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How to create a healthy meal in 4 steps

Being able to cook for yourself, your family, and or your friends can make you stand out amongst the crowd.


Cooking meals can bring families together, set good examples for your kids, and be great ideas for dates nights with your partner or spouse.


Cooking from home also leads to health and nutritional benefits.


For starters, you can have better control of the ingredients, better control of your portions, and personalize it based on what foods you enjoy and tolerate the best.


If you want to start making more meals of your own, but don't know where to start, write these 4 steps down and you will be able to make a healthy meal out of anything in your fridge!


Step 1. Pick a protein

I recommend starting with protein for 2 main reasons.


First, it is very satiating. Meaning it helps us to feel full.

Seconds, our lean tissue like muscle is built from the amino acids that are in the protein we eat.


Preserving our muscle is helpful to keep our metabolism working, help us manage blood sugar, and is associated with better markers of health and longevity.


The sweet spot for most people tends to be between 20 and 40 grams of protein per meal. If you don't like weighing your food, you can simply use the hand portion trick.


The palm of your hand is roughly 20-30 grams of protein from a primary protein source.


This would be foods like eggs, tofu, tempeh, chicken, steak, and or fish.

Aim for 1-2 palms per meal and you will be in a good spot with your daily protein intake.


Step 2. Pick your veggie


Veggies come in at step 2 because like protein, they are highly satiating and keep us feeling full.


The fiber in veggies contribute a lot to us feeling full after we eat them.


In addition to the fiber, the plant chemicals that veggies contain tend to have anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

For these veggies, opt for non starchy ones like broccoli, zucchini, green beans, brussels sprouts, spinach, carrots, and bell peppers.


A good portion of veggies should be about the size of a closed fist.


Step 3. Pick a carbohydrate

Carbs tend to be the scapegoat of the nutrition industry these days.


Thanks to the rise of keto and carnivore style diets, carbs have become easy to blame.


However, the literature does not stand up to these claims, and there is not enough substantial evidence to prove that carbs by themselves are bad for you.


Sure, each person will have individual needs based on what their preferences are.


Which is why it can helpful to talk through these individual needs with a professional who listens to what your body needs to feel the most energized it can!


Some of my favorite carb options include potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, lentils, beans, and whole grains.


Or fruits like bananas, grapes, and apples if you need a mid day boost of feel good energy.


1 handful of a cooked carb source or fruit is where most of you should start.


If you don't want to scoop cooked potatoes and or beans with your hand, I don't blame you, cause I wouldn't do that either.

If you want a conventional measurement for this, about 1/2 - 2/3 cup equals one handful of cooked carbs.

Step 4. Choose your healthy fat


Even though we see magazine articles in the check out line at Target saying how you can lose fat, fat is very important for us and our bodies health.

The full rundown of fat is way beyond this article here, but to summarize, fat is helpful for the following.

  1. Cell functioning

  2. Hormone production and function

  3. Energy storage

There are many more, but these 3 are probably the most common benefits.


Foods that I like to have that have fats are nuts, seeds, avocados, and some cheeses.


When cooking with fats, choose ones like olive oil, butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil, and canola oil.


The tricky part about fats is that they pack a lot of calories. 9 calories per gram.


So being able to control your portions will be helpful if you are tracking how much fat you are consuming.

That being said, the hand portion for fats is the length of your thumb or a bout 1 tbsp.


5. Bonus tip: seasoning, sauces, and spices


If you want to make your dishes pop and add some variety to them, I highly recommend experimenting with different flavor combinations.


Personally, I am still working on this, but changing the spices and and seasonings you use can definitely make any meal stand out!


Putting it together!

Here is an example of what a meal can look like using this 5 step model.


Protein: baked salmon

Veggie: green beans

Carbohydrate: roasted potatoes

Healthy fat: olive used in baking the salmon and potatoes Seasoning/spices: salt, pepper, and garlic

There you have it! 5 easy steps to create any meal out of anything in your fridge!


If you want a little more detail look at the hand portions, click the link below to read more.



My nutrition education comes from Precision Nutrition and they have tons of helpful tips on healthy eating and making it a way of life for you.


Keep these steps handy the next time you are staring at your fridge and are unsure what to make for dinner.


All the best,

Tim






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