Saturday, July 24, 2010

A week in meals...

To be honest, it's only three days in meals.  Josh traveled one night and the other nights that I planned for the week did not work out due to timing.  But, here's what I have for you!!

Okie Dokie Gnocchi with Spinach
(served with Salad)

1 pkg Gnocchi alla Gorgonzola (TJ's)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach
1/3 cup chopped onion
(I added cubed pancetta to Josh's portion)

Sautee the onions in pan.  Pour contents of the Gnocchi alla Gogonzola into same pan, over medium heat.  Cook for 5+ minutes until cheese is almost melted.  Add spinach (I thawed and drained it, but I think it might be better if added straight from the freezer).  Continue cooking for a few minutes until everything is heated through.  Gee, that was tough!

Optional - add frozen peas.  With the pancetta for Josh, I bought pre-cubed pancetta at TJ's and cooked it in a pan, then put it aside to drain on a paper towel while I made the Gnocchi.  I added the pancetta to his plate when I served it.

Wilted Southern Greens Blend
(served with salad & grilled shrimp)

1/2 bag Southern Greens Blend (TJ's)
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
juice from 1/2 lemon
1T olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup water

Heat oil in large pan on medium and add onion & garlic.  Cook for about one minute.  Add 1/2 package of Greens & water.  Cover and cook for about three minutes.  Uncover and toss with tongs.
Remove from heat when greens are wilted, toss with lemon juice.

The mixture of mustard, collards, spinach & turnip greens are nothing short of a nutritional powerhouse - and this tastes good!!  Do you know how dark, leafy greens can benefit you?  They are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease since they are low in fat, high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals, such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene.

Are you ready for #3?  This was seriously a lick-the-plate-clean kind of meal.

Soyaki Broiled Salmon
with Peanutty Sesame Noodles
(served with salad and steamed green beans)

2-3 wild-caught Salmon Fillets
1/2 cup Soyaki (Trader Joe's)
1T organic Dijon Mustard
2 green onions, chopped

Preheat broiler on high - place rack on second rung from top - approx. 6" away from heat source.  Combine Soyaki & mustard.  Pour over salmon and marinate for 10 minutes.  Place fillets on foil-lined baking sheet, discard marinade.  Broil approx. 8 minutes.  Remove from oven & top with green onions.

Peanutty Sesame Noodles:
8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
Easy Peanutty sauce (see below)
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup peeled & sliced cucumber
2 green onions, chopped

Easy Peanutty Sauce:
1/2 cup Tader Joe's Soyaki
1/4 cup organic, natural crunchy peanut butter
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup water

Whisk Soyaki, peanut butter & sesame oil until blended.  Add water and mix well.  Cook spaghetti according to package & drain.  Pour peanutty sauce over noodles and toss with carrots & cucumber.  Top with green onions.

Do you know what's so great about salmon?  In addition to being an excellent source of omega-3s, salmon are an excellent source of selenium, a very good source of protein, niacin and vitamin B12, and a good source of phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B6.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Words that inspire me

Are there any quotes or sources of inspiration & motivation that you look at each day?  Would you care to share them with us?

Here are two that I look at each morning and remember throughout the day:

Be the change you want to see in the world.
~ Ghandi ~

Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.
~ Nicholas Murray Butler ~

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Debi - Does P90X work?

I have heard this question many times.  Does P90X work the way they say it does? short, yes, it does.  Of course you have to set aside time every day to go push play, and it's best to follow a healthy & balanced nutrition plan (P90X comes with a great nutrition guide, complete with recipes).  Yes, you will be sore.  Yes, it's tough.  But if I could do it, I think pretty much anyone can!

I started doing P90X in June of 2009 after seeing a friend's incredible progress.  She has always been very fit, but, gosh, she looked incredible.  Then, another friend had talked about doing it as well.  I had never heard of it before, so I talked to them, watched the infomercials, watched YouTube videos - and thought about it...for a few months.  During that time, I had been running a little bit and eating healthier, so when I finally decided to commit (Decide, Commit...Succeed!) I was in a better frame of mind.  I thought, heck, I CAN DO THIS!

Now let's be real for a second.  I hadn't really done any push ups before.  No pull ups either.  I was VERY weak - my arms, my core - I wasn't sure how I would do it, but I was determined to try.  But, just like Tony Horton advises - and all Beachbody coaches will agree - this program can be modified.  It can be modified so that folks who are new to exercise CAN do this program!

I started out by doing all of my push ups on my knees.  I was focused on maintaining good form (straight back - no bowing or arching) rather than getting as deep as I could.  While Josh used the pull up bar, I used a set of resistance bands that I hooked up to a door so they were suspended overhead.  I did this for my first 90 days.  I still got a great workout.  I still ended my 90 days with a 13 pound weight loss and some defined muscles.  I was thrilled with my results.  Although I did not take pictures as I should have, I will share some before (Spring '09) and after (July '10) pictures with you below.

I am now able to do my push ups with good form, on my toes, and I am able to go much deeper than I could when I started.  I still drop to my knees if I think I can do more but my back starting bowing.  I now do my pull ups using the pull up bar, but I still use a chair for support.  One day I will bang out pull ups without a chair - but until then, I look back to when I started and am so proud of the progress I have made.  You can do this too!

If you are considering buying this program but you are just not quite ready to commit...are you ready for my advice?  Listen to those folks at Nike.  JUST DO IT.  You will NOT regret it.  Still, though, if you think it might not be the right program for you, I would be more than happy to talk about some of the other Beachbody programs.  I have done several of them, so I can speak from experience.

Are you ready to take a step to be a healthier, more fit, stronger YOU?  Then contact me and let's talk about getting you set up with the best program for you.

Here it is...The workouts, the Program guide and the Nutritional Guide.
All you really need is a set of resistance bands to start.

A few other items that I recommend, but are not necessary to begin the program:
Pull up bar, Dumbbells, workout Gloves (prevent calluses),
Yoga mat (for yoga & abs workouts), Heart Rate Monitor, Push up stands


And - to keep it are the pictures I mentioned above...

This is from Spring 2009.  My friend posted this on her Facebook page.  
When I saw it, I was incredibly embarrassed that I had let myself look like this.  This picture is what gave me that motivation to get my act together and start taking better care of myself.  That's me on the right, with Korinne.


This picture below is from this morning.  I am still a work in progress - I need to work on toning up, for sure (this is where TurboFire and ChaLEAN Extreme come in - and they are already helping me get closer to where I'd like to be).  But you get the idea.  I do not plan to look like that picture above - ever again.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weekly meal plan ~ July 11th - 17th

This was a good week in meals!!  They all came out well...and Josh even ate them (that says something!)  I got pretty much all of these ingredients at Trader Joe's - and the grocery bill for the week (including dinners and kids' food, milk, fruit, etc) was $127.00.

Sunday ~ July 11th:
Mixed greens salad with warmed goat cheese medallions
Leftover marinated bean & corn salad with brown rice

This is how I made the cheese:
1 - 8 oz. log Chevre goat cheese, sliced (see notes below)
1 egg white, beaten
1/2 cup Just Almond Meal
2 T olive oil

Dip each cheese round in egg white, then into almond meal.  It's a good idea to do this ahead of time, then put the coated rounds back into the fridge to get them cold & firm (less melting when adding to the hot pan).  Heat olive oil in non-stick pan over medium heat.  Fry for one minute or so on each side, careful not to let them melt, and remove promptly from heat.  (Pour a light balsamic or fruit infused vinaigrette over mixed greens, toss, then top with 2 cheese rounds).

* note re: the cheese - I later learned that I could buy the single medallions and it would have saved me some trouble with slicing. As it was, I had to place the log in the freezer for about ten minutes so it would slice more easily - but it still got a little crumbly.  Next time, I am 
getting the individually wrapped medallions, for sure.

Monday ~ July 12th:
Enchilada Casserole served with salad

Enchilada Casserole:
I am posting the way I made it
* 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
(chicken was for Josh - I made one casserole for him and one, meatless, for me)
* 3.5 small, light whole wheat tortillas (45 cal each)
* 1 - 15 oz. can black beans (I used about 2/3 can)
* 1 jar chunky salsa (I used a natural, fire roasted salsa - about 3/4 jar)
* 1/2 cup lowfat, plain greek yogurt  (in place of sour cream in recipe)
* 1 cup chopped tomatoes
* approx. 2/3 cup light shredded Mexican blend cheese
(I used 1/4 cup for me, the rest for Josh)
* chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400.  Lightly grease small casserole dish.  Mix salsa & yogurt (sour cream) in bowl.  Spread a few spoonfuls into casserole dish.  Arrange a layer of tortilla pieces (I cut mine into quarters so they would not overlap too much).  Top with half of the chicken (if using), 1/2 of the beans, and 1/2 of the salsa mixture.  Create one more layer in that order.  
Spread chopped tomatoes on top then sprinkle with cheese. 
Bake 20-25 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro.


This was SO SO good!!  I totally recommend this meal.  It was very easy to make. 

I estimated the calorie count in my serving to be around 325 total (per MyFitnessPal calculations) - that's including the salad and light balsamic dressing!

Tuesday ~ July 13th:
Leftovers!  Fiery Mango Mahi Mahi ala fish taco style, marinated bean & corn salad, endive with sliced beets and feta cheese.  Basically I took 2 light, whole wheat tortillas from Trader Joe's (45 cal each), added lettuce, chopped mahi mahi and a light sprinkle of feta cheese.  I also took three endive leaves, sliced one beet and divided it among the three leaves, and sprinkled with feta cheese.  I had about 1/2 cup of the marinated bean & corn salad.  The whole dinner was around 411 calories.  No stinkin' salad plate for me - this was a real deal dinner plate!

Wednesday ~ July 14th
Life is a Bowl of Cherries Salad

This list is for one serving:

* Few handfuls of Organic Baby Spinach
* 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
* 1/4 cup dried Montmorency cherries
* 1/2 oz. (or a small handful) chopped pecans
* 1T TJ's cranberry, walnut & gorgonzola dressing 

Toss it all together!  YUM!  This was around 255 calories.

Thursday ~ July 15th
Spinach & Feta Stuffed Mushrooms, Pan Toasted Brussels Sprouts, Corn on the Cob

Stuffed Mushrooms:
One package baby bella mushrooms
2 cups frozen organic spinach
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup organic whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 cup feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400.  Clean mushrooms, remove stems.  Chop stems & set aside.  Thaw spinach and thoroughly squeeze out all water (will look like 1/2 cup after water is removed).  Place in mixing bowl.  Heat oil in skillet and add chopped stems & onion.  Saute for a few minutes.  Drain off any juices, then add to bowl with spinach.  Add  bread crumbs and mix well.  Gently stir in feta.  Stuff caps and place in shallow baking dish.  Cook for about ten minutes or until tops are lightly browned.  Remove from oven before juices start running out into the pan.

Pan toasted Brussels Sprouts:
1 - 12 oz. pkg Brussels Sprouts
2 tsp. EVOO
1/2 cup vegetable broth
grated or shredded parmesan cheese

Heat oil in pan.  Cut sprouts in half and place cut side down in pan.  Add broth.  When it comes to a boil, cover and let cook 5 minutes.  Remove lid & cook until liquid evaporates and sprouts are browned.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with cheese.

Friday ~ July 16th
Strawberry & Apricot Spinach Salad
Pear & Gorgonzola Quesadillas

Salad (this is for one serving):
* Large handful Organic baby spinach
* 2 medium strawberries, sliced
* raspberries
* 1/2 apricot, chopped
* 1/2 handful pecans, chopped
* 1T crumbled feta cheese
* 1T cranberry, walnut, gorgonzola dressing

Quesadillas (this is for my serving - Josh's had more cheese):
* 2 small low carb, whole wheat torillas
* 2T crumbled gorgonzola cheese
* 1/4 pear, thinly sliced
(optional chopped walnuts & pear sauce - I omitted)

Add crumbled cheese (1T each) to one side of each tortilla.  Add sliced pears on top of cheese.  Fold tortilla in half and add to hot grill pan.  Grill on both sides until warm and slightly crispy.  Cut into wedges.  Makes 6 wedges.  (This is a salad plate in the picture).

Calories:  202 in the salad; 220 in quesadillas (422 total calories for dinner!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 1 meal planning ~ a semi-success

I really like the idea of meal planning for a week in advance.  I did find that it was harder to follow through than I thought it might be.  There are so many dynamics involved - what time Josh gets home from work, how hungry the girls are - and if I need to get their food on the table before I can fix our dinner, and even the chaos that ensues when I am trying to simultaneously fix separate dinners for everyone - the girls, Josh (depending on the protein being served) and me.  Yes, I know, meal planning in supposed to make it so there's less craziness in my kitchen at dinner time, but on a few nights last week, my blood pressure was elevated during dinner prep time.  In any case, see below for pictures and meals.  Overall, this was a great first week with meal planning.  I am looking forward to seeing how this upcoming week goes!

Monday ~ July 5th:
Strawberry/Gorgonzola salad and Turkey BLT Sandwiches
I forgot to take pictures on Monday...oops!  But, here's what I did...
For the salad ~ I used Organic mixed greens, added chopped strawberries & a few raspberries, chopped pecans, and a little light balsamic dressing.  For the sandwiches, I cooked 4 slices of turkey bacon (3 for Josh, 1 for me) and added it to a sliced whole wheat pita with lettuce and tomatoes from our garden.  The salad was really good - we're having it again this week!

Tuesday ~ July 6th:
Sweet corn & arugala salad and herb crusted tilapia
These were both really good!  For the salad, I simply made a veggie salad with mixed greens, red onion, cucumber and tomatoes from our garden and added corn that I sliced off the cob.  I used a light balsamic dressing.  The tilapia recipes follows.  I served it with fresh orange pepper slices.

1 lb frozen tilapia fillet (thawed)
1 egg
2 tbsp skim milk
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I used whole wheat panko)
1 T 21 Seasoning Salute
2T extra virgin olive oil

Beat egg & milk together in bowl.  On a plate, mix bread crumbs & seasoning.  Dip fish pieces in egg mixture, then into bread crumb mixture.  Heat oil in skipplet over medium-high heat.  Cook fish for a few minutes on each side.  Fish is done when white & flaky.

Wednesday ~ July 7th:
Roasted corn & marinated bean salad and lettuce wraps
This was good as well.  I served my bean salad with brown rice.  I used lettuce wraps and added sliced beets with shaved parmesan cheese.

roasted corn & bean salad:
1 - 15 oz. can marinated bean salad (from Trader Joe's) - don't drain
2 cups roasted corn (I used frozen, thawed white corn - and I used maybe 1 cup)
2 persian cucumbers, peeled & diced

Combine all ingredients - Done!

Thursday ~ July 8th:
Mushroom & Onion Flatbread; Chicken for Josh, Salad for Me
The flat bread was good, however, if I make this again, I will use whole wheat pizza dough instead of the garlic & herb...and will just add chopped garlic and spices to the flatbreead.

Mushroom & Onion Flatbread:
1 - 1 lb. bag garlic & herb pizza dough (Trader Joe's)
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (I used crumbled goat cheese)

Preheat over to 500.  On oiled baking sheet or floured surface, stretch dough with hands to approx. 12" (it's rustic, no need to roll out).  In skillet, saute onion with 1T olive oil, until onions are soft.  Add mushrooms and saute until mushroom begin to brown.  Add onions & mushrooms to pizza dough and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt (I omitted the salt).  Place in oven for approx. 15 minutes (I think mine was done in 12 minutes).  Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Friday ~ July 9th:
Fiery Mango Mahi Mahi & salad
Can't get much easier than this!  I could not find the salsa at Trader Joe's, apparently they only carry it out west.  So I bought an all-natural peach-mango salsa at Safeway.  Since this was mild, and the recipe calls for a spicier salsa, I added some chopped cayenne pepper (the spice that you buy in a tube the refrigerated section at the store) - whew - it was HOT!

Fiery Mango Mahi Mahi:
4 frozen Mahi Mahi fillets, thawed
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 cups fire roasted papaya mango salsa (Trader Joe's)
salt & pepper

Preheat grill pan on high heat.  Mix olive oil & lemon juice and drizzle over fish, coating all sides.  Season with salt & pepper (I used a seasoning blend instead).  Cook fish for 3 minutes on both sides.  Remove from heat and top with salsa.  I opted to place fish into a baking sich and then top with the salsa.  I put it in the oven for a few minutes just to warm the salsa a bit before serving.  It was really good!  The leftovers will be good on a salad.

That's a salad plate, by the way.  I often use salad plates at dinner time so that I don't put too much on there.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Showcase the Good Stuff

I can't begin to tell you how often I feel hungry - especially in the afternoon when the girls are having their quiet time or at night when the day finally feels calm.  Oftentimes, I would go to the pantry first.  The pantry is usually the last resort for me these days (most days anyway).  I try to first look on my counter or in the fridge for a healthier option than what I might find in the pantry.

Not too long ago, I read that keeping room-temperature produce out on the counter where you can see it when you walk into the kitchen not only helps with making better snack choices, but also improves our mood.  Score!

Here's what my kitchen looks like today:

The selection is always a little different depending on the day, but just this little splash of color makes me feel good - and it looks nice too!  The tomatoes are all from our garden...they're the only things that actually did well for us this year.


Weekly Meal Planning

I've decided that I'd like to try weekly meal planning for a few weeks and see it works for us (and to see if it's easier on our budget feeding a family of 5 each week).  I figure it will be helpful in several aspects.  For one thing, it'll reduce waste - especially with produce.  We tend to throw away produce each week because it goes bad before we use it.  Also, I think it will help with my many trips to the grocery store/farm stand/farmer's market each week.  I'd like to have one big trip on the weekend, with a follow up trip later in the week if I need more produce...which will also cut back on grocery bills as well.  I'm also hoping that by planning for the week, it will take any additional stress out of each afternoon & early evening when I am always running around trying to figure out what we will have for dinner, checking the fridge & pantry for ingredients, and oftentimes calling Josh to have him pick up something on his way home...which then leaves the girls cranky because they eat dinner later than usual.  I like to avoid having cranky girls when at all possible.

This week, I pulled out my Trader Joe's Companion and planned each dinner according to some recipes featured in that book.

Using the Companion made it easier for me because I was able to get pretty much all of the items needed for the recipes at Trader Joe's.  I went out early Sunday morning as the store opened and was able to get my shopping down quickly (and alone!).  I will need to go to the farm stand or farmer's market later this week, but I had already factored that in.

I did my best to only get what was on my list - with a few additional (healthy) snacks for my girls.  I spent less than $130.00 which I think was pretty good, considering how much I can spend with my many trips to Weis in one week.  (Also, I am trying not to shop at Weis very much anymore, unless I need something quickly.)

Here's my meal plan for the week (and I am only listing dinners here because my breakfast, lunch and snacks are pretty much the same every day...dreadfully boring, I know).

Monday ~ Mixed organic greens with strawberries, raspberries, goat cheese, pecans & light balsamic dressing.  Also whole wheat pita BLTs (turkey bacon, mixed greens & tomatoes from our garden)

Tuesday ~ Sweet corn and arugala salad served with herb crusted tilapia

Wednesday ~ roasted corn & marinated bean salad served with whole wheat sandwich wraps (turkey for Josh and veggie for me)

Thursday ~ Mushroom and onion flatbread served with grilled chicken for Josh and beet & endive salad for me

Friday ~ Fiery mango mahi mahi with salad

Saturday ~ Mushroom moussaka with salad

I am feeling optimistic!  I am looking forward to several weeks of this at which point I will reevaluate and see what needs to be tweaked in terms of weekly planning.
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