Gearing Up for the Holidays

How to Manage Holiday Parties and All of that Delectable Food!

Thanksgiving is just a couple of weeks away, then come Christmas and Hanukkah. BOOM! These are the biggest and best food holidays of the year. Let me help you put things in perspective. These are just 2 or 3 meals you are going to enjoy over the next 6 weeks or so. At 3 meals a day, that is 3 x 42 days = 126 meals. That is 2 or 3 celebration meals out of the 126 meals you will eat in the next 6 weeks. We have plenty of time to plan for them. The most important thing is to stay on track during all of the days leading up to these special celebrations. Stay within your calorie or point budgets, and continue to be mindful of your portion sizes. I know this isn’t easy. We have “Friendsgiving” parties, we have office parties, we have cocktail parties at friends homes, just to name a few. Be smart with your choices. And don’t go to any of these parties or dinners hungry! This is one of the most valuable tips I can give you this time of year. Eat something healthy and a little filling before you leave your house! You won’t arrive famished, and ready to grab every fried, or processed appetizer that is put in front of you, not to mention the cheese and crackers (my downfall). With regard to alcohol, be mindful. Add soda water to your wine glass and make it a spritzer. Alternate with glasses of water between drinks, especially if you are more comfortable having a glass in your hand. Most importantly, remember WHY you started this journey to begin with while you are enjoying your friends and family during this special time of year.

I went Asian this week for my lunch prep. I made an easy Asian vegetable soup and teriyaki roasted chicken breast, using my husband’s famous savory teriyaki recipe, but with a healthier twist. In place of soy sauce, the base of my marinade is Coconut Aminos, which is made from coconut blossom nectar and sea salt. It is gluten free, soy free, and lower in sodium than soy or even tamari sauce, but lends itself to the soy flavor you are looking for here. Here is the original teriyaki recipe (which actually came from a friend’s mother back when my husband was growing up in the 60’s): 1/2 c soy sauce, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tsp mustard, 1/2 tsp ginger, pepper, 2 cloves garlic. That’s it. It is hand written. There are no other instructions. But it works. We add a little Sriracha to it too.

My Asian veggie noodle soup is seasoned with coconut aminos, ginger, garlic, dry mustard, and granulated onion, and a dash of Sriracha . In addition to the frozen stir fry starter, I added frozen, shelled edamame, and the rest of the bag of frozen riced cauliflower I had in the house.
My juicy 1.22 lb chicken breast cut into 4 servings. This was marinated in coconut aminos, garlic, ginger, dry mustard, and sriracha for about 4 hours, then roasted at 450 for about 25 minutes. Your chicken breast must reach a temp of 165 to be cooked through. A quick read thermometer is a valuable tool to have on hand. It’s important to remember to let any protein rest for about 20 minutes before slicing to retain the juices. The last thing you want is a dry chicken breast or piece of beef.

Breakfast this week is a egg white fritatta which includes turkey sausage crumbles, chopped spinach, and roasted red bell peppers, diced. I always add chia seeds and flax seed meal for their health benefits. I only used freshly ground black pepper to season this today, as the sausage has plenty of salt in it.

Healthy, hearty egg white fritatta with spinach, roasted red bell peppers, and turkey sausage crumbles

An important part of my meal planning includes my snacks. I always bring snacks to eat between meals. I eat breakfast early, so around 10 I’ll have a banana and a cup of 80 calorie/ 2 point Greek yogurt. In the late afternoon I’ll have an apple, and a piece of low fat string cheese, or a WW nut bar, which I always have handy.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope I have inspired you to take care of yourselves! Your comments, critiques, questions, and meal prep ideas are always welcome.

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Make it a great week!

Speed Meal Prepping

It’s All In The Planning

My Sunday’s are lovely, but usually pretty much all the same. I lap swim at 8 when the pool opens, and of course stay to socialize a bit, then go home to shower and meet my husband at our favorite deli, where everyone knows us, for breakfast. I then do my grocery shopping, and come home to meal prep and write this blog. I love this routine, but sometimes things come up and interrupt the routine. An old friend was in town and it was important that I go meet her for coffee this morning.

I planned ahead. Yesterday, I made all of my meal prep decisions, and did a portion of my grocery shopping. Early this morning, I had a light breakfast of cottage cheese & blueberries so I wouldn’t starve, then ran to Trader Joe’s to finish my grocery shopping for the week. I then met my friend, had a great visit, then met my husband at that deli for brunch. About an hour and a half after arriving home, all of my meal prep is finished, and the blog is being written. I will make it to the pool late this afternoon, enjoy my time there, then come home to wind down the weekend, and get ready for the coming week.

This week is still going to be hot in So Cal, so for lunch I decided on my favorite gazpacho recipe, which I have published before here (0 pts). It’s so good, it bears repeating. Any vegetable based soup, hot or cold is a great way to power down lots of veggies at once, plus it is cleansing and hydrating. To go with the gazpacho, I went with one of the seasonal Trader Joe’s frozen specialties, Riced Cauliflower & Butternut Squash Risotto (70 cal/ 2 pts for a 1 cup serving) and a TJ’s favorite, their Sweet Italian Style Italian Sausages (110 cal/ 3 pts for 1 link). Both can be made using the handy microwave.

My gazpacho. I know you see the olive oil there with the ingredients, but there are only 2 tablespoons in the entire recipe, so I’m calling it a 0 point dish.

When you peruse gazpacho recipes on the interwebs you see many that include bread in the ingredients. Years ago, I discovered this bread free recipe in Cooking Light magazine, then found it online. Here is the link to the original recipe: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/gazpacho-lemon-garlic-shrimp. On this go round, I just roughly chopped up all of the fresh vegetables (I did not bother with the measurements as listed in the recipe), and blended them in 2 batches, while dividing up the oil, vinegar, garlic, and seasoning, as well. Also, I squeeze the juice of the entire lemon into the recipe. That and the sherry vinegar really balance the acidity of the dish.

To go with my gazpacho are an easy meal put together at Trader Joe’s, Riced Cauliflower & Butternut Squash (cooked in the microwave) with Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, which are precooked

Breakfast this week is veggie egg white fritatta squares (0 pts) on Everything Bagel Thins (3pts). I put defrosted, drained frozen chopped spinach in my square Pyrex pan with chopped red onions, and cut up roasted red bell pepper from the jar. I added in a little ground flaxseed and chia seeds for their health benefits, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I poured in 1/1/2 cups of liquid egg whites (equals about 8 eggs), then baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Every oven is different. Check to make sure the eggs are set before you remove them from the oven. I allowed them to cool, cut into squares, and stored in the refrigerator. So fast and easy.

Egg white veggie fritatta squares

It was fun changing it up today! Meal prep for the week is complete and stored in the refrigerator. I’m off to the pool now!

Thank you for taking time to read my blog today. I hope there is something here that inspires you. Your comments, critiques, questions, and recipe suggestions are always welcome.

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

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The Pictures Tell the Story

How I am maintaining my weight and taking care of myself during a very hectic time. High holidays, family time, crazy work days, pool time – making it work, and feeling blessed to be able to do it all.

Rosh Hashonah Dessert Fruit Bowl
featuring seasonal fruits and a special honey yogurt dip
The fixings for my fruit bowl and dip. Note the surprise ingredient for the honey yogurt dip: Chinese Five Spice Powder. A friend who bakes told me about this ingredient years ago. It adds that little something that causes guests to go “That is so good! What is that I’m tasting?”
One of the traditions of Rosh Hashonah is bringing new and unusual fruits and vegetables to the table, something no one has tried before. The kiwi berries and these delicious Moon Drops grapes were my contribution. My nephew also brought kiwi berries, but no one had seen these delicious new grapes. My niece took a look at them and said, “they look like fingers”, and kind of made a face. I put one on her plate, she ate it, and smiled from ear to ear. I found them in Trader Joe’s. If you haven’t picked them up, I hope you do before they go away.
Showing off my sister Cynthia’s beautiful home baked, hand crafted challahs. They are gorgeous and incredibly delicious. After apples and honey, round loaves of challah are the most recognizable food symbol of Rosh Hashanah.  The loaves are shaped into spirals or rounds symbolizing the continuity of Creation. The loaf on top is a raisin challah, and the one on the bottom is the apple challah, which she only makes for this holiday.

Last week I kept my meal preps super simple. I was short on time, but stayed on track with the easy sandwich below. Breakfast was non fat greek yogurt with berries at home with my chai tea and almond milk. I added satisfying mid morning snack which was a hard boiled egg and a banana. I had an apple with me too.

Turkey Breast sandwiches! But I rolled them into Ole Whole Wheat Tortillas instead of bread. I cleaned, dried, and stored the green leaf lettuce in a plastic bag to help dress the sandwich. The sauerkraut was my “side salad”.
I never did use the soup. I was traveling all week between my office and showroom, so it was very convenient having these sandwich fixings in my lunch bag with the frozen disc to keep everything fresh and cold.
https://olemex.com/products/whole-wheat-wrap/

It has been a busy weekend. Lots of pool time, and quality time with a good friend, so I didn’t have much time for prep today. Again, keeping it simple. Here is what I did –

Lentil and white bean salad. I took canned lentils and white beans and mixed them with Trader Joe’s Mirepoix Mix, which is pre cut carrots, onions, and celery. I have that over Trader Joe’s Power Greens and dres it with my simple WW red wine vinaigrette (1/3 c. each good olive oil, red wine vinegar, & water; 1/2 tsp each s & p; I added a little dried oregano and a cube of frozen minced garlic)
To go with my lentil salad I made chicken breast seasoned with a variety of middle Eastern spices. I’ll have a little hummus on the side.
For breakfast I will repeat the beet and yogurt idea I found on http://www.eatingwell.com.
http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/270975/sweet-beet-raspberry-yogurt/

And that is IT for today! Thank you for letting me share my journey with you. Feel free to send me your comments, critiques, and meal prep ideas.

Have a great week, and take care of YOU!

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Life Changes – Again

And Back to Work I Go!

Today’s blog is going to be very brief. I started back to work last week, and it is a whirlwind. Next week I am off to our trade show, so I have barely any time to spare with getting ready for it both personally, and professionally.

Now that things are so hectic, I want to show you how I made it through last week food wise, and what my plans are for this week. Actually, my meal plan will be the same. The goal is to remain satisfied, and of course, on track.

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

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

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

Lunch will be “take out” at the trade show, and dinner will be in restaurants. I will make the best, most mindful choices possible. I may treat myself a little, but I have made a decision that I will not order any desserts this trip.

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

Feel free to send your tips on how you manage in trying times. I know I can learn from you too. And as always, your comments, critiques, and questions are always welcome.

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

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

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What Level are You At?

Hunger – Fullness Scale

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.

Spinach Vegetable Kugel. Mine is the one on the top of the photo. The one below is from Kidneybuzz.com. Doesn’t even look like the same recipe, but it is.

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.

Mexican Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Ingredients


Final Product – shredded chicken and a bonus – a seasoned tomato broth to be used in a recipe to be named later


My Salad Mix Ins

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.

Green Fritatta Ingredients
My Green Egg White Fritatta, the finished product

That’s all for now! Please join the conversation. Your comments, critiques, and questions are welcome.

Make it a great week!