Monday, August 29, 2016

Chicken All Day Every Day

Hi y'all! It's Monday again but this week I am motivated by the fact that I will be in Colorado next week. It's going to be a busy few days but I'm looking forward to exploring Denver with Ian. I weighed last week and the three pounds I magically lost the week before came back. I didn't have a great reaction to this so I don't expect that I'll lose any this week. It doesn't look like I'll hit my goal before Colorado but that's OK, I've set another one for Halloween. I need to work on positive reinforcement for myself and also not reacting by indulging but hey...I have been needing to fix that for years. I'll tell you if I find the magic trick.

I know I talk about chicken a lot and I promote grilling chicken ahead of time to make recipes throughout the week. This post is no different. Chicken is a lean protein that those who are trying to eat healthy flock to on a regular basis. Sometimes it can get boring. The trick is knowing that there are about a million ways to prepare chicken. During the summer, I eat a lot of salads. I can get lazy when it comes to making salads because there's a lot of measuring and chopping but sometimes, I force myself to make one. I used chicken I had grilled for the week, tossed it in my "bang bang" sauce mixture of peanut sauce, sesame garlic sauce and sriracha sauce. Then after that, I added fresh corn from the cob that I had also grilled. Once you lay out your greens and add the chicken and corn, you can make it your own. I added feta, green onions and Greek olives. I used my ginger dressing that I've been using on everything. You really can make a healthy and tasty salad and this is coming from someone who likes a salad that is basically ranch soup with cheese and bacon.

Many fast food places are getting in on the "healthier" breakfast. This is great news for those of us who like to swing through a drive-thru from time to time. So far, the most convenient and calorie friendly option is the Egg White Delight from McDonald's. I've eaten countless EWD's as Cassandra and I call them. Now, Chick-Fil-A is in the game. I eat a lot of Chick-Fil-A. They have something called an "Egg White Grill" that's 300 calories. I've had it. It's got grilled chicken, egg whites and cheese sandwiched in an English Muffin. It's pretty good! I had an easy time replicating it at home using my own grilled chicken as well as a wheat bagel thin. While I do love the convenience of fast food, sometimes, it's just as easy to make it at home. See, you can even have chicken for breakfast!

Finally, I wanted to show you my little baby squash. I have been trying to grow a squash plant all summer. The first round was a complete failure but after making a couple adjustments I tried again. This time, I actually got some results! I was so proud of this plant! Ian named one squash Seth and the other Bubba. Seth is no longer with us and Bubba's health is failing. I'm disappointed but I know the hot Alabama sun and the size of the planter has limited the ability for the squash plant to grow to its full potential. My goal is to take a chunk of my yard in the spring and try planting a few things the right way. I never thought I would be this person but the joy my little squash plant brought me has inspired me to continue my attempt at having a green thumb.

I hope you all have a wonderful, stress-free week. AND ROLL TIDE!!! I can't believe I almost forgot! It's time for football again!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hobo y'all

Howdy everyone! I am teaching A LOT this semester (my credit card companies will be happy) so on Mondays and Wednesdays I start my day VERY early. I know many of you are used to early mornings but it's going to take awhile to get accustomed to a 5:30 alarm. Things are still quite hectic so I'll be happier in a couple weeks when I've settled in to everything. I weighed last week, a bit nervous about the results and ended up losing 3 pounds. I couldn't do anything but laugh. My body is so weird. The good thing is that the loss motivated me a bit and I've been pretty successful (other than stretching the rules during dinner on Saturday and Sunday) since the weigh inso I'm hoping for decent results again on Wednesday when I get back on the scale. I have made a small goal for myself. I want to lose 5-1/2 pounds by the morning of September 7th when I go to Denver. Small goals are so important to me right now since I've been struggling.

I wanted to share a foil packet meal that I made. I was inspired by a message I got from my friend Carina who sent me a picture of a foil packet she made. I've always wanted to do it and I'm glad I did. It's super easy, and it's always nice to add the smoky flavor that the grill provides. There are no precise instructions for this because it's so versatile. I used chicken sausage that's already cooked so it didn't take too long on the grill. I took a sheet of foil, added sliced chicken sausage and pieces of zucchini, mushrooms and cut up slices of corn on the cob. I flavored it all with salt, pepper and granulated garlic. Then I added just a tiny bit of oil. I wrapped up the packet and threw it on the grill for about 15 minutes (it probably could have gone about 5-10 more minutes but I'm impatient). When it came out, I added some freshly chopped green onion to the top. My only tip on this would be not to put the packet over direct flames because it got a little scorched in some places. This was a perfect, filling summer meal. I have discovered a new found love for fresh corn on the cob from the grill. I'm not a big fan of it otherwise. This was flavorful and easy. You can add whatever meat/veggies you want, it just may change the time it takes to cook. I highly recommend.

Since I've met Ian, he's gone from someone whose culinary skills were limited to grilled cheese and bowls of Ramen to someone I can rely on to have dinner ready when I get home from busy school days. I'm so impressed and grateful for his efforts to cook (especially since he works every day too). A lot of times, he'll get most of it done and then I'll come home, help finish and dinner will be ready to eat in 10 minutes. He doesn't do anything with vegetables because he doesn't eat them and is afraid he will screw them up, haha. Last week, he got everything done and when I got home I threw zucchini and corn on the grill and we ate a wonderful steak dinner. Since we have moved in together, he's become an expert chicken-griller and taco-maker. What more do you need?

I hope you all have a great week!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bang! Bang! Y'all!

Hey everyone. It's the first week of school so I'm in a mad rush to start classes on Wednesday. Surprisingly, I was only up half a pound after my whirlwind, caloric Nashville trip. I didn't have the best weekend so I am starting fresh today and I've set a small goal for myself that I hope to reach by the time I go to Colorado in a few weeks. I had some pretty fierce moments of self-loathing this weekend and I'm trying to get out of that today. It'll be good to get back on a busy schedule. Staying busy always helps me on my diet struggle.

I am in love with anything that says "bang bang shrimp" or "uptown chicken." It's usually got an Asian zing type flavor but it's always fried. I attempted to achieve that flavor without frying anything and it worked pretty well. It was Taco Tuesday in my house and Ian used ground chuck for his but shrimp was on sale at Fresh Market so that's what I used for mine. I combined peanut sauce, sesame garlic sauce and sriracha and put it in a bowl. I sprayed some non-stick spray in a skillet, added the shrimp and sautéed them at medium heat a few minutes on either side. I removed the tails and tossed them in the bowl to get the sauce evenly coated. I added them to a corn tortilla and topped the shrimp with lettuce and onion. The flavor was great and pretty close to the Asian fried goodness I love so much at restaurants. In the future, I think I'll also add sesame seeds. Oh, and FYI, I also added the same sauce combo to grilled chicken tenders for a spicy "naked" tender effect. Quite tasty. Bold flavors are so important when you are trying to eat healthy.

That same night I decided to balance the healthy shrimp with homemade queso. I've never tried making it before so I found a recipe. It was a combination of white American cheese, fontina, half and half, jalepenos and crushed red pepper. It was so creamy and delicious. It hardens pretty fast but heats up nicely in the microwave with an added splash of cream. It's not a good thing for me to have around the house. I used the leftovers to make Ian a quesadilla the next day.

One thing that I never thought I would love is fruit in a salad. I'm completely on board with that now and decided to make it at home. I found a nice ginger sesame dressing that is only 45 calories per two tablespoons. It's got nice flavor and paired well with strawberries. I added some strawberry halves, the Asian dressing, reduced fat feta cheese and a 100 calorie pack of mixed nuts to a combination of spinach and romaine for a healthy, delicious salad. It was bright and very summer-y.

I am going to have a super busy schedule this semester and it's going to take a minute to get used to it but I'm off and running.

I hope you all have a wonderful Monday/week.

Until next time...

Bye y'all.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Another Swing At Blue Apron

Hey everyone! One of my most notable diet traits is that I tend to take an awesome week of weight loss (like I had a couple weeks ago when I lost almost 4 pounds) and then STOMP all over it. I went to Nashville this weekend and man, I went crazy. I am paying for it physically in terms of bloating, weight and just overall fatigue. I guess it's OK because it was my last hoorah before school starts. I'm setting some really small, doable goals for myself in the coming months and as usual on Mondays, I'm back on the wagon.

I have only had one week of Blue Apron meals before. Even though I enjoy it, I haven't gotten it again because it's a bit pricy so I just go in and skip every week. Well, I forgot to skip it and ended up getting a box of food the last Saturday in July. Luckily, it ended up being a pretty good week. Ian hates pretty much every vegetable and even though I like a lot of veggies, I wouldn't touch a collard green or a raw carrot with a 10 foot pole. So, this distaste led Ian and I to give away the collards and carrots we received and combine two meals. I know this isn't the healthiest thing in the world because it added carbs to the meal but overall it wasn't bad. We had one buttermilk biscuit each, which was a good thing because they were delicious and we could have eaten 10. Then we used the chicken that was supposed to go with the biscuits and added it to our pasta. Ian had is own pan with tomatoes and I had mine with zucchini. It turned out great! I had a side of spicy mayo with the biscuit (which also came with the meal).

The one meal I did receive that was actually healthy and totally delicious was the "Spicy Ponzu-Glazed Catfish with Zucchini, Garlic Rice & Ginger Peanuts." I have never made catfish before so I was a bit hesitant. I like fish pretty well, especially if it's fried. Typically though, I choose other meats above fish. The fish they sent was really fresh. I got no fishy scent on my hands which surprised me. I had never had Ponzu so I went light on it. I'm glad I did because it had a strong citrus flavor which isn't really my thing but ended up being OK. The catfish was easy to cook in the pan...a few minutes on each side. My favorite part was the chili paste they gave combined with the garlic rice and peanuts. The preparation made everything have awesome flavor. I could put sesame things on everything. Plus, it was pretty! The only problem was, Ian doesn't eat fish so naturally I had his too. I won't always get Blue Apron but it's fun to have every once in awhile.

As I mentioned, I went to Nashville and had fun with friends. Part of the reason we went was to have an early birthday celebration for Cassandra. Her birthday is tomorrow so HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Add Asian Flare To Your Salads

Hey y'all! The good news is, I finally saw the number on the scale go down last week for the first time in a LONG time. The bad news is, I did everything in my power to put that back on this weekend. I was so motivated for an entire week and it really showed and now I feel like I'm back out of it mentally again. Today is a new day and even though I feel inclined to eat things I shouldn't, I'm going to do my best to stay within my parameters and have a good attitude. We will see how it goes. I'm going to Nashville this weekend and I think that's why I'm in no mood to diet. I know I'll probably have too much in Tennessee so like always, I want to give up the whole week. I won't though. The other good news is that when I wasn't eating too much this weekend, I was being extremely active! I walked a ton, ran and helped someone move which is about the best exercise you can get it seems like. I'm really sore today.

I don't have much to share as I didn't cook much to write home about last week BUT I did want to tell you about a new salad dressing option. When people eat healthy, salads are often part of there regimen. If you're like me, dressing is one of the biggest obstacles. It's no secret that I love ranch and I have found an acceptable "skinny" option but sometimes, an alternative version of ranch makes me sad so I want a totally different flavor all together. So, I was spending more money than I should at Fresh Market (as usual) and I was browsing the sauces in the Asian aisle and picked up some peanut sauce as well as some sesame garlic sauce. Both of these sauces are about 25-30 calories per tablespoon. I am obsessed with Asian flavors, especially peanut sauce so I made a very simple salad with greens, peanut sauce, sesame garlic sauce and a 100 calorie pack of mixed nuts. It was full of flavor, healthy and very light in calories. It also helped me curb my never-ending craving for Thai food.

While we are talking about salad, I know I've shared it before but you can also use salsa as dressing. I used leftover ground chicken from taco night and tossed it with greens and salsa and it was delicious.

This weekend, I helped put on a going away party for a few friends and even though, Ian and I won't be quitting our day jobs anytime soon to pursue cake decorating, I more than likely won't be buying a cookie cake ever again. I made these at home with store bought cookie dough. My mom has done this in the past so I did it myself. It cost me less than $10 to make both and I just sliced up the cookie dough, placed them close together and baked them. Then I was done!

I hope you all enjoy your week!