Meal Prep Planning

Hello, friends! Happy Weekend! I happen to have a busy one planned with family, and it will include a lot of driving. Not sure if I will be able to blog tomorrow, but I wanted to share my meal prep plans with you, since I have almost no time to do it this weekend. After my WW Zoom meeting this morning, which was proceeded by our WW Tribe Tailgate (one of my favorite parts of the weekend), I went out to Trader Joe’s to pick up my provisions.

I subscribe to many food blogs for inspiration and research, and yesterday I was inspired by this healthy, fresh, easy to make and store cucumber radish salad from https://diethood.com/: https://diethood.com/radish-cucumber-tomato-salad/. Of course I am making some changes to fit my needs, which are to have the vegetables keep for a few days. In place of tomatoes I am using red pepper, and in place of diced red onions, I am using green onions. I am also adding arugula for that leafy green I love so much. Also, instead of making the creamy yogurt dressing (which sounds so good, and I will make it at some point) for this week, I am using my simple red wine vinaigrette, which I already have prepared.

The simple fixings for my cucumber radish salad this week

For my proteins, I actually have a selection, all of which are very easy to prepare on the fly.

My lean protein selection for the week. All can easily be paired with the multi grain 100 calorie English muffins I have in the house and some yummy condiments.

Last Sunday I tried yellow watermelon for the first time, as was shown on the blog. It was gorgeous, sweet, and delicious. This week I am trying cherry plums, as suggested by dear friend Judie. I think trying a new seasonal vegetable or fruit each week is a great habit to get into. They are 0 points, low in calories, carbs, and fat, and could add quite nicely to your food prep repertoire.

Cherry Plums. Can’t wait to taste. I’ll report back.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends! I’m off! Stay safe and healthy. Wear your mask, and wash those hands. And remember to take a little time for yourselves.

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Day of Experiments

Instead of going out for a fancy al fresco dinner for my birthday this week, we opted to invest the money in an instant pot/ air fryer. Honestly, it’s so exciting. Today was my first experiment with it. After it took me almost an hour to figure out how to work the lid of the instant pot, I was on my way. Honestly, I am THE most un-mechanical, least handy person I know. Maybe besides my brother…. ;).

I decided to make my favorite chicken shawarma from https://www.jocooks.com/, and lo and behold, she added an instant pot version on to her website now: https://www.jocooks.com/recipes/instant-pot-chicken-shawarma/. If you have been following by blog you know that this is one of my favorite recipes, and I have made it often. We pair it with simply hummus, and tzatziki sauce when we have it for dinner. Today, I followed Jo’s instant pot technique, then air fried the chicken for 5 minutes to give it a little crust. Note: since the chicken breast was just over 1 pound, I looked up the cooking time on line. It gave me 7 minutes. I will do 8 minutes next time. The chicken breast came out slightly underdone, but since I will be reheating it in the microwave at work, it should be just fine, and not dry when I eat it.

Instant Pot Chicken Shawarma. I marinated it overnight for best results.

Now comes the really fun part – the air frying! My plan was to air fry eggplant and zucchini to go with my chicken shawarma for lunch. As I looked up recipes and techniques on the interwebs, I found one that did not require any breading. In fact the seasoning technique was the same as if I were going to roast the vegetables. No mess from the breading process, and no bread. Brilliant. https://www.melaniecooks.com/air-fryer-eggplant

Air Fried Eggplant and Zucchini seasoned with s&p, granulated garlic, onion powder, sumac (for the middle eastern flavor), and cumin, then tossed with just enough good olive oil to coat the veggies.

My middle eastern feast for the week is complete. Just one more thing – my fun new summer fruit of the week:

Fresh and sweet – Yellow Watermelon

Thank you for joining me today. Try something new this week: a new recipe, cooking technique, fruit, or vegetable. Experiment! And take good care of yourself! Stay safe and healthy. Wear your mask and wash your hands.

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Birthday Week

During the Pandemic

And so begins my birthday week during the pandemic. I honestly don’t mind celebrating quietly. We did that for my husband’s birthday in April when things were really shut down. It’s more about missing celebrating with my dear lifelong friends who also have birthdays this month. One good thing – my local pool is finally reopening this week. I swim on Tuesday afternoon for the first time since mid March. I just cannot wait. My poor sore, orthopedically challenged body is ready for the water! Happy Birthday week to me!

I kept it simple this week again for my lunch prep. I was inspired by a meal prep I found on my new favorite culinary blog, https://www.flavcity.com/. Here is the link to the prep that inspired me: https://www.flavcity.com/low-fat-meal-prep. I made marinara turkey meatballs and a zucchini, summer squash, and tomato saute to accompany them. I realized that if you start any saute with good olive oil, onions, and garlic you can add any vegetable you want and it will turn out yummy. I seasoned the veggie mixture liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. The main dish is Trader Joe’s Frozen Fully Cooked Turkey Meatballs, and my new favorite marinara sauce. Silver Palate Low Sodium Marinara (found at Ralph’s) is 60 calories/ 3 points for a 1/2 cup serving. But it is just 6% sodium, and has 0 added sugars. The ingredients are clean and pure. No preservatives. And it’s delicious. The turkey meatballs are processed, but still fairly clean, and of course convenient to prepare, and delicious to eat. They are 100 calories/ 3 points for a serving of 2. I am having 3 meatballs per serving for lunch for 4 points.

The fixings for this week’s lunch prep.
And the finished products. The Parmesan cheese mix will top my lunch plate.

I am switching it up just a little for breakfast this week too. I have been having non fat Greek yogurt bowls with bananas, blueberries, flax meal, and chia seeds, along with a hard boiled egg each morning, along with my mock chai tea latte (Trader Joe’s chai spiced tea bags with unsweetened vanilla almond milk). It’s good, but it’s getting boring (not the tea; must have my chai tea in the morning). I got inspired by this egg stuffed peppers idea I found on Pinterest: https://skinnyms.com/egg-stuffed-peppers. I substituted the cheese for Nutritional Yeast (https://www.marthastewart.com/7796957/nutritional-yeast-explained). Less fat and calories, but a nice cheesy flavor. I will still have my yogurt bowl in the morning, in a smaller portion, and one of these.

Super simple, healthy veggie and egg prep for the morning

Make it a great week my friends. Stay safe, stay healthy, wear your mask, and wash your hands. Thanks so much for stopping by. Any critiques, questions, and comments are always welcome.

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Quick Meal Preps for Busy Weekends

Busy work weeks translate to busier weekends. Happily, I am maintaining the balance of getting things done vs down time. It just requires a little more planning. I am now writing things down and keeping a calendar, so that now everything fits in the way I want it to. Honestly, the only piece of my puzzle that is missing is swimming. When that opens up, I will pivot again, as to ensure the harmony that I so desire.

In addition to my meal preps needing to be quick, easy, clean (not processed) foods, anti inflammatory diet friendly, as well as low in calories and WW points, they also need to be easy to put together in the morning as well as in my work place when getting ready to eat them. I don’t ask for much ;).

Today I put together a quick and easy ground chicken taco mixture. I started my sauteing my diced red onions in a skillet, then adding the chicken, which I seasoned simply with s&p, a generous amount of cumin, dried oregano, and a couple of the frozen garlic cubes. I added canned diced tomatoes with chilies, a can of mild diced green chilies, and a can of pinto beans, which I drained and rinsed. I also ended up adding some frozen spinach. As I was cooking, I realized needed more veg, specifically a dark leafy green (for that anti inflammatory aspect I want every week).

Here is my lunch side salad for this week. Cabbage slaw mixed with broccoli slaw, dressed with Bolthouse Farms Coleslaw Yogurt dressing for 50 calories/ 1 point for 2 tablespoons. By the way, I have 2 tablespoon containers I use, so my dressings are always pre-measured.
Full Meal. Lunch prep, ready to pack. BTW, the cheese gets packed in a 2 tablespoon container same as my salad dressings. Pre-measuring is key for me.

Last week I did a different easy lunch prep that involved very little time, and very little cooking. I did a Greek salad with a little roasted chicken breast. I made a super simple red wine vinaigrette for this. It’s 1/3 cups red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup water, a half teaspoon each of s&p, and I added dried oregano because it was for a Greek salad, after all.

Beautiful fresh ingredients for my Greek salad with roasted chicken breast. Not shown are the Trader Joe’s light feta, and kalmata olives that made the salad so tasty.
The final dish

I hope that these quick and easy lunch preps inspire you to find your own that make you happy. Meal planning and prep do not have to be complicated, or take all day. The interwebs are full of great ideas. It is so easy these days to find culinary inspiration, and to hack a recipe to fit your dietary needs and desires. Here is a short list of some of my favorite blogs/ websites for meal prep inspiration:

https://www.hungry-girl.com/recipes

https://thepounddropper.com/

https://skinnyms.com/category/recipes/

https://www.flavcity.com/

https://diethood.com/

Make it a great week, my friends. Stay safe and healthy. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Take good care of yourselves.

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Baking Baby Boomer Mermaid Style

Recipe Conversion Success!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Blondies

I have been fooling around with recipe conversions in baking for as long as I can remember, substituting applesauce for oil, experimenting with sugar substitutes, adding pumpkin or other fruits or vegetables to recipes, using egg whites, etc.

My paternal grandmother was the quintessential home baker, and I always wanted to be her, except at a healthy weight. Granted, I bake mostly very simple things like bars, and crisps. Grandma Kate baked the most beautiful challahs, cookies, and coffee cakes. Her kitchen was like a little baking factory. I have experienced many successes as well as failures with my baking experiments, but today was a grand success and I wanted to share it with you. I know Grandma Kate is proud.

Here is the recipe: https://thecafesucrefarine.com/peanut-butter-and-jelly-blondies/

As you can see by my photo, I used peanut butter powder in place of creamy peanut butter, slashing the fat and calories (and WW points). I also used a low sugar fruit spread in place of regular jelly. I did also use Splenda brown sugar instead of regular brown sugar. I used the same measurements as called for in the recipe. I am blown away at how delicious and creamy and peanut buttery my blondies are. Please give this a try.

I want to call out another recent baking success – another recipe for you to try. No substitutes needed. This brownie recipe is written perfectly: https://www.skinnykitchen.com/recipes/tag/skinny-brownies/. These are delicious, and came out perfectly both times I made them in recent months.

For more “Sweet” inspiration check out my Sweets Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/sweets/

Happy Independence Day! Enjoy your 4th of July!

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Have A Plan on Hand

No Cook Meal Prep – It’s All About the Groceries

I’m getting busier at work, thankfully, while making maintaining a balance in my life that gives me enough downtime/ self care time. To that end, I decided to keep #mealprepsunday super simple this week. Yesterday I went to Trader Joe’s and bought a package of Nova Lox, 2 cans of tuna, veggie burgers, a bag of Power Greens, and a bag of Broccoli Slaw. My pantry and refrigerator contain everything else I need to turn these ingredients into work lunches for the week. I have 100 calorie multi grain English Muffins (3 points), Everything Bagel Thins (3 points), Ole Whole Wheat Tortillas (1 point), and the fixings for the homemade classic vinaigrette I enjoy so much. Today I put together the tuna with celery, diced red onions, and light mayo I had on hand, and the salad dressing. My other options, the lox sandwiches, and veggie burger sandwiches can be put together on the fly at work.

Easy salad and vinaigrette prep. The recipe for the Vinaigrette came from the June issue of Prevention magazine. This is the 3rd time I’ve made it. 2 alterations – I didn’t have a shallot in the house, so I finely chopped the diced red onions I did have, and instead of 1/2 cup of olive oil I used 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup water. Note that you can use any vinegar in this that you like. You can also switch out the shallot or onion for a clove of garlic. So many good options.
Lunch is ready. I also do have a little fruit as an afternoon snack with me. This week it’s Plumcots. I love summer stone fruits.

During what I refer to the “dog days” of the quarantine, my husband and I started eating serious deserts after dinner. Ice cream, gelato, ice cream novelties, and the like. My clothes started getting a little tight…. During the last few weeks since we have both been getting out of the house again during the day for work, we have made adjustments. I have been prepping fresh summer fruit to have after dinner most nights. We do still indulge in a cheat dessert or 2 on the weekends, but the fruit has been working great for us. The first week, I cut up watermelon. Last week, I prepped strawberries, and bought whipped cream to have with them, and this week we are doing the same with cherries. It’s all been really delicious and satisfying.

That’s my cherry pitter in the foreground. I picked it up at Bed Bath & Beyond a while back for about $12.00. You can also find them on Amazon. I prefer real whipped cream over the processed whipped toppings. This can (and the name brand) are 15 calories/ or 1 point for 2 tablespoons. It is cleaner eating, and tastes so much better.

For breakfast these days I switch off between yogurt, banana, berry bowls, with a hard boiled egg, and scrambled eggs topped with salsa, and rolled into an Ole Whole Wheat tortilla, with a banana. These choices work for me, and keep me full until lunchtime. Easy peasy.

In addition to today’s prep, I wanted to inspire you with this article about the benefits of aquatic exercise, as pools will be opening up soon, and of course, it’s summer. https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1500. You know me – I cannot wait to get back in the water!

Thanks for stopping by today. Stay safe and healthy. And continue to take good care of yourselves.

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Making Clean Eating a Priority

Clean eating  involves choosing minimally processed, real foods that provide maximal nutritional benefits. As I have embraced the anti inflammatory diet over the last several months my choices have begun evolving more towards cleaner food choices. I have cut back on my cheeses and processed meats.When I do choose a sausage, I read the label to make sure it doesn’t have too many preservatives or questionable ingredients. For more information on how to incorporate clean eating into your routine, here is a comprehensive article to get you started: https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-how-to-eat-clean

Today’s meal prep is straight from the WW website – Very Veggie Turkey Meatloaf. It is clean and healthy. Full of fresh veggies, oats, and fresh ground turkey. And I’ve had a taste. It is really delicious! Here is the recipe: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/recipe/very-veggie-turkey-meat-loaf/5c993ed35e84d2001c1cf17f.

To start my very veggie turkey meatloaf I have clean, healthy, yet full flavor ingredients. Not shown are the olive oil used to saute the veggies, and the salt & pepper added, per the recipe.
Mid meal prep – notice the gorgeous colors
The finished product. I will spit this into servings to have ready for my work lunches.
My work lunch side salad
One of the easiest and most budget friendly ways to eat clean is to incorporate seasonal fruits and vegetables into your diet. These are a few of my favorite for summer. Speaking of gorgeous colors!

Make it a great week, my friends. Continue to stay safe and healthy.

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Finding Balance in “The New Normal”

Floral fun from my walks this week. On the left is an artichoke fully flowered. Never saw that before! Love the vibrant colors here.

As the world opens up, and we are so excited to be going back to work, to restaurants, and retail stores, I feel like we should also embrace some of the wonderful things we discovered about staying home. During quarantine, my walks took the place of the pool for me in that I exercise, I use the walks for meditation, and also as a social outlet enjoying phone visits with friends and family. I learned to sit still without television and/ or devices out in my patio, and to just relax. These are things I want to hold on to, as I ease myself back into the world. I don’t want to be as busy as I used to be, or as harried. Taking things at a slower pace is keeping me more centered and focused. I am adjusting how I organize my time and priorities in order to keep this mindset. Of course I still can’t wait until the pool reopens….

Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry was my inspiration for my lunch prep this week. To bulk it up, I added sauteed fresh bok choy and shiitake mushrooms, and the rest of the frozen edamame I had in my freezer to the mix. The basic flavor of the TJ’s cauliflower rice mixture is really good as is, but I wanted to give it a little more oomph, so I added cubes of frozen garlic and frozen ginger to my stir fry, as well as a little coconut aminos. I like Trader Joe’s coconut aminos best. Other brands tend to be a little too sweet for me. Of course you can use soy sauce, low sodium soy sauce, or Tamari sauce as well to achieve that umami flavor. To pair with the veggies I marinated boneless skinless chicken breasts overnight in my husband’s famous teriyaki marinade, and oven roasted them (roasting instructions: https://pin.it/7cFsfZI). Honestly you can’t go wrong with this combo of flavors. And your house will smell amazing. I encourage you to try this recipe. You’re welcome :).

Here is the basic recipe with the changes I made for my meal prep noted:

Spuds Aloha Zesty Hawaiian Marinade; developed by Michael Gronfein

1/2 cup soy sauce (I used TJ’s coconut aminos)

2 tablespoons oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)

1 teaspoon mustard (I used dry mustard)

1/2 teaspoon ginger (I used dry ginger)

2 cloves garlic (I used a teaspoon of granulated garlic)

Pepper (I used a couple of pinches of red chile flakes; sriracha sauce is great in this as well)

Lunch prep is done. Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry with bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, and edamame paired with teriyaki marinated oven roasted chicken breast

Make it a great week, my friends. I know we are still going through some very tough times, but as bad as 2020 has been so far, there is light to be found here. We are on the road to real positive social change in our country, as well as a vaccine for Covid 19. Please be good to yourselves.

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We are All in this Together – All Lives Matter

I had a full blog planned to publish yesterday, but in light of the protests turned riots, I decided it would not be appropriate. I feel the same way today, but a girl has to eat, so I am just going to share my meal prep with you today.


Summer produce is my favorite, and I wanted to celebrate it this week with this easy summer squash salad I saw prepared on the Food Network show, The Kitchen: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/grilled-shrimp-and-summer-squash-salad-7241083. This is a beautiful summer salad. I made changes, Baby Boomer Mermaid style, but the original recipe is beautiful. If I was cooking for company, I would make this as written. Since I am cooking for my weekly lunch meal prep, I made the changes that work for me, and you should do the same.

Summer Squash Salad Baby Boomer Mermaid style

The corn was replaced by celery in my prep. I love a corn on the cob as a treat, but corn is not really my friend, so I hesitated to use it in a meal I plan to eat for a few days. I used celery instead for the fresh crunch. I also subbed the sunflower seeds for toasted almond slices. Just because. I also needed a dark green leafy base for my salad so I combined fresh basil with arugula. I have plenty of my classic vinaigrette dressing left over from last week, so am using that instead of making a new dressing that is actually pretty similar. Other than that, I followed the prep instructions in the recipe – I lightly roasted the seeded summer squash, and blanched the snow peas. My proteins of choice this week will be left over roasted chicken breast, Trader Joe’s shrimp burgers, or Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Sausage. All delicious, all low calories/ points.

One more quick share – it’s cherry season! I pitted these and added them to my yogurt bowl this morning. So sweet and delicious.

Thank you so much for checking in. Please take care. Sending you all much love and big hugs.

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Memorial Day Fly Over, then Meal Prep

Happy Memorial Day, all! We were fortunate enough today to experience a special fly over of an 18-plane formation of historic war planes over So Cal this afternoon. What an awesome experience, and a humbling reminder that this is a day to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, and to honor the military that is out there today protecting our freedom, our democracy.

Weekly meal prep is back for me. At least for the moment. We are heading into a heat wave this week, so I stuck with an easy, no cook salad for lunches. I found this White Bean, Tuna & Roasted Pepper Salad in the June 2020 issue of Prevention Magazine. Unfortunately I could not access the link to the recipe online, but here is the list of ingredients, and what I used:

Serves 4

15 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed – I used garbanzo beans

1/4 small red onion chopped

6 tbsp Classic Vinaigrette *see below*

3 hearts of romaine torn into pieces (12 oz; about 6 cups) – I used 1 5 oz bag of romaine and mixed it with a bag of broccoli slaw

2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained, and cut into pieces

1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (I used a little less, and chopped them up)

1/2 cup pitted mixed olives (I used about 1/4 cup of pitted kalamata olives, that I cut in half)

5 oz canned tuna packed in olive oil, drained and flaked – I used a 14.75 oz can of wild caught salmon packed in water

No Cook Garbanzo Bean and Salmon Salad, ready to pack up for the office.
The lettuce and broccoli slaw is bagged separately, the salmon is in it’s own container, and the beans and veggies are combined in another container. All I have to do in the morning is layer one serving of this into my special salad container, and put the vinaigrette in it’s own 2 oz serving container. I am going to have Trader Joe’s 3 Seed Beet Crackers on the side.

*Classic Vinaigrette:

To a jar add 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1 shallot finely chopped, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Cover and shake to combine. Add 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup water). Cover and shake until emulsified. The dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

And I did a breakfast prep today too! I follow a U Tube channel called Flav City, hosted by Chef Bobby Parrish. He is a wealth of knowledge, and a heck of a cook. I saw this and had to try it. It’s a copy cat recipe of Starbucks bacon and Gruyere egg bites. I did modify it Baby Boomer Mermaid style, and I am extremely proud to say that I pulled it off. I had a taste of my finished product and these are delicious. Here is the link to the Flav City recipe and video. Chef gives a lot of great culinary tips in a short amount of time. The video is worth the watch: https://www.flavcity.com/keto-breakfast-egg-bites/#viewrecipe

I followed the technical directions and the measurements of the original recipe, but altered the ingredients to fit my needs. I used 1 cup of egg whites, fat free cottage cheese, 4 slices of light Jarlsberg cheese, diced, I added jarred roasted red peppers to get a little veggie in there, and Canadian bacon in place of regular bacon.

Thank you for stopping by today. I hope you have enjoyed the holiday weekend, and that you are feeling good. The world is starting to reopen. In a new way, but it is coming along, I am happy to say. Take care of yourselves.

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