Ideal + Menu

We all have an idea/vision of what life should look like. We plan for every little event in life. Most people don’t go around all willy-nilly without a plan, going with the flow with everything. From the smallest part to the biggest part of your day, you make plans. You set alarm(s) to wake you up in time to get the kids ready for school and you to work, because well you would likely be searching for a new job if you were constantly late. If you can plan adequately to get to work on time, then surely you can plan for bigger life events, healthy living, etc.

We need to work. We need the money to live our ideal lives, so we go to work. We arrive on time and do our best, at the very least to keep our position or move up the ladder. If only healthy lifestyles were taken as seriously as a job. From the smallest aspects of life to the biggest you make plans, whether you know it or not. Making it to work on time doesn’t just happen. Birthday parties, family dinners, getting “chores” done around the house, etc. don’t just happen on their own. When life gets busy you have to make plans in order to fit it all in or that is when the fat and lazy attitude can come out in us and will sadly stick around longer than we anticipated.

Whether or not our well made plans pan out is another thing entirely. Right now teachers have a plan for success and a plan for failure. We have this grand idea of how we want things to look and flow, but some things are just out of our control. We cannot control if a child comes to school sick and exposes his/her peers. Our plans allow us to limit those that are exposed, but still, that is not ideal. Even with plans in place, something is going to happen. If you have found the perfect plan for life, please let me know, because my plans are never full proof. There is always a hoop to jump through, a detour that pushes my timeline further back, or some sort of hiccup.

Lately, that just seems like the norm for everyone. No matter how foolproof you think your plans might be, something is bound to happen. This can lead to a ‘why even bother’ state of mind, but we cannot allow ourselves to just give up. I cannot just give up because others are counting on me to get a job done. Parents, students, co-workers, and administration are counting on me to keep their children as healthy as possible while teaching all the standards and catching them up on standards missed. It is a lot, but giving up is not an option. If I were to give up and not follow the plan, then that would directly affect people that are not even in my classroom. Other students, teachers, and families would be subject to the consequences of my lackluster attitude.

There have been several times during this pandemic and opening of school that I have wanted to give up when my best-laid plans have fallen through. One can only take so much disappointment. When the disappointment starts piling up and all my good intentions are met with detours, roadblocks, rings of fire to jump through I have to scratch my plans and make a new plan. I don’t change the end goal, just the approach. If we all took this approach when it came to reaching our goals, we would be unstoppable.

If instead of quitting we simply changed our plan, there would be less stress, burn out, and we would more likely to reach our goals. Quitting on yourself does not make you happy. Giving up on a goal because the approach and work to reach the goal was too difficult does not make you proud. I like to tell my students to work smarter, not harder. Reaching your goal(s) does not have to be difficult, you can achieve your goals if you are purposeful with your actions and intentional with your time. Sticking with the same plan, failing at reaching your goals, is insanity. If what you are doing is not getting you to your goal, it might not be the goal that is unreachable, but your approach that needs to be tweaked.


M E N U

Sweet Potato Fry Steak Salad + Blue Cheese Butter

Sesame Teriyaki Chicken + Ginger Rice

Tri-Tip Steak + Yogurt Mashed Potatoes + Roasted Green Beans

Chicken Blueberry Feta Salad

Cabbage Roll-Ups


Sweet Potato Fry Steak Salad + Blue Cheese Butter

I said I was already daydreaming of eating this one again and I wasn’t lying. I do not usually ever put something on my menu two weeks in a row, but this one deserves a do over pronto.

Josh loves to challenge my macro cooking abilities and boy did I deliver. I made several changes and left a few things off, intentionally and unintentionally. I skipped the avocado because I did not want it to be too much on the fat side. I had plenty of fat leftover at the end of the night for a snack, so it was a good choice. I used reduced-fat blue cheese and sirloin steak to keep the fat at bay as well. The recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of butter, but I used 1.5 tablespoons for 4 servings and it was plenty for me.

To track this I weighed out the steak amount first and then put on the butter-cheese mixture. The size of the steak does not matter as long as you input it separately into your macro count, but the serving size of the butter-cheese mix needs to be the same for every salad.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
3 small-medium sweet potatoes, cut into matchsticks
*2 or less ounces cooked potato per serving
4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
*spray olive oil 
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1 (8-10 ounce) ribeye steak or 1 1/2 pound flank steak
*sirloin steak
6 cups shredded romaine lettuce
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
*10-12 per serving 
1 avocado, sliced
*0.5-0.8 ounces per serving 
4 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
*1-2 tablespoons 
3-4 ounces gorgonzola or blue cheese, crumbled
*40-50 grams reduced fat blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
*1 lemon juiced 
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon honey
*0.5 ounce 
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
*1 tablespoon 
1 small shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Sesame Teriyaki Chicken + Ginger Rice

Not going to lie, this recipe might just kill my macros, but I am willing to give it a try with some key things left out. I hate making too many changes to a recipe because then I feel it might entirely change how it is supposed to taste. I know I can’t leave this one as is though, because it would be too high calorie for me.

Hopefully, with some minimal changes, I can take the macros down a notch without completely altering the recipe. I am going to completely take out the breadcrumbs since there is rice. This will eliminate a good deal of fat from the oil and carbs from the bread.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons sesame oil
*omit
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
*omit
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
*omit
crushed red pepper flakes, using to your taste
2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce or tamari
1/4 cup honey
*1 ounce
3 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, thinly sliced
*chicken breast
2 teaspoons corn starch or flour
*omit
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
black pepper
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 red or orange bell peppers, thinly sliced
steamed white or brown rice for serving (ginger rice in notes)

Tri-Tip Steak + Yogurt Mashed Potatoes + Roasted Green Beans

Josh’s newest obsession is his RecTec Grill and I can’t say that I mind. He has really gotten into looking up new recipes, which will come in handy once I go on maternity leave.

This weekend he smoked a tri-tip steak and it was delicious, by far my favorite meat that he has cooked so far. If you would like to try it out, you will need to let it sit in a dry brine, basically cover it in salt at the least 15 minutes before you plan to cook it. He seasoned it with Pikes Peak Butcher’s Rub. If you can’t get this seasoning, you can combine black pepper, sea salt, white pepper, red bell pepper, garlic, minced green onion, and parsley to make your own. We smoked the meat at 225 degrees until the internal temperature was 120, then turned the heat up to 500 degrees and seared on both sides, 4 minutes per side.

I am planning to contribute some healthy mashed potatoes to go along with it. Potatoes alone are not unhealthy, as long as you don’t eat 5 pounds of them. Usually, what gets people are the toppings or things they mix into their mashed potatoes (lots of butter and sour cream).

One night we decided to make some mashed potatoes to go along with our steak. Friday and Saturday nights are usually not planned but we still try to keep it pretty healthy. I saw that I had some non-fat Greek yogurt in the fridge and threw it in there. Josh thought it was sour cream and I just let him think that until he tasted it. Once he gave the approval, I let him in on my secret. Since then that is how I have made our potatoes, even for guests and they have never been able to tell the difference. Make sure to use caution when adding in the yogurt, the more you use the sweeter the potatoes will taste.

Throw a vegetable, like green beans + cherry tomatoes + garlic + balsamic vinegar in the oven and you have a complete meal.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
Salt 
Preffered steak seasoning: 
Tri-Tip Loin
Pikes Peak Butcher's Rub

Mashed Potatoes: 
900-1000 grams red potatoes
65-75 grams non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon butter
6-8 ounces fat free milk 
salt, pepper, minced garlic, fresh diced rosemary

Chicken Blueberry Feta Salad

In an effort to keep the macros balanced, I try to cook two or three “heavy” calorie meals and two or three light calorie meals every week. I will alternate the high calorie and low-calorie meals between lunch and supper so I don’t go over my allotted carbohydrates every day. I don’t worry about which meal of the day has the high carb or low carb, I just focus on keeping it balanced.

With this salad don’t skip making the dressing, don’t try buying some store-bought version, because it won’t be the same. Any dressing made with lemon juice is right up my alley. I skip the olive oil and just up the amount of lemon juice and it makes it extra healthy. I don’t mind eating fats but I would much rather save my fat for the almonds or avocado, not the olive oil.

For the chicken, you can grill it if you are firing up the grill this week anyway or simply season well and put it in the oven while you get the meat ready for the other dishes. I love cooking my chicken covered on the stovetop, I don’t have to watch it like a hawk, it cooks super fast, and stays juicy.

I like to put a lot of blueberries in each of my salads, but you can put from 1/2 cup to a whole cup. Strawberries are also in season right now and would be a great addition if you can’t get good blueberries. The strawberry patch is a great place to go to, to get a break from in-home quarantine.

Usually, I pick between almonds of avocado. I don’t want to go over on my fat because of one dish. Typically 1/4th of an avocado is 1 ounce. 1 ounce of avocado is 50 calories, 0.5 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of carbs, and 4.5 grams of fat. You can add both, just make sure you watch the calories, fat adds up quickly. Two ounces of avocado is 100 calories and that would is about a fourth of what I would want my total calories to be for one meal. In my opinion, it is just a lot of calories for something so small. Just make sure you weigh it and track it.

*Change I make to meet my macros.

Ingredients: 
 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
 8 cups mixed salad greens
 1 cup blueberries (* or strawberries)
*1/2 cup to 1 cup per salad 
 1 large avocado sliced
*1 ounce or less per salad
 1 cup almonds
*9-12 almonds per salad 
 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
*10-12 grams non-fat feta
 1/2 large red onion thinly sliced 

 Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
*omit oil 
1/3 cup lemon juice
*add more lemon juice 
2 tablespoons honey
*1 ounce of honey 
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
*2 tablespoons 
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cabbage Roll-Ups

I haven’t cooked these in a while, I usually forget about them until I have grown tired of spaghetti and chili. They seem very difficult to make just because of their presentation, but I promise they are super simple.

There are two key players in this dish that can blow your macros out of the water, the rice and hoisin sauce. The hoisin sauce is key though, don’t skip it, but don’t get too happy with it. You have to mix it with water and then cover the cabbage rolls with the diluted sauce. KEY.

In order to make these you will want to break the cabbage leaf about 1 inch from the bottom, fill the top of each leaf with an equal amount of mixture (if tracking), then start rolling from the top to the bottom. The break in the leaf allows the rolls to sit freely. If you are basing your measurements off of the changes I make, keep in mind that I double all of my recipes to have for lunch the following day.

Each roll was 190 calories, 18.7 grams of protein, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 9.2 grams of fat.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:  
2 tablespoons canola oil
*omit
1 teaspoon sesame oil
*9 grams
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
*400-500 grams
1 lb ground pork
*around 40 ounces ground beef or venison 
1 cup cooked jasmine rice
*reduce to 3/4 cup if cutting calories 
1 large carrot, shredded
*4 ounces matchstick carrots 
3 scallions, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon soy sauce
*2 tablespoons 
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 large head Napa cabbage, leaves separated and thick white core removed
¼ cup hoisin sauce
*51 grams 
2 tablespoons water
*enough water to thin down, around 1/3 cup 

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