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Meal Planning: The Top 6 Foods to Help Support Healthy Energy Production

grass-fed beef roast

Energy!!! It is the currency that I think we all crave during the very busy and challenging season of life that is middle age. Energy looks different during this time, we may not be looking for that hyper-alert, wide-eyed, primed state that you may expect after a double espresso. In-fact, that type of energy surge generated by caffeine consumption greater than 350 mg per day can cause nutrient depletion and interfere with nutrient absorption. (1)  Adverse effects of becoming reliant on caffeine greater than 350 mg per day to feel energetic and focused may include: anxiety, agitation, elevated or irregular heart rate, stomach upset, restlessness, sleep disturbance. Instead, we can use food, alongside more moderated levels of caffeine consumption to feel focused, energized and connected to our day. 

Energy, during this season of life, is essential as most of us carry many responsibilities over the entire day from wake until sleep day after day. In other words, our day starts early getting the kids off to school, it continues with our work during the day, the kids come home and then it is off to after school activities/sports and somehow in all of that we need to figure out how to nourish our body with meals that will help our body produce its own energy. Oh yeah, throw the mid-life physical changes into the mix and we now have another compounder of the need to pay pretty close attention to how we are feeding ourselves each day! 

So, let’s tackle this topic! Narrowing down all of the amazing nourishing foods available to just 6 foods that are top notch for giving our body what it needs to produce energy is not an easy task. Since I am a middle-aged mom doing life right along with you, I will give myself a little help and attach a couple rules to this task. 


Rule 1: These foods need to be readily accessible year round. 

Rule 2: The food should not be an unsustainable purchase. It needs to be budget friendly so that it can be consumed regularly. 

Rule 3: Cooking/preparation is easy, you do not need special skills to prepare it! 

Rule 4: You can make a lot of different dishes with this food, it is multi-purpose. 


Ok, that narrows down the list from some exotic form of black caviar that really has limited use! 


Before we dive in…I would also like to offer some additional suggestions as an FDN-P (Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist) on how you can maximize your investment in the food AND in the time that it takes you to eat the food. 


Tip 1: If you are rushing around multi-tasking AND eating (been there), it is highly likely you will not fully absorb your food and you will not chew it well enough to break down the food. So try these options: 

  • Wrap your plate up and take it to whatever event you are rushing to get to. It may be a little cold when you get there, but you will be able to chew, swallow and absorb. 
  • If you can’t make a to-go plate, plan ahead for this type of situation and make this meal a smoothie/soup that you can easily sip and absorb. 
  • Take at least one physiological sigh (a double inhale followed by a long exhale) in order to bring down your heightened state of arousal (STRESS) before taking a bite, put down your fork and chew. (3)

Tip 2: Try not to drink large amounts of water right before a meal as it can impede digestion. 

Tip 3: Chew your food like a toddler chews meat! Chew until it is mush!

Tip 4: Use a little digestion support like lemon, lime or apple cider vinegar in water or digestive bitters. 


Now let’s dig in and talk about some of these foods that fit our rules. I will use the vast database of Nutrivore for some guidance and their rating system on how to choose these foods. Then I will share with you a couple of meal plan ideas on how you can build these foods into a database.


Here are some of the favorite staples my family uses on a regular basis!


  1. Grass finished ground beef and roast 
  2. Grass Finished organ meat sausages 
  3. Eggs
  4. Wild caught flash frozen seafood
  5. Chickpeas
  6. Sweet potatoes


Whew! That was difficult to narrow down, I actually added and took away foods for two days writing this! But, assuming you do not want to read a 10,000 word document…let’s GO with 8! Fortunately, we have resources like NUTRIVORE that give us the HUGE and empowering WHY!! US WELLNESS meats gives us the HOW! 


Reviewing our rules: 

Rule 1: Accessible year round. 

Rule 2: Budget friendly so that it can be consumed regularly. 

Rule 3: Cooking/preparation is easy!

Rule 4: It is multi-purpose. 


These foods match them ALL! 

Tri-Tip Roast, energy production, Healthy Foods



Think quick prep, slow prep, smoke, roast, shred, scramble…breakfast, lunch and dinnner! Make ahead and freeze, we love these meats. Some common preparation methods our family uses for ground beef include the old favorites: meatballs, meat sauces, meatloaf, tacos and hamburgers! Roasts are typically simple crockpot preparations that can be stretched by adding root vegetables and other nourishing green vegetables! There is a high amount of nutritional variability among cuts of meat and how meat is raised. “Grain fed beef contains four times more saturated fat than grass-finished beef, which is not health (4).”

Benefits of investing in grass-finished beef:


  • Higher conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) content: this fatty acid helps us fight cancer and has some properties to improve weight loss. (5,6) CLA also helps to increase insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation! 
  • Two-Four times more Omega-3 fatty acids than grass-fed beef: in addition to being cardioprotective, improving brain health and anti-carcinogenic, omega-3’s are also show to be anabolic which means they actually help us to build muscle. (7)
  • Higher levels of Vitamin E, B vitamins, potassium and magnesium: the animals are eating a more nourishing diet of grass and foraging for other plants while also getting plenty of sunlight and exercise which leads to a higher level of vitamins and minerals. Consuming these grasses greatly increases the antioxidant content of beef and elevates the precursors for vitamin A and E when compared to grain-fed cattle. (8) 


All of these benefits lead to improved overall health which allows us to execute the other habits of life that leads to improved overall health. 


US WELLNESS Meats helps us meet our criteria for grass-finished ground beef and roasts by providing a trusted source year-round via a super convenient online resource. Although you will still benefit nutritionally from purchasing a grass-fed ground beef in the grocery store, refer to the above bullet points you will lose when doing so. To make this more accessible, US WELLNESS MEATS routinely offers discount codes, sales and bulk buy options so we can consume this nourishing protein on a regular basis!!


Nutrivore rates beef inside round roast as a medium nutrient dense food with more than 50% daily value of coQ10 and vitamin B12 which are both extremely important for detoxification and energy production. In 3.5 ounces of inside round roast, you receive 23.6 grams of protein! Fat content varies on the animal, but a general score is only 2.9 grams per serving! 


US Wellness Meats Whole Primal Beef Inside Round Roast is a PERFECT fit our criteria as it is budget friendly, accessible year round and multiple preparation methods with ease.




If you follow me on INSTAGRAM you know that I LOVE liverwurst, braunschweiger and head cheese (eeek! Don’t let the name scare you!) All of the same benefits of grass finished beef apply to these sausages but let’s add a few more perks! 


Organ meat sausages are so easy to implement especially if you are not an organ meat fan and would rather not spend extra money on an organ meat supplement. These sausages are prepared and ready to eat! 


Here are some of my quick combos: 

  • Liverwurst with fermented pickles, and an orange
  • Head cheese on some gluten free crackers with a bit of mustard
  • Braunschweiger with apples and some aged cheddar
  • Liverwurst with pomegranate arils and purple grapes
  • Braunschweiger with crusty sourdough bread and sauerkraut


These are just some possibilities! Here is what Nutrivore has to say. Beef liver is rated as a super nutrient-dense food! “It is a concentrated source of many different nutrients including vitamin B12, copper, vitamin A, vitamin B7, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, CoQ10, vitamin B3, vitamin B9, selenium, vitamin B6 and choline plus more!!” (9) Nutrivore tells us that organ meat is one of the most concentrated sources of every nutrient out there! That means that consuming these organ meat sausages are highly nourishing in every way and a no brainer to add to your nutrition plan! 




Eggs don’t just have to be reserved for breakfast! They can be a staple food part of every meal and snack! Eggs can be baked into muffins, quick breads, quiche and added to meatloaves. Hard boiled, poached or deviled, eggs are a nourishing addition to your diet! 


Pastured raised and organic eggs are the top pick when it comes to egg quality. It is the label, not the color of the shell that determines egg quality. The shell color comes from the type of chicken not the fuel. Research from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences found that compared to eggs from conventional raised chickens, eggs from pasture-raised hens had: 

Double the amount of vitamin E and heart health long-chain omega-3 fats, more than twice the amount of total omega-3 and less than half the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. (10)


Here are some ideas on how you can use US Wellness Meats products to complement eggs! Use the sugar free bacon and your favorite english muffin to make a high protein breakfast sandwich. Brown the 85% lean grass-finished ground beef along with onion, garlic and celery. Wilt in some greens and top with a couple poached egg for a high protein, low-moderate fat nourishing breakfast. Or make steak and eggs by pounding out and then flashing the eye of round in a pan with some garlic and thyme. Serve with a half grapefruit for another big bonus of whole food vitamin C. 


According to Nutrivore, 2 large eggs has 12.6g protein, only 0.7g net carbs and 9.5g fat! Eggs are also an excellent source of Choline with 53% DV per serving. Choline is incredibly important for brain health, neuroinflammation and cognitive performance. (11) 

Salmon Filet, Healthy Foods




IMHOP, the invention of flash freezing seafood is a tremendous tool for all of us! We now have the capability to enjoy this nourishing food year round, at reasonable prices and it gives us flexibility on many different preparations. Flash freezing means a fish can go from the water to the boat to being full frozen in a matter of hours. The “flash” means that it is frozen at a much higher temperature than regular freezing and with fans to move the air. 


Some common seafood that you may find in the freezer section includes: salmon, cod, flounder, shrimp, scallops, squid, crab, mahi and tuna. Seafood is commonly known for its abundance of Omega-3 fats EPA and DHA which are abundant in cold water fatty fish. These types of fish have been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, protect against some cancers (including breast), increase insulin sensitivity and improve endothelial function (think blood pressure regulation). (12) It is not just fatty fish that benefits us, lean white fish has many health benefits! In Swedish women, three servings of lean fish per week reduce the risk of stroke by 33% compared to zero servings per week! Modest fish consumption (40 g or about 1.5 ounces per day) would result in a 9% decrease in all cause mortality. (13) 


Preparation of flash frozen fish is simple and can go from freezer to oven after a quick rinse in cold water, you can poach, bake or saute over low heat. This is a super simple weeknight dinner! 




Before you think…how random! Chickpeas (aka, garbanzo beans) are rated as a “high nutrient dense food” by Nutrivore! Chickpeas are considered a best source of manganese and vitamin B9 (folate), an excellent source of copper, polyphenols, vitamin B7 (biotin) and a good source of dietary fiber, iron, protein, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and zinc. (15) 


In just ½ cup cooked chickpeas, there is 8.2 g protein, 4.9 g fiber and 20.3 g net carbs! (15).


We can use chickpeas to make:

  • Hummus which is delicious on a burger or with crispy vegetables
  • Brownies which are an excellent way to sneak in more fiber and micronutrients into a sweet treat! 
  • Stir Fry which is another place to add some nourishing grass finished beef to this recipe or create your own using a basic stir fry template! 
  • Cookies are another way to sneak in some protein, fiber and micronutrients! 
  • Soup is another vehicle for chickpeas. Use this template or choose to keep it simple and add it to a simple chicken soup!


The list goes on for this amazing legume! You are a google search away from adding this ingredient into your usual rotation! 

roasted sweet potatoes, energy production


The staple side dish that goes year round is definitely the sweet potato! I use them to make muffins, cookies, quick breads, soups and as simple side dishes like fries, potato salad and casseroles! 


There are 5 different variations of sweet potato, including: 

  • Orange skin with orange flesh
  • Red skin with orange flesh
  • Yellow skin with white flesh
  • Purple skin with white flesh
  • Purple skin with purple flesh


Sweet potatoes are a very inexpensive source of carbohydrate and fiber. They are also loaded with vitamins and minerals. A one cup serving of sweet potato provides 114 calories, 2 grams of protein, 27 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams of fiber, insignificant amounts of fat and various vitamins and minerals. (16) According to Nutrivore, sweet potatoes are considered a medium nutrient-dense food. Per serving they are a best source of carotenoids and vitamin A, an excellent source of copper and vitamin B5 and a good source of dietary fiber, manganese, polyphenols, potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin B7. 


Carotenoids found in sweet potatoes are responsible for giving the potato vibrant red, orange or yellow pigmentation. So, the variety of sweet potato will differ in its carotenoid content. Important to remember when eating for nutrient density is that carotenoids are powerful antioxidants and many are vitamin A precursors. (17) A diet high in carotenioids reduces our risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, many forms of cancer, age related macular degeneration and cataracts. 


Remember that carotenoids are fat soluble nutrients and are best absorbed with consumed in a meal containing fat to facilitate absorption. It only takes 3-5 grams per meal to improve the absorption of carotenoids. Their bioavailability is also increased when consumed in the presence of soluble fiber. (17) So a meal strategy could be: Baked sweet potato, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with ground flax seeds. You could also make oat flour sweet potato muffins and use sunbutter as your fat. The oats serve as a source of insoluble fiber. 


Sweet potatoes are also beautifully placed alongside some fresh broccoli, a grass-finished steak from US Wellness Meats and a side of berries. The steak would serve as the fat and the broccoli and berries would serve as a source of soluble fiber! 


It is actually quite difficult for me to end the list here as there are so many whole foods that fit beautifully into our criteria. Meal planning with an emphasis on nourishment is the hallmark teaching point of my coaching sessions with clients as a personal trainer and functional nutritionist. I plan to maintain that stance as an RN upon completion of my current line of study. Many of our chronic degenerative diseases, mental health struggles and metabolic dysfunction could be remedied by providing the body with sufficient nutrients each day to run remodeling and repair processes. When you adopt the mindset of nourishing your body, there is no need for diets, cleanses or annual resets. This just becomes a way of life and a way to continue to build health and support the body!


Visit the Discover Blogs for Amy’s recipes and health features



Amy Slater

Amy Slater

Amy Slater is a mother of two sets of twins (two boys and two girls) and currently practices as a women’s health coach. Amy has been in the health and fitness field for 22+ years with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, a fellowship in Applied Functional Science, and several advanced certifications. She is currently working toward her NP with an emphasis in Functional Medicine. Keep up with Amy on her Instagram and Facebook, and learn more on her website!


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