A Look Back – My Favorite Meal Preps of 2020

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:

Fritatta prep from Brunch All Day, August 9. Recipe inspiration: https://www.loveandlemons.com/frittata-recipe/
One Pot Spinach & Artichoke Chicken Pasta from Reality Check, September 14. Recipe inspiration: https://www.thekitchn.com/one-pot-spinach-artichoke-chicken-pasta-recipe-23073220
Homemade Healthy Granola from Take Care of Your Heart, October 11. (I make this all of the time now. It has become a breakfast staple for me, topping my yogurt blueberry bowls almost daily). Recipe inspiration: https://cookieandkate.com/healthy-granola-recipe/
Garbanzo Bean Greek Salad from In Gratitude, August 30
Very Veggie Turkey Meatloaf from Making Clean Eating a Priority from June 17. Recipe inspiration: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/recipe/very-veggie-turkey-meat-loaf/5c993ed35e84d2001c1cf17f
Spinach and Tofu Miso Soup from Managing the Holiday, December 6. Recipe inspiration: https://www.marthastewart.com/1159033/miso-soup-tofu-spinach-and-carrots.

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.

Other baking favorites from this year that did not get photographed were: cherry oatmeal bars from: https://shewearsmanyhats.com/almond-cherry-oatmeal-bars-recipe/; fudgy brownies from: https://www.skinnykitchen.com/recipes/super-fudgy-brownies/; and my long time favorite, pumpkin spice cream cheese muffins (which I make into bars) from: https://drizzlemeskinny.com/pumpkin-spice-cream-cheese-muffins/

You can find many more healthy and yummy recipe inspirations on my Pinterest boards: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/_saved/. Also, find additional content on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marshaleeg54, and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marshaleeg/

This was also a year of lots of long walks, and video streaming. Two of my favorite discoveries from streaming are: https://www.youtube.com/user/flavcity with chef Bobby Parrish, whom I have learned so much from this year, and Chef Jamie Oliver, streaming on Hulu: https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/category/books/5-ingredients-quick-easy-food-recipes/. Both are so inspiring and are great teachers. Check them out.

It’s hard to admit that I have any favorite memories from the first shutdown that went from March to June, but this was a cool moment, seeing ducks swimming in the pool next door to me back in April.

What will 2021 bring? Who knows? My prayers are for enough vaccines for all, and peace in the world.

Wishing you all a very Happy, HEALTHY, and Prosperous New Year full of Joy and Love!

Take Care of Your Heart

Watch the salt, my friends.

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.

Homemade Granola Baby Boomer Mermaid style

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.

Salmon pinwheels. I put a little avocado oil in the bottom of my baking dish, and just seasoned these with freshly ground black pepper. I baked them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. The internal temperature of salmon should be 135-140 degrees when done.
Fresh chopped salad prep for the week

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!

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Birthday Week

During the Pandemic

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.

The fixings for this week’s lunch prep.
And the finished products. The Parmesan cheese mix will top my lunch plate.

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.

Super simple, healthy veggie and egg prep for the morning

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.

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