Meal Prep 101

Starting Over

It’s been about 3 months since I have done meal prep for breakfast and lunches. I kind of let it flow freely, and got creative with foods I already had in the house. My nectarines were aging, and not gracefully. Saturday morning I thought “stone fruit butter”, but then I got lazy about peeling all of the fruit, so I quartered them, took the stones out, of course, and placed them in my slow cooker with a little Splenda Brown Sugar, vanilla, and Chinese Five Spice (a great secret ingredient for sweet dishes, especially chocolate). I then added the rest of my canister of old fashioned oats to the mix, which was barely a half cup, now thinking “nectarine crisp”. I didn’t measure anything. Also, this wasn’t planned and I didn’t know how it would come out, so I didn’t even take any pics of the prep. It did turn out well! Today I topped my yogurt with it after I mixed ground flax seeds, chia seeds, and cinnamon into it. I also heated the bowl in the microwave for about 20 seconds to loosen up the mixture. It was delicious!

Breakfast Prep: Nectarine “crisp” over plain non-fat Greek yogurt that was mixed with cinnamon, ground flax seeds, and chia seeds. all slightly warmed in the microwave

Now for lunch prep: The previous week, I had bought Trader Joe’s Sesame Crunch Chopped Salad Kit and teriyaki baked tofu to go with it for the house. The salad kit was great, and was gone quickly. I had a little over half of the tofu left over. I also had 2 small chicken breasts in the freezer. I went back to Trader Joe’s and bought that delicious salad kit again, and broccoli slaw. Yesterday I marinated the defrosted chicken breasts in my husband’s famous teriyaki marinade, but I substituted the soy sauce with coconut aminos for less sodium. Here is the original recipe, which was actually invented by my husband’s best friend’s mother. It was his favorite as a kid, and we’re talking back in the 1960’s!

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

2 tablespoons oil (I used 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil)

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1 teaspoon ginger

2 cloves garlic

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Added later by my husband, and used by me for my recipe: about a teaspoon of Sriracha Sauce.

I marinated my chicken overnight, but I would say it really needs 2-4 hours to work.

*Remember – recipes are made to be experimented with. Add and subtract ingredients as it suits you. The measurements can also be adjusted to your taste.

Chicken Fixings
This week’s lunch combo

And I have snacks prepped as well –

That’s it for today! Make it a great, albeit short work week!

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My Best Remedy IS…..

Saturday, August 16:

As I mentioned in my last blog, my new job began on July 29. Well, it has been 0 – 60 since then. Which I knew would happen, so no surprises. I am certainly not complaining. I am grateful to be in the position I’m in, and to work with really wonderful people. But boy am I tired!! Today is my first day off in 14 days. I went to a trade show in Las Vegas, which started on Saturday. I came home mid week, and went right to work. Yes, I was dead tired, but made it through to Friday. And surprise! Friday, we ended up setting up our office space unexpectedly, and there I was moving furniture. Saturday I got up, went to my WW meeting, went shopping and home to do chores. I was dragging. If you know anything about me at all, you know that I was planning a swim today. I almost didn’t go. That is how tired and sore I felt. But I dragged myself to the pool. It wasn’t wonderful at first. Of course the water felt fabulous, but I was out of breath, and sore all over. Finally I got my rhythm going, and started to feel better.

The above paragraph was to be the beginning of the blog I meant to publish last Sunday, August 17. And then….

Sunday, August 25:

FAST FORWARD TO THAT NIGHT –

Surprise appendix attack! Sunday I had an emergency appendectomy. It has been one thing after another since the beginning of the year. But I stay strong in my self care practice, my work ethic, and my appreciation for the life that I have, with no regrets. And that, my friends, is my Best Remedy for being happy, healthy, and staying focused.

I have no meal prep planned for this week, as I am still on the mend, and will be working mostly from home. I am continuing to keep healthy things in the house, and of course, no trigger foods! As focused as I am, stress eating is definitely still an issue for me.

I do want to share the dinner we had last night. It was a slow cooker chicken stroganoff recipe from diethood.com: https://diethood.com/crock-pot-chicken-stroganoff-recipe/.

It came out delicious. We used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of breast meat. I omitted the flour in the recipe, and the parsley garnish, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. One note: the recipe lists the cooking time as 4-4 1/2 hours on low. It only took about 3 – 3 1/2 hours in my slow cooker. So keep your eye on it. I highly recommend you give this a try. It’s luscious, yet light.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff . Recipe from diethood.com

Thank you for stopping by! Please feel free to comment, critique, or ask me any questions. You can find me on social media at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marshaleeg54/

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Make it a great week, and take care of YOU!

Life Changes – Again

And Back to Work I Go!

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.

A great start to the day: Smoked Salmon on an Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla with Spinach Kale Yogurt Dip, and a sliced vine ripened tomato. I’d say this is about a 4 point breakfast, and it keeps me full.
I switched off some days with plain Greek yogurt & berries, and I had scrambled eggs one day with salsa, wrapped int the Ole tortilla.
Lunch Basics – Healthy Dark Greens, Trader Joe’s Chopped Veggie Mix, and Garbanzo Beans – 0 points. I’ll add a lean protein to this, and one of the Bolt House Salad Dressings I have on hand.
Last week I had turkey breast in the house as well as low fat Jarlsberg cheese. Made a nice “chef salad”

Following is my food plan for my trip (which is 4 days in Las Vegas).

Breakfast in the room (always ask for a refrigerator when you check in):
WW Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, paired with plain Greek yogurt. Mixed together this makes a kind of “Spackle”. It’s healthy, and filling. The oatmeal cup is 3 points/ 120 calories.

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.

My after dinner treat will be a Fiber One brownie (2 points) and a cup of tea in the room.
I will also have fresh fruit on hand in my refrigerator.

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.

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See you in 2 weeks when I get back! Take care of yourselves!

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Routine vs YOLO

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.

https://www.lifehack.org/810887/how-to-break-a-habit

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.

Crackers/ Chips

Good Thins come in many flavors. The Corn One (shown) is 3 points for 41 pieces.
Ak-Mak Sesame Crackers. 2 points for 3 crackers.
My personal favorite. I grew up with this. My dad always bought it.

Pop Chips. Many flavors. The Sour Cream & Onion flavor is 4 points for 22 chips.

Dips/ Spreads

Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Spinach & Kale Yogurt Dip
I use this as a dip and as a spread. 2 points for 2 tablespoons
Hummus. 2 points for 2 tablespoons.
Can be found in any grocery store. Scan the package for points. Not all Hummus is created equal.
Here is the recipe for this one: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/hummus/
Laughing Cow Light Spreadable Cheese Wedges.
1 point for 1 wedge. Very versatile.
Hungry Girl has several recipes using this as an ingredient:
https://www.hungry-girl.com

On the Go

New Favorite – WW Turkey Sticks, 1 point for 1 stick
(There are 2 additional flavors of meat sticks available)
https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/shop/turkey-pepperoni-snack-sticks

Veggie Snack Bags, 0 points
Light String Cheese & Fruit. Apples are easiest for “on the go”, as they don’t require refrigeration
1 point

Sweet Treats

Unsweetened Apple Sauce Cups. 0 points
2 point sweet yogurt & berries
(also makes a good light lunch)
WW Chocolate Mini Bars. Points vary
https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/shop/foodanddrink/food/chocolate

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.

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Feel free to send your comments, critiques, and questions!

Make it a great week!

Party Planning

Strategize to Keep Yourself on Track

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.

For today’s meal prep, I made cottage cheese muffins with pumpkin inspired by fellow blogger, nadiiag https://for-healths.com/author/nadiiag/, who I discovered here on Word Press. I have already saved several of her recipes on my Pinterest boards. Her original recipe is titled Cottage Cheese Casserole with Pumpkin https://for-healths.com/2019/07/13/cottage-cheese-casserole-with-pumpkin/. Protein & healthy carbs seem to be my theme this week.

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.

Cottage Cheese Muffins with Pumpkin
(ingredients not shown: baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon)

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.

Ingredients:

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 egg

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!

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Mid-Summer Check Point

Try Something New! Take Time for Yourself!

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.

Water Jogging & Swimming. Now is the time to get in the pool!
Proper water jogging technique video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsamCiwQ9Ww

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.

This week I’ll be making the same slaw using broccoli slaw

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.

Low Fat Cultured Cottage Cheese topped with apricot and blueberries.
https://horizon.com/organic-dairy-products/organic-cottage-cheese/organic-cottage-cheese/

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.

Find me on social media:

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Pinterest (where all of my recipe inspirations are): https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/

Have a great week, my friends!

A Moment of Clarity

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?

The beautiful Santa Monica Swim Center
My “Magic Place”

Happy 4th of July, y’all!