Nov 112014
 

When I decided it was time to get serious again about losing the vacation weight and getting back on track, I struggled. I was hungry all the time. If you missed the post I wrote addressing hunger, check it out: Always Hungry? Here’s Why. I knew I needed to make some changes to my diet — not just getting back to my normal calorie range and reducing the amount of sugar I eat. I needed to eat more protein.

I was poking around online trying to figure out how to change my diet and came across this article: 12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein. A brief breakdown: You’re Always Hungry, You’re Cutting Calories, You’re Lifting Heavy Things, You’re Engaged in Chronic Cardio, You’ve Got Achy Joints, You’re Experiencing Chronic Stress. Those were the ones that spoke to me. Yep, yep, yep. While I’m not necessarily lifting heavy, I am trying to get back into the weight lifting routine. I am hungry a lot, I AM cutting my calories to lose the weight, and damn I’m always achy…

The answer: I need more protein.

Which I already knew. Eating healthy fats and good proteins are what will fill you up. Sure, you get hungry and grab a bagel or chips or other junk thinking it will curb the hunger but those empty calories and carby things don’t go the distance. At least not for me.

I’ve definitely got the dinner down. We eat a protein with a vegetable and a salad or quinoa. That’s a pretty typical dinner. We rotate between chicken breasts, salmon, shrimp, ground turkey, boneless pork chops, and steak. I don’t really need help sneaking in more protein at dinner, it’s the other meals.

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A typical breakfast for me has been eggs and gluten free toast. It works well for me. But lately I’ve tried to mix things up to see if I can get more mileage out of that breakfast. One example: when I was doing food prep for the week, I browned some spicy pork sausage to use for the week. For breakfast that week I scrambled two eggs and mixed in some of the pork sausage and topped it with avocado. It was a great breakfast! Tasty and filling and I wasn’t starving by the time my usual morning break came around.

One thing I decided to change: add egg whites. Two scrambled eggs are about 140 calories. Adding some egg whites only adds about 15-20 calories to that but it bulks up the scramble. Perfect. Adding veggies to the scramble is also a smart move. The vegetables add bulk in healthy ways. Some of my favorites that are higher in protein are spinach, kale and broccoli. Yum! Doing a Frittata/Quiche type dish for the week is a faster way to do breakfast and pack it with lots of high protein things. (Maybe I need to start doing these muffins for breakfast again.)

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Back when Michael and I were doing the slow carb diet, we ate a TON of beans. You can get the food list here: Slow Carb Food List. Not really paleo-friendly, but I liked aspects of the slow-carb diet. Eating beans filled you up like you wouldn’t believe. Soybeans (edamame) are the highest protein but I am not a huge fan of eating soy so I try to limit that. Navy Beans have 15.8 grams of protein per serving; black beans have 15.2 grams; pinto beans have 14 grams per serving. Beans are really versatile, too. You can add them to eggs, burritos, wraps, salads, pretty much anything.

What about snacks? I think that’s where I need to get more protein. Typically I eat an apple for a morning snack. I am trying to add string cheese to that because the combination seems to be much more filling than either of those on their own. Here are some other ideas I came up with:

Peanut Butter with celery and raisins

Cottage Cheese (This is one of my favorite snacks because it doesn’t usually take much to satisfy me.)

Greek Yogurt (I prefer to use plain and then add nuts and fresh fruit to it)

Nuts (cashews and pistachios are my favorites)

Hard-boiled eggs

Beef Jerky 

Hummus with veggies

Veggie and meat wrap (I saw this on pinterest and it looks really good! Use lean deli meat like turkey)

Kefir (I love this stuff!)

Swiss cheese with fruit 

Almond Milk

Protein Bar (this is tricky because it can be high in sugar and carbs)

A protein shake is another tip I see online a lot. This is an iffy one for me. The problem is that most protein shakes don’t fill me up like food does. I’ve tried many times to supplement meals or snacks with a protein shake and I was hungry pretty quickly afterward. Another downside? Sugar. Protein shakes are often high in sugar. I like the Atkins protein shakes because they are low in calories and low in sugar/carbs. But again–it’s not filling me up like food does.

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The trick is to find food that is high in protein but not high in calories! Nuts are very high in calories. Luckily I only have to eat a few of them to take the edge off my hunger and lately I’ve been pairing pistachios with a string cheese. That combination is pretty tasty, especially when I’m craving salty/crunchy foods.

I need some more ideas. What are your favorite ways to eat more protein?

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Jun 242014
 

Over the weekend we had some house guests! Michael’s dad was visiting from Texas and my parents came down from Seattle to meet him. Unfortunately Michael’s stepmom wasn’t joining us, she was home in Texas. Michael and I have been together around 6 years now and yet it never quite worked out to have my parents come meet Michael’s dad. It took forever for us to schedule and coordinate a meeting with Michael’s mom and stepdad and they live in Portland! (You can read it here: Meet the Parents.) It just happened to work out this time that my parents were going to be in Oregon for something else at the same time as Michael’s dad’s visit. Finally!

On Sunday morning Michael, his dad and my dad went golfing together. I went for a quick swim and then came home to get ready for my mom and grandma to come over. They’d been at a party at my aunt’s house on Saturday. I fixed up a small snack-y lunch for the three of us to enjoy on the deck. It was a nice day, 80 degrees and sunny but there was a nice, cool breeze so it never felt too hot out there.

For lunch I made caprese and then put out some crackers, cream cheese and freshly smoked salmon my aunt made. It was so good! I love the fresh stuff and hers are the best. I also put out some stuffed olives and cantaloupe–just a few things to munch on.

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It was so nice just hanging out with my mom and grandma. We talked about the wedding plans, Grammy shared some family stories I hadn’t heard before and we just relaxed. My mom periodically went out into the yard and play ball with Bella who was having a BLAST. She never gets sick of playing ball. ;)

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The boys got home from golfing and Michael started grilling up the ribs. He’d seasoned them and wrapped them up the night before so they were all prepped and ready to go. While Michael was grilling, us girls played a game of Sequence. :) Now that was funny! My 92 year old Grandmother playing a board game… LOL

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I made a cucumber salad to go with the ribs. I’ve made a few different versions of the cucumber dill salad and while it’s always good no matter how you make it, I liked the previous recipe I made more than this one. Not sure why–maybe because I used fresh dill for this recipe? In the past I used dried dill so maybe that makes a different. Either way, it’s a refreshing summer salad that is really low in calories. This recipe is somewhere between 30-60 calories depending on the size of the cucumbers you use. I used three medium sized cucumbers and I also added some freshly chopped red onion–which was a good addition.

CUCUMBER DILL GREEK YOGURT SALAD

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Calories per serving: 30-60 calories

From: http://shewearsmanyhats.com/2013/05/cucumber-dill-greek-yogurt-salad/

Ingredients

  • 4 large cucumbers
  • 4 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon dill
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (substitute red or white wine vinegar if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Peel, half, seed, and slice cucumbers.
  2. In a medium bowl combine yogurt, dill, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  3. Add cucumber to bowl and toss with yogurt/dill mixture until combined well.
  4. Additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
  5. Refrigerate covered until ready to serve.
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I’m glad I went with a cucumber salad because it was a lot lighter than a pasta salad or coleslaw would have been. The ribs are so rich and heavy that you need a lighter side dish with it.

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Finally, the ribs were ready! They were pork ribs–Michael gets them at Costco. They are so good and so meaty! He did a great job grilling them. We used traditional flavored Stubbs BBQ sauce instead of the spicy (like we like it) but they were still great. I had a Ninkasi beer with dinner and we sat around the table. The first few minutes of dinner the guys were watching the last (unfortunate and disappointing) part of the US World Cup game and eating ribs so no one was speaking much. ;) The game was over and they shut it off and we had a great dinner just chatting about different things, family, travel, etc.

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Mmmm! Nothing better than some red meat, beer and summer! After a leisurely dinner with cantaloupe for dessert (I forgot to make a real dessert!) my parents were heading back to Seattle. I got one last picture with Gram before they left. (She hates the camera.)

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Words cannot express just how much I cherished my Sunday afternoon. From noon until after 6pm I just relaxed and did nothing but spend time with family. I wasn’t frantically trying to check off the stuff on my never-ending to-do list, or messing with my phone, I was just present and spending quality time with people I don’t see nearly enough. I know the reality is my Grandma is older and won’t be with us forever. When I see her and see just how much she’s aged, it makes me sad. I WANT her to live forever. She’s 92 and will be 93 in December. She’s a feisty old bird!

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Lots of hugs goodbye and they were off to Seattle. Michael’s dad was staying with us for a few more days so the boys watched more sports (there’s always SOMETHING on…), Bella was one pooped puppy! I decided to have a little me time and read. Nice end to the weekend. :)

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