Friday, October 2, 2009

A Healthy Day, and Ratatouille

Yesterday was a really good day for me. My menu looked like this:

Breakfast: French pressed coffee with milk & agave nectar. Part of a Lean Cuisine breakfast panini
Lunch: the last of the garden tomatoes, sliced and layered with 2oz fresh mozzarella & basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper; bowl of 2% cottage cheese with fresh pineapple chunks; 1/2 of a very small cantaloupe from the garden, which was dark green and unripe-looking on the outside but sweet and orange-colored on the inside
Snack: another cup of coffee, with milk & creamer
Dinner: Homemade ratatouille, about 8 oz of chicken tenderloin (so good), 3T mashed potatoes and just a touch of gravy, and a piece of watermelon from the garden
Bedtime snack: Rooibos tea with milk & agave nectar

Total calories for the day: 1421


*I generally aim for 1700/calories a day but a low cal, satisfying day can be just fine. I made sure to get LOT of protein and it helped me stay satisfied.

*DO NOT buy those nasty, icky, bland, tasteless Lean Cuisine breakfast paninis!!! They are just awful. I had purchased one that had southwest flavors (peppers and onions and stuff) and another with sausage and egg on cinnamon bread. BOTH were disgusting. I took a bite or two, said, "This is not worth it" and just ate the middles out (the egg mixture). It was not GOOD but I bought these things awhile back so I would have something fast on mornings that I don't have time to cook. And I DO like the regular, lunch kind of LC paninis okay. That's why I was so surprised. Yucko, big thumbs down! (I expect to have lots more reactions to various things as I am cleaning out my freezer and pantry so I can simplify my menu).

*I need to cut back on the coffee and switch back to more tea. Coffee, in itself, is fine. But to me it tastes BITTER and icky plain. I tried adding just milk or even half & half but it is so bitter! I don't know how anyone drinks it without sweetener. So I end up adding not only a lot of cream or milk, but also a good 2-3 teaspoons of agave nectar, or worse, 2T of that very unhealthy flavored creamer. That makes my coffee a 100-140 calorie indulgence. Can't afford much of THAT.

*If you have not made ratatouille, now's your chance! It's a french vegetable stew, very healthy and low cal, and you can make it with all the ends of the garden OR ends of the fridge. Great way to use of produce that's sitting around looking for its life purpose. And this is good enough to go out and buy the ingredients, too. Ratatouille is a delicious veggie side dish, or a main dish (you can add sliced low fat sausage to a bowl of this, or some grated Parmesan or mozzarella for a light supper). You can use ratatouille as a pizza topping, a pasta sauce, or on pitas. You can even layer it with noodles and cheese to make a lasagna. Very versatile, comforting, warming. And you can freeze the leftovers, too. Here's how I make mine (it is very flexible so if you don't have some ingredients it'll be fine. The essentials are the zucchini, tomatoes, onions IMO). I made this in the crockpot but I assume you can just simmer it in a pan on low for several hours if you're gonna be home.

Garden Fresh Ratatouille

Chop 1-2 onions and lay them in the bottom of a Pam-sprayed crock pot. (I used red onions but white, sweet, or yellow are fine)
Then cube some zucchini (I used one very big one from the garden.... but 4 medium/small ones would work too). If you have crookneck, pattypan, or other SUMMER squash (summer squash has thin, edible skin and is not hard when you cut it raw) you can use that.
If you have an eggplant, cube that up and put it in there too (this is yummy and traditional but I didn't have one, so I left it out)
3 fresh tomatoes, cubed (I got mine from the garden and I squeezed out a lot of the seeds first. You can use a can of diced tomatoes if you don't have fresh ones)
Cut up a green pepper or two (no seeds) and throw that in. If you have orange, red, or yellow peppers that's fine, whatever you like
I chopped up a bunch of fresh basil leaves and put that in. I am guessing 1/4 cup. If you don't have any, use dried basil... a bit more than a teaspoon. Then I put in just a SMALL sprinkling of red pepper flakes. These make it spicier so don't add too much.
Then I spread a 6oz can of tomato paste over the top of it, sprinkled it generously with dried oregano (about a teaspoon) and dried parsley, added a bit of salt & pepper and about 1 tsp agave nectar (you could use sugar or honey or brown sugar here or leave it out maybe?) and drizzle with 1 T olive oil. Cover and cook on low all day (6 hours or so) or on high for an hour and then low til it's done. It does get very soft, so if you want the veggies crisper, cook for less time.

If you don't include an eggplant you might need to add a quarter cup of water or so. I stirred mine a couple of times while cooking. It should be wet with some tomatoey (but watery) sauce for the veggies. So good!

I am feeling good and ready for another great day. What are YOU going to do for you today?


jane said...

hey there,

agave nectar sounds super cool, i have to try it..

about the coffee you can try flavored beans (i really like chocolate almond or hazelnut cream) that have the same calories as normal coffee beans..

also you can try increasing the water to coffee ratio as much as possible before it tastes too diluted.. i've heard the the best ratio is 5oz of water for each tablespoon of coffee ..

have a nice day!

{ALL} for a Better Life said...

YUMMO sounds great, I may just have to try it!

Andra said...

I wasn't thrilled with the taste of agave nectar. I tend to use stevia in my tea. I weaned myself off of sweetening my coffee and I just love it now with a splash of organic 2% milk. If I do need a bit of "real" sweetener I use teaspoon of raw honey with its many health benefits. Here is an interesting article about agave nectar...

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Once a month, I make a huge batch of breakfast burritos with eggs, all kinds of peppers, black beans, potatoes... basically anything I can get my hands on. Anyway, I freeze the entire bunch and have a quick and hearty breakfast that beats the absolute crap out of anything Lean Cuisine could put out. And much much cheaper as well.

Taking It One Day At A Time said...

Most coffee tastes bitter to me too; however, I've found that flavored coffee tends to not be as acrid as the plain stuff. Plus, I buy whole beans and grind as needed. I don't drink coffee regularly, so when I do, I splurge on Harry and David's coffee. It's heavenly.

Camevil said...

A coffee trick I learned from an old secretary was to sprinkle a little cinnamon over the top of the coffee grounds that are in the filter, right before you start the coffee maker. It smells so good, it tastes less bitter and a little sweeter without adding agave or other bad high-fructose sweeteners. Agave to me is just a big calorie bomb marketed as "healthy."

Friend of the Bear said...

Hi Lyn. Have you tried organic coffee? I have never drunk ordinary since I tried it. It's much nicer - somehow less harsh and bitter. For instant I use Clipper organic.

At the moment to wake me up in the morning I am making my own mocha. I use Options mint choc drink (they have lots of flavours) - 33 cals per serving, and a teaspoon of organic instant coffee. You don't need to add any milk. A caffeine and choc hit all in one.

Best wishes,
Bearfriend xx

Anonymous said...

I agree with the person who suggested that you make a big bunch of breakfast burritos and freeze them. However, if you don't have the time, Amy's Organic makes a tofu scramble pocket and a breakfast burrito you might try.

TeresaLynn said...

I think I may whip up some ratatouille! Thanks for the recipe. I think your garden tomato/mozz salad for lunch sounds yummy too...wish I had a garden!

Paula said...

Your rattatouie sounds delish. I never tire of squash. I am having the same issue as you with the coffee and creamer. I use so much of it that its not a good use of my points. I've tried no sugar, and I end up compensating by having a cookie... see what happens here? Coffee and cookies? Terrible way to start the morning.

Glad you're having a great day.

Anonymous said...

You have reminded me to make a ratatouille. Haven't done that for a while. Your recipe sounds delicious. I also like similar vegetables roasted on a tray in the oven, drizzled with olive oil and black pepper. Some ideas for tomorrow's dinner!

Here in the UK I am a real tea drinker. My kettle is never cold. I drink lots of tea, with a dash of semi-skimmed milk. I have one cup of coffee a day, and again, only add semi-skimmed milk. That was the way we always did it here - until coffee shops became popular and the big chains like Starbucks, Costa and Nero opened up all over the place. Now so many people milky coffee topped with whipped cream and chocolate! The list of ways to have a coffee is vast. I am only glad I am not THAT fond of it. Long ago I gave up sugar in my tea, and back then sweeteners tasted revolting, so gradually I began to preper tea without them. Now, sweetened drinks I find awful!

I like biscuits with my tea too (You call them cookies...;-)) but have over the last year or so tried to cut right back. I am still tempted but now, if I get a craving for something sweet I tell myself I must have a banana first, then a few raisins...and only then, if I still want something sweet, I can indulge. I don't often.

Glad you had a good dieting day. It's a good feeling at the end of it to feel a sense of achievement and I think it makes next day's efforts slightly easier. I am still not preparing properly or planning meals very often. I try to grab healthy things to eat but would do much better to crack a few eggs or have some lean meat in the fridge. My snacks are bananas (I'll look like one soon) and low fat cream cheese on crispbreads..or yogurt with honey and flaked almonds. I am not doing 'proper meals' though, and I must.

Tonight I may buy myself a ready meal...I have to go shopping in a minute and I know I wont feel like cooking much when I get back. Thanks once again for making me think. I feel I can conquer most of my food demons with big problem is getting out of the house. I really have become a bit reclusive. I like walking but don't seem to be able to motivate myself to get out there. Most people say "Just do it!" and I tell myself I must, but again today it was mainly the TV, computer and a few household chores and then a book. I haven't burnt off many calories at all. If anyone has the key to getting started with a bit of movement I'd like it! I seem stuck - almost afraid to begin....and reluctant too. Sounds silly, but there it is.

I've written too much again, but reading here inspires me and keeps me going in the right direction. Thanks for that. Keep up the good work!

DBee x

screwdestiny said...

Yeah, I hate coffee, too, unless it has copious amounts of fat and/or sugar added to it. So I just stay away.

Your menu for yesterday looked great and I was surprised it was so low in calories, 'cause when you just read it, it seems like a lot of food. I guess it was, just good-for-you filling food. Hope you have another good day today. :)

Anonymous said...

Part of...the last of...bowl of... a very small...about...just a touch...
I wonder if being more specific about the amounts eaten would be helpful. I think it would help give a clearer picture to readers. I don't know how the calories can be counted by using subjective descriptions of amounts.
It is hard to convey compassion in a comment but it is here. I follow your blog and I've noticed this often and wondered about it. Bonnie, Winona MN

Jessie said...

Agreed on the breakfast panini Lean Cuisines. I would venture to say that the egg and sausage on maple toast was the nastiest thing I've ever tasted. The flavors were all....just wrong. I even put on my facebook status to warn people of its nastiness!

Sandy said...

I am like you, I have to have cream and sugar in my coffee. So instead of changing "how" I drank my coffee, I learned to drink less. I used to be a 3-4 cup a day coffee fiend, but now it's just one cup in the morning and that's it. I still enjoy real sugar and fat-free flavored creamer, but with just one cup a day I don't feel like I've spent too many calories on it.

Lyn said...

Anonymous (Bonnie)~

I agree, as a reader you would be unable to count my calories accurately by my descriptions. But that's not why I include them. I just like to give a picture of what I am eating (in general, not every day). I do, however, measure my food before I eat it so that when *I* enter the food into Sparkpeople, I get an accurate calorie count. I don't care to enter exact measurements when I am blogging about a meal though, unless it is for a recipe.

M said...

If your coffee is bitter, you're probably either overbrewing it (try using water slightly off the boil and letting it steep for less time) or you're buying subpar coffee.

And when it's just a teaspoon, I go ahead & use real sugar.

Rebecca said...

I've never been a coffee drinker, but I do love Teeccino~it is an herbal "coffee"(doesn't contain any coffee beans and no caffeine) actually made from hazelnuts, almonds, dates, and figs~so good and doesn't need a lot of sweetner. It has some health benefits as well so you can feel good about drinking it! You can find it at most grocery stores in the coffee section or in the natural section. Or try to order online!

cindyay said...

GREAT JOB Lyn! You are doing so well taking care of yourself. I wish you the best and even though I don't know you personally, I can say I'm happy for your success! It is so encouraging to see someone get over an eating disorder! :) AWESOME JOB, seriously.

Melissa said...

i love to cook & have been wanting some healthier recipes! that stuff sounds so good, i will have to try it! :)thanks!

Rebecca said...

I linked to you on my blog today. I love to read your posts.

Steelers6 said...

Hey, love,
I know that as you keep this up, your posts will reflect how invigorated you feel, due to feeling ACCOMPLISHED, on track, proud of yourself, loose denim capris! and also plain physically feeling better/good! Yay, you!! So excited and happy for you. Go Lyn! [and don't let it pressure you that you also encourage so many of us out here. Let that only empower you, gf!]

Tammy said...

I walked 3 miles at the park for myself today. :)

Are you totally against sweetener? I use natural Stevia...the brand I use is called Stevia in the Raw, and I've also used Truvia. I'm sure you've heard of this stuff before. It's zero calories. I use 2 packets of Stevia in the Raw to one cup of coffee. Then I use sugar-free hazelnut Coffeemate (refrigerated section) has 15 calories per tablespoon. I use 1 tbsp per a cup of decaf is only 15 calories!!!!! Sweet, creamy, delish!! :)

Greta from said...

THANK YOU....I just ran out to the kitchen and attacked the ginormous zucchini and yellow squash that were on the counter with a knife....and make em into Ratatouille. I'll let it hang on low in the crock pot all night. I decided to go with a curry flavoring instead of italian. Hold good thoughts.

Easy on the coffee...I did a post a few days ago about coffee and estrogen...makes you think. sure to do organic. The pesticides used on the non-organic would curl your toes (perhaps...literally!) :)

bbubblyb said...

Thanks for the recipe it sounds just like my cup of tea since I don't eat raw veggies, I will have to try it soon. Glad you're having a good day.