The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.
People often ask me what I eat in a day. They want to know every detail so they can copy it for themselves. After all, if it works for me, surely it will work for them. Not to mention it takes the guesswork out of meal planning.
It sounds good in theory, doesn’t it? The problem is, mimicking my meals may unintentionally set you up for failure. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, food preferences are highly individualized. If you don’t share my love of tempeh and green smoothies, you’ll be miserable on my plan and won’t stick with it.
Second, I didn’t start out loving tempeh and green smoothies, and I suspect the same is true for you. Back in the day, low-fat Twinkies and Ramen noodle soup were my dietary staples. The only “vegetables” I ate were the sorry, dehydrated clumps of peas and carrots floating in the cup of Ramen.
Improving your nutrition takes time and patience. You must meet yourself right where you’re at and give your tastebuds a chance to adapt to new foods! I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: your body craves what you feed it most. So, if you eat Twinkies and Ramen on a regular basis, your body will demand highly processed foods loaded with salt and sugar, and the mere thought of eating a Brussels sprout will likely make you gag.
But when you take it slow and practice consistency, you’ll notice a gradual shift in your tastebuds. It won’t be long before you’re craving vegetables every day. Why? Because you are eating them every day.
With this in mind, I’d like to share a typical day of meals with you. Not for copying, but to show you what’s possible. Remember, I didn’t go from Twinkies to tempeh overnight!
Mel’s Satisfying Superfood Breakfast
My staple breakfast is a hot bowl of Superfood Flax Meal cereal. It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats from chia seeds and ground flax seeds, to which I add a scoop of plant-based protein powder for extra staying power. I top it with a small handful of walnuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, diced apple and a teaspoon of extra chia seeds for a little crunch. I love this meal because it’s travel friendly, can be made in advance and, most of all, it keeps me satisfied until lunch without needing a snack in between.
Mel’s Energizing “Eat-the-Rainbow” Lunch
Smoothies are the easiest way for me to eat a rainbow of fresh produce. My smoothie recipe has definitely evolved over the years as my taste buds shift. I can remember a time when it was little better than a fast-food milkshake! Today, I start with a base of unsweetened almond milk, add a couple handfuls of greens, a little avocado, fresh beets, lemon slices, a cube of Wow wheat grass (found in Heinen’s Frozen Department), a spoonful of unsweetened Forager yogurt, a scoop of plant-based protein powder and a hunk of fresh turmeric and ginger.
If this sounds too “Navy Seal” to you, no sweat! Give this basic PB&J Smoothie or Clean Green Smoothie a shot instead. Or build your own smoothie by blending together these 6 Ingredients Every Healthy Smoothie Needs. Because I like to chew my food, I always serve my smoothie with raw vegetables and a side of Heinen’s tahini for dipping.
Mel’s Dinner Salad Done Right
My salads are nothing like those boring, run-of-the-mill garden salads you get at restaurants. Instead, they’re bold, filling, colorful, bursting with taste and overflowing with nutrition. I start by layering my plate with an assortment of leafy greens, usually Buckeye Fresh romaine lettuce and Heinen’s arugula. Then, I add a nice serving of roasted vegetables (think broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and sometimes sweet potatoes). My protein is either a piece of pan-seared Verlasso salmon or an Actual Veggies veggie burger. I top it with a small handful of broccoli sprouts, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, a drizzle of Heinen’s extra virgin olive oil and a crank or two of pink Himalayan salt. To create your own satisfying dinner salad, check out this post on How to Build a Better Salad. I promise, you won’t go hungry!
Mel’s Smart Snacks
Because my meals are so satisfying, I rarely require a snack. But, if I get hungry between meals I reach for a Raw Rev Glo bar, a homemade Spirulina Energy Ball or a few Flacker’s crackers spread with Miyoko’s plant-based cashew cheese.
We are all works in progress, and that is such a beautiful thing because it means we never stop growing. Strive not for perfection, but progress. The goal is to be a little better than we were yesterday. Not perfect, but better.