It’s What’s For Dinner

Things are, surprisingly, still going pretty well workout-wise. Yesterday was a little bit rough for me, as I had a hard time falling asleep, and that grogginess wasn’t exactly motivating in terms of being active, but! You should be proud of me, because I did it anyway. See? That new leaf of mine is already halfway turned over.

As previously discussed, though, health, fitness, and especially weight loss is a two-part operation. And the what-you-eat part is, at this point, inarguably the more important part when it comes to actively trying to slim down. So I’ve been trying to be very mindful of what I’m eating, choosing deliciousness and whole foods as much as I can.

Even though my job brings me to the farthest and most delicious regions of Northern Virginia, you guys know I love to get down in the kitchen too. And even though I have no intention of stopping eating out altogether, we all know it’s easier to keep track of what you’re chowing down on when you make it yourself. So I’ve been cooking up some delicious at-home healthy meals & snacks lately, and I figured I’d share ’em with you!

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Clockwise from top left: jambalaya with sausage & chicken, roasted brussels sprouts, and salad; my beef stew with dried plums over rice; homemade Chipotle night; plain popcorn seasoned with Flavorgod pizza seasoning

Brown sugar & soy marinated salmon, snap peas sautèed in coconut oil, and coconut rice.

All of the above noms were delicious, but the real star of this week’s meals was this salmon dinner. Super easy, super flavorful, super delicious, and nutritious — even the rice got a nutritional facelift by adding some healthy fats in the form of coconut milk!

Brown sugar & soy is my absolute favorite way to marinate salmon, and while I don’t have a super precise recipe figured out (I’m a big fan of wingin’ it in the kitchen), I thought some of you might be interested in recreating this plate of raving deliciousness at home!

Brown Sugar & Soy Salmon

Ingredients:

2 boneless skinless salmon filets
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
~1/4 cup water (enough to make the marinade cover the salmon)

1. Combine the soy sauce, water, and brown sugar, and whisk until sugar is as dissolved as possible. Place salmon filets in the marinade and let sit for at least 15 minutes. Place in refrigerator if marinating for longer.

2. Heat a pan to medium-high heat with a bit of oil/nonstick spray and cook the filet for about 3 minutes on the first side and another 2 on the other (or slightly longer, depending on thickness). Enjoy!

Stir-fried Snap Peas

Ingredients:

1 package sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1. Heat oil in a pan to medium-high heat.

2. Cook snap peas, moving constantly in the pan. Add soy sauce, and continue stir-frying for another 5-7 minutes, or until desired doneness.

Coconut Rice

Ingredients:

1.5 cups white rice
1 can coconut milk
1.5 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
Pinch of salt

1. Combine ingredients in a rice cooker. Or, you know, if you make your rice on the stove, combine in a pot and do it that way, haha.
2. Cook. Eat. Enjoy!

And there you go! The ratios probably aren’t exact, but put all these ingredients together and you’re bound to come up with something delicious!

Any tantalizing recipes you’ve been whipping up lately? I’d love to hear about ’em!

Roasted Garlic Kale Chips

Oh you guys. You really know how to lift a gal’s spirits. I’m doing my very best not to let yesterday’s weigh-in continue to get me down. So I’m taking a few steps backwards and reverting to the denial stage of my weight gain grieving. Must be water weight, right? 😉

Crisp

I figured that there was no better time to get back on the health horse than with a new recipe to satisfy an old craving. Snacking has always been my downfall. As you guys are probably well aware by now, bad day therapy for the Gretchen of Old included salt, oil, and carrrrbs. Chips, pretzels, fries, Triscuits, Cheez-its… if I had it around, I would eat it. I could demolish an entire canister of Pringles without a second thought (after all, once you pop, you just can’t stop!).

Kale

So I decided to once again try my hand at a tried-and-true bloggers’ favorite: kale chips!

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Roasted garlic kale chips, to be precise.

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Well, my fakey version of roasted garlic that is. It might not be oven-roasted, but you kill two birds with one stone this way: you’re not only left with the garlic, but the garlic-infused olive oil too!

Lettuce begin!

I got a huge head (?) of kale at the farmer’s market this past weekend, and couldn’t wait to bust into it. The picture above is of less than half of what I got!

Laid out

This “recipe” (if you can really call it that, seeing as it has 3 ingredients, haha) churned out more kale chips than I knew what to do with. So instead of taking the time to actually figure out how to properly store (refrigerator? Tupperware on counter?) the extras, I just ate it. All of it. Duh.

Pre-baked

Roasted Garlic Kale Chips
Print this recipe!

So easy, and SO simple, these robustly flavored “chips” taste are salty and crisp, but have less than a tablespoon of olive oil for the entire batch!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 – 8 cloves garlic
4 cups torn kale leaves, rinsed and dried
Kosher salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a small, shallow pan to medium-low heat.

1. Add garlic cloves to oil. Simmer cloves on low until they are soft and translucent, at least 15 minutes.

2. Remove garlic from oil and smash (with mortar & pestle if available, otherwise with the back of a wooden spoon like I did.) Then add 1 tablespoon of the garlic-infused oil and mix. Save the rest of the garlic-infused oil in a container for later use.

3. In a large bowl, coat the kale leaves with the garlic & oil mixture (use your hands!) Ensure that each leaf is lightly but thoroughly covered, adding more oil if necessary. Lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet (it may take 2 – 3 baking sheets or batches), and bake for 5 – 8 minutes, checking frequently as they go from perfect to burnt very quickly.

4. Sprinkle a little salt, let cool, and enjoy!

Kale Chips

Bring it on, snack attacks!

These nutrition stats are if you ate the entire thing yourself (er, not that I know anyone who would do that, of course…) FOUR CUPS OF KALE, and less than 300 calories. Of course, this recipe doesn’t yield four full cups of kale CHIPS due to the whole dehydration-shrinkage thing (hehe… “shrinkage“) but still. I know the fat content is on the high side from the olive oil, but again, most normal people probably know how to share. Keke.

I know I ask variations of this question all the time, but what can I say? I only have so much originality in me. Do you have a particular go-to healthy snack substitution? Kale chips aren’t quite as convenient as my beloved Popchips, but I know every single thing that’s in ’em which is pretty neat. And they’re still crisp and, of course, delicious, so they definitely hit the spot!

PS: I’ve made a few changes to the sidebar! I’ve changed up the picture at the top, and created buttons for my Amazon store and T-shirt shop. Let me know what you think!

Ocean (City) Bound

Bags are packed.

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Beach gear is ready.

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Coolers are stuffed to the brim with healthy goodness.

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Some more creatively packed than others.

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(Those are eggs, btw.)

Some tragedies have already occurred.

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But it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be fixed with some repackaging!

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(I had to eat some to make it fit in the container, of course!)

Now let’s just hope the brother remembers to water my plants, and, y’know, feed the dogs…

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… and I’ll see YOU on Tuesday (much tanner, I hope!)

Thanks for all your awesome tips for staying healthy at the beach! You should be proud to know that I have packed not one, but two water containers (a reusable cup w/lid plus a standard ol’ bottle) and should hopefully come back to a successful weigh-in on Tuesday. Cross your fingers for me, and have a fantastic weekend!

Breakfast with a FT Job

I don’t know if you had a chance to see my daily eats post from yesterday yet, but let me tell you. I had the most EPIC at-work breakfast ever, and I wanted to tell you aaaaaall about it. I don’t know why I haven’t done a post on prepping breakfast at work yet! As I’ve mentioned before, eating breakfast every day has been so, so essential for my diet and weight loss. But with a fulltime job, especially one like mine that starts bright and early at 7 AM each day, getting in a nutritious first meal can be challenging. Pop-tarts just don’t cut it anymore, I’m afraid!

Behold!

Your Ingredients:

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Your Equipment:

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Your Instructions:

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Bring a tupperware container or microvewave-safe bowl with you, and crack your eggs into it (look, it’s smiling!) Season them with salt & pepper (or if you have an entire spice rack at work, feel free to go nuts! Haha) and whisk it all together with a super classy plastic fork.

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Pop your eggs into the microwave for 1 minute. If you peer into the microwave during this time, it will look like your eggs are ballooning up and you will fear they will explode. Do not worry. They will not explode. When the minute is over, they will look like this:

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Tip: if it’s possible to spray your egg container with nonstick spray, do it. It’s not a necessity, but just be aware that if you don’t then some egg is likely to stick to the sides of the bowl. Not a big deal, just soak the container right after you remove the patty from it. Also, it’s generally a good idea to get the patty out right away, as the colder it gets the more likely it is to stick.

Anyway, instead of radiating your eyeballs by peering into the microwave while your egg patty cooked, you should have been toasting your sandwich thin, english muffin, bagel, or whatever and slicing up your tomato with an equally classy plastic knife.

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BREAKFASTWICH, ASSEMBLE!

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I used 1 tbsp of smoked salmon spread, but you could use anything. A laughing cow cheese wedge, cream cheese, butter – it’s your choice! Seriously, creating this very filling, highly satisfying breakfast takes 5 minutes. Of course, if you don’t have a microwave in your office, you’re probably hating me right now, but you could also prepare your egg patty at home and just assemble your sandwich at work instead. I’ve definitely done that a few times before realizing I could do it all without running (quite as) late. Hahaha.

So quick recap of the rest of my day yesterday:

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I hit up Whole Foods to pick up a few things. Proving yet again that I really need to get into couponing, I walked out with the following:

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Fage 2% Plain Greek Yogurt (the medium tubs of Fage are on sale for $2.99!)
Pineapple
Tzatziki Sauce (I have plans for this…!)
Pesto

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2 organic avocados
2 bags frozen fruit (tropical medley! Ole!)
Pre-cut veggies for grillin’
Organic red grapes
Mushrooms

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Yellow mustard
Almond Breeze (original flavor)
2 cans tuna
1 can salmon

While there, I also blew $4 on my very first Kombucha.

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Have you heard of this? It’s a “living foods” drink that is made with some kind of like fermented mushroom thing. It sounds super weird, and it is, but it’s supposed to have all kinds of health bennies (that’s “benefits” for the abbreviation-resistant of you) like aiding digestion (which I need!), and… you know, other stuff. I’m still learning all about it, obviously, considering this was my first one! Verdict? It was… interesting. It smells kind of like wine. Which makes sense, since it’s fermented. And while it doesn’t taste bad, per se, it’s definitely something I’ll have to get used to. I liked that it effervesces though (and does it naturally!) Drinks are so much more fun when they’re bubbly.

Since Whole Foods is located in the same shopping center as the pet store I go to, Wylie Wagg, I also stopped in for some necessities for these tykes:

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Namely, dog food, since I literally fed them the last piece of kibble from the container that morning. Cutting it a little close!

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Not that anybody cares to know this, but I feed the dogs California Natural Herring & Sweet Potato dog food, and sometimes I mix in some Merrick wet dog food as well. I did a lot of research on dog food nutrition when I got Daxter, since managing Harry’s nailbed condition means really upping the ante in terms of his diet, and I heartily recommend both of these brands.

Clearly, they’re fans too:

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Speaking of Harry’s condition, actually… remember last week when I had the joyous experience of rushing Daxter to the emergency vet when he had a bad reaction to his vaccinations? Well, the fun just never stops in this household. Harry has what is called symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy (try saying that ten times fast!), and it seems to have reared his ugly head again. See how in the background of the first picture of them above, he is holding his foot up? Here’s a better look:

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My poor babyyyyy! He’s my adorable little cripple right now, refusing to put any weight on his little tootsie. Harry’s rare condition, when it flares up, causes his nails to crack down the underside and literally separate from his nailbeds. It’s like his body is rejecting his own nails. Needless to say it’s very painful, and it took 4 separate vet visits (2 regular, 2 emergency) and a crapton of money before it was even diagnosed. There isn’t really a cure, but it’s usually manageable with a diet that is high in Omega fatty acids, through food or supplements, or both. Hence the herring-flavored dog food, haha.

Okie dokie. I think I’ve taken up enough of your Friday morning. Let’s end this on, if not a happy note, at least an interesting question. Have you ever tried Kombucha? What health benefits have you experienced? I think this is going to be one of those things that I desperately want to like, so we’ll have to see if that actually ends up happening, haha.

PS – Crammed my 20 minutes o’ exercise in at the last minute last night: a hail mary set of crunches, lady-pushups (on knees), yoga poses, stretching, and a few pathetic plank attempts. All set to the beautiful beep of my stopwatch. 😉