Real Food Whole Life

Ask Robyn

LifestyleRobyn Downs4 Comments

I've collected your questions about food, meal planning, fitness, and the blog and today I'm excited to share my answers with you!

Robyn Conley Downs from Real Food Whole Life.

On Eating

1 | What are your go-to meals & snacks when you're super busy? 

My go-to, super-fast breakfast of choice is a smoothie, though as I type this I realize there really aren’t many smoothie recipes on Real Food Whole Life as of yet. Maybe I’ll need to remedy that soon! 

I usually just throw together a combination of nut butter or coconut oil, frozen bananas, ground flax seed, greens, maybe some frozen berries, and Super-Fast Cashew Milk. If it’s not a smoothie then I’m usually eating some quickly scrambled eggs, with an avocado if there’s time to cut one up.

Lunch is very often something defrosted from the freezer. I couldn’t survive without leftovers! Whenever we have leftover soups, stews, chilis, or the like, I freeze the leftovers in jars. That way there’s always something ready when I need it. 

Dinner is usually a recipe from Real Food Whole Life (either current or in development!) I rely heavily on stir-fries, pasta, tacos, and the slow cooker to get dinner on the table in a hurry.

Snacks are admittedly on the boring side, but that’s what makes them easy. An apple with almond or sunflower butter, a hard boiled egg with some almonds or an apple, or Greek yogurt with some no-sugar added jam and walnuts are my snacks of choice at home or at work.

2 | Do you have any snack recommendations to keep in the car that don’t require refrigeration or heating for someone on the go all day with their car as a home base?

I feel like I need to write an entire post on setting up a meal kit for your car! In the meantime, here are some ideas. A bag of nuts (almonds, cashews, whatever you like), some apples, some nut butter packets, a few “clean” energy bars (I like Larabars because they only use a few, real-food ingredients; Coconut Cream Pie is my favorite flavor), and some crackers (I like these). Sometimes I’ve been known to use these squeeze pouches as snacks, too!

All of these items can fit neatly into a small bag or box and be stored in your car. Refresh your stock once a week and you’ll never be caught without snacks when you’re out and about all day.

3 | What is your best tip for getting more energy?

There are two strategies I use to boost my daily energy. First, I try to cut back on, or eliminate entirely, refined sugar from my diet. It can be difficult, since the more tired I am the more sugar I want! But eliminating the sugar helps me stabilize blood sugar and gives me energy in the long term.

The second strategy is taking 10 minutes to get some fresh air. I find my energy lags around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. I’m often tempted to grab caffeine or sugar, but have found that a very short 10 minute walk gives me the energy I need to get through the rest of the day.

4 | How often do you eat red meat?

I know there is a lot of conflicting advice out there about how often to eat red meat, which can be confusing. We eat it in moderation, about once or twice a week in the form of pasta sauce (this recipe and this recipe are two of our favorites) or in the form of homemade burger night. I choose to buy grass-fed beef, which even on sale, can be pricy so we limit our consumption to just a handful of times per week.

On Planning

5 | How much time do you really spend on meal planning and prep? Can you give me a real day in the life or breakdown for your entire week (planning, grocery shopping, prep, cooking?) 

This is such a great question and one that I plan on diving much deeper into in January (I have so many exciting posts and resources planned!). The short answer (for now) is that I spend about half an hour per week planning and list making, an hour and a half once a week at the grocery store (including driving time), and an hour every other week meal prepping.

Then dinner usually takes 10-20 minutes the night before if I’m prepping a slow cooker meal or 25-45 minutes the night of to make dinner. We usually eat dinner out once a week and I eat lunch out about once a week.

I think if the process is taking longer it’s not that you’re doing it wrong; this stuff does take time! There are some shortcuts and timesavers, though, which I’m looking forward to sharing very soon.

On Process

6 | As an avid baker myself, I want to know how many times you try a recipe out before you have all of the ingredients/proportions exactly right? 

My hat is off to you, avid bakers of the world! I’m a novice baker at best, so I always get incredibly nervous to share any type of baking-related recipe with the world. I typically test a recipe at least 3 times if my first attempt isn’t terrible to begin with.

I tend to share recipes that have a little more “wiggle room,” though, like pancakes, muffins, and quick-breads that leave a little room for error. I imagine more complicated recipes or those using finicky ingredients (like gluten-free) might take a few more rounds of testing.

7 | How do you determine what will go in each recipe? 

I love this question! I usually can formulate a recipe in my mind and image which ingredients will work together. I also think about what’s in season and try to take full advantage of seasonal produce when possible. I try to incorporate lots of fruits and veggies.

Then I try to cut out as many ingredients as possible. This is hard for me because I always want to throw in a few more things, but I imagine cooking the meal when pressed for time and this forces me to pare down to the absolute essentials. I also try to avoid unfamiliar or hard-to-find ingredients and to incorporate as many fridge and pantry staples as possible.

On Fitness

8 | What do you do when you don't want to workout? 

The simplest answer is I do it anyway. This was actually one of my biggest breakthroughs when I started on my post-baby weight loss journey; that I try not to even think about whether I want to or not. I just schedule it into my day and then press play or show up. Over time it’s gotten to the point where I really don’t think about it at all.

If I’m really struggling with motivation I try to remind myself how I feel when I’m done working out, or about the downward slide I start to feel when I skip too many. I focus on the fact that it’s my energy-boost, my mental health saver, and my self-care time, and then I’m less likely to skip!

9 | Do you do other workouts besides barre3?

Yes, if you count walking working out. I try to get a walk in everyday (even 10 minutes counts), and walk the hills around my house as often as I can. I recently discovered a few podcasts I love, which makes walking alone a lot more fun. I also walk for an hour or two on the weekends with Andrew or my best friend. 

I’m an avid hiker, too, but admittedly less so in the winter months. The key for me has been finding the things I truly love doing and trying to do those things as often as possible.

On Real Food Whole Life

10 | What’s your favorite recipe on the site?

Oh my gosh, I have no idea! I love so many of them. Maybe the Pumpkin Pancakes because they are currently Elle’s favorite and Andrew can make them from the site on his own. A highlight of having the blog is coming downstairs to see him making pancakes from the site for Elle. Good stuff. Super-Fast Cashew Milk is another favorite because it takes about 1 minute to make and is in my fridge constantly.

11 | Is Real Food Whole Life your “real” job?

No, it’s not. Maybe someday? I work full-time running my parents’ business, a small education consulting company. I write and shoot Real Food Whole Life on nights and weekends. I squeeze it into all my fringe hours because I simply love the opportunity it provides to share and teach this way of eating and living. And connecting with you guys; that’s the best part!

Have other questions? Leave them for me in the comments or contact me here.

Follow along with Real Food Whole Life for healthy recipes, meal plans, and tips straight to your inbox by subscribing here.