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Spicy Shrimp w/ Veggies & Rice: A Fast & Easy Weekday Dinner Meal!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Spicy Shrimp w/ Veggies & Rice: A Fast & Easy Weekday Dinner Meal!

We all lead busy lives and it can be a challenge to eat healthy when we’re so busy.

I’ve heard myself say many times “I’m too tired to cook.” So since joining Spark People I want to prove to myself that cooking a healthy evening meal doesn’t have to take an hour.

Yesterday was one of those days. We had to deliver fresh vegetables – 5 varieties of potatoes and 4 varieties of winter squash to the college food service and catering company, where my husband teaches agricultural classes. They are having a Native American Thanksgiving buffet next Tuesday. Then it was a couple stops: auto savage lot for parts for a skid loader; grocery store, etc. (A 40 mile+ round trip).

I hadn’t even gotten my exercise in for the day by 5:00 p.m. (I needed to do at least a 45 minute walking DVD) and I had to do that before I’d even start cooking.

So here’s what I made for dinner:

Spicy Sautéed Shrimp with Garlic, Asian Medley vegetables and Jasmine Rice.
Shrimp was on sale at the grocery store for $5.00 a pound; I bought a package of frozen vegetables: Birds Eye Steam Fresh Asian Medley and I had a nice bag of Trader Joe’s Jasmine Rice in my cupboard.

The shrimp recipe took about 5 minutes to cook since I used fully cooked, frozen large shrimp that I thawed under cold running water in a colander in my kitchen sink. I made the rice in my microwave using the “Rice” setting. I used one cup of rice and 1-1/4 cup of water.

The vegetables came in a steamer package and took 6 minutes to cook in the microwave.

NOTE: I used only 1 pound of shrimp – the recipe calls for 1-1/2 pounds; I used paprika instead of the red pepper flakes, as I was out of those.

(The Spicy Sauteed Shrimp with Garlic recipe comes from Prevention.)

Spicy Sauteed Shrimp With Garlic

•1 tablespoon olive oil
•2 teaspoons butter
•1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (40--45 pieces), peeled and deveined (I used a 1 pound package of shrimp)
•1/8 teaspoon salt
•1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
•3 large garlic cloves, finely slivered or chopped
•1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes ( I used paprika instead of the pepper flakes)
•1 tablespoon lemon juice
•1 tablespoon chopped parsley or basil (optional)

1. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the butter is melted. Add the shrimp, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until just slightly translucent inside, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes more, lowering the heat if the garlic begins to color. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Serve sprinkled with parsley or basil (if using).

1 Package Birds Eye Steam Fresh Asian Medley
1 Cup Jasmine Rice cooked with 1-1/4 Cup Water.

Made 4 Servings.

1/4th of Shrimp recipe: 232 calories
1/2 cup of Jasmine Rice: 160 calories
1 cup Asian Medley Vegetables: 50 calories
Total per calories per serving: 442 calories

You could eliminate the rice and just serve the shrimp with the vegetables, too!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

COOKWITHME65 11/6/2010 5:18PM

    Sounds great. I always have some trader joes frozen brown rice on hand and usually the asian veggies. I just love those. I will have to keep an eye out for some shrimp on sale and remember to try the jasmine rice a trader joes on my next visit. I love shopping thee. Thanks for a quick and easy meal idea.

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JAYDEE14 11/6/2010 12:36PM

    This is a keeper!

Easy & spicy!!!


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JIMCROCE 11/6/2010 11:49AM

  Looks like a great recipe. I would use raw shrimp and cook it about the same time, turning halfway through.

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ROSEWCI 11/6/2010 11:41AM

    Oh my Maria! This sounds absolutely delish!!! I LOVE shrimp w/veggies!!! LOVE the garlic (being Italian & all!)!!! And the best part is ....'s QUICK & EASY!!! emoticon

ALL my favorites! I will put this on the menu for the week! Thanks so much!!!

emoticon Rose

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EMAVERICK 11/6/2010 11:36AM

    My son would like this. I haven't used shrimp for a long time, just kinda forgot about it.

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Finally Taking Action – I Can Create My Own Reality!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Finally Taking Action – I Can Create My Own Reality!

I printed off the “30 Days to Greater Happiness” calendar here on Spark People for November.

Today is Day 5 and it says:

Take action. If you don’t like your job or other life circumstances, make a plan and take charge. You create of your own reality, and you can change your life if you’re unhappy. Start today!

This really got me thinking. So today is more a personal journal entry that I will share.

A year ago this month I found myself contemplating a major change in my life.
I had been working in business for over 30 years – 28+ was in the banking field.

A person doesn’t stay in a job you don’t love or at least like for 28 years. So for the most part I enjoyed my job. The customers I served, the work I was doing, the co-workers who would become dear friends – one a lady now 85 years old. (She taught me that friendships have no age barriers. She was a wonderful co-worker that became a dear friend as well.)

I worked at a job that offered me many opportunities and I got the chance to work in many different areas of banking. I was 22 years old when I started the job.

Since then, my life and the business of banking has changed.
As I approached age 50, I wondered if there was ‘something else’ I wanted to do, could do?
The thought was always there, but I just couldn’t move forward with it.

With the economic times we are in, my employer needed to make changes internally to cut costs and to run the business more efficiently.
My job in the lending department was eliminated and I was transferred to another area in the bank. While I wasn’t thrilled with the move, I was thankful to have a job. I tried to make this new job work – I gave it six months.
It was more than just the work I was doing.
I had worked the last 10+ years in a department where my co-workers were very positive and supportive people. Something I realize now that is very important to me. I like positive, supportive people!

I was transferred to an area where people were a bit less supportive and their moods were at times almost volatile. Not a very pleasant working environment.

This was just the nudge I needed to finally realize that I could “create my own reality and change my life,” since I was now so unhappy.
I was fortunate enough to have the support of my family and the opportunity to figure out what the next chapter of my life holds.

I came home to the farm.

I started working more with our livestock, our wine grape vineyard, built a high tunnel greenhouse to start commercial vegetable production and just took time off to breathe, to think and to plan MY future. It’s been a summer of learning.
Learning that I can break out from something that isn’t working anymore for me.
To finally realize that I can take a ‘leap of faith.’

Change was and always has been scary for me.

Believe me, God and my faith has been here to guide me along the way – helping me with each step I have taken and each step I need to take.
I pray each day for guidance and direction...and it comes.

While I don’t have it ALL figured out yet, I know that it took an event that made me so unhappy that I had no choice but to change my life.

I didn’t stay in a secure, but uncomfortable place just because it would have been easier.

I finally took action and am doing something about making my life more the way I truly want it to be.

And my adventure here at Spark People with my weight and health is also part of my finally taking action and creating the life I truly want to be the main character in!

My Life!

Change was hard and scary…but so worth it. I’m more accountable, happier, healthier, calmer and feel like I am worthy of whatever the next stage of my life has in store for me.

With God's help I will embrace each day of the rest of my life.
I am so thankful for the opportunity of each day!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EMAVERICK 11/6/2010 11:41AM

    That was a wonderful read, and inspiring! Thank you :)

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THINRONNA 11/6/2010 4:21AM

    Maria! What a wonderful post! You know that I agree with you whole heartedly. You are truly and amazing and brave person to be able to make such a leap and find a new and happy life for yourself. I really feel like recognizing when something isn't working for you and daring to make change is key to a happy and genuine life.

You have such a positive attitude and a zest for living! I have the same problem you do with people who have too much negativity in their daily lives. I cannot stay around them or in a place that doesn't make me feel good. I honestly do not understand people who can complain every day about their situation and do nothing to change it. you are so right when you say that you can create your own reality. This is real life...this is what we get you have to make the most of one else is going to do it for you.

You are living the dream lady! It is wonderful that you have the support of your family in this endeavor of yours. If I was back in MN I would support you too. Patrick and I used to love to work with the farmers there and visit their farms. It was always fun when they would show up at the door of where we worked with beautiful produce picked that very day too!

You are an extraordinary person and I so look forward to seeing where this leg of your journey takes you!

Thank you for sharing this post with us.
Your friend,

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BIGMAMAT 11/5/2010 9:13PM

    Thanks so much for sharing your life with us. You are a beautiful person and you deserve to be happy! hugs. Tricia

Comment edited on: 11/5/2010 9:13:58 PM

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REEDSKI 11/5/2010 6:38PM

    I love this.
Change is scary!!!
You are so talented and creative!
I am so impressed and amazed!!!
And JEALOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seriously, I am!!! But I'm very happy for you.
You deserve the calmness!

Comment edited on: 11/5/2010 6:39:31 PM

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    Great blog Maria! I found it very inspiring for me as well. So many people take the secure, yet unfulfilling route in life and end up regretting it. You took a leap of faith into a better life. You are my hero. Have a great weekend!

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ROSEWCI 11/5/2010 2:08PM

    I'm so glad you took the initiative to take care of you, Maria! I always think that when we follow what's in our heart, we just can't go wrong. I do believe people always know what they need to do in any given situation. They may be afraid to act because it may take them into the unknown, which can be quite frightening!

You obviously knew in your heart what you needed...& you acted! I'm so glad you're enjoying your new life adventure! Life can be delicious, don't you agree?!!

emoticon Rose

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SHELLEY147 11/5/2010 11:50AM

    Great post! Good for you for taking control and making your life what you want it to be!!!

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I Like to Eat Real Foods for Energy.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I Like to Eat Real Foods for Energy.

I was reading (December issue, Prevention magazine) about a “new crop of drinks, bars, chews and even gels” that promise “instant pep in convenient packages.”

While I have tried several meal replacement bars and energy bars…I haven’t even tried 5-Hour Energy drink, Red Bull or anything like that.
A can of diet cola with caffeine or a strong cup of coffee is something I have once in a while to pep me up.

I know my daughter’s generation (she’s a college student) uses some of these quick energy boosters. Like 5-Hour Energy.

Are they helpful in really increasing your energy level?

The article in Prevention looked at 6 products.

Most didn’t deliver on their promise. (I urge you to read the article for more information.)

My point here is that I’d sooner eat real food for my energy if I could.

Prevention gave several suggestions and I want to share a few of those with you here. (See the article for the complete list.)

1. Fruit Smoothy – the fruit’s carbs and yogurt’s protein help to keep blood sugar steady: Blend ½ cup of fat free milk, 3 T. low-fat vanilla yogurt, & ½ cup frozen raspberries. 210 calories.

2. Dove Rich Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds – provide filling combo of carbs & protein – plus a heap of healthy fats from the nuts. 13 pieces is 210 calories.

3. A Banana & Peanut Butter – a medium banana provides energy, while the protein in the peanut butter (2 tsp.) digests slowly to keep you feeling satisfied and energized longer. 170 calories.

What foods or snacks do you turn to for a ‘pick me up’ when your energy is running low?

Please, share them here. I’d appreciate hearing what is helpful for you.

For me, string cheese and nuts are what I usually reach for. I'd love to try some of your ideas, too!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REEDSKI 11/5/2010 6:43PM

    I can't live without fruit smoothies. I saved the recipes you posted. I never thought of putting pb in a smoothie. But I've had a pb craving lately so I'll try it.

Since I've given up ice cream (because I can not control myself) fruit smoothies are my go-to dessert and special treat and reward.

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SNARDEESNIFF 11/5/2010 11:51AM

    Thanks for posting this, Maria!

I like fruit with either low fat cheese, nuts or natural peanut butter.

I also have low fat or fat free yogurt with active cultures, preferably also reduced sugar; add in 1/2 serving of wheat germ.

And Walmart's bakery has a tub of granola that I consider a really healthy dessert. A full serving sounds a little high in calories, fat and carbs, but since it has such healthy cals, fat and carbs, I often make room for it in my day, sometimes eating a smaller serving. I also like it because it has NO SODIUM! It has oats, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, raisins, cranberries (dried), sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. It does contains honey, sugar, maple syrup, and some oil, but it is worth it! It is called Harvest's Best Granola. It comes in a clear, plastic tub.

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THINRONNA 11/5/2010 10:56AM

    I eat all natural no sugar added peanut butter on whole wheat bread. When I had a blender I used to have smoothies for a pick me up.

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MAMADWARF 11/4/2010 10:47PM

    I will eat some almonds or a luna bar or I will have 10 peices of peanut butter pretzel nuggets. Or I will have some sort of fruit or those little applesauce cups...

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BIGMAMAT 11/4/2010 10:29PM

    Chocolate! Oh Maria! now your talkin. haha. You always have the best blogs! emoticon

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SHELLEY147 11/4/2010 9:12PM

    my favorite snacks that keep me going...

-apple w/ crunchy peanut butter
-string cheese
-trail mix (it's called "energy blend" at Aldi's)

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ROSEWCI 11/4/2010 8:24PM

    I'm a grazer I don't really let my blood sugar have a chance to dip! I do have my coffee in the morning, but I've never tried these energy drinks. They don't make much sense to me. I always combine a protein w/a helps stabilize blood sugar. So I'll often have greek yogurt w/a piece of fruit. Today it was with a banana. I'll have a piece of cheese (babybel) w/something like grapes. I've had a saltine cracker w/a tbsp of almond butter. I try to keep it simple. My eating is never fussy...

emoticon Rose

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JR1952 11/4/2010 4:11PM

    Those energy drinks, just like excessive caffeine, can give you heart arrhythmias. I cannot take keep taking them could lead to A-fib. I stay away from them all.

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    I used to do four energy drinks a day. There will be days would I would just crash and sleep for hours, plus get the shakes. So didn't work for me. Energy for me is ice cold water, super cold. Gets me up and perky!

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MRSBENNETT2 11/4/2010 3:38PM

    I think I tried a can of some herbal energy brew once years ago and wouldn't drink it. That stuff is nasty! A young man who is a cashier at a store I worked at would slam down two or three of those TALL cans each shift and he ended up with severe gout in his foot. My go-to energy boost has always been peanut butter on whole grain bread, but since I'm going to quit wheat I don't know what I'll do. Peanut butter on rice cakes?


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Recipe Re-Make: Winter Fruit Salad with Light Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Recipe Re-Make: Winter Fruit Salad with Light Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing!

Several years ago I got a recipe from my niece for a very delicious winter salad.

She had brought it to a family Thanksgiving and it was a big hit!

While I just adore it, I wanted to reduce the sugar and fat in it, and still retain it’s wonderful flavors.

The ‘body’ of the recipe is fine. I’ll keep the romaine lettuce, the Swiss cheese, the cashews, the dried cranberries, the apple and the pear.

(You could decrease the amount of Swiss cheese and cashews to save some additional fat and calories.)

What I will revise is the Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing.

Here is the original, wonderfully textured and flavored recipe:

Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing


•1/2 cup white sugar
•1/2 cup lemon juice
•1 Tablespoon grated onion
•1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•2/3 cup vegetable oil or light olive oil
•1 tablespoon poppy seeds

•1 to 1 ½ head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
•1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
•1 cup roasted, salted cashews
•½ cup dried cranberries
•1 apple - peeled, cored and diced
•1 pear - peeled, cored and sliced


1. In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds, and process just a few seconds more to mix.

2. In a large serving bowl, toss together the romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple, and pear. Pour dressing over salad just before serving, and toss to coat. Serves 6-8.

Here is a Lighter Dressing Version I am going to use this holiday season.


1/4 cup Olive Oil Mayonnaise
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup low-fat milk
4 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon peel
Grated onion & Dijon mustard, to taste


1. Add light mayonnaise, fat-free sour cream, low fat milk, sugar, vinegar, poppy seeds, lemon peel & grated onion & Dijon mustard to a small bowl and whisk together until smooth.

2. Cover and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

One cup dressing.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHELLEY147 11/4/2010 7:05PM

    wow, this sounds so good! I'll have to add it to my healthy recipe box!! THANKS!

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WINFIELD28 11/4/2010 5:22PM

    I like SNARDEESNIFF's suggestion to use honey instead of sugar in my revised Lemon Poppyseed Dressing. Great Idea!

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COOKWITHME65 11/4/2010 11:33AM

    This sounds really good. May make it for sunday's roasted chicken dinner. Thanks Maria.

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SNARDEESNIFF 11/4/2010 11:27AM

    Hi, Maria. This sounds like a good recipe. Do you think that honey would be a good substitute for the white sugar in this recipe? I do use sugar, but I try to sub it when I can and honey is good in lots of dressings.

Thanks for the recipe, Maria! Blessings and hugs,

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ROSEWCI 11/3/2010 8:50PM

    Mmmmmm...I LOVE poppyseed dressing! I've never had LEMON poppyseed dressing, but I do LOVE lemon...& fruit too! This recipe is for just right for me!

Thanks Maria! You are too good to us! emoticon

emoticon Rose

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Another Pumpkin Soup Recipe…with Pureed Black Beans & Tomatoes.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Another Pumpkin Soup Recipe…with Pureed Black Beans & Tomatoes.

I’m still on a Pumpkin Soup recipe kick.

Yesterday I made one titled: Gourmet Black Bean Pumpkin Soup.

The recipe came from Gourmet magazine back in November of 1996.

It’s another hearty and healthy recipe: full of lots of Vitamin A and fiber.
When I did the nutrition calculation, I wasn’t very surprised to see that 1 cup contains 132.8 % of your daily Vitamin A & 9.3 grams of fiber!

It calls for black beans (3 cans!) diced tomatoes AND onions, shallots & garlic – all 3!

We had a bumper crop of shallots this year and I was wondering how I was going to use them up.
This recipe calls for a ½ cup minced shallots.

While the recipe includes half a pound of diced ham, you could omit that ingredient and it would still be very tasty.

Also, reduced sodium broth could be used instead of the regular broth. And you could use vegetable broth instead of the beef broth as well.

If you would like to see the entire nutrition profile on this recipe, please go to the SparkRecipe section where I have also entered it.

*Note: I did not use the dry sherry when I made the recipe yesterday – as I didn’t have any on hand; I just eliminated it and I did not include it in my nutrition calculations either.


Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

Gourmet, November 1996

Yield: 9 cups

Three 15 1/2 ounce cans black beans (about 4 1/2 cups), rinsed and drained
1 cup drained canned tomatoes, chopped (I did use with the liquid)
1 1/4 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup minced shallot
4 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
4 cups beef broth
a 16-ounce can pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup dry Sherry
1/2 pound cooked ham, cut into 1/8-inch dice
3 to 4 tablespoons Sherry vinegar

Garnish: sour cream and coarsely chopped lightly toasted pumpkin seeds

In a food processor coarsely puree beans and tomatoes.
In a 6-quart heavy kettle cook onion, shallot, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened and beginning to brown. Stir in bean puree. Stir in broth, pumpkin, and Sherry until combined and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes, or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Just before serving, add ham and vinegar and simmer soup, stirring, until heated through. Season soup with salt and pepper.

Serve soup garnished with sour cream and toasted pumpkin seeds.

A chunk of crusty bread would be spectacular with this soup, as well!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

COOKWITHME65 11/3/2010 1:08PM

    Wouldn't you know I was at trader joe's yesterday and forgot to buy the cans of pumpkin. I have to start making a list. Sounds great. I love black beans.

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EMAVERICK 11/3/2010 12:02AM

    Sounds yummy! I have too much food in my fridge right now to make anything new emoticon

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AMAS92568 11/2/2010 11:11AM

    Sounds good!

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