Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rice Bowls - Boring Staple or Exciting Change of Pace?

I stumbled upon this concoction by accident, but it has become a staple in my menu planning!

I was standing in the kitchen on a Monday night.
Meals for the week had been prepared, but I had never finished planning my menu.
I was looking at the first week of a new workout program, and I wanted to make sure I was bringing my best to the table.

...and according to my meal plan, I was missing a serving of protein and a serving of carbs...

I looked around my kitchen, feeling defeated.
Then I saw the bag of rice.  I thought, "Rice!  Rice is a carb!  Can I think of a protein to serve with rice?"
I went to my fridge and discovered a package of ground beef that my husband had stashed away...

"Hey, honey!  Do you have any plans for this ground beef?"
...Not, yet.  Why?
"Can I use it?"
...yeah, go for it.

I threw some rice in the rice cooker (have you tried one?  Where has this been all my life?  Why didn't I have one of these before??), turned it on, and proceeded to cook some beef while I waited for the "done" light to come on.

When it all came together, I used my handy portion containers to dole it out into bowls.
I knew I would eat it regardless of it's level of deliciousness, but I was really hoping it wasn't going to get old too fast...

By this time, my husband had wandered into the kitchen dying to know what I was making that smelled so amazing....
So, I handed him a bowl and a spoon.
He had intended to only try a bite, but the next thing I knew, he was asking me if he could have the rest of it!

I figured that was a good start, anyway.
It turned out that I enjoyed it just as much on day 5 as I did on day 1!
I filed it away in my stack of go-to recipes.

I've played with it over the months and come up with several variations.
Hubby also has variations of his own!
However, there are some techniques that just *really* add to the basic dish.

Of course, for me, steaming the rice is pretty easy and straight forward.  Just drop rice and water in the cooker (2:1 ratio) and let the cooker tell you when it's done!
Oh, how well that works for my ADD mind!!

My favorite is to mix 50/50 brown rice with tri-color quinoa.  YUM!!
The whole thing freezes and reheats well, so I can make 2 weeks worth in one go!
...I might need a bigger freezer, soon...

freshly cooked - ready to portion!

I portion out the rice for however many servings I made and let the steam dissipate for a few minutes...
However, while I wait for the rice to cook, I get to work on my perfect ground beef!

Easy peasy - and oh so consistent

You can certainly purchase ground beef at the store (and we do when time is short), but we've been experimenting with buying a chunk of lean round roast and grinding our own!

You can season the beef however you like, but my go-to is Mrs. Dash Table Blend seasoning.
I also enjoy Lawry's for something different...
Or Cavender's Greek seasoning when I'm in the mood for a kick...
The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!!

While you *can* just brown your beef in the skillet on the stove, I much prefer the touch of the grill.
So, I form up patties (after the seasoning is well mixed), and send them out with Hubby.
If, for some reason he isn't grilling (like, if it's just too cold to be outside), I'll stick my patties under the broiler.  I'll broil them for about 5 minutes, flip them, then stick them back in for another 5 minutes.
They come out browned and juicy!
The next best thing to grilling!!

Making due when we aren't grilling...

Now, my husband will just drop a patty in with his rice, but I'm really big on texture.  A chunck of beef with my rice just doesn't match, to me.
I do some extra work and plop those patties in a bowl and take my Pampered Chef Mix and Chop to those suckers!  I turn them back into ground beef!

I really love my Pampered Chef tools!

Yes, it takes extra time and a bit of persistence...
But the texture with the rice is just perfect!!

getting there...

It's the little things that make me happy...

portioned out and ready to go!

Of course, once that's done, the meat is easily portioned into the bowls with the rice.
This serves as an emergency meal or an excellent base for something more interesting!

I ***LOVE*** to add a cup of steamed broccoli florets!
Can you ever go wrong with beef and broccoli??

John will add Pav Baji Vegetable Curry to his and spice things up a bit.

As simple as this dish is, I've found it incredibly satisfying and an indispensable staple in my rotation of recipes!

What would you add to your rice bowls??

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Getting Naked - The ingredients to a perfect storm

While talking with some friends, I finally put into words why I wasn't as "put together" or "owning it" the way that they thought I was.  The way things look from outside can be quite deceiving.
The following is what I composed (and later elaborated a little) to try to fully explain the extent of the craziness in my brain that no one else can see.

My anxiety has been through the roof, lately.  Along with a few other things...
Here's the domino effect that I see in action in my life:

1) ADD makes everything just a little harder. Every failure feels personal, even if it isn't. Self doubt gets planted by the mind spin of negative self talk. (I'm pretty sure I made up that term "mind spin").

Feels like there are ALWAYS too many tabs open in my mental browser...

2) Negative self talk and self doubt lead to more self esteem issues and open the door to depression - making everything THAT MUCH HARDER and using MORE ENERGY for EVERY FREAKING TASK!
(Have you heard of the spoon theory?)

3) Things get forgotten or there just isn't enough time. This triggers anxiety over:
- the stuff not done
- the stuff forgotten
- the stuff that obviously will never get done
- planning, double and triple booking yourself, figuring out what to cancel, calling people and actually canceling....
- being tired
- what other people think of you for flaking out
- what other people think of you for being so unproductive
- what other people think of you for forgetting to call them back
- when people get frustrated with you for interrupting
- the disheveled state of your living space
- the disheveled state of your work space
- what you might be forgetting RIGHT NOW
- all that other stuff that hasn't even come through my mind yet...

anxiety winds around tighter and tighter...

4) Exacerbated chronic pain from the emotional stress of the other 3 states.
I have 2 bulged discs that flare up in the cold.  Or when I sit for too long.  Or when I've twisted wrong.  Or, apparently, when emotions are spiraling and feeding into my insecurities...

You never know when the nerve pain is going to rear it's ugly head...
5) Each of the previous 4 conditions sucks more energy alone than a normal person would need to do any given task. As they stack and combine, it takes a monumental effort just to get out of bed, let alone get through the day, so even if you sleep for 8 or 9 hours, you'll never feel rested because it takes 12 hours of solid rem sleep cycles to recover all the energy used the previous day just to function at a basic level....

How can I possibly get out of this spiraling mess??

And that's all BEFORE any major life stressors!!
(Like the truck breaking... 3 times in 2 months... The house breaking...  First the kitchen faucet, now the dishwasher... Medical bills... Taxes....)

When you're stuck inside of this perfect storm, it feels like you're never going to be able to get out.  It all just spins together into a vortex of chaos, emotion, and hopelessness.
If you are stuck in this "swirling vortex of terror", I need you to know that you are not alone.

Let me repeat that.


I'm sharing my journey with the world.  If it helps even ONE person find a small moment of peace, it is all worth it.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

On the Menu - May 2016

I'm getting better about actually keeping track of those meals that work well with my lifestyle.
I'm aiming to try one new recipe a month.
Sometimes, it's a hit.  Sometimes it's a flop.  And sometimes, it just needs some tweaking to optimize it just for me!!

I've started to annotate what containers I'm meeting with each meal - according to 21 Day Fix!

The hearts at the bottom are listed in 2 columns.  The column on the left is what I "should" be eating each day, and the column on the right is how my menu stacks up.

I love the visual color coding here!!

As usual, I'm still drinking the exact same Shakeology recipe every day. 
However, I did pick up the "Barista Pack" to change it up a little!  It includes Chocolate, Vanilla, and CafĂ© Latte!  Is that exciting, or what??

Hard Cooked Eggs are so travel friendly and easy to prepare!  They make a perfect go-to protein.  Remember that 1 serving of protein is 2 Hard Cooked eggs!

I serve my Honey Sesame Chicken over rice and with a side of veggies - the veggies vary according to what I have on hand...  I'm not 100% happy with this recipe yet, but I'll keep tweaking it until I get it right!  I used to get a honey sesame seasoning mix, but I haven't found it in stores for at least 5 years....  So, I just keep experimenting!

Carrots provide an easy snack with a satisfying crunch.  Talk about an easy green container!

Bananas are also easy and travel well, but 1 purple container is only half of a banana...  I don't know how to retrain myself and only eat half of the banana...  I should have gone with berries, but I wasn't that organized...  ADD strikes again...  That could be the story of my life!!  LOL

The Mac and Cheese with chicken and broccoli comes from the FIXATE cookbook and just ROCKS!!  I decided the recipe needs twice as much broccoli!  LOL
I give it 2 thumbs up for sure!

How do you keep track of your nutrition?  How do you plan?
Where do you get stuck??

Friday, May 6, 2016

Perfection versus Excellence

Perfection or excellence?
It's a fine line.

Anyone who has struggled with perfectionism will understand.
I face the same struggle.

One of these leaves room for mistakes to happen.
And one does not.

"Make no mistakes" is a heavy burden to bear.  I wish that burden on no one.

When I was young, I was told constantly, "You could be a straight A student, if you only tried."
I didn't try.  I had a dismal GPA in my youth.

After experiencing the real world for a while, I decided I was finally ready for college.  And, for the first time in my life, I carried a 4.0 GPA.
I had a professor who I suspect adjusted my grade up from a B to an A after acing my final. (I had failed my first test, but the material was cumulative, so I obviously had learned it.)  And while I understand logic, I'm thinking it may not have done me any favors.
My identity became wrapped up in that GPA.  And when I got my first B in a tough chemistry class, I cried.  Literally.

Who cries over a B??

I will NOT strive for perfection in my health habits.
I aim for excellence.
Excellence allows for birthday cake and cocktails.
Excellence allows for rest when I am ill.
Excellence allows for substitution when I am on the road. (Yoga is much easier in a hotel room than weight lifting!!)

The danger of perfection is the disappointment when a day gets missed...
"I couldn't fit my workout in today.  Why do I even bother?"
"I ate those cookies... I should have had celery instead.  I'm obviously not cut out for this healthy nonsense..."
Trust me. As someone who also struggles with ADD, I understand how those words and thoughts get stuck - spinning through the brain over and over and over again.
But they are lies!
Wicked lies!

Excellence offers the opportunity to improve tomorrow.
Excellence recognizes how much I have already accomplished.

What has excellence done for you lately?
I still left the ring smiling, after this...

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