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:
chicken broth/ frozen veggies/ TJ’s Chicken Cilantro Won Tons
Ole Whole Wheat Tortillas, 100 cal. English Muffins, Ak Mak Crackers
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
A Sweet Treat:
I got inspired this week by one of the Hungry Girl news daily news letters (https://www.hungry-girl.com/subscribe?s=header). 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: https://www.verywellfit.com/tropical-mango-popsicles-4142923 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.
“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)
My overall health, positive attitude, energy, as well as my physical and emotional strength.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/holiday-recipes/
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: https://www.kidneybuzz.com/daily-impact-meal/2015/8/17/spinach-vegetable-kugel Well, with all due respect to KidneyBuzz.com, 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.
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.
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.
That’s all for now! Please join the conversation. Your comments, critiques, and questions are welcome.
I’m not going to say I’m a lazy cook, so much as that I am short on time every Sunday. I start my day with a mile long swim at 8 when the pool opens. I then shower, and meet my husband at our favorite deli for breakfast. THEN I go shopping. Today was 2 markets, Trader Joe’s and Ralph’s. I don’t rush through my shopping. Even though I have my list in my head, pretty much, and my base recipes on my phone, I don’t go up and down every aisle, but I look at all aisles, and decide if I need anything there. And surprise! Today, I found that my Ralph’s completely changed around all of their aisles! That was annoying. Anyway, I also do take the time to read labels and to use my handy point scanner on my WW app. I hope you take time to do the same.
The reason for the explanation is that I have had critiques by loving and well meaning friends about my recipe writing. Hello – I don’t write recipes, nor do I test what I do before I publish them here. I have been scouring the internet for years to find the best “skinny” cooking blogs, and have been collecting recipes on my Pinterest boards. I am also signed up to receive e mails from my favorite bloggers. Meal prep has been an essential part of my WW journey from the beginning. When I started, I did follow all of the recipes to the T. And I started to learn. I learned about flavor profiles, and watched cooking techniques carefully on Food TV. Then I started to experiment, and hack the recipes, if you will, to cut down on time. Fast forward to today – I use convenience foods for at least 3/4 of my meal prep: frozen vegetables and canned vegetables, many already seasoned, as well as precut and bagged produce. You won’t see me taking the time to sprialize a zucchini for this blog. That’s just not me. My goal here is to expose you to the products that are available, and to give you ideas and inspiration for your own meal prep. If you want to teach yourself how to cook healthily for yourself and your family, and find recipes that work for you and your personal palette, I am providing a list below of links to my favorite “skinny” food bloggers.
All that said, I will attempt to include more of the detail of the food I am prepping today for you, and will do so going forward. Also, this is a conversation, after all. PLEASE write to me here at the website any questions or comments you have. I will address everything! I want to take a moment to mention here that I finally do now have a Facebook page. Please go on and “LIKE” it, so you see all my new content first. And feel free to comment there as well. Here is that link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/marshaleeg54/posts/?ref=page_internal
Chicken breast cooks best in water or broth, so I replaced the oil in the recipe with chicken bone broth (I wanted that richness that bone broth delivers, not to mention the health benefits. Here is a link to an article that speaks to this: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323903.php ). Because the bone broth does have salt, I omitted it from my prep today. When I am ready to eat this, the chicken will be shredded, and I will garnish it with Tzatiki, and hummus. There is a good chance I’ll wrap it in an Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla wrap, but I don’t have to. It will be great on it’s own. I’ll have it with an easy salad.
For breakfast I made an egg white fritatta using the vegetables I had on hand in my house – frozen spinach, jarred roasted red peppers, chopped up red onion, and a few cherry tomatoes I had left over from last week. My new surprise ingredient this week is vegetarian sausage patties, which cooked in the microwave, and cut up into small pieces. I used 2 for the hole recipe. They are 70 calories each. I’m excited. Because the sausages are already salty, I omitted the salt in my prep today. I seasoned this with just some fresh ground pepper. I also added a teaspoon each of ground flax seeds and chia seeds.
In case you are not aware – Strawberry’s are back! I wash, hull, and cut mine so they are ready to add to yogurt or top with whipped cream for dessert at a moment’s notice.
These are the food addictions we have developed over the years. I personally am addicted to all 3. My work over these past 7 years has been to stave off my cravings for these things. With the guidance of my beloved WW leader Amy, and my sheer desire to get past these addictions so I could live a more active, healthier life, and be a size 8, I have succeeded in giving up diet sodas, full fat & sugar ice cream, full fat cheese, french fries, regular potato chips, pastries, and pizza (BTW, this list can go on and on. I’m just cutting it off here, but you get the point). Okay, the only thing on that list that I really have given up for good is the diet soda. I have no use for that anymore at all. But the other things on that list haunt me on a daily basis.
What I have succeeded in doing regarding those trigger foods is to either find viable substitutes for them OR to allow myself to indulge in them on special occasions, and only when they are worthy indulgences. For example, if a sweet delectable is home made or it’s a special pizza from a special restaurant, I will definitely indulge. Also, I can plan for my indulgences with tracking, and meal planning.
When you feel tempted to go off track for a store bought cookie or run of the mill pizza, remember why you started this journey in the first place. Ask yourself if that bag of potato chips or slice of garlic bread is worth the extra calories.
And what about stress eating? This has been my issue of late. I am going through a really rough patch with my job. It has taken all of my strength lately to stay on track, and I have veered off a bit in the last couple of weeks. Lucky for me, I have been doing this long enough that WW is part of my actual identity. I am able to talk myself down from these cravings for the most part. I also have been replacing stress eating with exercise. I go to the pool anyway 3 times a week after work. Now I bee line there, and the water really does help me decompress. Another way I keep myself safe is to keep these foods out of my house all together.
My recipe is not from the book. I made it up using the vegetables I had on hand. I’ll be switching off eating this and the delicious slow cooker pumpkin oatmeal I have left over from last week.
Lunch is a mish mash, also using mostly things I already had on hand. Last week I made quinoa. I was thinking about mixing it with my Palmini salad, but I never did that. The Palmini salad was wonderful as is. I emulated the ingredients for the quinoa salad I’ll be eating this week, but added garbanzo beans. I’ll use the same red wine vinaigrette I made as well to dress it. I’ll be pairing the salad with a little Italian inspired vegetable soup, and Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, which is 110 calories a serving and delicious.
Have a great week, my friends!
Join the conversation. I’d love to hear how you handle stress eating, and trigger food temptations. I’d also love to hear your meal prep ideas and tips!
As we age, albeit gracefully, our bodies reflect the wear and tear of life. About 12 years ago, I developed tendinosis in my left leg, and more recently have been dealing with age related back issues. In both cases I was able to manage the pain, and avoid surgery, and that is my wish for you.
For the tendinosis, I saw an orthopedist who specialized in foot and ankle injuries. He put me in a non weight bearing cast for 6 weeks. Not fun, but better than surgery. Because this was a chronic (and genetic) issue for me, caused by my foot going flat when I walked, he rocked my world by telling me that 1) losing weight would be a good idea, 2) that I should not walk long distances, or run. Ever. Instead get in the pool or ride an upright stationary bike for exercise. And 3) that I basically had to wear orthopedic shoes the rest of my life. Lucky for me, his best suggestion was wood clogs, which at least can be cute. The reason for the clogs is because some of the design characteristics they have include anatomically contoured arch support, rocker-bottom soles, and heel elevation—an attribute that some doctors believe eases the strain on leg and back muscles.
This was all a big blow, but eventually it lead me to my WW journey, the loss of 50 lbs, and most importantly to the water, which has become not only my sport of choice, but my haven, my happy place. This was my silver lining.
Last year my back went out completely. My MRI showed age related natural deterioration of my lower back. I once again decided to go the conservative route and avoid surgery. I went straight into physical therapy for pain management, and to regain my strength. I did this in conjunction with acupuncture. To this day, I start every day with the stretches that my physical therapist gave me. In addition, I decided to attack the situation internally as well. I added anti inflammatory foods to my diet as well as a couple of natural anti inflammatory supplements. Those are Turmeric, and something called Inflamma Less, which I found at CVS. Whole Foods also carries it, and you can find it online. Here is the link to my Pinterest board for the anti inflammatory recipes: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/anti-inflammatory-diet/
Lets go back to the discussion about getting in the water. DO IT. It really is the best non impact exercise out there. Many orthopedic specialists highly recommend it, and aqua physical therapy is common. For good reason. There are many things you can do in the water. I swim and water jog. Check out U Tube for videos showing all of the great and fun aqua aerobics techniques out there. But pay attention to the techniques! They are super important so you don’t hurt yourself. Allow me to address some of the reasons s you may be skeptical. 1) you are scared of the water, or don’t know how to swim: find a municipal pool in your area and take an aqua aerobic class, or beginners swim class. 2) protecting your hair: before putting on your swim cap douse your hair with water. That fills up the hair shafts so that the chlorine can’t get in. In addition to that, add a conditioner. 3) you don’t want to wear a swimsuit in public: believe me, no one looks, especially in the aqua aerobics classes! But for good choices of conservative swimsuits that fit check out: https://www.swimoutlet.com/ ; https://www.swimsuitsforall.com ; https://www.landsend.com
I also made pumpkin oatmeal in my slow cooker. This one is in honor of my beloved niece Eden, who loves everything pumpkin. Here is the link to the original recipe, but I substituted rolled oats, as that is what I had in my pantry. I also used less liquid (2 cups), which for me was unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Because I used the rolled oats instead of steel cut, I also cut the cooking time in half. It could have been cut even more though. I tasted it. It’s really yummy. I did not add any honey or other sweetener. I did add some ground flax seed and chia seeds for the health benefits. Those do not affect the overall flavor of the dish. https://skinnyms.com/overnight-slow-cooker-pumpkin-pie-steel-cut-oats-no-sugar-added/
For my desk lunch this week I am having Palmini “pasta salad”. Palmini is a past swap I learned of from Hungry Girl. I get her daily e mails, and listen to her podcasts. If you aren’t aware of her, you should be. Look her up: http://www.hungry-girl.com/
Palmini is actually Hearts of Palm cut into linguine like “noodles”. I have tossed them with sliced fresh cucumber, diced red onion, sliced sweet mini peppers. When I put the salad together in the morning, I’ll add fresh cherry tomatoes, and my homemade red wine vinaigrette dressing, recipe courtesy of WW.com. My protein of choice this week is shrimp. I also made quinoa. I thought that would add texture and protein. I’ll let you know how that goes. Palmini can be found on Amazon. I do not know if it is carried at any grocery stores at this point: https://www.amazon.com/Palmini-Pasta-Carbs-Shark-Pouch/dp/B079T9R4RP/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=palmini&qid=1554074359&s=gateway&sr=8-1&th=1
That is all for now! Please join the conversation.