Intro to the Beach Body Gourmet

Varadero, Cuba beachMy sister and I in Varadero, Cuba

The Beach Body Gourmet was inspired by my first all-inclusive beach vacation. In May, I met up with my sister in Varadero, Cuba  and have a small confession about the pre-trip jitters. I’m embarrassed to admit this because my frame is boyish and my lifestyle is healthy; there are few reasons to fret over weight. At first, I couldn’t stop imagining the beautiful beaches but it wasn’t long before the body insecurities started kicking in and the beach body anxiety overtook the excitement of the trip.

To pull myself out of the temporary lapse in self-esteem and judgement, I started exercising more regularly, dedicating at least 3 to 4 days to exercise instead of the 1 – 2 days. I also started making lighter meals leading up to the trip. I went to Cuba with a lean body and a bit of a swagger, feeling strong and healthy.

Varadero beach hutHello from the pristine beaches of Cuba!

However, I learned that body shape has little effect on a vacation, it is the sensory memories that shape your trip – the sounds of the lapping ocean and the rustle of palm trees, the warmth of the sun on your back, the taste of minty mojitos on your lips. Outside your hotel room was sun-drenched beaches, crystal clear waters and silky sand; the day trip to Havana was vibrant and bustling; and the jeep excursion, with its off roading, snorkeling, and natural deep water cave, was an exciting day of many new experiences. I can’t wait to go back!

Driving in Havana, CubaBeep beep! Havana, Cuba cruising.

One downside of Cuba resort living was the constant buffets and lack of fresh veggies. I was booked for eight days, and by the fourth, I was already craving lighter meals and fresh salads. Upon my return to Calgary, I dove into the light recipe trove again. As a result, I created Beach Body Gourmet,  a collection of healthy and easy recipes.

Before I publish the series, I wanted to share some personal insight on the topic of healthy eating and some tips on how you can achieve and maintain a healthy weight. They won’t defend you from all bouts of body insecurity but they will help you achieve a healthier lifestyle, which in turn, will help those bouts pass quickly. These are the 5 key healthy eating principles that I live by.

5 Principles of Healthier Eating

1) My #1 tip: know your food groups and your portions.

As an average adult, you need about 6 – 8 servings of grain products a day. Did you know that ½ cup of cooked pasta, about the size of half your fist, is 1 serving of grains? The amount of pasta served at your favourite restaurant averages at about 6 servings, almost your full daily grains intake!

Fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, but did you know that they play a crucial role in portion control? If you aim to have veggies take up half the plate at lunch and dinner, that means you have less room for the more decadent but unhealthy items.

Canada’s Food Guide

Canada's Food Guide table

Check out Canada Food Guide – What is a portion?

 2) Don’t eat the same amount as your partner.

If you live with a partner or roommate/flatmate, take into account activity levels and body size. You don’t have to serve equal portions. As a general rule, I tend to give slightly bigger portions to the person who is larger and more active. If you need a refresher on your portion sizes, check out this awesome interactive portion sizing tool from WebMD!

Portion plate calculator

3) Cook your own meals and enjoy the leftovers for lunch.

Aim to cook at least four dinners per week. The more the better! While you’re at it, make extra servings at dinner so you can bring the leftovers for lunch. This technique works well for couples as it’s more time efficient to prepare four servings and divide them over two meals rather than cooking for two. A bonus is that you save money and have hot homemade (and enviable) lunches at work.

4) Fit in exercise whenever you can, even if it’s just 10 minutes.

Exercise whenever you can, aim for at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week but do not underestimate the benefits of short burst of physical activity like taking the stairs or walking throughout the day. Researchers keep finding the benefits of 10 minute walking breaks, as featured in the “23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?” video below, from My Favourite Medicine.

5) Enjoy your food.

Eating lighter does not mean sacrificing flavour. This series will focus on light and healthy meals that may help you in your quest for healthier eating and a leaner waistline. Another component of the recipes is the ease. Quick, easy, and healthy are the factors in the recipes in this series. You’ll find delicious recipes that leave you satisfied but not feeling heavy or bloated. The Beach Body Gourmet begins on Thursday!

Beach Body Gourmet Menu

1. Easy Lemon Dill Salmon + The Truth About Fats

2 a) How to Make Quinoa in the Rice Cooker
2 b) Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

3. Quinoa Bocconcini Salad

4. The Japanese Dressing

5. Super Easy Baked Chicken Salad

6. Apple Marinated Roast Chicken

7. Maple Salmon with Garlic and Ginger

8. Quick North African Spiced Chicken

9 a How to cut broccoli stems
9 b Quinoa veggie bake

10 Easy Green Thai Curry with Tofu

11 a Easy Homemade Salsa
11 b The Most Amazing Vegan Burritos

12 Dijon and Panko Coated Chicken

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