• Theresa Gentile

Updated: Aug 17, 2019




Hi friends, my name is Stephanie, Theresa invited me to post here on her blog to share some tips with you all, but first a little about me! I’m the author of www.Mealprepwithme.com which is a blog I started after I lost 90 lbs. Once people were able to see my weight loss, I was constantly being asked about how I did it. I’d tell them that I count calories by meal prepping, and people would all react similar: “Meal prep? Oh, I don’t have time for that!” and they would mostly become disinterested or ask if I’d heard of some fad diet, they were thinking about trying.


Over time, I had many friends ask me for my recipes whenever I shared what I was eating on social media. Eventually I decided I should blog about it so that everyone could have access to my recipes! I post new recipes weekly and share tips on meal prepping and bulk meals.


Over the course of my weight loss and maintenance I have learned lots of great tricks to make my meal prep easier and less time consuming. I’m going to share with you a great list of tricks to help you prepare yourself to eat healthy all week long. Whether you want to meal prep or not these tricks can help you stay on track and remove the stress of eating healthy.


Plan Ahead

This is the big one. It’s common sense, and I’m sure you’re thinking “well, yeah, obviously!”. If you want to eat healthy but you find yourself falling apart halfway through the week and end up eating take out because there’s “nothing to eat in this house!” What you need to do, is make it easy for yourself to make god choices when it would be so much easier to just pick something up!


I recommend that you schedule a day at the end of each week to plan out what you will eat next week and plan your grocery shopping for that. If you don’t think you can eat the same things all week and you’d rather cook throughout the week that’s completely fine, but you still need to plan for it! For example, Let’s say, this week I want to have chicken salads for 3 of my lunches to bring to work, snack boxes for the other 2. I want to have a soup for dinner 2 nights this week and maybe 2 nights I’ll have BBQ chicken breast with roasted sweet potato and asparagus and 1 night I have plans to have dinner with a friend.


So, you know what you want to eat, and you know how much food you’ll need. Now you can find some recipes and then build your shopping list!


What to Eat

My final tip is don’t feel like you must eat things you don’t like just because they’re healthy. If you don’t like salads, and they feel too much like diet food, don’t eat them! Find foods you enjoy and find a way to make a healthy version. Are there any special meals you love at your favorite restaurant? Get on the google-machine and see if you can find a healthy version of that thing! My favorite is Chipotle copycat recipes for their chicken or Olive Garden copycat recipes for their soups. There is no shortage of healthified copycat recipes on Pinterest!

LINK: http://www.pinterest.com


Stock the Pantry

Keeping your pantry (fridge and freezer) full of essentials is another important step to eating healthy. It ensures you always have plenty of options available as well as herbs and spices on hand whenever you need them. If you’re busy or just more likely to take the easier option of eating fast food, knowing you have everything you need to make a lot of your favorite dishes already in your home will help keep you from running out to a restaurant.

What you need:

· Spices

· Dried herbs

· Cooking oils

· Rice

· Pasta

· Frozen chicken

· Frozen Ground beef

· Frozen or canned vegetables for soups

· Salad dressings

· Marinades, sauces

· Frozen Fruit

You might like my Pantry Essentials List found here: https://mailchi.mp/55fa92f0f03a/meal-prep-essentials-printable


Prep Vegetables

After you do your grocery shopping, I recommend that you prep all your vegetables right away. Wash and dry everything and trim and slice all your vegetables and store them in containers lined with paper towel. When you want to throw together a salad it’s already cut you just have to toss the ingredients in a bowl and add dressing! You can do the same for a stir fry, soup or when you want a snack.


Prep Protein

To speed things up, you may like to cook your proteins ahead of time. Too keep meats versatile throughout the week I recommend cooking with light seasonings like salt and pepper and keep it in the fridge to add to dishes throughout the week and adding more flavor at serving (there where your stocked pantry comes in handy!) For example, you can cook chicken breasts and cube or shred it to add to pasta dishes, soups, stir-fry’s, or salads. Toss your cubed chicken in some teriyaki and serve with some rice and steamed broccoli.

If you prefer not eating meat you may still prep your vegetarian/vegan proteins ahead of time as well. I love roasted chickpeas, baked cubed tofu, or lentil curry for easy pepped ahead meatless options. You might even like my chickpea curry recipe:

https://www.mealprepwithme.com/chickpea-curry-recipe/


Prep Starches

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, couscous or pasta are all great options. Select 1 or 2 each week to cook and keep in the fridge to build your meals. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are great roasted and eaten at any meal. Serve it with a couple eggs for breakfast, or some of your prepped ahead protein and a side salad from your prepped raw veggies.


Storage Tips

When storing your cooked food ensure that everything is cool before adding lids to prevent your food from becoming soggy or steaming itself further. Add paper towel under and on top of chopped leafy vegetables and keep any vegetables the have a lot of water in them like tomatoes whole or they will become wilted. Consume everything within 3-5 days for the best quality.


Depending on how you like to eat you may choose one of two options or a combination of both:


1. Prepare your ingredients and store them separately in large containers to create a variety of meals throughout the week.

2. Prepare your ingredients and portion them into single serving meal containers (this is the better option if you eat out of the house i.e. work lunches)

I like to do a combination of both options. Usually, I’ll make a soup or other single pot meal for taking to work and then I’ll prepare something like salad ingredients and grill some chicken to store in the fridge for dinners for the week.


Meal Prep Tools

Tools that you will use the most are probably all things you already have on hand such as:

· Sharp knives

· Large cutting boards

· Rimmed baking sheets

· Silicone baking mats (or parchment paper)

· Large mixing bowls

· Kitchen scale

· Wooden spoons

· Spatulas

· Large frying pan

· Large pot

· A blender or stick blender

· Meal size containers

· Bulk size containers


You don’t need any fancy tools to eat healthy! I’d just recommend investing in some good knives and a knife sharpener! In my mind, nothing is more miserable than chopping veggies with dull knives!


I hope with these tips you will feel armed with a plan and empowered to eat healthy while enjoying what you’re eating! Do you have any special tricks or tips that you use in your life to keep you eating healthy? We would love to hear about them in the comments below!


Thanks for reading!

Stephanie


If you’d like to see more from me, here’s where you can find me:

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/mealprepwithme

Facebook: www.facebook.com/stephmealprepwithme

Instagram: www.instagram.com/mealprep.withme

Twitter: www.twitter.com/stephmpwm

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  • Theresa Gentile

Updated: Jun 28, 2019

A sweet and salty combination of strawberries and pretzels, mixed with healthy, high fiber oatmeal makes a quick snack.




If you're an energy ball fan like myself, you'll love these strawberry pretzel energy balls. They're perfect for a quick snack on the go. Easy to make, healthy, full of protein and these are high in fiber, too.


They're especially great for:

1. School lunch boxes

2. Long car trips

3. Post sports practice

4. The beach/park

5. Post gym workout

6. Anytime you need a healthy, protein-rich little pick me up

They’re perfect for kids who need healthy snacks during the day to keep up their higher energy demands and for adults who need a portion-controlled snack to fuel their metabolism and ward off sluggishness.


If you love no bake energy balls, see my other recipes:


No Bake Energy Balls with Chickpeas

Date, Cashew, Orange No Bake Energy Balls


I used dried strawberries in this recipe which prevents the balls from getting to mushy (and because I happened to have a bag from Rite Aid (for only $1.00, might I add). I also like the slightly tart taste of the dried strawberries in these.


Because I love sweet and salty together, I folded in crushed pretzels as well. A note on the pretzels, though - they'll get mushy if the energy balls are refrigerated, SO, if you're using the pretzels, you may not want to put them in the fridge. You'll, therefore, need to eat them within 2 days. (Which isn't exactly hard - these are super yummy! (I'm quoting my 4 year old...lately everything is "super".))


Super pro-trick (the super superlative is catchy, isn't it 😉)-- use a food processor, vitamix or blender or Nutribullet. At first I didn't because it was yet another gadget I had to lug out of the cabinet and eventually wash. But it actually makes the whole process less messy - otherwise it's all sticky on your hands and you need flour to prevent all that honey from coating your hands. But, your choice - you can certainly make these quick energy balls without any fancy gadgets.


Oats are the base of the energy ball recipe. Quick cooking Old Fashion Oats and either the 1 minute or 5 minute oats are fine. Natural peanut is best to use because it's healthier and adds more creaminess, so you'll need less sticky sweeter.


Energy balls can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 weeks. You can freeze energy balls, too. Lay them flat in a plastic storage bag and remove air from bag. (Although they might be a little soggy when you defrost them; I haven't tried. My guess would be that energy balls would be nice still chilled from the freezer.)




What's your favorite kind of energy ball??


Happy eating!











No Bake Strawberry Pretzel Energy Balls


Ingredients:

1 cup oats (can be 1 minute or 5 minute oats)

1/3 - 1/2 cup All-natural smooth peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup dried strawberry piece (just break them up a bit)

1/3 cup broken pretzel pieces


Directions:


Add all ingredients to a food processor except dried strawberries or pretzels.

Blend until combined. Add a little water if it's too thick.

Remove mixture to a bowl, mix in strawberries and pretzels by hand. Refrigerate until mixture firms slightly.

Roll into tablespoon sized balls.

Try not to eat them all at once!


Nutrition Facts: Serving size: 1 ball. Makes about 15 balls.

Calories: 95 Carbohydrates: 12 grams Fat: 4.6g Protein: 3g Sugar: 5.6 g


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  • Theresa Gentile

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

Want a guilt-free snack that won’t ruin your diet? You’ll love this all-natural, protein-energy ball recipe made with chickpeas, peanut butter, and oats.





Energy balls have become my new go-to snack. They are healthy, versatile and tasty. They’re also quick to make (which may be my #2 reason for making them…#1 being that the healthy part.).


I started making them as a healthy snack for my kids in school. Ideally, I’d love for my kids to be content with the fruit, carrot sticks and edamame I give them, but, let’s face it, sometimes they’re not. (In fact, about one month into pre-K, I heard, “But M’s mom gives her Goldfish and Oreos. I want those tomorrow.” Four years of healthy eating thrown out the window!)


Despite all that, my kids love the energy balls – especially the ones made with peanut butter. My husband also loves them, so I wind up making several batches at a time. Lately, these protein balls have been great for the following, especially since they are so easy to transport:


1. School lunch boxes

2. Long car trips

3. Post sports practice

4. The beach/park

5. Post gym workout

6. Anytime you need a healthy, protein-rich little pick me up


They’re perfect for kids who need healthy snacks during the day to keep up their higher energy demands and for adults who need a portion-controlled snack to fuel their metabolism and ward off sluggishness.


The first protein energy balls I made had a base of peanut butter, oats and honey. That’s it! Clean and natural. (And you can substitute any nut/seed butter (like almond/soy/sunflower butter) for the peanut butter.) I mixed it by hand, but I found it a little annoying as the sticky batter always sticks to my hands. So, I started adding it to my mini food processor instead. Much better! Although my kids like them better when I mix them by hand. 😒


Then, I read how the energy ball base could be chickpeas! Whaaat? Fiber, protein and vitamins in my energy ball snack?? A dietitian’s dream…


The chickpea energy balls have to whipped up in the food processor or blender, which is super quick. Rubbing the skins off the chickpeas took the most time, but it’s really not so bad. Doing this allows for a smoother consistency, but it’s not necessary. And, usually, I cut the sugar (in every recipe), but these definitely needed the sweetness, so I compensated with adding some chocolate chips.


There are so many varieties of energy balls, you’ll never run out of snack ideas! You can also make them with a base of chopped dates. If you like these quick, healthy energy balls, try these:


Date, Cashew, Orange No Bake Energy Balls or

Strawberry Pretzel Energy Balls





How to make these no-bake chickpea energy balls:


Drain and rinse chickpeas. Rub off skins (optional). Add to food processor along with all ingredients except for chocolate chips. Pulse until blended. (Add a little water if the mixture is too dry/) Avoid overmixing; mix just until batter is sticky and stays together when you press it together with your fingers. Scoop batter into tablespoon-sized balls.









No-Bake Energy Balls with Chickpeas


Ingredients:

1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup oats (can be 1 minute or 5 minute oats)

1/2 cup All-natural smooth peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips


Directions:

For a smoother consistency, rub skins off chickpeas.

Add all ingredients to a food processor except chocolate chips.

Blend until combined. Add a little water if it's too thick.

Remove mixture to a bowl, mix in chocolate chips. Refrigerate until firms slightly.

Roll into tablespoon-sized balls.

Try not to eat them all at once!


Nutrition Facts: Serving size: 1 ball. Makes about 15 balls.

Calories: 104 Carbohydrates: 12.7 grams Fiber: 3.4 g Fat: 5g Protein: 3.3g Sugar: 6.5 g

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