Sunday, April 10, 2011

Best Meals Yet and Week of April 11th Preview

Avid readers,
Sorry my posts have been so far apart.  This week I ate some really great foods and I'm very excited to share them with you!

DAY 80

Today I had my Go-To breakfast with 1 cup of skim milk.  Are we allowed to call it skim milk anymore?  Only non-fat?  I remember as a kid despising skim milk.  Now I can't fathom drinking anything else!
For lunch I had leftovers from our delish beef and broccoli stir fry.
During the day I snacked on:
  • 1 cheese stick
  • laughing cow spreadable cheese on 3 rykrisp crackers
  • 1 vitamuffin top
  • 3/4 cup blueberry kefir
  • zumba gym class.

For dinner we had a chicken and toasted peanut "toss" which basically means stir fry.  They recipe only called for cooking the veggies for 3 minutes, which basically meant they were still raw, and Michael Jordan and I really prefer the veggies (esp onions) to be cooked.  I ended up cooking them up more before we packed them away for leftovers.  This dish was supposed to be made with pork, but we replaced the pork with chicken.  Served with brown rice.  There's also a ginger sauce that goes on it, that I thought called for WAY too much ginger and really didn't like it.


DAY 81
For breakfast today I had eggwhites and mozz cheese.  And it tasted like ginger from the sauce we made last night.  I lodged a complaint with my maid/MJ.  He apologized.
I actually took my egg "on the go" with me by wrapping it in foil and carrying it along with me.  That's when I realized I wasn't the only one who walks and eats breakfast.  The problem is that the other two people I saw walking with their breakfasts were eating Doritos.  Wow unhealthy.  It wasn't even 9am.  So sad.

For lunch I had left overs from our chicken/peanut toss.  They were better with the more-cooked veggies.

I snacked on: 
  • 60 cal raspberry yogurt
  • go to snack
  • apple
  • mini twix and milkyway bar
  • coffee!
At work they got a new coffee machine with a new type of coffee that is SO much better than the burnt junk they used to have.  This is a dangerous new development.  

For dinner we tried this delicious new recipe!  It's called a southwest turkey bake.

You mix up some lean, ground turkey (cook on pan until no longer pink) and then add black beans, salsa, cumin and red pepper.  We found this great natural salsa where I recognize all the ingredients and it actually tastes really good!  Mix those together and then fill a 13 x 9 pan.  Separately mix cornbread mix (we used whole wheat corn bread) with an egg and low sodium chicken broth.  Pour over the turkey mix and bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 400ยบ.  (Your are supposed to top it with Mexican cheese, but we skipped that step).
IT WAS SO GOOD!  MJ ate double what we were supposed to.  Seriously YUMMMMMY - you should try this!!!!

first piece never comes out pretty

a flawless second piece!


Today I also decided to try out dessert since we haven't done more than the occasional cookie or vitamuffintop.  

I made dessert nachos!  You cut up a whole wheat tortilla, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Serve with low-fat yogurt, fruit and chocolate chips!  Huge success!  So easy and can be changed to include whatever fruits/toppings you like!


DAY 82 
Today I had my go-to breakfast for breakfast.  With a coffee.
For lunch I had leftovers from my turkey bake.  MJ brought two portions for his lunch as well!  
I was pretty good about not snacking today, and I'm not sure how/why that happened.

For dinner, I used what we had around the kitchen to make a meal.  I had planned on making this recipe that called for butternut squash and replacing it with sweet potatoes, but upon further investigation, I realized it really wasn't possible.  Instead I peeled the sweet potatoes and sliced them like thin potatoes chips, seasoned them to taste and baked them for 8 minutes on each side.  Meanwhile, I baked some chicken and sauteed some broccoli and green onions.  The end result was a nice meal that turned out pretty good.  We tried some hawaiian teriyaki sauce on the side (about the size of a quarter) to give the chicken some flavor.

I had some fun with the plating... serve irish flag style...

or serve bulls-eye style!

After dinner we went out with some of our friends and I order my vodka gimlet.  The server called me an "advanced drinker."  I was very proud.  Then I almost got some late night falafel, but didn't give in to the peer pressure.  I was very proud.  

DAY 83
Today I tried another Amy's Organic breakfast.  This time, I tried the Mexican tofu scramble.  It was SO good!  I almost couldn't believe it.  I immediately added it to next week's shopping list.
For lunch I used some of the leftover plain chicken from dinner to make a salad - adding lettuce, craisins, pistachios and a light sesame ginger dressing.

For dinner we had another banquet to attend for work.  The good news is we got a free meal and I didn't have to cook.  There's no bad news.  I ate a salad, a roll, and the main course was chicken with asparagus (3 spears) and some mashed potatoes.  I, of course, ate the slice of cheese cake and berries for dessert.  And drank the free wine.  And then switched to free vodka gimlets.  Thank you, work function.  

DAY 84
This morning I made eggs with onions and a scoop of salsa.  I guess I enjoy the Mexican flavoring in my breakfast foods.  Okay let's be serious, in all my foods.  I love avocados too.  mMmmm that sounds good.  I'll need to add some avocados to our lineup next week.

I snacked on a chewy mocha brownie cookie (fresh from the freezer - that's right, they're still good!) and a 100 calorie pack of cheese.

For lunch I had a leftover portion of the turkey bake.   Still good.  I'm sad it's all gone.   MJ ate all our leftover couscous tilipia too.  We did a good job of getting rid of stuff we had in the fridge this week!

MJ snacked on an Amy's Organic Black Bean Veggie Burrito.  He gave it a big stamp of approval but declined the option of writing a guest post.  Mabye next time.

For dinner, we met up with some friends who cooked us rice with sauteed peppers and tofu.  It was served with a peanut sauce and I think it came out well and looked really easy to make.  They also had some corn chips/tortillas and this delicious bean dip out, that MJ and I devoured.  Apparently they bought it at a farmer's market, so now I'm working on convincing MJ to attend said farmer's market so that we too can purchase this bean dip.  

So that's all in our fantastic week of cooking!  Michael Jordan said it was probably our best week of meals to date.  

Week of April 11th
Coming up this week, we've decided to make:

  1. Spanish Style Chicken with Mango Salsa 
  2. Mediterranean Veggies with Navy Bean Penne (vegetarian)
  3. Fish Tacos
  4. Leftovers 

We only actually need to cook 3 meals this week because then we'll be heading home where Mama Chickpeas will take over the cooking!  Don't worry, the blog will continue from the Chickpea home!

What are you making this week? Need other suggestions?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Coupon Organizing

I want to mention that I've been diligently clipping coupons every Sunday in the paper.  I also bought a super duper organizer from staples that looks similar to  this:
I labeled each tab with an area of the grocery store/shopping place: 
  • produce
  • meat/fish
  • dairy
  • freezer
  • cleaning supplies
  • non-perishables
  • health/beauty/medicine
  • paper goods
  • misc. home things
  • other restaurants
    • Any discounts I have to restaurants or food stores go here
  • mall
    • Gift cards go here
 This coupon organizer had been extremely helpful in helping me keep track of my coupons and really saving money!  What do you do to keep track of your coupons?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Running, An Early Seder (Passover Preview) and a Delicious Stir Fry (Days 78 and 79)

DAY 78

Michael Jordan and I woke up very early today to go for a run together.  I've mentioned running a few times before, and how much I enjoy running with MJ because we get to spend time together.  Let's be clear that I have not always been a runner.  In fact, this time last year I HATED running.  It was boring, hurt my knees, and I always got cramps.  MJ started running last spring when the weather got nice and I went with him one time.  We probably ran a half of a mile and I stopped more than 10 times.  It was bad.  Really bad.  After the "Julie Loop," MJ ran another 2 miles before calling it a day while I stayed in and cried about how horrible it was.  But I tried it again and only stopped 5 times.  And then could run the whole "Julie Loop" without stopping.  Then the loop got bigger, and then doubled in size.  And I liked it.  We were probably running about 3 miles then, and we decided to sign up for a 5K (3.1 miles).  I ran the whole 5K without stopping and set a time of 31:51 - beating my goal of "under 40 minutes."  We ran another 5K later in the fall and plan on running in more this spring.  

So today we went for a run before work and we ran 4.4 miles!  That's my longest run to date.  I was confused because my fitbit told me we ran about 5.2 miles, so I wonder if I just took a lot of steps, which made the miles seem longer?  Not sure.  Maybe I just misread it before we started running.  Either way, it felt great to achieve my longest run and get so many steps in before even going to work!

We got back and I did my Monday Morning Weigh In.  I'm down 2 pounds from last week, so only 3.5 more to go to get to my goal weight!  That's only 1 pound above my lowest point so far on this clean eating meal plan.  Meanwhile, if you're keeping score, MJ hasn't gained a pound.

For breakfast I broke out of my routine of eating my go-to english muffin breakfast and whipped up some eggs.  2 egg whites with onions, tomatoes, and part-skim mozz cheese to be exact.

For lunch, I tried Annie Chuns's Chinese Chicken Soup Bowl, that was located in the organic section of the supermarket.  I picked this soup because:
  1. It looked yummy
  2. It looked easy
  3. I did not have to keep it refrigerated/frozen
  4. I could recognize all the ingredients on the back of the box.

Well I was right on 3 of the 4 above.  The last three.  This soup was not yummy.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, but it was not "yummy."  I'd probably compare it to a healthier version of cup of noodle soup.  That's not a good thing.  Coincidentally, MJ also tried this soup for dinner, and agreed that it was disappointing and not worth repeating. 

The only good thing is that there's a coupon for Annie's products inside the label!  Looking at the Annie Chun's website now, there are definitely other products that look good and that I'd be willing to try.  Maybe I'm just not an instant soup fan?

For snacks today, I had 1 health valley chocolate granola bar and 1 90 calorie special K bar.  I'm not thrilled with either one, but I will say that I won't be purchasing the 90 calorie special K bars again because I can't recognize a thing on the box.  I'm sure this sounds like old news to you, but I was persuaded by the packaging and "chocolatey chip cookie flavor" that was promised.  After all, we all know I'm a sucker for cookies.
I also had 5 french fries (stolen from a friend) and some tam tams (a Passover cracker, similar to matzah) and salsa.

Some of you may now be thinking something along the lines of.... "WHAT?  What's a tam tam?  Where did this matzah talk come from?  It's not passover, is it?  Since when is Julie Jewish? Are we about to learn something personal about Julie beyond the anonymous pen name??" 

Well avid readers, after 78 days I'm pleased to share with you that I am Jewish.  If you notice, there's no pork, ham, bacon, or sausage posts.  I don't eat piggies. Oink oink.  You're welcome, Wilbur

"But Julie, you ate shrimp!  Can you eat shrimp?"  Very astute observation, blog reader.  I did/do eat shrimp.  No, I'm not supposed to.  It's not kosher.  I make my mom sad every time I cook shrimp.  (Sorry mom!) But I make my own rules and do allow an exception to be made for shrimp.  

I do tend to refrain from mixing meat and dairy products together.  I have separate plates and silverware for meat and dairy foods. 99% of the meals I cook are Kosher-style.  If you have any questions about keeping Kosher, let me know.

Anyway, you're still right - it's not Passover and Passover doesn't start for another two weeks, so what's the deal with the tam tams

Well, a few coworkers decided to put together a model seder to help teach both Jewish and non-Jewish colleagues about Passover.  So I attended a seder, even though I have 2 weeks to eat regular foods before Passover begins.

"WHAT?  Julie you are going to have MORE dietary restrictions?"  Yup.  During Passover I can't eat anything with leavening in it, including, but not limited to, wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt.  I'll explain a lot more about Passover in 2 weeks when the holiday begins, since I will be cooking/eating only foods that are Kosher for Passover.

So anyway, back to my story.  I went to a model seder, and at the model seder I ate:
  • a few bites of matzah
  • chicken (probably 4 ounces)
  • 1 slice of brisket 
  • 5 bites of roasted potatoes
  • grilled veggies
  • 1/2 bite of a cookie
  • Wine!
The best part about passover is that you get to drink a lot of wine.  That definitely makes the amount of foods you can't eat more bearable.  I hope you are now all sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for my Passover posts.

After dinner I watched a horrible horrible game between UConn and Butler.  Sigh.

DAY 79

Once again, I decided to make eggs for breakfast.  Exactly the same as I did yesterday, so I put them on a different colored plate so you would know I really did eat them two days in a row and didn't just recycle pictures.  Would I do that to you, avid reader?  

At work I had a cup of coffee.  And a free (delicious, unhealthy) blueberry muffin.  And another cup of coffee.  What, the first one was bad.  And cold.
For lunch I tried Amy's Organic Cheese Burrito.  It was pretty good, but I didn't heat it up enough so the middle wasn't hot.  That's my fault, not yours, Amy.  I see on the website that Amy's Organic makes low sodium burritos also, so I'll have to look for those next time I am in the store.

For snacks I had my go-to almond butter snack, 1 apple, 1 cheese stick, 2 rye krisp crackers and 3 cheese cubes.
For dinner, I made a DELICIOUS DELICIOUS Beef and Broccoli Orange Stir Fry from the Best of Clean Eating Magazine Cookbook!

  • 12 ounces soba noodles (TOO MANY - 4 ounces uncooked is enough)
  • 1 lb lean round steak, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness and sliced into strips 
  • 1/2 cup white onion diced
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets 
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium tamari soy sauce
  • juice 1 medium orange  
  • 2 gloves garlic 
  • 2 tsp raw organic honey
  • 2 tsp whole-wheat flour
  1. Cook noodles according to package. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat large skillet over high for 1 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high, mist with cooking spray and saute steak for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove steak, leave juices in pan.
  3. Add onion, broccoli, and pepper, saute for 5 minutes.
  4. In medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, orange juice, garlic, and honey.
  5. Add steak back to pan and pour in mixture. Saute until heated through then whisk in flour to thicken. Add noodles to pan and cook until warmed. 
  6. 1 serving = 1 cup = 257 calories
The only thing I really changed was the amount of noodles (less) and the amount of veggies (more).  It was really easy and turned out great.  MJ helped himself to thirds! The meal says it serves 6, but I really think it would only serve 4.    

Let me know if you try out the beef and orange stir fry!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Meals for the Week of April 4

Last week I planned out 6 meals to make during the week (see the list here).

I never got through all 6 meals because we traveled and didn't eat at home for 2 dinners.  So, this week I'm rolling over one of the meals:
  1. Beef and Broccoli orange stir fry 
    1. Dinner on day 79
    2. NEW favorite healthy meal!
  2. Chicken Gratin
  3. Southwest Turkey Bake
  4. Chicken and Toasted Peanut Toss
  5. Leftovers
  6. Out to eat (we have a few dinner events this week, so I won't need to cook as many dinners at home)
What are you planning on eating this week?

Tourists, Bridal Luncheons, Traveling, and a Light Meal (Days 75 - 77)

Hello my blog readers.  All 3,500 of you!  I can't believe my personal little blog project has been read by over 3,500 people.  I appreciate that my blog is being followed and read by so many people.  Please continue to read!

DAY 75

Breakfast - go to breakfast.  As per usual.  

Today I took off the morning from work to be a tourist in my own town.  MJ and I are planning on moving in about 4 months and I created a bucket list of things that I must do in this city before I leave.  Today I went to a top tourist site with Mrs. Jordan.  Without ruining the anonymity of this blog, I'll just say that we did a lot of walking.  So much so that my fitbit total for the day was 16,182 without going to the gym or actively exercising!!!
After being tourists in our own city, Mrs. Jordan and I went out for lunch at a hot spot in the city.  The place was packed by 11:30am!  Luckily we got a table without a wait (the last one!) and enjoyed a delicious lunch.  I had two small slices of bread with butter, and the special of the day: chicken with stir fry veggies, rice, and a sweet teriyaki/cherry sauce.  It was delicious and I basically ate the entire thing.  I also had a diet coke so I'd have enough caffeine to have a productive day at work for the rest of the afternoon!

I don't remember what snacks I ate for the rest of the day, but I think it's safe to say I had a cheese stick.

For dinner, I met up with a few friends from high school at this Italian restaurant.  WHAT?  Out to eat TWICE in one day??? I know, right?  Bad choices.  

But I still tried to be good!  I picked a whole wheat pasta with shrimp and veggies in it, topped with a light lobster sauce.  I also had two slices of bread with that and some wine.  Then MJ and I split some chocolate mousse for dessert.

I'm glad that I had a high-scoring fitbit day in lieu of my not so great meal choices.    Sorry I have no pictures to share with you from today.

DAY 76

Breakfast - go to breakfast.  As per usual.  Again.

Today I happily attended my friend's bridal shower luncheon.  There was a pre-selected menu for us with a few different options.  I picked a potato leek soup (very good), a grilled chicken caesar salad, and some vanilla and chocolate haagen dazs ice cream.  How could anyone say no to haagen dazs??  Picking the grilled chicken was definitely a good choice, and the salad was very lightly dressed so I think I did fairly well considering we were out at a restaurant!

After the bridal luncheon, MJ and I hopped in the car and headed to the beach to see my college roommates: Annabelle, Tiffany and Desiree.  And all of their respective boyfriends.  I was really good not to snack in the car.

For dinner, we had some homemade burgers and veggie kabobs that Annabelle's boyfriend grilled for us on the BBQ.  I limited myself to 1 burger + bun + ketchup and as many veggies as my heart desires!  I also had some bites of a yummy potato salad.  And one slice of American cheese.  Just because I missed it.  Processed American cheese is NOT included on the recommended clean eating food list!  

After dinner I had a few drinks.  When my friends went out for late night snacks I caved and got 3 chicken fingers.  Which was really only 1.5 chicken fingers because MJ ate half of them.  Which was really about 6 bites of chicken.  I know that eating late at night is bad for you.  So is eating fried chicken strips.  I recognize that most late night food options are really unhealthy, but I think chicken fingers may be the lesser of the evils.  No, I don't think chicken fingers are healthy.  But I ate them.  They weren't good.  

However, the plus side for my horrible late night eating is that after midnight and before I went to bed, I had 5600 steps (dancing) on my fitbit.  Quite an impressive way to start a day.          

DAY 77

This morning for breakfast I had an egg and cheese sandwich on a croissant and a cup of coffee.  Once again, croissants are not healthy.  I should not have picked a croissant.  However, when faced with a list of 5 unhealthy bread options for a breakfast sandwich, I'm going to select the yummiest one every time, and the yummiest one is definitely a croissant.  And it was yummy.

Then I said goodbye to my college roommates and drove back home with MJ.  Again, on this car ride home we were very good about not snacking.  

For lunch, we got deli sandwiches on kaiser roles (again, not healthy.  I miss you wheat bread!!!).  I had half of a turkey, lettuce, tomato and mayo (GASP) sandwich.  I know, I know.  How horrible could I possible be in one 24 hour period?  Pretty horrible.  

When we got back home I felt that I needed to cleanse myself of my junk food habits and cook a good, clean eating meal for dinner.  Before dinner, I snacked on one cheese stick.  Then I planned out our meals for the week and took Michael Jordan to the grocery store with me to get everything we needed.  We also saved over $20 by buying things that were on sale and using coupons!  

For dinner I made a tilapia citrus couscous from the best of clean eating cookbook!  

This was really easy to make:
Step 1: Cook 1 dry cup whole wheat couscous

Step 2: Chop up 2 carrots, celery (I skipped this because I don't like celery), 1/2 red pepper, 1 medium yellow onion.
Step 3: Cook 4 tilapia fillets on a pan - 2 minutes per side.
Step 4: Make a dressing from the juice of 1 lime  + zest, the juice of 1/2 lemon + zest, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, 1 tbls evoo, 2 tbsl dried parsley flakes, 1 clove garlic - minced.

Step 5: Add everything in a big bowl
Step 6: Eat!  1 cup = 1 serving = 154 calories!
MJ and I agreed this meal was light, healthy, and easy!  In the future, we might try to marinate the tilapia before hand or cook up the veggies to give a fuller taste.  Let me know if you try out this recipe!

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