Preparation Is Key

Planning makes things easier. But sometimes the planning to plan is where things fall apart. You can buy the right foods, but then you’re tired after work and you cobble together dinner, forgetting the plan, leave no time to make lunch and continue to scramble for a week.

I find it easiest to grocery shop with specific, but flexible meals in mind (pick one or two proteins, that can be paired with either of the two vegetables you choose for the week). Once the groceries are safely in the kitchen, prepare several portions of a meal. This provides lunches, or dinners. This saves you from the scrambling, the cobbling, the failing. At least for me.

I’m down just over two pants sizes, and about 11 lbs since everything started to click for me. I enjoy the gym every morning. I feel pride in my meal preps.

This week I put together six containers of proportioned spaghetti squash paired with a ground turkey meat sauce. This took about 30 mins start to finish.

Pop the spaghetti squash in the toaster oven at 350°, until the exterior can be easily pierced. While that was baking I browned (a family pack) of ground turkey with some generic Italian seasonings.

Once the spaghetti squash is cooked, I slice it in half, scoop out the seeds and shred with a fork. A cup of spaghetti squash goes into each of my six containers, topped by a cup or so of ground turkey, and half a cup of Trader Joes Three Cheese Pasta Sauce.

I could’ve made the sauce. I could’ve added fresh garlic or onions. But I didn’t, because I don’t want to stress myself out, I want to do what I can, when I can, to create a functional healthy lifestyle which will facilitate my goals. Whew. That was a mouthful.

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Saratoga County Fair

Going to county fairs always gives me the warm fuzzies. They are dependable. No matter the county, there is always the crowd, the animals, the rides, the food. It’s like pulling your sweaters out for the first time in the fall and feeling cozy; fairs make me feel cozy.

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The fair of my childhood memories is the Columbia County Fair. My family has a vacation house in that area, and the fair was always part of our one last summer harrah before school started. Maybe that’s why I’m so nostalgic for the memories a county fair can evoke; that pure feeling of freedom and fun before another year of school.

This past weekend Mister and I ventured out to the Saratoga County fair. We got there at around 7pm after sitting in some pretty awful, event related traffic. Then we drove past all the “lot full” signs as we were waved to a parking lot much, much, much further down the road.

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The walk wasn’t terrible, but the lack of sidewalk made things a little scary. I justified it as enough exercise to earn me some fair food.

Don’t most people go to the fair to pet some cows and eat some greasy goodness? Since I’ve been extremely conscious of my eating lately (focusing on macro nutrients, whole foods etc), the foods I was so excited for also had me a little nervous. Was it worth gorging on some questionable meats only to feel some expectantly negative results?

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I was indecisive and most certainly annoying Mister after stopping at several booths only to end up not ordering anything. Finally, I found a permanent structure, where a local family restaurant was selling some food. They could tell me where they sourced their rolls and sausage; and both were the brands I seek out. I was ecstatic! Perfectly greasy sausage topped with velvety peppers and onions all on top of a perfectly fluffy and crispy roll. Fair food doesn’t have to be a sacrifice.

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We went on the Ferris wheel, and the impossibly high swings. We laughed into the darkness over the bright lights of the midway. The county fair exists in it’s own realm of time, where candy apples are expected and excitement is overwhelmingly heavy in the air.

Repeat Customer

I should just rename this blog, The Things I Didn’t Cook.

We ordered from Paolo Lombardi’s Dine and Dash again. It’s just too good to pass up.

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For $24.97 we got: salad with dressing, half a loaf of Italian bread, side order of meatballs (2), chicken Parmesan with pasta, and 4 small cannoli. Bring on the gluttony.

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It’s nothing fancy. But it’s cooked, and it’s comforting, and it doesn’t heat up the kitchen.

They even sneak in the flyer for next weeks specials.

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Maybe we’ll eventually make it to the patio.

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Leftover Salad

What do you eat for dinner when it’s too hot to cook and too rainy to grill?

Leftover Salad.

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We had London broil for dinner last night, sirloin the night before that. Both got sliced thinly, and put atop the mounds of veggies that are perfect this time of year. That cucumber from a friend, that seemingly endless container of arugula, and plenty of extra juicy tomatoes. Maybe some rice, a handful of sliced almonds.

Another Type Of Quick Dinner

To cater to the summertime laziness of long work hours and incessant humidity, Mister called in an order for Paolo Lombardi’s Dash and Dine.

We’ve gone this route once in the past on the suggestion of some of his coworkers, and we’ve been impressed both times. For $14.99 we received a tray of cheese ravioli with a luscious sausage based sauce, several slices of garlic breads with an extra portion of herbed butter, and a mixed green salad with their house dressing on the side.

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You can call or place the order online, and there is a different offering each night. Their menu is posted online, leaving you with the sole responsibility of retrieving the food and keeping it warm until everyone is ready for dinner.

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We ate outside in the perfect amount of sunshine, and followed it up with a nap for me, a walk for the Mister and then headed across the river for some Snowman ice cream. Perfection.

On a Roll

Second quick and cool dinner in a row. Thank you Trader Joes for allowing such wondrous occasions.

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Chicken sausage for protein, cooked for about 20 mins in the toaster over at 350°. It reminded me of kielbasa, in a great way.

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Quinoa-Brown Rice pasta, cooked in boiling water for about 7 minutes.
This stuff is great. Seriously it’s filling but tastes just like regular pasta.

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Snip the corner off this bag of green beans to round out the meal.

Toss everything with a pinch of Parmesan, maybe a little salt or butter to fatten it up. Voila, dinner is served in about 20 mins.

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Quick and Cool

It’s hot.
I don’t want to heat up the kitchen in this small apartment (which would instantly turn every room into a sauna), and I’m sick of grilling in the rain. As much as I love these fantastic thunderstorms, grilling in a raincoat isn’t fun.

So while at Trader Joes (back on that kick, they take the guesswork out of healthy eating) I browsed the aisles and determined on fish tacos.

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I broiled the pre-marinated Garlic Chili tilapia in the toaster oven for about 12 minutes.

While that was going I microwaved corn on the cob, still in the husk, with a damp paper towel for about six minutes.

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When the corn was done (the fish was halfway cooked at this point) I popped some refried beans in the microwave. Those were cooking, fish was cooking, corn was cooling, so I used those three minutes to slice an avocado, and heat up some corn tortillas on the stove. I just toss those babies on the bare burner.

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The ingredients on the Trader Joes beans: beans, water, salt. Ingredients on the tortillas: corn, water, lime. Perfection. Who needs the extra junk?

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This was plated and ready in about 15 minutes.

Tomorrow is the last day of my Advocare challenge, I’m actually sad it’s over because I’m so in love with the results and my diet changes.