Long Days + Menu

The Days Are Long

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

My how this saying rings true to every parent or every person going through any tough season of their life. Parenting in particular, you are grinding along trying to make ALL the right decisions because one wrong decision makes you feel like the worst parent ever. Somewhere along the way, you lose your own identity and now you are just so-and-so’s mom. What once made you stand apart from everyone else is gone and your proud moment is when you can get out of the house on time. At least, this is the season I am in.

The days are so long, I find myself thinking back to 3 years ago with one small baby when I thought things were tough. Ha. The baby stage is the easy part, but I didn’t know that then. I spent TEN months sleeping in a recliner with a sweet baby boy that just never wanted to be separated from me. My fault, but looking back those ten months seem like just a blip on the radar. At the time, I thought there was no way I would make it, but I did.

Now he is in his big boy bed where there once was a crib and toddler bed. I still lay with him every night while he stares at me and asks me to just lay with him for one more minute. I certainly feel like there was never a time in my life that I didn’t have my little family. The days feel like years and the years that have past feel like they were just yesterday.

As I was running the other morning, I thought about my goals for this year. I thought about the ones that I have neglected to even focus on this year. I thought about how I have had the same goals for the past 2 to 3 years and have yet to accomplish any of them. This year though, I am closer to one of my goals than ever before. I have actually dedicated time to practice a skill and I have (duh) gotten better. Time is so fleeting. When I choose goals I want to accomplish, I think sure I have a year I can totally do that. Truth is, time is scarce. Very scarce. A year really is not that long.

Then, I realized there are only 4 months left in the year. FOUR months left and those last two months of the year are crazy busy. How did this year go by so quickly? How have I gotten this far into the year and NOT accomplished ONE SINGLE THING? I know how, but it really just seems like 8 months is a really long time to go without checking one thing off my list and if I am honest, 3 years is a long time to still be working on the same goals…it can be utterly defeating to still be working on the same thing for such a long time.

I imagine this is how it would feel if I was still trying to get baby weight off. I might feel the same way if I was trying to kick a bad habit. The one thing I can say for certain is I have not given up simply because it is taking me so long to accomplish one goal. I don’t have much time for extra work, but I do make being healthy a priority. Not letting my meal prepping slip and fine tuning my “craft” has gotten stronger. Focusing on the things I am doing right versus all the things I have not crossed off my list makes a big difference in my attitude.

I had a break through the other day though, after all of my running and self-doubt. I made some legitimate progress on one of my goals and I was super giddy about it. I was so excited for myself that I finally saw progress in the work I have been putting in. When your goal is a certain movement or weight to lift, practicing can be depressing when you just don’t seem to get it. I told one of my students the other day, that practice makes perfect and he sternly disagreed. He said not when it comes to baseball. I am guessing he isn’t so great at baseball…but it got me thinking, can you really teach a skill? Is it just not in me to do it well? Wrong little nine year old, practice does make perfect and I will be great. I was so excited over my progress that it made me want to practice even more.

When you are trying to make changes in your life, making a journal or having an accountability partner can really help. Having a community of like-minded people, that cheer you on, support you, and don’t let you give up can make all the difference. I imagine this is why so many weight-loss groups do well. They have that ‘we are in this tough season together’ bond and that is empowering. Misery loves company, even if it’s misery for a better cause. Don’t focus on things in the past. The future is uncertain. You can’t change what you did yesterday, there is no sense in longing for the pre-baby body you once had, you can’t un-do what you ate yesterday, etc. The only thing that matters is the NOW and what you are going to do to get yourself where you want to be. Make a plan and stick to it!


New Food Review:

Cilantro Lime Salmon This was the BEST dish and I made the mistake of eating it first. Nothing else last week lived up to the hype of this salsa. I am kind of regretting not putting it on the menu again this week. Maybe next week though! This would be amazing on shrimp, chicken, or even steak. I made a bowl of this meal and put it over rice, but the salsa would be great in a tortilla too.


M E N U

Sheet Pan Hawaiian Pineapple Shrimp Tacos + Creamy Jalapeno Sauce

Pork Tacos

Slow Cooker Herbed Chicken + Rice Pilaf

30-minute Chicken Fajitas + Roasted Pineapple Salsa Verde

Spaghetti


Sheet Pan Hawaiian Pineapple Shrimp Tacos + Creamy Jalapeno Sauce

This is a new dish for me. I debated on just making the zesty shrimp bowl instead, but this seems simple enough and new dishes are always fun! I wanted something a little hands off, so I wouldn’t be so stressed or rushed to get everything cooked. So a new sheet pan it is!

I will do a review on this next week.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha
flaky sea salt and black pepper
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
CREAMY JALAPEÑO SPECIAL SAUCE
1 jalapeño
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
juice of 2 limes
2 teaspoons honey
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1 ear raw or grilled corn, kernels removed from the cob
warmed corn or flour tortillas, plus mashed avocado, for serving 

Pork Tacos

These are super simple pork tacos and I haven’t made them in a very long time. I used to makes these tacos every time I cooked a pork butt for sandwiches. I have found much more flavorful pork bowls to make instead, which I plan to make this week too. I would rather have the pork bowl than BBQ sandwiches. I will likely have enough meat left over to have sandwiches throughout the weekend though. The twin pack of pork butts we bought a few weeks ago were huge! I am only going to cook one pork butt to make 4 meals (lunch and suppers) and will probably still have some left for the weekend.

These tacos are good, meal prep friendly, macro friendly, and easy. It doesn’t matter whether you cook the peppers and onions ahead of time or not. I would at least chop them up and save myself that step. Roasting them in the oven versus cooking them on the stove top is another good option. I like to season my peppers and onions with cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Instead of sauteing them down to be super soft, Lately, I like to sear my vegetables instead of sauteing them. I sear them in a hot cast iron pan, with some spray olive oil. Before I would just saute’ them down and they would lose all crunch and get a little mushy.

For the meat, I cook it in the crockpot for 8 hours on low. For the seasoning I like to evenly coat all sides with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, and yellow mustard. Once the meat is cooked thoroughly, let it cool and then separate the meat from the fat.

For the tacos I will mix the meat with a large bottle of salsa verde, you can make your own if you are feeling fancy, and simmer the meat in the verde. Make sure to get the high fiber, low carbohydrate tortillas so you don’t feel bad about eating tacos.

Ingredients: 
2 Green Bell Peppers 
1 Red Bell Pepper 
1 Yellow Onion 
1 Jalapeno 
1 jar Mexican Green Sauce 
Spices for pork butt: 
salt
garlic powder
onion powder
chili powder
paprika
yellow mustard 

Slow Cooker Herbed Chicken + Rice Pilaf

This is a great easy recipe. I love anything I can throw into the crockpot and just let it cook on it’s own. When I cook this I don’t shred the chicken into the dish after it has cooked. I take the chicken out and keep it separate from the rest of the dish. This makes it much easier to count my macros. I weigh out the rest of the food from the crockpot and divide it into 4 containers equally. A lot of crockpot meals I encounter with carrots end up being sweet, but this one is not.

Without the chicken accounted for, the macros for 4 servings the last time I cooked it was 174 calories, 5.8 grams of protein, 31.7 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.5 grams of fat. Make sure to put the chicken on top of the rice mixture, so you can easily take it out and add it in to the bowl depending on your macro needs. The recipe calls for you to sear the chicken but if you are in a hurry you can skip that step. It still tastes great.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups wild rice
*3/4 to 1 cup
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
*2 cups 
juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
*17 ounces whole baby carrots
1 cup wild mushrooms, torn
*272 grams 
2 pounds bone-in chicken breast and or thighs
*boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*spray olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
kosher salt and pepper
4 shallots, halved
1 sprig fresh rosemary 

30-minute Chicken Fajitas + Roasted Pineapple Salsa Verde

I know we are having pork tacos this week, but I love this dish so much I would eat it every week. I bought twin packs of pork butts and used one a few weeks ago. I had so much meat leftover from the first butt, that it lasted me through the weekend. With any extra meat, I will make sandwiches over the weekend. I hate wasting any meat.

Tomatillos can be hard to find around here, but you can substitute with jarred salsa verde. It really hasn’t made much of a difference when I have had to substitute, other than I like the fresh roasted taste. I added all the ingredients in the blender with the verde, topped it off with pineapple, and it was still a great salsa. I am going to hopefully find some tomatillos this week and roast them in the oven with the vegetables. I only used 1/3rd of a cup of pineapple in each bowl this week, but plan to use more.

For the pork butt, I cook the meat in the crockpot for 8 hours on low. To season, I evenly coat all sides with yellow mustard and season with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and paprika. Once the meat is cooked thoroughly, let it cool and then separate the meat from the fat. It really does defeat the purpose of healthy tacos and sandwiches if you leave the fat in there

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:  
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
*pork butt 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*omit 
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
kosher salt and black pepper
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
6-8 small flour tortillas, warmed
*1/2 cup cooked jasmine rice per bowl 
*limes for topping 

ROASTED PINEAPPLE SALSA VERDE
6 small tomatillos, husked
*salsa verde if no tomatillos
1 jalapeño
4 green onions
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
*add garlic 
1 cup diced pineapple 
*1/2 cup per bowl
 
For the pork butt:  
1 Boston Butt  
Paprika  
Salt  
Pepper 
Yellow Mustard  
Onion Powder  
Chili Powder  
Garlic Powder   

Spaghetti

The spaghetti sauce I use is adapted from a bolognese lasagna sauce. It is a thicker sauce, with lots of meat and vegetables. I love it.

To make the sauce, dice the onion and bell pepper, and saute’ with the minced garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms to the pan (mushrooms are not in the lasagna). Once the mushrooms have cooked down, drain any excess water. Add the vegetables to a large pot, along with the canned tomatoes. Once the meat has cooked thoroughly, drain and add to the tomatoes and vegetables.

Stir in the milk and wine, if you are going to put those in. Let the spaghetti simmer on low. Add the tomato paste to thicken the sauce if needed. The amount of tomato paste you add depends on how thick you want your sauce to be. I use to add the whole milk and wine but have recently opted out of putting it in. It is delicious with or without the wine and milk.

I like to add dried oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, parsley, and any other Italian herbs I have on hand.

I don’t use noodles anymore. Once I tried spaghetti squash I never went back. It really is not that difficult to make. I cut my squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, spray with olive oil and bake in the oven on 425 degrees, until I can stick a skewer all the way through the squash to the outside (not through the outside). I allow the squash to cool and then use a fork to scrape noddle-like strands out of the squash. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash is 42 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.5 grams of fat.

Ingredients:  
4 cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes 
1 can Tomato Paste (about 1 cup)
3 cloves Garlic
1 Yellow Bell Pepper (diced)
1 Onion (diced)
8 ounces Mushrooms (diced) 
2-4 pounds 80/20 cooked and drained (depending on amount of people serving, I use 3.5 pounds typically and always have leftovers for the kids)
8 ounces Whole Milk (optional)
4 ounces Red Wine (optional)
Italian Herbs 
Spaghetti Squash 
*2-3 squash depending on size

E N J O Y !

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