As the deep cold of winter sets in, it’s human nature to crave hearty, rich comfort foods and to crave the couch instead of the gym. It’s part of the reason why many of us put on weight and get out of shape January through March. We’re helping you and your family get a fresh start this new year. Here are some tips and tricks to avoid winter weight gain and help you load up on fresh fruits and veggies so you can make 2019 your best year yet.
Fitness Tips & Tricks
- Plan to exercise every day. Inevitably something will come up a few days a week and it won’t happen, but you’ll still get in four good workouts a week.
- Book classes at the gym the week ahead. Put them in your calendar so it’s not an option. It’s booked and you are going.
- Invite a friend to run or walk with you so you feel more accountable.
- Remember that strength training is your best bet when it comes to building lean muscle mass and burning fat. It’s very efficient for busy moms on the go. Hours on the treadmill or elliptical can only get you so far. Don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights. If you’re also eating right, you will not bulk up — and weight training helps you burn calories and fat all day long.
Nutrition Tips & Tricks
- Consider a fruit and veggie delivery service so you have fresh fruits and veggies being delivered right to your door along with simple, healthy recipes.
- Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. Plan ahead and make lists so you buy the right foods that will keep you on track or shop online so you’re not tempted in the store.
- Focus on getting the right balance of macronutrients. You can sign up for apps to track macros and calories (such as MyFitnessPal). About 40 percent of your diet should be made up of carbohydrates like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. 30 percent should come from proteins like fish, lean cuts of poultry and beef or vegetarian sources like tofu or tempeh. The remaining 30 percent of your diet should be healthy fats such as nuts, heart-healthy oils like olive oil or avocado, and clean nut butters.
- Commit to eating a vegetable and protein at every meal. Add peppers and mushrooms to a morning omelette or spinach to your smoothie. Choose soup or salad for lunch. Never serve a dinner without a side of veggies.
- Drink no less than half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., you should drink at least 75 oz. of water a day (that’s between nine and 10 8-oz. glasses of water).
- Make foods that trick your brain into thinking you’re eating your favorite comfort foods, but swap in clean, nutritious ingredients. Here are a couple of hearty, yet healthy veggie forward meals that will help you get a fresh start to 2019.
Roasted Butternut Squash “Mac & Cheese”
1 butternut squash, cut in half
1 white onion, peeled and quartered
1 clove of garlic, skin still on
1 T olive oil
1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
1 C veggie or chicken stock
1 lb. pasta (like whole wheat penne or gluten-free options)
1/2 C panko bread crumbs
2 T chopped fresh basil
salt & pepper to taste
Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Lay halved squash, quartered onion, and garlic clove on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and roast for 35 minutes, or until squash is soft. While veggies roast, cook pasta according to box instructions, and drain. When squash is done, pull pan from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Once squash is cool enough to touch, scoop out seeds and discard. Peel the garlic clove. Scoop the remaining squash into a blender, adding the quartered onions, peeled garlic clove, veggie stock, chili flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend on high until sauce is creamy and smooth.
Pour sauce over pasta and combine. Add pasta to an oven-safe baking dish, and top with panko and fresh basil. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the bread crumbs are a golden brown color.
Serve as is, or serve with grilled or baked chicken and a side salad.
Sweet Potato Chili
2 C sweet potato, diced (skin on is great)
1 bell pepper, diced
1 C tomato puree
1 small can tomato paste
2 cans of beans, drained and rinsed (like black & pinto)
2 C salsa
4 C stock (I used chicken; veggie stock is great, too)
3 C shredded chicken (can add ground turkey, beef, or omit meat altogether)
4 T chili powder
2 T cumin
2 T garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
toppings: cilantro, sour cream, cheese, tortillas, jalapeños, tortilla chips
In a large soup pot, combine sweet potato, bell pepper, tomato paste, tomato puree, salsa, and stock. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Add dry seasonings, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add cooked chicken and beans, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper, and add what you need.
Once the sweet potatoes are soft and cooked through, you can serve. (However, I like my chili to simmer on low for about an hour to fully develop the flavors!) Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy! This soup freezes really well, too.
Ashley Weingart is the founder of Perfectly Imperfect Produce, a fresh fruit and vegetable delivery service working to end food waste and improve healthy food access in Northeast Ohio. Aubrey Johansen is the Recipe Developer for Perfectly Imperfect, each week turning “ugly produce” into delicious meals using the contents of the box.