Eat and Tell: Some of the Meals I’ve Been Eating Lately

Two posts in two days…apparently it’s the weekend and I actually have a teensy bit of time for writing to you!  On that note, I feel like I have taken pictures of food lately, but then not had any time to write about my meals…so I thought I’d roll a few posts into one.

Sesame Fish:
Tilapia
2 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp rice vinegar
2 tblsp lite/low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp chopped garlic (I use 3 or 4 cloves)
2 tblsp sesame seeds
Spray broiler pan w/ olive oil cooking spray and place Tilapia.  Whisk together liquid ingredients and garlic, then pour over fish.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and broil at medium heat for about 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
I made this for dinner when Rob was still here, and he left for work up North on Monday morning…so I’m guessing this was dinner on Sunday.  The Sesame Fish recipe is straight out of the 17 Day Diet book, and it’s one of our favourites.  Healthy, quick, easy and delicious – what’s not to love?  As you can see in the picture, we ate this with steamed Broccoli and Cauliflower that had been sprinkled with a bit of Mrs. Dash and some KRAFT light 4 Cheese Italiano, accompanied by a tossed salad and a mug of green tea.  Delightful meal – super filling and perfect for next day leftovers!
Fajita Soup:
In a large soup pot sprayed with olive oil, saute:
Coarsely chopped onion
Chopped red, yellow & orange peppers
Finely chopped jalapeno pepper (seeds too!)

Sprinkle in a packet of low sodium fajita seasoning and stir, then add:

Baked chicken breast (I use whatever I have on hand – this time it was about 4 large breasts that I had sprinkled with Mrs. Dash, cooked, chopped and frozen last week)
Broth (I go for low sodium or no salt added whenever possible; this time I used 3 tetra packs of chicken and 2 of veggie)
796 ml can of no salt added diced tomatoes
540 ml can of Aylmer Spicy Red Pepper tomatoes
127 ml can of chopped green chilies
540 ml can of black beans (rinse these first to get rid of the goopy sauce and a LOT of unnecessary sodium!)

I let the soup simmer for a while (usually 1/2 hour or longer) and give it a little stir occasionally.

I usually make a giant pot of this soup so that I can freeze a few containers for quick meals when I’m rushed; it is one of my all time favourites!

Turkey Taco Salad:
Spray a large frying pan with olive oil and add ground turkey breast (I use 2 packages of Lilydale that come as a combo pack at Costco – I’m not exactly sure how much that is).  Fry, stirring occasionally, until browned fully.
Add a packet of low sodium taco seasoning mix and about 1/2 cup of water and stir.

While turkey is browning, wash, dry, and chop your salad veggies.  I use green leaf lettuce, spinach, carrots, celery, cucumber, red onion and Roma tomatoes, but you can feel free to add whatever salad ingredients your little heart desires!

Add salad to a large bowl and top liberally with turkey, then sprinkle a bit of Light 4 Cheese Italiano (occasionally I leave out the cheese), and finally add a few spoonfuls of your favourite salsa.  Mix it all together and enjoy!

This was last night’s dinner (I actually ate TWO bowls of salad), and as you can see, I enjoyed it with a large green tea from Timmie’s.  Although I’ve won 7 free coffees (which I always sub with green tea), I was not so lucky last night.  I’ve been picking up the tab of the vehicle in line behind me pretty regularly, so I’m hoping good karma comes my way and I win a vehicle before Roll Up the Rim is over…positive thinking, right?!

Advertisements

17 Day Diet Update

Hi folks!

Thought I would give you an update about my progress with the 17 Day Diet, since the last time I posted about it, I told you that I had paused.  Remember that prior to starting this diet that I was eating well-balanced, healthy meals with the occasional indulgence; this would have been a great plan if it wasn’t for the 2 1/2 month hiatus from any sort of calorie burning exercise – damn back injury!  I re-started the “diet” on Monday, January 30th, and it’s mostly going well, though there have been a few roadblocks I’ve had to navigate around.

On Tuesday, I attended a PD session with Dr. Steven Layne (an excellent children’s author and expert on engaging students of all ages in reading – check him out; you won’t be disappointed!  But I digress…back to the Diet).  Before hand, I had been told by the powers that be that “there will be a variety of healthy options, including some vegetarian items.”  Now, I have no desire to be a vegetarian, but that statement assured me that there would be something there for me that would fit the 17 Day Diet.  Wrong.  Would you like to know what “healthy” options my school division served for breakfast?  Banana bread and scones, and a syrup-y fruit salad.  Yum.  For lunch we were served Caesar salad, dinner rolls, lasagna, vegetarian lasagna and cake.  “Healthy options” my ass.  They did try to appease the vegetarian people, so I suppose I’ve got to give them some credit for that.  I did eat some banana bread and lasagna, but it’s a good thing I stashed a yogurt and two pieces of fruit in my purse!

Later that night I hosted book club* and that only happens once every month and a half to two months, so I had already planned a little indulgence.  I enjoyed a glass of red wine (or four – who’s counting?) and sampled the appies (Spanikopita with Tzatziki, hummus dip, guacamole, pepperoni and cheese tray, and a cinnamon roll) in place of my regular dinner.  My friend Tiffany also brought a delightful surprise dip that was like a Village Greek salad and hummus dip rolled into one (If you are reading this Tif, can I please get the recipe?).  I know it’s sorta lame that I “indulged” on Day 2 of my diet, but I really believe that (unless food has become an unhealthy addiction for you) it’s okay to roll with the punches, enjoy foods that make you happy, and then get right back on track.  So that is what I did.

I ate well all of Wednesday and all day Thursday, but enjoyed the Roast Beef buffet and a few beers at the Edmonton Oilers game Thursday night.  That’s right – I was at that game.  Sam Gagner tied Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffee for an Oilers’ points record:  he had 4 goals and 4 assists for 8 points total on the night.  It was incredible…and there is nothing wrong with celebrating a little bit when a player from your team has that kind of night – even if I did start the celebrating before the game actually began!

Other than those few “indulgences,” I’ve been eating quite well:  lots of fruit, veggies and lean protein.  Today is Day 9 and I was down to 148.6 lbs this morning.  That is a 5 lb drop from Day 1, and means that I’ve got 13 lbs more to go to reach my goal.  I’ll keep you posted!

* We read John Grisham’s The Confession for book club, but I didn’t finish it (do you remember how hectic this past month has been for me?!).  The other ladies in my book club all scored the book at 3 out of 5 fingers, and told me that I would be better off starting one of the books from my giant “to read” pile than attempting to finish reading The Confession.  That probably tells you all you need to know about the book.

Spicy Chicken Veggie Soup

This is what I ate for dinner tonight:

I took this pic with my Blackberry; no ever said I should be a photographer.

It was delicious.  It also fits Cycle 1 of the 17 Day Diet, which I have been following lately.  I ate two bowls full with about 1/2 cup of fat-free cottage cheese and an apple.  I know that the 17 Day Diet says I am not supposed to eat fruit after 2 pm, but I don’t care.  I sometimes eat more than 2 pieces of fruit in a day too.  I am such a rebel.

Here is how I made the soup:

I sprayed a baking tray with EVOO using my new Misto Oil Sprayer, and then sprinkled Mrs. Dash Chicken onto 3 large chicken breasts before baking at 350 for about an hour.  While the chicken was baking, I went for a run.  My house did not burn down, and I wasn’t even a little bit worried that it would.
When I came home, I took the chicken out of the oven and let it rest to cool a little.
I chopped up:
3 large carrots
5 celery stalks
1 white onion
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
I threw all of the veggies in a soup pot with a spray of EVOO, and cooked over med-low heat until the veggies were a bit soft (I tossed the veggies in the pot as I chopped them, but I’d say it was about 10-15 min total).
Then I chopped the chicken breasts, and added 3 Tetra Paks of Campbell’s No Salt Added Chicken broth, 2 Tetra Paks of Knorr Vegetable broth and a can of Aylmer Accents Spicy Red Pepper tomatoes.  I sprinkled in a dash each of Sage and Thyme, then added a packet of Old El Paso Smart Fiesta low sodium Fajita mix and 3 bay leaves.  I let the soup simmer on low for about an hour before I dished it up to eat.  Like I said earlier – it was delicious!
What I love most about soup is that I can make a giant pot, eat some, freeze some for quick meals at a later date, and leave a bit in the pot in my fridge to reheat for the next day or two.  All of those meals from less than 1/2 an hour of actual work.  Soup is my friend.

Confession Time

I’m a quitter.  Well maybe not a quitter, exactly; more like a pauser.  Yes – we will go with that – I’m a pauser.  What am I talking about, you ask?  Well, let me tell you…

Remember back a few weeks when I told you all about the 17 Day Diet, and how I had started it back up?  Yeah…about that.  I made it as far as Day 7 into Cycle 1 and then hit pause.  I know, I know – I’m a terrible person and an even worse role model.  My bad.  But at least let me explain!

I have been out-of-town for ten out of the last fourteen days with medical appointments, yoga teacher training, and Diploma exam marking.  Of the four days that I was at home, I spent three evenings at school past 10pm doing work to try to catch up and/or prepare for being away.  The one remaining night was my massage followed by a yoga class, so I didn’t get home until after 7:30pm.  On top of that, my husband has also been working out-of-town, so he isn’t around to help with meals, AND I started teaching my new fitness class, which takes me time to plan.  Crazy, right?  I tried so hard to make time for meal planning and cooking, but that just didn’t really pan out.  I still ate relatively healthy food, I just included pasta and pizza in there a few times.  At least it was whole grain pizza with lots of veggies!  Oh, and I always ate a garden salad – not a Caesar salad, either; that crap doesn’t even count as salad it’s so bad for you.  Part of me feels a little guilty, but at the same time I also realize that I am human and need to do what is best for all of me, which includes prioritizing my time once in a while in order to maintain my sanity.  Sometimes that means microwaving something I’ve got in the freezer, or ordering the healthiest options on the take out menu* so that I don’t have to spend time cooking.  It just kinda sucks that “sometimes” has encompassed almost all of the past two weeks.

Oh, well – c’est la vie!  I will get back on track very soon – I’m out-of-town again Friday morning for the whole weekend, and I have realized that it just doesn’t work to start a new eating plan when you can’t actually cook for yourself, so Monday it is!

* I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about The 17 Day Diet; you can stay on the diet and still eat out once in a while, even during Cycle 1.  For me in these crazy last two weeks, though, it was almost every day.  Generally speaking, though, it is actually pretty doable to fit the diet into your lifestyle, so long as you plan your weekly meals and can make some time for cooking.  When we did Cycles 1-3 before, we found that the keys were planning and routine; two things I just haven’t been able to manage in the last two weeks.

Baked Salmon with Agave Nectar

This is a delightful recipe that I “nutriti-a-fied” to fit with the 17 Day Diet.  You can see the original here.  I had beautiful intentions of taking a picture of my dinner last night, but my camera batteries are dead, and for the life of me I cannot find the charger.  Some day soon – I promise.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of Agave Nectar
2 tbsp soy sauce*
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
black pepper (4-5 turns of the pepper mill)
1 Salmon fillet*

Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish.  Combine other ingredients in a measuring cup or small dish and whisk together.  Pour over salmon, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Turn salmon about 1/2 way through.  Pre-heat oven to 400 ° and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes (time will depend upon the thickness of your fish).  When the salmon flakes easily with a fork, you will know it is done. Makes 5-7 servings, depending on how hungry you are!

The Verdict:  Rob and I both LOVE this recipe, and it is super duper easy to make; he even cooks it once in a while!  It goes well with any vegetable, but my favourite is roasted asparagus with balsamic vinaigrette and a side salad.  Delicious!

* I try to use lower sodium soy sauce.  We have read all of the labels in our supermarket, and even the “Low sodium” versions are pretty high in salt.  China Lily is the brand we found with the lowest sodium content, but it still has 570mg/tbsp.  If I find a brand with lower sodium I will give it a try. 

* The original recipe calls for 1lb of salmon, but I use a whole fillet of Atlantic Salmon that looks like this:

This is a picture of TWO fillets for those of you who are confused.  If you are going to use both fillets, I would double the recipe.  Just a thought.

 

I am confident you could use salmon steaks instead with lovely results, but I’ve never tried it myself.  The skin on the fish actually freaks me out a little bit.  I fully realize that is ridiculous, you don’t have to tell me.

Chicken Soup for the 17 Day Dieter’s Soul

I promised recipes, and since I’m doing Cycle 1 of The 17 Day Diet, I figure that it sorta makes sense to start there.  One major change we’ve made with our cooking is to use low or no sodium products when possible.  Usually we find this doesn’t actually make a big difference in taste – especially when we use other spices to punch up flavour.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Except for baking the chicken, I did everything in one pot.

Bake 3 chicken breasts at 350° for around 35 min (I think – it might have been longer.  I actually did this the night before since I needed chicken for something else, then just chopped it and put it in the fridge for next day’s soup.)  I usually sprinkle with a salt-free seasoning like Mrs. Dash Chicken.

Saute chopped onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms and garlic in a tiny bit of Olive Oil (I’d say it was around 10 min by the time everything was chopped and tossed in the pot)

Toss in some chopped purple cabbage and let it cook until slightly wilted (probably 3-5 minutes).  I used about 1/4 of a small head since I had it on hand for something else and wanted to try purple instead of green, which I had used before.

Add broth (I used 2 Tetra Packs each of Kitchen Basics unsalted Chicken / Vegetable broth) and a can of diced tomatoes (I used 28oz can of Alymer No Salt Added).

Add chicken breast pieces and additional spices (I used a shake of Sage, two shakes of Thyme and a very small handful of dried Basil.  It tasted boring, so I added a packet of Old Elpaso Smart Fiesta reduced salt taco seasoning).

Simmer on low for a minimum of 15-20 minutes, up to an hour or more if you’d like.

The Verdict:  I’ll admit it:  I’m a title writing recipe misleader.  This chicken vegetable soup recipe concoction wasn’t awesome.  It wasn’t terrible, either, and maybe someone can learn something from it, so I’m posting it anyway.  It tasted alright, but both Rob and I agree that something was a little odd.  It certainly wasn’t anything so special that it nurtured my soul.  Sorry to deceive you – I just wanted you to read my very first recipe post.  I was already a little sad that the soup wasn’t amazing; I didn’t also want to be sad that no one was reading my first recipe post.  Plus I was kind of proud of the clever title, which I basically picked out before I even made the stupid soup.

Enough with my whining/groveling – let’s talk about what was up with the soup.  I have made virtually identical soups before that tasted fabulous, so why was this one weird?  Hmmm…excellent question – let’s figure it out!  I am pretty darn amazing, and my Grandma is basically the Queen of soup…so most of the time my soup concoctions are delightful creations.  Once before, though, I did make a beef vegetable soup that had the same “odd” quality.  What do these two soups have in common, you ask?  Two things:  they both had mushrooms, which I don’t usually put into veggie type soups, and they both used the Kitchen Basics Vegetable broth.  The odd flavour could be one of these things, or a combination of the two…but I tend to think it’s the veggie broth.  It’s darker than other veggie broths I’ve used in the past, and it had a slightly different smell as well.  Again, not bad, just odd.  I usually don’t care what brand of broth I buy (aside from the low sodium part), but maybe I will start paying more attention from here on out.

While it wasn’t a big hit flavour-wise, the soup was pretty filling.  The chicken pieces add protein, and all the veggies keep it thick enough to be a satisfying meal.  I would make this soup again, but I would try a different vegetable broth, or perhaps go with straight chicken broth instead.  If you give it a shot and come up with something tasty, please let me know what you did differently to make it that way!

Intro to The 17 Day Diet

Because one of my goals is to get back to 135lbs or less, I have decided to kick-start my weight loss by returning more mindfully to a healthy eating plan.  The plan I have chosen is called The 17 Day Diet.  I don’t really like to call this a diet, because it is more of a lifestyle change, but its creator – Dr. Mike Moreno – chose the name, and I suppose I have to honour that.

The 17 Day Diet is not new to me; I was introduced to it last February by two of my closest girlfriends.  This diet plan helped me drop from 165lbs – my heaviest weight ever – to 130lbs in less than two months, and it was very successful for my husband too!  Rob and I started Cycle 1 last February, then continued on through the cycles, and have basically followed Cycle 4 (the healthy eating permanent lifestyle change) on an ongoing basis since the end of April (though we are often a lot more liberal than Dr. Mike suggests!).  I have since realized that when I was super active and doing a lot of cardio on a regular basis, that being liberal with the healthy eating Cycle 4 was fine for me and still kept me at my ideal weight.  I could eat like more of a fat ass without actually getting a fat ass, because running and “Boot Camp” fitness classes easily burned off any excess calories I consumed.  When I had to stop running and taking those classes, though, those extra calories packed on 15lbs in 2 /12 months – and Ta Da, we had the fat ass!  Not acceptable.  I joke about my “fat ass,” even though I know that realistically 150lbs is far from being “fat.” It is also, however, far from where I want to be to look and feel my best.

Enter Cycle 1.  The concept is simple: consume lean protein from turkey, chicken, fish and eggs; plenty of what Dr. Mike calls “cleansing vegetables” (lots of veggies are allowed, but not the starchy stuff like potatoes, squash, beans, etc.); two servings of low sugar fruit before 2pm; two servings of a probiotic (like yogurt!); and small amounts of healthy fats (such as olive or flaxseed oil).  Eliminate other foods (processed stuff, red meat, high sugar stuff, etc.) and reduce your sodium intake, while drinking lots of water and some green tea.  Low fat dairy is okay in moderation, as are many condiments.  For Rob and I, the biggest impact came with reducing our sodium* and drinking a lot more water – it basically flushed out our systems, I think.

Cycle 2 and 3 introduce other foods (like lean cuts of red meat and natural starches) back into your diet in a way that keeps your body “confused” and using nutrition in a way that helps to continue weight loss.  I’ve written all of that off the top of my head just now, so for more precise and detailed information, I suggest buying or borrowing a copy of The 17 Day Diet book.

I’m not usually a fan of diets, and before we started The 17 Day Diet, I had never actually dieted in my life.  To me, a diet is something that people do in the short term to lose weight; it’s not something they can keep up to live a healthy, happy life.  As I mentioned earlier, though, the 17 Day Diet is really more of a lifestyle change, and I really believe that it is sustainable mostly sustainable* for the long term.  Dr. Mike provides a few recipes, and there are plenty of delicious recipes online as well.  And they don’t suck – in fact, many of the 17 Day Diet recipes I found when we did Cycle 1 the first time are now in our regular meal rotation!  I have even served a few of them to guests, who gave big compliments.

If you do a quick Google search it will become obvious fairly quickly that this is a pretty healthy and successful diet.  There are a lot of people who have experienced a great deal of success and have managed to keep the weight off using the Cycle 4 lifestyle change.  People with 20lbs and those with 200lbs have found the same successes, because it is healthy, it is realistic, and it is sustainable.  The beauty of this diet is that it is pure and simply healthy eating combined with healthy levels of activity, yet Cycle 1 is sort of a catalyst to help you see real results quickly – exactly what I need to bust out of this 15lb rut.  Have I convinced you yet?

I’ll keep you updated on my progress:

Day 1 Jan 5th – 150.0lbs (exactly!)

Day 2 Jan 6th – 149.4lbs (not a huge amount, but it is a start, and I suppose that I really don’t have all that far to go anyway)

Happy Healthy Eating my lovely blog readers!

* Rob especially had a salt problem.  He would literally dump salt onto everything without so much as tasting it first.  He even salted Lipton Chicken Noodle Soup, which is already loaded with sodium.  Puke.  We bought a bunch of salt-free seasonings (like Mrs. Dash), and started reading labels and making more conscious decisions about what products to buy.  Rob doesn’t throw salt on everything anymore, and he actually pays attention to most of what he puts in his mouth now.  [I worded that last part this way on purpose to see if he’s reading my blog; my perverted husband will be mildly upset..ha ha!]
* Staying on Cycle 1 (which Dr. Mike DOES NOT recommend) would NOT be sustainable, but Cycle 4 certainly is.  If you are engaging in high calorie burn activities (beyond the two x 17 minutes of moderate activity), then you would obviously need to include more (yet still healthy) food in your daily diet to satisfy your needs.  If you are not doing any cardio activity (like I didn’t) then you would need to have fewer “cheat days” to maintain.