Optimum Meal Sequencing ~ Part 3, Dinner
June 13, 2012 By Billy
Well, here we are- we’ve gone over breakfast, lunch, and snacks…and we’ve make good nutritional choices throughout the day….how bout’ a healthy and satisfying DINNER!
The Big Question: “What satisfies and is truly healthy?”
Dinner tends to be an afterthought for everyone- it’s the end of the day, we’re tired, we’re hungry, and, oh look, there’s a drive through,… don’t mind if I do. Eek!..hang on. Before you pull into that fast food joint or restaurant, here are 2 important factors to consider first :
• Timing- be aware of the last time you ate and when you plan on going to sleep
• Quality and Content- what types of food does my body need at this time of day?
Timing – making good nutritional choices requires some forethought
This is when the late afternoon snack becomes crucial to prevent the feeding frenzy that tends to occur about 8 seconds after walking in the door. I have found it really helpful to keep some snack foods on me like we talked about in the ‘lunch’ newsletter – maybe a handful of nuts/seeds, fresh fruit, Infinity Bar, etc. – to stave off the hunger that strikes right around this time of day. We tend to think “Oh, I’ll just wait until dinner to eat anything…”, and then we walk into the restaurant and inhale the bread basket. Oops. So, eat the dang handful of nuts now! With a clear head, you’ll be able to make a smarter decision about what to order or what to make at home later on.
Next, what’s better than eating a gigantic meal of starchy food on the couch? Nothing- if your plan is to store fat on your backside. At night, we all come home and crave food that tends to be warmer and is easier on the digestive system- comfort foods, right? Of course! So we’ve got to pick the foods that satiate this desire and deliver the ideal end of the day nutrients. But hang on – once you lay down and the body goes into sleep mode, food that you are digesting is naturally stored as fat to be used as fuel later, since you need less fuel during the night. It’s essential that most of the time we eat a few hours before going to bed so that our food is digested and used properly (and not stored as fat).
Quality versus Quantity ~
Think of your body like a car– pumping whatever you want into the gas tank won’t get you very far. Sure, it might drive, but will it drive well?…and for how long?…and what are the resounding long-term effects? We don’t question what gas or oil to put in our cars, so why should it be any different with our bodies?
When we fuel our bodies with quality nutrition, the result is nothing less than…..we have more energy, we think clearly, we don’t have those cravings for foods that aren’t nutritionally beneficial…and, all in all, we just feel better.
We spent the day fueling our body with nutrition that would propel us through the day’s activities: work, working out, chasing kids, skipping through fields- whatever your day demands- dinner is a time to refuel with nutrition that is restorative.
In our last newsletters on ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Lunch’ we discussed how meals should be a combination of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and easy to digest proteins….naturally we alter this calorie trifecta based on when you are eating and what your activities require. Daytime activities require quick-release fuel- more complex carbs and healthy fats, less protein. At night, we replenish our bodies with slow-burning fuel, more protein, and the right nutrients. Focus on healing and restorative foods high in: protein, omega-3 essential fatty acids, iodine, calcium. Giving your body the right nutrients and calories will naturally satiate your appetite with fewer calories because you’re giving yourself the right elements that we are starving for! This definitely staves off the desire of late night junk foods! The 10:30 ice cream mission happens to the best of us, but for real, these desires go away. If those cravings persist, I’ve got some ideas below.
So, what types of food should be in my dinner? Here are some ideas (recipes below):
• More Protein – lentils, tempeh, edamame, seeds, rice n’ beans, plain yogurt, cottage cheese. If you have animal protein in your diet, this is the time of day to have it. Protein in general is harder for the body to digest (esp. animal protein). This is another subject, but for meats, go for the leaner options. Large portions of protein tend to make us tired – not so bad at the end of the day. It’s unlikely that you will overdo protein with plant foods….but animal protein, go for the smaller/leaner portions. In general, protein is not fuel. Carbs and fats are fuel. Protein is restorative and is most fitting at the end of the day.
• Lighter on the Complex carbohydrates – go for leafy greens, seaweeds, quinoa, brown rice, green veggies. Cut back on starchy foods – wheat products, potatoes, corn, pasta.
• Healthy fats – avocado (my favorite!), extra virgin olive oil, ground flax meal on soups/salads, nuts and seeds fish oils. Cut back on fried foods, foods baked with oils, and ground animal protein (i.e. ground beef ‘cuz it has lots of saturated fat – yeah, some saturated fat is good, but go for plant saturated fats)
….as for the correct ratio between protein, carbs, fats – it’s an individual thing. Also this margin is actually far more flexible for each of us than we realize!…and it likely will change with the seasons and even daily. I’m a believer in the body’s instinctive nutritional wisdom. When you are choosing from the realm of natural, unprocessed and truly healthy foods, it’s not really possible to make ‘mistakes’…(obviously I’m not talking about burgers and chips)…AND over time we hone in on our body’s instinctive wisdom to choose the right foods at the right time. You’ll see.
Now, the good stuff – recipes!
Soup is a great meal idea for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of it’s willingness to be whatever you want. Hot? Sure. Cold? Yup. Veggies? Toss in whatever you see in the fridge. Grains? You bet. Have a vegetarian and meat-eater in the family? Let them add their own protein sources. TA DA!! And- oh yeah- it can be made a few days in advance and is waiting patiently at home for you. Ahhh….soup.
Here are 2 favs, one for the summer (raw foods = cooling) and one for those wanting that warmer, comfort food meal (cooked foods = warming):
Blend in Blender:
- 4 Roma tomatoes 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed
- 1/2 onion, peeled
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup carrot juice
- 1 tablespoon dill
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dry chives
- 1/2 tablespoon sea salt
Add extra water for desired consistency, or a serving of Infinity Protein for a powerful protein boost. This is incredibly refreshing on a summer day!
Curried Kale Soup
Blend in blender:
3 tomatoes and 2 cloves garlic
Add to pot with:
- 1 cubed sweet potato
- 1 head broccoli, chopped
- 3 green kale leaves finely chopped (first remove stems)
- 1 round tablespoon Indian curry powder
- 1 round tablespoon cold-pressed coconut oil
- 1 slightly round teaspoon Celtic sea salt or salt to taste
Optional: Add a serving of Infinity C for a quick immune booster. For protein, add lentils or quinoa.
Water, desired amount . . . you can add more later if needed.
Cook at low boil for 10 minutes Add juice of 1 lemon. Scoop 1.5 cups of soup into blender and blend until smooth
*Important! Hold dish towel over top of lid on blender. The steam from
soup can potentially pop the lid off when you hit blend. Also helps to
start on low speed.
Add blended soup back to pot and stir. Add water if needed. Serves 2.
Even after a good dinner, sometimes you just gotta satisfy that sweet tooth. Live a little and say “yes!”. Just remember that, even with dessert, you should be able to include a little fat and a little protein, otherwise, you’ll find that that sweet tooth will still be whispering sweet nothings into your ear later on.
Try this :
• ½ cup greek yogurt – yeah, I know it’s dairy, but dairy isn’t all bad! Small amounts work for most of us. We’ll talk more about this soon.
• Dash of cinnamon
• 1 spoonful of raw honey
• a sprinkle walnuts or my sprouted almonds
Have you tried my Green Power Nuggets?!
Mix in a bowl:
1 cup hemp seeds
1 cup cold pressed coconut oil (you may need to warm slightly to soften)
1/2 cup raw unfiltered honey
1 round tablespoon Infinity Greens, or more if you prefer
Optional: 1/2 cup raw cacao nibs
Optional: Add 15 drops peppermint extract, “herb-pharm” brand
Refrigerate mix for 20 minutes to firm up.
Form into round nuggets with fingers, 1″ diameter. Roll nugget in loose hemp seeds, add a goji berry on top and refrigerate to fully set . . . Yum! An easy to prepare super health-creating treat!
One more super simple one ~ mash up an avocado and mix in chopped up dates. Trust me – it’s better than you would think.
Yo!..a healthy breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner achieved! Round out your day with lots of filtered water, a stress-free “chillax period” (hey, 15 minutes counts!), name 5 things you’re grateful for as you get in bed, followed by 8 hours of sleep, and you’ll be unstoppable!..for real.
By Laura Bordeaux and Billy Merritt