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Archive for the ‘Dinners This Week’ Category

I promised I wouldn’t talk about it a lot, and yet here I am, talking about it immediately after I made that promise. Well. Feel free to skip straight to the meals below if you want. Or to skip reading altogether and come back in three months when I will be DONE with this.

It has been one week and two days and I can officially say that I hate the Keto plan. It is miserable. I am miserable. I feel constantly nauseated – a low-level nausea that has persisted since I finally made it past the absolutely dreadful “Keto Flu,” which I would say lasted until Friday and consisted of constant nausea, terrible headache, full-body aches, and brain fog. I hate eating and cooking, which makes me deeply sad because I love eating and cooking. I am irritable and snappy, particularly just in advance of meal times. I am constantly on my phone – looking for recipes, trying to figure out what I can eat and how much, logging my stupid water intake. My brain is absolute mush – I cannot remember ANYTHING, I am clumsy, I am flaky. I am peeing ALL THE TIME because a) you are supposed to drink a lot of water, so I am, and b) because I am constantly thirsty. My jeans are not fitting any better. My joints hurt. I have no extra energy. I get restless legs in the evenings, which – for me – can only be treated with sleep. But then my sleep is fitful or interrupted (I woke up at 3:00 for NO REASON the other morning and then couldn’t fall asleep for ninety minutes). Which, of course, could be related to Current Events (evergreen statement), but I am fine with blaming everything bad on Keto. It is torture. Purely voluntary, I can literally quit at any time, torture.

HOWEVER. I have already shed 6% of my body weight. In one week. I would love, in my WILDEST DREAMS, to lose 20% of my body weight. But I would be happy with 15%. And it seems like I am on my way to achieving that goal if I can just hang in there. A friend, yesterday, told me my face looks thinner. (Before you try to beat him up, please understand that he KNOWS I am doing Keto and prefaced his comment by saying, “I really don’t know if I should say this, because I have a policy of never commenting on people’s bodies, but I know you are putting in a lot of work…” And I said, “Go ahead, say it.”) Anyway, I would prefer that my thighs looked thinner (not that I want anyone to comment on my thighs, literally ever), but face is good, I guess. Well. Good, but not my favorite compliment.

(By the way, if it were just me, I would not mention that I am doing Keto to anyone in real life. It makes me super uncomfortable to give people a reason to look at me, and evaluate my size and shape.) (SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE.)

If the pace of weight-loss continues, then I will count this awful, awful, horribleness a great success. But I reserve the right to stop AT ANY MOMENT because it truly is awful. My poor husband hates it, if possible, even more than I do. And he wants to quit So Badly. I keep wheedling him to power! through!, because I am DEEPLY HOPEFUL that there is some kind of Keto inflection point that we just need to cross… and then it will be fine.

Maybe this is like when you start a new exercise regimen. And it hurts and you hate every minute and you dread dragging yourself out of bed to do the exercise. But then you start seeing results, and it becomes worth it. The pain feels like a challenge. You start to look forward to exercising. Or, at least, it becomes more automatic rather than something you have to gear yourself up for. This is what I hope Keto is like. The novelty wore off and now we’re in the thick of it and we just have to keep our heads down and move forward because RESULTS.

To drag this topic out even further: it is also really hard to talk about Keto around my daughter. I try to be open about what we are doing and, instead of talking about desired weight loss, focus on how we are using this method to recalibrate our eating habits. We’d been eating too much of the foods that you need to eat in moderation, and so we are trying to reset the way we think about portion sizes and food. I am also trying to explain to her that we are adults, and fully grown. She, on the other hand, is a child. And her brain and body are still growing and changing and so she needs a wide variety of ALL foods, even those that we are avoiding. Also, I am trying to keep a close watch on my language: instead of saying, “oh, I can’t eat that brownie,” I will say, “I am not going to eat that brownie” or “I am choosing not to eat that brownie right now.” To make it clear that it’s not TABOO or BAD, just not something I am choosing to eat right now. This is more important when it comes to things like mango and blueberries, which are HEALTHFUL, GOOD FOODS. And yet they are foods that my Keto app tells me get an F. (Bacon gets an A.)

Okay, this is way more than I wanted to type about this hellbeast of a diet. Now, it is time to post about dinners. Which I really don’t want to think about, let alone eat. Anyway, here’s my sad, defeated, TOTALLY VOLUNTARY meal plan for the week:

Dinners for the Week of March 2-March 10

  • Peri-Peri Chicken with Roasted Zucchini

Note: Peeps, this is simply a chicken breast marinated in peri-peri sauce. (Which is delicious, if you haven’t tried it.) And then some cut-up zucchini tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper. I am craving nothing but vegetables, and I could not resist the siren song of the zucchini at the grocery store this weekend. They are carb-heavy – two small zucchini eat up 20% of my daily carbs – but I DON’T CARE. I need vegetables. (By the way, if it’s not clear, two small zucchini is not my desired amount of zucchini. I want to eat two LARGE zucchini. But this – my stereotypical-American perspective on what constitutes an appropriate portion size – is part of the problem I am hoping to address with Keto. Maybe two small zucchini is, in fact, a more appropriate amount.)

 

  • Taco Salad

Note: I can’t even get it up for taco salad. It just sounds like a lot of chewing.

 

Note: This sounds like fat overload. I wonder if I can squeeze in some sort of salad on the side?

 

  • Leftovers

 

Note: There is absolutely no way this will taste like regular BBQ sauce.

 

Note: If there’s no good looking halibut, I might use cod or sea bass instead. 

 

[Edited to add: OMG I forgot about planning something for dinner Sunday. I am telling you, my brain no longer functions.]

Note: Hell, maybe we will throw this diet out the window and go gorge ourselves on chips and beans at our favorite Mexican place.

 

Tell me about all the delicious meals you are eating this week. Especially if there are vegetables involved.

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After a VERY frustrating month and a half of trying to lose any, any at all, of the weight I gained from eating my feelings all autumn (and, simultaneously, a month and a half of reminding myself that weight has nothing to do with my self-worth and that maybe I am just This Size and should embrace it and worrying that I am setting a bad example for Carla by “dieting” and churning with ALL of the Fraughtness that comes with wanting to be a certain size in our society today and facing a truly insurmountable resistance to buying myself new jeans), I have persuaded my husband to try the Keto plan with me. This is literally Day Three, so please understand that I may give it up any second now and never speak of it again. (I mean, no carbs I can sort-of live with… but NO SAUCES? No BEANS? And the limit on Healthful Vegetables – like, I typically have to restrict myself to two cups of LETTUCE!!!!! to stay within my carb allotment – has me in a panic.) (I understand that I am CHOOSING this, by the way.) (I don’t really plan to speak of keto/diet stuff, that often, but it may shift the tenor of my weekly dinner plan posts and/or the tenor of my general complaining, so I am warning you about it now.)

Anyway, meal planning is newly challenging because I am trying to emphasize fat and protein over carbohydrates. Here’s what’s on the menu this week:

Dinners for the Week of February 24-March 1 (WHAT. HOW IS IT MARCH ALREADY SLOW DOWN TIME OMG)

Note: There were some absolutely beautiful tuna steaks on sale at Costco this weekend, so I snapped them up. We will not be eating the sautéed red pepper portion of this meal; instead I will be sautéing some green beans. This is because I already have the green beans and I don’t want to waste them, not because of some red-pepper-related bias.

Note: I fully realize that the Internet has been swooning over this recipe for eons. I have read about it with suspicion for many years and NOW is finally the time to try it out.

 

 

Note: I haven’t figured out what I will pair with this yet. Maybe some avocado?

 

  • Leftovers of some sort or possibly eggs

 

  • OUT

Note: My birthday is this week, so we will be going out to celebrate. I am already feeling grouchy about not being able to eat all the things I want to eat — solely because of completely voluntary and self-imposed restrictions! — but I think we have found a restaurant that serves some nice fish options. And the whole point of doing Keto is to reset my eating habits, so a little limitation on the all-out scarf-fest I would otherwise be doing on my birthday is probably not a bad thing.

 

What’s on your menu this week?

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Another Call Week is over – woo hoo! But that means I have no excuse to persist in Lax Meal Planning. Boo. Plus, Valentine’s Day is Friday, and I always feel some (100% self-imposed) pressure to do Something Special. Ugh. Maybe I will serve Reese’s peanut butter hearts and call it a day.

Dinners for the Week of February 10-February 17

  • Leftovers/Microwave Meals
  • Chili

Are you making something special for Valentine’s Day? Whether you are or you aren’t, what’s your favorite Valentine’s Day candy?

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You would think that having basically covered two meals each week (Wednesday crockpot, Thursday microwave meals) for the foreseeable future, that menu planning would be much easier. I suppose it IS a bit easier. But I am still feeling like every week’s meal plan is such a SLOG.

Part of it is that winter has resettled itself over my city. We have been having intermittent Days of Snow and Days of Rain. The snow is pretty, until the rain turns it into a sloppy mess. And every day the sky is as heavy and cheerless as wet cement.

Part of it is that I have serious Crockpot Limitations. First Limitation: I am really picky, and, it seems, especially so about what I will entertain crockpot-wise. I have been googling and going through many long lists of Healthy Crockpot Options! and Easy Slow Cooker Menu Ideas! and What to Make in Your Slow Cooker! and Crockpot Favorites! and so few of them appeal. SIGH. Then I grow very impatient and irritated with myself, because why can’t I have a broader, more accepting palate??? And then I get snippy with myself, because I am nearly 40, so it’s unlikely that my tastes will change and I refuse to make something that I know I probably won’t like just out of principle and then have to throw away perfectly good (for someone else) food. Just stick with food you KNOW you like! What’s wrong with that?

It’s exhausting and fruitless to argue with yourself, especially over something as ridiculous as what to make in the slow cooker.

Looking back, where I listed “First Limitation,” it seemed like I had multiple limitations. But I am too tired/annoyed with myself to remember what they are.

Well, let’s trudge together through some dinner options, shall we?

Dinners for the Week of January 28-February (!!!!!) 3

 

What are you eating this week, Internet?

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How is it January twenty-first? January usually drags along at a meandering pace, completely oblivious to how much longer a grey, frigid day passes than a regular one. But this particular January is going by at a clip I am deeply uncomfortable with. Is this old age? Constant shock and denial of how quickly time is passing? It feels like I was posting last week’s meals just a few seconds ago. And yet… it’s a whole week later and the month is days from closing and, well, I wanted the final year of my thirties to go a bit more slowly is what I’m saying.

In any event, it is yet again time to plan meals for the week.

Dinners for the Week of January 21-27

  • Black Bean Burritos

This is what we’re eating tonight. I just stocked up on my favorite hot sauce and I am READY to pour half a bottle on top of some cheese smothered beans.

This is a new-to-me recipe and I’m pretty excited to try it. As per usual, I will probably throw a bell pepper or two into this to amp-up the veggie quotient.

Follow up: This was not a keeper. The curry flavor was kind of overpowering and it just wasn’t a favorite in our house.

  • Microwave Meals/Leftovers

This is working out pretty well as our Thursday Night Dinner. I am kind of enjoying trying new options. My expectations are so very low, it’s always a pleasant surprise when something is edible.

  • Taco Salad

We haven’t had tacos for a LONG while. It’s time.

  • Date Night!

Technically not really a date night date night. But we are going to a friend’s house and they are cooking us dinner AND date nights are a hot commodity around here so I’m going with it.

 

  • Chicken Paprikas

Another old favorite that we haven’t had in a long while. And the weather is really making me crave hot creamy carb-y foods.

 

What are you eating this week?

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We have been fooling around with Carla’s after-school schedule a bit. I am a little apprehensive about it, because I worry it might be Too Much. But we survived the fall, when she had soccer two days a week in addition to three other weekly activities, so I hope we can get through it.

She has now has an after school activity on Monday, back-to-back activities on Wednesday (apprehensive moan…), an activity on Thursday, and an activity one Saturday a month. I have been trying to get Carla to take an active role in not just choosing her activities, but in thinking through whether she will have enough bandwidth to see them through. For instance, we have been talking at Great Length about the back-to-back Wednesday things. The first activity is year-round. The second is intermittent, for I think six weeks at a time. We did them both for a while in the fall, and it was SUPER HARD. But it may have been harder on me, because I am the one who has to actually get us to each activity on time. And because the Wednesday activities require driving on the freeway, which I hate. Towards the end of the six-week activity, I think I was finally getting the hang of it, so I am hopeful that I can apply those lessons to this next session. Carla was at first worried she would be too tired to undertake the second activity, but we did a “test run” this week, after her first activity resumed, and she decided that she still had enough energy to go through with the second activity. And it’s something she loves and it’s only for six weeks, which I think we can handle. (I hope.)

But this is all to say that I now need TWO nights of Very Easy meals. I am thinking that I need to have one crockpot meal each week, for Wednesday or Thursday (which is the night we have a late-ish activity) and then the other night we will eat leftovers or microwave meals. Yes, I said microwave meals. I have been buying the occasional Lean Cuisine and it is the epitome of convenience. (My favorite Lean Cuisine is the Santa Fe-Style Rice and Beans. Yes, eating it is often an exercise in Bean Hide and Seek, but it is still quite tasty when covered with enough Cholula.)

This week’s meal plan feels odd to me because there’s only ONE new recipe on the list (and no tacos!!!!!). But I am trying to remember that I have LOTS of old favorites and that new doesn’t necessarily equal better or even good.

Dinners for the Week of January 14-20

 

  • Crockpot Mulligatawny Soup

 

  • Leftover Soup or Microwave Meals

 

  • Date Night

 

 

  • Broccoli Beef (with plenty of bell peppers for me, because I don’t eat the beef)

 

 

 

What are you eating this week, Internet?

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First meal plan of the year! Woo! I am pumped!

Okay, I am not really pumped. But I am full of that special January vigor that comes with the promise of a New Year… and its magical transformative powers that just might result in a New You – a You who approaches meal planning with creativity and enthusiasm. A You who craves simple meals of grilled fish and wilted kale instead of tacos and pizza. A you who considers a yogurt cup and a handful of almonds a Filling Meal. A You who preps the week’s meals on Sunday afternoon. A You who folds each load of clean laundry the exact instant it emerges from the dryer, still warm and Snuggle-fresh. A You who neither hits the snooze button on her alarm nor hits the Ignore Limit on the self-imposed time limit she’s implemented on her phone.

This You does not exist, nor will she ever, but her mirage still shimmers before you, lit by the last remnants of Christmas lights and festooned in tinsel. There is ample time to discover she is a mere apparition.

While we wait: this week’s meals.

Dinners for the Week of January 7 – 13

Note: This is our final HelloFresh meal because we cancelled the subscription. It was definitely fun to get the little boxes in the mail, and fun to try new meals, and fun to not have to plan for or buy for two meals a week. But the meals were a little too fussy – as I think Lee and I decided was the appropriate term – for me to want to pay $50 a week for them. I can make $50 stretch a LOT further, thank you very much. Also, there is lots of chopping required. And WAY too many pans – I choose meals purposely to minimize work and pan usage, while HelloFresh is really loosey-goosey with pans and pots and cutting boards and measuring cups. Apparently the HelloFresh meal designers believe we all live in a Sur la Table or perhaps have several dishwashers at our disposal. Plus, the portions were too small, but that’s more of a Me problem. I guess this is all a Me problem.

Follow Up: This was pretty good, but fussy.  And too much happened all at once at the end, which I hate. The flavor of the sauce was good, but salty. And the zucchini was pretty salty, too. The best thing about the meal was the scallion couscous, which I like enough to recreate in the future (if I remember it).

 

Follow Up: This was very good, but it took much longer in the air fryer than I anticipated, so the timing with the green beans was messed up.

Note: I am trying to remember that Thursdays are rough days (Carla has an activity and we get home quite late), and it’s helpful to have a crockpot meal in the rotation to take some of the pressure off of cooking while your exhausted child needs to go immediately to bed.

Follow Up: These were SO GOOD. The chipotle sauce was super spicy, but delicious. I did as the recipe suggested and doubled the sauce recipe and then froze the extra. I anticipate using this as a marinade and then again to make slow cooker tacos. YUM. I also made up a quick batch of avocado crema (with Greek yogurt) and added some fresh corn to the tacos. Delicious!

Note: My husband pointed out that there are TWO Thai-style meals on the menu this week. Well, yes. A) They are different flavors – one is a basil-y stir fry and the other is a peanutty, coconutty quinoa bowl – which makes them seem very different, to me. And B) DO NOT DAMPEN MY ENTHUSIASM. Also I haven’t decided yet if I will swap out the chicken in this meal for shrimp. Game time decision, I think.

 

 

 

Note: I am going to try out the dough recipe from the link above – I made bagels with a similar recipe and they were surprisingly edible. We shall see if this is a “healthier” way to continue our weekly pizza night tradition.

Follow up: This dough is so easy to make, and it was definitely fine for a pizza crust. It got nice and crispy, it held up under the toppings. My husband found it pretty satisfying. I didn’t love the taste, and I missed the texture of my favorite real pizza dough, but the main benefit to me was that it was denser than regular dough and so filled me up more quickly. I would definitely make this again.

 

I am also making a big pot of this French Onion and Mushroom Soup, for lunches.

Follow Up: This soup is good — and I like the red wine base. But I cannot taste the mushrooms at all, so it may not be worth it (because the mushrooms require so much extra time to wash, slice, and sauté). Also, the broth was still very sweet, so I had to dump in a bunch of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce until the balance was right.

 

 

 

That’s it, Internet! What’s on your meal plan for the week?

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