My journey to a healthier me

Tales of my life

Recipe: Turkey Veggie Stew

This is something I make a lot.  It’s quick and easy and you can add anything to it.  Each time I make it, it tastes a little bit different.  That’s the great thing about soups and stews.

I like to post on Facebook what I’m making for the week.  I don’t know why, I just do.  Anyway, I’ve been making this stew for several weeks now.  And a few of my friends have asked me to post the recipe.  The thing is, there really isn’t a recipe.  I throw things into a pot.  Okay, maybe it’s not quite that simple, but it’s not overly complicated either.

My friend Aidan has been the most vocal about getting my recipe.  So in her honour, I’m writing this post about how I make it.

I only cook for myself, but I cook for the whole week, so I make a large pot.   But you don’t have to make a ton.  You can make it as large or as small as you want.  You just adjust the amounts.

This is how I made it this week:

TURKEY VEGGIE STEW

Ingredients:

4 lbs ground turkey

1 onion

5 stalks celery

15 baby cut carrots

2 red peppers

4 pkgs cremini mushrooms

1 large can diced tomatoes (no-salt added)

1 small can green chiles

spices of your choice

Method:

1. I start by chopping the mushrooms into large chunks.  After chopping the mushrooms, I put them in a large bowl, add a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Then I put them on a pan and roast them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.  This deepens the flavour.

2. While the mushrooms are roasting, I chop the other veggies.  I like to chop them all so they are ready to go.

3. Once veggies are chopped, I preheat a large pot on medium heat.  Once hot, I add a little olive oil to the pan.  Then add the onions. Cook the onion until starting to brown.

4. Once the onion has started to brown, add the ground turkey.  To make it easier to break up the meat and mix it, I use a potato masher.  Once the meat starts to brown, add the spices.  Add whatever you like.  I use a no-salt spice mixture, garlic powder, red chili flakes, and tumeric.  I will occasionally add others as well.

5.  Keep cooking until the meat is no longer pink.  Now you can start to add the other ingredients.

6. First I add the tomatoes.  I also add some water.  Then I add the chiles.  Then the mushrooms.  Then the celery, carrots, and peppers.  Keep mixing with each addition.

7. Once you’ve added all the veggies, put a lid on it and let it come to a boil.  I usually let it boil for a little while, then turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for a couple of hours.  Be sure to stir it occasionally.

8.  When it’s done, I turn the heat off and let it sit to cool down.  After it cools, I divide it into portions and put in the fridge.  Now I have meals for the whole week.

Notes:

If you’re not a big fan of ground turkey, you can use whatever ground meat you like.

Use whatever veggies you want.  Sometimes I add spinach or edamame.  Be creative.  Mix it up.

I will sometimes add a can of beans.  Always buy the no-salt added kind.  And make sure to rinse them before adding them in.  Add them at the same time as the veggies.

Use whatever spices you want.  And in whatever amounts you want.

I always buy cremini mushrooms, but get whatever kind you like.  I buy whole ones, but you can certainly buy the pre-sliced to save some time.

I always roast the mushrooms before adding them to the stew.  I think it deepens the flavour of both the mushrooms and the stew. You can also just saute them, or add them in without precooking them.  Your choice.

I always get the baby cut carrots, but you could use regular size carrots too.

*~*~*~*

And there you have it.  That’s how I made my turkey veggie stew this week.  Next week it might be different.  The nice thing about this stew is you can add whatever you want.  That’s why it’s a little bit different each time.

This made a rather large pot of stew.  Enough for me to have lunches and dinners for the whole week.  And it freezes very well too.

Remember, a recipe like this is more of a guideline.

Now go cook something! 😉

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I only have myself to blame

One of the things I’ve learned about myself along this journey is that I’m an emotional eater and a stress eater.  Most of the time I have pretty good control of it.  Most of the time.

The last 6 months or so have been hard.  There have been times when I’ve been pretty stressed out.  And the events of the last several days have not helped any.  And I haven’t been about to control my eating the way I had been.

I’ve been struggling.  A lot.  With everything, it feels like.

The result?

The scale is going in the wrong direction.

And I only have myself to blame.

I’ve been trying.  But obviously not hard enough.

My workouts are different.  I’m not doing as much strength training as I was.  And I’m sure that has contributed to the problem.

I’m trying not to be too hard on myself.  But how can I not be?

I was making such great progress.  And now I’m going backwards.

And now since the accident, I can’t do much until I get the okay from the doctor.

The only thing I’ve been able to do is a little walking.  But with my sore hip, it takes effort.  And it’s not something I can do every day.  Nor can I go for really long walks.

And that just makes me want to eat more.

I’m trying to be good.  Really, I’m trying.  But it’s so hard.

Not everything I’m eating is bad.

Okay, some of it is.  I try not to keep that stuff in the house, but my husband and I don’t eat the same.  He can have anything he wants.  So sometimes we have stuff in the house.  Most of the time, it’s not a problem.  But lately it has been.

When I’m stress-eating or emotional-eating, I gravitate towards things like bread and sweets.  Not sure why, but I always have.  So if there is bread in the house, I just keep eating it, little by little, until it’s gone.  The same thing goes for sweets.

But sometimes it doesn’t stop there.  Sometimes I just will eat whatever I can find.  It depends on how big the stress or emotional level is.

To make matters worse, I’ve not been keeping up with my food journal as I should be.

I had been really good about it for so long.  I don’t know why I stopped.

I really need to get back to doing it.  I know how much it helps.

I need to get back to basics, I think.

I need to refocus.

I need to plan my meals and snacks better.

I need to do what workouts I can until I get the doctor’s clearance.  And once I get that, I need to get back to do workouts like I used to.

I only have myself to blame for where I’m at now.

But I can’t continually beat myself up about it either.

I need to get myself back on track and do my best to stay there.

I’m not giving up.  I’ve come too far.  And too much is at stake.

I just need to do better.

I will do better.

 

 

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Weekly Food Prep or How I stay on track

When I tell people my story, one of the things I get asked about quite often is how I stay on track with clean eating.

And there are always 2 things I tell them.

First, keep a food journal.  I have kept one for 2 years now.  And let me tell you, it works!  I write down what I eat, what time I eat it, and the calories.  The only things I don’t include are water and coffee, because neither has any calories. (I drink my coffee black.)  At the end of the day, I total the calories.   I thought I ate pretty good until I started doing this.  It really makes a difference.

When I first started keeping my food journal, I carried around a little notebook with me at all times.  Now I just type it in my phone, in the notes section.  If that doesn’t work for you, there are many free apps out there you can use.  I’ve tried a few, but haven’t found one I really like.  Do what works best for you.

Second, I do weekly food prep.  Different people do this differently.  Again, do what works best for you.  In my case, once a week I cook up big meals that I divide into lunches and dinners for myself for the week.  It could be anything really.  I might make a large pot of turkey chili.  Or a big pot of homemade soup.  I might make a giant turkey meatloaf or a big batch of turkey meatballs.  Whatever I feel like making.  Sometimes I make 2 or 3 different things just to mix it up.  My husband and I do our grocery shopping once a week, so before we go, I know what I plan on making for myself for the next week.

In addition to making up several lunches and dinners, I put together healthy snacks for myself.  I buy a bag or box of granola and divide it into small portions.  I buy a container of cottage cheese and portion it out too.  I take plastic bags and put together snacks for after my workouts.  These often include fruit, cottage cheese, and granola.   I also put cut-up veggies into little baggies so I can just grab and go.

I almost always start the day with a smoothie and some turkey bacon.  And I almost always make the smoothie the same way — milk, plain Greek yogurt, dry oatmeal, protein powder, and frozen berries.  I do a few things ahead of time to save time in the morning.  I buy a large bag of frozen berries (can be any kind, I usually get a bag of mixed) and I divide into smaller portions for my smoothies.  I also put portions of dry oatmeal and my protein powder together.  I will often buy the small containers of yogurt because they are already pre-portioned for me.  I also will precook a whole package of turkey bacon, so all I have to do is take a couple pieces out at a time.  Doing these few things helps to make making breakfast a lot faster.  Perfect if I’m short on time in the morning.

 

That may seem like a lot of work to some people.  But it’s really not.  I usually do this on Sundays; sometimes I divide it over both Saturday and Sunday.  It really doesn’t take that much time to get it all done.  And it saves me oodles of time throughout the week.  The best part is by doing this, I have no excuse for not eating healthy meals.  The work is already done.  The meals are just sitting in the fridge waiting for me.

Now this does take a bit of pre-planning.  I have to decide what I want to make, what ingredients I have and what I need, how much to make, do I have a recipe or is it something I can just throw together.  Luckily, I love to cook, so it’s not that big of a deal for me. But if you’re someone who doesn’t like to cook, or maybe you’re not really comfortable in the kitchen, it might be a little daunting.

Maybe you could get together with friends and have a cooking party.  Decide on who’s house to cook at, each person makes a dish, and you share what you make among the group.

Another suggestion would be to use a slow cooker.  Personally I have 2 and I love them! I make tons of different things.  They are so versatile.

You can do an online search for recipes for anything and everything.

I also use Pinterest a lot.  If you don’t already use it, you’re missing out!  It’s a great resource for so many things, not just cooking.

I’ve not always been in control when it comes to food.  It has often controlled me.  My food journal and weekly food prep helps me take back some of that control.

Do I always eat at home?  No, I love to eat out.  But taking control of what I eat at home has helped me take control of what I eat out.  I’ve learned to pay attention to the ingredients used, the cooking methods, the add-ons.  Almost every restaurant has healthy options, it’s a matter of looking for them.

Do I always eat clean?  No, but I do my best.  I often follow the 80/20 rule — I eat clean 80% of the time, and 20% of the time I indulge.  Am I perfect at it?  No, but again, I try my best.

And probably the most important thing I’ve learned is to take it one meal at a time.  Don’t beat yourself up because you ate pizza at a party.  Or maybe you had a few too many appetizers.  Or maybe you decided to have dessert.  Just do better at your next meal.  And remember, it’s okay to indulge once in a while.

 

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Control – me vs. food

We all like to be in control over different aspects of our lives. There are things we can easily control, some we can control some of the time, and others that we cannot control at all. Food should be one of those things we can easily control. The problem is lately I feel like food is controlling me. And I don’t like it.

Lately I feel like I’m always wanting to eat. I’m trying to be good. I’m trying to eat healthy. But it’s hard. Harder than it should be, harder than it used to be. It’s not that I’m necessarily hungry, I just seemed to always want to eat. I don’t know why. And I’m giving in way more than I should. And I don’t know why.

I’ve been keeping a food journal for over a year. I write down everything I eat and when. And more often than not, I include the calories. I know I should always include the calories, but I don’t always know what they are so I can’t include them. If I don’t know or can’t find out the calories, I probably shouldn’t be eating it, but I do anyway. So why am I over doing it? Why am I eating more than I should? Why am I eating things I know I shouldn’t? I don’t know. I truly don’t.

I find myself reaching for snack after snack. Some of them are healthy snacks, some are not. But regardless, I shouldn’t be snacking as much as I am. I don’t know why I seem to want to eat all the time. Something is going on. I just wish I knew what it is.

Like I said, I feel like food is controlling me instead of me controlling it. I know it all has to do with this slump I’m in. The feeling that I’ve lost or at least misplaced my motivation and drive. But what I don’t know is why or how to get it back. I’m trying, though. With everything I have. I don’t want to lose this fight. Although there are times when I fear I might. I’ve been sharing my struggles with my friends. They seem to understand and are trying to help me through it. And that’s the main reason for doing it. I know I need their help.

I’m frustrated and angry with myself. I know I can do better. I know what I need to do. I know how to control my food, at least for the most part. So why am I struggling with it? Why am I letting food control me? How do I take back that control?

I don’t have the answers to those questions. At least not yet. But I’m trying. I’m not giving up. I’ll figure it out. I’ll get back to where I need to be. I just hope it’s soon.

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