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Create your perfect meal with the simple 5-step guide [Infographic]

Meal Combos limited only by your imagination

by Dean Carlson

When it comes down to it, who wants to really think about their food as "carbs, protein, and fats"? We just want great tasting food, and we want to make it as simply as possible. This guide is just what you have been looking for!

There are no secrets to getting and staying lean, feeling good, and building healthy eating habits for a lifetime. 

But there are strategies.

And maybe the most important strategy is to keep things simple. 

But don't confuse simple...with boring.

All-star chef Jennifer Nickle created this amazing tool that helps you build amazing meals that pack in maximum flavor with minimum effort.

Introducing the Perfect Meal cheat sheet.

Following the simple steps in this infographic, you'll be able to mix and match ingredients and flavors to create literally hundreds if not thousands of easy, healthy and delicious meals.

Download the infographic and print it out. Putting it in a binder keeps it handy in the kitchen and easy to carry to the grocery store. And don't be shy about passing it to your friends. Serious points!

Again, don't forget to download the PDF of this amazing "cheat sheet" so you have it handy next time you want to create the perfect meal.

Learn even more healthy eating strategies.

In ProCoach Nutrition Coaching, we give men and women just like you the strategies and support they have been missing to help them achieve their health and fitness goals. 

Over the course of 12 months, they build the skills and habits that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

One of the biggest complaints we hear about nutrition and fitness is that is just too confusing. And while it can be, once you get the personalized attention from an expert coach, the path becomes clearer and the journey easier.

3 Steps for Learning to Prep (and Love) Your Veggies [Infographic]

Sick of hearing how good vegetables are because you just don't like them? You haven't tried this!

by Dean Carlson

You know that eating plants is not only good for you, but necessary for optimal health and fitness. Yet ask how many people actually eat vegetables (more than a couple times a week) and you get crickets. Check this voodoo out. It's a 3-step formula created by some genuine ar-teeests when it comes to delicious food, James Heather and Jennifer Nickle. Resistance Is Futile!

It's no secret that just about every nutrition strategy out there, from Paleo to Vegan and everything in between has one thing in common:

Eat Your Veggies Already!​

But just because you know they are good for you it doesn't mean you are eating them, and you know what? I get it.

My recollection of veggies growing up were of soggy green beans, creamed spinach, and lima beans. (My dad loved lima beans, so mom made them. I did everything possible to avoid them, and truth be told still do.)

Part of being a human is that some memories, especially some bad ones, are really hard to get rid of. And when your whole life you had made it your mission to avoid vegetables, it's a hard habit to break.

Good News Alert

Veggies don't have to suck. True story. I used to HATE HATE HATE most vegetables. But I didn't know what I didn't know. HOW you prepare them, flavor them, and even when you eat them can turn a die-hard "vegaphobe" around.

If you are looking to improve your own veggie intake (and you know you probably should be), download the formula for your printer and stick it to your fridge for quick reference.

Again, to remind yourself to step outside your "plant-food" comfort zone, you can download this printable version of the above infographic.

Want more strategies for fine-tuning YOUR nutrition?

Diet's just don't work long term, but finding and sticking to a plan that work for you can be a lot harder than it seems.

That's why here at The Grateful Plate we work one-on-one with our coaching clients to help them find how to make eating healthy work for them and their busy lives. 

Chinese Long Green Beans

If you love garlic, these are for you. If you don't, just don't put it in there! The coconut aminos add a wonderful flavor all by themselves!

  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound green beans cut into 3 inch lengths
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon cracked pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add the green beans and stir fry until the beans are slightly softened and browned in spots. Add the water, cover, and cook over low heat until the water has evaporated and the beans are tender. Add the coconut aminos and pepper and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer to a platter and serve.

What I learned about nutrition from the Patriots big win.

One of the biggest struggles I have had, and still have with my nutrition, is "All or Nothing".

Either I am all out, 100% in. 

Or I'm not.

And while short burst of intensity can be good; a time of focus can help us get ready for that wedding we are in, or the anniversary vacation at the beach, those times should be rare. We should be using them to lose the "last 5 pounds", not try to lose 40 in 4 weeks.

The problem with intensity is that it cannot be sustained for long periods of time. You can only sprint so far before you exhaust yourself, and even more important, it breaks on this truth.

Consistency Beats Intensity.

For instance an appropriate training program 1 hour long 4 days a week is always going to achieve better results in the long run than training 4 hours 1 day a week.

"But it takes so long that way!"

Maybe. But I can't tell you how many times I went on a "strict diet", lost a few pounds, and then gained back more when I stopped.


And that's where "The Continuum" comes in. Life is not "all or nothing". Sometimes things are great, sometimes they are not. If you think about it, the only time you are not on a continuum is when you are dead - and then we don't have to worry about it anyway.  🙂

Here's what I mean:

To often we think we have to be "100%" to transform our body. But in reality, we just need to be steadily moving from left to right.

I am writing this a couple days after the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl after being down 28-3 in the third quarter.

How did they come back and win? Score a 25 point touchdown?

Not possible; so they did what they could do. Picked up a first down, then another one. They scored 3 points first, and they were happy they did. They could have been aggravated they didn't score a touchdown, but they had the long game in mind. Without those first 3 points, they would have not had an opportunity to score the next 28 and win.

Ever feel that way? Like I have to be perfect or it just doesn't count?

Next time, when you feel like you are 25 points down, and you want to give up...

Ask Yourself;

What can I do today to score the first 3 points?​

Until next time,


No Fry Chicken Wings

Just in time for the Big Game (or anytime), this wing recipe rocks!

Wing Sauce

  • 2/3 Cup Franks Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted. Whisk and enjoy!

The Little Things Mean A Lot


I am really grateful for Father’s Day this past Sunday. Had my dad over for a late lunch after church, kids made me a cool “Wallet” – “Keys” – “Phone Holder”; it was just a chill out kind of day, made a lot more special with the people I get to hang out with.

Someone reminded me yesterday how good he looks as a dad in the eyes of his kids because of his wife. I have to echo that as well. Nancy makes the world go round, and well when it comes down to it I wouldn’t even BE a dad without her! 🙂

wooden_coin_display__45143.1459358404.500.750I gave my kids a present yesterday as well, and their response made me choke up a little.

It’s a little wooden nickel that says “1 Hour of Dad Time”, to be turned in whenever they want. I gave it to them because it’s really been on my heart lately that time goes by so fast, and sometimes my priorities are not where they should be. That was confirmed by the pure look of joy on their faces and when KJ said “A whole hour? I get to choose something and you will spend a whole hour with me?”

I guess I am not in line for any “Father of the Year” awards based on the surprised reaction that from my own kids, but I can’t change yesterday, only get better today.

Who needs some more of you in their life?

It might be the best gift they have ever received.

Slow Roasted Oven Pulled Pork

Coach Dean’s Oven Roasted Pulled Pork from Dean Carlson on Vimeo.


Slow Roasted Oven Pulled Pork
Author: Coach Dean (& Amy!)
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • [b][i]Ingredients listed are per Pork Shoulder (8-10 lbs)[/i][/b][br]
  • [b]Dry Rub[/b]
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • [br]
  • [b]Brine Solution[/b]
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 3 tbsp dry rub mix
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. Combine all the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Prepare the brine solution in a large plastic bucket or container and place the pork shoulder in the bucket so it is completely immersed. If it fits in the fridge – cool! If not, put some ice or ice bags in the bucket and put in a cool place to brine overnight.
  3. In the morning, preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.
  4. Take the pork out of the brine solution and towel dry.
  5. Place the pork in a glass cooking pan, fat cap down to start, and cover with the rib on bottom and all sides. Flip it over and finish with the rub on the top. Save 2-3 tbsp of the dry rub for after cooking.
  6. Insert a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, making sure it is not touching bone.
  7. Roast the pork shoulder until the internal temperature is 200 degrees F.
  8. Turn off the oven, and with the door closed let the pork cool until the internal temperature drops back to 170 degrees.
  9. It’s time to pull! With a couple large forks shred the meat into another large container. Incorporate the remaining dry rub to taste into the pork while shredding.
Check Out The Video For A Step By Step Walk Through!


Humble and Kind

More Hugs Never Hurt!I had a late meeting Saturday night, and on the way home pushed “scan” on the car radio.

As the sounds bounced from one station to the next a tune caught my attention, and the words “always stay humble and kind” made me stop on that station and listen a bit.

Have you heard this song by Tim McGraw?

I love all kinds of music, but I don’t listen to all that much country. But this one put a bit of lump in my throat. It reminded me that life is short, that manners matter, and that we have a responsibility to not only stay humble and be kind, but encourage those coming us behind us to do the same.

I am not always humble. I think many of us have a tendency toward pride – “Look what I did” – and I am certainly no exception. But I am nothing except by the grace of God. Any intellect and abilities that I may have are gifts that I have been given and have a responsibility to use for His glory and the benefit of others.

I am not always kind. I shoot my jaw off way more than I should. I think of myself rather than others. Often the traits I don’t tolerate in my kids exist because of what they see modeled.

So maybe you think I am a sap for letting a simple country song get to me.

That’s ok, maybe I am.

But I needed the reminder.

And I am grateful I got one.

The New Proposed Food Label Will Make Your Life Easier


Because now there will be a new line that will tell us how much “ADDED SUGARS” there are in a serving.

Here’s what the proposed label looks like:


This is actually really cool, because with the current label you have to go digging through the list of ingredients to see if any sugar has been added. No more hiding!

Now you may be asking “What’s the big deal anyway? I mean there is sugar in fruit and other natural foods, right?”

That is true, but let nutritionist (and one of my mentors) Georgie Fear explain the critical difference:

“Sugar is just sugar when it comes to calories per gram. If we back up though and look at where people get their sugars from, people drinking milk and eating bananas are healthier and leaner than those whom are eating Twizzlers for the same amount of sugar. We can presume this comes from differences in appetite satisfaction between whole foods and added sugar foods, but in the long run, the FDA uses a research evidence base to back up their recommendations, as does the WHO. And the evidence shows that eating sugars found naturally in foods doesn’t correlate with or associate with the same health problems, so it’s only evidence based to limit added sugars.” – Georgie Fear, RD, CSSD

In other words while the calories in different types of sugars in different foods are no different, the health and body composition differences are worlds apart. Kudos to the FDA for helping consumers make better choices.

So what do you think, is the new label going to make it easier for you to eat healthier?

Let me know in the comments below.

Coach Dean

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