Dinner Plan Week 2

Last weeks dinner plan went surprisingly well. I cheated on Saturday, but that was it. I normally have a lot going on on weekends so I think I’ll just do the weekdays from now on. Then we can eat leftovers or something simple on Saturdays. I’ll be happy as long as I get 5 decent meals in every week – and then I can take the weekend off.

Here is what last week looked like. But I didn’t eat the rice, of course. That was for Andy.
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And here’s my plan for this week. I also have a couple of lunch/snack recipes that I’m planning on trying out, so that should be fun. I just bought a whole pack of smoked salmon that is making my fridge smell delicious! (If you like smoked salmon as much as me, that is.)

  • Monday: Zucchini Lasagna
  • Tuesday: Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs with Vegetables
  • Wednesday: Creamy Baked Chicken
  • Thursday: Tacos (Taco Salad for me)
  • Friday: Fried Sausages and Mushrooms with Vegetables

Baked Zucchini Chips

When you’re eating low carb food you quickly find that it’s kind of hard to come up with good snacks that won’t break your diet. Potato chips, candy, and ice cream is out of the question. So I’m trying out a couple of different things and read online that zucchini chips was a good alternative to regular potato chips (which I happen to love).

You Need:

  • 1 large zucchini (though my store only had tiny ones)
  • Pastry/basting brush
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

I cut my zucchini by hand, so I took my time making sure the slices were thin and even (a couple ended up too thick, and they didn’t taste very good). Then I spread them out on a paper towel and used another one to get some of the water out of them. You want them to get crispy, after all.
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Cover a cookie sheet in parchment paper and spread your zucchini slices out evenly. They can be close together as long as they don’t overlap. Use your pastry brush to cover the slices in a thin layer of olive oil. Don’t overdo it, though. I did, and even though my chips were still delicious they weren’t as crispy as I’d like them to be. Then you sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper onto each slice.
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Let them cook for 2+ hours on 225 degrees, checking on them towards the end. You want them to be crispy and golden. I thought they tasted better the darker they were, and the ones that were still fairly green I didn’t like much. Since mine had way too much olive oil on them I let them cool off on a paper towel before putting them in a bowl.
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And enjoy! They have a very distinct flavor that I hadn’t anticipated, but really, really liked. It also made me eat only one chip at a time, making them last for a couple hours instead of a couple minutes (which is how I used to go through regular chips, haha). All in all it was a success, and I’m excited to try it again.
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Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala

I love all types of Indian food, and nothing beats making dinner in a crockpot, so when I found this recipe at Tablefortwoblog I just had to try it out. I’ve actually had it bookmarked for weeks.

Ingredients:

  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins, or about 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 lbs.)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 (29 oz.) can of tomato puree
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. Garam masala
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1-3 tsp. cayenne pepper (depending on your heat preference)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • Chopped parsley or cilantro, for topping

I made some necessary changes because I was missing a couple things. I used curry instead of garam masala, my can of tomato puree was only 28 ounces, and I skipped the cornstarch all together.

It’s such a great and simple recipe, but there is a bunch of chopping to be done. First you want to chop the chicken and onion, and mince the garlic and ginger.
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Then you want to mix together everything but the bay leaves, cream, and cornstarch. I have a big crock pot, so I mixed everything in there. If you don’t you might want to use a big bowl. After it’s all completely mixed, add the bay leaves and put it to cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
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After it’s done cooking mix together the cream and cornstarch in a small bowl and add it to the crockpot to thicken it up. Let it cook for another 20 minutes before you serve it with rice.
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PS: Pay attention to the measurements. I didn’t, and ended up reading “tablespoon” everywhere it said “teaspoon”… Needless to say it was a lot spicier than intended. So I added a bit more yogurt before cooking it, and I was surprised at how much I still liked the finished result. It will definitely clear out your sinuses, but if you love “Indian spicy” I would say to give it a try! (Although I only added one tablespoon of salt, not two!)

Back To A Healthy Diet

Being back from vacation means going back to better habits. No candy and no more eating out. I really haven’t kept it up at all this year after several weeks of being sick, but now I have no more excuses! I’m going back on a low carb diet (lchf). I did it for about a month and a half back in November, along with regular workouts, and I felt ten times better. I started with filling up our empty fridge, and right now I feel more motivated than ever before.
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I really can’t remember the last time we had this many vegetables in the house. But I am loving it! (And, yes, I do know that bananas and tomatoes are fruit. But still.)
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I’ve always thought structure is the key behind keeping up with a diet, a workout regime, or any other lifestyle changes, so I’m writing down this weeks dinner plan. Hopefully I will stick to it and make another one next week. Although I’m leaving one day open for each week – this time It’s Sunday.

Today’s dinner was a success. I haven’t tried this recipe since I posted it on the blog, so I had forgotten how delicious it is. This time we also added fresh cilantro, which really hit the spot!
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Mashed Cauliflower

I have never been a huge fan of cauliflower growing up, but after reading about mashed cauliflower as a low-carb side dish for the n’teenth time, I decided to give it a go. And I was positively surprised.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 2-3 tablespoons of sour cream (or cream cheese)
  • 2/3 to 1 cup of grated cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or garlic powder – I used a lot)
  • 1 teaspoon straight chicken base or bullion
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • Chives for garnish

These measurements are really just an estimate – add however much you like. I ended up adding a bit more of all the spices after I was done. Just make sure you taste it as you go along.

Chop the cauliflower into smaller pieces and boil it for about 8 minutes, or until well done. I don’t have a food processor myself so I made sure it was a bit overcooked (almost 15 minutes) before I drained it. That way it was a lot easier to mash. When you’ve drained the cauliflower, pat it dry with paper towels but do not let it cool off. Add all the ingredients to either a food processor or a big bowl and mash it up as much as you can and serve it with a delicious main dish.

It’s really hard to get an appetizing picture of anything that is mashed, but here you go.
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I really liked it with my ground sausage mix – the spicy meat mixed well with the cauliflower.
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And Andy thought it was a great addition to the creamy baked chicken recipe I posted a few days ago.
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Ground Sausage Recipe

Today I just wanted to mix together something quick and simple, while also trying out a pack of ground sausage that’s been in our fridge for a few days (I wanted an alternative to ground beef, since we use it pretty often). I didn’t have anything specific in mind, but it was definitely a success!

1: Fry up 2 tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of minced garlic. 2: Add the ground sausage (1 pound) once the garlic aroma starts to spread, and cook until it is no longer pink. 3: Mix in red onion and half of a green bell pepper towards the end, so that they don’t get soggy. 4: Mix in almost half of a jar of pasta sauce (I used a mushroom and onion flavored one).
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I served Andy’s portion with farfalle pasta, while eating mine with mashed cauliflower. That’s a mix I’ve been wanting to try out for a while. It is said to be a great substitute for mashed potatoes when you are on a low-carb diet. It turned out really great, so I’ll absolutely make it again, and I’ll post the recipe later.
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I thought this was going to be a pretty standard dinner, but it was actually delicious! And mixed with my mashed cauliflower it was definitely one of my favorites. So delicious and creamy.
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Workout Motination

I just figured I’d post some of my tips when it comes to keeping yourself motivated. I always seem to work out in periods, and whenever I break my own “rules” my motivation drops, and I start skipping workouts. And I bet I’m not the only one with this problem! Feel free to share how you keep yourself motivated, and maybe I’ll add some of your tips to my list.

  • Find someone to work out with. That way you can keep each other motivated on days where one of you would rather stay at home in front of the tv. For me it really helps to go running with Andy, especially since he is in a much better shape than me and this gives me motivation to try to beat him sometime.
  • Set goals. Not only your final goal (like how much weight you want to lose – if this is why you’re working out), but also daily and weekly goals. I am not a great runner, so one of my previous goals was very simple: to run the same distance that I ran the day before, but this time I was going to do it without a break halfway through – and I made it! I love trying to beat myself, and having beaten my goal made me feel like I achieved something.
  • Find a workout that works for you! It doesn’t matter if you enjoy running, spinning, dancing, yoga, strength exercises, or using the elliptical (like me). Just make sure you pick something that you enjoy, and try to mix it up every now and then. I have an elliptical at home, but I also have Wii fit and Wii Zumba. I like using my Wii fit board while I’m watching my favorite series, or dancing along to the Zumba routines on a day I have some extra energy (although I think going to Zumba classes with a friend is a lot more fun).
  • Bring good music – especially if you’re working out by your self. This will keep your tempo up and it will help keep your mind off what you are doing. For me this makes me feel less tired.
  • Set a weekly minimum limit to workouts. So if you have decided to get at least three work-outs in every week, then you have no excuses for not doing it. If it’s Sunday night and you have only exercised twice so far then you should force yourself to get at least a small amount of work done. Like a 30 minute fast walk around the neighborhood.
  • Reward yourself. This doesn’t have to be with food (if you’re trying to lose weight), it will just as easily work with other things. You could decide to not buy those pants you’ve been wanting until you manage to beat your own record. Or you could schedule a girls night out as soon as you’ve stuck to your work out program for a whole month. (Just don’t reward yourself by skipping workouts.)
  • Keep a workout journal. I’ve done this for the past few months. Just buy a notebook where you write down which exercises you’ve done every week (including repetitions or duration). I love comparing my current week to the previous one to see if I’m making any progress. Sometimes I’ll add an extra workout if I see that I did better the past week.
  • Buy new workout clothes! I don’t know if this works for everyone, but it definitely does for me. A colorful, new outfit makes me want to try it out. And the same goes for buying workout magazines with tips for exercises. But, of curse, you should limit this to once in a while so that you don’t end up shopping more than you work out. (Although a full day of shopping really should be considered a workout…)

At the beginning of 2012 I finally decided to get back into shape after several years of doing nothing but studying. After most of my workouts I felt completely exhausted and ready to pass out – but it was worth it! And, after a while, I could tell that things were getting slightly easier every day. I still haven’t reached my goal, but I’m much happier than I was before I started.
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