Mix It Up a Little for the Week

I will first state that many of the recipes I use began somewhere and have been tweaked little by little to make them my own. The recipes I post here are always evolving too, so the specifics in a dish today may or may not remain the same tomorrow. Many times they vary due to the ingredients I have on hand. Another reason for switching things up is because I was simply too lazy to look it up before beginning the cooking process. So, when you see a recipe, use it as a guide, but please, don't be afraid to make it your own.

These past few weeks have been a little difficult. I've gotten sucked into the Sugary Addiction this season and it's seriously hard to break free. I've been trying to use fruit to fill the sugar desire, but as we all know, fruit can only go far. I have to try to keep my meals on point and keep myself satisfied in an attempt to curb the cravings. I'm not sure, but I think I'm at least headed in the right direction at this point.

Today in my Weight Watchers meeting, we were challenged by my leader to set a goal and write it down to make it more concrete. My goal this week is try to lose 5 of the 7 pounds that I have gained over the past 2wks. I know this may seem like a lot, but to be honest, at 3 is going to "melt" away when I finally rehydrate appropriately. The other 2 however, are going to actually require me to stay focused. With that being said, these are some of the items I've prepped for the week to make that goal a reality.

Eggs!! Yes, once again, we have boiled the eggs up. I know that now we can eat eggs without guilt, but I can't help but wonder what my blood work is going to look like in 6months when I'm sitting at my annual physical. I mean is it possible that eating 3 eggs a day, including the yolks, can actually be ok?? I'm still nervous about that, so I'm leaning towards 2 eggs and some egg whites on most days. Let me know if any of you have experienced goods or bad with increased intake though.

Fruit... we have fruit on hand. We have 3+ varieties of apples at most times and then Halos, bananas, dark sweet frozen cherries, grapes, blueberries and strawberries. The variety allows for sweet, sour, soft or crunchy. They get used in yogurt, overnight oats jars, steel cut oats bake, eaten as is, or thrown on waffle for breakfast. The possibilities are endless.

Vegetables. I love vegetables in the winter. Today, I decided to cook up some thick slab bacon and left about a tablespoon of the fat in the cast iron skillet. I threw in about 5 cups of quartered Brussel sprouts and tossed them with some salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. The fat is flavorful and I diced up 1 of slices to toss in for a little crunch. This made a very compact quart container when I was done. I can't wait to have those with my lunches.

I also used some of the bacon fat to coat another 5-6 cups of Brussels and roasted them. I love the browned and slightly charred edges and the kids an I fight over the leaves that fall to the pan and crisp up. We could seriously eat them like potato chips... mmm!

I used 2lbs of 99% lean ground chicken to make some mini meatloaves. I use my Pampered Chef Brownie pan to make them. It is so simple. I use McCormick's meatloaf packet because why reinvent the wheel? It's got a great flavor and it comes out moist (kinda) using their directions of 2eggs, 1/2cup milk (I use fat free half and half), and 1/4 cup bread crumbs. I scoop them into the pan evenly using a large cookie scoop and bake at 375degrees for 20mins. These pack away are are great for lunches, dinners, whatever.

 I found a way back cookbook from Weight Watchers when it was just "Points", back in 2005. It's "Everyone Loves Chicken" and I felt it deserved a revisit now that chicken breast is zero. I found a recipe for Chicken, Shrimp, and Kielbasa Paella. It sounded great! Sadly, I didn't have shrimp... or kielbasa... and to be honest... diced tomatoes, a green pepper, garlic cloves or green olives. Did that stop me??? Heck no!

So here is MY version... I'm calling it Chicken and Thin n' Trim Asian Chicken Sausage Paella! (I know, I might want to work on the name, but it was really good!!)

Chicken and Thin n' Trim Asian Chicken Sausage Paella
Serves 4

1lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 package Thin n' Trim Sweet Asian Chicken Sausage
1 cup chopped sweet pepper (I had a bunch of mini ones left over from a party platter... lol!)
15oz crushed tomato no sugar added
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup long grain white rice
10 kalamata olives (diced)
salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste

Cube the chicken and brown it in a skillet. Remove from the heat and add the peppers and sausage to the pan. Once this is browned and the peppers are softened, add the stock, tomatoes, rice, olives and all some of the seasonings. Bring this to a boil to get the rice cooking, then drop down to a simmer, stir, cover and cook for 15-20minutes. Be sure to check frequently and stir so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Once most of the liquid is absorbed, add the chicken back to the pan and continue to cook for 5-10mins. You can add seasoning as needed. In most cases, if it tastes like it's missing something, it needs salt. That's just my experience anyway.

Another recipe I borrowed and made my own is

Zero Point Buffalo Chicken Spread
Serves as many or little as you'd like...

2-3 cups of diced cooked chicken breast
1.5 - 2 cups of fat free plain greek yogurt (I like mine a little drier, so either use more chicken or less yogurt)
3 Tbsp Frank's Red Hot
1/2 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix

Stir it up and let set for about 30mins for the flavors to come together. This is great on rice cakes, crackers, chips, carrots or a fork!! lol

Sweet Dark Cherry Steel Cut Oats Bake
Serves 6

1.5 Cups of steel cut oats
2.5 cups of water
24 oz of Sweet Dark Frozen Cherries
2 packets of splenda (you can use any sweetner, or none at all... it's up to you)
2 tsp of almond extract

Stir and cook for 8hrs in the crockpot. This is an awesome breakfast heated the microwave, especially with a scoop of yogurt or a drizzle of warmed berries on top.

Now, another that came up in the meeting was back to basics. I freaking love this concept!!! What did I do to make it this far?? I think I've forgotten because I got cocky. I got to the point where I could get away with tracking for a few days, but I was active enough to still lose. Well, it's winter, it's cold and I've started teaching in the classroom half my day instead playing in the gym. I've been struggling.

Some of my must haves:

Zero: chopped fruit or veggies, frozen grapes, seltzer, cooked shrimp, hard boiled egg, Edamame heated and sprinkled with a little salt. 
     BONUS: chop apples, throw in small pot with a little water and cinnamon and cook on low. The sugar from the apples mix with the cinnamon for a caramel... Tastes like a dessert! Add a serving of reddi whip for 1sp 

1sp: PB2 in banana or carrots or celery, 1 TBSP hummus or laughing cow cheese on veggies, light cheese sticks, premium cut jerky sticks, 5oz Oscar Meyer deli select ham, turkey or chicken, 1 no sugar fudgicle, quest protein shake, Hershey kiss, 4 mini meringue cookies.

2sp: Dannon light n fit Greek yogurt, 1/4 dry oats (heat with water and add fruit), rice rollers, 1plain rice cake (or 2 thin rice cakes!) with PB2 and banana slices, 3/4cup plain Cheerios.

Let me know what your must haves are!!! I'm always looking for some new ideas :)


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