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Food and Nutrition

Dietitian Diary: A Week With Dana

Dana Calidonna, RD | Nutrition Specialist
/ March 4, 2021

Disclaimer: Can’t believe it has been a whole year since I wrote one of these! Last time was right in the beginning of the pandemic. Funny how so much and also so little has changed since then. To be honest this is a pretty typical (and not the most fascinating week) in my life, but I hope it gives you some inspiration in how to meal plan during a normal busy week, and also how I strive for balance between enjoying delicious food (yes, I eat cake twice), staying true to my healthy habits most of the time, and also finding daily movement. I’m lucky in that my life is pretty uncomplicated compared to many but I think we can all agree this hasn’t been the easiest year for anyone. Hope you enjoy spending this week with me.

Tuesday 2/23/21

Monday through Wednesday I start work later but I still like to get up relatively early to keep some consistency with my schedule. I enjoy a couple cups of coffee with almond milk (frothed up in my Dualit milk frother so it’s almost like a latte) while I catch up on some work in the morning.

I take a break from working around 9am for a 40 min virtual pilates class. Around 11 I settle back at my desk with my breakfast. Today (and probably this whole week) I’m having ~⅓ cup of cooked oat groats that I cooked over the weekend with ⅓ cup greek 2% yogurt, a sizable scoop of peanut butter and a small banana. Breakfast during the week is usually oatmeal in some form. Boring but it’s easy and satisfying. Around 2 I start to get a little hungry again, but still have over an hour until my lunch break, so I grab a Tillamook cheese snack to tide me over. 

I don’t have a lot of time for lunch so I’m thankful that I have some leftovers from last week ready to heat up. Usually once or twice a week I like to batch cook something that I can have during the week when I’m too busy or tired to cook (one of my patient’s termed this an “anchor meal” which I thought was a great way to put it!). This takes some of the stress out of meal planning and makes it easy to have something healthy when I’m short on time. Last week it was farro and lentils with whatever veggies I had on hand (an onion, one carrot, a jalapeno, a bag of cauliflower rice). I top a portion of this with a fried egg and a scoop of yogurt to make it a little more interesting. 

I finish up work around 7pm and the first order of business is spending some time with my 7 month old kitten Stella who has been waiting (somewhat) patiently all afternoon for some attention. After I play with and feed her, I head out for a short 20 min walk. I find this to be a great, reflective way to close the day. Sometimes I listen to an Audible (currently enjoying Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker and Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes) or sometimes I just take a much needed break from technology. When I get back, I cook up a quick dinner of veggie-scrambled egg tacos in a Siete almond flour tortilla topped with avocado, greek yogurt, and a cucumber-radish salad (dressed with lime juice and salt and pepper). It works out that I eat dinner late on these days so I try and have something on the lighter side that is easy to prepare (if not just leftovers). Eggs usually fit the bill for me. My fiance gets home from work around 9pm and we spend the evening rewatching Harry Potter for the uptenth time and trying to teach Stella to play fetch (she’s getting pretty good!). 

Wednesday 2/24/21 

Honestly today is pretty much a repeat of yesterday food wise. I notice as I am eating breakfast that I am almost out of my cooked oatmeal so I prep some overnight oats to have as a backup. It’s a busy day with back-to-back meetings and appointments so I take advantage of a break around 11am to head out for a quick walk. I finish up with work around 630pm and head out to take another walk. I try to get 60 mins of moderate activity in most days of the week and sometimes it is more manageable to break it up into smaller sessions like this. My fiance gets home from work with wine in tow but I just have a sip before heading to bed.

Thursday 2/25/21 

Usually on the days I work early I eat breakfast around 930am when I take my break but I am hungry this morning and coffee and sparkling water aren’t cutting it. I grab the overnight oats I prepped yesterday to eat in between appointments. I get hungry before I can take a break for lunch so I grab another cheese snack in the late morning. For lunch I fry a couple of eggs to have with a Dr. Praeger’s Mushroom Risotto Burger, and eat the leftover cucumber salad and avocado from yesterday. It’s a lighter lunch but I know we are planning to get takeout for dinner. My fiance brings home Philz coffee in the afternoon and I get an iced Mint Mojito with light cream and light sugar as an end-of-the-week treat. 

In the afternoon after work I head out for a walk (have to take advantage of this beautiful weather!) and on my way home stop in our local grocery store to grab a few things. I am planning to make a sheet pan chicken dish for dinner tomorrow and need some ingredients, as well as some staples that I always keep on hand such as yogurt and almond milk (they only have Califia toasted-coconut almond milk so I guess I’ll try that).

We usually eat out once or twice a week and usually on Sundays since that is the day both of us are off. But he happens to be home today so we decide to order takeout for some fun. One of our fave places is RT Rotisserie in San Francisco. I order a chicken salad and my fiance gets the fried chicken sandwich. We also order roasted cauliflower and fries to share. I eat about half the salad, a few bites of the sandwich, some cauliflower, and definitely more than a few fries. I also have a small glass of the red wine from last night with dinner.  

Friday 2/26/21 

I’m not that hungry for breakfast this morning (maybe because I had a bigger dinner last night) so I drink a couple cups of coffee throughout the morning and around 930am have an RX bar which I keep on hand for a quick snack. Around 1230pm I finish with appointments for the day and I am hungry now so I grab my oats that I would have eaten for breakfast and add a little more yogurt and peanut butter to make it a little more filling. I also have another cup of coffee (it’s been a long week and also I really like this coconut milk).

The afternoon is filled with finishing up work and doing some cleaning around my apartment. I was planning to make my sheet pan dish for dinner but I want to eat up the leftovers from last night. I don’t think it will be enough for two people so I make some beans to go with the leftover salad and cauliflower. I am making the beans from scratch so I start soaking them in the afternoon. It’s another gorgeous day so in the later afternoon I head out for another long walk. When I get back I cook the beans by sauteing some onion, garlic, carrots with a little oil in a dutch oven, add water and beans, and cook until soft (usually takes at least an hour depending on the type of bean). I also sip on a beer while I’m preparing dinner because hey, it’s Friday! I have a scoop of the beans with the leftover salad and cauliflower for dinner.

Saturday 2/27/21 

Saturday morning I start the day, of course, with some coffee while I study for an obesity certification exam that I am planning to take in a few months. Late morning I take a break from studying to do a 25 min pilates class online and then I have a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana for brunch (a fave weekend breakfast treat for me). I also want to make some homemade granola for next week. I found a recipe online that looks good and tweaked it a little by decreasing the coconut oil and honey and adding some egg whites to help everything clump better with less sugar. I use dried cherries since that is what I have on hand but have also made granola with the freeze dried berries from TJs and it comes out really good! We are moving in a few weeks so this is a great way to use up all the little random bags of nuts, seeds, cocoa nibs, and coconut flakes I have in my fridge. I snack on some of the granola after it cools. 

Late afternoon, Stella and I head to my mom’s house. It’s beautiful here on the coast too so I take a walk that turns into about a 45 minute mini-hike. For dinner my mom makes pesto chicken pasta salad with lots of veggies and I have a bowl before heading out. I pick up my fiance from work on the way home and am pleasantly surprised to find he has a small piece of cake from work for me. I have been trying to cut back a little on sweets this week after the past few months featured a plethora of them (the holidays, followed closely by my fiance’s birthday, followed by Valentine’s Day). But hard to say no to 2 Michelin Star cake. We share the slice when we get home and it’s delicious.

Sunday 2/28/21 

Sunday mornings we always hit up our local farmer’s market to get produce for the week. Before we go I like to make a list and do a little meal planning for the week. We are making ramen tonight for two friends we are having over so need some veggies and chicken for that, also want to get some leafy greens for a green shakshuka I am planning to make later this week, as well as some staples such as eggs, arugula, fruit that we always have on hand. While at the market we also buy two croissants from one of my fave local bakeries to have for brunch. 

When we get back, my fiance starts the ramen broth and I do a 35 min pilates class and finish up some studying. For brunch we share the croissants and an arugula-cheese-bacon omelet my fiance makes. 

In the afternoon we walk to a nearby park with Stella (yes, we are those crazy people with the cat backpack) and enjoy the fabulous weather. I take a break from studying to read a novel and relax. On our walk back we stop and get iced lattes. When we get home I am a little hungry and have a cheese snack to hold me over until dinner. 

The homemade ramen turns out great! It has noodles but also lots of veggies and chicken and an egg. For dessert we have a cheesecake (in the freezer leftover from Valentine’s Day) with strawberries and whip cream on the side. Happy to have some people to share some of these treats with! I also enjoy a glass of sake with dinner.

Monday 3/1/21 

Monday morning I work for a few hours with my usual coffee and then head out for a 45 min walk. For breakfast I have ~⅓ cup of the granola with ⅓ cup of yogurt, half a banana, and a few strawberries from the farmer’s market. Late in the afternoon I take a break for lunch and heat up some of the beans from Friday night and top with an egg and some yogurt. 

Typically on Mondays my fiance cooks since he has the day off, but he is in Tahoe snowboarding today so I will have to fend for myself. I think it’s finally time to make the sheet pan chicken dish. My fiance offers to bring home Chick-fil-A on his drive back from the mountain, but after a weekend of indulging I feel like I want some lighter food tonight. I finish up work around 7pm and quickly throw the dish together- combining some leftover uncooked chicken from last night with sweet potatoes, peppers and lots of spices. I love sheet pan meals and instant pot/slow cooker dishes for easy, weeknight eats. My fiance gets home just in time for dinner and we enjoy our chicken on top of a bed of arugula for a little extra greenery. Good start to another week!

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