What’s Cookin’, Good Lookin’?

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

mother ~ bike ~ photo ~ hamburger ~ salad ~ blood pressure

They were submitted by: http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/               

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

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I am a terrible cook.

I don’t enjoy cooking. It actually gives me anxiety.

When I embarked on my weight loss journey, I knew one of the bad habits I was going to HAVE to change was the amount of times per month we were eating out. I needed to cook more if this was going to stick.

Ugh.

Nothing I make every looks like the picture. If I’m lucky, it’s edible. Feel free to question my daughter about the “Green Shrimp Soup” fiasco of 2004.  I think I may have blogged about it, but I’m too lazy to go search my archives. I suck at timing. By the time my main course is ready, everything else is cold and congealed. I often leave out important ingredients or steps, not on purpose, I’m just not good at following direction. I’m bad to buy the ingredients without reading the recipe and then find out when I set out to prepare dinner that the chicken was supposed to marinate overnight… So I wing it, often with disastrous results. Do you see what I did there? 😀 “Wing it…” “chicken…” Yeah, okay I’ll stop.

My husband is a much better cook. I don’t cook because I’m the mother, I cook because my husband works 2 jobs and goes to school full-time. No gender specific roles being assigned up in this house. I’m sure there is a small part of him (a very tiny, minuscule part) that sometimes wishes he was the stay-at-home dad, homeschooling our son and cooking dinners, doing laundry, meal planning, cleaning…oh wait, he does a lot of the cleaning actually.  In truth, I’m the worst housewife ever. But I try. I get an E for effort.

I’ve been wanting to try these new food delivery companies that seem to be flooding the marketplace. Places like Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, Sun Basket, Green Chef, Home Chef, etc… There seem to be a billion of them. A friend of mine was giving out 2 free meals through the Blue Apron company, and my favorite thing in the world is free anything, so I jumped all over that opportunity.

Despite the fact that my husband spends HOURS at the gym, on the exercise bike, lifting weights, sweating it up in the sauna, staring at himself in the myriad of mirrors and reflective surfaces…genetically speaking, he is still at risk for High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol. His strict exercise and diet regime don’t so much lower his risk for those factors as they lower the risk for the side effects…like death.  As I kind of like having him around, I’ve recently switched us over to a more pescatarianesque diet, more salad and fish less hamburger and chicken. Basically, trying to lower his exposure to animal fats.

For someone who doesn’t cook well and doesn’t enjoy it, getting creative with fish dishes is extremely difficult. It can also be expensive.  We can’t eat salmon every night, and not just because I have a tendency to dry it out so it resembles something more along the lines of salmon jerky. I refuse to buy tilapia. If it can’t be found in nature and it’s breathing, I’m wary. We have to avoid the high mercury fishes like Ahi Tuna, Orange Roughy, King Mackerel, etc. Not because I’m pregnant! Don’t want to start any rumors…

Anyway, back to my Blue Apron experience.

I ordered the “fried” Catfish with spinach and sweet potato fries and the black bean and quinoa burritos. I thought both options were pretty safe, both for me in the kitchen and to satisfy my son’s picky palate. The kid LOVES beans. I haven’t been able to sell either my son or my husband on the benefits of quinoa. They just don’t like it, so I was a little nervous about the burritos, but I thought if you smother enough cheese and beans on it and cover it with a tortilla, maybe they won’t notice. I will admit that I don’t find quinoa all that aesthetically pleasing either. It looks like bugs.

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Having never used one of these meal services before, I didn’t really have expectations, but I thought it would be more prepared I guess.

For example, I had to grate my own cheese… Luckily, we had a cheese grater. I wasn’t sure if that particular kitchen utensil made our recent move. I was throwing out everything. Yes, I know the benefits of grating your own cheese versus buying the packaged grated cheese. I like to live dangerously. And lazily.

On the upside, I finally know what a shallot is and what it looks like! Whenever a recipe asked for a shallot, I could never find it in the grocery store, so I always just bought green onions instead.  Same thing right? I think you’re maybe starting to understand why I’m so terrible in the kitchen.

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THIS is a shallot, if you didn’t know!

By the looks and smell of it, I’m thinking a red onion might be a better substitute. Yes? No? Anyway…

There was a ton more prep than I expected.

I laugh at the instructions they sent allotting a 10 minute prep time for each dish.  It took me that long to find the cheese grater. I grated like half the cheese block, got tired and cut the rest in chunks…I mean it’s gonna melt, who will know?

I apologize for the stock photo‘s. I completely forgot to document my Blue Apron cooking journey in pictures, which is too bad, because the burritos actually turned out kinda pretty. You’ll just have to take my word for it this time.  Next time, I’ll remember to take those important Instagram moments!

Despite the amount of prep and cook time, both meals turned out pretty good. There were clean plates all around, and even the KEENWAAAAH went down the hatches! It was nice to not have to grocery shop or meal plan for those 2 days. The convenience alone would be worth the price. I think both meals were around $60 and are supposed to feed a family of four. My husband eats for two or three, so there wasn’t much in the way of leftovers which sucked because I use leftovers for lunches.  I could probably duplicate both recipes on my own for cheaper but it was fun to try it out.

I’ll definitely order again, just to spice things up.  If you’ve used any of these types of services and have recommendations, send them my way.  Especially if they have a “free to try” option 😀

Grab that mug, pull up a chair and read how my friends used their particular words this week ❤

Baking In A Tornado                        http://www.bakinginatornado.com

Spatulas on Parade                   http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

The Blogging 911                       http://theblogging911.com

On the Border                           http://dlt-lifeontheranch.blogspot.com/

Bookworm in the Kitchen      http://www.bookwormkitchen.com/

The Bergham Chronicles                  http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

Southern Belle Charm                    http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Confessions of a part-time working mom         http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

Climaxed                                       http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Believing Is Achieving

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

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I get a ton of questions daily about what I eat and what kind of exercise I do, so I thought I’d write today and share what I’ve found works for me.  I plan on making this an ongoing series, posting my workouts, meal plans and anything else I find motivational or inspirational.  I know that I love seeing other people post about their meal plans and exercise routines.  I love finding new recipes and ideas.  My idea of spicing up the kitchen is buying chicken with the skin on.  I know, I’m living life on the edge!  Be jealous.

I don’t know about you but I’d much rather think about food than politics or the state of the Union which has been filling up my social media feeds here lately.  All the scrolling to find videos of puppies and kittens and things that make me happy is exhausting lately and quite frankly should be counted as exercise. All that finger swiping has to be burning calories.  I’m going to google that…

Apparently there is an app that calculates how many tweet calories you burn.  An argument could be made that swiping, liking and commenting burns about the same amount of calories as tweeting.  The average, healthy person burns about 2.65 calories per minute.  It takes 23 seconds approximately to craft a 140 character tweet, which means that sending one tweet burns about 1.03 calories.  I don’t do math, so I’m not fact checking this information.  I can’t believe someone sat around trying to figure that out, but it came in handy today.

Anyway, I digress.  One of my major goals for 2017 is to meal plan/prep every week.  So far so good.  I’ve noticed by planning my meals each week, I’ve saved a ton of money and time.  I was literally going to the grocery story every day last year, spending roughly $30-$60 each visit.  More if I was at Target.  We also ate out more often, and I’ve been scaling that back to once a week, maybe twice at most.  Since meal planning/prepping, I’m spending about $150 per week, $600 per month on groceries, approximately.  Some weeks it’s a little higher, some a little lower.  I was spending $210 – $420 per week before.  That’s just ridiculous.  Sunday is my planning day and Monday is my shopping/prepping day.  I put little stars next to the meals that go over really well, and I have theme nights.

For example:

Meatless Mondays

Taco Tuesdays

Whimsical Wednesdays (when I try something new)

Thematic Thursdays (I look for dishes from other cultures/countries – Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, etc…)

Fallback Fridays (old favorites, comfort foods)

Silly Saturdays (fun foods – like make your own pizza or finger foods only)

I don’t always stick to these themes, but it gives me a guidepost and makes it easier when I’m trying to plan to keep things new and different.  I usually incorporate at least one crockpot meal and I don’t cook on Sundays.

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I do not diet.  However, I do believe that what we do in the kitchen, dictates how successful we will be in creating healthier, fitter, happier versions of ourselves.  I follow the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time I follow a healthy, clean and wholesome food plan.  The 20% rule is because I love Chick Fil A, Girl Scout Cookies, Chocolate and wine and I don’t believe in deprivation.  I spent years abusing my body.  Starving.  Overeating.  Binge eating.  The word “die” is in diet for a reason.  It was literally killing me.  I’ve tried every diet out there and none of it worked long-term.  I worked with a nutritionist and therapist prior to my surgery and there is a reason they require it.  My relationship with food was detrimental to my mental, physical and emotional well-being.  I had to change the way I felt and thought about food or I would end up being another statistic.  I felt like surgery was a pretty drastic action, it wasn’t something I entered into lightly, and I didn’t want to put myself thru all of the this only to end up back where I started someday.

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I learned that food is neither inherently good nor inherently bad.  We assign values to food and it creates this unhealthy relationship.  We eat something “bad” and we beat ourselves up, feeling crappy and worthless and in my case, I’d end up just eating more “bad” food in this vicious cycle of self-loathing.  We embark on these crazy diets and fads, billions of dollars are spent every year, making the fitness/health industry one of the largest, yet we are still obese as a country on the whole and that number is rising every day.  There isn’t a magic formula or magic pill to lose weight or get fit.  If there was I definitely would have found it by now.  Losing weight also doesn’t mean losing fat.  The scale lies.  I threw out my scale and it was the best decision I ever made.

THROW OUT THE SCALE!

 You will be happier I promise.  Take your measurements, pay attention to how you feel, how your clothes feel and celebrate non-scale victories.  The scale will only make you miserable and obsessed, it is not an accurate measure of your success, failure or progress.  It doesn’t tell the whole story.  In fact, the scale tells “alternative facts”.  Cheeky I know, I went there.  Deal with it ❤

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How much do I eat?

Here is the other mistake many people (especially women) make when it comes to food and eating.  We don’t eat enough.  I KNOW!  Shocking, but true.  We are starving ourselves.  Our bodies need fuel, especially if you are working out.  I use the formula below to determine how many calories I should be consuming each day and I use the MyFitnessPal app (iPhone) to track my food.  I’m not super religious about tracking, mostly I use it to ensure I’m getting my protein each day.  I aim to get about 60+ grams of protein each day.  Then I balance out the rest of my diet with fruits/vegetables, whole grains, fats, etc.

What is your gender? Your Score: 1 or less – 1,200 – 1,499 calories
Female +1 2 – 1,500 – 1,799 calories
Male +2 3 – 1,800 – 2,099 calories
4 – 2,100 – 2,399 calories
What is your weight? 5 – 2,400 – 2,699 calories
130 lbs or less +1 6 – 2,700 – 2,999 calories
131-160 lbs +2 7 – 3,000 – 3,299 calories
161-180 lbs +3 8 or more – 3,300 – 3,599 calories
181 – 200 lbs +4
201 – 220 lbs +5
221 lbs + +6
What is your current activity level?
Inactive (desk job) -1
Moderate (server in a restaurant) 0
Very Active (construction worker) +1
What is your goal?
Lean out -2
Maintain Weight 0
Build Muscle +1
Total Score

You are wondering how I know how much I weigh if I threw out my scale.  Well, I still have to go to the doctor and they make me stand on it.  You’ll have some idea of how much you weigh, even if you don’t have a scale.

Make sure you are eating enough!

Exercise – I work out 4-6 days per week, depending on what is going on that week.  Never fewer than 4 days and never on Sunday.  What I do each day depends on my mood and how I feel.  Typically, I walk 4-5 days per week, 1-3 miles.  Currently, I am doing the T25 program thru Beachbody, which are 25 minutes in length and vary each day in terms of what is focused on (i.e. lower body, total body, cardio).  I also work to hit at least 10,000 steps per day.

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I don’t love exercise, and I won’t pretend that I do.  I do it because I do love how it is changing my body and how strong it makes me feel.  I do it because I don’t want to gain the weight back, and I still have inches I want to lose.  I do it because I know how bad not doing it makes me feel.  I can’t and won’t go back there.  I wish there was another way, an easier way.  But there is not.  You have to move your body and fuel it with wholesome and nutritious foods.  It takes so much longer to take it off than it does to put it on, which is horribly unfair.  Alas, it’s the way it is and that won’t change.  Find what motivates and inspires you.  Make exercise a daily task or to-do on your list, schedule it on your calendar. Whatever you need to do to make working out and YOU a priority.  You deserve it.  You need it.  You’ll be a better person for it.

I promise.

I’m here for you.  We can do this together.  We’ve totally got this!

Next time, I’ll share meal prep ideas, meal plans and recipes.  Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you, inspire you, motivate you.