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. 

Sausage, Sweet Potato & Veggie Skillet

Rockstar Doreen shared this new breakfast hash recipe with me, and let me tell you - it is great! You will love it. It's easy to make, super filling and great for any meal or leftovers. I topped it with eggs for breakfast.

Sausage, Sweet Potato & Veggie Skillet

  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons cooking fat
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Dash red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and toss sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon cooking fat, sea salt and pepper. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the potatoes and Brussels sprouts out evenly.

Bake sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, or until potatoes and sprouts are soft and browning.

While potatoes and sprouts are baking, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add remaining cooking fat. Add the onions and stir, cooking until translucent and soft, then add garlic and red pepper and sprinkle with salt. Remove from pan.

Add sausage to the skillet and cook until brown and crisp, then remove from heat. Combine onions, peppers and sausage back into the skillet, sprinkle with crushed red pepper and stir. Cook until everything is heated through again.

Remove potatoes and sprouts from onion and combine with sausage mixture to serve. It goes great with fried eggs too! Save leftovers and reheat in oven, microwave or skillet.

Write Your Own Food Story

I was challenged by my nutrition coach to make a food time line.

Yes, I have a coach to help me. Would you want it any other way?

But back to my assignment, I created a visual time line. It took me from my earliest memories to the present time. As I traveled this path, I noticed a few things but I’ll let you look at my time line and then I’ll tell you my discoveries.

As you traveled down my food path with me from earliest memories to present time, what did you notice? You see, I can remember all the wonderful memories of family and of the foods I ate while growing up. From fighting over maple and brown sugar oatmeal with my brothers, to enjoying making potatoes from a box for my mom. Through my teen years of Little Debbies to working at Dominos Pizza. I started to really learn to cook after getting married. Once Dean decided to change his health by changing his nutrition, you can see how real foods and loads of color were added to our meals.

For me, I see the color in my meals in my early twenties came from the packaging my meal was wrapped in while now it comes from the actual food.

I want to challenge you to do this experiment. It brings up loads of great memories and some not so wonderful ones. But the visual impact this exercise had for me shows me I am on the right path, but that path is still changing.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Don’t Be on the Donut Diet

The "Donut Diet" requires you to have donuts on hand - makes sense, right?

(P.S. Don't be on the Donut Diet)

I want to get down to brass tacks. Because diets don't work, period.

The very word itself lends itself to a temporary fix rather than a permanent change.

It’s one of the reasons I don’t just hand you a menu plan and say “eat that”. What happens when you reach the end of the plan, or the one we gave you doesn’t work for you?

You go back to your default eating, which is what got you where you were in the first place. And that just doesn’t make sense.

Short term thinking rarely leads to long term success. When we focus on the “outcome” rather than the behaviors, we set ourselves up for failure.

Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds in the next 2 months. Your whole focus is on that 10 pounds, and at the end of the 8 weeks you weigh yourself and you lost 8½ pounds. Your mind immediately focuses on the 1½ pounds you didn’t lose. I have seen it over and over again. You were wildly successful, and yet somehow you still are disappointed.

So how do we stop that?

We create and track measurable behaviors (or habits) that are supportive of our long term goals. The habit is something I can control and measure. If the habit I am developing is to eat breakfast every day, I either did it or I didn’t. When I do it consistently I know it will positively affect my desired outcome

Many of you struggle the most with planning. It was by far the biggest factor to derail you the quickest from your goals.

So let's hear what you found planning does for you:

Scott said "Planning helps you to shop more efficiently and you don't end up buying stuff you don't need (or is unhealthy for you!)"

Rebecca said, "This has helped me budget and eat better!"

According to Stephanie, "This helps me stay more true to my nutritional (fat loss) goals when I plan."

Deb said, "It will definitely help me to stay on track the whole week."

Stacey found, "Now I'm much better prepared, feel less anxiety over 'what's for dinner' and have started making a larger variety of healthy dinner choices."

The list goes on to include Mary, "It will help me to stay on track, and I won't be inclined to 'just pick something up'."

Melissa said, "it will keep me from running to the store and just grabbing something that probably wouldn't be good for me."

I could go on and on. My point is that planning meals for the week will:

  • Save time at the store and at mealtime
  • Save you money
  • Mean less stress
  • Equal a happier family - they know what the plan is and for some families they get to help with the planning
  • Provide you with healthier meals
  • Make life easier for you
  • Keep you off the donut diet 🙂

You will not have to think on the fly. Check out these tips to planning your first week of meals.

So saving time, saving money, saving your sanity, and making the whole family happy all with a little well spent time at the beginning of each week.

And you? Do you want any of these things to come to you?

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Healthy Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

This is a hit at my house with my kids and it’s also a hit for me as it’s so quick to prepare. In fact, I prepare it the night before, and then pull the crockpot out of the refrigerator at 4:30am. Its ready to eat when I am. It’s a great medley of sweet potatoes, scrambled eggs, veggies, and bacon – all in one.

Healthy Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

by Coach Nancy

  • 12 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 30-ounce bag sweet potato cubes (or fresh sweet potato cubes cut in chunks)
  • 4 slices cooked bacon
  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 1 small head broccoli, roughly chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, mustard, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Lightly grease the bottom of the crockpot. Place half the potatoes on the bottom. Layer with half the bacon, onion, bell peppers, and broccoli. Add the other half of the potatoes, then top with the rest of the veggies. Pour the egg mixture on top. Cover and cook for 4 hours on low. Serve it hot!

Quick tip: Riced sweet potatoes and broccoli can be used. Frozen pepper and onion make for a faster prep time as well.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

"Q: Doctor, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that’s it… don’t waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that’s like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can’t think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain…Good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU’RE NOT LISTENING!!! …. Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they’re permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO – Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It’s the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! ‘Round’ is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

AND...

For those of you who watch what you eat, here’s the final word on nutrition and health. It’s a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans
5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

Conclusion:

Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you. Well, there you go - I didn't say it was good advice! Laugh a little; no, actually, laugh a lot - it's great for you!"

This wasn’t original to me, I just couldn’t keep it to myself knowing that humor and smiling isn’t shared enough in our world today. If we can turn humor and smiling into all our laughter we can benefit and so can others. Laughter is sweet medicine for the soul.

Physical benefits of laughter:

Mental benefits of laughter:

Social benefits of laugher:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Lowers stress hormones
  • Decreases pain
  • Relaxes your muscles
  • Adds joy and zest to life
  • Eases anxiety and tension
  • Relieves stress
  • Improves mood
  • Strengthens relationships
  • Attracts us to others
  • Enhances teamwork
  • Help defuse conflict
  • Promotes group bonding

Your soul and everyone around you benefits from laughing. There just isn’t enough humor, giggles and laughter going on. We need to seek it out.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Craving Busters

If you’re like me, I often want to eat when I am tired, sad, stressed or bored. True hunger kind of grows on you. It creeps up and makes us a bit hollow feeling or empty. When we let hunger grow it can turn from just a quiet signal to a full-blown H-Anger attack. Hunger can be strong, then quieter. It feels kind of like waves on an ocean.

BUT cravings on the other hand come on strong. Cravings don’t want to be ignored and will take over our thoughts and actions. Cravings must be what it feels like if your body was taken over by an alien. It’s not pretty people.

This helpful chart came from our ProCoach program.

Craving Busters

Here are some tips to help you deal with cravings:

  • Understand that cravings are normal. They come and go.
  • If the craving is minor, ignore it.
  • If the craving is moderate, distract yourself. This is more intentional than ignoring.
  • If the craving is overwhelming, have a small portion of what you’re craving in a safe environment, such as a restaurant where you can only get one portion of the food (instead of the whole thing). Eat it slowly. Stay aware of all the signals your body is giving.
  • Keep a “craving diary”. Write down what you’re craving and when. Also write down what you’re thinking and feeling at that time. Over time, look for patterns. Once you know the pattern, you can disrupt it.
  • For women keep track of your menstrual cycle on a calendar. Remind yourself daily to be on a 'Craving Alert' especially before your cycle begins.
  • Substitute something that gives you the same feeling. For instance, munch on raw veggies when you’re craving crunchiness. Take a hot bath when you’re craving warmth and comfort. Go for a brisk walk when you’re craving distraction. Pop a sugarless mint in your mouth, nibble celery, or drink water when you just want something to do with your mouth.
  • When you have a craving, ask yourself:
    What do I expect this food to do for me? How will it change my feelings?
    What am I telling myself about this craving?
    What else is going on for me right now?

Hunger or craving? Allow yourself time to figure out which one you are feeling. This “pause” is one way to stop weight gain from feeling like its spiraling out of control. A short break to check yourself can give you back the control you’re looking for.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

Homemade Breakfast Sausage

by Coach Nancy​

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix everything together in a large bowl, using your hands will work best. Form into even sized patties. You’ll be able to get 6 to 8 patties. Cook in oven for 15 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Serve hot.

Make ahead tip: This recipe works great to cook the patties and freeze, then reheat the sausage when you need them. Just remove from freezer, place in a medium-hot pan for 3 minutes until heated all the way through. Or microwave for just under a minute.

3 Common Nutrition Challenges & Tips to Help

Challenge #1: "I can't eat 3 times a day."

There is a pretty simple answer to that one. Just don’t. The magic isn’t necessarily in the number of times you eat. The point is to make sure you are eating, and that you are controlling your cravings and blood sugar so that when you do eat you are in control and making good choices. If 3 meals plus a recovery drink after training works for you, then experiment for 2 weeks and measure the results.

Challenge #2: "It's too hard to eat vegetables with every meal, especially breakfast".

My advice here is to keep it simple. I eat cherry tomatoes almost every day at breakfast because they are easy. It’s kind of fun to pop them in my mouth, and they complement all sorts of protein sources. I start off the day with some good fiber and carbohydrate, and they don’t spike my blood sugar like cereal or a bagel. Just do it for a couple weeks and it becomes a habit.

Challenge #3: "I have to have cream in my coffee".

I’ve been working diligently to cut down my coffee and caffeine consumption. I did some calculating just on the calories I was consuming in my coffee, and discovered I was going through a quart of Half & Half by myself every two weeks. For some of you out in coffee land that is probably actually on the low side, but here’s the rub: That’s 1200 calories every 2 weeks just from cream in coffee, which adds up to 31,200 calories a year! Drinking an extra 31,200 calories over your body’s energy requirements would result in a 9-pound weight gain over the course of a year – OUCH!

Before you tell me “I don’t use that much”, keep track over a week or two and check it out. And think about this – how much weight do you want to gain this year from drinking your calories? Is 4 or 5 pounds okay? Multiply that over the next (or last) 10 years and tell me how that works for you.

Don’t let one of these “I Can’ts" frustrate you, but don’t dismiss them or give up either. Make no mistake, you have dietary habits already. It’s a habit to grab a bagel and coffee, or cereal and toast, for breakfast. It’s just something you do, and have probably done for years. It’s a habit to have a sandwich for lunch, and a potato or rice with dinner

Habits are created, which means they can also be replaced.

Pick just one small change this week and work on it. Not all of them, just one. Make it the one that you think will be easiest, and build on that success.

To you best health,
Coach Nancy

Discomfort of 80

"I just ate too much."

"Wow, that was fantastic, I just had to eat the whole plate."

"I really didn't need that."

It is so easy to eat more then we need. It’s not always about physical hunger. There's other stuff at work.

For example:

  • It's hard to "waste" food.
    We can hear our parents' voices in our head: There are starving children! You shouldn't leave food on the plate!
  • Food keeps us occupied.
    If we stay "busy" with food, then we don't have to deal with other things...such as "the big stressor in our lives". Or just plain old boredom.
  • Food numbs us.
    It’s a good painkiller for emotional and physical distress.
  • We confuse emotions with hunger.
    Often, we mix up emotions such as anxiety or anger with hunger. It feels like hunger… but it isn’t.
  • Habits.
    We do many things automatically, such as picking the last tidbit off the kids’ plates as we tidy up dinner, or popping a bite into our mouth as we cook.
  • We’re worried about social consequences.
    We don’t want to say no, make a fuss, or stand out as a “weirdo” at social events with friends and family.
  • Our environment.
    We’re there, and so is the food.

It's natural to avoid all of these discomforts. So we make choices that don't fit with our goals.

We eat because we’re bored, upset, stressed, or simply near tempting food. We eat more than we need because eating to satisfied is challenging.

Commit to the challenge:

  • You’ll be more able to reach your goals.
  • You’ll feel more in control of yourselves and your actions.
  • You'll feel stronger. More courageous.
  • You’ll be proactive rather than reactive

Its not easy to change why you do what you do, BUT commit to the challenge.

To your best health,
Coach Nancy