VEGETABLES! After a week of lean protein and shakes, I bet you were never so excited about vegetables! Stage 2 will bring a burst of flavor, color and texture with the introduction of vegetables to your meal plan. Along with the increased variety, these colorful foods are great sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber as well.
At ~15 calories per serving, vegetables will increase the volume of your meals, with little impact on your daily caloric intake. The 20/20 Lifestyles meal plan recommends 3+ servings of non-starchy vegetables at both lunch and dinner. You can refer to the stage 2 video for more detail on serving size, and what constitutes a “non-starchy” veggie.
We like to think about stage 2 as the meal plan foundation, or “home base” so to speak. For the rest of the program, lean protein and veggies will compose the majority of your meals. 2/3 of your plate will be filled with lean protein and vegetables moving forward. As we add back in food groups later in the program, all other groups, such as legumes, or grains will be considered side items. So what are we trying to say? Get comfortable in this stage! Trying new types of vegetables will be key in keeping up the variety within your meals. For example, jicama makes a great addition to salads, or grilled asparagus can make a tasty side dish alongside your lean protein!
Moving on to some suggestions to spice up your stage 2… Get creative! Don’t be limited to salads to reach your serving recommendations for the day. Try a stir fry (without the oil of course), stuffed peppers or stuffed mushrooms, or oven roasting your favorite non- starchy veggies is a tasty variation as well. As summer rolls around, remember that the grill doesn’t have to be limited to just your proteins! Making kebabs or grilling your favorite veggies are both great meal plan friendly options as well.
Take a look at the stage 2 cooking video for a great recipe on how to prepare spaghetti squash! This makes a great pasta substitute in a traditional spaghetti dish. Shirataki noodles also make a great pasta substitute! These noodles are made out of tofu, so they are high in protein, and take minimal prep time in the kitchen. Just because we are focusing the meal plan on lean protein and veggies, doesn’t mean that we can’t find lower calorie, delicious substitutes for our favorite dishes.
Not only is stage 2 great for weight loss as you begin the program, it can also be used as a detox/reboot week. If at any point within your program, you feel like your meal plan is deviating, body is out of balance, or weight is creeping back on, go back to stage 2. This way, you can refocus your attention on lean protein and veggies.
Good luck with stage 2 and I encourage you to get creative, and enjoy those veggies!