I am a big-time food prepper. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle it has to be easy and for me that means keeping healthy food in the fridge ready to go. It’s easy to grab some carbs to round out a meal, so having some protein and veggies ready is key.
For years now I have been prepping mass quantities of chicken breasts every few weeks. I’d rather do a WHOLE BUNCH every once in a while than every few days. BBQ in bulk I say.
This is the method that works for me and I thought it might be of interest to you. My Greek marinade recipe is so simple and not a perfect science in that it is a little bit different every time…I don’t do any precise measurements when I make it. Growing-up my parents made a Greek Lemon Oregano Chicken and that is what this is based on.
With regards to counting macros, I know some people would count the lemon and the olive oil, but I take a somewhat laid-back approach to that and don’t include that in my daily macros because let’s be honest, most of the olive oil cooks off on the BBQ and just makes it so it doesn’t stick to the grill. Now, if my chicken had a sauce poured over it after it had been prepared and was served to me that way, I would most definitely count that in my daily macros.
For the “cup” measurements I just use those that are written on the side of my Vitamix. Today I doubled the recipe since I was making 15 chicken breasts as well as 2 bunches of grilled asparagus.
1 head of garlic, break apart the cloves and peel them
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 Tbs whole pepper corns
1/4 cup dried oregano
Place all ingredients EXCEPT for the dried oregano into the Vitamix and blend until smooth. Add the dried oregano and blend briefly so you preserve the leaves and don’t pulverize them (just personal preference).
CHICKEN & VEGGIE PREP
When it comes to prepping the chicken, the best trick I have discovered is to pound it. By pounding the chicken and making it all the same thickness, you end-up with evenly cooked chicken and chicken that BBQs a heck of a lot faster! It is super moist vs. having uneven dry spots like so often happens with THICK chicken breasts (as long as you don;t overcook it!).
I allow the chicken to marinade for 4-8 hours…with this amount of lemon overnight would be TOO much (learned that the hard way)! Make sure you reserve some of the marinade for your veggies. This works awesome with asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.
I like to place a flat black trash bag on my counter in order to avoid chicken juice flying everywhere (and it makes the clean-up a snap). I also pound the chicken inside a produce bag from the grocery store for the same reason. As for how the rest of the prep goes…I’ll tell it in pictures.
Once my chicken is BBQ’d and has cooled, I put about 4 breasts in the fridge and I vacuum pack bags of 4 and put them in the freezer. When I am running out of prepped chicken in the fridge I pull out a bag from the freezer and defrost it in cold water (MUCH better result than defrosting in the microwave…I’m not a huge microwave fan).
Do any of you have food prep tricks you’d like to share?
I like to change my workouts up every 4-8 weeks and tomorrow is the beginning of a new workout for me. I have spent several months focused mainly on my legs and building-up my glutes using techniques from Bret Contreras’sbook, Strong Curves, which I used as a reference to create my own workouts and decided that this time I will try and (mostly) follow a plan from BodyBuilding.com vs. creating my own workouts.
I have been lifting predominantly low rep and heavy weight for months now, so this new plan by Jamie Eason called From Flat to All That will be a departure from my norm in that the workouts for the first two weeks have rep ranges of 15-20. Jamie and her husband are going to be doing these workouts as well, so you may want to follow her in Instagram for motivation.
I am a creature of habit to an extent and like to record my workouts on paper (so un-technical I know). I created a workout log just as I normally do and thought I’d share it with all of you in case you would like to do the workouts with me as well (see below for the link to the PDF). I did make a few modifications to Jamie’s workout since I love glute bridges and wanted to make sure they remain a part of my program. I also like to do HIIT and ab training 2-3 times a week, so I added that in. She has her rest days as Wednesdays and Sundays (Saturday is an optional rest day as well), however I like to workout Monday through Saturday so I added in some more HIIT and ab work.
I’d love to have you do the workouts with me and follow along with me on my Instagram page as well. Once we are done with the first two weeks of workouts Jamie is going to release the next phase and I will share my workout log for those with you as well.
If you are interested in having me help you out with a nutrition plan to accompany this workout plan, please check-out my FitQuest Nutrition Coaching Page for program information and rates.
To download the From Fit to All That Workout Log CLICK HERE.
I thought I’d share a quick trick with you that will help you get more protein in your diet.
The one glaring consistency I see among my clients is that prior to working with me they drastically under-eat protein. Most of my clients struggle at first to find ways to add protein to their diets and this is one solution I use frequently in my own meals.
Egg whites are an amazing source of protein and they make an appearance on my table daily in one form or another.
To make the high protein taco base, I spray some olive oil (a tiny bit) into a pan, add in my measured egg whites (I used 1/3c per taco today), season with salt, top with a corn tortilla (I like the Don Pancho corn tortillas…only 10g carbs per tortilla), top with a cover and cook until no longer liquid, then flip and cook for another 30 seconds or so.
I love this method because it keeps the egg and tortilla together vs. trying to add scrambled egg whites to a taco which just ends-up getting messy and falling apart.
Today I had three tacos for lunch. The egg whites and corn tortilla usually form the base of my taco because it is filling and nutritious…the toppings change and vary between:
pulled pork (my husband makes the most amazing pulled pork!)
*I have been buying shrimp pre-cooked from Costco and pre-portioning it into 3oz. bags to keep in the freezer for quick meals
You can pretty much guarantee that I will usually add:
Good Foods guacamole (the singles from Costco are a favorite)
I have been eating GoMacro macrobars for YEARS! I think the first time I ever tried one was over a decade ago. First off they taste amazing, and secondly the ingredients are so simple and there is nothing unrecognizeable in them. I was recently sent a tray of their GoMacro minis (mini versions of their full bars) to try and there were lots of flavors that were new to me.
Just check out the nutrition information / ingredients in the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bar (my favorite):
I especially love these bars for endurance athletic events or hikes. I would much rather get my energy from these bars than from a gu of sorts and there is an awesome ratio of fats / carbs / proteins versus being purely carbs.
I am particularly partial to GoMacro’s Protein Pleasure (PB choc chip), Protein Replenishment (peanut butter), Sweet Rejuvination (cashew butter), Protein Paradise (cashew caramel), and Balanced Goodness (granola and coconut). I can honestly say that I like all of their flavors (they have 11 flavors in all) with the exception of Prolonged Power (banana and almond butter)… I am generally not a fan of banana products and only like ACTUAL bananas or banana bread, so I am not really sure that I am the best judge of that. In addition to those mentioned above, they have:
Protein Purity (sunflower butter and chocolate)
Wholehearted Heaven (almond butter and carob)
Sweet Revival (sesame butter and dates)
Sunny Uplift (cherries and berries)
Morning Harvest (apples and walnuts)
The texture of the bars is very similar to a caramel…soft and chewy. These bars are not dry like a lot of other bars out there nor are they chalky like many vegan protein products tend to be (win, win).
Ready for the quick and dirty lesson on macros and IIFYM?
Macro is short for macronutrient and macronutrient refers to the big three; carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Foods are generally categorized by the macronutrient they contain the most which is why rice is generally referred to as a carbohydrate even though it also contains protein and fat.
You may also have heard of micronutrients which are the vitamins and minerals that are essential to maintain health. Our bodies require these to run at optimal levels.
IIFYM is an acronym for “If It Fits Your Macros.” IIFYM is a lifestyle that has been embraced by many in the fitness industry…many of whom previously spent years restricting their diets (myself included) to foods they considered “clean” (whole foods aka “bro” foods such as sweet potato, tilapia, asparagus, etc.). The IIFYM revolution has opened many of our eyes to the fact that as long as you eat your set macros for the day (specific grams of Carbs, Protein, and Fat tailored to your particular needs), you can eat those macros ANY WAY YOU CHOOSE. For years it was widely believed that in order to get lean and obtain those elusive abs you needed to eat all whole foods and eliminate treats.
Those of us in the IIFYM community are proving time and time again that you can achieve health with balance. Confession time… For years I have eaten those clean foods and deprived myself of treats only to decide to allow myself a treat now and then and with that first bite I would CRACK and an all out treat fest would ensue. Trust me, you would be shocked by the flood gates that would open. It was as if I couldn’t stop myself. After these treat fests my body would scream at me and to say I felt awful (both physically and mentally) would be an understatement. These food fests as I call them would make me so disappointed in myself.
Then IIFYM came into my life. Suddenly I was able to fit a treat in if I craved it and do so guilt-free. The mental freedom that this brought me was nothing short of amazing. Knowing that I could technically have a treat when I wanted one took away the “all or nothing” mentality that previously led to my food fests while following my restrictive lifestyle.
I stumbled upon this lifestyle by chance when looking something up on the web. I honestly can’t even recall how it happened. Somehow I was directed to Corina Nielsen’s blog, live fit, and THIS particular post which led me to Layne Norton‘s vlogs and countless hours of research. The idea of finally achieving balance while simultaneously remaining fit was so appealing to me. My IIFYM searches led me to multiple Instagram pages and I again stumbled upon a gem, Katie Ringley aka katiesfitscript. I decided to hire Katie (yep Nutrition Coaches hire their own coaches too) to help me navigate this new world of Macros and IIFYM and I am so glad I did. I started my own mostly fitness-based Instagram page (fitquestmom) and continue to gain inspiration from those I follow. Trust me when I say that following people you respect and that inspire you helps keep that fire stoked within to hit those workouts hard!
That being said, 90 percent of my food still would be considered bro foods because that is what I truly like to eat and what makes me feel the best (gotta get those micronutrients in). I am now more fit than ever and the flexibility this lifestyle has afforded me is so freeing.
I am such a believer that I went back to school and earned another nutrition certification so I can help others achieve the health and balance I have finally found. I am now an ISSA Fitness Nutrition Specialist and have been helping clients learn this simple and maintainable lifestyle.
My client, Gracie, was able to achieve the results you see below in just 9 weeks and I have to tell you they were 10 weeks when she was traveling for work, working CRAZY hours, and experiencing a truckload of personal stress.
In her own words:
“I have started another part of my path in life. Instead of just trying to ‘lose weight’ my focus is on being the healthiest person I know my body wants to be. I am working with such a great, positive, supportive, loving woman! @fitquestmom has put me through a nutrition program. I am coming up on 10 weeks now and this is my progress so far. I am very thrilled by my results due to the fact that I am doing it healthy this time. Counting macros is everything! And patience is another. You must have this…health is not a race but a lifestyle…Diet is almost what got me to this point…my workouts have now picked up again finally (due to an old injury acting up from time to time). I am so happy that I have made it this far, but I know I still want to achieve excellence in myself.
Before I started the program I told Gretchen why I wanted to do this, ‘I want to wake-up every morning and look in the mirror and be happy in my own skin.’ I can finally say that is where I am right now and I am overjoyed! I feel comfortable with myself again. I can’t wait to see where the next 12 weeks takes me. So thank you for standing strong beside me @fitquestmom, I really couldn;t have done it without you. XO.”
I truly love helping people learn how to eat and how to create a lifestyle that is healthy and easy to maintain. I want my clients to learn how to eat in a way where they can go out to eat, live their lives, and not be stuck with a Tupperware kind of life. Through macro counting my clients are able to lean out while eating as many calories as possible. The popular diets out there ruin our metabolisms through constant restriction, super low calories, and FEAR of carbs. I love bringing people back into the world of eating carbs while simultaneously leaning out.
One thing I stress is that if you are looking to lose 10 pounds in the next 2 weeks, my programs and approach to IIFYM is not for you. As I mentioned before, I like my clients to achieve results while eating as many calories as possible, so it oftentimes can take a few weeks for us to find the sweet spot where my client is eating a satisfying amount while simultaneously leaning out. My programs are not cookie cutter and are tailored to the individual.
Does IIFYM only work for those who are fitness minded? No, of course not. Achieving the lean and toned look is done most efficiently while following IIFYM along with lifting weights, but it doesn’t have the happen that way. I calculate your macros based on your activity levels, how much you have been eating, and a multitude of other factors. IIFYM is for anyone and everyone.
The IIFYM lifestyle does require you to track your food (I use MyFitnessPal) and if that doesn’t appeal to you, then IIFYM is not for you. I also weigh my food when I am at home, but quite honestly once you have been doing that for a few months you get REALLY good at guesstimating the amount you are eating which makes it really easy for me to keep track of my food when eating out. Once you get through that initial learning curve you are home free.
If you are interested in trying to calculate macros on your own, here is a general IIFYM calculator. When you work with a coach, they take much more into account when planning your specific macros, but this is a good place to start.
In my next post I will go into detail with regards to how MyFitnessPal works and how you can use it to track your macros.
P.S. If you are interested in seeing what I eat on a daily basis, feel free to send me a “friend request” on MyFitnessPal. My username is gretchentseng.
I can’t believe so much time has passed. Have I really not posted since December 2013??? Wow. Crazy.
Life has been good to me and my family. In November of 2013 we closed on our house in Idaho and made the move from California to our new home. We hosted Thanksgiving with our families from both sides in our new empty home and it was such a wonderful way to christen it. The watercolor above is of one of my favorite farms in my neighborhood.
Since then we have been adjusting to life in our new state and I have to say it has been the best thing we have ever done as a family. We have a much more active and outdoors kind of life now and I even have that big beautiful organic garden I have always dreamed of! My dad and I built the trellis below for my garden last summer.
While I have remained physically active, in the past year I have also reignited my passion for lifting weights. Through lifting weights I stumbled upon Corina Nielsen’s blog, and she opened my eyes to the world of IIFYM aka “if it fits your macros.” I promise to blog about what exactly IIFYM is in a detailed post soon, but suffice it to say, it has been life changing for me.
I began working with a nutrition coach (who I will be sure to interview for you all soon) and the results blew me away. By simply prescribing me a diet of macros (macro-nutrients; carbs, fats, proteins) in gram amounts specific to my needs, I was able to lean down considerably and increase my strength in the gym. Perhaps the best thing about IIFYM is that it is up to you how you chose to eat those macro-nutrients. i.e. would you rather eat a pop tart or a sweet potato for your carbs, tofu or chicken for your protein, avocado or butter for your fats…obviously the healthier foods you choose, the more micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) your body will get.
Below is a before and after of the beginning of my IIFYM journey from mid October 2014 (LEFT) to 12 weeks later (RIGHT). Apparently that is also the amount of time it takes to achieve an awesome pasty winter complexion!
You all know how I am an absolute nutrition geek, so this new lifestyle led me down the path of studying for yet another nutrition certification.
I am now a certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition through the ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) and have been working with clients and loving it. Not only am I able to work with clients in person, I can also work very successfully with clients online…in fact that is how I worked with my nutrition coach (and continue to do so).
For more information about my services click the FitQuest Nutrition Coaching tab above. I would love to work with any and all MOTIVATED clients… As stated brilliantly by a coach I respect deeply, Sohee Walsh, “I am a coach, not a cheerleader” so please make sure you are truly motivated.
So what does all this mean for Veggie Grettie??? The blog will continue, but with a different spin. There will be recipes (still gluten and dairy free…and yes…I do still eat meat…and no…there does not need to be any more discussion about that), there will be nutrition and fitness information, there will be reviews of products I LOVE, and as always my love of veggies lives on, though it is no longer the sole focus of this blog. I am living a much more BALANCED life now and as thus, am transitioning to “Balanced Grettie.”
For those of you interested in following my day to day escapades, I am now on Instagram as fitquestmom.
"The diet that helps to reduce weight in the short run needs to be the same diet that creates and maintains health in the long run."
~T. Colin Campbell
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