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.

veggie-protein

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.)

eggs

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.

peanutbowl2

 

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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Aug 062014
 

When the heat wave hit Portland (high 90’s) I decided I wanted to get one of those plastic kiddy pools for Bella. I searched everywhere and couldn’t find anything! I ended up going to 5 different stores and they were all sold out (or only had the inflatable pools that Bella would pop in one second).

One evening I was driving home from work through Sellwood and spotted a pool outside a hardware store. I immediately pulled over and ended up buying the last pool they had! It BARELY fit in my car. I was so excited! I took it home and couldn’t wait for Bella to frolic in the pool and cool down.

pool2

Yeah, I apparently just bought a giant water dish. That above photo is Bella drinking out of her pool. :P We keep trying to get her to play in it but she won’t. I don’t get it. It’s almost 100 degrees out and you’d think she’d love it. I sent a video of her drinking out of it to her foster mom, Jen. She promptly sent me a picture from last summer when Bella played in her pool! So I know she likes them, why won’t she get in our pool?!?

pool1

Maybe by the end of summer she’ll be into the pool. Anyways, on to dinner.

Despite it being a hot summer day and a cold salad or seafood would have been more appropriate, I was craving homemade marinara sauce and gnocchi. When I got home from work I started to simmer the sauce immediately. I added some fresh oregano and rosemary from my garden, too, with a splash of red wine. While the sauce was simmering, Michael and I took Bella for a long walk. It was stifling outside.

When we got back from the walk I cooked the beef with a chopped up onion and added that to the sauce. The recipe called for it to simmer for about 2 hours, or longer, and I’d say it cooked for about 1.5 hours before we ended up eating. Here is the recipe for the sauce:

Pasta Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Yield: 6

Calories per serving: 260

From: http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/great-grandmas-pasta-sauce/

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. 80/20 ground beef OR 90/10 ground beef
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 6 oz. water
  • 1 24 oz. jar tomato puree
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Pinch of onion powder
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot, saute garlic until soft and fragrant in 2 tbsp. of olive oil, about 2 minutes.
  2. Throw your meat in with the garlic and brown until meat has been thoroughly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour in the tomato paste, tomato puree, and seasoning, including the fresh basil. Stir to mix well. With the 6 oz. can from the tomato paste, fill that with water and pour it in the stockpot as well.
  4. Let mixture simmer, uncovered, for 2 or more hours (the longer the better, but minimum 2 hours), stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve hot over fresh pasta.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=43611

While I liked the sauce a lot (it was thick and creamy), it could have used some more garlic and maybe some more salt. Other than that I enjoyed it. I made some gluten free spaghetti for Michael and I had gnocchi from Trader Joe’s (I love that stuff).

While everything was finishing up I made a salad and dressing from scratch. I know that’s not a big deal but I rarely make my own dressing and I really want to try and do this more often. It’s pretty easy and you can make it any way you want, really.

dressing

I mixed up this dressing, using a Pomegranate balsamic in the recipe. It made enough for both of us to have a salad and there’s some leftover for maybe two more salads. Here is the recipe:

Balsamic Dressing
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 cup
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup balsamic
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar or agave
  • 1 Teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a tightly closed bottle and shake thoroughly. Shake before each use.

Salad was greens, grape tomatoes and orange peppers. I loved the dressing. It was mild and delicious. I’m definitely going to experiment with more homemade dressings. I found a few that sounded really good on Pinterest using Greek yogurt as a base.

salad1

 

Dinner was served! I topped the sauce with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. I love gnocchi. I’m not a huge pasta eater but gnocchi is fantastic! (One of these days I will try and make my own…) I opened a bottle of Claret wine to go with dinner and it a nice combination.

spaghetti1

 

claret

There was enough pasta sauce leftover that I have enough for some leftovers and then I froze the rest for another evening when I crave this but don’t have 2 hours in me to cook…

What is your favorite spaghetti sauce recipe?

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