Guest post by Isabelle “Izzy” Libmann
College meal planning was easy peasy: Buy a bunch of Lean Pockets for dinners, get lunch wherever you can that’s cheap, buy Pop Tarts for breakfast, make sure there’s enough coffee and wine around for the mornings and evenings and voila! A week in early-20-something gastronomic dining! Luckily for me my age, brain and bodily functions and overall health were incredibly forgiving.
Then came adulthood. At around 28 I suddenly understood that the state of my health today would directly impact the state of my health tomorrow. Cause and effect wasn’t some sort of philosophical, esoteric theory anymore. It was a law-of-thermodynamics-laden fact.
Eating solely to fuel has never been my M.O.
I don’t want to eat chicken breast and broccoli every day because all I want to do is eat chocolate afterwards. I LOVE food. So on one end I, as a health and wellness professional, value the fact that eating a diet of mostly whole and unprocessed foods makes my body happy and helps me feel, look and perform as my best self. At the same time, though, it is important for me to find the food I eat at meals to be enjoyable, regardless of whether it’s eating in or dining out at a restaurant.
So how could I marry these seemingly opposing values — eating what helps me feel great AND eating foods that taste super good — and line them up with my health and fitness goals?
One word: Tacos.
When working on nutrition habits and skills, we want to make sure we can practice them with confidence, right? Well, I want to feel (and want my clients to feel) confident AND happy!
I realized that in order for me to love the meals I would be eating at home, I needed to plan better. So I started with one of my favorite meals! Here are the 4 biggest ways Taco Tuesdays have made me enjoy meal planning and dining at home more:
- As Josh’s book states, fat loss starts on Mondays. Or, in my case, Tuesdays. (Josh, cookbook idea: Fat Loss Starts with Tacos.) I start planning with Taco Tuesday because it takes the pressure off or planning for the rest of the week. I know that, at the very least, my dinner on Tuesdays is going to kick serious ass.
- It gives the week an anchor. Taco Tuesday is something we got to practice doing again and again so we could get mega good at it. The meal gets broken down with which protein takes focus and then which veggies and toppings will go well with it. Then I can make a grocery list and shop! Once the skill of producing Taco Tuesdaybecame pretty simple, it made planning for the rest of the week that much less daunting. (Disclaimer: I shop for almost everything in one shopping trip for the week because I don’t make time to go multiple times per week. Planning for the whole week at once took a little while to get good at. I have to admit there have been some dud meals in the mix. But it’s all about getting the reps in, right? It’s OK to start with one day.)
- It’s something to look forward to! Which I find makes me more aware of the other things I’ll be eating for breakfast and lunch and makes reaching for a snack so much more unappealing.
- It’s a versatile dish! There are a zillion ways to make tacos which means there are many ways to make them super decadent (think fried fish tacos) or much lighter (like grilled fish tacos). There are many ways to make them veggie-heavy or protein-heavy or carb-heavy, depending on your taste/goals/budget/etc. And, since it’s planned and a list is made, portions are pre-determined so I know I can thoroughly enjoy my plate without overdoing it like I could in a restaurant.
So what are the take-aways? That tacos are the ultimate dish? No 😉 But if meal planning has been a challenge or if you’ve felt like you’ve been in a rut lately, here are a few questions to get the mind jogging:
- Is there one day of the week you can start planning a meal for? It doesn’t have to be the same type of dish every Monday or Tuesday like Taco Tuesday. But it can start with just one meal one day/week.
- Is there a dish you really love to eat? Can you break down what it is you love about it? Example with tacos: I love the seasonings, I love that I can make them with steak or chicken or fish or just veggies, I love toppings like pico de gallo, guacamole, spicy mayo, shredded lettuce and cabbage, I love flour tortillas.
- Using your answers from the above, how might you create your meal(s) to taste yummy AND happily meet your health goals? Example with tacos: Most weeks I make half of my plate all veggies and then a quarter of it is the protein of the week. That last quarter can be shared with a tortilla on the side, a little guac and pico de gallo, etc. Then I can put it all together or keep it deconstructed!
So now I’m dying to know: What are some of YOUR go-to meals for the week?
Quick shrimp tacos with avocado salsa and a side baby kale salad
1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2-1 tbsp light tasting olive oil
1 tbsp any chili powder you have (I like Ancho)
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
For avocado salsa:
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup chopped red onion (or to taste)
1/2 cup chopped mango
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt to taste
Preheat grill or pan on the stove. Cook the shrimp over medium heat until they’re pink.
While the grill or pan heat up, mix your avocado salsa ingredients together and set aside.
Then, put your taco together (or, if you’re like me, keep it deconstructed) and eat with a veggie of your choice on the side!
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