Easy + Menu

While I have been at this macro counting for a while, I would not dare label it as “easy” to do. I saw a while back someone share a post saying just how easy it was to scan the items on their phone and add them to their daily log and that is all it took. Sounded more like a sales pitch to me, because counting macros is not that easy. Counting macros, if done correctly, takes time and patience. If done correctly, counting macros is not just scanning premade-food packages.

The macro calculations that you can get for free online (that do not take into consideration your actual level of activity, current body fat, height, etc.) are going to tell you to eat way more than you actually should. I am all for tons of food, but I am also all for adequately working out to burn said food. I had a talk with my students about something similar to this, this week while we were reading a book where the young boy was starving and was trying to conserve his energy. They all looked at me like I was crazy. I think only my child probably knows what protein and carbs are at such a young age, but he also thinks the fluff on his tummy are his abs…it’s pretty cute.

When counting macros one cannot simply just scan containers of food and expect that to be it. It is not that easy (I wish it was). You have to convert raw to cooked, be able to read the label and know your serving size, scan before you eat and see if it works, fact check your nutrition app, create recipes, weigh out your foods, etc. You have to know the macros that work for you, because macros are not a one size fits all. One must be honest about what they are eating. Every bite and sip adds up. Weekends count too.

I may sound like I am trying to talk you out of tracking your macros, but the reality of it is that not everyone has the dedication to track and that is okay. Tracking is not for everyone because there is a learning curve. People want fast and easy, not slow and steady weight loss. It is not as easy as scan and add to your app. You cannot just eat processed foods and expect to hit your goals. You will have to cook, you will have to convert, you will have to make changes to your current lifestyle to see the results you have been staring in the mirror hoping for, you will have to research nutritional information, and most of all you will have to be very consistent and patient.

In the end, all the time and effort put into counting macros gives you a lifestyle change, not just a quick fix. You actually learn what your body needs to reach the goals you have been chasing. You finally realize that you don’t have to starve yourself to reach those goals either. Counting macros might not be easy at first, but it gets easier. The food knowledge you gain when tracking your macros is far greater than what you would learn on any quick-fix diet (that will likely bring the weight right back to you) or counting calories.

A friend said it best recently that what is hard today, will be easy tomorrow. A weight you struggle to get in the gym today you will get and then it will become the norm. The battles you are facing today will get easier as long as you are putting in the effort consistently to make those changes. Nothing is easy at first, but that is what makes it worth your while. It is so rewarding to see others putting in the effort to learn about their nutrition and slowly see them making changes in their lives in order to be happier and healthier. It is sustainable and realistic, but I promise it is not as simple as just scanning a package into an app, but it is well worth your time and effort.


M – E – N – U

Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad

Spaghetti

Apple Butter and Sage Pork Chops  + Simple Kale Salad

Flat Iron Tortas 

Roasted Pork Loin Stuffed with Baby Spinach, Mushrooms and Pine Nuts + Yogurt Mashed Potatoes


Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad

This is a new recipe but I have a feeling that it is going to be super easy and a hit. To make this a complete meal I am going to add orzo pasta and shrimp to the dish. The one thing to really be careful of in this dish is the pesto. Most pestos are going to be packed full of fat, so go with a homemade version that does not require oil or check your labels well! I have a ton of pesto in my garden so I will be making my own low-fat version.

If you want to keep things vegetarian but need some extra protein I would suggest eating this over carba-nada. Just make sure to keep it to one serving you will be eating more calories than you think.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
1/2 pound red cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound yellow cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
*10-15 tomatoes per serving 
2 avocados , diced
*1 ounce per serving 
1 cucumber , sliced
*1/2 cup per serving 
1/3 cup red onion , diced
1/4 cup basil pesto
*homemade version: 1 cup basil, 1 clove garlic, 60-80 grams reduced fat parmesan, juice of 1-2 lemons, salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
*add orzo or carbanada
*add shrimp or chicken

Spaghetti

The spaghetti sauce I use is adapted from a bolognese lasagna sauce. It is a thicker sauce, with lots of meat and vegetables.

To make the sauce, dice the onion and bell pepper, and saute’ with the minced garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms to the pan (mushrooms are not in the lasagna). Once the mushrooms have cooked down, drain any excess water. Add the vegetables to a large pot, along with the canned tomatoes. Once the meat has cooked thoroughly, drain and add to the tomatoes and vegetables.

Stir in the milk and wine, if you are going to put those in. Let the spaghetti simmer on low. Add the tomato paste to thicken the sauce if needed. The amount of tomato paste you add depends on how thick you want your sauce to be. I use to add the whole milk and wine but have recently opted out of putting it in, to simply cut down on the calories. Save the wine and just drink it. It is delicious with or without the wine and milk.

I like to add dried oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, parsley, and any other Italian herbs I have on hand. I don’t use noodles anymore with my spaghetti. If you still want noodles, Carba-nada is a great low-carbohydrate noodle option!

Once I tried spaghetti squash I never went back. It really is not that difficult to make. I cut my squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, spray with olive oil and bake in the oven on 425 degrees until I can stick a skewer all the way through the squash to the outside (not through the outside). I allow the squash to cool and then use a fork to scrape noddle-like strands out of the squash. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash is 42 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.5 grams of fat.

Ingredients:  
4 cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes 
1 can Tomato Paste (about 1 cup)
3 cloves Garlic
1 Yellow Bell Pepper (diced)
1 Onion (diced)
8 ounces Mushrooms (diced) 
2-4 pounds 80/20 cooked and drained (depending on amount of people serving, I use 3.5 pounds typically and always have leftovers for the kids)
8 ounces Whole Milk (optional)
4 ounces Red Wine (optional)
Italian Herbs 
2-3 spaghetti squash or noodles of your choice

Apple Butter and Sage Pork Chops  + Simple Kale Salad

Believe me when I tell you this salad is as simple as it gets and surprisingly so good. The secret is all in the dressing. The only thing I change to this dressing is omitting the olive oil and adding more lemon juice. Other than that, I make it exactly as it says.

I was so nervous about the macros the first time I made these pork chops. I was not familiar with apple butter, I just assumed it had to be loaded down with carbs like jelly was and then adding apples too! I couldn’t imagine that these would be good for my macros, at all. I just knew that I would be blowing my carbohydrates for the day. I don’t usually calculate macros before I decide to cook a dish, typically I can make some pretty good guesses on what needs to be altered to make things healthier. 

The second time I increased the apple butter and it still did not push my macros to the limit. I was so happy to find a new tasty recipe for pork chops. Just like chicken breast, pork chops get really boring after a while if you don’t mix things up. This is the perfect recipe to mix things up with.

To make sure each pork chop has the same macros for apple butter, I add it to each chop individually. I make sure that each pork chop gets the same amount. Each pork chop will weigh differently, but they will still have the same macros for the apples and apple butter.

*Changes I make to meet my macros 

Ingredients: 
2 bone-in pork chops, about 1 inch thick
*4-6 pork loin chops 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*zero calorie olive oil spray 
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons salted butter
*1 tablespoon 
12 fresh sage leaves
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons apple butter
*around 50-70 grams depending on your macros
1-2 honeycrisp apples, cut into wedges
*2 apples, for 4 servings
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 

Kale Salad: 
2 bunches kale, fibrous stems (in the middle of the leaf) removed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup slivered almonds
*9-12 almonds per serving
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
* 2 lemons squeezed 
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
* omit oil 
½ teaspoon garlic, grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper 

Flat Iron Tortas (steak sandwiches)

We are in the short rows waiting for baby Thomas to arrive, so I am trying to clean out the freezer and make room for milk (and deer meat). For these sandwiches, I use cubed deer meat but you can use any cut of lean tender steak that you like.

It is such an easy delicious recipe. You can meal prep the whole dish and reheat the meat before you assemble the sandwiches. The sauce is super simple and you can make it as spicy or mild as you like, depending on how many jalapenos you use. I usually skip the avocado on these sandwiches because the steak has a decent amount of fat. If you are on a high-fat diet, be my guest. I would opt for a smaller brioche bun or do an open-faced sandwich or wrap.

If you aren’t into spicy, try using 1 tablespoon of butter + 44 grams of reduced fat blue cheese + fresh basil on the meat. This mixture should be split between 4 servings, not intended for one sandwich. Top off the meat with lettuce and tomato.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
1 pound flat iron (top blade) steak
*any tender low fat steak
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 chewy, crusty rolls, split
*fresh baked brioche bun
1 cup finely sliced romaine lettuce
1 large carrot, grated
*matchstick carrots
1 small avocado, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
*single serving container nonfat plain Greek yogurt 
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeño peppers, plus more as desired 

Roasted Pork Loin Stuffed with Baby Spinach, Mushrooms and Pine Nuts + Yogurt Mashed Potatoes

We need to make room in the freezer with a baby coming (milk) and deer season right around the corner. Since we have two loins in the freezer, we are going to use those up this week. Normally anytime you stuff something, you don’t think it could possibly be healthy, but this recipe is very healthy. I try not to over-do it on the oil when I brown the sides of the pork, so I don’t waste my calories on invisible fats.

I really enjoy this stuffed loin because it is low in calories when compared to other pork loins. I do not rub down my loin with olive oil or mix any into the stuffing. The mushrooms let out enough water that you do not have to add any oil to keep them from sticking to the pan. If you lightly spray the pan you will be fine. I go easy on the pine nuts or omit them altogether because the loin will have a layer of fat that you need to account for. If you do not eat the fat from the meat, make sure you weigh it after your meal and subtract that from what you had accounted for.

Making sure that this meal is 100% accurate when tracking is difficult because you cannot control how much stuffing is in each piece. I make sure that I track all the ingredients in the stuffing and make a recipe with that and the total weight of the loin after the center has been cut out. Don’t throw out the center that you have cut out, cook it, and keep it for a healthy snack throughout the week! You want to make sure the pieces of stuffed loin are the same size/weight, which is harder than it sounds. You might have some pieces that require you to add or take some away from to ensure they are all the same weight. Often times the ends are more meat than stuffing, so those are not ideal pieces to eat if you are looking for the most accurate.

One night we decided to make some mashed potatoes to go along with our steak. Friday and Saturday night is usually not planned but we still try to keep pretty healthy. I saw that I had some non-fat Greek yogurt in the fridge and threw it in there. Josh thought it was sour cream and I just let him think that until he tasted it. Once he gave the approval, I let him in on my secret. Since then that is how I have made our potatoes, even for guests and they have never been able to tell the difference. Make sure to use caution when adding in the yogurt, the more you use the sweeter the potatoes will taste.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for the pan
*spray with olive oil 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
*8 ounces mushrooms total
1 (5.0-ounce) package baby spinach
*2 cups
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt divided
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
*omit for lower fat
1 (2.0-pound) center-cut boneless pork loin roast, butterflied
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

Yogurt Mashed Potatoes: 
900-1000 grams red potatoes 
65-75 grams non-fat Greek yogurt 
1 tablespoon butter 
6-8 ounces fat free milk 
salt, pepper, minced garlic, fresh diced rosemary

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