Saturday, August 18, 2012
Well, Spark Coach has asked me to record my quick and easy meal plans. Ha. Okay, I don't actually have meal plans per se. I am very consistent so I know week to week that we'll have one or two fish meals, beef for one night and perhaps one lunch, two or three or chicken meals and one or two where beans or nuts are the main protein. So, quick and easy is one protein served with a salad, a starch/grain, and veggies.
First of all, because of allergies, I can't eat: pork, dairy other than hard cheeses, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I limit sodium so I don't buy too many prepared foods other than bread. I do buy canned beans, tomato paste and diced tomatoes that are low sodium or no salt added. For tomato sauce I either make my own or use canned tomato paste and diced tomatoes mixed together with spices and fresh herbs. I don't add salt to food on my plate and I don't add extra salt to most recipes unless I'm baking, which I haven't done for the last three months.
I like to cook these things ahead: chicken, beef, kale, collard greens, beet greens and sometimes even potatoes. I'm not talking about massive amounts, that's only 1 to 2 pounds of chicken or 1/2 to 3/4 pound of beef; two to four meals. With the greens, I prepare them for cooking and if I have more than one bunch I'll split them in half and just cook half at a time. One bunch is usually enough for 2 - 4 cups. If this seems like a small amount, remember, I'm only cooking for two people.
I like to chop onions and peppers and other veggies, ahead of time. I will make and freeze (batch cook) things like chili or black bean chicken. You know, casseroles and slow cooker recipes that will freeze well. One of my friends likes to buy 5 or 10 pounds of ground meat and cook it all at once. She freezes it in 1 and 2 pound packages, then adds it to recipes as she needs it. My recipes change depending upon how nice the veggies are at the store and what's in season. Let's see if I can break that down.
-- Fruit Smoothies -- Unsweetened Almond Milk with frozen fruit: bananas, blueberries, cherries, mango, peaches. You can also add peanut butter, cocoa, or protein powder, which I don't use because it contains whey. Oh, my husband, T, adds yogurt to his.
-- Egg Beaters omelets -- I like the Southwest Egg Beaters with additions of sautéed veggies: 1 to 2 tablespoons of onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms. Served with whole wheat toast or light English muffins
-- Oatmeal or Quinoa served with fruit. I like to add Almond Milk to mine.
-- French Toast -- For a real treat, I'll soak the whole wheat bread in the regular egg beaters and serve it with 1/2 teaspoon Smart Balance with Olive Oil and some powdered sugar.
-- Big Salad with 2 ounces of chicken or salmon. I don't use prepared salad dressings. I use lemon, vinegar, or olive oil and vinegar if I dress the salad at all.
-- Sandwich with 2 ounces of chicken, tomato, lettuce, hummus*
-- Tuna Sandwich, sometimes I'll open two cans of tuna and divide it out into individual portions and add chopped veggies to it. Then I only need to add a lemon, hummus, or mayo when I serve it.
-- Mission White Corn tortillas, 6 inch size with hummus or beans, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheddar.
Snacks: Fruit Smoothies, 1 oz peanuts or almonds, fresh fruit. When I really need a sweet fix I'll have 1 or 2 mini peppermint patties. I'm able to eat one or two of these and not go crazy, although I think T is having a difficult time of it, my peppermint patties keep disappearing.
Winter menus include chili, goulash, and casseroles. I don't make them often in the summer because they tend to have more sodium in them. Most dinners consist of protein: chicken, beef, beans, salmon, or other fish; starches/grains: sweet or white potatoes, pasta, or rice, and I'm thinking of trying quinoa; salad with romaine and tomatoes, because I prep my salad greens ahead I just have to measure them out; vegetables: whatever is in season, although I only like peas fresh off the vine and I'm not big on corn. I like corn, it just doesn't like me.
-- Baked Chips (similar to french fries) -- Cover baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with Pam, which I wipe around with a paper towel. Slice or wedge sweet and/or white potatoes, toss into gallon baggie with enough olive oil to thinly coat and add fresh chopped rosemary, basil, Italian parsley, garlic powder and pepper. Yes, you can add salt even though I don't. You can use dried herbs instead, too. Add whatever herbs and spices you enjoy. I don't measure. I just add what looks right. Bake for 20-40 minutes at 375 degrees. The thicker and bigger the pieces of potatoes, the longer it will take for them to cook! I served these at Christmas dinner last year and they were a big hit.
-- We love stuffed sweet or white potatoes. I just bake them in the microwave or cut them length-wise and place them, cut side down on a foil covered baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 20-30 minutes. I cut the potatoes in half then weigh them (in grams) so I know what to put in the food tracker. Then I scoop the potato out of the skin, add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Smart Balance, 2-4 tablespoons shredded cheddar and about 1/2 cup of sautéed or steamed veggies. T likes to add hummus to his and he says it taste good with grated romano cheese instead of the cheddar.
-- Mac n' cheese (This is not a fast recipe because it does take time to prep the veggies, however, most of my prep is done ahead of time)
2 oz dry pasta, cook, drain and set aside.
sautéed vegetables, this varies depending upon what I have on hand and what I need to eat to balance out the day, but can include: 1 to 2 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon to 1/2 cup onion, peppers (red, green, jalapeño, poblano) and/or carrots. Then add 1/2 cup to 1 cup steamed kale, broccoli cut in small pieces add up to 1/2 cup water and steam broccoli. Uncover, then add cooked mushrooms, tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil last, stir these in until warm. Generally, it comes down to about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of steamed kale plus uncooked veggies per person. They cook down quite a bit. The steamed kale is the only veggie measured after it's cooked!
Stir into veggies 1/4 cup hummus* adding more water if needed or cooking it down if it's too wet. I've given the amounts per person. I cook this for two people, so I double the veggies and hummus and then divide it. Put veggies over pasta and stir it in.
Add 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, you can microwave until the cheese starts to melt. Sprinkle with 2 to 4 tablespoons parmesan or romano cheese. Serve with a tossed salad on the side. You can also divide the recipe in half and serve as a side instead of an entrée.
-- T's Hummus -- T makes this in the blender, but it can be made in a food processor, too.
2 cans chick peas (low sodium) drain and rinse one can, using the liquid in one for the recipe. If you drain and rinse all the beans use up to 1/2 cup water to get the right consistency and to be able to blend the beans. The hummus will be smoother if you use the liquid from the beans, but it will have more sodium.
juice from 1 lemon
1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 teaspoons Texas Pete hot pepper sauce. This is the salt in the recipe. 1 teaspoon of Texas Pete has 100 mg sodium. This recipe makes ~ 10 1/4 servings, so that's 10 mg per 1/4 serving.
Add salt to taste. If you don't add the hot sauce then the regular recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt. If you're not used to a low salt diet you will need to add salt.
T blends this for about 5 minutes (making a horrible noise). Blend it to the consistency you like. If you want it thinner, add more water. I use this hummus on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.
I love peanut sauce, but it has a lot of sodium. So my husband, T, and I played around with the recipe. We replaced the soy sauce with balsamic vinegar. We decided that we would make our own peanut butter. I put dry roasted, unsalted peanuts in the food processor and just run it until the peanut butter is smooth. That's it. I buy the 14 oz jar and process the whole thing at once. When I add peanut butter to a recipe, it's by weight.
Thai Peanut Sauce (low sodium)
4 oz (by weight) peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1 oz fresh ginger, finely chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
enough water to make a light sauce
Add peanut butter and the dry ingredients to mini food processor. Pulse until mixed. Add the lime juice and vinegar, process. Add water 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time until you have the desired consistency. It needs to be fairly thin in order to cover the noodles and the veggies. Of course, that might not fit in the mini processor. You can add more water or broth to your veggies when you steam them.
I love serving this on whole wheat spaghetti with sautéed and/or steamed vegetables. Sliced sweet and hot peppers, onions, bok choy, cabbage, julienne carrots, and broccoli are my favorites. You can microwave peanuts for 30 to 60 seconds to roast them and add them on top of the bowl to serve. The peanuts are the protein, but they do add a lot of fat, so you can adjust the recipe to suit you. My husband likes to put dried Thai peppers in his. (Too hot for me!) You can serve this with diced chicken, beef, pork, or fish if you want to add more protein.
Saturday, August 11, 2012
My friend, HANAHSCLOUDY talks about Spark Coach in her latest blog. She said at first she wondered if Spark Coach would be redundant, but she's found that it helped her get her MOJO back!
I was also wondering if Spark Coach was redundant. Instead I found Spark Coach makes me more accountable. It also helps me to see the good things I'm doing. I never feel as though I'm good enough and I don't handle compliments well, so I never give myself enough credit for doing well. I'm very hard on myself, however, it really does help to have someone tell me that I'm doing a good job and Spark Coach does that. Oh, don't get me wrong, my Spark friends tell me that, too and positive feedback is always welcome! I believe it's something we all need.
I have learned how to use the Spark People site, so I don't need much help with that, but at times I have found that all of the information can be overwhelming. There is so much information about exercise that I occasionally find it contradictory and confusing and when I've asked questions on the community message board I get even more confused. Perhaps with Spark Coach I'll be able to get a more definitive answer since I will be able to ask an expert. I like that Spark Coach directs you to specific articles that complement the video of the day because it gives me a clearer picture and it's not so overwhelming.
I'm thinking of continuing to use Spark Coach! I never thought I'd say that. Spark People is such a positive place to be and I've been able to build a solid foundation of good habits. Spark Coach goes even further and takes that positive attitude and provides a positive environment that helps to reinforce those habits. Of course, now I have to wonder, what happens in 12 weeks? Do you start at the beginning all over again? Just what is the next level, because I started in May 2012 with 100 pounds to lose and repeating the first three months over and over might have me tearing my hair out!
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Over the years I've been on many diets. What did I learn? All the things everyone else knows about diets, too. I also learned not to trust myself. I learned to tell myself that I can't. It didn't matter what it was, my answer was always the same. I can't. I can't lose weight. I can't exercise. I don't have to tell myself this, I just know I can't.
Ten weeks ago today I decided I can't. No, I mean I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE! I don't want to be the person who can't lose weight. I don't want to be the person who can't exercise. I don't want to be the person who seldom leaves the house. I don't want to be the person who can't believe in herself anymore, who can't trust herself.
Every week I worry that no matter how hard I work at eating right and exercising that it won't work. I tell myself if I can't trust myself, then I can trust SparkPeople. It works for other people, it can work for me.
Now I need to work at something else. Set a new goal: learning to trust myself.
I think that somehow, I need to get it through my thick skull that every step I take, every mindful choice I make is part of rebuilding that trust in myself. I'm strong. I know I am. In my life I've done things I never thought I could. I've faced those things and handled them well. Of course, I felt, at the time, that I had to face those things because it was the only way forward. This is the same thing, isn't it? I'm committing to a healthy lifestyle. That's not a frightening prospect, that's a joyous, momentous decision!
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