pork chops

Lovely Lebanese

How was your weekend? Was it eventful? Low-key? Are you frantically trying to finish your holiday shopping? Thankfully I am done with all of my shopping and spent the weekend kind of chilling. Michael had a horrible head cold and spent the weekend on the couch. I ran a bunch of errands (I was OUT of library books and had to get some new ones…I’m totally like a junkie with my books).

I did have a great workout on Saturday morning. I’d been avoiding running for about two weeks. I’d run a mile a few times and the most recent time my knee hurt a bit so I back off. Luckily, Saturday’s one mile run was mostly pain-free. I think I have to let my knees warm a bit but once they do, the run always feels great!

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You know why that number is so high? KETTLE BELLS.  If you haven’t given them a try, do so. It’s fun and gets your heart rate up like nothing else. This time I even graduated to a heavier kettle bell. I’m now swinging the 20 pound bell instead of the 15.

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After the great run and workout, Michael and I met some friends at Nicholas restaurant for lunch and a little mini-Christmas celebration. My friend Star, Sam and her boyfriend joined us. The restaurant on NE Broadway is much better than the one on Grand (much bigger and not as busy).

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They brought out the piping hot bread that I love so much. It’s similar to pita bread but thinner. I got caught up with my friends and we exchanged cards and gifts. It was time to order lunch and everything sounded so good, it was hard to decide.

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I love Lebanese food! The flavors are always unique and a lot of the time I struggle to detect what spices they used. The dish I ended up getting was “Freekah.” It was smoked Egyptian rice with ground beef mixed into it, pine nuts, almonds and topped with shredded chicken. The Freekah looked like rice but it’s a unique grain that seemed similar to Israeli couscous. I think the chicken had a hint of cinnamon in it. I’m sorry my photo didn’t turn out better, because the food was really delicious. I especially liked the taziki sauce. I could seriously put that on everything. I had a ton leftover for my lunch (yay!).

We spent over two hours hanging out the restaurant and then parted ways. Michael was still feeling a little under the weather so he laid down and I finally go to spend a few hours of my own starting season 2 of “The Closer.” It was a nice relaxing afternoon.

We wanted something light for dinner after eating such a big lunch so we had pork chops and Brussels sprouts. I didn’t like pork for a really long time. It was just a boring protein, I guess. I’m completely converted now. Boneless pork chops are a great dinner option for athletes or someone trying to lose weight. Did you know that 4 oz. of pork tenderloin contains approximately 193 calories and has 33 grams of protein in it? That’s so lean and healthy!

A boneless pork chop (4 ounces) can be between 150-180 calories depending on what website tracker you use (I see varying numbers). According to Livestrong that 33 grams of protein in a chop is more than half the typical adult’s daily needs. It’s low in fat and packed with nutrients. Pork chops are relatively lean, not quite as low in fat as fish or a chicken breast, but still leaner than red meat.

Another great thing about pork chops–all you really need to season the meat is salt and pepper. Simple, delicious. Pair the pork chops with your favorite vegetable side dish and you have a very, very filling dinner for less than 500 calories. We eat a boneless pork chop for dinner probably once a week. Usually it’s paired with steamed broccoli or sauteed Brussels sprouts.

If you were like me and thought pork chops were kind boring, give it another chance. Here are some good recipe choices for pork chops:

Pork Chops au Poivre

Pork Chops with Ginger-Soy Glaze

Skillet Pork Chops Florentine

Let me know if you try any of those recipes and like them!

QUESTION: Do you like Lebanese food? What’s your favorite thing to order?

What I Ate For Dinner

First order of business: announcing the giveaway winner! I picked a winner for a copy of Diane’s book, 150 Pounds Gone Forever: How I Lost Half My Size and You Can To. The winner is:

#14 – KATHIE!

Kathie- email me asap so I can get the book out to you.

Dinners are my favorite meal. I love trying new recipes, and also eating some of the same basic types of meals. It’s comforting to know how many calories my meal will be because dinner is usually a combination of protein + veggie + salad. Dinners change with the seasons. In the summer time, it’s more fresh produce from our garden and there’s lots of grilling involved. In the winter I tend to try out more recipes than in the summer time simply because of the busy factor.

Here is a week’s worth of dinners at home to give you an example of a standard week.

Monday

It was the kind of Monday where we were both tired and not in the mood to cook anything complicated. Blackened salmon with steamed broccoli, and a side salad. This is a good standby dinner because we always have salmon in the freezer.

It’s also a good low-calorie dinner. This runs about 500 calories.

Tuesday

I cannot remember the last time Michael and I made burgers out of ground beef. The only time we have ground beef is in a restaurant. Our usual burgers are turkey burgers. But it was such a gorgeous day out that we wanted to grill something.

I have to say, there is just something amazing about a ground beef burger from the grill. The flavors were outstanding, from fat of course, but delicious.

I had a few chips with my dinner and a beer, too.  Michael measured out 4 ounces of meat on the kitchen scale and topped it with a slice of Havarti. Delicious!

Wednesday

This dinner was out of the norm and completely bizarre, but it worked. I got home from the gym and Michael said nothing was defrosted. Ooops! He wanted to get a quickie meal from the grocery store but I suggested shrimp instead. Shrimp defrosts very quickly.

We cooked some spinach raviolis, topped them with the cooked shrimp and then added sauteed Brussels sprouts.

The flavors worked well together and dinner was around 500 calories total.

Thursday

One of my favorite dinners was on the menu! Fajita salads. Why I love this dinner: it tastes great, it fills me up with the protein in the steak and the fiber in the beans, and I get lots of veggies on my plate.

This time was a little bit different; usually we have Michael’s amazing homemade guacamole with this salad and of course some chips. Doing that adds a ton of calories and make for a gut-bomb kind of dinner where I usually feel like I ate too much.

We skipped the chips and guacamole this time and I was pleasantly satisfied.  On the salad was the following: lettuce, black olives, jalapenos, cooked red peppers and onions, steak, salsa as dressing, black beans, steak and sour cream.

Friday

Fridays are long days for me. I am usually off to the pool right after work and don’t get home until fairly late. Michael is a sweetie and always has dinner planned and nearly ready when I walk in the door since I’m usually famished. It’s appreciated in so many ways! This time, I got home first. Michael was taking his friend Shoe to the airport so I made dinner for us after swimming.

I wanted to use up the red curry lentil soup that had been in the pantry far too long, yet it was only 140 calories a serving. I needed more than that! I decided to use it as a base and sauteed some carrots and onions and added that to the soup. It went together really well but I wished that I’d added chicken or rice to it. Next time.

We had the leftover sourdough bread from the night we had grilled cheese as a side with the soup. The soup was really tasty, with a hint of ginger and cinnamon. It was a tad on the sweet side and I bet chicken would really balance that out.

Saturday

It’s been months since Michael and I did a homemade pizza night! Michael got it started and I helped with the toppings. This time we used pepperoni, black olives, fresh Roma tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

It tasted great and it was nice to have it again after so long.

Sunday

Pork chop night! I have become a fan of pork chops, even though I thought pork was bland for so long. What changed it? Proper seasoning (thank you Michael) and combining the pork chops with my new favorite veggie: Brussels sprouts.

And I admit it, there might have been a teeny bit of bacon in that sautee of sprouts. But in my defense, it was only one slice of bacon. So we each had 4 ounces of boneless pork chops seasoned with steak seasoning from Costco. It’s a good seasoning for most meats–basically just salt and pepper.

I also had a spinach salad with some croutons, crumbled feta cheese, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This has quickly become one of our “staple” dinners because it’s easy and healthy and fairly low in calories.

QUESTION: What are some examples of a typical dinner in your house?