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Friday, April 29, 2011

Fresh & Easy

Fresh & Easy markets just recently started popping up around the bay area. I went to one for the first time earlier this week and was pleasantly surprised. It's very similar to Trader Joe's in prices, but there is a TON more 'ready-to-eat' food available. So much so.. I was super overwhelmed. I picked up a few things to see how I like it  while staying OP. For my night in clinicals I bought salmon with spinach and potatoes and I got Kris a curry dish (butter chicken I think). I loved mine - so delish and filling at 8 P+, and Kris said his was really good too! They have pizza dough in the fridge case - the Rosemary focaccia dough comes ready to roll and bake - with the instructions on the package:

Rosemary Foccacia (6 servings, 5 P+ per large piece)
Roll out dough onto a baking sheet covered with parchment or a silpat. Brush with 3 tsp EVOO. Grate & mash 2 cloves of garlic w/ a tsp of salt to make it spreadable, and spread over dough. Sprinkle on dried oregano, basil, & thyme to taste.

I served this with Chicken & Orzo soup from Safeway (3 1 cup servings, good if you like the flavor of lemongrass) 2 P+, and Cucumber/Tomato salad (2 servings, 2 P+ each):

1 Tomato, 1 Cucumber & 1/4 thinly sliced red onion
2 Tbsp TJ's Tuscan Italian dressing
2 Tbsp feta cheese

One of the other things I picked out from there was their Tomato & Basil Chicken sausage (Delicious and 3 P+ each - a bargain!). I used it to round out an otherwise vegetarian entree of Pasta Primavera.

Skillet Pasta Primavera, adapted from "Cooking for Two" (a cookbook I absolutely adore)
Makes 3 generous servings, 8 P+ each.
I took this after we both served ourselves.. See how big the servings are? Next time, I would add some roasted cherry tomatoes to the mix for a pop of color and I would add more asparagus & zucchini to boost the veggies. 
Cooking Spray
1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 1/4 cups water
1 cup white mushrooms, quartered
3 garlic cloves, minced (grate over a microplane a la Rachel Ray to save yourself from chopping)
2 cups vegetable broth (veg. bouillon is helpful here, but don't add salt, b/c it's NOT low sodium)
2 cups bow-tie pasta (I used Barilla Plus - tastes better than whole wheat but still has good NI)
1/4 cup fat free evaporated milk
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tsp fresh lemon juice (I used a pack of True Lemon, my favorite - shelf stable, and tastes VERY fresh)

Spray a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus, zucchini & 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, uncover and cook 1-2 minutes longer until most of the water is gone. Transfer to a bowl and cover. Spray skillet again and add the mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes until they have released their moisture and are golden brown. Transfer to the bowl with the other veggies and cover.

In the same skillet, add 2 tsp EVOO over medium heat, stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds (don't burn!). Add the remaining 2 cups water and broth, then the pasta. Increase heat to high and simmer/boil until pasta is cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the cooked vegetables, milk and peas and cook until the mixture is warmed through. Turn off the heat and add the cheese, basil and lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Note to self...

I gained a bit this week, and my body is pissed:

Jennifer.. it's me.. your body. I have a few reminders for you.

1. Simply because you bake, doesn't mean you HAVE to eat it. A small taste is okay, but a huge piece of coconut cake, ice cream, and 2 lemon cake eggs? NOT acceptable.
I blame YOU for the gain.. the eggs a little bit.. but mostly you.
you're not off the hook, delicious cake eggs.. thanks for being tempting.
2. You know that tracker you so religiously use? It would be nice to do it correctly. Gaining 1lb in a week means that you didn't only go 3 points over your allowance.. it means you're grossly underestimating the nutritional value of what you're eating.

3. And exercise.. have you heard of it? That flabby tummy isn't going anywhere unless you get your butt of the couch.. so how about you do just that?

4. I've noticed you drink a lot. Maybe not an alcoholic.. I mean your liver hasn't started screaming yet.. but watch it. While champagne, and wine, and vodka, and long island iced teas are delicious, they're terrible for you, and you can't drink them with no fatty consequences.

That is all. Let's make better decisions this week, eh?

Friday, April 22, 2011

WOOOHOOO!!! (and april fool's)...

First and foremost.. WW is going really well for me. I'm not limiting myself, still going out and having fun.. and making a lot of good choices. I've lost a total of 7 pounds so far.. plus the tad more I lost when I resumed my blog. I can't wait to get back into the 180's again!!!

I do need to exercise more.. but I was proud of myself for choosing to walk to BART instead of driving when I went to the A's game the other day.. it was a good choice considering I had 3 beers =X

Anyways.. although April is more than halfway done - I made a cute 'April Fool's'  dinner for Kris on the big day. I'm not so good at pulling off pranks (as opposed to my brother who staged a skateboarding accident when he was in high school and scared the crap out of my mom.. it was full-on: fake blood, friend running to get my mom, neighbor 'calling' 911.. mean - but so funny looking back on it).. so I went with something I know how to do - cook!

I made meatloaf 'cupcakes' and banana 'eggrolls':
For the meatloaf, I used my favorite recipe from Cooking Light. It made 8 'cupcakes' and they only took about 20 minutes to bake. The 'frosting' was my standard mashed potatoes: russets with a mixture of almond milk, low-sodium chicken broth, and brummel & brown yogurt butter (if you warm up all the liquids together you tend to use less and they still turn out super creamy - especially if you use a hand mixer). I garnished them with chive 'sprinkles'.. it was fun! when Kris first came home he was like - "why is there a cupcake on my dinner plate??" (even funnier considering he's not a huge fan of sweets).
For dessert, I made banana 'eggrolls'.. not quite as funny, but it's what I had on hand. I quartered and then sliced the banana lengthwise - giving me 8 long pieces of banana. Then I placed them diagonally in square wonton wrappers and sprinkled them with a mixture of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. I folded the edges in and rolled them up like eggrolls - and baked them in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes (or until golden brown). They were yum!

That was my delayed post for the month.. =).. Although Spring Break has gone by way too fast.. I'm looking forward to another week of weight loss progress! Happy Easter everyone!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

catching up...

I had a totally busy/awesome weekend to kick off my spring break. I hung out at Applebee's with Kris and his friends on Friday.. and in an attempt to be a good girl, I ordered a 'skinny' mojito - 90 calories. It was really YUM! But then Kris ordered the sliders and all hell broke loose.. I ate 2.

Saturday I spent making this for my friend Stephanie's son's first birthday!!
It was one in a handful of 'sculpted' cakes I've done.. so I'm still learning - but I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out! Needless to say, it kept me busy this weekend! After a good nights' sleep I had to get my house ready for bunco on Monday night. We just started a group and I was the first to host. I think it turned out really nice.. and keeping with my 'healthified' lifestyle right now, I served all Hungry Girl appetizers. Too bad I didn't take pictures though.. The menu was: Crab Rangoonies, Pigs in a Blanket, Spinach-Artichoke Dip (with pita chips, carrots and celery sticks), and Fruit Kebobs that I put in mini flower pots - cute! Because I had some Easter M&Ms on hand, my friend Lisa made some miniature Cowboy Cookies, which were not 'light', so I stayed away from them. For beverages I made Strawberry Lemonade using Crystal Light lemonade and wild strawberry flavors, with some fresh strawberries in it as well. I put citrus vodka on the side for people to help themselves.. =) It was fun!!

To get back on track today from all the festivities I had the intention of going to the gym to sign up, but got busy cleaning. Instead, I did an on demand video from Crunch fitness called 'Lyrical Hip Hop'. It was SOOO much fun, and when I put 15 minutes of hip-hop dancing into the activity tracker for WW, it gave me 3 points - woot! (It was 25 minutes total but a lot of that was warm up and practicing the moves). Then for dinner I made Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus and Pesto (9 Points + for a BIG serving) from Cooking Light (with some strawberries & grapes on the side):
Instead of just shrimp, I used a "Seafood Blend' from Trader Joe's of shrimp, bay scallops and calamari rings - it was cheaper than shrimp alone and SO good (which, BTW, for 1/4 of the bag is only 2 P+). While boiling the gnocchi I sauteed the seafood blend. You just have to make sure when you're sauteeing it to drain out all the liquid before combining with the gnocchi. I added the gnocchi to the pan and allowed them to brown a bit while I boiled the asparagus. Then I combined it all with the pesto in that same skillet. I also cooked up a couple mini baguettes from TJ's (2P+) for my boyfriend and myself... perfect! My inspiration to make this recipe was my new basil plant.. I get one every spring since it's finally warm enough to keep alive. Only $2.99 from TJ's, and it keeps growing! We'll see how long this one lasts me!

I hope everyone's doing well.. I'm looking forward to a very productive spring break!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

busy busy busy.

i'm so friggin tired.. i just want to shower and go to sleep. but i feel very good about how i've been doing nutrition-wise this week so i thought i'd toot my own horn. i did start weight watchers last week.. so we'll see how successful i've been when i weigh in tomorrow. also, i've been on my feet for 2 days straight in my clinical rotation (10 hours tuesday and 9 hours today).. i'm soooo tired. but i've been wearing my shape-ups (the knock-off ones from payless) to clinicals so my legs are feelin' it more than usual!!

some of my favorite things i've eaten this week...

another awesome tofu recipe from cooking light: "Korean-inspired sauteed tofu" which i served with bok choy, broccoli and brown rice

easy peasy sushi: sliced sashimi-grade salmon with seaweed salad and brown rice. i served this with hungry girl's "Crab Rangoonies" which tastes JUST like the crab wontons from PF Changs!!!

sweet potato (microwaved b/c i'm lazy) with 1tsp brown sugar, 1Tbsp marshmallow creme and a dash of pumpkin pie spice. (3 points plus), and SO good.

and this isn't food.. but it's good - the mocha light frappucino from starbucks. they're SO yum.. and i always get an extra shot of espresso blended in for a boost. and i love that it shows up as a "filling food" for weight watchers.. (a small green triangle usually reserved for lean meats, fruits and vegetables lol).

okay.. off to bed. school has really drained me lately - i can't WAIT for spring break.. 2 more days!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

hi.. it's me. i'm alive.

UGGGGHHH school has been KICKING MY ASS lately! on top of that, I've been mildly depressed about my fat-ness for about a month now. It's like constant low-level depression that makes me feel blue every time I think about how I look. I have issues, I know.

Anywho.. here's what I had for breakfast this morning, and it was FANTASTIC:

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup 'quick cooking' steel-cut oats (because I'm too lazy to stand at the stove and stir the regular ones for an hour.. although they probably taste better)
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 tsp ground flaxseed
1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp vanilla (pure madagascar - not imitation! it makes a difference, I swear!)
1/8 cup pecans, chopped

Make the oats according to package instructions, adding the flaxseed and cinnamon stick to the boiling water with the oats. When they're almost finished cooking (this was about 6 minutes for me), add the blueberries, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir, cover and finish cooking (a couple more minutes). This allows the blueberries to plump up a bit and release some of their flavor into the oats. Spoon into 2 bowls and garnish with pecans.. I really like the crunch they add. YUM! (8 points + value per serving)

It was delicious, and I don't like blueberries all that much. They added a great tart burst and went well with the oats. Also, it kept me full for a LONG time. Gotta love that! Anywho.. I'm tired but I'll update on my weight loss stress soon...