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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 20

Sunday, September 30, 2012

( Questions from TANYAP71's blog:

20. What are your favorite healthy foods? What healthy foods have you 'discovered' along the way to better eating habits?

One of my definite favorites is spinach. I was a "weird" kid who loved spinach (while being meh about apples). I've retained that to this day. Spinach may not have quite the iron level that prompted the Popeye cartoon, but it is chock full of goodness - iron, vitamin A, fiber, calcium, and recently learned by me, Omega-3s. How could I go wrong?

I also love whole-grain bread. I can't remember ever liking "Wonder Bread" style white, except as a base for egg-thick French toast (father didn't use French bread).

I don't know if it exactly counts as discovered, but in my work to improve my eating, one thing I discovered was how much salt most brands add to their cottage cheese. I found Lucerne offers a No Salt Added version. Since I always mix it with fruit in fruit juice, I don't normally notice the difference. (It is bland eaten plain, I will admit. I just never eat it that way.)

I also discovered diced pears, something else I normally find pretty bland, with vanilla and cinnamon. Makes a very tasty mix without adding any sweetener.

I (re-)discovered sweet potatoes, which I actually use instead of any sort of bread or pasta with my ground beef meals.

Last thing I discovered, as it were, is the protein powder I use (AllMax IsoNatural Whey Protein Isolate). It is unsweetened and unflavored, so it can be a base for just about anything and I control the sweetening and flavoring 100%.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOONSTORMER 10/1/2012 1:54AM

    i also LOVE spinach. awesome stuff!

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DIET_FRIEND 10/1/2012 12:39AM

    Nice to learn from someone who is serious about her diet!

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ILOVEMALI 9/30/2012 11:53PM

    My husband and I occasionally have a baked sweet potato for dinner (actually, we microwave them). I put a little margarine and brown sugar on mine; he likes his savory. Add a salad and it's a great meal!

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CRYSTLE4HIMTX12 9/30/2012 11:19PM

    I haven't a good sweet potato in ages. I am glad it is soon going to be that time of year. I buy up a bunch around Thanksgiving when they go on sale. emoticon

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NEELIXNKES 9/30/2012 11:15PM


I recently discovered the combo of sweet potato and black beans is pretty tasty.

Thanks for sharing!

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1EMMA2011 9/30/2012 10:08PM

    emoticon Great ideas!!

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SHAMAYO 9/30/2012 9:05PM

    It's pretty lame but .... I love apples and PB. Perfect snack. It is apple season right now so the apples are so good. Trying all the apples is fun. When I see a variety (like a pinova apple that was new) I just get one and eat it. I do this with any strange fruit or veggie. Fun food adventure.

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EVWINGS 9/30/2012 8:26PM

    Great discoveries. Isn't it fun to locate new finds?

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ZZYYGGY3 9/30/2012 8:08PM

    great job.

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BLC#20 - RINGO - Blue can "Carry that Weight"

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The blog title is honor of my grocery shopping. Including the duffel bag and grocery bag and 12-pack of 1-liter water bottles, my haul home from the grocery store made me weigh more than my highest ever weight (250.5). Me and everything I carried from the store to the bus and from the bus to home came in at 263.5 pounds. emoticon (After unloading everything, me fully dressed and just the backpack weighed 183.5 pounds. So 80 pounds I was hauling about.

Does that count as Strength Training? emoticon
(Don't worry, I actually did Crunches on a Ball for that.)

Things I am grateful for:
1) A body that CAN carry that kind of weight.
2) The fact I was carrying that as food and water and non-grocery items rather than excess fat!
3) That I live in a city with a useful public transportation system
4) A Harvest Moon that sits bright and beautiful in the sky
5) Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
6) Having plenty of room to enjoy some tonight
7) Non-seafood options to get Omega-3s
8) My spider plant doing very well (sprouting babies)
9) The distant smell of wood burning
10) That I haven't had a serious headache in longer than I can remember


I actually scored a nice deal tonight.

I've mentioned before that I was thinking about a crock-pot, but many of the recipes required searing the meat first. Since I only have a microwave available, that seemed to nix the idea. Until a emoticon suggested an electric skillet. Then another emoticon happened to mention getting a crockpot that automatically switches to warming mode. That would solve my other issue which is leaving the house at 7:30 am and getting home after 7:30 pm most nights, when recipes are usually 6-8 hours.

Off shopping I went (again, after my grocery shopping). First I found an electric skillet. Decent size, brand I know (Oster), and ... on sale! emoticon

Then I went around to look at the slow cookers. The baby ones (for one or two people) were really simplistic and I think I'd rather make something like stew for several meals than one-shot items. So I looked at the bigger ones. CrockPot, stainless steal, auto-warm when done ... on sale! emoticon

I got both for what the slow cooker alone would have cost me otherwise.

Of course, I didn't shop for them this week. One of my October goals will have to be picking a recipe or two and making them. I'm also excited because the skillet alone expands what I can have at home.

Today's letting go was a lot less emotional. I combined it with getting rid of some things that are too big. I'm letting go of more than half of the XL shirts I bought when I finally fit into them. (Not quite all - the ones that fit better are sticking around until I replace them. But all the ones that sort of droop hang now are in the donation pile.)

Well, now it's time to go check in at the campfire and pick a GOYBAD to do, as well as post one of my own - which will finish out my board today. (No seafood yet. Walnuts today.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IMELECTRIC 10/1/2012 11:29AM

    I just bought a steamer to use with my veggies and brown rice. After reading the instruction manual I found out I can also steam meat in it. Now I can do a whole meal in the steamer and it cooks quickly. I think you will like a crock pot and an electric skillet can double as a wok.


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EMGI129 9/30/2012 6:20PM

    Sounds like a great find. I love new culinary adventures.

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ILOVEMALI 9/30/2012 3:08PM

    Out with the old, in with the new. Check out the SP slow cooker veggie curry recipe!

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ILOVEMALI 9/30/2012 3:08PM

    Out with the old, in with the new. Check out the SP slow cooker veggie curry recipe!

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DIET_FRIEND 9/30/2012 2:49PM

    I used to schlep my groceries on the bus and train when I lived in Atlanta. I was in much better shape in the days when I didn't have a car. I have often remarked that the goodlife is killing me. Enjoy your new appliances. I have both of those. I use the electric skillet to make stuff in deep fat--not much lately of course! I think stir frys will be good in that machine andyou can make rice in the microwave! I love brown rice in the microwave and learned how to do it on the internet. Happy cooking and culling of fat clothes!

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MNJONES2 9/30/2012 12:09PM

    You are doing so well!! Carrying 80 pounds - woo hoo! You couldnt have done that when you started. Best wishes always!!

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HYDROQUEEN 9/30/2012 9:32AM

    Wonderful to have the ability to haul that weight around. Even better is being able to set it down. emoticon I'm a very frugal shopper and get tingles when an item I'm looking for is on sale emoticon You scored big with two! I love my crock pots and continue to find new uses for them. I only recently baked potatoes in the large one. My small one is perfect for a nice breakfast of steal cut oats. They are just so simple to use and with a few simple ingredients, you can have a healthy, hot meal waiting for you at the end of (or start of) the day.

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MICHELLE_391 9/30/2012 9:01AM

    What a wonderful day, and blog! You kept uttering my favorite words - "ON SALE." Love it.

That's a lot of weight to carry around. It is great that you were mindful of all the weight you no longer have to carry around 24/7.

I was also going to make the oatmeal suggestion, but another Sparkfriend beat me to it. Enjoy the skillet and crockpot, and be sure to let us know what you cook with 'em!

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YESCURLYCAN 9/30/2012 3:12AM

  emoticon on finding your cookware on sale and emoticon on carrying all that weight home. It reminds me of the biggest loser when contestants have the amount of weight they have lost in a back pack. You've come a long way. I will be looking forward to seeing how the crockpot and skillet work out for you emoticon

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PKCTTS 9/30/2012 2:49AM

    Sounds like an incredibly productive day. Can't wait to hear about all the new food adventures.

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REALLY_ROBIN 9/30/2012 12:26AM

  Oh one more's an excellent way to cook steel cut oats, since the oats don't boil over in the crock pot....but again keep an eye on how long they are in there.

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REALLY_ROBIN 9/30/2012 12:24AM

  I'm one of the contrary crock pot people out there. Oh I think they have their use...but cooking food all day...even if it switches to warm mode after a certain time, tends to ruin it for me. For me the food is over cooked. I do use it on the weekends though when I can keep better track of how much time the food is in there. Have fun experimenting...and I hope it works better for you.

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 19

Saturday, September 29, 2012

( Questions from TANYAP71's blog:

19. What 'unhealthy' food(s)/drink(s) do you refuse to give up? Any that you have given up completely?

I suppose my reaction to one part of a recent challenge is pretty telling in this regard. I refuse to give up sugar. Now, that does not mean I overload my daily menu with sweetened foods. It just means that I personally don't believe sugar is the devil or pure poison or any of the other catchy name-calling that gets done.

Now, that said, long ago I gave up soda - not for any sort of diet reason, but because I realized I was drinking way too much and not appreciating it at all. I'd drink it again IF it tasted at all good to me, but it doesn't. So the biggest possible source of added sugar isn't one that I have an issue with.

The biggest change in the way I eat isn't removing foods because they're "unhealthy" or "bad" - it's determining a workable balance that allows me to eat a combination of healthy foods and unhealthy foods I enjoy in a volume that properly sustains my body and activity level.


I would also expand a little. I love the fact that even the question puts unhealthy in quote marks. Because, really, what makes a food unhealthy? Everyone seems to have their own personal answer to that.

My best rule of thumb for what I'd consider the most unhealthy are foods that have a direct harmful effect on the body. One of my brothers is allergic to soy. It has a direct harmful effect on him. My best friend is lactose intolerant. He can get through the effect, but it's uncomfortable for him and generally a bit embarrassing until it passes through. My step mother had a friend whose daughter was so allergic to milk that a single 8 oz glass would have asphyxiated her.

Those foods in those circumstances fit my definition of unhealthy, but only to those individuals. They're all foods I can eat without negative consequence.

Beyond that, there is a scale of nutritional value. I don't think of a lack of nutritional value as making a food unhealthy. It simply isn't healthy.

There is also volume - portion size. Fudge is not inherently unhealthy, even given the fact it is candy, flavored sweetener basically. What IS unhealthy is eating more than a piece or two. Too many pieces too fast would overload ANYONE's body with blood sugar, result in an insulin rush, and a blood sugar crash. Not to mention the tummyache.

And thus, by the way I tend to view foods, very few if any are "unhealthy" unless they're eaten in excessive volume either alone or in conjunction with other low nutrition foods.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HOPEFULHIPPO 9/30/2012 3:00AM

    I couldn't help but to chuckle a little on this one. It was as if you were evading the question with other questions. don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it...just made me smile.

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TIMOTHYNOHE 9/29/2012 11:36PM

    Peanut butter. At least in the large quantities I like it in it's unhealthy.

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MICHELLE_391 9/29/2012 11:36PM

    At some point, Spark unsubscribed me from your feed! Boy have I missed a lot. I just clicked the button to resubscribe.

I like your definitions of "unhealthy" foods. I feel the same. Foods are only unhealthy unless they are truly poisonous, (to us or generally,) or if we use them wrong.

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BLC#20 - RINGO - "A Day in the Life" of Blue

Saturday, September 29, 2012


This week's Weekend Challenge for the Biggest Loser Challenge (BLC) round 20 (#20) is a variation on Bingo called RINGO in honor of the Beatles. Each square of the Bingo has a song title and an action related to that. The goal - to cover as many squares as possible.

One of the squares is "Paperback Writer" for which we must write a blog post. emoticon *COUGH* I don't think I've got a problem with that since I've also been doing a 30 Day Blog Challenge that is completely separate, but this blog can count as well. emoticon

Another square is "I'll Keep you Satisfied" for which we need to write down 10 things we are grateful for. Here goes that list:

1) I am grateful for my ability to see and hear the world around me.
2) I am grateful for chocolate.
3) I am grateful to have three grown children with whom I have a good relationship.
4) I am grateful to be alive - and not just alive, but doing better all the time.
5) I am grateful to have gone through my life so far without breaking any bones.
6) I am grateful for my mind and its constant thinking and connecting and learning.
7) I am grateful for the hundreds of fellow Sparkers who share this road with me.
8) I am grateful for technology - the internet and spreadsheets and texting.
9) I am grateful for the weather where I live (most of the time)
10) I am grateful for my feet and legs which carried me a LOT today.

Now, some of the squares are things I do consistently every day anyhow. I don't really need to list out what I did for them. I always track all my meals, I routinely get 5 freggies a day if not more, I walk a LOT, I read a health article on SP, and I try to have at least some fun sometime every day (what else if living for?)

But I did want to mention what I did activity-wise today.

Because, oh my goodness ... why is it I can plan to ease up a little on my workouts, then have a challenge come up and work out even harder instead?

I walked to work - brisk walk - 13 minutes to go about 3/4 mile. I did wall pushups at work. I walked from work, same deal, which also includes up a flight of 54 steps. I walked from public transport to a store and back - 16 minutes to go about a mile.

And THEN I went to the gym. What? You thought I was done?

One of the squares is "A Hard Day's Night" - which asked for us to work out hard for at least 20 minutes. Hmmmm .... what would I consider hard? AH! Something I haven't tried to do since when I first started going to the gym. The CARDIO program on the recumbent bike. That thing used to kill me in a couple minutes, the resistance too painful to push against long before my heart rate would get anywhere and I think I was pedaling in the 65-70 RPM range.

I gave up on that long ago and just did manual, upping my resistance gradually, increasing my speed gradually. My typical 60 minutes on the bike are at 8 or 9 resistance, sometimes doing intervals at 10, and usually pedaling 80 RPM with random intervals at 100 or a good song getting me going 90 without thinking about it.

Tonight? emoticon Cardio program, nicely in range in a few minutes, kept it up the entire time. I honestly felt like it was lightening the resistance toward the latter portion and noticed I was averaging 87 RPM because of the music I was listening to.

Then I remembered another square - "Run for Your Live" - go for a run (or walk/run). Now, I do not run. I do not jog. I walk a 14 minute mile. I keep that pace for an entire 5k and am not completely dead at the finish line. But combined with a square for "You Can't do That" to do something we think we can't do, I decided I might as well try at least some sort of walk/jog intervals. I was curious how badly I'd jog, after all. And even if I don't say "I can't run", I did have this inner resistant to even trying to run outside of doing so to catch a bus.

I ~DEFINITELY~ surprised myself. So, going straight from the bike to the treadmill, I don't really need a warmup, but I do a couple minutes at 4mph to get the treadmill rhythm going.

I take a deep breath, set it for 4.5 and press start. THUD THUD, this is too slow. Type in 5.0 and press start. Well, better, but I'm running into the bar still. Fine, up to 6.0. Ah, I can back off a little. I started alternating minutes - one minute 4.0, the next running. I upped it to 7.0 mph for the next two intervals, then down to 6.5 for the next. End result was 13 minutes to do 1 mile and I slowed it way down for the last two minutes as my cooldown.

I know I could have gone faster than 7.0 mph. I wasn't breathing terribly heavy. However, my heartrate by the third interval (I checked right after slowing down to a walk) was up to 162. My maxHR by the formula (220-age)=177, and 85% of that is 150. I was more around 92%. I'd be more worried, but in less than 30 seconds of walking at the 4mph pace I was down to 113 and it didn't feel stressful in any way.


So I'll be doing a bit more running each day through this weekend. I'm curious to see two things. How fast can I go (for at least a minute) -and- how long can I go at a pace like 7mph?

I really don't think I want to pursue "running". The impact level is not optimal for my foot (which thankfully handled it just fine - even feeling great right now) or my "girls" (triple Ds have to be very securely supported). In addition, my neck hurts. I was having to be careful not to clamp my jaw, but my neck and jaw were tense from the impact.

However, it was really nice to see how all the other working out I've done, none of which involved running at all, built up my endurance, lung capacity and muscles, bones, and joints so that my first foray into a run only had a brief calf muscle cramp that a quick stop, 15 second stretch, and go again took care of.

The last square that was a bit of a challenge for me, oddly enough, was "Let it Be" to let go of something or forgive someone that's holding you back. One thing I don't do is hold grudges. In fact, if I stay upset with someone, it's in my nature to start wondering why - to look for what ~I~ did wrong that makes me depend on the grievance to feel that I'm in the right.

Of course, the one person I really didn't forgive completely that came to mind was my mother. She passed away in July of 2009. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a prognosis of about six months to live. Because of an estrangement between us, and how her call to let me know that news went, I deliberately avoiding going up to see her in the first couple months. She passed away sooner, before anything was resolved between us.

While I'm not upset to have missed seeing her toward the end and I'm not upset that I didn't go to her funeral, I did realize that I've never really forgiven her for what led to the original estrangement. It's not really "her fault". It was a core part of her personality that grated with a core part of mine. (In my case, my extreme independence. I ~HATE~ letting anyone have the power to feel I owe them anything. In her case, generosity combined with a bad tendency.)

She may not be alive, but I can still forgive and let it go. (Just FYI, no point suggesting she's in heaven or to talk to her. By her faith, she is simply dead right now awaiting the resurrection in the future - at which time she will wake as though from a long sleep. (She was baptized a Jehovah's Witness, then disfellowshipped due to sinful behavior she didn't want to give up or repent of, but never stopped believing in their teachings otherwise.)

Part of forgiving was realizing how little time I spend thinking of her life, of the positive things she taught me, of what she meant in my life.

emoticon to a mother who may have been flawed, but did her best for all 9 children.

I credit her with my healthier eating habits. While my step mother went the "health nut" route of extremes, my mother went the direction of learning as much about vitamins, minerals, nutrients and foods. I remember her knowledge from books like Adelle Davis "Let's eat right to Keep Fit". If I'd only had my step mother to go by, I would probably have been eating a LOT worse than I did and do.

I remember whole wheat bread, which I've loved most of my life, and peanut butter ground in a machine at the store so no added oils, sugars, or salt. I remember her cooking liver for her third husband because he needed things like extra iron. I remember papaya pills (loved those ... not even sure if they're around any more because I haven't looked).

She provided me with a place to stay a few months to get back on my feet because I would ~NEVER~ go back to my father's house while my step mother lives, and possibly not even then.

I remember she loved orange marmalade. (I never got used to orange spread on peanut butter.) She loved oranges and tangelos and the smell of them as she peeled and separated them is linked with her in our memories.

She loved being active and physical, rock-climbing and hiking with us often. I believe she was in her 50s when she fell, broke her collar bone, was air-lifted out, and COMPLAINED the whole time that she was fine even though she'd been unconscious. She didn't let it stop her from getting back out there after it was all healed up.

She very uncannily showed up outside my mother-in-law's apartment where we were staying at almost midnight ... 5 minutes after my water broke, taking us to the hospital where DDa showed up less than two hours later.

Well, I've got an 11:30 pm bedtime planned, so best I end this off now.

I can't say "I'm so tired" (I feel somewhat wired actually), but soon you'll be able to say "I'm only sleeping".


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IMELECTRIC 10/1/2012 11:38AM

    After reading this I remembered why I always want to read your blogs. I wish more people could examine their own feeling and emotions.

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RG_DFW 9/29/2012 4:41PM


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DIET_FRIEND 9/29/2012 3:03PM

    This s a speacial essay that you've written. I think you ought to make a hard copy.. I love the tribute to your mom. I have a complicated relationship with my dad.

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ILOVEMALI 9/29/2012 11:54AM

    Forgiveness is a great way to lose weight, isn't it. I was part of a "last words" exercise, and what I chose as my last words that day was "I forgive you." I felt so light and free.

Loved the grateful list. Am with you there!

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ALWAYSOWNIT 9/29/2012 11:46AM

    This blog is really beautiful..I have such a way with words and you are honest..thats the thing I love about you the most...

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SASSY5468 9/29/2012 11:16AM

    Another amazing and inspirational blog! I'm so glad that you've come to terms with your mother. I'm still working on that through therapy :) It's not easy. Great work with the run and biking!!! I know how it feels to realize that you're healthy enough to do certain things now :) Keep up the fantastic work!

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KALANTHA 9/29/2012 9:39AM

    What a cool challenge and it looks like you're doing great with it!!!

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CATHLEENT3 9/29/2012 7:32AM

    I found your blog very touching this morning. I recently lost my mother, and we were best friends, sorry you and your mom were estranged, you precious memories are so sweet. As far as the running, I could see, while reading it, this is how it starts!!! I tell myself I will never be a runner, but when I am logging my walking miles I always wish I had time for more, running would be the solution.

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AHTRAP 9/29/2012 4:32AM

    Kept waiting to see if they used Sgt peppers songs (a spice challenge, perhaps?). A thoughtful, and thought provoking diary, as usual.

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SHAMAYO 9/29/2012 3:15AM


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FITNFUNJEN 9/29/2012 2:32AM

    Your blog today really touched me! I'm so impressed with all that you did today for the challenge. Letting go can often be the toughest even when we are good at letting most things go! You did great today!

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30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 18

Friday, September 28, 2012

( Questions from TANYAP71's blog:

18. Do you have a go-to meal for days when you have to be on the go, no time to stop to eat and no refrigeration/cooler available?

Funny part in reading this question is realizing that while there are days I have to be on the go and there are times I have no refrigeration/cooler available, I really do not allow for a situation where I have "no time to stop to eat" longer than 4-6 hours. It's simply unacceptable and I make things work out so I have an option to eat.

The big thing for me is that my "meals" can be little more than several snack items mixed together to meet nutritional needs. Some tomatoes, half a cucumber, a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and I'm fed.

Non-perishables such as granola or trail-mix eaten as a periodic snack would be the go-to if I was going to be away from home. I'd plan my meal for when I got home. (I do eat dinner "late" by some people's standards, so that doesn't bother me.)

If I'd have a microwave available, I know it's not the most nutritious thing, but there are non-refrigerated dinners available - such as canned or packaged pastas. Some actually could be cooked in a pan of water over a fire - or eaten without heating if the situation warranted.

Beyond that, looking at the question more in terms of meals that take very little time to prepare ... almost all of my meals fit that bill. Very little that I eat tends to take more than 10 minutes at most to prep, cook, and serve.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKFRAN514 9/28/2012 10:16PM

    meal planning is what I find the hardest to do but its getting easier as time goes on and since i love P& J lunch is a snap for me to fix just need to decided what kind if jelly or jam to use have a good week end happy meal planning

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TIMOTHYNOHE 9/28/2012 8:52PM

    No time? Gosh. I don't have any packaged meals other than soups, but a spinach salad topped with some canned tuna, salmon or beans. A good go to meal.

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ILOVEMALI 9/28/2012 7:15PM

    Food is weird. Lately, I really don't care much about what I eat. If we go out, that's one thing: if at home, I really don't care. What does this mean?!

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