A formula meal is a dish that follows a specific formula each time, but allows you to change up the flavors and ingredients to create different takes on the same dish. I love that formula meals are customizable and don't require a recipe. They’re definitely my preferred way to cook! In today’s formula meal walks we're putting together a healthy breakfast. Whether you're looking to start your day with a warm, cold, sweet, or savory dish -- I’ve got you covered.

Formula Meals: Healthy Breakfast

A formula meal is a dish that follows a specific formula each time, but allows you to change up the flavors and ingredients to create different takes on the same dish. I love that formula meals are customizable and don't require a recipe. They’re definitely my preferred way to cook! In today’s formula meal walks we're putting together a healthy breakfast. Whether you're looking to start your day with a warm, cold, sweet, or savory dish -- I’ve got you covered.If you’re like me, you seek out recipes that use clean ingredients and are simple to make — especially first thing in the morning. Most people know it’s important to eat a healthy breakfast, but many people are confused about what to eat. They want easy and delicious options that will keep them full and satisfied until lunch.

That’s where my formula meals come in.

What is a formula meal, you ask? A formula meal is a dish that follows a specific “formula” each time you make it, but also allows you to change up the flavors and ingredients to create different takes on the same meal. The best thing about a formula meal is that there’s no require required. It’s definitely my preferred way to cook!

In today’s formula meal walks we’re putting together a healthy breakfast. Whether you’re looking to start your day with a warm, cold, sweet, or savory dish — I’ve got you covered.

Some of the common mistakes I see with my clients are either skipping breakfast altogether OR eating an unbalanced breakfast. When designing any meal it’s super important to include a high fiber carbohydrate, a lean protein, and a healthy fat. Breakfast is no different. An unbalanced breakfast (or no breakfast at all!) can result in a mid-morning hunger crash, which usually leads to overeating and mindless snacking later in the day (not to mention a cranky attitude). Eating a balanced breakfast keeps you satisfied all morning long, helping you avoid the Starbucks drive thru (or the vending machine) by 10 am.

Here’s the formula:

1 part protein: Include a lean protein source like eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, hemp seeds, turkey or tempeh sausage, protein powder, and beans/legumes.

1 part fruits OR veggies: For savory options include sauteed veggies like spinach, peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini (great with eggs or even as a topping for savory oatmeal). On the sweeter side, fresh fruit is a great choice. Try sliced apples, berries with your yogurt or cottage cheese, or mashed bananas in your oatmeal. Tip: go seasonal when you can…think apples in the fall, peaches and strawberries in the summer, oranges in the winter, etc.

1 part healthy fat: Add a serving of healthy fats like nuts, flax seed, chia seed, eggs, avocado, cheese, nut flours (like almond flour for gluten free pancakes), or nut butter to add even more staying power to your breakfast. Sometimes the fat and the protein are combined together, and that makes it easy!

1 part whole grains OR beans: Fiber is a crucial part of a filling breakfast, and it can come in the form of whole grains or beans. A serving of whole grains typically includes oats, whole grain toast (sprouted if you can find it) or quinoa. Beans include black beans, lentils or even bean flours like chickpea for making gluten free dishes.

Remember, the combination of protein, fat, and fiber is what keeps you full and energized.

Looking For Inspiration? 

Want More Formula Meals? Try these:

Stir Fries

Quinoa Salad

Energy Balls

Egg Muffins

Superfood Salads

How to Stay on Track at Summer Cookouts

It might feel impossible to stay on track with your health goals when you’re hanging out at cookouts all summer long, but I assure you it can be done. Staying aligned with your health goals and still having fun can be done, it just takes some thoughtful preparation. Keep in mind not all these tips may work for you. This is totally normal. Use the ideas that match your specific situation and eating style. Remember, healthy eating is not "one way fits all." The strategies that feel right for you are the best ones!

I love firing up the grill and entertaining in the summer — it’s a great excuse to get outside, be around friends, and whip up some fresh, seasonal dishes. I’ve also been to plenty of cookouts and parties where the only options are hotdogs, potato salad, chips, and soda. I’m guessing you have, too?

It might feel impossible to stay on track with your health goals when you’re hanging out at cookouts all summer long, but I assure you it’s not. Staying aligned with your health goals and still having fun can be done, it just takes some thoughtful preparation.

Peruse, Then Choose

An oldie, but a goodie, my friends! Before you load up your plate, peruse all your options and take note of what’s there. Once you’ve done that, you can decide which foods you’ll actually enjoy before just mindlessly piling stuff on your plate. In other words, if you’re not in love with potato salad, don’t load it on your plate just because it’s there. It’s easy to eat mindlessly when you’re at a party (especially when tempting foods are the main focus) but taking a few minutes to check in and think about whether you really want something before you put it onto your plate is a great mindfulness exercise to keep you on track.

Bring a Healthy Dish

Bringing a healthy dish to the party is my personal secret weapon for cookout invites. Being a mostly plant-based eater, I tend to have less choices at cookouts, so sometimes my own dish is all I eat. But that’s not the case for everyone. At the very least, your own healthy dish can serve as a supplement to normal cookout fare to help balance your plate.

Don’t Arrive Starving

If you’re planning on skipping breakfast and snacks to “save calories” for a summer soiree: don’t. When you show up to a party ravenous it’s nearly impossible to make sensible eating decisions. You’ll be too hungry to think through what you’re piling onto your plate (or into your mouth if it’s finger food) and you’re likely going to overeat. My advice for day-of-event noshing is to eat normally, but with an extra focus on getting in lots of fresh veggies and fiber. This will allow you to arrive already satisfied and help you to choose foods more in line with your goals, rather than feeling the need to “make up” for all the food you didn’t eat earlier in the day.

Stick to Your Plate

Eating without a plate is a surefire way to take in lots of unintentional calories. It’s way too easy to pick up a handful of this or that, unknowingly overdoing it before you even made your “real” plate. Rather than loitering around the food table, it’s a much better idea to place a handful of chips on your plate and then walk away.

Stop When You’re Satisfied

This is another time when taking a second to slow down and think about your food choices makes a big difference. Rather than eating until you’re stuffed, eat until you’re satisfied. It can take a lot of practice to recognize when you’re satisfied, but here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

Am I still hungry?
Am I finishing my plate just because it’s in front of me?
Am I even enjoying this food?
Am I thirsty?
Have I saved room for dessert? 🙂

If you’re satisfied, but just feel awkward without a plate or cup in your hands, sip on kombucha or seltzer water and focus on the company you’re in, rather than filling up another plate.

Pre-Commit

This is a great one if you already know the menu. Deciding what you’ll eat before you even arrive takes all the thinking out of the equation and allows you to just relax and have fun. This strategy works great when eating out at restaurants, too!

Keep in mind not all of these tips may work for you. This is totally normal. Use the ideas that match your specific situation and eating style. Remember, healthy eating is not “one way fits all.” The strategies that feel right for you are the best ones!

When it comes to cutting back on sugar, it’s important to have a plan. If you’ve ever tried to quit cold turkey, you’ve probably figured out that avoiding sugar altogether is stressful, unsustainable, and leaves you craving it more than you ever did before -- none of which is good for your mental health or resolve. Learn how to create your own sugar strategy and end your battle with the white stuff, for good.

How (and Why) to Create a Sugar Strategy

When it comes to cutting back on sugar, it’s important to have a plan. If you’ve ever tried to quit cold turkey, you’ve probably figured out that avoiding sugar altogether is stressful, unsustainable, and leaves you craving it more than you ever did before -- none of which is good for your mental health or resolve. Learn how to create your own sugar strategy and end your battle with the white stuff, for good.

When it comes to cutting back on sugar, it’s important to have a plan. If you’ve ever tried to quit cold turkey, you know first hand that avoiding sugar altogether is stressful, unsustainable, and leaves you craving it more than you ever did before — none of which is good for your mental health or resolve. At the same time, eating too much sugar is one of the main culprits in the manifestation of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and metabolic syndrome.

So, how do you strike a balance? By creating a sugar strategy.

I like to define a sugar strategy as a personal policy for how, when, and why you eat sugar. First and foremost, your strategy has to be sustainable long-term — and this means it has to be reasonable and meaningful. Telling yourself you’ll never eat sugar again is not a policy. It’s a recipe for rebellion that will leave you knee deep in jelly donuts before you even get started.

The most effective sugar strategy is one that allows for a natural intake of sugar. Anything that feels too forced or restrictive will likely backfire and lead to bingeing, regret, guilt and shame.

Creating a sugar strategy is not one-size-fits-all and I can’t create it for you. It has to be meaningful and motivating to YOU. It also requires you to do some inner work first to figure out the reasons behind your desire for sugar and sweet foods, and why you overeat them.

Here’s how you do it: 

1. Get Triggered

Figuring out the triggers behind your desire for sugar and the situations in which you find yourself craving and overeating sugar is the first step towards creating a successful sugar strategy. Beating a sugar craving requires being mindful of your triggers. Have you set up your life so that sugar is “the answer” to your problems? Whether it’s stress, boredom, procrastination, fatigue, sadness, pain, fear (or another emotion you don’t want to feel) is sugar your go-to to drown out unwanted emotions? For many, sugar cravings are a response to being triggered by an emotion. Seeing yourself react in this way is a great opportunity to understand yourself better. Noticing, for example, that after every Friday team meeting, you “crave” a sweet snack from the vending machine. Or after dinner, when you’re watching TV, how you suddenly “need” a sweet snack. Or after every call with your mom you find yourself craving a Starbucks frappucino. These moments that trigger you are a window into what’s behind your desire for sugar, so take note.

2. Ask Yourself This Question

Now that you’ve become more aware of your sugar triggers, you’re one step closer to changing your relationship with sugar. Once you get used to noticing how often you reach for a sweet, you’ll begin to break your impulsive reaction to cravings. So when you hear yourself saying “I want something sweet,” you know you’ve tripped your silent alarm. The mindful work starts right after your alarm goes off, and this tends to be the hardest part for my clients. When you hear the alarm, ask yourself: what am I really needing right now? Hint: it’s not sugar…in fact, it’s likely not food-related at all. If you’re open to understanding yourself better, the answer will be right there, bubbling at the surface.

3. Make it Count

What if you just want something sweet? Yes, it happens! Here’s where it really helps to have standards. For me, I make my sugary snacks count. Go big or go home, right? I recommend you choose something you will truly enjoy. If you’re going to indulge, make it be the most enjoyable, high-quality treat you can muster up and really take the time to savor it. There’s little satisfaction in scarfing down a cheap chocolate bar just to get the sugar rush (see 1 and 2 above). Instead, savor a square of really nice dark chocolate and enjoy its flavor and quality. Or plan to have your favorite decadent dessert on Friday night. By consciously choosing higher quality sweets that truly satisfy, you’re far less likely to give into a sugar craving at the vending machine or gas station. Make your sweets count!

4. Decide on Frequency

Another principle I’ve found helps many people is to limit yourself to one sugary snack per day. Most of us realize that having all the sugary snacks we want, anytime we want them, isn’t going to end well. However, when you’ve planned for a square of chocolate or a small scoop of ice cream for dessert, it’s a lot easier to skip out on those mid-morning or afternoon temptations without feeling deprived or restricted. Deciding when you will have your snack early on will make sweets far more enjoyable, as no guilt or shame is attached to a planned snack. It will also help you to treat sugar with respect, as you learn to appreciate and look forward to what you’ve chosen.

5. Focus on Natural Sugar

Another way to get a handle on your sugar intake is to opt for natural sugars. This way you can still fulfill a sweet tooth, but in a much healthier way. Even though the sugar found in fruit is still sugar, it’s found naturally alongside fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. That’s a much better deal than added sugars, which pack on grams of sugar without adding any nutritional value. Satisfying your sugar cravings with fruit is a fantastic way to limit excess sugar while upping your produce intake – something that’s long been associated with healthy body weight and lower cardiovascular risk.

6. Don’t Get Weird

I love my veggies as much as the next gal, but I also love a little sugar in my life. Keeping it realistic is my goal and cutting out all sugar in your diet isn’t normal. It’s also unrealistic, unsustainable and most of all, unnecessary. In other words, stop being weird about sugar. It makes sense for there to be a moderate amount of added sugar in some packaged foods (think granola and energy bars, marinades, and salad dressing). Eating something that is made infinitely better with the addition of 1-2 grams of sugar isn’t going to hurt you and it’s not the end of the world. As soon as you start getting crazy about this, you’ve missed the point entirely. A few grams of sugar in your bbq sauce is not the same thing as eating a jelly donut for breakfast everyday with a Big Gulp on the side.

Putting It All Together

If you want to go from being in a battle with sugar to being in a relationship, cutting it out completely and denying yourself isn’t the answer. You can have your cake and eat it, too – just choose a cake you truly enjoy. Savor the flavor and the company it comes with. And then, my friends, let..it…go. Don’t make it mean anything about you, your resolve, your will power, or your weight. Instead, try it my way: recognize your cravings as triggers, create new responses to those triggers, set reasonable limits on your intake, and focus on quality.

Good luck!