Save Time with These 8 Make-Ahead Meal Ideas

healthy dishes for meal ideas for saving time

by Susan Bowerman

Here’s how an hour or two of food prep on the weekend can help you put together healthier meals for the entire week.

Make-ahead food ideas help me stay organized, save time and always provide something healthy and delicious for when I’m hungry. I like to spend an hour or two on the weekend preparing some staple foods that I can use all week. Take a look at my top eight make-ahead food ideas.

Salad Greens
Pre-washed salad greens are convenient, but they can be pricey. Instead, I buy a variety of lettuces and greens, break them into bite-sized pieces for salads, then wash and spin them in my salad spinner. Then (don’t laugh) I put them in a pillowcase and store them in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. The salad spinner gets the greens really dry, and the pillowcase works better than plastic bags to keep them fresh and crisp. The greens don’t get soggy this way, and they stay fresh for a full week.

Pre-cut Vegetables
I pack a salad nearly every day for lunch, and I make a salad almost every night for dinner, too. To make it easy, I prepare a lot of different veggies and store them in individual containers in the refrigerator. My standbys are thinly sliced cucumbers, red onion and bell pepper, grated carrots and chopped parsley. To prep my food ahead of time, I often blanch some broccoli or cauliflower florets or roast some zucchini slices or asparagus spears in a hot oven and chill those. These veggies quickly and easily get worked into my lunch salad and dinners throughout the week.

Pan-Seared Chicken Pieces
Cooking some chicken in advance is a real lifesaver for me. Starting with about two pounds (1kg) of chicken tenders (goujons), I sprinkle them with a little salt, pepper and paprika. Then I brown them on one side in a little bit of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. I flip them over, add a few tablespoons of liquid to the skillet (white wine, broth, water, or lemon juice), cover the skillet and let them cook for 5-6 minutes until they’re done. I often add these to lunch salads, stuff some into whole grain pita pockets with veggies and hummus, or use them to make a quick soup or pasta for dinner.

Beans or Lentils
Slow cookers are great for making homemade beans or lentils. I like to slow cook black beans with onions, garlic and spices. Once they’re cooked, I keep them in the refrigerator to mix into my salad for lunch or use them as a base for a soup or chili.

Hard-Boiled Eggs
Eggs are one of the best protein sources around, and it only takes a few minutes to hard boil them. I use hard-boiled eggs as a protein source in my salads, and I often grab one for a quick snack. I like to spread a rice cake with some grainy mustard then top it with a sliced egg and some of my sliced vegetables.

Tuna Salad
When I have tuna salad in the refrigerator, it’s a lot easier for me to work more fish into my diet. I mix flaked tuna with either mashed avocado or hummus, a little mustard and a lot of chopped vegetables (again, those pre-cut vegetables). It serves as a protein source for my salad at lunch, or I’ll use a little scoop for a high-protein snack on some whole grain crackers.

Hummus
Hummus takes only a few minutes to make and will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a week. It’s also very inexpensive to make, compared with the price of store-bought versions. Start with a can of beans (garbanzos/chickpeas are traditional, but other beans work just as well). Drain the beans, rinse and drain again, then whirl in the blender with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper until smooth. Hummus with raw veggies makes a great snack, but I also use it in place of mayonnaise in tuna or egg salad, or I’ll thin it down with a little vinegar and water for a delicious salad dressing or sauce on steamed vegetables.

Salad Dressing
Bottled dressings are expensive and often high in salt, sugar and preservatives. Making your own dressing is simple and allows you to control the ingredients. I mix two parts olive oil to one part acid (citrus juice, vinegar), then add salt and pepper to taste. I vary the acid and often use a blend, like lime juice and rice vinegar. You can experiment with adding dried herbs, mustard, garlic powder or onion powder.

For more tips on healthy eating and nutrition, visit I Am Herbalife Nutrition.

A Healthy Diet for Healthy Skin

woman with healthy skin eating healthy food

by Laura Chacon-Garbato

A healthy diet is essential to the health of your body, but it’s also essential to the health of your skin.

A variety of nutrients, including protein, antioxidants, vitamins and collagen can help improve the way your skin looks. Healthy skin is easily recognizable because it’s usually glowing. Here are some nutrients to consume for healthy, glowing skin.

Nutrition for Skin Health

Eat Protein

A diet low in protein, over the course of many months, can cause a loss in skin tone. Your skin may start to sag and wrinkle beyond what would be reasonable for chronological age. Proteins are essential for tissue repair and the construction of new tissue. Cells need protein to maintain their life, so the body uses protein to “replace” worn-out or dead skin cells. Including proteins in your diet from sources like chicken, meat, fish, soy or tofu will help you solve that concern. Meal replacement protein shakes are also great options for protein consumption.

Importance of Antioxidants and Vitamins

While protein is essential to achieving healthy skin, antioxidants A, C and E are also crucial. Deficiencies in any of these nutrients can affect the health of your skin. The skin easily shows the effects of oxidative damage, and antioxidants have been shown to be potent in protecting the skin from oxidative damage. Make sure your diet includes fruits like blueberries, strawberries and apples, and vegetables like broccoli, spinach and kale. Additionally, a multivitamin is an excellent way of ensuring that you are providing your skin with what it needs to look healthy.

Collagen Consumption

The human body’s collagen accounts for 25% to 30% of its total protein, of which about 75% is skin collagen. Collagen is located primarily in the connective tissue, and it’s responsible for giving the dermis its firm structure. Look for products with hydrolyzed Verisol® collagen. Verisol® collagen works from the inside out to support the structure of the skin.* Verisol® collagen supports skin elasticity and reduces wrinkles. For added benefits, there are products in the marketplace that also contain antioxidants and minerals to support healthy nails and hair.* During the aging process, which starts in your mid-20s, the skin suffers from a progressive loss of moisture and becomes increasingly dry. When this happens, the dermis becomes thinner; the connective tissue loses its firmness and elasticity, and wrinkles and sagging start to occur.

A healthy diet can support healthy skin. It’s the best way of looking and feeling great. When you nourish your body from the inside out, with the proper food and nutrients, your body will thank you with youthful and radiant skin!

  • Verisol® is a registered trademark of GELITA AG.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

10 Heart-Healthy Foods Your Body Will Love

dish of avocado salad with arugula tomatoes  black olives and bread

by Susan Bowerman

Most people don’t need an excuse to party, but in case you need an official reason to celebrate, February doesn’t disappoint. Sure, there’s the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, but we also have Groundhog Day and Presidents’ Day. And in case you didn’t mark your calendars, February is also National Heart Health Month. You probably don’t want to celebrate this holiday with pizza and buffalo wings. So, instead, why not show everyone that you’ve got a heart of gold by preparing a delicious heart-healthy meal?

First, if you intend to drink alcohol, make a toast to your good health with a glass of champagne. Not only is champagne festive, but a glass of bubbly contains polyphenols—naturally occurring compounds found in grapes that affect the body’s regulation of blood flow and blood pressure.  We don’t recommend you drink alcohol to get polyphenols for this purpose, but maybe thinking about them this way will remind you that you should find healthful sources of polyphenols in your diet.

Next, start your meal with a colorful salad. Bright orange carrots, red tomatoes and deep green spinach owe their colors to carotenoids. These are a group of antioxidant pigments that help the heart by inhibiting the oxidation of the ‘bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood, a key step in the development of atherosclerosis.

Don’t stop there, though. Toss some avocado into your salad for a bonus. Carotenoids are also fat-soluble, so avocado’s healthy fat helps your body absorb these beneficial compounds. Even better, add some beans to your salad. Their water-soluble fiber helps to keep cholesterol levels in check.

For your entrée, grill up some fresh fish. Fish is one of the best sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help to keep certain fats in the blood within normal range (like triglycerides and cholesterol). And that can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Let yourself go “a little nuts.” Tree nuts like almonds, walnuts and pistachios are rich in substances called phytosterols, which help to lower cholesterol. Toast nuts lightly to bring out their natural flavor and then sprinkle them over salads or veggies.

There’s no better finish to a great meal than a bit of chocolate. Naturally occurring compounds in cocoa called flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that fight free radical damage and help protect the heart. The darker and more bittersweet the chocolate, the better it is for you. So, enjoy a bit of dark chocolate, or drizzle some melted bittersweet chocolate over fresh berries for a doubly healthy dessert. Berries get their beautiful red-purple colors from anthocyanins, natural pigments that act as antioxidants, too.  We don’t recommend sweets as a regular part of your diet because of the sugar they contain, but as with polyphenols, thinking about antioxidants in your desserts might help you remember to pay attention to them as part of your diet.

I’ll admit that National Heart Health Month isn’t exactly a “cards and flowers” occasion, but why not celebrate anyway? It’s a perfect time to feature heart-healthy foods in a delicious, healthy meal that you and your loved ones can literally “eat to your heart’s content.”

For more tips on healthy eating and nutrition, visit I Am Herbalife Nutrition.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips to Reduce Body Fat and Improve your Heart Health

woman with meter and bowl of salad for control weight

by Susan Bowerman

Here’s why keeping your weight in check is so important for heart health, and how a heart-healthy diet can help you control your weight.

February is American Heart Month, which is why we’re focusing this month on heart health. A “heart-healthy” diet can help you to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. That’s important, because carrying too much body fat—especially around your midsection—may increase your risk for heart disease.

Why Excess Body Fat Affects Heart Health

The larger and heavier you are, the harder your heart has to work. As you gain body fat, your body has to develop additional tiny blood vessels in order to supply oxygen and nutrients to the fat cells. But more blood vessels means an increased workload for your heart, because—in order for the blood to reach all of your cells—your heart has to work harder, and it takes more blood pressure, too.

Where you carry your fat also makes a difference. The fat that lies around the abdomen (often referred to as “belly fat”) is different from the fat deposits you have in other parts of your body. An excess of body fat that collects around your midsection and internal organs is associated with an increased risk for heart disease—in part, because of influences on blood pressure and levels of fats in the bloodstream.

Carrying extra weight can also affect your heart health in another important yet less direct way. Many people complain that excess weight makes it difficult or uncomfortable to exercise—which, of course, is so important to heart health, weight management and overall health and well-being.

Diet and Lifestyle to Control Weight and Promote Heart Health

  • Enjoy a healthy, well-balanced diet. It’s no secret that a healthy, well-balanced diet is important to good health. But it bears repeating that eating the right foods—and not eating too much —is key to weight management, which in turn helps promote heart health.
    •  Low-fat proteins from a combination of plant and animal sources will help keep saturated fat intake down, while satisfying hunger at the same time. They’re also going to be the lowest calorie choices, too. Plant-proteins are naturally cholesterol-free, and seafood provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA.
    •  Colorful fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, should be your go-to carbohydrates. They’re nutrient-rich, yet relatively low in calories, which makes them the best choices for meeting your carbohydrate needs. Their fiber and water content help to fill you up, and adequate intake of certain fibers—such as the soluble fiber found in foods like apples, oats and beans—are associated with lower levels of cholesterol in the blood, as long as you stick to a low-fat diet. And when you focus on these “good” carb sources, you’ll wind up eating fewer foods that have a lot of sugar and refined carbs, which can rack up calories quickly.
    •  Small amounts of healthy fats, such as a sprinkle of nuts, a drizzle of olive oil or a few slices of avocado, can boost flavor and nutrition in calorie-controlled meals. Using fats thoughtfully and sparingly will help you with calorie-control, since fats are more calorie-dense than either proteins or carbohydrates.
  • Exercise regularly. Cardiovascular exercise—exercise that boosts your breathing and heart rate—promotes heart health in a number of ways. Like any other muscle, your heart responds positively to exercise, becoming more efficient at pumping blood and delivering oxygen to your tissues. You also burn calories while you exercise, which can help in your weight-loss efforts, as well as to maintain a healthy body weight. Regular exercise also helps keep blood pressure under control and is a great stress-reliever. Keeping both blood pressure and stress levels in check is important to the health of your heart.

For more tips on healthy eating and nutrition, visit I Am Herbalife Nutrition.