Quick Meal Preps for Busy Weekends

Busy work weeks translate to busier weekends. Happily, I am maintaining the balance of getting things done vs down time. It just requires a little more planning. I am now writing things down and keeping a calendar, so that now everything fits in the way I want it to. Honestly, the only piece of my puzzle that is missing is swimming. When that opens up, I will pivot again, as to ensure the harmony that I so desire.

In addition to my meal preps needing to be quick, easy, clean (not processed) foods, anti inflammatory diet friendly, as well as low in calories and WW points, they also need to be easy to put together in the morning as well as in my work place when getting ready to eat them. I don’t ask for much ;).

Today I put together a quick and easy ground chicken taco mixture. I started my sauteing my diced red onions in a skillet, then adding the chicken, which I seasoned simply with s&p, a generous amount of cumin, dried oregano, and a couple of the frozen garlic cubes. I added canned diced tomatoes with chilies, a can of mild diced green chilies, and a can of pinto beans, which I drained and rinsed. I also ended up adding some frozen spinach. As I was cooking, I realized needed more veg, specifically a dark leafy green (for that anti inflammatory aspect I want every week).

Here is my lunch side salad for this week. Cabbage slaw mixed with broccoli slaw, dressed with Bolthouse Farms Coleslaw Yogurt dressing for 50 calories/ 1 point for 2 tablespoons. By the way, I have 2 tablespoon containers I use, so my dressings are always pre-measured.
Full Meal. Lunch prep, ready to pack. BTW, the cheese gets packed in a 2 tablespoon container same as my salad dressings. Pre-measuring is key for me.

Last week I did a different easy lunch prep that involved very little time, and very little cooking. I did a Greek salad with a little roasted chicken breast. I made a super simple red wine vinaigrette for this. It’s 1/3 cups red wine vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup water, a half teaspoon each of s&p, and I added dried oregano because it was for a Greek salad, after all.

Beautiful fresh ingredients for my Greek salad with roasted chicken breast. Not shown are the Trader Joe’s light feta, and kalmata olives that made the salad so tasty.
The final dish

I hope that these quick and easy lunch preps inspire you to find your own that make you happy. Meal planning and prep do not have to be complicated, or take all day. The interwebs are full of great ideas. It is so easy these days to find culinary inspiration, and to hack a recipe to fit your dietary needs and desires. Here is a short list of some of my favorite blogs/ websites for meal prep inspiration:

https://www.hungry-girl.com/recipes

https://thepounddropper.com/

https://skinnyms.com/category/recipes/

https://www.flavcity.com/

https://diethood.com/

Make it a great week, my friends. Stay safe and healthy. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Take good care of yourselves.

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Eating to Build Our Immune Systems

As I was reading up on this topic I realized that eating to build your immune systems and an anti inflammatory diets are closely related, and in fact intertwined. Many immunity building foods also work as anti inflammatory foods. I have been sent, and have been seeing many concoctions that are said to ward off the Corona Virus. And I am looking closely at all of it, and that is what has sparked today’s blog.

I have added more citrus to my diet. I began drinking warm water with slices of lemon in it daily (thank you, Marcy for the home grown lemons). And today I bought a range of citrus fruits to keep in the house, after reading about the overall immunity and anti inflammatory benefits of them. And I love all citrus fruits, anyway.

Marcy’s lemons with limes, and a pink grapefruit ready to eat on my kitchen counter. Not shown are the mandarin oranges I also bought today (they are in the refrigerator)

I have also discovered Nutritional Yeast. Nutritional Yeast is a complete protein, contains all 9 amino acids, is high in B vitamins, and trace minerals. And it tastes good! It adds a nutty, cheesy, kind of an umami flavor to foods. So far I have added it to scrambled eggs, and today to my vegetable soup. Here is more about it: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nutritional-yeast.

Here is a short list of foods that are good for our immunity and for anti inflammatory diets: https://globalhealing.com/natural-health/8-foods-that-boost-your-immune-system/

I want to mention HOW I finally came to buy and try Nutritional Yeast, because it’s a lesson for us all – I was shopping at Trader Joe’s last week after the shelves had been stripped of almost everything. I found the 1 bag of Nutritional Yeast on the shelf, and picked it up. I realized I had heard good things about it, so I read the back of the package, noted the low calories (20 cal for 1 tblsp/ 0 points), and price :), then decided to give it a try. Yesterday during our WW virtual meetings, our coach, the great Amy B. was talking about finding new products on the empty grocery store shelves during this time. She talked about low calorie (low point) sauces that you might not normally try, for example. Keep an open mind while shopping these days. You never know what new treasures you will discover.

Like many of you, I won’t be going to work this week. What little work I have I will do from home, as I am in sales, and unfortunately, as all of the stores I sell to are closed, I am essentially out of business until this passes. Deep breaths…. (This might be a good time for me to try meditation).

I wasn’t really planning a meal prep today, but as I was continuing to read about building our immune systems against this virus, I decided to throw a vegetable soup together out of what I had in the house. I went to my freezer and pulled out a bag of mixed vegetables, a mostly used bag of frozen broccoli, and a partly used bag of spinach. I had most of a quart of chicken broth in the refrigerator, a bag of shirataki noodles, and the Nutritional yeast. I seasoned my soup with 2 cubes of Dorot frozen garlic, some freshly ground black pepper (no salt, as my broth was not low sodium), some ground coriander, and cumin. It came out great, and I want to tell you that the Nutritional Yeast did lend a new flavor that I really like. And it my soup has 0 points, I believe, on all 3 WW plans. I am very happy to have this in the house this week.

0 point pantry veggie soup with shirataki noodles and Nutritional Yeast

I want to share one more thing with you that I am going to make for my husband and I. I found it on Instagram this morning. It’s a ginger lime tea recipe. Great for both our immune systems and has all of the anti inflammatory properties: https://presleyspantry.com/2011/04/11/ginger-lime-tea/.

We are all in the same boat here. There is no end date on the quarantine. All we can do is keep ourselves healthy with the foods we eat, exercise, and staying rested. Worrying, stressing, and food binging are not going to help. Take care, my friends.

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Feeling Ageless

The Benefits of Keeping Your Mind and Body Strong

My weight loss and fitness journey started when I was in my mid 50’s. Due to a chronic condition that developed in my left leg, I was told by my orthopedist that I could no longer walk long distances, which was my main form of exercise at that time. He told me that the only exercises I could do without hurting myself were riding a stationary bike (the upright kind only), or swimming. I knew how to swim, and enjoyed recreational time in the pool throughout my life, but swimming for fitness was out of my realm. And besides, I had already been coloring my hair for some time, and didn’t want to risk damaging that! So I joined a gym, and started riding the bike for a half hour at a time, with the intent of increasing that in increments as I got into better shape. I dabbled with upper body nautilus machines, and stretching, but overall I was so bored. I was also in denial about my weight.

After a few conversations with my neighbor about this, she convinced me to get into the pool. She had been on swim teams as a kid, and wanted to get back to it herself, so after a heart to heart about hair conditioners, I went for it, with my beloved neighbor at my side. It was slow going at first. I could barely get across the pool twice that first day. Soon I was swimming half miles, then finally a full mile. I got up to swimming 100 lengths at one point. I loved it! I started swimming a minimum of 3 times a week. I was becoming more aware of my 200 + lb weight and especially my size 16/18 physique, but I thought, “now that I’m swimming, the weight will melt right off”…. WRONG! So after a couple of particularly embarrassing photos I saw of myself during the holidays of 2011 (age 56), I made the decision to join WW.

It took me 3 years to lose 47 lbs, which I know is really slow, but I persevered, and today, at age 65, my weight is down an additional 3 lbs for a total loss of 50 lbs. And I am in the best shape of my life! I feel younger, and I look younger. At the family Hanukkah party my niece asked me if I was aging backwards. Of course I said yes! I am still working full time, I take great care of my skin (always have), and now my body is strong too. Yes, I have a few orthopedic issues, but I keep them managed with the pool workouts, which now include water jogging 3 times a week, and lap swimming on Saturdays and Sundays, daily stretching, and an anti inflammatory diet.

Make the most of your age. Here are a few suggestions to help you get to a younger mindset:

Try Something New

Keep an Open Mind About What Aging Looks Like

Tune Out the Negative Self Talk

Find People Who Inspire and Encourage You

Keep Moving

Focus on Goals and Celebrate Success

Me and my WW Tribe. These ladies have been my rock. Note that most of us are different ages and in different stages in life. And we are an extremely diverse group. All feeling happy, strong, and good about ourselves.

Today’s meal prep celebrates the end of winter with one last squash dish. I made a warm salad with a base of quinoa tossed with a tiny bit of parm, toasted chopped walnuts, and flavored with a little lemon zest, and topped with arugula, roasted delicata squash and scallions. I’ll be topping it with Trader Joe’s Shrimp Burgers. Here is the original recipe, which I hacked into a Baby Boomer Mermaid style lunch prep: https://naturallyella.com/arugula-delicata-squash-pasta/

Baby Boomer Mermaid style Roasted Delicata Squash and Arugula Salad with a Quinoa Base

I used 1 packet of Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Quinoa, which is a full cup in total, and tossed it with salt, pepper, and a pinch of chile flakes, about 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, and about a tablespoon of chopped toasted walnuts (which I keep handy for snacks – they are high on the list of the best anti inflammatory foods). I also added a little lemon zest. All the seasoning was per the original recipe, which was actually meant for pasta. I divided the quinoa into 1/4ths, and divided it into my containers. I topped that with raw arugula, then topped that with my roasted squash and scallion mixture, which I prepared according to the recipe. I pan fried the shrimp burgers to top off what will be my warm salad desk lunch, which I will heat up in the microwave at the office so the arugula will become slightly wilted and warm as well. I am figuring the whole plate at about 4 – 5 points (on the Blue Plan), counting the olive oil I used to roast the vegetables with.

This is what I like to eat. Please – scour the interwebs and find meal prep inspiration for yourselves.

My breakfasts this week will be blueberry yogurt bowls mixed with cinnamon, ground flax seeds and chia seeds topped with a sprinkling of Julian Bakery Pro Granola, which I have mentioned to you before. I’ll also take a mid morning snack to work consisting of a hard boiled egg (seasoned with Everything But the Bagel Seasoning), as well as an afternoon snack of a couple of mandarins and a light string cheese. That is my perfect pre workout snack, by the way.

Aging gracefully is a practice and a gift. Take care of yourselves. Thank you for stopping by today. Your comments, critiques, and questions are always welcome.

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Fresh Meal Prep Ideas

Thinking Out of the Box Today

I came up with some fresh ideas today for my meal prep. I’ve been getting tired of my breakfasts. I haven’t even posted them recently. I eat at home every morning now, so I don’t really need to “prep” perse, just need to have healthy things in the house at the ready. I have been switching off between cultured cottage cheese and yogurt bowls with cinnamon, ground flax and chia seeds mixed in and topped with berries, oatmeal with the same mix ins, or scrambled eggs topped with salsa and wrapped in an Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla. All good, healthy choices. But I’m bored.

A couple of months ago I started a new Pinterest board called Healthy Breakfasts Sans Eggs (https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/healthy-breakfasts-sans-eggs/) inspired by those of you in the WW Facebook groups that were looking for healthy breakfast options, and don’t like eggs. Last week I came across a recipe that I pinned, and have not been able to stop thinking about – Sweet Morning Potato with Yogurt, Maple Syrup & Nuts. I’m not big on anything that is too sweet any more, much less breakfast, but this idea intrigued me. And I know it won’t really be that sweet. Today I roasted 3 large sweet potatoes, which I will cut in half for my servings, and top them with non fat Greek yogurt mixed with my ground flax and chia seeds, drizzled with a little maple syrup, and toasted walnuts. Not only does this fit into my WW maintenance plan, but it fits into my anti inflammatory diet as well. Yogurt and sweet potatoes are both good for that, and for building up my immune system. Here is an article I found showing more: https://www.marthastewart.com/1542077/foods-healthy-immune-system?did=489992-20200212&utm_campaign=martha-stewart-living_newsletter&utm_source=marthastewart.com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=021220&cid=489992&mid=29641328065

The fixings for this week’s breakfasts. And here is the recipe:
https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-sweet-morning-potato-with-yogurt-maple-syrup-nuts-recipes-from-the-kitchn-9080

For lunch I hacked a slow cooker spinach and artichoke chicken recipe into a stove top version. Usually slow cooker recipes are my go to, but the poached chicken aspect of the original recipe didn’t appeal to me today, so I reworked it. Here is the original recipe, which is a great one. Love the flavor profile: https://www.thekitchn.com/slow-cooker-chicken-spinach-artichoke-recipe-256184

My version of spinach and artichoke chicken

I used all of the ingredients in the original recipe, but I did a stove top version – using ground chicken breast. I started with a diced shallot over medium heat, let that get a little translucent and soft in my pan, then added 1 lb of ground chicken breast, and seasoned that with salt & pepper. I then added 2 cubes (or 2 cloves) of the frozen garlic cubes, and let the chicken cook through. I combined 1/4 cup each of dry white wine, fresh lemon juice, and chicken broth, and deglazed the pan, lowered the heat, and let the liquid reduce to about half. That took about 10 minutes. I added the drained artichoke hearts, which I cut in half, then started adding the baby spinach in batches as it wilted.

I also wanted a “noodle” to go with this, so I cooked the half bag of red lentil penne I had in the cupboard, and combined it with a can of Palmini linguine to use as a bed for the chicken mixture.

I honestly don’t know the calories/ points of this dish, but I do know that it is veggie based, and overall very clean and healthy. It has flavors that I enjoy. And that is what matters.

Don’t be afraid to re-imagine your recipes and experiment. It’s fun, and you might surprise yourself with how well they turn out.

Thank you for joining me today. Make it a great week, and take care of YOU.

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Surviving a Business Trip

Staying on Track while in Vegas

I start today’s blog with a heavy heart. I am a Los Angeles native, and am heart broken and devastated by the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and the others lost in today’s tragedy. Not only was he an iconic champion, but a champion among men. He will be greatly missed in this world. Kobe. Gone way too soon.

Next Sunday I travel to Las Vegas for my trade show. I have my plan in place for staying on track. I called the hotel and put in my request for a refrigerator in my room. When you do that, tell them it’s for medical purposes (it actually is, although maybe not technically). They won’t question you or charge you. I’ll be bringing my breakfast items with me: Dannon 80 cal yogurt cups, containers of flax seed meal and chia seeds mixed, Julian Bakery Pro Granola Vanilla Cinnamon Cluster to top my yogurts with (2 points/ 97 cal for a 1/2 cup serving; I use just a tablespoon or so to top the yogurt with https://search.yahoo.com/search?fr=mcafee&type=E211US1079G0&p=pro+granola+vanilla+cinnamon+cluster), hard boiled eggs, and bananas. I won’t have as much control over lunches or dinners, but I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m able to make mindful choices and decide when it will be worth it to treat myself. I am not really planning on ordering desserts, though. I’ll be bringing chamomile tea bags and WW lemon bars for after dinner and winding down the day.

Simple meal prep today for the hectic work week ahead. I wanted to focus on anti inflammatory foods this week, and Hungry Girl’s Scoopy Salmon Salad came to mind. Such a great recipe. Thank you Hungry Girl: https://www.hungry-girl.com/recipes/scoopy-salmon-salad. I am pairing it with my favorite Ak Mak sesame crackers (3 pts/ 110 cal for 5 crackers), and Trader Joe’s Carrot Ginger Soup (0 pts/ 80 cal for a 1 cup serving). I choose to focus on anti inflammatory foods especially when I have a more physical and stressful week on tap than usual.

Scoopy Salmon Salad ingredients with my accompaniments
Healthy and delicious desk lunch on tap for this week. Incorporating anti inflammatory foods: salmon and ginger
List anti inflammatory foods. You can learn more for yourself on the interwebs. I also have an anti inflammatory recipe board on Pinterest.

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Today is a hard day. Hug your family. Tell your friends that you love them. And take care of yourselves.