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.

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.

Create a personalized Circuit Training Workout in 5 easy steps

woman stretching for running in the city wearable watch for measure calories

by Samantha Clayton

Follow this balanced circuit training routine for a great full body workout that gets you the results you want, while limiting the possibility of overuse injuries.

Whatever your focus––be it improving your strength, cardiovascular fitness or endurance––you can benefit from doing weekly circuit training sessions.

Circuit training is a great way for people of all ability levels to exercise. Whether you’re new to exercising or a seasoned pro, you can use circuit training to help you improve your overall fitness level, and target and strengthen your trouble spots.

Circuit training involves performing lots of different exercises in one sequence. This makes it almost impossible to get bored during your session. Plus, because you get to set your own schedule, you can easily fit it into your day. Circuit training is also great because it allows you to squeeze in exercises that you don’t necessarily enjoy. Since you only have to do each move for a short amount of time, getting in some dreaded cardio or strength training work is a lot less daunting.

Here are a few simple tips to help you set up your circuit in a safe way that maximizes your time.

Choose Your Workout Duration

You can do a circuit that’s as long as 60 minutes, or as short as 5 minutes. Decide what amount of time will fit in with your personal schedule, while keeping in mind that the more intense training should be kept to a shorter duration.

Decide on Your Rest Time

You can do a continuous circuit, which is when you go from one exercise to the next without a rest until you have completed one full set. Or you can take a short rest after each exercise. The less rest you have in between exercises, the greater the challenge will be. However, having adequate rest between each full set of exercises is important, as it will allow you to work out at your very best. Base your rest times on your personal fitness level. As your fitness level improves, you will need less rest in between each exercise.

Choose Your Exercises

If you are doing a full-body circuit, try to include exercises that engage your largest muscle groups, such as legs, glutes, chest and back. Also, add in some stability-based moves that involve your core muscles, as well as some cardio. There are so many exercises to choose from, but a few of my favorites include squats, lunges, crunches, burpees, push-ups and jumping jacks.

Exercise Order

The best way to organize your workout is to avoid using the same muscle groups back to back. Alternating between lower body, upper body and core exercises can help you to avoid overworking a particular muscle. When you’re doing a targeted circuit workout and focusing primarily on one area of the body, it’s still important to think about how your joints work and how to avoid over-stressing your body. The shoulder joint, for instance, can become easily stressed out, so avoiding doing exercises like planks, push-ups and mountain climbers all in one set is important. Try to ensure that each exercise that you choose engages your muscles in a different way. When it comes to organizing your routine, common sense will steer you in the right direction.

Number of Exercises

The great thing about circuit training is that you can choose to include as many or as few exercises as you wish. I believe that it’s best to set up a circuit that allows you to repeat it three times. Adequate repetition is important when exercising if you wish to get results. For example, if you have 15 minutes for exercise, choose five exercises that will allow you to do each for 45 seconds, and perform three full sets with adequate time to catch your breath in between sets.

Planning out your own circuit can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. Though it takes a little bit of practice to design your own workouts, when you plan it out in advance and make sure it’s balanced, you’ll be well on your way to becoming your own perfect trainer.

Three Tips to Help You Squeeze in a Workout

athletic woman preparing for starting exercise

by Samantha Clayton

Here’s how to stop using excuses and finally squeeze in a workout.

When it comes to finding motivation to get up off the couch and improve your fitness level, sometimes it takes more than willpower alone to make it happen.

 ‘I’m too busy and I can’t find the time.

This is the number one excuse I hear for not exercising. You may find it hard to believe, but this was also my go-to excuse after having triplets. It was an excuse that really worked, because who would ever disagree? My four young kids sure do take up a lot of time.

And this ‘I’m too busy’ excuse sounds so much better and less embarrassing than the truth: ‘I’m just too tired and I don’t have the motivation.’

The reality is that we can all make time to add activity into our life. All we need to do is realize that excuses will only hurt us in the long term. Sometimes it takes a health scare or an embarrassing moment to force us to address the issue. But why wait for that to happen before improving your life?

My changing moment occurred when I was asked to leave a steam room at the spa after being lectured in front of a crowd on how heat could harm my unborn child. Sounds awful, right? The real problem was that I wasn’t even pregnant—my babies were five months old already. Talk about a cringe worthy moment! This was all the motivation I needed to get my body and fitness back on track.

Three ways to squeeze in a workout into your day:

  1. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier.
    This may seem like an obvious tip, but it definitely takes motivation not to hit the snooze button and lie back down.
  • My next piece of advice may seem crazy but it worked for me. For the first few weeks wear a loose fitting workout kit to bed or place your workout outfit with your tennis shoes right next to your bed. When the alarm starts buzzing, put on your socks and shoes and get to it.
  • Working out at home or close to home is the best way to start out, because it removes any excuses about joining a gym or having to travel anywhere. Sure, jogging along a beach at dawn may sound nice, but in reality, you probably need to get your workout done and dusted as quickly as possible.
  • As your body gets used to the time adjustment, add an extra 10 minutes so that you can actually comb your hair and brush your teeth before you go.
  1. Pack your workout clothes and take them to work.
    If you’re not a morning person, then it’s time for Plan B: the lunchtime power-walk. Schedule it in like you would a dentist or your hair salon appointment. It’s funny that we wouldn’t dream of not getting our hair cut, but taking care of our health often gets overlooked or sidelined.
  • Asking a co-worker to join you will give you the extra motivation not to skip a session.
  1. Split your workout into smaller segments.
    If finding a full 30 minutes is too difficult, then try to do three or more mini workouts. It’s fine to accumulate your workout throughout your day.
  • This tip works especially well for stay-at-home-moms with young children, because minding a child for 10 minutes while you jump around and squeeze in a workout is a realistic goal.
  • If you work in an office and sit down all day, try taking a brief 10 minutes to stretch out or walk around the office. It may improve your energy level and boost your concentration.

Making an activity part of your lifestyle instead of a chore makes results easier to achieve.

Once I decided to ditch my excuses and made time in my day to exercise, I was able to quickly progress to a regular spinning class, and being active became something I just did rather than something I had to think about. People even started complementing me on all the extra energy I seemed to have.

So, no excuses––everybody can find time to exercise.

For more tips on fitness and sports nutrition, visit I Am Herbalife Nutrition.