Editors Note: Rachel Mac is a commercial litigator in Chicago, Illinois, who lives a healthy lifestyle despite often spending 12+ hours per day in the office. She has come up with a low-maintenance healthy lifestyle that allows her to eat well and hit the gym regularly, with a schedule that’s anything but consistent. Quest is happy to welcome Rachel Mac to our blog, where she will be a regular contributor. Find Rachel on Facebook and on Twitter–and add her as a friend!
If you’ve read the three-part blog about my transformation, you already know that I exchanged a series of unhealthy habits for good ones and transformed my body–and my life–in the process. Two of the most important changes I made were switching from eating out to cooking at home, and focusing on eating more protein and fewer carbs. I’ve learned a lot about cooking–I started out knowing almost nothing!–and I’ve changed my approach to my diet a number of times, but these two rules remain.
When people ask me what I eat, I can sum it all up in four words: more protein, fewer carbs. Nearly everything I eat is cooked by me, for me, so I am able to eat healthy food all the time. But friends, family and Facebookers wanted more specifics. Although no two days are the same, here is a sampling of a normal day.
Breakfast: batch-cooked “Mac Muffins”
Breakfast is the best time of day to get in a ton of protein and set yourself up to be full and focused at work, school, or on the go. It’s often hard to find time to prepare food, then sit down and eat in the frantic rush to get out the door. I stumbled upon a great idea out of pure laziness: batch-cooking breakfast. Thus I created Mac Muffins (named after me, and because they taste a lot like McDonald’s popular breakfast treat).
Ingredients (makes four servings):
24 egg whites
1 c. dry oats (rolled oats, old fashioned oats, plain Quaker oats, or quick oats will do)
12 slices 97% fat free canadian bacon
The name of the game here is layering. Read on and see 🙂 Spray an 8×8 square pan with Pam or any other nonstick spray, and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1/4 of the egg whites (6 whites, or their equivalent from a carton) and place one layer of canadian bacon at the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle about 1/4 of the oats (so, 1/4 c.), and put this mixture in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and add another layer of egg whites, then 1/4 c. oats, then a layer of canadian bacon, then another 1/4 c. oats. Repeat this until you’ve used all your egg whites, oats, and canadian bacon, cooking each layer until it is no longer wet in the middle. When it’s done, cut it in four pieces and store them in the fridge.
I re-heat these to take on the go by placing them in the oven at 350* on a piece of tin foil for about 15 minutes. When I’m ready to leave the house, I take it out of the oven, sprinkle a little sea salt on top, and wrap it up in the foil to take it to go! Another option for re-heating is to place a piece of cheddar cheese on top (or even in the middle, like a sandwich!). Yum!
Macro Breakdown: 200 calories, 2g fat, 13.5g carbs, and a whopping 30g protein to keep you full all morning.
Between breakfast and lunch, I like a protein-packed snack to keep me full and functioning. Cottage cheese is great, but I’m not a big fan of the taste. So I add 2 Tbsp almond butter, 1 packet of Truvia and 2 tsp cinnamon–which has the added benefit of reducing my blood sugar after I eat it!–and pop it in the freezer for about 20 minutes before I eat it. I call it healthy ice cream.
Macro Breakdown 357 calories, 21g carbs, 17g fat, 35g protein.
Lunch: buffalo chicken salad with asparagus
1 Can chicken
2oz Fat Freek Greek Yogurt
2Tbsp Hot Sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot)
Canned chicken is the best time-saving food I know of. It’s fully cooked chicken breast in water, similar to canned tuna.
Rinse and drain the chicken; I use 5 oz of chicken (two 9.75oz cans make about three servings for me–don’t ask me about that math!)
Add two ounces of Fage 0% fat greek yogurt and 2 Tbsp Frank’s Red Hot sauce, stir it up.
It would also be delicious with chopped onion and jalapeno mixed in. Add 1 slice Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain bread and serve with veggies on the side.
Macro Breakdown 295 cal, 23g carbs, 3g fat, 45g protein.
Mid Afternoon Snack:
Vanilla Almond Crunch Quest Bar, of course!
Macro Breakdown 230 cals, 19g carbs, 12g fat, 20g protein.
Dinner: Grilled sirloin with blue cheese sauce, balsamic-vanilla asparagus and sauteed spinach
5oz Sirloin Steak
2oz Frat Free Greek Yogurt
2Tbsp Flax Seeds
2 Tbsp Blue Cheese Dressing Mix
Whenever I get the chance and get home from work early enough, I like to try out new ideas in the kitchen for dinner and eat my food freshly cooked. Sirloin steak is relatively lean and very easy to cook.
Place it in a frying pan over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, flip it once, and remove it from the heat when it’s just a bit pink in the middle.
Place the asparagus on a baking sheet in the oven and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and just a touch of vanilla extract.
When the steak is done, cook the spinach in the same pan the steak was in.
To make the blue cheese dressing, combine Fage 0% fat greek yogurt with 2 Tbsp flaxseeds and 2 Tbsp blue cheese dressing mix (I buy mine from my favorite Chicago store, The Spice House www.thespicehouse.com, which ships its delicious spice blends around the country!)
Dessert: Zucchini apple sauce
What’s dinner without dessert? But living on a reduced-carb diet eliminates most traditional desserts, so I had to re-think things! I’d heard that if you boil zucchini in lemon juice, it tastes like apples, so I thought this would be a great way to make apple sauce.
Boil 4 baby zucchini (cut into 8ths) in a 50/50 mix of fresh lemon juice and water for about 8 minutes.
Drain the lemon water off, returned the zucchini to the pan, and blend it with an immersion blender.
Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 2 packets Truvia, and a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon (apple pie spice works, too, as an alternative to cinnamon), and chill.
It may sound crazy, but it’s delicious!
Dinner & Dessert Macro Breakdown: 465 cals, 25g carbs, 16g fat, 58g protein.
1550 calories, 100g carbs, 50g fat, 190g protein.
And how do I prepare all of my food each day in spite of working long hours at a stressful job? You’ll have to stay tuned for my next blog, where I’ll detail how I shop, cook, prep, and pack my food to prepare for the work week.