“If It Came From A Plant, Eat It; If It Was Made In A Plant, Don’t”

And that is exactly what I did for dinner–less a few ingredients.  My sister shared that quote she heard on Dr. Oz today while I visited this evening.  I like the message.  Eat natural plant based foods; stay away from the processed ones.  I try my best with that, but of course I am only human and sometimes my brain, mouth, and stomach say otherwise.   

Onto today’s breakfast which was an unoriginal wrap of ripened banana slices, natural peanut butter, and cinnamon. I had a warm mug of chai tea on  the side.

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Away from my regularly scheduled school day, I was assigned to attend an in-service where lunch was provided.  I ate a chicken salad sandwich on wheat with lettuce and tomato.  For some side snacks, I had the bag of Cheetos, two bites of the cookie and pitched the rest because it tasted bad.  My principal who also attended mentioned the cookie tasted as though it were made with oil that was used in cooking seafood.  Yuck, I sure hope that wasn’t the case!  I saved the apple that was included and later shared that with my 2 year old nephew.  During break I enjoyed two Russell Stover’s sugar free chocolates—one with coconut and one toffee; they tasted divine.

At my sister’s house the apple just did not cut it.  So she provided me with this convenient snackage which I defrosted from frozen for 25 seconds in the microwave because I wasn’t waiting thirty minutes by letting it sit out as suggested on the package.

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I wonder if these are made in wheat.  They are just so convenient to grab and go if running late though it would likely be more cost efficient to just make my own.  After visiting for three hours or so, I said my farewells and headed home to cook dinner.

I have been meaning to make this meal for over a week and a half now, but continuously brushed it off opting for something else.  Mom made this many days when I was growing up.  And on those days when she told me that she fixed it for dinner I would cringe with disgust because it was not what I wanted.  I had much preferred a greasy cheeseburger and fries from down the street.  But as I look back and now enjoy it as an adult, it is a healthy, delicious, easy meal to cook.

Mom’s Green Beans and Potatoes with Pickle Meat

Begin with a few ingredients.

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The cream cheese and cauliflower was for a side dish of creamed cauliflower.

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Sauté diced onion in a teaspoon of olive oil.

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Add pickled pork and brown.

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Stir in canned tomatoes and cook for two minutes more.  Then add green beans, potatoes, salt and pepper to taste.

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Cover and simmer for thirty minutes until beans and potatoes are tender.

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Voila! Dinner is cooked.  Serve over brown rice or orzo pasta if desired.  I chose not to, but served creamed cauliflower on the side instead. 

For that, I steamed the cauliflower according to package directions.  I then added salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of 1/3 less fat chive and onion cream cheese, a tablespoon of fat free half & half, and cut a few small slices of cheddar cheese (along with a chunk for eating on the spot) for some added goodness.  Using a potato masher, I mashed and mixed the cauliflower until a desired consistency was reached.

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Mom’s Green Beans and Potatoes with Pickle Meat

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 lb. pickled pork or ham, cut into cubes

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 baking potato, chopped (peeled if desired—not me)

1 lb. green beans, fresh, stemmed tips removed (I don’t know for sure how much I used; just a guess)

Salt and pepper

Directions: Heat oil in pot over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté until tender.  Next, add pickled pork and brown.  Stir in tomatoes and heat for two minutes longer.  Add green beans, potato, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook over medium low for thirty minutes or until veggies are tender stirring occasionally.  Serve over brown rice or orzo pasta; or just enjoy as is!

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I do not know if pickled pork (aka pickle meat) is a southern thing, but I have heard people mention they are unaware of its existence.  Mom has always added pickle meat to red beans and to this dish.  Pickle meat is pork that has been pre-seasoned with salt and other seasonings and adds a nice flavor to the dishes.  According to the package it is 80 calories for 2.5 ounces and has 3 grams of fat per serving.  The salt content is high, so be careful adding additional salt when cooking with it.

Question of the Night:  What is one dish that you turned your nose to as a child, but now appreciate its flavors?  Oh, and have you had pickle meat?

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Friday Recap & Healthified Pizza

I apologize for skipping yesterday’s post.  I just wasn’t feeling it and after running a couple errands after work I came home and crashed for a couple hours.  Then I spent some time with my hub.  Here is a recap of yesterday’s eats.

Breakfast:  Sandwich Thin topped with Dark Chocolate Dreams PB, Sliced Nanner, and Cinnamon Sprinkling

Lunch: Salad with Sliced Pear, Sliced Squash, Sliced Cucumbers, Grape Tomatoes, Reduced Fat Feta, Light Raspberry Vinaigrette, and Pita Chips

Snackage:  Tortilla Chips + Spinach and Artichoke Hummus, Half Pear, + more (was feeling very snacky today so I also had a Reduced Fat Colby Jack Cheese Square and some cookies from frozen cookie dough; probably could have went a more healthy route, but I was tired and hungry which is not a good combo)

Dinner:  Healthified Tortilla Pizza–I used a whole wheat tortilla as the dough.  (A pita or english muffin split open could also be used.)  I topped the tortilla with a tablespoon of store-bought tomato basil sauce, a light babybel cheese round, sliced squash, broccoli, a spritz of cooking spray, red pepper flakes, salt, and parmesan cheese sprinkles.  It was baked at 400* for 12 minutes or so.  I had one whole tortilla to myself and split a second with the hub.  I’ve made these before for myself, but it was his first tortilla pizza.  His response after eating it, “I’ll have to make these for myself more often!”  So it definitely gets the hubby-stamp-of-approval!

This is a really simple, healthy way to get your pizza fix rather than ordering delivery or take-out.  And did I mention how good it tastes!  Not to mention it is fun and easy to make because the topping combinations are endless based on individual likes and differences.  I think this would be fun for kids to make their own personal pizzas as well, but I’m not there yet!

I confess–I also ate a handful of pistachios and a dark chocolate square before bedtime.

P.S. I think it might have been the artificial sweetener in the coffee at work that I had earlier in the day causing me to be so hungry.  I don’ drink it often at work, but when I do I get cravings in the evening after work.  That must have been it.  Does that happen to you all?

Question of the Day:  What are your favorite pizza topping combinations?

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. 😦  Fortunately,  I made it home safely! 🙂  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 😉

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. 🙂

XOXO,

Melissa

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! 🙂

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> 😉

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?