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Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

Detox Day

I had a not-so-stellar weekend in the food department. There was a cookout with friends Friday night, a wedding reception on Saturday evening and the doughnut box at church Sunday morning.

foods I don’t normally eat + a couple too many beers + not enough fruits & veggies = an icky tummy

Monday morning I was still feeling a little sluggish, mentally and physically. I was a little disgusted with myself for falling off the wagon. Why did I eat what I did? I’m all for indulging on occasion so I don’t feel deprived, but some of the things I ate didn’t even taste good while I was eating it. The more I Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda’d on myself, the worse I felt and the harder it was to get my mind around a way to get back on track.

A trip to the gym for strength training was on my agenda, but I struggled to find any motivation. I drug my feet, stalled and tried to think of a good excuse. I couldn’t come up with one. The words of a friend kept running through my brain:

No one has ever regretted working out.

Those words have saved me many times and this was one of those days. I got dressed, put Peanut in the stroller and we headed out.  The fresh air started to rejuvenate me a little bit and the 1-mile walk to the gym got my head in the right place. I still felt pretty ‘blah’ during my first set of deadlifts, but once the endorphins kicked in, I was unstoppable! I increased my weights on almost every exercise and really kicked it into high gear on my treadmill intervals afterward. My friend was right (again). I definitely didn’t regret my workout. It was the perfect way to get back-on-track for the week. I could practically feel my bad weekend choices being sweated out. 🙂

The sun was shining when we left the gym and headed for home. I really wanted to take Peanut for a longer stroll, but I had agreed to watch a friend’s daughter for the afternoon and didn’t have enough time.

For lunch, I made a batch of Kath‘s Chickpea Parmesan aka Chickpea Pizza Scramble. It was so quick and easy to make. And it really does taste like pizza. So yummy! I subbed leftover zucchini for the eggplant and parmesan cheese for the mozzarella. We only had cheddar in the fridge and that just didn’t sound appealing. The recipe says it makes 2-3 servings, but I divided mine into 4 (to get more meals out of it) and served it with a little whole wheat couscous.

When I spotted the recipe, I tweeted @KathEats to see if it would reheat well. She tweeted back that it probably would, just to leave the cheese off and add before serving.  I portioned out the leftovers and, Voila! Quick, healthy grab-and-go lunches. (Note: I had another portion yesterday for lunch and Kath was absolutely right. It reheats extremely well.) It’s amazing how eating something really healthy can make you actually crave more healthy food. 

My afternoon was spent playing outside with two very energetic one-year-olds. It felt like a bonus workout. 🙂 Once Peanut’s play buddy left, it was time to start dinner, Pork Lo Mein.

I found the recipe in my Weight Watchers Ready, Set, Go! cookbook. One thing I really love about the new PointsPlus program is that it “rewards” you for eating more whole foods rather than processed junk. Most of the recipes in the new materials reflect this so I feel like I’m making something healthy rather than something that’s just low in calories. (Disclaimer: I do work for Weight Watchers so I’m a little biased.)

This one was a hit in our house! My husband really doesn’t care for soy sauce so it’s hard for me to find any Asian foods that he’ll like. This one definitely made the cut. He ate two portions, Peanut plowed through some “noo noos” (noodles) and I enjoyed mine, too. A side salad was the perfect accompaniment. I’ll be making it again for sure. and I both enjoyed it and Peanut was loving the noodles. I’ll definitely be making it again!

I got a serious sweet tooth right before bed, but I grabbed a handful of blackberries instead of chocolate. I wasn’t confident that it would kick the craving, but it does. I went to sleep feeling much better, inside and out.

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PLANKS Challenge Week 1 Recap

For my first week of the PLANK challenge, I tackled plank on my forearms. My goal was to do this 4x per week and I did it!

Here’s what I accomplished:

Day 1: 1 minute, 2 sets
Day 2: 75 seconds, 2 sets
Day 3: 93 seconds, 2 sets
Day 4: 2 minutes, 2 sets

Horay! The 2 minutes was tough, but I was proud of myself for holding on and getting there. This week I’m moving on to high plank. I’ll report back next Wednesday with my results.

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I didn’t do it on purpose, but layers were a common theme in yesterday’s eats.

When I was cleaning out pantry the other day, I found an upopened box of oatmeal I forgot I’d purchased. I go in spells with oatmeal. I’ll eat it almost every day for breakfast, get burnt out, take a break from it for a while, then rediscover my love for its wholesome goodness. The last few months have been one of those vacations from oatmeal, but finding it made me go “Mmmmmm.”

I didn’t just want a boring bowl of oats with toppings. My solution? Oatmeal parfait!

It’s really just layers of blackberries, vanilla Oikos, and oatmeal with a peanut butter stir-in. Eating it this way made it feel almost more like dessert than breakfast. Food should be fun, right?

There really is coffee in the mug. It was not layered. It was just coffee. And it was delicious.

 

Lunch was a little something I like to call a garbage salad. Basically, I just scour my fridge for leftovers and make a salad out of them. It cuts down on the food waste and the creations tend to be pretty delicious. Plus, it’s fun to be creative! I feel like a mad scientist.

This one turned out to be a hybrid of buffalo chicken salad and taco salad.

~2 handfulls mixed greens
~3 oz. Italian dressing marinated chicken breast (leftover from meal swap), tossed in buffalo wing sauce
~chopped tomato & sliced green onions (leftover from Sunday’s supper salad bar)
~shredded mozzarella cheese
~3 Tbsp. reduced-fat sour cream, mixed with powdered ranch dressing mix

Very, very yum.

Dinner was not made in layers because there was no dinner. Monday nights are fasting nights for my husband and I. This is NOT weight loss related. It’s something we’re doing once a week as part of our Bible study. I’ve started to enjoy the weekly experience and am beginning to truly connect with the meaning behind the practice.

How do you make your food fun?

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One thing I almost always do on Mondays is to  fix up a big batch of something and portion it out as lunches for the week. I usually make something I like, but that my husband doesn’t enjoy. I don’t get bored easily with leftovers so it works out okay for me to be the only one eating it.

I’ve been craving pad thai lately, but didn’t have all of the ingredients to make any of my go-to recipes for this dish. I decided to create my own which was a little scary. I’m great at following recipes exactly or tweaking an existing recipe, but I don’t just wing it very often. This one actually turned out to be delicious! I like to call it:

What-I-Have-In-My-Fridge Tofu Pad Thai

(makes 5 very generous servings; could make 6-8 smaller servings as desired)

  • 8oz uncooked rice noodles (You could also use thin spagetti or angel hair pasta, preferably whole wheat.)
  • 14oz. extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 2 bunches of broccoli, about 4 cups
  • 1 medium carrot or about 12 baby carrots
  • 4 teaspoons peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce or soy sauce (I used reduced sodium.)
  • 3 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • pinch sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons jalapeno peppers or green chile peppers, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
  • fresh herbs such as cilantro or parsley (whatever you have handy)

Soak the rice noodles in hot water for about 1 hour or according to package directions. Drain well. (If you’re using thin spagetti or angel hair pasta, cook it according to the package directions.)

Press the moisture out of your tofu. Many people do this using paper towels. I prefer microfiber towels. I think they’re more absorbent and less wasteful.

First, lay your tofu on the towel in a single layer.

Top with another towel.

Top the whole thing with something flat and pretty heavy. (That’s a full tea kettle.)

Let stand until you’ve removed as much liquid as possible from the tofu. Then, transfter the tofu to a dish, drizzle with 1 Tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce and let it marinate.

Steam the broccoli and carrots until tender-crisp, about 8 minutes. I’m a big fan of the Ziploc steamer bags for making 1-2 portions of steamed veggies, but I like to break out my Calphalon steamer pot for big jobs like this.

While your tofu marinates and your veggies steam, mix up your sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together 3 Tablespoons of your fish sauce or soy sauce, 3 Tablespoons water, 3 Tablespoons lime juice, 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard and the pinch of sugar. (NOTE: I don’t really like my pad thai to be very sweet. If you do, adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste.)

Place a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of the peanut oil. Add your tofu and cook until heated through. You’ll want to turn your tofu so it cooks evenly, but be gentle so it doesn’t fall apart. Once it’s done, move it to a bowl, cover to keep warm and set aside.

Heat the other 2 teaspoons in your wok or skillet. Add the garlic and jalapeno or chile peppers. Heat just until they release their flavors, about 30 seconds.

Add in the noodles, then the sauce, then the veggies and tofu.

Cook, stirring to combine all of the layers, until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes. Gently toss in the bean sprouts.

Remove from heat and serve garnished with torn, fresh herbs.

I packaged up the leftovers, let them cool a little on the counter and then popped them in the fridge.

Cook once. Eat lunch all week. Good deal.

Do you ever cook ahead? What’s your strategy? What are your favorite things to make ahead?

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One thing I love about the first few weeks of January is that the grocery stores seem to have more healthy foods on sale than normal. I take advantage of the savings by stocking up on the healthy things we eat regularly, and also by trying some new things. Like a lot of other bloggers, I opted to stay in yesterday rather than brave the winter wonderland. That gave me plenty of time to check out some of those new-to-me finds.

Breakfast was a new-to-me treat, Kashi 7-grain waffles.

I’ve never bought these before because they’re a bit on the expensive side so it was a treat to see them on sale. I usually buy the “other brand’s” low-fat waffles. They’re pretty good when I want a waffle fix, but don’t keep me full for very long. These new waffles were delicious! They had tons of flavor and kept me full for several hours. The ingredients were much less processed and, for those who are wondering, they’re the same number of PointsPlus values  as “those other” waffles. I’m definitely going to watch for these to go on sale again and for coupons.

For lunch, I decided to fix something I’ve read about quite often in the blogosphere, but never tried until yesterday. Tempeh!

The cooking directions on the package were a little vague so I wanted a tried-and-true way to eat it. Most recently, I remembered reading about tempeh on Cynthia’s blog. A quick search led me to her directions for Banh Mi. I didn’t have any spinach and I don’t really like carrots so no banh mi for me. However, I did get the inspiration to put my tempeh in a wrap and I heated it according to her directions. Inside the wrap I layered romaine lettuce, sprouts, the tempeh and dijon mustard. The tortilla was so full that I couldn’t really get it to wrap and ended up eating it like a taco.

I really, really liked the tempeh and will definitely buy it again, on sale or not. Cynthia informed me (via a reply to my comment on her post) that tempeh had a “different texture.” She was absolutely right, but I found it to be a nice texture. It’s very hard to describe the flavor, but there’s lots of it! If you haven’t tried tempeh, I’d encourage you to give it a go.

With my tempeh wrap, I had a mug o’ lentil soup from the batch I made on Sunday.

This was also a new-to-me recipe from The Volumetrics Eating Plan. My husband bought this book a few years ago when he first became interested in eating more healthy. We successfully made a few recipes and then sort of forgot about it. I revived it in my recent quest for new recipes and found a lot of dishes I want to try. This one is definitely a keeper.

Together, it made for a wonderful, filling lunch.

My husband got home from work pretty early and we headed to the gym for a triceps and chest workout. He recently downloaded the free JEFIT app for his android phone and has been torturing me with it sharing it with me. We haven’t really even begun to dig into all the features, but we’ve figured out the basics.

Basically, the app lets you view and select exercises by the part of the body you’re aiming to target.

The app has several predefined workouts which you can do as is or add/remove exercises to suit your needs. You can also start from scratch by selecting individual exercises to create your own routine.

If you’re not sure how to perform a certain exercise, there’s also a free downloadable player that allows you to view animations for each move.

So far we’ve done two of the preset workouts using this app and I must say that I’m impressed. My husband has some experience with weights and likes the way it’s put together. I’m fairly new to “real” lifting and it’s still easy for me to use. It’s helping me build my confidence around the free weights and machines which is a huge benefit in my mind.

After our workout it was home for dinner, also a new recipe. This one came from the same cookbook as my lentil soup from lunch. Italian Turkey Spirals were time consuming t0 prep, but fun to assemble and tasted delicious!

As suggested in the recipe, I also made the Tomato and Fresh Basil Sauce (a separate recipe in the same book) to go with the spirals. Served with whole wheat spaghetti, this was the perfect mix of protein and carbs for a post-workout meal. Oh, and there are green beans hiding in the back there for some veggie goodness.

My husband was super impressed with this dinner and I really liked it, too. I’ll definitely make it again. Since we didn’t use much of the sauce, there was enough left over to freeze and use later for another meal.

What new food or fitness ideas have you discovered in 2011?

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a Dr. Weil audiobook! Entries close Friday at midnight EST.

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Hellllooooo 2011!!!

So what if I’m 4 days late. 🙂

Normally I don’t find New Years’ to be especially exciting. Sure, there’s the bash to watch the ball drop and welcome in the new year, but to me January 1st has always been just another day. Until this year. While I don’t make New Years’ resolutions, I’m feeling completely refreshed. It’s like a mental “airing-out” that’s made me really motivated in all areas of my life, food & fitness included. I don’t know what brought this on, but I like it!

My husband went back to work yesterday after a two-week holiday vacation. It was bittersweet. I’m going to miss having him around every day, but it felt really good to fall back into a normal routine.

I started off the day the same way I’ve started every day since Christmas. With this amazing specimen of coffee-making genius:

This Keurig may seriously be the best Christmas gift my husband has ever bought for me. It’s changed my life. You laugh, but I’m not kidding. Okay, I’m only kind of kidding. It makes the most delicious cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted, coffeehouse or otherwise. The funny thing is, I’ve always sworn that I didn’t want one. I thought those little K-cups would be too expensive to keep up with my caffeine habit. My mother-in-law mentioned that she saw that you can now buy a little contraption (that grey thing in the top row of the carousel) to brew your own coffee grounds. Once I learned that, I wanted one. When I told my husband, he said maybe we’d pool our Christmas money and get it. Sneaky little booger. Turns out, he’d already bought it for me and stashed it at his sister’s house. It’s been so much fun to try all the different varieties. I try to limit myself to one or two K-cups per day and then use my own grounds beyond that. So far, the Emeril’s Big Easy Bold has been my favorite.

 

I sipped my coffee and read my book for about an hour, just enjoying the quiet. It was glorious. I love spending time with family and friends during the holiday season, but I also love my down time. That’s something I haven’t had much of lately and it was nice for my first “normal” day to start that way. Another great part of the morning was sharing a leisurely breakfast with Peanut when she woke up. After that, it was time to get down to business. Peanut had serious playing to do and I was ready to exercise.

The last few months of 2010 I felt like a hamster on a wheel when it came to fitness. My workouts were half-hearted at best. I knew that the exercise was good for me and I was doing it as often as I could, but I wasn’t excited about it. The switch didn’t really flip in my brain until January 2nd when I made myself accept my sister-in-law’s invitation to go to Zumba. I had all kinds of excuses running through my head for reasons why I couldn’t go, but I didn’t let myself bail. I went and, when those endorphins kicked in, all of the reasons I love exercise came flooding back to me. Suddenly I was excited about getting back into the swing of things. I came right home and jotted down a workout plan for the rest of the week. This is something I used to do every week. Unconsciously, I’d started to let it slip sometime around Thanksgiving and by Christmas I’d quit doing it altogether.

Yesterday reinforced to me how wonderful having that plan can be. I knew exactly which DVD I needed to grab: the original Power 90 with Tony Horton. I did the Sweat session followed by Ab Ripper 100. Definitely got my blood pumping and geared me up for the rest of the day. It also made me hungry.

I’ve found several recipes lately which sounded delicious to me, but that garnered an upturned nose from my husband when I showed them to him. I put those back as possible lunch options when it’s just me at home. Using this original recipe from Real Simple magazine as my inspiration, I made several modifications and came up with a lightened-up, simplified version based on what I had in the pantry.

Rotini with Arichokes and White Beans

(makes 4 servings)

  • 5 ounces whole wheat rotini
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 15.5-ounce can great northern beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered, rinsed & drained
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring regularly to keep the garlic from burning.
  3. Add the beans, artichokes, salt & pepper to the saucepan. Cook until heated through, approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the reserved water and artichoke/bean mixture to the pasta and toss.

In keeping with my attempts at eating more veggies, I plated mine with some torn romaine lettuce which I stirred in after I snapped the picture.

I portioned out the leftovers and popped them in the fridge. Now my lunches for the rest of the week are no-brainers which really helps me stay on track. 

After lunch I cleaned. And cleaned some more. And cleaned even more while catching up on DVR’d shows. We got a last minute invitation to go out to dinner with some church friends and accepted. The food was mediocre (I’m talking to you, Tumbleweed.), but the company & conversation were fantastic. It was a great end to a great day.

So far, it’s been a great beginning to a great year. Bring it, 2011!

 

What has been the best part of your 2011 so far?

Oh, and one more thing…

 

 

GO BUCKS!!!

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Before there was P90X…there was Power 90! Same Tony. Same cheesy comments. Similar great workout concepts, just not quite as elaborate. Level 1-2 has 3 workouts contained on 1 DVD: Sculpt (strength), Sweat (cardio) and Ab Ripper 100 (10 reps of 10 ab exercises).

I’ve owned this DVD forever. It was the first thing I bought when I decided to get serious about my health. I remembered my college roomie doing the program for a few months when we lived in the dorm and, since I knew a big fat ZERO about exercise, it seemed like as good a place as any to start. I did it 6 days a week for quite some time before expanding my horizons to include the gym and other DVDs. Even though I stopped following the program exclusively, it’s still a DVD I pull into my rotation on a regular basis.

Yesterday I saw a post from MizFitOnline about training biceps, triceps and shoulders. I’ve been so focused on my running lately that I haven’t been as serious as I should about my upper body. Her post inspired me to dedicate some more time to that area. I decided to do the Sculpt circuit of Power 90. While it does have some lower body stuff, it’s much more focused on upper body. It felt really good. By that, I mean I was SORE! It was a good pain, though.

In case you’re wondering you can still purchase the program from BeachBody although it now comes as a package with all levels (1-2 as well as 3-4) and each workout looks like it’s on a separate DVD. I have no idea if the workout is exactly the same, but I’m guessing that it’s at least similar.

Post-workout lunch was a junk salad. I just grabbed a bunch of junk outta the fridge and threw it on a salad.

~organic mixed greens
~leftover Mother’s Day chicken, sliced
~sprouts
~Sabra spinach & artichoke hummus
~handfull of cauliflower

Dinner was a request from my husband, Bacon, Ranch & Chicken Mac & Cheese from Cooking Light. I’ve featured before. This time I substituted 2% shredded Mexican blend cheese in the sauce (instead of the Italian cheese blend) and 2% mild cheddar on top (instead of the colby jack). It tasted a little different, but was equally as yummy.

Do you have a DVD/workout/class that you’ve done for years? What makes you keep it in your rotation?

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Hola bloggies! Sorry I missed ya yesterday. We had to take Peanut to the cardiologist for a follow-up appointment which took up a majority of the day. Everything is fine. She’s had a heart murmur since birth and the doctors just want to keep an eye on it.

I had to decide between blogging and running in the little free time I did have yesterday evening. Pretty sure you can figure out which one I chose. There was rain almost all day so I was really excited when the weather broke and I got to lace up and head out. I did a mile to the bike path, 3 miles on the trail and a mile back home for a total of 5 miles! That probably seems like a mere pittance to most of you, but I’ve never run any further than that and the last time I achieved the feat was back in early 2008. Then, I was doing the distance once a week. I seriously slacked on my running after we got married as I adjusted to married life, a new town and an hour commute to work. I’m not sure why, but hitting that 5 mile mark again felt like a major milestone.

My Tuesday eats were pretty uninspired so I’m backtracking to Monday. Peanut and I went to our Mom & Baby group at the hospital in the morning, then hit the road to visit my BFF and her 2 week old little boy. When I’m in Dayton, I always make it a point to stop at Dorothy Lane Market. I’ve posted about my love for this local, gourmet foods market before. That’s where I headed for lunch on this journey, too.

I always get sushi when I’m there because there are absolutely no stores or restaurants near our town that sell or serve it. I picked up some Tokyo Fantasy which is basically just spicy tuna rolls with brown rice.

I spotted a delicious Greek Shrimp Orzo Salad in the deli case. I decided to get a small container of the salad instead of the spring
rolls I normally get to accompany my suuuu-shay.

I wasn’t disappointed. It was delicious! It wasn’t overly oily (which I’ve found true of most deli pasta salads) and had the perfect blend of orzo, shrimp, kalamata olives, herbs and various diced veggies.

I hit the Boston Stoker coffee cart on my way out the door for a Skinny Lady Latte. It’s basically just a skim white chocolate latte, but they seem to taste better there than anywhere else. I think it’s their exceptional quality espresso.

We had a fantastic visit with my BFF and her little man. In 7 months I’d honestly forgotten house teeny tiny newborns really are. I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures because he was either eating or sleeping the entire time we were there. My BFF and I have decided that our kids will go to prom together so I guess there’s always that photo op to look forward to enjoying. 🙂

My husband worked late and I wasn’t at all hungry come evening. I just had a cup of hot tea while I fed Peanut her dinner. This wasn’t just any hot tea. It was the best Earl Grey tea I think I’ve ever had. I picked it up on a whim while we were at Dorothy Lane Market. I’m not sure what made this Kensington Earl Grey so good, but I’m sure glad I decided to give it a try.

What was the last fitness milestone you achieved?

Have you checked out Yoga Pose May yet? I’ve been following along day by day and it’s awesome. I’m learning a lot about yoga and feeling inspired to incorporate it into my fitness routine more often. I’ve also discovered an abundance of new blogs to add to my Google Reader. As if I weren’t having enough trouble keeping up with that thing before, now it’s just plain ridiculous. 🙂

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