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Crock Pot, Meal Prep, Sheet Pan…Oh My

So my hours at work changed and I am getting home later. This means that it is later when I put together dinner. One of the great things about cooler weather is that I am one step closer to pulling out the crock pot to cook soup and stews for dinner. It also means that I have been looking for meals that would allow me to save time cooking, but are also healthy and yummy too. One of the things I came across was a number of websites that were encouraging the idea of meal prep. The idea is that you get ingredients for several meals, usually 4-6, and cook them one day on the weekend, storing the meals into containers to be frozen to eat later or kept in the fridge to eat that week. Sounds good right? Hmmm, hold that thought.

I found a website that allowed you to sign up for a meal prep challenge. The blogger would put together meals, send out the shopping list of ingredients needed and even include how many containers and what types were needed to store each meal in. Sounds even better, right? It did until I received the email with the list of meals that were to be prepped. There was not one meal that we would eat as listed. Most contained exotic vegetables or seasonings that would be extremely hard to get in my local stores. Or they contained items that were just not something that we would eat (hello brussel sprouts). As someone who only recently discovered the yumminess of roasted sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts are not in my immediate plans.

So to prep meals in advance, I would have to substitute a lot of things, which would mean guessing at the amounts to buy. One of the nice ideas about meal prepping is that you are told how much of each item you need. To replace those meant I would now risk getting to much or too little and the prep would fail. I then came across several blogs where they discuss the idea that meal prep takes nutrients away from the food, so if you are trying to eat healthier like we are, losing nutrients would not be something that we want to do.

I then came across the idea of sheet pan meals. The concept here is that you cook the entire meal at once on a sheet pan from start to finish in 45 minutes or less. Take a protein, such as chicken, and add vegetables. Season or marinade the chicken and roast the vegetables.at the same time. There were even sheet pan ideas for breakfast and dessert. I have several recipes bookmarked and I tried my first sheet pan meal last week and it worked out great. I made Asiago chicken and roasted vegetables at the same time. We added a salad and the whole thing took about 40 minutes from start to finish. Not bad for a week night meal. And of course you can make it as healthy as you want.

Now I just have to figure out what to try next? Any ideas?

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Wishes For This Year

wish-lstI am not one for New Year resolutions. I feel that resolutions are things that I never complete. The intention is there, but they always seem to fall by the wayside and then I feel like a failure. Instead, I have put together my Wishes for the New Year. After all, wishes can come true.

I Wish to Find a Healthier Me

I have tried to adopt a healthier way of eating. This year I want to continue making better choices and maybe reach a point of doing it without having to think about it. Vegetables are still my biggest struggle, so I will continue to try to find ways to prepare them and hopefully they will get easier to eat.

I Wish to Say No to Dunkin

Okay, I love Dunkin Donut’s coffee. The only problem is that it is hard to stop at ordering just a coffee when you are presented with all the delicious donuts that just go so good with the coffee. So, I have decided to stop visiting Dunkin. I will take my coffee from home and just keep on driving. It’s the only way I’m going to do this.

I Wish to Drink Less Coffee and More Tea

It is hard to believe that I didn’t used to like coffee. That changed when my husband would leave for work. He would fill up his thermos and take a travel mug with him, but there was always enough coffee left in the pot for a cup. So I began to drink coffee. Unfortunately, I have never been able to drink coffee without sweetening it and adding yummy, flavored creamers to it. I have decided that I need to find more flavored teas and replace my second or third daily cup of coffee with the teas. So far, I haven’t been doing too bad. I found a tea by Stash called Christmas in Paris and it smells like Andes Candies Mint Chocolate and it tastes good too. It is a special edition for the holidays, but I am going to try other brands and hopefully will find others that I like as well. I don’t have to add all of the added sugar and flavored creamers, so I am saving calories, which is a good thing. And is should be pretty easy to do if I succeed at the one above, stop going to Dunkin :).

I Wish I Can Drink More Lemon Water

I recently read an article where it said that drinking lemon water has many health benefits. The first was that it works to ease inflammation. If it can ease the pain in my joints that I have it will be worth it. It is also supposed to help with digestion and keep you hydrated. More positives in my opinion.

I Wish I Can Find Exercises That Don’t Hurt

Two years ago I fractured my hip. Don’t ask me how. Neither I or the many doctors that I saw could tell me how or why. Some said I could have sneezed or coughed too hard. Another said I could have bumped it several years ago. Regardless of how I did it, the goal is not to do it again. So I have had to limit the way I exercise, which means not doing anything that can cause a break again. I want to find something that allows me to exercise without a big impact on my bones and joints. It is a work in progress.

I Wish to Learn How to Crochet Left-Handed

I have always wanted to learn how to crochet. My mom and grandma tried to teach me, but as they were right-handed and I was left-handed, they always became frustrated that I couldn’t learn from them. I have done simple crocheting in the past, but I want to learn how to do more complex patterns and maybe make something. I found a website that teaches how to crochet left-handed, so I am going to find time to watch and learn. First, I have to see if I still have my crochet hooks and then pick out yarn. I’m looking forward to that.

I Wish I Can Find a New Job

I have decided that it is time to look for another job. I had hopes that things at my current job would get better, but they have not, so it is time to find something else. I want to be happy at work and that is something I am not any longer. I will write about what has happened recently and then I will not write about work until I have something new to tell.

I Wish my Family and Friends Continued Good Health and Happiness

Stuffy, Tissues and Soup

So I caught a winter cold from work. One person has been sick going on three weeks. I am entering week two and my husband is still in week one. It is mainly a sinus and head cold. Not much coughing or sneezing. Just stuffed up and not sleeping well. At first I thought it was just due to the fact that we had been outside the day before raking and bagging the leaves. While I love looking at leaves, I tend to get stuffy when I actually play with them, so I hoped that it was just too much time outside, but I wasn’t so lucky. By the next morning, I felt horrible.

mrs_grass_noodle_soup_mix_smBefore I made him sick, my husband asked what I wanted and I said I wanted Mrs. Grass chicken soup. It was what we were given whenever we were sick growing up and I even now I always want a bowl when I’m sick. There is nothing quite like being curled up on the couch in your pajamas with a warm blanket and a mug of Mrs. Grass’ soup. Unfortunately we didn’t have any in the pantry so my wonderful husband went to three stores until he found it. 🙂

He started to make it and I told him to make sure the golden nugget was dissolved all the way. He said there wasn’t a golden nugget. I thought he was joking. Mrs. Grass is all about the golden nugget. It’s what makes the soup taste so yummy good. And makes you feel better. He brought me the box and showed me there wasn’t a golden nugget anymore. The picture above shows the golden nugget, but my new box didn’t have it. I immediately Googled it and learned the company got rid of the golden nugget earlier this year. What the h#%l were they thinking??? Put the golden nugget back…..really. I’m sick and now this.

Of course the company wants you to know that it tastes the same. That might be a good way to spin it, but it didn’t taste the same. It just tasted like box soup. Not yummy. 😦 And I am sure that is why my cold has lingered. The little golden nugget would have made me all better by now.

Are You Still Using Your Fitness Tracker?

Last year it seemed like everyone I know had some sort of fitness tracker attached to their wrist. At work, it started with one of our overly fit co-workers and quickly spread throughout the office. For me, I will never be able to run or exercise like I used to when I was younger. My job is one that I am sitting behind a desk for most of the day which is not a good thing. Everything I read said that you should get up and walk every hour, which I do, but I wanted to know how many steps I take at work. I also wanted to track my daily food, so I joined the tracker wagon and began tracking.

At first, I think you are successful because you are conscious of this thing on your wrist. My tracker has a feature where it beeps at you if you have been sitting too long and a red bar appears, increasing every 15 minutes until it is solid. To get it to go away, you have to walk a certain number of steps, so it sort of motivates you to move. The tracker was also supposed to sync up with my food tracker app. The more steps I took, the more calories I burned, so they were supposed to transfer over to my food tracker. I would enter or scan the food that I ate and it would send those results to my fitness tracker. The idea was good and it worked. Or I should say it mostly worked. I noticed that my fitness tracker would always add one more step and my calories would be one less than what was on my food tracker. Okay, I could live with being 1 step and 1 calorie off.

What happened next was harder to live with. In December, I noticed that my fitness and food trackers were no longer syncing. While some steps were sent to my food tracker, it was usually way off, sometimes by more than 1000 steps. In addition, none of my food calories transferred to my fitness tracker, so it always shows me as not having eaten at all. I tried everything to get them to sync again and nothing worked. The only way to enter the data was to do so manually, which took away the ease of automatic syncing. Troubleshooting online showed me that the problem seemed to be happening to people with every type of fitness tracker, not just mine. It also appeared to have happened after an update with the software for the food tracker. Some tried to blame the phone, but it didn’t matter if you had an Android or iPhone or any other type of phone. It also didn’t work when I tried to sync it from my computer, which told me that there was a bigger issue going on. I later read that my food tracker had launched a fitness tracker. So I think I found the bigger issue. What better way to get people to buy your tracker than convincing them there is something wrong with their current one?

So, the question for me was what was more important, tracking my steps or tracking my food. And since I will never be the athlete that needs to monitor every aspect of their body for maximum athletic knowledge…makes me laugh just typing that…I have decided that I will track my food. So I have taken off my fitness tracker and put it away. If I want to count steps again, I will go back to the old-fashioned pedometer. After all, my hi-tech one didn’t track when I waved my hand, which I noticed happened with my other one. And since I tend to speak with my hands a lot, my total steps for the day were increased from that alone, so I really wasn’t getting an accurate count anyway. I noticed that a few of my co-workers have stopped wearing their trackers as well. They all have a variety of reasons as to why, but the one thing I’ve observed is that we are all still trying to get fit. It just doesn’t seem as if the tracker is the right thing to help us along the way.

Bring Your Own Lunch

LunchOnce a month we have a mandatory staff meeting that takes place during lunch because that is when it will have the least impact on patient care. It is for all staff, but usually there are people who will pretend they didn’t know it was happening and miss it. During the meeting we celebrate those with birthdays for the month and if no one has a birthday, which happened this month, there is still cake. In the early days, we would have a potluck with everyone who wanted to take part bringing something to contribute to the lunch. Gradually, people started to get tired of having to lug a huge crock pot filled with food all the way from the employee parking lot, so the potlucks sort of dwindled down to very few people bringing a dish and the majority of us bringing our own lunch to the meeting.

This past week we had the February all staff meeting and the discussion the week prior was that the manager would order a sub sandwich platter from a local shop that delivered and staff would bring their own sides, chips, veggies, pasta salad, etc. I am trying to eat better, so I avoid the offerings at the luncheons and bring something for myself. It’s safer that way. So when we arrived at the meeting there were 10 large pizzas for 20 people. Two are allergic to gluten and others are eating healthy, so that made 10 pizzas for about 12 people. Needless to say we had lots of leftovers and a boss that didn’t understand why her staff didn’t eat the pizza. Of course, as usual, it had to be discussed endlessly even if you had no desire to do so. The following is my interrogation (or conversation) as I was leaving for the day:

Boss: “You didn’t eat any pizza at the meeting.”
Me: “No, I didn’t.”
Boss: “Why not? You’re Italian.”
Me: “Well, fifty percent of me is.”
Boss: “So why didn’t you eat pizza?”
Me: “I’m trying to eat healthier.”
Boss; “Who isn’t?”
Me: “The people who did eat the pizza.”
Boss: “So why didn’t you eat any?”
Me: “I like thin crust pizza.”
Boss: “The pizza had thin crust.”
Me: “The crust was two inches thick. It wasn’t thin crust.”
Boss: “There was vegetarian pizza. That’s healthy.”
Me: “My Italian grandma never put broccoli or jalapeno on a pizza.”
Boss: “There was cheese pizza.”
Me: “That’s a bread stick. Not pizza.”
Boss: “I expected everyone to eat the pizza. Well, except for the two that are allergic to gluten. They didn’t even eat the salads I ordered special for them.”
Me: “That’s because they weren’t gluten free.”
Boss: “It was a salad with chicken.”
Me: “It had croutons and shredded cheese. Both have gluten. I don’t think they wanted to get sick.”
Boss: “Do they even make gluten-free salads?”
Me: “The cafeteria does. You just have to order it.”
Boss: “I still don’t understand why the pizza wasn’t a hit.”
Me: “Maybe next time you can order a tray of subs from the sub shop.”
Boss: “I’ll try to remember that for next month.”

And that’s why I’ll continue to bring my own lunch to those meetings.

 

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