Wordless Wednesday

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Nighty Night!! ūüôā

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X’s and O’s, Anything Goes

I awoke once again to the sounds of the rain. ¬†It seems as though someone up above is trying to remind us of the horrid Hurricane Katrina that devastated many lives five short years ago. ¬†Thankfully, my family and I did not have to undergo any major effects of the torrential flooding. ¬† ¬†To start my day on a more refreshing note, I began with a cold bowl of cereal composed of 1 cup shredded oats, 1/4 cup apple cinnamon o’s, a handful of frozen blueberries, and a cup of almond milk. ¬†On side–a hot cup of tea.

Putting my desperation of needing to get to the grocery store aside, lunch was an anything goes kind of a meal.

Almond Butter + Blackberry Spread on Whole Grain Bread

Surprisingly, this was a satisfying lunch enjoyed in the comforts of my classroom.  Though it was not anything special, it conveniently allowed me to take a working lunch as there was no need for a microwave and I highly needed to get some tests graded.  I even saved my apple for an after school snack due to my sammie being so fulfilling.

Apple consumed after work.

Unfortunately, I forgot my workout clothes, so had to go home straight from work. ūüė¶ ¬†Fortunately, ¬†I made it home safely! ūüôā ¬†The streets were nearly flooded and I could hardly see due to the pelting rain. ¬† In addition to my fuji apple, I had a handful of some mixed nuts when I got home.

That all too elusive question then popped in my head–what’s for dinner? ¬†I knew I wanted to do something with ground turkey breast because earlier in the day I texted my hubby to ask him to take it out of the freezer. ¬†I then remembered Julie of PB Fingers mentioning a BBQ meatloaf in her post last week. ¬†I did not have all of the ingredients necessary to make her Cooking Light version, but knew I wanted to use my ground turkey to make a BBQ Turkey Meatloaf of my own. ¬†So I pulled out all of the ingredients I wanted to incorporate into my loaf.

Ingredients

BBQ Turkey Meatloaf

1-1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey breast

1 medium bell pepper, chopped (from our garden)

1 tbsp. minced garlic

2 tbsp. hickory smoked mustard (dijon mustard may work too)

10 splashes of worcestershire sauce (more if desired)

1 whole egg

1/2 c plain bread crumbs

1 tbsp. onion powder

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 c BBQ sauce

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Mix all ingredients except for BBQ sauce; hands work best.  (You may opt to add some of the BBQ sauce in the meat mixture or just put on as topping before putting in the oven as I did.)  Once mixed, put into loaf pan.  Top the loaf with BBQ sauce.  Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until thermometer inserted reads 165*.

**Ground turkey has a distinct flavor, so you may want to alter the amounts of seasonings/sauces above to suit your taste.  Or, you may want to substitute lean ground beef which would work just as well, but cooking time may vary.**

Pre-Bake

The loaf was baking away; meanwhile, I peeled, chopped, and boiled two sweet potatoes to be used for mashed sweet potatoes.

Boil until fork tender and drain.

I then went to the archives and pulled out what was a wedding gift to my mom and dad 30 years ago–a mixer.

30 Years Old and Still Runs Like a Charm

I received one of my own at my wedding, but it just doesn’t work as well as this one.

To the drained, chopped sweet potatoes I added:

1/2 cup of almond milk

2 tbsp. Brummel & Brown Yogurt Spread

1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract

1 tsp. of cinnamon

1 tbsp. of honey

I then whipped the potatoes until a desired consistency was reached.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Final Eats= BBQ Turkey Meatloaf + Mashed Sweet Potatoes +Steamed Brussel Sprouts

X and Os on a Plate ūüėČ

As I was plating this, it reminded me of X O X O X O. ¬†Funny how our minds relate to things–especially now having a blog I seem to find things throughout my day that I can relate to foods or other events in my lifetime. ¬†Starting the blog has not just opened my eyes to healthy eating and living. ¬†It has opened them to the world around me. ¬†It makes me find the joys of my days, albeit small joys, rather than dwell on the negatives.

Question of the Night:  If you have your own blog, how has blogging changed your life?  And for those who simply enjoy reading blogs, how has reading them changed yours?

I look forward to hearing your responses. ūüôā

XOXO,

Melissa

Cabbage Patch Kids

Breakfast was quick and easy this morning even though I woke up early and could have taken the time to actually cook something.  All I felt like eating was craving was almond butter and banana on a slice of whole grain toast with a cup of hot chai.

There is bread and almond butter under there somewhere.

For lunch today I enjoyed a spring and spinach salad mix with a few grape tomatoes and cucumber slices.  On top, I added some chopped Hormel oven roasted turkey and a sprinkling of Sargento Reduced Fat Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend.  My dressing of choice today was 2 tbsp. of Light Italian.  For some extra protein (since I was going to the gym straight from work) and a bit of sweetness I had a Fage 2% Greek Strawberry Yogurt.

Lunch Time

Pay attention to details; it's more fun to eat that way!

I decided to try working out straight after work rather than get home and have to force myself to go back out.  I think I prefer that better; it is just a matter of getting my clothes together the night before.  Though when I arrived at the gym every single elliptical was taken!  Grrrrrr!  So I started my cardio session on one of the two treadmills that were not in use.  I did 10 minutes at 12% incline at a 4.0 pace.  Then I noticed someone hop off of the true slider elliptical, so I took advantage of the opportune time to hop on.  I did 30 minutes on the elliptical at level 20 for about 25 minutes and level 18 for the other 5.  Lastly I finished up with 10 minutes on the stationary bike at level 5.

When I got home from work I began on dinner.  This morning I took a package of spit chicken breasts out of the freezer to defrost.  I started by browning the chicken breasts in a tablespoon of canola oil.

While the chicken browned I prepped some bell pepper from the garden, half an onion, some carrot sticks, and 5 red potatoes.  Once the chicken was browned on both sides I removed it from the pan and it went into the pot shown above.  Using the same pan from the chicken, I sauteed the veggies except for the potatoes.

Meanwhile, I got some miniature cabbages AKA brussel sprouts sliced and seasoned for roasting.

I recommend using a smaller knife due to the rolling of the sprouts, but that was the knife used for cutting the other veggies and I was trying to eliminate the massive amount of dishes/utensils I use for cooking.

Once the veggies tender I added them on top of the chicken.  Here is wher it may get a bit unhealthified; however, you can still watch your portions.  Next, I put 1/4 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour into the *same* saute pan.  I stirred and stirred and stirred until I had a roux (to make gravy) the color of peanut butter more or less.  I then added one cup of water (***Warning***This will cause sizzle of splatter and smoke, so stand back!), a second cup of water, two and a half cups of water total as I removed the pan from the fire and continued stirring and stirring until I had a brown gravy.  Salt and pepper was also added, but much of the flavor comes from the browned bits from the chicken and veggies that were in the pan previously.

Gravy was poured over chicken and veggies and added potatoes.

I munched on these while the chicken simmered for about an hour.   I was able to get some cleaning done in the meantime.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

My Plate--A scoop of rice from last night topped with pulled chicken and veggie mixture.

Tasty if I do say so myself!

***********************************************************************

I recently heard that a doll fad of the 80s are making a comeback.  According to Cabbage Patch Kids they never really left the scene despite changing production brands several times throughout the last 30 years.  Funny how things always seem to return into the limelight from such long ago.

Cabbage Patch Kids were one of my favorites (I can’t recall any specifics, but I know Mom fought her way into some stores to get those dolls for my sis and me) growing up along with playing school of course. ūüėČ

Question of the Night:  What was your favorite toy/doll growing up as a kid?

Rainbows In Waiting

I am really getting used to waking up early. ¬†Or is it the fact that I’m excited to make breakfast so that I can make sure it looks decent enough for the blog? ¬†Or is it that I started taking a different route across the river cutting my travel time down and eliminating the constant stop of red lights which pumps ¬†up my adrenaline making my drive to work all the more exciting and something I have been looking forward to this first week of school? ¬†I think it has to do with all three!

So to start my day I jumped out of bed (literally and then jumped back in after hitting snooze) and got up on the second sound of the blaring radio which I’ve been forced to use during the no phone zone week. ¬†Hopefully I’ll have a phone by the weekend, but may continue using the actual alarm clock anyway. ¬†Now for breakfast, I felt like a simple banana and peanut butter sammie on a Pepperidge Farm deli flat. ¬†Though the remnants of the Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter remain in the fridge I really am not a fan of that brand, so went with almond butter instead. ¬†Also had a cup of hot chai on the side.

After breakfast I got ready for work and headed out for my 35 minute drive. ¬†At about thirty minutes out, in the distance over the expressway I could see a beautiful rainbow. Truly, it could not have been prettier as the prisms sparkled in the sky. ¬†I thought about pulling out my camera, but didn’t think it was the brightest idea going 60 miles an hour on the expressway. ¬†Seeing the rainbow this morning uplifted my mood and clearly was a sign that I would have a good day. ¬†Do rainbows have that effect on you? ¬†What else would there purpose be? ¬†It seems they just sit in the sky waiting for passer-byes to take in their beauty. ¬†Many cars did appear to slow down to take in the view; I know I did. ūüôā

I enjoyed a rainbow of foods in my lunch box today.  I had some spring mix of greens and purple leaves topped with yellow corn, red grape tomatoes, brown rice, black beans which left the rice a slight shade of blue, tomato red salsa, and orange shredded cheese.  On side I had a fuzzy peach.


Once home from work I just couldn’t cool down with it being so hot and my house having outdated ’70s crank windows allowing all of the cool air to seep out through the cracks. ¬† ¬†Thank goodness we are getting some new, updated energy efficient windows in a couple of week. ¬†I know it will make a huge difference. ¬†My hot flash enticed me to make something cold and sweet for my afternoon snack–a chocolate banana smoothie. ¬†To the blender I added a frozen banana, a half cup of Arctic Zero Chocolate Frozen Dessert, a cup of plain almond milk, four ice cubes, and a few leaves of baby spinach that were left in the fridge.

After blending and tasting, I added a tsp.? of cocoa powder to add a bit more chocolate flavor.

And Then She Was Done

I caught up on some reading (of blogs), then went for a ten minute jog/5 minute walk session around the neighborhood and came home to do some of this.

Look Mom! ¬†I’m using the Ab Lounger. ¬†Thanks! ¬†Mom is de-cluttering her house so I inherit her clutter.

And then some of this.

BBQ Scallop and Mushroom Pasta

I was trying to recreate the BBQ Shrimp Pasta sold at many restaurants as a spin off on regular BBQ Shrimp with French Bread, which is a well known dish in the New Orleans area. ¬†Although it is called BBQ shrimp there is in fact no BBQ sauce in the dish. ¬†The famous Pascal’s Manale BBQ Shrimp recipe is supposedly all over the net, but I doubt it is the tried and true. ¬†It is a mix of white wine (I’ve heard it could be beer), worcestershire sauce, butter (I used olive oil instead), garlic, and spices. ¬†But I wanted a healthified version without all of the butter and mounds of french bread for dipping. ¬†So I modified a couple of recipes I glanced at on the WWW creating a BBQ Scallop and Mushroom Pasta dish using these ingredients + mushrooms. ¬†I don’t think the Italian dressing is really needed, but saw it in one recipe so added some. ¬†Though I think I would prefer it without.

Also, I would do fresh scallops instead of the miniscule ones I purchased in the frozen section. ¬†Again, I did not measure. ¬†Sorry, I try to go on taste rather than measuring. ¬†And I can’t even give a good estimate so I won’t even try, but my ingredients included olive oil, minced garlic, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, thyme, oregano, rosemary, onion powder, salt + pepper, white cooking wine, spaghetti, scallops, mushrooms, reserve pasta water as thickener, and italian dressing (to be omitted due to it’s tanginess; the worcestershire and wine give enough tanginess). ¬†Oh, I even added a squirt of honey to balance out some of the tang.

I ate a cooking spoonful of the pasta, a simple lettuce salad with Light Italian dressing, and a half of Pepperidge Farm whole wheat deli flat with a schmear of Brummel & Brown.  Thinking about the original BBQ Shrimp made me want bread, so I satisfied the craving.  Oh yeah, see those little things that look like chickpeas; that is what my grocer is calling frozen scallops.

Whew! That was a long post and I am feeling hot (28 with hot flashes, hmmm?) and tired so need to get some R&R.  Good night!

Quick Fix Meal

Quick Fix Post

Breakfast

Almond Butter and Strawberry Jam on Bagel Thin with Hot Green Tea

Lunch

Packed for yesterday but eaten today–turkey and¬†dijonaisse on sandwich thin; salad made of squash, yellow tomatoes, celery, carrots, feta cheese, and drizzle of balsamic/olive oil mix;¬†and apple sauce on the side.


Snack

Another piece of Chantilly Cake…Mmmm, Mmmmm, Good!


Dinner

This dinner came together in a flash. ¬†Twenty minutes and dinner was on the table. ¬†For tonight’s menu–pork tenderloin chops seasoned with salt, pepper, dried thyme, pork seasoning, and garlic powder and baked at 350* for ten minutes. Sides included frozen Steamfresh brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes both cooked in the microwave. ¬†It was quick and easy, yet satisfying. ¬†If only every night’s dinners could be as tasty and quick to fix!

Quick Fix Meal

Added a Tsp Brummel & Brown to the Sweet Tater

Question of the Night: ¬†While I’m all about quickness at the moment, is there a quicker way to upload pictures onto my blog?

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Back to work today! ¬†All during the night that song was playing in my head, so I couldn’t sleep. Ugh! ¬†Here’s the song in case you’re not aware of the 80’s hit by Soul II Soul.

So this morning I was not a happy camper when I arose at 5:45 to get ready for my first day back to school from the summer vacation.  I started with an almond butter and peach sammie with a sprinkle of cinnamon atop and Oroweat whole wheat sandwich thin.

Almond butter + Sweet Peach Half

Next I got ready and headed out on my 40 minute drive for my Back to School Staff Development Day. ¬†By 12:00 my stomach was doing some serious talking. ¬†Thank goodness lunch had arrived! ūüôā

For lunch I enjoyed a spinach salad with celery, carrot, 1/4 fuji apple, yellow cherry tomatoes, feta, and 2 tbsp. of light raspberry vinaigrette dressing.  Mmmm, it was so refreshing and satisfied my hunger pangs.

Pretty Salad

And on the side–the other half of my peach from breakfast and a handful of blackberries.

Fresh Fruit

Late afternoon it was time for a snacky-snack, the second of my three Larabars I picked up at Whole Foods last Thursday.

PB & J

Whew!!! Today was a rough adjustment back into the swing of things. ¬†I got home after work and began a little tidying of the house and needed another snack. ¬†I must have been a bit hungry because it did not cross my mind to get a picture of my two slices of Hormel nitrate free turkey and Sargento light string cheese. ¬†<Input image here> Two round slices of turkey wrapped around a tubular stick of string cheese<Embed image> ūüėČ

Now onto dinner–a southern [stated in my most stereotypical southern voice as heard on TV] classic. ¬†Shrimp and Grits.

I used Quaker 5 Minute Grits on the stovetop and added some Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese and garlic powder along with salt and pepper.  For the shrimp, I started by sauteing them on the stove in canola oil with salt, red pepper flakes, and dried rosemary.  Just before putting the pan in the oven I added a few splashes of worcestershire sauce.  The shrimp were baked until done.  Also, for some veggie action I roasted some squash with salt, pepper, and dried rosemary.

Lovin My Plating ‚̧

Up Close and Personal

The shrimp and grits came together quite quickly. ¬†The longest part was the roasting of the veggies, which I didn’t mind getting a couple of other chores done while they roasted. ¬†And roasting lately is my fave way to cook vegetables. ¬†I wonder if it alters the nutritional value much!?! ¬†Any nutritionists out there reading? ¬†Please let me know.

I was thoroughly satisfied with my meal tonight, but I know in days, weeks, months to come I will be unable to answer that all too elusive question–what’s for dinner? ¬†Now that I am back into the reality of my life I need to get back into a comfortable groove and figure out how to balance everything–socializing, working, cleaning, cooking and eating healthy, exercising. ¬†And I don’t even have kids yet! ¬†I’m scared!

Question of the Day:  How do you balance heading a household, working, and managing your healthy lifestyle?  Do you have any tips or ideas on how to accomplish all that needs to be done on a daily basis when it feels that there is just not enough time in the day?