Friday, October 29, 2010

Menu plan for the week of 10/31/2010

We're out of crackers of any sort this week; and only have beef & some shrimp in the freezer. Plus we have quite a bit of squash to use.

Update 10/30: I did a little more food shopping to accommodate this menu plan.

Sunday, 10/31 (yup... Halloween)
  • Pre-breakfast: banana (for Matthew--age 6, who gets up way too early)
  • Breakfast: gluten-free pancakes using Bob's Red Mill Biscuit & Baking mix with some EVOO and honey. Mike will make a double or triple batch and freeze. If we're lucky, some will have pear in them--but I'm not holding my breath. ;) I actually hate pancakes, so I'll be eating my leftovers from our "Saturday breakfast out" (where I order my food with a take-home container and as soon as it comes, I remove half). As usual, we'll drink water.
  • Morning snacks: celery with peanut butter, pear slices, melon pieces
  • Lunch: hamburgers with salad (my kids actually eat salad)
  • Afternoon snacks: coconut milk yogurt, sunflower seeds
  • Dinner: Stew from the freezer (grassfed chuck roast with potatoes, carrots, vegetable broth, seasonings dried from the organic coop & CSA) plus kale cooked in EVOO and garlic with whatever pine nuts are left.
  • Dessert: really? dessert? We'll see... this isn't necessary!!!
**I'll be cooking some pea soup all day today. Matthew isn't really big on soup, so I'm not exactly sure if/when this will be eaten by him.

Monday, 11/1
  • Pre-breakfast: banana
  • Breakfast: I'm actually going to attempt rice congee with some safe sausage that I need to buy or some shrimp that I have in the freezer with some fresh organic spinach and garlic (actually, that sounds a lot better for dinner, but I'm trying to expand my horizons here). OR (since we have an overabundance of squash that NEEDS to be used) maybe some squash with cinnamon... or sweet potatoes with cinnamon. That might be the better bet. Mmmmmmm.... I honestly never heard of it until a friend posted on Facebook that she was eating it. Here's what she wrote to me about it:
Hey Heather-

Everyone has a different recipe, but I like something simple: boil brown rice in water on med-high heat for about 15-20 minutes. Add whatever you'd like to it- seasoned ground pork is tasty, as is fish if you like seafood. I imagine a chorizo or an Italian sausage might be very interesting, too. Lower heat and cook for another 20-25 minutes until consistency is like oatmeal. If you'd like, add a poached egg for extra protein. A savory, hearty breakfast!

Consistency and texture should be based on preference so experiment with the water and rice proportions to find something you like. For example, Northern Chinese like very sticky congee made with plain rice and then having the accompaniments added while eating. The Cantonese like it very watery and cooked with the meat/seafood.

I also recently learned that the American Southern dish Chicken Bog is distantly related to congee so you can also look that up as a reference - though from what I can tell it's not as watery as congee.
  • Morning snacks: coconut milk yogurt, carrots
  • Lunch: tuna fish on GF bread accompanied with raw zucchini slices with an experimental dip: unflavored coconut milk yogurt mixed with a safe, dried Italian dressing mix. ;)
  • Afternoon snacks: pear slices, celery with peanut butter (if you're not Feingold, add a few raisins for "ants on a log")
  • Dinner: Grassfed-beef from the freezer steaks with chinese cabbage (I have a recipe for this) and some Acorn squash broiled with maple syrup. I'll make all of the Acorn squash and then just mash and freeze what doesn't get used.

Tuesday, 11/2... at this point, I'm feeling like menu-planning sucks and I don't want to do it. I'm also realizing that it is exactly the frustration I feel with menu-planning ahead of time that leads to last-minute screw ups in how we eat and buying stuff last minute. So I'm mustering on.

  • Pre-breakfast: I suspect Matthew will steal a coconut milk yogurt
  • Breakfast: eggs with nitrate/nitrite and all other allergen-free bacon. I may have half of a red grapefruit broiled with some honey. Mike can't have citrus in the morning (grapefruit is actually Feingold safe) because it counteracts his ADD meds.
  • Morning snacks: melon pieces, carrots
  • Lunch: peanut butter and rhubarb jelly (since all berries, peaches, apples, etc. are out due to Feingold). There should be veggies here. Possibly salad, but not exactly sure. If the zucchini went over well yesterday, I'll do that again and use up the "dip".
  • Afternoon snacks: celery, sunflower seeds
  • Dinner: Rice pasta (a very rare treat) with dairy-free pesto, canned organic black beans and I have to figure out what to put in there other than peppers (which is what the recipe originally called for). I'm thinking steamed zucchini would be soft and sweet like peppers without taking too much away.

Wednesday, 11/3
  • Pre-breakfast: banana
  • Breakfast: egg frittata with fried zucchini and onions... mmmmm.
  • Morning snacks: celery with peanut butter, sunflower seeds, coconut milk yogurt
  • Lunch: Thinking about potato pods with tuna and broccoli
  • Afternoon snacks: coconut milk yogurt, sunflower seeds
  • Dinner: We really only have beef in the freezer right now so I'm thinking we'll have meatloaf with whatever greens are left. I think chard or zucchini. Plus I need to find a recipe to use some of the Delicata squash. Will post that by Monday the latest.

Thursday, 11/4
  • Pre-breakfast: probably coconut milk yogurt
  • Breakfast: eggs with Wellshire Farms apple/chicken sausage patties. This is NOT Feingold Stage 1 approved due to the apple content. Maybe I'll give Matthew some chorizo.
  • Morning snacks: if any melon survives this far we'll eat that, carrots
  • Lunch: We should have some safe (Hormel Natural Choice) cold cuts with some broccoli. On or off GF bread
  • Afternoon snacks: celery, pear slices, raw zucchini slices with dip if that worked the other day
  • Dinner: Since I went out Saturday and bought some chicken, I'll make a variant of one of my formerly favorite dishes (Greek chicken) that included pasta. It's chicken pieces sauteed in EVOO and garlic with some onion (they call for red, I use whatever) and then adding some lemon juice, artichoke hearts and parsley. It usually has tomato pieces and feta cheese--all combined with the penne pasta, but I think all of this with some rice might be just as tasty! Maybe I'll throw some of the Butternut squash in there.

Friday, 11/5
  • Pre-breakfast: banana
  • Breakfast: If the congee went over well, we'll do that again. If not, eggs
  • Morning snacks: celery with or without peanut butter, sunflower seeds, coconut milk yogurt
  • Lunch: Homemade pea soup with a piece of GF bread
  • Afternoon snacks: zucchini sticks, carrots
  • Dinner: I'm going to try a variation on a Sesame Shrimp & Pineapple recipe that is minus soy sauce, orange juice and sesame stuff; and substituting pea pods with whatever greens I have in the house because I couldn't find them fresh OR frozen. If I make it to another supermarket during the week and find them--great; otherwise, I'll just throw in whatever I have left. The recipe is from an old, beat-up, paperback novel sized recipe book they used to sell at the grocery check-out lines called "Land O Lakes Healthy One Dish Meals". My previously referenced (and altered) Greek chicken and the pasta/pesto/bean dishes were also from this book. Looks like it may have been published in 1997. :)


1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks in juice
1/3 cup orange juice (I'm not doing this because we're eating Feingold Stage 1)
3 Tbl red wine vinegar
3 Tbl soy sauce (I'll be using THIS mock soy sauce recipe)
4 tsp cornstarch (I'll be using 2-2/3 tsp Arrowroot)
1 tsp sugar (I'll be using 1 tsp honey)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes


1-2 Tbl vegetable oil (for us, EVOO)
2 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbl sesame seed
6 med carrots (3 cups if you're buying them canned or frozen & already cut), thinly sliced
2 cups (8 oz.) fresh pea pods, tips & strings removed (we don't have these--so we'll probably use fresh spinach)


1 pound (20-24) fresh or frozen raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed, drained

Warm chow mein noodles or cooked rice

  1. Drain pineapple reserving 1/2 cup juice. Set chunks aside.
  2. In small bowl, stir together reserved pineapple juice and all sauce ingredients; set aside.
  3. In wok or 10-inch skillet heat vegetable oil and sesame oil (seriously? do you need both?); add sesame seed (add more oil as needed during stir-frying, but it doesn't say which oil). Cook over medium-high heat 1 minute. Add carrots. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add pea pods (or in our case, chard or spinach). Continue cooking, stirring constantly until vegetables are crisply tender (2-3 minutes). Remove vegetables from wok; set aside.
  4. Place shrimp in hot wok. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until shrimp turn pink (my shrimp are frozen & already cooked so I'll put them in some hot tap water for a while until they're not hard and then just cook them as directed for a few minutes to coat them with the oil and make them hot). Push shrimp from the center of wok. Stir sauce; add sauce to center of the wok/pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened (1-2 minutes). Return cooked vegetables to wok/pan. Add pineapple chunks; stir all ingredients to coat with the sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, until heated through (1 minute). Serve over rice/noodles.

Saturday, 11/6
  • Pre-breakfast: banana
  • Breakfast: We'll be going out to breakfast at a place where we can get pineapple juice without corn syrup and eggs without milk. :)
  • Morning snacks: usually ditched on Saturday due to late breakfast, but possibly coconut milk yogurt
  • Lunch: Sushi while food shopping that does not have food coloring, wasabi or soy sauce. The kids eat California rolls (sometimes with fish roe on it) or cucumber rolls. Mike & I eat the raw stuff. We haven't had sushi for a while, so this will be a big treat.
  • Afternoon snacks: coconut milk yogurt, sunflower seeds
  • Dinner: At this point, I'm fed up with menu planning and I have to go see what we have available. I suspect that as long as I plan this dinner by Monday, I'll be okay. My standby will be hamburgers, whatever greens are left over and oven-roasted potatoes... which I LOVE.

Menu plans

Okay... someone recently posted somewhere about wanting menu plans. This is smack-dab exactly where I was headed--so here we go!!! This is going to be my menu plan for next week. Realize that I buy my meat in bulk and freeze it--so usually, I already have more than one type of meat in the freezer, but not always.

I'm going to work on next week's menu plan--which will undoubtedly NOT be very exciting, but at least allergenic and using the stuff I just bought plus whatever else is in the house. It's a lot harder to eat appropriately without a plan--whether you're trying to eat allergenically, just healthier, within a budget, or dieting. In your rush to figure out what to eat, you don't think methodically and are often stuck with what you can find. When you plan, you get the foods you need ahead of time or at least take inventory and plan accordingly.

And if you're thinking about bulk/freezer cooking, this would be a step closer to it: you have to plan your meals for bulk cooking, too. In fact, if you're menu planning now, why not plan in a meal that can be made in double or triple batches and plan to freeze it. Even having a single meal in the freezer can save you from a night of take-out. :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So very done with Jenny Craig... on to weight loss with healthy food

So, I just can't do it anymore. I can't resist reading the ingredients on the Jenny Craig food and it makes me insane. Not to mention that my body is in revolt with all of the cheese. :(

But this two week stint and my own posts have really slapped me in the face with a hearty "Duh--you can do this if you make some additional effort," and to that end, that's what I'm doing.

The one thing I noticed (and this is something I've griped to Mike about for over a year) is the meat-to-all_other_things_on_the_plate ratio. Seriously. I ordered Outback last night and got their filet with mushroom-wine sauce (which I didn't remember was cream-based) and it was cut in three pieces. Well, I only ate one of them and I think even then it was more meat than most of the Jenny Craig entrees.

This is kind of a great thing because meat is a huge chunk of the food budget--and that's without buying grassfed and/or antibiotic free. If we can stretch the meat further, we might be able to afford the good stuff more often.

Also along those lines, I have finally started participating in food preparation and enforced a "veggies with lunch" rule. So far it's been peeled baby carrots or green beans. But it's new, so I'm working on it.

I also don't snack. I need to. I need to eat every two hours.

And I need to add some fat to our diet. Not a ton because we DO get some fat from the egg yolks and meats in our diet, but I need to be sure it's there.

There's no way I'll enforce portion control on the kids: they can eat to their hearts content. I happen to have lean kids--the youngest of which barely eats solids even at 2yo. I have extremely mixed feelings about people enforcing portion sizes on kids. I think this is a prime example of a decision that should be made on a case-by-case basis. Make sure to balance your kids diet such that you know they're eating a LOT of veggies, some fruits, protein (from fish, meat, eggs or beans), and barely any refined sugars. We've not been great with that. It's lovely that everything they eat is (ingredient-wise) healthier than most, and certainly THEIR diet is a bit more balanced than Mike and I, but I need to look closer at their veggie intake because I don't think it's enough.

If you feel like they can't live a fulfilled childhood without marshmallows and ice cream (and truly--I'm WITH you on that!) then reserve it for Friday or Saturday night desserts. Make it a treat to look forward too--ya know? And if you make it a routine of doing it a specific night each week, they're not likely to ask for it all the time because they KNOW they WILL get it. And then make sure those things are as healthy as can be. We have a really hard time finding "safe" marshmallows, but Whole Foods carries them sometimes. I'm tempted to learn to make them myself.

It's work. But then, if it were easy, our country wouldn't be suffering from issues that are 80% attributable to being overweight. And we'd have fewer of us dying from heart disease (which is in the top 3 causes of death with cancer and MEDICINE! Yes, really--medicine is in the top 3 in the US! Can you believe that?!?!?!)

So... that's the goal. ONWARD!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Healthy food/ingredients does not automatically equal weight loss

Well, I'd like to set the record straight because there's an awful lot of "to do" about the fact that I'm overweight. People who feel I'm a hypocrite because I keep a blog on eating healthier when I'm fat.

Ummm... I keep a blog on eating around allergens. Eating around our particular set of allergens absolutely has us eating WAY healthier ingredients than most of the country.

Ingredients are not the only factor in weight loss. Jenny Craig's food is proof positive of this: there is a LOT of sugar and cheese in her food. Cheese is debatable as "healthy" but sugar--not by a long shot. Not to mention all the other additives in there.

Healthy foods/ingredients are a huge factor in your overall health. They are NOT, however, the ONLY factor in weight loss. So because you eat 100% organic foods and never touch a soda does not guarantee you will be thin. There's more to it than that. Like:

* Portion control: If you eat too much food and ingest more calories than you are burning off--you're going to gain weight. Period.

* Exercise: See the above in reference to burning off calories. And exercise is another component of overall health. It's not just about food.

* Balance: Do you know that if there's NO fat in your diet at all, you will have difficulty losing weight? Yes--it's true. And I recently found out just how little fat is in my and Mike's diet. The kids get some via coconut milk. Mike and I--notsomuch. Add to it that we're not really getting as much fruit and veggies as we should. More than most people? Yup. Enough? Notsomuch.

* Schedule: If you're not eating regularly (or regularly enough for your particular body's metabolism needs) then you're also not going to lose weight. For my body, I need to eat every 2 hours for my metabolism to stay high enough to really work well. Doesn't really matter what I eat--as long as I ingest something every 2 hours. Yes, it's true. Likewise, if you're someone whose body has "quirks" and your largest meal is about an hour or two before bedtime... yeah, you may have some issues.

To be honest, the idea that people could look at me pushing healthier food ingredients and believing I'm a hypocrite because I'm overweight is just glaring evidence of how insanely undereducated we are on weight maintenance, nutrition and overall health.

I'm hoping that this clears things up a little.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Shoot me now.... I joined Jenny Craig

Let me say a few things first:

1) I was on Jenny Craig about 15 years ago after battling my weight (and depression) unsuccessfully for 11 years (at that time). So I'm familiar with what it is and what it isn't. What it isn't is a system that teaches you how to eat properly. What it IS is a system that does all the work for you and near the end (during transition) gives you a little information on how to maintain what you're doing. Actually, they do what Weight Watchers starts out doing (teaching you how to eat) on a much smaller scale. But for people like me who actually KNOW how to eat and have studied it for years on end, but whose life has spiraled out of control--it's a fast fix to get you back to portion control, schedule and a varied diet.

2) I have no delusions that this will be healthy food. Sound ironic? Yeah... it's pretty ironic. But losing weight is predominantly about caloric intake and they nail that. I'm sure they've lined up the number of fats and proteins a certain way; but the food is mass pre-packaged and therefore FULL of crap we never eat. In fact, if you are dairy or corn allergic you cannot do Jenny Craig. Period. It's their own policy. Because you have to buy and eat THEIR food. If you want to learn how to balance the foods that you want to eat of your own free will, go to Weight Watchers.

3) Because Jenny Craig doesn't force you to really learn much, it's a lot quicker to lose weight than with Weight Watchers. Of course, because you're not learning much, what do you think the odds are of regaining?

4) About 7 years after I went on Jenny Craig, I was diagnosed with an insulin disorder (hyperinsulinism) that had been previously missed and misdiagnosed for 17 years. This was the source of both my weight gain, depression and (in the last few years before diagnosis--when I was extremely insulin-resistant) debilitating fatigue. Controlling my insulin levels fixed those things and made it possible for me to quit gaining.

I'm mentally in a place where I'm just not coping with anything well. I have about 50 lbs. to lose. Earlier this week I weighed in at 189 lbs. and I shouldn't be more than 140lbs. for my height to be at a BMI that doesn't register as "obese" (which affects getting life insurance, btw).

I've been on the Jenny Craig food for almost a week and so help me God, I'm not sure how long I can do this. I FEEL unhealthy. It's a lot of cheese and sugars. And if I go in on Monday night and they can't replace the sugar items, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I might actually just go another week and then see how they're going to deal with me being away before giving in. I guess it will also depend on how much weight I lose this week.

I don't think Jenny Craig is a healthy system when you look at the ingredients you are eating. I don't think lots of corn syrup, soy and preservatives are good for you. That's my own opinion. But I also think being overweight is extremely unhealthy... physically AND emotionally (for some). I just need help and I need it fast and I'm simultaneously trying to work through the losses of the last year--which are REALLY hard. We'll see how it goes.

I will continue to keep the blog because I'm also finding that in the last week, I have been motivated to do some of the cooking for my family. Weird. I KNEW I should've seen a shrink about that sudden aversion. I'm now wondering if it was connected to feeding myself and not feeling like I was worth it. :( But I missed our CSA pickup yesterday and went to Whole Foods this morning to shop for stuff we needed. And I spoke to Mike about how we eat. One thing I DEFINITELY learned in this last week is that we're NOT eating the variety or balance of foods we should be eating--that's for sure. I knew we were light on veggies, but...

Restrictive diet is really no excuse. It's work to learn how to do it, but it can (and should, and will) be done.

And then we'll tackle the budgeting of it.

Oh... and portion control. Mike is heavy, too. When I see the portion sizes of the main course of the Jenny Craig meals and what they tell you to add from your own kitchen to bulk it up, I get SO ANGRY that we haven't been doing that. And then I think of how much money it would save and I get even angrier. Blech...