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!
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
Focus on Goals and Celebrate Success
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.
Thank you for joining the conversation! I appreciate your comments, critiques, and questions.
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.
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.
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.
I also have an afternoon snack planned, so I’m ready for my late afternoon water jog at the pool.
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.
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):
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:
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.
Following is my food plan for my trip (which is 4 days in Las Vegas).
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.
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.
Finding a Balance between the Mundane and the Exciting
Each and every morning the first thing I do when I get out of bed are stretching exercises for my lower back. There are definitely mornings I don’t feel like it, but I do them anyway. The benefit outweighs the alternative, which for me is stiffness and ultimately pain. And I’ve made it a habit. I look at eating the same way. Not every meal or snack has to be sexy. Sometimes food is just fuel. Developing any new habit takes work, especially eating habits. Food is so connected to our emotions, our families, our cultures, but sometimes it is necessary to take a step back and examine what we are actually ingesting, and what the effects are on our bodies, our overall health.
Making small changes in our eating habits will improve our health, impact our relationships with our families and friends, and ultimately help us to learn to love and care for ourselves. Start with baby steps. Maybe just set a goal to drink more water today. Another small goal may be to plan and prepare a breakfast or lunch meal that will keep you away from that fast food restaurant you always go to. As we find ourselves successful with these new behaviors, we can slowly develop them into habits and expand on them from there.
I found this article that explains habit development better than I can. You can also check out “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg for a better understanding.
There is no meal prep today, as I am still working from home this week. What I am going to do for you is to provide a list of my favorite go-to snack items to help me stay successful on my maintenance journey. Mine might vary from yours, as it’s important for me and my success that my “trigger foods” are not on this list.
On the Go
These are just a few ideas for you. Take the time to walk the aisles of your grocery stores. Read the labels to help you make the best choices for yourself. If you are a WW member, use your scanner in the app as well.