Absconding With Shrimp

Seafood for dinner is always an entertaining event in our household.  Interestingly, while one of our black cats is essentially a vacuum cleaner when it comes to food, it’s the other – the smaller by 6 pounds, but older by a month or so – samurai cat who goes on high alert when shrimp are being peeled.

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I feel like we don’t even have to open the container – he just KNOWS.  He lifts his head in the air with staccato’ed sniffs, making certain that he’s smells what he *thinks* he does.  And if he is correct, by god, watch your limbs!  If he has it in mind that you’ve got a shrimp, he will – claws extended and all – reach out feverishly to check the scene.  No matter if you are friend or foe, he’s basically going to slap and growl until he’s fully devoured the thing.  Shrimp is the end-all-be-all favorite food of choice for Musashi…

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I also happen to love shrimp, as does my husband.  He makes the most delicious and healthy stir fry (one I daresay I could devour – in total – on the spot, were I not to stop myself after feeling full.)  It’s AMAZING. Full of protein…and incredibly filling.  For a clean eater, it’s a dream come true!

Despite the countless items he was keeping track of while cooking (the wok, the roasting vegetables in the oven, the vegetables that had to be added, the seafood that had to be cleaned…) he also took the time to boil a small pot of water to cook two shrimp for the boys.  The thoughtfulness of that alone warms my heart – who DOES that?!  I took a photo because, even then, he took them out and chilled them on ice…just to be sure they didn’t burn their adorable pink tongues. 

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Once they had chilled enough, he gave each of them one.  Needless to say, Musashi fervently absconded with one, and then managed to snag a less-than-interested Keku’s.  Given that Keku will inhale anything food-related, it’s entertaining to see him “pass” on the shrimp, only for the vehemently fixated Musashi to haul off with it, “grrrrr”ing as he goes.

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Fortunately, though I AM protective of my food, I didn’t bite or growl myself.  But I also – Musashi-like – thoroughly enjoyed my generously-prepared dinner, and felt incredibly grateful to have it. 

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Nutrition Humor – What I Ate Was. . .

I had a solid laugh over this.  I have a couple of friends who are unapologetic, and would have been damn proud, and outright, with the whole pizza situation.  A former dance partner who’d go so far as to douse his in additional sauces comes to mind.

But there are a few who also try really hard to be good…but end up with an, oh I don’t know, pizza, for example…  Who then endeavor to make it sound (at least initially) healthier than it was. . . in a way (I think) to make their inner voice less hands-on-hips when declared.  

Not to worry, though, the inner voice was chomping along with you (and probably enjoyed it too!) so express your choices freely!

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Thanksgiving 2016

I’m not a huge “holiday person” (save for Halloween, which I daresay is highly evident given my posts!), but it’s always a treat to be with family…and to be forced to relax (admittedly hard for me BUT…much needed.)

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I’m grateful for so much, but of those many things…I’m especially thankful for those closest to me.  Food-centric gatherings are not really my thing – I am incredibly boring with my nutrition (though I enjoy my foods immensely!) so there is always extra care involved.  

My husband always makes sure that I have things I’ll like – always.  He’s never not aware , and will make certain clean foods are available for me (believe it or not, finding someone who wouldn’t think I was crazy for the way eat (like a zoo animal!) was a major source of anxiety for me.  For a decade at least!)  This year he made lobster and he made a few extra for me with nothing on them – at all.  Super clean, and wildly delicious! 😀

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As for the rest, we always have yummy sides – I have a few intolerances, so I stick to what I know works…and it never disappoints. 🙂  Once upon a time I had a really difficult time portioning, and feeling obligated to have everything – after a few bouts of making myself sick in the past, I’ve learned NOT to do that! *LOL*

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It was a wonderful few days…as I hope it was for everyone. ❤  

Appreciating Family and Fresh Food

I had the wonderful fortune to spend time with my parents, an uncle, and my sisters this past weekend.  My fiancé had not been to the island – ACK, to be clear – so it was a special treat to share a childhood haunt…and many fond memories and traditions…with him.

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A gorgeous ship in the harbor (prompting pirate accents when we saw it!)

We were there only two days and my heart really sank to leave – the combination of vivid memories from my youth, paired with having us all in one place (my brother and sister-in-law were missed!) plucked at my Empathetic heartstrings!  It is always jarring to swap realities for me, and always has been – not to the point I can’t do it, just that it takes a little adjusting (incidentally, it appears this is a common problem for folks – google it and see!) I truly, however, appreciated every moment while I was there.

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Harvested, fresh clams…er, the shells!

One of our traditions is going out to the harbor just before low tide, and taking advantage of the low water levels to snag fresh clams (in season, and within the regulations, obviously.)  I love that the restrictions are in place, lest individuals harvest with gay abandon and upset the ecosystem for their own gain.

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Fresh clams

Once we have a good bushel (or more!) we haul them back in and make two things – clams casino and clam sauce for pasta.  

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Clams casino

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Martelli pasta (the BEST!) with clam sauce

As a clean eater, I actually don’t have either dish (though, in my defense, casino contains cheese, which I – and my stomach – definitely cannot have!)  It is more important to me personally to maintain and achieve my goals, so I’m okay with abstaining.  I always have enough of my own goodies to not feel hungry (my fiance made stir fry chicken and vegetables! 🙂 and I know I will feel better later.

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Fresh candy from the local farm!

That said, I do enjoy the preparation, having all of us together…AND a few steamed clams in olive oil and green tabasco (my uncle’s favorite concoction!)  The most important part of the meal preparation, and devouring, is the time with my loved ones.

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When I reflected on our many summers together, my heart just glowed – sometimes Life goes  too quickly.  Or maybe we are young and aren’t thinking about time marching on as vehemently as it does… But since we all are at a stage where we DO have control of mindfulness, make sure to take the time to stay present (something I work on daily.)  Cherish the moments you have – they make for a mind-blowing tapestry of memories and love.

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❤ 

 

Eating Clean All The Time

It isn’t as hard as it sounds.  There can be little treats here and there, absolutely…but clean eating “all the time” means it’s a lifestyle, not a fad or “diet.”

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Family gathering

I don’t take whole days off from eating well – it matters to me what I put into my body as fuel, and I know that if I get OFF track, getting back on will be much more of a challenge.  So I stick with it all year round, every day – it isn’t a “summer thing” or a “after-holiday revamp.”  When you maintain ANYthing, the difficulty drops substantially – less catching up to do!

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Breakfast and Snacks on vacay

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Breakfast and Snacks on vacay

A FEW TIPS for when you aren’t home, or you have a gathering?

  • Go for the cleanest preparations: Grilled, broiled, steamed, roasted, baked.  While you are at it, ask them to go light on (or eliminate) any oil or butter they might *think* they need to add. 
  • Instead of heavy dressings or condiments, ask for lighter substitutes: lemon, vinegar, olive oil on the table (so you can control the amount), coarse salt etc.
  • If the dish sounds enormous, ask for a smaller portion…OR, take half home. If you’re at someone’s house, just take a little – no one is forcing you to overdo it! 
  • Ask that any sauces be brought “on the side” so you aren’t at the mercy of the heavy-hand kitchen’s often have, or just skip it if you are at a party.
  • Drink your H2O – it will help fill you up!
  • Ask for a double order of steamed veggies on the side…another “fill you up” helper, or munch on some salad before you dive in.
  • Have fruit or berries instead of other desserts.  I know, I know, less fun.  BUT, it does help the sweet tooth (and you feel better about it later.) 🙂

If you do want to stay healthy, it’s a lot easier these days than it once was – most places (and people!) are used to it, so don’t be too hung up on that.  How you feel physically and otherwise is numero uno, so take care of YOU however you need to. I got a few looks ordering plain grilled chicken and steamed veggies at a bar while out watching UFC with grappling buddies…but whatever.  I even pulled an organic apple out of my bag.  No funny looks with that though, except for the jealous friend who wanted one too! 🙂

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Yes…even at a bar watching UFC fights…it’s possible!

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For more Nutrition posts…

My Current Go-To Meal

Despite my immense propensity for “getting bored,” I never seem to tire of healthy foods.  I’m enormously thankful for that, as I am scarcely exempt from getting cravings.  Fortunately a giant bowl protein and vegetables is generally enough to derail those venomous “you know you want a cookie”s, but it doesn’t mean it is always easy!  My willpower is tightly tied to my goals – I do my best to adhere to those, and focus on the end result as much as I can, which helps me see past the immediate satisfaction I *think* I’ll feel. 

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Eating protein DOES help – you are providing your body with a slower-digesting source of fuel that registers as “satiety” for a longer period…and I definitely need that!  If not, I’d be in trouble – after my late 20s, food started to “stick,” whether I protested or not.  Staying well hydrated helps to stave off cravings as well, which helps me stick to my goals as best I can.

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Lately my protein choices have changed (just a hair!) – since I eat a lot of the same foods, it isn’t at all surprising!  That said, it also isn’t so dramatic a change, my body will have any issues processing.  I’ve swapped out chicken breasts and tenders for ground chicken.  At least for now. I can’t say why specifically, but it totally hits the spot! 😀 Regardless of the protein source (salmon, shrimp and mild fish are other favorites!), I will always add vegetables.  

I add a few veggies into this recipe, but I add even more with it for a meal – I probably go through about 8  lbs of vegetables a day.  Yes…I said A DAY.  You know those enormous 4 lb frozen mixed vegetable packages at the supermarket?  I go through at least two a day (sometimes I use one, along with several smaller packages, varying the “mix.”)  Veggies add healthy, less calorically-dense VOLUME and, because I love to eat, volume is key.  My favorite picks are:

  • California Blend – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots. (I use these for the bulk)
  • Italian Blend – broccoli, cauliflower, Italian green beans, zucchini, carrots
  • Asian Blend – broccoli, snap peas, water chestnuts, red peppers, mushrooms
  • Ranchero Fiesta – broccoli, white beans, chickpeas, carrots, red peppers, dark red kidney beans, Italian green beans. (I generally use half a bag, mixed with less starchy vegetables, but I love these for the extra fiber and protein (which, again, helps you stay satisfied longer!))

Those aside, my favorite vegetables to prepare with the ground chicken are organic red, yellow, and orange peppers (sweeter than the green), sliced baby bella mushrooms, and fire roasted tomatoes.  Sometimes I also add baby spinach, but I’ll toss it in towards the end if I do so it doesn’t get cooked too much and lose nutrients.

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I slice the peppers into small strips, after removing the stem and seeds, and quartering.  The mushrooms just need to be rinsed, and that’s it!  I will heat the stove on high and toss all the veggies with some salt and pepper into my snazzy Curtis Stone pan (which I don’t have to use any oil with! 🙂 ) I generally put the cover on and let them simmer, stirring occasionally, for about six or seven minutes.  

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Then I put two pounds of ground chicken (Whole Foods can grind breast meat for you if they are out!) into a second, larger pan, over high heat – again, no oil is necessary, but I do sprinkle Jane’s Mixed Up Salt on both sides (it’s easy to sprinkle on one side while in the package, then when you place it in the pan face down, you can add to the second side.)  I give it about two or three minutes on high to let one side brown gently, then I flip.  I’ll give it a minute or two and then start to chop it with my spatula, and flip as necessary.  

I DON’T like dried-out meat, so I will get it cooked about 75% through, then add in the vegetable mixture, which is softened by now, but not overcooked.  I’ll let that simmer on a medium to high heat mixing periodically until it’s cooked through.  

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And voila…easy as that.  The whole thing doesn’t take more than about 15 minutes or so, and it lasts me through a few meals.  I DO tend to eat “dinner” a few times at Night, though… 🙂  It really is like feeding a raptor.

For more of my Nutritional Choices… 😀

Feeding A Raptor

My hunnie and I have a joke that feeding me is like feeding a momma raptor (if you saw Jurassic Park, you might have a fun visual.)  I eat like a horse, basically, although mostly my choices are relegated to the vegetable and protein categories.  

The other Night he brought home a HUGE assortment of “surf” (shrimp, sea bass, salmon, lobster tail) and turf” (red meat for him, poultry for me, as I don’t go red) for dinner – I was incredibly thankful, and my tummy was jumping for joy!  

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He’s quite talented with grilling – I’m afraid I’d have trouble keeping track of one item, let alone several!  He did an amazing job with everything – perfect as usual.  

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We generally go light, steering clear of sauces and marinades (you can always add condiments later if necessary.)  So typically, we stick to seasoned salt, pepper, lemon, and Old Bay – you really don’t need more than that and with the richer, fattier fish, it’s not necessary anyway.  If I am desperate for something more, I might use a diluted teriyaki sauce or salsa.

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The raptor was fed, and terribly happy about it all, I must say (though our two feline boys were a wee bit jealous, admittedly!)

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