Friday, February 20, 2009

Life with a menu plan

is just so much easier! I wandered into the kitchen at lunch time today, wondering what I was hungry for, and POUF! Right there on the frig was the posted answer to my ever present question "What am I going to eat?" . A Boursin and cucumber sandwich on high fibre flax bread was planned, and was I ever happy to follow the plan today! Quick and easy, and ohhhh my. How good was that sandwich!

I managed to stick to my schedule and do the shopping was very easy as there wasn't a lot on the list-again, due to the menu planning. I was done in only fifteen minutes even with the help of my dear hubby. I am finding Thursday to Thursday menu planning to be a perfect fit with our schedules. Now that we are a family of two, and not always home, it works out to buy "just enough" for a week. A frozen spinach pizza (Dr.Oeteker) was on the menu plan for supper last night, so after slugging through the stores, kitchen duties were light!

My job today, is to prepare all of the veggies for my new recipe, the 'frig medley'. This brilliant idea was gleaned from my old friend who makes a huge vat of chopped 'ready to go' veggies in her frig at all times. The vegetables are prepared on grocery day and put into a large bowl for use during the week, as is, in a salad, or cooked as a side dish. This saves so much time and bother when you are cooking throughout the week. She told me that she will put the veggies into a salad, or simply eat them on their own for a quick meal. The mix can change according to the seasons, and the freshest produce. She tossed a bit of the mix into some lettuce for our supper,and it was very flavourful.

Since the medley was such a success? I also made up a Greek salad mix with some Greek seasoning, feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, black olives and red onion (with the help of my Nicer Dicer) which made great lunches a couple of days last week, wrapped in tortillas. A pita would be even better, because you could stuff more into it! Not a drop of oil or vinegar, which you could just add at the last minute. It stayed fresh for as long as it took to use it up!

This weeks menus include:

Thursday 19:
fried eggs, toast, bacon & milk
Hummus and Avocado Veggie Wrap
Spinach Pizza & salad, veggies and dip

Friday 20:
poached eggs on toast, milk
Cream Cheese and Cucumber Sandwich
Whole Roast chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Peas & Carrots fruit

Saturday 21
eggs, toast & milk
Baked Potatoes
Chicken Parmigiana & spinach Feta pasta, Caesar salad Salty snack

Sunday 22
eggs & toast, milk
Salad with leftover Chicken
Curry & Rice fruit

Monday 23
cereal and milk, one egg 1/2 toast, fruit
Veggies and dip
Boiled cabbage, Bangers & Mash Fruit

Tuesday 24
dry cereal & milk
egg salad sandwiches
Hot Chicken Sandwiches French Fries & Peas

Wednesday 25
eggs & toast / fruit
open (clean up all leftovers before holiday)
Fish & Chips and apple coleslaw

I wish there was a way to post the formatted document here, because this is quite pretty when printed out in seasonal colours! Just a tad OCD, I admit. Since I am blue with cold this year, the logical choice was blue for the menu background colour! Spring will be light green, summer will be pink, and fall? Hmmm...perhaps golden yellow? At any rate, it is a stellar idea to have the menu on the frig at all times to keep me on the straight and narrow. I have planned the calories and balance for the day well ahead of time, and fruits and vegetables are always available for a snack.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Don't hate me because I am butterfull....

That is what my soup told me at the stove today. Not just any soup, mind you. Home made, wonderful creamy soup. As I wondered why people would bother to buy soup when it is so easy to make, I took particular note of what went into the pot to make 3 cups of soup...

3 carrot sticks - tiny dice (I keep veggies cut up in the frig, ready to go)
3 small florets of broccoli - I sliced the stem part finely to match the carrots, divided the florets into tiny pieces to be added at the last minute
1 Tablespoon of dried onion pieces
good sprinkling of dried parsley
1 teaspoon of bouillon powder
1/2 cup of water mixed with 1 tsp of flour
2 1/2 cups of organic low sodium chicken stock

Now, to here is how there came to be a creamy buttery nummyness to the soups. I sauteed the carrots in a teaspoon of butter (measured exactly, I may add) to soften. Then added the broth, bouillon powder, dried onion, parsley and flour/water mixture. I added the tiny bits of broccoli a minute or so before serving and then to finish the soup? I added 4 1/2 Tablespoons of half and half cream. That gave a grand total of 11/2 Tablespoons per cup of soup which is a whopping 30 calories. Add 1/3 of the 45 calories for the teaspoon of butter, and you have 45 calories for one cup of soup. And was it good! A 'regular' person wouldn't think twice about putting a bit of cream into something, but being a food Nazi? It has been strictly forbidden for me. Well, folks. Not any more. Do the math. I just had a wonderfully decadent lunch for MAYBE what, 60 calories total? Not a zero point soup, but one point for the extra flavour? Well worth it in my books. I feel wonderfully well fed and satisfied. Those tasteless dry "100 calorie" snacks don't do it for me, but soup? Now that is something to write about!

Monday is gone...

but left quite the impression on my digestive tract! We started the day with our usual simple egg and toast breakfast, moved on to a stir fry for lunch...with chicken wings. OH MY were they good. Not too much damage done, as there were six wings in the package. I put together a sauce out of the dregs of a few sauce bottles in the frig, and I must say, it was successful.

We had a snack/supper at about nine...once again? Those hummus avocado wraps hit the spot. This time, I added a slice of deli chicken and a strip of sweet red pepper in the center - that worked really well. Next time though, I think I will add a bit more crunch! With a side serving of veggies and dip, we went to bed very well fed indeed! I have been making a concentrated effort to include more vegetables in our diet, and have done it very successfully this grocery period. There are a few scraps left in the refrigerator, but we have managed to munch our way through quite a variety of green, red, orange and white produce! I have just enough produce left to see us through the next two days! Just for the record, I am going to list the produce I bought last week:

large bag of Spinach
head of cauliflower
broccoli, large bunch
2 lbs carrots
large flat of mushrooms
4 potatoes
bag of sugar snap peas
6 heads of romaine
8 long sweet red peppers
4 lemons
6 avocados
navel oranges
3 English cucumbers
eight Roma tomatoes

I have a few scraps of carrots, peas, cauliflower and broccoli left in my crudite keeper, half a bag of spinach and three heads of romaine, three peppers, 2 cucumbers, 3 avocados and 1 lemon left...and for some strange reason we haven't touched the apples. Probably because they were under everything else.

Tonight we are having steak and salad. Simple, quick and oh so good. Greek salad, to be exact. My fav! is all my fav!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Who would have thought?

That avocados could be so versatile? Our bean soup at lunch today was accompanied by a multi grain tortilla, spread with roasted red pepper hummus and filled with half of a diced avocado. I bought these for the simple reason that they are a good source of MUFA's but turns out? I quite like them! Besides being tasty, this wrap was so pretty...I am ashamed of myself for not taking a picture, but who knows? It is tempting to change the menu plan to include another wrap tomorrow. Not a great calorie saver, but right now, I am trying to improve the nutritional quality of my diet.

I am also tracking the way I feel after a meal or snack too, and have determined not to eat anything in the future that makes me feel 'queasy'. So, definitely it is out with the white cheddar popcorn I had while watching our movie tonight. I definitely did not have a good feeling after eating that stuff. In fact? I am still harbouring digestive "resentment"! I figure in about a year I should have a short list of things to avoid.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Just for the record....

Lifestyle is what this is all about, right? So here are some habits I have built that really help keep me on the straight and narrow. Especially on those days when you are just sick and tired of being a food Nazi. If the food is in the house, and you enjoy it? You are not tempted to step in front of a moving train of carbs!

We like to eat in courses. Even if we have only one thing on a plate at a time, it just seems to agree with me. Eat a bit of soup first - even a tiny bowl, then protein and vegetables, hot or cold. A bit of sweet at the end in the form of fruit or JELLO is a treat that makes you feel as if this has been something...a significant, important event. For instance, try fresh sliced pineapple drizzled with a mixture of vanilla yogurt, honey and cinnamon. All of a sudden? Those tortes just do not appeal! I am one of those chubby people that doesn't like cookies, but the odd time? An oatmeal raisin cookie has even found its way to my dessert plate! You can stretch its goodness by sprinkling it on a baked apple and all of a sudden, two people are eating one cookie, rather than the other way around!

Make homemade stock or broth every week. This week, I had a lot of tired vegetables in the frig. So, to make room for the crispy fresh stuff, I tossed it all in the stock pot with a couple of onions (skins give the stock colour)and simmered for an hour. I ended up with four cups of really tasty vegetable stock this week to use in soup, sauces and if there is a little extra? As a flavour boost for making rice.I usually get four cups of stock out of a pot of veggies or bones, and keep it in the refrigerator in a lidded batter bowl. Quick and easy to use in daily cooking.

Another thing I always have on hand, is fruit. I have fruit as a snack daily. Rarely juice. It is a big treat for me to have a glass of orange juice when we go out for breakfast, let me tell you! But usually? A nicely sliced orange will do just fine. This week I bought a big bag of frozen strawberries to make smoothies. Added to my daily milk allowance and a 1/4 cup of good yogurt with a sprinkle of Splenda - ahhhhhh. So soothing. They should really call them Soothies! I was able to find a big juicy cantaloupe, so with the apples and oranges I already have, there will be plenty of choice for snacks and desserts in the house this week.

Another thing I prefer to do, is to purchase whole chickens. They come in a bag of three at Costco, so it is convenient to buy them this way, and as to the price? I haven't quite figured out if there is a savings or not, but definitely it is more work...but how much better the chicken is! So, this is the drill. On grocery day, I leave one chicken to be roasted whole for a Sunday dinner, and cut the other two into pieces. (I am collecting the wings until I have enough for a party!) We have two meals of dark meat (2 thighs, 2 legs per meal) and two meals of breasts. Then, the backs and scraps go into the stock pot for that week's broth. I find that using up meat is a real problem for us, so it is best to have this arrangement to provide freshness and variety, so we can use it up before the freezer burn sets in!

Another staple in our house, is shrimp. I buy a big bag of large pre-cooked shrimp to have on hand for a quick meal, a low cal/carb snack with a quickly mixed dip of hot sauce, horseradish and ketchup or a bit of 'fancy' in a salad for a vegetable based meal. I think the trick to getting the dieting thing down, is to have food you love to eat, that fills you comfortably with the best "numbers". Shrimp is one of those foods that still feels like a luxury to me, and can make my day!

Lately I have been allowing myself to indulge in a bit of cheese. I am very careful with it, but by buying a new kind each time? We end up with a flavour booster for not too many calories. One of my must haves is real Parmesan cheese. I was hesitant to buy a such large wedge of this, but it has kept perfectly for is a real bargain, because a few quick grates of the good stuff equals a half cup of that chalky stuff that comes in a shaker. Rich, flavourful goodness. For a light supper, I have been known to indulge in good crackers with smears of Boursin cheese served with a bowl of vegetable soup, the calories are not out of range for supper, and what a treat! Not to be forgotten, is the joy that Feta brings to a salad. And how about thin slice of Jalapeno flavoured cheese melted on a chicken breast? Or grated mozzarella sprinkled on a pesto glazed tortilla and topped with mushrooms for a fake out pizza? All of a sudden life isn't so dull, is it? A little goes a very long way. So much better than abstinence!

Soup is a secret weapon. You will never be hungry if you learn to make good soup. It is a trial and error thing. Right now, I am experimenting with bean soup - there are so many things you can do to soup to change it up, that a lot of flavours can fly under one mast. So many beans, so little time! I am happily exploring the possibilities of canned beans. Who knew? No soaking, or fussing. Just crack the can, and it is almost instant soup. Life need not be dull when you are watching your calories. And don't get me started on lentils. So good, so easy, and so filling.

Pickles. Big ones, beet ones, olive ones, onion a little burst of vinegary goodness can jazz up anything. I love them, and every time I have a few olives on a weeknight, I feel positively extravagant!

Nuts. Quickly toasted and lightly salted, almonds bring a richness to a simple salad. For instance, adding a finely chopped dried apricot, a few toasted almonds will add an extra dimension to your simple tossed salad. A few pecans, glazed with a spoon of honey? Life doesn't get much better when you use them to garnish a tiny scoop of really good ice cream at the end of a simple low cal meal of soup and salad. Another good dessert, is candied ginger - the kind you put in fruit cakes. Looks like a "gummy ginger slice" with a sprinkling of sugar on the surface. A sliver of it really refreshes your mouth and signals the digestive system that the feeding session is over! Calories are negligible, but oh, my. It is a treat.

This Week

Friday 13
Breakfast:poached eggs on toast, milk
Lunch:avocado tuna salad
Supper:Pasta with red sauce & Caesar salad

Saturday 14:
Breakfast: eggs, toast, bacon & milk
Lunch: bean soup (stock made on grocery day from frig cleaning)Supper: baked fish Fillets, steamed veggies, salad

Sunday 15:
Breakfast: eggs & toast, milk, bacon
Supper: Pork tenderloin, potatoes, broccoli & salad, fruit dessert

Monday 16:

Breakfast:toast, scrambled eggs
Lunch:Greek Salad
Supper: Leftovers, shrimp salad, fruit

Tuesday 17
Breakfast:egg & toast, dry cereal & milk
Lunch: bean soup, homemade
Supper: Beef Stir fry and rice

Wednesday 18

Breakfast:mushroom omelet & toast / fruit smoothie
Lunch: hummus and crackers
Supper: shrimp & rice, sweet salad


So, I bought a bag of the little darlings yesterday, made some guacamole that hubby loved and that turned me inside out. Hmmm. Now what to make with them?

While waking up this morning, I caught a segment of Chef at Home or some such title..he was making tuna salad with an avocado, and olive oil. Now, this may work. Some parsley, a little onion (think that is the culprit for me, so will make it without this time)drizzle of oil and a squeeze of citrus. Salt and pepper. Too easy. So, guess that will be lunch today. It was interesting not to have the usual mayonaisse, but really, the calories are about the same. This will make a nice light change. He molded them with a custard cup, and it made a nice presentation. And we all know, looks are everything! Ah, the things you can learn from television!