A Gift to Myself

Cancelled my Routine for the Weekend

This is what the middle of my morning looked like. We all needed some down time.

I am a woman who thrives on routine. I have a routine every morning of the week, and my husband and I have the same routine every night. Every night. I am not complaining, as that routine does include him cooking for us every night. I do like and appreciate that. My daily routine during the week is important. It keeps me on track and focused on the task at hand, which is building a business from scratch with my boss, and staying on my weight and fitness journey. It’s all working. The business is starting to go, and I have lost about 6 lbs since we started putting me 6 lbs under my WW Lifetime goal weight. My weekly Sunday meal prep is key here, as are my workouts.

Normally I get up early on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. My WW workshop with my beloved tribe is at 7:30 am. On Sunday’s I am usually at the pool at 8 when it opens. Honestly, these are both fabulous ways to start my weekend days. At the end of this past week, I was feeling super tired, and decided to switch things up so I could get a little extra rest. Yesterday I slept in, went to get a vitamin B12 shot, which I do about once a month. I then went to the gym to swim laps, and came home to decompress for a couple of hours before my hair appointment. Today I slept in again. It felt so decadent. Went to breakfast with my husband, then on to the market for my weekly groceries, so I could do my meal prep for the week. I will go to the pool later this afternoon to water jog. Note that I am not skipping any workouts or steps that will take me off track in any way. I am just off my normal routine.

Here is a list of some of the benefits of Vitamin B-12, if you are interested:

For lunch this week, I had a pasta craving, but wanted to swap out the pasta. I also wanted to make a warm 1 pot meal. This week’s desk lunch is Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash. Here is the original recipe I used: https://therecipecritic.com/turkey-bolognese-spaghetti-squash/.

Recipe Ingredients. Veggie forward!
The cheese is a garnish. 1 point, or 20 calories for 1 oz
Finished products. I had a taste. Very Yummy 🙂

I really did follow the recipe for the bolognese. It is full of fresh vegetables and lean turkey meat. I didn’t measure out the veggies. I eyeballed them, and added more than the recipe called for. I also added a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for a hint of heat. This recipe called for roasted spaghetti squash, but I used the micowave method. It was just easier and less time consuming. Here is how you do it: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-spaghetti-squash-in-the-microwave-223928 . This was an easy dish to prepare, and took about a 90 minutes, all total. The last 45 minutes, the sauce is cooking.

Thank you for joining Baby Boomer Mermaid this week. Watch for more on my Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages throughout the week:

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Make it a great week! Remember your WHY, stay focused, and take care of yourselves, my friends.

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!

Speed Meal Prepping

It’s All In The Planning

My Sunday’s are lovely, but usually pretty much all the same. I lap swim at 8 when the pool opens, and of course stay to socialize a bit, then go home to shower and meet my husband at our favorite deli, where everyone knows us, for breakfast. I then do my grocery shopping, and come home to meal prep and write this blog. I love this routine, but sometimes things come up and interrupt the routine. An old friend was in town and it was important that I go meet her for coffee this morning.

I planned ahead. Yesterday, I made all of my meal prep decisions, and did a portion of my grocery shopping. Early this morning, I had a light breakfast of cottage cheese & blueberries so I wouldn’t starve, then ran to Trader Joe’s to finish my grocery shopping for the week. I then met my friend, had a great visit, then met my husband at that deli for brunch. About an hour and a half after arriving home, all of my meal prep is finished, and the blog is being written. I will make it to the pool late this afternoon, enjoy my time there, then come home to wind down the weekend, and get ready for the coming week.

This week is still going to be hot in So Cal, so for lunch I decided on my favorite gazpacho recipe, which I have published before here (0 pts). It’s so good, it bears repeating. Any vegetable based soup, hot or cold is a great way to power down lots of veggies at once, plus it is cleansing and hydrating. To go with the gazpacho, I went with one of the seasonal Trader Joe’s frozen specialties, Riced Cauliflower & Butternut Squash Risotto (70 cal/ 2 pts for a 1 cup serving) and a TJ’s favorite, their Sweet Italian Style Italian Sausages (110 cal/ 3 pts for 1 link). Both can be made using the handy microwave.

My gazpacho. I know you see the olive oil there with the ingredients, but there are only 2 tablespoons in the entire recipe, so I’m calling it a 0 point dish.

When you peruse gazpacho recipes on the interwebs you see many that include bread in the ingredients. Years ago, I discovered this bread free recipe in Cooking Light magazine, then found it online. Here is the link to the original recipe: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/gazpacho-lemon-garlic-shrimp. On this go round, I just roughly chopped up all of the fresh vegetables (I did not bother with the measurements as listed in the recipe), and blended them in 2 batches, while dividing up the oil, vinegar, garlic, and seasoning, as well. Also, I squeeze the juice of the entire lemon into the recipe. That and the sherry vinegar really balance the acidity of the dish.

To go with my gazpacho are an easy meal put together at Trader Joe’s, Riced Cauliflower & Butternut Squash (cooked in the microwave) with Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, which are precooked

Breakfast this week is veggie egg white fritatta squares (0 pts) on Everything Bagel Thins (3pts). I put defrosted, drained frozen chopped spinach in my square Pyrex pan with chopped red onions, and cut up roasted red bell pepper from the jar. I added in a little ground flaxseed and chia seeds for their health benefits, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I poured in 1/1/2 cups of liquid egg whites (equals about 8 eggs), then baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Every oven is different. Check to make sure the eggs are set before you remove them from the oven. I allowed them to cool, cut into squares, and stored in the refrigerator. So fast and easy.

Egg white veggie fritatta squares

It was fun changing it up today! Meal prep for the week is complete and stored in the refrigerator. I’m off to the pool now!

Thank you for taking time to read my blog today. I hope there is something here that inspires you. Your comments, critiques, questions, and recipe suggestions are always welcome.

Make it a great week, and take care of YOU!

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On Topic – Dealing with Stress

If you attended your WW workshop this week, you discussed stress, and strategies for how to cope with it. My job situation has been a source of extreme stress for me for about a year now, and is not letting up. I have to say that this blog has been a therapeutic project for me. It keeps me accountable and focused on my journey and goal to not only continue to maintain my 50 lb weight loss, but to exceed it, and to continue to become physically stronger, and as fit as I can be. And hopefully, it allows me to inspire you to reach your weight, fitness, and overall health goals.

If you are new to the blog, please take a few minutes and scroll through the archives. There are many tips and inspirational stories to help you through life situations that may arise during your journey. Don’t allow yourself to be derailed. Remember why you started your journey in the first place.

It helps when you start to feel so stressed that you are on your way to a panic attack to avert your attention. First, breathe. Take a series of 5 second breaths in through your nose, and slowly exhale through your mouth. Feel your throat and jaw unclenching, and your stomach relaxing. Feel your body against the surface you are sitting on. Feel the cushions, feel your feet on the floor. Slowly you will feel centered again. This has been working for me while sleeping as well. When I wake up in the middle of the night, instead of following my head to all those dark places, I do this breathing exercise, and fall back asleep.

These are a couple of strategies that have worked for me lately. Other strategies are to get outside and go for a walk. Or go somewhere that makes you happy and meditate or read. Exercise. Go to a yoga or zumba class, or an aqua aerobics class. Be with people. If you are dealing with something really serious, seek out a professional to help you through.

Meal prep this week was a little more ambitious than usual. I was in the mood for fresh ideas. Again, I was inspired by recipes I found on the interwebs. Honestly, these days, why not?

Breakfast was found on FB. It’s Breakfast Stuffed Peppers from Recipe Rebels. Here is the link to the original recipe: https://www.thereciperebel.com/breakfast-stuffed-peppers-oven-or-slow-cooker/

Breakfast Stuffed Peppers Baby Boomer Mermaid Style
No matter what ingredients you use here, these are going to be gorgeous, tasty, and healthy

I wanted to keep this dish as low in calories and fat as possible, but to taste delicious, be nutritious, and full of protein. I used egg whites, defrosted, drained, and dried frozen spinach, chopped fresh scallions, and chopped fresh dill as my main ingredients. I seasoned with salt, pepper, and Trader Joe’s Umami Seasoning Blend, then added flax seed meal and chia seeds for their health benefits.

Lunch is salmon cakes! I’ve been wanting to make these for some time. I finally found a recipe that didn’t call for bread crumbs. Here is the link to the recipe I used (I actually followed this one, as I had never made these before): https://www.eatthis.com/salmon-cake-recipe/. I gave this a taste when done, and they are delicious! I would not change a thing in this recipe.

Healthy Salmon Cakes with Tzatziki on the side
Made with simple, clean ingredients.

I will pair this with Trader Joe’s Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup to complete my lunch.

My morning snack this week will be a 2 point fruit flavored yogurt and a banana. My mid afternoon snack will be my favorite – a gala apple and a light string cheese. I also always keep shelf stable snacks in my handbag, as sometimes I get caught away from the office longer than expected, so need something handy. I want to mention that my game plan of smaller main meals, mixed with healthy snacks between meals has worked for me. The scale is going the direction I want it to go, and I never feel too full. I have come to hate that stuffed feeling. Smaller meals and snacks throughout the day keep me satiated, and feeling on my game. And goodness knows, I need to be on my game at work these days.

While doing my #sundaymealpreps, I often have the Food Network on in the background. Today The Kitchen had a segment on healthy smoothies with surprise ingredients. I wanted to share those with you, because they looked good to me:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sunny-anderson/oatmeal-cookie-smoothie-5462885

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/katie-lee/red-velvet-smoothie-5462883

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/geoffrey-zakarian/zucchini-bread-smoothie-5462881

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I want to wish you all a wonderful and successful week. Take care of yourselves, my friends!

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

Recipe Inspiration from the Interwebs

I know, interweb is not a word. If you are an Alton Brown fan, as I am, you have heard it before. I for one am thrilled that Good Eats is back on The Food Network. No one explains food history, cooking techniques, or flavor profiles quite like Alton. Check it out when you get a chance. https://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/good-eats

Today’s meal prep was inspired by 2 recipes I found online this past week. Since the premise of my meal preps, besides being healthy and low calorie/ low WW points, is the utilization of my pantry. I utilized my pantry to the fullest today!

Starting with breakfast – I was inspired by http://www.pounddropper.com and her recipe for Egg and Sausage Breakfast Squares, which I spotted on FB. It looked super yummy. Here is her recipe: https://thepounddropper.com/egg-and-sausage-breakfast-squares/

My vegetarian egg white and sausage breakfast squares
https://www.bocaburger.com/products

Mine became a vegetarian version of her recipe idea. I had the Boca meatless crumbles in the house. I searched online for homemade breakfast sausage flavor profiles, and used a combination of a couple of the recipes that I found that fit with my taste and what I had in the cupboard. I sauteed the diced red onions until they became translucent, then added the crumbles and seasonings. I used a little bit of salt, pepper, paprika, caraway seeds, Italian seasoning, and granulated garlic. Use the seasoning combo that you like, and go light. Give it a taste. You can always add more seasoning, but you can’t take it out. I then poured 2 cups of liquid egg whites into a square baking dish. I added a couple of teaspoons each of ground flaxseeds and chia seeds (for the health benefits, as you can’t taste them in this dish), and for a bit of an earthy flavor, I added a few shakes of Trader Joe’s Umami Seasoning Blend https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/umami-seasoning-blend. I added in the crumble mixture, and put the pan in a preheated 350 oven for 30 minutes. My husband asked me if I was making pizza. That’s how good the house smelled.

For my lunch I was inspired by a Mediterranean style salad on kitchn.com https://www.thekitchn.com/mediterranean-chopped-salad-22943245.

The fixins for my desk lunch this week – Mediterranean salad

The original recipe calls for farro as the grain, but I had quinoa in the house, so that’s what I used. If you are not familiar with quinoa, it is a grain, but also a protein. https://www.activebeat.com/diet-nutrition/the-10-secret-health-benefits-of-quinoa/. I also switched up the greens. I used Trader Joe’s herb salad mix and baby spinach. The dark leafy greens are good for my anti-inflammatory diet.

The point I am getting at here, is that if you search the interwebs, you won’t run out of meal prep ideas. Just remember that the recipes are just a guideline. You can use what is handy, and substitute herbs and spices that please you. No need to go out and buy a ton of additional ingredients, unless you want to of course. Now that am out of quinoa, I will buy the farro. I want to try it.

Thank you for stopping by. Send me your meal prep ideas, and of course any comments, critiques, and questions. Make it a great week, and take care of YOU!

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