Summer Salad Doldrums Solved, Out of the Blue!

Blue Diamond that is! One of the cues that summer is here for me is the wealth of fresh produce finally available. Most people that know me know my weekend routine used to be to hit the Farmers Market on Saturday and load up my car with all kinds of fresh goodies to last all week. Now I am out and about most of Saturday so it makes less sense to load up on a ton of things to get sad and soggy in my car all day.
There are some things that are just fine in my cooler bag all day long, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, heartier veggies, but now I am a twice a week farmers market girl, and I supplement that with lots of salad fixins from a variety of places. I am not a slave to any one market. I shop everywhere from Whole Foods, to Trader Joes, Costco to Target, I even pick things up at the local gas station (Kwik Trip) where I can score bananas for $.38/Pound!

One of the things that happens to be during the summer though is that I fall into a salad rut. I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, or maybe it’s just me. I can only stomach the same food for so long and then I don’t want to even think about it again. The problem is, I live in Minnesota… and if the winter that we just escaped is any indication of what we are in for in the future… I need to take full advantage of every morsel of fresh, beautiful flavorful produce while it is here. The seasons are never long enough, and I always no matter how sick I was of eating something find myself longing for just one more good *whatever* come winter. It’s usually a good summer tomato, with just a pinch of salt and pepper on it.

So I have taken to trying to keep my salads as interesting as possible… Impossible right? Sure it’s super easy to make a salad taste good if you add a a few ounces of of cheese, and maybe some croutons, or wonton strips those are popular now. How about meat… if some is good lets put more on! So instead of 4 oz of chicken let’s do 3oz of chicken, 3 of ham, and we need bacon right, and while we’re at it an egg. You might as well deep fry chicken fingers and go ahead and pour on some full fat salad dressing because you aren’t actually doing yourself any favors.

To make salads that I find interesting I usually play my own version of kitchen roulette.  I start with a bed of some kind of green.  Generally this is NOT iceberg, I personally feel if you are going to eat a salad iceberg is a waste of time.  If it’s what you like FINE eat it… you’re getting water, and that’s great, but try branching out to a romaine if you like a crisper lettuce, or a butter lettuce if you like something softer.  Spinach also makes a great salad base.  I also have been known to use Kale, Mixed greens, micro greens, it all depends on what looks good and what I have. I eat a lot of salads… Sometimes they have fruit… sometimes they have bacon… and sometimes they are NUTS! (Here are a few examples)

UpTown Cafeteria My Salad with Bacon

Sometimes I Custom Order Salads when I am Out to Brunch

 

Salad wiht Blueberries and Strawberries in need of Almonds

And sometimes we put fruit in our salads (this had cheese and Blue Diamond Almonds on the side!)

 

Once the greens are in play I have to decide what mouth feel I want for the salad. Blue Diamond’s Tastemakers program sent me a package with their Whole Natural and their Rosemary & Black Pepper to experiment with.  I knew I needed to choose ingredients that could stand up to a bolder flavor.  Rosemary is an intense flavor, I rarely cook with it because if you aren’t careful it is super easy to overseason with it.  Then you end up with Christmas Tree Chicken instead of Rosemary Chicken.

Salad with Blue Diamond  Rosemary & Black Pepper AlmondsFor this salad I chose to use a butter lettuce, which is a more tender lettuce,  but would balance well with the crunch of the almonds.  I added some avocado, turkey, olives, red peppers, onions, snow peas, banana peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers to this monster sized salad! The items I chose to add provided a good balance of textures as well as colors to the salad. I topped it off with a sprinkling of the Blue Diamond Black Pepper Rosemary Almonds, as well as a few of the Whole Naturals instead of using croutons.

The salad filled my stomach up so well.  I stayed satisfied for hours thanks to the healthy balance of fat and protein, not to mention the carbohydrate that mixed together by pairing these almonds with my salad.

I posted about this salad on my Instagram account, and posed the question to my friends, and now I want to hear from you as well… what do you put on your salad?  The one I mentioned above required no salad dressing.  The density of flavors from the avocado and the tenderness of the lettuce, and juices from the ripe summer veggies meant I did not need to add anything more.  Have you ever added Blue Diamond almonds to your salad?  I had previously added the Salt and Vinegar variety to salads, instead of adding my usual oil and vinegar dressing but I really enjoyed the change that the Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds brought to the dish.

handfull of blue diamond whole natural almonds

And remember… generally about 23 almonds is a serving… you don’t need to have a whole serving to top your salad… you can put a small handful on a cutting board and sliver or chop them down to feel that same satisfying crunch for far fewer calories or points.

 

 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds They sent me a 6oz can of Whole Natural almonds and a 6oz can of Rosemary & Black Pepper almonds and I ate them! THEY aren’t paying for my opinions, these are my thoughts. 🙂

Weekend Struggle

What is it about the weekend that just seems to make it so damn easy to stop doing what you know works so well for yourself?  For me I find that it is so easy for me to skip drinking the proper amount of water that needs to be consumed.  I will drink my coffee, and grab a coke zero or a diet root beer when I feel “the thirst” finally hit me.  I am not being proactive about my healthy habits.

My Plant nanny nags me, give me a drink and get one for yourself.  I look at my water bottle and think, It’ll be okay I drink enough.  I have my activity level set as sedentary because realistically I can’t keep up with over 200 ounces of water a day which is what it recommends for my body weight.

I want to be healthy, I want to live balanced.  I don’t however want to spend my entire day in the bathroom.  Saturdays and Sundays are in my mind supposed to be spent relaxing.  The darkness of a movie theater is the best place to be on a hot day.  Sipping on a cold soda shoveling handfuls of salty buttery hot fresh popcorn into your houth in the dark is how I wish I could spend every spare moment of my life.  It can be animated, horror, action the genre matters not, I love the feeling of it… despite people on their cell phones… and I will get up and tell you to get off your phone.  I have been the person to have people ejected from a theater, I have also been the person to tell my own friends to put their phones away.  (I know buzzkill)  This isn’t about movies though.  This is about choices.

Monday morning I didn’t attend my normal Aquatic Bootcamp at work because it was a holiday for me.  Opening Day is a bit of a big deal where I work now and we had the day off to watch the game.  I woke up, got myself a good breakfast at home, and made my way to one of the gyms closer to my home.  There was a shallow water aerobics class I was going to take.  It was, unchallenging.  I pushed myself as much as I could but I felt that the workout was just not sufficient.  While this was a victory of sorts, showing me that I am not as bad off physically as I have built myself to be in my mind, this was supposed to be my activity for the day.

Wednesday morning I arrived to my normal Aquatic Bootcamp class to find that the instructor wasn’t going to be there.  She was sick.  I was faced with a choice, stay and workout or go to work early/get coffee etc.  I stayed.  Others played waterball/volleyball in the pool, I grabbed the water barbells and worked it out.  I did my best to get a workout that felt comparable to what I was missing. However when I honestly look at it I felt a little defeated having not been “worked out” by an instructor.

Friday we had another “weather event” straight out of hell. If hell were made of ice and snow.  I set my alarm early, 5:30, and I still didn’t make it to class at 07:00.  It was 07:30 by the time I made it to the area where I work.  It was a very tough commute.  I felt defeated that I didn’t make it to the gym three times.  I did however keep my water and food on track.

Friday night I went out to dinner with Robb to celebrate his birthday a little early.  We had steaks, and I chose a sweet potato and veggies over some of the naughtier things on the menu.  I ate all of my allotted food yesterday.  I drank all the waters.

As I was in bed last night I found myself looking at all the possible pool workouts for the weekend.  Pickings are slim for sure.  Lots of kids in swim lessons on weekend mornings. I suppose it makes sense, but it is disheartening.  Then there was a glimmer of hope.  A location not too far away, 08:15 Aqua Zumba.

Visions of the fun from Fitbloggin danced in my head as I drifted off to sleep thinking about Zumba, and the ease on the joints the water provided.  At 08:00 this morning my keycard was scanned in at the gym.  I owed it to myself.  I missed a workout.  This wasn’t a makeup workout, this is the beginning of a new relationship with my body.  I am working so hard on ending the cycle of self hate that exists in myself.  Working to end the train that you’re not good enough parade that goes through my head.

I am choosing to focus on one thing at a time that I can change within a day.  I won’t be the same thing each day, and may not be the whole thing each day.  Right now I know that I struggle to drink enough water when I am doing “other” things.  That has to stop.  Water before coffee on weekends will be mandatory.  Slowly I am learning how to take care of myself, by listening.  Are you listening to your body? Is there something you are doing during the week that you aren’t doing on the weekend that might be leading to self sabotage?

 

 

Slow and Steady 28 Days.

28 Days Later… sounds like a story of rehab, or an addict right?  4 weeks have passed since I started on Nutrisystem.  I am still alive, I have not quit.  I have not found it particularly difficult to stay on plan.

While I do miss the endless hours I used to have cooking, prepping, basically having a huge romantic relationship with my food, this is good therapy for me.  I still have to do some work in the kitchen.  I add food to my meals, you need to.  I am still pressed for time and do things like add yogurt or a hardboiled egg as my protein most of the time but when it comes to adding veggies, I get to show my love for myself with them.  I get to chop and saute, steam and prep them as I would have before.  I don’t just slop things on a plate, or pop them in the microwave.  After all this is still about more than just food right?  This is about a lifelong relationship with food and how it effects everything in life.

I am working to become more aware of all things related to what is going on.  What triggers me to want to eat, is it emotional, physical, is it the taste of something, a smell, is it just the sight of something that I can’t handle?  Hedonic hunger was something that spoke about at weight watchers, meaning it isn’t about will power, and I believe very strongly that this is true. Chemically there is too much going on in bodies for us to be able to deny something our hormones chemically are telling us to want.

So how has it been going otherwise? Pretty well, I am back on antibiotics, for another sinus infection, which i suspect is actually bronchitis :/ I have a CT scheduled for the 19th followed immediately by a consult with the ENT specialist that I have been seeing. So I am currently on activity restrictions which makes me anxious. I had just gotten back into a routine/rhythm that was working for me at the gym. It feels like every time I get into a patterns the rug gets pulled out from under me. I won’t let it stop me, I finish the meds next Saturday, which means Sunday morning I am coming for you Gym! YOU HEAR THAT!!!! I don’t however know how my body is going to handle all the antibiotics, steroids, and cough meds currently being thrown at it.

I weigh in once a week, Tuesday nights, in my kitchen. I thought about making it some morning, before I ate, before I did anything the problem is that if I weigh in up, and I can’t get my head out of that crud it was a bad week spot then my whole day would be shite! I don’t need that.

According to my calculations I lost 11.5 pounds from my Aug 12th weigh in to my Sept 3rd weigh in. I received my new box of food in the mail this week, first part on Wednesday, second box (frozen on dry ice) on Thursday and in the box on Wednesday was something called a Nutribear!

Nutribear 10 pound Loss

Nutribear 10 pounds!

10 Pound

Number 10

I love that there are cute rewards for having lost weight with the system. It makes it feel a little less alone, and a little more like a community. He is about the size of any beanie baby. I am not sure what I am going to do with him yet, right now he is sitting next to my bed.
I never made it through any of Weight Watchers things long enough to get any real bling. I got the 16 week stay an succeed hands, I got that danged 5% reward sticker a few times… up down up down…. it just wasn’t the right program for me. I did a 5k but never got the bling. It isn’t really about the rewards, but it is nice to have something saying hey good job right? Maybe? …

So uhm, I went to another PriorFatGirl #OBOS meeting this weekend. I am sure you are wondering why I bothered if I am on Nutrisystem right? Well we all know I won’t be eating out of a box forever. I had a great time hearing about #PFC Protein Fat and Carbs. It is basically how I ate before I took my fulltime job, which is awesome! Cassie talked about how EATING FAT WILL NOT MAKE YOU FAT!!! Something I have known for ages. She encouraged the attendees to eat real food, like butter, cream, cheese, whole veggies and fruits, meat, eggs, and nuts. Eating a combination of protein fats and carbohydrates at each meal keeps your blood glucose levels stable. It was pretty much a flashback to the early 90’s for me actually when I was learning about how to help manage my brothers diabetes (not type2) in getting him through the night with a stable balanced sugar level by putting enough fat with the carbs to keep things from spiking too fast and how the body breaks down protein slower and it helps regulate sugar levels.
It made me want to go back to school for nutrition… alas time and money are always factors. 😦 It was so great to see familiar faces, and new ones too. I was pleased to have gotten to stay for the full event this time. I poked my head in on the last one, which happened to be on the wedding day of a dear friend, when I had many many tasks on my plate. It was just not good timing.
It served once again as a good reminder that it takes time to get to where we all want to be. It is important to remember nothing is forever, and we all need to do what we need to do when we need to do it and with what we have.

A new week is about to start and I am doing what I can. Prepping what I can in advance, making the best choices for myself and reminding myself everyday that I am worth more than I think I am. It isn’t about Ego, it is about appreciation of self.