Monday, July 25, 2016

Grilled Veggies and Love for the Fresh Market

Hey y'all! I trust everyone is having a typical Monday. Other than a couple moments Saturday and Sunday where I ate too much, I showed great restraint and had a renewed spirit. I counted everything and I'm hoping that I remain consistent with this new boost of energy. We shall see. I had a great weekend. I go to see 98 degrees at the Amp with some of my favorite people and actually got a bit of rest. I am still running weekly and this heat is killing me. I can't wait until the fall so it's not so miserable outside.

As I've mentioned, my grill is my new favorite kitchen appliance. I grilled some veggies a couple weeks ago and got the idea to wrap asparagus in turkey bacon. The turkey version doesn't wrap as well as the pork so you need to make it stick by using toothpicks. I didn't have any toothpicks so I improvised and used safety pins. It worked pretty well! Something about the grill takes vegetables to another level and I highly recommend it.

My current obsession is getting meal kits from Fresh Market. They are always a great deal and aren't ever too indulgent (other than the desserts they give you). For 20 bucks, you can feed a family of four. I've gotten several of these and I posted some of the pictures here. The first is a pic of the grill as I grilled veggie and pork kabobs. These kabobs were huge and they came with a salad kit, pita bread and gelato! The second is a beef and vegetable stir fry that came with rice, meat, veggies, simmer sauce and a pound cake. It was really delicious. Ian and I made two separate pans so we could eat the veggies we wanted. It made a ton of food. It also made me decide I need a rice cooker because I can't cook rice without it sticking to the bottom of the pan to save my life. Finally, I posted a pic of the most recent one...spaghetti! They gave you fresh noodles, sauce, ground beef, lettuce and chocolate cake. I added the zucchini noodles to mine for a little bit of green. Ian and I made several meals of this and still have some left we will probably have to toss. If you have a Fresh Market in your area, I seriously suggest that you get down there on Thursdays and take advantage.

That's all I got for today! Until next week...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Pork and Beans

Hey y'all. Up again this week. Shrugging my shoulders and changing the subject at this point. My mind ain't right. I hope you all had a nice weekend and that Monday is treating you OK. I had a lot of fun over the weekend and took a day trip to see my family in Chattanooga yesterday so I'm a little tired today but overall satisfied with the friends and family I got to see.

When I say I'm talking about pork and beans, I don't mean that in the sense that you are probably used to. I know it makes me incredibly un-Southern but I hate baked beans. My version of a post about "pork and beans" is to tell you about a black bean burger and pork chops. The two aren't really related at all. First, my mom shared Morning Star's Chipotle Black Bean Burger with me. I've had my share of veggie burgers in the past but she provided a rave review. I tried it and at 190 calories, it's pretty dang good. It's not the most beautiful "patty" in the world but I dressed it up. I added a "fried" egg, barbecue sauce and skinny ranch and then I used an Everything Bagel Thin as the bun. It tasted great. I will say that an extra lean burger made with actual beef is about 170 calories so typically, I'd prefer that but the added bonus to the black bean burger is that it doesn't shrink down the way beef does. It's filling and has good flavor. I recommend it especially if you are trying to reduce the amount of red meant you consume.

I also whipped up this collage to show how far I stretched some pork chops I grilled up the other week. I marinated them with Asian flavors (soy sauce, honey, W sauce, garlic) and had them with mashed potatoes. Later in the week, I put them on a simple bed of greens and they tasted great. As always, making things ahead on the grill has been a really great way to save time during the week.

Hang in there, y'all. It's only Monday!

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Tiny Taste of Cuba

Hey y'all. It's a very Monday-ish Monday today with assorted ups and downs. The world is still a crazy place with violence and opinions and it doesn't look like the tension is going anywhere. So, I am still going to talk about food and how hard it has been for me not to gain weight the past year and a half because my problems with that don't seem to be going anywhere either. I have mental barriers placed strategically all around my brain that are working against me. Then, last week, after going almost 20 miles on foot and kickboxing 4 times over the course of seven days, not only did I fall yesterday while running in 100 degree weather, I gained two pounds. I kept my food in tact all week too so you know, whatever. I haven't lost weight in months. But, somehow, here I am again today, working at it again...taking it one day at a time...hoping something changes. I know that's not exactly uplifting but I don't feel uplifted. I feel beaten down by my brain and my body. I haven't and won't give up though.

It's hard to transition from the gloomy intro into talking about Cuban sandwiches but I'm going to do it anyway. I LOVE a Cuban sandwich. Mostly, I love pork, cheese and spicy mustard. One thing that makes me a Cuban sandwich loving impostor is that I hate pickles so I can't be called a true fan I guess. During my first week of Blue Apron, they sent us Cuban sandwiches that were delicious but a little high in calories. I wanted to whip up a quick Cuban inspired lunch that would cut the calories in half. So, I took a low cal/carb flat bread (use whatever kind you want), added a tablespoon of light butter to a skillet and placed the wrap in it, added ham, ultra thin sliced Swiss and a combo of stone ground mustard and deli mustard. It was delicious and only a few hundred calories! Since I made it at home, I saved money and didn't have to tell a server at a Cuban restaurant "no pickles" and have them sneer and say, "that's not really a Cuban." It's also nice to do it in the skillet with just a little bit of the light butter to give it a bit of a grilled cheese vibe.

I am not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes. I like sweet potato fries in many cases but that's about it. I try to eat them like a baked potato but I just can't get completely on board. I had a couple lying around but I was having trouble finding motivation to eat them. Then I decided to try to turn them into chips. I used a mandolin slicer which is handy for consistency in size. Then all I did was add a tiny bit of olive oil and salt and toss it together. Throw it in the oven and that's pretty much it. The only thing I wish I had done is leave them in to the point where they were almost burned because they weren't crispy enough. They tasted fine and when they were warm, they were satisfactory but they didn't keep well. I was over it the next day. Not a rave review. Maybe someone has better sweet potato tricks?
Also, I volunteered to make dessert for Sunday dinner last night. It's not healthy but I wanted to share anyway. I'd never had strawberry pie and this is a Pinterest inspired recipe called "Strawberry Poptart Pie." I used leftover pie crust I had in the freezer. The filling requires 3 cups of cooked strawberries, 3 cups frozen, 1 grated granny smith apple, corn starch and sugar. Bake it and then combine powdered sugar with vanilla and drizzle it on top. Oh and the best part...sprinkles. My only regret is that I wish I had eaten the pie when it was still warm. Overall it was tasty though!

Dad and I went to see a Fleetwood Mac tribute band on Saturday. Other than some sound issues and a bit of diva behavior from the lead singer, it was a fun night. It was a nice weekend overall. I hope you all keep your head up out there and have a great week!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Let Freedom Ring Y'all!

Happy 4th everyone! I love this day because it's a reminder that in this country we have the right to our opinions and the ability to say what we want so the next time someone on social media gets on your nerves, just think of it as them exercising their right as an American. We don't always have to like what people say and think but in SOME ways, I'm sure as heck glad they have the right to do so. I hope y'all are all enjoying the day.

Since it's the 4th, I thought I'd share my first steak on the grill. I have been wanting to grill a steak but I have noticed they are a little budget-breaking. So, I found some sirloin on sale and decided to give it a shot. The issue I came across was that since sirloin is so lean, it's hard to keep it perfect on the grill. The taste was great, it wasn't over cooked and it was juicy but it was a little chewy. However, for my first steak, I was pretty proud of it.

Also, I have found the ranch recipe that I will use forever. For 15 calories a tablespoon and 3 ingredients, I'm obsessed. Obviously ranch is very important to me and so I love that I have a substitute. It's not perfect but it's about as good as I've had. All I do is mix half a cup of light mayo (Pro Tip: NEVER USE OR EAT FAT FREE MAYO. Trust me.) Then I mix 1-3/4 cup buttermilk slowly to the mayo. After that, add a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix and boom! A bowl full of ranch. I like a lot of dressing so knowing I can have 4 tablespoons for 60 calories makes me happy. Add some of that and a little low fat feta to your salad...YESSIR!

Have a great day and thanks to everyone past and present who have served this country so selflessly!

School starts this week so back to business tomorrow!