Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer's First Weekly Menu Posted!

Finally - I am inspired and ready to get back on program!  I have found that the best way to continue to lose weight is to have a plan, stock the house with the appropriate foods for that plan, and to stick with it.  Winging-it does not work for me...but on the contrary...puts weight back on.  So with that in mind, I put together the first of my weekly menus for summer cooking. 

I am still working on the grocery list, which I hope to have together later tonight.  Most of these recipes are new to me, so I don't have photos yet, but will do my best to take pictures of the finished product and post them as I go along.  If you don't have access to a Trader Joe's, you'll have to make a different side dish one night...but by all means, these menus are not written in stone.  If you don't like beans, you'll need to substitute sides a couple of nights, too.  The main point of these menus and the grocery lists is to take some of the planning and thinking out of the process.  There are simply days when I don't have the time or the desire to do the work - so this way I can just choose a menu, print out the grocery list (recipes, too, if you wish)...get the job done and stay on program.  I don't label which days to eat what meals because I like the freedom of choosing what to cook according to what my day is like.  If I'm going to be really busy at work, I'll choose something easy for that evening.  For the weekend, I might choose something that requires a little more creativity in the kitchen.  You get the idea.

One final note:  I had mentioned I'd probably put Grilled Pizzas on this week's menu, but forgot to do if you prefer to make these instead of something on this week's menu - here is a link to a prior post, complete with photos - to help you make them!  Enjoy!

Summer's Week One Menu

Store-bought Rotisserie Chicken, sliced - over a garden salad  (Cook's night off!)

Grilled Portobello Burger with Basil Mayo - 6pp

Grilled Portobello Burger with Basil Mayo
Serves 4   Points Plus: 6

1/4 cup basil, fresh, chopped
3 Tbsp reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 medium portobello mushroom caps - equivalent to one pound
4 sprays olive oil cooking spray
1/8 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
3/4 cup roasted red peppers - about 4 peices
4 slices red onion
4 lettuce leaves

Heat grill or grill pan to medium high.

In small bowl, combine basil, mayonnaise and vinegar.  Set aside

Lightly coat both sides of the mushroom caps with cooking spray; season with salt and pepper.  Grill mushroom caps over medium-high heat until just soft to the touch - about 6 minutes per side.

To serve, split rolls and toast on the grill.  Spread a heaping teaspoon of basil-mayo on top and bottom halves of the rolls.  Layer each bottom half with one lettuce leaf, red pepper, mushroom cap and onion slice.  Top with remaining half of roll and serve.

Harvest Grains Salad - 4pp

Harvest Grains Salad (from Danica's Daily website)
Servings: 6- 1/2 cup each  Points Plus: 4

1/2 bag Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend (approximately 1 1/4 cups) - boiled for 10 minutes in chicken broth to cook it - omit the butter that the packaged directions suggested.

1/2 jar chopped marinated artichokes
1/2 jar chopped sun dried tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
Big dashes of Trader Joe's 21 Spice Salute seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper

Stir to combine and enjoy hot or cold.

Simple Garlic and Thyme Steak Marinade

Simple Garlic and Thyme Marinade

6 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup red wine
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

Smash and coarsely chop the garlic cloves.  Combine the garlic, oil, red wine and thyme leaves in a bowl or zippered bag.  Add steaks and turn to coat.  Place in refrigerator and marinate for 4 - 6 hours, turning occasionally to ensure an even marinate.

Heat the grill to medium high and oil the grates lightly.

Remove the steak from the marinade and let the excess drip off.  Discard the marinade.  Season the steaks with salt and pepper.  Grill, covered, until done to your liking.  Allow 12 -16 minutes for medium rare.

Cannellini Bean Salad - 5pp

Cannellini Bean Salad
Makes 4 (1 cup) servings  PointsPlus: 5

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp minced red onion
3/4 tsp dried oregano
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
1 (15oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
Salt and black pepper to taste

Whisk together oil, vinegar, onion and oregano in a large mixing bowl.  Add cucumbers, beans and red bell pepper; toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Jicama, Tomato and Black Bean Salad - 5pp

Jicama, Tomato and Black Bean Salad
Makes 4 (1 cup) servings  PointsPlus: 5

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small jicama, peeled and chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
3 Tbsp diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together lime juice, garlic and cumin in large mixing bowl; slowly whisk in oil.  Add beans, jicama, tomatoes, onion and cilantro.  Toss to combine, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chipotle Tilapia Tacos - 4pp

Serves 4 (2 tacos each)  PointsPlus: 4

Citrus Cabbage Slaw:
2 cups Cabbage, fresh, shredded
¼ cup Green onions, sliced (about 6)
1 each  Orange, fresh segments
2 Tbsp Fresh lime juice
½ tsp Salt

Chipotle Yogurt Sauce:
¼ cup Chipotles in adobo sauce (about 6 peppers)
2 tsp Garlic, minced
2 cups Plain non-fat yogurt
1 tsp Cumin
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Juice of fresh lime

1 pound tilapia fillets
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, fresh, heated

Cabbage Slaw: Place all ingredients in a bowl or plastic container.  Toss until well combined.  Put in refrigerator and allow flavors to marinate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Chipotle Yogurt Sauce: Place chipotle and garlic in a food processor or blender.  Pulse until it is finely chopped.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until well combined.  Place in a glass or plastic container, cover and refrigerate.  Allow the ingredients to sit for at least 30 minutes for flavors to develop.

Broiled Tilapia:  Place filets on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spread 2 Tbsp of Chipotle Yogurt Sauce on each filet and allow to marinate for about 30 minutes before cooking.  Cover and refrigerate remaining sauce. Turn oven on to Broil.  Place baking sheet under hot broiler and broil filets for 6-8 minutes until fish is opaque and lightly browned.  Break fish filet into chunks.

Assemble each taco:  Lay on a warm corn tortilla on a plate.  Place tilapia pieces in the center of tortilla (about 2 oz).  Spoon 2 Tbsp of the Chipotle Yogurt Sauce over the fish. Top with Citrus Cabbage Slaw.  Fold tortilla and serve.

Grilled Pork and Vegetable Skewers -4pp

Grilled Pork and Vegetable Skewers
Serves 4  PointsPlus: 4

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 zucchini
2 plum tomatoes
12 small white mushrooms
1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Spray grill rack with non-stick spray.  Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Cut pork into 1 1/2 inch cubes.  Cut zucchini into 1 1/2 inch peices.  Quarter each tomato.  Thread pork, mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes alternately on 4 metal (12-inch) skewers.  If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak the skewers for at least 15 minutes prior to assembling them to avoid burning on the grill.  Sprinkle assembled skewers with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Spray kebabs with nonstick spray.

Place kebabs on grill, turning every 2 minutes until cooked through (approximately 6-7 minutes total).

Red Leaf, Avocado and Apple Salad - 2pp

Red Leaf, Avocado and Apple Salad
Makes 4 (2 cup) servings   PointsPlus: 2

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarse-grained Dijon mustard
1 (1 pound) head red leaf lettuce, torn into bite sized peices (approx 8 cups)
1 avocado, pitted and thinly sliced
1/2 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine oil, lemon juice, and mustard in a jar.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper - close tightly and shake vigorously to combine.

Toss dressing with lettuce, add additional salt and pepper to taste.  Distribute salad among plates, top with avocado and apple slices and serve.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders - 8pp

Buffalo Chicken Sliders
Serves 4.  Serving size: 2 per person/ 8pp per serving.

1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 Tbsp water
1 lb ground, skinless chicken breast
2 Tbsp Buffalo wing sauce
1/4 tsp salt
Cooking Spray
8 (2-inch) mini whole wheat buns
8 green-leaf lettuce leaves
8 tomato slices
2 Tbsp crumbled low fat blue cheese

Spray large non-stick skillet or ridged grill pan with non-stick spray and set over medium heat.  Add onion, red bell pepper and water; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and vegetables are very tender, about 8 minutes.

Transfer to large bowl ad let cool 10 minutes.  Add chicken breast, Buffalo wing sauce, and salt; mix well. With wet hands, form into 8 (1/2 inch thick) patties.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm - at least 1 hour or over night.

Spray skillet with non-stick spray and set over medium-high heat.  Add patties and cook until instant read thermometer inserted into side of each burger registers 165 degrees F - 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Split buns, pull out some of the bread from centers.  Place burgers on bottom halves of buns; top  with lettuce leaves, tomato slices, blue cheese and remaining buns.

Ribbon Salad - 2pp

Ribbon Salad
4 (2-cup) servings - 2 PointsPlus each

1 (3/4 lb) head red leaf lettuce (about 8 cups)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Core lettuce and break apart into whole leaves.  Wash and dry leaves thoroughly, then pile half of them in an even layered pile.  Slice leaves crosswise into 1/4 inch strips.  Repeat with remaining leaves.

Place lettuce strips in a large mixing bowl and add olive oil and lemon juice.  Toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Is your momentum waning? Fight Back!!

You are all awesome!  I am blown away by how quickly this blog has over 10,000 page views, and to see the constant stream of people from all over the world finding this site - there are now people from over 70 countries hitting this blog!  Thanks so much to all of you for spreading the word about eating right!  Don't you just love the momentum associated with WeightWatcher's new PointsPlus program?  I'm loving seeing all the successful people they are using on their ads these days, too.  All I can say is WOW!

But what about if you are not feeling so successful right now?  Lets take time to stop and figure it out.  I'll be the first to admit there are times the momentum seems to wane and the scale doesn't seem to budge.  I have currently hit that wall, and it is frustrating.  I hate paying for WW meetings only to see the number stuck on the scale, or worse yet, the numbers going up.  How Frustrating!!  Is it THEM or is it ME?  With other members still finding success, I have to admit its me.  BUT, what that tells me is that its time to fight back!  I'm worth it. You are too.

I know that when I follow the program - really stick to it - I am successful.  Is it that simple? Yes and No.  There are so many factors that contribute to success.  Tools.  For me, it starts with the Getting Started Booklet.
There is so much inspiration in this booklet - that maybe its time to pull it back out.  Second are the meetings - seeing other people being successful helps fire me up to make that success my own.  Then there are all those bloggers telling us their success stories and providing recipes and photos of what they are eating - I just love the inspiration they provide.  Photos of good food make me want to eat right.

But for me, there is something else that helps me so much.  Weekly Menus.  Having a plan.  Its so easy to just 'wing it' - but winging it doesn't work.  My scale tells me that.  My problem is that the weekly menus I worked hard to create at the beginning of the year don't inspire me in this heat.  I need to make take the time to put together a few "summer" menus to fall back on.  That's right...take time (as in giving myself priority over other things).  For those of you who are not familiar with the reason why I've put menus on this blog - it is my way to take some of the work out of staying on program.  Some weeks I just don't feel inspired.  Some weeks I just don't have time to plan.  Some weeks I just need an "EASY" I click and print a menu and grocery list and Just Do It!  Often, that's enough to get me past a hump in my week.  I posted weekly menus in the tab above so you could take advantage of that, too.  Once I get a few more on this site, you could theoretically be able to choose 4 different menus and not eat the same thing twice in an entire month (except for leftovers you save for lunch).  If my menus aren't for you, just take the time to work up some of your own.  It takes a little time, but it is So Worth It!

So, before I even head out to my meeting today, I am going to commit to putting at least one summer menu on this blog before Monday!  I don't know if I've lost weight, stayed the same, or gained some back (ugh), but I know I'm off track - so I promise you that I'll be back on track and running by Monday!!  Please check back and keep me honest ;0)  I've already decided one item to put on my first summer weekly menu -

Grilled Pizzas!