Yes, lots of veggies are involved – but so are some chocolate and ice cream.
If you’re trying to lose weight, or get a sense of your nutritional intake in order to train better, taking photos of your meals and snacks is a good way to accurately capture how much you’re eating. I’m a firm believer in consuming everything in moderation, but portion sizes are key. Often, people underestimate their portion sizes, but pictures don’t lie.
No one is perfect, and life happens. I was sick during the week I tracked my intake so I ate more meals at home than usual. I also didn’t have my freezer staple: ice cream. If this had been a different week, you’d see ice cream in just about every daily entry.
Workout: 11km trail run
6:30 a.m., Quaker Chewy Granola Bar
I normally don’t eat before runs shorter than 2okm (I’m not claiming this is good advice, but it works for me), but before my weekly trail run, I’ve been having a small snack. While the route is just 11km, it’s up a mountain, and by the time I get breakfast at our cafeteria, I’ve been awake for about 2.5 hours. That’s too long for me to go without eating something anyway, let alone during a challenging workout. I don’t normally buy Chewy granola bars, but I had a few from hosting some runner-friends, so I grabbed one before my run. It has 753 kilojoules and a hit of sugar to jumpstart my body.
9 a.m., Frittata and Tea
When I eat breakfast from our work cafeteria, it’s usually a cup of oatmeal with chia, cinnamon, a handful of granola and a scoop of peanut butter for protein. But today, the breakfast special was a caramelised onion and butternut squash frittata. I couldn’t say no. I also had a cup of sore-throat tea. I only have tea when I’m sick and I felt a cold coming on.
12:30 p.m., Veggie Quinoa Bowl and Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkin
What’s Halloween without sweets and chocolate? I was also hosting a Facebook Live session on the best sweets for runners, so temptation, in the form of a Reese’s peanut butter pumpkin, was at my fingertips.
I replicated one of my favourite meals from our cafeteria: a veggie quinoa bowl. It wasn’t exactly like the bowl of heaven I get at work, but it was close. I threw this together the night before: quinoa, roasted butternut squash, capsicum, onion, kale, cashews, goat’s cheese, bee pollen and a toss of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Pro Tip: quinoa is the only plant-based food that’s a complete protein (meaning it has all nine essential amino acids you need to build protein).
4 p.m., Chocolate-Peanut Butter Granola
I joked that recording everything I ate (and the tedious task of taking a photo) wasn’t stopping me from having a snack of chocolate-peanut butter granola with milk. If I’d been at work, I probably would have had another handful of cashews (the healthier option).
7 p.m., Gnocchi and Tea
My husband made a delicious dinner of gnocchi with homemade pesto, and even though my taste buds did not bring their A-game it was a hearty dinner, and the garlic helped clear my nose (my husband is a garlic fiend). I also downed a second cup of tea. Since we recently relocated to a different city, my husband and I eat a lot less take away and a lot less pasta. Gnocchi is a great source of carbs, but watch the portions: it’s easy to overeat thanks to its size.
My cold became full-blown, so I called in sick and stayed on the couch all day. I tend to skip eating almost altogether when I’m under the weather, but I had more of an appetite this time around.
9 a.m., Greek Yoghurt and Tea
My go-to breakfast is whole Greek yoghurt with homemade quince fruit compote, raspberries, and a handful of granola. Greek yoghurt can be tricky, but the good stuff is packed with live cultures (those healthy probiotics). Check the ingredient list: cultures should be listed first. I also go full-fat: it tastes better, it’s more filling, and you need fat in your diet to help boost your run and absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Flavoured yoghurts (yes, even Greek) are loaded with added sugar. I use the quince compote to sweeten my yogurt, and when I don’t have that, I’ll add a touch of honey.
2 p.m., Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tea
Normally I have a snack halfway through breakfast and lunch, but I spent the morning passed out on the couch. My husband, who works from home, made me the most delicious grilled cheese sandwich (maybe because I was so hungry) with cranberry bread and cheddar cheese. A side salad would have made this a healthier meal. Instead, I downed another cup of tea.
4 p.m., Cashews
A handful of cashews really is the best snack.
7 p.m., Frozen Pizza
My husband and I always keep a couple of frozen pizzas in the freezer for nights we’re too tired or lazy to cook. Before we moved, we would have ordered takeout, but at least this way, we’re saving money, and it’s a little healthier. I had two slices of my favourite variety from Wegmans – a local grocery store chain. It’s packed with veggies and has a really good white sauce. We usually pair this with a spinach salad, but not tonight.
I stayed home again, but this time worked from the couch.
9 a.m., Oatmeal and Tea
I used to make oatmeal (with whole milk, honey, peanut butter, banana) almost every day, and then I started eating more yoghurt. Oatmeal became my work breakfast on days I was running late or working out near the office. Oatmeal is a runner superfood: it’s packed with whole grain carbs and with the right toppings (fruit, nuts, honey) it’s low in sugar and filling. And yes, I had more tea.
1 p.m., Fried Eggs and Black Beans
Because my husband works at home he has time to make really good breakfasts. He made fried eggs over black beans with spinach and chipotle sauce for himself for breakfast. I was jealous so I made a mental note for lunch. Earlier this year the FDA lifted the dietary cholesterol limit, making a few eggs a day part of a healthy diet. Instead of putting eggs over toast, I opted for black beans – they have a low glycaemic index and are high in fibre. Spinach is an easy way to add some colour to your plate, as well as fibre and vitamin C.
4 p.m., Greek Yoghurt, Chocolate-Peanut Butter Granola and Tea
If I’d been at the office, my afternoon snack would have been cashews. But when there’s Love Crunch chocolate-peanut butter granola on hand, you choose that. Portion sizes are key if you’re having a snack like this. I chose my favourite snack-size bowl to limit how much granola I could eat (also, it’s adorable).
7 p.m., Stir Fry and a Fun-Size Milky Way
Since May, I’ve been splitting a small community-supported agriculture (CSA) share with two coworkers. We get our bag of veggies every Thursday, and my husband and I try to see if we can eat it all before the next pickup. The easiest way for us to do that is to throw as much as possible into a sauté pan and make some sort of stir-fry. Tonight’s mix was sautéed bok choy, broccoli, capsicum and mushrooms with soy sauce and sesame oil.
The first time we got bok choy, he made some heavenly creation with sesame oil. I couldn’t get enough and tried to take the bok choy every week. Stir-fries are one of the best ways to up your nutrient intake.
Oh, and without ice cream in the house, I satisfied my sweet tooth with a fun-size Milky Way.
Workout: Easy 5km
8 a.m., Greek Yoghurt and Tea
I made it into work but was still chugging tea with my go-to breakfast of yoghurt with quince fruit and a handful granola.
1 p.m., Chicken Glass Noodle Soup and Glass Noodles With Spicy Turkey Sausage
Part of my job as food and nutrition editor is taste-testing all of the recipes we run in the magazine. I know: I have the worst job. We normally schedule these around lunchtime. Today I had a half-cup each of chicken glass noodle soup with spinach, and glass noodles topped with spicy turkey sausage.
The test kitchen crew takes good care of me. They know ice cream is my favourite food, so we tapped into their secret stash and tried some eggnog gelato. I wasn’t a huge fan, but I missed ice cream.
4 p.m., Bark Thins and Coffee
Another cool part of my job is getting countless packages of product samples. And sometimes those products are chocolate. Woe is me. Bark Thins are delicious, but while they tout “healthy dark chocolate”, I confirmed that these snacks are less than 60 per cent dark chocolate, which isn’t enough to get those heart-healthy benefits associated with dark chocolate. I had three pieces.
I don’t normally do caffeine much past 2 or 3 p.m., but having been sick I missed my cup o’ joe. I opted for half a cup to go with my chocolate snack.
7 p.m., Chicken Glass Noodle Soup Leftovers
My husband was out so I just served myself leftovers from today’s test kitchen tasting: a cup of chicken glass noodle soup.
Workout: 5×60 seconds at 5K pace
9 a.m., Veggie Omelette
On Fridays, our cafeteria has make-your-own omelettes. I pack mine with all of the veggies the cafeteria has to offer (onion, capsicum, mushroom, broccoli, tomatoes) and order a side of potatoes. I used to add cheese, and while I love cheese and support consumption of full-fat dairy, I realised my eggs tasted good without it and it was a way to cut extra kilojoules (and save them for ice cream).
1 p.m., Glass Noodles and Spicy Turkey Sausage
Leftovers from the test kitchen make for good meals throughout the week: a cup of glass noodles topped with spicy turkey sausage.
3 p.m., Peanut Butter Ice Cream
I’ve written before about how I love ice cream and have it every day, but this week we didn’t have it at home. My friend and coworker saw my state of ice-cream withdrawal and we biked over to a local creamery for a Friday afternoon snack: a peanut butter ice cream cone. It was delicious.
5:30 p.m., Half a Pint of Beer
I’m not a big drinker (especially coming off of an illness), but sometimes a post-work drink is just what you need. I generally opt for a half pint when available.
7:30 p.m., Pasta and a Fun-Size Milky Way
My husband and I tested this dinner-in-a-package pasta (lentil-based pasta with cheddar broccoli sauce), which I got from a vendor. It was easy to make and tasted pretty good. Lentils are a nutrient-powerhouse and a great source of complex carbohydrates. There are more and more non-traditional pastas out there for runners to try.
And yes, I topped it off with some a fun-size Milky Way because of my incessant sweet tooth.
9:30 a.m., Pancakes
My husband uses the weekend as most normal people do: he makes a delicious breakfast and eats it while reading a magazine or catching up on a TV show (we’re watching Veep). After my long runs (which these days are only about 16 to 20 kilometres) I hop on the pancake train. Disclosure: I didn’t run long today. I did a short speed workout the day before in preparation for a 5K and realised I still wasn’t 100 per cent better. We have a great pancake recipe that’s very low in sugar. I try to top them with fruit for an added boost of fibre and antioxidants. Today we did not have said fruit.
1:30 p.m., Lentils, Rice and Elbow Macaroni
I met a friend for lunch and tried an Egyptian dish of lentils, rice, and elbow macaroni. It was disappointing, but thanks to its fibre content, it was filling. When I eat out I try to make healthy choices, but sometimes all you want is a good burger. And that’s okay. (It should be noted here that I generally have a burger with fries once a week at trivia, but because I was sick this week I missed it.)
5 p.m., A Slice of Pumpkin Cake
My friend is an amazing cook and baker. This slice of pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting was delicious.
8 p.m., Turkey Meatballs, Veggies and a Fun-Size Milky Way
I love, love, love turkey meatballs, especially homemade ones. They’re high in lean protein and with a drizzle of chipotle mayo, they’re one of my favourite meals. We paired them with sautéed veggies from our CSA. And topped it off with a fun-size Milky Way.
Workout: 5K Race + Bike commuting
7 a.m., Granola and a Banana