The Formula for a Seriously Satisfying Grain Bowl

So raise your hand if you love a good grain bowl 🙋

Also known as power bowls, buddha bowls or clean-out-the-fridge bowls. They are pretty much my current lunch obsession and I think you might like them too! Consider this your tutorial to make one that is equal parts satisfying and delicious. If you like meal prepping, you will love these because it’s simple to batch cook a few of the components then totally wing it on the rest.

 The formula for a seriously satisfying grain bowl

A few of these items are on my Power 10 list, which means I tend to keep them on hand for throw-together meals anyway. I swear that even on days when it seems like there’s absolutely nothing to eat, if you keep your kitchen stocked you’ll be able to throw something similar together in 10 minutes. These also make for a quick and easy packed lunch! Just throw a bunch of stuff in a bowl and call it good.

More importantly than being able to make something on the fly is making something that’s actually tasty and satisfying too.

Similar | The Formula for a Seriously Satisfying Winter Salad

I get peeved when I see Instagram photos of a bowl that’s super impractical. While beautiful, I would rather not eat a bowl of raw vegetables topped with a whole avocado and bee pollen for lunch. We can do better you guys!

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Here’s what you need:

  • Grain, preferably a whole grain (quinoa, farro, rice, bulgur, wheat berries, couscous)

  • Protein (beans, lentils, over-easy egg, rotisserie chicken, canned fish)

  • Leafy greens (salad greens like arugula or leaf lettuce, sautéed kale or chard)

  • Crunchy vegetable (carrots, shredded red cabbage, thinly sliced radish or celery)

  • Fruit (apples or pears, fresh berries, dried cherries, dates, pom seed)

  • Olives or Nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, sliced almonds, honey-roasted peanuts)

  • Avocado or Cheese (smoked gouda, crumbled feta/bleu/goat or parmesan, nutritional yeast)

  • Sauce (balsamic vinaigrette, tahini, caesar, tzatziki, hummus)

The cool thing is that you can customize this based on your own dietary needs and preferences and still end up with something balanced and filling. Perfect for anyone who says salads aren’t worthy of a meal.

 grain bowl formula

Food Pairings

It can take some practice to build a bowl with flavors that pair well together, but after a few tries you’ll be a pro. My main strategy is to pair things that have a more mild flavor, then pull it all together with a super flavorful sauce. Make a full batch of a really delicious homemade dressing at the beginning of the week so you can use it for several days. I really love this tahini ranch from Bon Appetit.

Need inspiration? Here are a few tried and true combinations that you can try building on:

farro + cherries (or dried cherries) + arugula + bleu cheese

quinoa + chicken + berries + feta

brown rice + red cabbage + chicken + peanuts + peanut sauce

couscous + feta + olives + cucumber + tomatoes

Food Prepping

If you want to get ambitious and do some prep for the upcoming week, pick 1-2 items from each of the categories above and make sure everything is prepped and ready to go (cook grains, wash greens, make a batch of dressing, etc.).

When it’s time to eat, it’s as simple as pulling out all of your ingredients and assembling something delicious. Experiment with different combinations until you find your favorites!

If you make grain bowls, leave me a comment with your favorite variations.

What I've Learned In Three Months of Self-Employment

Today is special because it marks three months since I took the leap from corporate office job into full-time entrepreneurship. I remember feeling so energized, and also slightly terrified, when I left work on that last day. My income potential was completely in my own hands. Also, my income potential was now completely in my own hands 😬

I have to say that the idea of coming up with an idea, then working your tail off to bring it to fruition is insanely rewarding. There’s also some not-so-great things that come with owning a business and I would be remiss if I hid the fact that I experience challenges on an almost daily basis. I wanted to write this post for anyone who is either considering making a similar move in their career, or someone who already has and feels lost and hopeless with where they are.

Here are six things I’ve learned since starting this crazy self-employment adventure.

 Leanne Ray | Denver Registered Dietitian

Sometimes you have to pivot, and be okay with it.

If you know me well, you know that I’m someone who always has a plan. I find immense satisfaction in looking ahead weeks, months and years and dreaming about where I could be by that point in time. I’m extremely detail-oriented (total walking dietitian stereotype) and I make lists about lists. Actually, I just recently took a personality test and my results indicated that these are a few ways to get along well with me:

  • Leave me alone when I’m doing my work.

  • Help me keep my environment harmonious and peaceful.

  • Tell me when you're proud of me or my accomplishments.

I swear I’m not a totally mean, stand-off-ish person! But these are surprisingly true. Imagine my dismay when what I originally set out to accomplish doesn’t actually work. I quickly learned that sometimes it’s necessary to switch directions and try something new without spending too much time dwelling that the “million-dollar idea” I had didn’t land. One thing that I didn’t have in my original business plan: the Healthy Buzz podcast which is turning out to be one of my favorite projects to date!

In-person connection is more important than an online presence.

Social media is fun and a great way to connect with other like-minded people. I also love it as a tool to showcase my personality and nutrition approach, portray my business mission and educate people in playful and creative way. One thing that social media isn’t: a catchall marketing tool.

There’s a difference between interacting and engaging and actually generating revenue. While I knew this probably wouldn’t be my biggest client referral source, I was surprised at just how few people came to me this way.

I also want to say that I thought I knew a lot about various social media platforms but there is always SO much more to learn. It’s one thing to use Facebook and Instagram regularly - it’s completely different to actually understand the strategy behind turning it into an effective business tool.

focus on serving first.

This one comes straight from one of my biggest sources of inspiration in the online business world - Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. His mission is largely focused on providing value and serving customers above all else and he is extremely generous to his fans.

Now, of course every business owner is providing something of value because otherwise, um, it wouldn’t be a business. HOWEVER, I think a lot of entrepreneurs are primarily focused on making money as fast as possible, instead of providing great customer service and building genuine relationships for long-term partnerships.

Real talk: I do have bills to pay and I can’t just be giving away my time for free. But I do subscribe to the theory that if you focus on solving a problem and showing compassion first, ideas on how to make it mutually beneficial will come.

Staying On Task Can be hard.

I get daily business tips in my inbox by an entrepreneur named Larry Jansky and I would highly recommend it to others. He provides short and powerful tidbits of knowledge that start my day on a positive (and motivating!) note. One of the most recent emails he sent said, “You can get ahead by simply controlling your attention - because most people don't do a good job of it”. How true is this?!

Working from home by yourself without anyone looking over your shoulder is a tricky dynamic to get used to. If you go down a black hole on You Tube for a half hour, no one will know, but your productive will suffer because of it. Here are some things I’ve personally changed to improve my focus during the day:

  • Turned off mobile notifications on Facebook. I just counted, and I’m in 27 different groups on Facebook (mostly business-related, some just for fun). TWENTY SEVEN. I get a lot of value out of these, but it’s a way more efficient use of time to designate specific blocks throughout the day to check-in and spend 10 or so minutes catching up and contributing to the conversation, rather than staying constantly connected.

  • Started using Todoist. This might be my favorite new tool of 2018. It seems so simple, but it’s basically a glorified to-do list with drag and drop capability and a color-coding system to help with prioritization. I still love my paper lists, but it’s nice to have access to this at all times (via computer or app). I start every day prioritizing this list.

  • Learned to batch tasks. If you were to ask me what a normal day looks like, it would be really hard to answer. On any given day I could be working with clients (or creating new materials for them), writing blog posts and social media content, networking, creating new recipes, or giving a presentation at a workplace. Just like in cooking, I’ve found it helpful to batch similar tasks together instead of flying by the seat of my pants. If I want to photograph a recipe, it makes more sense to do two or three while I have everything out. If I’m in writing mode, I may as well knock out a couple of pieces of content.

Efficiency is a key indicator of success.

Also known as, “work smarter, not harder”. It took awhile for this to sink in with me. I could easily work on my business late into the night, early in the morning and all afternoon on weekends if I didn’t set boundaries. I think deep down I felt like if I was always busy, that would equate to more business and the perception that I was killing it (so dumb - but so true). The reality is, not only is this totally unnecessary, it’s an implosion waiting to happen.

After being left to my own devices every day, I quickly learned that if this whole thing was going to work, I’d have to come up with a model that adds tremendous value to my customers but also makes sense for my own emotional well-being. This is why I’m constantly making changes to my offerings based on client feedback and my own learning experiences. p.s. I’ve got some big changes coming to my coaching services in 2019 and I can’t wait to share them!

Persistence is everything.

These things take time to build, and there are so many hard decisions to be made along the way. I’m a big believer that persistence is HUGE because sometimes it would be way easier to quit when things get hard.

Persistence is my word of the year because I wanted to prepare myself for the times when I had these self-doubting thoughts or second-guessed my decision to go solo. If there is one thing to take away from this article, it’s to remember that you are unique and have something special to offer the world (as said by Marie Forleo). Sometimes it just takes time to figure out how to deliver the message in a way that resonates with a large group of people.

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3 Tips for Avoiding a Halloween Candy Binge

Halloween is coming friends! With that comes the joy of costumes, spooky decorations and more candy than anyone really needs.

Candy can be a tricky thing (see what I did there?). On one hand, Halloween is only one day out of the year so why all the fuss? Some might argue that it’s silly to put a limit on candy and celebrating in schools because “let kids be kids”.

On the other hand, we are all familiar with how early grocery stores start rolling out the candy, and how long it can linger around the house. So is it really just one day?

As with most controversial issues, I find myself somewhere in middle. I encourage my clients to take candy off of the pedestal where it often resides. I also understand the power of creating a supportive environment, and I realize that as humans we often make decisions out of convenience. Today I wanted to share a few manageable strategies for avoiding a candy binge using one of my favorite models - the ABC assessment tool!

Halloween Blog.png

Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence

When I was still working in an office, I clearly remember the break room conversation that started around this time of year and continued all the way through the new year. It was basically equal parts contemplation, restriction and guilt.

I find that most people:

  1. Don’t think they should be eating candy

  2. Have a hard time completely abstaining from it

  3. End up overdoing it, then

  4. Feel totally bad about themselves for doing so.

The Antecedent, Behavior, Consequence (or ABC) assessment tool is just one way to observe problematic behaviors and then get to the root cause.

 ABCs of behavior observation
  • Antecedent: the events, action, or circumstances that occur before a behavior

  • Behavior: the behavior

  • Consequences: the action or response that follows the behavior

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Knowing this, if the goal is to change the outcome (or consequence), the first step is to modify the antecedent! Use this simple model to think about a current behavior that you want to change. Then think about what circumstances could be shifted around to make the behavior easier.

Here are three different ways you can change an antecedent using the candy example so you head into Halloween feeling prepared and empowered!

Buy only what you need

The giant bags of candy are perfectly arranged and waiting for you at the store and if you have a sweet tooth, it can be tempting to buy more than you need to make sure you get some too. However by doing this, you might be setting yourself up to make a difficult decision every.single.time you walk by the candy bowl.

As an alternative, buy only how much you think you’ll need, and and then come up with a plan for what to do with the leftovers. Here are some ideas:

  • Donate it to a local dentist office or charity

  • Freeze it for later use

  • Bake something that you can bring to a game night/football watch party/any other social event and distribute the wealth!

Focus on regular meals & snacks

If you know you’ll start seeing more candy in the days leading up to Halloween, be extra diligent about eating regular, balanced meals and snacks to keep yourself nourished and energized, sans the sugar.

The benefits are two-fold: this prevents you from getting overly hungry and can also help prevent the inevitable sugar crash that comes from eating sweets on an empty stomach.

Along with timing, make it a point to include high fiber (fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains), high protein eats for your main meals and snacks on these days. Wondering what this might look like? Here’s an example:

Breakfast - Whole grain toast + scrambled eggs + avocado

Snack - Yogurt with berries

Lunch - Fall Salad in a Jar (I’m obsessed with this salad!)

Snack - Apple + peanut butter (might include a piece of candy or two here)

Dinner - Parmesan crusted salmon with brown rice and asparagus

 balanced breakfast of eggs, muffin and peach

Come up with a game plan

Lastly, if you really love and look forward to a certain type of candy, come up with a game plan for how you can enjoy it in moderation. If you vow to completely restrict, there’s a good chance you’ll think about it even more and let me tell you, you have better things to think about!

Here are some ideas for how to strategically include your favorites:

  • you might commit to eat a full meal before having any candy

  • you might decide to pair the candy with some fruit

  • you might plan to sit down and enjoy any candy you do eat, free of distractions

Hold yourself accountable by writing down your game plan and hanging it somewhere visible as a reminder. If you need some assistance, I’d be happy to help!

What are your thoughts on Halloween? I would love to hear them in the comments 👇👇


If you struggle with situations like this on a regular basis, you might be a great candidate for 1:1 nutrition coaching and support! Schedule your free 15-minute intro call to learn more.