Monday, May 17, 2010

Manic Mondays Indeed.

I realize many people probably dread Mondays. I'm no different. Even though most weeks I work seven days a week (split between my paid job, and my volunteer position), I still can discern that a monday is noticeably different from any other day of the week. Monday's are when I go to my volunteer position as a teacher/classroom aide at a local high school. It's rewarding, fulfilling a need for me to stay current in the education system - but gosh darn does 6 am come too soon.

On my good days, I pack up a breakfast to go. Most times however, I just skip it (a big no-no). Then for lunch, if i have any energy after working the weekend, I may manage to make myself something to bring. Usually, however, for mondays I buy it at the local grocery store.

There are two major problems with me buying my lunch. The first is the nutrition. When you really think about it, how convenient is it to buy a head of broccoli, or a package of spinach? One suggestion would be to hit up the frozen dinner section - however, these need to be closely scrutinized. Usually they are chock full of calories, saturated fat and sodium. Not to mention all the preservatives and additives. Plus, I don't eat meat. There are very few options available to me. I did come across one selection however, and I was quite surprised. It is the "No Name" brand from the Loblaws chain. It is the Pomodoro Rigatoni. It isn't exactly "nutritious" but at 190 calories and 3 g of fat - it is something I can get behind to tide me over till I can get home and make myself something appropriate. Then I usually go for an apple and a bag of baby carrots.

The second issue with buying your lunch is the cost. With student debt galore, I am trying to cut costs anywhere and everywhere. Brown bagging it has eliminated a lot of superfluous spending. This is why I choose to go to the grocery store instead of the Subway that is in the same plaza. Even though those subs are advertised at 3.49, after you add the taxes and any drinks/sides - you can easily be paying upwards of $6-10 for a meal. The No-Name frozen dinner was $0.93, + a $0.97 bag of baby carrots and a $0.21 apple, I was doing just fine with curbing my expenditures.

When I got home from school it is usually around 4pm ish. I don't care what time people traditionally start dinner - i got those pots and cutting boards out. I'm ravenous by the time I get home. Why wait for dinner? I put a pot on for some pasta and then made myself a little snack to tide me over till the dinner was actually done.

Does anyone else do this? I feel like by making a snack before preparing a meal it prevents me from snacking through out the dinner making process. I probably ingest fewer calories by doing this. I had my typical 2 servings of almond cheese, and a serving of breton crackers.

I seriously need to invest in some more prettier plates. I don't know what inspired my mother to buy these. Personally they remind me of the metal camping plates and cups we had.  Nothing says inspired cooking like forest green plates with bird poo paint splatters all over it.

For dinner I had some left overs with grilled veggies. I made sure to weigh out just 1/2 a serving of whole wheat pasta. It was the perfect amount!  And half a serving is only 150 calories. That is quite manageable.

I am in love with my digital scale. It makes portion control so much easier. I got this star-frit version at Canadian tire for $13.99 *sale price. I can honestly say that this, plus my measuring spoons/cups is a major contributing factor to my decreasing waist size.

I decided to rummage through the vegetable drawer to see what was in there. I found 1/2 a zucchini, 1 portobello mushroom and some button mushrooms. Perfect! Grilled veggies (hah. it was on a frying pan...grilled inspired veggies then). I added a bit of onion for the flavour - i love onions in everything!

My Grilled Veggies (Simple!)

1. Slice up your favourite veggies. Peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, onions and bok choy work really well.

2. Heat up your frying pan on medium heat (or bbq). Add 1 tsp of canola oil.

3. Add in your onions first. They take the longest to cook. Saute them for at least 5 minutes before you add in your other veggies.

4. Add in the other veggies. Mix around frequently.

5. Add in your favourite flavourings. My standby is about 2-3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar + 1/8 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Mix together and pour over veggies.

6. Stir mix together continuously until all veggies are well coated. Keep stirring for about 6-10 minutes until desired tenderness is reached. I prefer my veggies to be a bit more on the firm side, so I had them on the heat for less.

If you are using the bbq, then you probably have - or should have - one of these:

This is a great tool. Place it on your BBQ and allow it to heat up. Than you just put on your vegetables. Whenever I am grilling up a veggie burger, I always make sure to add a few grilled veggies using this. It definitely gives that distinctive BBQ flavour.

For the rest of dinner, I had my left over black beans with tomatoes and herbs.

I drizzled the pasta and the grilled veggies with 1 tsp of FlaxseedFlaxseed oil contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids. It can help prevent cancer, increase metabolism, strengthen finger and toe nails, increases body's energy and stamina...the list is endless. Click here for more information.

It is important to note that you should NEVER cook with flaxseed oil. Only use it for salads, smoothies or post cooking when food isn't as hot. This is because the fat in flaxseed oil is highly unstable and can denature quite quickly. When this happens, the oil goes rancid and has quite a bitter taste. This is the reason why you should always keep your flaxseed oil in the fridge. I have a terrible habit of leaving products out. Well, my mom put my flaxseed oil away in the cabinet with the rest of our oils ... it was disgusting. It almost tasted like very, very strong tea that had been sitting out too long. Needless to say, it had to be dumped.

And finally. This is the reason why I need to photograph the food I eat everyday, and not only that - but eat everyday!

At around 9 pm tonight I was hungry. Believe it or not, late night snacking isn't one of my major problems. Nor do I believe that late night snacking will lead to weight gain (so long as you stay within your healthy calorie range). However, I certainly did not eat enough calories today, and by the late evening I was craving carbs and salt.  At least I was proportional with this snack. I had two pieces of wheat bread, with 1 tsp each of margarine and jam. I feel quite like a hypocrite. I posted a blog about how I am trying to get away from highly processed foods - and I eat the one thing that, frankly, I don't think can even be considered food. I just have to remember it's a process, one of which I have to trust.

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