Tomato Tomahto

Continuing The Celebration of Summer Fruits

Heirloom Tomatoes on Display at The Farmer’s Market
Bentwood, CA, today

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:

Fresh San Marzano Tomatoes found at The Farmers Market today

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:

My tried and true gazpacho 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.

This week’s stone fruit varieties

Thank you for stopping by. I hope I have inspired you to try a new meal prep at home. I welcome your comments, critiques, and questions.

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Have a good week, my friends. Take care of yourselves!

Celebrating the Fruits of Summer

I got so excited at the grocery store this week to see the stone fruits!
Summer is definitely in the air

Summer is my favorite season. It may be partly because my birthday comes in mid-July, and I always look forward to celebrating another year. This one will be #65. I am very proud of the person I have become, as I truly have gotten better and stronger with age. I am definitely a classic late bloomer. The other reason summer is my favorite season is the fruit we get to enjoy. Stone fruits, watermelon, strawberries, cherries, to name a few. YUM!

Don’t avoid fruit because of the sugar content. The fiber in fruit minimizes the effect they have on blood sugar levels. In addition, fruit contains antioxidants, raises your potassium levels, fight disease and inflammation, and helps to control blood sugar. If carbs are a concern for you, low sugar fruits include raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, watermelon, and grapefruit.

Fruit is a nutritious way to satisfy your sweet tooth. In my WW workshop we always talk about non scale goals. I need a little something sweet after dinner. Summer is the perfect time for me to achieve my goal of eating fruit instead of processed products made with sugar substitutes. Or at least to make my desserts fruit forward. I do enjoy baking, so you may see a banana bread or peach & berry crisp sometime soon….

Ready to eat. Here is what is in my fridge right now

For some reason, I got a hankering this week for a fresh broccoli salad. Probably something I saw while perusing Pinterest. I read many recipes for “light” broccoli salads. Mine is a compilation of the best 2 I found online. Here are the links to those 2 recipes:

Here is what I did – I don’t like raw broccoli, so I blanched 6 oz of fresh florets in boiling salted water for about 4 minutes, then placed them in an ice bath to stop the cooking. This keeps them crisp, and bright green. I combined them with about a cup of diced red onion, about a cup of halved red grapes, 1/4 cup of slivered toasted almonds, and 3 rashers of turkey bacon, diced. The dressing is made of 1/4 cup each of plain non-fat Greek yogurt and light sour cream. For sweetness I chose a squeeze of honey. Maybe a quarter of a teaspoon. I did not measure it, but I did taste it, and it was plenty for me. If you want it sweeter, by all means use more. And again, remember, I used a combination of ingredients I already had in the house, and ingredients I love. That’s why I posted the links to the other 2 recipes, so you can do what makes you happy.

My broccoli salad ingredients (not shown are the diced red onions I added)
Fresh, Creamy Broccoli Salad

I roasted the rest of my broccoli florets with rainbow baby carrots for my veggie snack bag this week. Those will be great dipped in hummus. I roasted the veggies at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. I did not turn them mid way, but you may want to.

Roasted broccoli and rainbow baby carrots veggie snack bag

And I have a plan for some of my watermelon – not gonna lie. I did not come up with this on my own. Last week at my local Trader Joe’s that had a table set up with slices of fresh watermelon sprinkled with their Chili Lime Seasoning Blend. I had tried that blend before on veggies with lime, but never on fruit. Man, it was good! I recommend you give it a try.

Even though I’m still working from home, I did a little breakfast prep this week. I needed to use up my carton of liquid egg whites. I made an egg white veggie fritatta with spinach, roasted red peppers, and red onions. I plan to make them into little sandwiches using my left over cooked turkey bacon on 100 calorie multi grain English muffins or Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla Wraps. I combined 2 cups egg whites with the veggies (I just seasoned them with fresh ground black pepper, since I knew I’d be eating this with the turkey bacon, which has plenty of salt). I baked this in a small square pan that I sprayed with a little canola oil spray for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Easy breakfast prep: Egg white veggie fritatta
Use on a sandwich, as is, or roll in an Ole Tortilla wrap
I’m going to pair this with my left over cooked turkey bacon

Wishing you all a great week! Please join the conversation, and send me your comments, critiques, and tips.

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After my first week working from home, I have come to realize that having your regular routine stripped away is a huge challenge. At this point, I am taking it one day at a time. I don’t know what each day is going to bring, and sometimes I won’t know until the day unfolds. It’s disconcerting for someone who has been so rigid in her routine for so many years. And here in lies the challenge and the lesson. The lesson being to adapt and move forward.

Some days I end up home on the computer. The other days, which are nomadic, to say the least, I work out of my car. During the days spent at home, I can at least simulate a normal office routine. I can drink all of my water, and eat the “safe” foods I have here. I can even take breaks where I can get up and stretch, or go out for a 20 minute walk, which I never did at the office. That’s all well and good, but I really do miss having people around, and movement, and noise. Have I mentioned how much I miss my coworkers?

The other days, when I am working out of my car are hectic and exhausting. I can’t drink my water, for lack of access to clean restrooms at all times, and meal times and places are not planned. Luckily my WW habits are well ingrained and I am good at making the best choices with what I am dealt as far as lunch goes. I did, however, get into a situation one day where I did not have chance to eat, nor did I have snacks in my car. Thirsty, starving, and stuck in traffic does not a happy camper make. I will adjust.

The most important thing I do for myself is keep my workout routine solid. I water jog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the late afternoon. That is non negotiable, and the perfect way to decompress. That, and my normal evening routine at home with my husband are keeping me grounded, so I have some semblance of normalcy.

At this time, I am not doing weekly meal preps for myself. As I previously mentioned, and detailed in last week’s blog, I am keeping a safe pantry, refrigerator, and freezer in my home with the things I enjoy eating, as well as plenty of water, and tea. I have a new, fun breakfast sandwich that my husband invented. I had it today, and plan to make it for myself a couple of times this week, and switch off with my yogurt, berry, and cereal bowl that I also mentioned last week.

The sandwich is one egg fried in canola oil spray inside a metal ring, so it’s perfectly shaped. I place it on a toasted 100 calorie multi grain English muffin with a meatless patty, a little sliced tomatoes, and mustard. It is filling and delicious. The English muffin is 3 points. The meatless patty I used today was 3 points, and the egg, tomato, and mustard are all 0 points. Today I bought Trader Joe’s meatless breakfast patty to use during the week that is just 2 points. So that will be a 5 point breakfast. I also have to have my small organic banana every morning as my after breakfast treat.

Perfectly proportioned breakfast sandwich

The Sweets Conundrum

I have been wanting to bring up this topic for a while now. Sweets are so important to us. And why not? Sugar is delicious. And addicting. Of course, those of us on healthy lifestyle eating plans, weight loss plans, or who are diabetic are constantly either working to stay away from sweets altogether, or are always looking for viable substitutes. That’s me. I have to have my “after dinner treat”, or I don’t feel satisfied.

Some of my go-tos are simply sweet fruits, like my beloved Cara Cara oranges, or fresh strawberries topped with real whipped topping out of the can (15 cal for 2 tblsp/ 1 point). My favorite store bought sweets include Jello Sugar Free Chocolate Pudding cups, sugar free frozen fudge pops (just 40 calories each, or 3 points for 2 pops), and my favorite, any low calorie ice cream or novelty by Enlightened. I am a huge fan of their products:

Last week I made tropical mango popsicles using Stevia, and today I made chocolate chia pudding, also using Stevia. I want to dispel the myths about Stevia. Unlike other sugar substitutes it is derived from a plant. To me, it is as sweet as sugar, and doesn’t have the aftertaste that you associate with sugar substitutes.

Chia Seeds, by the way, are packed with omega-3s, protein, and antioxidants. They go in everything – yogurt, oatmeal, baked goods, smoothies. I even put them in my veggie egg white fritattas.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

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Have a great week, my friends!

Life Threw Me A Curve Ball

Life Changes Happen

Tomorrow begins a new phase in my business life. I am moving sideways, working from home, without an office to go to. No more “desk” breakfasts and lunches. I have had to rethink my meal planning strategy. I won’t give up #mealprepsundays, it will just be different. This, being my first week, I kept it simple. I made sure my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer contain many healthy low fat, low calorie/ low point choices and none of my trigger foods. I also made an herbal iced tea, and have gallons of fresh bottled water on hand. I did prep a veggie egg white fritatta for breakfast, but plan on switching that out with yogurt berry bowls.

Here is a list of some of the things I have in my pantry to keep me safe:

  • broccoli slaw/ garbanzo beans/ frozen shrimp/ Bolt House light salad dressings
  • chicken broth/ frozen veggies/ TJ’s Chicken Cilantro Won Tons
  • Ole Whole Wheat Tortillas, 100 cal. English Muffins, Ak Mak Crackers
  • smoked salmon
  • TJ’s Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip (I use as a sandwich spread)
  • veggie snack packs/ tzatziki/ hummus
  • a couple of Lean Cuisine entrees
  • Progresso Light Soups
  • Fresh fruits & berries

Staying hydrated:

Delicious new Trader Joe’s find: Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Iced Tea
using my Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker
Starbucks Swap Out – My homemade 20 calorie chai latte
I use 2 of tea bags of this delicious spiced chai tea

and a half cup of the unsweetened vanilla almond milk


Veggie Egg White Fritatta with left over slow roasted tomatoes, diced green chilies,
and diced red onion
I add a teaspoon each of ground flaxseed (1 point) , and chia seeds (2 points) to the entire recipe
Plain Non Fat Greek Yogurt, Fresh Berries, Ground Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds
topped with this delicious sugar free cereal I found online:

Diabetic Kitchen Cinnamon Pecan Granola
160 calories/ 6 points for 1/3 cup, but I’m only using maybe a tablespoon on my yogurt


Veggie Snack Bags. A copy cat idea found on Instagram @ilanamuhlsteinrd.
Peeled and sliced daikon, mini bell peppers, sugar snap peas, baby carrots.
All finger foods. Grab and Go for your car, a hike, the beach, wherever.
How I used my veggie snack bags last week – New Trader Joe’s find: Middle East Style Feast
Includes: stuffed grape leaves, hummus, lentil salad, tomato cracked bulgar wheat salad
It was a very chaotic week at work, and this was my on the go breakfast.

A Sweet Treat:

I got inspired this week by one of the Hungry Girl news daily news letters ( She made popsicles out of a new product, Banana Almond Milk. It looked and sounded so good, but I could not find the product anywhere yet. I perused online and found a little recipe for tropical mango popsicles. Here is the link to the original recipe: I did not have a ripe banana, so I made it without. I ended up adding 2 teaspoons of Stevia for sweetness, and I am extremely pleased with the result. I hope this inspires you to get online when you have a craving and find a healthy recipe to quell that craving for yourself. It’s a fun learning experience to experiment, and so gratifying when you are happy with the result.

Simple Healthy Ingredients. Mango popsicles made in seconds in the blender
Organic Frozen Mango Chunks, Reduced Fat Coconut Milk, Lime, Stevia (not shown)

Here is to starting a new chapter

Clinking Glasses on Google Android 9.0

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Have a great week, all!

Counting My Blessings


Jenny’s Jasmine in Bloom circa 5/18/19
Jenny was my dear friend, neighbor, swim mentor, and overall inspiration in life.
We lost her way too soon to breast cancer back in April 2015.
Honoring Jenny today with immense gratitude


“The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.” I aspire to this.

Because my work life has been particularly stressful lately, as mentioned in last week’s blog, and will continue that way for a while still, I chose to write a gratitude list today, and vow to start each day with a grateful heart. In preparation I went back and read the journal I started at the suggestion of my WW leader (now coach), the great Amy B. back on September 5, 2015. I was in the middle of my WW journey. She had asked us to write down words in our weight books that were meaningful to us. I wrote Perseverance and Gratitude. I did not realize then how truly relevant those words would continue to be for me throughout this phase of my life. I am still persevering at work, with my weight, and with my orthopedic health, which is what I wrote about then. I am also still reminding myself daily to feel gratitude despite the struggle.

My Gratitude List (the short list)

  1. My overall health, positive attitude, energy, as well as my physical and emotional strength.
  2. My husband, Michael. I am grateful for his love, his support, his complete understanding, and his patience. Some would say we don’t have a conventional marriage. We don’t go out a lot, and he does not accompany me to any family events or very few social events. But what we do works for us, and that is what matters.
  3. My family, and my family of friends. I am grateful for the unconditional love I have from you all. I want to especially shout out to my WW tribe who have listened to me, and been there for me, unwavering. And my to cousin Ilene, who is as close to a big sister as it gets. I want to include my co-workers here too. We have been going through this together, and really have become a different sort of family.

I am also grateful for the knowledge I have gained through my journey with WW, and the teachings of aforementioned Amy B. I started this blog just this year, but I have been practicing #mealprepsunday from the beginning. Keeping this routine going is one of the keys to my weight loss success and continued maintenance. Following is today’s meal prep for my work breakfasts and lunches this week:

Breakfast fritatta

For breakfast this week, I made an egg white fritatta with asparagus, ham, roasted red peppers and red onion. Everything was already in the house. We had opened a can of asparagus from a dinner salad earlier this week. The ham was left over from Friday’s dinner, which was a salad version of a club sandwich (that was good), I keep a jar of roasted red peppers in my refrigerator at all times, as I do with pre-chopped red onions. I weighed out just under 3 oz. of the ham for the entire recipe, which is about 120 calories or 2 points. Everything else is 0 points, and minimal calories. I can have this on a light English muffin or roll it into an Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla. Actually, while writing that I realized that would be really good with a little mustard added…. See how this works? Brainstorming :). If I want to switch it up during the week, I have jars of my cinnamon overnight oats in my refrigerator ready to go.

For lunch I made up a dish inspired by a bag of marinated frozen Italian vegetables I found in the Trader Joe’s freezer, last week, actually. I am pairing that with red lentil pasta that I tossed with zucchini spirals, and sweet red pepper chicken sausage. This was really almost too easy. All I did was boil the pasta. I tossed the cooled pasta with the zucchini spirals. In the morning, I’ll mix that in with some of the defrosted marinated vegetables, a sliced up sausage, and a little fresh basil. I’ll heat it in the microwave at work, and voila – a healthy 6 point lunch. 3 for the veggies (90 calories), and 3 for the sausage (110 calories).


Thank you for joining the conversation. I always welcome any comments, questions, or critiques.

Make next week a meaningful one, and to start each day with a grateful heart.

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The Stress Effect

I have been going through one of the most challenging times of my life. My situation at my long time job has been deteriorating steadily over the last year. Paychecks started to become dicey in January, then we didn’t get paid for April until the first week of May. Coincidentally, my cold symptoms started that week, and today, almost 2 weeks later, I sit at home with pneumonia. But I am on the mend!

I have always dealt with stress in a healthy way – keeping up my routines with healthy eating, work outs, and social activities. This time, between the inconsistencies of the paychecks and the sheer not knowing what was going to happen was terrifying. I want to mention here that things are on the upswing again. We are merging with another company starting in June, and my job has remained secure.

To cope during this time, I used acupuncture and massage therapy, and frankly this blog to keep my spirits up. Also, my water jogging workouts during the week were key. Not only is it the perfect way to decompress after work, but it’s social. You meet lots of great people in the water. And my husband and friends. My husband has been my rock, assuring me over and over that we would be okay no matter what. And the constant love and support from my dear friends and co workers during this time will always be cherished.

Creature comfort – Pearl & Jake
Giving credit where credit is due. They keep me smiling and my heart full.

There hasn’t been much meal prep going on, but I have kept myself “safe” with healthy and low calorie/ low point convenience foods. I made sure I that I had eggs, low fat/ low sugar yogurt cups, and light canned soups, and of course my Ole Whole Wheat Tortillas for 50 calories each in the house. Luckily I do have a healthy pantry stocked at all times as well. And I am drinking gallons of water. And hot tea.

Healthy yet comforting snacks
Light Canned Soups – 160 – 180 calories for the whole can, and delicious
Strawberries and Cream for dessert make me happy

Today I made a rich, healing chicken soup. I used chicken breasts on the bone with the skin on, as I wanted a full bone broth for all of the nutrients. I added the prepared
Mirepoix from Trader Joe’s, lots of garlic, salt & pepper, as well as turmeric and ginger for their flavor and anti inflammatory properties. I also added a little bit of dried basil.

Healthy Homemade Chicken Soup is on the menu

I feel like I learned a lot about myself during this tough time, and feel stronger because of it. I am just looking forward to the page turning and a fresh start.

Thank you for being here. Join the conversation with any comments and/ or tips for me.

Have a great week!

What Level are You At?

Hunger – Fullness Scale

I hope you all had a wonderful and meaningful holiday last week, whether you celebrated Passover or Easter. And now it’s time for us all to regroup and get back on track.

Mindful eating is a THING. I have learned in my journey that it is not a good idea to go to the market hungry, or to an event hungry. Not that hungry anyway. What is THAT hungry, though? How do you discern that for yourself? There is another THING called Intuitive Eating. Books have been written about this, but I am going to try to put it in a nutshell here for you, so that you can start feeling your hunger and fullness levels, and become mindful of how much you should eat at any given moment, or meal time.

Here is the scale that I have learned to use. The challenge is to learn to stay in the neutral zones between levels 5 and 7.

0 – I’m about to faint. Painfully hungry.

1 – I’m so hungry I could eat my thigh.

2 – I feel my blood sugar dropping. Need to eat!

3 – I’m kinda feeling hungry. I think I’ll have an apple, and see how I feel.

4 – I’m fine (while looking at the clock to see when I can have lunch).

5 – Comfortable. Neutral.

6 – Getting full.

7 – Comfortably satisfied. Stop eating Now.

8 – A little bit too full, a few too many bites.

9 – Uncomfortably full, feeling bloated.

10 – Stuffed. I’m never eating again!

Before I begin this week’s meal prep, I want to go back and tell you what I contributed to my family’s Seder. I went on Pinterest for inspiration. Of course I was searching for a vegetable based side dish with very little matzo meal. I was very successful and found lots of good recipes. Here is the link to the Holiday Recipe board I have started:

I sent the board to my sister in law so she could choose the dish she wanted me to make. She picked the Spinach Vegetable Kugel, which was the one I wanted to make anyway :). It was all veggies with just 1/4 cup matzo meal in the whole recipe. Here is the link to the original recipe: Well, with all due respect to, the recipe was very poorly written with regard to the ingredient list. It called for fresh spinach 1 oz. (1 OUNCE??)
2 onions chopped (I used 1 large yellow onion), 1 stalk celery chopped, 1 red pepper chopped, 3 grated carrots, 1 cup chopped mushrooms, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 2 eggs, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, and 1/4 cup matzo meal (which can be subbed with bread crumbs or panko when not using the recipe for Passover). Because I always make a recipe as written the first time I use it, I followed the recipe almost to a T. It didn’t take me long to realize that I really did need more spinach. I ended up using 10 ounces of baby spinach in all, and my kugel looked nothing like the one in the picture. It did, however taste great. When I make it again, I will use less carrot, more celery, more mushrooms, and more dried basil.

Spinach Vegetable Kugel. Mine is the one on the top of the photo. The one below is from Doesn’t even look like the same recipe, but it is.

My meal plan for lunch this week is a Mexican style chicken salad, starting with seasoned shredded chicken. Since we had plans with friends for Sunday brunch, I did my grocery shopping yesterday. After my swim and shower this morning, I popped my chicken in the slow cooker with a little vegetable broth (you can use any broth, that is what I had open in my frig), a can of Rotel tomatoes, and a little bit of jalepeno peppers that were also sitting in the frig. It was great to get this cooking before we left for our date. I’ll be pairing the chicken with a salad mixture made with Trader Joe’s Southwestern Salad Kit, and Broccoli Slaw. I’ll use Bolthouse Ranch for my dressing this week, which is 45 calories for a 2 tblsp serving and delicious. If I want a little more volume in my lunch I’ll take along a cup of Trader Joe’s Latin Style Black Bean Soup, 70 calories for a 1 cup serving.

Mexican Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Ingredients

Final Product – shredded chicken and a bonus – a seasoned tomato broth to be used in a recipe to be named later

My Salad Mix Ins

I was able to knock out my egg white fritatta before we left as well! That’s how fast and easy this recipe is. I used the Trader Joe’s bagged Power Greens I had left over from last week. I added a little of the broccoli slaw, and some roasted red bell pepper from the jar. I seasoned it with salt & pepper, and added my shredded flax seed, and chia seeds, as always (about 1 tsp each for the entire recipe). I did spray the pan with Canola Oil spray before I started. I baked it in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. I call this The Green Egg White Fritatta. I also have a couple of jars of overnight oats that I made last week, to change off.

Green Fritatta Ingredients
My Green Egg White Fritatta, the finished product

That’s all for now! Please join the conversation. Your comments, critiques, and questions are welcome.

Make it a great week!