I say Tabouli – you say Tabbouleh

Either way, it’s a Mediterranean dish made with bulgur wheat. When I don’t have bulgur wheat on hand, I buy the Near East Tabouleh grain mix. It comes with a season packet of dried parsley, onion, salt, garlic, molasses, honey, and black pepper. It very easy to prepare – pour the contents into a saucepan, boil some water (I usually use my hot water pot to boil the water), pour one cup of water into the saucepan, cover, and let sit for about five minutes.

I let the bulgur wheat cool off for a while before I put all the other ingredients in. While the bulgur wheat is cooling, you can dice cucumber, tomato, red onion, and red bell pepper. For the servings, I dice 1/2 cucumber, 1 tomato or 10 cherry tomatoes, 1/2 red onion, and 1/4 red bell pepper. Prep the juice from 1/2 a lemon, 1/4 lime, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Week 1 – Lifestyle Change 3/10/2021

We all have to start somewhere!

Most of us already have a routine, but how many of you have already tried many different life style changes only to be disappointed at what it really offers you in the long run? Where has it gotten you? What has it done for you? Life Style changes can be a really big hassle at times, they can also lead to other issues.

Welcome to my journey. I am finally going to follow a routine, catalog it weekly, and share it with you. What do I hope to get out of this? Peace of mind, comfort, knowing I still have the ability to make good choices and stick with the things I am so passionate about. I am also hoping you will be able to get some ideas and use these to your advantage in living a heartier lifestyle.

When I was younger, I didn’t have to worry much about losing weight. I was tall and slim with long legs and a fit body that allowed me to do just about anything my heart desired (ski, basketball, softball, field hockey, cross country, cross country ski, downhill ski, run, swim, bike, roller skate, roller blade, ice skate, mountain climb). You name it, I did it. Now, I would be surprised if I could even run around the block without losing my breath.

California

First things first. You have to be all on board.

Every weekly post will have something about the previous week so you can follow along if you’d like or just read about some of the things that might help you start your own plan and/or help you through your existing plan.

Are you ready!

#1 – Commitment

Whose on board with you – family, friends, supporters. Get them if you need them. I thought I was ready for this. I had vegan brownies in a container from days before I decided to start. What do I do with the brownies? Do I use them in part of my plan? Oh, no!!! I have to commit to starting this thing with the right mindset. What is the right mindset? Well, let’s see again, commitment! I’ve committed to one year of a paid program to help me lose weight. Then, I’ll have to use what I’ve learned and either do it on my own or look for a less expensive gym to continue to work out in. I’m just going to have to see what it brings me a year from. now. I always say, “It’s taken me 25 years to put on the weight, what is one year of commitment to taking it off!”

#2 – Organization:

What’s in your pantry? Make sure you have the right tools. Check out my Pampered Chef site for some ideas of what you want to use to cook with. What’s going to make you happy and also be helpful to allow you to succeed through this endeavor. My favorites are spatulas, scrapers, bar pans, bamboo utensils, shears, and mixing bowls. We’ll talk about flavor, flavor, and more flavor in the next few weeks. I’ve got some great things in my mind to share with you and I am so exciting!! Also, check out my e-book on Cabinet Organization (you can find it at the bottom of the website).

#3 – Food Shopping. Oh my!!

What’s on your grocery list?

I was given a meal plan to follow. The hardest part is figuring out what to substitute for everything that is dairy and grains. I haven’t eaten pasteurized milk products for about two years now. We switched over from cow’s milk to Almond milk for a healthy alternative. I also just started looking for plant based cheeses in order to give up cow and goat milk cheeses. Again, for a healthier alternative. I’ve actually really surprised myself with my great cheese finds. Last week I tried my taste at a plant based Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Mozzarella. I haven’t tried the mozzarella yet, but intend to this weekend. Jackpot! I found a plant-based French-style cheese made by Treeline. Whoop, there it is! It has a cashew base, no sugar and 3g of carbohydrates to every 1 oz serving. Best thing of all is, I can shop for these products through my online shopping annuity, directly from Walmart.

Week One (March 10, 2021)

I went to the gym last Thursday to try a new approach. It’s a smaller gym than I am used to. I have been a supporter of the YMCA for many years, but I’m just not ready to work in an open environment with so many other people around. I found a small gym. There are four of us working out in a separated COVID safe section of the facility, while two to four others are working out in another part of the facility. Yes, only up to eight people in the studio at a time. It is a COVID safe environment and I feel most comfortable working out there.

On Saturday I went back. I was pleasantly surprise that my body didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. I’m not going to give you a step by step replay of what I actually did for exercising. However, I will give you some ideas of what I did so you can get an idea of some of the things you might be able to do to help you throughout your week. Once I signed on, I knew I was committed. Let me just say this, it’s two days a week, with a rotation of different exercises for 30 minutes (more to come). I will have to commit to at least two days of home exercise and may share this part of my routine with you through Facebook live. If you haven’t already, please connect to my Facebook page Chef LisaG’s Food4Thought and Health.

So, what are you going to do first?

Join a gym? Work out on your own? Walk a mile? Start small, then go big?

Start a grocery list. Think about Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks and Dinner.

I use and APP called ShopList. If you have something different that works for you, please share it by making a comment.

In the interim, if you are a paper person, use this form:

Next post…. we will share and compare shopping lists and talk about the LoseIt App.

Credits: Vertex42.com (shopping list)



Post Valentine’s Day – Lamb chops, Asparagus, Salmon, and chocolate covered strawberries.

I know I had reposted my chocolate covered strawberries from a few years back. I told you I would repost – this time the same idea, but with different chocolate. I used dark chocolate sugar free chocolate morsels this time. I wanted to see how the chocolate would melt and look with the strawberries. Well, to my surprise, they came out really well.

After washing the strawberries, I dried them off really well. Took a small prep cup with chocolate morsels and placed it in the microwave. Normally, I would have used my double boiler for melting the chocolates, however I was just dipping enough for me and my daughter. My son loves strawberries, but not dipped in chocolate, and my husband doesn’t like strawberries at all. WOH!!

What I found was, melting in the microwave, you really have to keep an eye on how much time. It took about 30 – 40 seconds to melt 1/2 cup morsels. After I took them out, the chocolate felt like it was about to seize, so I quickly added what was on hand (butter). I put about 1/2 tablespoon of butter and quickly stirred until it was nice and creamy. Normally I add a little oil to the chocolate (especially in a double boiler). This is what helps it keep it’s shine without blooming.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Desserts always first, right!!!

Next came a couple of different meals. Just pleasing to the smell and the eye. There were so many different things I could make, but these were the favorites: I don’t like lamb chops, but the hubby and the son certainly do. My daughter and I had the salmon. The same was cooked in the air fryer with some herbs and spices, along with the asparagus – just crunchy enough to savor all the flavor of the asparagus. I made homemade tabouli with fresh parsley (thanks to my Misfits order), red pepper, and red onion. It was delightful!


Stone Ground Oatmeal!

I did it! I ate oatmeal. When I was little I was a huge fan of cold cereal. I was quick, inexpensive, and easy to make. My father would buy Shredded Wheat, Cheerios, or Corn Flakes. He didn’t buy much cereal that had all the sugar in it. I remember trying oatmeal once and didn’t like it. I didn’t like the texture or the color – everything about it turned me off.

As an adult, I still don’t like it. Well, up until now. A friend of mine makes it all the time. It’s a staple in their home. They add blueberries, chia seeds, hemp hearts, cocoa nibs, goji berries, peanut butter, and anything they have on hand that is a non-milk product. They pop it in the microwave for a minute, and eat it. It looks delicious watching them make it, but the thought of mushy oatmeal just doesn’t appease me.

Then I thought, why not take all those ingredients and blend them together into a bar. Eliminating the blueberries and the peanut butter, I added a little maple syrup and ground everything with almonds instead of peanut butter. The only other difference was the oats. I used stone ground oatmeal instead. I had to cook it first and then added it to the blend. The bars came out really well.

I saw another video with their daughter making this same concoction – oatmeal bowl again!! This time, I said, “I’m gonna do it!” It looks so tasty, but I knew I won’t like the mushy oatmeal. I grabbed my stone ground oatmeal, cooked a half a cup stone ground oatmeal with one cup of water. I let is sit inside the fridge until it was cold. I added fresh blueberries and slices of mandarin oranges to it, a little maple syrup, some chia seeds, and hemp hearts, goji berries, and a tablespoon of crunch almond butter. I didn’t put any almond milk in it, but could have. Best oatmeal I’ve ever had. It was crunchy, nutty, hearty, flavorful and just the right blend of everything. Try it!!


Pizza: figs, fig jam, arugula, prosciutto, and goat cheese over cauliflower crust (YUMMINESS!!)

My daughter pulled my frozen cauliflower pizza out of the freezer today and asked me if she could make it. I continued to suggest she use the fig spread, arugula, prosciutto and goat cheese we had in the fridge. I love that she is venturing into trying new things on her own. She said, “Mom, shouldn’t I cook the pizza first before I put the spread on – this way it won’t be too soggy.” Girl, was I thrilled!! As I continued to smell the aromas coming from the kitchen, I smiled. I was so proud of her – she made a master piece. She cooked the crust just right – it wasn’t soggy at all! She cooked the prosciutto on the stove – lightly cooked to bring out the salty flavor (not crispy). Then spread the fig jam over the crust, dropped a mound of arugula, topped it off with the prosciutto, and dollops of goat cheese, which melted over the hot crust. Once this was done, a drizzle of a balsamic fig vinegar – superb! The arugula slightly wilted just in time to take a bite!

The picture was taken about a month ago – this was the pizza I made with figs I roasted. I used the reserve to make the fig jam (which is what she used today).


Figuring Things Out – Breakfast Decisions

Have you ever looked at your weight, your lifestyle changes (“diets”), or what you’re eating on a daily basis. There are days when I feel I need carbs, carbs, and more carbs after a long stressful day. There are other days I feel satisfied with a salad and some protein for dinner. What’s the secret? Is there a secret?

To start the day, I usually have a glass of water. I always feel dehydrated after a good night sleep. I contemplate what it is I feel like having for breakfast since I am not one to schedule my meals on the weekends. Weekdays, I usually have a couple of options, but weekends, I like to be free to choose what and when. Today was a no-brainer. I immediately thought, “toast and almond butter with my No Buzz Buzz decaf coffee.” I bought a loaf of Sprouted Power bread about a week ago, and am only half way through the loaf!!!! I guess that’s a good thing, especially when each piece has 18 grams of carbs – 4 grams dietary fiber (14 grams carbs all together), and only 1 gram of sugar (Yay!).

Then, I thought, I have a craving for PB&J toast. Oh, no, no, no, no. Well, I’ve tried the less sugar fruit spreads (don’t like them – too watery). The Concord grape jam is my go to choice. However, it has too much sugar. I thought for a moment while taking a bite from the toast I had spread with a tablespoon of almond butter. Then my mind started racing, “Apples, Bananas!” No, No, No – still too much sugar. Then it dawned on me. “Why not sprinkle a little Swerve and some cinnamon on top!!” This was it – it was all I needed to get me through this morning – deciding on a “right choice.” I’m going to put this on my list of breakfast options.

List of breakfast options – What!! Yes, add it to a list you can keep on the refrigerator. Who has time to open their phone in the morning, look up the app and scroll through breakfast items. Again, some days I just want an option to choose.

Tell me about your options in the morning. I’d love to hear them.


Bar Pan

When I was first introduced to Pampered Chef in 2012, this was one of the first things I purchased. Back then it was a rectangle, not the shape it is today. I went through two of them between 2012 and now. I used them so much, with high temperature (higher than recommended) causing the corners to break off. Low and behold, since it was under warranty, Pampered Chef sent me another one free of charge. When you purchase from PC, make sure you look at the warranty years. All I kept saying was, “what if I bought a similar pan from a department store.” I wouldn’t have gotten a warranty with it. Most manufacturer warranties are 90 days, if nothing at all.

I love that PC added the the little lip on the front. When I use the bake setting in my Air Fryer, It fits perfectly, and keeps food nice and crisp. I can an individual pizza on it and the bottom stays nice and crisp too. Best thing I ever bought!


Home for the Holidays!

It’s Christmas Day now! Last night we enjoyed a lovely seven fish family dinner today. Traditionally, we go over my brother and sister-in-laws, but this year with COVID we stayed home. These days, we are still be extra careful, especially since transmissions have risen, even amongst families. We ate really early today since my daughter had to work, so I was up very early. Once dinner was prepared and finished, I sat down, fell asleep, and woke up three hours later. Oh My!

Well, I had enough energy to challenge myself to bake two loaf breads and set up for a Facebook Live video First, I’ll talk about our Christmas Eve dinner, baking loaves and then our Christmas Day dinner. What was on the Christmas Eve menu:

Seven Fishes: This is a tradition in my husband’s family.

For the seven fishes I put together, muscles dijonnaise, scallops wrapped in bacon, shrimp, lobster, squid, haddock, and salmon. We also had Turner’s favorite stuffed clams and oysters Rockefeller. I made a red sauce for the lobster pieces, salted the salmon, steamed the muscles, baked the scallops wrapped in bacon, served shrimp cocktail with homemade dipping sauce, fried calamari, and baked haddock. A little something for everyone. My daughter and I can’t eat shellfish since we are allergic, so the lobster and the shrimp were for my husband. I didn’t realize until today that my younger son likes lobster. My husband doesn’t like salmon, so the more for me, my son, and my daughter. My daughter thinks she’s allergic to anything that has a shell because she had a bad reaction to clam chowder when she was little, so she a little apprehensive to eating the stuffed clams, oyster’s Rockefeller. The only one who eats the muscles are me, so I have them for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This isn’t something my brother and sister-in-law usually have, so it was a treat for me to cook what we all enjoy. I cooked the angle hair pasta ahead of time, and also simmered cream with basil for the pasta. We started with a caesar salad and went from there. Dessert was simple and easy (fresh strawberries, kiwis, and small vanilla cupcakes. I bought some lemon bars from one of my favorite stores (Trader Joe’s). Anything here, that shows a link will have a recipe.

Seven Fish Platter (muscles, salmon, squid scallops and bacon, haddock, shrimp, lobster). (Stuffed clams and Oysters Rockefeller)

After my long needed nap, I ran a Facebook Live session and talked about The Lavender Farm in Harwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I use this lavender, hibiscus mix to make lavender hibiscus lemonade. The recipe is right on the package. The first time I made it, it was really strong, so I diluted it a little more than the package says. The second time I used my judgement and my own taste to make it the way I wanted. I also added sliced orange pieces to make it festive looking. It’s also a great addition to a white wine or seltzer water with an extra slice of lemon, lime or orange. Then, I baked a cranberry walnut bread I haven’t made in years, and my daughter came in just in time to help me with the banana bread recipe.

The cranberry bread recipe I lost. It was in a metal container I brought over from our apartment to our house in 1993. When we had our kitchen remodeled, I put some boxes down in the basement and completely forgot where the container was. I found it recently, and was so excited because it has recipes from when I was first on my own and collected over the years. The bread recipe was from the Boston Globe Magazine – this dates back a while! It was listed under Home For The Holidays. The back of the receipt page talks about tea parties they used to have at the Harborview Lounge in the Boston Harbor Hotel every Sunday afternoon in the month of December. The recipe is worn, has food stains all over it, and it ripped on one side. It also has listed “Martha Starke’s family recipe). Maybe she was the real Martha Stewart of those days. I wonder if she is still alive. I tried to Google it, to no avail, nothing was listed.

If you’ve gotten to the bottom of this post and haven’t seen any links to the recipes, I am still working on them. Thank you for visiting. If you have subscribed, you will get a notification when the recipe is posted.


DETOX

It’s been a hellish of a week on DETOX! When I started the regimen, I thought, “Great, I have a three day weekend to start and then I’ll finish really strong during the week. when I get back to my regular routine at school.” Boy was a wrong. Afterthought: How to make the best of a DETOX when working and eating with others who aren’t on the program. Health first, clean refrigerator and cabinets, organize daily meal plan, go shopping, prepare for meals, cook meals, stay committed! Make it work! What I would change.

Health, Mind and Body First – Most programs first, tell you to consult a doctor. Well, my yearly physical was cleared, so that wasn’t an issue. The next thing was clearing out the fridge and making sure I had everything I needed for the week in order to commit to this thing (DETOX). It wasn’t easy because mostly everything in “my drawer” in the fridge is cheese. No cheese for a week, or maybe longer, Oh My! Although most programs tell you to get rid of a lot of things in the cabinets, I didn’t really clean out the cabinets. Since there are three other people in the house that cook other types of foods they like to eat, I couldn’t really do that to them. Being mindful of others in this case is really important. Afterthought: Not everyone needs to do what I need to do when it comes to a lifestyle change, and I shouldn’t expect them to. We don’t all eat the same types of foods, so why would that be necessary and/or right.

Daily Meal Plans – Next, it was about planning meals. Well, since there are three other people in the house, I wasn’t just panning for myself. My daughter is trying plant based (my son already did a while back, but it became unhealthy (in a way) for him – a story for another time). They are very independent when it comes to their meal planning, so that helps a lot. My daughter cooks a lot of her own food. My son usually hops on the our band wagon, and eats what he likes of what we cook. My husband is the same. He will eat whatever I cook. He’ll cook his vegetable, if it’s not the same as mine. He doesn’t like all the vegetables I like (Swiss chard, kale, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.). Green beans are something we both like, so I cook those a lot, even though it can get boring after a while. So meal planning can be a little more difficult on a lifestyle change. How to make it work. Afterthought: I think that a DETOX is great for single people, maybe even couples who are on the same page with their regimen. I don’t think everyone has to be on the same regimen, but it does help. So, meal planning 101 – keep it simple.

DETOX calls for a lot of little meals (Breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, evening snack).

Daily meal plans continued… DETOX regimen. Breakfast (vegetable protein, fruit). Morning Snack (fruit). DETOX regimen. Lunch (vegetables). Midday snack (vegetables). DETOX regimen. Dinner (vegetables, protein). Evening snack (vegetables). Afterthought: You really have to love vegetables! Be creative, but keep it simple. I set up my meal plans so I could at least make a few things ahead of time. Trying to keep it simple, I tried to meal plan the same things my family would eat, just not with starches and dairy. The vegetables were the hardest since they don’t eat the same. These meals were double duty.

Breakfast: using coconut oil to coat the pan, saute spinach with spices (garlic salt, thyme, salt and pepper), wilt and crack an egg on top, spread out the yolk, then flip. using coconut oil to coat the pan, saute peppers, onions, crack and egg over and then flip. I tried to have hard boiled egg, avocado, and tomato one morning, but the avocado I bought wasn’t ripe enough. Hopefully it will be ripe enough by the end of. the week.

Snacks: fruit cups: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. Pears, apples, kiwi, and bananas. I found that I needed to eat the fruit cups at the beginning of the week (berries don’t last more than three days). Most coffee shops and groceries have pre-made fruit cups.

Lunch: Back to salads. Luckily, I had my vinegar vegetables of carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and peppers pre-made. I try different lettuces (romaine, arugula, spinach, green leaf). Mix it up! I also add a few olives, oil and vinegar with lemon and herbs for dressing.

Dinner: Always a hearty vegetable (Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, baby broccoli, broccoli florets, cauliflower). These were the main veggies. Chicken soup, chicken thighs, chicken wings, filet, salmon, scallops, turkey naked tacos.

Grocery Shopping: When grocery shopping (never go when you are hungry, or when you are shopping for other people who eat bread, pasta, chips, etc.). I think this was the hardest part. Even though I don’t eat a lot of bread, chips, or pasta during the week, it looked enticing. I also found I shopped for more than what I needed for the week. Afterthought: Once I brought everting home I realized I could do two shopping trips during the week – this way things wouldn’t go bad (mainly fruit and vegetables). I find there are some vegetables that don’t last 7 days in the fridge (spinach and some lettuces).

Preparing the meals. Breakfast was prepared before work. The morning regimen I found to be the most difficult at first, but it kept getting easier during the week. Harder on the weekend, since I like to sleep in and catch up on my sleep from the week. I wake up around 5:30, 5:45, and sometimes 6:00 before work since I only drive 10 minutes to work. I have to preset my clock for the same time every day if I wanted this to work. One day I fell back asleep and woke up way beyond my regular time, but I still had enough time to follow the same regimen. Lunch I would make the night before. I bought these great containers from the store that measure two cups and also carry salads nicely. I have a lot of other containers in the house, but wanted to use containers that will always fit my lunch box, at the same time measure the food I was intaking. Dinners were easy as long as I took the meat and/or or fish out of the freezer the day before and thawed it. Salmon with guacamole, chicken soup with carrots, celery and onions, sausage with broccoli robe, filet with baby broccoli, saute chicken over salad.

Staying committed: Remember when I talked about the willpower. Well, I did really well this week. However, it wasn’t until Thursday that all things started to turn corners. In my job as a teacher, I found it really hard to stay on the regimen at school, especially since I would need to take a series of vegetable tablets thirty minutes to a forty-five minutes before each big meal. At work, setting my alarm helped, but I could’t always get away if I were in the middle of teaching a class, Even drinking water fell short by the end of the week. At times, I became so busy, I forgot to drink water during the day. I still have two more days. I will come back to let you know how much I lost.

Obstacles and Temptations!Monday was a holiday. Like I said, I started on a Sunday. I wish I had started on Saturday. It’s one of those things – MINDSET – you have to be ready. Saturday was hard because I was doing a lot of errands, I hadn’t gone grocery shopping, I knew I had a long weekend, so I postponed it for one day. I think that makes all the difference some times. Now, I had to get through the week and include Saturday in the 7-Day DETOX. Tuesday, back and school and one of the Instructional Assistance comes into the room with a box of donuts. They sure did look enticing, however I didn’t go for them. I keep to my regimen. The hardest part was sitting down to have a snack at 9:45 (that’s when the kiddo’s have their snack). However, trying to get read for Math shortened my snack break (half snack eaten). Then, remembering to set my alarm for 11:00 so I could take my 2 tablets thirty to forty-five minutes before my lunch. Well, the alarm went off, and I couldn’t get to the tablets and water, so I took them a little later. Then that prolonged the time to eat my lunch and I had to rush to eat my lunch before the next class. Oh BOY! This is getting harder. Wednesday/Thursday was a little easier. I think because I learned from what I couldn’t do on Tuesday. Everything went well this day until I got home that night. A friend gave me an eggplant. I love eggplant, but only two ways. Baba ghanoush style and eggplant Parmesan. Well, the DETOX calls for no cheese and/or tahini, but I didn’t want something to go bad that was perfectly good, and given to me. So I put it to the test. I used panic bread crumbs, almond milk, and an egg to coat. I used parmesan cheese to layer. I shared it with my husband and three other co-workers. It was really good – I did try to scrape most of the batter off when I ate it, but figured the amount I was eating wasn’t going to alter too much for the week. That was Thursday lunch. I ended up taking my daughter out for her birthday and had a sirloin with spinach for dinner.

Friday was the hardest. No will power. After a very long week at school (although stress levels weren’t that high, I felt the need for carbs). This is where it gets tough. My body feels like it needs more than just vegetables and fruit. So, how do you go from eating all the healthy stuff all week and come to craving other things. Is it really mind over matter? It is about MINDSET? Do we need to add an element of survival to our regimen? Should we have a coach who can help us and talk us through the tough times? It was hard. A free meal from parents who took the time and spent the money to make us happy on Friday made it hard to resist. I was tired from dinner out the night before, and didn’t pre-make my salad. I slept later on Friday morning; later than I normally do, so did’t have time to make it in the morning. I still made my egg with spinach though. For lunch we had catered sandwiches with chips and pasta salad. Well, I only ate the vegetables in the past salad, but had to have the chicken salad and chips. Was this going to derail the entire process of DETOX?

Saturday/Sunday: I am back on tomorrow and Sunday, so I’ll see by Monday what my weight is and continue the regimen next week. The best part of this though, is I don’t have to carry on the same morning regimen the first seven days involved.

Let me know your thoughts about DETOX?