I had a full blog planned to publish yesterday, but in light of the protests turned riots, I decided it would not be appropriate. I feel the same way today, but a girl has to eat, so I am just going to share my meal prep with you today.
Summer produce is my favorite, and I wanted to celebrate it this week with this easy summer squash salad I saw prepared on the Food Network show, The Kitchen: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/grilled-shrimp-and-summer-squash-salad-7241083. This is a beautiful summer salad. I made changes, Baby Boomer Mermaid style, but the original recipe is beautiful. If I was cooking for company, I would make this as written. Since I am cooking for my weekly lunch meal prep, I made the changes that work for me, and you should do the same.
The corn was replaced by celery in my prep. I love a corn on the cob as a treat, but corn is not really my friend, so I hesitated to use it in a meal I plan to eat for a few days. I used celery instead for the fresh crunch. I also subbed the sunflower seeds for toasted almond slices. Just because. I also needed a dark green leafy base for my salad so I combined fresh basil with arugula. I have plenty of my classic vinaigrette dressing left over from last week, so am using that instead of making a new dressing that is actually pretty similar. Other than that, I followed the prep instructions in the recipe – I lightly roasted the seeded summer squash, and blanched the snow peas. My proteins of choice this week will be left over roasted chicken breast, Trader Joe’s shrimp burgers, or Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Sausage. All delicious, all low calories/ points.
Thank you so much for checking in. Please take care. Sending you all much love and big hugs.
Happy Memorial Day, all! We were fortunate enough today to experience a special fly over of an 18-plane formation of historic war planes over So Cal this afternoon. What an awesome experience, and a humbling reminder that this is a day to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, and to honor the military that is out there today protecting our freedom, our democracy.
Weekly meal prep is back for me. At least for the moment. We are heading into a heat wave this week, so I stuck with an easy, no cook salad for lunches. I found this White Bean, Tuna & Roasted Pepper Salad in the June 2020 issue of Prevention Magazine. Unfortunately I could not access the link to the recipe online, but here is the list of ingredients, and what I used:
15 oz can of cannellini beans, rinsed – I used garbanzo beans
1/4 small red onion chopped
6 tbsp Classic Vinaigrette *see below*
3 hearts of romaine torn into pieces (12 oz; about 6 cups) – I used 1 5 oz bag of romaine and mixed it with a bag of broccoli slaw
2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained, and cut into pieces
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (I used a little less, and chopped them up)
1/2 cup pitted mixed olives (I used about 1/4 cup of pitted kalamata olives, that I cut in half)
5 oz canned tuna packed in olive oil, drained and flaked – I used a 14.75 oz can of wild caught salmon packed in water
To a jar add 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1 shallot finely chopped, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Cover and shake to combine. Add 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup water). Cover and shake until emulsified. The dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
And I did a breakfast prep today too! I follow a U Tube channel called Flav City, hosted by Chef Bobby Parrish. He is a wealth of knowledge, and a heck of a cook. I saw this and had to try it. It’s a copy cat recipe of Starbucks bacon and Gruyere egg bites. I did modify it Baby Boomer Mermaid style, and I am extremely proud to say that I pulled it off. I had a taste of my finished product and these are delicious. Here is the link to the Flav City recipe and video. Chef gives a lot of great culinary tips in a short amount of time. The video is worth the watch: https://www.flavcity.com/keto-breakfast-egg-bites/#viewrecipe
Thank you for stopping by today. I hope you have enjoyed the holiday weekend, and that you are feeling good. The world is starting to reopen. In a new way, but it is coming along, I am happy to say. Take care of yourselves.
The city is slowly coming back to life. Santa Monica finally reopened their parks and beaches (for swimming and exercise only). My favorite is Palisades Park, which spans the cliffs just above the ocean. There is the most lovely rose garden there. I missed this little piece of paradise. I am gradually starting to feel whole again.
Last week I started going back to the office to begin prep for the economy reopening. My groceries served me well. I had good, healthy lunches each day. It is indeed all about the groceries. That said, I did want to meal plan for this coming week in the office, so I went to my well stocked freezer. There I found Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi (4 pts/ 140 cal per 1 cup serving), their Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip (2 pts/ 45 cal per 2 tbsp serving), frozen spinach, and frozen broccoli florets. The light bulb in my Baby Boomer Mermaid head went off, and I decided to combine all of this deliciousness into one veggie forward dish for myself. I will pair this with Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage (3 points/ 110 calories per 1 sausage serving). This gives me 4 servings, so all things considered, it will be healthy, filling, and really satisfying for the week.
Last weekend, after I published the blog, I got the baking bug. I had a can of pureed pumpkin in the house, along with all of the other ingredients needed, so I made this muffin recipe from Drizzle Me Skinny. No alterations. They came out amazing: https://drizzlemeskinny.com/pumpkin-spice-cream-cheese-muffins/. I highly recommend you give this a try. 2 pts/ 88 cal per muffin. Almost everything I make is inspired by recipes I find on the interwebs, either from Instagram, Pinterest, FB, the WW website, or just by randomly searching.
Just a reminder that I am still selling hospital grade disposable masks. Masks will be a part of our “new normal” for the foreseeable future. Please contact me privately if you are interested in purchasing some for your home and/ or office: email@example.com.
Thank you for joining me this week! Stay safe. Be well. Take care of yourselves.
Feel free to send me comments, critiques, questions, or meal prep ideas 🙂
For me, staying home has become more about the groceries than the meal prep. I don’t want to feel obligated to one or 2 choices for the week during this time, so I have filled my freezer, pantry, and refrigerator with clean, healthy, and mostly “safe” food options…. There has definitely been a little splurging on comfort foods and sweets over the course of the last 6 weeks of quarantine, though. Not gonna lie.
Today I made a broccoli slaw. Super easy with Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Coleslaw Dressing (50 cal for 2 tbsp/ 2 pts). I added a little celery, red onion, and celery seed to bump up the flavors. I put about 1/4 cup of dressing in the entire dish, which will be 3 – 4 servings. Slaw needs to marinate a little, so it’s in the refrigerator getting delicious.
My hearty breakfast was scrambled eggs with caramelized onions and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a solid resource of protein and fiber. Besides the health benefits, it has a cheesy flavor, so mimics that in eggs without the fat, calories, and points of cheese. It is 20 calories a tablespoon (0 pts). Here is a cooking note on scrambled eggs (learned from The Barefoot Contessa, and who doesn’t love her ?) – cook them on low, slowly. You will get a fluffier more uncious finished product. I topped the egg mixture with my favorite jarred salsa, and wrapped it up on an Ole Extreme Whole Wheat Tortilla (50 cal/ 1pt).
So it is all about the groceries right now. Here are a few tips to make grocery shopping a little easier during these challenging times:
*Make a list (best if you can do it in the order of the aisles in the store)
*Read the labels (and/ or keep your WW scanner handy) to be sure you are making healthy choices
*Buy seasonal produce and proteins on sale to help adhere to your budget
Just a reminder, I am selling hospital grade disposable masks. Find the details on the previous blog from last week (scroll down). Masks are an essential part of the “new normal” as business start to reopen.
Recipe Schmecipe Recap – A Review of A Few of My Best, EASY Meal Preps
Not gonna lie. Although grateful for my overall good health, and the love and companionship of my husband, who’s health I am also grateful for, other than losing my parents, this is the hardest thing I have ever been through. I have lost my way the last few weeks, and in the meantime, tore a muscle in my back while stretching, which has temporarily taken away my ability to get outdoors to walk or to do anything else that resembles being productive. I am healing, taking it a day at a time. Locked up. Chin up. Putting on my big girl pants and moving forward.
Since we all are cooking most of our own meals these days, I thought I would offer you a recap of a few of my favorite past meal preps and tips in the hopes of inspiring you to make something new and fun. If you are new to the blog, my meal prep philosophy has always been budget conscious, pantry based, WW friendly, delicious, and EASY. This will also allow for you to peruse past blogs at the same time, in the hopes that you will find renewed inspiration, and get a few handy tips along the way. Let’s Go!
During this time of the Covid 19 pandemic, meal prep and a “safe” pantry have become even more important than ever. It is so easy to slip back into old habits under these circumstances.
The turkey taco prep I made last week was so good that my craving for spicy Mexican style food has continued. This week I was inspired by a recipe I found on the Skinny Ms. website: https://skinnyms.com/southwestern-black-bean-casserole/, but with the twist of adding soyrizo, which I love, and had not enjoyed in some time.
The basic recipe is great as is, but, I didn’t have black beans in the house. Plus, I wanted to add the soyrizo, so here is how I made it work: I had but one can of pinto beans in the house, the soyrizo, reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend (3pts per 1/4 C serving), our favorite salsa (Herdez medium), chicken broth, Dorot frozen garlic cubes, diced white onions, cumin, salt & pepper, and of course the all important Ole Mexican Whole Wheat Tortillas. Those were my ingredients.
I sprayed my saute pan with canola oil spray, then when it got hot, I threw in the diced onions (about 1/4 cup), then half of the soyrizo, which is about 3 oz (4pts), then added 2 frozen garlic cubes, and the cumin. I let that cook for a few minutes, and added the drained pinto beans, 1/4 cup of chicken broth (use vegetable broth if you want a fully vegetarian dish), a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper, and let that cook down for another few minutes.
When the mixture was cooked through, and the liquid absorbed, I sprayed my 9 x 9″ square pyrex pan with the canola oil spray, then placed the first tortilla in the pan. I layered on the soyrizo mixture, about 2 tablespoons of the salsa, and about 2 tablespoons of the cheese. I repeated this process using 3 of the whole wheat tortillas, then topped it off with the balance of the soyrizo mixture, more salsa, and cheese. I would say I used a total of about 1/3 of a cup each of the salsa and cheese. I estimate this recipe at a total of 11 points on the WW Blue plan. It made 4 servings, so just under 3 points per serving. Pretty good for a comfort food recipe, I’d say. I had a piece this morning for breakfast with a couple of over medium eggs. It was yummy and very satisfying.
Virtual WW meetings. Visiting with friends by phone while walking in different parts of town. Reaching out to more people by phone rather than text at any time of day. Visiting with neighbors out front while keeping 6′ apart. Dealing with necessary changes financially, like talking to banks about deferring payments on credit cards, cars, and mortgages. Filing for unemployment. Streaming TV shows, and watching movies in the living room. Not going to work. Not working at all. These are all things that are new to me. I’m not going to lie. I am having a tough time of it, as I am sure you all are. We are all in the same nightmare, and I hope and pray that you are staying home and safe like we are because the sooner this horrible virus irradiates itself, or a vaccine is discovered, we can all go back to work and back to our lives. Can’t be soon enough for me!
Today’s meal prep is an easy turkey taco mixture; a “dump” recipe if you will. This was inspired by my niece, the lovely Eden, who happens to be one of the best people I know (not biased, it’s the truth). She told me a while back that turkey taco meat is her go to, and she is right. Once it’s made, it is so versatile. It becomes a taco salad, can be wrapped, or can be eaten as a chili. Nothing better than having options.
All I did was brown 1 lb of ground turkey with low sodium taco seasoning, and a little chopped red onion. I added to that 1 can of tri color beans (black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans), and 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies. I added 2 cubes of frozen minced garlic, then let it simmer for about 40 minutes. And that was it! I used regular ground turkey, which is 5 points for 3 oz on the WW Blue Plan, or 170 calories for 4 oz. You can use ground turkey breast for 0 points/ 120 calories. The rest of the ingredients in this dish are 0 points :).
One of the things I love doing is trying new veggies and fruits when I find them. Earlier this week, I escaped to the legendary Santa Monica Wednesday Farmer’s Market. Don’t worry, I was careful. I wrapped a scarf around my nose and mouth to act as a mask. Plus the market was practicing safe social distancing, as I knew they would be. I found a fairy squash. It is so pretty! When I talked to the farmer about it, she suggested I just roast it whole for an hour at 350. I ended up with a beautiful orange mash. It is a little sweet, as promised, like a butternut squash. I can use it now to bake with, in a risotto, in a soup, or stirred into my morning yogurt bowl, as I would pumpkin. I am excited to experiment with it this week. Here is a little more info about this rare winter squash variety: https://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Fairy_Squash_6685.php
I found a new fruit this week too – an Ataulfo mango. It’s really just a mini mango grown in Mexico. It was super sweet and delicious over my morning yogurt bowl, which I topped with toasted walnuts.
These days when the grocery store shelves are a little more sparse, is a good time to make new discoveries. Don’t be afraid to try new things, especially in produce.
Take care of yourselves, my friends. Make sure you move every day. I have been walking, but plan to incorporate virtual workouts in the house this coming week. Silver Sneakers has been hosting live Facebook workouts. I am going to try one tomorrow morning. Plus there are many available on your streaming channels, and online. I want to try a dance one this week too.
As I was reading up on this topic I realized that eating to build your immune systems and an anti inflammatory diets are closely related, and in fact intertwined. Many immunity building foods also work as anti inflammatory foods. I have been sent, and have been seeing many concoctions that are said to ward off the Corona Virus. And I am looking closely at all of it, and that is what has sparked today’s blog.
I have added more citrus to my diet. I began drinking warm water with slices of lemon in it daily (thank you, Marcy for the home grown lemons). And today I bought a range of citrus fruits to keep in the house, after reading about the overall immunity and anti inflammatory benefits of them. And I love all citrus fruits, anyway.
I have also discovered Nutritional Yeast. Nutritional Yeast is a complete protein, contains all 9 amino acids, is high in B vitamins, and trace minerals. And it tastes good! It adds a nutty, cheesy, kind of an umami flavor to foods. So far I have added it to scrambled eggs, and today to my vegetable soup. Here is more about it: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nutritional-yeast.
I want to mention HOW I finally came to buy and try Nutritional Yeast, because it’s a lesson for us all – I was shopping at Trader Joe’s last week after the shelves had been stripped of almost everything. I found the 1 bag of Nutritional Yeast on the shelf, and picked it up. I realized I had heard good things about it, so I read the back of the package, noted the low calories (20 cal for 1 tblsp/ 0 points), and price :), then decided to give it a try. Yesterday during our WW virtual meetings, our coach, the great Amy B. was talking about finding new products on the empty grocery store shelves during this time. She talked about low calorie (low point) sauces that you might not normally try, for example. Keep an open mind while shopping these days. You never know what new treasures you will discover.
Like many of you, I won’t be going to work this week. What little work I have I will do from home, as I am in sales, and unfortunately, as all of the stores I sell to are closed, I am essentially out of business until this passes. Deep breaths…. (This might be a good time for me to try meditation).
I wasn’t really planning a meal prep today, but as I was continuing to read about building our immune systems against this virus, I decided to throw a vegetable soup together out of what I had in the house. I went to my freezer and pulled out a bag of mixed vegetables, a mostly used bag of frozen broccoli, and a partly used bag of spinach. I had most of a quart of chicken broth in the refrigerator, a bag of shirataki noodles, and the Nutritional yeast. I seasoned my soup with 2 cubes of Dorot frozen garlic, some freshly ground black pepper (no salt, as my broth was not low sodium), some ground coriander, and cumin. It came out great, and I want to tell you that the Nutritional Yeast did lend a new flavor that I really like. And it my soup has 0 points, I believe, on all 3 WW plans. I am very happy to have this in the house this week.
I want to share one more thing with you that I am going to make for my husband and I. I found it on Instagram this morning. It’s a ginger lime tea recipe. Great for both our immune systems and has all of the anti inflammatory properties: https://presleyspantry.com/2011/04/11/ginger-lime-tea/.
We are all in the same boat here. There is no end date on the quarantine. All we can do is keep ourselves healthy with the foods we eat, exercise, and staying rested. Worrying, stressing, and food binging are not going to help. Take care, my friends.
This morning we had our first virtual WW meeting, and just prior to that, one of my technically capable tribe members set up a group phone call so we could all touch base personally. Normally, we all catch up a little before our Saturday 7:30 am meeting, then have breakfast together. It’s been a meaningful ritual for all of us. Today was certainly new and different, but it was just as meaningful for us to all be together, albeit on a phone call. And the meeting was GREAT. Kudos to WW for getting these virtual meetings set up. Connecting with our coach, studio team, and seeing everyone was incredibly settling and inspiring for me.
I tested a new recipe for breakfast this morning, and want to share it with you. It is Cottage Cheese Protein Pancakes from Livestrong.com: https://www.livestrong.com/recipes/cottage-cheese-protein-pancakes-5/. I posted it on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, so I made it today. I followed the recipe as written, except I used fat free cottage cheese 1) because it was one of the few cartons of cottage cheese left on the shelf, and 2) it was on sale. Not sure it would have made much difference in the taste of the final dish if I would have used the 2% cottage cheese. My final product did not turn out pretty, but it did taste good. I garnished it with fresh blueberries, and added about a teaspoon of real maple syrup to the plate. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and highly recommend you give it a try.
While home, with extra time on my hands I have been doing more interwebs exploration. I came across Flav City on Instagram, and really like his point of view. If you are looking for fun, healthy, and new takes on recipes, and to be entertained, check out this guy Bobby Parrish. https://www.flavcity.com/ and also on UTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/flavcity.
Junk food disguised as healthy snacks is more common than we think. Between sugar-free, gluten-free, low-carb, low-fat, organic, all-natural, and more, there’s an overwhelming amount of terms that you see on food labels. The confusion around reading these labels makes it easy to mistake something for “healthy”.
Here are just a few examples of “health halo” foods to avoid (hint: these are all processed foods):
Flavored yogurt – Packed with protein and gut healthy probiotics, yogurt is an excellent weight loss food. But don’t be fooled by flavored yogurt, it is loaded with sugary fruit. Opt instead for 0 fat or 2% fat plain yogurt and mix in your own whole fruits.
Veggie Chips – The “healthy” alternative to chips are just another processed food. Their bag might display photos of whole veggies, but these chips are actually pulverized vegetable flour mixed with oil and salt.
Fruit smoothies – Replacing meals with protein shakes may help you reduce your daily calories, which can help you lose weight. Eventually you will need to start eating solid food again, which may cause excess weight to return if you don’t choose wisely. And if you rely too heavily on protein shakes to replace regular meals, you’ll miss out on the nutritional benefits of whole foods. As a general rule, it’s better to eat, not drink your fruits. Pair your fruit with a cup of low-fat plain cottage cheese or yogurt if you are craving something creamy.
The moral of this story is to READ THE LABELS. Take your time in the grocery store and really read the labels. Learn the synonyms for added sugars and fats. One of my rules of thumb is “if you can’t pronounce it, it is not a real food”. Also, note the serving sizees. The calories, fat, sugar, etc. shown are for the serving size, not the entire package or can. If you are a WW member, couple this with utilizing the scanner on your app to check the points. Many “light” foods will be deceivingly high in points.
Easy, veggie forward meal prep today. Even though the calendar is inching towards spring, it is still going to be cold and rainy in LA this coming week. Bring on the soup! I created an Asian veggie soup using unsalted chicken broth, seasoned with coconut aminos (my favorite is from Trader Joe’s), garlic, ginger (the frozen Dorot cubes), dry mustard, coriander, and cumin, salt & pepper. This is my own mix of seasonings. Use what you like. I used every veggie I could think of that rang as Asian to me: fresh bok choy, mushrooms, snow peas, scallions. I also added celery because I had it in my house, and a handful of frozen edamame that I had in the freezer. I would call this a Green Asian Veggie Soup if I was a recipe writer :).
This has been a hard week for all of us. I did not go out and “panic buy” supplies and shelf stable food. I did, however, cancel all of my social plans for the weekend, even my hair appointment. I did shop at Trader Joe’s today so I could complete my meal prep. I was greeted at the door by a lovely, smiling woman holding hand sanitizer, offering squirts. Thankfully, the store was stocked fairly well, and the vibe inside was comfortable. As I checked out, I was again offered a squirt of hand sanitizer, which I again accepted. Stay calm, stay well, and wash your hands.