Dinner Challenge – Good Meals FASTER than Eating Out

This is my dinner challenge to people who tell me they don’t have time to cook and that it is just faster to go out.

Let’s challenge that thinking.  So…first you have to decide where to go.  That usually takes about 15 minutes of “where do you want to go” “I don’t care, where do you want to go”, “I picked last time, you pick”, etc. until finally, “OK- let’s go to the neighborhood grill”.

Once the place has been chosen, you have to load up everyone, drive to the place, wait to be seated (most restaurants have a wait, even on weeknights because everyone else is eating out these days too), try to hunt for something healthy, wait to have your order taken, wait to be served, eat, pack everyone back in the car, and drive home.  All of that takes 30 minutes at a MINIMUM!

On the flip side, lets say you decide to cook at home.  You’ve used the Maximized Living shopping list and meal plans to stock your pantry and refrigerator so all you have to do is prep and chop your ingredients, cook (almost every single recipe in the book takes 30 minutes or less), eat the healthy tasty meal, and load the dishwasher (using non-toxic dishwashing detergent of course).  All of that takes about 30 minutes – maybe 40 Max.

It is time to break through the misconceptions people have about cooking and eating.  Do this challenge yourself- I’d love to hear the results.

How do I cook my vegetables?

How do I cook my vegetables?

One question we get a lot is “Why aren’t there many vegetable recipes in the Maximized Living Nutrition Plans book?”  Many people interpret this to mean that Maximized Living promotes meat consumption over vegetables.

While the Maximized Living Nutrition Plans encourage good quality, organic, free range, pasture fed meats, it also recommends a that substantial portion of you daily intake should come from fresh vegetables (and fruits if on the Core Plan).

One of the reasons there are very few recipes for vegetables in the book is simply because vegetables do not require a lot of preparation.  Typically, a light steam or sautee with some added “good fats” and seasonings is all it takes to prepare vegetables.  Therefore, no recipe is really needed.  There are many different ways to combine vegetables, spices, and sauces but it is up to personal preference.

Here are some examples of some great ways to prepare different vegetables.

Asparagus: Drizzle with avocado oil or coconut oil, sprinkle with sea salt, grill on an indoor grill pan or roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Also great with a homemade organic hollandaise sauce.

Bell Peppers: Red Bell Peppers:  make sure you buy these organic but a great way to prepare them is to broil them in the oven until the skins are blistered and blackened- you will have to flip them several times.   Take them out of the oven and place them in a paper bag and let “steam”.  The skins will peel right off and you are left with the tender, flavorful flesh.  Eat plain or add to other dished.  You can also add some olive oil and place in the refrigerator for later use.   Green Bell Peppers:  great sautéed with sliced onions for fajitas or raw on salads or as “scoopers” for guacamole instead of chips.

Broccoli:  Lightly steam and add butter and garlic powder OR heat olive oil lightly (do not let smoke) in a saucepan and melt 1-2 anchovies – pour over broccoli.  The anchovies melt into the olive oil leaving a very tasty, salty, topping.

Brussels Sprouts: Cut sprouts in half – sautee in 1-2 tablespoons of avocado or coconut oil plus 1-2 tablespoons of butter.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  You can also add finely chopped shallots or onions to the sautee.  Great topped with crumbled organic turkey bacon.

Cabbage: Chop or slice thin and sautee in coconut oil or grapeseed oil and butter.  Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and celery seed.  You can also slice very thin for cole-slaw.  Just add homemade mayonnaise or vinegar, salt and pepper, lime or lemon juice and add any other vegetables you would like.   You can also use cabbage to make saurkraut or kimchi.  Great in any stir-fry or salad as well.

Cauliflower: Great sautéed or roasted in the oven with olive oil, garlic, and capers.  Cauliflower is also the perfect substitute for mashed potatoes.  Just steam the cauliflower and put it in a blender with a little organic milk or almond milk, garlic, sea salt, and pepper.

Cucumber: Perfect addition to salads.  Also good mixed with chopped tomatoes and topped with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper, and fresh dill.

Eggplant: Slice into 1/4 “ slices (longways or in rounds) and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.


Greens: Use raw in salad and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (If using swiss chard or kale, massage the oil into the leaves.  This will make them much more tender and flavorful).  Wilt lightly in a saucepan with olive oil, crushed garlic, and a small amount of apple cider vinegar.  Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper or a couple of grates of fresh nutmeg if desired.

Green Beans: (really a legume):  For crunchy, fresh flavor:  steam and add butter, healthy oil, sea salt, pepper, and crushed walnuts.  For more tender beans:  boil in a small amount of water until desired doneness and top with sea salt, pepper, crumbled turkey bacon, etc.

Raddichio: very good drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper and grilled.

Squash – Acorn or Butternut:  simply cut the squash in half and place face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  When done, scoop out the insides and add sea salt, pepper, and any blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, stevia.

Mushrooms: great raw in salads or sautéed with any other chopped vegetables for a stir-fry type dish.

Zucchini & Yellow Squash: These are great cooked together.  Heat coconut oil and butter in a frying pan to medium heat.  Add chopped zucchini and yellow squash to the pan and do not stir until it is slightly browned.  Add preferred seasoning blend with sea salt and pepper.  Stir and cook until desired doneness.

Chocolate Cappuccino Smoothie

My good friend Chevette tipped me off to this recipe (thanks Chevette!).  I’m not a coffee drinker AT ALL but this smoothie is delicious with just a hint of coffee flavor.  I enjoyed mine in a coffee cup

1/2 can organic coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons organic cocoa powder
2 packets Stevia (or adjust to your taste)
3-5 organic coffee beans (if you have a powerful blender like a Vita-mix, you can just throw them in…otherwise grind with a coffee grinder or small spice grinder)
1/2 cup ice

OPTIONAL:  for an extra healthy boost, you can add greens powder, fresh greens, or cabbage

Blend everything up until frothy and the coffee beans and ice are incorporated.


PS – People always ask me if coffee is OK…my answer is that coffee, in moderation, is OK.  However, everyone’s definition of moderation is different.  1 cup of coffee a day would be moderate.  Obviously, organic is better than regular and stay away from decaffinated (dangerous processing) and instant coffee.

The only caveat to that is that we never want to see anyone “addicted” or “slave to” any food or substance.  You never want to have to rely on something like caffeine to get started in the morning.  If you feel like you HAVE to have your coffee in order to make it through the day, that is more of an addiction and should be overcome.


Fresh Green Beans from the Garden

My son and I went out to the garden yesterday and hunted through the tangled bean vines and came in with a whole pot full.  There is nothing more satisfying than eating food that was grown in your own back yard.  My husband graciously build up a fenced in garden area so that the monstrous rabbits that co-habitate with us can’t eat everything.  My mother in law runs the planting operation, and my kids and I are on picking duty.  Even if you just grow 1 tomato plant, it is worth it!

I steamed these beans and put some salt and butter just before serving.  Delicious!

Kale Chips- Unbelievably Yummy!

I’m not sure I would have ever believed that Kale chips would be a good replacement for potato chips but these things are awesome.  The trick is to use a dehydrator to get the crispy texture.  I made these as samples at our Total Food Makeover last Saturday and I had so many comments about how good they were.  Here you see my kids “massaging” the kale to get it prepared for the dehydrator.

Dehydrated Kale Chips

2-3 bunches of fresh kale (lacinato/tuscan or curly)

1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Sea Salt to taste

Any other spices you would like:  garlic powder, chili powder, red pepper, etc.

#1 – Prepare the kale – I prefer to leave most of the stems in but if you are preparing for kids or skeptics, you may want to cut out the hard stems.  Chop into bite sized pieces and put in a big bowl.

#2 – Add the rest of the ingredients and here’s the trick:  massage the kale to incorporate all of the flavors and to soften the texture.  It should be about 1/2 the size of where you started.

#3 – Spread on the sheets of a dehydrator.  (I use an Excalibur that I bought refurbished for about $150- it has 9 dehydrating shelves).  Set dehydrator for 115 degrees – this keeps all of the enzymes in tact meaning it is still considered a raw food.  The dehydration process takes about 8 hours.  I usually put it in before bed and it is ready to go first thing in the morning.

ALTERNATE METHOD:  You can bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes but you lose the raw status and they are definitely not as crispy.

Another week of Advanced Plan meals

We are over the halfway mark with our Lighten Up Weight Loss Challenge group.  I am LOVING hearing about all of the weight loss and how people are spending more and more time in their kitchen, experimenting with recipes, and realizing that healthy food can actually taste great!  After this post, I will be posting some recipes that accompany some of the meals.  So be on the lookout and give them a try.  Some of them have come from Lighten Up participants! 

  Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snack
Monday K- Greens Smoothie K- Salmon salad K- Cabbage sauteed with chopped turkey bacon , pickles and dijon mustard K- Chocolate Bark
  F- Mixed Berry Smoothie & Almond Power Bar F- Bison burger, asparagus, 1/2 avocado F- leftovers F- pistachios, coconut flakes
Tuesday K-Chocolate Blueberry Smoothie K- Maggiano’s salad with olive oil and vinegar K- Chicken Artichoke Crock Pot (see recipe!) K- almonds and walnuts
  F- same F- Maggianos roasted half chicken and green beans F- Rotisserie Chicken and broccoli F- celery with peanut butter
Wednesday K- scrambled eggs with fresh strawberries K- Bison burger, asparagus, avocado K- Leftover chicken artichoke dish K- Chocolate Cupcake (see recipe!)
  F- same F- same F – same F- same
Thursday K – smoothie with flax and greens powder K- Salad and minestrone soup (without pasta) K- spinach meatballs (see recipe) & broccoli/squash K- red peppers with guacamole
  F- scrambled eggs and fresh strawberries F – Spinach Salad & bowl of chicken soup F- same  
Friday K- Chocolate- Mint smoothie K- Stir fried veggies with salsa and guacamole K- Carribean Chicken and broccoli K- chocolate cupcake
  F- Spinach Omlette F- Mexican chicken salad F- same F- pistachios
At a wrestling tournament for 2 days straight- had to pack EVERYTHING!
Saturday K- berry smoothie K- Grilled chicken salad w/ avocado  K- veggie fajitas w/ guacamole K- nutty trail mix (see recipe!)
  F- same F- same F – Chicken salad and bowl of chicken soup F- same
Sunday K- chocolate cupcake & fresh raspberries K – trail mix & granny smith apple K- bison burger, asparagus, 1/2 avocado K- almond power bar
  F- same F- Same F- same F- almond power bar