Monthly Archives: January 2013

Why I Never Feel Deprived

My secret for never feeling deprived, hungry, or like I’m missing out on something? Tons and tons of vegetables. Mountains of vegetables. Sometimes literally–just look at this lunch with the enormous pile of food. How could you feel deprived after eating all of that?

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Buried under all the vegetables is half of a toasted whole wheat English muffin. Then I heated up some of last night’s broccoli, cooked up some mushrooms and a zucchini in some olive oil spray, put on an ounce of crumbled goat cheese, and then an over easy egg cooked in olive oil spray. Topped with Frank’s hot sauce. Soooo good!

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Easy Weeknight Dinner: Catfish, Sweet Potato, and Broccoli

 

Tonight I made one of our standard weeknight dinners: Catfish with Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic Seasoning Blend, which is one of the only premixed seasoning I buy, and makes dinner super fast and easy.

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I sprinkled a bit on each filet of catfish. I usually do one of the filet’s a little lighter on the seasoning for my son who doesn’t like spicy. Not that it is very spicy, but he won’t believe me on that, and sometimes it is easier not to argue.20130129-202207.jpg

 

I heated some olive oil, maybe a tablespoon or so, until it was smoking, and pan-fried the fish until it was browned on each side, and opaque inside. Usually takes about 5-7 minutes per side.20130129-202221.jpg

 

Meanwhile, I chopped up some broccoli and peeled some garlic. As soon as the fish came out of the pan, I poured off a little of the oil, maybe leaving a teaspoon or so in the pan, then put in the broccoli. I added about 1/4 cup of water, and covered the pan for 3 minutes. Then I uncovered it and cooked off the water that was left. I cleared a spot in the middle of the pan, poured in just a tiny bit of oil and crushed 4 cloves of garlic into the pan. (Have you all figured out I love garlic?) I mushed the garlic around in the pan for a minute, then mixed it in with the broccoli.20130129-202229.jpg

 

I served it with sweet potatoes, which I had roasted in the oven for an hour. Is there anything better than a roasted sweet potato? I don’t really think so.

Great, quick dinner…not counting the sweet potato, on the table in about 20 minutes. Should have made this last night when I was in such a hurry, it was even faster than the meal made with leftover chicken.20130129-202240.jpg

Chicken For Two Nights

Mondays are crazy right now at my house. My daughter has gymnastics until 5:30pm, then she has rehearsal for a show at 7pm. Somehow I have to fit in cooking and eating dinner between those times. Slow cooker meals are a good option, but I also don’t have much time during the day on Monday, and this week I just couldn’t find one that sounded good that didn’t take a lot of prep work. Instead I decided to make a meal on Sunday that I could repurpose to make Monday’s meal prep faster.

On Sunday we made a whole butterflied chicken on the grill. I rubbed it under the skin with a mixture of paprika and garlic powder. No salt, since this was a pre-brined chicken (from Trader Joe’s). If your chicken is not pre-brined, you should add some salt to the rub. We also had green beans from our freezer–frozen from our farm share over the summer–sautéed on a grill pan with some salt and olive oil spray, baked potatoes, and an herb bread slab mostly for my son who doesn’t like potatoes. I ate about 2/3 of one of those potatoes with non-fat greek yogurt for an added boost of protein…and yuminess.20130128-203351.jpg

The next day, while I had a few minutes after driving my daughter to her gymnastics class, I chopped up some kale, carrots, and onions, and peeled about 4 cloves of garlic. After returning home from picking her up, I started some water for past, then I cooked the kale on high temperature in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes, then moved it to a bowl.20130128-203400.jpg

Then I cooked up some mushrooms, also over high heat, in a little more olive oil–I love the pre-sliced baby bella mushrooms from Trader Joe’s. For some reason, I hate cleaning and slicing mushrooms. After the mushrooms were cooked, I moved them to the bowl with the kale.20130128-203408.jpg

I turned the heat down to medium, then I cooked up the onions and carrots in just a touch more olive oil. After they softened and turned a little translucent–about 5-7 minutes–I added the garlic pushed through a garlic press. This is the point when I realized that so far this recipe was looking a lot like the recipe for the tomato sauce I made a couple days ago. However, it changed from this point on. 20130128-203415.jpg

I added back in the kale and mushrooms, and cooked it all together for a few minutes.20130128-203425.jpg

Then I added a can of cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed first. I cooked that together for just a couple minutes, then added a can of low-sodium chicken broth. This ended up with a very saucy result, if you wanted thicker but less sauce you could add less than a can.20130128-203432.jpg

I cooked that all together for about 5 minutes, smushing some of the beans on the sides of the pan to thicken and blend into the sauce.20130128-203451.jpg

Then I added in the leftover chicken and cooked it until it was heated. 20130128-203458.jpg

I served it over whole wheat penne noodles, and the kids and my husband had some of the leftover bread from Sunday night’s meal to sop up the sauce–I just used a spoon. Another colorful, yummy, and healthy meal, and on the table in under 30 minutes.20130128-203505.jpg

Very Veggie Pasta Sauce

 

Last week I received some canned whole tomatoes from our farm share, so tonight I made a pasta sauce with turkey sausage and lots and lots of veggies. It came out delicious, and everyone in the family enjoyed it, even the kids.

I started by cooking up bulk turkey sausage (if you have a butcher counter at your store, you can ask them to remove it from its casing for you) in some olive oil, and breaking it up into smaller pieces, then moving that to a bowl when it was mostly but not completely cooked through. I chose not to use non-stick, so that I would have the fond at the bottom of the pan to add flavor. However, you could use non-stick and use less oil, but you would lose some flavor as a result.20130124-215648.jpg

 

Then I added a bit more olive oil to the pan, and cooked up some mushrooms and orange bell pepper. You could cook up any number of different veggies at this point.20130124-215703.jpg

 

I put the mushroom and peppers in the bowl with the sausage, a little more olive oil in the pan, then I cooked up some chopped onion and carrots–this was one onion, and 3 smallish carrots. I sautéed them for awhile, until they were pretty soft, then added about 4 cloves of garlic put through a garlic press.20130124-215717.jpg

 

I added the whole canned tomatoes, and let it all cook for a couple of minutes, then got out the immersion blender (aka, boat motor) and blended it until it was fairly smooth. Be careful at this step, that you don’t splatter yourself with hot tomato sauce. Trust me on this.20130124-215729.jpg

 

I let the sauce cook for flavors to blend for about 5 minutes, then added back the sausage, mushrooms, and peppers, and heated them through. Then I added baby spinach (about half a 5 oz. bag) a handful at time, mixing it in until wilted.20130124-215740.jpg

 

Salt and pepper to taste, and we had a delicious, colorful, pasta sauce.20130124-215753.jpg

 

Kids had theirs over whole wheat pasta, but I had mine over spaghetti squash. I cut it in half, sprayed it with olive oil spray, sprinkled with salt and pepper, than roasted for about 45 minutes (while preparing the sauce) in a 400 degree oven. Then I used a fork to remove the squash from its skin. 20130124-215802.jpg

 

So good, nutritious, and low calorie with the spaghetti squash! I’ll be doing this one again with many different veggies, I’m sure.20130124-215813.jpg

Five-Spice Tilapia

 

Tonight for dinner I made Five-Spice Tilapia from EatingWell.com. I didn’t use the scallions that were in the recipe, because I forgot to buy them (oops). After the tilapia was done and I had removed it and most of the sauce from the skillet, I put in some broccoli and about 1/4 cup of water, covered that for about 3 minutes, then let it brown up just a bit with some garlic. I served it with brown jasmine rice, which soaked up the yummy sauce. Very good meal. My son dislikes fish, but he tolerated it and loved the sauce. My daughter who loves fish actually didn’t like this as much, which is a bit odd. My husband and I both thought it was great. The recipe called for quite a bit more (brown) sugar than I generally like to cook with, but the flavoring was a nice change of pace.

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Do What Is Sustainable For You

There is always a lot of discussion online and IRL about how many calories are the right amount to eat per day, how much exercise, should I cut this or that out of my diet. My advice is to only do what you can sustain for the long term. Depending on how much weight you have to lose, you could be at it for a long time. Even when you are down to your goal weight, things shouldn’t change that dramatically in order to maintain your new weight. If you go back to all your old habits, you will gain all of the weight back.

If you love pasta, don’t cut out all pasta. Just reduce how much pasta you eat, make sure to keep an eye on portion sizes. If you hate jogging, don’t jog. Find other exercises you enjoy. If you crave sweets, have a small treat each night, or every few nights, like a piece of dark chocolate. Find ways to make your favorite foods healthier, for instance finding light versions of your favorite recipes. If you love to go out to dinner, do it…just do it infrequently (think of all the money you’ll save!) and try to make good choices.

Reduce the number of calories you eat per day down to something you can sustain, and never under 1200 calories per day. I am 5’2″, and I exercise pretty regularly. When I first started, I was eating between 1400-1600 calories per day, and now I am between 1300-1500 calories per day. I eat more on days I’m hungry, and less if I’m not as hungry. I am working hard on listening to my body and giving it what it needs.

I started out small with exercise, only doing Zumba on the Xbox 3 days a week for about 30 minutes, on an easy setting. I have added a lot more exercise because I enjoy it.

When people approach me about my weight loss, they always mention how much hard work it must take. It absolutely does take hard work. However, I feel like all of my hard work has already been done, months ago. The hard work was changing my habits, eating less, exercising more, slowly changing my life to this healthier way of living. That’s done now, and this is just my life. Yes, I’m hoping after I get to my goal I won’t have to log all my food anymore, but maybe I will. As with all the other changes I have made, it is something I can sustain.

Be An Inspiration!

Today was a gorgeous day where I live (sorry to all those who are cold), and my kids had the day off from school for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday–and I was so happy that they actually had learned a bit about him in school, so it wasn’t just a meaningless day off. Anyway, I decided we should get out of the house and walk to the park, which is less than a mile away. It is down the hill from our house, so you have to go up a pretty steep hill on the way home. Before I started my whole lifestyle change, I used to think that it was a very long walk. And even after I started, my kids would complain about having to walk there. Even today, my son asked if we could drive as we were leaving the house. However, when we were approaching the park, my son said “That was really close, I didn’t realize the park was so close.” We talked about how all of our perceptions had changed since we’d gotten more active, and how great it was that we all walked so much more.

It made me realize again how much my decision to change my life has changed not only my own life for the better, but the lives of others all around me. My children and husband are all more active and eat healthier. I questioned when I was starting whether to share my progress with friends on Facebook, afraid that if I failed everyone would see. However, I have created my own support group through my online and real life community. Many people have come up and told me that I’ve inspired them to get in better shape, whether they need to lose weight or not. Now I am at the point where I know I will not fail, I don’t even see that as a possibility. By inspiring others, I have become inspired as well.