Monday, November 25, 2013

Meal Planning Monday

Last week was a start, but it wasn't my best.

I made a huge batch of crock-pot vegetable soup, but it wasn't so good.  I figured out I'm not a fan of pinto beans.  I made the tuna sandwiches for lunch but that's as far as my cooking skills went last week.  We ate out several nights, and we had my family's Thanksgiving as well.

Something I also realized- I'm not in the mood to cook in less the kitchen is sparkling clean.
So my goal this week is to keep the kitchen spotless and let it be the heart of the home.

So this week looks pretty similar to last. ha!

Chicken Pot Pie x 2 (freeze one)
Healthy Tuna Salad
Grilled Salmon w/mango salsa and quinto (x2)
Pineapple BBQ Chicken, asparagus & salad
Mexican Burritos

For Joel's family's Thanksgiving I decided on shrimp cocktail, my Dad's famous cheesecake and Paula Dean's corn casserole (which I'm doubling because a lot of reviewers said it comes out thin.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

no regrets

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents house.

It's same as every year, the same house I was brought home to after I was born... the house I've known all my life.  Tall ceilings, large dark wood molding around the doorways and room after room... the Holidays wouldn't feel so warm if it were anywhere else.

Over the years the house has grown smaller, but the noises and the people have grown louder and larger.  I try to remember to be present and enjoy the time together.

Today my Grandpa walked up to me and thanked me for coming to the hospital in the middle of the night a few weeks ago when he had a heart attack.  I know it took a lot for him to come up to me and say that.  Not because the words were hard to say, but because I know he's still not feeling his best, and when we're altogether it's very overwhelming.  It had to have been on his mind.

And looking back, I wish I could have just thought for a beat before responding to him right away.  I know I said something like I know you would have done the same for me and I'd do it again... I don't think I would have changed what I said, but in the manner in which I said it.

I said it in a way like it wasn't a big deal, but it was a big deal- for all of us.  We thought he was dying.  I wish I would have given him a hug instead of staying seated like I did.

I don't want to be that person who feels she needs to fill the gaps of silence.
I want to take my time.
I want to soak in the message and response in a way that leaves no regrets.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Is this jar full?

I've been researching the habits of people who are on-time and get things done, because somewhere along the way I missed a few beats.  I'm re-learning what it means to use time wisely, and how to prioritize my day. 

I read a story recently on an awesome blog post, and I wanted to share it here... maybe someone else could benefit from it like I have.  She's also got a lot of advice and resources for managing time. 

There was a teacher who held up a jar to his students.  
It was empty. 

He put a bunch of large rocks inside up to the top. 
He asked if was full.

When the students said yes, he put poured a bunch of small pieces of sea shells inside and they fell between the rocks.
He asked then if it was now full.  Quiet, the students watched. 

Then he poured sand inside that filled all the empty spaces.

He asked again if the jar was now full. 

Then he took a glass of water and poured it inside until it reached the top of the jar. 

"Now it's full," he said. 

He told the students that the jar represented time, and managing that time.  

He said the large rocks represented the large tasks in our life that matter most, and the seashells the smaller, the sand even smaller and the water was the smallest, least important task in our day.  

He said if he were to fill the jar first with water, nothing else would fit, and it's the same with our daily list.  Start with the big and move to the small.  So that at the end of the day, even if you only accomplish one thing, you've done a lot.

When we start small it's easy to get pulled into another smaller task that takes more of our energy away and before we know the time or the energy is gone for the largest, most important things on our list. 

Make a list of the things most important things to you, now focus your daily list on that.  It's amazing what you'll get done. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meal Planning Monday

I can't remember the last thing I cooked.  

A year ago, I was that person who only ate out once every two weeks. 
I always cooked at home. 
I was happy.  
Everything in my life just seemed to fall into it's right place... that is, when I was healthy. 

I had gestational diabetes with Jude.  I got super healthy and the day I had him, I weighted the exact amount the day I found out I was pregnant.  Basically I had lost somewhere in the 40lb range while being pregnant and getting healthy.  My midwives joked I was the poster child for a pregnant mother with gestational diabetes, praising me and my hard efforts.  I ate fruits and vegetables at every meal, carried a water bottle with me everywhere I went, and I ate two healthy snacks a day.  I counted my carbs and checked my blood sugar 4x a day. 

But then I pushed hard for tests to confirm if I still had diabetes after I had Jude.  I had this nagging feeling that it hadn't gone away.  The tests were done and advice was given to eat a different kind of diet.  To add more carbs back in or I could "go the other way."  This advice was not given by my midwives.  And anyone who has studied nutrition knows that the diet I was on- was very healthy, diabetes or not.  I took the advice and used as an excuse to go back to my old habits. 

My old habits meant that I didn't have to stress at family get-togethers, I could eat that piece of cake at the wedding and I could go to my favorite restaurants with Joel again.  My Dad shows his love with food, and I was happy to welcome that back into my life as well.  I didn't have to plan anymore! 

But with my change in lifestyle, I put the weight back on and then some.  I lost all that crazy energy I had, along with a huge chunk of my happiness. 

Planning your lifestyle isn't glamorous, but if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Here's my meal planning efforts for the next two weeks.
I'm going to take the new recipes slow, and stick with simple foods as much as possible. 

Healthy Tuna Salad (buy enough ingredient to make a batch each week)
Chicken Pot Pie x 2 (freeze one: to freeze wrap in foil, then plastic wrap, do not thaw & bake frozen)
Grilled Salmon w/mango salsa x 2 (I'm trying to get more fish into our diet)
Pineapple BBQ grilled chicken breasts, grilled asparagus & salad
Chicken Mexican Burritos, served with salsa and a dash of sour cream x 2 (we are a Mexican food loving family)

I freeze a bunch of veggies in individual baggies so when I go to make an omelet all I have to grab is the eggs and cheese. 
We eat a lot of fruit for breakfast too. 
I don't buy cereal, it's full of sugar, and it doesn't give my kids a good start. 
Jack is only allowed to drink juice during breakfast. 
Jack is also in love with Greek yogurt, sometimes I add a little granola to it. 

This is where the tuna salad comes in handy with 100% whole wheat bread (if you're not buying 100%, then it's not 100% whole wheat!) and I usually eat a salad with lots of nuts.  Jack loves salads so he does the same, I usually give him half a sandwich and a bit of fruit too.  I'm going to try to grill a couple chicken breasts to use during the week for salads to mix it up. 

I always try to have fresh fruit available for the boys- apples, bananas, grapes, etc.  I also keep cheese sticks and cashews available. 

Last minute meals: 
I once read it's good to have a few last minute freezer meals ready for those nights when you're just too tired.  For awhile, I was buying those meals, but I'm hoping to freeze a few so it's a healthy option for our family and more cost efficient.  I plan to freeze half the soup above and also a pot pie, two meals for the next week that will be easy on me.

The Holidays:
With thanksgiving next week, I've been thinking a lot about what I'm bringing.  I'd like to have a salad before I dig into all the goodness, but I know it's frowned upon to be the salad bringer or raw veggie giver, ha!  But I might just do it anyways.  Might try to present it in a creative way and put it out early so while everyone is waiting to eat they can munch on healthy stuff. 

Below is the new salmon recipe, I hope the boys like it... they're not huge fans of the current way I grill salmon, they do however love the brown sugar, walnut covered recipe I made awhile back. 

Do you meal plan?  What is your family's favorite? 

*New Recipes: 
Grilled Salmon with mango salsa
2 Tbsp truvia 
1 1/2 tsp orange zest   
3/4 tsp table salt   
1/4 tsp ground red pepper   
1 1/2 pound(s) uncooked salmon fillet(s) with or without skin, four 6-oz pieces   
  2 small mango(es), peeled and diced (about 2 cups)   
1/4 cup(s) unsweetened orange juice   
  2 Tbsp (chopped) uncooked red onion(s), chopped   
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped   
1 Tbsp ginger root, peeled and minced   
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice   
  1 small jalapeƱo pepper(s), seeded and minced   
1 spray(s) cooking spray   

Combine first 4 ingredients; rub mixture over salmon. Place salmon in a shallow dish; cover and marinate 8 hours or overnight.

Combine mango and next 6 ingredients in a medium bowl; cover and chill 1 hour.

Prepare grill.

Place fish on grill rack coated with cooking spray; cover and grill 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with mango salsa. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and 1⁄2 cup salsa).
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