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Living with Diabetes

Eating healthy at home on Coaches Corner

4/22/2020 by mySugr

Eating healthy at home on Coaches Corner

Learn more about eating healthy at home with mySugr Coaches Kristen & Maggie in this episode of Coaches Corner with Scott K. Johnson.

Tips & tricks for healthy and simple snacks and meals to make at home! 

Note: We cannot provide medical advice. Please contact your doctor directly for specific questions about your care.


  • Ideas for simple foods to eat at home
  • What to consider before grocery shopping
  • Tips for meal prepping



Scott K. Johnson - Hey, great to see you guys. Thanks so much for tuning into another episode of Coaches Corner. I hope you're holding up all right and hanging in there. These are stressful times for almost everyone, and we are full of gratitude and appreciation for all of you out there doing your part to get through this. One small way that mySugr can give back is by hosting these short conversations with our diabetes coaches to talk about staying healthy in body and mind during these unusual times. Now, with that, I have to give the standard disclaimer that we can not provide medical advice. Please contact your doctor directly for specific questions about your care. Now, with that out of the way, today I'm talking with Maggie and Kristen about healthy eating at home. Everything from what to think about before heading to the store, to what you can do once you get home, to make life easier and healthier. Let's have a look. All right, hi again friends, so great to have you with us again. So, you know, generally I feel like eating at home, I'm doing a lot more eating at home these days than I was before when I was out and about, and generally I feel like eating at home is healthier than eating out. But I also recognize that I could take some steps to make my eating at home a little bit healthier and also much easier, so let's talk through that. So, right now I want to minimize how much time I spend in the store, and make sure I'm getting the right things when I go there. What kind of things should I do even before I leave the house?

Kristen Bourque - That's a great question Scott. I feel like initially there was this, you go to the store and everything was just picked through, and it was so hard to kind of find what you needed. I remember I was so excited to get my hands on a jar of peanut butter after a couple of weeks. So, thankfully our stores are better well-stocked, but also, you know, again, we are realizing, you know, we don't have to stock up on frozen foods, there's plenty of healthy food options for us, to be able to go to the store, typically I would say once a week or so. I definitely recommend having some sort of plan in place, like you said, especially 'cause we're also trying to limit our time at the grocery store too. To have some sort of idea of what you're planning on making, what types of things are going to snack on. I know we don't have a lot of outside events, but typically if you had something planned, maybe you're going to order from a local restaurant one night. So plan for that in your week when you do your grocery list, and your meal plan for the week. That way it helps a lot of times, not only us to stay on track with healthier eating, stick on to our, of course, our budget. And again, we don't go in the store and just think, "Oh, did I have zucchini at home already? I forgot" or onions or whatnot. So it helps a little bit with that piece of it for sure.

Maggie Evans - I think also doing a quick scan of your kitchen, so scan your freezer, scan your fridge, scan your pantry and make sure that you know, kind of take stock of what you already have and what you don't. I know I'm the biggest culprit of this. If I don't do that and I don't have a list at the store, I'm like, oh yeah, I can grab a couple more cans of beans or I can grab another bag of rice and it's just like piling up at, you know, in my pantry or my fridge. So sometimes it's just taking that quick scan to make sure that either if you already have those ingredients at your house or, whatever else you need at the store, I think definitely helps as well.

Kristen Bourque - And that's a good point too, Maggie, is that, especially now, we are limiting our trips to the store, so ideally if we run out of flour, we don't want to just go to the store just to pick up something like that. So it's good to have, even if you run out, make a list that you have those things available or like you said, kind of scan the pantry ahead of time. So that you can put everything in that one big trip. 'Cause I did that just last week and I forgot to buy eggs. And I was like, no. So I waited a whole week without eggs, which is fine, but that will help us also to stay organized and limit those trips too.

Scott K. Johnson - That's really great. One thing that helps me when I go to the store too is trying not to go when I'm hungry or like the worst disaster for me is when I go and I'm like, I have a low blood sugar in the store because then everything looks and sounds good and I'm buying all kinds of stuff that I don't need. So, you guys have talked also about creating a meal plan and I enjoy having a meal plan, but what if I've never done a meal plan before? Where do I start? How do I know? How do I know what my meal plan should look like?

Kristen Bourque - I think that's a very good question. A lot of times people are, like I said, not sure where to start with that. So I think the first thing, I think Maggie and I would both agree, is don't make it over complicated. I think, we see people have all these fancy recipes and whatnot. We're just trying to again, make it through this time something healthy, something balanced, ideally, most of the time let's say. So again, I think it's important to, I would say make sure majority of your cart is filled with produce, so lots of veggies, lots of fruits and things that you can kind of incorporate in multiple dishes. So, again, looking at like you said Maggie what you have already. But I tend to do really well with just choosing a few recipes. I am, as we'll talk about in a minute, not the most savvy cook. So I follow a lot of recipes myself, I'm not a good winger. So kind of I'll look at the week ahead and figure out a couple of recipes or some easy things to make. And then kind of build my grocery list around that. I'll usually have a lot of simple breakfast and lunch staples. We're going to include a link of a website that has a lot of good meal planning tips and tools, for ideas and inspiration. That way you guys have a little help as well.

Maggie Evans - I think one of the biggest things too with meal planning and prepping is that it's going to look different for everyone, right? So what works for your friend at work might not be the same thing that you do because everyone's got different families, different preferences, different things that just work in general. You know, I think the most basic place to start is kind of just making recipes that you already make, but maybe making bigger amounts of them and then just having those leftovers for the week or you can even freeze them for later on. Things like that really help. You know, Kristin kind of mentioned too, like picking recipes where maybe there are a lot of similar ingredients. So instead of buying all these random things and your grocery bill racking up for that week, kind of streamlining that. So you're buying kind of all the same stuff. One method that I really appreciate that kind of tends to work for me personally in my household is something that I like to call batch cooking. And the concept of the batch cooking is really picking like three or four different main food items that you kind of eat throughout the week. But keeping them very plain and simple when you prepare them, right? So if I really use a lot of roasted vegetables throughout the week, I'll make two or three big sheet pans of roasted veggies and I just kind of pick through those throughout the week. Chicken is another really easy one. You can kind of bake that off or fry it off and it's really versatile. You can add it to a lot of different dishes. And then picking some type of protein, vegetable and then some type of high fiber grain source is another thing that I tend to kind of look at. So you could do like quinoa or brown rice or you know, even like a large batch of oatmeal, things like that that you kind of know, hey, I'm going to eat this throughout the week. But you don't have to flavor it a certain way. You kind of add those spices and add those different flavorings throughout the week. And that just makes it easier in terms of your food preparation throughout the week as well. And it's super simple. Yet again, you can just put stuff in the oven, forget about it for awhile, come back to it and it'll be ready for you for the week.

Scott K. Johnson - Those are some great tips. When it comes to making small swaps or improving the overall health of what I'm eating. One of the biggest bangs for the buck that I've found for myself is I'm swapping out like the simple carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates. Can you guys talk about that for a little bit?

Kristen Bourque - Yeah, that's a great, kind of thing to mention, Scott, is that, we talk a lot about, feeling full and satisfied too. So any kind of swap outs that you can make. Of course we always like to encourage more fruits and veggies since most of us don't get enough. So, but that's not always the same thing as a cracker. But, so say for example, taking a cracker, I love popcorn it's one of my favorites and it's a whole grain. So that can be a good way to elevate that food, kind of swap it out a little bit more nutritionally sound. So, but again, any type of way that you can incorporate vegetables. A lot of people love this whole cauliflower trend. You know, but it's not forever, but again, so you might hear some people saying instead of doing rice, we'll do cauliflower. But again, I think the biggest thing with that too is it has to be something that tastes good and that you like. We don't want nutrition just 'cause it's healthy. We don't want it to not taste good too. So it's okay to have the rice or, you know, again, the refined grain on occasion, as long as we're keeping it balanced in our whole day too. And just remember that portion size too.

Maggie Evans - I think another great way to kind of start incorporating some of these, you know, maybe less processed grains or things that have more fiber in them, maybe seem a little scary. Mix some with a little bit of the stuff that you're already eating. So, you know, so with the cauliflower rice, I think cauliflower has had, one of the biggest glow ups in years, right? But yeah, with cauliflower rice, you know, it doesn't have to all be cauliflower rice. You can put half cauliflower rice, half regular white rice and you're already making that swap right there. You still get some of the flavor of the rice that you feel comfortable with and then you still get some of the health benefits from the cauliflower. So it doesn't have to be an all or nothing attitude as well. We can just kind of incorporate these things nice and slowly into our diets and still kind of see some of the benefits too.

Scott K. Johnson - That's a great tip, and one that I incorporated into my lunches when I was at the office. I would take a one of these kind of premeasured minute rice cups of brown rice or wild rice. So that was one healthy swap there is swapping out the white rice for the more fiber rich brown rice or wild rice. But then I would also mix in a little bit of riced cauliflower to just give me more in my bowl to make me feel like I was eating a bigger bowl of stuff. And like I could never do a whole bowl of riced cauliflower because that was just not, that was just not for me.

Kristen Bourque - Right

Scott K. Johnson - I need the good, you know, regular rice to feel good about what I was eating for that meal. So I'm a big, you know, a big proponent of that idea of, you know, mix it in with some of the stuff that you know you already like or what you're doing. So I love that, I love that tip, that's great. All right, so now I've got my meal plan for the week. It's in front of me. What do I do with that, what's next? I still haven't gone to the store yet, right?

Kristen Bourque - Yeah, so from there I like to kind of have, again, what types of things I'm going to make for the week. And then from there I'll build the grocery list. And like Maggie said, to always scan your fridge and pantry to kind of get an insight because I might not be, again, using my egg example, I might be not be using them potentially for the week. You might not think of it, but that's something I make eggs pretty frequently, so I might not necessarily think to have it on my meal plan per se, but it's something I want to make sure to stock up. So yeah, so kind of having an idea of what types of, you know, simple breakfasts, lunches, anything like that. And again, very simple doesn't have to be over complicated. Oatmeal and things like that we touched on. And then from there, kind of pulling out what types of things I may not have at home to make, you know, and kind of pulling that list from there. I take an extra step and organize it by section. But that just kind of makes it easier for me, especially how a lot of these stores have like, you know, certain lines you have to go down. But I like to try to group my produce in one section, my protein and kind of go from there. So that way I'm not kind of taking extra time and going all around the store. But a good rule of thumb also is to kind of choose, your groceries, really should make up the majority of the outer aisles. That's usually where your produce is going to be found, your proteins. Nothing wrong with going in the aisles, but that's usually going to be where our more processed foods are. So that's also a good rule of thumb when we're building our grocery list is again, we want to make sure we're spending a lot of time on those outer edges of the store.

Maggie Evans - Got to agree with Kristen on that. I kind of nerd out and I'm making my grocery list a little bit and kind of visualize my flow in my typical grocery store. So I kind of stick with two or three main stores and I have the same path that I take through that store. So if I'm making my grocery list and I want to really streamline my shopping trip and I don't want to spend a lot of time there, I will visualize, okay, first I go through that produce aisle, then I'm going to hit the meat department, then I'm going to hit the eggs, you know, and just kind of make that your list go through that same path that you take and then that way you're just kind of grabbing things as you're going through, you're just crossing off that list and you don't feel like you have to like go to the bottom of your list and then go to the top of your list and then, oh dang it, I missed the eggs and, you know, things like that. So yeah, just kind of having that extra step of visualization can really save you a lot of time and worry in the store as well.

Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, I think that's such a big point right now where we're really trying to minimize our exposure and minimize the time that we spend there. So being efficient while we're there is a really big deal. You know, I think where the stores are at a point where they're kind of dealing better with the initial mad rush of things being out of stock and seem like they're more available but we still need to be a bit flexible if we can't find something that we're looking for, right?

Kristen Bourque - Yeah, I think that, like you said Scott, I think in recent weeks I've noticed there's not as much disconcern, but I think it's also important to remember I've talked to people more in kind of in rural areas that are having this kind of concern popup where there is maybe not a, especially for people who do like the curbside kind of grocery. I've had a family member that wasn't able to fulfill some of their order options. So I think it's also important to, you know, again to see what is available. But also there's nothing wrong, so say if you were going to have chicken in your dish and for some reason you weren't able to acquire it, can you swap out for beans, for example. So I think it's important to realize too is that even though we might have this list in mind, it really depends on where you live, I found. What, again, availability. So it's important to be flexible and just try to do the best you can in terms of that, and there's nothing wrong with doing canned options or frozen options. And those are also great to have in a pinch. So if you can get a couple of those things, if you're fresh, again, I dunno, peppers are out for example, you can use the frozen option if you have it available.

Maggie Evans - And kind of maybe taking advantage of stuff when it is at the store too. So I always look at if meat's on sale or common items that I know that I'm going to use that maybe are on sale, maybe canned items, frozen items. You know when you do see that and if you do have the luxury of modifying your budget in the moment to accommodate for that kind of initial investment, it's going to pay off in the end, right? So, I know that I can't get fresh chicken breasts for my dish this week, I might have a spare frozen one in the back of the freezer. So you know, when you are at the store, maybe kind of scanning out for future things as well and kind of keeping an eye for kind of just some initial investment for kind of the future dishes that you may make as well.

Kristen Bourque - And then actually going back to what Maggie mentioned about back scratching. So some people do struggle with having leftovers, are not a huge fan. So something you could also do is, maybe you have a soup that you made and have it for a couple of days during that week. Freeze it, and, you know, portion it in little containers and then that also can be used in the future too. So again, it's kind of that upfront cooking that will save you in this, you know, down the road.

Scott K. Johnson - That's great, I love that. All right, so I've gone to the grocery store. I've made my planned route, I've grabbed a few things that were taken advantage of sales or whatever I've gotten. It's a successful trip. Now I've gotten home with my groceries. What's next?

Kristen Bourque - So ideally we want to be more cautious of sanitizing our groceries because, again, we don't know how many people touched them before us and you know, the potential exposure of certain bacteria, right? So ideally depending on what you have, if it's a container of lettuce, ideally you'd want to sanitize that out. You do want to, again, when I would typically will do my veggies depending on when I eat them. But, so something like raspberries, I wouldn't clean off until I'm going to kind of use them because they won't last typically as long. But with veggies and stuff, you actually can fill a sink with some water, and depending on kind of the, they have certain cleaners and stuff too, but just to get a little of that grit off as well. But yeah, you do want to be a little bit more mindful, especially with the sanitizing aspect, just given kind of where we're at right now. And again, you're typically they're not doing reusable bags in most places and things like that too, so. And then after you're done, you want to make sure and sanitize the counter that everything was on as well.

Maggie Evans - Another good tip too, when you get home from the store, sometimes if I'm going to have, say buy veggies that I'm going to snack on throughout the week or maybe some fruit I'm going to snack on throughout the week, I try and prepare that as much as possible. So it's kind of ready to eat right away versus, you know, if I have a break from work for 10 minutes, it's very rare that I'm going to go in and peel some carrots, chop that celery and eat it. I might pick something a lot easier to eat. So for things like snacking vegetables, like carrots and celery, you can chop that stuff up and just put it in a glass of cold water and that'll help keep it fresh for at least the entire week so you can kind of pick through that stuff as well. I even just like pre-chopping my vegetables so that when I do have that opportunity to maybe start roasting some off or making a salad or anything like that, it's so much easier to take care of. I don't have to bring out that cutting board right away, and chop that stuff if it's already pre done after the store. And then, you know, for some of us too, I mean, I think sanitizing everything is definitely ideal, especially in the times that we are. Another thing too is just washing your hands more frequently when you are touching and preparing your food and maybe even, you know, just paying attention to cooking times and food safety protocols as well can be another way to kind of help prevent that spread if there's potentially something on your food as well.

Scott K. Johnson - Great, great tips. When it comes to cooking, I have to admit that I'm a bit overwhelmed. Like I'm no chef, I haven't done much cooking. I can burn a mean grilled cheese. But, you know, if you asked me to do anything else that's pretty questionable. Set me at ease with this new endeavor. Like how do I get started here?

Kristen Bourque - I have two words for you Scott, and they are sheet pan. I roast everything. So I am definitely not one of the more skilled dieticians that I know when it comes to cooking. But so I will tell you that's why I generally, Maggie mentioned roasting vegetables, but I like roasting because it brings out a lot of flavor, but it's super simple. So yes, you have to be mindful of not burning it and making sure it's cooked through. So if you're cooking a protein, but typically you can roast most protein options, they turn out really good. So whether it's chicken or fish in the oven and then again, veggies, you can kind of do pretty much anything. You know, asparagus, zucchini. So I like the sheet pan options and there's ones that are just one sheet pan with everything together. Because they're, kind of, just make it very simple. When you get to the stove top stuff, might turn it over to Maggie a little more on that. But I think that's also important to remember is, it doesn't have to be, again, super complicated. If you have a crock pot also a very great tool because again, a lot of times you just put everything in there, and just kind of let it go. Of course, checking on it every so often. So that's another kind of thing to remember too, is we don't want to spend a ton of time on the kitchen and doing all of these different things for it to taste good too, so.

Maggie Evans - I love the crock pot suggestion. It's funny, yesterday I literally made a crock, like a white chicken chili, like a green chili or whatever and literally dumped everything in the crock pot, couple cans of beans, chicken breast, dryer, salsa. And then eight hours later I had dinner and it was great. So I agree with Kristen, it doesn't have to be complicated. Super simple stuff, just roasting some vegetables, getting that protein on your plate, boiling off some greens and things like that. That's a meal right there. It doesn't have to be this Michelin chef type thing, you know? I will say though, with some of the extra time on our hands, that could be a great opportunity to kind of brush up on maybe some skills, right? So I always think of YouTube, there's Skillshare, there's these different websites and places out there where you can get just that kind of guided content to maybe learn some knife skills. Maybe learn how to kind of saute something or add more flavors or some foods. So if that's something that interests you, I'm not saying you have to do it, but we do have some of this time that maybe we can take advantage of learning a couple new skills in the kitchen that'll pay off leaps and bounds in the future too.

Kristen Bourque - I love that.

Scott K. Johnson - Great. Well, yeah, I feel better, I feel better, so thank you. As we wrap up, I know we covered a lot of great stuff and Kristen, we're going to follow this with a awesome shrimp skewer, shrimp with vegetables.

Kristen Bourque - Almost went in the oven, so there you go.

Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, I love that.

Kristen Bourque - Keep attesting to my sheets pan cooking.

Scott K. Johnson - That's great, that's great. Is there anything else that you guys want to mention, or leave our viewers with on this topic before we wrap it up?

Kristen Bourque - I think it's also important to remember too is it's okay to rely on things that are kind of helpful or already pre done. So I also love a good roasted chicken. So if you feel like you're maybe you are okay with doing the vegetables and whatnot, but maybe you're a little bit intimidated by, I don't know, cooking a whole chicken. So things like that can also be really great. You can use in like Maggie's thing to build on meals. So it's also okay to get a little bit of help. Even sometimes depending on your budget, there are like, the meat counter will have like stuff already skewered for you or marinated. So if those things kind of help, again, they're typically more expensive, but if it helps cut time for you, that's also again important to remember too is those are options. But again, just try to remember not to be overwhelmed with it is again, just aim for it to be balanced. And you know, like you said, Maggie, maybe you can kind of get in the kitchen and try some different stuff, but try to have fun with it too and realize that, there is always take out if you know things don't turn out as planned .

Maggie Evans - Nice, I love that suggestion of the, kind of, some of the convenience foods, maybe pre done stuff like the chicken and then doing your own roasted vegetables, using that as an avenue of kind of getting started. But I think that's my biggest suggestion right there. I would say Nike, just do it, right? Like just get in there and try it. And once you do it, you're going to learn from it. So if we spend most of our time being kind of, timid of the process and maybe thinking too much, it's going to get overcomplicated instead just kind of say, all right, I'm going to try this, I'm going to go for it and I'm going to learn from it, right? And that's my biggest suggestion. Even when it comes to meal prep, I find people get so overwhelmed and so intimidated by all these different things. But once you start the process, that's how you learn. And so yet again, just Nike, just get after it.

Scott K. Johnson - Great, great messages. I can't see any better way than there to wrap it up. So thank you, and we will see you both again on the next session, thank you.

Kristen Bourque - All right, bye guys.

Maggie Evans - Bye guys.

Kristen Bourque - Hi guys, this is Kristen from mySugr walking you through a healthy dinner recipe we're making tonight. We are going to do some shrimp and veggie skewers for dinner. I like this recipe because it's very simple, and it's very customizable. So, you can kind of throw whatever you have at home together, and again, it's simple and delicious. This recipe is meant for the grill, but we're having some snow in Chicago today and some winds. So we might be throwing this in the oven, which is also an option too. So I'll walk you through a couple of things here that I am putting together. So, I have some frozen shrimp, put a kind of a teriyaki type of marinade in there just to add a little flavor. You can do any kind of protein, whether it's chicken or beef or just do a veggie kind of kebab option too. And then I also have some veggies here too. So I'll kind of show you guys. I did some green pepper, red pepper, red onion and zucchini. Again, the same thing is you can do mushrooms, you can do squash. Basically anything you want to throw on there. Tomatoes are good too. I also have some pineapple that I got at the store buy one get one free. So I was very excited 'cause I thought why not throw that in the mix because it goes with the marinade really well. So something I like to recommend is I generally will do the protein on one set of skewers. And then I'll do the veggies. Although they look really pretty when they kind of cook like that. Sometimes the cooking temperatures can vary. So if I'm doing the shrimp, it's nice to have it on a separate skewer. That way I know gets cooked evenly. And then the vegetables also 'cause the vegetables may take a little bit longer too. It depends on your protein choice. The shrimp might take it about like 10 minutes or so. So I'm going to probably throw these either on the grill or in the oven first. So that they can cook a little bit more and then add the shrimp to the cooking method after. Another tip, metal skewers are great. I don't have metal skewers here, so I just have the wood ones. You actually want to soak these about 30 minutes or so before you start adding your items on there. The reason why you want to soak them ahead of time is because it actually can help prevent them from burning the skewer. So just to kind of a quick tip. So I'm going to go ahead and just put all of these in the pan and have them ready to go. We will see if we get the oven going here or I should say the grill. So basically just to kind of show you a quick run through of how to do this, but you just simply just skewer the vegetables on here. So I'm just going to vary the type of vegetables I have. And then once I am done with this, I'm going to just spray with a little bit of olive oil spray on there. Or if you have avocado oil spray, a little kind of seasoning, salt and pepper. And then just again, you can kind of spend as much time as you want to on this. This is something that we like to make a lot of times in the summer. Maybe I'm willing summer to be here in Chicago. But so again, just kind of adding whatever you want to. And then you're going to go ahead and just pile them on here. I like to have a little bit of room, that way again, cooking evenly and all that sort of stuff. But really there's no wrong to this. Just kind of however you want to. And then like I said, after, I'm going to go ahead and do the shrimp, do that separately and that way I don't have to worry about the cooking time. I will go ahead and show you guys the after, and let you know how it turns out. All right guys, the final product, da-da-da-da, turned out so good, can't wait to dive in. I am going to have my meal with a little glass of wine tonight. And again, super easy, super simple, throw in whatever you like. This literally took under 10 minutes. He was able to get the grill going, so even more success. All right guys, thanks for watching.

Scott K. Johnson - All right, there you have it, didn't it look delicious? And so many good tips there. Soaking the skewers, that was something I didn't know either, Jen. So, cool, cool stuff. Bonnie, you had a great question about what is the best artificial sweetener. I'm a fan of Stevia. I don't know if it's more out of habit or just that I like how it works. But let us also check with Molly so you can get some clinical expertise and pros and cons from that angle as well. So we'll get her to share her expertise with us and get that answer back for you on Friday. So have a great rest of your day and I hope you'll come back on Friday where Maggie is going to take us on a journey through her pantry and refrigerator and show us that it doesn't actually take much to come up with a delicious meal. So stay well and we will see you next time.


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