How to fill your plate [food pics inside!]

Tonight I'm teaching you HOW to build your plate. Get ready, it's going to be life changing. 

In case you missed it, over the next few weeks I'm going to be sharing some of my core healthy living principles with you. These are the recommendations that I start on with ALL of my one-on-one coaching clients, so you can think of these next few weekly emails like you are starting your own coaching program with me! Cool!

Wherever you are at, these suggestions will be relevant, and if you've heard them before, that's okay! Likely you need the reminder - I know I always do!

Coaching tip #1: Start your day with a GIANT glass of water

Coaching tip #2: Fill HALF your plate with veggies.

Yup. HALF. 

If that sounds scary, no worries, I'm going to give you some ideas and easy recipes below.

If you are like "Oh, Emily, I already DO that! I guess I can skip the rest of this email." Nope. I got an extra challenge for you. Keep reading...

I grew up with healthy, home-cooked food, but usually the focus of each meal was a protein and a carb (think meat and potatoes, fish and rice, etc). We definitely had veggies, but not the extent that I eat (and recommend that you eat!) for optimal energy, focus and health!

Here's the basic formula I use in building any meal NOW and it's how I teach my coaching clients to re-think their plates.

 Step 1: Fill HALF of your plate with veggies.

You guys - this is NOT HARD. There are SO many incredible, delicious vegetables out there. If you a) think you don't like vegetables or b) are bored with your current options, TRY something new!

Yes you've got lettuces, kale, spinach, arugula, collard greens, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, but also carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, cauliflower, eggplant, onions and mushrooms, not to mention squash, pumpkin, beets, turnips, parsnips... the list goes on and on. 

For my more "advanced" friends: focus on GREEN veggies. They pack the most bang for your nutritional buck!

Now you can totally get fancy with your veggies, which I do on occasion, but most of the time I keep things simple. 

  • Eat your veggies raw. Try shredding or dicing them for different textures!
  • Roast em! This is my favorite way to eat any vegetable. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness and flavors. Do it: Roasting Veggies 101
  • Steam em! Steaming is probably the quickest option, and ideal for super fresh seasonal produce. Do it: How to Steam Vegetables 

Step 2: Add a high quality protein to 1/4 of your plate.

Protein is important because it helps us build muscles and stay FULL! 

Here are just a few protein options: poultry (chicken, turkey, etc), beef, pork, lamb, fish, seafood (crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, squid, etc), eggs, soy (tofu and tempeh) and lentils. Beans are also a protein source, but they actually count more as a carbohydrate... which leads us to the next step in our plate equation.

Step 3: The last 1/4 of your plate is for carbohydrates!

Carbohydrates are not all bad! This is probably the second biggest myth I bust for my new nutrition coaching clients (biggest myth is in Step 4 below). Carbohydrates are actually an essential macronutrient and one that our body readily converts to energy. They get a bad rep because if you eat too many carbohydrates, and you don't burn em off, your body has excess energy which it {oh so nicely} stores for later as fat. 

Without getting too specific (this does vary person to person), I recommend including a moderate amount of naturally occurring carbohydrates in your diet (hence the 1/4 of your plate).

Here are some of my favorites: sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, corn, beans, peas, all grains (quinoa, rice, brown rice, wild rice, millet, oats, etc etc), whole grain or (preferably) gluten free breads and pastas.

Step 4: Top it off with healthy fats!

"But Emily, won't fat make me fat?" No. No. NO! 

Your brain NEEDS fat to function. Your cells (especially your hair, skin and nails) LOVE healthy fats. 

Now, I'm not talking about the oil on fast food french fries fat. I'm talking fats that are naturally found in nature and that are minimally processed. 

My favorite fats: Avocado, coconut products (oil, butter, milk, flaked coconut), olive oil and olives, nuts and seeds, nut butters, hard cheese (if you handle dairy okay!), eggs (yes! eat the yolk!), fatty fish and fats on quality meats. 

Fats are higher in calories, so think of these like a dressing or condiment - a little goes a long way. 

Alright, so you have my basic "healthy plate" formula. Let me give you some ideas of what that actually looks like:

Plate 1: Romaine lettuce, peas, avocado, sauerkraut + garlic shrimp
Plate 2: Eggs, roasted sweet potato, steamed kale + beet kraut

Plate 3: Sautéed greens + mushrooms, roasted squash, avocado + chicken sausage

See how each of these plates contains all the elements above? And these are just three ideas! [Need more inspiration? Head over to Instagram]

Here's your homework assignment for this week: see if you can make ONE meal of the day match this formula. Extra bonus points if you take a photo and send it to me OR post to social media. Make sure to tag me @EmilyNachazel so I can see your beautiful plates! 

Bon apetite!