Even as an enthusiastic cook, I sometimes need a break. I don’t want to halt my weight loss journey, just ease up on some of the effort and time needed for meal planning and preparation. Fatigue and excess stress can lead to bad food choices, I know. I have to avoid this. Ways to simplify meal prep and planning is this week’s topic. But first things first – see my week’s weight change below.
Week 4 Weight Change: + 0.6 lbs ( + 0.27 kg)
Cumulative Weight Change (Weeks 1 -4): – 5.6 lbs ( – 2.53 kg)
Exercise: My exercise fell short of goal this week. I have no good excuses. In fact, I think the reduction even negatively affected my mood.
Week’s Observations/Thoughts: It’s definitely not pleasant to see a gain, especially when sticking to the plan almost perfectly. My only explanation for this is female hormonal stuff. That will pass. I believe that as long as I stick to my plan, and up my exercise again, good results should return.
This week, I decided to make enough servings of some dishes for at least two separate meals. Leftovers can be my friends, especially when my cooking enthusiasm wanes or I’m busy with little time to cook. It is important that eat proper portion sizes, though, so leftovers are enough for whole second meals.
I still find home cooked meals best for accurate tracking and calorie reduction, but there are store-made items I sometimes buy to save steps. Rotisserie and grilled chicken are the best examples. I am also a big fan of ham steaks, which are usually low calorie. Nowadays, some markets sell “health salad” or similar vegetable-based salads, with little or no mayonnaise. Some store-bought soups (without cream) combined with a small chunk of bread and cold cut can be plenty for me, on a week night. Sushi rolls are a great treat, and often low calorie. My local Chinese restaurant sells steamed vegetable and meat dishes that can be accompanied by a low-calorie brown sauce. Even my local pizzeria offers entree type salad options, but I must be mindful of the salad dressing calories.
I often make elaborate recipes, but I have accumulated plenty of 30-minute meal ideas. Also, some entrees are pretty “hands off”. Though simple, a nice roasted chicken breast or baked fish with lemon and herbs (I love herbs) or other topping, can hit the spot. Five minutes prep while the oven heats, then shove it in and wait (doing something else, or relaxing, in the meantime).
Interim goal: Unfortunately, I must go back to my previous interim goal, because of my slight weight gain. That is to get into the next lower 10-lb weight bracket. Last week I met that interim goal only by a hair. I’m above that again, but by a hair. I’ll work hard this week to meet the interim goal again, but more solidly.
Lovage Soup – Many in the US have never seen or tasted the perennial herb lovage (levisticum officinale), but it is known throughout much of Europe. My Czech husband’s favorite herb, its flavor is a cross between celery and parsley. The whole plant is edible, from the root to the leaves. In my lovage soup recipe here, I use both the leaves and stems, along with various root vegetables. It can be made vegetarian, using vegetable instead of chicken broth, or even vegan, by also omitting the optional milk/cream. We found a lovage plant at our local garden center in New Jersey. We planted it in our garden over 10 years ago, and it still comes up strong every spring.
Frozen Yogurt Bark (with fruit and nuts) – I discovered yogurt bark a few years ago. It’s an easy to make lower calorie substitute for ice cream, that can be made to taste. My favorite version uses low fat plain yogurt, a little honey, vanilla extract, mix of frozen wild blueberries and chopped fresh strawberries, and chopped pan roasted almonds. I based mine on the Stonyfield Organic recipe you can find here. Once frozen, just break into pieces and enjoy a few at a time.
Herb Rubbed Steak with Peperonata – My husband and I loved the peperonata side with the delicious steak we first marinated with herbs, then grilled. The key to making this bon appétit recipe (click here) lower calorie is to reduce the amount of oil used (it really doesn’t need that much), and the portion size of the steak. Let’s be real about proper portion sizes! Click here, and see that the website verywellfit indicates a serving of steak to be 3 oz (85 grams). That’s less than half what the recipe indicates. As for the oil, I reduced that in my peperonata, again by half of the recipe amount. When a recipe is so delicious, a real serving can be savored mindfully, and be sufficient. Add a healthy portion of an extra veggie side (i.e. steamed green beans or broccoli) and a bit of rice, and it should be plenty. If you really want more meat, plan ahead to save calories and fat for it. Always be sure to trim the extra fat. A good non-stick pan, grill, or seasoned cast iron skillet makes cutting fat easy.
Approach: Beyond exercise, my weight loss approach is based on a Mediterranean style diet and a former Weight Watchers diet called the “Core Plan”, which includes lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, pulses and legumes, lean proteins, low fat or fat free dairy products, small amount of healthy fats (i.e. olive, canola, avocado), and extremely limited amounts of refined sugars. I am also using MyFitnessPal (MFP) to track my foods consumed, and provide guidance on a daily calorie, carbohydrate, fat, protein, and salt intake.
See you next Friday!