Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekly Meals (June 30 - July 3)

The Spring quarter ended last week, and this is the first summer EVER that I'm off (well, sort of off, as I am working on a couple of projects, but they are fun, so I don't really consider them to be work...) So I almost didn't plan meals for this week. Almost. I soon realized that with my projects, which require at least three to four hours of work each day (the toddler's nap time and after he is asleep at night), and the toddler being the toddler, I do need to plan meals in order to make meal time stress-free, balanced, and enjoyable for everyone. Plus, I find more and more that meal planning saves money! So here are this week's meals:

Tuesday: Pasta with tomato, almond, basil pesto & a salad.

Wednesday: Vegetable curry. We picked up some carrots, potatoes, leeks, & onions at the Farmers' Market. We are also planning on shopping at some mid-week markets; I can't wait to see what else we'll add to the curry.... Did you make it to the Farmers' Market? If so, what did you get? I have been bad about taking pictures of my Farmers' Market purchases, but I'll be better... :o)

Thursday: Lentil soup. I'll be "cheating" a bit as I'll be using cooked, refrigerated lentils from Trader Joe's to make the soup. I usually like to cook my own lentils, but I want to spend as much time as possible with the toddler outside enjoying the beautiful weather, so the cooked lentils are perfect! I'll also use organic vegetable broth as well as some fresh onions, carrots & celery from the Farmers' Market. I'll top the soup with some non-fat Greek yogurt that's seasoned with lemon juice, salt & pepper.

Friday: Vegetable & brown rice salad with fresh corn. I'll be experimenting here... I'll let you know how it turns out... :o)

Questions: What meals have you planned for this week?

Be well,

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Happy Sunday!

Today is going to be a busy day, so I thought we'd better start with a good breakfast.

The toddler and I shared a blueberry smoothie.

He is drinking his out of a shot glass... :o)

Hubby and the toddler also shared a big plate of scrambled eggs, toast, tomatoes & avocados. The toddler LOVES avocados and hubby didn't really get any of the avocado...

Have a great Sunday!

Be well,

Friday, June 26, 2009

Getting Your Exercise Just Like a Kid

This morning the toddler and I watched Sid the Science Kid on PBS. Sid investigated "exercise," and I could tell that at 20 months, the toddler doesn't quite grasp the concept. Sure, I take him to the gym almost every day, and on the way there I always tell him that I'm going to exercise. He has seen me exercise when I swim, do yoga, or lift weights at home. And when we run, kick the ball, or throw the ball, I tell him that we are exercising. I think the toddler doesn't quite get the concept of exercise because exercise is what he does all day long:

He runs (and really NEVER walks)

He stretches

He climbs

He is having fun in the water

In other words, he loves what he is doing. Luckily, I can honestly say that I also love my exercise these days (I have come a LONG way as I used to view exercise as something "I had to do;" what a difference!):
  • my swims outdoors first thing in the morning - they truly make me feel like a kid!
  • my challenging hikes that reward me with THE BEST view at the end
  • my runs on the treadmill with gorgeous views out the window at the gym
  • my exercise DVDs that let me sweat very efficiently at home
  • my neighborhood walks that make me feel connected to where I live
Questions: Do you ever feel like a kid when you exercise? What's your favorite fun form of exercise?

Be well,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Basil Love

I always like to have a vase with flowers on the dining room table, especially bright yellow or orange flowers. I feel like they really brighten up my day! But lately, my flowers have been replaced by my favorite herb in the world: basil!

I used to very successfully grow basil outside, but for some reason this year has been a complete failure. I replanted the basil three times, and each time it has completely disappeared. I have no idea what is eating it. Anyway, since I couldn't grow the basil outside, I bought a basil plant to keep inside (actually I have bought several plants as I use it so often....). And what better place to keep the basil than on the dining table? I just love the smell and look of the basil on the table! And it saves money as I don't buy flowers.... :o)

And here are some of my favorite ways to eat basil:
  • in pasta sauce
  • with tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper
  • with lemon pasta (lemon juice, olive oil, Parmesan cheese & lots of basil)
  • in a salad
  • on top of soups to add freshness
  • on a cracker with some soft cheese
  • thinly sliced in a vegetable sandwich
  • in pesto, especially if the pesto contains lots of tomatoes and not so much oil
  • in a dip for bread with flavorful olive oil & balsamic vinegar
  • in curry to add freshness
  • on top of pizza
  • ....
Basically, I could add basil to pretty much anything... I just love the smell and the taste... :o)

Question: Do you like basil? What's your favorite way of eating it?

Be well,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Contemplating A Change & Weekly Meals (6/23-6/26)

You may have noticed that my meals last week did not include any meat. I've been trying to prepare more and more vegetarian dishes and am toying with the idea of not eating meat at all anymore. This would not be a drastic step for me as I don't eat a lot of meat. Often when we have a meat dish, I don't eat the meat. I have focused on incorporating enough protein in all of our diets throughout the day.

We have been talking about not eating meat as a family, and I think for hubby, myself and the teenager that's an individual decision, and we'll respect each other's decision once we have each made one.

Here are this week's meals. They are again vegetarian.

Tuesday: Asian vegetable soup with vegetable dumplings & eggs. I'll use organic vegetable broth and frozen vegetable gyoza as well as fresh veggies & edamame to make this soup. Once the veggies are cooked, I'll add the gyoza and heat them through. Then, I'll add several beaten eggs to the broth and mix them into the soup. I'll flavor the soup with soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil.

Wednesday: Lemon pasta. This is technically hubby's dish. Well, it's really the only dish he ever makes. But since he hasn't made it in forever, I'll make it...Sorry for calling you out, sweetie... :0) The sauce is basically olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, & pepper. You mix the ingredients together and toss them with the pasta. It's a great summer dish. We'll have a salad to go with the pasta.

Thursday: Veggie burgers on whole grain buns with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, onions, cheese & pickles. I've bought several different frozen veggie burgers and can't wait to try them. I'll also experiment with making my own veggie burgers soon.

Friday: It's "Salad Friday." Spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette & feta cheese. Thanks Kelly for your comment and the inspiration for this meal a few weeks ago!

Questions: Do you eat meat, chicken and/or fish? Why or why not? If you chose to become vegetarian or vegan at some point, what convinced you to make the switch? How has the experience been? What was your biggest challenge? What's one tip you can give me?

Be well,

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Celebrating Father's Day with a Healthy Breakfast

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there and especially to the three greatest dads in the world (sorry, I'm a bit subjective here... :o)): my hubby, my dad, and my father-in-law.

We started the day with a healthy breakfast at home. While enjoying breakfast, we realized that we had no desire anymore for the restaurant breakfasts we used to eat to celebrate (greasy eggs, toast with lots of butter, waffles with butter & syrup, pancakes, huge breakfast burritos, steak & eggs, hash browns....). Here is what we had instead:

An egg sandwich with avocado, cucumbers, radishes & cheese, a mimosa, & coffee

The sandwich was so flavorful...

And we really enjoyed the mimosas.... :o)

Questions: Have you changed the way you eat? Are there any foods you used to enjoy, but now they don't taste so good anymore? How have your taste buds changed? Enjoy your day!

Be well,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Favorite Forms of Exercise

I recently thought about why I work out. There are many reasons, and here are some of them:
  • feeling good
  • controlling my blood pressure
  • controlling my gallstones/getting myself in good shape for surgery - Yes, surgery is inevitable.
  • managing my weight
  • getting an hour of "me time" while the toddler is playing in the childcare at the gym
  • being able to keep up with the toddler ALL DAY LONG
But then I thought about whether I truly enjoyed working out. And, yes, I do. Here are some things I have been doing lately that make me truly enjoy my workouts:
  • working out outdoors as much as possible - I love long, difficult hikes that reward you with a gorgeous view at the end!
  • swimming - exercising in the water makes me feel like a kid, especially swimming outside
  • doing yoga and being mindful
  • running after the toddler - I call him my little trainer - he is tough, an endless ball of energy, and he hardly ever gives me a break!
  • going for brisk walks with hubby, the teenager, the toddler, or a friend - I love getting some exercise while catching up on each other's lives
Questions: Why do you exercise? What's your favorite form of exercise?

Be well,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekly Meals (June 16 - June 19)

This week we stopped at a farm and bought organic produce right from the little shop they have set up at the farm. We were surprised by how cheap the produce was when we compared it to the prices at the Farmers' Market!!! Unfortunately, the farm is too far from our home to shop there regularly... :o(

Thanks everyone for your salad suggestions last week. I definitely have some new ideas for the next couple of weeks. If you come across any salads that you like, please let me know!

Here are this week's meals:

Tuesday: Baked Polenta with tomato sauce, sauteed onions, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers & cheese. I followed Marisa's Polenta recipe a few weeks ago, and everyone liked it a lot. So I thought I'd make a variation of it. On the side we'll have smashed cauliflower with laughing cow cheese.

Wednesday: Vegetable soup with lentils.

Thursday: Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and a salad on the side.

Friday: It's Salad Friday. I'll make a Greek Salad with a feta dressing (feta, mayonnaise and/or Greek yogurt & lemon juice). The salad will have lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes & olives. Thanks Angie for your comment last week!

Dessert: Strawberries! The farm store had a handout that gave suggestions for storing strawberries. That's when I realized that I have always had problems with storing strawberries and didn't really know how to. Luckily, the toddler usually eats them right away... Anyway, their suggestion is to transfer the strawberries to a closed container (glass, Tupperware, etc.) along with two paper towels and store them in the fridge. Then just take out as many as you'll eat and wash them before removing the stem. I'll definitely try these suggestions!

Questions: Did you make it to the Farmers' Market this week? If so, what did you get? What is your favorite meal these days? I can't wait for some more new ideas... :o)

Be well,

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Easy Summer Lunch

We have really enjoyed our home-cooked meals lately. However, I wasn't sure what we'd have for lunch today as we were almost out of everything. Before heading off to the gym today, I made a small batch of my Summer Salad. I thought I could "throw together" some kind of pasta dish once we got back, and the salad would go nicely with the pasta.

While at the gym, I got lucky because I caught part of a cooking show on PBS while running. I believe the show is called Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen. Lidia made a pesto that sounded really good, and I recreated it (more or less) at home. It turned out great! I didn't measure any of the ingredients. But here is more or less what I did to make the pesto.

Tomato, Almond, Basil Pesto

- Salted almonds (about a hand-full)
- 5 basil leaves
- 3 cloves of garlic
- [Crush the above ingredients in a food processor]
- [Next I added the following to the food processor]
- 5 more basil leaves
- 4-6 medium sized tomatoes
- Olive oil (I ended up using very little olive oil - maybe a tablespoon)
- Salt (optional)

The pesto has a nice crunch to it and is soooo flavorful. Hubby, toddler & teenager all heartily approved. Quite an accomplishment!

Here is a picture of the pesto by itself. I think it would be a great topping for toasted bread as well...

And here is the pesto tossed with whole wheat spaghetti

A picture of the summer salad

Oh, and we also treated ourselves (hubby and I that is) to some delicious red wine.

It truly was a perfect summer lunch!

What's your favorite summer meal? Please share!

Be well,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Too Much Sugar

I think I have been consuming too much sugar lately. It's funny how little things really add up! Growing up, I didn't like sweets (and I didn't even like fruit very much.) But later in life, I developed a sweet tooth. Lately, I have also incorporated a lot more fruit in my diet, which obviously has sugar (but it also has lots of nutrients, so I don't worry about it). Here is why I think I'm getting too much sugar and what I'm planning to do about it:
  1. Toffee - Toffee is basically pure sugar, right? I blame hubby for this one since he buys it every week at the Farmers' Market. I have a small piece every day. I think we should take a toffee break!
  2. Juice - I never drink juice by itself, but I have lately started to add some to my water. I usually drink about 1/3 juice and 2/3 water. But since I drink a lot of liquids, all that juice REALLY adds up! I have to go back to just adding fruit slices to my water!
  3. Fruit yogurt - Flavored yogurt has LOTS of sugar. I rarely used to buy it, but I somehow started getting used to it. I'll go back to my nonfat, plain Greek yogurt and add some of my own fruit.
  4. Fruit - Fruit has a lot of sugar. But I think it's okay as long as I eliminate the other sugar.
  5. Miniature chocolate chips - Something else to blame hubby for. He bought THE BEST miniature chocolate chips and put them in the fridge where I have to see them whenever I open the fridge!!! Remember, I truly used to dislike chocolate! What happened? I think it's okay to have a little bit of chocolate every day as long as I eliminate the other sugar....
Do you like "stuff with sugar?" If so, what's your favorite "sweet thing"? AND, what do you do to not overdose on the sugar????

Be well,

Monday, June 8, 2009

Weekly Meals (June 9 - June 12)

The weekend was really busy again, so there are no Farmers' Market pictures this week... :( We had the chance to pick up some great veggies (as well as some toffee....) but there was no time to document anything... I made my Summer Salad this weekend, and we enjoyed the fresh tomatoes, cucumbers & red onions that we picked up at the Farmers' Market.

I am excited about this week's menu:

Tuesday: Pasta in Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce with Red Peppers and Artichokes - Sophia at Burp and Slurp posted this recipe a while ago, and I have wanted to try it ever since. The dish has sun dried tomatoes, Trader Joe's red pepper-artichoke tapenade as well as Greek yogurt. Sounds delicious, and I can't wait to try it.

Wednesday: Grilled Italian Sausages on multi-grain rolls. We'll have a salad on the side.

Thursday: Shrimp fried rice. I'll use brown rice and will add lots of veggies.

Friday: It's "Salad Friday." I'll make my own, healthy version of a Cobb salad with spinach, herb salad mix, tomatoes, avocados, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, grilled chicken breast and whatever else I can think of. I'll make a vinaigrette with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, lemon juice and Dijon mustard to go on the side.

Question: What is your favorite salad? What are the ingredients? Any interesting salad dressing ideas? Yup, I need some help to keep Salad Fridays interesting... :0)

Be well,

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Eating More Fruit

I have never been a big fruit eater. Growing up, we had our own organically grown apples, strawberries, raspberries, plums, peaches, and blackberries. I ate them, but I didn't love them. I have always loved cherries, but I only rarely eat them since they are so expensive...

I have been thinking for a while now that I should eat more fruit. Actually, I have been thinking about why I don't eat more fruit. Both my kids as well as hubby like fruit. I came to the conclusion that I am so busy preparing and packing fruit for everyone else that I am just tired of preparing some for myself. Yes, I know. It's not that hard to wash some fruit and eat it. But, sometimes it just is! I just don't feel like going through the trouble for myself (but I don't mind doing it for others....)

So I started making fruit salad several times per week for EVERYONE (really only cut-up fruit that I keep in a big glass container or a bowl in the fridge; sometimes I add a bit lemon juice). Guess what? I actually really like fruit when it is convenient to eat...

Question: What is your favorite fruit and how do you like to eat it?

Be well,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Balance at the Buffet

I mentioned in my last post that we went to a wedding over the weekend. There was a huge dinner buffet with tons of delicious choices. If I were a good blogger, I would have taken pictures. But frankly, I was too busy trying to entertain the toddler (okay, and eating the delicious food!)...

I know that many people have "issues" with buffets and so do I. In fact, I have been avoiding any kind of a buffet for a long time. It's just very hard for me to find balance at a buffet. When I was young many, many, many years ago, I dealt with buffets by only eating a few plain raw vegetables. The strategy was neither healthy nor fun. Then there was a period in my life when I gave myself permission to eat EVERYTHING. Also not a healthy strategy. Plus I usually beat myself up afterward for "being bad."

At the wedding, I finally felt good, satisfied, and happy after eating! It's not that my meal was very healthy; in fact it probably wasn't. But here is what happened and why I felt good. Since I knew that it would be difficult to go back for seconds, I filled my plate with quite a bit of food. I took several pieces of sushi, some salad, a piece of chicken, a lot of yummy looking asparagus (which tasted awful), roasted potatoes, and a tomato stuffed with mozzarella. Yes, I know. It was a lot of food. I actually ended up not eating a lot of it. I hate wasting food, but I won't eat something if it doesn't taste good (or if it is too greasy because it will just give me gallstone problems). I therefore didn't eat the salad (too greasy and tasteless), the asparagus (just awful), or the potatoes (they tasted like butter but not in a good way). I ate all of the sushi (which was really fresh and amazing), the chicken (which was wrapped in black forest ham and filled with mushrooms - soooo good!), and some of the tomato with mozzarella (I usually love tomato with mozzarella, but this one wasn't very good.)

After eating the above food, I would have been okay without any additional food. However, hubby decided to go to the dessert table and brought back the most amazing plate of miniature desserts. They were sooooooooooo amazing (I know, I overdid it a bit on the "o's"). There was a one-bite mini fruit tart, a princess cake triangle, cookies filled with marzipan and dipped in semi sweet chocolate, cookies filled with hazelnut cream.... It was simply amazing. Not only did the desserts taste great, but they were sooooo pretty. I know, I know, I should have taken a picture... Since I had been craving chocolate and sweets for a while (it was that time of the month), I decided to treat myself and I ate most of hubby's dessert plate...

I have to say that I ate quite a bit of sweets. In the past, I would have beaten myself up for being "bad" and restricted food the next day. This could have led to "being bad" again and could have ended up in a vicious cycle. Not so this time. I rationally assessed how much and what I had eaten that day, and it really wasn't that bad. I had had a nutritious breakfast and lunch, and my dinner choices were okay. (I think it's key not to go hungry to a buffet!) So a bit too much sugar, white flour, etc. certainly wasn't the end of the world. The next day, I worked out but I didn't feel compelled to "make up" for being "bad" the day before. In fact, I truly don't think I was bad. So the next day I ate healthy meals but also enjoyed some wine. I felt like my life was in balance. And balance feels good!

Be well,

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weekly Meals (June 2 - June 5)

The weekend was very busy. We went to a wedding. We got to take the flowers (on the left) home, went to the Farmers' Market, ran numerous errands, and took the toddler to a nature park. The toddler and I have also been fighting a very persistent cold. We are better one day and worse the next; I think we may be giving the cold back and forth to each other...

Last week's meals worked out really well, and everyone was excited that we were eating food we hadn't had for a while or never before. So I looked for some more inspiration in the blogging world! Here are this week's meals as well as some pictures of this week's Farmers' Market purchases:

Tuesday: Pasta with tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella and basil. This simple, yet soooo delicious meal, was inspired by Mara at What's for Dinner?. I have made a version of this dish many times but not lately. I can't wait to eat it again! :o)

Wednesday: Curry with vegetables and chicken, brown rice, and a salad. I'll be using the Trader Joe's Simmer Sauce again.

Thursday: Polenta with Cheese and Mushroom Sauce. This recipe is inspired by Marissa from Trim the Fat. I have been meaning to make it for a while...

Friday: It's "Salad Friday." I'll make my Warm Spinach Salad with poached eggs.

And finally, some dessert!

Did you make it to the Farmers' Market? If so, what did you get? Do you have any interesting meals planned? If so, please share!

Be well,