It’s the holidays! And yet we are all still going through very stressful times. The uncertainty of life with Covid-19 continues. It’s unfortunate that we won’t be able to enjoy the holidays with our friends and families in person this year, but virtual family gatherings are a great way to connect with your loved ones this season while keeping yourself safe and healthy.
It is more important than ever to stick to our regular self care routines as closely as possible. Keep your body, your mind, and spirit active. Continue your exercise regimens. Read. Explore new cuisines, foods and recipes. Stream – enjoy all that Netflix and the like have to offer. Learn to paint with watercolors, or take on a 100+ piece jigsaw puzzle. One of my girlfriends continues to play Trivia virtually weekly. Remember, prioritizing your health and well being is not an extravagance, it is part of being human.
My meal prep this week is a super simple vegetarian spinach miso soup. Miso is a fermented food, which good for our gut health. It is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
Additional add ins were edamame and tofu for protein, Trader Joe’s Thai Vegetable Goyza (because I had about a half of a package of it in my freezer), shirataki noodles, and sliced scallions. I also kept about half of my sliced up scallions fresh to add right before eating. The goyza is 9 points/ 160 calories for a serving of 5 dumplings. I won’t have more than 1 or 2 per serving. Everything else in this work week lunch is 0 points :).
As we get into winter, the produce in the markets are changing. Don’t forget to explore new fruits and vegetables throughout the year. This month alone enjoy parsnips, persimmons, all of the wonderful varieties of winter squash, turnips, and yams, to name a few.
Wishing you all a holiday season filled with love, joy, health, and happiness!
It’s the time of year to count our blessings. There is no need for me to go on about all of the trauma and tragedy of this year, and I am not even going to get started on the political aspect of it all. None of us need to be reminded. What I do feel that we need to remind ourselves of are the things we do have, and the things we have gained appreciation for through this whole experience. Here is my short list:
I wake up every morning, and I can breathe, I can see, I can smell, I can taste, I can hear, I can move; my overall good health.
My husband, and my home, which includes my darling, loving cats.
My family and my family of friends. I love you.
My job, and the fact that I was able to come back from not earning, and being in debt, to now earning a good living, and am working my way out of debt.
The pride I have come to have in myself. I have said this more than once this year: I am a late bloomer who has bloomed. I have truly come into my own. I have finally learned how to love myself, and appreciate all that I have and all that I give in this world. And for this gift I have given myself, I am eternally grateful. What is on your list?
Of course Thanksgiving itself looks much different this year. For us, instead of going to my cousin’s home, we are staying put, just the 2 of us, as it is every other night of the year. We went through a list of some of the fun things we can make instead of turkey, which spanned from prime rib to linguini with clams. We ended up deciding on Cornish Game Hens, which we will do in the air fryer. Our side dishes will be mashed potatoes, and green beans with bacon. Slightly traditional and a slight splurge at the same time. I found a perfect WW inspired desert idea, which I will be making, a crustless pumpkin pie.
With a short workweek ahead, I am not cooking either. I did my weekly Trader Joe’s trip this morning and picked up a few things to have in the house, and to take to work for lunch this week.
The holidays are definitely looking different this year, but there is no reason not to be festive! Decorate now. Spend time with the friends and family you would normally see this time of year in person virtually, or at least by telephone. Most importantly, continue to be kind to yourself, and take good care of yourself. Here are a few reminders on how to stay on track this season:
Don’t skip meals before your big feast.
Alternate your alcoholic beverages with glasses of water, or mix water or club soda into your cocktail or glass of wine.
Use a smaller plate to control portions.
Make your splurges “worth it”.
Veggies first! Load your plate up with vegetables.
Take 10. It can take a few minutes for your belly to send the “I’m full” signals to your brain. For this reason, give yourself at least ten minutes before you decide to go back for a second helping. Remember, we’re going for satisfied,not stuffed.
My meal preps are becoming more and more simple. Today’s is probably the most simple yet, and it’s based on one of my favorite fast foods – bean & cheese burritos from Taco Bell! My plan was to incorporate as many veggies as possible in my mixture. I drained a can of diced tomatoes with chilis, and added them to the saucepan that already had diced red onions that had been sweated down, and a can of fat free refried beans. I just stirred it all through, and took it off the heat to cool. I put the mixture in the refrigerator for about a half hour, then filled my Ole Extreme Wellness Whole Wheat Tortillas with the mixture, and a pinch of shredded Lite 3 Cheese Blend. I rolled them up, and made individual foil packs out of them, so I can grab an go. This entire meal is barely 2 points on the WW Blue Plan. I say barely because the cheese is 2 points for a 1/4 cup serving, and I’m barely using a teaspoon of it per serving. My salad side is Trader Joe’s Power greens mixed with their Chopped Veggies, and that will be topped off with 2 tablespoons of Cilantro Salad Dressing, which is also 2 points. Now I have a filling, satisfying, and yummy 4 point lunch to eat throughout my work week.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.