How to balance meals with your macros

Golly I get SICK of food sometimes, don’t you? Just the THOUGHT of eating… makes me tired. That’s what can get to some people’s heads. The constant thought of eating, dieting, cooking, storing, grocery shopping can create challenge, overwhelm and disgust for many. What can we do?

Make meal prep FUN again!

Obviously, it is not always going to be fun. If you have a specific dietary need, a very specific goal in mind (aka a bodybuilding show prep or specific illness) or other circumstance that prohibits food options, it can be monotonous. But, if you are thinking of a healthy lifestyle to LIVE BY, this is for you!

Strong Sweet Caroline - balancing meals with macros

Life Balance through Food

I’m sure you might be thinking, well what does this have to do with life balance? A lot.

First, food is something as humans, we revolved our lives around it. Honestly, who doesn’t go to a coffee shop or restaurant to MEET with someone? To GATHER? To collaborate, laugh and enjoy one another’s company? Everyone does! The meal below was from my recent meeting with a client I do some freelance writing with. Although I did not cook this myself, I have learned how to balance most of my own meal prep with foods I also will be eating out with a group.

Second, because food is so prevalent in our society, it is easy to fall into eating something out of habit or because it’s available. If you see it, odds are, you will crave it or eat it. That is why in an office or local gathering place where food is visible and accessible, it makes it tough to overcome temptations. Who wouldn’t want to grab a cookie or slice of cake if it is just sitting there, calling your name? That is where create this “lifestyle” comes into play.

Third, if you are following specific health goals or dietary needs, sometimes you feel pigeon-holed to specific foods and specific places. With the expansion of social media and the Internet, there are WAY more options to get ingredients from local grocery stores or health stores! But the best thing you can do is start to experiment with different foods to see how your body responds. I know right now, I can’t go near avocado because my skin breaks out in about an hour of eating it! I know, sad day. That little green fruit is one of my favorites! That’s why becoming aware of foods and your body’s response is helpful. But, let’s get into macronutrients and making meal prep FUN!

What are macronutrients

Food is made up of and starts with calories. The production of energy is a calorie. Each food differs in calories, based on its ingredient and chemical make-up. The large building blocks are macronutrients and micronutrients. We will focus on macronutrients.

The three macronutrients are proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Each of these equates the following calories per gram:

Strong Sweet Caroline macros-breakdown

Macronutrient Calories per gram: Protein 4 – Carbohydrate (carb) 4 – Fat 9

When beginning to learn about food, knowing these three macronutrients (aka macros) is the simple way to understand what you are eating and how to meal prep balanced meals.

Today’s nutrition labels have been used for over 20 years. The Food and Drug Administration recently redesigned the label to make it clearer on what is in your foods from a macronutrient level. This can also help you identify the correct serving size for each meal. Understanding what makes up different foods, whether processed and prepackaged or whole ingredients, will allow you to better prepare meals for you and your loved ones. As you learn more about your own personal goals and health, you can adjust your daily food intake and macronutrients.

Take your macros to the meals

Once you start to learn about macros, you can transform your daily eating. Take a look at the labels on foods, research on the Internet for standard serving sizes for foods and see what each one equals.

I work with a coach who prescribes my macro goals for the day. Depending on your goal of weight loss, weight gain, body composition change or macro maintenance, the calculation is a bit different. One free calculator I recommend is from the website, “If It Fits Your Macros“.

Take your goals or your meal plan and analyze the different proteins, carbs and fats for each food. Once you have those down, you can begin to explore new foods! One of my meals I made was mashed potatoes using almond milk, dill, sea salt and black pepper, green beans, and some “chicken tenders” using egg whites, flour, spices, salt and pepper, sprouted grain bread and cooked in my air fryer.

Strong Sweet Caroline Macros and Meal Prep

Use an app to help you learn at the speed of your finger tips! I like MyFitnessPal for a free option. One that has a few more offerings is MyMacros+ and you can put in your specific meals, create recipes (that’s how I know all the macros of my healthy baked goods), water intake and more!

Real Life

I eat the same meals 90% of the time. The other 10%, I add some type of variation in the protein source, vegetable or carbohydrate. That’s just what works for ME. And I don’t prefer to eat out, I like to cook myself. Right now, I’m eating chocolate DAILY. Mind you, it is between 70-85% dark cacao, organic chocolate. Not a cheap food! But I’m embracing the change.

This also gives me some flexibility to bake some healthy treats from my Healthy Desserts Ebook! Special holiday offer, get it for $12! Send me an email at strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com if interested.

Strong Sweet Caroline 50 Healthy Dessert Recipes Ebook

My meals did not used to be that way. But through learning and time, I know that my body can digest it and my mind and body benefit. This is what works for me right now. It could change within the next year. Only time will tell! But for me and others who learn tracking macros and flexible meal prep, it creates much more balance in life.

One of my meal prep clients texted me the other day to thank me.

Just wanted to say, you have really had a great impact on my eating. Better choices.

Julie

She worked with me for about 6 months and I was able to help her understand different foods to swap and eat that could benefit her body. These are just small steps for someone wanting to make a lifestyle change. She does count her macros with an app, but is now learning outside of the app with her own recipes and home cooking.

Use the above to guide your fun, healthy meal prep! Let me know how else I can help. 

New Healthy Dessert Ebook!

Guess WHAT?!?! It’s been a few months coming and it is finally DONE.

 

I have published my first healthy dessert ebook! Over the past four years, I have been trying and practicing various baked good recipes. Some I figured out on my own with just one or two tries. Others it was… a process to say the least! Many did not make the cut. But, that just leaves room for continued improvement later on.

Strong Sweet Caroline 50 Healthy Dessert Recipes Ebook

I want you to check out these first 50 recipes I have shared. There is quite a variety from

…chocolate chia cookies

…brownie cookie dough cake

…whole wheat pie crust

…donuts

…protein puppy chow

…lemon bars

and so much more! Some are vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, nut free, dairy free, lower sugar and higher protein!

Valued at $29.99, the ebook will launch for a special discounted price of $14!

Click this button to order today. Let’s bake healthy together!
 

3 fresh flavors you’ll love this spring

If you are like me, you are mind boggled by how quickly this year is going! It seems like yesterday I was bundled up in sweatshirts and hoodies and now it is shorts and tank top weather.

Maybe I’m just fortunate I’m no longer in the cold spring weather Ohio typically shows. Atlanta has blessed us with a wonderful spring so far. Beside the normal working and training, I have gotten outside more to play some pick up soccer, explore some parks and enjoy nature. Additionally, I open up the windows and start baking and experimenting with some new recipes.

What am I cooking up lately? A lot of meals for Meals Beyond Athletes, but more importantly, I’ve made more time to experiment new healthy recipes and baked goods.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to lose track of your daily enjoyments when you are caught up in the daily whirlwind?

I know that if I am not intentional about every priority, every action I take, I can get swept up by other people and their needs over mine. It can be difficult but setting boundaries can be one of the most beneficial ways to overcome this. I even have to do this to read and write each day. BUT, I LOVE IT and it COMPLETES ME!

So, why wouldn’t you?

To make this spring even better as you allot time for you and your daily enjoyments, I have three flavors I’ve been LOVING this spring. Whether it is for specific recipes, daily health or personal indulgence, check out these three and let me know what you think.

3 fresh flavors to try this spring by Strong Sweet Caroline

Read more

Obstacles bring you options and an Enlightened cookie shake recipe

Have you ever felt a moment where you just keep hitting obstacles? That’s been me the past week. From cooking snafus and burning myself to discovering new business needs on permits and finances, it’s been eventful. And I’ve struggled to keep my head above water, physically and emotionally.

I’ve been told this is the beginning of entrepreneurship. Just try and hold on to your seat!

The kitchen is usually my release. It allows my creative mind to work, try new flavors, make foods not only taste good, but look good too. I’ve lost some of that recently with trying to learn new recipes, stay up to date with food safety protocols and cook for clients [and then finally for myself].

Luckily for me, I have managed to keep my head down and continue the grind. What happens when you see an obstacle?

We have fight or flight responses. Our adrenaline kicks in. These are the breaking points we need to beat the plateaus and grow.

This week, I’ve come to realize that obstacles bring you options. You will have more than you can handle at some moments. Ultimately, that gives you the option to more clearly define goals, purpose and action steps as well as see new options you would have never imagined!

The other day, I was feeling like baking and made these delicious protein pumpkin peanut butter cookies.

Strong Sweet Caroline: Enlightened cookie shake recipe

The recipe, taste and consistency were perfect.

I then thought, “what if I added these cookies with some Enlightened Ice Cream for a preworkout shake?

Strong Sweet Caroline: Enlightened cookie shake recipe

Magic. I love all their flavors but for some reason, cold brew coffee and pumpkin peanut butter cookies sounded good and it did not disappoint!

The only thing missing was someone to share them with. David was out of town and I would not be seeing anyone for a few days. That’s when it occurred to me that I am sharing.

As those who have followed for a while might know, I love goal setting, reflection and am very futuristic. I am in the midst of setting my 2018 goals (they are not resolutions because mine continue to evolve). One new goal is that for January, I plan to release my first e-book! This one is a dessert e-cookbook and will feature 50 delicious, tested and proven clean treats you and your loved ones will enjoy.

I am also preparing a 1-month challenge contest based around one of my favorite topics: meal prepping! I’ve had many people reach out about how-to’s, tips, recipes and staying committed to healthier food selections. This will touch on all of those and more and I will present an award to a winner at the end of the month!

Stay tuned for updates on both projects, as well as Meals Beyond Athletes. It’s amazing how when you put your mind to it, you can turn like the flip of a switch to overcome those obstacles and discover new options.

For those seeking a new option for a sweet indulgent but healthier, high protein shake, try the recipe below.

I hope you’ll join me in this excitement because I know the next few months will be full of MANY obstacles turning into options! Never take for granted the blessings and gifts right in front of us. I’m thankful for all of you followers and encourage you to share this message with a friend who it would resonate.

Make it a great day and take time to choose your options!

Strong Sweet Caroline

Strong Sweet Caroline: Enlightened cookie shake recipe


Enlightened Cookie Shake

Serves one, because it’s too good to share. Unless you double the recipe.

Macros: 238 calories, 29g protein, 21 carbs, 4g fat, 4g sugar

Ingredients

  • 1/2 scoop True Nutrition custom whey protein in Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor
  • 1/2 c Enlightened Ice Cream in Cold Brew flavor (discount “STRONGSWEET20” for broad bean crisps ordered online)
  • ~1/3-1/2 c unsweetened Almond Breeze Almond Milk
  • 1 Protein Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cookie by me 🙂 – replace with cookie of choice

Process

  • In food process or blender, combine ice cream, almond milk, whey protein, and half of your protein cookie.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Pour into glass and top with other half of your cookie.
  • Indulge without guilt. 🙂

Quality cooking time and spaghetti squash DIY video

How do you define quality time spent with loved ones? Is it that you run errands and go shopping together? Do you watch the same television show? Host parties and get-together’s? Since David and I have been dating, we have shared a bond over quality cooking time.

As bodybuilders, yes, we eat a lot. Yes, we spend more time in the kitchen than the average couple. However, we also make time for quality cooking time.

What I mean by that is, we commit to usually once per week where we will cook one nice meal together. None of the recipe will have already been “meal prepped” for the week. It will start from scratch, beginning to end.

What works for us is assigning specific parts of the meal each of us will prepare. Since I cook 99% of David’s meals while he is gone for work, he usually takes charge of the protein. He has also become quite fond of our new cast-iron skillet, which somehow, I STILL have not had the pleasure to try!

But, nonetheless, David works the oven and I will gather up vegetables, side dishes and, my specialty–desserts.

The meal we prepared a few weeks ago was homemade Greek flatbread pizzas.

Strong Sweet Caroline | Homemade Greek Flatbreads and Vlog

We used Naan flatbreads, fat free Balsamic dressing, fat free feta cheese, shrimp, chicken (which was precooked), spinach, onions, garlic, peppers and dry spices. In about 45 minutes, the meal was made.

Strong Sweet Caroline | Homemade Greek Flatbreads and VlogStrong Sweet Caroline | Homemade Greek Flatbreads and Vlog

Dessert consisted of our favorite, Enlightened Ice Cream. If y’all have not tried it, it is a competitor to Halo Top. And in my opinion, way better. More creamy and satisfying flavors.

This week, while David’s been gone for work and I’ve been working my jobs and checking off priorities for launching my company, it dawned on me. We are the lucky ones.

Why is that? Because after dating for 10 months, both 25 years young, we understand and prioritize “quality time” with loved ones. I’d say that is pretty uncommon, wouldn’t you?

David and I are putting together a series of weekend videos. The latest shows some of our shenanigans with me cooking spaghetti squash, his breakfast routine and some farmer’s market fun.

How will you make the most of quality time? Do share in the comments, subscribe and follow our adventures!

 

– Strong Sweet Caroline

Building big dreams & cooking low calorie zucchini fritters

Do you ever have those times you need to stop, take a deep breath and reset? I do. Recently, I’ve been busting my butt to organize my thoughts, business plan, work two part-time jobs and just like many of you, trying to find a way to “balance” it all with a healthy relationship, friendships and family.

I have some information to share. I’m no longer striving for balance. I am building big dreams. I heard an interview with Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi and a quote he shared I am taking hold for my own life.

work-life integration

 

As I build my dream, each day blends into one another. Therefore, I must be intentional with my time, gratitude and daily reflections. If not, I will succumb to my old self who was constantly chasing a balance instead of integrating the things I love into one life.

Well, folks, it’s happening. And I’m so blessed to share my story! My good friend Amanda Jae Spoo recently featured me in her blog. Visit it here and watch the YouTube video I compile to change up her format and push her outside her comfort zone a bit. 🙂

Additionally, this week has been killer with many things accomplished, new recipes attempted and most were successful! This one I shared on Instagram story and had many requests for the recipe. So here we go. Allow me to introduce: Zucchini Asparagus Fritters!

Strong Sweet Caroline zucchini asparagus fritter recipe

Per usual, I found a few different recipes via Pinterest, and modified to my liking. I knew I had to use a touch of oil for them to get slightly crispy on the edges. Well, when you are using eggs and egg whites as your base, it will be more difficult to keep that crisp. Fresh off the pan, they are fabulous! Full of flavor, not too overpowered by garlic or onion and just enough spice to keep it interesting. Can keep for a few days stored in the refrigerator. I recommend reheated after storing in the refrigerator or they might seem a bit soggy.

Strong Sweet Caroline Zucchini fritters

I chose to pair two fritters with a bed of romaine lettuce, homemade beef meatballs, one whole egg and sunflower seeds. This was my last meal of the day, which I typically have the mostly proteins and fats. It keeps me fuller longer so I do not get hungry in the middle of the night. No need for carbohydrates because let’s face it, it would be useless for sleeping.

Strong Sweet Caroline fritters with meal

I’ve been experimenting more with seeds and different nuts. I grew up eating sunflower seeds and got away from it until recently. Can be unsalted, salted, flavored and used in a variety of ways. They have SO MANY health benefits! The biggest one for me right now is increasing my Vitamin E daily intake. I’m working to strengthen my hair and skin and reel in some of those not so fun PMS symptoms.


Strong Sweet Caroline Zucchini Asparagus Fritters

Servings: 6 total fritters, 2 per serving

Macros per serving: 100 calories | 6g protein | 5g carbs | 6.5g fats

Ingredients

  • 1 cup finely chopped or grated zucchini squash
  • 6 cooked asparagus spears, cut
  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour (or flour of choice)
  • 3 Tbsp egg whites (equal to one whole egg white)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp Hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp each or other desired spices: paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, sea salt

Procedure

  • In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine zucchini, asparagus, egg, egg whites, hot sauce and spices.
  • In a frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil.
  • Add the flour to the mixture. You may desire more flour for a firmer fritter. I did not just for trying it out with less ingredients.
  • Use a ladle or spoon to pour mixture into circles onto hot oil.
  • Cook for about 3 minutes on first side or until you can start to see the egg cooked through.
  • Flip and cook other side for approximately 3-5 minutes and remove.
  • Enjoy on their own or with a meal!