The Summer Shape-Up Meal Plan
Eat Fresh (and Light!)
This plan from Jackie Newgent, RD, author of Big Green Cookbook, was created specifically for summer when farmers' markets offer an endless variety of veggies and fruits and fussy meal prep is the last thing anybody wants to be doing. The combo of fresh and fast fare is so tasty you'll be tempted to keep eating this way long after you've retired your swimsuit for the season.
During the first week's 1,200-calorie jumpstart, choose a breakfast, an a.m. snack, a lunch, and a dinner for each day. After the first week, add an extra snack in the afternoon or evening.
Breakfast: Yogurt or Cereal
(300 calories each)
Fruit Yogurt + Nutrition Bar
• Enjoy a 6-oz fruity nonfat Greek yogurt, such as Chobani 0% Blood Orange, with one mini nutrition bar (about 110 calories), like a Kind Mini Almond Cashew + Flax (Omega-3) bar, and a small fresh peach.
Cereal with Fruit
• Combine 200 calories' worth of whole-grain cereal made with flax or other seeds, such as 1 cup Kashi GoLean Crunch! Honey Almond Flax or 1 1/4 cups Nature's Path Mesa Sunrise Flakes, with 3/4 cup plain light soy or fat-free milk and 1/2 cup assorted fresh berries.
Breakfast: Eggs, Sandwich, or Waffles
• Cook 1 egg plus 2 egg whites, omelet style, in 1 tsp olive oil. Top with 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and tarragon, and a pinch of sea salt. Serve with 1/4 cantaloupe, sliced, plus 1 piece whole-grain toast spread with 1/2-oz goat cheese.
• Have a wrap, such as Starbucks Spinach & Feta Breakfast Wrap or Cosi Roasted Veggie and Egg White Wrap.
• Top 2 whole-grain blueberry waffles, such as Van's Organics, with 1 1/2 tsp pure maple syrup and 1 fresh nectarine, sliced.
Lunch: Sandwich or Sushi
(300 calories each)
Turkey Arugula Sandwich
• Stuff a 2-oz whole-grain baguette portion with 1 TBSP creamy horseradish sauce, 1 1/2 oz smoked turkey, and 1 1/2 cups baby arugula. Enjoy with 1 large sliced tomato sprinkled with sea salt and balsamic vinegar.
Sushi to go
• Order 1 (6-piece) vegetarian sushi roll, such as avocado with brown rice. Serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger to taste, plus 3/4 cup steamed edamame.
Lunch: Salad Options
Confetti Mexican Salad
• Toss together 2 cups finely chopped romaine, 1 cup finely chopped red cabbage, 1/2 cup each diced yellow squash and quartered grape tomatoes, 1/3 cup finely diced or shredded fennel bulb or carrot, 1/4 cup each canned white and black beans, drained, 1 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro, 1 tsp olive oil, juice of 1/2 lime, and sea salt to taste. Serve with 8 blue corn tortilla chips and 1/4 cup salsa.
Serrano Chicken Caesar
• Toss 3 cups romaine lettuce with 2 TBSP low-cal Caesar dressing, 3 1/2 oz pre-grilled chicken breast strips, 1 minced serrano pepper, and 2 tsp sunflower seeds. Serve with 15 grapes or 1/8 honeydew melon.
Lunch: Gyro or Frozen Entree
• Grill a garden veggie burger, cut into thin strips, and season to taste with paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper; place in 1/2 large whole-grain pita, and add 1/3 cup extra-thin slices of orange bell pepper, 2 TBSP tzatziki sauce (or mixture of hummus and plain yogurt), and 2 TBSP fresh parsley or chives. Enjoy with 2 cups mixed salad greens topped with 1/8 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1 tsp olive oil, and lemon juice to taste.
• Heat up an organic or all-natural frozen entrée (about 275 calories), such as Amy's Indian Mattar Tofu or CedarLane Low Fat Chicken Burrito. Enjoy with 2 cups mesclun tossed with 1/3 cup diced cantaloupe, 1/8 cup diced red onion, and a splash of fresh lime juice.
Dinner: Turkey Burger or Veggie Sandwich
(450 calories each)
Mediterranean Turkey Burgers
• Pan-cook or panini-grill 2 thin (2-oz) lean turkey burgers. Arrange in alternating layers with 2 large pieces roasted red bell pepper, 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, and 12 large basil leaves. Top with slices from 1/4 avocado. Serve on a bed of 1/2 cup steamed red quinoa, with lemon wedges.
Veggie to go
• Select a fast casual restaurant vegetarian meal (about 450 calories), such as Panera Bread Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich (on rye, no feta). Or go a la carte at Panera: low-fat garden vegetable with pesto soup, Caesar salad (skip the croutons), and an apple.
Dinner: Shrimp Salad or Thai Salmon
Shrimp Salad & Corn
• Toss 2 cups salad greens with 10 large grilled shrimp, 1 cup chopped fresh or grilled seasonal veggies, such as broccoli, zucchini, carrots, or sweet onion, and 2 TBSP vinaigrette of choice. Enjoy with 1 ear grilled corn with 1/2 tsp butter and 2 tsp grated Romano cheese, plus a 1 1/2-oz whole-grain roll with 1/2 tsp butter.
Thai Salmon & Soba
• Brush 5 oz wild Alaskan salmon with 1 tsp sesame oil and grill or pan-grill. Serve with 8 grilled asparagus spears and 1 1/2 cups soba (buckwheat) noodles tossed with 1 1/2 TBSP Thai peanut sauce and garnished with 2 TBSP each minced fresh scallions and red cabbage.
Snacks: Fruit or Frozen Yogurt
(150 calories each)
• 3/4 cup fresh raspberries and 1 (3/4-oz) piece of dark chocolate
• 1 small (6-inch) or 1/2 large banana cut into 10 slices crosswise and paired with 1/2 tsp chocolate-hazelnut spread between each pair, then frozen
• 1 scoop (1/2 cup) fat-free frozen yogurt, like Stonyfield Gotta Have Java, in a sugar cone
Snacks: Berries, Nuts, and More
• 2 cups sliced strawberries tossed with 1 1/2 tsp honey or agave nectar and 1 tsp white balsamic or Champagne vinegar
• 1 cup snow peas with 1/4 cup hummus
• Smoothie of choice (up to 150 calories), such as an 8-oz V8 V-Fusion Mango Smoothie
• 15 roasted pistachios with 1 oz aged goat cheese or Gouda