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Building the App: The Future of Meal Prep

Today is pretty exciting because months of hard work and intercontinental collaboration with my friend from across the pond, finally come to life.  Cheers to the future of meal prep –MealPrepPro.

I’m excited to offer an app solution that’ll provide you with a weekly meal plan suited to your calories and macros.

 BUILDING THE APP

Building MealPrepPro has been altogether exciting, with the usual moments of feeling frustrated and being humbled – all the things that make a successful project. It has pushed me and the Nibble Apps team to our limits, but seeing the end product now…it was worth every sleepless night.

I’m proud (and of course slightly anxious) to share this app with you.

Believe it or not, YOU played a pretty important part in the launch.

Behind the scenes of the MealPrepPro shoot. Credit: Jason Nelson

Even though we didn’t have the millions in funding that many Silicon Valley startups boast, it didn’t matter.  We had our ideas and passionate and enthusiastic community that historically has supported our ideas.

We decided a workout app would be the perfect compliment to the FitMenCook (FMC) App. FMC App for meals and the new app for workouts.  Perfect.

We even reached out to top personal trainers that work with blockbuster film actors and comedians. After many discussions, we drew up plans to move forward.

We immediately set things in motion and begin working on design and development while also setting filming dates to create the new content.

All this momentum yet something didn’t feel quite right…

That Gut Feeling

After a couple of months, we noticed that the project began to stall.  I had my reservations about the project but I never shared them with Andreas because it seemed like such a logical progression for the FMC App portfolio.

Then, it hit me (rather it hit both of us because I later discovered that Andreas was wrestling with the same reservations).

We realized we wanted to build a workout app, but what did the FitMenCook audience want?

All of these plans to make an incredible app for a community we never engaged; something we actually did do with the first successful FMC App.

 

The Age Old Debate – Eating Healthy vs Working Out

Behind the scenes of the MealPrepPro shoot. Credit: Jason Nelson

We drafted a survey and asked several questions regarding the type of workouts people were doing and finding challenging. Then, we asked this profound – yet pretty obvious in hindsight – question:

 

We received nearly 5K responses from people pretty quickly and discovered…

74% of survey respondents said that eating healthy is a bigger challenge than working out.  Is that what you answered in your head?  No worries – you are definitely not alone.

The results were a real “wake up and smell the coffee” moment.

We’d spent the past two months building the “wrong” app that aspired to address the actual needs of the community.

One particular piece of feedback stood out to me:

“I just want an app that from the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to sleep, will tell me exactly what I need to do in order to reach my fitness goals”.

 

It was time for us to change course.

It was frustrating to seemingly start back at square one, once we got going, everything started falling into place much, much faster, a sign that we were back on track.  Here are 3 key learnings from the survey:

The Fit Couple

From the survey we also learned that many people want to cook as a couple. Previously we were only thinking about meal prep planning from an individual perspective.

 

Ease of Use

We also learned that people really want something that is incredibly easy to follow. Apps like MyFitnessPal are great for logging information, yet still create a lot of work for people when it comes to meal planning.

 

Fit & Busy

We heard from people that lead busy lives – picking up the kids, getting time in for the gym, commuting, socializing, etc. Any healthy eating app we would release would need to be sensitive to time spent in the kitchen – preparing nearly a week’s worth of healthy meals in under two hours was our goal.

 

These were great insights to have moving forward and each of them provided its own set of challenges.

For instance, what were we going to do with the current repository of recipes on my website and in the FMC App?

While I have a huge catalogue of FMC recipes, not all of them would fit the goals of the new app.  So, we’d need to create some new content for the app and tweak them to make them manageable to prep in bulk in much less time.  Quick recipes, few ingredients, shorter cooking periods.

We approached each challenge individually and made sure to “carve a path forward” to mitigate these challenges in future releases of the app.

 

App Design & Content

Credit: GoMan Productions.

We decided on a name –MealPrepPro – created a logo, wrote new recipes, hired a local film crew and collaborated with nutritionists on the meals.

We met in Dallas to film the new recipes over three intense days. This was when everything started to become and feel real.

First day of filming was pretty chaotic.  Since I was the only person there that does film photography and videography consistently, part of my task was directing set, managing ingredient lists, making last minute improvements to the recipes and directing overall flow.

But, by the second day we had caught our breath and things started really coming together.

On the third day of filming we focused making preview videos by using an early demo of the app, as well as filmed a video for users of the FitMenCook app to re-assure people that the new app doesn’t constitute a shift away from the original FMC App.  That we’ll keep working on improving both apps.

We shared an early edit with Apple and…they were impressed and wanted the app ready for a demo opportunity!   We were ecstatic to say the least.  Apple is particular and discerning when evaluating app and selecting any for promotion.

 

The Release Date

We originally set a release date for early July but when it came down to it, we knew it just wasn’t quite there yet.  While I do believe there are some instances in which it’s ok to launch a project when it’s not 100% where you’d like it to be, this wasn’t one of those times.

We doubled down and stayed patient to make sure we were happy with what we were putting out in to the FMC community and to the world.

 

DOWNLOAD NOW

The app is out now and now, more than ever, I welcome your feedback.

 

Search Apple AppStore for “MealPrepPro

Besides the functionality and easy to follow content that the app boasts, I’m most proud that it genuinely came from you, the community.  Often times, in our regular “9 to 5” jobs, it can be difficult to see the value you are creating in the world (or for your company).  Not here.   I (we) listen to your feedback and ideas to inform new recipes and work on projects that will help all of us around the world to not only achieve our wellness goals, but also live healthier, happier lives.  Your contribution matters.

 

Thank you for making this possible – I’m confident MealPrepPro will inch you closer to those fitness goals.

Remember, your goals are within reach – just keep stretching.

Comment below with your reactions to the app and other questions RE the app development process.

Keep it healthy, but never, ever boring!

4 Easy Cold Lunch Ideas

I’m following up on a FAQ –

“What are some lunch meals you can enjoy that don’t have to be reheated?”

Here are four easy lunch ideas to help inspire your next meal prep! This is a continuation of the 5 cold lunch mash-up that I did last year.

When it comes to eating food cold (or at room temperature), keep it simple! Here are some guidelines I live by:

 

Low-Carb Shepherd’s Pie

This low carb easy shepherd’s pie uses cauliflower mash instead of mashed potato, making it friendly for those who are on the keto diet. This may be low in carbs, but it’s loaded with protein and veggies, as well as delicious flavor. You can make it in a large casserole dish, or feel free to portion it out into individual loaf pans or ramekins.

 

Shepherd’s pie is sometimes called cottage pie, depending on the protein source. Shepherd’s is with ground lamb while the cottage is made with ground beef. It is a meat pie that originates in the United Kingdom somewhere in the mid to late 1700s and was a way to use up leftover meats and vegetables while introducing the potato as a cheap source of food for the people. Here, I substitute the mashed potato in the classic shepherd’s pie recipe with mashed cauliflower, creating a healthier version of this hearty and beloved dish. It’s hot and savory comfort food that will warm you to your bones, perfect for chilly fall and winter nights. If you don’t have a potato masher or an immersion blender, you can place the cauliflower into a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

 

It’s important to season the meat filling and juicy gravy that results from cooking it all together well. While I didn’t add it here, a dash of Worcestershire sauce will give some extra depth to the flavor. Make sure the cauliflower is cooked until tender, or else it may have a grainy texture. You can replace the Greek yogurt with sour cream instead, depending on what you have in your refrigerator. Some people add cheddar cheese as a topping which will melt during the baking process. You can use beef or lamb, and add some beef broth or beef bouillon to concentrate the flavors in the gravy. A little bit of tomato sauce or tomato paste will give it just a hint of acidity to cut through the creaminess of the mashed cauliflower topping.

 

This is a remixed version of an older Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie recipe.  Following a lower carbohydrate diet doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up the food you enjoy; rather, you just need to be more creative and thoughtful when it comes to preparing them.  Here, I’ve swapped potatoes with cauliflower and removed the black beans without compromising the flavor, or the hearty, warm feeling you get when you eat shepherd’s pie.

Note: I use ground lamb in this recipe since original recipes include lamb, AND so that I can easily tweak this meal for my ketogenic diet; however, lamb is not required.  If you are following a lower fat diet, then feel free to use leaner ground meat.

I purchased all of the ingredients from my local Kroger grocery store.

This recipe reheats well in both the oven and the microwave, and it’s quite easy to make in bulk. Freezing portions of these in microwave safe containers means you have some tasty grab and go lunches. I hope you enjoyed making my version of a fit and healthy cauliflower cottage pie recipe. If so, I would love to hear all about it so please drop a comment below.

 

Low-Carb Pancakes (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)

Low carb pancakes? You can have that familiar and comforting fluffy pancake while keeping the net carbs at 23g per serving. The key is using coconut flour in this keto pancake. 

 

Pancakes are a food item found all over the world, made in a wide variety of ways— one of those food items that no one culture can claim ownership. There are many distinct cultural variations, some thick, light and fluffy, some thin or bubbly, some fermented. All of them made out of a wide variety of grains and other ingredients found all over the world. The ancient Greeks had a kind of pancake even, although it was very different than the ones we are used to eating today. 

 

Pancakes are an extremely easy dish to make when you’re busy and on the go since you can make a large amount of batter and set it aside in your fridge. As you get familiar with the recipe, you can experiment with ingredients such as cream cheese, greek yogurt, almond flour or other nut flours. A cream cheese pancake is another way to go low carb while getting all the flavor of a high carb pancake. 

 

Things like agave nectar are a way to have nice syrupy drizzle on top while keeping your carbs low. You can also use fruit like blueberries or sliced peaches to help sweeten your pancake. Of course, there is always chocolate to add as well but consider using low sugar chocolate. There are also jams that use stevia, nut butter, heavy cream,  and other sugar-free syrup to use to help top your pancakes. You’ll be glad you tried this delicious coconut pancake recipe. 

 

This isn’t your ordinary pancakes recipe, but it sure hits the spot when you’re watching your carbs. If you enjoyed this low carb pancake for weekly breakfasts, please drop me a comment or send me a message. I would love to hear from you!  Keep happy and healthy! Bon Appetit!

Keto Lamb Fried “Cauliflower” Rice Meal Prep

Here’s a quick & easy Asian-inspired meal prep recipe for those following a ketogenic diet.

Lamb is one of my favorite foods that I was able to add to my ketogenic diet because it is high in fat and a great source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLAs) and omega-6 fatty acids.  CLAs is one of those supplements highly touted in the fitness industry for fat loss because studies have shown it is associated with reduced inflammation and body fat.

Roughly 40% of the fat in grass-fed lamb come from a monounsaturated fat which has been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.  Ok and let’s face it, lamb is darn tasty!

And no need to go on a scavenger hunt for the ingredients – I purchased all of the groceries at my local Kroger.  If you don’t have one in your area, look for one of its affiliate stores!

 

DIY Frozen Sweet Potato Waffle Meal Prep

Forget the store-bought waffles, try my easy make-ahead sweet potato waffles!  These are packed with healthy fats and complex carbs to give you LASTING energy for the day (or your intense workout).

 

World’s Tastiest Chicken, Brown Rice & Broccoli Meal Prep

Here’s my “secret” way to make one of healthy eating’s and bodybuilding’s most bland meal into a flavorful masterpiece in very little time.

Meal Prep will never be the same…And it shouldn’t be.

 

Chipotle Flank Steak Taco Salad

I still remember the first time I had a taco salad as a teenager. Admittedly, I wasn’t a fan of salads then but I quickly became one after enjoying a delicious Mexican-inspired salad with steak, beans, corn, tomato and cheese (lots of it) all in a crunchy taco shell! I’m not going to name the fast-food restaurant that “put me on” to taco shells but my mind was blown when I discovered I could make the same thing in my own kitchen.

This was especially important to me when I began this healthy eating journey because one thing I did not want to do is have to completely give up the foods I really enjoyed all for the sake of “being healthy.”

This salad reminds me – and may even remind you – that I don’t have to sacrifice flavor for health & wellness. I can have them both.

Combining two of my favorite things, lean flank steak + Mexican-inspired cuisine, this recipe is a hit for ANY meal. Oh, and the secret is in the sauce!

 

Stuffed Beefsteak Tomatoes

First off, this recipe is hitting!

Secondly, my friends over at the Beef Checkoff challenged me to create two recipes using lean beef.  (*Kevin hits the “EASY” button*)

As you’ve undoubtedly seen by following me in social media, integrating lean beef into my regular diet has been critical to my journey, helping me achieve my fitness goals. And yeah, I also just like it. A lot.

With that in mind, I wanted to create an easy recipe that you can easily customize – such as using a hearty carbohydrate source such as quinoa, or lower carb source such as cauliflower rice – and that even the pickiest eaters at your dinner table would enjoy.

 

7 Easy & Healthy Microwave Recipes

When all you have is a microwave, it can be a little daunting to think about being able to cook your own meals.  While it’s not ideal, the microwave can crank out some pretty awesome (and calorie-conscious) meals!

Here is a follow-up article on the 4 Dorm Room Recipe video from 2 years ago!

Remember, you should always customize recipes to complement your nutrition and fitness goals.

 

Cauliflower Risotto Keto & Salmon Meal Prep

I’ve been experimenting with the ketogenic diet lately and, so far, so good! I’m enjoying the physical and mental challenges that come along with it.  One thing for sure is, it has been “stretching me” in the kitchen and I’m developing new ways to prepare the foods I love so they compliment the ketogenic diet of moderate protein, very low carbs and high fats.

Not all fats are created equal, though. With that in mind, I’m definitely relying on incorporating heart healthier fats into recipes.

Here’s a twist on risotto using cauliflower that turned into a great meal prep in less than 25 minutes (from start to finish).

 

 

3 Lighter BuzzFeed Tasty Recipes

If you love BuzzFeed Tasty videos as much as I do, then you’ll enjoy these attempts to re-make those decadent recipes in a much more calorie-conscious way (while keeping the recipes pretty simple). Keep in mind these are still fairly high calorie, but contain significantly less fat and simple carbs than the original recipes. Enjoy!

Four Healthy 4-Ingredient Recipes

Whether you’re on a tight budget or only have a few things in your pantry and don’t feel like running to the grocery, these four easy recipes prove that you can do a lot with a little!

These recipes only require four main ingredients; and to make it even easier, I tried to use seasonings and sauces you likely have (or should have) in your pantry.  Remember to make them your own – just keep it healthy!

Baked Sweet Potato Tots

It’s no secret that I love sweet potato almost as much as I love avocado. A few weeks back I visited a cafe in Dallas, TX where they served sweet potato tots. They were delicious and got me thinking that I should create my own calorie-friendly version.

These were my first attempt and they came out pretty good! Darn good, actually. I’ve got some ideas for future versions but this one is definitely a keeper!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork – Carnitas

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of tacos. And whenever I get the urge for delicious Mexican food, I head to my nearest taco stand in downtown Dallas. While it’s not scientifically proven, you can never go wrong with getting barbacoa or carnitas (aka pulled pork) tacos.

So, when you can’t hop on a plane to Mexico to enjoy tacos and (a light) beer, here’s an easy pulled pork recipe to bring a little taste of Mexico to your own kitchen.

5 Easy Cold Lunch Meals

We’ve all been there – you’re at work or school and you’re hungry so you go to reheat your meal only to find out there is no microwave.  Or your job requires you to be on the road all day and you don’t have access to a microwave. It’s a frustrating feeling! But I have good news – there are tons of meals that you can prepare that can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature.

Here are 5 of my favorite cold lunches to help get the wheels in your mind turning about what you can do…remember to make these meals your own and store them in quality containers.

For cold meals, I enjoy putting the food in stainless steel containers because I find that they keep the food cooler/colder while in the fridge or lunchbox cooler.

**As always, remember to adjust portions and servings to fit your diet and goals. Meals can fit nearly any fat loss or weight gain program, and are for both males and females – it’s all in the portions.**

Epic 75$ Meal Prep

Another year, another epic $75 Meal Prep video challenge!  One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on my journey is the importance of being prepared. We’ve heard it time and time again, if we “fail to plan, we plan to fail.” But the good news is there’s #mealprep whereby we prepare several meals or snacks (or food) in advance so that we always have a healthier alternative readily available to us!

This grocery challenge is all about showing how easy it is meal prep AND how we can do so on a limited/set budget.  While $75 may seem like a lot of money to many people, think about how much money you spend weekly just for lunch.  The average lunch spend is about $9; multiply that by 5 days (work week) and you’re already spending over half of the $75 and we haven’t even addressed breakfast, dinner or those frequent $2 and $3 snacks. By the end of a week, you’ve likely spent close to $100. Ask yourself – how much of that food is nourishing your body to push you closer to your goals?

But no worries! Got you covered. Let’s “ball on a budget!” Here are 5 meals for 5 days for $75!

Couple of things before we get started:

 

kroger logoHUGE THANKS to my friends at Kroger! They made it extremely easy to make this video so I had a very enjoyable (and affordable) shopping experience.  If there’s not a Kroger close to where you live, check for one of its affiliate stores here (at the bottom of the page).  Remember I live in Texas, so prices may vary depending on where you live around the nation (or globe).


 SHOPPING LIST:

75 meal prep kroger

 

PROTEIN / DAIRY

 

FRESH PRODUCE

 

OTHER

TOTAL SPEND: 74.36

Crunchy, Crispy Italian Meatballs

Italian food more often means meatballs. Ground beef is delicious, but not all meatball recipes require it. This Italian meatballs recipe puts an interesting spin on it with turkey meat, bread crumbs, and feta cheese.

 

Meatball recipes are a versatile and delicious dish to have on hand to add to a variety of dishes, from lasagna to spaghetti, to sandwiches, to risotto.  they are a handy way to add protein to any dish and can be made en mass in a slow cooker or instant pot ahead of time to aid in meal prep. They can also sit and marinate or sweat in tomato sauce or other marinades such as garlic and olive oil for extra flavor.  A delicious Italian meatball can also be enjoyed on its own when in a pinch or when the craving hits you. 

 

Turkey meat is easier to digest than red meat and has more protein than chicken.  You can buy lots of turkey at a time, grind it up, and make it in massive portions, or buy it pre-ground up.  This is a convenient way to utilize lots of meat you might have on hand in general. 

 

Italian food has many parallels to other cuisines around the world. Noodles are, for example, the main staple of its dishes. People around the world are unsure which culture started cooking with noodles and many believe that it was something that was discovered separately by different cultures, with no “one” discoverer.

 

Italian food emphasizes the use of herbs to enhance and bring out subtleties in flavor. The use of basil, oregano, parsley, sage, and cilantro is common.

 

 If you had a fun time trying these ground turkey recipes for quick and easy meals throughout the week, please drop me a comment or send me a message. I would love to hear from you! Keep happy and healthy! Buon Appetito!

Oat, Turkey & Cheese Breakfast Muffins

These delicious egg muffins are great to take with you on the go, especially if made ahead so for busy mornings when you might not have enough time to cook a full breakfast, you can just grab one and run out the door. This breakfast egg muffins recipe is great to work into your meal prep rotation since all you need are eggs, muffin tins, and your choice of fillings. Here, we are doing a protein packed turkey spinach cheese breakfast muffin, but you can easily use ham and cheese or bacon cheddar instead.

 

If you prepare the chopped spinach, turkey, and cheese ahead of time, all you will need to do is mix it into the breakfast egg muffin batter mix right before you pour it all into the muffin cups. Make sure you grease muffin tins in order to make them easy to remove from the cups. You can add other ingredients like red bell pepper or cracked black pepper in order to give it a bit of spice.

 

While this isn’t low carb, instead of using flour or cornmeal, it uses healthy oat flour which is healthier for you. These muffins freeze well so you can make batches of it at a time, allow them to cool and place into ziploc bags, and store in your freezer until you need them. Pop them in the oven or the microwave to reheat for an easy and healthy breakfast. I know you’re busy which is why I created this egg muffin recipe in order to make your life healthier and easier. After all, keeping with your weight loss or fitness goals while having easy and tasty meals is important to me.

 

If you enjoyed this low carb breakfast egg muffin recipe, please send me a message or drop me a comment below. I would love to hear how my recipes have changed your ideas of what healthy food could be. Be happy and healthy!

 

3 Calorie-Conscious Wing Recipes

Wings! They are one of my absolute favorite foods and I imagine they are for a lot of you.

I remember my first true love at first bite experience was in Austin, TX at a spot called Pluckers! Regardless if the Texas Longhorns played well, you could always count on Pluckers to come thru with the “W!” My favorite flavor is “Texas Gold Rush” – it’s a flavor combo between honey mustard and BBQ sauce and it still has me craving it today!

So, today it is all about wings!

Here are 3 super easy and calorie-conscious recipes that you can use for chicken wings or roasted cauliflower!

Tropical Quinoa & Cod Burrito

There are certain meals that just can’t lose when it comes to lunch or dinner time.  And a burrito is one of them!

But this is not just an ordinary burrito. It was originally made by an 8-year old as part of the White House Kids’ State Dinner.

The Kids’ State Dinner is an annual event that the First Lady started at the White House four years ago (in 2012). It is just like any other state dinner, complete with beautiful décor and White House china, except the guests of honor are kids.  In order to claim their spot at the White House for this fun event, 8-12 year old kids submit an original recipe that is healthy, affordable, and delicious, and a winning recipe is selected from each state and U.S. territory.

When I met with First Lady Michelle Obama a few months back at a Fruits ‘N Veggies Live Event, she challenged me to recreate one of the recipes-  using mango and pineapple – with a FitMenCook twist!

First Lady Michelle Obama, as part of the "Let's Move!" initiative, poses with Kevin Curry for Curry's FitMen Cook site, prior to a Partnership for a Healthier America FNV Live! event at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, Nov. 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Challenge accepted, First Lady!

So, here is my take on these Fabulous Tropical tacos, created by an 8 year old from Nebraska.

Thai Peanut Shrimp & Rice Salad Bowl

For some reason or another, the salads we order in restaurants taste far better than the ones we make at home! At least that was the case with me. It was pretty frustrating buying a whole bunch of vegetables and wanting to make a “restaurant-style” salad, only to make an uninspiring, dry salad.

But with practice, I’ve learned that doesn’t have to be the case. And this Thai Peanut Shrimp & Rice Salad Bowl is proof! After making this easy and delicious salad, you’ll never look at homemade salads the same way again. Get ready to “Level Up” your salad game!

High-Protein Breakfast Casserole

How you start your day largely influences how the rest of your day will go! So, start your day off right with a hearty breakfast! Try my simple and protein-packed breakfast casserole – and yes, it has sweet potato (but, you can substitute for red potato)!

Pair this with a glass of milk for an extra protein boost!

See how other people are getting in their daily dose of protein by following the hashtag #MyMorningProtein on Twitter and Instagram.  And go here for more protein recipes & tips using milk – good way to start the day!

 

3 Easy, Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes

Slow-cookers and crockpots are God’s gifts to people short on time and those who find themselves feeling a little “challenged” in the kitchen.  Can’t get any better than tossing your ingredients into a pot and walking away!

So here are 3 easy slow cooker recipes to help you get started in 2016.

Need a slow cooker or crockpot?  Get my all-in-one by Instant Pot.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Quinoa Tortilla Soup

When you’re in a pinch but needing something tasty, there’s nothing like a slow-cooker recipe to come to the rescue.

Slow cookers are among the best “man cooking” machines. Just toss in the ingredients, walk away and return to a masterpiece. Plus, you can make some really hearty, muscle-building meals.

So, crank up the slow cooker for some Latin-flair to make this delicious, protein-rich chicken and quinoa tortilla soup. It’s an amazing recipe for family dinner and to chase those extra gains in the gym!