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!
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.
No need to rehash what an unprecedented year 2020 has been. It has been a horror story in so many ways, but has also produced some wonderful epiphanies for many of us. I have become aware of being more compassionate towards others, and have learned to take better care of myself, both inside and out. And for these realizations, I am grateful.
I did have some fun with meal preps this year. In no particular order, here are my favorites of the year:
Like most of the world, I did a little baking this year. My favorite recipe conversion came from the PB & J Blondie I made for Baking Baby Boomer Mermaid Style, published July 3.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Hello, friends! Happy Weekend! I happen to have a busy one planned with family, and it will include a lot of driving. Not sure if I will be able to blog tomorrow, but I wanted to share my meal prep plans with you, since I have almost no time to do it this weekend. After my WW Zoom meeting this morning, which was proceeded by our WW Tribe Tailgate (one of my favorite parts of the weekend), I went out to Trader Joe’s to pick up my provisions.
I subscribe to many food blogs for inspiration and research, and yesterday I was inspired by this healthy, fresh, easy to make and store cucumber radish salad from https://diethood.com/: https://diethood.com/radish-cucumber-tomato-salad/. Of course I am making some changes to fit my needs, which are to have the vegetables keep for a few days. In place of tomatoes I am using red pepper, and in place of diced red onions, I am using green onions. I am also adding arugula for that leafy green I love so much. Also, instead of making the creamy yogurt dressing (which sounds so good, and I will make it at some point) for this week, I am using my simple red wine vinaigrette, which I already have prepared.
For my proteins, I actually have a selection, all of which are very easy to prepare on the fly.
Last Sunday I tried yellow watermelon for the first time, as was shown on the blog. It was gorgeous, sweet, and delicious. This week I am trying cherry plums, as suggested by dear friend Judie. I think trying a new seasonal vegetable or fruit each week is a great habit to get into. They are 0 points, low in calories, carbs, and fat, and could add quite nicely to your food prep repertoire.
Have a wonderful weekend, my friends! I’m off! Stay safe and healthy. Wear your mask, and wash those hands. And remember to take a little time for yourselves.
Instead of going out for a fancy al fresco dinner for my birthday this week, we opted to invest the money in an instant pot/ air fryer. Honestly, it’s so exciting. Today was my first experiment with it. After it took me almost an hour to figure out how to work the lid of the instant pot, I was on my way. Honestly, I am THE most un-mechanical, least handy person I know. Maybe besides my brother…. ;).
I decided to make my favorite chicken shawarma from https://www.jocooks.com/, and lo and behold, she added an instant pot version on to her website now: https://www.jocooks.com/recipes/instant-pot-chicken-shawarma/. If you have been following by blog you know that this is one of my favorite recipes, and I have made it often. We pair it with simply hummus, and tzatziki sauce when we have it for dinner. Today, I followed Jo’s instant pot technique, then air fried the chicken for 5 minutes to give it a little crust. Note: since the chicken breast was just over 1 pound, I looked up the cooking time on line. It gave me 7 minutes. I will do 8 minutes next time. The chicken breast came out slightly underdone, but since I will be reheating it in the microwave at work, it should be just fine, and not dry when I eat it.
Now comes the really fun part – the air frying! My plan was to air fry eggplant and zucchini to go with my chicken shawarma for lunch. As I looked up recipes and techniques on the interwebs, I found one that did not require any breading. In fact the seasoning technique was the same as if I were going to roast the vegetables. No mess from the breading process, and no bread. Brilliant. https://www.melaniecooks.com/air-fryer-eggplant
My middle eastern feast for the week is complete. Just one more thing – my fun new summer fruit of the week:
Thank you for joining me today. Try something new this week: a new recipe, cooking technique, fruit, or vegetable. Experiment! And take good care of yourself! Stay safe and healthy. Wear your mask and wash your hands.
And so begins my birthday week during the pandemic. I honestly don’t mind celebrating quietly. We did that for my husband’s birthday in April when things were really shut down. It’s more about missing celebrating with my dear lifelong friends who also have birthdays this month. One good thing – my local pool is finally reopening this week. I swim on Tuesday afternoon for the first time since mid March. I just cannot wait. My poor sore, orthopedically challenged body is ready for the water! Happy Birthday week to me!
I kept it simple this week again for my lunch prep. I was inspired by a meal prep I found on my new favorite culinary blog, https://www.flavcity.com/. Here is the link to the prep that inspired me: https://www.flavcity.com/low-fat-meal-prep. I made marinara turkey meatballs and a zucchini, summer squash, and tomato saute to accompany them. I realized that if you start any saute with good olive oil, onions, and garlic you can add any vegetable you want and it will turn out yummy. I seasoned the veggie mixture liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. The main dish is Trader Joe’s Frozen Fully Cooked Turkey Meatballs, and my new favorite marinara sauce. Silver Palate Low Sodium Marinara (found at Ralph’s) is 60 calories/ 3 points for a 1/2 cup serving. But it is just 6% sodium, and has 0 added sugars. The ingredients are clean and pure. No preservatives. And it’s delicious. The turkey meatballs are processed, but still fairly clean, and of course convenient to prepare, and delicious to eat. They are 100 calories/ 3 points for a serving of 2. I am having 3 meatballs per serving for lunch for 4 points.
I am switching it up just a little for breakfast this week too. I have been having non fat Greek yogurt bowls with bananas, blueberries, flax meal, and chia seeds, along with a hard boiled egg each morning, along with my mock chai tea latte (Trader Joe’s chai spiced tea bags with unsweetened vanilla almond milk). It’s good, but it’s getting boring (not the tea; must have my chai tea in the morning). I got inspired by this egg stuffed peppers idea I found on Pinterest: https://skinnyms.com/egg-stuffed-peppers. I substituted the cheese for Nutritional Yeast (https://www.marthastewart.com/7796957/nutritional-yeast-explained). Less fat and calories, but a nice cheesy flavor. I will still have my yogurt bowl in the morning, in a smaller portion, and one of these.
Make it a great week my friends. Stay safe, stay healthy, wear your mask, and wash your hands. Thanks so much for stopping by. Any critiques, questions, and comments are always welcome.