Sunday, July 30, 2017

Easy Healthy Eating Menu Plan for Weight Loss- With Recipes

Sauted mushrooms and kale, seasoned with curry powder,
and seared curry spiced tuna
Someone I care about was told that they need to lose weight desperately, go on a diet, because otherwise they have a very, very high risk of having medical complications.
This person currently does not eat healthily at all, is not much of a cook, but wants to, and doesn't have a lot of time or energy to be spending all day in the kitchen. I was asked to make this person a menu plan, to help them lose weight, and fast.

I will add at this point that I am not a dietician nor a doctor nor do I profess to be one. The whole point of this post is just to share some tips that worked for me, some easy menu ideas that are weight loss friendly and aren't too time consuming to prepare. If you're unsure of what you should be eating for weight loss reasons, run this by a doctor or dietician before starting. I don't think I shared anything controversial at all, though, just well rounded healthy meals.

I have personal experience with losing weight by going on a Paleo diet, especially one with lower amounts of carbohydrates, but I think that that change might be a bit too big for someone who currently doesn't eat healthily. So I would not suggest that this person go completely Paleo, just a gluten free, clean eating, low carb, moderate fat, diet, and if that doesn't seem to be working, then I'd suggest she tweak it to be different, as needed.

The basis of the diet will be three square meals a day, carbohydrates strictly limited, lean proteins, unlimited amounts of lower carbohydrate vegetables, and fats moderated but not limited as strictly as carbohydrates. I read a post on a while back (but can't find the link anymore) about why many people who go on lower carb diets lose weight at first and then start gaining it back, and part of what he said is that it is not just carbohydrate intake that affects weight loss, but overall calories as well. Usually when people first start going lower carb, they eat fewer calories as well, since they can't stomach the higher fat content of a diet in which fat replaces carbohydrates. However, gradually they start eating more and more fatty foods and this causes them to gain weight because they end up eating just as many calories, if not more, than where they started out, replacing carbs with high fat foods like nuts and cheeses. Because of this, I think its important that people trying to lose weight don't overdo the fats. I'm not saying avoid them entirely, but be cognizant of how many fats you are eating. Don't snack on nuts, for example.

Because the first priority is health and not too complicated to cook, this will not be a super frugal menu, but I am writing it with frugality in mind, more or less.

Here is my general menu guidelines. Feel free to mix and match what works for you. Most of these dishes can be prepared in larger quantities at a time, so you don't need to cook from scratch for every meal, but can bulk cook to save time and energy. I would recommend at the start of the week cooking up a few different protein options, a few different vegetable options, and some carb options, and pull them out as needed from the fridge or freezer.

If you need to specifically be low carb, leave out the listed carbohydrate for the meal, and eliminate the fruit (or maybe have just one, depending), and increase the vegetables and proteins to fill you up, accordingly. If you just want to be Paleo, this is all Paleo other than the brown rice and soy sauce, so just leave those out and you're good.
If you aren't specifically trying to lose weight, you're just interested in a healthy eating menu plan that won't take too much time in the kitchen, you can do the same and just not limit the carbs or the fats- don't limit the amount of oil used, and eat as much rice or potatoes or sweet potatoes or fruit as you want- just don't overdo it.

Basic Menu Plan:

2-3 eggs- hard boiled or fried- scrambled, omelet, sunny side up egg. Cooked in 1 teaspoon olive oil. With salt.
Vegetables- cooked or raw, as much as you want. If cooked: steamed, boiled, sauted, or baked, or mixed into the omelet. For seasoning, you can sprinkle on any homemade spice mix and salt before or after cooking.
Carbohydrates- 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, 1 medium baked sweet potato, or 1 medium baked or boiled regular potatoes. Can top with 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and any spice mix.

1 piece of fish- salmon, tilapia, flounder, perch... or 1 chicken breast cutlet. Baked in parchment paper, with any spice mix on it. Baked wings also work- cook them on a rack so the fat drips off instead of cooking into it.
Vegetables- cooked or raw, as much as you want. You can cook it via steaming, boiling, or baking, or saute in 1-2 teaspoons olive oil. Can be seasoned with gluten free soy sauce or coconut aminos, any spice mix, lemon juice or vinegar, herbs, or any spice mix. Can make a vinaigrette and pour it on the salad, but not overdo the dressing. Can be made into soup.
Carbohydrates- 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, 1 medium baked sweet potato, or 1 medium baked or boiled regular potatoes. Can top with 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and any spice mix.

Same as lunch.

1-2 fruits of choice per day.
If still hungry, have raw veggie sticks (cucumber sticks, celery sticks, carrot sticks, pepper spears, kohlrabi sticks, or chopped tomatoes), if desired sprinkled with lemon juice and/or salt and/or black pepper.

Water, unflavored seltzer, water with flavorings (see the recipe below), or stevia sweetened iced tea or stevia sweetened lemonade.

You can feel free to change up the things on the menu, but this is a general guide.

Here's some basic recipes. Feel free to play around with them as long as you aren't adding extra sweeteners, unhealthy spice mixes or flours, or excess oil.


Adding any of the following spice mixes can add a healthy flavor punch in a moment to any of the following dishes, and most are easy to make from scratch. Keep them on hand as it will make your cooking easier. While I have listed links to my recipes for them (yes, I know most of the pictures don't work- I'm working on fixing them), you can feel free to use any store bought version of these or any other spice mix, as long as they don't have added sugar or msg or any other unhealthy ingredients.
My all purpose spice mix (leave out the sweetener)

Chinese style stir fried vegetables:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
2 carrots
2-3 zucchini
2 cups chopped cabbage
1-2 tablespoons all natural gluten free soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 pinch black pepper (optional)
1. Dice your onion. Peel and chop your carrots into thin sticks or thin half circles.
2. Saute the onion and carrots in the olive oil until the onion is starting to lightly brown and the carrots are getting softer.
3. Chop your zucchini into thin half circles and add that and your cabbage into the pan.
4. Saute until the cabbage is soft and the zucchini is fully cooked.
5. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, and black pepper to your vegetables. Mix and taste. If needed, add one more tablespoon of soy sauce.
This should be enough stir fry for a few servings. Put some aside in the refrigerator for future meals.

Sauted Veggies:
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
Vegetables of choice such as mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, swiss chard, kale, etc...
Spices of choice or homemade healthy spice mixes (see above)
1. Chop up your onions and saute in oil until translucent or browned, whichever you prefer.
2. Chop your vegetables and add to your onions. Cook until they're as you prefer- either al dente, fully cooked, browned, or soft- your choice.
3. Add salt and spices of your choice to taste.
Optional: You can add fish or chicken or even ground meat or ground poultry to your sauted veggies. You can cook them first and then remove them from the pan and add back in once your veggies are cooked, or you can keep them in the pan the entire time, even while cooking the veggies. Choice is yours.

Garlic Green Beans:
1 package frozen green beans
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1-3 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
1. Place your green beans, garlic powder, salt, and olive oil in a baking pan and cover tightly.
2. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until completely cooked.
3. If you want, add lemon juice to taste.
4. Serve hot or cold, doesn't matter.
There should be enough for leftovers; put the rest aside for another meal.

Fresh Salad and Salad Dressing:
Any vegetables. Can include:
Salad Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard (optional)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1. Mix all the ingredients for the salad dressing together.
2. Chop up all the salad ingredients that you want to use.
3. Add the salad dressing, as needed, to your plate. Keep the rest of the dressing in the fridge for another meal.

Roasted Vegetables:
Any vegetables such as zucchini, fennel, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi, cauliflower, or broccoli.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1. Chop up your vegetables, enough to cover an oven tray. You can do it in cubes or chunks, (eggplant, kohlrabi, and zucchini), in thin circles (eggplant and zucchini), in florettes (cauliflower or broccoli, can use frozen already chopped or fresh), or wedges (cabbage, kohlrabi, or fennel). You can mix and match on the tray.
2. Pour olive oil all over, as well as garlic powder and paprika and salt. Use your hands to spread the flavoring all over the vegetables, and then try to lay them out in as flat of a layer as possible.
3. Roast at 350 until everything is soft and maybe starting to get crispy. Depending on the size of the vegetables, this can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes.
5. This should be enough for more than one meal; store the rest in the refrigerator for future meals.

Steamed Veggies:
Any vegetables including green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, spinach, cabbage, etc...
1. Place in steamer basket in a larger pot or pressure cooker, or simply place in a pot with a little water at the bottom, and cover. Add salt and spices as desired, and cook until soft.
2. Strain.
3. Can be served hot or cold. Can be served with the addition of any homemade spice mixes, vinegar, lemon juice, all natural gluten free soy sauce, etc...

Olive oil or coconut oil (1-2 teaspoons)
Celery (optional but helpful)
A mix of any of the following vegetables: zucchini, pumpkin, sweet potato, tomatoes, cabbage, greens, cauliflower, turnip, radish, mushrooms
Tomato paste with no sugar added, to taste (optional)
All natural soy sauce (optional)
Spices such as garlic (always), dill/oregano/bay leaves (if adding tomato sauce or not, as long as not adding soy sauce), ginger (best with soy sauce), etc...
Salt to taste (add plenty)
Vinegar (optional- nice especially with soy sauce)
Black pepper (optional)
Chicken or fish (optional)
1. Chop up onions, carrots, and celery and saute them in oil until starting to brown.
2. Add the rest of the vegetables and salt, bring to a boil and simmer until fully soft. If you want to cook chicken or fish in with the vegetables do so now. Remember to add enough salt, because without enough salt any soup will taste bland and flavorless.
3. Add tomato paste, soy sauce, vinegar, and/or spices to taste, and cook for a few minutes longer.
4. If desired, once fully cooked, you can chop up and a cooked protein like chicken or fish into your ready soup to serve. You can also add a small amount of cooked brown rice.

Baked Fish or Chicken Breast:
Fillets of white fish, salmon, or chicken breast
Spices such as garlic powder, dried herbs, paprika, or cumin, and salt. Or spice mixes. Or mustard.
1. Lay your fillets of fish or chicken breast onto parchment paper, flat, so they don't overlap each other.
2. Add flavoring to your fillets, either by sprinkling on a mix of the spices and herbs, a spice mix, or mustard. (You can add mustard and spices together.) Add salt.
3. Bake at 350 until the chicken breast or fish have fully changed color and cooked through. Don't over cook. Check these after 10 minutes to see if they fully changed color. If they didn't, check again every 5 minutes, and remove from the oven when fully changed.
4. You can bake a bunch at once and keep them in the fridge for later.

Pan Fried Chicken or Fish
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
Chicken or turkey breast or fish of choice such as flounder, tilapia, tuna, etc...
Spices of choice or spice mix
1. Coat fish, chicken, or turkey with salt and spices of choice.
2. Heat up the oil in a non stick pan (cast iron is best, but any will work) and add the protein in one layer to cover the bottom of the pan.
3. If cooking tuna turn over after about 20 seconds, then cook for another 20 seconds total, then remove from the pan.
4. If cooking anything else, cook until the bottom changes color and starts to brown, then flip over and cook the over side. When completely cooked through, remove from the pan. This goes very quickly- you can cook up a lot at once to keep in the fridge or freezer for a later meal.

Brown Rice:
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 1/2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
1. Put the rice and boiling water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Put on a cover and simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
3. Leave the cover on for an additional fifteen minutes.
4. This is enough for quite a few meals. Prepare in advance and keep in the fridge to use for each meal.

Flavored Water:
Flavorings, such any of the following, or a mix- cucumber slices, mint leaves, lemon slices, sliced apples, sliced oranges.
Add about 1/2-1 cup of flavorings to a large pitcher of water. Refrigerate and let sit for at least 1 hour before drinking.

I know it's hard, and it can get boring to eat the same healthy foods day in and day out. If you're willing to spend more time in the kitchen there is a whole world of healthy cooking recipes out there. This menu plan was just written with the cooking averse in mind, so that you, too, can cook healthy, yummy meals without spending too much time in the kitchen or breaking the bank.

Are any of you attempting to lose weight? What type of diet plan are you on? Do you find it's working? Do you find your diet requires you to spend so much time in the kitchen?
Does this look like something you'd do? Are you a cook or are you cooking averse?


  1. Hi Penny. Have you read The Obesity Code? I got A LOT of great information from it and rate it highly. I've been a part of the diet industry for 30 plus years and the information in this book (all documented!) is fabulous.

    1. I just listened to that on audio book and second the recommendation. Most of this plan would fit with it. What's so fabulous about that book is it goes into all the research, old and new, and puts the most value on large scale or long term studies or meta analysis of studies, so you get the scientific info of what really does and doesn't work. Not some two-bit 'research' that someone is hoping to get rich by saying that things which are correlational are actually cause and effect. I totally recommend it to anyone interested in how the human body processes food.

  2. Ordinarily, I wouldn't butt in, but since this is a life or death situation I would highly recommend fasting. Daily calorie restriction is a popular fad, but it is not associated with long term weight loss. In fact, cutting calories is associated with weight GAIN in the long term. Paleo and low carb diets are associated with weight loss but fasting can have an even greater benefits for extreme cases like the one you describe.

  3. This is a very good plan, and it closely matches the plan I used to lose the "I had a baby when I was over-40" weight. (21 Day Fix). I've learned at my age, that I just cannot eat as many carbs. (And in fact, we shouldn't be eating many.)

    Fasting is interesting - it has never worked for me. From what I've read, that's not a-typical for women. Not all women can do fasting.

  4. I read today a results study on caloric restriction & fasting. Both groups lost the same but the fasting group had a rise in LDL cholesterol. The bad one. Also, they were the ones who had the hardest time sticking to the diet. I'm on a diet now with caloric restriction and exercise. So far I've lost and kept off 5 pounds.

    Your friend is lucky to have someone who truly cares about them. Another great post, thank you.


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