As much as I do not believe in resolutions, most of us do want to eat lightly after the excesses of the holiday months. The personal chef approach is a great way to stay on track. Even our best intentions run amuck when the other demands on our time make it difficult to think about planning, shopping, and preparing a healthy dinner every night. Waiting until you are starving hungry to figure it all out makes the fast food fix perilously tempting.


Julie Anne and Karla at The Ivy

Even eating in a great restaurant can deceive and derail you. Most people do not realize that a Chinese chicken salad could be as many calories as that juicy burger if it is doused with dressing, and although they do not do this maliciously, most restaurant chefs believe fat + sugar + salt = flavor, and flavor means return patrons. The only way to truly control the calories you consume is by making your food yourself (or hire me to do it for you).

Fresh beets – you can use both roots and leaves

Think about the week ahead in advance. I hate making more than one or two grocery trips a week, so I keep a running list of anything I am low on – making sure my fridge is well stocked with fruit, vegetables, and any other healthy snacks I may want to grab on the run. Some of my favorites are hummus with crudites, celery or apple with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter, or a handful of almonds. Then I plan my meals in advance, and check off the ingredient list against my pantry, freezer, and fridge – making note of any groceries I will still need. I make one quick, organized run to the store to fetch it all.

Preparing on the go snacks

Sunday afternoon I’ll make a double batch of soup for lunches, and a few delicious yet reasonably healthy dinner options. Since I live alone most of the time – I just package it in individual servings, keep one of each meal in the fridge, and freeze the rest until I need it. I usually only need one personal chef day a month! Dinner goes from fridge to table in as little as five minutes on a hectic weekday night, and the pans are already done – how easy and simple is that? How do you stay on track?


Sesame Sauteed Beet Greens

I eat a lot of beets, and I love this recipe because it means none of it goes to waste. The beet greens can be eaten raw, boiled, steamed, or sauteed. They taste like a cross between spinach and kale, and it is a great source of both vitamins A and K. It also adds lovely color to any dish, and can hold it’s own with strong flavors. This recipe adds a hint of Asian flavors, and pairs well with Marinated Salmon seared in a Black Peppercorn Crust.

Servings: 2

Ingredients:
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 bunch of beets greens (saving beets for another use), large stems removed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish, optional
Directions:

1). Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, cook for 30 seconds.

2). Add greens, and toss to coat. Cover pan, and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until just wilted, about 3-4 minutes.

3). Remove from heat. Add soy sauce, toss well, and serve hot sprinkled with toasted seeds to garnish.

Serving Suggestions: I’m serving this topped with salmon for Valentines Day, but it would also be great with ham, lamb, and beef.
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  • January 25, 2011
    11:02 pm

    Jewels,What about taste? Do the entree's that you freeze still taste as great as they would if you had just cooked them? Are there certain things that freeze better than others? I would hire you in a minute if I didn't live in Connecticut! I guess I'll have to wait for the Roving Stove franchise. LOLCheers,Dawnp.s. Even though I have only done two lesson's from Marianne's book, I am proud to say that I have gone down 1 pant size! Because of you Jewels, I am sooooo much more aware of what I eat and how much of it I eat! Of course, I still indulge sometimes so, I am still a work in progress.

  • January 25, 2011
    11:10 pm

    OK, I'm making the beet tops this week! We eat the same snacks, hummus almost daily, and plenty of soups. I need to train myself to shop less (less than daily). Freezing the soup is a great idea, so we aren't eating it for days on end!Cupcakexo

  • January 25, 2011
    11:13 pm

    Dawn, we are all a work in progress – I'm no exception, trust me! Yes, the integrity of most foods should be pretty much the same (sometimes texture of vegetables alter slightly, but flavor is still great), if you cool the food properly, package well, and freeze within 24 hours of cooking. When I cook for a client I leave one of each meal in their fridge, freeze the rest, and instruct them to choose which meals they want in the first three days, then to freeze the remainder right away.

  • January 25, 2011
    11:19 pm

    You are looking lovely these days.Lisa King Barber

  • January 25, 2011
    11:19 pm

    I love vegetables but beets not that much,maybe trying the way you cook them will be different.MariFer Cruz Ortega

  • January 25, 2011
    11:20 pm

    Tatjana always hated beets until last week. First she tried the beet greens (and loved them), then I roasted the roots – she ate both her portion and half of mine! So important to try different preparations before you decide you don't like a vegetable.

  • January 25, 2011
    11:22 pm

    Pineapple… yummy!Lisa King Barber

  • January 25, 2011
    11:22 pm

    My FAVORITE! Totally satisfies my sweet tooth. I have it every day.

  • January 25, 2011
    11:37 pm

    I'll try it,thanks!!MariFer Cruz Ortega

  • January 26, 2011
    2:14 am

    I would like to stay on track by having you come over and cook for me :-P

  • January 26, 2011
    2:19 am

    I would eat both!!! They look amazing. I LOVE colorful food and all those flavors.

  • January 26, 2011
    3:27 am

    I managed to stay on track pretty much through the holidays, but did indulge in a few treats. Nice to get back to normal and eat the way I like to eat, small meals through the day, mainly vegetables, fruit, grains, and tofu. I need yogurt to get my medication down plus I think it coats my stomach preventing too much damage from all the pills. Like to make big batches of whatever I'm doing and freeze in individual portions. Looking to find more freezer friendly entrees to mix up the meals a bit. I eat a lot of soup, but would like to get into more vegetarian/vegan meals. I find I still obsess about what I'm eating and worry about the weight coming back, but I'm getting better about it. My routine must have made an impression on MollyCat-she waits in the bathroom, sitting beside the scales until I weigh myself each morning. I guess she's my goal keeper. LOL Going to try the beet greens this weekend. I've never had them nor have I roasted beets. Looking forward to this! But, I'll have them with a tofu entree.

  • January 26, 2011
    4:42 am

    Very nice post. The personal chef approach is great–I used to do this on a larger scale back when my kids were young, doubling entrees so I could freeze one. Now, living by myself, almost any recipe generates leftovers, so freezing individual portions works great.Another way I stay on track is by making a pot of brown rice or other healthy grain and having extras around for fast stir fry dinners. I just keep a few low fat proteins and a bunch of veggies on hand to offer some variety. Keeping some beans onhand makes for easy, healthy meals, too. I'm down a jeans size, too!

    • December 27, 2012
      2:29 pm

      Posted on Do you people have a faoobcek fan page? I looked for one on twitter but could not discover one, I would really like to become a fan!

      • December 27, 2012
        3:10 pm

        Sorry you had difficulty finding us – the Facebook Page is named after my original business, The Roving Stove, and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/therovingstove

  • January 26, 2011
    2:41 pm

    Oooh, maybe you could do a post of your favorite things to cook and freeze? And things that are child friendly? I'm married with a daughter [she's 5] and work full time. Anything that could help out with dinner would be amazing!! Thanks, Cheryl.

  • January 26, 2011
    3:15 pm

    Hi Jewels! I've just recently discovered your site and blog, and I can't tell you how much I look forward to checking it out each day. You have some really great recipes and food ideas! Something else I really appreciate about your writing is that you're so positive and upbeat. That's such a treasure these days. Keep up the awesome work! I'm so looking forward to future posts. :)Jenn Eggensperger

  • January 26, 2011
    3:33 pm

    I was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago, and I am in the process of completely changing my eating habits. I eat 6 times a day, whereas I used to eat once a day. I am also hypertensive and I am trying to control my conditions with diet only. so, I am cooking a lot more, and eating a lot more protein. I work long hours, so I do something similar to you. I shop once every two weeks, and cook in batches. I freeze it in individual containers with the amount of protein and carbs I can have in a serving. For snacks I use more dried fruit, nuts and animal crackers while I am at work. Dry things I can grab work better there. What has really helped me the most, was finding extremely small tupperware type containers. Basically, if I use them for a meal, with meat/ veg combo, I know I have the right portion, the trickiest part with diabetes. Getting used to eating 6 times a day was a huge adjustment, but now I get hungry on cue, and I feel much better. In the beginning I spent a lot of time studying the rules, the carb/protein numbers of different foods, and reading labels in the grocery store. I put more things back on the shelf than I bought, but now I know what foods work for me, and it is a lot easier. I cannot eat much prepared foods–way too much sodium. Restaurants are still difficult, though. There's just way too much food. I really should be eating just an appetizer, but it is too socially awkward. So, I just test my sugar more after and cut back to adjust.

  • January 26, 2011
    8:16 pm

    Too funny about Molly, Ruthee; and great ideas Soaring Sun!cla517 – I am about to launch an interactive website to help you do just that… very excited about it! Thank you Jenn.I'm so interested in learning what worked best for you in making those dietary changes Dandy? Maybe you would like to write about it? I know a lot of my readers would find it both interesting and very helpful. Health is a huge motivator, but sometimes not enough on it's own – so any tips?

  • January 26, 2011
    8:18 pm

    I would LUV to hire you…but Dallas is a bit of a drive from your home!Tabatha Mueller

  • January 26, 2011
    8:19 pm

    There are plenty of personal chefs in your area Tatbatha – I'm sure I could hook you up.

  • January 26, 2011
    8:37 pm

    How much costs?Shannon Marie Moyer

  • January 26, 2011
    8:38 pm

    I'd love to hire you but I dont think I could afford you! Someday hopefully!!Penelope Worley

  • January 26, 2011
    8:38 pm

    That's what I need my own personal chef to help me with my diet :)Tara Higgins Montgomery

  • January 26, 2011
    8:43 pm

    Shannon you're welcome check out my services page at http://www.therovingstove.com/services/, but if your in a different area – each personal chef will set their own rates.I can't afford me Penelope – thats why I'm going to be launching an exciting interactive website soon – to help the home cook with the personal chef approach in their own kitchens.

  • January 27, 2011
    6:39 am

    I live in pennsylvania jewels thanks for the link……..an interactive website? Awesome.Shannon Marie Moyer

  • January 27, 2011
    6:40 am

    Email me with your location if your seriously interested in a personal chef – I belong to a national organization of pc's, and can refer you to some.

  • January 27, 2011
    6:40 am

    Who you at The Ivy with? I haven't been there in years!Laura Dodd-Hodges

  • January 27, 2011
    6:41 am

    I'd hire you if I could!Isabel Ortiz Bernad

  • January 27, 2011
    6:41 am

    I would if we lived in the same time zone~ :-)Anitra DeLorenzo

  • January 27, 2011
    1:17 pm

    Hi Julie,I could write a bit about my new diet, if you like. You can e-mail me if you like. I think you have my e-mail with the post?Diane

  • January 27, 2011
    5:19 pm

    …. :-P I like it!China Barbara

  • January 27, 2011
    8:16 pm

    ♥Scar Lette

  • January 27, 2011
    9:47 pm

    Miam!Giuliana Iannotta

  • January 28, 2011
    8:10 pm

    Thank you for the tips; I do really appreciate it. I love to cook, I like vegetables and fruits a lot; red meat is not really present in our ( mine and my husband's) diet; for some reason we are not into it. We also like fish. We are very lucky as all food in our area is fresh, direct from local producers, and fish is also fresh, never freezed. What the problem is for me ( and believe for most people) is time, though on weekends I enjoy cookin a lot dishes I do not have the time for along the 5 days behind. So I have noticed, desides that lack of time, that get out of ideas, I get a bit bored by cooking almost always the same things. Lack of imagination I believe, and lack of knowlwdge of the basics I should have in store. That info would be so interesting and important. I do want to thank you for the always interesting info you share with me/us. I look forward to having a look at that project; I do promise to share the great dishes we enjoy in my priviledged region.Best,María