Tag Archives: nutrition

Homemade Pasta Sauce (Tomato based)

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Easy peasy lemon squeezy…as the kid in the movie last night said.

The other night I had a craving for pasta, but no sauce in the house. Then I took a second look at what I did have in the cupboards and realized I could throw together my own sauce.

A can of diced tomatoes (sadly there are not enough ripe tomatoes on the plants yet for sauce, but that day is coming quickly!) with the juice, a can of tomato paste, two cans of sliced mushrooms with the juice, and a scoop of minced garlic (to taste – you can use fresh garlic, however I had a had of prepared garlic on hand) – dump it all in a large pan and heat it up. Season with thyme, basil, oregano, etc. Whatever floats your boat in that category…I used an Italian herb mix I had on hand and then tossed in some fresh thyme from the garden. Add water as needed to get the right consistency and voilà! Tomato based pasta sauce.

Next time I am going to add red pepper flakes to it.

To beef up the sauce for a meal I added a zucchini, yellow summer squash, and some chicken andouille sausage. Then I topped it all off with some fresh shaved parmesan Reggiano.

It was darn tasty if I do say so…I need to work on adjusting the seasonings a bit, but that is all personal preference in my book. And it definitely would have been better with garden fresh tomatoes. The major up-side to throwing together your own sauce is the lack of unnecessary additions to the recipe. No oils, no extra fats, no added sugars.

Oh yeah, and it made fabulous left-overs. I might just have the last of it for lunch!

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One last thought about food…for now

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Read the Label: This always seems like common sense to me, but I realize that I am not always that good about doing this. If you don’t already read labels on packaged foods you might be surprised at what gets crammed into the most innocuous of items. That can of green beans might not be just beans. Most pre-packaged foods need to be preserved for longer shelf-life. That usually means lots of additives, sometimes chemical, sometimes natural, almost always with insane amounts of salt. And then there is the other random garbage that I struggle to understand why the makers thought it belonged in that particular package. Case in point: take a look at what is in those flavored coffee creamers in the grocer’s cooler (or better yet, at what is in the “original” non-flavored ones). And now you know why I stick to plain old organic half and half to put in my morning caffeine fix. I’d rather intake a little more fat from a natural source than drink all the garbage in those creamers just to cut a few fat calories…and with the added sugar in those creamers, I probably still come out ahead with the half and half. Hmmm…now I am going to have to go test that theory. And if I am realllllllly trying to be good and cut the fat, then I use non-fat organic milk.

Ice cream. That’s another one that sneaks in all kinds of crazy stuff. Whatever happened to just freezing some milk, sugar, cream and flavors? Maybe include eggs of it is custard based. Thank goodness Haagen-Dazs has come out with a line called ‘Five‘ – just five ingredients. You don’t get all the crazy fancy flavors, but it is pretty darn good for store-bought ice cream.

And bread…since when does bread need so many ingredients? Call me old-fashioned, but I love me some basic crusty, yeasty bread.

Juices! Check those labels for sure. Especially anything that indicates it is “flavored”. While I don’t prefer juice that comes from concentrate, I am OK with that. It is the ones that only end up having a small amount of real juice in the beverage and then a ton of other stuff.

At any rate, there are some pretty decent pre-packaged food options out there for people like me who have a life where it isn’t always feasible to keep fresh foods on-hand. You just have to read a lot of labels to find them. My goal with pre-packaged foods is to be able to pronounce the majority of the items on the label and understand (at a very high level) what all the items are.

Food Stuff

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Recently I have seen lots of random postings and articles about food, eating, dieting…you name it. I overhear conversations about diets folks are on. My trainer even gives me random tid-bits of advice about nutrition. All of it has made me once again take a look at my views on food and nutrition. My journey is an adventure to get healthy. In the process I expect to lose some weight (a lot of weight, actually) and get much, much more fit than I am. But neither of those things is my end goal. My end goal is to feel good and some crazy diet isn’t going to do that for me. So here’s my take on food:

Buy Local: I don’t take this to any extremes, but I do have a small garden. I shop at the local farmer’s market, and I try to buy foods that come from my state/region if not from right down the road. Does this mean I never buy exotic fruits or veggies that don’t grow around here? Heck no! Some of that stuff is mighty, mighty tasty and I want it.

Organic: Let me be clear – I do not think organic foods are more nutritious than traditionally grown foods (this seems to be the basis for many arguments around organic foods which makes absolutely no sense to me). That being said, I try to buy organic foods when possible to avoid ingesting any more chemicals than I already do. With meats and eggs I try to buy free range and grass-fed. This is where the local farmer’s market comes into play – you can talk to the people who raise the food. Find out what their practices are. Just because they are not certified organic does not mean that they don’t have the same or higher standards. Getting certified is expensive and a general pain and many smaller farms simply can’t or don’t want to go through the process.

Eat Real Food: I have heard variations on this in “diet” form that go to some extremes (paleo diets, eating “clean”, biblical diets, etc.). The gist of all of them, though, is to eat real, whole foods and remove processed “fake” foods. The second part to this is don’t kill your food cooking it. Overcooked food loses nutritional value not to mention it just tastes yucky. I try to avoid fried foods. Again, am I always very good at it? I live in the South…eating fried foods is nearly unavoidable, but I try to keep it to a very bare minimum. (I mean seriously, have you ever had a deep-fried Twinkie??? Nutritional value: zero. Taste value: off the charts!)

General Nutrition: I eat red meat. And I don’t just eat it, I love it! But I also eat a lot of fish and chicken and occasionally pork. With all my meats I try to eat lean cuts and trim almost all the excess fat from them. A note about fish (specifically salmon): I will only eat wild-caught Alaskan/pacific salmon. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list’s best choice items are a good, easy way to find sustainable fish and seafood with healthy populations. I also eat a lot of vegetables. I am even growing some of my own this year (squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, several herbs, and I am trying a watermelon and a cantaloupe). I need to cut back on the amount of butter I use. I drink regular old cow milk (organic, but if I could get it, I would drink raw milk without a doubt!). I try to avoid refined sugars and flours. I eat cheese. I drink boat-loads of water.

Moderation: This is key. Every diet on the face of the planet (and I mean “diet” as in the crazy plans people come up with to shed pounds) relies on cutting calories. If you’re already eating real foods and not fast foods or pre-packaged processed stuff, etc. then it all comes down to portion size. Limit your fats and sugars, up your quantities of veggies, and make sure you get enough protein.

Exercise: Food alone will not make you healthy. You’ve gotta move. And I don’t mean any sort of hard-core regimen. Just move. Walk the dogs. Mow the lawn with a push mower. Go play in the park with the kids. Take your significant other out on a hike. But be and stay active.

So there you have it. I don’t have any goals to win body-building championships or medals for finishing first in a marathon. I don’t need (or want) to look like a runway model or some Hollywood superstar. I don’t want to eat just protein shakes or cabbage soup or some other limiting, boring and unsustainable diet only to gain all the pounds back as soon as I return to eating normally. I just want to be healthy and feel good and maybe live a year or two longer because I worked at it a bit.

Another day…

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208.6!!

Whew. Less than ten pounds left before I am rid of that nasty “two” at the front of that number. I am pretty stoked!

The garden is growing full speed ahead. I’ve already eaten several home-grown squash and will have my first cucumber tonight! The tomatoes have a billion green ones on them, but I think they also have blight which seems to be killing the new buds/flowers on one of the plants. I am going to go to the garden center tonight and look for some calcium rich something or other to put around them to see if it helps. Also, I’m removing all the affected parts and throwing them away so I don’t spread it. I will be super bummed if it affects the tomato fruit and rots them too (it sometimes causes blossom end rot).

Work is also going full speed ahead. We have made a few offers to folks to fill our open positions and hope to have everyone hired and on-board starting the second week in July. Between now and then is a ton of work to do. The best part, though, is no travel until at least mid-July! Almost four weeks straight at home…I won’t know what to do with myself.

Actually, I do know what to do with myself. I will get myself on a regular weekly gym schedule! I still see my trainer once a week, I even rescheduled this week to meet with her today because I was out-of-town Monday and Tuesday. (Yes, I am very proud of myself!) I plan to do more strength stuff at home and then will make a point of getting to the gym at least three days per week for cardio workouts. I am determined to defeat the elliptical…my nemesis. I am also very fond of the rowing machine and the recumbent bike.

Other than that, nothing new to report. Life is busy. Animals are all healthy (OP has fur balls, but it is that time of year). And I think I am going to pick up some Copper River salmon for dinner tonight. Things are alright.

I feel good!

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Sore, but good. I lasted a whole five-and-a-half minutes on the elliptical machine today. What is even more impressive is that I didn’t feel like passing out, falling over from jello legs, or like throwing up when I was done. That’s some serious progress for me.

After that five-plus minutes of hell we moved onto legs, core, and shoulder work.

The garden is growing fast and I’ve already started harvesting some squash and herbs, so that has made preparing dinner more fun (and healthy)! I even got to use my kaffir lime tree leaves in some chicken curry I made the other night (I also used my first zucchini in that dish). Tonight I am trying out a yellow zucchini from my neighbor’s garden. It is not a summer squash, but an actual, yellow zucchini. I’ve never heard of them before so we shall see what it tastes like.

Just two more weeks of travel to finish up my old job responsibilities and then moving on to the new ones. There will be some travel in July and August for training – even so, it will be nice to have a different destination activity for those trips and not the same old thing I’ve done the past seven or so years. In the meantime we have done some marathon interviewing of new candidates for our team and I think have found some strong ones. Fingers crossed that the next level of interviews goes well for them.

My niece turns one on Saturday! I can’t believe it has already been a year and I am really looking forward to seeing her and my nephew in August.

That’s all for now…time to get back to the required online training I have to take now that I am officially a “manager”. *sigh*

Slow and Steady

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~~~ ~~~ ~~~

211.6

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Almost another pound down. Slowly but surely it is coming off. The best part is that it really does feel like it will stay off! Not like in the past when I’ve dropped a bunch of weight fast and then had it bounce right back on. I am so so so so pleased!

Last week was my birthday – 38, if you can believe it. I can’t. I still feel like I am in my 20’s…and I guess that’s a good thing. Even my sister thought I was only 36 this year when she called me – that in itself is funny because she will be 36 later this summer. This past weekend I had some friends over for a small celebration dinner. Neil cooked and it was fantastic: pork tenderloin with a honey/orange/rosemary glaze, a semi-SW chopped salad (romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, tomatoes, black beans, corn, jicama, radishes, avocado, cilantro, and a lime/honey/cilantro/garlic dressing with a little olive oil), and some quinoa for a grain to go with it all. YUM! The salad in particular was a hit. For dessert we had cake and ice cream. Also yum! We discovered that the bakery sells “cakes” that are actually four quarters of different varieties so this had red velvet, chocolate, yellow, and carrot cakes.

I also got myself a birthday present this weekend:

Merrell Pace Gloves in Caribbean Sea (my phone camera did funny things to the color – they are greener than this – turquoise with lime green stripes and tabs across the tongue) – these are part of the new-ish minimalist shoe movement. Barefoot shoes I believe is how Merrell markets them. Regardless, they are insanely comfortable. While these particular shoes are for running, I am definitely not ready for running in this type of shoe. Instead, they will be my new gym shoes. I needed something that was more form-fitted to my foot for all the balance and lateral work we do during my training sessions. My current running shoes were causing lots of soreness and pulled ankle muscle problems at the gym because they are so loose around my foot.

I should note that I go barefoot almost all the time. When I work out at home I do it barefoot unless I am running. I wear flip-flops as my primary shoes in the summer (and even in the winter if it is mild enough). So, this type of shoe seemed like a natural choice. The best part is that I discovered Merrell makes everyday shoes as well! While poking around on Amazon I found several cute sandals that would be perfect for summer business shoes. I might have to see if there is a store around here that sells a wider variety of this brand. As I was trying these on I also noted that there were several other people around me who all swore by these shoes (in various models)…with all the other brands in similar shapes and sizes available, I thought that said a lot about them. Oh yeah, and they are very reasonably priced.

Challenges:

Cardio – over the next couple months I have to work more cardio into my weekly routine. Even if it is just walking the dogs through the neighborhood. Something. Anything! So far it has been sporadic at best and non-existent has been mostly the norm. I know the pounds will come off faster if I figure out how to add this. Not to mention, it is just plain good for the heart and lungs!

Food – namely fresh fruits and veggies. Thank goodness Spring is almost upon us! Unfortunately I will get a late start on getting a garden planted, but I’ve saved up to buy supplies to build a couple raised garden beds. The soil here is solid clay and would take forever to mend into something that could successfully support a garden. It is much easier to build raised beds and fill them with good planting soil. Once they are in I will have beans, tomatoes, squash, basil, peppers, peas (if they grow here…gotta check), and strawberries. Probably other herbs as well, but I need to see what will grow at the different times of year. I am learning that most of the things I used to grow back in Washington will also grow here, but do so in early spring and again in the fall. Summer veggies are different. Anyway, I digress. This all is about my struggle with getting fresh veggies and fruit into my diet. Traveling makes it nearly impossible to keep fresh foods on hand, so unfortunately I am stuck with frozen most days/nights. And while I know it is good I am still getting veggies in some form, they just aren’t as tasty! I loooooooove my veggies…so I definitely want to fix this. I will also plant some blueberry bushes this spring so I should have fruit in a year or two.

Overall I am very pleased with how things are progressing! Is it as fast as I’d like? Heck no. But patience has never been one of my virtues. And so every day I simply remind myself of how much better I feel. How much more energy I have. And then there are those small surprises like the other day when I had an itch on my calf and when I went to scratch it I startled myself with how “solid” my lower leg was. I have muscles! (I am starting to see some shape under the flab on my arms too…it’s pretty cool and I can’t help but smile when I catch a glimpse once in a while in the mirror.)

It’s been awhile…

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That does not mean I’ve slacked (much). I just haven’t had any spare time at all to do things like blog…or breathe. Heh.

Training with Sue-Ann is going great! I am getting stronger and it shows. I am doing more reps, more sets, and at higher weights. I am still really struggling with the cardio aspect of things though, and a lot of that is simply because of my travel/work schedule. I know they say you just have to make the time, but when I am on the road, my work-load is such that I am going non-stop from 5:30am until sometimes around 10-11pm. Which not only hinders exercise, but there are days I don’t even get a break to eat lunch. I am getting better about packing travel meals with me at least so I am no longer going ALL day without eating. I think for now I am just going to focus on the weekends for which I have no excuse other than I am so exhausted after the week it is easy for me to sit like a lump all weekend. And even then, I am not really sitting like a lump. I am vacuuming, dusting, doing laundry, playing with dogs and cats…you get the idea.

All that being said, I did make it into the gym on Wednesday morning this week because I was suffering serious jet lag on the left coast and was wide awake at 4am local time. Heh. Maybe that’s the trick? I need to travel cross-country more? Noooo what am I thinking?

Eating has been so so, though this week actually was pretty good. It is funny how different the menu options are in different regions of the country. The room service menu at the hotel had all kinds of healthy-ish meals available. But then again, I was in California. Heh. They don’t believe in fried food there. 😉 Definitely a different culture. It was a nice change – I had some great soups and salads this week. The worst being the cup of clam chowder I had last night. By worst, I mean nutrition wise…it was incredibly tasty! My goal is to continue the good trend since I seem to have fallen back into some bad habits the week before I left (pizza, beer, too much sugary stuff).

My mom and sister are coming to visit in May and I am still determined to get myself under 200lbs before then! I really need to take this weekend to regroup, refocus and get myself mentally back together. Work seems to finally be slowing down a tiny bit (of course I’ve just jinxed that, I am sure!) so hopefully the coming weeks will be a little easier to manage.

Oh yeah, and my birthday is next week. The getting older part doesn’t bother me…the still being fat part does. I have GOT to get this weight off.