Hi! I did not plan to blog today, yet here I am! I hope post-pandemic life is treating you well, and that you are taking good care of yourselves!
Besides my full time job, I am focused on nurturing myself by nurturing my relationships with family and friends, while taking great care of myself at the same time. The result – I am super busy! All the while, I refuse to abandon my long time habit of meal planning and prepping. #mealprepsunday is my constant. It can be done easily with a little planning and organization. Friday evening I made my shopping list. Saturday morning I did my grocery shopping. This morning, Sunday morning, I put it all together. This plan has left my afternoons free for swim practice and for time with my husband and my friends.
My food this week is a salad switch off combo. Two plates of tuna salad, and two plates of garbanzo bean salad (like a vegan tuna salad). Here is the recipe inspiration for that: https://simple-veganista.com/chickpea-of-sea-salad-sandwic/ . Tying them all together is a marinated cucumber and radish salad mixed with my left over homemade pickled peppers and red onions, chopped parsley, and dill marinated simply with rice vinegar. The whole process took me a little over an hour. I will be taking my favorite Ak Mak sesame crackers along for a little crunch https://akmakbakeries.com/products/ak-mak-cracker/. I get them at Trader Joe’s, but may grocery stores carry them. Or of course, use your cracker or chips of choice!
Enjoy your summer, my friends! Don’t forget to make time for yourselves!
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)
Goat and sheep milk and cheese
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Disclaimer – I am not a vegetarian, nor to I aspire to be. What I do aspire to is better overall health, less inflammation in my body, and a lower number on the scale. For that reason, I have been choosing to eat vegetarian meals for breakfast and lunch. I have been doing this mostly on weekdays, but I have been trying to do so on the weekends as well. I started with “clean eating” back in the last half of 2020, I’d say. I stopped eating most processed foods (let’s not forget that all cheese is processed, and I have not given that up), and because of that, slowly my diet has become more plant based. I have become more diligent about this since the beginning of the year ( 2 full weeks now), and already I feel better overall. My energy is better, I am less achy (that’s the inflammation going down), and my clothes are fitting more loosely. This is a winning lifestyle for me.
This week I prepped a play on the soup and sandwich combo. I made on a breakfast burrito (for lunch), but made it with tofu instead of eggs. It’s amazing, once you season and heat the mashed tofu, and mix it with a little turmeric, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast, it does looks just like eggs, and tastes like them too. I picked this dish because I had tofu in the house that I needed to use up, I like a burrito, and it just sounded like fun to me. You kind of can’t miss if you like sweet potatoes, zucchini, and red bell pepper. Here is the recipe: https://skinnyms.com/meal-prep-friendly-vegan-breakfast-burritos/. I will garnish these with a little salsa, and maybe a little avocado when I have them for lunch this week. The sweet potato is 3 points spread between 4 servings, and the Ole Whole Wheat Tortillas are 1 point on WW Blue Plan.
The soup I made today was born out of veggies I had hanging around in the fridge that needed to be used. I had almost a whole package of celery, so I looked up celery soups, and found this simple recipe: https://www.feastingathome.com/celery-soup/. I also used up my onions, most of my garlic, a few baby carrots I had in there, and the shredded zucchini I had left over from my burrito prep I had done earlier. The only new ingredient I bought for this was 1 Yukon gold potato (which is 2 points on WW Blue Plan). I kept the seasonings simple too, just S & P, and about a tablespoon of dried dill weed. I followed technique of the recipe, and used my immersion blender at the end to smooth it out. I decided against using the blender as shown in my photo.
In addition to my plant based meal plan, I have also kept up my exercise plan for the year so far. It’s a great NSV for me. As active as I am in general, it has been easy for me to make excuses for myself and skip days in the past. So far this year, I have either gone swimming or walking every single day. Even if I get home late from work, I walk for at least 15 minutes. My swims during the week are by reservation, so I just make sure I leave the office on time to make it there. If I have to go in early the next day to make up time, that’s an easy trade off for me.
I hope I have inspired you to try something new today, and to think more about what you are putting into your body, besides just low point foods. Eating clean is actually less expensive than buying processed convenience foods, even if they are low points. Clean foods are naturally low in points, calories, fat, and salt. And clean foods don’t have to be all plant based either. Lean animal proteins and fish are also delicious, clean eats, and don’t have to be expensive.
Thank you for stopping by today. Your comments, questions, and critiques are always welcome.
“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.
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.
It’s the holidays! And yet we are all still going through very stressful times. The uncertainty of life with Covid-19 continues. It’s unfortunate that we won’t be able to enjoy the holidays with our friends and families in person this year, but virtual family gatherings are a great way to connect with your loved ones this season while keeping yourself safe and healthy.
It is more important than ever to stick to our regular self care routines as closely as possible. Keep your body, your mind, and spirit active. Continue your exercise regimens. Read. Explore new cuisines, foods and recipes. Stream – enjoy all that Netflix and the like have to offer. Learn to paint with watercolors, or take on a 100+ piece jigsaw puzzle. One of my girlfriends continues to play Trivia virtually weekly. Remember, prioritizing your health and well being is not an extravagance, it is part of being human.
My meal prep this week is a super simple vegetarian spinach miso soup. Miso is a fermented food, which good for our gut health. It is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
Additional add ins were edamame and tofu for protein, Trader Joe’s Thai Vegetable Goyza (because I had about a half of a package of it in my freezer), shirataki noodles, and sliced scallions. I also kept about half of my sliced up scallions fresh to add right before eating. The goyza is 9 points/ 160 calories for a serving of 5 dumplings. I won’t have more than 1 or 2 per serving. Everything else in this work week lunch is 0 points :).
As we get into winter, the produce in the markets are changing. Don’t forget to explore new fruits and vegetables throughout the year. This month alone enjoy parsnips, persimmons, all of the wonderful varieties of winter squash, turnips, and yams, to name a few.
Wishing you all a holiday season filled with love, joy, health, and happiness!
It’s the time of year to count our blessings. There is no need for me to go on about all of the trauma and tragedy of this year, and I am not even going to get started on the political aspect of it all. None of us need to be reminded. What I do feel that we need to remind ourselves of are the things we do have, and the things we have gained appreciation for through this whole experience. Here is my short list:
I wake up every morning, and I can breathe, I can see, I can smell, I can taste, I can hear, I can move; my overall good health.
My husband, and my home, which includes my darling, loving cats.
My family and my family of friends. I love you.
My job, and the fact that I was able to come back from not earning, and being in debt, to now earning a good living, and am working my way out of debt.
The pride I have come to have in myself. I have said this more than once this year: I am a late bloomer who has bloomed. I have truly come into my own. I have finally learned how to love myself, and appreciate all that I have and all that I give in this world. And for this gift I have given myself, I am eternally grateful. What is on your list?
Of course Thanksgiving itself looks much different this year. For us, instead of going to my cousin’s home, we are staying put, just the 2 of us, as it is every other night of the year. We went through a list of some of the fun things we can make instead of turkey, which spanned from prime rib to linguini with clams. We ended up deciding on Cornish Game Hens, which we will do in the air fryer. Our side dishes will be mashed potatoes, and green beans with bacon. Slightly traditional and a slight splurge at the same time. I found a perfect WW inspired desert idea, which I will be making, a crustless pumpkin pie.
With a short workweek ahead, I am not cooking either. I did my weekly Trader Joe’s trip this morning and picked up a few things to have in the house, and to take to work for lunch this week.
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:
Don’t skip meals before your big feast.
Alternate your alcoholic beverages with glasses of water, or mix water or club soda into your cocktail or glass of wine.
Use a smaller plate to control portions.
Make your splurges “worth it”.
Veggies first! Load your plate up with vegetables.
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.
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.
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.
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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