We are currently in that transition time of the seasons where some parts of the US are getting chilly and we’re ready for cozy, comforting soups, stews, and casseroles (that’s me!). Others are still enduring the 90+ degree weather and trying to not cook much inside as to keep the house cool. As such, I’d tried to vary the recipes this week to meet everyone’s culinary desires.
With everyone’s busy schedules, some planning each week will help solve the “what’s for dinner?” conundrum.
I make a loose meal plan each week for 2 reasons:
1) This gives us 4-5 meals that will also provide leftovers for lunches (healthier, saves money)
2) This plan allows us to grocery shop much less (instead of having to pick up something random everyday) and thus also saves money, time, energy, etc.
Here’s my plan for the week. For you and your gymnast, it’s really easy to modify the portions at the meal to fit your gymnasts needs. The gymnast will likely need the moderate to high intensity performance plate (more carbs), and a sedentary adult would be fine with the low intensity plate (on average, everyone is different). Download my 5-day meal guide if you haven’t and you’ll get the Performance Plates Guide and lots of other recipes for meals/snacks.
I like to make salmon at least once a week for the beneficial omega-3 fats, high quality protein, and to mix things up in terms of protein choices at meals. Check out weeks 1 and 2 for two of my favorite salmon recipes.
This recipe is on my to-make list for this week. It sounds fancy and involved, but when you get down to it the recipe shouldn’t take more than an hour or so total time. This would be considered more “cooking” than “assembling” in my book, which is something I enjoy when I have more time like on the weekends. This recipe has apple cider, cloves, and several other flavors of fall that just scream cozy fall evening. I’d serve this with a salad or some roasted green beans to “balance the plate”.
Monday- Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
I made this dish last week which was a huge hit with my family. It was a tad bit salty, so I’d reduce some of the chicken broth a bit (my favorite thing to use is Better than Bullion which allows you to control how much you make). I used the blogger’s recipe to make homemade cream of chicken soup which wasn’t difficult, but it dirtied another pan so next time I’d use a pre-made soup. I used less ham than the recipe called for, likely closer to 5-6 ounces versus 8 and it was plenty. I used leftover frozen rotisserie chicken that I keep in the freezer for quick, easy meals. I did add the frozen broccoli per the instructions half-way through cooking and that made a really great one-pan meal.
Last thing, I substituted ½ cauliflower rice for part of the regular rice and no one could tell. I did this because entire casseroles like this tend to be higher carbohydrate while appropriate for the high level gymnast with long practices or balanced with non-starchy vegetables, I wanted a one-pan meal that the entire family could enjoy. If you choose to lessen the carbohydrate this way, be sure to include additional sources for your high level gymnast (glass of milk, toasted bread, etc) to meet their needs.
Tuesday- Grilled London Broil, “Green Noodles”, and #summersalad
London Broil Marinade
- 1 bottle Italian dressing
- 1 London Broil (~1-1.5 lbs, based on family size/leftover desire-great to make quesadillas)
Place the meat in a 11×7 pan; pierce all over with a fork. Cover in Italian dressing (use entire bottle or until fully covered). Marinate all day (~6-8 hours, can go 10-12 hours). Grill per usual for London broil.
- Angel Hair Pasta (can use enriched with fiber, could also use zucchini noodles if serving another carb source at meal)Pesto (fresh, jarred, or packet)
- Shredded Parmesan cheese
#SummerSalad- savor the last of the nectarines and pair with a goat cheese or blue cheese. Be on the lookout for #autumnsalad soon!
#SummerSalad is a light-hearted hashtag I started to capture my favorite way to eat a salad. I use the following:
- mixed greens (baby lettuce, spinach, etc)
- berries/nectarines/apples (chopped/thinly sliced)
- pistachios/walnuts/almonds (I like them lightly salted or even candied…you’re not adding a ton so it’s OK if there’s a little sugar)
- blue cheese or your fave crumbled cheese like goat or feta (or shredded is fine too)
- a fruity vinaigrette like this homemade lemon strawberry- something likethis, I wing it with a lemon, some strawberries/strawberry jam, olive oil, salt/pepper, a dash of ground mustard
- other veggies as desired like cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, etc)
- avocado (depends on the salad, if available)
I like to build 1/3 to 1/2 the plate with this salad which provides COLOR (fruit/veggies w/ lots of fiber, antioxidants, etc), healthy fats, and some dairy which most all gymnasts are short on at the end of the day.
Wednesday- Baked Caprese Chicken + Zoodles + Sourdough with pesto and cheese
This recipe is on my to-make plan for this week. Quick, easy, and super flavorful.
Let’s talk carbs at meals. Traditionally, Italian dishes are served with an abundance of carbohydrate, namely pasta being the center of the meal.
This is a relatively unbalanced plate for most individuals, lacking in color (especially vegetables), and may be lower on the protein end of things depending on the dish.
For the high level athlete, half of their plate should be carbohydrate (high activity day style plate to support 4+ hour workouts or two-a-days). For gymnasts only practicing 2-3 hours a day or less intense 4 hour workouts, I’d suggest the moderate plate (1/3 plate carbs). For recreational athletes, lower level gymnasts, and us adults who may workout 30-45 minutes a day, the low activity plate (1/4 carbohydrate) would be appropriate thought for meals high in carbohydrate it would be fine to enjoy more than that.
For this dish, you have a lot of options. The recipe itself is just protein, some dairy (cheese), and a little fat/tomato, so if you use Zoodles (zucchini noodles) instead of pasta, I’d suggest serving with a delicious bread that you spread pesto and top with some more cheese. You can also cook regular pasta, ravioli, tortellini, etc…the possibilities are endless. You can enjoy both the pasta and bread at this meal, just build your plate according to you activity level and goals.
Side note- it’s also not “wrong” to enjoy an entire meal that is just pasta. For instance, if you go to a fancy Italian restaurant and order the most delicious ravioli on the menu, you’re likely to receive a large bowl filled with ravioli with some sort of sauce on top (alfredo, browned butter, etc). If you can pair a salad with this meal, great! If not feasible, do you best to listen to your body (hunger/fullness). You can always have more of the meal, go there again, etc. You do not have to eat the entire bowl, which is likely 3-4+ servings compared to what you’d plate yourself at home.
Thursday- Leftovers or Breakfast for Dinner
Use leftover London broil to make quesadillas, steak salads, etc.
Or, my favorite breakfast- Egg Sandwiches
- Whole grain English muffin (I like Thomas Multigrain or Dave’s Killer Bread for some added fiber)
- American Cheese (yes, its’ fine to use a “processed” cheese—let’s be honest, this melts better and is a classic for the egg sandwich or grilled cheese)
- Bacon or turkey sausage (I choose bacon over turkey bacon as there’s just not that big of a difference in fat content. I will go for a turkey sausage over pork as the fat is not beneficial like from foods like salmon or avocado, and pork sausage is pretty high in fat)
- Eggs (scrambled is easiest for a big group, but I like to fry mine in a nonstick pan or poach if feeling fancy)
Friday’s are traditionally pizza at our house as this was also a tradition at my house and my husband’s when we were growing up. This is not a “cheat meal” (I don’t believe in those), it’s a normal meal and I’ll serve it with a #SummerSalad to balance the plate.
Saturday- Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries
These burgers are an upgrade from normal hamburgers that can be simplified by using a pre-made spinach artichoke dip. I’d recommend adding some extra mozzarella or parmesan cheese to a pre-made dip to ensure it’s not too watery. I’d also recommend using a 93/7 ground beef, otherwise a 95/5 may be so lean that the patties won’t stay together. Sure, you could use some egg an bread crumbs to “bind” together a leaner beef, but at that point it’s about easier to use a 90/10 or 93/7.
For sweet potato fries, you can make your own by cutting up sweet potatoes, tossing in olive oil with some salt and roasting in the over or use store-bought (my favorites are Alexia and Trader Joes Sweet Potato Fries). Yes, fried potatoes are a “less nutritious” option than roasting them, but this can be considered a “fun foods” and within the 80/20 or 90/10 “guideline”. Not something to stress over, especially when building the plate with appropriate portions based on intensity of training and goals.
Grilled Asparagus- You can grill or roast these in the oven. Either way, wash the asparagus, snap the bottom end of the stalk off (the woody party), toss in some olive oil and season with a little garlic salt and pepper and grill or roast according to typical instructions. Recipes often use more olive oil than needed for grilled or roasted veggies, so just use your judgement and ensure the veggies are coated.