How are you doing with getting your water, vegetables, and exercise in?  I have really loved hearing from you so far, and I hope you’re feeling great about your own Fresh Starts!

Today, I want to tell you an ugly secret …

Blog 5.7.13 004

Last night’s dinner

Pretty ugly, huh?  Well, I’m certainly not a food photographer (although I’m going to TRY to use my DSLR as much as possible and spare you from iPhone food photos!), but even if I were … there’s really no way to make this meal pretty.

This is my absolute favorite last-minute-“I-have-no-energy-to-think-about-making-a-real-recipe-but-I-still-want-something-healthy-and-quick” meal.  And the good news is that you can customize it to fit your nutritional needs, taste preferences, and what you have in your fridge/ freezer.  It’s very healthy, and  very filling … and a great way to get in a few servings of vegetables for your Fresh Start challenge!

Here’s what I do:

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. While it’s heating up, slice whatever vegetables you have around into bite-sized pieces.  (Side note: when I’m traveling 4 days a week like usual and I arrive home late on Thursdays without time to go to the grocery store, I sometimes use frozen mixed vegetables/ spinach/ broccoli, and just microwave it instead.  Do what you gotta do!  Thankfully, I’ve been traveling a bit less the last couple of weeks, so I’ve been able to hit the Farmer’s Market and I had fresh veggies on hand for last night’s dinner.)

tomato sauce 001

Tomato sauce … contains natural sugars from the tomatoes, but no added sugar in the ingredients!

3. Spray a foil-lined baking pan with cooking spray or olive oil (a Misto is a great tool for this!).  Spread on your chopped vegetables and a source of lean protein.  (Last night, I used a Boca Vegan Veggie burger – made with non-GMO soy.  In a perfect world, would I avoid processed products like this?  Yes.  Is this a perfect world?  Not yet :).  Feel free to layer some tofu on the baking pan with your veggies, or add in grilled or baked chicken/ fish/ shrimp, a serving of canned beans, or even a scrambled egg or two, after baking).  Give everything another spray (on top of the veggies), and season with salt and pepper, or the spices of your choice.

4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is and how full your pan is.  The veggies should be slightly browned (I like mine just a little crispy).

5. Put everything into a big bowl, add some tomato sauce (I look for the canned kind with no added sugar, and get low-sodium and/ or organic if it’s available), and sprinkle on some shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese.  Then mix everything up and dive in.  I promise, it’s delicious!

The separated ingredients

The separated ingredients

You can see it all laid out here … I used broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli slaw (almost looks like pasta if you want to think of this as one big Italian pasta bowl!), baby Portobellos, and a kale/ leek mix (sauteed separately since I had time).  Veggie burger in the middle!  This was clearly before the tomato sauce and Parmesan … don’t forget that part!

In case you’re wondering, I don’t plan to post every single day, just because I don’t think it will be feasible with my real-world job.  This week, though, I got an unplanned (but very welcome!) break, as our clients are pausing work for a week … which corresponded perfectly with my sister-in-law’s wedding in San Diego!  I leave tomorrow, and couldn’t be more excited!

Looking sweaty and paranoid in the locker room

Looking sweaty and paranoid in the locker room

Back at home

Back at home

Because I’ll be by the beach in San Diego and will NOT want to miss any running days while I’m there, I took my usual Friday day-off of running today, and went to a spin class instead.  Also hoping to get a little yoga in before dinner tonight!  I’m still getting used to the whole “selfie photos in public places” thing, and I was paranoid that someone in the locker room would walk by naked and think I was taking a picture of them!!  So I took one afterwards at home, just in case!  Here’s to posting sweaty, gross pictures of yourself on the internet for all the world to see :).

Tell me in the comments … do you have any ugly (dinner) secrets?  How are you doing with your water, veggies, and exercise?

(By the way, I do realize that the set up is a bit wonky here … I’m trying to get the “Blog” page to actually show my posts, and then have the front page be a summary of the posts.  Bear with me … the least technical person ever (me) learning code is a scary thing!)

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9 Comments

  1. Karen on May 7, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    FYI – I made your Asparagus Leek Soup recipe and it was delicious. Thx.
    It was green soup, but not ugly. 🙂

  2. betsyhart05 on May 7, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    Hi Megan! So, my roasted brussel sprouts are pretty ugly but so good.This is going to sound pretty hippie-dippy but my acupuncturist recommended recently that I try going Paleo to reduce inflammation. I’m not 100% but I do feel better (and so do my sinuses) on the days when I stick to it. But, it’s tough not liking salads and trying to do Paleo. To overcome this, I roast lots of brussel sprouts on Sundays just to have all week as a salad base. Even though I do them in big batches, I usually put them in smaller containers so that if I’m packing a lunch it’s quick to just grab. Or, if I come home starving I can grab a one container and eat it quickly, then I can more rationally figure out what I want to do for dinner. It’s embarrassing sometimes to eat them in public. But, then I remember that eating a big bowl of brussel sprouts, while smelly, is as arbitrary as eating a big bowl full of spinach or lettuce. For someone like me that really does not like salad, roasting brussel sprouts is a way to get the benefits of having a salad for lunch without having to plug my nose and choke down stuff I don’t like!

    • Megan Lyons on May 8, 2013 at 12:21 am

      Betsy, thanks so much for sharing! I’m glad that Paleo is working for you! I’ve tried it, but not for an extended period of time – it seemed a bit restrictive for me personally. I’ve heard some people who have had amazing results (and others who it just didn’t work for). I really believe that it’s an individual thing, and I’m glad you’ve found what’s right for you. The Brussels sprouts “salad” base is a great idea!!! I LOVE roasted Brussels sprouts – anyone who says they hate Brussels sprouts hasn’t tried them roasted :). And if anyone thinks you’re strange for eating them in public, just be proud of yourself for being so healthy (anyone who matters doesn’t mind, and anyone who minds doesn’t matter!). Many times you’re even rubbing off your good habits on them!

      Other Paleo snack ideas you could try … fruit + single serving packs of almond butter (Justin’s makes some good ones), LARABARS (I believe almost all are Paleo, but double check), cucumbers + sea salt, cut up bell peppers/ celery/ carrots/ snap peas, and here’s a crazy one for you … Tanka bars. I really don’t like jerky in general, but these are actually pretty good every once in a while and are very natural! Keep me posted on how things are going for you!!

      • betsyhart05 on May 9, 2013 at 11:41 pm

        yum! I’m going to try the cucumbers and sea salt! but, I don’t actually know if Paleo is “working” for me though. Jury’s still out. Substituting a few servings of carbs with greens doesn’t hurt though.

        And, Tanka bars are made on American Indian reservation near my home town! I think it’s amazing that people outside of South Dakota know about them!

  3. Katie on May 8, 2013 at 1:10 am

    That dinner doesn’t look ugly, it looks yummy!! Maybe cause I am vegetarian 🙂 And what’s this about asparagus leek soup? That sounds yummy…but I don’t have a fancy soup maker like Karen does 🙁

    • Megan Lyons on May 8, 2013 at 8:21 am

      I’ll send you the recipe, Katie – it’s super easy, and you don’t need a “fancy soup maker”, just a blender!

  4. […] add spinach to my green smoothies, egg scrambles, veggie stir-frys, homemade soups, and my favorite Ugly Secret meal.  Recently, I’ve been loving this “power greens” mixture of spinach, kale, […]

  5. […] to when I have no other plans, the first two things that come to mind are my favorite breakfast and my Ugly Secret (both of which I’ve eaten in the past 24 hours!).  My breakfast has carbohydrates (pumpkin, […]

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