What a whirlwind of a year it’s been. Frankly, overall, it was not a good year for me, but I have come away feeling stronger for it, and very grateful. Most of all, I am grateful for my good health, and the good health of my husband, family, and friends. We are all so blessed. One thing I know for sure is that no matter how much money you have, good health is everything. Without it we have nothing.
My intention for this year with regard to my health, wellness, and fitness is to continue on my path of becoming physically stronger. This past month I met with a trainer at my local 24 Hour Fitness, where I have a free membership thanks to Medicare and Silver Sneakers. If you are not aware of the benefits you are entitled to, check it out here: https://tools.silversneakers.com/. The meeting with the trainer is a free perk for joining the gym, whether you are with Silver Sneakers or not. Ask about it at your gym. The trainer showed me some new stretches and strength building machines that are right for me. I am excited to expand my fitness repertoire with at least 1 day a week in the gym. Of course I will continue to lap swim, which is my passion, and water jog, which has turned out to be the best thing to manage my lower back pain. I also intend to stay on track with my weight maintenance, and that means mindful meal planning and prepping.
Over the past few weeks, I have been off of my routine with holiday work hours, and general holiday shenanigans, so meal prep has been off the table, as it still is this coming week. But meal planning is not. It’s all in the grocery shopping. I’ve made sure that I have the following on hand:
Progresso Light Soups (140 – 180 calories for the whole can)
Ole Whole Wheat Tortillas (50 calories each)
Fresh veggies and fruits
Unsweetened almond milk
Non fat plain Greek yogurt, as well as low fat cultured cottage cheese
Trader Joe’s Spinach Kale Yogurt Dip
Also, lean proteins for meals and snacks like eggs, turkey breast, smoked salmon, light string cheese, and hummus.
My wish for you all is for a HAPPY, HEALTHY, SWEET, AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!
And remember – Focus on results, and you’ll never see change. Focus on change, and you will see results.
Thank you for joining the conversation. Your thoughts, critiques, and meal prep ideas are always welcome. I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanksgiving is always celebrated in the home of Cousin’s Ilene and Elliot. They make the most amazing smoked turkey, and never disappoint with their healthy and thoughtful side dishes and desserts, some of which are long standing family traditions. This year Ilene asked me to make the appetizer. I used our Grandma Kate’s antique platter to put together a fun, colorful, and healthy start to the meal. It was all really so simple. I used whole bell peppers as dip bowls. In the red pepper is hummus. In the yellow pepper is Trader Joe’s Spinach & Kale Yogurt Dip, and in the orange pepper is onion dip mixed with fat free plain Greek yogurt. On the side I had Trader Joe’s 3 Seed Beet Crackers and their Bite Size Everything Crackers. Make note: The spinach kale dip on the beet crackers is a GREAT bite.
There were only 9 guests, and although they loved the tray, and made a dent, I had a ton of vegetables left over. This is how I solved that today – most of the celery and carrots got diced and went into a vegetable soup with a diced yellow onion, a can of diced tomatoes with fire roasted peppers, and a 5 oz bag of baby kale. I seasoned the soup simply with salt, pepper, and a couple of cubes of frozen minced garlic. The broth is Trader Joe’s low sodium chicken stock. You can make this a vegan soup by using vegetable stock instead. The broccoli and cauliflower had already been blanched for the appetizer tray (I don’t like raw cruciferous vegetables). I preheated my oven to 400 degrees. I tossed the veggies with a little olive oil and Montreal Steak Seasoning. I roasted them for 20 minutes, tossed them, then roasted them for another 10 minutes. Both the soup and these roasted veggies will be part of my desk lunches this week. I also pan roasted chicken breast for my lunch prep. I made them very simply, as well. I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder. I preheated my oven to 450 degrees, and roasted it for 20 minutes. I took the temp with my quick read thermometer to make sure it was 165 degrees, then removed it from the oven to rest. Desk lunches prepped!
The mini bell peppers were a little more challenging. I ended up pickling them! I had never done that before, but always wanted to. Here is the simple recipe I found online: https://www.simplywhisked.com/quick-pickled-sweet-peppers/. This will preserve them and we can use as need as sandwich accompaniments. I also had left over carrot sticks even with using most of them in the soup, and jicama, so I made veggie snack bags out of those. As for the tomatoes and cucumbers, they went into our salads this weekend. The olives will keep, and the grapes have been snacked on already. And that’s that! All veggies transformed to reuse, and no waste!
Thank you for stopping by! As always, your comments, critiques, and questions are welcome.
If you are lucky like me you have life long loving, supportive friends in addition to a loving, supportive family. Throughout the last 10 years or so, since I began swimming, then becoming a member of Weight Watchers, I have become a part of 2 separate tribes. There is my swim tribe, and my WW tribe. These are friendships that have been developed over time, with people I might not have otherwise met, if not for stepping out and starting to swim or joining WW. These friendships started out based on the things we have most in common, but now we are like little pseudo families. Both are incredibly dear to me, and been there for me through thick and thin. Don’t be afraid in life to open yourself up to new experiences. Wonderful things can happen. You will get to know yourself better, become stronger inside and out, and you will meet wonderful people that you will cherish, possibly for the rest of your life, who are your tribe.
Today I made my favorite Turkey Chili and Spaghetti Squash. Who doesn’t love chili over spaghetti? I am using spaghetti squash as a swap out for pasta, and my meal will be just as tasty and decadent, as if I were eating real spaghetti. Believe it. It will be low in calories (and WW points). I’ll be able to eat a full bowl of it, and not feel stuffed. Let’s start with the spaghetti squash.
My turkey chili recipe is over 10 years old. I found it in a Cooking Light magazine, pre interweb. I read several turkey chili recipes on line this morning in preparation for today, but none of them sounded as good as I know this one is. And here it is (with my notes):
Monterey Turkey Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I used red because I like it better)
1 large onion, chopped, 3 celery ribs, chopped, and 2 large carrots peeled, and chopped small (I used Trader Joe’s MirePoix mix instead)
2 lbs ground turkey ( I bought 93% lean; 7% fat; but you can use the type with 1% fat if you like. Trader Joe’s only had 20 oz packages of turkey today. That wasn’t quite enough, but I didn’t want 40 ounces either, so I bought an 8 oz package of turkey bacon to add volume, and the added bonus of that smoky flavor).
2 cloves of garlic (I used 2 cubes of Dorot frozen minced garlic)
2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon each of dried oregano, and cumin, then a pinch of cayenne pepper, which is optional (I used it).
8 oz can of chopped green chilies
15.5 oz can of white beans, drained, and rinsed
28 oz can of diced tomatoes
The original recipe calls for salt & pepper to taste, but I don’t add any. I like the flavors as is. They also have chopped cilantro as optional, but I opted out of it today.
Heat the oil in a dutch oven or stock pot until hot over high heat. Add the bell pepper, and mirepoix mix, and lower the heat. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 15 minutes (I added the turkey bacon during this first step so that it would caramelize a little and also season the vegetables).
Add the turkey and garlic, brown for about 10-15 minutes. For a chunkier chili, do not break it up with the spoon too much. Drain off the excess fat (no I didn’t).
Add the chili powder oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper (optional), and saute for another minute.
Add the green chilies, beans, and tomatoes (including the juice).
Stir in the cilantro if desired. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.
The original recipe also calls for optional fixings: grated cheddar cheese, chopped red onion, and sour cream. I will top mine with chopped scallions and a little light sour cream (plain non fat Greek yogurt will work perfectly as well).
October is Breast Cancer awareness month. If you haven’t done so already, please schedule your yearly mammogram. Ask your doctor or radiologist about digital mammograms. They may cost a smidgen more, but they are more accurate. Mammograms save lives.
Thank you for stopping by today. Your comments, questions, and critiques are always welcome, as are your chili recipes!
This subject may sound familiar. I wrote about this several weeks back, in the blog titled “What Level are You At?” I’m bringing this back up, because I, myself, have been struggling with this during this time of working at home, and it seems to come up a lot on the various WW groups on Facebook. I find it a worthy subject to bring up again. Also because my WW coach, the great Amy B. brought this invaluable chart out again. For me, this is the key to remembering to eat mindfully.
Many of us were brought up to clean our plates, not to waste food. But when we over eat, we feel sick, and then we also beat ourselves up for it. The challenge is to realize what that sweet spot is for us which is satisfied, satiated. Some things we can do to help with this are to eat more slowly, to eat without distraction, and to really notice how we are feeling as we eat through a plate of food, healthy or otherwise. The new WW Freestyle program is based on 0 point foods, which is wonderful, but we have to remember that all food has calories. Portion control is key, even while eating those 0 point foods.
On the other side of the spectrum is not to allow ourselves to starve either. If we allow ourselves to get that hungry, we tend to lose complete control over our food choices and portion control. We all need to work on finding that balance.
I hope you save this chart that I posted in your phones, or print it and put it up on your refrigerator. Somewhere that will remind you to stay within that comfort zone. Being self aware, and learning about our bodies will help with our weight loss and maintenance journeys, I guarantee you.
Today’s meal prep focuses on the nightshade varieties of fruits and vegetables. I kind of started this last week with the tomato blog, but took it a step further today. Nightshades have gotten a little bit of a bad wrap. There is a myth out there that nightshades can cause inflammation, but there is no scientific evidence to support that claim. For the most part they are nutritious, healthy foods. Some people are sensitive to them, as they contain a chemical called solanine, which can aggravate arthritis pain and inflammation. If you feel any mouth tingling or itching when eating these foods, consult your doctor. For more information on nightshades and their health benefits and risks, please consult the following articles:
Here is a list of common nightshade vegetables and fruits, most of which are components in the roasted ratatouille dish I made today:
So I had a package of Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi in my freezer calling my name today. I also had left over tomato sauce from the can of Italian tomatoes I used in my gazpacho last week. And I love me some ratatouille. And I love a roasted eggplant. Today I combined all of this deliciousness into my lunch meal prep for this week.
I really kind of made this up as I went. I roasted a whole eggplant yesterday. It baked in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. After it cooled, I scraped out the meat and stored it in my refrigerator. Today I took a red onion, a red bell pepper, a zucchini, and a summer squash and roasted them together. After spraying them with canola oil, and seasoning them with salt & pepper, I roasted them in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring them a couple of times. I took some of that reserved tomato sauce that I had, put it on a low heat, then seasoned it with dried basil, thyme, and rosemary. I also added 3 cubes of Dorot frozen garlic to the sauce. I cooked the gnocchi according to the instructions on the package, then tossed them with the sauce. I then layered the veggies and sauced gnocchi s in my dish to store in the refrigerator. I cannot wait to eat this tomorrow. It smelled so good!
Yesterday, I was gifted a bag full of home grown lemons by my friend Marcy who came out to have lunch with me. Today I used them to make strawberry lemonade popsicles. I substituted the sugar in the recipe with Stevia. So fun. I had some of the mixture left over, so it’s in the freezer in a Pyrex pan becoming a granita of sorts.
I used what I had in the house, and kept it very healthy, and low in points and calories. I combined 1/4 cup of Old Fashioned Oats per serving with 1/2 cup of chia seeds, and 2 tablespoons each of Splenda Brown Sugar blend and Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. I layered in a couple of cups of chopped, pitted fresh cherries, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. When I serve myself, I’ll top this with about a teaspoon of toasted sliver almonds. I do still have cherries left over, but those will go great with my fat free plain Greek yogurt, or fat free cottage cheese snacks.
Note the tip for filling snacks here: combine a small portion of a healthy protein with a fruit or vegetable. String cheese and an apple is another good example of this. Circling back to The Comfort Zone, don’t allow yourself to get so hungry that you lose control. Healthful snacks during the day or after dinner are essential.
Thank you for visiting my friends. As always, I welcome your comments, questions, and critiques.
If you didn’t already know this, tomatoes are a fruit disguised as a vegetable. They are low calorie and low carb. They provide vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium.
There are so many varieties of tomatoes to choose from: beefsteak, cherry, roma, green, grape, to name a few, and of course the many varieties of heirloom tomatoes as well. For a complete list of tomato varieties, visit this link: https://www.naturefresh.ca/types-of-tomatoes-guide/
Tomatoes are so versatile. They are great raw in salads, sandwiches, and in cold soups, which is what I did with them today. They can be scrambled into eggs, chopped into a salsa, made into jam, oven roasted, sun dried, stuffed, and made into sauces and soups.
Today I made my favorite gazpacho recipe. I found this years ago when I first started with WW. I began my WW journey back in May 2012. In my first meeting/ orientation, my leader, the great Amy B. told me about the magic of soups and weight loss. I immediately began meal prepping for my workweek that weekend, with the classic WW vegetable soup, which I loved, and did start losing weight immediately with. I began to experiment with the vegetable soup concept, and developed flavor profiles for Italian, Mexican, and Asian varieties of that basic WW soup recipe. As summer approached, I began to investigated cold soups. Since I have always loved tomatoes, I gravitated towards classic gazpacho soups. I read many recipes, and tried several. I ran across this one in my Cooking Light Magazine, loved it, and have stuck to it since. Here is the link to that recipe:
This recipe is so easy, that there are no shortcuts needed. Note in the photo above, that this recipe is made in the blender. No cooking involved whatsoever. I have never made the lemon shrimp part of the recipe. I use this as a lunch meal prep, and enjoy adding cooked frozen shrimp to this, or whatever lean protein I have available at the moment. I follow the recipe as written, but I add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice for additional acidity.
I am continuing my love affair with stone fruit this week. I bought cherries, which I pitted (see link below) so they are ready to add to my yogurt bowl in the morning. And this week, I bought donut peaches (also known as Saturn peaches), and apricots, as well.