Macros + Menu

Part of the problem with counting macros is cooking food that is not boring. Most people stick to the basics when they starting counting macros (or calories) or they eat a lot of processed foods and trust what the box says. All of the above can produce results, but you will likely give up. Boring food is, well boring. Eating all processed foods is usually pretty unhealthy and the nutritional information is not always correct on the label.

I picked up a juice for my kids the other day. The calories said 20 per serving. The bottle was only one serving, so I got it without even looking any further. Well turns out, the bottle had much, much more than just twenty calories. When I got home and looked further down the label I saw that there were actually 18 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Nothing close to 20 calories. Seventy-two calories isn’t a ton, but that sure isn’t twenty.

With food labels and nutritional information being dishonest, it is no wonder people have a hard time losing weight. If a label says low carbohydrate, no sugar you can bet it will be loaded with fat. Even if the label says twenty calories, you might want to do the math on your own. I get there is this whole ‘net carb’ fad going on, but for me, a carbohydrate is a carbohydrate. If it goes into my mouth then I am going to count it, no matter what.

Those that are just starting out on their macro counting journey, have a long road ahead of them. There is a lot more to counting macros than meets the eye. You have to learn the ins and outs of an app to track with, do a lot of your own research to figure out what is really in the foods you are eating (exact macros), learn how to read nutritional labels, figure out what your body needs to lose, gain, or maintain, and then figure out how to cook with macros. It can be intimidating for many people. Just learning the app alone can make people quit. Then finding out that the food in your app isn’t 100% accurate and that nutritional labels aren’t even 100% right really takes the ease out of it. Counting macros is not for everyone and oftentimes people just need to learn what food works best for their body and how to make smart food choices.

If only everything was 100% correct and honest, it would make the daunting task of counting macros much, much easier. I can say that I have been doing this for over 5 years now and I didn’t start out creating custom recipes and certainly didn’t look up the USDA food facts starting out. I didn’t weigh out all my servings, I measured them. I was not 100% accurate in my attempt, but still saw results. I was headed down the right path. I would scoop out “equal” servings of spaghetti or pasta, instead of weighing the entire cooked amount, then dividing that by my servings. For me (now) this is common sense, but I never thought to do that before. When you start out counting macros you do not have to dive in headfirst, you can take small steps to get you going in the right direction.

I was trying and eventually, I got Josh and myself on a path that seems to be the most accurate. I weigh out everything. I don’t scoop out my servings anymore. I know the exact weight of one serving. I can manipulate most recipes I come across and make them work for us. There are some recipes that I just don’t even bother trying to make substitutions with, but for the most part, I can make minor changes and make the meal healthy, while maintaining the taste. I will say if there is something that I am dying to have, I eat it. I do not hesitate to eat a doughnut or cupcake or bake a cake. By not depriving myself or having a “do not eat list”, I do not feel tempted to gorge on “treats” just because nor do I feel guilty when I do have them. I count them in my macros and move on.

The problem most people seem to face is their lack of knowledge and drive to learn. If people would put in the time and effort to learn what is in their food, they would (I hope) make smarter choices. Step one is knowing what you need. Step two is figuring out how to meet those needs. Step three is putting your new-found knowledge into action and doing so, consistently. It sounds simple, but with the ease of processed foods and lack of willpower, people fall short or more often exceed their caloric/macro needs, inconsistently.

No one said you can’t have Oreos, cake, cereal, peanut butter, alcohol, etc. you just have to realize that those things come with consequences. You are going to have to plan for those kinds of foods. This does not mean eating a boring lunch and supper to accommodate for such things, but knowing what substitutions to make and which recipes pair well with those types of foods. If you have been following along with me on this meal prep/planning blog, you can easily see that the food I cook is far from the boring/bland meals that most people think of when they envision meal prepping. You can count your macros without sacrificing the foods that you love to eat, it is all about controling your portions.


M E N U

Chicken Kabobs

Greek Chicken Traybake

Healthy Taco Dish

Bourbon Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries

Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta


Chicken Kabobs

I linked a basic kabob recipe in case you don’t feel like searching for one, but kabobs are completely customizable and really do not eat into the macros or require a recipe. All you need to do is chop up the meat and veggies, string them up and grill until the meat is cooked to temperature. I like to serve my kabobs over rice, but if you are watching your carbs, skip the rice. I crushed my protein goal with these.

If you do not feel like stringing your meat and veggies on skewers, you can always skip that step and grill chicken breasts and vegetables in a basket, then throw it all over rice. Simple and easy. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:  
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
*spray olive oil
* Meatchurch Fajita seasoning 
1 yellow bell pepper
2 red bell peppers
red onion or yellow

Greek Chicken Traybake

This is probably one of my favorite dishes to make. It is super easy to throw it all in one dish and just cook until the chicken is done. I love finding new recipes for chicken that have a ton of vegetables. I was pretty skeptical because I don’t cook much with artichoke hearts and have never been a fan of them on my pizza. Sometimes it just takes one ingredient to ruin a whole dish.

This dish is SUPER healthy and full of flavor. I highly recommend this to anyone that is watching their calorie intake. I added rice to my meal because I do need the extra calories, but without the rice, it was the perfect “cut meal”. Even though it is full of healthy foods, those healthy foods do have macros and calories that can still push you over your macro/calorie limit. Make sure you try this one, it would be great for a large crowd, and sure to please everyone!

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients 
*10-12 ounces red/yellow bell peppers
1 red onion cut into eighths
*around 50 total grape tomatoes 
165 grams artichoke hearts
1 lemon juiced 
*chicken breasts (3-4 for 4 servings)
2 cloves garlic crushed 
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
*70 grams black olives
*12-14 grams per serving nonfat feat crumbles

Healthy Taco Dish

This is a taco casserole, but I am going to leave the rice out so that can be added on its own according to each person’s macro needs. I think this could even be thrown in a tortilla and be great. Make sure you strain your meat before you put it in your casserole and weigh it if you are counting your macros. I am going to do this so I can get an accurate weight on my meat, rather than straining after I add in the vegetables. If you want to keep this lower on the calories, then use chicken breast instead of ground beef.

If you are adding rice to the mixture while it cooks in the oven, you will need to add the broth. If you are going to add rice to each serving after it has cooked, then you will not need the broth. The vegetables and tomatoes will prevent the meat and veggies from drying out.

Remember that the changes I make are not only for macros but also to ensure that I have at least 4 servings for two very hungry adults, plus some extra for the kids. We eat these meals for lunch and supper. Leftovers are great for tracking macros, since you already know what the macros are!

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
*3 large chicken breast
*1 onion
*4-5 ounces bell pepper, diced
*3-4 squash or zucchini 
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
2 packages taco seasoning 
1 (14-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
*70-80 grams tomato paste
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
* 1 cup jasmine rice cooked separately, 1/3 cup cooked rice per serving   

Bourbon Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries

Josh started adding bourbon to the burgers, because he loves bourbon, and it was the best choice. Literally, the best burgers he has ever cooked. Hamburgers will never go out of style and can be healthy if you don’t smother them in cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise.

When I track my hamburger I weigh out my meat after it has cooked. This is controversial in the world of tracking food, but I think that it makes sense. The fat is going to cook out of the meat, so I don’t actually end up eating all of the fat that was originally in the raw meat.

I am going to add some sweet potato fries with the hamburgers for the kids. I will eat them as a snack later on, but not with this meal. You can always mix a packet of ranch seasoning with non-fat Greek yogurt to dip the sweet potato fries in for a healthy snack.

Hamburgers have your fats, protein, and carbs (if you eat a bun). The only thing I do is eat a second hamburger patty without a bun to get in more protein. Macro-wise there is no reason to add a side dish. I know everyone loves fries with their hamburger but you are doing some major calorie intake if you do that.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients
Hamburgers: 
80/20 meat- onion powder, garlic powder, season all, chili powder, 1-2 tablespoons burbon, pepper 
Brioche buns 
Heirloom tomatoes 
Lettuce 
Onion 
Yellow mustard 
Ketchup 
Pickles 

Fries: 
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled
*spray olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
fine sea salt, to taste

Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

This pasta was everything I expected and so much more the first time I made it. I had planned to add chicken to the dish the first time I made it, but left it as a side and ate a steak with it instead. If you are a vegetarian then PLEASE give this a try! And if you are not vegetarian, try it too!

I was a little skeptical of this dish with so few ingredients, but it was delicious and more flavorful than I was expecting! The great thing about this pasta is there is no cream used. The sauce comes from the mashed zucchini, butter, and cheese. Healthy-ish.

I will either add shrimp or chicken to this meal. To track everything accurately I will leave the sauce, noodles, and meat separate until ready to plate. I weigh out one serving of the cooked carba-nada pasta, then add in the chicken that I need (usually not much since the pasta I use has a good bit of protein), and then weigh out a serving of the sauce.

I discovered carba-nada pasta a while back and I can’t tell you just how happy I am to find a substitute for pasta that isn’t a vegetable. It has 15 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.5 grams of fat per servings. It really is so good! I don’t mind spaghetti squash with my spaghetti, because it is chunky and loaded with other vegetables. For just a regular pasta dish, I don’t want mushy noodles. I want some consistency with my noodles. Carba-nada was the answer to this solution. I also really like the chickpea pasta noodles

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
1 pound pasta, *carba-nada pasta or chickpea pasta
*6-7 zucchini and or yellow summer squash, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt and black pepper 
*1 tablespoon butter
* 80 grams reduced fat Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
lemon juice, for serving (optional)
*meat of choice on the side or mixed in with the pasta

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.