Pretty groceries…

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We bought groceries at the Co-op again today.  The are a few of the convenience items that we can’t buy there (like Campbell’s soups and frozen dinners) but over all, I think we’re adjusting well!!

Aileen: I took a picture of cheese for you 😛

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Anti Inflammatory Diet??

A lot of why I haven’t been posting here is because there hasn’t been much fitness to speak of.  On June 26th, 2012, I finally sought medical advice for my back.  Here on July 9, 2013, I’m still in pain daily.

Originally, we thought it was a Rhomboid Strain and my Primary Care Physician referred me to a physical therapist.  The physical therapist determined that it was not, in fact, a rhomboid strain, but to do with the alignment of my hips.  I followed the physical therapy for a couple of months, and my hips didn’t click anymore, but my back still hurt.  I sought another option.

When I went to the Chiropractor, we found a series of issues with my back that are actually there–the alignment was off, there’s the start of arthritis due to the misalignment, etc. We’ve been working hard since January to bring everything in line and I really

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Dr. Pennebaker, doing an adjustment with the Gonstead Method [click to learn more]
believe it’s helping.  My back still hurts every morning, though.  We were getting a lot better, making a lot of good progress, and then we experienced a really bad setback.

When Jeff and I got back from the Canadian reception, I had a few really rough mornings.  I thought it was just because the bed wasn’t supportive enough, or maybe the long ride in the car… But no, this felt like I was being squeezed–like my ribs were being pushed out of place.  It hurt to breathe, hurt to move, hurt to laugh–should I care to, hurt to yawn, hurt to sneeze, cough, or hiccup.  When I talked to my dad about it, he said “Oh, that’s just a pulled muscle–you’ll feel better in about a week.”

It’s been over a week and I’m still waking up in pain.  My Chiropractor gave me a sort of “ah-ha” moment when he observed that it was swelling and inflammation causing the pain. The word “inflammation,” hung in my head repeating itself like a fading memory.  Until all of a sudden, the light at the end of a tunnel turned out to be a train.  What if my DIET is causing me all of this stress and drama with my back!?

It makes sense!  I eat a Western diet high in processed carbs and lots of sugars. Last Friday, by happenstance, I didn’t eat much in the way of sugar or refined carbs.  On Saturday, as if by a miracle, I had no back pain.  Yesterday, I had cereal for dinner, chex mix for a snack, a wrap for lunch, and a breakfast sandwich for breakfast.  My back is killing me today.

So now, the problem that I’m faced with is “how do I convert my eating habits to the anti-inflammatory diet?”

I don’t know 😦

The sites I’ve looked at say

Foods to Steer Clear of—Here’s what you’ll want to wean yourself off of in order to reduce the inflammation in your body: wheat, dairy, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, sugar, citrus fruits (except for lemons and limes), pork, commercial non-organic eggs, shellfish, peanuts and peanut butter, coffee, alcohol, juice, caffeinated teas, soda, anything containing hydrogenated oils, processed foods, and fried foods. – http://primaldocs.com/opinion/how-to-transition-to-an-anti-inflammatory-diet/

I keep seeing conflicting information, though.  One site says pineapple is to be avoided as it’s a tropical fruit.  Another says pineapple will decrease inflammation.  One says nightshades and tomatoes are bad.  Another doesn’t mention them at all.

I’m so terribly lost.  I’ve cast out the line to the Weight Loss Warriors to ask if they have any experience with this sort of conversion.  I read that high quality yogurts and cheeses can be eaten in moderation, so maybe I can use that to my advantage when subbing foods?

Here’s our dinner menu for the week… If anyone has any ideas on how to convert it to an anti-inflammation version, I’d appreciate the help:

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Super-easy short-cut for WW Grilled Fish with Mango Salsa

Ha!

So, WW is super diligent about watching out for copyright infringement, so I can’t post the whole recipe or directions here, but in the book I bought there’s a recipe for Grilled Fish with Mango Salsa.  There are 6 ingredients and the prep time is probably around 15-20 minutes.  I wasn’t in the mood to de-vein jalapeños or deal with slimy mangoes (especially in winter?) so I cheated a little bit.  Here’s the condensed version of WW Grilled Fish with Mango Salsa:

Ingredients:

1- bowl of fruit salsa from your local deli
2- fillets of cod (skin removed)
little bit of lemon juice, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:
Unwrap fish from the paper it comes in, place in a skillet over medium heat.  Drizzle with a little bit of lemon, salt, and pepper.  Depending on the thickness of your fillet, it’ll be ready to flip around 3-5 minutes.  Apply the same techniques to this side – lemon, salt, pepper as desired.  This will be done in about 3-5 minutes as well.  The fish will be done when it can be flaked with a fork and is no longer translucent.  Don’t over-cook the fish or it’ll get rubbery.

Top with spoonfuls of the prepared salsa and enjoy 🙂

Total time – 10 minutes.

Fish with Mango Salsa

K.I.S.S. – having a meal plan

When it comes to dinner, sometimes my good intentions go right out the window.  It’s been a long day of doing [x, where x=working, cleaning, or doing nothing] and when it comes to dinner time, even if there’s a “plan” in place, the excuse of “I don’t feeeeeeeeeeeeeel like cooking! *huff/stomp/pout*” comes out.

In this moment, it seems like it would be easier to just pick up the phone or go online and place an order for some sort of sustenance to fill the hungry hole. But what does that sort of decision cost in the way of time and money? And is it REALLY worth the effort?  Let’s break it down:

Our top three options for ‘I dont wanna’ usually include Domino’s, Jimmy John’s, or Wendy’s.

Domino’s: 
1 – Large Specialty Pizza, + taxes and delivery, +tip ~$25.00
1 – Side order of parmesan bread bites because we just can’t resist ~ $3
Total: ~$28.00, 30 minutes of waiting, 10 minutes of eating, hours of guilt for spending money we didn’t need to, eating bread bites we didn’t need to, and loading up on greasy cheesy pizza that is essentially nutritionally void. Worth it?

Jimmy John’s: 
2 – Bootleggers, + taxes and delivery, + tip ~$14.00
2 – side order of chips because they’re too good to resist, ~$3.00
2 – side order, giant chocolate chunk cookie, ~$4.00
Total: ~$21.00, 10 minutes of waiting, 10 minutes of eating, up to an hour of guilt for spending money we didn’t need to, eating almost 400 calories worth of mayo because I always forget to tell them to leave it off, upset stomach due to the kettle chips and the chocolate chunk–and why? Because we didn’t feel like cooking. Worth it?

Wendy’s
2 – Asiago Chicken Ranch Clubs
1 – 1/4 lb. Classic
1 – side of chili
2 – Softdrinks (small)
Total: ~$15-20, depending on prices and variables in choices; prices are not published online. Wendy’s doesn’t deliver, but they’re up the road from us, less than a mile so we take the time to go down to the car and drive there (yep. you read that correctly), go through the drive-through, and then drive home because we don’t feel like cooking. But we feel like getting dressed, putting shoes on, waiting in line, paying money for food that (again) is nutritionally void, going back home and disposing of all the trash.  Worth it?

See?  When you really take a look at how ‘convenient’ convenience food really isn’t it becomes easier to make meals at home.  One of our new discoveries is from Campbell’s and it’s called ‘Skillet sauces‘ – you just add chicken (or beef, or shrimp) and serve over pasta or rice.  So, the box of rice is a couple bucks and it lasts us a couple months.  This is the first one that we tried, but, we were pretty impressed with it. The skillet sauce packets likely goes on sale, so if you get a chance, you could stash them in the cupboard for days when you just don’t feel like it.

Last night, we were tired and unmotivated and having one of those ‘don’t feel like it’ moments.  I felt the urge rising to call for pizza, but, my new year’s resolutions are to lose weight, save money, and get better at my job.  Well, heyo!  Ordering in goes against two of those objectives.  Keep it simple, stupid–cook at home!  Save time, save money, control portions and nutrition.

I defrosted chicken in the microwave while setting a pot on the stove to boil water for the rice.  I measured the rice and sliced up a cucumber while those two finished.  While the rice started cooking, I sliced up the chicken and browned it in the skillet.  Add the toasted sesame ginger sauce on top and heat through–voila, meal is done.  We went from frozen chicken and two packets of ingredients to a nutritionally sound meal in approximately 20 minutes for a cost less than $3/person.

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When making your new year’s resolutions, flesh them out a bit.  How does having a meal plan or back-up plan take my KISS goal and make it a SMART goal?

S – Specific – I want to save at least $100/month for the next year.

M – Measurable – I saved (by not spending) net $17.00 by not ordering in.

A – Attainable – If I can continue to make decisions to eat at home like this, I can definitely save over $100/month.  This would include brown-bagging it for lunches and eating breakfast at home, too.

R – Relevant – Preparing and eating food from home, let’s say 4/5 work days, is relevant and applicable to my goals to save money, lose weight (remember I can control portion and nutrition), AND to become better at my job – when I stop to pick something up on the way to work, I usually scoot in a few minutes late.  Being punctual will improve my perception at work, and, perceptions are realities.

T – Time-bound – The time is weekly, adding up to monthly, adding up to the entire year of 2013.

What are some other ideas that you have for quick back-up plans for when you don’t feel like cooking?  Crock-pots are always good because you can just toss in a few ingredients and it does its thing while you do yours.  What else?

Menu Monday: Saffron

The cool thing about seeking counseling is that it doesn’t make you weird.  To prove it, I’m going to write a very NORMAL entry.  Well, aside from Saffron… a spice that is valued in tiny quantities, but dangerous in abundance.  This week, Jeff and I expanded our spicy horizons to include threads of Saffron.  We’ve been talking a lot about things that make us happy, things we enjoy doing as a couple.  One of the things that we really enjoy (time permitting) is cooking together.  While making the menu this weekend, I came across a recipe for “Spanish Chickpea, Tomato, and Kale Stew.”  Interesting.. I thought..

  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads

Oop.. this recipe is out.. Saffron.  Who just has saffron sitting around in their pantry? *scoff*

  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)Wonder how much saffron costs.. I’ve got most of the rest of these ingredients.. 
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh oregano
    I’ve got dried..I’m sure that’ll do.. 
  • 1 tbsp smoked or regular paprika
  • 4 cups chopped fresh kale
    HUZZAH! Finally a way to use that bunch that we bought “for smoothies” that’s about to wilt in the crisper drawer…
  • 1/4 cup sherry
    One for you, one for me *glug*  Wait, what is sherry?  Do they sell that at the grocery store?  I’m probably going to have to go to the liquor store.. ugh. OOh! Maybe I can buy some vodka at the same time.  Maybe this recipe isn’t such a lost cause…
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

So yeah, reading through the recipe I waffled a couple times on whether we could actually pull this recipe off.  I’d LOVE to show you a picture of our masterpiece all pretty in our matte black bowls… but guess who forgot to go to the liquor store?  Ha. Guess that means we can’t re-enact any scenes from My Drunk Kitchen (Pizza, unlike old coca-cola is best served flat!)

Anyway.. after mulling over the stew recipe (combine saffron + water, set aside, heat onions and bell pepper in the oil until onions start to soften, then stir in all seasonings including saffron-water, add kale and cook, stirring constantly, until either you or the kale are wilted.  Add sherry–to the stew, not your mouth, and cook until almost all the liquid is gone.  Add everything else and bring to a boil.  Cover, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes.)  The actual recipe in all of its lovely entirety can be found in the Weight Watchers Points Plus Power Foods Cookbook: 200 Simple & Satisfying Recipes book, on page 188. Copyright Weight Watchers International, Inc. 2011.

The rest of our menu is pretty straight forward with nothing nearly as exotic as saffron stew.  It’s got things like salmon, spaghetti, and meatloaf on it.. The good news, though, is that I was able to organize my cupboard in my quest for recipe ingredients.  Isn’t it pretty?

Yeah.. it’s probably wrecked by the time you’re reading this… >_>

Writers Block/blog

Oi ladies and gents.. I have writer’s block.

I have lots of blog fodder just waiting to get off of my phone but every time I sit down to try to write, nothing worthwhile comes to mind.  I think I’ll just pick a photo from my phone and write about that… here.. listen to this song while you wait (don’t worry, it’s squeaky clean):

The new title of the entry you are about to read is “Sushi: with friends

Jeff and I have a friend that was talented and studious enough (note: I didn’t say lucky, she worked her bum off) to get into TSU in Japan.  She’s been stateside for a couple of months and completely absorbed with visiting family and friends, attending weddings, barbeques, and doing all of the things that one does when visiting home in between living as an expat.

I invited her to meet up with me at a craft store as it is a common interest that we share, but due to a mix up with a friend’s wedding plans, she wasn’t able to make it.  That’s okay, though, c’est la vie, and we rescheduled for dinner on Tuesday. 

When I checked in with her the day of our event, unfortunately, something else came up again — this time with family in a not so good way and she had to cancel.  No rain check this time.  Maybe it’s because we were going to have sushi and she would soon be going  back to the land of sushi.  Maybe we should have invited her out to a burger. 

Oh well.  We didn’t make what was on our menu for dinner because we thought we were going out, and so Jeff and I headed out without our friend.  We went to a great newish restaurant in the area called “Kona Grill” 

Originally, I had gone to Kona with a friend from work who had made the drive to the home office from Iowa.  She was going to go by herself but she said “sushi” and “awesome” and “by myself” all in the same sentence and so I knew that someone would have to intervene… and go eat awesome sushi with her.  We had a great meal and I knew that I’d have to come back and introduce other people to this new local delight.  Jeff and I got a table in the bar since there was no wait and just enjoyed each other’s company.  We didn’t have a lot to talk about, so we shared stuff with each other on our phones.  At one point, our heads were leaning against each other as we looked at something (it was quite loud, so this also helped us to hear each other’s comments without yelling) and the waitress appeared out of thin air and commented “Awe, could you be more cute?”  We tried to cut the PDA a little bit after that.. *sheepish grin*

The meal that Jeff and I had was even better than the first time I had gone to Kona.  Jeff and I both ordered a Dragon Roll [crab special roll topped w/eel, eel sauce & sesame seeds], I ordered a Philly Roll (it’s Americanized…) [smoked salmon, cream cheese & cucumber], and Jeff ordered a Bama Roll [crab mix, cream cheese, jalapeño wrapped in soy paper topped w/tuna, avocado, fish roe and spicy mayo].  One roll is probably enough for anyone, but I was looking for left overs 🙂 I was able to save more than half of what we ordered. It’s a good thing I saved room, too, because their seasonal item was a pineapple upside down cake–it was a dessert to redeem the evening: