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Right. Some of you said you’d be interested in seeing me talking about how I manage to eat optimally, especially if I included recipes. (Uh-huh. I know what you really care about there.) So here we go.

After last week’s meltdown, I decided to start actively working on my optimal eating again. I have a bunch of strategies and guidelines for it, but getting all of them rolling can take some effort, so I’m taking it one step at a time.

Some of my classic tactics are keeping easy foods around. So I keep a stock of Things I Can Almost Always Eat (sorry, looks like it’s a Significant Capitals Day) so that when my hunger catches me unawares, I can eat something before the nausea and panic set in, and I have time to make something more substantial. Some of these things are: goldfish crackers, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, cheese, crackers, pickled things (asparagus, green beans, beets, generally eaten as accompaniment to cheese and crackers), pistachios, milk, sometimes apples or other fruit. I also keep easy-to-prepare default meal foods around, the most common being sushi rice and edamame, boxed mac-n-cheese (Annie’s, not Kraft, and I add stuff; leave me alone, it gets the job done), and pasta with whatever’s handy on top. Krab and fishcakes have started making appearances in my fridge, too. Things I can nearly always convince myself to swallow, and don’t take a lot of brain power to prepare.

I also need things I can carry around with me, as it’s really hard for me to eat while I’m running errands. There are all those snacky bards, of course, and Lara or Luna bars are sometimes good, but often too sweet. Dichroic suggested the sweet-and-salty Mojo bars by Clif in the comments on that previous post, and those seem to be pretty tasty. Carrying around the little boxes of almond milk helps, too. Nuts are a good choice, but I have to remember to put them in something I can carry easily, and a beverage becomes more important with those. I’m hoping on figuring out how to make my own, savory, protein-packed bars or cookies soon.

But the first piece of the project pretty much had to be breakfast, particularly The Return of the Dreaded Protein Drink. Oh, ugh. My dad used to do these when I was a kid, and he’d refer to them as his “pukey drink” or just “puke”. (Um, yeah, sorry to anyone with a weak stomach. Promise it’s my last mention in this post.) Now, he was using some artificially-flavored powder and dumping it in water or juice or something, and not mixing it up all that well, and it was, indeed, pretty gross. I, on the other hand, get unflavored whey powder (Jarrow brand, nothing but whey and soy lecithin), and mix it with tasty things, and it becomes quite reasonably drinkable, even pleasant. I generally have to eat something bread-ish (waffles, pastry, toast, croissant, biscuit, whatever) along with it to feel full, but the protein gets me moving. It also cues my body that today is an Eating Optimally Day, and my hunger signals get a lot clearer and a lot harder to ignore, which makes eating more often later in the day a lot easier.

This week’s project will be lunch, with bentos featuring prominently, both for me and for my fiancee Kate. Bentos are great because they’re highly portable, but also good for days I stay home, because I can make mine while I make hers, and then I have my lunch all ready to eat whenever I want it, and I don’t have to stop to think and then make something.

But this week’s project was the shakes. So here are some of my tastier protein shake creations:

Orange or Orange-Strawberry Creamsicle
8 ounces orange juice
1 scoop whey powder
1 dollop heavy cream (it smoothes out the grainy feel, and butterfat is AWESOME)
2-3 ice cubes OR 3-4 frozen strawberries
Blend with an immersion blender

Pomegranate Blueberry
5 ounces almond milk
3 ounces pomegranate juice
1 scoop whey powder
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
optional: a little sugar or honey, to taste
Blend.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry
8 ounces chocolate almond milk (I mix sweetened and unsweetened)
1 scoop whey powder
3-4 frozen strawberries
Blend.

Nutella Shake
8 ounces almond milk
1 scoop whey powder
1-2 tablespoons Nutella or similar*
1-2 ice cubes
Blend, more thoroughly than usual.

*I have just found a really awesome Nutella-alternative, since actual Nutella is way way way too sweet. Justin’s Natural Chocolate Hazelnut Butter rocks my world. Only lightly sweet, good short ingredient list, and you can really taste both the cocoa and the hazelnuts. Haven’t tried it in a shake yet because it’s a chunkier texture than Nutella, and probably won’t blend as well, but I thought I would mention its awesomeness.

There. Maybe I’ll make this a regular-ish Monday post, The Optimal Eating Project (With Recipes).

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