track it.

*Change I make to meet my macros.

Ingredients: 
 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
 8 cups mixed salad greens
 1 cup blueberries (* or strawberries)
*1/2 cup to 1 cup per salad 
 1 large avocado sliced
*1 ounce or less per salad
 1 cup almonds
*9-12 almonds per salad 
 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
*10-12 grams non-fat feta
 1/2 large red onion thinly sliced 

 Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
*omit oil 
1/3 cup lemon juice
*add more lemon juice 
2 tablespoons honey
*1 ounce of honey 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
*2 tablespoons 
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

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

Ingredients:
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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