Half of the battle with tracking food is learning how to use the app you have picked. I think I picked one of the hardest apps to track my food but I am too invested in my recipe list and custom food list to start over. Every app that you use to track does not look the same but has the same goal, to keep you on track and help hold you accountable.
There are some apps that won’t let you create recipes and you can only select from a list of food to add to your meals for the day. You can’t always trust the nutritional value that the apps have listed for the food either and oftentimes you cannot trust the calorie count on nutritional labels. The apps can be more trouble than what they are worth if you don’t put in the work in the beginning.
When I first started tracking my food, I noticed that the nutritional value of certain foods did not match the labels on the back of the packaging. That could be due to companies rounding up on calories instead of using the actual value or a complete error in the system. Regardless I never trust using the barcode scan feature or take the nutritional value as truth in the database. If I am going to take the time to track my food, I want to know that it is 100% correct. I always double-check the label against what the app says and I even change the calories to match the macros.
When I first started tracking I went to the USDA food database and searched for the common foods that I cook with and added them to my custom food list. This took some time to do, but once you have it you know that it will always be right. This isn’t necessary to do to make recipes in your app, but I feel as though if you are going to take the time to weigh out chocolate and peanut butter you might as well lookup the nutritional value of your meats and vegetables on a trusted database. I added meats like cooked and drained 80/20 beef that could not be found in the app because that is something I commonly use and really wanted to know what the macros for the cooked meat were. Most of the meat you find in the app gives you the nutritional value of raw meat and not cooked. I don’t like to weigh out my meat raw, because it changes throughout the cooking process. A nine-ounce piece of chicken breast can cook down to be 6 ounces.
Depending on the recipe and food used, dictates how you enter in your recipe. Some recipes will be a single serving and others will be multiple servings depending on the preferred amount of calories and macros. For common meals like my breakfast or post-workout shake, I will make recipes to easily add to my daily meals. Another fun fact is you can add people to follow and copy their meals and custom foods! This is super helpful if you and your spouse or friend are tracking together.
If you have my.macros+ to make a recipe I click on ‘recipe’ and click the ‘create new recipe’ button. Here you can title the recipe and create your amount of servings. I like to title my recipes to mirror the title of the recipe I am using or make it very specific; otherwise, after you have several chicken recipes that start with the word chicken, you will get confused and get aggravated looking for the recipe you need to plugin for your meal.
From here you need to add in your ingredients. This is where doing your research on custom foods will come in handy. You do not want to use whatever is in the app database, because that is not always correct. Do your homework ahead of time and create a solid list of custom foods so you do not have to look up the nutritional value of foods while you are cooking. You will need to weigh out the ingredients individually and put the exact amount you are using. Don’t just scoop out one cup, weigh out the ingredients based on the serving size the nutritional label uses. If you are using Parmesan don’t weigh it out in ounces if the nutritional label serving is weighed out in grams. You don’t want to waste time converting from ounces to grams when you can just weigh it out in grams, to begin with.
After entering in your ingredients you can manipulate your serving sizes depending on what value you want the macros and calories to have. If you see that 4 servings will give you too many carbohydrates per serving, then increase the serving size. For this recipe I only have one serving because I am the only one that eats this dish and make it every morning for my breakfast. Well, technically my husband cooks it every morning for me while I am at the gym and I take it to work with me and eat it there. Thanks, babe.
Other meals, like the California bowl I made last week, are in one recipe and have 4 servings. I weigh out the ingredients separately and divide them equally into each container/plate. Not every recipe needs to be put into the app the same. Make sure you aren’t making things more complicated than they need to be. Just start plugging in new foods and double-checking the nutritional information on the back of your package with what you see on the app. If you are new to tracking your food, I suggest that you simply track for two weeks and get the hang of your app before you jump into weighing out foods and restricting your calories. Oftentimes, just by tracking your food, you will see what can be changed or you will instinctively start eating healthier meals. No one wants to plug in fat-filled fast food after fat-filled fast food meals. Hopefully seeing the nutritional value of the foods you are choosing will be reason enough for you to make some changes.
If you need help, do not hesitate to ask!
M E N U
This is probably one of Josh’s favorite dishes. Pasta + mushrooms = his jam. He L O V E S mushrooms, me not so much, but in this dish they are great. It is just a texture thing for me. They don’t really have a taste on their own, but with the right seasonings and in just the right dish, I can scarf them down.
This dish can be high on the number of carbohydrates, it is pasta after all. I am going to use carba-nada to cut back on the carbs a little and up the protein. Carba-nada has 170 calories per serving, 15 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.5 grams of fat.
The last time I cooked this with regular farfalle pasta and whole milk the macros per serving (there were 10) were 349 calories, 11.6 grams of protein, 39.2 grams of carbohydrates, and 5.1 grams of fat.
When I am making a dish like this I keep my chicken and pasta separate and make a recipe just for the sauce. You can make your servings larger or smaller depending on your macro needs. This is without any meat. I am going to bake some chicken breasts and add them to the dish.
*Changes I make to meet my macros.
Ingredients: 16 ounces uncooked whole wheat farfalle pasta *can substitute with carba-nada or vegetable noodles 2 tablespoons butter *1 tablespoon 2 tablespoons oil *Omit 24 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini and shiitake) *680 grams 1/4 cup minced garlic or shallots, or a combination of both a splash of white wine (about 1/3 cup) *2.4 ounces 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream *1 cup non fat milk 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth (as needed) *1-2 cups Vegetable broth depending on how my liquid you want in your sauce 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese *60 grams reduced fat parmesan cheese 2 cups spinach, chopped 6 ounces goat cheese *4 ounces *add in cooked chicken breast
Another meatless wonder that I stuffed with meat anyway and it turned out wonderful. I don’t think I could ever get tired of this dish. I loved this dish so much. It was beautiful. It was delicious. This also makes a great side dish for salmon, steak, or pork loin. I am going to smoke a loin and slice it to have on the side.
This is one of those meals that you tuck away in the back of your mind for the next time you have company and want to impress them without having to try too hard. I simply loved it and the macros weren’t that bad either. You could definitely cut back on the amount of orzo used and bring down the carbohydrates. I used 1 cup, but I might even do 3/4 of a cup this time so I don’t feel as strapped on my carbohydrates next time, but the orzo is so good.
Tracking the macros on the peppers was not super difficult. I made sure each pepper had the same amount of pasta, chicken, and toppings so that no matter which pepper was picked, they were the same. Weigh out the pepper before stuffing with the toppings and meat, so that each person knows the weight of their peppers.
*Changes I make to meet my macros
Ingredients: 3 red bell peppers, halved *4 peppers, 1 whole pepper per person 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil *spray olive oil 3 sprigs fresh oregano kosher salt and pepper 1 cup dry orzo or quinoa *200 grams or less 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives *70-80 grams 2 pepperoncini, chopped *60-70 grams 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, chopped *Omit nuts 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese *12 grams non fat feta per serving Lemony Basil Tomatoes: 1 cup fresh basil, chopped 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil *omit oil, use 1 lemon juiced crushed red pepper flakes zest from 1 lemon kosher salt *add cooked chicken breast to peppers
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.
The first time I made it 214 calories. The second time I made the sauce I cut back on the marinara and it was 110 calories per serving, for 5 servings. This time I only used one can of sauce and added in vegetable broth to give it some more volume and be saucier.
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. I stick to the chicken breast so I don’t go over my calories with this meal. This is one of the highest calorie dishes I have made IF I don’t make any changes.
There really are not a whole of ingredients in this dish. It is super simple but can be really high on calories if you don’t make any adjustments. For four servings the sauce was 130 calories, 2.6 grams of protein, 18.4 grams of carbohydrates, and 4.6 grams of fat. I used zero-carb-pasta and chicken breast to keep the dish around 350 calories. I like the texture of actual pasta, but for the calories, you cannot beat the zero-carb-pasta.
*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 *650 grams *2 cups of vegetable broth Kosher salt and black pepper 3/4 pound spicy ground Italian sausage or chicken sausage *chicken breast 1 pound dry penne pasta *pasta zero grated Parmesan cheese, for serving *low fat parmesan cheese 60-80 grams add to sauce
This chicken salad is not like your local chicken salad sandwich with mayo, pecans, and grapes. Compared to the fat-filled premade chicken salads you can buy it is boring, super healthy, and with the new sauce I am using it is so much better. You MUST season this dish like there is no tomorrow and add some hot sauce to the wrap as well. I like to drizzle sriracha on my chicken salad once I have it wrapped up in a low-carb, high fiber tortilla shell.
I always cook the chicken breasts covered on the stovetop, just because it is easier when meal prepping. If you aren’t worried about macros or meal prepping, a whole rotisserie chicken would be much easier. I used to use an egg version of mayonnaise but recently I started using non-fat Greek yogurt and it turned out to be the best healthy chicken salad I have ever made.
I love that this meal doesn’t have any actual mayo. You make your own mixture to hold the chicken together with non-fat Greek yogurt, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and hot sauce to taste. I don’t use any oil in this mayo and it makes it low calorie and cut friendly. The last time I made this I had 26.8 ounces of cooked chicken breast. It made 6 servings, each at 134 calories, 27.1 grams of protein, 0.3 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.7 grams of fat, without a tortilla. Make sure to grab a low carbohydrate tortilla. The ones I use are only 50 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of protein. Not too bad compared to the normal 45 grams of protein that most tortillas have.
*Changes I make to meet my macros
Ingredients: 1 whole roasted chicken or 2 pounds of chicken *chicken breast ½ cup finely chopped celery ¼ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning Mix with: 1 lemon juiced 70-80 grams non-fat Greek yogurt 1/2 teaspoon salt 1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard hot sauce, optional
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