I signed onto my truestar.com account and hit the “Nutrition” tab. There it was, my suggested meal plan for the coming weeks. I clicked the first day. The meal and snack names were evocative, but I wanted to know what was in the “Miso Salmon with English Pea Sauce” before committing to eating a dinner plate of it. Clicked on “More” and a new screen showed me the ingredients, preparation instructions, calorie count and nutritional breakdown. Okay, Miso Salmon looked pretty tasty after all. Still, what else could I have? The “Substitute” button gave me 25 other options for dinner. Stuck with the salmon. Then curiosity led me to click the “Repeat” button. Another window appeared in which I could choose to repeat the Miso Salmon on any day or as many days as I pleased over the next two weeks. Wow, this seemed altogether cool.
As I proceeded to choose my meals, it did not escape me that no recipe contained dairy. I mean, is a day without butter any kind of day at all?
“Consider it a day with no adverse allergy reactions,” came the know-it-all reply from my super-ego.
Okay, okay, I would give it a try. After all, I had selected the dairy-free option to try to lessen my allergies.
I hit the print recipes button and two-weeks worth of food plan instructions slid out of my printer. Then I printed my shopping list. Yes, the Truestar software breaks out recipe items and compiles them into a shopping list organized by grocery store section.
Reviewing at the shopping list, I was disappointed that like items were not combined. For example, the four broccoli portions that appear in four recipes were all in the vegetables section of the list, but all were listed separately with disparate measurement schemes. So I had to find each listing, convert some to cups and then aggregate them myself to know how much I should purchase. I think a software upgrade would fix this inconvenience.
At the grocery store, I realized something else. Since I would be cooking only for myself, some of the ingredients seemed impractical. My list would have me buy four loaves of different breads for the eight slices of bread I would be eating. I am certain these bread choices would enrich the flavor – and possibly the nutritional content – of the meals I would be eating, but unless I was cooking for a family, the extra loaves would have gone to waste and I don’t really enjoy the taste of bread after it has been frozen. So I bought only one of the breads listed.
It did cross my mind that I could avoid dilemmas like this by either being more scrupulous in my menu selection or by inviting a party of friends to join me for every meal. But I doubt either of those options are going to happen.
Gearing up was pricey as my checkout receipt came to $220.00. But there were many expensive items that won’t need to be repurchased for months like oils and spices. Also, I thought with a hint of self-deprecation, had I been eating better all along, many of these foodstuffs would have already been in my pantry. So cheers to a high grocery bill! It is less expensive than constantly eating out and means that I am investing in my rise rather than my ruin.
Besides, seeing twice the amount of fruits and vegetables in my shopping cart made me feel immensely happy. And the best thing? When I finish my weeks’ meals, nothing should be left spoiling in the back of my refrigerator. It is a little ridiculous, but I am over-zealously looking forward to this zero-sum game of filling, then emptying my fridge without waste.
Though the list of recipe ingredients gave me the impression that preparation might be more time-consuming than I desired, I was pleasantly surprised by how easily these meals were prepared. However, the instructions did point up my need for a blender and to prep a little better so I am not reading that brown rice should have been prepared before removing the Orange Chicken Sizzler from the wok. But hey, the Rice Krispie Peanut Butter Balls were a revelation. I actually like them better than regular Rice Krispies treats.
As I forced the next bite of vegan cheddar cheese to my lips, all I could think was how strong and repugnant the aftertaste would be. I managed to get down one ounce of the stuff, but decided the remaining two ounces would go to the dogs. They were very appreciative. Surely, a couple slices of avocado would supplement the fats and protein to be furnished by the cheese. I am not faulting the recipe, but the “cheese” itself. But I haven’t given up. I am currently searching for non-dairy cheese products that I can tolerate taste-wise.
I felt remarkably balanced today in both mood and energy. Since I don’t drink coffee, I usually crash after lunch, or I have to eat too little lunch to avoid this plunge. But today, I just felt good from start to finish.
I will admit to one sweets craving, but I think that was triggered by seeing a brownie mix tucked away in the cupboard. I felt full, so it was pretty easy to ignore the craving…after moving the brownie mix out of sight. But it did bring up the thought that I would have to plan in some indulgences to stay sane…as well as reorganize my food storage. Besides, if I know that sweets aren’t completely off my table, perhaps I won’t desire them so much.
During my three hours of workout today I didn’t flag…not one bit. I am starting to believe that the right balance of food eaten at the right times will increase my athletic performance! This is a revelation I would not have gotten to without my electronic nutritionist.
Let’s be honest. Very few of us have the necessary training or time to compile daily menus that are balanced, sustaining and calorically on point. We can hire people to supply our meals, but this seems to me a temporary fix.
I now feel connected to my eating in a way that pre-packed microwave-ready meals could never match. While preparing my food, I feel as if I am learning how I should eat. That if – after some time – this menu resource was taken from me, I would have learned enough that I would be better able to myself well.
You knew it would happen…I had a brownie. The brownie was yummy and perfect and I did not regret eating it. However, I will admit that about 40 minutes after the brownie, I experienced an energy drain that I did not enjoy.
These meals have had very little refined sugar in them. Previously, I was on a constant stream of the stuff. Eat sugar….feel good…start to crash…eat more sugar. And I was living that way without questioning it. This is a real eye-opener.
Today I heard back from two friends whom I had told about the Truestar site. They had both entered their vital information and received daily calorie counts that were dubious. This is likely a weakness of the program that should be examined. I think that assessing optimal calorie burn ratios from a few questions is prone to inaccuracy. Perhaps it would be better to have participants track their actual calorie expenditures for a week, then enter those numbers into the program to guide their menu options.
Tonight I ate at a restaurant. On the menu plan, I could have selected eat out options, but I figured that I could handle one or two meals out on my own. I found this to be true as when I arrived at the restaurant, what sounded good to me was an item that most resembled real, unprocessed food.
I am gaining confidence that I will be able to continue eating well. I am thrilled at the amount of fruits and veggies that go into each meal and I am developing a taste for new foods. I had just one meal this week that I would repeat only if starving and many meals I really liked. At the end of seven days, I have realized that I can do this…without a degree or hours of planning. Food was my biggest adversary, but through this exercise it seems to be becoming a friend.
Rice Krispie Peanut Butter Balls
Approx. Calories: 300 42.9% Carbohydrates (31.42g) 26.6% Protein (19.57g) 30.5% Fat (9.96g)
1 tbsp Creamy peanut butter (Truestar suggests President’s Choice Just Peanuts old-fashioned peanut butter)
2 ¼ tsp Honey
24 gm Protein Powder
1 ½ tbsp Water
1/3 cup Crispy Brown Rice Puffs (They suggest Erewhon cereal)
Melt honey and peanut butter in a microwave safe dish for 45 seconds. Remove and add in protein powder and water and mix evenly. Fold in rice puffs. Shape into balls. NOTE: You can use crunchy peanut butter instead of smooth.