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    When I started my weight loss journey, I made a promise to myself: “I will not sacrifice good food along the way.” Eighty pounds later, I can tell you I wholeheartedly kept that promise. It took me eleven months, and a lot of research (and trial-and-error) to understand that good food isn’t the enemy. In fact, for me, good food only encouraged me to keep learning, discovering and nourishing my body. When I switched my mindset from restriction to simply focusing on whole foods, everything changed for me. As you can imagine, with this switch, came a lot of research, and cooking.
    As a food writer, and *amateur* home chef, cooking is part of my everyday life. I generally prepare 2-3 meals per day and opt to support local businesses through takeout 1-2x a week. A few months into quarantine I realized that cooking multiple meals every day wasn’t going to be realistic – in addition to working, staying active and carving out quality time with family and close friends. At that point, I made a list of my favorite meals, and turned to meal prep.
    My go-to meals include: kale salad with crispy wild salmon, breakfast tacos, crispy harissa chicken, and lots of cauliflower rice. The great thing about these meals? They’re cheap, easy to make, and are generally nutritious – if prepared correctly. The key here? Buying high quality ingredients and preparing them yourself. If you’re strapped for time, stores like Trader Joe’s offer prepared alternatives – just be sure to check the ingredient list for hidden offenders. (I personally avoid grains, dairy, vegetable oils and added sugars.)
    My kale salad with crispy wild salmon can be recreated with vegan protein, beef, pork, etc. The base is simply massaged kale (massage pre-cut kale for 5-10 min with extra virgin olive oil). Personally, I always opt for wild salmon (versus farmed) because it’s higher in minerals and omega-3 fatty acids! To prepare, sprinkle 6-oz fillets with salt and pepper (I use Real Salt), and sear in a pan with avocado oil, skin side up. I cook initially for 4 minutes, flip and cook 4-5 minutes to finish. Add to your kale salad, and voila! (If kale isn’t your favorite, arugula makes a nice alternative.)
    If you like spicy, the Crispy Harissa Chicken is for you. Marinate one pack of chicken thighs in your favorite harissa marinade (I make mine homemade with harissa pasta, spices, lots of garlic and lemon juice). To prepare, roast at 425 for roughly 35 minutes. I personally like to broil for a minute or two at the end – gives a nice crispy crunch. If you don’t have the time to make this at home, Trader Joe’s sells a relatively ‘clean’ pre-prepared version in their meat section! I serve this over crispy cauliflower rice with greens.
    Breakfast Tacos are near and dear to my heart. My favorite combo is chorizo, egg & lots of chives. I use ‘Siete’ brand cassava flour (or almond flour) tortillas, and top with some dairy free cream cheese. Add browned chorizo, a fried (pasture-raised) egg and veggie toppings. This recipe can be easily recreated into enchiladas, or even burritos. (Grain, dairy & refined sugar free!)
    You don’t have to give up good food to get healthy. I have personally found that if you learn to get creative, the opportunities are endless. You can have your cake and eat
it too.
    *These are not dietary recommendations. This is simply what has worked for me. If you’re interested in learning more about my weight loss journey, or for more recipes, email me at lisavoryeats@gmail.com.
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