I have been fooling around with recipe conversions in baking for as long as I can remember, substituting applesauce for oil, experimenting with sugar substitutes, adding pumpkin or other fruits or vegetables to recipes, using egg whites, etc.
My paternal grandmother was the quintessential home baker, and I always wanted to be her, except at a healthy weight. Granted, I bake mostly very simple things like bars, and crisps. Grandma Kate baked the most beautiful challahs, cookies, and coffee cakes. Her kitchen was like a little baking factory. I have experienced many successes as well as failures with my baking experiments, but today was a grand success and I wanted to share it with you. I know Grandma Kate is proud.
As you can see by my photo, I used peanut butter powder in place of creamy peanut butter, slashing the fat and calories (and WW points). I also used a low sugar fruit spread in place of regular jelly. I did also use Splenda brown sugar instead of regular brown sugar. I used the same measurements as called for in the recipe. I am blown away at how delicious and creamy and peanut buttery my blondies are. Please give this a try.
I want to call out another recent baking success – another recipe for you to try. No substitutes needed. This brownie recipe is written perfectly: https://www.skinnykitchen.com/recipes/tag/skinny-brownies/. These are delicious, and came out perfectly both times I made them in recent months.
I’m getting busier at work, thankfully, while making maintaining a balance in my life that gives me enough downtime/ self care time. To that end, I decided to keep #mealprepsunday super simple this week. Yesterday I went to Trader Joe’s and bought a package of Nova Lox, 2 cans of tuna, veggie burgers, a bag of Power Greens, and a bag of Broccoli Slaw. My pantry and refrigerator contain everything else I need to turn these ingredients into work lunches for the week. I have 100 calorie multi grain English Muffins (3 points), Everything Bagel Thins (3 points), Ole Whole Wheat Tortillas (1 point), and the fixings for the homemade classic vinaigrette I enjoy so much. Today I put together the tuna with celery, diced red onions, and light mayo I had on hand, and the salad dressing. My other options, the lox sandwiches, and veggie burger sandwiches can be put together on the fly at work.
During what I refer to the “dog days” of the quarantine, my husband and I started eating serious deserts after dinner. Ice cream, gelato, ice cream novelties, and the like. My clothes started getting a little tight…. During the last few weeks since we have both been getting out of the house again during the day for work, we have made adjustments. I have been prepping fresh summer fruit to have after dinner most nights. We do still indulge in a cheat dessert or 2 on the weekends, but the fruit has been working great for us. The first week, I cut up watermelon. Last week, I prepped strawberries, and bought whipped cream to have with them, and this week we are doing the same with cherries. It’s all been really delicious and satisfying.
For breakfast these days I switch off between yogurt, banana, berry bowls, with a hard boiled egg, and scrambled eggs topped with salsa, and rolled into an Ole Whole Wheat tortilla, with a banana. These choices work for me, and keep me full until lunchtime. Easy peasy.
Clean eating involves choosing minimally processed, real foods that provide maximal nutritional benefits. As I have embraced the anti inflammatory diet over the last several months my choices have begun evolving more towards cleaner food choices. I have cut back on my cheeses and processed meats.When I do choose a sausage, I read the label to make sure it doesn’t have too many preservatives or questionable ingredients. For more information on how to incorporate clean eating into your routine, here is a comprehensive article to get you started: https://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-how-to-eat-clean
As the world opens up, and we are so excited to be going back to work, to restaurants, and retail stores, I feel like we should also embrace some of the wonderful things we discovered about staying home. During quarantine, my walks took the place of the pool for me in that I exercise, I use the walks for meditation, and also as a social outlet enjoying phone visits with friends and family. I learned to sit still without television and/ or devices out in my patio, and to just relax. These are things I want to hold on to, as I ease myself back into the world. I don’t want to be as busy as I used to be, or as harried. Taking things at a slower pace is keeping me more centered and focused. I am adjusting how I organize my time and priorities in order to keep this mindset. Of course I still can’t wait until the pool reopens….
Trader Joe’s Riced Cauliflower Stir Fry was my inspiration for my lunch prep this week. To bulk it up, I added sauteed fresh bok choy and shiitake mushrooms, and the rest of the frozen edamame I had in my freezer to the mix. The basic flavor of the TJ’s cauliflower rice mixture is really good as is, but I wanted to give it a little more oomph, so I added cubes of frozen garlic and frozen ginger to my stir fry, as well as a little coconut aminos. I like Trader Joe’s coconut aminos best. Other brands tend to be a little too sweet for me. Of course you can use soy sauce, low sodium soy sauce, or Tamari sauce as well to achieve that umami flavor. To pair with the veggies I marinated boneless skinless chicken breasts overnight in my husband’s famous teriyaki marinade, and oven roasted them (roasting instructions: https://pin.it/7cFsfZI). Honestly you can’t go wrong with this combo of flavors. And your house will smell amazing. I encourage you to try this recipe. You’re welcome :).
Here is the basic recipe with the changes I made for my meal prep noted:
Spuds Aloha Zesty Hawaiian Marinade; developed by Michael Gronfein
1/2 cup soy sauce (I used TJ’s coconut aminos)
2 tablespoons oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
1 teaspoon mustard (I used dry mustard)
1/2 teaspoon ginger (I used dry ginger)
2 cloves garlic (I used a teaspoon of granulated garlic)
Pepper (I used a couple of pinches of red chile flakes; sriracha sauce is great in this as well)
Make it a great week, my friends. I know we are still going through some very tough times, but as bad as 2020 has been so far, there is light to be found here. We are on the road to real positive social change in our country, as well as a vaccine for Covid 19. Please be good to yourselves.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.