Today’s blog is going to be very brief. I started back to work last week, and it is a whirlwind. Next week I am off to our trade show, so I have barely any time to spare with getting ready for it both personally, and professionally.
Now that things are so hectic, I want to show you how I made it through last week food wise, and what my plans are for this week. Actually, my meal plan will be the same. The goal is to remain satisfied, and of course, on track.
Following is my food plan for my trip (which is 4 days in Las Vegas).
Lunch will be “take out” at the trade show, and dinner will be in restaurants. I will make the best, most mindful choices possible. I may treat myself a little, but I have made a decision that I will not order any desserts this trip.
Feel free to send your tips on how you manage in trying times. I know I can learn from you too. And as always, your comments, critiques, and questions are always welcome.
Finding a Balance between the Mundane and the Exciting
Each and every morning the first thing I do when I get out of bed are stretching exercises for my lower back. There are definitely mornings I don’t feel like it, but I do them anyway. The benefit outweighs the alternative, which for me is stiffness and ultimately pain. And I’ve made it a habit. I look at eating the same way. Not every meal or snack has to be sexy. Sometimes food is just fuel. Developing any new habit takes work, especially eating habits. Food is so connected to our emotions, our families, our cultures, but sometimes it is necessary to take a step back and examine what we are actually ingesting, and what the effects are on our bodies, our overall health.
Making small changes in our eating habits will improve our health, impact our relationships with our families and friends, and ultimately help us to learn to love and care for ourselves. Start with baby steps. Maybe just set a goal to drink more water today. Another small goal may be to plan and prepare a breakfast or lunch meal that will keep you away from that fast food restaurant you always go to. As we find ourselves successful with these new behaviors, we can slowly develop them into habits and expand on them from there.
I found this article that explains habit development better than I can. You can also check out “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg for a better understanding.
There is no meal prep today, as I am still working from home this week. What I am going to do for you is to provide a list of my favorite go-to snack items to help me stay successful on my maintenance journey. Mine might vary from yours, as it’s important for me and my success that my “trigger foods” are not on this list.
On the Go
These are just a few ideas for you. Take the time to walk the aisles of your grocery stores. Read the labels to help you make the best choices for yourself. If you are a WW member, use your scanner in the app as well.
This weekend I was invited to a rare event. One of my very best friends, whom I met in the 8th grade, graciously hosted a reunion party at his home last night. The guest list included people I had literally known since the first grade. Some of these girls were in my Brownie troop! I was both excited and nervous, but it turned out to be a love filled hug fest. I need to tip my cap to Facebook for this. FB gets a lot of guff these days, but for people like us, who have spread all over California, in this case, it really is a blessing. It brought us together so that we could reconnect in this phase of our lives.
I knew I needed a game plan with regard to the food situation. The host was bringing in Bar B Q from a well known restaurant in LA. I also knew that several guests were contributing vegetarian dishes, such as salads, Tabbouleh, homemade Hummus https://draxe.com/what-is-hummus/, and Baba Ganoush. Eggplant Parmesan and minestrone soup were also brought in by others.
I started the day with a healthy, hearty breakfast with my WW tribe after our 7:30 am workshop. Early afternoon I had a small lunch, but at about 3, I had another snack of low fat cottage cheese and apricots (protein & healthy carbs). I actually felt too full after that, but I did not want to go to that party hungry. In between, I went to the pool to water jog for about an hour. Besides the workout, it helped calm my nerves about seeing all of these people after so many years.
My game plan worked! I wasn’t starving by the time dinner was served, but I was ready to eat. I served myself small portions of the various vegetarian selections, and dodged the BBQ, as tempting as it was. I also indulged in a couple glasses of wine, and a small serving of a homemade cake for dessert, which was definitely worth it. I felt light, and on my toes the entire evening.
Pumpkin is not just for fall, you know. It’s a delicious low calorie fruit filled with fiber, minerals, and anti oxidant vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Canned pure pumpkin puree is available year round in super markets everywhere.
First of all, since this was a test, I decided to just make half of the original recipe. Instead of a casserole, I thought that muffins would be more practical for me. I did a little arithmetic, and came up with the right ratio of cottage cheese to pumpkin. Here is my recipe:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Makes 6 muffins.
3/4 cup cultured low fat cottage cheese (you can use the cottage cheese of your choice)
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 tbsp gluten free baking flour (you can use any type of flour you like)
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp baking powder
about a 1/2 tsp each of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to season.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Check them with a toothpick. Insert it, and if it comes out dry, they are ready. Remove from oven, and let cool so that they are easily removed from your muffin tin.
Notes: I did not use a sweetener. After tasting the final product, I feel that I would heat these up a little, and maybe drizzle a little low sugar or sugar free fruit jam to this before eating. I would also add a little vanilla to the recipe next time. I am going to eat these with breakfast or as a snack. They come out dry, like any muffin, so are easy to pack if you are on the go.
Thank you for stopping by. Your comments, critiques, and questions are always welcome.
Wishing you a great couple of weeks. I’m taking next week off, as I will be celebrating my birthday with friends and family next weekend! And when you hear from me again, I will be back meal prepping for the office. I’m going back to work!
And WHOOSH! It’s already the middle of summer! I hope you have taken some time to care for yourselves and try some new things. I did! As you know, almost all of my workouts are in the pool, although I do some walking workouts as well. At the beginning of the summer I participated in a free trial at The Perfect Workout https://www.theperfectworkout.com. It’s circuit strength training, but in slow motion. With a trainer. I loved it. I’m so glad I tried it. I plan to make it part of my workout mix soon.
This week’s new food discovery is Bolt House Cole Slaw dressing. For the 4th of July we made baby back ribs. I know, a little bit of a cheat day for me, but it had been so long since I’d had them, and they were so good. Worth it. My husband seasoned them with Trader Joe’s Chile Lime Seasoning Blend, then baked them, lightly covered with tin foil in a slow oven (250 degrees) for about 2 1/2 hours. During the last 1/2 hour he removed the foil and basted them with our favorite bbq sauce, and increased the temperature to 350 degrees. It’s important to allow them to rest a bit before serving. A perfect prep if you like your ribs falling off the bone like we do. Our side dish was coleslaw made with this dressing, celery salt, and celery seeds. Every flavor of Bolt House dressings I have tried have been delicious. They are rich, and do not taste low cal at all https://www.bolthouse.com/. They are located in the refrigerator section in the produce department of the grocery store.
I’ve gotten back into cottage cheese over the last couple of weeks. I was craving a change from non fat Greek yogurt. I bought the low fat cultured cottage cheese, and really enjoyed the creaminess and texture of it. So far I’ve only used it with fruit for breakfast, but am looking forward to using it for savory meals and snacks as well. I want to try it with Everything But The Bagel seasoning, for example. I also want to try it layered with steamed vegetables, as was suggested to me by a good friend. Watch for those preps in later blogs.
At the beginning of today’s blog, I brought up the importance of taking care of ourselves, taking time for ourselves. Make that facial or massage appointment. Read that book. Go to the beach by yourself or with your best friend. Take time to care for yourself and give yourself a big loving hug. You deserve it.
That’s all for today! As always, your comments, questions, and critiques are welcome.
Just want to share this awesome moment in time that happened yesterday. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go for a rare mid week swim. As happy as I was to be at the pool, my head was cluttered with “to dos” and the general weight of my current situation. As I was getting ready to get in, I noticed the gentleman in the water that I had seen from time to time since I’ve been swimming, over the last 12 years or so. This man had had a stroke. When I first saw him all those years ago, he could barely move. He needed help getting in and out of the water, and was in a wheel chair. He was definitely using the pool as physical therapy at that time. Over the years, I have seen him slowly improve to the point where he now walks with a cane. He also now swims just like any of us. So I sat down to swim in the lane beside him yesterday. He looked up at me with the biggest smile you have ever seen and said, “Hello beautiful person”! All of my cares dropped away at that moment and I was filled with pure joy. Oh what a feeling! And how grateful I felt to be healthy and free to live my life, financial and job problems aside. This is the true meaning of life, I thought, as I went on to swim my laps.
Today, starting a new day, I am carrying that joy with me, feeling grateful for everyone and everything. I am healthy, I am happy, I am loved, and I feel love. What else is there?
This subject may sound familiar. I wrote about this several weeks back, in the blog titled “What Level are You At?” I’m bringing this back up, because I, myself, have been struggling with this during this time of working at home, and it seems to come up a lot on the various WW groups on Facebook. I find it a worthy subject to bring up again. Also because my WW coach, the great Amy B. brought this invaluable chart out again. For me, this is the key to remembering to eat mindfully.
Many of us were brought up to clean our plates, not to waste food. But when we over eat, we feel sick, and then we also beat ourselves up for it. The challenge is to realize what that sweet spot is for us which is satisfied, satiated. Some things we can do to help with this are to eat more slowly, to eat without distraction, and to really notice how we are feeling as we eat through a plate of food, healthy or otherwise. The new WW Freestyle program is based on 0 point foods, which is wonderful, but we have to remember that all food has calories. Portion control is key, even while eating those 0 point foods.
On the other side of the spectrum is not to allow ourselves to starve either. If we allow ourselves to get that hungry, we tend to lose complete control over our food choices and portion control. We all need to work on finding that balance.
I hope you save this chart that I posted in your phones, or print it and put it up on your refrigerator. Somewhere that will remind you to stay within that comfort zone. Being self aware, and learning about our bodies will help with our weight loss and maintenance journeys, I guarantee you.
Today’s meal prep focuses on the nightshade varieties of fruits and vegetables. I kind of started this last week with the tomato blog, but took it a step further today. Nightshades have gotten a little bit of a bad wrap. There is a myth out there that nightshades can cause inflammation, but there is no scientific evidence to support that claim. For the most part they are nutritious, healthy foods. Some people are sensitive to them, as they contain a chemical called solanine, which can aggravate arthritis pain and inflammation. If you feel any mouth tingling or itching when eating these foods, consult your doctor. For more information on nightshades and their health benefits and risks, please consult the following articles:
Here is a list of common nightshade vegetables and fruits, most of which are components in the roasted ratatouille dish I made today:
So I had a package of Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi in my freezer calling my name today. I also had left over tomato sauce from the can of Italian tomatoes I used in my gazpacho last week. And I love me some ratatouille. And I love a roasted eggplant. Today I combined all of this deliciousness into my lunch meal prep for this week.
I really kind of made this up as I went. I roasted a whole eggplant yesterday. It baked in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. After it cooled, I scraped out the meat and stored it in my refrigerator. Today I took a red onion, a red bell pepper, a zucchini, and a summer squash and roasted them together. After spraying them with canola oil, and seasoning them with salt & pepper, I roasted them in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring them a couple of times. I took some of that reserved tomato sauce that I had, put it on a low heat, then seasoned it with dried basil, thyme, and rosemary. I also added 3 cubes of Dorot frozen garlic to the sauce. I cooked the gnocchi according to the instructions on the package, then tossed them with the sauce. I then layered the veggies and sauced gnocchi s in my dish to store in the refrigerator. I cannot wait to eat this tomorrow. It smelled so good!
Yesterday, I was gifted a bag full of home grown lemons by my friend Marcy who came out to have lunch with me. Today I used them to make strawberry lemonade popsicles. I substituted the sugar in the recipe with Stevia. So fun. I had some of the mixture left over, so it’s in the freezer in a Pyrex pan becoming a granita of sorts.
I used what I had in the house, and kept it very healthy, and low in points and calories. I combined 1/4 cup of Old Fashioned Oats per serving with 1/2 cup of chia seeds, and 2 tablespoons each of Splenda Brown Sugar blend and Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. I layered in a couple of cups of chopped, pitted fresh cherries, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. When I serve myself, I’ll top this with about a teaspoon of toasted sliver almonds. I do still have cherries left over, but those will go great with my fat free plain Greek yogurt, or fat free cottage cheese snacks.
Note the tip for filling snacks here: combine a small portion of a healthy protein with a fruit or vegetable. String cheese and an apple is another good example of this. Circling back to The Comfort Zone, don’t allow yourself to get so hungry that you lose control. Healthful snacks during the day or after dinner are essential.
Thank you for visiting my friends. As always, I welcome your comments, questions, and critiques.
If you didn’t already know this, tomatoes are a fruit disguised as a vegetable. They are low calorie and low carb. They provide vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium.
There are so many varieties of tomatoes to choose from: beefsteak, cherry, roma, green, grape, to name a few, and of course the many varieties of heirloom tomatoes as well. For a complete list of tomato varieties, visit this link: https://www.naturefresh.ca/types-of-tomatoes-guide/
Tomatoes are so versatile. They are great raw in salads, sandwiches, and in cold soups, which is what I did with them today. They can be scrambled into eggs, chopped into a salsa, made into jam, oven roasted, sun dried, stuffed, and made into sauces and soups.
Today I made my favorite gazpacho recipe. I found this years ago when I first started with WW. I began my WW journey back in May 2012. In my first meeting/ orientation, my leader, the great Amy B. told me about the magic of soups and weight loss. I immediately began meal prepping for my workweek that weekend, with the classic WW vegetable soup, which I loved, and did start losing weight immediately with. I began to experiment with the vegetable soup concept, and developed flavor profiles for Italian, Mexican, and Asian varieties of that basic WW soup recipe. As summer approached, I began to investigated cold soups. Since I have always loved tomatoes, I gravitated towards classic gazpacho soups. I read many recipes, and tried several. I ran across this one in my Cooking Light Magazine, loved it, and have stuck to it since. Here is the link to that recipe:
This recipe is so easy, that there are no shortcuts needed. Note in the photo above, that this recipe is made in the blender. No cooking involved whatsoever. I have never made the lemon shrimp part of the recipe. I use this as a lunch meal prep, and enjoy adding cooked frozen shrimp to this, or whatever lean protein I have available at the moment. I follow the recipe as written, but I add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice for additional acidity.
I am continuing my love affair with stone fruit this week. I bought cherries, which I pitted (see link below) so they are ready to add to my yogurt bowl in the morning. And this week, I bought donut peaches (also known as Saturn peaches), and apricots, as well.