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I lost my motivation.  I’m still doing my almost daily lunch time walks, but I’ve lost the gusto for food prep.  I’ve been tired of prepping, cooking, and all that cleaning, so I’ve spent the last week thinking of things I can do to make my workweek simpler while not depending on processed foods.  I was trying to think of fairly healthy meals that can be prepped in advance or require very little work and therefore a minimally dirty kitchen.  Here’s the list of what I’m working with to keep my kitchen time to a minimum (when I’m not baking):

  • Keep a bag of broccoli slaw in the work refrigerator with dressing (right now is Litehouse Sesame Ginger)
  • Set a nightly weekday alarm on my phone to remind me to make the overnight oats for the morning
  • Weekly salad prep on Sundays – cut up what I need, put it all in individual containers & throw a salad together in minutes
  • Freezer food!  Cook a big batch of soup, and freeze the leftovers for grab & go lunches or dinners
  • Get that slow cooker out!  I tend to avoid the slow cooker since it makes a dinner for family, but why am I not all over this?  Duh!  Freeze the leftovers.

Here’s my meal plan for the next couple of weeks.  Click on it to read the details.

 

The blue areas are times when the kiddo is not with me.  The darker blue green are road trip meals.  The gray is just too far out to figure out what we’ll be eating. 

This helps me get what I need ready before the week begins, and it keeps me from having to think about what to prep while minimizing waste.  Of course if we make some healthy muffins like I intend to at some point there may be a breakfast changed out, but having a guide helps.

Feel free to share your ideas to keep your kitchen concoctions healthy & easy. 

 

Ok.  Well I don’t really know how that works.  I receive the Hungry Girl newsletter, and in the one from yesterday I believe there was a brief spill about a Dr. Oz/Weight Watchers team up with a $1,000,000 contest.  I didn’t pay much attention, but I signed up anyway.  Isn’t that how the web works anyhow?  Mindless wandering?  Click here if you’d like to sign up you mindless wanderer you!

Anyhow, the first step in the transformation prescribed is to tell a friend.  I cheated.  I sent the email to myself.  Before you completely judge me… it was with the intent of posting it here anyhow.  🙂  Feel free to check it out.  I haven’t played around much in here, but I plan to!

I ate way too much.  I don’t know if I’ve ever binged ate like I did this weekend.  It all started with the cake balls.  They were good.   I was ok Saturday, but thanks to bad service I didn’t eat Saturday night.  Sunday when I was able to eat I overdid it some for lunch.  Then it felt like it was all downhill from there with a weekend of overindulging.  I feel like crud this morning for it.  Everyday is a new day.  I just need to remember this terrible, bloated feeling for next time. 

I didn’t gain any weight for this week’s official weigh in, but yuck all the same!

It’s gorgeous out.  I have no kiddo.  How about a bike ride?   This is only #3 ride since I got this bike.  If I keep up with it I will buy a nifty, nice mountain bike, but I’m sorry.  This bike looks adorable (ignore the garage).

When I moved to this area (West side of Houston) I knew there were bike trails around, so that’s when I bought the bike.  I wasn’t thrilled about the first ride that involved trying to out pedal a dog, so trails are a beautiful thing!  I see they are well used from the traffic I see on them that crosses a main road I travel on, so they seem safe, too.  After a little research it turns out there are 37 connected miles of trail (~25 paved, ~12 unpaved) to play on.  I’ve only done 3 (3 out & back for a 6 mile ride).  Not bad for a first ride. 

For today’s ride I headed up north to Splendora to ride with Rich.  We knocked out 6 miles.  He has some hills up there (my legs noticed).  My bike is making a weird noise, though.  Rich looked at it briefly & it looks like a clip is missing.  I’ll have to do some research, but he was really worried with me riding it Saturday.  It looks like the crank is just going to fall apart or something.  It (and I) did survive the trip.  Sadly I didn’t get to ride any the rest of the weekend with the never ending rain on Sunday.  😦  I was even off Monday with the kiddo, but he really didn’t want to go for a ride.   Just as well since it needs a little TLC.

Forgive the cell phone shot, but I am kinda fond of this button.  It actually was a freebie on our benefits day at work from the Cigna representatives.  I got the last one, and I felt pretty lucky.  Who wouldn’t want this button?  Apparently quite a few because I was getting the ‘you’re a dork’ look from coworkers.  I’m cool with that.

Beyond it’s first day on my shirt it found a home on my cubicle wall.  When I exit my cube it’s a reminder.  When I look up from my computer screen, it’s a reminder.  It’s hanging next to some charts (I can’t show to keep from making my employer angry), but everytime I need to investigate a path to get at data, the button is right there.

Do you have a saying or quote that keeps you motivated?  Do you use visual reminders to keep your momentum?

Yesterday was the ‘don’t be scared’ smoothie talk (see Smoothie 411, part 1).  Today we move to the fun, creative part of smoothie goodness.

Add in ideas:

  • dark chocolate cocoa – to taste
  • sweetener of choice – stevia/Splenda/honey/etc to taste
  • oats – blend the night before & leave it in the refrigerator
  • protein powder – I just ordered some, but I have yet to try it.  Optional really for recipes you stumble upon.
  • ground flax – Once I’m out of flax I’m going to try out chia seeds.  Chia seeds are more expensive, but I’ve been reading they are quite the nutrition powerhouse.  You can also leave these out of recipes you may find on the web.
  • substitute kale for spinach – Kale has a stronger taste, so substitute spinach for recipes you find on the web.  Kale tends to be cheaper than spinach, but the organic bunches probably equate to about the same depending on the season.
  • cucumber – 1/4 of a medium peeled
  • celery – 1/3 of a stalk is my max per smoothie
  • cinnamon – or other yummy spices like nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice blends, etc
  • nut butters – peanut butter, almond butter, whatever you have or want to try

It totally never occurred to me to treat these concoctions as something that can be eaten with a spoon.  What was I thinking?!?!  It was a glorious day when I ran across a blog with the unique name of… (drum roll please)… Sprinkle Massacre.  Jillian (the author) and her beau are crazy about sprinkles, and she has opened the door to the world of making these smoothie concoctions yummy meals for me.  Before I pour it in a bowl I generally blend, put it in the freezer for 15-30 minutes (while I get dressed or make my lunch), and then get creative.

Toppings:

  • whipped cream – redi-whip, fat free, sugar free… whatever floats your boat! I’m a fat free Cool Whip girl myself
  • fresh fruit
  • nuts – I’m a walnut fanatic.
  • cereal – I like crunch.  I’ve got a baggie of Uncle Sam cereal here at work thanks to the inspiration blog.
  • granola
  • bars – crumble up your healthy bars
  • graham crackers – crumble ’em up
  • nut butters – I like to heat up a little almond butter to swirl in.
  • SPRINKLES – Sprinkles breed happiness.  They make your smoothie go from good to WOW!  Try it out.  You’ll see.

Play around with what works for you.  I try to keep mine in the ‘healthy’ range of add ins or toppings, and I treat it like a meal when I start adding high calorie nut related add ins. 

Feel free to toss some ideas of your own in the comments area.  I love smoothie ideas!

And I leave you with today’s beauty.

Blackberry Beauty

  • 1/3 large frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen blackberries
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • kale to the top

Topped with thawed blackberries, a large dollup of fat free Cool Whip, Uncle Sam cereal & SPRINKLES!!!

I really had a hard time finding smoothie recipes when I first got turned onto the idea of a nutritious fruit and veggie on-the-go option.  Let me take that back.  I had a hard time finding good ‘recipes’ with ingredients that I was willing to go with.  There weren’t many with amounts, and some consisted of exotic ingredients that were intimidating and expensive.  Then those with amounts that had normal fruits and veggies just sounded so off together I couldn’t envision actually trying it.  While I still haven’t moved over to using avocados or anything I get the jist of  it now!

I am not a pro, but really once you get started it is simple.  I have a Magic Bullet at the moment (but I’m eyeing a fancy blender), so I don’t really need to measure.  I am going through the motions of measuring ingredients out to provide actual recipes for those a little intimidated by just throwing spinach in a blender.  However, feel free to change it up to make your taste buds happy!

 

 

My base smoothie:

  • 1/2 small frozen banana
  • 1/2 cupish of frozen fruit
  • 3/4 cupish of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • as much spinach as will fit

 

This picture is before the milk & spinach.  With my specific blender cups I fill them to these levels with fruit (larger chunks in my larger cup), and I generally pour in enough milk to just above cover the frozen portion.  Too much & it takes too long for the blender to work it’s magic for my patience.  To little & it’s too thick to drink. 

That’s it.  Voila!

This is what I consider my go-to smoothie.  By all means, leave out the spinach if you’re scared.  You can’t taste it, but it does tend to make them look a little less appetizing.  These smoothies can be as good as ice cream.  I promise.  When you’re ready add in a couple of leaves of spinach.   Then a couple of more the next day.   One day you may reach a cup or so or not.  Baby steps! 

Substitute the frozen fruit for fresh fruit if that is what you have.  I recommend peeling fruits like apples with the blender I have.  Use your common sense with fresh fruit – orange peel can’t possibly taste good.  I’m really big on the frozen banana thing, but I’ll cover that in a minute. 

Substitute the almond milk with coconut water, any other milk or even orange juice.  I have even seen recipes with water, but I’m personally not crazy about using water.   I’m betting you have the ingredients to try one out right now!

As far as the bananas go I highly recommend freezing your bananas as soon as they are to your level of ripeness just for the smoothie goodness that awaits you.  The riper the banana, the stronger the flavor in your smoothie.  Break them up (into thirds if they are larger, halves if they are smaller) & put them in the freezer in a freezer bag. You can use fresh bananas.   It’s not my preference, but if you go that route I would recommend adding in some ice cubes for the smoothie consistency.  Just my 2 cents!

This is a good place to start.  In part 2 we’ll get creative with add in options and toppings.  Talk about fun!  I’ll leave you with today’s finished product.

Strawberry Chocolate Fun

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3 cup frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • spinach packed into the space left

I stuck it in the freezer for about 30 minutes after the blend to make it spoon worthy.  No cheating!  We’ll talk toppings tomorrow.

I shared my baby blog with a friend!  I’m a little shy about sharing my life with people that know me since I may go a little deep here, but I was relieved that she gave me some positive feedback.  We’re going to call her All Star Mom (coworker friend that is an active parent for sure).  All Star Mom liked the picture of my son flying the kite, and I really wished I had a sunny picture along the same lines.  She actually found it inpsirational as it is.

“Even on the cloudy days we can still fly our kites and smile.”

Nice.  I didn’t see it that way initially, but she’s right.

I don’t know about you, but I’m all about goal setting to help me get to where I want to be.  I realize that new years resolutions are rarely followed through with, but when your goals are broken into manageable chunks success can be yours!  Or mine! 

Life: Get the blog going!

Money: Live the new budget.  I built it in September, now it’s time to make it happen!

Lifestyle: Get my butt in & out of bed!  I need to get into a nightly routine with a set bedtime (9:30 PM), and I need to get up to workout (5:00).  Shooting for this during the workdays anyhow.

Also in this category I’d like to start riding my bike more.  I can’t put a quantitative goal on this one since it requires working with my son.  He’s not a big fan of bike riding yet.

These are actually kinda big goals, so I’ll leave it here.  Of course there are other things to tackle, but I need to master my manageable chunks!

I have been drinking smoothies this year pretty regularly.  I lost about 15 pounds this year, and I attribute keeping it off to this.  Recently I ran across a blog called sprinkle massacre that has inspired me to get more creative with smoothies.  I’d like to start incorporating more into my diet to keep calories down.  They can really feel indulgent!  Here is smoothie #1 post inspiration:

Delicious green goop

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/3 c frozen mixed fruit (looked like mostly peaches when pouring out of the bag)
  • 3/4 c unsweetened almond milk
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • spinach til no more will fit in my bullet

Gave this a whirl and stuck it in the freezer while I got ready for work.  When I got to work (after too much traffic) I stuck it in the freezer while I got my day started.  Pulled it out, and topped it with sprinkles.  Isn’t that awesome?!?!  Well some coworkers agreed & others didn’t, but I promise it was phenomenal.  Add a mini whole wheat bagel & reduced fat cream cheese put me at under 400 calories & full.  Yay!

Renee

I'm a 32 year old single mom with a great job working towards a healthier lifestyle. These are the baby steps & random musings of that journey.

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