A Multi-Cultural Meal Prep

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.

Yummy – Chicken Tagine with kicked up lentil risotto

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.

Mushroom Dashi veggie noodle soup

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.

Charentais melon from the Dominican Republic

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.

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Finding my Inner Vegetarian

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.

Vegan Breakfast Burrito – For Lunch!

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.

I think I should call this “kitchen sink” celery soup because the ingredients consist of things had in the house, and needed to use up.

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 want to quickly share last week’s meal prep with you. It was also a soup and sandwich combo. This was a garbanzo bean salad done tuna salad style on a light English muffin, and a pureed roasted cauliflower and artichoke soup, inspired by my fabulous SIL, Cynthia. Here are the recipes: https://goop.com/recipes/chickpea-tuna-salad/, and https://food52.com/recipes/26788-roasted-cauliflower-artichoke-soup. Both were delicious, and this was a very filling meal.

Garbanzo Bean Salad Sandwich with Roasted Cauliflower and Artichoke Soup

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.

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Resetting for 2021

“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.

Curry Lentil Soup with Spinach

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.

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Managing the Holidays – 2020 Edition

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. 

I started with Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger Broth. To that I added 2 cubes each of frozen minced garlic and ginger, a 6 oz bag of baby spinach, carrots cut up like matchsticks, and a heaping tablespoon of white miso paste. For cooking tips for this meal prep I consulted Martha Stewart: https://www.marthastewart.com/1159033/miso-soup-tofu-spinach-and-carrots.

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 :).

Spinach and Tofu Miso Soup

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.

This week’s fruits are mega kiwis, new at Trader Joe’s, and Satsuma mandarins. I look forward to them every year.

Wishing you all a holiday season filled with love, joy, health, and happiness!

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My Gratitude List 2020

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:

  1. 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.
  2. My husband, and my home, which includes my darling, loving cats.
  3. My family and my family of friends. I love you.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

I plan to substitute the Splenda with brown sugar Splenda. Just a personal preference. Regarding the pumpkin pie spice – that is very hard to find right now. Here is a quick homemade version: https://www.livewellbakeoften.com/homemade-pumpkin-pie-spice/

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 Trader Joe’s pre-made soups are always good, and both of these are 3 points for a 1 cup serving. A couple of good proteins to have with them are smoked salmon, and veggie burgers. The thing I like about the Dr. Praeger’s is that they are not a highly processed plant based meat. They are a clean combination of ;vegetables and grains formed into a convenient , tasty burger. I like them on a light English muffin with mustard and sauerkraut.

Last week I was super busy, therefore no blog, but I did make sure to throw together one of my favorite 1 pot recipes from a couple of months ago: https://www.thekitchn.com/one-pot-spinach-artichoke-chicken-pasta-recipe-23073220.

This time I used low sodium chicken broth instead of water. It came out creamier, and I think, tastier. I used Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Sausage again as the protein. I love this recipe. Easy, and delicious.

Well, I am off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday. Next up for today – a swim with my crew. I hope you prioritize things that make you happy too.

WISHING YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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And BOOM! It’s the HOLIDAYS!

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:

  1. Don’t skip meals before your big feast.
  2. Alternate your alcoholic beverages with glasses of water, or mix water or club soda into your cocktail or glass of wine.
  3. Use a smaller plate to control portions.
  4. Make your splurges “worth it”.
  5. Veggies first! Load your plate up with vegetables.
  6. Eat slowly.
  7. 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.

Bean & Cheese Burritos Baby Boomer Mermaid Style
Fresh & Easy Side Salad

Last week I made a really delicious slow cooker recipe from WW.com: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/recipe/chicken-mushroom-and-brown-rice-slow-cooker-casserole. I reduced the calories, and points by swapping the brown rice for Trader Joe’s Risoni lentil rice. The flavors were savory, and very satisfying, but the recipe made a lot of food. I recommend this for an easy family dinner.

Slow Cooker Savory Chicken Thighs with Vegetables and Lentil Rice
A little inspiration

Thank you for stopping by. Stop and savor the beauty of the season, and take time with your friends and family, even if it can’t be done in person. And, please practice self compassion daily.

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Making Meal Prep a Habit

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.

Chicken Enchilada Stir Fry

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.

Tuna salad on Trader Joe’s jicama tortillas and Chopped Veggie Salad on Power Greens dressed with TJ’s fresh Green Goddess dressing.
A little more inspiration for you

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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Take Care of Your Heart

Watch the salt, my friends.

I don’t like “preachy” people, therefore I try not to be “preachy”. But friends, please take a look at your sodium intake. This subject was inspired by my October 2020 issue of Nutrition Action, a health periodical I have been receiving for years. It’s the best $20.00 a year I spend: https://cspinet.org/nutrition-action-healthletter. The article is “Salt Wars”, and is an interview with the author of the new book out by the same title https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/salt-wars. It explains how salt raises blood pressure, which caused hypertension. This increases our risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and more. The foods that are the biggest culprits are processed meats like bacon and cold cuts, frozen meals, prepared soups, and breads. But the foods that are highest in salt are restaurant meals. The bottom line is to be mindful of your salt intake. Try to stay away from processed foods, but if you do choose to use them, read the labels and compare products. Many chain restaurants post their numbers online. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to choose clean and healthy foods such as fresh produce, beans, low fat dairy, fish, and poultry rather than processed foods. Making these changes will not only lower your blood pressure, but will increase your potassium levels. Potassium is known to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. Replacing sodium with potassium is the way to go. End of lecture.

/This week I made my own granola! Low fat, low calorie, low sugar, low point granola is one of the hardest things to find in the grocery store. I have scanned many a bag of granola at all different markets, and end up putting them all back on the shelf. The only one I’ve found that I like can only be purchased online, and it’s getting more expensive each time. But it’s really good, and I recommend it to those of you who love a good granola, and don’t want to take the time to make your own. It’s Julian Bakery Pro Granola, Vanilla Cinnamon Cluster. It’s 97 calories for a 1/2 cup serving, which is 2 points: https://julianbakery.com/product/progranola-vanilla-cinnamon-cluster/.

I used this recipe I found online: https://cookieandkate.com/healthy-granola-recipe/. I followed it pretty closely. I made 2 changes. One was successful, the other was a big mistake. The good news is, it still came out delicious, and cost me pennies per serving on the dollar. I figure it is about 4 points for a 1/4 cup serving. Since I use it to top my yogurt bowl, I’ll be using about 2 tablespoons per serving. The author of the recipe encourages you to use whatever nuts and dried fruits you want in your granola. I chose raw walnut halves, raw sliced almonds, and (here is the flub) roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds, or pepitas. Since the granola is baked, the pepitas are essentially roasted a second time, and they came out bitter. Lesson learned. Buy the raw pepitas. I don’t eat dried fruit any more. That is one of the things I gave up completely when I started with WW. It’s really high in sugar. I had freeze dried raspberries in the house. I reconstituted about 1/4 cup of them and tossed them in to the granola mixture with 1/4 cup of coconut flakes as well. The recipe author gives a choice of sweetener for the granola, and I chose maple syrup over honey. Since we are talking about salt today, I should alert you that there is 1/2 teaspoon in the entire recipe. Note that a little salt in recipes brings out the flavors of the ingredients.

Homemade Granola Baby Boomer Mermaid style

My meal prep this week was salmon pinwheels from Trader Joe’s and a simple chopped salad with Persian cucumbers, radishes, a red bell pepper, shredded carrots, and green onions, which I will toss over fresh arugula. I’ll be dressing that with Trader Joe’s fresh Green Goddess salad dressing. I had been eying the salmon pinwheels there for weeks. They are a fresh salmon filet rolled into a beautiful pinwheel stuffed simply with spinach and feta cheese. These only give me 2 days worth of lunch preps, but I have Trader Joe’s frozen shrimp burgers in the house, as well as Dr. Praeger’s Garden Veggie Burgers, either of which will also go great with my fresh chopped salad.

Salmon pinwheels. I put a little avocado oil in the bottom of my baking dish, and just seasoned these with freshly ground black pepper. I baked them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. The internal temperature of salmon should be 135-140 degrees when done.
Fresh chopped salad prep for the week

The take away from this week’s blog is to be mindful of the prepared foods you choose. This week, I used a prepared fresh salmon product, as well as a bottled salad dressing. I made sure that the ingredients were clean and fresh, not overly processed. It’s great to use convenience foods. Just read the labels.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope I have inspired you to take better care of yourself. Make it a great week!

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Surprise Delivery Delivers Fresh Inspiration

My good friend, and WW Tribe Member, Stacey, has been receiving deliveries from Imperfect Foods https://www.imperfectfoods.com/ pretty much since quarantine began back in March. She went from almost never cooking, to cooking for herself every day, every meal. She receives this delivery twice a month along with meal preps from Blue Apron https://www.blueapron.com/, and twice monthly shopping trips to Trader Joe’s. She has lost 30 lbs in the last 6 months just by making this one change – cooking fresh, clean, homemade meals 3 times daily. When you are eating out for most meals, even if you think you are making good choices you don’t really know what the salt and sugar contents are in the foods that you are eating. We can all take a lesson from Stacey, and up our cooking and clean eating games. She has been a true inspiration to me, and to our other tribe members who have been stalled in their own weight loss journeys.

Because every week Stacey tells me of the treasures that arrived from Imperfect Foods (broccoli leaves, her new favorite – who knew?), I became intrigued. I am in a different situation. I love to cook, as does my husband, and we only go out once a weekend for lunch or brunch. Since quarantine started we have brought in food exactly twice, and those were planned “treat” meals. But I was intrigued, as I said, so I signed up for the service. I did not go through with placing my order this week though, or so I thought, and on Thursday I got a text that my box was on it’s way. I panicked a little, since this wasn’t planned, but ended up taking it in stride. Here is what I got:

My Imperfect Foods Delivery Detail. (By the way, I did not get just 1 of each of the produce varieties mentioned. I got 3 beautiful peaches, 3 perfect little red pears, and 2 roma tomatoes.)

I had put in a few preferences such as fruit and vegetables (unspecified), salmon, and ground turkey. Most things on the list shown above are things that I would normally eat. There are a couple of challenging items here though. Can you guess which ones? The Shishito peppers, and the dragon fruit. Never tasted either one.

The Shishito peppers became my inspiration for my lunch prep this week. I found an Asian Turkey and Rice Bowl recipe on line that featured pickled Shishito peppers as a garnish. Of course I had to spin both of these recipes to fit my Baby Boomer Mermaid eating and cooking style, and that is exactly what I did. First the original recipes: https://sweetphi.com/asian-ground-turkey-rice-bowls-recipe/#wprm-recipe-container-18205 and https://eatsimplefood.com/quick-pickled-shishito-peppers/.

In the turkey rice bowl I used Trader Joe’s Risoni lentil rice instead of white rice, and I added diced red bell pepper and green onions to the ground turkey meat. I omitted the sugar from the recipe, and cut the soy sauce in half, by using coconut aminos for half of the liquid. So I slashed the sugar and salt in my prep significantly. For the pickled peppers I found a quick pickle recipe that didn’t have sugar as one of the ingredients. Sugar is usually prevalent in pickling recipes. I also added the shredded carrots and more green onions to the pickled Shishito peppers. The more veggies the better!

The dragon fruit was my next challenge. Most recommendations online were for smoothies. But I don’t use smoothies. I was told early on in my WW journey that blended fruit does not promote weight loss. I honestly never fully looked into it, but here is a comprehensive article that explains: https://www.treehugger.com/why-is-whole-fruit-healthier-than-smoothie-4868770. I diced up the dragon fruit, which is a truly beautiful thing, and plan to use it in my breakfast yogurt bowls this week along with my blueberries. I gave it a taste, and found it quite bland. As pretty as it is, it was one of the most expensive items in the box, and I would not choose to get it again.

Breakfast yogurt bowl prep.

I did not publish anything the previous 2 weeks. The Jewish high holidays fell on the weekends, and although I did not spend them with my family or attend services as I normally do, I still took some time for myself to reflect on the past year, and the coming one… which will hopefully bring more peace, health, and happiness to all mankind. This past year certainly sucked. Bring on 5781!

I still did my meal planning and prep though. 2 weeks ago I bought sliced turkey meat, a multi grain bread, and 2 prepared soups from Trader Joe’s. I highly recommend the Spicy Pozole Verde. It’s a must try!

Easy soup and sandwich combo takes away the meal prep but not the planning.

Last week I put together a little quick stir fry that was inspired by a Martha Stewart chow mein recipe https://www.marthastewart.com/1512441/chow-mein. Again here, I slashed the salt and sugar and made a yummy Asian noodle dish. I used shirataki noodles, which have almost no calories, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirataki_noodles, omitted the sugar in the recipe, and used coconut aminos in place of half of the soy sauce. I also used chicken breast in place of the chicken thighs, and added snap peas. I was really happy with the result.

Chicken Chow Mein Baby Boomer Mermaid Style

I hope Stacey and I have inspired you today. I feel that she has been my partner in today’s blog. My goal here is to inspire you to be mindful, take good care of yourself, and eat healthy, and clean. I hope I achieved that today. Please feel free to send any comments or questions to me any time.

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Make it a great week!

Reality Check

Throughout the span of the pandemic, as a WW Lifetime member, I have gotten a free ride, so to speak. I have totally enjoyed our WW Zoom meetings, and especially our tribe’s tailgate meetings prior to those each Saturday morning. But I haven’t been kept accountable, other than by my own basic routine of meal planning and prepping (which I did not really do at the beginning of the shut down), and the Zoom conversations. I haven’t been on a scale since mid-March. Like most everybody, I have been a little more, shall we say, lenient with myself with regard to my eating? I didn’t even try to put on a pair of jeans for the first 3 months, and like everyone else, I was dabbling in baking….Actually still am, but now being more conscientious again about my ingredients.

This past week I received an e mail from WW that I will have to start weighing in again once a month at a studio starting November 1. I honestly don’t know if I am over my goal weight or not at this point. I know I am over my “personal” goal weight for sure. I also have lost all of the muscle tone I developed from being in the pool 5 times a week, pre-pandemic, aqua jogging and lap swimming. Most of my jeans fit, but not the same, and not all of them…. I definitely have work to do. My goal that first week of November is to be under goal for sure, and as close to my “personal” goal weight as possible. So now begins operation “Blueplan”, as I am dubbing it.

Last weekend was one of the hottest on record in Southern California. I was giving myself a little staycation, so did not publish a blog, but I did prep something for my work week lunches. It had to be quick, easy, and light. I started with Trader Joe’s frozen Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry. To that I added frozen veggies I had in the house – broccoli, spinach, and edamame. I also added a diced fresh red bell pepper, and diced tofu. I seasoned this with Coconut Aminos, Dorot frozen garlic and ginger cubes (2 of each), a little onion salt (because I forgot to buy the scallions I wanted to use, and did not have fresh onion in the house), and fresh ground black pepper. It turned out great.

Vegan Stir Fry

I had leftovers into the weekend, so I repurposed them into a vegetarian baked eggs casserole. I added fresh chopped red onion, a little roasted red pepper from the jar that I had in the refrigerator, and more frozen broccoli. I mixed a heaping tablespoon of non fat plain Greek yogurt into 6 beaten whole eggs, which I poured over the veggie mixture, and baked it at 350 for about 35 minutes in a square 9 X 9 Pyrex pan, sprayed with olive oil. I had a piece for breakfast yesterday, and will eat it for breakfast throughout the week. This too turned out really yummy.

Veggie Baked Eggs Casserole

With the eggs this week, I’ll be having a little butternut squash muffin that I baked today. They were supposed to be pumpkin muffins, but there was not 1 can of pureed pumpkin to be found in all of Santa Monica today. I kid you not. I wanted this so badly, I went to 5 different grocery stores. I was craving something pumpkin, but wanted it to be almost on the savory side and made from whole grains. I found this great recipe, which (other than the main ingredient) I followed exactly: https://cookieandkate.com/healthy-maple-pumpkin-muffins/. Note that the author gives you the choice of honey or maple syrup to sweeten these with. I used maple syrup.

Healthy Butternut Squash Muffins

For my lunch prep this week, I found this great 1 pot, 15 minute recipe, Spinach Artichoke Pasta: https://www.thekitchn.com/one-pot-spinach-artichoke-chicken-pasta-recipe-23073220. I made this with my favorite Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe’s. I substituted about 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast, used 10 oz of fresh baby spinach, and just over 1 cup of pasta, probably about 8.5 oz. I used the whole wheat fusilli I had in my pantry.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta Baby Boomer Mermaid Style

I feel like I am setting myself up for a successful week. I am on planning 4 pool workouts, and walks on the afternoons I am not in the pool, all after work. I let my husband know that I am getting back on track, so no surprise snacks are allowed. He threatened to buy potato chips anyway, so it will be up to me to stay strong. Which of course it always is, at the end of the day. And back to drinking all of my water everyday! It’s a lot, but I know I’ve got this.

Make it a great week! Take care of yourselves. Stay safe, and healthy.

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