A back-to-work meal plan

  
Well, by now I have survived my first week back at work.  And of course, because it’s the new year, I had grand plans to bring lunch, eat well, save money, all the rest of it.

For the first week at least, I think I did ok.  I had a couple of quiet days at home before I had to go back to work, and I used them to prepare some food and get all set for the week.  I also managed to make a big batch of lamb tagine to freeze for when I’m feeling lazy later on.

I also received a couple of recipe books for Christmas, so I wanted to try them out.

If you’re following this meal plan, the main things you need to do on the weekend are make the quinoa salad (recipe to follow next week) and the zucchini bites – they’ll both keep all week without any problem.  If you feel up to it, put on a pot of chicken stock for the soup as well.

Back-to-work meal plan

Breakfast

Smoothies, plus toast and muesli.

Lunch

Tess: quinoa salad and papaya salsa.  Lachie: Salami and cheese sandwiches

Snacks

Tess: zucchini bites. Lachie: zucchini bites and pistachio couscous.

Dinner

Saturday – Lamb, pumpkin and chickpea tagine

  • I love this recipe, and it’s great for freezing.  Yoghurt and extra nuts are great additions to up the fat content.  I made a couple of extra batches of the couscous as well and put them aside for later in the week.

Sunday  – Pistachio crusted tuna with papaya salsa and broccoli

  • This was a recipe from one of the cookbooks I received, and it was amazing.  I only made half the tuna because there were only two of us, but I made a full batch of the salsa and had the rest of it through the week. (I also saved some of the ground pistachios and mixed them with the leftover couscous and some feta)

Monday – Honey soy chicken

Tuesday – Prawn stir-fry with edamame, asparagus and spinach

Wednesday – Chicken enchiladas

  • This is one of the first recipes I posted on CF Kitchen, and it’s a really great one for loading up the calories.

Thursday – Leek and white bean soup

  • This is another recipe from a cookbook I got at Christmas.  I made a side salad (mostly for me), and cheesy croutons (for Lachie) to go with it.

We went out on Friday.  We deserved it.

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A CF-Kitchen smoothie

Welcome back!

Since my last blog post (almost a year ago), I’ve had quite an eventful year.  We had a hospitalisation, I went travelling around Europe for six weeks, and (the biggest news of all) … Lachie and I got engaged.

With all of this happening, I let the blog slip by the wayside a bit.  But now that it’s the new year, I’ve decided to relaunch.  And with an upcoming wedding (not until the end of the year), I have even more incentive than before to keep Lachie healthy, and to look my best for the wedding.

So with that in mind, here are my smoothie recipes.  I make one of these smoothies most mornings (it’s about the only way I can actually make myself eat breakfast), pour out half the mixture for myself, and then mix through a few spoonfuls of protein powder for Lachie’s smoothie.  We have hospital-grade Sustagen, but just use the recommended amount of whatever protein powder you prefer.

It’s quick, easy, portable, and gives us both some fibre and probiotics to help with digestion as well.  My Thermomix has built in scales which makes it really easy, but if your blender doesn’t have that you can pre-measure everything.

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Berry Smoothie

  • 200g frozen mixed berries (I use half raspberries and half blueberries)
  • 50g rolled oats
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 200g milk
  • 3 scoops of Sustagen

Mix all ingredients except the Sustagen in a blender for about 3 minutes (use Speed 7 on the Thermomix), or until smooth.  Pour out half the mixture then add Sustagen.  Mix for another minute and then pour the remaining mixture into a separate glass.

Mango spinach

  • 200g frozen mango
  • 50g baby spinach (optional, but you won’t be able to taste it at all).
  • 200g Greek yoghurt
  • 200g milk
  • 40g shredded coconut

Mix all ingredients except the coconut in a blender for about 3 minutes (use Speed 7 on the Thermomix), or until smooth.  Pour out half the mixture then add coconut.  Mix for another minute and then pour the remaining mixture into a separate glass. (You can add a bit of coconut into the non-CF smoothie as well if you like.)

What’s your go-to breakfast?  And for the people with CF, what do you do to make supplements taste better?

 

 

 

Meal planning when everything doesn’t go to plan

Last week was one of those weeks where we departed from our original meal plan quite a bit. Firstly we got to about 6:00 on Sunday without having done the shopping or having the energy to do it. At times like that, having a freezer full of leftovers is a life saver. The red curry below is one of my all time favourite freezer meal.

By the time I did get to the shops (on Tuesday!!!), they didn’t have the lamb racks that I wanted, so I had to improvise with a lamb min-roast.   Finally we decided we wanted to have dinner at home before driving up to Sydney on the Friday, so I had to find something nice and quick to do that night.  The steamed fish is one of my go to lazy/quick dinners and so tasty – always a good thing to have up your sleeve.

Meal plan – Summer plan 2

Sunday

  • Dinner – Red lentil curry from the freezer  – we both had the same curry, but Lachie had extra yoghurt with his.

Monday

Tuesday

  • Lunch – Tess: Egg salad sandwich; Lachie: Salami and cheese salad
  • Snacks – hummus and carrot sticks
  • Dinner -Parmesan crusted lamb mini-roast and zucchini with kale

Wednesday

  • Lunch –  Tess: Egg salad sandwich; Lachie: Salami and cheese salad
  • Snacks – hummus and radish sticks
  • Dinner – Cheesy tomato lasagne

Thursday

  • Lunch – Tess: Egg salad sandwich; Lachie: Lasagne
  • Dinner – Pomegranate and ginger chicken – I’d seen this recipe on Pinterest, and it was divine (and very pretty).

Friday

  • Lunch –  Tess: Egg salad sandwich; Lachie: Lasagne
  • Snacks – hummus and radish sticks
  • Dinner – Steamed fish with bok choi and chilli dressing

Saturday

  • Lunch – Out
  • Dinner – Out.

Thai beef salad

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Here’s another light, easy salad for those lazy summer days. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe for the coriander and chilli dressing, but changed all the vegetables in the salad (taking out the red onions because I don’t like them very much, throwing in various things that I wanted to use up, adding some mixed lettuce and bean sprouts for the vitamins). The dressing was totally overwhelming when I tasted it straight, but very good in the salad.

The next timeI made it, I tried to add some extra fat into the recipe by mixing coconut milk powder into the dressing.  It was so good I practically drank it. I’d also recommend the coconut milk version for anyone who doesn’t like too much chilli.

Ingredients

For dressing

  • 2 fresh red thai chillies, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 stick lemongrass, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 bunch fresh coriander
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk powder

For salad

  • Canola oil spray
  • 400g been rump steak
  • 100g mixed lettuce leaves
  • 2 large handfuls bean sprouts
  • 100g cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 a red capsicum, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup thai basil leaves
  1. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients except the dressing in a blender and process until smooth. It will be necessary to stop every ten or twenty seconds to scrape down the sides.
  2. To make the coconut dressing, combine about half the chilli paste with the coconut milk powder, and stir until the coconut has dissolved. Add 1tbsp of boiling water to make into a runny dressing.
  3. Spray the canola onto a hot frypan, and fry the beef for three minutes on each side or until well done.  Remove and allow to rest for five minutes before slicing finely.
  4. To serve, toss the beef with all other salad ingredients in a large bowl. Divide between bowls and serve with the two dressings in different bowls.

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12 things I learned from #12monthsofgoals

january

Last year, rather than setting any new year’s resolutions, I set my sights a bit smaller – January resolutions. And then at the end of the month, having knocked almost all of those goals over, I started again. Setting new goals every month was really valuable for me, and this is what I learnt:

1) Concrete goals, flexible path

For me, goals worked best when I was working to something definite, but the way to get there wasn’t set in stone. One of my first goals was to complete one of those ‘couch to 5k’ programs, which meant I had to do 12 runs of increasing difficulty over the course of the month. If I slacked off one week (and I did), that meant I had more to do the next week. If instead I had been aiming to run three times every week, slacking off one week would have meant that I’d missed my chance to meet the goal at all, and made it easy to justify giving up.

2) Focus on forming habits

I think a month is a good period of time for setting goals, because it’s not long enough to really be intimidating, but it is long enough to form a habit. Once you’ve been doing something for a month, you’ll likely to keep going. For instance, I didn’t commit to making my bed every day for ever and ever, I just committed to doing it for a month. And since then, I may not do it every day, but I definitely do it most days, and I’m happier because of it. (Seriously, when I get into a freshly made bed at night, it’s basically a gift from past Tess.)

3) Find the projects that will make life better

Forming habits is good, but sorting out things that were bugging you once and for all is even better. One month I resolved that I would finally sort out the living room. We’d more or less put the furniture down wherever it would go when we first moved in, and had been putting off sorting it out again ever since. Once I made the living room one of my goals we actually did it, and now it is a much cosier, more attractive space.

4) Some things aren’t right for me

There have been a few times when I’ve set goals, tried them, and then given up mid-month because they weren’t making me happier, or helping me achieve anything I wanted. One of the big ones was writing daily ‘gratitude’ posts on Facebook, which I tried more than once last year. And in the end, it just didn’t work for me. I always felt as though I was bragging, or would find that the things I was most grateful for on any given day felt too private to put on Facebook. Or I felt the need to come up with new, interesting things every day, rather than the most honest thing. Eventually, I started writing down things I was grateful for in a little notebook that no one else would see, and that was a much better fit for me.

5) I don’t always know what I want

I’m glad I didn’t set resolutions for the whole year, because over the year, I found three big new things to get excited about and give my energy to. I started this blog, I got involved in the local CF charity, and I booked a 6-week trip to Europe. If I’d set annual resolutions, I would have had to set the resolutions aside to pursue new things, or I wouldn’t have done the new things. As it was, I was able to come up with goals each month that reflected my new priorities.

6) Sometimes it just isn’t your month (but 30 days isn’t long enough to slip too far)

I had one month where a few bad things happened to me, and I came unstuck to some extent. I don’t think I achieved any of my goals that month. Setting monthly goals meant that when the end of the month came around, I could simply re-set, figure out where I had slipped the most, and focus my energies there. And in the scheme of things, not exercising enough/eating badly/just about anything else for one month won’t really have any lasting detrimental effects.

7) Partial success is still success (aka, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take)

One of the biggest themes throughout the year was trying to exercise more (from a baseline of approximately zero). In different months, I had different targets, like completing a running program, exercising a certain number of times per week, doing specific classes at the gym, and so on. The truth is, I almost never met my monthly exercise-related goals. On the other hand, I substantially increased the amount of exercise I do, and that is entirely because I was setting myself specific goals in this area.

8) Priorities will (and should) change throughout the year

Making goals monthly means I was able to change my goals to fit with  the ebbs and flows of my life. At a time when I knew I was going to be busy at work, my goals were mostly focused on self-care. In the lead up to Christmas, one of my big projects was making Christmas cards for everyone. As the weather gets warmer, I’d make goals that were focused on actually enjoying the summer.

9) Buy nothing new for a month

No, seriously, try it, it’s easier than you think.  And it makes you think more about what you actually need.

10) Accountability helps

I used to post my goals on Facebook every month, and include a bit on how I’d gone the previous month.  That accountability really made me focus on my goals, and being able to say that I’d had a ‘good’ month always made me feel fantastic.

11) Don’t forget about the fun

I know what makes me happy. The problem is, they sort of get lost between the things I have to do, and the easy distractions. I try to make some of these things actual monthly goals as well, so that I actually do them. Sometimes its little things, like going to the beach more, sometimes it’s bigger things, like throwing a party, or attempting some kind of cooking challenge. But for me, monthly goals are about what will make me happy, not just self-improvement for its own sake, and the fun goals are part of that.

12) Direction matters

I liked the monthly goals, but I had something of a scattergun approach in setting them, and I didn’t always think about why I was doing them.  This year I’m taking a hybrid approach – I started thinking about the big picture in terms of what I want from the year, and then tried to come up with monthly goals that will move me in that direction. So, here’s hoping that works out for me.

What were your new years resolutions? Are you still going with them? Why not try monthly goals? What is one thing you could do in February to move you closer to your  big-picture goals?

Barbecue salmon and vegetables

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On summer weekends, I love to cook dinner on our little Weber on the balcony. It means I’m out in the sun and the fresh air, there’s almost no washing up afterwards, and it just feels special (or at least novel). And of course, that char-grilled flavour everything gets can’t be beaten. This is something I love to make when I’m not sure I’ve been getting enough greens lately, and want to make sure I’m eating something healthy.

The first time I made this, I’d bought some zucchini and asparagus, and then added the spring onions from the bottom of the vegetable crisper. I’d never barbecued spring onions before, but a former housemate had told me it was a Spanish specialty, so I was keen to try it. I served the whole lot on a bed of peppery rocket fresh from my garden, and drizzled with some lemon-flavoured olive oil.

The olive oil is added last, so you can vary how much goes on each plate (there’s really no such thing as ‘too much’ olive oil in this dish). If you want to increase the fat content further, top the vegetables with some feta. Yummy.

Ingredients

  • 2 150g salmon fillets, skin on.
  • 2 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, and then into 5mm thick slices lengthwise
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 6 spring onions, outermost layer removed
  • 2 handfuls rocket
  • Good quality olive oil for drizzling
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Heat up a barbecue  until temperature inside the hood is over 150C.
  2. Spread the zucchini, asparagus and spring onions over the grill. Replace the cover and leave for 5 minutes.
  3. Flip the vegetables over and place the salmon on the grill skin-side down. Replace the cover and leave for three minutes.
  4. Flip the fish and leave for a further three minutes. If necessary, turn the vegetables again. After three minutes, remove everything from the heat.
  5. To serve, divide the rocket between two plates. Arrange the zucchini, asparagus and spring onions over the two plates and place the salmon on top. Season with salt, pepper and lemon. Drizzle with olive oil.

 

DIY instant soup pots

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I’ve seen a few different recipes for DIY instant noodles over the last couple of months, but never gotten around to trying them. Recently, I came across this recipe on Pinterest and that inspired me to actually give it a go, and try to adapt it to a high-fat CF version, and a low-fat version for me.

After a week of experimenting, I ended up with a relatively low fat Japanese-ish version, and a high calorie cheats’ instant laksa. Both are delicious, and I love having soup for lunch at work without having to transport a soup (with all the spillage risk that entails). All you have to do at the office is fill with boiling water, so it also avoids the microwave queue that forms at lunch-time (it’s also good for anyone who doesn’t have a microwave at work, obviously). A little bit of prep at the start of the week makes these very easy to throw together in the morning.

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You’ll need

  • 1 container with a two-cup capacity
  • 1 cup of shredded Asian vegetable mix ( you can buy something like this from the supermarket or make your own – I used a mix of bok choi, red cabbage and carrots).
  • 150g of your choice of protein, cooked and chopped in to bite sized pieces (I’ve tried with chicken breast, hard boiled eggs and tofu, and they all worked well. The Japanese-ish soup was great with a mixture of chicken breast and egg. If I’d been more organised I would have made sure I had a fattier meat for Lachie’s version as well.)
  • 1/2 a cup of bean sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons of chicken stock concentrate (if you don’t have this, a stock cube will do)
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sriacha sauce
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped, green part only

For the high fat version, you will also need

  • 30 g rice vermicelli noodles (make sure they do not need to be boiled on the stove)
  • 1/2 tbsp laksa paste
  • 1tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fried shallots
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk powder

For the low fat version, you will also need

  • 1/4 cup dried sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 tbsp miso paste
  • 1/2 a nori (seaweed) sheet

Method

  1. To assemble the pots, place the noodles (if using) in the bottom of your bowl, followed by the vegetables, bean sprouts, mushrooms (if using) and protein. Add the chicken stock, then the sauces and miso or laksa paste. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients except for the coconut milk powder over the top.
  2. When you are ready to eat, if you are using coconut milk powder, mix that into a small amount of boiling water and stir until the powder has disolved. Then add the coconut milk to the soup bowl
  3. Fill the bowl with boiling water until all ingredients are submerged. Allow to sit for three minutes, then give a good stir and eat.

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