Hey Angels and Alphas,
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have become much more interested in home cooking – which is great! From the Instagram-worthy sourdough to the desserts to the pickled goods, homemade meals have been on the rise. And now that summer is here, this might be the perfect time to improve your culinary skills and make those backyard barbecues and family get-togethers the experience of a lifetime.
Home-cooked desserts, snacks, and meals are likely to contain fewer calories, as well as other ingredients you don’t want in your food, such as salt, sugar, and refined carbs. Home-cooked meals are also usually higher in nutrients that can decrease your risk of chronic diseases, all while supporting your efforts to lose weight and slim down.
Preparing your own food at home also provides a variety of benefits such as great family time, saving money, and teaching your skills this essential life skill.
Today, we’re here to talk about a few meals that, when you take the time to prepare them at home, can become some of the most delicious, weight-loss-promoting foods you can try this summer.
If you’re looking for the best warm-weather training fuel, nothing beats a few spoonsful of crunchy granola. Most of the granolas you’ll find at the store contain too much added sugar and aren’t really rich in the fiber department (which is incredibly important for weight management, gut health, heart health, and more.)
If you want to make your own granola, mix 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, a quarter cup of canola oil, half a teaspoon of salt, and a quarter cup of natural sweetener such as honey. Add your oats (around 3 cups) and 2 cups of raw nuts, then spread that on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour at 120 degrees Celsius.
#2 FRUIT YOGURT
The fruit-flavored yogurt you see at the store does seem both healthy and convenient, but more often than not, it’s full of unnecessary sugar. If you’re looking for summer-inspired homemade snacks, make a chia fruit jam and mix it with plain, 0 percent Greek yogurt.
Chia seeds are an amazing source of omega-3 and fiber, helping you feel nice and full. All you need are about 2 cups of fresh or frozen fruits, 2 spoons of chia seeds (which is about 30 grams) and yogurt.
Simmer all the fruit in a pot until it gets soft (so for approximately 5 minutes,) then mash it with the back of a fork and stir in your chia seeds. Let it cool down before serving it with yogurt. The end result is a delicious and healthy jam that you can use to spread on top of toast, ice cream, or pretty much anywhere.
#3 SALAD DRESSING
We’ve always stressed the importance of making your own salad dressings for a variety of reasons. First, it’s super easy to DIY. Second, it helps you cut down on all the sugar, salt, and unnecessary stabilizers you’ll find in all the grocery store salad dressings.
If you want a basic vinaigrette to go with your light summer salads, just bring together heart-healthy olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and some lemon juice in a 3:1 ratio.
You can add a touch of Dijon mustard if you want to keep it creamy. Or here’s another option: next time your favorite jam is nearing its end, add your dressing ingredients and shake it up!
#4 PROTEIN BOWLS
Protein bowls are, for the most part, just a pumped-up salad. That being said, they’re full of vital nutrients, and they’re easily packable if you need them on the go. They have healthy fats, complex carbs, a ton of protein, and they’re super easy to make, which allows you to save time (and not to mention, ward off the midday sluggishness.)
Here is a 5-ingredient formula that you can use for hundreds of protein bowl variations: add whole grains (brown rice or quinoa), a high-quality protein (chicken, black beans, hard-boiled eggs), a veggie (leafy greens, carrots), a dressing (the homemade vinaigrette we talked about), and a topping (nuts, salsa)
#5 SPAGHETTI SAUCE
Pasta sauce is one of the most surprising sources of added sugar in our diets. Hence, it’s important that we switch to a homemade alternative that’s healthy and just as delicious.
Here’s how: mix 1, 15 ounce can of no-sodium tomato juice, half a cup of strained tomatoes, and a cup of marinara. Let that boil for 20 minutes, then add some salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsley, and basil. Bring that together, and you have the perfect spaghetti sauce, all without the unnecessary added sugars that come with grocery store alternatives.