Easy Comfort Food Meal Prep

Pinto Bean and Soyrizo Casserole

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.

Scenes from my weekend walks: gorgeous skies, plants and flowers in full bloom, a 25 square hopscotch course, and beautiful sidewalk chalk drawings

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Find me on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marshaleeg54/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marshaleeg/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/

The New Normal

Challenging Times

Stressed Season 1 GIF by Friends - Find & Share on GIPHY
This has been me the last few days

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.

Cottage Cheese Protein Pancakes

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.

Take care, my friends.

Find me on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marshaleeg54/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marshaleeg/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/

Be Aware of Foods That Have That “Health Halo”

Eating Mindfully Part 2

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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 :).

Pairing my Green Asian Veggie Soup with chicken breast that I marinated in coconut aminos, garlic, ginger, mustard, coriander, and cumin then oven roasted, and roasted broccoli and red bell pepper.

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.

A few shots from my walk today. I am lucky to live just a few blocks from Santa Monica Bay. It was quite crowded there this afternoon. Seemed a perfect place to be outside, in public, while still remaining “socially distant”. At least I got some exercise, and got in some great people watching.

Find me on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marshaleeg54/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marshaleeg/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/

Eating Mindfully

What Does It Mean To You?

While visiting my dentist last Monday morning, he was advising me to not eat almonds, or at least to chew more softly on them when I do eat them. He said most people chomp on their food instead of just chewing. It reminded me that most of us rush through our meals and snacks thoughtlessly. Protecting the integrity of your teeth is yet another reason to slow down. Truth. This is a gentle reminder to try to slow down when you eat. Sit down at the table. Have a place setting. Maybe a candle or a floral decoration. Turn off the media. Talk to your family, friends, or partner. If you are dining alone, put on some music. And chew slowly. Savor every bite.

I read a great article this week in O Magazine, the March 2020 edition, about how eating healthfully, making mindful food choices can impact our moods, and yes, even our overall mental health. More psychiatrists are asking patients about what they have been eating, along with whatever other questions they normally ask. It’s the same thing I do regarding the anti-inflammatory diet I try to keep myself on to avoid taking a lot of anti-inflammatory meds. Besides being conscious of what we eat regarding our weight, we need to be conscious of how the foods we eat affect other aspects of our health. I can’t find a link to the article, but it is called “Can You Eat Your Way Happy?” by Sunny Sea Gold.

This week’s meal prep is an easy “no cook” tuna stuffed bell peppers. The ingredients I used were inspired by my anti-inflammatory diet, and the article in O Magazine because I’ll try anything to help calm my daily stress. By the way, water jogging 3 times a week is also a key factor in helping me manage my mood levels. It allows me to decompress at the end of the day while getting a great ab and aerobic workout.

Colorful peppers, tuna, and dark leafy greens are mentioned prominently in the article to help us regulate our moods, so those were the base ingredients for my desk lunches this week.

Tuna stuffed peppers on top of a dark leafy “power greens” blend
The small containers on the right side of the photo are my 2 tablespoon salad dressing containers. Very handy.

Into the tuna I mixed just enough light mayo (35 cal/ 1 point for 1 tablespoon) to moisten it, then I mixed in generous portions of diced celery and red onions. I then filled halves of large red peppers with the mixture. I will plate these at work on top of my “power greens” blend, which I will dress with just a little bit of Bolt House Classic Ranch dressing (45 cal/ 2 points for 2 tablespoons). The other ingredients are all 0 points on the WW Blue Plan. I plan to bring either a portion of Trader Joe’s 3 Seed Beet Crackers https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/3-seed-beet-crackers, which I love, or one of my 2 point WW bags of chips along too for a little crunchy component.

Thank you for joining me today. Make it a great week, and take care of YOU!

Find me on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marshaleeg54/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marshaleeg/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/

Fresh Meal Prep Ideas

Thinking Out of the Box Today

I came up with some fresh ideas today for my meal prep. I’ve been getting tired of my breakfasts. I haven’t even posted them recently. I eat at home every morning now, so I don’t really need to “prep” perse, just need to have healthy things in the house at the ready. I have been switching off between cultured cottage cheese and yogurt bowls with cinnamon, ground flax and chia seeds mixed in and topped with berries, oatmeal with the same mix ins, or scrambled eggs topped with salsa and wrapped in an Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla. All good, healthy choices. But I’m bored.

A couple of months ago I started a new Pinterest board called Healthy Breakfasts Sans Eggs (https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/healthy-breakfasts-sans-eggs/) inspired by those of you in the WW Facebook groups that were looking for healthy breakfast options, and don’t like eggs. Last week I came across a recipe that I pinned, and have not been able to stop thinking about – Sweet Morning Potato with Yogurt, Maple Syrup & Nuts. I’m not big on anything that is too sweet any more, much less breakfast, but this idea intrigued me. And I know it won’t really be that sweet. Today I roasted 3 large sweet potatoes, which I will cut in half for my servings, and top them with non fat Greek yogurt mixed with my ground flax and chia seeds, drizzled with a little maple syrup, and toasted walnuts. Not only does this fit into my WW maintenance plan, but it fits into my anti inflammatory diet as well. Yogurt and sweet potatoes are both good for that, and for building up my immune system. Here is an article I found showing more: https://www.marthastewart.com/1542077/foods-healthy-immune-system?did=489992-20200212&utm_campaign=martha-stewart-living_newsletter&utm_source=marthastewart.com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=021220&cid=489992&mid=29641328065

The fixings for this week’s breakfasts. And here is the recipe:
https://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-sweet-morning-potato-with-yogurt-maple-syrup-nuts-recipes-from-the-kitchn-9080

For lunch I hacked a slow cooker spinach and artichoke chicken recipe into a stove top version. Usually slow cooker recipes are my go to, but the poached chicken aspect of the original recipe didn’t appeal to me today, so I reworked it. Here is the original recipe, which is a great one. Love the flavor profile: https://www.thekitchn.com/slow-cooker-chicken-spinach-artichoke-recipe-256184

My version of spinach and artichoke chicken

I used all of the ingredients in the original recipe, but I did a stove top version – using ground chicken breast. I started with a diced shallot over medium heat, let that get a little translucent and soft in my pan, then added 1 lb of ground chicken breast, and seasoned that with salt & pepper. I then added 2 cubes (or 2 cloves) of the frozen garlic cubes, and let the chicken cook through. I combined 1/4 cup each of dry white wine, fresh lemon juice, and chicken broth, and deglazed the pan, lowered the heat, and let the liquid reduce to about half. That took about 10 minutes. I added the drained artichoke hearts, which I cut in half, then started adding the baby spinach in batches as it wilted.

I also wanted a “noodle” to go with this, so I cooked the half bag of red lentil penne I had in the cupboard, and combined it with a can of Palmini linguine to use as a bed for the chicken mixture.

I honestly don’t know the calories/ points of this dish, but I do know that it is veggie based, and overall very clean and healthy. It has flavors that I enjoy. And that is what matters.

Don’t be afraid to re-imagine your recipes and experiment. It’s fun, and you might surprise yourself with how well they turn out.

Thank you for joining me today. Make it a great week, and take care of YOU.

Find me on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marshaleeg54/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marshaleeg/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/

Tea Time

Tea as Medicine

Tea is not just for parties with fancy sandwiches and scones. Not only can food be used as medicine, but so can a variety of teas. Over the last 10 years or so, I have gotten in the habit of finding foods and teas to help with my aches, pains, and ailments first, in place of meds. As you know, I am no expert, so here is a comprehensive article on the benefits and medicinal qualities of all different varieties of teas: http://www.skrewtips.com/tea-as-medicine.html.

There was no “meal prep” per se this week, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t plan my meals. I’m having turkey wraps using Trader Joe’s Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip as the spread. And a cup of a veggie based soup.

Wrap ingredients: Ole whole wheat wrap, green leaf lettuce, applewood smoked turkey breast, and a slice of light jarlsberg cheese. Can easily be assembled at my desk. The tortilla should be heated up in the microwave for a few seconds first.

I also prepped slow cooked “baked apples”. I had a few Gala apples aging in my refrigerator, so I decided to slice them up and put them in the slow cooker for a little light dessert for the week. I sliced them, left the skin on, and threw them in the crock pot with a couple of tablespoons of light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and just a tiny bit of butter. I cooked them on high for the first hour, and on low for the second hour. I took them out while they still had a little bite to them.

Any comments, critiques, and questions are always welcome.

Find more on my social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marshaleeg54/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marshaleeg/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/

Make it a great week, my friends. Remember to give yourselves some love this week.

A Gift to Myself

Cancelled my Routine for the Weekend

This is what the middle of my morning looked like. We all needed some down time.

I am a woman who thrives on routine. I have a routine every morning of the week, and my husband and I have the same routine every night. Every night. I am not complaining, as that routine does include him cooking for us every night. I do like and appreciate that. My daily routine during the week is important. It keeps me on track and focused on the task at hand, which is building a business from scratch with my boss, and staying on my weight and fitness journey. It’s all working. The business is starting to go, and I have lost about 6 lbs since we started putting me 6 lbs under my WW Lifetime goal weight. My weekly Sunday meal prep is key here, as are my workouts.

Normally I get up early on Saturday’s and Sunday’s. My WW workshop with my beloved tribe is at 7:30 am. On Sunday’s I am usually at the pool at 8 when it opens. Honestly, these are both fabulous ways to start my weekend days. At the end of this past week, I was feeling super tired, and decided to switch things up so I could get a little extra rest. Yesterday I slept in, went to get a vitamin B12 shot, which I do about once a month. I then went to the gym to swim laps, and came home to decompress for a couple of hours before my hair appointment. Today I slept in again. It felt so decadent. Went to breakfast with my husband, then on to the market for my weekly groceries, so I could do my meal prep for the week. I will go to the pool later this afternoon to water jog. Note that I am not skipping any workouts or steps that will take me off track in any way. I am just off my normal routine.

Here is a list of some of the benefits of Vitamin B-12, if you are interested:

For lunch this week, I had a pasta craving, but wanted to swap out the pasta. I also wanted to make a warm 1 pot meal. This week’s desk lunch is Turkey Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash. Here is the original recipe I used: https://therecipecritic.com/turkey-bolognese-spaghetti-squash/.

Recipe Ingredients. Veggie forward!
The cheese is a garnish. 1 point, or 20 calories for 1 oz
Finished products. I had a taste. Very Yummy 🙂

I really did follow the recipe for the bolognese. It is full of fresh vegetables and lean turkey meat. I didn’t measure out the veggies. I eyeballed them, and added more than the recipe called for. I also added a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for a hint of heat. This recipe called for roasted spaghetti squash, but I used the micowave method. It was just easier and less time consuming. Here is how you do it: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-spaghetti-squash-in-the-microwave-223928 . This was an easy dish to prepare, and took about a 90 minutes, all total. The last 45 minutes, the sauce is cooking.

Thank you for joining Baby Boomer Mermaid this week. Watch for more on my Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest pages throughout the week:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/marshaleeg54/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marshaleeg/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/

Make it a great week! Remember your WHY, stay focused, and take care of yourselves, my friends.

2020 – Taking Control to Make it Great

Setting Intentions for the Year to Come

What a whirlwind of a year it’s been. Frankly, overall, it was not a good year for me, but I have come away feeling stronger for it, and very grateful. Most of all, I am grateful for my good health, and the good health of my husband, family, and friends. We are all so blessed. One thing I know for sure is that no matter how much money you have, good health is everything. Without it we have nothing.

My intention for this year with regard to my health, wellness, and fitness is to continue on my path of becoming physically stronger. This past month I met with a trainer at my local 24 Hour Fitness, where I have a free membership thanks to Medicare and Silver Sneakers. If you are not aware of the benefits you are entitled to, check it out here: https://tools.silversneakers.com/. The meeting with the trainer is a free perk for joining the gym, whether you are with Silver Sneakers or not. Ask about it at your gym. The trainer showed me some new stretches and strength building machines that are right for me. I am excited to expand my fitness repertoire with at least 1 day a week in the gym. Of course I will continue to lap swim, which is my passion, and water jog, which has turned out to be the best thing to manage my lower back pain. I also intend to stay on track with my weight maintenance, and that means mindful meal planning and prepping.

Over the past few weeks, I have been off of my routine with holiday work hours, and general holiday shenanigans, so meal prep has been off the table, as it still is this coming week. But meal planning is not. It’s all in the grocery shopping. I’ve made sure that I have the following on hand:

Progresso Light Soups (140 – 180 calories for the whole can)

Ole Whole Wheat Tortillas (50 calories each)

Fresh veggies and fruits

Oatmeal

Unsweetened almond milk

Non fat plain Greek yogurt, as well as low fat cultured cottage cheese

Trader Joe’s Spinach Kale Yogurt Dip

Also, lean proteins for meals and snacks like eggs, turkey breast, smoked salmon, light string cheese, and hummus.

Decadent 1 point breakfast: Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla topped with non fat refried beans, and scrambled eggs with salsa
Roasted Delicata Squash was a great little treat to have around the house. It tastes like candy. Just follow these simple prep directions – Place seeded squash halves cut side down on a cutting board. Slice into 3/8-inch slices. Transfer slices to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil; add salt and pepper, or any seasoning you like. Toss to coat squash with oil. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Arrange squash pieces in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Place in preheated oven until bottom of slices is browned and squash is tender, 12 to 18 minutes. Enjoy with the skin and all!
2 point lunch – Ole Whole Wheat Tortilla topped with Trader Joe’s Spinach & Kale Yogurt Dip, Everything but the Bagel Smoked Salmon, and a sliced hard boiled egg seasoned with Everything but the Bagel Seasoning. Add a little sliced tomato and/ or cucumber for more fresh veggie goodness.
Lastly, I want to show off my contribution to our family Hanukkah celebration. My beloved Sister in Law, Cynthia invites family and friends every year to a fabulous all homemade dinner for 40 + people. Bringing the fruit for dessert is the least I can do to help. The pan on top contains the best of winter fruits: black grapes, fuyu persimmons, opal and envy apples, cara cara and blood oranges, and Asian pears. The bowl contains the tropical side of fruits in season: kiwi, pineapple, papaya, and mango.

My wish for you all is for a HAPPY, HEALTHY, SWEET, AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!

And remember – Focus on results, and you’ll never see change. Focus on change, and you will see results.

Thank you for joining the conversation. Your thoughts, critiques, and meal prep ideas are always welcome. I look forward to hearing from you.

Find me on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marshaleeg54/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marshaleeg/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marshaleeg/

See you in 2020!