Fueling Guide to the Perplexed

Coach Gin’s Fueling Guide to the Perplexed

See all the fuelings at: coachgin.tsfl.com

When I first made what was to be my most favorite Take Shape for Life fueling of all time – the brownie – I followed the directions on the package and it turned into a bonafide hockey puck. I thought to myself, “How does anyone eat these things long enough to lose any weight?!?” Yes, I was truly perplexed.

Thankfully, I figured out how to make them the way that really floats my boat. Probably over 100 brownies later (rough estimate!) I am at my healthy BMI on a steady diet of at least one Medifast brownie a day. It would seem that microwave ovens DO indeed vary, and that microwaves have generally become more powerful since they were used to create the original packet instructions. As a general rule, start with the amount of time that it says on the packet if it instructs you to stir midway. Then, just add 20-30 seconds at a time and test it out. Sometimes it’s better to let the carryover heat cook it a bit more than zapping it again. Everyone’s tastebuds are different.

Rest assured – if you give it some time you’ll figure out what does it for you!

Sharing my tips here – hope it helps you out!

  • Bars

“I bought too many bars” …. said no one ever.

They are portable, convenient, and delicious. No-brainers. And did I already mention they are all delicious? I advise some clients who may be sensitive to sugar alcohols to focus on the OPTAVIA™ bars (which also have probiotics, to boot!) and the chewy bars (cookie dough and chewy peanut butter bars).

You can even use any bar as cereal! Check out this delightful pic of my Fruit & Nut bar crumbled with some almond milk. Tastes just like granola 🙂

  • Soft Bakes

The brownie, chocolate chip, blueberry, gingerbread and now the OPTAVIA™ Cinnamon Cream Cheese Swirl Cake just need 30 seconds in the microwave, and let the carryover cook the rest. Nothing beats these items with a little squirt of sugar free whipped cream. You can also turn them all into waffles in the waffle maker, muffins, and cookies. These products in my opinion make the plan SHEER GENIUS. Makes you feel like you’re cheating all the time on your low carb plan, but you’re NOT! Ask yourself if you can lose weight eating brownies all day… yep. I did!

These transformation are possible with adding just 2 tbsp water + 2 tbsp egg beaters or egg whites and 1/4 tsp. baking powder. Generous Pam and a super hot iron will produce these results.

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  • Calorie Burn Cappuccino and Hot Cocoa

I have an instant hot faucet at home. I recommend just using hot boiling water, and adding a few tablespoons at a time to make a paste. Stir it up, and then add more hot water as desired. I like to add some unsweetened almond milk (1 g of carbs or less per serving = 1 condiment) and also add some sugar free Da Vinci flavored syrup (2 tsp per cup for 1/3 of a condiment) as amazing flavoring.

Some clients ask me why anyone would want to drink their fueling. A few smart reasons to get these products (and the cold powdered juice flavored one, too!) are: you are a commuter and would like to sip your hot beverage on the train/bus in a travel mug (I LOVE my Contigo! It locks in my pocketbook and is leak proof!); you are a teacher or work in a business where it might be rude to eat in front of people but bringing a beverage to a meeting is super normal and you’re not out of place; or sometimes you have trouble “getting all the fuelings in” and a drink will do the trick.

**There are also those pesky times that you hope won’t happen, but do – such as a dentist appointment that has your whole mouth numb and you’re only allowed liquids, or a terrible flu that hits and you can’t get down anything that isn’t liquid. Another good item to get are the snack crackers in case you are nauseous – there’s not reason to go off plan because you just “had” to have a cracker 🙂


  • OPTAVIA™ Buttermilk Cheddar Herb Biscuit with Mediterranean Rosemary and Moroccan Thyme

This is just a must-have item. Microwave it in the tray for one minute, split it open, and you have a great biscuit! Use some of your lean to make a great sandwich!


Perhaps my favorite thing to make with this product is the OPTA-makeover I saw on Kitchen-Tested.com — YES, it’s a mini pizza! About the size of a mini-bagel.


  • Crunchers

One great point about these items are that they don’t melt in the heat. Try them dipped into a condiment for a real treat (i.e. use 1 condiment of cream cheese with the cinnamon pretzel sticks = a little bit of heaven).

  • Ziti Marinara & Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

This was a favorite of mine on the 5&1, because it smells amazing and is very filling. The trick is to heat up for two minutes, stir it, and then zap in 30 minute increments. I like mine a little soupy, and add just a tablespoon of shredded cheese (subtracted off my lean) for an amazing fueling at mealtime. Make sure to use a high sided bowl and place a plate underneath – lest the precious food over-spills.

Check out a video of what it should look like here!

  • Mashed Potatoes

Who wants to eat a bowl of mashed potatoes? This is a client favorite. Both varieties taste amazing. They can be made by adding instant hot water, and just let them sit there for a minute. They are also incredibly versatile.

Bake them into a knish shape or pizza crust shape in the oven, and top them with sauce and cheese

Make them into a crispy hash brown delight in the waffle maker. You can even slice them in half and add a little cheese to make a great “sandwich”

Make them into potato pancakes (latkes)

You can add more water and make them into soup (I add sauteed leeks to the garlic one and have potato leek soup on a cold winter’s day; add Parmesan or a little shredded to the our cream one as a soup and it’s just delightful! Plus you can puree just about any on plan vegetable and add it to the soup for a super filling meal! Just remember to deduct these add-ons from your allotted lean & green)

  • Mac n’ Cheese

I prefer to make these fuelings on the stovetop with almond milk in place of water. Just cook on low heat – and slow. Great result! You can add some broccoli or other on plan vegetable and Parmesan cheese for a larger meal. If your noodles keep coming out crunchy, try soaking them in a bowl overnight in the almond milk, then cooking them on the stovetop.


  • Soups

Using instant hot water works really well for the tomato bisque soup. It’s important to let the soups sit which have “stuff” in them, so that anything in the soup really gets soft. You can let them soak for 3 hours. You might have to then zap these soups a little (even after instant hot water) to make sure the heat really cooks the beans & rice through.

  • Oatmeal

I just really love this oatmeal. It’s not grainy the way I make it. I use instant hot water, and then zap it in the microwave for one minute. Make sure to use a high sided bowl and place a plate underneath – lest the precious food over-spills. I like to have it with just a tablespoon of Walden Farms Pancake Syrup. My favorites are the Blueberry Syrup on the Blueberry Oatmeal, and the Walnut Pancake Syrup on everything else.

You can also make this into a cookie, waffle, or a muffin.

  • OPTAVIA™ Cereals

Indonesian Cinnamon and Honey Hot Cereal with Chia Seeds from Bolivia, Quinoa, and Whole Grain Barley

OPTAVIA™ Wild Blueberry Almond Hot Cereal with Chia Seeds from Bolivia and Supergrains

These are among my favorite fuelings (I just crave the bluberry one!).  The secret is to NOT expect you’re eating an oatmeal. And to zap it just a few seconds shy of what is recommended. In my microwave it took 40 seconds and some carryover time to be nice and delicious. I added some Walden Farms pancake syrup to my Indonesian Honey hot cereal.

  • Pancakes

The pancakes are universally some of the best loved fuelings. The best way to make them is to substitute some of the water for egg whites, which makes them fluffier. I recommend 2 tbsp. A small egg pan is the perfect way to ensure that they come out just the right size. You can also put them in the waffle maker (but I actually prefer the thicker soft bakes for the waffle maker). Some make the original pancakes and use them to wrap one sausage link for a savory breakfast (subtract off the lean). You can also easily transform these into muffins. I particularly like the combination of zucchini puree with the spice pancakes.

The zucchini pan is there to show scale…


  • Puddings

I love the puddings because they can be instantly made with cold water and just whisked. A plastic fork does very nicely. Add the water slowly to get the consistency you want. I never had any need to put it in the refrigerator to “firm up.” Ain’t nobody got time for that anyhow. Add a serving of sugar free whipped cream for a condiment and it’s an awesome fueling!


For a special variation, you can also add a little Sugar Free Da Vinci syrup to the pudding instead of the water (i.e. chocolate pudding + SF butter rum; chocolate + SF Irish cream; vanilla pudding + SF amaretto).


  • Soft Serve

The soft serve is amazing when made in a really good blender, like a Ninja, nutribullet or vitamix. I managed to find a Ninja Master Prep set on Amazon for $40 that does a great job.  I previously had a mini Hamilton Beach blender that just didn’t make the cut. It’s possible that it was just old. You really need for the ice to be made into snow. Clients have also made these flavors into shakes and have been very happy.

See all the fuelings at: coachgin.tsfl.com

Contact me to get started on your optimal health journey! gininthekitchen@gmail.com