Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunday Funday

With only 28 days, February is the shortest month of the year. However, this year it has felt like it has taken an eternity to pass.  While most expect cold weather during February, few could honestly say they can remember a month like we just had.  Words like Polar Vortex and Arctic Plunge were used with great regularity on the local news and weather broadcasts. Temperatures dropped so low for so long, that when it finally climbed back above the negative digits and into the low teens, I found myself walking around outside in short sleeves thinking that I was comfortable.  And while I don’t normally mind riding in the cold, this year I have been hard pressed to venture outdoors with great regularity.  As much as I hate my indoor trainer, more than once, I passed on the opportunity to ride outside, opting instead for another boring session in front of the television.

But it is now March and hopefully we are turning the corner on winter and looking spring straight in the eyes.  If nothing else, I took great pleasure in flipping up a new page on my weigh in calendar.   For whatever reason, I like seeing all the blank squares waiting for me to put my daily weight in the block.  Recently, I have had a couple setbacks because I started doing Beachbody’s Focus T-25 and was literally unable to walk for a few days.  But I am back to feeling good again and looking forward to more positive changes.  I started by cooking and packaging all my lunches for the week today. I tried to come up with a menu that was based on the 90/10 nutrional program and I am excited to see what kind of progress I make this week in the weight  loss department. 

The first thing I did was put a big kettle of water on the stove to start it boiling. Just plain water in a big stock pot.  I do this frequently when I am preparing large quantities of food because I can put the hot water into other pots and pans and not have to wait for the water to come to a boil to cook the veggies, rice, mashed potatoes, etc. Nothing takes longer to boil than a watched pot.

So once I got the water going, I turned the oven up to 400 and then set about preparing to make meatloaf.  Since I am trying to eat healthier, I opted for ground turkey. I put it in a mixing bowl, added some whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs, 2 eggs, fresh ground sea salt, and fresh ground spicy garlic seasoning. I also through in about a half packet of brown gravy seasoning that was just sitting in the cabinet, leftover from a previous meal.

When I put the meatloaf into the oven, I also through in a marinated pork tenderloin I had bought from the grocery store. They are simple, tasty, and relatively inexpensive, and I really love pork, even if it isn’t on the green or yellow lists for 90/10.

The tenderloin took about 20 minutes and the meatloaf took about 35. I always use a meat thermometer to be safe… Pork cooked to an internal temperature of 140 and the turkey meatloaf to 165.

As those were cooking,  I transferred some of the water out of the stock pot into a sauce pan and prepared to boil my sugar peas.  I don’t know what it is about peas, but I love them.

One of the dangers of cooking meals in advance is that when you reheat them, you often over cook the foods or dry them out. To prevent this, I always cook my veggies so that they are just short of being done and then shock them in cold water to stop the cooking process.  That way when they get microwaved, they are cooked to perfection!

More water out of the stock pot to make regular peas. (told you I like peas)

Next up was the fresh asparagus, my favorite veggie.  I washed them off, cut a couple inches off the stalks, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt, spicy garlic seasoning, and some parmesean cheese.

I threw those into the oven to bake for 12 minutes.  You would not believe how good the meatloaf and pork tenderloin were smelling with the oven door open.

More of the hot water was transferred into the sauce pan and I put 2 packets of leftover chicken seasoning from Ramen Noodles that were long since eaten by Mackenzie, the Noodle Monster.  I added the brown rice and let it simmer for 30 minutes until it was tender.

While the rice was cooking the pork loin finished so I pulled it out and sliced it into 1/2” thick pieces to help it cool off and not dry out as quickly.

I had some frozen salmon fillets so I through them on a sheet pan and baked them.  Make sure you look for “wild caught” if you buy salmon. Farm raised salmon tends to be higher in a lot of chemicals that aren’t good for you.
 started to crop this photo to take out my feet but then decided against it to show off my Swiftwicks!
Turkey Meatloaf’s internal temperature hit 160 and I set that aside to cool and then slice. Presumably because there is no fat in the turkey meat, it can be a bit difficult to serve without it breaking apart, so letting the meat cool and set up helps keep things looking pretty.  The old adage that you “eat with your eyes” is very true.

In the leftover boiling water in the stock pot, I through in 2 pounds of whole wheat rotini. I cooked it to al dente, poured it into a colander, and put that in an ice bath to stop the cooking.  Once cooled, I split the pasta in half, setting half aside (plain) for Mackdiddles to snack on) and thoroughly drained the water, opened a can of Italian diced tomatoes, added some parmesan cheese, and tossed everything together.

I grilled a few chicken breasts and cubed them once cooked. Then I sautéed some thick sliced zucchini, added the cooked chicken, and tossed that with some Asian Spicy Orange sauce. Then to make things a little different, grated some fresh ginger in and heated it through. 

Then I started putting the meals into plastic containers to make “packing” our lunches simple and easy.

Top: Salmon with asparagus and brown rice. Pork tenderloin with whole wheat pasta and snow peas. Chicken and zuchini in a spicy orange and ginger sauce over brown rice. And turkey meatloaf over more whole wheat pasta with diced tomatoes. (regular peas made it on the plate for dinner)
Here’s to a week of great lunches without the worry of spending too much or eating too many calories. I weighed in this morning at 227 pounds and I will try to remember to post an update on Saturday with my weight loss for the week.