Coping with Quarantine

Recipe Schmecipe Recap – A Review of A Few of My Best, EASY Meal Preps

Not gonna lie. Although grateful for my overall good health, and the love and companionship of my husband, who’s health I am also grateful for, other than losing my parents, this is the hardest thing I have ever been through. I have lost my way the last few weeks, and in the meantime, tore a muscle in my back while stretching, which has temporarily taken away my ability to get outdoors to walk or to do anything else that resembles being productive. I am healing, taking it a day at a time. Locked up. Chin up. Putting on my big girl pants and moving forward.

Since we all are cooking most of our own meals these days, I thought I would offer you a recap of a few of my favorite past meal preps and tips in the hopes of inspiring you to make something new and fun. If you are new to the blog, my meal prep philosophy has always been budget conscious, pantry based, WW friendly, delicious, and EASY. This will also allow for you to peruse past blogs at the same time, in the hopes that you will find renewed inspiration, and get a few handy tips along the way. Let’s Go!

Pantry tips: https://babyboomermermaid.com/2019/02/10/your-pantry-is-it-safe-is-it-ready-for-any-emergency/

Cabbage Roll Soup (fan favorite): https://babyboomermermaid.com/2019/02/18/balancing-act-self-care-vs-obligations/

Slow Cooker Chicken Schwarma (personal favorite): https://babyboomermermaid.com/2019/04/14/recipe-schmecipe/

Creamy Broccoli Salad (fan favorite): https://babyboomermermaid.com/2019/06/16/celebrating-the-fruits-of-summer/

Favorite Low Point Gazpacho: https://babyboomermermaid.com/2019/06/23/tomato-tomahto/

Snacks: https://babyboomermermaid.com/2019/07/28/routine-vs-yolo/

Scenes from Home, the last couple of weeks

Thank you for stopping by. Feel free to send me your comments, critiques, and questions.

Stay safe, and healthy, 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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Thanksgiving Appetizers Transformed

What I Did with My Left Over Crudites

Thanksgiving Appetizer Crudites Platter

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!

Mirepoix Soup with Tomatoes, Garlic, and Baby Kale
Easy Roasted Veggie Prep

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!

Easy Pickled Peppers
Veggie Snack Bags

Thank you for stopping by! As always, your comments, critiques, and questions are welcome.

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Enjoy the holiday season!

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!

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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Image result for heart emoji

Douse the Flames of your Aches and Pains

Like many of you, I have a good amount of inflammation in my body. I have been dealing with these various aches and pains caused by inflammation and natural deterioration for years. One of the best remedies for me was my 50 lb weight loss. For the last several years I have been eating cleaner, staying hydrated, and working on getting enough sleep, all of which are crucial to reducing inflammation in our bodies.

The other crucial component for curbing pain from inflammation is diet. In a nutshell, the foods to stay away from are sugar, processed fast foods, trans fats, refined carbs, and processed meats. It’s difficult with the fast pace of our lives today to completely stay away from these foods, but we certainly can keep this list in the backs of our minds, and eat them more moderately, or find viable healthier substitutes for them. That has been my goal. Following is a link to a comprehensive list of foods that are anti-inflammatory: https://www.eatthis.com/anti-inflammatory-foods/

In addition, here is the link to my Anti-Inflammatory Diet Pinterest board for you to peruse: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/anti-inflammatory-diet/

I take other preventative measures regarding my discomfort caused by inflammation and deterioration. I use arnica gel on my lower back every morning. It is a homeopathic product that is applied to the skin for pain and swelling. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-721/arnica. At night I apply magnesium oil to the same area, which relaxes my muscles. https://www.healthline.com/health/magnesium-oil-benefits.

Every morning I do a combination of the stretches That were prescribed to me by my physical therapist a couple of years ago and yoga stretches that are good for the lower back (see that link in last week’s blog, “Full Throttle – Meal Prep”.) I also use a product called Inflamma-Less, which helps me a lot: https://irwinnaturals.com/products/inflamma-less. Many people swear by Turmeric supplements as well, but they aggravate my stomach, so they don’t work for me.

Meal prep this week consists of Asian flavors. Everything is low cal, low fat, veggie forward, and includes a good amount of protein. I made a fun salad with dark leafy greens and broccoli slaw topped with a mixture of fresh radishes, sugar snap peas, edamame, and shrimp. I’ll dress that with Trader Joe’s Spicy Peanut Salad Dressing.

This week’s lunch salad, Asian style

I also prepared Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Fried Rice mixture, and their Chicken Cilantro Mini Won Tons to go with my salad. I followed the directions on both, but I added Trader Joe’s Coconut Aminos to the cauliflower fried rice at the end for a little soy/ umami flavor. It came out delicious.

Also for lunch – Cauliflower fried rice with chicken cilantro mini won tons
The dark color on the cauliflower fried rice is from the coconut aminos I added to it.

Breakfast will be cottage cheese and blueberries with ground flax seeds and chia seeds mixed in. My mid morning snack will be a hard boiled egg and a small banana. My mid afternoon snack will be light string cheese and an apple. I also want to mention that I carry snacks with me in my handbag, just in case. I have been carrying a WW Turkey Stick (1 point/ 60 cal), a WW Sweet & Salty Nut Bar (2 points/ 80 calories) and a small bag of Emerald Almonds and Walnuts (3 points/ 100 calories). These have come in very handy. Sometimes you just don’t know how your day is going to end up.

Handy Healthy low cal/ point Snacks to keep in the car or in your bag

Thank you for joining the conversation! I appreciate your comments, critiques, and questions.

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Make it a great week! Take care of YOU!

Full Throttle – Meal Prep

It is very exciting for me to be back to work full time, and back to #mealprepsunday. Here is what I have going this week.

Gotta have my hot tea first thing in the morning
Early Breakfast at home: veggie egg white muffins with a side of turkey bacon

My day starts early. I am usually on the computer at home by 6 – 6:30, since many of my customers are on the east coast. Besides my hot mock chai latte, I like starting my day with veggie or fruit with protein. Last week with was nectarine crumble over plain non fat Greek yogurt. This week I went savory with veggie egg white muffins and turkey bacon. I drained and patted dry frozen spinach and roasted red peppers from the jar, and tossed them with pre-diced red onions, salt & pepper. I spooned that mixture into the muffin tin (2 for each day for a total of 10 muffins), and poured in the egg whites from the carton. Could not be easier. They baked in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. I let them cool to the touch, then carefully lifted them out of the pan with a butter knife and small rubber spatula.

Since I’m eating breakfast so early, I find myself getting hungry by 10 am. Last week I brought a hard boiled egg seasoned with “Everything but the Bagel” and fresh ground pepper, and a small banana. This week, I prepared small containers of cultured cottage cheese mixed with flaxseed meal and chia seeds. Because it’s a snack, not a meal, I just used 1/3 C cottage cheese to 1 tablespoon each of flax and chia seeds. Not gonna lie, the finished product is not pretty, so I didn’t photograph it. I did taste it though, and I like the nutty flavor that came out of it. Plus I get that punch of protein and the nutrients of the seeds. I am pairing that with a small organic banana.

Mid morning snack: Good Culture low fat cottage cheese with flax & chia seeds mixed in paired with a small organic banana
https://www.goodculture.com/#our-story-1

It’s still super hot outside, and oh so humid. I am so spoiled having grown up in So Cal where the weather is usually mild and dry. So it’s salad again. This week I’m going with Mexican flavors. I have a 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast in the slow cooker with salsa, and seasoned with fresh ground black pepper, cumin, and dry oregano. That will be shredded, and paired with a salad of mixed baby greens, baby spinach, and broccoli slaw and pinto beans. The dressing is my own concoction of Bolt House Farms Ranch (my favorite) mixed with the same salsa the chicken is cooking in.

Mexican Chicken Salad for Lunch: shredded slow cooked chicken breast , mixed greens including broccoli slaw, and pinto beans dressed with salsa ranch. Notice in the background of the photo is my box of WW corn chips. Those will be the perfect accompaniment to this salad.
https://www.salsas.com/herdez/
https://www.bolthouse.com

I also have an afternoon snack planned, so I’m ready for my late afternoon water jog at the pool.

Simple afternoon snack: Protein and fruit. In this case light string cheese
and an organic Gala apple

I want to tell you about last night’s dinner. We always splurge just a little on Saturday nights, since I weigh in on Saturday mornings. We happen to love carnitas, and it had been a while since we had indulged. I had this interesting recipe on my “What’s for Dinner” Pinterest board: https://www.recipetineats.com/pork-carnitas-mexican-slow-cooker-pulled-pork/. I want to mention that I only started with about 2.5 lbs of pork shoulder, so I eyeballed the seasonings instead of measuring according to the recipe, including the fresh orange juice. I used just 1 orange instead of 2. It turned out perfectly.

Carnitas tacos with traditional toppings of fresh onions, cilantro, avocado, and salsa

I came across an article this week that I want to share with you. As you know, my workouts of choice are lap swimming and water jogging. I know that many of you have hesitations about the pool such as getting into a swimsuit in public, protecting your hair (these were big issues for me when I started), fear of putting your head in the water, making the time for swimming, to name a few. First I want to address the swimsuit issue – no one cares. No one will look at you at the neighborhood municipal pool or the pool at the gym. You are all there for the same reason. Frankly, the swimming community is very supportive and welcoming. As far as protecting your hair goes, there are good conditioners on the market you can apply before putting on your swim cap. By the way, if your hair has color on it, I recommend wetting it down with regular water before applying the conditioner for an extra layer of protection. Here is the conditioner that I use (from Amazon):

https://www.amazon.com/AquaGuard-Pre-Swim-Hair-Defense-Bottle/dp/B01BMYYHAG/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?hvadid=3527178819&hvbmt=bp&hvdev=c&hvqmt=p&keywords=aqua+guard&qid=1567985364&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyVkhXU1ZDMVFXQlBIJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwODM2NzIyMVMyTTRXWUxMT0RVMiZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNTU1MzczNVRRMDdJQ1RPUUVRJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

And here is the article. I hope it inspires you:

https://www.livestrong.com/article/13719762-swimming-for-exercise/

Being the amateur blogger that I am, I read a lot of blogs speaking to healthy lifestyle, weight loss, weight maintenance, and fitness. This one came into my inbox today. I have degeneration in my lower back, and actually do many of these stretches every morning, so wanted to share. I hope this inspires you as well:

https://mailchi.mp/skinnyms/tired-of-living-with-back-pain-try-these-helpful-yoga-moves?e=262b867f92

Thank you for stopping by. Have a great week, my friends.

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