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Balanced Meal Prep 101

Whether you like it or not, we are approaching the end of summer, and chances are your schedules are starting to fill up again. But a busy schedule does not mean your healthy eating habits have to be paused. If fact, balanced meals can be your saving grace, giving your body fuel to get through your day with high energy and a clear mind. Today we are going to go over methods to plan your meals ahead of time, so you can stick to your health goals even on your busiest days.

Our primary focus is going to be Meal Prepping. Despite what you might think, making a week’s worth of meals ahead of time doesn’t have to consume your entire weekend. Rather than making 4-5 unique meals, meal prepping generally involves making a large batch of the same meals or foods. This condensed version of cooking is a major reason why meal prepping saves time.

There are a couple of different ways to meal prep.

  • Half-Prepped Meals: This method involves putting together a dish ahead of time, and either half cooking it or fully cooking it before storing it in the fridge or freezer. When you’re ready to eat, simply reheat or finish cooking the dish and enjoy. This can be particularly helpful for dinners, or when you are feeding multiple people. Some examples might be lasagna, Chili, Enchiladas, Pot Pies, etc.
  • Batch Cooking: Similar to the above method, but before you package the dish for the fridge or freezer, you would divide everything into individual portions to be reheated for a quick lunch or dinner.
  • Ingredient Prep: With this method, instead of preparing meals, you prep different ingredients that can then be paired together to create multiple different meals throughout the week. This method is great if still want to save time, but you easily get sick of eating the same thing multiple days in a row. Some examples of this meal prep style might be to cook a bunch of chicken, beans, a grain, and roasted vegetables. With those ingredients, you can add the chicken to salads, make quick and simple Buddha Bowls, or throw together a hearty burrito wrap.
  • Pre-made meal services: The full hands-off approach, simply order your meals pre-made from a meal service provider. No cooking, no planning, simply pick up at the start of the week and reheat as needed. This method is ideal if you are really strapped for time, or you simply don’t want to deal with cooking anything yourself.

Depending on what your goals are, and what your schedule looks like, some of the methods listed above may be better for you than others.

The next thing to look at is what types of foods are actually good for meal prep, or rather what combinations of foods. For instance, you can portion out a week’s worth of salads, but keep the dressing and any croutons/crunchy toppings separate. Otherwise, at the end of the week, you’ll be eating a soggy mess that’s lost all its crisp freshness. The same goes for burgers, sandwiches, or wraps. In general, you want to keep ‘wet’ things away from ‘dry’ things when necessary.

Some ingredients/foods that work really well for meal prep:

  • Cooked protein (except for fried)
  • Cooked tofu, tempeh, and other vegetable proteins
  • Cooked quinoa, rice, and pasta
  • Cooked legumes
  • Medium roasted vegetables
  • Fresh crunchy vegetables (think carrots, cabbage, kale, broccoli)
  • Cheese
  • Roasted nuts
  • Hummus, tzatziki, or other sauces/dips
  • Soups, casseroles, or other one-pot dishes
  • Smoothies
  • Overnight Oats

This is not an exhaustive list, but even within these options, you can put together a huge variety of meals. What you choose to make is a matter of your personal taste, your budget, and how much variation you want throughout the week.

 

Balance is important

As we stated at the begging of this post, the key to successful meal prep is building a balanced meal. A massive plate of spaghetti might be filling and easy to prep, but we would argue that it’s not the most nutritious fuel to get you through the day.

When it comes to planning your meals, we suggest including a protein + grain + vegetable. Or, if you want to minimize carbs, go with a protein + vegetable x2. Throw in some healthy fats and dairy when you want to, but you don’t want to skip out on the protein or veggies. Why is this balance so important? because each of these food groups serves a different purpose. Proteins help repair your body and maintain strength, and will help you feel full for longer. Carbs, or grains, help provide immediate access to energy. Vegetables provide necessary fiber, vitamins, and nutrients to help maintain a healthy digestive system and a strong immune system, among other important benefits.

Some great examples of balanced meals:

  • Tofu veggie stir-fry, with rice OR cauliflower rice
  • Sheet Pan Fajitas with chicken, peppers, onions, and fresh herbs
  • Italian stuffed peppers made with ground turkey and quinoa
  • Chimichurri steak with cilantro lime rice, and roasted vegetables

 

Meal Prep at IG

Maybe you’re not used to meal planning, maybe this still sounds like a lot of work, or too time-consuming. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t give up hope yet. One of our primary pillars at IG is to provide our customers with healthy & convenient meals. We know it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, so we’ve taken steps to provide multiple meal prep options.

If you’re wanting a hands-off, fully prepared meal prep service that you can order, pick up, and enjoy, then we’ve got you covered.

On the other hand, if you prefer having ingredients and prepared dishes you can mix and match throughout the week, we’ve got a solution for you too. Our deli cases are full of fresh options that you can purchase by weight, so you can get as little or as much as you need. We always have vegan dishes, lean protein and seafood, and a huge variety of salads and vegetables to pair together. Imagine a whole foods deli/salad bar, but everything is made with local organic ingredients, with plenty of gluten-free, sugar-free, and keto-friendly options.

We know that planning meals ahead of time is not for everyone and that there is joy in spontaneity and following a craving when something sounds so perfect in the moment. But we also hope that this post has helped to shed light on the benefits of meal planning, and how versatile and convenient it can be when you really need it. Meal prepping is a great way to save time on cooking, without sacrificing your health and nutrition goals. We hope that you give it a try, and we’d love to hear your favorite meal prep tips and tricks! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

How to Use Food to Rock Your New Year’s Resolutions, All Year Long

This post is NOT about losing weight. In fact, that resolution isn’t even going to be mentioned, because you know why? I’m SICK OF IT! Aren’t you? Of course, you can use food to lose weight (studies show it’s more effective to control your diet than increase exercise if you have to choose), but let’s dig a little deeper this year and go after what we really want to maintain your New Years Health goals.

1. Resolution: Be Happier 

It’s a simple one, but it’s what we’re really after with all the other resolutions isn’t it? Even when you have a great family, work you love, and live in a beautiful part of the country that hovers between 60 and 80 degrees in the dead of winter – you can still feel down more often than you’d like. Stop punishing yourself for being ungrateful – that’s not it. Unless you need to make real changes in your life (maybe you do!), these downtimes are chemical. And that means you can lift yourself back up with food. 

There was an interesting study on PBS recently that linked inflammation with depression. This means that an anti-inflammatory diet could significantly help symptoms of depression. Two especially powerful anti-inflammatory foods (or supplements) you can try are: 

  • Turmeric (curcumin) 
  • Omega-3 (fish, or fish oil) 

2. Resolution: Be Healthier 

Boost energy and fight disease this year by incorporating these 5 foods into your daily life. Yes, daily.

  1. Lemons – Anti-inflammatory, inhibits cancer cell growth, increases “good” cholesterol levels, vitamin C.
  2. Broccoli – Anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting rock-star, vitamin K & vitamin C combo builds healthy bones.
  3. Dark Chocolate – 1/4th oz daily reduces blood pressure & bad cholesterol, and improves your mood!
  4. Salmon/Fish/Flax Seeds/Walnuts – Omega-3 fatty acids help the brain work better, reduce bad cholesterol, and reduce the risk for heart disease. 
  5. Spinach – Anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting, and eye-health-improving. Toss a handful in with your eggs every morning! 

3. Resolution: Spend More Time With Loved Ones 

Invite some friends over to cook a healthy meal together – and schedule these dinners as often as you’d like.  We’re all so busy that if we don’t schedule in time with friends and loved ones, it never happens. So put a few dinner dates on your calendar. Here’s an idea: Make a game of it by inviting a friend to walk through your local farmer’s market with you, choose some “mystery” ingredients, and see what you can do with them when you get back! 

Don’t like to cook, but still want the healthy dinner? We’ve got you covered. Just serve everyone Intelligent Gourmet! 

Share your new years health goals with us! What are your favorite tools and healthy habits?


New Years Health | How to Use Food to Rock Your New Year’s Resolutions, All Year Long

Reasons to Incorporate Fresh Juice into your Diet

It’s no secret that there are many reasons to incorporate fresh juice into your diet. Today, we are sharing five reasons why you should add juicing to your everyday

Reasons to Try Juicing for Health

Keeps you Hydrated: As part of a balanced diet, it is important to keep up with your intake of water, fruits, and vegetables. Conveniently, fruits and vegetables with higher water concentrations are found in our juice recipes because of the high amount of water they contain. Due to the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, you are getting both water and other important nutrients – this helps your body stay hydrated.

Strengthens Bones: It is important for us to consume minerals, such as calcium, in order to maintain healthy bones and teeth. One easy way to increase your calcium intake is through the foods you eat and drink. Two easy veggies that are high in calcium, and so easy to add when juicing, are kale or spinach. They are a staple to so many of our juice recipes! 

Boost Energy: While caffeine and energy drinks are great for a kick, they can cause us to crash and burn. However, when you treat yourself to a natural, long-lasting energy drink filled with fruits and vegetables, you will be giving your body the combination of nutrients it needs to keep going all day long.

Reduces Stress: Giving your body the proper nutrition it needs will allow it to regulate itself and keep your stress levels down. The more vitamins and antioxidant dense foods you consume, the more easily you will be to cope with stress. Eating certain foods, such as blueberries or leafy greens can help your diet – make it super easy and add them to your juicing routine. 

Better Sleep At Night: You are more likely to feel more relaxed at night when your body has the power it needs to get through the day. Juice can help give your body what it needs to fall asleep naturally at night. Fruits, such as pineapples, bananas, and oranges contain melatonin naturally, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep cycles.

Looking for Healthy Food Near Me? We welcome you into Intelligent Gourmet today to try some of our juice combinations. Juicing is an efficient, yet simple way to get in your helping of fruits and vegetables; in one serving of our juice, you can get multiple servings of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytonutrients in one serving. Often times, juicing is easier for the body to digest, compared to solid foods and makes it easier for the flow of fluid to run through your system. There are so has many benefits to juicing – stop in and see our juicing menu, we would love to help you find the perfect recipe to match just what you are looking for.

If you are looking to incorporate juicing for health into your diet, reach out or stop in Intelligent Gourmet in Tampa, FL. We have many recipes for you to try and can easily become your favorite “healthy food near me” lunch destination.

4 Vegan Lunch Ideas If You Are On the Go

If you are looking for vegan lunch ideas, Intelligent Gourmet in Tampa is here for you. We offer healthy, vegan meals so that you can stop searching “healthy food near me.” If you would like to start eating healthier and incorporate vegan meals into your diet, contact us at Intelligent Gourmet in Tampa or visit our website to learn more.

 

1) Quinoa Salad

 

Roasted vegetables make this salad rich in flavor and color. Try zucchini and red bell peppers for a truly beautiful and delicious dish. To enhance the flavor and make it memorable, use Moroccan or Mediterranean spices.

You may also choose to add in chickpeas to really lean into the Moroccan flavor or you could select a black bean and change the vegetables to tomatoes and corn for a Southwestern Quinoa salad.  

 

2) Mason Jar Sushi

 

Perfect for those who are on the go, mason jar meals give you the best combination of layers of flavor with the convenience of a mason jar. You can utilize layers of white rice with layers of zucchini and avocado with cabbage or you can switch up the vegetables every layer to give yourself the sensation of having many different types of rolls. Don’t skimp on the essential ingredients that will truly bring out the sushi flavor such as nori and sesame oil.

 

3) White Bean Pita Pockets

 

Base your pita pocket with lettuce then layer it with white bean, tomato, zucchini, and avocado. You can also create a dairy-free sauce for the pocket with by using dairy-free yogurt, lemon, and Dijon mustard. If you want to build on the flavor more, you can add different vegetables or you can switch out the sauce for a vinaigrette for a lighter flavor. The white bean is also lovely in a salad if you do not want to include the carbs of the pita pocket.

 

4) Basil and Tomato Pinwheels

 

Use a wrap to build a base and swap out the typical lettuce with basil. Use cherry tomatoes and slice them to fit in the wrap. You can also include olives and spinach for a truly rich flavor. For those who want to opt for a sauce or cheese substitute, you can use a hummus line the inside of the wrap or opt for a dairy-free ricotta made with almond milk and crushed cashews.

 

Would You Like More Vegan Lunch Ideas?

 

If you would like more vegan lunches to supplement your healthy diet, contact Intelligent Gourmet. We specialize in delicious, organic meals that showcase the diversity of vegan meals. Stop searching “healthy food near me” and visit Intelligent Gourmet today.

 

Contact Us

 

Intelligent Gourmet is located in Tampa and we are here so that you do not have to worry about having vegan lunch ideas. Simply come in and stop searching “healthy food near me.” Contact us to learn more about our menu or visit our website to see how vegan meals are better for you.

5 Reasons Why You Should Incorporate Fresh Juice into Your Diet

When you are searching for “healthy food near me,” Intelligent Gourmet in Tampa, FL suggests juicing for health to incorporate into your diet. With these tips you will realize how great juice is, and that the ingredients found in juice can make an overall difference in your diet.

 

Reasons to Try Juicing for Health

 

Keeps you Hydrated

As you know, water, fruits, and vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. Conveniently, fruits and vegetables with higher water concentrate are found in our juice recipes because of the amount of high amounts of water they contain. Due to the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, you are getting both water and other important nutrients. This in turn helps your body stay hydrated.

 

Strengthens Bones

It is important for us to consume minerals like calcium, in order to maintain healthy bones and teeth. One easy way to increase your calcium intake is through the foods you eat and drink. You can find calcium in juice products that contain kale or spinach.

 

Boost Energy

Caffeine and energy drinks can cause us to crash and burn. However, when you treat yourself to a natural, long-lasting energy drink filled with fruits and vegetables, you will be giving your body the combination of nutrients it needs to keep going all day long.

 

Reduces Stress

Giving your body the proper nutrition it needs will allow it to regulate itself and keep your stress levels down. The more vitamin and antioxidant dense foods you consume, the more likely you’ll be to cope with stress. Eating certain foods, such blueberries or leafy greens, or adding them into your juicing for health routine can help your diet.

 

Better Sleep At Night

You’re more likely to feel relaxed at night when your body has the power it needs to get through the day. Juice also gives your body what it needs to fall asleep naturally at night. Fruits such as pineapples, bananas, and oranges contain melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep cycles.

 

Looking for Healthy Food Near Me?

 

Come into Intelligent Gourmet today to try some of our juice combinations. Juicing is an efficient way to get in your helping of fruits and vegetables. You can get multiple servings of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and phytonutrients in less time than it would take to consume a typical meal serving. Juice is also sometimes easier for the body to digest than solid foods and makes it easier for the flow of fluid to run through your system. Juicing has many benefits and can help your diet in many ways you didn’t even know about. When you stop in to view our juicing menu, we can help you find the perfect recipe to match just what you are looking for.

 

Contact Us

 

If you are looking to incorporate juicing for health into your diet, reach out or stop in Intelligent Gourmet in Tampa, FL. We have many recipes for you to try and can easily become your favorite “healthy food near me” lunch destination.