Category: Articles

A Dietitian’s Harris Teeter Grocery Haul (2024)

Adjusting to grocery shopping in North Carolina has taken some time.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that when I lived in New Jersey, I was a ShopRite girl, and could get essentially everything I needed there at a great price.  Now that I’m in North Carolina, not only are the stores different, and pricier, but I’m feeding an entire family (four of us), so I find that I make the rounds from Harris Teeter (HT), Costco, Walmart Marketplace event Trader Joe’s and Aldi depending on where my errands take me.  

But we do shop Harris Teeter most frequently, especially for those last minute dinner pick ups!

When it comes to shopping for healthy food, having a reliable grocery store that stocks a wide variety of nutritious options is such a relief (plus is seems like there is one located every 3 miles!). They have a ton of whole, minimally processed foods and I find they have most of the trending/healthy items that align with contemporary dietary trends, from maintaining blood sugar levels and following a gluten free lifestyle to supporting an anti-inflammatory diet and tracking macros of course! 

In this post I will share my go-to items for each category.  Remember, I don’t do large “stock up” shops at HT.  Generally it’s last minute pick ups, items for a special meal, or I get smaller sizes of new products that I want to try- before I buy in bulk.  

Harris Teeter Produce Department

Produce Selection

The produce section at HT is always in good shape. I shop their produce most frequently because we eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and I like to get them fresh- or as we need them.  Like most grocery stores, the seasonal and sale items are always in front and they also offer organic produce as well as club size options of the most popular items.  

  • Berries
  • Bananas
  • Mango
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Baby Carrots
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spinach or Spring Mix
  • Mushrooms
  • Red onion
  • Iceberg lettuce – to replace wraps or for burgers
  • Premade cauliflower rice – especially if on sale
  • Steamable green beans
  • Precut zoodles instead of pasta for low carb days
  • Pre-cut apple slices
  • Pre-cut butternut, or sweet potato
  • Pre-cut mirepoix
  • Locally grown squash, string beans, greens and more during the summer season
  • Seasonal items like sumo citrus or peaches

I also find that when I shop on Tuesday mornings, a ton of the convenience produce items are on sale. So if I need something for dinner, I’ll usually grab something precut or washed as long as I’m going to use it that day.  

Bread, Grains and Substitutions

HT’s offers a variety of whole-grain products are a staple if you’re trying to incorporate high-fiber options. From ancient grains like quinoa to hearty brown rice, to microwaveable rice options and whole grain pasta, they have it all. They also have pasta substitutes that you’ll find right in the pasta aisle.  For example, they have Palmini “pasta” which is a low carb “pasta” made from hearts of palm.  It’s an option to consider if you are following a low carb diet or want to incorporate more plant based meals into your diet.  

  • Quinoa
  • Raos or Barilla Pasta
  • The Harvest Loaf from the bakery is my favorite.  It’s loaded with seeds and toasts up well. 
  • Mission Low Carb Wraps, they’re 40 calories and loaded with fiber.

Lean Proteins 

I find that we  At HT, the meat counter is stocked with choices like skinless chicken breasts, turkey, and lean cuts of beef. If you prefer seafood, HT’s offerings won’t disappoint—including everything from salmon to shrimp offered on a daily basis.

  • Thin sliced chicken breast – for cutlets
  • Thick cut pork chops 
  • 90% lean ground beef
  • 99% lean ground turkey

Gluten-Free & Allergy Friendly products

Living with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease can be a challenge, but HT makes it easier by carrying a bunch of gluten-free.  Most stores have a dedicated aisle too! From pasta to bread, you can find gluten-free alternatives that allow you to enjoy your favorite dishes, worry-free.

For example, these two Catalina Crunch products I first saw at HT and had to try them.  I also tried the chocolate squares breakfast version and didn’t care for it.  But now that I know I like them I usually get the French Toast variety at Costco.  It’s my version of try before you buy.  

  • Catalina Crunch savory snack mix
  • Catalina Crunch French toast squares

Convenient Frozen Foods

Harris Teeter’s frozen foods section is a gold mine of wholesome choices. Here are a few of my favorites.  

  • Steamable edamame
  • Pre-chopped onion
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach or collards
  • Green peas

Dairy Selection

Whether you’re a milk lover, Greek yogurt, or need dairy free alternatives, HT has options. They also have a variety of gourmet and shredded cheeses for that last minute baked ziti or lasagna.  

  • Chobani zero sugar yogurt – is a high protein alternative that is usually on my list.  
  • Fage Total fat free greek yogurt
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Organic 1% milk – if I’m out from my Costco haul
  • Barista blend Oat Milk creamer

Pantry Staples and Canned Items

Unless there’s a sale, I usually save stocking up on pantry items like beans, legumes, and tomatoes at Costco.

That said, I am usually picking up ingredients like beans for chili, canned corn for cowboy caviar, or canned tomatoes for sauce.  Basically anything that comes up in a recipe that I need in a small amount.

  • Goya chickpeas
  • Simple Mills crackers
  • 100 calories chocolate almond packs
  • canned tomatoes
  • canned corn
  • tomato paste

Kids Lunch Items

  • Boars Head (BH) Lower sodium ham
  • BH yellow American cheese
  • Kings Hawaiian Buns
  • Sun Butter
  • Chocolate covered raisins
  • Fruit snacks
  • Pre-sliced apples
  • Grapes
  • Unsweetened applesauce cups

The HT App

Personally, I like to use the grocery list function in the HT App.  It’s easy to review the weekly ad to create a shopping list or to go back to previous orders to add items you have on repeat to your current list.  Most of the time, timeslots for pick up are available the next day making it very convenient to get what you need in as little time as possible.  

As you can see, I shop for generally whole foods and to grab last minute ingredients for weekly menus.  While it’s a little bit more expensive than Walmart Market, TJ’s or Costco, it’s very convenient and always has what we need.  Which is why we shop there several times a week!  

What am I forgetting, let me know in the comments!

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

Date night review: Fox & Falcon Southpark Charlotte

If you know me, you know I have a passion for food.  And my husband and I both really enjoy a good meal. Having lived and worked around Manhattan, we always had a lot of fun trying new places (before kids, and before we moved to Charlotte).  While less often, we still try to get out and try new places in the Charlotte culinary scene.  So… I thought I’d start sharing about some of the places we’ve tried lately.

Last weekend we snuck down to trendy South Park area of Charlotte, North Carolina, to check out the Fox & Falcon by David Burke. It’s over at 4905 Ashley Park Lane near the South Park Mall and it’s website describes it as modern steakhouse fare. I’m familiar with Burke’s restaurants from living in New Jersey, and was excited because he has a reputation for offering a culinary experience.

So, I met Andy over in the Southpark area of Charlotte around 8:30 after a girls happy hour.  If you’ve never been there before, it’s in a bit of a residential area with apartment buildings around it.  The garage nearby says it’s only for residents and there is on street parking.  I did not see valet available, so maybe just plan for that if it’s a busy night!  

The Ambiance

Walking in, the restaurant’s ambiance spoke volumes—with bold wallcoverings, neutral colors complimenting woody trusses and brick columns, and soft illumination from salt rocks, created a really cool sophisticated vibe. There was lots to look at from both the bar and table including a somewhat open kitchen so you could see the line area. When you walk in, it really looks like a fun place for a birthday dinner or romantic date night.  

The Drinks

I had a super cold vodka martini with blue cheese olives.  It was cold (it didn’t have ice pieces in it) but cold enough and the olives were on point!  

Andy usually has a regular vodka martini or a negroni, before enjoying wine with dinner.  That said – it was really interesting to see a NO ABV and LOW ABV section of the drinks menu. They were intriguing with their use of herbs, 0 proof alcohol and wine syrup.  

The Menu

At first glance, there was a lot to choose from on the menu.  Appetizers included signature Clothesline Bacon, Lobster Dumplings, Tuna & Salmon Tartare, Gruyere Popovers and Pretzel Crab Cake to name a few.  There were also a variety of mains offered covering everything from pasta to fish and obviously steak. 

What we ordered

Starter

  • (6) oysters

Salad

  • Classic Caesar Salad, split

Appetizer

  • Tuna & Salmon Tartare
  • Pretzel Crab Cake

Mains

  • 16 oz Prime Rib **
  • Halibut T-Bone

Sides

  • Truffle Fries

Dessert

  • Apple Pie**
  • Walnut Parfait

**What they ran out of

This was a recurring and unfortunate theme.  Upon sitting at 8:30 on a Saturday night, the server went over the prime cuts of beef and let us know that the lamb** from the menu was no longer available.  When the waiter came back he sold on the 16oz ribeye** and learned that they were out of that too (as well as the lobster mac and cheese). So my husband upgraded to the 20oz ribeye**.  After all of the appetizers were brought over, we were informed that the 20oz rib eye** was no longer available.  Which was odd because the dining room wasn’t packed.  It was busy, there was a good vibe, but I’d say at least 1/3 of the restaurant was empty.  

So there were no specials, and the upscale modern steakhouse ran out of it’s signature rib eye.  Instead Andy went with the NY Strip. 

The manager apologized and offered the steak and desserts to us to make up for it.  

We also learned that while they have a full bar, they don’t serve Frangelico which is Andy’s go-to after dinner drink.

The Service

The service was efficient but felt slightly rushed, more like a relay race than a romantic leisurely dinner for two.  At one point, I thought I was at an all you could eat buffet, because the oysters, salad and appetizers were all served at the same time! It was slightly comical (as a dietitian) because I don’t think there was any room on the table when all 5 plates were put down at the same time. We were there to relax and have a couple of drinks with dinner.  But if we wanted to, we could have probably been in and out in an hour.  

I would have preferred to have the meal paced out so we could eat food at the proper temperature and not feel like we were gorging!  It also made me wonder, would this have happened at the eight-seat chef’s table that is available for reservation?

Food Quality

In true steakhouse fashion, the menu selections teetered on decadent. Yet, as already mentioned item after item—the lamb, the 16oz rib eye, even the celebrated apple pie for dessert—were unavailable.

One thing stood out to us.  Nearly all of the appetizers came out warm – not hot or cold.  The oysters were not cold, cool at best while the tartare felt like it actually was set under a heat lamp before coming to the table.  The flavors were good, but the temperature felt off.  

The pretzel-crust crab cake was super tasty, but didn’t feel hot. 

My halibut on the bone was really different.  I’ve never seen fish presented that way.  It was served over ratatouille and had a good mix of vegetables and protein.  It was Mediterranean inspired and the portion was significant.  I took half home and it reheated well :).  

Truffle fries tasted more like parmesan and were super salty.  

While Andy’s strip steak wasn’t great.  It had a noticeable ring of fat, but it was cooked medium as he requested.  

The Walnut Trifle for dessert was right up my alley.  It was served in a coup glass, super rich and creamy.  I really enjoyed it, but I know Andy would have loved apple pie!  It’s his favorite.  

Walnut Trifle

And sometimes, I hate that I’m so detail oriented, but I overheard the server go take a dessert order for an 8 top next to us and they ordered two apple pie desserts.  After he put that order in, he let us know they were out of the apple pie. Maybe it’s just me, but when I waited tables, if I had a party that had to speak to the manager, I’d just make sure I did what I could to make the rest of the evening seamless.  I probably would have taken our dessert order before the 8 top!  

Beverage Offerings

The bar has a carefully crafted cocktail menu, as well as a full NO ABV (mocktail list!) which includes drinks like the Faux & Falcon which is a combination of ginger beer and NA red wine syrup.  They also boast a thoughtfully curated wine list plus sake and draught beers. That said, they don’t have Frangelico as part of their full bar offering.  

Meal Timing

Overall needs improvement.  My husband sold wine for some time in New York and myself having worked in several restaurants, we both know how the pace of the meal improves the guest experience, but also helps improve sales!  We easily would have had another round of drinks if we weren’t rushed through our first course.  

How I handle macros

 In the FASTer Way we have a saying, “memories over macros”.  And I apply this to holidays or eating occasions where I want to be present and not track every element of the meal.  Instead I look at my day in the morning and strategically choose foods that are lower in fats and higher in proteins so that I can enjoy the richer foods while dining out.

Before a big date night, I’l usually have a protein shake, egg white and veggie omelette or maybe this two ingredient soup with a scoop of collagen to get my protein up!

Check out this page if you want to know more.

Overall Impression

As a culinary trained dietitian and foodie, the menu was interesting and had great variety.  We wish everything was available so we could have tried the items we initially ordered. Before arriving, the online menu drove me in with the Branzino which wasn’t offered when we were there, but I loved the balance of my halibut dish, it was light and flavorful and fit perfectly with my macro protein goal!  

Overall it was a bit disappointing – especially for the price.  We had tried Red Salt by celebrity chef David Burke and while Southern cuisine isn’t my favorite, I thought both the food and the service were excellent there.  I’ve also had a level of enthusiasm for Burke’s Port City Club takeover since it’s nearby, but now I’m on the fence!

We kind of agreed that it seemed as though an intentional decision was made to buy and prep food in order to run out and not have food waste.  Which would be a fine strategy if it weren’t an elevated modern steakhouse menu.

Would we go back?

Probably not for date night. It certainly has potential, but when you weigh the cost, travel time to get there and ability to deliver on offerings from the menu, we felt it was a little unpredictable given our first experience.  If I was in the Southpark area, and were to meet a friend for a drink, I could see myself meeting there to check out the bar bites menu with a glass of wine or their NO ABV section of the cocktail menu but I wouldn’t reserve a table again.  

​Where are you eating in and around Charlotte?  We want to go check it out too!

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

How to Naturally Dye Easter Eggs with up-cycled ingredients

Easter is a special time of year known for family gatherings, egg hunts, the excitement of Easter baskets filled with goodies and of course renewed faith. But have you considered ditching the artificial colors this year for natural Easter egg dyes? It’s an excellent way to get gorgeous, sometimes subdued, sometimes vibrant colors without the chemical dyes. It’s a fantastic opportunity to involve children in a seasonal tradition of creating beautiful Easter egg colors using natural ingredients that would have otherwise been trash. Here’s my easy guide on how to do it.

a variety of colorful foods in boiling water to create dye

Growing up my aunt always colored Easter eggs using different things, but I will always remember a large stock pot filled with onion skins on her kitchen stovetop.   She even used panty hose to experiment with placing herbs or flowers to make unique designs on the eggs.  I always thought it was resourceful and beautiful.  

Materials Needed:

  • A selection of cooked white eggs and brown eggs
  • Natural dye materials: yellow onion skins, red onion skins, purple cabbage, beets, turmeric, paprkia, red zinger tea, raspberries, blueberries, spinach, black coffee
  • White vinegar or lemon juice
  • Water
  • Pots and sauce pan
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Disposable cups or mason jars
  • Slotted spoon

Natural Dyeing Mediums to Consider

You will be amazed with how many different foods can produce a variety of colors.

Produce items

  • Red onion skin – light pink color
  • Yellow onion skin – orange color
  • Spinach – light green color
  • Raspberries – pink color
  • Purple Cabbage – blue/purple color 
  • Red Cabbage – purple color
  • Blueberries – blue color

Spices

  • Paprika – red color
  • Turmeric – yellow color

Beverages

  • Red Zinger Tea – red color
  • Coffee – blackish brown color
  • Tart Cherry Juice – red color

Remember the Ratio

One cup of medium per one cup water.  I usually do 4 cups of water so I have plenty to color several eggs at one time.  

Step 1: Prepare Your Hard-Boiled Eggs

Before you start, make sure you have plenty of hardboiled eggs in either white or brown. If you need more info on that, check out my article on the perfect hard boiled egg. Keep in mind that brown eggs will give you more muted tones when dyed while white eggs can render bright yellow, green eggs, or even blue eggs based on the natural colors you choose. 

Step 2: Create the Natural Dyes 

Natural food dyes in jars

For a true homemade dye, select the natural ingredients you want to use. Last year I experimented with a variety of produce to get different colors including  a orange dye from yellow onion skins, purple from red cabbage dye, and green dye from spinach.  

To start, place your items in large mason jars and add enough boiling hot water to cover them. For every cup of water, add the same amount of your chosen plant material and let cool completely.  This will ensure a high concentration of natural colors in the dye pot.

For spices like turmeric, mix one tablespoon of spice with a cup of water. If you’re using coffee or tea bags, brew them as you would if you were going to drink them, but in a high concentration AKA extra strong.

Step 3: Strain and Add Vinegar

Once your dye bath reaches room temperature, use a fine mesh strainer to eliminate any large pieces and pour the fluid back into mason jar. For each cup of natural dye, mix in one tablespoons of vinegar. This step is crucial as the acidity from vinegar helps the egg shells to absorb the natural colors from your homemade dye, ensuring beautiful colors.

Step 4: Dye Your Eggs

Before immersing the eggs, wrap them in various things like silk ties, old pantyhose, or rubber bands for interesting patterns. Or use  a white wax crayon to create unique designs.  Then gently lay your hard-boiled eggs into the natural egg dyes using a slotted spoon.

If you’re using hollow eggs, the process is much the same, but you may need to fill them with a little bit of water to ensure they sink. Leave the eggs in the dye bath in the fridge for a few hours or overnight for more profound depth of color. (I prefer overnight).  The good news is you can check on them occasionally to see if they’ve reached your desired color. These natural options provide various colors, from  bright yellow to blueberry’s deep blue dye.

Step 5: Drying the Eggs

Remove the eggs from the dye and set them on paper towels or a rack to dry. Resist the temptation to wipe them down, as you could rub off the natural colors. Instead, let the natural easter egg dye work its magic as the eggs dry to a wonderful sheen.

I’d love to know how your eggs turned out! Tag me on social media to share your creations!

IG: Miss_nutritious_eats

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

Foolproof method to make perfect hard boiled eggs 

We make a batch of hard boiled eggs on a weekly basis in our house.  It’s just one of those things that I thought everyone knew how to do!  Making the perfect hard-boiled egg isn’t as simple as tossing eggs into hot water.  (So many blogs suggest leaving eggs in hot water hard boil eggs.  However, that method has a lot of room for error.)  

My method places eggs in a pot of water and boils them for a specific amount of time until desired doneness.  This is hands down the best way to do it. Though my mom does love making them in an instant pot… I just can’t commit to another appliance right now!  

Brown Chicken Eggs

Whether you prefer your yolks gooey and soft or fully set, following a few important tips ensures your eggs turn out exactly the way you like them, every single time.  The biggest problem is that timing will vary depending on the size of egg.  But one of the best things is, if you always buy large eggs, you will get perfect hard-boiled eggs every time.  

Ingredients

  • Large eggs (as many as you need)

Note that these directions are intended for large eggs. You may need to adjust boiling times accordingly if using smaller or larger eggs.

Equipment

  • Saucepan or pot
  • Bowl for ice-water bath
  • Slotted spoon or skimmer
  • Timer

Instructions

Step 1: Preparing the Eggs for Boiling

Before boiling, ensure your eggs are at least 10 days old for easier peeling.  I found that older eggs work best.  And don’t worry, this usually isn’t a problem unless you are getting fresh eggs from chickens each week!  Add cold eggs to pot in a single layer (you don’t want eggs sitting on top of eggs because they may break).  Any cracked egg (raw) should be discarded and not cooked or consumed.  

Step 2: Boil the Water

Fill a pot with enough water to cover the eggs by about an inch. Bring the water to a full rolling boil over high heat.

Step 3: Lower the Heat 

Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium.  This should look just above a simmer. This prevents the eggs from moving too much and cracking.

Step 4: Adjust Heat and Start Timer

Immediately set your timer for your desired level of doneness.  

Check out this list for cook time:  

  • 6 minutes: Soft-boiled eggs. Runny yolk, soft white.
  • 6 1/2 minutes: Soft, jammy yolk.
  • 8 minutes: Perfect eggs in my opinion!  Medium yolk, slightly soft. 
  • 10 minutes: Mostly hard with a hint of softness.
  • 12 minutes: Fully hard-boil eggs with a lighter yolk.
  • 14 minutes: Hard-cooked eggs.  Very firm hard-boiled egg.

It’s not advised for anyone to eat raw eggs.  Some whole shell eggs may contain bacteria that can lead to food born illness.1 

Step 6: Ice Water Bath for rapid cooling

While the eggs are boiling, prepare an ice-water bath. This is basically a large bowl filled with ice and cool water from the tap.  Exactly when your timer goes off, remove the eggs with your slotted spoon and transfer them into the ice bath. This will halt the cooking process and make your eggs easier to peel.

Step 7: Peeling

Once the eggs are cooled (about 5 minutes in the ice bath), gently crack them all over and peel under running water for most manageable peeling.

Tips

  • Do not overcrowd the pot; boil in batches if necessary.
  • Fresh eggs are more difficult to peel. Use eggs that have been in the refrigerator for at least a week. As an egg ages, moisture escapes from the shell leaving an air pocket inside.  The more air there is, the easier it will be to peel them.  
  • For extra help with peeling, after cooling the eggs in an ice-water bath, peel the eggs under cold running water or in the water bath itself.

Nutrition & Macros

One large egg contains about 6 grams of protein which is important for building and repairing tissues in the body. It also provides 5 grams of healthy fats that are necessary for brain health and can help with weight management by keeping you fuller longer.

Macros: 6gP, 5gF, 1gC, 0g Fiber

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Eggs are also rich in choline, a nutrient that plays a vital role in brain development and function. Furthermore, they contain antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which promote eye health.

What to do with hard boiled eggs

  • Turn into egg salad.  On busy days I like to mix 2 hard boiled eggs with 1 individual serving of avocado mash for a quick low carb option.  
  • On toast!  Slice your hard boiled eggs and place on buttered toast with a bit of Seasonello!
  • Eat them plain as a protein-packed snack.  Pair with berries and whole grain crackers to make it more substantial.  
  • Use them to make a Cobb salad for a low carb day meal.  
  • My kids usually grab their own hard boiled eggs in the morning as part of a quick hands off breakfast for me!
  • Decorate them for Easter 🙂

How long will hard boiled eggs last

Hard boiled eggs can last up to one week if stored properly. The key is to keep them in the fridge and not leave them out at room temperature for too long. 

I usually place eggs in a bowl once cooled and store them on the center shelf in my fridge.  This way anytime we open the fridge we can see them, and eat them before the week is over.  

Sources

  1. https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/Is-it-safe-to-eat-lightly-cooked-egg-dishes-or-use-recipes-that-call-for-raw-eggs

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

Helpful essentials when starting the FASTer Way to Fat Loss

Welcome to what could be the start of a life-changing experience for you—the FASTer Way to Fat Loss program. Embarking on this path is not just about shedding pounds; it’s about gaining a whole new understanding of health and wellness. However, to maximize your chances for success and truly thrive on this program, having the right tools can make all the difference. In this post, I’m sharing the essentials that my clients find the most value in having as they start their new healthy lifestyle!

The Essentials for a Smooth Journey

Before you launch into the world of intermittent fasting, carb cycling, and effective workouts, it’s important to gather a few key items. And before you commit to a specific coach – be sure you like their style of teaching. I think this is an important one that easily gets overlooked!

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Tired of endless diets and no results? Join the FASTer Way to Fat Loss and see real, sustainable changes in just 6 weeks!

Melanie Marcus FASTer Way to Fat Loss Coach

Fitness Must-Haves

  • Sports Bra: Starting any workout regimen without good support is like trying to run a race with your shoes untied—it just doesn’t make sense! A quality sports bra will keep you comfortable and focused on the task at hand.
  • Sneakers: The backbone of any physical activity, a sturdy pair of sneakers is vital. They’re not just for show; they protect and support your feet through every squat, lunge, jump, or step.
  • Strength Bands/Weights: While body weight is an excellent resistance tool, incorporating some basic weights or strength bands can add variety and challenge your muscles in new ways.
  • Water Bottle: Hydration is key, especially when you’re pushing your body to new depths. Keep a water bottle on hand to ensure your water intake is up to par with your hard work.

Kitchen Allies

  • Dry Measuring Cups & Spoons, Kitchen Scale: These tools are pivotal in mastering portion control, which is an integral part of the program’s nutrition approach.
  • Sheet Pans & Food Storage Containers: Meal prep is a game-changer when it comes to sticking to the weekly meal plans. Having the right containers will keep your nutritious meals fresh and ready to go.
  • Protein Powder: I find that most clients at some point start using a protein supplement to help build lean muscle. The trick with a protein powder is to find one that delivers protein and not carbohydrate and fat. This makes meeting macro goals much easier!

Tech Support

  • iPhone/Smartphone: Immediate access to the FASTer Way app keeps you tapped into daily workouts, meal plans, and the supportive community for that daily accountability boost.
  • TV that will mirror your phone: Totally not required, but I find that I like to cast my screen to make workouts more enjoyable.

If I had to pick just one thing

I would highly, suggest that you invest in a kitchen scale.  It will be a game changer when it comes to dialing in on your macros. 

Beyond the Physical Items

Having physical items on hand is wonderful, but the most important part of your success is cultivating an open mind. The strategies you will implement—like low macro days and regular macro days—are designed to elevate your metabolic rate and improve overall health, not just for immediate results but as part of a holistic approach to wellness.

Adopting the FASTer Way lifestyle means recognizing that this isn’t just a weight loss program—it’s a complete recalibration of how you view and consume food, how you move your body, and how you prioritize your overall health.

Success Stories to Inspire You

The FASTer Way has been a game-changer for many who’ve walked this path before you. Take it from our community members who’ve found success:

A Final Word of Encouragement

Remember, your commitment to this 6-week program and ultimately joining the VIP membership is about integrating these new practices into your life one day at a time. From the start prep week with your certified coach, you’re setting yourself up for long-term success.

One of the best things about this online fitness program is that it truly provides a consistent community, always ready to provide comprehensive support through social media platforms, VIP programs, and of course, the irreplaceable Facebook group banter. 

You will have a wealth of resources at your fingertips—from meal plan information to ongoing access to sample meal plans and daily meal plan recipes.

Join thousands of FASTer Way veterans who’ve seen great results, and remember, becoming a more confident, healthy, and energized you is worth every step, every rep, and every healthy meal. 

Are you ready to start your weight loss journey with the right tools and best support? Join me and become a faster way member today! 🌟

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

Best macro friendly Waldorf chicken salad recipe

Whether you’re looking for easy lunches, a quick low carb meal, or you’re into meal prep, this Macro Friendly Waldorf Chicken Salad will quickly become your favorite way to satisfy hunger.

This delicious chicken salad harnesses the efficiency of canned chicken, without sacrificing the creamy texture we all love in traditional chicken salad recipes. The great recipe I’m sharing with you today is lean and offers that perfect balance of sweet and crunchy too.  

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But what makes it macro friendly?

When a food item is considered macro-friendly, it generally means it is composed in a way that helps you meet your macronutrient needs in a balanced and healthful manner. Macronutrients, commonly referred to as macros, are the nutrients required by the body in large amounts, which include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Being “macro-friendly” could indicate that the food:

  • Has a balanced amount of carbs, proteins, and fats.
  • Is versatile and can be easily incorporated into different dietary regimens without overly skewing the balance of macronutrients.
  • Is calorie-dense and provides nutritional benefit without excessive sugars or unhealthy fats.
  • Can be portioned effectively to meet individual macro tracking goals, often relevant for those tracking their intake for body composition goals, such as fitness enthusiasts and athletes.

This recipe in particular is macro friendly because it is easy to modify the recipe ingredients to meet your macro goals whether you are following a low carb or regular macro day.

A macro-friendly food helps you nail your specific dietary targets based on your personal goals, whether that be weight loss, muscle gain, or maintenance of general health.

Macros

This recipe makes one large serving. It’s a lot of food. I like to have most for lunch and finish the rest as an afternoon snack. I serve with seed crackers, romaine leaves, celery, carrots or on Ezekiel bread!

Calories: 474 kcal

Carbohydrates: 22g

Protein: 36g

Fat: 29g

Fiber: 3g

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Ingredients:

  • Canned chicken breast
  • Crunchy celery
  • Walnuts (toasted for the best flavor)
  • Mayonnaise (light mayonnaise for a low-calorie option)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Fresh dill (or other fresh herbs for an aromatic twist)
  • Green or red grapes
  • Green apple
  • Lemon juice, optional (for some zesty flair)
  • Onion powder and garlic powder, optional (to spice things up)

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Quickly drain the canned chicken breast. I find the Costco brand offers great quality, perfect as the main ingredient for this recipe.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken with 1.5 Tbsp of light mayonnaise, 1 tsp dijon mustard, 1/2 ounce of crushed toasted walnuts, 1/2 cup halved red grapes, and 1/2 cup of chopped crunchy celery, 1/4 cup chopped apple for that classic flavor profile.

Preparing Your Salad

When you’re finished mixing up this easy chicken salad recipe, store it in an airtight container in your fridge. It’s a super easy way to dig into a macro friendly meal throughout the week, especially if you’re looking to reach your macro goals on a low carb day. Serve this salad as lettuce wraps, which is not only a great option for a gluten-free dish but also keeps it low carb and fresh. 

And if you’re counting macros, here’s a healthy salad recipe tip for you: before digging in, measure the total gram weight of your serving to stay on track. If you’ve served yourself a 100g portion, simply enter 100 as the serving size when logging your meal.

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The Best Things About This Chicken Salad

  • Versatility: You can enjoy it on a bed of lettuce, stuffed in avocado halves, or as a filling for bell peppers.
  • Convenience: It’s the perfect make-ahead lunch to enjoy throughout the week.
  • Customization: Feel free to add hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, green onions, and fresh parsley to add more flavors and textures.
  • Ease: If you want to use freshly poached chicken breast:  With the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, shredding chicken becomes effortless, giving you the creamy texture without much fuss.
  • Nail Fat Macros:  If you follow the FASTer Way to Fat Loss you may notice, there are some days that fat macros may be difficult to reach.  This recipe will help you get there!
  • Family Friendly: While it will help you reach your goals- your family will probably like it too! Check out this post for how to prepare macro friendly foods they all will love.

Above all, the best way to discover this great recipe is to try it yourself! Enjoy the process of mixing and matching, maybe even adding a bit of tangy buffalo sauce if you’re looking for that kick. 

Bonus: Looking for an easy chicken salad recipe that feels gourmet? Add a hint of poppy seeds and apple cider vinegar to the mix and experience a new take on a beloved classic!

Nutrition, flavor, and satisfaction – it’s all here in this Macro Friendly Waldorf Chicken Salad. Enjoy and happy healthy eating!

Waldorf Chicken Salad

Macro friendly and perfect for a low carb day.
Course Main Course, Salad
Servings 1 person
Calories 474 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces Kirkland Chicken Breast
  • 1.5 tbsp mayonaise
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup grapes halved
  • 1/2 cup celery chopped
  • 1/2 ounce walnuts toasted
  • 1/4 cup green apple

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl combine all ingredients and mix.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 474kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 36gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 16gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 1071mgPotassium: 383mgFiber: 3gSugar: 16gVitamin A: 313IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 1mg
Keyword chicken, macro friendly, protein
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

Why I eat leftover salmon straight from the fridge

Atlantic salmon is a weekly staple for us when it comes to healthy eating.  (I’ll save why this is my preference for another post!) It’s a delicious fish that can be prepared in a variety of ways whether you’re buying fresh or frozen salmon from the grocery store.  

Leftover salmon from the day before is delicious protein source. Have you ever tried eating cold salmon? Personally, I think it’s the best way to eat it for convenience, taste and avoiding that fishy smell! Read on, and I’ll explain 🙂

The fastest way to prepare salmon

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Before Kids

I used to roast fresh salmon or defrosted salmon in my toaster oven or in a 400 F oven.  I would remove any excess moisture with a paper towel, coat with a bit of olive oil spray, season with Seasonello and top with lemon slices and roast for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  Still a great way to prepare salmon, (and I still do when cooking for a large crowd), but on a normal weeknight, every minute counts.

After Kids

While the above method seems pretty quick and painless, I now have even less time and this is BY FAR, my favorite way to prepare salmon – bonus my husband even likes it too!  

  1. Take a 6-8oz frozen salmon fillet out of packaging and place directly in 400F bucket air fryer.  
  2. Spray with olive oil spray, season with salt and pepper or Seasonello and top with lemon slices.  
  3. Cook for 14 minutes (from frozen) and serve!!  
  4. Salmon should look opaque and golden and reach an internal temperature of 145 F with a food thermometer when done.

When it’s cooked at a high temperature like this, the outside gets a little color to make it appealing and the inside is flakey and moist.  

I can usually fit 3 salmon fillets in my air fryer and I usually try to make at least one extra piece of salmon for lunch the next day.  

How to store cooked salmon properly

Storing leftover salmon properly is crucial to ensure food safety and to maximize its shelf life. After cooking salmon, let it cool to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container or wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This will keep it fresh for up to 3-4 days.

Why I eat cold leftover salmon straight from fridge

Now, back to the topic of why I eat cold leftover salmon straight from the fridge. There are a few reasons why this is a great choice.

Convenience: 

Eating cold leftover salmon is a great way to save time and effort. You don’t have to worry about reheating it or going through the whole cooking process again. I like to eat it as is, make salmon salad out of it, add it to a salad or even make a sandwich. 

Taste: 

As strange as it may sound, leftover cold-cooked salmon can taste even better than the first time you had it. The flavors have had time to meld together, and your taste buds may pick up on different nuances that you didn’t notice before. Because salmon is a fattier fish, it maintains a moist flaky texture too which makes it very satisfying to eat.  My kids prefer salmon cold too.  

No Fishy Smell:

There’s something to be said about office kitchen etiquette about salmon.  When you’re eating it, everyone knows it because of they fishy odors!  When you have it cold with your meal, it still tastes great, and won’t smell up the whole kitchen the way reheated fish does.  

Roasted salmon pinterest pin

Nutritional benefits: 

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain function and overall health. Eating cold leftover salmon is an easy hands off way to get more of these beneficial nutrients in your diet.

Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids: Seafood, especially oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for heart and brain health.

High in protein: Seafood is a great source of lean protein, making it an ideal option for those looking to increase their protein intake without consuming excess calories or unhealthy fats.

Low in saturated fat: Compared to other animal proteins, seafood contains lower amounts of saturated fat. This makes it a healthier option for those looking to maintain cardiovascular health.

Contains essential vitamins and minerals: Seafood is rich in vital nutrients like vitamin D, selenium, iodine, and zinc, which play crucial roles in maintaining overall health.

Helps prevent chronic diseases: Regularly consuming seafood has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression due to its high nutrient content.

Supports healthy growth and development: Seafood is especially important for children and pregnant women as it provides essential nutrients for proper growth and development.

Lowers inflammation: The anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood can help reduce inflammation in the body, which is linked to many chronic diseases.

Aids in weight management: Due to its high protein content and low calorie density, seafood can be beneficial for weight management by promoting satiety and reducing overall calorie intake.

To enjoy cold leftover salmon straight from the fridge, simply take it out of the container and enjoy, or let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes and top with lemon juice. 

Other salmon recipes

I know my roasting method is basic, but it works and it’s delicious.  I’m not a fan of coating with cream cheese or feta cheese because it is already a good source of healthy fats.  And for basic weeknight meals, balance is important.  We talk a lot about that if you enroll in the FASTer Way and are focused on health too!  

1
Quick High Protein Salmon Salad
Use canned or leftover salmon to make this recipe.
Check out this recipe
2
Tuna poke in a blue bowl
Tuna Poke Salad
If you're loving salmon, use sushi grade salmon in this recipe instead of tuna!
Check out this recipe
3
salmon on top on lemon slices.
Baked Salad
Top this with salmon – it's soooo good!
Check out this recipe

You can easily turn leftover salmon into salmon cakes by combining with a bit of bread crumbs, chopped bell peppers, red onions and mayo or egg.  Form into salmon patties and cook over medium heat with a little olive oil on stovetop until brown and cooked through.  

One recipe I do really love is this simple salmon salad, which you can make with canned or cold cooked salmon.  It would also be phenomenal over baked salad too!

Roasted salmon on plate.

Air-fryer Roasted Salmon

Use salmon straight from the freezer.
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 14 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 242 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 basket style air fryer I have found if I use my other toaster oven style air fryer, I need to add a few minutes to cook time. And it tends to make a mess.

Ingredients
  

  • 6 oz Atlantic Salmon fillet, frozen I like Costco fillets
  • Seasonello or salt and pepper

Instructions
 

  • Preheat air-fryer to 400F.
  • Place frozen salmon on parchment liner in air fryer basket and let cook for 14 minutes.
  • Should reach an internal temperature of 145F with a meat thermometer when done.

Nutrition

Calories: 242kcalProtein: 34gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 75mgPotassium: 833mgVitamin A: 68IUCalcium: 20mgIron: 1mg
Keyword air fryer, easy, fast, protein, simple
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

Two ingredient soup hack (creamy + nourishing)

As a mom and dietitian, I’m always on the hunt to make something wholesome and easy to feed myself and my kids – and this one hits the mark for both. You can warm up your soul with this quick and easy two-ingredient soup hack that is perfect for those busy weekdays or whenever you need a quick dinner fix. It also happens to be an excellent way to get your kids to eat vegetables! Plus you can add to it to create a macro balanced meal or snack.  It is literally the easiest soup recipes I have ever tested.

This recipe is built on the convenience of frozen mirepoix and chicken broth from the grocery store, making it a great go-to meal when you’re short on time.

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Ingredients and Alternatives:

For this basic recipe, you will only need two main ingredients, frozen mirepoix and broth, but you can add additional ingredients to customize the soup to your own preference. 

Frozen mirepoix

  • This is a combination of pre-diced celery, onion and carrot.  I usually have a bag in the freezer.  
  • This soup is equally as good with fresh mirepoix, my local Trader Joe’s and Harris Teeter always have it available in the produce aisle.  When I buy fresh, I generally try to cook it the same day.  
  • You could always use 3/4 cup each of diced carrots and celery with 1 cup of diced onion.  
Chopped onions, carrots, leeks and turnips for soup.

Chicken stock

Bowl of broth herbs and spices to make chicken soup
  • Vegetable stock is a perfect alternative if you’re vegan, vegetarian or trying to follow a more plant based lifestyle.
  • Beef stock will add a deeper umami flavor to this soup.
  • Turkey stock is a great alternative to chicken stock.
  • Bone broth may also be used.  This option will offer a more protein rich soup.  

​Make it your own

  • Feel free to add fresh herbs, such as thyme or rosemary, to elevate the soup’s flavor, or hot sauce to add an extra kick.
  • Try adding a can of tomatoes to make a tomato-based soup.
  • Grate or add a cube of fresh ginger to the mirepoix for a nutrient and flavor boost.
  • Serve with poached shrimp for an elegant starter or light lunch.
Jump to Recipe

Steps to Make It:

  1. Start by heating up a large pot on medium heat and adding a tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Add the frozen mirepoix mixture and cook for 5-7 minutes until it’s soft and fragrant.
  3. Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth, enough to cover the mirepoix, and let it come to a boil.
  4. Turn down the heat and let the soup simmer for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until you reach the desired consistency.
  6. If you want a thinner soup, add more warm chicken or veggie stock and blend.  
  7. Serve hot with toppings of your choice.
Home blender

The beauty of this recipe is that it is perfect for anyone looking for a warm and hearty soup without having to spend hours in the kitchen. This is perfect for those who are seeking a healthy option but don’t want to sacrifice flavor.

Interesting Ways to Serve It:

Bowl of creamy soup decoreated with crema and herbs

If you’re looking to mix things up, try serving this soup as a base for a poached egg. 

You can also roast sweet potato cubes and add them to the soup for a seasonal twist. 

For extra creaminess, add a dollop of Greek yogurt, (heavy cream or sour cream work too!) 

 Serve with crusty bread, green onions, and black pepper.

Top with croutons or toasted pumpkin seeds for an extra crunch.

This two-ingredient soup is an easy favorite during any time of year and is perfect for children and adults alike.

How to store It:

You can pop any leftover soup in the freezer in an airtight container for a quick and easy lunch. I recommend pouring into pint containers for easy meal prepping and portioning.

Nutrition & Macros:

This soup is packed with nutrients from the vegetables and broth. Mirepoix, made from a mix of carrots, celery, and onions, is an excellent source of vitamins and fiber. It is also great for hydration.

It has about 100 calories per serving and is made with real whole food ingredients.

  • Carbohydrates 5g
  • Protein 6g
  • Fat 3g

These values may change if you use a different broth such as bone broth or vegetable broth.

If you’re following the FASTer Way, save this recipe for low macro day. It’s will definitely help you feel full and hit your macro targets.

If you’re in a soup mood, you should try this split lentil soup recipe. It’s high protein and fiber gets better with time.

Don’t hesitate to make it your own by adding your own twist to the recipe. Happy cooking!

delicious pumpkin soup in ceramic bowl

2 Ingredient Soup

This recipes is so easy and comes together quickly for a cozy soup.
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 109 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 blender

Ingredients
  

  • Frozen Mirepoix
  • 32 ounces chicken stock

Instructions
 

  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in stock pot.
  • Add frozen bag of mirepoix and cook over medium heat until translucent and soft. About 10 minutes.
  • Add broth or stock to vegetables and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Transfer hot soup to blender and blend until smooth.
  • Serve and enjoy

Nutrition

Serving: 4gCalories: 109kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 6gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 374mgPotassium: 238mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 35IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 0.5mg
Keyword easy, kid friendly
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

9 ways to start cooking healthier at home today

Cooking at home is an incredible way to ensure that you are eating healthy meals that are both tasty and nutritious. It always amazes me to think about that what you eat has the power to prevent or reduce your risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Not only that, it is also an enjoyable way to spend time with family and friends, enhance your culinary skills, and save money! However, sometimes it can be challenging to whip up a meal that is both healthy and delicious, especially if you are new to cooking. But don’t worry! I have got you covered.

It always amazes me to think about that what you eat has the power to prevent or reduce your risk of chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Tip #1: Prioritize whole foods

When I say whole foods, I mean foods that are in their mostly natural form.  Think fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat, healthy fats like avocado and walnuts as well as whole grains.  In the Faster Way, we say anything that comes from the ground or has a mother is fair game.  These foods provide more nutritional value than convenience foods and processed foods because they have micronutrients and fiber that keeps you feeling full and content. For example, incorporating whole grains like brown rice and quinoa into your meals is a great way to add fiber to your diet while fresh fruits and vegetables are chock full of mood enhancing and gut healthy nutrients that bring color and flavor to meals.  Whole food nutrition is also an important element of weight management.  

Tip #2: Plan ahead

Planning ahead is a crucial step in healthy cooking. It saves time, money, and reduces food waste. Develop a weekly menu, taking into consideration the nutrients you need, and shop accordingly. Meal prepping is also a great way to ensure that you have healthy meals ready to go when you are tight on time. Having a handy kitchen notebook or weekly meal planner is a simple way to organize your dinners for the week. It’s your one stop for your favorite new recipes, recipe notes and ingredients that should make up your pantry staples!  

Tip #3: Use the right cooking methods

The cooking methods you choose can significantly impact the health of your meals. Instead of frying, try baking, grilling, or steaming. These methods tend to require less oil and maintain the flavor of your ingredients. Another tip is to use non-stick pans or parchment paper to eliminate the need for excessive oils. Keep in mind that fats have twice the calories as carbohydrate and protein. 

Roasted potatoes

Tip #4: Play with spices and herbs

Parsley on counter

Who says healthy food has to be boring? Playing with spices and herbs is an excellent way to liven up your meals, especially when you’re reducing the amount of fat in food.  Adding spices also provides health benefits. Spices like turmeric, ginger, and cumin are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and herbs such as parsley and basil have high antioxidant levels.  Once you master a cooking technique, such as roasting for example, you can play with the combination of fresh herbs to create variety in flavor.

 

Tip #5: Experiment with healthy substitutes

There’s no shortage of healthy substitutes for common ingredients. 

  • For instance, instead of using white flour, try almond or coconut flour, which both contain high vitamins and minerals. 
  • Rather than using sugar, opt for natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or dates.  
  • You can also use unsweetened applesauce or mashed banana in place of butter to keep baked goods healthier too. 
  • Another option is to swap out solid fat such as butter or lard for avocado oil or olive oil because these oils support healthy cholesterol and overall heart health.  
  • Instead of sour cream use a Greek yogurt for that creamy consistency with the added benefit of protein.
  • If you choose to consume dairy, opting for low-fat options is a great way to add calcium and water-soluble vitamins to your diet. So instead of choosing whole milk, try a 2% milk and gradually go to a 1% option as everyone gets used to the change.  (They may not even notice the difference!)
  • Instead of going for the salt shaker or soy sauce which should be avoided if you have high blood pressure, try a squeeze of lemon juice.  Acidity from lemon has a way of brightening up a meal, beyond what salt can add.  Try it!
  • If you are cooking with ground beef, try chopping mushrooms to replace part or all of the beef.  This will decrease total calories and saturated fat, but also add fiber, flavor and important micronutrients.  

Tip #6: Pay attention to portions

healthy travel snacks

This is a big one because portion size and balance of macronutrients can make or break our health goals. Portion sizes can make a big difference in a meal.  White rice for example has 170 calories per 1 cup, cooked.  If you accidentally double that by taking a second helping, the calories will add up quickly.  Plate fruits and vegetables first and incorporate lean proteins like fish and chicken to ensure a balanced meal. Plate your carbohydrates last.  

Tip #7:  Change up your appliances

One of my favorite appliances is my air fryer.  When it comes to cooking fish, chicken cutlets or fries, it’s one of my favorite ways to get a home-cooked meal on the table quickly. Using a slow cooker is a great way to cook lean meats like chicken and pork while retaining their flavor and nutritional value too.  

Vegetable Hack: Cook frozen veggies in your air frier for a quick side that comes together in about 10 minutes!

Tip#8: Nutrition by addition

Often times, an average meal or snack is just one or two ingredients away from being well balanced and satisfying. 

  • Chia seeds can be sprinkled on top of meals for healthy fats and fiber.  
  • Slice bananas or mash berries on top of toast with peanut butter for micronutrients and a pop of flavor.
  • Leftover restaurant meals, like risotto or pasta can be reheated and combined with a bag of frozen vegetables to increase the volume and add nutrition.
  • You can add a scoop of protein powder to rolled oats to provide satiating protein.  
  • Instead of snacking on a piece of fruit, add a scoop of cottage cheese for protein and fat.  
  • When you’re having a slice of pizza, one of the best ways to bump up the nutrition is to have a small side salad or raw vegetables along with it.  
  • If you have to stop for fast food, you can opt for a salad but be sure to add a protein.  At Chick-Fil-A you can ask for double grilled chicken or nuggets to add for filling protein.  

Tip #9 :  Measure your oil

One tablespoon of olive oil or vegetable oil has 120 calories. So when you do the Rachel Ray swirl in the pan (straight from the bottle) it’s easy to add more than intended.  One simple way to avoid eating too much fat is to measure your oil.  Fat is an important part of a healthy diet, so I’m not saying to avoid it all together, it’s just a food group to be aware of, especially if you have heart disease.  

Check out this home made salad dressing – it’s so creamy and tangy. Seriously the best!

My favorite recipes on repeat

4
Quick Fried Rice for One
Check out this recipe
5
Yogurt Curry Chicken Skewers
This recipe couldn't be faster to throw together, and it's a complete crowd pleaser.
Check out this recipe
6
Egg Roll meal prep
Egg Roll In A Bowl
Easy weeknight recipe that comes together with basic pantry staples and 2-3 fresh ingredients from the store!
Check out this recipe

Remember that even small changes in your eating habits can lead to big health benefits. There are even great options for healthier meals at the grocery store (just check out the prepared foods and frozen sections!) and simple swaps you can make to your favorite dishes to make them healthier. 

Follow me on instagram to cook along with me!

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie

How to prep kale for any recipe – step by step

Kale is a delicious, leafy green that’s rich in vitamin C and essential nutrients. It’s no surprise that many people consider it one of their favorite ingredients! However, if you’ve ever cooked with curly kale, tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, or lacinato kale, you might have noticed that these greens have tough stems running down the center of the leaves. These stems can be bitter and chewy, detracting from the best flavor of the kale leaf. That’s where deveining kale comes in. In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn the best way to devein kale for any recipe.

curly kale on white background

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Devein Kale for Any Recipe

Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Ingredients

To prepare your kale, you’ll need a few simple tools and ingredients:

  • A bunch of kale (curly kale, tuscan kale, dinosaur kale, or lacinato kale all work well)
  • A cutting board
  • A sharp knife
  • A large bowl
  • Cold water
  • Ice
  • Paper towels or a salad spinner

Optional:

  • Plastic bags
  • Sheet pans

Step 2: Remove the Kale Leaves from the Stem

close up shot of chopped kale on a white surface

To begin, hold the kale leaf by the stem, with the tip of the leave pointing down. With a paring knife, slide the blade of the knife down both sides of the stem. The tough stems should come out in one piece, leaving you with kale leaves ready to be washed and cooked.

Step 3: Wash the Kale Leaves

Once you’ve separated the kale leaf from the stem, put the leaves in a large bowl of cold water. Move the leaves around in the water to help remove any dirt or debris. Then, lift the kale leaves out of the water and discard the water. It’s important to remember not to soak the leaves for too long, as kale can absorb too much water and become soggy, diminishing its best flavor.

Step 4: Blanch the Kale (optional)

If you’d like to soften your kale leaves, you can quickly blanch them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then, immediately transfer the blanched kale to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. After a minute or two, drain the kale and gently squeeze any excess water out of the leaves.

Step 5: Dry the Kale Leaves

Whether you blanch the kale or not, it’s important to dry the leaves well before cooking. You can do this by using paper towels to blot the kale dry or by using a salad spinner to remove excess water. If you choose to use a salad spinner, be sure to spin the leaves in smaller pieces to ensure that they dry thoroughly.

Step 6: Chopping the Kale Leaves

Now that you’ve deveined and cleaned your kale, it’s time to chop it into smaller pieces. Using a sharp knife, cut the leaves into thin strips or smaller pieces, depending on the recipe. Skip this step if you need the leaves to remain whole.

Step 7: Store Your Deveined Kale

To keep your kale fresh and crisp, wrap it in paper towels, place it in a plastic bag, and store it in the refrigerator. This will help absorb any excess moisture and keep your kale fresh for up to a week. In a pinch, you can purchase kale at your local farmer’s market or grocery store that has already been washed chopped and deveined.

Easy recipes to make with Kale

Kale Chips:  Toss the chopped kale leaves with a bit of olive oil or sesame oil and add a pinch of salt. Spread them in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake in the oven at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes, or until they’re crispy.

Optional: For an added kick, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice or sprinkle of red pepper flakes to your kale leaves.

Kale Salad:  Drizzle your fresh kale(small pieces) with red wine vinegar and a bit of salt.  Massage the kale with your hands until kale is slightly wilted.  Then drizzle with olive oil and fresh ground pepper to taste.  You can top this with goat cheese, white beans and pepitas for a refreshing side.  It’s my favorite way to eat kale!

One of the best things about kale is its versatility in the kitchen. It can be eaten raw, blended into smoothies, roasted, sautéed, or even made into chips.

This baked salad recipe with kale is a must try!

photo of salad ingredients

“As a mom and registered dietitian, I am always on the lookout for nutrient-dense and delicious food options that my family will actually enjoy. That’s why I love sautéing kale with just a few simple ingredients – olive oil, garlic, and Seasonello seasoning. Not only does it taste incredibly flavorful, but it’s also full of essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, the healthy fats from the olive oil help your body absorb those nutrients even better. When you cook up a big batch of this tasty kale dish, it’ll be hard to keep it on the table for very long. Give it a try and see for yourself!”

Melanie Marcus MA RD

Kale Nutrition

Kale is a superstar among greens, packed with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and folate. It is also rich in antioxidants and fiber, making it an excellent addition to almost any diet.1

In addition to its impressive nutrient profile, kale has been linked to a range of potential health benefits. Studies have shown that consuming kale may help improve heart health, reduce inflammation, and even lower the risk of some cancers. It is also a low-calorie food with about 40 calories per 100g, which can be helpful for weight management.

The nice thing about kale, as with most green leafy vegetables, it fits well with may eating patterns including the mediterranean diet, the keto diet, low carb , vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.

If you’re following the Faster Way to Fat Loss, kale is a vegetable that can fit on your regular macro, low macro, and low carb day plans.

Sources

  1. Alfawaz, H. A., Wani, K., Alrakayan, H., Alnaami, A. M., & Al-Daghri, N. M. (2022). Awareness, Knowledge and Attitude towards ‘Superfood’ Kale and Its Health Benefits among Arab Adults. Nutrients14(2), 245. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14020245

About Me

I’m Melanie.

I’m a chef, registered dietitian, foodie, wife and mom.
If you’re looking for quick and healthy meal inspiration that supports your health goals while feeding the rest of your family (including the kiddoes) well, then you’ve come to the right place!

Melanie Marcus Selfie