A Quick Fix

Due to my working late last night at our Cajun themed Family Literacy Night to promote reading and writing, I did not get home til 8:30.  Though I was hungry (I did have a small taste of the jambalaya that was handed out at about 4:30) by that time, I just wanted something quick yet not too much that I would feel sick for bed.  So I went with Caitlin’s suggestion of a steamed sweet potato topped with baked beans.  I did not even snap a picture because my husband told me it did not look good, but I assure it tastes good.  I also had two lemony flavored fleur de lis shaped cookies that i brought home from the event.  Again, no picture. 😦

Looking back on Tuesday’s dinner, it was a quick, tasty dinner.  I prepared a pork loin served with cheesy Harvest Grains Blend from Trader Joe’s (mom picked it up in Chicago) aside steamed veggies. 

DSC00509 DSC00511 DSC00514

I followed the instructions for baking the lemon-garlic flavored loin by cooking at 350* for 45 minutes until the meat thermometer registered to 165*.  It was moist and tender.

For the grains, I cooked them according to the package directions by adding a tsp. of Brummel & Brown and simmering covered ten minutes.  For a cheesy addition, I heated up 1/4 cup lowfat milk, 1/4 cup fat free greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup applewood smoked cheddar cheese.  I did not care for the cheese on its own but once added to the couscous, orzo, bean, quinoa mix; it added a nice smoky flavor which Chris thought was bacon.

As for some of my other meals, the past two days for your viewing pleasure:

DSC00502

Hummus and Veggie Sammie with Babybel Light

DSC00506

Tuesday Lunch along with a Chobani Yogurt while home with the cable guy.

And Wednesday…..Breakfast Sammie of Peanut Butter, Sliced Peach, and Cinnamon

DSC00527

Lunch contained some leftover cheesy grains + Fage Greek and Honey Yogurt

DSC00529 

I once again will have a late night at work, but only until six tonight.   So dinner will likely be something picked up or a quick salad, maybe eggs.  I don’t know.

What is your favorite quick fix dinner for those late night meals?

Onset of Winter Brings Soup Craving

After seeing pictures of Lentil Soup on some other blogs since the turn of Fall, I have been wanting to make some of my own.  So several weeks ago I purchased a pound of Camellia’s dried lentils intending on simply following the recipe on back of the package for cooking the legumes.  They were stuck in my cabinet with little thought as to when they would be cooked.

I’ve grown up my entire life eating Camellia’s red beans, great northerners, black eye peas, but I do not [think] I have ever eaten lentils.  With the onset of the cooler weather this past weekend, I decided today was the day to conjure up some lentil soup of sorts in addition to using up some of the sweet potatoes from hubby’s garden.

After scrounging the Internet for a recipe after work today, I decided I did not have all of the ingredients needed for each of the recipes I found–including some items I’ve never cooked with like leeks and pancetta as well as some more common items like celery and carrots.  Alternatively, I decided to “wing it.”  The entire time I was a bit nervous as to how it would taste, but Chris and I both agreed it was flavorful and delicious. Okay, truthfully my husband said, “I love it! Are you going to tell them on your blog?  Make it a good one.” 🙂  He also mentioned it had a nice aftertaste and said it made the house smell good.  So here goes!

DSC00351 DSC00353

Lentil, Sweet Potato, & Bacon Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried lentils, rinsed

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 slices of bacon

6-10 cups water (I used about 8 cups.)

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Salt and Pepper

Optional toppings: hot sauce, gouda cheese, greek yogurt

Directions: In a large pot, brown bacon until cooked through; remove bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.  Drain out most of the bacon grease leaving approximately 1 tablespoon in pot to saute’ onions.  Add onion to pot and sauté for 5-8 minutes until tender.  Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.  Toss in sweet potato cubes, lentils, and 6 cups of water (add more throughout cooking time if necessary to make soup) and stir.  Season soup with curry powder through salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer on low for an hour, stirring occasionally.  Crumble bacon before serving soup.  Ladle soup into bowl and top with desired toppings and bacon pieces.

DSC00360 I ate a bowl of this with way too many of these.

DSC00358

Crackers  + Brummel & Brown

The rest of today’s meals included:

Sweet Potato Pie + Greek Yogurt + Maple Syrup + Cinnamon for Breakfast.  And a mug of chai tea.

DSC00340

 

DSC00341

Lunch was a Sandwich Thin topped with Laughing Cow Light Swiss, Bell Pepper, frozen cucumbers from my refrigerator, spring mix + apple and peanut butter + five Triscuit crackers.

DSC00347

Surprisingly, my sammie was yummy with frozen, soggy cucumbers and all!

Now I have to go finish cleaning the kitchen and packing leftover soup to stick in the freezer.

DSC00364

Good Night and Stay Warm! 😉

Why Not on Wednesday

Why not wake up on time?  Because I’m tired.

Why not start the day with warm oats on a chilled fall morning?  Because I already had the cold overnight oats soaking in the fridge.

9-21-10 004

Oats, plain yogurt, low fat milk, banana, figs, honey, cinnamon

 9-21-10 006

9-21-10 010

Why not take the whole thirty minute lunch break to eat and socialize in the lounge?  Because I had copies to run off  and work to be done.

9-21-10 001

Whole wheat sammie with chicken, provolone (reduced fat), spinach and honey mustard + cucumber, tomato, light italian dressing + peach

9-21-10 002 

Why not eat a healthy snack?  Because a coworker brought me a piece of cake from her baby shower and I just couldn’t turn it down; and oh it was good!! Thanks J.H.! 🙂

9-21-10 011

Why not work out after work?  Because my sister asked me to come help watch her little ones while she got her hair done.

9-21-10 015

Why not eat dinner at a reasonable hour?  Because I stayed at my sister’s house too long and ended up ordering take-out with them…

….after eating some of these with my nephew.

9-21-10 012

Why not order a wonton soup and veggie dish?  Because hub would get the leftovers for his dinner and he likes beef and broccoli.

9-21-10 013

9-21-10 014

My portion + some fruit + fortune cookie

9-21-10 017

Mango (had a second slice of mango unpictured), honeydew, pineapple, cantaloupe, grapes

Why not go to bed at a reasonable time?  Because I had to do dishes from last night and blog.

Question of the Night:  Why not do something good for yourself tomorrow?  There is no reason not to!  What will you do for you tomorrow?

Happy 57th Birthday

Sorry I’ve been away for awhile.  Let’s track back to Thursday; shall we.  On Thursday Mom celebrated her …..

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to Mom

For dinner on Thursday we went to Mr. Ed’s.  I had only been there once before which I actually enjoyed the first time, but tonight the restaurant was having an off night.  I do not know if they had a new chef, were short staffed, running low on ingredients, or had they wanted to get us in and out without taking note of how our food was being cooked.

I started with a side salad with house made Italian on the side.  I usually request a low fat or fat free dressing, but they make their’s in-house so they do not have those offerings.  Instead of pouring the entire cup of dressing on the salad, I used the “dip fork in dressing, then salad” method. So I still got the taste of the dressing, but with out consuming all of the oily marinade.  For my meal I chose grilled red snapper which came with roasted new potatoes and steamed vegetables.

Grilled Red Snapper

It came with a lemon butter sauce which I used the same method as with the salad, but not on every bite.  Although every bite could have used it.  The food was not very well cooked tonight.  My snapper was overcooked and dry, my veggies were undercooked, and my broccoli, in particular, had a taste such that it was left in the freezer not well sealed or a bit too long–also known as “freezer-burnt.”  Sister’s grilled shrimp were undercooked, so much so that when she took a bite and got through the outer layer it was so mushy had to spit it out only to find the grey raw shrimp color.  That equals not cool!  Brother-in-law eats there all of the time and is friend’s with the owner, but he even stated his Bar-B-Q chicken was dry.  What a disappointing meal!

Now I did go with a lighter meal because I knew we had dessert to come.  I bought a red velvet cake earlier in the day, but that went uneaten (Mom took it to work Friday to share with her coworkers) due to the complimentary desserts the waitresses brought out because of Sister’s raw shrimp and Mom’s birthday.

"Happy Birthday to You" + Desserts with Candles

The highlight of the night included Bananas Foster Pie, Lemon Icebox Pie, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Chocolate Mousse Cake–all made in-house.

The dessert was the best part of the evening aside from the company.  I had a taste of each.

Brother-in-Law thought it would be funny to play a joke on Mom as he does always try to do.  Take a look at him, I can’t even get a straight picture.

Meet Duke of The Duke Academy–He is a personal trainer for athletes around the country as well as local children and adults.

So Duke thought it would be comical to tell the waitress Mom was turning 57.  And it was quite a funny joke when the waitress brought out the plate stating “Happy 57th Birthday!”

Now does she look 57?

Well she is not!!  Mom turned …..-…. today!  What is the saying…A lady never tells….

So all in all it was a fun night due to the people who were in it.  My sis just had a baby two weeks ago and preferred going unpictured. But here is her first child, my cutie pie nephew.

Nat, another trainer at The Duke Academy also joined us.

Unfortunately my hubby had work so he couldn’t make it. 😦

Here are the rest of Thursday’s eats in pictures.

Peanut Butter, Apple, and Cinnamon Wrap + Hot Tea

Turkey, Laughing Cow Light, and Spinach Sammie + Veggies + Pistachios

Sammie Close Up

Spoon of This Sweet Stuff

Now go ahead!  Take a guess!  How old does Mom look?

Portion Contortions

At times I find myself trying to contort my portions of food so that my brain thinks that I am getting more food than is actually on my plate. To start, let’s take a look at breakfast.

 

9-21-10 002

For breakfast I completely enjoyed my toasted sandwich thin topped with sliced banana, cottage cheese, honey drizzles and cinnamon.  This meal was oh so sweet and satisfying.

9-21-10 006

Instead of making the sandwich closed, I left it open faced topping each half with a half of the banana.  Then I topped each half with 1/4 cup of cottage cheese rather than having a 1/2 cup serving all in one scoop.  Ultimately, making the sandwich this way takes up more of the plates surface area, which deceptively makes my mind think I have more food to indulge in rather than one small sandwich that barely covers my plate.  Ideally I could have opted for a smaller plate aiding in that perception. 

9-21-10 007

For lunch today I had some leftover brown rice that was mixed with veggies from Sunday Night’s Slow Cooker Chicken and Veggies.  On the side I lapped up some Greek honey yogurt.

9-21-10 003

Side note—For Sunday’s dinner, to a crock pot I added three chicken breasts atop one chopped potato, a sliced onion, minced garlic, sliced squash, and corn removed from the ear.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper and poured a can of reduced sodium cream of mushroom condensed soup on top.  I set the cooker on high for four hours.  Two hours in, I poured about a cup of water over the top of the mixture.  Once the slow cooker went off, I cooked brown rice and steamed some brussel sprouts  to add to the slow cooker.  I let the rice absorb the liquid mixture by setting the crock pot to warm setting and letting it rest for about 20 minutes longer.   Here is the picture from my Sunday slow cooker meal.

9-21-10 001

The appearance is not the most appeasing, but it was much like a rice and chicken casserole.  My hub enjoyed it thoroughly! 

Back to lunch—I chose a small container to fill my fair portion of rice and veggies (one chicken breast was eaten by me, two others were eaten by hubby for two meals so none was left in the rice).  I often see people bring very large containers for their food and it is sometimes more than a serving but other times they have a whole lot of empty space making it appear to be too little food.

9-21-10 004  

9-21-10 005

I found these smaller containers of greek yogurt that are only 90 calories per serving as opposed to the normal 150 calories in the larger containers.  All in all, my rice + veggies combined with the side of yogurt kept me full all the way until dinner.

For dinner tonight, I made a variation of Christina’s Orzo and Shrimp Bake which can be viewed at Hungry Meets Healthy.

9-21-10 009  I did not have tomatoes so I used store-bought tomato and basil sauce instead.  I began by cooking the orzo according to the package.

Shrimp and Orzo with Feta

1 lb. orzo, cooked

1tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Salt to taste

2 cups tomato-basil sauce

4 ounces reduced fat feta cheese

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350*.  Heat oil in skillet.  Add onion and sauté until softened.  Add shrimp,  garlic, red pepper, and oregano.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Pour shrimp into greased glass casserole dish.  Add orzo, sauce, and salt to shrimp and mix to combine.  Crumble feta over the top of the entire casserole dish.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until heated through and shrimp are cooked.

9-21-10 011

For dinner, I used a salad plate.  To bulk up my portion I plated a cup? or so of steamed vegetables and added a cup of the orzo shrimp mixture on top.  I first read of this portioning technique on Julie’s blog at PB Fingers.  I like this idea of manipulating your brain to enjoy the full flavor of the pasta dish, but filling the belly with healthy veggies at the same time.

9-21-10 012

9-21-10 010

Shortly after dinner I felt the munchies settling in.  So to satisfy my sweet tooth I ate a bowl of cereal which contained a mixture of shredded wheat puffs, blueberry flakes, and apple cinnamon o’s.  I actually have a bowl from a chip and dip set that I use for small portion eats.

9-21-10 013

Often people trying to lose weight will begin making healthy changes to their diet; however, they do not watch portion sizes.  I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.  No matter what foods you eat, you can’t lose weight if you consume the same or more calories than your body burns. 

For example, if you make the switch to brown rice or whole wheat pasta, that in itself will not make you lose weight.  A cup of brown rice has the same number of calories as a cup of white rice.  The point of doing that is more about the nutrients your body gains from brown versus white.  In regards to losing weight, perhaps cut back from your normal 2 cup serving of rice to 1 cup or even less.

The bottom line is that you have to be honest with portion sizes.  Use the tricks listed above including using smaller containers and plates, spreading your food out over the plate, or bulking up portions with healthier options like steamed vegetables.

If you have trouble eyeballing portion sizes, take some time to actually measure out portions.  I go through several measuring cups and measuring spoons a day.  But from doing it so much, I do have a better idea of portion sizes.  The list below is a guide for portion sizes if you prefer to manage your portions without measuring.

Serving Size Compatible Object
1 teaspoon 1 dice
2 tablespoons Golf ball
1 cup Tennis ball
4 ounces (meats) Deck of cards
1 ounce (cheese) 4 dice

Questions of the Night:  Do you watch portion size or just eat what you want?  What tips do you use to manage portion sizes?

Vegan Banana Nut Muffins

I am not becoming a vegan; however, when one is missing some staples due to her incessant need to get to the grocery store and is craving Banana Nut Muffins there is only one thing to do.  Go vegan! 🙂

Vegan Banana Nut Muffins

Servings: 12 muffins

Wet Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas, mashed (defrosted from frozen)

1/4 c canola oil

1/8 tsp almond extract

1/4 c brown sugar

1/4 c turbinado sugar

Dry Ingredients:

1 c whole wheat flour

1/2 c all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 c salted mixed nuts, crushed

Directions: Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease muffin pans with nonstick spray or use paper cups in pans.  Mix all wet ingredients until well combined and bananas are mashed thoroughly.  In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients.  Combine all ingredients together and mix.  Use ice cream scoop to add mixture to muffin tins.  Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Nutritional Information (courtesy of 411fit): Calories: 164 Carbs: 22.4 g Fat: 6.4 g Protein: 2.7 g Sodium: 85.2 mg


These muffins are tasty and sweet, but not overly sweetened.  Much of the fat is heart healthy, “good for you” fats.  If making this recipe for one with nut allergies, you can substitute rolled oats in place of the nuts for a nutty-like texture, but you should also add a pinch of salt if doing that.  No added salt was needed in the recipe used above because the nuts used were pre-salted.  These muffins received the hubby-stamp-of-approval! :0)

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

Quick recap of Yesterday’s Eats

Starbuck's Spinach, Feta, Egg White Wrap + Grande Nonfat Pumpkin Spice Latte, No Whip

Inner Workings of a Tasty Wrap

Hospital Sammie on Whole Wheat with Turkey, Swiss, Mustard, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles + Yoplait Light Cherry

A 2 and 1/2 Year Old Little Boy Stole ALL of My Yogurt, So Here Lies My Sammie

Final King Bar and Coffee Once Home

Peanut Chicken Lo Mein From Freezer (See Recipes) + Chinese Veggies from this Week

After Dinner Chocolate Square

POM Juice Cocktail

Acts of Kindness

There are good people in this world!  That sounds a bit cliche’, but it is pure and simple truth.  A few weeks ago as I was listening to Lifesongs Christian music station on my way to work, I heard this touching story.

As I listened intently on the radio, my eyes began to well up with tears as I thought about what this one woman started by lending a helping hand to a stranger.  Now I am not saying we all need to lend out money to someone in need, but I think a small act of kindness can do wonders for both parties involved.  Additionally, there is a commercial that I love (I think it is an insurance commercial) where it shows one person do something kind for another, and that person displays kindness towards another, and the cycle continues.  It truly demonstrates  how a small act of kindness can turn a world filled with so much negativity into a much more positive place to live.

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

I needed a helping hand to get myself out of bed this morning in the form of my alarm clock.  After yesterday’s late night at work, I was and still am feeling somewhat lackadaisical.  Following my awakening I made a bowl of rolled oats to enjoy for breakfast.

After heating a half cup of oats with a half cup of water, and a half cup of almond milk, I threw in half of a sliced banana (other half went in the freezer), a few raspberries, a teaspoon of peanut butter, a drizzle of honey, and a small handful of granola.

Close Up

Later on for lunch, I finished up the eggplant and shrimp casserole.  For some added nutrients, I ate sliced cucumbers and a baby orange bell from the garden, and a plum.

Lunch in the Lounge

A coworker walked in the lounge and said something smelled good after I had just finished heating my lunch; I presume it was my casserole because it sure tasted goooood! 😉

Even though I felt like I could use a nap after work, I decided to head straight to the gym for an energy boost.  Prior to my arrival, I ate a Think Thin Lemon Cream Pie Bar.  Mom bought me a couple at the gym’s cafe the other day because the nutritionist, Molly, who works there recommended them.

As I was eating it, I couldn’t help but wonder about my two King Bars I still have in my fridge.  I most definitely prefer those over the Think Thin.  The white chocolate, lemony flavored bar reminded me greatly of a protein bar with it’s chalky-like texture.  I finished it, but wasn’t satisfied with the flavor or the texture, but it is under 200 calories which I *heart* in a bar if I’m going to eat one.

Once I arrived at the gym, I overheard two ladies’ discussion about having mints or gum.  I could have minded my own business and pretended not to hear.  But I reached in my purse for my mints and my gum, peaked my head around the corner of the lockers, and said, “Gum or mints,” as I held up both.  They graciously accepted, and one of the woman said she was indebted to me.  Really, it was just two mints;  I certainly did not expect anything in return from my sharing two mints.  Just a small, simple act of kindness.

I carried on with my warm up of 15 minutes on the elliptical, approx. 30 minutes of strength training, and a final 15 minutes on the treadmill.

As I watched Oprah while doing the elliptical machine, I was listening to the generous and humble Will.I.Am, from Black Eye Peas, speak about his charity where he, out of his own pocket, pays off mortgages of families in need here in America.  On the show, Oprah announced Will would be paying off two houses of guests who were on the show.  My eyes soon began to fill with tears and the hairs on my arms stood just hearing about all the good this one man is doing.  Gosh, I must have looked silly working out wiping away tears from my face.  Or maybe it was just sweat that I was wiping away. 😉

Before leaving the gym I texted my hubby to ask him what he wanted for dinner.  Earlier in the day I mentioned picking up Chinese food so I could take the night off from my cooking duties.  So I stopped at the Little Chinese Kitchen on my way home.  It is a fairly new take-out Chinese restaurant.  I placed my order of Beef & Broccoli for the hub, and veggie dish with a small wonton soup for me.  I requested brown rice with my veggies, but they only offer white.

White Rice, Veggies, and Wonton Soup

I portioned out some of the order to enjoy!

I had 2 wontons out of the 5 that came in my soup with half of the broth and a few crispy fried wontons.  My veggie bowl included a packed half cup of rice with about 1 cup of the veggie mixture.

Daily Dose of Greens

Salty Comfort in a Mug

*Warning* Be aware of portion size when dining on Chinese.

FYI:  I am about to eat my fortune cookie once I hit publish.

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

I could add more stories that exemplify kindness, but there are just so many stories that hit my heart in its soft spot.  It goes without saying, the main point is that true kindness comes from within.  Kindness is displayed when the person sharing it wants or asks for nothing in return, nor do they boast about it.  Kindness is the unspoken that comes from the heart!

Question of the Night:  Do you have any stories that exemplify true kindness in your eyes?  Please share.