During these quarantine days, there is a lot of collateral damage — and we’re not just talking about your waistline. Your whole digestive system has been working overtime and is as tired and toxic as the rest of you feels. When your GI tract is fatigued, you may not be properly absorbing and using the nutrients from your food, which negatively impacts both your energy and your metabolism.
This two-week meal plan will ease you back into your healthy habits without suffering the withdrawal symptoms of an overindulged quarantine binging. The recipes are simple, balanced and flavorful, and they are created with real, non-processed whole foods. Use this plan for the prescribed two weeks, or repeat it as many times as you need to give your metabolism — and your year — a much-needed kick-start.
Asian Meatballs With Cauliflower Rice
Makes 4 ServingsTakes 40 Minutes
Cauliflower rice is a great substitution for regular rice, reducing your total carb intake and adding plenty of fiber and water for healthy digestion. The ginger helps calm the gut, and the coconut aminos are a great alternative to soy sauce, which can irritate your insides.
- 1 lb 90% lean ground pork
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp coconut amino acids, plus more to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, peeled and grated
- 3 green onions, chopped and divided
- 1 head cauliflower, grated
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- splash coconut oil
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine pork, sesame oil, amino acids, garlic, ginger, ½ the green onions, and salt and pepper (to taste). Roll into 1 ½-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes. Saute cauliflower rice in coconut oil. Divide cauliflower rice between bowls and season with dash of amino acids. Top with meatballs, sesame seeds and remaining green onions.
Nutrition Facts (per serving = 3 meatballs): calories 375, fat 26 g, carbs, 12 g, fiber 4 g, sugar 4 g, protein 25 g, sodium 192 mg
Shrimp Asparagus Pesto Pasta
Makes 3 ServingsTakes 30 Minutes
Pesto is made primarily of basil, and according to research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, basil contains several important enzymes and antioxidants that assist the liver with detoxification. Asparagus also contains a bounty of folate, which according to the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences is necessary for optimal gut health.
- 4½ cups asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/8 lb raw shrimp, shell on
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/8 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1½ lemons, sliced into rounds
- 6 oz chickpea pasta
- 3 tbsp pesto
Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread asparagus and shrimp on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with sea salt (to taste) and top with lemon rounds. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and fully cooked. Meanwhile, cook chickpea pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse and return to the pot. Add pesto and stir to combine. When shrimp are slightly cooled, remove shells, then add shrimp and asparagus to pasta and stir to combine. Enjoy cold or reheated.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 589, fat 24 g, carbs 43 g, fiber 12 g, sugar 10 g, protein 61 g, sodium 495 mg
Kale and White Bean Caesar Salad
Makes 3 ServingsTakes 25 Minutes
Though they are lauded for other reasons, hemp plants also produce seeds, which are chock-full of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which assist your liver in its detoxing efforts. Hempseeds are also a source of complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids to help you build that fat-burning lean muscle you want.
- 4 slices organic bacon, cooked and chopped
- ¼ cup hempseeds
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 6 cups kale leaves, chopped
- 2 cups white navy beans
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Place hempseeds, water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor cup and process until smooth, adding more water to thin, if needed. Place kale in a large bowl and pour hempseed dressing over top. Massage dressing into kale for 3 to 4 minutes, or until kale starts to soften. Add bacon and white beans and toss. Season with sea salt and pepper (to taste).
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 382, fat 12 g, carbs 46 g, fiber 18 g, sugar 1 g, protein 23 g, sodium 352 mg
Coconut Matcha Smoothie
Makes 1 Serving
Takes 5 Minutes
Smoothies are a quick way to get in your nutrients without a lot of volume, giving you a break from intense digestion. Matcha is potent green tea leaf powder: One serving is equivalent to 10 cups of regular green tea!
- 1/3 cup full-fat organic coconut milk, refrigerated
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 banana
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 tbsp hempseeds
- 1 tsp matcha powder
- ¼ cup vanilla protein powder
Add all ingredients to a blender cup and blend until smooth.
Nutrition Facts: calories 416, fat 22 g, carbs 33 g, fiber 6 g, sugar 16 g, protein 26 g, sodium 204 mg
Makes 3 ServingsTakes 5 Minutes
This high-powered snack is perfect for on-the-go energy.
- ¾ cup almonds
- ¾ cup walnuts
- 6 tbsp raisins
- 6 tbsp pumpkin seeds
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Store in an airtight container.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 617, fat 50 g, carbs 30 g, fiber 9.5 g, sugar 17 g, protein 31 g, sodium 11.4 mg
Moroccan Chicken Stew
Makes 4 ServingsTakes 30 Minutes
Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, and according to a study published in Planta Medica, black pepper can help your body better absorb curcumin by up to 2,000 percent! Parsley is also reputed to detoxify the system of heavy metals.
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 16 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts, diced
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ¼ cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 large tomatoes, diced
- ½ cup parsley, finely chopped and divided
- 2 tbsp raw honey
- 1/3 cup organic raisins, no sugar added black pepper, to taste
Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken, onions, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne, salt and pepper (to taste). Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes, ¼ cup parsley, honey and raisins. Cover and cook another 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick. Divide into bowls and garnish with remaining parsley.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 406, fat 17 g, carbs 29 g, fiber 4 g, sugar 22 g, protein 37 g, sodium 694 mg
Coconut Cod and Spinach With Rice
Makes 3 ServingsTakes 15 Minutes
Coconut milk contains medium-chain triglycerides, which are digested immediately and used as energy rather than sitting in your gut. Research suggests that MCT oil can help reduce overall calorie consumption, leading to gradual weight loss over time.
- ¾ cup jasmine rice
- 1½ cups full-fat organic coconut milk
- ¾ cup water
- 1½ tbsp tamari
- 1½ tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 (4-6 oz) cod fillets
- 3 cups baby spinach, chopped
- 1/8 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
Cook rice according to package instructions and set aside. Heat a saucepan over medium heat, then add coconut milk, water, tamari, vinegar, bay leaves and salt. Stir to combine. Add cod fillets and simmer about 8 minutes, or until fillets are white and flake easily with a fork. Stir in spinach and remove from heat; stir until spinach has wilted. Serve with rice.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 574, fat 23 g, carbs 43 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 2 g, protein 47 g, sodium 831 mg
Makes 4 ServingsTakes 40 Minutes
When you consume acidic foods such as dairy, grains and processed sugar, your body has to work overtime to maintain a neutral pH. Eating more alkaline foods such as fennel helps balance your pH and reduce stomach acid.
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 bulb fennel, sliced
- 2 cups celery root
- 2 cups rutabaga, peeled and cubed
- 2 cups organic chicken broth, plus an additional splash
- 4 (4 oz) salmon fillets
- 1 cup full-fat organic coconut milk
- ¼ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
In a large soup pot, melt coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add fennel, celery root and rutabaga. Cover and cook 15 minutes, or until tender. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cook another 10 minutes, then use an immersion blender until soup achieves a semi-chunky finish. Reduce heat to low. Meanwhile, add a splash of chicken broth to a saucepan and place salmon skin-side down. Bring to a simmer and poach 5 to 10 minutes. Remove fish from pan, remove skin and discard. Cut flesh into chunks and add to soup. Increase heat to medium and add coconut milk. Cook until heated through. Garnish with parsley when serving.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 414, fat 25 g, carbs 20 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 8 g, protein 27 g, sodium 793 mg
Cranberry Protein Cookies
Makes 8 Servings
Takes 20 Minutes
Cinnamon is one of the most delicious and healthful spices around, helping reduce inflammation and acting as an anti-bacterial agent. In addition, 1 teaspoonful contains 22 percent of your daily value of manganese, which according to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, helps you metabolize fats and carbohydrates and regulate your blood sugar.
- 1 banana, mashed
- ¼ cup vanilla protein powder
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup almond butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup dried, unsweetened cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, combine mashed banana and protein powder and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and combine until a dough forms. Roll dough into 8 balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten lightly with a fork. Bake 20 minutes.
Nutrition Facts (per serving = 1 cookie): calories 266, fat 18 g, carbs 19 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 6 g, protein 10 g, sodium 8 mg
Pear Spice Overnight Oats
Makes 4 ServingsTakes 8+ Hours
Kefir is a fermented dairy drink that tastes like thin, tangy yogurt, but it contains a more potent and diverse range of probiotics. Overconsumption of sugar, alcohol and processed foods can kill off a lot of the good bacteria in your gut, allowing the bad bugs to take over and increase inflammation. The probiotics in kefir help replace those lost microbes and restore balance in your system.
- 2 cups plain kefir
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups oats
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 pears, sliced
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¾ cup vanilla protein powder
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except pears and tahini. Stir until well-blended. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, top with tahini and pears.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 474, fat 14 g, carbs 61 g, fiber 11 g, sugar 22 g, protein 29 g, sodium 135 mg
Rainbow Chopped Salad Jars
Makes 3 Servings
Takes 30 Minutes
Tahini — aka sesame-seed paste — is a great source of magnesium, which is needed for energy production in the body. And purple cabbage is a good source of vitamin C, which is necessary for both a healthy immune system and a healthy gut.
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 2 lemons, juiced
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp water
- 3 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup matchstick carrots
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cups purple cabbage, chopped
In a bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice and sea salt, adding water as needed to attain a creamy consistency. Divide dressing equally between 3 large Mason jars. Layer in chickpeas, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers and cabbage. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 days. When ready to eat, dump salad into a bowl and toss.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 496, fat 18 g, carbs 69 g, fiber 19 g, sugar 16 g, protein 22 g, sodium 493 mg
“I always say to start with drinking half your bodyweight in ounces per day as a minimum,” Uherek says. “However, if you’re sweating more because of workouts, add in about 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise. Add in a clean electrolyte option, like Nuun tablets to replenish electrolytes — clean brand meaning no added artificial sugars and food colorings.”
Craving a sweet treat?
Try these low-sugar suggestions from Alexa Uherek.
Homemade Hot Chocolate
Combine 8 oz unsweetened almond milk + 1 tbsp 100% cacao powder + 1 tbsp maple syrup. Heat contents on low-medium in a pot on stove. To reduce sugar, use 1 tsp instead of a tbsp.
Nutrition Facts: calories 116, fat 5 g, carbs 17 g, fiber 3 g, sugar 12 g, protein 2 g,
sodium 164 mg
The Quick Fix
Gather ½ cup organic raspberries + 1 tbsp dark chocolate chips: Stuff one chip in each raspberry and enjoy.
Nutrition Facts: calories 122, fat 5 g, carbs 15 g, fiber 4 g, sugar 10 g, protein 2 g, sodium 1 mg
Additional snack options
¼ cup hummus + 1 cup baby carrots = calories 191 fat 11 g carbs 20 g fiber 6 g sugar 6 g protein 5 g sodium 360 mg
1 slice organic sprouted bread (toasted) + 1 tbsp raw nut butter = calories 205 fat 20 g carbs 23 g fiber 4 g sugar 5 g protein 9 g sodium 160 mg
2 celery stalks + 2 tbsp nut butter + 3 tbsp goji berries = calories 267 fat 18 g carbs 21 g
fiber 7 g sugar 10 g protein 10 g sodium 116 mg
1 serving protein powder + 8 oz unsweetened cashew or almond milk = (macronutrients depend on protein powder)
Written by Alexa Uherek, NSCA-CSCS, FMS for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.