Kitchen Shortcuts

December 14, 2020

A licensed dietitian is joined by a seasoned chef to share practical, usable tips, that will cut your time in the kitchen, make that time more enjoyable, and give you the confidence to cook delicious, real foods. While many think of cooking as a hobby, it’s really a life-skill that takes a bit of practice. Let’s make this important part of life less of a chore and more efficient.

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TERESA: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I am Teresa Wagner, a Registered and Licensed Dietitian; and the head cook for my household of five. During this time of COVID-19, I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen cooking for myself and my family. And while I choose to do this even in non-COVID times, it doesn't always mean I enjoy it and happily do it. It can be a major chore. And kitchen fatigue is something I struggle with. I'm always looking for ways to make this important part of life less of a chore and more efficient so that I'm not in the kitchen and grocery store all day, every day. Joining me today as my co-host is Marianne Jurayj, who's an actual chef and probably does love to spend her days in the kitchen. But like the rest of us, she's got a busy life and while cooking brings her great joy, she also needs shortcuts in the kitchen so that she can take care of the other obligations in her life. Welcome to the show, Marianne.


MARIANNE: Thanks, Teresa. I'm happy to be here and, and you are right. I do enjoy being in the kitchen. It's one of my favorite places to be, but I know that for many, it's a little more challenging. So today, whether you're cooking for one like me or a family of five, like Teresa, we hope to offer some kitchen shortcuts that will make it a little bit easier and will be a little bit more efficient. So as Teresa said, my name is Marianne Jurayj. I'm a chef and a culinary nutrition educator with a company called The Cook’s Cure. And really, I think of myself as a personal trainer in the kitchen. And I partnered with Nutritional Weight and Wellness to help create some cooking classes, develop recipes. And of course, to be here with you today and talk about how we can learn the skill and create the habit of making balanced, healthy meals a little bit easier. Now we often think of cooking as a hobby, but really it's a life skill that takes a bit of practice. It's a craft that needs to be honed. But unlike other hobbies, like knitting or golf, cooking is an essential part of healthy eating and not just a pastime on the weekends. And like many of my clients, some of our listeners may have never had the opportunity to learn or develop these skills in the kitchen, or they might need a little bit of help with organization and planning. So when they decide to move to real food way of eating, like we promote at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, it makes it hard to make that leap. We know that getting into the kitchen to prep a meal takes more time and more effort than just picking up some fast food or sticking that pre-packaged item in the microwave.


TERESA: Yes, I can absolutely empathize with that overwhelm. And I like that you said that it is a skill that we need to develop. Many of my clients get frustrated when they begin this new way of eating, because they either haven't developed these skills yet, or maybe those skills have become rusty. Recently, at a virtual nutrition conference I attended, one of the presenters said, “Health is a skill.” And that really struck a chord with me. Health is something we need to continuously work on to maintain. It is a learned skill that we must, or that we pass down from generation to generation. Growing up, I learned health skills from my parents. I watched them exercise regularly, cook food at home with meals, including proteins, vegetables, and real butter. So I learned about balanced nutrition just through observation. We ate together with the TV off; water or milk were the beverage options, not soda or juice. And sleep was a priority. These are some of the health skills that I've tried to maintain and hone myself, and now try to pass on to my three children.


MARIANNE: Oh, that is fantastic. Yes. A lot of life happened in the kitchen when my kids were growing up. And now that they're out of the house, it is so fun to see those skills show up in the way that they live their lives. My daughter is a junior at the University of Minnesota. She is an absolute pro at meal prepping because she has such a busy week. And my son, who just graduated from college and now has a real job. He just started a job this summer. He's always sending me pictures of things he's created. He often uses his instant pot on the weekend to make food for his, his workweek. So he's learned, he learned a lot and I'm glad that he's using those skills. So, so health is a skill and it can be cultivated even in our kids. And I think it's an important skill to, to, to nurture. And so in order to be healthy, we need to feed our bodies food that will nourish it, not just calories, but nourishment. And that takes real cooking skills. And, you know, food manufacturers have made it terribly easy to outsource our food. So we really want to take control of our health by learning some of those real food skills in the kitchen. So today we are going to give you some practical, usable tips that hopefully will cut your time in the kitchen, make it a little bit more enjoyable and give you the confidence to cook that really delicious food.


TERESA: Yes. That's our plan for the day. I hope it, I hope people get some great ideas from what we're going to talk about today. And for me, the most important step is to plan. We can't make a meal if we don't know what we're going to make, or haven't gone to the grocery store. Time is spent spinning and making extra trips to the store instead of doing the actual work of cooking or the fun of cooking as Marianne would say. It feels like work, but nothing is actually getting done. Like many of you, planning is maybe the least favorite part of the process, but it is worth it because of the overall time that it saves; and money too, because I have a plan for all that food that I buy.


MARIANNE: Yeah. I absolutely agree. Teresa. And boy, with a family of five, it is particularly important. So how do you plan for the week in your house?


TERESA: Well, what works for, excuse me, what works best for me and my family is to make a plan for the whole week. I have a designated day and time that I plan. It's on the schedule, just like my work hours and other commitments. So what I do is I sit at the table with my cookbook and my computer for online recipes, my phone for my family calendar, my meal planner, and my grocery list. First I look at the week and I see what days I need to plan for and what days I’ll either be away or what days my kids have extracurriculars to plan around.


MARIANNE: Wow. And with COVID I'll bet that there's more real meal planning than there was in the past, right?


TERESA: Oh my gosh. There sure is because there really is nothing on the calendar right now. After I know what days I need to plan for, which is all of them these days, I find recipes from the Weight and Wellness cookbook or online and plug them in for the week. I vary the proteins, maybe something with beef on Monday, chicken on Tuesdays, and fish on Wednesday. And so on. After I choose a recipe, I immediately add the food items I need to my grocery list and move on to the next day's plan until I have the week completed. I keep my meal plans from week to week so I can use them as a reference. I star the meals that my family really enjoyed. And that way I don't need to come up with original ideas week after week. So Marianne, as a chef and with your kids out of the house, what are some of your tips for planning?


MARIANNE: Well, you know, even though I often cook for one, cause my husband is out of town a lot, I still look at the week as a whole and think about, it might be just me, but I have three meals a day for seven days. So I really need to think that way. And so I often do my planning in reverse. So when I go to the grocery store, I try to let the season lead my plan. And that really helps with variety cause obviously that will change with the seasons. And when vegetables and fruits are in season, they are often less expensive. So that's an added bonus. So I buy what looks good and then I make a list and I see what I might have, and then I create the plan for that week.


TERESA: Marianne, I've got to just interrupt you here because I can just picture you perusing around the grocery store, sniffing and feeling the fruits and vegetables and really having a great time there.


MARIANNE: Yes. Yes: smelling everything or I'd go to the farmer's market or, you know, whatever. I, I try and mix it up a little bit and yeah, I do enjoy that part. So, so the, but the great thing is that a lot of grocery stores have made, made it easy for us. So you can buy stuff that saves you lot of time. And that's those pre-cut raw veggies, like the cubed butternut squash, the spiralized zucchini. You can get shredded brussel sprouts or diced onions. And, but the problem with those is they're going to cost a little bit more. And so it's a little bit of a trade on, on having them do your chopping, mincing and dicing, but it's going to be a little more expensive. But if time is your issue, that might be the thing that helps you get back into the kitchen. So I encourage you to maybe start there and then do your chopping later. So, and then stocking up your freezer with frozen veggies like peas and riced cauliflower and some of those great stir fry blends. It's a great way to have a fast veggie side to go with any of that protein during the week. Maybe when your plan sort of fell apart: you might've had a meeting that ran long or something popped up on the calendar. So it's nice to have some of those frozen veggies. And brussel sprouts: you could put in your eggs in the morning, or you could put a handful of peas in that salad for lunch. And I love to do some good riced cauliflower with, I think we have that coconut curry dish on our website. I like to pair those. So, it looks like it is time for a break, Teresa. So, you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. So it chilled down a little bit. It's slow cooker season and the Crock-Pot is an excellent shortcut in the kitchen. So you could just put a roast in the Crock-Pot before you leave for work in the morning. And when you get home, your house smells delicious and dinner is served. In fact, registered dietitian, Melanie Beasley, who works out of our new Eagan location, says that she uses her crockpot three to four times a week, sometimes putting an entire head of broccoli or cauliflower, or she even puts in a whole squash like spaghetti or acorn squash. And she adds just a little bit of water. She sets it on low and while the veggies are in the crockpot, she roasts her proteins in the oven. It's a quick way for her to do a lot of food prep without standing at the stove.




TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Here's a one-pan dinner idea from Leah Kleinschrodt, Registered Dietitian from the St. Paul Nutritional Weight and Wellness location. When she's in a bind for time, Egg Roll in a Bowl is her go-to dinner. She heats two tablespoons of expeller pressed sesame oil in a pan over medium heat, and adds several cloves of garlic. Once the garlic is fragrant, she'll add two pounds of ground pork to the pan and brown it with some seasonings, such as a quarter cup of coconut aminos, two teaspoons of fresh grated ginger, two tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. Once the pork is browned, she adds two to three packages of shredded cabbage. You know, the kind, the coleslaw mix with the carrots, the shredded carrots in it?


MARIANNE: Yeah, that's yummy.


TERESA: It's so good. And it's so simple. If you'd like some added kick, add two to three tablespoons of sriracha. Cook the cabbage until it's tender and voila, dinner is served.


MARIANNE: Wow, that sounds fantastic. So you were talking about your planning method. Can you tell us more about that?


TERESA: Sure. So once I am home from the grocery store, so the planning is done and now I have all the groceries and I'm, and I'm home. The prep begins. And it begins as I'm unloading and putting the food away. I start by filling my sink with water and the vegetable wash that I use. And then I just start throwing the fruits and vegetables, broccoli heads, cauliflower, asparagus, apples, pears, grapes, melons, those kinds of things. And then I, what I do is I also, I leave out the softer items, like the berries that will start to spoil if I wash them and try to store them. So those I wait to wash until right before we're going to eat them. So while the produce is soaking, I also start a pan, to start pan frying a protein, you know, like maybe several chicken breasts in a tablespoon or so of avocado oil.


MARIANNE: Oh yeah. And so what is your plan for those chicken breasts?


TERESA: Well, I don't have a specific plan for them necessarily. It's really just to have on hand for salads for me; maybe something for lunch for my husband or my daughter really loves chicken salad. And so I'll sometimes I'll just cube that up for chicken salad for her. Otherwise it's just a great protein snack option.


MARIANNE: Yeah. I love that idea. That's a great idea. Just like my son doing that, that instant pot thing. It's great to have a ready-to-eat protein on hand in the fridge. It's helpful cause it tends to take a little more time. And your vegetables are sort of the, the easy, fast part. So it's good to have that protein on hand.


TERESA: Yes. So while the chicken is cooking and the produce is soaking, I'm getting everything else put away. And for me with a family of five and a once a week grocery store run, which is also when I get all my other things for the week as well. This takes a bit of time. So overlapping the jobs is a big time-saver for me. So once I'm done putting away the groceries, I drain, rinse and set the produce out to air-dry. And by then the chicken is done. So I transfer that into a glass container.


MARIANNE: Wow. That is amazing. And it really is important to remember that water is, is the enemy with your produce. So you always want to make sure that it's completely dry before you put it away to prevent spoilage and food waste. And so, now at this point you could cut up some of those veggies and then put them in those glass containers. I just love opening my fridge and seeing everything that I have. It's like having a, a salad bar or a smorgasbord in the fridge and it, it, it makes it, it inspires me to cook things and I love to have it visible. So, so, I'm, I, cut up my vegetables and I put them in containers and you know that it's that forgotten plastic bag of something in the back of the fridge that gets, kind of gets lost in the mix and you take it out and it's that mystery thing.

So we want to eliminate food waste. So it's good to wash them, cut them up, and have them all ready to go. And that way you can just grab them and throw them into whatever prep you're going to use them for: into a soup or whatever. And, you know what I love about easy, balanced snacks are those three compartment containers. You know what I'm talking about?




MARIANNE: So in one compartment, I might add some of those cut up veggies. And then in the other compartment, like a healthy fat. We have a Green Veggie Dip on our website. It's really herbaceous and delicious. And then in the last compartment, I'd probably add a protein, probably like that chicken that you prepared Teresa. Or you could do a small piece of fruit with some nitrate-free summer sausage and maybe some nuts: a few pistachios. And another great idea is some cheese cubes, some jicama sticks, and that healthy fat in the guacamole. So if you had three to five of those containers set up in your fridge: super easy week; you can just grab them, stick them in your lunch bag and you are ready to go, or whenever you need a snack. And you know what? It only takes a small amount of time to set yourself up for that success. And having a healthy snack at work is extremely helpful for preventing those late afternoon energy dips. Next thing you know, you want to run to the coffee shop and get a sugary beverage, or you're dipping into that candy bowl that one of your coworkers has. So it'll save you from those two things.


TERESA: Yeah. That's those are familiar stories. That's for sure. And I love that idea with the three-compartment container. It's kind of like a healthy grownup version of a Lunchable.


MARIANNE: Yes. Yeah.


TERESA: I just thought of another idea. I've really been into olive tapenade lately. So that could be the healthy fat: put some of that on cucumber slices or wide strips of bell peppers and have a hard-boiled egg on the side. You've got a little protein, a little fat and a little carb.


MARIANNE: Oh yeah, that sounds delicious. And I have a quick lunch option. I like to have a lot of quick lunch options available. So what I do on the weekends is I will make a large pot of soup or stew. And then part of that soup is going to be used for that meal. So maybe that's my Sunday night meal. And then I put part of it directly into my lunchbox that I'm going to take on Monday or Tuesday for the upcoming week. And then the rest I'm going to freeze for future lunches.


TERESA: Yeah. I like to do that too. I will freeze soup in smaller glass containers. I like to save salsa jars because they are a perfect two cup size. And yes, I get many questions about this. You can freeze in glass containers. Just don't fill them all the way up to the top or they will crack. And then I also let them cool quite a bit before I put them in the freezer as well. So you want to leave about a half inch or so, just to make sure that that cracking doesn't happen. If I'm taking soup to work the next day if it's been frozen, what I'll do is I'll just pop it out of the freezer the night before, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. So that's how I like to freeze my soup. Marianne, I know that you do it a little bit different way. Can you remind me how you do that?


MARIANNE: Yeah, I do. And you know what? I have had a couple of jars crack on me, so I'm, I still, it takes a little practice. But you know what? I freeze my soups and my stews in a deep muffin tin so that, you know, that they, I think there's only six compartments. It's kind of popover size. So it's actually sort of a perfect portion size. I love it. So after it's frozen, I'm going to transfer those. I pop them out and I put them into a container or you could put them into a freezer bag and mark what you have in it. So you always know what you've got. So then when I want soup, I simply take out that portion and I'm going to, if I'm going to have it at home, I'm going to throw it into the, you know, my little sauce pan and I'll heat it up, or I'm going to put it into a container that I'm going to take for lunch. And then I'll heat it up when I'm, when I'm at work. So it's super easy. And the great thing is when you make soups and stews and freeze them like that, you're going to have a lot of variety, which is often the complaint. People say, “I just don't want to eat the same thing all week.” So you might have Chicken Wild Rice one day, chili another, our Spicy Coconut Stew that I talked about is delicious. So you have lots of options. And all of these recipes are found on our website, So I encourage our listeners to check those out.


TERESA: Yes. And for lunches, most of my clients, myself included, and when I'm talking to my clients, I'm usually like envisioning my life too, because I have a busy life. Most people do. So we really need to keep things easy. So making those soups ahead of time can be helpful, but we also need some ideas for the days when we don't have a stockpile of soup in the freezer.


MARIANNE: Yeah, absolutely. And so my absolute go-to for lunch is, is leftovers. I happen to love leftovers. So when I make dinner, I, even if it's only for me, I always plan for leftovers. I like to cook once and eat many times because I know there's going to be multiple meals in the week that I need to, I to take care of. So, usually when I'm cleaning up my dinner, I take some of those leftovers and they go directly into the container I'm going to take to work. And then the rest is going to go in the fridge. I'll cool it down. And then ultimately I might, I might do that freezer technique with my, my muffin tin. And so that way I am not rushing in the morning when I'm trying to get out the door and I'm trying to put my lunch together. And remember, leftovers, with the exception of fish, will last for seven days in your fridge. And that means starting on the day that you made it, then you have seven days. And fish, I would say maybe you've got maybe three to four days. Obviously you don't want, you don't want fish sticking around your, your, fridge for too long. So, so it looks like we are ready for another break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. You know, a quick tip from Carolyn Hudson, who's a Registered Dietitian at our Wayzata location: when she cooks bacon, she will cook a whole pound all at once. And we would do that, when I worked in a restaurant, we always cooked it that way. So she takes out the bottom half of her broiler pan. You know how it has holes in the top part? On the bottom pan, she puts a sheet of parchment paper, and then she lays the bacon on the top part, cooks the whole thing. The grease runs through the bottom, and she lets that grease harden. And then all she has to do is peel up that parchment and she throws it away. So what a perfect idea that is.




TERESA: Welcome Back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Earlier, I mentioned when I'm meal planning, I have my Weight and Wellness cookbook out for inspiration. Not only is this a great cookbook, but it is also a nutrition guide. The first section of the book gives you great information on how to eat well. It's the cliff notes of what you hear us tell you at your nutrition appointment. The Weight and Wellness Cookbook and Nutrition guide is 15% off during the month of December. So it's a great gift idea for this holiday season. Also, coming up in January, we have our Nutrition for Weight Loss classes beginning again. These classes will be offered in one of two formats: a pre-recorded option; so you can take the class on your own schedule or in a live Zoom format. So you can be a part of a class and interact with the teacher and your other class participants.

When you take the nutrition for class, excuse me. When you take the Nutrition for Weight Loss class, you get 12 weeks of classes and you get one-on-one nutrition counseling. For our classes starting in January, we are including a bonus hour of counseling. So you get three, one-hour appointments with a dietitian or nutritionist to help you take the information from the class and tailor it to your specific needs. Call our office for more information at (651) 699-3438, or visit our website at Just click on the “nutrition classes” tab, then click on “Nutrition for Weight Loss”. Lastly, click on “enroll now”. Do it now! 2021 will be here before we know it. Let's start this new year off with a plan that leads to lasting good health and weight loss, not some fad diet or gimmicky weight loss program.


MARIANNE: Yeah, that's a great idea. And you know what? We're going to be adding a cooking class actually that I'm going to be teaching as part of the Nutrition for Weight Loss program. And we'll be offering that up in a Zoom format. So we, we hope that you'll look for that in the new year in 2021, which is going to be a good year. And so, we were talking about lunches, Teresa.


TERESA: Yes, and how we need to make it quick and efficient because we just don't have time. Even in this space of COVID, a lot of us are working still working from home. We don't really have a lot of time to prep and make things. So one way I simplify my lunches is by making what I call a “sturdy salad”, the type of salad that will hold up in the refrigerator for multiple days. So instead of using leafy greens as the base, I'll use shredded cabbage or shredded brussel sprouts, both of which you can buy pre-shredded at most grocery stores. Or I'll use my food processor and make a salad with cauliflower and broccoli as the base. The pieces are processed pretty small, almost like the riced versions. So you can certainly substitute it. And those riced versions that you can buy at the store as well, if you don't have a food processor, but having those as the base, once you put that dressing on it, it holds up for awhile.


MARIANNE: Yeah, those are really good. And, and you want to use the fresh version of your riced cauliflower. I know they come in frozen and fresh, and the frozen wouldn't work in this, in this situation cause it might be too soft for the base. So you want to use your fresh, and you'll just find that in the refrigerator section, usually where you find your lettuces. And you know, we also have a really great Kale Salad on our website. And that holds up really well for several days. And I know some of you are like. “Kale… Kale: do I like kale?” If you're up, if you're, if you're still deciding, you know, the great thing about a kale salad is if you dress it early, it actually breaks that kale down a little bit and it becomes less fibrous; and less kale-like. So it's still hearty enough and holds up, but it's a little less fibrous and it's delicious.


TERESA: Yes. I make that salad a lot. And what I love about all of these salads, besides that I can make them once and be set for most of the week, is that they are very easy to make balanced. So they stick with you. What I mean by balance is that they have a vegetable carb, like we already mentioned, and added is a small amount of something that will pop your blood sugar up just a little bit and give you energy for your afternoon. So like fruit or a starchy vegetable added to the other vegetables we named. The fat is also included in the form of seeds or nuts and maybe some olive oil dressing. Once the salad is made, I just need to figure out the protein. My new favorite protein shortcut is those craft sausages that are popping up everywhere. The ingredients are all real and natural. There are no nitrates or fillers. And some of them are individually wrapped. So I don't even need a container. I can just, you know, rip it on its perforated edge and throw it directly into my lunch bag if I'm heading to work or just super convenient for, for a protein option.


MARIANNE: Yeah, I love those. Those are really good. And another really easy time-saving balanced meal idea is mayo-based salads. So think like egg salad, chicken salad, obviously your tuna and your salmon salads. And you can prep these ahead of time as well. And they hold up really well. So the protein is the base. The mayo is the healthy fat. You just want to make sure that your mayo is using a really good oil, like an avocado oil or an expeller-pressed safflower oil. You know, they often sneak in those bad oils: a little soy or, or canola oil. And you don't want those. So make sure you read the label. And then I like to add onions and celery because I like a little crunch in my salad. And then you might throw a handful of peas. Or for a chicken salad, I like to slice up some grapes for a little sweetness. And then I add either fresh or dried tarragon, which is a classic flavor. It's almost like a Waldorf salad. You could throw in maybe a handful of walnuts with that: delicious. And then serve it over a bed of greens instead of doing it sandwich style. So ditch the sandwich, keep the greens and it actually increases the vegetables and it keeps that, keeps your carbs in a healthy range.


TERESA: Perfect. So once you're ready for lunch, all you need to do is grab a fork. So earlier in the show we mentioned buying pre-cut vegetables, as just a way to save some time. I used that shortcut just the other day. I bought raw pre-cut butternut squash for one of my favorite Nutritional Weight and Wellness recipes. And the meal came together in a snap. I believe the recipe came from you, Marianne


MARIANNE: Oh yeah.


TERESA: The Sheet Pan Autumn Chicken with Squash and Apples. I prepped it the night before I needed it and was able to just stick it in the oven when I got home from work the next day. It was so easy. So if you, if that recipe sounds enticing to you, go to our website at and check it out. It's, it's really good. You won't regret it.


MARIANNE: That is a great recipe. And it's actually got like a spice, like you make a spice mix. And it looks like there's a lot of pepper in it. I think there's a Tablespoon of pepper, but you know, if so, if you like pepper, it's very, it's got that flavor. You can cut back on the pepper if, if you're not a huge fan. So that's the nice thing about those kinds of seasonings is it doesn't change the recipe. It just changes the flavor. So, so I love sheet pan meals. They are absolutely a great kitchen shortcut. And as a bonus, you can make the entire meal in one pan. So you're saving on cleanup and you just line that pan with some unbleached parchment paper, and then you don't have that sticky, sticky mess to clean up afterwards.


TERESA: So Marianne, why do you use parchment paper and not tinfoil? Because I know a lot of people use tin foil to line their pan.


MARIANNE: Yeah, they do. You know what? The aluminum in the tinfoil can leach into your food, especially when you're cooking at high temps or if you're making something that is acidic like a tomato sauce or something with vinegar. So if you really wanted to wrap something with aluminum foil, put a piece of parchment between your food and the, and the foil. And that way you don't have to worry about it leaching in. So, so make sure you use parchment. It'll help. So the key to making a good sheet pan dinner, and by that, I mean the protein and the veggies are cooked to the right temperature and they're done crisp tender so everything doesn't turn to mush. So we do this by choosing meats and veggies that sort of cook at about the same time. So let me give you an example. A sheet pan dinner using pork, I would probably choose a longer cooking vegetables like carrots or cauliflower, but if I was cooking fish like salmon, I might pair that with some asparagus or zucchini because they have a little bit more of a water content and they take less time to cook. And of course the size of the vegetable also makes a big difference. So in the examples I just mentioned, you could add larger chunks of cauliflower and broccoli to those carrots so that they all cook at the same time. And now you have a balance of veggies with your higher sugar content in the carrots. And then some that have a lower sugar content like the cauliflower and the broccoli. And of course, both of those are cruciferous vegetables. They have sulforaphane, which is cancer fighting and immune boosting. So they're really great to, to add to the mix. And then with the fish and the asparagus, you could add some small diced red potatoes to make it a little more balanced. And to round out the meals, I would toss those veggies in a really healthy fat like avocado oil, maybe drizzle it with a little olive oil or some butter, and then season it with your favorite spice blend. In fact, I love to use Chinese Five Spice on my sweeter vegetables, like my sweet potatoes or my carrots. It's sort of a warm, the warming spices are delicious; or put a little Cajun spice on your cauliflower. It’s sort of unexpected and absolutely delish.


TERESA: I love those ideas Marianne, because I have Chinese Five Spice in my cupboard and I rarely use it. So now I have an excuse to use it.


MARIANNE: Yes; excellent. So, it's time for a break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Are you craving pizza, but want to stay away from that gluten and the high amounts of carbs? Try this really quick sheet pan pizza idea from Britni Vincent, a Registered Dietitian from the St. Paul location. Just line of sheet pan with parchment, toss some cooked, shredded or cubed chicken, or you could use browned ground beef, add some sliced baby red potatoes, cauliflower florets, some sliced mushrooms, maybe diced jalapeno, and drizzle some avocado oil and some Italian seasonings, and then add a layer of organic mozzarella cheese, add a layer of olives and pepperoni, and then bake until the cheese is bubbly and the cauliflower is cooked through. And then serve with a side of your favorite pizza sauce that has no sugar added. Be sure to read that label. And then sprinkle it with some red pepper flakes if you like a little heat. And for a more detailed recipe, you can certainly go to our website,




TERESA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. For our long time listeners, who've gotten a real nutrition education from listening to this show, maybe your challenges aren’t knowing what to eat. It might be how to put that knowledge into action. If you need help with the “how's”, the dietitians and nutritionists at Nutritional Weight and Wellness are skilled at figuring out an individual plan to make it work for you. We make food plans that you want to eat, and that will work in your life, whether you are single, have a family to cook for or enjoying a busy retirement. Elizabeth Leppart, nutritionist from our St. Paul office, suggests for her clients that don't have time to cook in the morning to pre-prep their protein shakes. Have your NutriBullet or similar style blender out and ready to go the night before. Add all the shake ingredients to the blender cup: your protein powder, canned coconut milk, fruit and water, screw on the cap and put it in the fridge. In the morning, all you need to do is blend and go. Since our recipes recommend one-third cup coconut milk per shake, she suggests freezing that amount in muffin tins, and keeping a container of those third cup portions in your freezer. It keeps the mess to a minimum; pretty slick. To get your real food plan put into motion, call (651) 699-3438 to set up an appointment.


MARIANNE: That is a great idea. And you know, some other good breakfast ideas when you're really in a hurry, and if I'm going to circle back to our muffin tins, is we have a recipe on our website. It's our Egg Bake. We also have a frittata recipe as well, and they would, they would both work in this scenario. So you would make your egg bake. But instead of putting it into a big pan, like a 9 by 13 pan, you're going to put it into your muffin tins. And you'd put the meat in the bottom, you know, scramble up your eggs and pour that on top of the meat and the vegetables. And then you're going to lower the baking time. So I think it's like 45 minutes to 50 minutes when you're putting it in a big pan. You would just put it in for maybe 25 to 30 minutes. Give it a little shake and see if it jiggles. If it, obviously you want it to be set, and then you'll know it's done. And those are great. And they freeze beautifully. I do that for my husband all the time. And that way he always knows he's got breakfast in the freezer. You can switch out the vegetables. You can switch out the protein for bacon instead of sausage.


TERESA: Ham cubes work really well for Denver style.


MARIANNE: Yeah, absolutely. You could make it Mediterranean with a little feta and then sprinkle on a little bit, some herbs. It's delicious. So that's a really easy way. And, and it's also a great way to add vegetables to your breakfast. It's often the meal that we sort of forget to, to try and sneak in some fiber and some vegetables. And so I feel like that is a great way to do that.


TERESA: Yes. Well, let's get back to talking about sheet pans, because I feel like sheet pans are really helpful in, in making things more efficient in the kitchen. Marianne, when we were planning this show, you were telling me how you use sheet pans in a different way, not so much as a meal per se, but more as a way to prep for meals. I thought that sounded like a really great idea. So will you tell us how you do that?


MARIANNE: Yeah, absolutely. And this is really the way we would do it in a commercial kitchen or a restaurant kitchen. It's, it's a great way to be really efficient. So when I am preheating my oven, I want to fill that oven up. So I come home from the grocery store and I turn on that oven, and I will pull out three sheet pans and I line them with parchment. And then on sheet pan number one, I'm probably going to put my protein. So I like to cook my chicken ahead of time. So I do bone-in skin-on chicken thighs or chicken breasts. You're going to get more of that collagen, more of the minerals; the skin holds in all those juices. And so it cooks, they cook a little bit longer, but they are fabulous. And as a bonus, they are less expensive than your boneless, skinless version. So, and then sheet pan number two, I'm going to put some chopped root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, rutabagas. Again, this is in season. It's what's in season right now. And if you haven't had rutabagas lately, they're delicious.


TERESA: So good.


MARIANNE: Yeah. So, I would cut those all about the same size. And then on sheet pan number three, I'm going to put the more tender vegetables. So, like onions. I might cut those in chunks; and then my broccoli and asparagus, because those are going to cook a little bit faster. And I drizzle it all with a little bit of avocado oil. I might season it with some dried herbs, some salt and pepper, and now the chicken is going to go on the top rack and it's going to have a head start. So we're going to put that in for 10 minutes and then I'll add my root vegetables, which will be in the middle. And the other pan, the last pan will go on the bottom. And I'll, my oven is at 400 degrees and I'll cook those for 30 minutes. So that means my chicken has cooked for 40 and my vegetables have cooked for 30. And, they should, they, we have now created the components of great meals. So you could put those together and make a good meal, or now you've got all these, these elements that can be thrown into a soup or a stew. You can throw it into a salad; so many options. And, it's a great idea. And so while you're waiting for those sheet pans to get done, you can be boiling water to make some hard boiled eggs, or use your instant pot. That's a, if you have one of those, it's a great way to make hard-boiled eggs. I like to tell my clients to be efficient. When you're in the kitchen, try and multitask. And it'll actually seem like you're spending less time in the kitchen.


TERESA: Yeah, having a couple of things going at the same time; what a great idea. Having the different components of the meals ready when needed, but not necessarily needed immediately or to be eaten together. I love that idea. It reminds me of a tip from Alyssa Krejci, Registered Dietitian who works at the Nutritional Weight and Wellness office in North Oaks. She has a young family and a busy work schedule. So for her making what she calls “modular meals” works really well. She plans balanced meals for the week by prepping one to three options for each component of the meal, those components being the protein, the vegetable carbohydrates, and the starch; much like what you were doing with those sheet pans.




TERESA: She said she likes to keep things simple, but also have variety, like we all like. So she'll choose a couple of proteins, say steak and chicken for this example.

And she'll just have those on hand. Then, and I thought that this was genius. When she wakes up in the morning, while her coffee is brewing, she preheats the oven and preps a couple of pans for roasted veggies. One pan is heartier like the brussel sprouts and a few potatoes. And another has some lower sugar vegetable options like broccoli, bell peppers, and tomatoes. So what she does is she pairs a habit she truly enjoys: her coffee, with a healthy habit that needs to get done: food prep. While the veggies are roasting, she'll pop some quinoa or wild rice in her rice cooker. So also keep some black beans on hand for another starch option. So her modular meals become different options from each of the categories. Night one: steak, brussel sprouts and potatoes. Night two: chicken, the lower sugar roasted veggies and quinoa. And night three: the leftover chicken and steak, roasted veggies and black beans. It's simple. I love it.


MARIANNE: Yes. You know what? That is absolutely the way I cook. I love to do that. It makes, it makes for more variety actually in your week, which is, which is wonderful. So here, I'm going to give you a “get out of jail free” recipe. When you want to make something that only takes about 20 minutes, you do it in one pan, and it really only takes about four ingredients. So, so take a large skillet or a Dutch oven, and you're going to brown a pound of grass-fed beef. Now you could also use turkey, ground turkey or ground chicken here. Season it with a little salt and pepper and some dried herbs if you'd like. And we always want to sort of season as we go. And then remove it from the pan. So take the meat out and then add a tablespoon of avocado oil and add a half cup of diced onions. Now these could be ones that you have chopped, minced, and diced, or you can use one of those pre-bagged from the grocery store. So that's a great way to, to, to add the, save a little time there. And then you're going to add a bag of store-bought shredded cabbage or that slaw mix that you talked about, Teresa. And, or you could substitute a couple bags of riced cauliflower. Give that a stir. Let it wilt down just a little bit. And you could certainly add a couple teaspoons of minced garlic if you, if you like that. Garlic is really healthy and, and good for you. And then return your meat to the pan and add two cups of jarred tomato sauce. And this could be, quite frankly, it could be pasta sauce, pizza sauce, as long as there's no sugar added. And then give it a stir. Cover it for 10 minutes. And you have a healthy, easy meal with things that you may already have in your pantry. And it's going to keep in your fridge for seven days. And it also freezes absolutely beautifully.


TERESA: What a great idea! Well, and if you're, well, if you find yourself in a pinch, Nikki Doering, dietitian at our Maple Grove Nutritional Weight and Wellness location, says her favorite grab-and-go dinner is rotisserie chicken, a bag of green beans that she'll sauté in some butter, and some fruit on the side; all of which you can pick up from the grocery store in the same amount of time, or maybe even less than sitting in the long lines of the drive-thru. Dinner’s on the table in just a few minutes. However you make it happen, taking the time to make real food for your meals and snacks is worth the effort. It will pay you back in good health and a great quality of life. I know we've talked about a lot of different ideas today, and if you were in your car or your hands were otherwise occupied, you can find all these ideas and more at our website at


MARIANNE: Our goal Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life-changing. Thanks so much for joining us today. Be safe and be well during this holiday season.

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