I've heard it said time and time again that the more simple you keep your meals, the higher the chances that you will stick to your healthy eating goals. While I agree with this to some extent, I do think there are a few exceptions to this piece of advice. Keeping meals simple helps us when we are planning because we don't have to overthink what we want to eat. I know that I do this from time to time, especially during busy weeks. If I have some of my beloved frozen turkey burgers from Trader Joe's in my freezer, BOOM, meals for the week. If I have some sausage and sweet potatoes, I whip up a casserole and call it a day. But sometimes, especially when you are finding yourself eating out of boredom and dreading your next meal, it's time to rethink the mundane simplicity of your every day, go-to meals.
I've been feeling this kind of boredom lately. And I am a big lover of food, so when I don't look forward to my next meal...it's a problem. I realized that all I've been eating are salads with the same dressing, and some kind of protein, usually my turkey burgers. I love those turkey burgers, but sometimes, a girl needs some variety! These past few weeks, I have been giving myself so many more options when it comes to my meals. My only "rules" are gluten free (I started sneaking that pesky bugger in during and after the holidays...not a good idea), and minimal sugars, processed carbs, and processed foods in general. All else is totally game.
Let's start with breakfast. Usually, I eat veggie scrambles. Every. Single. Day. And while I love eggs, eggs every day can get a tad bit repetitive. Last week, I made some protein pancakes instead. I hadn't made pancakes in FOREVER, and I decided that I would make them again. They don't take that long to make, and are still healthy when you pack them with some protein (I used Jaime Eason's Lean Body for Her Vanilla Whey; best whey I've ever tasted!). These turned out great and added some nice variety to my morning.
I also hadn't had oats in what felt like a very long time, so yesterday morning, I microwaved my oats (short-on-time syndrome) and topped them with some chopped walnuts and blueberries. This kept me full for a WHILE and I thoroughly enjoyed my warm mushy breakfast.
And speaking of blueberries, I've just been having them as a snack lately too! On Saturday, I was pretty hungry in the mid morning, but it was almost lunch time and I didn't want too much to fill me up. So I opted for a nice bowl of bloobs and they hit the spot!
Lastly, last night, I decided to have a vegetarian dinner. I am a huge, HUGE, meat eater. I was actually vegetarian a few years back in grad school, but because of some of the health problems I experienced, I decided to add meat back into my life, and I have never looked back. But as much as I love meat, having it at every single meal can get annoying and kind of gross. Last night, I heated up a can of Amy's Organic low sodium lentil vegetable soup. I added a WHOLE lot of spinach to the pot to make it more vegetable-y (yes, it's a word), and the spinach of course shrank. Then, I added a bag of Trader Joe's frozen brown rice. The whole meal was ready in about 5 minutes, made two servings so I am all set for lunch today, and is the perfect winter stew!
If you want to add more variety to your meals while still keeping them healthy, I recommend getting started in a few easy steps:
1. Take inventory of what you have at home. I realized I have so much frozen tilapia, chicken, grass fed beef, and a mahi mahi burger that are just waiting to get eaten. You can season these meats up differently every time you cook them and get a different flavor each time.
2. Make a list of all the meals you could make adding and combining these foods. I brainstormed that I could use the chicken as a stir-fry with vegetables and some coconut aminos, I could make it into a vegetable casserole, or I could eat it with some marinara sauce and lentils (such a great combination!) I could make the grass fed beef into taco meat, or into little sausage patties. There are so many things we could create if we actually knew the foods we had on hand!
3. Start today. Start changing up your schedule today. You can still eat healthy foods while adding variety to your meals and not getting stuck in the same patterns every day. For me, getting stuck causes me to reach for variety in the form of not so healthy foods. I'd rather change up my daily meals knowing that they are still healthy and look forward to eating every day of my life!
I hope this helps someone out there who finds themselves in a food rut! What is your go-to meal every day, and what do you think you could do to spice up your meal plan a bit?