Making Meal Prep a Habit

Whatever direction your life is taking you now, 8 months into the Covid 19 pandemic, I am certain you are busy. Besides work and family obligations we need to remember to take care of ourselves. Our health management is one of the best and most important parts of self care, and that includes keeping our physical strength up, and our metabolisms running efficiently. It’s not always easy to put ourselves first, but if we do a few basic things to take care of ourselves, we will perform better in the other aspects of our lives. Here are a few helpful hints from a meme I found on social media:

Happily, my life is very full at this point. I go to work every day (safely, and well distanced from others), I am in the pool at least 3 times a week, sometimes 4. On the rest of the days I take walks, and I start each day with 10 minutes of stretching. Plus I manage to fit in a bit of a social life. But no matter how busy, or tired I am on the weekends, I do my meal planning, my grocery shopping, and my meal preps. Meal planning and prepping are key not only to my weight management, but to my entire well being. My healthy, clean meals keep my body running like the machine I need it to be.

This week I made a super easy one pot recipe I found in one of my daily Hungry Girl newsletters this past week, a healthy chicken enchilada stir fry: https://www.hungry-girl.com/recipe-makeovers/chicken-enchilada-stir-fry. This recipe is loaded with healthy vegetables and yummy Mexican flavors. I doubled the recipe, as it was just for 2 servings. I’ll be eating this with jicama tortillas, or Ole Wellness whole wheat tortillas throughout the week.

Chicken Enchilada Stir Fry

To catch you up on last week, my husband and I had social plans on Sunday, so I threw together a tuna salad loaded with celery and red bell pepper. I had plenty of my chopped salad left from the previous week, and it was still good, so I added Trader Joe’s Power Greens to that, and had a satisfying, and healthy lunch for the week, last week. No recipe required.

Tuna salad on Trader Joe’s jicama tortillas and Chopped Veggie Salad on Power Greens dressed with TJ’s fresh Green Goddess dressing.
A little more inspiration for you

So, friends, make it a great week by making self care your first priority, and try to begin to turn some of those things into habits, like meal planning and prepping, and making time to exercise.

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Take Care of Your Heart

Watch the salt, my friends.

I don’t like “preachy” people, therefore I try not to be “preachy”. But friends, please take a look at your sodium intake. This subject was inspired by my October 2020 issue of Nutrition Action, a health periodical I have been receiving for years. It’s the best $20.00 a year I spend: https://cspinet.org/nutrition-action-healthletter. The article is “Salt Wars”, and is an interview with the author of the new book out by the same title https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/salt-wars. It explains how salt raises blood pressure, which caused hypertension. This increases our risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and more. The foods that are the biggest culprits are processed meats like bacon and cold cuts, frozen meals, prepared soups, and breads. But the foods that are highest in salt are restaurant meals. The bottom line is to be mindful of your salt intake. Try to stay away from processed foods, but if you do choose to use them, read the labels and compare products. Many chain restaurants post their numbers online. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to choose clean and healthy foods such as fresh produce, beans, low fat dairy, fish, and poultry rather than processed foods. Making these changes will not only lower your blood pressure, but will increase your potassium levels. Potassium is known to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. Replacing sodium with potassium is the way to go. End of lecture.

/This week I made my own granola! Low fat, low calorie, low sugar, low point granola is one of the hardest things to find in the grocery store. I have scanned many a bag of granola at all different markets, and end up putting them all back on the shelf. The only one I’ve found that I like can only be purchased online, and it’s getting more expensive each time. But it’s really good, and I recommend it to those of you who love a good granola, and don’t want to take the time to make your own. It’s Julian Bakery Pro Granola, Vanilla Cinnamon Cluster. It’s 97 calories for a 1/2 cup serving, which is 2 points: https://julianbakery.com/product/progranola-vanilla-cinnamon-cluster/.

I used this recipe I found online: https://cookieandkate.com/healthy-granola-recipe/. I followed it pretty closely. I made 2 changes. One was successful, the other was a big mistake. The good news is, it still came out delicious, and cost me pennies per serving on the dollar. I figure it is about 4 points for a 1/4 cup serving. Since I use it to top my yogurt bowl, I’ll be using about 2 tablespoons per serving. The author of the recipe encourages you to use whatever nuts and dried fruits you want in your granola. I chose raw walnut halves, raw sliced almonds, and (here is the flub) roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds, or pepitas. Since the granola is baked, the pepitas are essentially roasted a second time, and they came out bitter. Lesson learned. Buy the raw pepitas. I don’t eat dried fruit any more. That is one of the things I gave up completely when I started with WW. It’s really high in sugar. I had freeze dried raspberries in the house. I reconstituted about 1/4 cup of them and tossed them in to the granola mixture with 1/4 cup of coconut flakes as well. The recipe author gives a choice of sweetener for the granola, and I chose maple syrup over honey. Since we are talking about salt today, I should alert you that there is 1/2 teaspoon in the entire recipe. Note that a little salt in recipes brings out the flavors of the ingredients.

Homemade Granola Baby Boomer Mermaid style

My meal prep this week was salmon pinwheels from Trader Joe’s and a simple chopped salad with Persian cucumbers, radishes, a red bell pepper, shredded carrots, and green onions, which I will toss over fresh arugula. I’ll be dressing that with Trader Joe’s fresh Green Goddess salad dressing. I had been eying the salmon pinwheels there for weeks. They are a fresh salmon filet rolled into a beautiful pinwheel stuffed simply with spinach and feta cheese. These only give me 2 days worth of lunch preps, but I have Trader Joe’s frozen shrimp burgers in the house, as well as Dr. Praeger’s Garden Veggie Burgers, either of which will also go great with my fresh chopped salad.

Salmon pinwheels. I put a little avocado oil in the bottom of my baking dish, and just seasoned these with freshly ground black pepper. I baked them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. The internal temperature of salmon should be 135-140 degrees when done.
Fresh chopped salad prep for the week

The take away from this week’s blog is to be mindful of the prepared foods you choose. This week, I used a prepared fresh salmon product, as well as a bottled salad dressing. I made sure that the ingredients were clean and fresh, not overly processed. It’s great to use convenience foods. Just read the labels.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope I have inspired you to take better care of yourself. Make it a great week!

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Surprise Delivery Delivers Fresh Inspiration

My good friend, and WW Tribe Member, Stacey, has been receiving deliveries from Imperfect Foods https://www.imperfectfoods.com/ pretty much since quarantine began back in March. She went from almost never cooking, to cooking for herself every day, every meal. She receives this delivery twice a month along with meal preps from Blue Apron https://www.blueapron.com/, and twice monthly shopping trips to Trader Joe’s. She has lost 30 lbs in the last 6 months just by making this one change – cooking fresh, clean, homemade meals 3 times daily. When you are eating out for most meals, even if you think you are making good choices you don’t really know what the salt and sugar contents are in the foods that you are eating. We can all take a lesson from Stacey, and up our cooking and clean eating games. She has been a true inspiration to me, and to our other tribe members who have been stalled in their own weight loss journeys.

Because every week Stacey tells me of the treasures that arrived from Imperfect Foods (broccoli leaves, her new favorite – who knew?), I became intrigued. I am in a different situation. I love to cook, as does my husband, and we only go out once a weekend for lunch or brunch. Since quarantine started we have brought in food exactly twice, and those were planned “treat” meals. But I was intrigued, as I said, so I signed up for the service. I did not go through with placing my order this week though, or so I thought, and on Thursday I got a text that my box was on it’s way. I panicked a little, since this wasn’t planned, but ended up taking it in stride. Here is what I got:

My Imperfect Foods Delivery Detail. (By the way, I did not get just 1 of each of the produce varieties mentioned. I got 3 beautiful peaches, 3 perfect little red pears, and 2 roma tomatoes.)

I had put in a few preferences such as fruit and vegetables (unspecified), salmon, and ground turkey. Most things on the list shown above are things that I would normally eat. There are a couple of challenging items here though. Can you guess which ones? The Shishito peppers, and the dragon fruit. Never tasted either one.

The Shishito peppers became my inspiration for my lunch prep this week. I found an Asian Turkey and Rice Bowl recipe on line that featured pickled Shishito peppers as a garnish. Of course I had to spin both of these recipes to fit my Baby Boomer Mermaid eating and cooking style, and that is exactly what I did. First the original recipes: https://sweetphi.com/asian-ground-turkey-rice-bowls-recipe/#wprm-recipe-container-18205 and https://eatsimplefood.com/quick-pickled-shishito-peppers/.

In the turkey rice bowl I used Trader Joe’s Risoni lentil rice instead of white rice, and I added diced red bell pepper and green onions to the ground turkey meat. I omitted the sugar from the recipe, and cut the soy sauce in half, by using coconut aminos for half of the liquid. So I slashed the sugar and salt in my prep significantly. For the pickled peppers I found a quick pickle recipe that didn’t have sugar as one of the ingredients. Sugar is usually prevalent in pickling recipes. I also added the shredded carrots and more green onions to the pickled Shishito peppers. The more veggies the better!

The dragon fruit was my next challenge. Most recommendations online were for smoothies. But I don’t use smoothies. I was told early on in my WW journey that blended fruit does not promote weight loss. I honestly never fully looked into it, but here is a comprehensive article that explains: https://www.treehugger.com/why-is-whole-fruit-healthier-than-smoothie-4868770. I diced up the dragon fruit, which is a truly beautiful thing, and plan to use it in my breakfast yogurt bowls this week along with my blueberries. I gave it a taste, and found it quite bland. As pretty as it is, it was one of the most expensive items in the box, and I would not choose to get it again.

Breakfast yogurt bowl prep.

I did not publish anything the previous 2 weeks. The Jewish high holidays fell on the weekends, and although I did not spend them with my family or attend services as I normally do, I still took some time for myself to reflect on the past year, and the coming one… which will hopefully bring more peace, health, and happiness to all mankind. This past year certainly sucked. Bring on 5781!

I still did my meal planning and prep though. 2 weeks ago I bought sliced turkey meat, a multi grain bread, and 2 prepared soups from Trader Joe’s. I highly recommend the Spicy Pozole Verde. It’s a must try!

Easy soup and sandwich combo takes away the meal prep but not the planning.

Last week I put together a little quick stir fry that was inspired by a Martha Stewart chow mein recipe https://www.marthastewart.com/1512441/chow-mein. Again here, I slashed the salt and sugar and made a yummy Asian noodle dish. I used shirataki noodles, which have almost no calories, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirataki_noodles, omitted the sugar in the recipe, and used coconut aminos in place of half of the soy sauce. I also used chicken breast in place of the chicken thighs, and added snap peas. I was really happy with the result.

Chicken Chow Mein Baby Boomer Mermaid Style

I hope Stacey and I have inspired you today. I feel that she has been my partner in today’s blog. My goal here is to inspire you to be mindful, take good care of yourself, and eat healthy, and clean. I hope I achieved that today. Please feel free to send any comments or questions to me any time.

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Make it a great week!

Reality Check

Throughout the span of the pandemic, as a WW Lifetime member, I have gotten a free ride, so to speak. I have totally enjoyed our WW Zoom meetings, and especially our tribe’s tailgate meetings prior to those each Saturday morning. But I haven’t been kept accountable, other than by my own basic routine of meal planning and prepping (which I did not really do at the beginning of the shut down), and the Zoom conversations. I haven’t been on a scale since mid-March. Like most everybody, I have been a little more, shall we say, lenient with myself with regard to my eating? I didn’t even try to put on a pair of jeans for the first 3 months, and like everyone else, I was dabbling in baking….Actually still am, but now being more conscientious again about my ingredients.

This past week I received an e mail from WW that I will have to start weighing in again once a month at a studio starting November 1. I honestly don’t know if I am over my goal weight or not at this point. I know I am over my “personal” goal weight for sure. I also have lost all of the muscle tone I developed from being in the pool 5 times a week, pre-pandemic, aqua jogging and lap swimming. Most of my jeans fit, but not the same, and not all of them…. I definitely have work to do. My goal that first week of November is to be under goal for sure, and as close to my “personal” goal weight as possible. So now begins operation “Blueplan”, as I am dubbing it.

Last weekend was one of the hottest on record in Southern California. I was giving myself a little staycation, so did not publish a blog, but I did prep something for my work week lunches. It had to be quick, easy, and light. I started with Trader Joe’s frozen Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry. To that I added frozen veggies I had in the house – broccoli, spinach, and edamame. I also added a diced fresh red bell pepper, and diced tofu. I seasoned this with Coconut Aminos, Dorot frozen garlic and ginger cubes (2 of each), a little onion salt (because I forgot to buy the scallions I wanted to use, and did not have fresh onion in the house), and fresh ground black pepper. It turned out great.

Vegan Stir Fry

I had leftovers into the weekend, so I repurposed them into a vegetarian baked eggs casserole. I added fresh chopped red onion, a little roasted red pepper from the jar that I had in the refrigerator, and more frozen broccoli. I mixed a heaping tablespoon of non fat plain Greek yogurt into 6 beaten whole eggs, which I poured over the veggie mixture, and baked it at 350 for about 35 minutes in a square 9 X 9 Pyrex pan, sprayed with olive oil. I had a piece for breakfast yesterday, and will eat it for breakfast throughout the week. This too turned out really yummy.

Veggie Baked Eggs Casserole

With the eggs this week, I’ll be having a little butternut squash muffin that I baked today. They were supposed to be pumpkin muffins, but there was not 1 can of pureed pumpkin to be found in all of Santa Monica today. I kid you not. I wanted this so badly, I went to 5 different grocery stores. I was craving something pumpkin, but wanted it to be almost on the savory side and made from whole grains. I found this great recipe, which (other than the main ingredient) I followed exactly: https://cookieandkate.com/healthy-maple-pumpkin-muffins/. Note that the author gives you the choice of honey or maple syrup to sweeten these with. I used maple syrup.

Healthy Butternut Squash Muffins

For my lunch prep this week, I found this great 1 pot, 15 minute recipe, Spinach Artichoke Pasta: https://www.thekitchn.com/one-pot-spinach-artichoke-chicken-pasta-recipe-23073220. I made this with my favorite Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe’s. I substituted about 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast, used 10 oz of fresh baby spinach, and just over 1 cup of pasta, probably about 8.5 oz. I used the whole wheat fusilli I had in my pantry.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta Baby Boomer Mermaid Style

I feel like I am setting myself up for a successful week. I am on planning 4 pool workouts, and walks on the afternoons I am not in the pool, all after work. I let my husband know that I am getting back on track, so no surprise snacks are allowed. He threatened to buy potato chips anyway, so it will be up to me to stay strong. Which of course it always is, at the end of the day. And back to drinking all of my water everyday! It’s a lot, but I know I’ve got this.

Make it a great week! Take care of yourselves. Stay safe, and healthy.

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In Gratitude

Finally caught up on my sleep the last couple of nights. I woke up today feeling good. My first thoughts were of how lucky I am. Sure, work is immensely stressful, and no real money is coming in. Sure our home is in need of a lot of updating and repair. BUT – I have my health and my mobility. I have a job with a lot of earning potential. I own my home, and it is 14 blocks from the Pacific Ocean. AND I have a wonderful, supportive husband who has a heart of gold and who cooks dinner every night, and 2 adorable, loving kitty cats. I have a loving and supportive extended family, and I have THE BEST friends. I could not get through the stresses of the pandemic without all of these people in my life. I am extremely grateful.

Recently, finally, my local pool reopened. We are required to reserve our lanes 3 days in advance, and often the portal gets jammed, and we can’t get in on the days and times we want. Also, the pool is closed Sundays and Mondays, and the hours are much shorter. I know. First world problems. I wasn’t able to swim yesterday, but learned of a Masters Swim Class starting today, so I decided to join. That is the reason for the early meal prep and blog. The bonus is, my swim crew will be there too. Excited for us all to be together for the hour, swimming together like the old (pre-pandemic) days.

This is what the pool looks like when we arrive for our lane reservation. A far cry from what it normally looks like on a summer afternoon. At least there are still a few children there taking lessons.

Because of my busy day today, I planned and shopped for my meal prep yesterday. I chose to make an easy, no cook garbanzo bean Greek salad. I will pair that with a pesto turkey sandwich this week. If I get tired of the turkey (which I’m sure I will… ) I also have tuna, and smoked salmon in the refrigerator, shrimp burgers, and veggie burgers in the freezer, so I’m prepared to change it up. The important message here is to have delicious low calorie, low fat, low point choices on hand so we don’t get bored or in a rut.

Easy no cook garbanzo bean Greek Salad for lunch this week. The dressing is my old stand by, the WW red wine vinaigrette: 1/3 c. olive oil/ 1/3 c. red wine vinegar/ 1/3 c. water. I added a diced shallot, dried oregano, s&p to season. To the salad, I’ll add arugula and fresh San Marzano tomatoes as I dole out my portions during the week.
Using this 70 calorie/ 2 point sliced multi grain bread, and kale, cashew, basil pesto on my turkey sandwich this week.

Time to go! Gotta eat my yogurt/ berry bowl, and get ready to meet the girls at the pool. Wishing you all a wonderful week. Take care of yourselves. Take a moment to reflect on all that is good in your lives.

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Self Sabotage. Tips on How to Avoid It

Last week I briefly mentioned the dreaded notion of “self sabotage”. We all do it. Whether we are gaming the weight loss or maintenance program we are on, or just blatantly going for it, we all sabotage ourselves with regard to our eating at one time or another, and another….

Lately, even during this challenging time, I have been a little more mobile during my work day. There have been a couple of days, especially during these hot summer days, that I was not comfortable taking my lunch with me. I didn’t want to leave it in the hot car, even with a freezer disc in it. I had to be resourceful and find some fast, healthy lunches on the fly. Here are my discoveries:

  • Starbucks Chicken & Quinoa Protein Bowl with Black Beans and Greens. This salad is delicious and satisfying. The dressing is a super tasty medium-spiced chile vinaigrette. This salad is 420 calories/ 8 points.
  • Pollo Loco Chicken Avocado Tortilla Wrap from their Meals under 500 Calories Menu. Easy to eat in a hurry, and satisfying. This meal is 480 calories/ 11 points. There are several other great choices on that menu as well.
  • Don’t laugh. This really felt like I was cheating. Taco Bell Bean Burrito. 386 calories/ 8 points. Nuf said.

We are still in the dog days of summer. It is uncomfortably hot and muggy outside. I live in Santa Monica, CA, not far from the beach, but it has been in the 80’s by 11 am this week. I don’t have air conditioning. That said, I was looking for something easy to make for my meal prep this week that would not heat up my kitchen. I was inspired by a post I saw in one of the WW Facebook groups I follow. Someone posted a photo of chicken breasts with a jar of salsa verde, and the light bulb went off in my head. No recipe required.

First – a new product alert: From Trader Joe’s – Risoni. They advertise it as a legume based grain alternative, and is made with chickpea and red lentils. It mimics rice. The nutritional stats are 170 calories/ 4 points for a 1/4 cup serving. Check it out: https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/organic-chickpea–red-lentil-risoni. We made it as a rice alternative for dinner one night, and without added flavorings, it was a little bit of an acquired taste. I recommend playing around with added flavors such as garlic, herbs, onions, whatever you like in regular rice.

Using my old school slow cooker today, I started with 1 cup of Risoni, just under 2 lbs of chicken breast, the jar of salsa verde (my favorite is Herdez: https://www.salsas.com/herdez/products/salsas/salsa-verde/), some diced red onion, and a couple of tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Jalapeno Sauce, and just let it go on high for 3 hours. I’m going to shred the chicken to make soft chicken tacos using Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla Wraps. I’ll be topping my tacos with a slaw made from Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch tossed with Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado Yogurt dressing.

Shredded chicken breast slow cooked with salsa verde, onions, jalapeno sauce, and “rice” made out of chickpeas and lentils. I’m making soft tacos with this, but let your imagination and appetite go wild. You can do anything with this healthy preparation of low calorie/ low fat/ low points bowl of goodness.
Easy slaw taco topper.

Thank you for stopping by today. Your comments, questions, and critiques are always welcome.

Take care of yourselves. Be good to yourselves. Make it a great week.

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1 Hour Meal Prep for The Dog Days of Summer

Gonna admit it. Meal prepping this weekend did not sound appealing. It’s hot. But I have to eat, and I I have to stay accountable and on track. I don’t want to end up buying my food all week, and I don’t want to wing it with leftovers. Both of those choices will lead to self sabotage for me.

Yesterday I went to my Salad Bowl board on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/salad-bowl/ and found this perfect, kind of “dump” salad prep from WW.com. You know what a “dump” recipe is – almost no cooking, almost no chopping, mostly dumping from cans or bags. Don’t have an ego about this. It’s 2020. Take advantage of healthy low calorie/ low or 0 point/ low fat convenience foods. Here is what I found. So perfect: White Bean- Tuna Pasta Salad https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/recipe/white-bean-tuna-pasta-salad/. It has all of the elements that I enjoy in a 1 dish lunch. And it’s basically a “dump” salad. This is not a flavor combo I am used to making, so I followed the dressing part of recipe to a T, as I wanted to make sure the flavors were balanced. Here are the changes I made, and honestly, these were mostly based on convenience: I used 10 oz of tuna instead of 12 oz, I used the whole can of white beans, and I cooked 1 cup of pasta instead of the 1/2 cup the recipe called for because when I measured it out, it just looked sad to me.

My ingredients at the ready. All clean and healthy.
When I plate my salad in the mornings, I’ll be adding this “power greens” mix to my bowl for texture and for the fact that they are anti inflammatory. I will also add the lemon zest when I plate, because that is what the recipe suggests. Thanks again for the home grown lemons, Marcy. They are lovely.

And that is that my friends. This prep took me 1 hour start to finish. Now back to my beautiful little patio and my summer novel.

Thank you for stopping by. Your comments, critiques, and questions are always welcome.

Take care of yourselves. Be kind to yourselves.

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Brunch All Day

I love brunch. I love it so much that I prepped 2 healthy brunch dishes for breakfast and lunch this week. For lunch I made an easy, but hearty veggie fritatta, with Trader Joe’s sweet pepper chicken sausage on the side. Breakfast is a heartier version of my yogurt and berry bowl. I am adding quinoa.

I am working super hard these days. I don’t have much time to heat and eat food at the office, so this fritatta idea came to mind. It’s a one container dish that is easily heated in the microwave. Here is the recipe that inspired me: https://www.loveandlemons.com/frittata-recipe/. I used 6 whole eggs mixed with 1/4 cup of 2% plain Greek yogurt, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast (for the cheese flavor without the fat and calories). I first sauteed my veggie mixture which was Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Green Vegetable Foursome. I just added the defrosted package to a hot pan that I sprayed with olive oil, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and let it do it’s thing (I did chop up some of the larger pieced of broccoli). Later I added chopped up fresh scallions and jarred roasted red peppers, which I also chopped up, both of which I had in the house. The whole process took maybe 10 minutes. I combined the egg mixture with the veggie mixture in a 9×9 square pan, and placed it in the oven, which had been preheated to 400 for 15 minutes. The eggs weren’t completely set. It took an additional 7 minutes for my fritatta to cook through. I then let it rest and cool, then cut it into squares. So easy. And quick. The beauty of a fritatta is that you can put in any ingredients you like, and it will be delicious.

My fritatta prep
My finished meal prep. Ready to heat and eat.

The quinoa berry yogurt bowl breakfast prep I saw on The Kitchen yesterday while having Food TV on in the background (always; it’s either that or Bravo. A girl’s got to have a vice or 2). https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/katie-lee/strawberry-kiwi-quinoa-breakfast-parfait. I was looking for something a little heartier for breakfast, without giving up my yogurt, berries, flax and chia seed mixture in the mornings. It wasn’t holding me quite until lunch time with the hectic schedule I have these days. I hope this will fit the bill. I bought Trader Joe’s frozen, precooked quinoa. All I’ll have to do is layer that into my regular bowl in the morning. It will add some texture, and the added calories I will need to stay satisfied longer in the mornings.

A hearty, healthy breakfast in a flash for week day mornings

I have one more quick thing for meal prep to share with you. One of my girls in my WW tribe found a great show on HULU (also on PBS and UTube) for meal prep inspiration. Check it out:

https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/category/books/5-ingredients-quick-easy-food-recipes/

Although I am working hard full time now (properly distanced, and masked when necessary), I have still kept up my walks every single day, no matter how tired I am when I get home, or how little time I have. I have several walks mapped out around my neighborhood for different time frames. It’s been a while, but here are a couple of photos from recent walks –

This says it all, don’t you think?
Artichokes growing in a front garden in Santa Monica. The photo on the left was taken back in May or June. The photo on the right was taken this past week. I just find the evolution of the plant fascinating, and beautiful.

I’m sure, like you, being in quarantine has brought about many personal changes. I recently found these inspirational memes on line. They perfectly express how I’m feeling these days. I wanted to share them with you.

Thank you for taking time to check out my meal prep, and catch up with me today. Your comments, critiques and questions are always welcome. Make it a great week my friends. Take care of yourselves.

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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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