Hello friends, it’s been a minute or two since I have blogged. Life is busy and good! Between multiple family simchas, working full time, swimming 3 – 4 times per week, and generally staying active, I have not had a chance to sit down and write. Throughout these past few months my routines have helped keep my weight the same and my anxiety controlled.
Here is a peek into my weekday routine –
I start my day the same way every day. I do some simple yoga stretches to warm up my muscles and get my blood going (find an easy routine that suits you. https://tools.silversneakers.com is a good place to start). 3 mornings a week I swim laps at 7am. I am so lucky to have the most beautiful outdoor pool in my neighborhood. On the off days I take a walk when I get home and listen to music or a podcast.
For my work lunches I always prep something simple using whole, clean foods. I do play around with Trader Joe’s products to help make meals easy, interesting, and tasty. This week I used their Shakshouka Starter, which is a spicy stew of tomatoes and peppers, and I baked chicken breasts in it. Yum! I pared that with fresh organic broccoli, which I blanched, then seasoned with S&P, and a little nutritional yeast for a little more flavor and also TJ’s frozen mashed sweet potatoes that I had sitting in the freezer. I always have seasonal fruit with me for my afternoon snack. This week it is seedless red grapes, and cherry plums. Other snacks that I keep around are low fat string cheese or Laughing Cow cheese wedges, 100 cal granola bars, and 100 cal nut packs. I am always prepared for the unexpected, as I never know when I will be called away from my office for a meeting.
Earlier in this post I mentioned Podcasts. There are a few in particular that I have found inspiring and helpful in my journey, and I want to share them with you ~
Real WW Talk – this one is almost as good as attending a meeting. Love these gals.
Losing 100 Pounds with Corinne – she is to the point! No BS. (do not listen if you are easily offended by foul language)
Half Size Me – honest weight loss and maintenance coaching
And lastly, the Hungry Girl podcast. Lisa Lillian is a wealth of knowledge, and I really enjoy listening to her and her crew. They critique all of the latest products from the major grocery retailers.
Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to read this. I hope that it has inspired you in some way in your journey to better health. Please send any questions or comments.
Hi! It’s been a while. I have been concentrating on keeping up with my hectic work schedule while balancing my home life, fitness plan, meal prep plan, and staying in touch with family and friends. This is all part of my self-care practice.
This year I plan to expand on my self care by allowing myself more time to rest. Over the holiday break, I really rested. The value of that rest really resonated with me, and I have made getting more of it my top priority for this year, and making it a lifelong priority. My 2nd and final goal for this year is to learn how to swim a decent back stroke. That’s it.
This week’s meal prep is as yummy as it is pretty. Crock pot Thai Chicken Curry from The Endless Meal: https://www.theendlessmeal.com/crock-pot-thai-chicken-curry/. I followed the recipe, but used Tofu Shirataki noodles in place of the vermicelli, and also added Trader Joe’s Power Greens, a tablespoon of white miso for added gut health, and tofu for added protein..
I have been lucky enough to keep on swimming every other day. On my off days I am walking. Here are a couple of beautiful views from recent walks around my Santa Monica neighborhood.
With today’s meal prep I have embraced the flavors and fresh produce of fall.
My work lunch this week are mini turkey meatloaves with roasted delicata squash and mashed sweet potato. I cheated and used Trader Joe’s frozen mashed sweet potatoes. This is extremely convenient, as they come in cute little patties, so you can really make whatever portions you want. The entire bag is 3.5 servings, with 10 pieces per serving for 110 calories each. I only put 3 pieces in each of my dishes. The only ingredient in these is sweet potatoes. My recipe inspiration came from Cooking Light: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/petite-meatloaf-dinner. I actually followed this recipe to the letter, as I don’t have that much experience with turkey meatloaves, and wanted to be sure that it came out moist and flavorful. The only difference would be that I used regular old fashioned oats instead of quick cooking oats. This honestly was so easy. All was done on a sheet pan.
I changed it up for breakfast this week too. I love my blueberry yogurt bowls, but had been searching for something new. When I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Apple Chia Porridge, I knew this was what I had been looking for. Here is the recipe: https://www.wholesomelicious.com/pumpkin-apple-chia-porridge/. I used reduced fat coconut milk in place of the full fat that they called for. I will be topping this with fresh blueberries, and my homemade granola.
My husband and I got into the habit of eating deserts after dinner during the shut down. That has been a habit that frankly, I have enjoyed. Being a Lifetime WW member, the deserts morphed from yummy homemade baked products, which we all experimented with during that time, to 100 calorie frozen yogurt bars. Our favorite is Yasso. We also have been enjoying Breyer’s no sugar added vanilla ice cream with berries and/ or chocolate sauce (a little goes a long way). So now that it’s fall, I wanted to move on, or at least take a break from the ice creams. Today I made baked apples. I cannot tell you how wonderful my house smells from them. Here is the recipe I used: https://cookieandkate.com/baked-apples-recipe/. Okay – we might put a little scoop of that vanilla ice cream on them…
And finally, my one of my favorite seasonal fruits is back – persimmons. Try them!
But Still Meal Prepping Every Sunday! #mealprepsunday
I know. I haven’t posted a blog in forever. The reason – I have been living my best life!
I have been prioritizing myself, my family, and my friends since the world has opened back up. But don’t misunderstand – I have continued doing meal prep every single weekend so that my work week is covered with healthy, low calorie/ low WW point meals. Today I happened to do a more extensive meal prep than I have in recent months, and this one I wanted to share with you. I did this in between my morning swim, an afternoon massage, and a mani pedi.
First, I chose a few very simple meal preps: a veggie detox soup, oven roasted chicken breasts marinated in my chicken shawarma dry rub, and a baked sweet potato. I started by getting organized, and making my shopping list yesterday. I was at Trader Joe’s when they opened this morning at 8. When I got home, I made the soup, which took about 40 minutes total (I bought all of the soup ingredients pre-cut except for the zucchini). I then prepped the chicken with the dry rub. I went off to my 11 am swim, leaving the finished soup to cool, covered on the stove, and the prepped chicken covered in the refrigerator. When I got home this afternoon, I turned on the oven, sprayed the dry rubbed chicken breasts with olive oil, added sliced red onion to it, then put it in the oven with the cleaned, prepped sweet potato. Luckily their oven temp and cooking time are the same.
This particular soup is one that I wanted to have handy to eat anytime, so I made extra. I found these brilliant cup cube freezer trays to store it in. They are rubber, so I will be able to pop out a 1 cup portion when I want it, and continue to store the rest. And my husband will be able to help himself as well any time.
I hope I have inspired you to take your work lunches into your own hands. Plan ahead. Make a list. Organize your day, and make it work!
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!
As you may have noticed, I have taken an indefinite break from blogging. I love this blog, but am working to find a new balance in my life. Now that we are working past the pandemic, and life has gotten busier again I just feel like I have to catch my bearings again. I don’t want to loose myself in the new faster pace of life. Thank you for staying tuned.
Today I just wanted to quickly share my meal prep for the week. Recently I purchased a small case of kelp noodles. It seems that I am always on the hunt for any new “noodle” that isn’t pasta. I had them at a Poke place before, and liked them, but had forgotten about them. When I saw them on a Hungry Girl blog I ordered them immediately. Here is some info about kelp noodles: https://www.verywellfit.com/kelp-noodles-89922
With the inspiration of good friend, Stacey, who mentioned the combination of the kelp noodles with Trader Joe’s frozen Beijing vegetable mix, I put together what turned out to be one of my best work lunches ever! And it’s 0 points on WW Blue.
To my wok, I added low sodium vegetable broth, a little tamari sauce, maybe about 2 tablespoons, about a tablespoon of white miso, 2 cubes each of frozen garlic and ginger, and about a teaspoon of Sambal. That is the sauce. When that got hot, I added the frozen veggie mix and frozen edamame, and let that all cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring. Towards the end I added the chopped bok choy, and kelp noodles and let that go for another few minutes. I wanted to keep the bok choy a little crunchy.
I came across an article this week in my April issue of Good Housekeeping (they started sending it to me for free) that I found fascinating. Did you know that there are areas of the planet known as the Blue Zones? Blue zones are areas of the world where the highest percentage of centenarians live. These areas include areas of Italy, Japan, Costa Rica, Greece, and believe it or not, Loma Linda, CA. In addition to having the highest populations of centenarians, these areas boast extremely low rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The saying goes, “You are what you eat.” There are a few simple changes we can make to our diet in order to increase our odds of living to 100. Here are few of the common foods, which are available at our mainstream grocery stores that are popular among the centenarians.
Legumes (especially chick peas, lentils, and fava beans)
Goat and sheep milk and cheese
A variety of fruits and vegetables
Whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal
Small amounts of fish or other lean meats
Herbs and spices like turmeric, fennel, and garlic
Tea and wine
In addition to eating lean and clean these people stay active. I’m not saying they run or swim miles, but they stay active by walking, gardening, and doing housework. They have a sense of purpose, things that motivate them in their every day lives. They also take time in their days to decompress whether it be by meditating, or praying. They do not eat until they are stuffed. They stop eating when they are 80% full. Lastly, they are committed to their families and friends. They take the time to nurture their relationships to reinforce healthy behaviors, and to build valuable, loving memories.
My meal prep idea for this week actually came about before I read the article that inspired me today, and it just so happens to be lentil salad. In keeping with my desire to eat mostly plant based, and with the weather turning warmer, I was drawn to this simple recipe from Skinnytaste: https://www.skinnytaste.com/lentil-salad/. Instead of making the lentils from scratch, I used Trader Joe’s steamed lentils (found in the produce section). I mixed them with Trader Joe’s mire poix, which is a mix of fresh precut carrots, onions, and celery, a red bell pepper, diced, fresh parsley, chopped, the juice of a whole lemon, about a tablespoon of olive oil (for the whole salad) and then seasoned it with dried thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. All of these ingredients are based off of the original recipe. Easy peasy. This will be great to eat this week with matzo. If it was not Passover, I could also eat it with rice cakes, or with my favorite crackers.
Speaking of Passover, here is a fresh take on toasts that I came across in the same magazine. These are made with matzo for the holiday, but I think these healthy and yummy toppings are inspiring as toast snacks on your favorite bread or crackers any time.
Here you have avocado toast with shaved cucumber, peanut butter, blueberries, and bananas, strawberries and cream, and hummus with radishes and chives.
I might actually end up subscribing to Good Housekeeping. I am finding some very relevant, interesting things in there. Who knew?
Anyway, you all have a fabulous holiday week whether you are celebrating Passover or Easter. Enjoy!
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!
Today I had some fun experimenting with my air fryer! As I am trying to stay veggie centric with my meal preps, I decided to take on the falafel this week. Here is the recipe I used: https://www.skinnytaste.com/air-fryer-falafel/.
I followed this recipe as closely as I could. It calls for 1/3 cup each parsley (I used Italian parsley), cilantro, and scallions. I honestly was not sure how to measure herbs like that, so I used my instincts, and although these came much greener than the photo in the original recipe, they definitely have the right flavor profile, but taste a little more herby. I am pairing these with my take on a Mediterranean/ Israeli Salad. My salad consists of Persian cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, red onions, and Power Greens. I made a tahini dressing seasoned with sumac and lemon, which you will find here: https://www.crowdedkitchen.com/mediterranean-salad-with-falafel-and-sumac-tahini-dressing/#tasty-recipes-3598-jump-target
Last week I got stuck with a bad bag of Gala Apples from my beloved Trader Joe’s. Can’t always get it right! Anyway, instead of tossing them, I sliced them, sprinkled them with cinnamon and a dash of salt, and air fried them. Here is where I got the idea: https://www.hungry-girl.com/weekly-recipes/air-fryer-apple. These little morsels will take the place of blueberries in my yogurt bowl breakfasts this week.
As I am publishing every other week now, I had a full day last Sunday, so my meal prep had to be quick. I pulled out Trader Joe’s Hearts of Palm Pasta, and mixed it with their Bruschetta Sauce (thank you, friend Stacey for that idea). I paired the “pasta” with Trader Joe’s Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage. This was a truly delicious combination, and took no time to put together. I will say that the box of “pasta” says it is 3 servings. I am here to tell you that it is more like 2 servings. Also, the “pasta” did not keep all the way through the week. My advice is to eat this within 2-3 days of prepping it for best results.
Trust me, I would be no where without my meal prep routine with regard to my WW maintenance plan. I hope I have inspired you today to play with your food a little. Experiment with foods from other cultures, and flavor profiles. Expand your palette! The interwebs is full of fabulous culinary inspiration. Check it out. Here is a page that will give you a head start: http://Best Food Blogs for Weight Watchers Recipes.
Lastly, here is a little reminder for you:
Make it a great week! As always, I am open to any and all of your comments, critiques, and questions. Send them to me!
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.