A few weeks ago I was watching Julie & Julia. It should come as no surprise that I really enjoy that movie. Anyways, in the beginning when Julie is discussing potential blog topics with her husband they are eating bruschetta for dinner. That sparked my interest. Carver and I really enjoy simple finger foods that require little prep and equal effort cleaning up. That lead us to shrimp bruschetta, made entirely from ingredients hanging around the house. The bread was the leftovers from that week’s homemade loaf- no knead whole wheat. I always have a bag of frozen shrimp on hand. I buy the ones Trader Joes carries because they don’t have any additives and they are a good size. The other ingredients: olive oil, canned diced tomatoes, shallots, dried basil and thyme.
In a large sauté pan I cooked up the shallots in oil and salt & pepper until translucent. Then I added in a 14.5 ounce can of tomatoes, a pinch each of basil and thyme. I let the tomatoes simmer for about 15 minutes. Then I added in the shrimp which I had defrosted and cut in to 1 1/2″ pieces. Once the shrimp hit the sauce you will cook for about 5-7 minutes over medium heat. You want pink shrimp, tender but not rubbery. While the sauce simmered away Carver browned up the bread in a bit of butter on each side until golden and crisp. Then all you do is assemble. Easy, fun and balanced.
Friday again. Very strange week. I enjoy not having to commute in snow storms, and having time to get ahead on reading and assignments but I have had enough snow days for the semester. I have waited years to take these classes and now Mother Nature is messing with my learning. As I look at the 10 day forecast and it’s THREE pending storms, I would just like to say… ENOUGH already. Please give me a break.
Last thing to do is adjust my weekend project/errand list and do some more reading. I am slowly hacking away at Omnivore’s Dilemma. It is an interesting book, but I find I can’t read more than 30 pages at a time- possibly because I’m reading at the end of my day when sleep is beckoning… I will get there – I must!
I am trying to put of going to the grocery store as long as possible so I have been digging deep in my freezer and cabinets to use forgotten items. Tonight’s dinner was some frozen Mexican vegetable soup with added corn, avocado and shrimp. Very nice dinner for a cold night. The soup is thick and filling and super tasty. Also, I freeze half of it in bags (label before filling and lay flat in the freezer once full- this makes defrosting MUCH easier) and it lasts about 3-4 months. I froze the vegetarian portion and then just added in extra protein before serving. I think this gives you more flexibility.
Mexican-Inspired Vegetable Soup (Adapted from WW)
Dice 2 small zucchini, 1 medium Spanish onion, 1 medium green pepper, 2 medium jalapeno. Place green beans,3 garlic cloves minced, zucchini, 14oz diced tomatoes, onion, green pepper, jalapeño, 1t oregano, 1/2t cumin and 2 1/2c vegetable broth (low sodium) into a large soup pot. Puree 1/4c roasted peppers with 1T chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in a blender or food processor; stir into soup with 1 can black beans– rinsed. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low, and simmer, partly covered, for about 15 minutes. Stir in 1c frozen corn kernels and 10 medium shrimp cut in half. Let cook 2-3 minutes longer, until shrimp is opaque and cooked through. Stir in 1/2c cilantro– chopped, 2T lime juice and 3/4t salt. Serve. Yields about 1 cup per serving.Points Plus: 3
I served this with 1/4 of a medium avocado, 1oz tortilla chips and 1T shredded cheese – Additional Points Plus value: 6
Toast 1 whole wheat english muffin to desired crispness. Scramble one large egg and cook in 1t vegetable oil over medium-high heat until cooked through but moist. Place egg on english muffin, top with 1T shredded cheese (reduced fat), 1/3c spinach and a dash of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Serves 1. Points Plus: 5
Dice 1/2 medium red onion, 1/2 medium cucumber, and quarter 16 cherry tomatoes. Combine vegetables in a serving bowl with salt, pepper and 2t olive oil. Add in 1/2c rinsed garbanzo beans. Stir to combine. Serves 2. Points Plus: 2.
I served this with impromptu flat bread. I cooked 1/2 whole wheat pizza dough (from the store) at 375 for 15 minutes. I topped the ‘flat bread’ with 1t olive oil and salt/pepper. Serves 2. Points Plus: 3
Penne with Roasted Shrimp and Vegetables
Chop 1/3c mushrooms, 1 crown of broccoli, 6 cherry tomatoes into bite size pieces.Devein 10 medium shrimp. I keep the shell on because I find the shrimp stay more succulent this way. Roast veggies and shrimp in the oven with 2t olive oil, 1t salt, 1/2t pepper for 12-16 minutes at 400. Cook 3oz whole wheat pasta as directed on box, then drain reserving 3T cooking water. Combine drained pasta with 1T goat cheese and 1/4c shredded mozzarella cheese in a serving bowl. Mix cheese with pasta until melted, add water slowly if needed. Mix in shrimp and veggies. Toss to coat. Serves: 2. Points Plus: 8
How is it two whole days can pass by so fast? I am amazed… both at how quickly the time passed and at how productive I was. I completed 90% of my reading for the upcoming week, transferred over notes from 2 lectures, answered several emails, made some soup (potato leek), cookies (chocolate chip) and a delish surf and turf dinner. Recipes/photos to follow.
With the first full week of classes ahead I wanted to be sure and remind myself of the basics. I know when I get stressed these are what go out the window. For me the basics are eating well, sleeping, exercising and staying on top of projects (work/school/personal). It is inevitable that certain items take priority from time to time, but I want to have a sense of balance and not feel like I am shifting from one issue to another. One piece is the ‘Good Health Guidelines’ per Weight Watchers, for my specific needs. These items are pretty standard, agreed upon norms in the nutrition world. The other piece is a personal note- getting myself into a morning and evening routine that is productive. I don’t ever remember a time when I had a morning/evening routine – maybe when I was a kid… but again not that I remember. I feel these are the times of day that set the tone and I want to be at my best.
So here are my ‘guidelines’
Good Health Guidelines (Daily)
- Fruits & Veggies: 5 servings
- Lean Protein: 1-2 servings
- Non/Low- Fat Dairy: 2 servings
- Whole grains: whenever possible
- Liquids: 6 cups
- Healthy Oils: 2 teaspoons (pp:2)
- Multivitamin: 1
- Be Active: 30 minutes
- Watch Sodium & Sugar – don’t worry about a specific amount
I am going to check in each day about my progress with these items and hopefully build a lasting routine of it. I will include a photo of my planner of the next day and then in the evening I will rank my day and show how many of my guidelines I met.
Planner for 1/24
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast 2c old-fashioned rolled oats, 1 1/2 cup nuts (I used almonds and soy nuts), 1/2c wheat germ and 5T coconut for 15 minutes – stirring every 5 minutes to ensure equal browning. In the meantime, combine1/2c honey, 2T brown sugar, 1oz butter, 2t vanilla extract and 1/2 t salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved. Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Immediately add the oat mixture to the liquid mixture, add 6 1/2 oz dried fruit (I used dates and cranberries) and 1/2c chocolate chips, and stir to combine. Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week. Serves 16. Points Plus: 6.
** I often have problems with granola bar recipes because they don’t stay as bars. I end up getting half of them to stay in the desired shape, the other half of the batch will become granola clusters. In that case I just use 1/4c as a serving size.
Leek and Potato Soup
Chop 3c leeks (cleaned), 3c baking potatoes (cleaned). Combine chopped vegetables with 3c chicken broth and 3c water and 1 1/2t salt– bring to a boil in a 3-qt sauce pan. Cover partially and simmer 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Correct Seasoning. Serve as is, or puree. Top each portion with 1T ff sour cream if desired. Serves 6. Points Plus: 2
Surf & Turf Dinner
Roast 4oz shellfish with 2t olive oil, 1/2t salt, 1/4t pepper for 8 minutes at 375 – Shrimp should be pink and opaque. Broil one 8oz flank steak topped with 2t olive oil, 1/2t salt, 1/4t pepper for 10-12 minutes for medium rare. Serve with 1 large sweet potato (baked) or two small,1 serving packaged salad with oil and vinegar dressing. Serves 2. Points Plus: 8