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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Douse the Flames of your Aches and Pains

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week’s lunch salad, Asian style

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

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

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

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

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

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Make it a great week! Take care of YOU!

My Best Remedy IS…..

Saturday, August 16:

As I mentioned in my last blog, my new job began on July 29. Well, it has been 0 – 60 since then. Which I knew would happen, so no surprises. I am certainly not complaining. I am grateful to be in the position I’m in, and to work with really wonderful people. But boy am I tired!! Today is my first day off in 14 days. I went to a trade show in Las Vegas, which started on Saturday. I came home mid week, and went right to work. Yes, I was dead tired, but made it through to Friday. And surprise! Friday, we ended up setting up our office space unexpectedly, and there I was moving furniture. Saturday I got up, went to my WW meeting, went shopping and home to do chores. I was dragging. If you know anything about me at all, you know that I was planning a swim today. I almost didn’t go. That is how tired and sore I felt. But I dragged myself to the pool. It wasn’t wonderful at first. Of course the water felt fabulous, but I was out of breath, and sore all over. Finally I got my rhythm going, and started to feel better.

The above paragraph was to be the beginning of the blog I meant to publish last Sunday, August 17. And then….

Sunday, August 25:

FAST FORWARD TO THAT NIGHT –

Surprise appendix attack! Sunday I had an emergency appendectomy. It has been one thing after another since the beginning of the year. But I stay strong in my self care practice, my work ethic, and my appreciation for the life that I have, with no regrets. And that, my friends, is my Best Remedy for being happy, healthy, and staying focused.

I have no meal prep planned for this week, as I am still on the mend, and will be working mostly from home. I am continuing to keep healthy things in the house, and of course, no trigger foods! As focused as I am, stress eating is definitely still an issue for me.

I do want to share the dinner we had last night. It was a slow cooker chicken stroganoff recipe from diethood.com: https://diethood.com/crock-pot-chicken-stroganoff-recipe/.

It came out delicious. We used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of breast meat. I omitted the flour in the recipe, and the parsley garnish, but otherwise followed the recipe as written. One note: the recipe lists the cooking time as 4-4 1/2 hours on low. It only took about 3 – 3 1/2 hours in my slow cooker. So keep your eye on it. I highly recommend you give this a try. It’s luscious, yet light.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff . Recipe from diethood.com

Thank you for stopping by! Please feel free to comment, critique, or ask me any questions. You can find me on social media at:

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

Life Changes – Again

And Back to Work I Go!

Today’s blog is going to be very brief. I started back to work last week, and it is a whirlwind. Next week I am off to our trade show, so I have barely any time to spare with getting ready for it both personally, and professionally.

Now that things are so hectic, I want to show you how I made it through last week food wise, and what my plans are for this week. Actually, my meal plan will be the same. The goal is to remain satisfied, and of course, on track.

A great start to the day: Smoked Salmon on an Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla with Spinach Kale Yogurt Dip, and a sliced vine ripened tomato. I’d say this is about a 4 point breakfast, and it keeps me full.
I switched off some days with plain Greek yogurt & berries, and I had scrambled eggs one day with salsa, wrapped int the Ole tortilla.
Lunch Basics – Healthy Dark Greens, Trader Joe’s Chopped Veggie Mix, and Garbanzo Beans – 0 points. I’ll add a lean protein to this, and one of the Bolt House Salad Dressings I have on hand.
Last week I had turkey breast in the house as well as low fat Jarlsberg cheese. Made a nice “chef salad”

Following is my food plan for my trip (which is 4 days in Las Vegas).

Breakfast in the room (always ask for a refrigerator when you check in):
WW Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, paired with plain Greek yogurt. Mixed together this makes a kind of “Spackle”. It’s healthy, and filling. The oatmeal cup is 3 points/ 120 calories.

Lunch will be “take out” at the trade show, and dinner will be in restaurants. I will make the best, most mindful choices possible. I may treat myself a little, but I have made a decision that I will not order any desserts this trip.

My after dinner treat will be a Fiber One brownie (2 points) and a cup of tea in the room.
I will also have fresh fruit on hand in my refrigerator.

Feel free to send your tips on how you manage in trying times. I know I can learn from you too. And as always, your comments, critiques, and questions are always welcome.

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See you in 2 weeks when I get back! Take care of yourselves!

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Routine vs YOLO

Finding a Balance between the Mundane and the Exciting

Each and every morning the first thing I do when I get out of bed are stretching exercises for my lower back. There are definitely mornings I don’t feel like it, but I do them anyway. The benefit outweighs the alternative, which for me is stiffness and ultimately pain. And I’ve made it a habit. I look at eating the same way. Not every meal or snack has to be sexy. Sometimes food is just fuel. Developing any new habit takes work, especially eating habits. Food is so connected to our emotions, our families, our cultures, but sometimes it is necessary to take a step back and examine what we are actually ingesting, and what the effects are on our bodies, our overall health.

Making small changes in our eating habits will improve our health, impact our relationships with our families and friends, and ultimately help us to learn to love and care for ourselves. Start with baby steps. Maybe just set a goal to drink more water today. Another small goal may be to plan and prepare a breakfast or lunch meal that will keep you away from that fast food restaurant you always go to. As we find ourselves successful with these new behaviors, we can slowly develop them into habits and expand on them from there.

I found this article that explains habit development better than I can. You can also check out “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg for a better understanding.

https://www.lifehack.org/810887/how-to-break-a-habit

There is no meal prep today, as I am still working from home this week. What I am going to do for you is to provide a list of my favorite go-to snack items to help me stay successful on my maintenance journey. Mine might vary from yours, as it’s important for me and my success that my “trigger foods” are not on this list.

Crackers/ Chips

Good Thins come in many flavors. The Corn One (shown) is 3 points for 41 pieces.
Ak-Mak Sesame Crackers. 2 points for 3 crackers.
My personal favorite. I grew up with this. My dad always bought it.

Pop Chips. Many flavors. The Sour Cream & Onion flavor is 4 points for 22 chips.

Dips/ Spreads

Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Spinach & Kale Yogurt Dip
I use this as a dip and as a spread. 2 points for 2 tablespoons
Hummus. 2 points for 2 tablespoons.
Can be found in any grocery store. Scan the package for points. Not all Hummus is created equal.
Here is the recipe for this one: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/hummus/
Laughing Cow Light Spreadable Cheese Wedges.
1 point for 1 wedge. Very versatile.
Hungry Girl has several recipes using this as an ingredient:
https://www.hungry-girl.com

On the Go

New Favorite – WW Turkey Sticks, 1 point for 1 stick
(There are 2 additional flavors of meat sticks available)
https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/shop/turkey-pepperoni-snack-sticks

Veggie Snack Bags, 0 points
Light String Cheese & Fruit. Apples are easiest for “on the go”, as they don’t require refrigeration
1 point

Sweet Treats

Unsweetened Apple Sauce Cups. 0 points
2 point sweet yogurt & berries
(also makes a good light lunch)
WW Chocolate Mini Bars. Points vary
https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/shop/foodanddrink/food/chocolate

These are just a few ideas for you. Take the time to walk the aisles of your grocery stores. Read the labels to help you make the best choices for yourself. If you are a WW member, use your scanner in the app as well.

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Feel free to send your comments, critiques, and questions!

Make it a great week!

Finding Your Comfort Zone

The WW Comfort Zone Chart

This subject may sound familiar. I wrote about this several weeks back, in the blog titled “What Level are You At?” I’m bringing this back up, because I, myself, have been struggling with this during this time of working at home, and it seems to come up a lot on the various WW groups on Facebook. I find it a worthy subject to bring up again. Also because my WW coach, the great Amy B. brought this invaluable chart out again. For me, this is the key to remembering to eat mindfully.

Many of us were brought up to clean our plates, not to waste food. But when we over eat, we feel sick, and then we also beat ourselves up for it. The challenge is to realize what that sweet spot is for us which is satisfied, satiated. Some things we can do to help with this are to eat more slowly, to eat without distraction, and to really notice how we are feeling as we eat through a plate of food, healthy or otherwise. The new WW Freestyle program is based on 0 point foods, which is wonderful, but we have to remember that all food has calories. Portion control is key, even while eating those 0 point foods.

On the other side of the spectrum is not to allow ourselves to starve either. If we allow ourselves to get that hungry, we tend to lose complete control over our food choices and portion control. We all need to work on finding that balance.

I hope you save this chart that I posted in your phones, or print it and put it up on your refrigerator. Somewhere that will remind you to stay within that comfort zone. Being self aware, and learning about our bodies will help with our weight loss and maintenance journeys, I guarantee you.

Today’s meal prep focuses on the nightshade varieties of fruits and vegetables. I kind of started this last week with the tomato blog, but took it a step further today. Nightshades have gotten a little bit of a bad wrap. There is a myth out there that nightshades can cause inflammation, but there is no scientific evidence to support that claim. For the most part they are nutritious, healthy foods. Some people are sensitive to them, as they contain a chemical called solanine, which can aggravate arthritis pain and inflammation. If you feel any mouth tingling or itching when eating these foods, consult your doctor. For more information on nightshades and their health benefits and risks, please consult the following articles:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321745.php

https://www.healthline.com/health/nightshade-vegetables-and-inflammation#so-whats-the-verdict-on-nightshades

Here is a list of common nightshade vegetables and fruits, most of which are components in the roasted ratatouille dish I made today:

  1. potatoes
  2. tomatoes
  3. eggplant
  4. bell peppers

So I had a package of Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi in my freezer calling my name today. I also had left over tomato sauce from the can of Italian tomatoes I used in my gazpacho last week. And I love me some ratatouille. And I love a roasted eggplant. Today I combined all of this deliciousness into my lunch meal prep for this week.

This gnocchi is 4 points for a 1 cup serving, or 140 calories
The only points in this dish are in the gnocchi

I really kind of made this up as I went. I roasted a whole eggplant yesterday. It baked in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. After it cooled, I scraped out the meat and stored it in my refrigerator. Today I took a red onion, a red bell pepper, a zucchini, and a summer squash and roasted them together. After spraying them with canola oil, and seasoning them with salt & pepper, I roasted them in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring them a couple of times. I took some of that reserved tomato sauce that I had, put it on a low heat, then seasoned it with dried basil, thyme, and rosemary. I also added 3 cubes of Dorot frozen garlic to the sauce. I cooked the gnocchi according to the instructions on the package, then tossed them with the sauce. I then layered the veggies and sauced gnocchi s in my dish to store in the refrigerator. I cannot wait to eat this tomorrow. It smelled so good!

Yesterday, I was gifted a bag full of home grown lemons by my friend Marcy who came out to have lunch with me. Today I used them to make strawberry lemonade popsicles. I substituted the sugar in the recipe with Stevia. So fun. I had some of the mixture left over, so it’s in the freezer in a Pyrex pan becoming a granita of sorts.

Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles; Recipe below:
https://www.ideahacks.com/strawberry-lemonade-popsicles/

I also had a slew of pitted cherries left from last week, so I Googled Healthy Cherry Recipes. I found this great link, and was inspired by the chocolate cherry oatmeal recipe they had listed: https://healthynibblesandbits.com/15-healthy-cherry-recipes-for-summer/

Chocolate Cherry Overnight Oats Baby Boomer Mermaid Style

I used what I had in the house, and kept it very healthy, and low in points and calories. I combined 1/4 cup of Old Fashioned Oats per serving with 1/2 cup of chia seeds, and 2 tablespoons each of Splenda Brown Sugar blend and Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. I layered in a couple of cups of chopped, pitted fresh cherries, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. When I serve myself, I’ll top this with about a teaspoon of toasted sliver almonds. I do still have cherries left over, but those will go great with my fat free plain Greek yogurt, or fat free cottage cheese snacks.

Note the tip for filling snacks here: combine a small portion of a healthy protein with a fruit or vegetable. String cheese and an apple is another good example of this. Circling back to The Comfort Zone, don’t allow yourself to get so hungry that you lose control. Healthful snacks during the day or after dinner are essential.

Thank you for visiting my friends. As always, I welcome your comments, questions, and critiques.

Here is where you can find me on social media:

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Make it a great week, my friends!

Tomato Tomahto

Continuing The Celebration of Summer Fruits

Heirloom Tomatoes on Display at The Farmer’s Market
Bentwood, CA, today

If you didn’t already know this, tomatoes are a fruit disguised as a vegetable. They are low calorie and low carb. They provide vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium.

There are so many varieties of tomatoes to choose from: beefsteak, cherry, roma, green, grape, to name a few, and of course the many varieties of heirloom tomatoes as well. For a complete list of tomato varieties, visit this link: https://www.naturefresh.ca/types-of-tomatoes-guide/

Fresh San Marzano Tomatoes found at The Farmers Market today

Tomatoes are so versatile. They are great raw in salads, sandwiches, and in cold soups, which is what I did with them today. They can be scrambled into eggs, chopped into a salsa, made into jam, oven roasted, sun dried, stuffed, and made into sauces and soups.

Today I made my favorite gazpacho recipe. I found this years ago when I first started with WW. I began my WW journey back in May 2012. In my first meeting/ orientation, my leader, the great Amy B. told me about the magic of soups and weight loss. I immediately began meal prepping for my workweek that weekend, with the classic WW vegetable soup, which I loved, and did start losing weight immediately with. I began to experiment with the vegetable soup concept, and developed flavor profiles for Italian, Mexican, and Asian varieties of that basic WW soup recipe. As summer approached, I began to investigated cold soups. Since I have always loved tomatoes, I gravitated towards classic gazpacho soups. I read many recipes, and tried several. I ran across this one in my Cooking Light Magazine, loved it, and have stuck to it since. Here is the link to that recipe:

https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/gazpacho-lemon-garlic-shrimp

My tried and true gazpacho recipe

This recipe is so easy, that there are no shortcuts needed. Note in the photo above, that this recipe is made in the blender. No cooking involved whatsoever. I have never made the lemon shrimp part of the recipe. I use this as a lunch meal prep, and enjoy adding cooked frozen shrimp to this, or whatever lean protein I have available at the moment. I follow the recipe as written, but I add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice for additional acidity.

I am continuing my love affair with stone fruit this week. I bought cherries, which I pitted (see link below) so they are ready to add to my yogurt bowl in the morning. And this week, I bought donut peaches (also known as Saturn peaches), and apricots, as well.

https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/oxo-good-grips-reg-cherry-and-olive-pitter

This week’s stone fruit varieties

Thank you for stopping by. I hope I have inspired you to try a new meal prep at home. I welcome your comments, critiques, and questions.

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Have a good week, my friends. Take care of yourselves!