What Do 100 Year Olds Eat?

I came across an article this week in my April issue of Good Housekeeping (they started sending it to me for free) that I found fascinating. Did you know that there are areas of the planet known as the Blue Zones? Blue zones are areas of the world where the highest percentage of centenarians live. These areas include areas of Italy, Japan, Costa Rica, Greece, and believe it or not, Loma Linda, CA. In addition to having the highest populations of centenarians, these areas boast extremely low rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

The saying goes, “You are what you eat.” There are a few simple changes we can make to our diet in order to increase our odds of living to 100. Here are few of the common foods, which are available at our mainstream grocery stores that are popular among the centenarians.

  • Legumes (especially chick peas, lentils, and fava beans)
  • Eggs
  • Goat and sheep milk and cheese
  • Almonds
  • A variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal
  • Small amounts of fish or other lean meats
  • Herbs and spices like turmeric, fennel, and garlic
  • Tea and wine

In addition to eating lean and clean these people stay active. I’m not saying they run or swim miles, but they stay active by walking, gardening, and doing housework. They have a sense of purpose, things that motivate them in their every day lives. They also take time in their days to decompress whether it be by meditating, or praying. They do not eat until they are stuffed. They stop eating when they are 80% full. Lastly, they are committed to their families and friends. They take the time to nurture their relationships to reinforce healthy behaviors, and to build valuable, loving memories.

My meal prep idea for this week actually came about before I read the article that inspired me today, and it just so happens to be lentil salad. In keeping with my desire to eat mostly plant based, and with the weather turning warmer, I was drawn to this simple recipe from Skinnytaste: https://www.skinnytaste.com/lentil-salad/. Instead of making the lentils from scratch, I used Trader Joe’s steamed lentils (found in the produce section). I mixed them with Trader Joe’s mire poix, which is a mix of fresh precut carrots, onions, and celery, a red bell pepper, diced, fresh parsley, chopped, the juice of a whole lemon, about a tablespoon of olive oil (for the whole salad) and then seasoned it with dried thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. All of these ingredients are based off of the original recipe. Easy peasy. This will be great to eat this week with matzo. If it was not Passover, I could also eat it with rice cakes, or with my favorite crackers.

Simple Lentil Salad (0 points on WW Blue)

Speaking of Passover, here is a fresh take on toasts that I came across in the same magazine. These are made with matzo for the holiday, but I think these healthy and yummy toppings are inspiring as toast snacks on your favorite bread or crackers any time.

Here you have avocado toast with shaved cucumber, peanut butter, blueberries, and bananas, strawberries and cream, and hummus with radishes and chives.

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/a35591339/matzo-toasts-recipe/

I might actually end up subscribing to Good Housekeeping. I am finding some very relevant, interesting things in there. Who knew?

Anyway, you all have a fabulous holiday week whether you are celebrating Passover or Easter. Enjoy!

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What Should I Eat?

How do you work through those pesky cravings? The other day I had to get to the office early, so I decided to pick up my tea and breakfast at Starbucks instead of making them at home. I choose Starbucks because they are fast, convenient, and they really do offer several delicious low point choices for breakfast. I get my mock chai latte, which is just brewed chai tea with a splash of almond milk. For breakfast I usually get the spinach feta wrap (7 points on WW Blue). I love it because it is loaded with veggies and is really delicious. The turkey bacon sandwich (6 points on WW Blue), or one of the egg bite options (6 – 7 points on WW Blue, depending on the one you get) are also great options. But that day I was having some sort of crazy craving for a sausage, cheese, and egg sandwich. I was really hungry, and for some reason really wanted that salt and fat combo. I truly had to talk myself off of the edge. I started that process by taking a deep breath and asking myself what the consequences would be if I chose the sausage sandwich. I explained to myself that I would not only feel bloated afterwards, but I would feel badly about myself for making that choice the rest of the day. It honestly wasn’t that simple, or that fast a decision. I thought about this very seriously for at least 5 full minutes. I ended up choosing the kale and mushroom egg bites. They are yummy. They are full of veggies and have a delicious cheesy taste and texture. As soon as I bit into one, I knew I had done the right thing for myself. Whew! I worked my way through a serious hedonic craving crisis that day. NSV 🙂

I want to mention that if you are prone to hedonic cravings, it is imperative that you keep your house “safe”. By safe, I mean no Hershey bars if you are a chocoholic. No potato chips if you are a salt and fat junkie like me. It is way too easy to go down those rabbit holes if those foods are handy in your home. There are alternatives you can explore, however. For your chocolate fix there are No Sugar Added Fudgicles (3 points for 2 pops on WW Blue), for example. My crunchy swap for potato chips is Reduced Fat Triscuits (3 points for 6 crackers on WW blue, which I count out), as well as lightly salted rice cakes (2 points on WW Blue for 1). By the way, both of these treats are great with a wedge of Laughing Cow Light Cheese spread on them. Explore the grocery store with your WW scanner open, or if you are counting calories, read the labels carefully. Not only notice the calories per serving, the size of the serving, but the sodium level as well. If you want to learn more about how to read food labels and decipher the ingredients, I suggest you follow https://www.flavcity.com/ on YouTube. This guy knows his ingredients and is a terrific and entertaining chef and teacher.

This week I had some fun with Asian flavors. I bought the Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons at Trader Joe’s for the first time in a long while (I had OD’d on them previously). They are 1 point for a serving of 4 won tons on WW Blue, or 50 calories. So my soup is my own recipe, or prep. It is 0 points on WW Blue without the wontons. The base is Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger broth. To the broth I added a heaping tablespoon of white miso, 2 cubes each of Dorot frozen ginger and garlic, and a little Tamari sauce. I then tossed in sliced up bok choy, some edamame, shitake mushrooms that I sliced up, a good amount of scallions sliced thin, and diced tofu. I brought it all to a boil, then simmered it for about 20 minutes. Start to finish this took me under an hour, including the chopping. My kitchen smelled divine. I will portion out 4 wontons into my soup cup each morning this week, as they are fully cooked and will heat up with my soup in the company microwave.

0 Point Asian Veggie Soup with Tofu

To go along with my soup I made myself a batch of Scallion and Chickpea Pancakes, which I found in my April issue of Prevention Magazine. I am unable to supply that link, as the magazine does not allow free access to it. In a nutshell, the recipe is 2/3 cups each chickpea flower and water mixed together with 1/4 tsp of kosher salt. Let that rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Add to that 6 scallions sliced thin or a heaping 3/4 cup, and 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds. Heat toasted sesame oil as needed in your skillet on medium heat, and drop in spoonful’s of 2.5 – 3″ pancakes. The recipe says it makes 12, but I got 7. Not sure why. They did come out very tasty, though. The recipe in the magazine also includes a dipping sauce made with reduced sodium tamari, rice vinegar, and fresh ginger. I chose not to make that for myself this time, but it sounded delicious.

Scallion and Chickpea Pancakes

As I took the previous 2 weeks off of the blog, I did not take off #mealprepsundays. 2 weeks ago I made slow cooker chicken fajitas, which I had with fat free refried pinto beans on an Ole Whole Wheat tortilla. The recipe is so easy, and is 0 points on WW Blue: https://www.slenderkitchen.com/recipe/slow-cooker-chicken-fajitas.

0 Point Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas

Last week I made something fun and different – Jacob’s Cattle Beans with Pasta and Arugula (except I used baby spinach). I was actually going to write that day and feature this meal prep, but I was recovering from my second Moderna vaccine. YAY Me! I am fully vaccinated! Anyway, Jacob’s Cattle Beans are an heirloom variety of beans, but I happened to find them canned in my local Pavilions. I had never heard of them before. They have a very earthy flavor. Note that I added sliced cremini mushrooms to my prep. That and the spinach were my only deviations from the recipe: https://vintagekitchen.org/2021/03/01/jacobs-cattle-beans-with-pasta-and-arugula/. If you are in the mood for a hearty vegetarian dish, this is the one to try. It also got me to try rutabaga for the very first time. I loved it!

Thank you for joining me this week as I share my journey, and my “mealprepsunday work day lunches. I always welcome your comments, questions, and critiques.

Make it a great week, my friends. And remember – take care of YOU!

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A Multi-Cultural Meal Prep

I love writing this blog. I get such joy and satisfaction out of inspiring myself and you to eat well, care for ourselves, and live our best lives. One of the things that gives me the most joy is exploring the world of recipes on the interwebs, in magazines, and in books. As I watch the Food Network incessantly, I dream about having the time to explore recipes on a daily basis. But alas, I am relegated to once a week, as I need to continue to earn my living in the garment industry.

Last week my meal prep was a chicken tagine, which originated in Morocco. The recipe itself came from one of my favorite periodicals, Nutrition Action. This one is a keeper my friends. It can also be made with chickpeas, for a vegetarian version. I’m going to be honest. By Wednesday or Thursday each week I am usually getting pretty tired of my meal preps. This one was good until the last drop, like my lentil soup from a few weeks back. Here is the recipe link: https://www.nutritionaction.com/daily/healthy-recipes/the-healthy-cooks-chicken-or-chickpea-tagine/. I followed the recipe verbatim, with 3 exceptions – I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in, I swapped out the tomato paste for no salt added canned diced tomatoes, and I added the 2-3 oz of fresh baby spinach I had in the fridge. I want to mention that a couple of the keys to the success of this recipe were the fresh ginger, garlic, and lemon. Don’t skimp there if you are going to try this one. The side dish suggested by the magazine for this is bulgur tabouli, which did look delicious. I had Trader Joe’s Risoni (a grain free risotto made from lentils) in the house, so I used some of the inspiration from the bulgur dish, and added onion salt, garlic powder, fresh cilantro, and toasted slivered almonds to the Risoni, and it really became the perfect accompaniment. This was not the lowest point lunch in the world (15 points on wwblue), but it was delicious, satisfying, clean eats, and I thoroughly enjoyed it all week long, as I mentioned.

Yummy – Chicken Tagine with kicked up lentil risotto

For this week’s meal prep I made a mushroom dashi from Japan! Actually this recipe, and a couple of the exotic ingredients needed for it came from good friend Janis. This is a recipe that her vegan daughter makes often, and now she does too. And it originated from Bon Appetit: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/fridge-clean-out-nabe-with-mushroom-dashi. Janis gifted me with the dried kombu (a thick piece of seaweed), and the dried shitake mushrooms needed to start the broth. I followed the recipe pretty closely. I couldn’t find baby turnips, so I bought a small one and diced it up. While I was in the produce section, I spotted the daikon, so bought a small one to add in. I mean, the recipe says “fridge clean out”, so I figured I could add whatever I thought would fit in. I also added a tablespoon if white miso because 1) I had it in the house, 2) I like miso, and 3) miso is a gut healthy ingredient. The noodles are shirataki https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/shirataki-noodles-10. This is a 0 point soup, exotic, oh so clean, and delicious. And it has butternut squash in it.

Mushroom Dashi veggie noodle soup

And finally, we visit the Dominican Republic! You know how I love to try new fruits and veggies. Well, I love a melon, and yesterday I spotted a Charentais melon, which is a unique heirloom French melon variety.  It was tiny and adorable, and I bought it. By today it became incredibly fragrant, so I cut it open, and it tastes like a cantaloupe on steroids. So good! Please friends, when you find an interesting new item in the produce section of the grocery store, buy one. It’s a small investment, and can open up a whole new world of taste sensation for you. And it’s produce – healthy and 0 points.

Charentais melon from the Dominican Republic

Thank you for traveling around the world with me today. Please remember to carve out some time for yourself every day. Do a some stretching and exercise every day. Eat clean and well. Love yourself.

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Resetting for 2021

“Intention without Action Leads to Procrastination” ~ quote by Michelle J, WW Coach from Sherman Oaks, CA.

It’s time to reset, to turn our ideas into actions. Want to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet? Add one to EVERY meal and snack you have. That can mean having an apple with your light string cheese snack in the afternoon. It can mean adding salsa to your eggs in the morning. It can mean adding broccoli to your pasta water while it’s in the last 2 minutes of cooking. There are so many creative and delicious ways to achieve this goal. Another fun thing to do is make a commitment to try a new fruit or vegetable at least once a month. This is a great way to discover the fresh new produce that comes out every season. By the way – it is Cara Cara orange season now. If you have not tried one, you are missing out.

Additional easy ways to achieve your goals to eat healthier include meal planning. Start with planning just one or 2 meals a week. Make a shopping list, and stick to it (except in the produce department, where you can go a little crazy). As you shop, be aware of highly processed foods. Clean eating is key to good health. Clean foods fill your body with vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein and healthy fats, which improve heart and brain health, help with weight management, build a stronger immune system and increase energy levels, among other benefits.

My intention for myself this year, is to eat more plant based. I am also continuing with a couple of the plans I started this past year – 1 pot meals, and a focus on anti-inflammatory foods. My first lunch prep for 2021 is a curried lentil soup. Here is the recipe inspiration: https://www.thekitchn.com/lentil-soup-recipe-23004361. I cut the recipe in half, since it’s just for myself, but my trick with this is that I only cut the main components in half, not the seasonings or the vegetables. Also, instead of tomato sauce, I used less processed diced tomatoes, with no salt added. I also used frozen spinach, but only because my Trader Joe’s was out of fresh baby spinach. I also cut the fat. Instead of the 3 tablespoons (!) of olive oil the recipe called for, I sprayed my non stick Dutch oven with probably about 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

Curry Lentil Soup with Spinach

It looks like we will still be going through tough times with the virus for the next few months, at least. But you don’t have to be complacent, or get yourself into any ruts. Get out of the house, and get moving. Try to get a short walk in either before or after work (or during your lunch break). I love my after work swims. Great for decompressing. And the afternoons I can’t get to the pool, I make sure I walk for at least 15 – 20 minutes. Same thing on the weekends. I get some type of movement in daily, in addition to my morning stretch sessions. Start small, but start.

Thank you for joining me this week. Please feel free to comment, critique, or ask me anything.

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A Look Back – My Favorite Meal Preps of 2020

No need to rehash what an unprecedented year 2020 has been. It has been a horror story in so many ways, but has also produced some wonderful epiphanies for many of us. I have become aware of being more compassionate towards others, and have learned to take better care of myself, both inside and out. And for these realizations, I am grateful.

I did have some fun with meal preps this year. In no particular order, here are my favorites of the year:

Fritatta prep from Brunch All Day, August 9. Recipe inspiration: https://www.loveandlemons.com/frittata-recipe/
One Pot Spinach & Artichoke Chicken Pasta from Reality Check, September 14. Recipe inspiration: https://www.thekitchn.com/one-pot-spinach-artichoke-chicken-pasta-recipe-23073220
Homemade Healthy Granola from Take Care of Your Heart, October 11. (I make this all of the time now. It has become a breakfast staple for me, topping my yogurt blueberry bowls almost daily). Recipe inspiration: https://cookieandkate.com/healthy-granola-recipe/
Garbanzo Bean Greek Salad from In Gratitude, August 30
Very Veggie Turkey Meatloaf from Making Clean Eating a Priority from June 17. Recipe inspiration: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/recipe/very-veggie-turkey-meat-loaf/5c993ed35e84d2001c1cf17f
Spinach and Tofu Miso Soup from Managing the Holiday, December 6. Recipe inspiration: https://www.marthastewart.com/1159033/miso-soup-tofu-spinach-and-carrots.

Like most of the world, I did a little baking this year. My favorite recipe conversion came from the PB & J Blondie I made for Baking Baby Boomer Mermaid Style, published July 3.

Other baking favorites from this year that did not get photographed were: cherry oatmeal bars from: https://shewearsmanyhats.com/almond-cherry-oatmeal-bars-recipe/; fudgy brownies from: https://www.skinnykitchen.com/recipes/super-fudgy-brownies/; and my long time favorite, pumpkin spice cream cheese muffins (which I make into bars) from: https://drizzlemeskinny.com/pumpkin-spice-cream-cheese-muffins/

You can find many more healthy and yummy recipe inspirations on my Pinterest boards: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/_saved/. Also, find additional content on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marshaleeg54, and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marshaleeg/

This was also a year of lots of long walks, and video streaming. Two of my favorite discoveries from streaming are: https://www.youtube.com/user/flavcity with chef Bobby Parrish, whom I have learned so much from this year, and Chef Jamie Oliver, streaming on Hulu: https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/category/books/5-ingredients-quick-easy-food-recipes/. Both are so inspiring and are great teachers. Check them out.

It’s hard to admit that I have any favorite memories from the first shutdown that went from March to June, but this was a cool moment, seeing ducks swimming in the pool next door to me back in April.

What will 2021 bring? Who knows? My prayers are for enough vaccines for all, and peace in the world.

Wishing you all a very Happy, HEALTHY, and Prosperous New Year full of Joy and Love!

And BOOM! It’s the HOLIDAYS!

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:

  1. Don’t skip meals before your big feast.
  2. Alternate your alcoholic beverages with glasses of water, or mix water or club soda into your cocktail or glass of wine.
  3. Use a smaller plate to control portions.
  4. Make your splurges “worth it”.
  5. Veggies first! Load your plate up with vegetables.
  6. Eat slowly.
  7. 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.

Bean & Cheese Burritos Baby Boomer Mermaid Style
Fresh & Easy Side Salad

Last week I made a really delicious slow cooker recipe from WW.com: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/recipe/chicken-mushroom-and-brown-rice-slow-cooker-casserole. I reduced the calories, and points by swapping the brown rice for Trader Joe’s Risoni lentil rice. The flavors were savory, and very satisfying, but the recipe made a lot of food. I recommend this for an easy family dinner.

Slow Cooker Savory Chicken Thighs with Vegetables and Lentil Rice
A little inspiration

Thank you for stopping by. Stop and savor the beauty of the season, and take time with your friends and family, even if it can’t be done in person. And, please practice self compassion daily.

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Making Meal Prep a Habit

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.

Chicken Enchilada Stir Fry

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.

Tuna salad on Trader Joe’s jicama tortillas and Chopped Veggie Salad on Power Greens dressed with TJ’s fresh Green Goddess dressing.
A little more inspiration for you

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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Take Care of Your Heart

Watch the salt, my friends.

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.

Homemade Granola Baby Boomer Mermaid style

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.

Salmon pinwheels. I put a little avocado oil in the bottom of my baking dish, and just seasoned these with freshly ground black pepper. I baked them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. The internal temperature of salmon should be 135-140 degrees when done.
Fresh chopped salad prep for the week

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!

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Surprise Delivery Delivers Fresh Inspiration

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:

My Imperfect Foods Delivery Detail. (By the way, I did not get just 1 of each of the produce varieties mentioned. I got 3 beautiful peaches, 3 perfect little red pears, and 2 roma tomatoes.)

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.

The Shishito peppers became my inspiration for my lunch prep this week. I found an Asian Turkey and Rice Bowl recipe on line that featured pickled Shishito peppers as a garnish. Of course I had to spin both of these recipes to fit my Baby Boomer Mermaid eating and cooking style, and that is exactly what I did. First the original recipes: https://sweetphi.com/asian-ground-turkey-rice-bowls-recipe/#wprm-recipe-container-18205 and https://eatsimplefood.com/quick-pickled-shishito-peppers/.

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.

Breakfast yogurt bowl prep.

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!

Easy soup and sandwich combo takes away the meal prep but not the planning.

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.

Chicken Chow Mein Baby Boomer Mermaid Style

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.

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Make it a great week!

In Gratitude

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.

This is what the pool looks like when we arrive for our lane reservation. A far cry from what it normally looks like on a summer afternoon. At least there are still a few children there taking lessons.

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.

Easy no cook garbanzo bean Greek Salad for lunch this week. The dressing is my old stand by, the WW red wine vinaigrette: 1/3 c. olive oil/ 1/3 c. red wine vinegar/ 1/3 c. water. I added a diced shallot, dried oregano, s&p to season. To the salad, I’ll add arugula and fresh San Marzano tomatoes as I dole out my portions during the week.
Using this 70 calorie/ 2 point sliced multi grain bread, and kale, cashew, basil pesto on my turkey sandwich this week.

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.

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