Getting Bored

It feels like everything on Pinterest is the same these days. Once you have a handful of recipes under your belt it is almost like a template you can’t escape from. It is either “sheet pan bake” this or “freezer casserole” that.

I’m bored.

When looking for a spark of inspiration I’ve started branching out on my own. When I was big into PTA there was a teacher with gluten sensitivities and another with gluten and dairy allergies. Parents would bring in these totally disgusting cookies for the Christmas cookie exchange and I just kept thinking that they were so fixated on what they couldn’t feed those teachers that they lost sight of the millions of things they could feed those teachers. So while some were donating these homemade gluten-free blobs they called cookies, I made chocolate covered strawberries for one and allergen-free chocolate bars for the other.

I feel like that’s where I am right now. By focusing so much on what I’m trying to shave away I’m getting tunnel vision and forgetting that there is a plethora of other foods I could explore. Instead of searching Pinterest for “low carb” or “Paleo” or “PCOS friendly” recipes, I think I’ll start looking through my Pioneer Woman recipe books and finding ways to make her stuff carb-friendly.

scavenger dinner victory: shrimp, cauliflower, broccoli and mushroom stir fry

For instance the other day I executed a great scavenger dinner. Hubs wanted to pick up pizza from a family-favorite, Due Amicis, and I didn’t want a wheat bomb floating through my gut. Instead I dug through the freezer and the veg drawer and threw together a stir fry that was the bomb. It inspired me to throw together other random ingredients using cooking methods and flavor profiles I know work well.

I learned that I don’t need to “rice” cauliflower to make it more palatable. I can just throw it in  a stir fry. The texture is much less off-putting when you eat it as an honest piece of cauliflower rather than trying to make it mimic rice.

Have any recipe ideas for me? Feel free to share them with my Facebook page!

Back to School Menu Planning

Peanut goes back to school today. Not just any school either. A new school. A new middle school. A new-to-her charter middle school. We went to open house yesterday and she knows only one kid in her class, and that’s only because he was on her soccer team a few seasons ago.

She’s excited, and I’m excited to see how she does in this new environment. Pray for us, though because: middle school.

So the menu planning gets a little more regimented now that summer is officially over. I don’t really count Bubs’ summer because he’s 4 and every day is a vacation for him. I’ve also gotten used to the idea of altering dinners slightly for my dietary restrictions while still having complete meals that the fam enjoys. Here’s what I have planned for this week’s grocery trip:

Friday: Pizza bar (premade crusts for the fam and cauliflower crust for me)

Saturday: Roasted salmon and potatoes

Sunday: Dinner out (trying to get back into the routine of me not cooking on Sundays)

Monday: lemon chicken asparagus bake

Tuesday: Philly cheesesteaks and green beans

Wednesday: Tilapia fish tacos

Thursday: Slow cooker BBQ and mac

Lunches?

I need to be sure to have on hand lunch materials for 5 days of packing for both Peanut and Hubs. This week I’ll make sure to have plenty deli turkey and provolone, apples, Cheese Nips and trail mix. We always have PBJ materials on hand, as well as things like pretzel sticks and granola bars.

Breakfasts?

I need to start getting ready-to-eat breakfast goodies for the fam. I’m thinking of crescent roll tubes that I can bake easily in the mornings, and more of those oatmeal muffins for myself. I know protein-rich breakfasts are touted all over Pinterest and low-carb blogs, but if there is one time of day when I really just want a hit of carbs it is breakfast. The fam is the same way. Sometimes the kids ask for cheese eggs in the morning, but for the most part all of us reach for the easy carb hit. I’ve figured out how to make mine less of a glycemic hit (like how I sound so expertly there?) but they still need that quick energy to get out the door.

Brown Bag Lunch Crew

We are to that point of the year when the kids are gearing up for school. Literally gearing up. There is a pile of supplies sitting in my office waiting for their new home at their respective schools.

Moving from a public school to a charter school has a few implications beyond just the classroom. First of all, there is no bus transportation default, so if Bubs is napping and I can’t get to the school to pick her up, I can no longer just throw her on the bus to walk the last block home. If I’m not able to get Peanut’s lunch together I can’t just fall back on the (disgusting) cafeteria lunch account to cover the day. I’m already doing the math on how to keep Bubs’ nap and get to Peanut’s school, but the lunches are going to be trickier. The popular (and costly) option is a catered lunch program where you can buy restaurant meals for them that are delivered to the school for their lunch period. I can’t imagine that would be a healthy option, but I haven’t really seen what the options are there. Instead I am going to try to systemize lunches for the family.

Basically I try to get one of the following groups into every lunch (or for Peanut, who will be packing her own lunches this year for the first time):

  1. Starch
  2. Dairy
  3. Protein
  4. Fruit/veggie
  5. Sweet

Then when I get groceries I try to have 2-3 options under each food group to select from each day. I’m not going to pretend that my kids (or my husband) will eat all those intricate bento box lunches you see on Pinterest. Here’s a better idea of what I keep on hand:

Starches

Sandwich Bread

Pretzel Sticks

Tortillas

Nachos

Ritz/Saltine Crackers

Little Bites Muffins

Graham Crackers

Cheese Nips

Dairy

String Cheese

Sandwich Cheese

Yogurt Tube

Protein

Sandwich Meat

Peanut Butter

Almonds

Leftovers (usually chicken)

Pepperonis

Fruit/Veg

Cucumber Spears + Ranch

Small Salad + Ranch

Strawberries

Grapes

Apple Slices

Pineapple

Sweet

Bite-size Candy

Chocolate Chips

Daily Go-Tos

I’ve had pretty great success with my daily routine so far, but I haven’t really gone into much depth describing what I keep on hand. The key for me is to be sure I have things in the fridge and pantry that I can access quickly.

 

Breakfast

Breakfast for me is so ingrained into habit that I don’t have to think about it — which is great because mornings are the craziest times around this house. I wake up about an hour before everyone else and make myself a cup of coffee (add in Inositol and collagen protein supplements, then a splash of heavy cream). I then take care of the animals, make sure everyone has their lunches ready and review my exercise plan for the day. If I have oatmeal muffins I’ll eat one before going to the gym, otherwise the cream in the coffee keeps me going until around 10 a.m.

turkey rolls: high fiber wrap with mayo, cheese, turkey and spring mix. Cream cheese on one edge to hold it together

Lunch

Lunch is hardest because when I run out of my go-to ingredients I just scavenge. My go-to lunches are:

  • tuna + mayo + cucumber boats
  • mixed green salad with nuts, a crumbled cheese and balsamic or Italian dressing
  • low-carb wrap with mayo, cheese, turkey and a big handful of mixed greens. Cream cheese holds it together on one end.

apple “chips” with chunky peanut butter

Snacks

I’ve weaned myself off Cheese Nips, and my nightcap of warm milk is gone. Most of my snacks are in that brunch window of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when lunch just didn’t cut the mustard. Some of my favorites:

  • handful of roasted, lightly salted almonds
  • apple “chips” with chunky peanut butter

And because I have grown complete sick of plain water all day, every day, I’ve started switching that up. A weird but satisfying combination is a lemon wedge and a teaspoon of chia seeds. I don’t really taste the chia seeds, and it keeps the kids out of my water bottle because they say it looks like bugs floating around.

Is This the Peak?

Weigh-in day. I did sneak a peek earlier in the week because I’m a glutton for punishment. I was pleasantly surprised then, and after the weight and measurements I took this morning I think I may be in a good groove.

Peanut visited a local nursing home with gift bags because (she’s a saint) and I wore one of the tops I got when on my mom shopping date a week or so ago. Not going to lie, I looked good. My mother-in-law even said something.

I still have a long way to go, but seeing results gives me added motivation to keep going. I know the past few days have been a rant-filled grump-fest about stress and anxiety. I’d like to stick to positive affirmations but it just isn’t real life. I want to put it all out there — the good, the bad and the ugly — because I didn’t get where I am today because of food alone. The depression and anxiety I fight off are also a part of PCOS. Fighting my waistline is one front and fighting my own mind is another.

I want to put it all out there – the good, the bad and the ugly – because I didn’t get where I am today because of food alone.

I have been slipping a bit in the daily nutrition front. Yesterday I picked up Fiesta Maya Mexican for dinner for me and the Hubs while the kids visited their Poppi. I’m pretty sure that’s still swimming around in the ol’ gut making my results look a little less impressive. But it’s the long game, right?

So here’s where I’m measuring: