Healthy Habit – Eat Whole Grains

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to come up with monthly “resolutions” for myself and for anyone who follows this blog.  Cooking Light magazine (which is one of my favorite sources of recipes and ideas for healthy living) had the same idea, so I am shamelessly borrowing their healthy habits!

Cooking Light’s 12 Healthy Habits

It’s a lot easier to commit to 30 days of a new habit than a full year.  So this month’s goal is to eat three servings of whole grains every day.

Definition of grains (from Wikipedia): Cereals, grains, or cereal grains are grasses (members of the monocot families Poaceae or Gramineae)cultivated for the edible components of their fruit seeds (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis): the endosperm, germ, and bran.”

“Whole grain” means you get the whole thing – the endosperm, the germ and the bran.  Processed grains are only the endosperm (which is mostly carbodydrates).  When you remove the germ and the bran, you are removing most of the vitamins, minerals and fiber.

How the companies cheat. In the USA, the words “whole wheat” or “whole grain” really don’t mean anything… products labeled “whole wheat” or “whole grain” may have trivial amounts of whole grain in them. You have to see “100% whole grain” or “100% whole wheat” on the label to be sure it’s truly a whole grain product.

In addition to buying foods with 100% whole grains, you can add whole grains to your diet by buying and cooking the actual grain. There are lots of ways to cook grains that follow the “pizza rule” (don’t cook anything that takes longer than it takes to order a pizza).

Recipes from wholegrainscouncil.org

Whole grain recipes from 101cookbooks.com

Whole grain recipes from eatingwell.com

The “easy” grains

You’ve grown up with a variety of grains – which are all familiar to you.  They all come in a processed and “whole grain” version. So, if you are used to eating white rice or eating white bread, it’s time to give the whole grain versions a try!

OATS Although oats can be cooked whole in dinner recipes, in the United States, they are usually eaten as oatmeal.

There are 4 kinds of oatmeal you can make for breakfast.  Oat groats are the untouched whole grain.  Steel cut oats are oat groats – just cut up.  Both of them take a long time to cook.  For busy people cooking them overnight in a slow cooker or partially cooking them the night before is the way to go. The other two kinds of oatmeal (rolled and instant) are more processed (i.e. less vitamins, minerals and fiber) but are still whole grain.

Oatmeal is a great way to start the day – and it’s a fantastic middle of the night snack when you are on call.  Beware the instant flavored oatmeals –they have lots of added sugar!  It’s better to take a zip-lock of instant oats and a second Ziplock of dried fruit and nuts instead. And be really wary of fast food oatmeal!

BROWN RICE Rice is consumed in mass quantities all over the world.  Brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, so you’ll have to plan ahead a little.  Instant brown rice takes about 10 minutes, but the rice has been processed a little (slightly less nutritious but better than white rice).   A rrice cooker is a great appliance to have (good for holiday or birthday wish lists). You can also steam veggies, shrimp, fish, etc in the rice cooker while the rice is cooking –  or use it for an easy “one pot” dinner. Rice salad is a great food for call.  I usually make it with celery, carrots, left over veggies,  tuna and a vinaigrette – but there are a lot of  variations on the theme.

.

rice-chicken-ck-1622452-l

Sesame Brown Rice Salad with Shredded Chicken and Peanuts

Leftover rice also makes a great breakfast.  You can put fruit and milk on it (like oatmeal) or put an egg over it (great with some soy sauce). (In Japan the egg is raw, but it’s probably better for health reasons to cook it first)

WHEAT Whole Wheat is most commonly turned into flour to make breads, tortillas, and pastas.  Cracked whole wheat is called bulgur and can be used in place of rice or in salads.

08recipehealth_600-articleLarge

Bulgur With Swiss Chard, Chickpeas and Feta

Popcorn. You may not think of popcorn as a whole grain, but it is.  When air popped and In the absences of movie butter, it’s a healthy food item – mainly because of the amount of fiber it provides.  It’s better to use your stove top or an air popper– commercial microwave popcorn is usually filled with transfats (and calories).  Another alternative is homemade microwave popcorn.

Grains you may not have tried (but should)

QUINOA Quinoa is one of my favorite grains – enough that I did a post on it a few months ago.  If you are going to wander into the “unusual” grains, this would be where to start.  Quinoa takes about 30 minutes to cook on the stovetop. You can eat it plain or serve it instead of rice in any recipe.  If you have a rice cooker, you can use the white rice setting and it will cook perfectly.  Put a few veggies (and maybe some shrimp, fish or chicken) into the rice cooker (or steam them on the stove) and you have a dinner like this:

Sweet potato, kale and quinoa

BUCKWHEAT Buckwheat is eaten as a grain in Eastern Europe fairly commonly.  In the USA, we are probably more familiar with buckwheat as a flour used in pancakes or in soba noodles.

Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes and Cabbage

BARLEY Barley is the grain used in most beers… which does not count as a whole grain food item!  It’s a chewy, nutty grain that is delicious in soups, casseroles and salads. The classic combination (which is very delicious) is barley and beef – usually in a stew.  If you have the time, it’s well worth it.  For a faster combination you might try this recipe (add some chicken or pre-cooked beef if you want)

FNM_120109-W-N-Dinners-010_s4x3_med

Carrot-Mushroom-Barley Stew

SPELT Spelt is often sold in the stores as farro (from Italy).  Farro is delicious. by itself, in salads or soups.  It’s also great in risottos– it takes longer than rice to cook in a risotto, but you don’t have to stir.

ei0902_salad1_med

Mediterranean Farro Salad

MILLET Millet is a small grain that, like the other grains can be used in salads, casseroles or as a cereal. It’s a little more bland (less nutty) than the other grains, so it’s probably better to use it in more flavorful recipes.

EE1102_Stuffed-Tomatoes_med

Stuffed Tomatoes

WILD RICE Wild rice is in a completely different species than brown rice. Like many of the whole grains it takes 40-60 minutes to cook on the stove.  It’s often used in stuffings for chicken or other poultry and is also great in pilafs and casseroles.

EE1104_Gumbo-Zherbes-with-Wild-Rice_med

Gumbo Z’herbes with Wild Rice

TEFF Anyone who has ever eaten Ethiopian food has had teff. Teff flour is what is used in injera, the large flat bread used to eat Ethiopian meals.  Teff is the smallest grain in nature, and has high levels of protein, calcium, iron and fiber. I recently tried it for breakfast (with dried fruits and honey).  It reminded me of a nutty cream of wheat.  It’s really dense (and becomes gelatinous in the refrigerator) – but it was a nice change for breakfast.

AMARANTH Amaranth can be boiled or popped like popcorn.  Because they are smaller than other seeds, amaranth only takes about 20 minutes to cook.   Smaller seeds tend to have more concentrated nutrients; amaranth is high in calcium and protein.

Like teff, this is probably best tried as a breakfast item if you want to experiment.

picoaZFvs

Amaranth for Breakfast

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

I had already decided that I would propose a “resolution” every month this year for myself and anyone who follows this blog when I came across Cooking Light’s 12 healthy habits.  Cooking Light is one of my favorite magazines, so I’m going to take their idea and run with it!

It just makes sense to spend 30 days working on a single habit to change, rather than creating a long list of resolutions without an endpoint. If this idea works for you, take these habits (one at a time) and work on them for a month.

Here is January’s healthy habit:

Add at least 3 servings of vegetables and fruit to your daily diet

Here’s some suggestions for how to accomplish this goal.  These are some of my ideas and other ideas compiled from suggestions on thedietchannel.com, nutrition.about.com, cancer.org, and health.harvard.edu

  • Take fresh fruit or veggies with you to work to eat as a morning and afternoon snack.  The best fruit for your pocket are apples, clementines carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes (in a Ziplock bag), and grapes (in a Ziplock bag).
  • Cut-up celery, carrots, bell pepper, cucumber, etc and keep them front and center in your refrigerator for snacking.   If you don’t like them plain, dip them in hummus or ranch dressing.  They’ll be fresher if you do this yourself, but if you need to, buy them already cut up in the grocery store.
  • Add fruit like berries, a banana or a cut up peach to your cereal in the morning.
  • When you shop, buy the ingredients to make a mirepoix, chop them up and store them in the refrigerator.  A classic mirepoix is carrots, celery and onion.  The Cajun “trinity” is a variation – celery, onion and bell pepper.  Pick anything that can be cooked (mushrooms, bell peppers,  are a good addition), and chop them up when you get home.  Grab a handful for stir-fries, salads, omelettes or soup.
  • Steaming vegetables is really easy and very fast.  If you don’t have fresh vegetables (or don’t want to take the time to steam them), make sure you keep steam and serve frozen vegetables in your freezer as an easy way to add vegetables to your meals at home.
  • Keep frozen fruit in your freezer to throw in a blender with yogurt or milk to make smoothies.
  • Dried fruit is a good occasional substitute for fresh fruit, but beware – it’s very caloric!
  • If you are making a sandwich to take to work, pile on veggies – spinach, shredded carrots, cucumbers etc.  Use avocado instead of mayonnaise.
  • Fruit or vegetable juice is not a great substitute, but will do in a pinch.  Most fruit juices are high in calories.  It’s always better to eat the fruit if you can so you get the fiber and other nutrients, but if there are no other options, juice is better than nothing!
  • Applesauce and canned fruit (in water) can be bought in single serving portions, or you can share larger portions!
  • If you are buying food for lunch in a cafeteria or fast food restaurant, look for vegetable soup or a salad bar than lets you pile on the veggies.
  • Sweet potatoes can be microwaved in 10-12 minutes and make a great meal when paired with a salad or some frozen veggies.
  • Choose desserts that are fruit based – and have as much fruit as possible.  Chocolate dipped strawberries or a berry cobbler are better than cheesecake!

Clean Eating

If you want to lose weight, or just to eat “better” you might want to consider looking into the concept of “clean eating”.

Although eating clean works to lose weight, it’s not really a “diet” in the usual sense of the word. Clean eating is a lifestyle and way of eating that is medically very sound.  It’s getting rid of the junk food, eating often enough to maintain your energy and  “shopping the periphery” of the grocery store.  (Think about it – the food being sold on the periphery of the grocery store is mostly non-processed.)

Everyone has had the (horrible) experience during a call day of not eating anything all day, having a big meal in the evening  (often McDonald’s or an equivalent) and then being brain-dead from lethargy for 2-3 hours. In addition to helping you control your weight (and preventing weight gain during medical school and residency),  “eating clean” will prevent the on-call lethargy you get from eating junk food and can give you sustained energy during long work days.

In a nutshell, here are the “rules” for eating clean (Revised from lists published on ehow.com and cleaneatingonline.com)

How to Eat Clean

1. Eat 5-6 small meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2-3 snacks – and don’t skip meals! This means taking a cooler with you to work and/or having choices like meal replacement bars in your pocket. It’s important to eat every 3-4 hours to keep your insulin levels (and energy levels) from waxing and waning too much. It’s really important to never skip breakfast!

2. Eat a serving of complex carbohydrates at every meal (about the size of your fist). Grains should be unprocessed as much as possible (more fiber = more satiety) like brown rice or quinoa .

3. Minimize or (preferably) completely eliminate processed food, soft drinks and alcohol.

4. Eat fruits and/or vegetables at every meal.

5. Eat a serving (about the size of your palm) of lean meat, chicken or fish at (almost) every meal. Vegetarian options are fine, too (beans, tofu, etc).

6. Read labels. Try to avoid foods with white flour, sugar and sugar substitutes, saturated fats and trans-fats.

7. Take good snacks (like premeasured servings of nuts) with you to work so you don’t get tempted by vending machines and breakroom junk food.

8. Don’t beat yourself up if you cheat – in fact, you’ll probably need to have a cheat day (on purpose) every once in a while. But recognize it’s a cheat day and not a permanent change from your new way of eating.

9. Keep things interesting by checking out recipes and cooking for yourself. You can subscribe to Clean Eating Magazine or at least pick up an issue to check it out.  The Diet Rebels Cookbook: Eating Clean and Green, Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You and Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Cookbook: Delicious Recipes That Will Burn Fat and Re-Shape Your Body! are cookbooks with good recipes for clean eating. Here’s some websites with recipes, too: cleaneatingonline, eatcleandiet, cleaneatingmag

Why You Should Eat Breakfast

Most of us start very early in the morning and have a variety of excuses why we don’t/won’t eat breakfast, most often “I’m never hungry this early” or  “I’m in too big a rush”.  You don’t have to go to medical school to realize that your blood glucose levels will be low after 8-10 hours of no food.  It’s why things like donuts and sweet cereals are so popular for breakfast  But a quick infusion of sugar to spike your serum glucose leads to a spike of insulin which leads to hypoglycemia.  Not a good idea if you want to stay awake in class or be sharp when seeing patients.

It’s much better to eat a breakfast with carbohydrates, protein and little fat if you want to sustain your glucose levels.  There are a lot of other advantages to eating a good breakfast.

No one with a busy schedule is going to spend time preparing a “fancy” breakfast in the morning.  But there are many, many good options that don’t take any time at all.  I’ve listed some great websites and recipes below – but don’t limit yourself to these.  Look into typical breakfast choices in other countries, eat the leftovers from last night’s dinner…. Just don’t skip breakfast!

15 ways to eat a beautiful breakfast

18 Quick Breakfast Recipes for Busy Mornings

12 Smart Ideas for Breakfast On the Go

Increasing Energy Levels at Work

Eating regularly can really help with energy levels during the day. Based on this interesting study from Canada, it’s also better for your patients.  Not only does this study show that the docs felt better when they ate regularly, they also did better on objective tests of cognition.

If you want to feel good at work start the day with a good breakfast.  Once you get to work, eat balanced snacks or small meals every 3-4 hours.  Energy bars are a great solution if you are really on the run – just put one or two in your white coat pocket.  My favorites are kind bars, mojo bars and clif bars but there are a lot of good choices.  What is important is to choose healthy energy bars not bars that are candy in disguise.

Physician nutrition and cognition during work hours: effect of a nutrition based intervention.   BMC Health Serv Res. 2010 Aug 17;10:241.  Lemaire JB, Wallace JE, Dinsmore K, Lewin AM, Ghali WA, Roberts D.

Department of Medicine University of Calgary Health Sciences Center 3330 University Drive NW Calgary, Alberta T2N4N1, Canada. lemaire@ucalgary.ca

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Physicians are often unable to eat and drink properly during their work day. Nutrition has been linked to cognition. We aimed to examine the effect of a nutrition based intervention, that of scheduled nutrition breaks during the work day, upon physician cognition, glucose, and hypoglycemic symptoms.

METHODS: A volunteer sample of twenty staff physicians from a large urban teaching hospital were recruited from the doctors’ lounge. During both the baseline and the intervention day, we measured subjects’ cognitive function, capillary blood glucose, “hypoglycemic” nutrition-related symptoms, fluid and nutrient intake, level of physical activity, weight, and urinary output.

RESULTS: Cognition scores as measured by a composite score of speed and accuracy (Tput statistic) were superior on the intervention day on simple (220 vs. 209, p = 0.01) and complex (92 vs. 85, p < 0.001) reaction time tests. Group mean glucose was 0.3 mmol/L lower (p = 0.03) and less variable (coefficient of variation 12.2% vs. 18.0%) on the intervention day. Although not statistically significant, there was also a trend toward the reporting of fewer hypoglycemic type symptoms. There was higher nutrient intake on intervention versus baseline days as measured by mean caloric intake (1345 vs. 935 kilocalories, p = 0.008), and improved hydration as measured by mean change in body mass (+352 vs. -364 grams, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides evidence in support of adequate workplace nutrition as a contributor to improved physician cognition, adding to the body of research suggesting that physician wellness may ultimately benefit not only the physicians themselves but also their patients and the health care systems in which they work.

Recipes for Medical Students and Residents

I love when I find new websites that provide great “pizza rule” recipes (recipes that take less time to prepare than it takes to order a pizza).  I just discovered Keep Your Diet Real, a site run by Corrine E. Fischer, MS, RD, LDN.  She’s not only a dietician, but she’s a professional food photographer, so the site is beautiful.  Her recipes are healthy, straight-forward and are great for the busy life of docs, medical students and residents.

Ten Healthy Breakfasts in Ten Minutes or LessSpring Roll SoupWheatberry and Edamame Salad

 

Breakfast Idea – Eggs Mugs

I recently found an easy breakfast idea for busy docs.  “Hungry Girl” is a website with interesting (and usually humorous) advice for people trying to lose weight – including recipes.  If you are trying to lose weight (or avoid weight gain), follow the recipe as written.  If you aren’t trying to lose weight, use whole eggs, real sausage, butter, etc.

One word of advice – if you are using whole eggs, make sure you scramble them before putting them in the microwave (unless you want an egg explosion and a huge mess to clean up!).  Even for egg whites alone, stop the microwave to stir every once in a while!

Photo credit

 

Don’t Skip Breakfast!

If you are not up to eating a big breakfast when you wake up, that’s ok.  Particularly in residency you may be getting up too early to be hungry.  As you are brushing your teeth make yourself drink a big glass of water.  Even if you are not hungry at all eat a little something  like a piece of fruit or a cereal bar.  (Set them out on the counter the night before to grab and eat in the car if you have to.)  There will be days that you may not get anything else to eat until the middle of the day, so don’t forego all nutrition in the morning.  Take a  “real” breakfast to work with you and eat it when you can between 8 and 10.   

 

Easy breakfasts for doc’s on the go

 An energy bar (e.g. PowerBar)

Frozen breakfast taco (see recipe below!)

Last night’s dinner (such as rice and meat, rice and an egg, noodles)

A smoothie (you can put the ingredients in the blender the night before, then just put it on the blender in the morning)

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich

Frozen pierogies heated up in a microwave

Instant oatmeal (add nuts and dried fruit if you want)

Cereal and milk (add fruit to make sure you get fruits into your diet)

 

MLBs Breakfast Tacos

Buy 10-12 whole wheat tortillas, 1 can of refried beans, 1 bag of reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese.   Spread all the tortillas out on the counter and divide everything up between them. 

Add whatever else you want: 

8oz of cooked chicken or turkey (grilled in the deli is best)

Sausage (veggie soy sausage is good and tastes fine in the tacos)

Corn

Rice

Roasted red peppers (in a jar)

Chiles

 Put the tacos in the freezer in individual freezer bags (Ziplock,etc) .  (Put the individual bags in a big freezer bag if you want to further limit freezer burn). 

 2 minutes out of the freezer and into the microwave = breakfast.

Cooking for Yourself in Medical School and Residency

Most medical students and residents eat poorly.  It’s not really a surprise – the days are packed with work from sun-up to sun-down.  There are no planned meals because there can’t be.  Food is a quick bite when it is available.  It’s feast or famine.  On the far end of the scale, the stereotypical diet of a resident is no breakfast (but usually coffee), a doughnut and coffee grabbed on the run once you get to work, some mid-day meal of fast food, and pizza on call.  Food, particularly fast food, becomes solace.  In the stressful world of residency, this kind of “comfort food” becomes a “reward” for the hard work and tribulations. It’s not rocket science.  This kind of diet doesn’t give you the energy you need to function at your peak.  It is also a diet that is very likely to lead to weight gain.  In your 20s, your body can cope with this suboptimal fuel, but it’s not ideal.  However, what “works” in your 20s won’t work as you get older and could even be responsible for a heart attack, diabetes, or other medical problems in your 40s and 50s.  On a more philosophical level, you would never advise this kind of diet to one of your patients.  None of us want to be hypocrites.

The answer is to cook for yourself.  Not everyone likes to cook, and not every one knows how.   I’m going to make a case that you should learn.  Trust me – if you can learn to take out an appendix, or diagnose a pneumonia, you can learn to cook.   I’m going to assume that you are single for the sake of this description.  But, if you have a significant other, it’s even more important to cook at home.  He or she can participate in helping with the meal preparation, and, by doing this together and for each other, there is added benefit for your relationship.  Having dinner at home with a significant other will become an “anchor” to your day that will become very important to you.  As hard as it is to work around a busy schedule, if you can eat together, and have a real conversation, you will both benefit greatly.

Cooking is a wonderful therapy for the stress of medical school and residency.  If you’ve never learned how to cook, this is a hard time to learn complicated techniques, but it’s not hard to learn simple techniques.  There are several advantages of cooking for yourself that outweigh (on most days) the hassle of spending the time.  The act of cooking for yourself can be a time of “decompressing” from work.  Arranging vegetables, cutting them, smelling the odor of the food appeals to all your senses and is a moment in the day that you can intentionally slow down.  It’s very important that the recipes you choose are simple and quickly prepared.  No one wants to come home to a 2 hour task in the kitchen after a hard day.  Cooking for yourself has other benefits as well.  First, it is tangible evidence that you are taking care of yourself.  This is not a trivial point.  There are days during your training when it seems no one is taking care of you.  Having concrete evidence that you are caring for yourself is an antidote to that feeling.  Secondly, you will eat better.  By cooking from fresh ingredients, you will decrease the amount of pre-packaged and fast food.  Even without medical school, you know that this will result in better nutrition.  Thirdly, you will eat cheaper.  Other than the “free” pizza (ethically debatable, but financially clear), processed food is usually more expensive.  And lastly, you can share.  It isn’t any more work to make 4 or 6 portions of a dish than it is to make 2, and it usually isn’t that much more expensive, either.  If you can convince one of your colleagues that this is a good idea, you can cook for each other on alternate days.   Likewise, you can cook larger amounts and, using freezer ready containers, freeze portions for yourself for the future.  Doesn’t homemade pasta with a side of fresh vegetables really sound better than the greasy middle of the night food that is available in most hospitals?   It’s true that you can’t cook just anything with the kind of schedule you will have in medical school and your residency.  But, there are few key rules that will make it possible for you to do this, enjoy it, and eat well.

Rule 1:  Don’t cook anything that takes more than 30 minutes to prepare.

Let’s be realistic – you are not going to walk into your home at 8 o’clock at night, hungry, and spend an hour preparing something.  But – there are very nutritious dinners that take less than 10 minutes, so getting home late is no excuse.

Rule 2:  Plan ahead.

The first step in preparing dinner for most busy people is to open the refrigerator door and ask “What can I eat tonight?:  If you are anything like I was in residency, the refrigerator had some cheese, some vegetables (often way past their prime), and maybe some leftovers.  Not very appetizing.  There is an easy way to prevent this from happening.  On whatever day you have off and have time to shop, spend 30 minutes making a menu.  Start by making a table for the week with what is happening.

Breakfast Lunch Snack Dinner Comments
Sun
Mon On call – take Tues meals, too
Tues
Wed Out Out with friends after rounds
Thur
Fri On call
Sat

Once you have an outline of your week, fill in the blanks with the meals.  Now, most of us can handle “hamburgers” or “Raisin Bran” as a menu item… but it’s more fun, and healthier to branch out a bit.  So, if you are not used to looking for new things to cook, how do you find recipes?  Cookbooks can be fun, particularly if you are looking for a particular ethnic food or a style (e.g. low-fat) of cooking.  If you like cookbooks, and bookstores, find the used book store nearest you and go to town!  There are also web sites for recipes.  Many of them also have “cooking lessons” on line.  Most cooking shows have a web based recipe site as well.   So, say you start by searching the web and find this recipe. (for this particular recipe, I’m assuming you have no concerns about calories)  It looks easy, and like it would taste good.   So you print it out.

NEW ORLEANS PASTA

ESSENCE OF EMERIL (FOODTV)   SHOW #EE123 – http://www.recipesource.com/main-dishes/pasta/11/rec1100.html

1 tablespoon olive oil

16 ounces chicken breast half, cut into strips (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup chopped chorizo sausage

2 tablespoons chopped green onions, plus extra for garnish

1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic

Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente and tossed in oil to coat

Creole spice, salt and pepper

In a large saute pan heat oil, add chicken and sausage and cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add green onions, garlic, 2 dashes each Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce or to taste, and cook for 1 minute. Add cream, cheese, shrimp and pasta. Cook, tossing, to heat through. Adjust seasoning to taste with Creole spice, salt and pepper. Serve garnished with green onions.

Yield: 2 servings

Now what?  First, cut and paste the ingredient list to a shopping list.  If you are compulsive, you can organize it into meat, dairy, produce, etc (it makes shopping easier, but it’s not essential).  You’ll need to add a vegetable or salad to balance this out nutritionally. (I picked broccoli as an example) If you can afford the calories, add a desert. (Ice cream in this case)  Then decide what night in your schedule this will work best.  This recipe will take about 12 minutes total so it would be great for a night you are getting home late.  You can either share the other portion with your significant other or you can take it with you the next day as lunch.  You can double the recipe and have it more than one night.   For example:

Breakfast Lunch Snack Dinner Comments
Sun
Mon On call – take Tues meals, too
Tues
Wed Out Out with friends after roundsThaw shrimp for tomorrow
Thur NEW ORLEANS PASTA (CHICKEN, CHORIZO)Steamed broccoliIce Cream Freeze one portion for later
Fri NEW ORLEANS PASTA (CHICKEN, CHORIZO)Steamed broccoli On call
Sat NEW NEW ORLEANS PASTA (CHICKEN, CHORIZO)Steamed broccoli

Shopping list:

2 lbs chicken breast (16 oz x 2)

1/2 cup chopped chorizo sausage

1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

heavy cream   (need 1 1/5  cup)

Parmesan cheese  (need 1/2 cup grated)

Olive oil

Creole spice

green onions

garlic

broccoli (4 portions to steam)

One pound penne pasta

Ice cream

Rule 3:  Cook (or prep) today today to eat tomorrow

As soon as you get home from the grocery store:

  • Freeze any meat that is for later in the week (and make a note to yourself to put in into the refrigerator to thaw a day or two before you are going to use it.)
  • Wash the vegetables, dry them and put them away
  • Wash lettuce for salads and dry completely (a spin dryer is the best).  Store in a zip lock plastic bag with a paper towel in the bag (which absorbs any residual water).  Make sure you squeeze out all the air you can before closing the bag.

Take advantage of days off to cook things that may take a little more time or effort.  While  you are watch the football game on Sunday, you can cook chili in a crock pot for Wednesday.  If you know that your vegetable stir fry on Tuesday is going to be after a long day, go ahead and chop all the vegetables and meat a day or two before when you have the time and have them stored in the refrigerator.   When Tuesday rolls around (and you are exhausted from work), you’ll have all the ingredients chopped and ready to throw in the pan.