There are mornings where I don’t have time to assemble my lunch. Normally lunch consists of chicken that we grilled on the weekend, veggies and quinoa. Here lately though, we haven’t even had time to even grill the chicken. When this happens I need something quick to grab out of the fridge or freezer to stuff into my lunch bag. I’ve eaten Lean Cuisine’s before in desperate times, but usually end up hungry in an hour. The sodium in these are also sky high. I’ve even tried the Perfect Fit meals that are refrigerated and vacuum sealed. They were just ok and many times the chicken was so dry I could barely get it down.
I had all but given up on finding something healthy, and already prepared, until one day I walked down the frozen aisle looking for something else and found a bunch of meals from a company called EatingWell. They are also vacuum sealed and have a cut out in the box so you can see the ingredients, which looked really fresh and yummy. Intrigued, I took one out of the freezer and turned it over to see what the calories were and was pleasantly surprised to find it was just 300 calories. I blinked a couple of times to make sure I was seeing it right -I’ve had some trouble with my contacts lately- and read the same 300 calories. The sodium was also half of what the Lean Cuisine meals were. Convinced this was just luck of the draw I checked out three more and the highest calorie count was 350. This was perfect for my calorie limit for lunch so I grabbed two different ones.
Now, yes they checked out on nutrition and calories, and they looked great in the box, but what would they actually taste like? The first one I tried was Korean Inspired Beef and it was fantastic. I hesitated on writing a blog post because again this could be luck of the draw. Excitedly I pulled out the Creamy Pesto Chicken meal from my freezer, stuffed it into my amazing lunch kit, and ran off to work. I have to say this meal was just as good as the first one I ate. Lunch was a blissful 310 calories, 22 grams of protein and only 4 grams of sugar and 450 mg of sodium. The freshness of the food that shows through the little window of the box even remains fresh looking after heating up and tastes so fresh when eating it. Below are some pictures of what the meal looks in the box, out of the box before microwaving, and lastly after heating. I’m so excited to have found these. I encourage you to try them out.
Back in the day, when I ate freely without a care in the world, I liked going to Schlotzsky’s and getting The Original sandwich. Oh how yummy that was. And the bread? To die for. You can imagine the shock that surely registered on my face when I checked the calories on MyfitnessPal and learned that The Original was 780 calories! For me that would count towards my breakfast, morning snack and lunch. I was devastated. Would I never get to eat Schlotzsky’s again?
After I was able to settle down from the shock and despair- ok that’s a bit dramatic, but the idea of not getting to eat it again was sad- I decided to check on the calories for the small. The small Original still comes out pretty high at 540 calories. This is still quite a bit. I guess I could forgo my afternoon snack to make up for it, but I usually get hungry around 3pm, so this still didn’t work.
I’ve been on a quest to find a way to eat the things I love, but to do it in moderation, so I started devising a way to make this happen. As it turns out, the majority of the calories are in the bread. No surprise there really. If it’s scrumptious,then it’s usually the culprit. Once I realized the bread was somewhere around 200 calories by itself, I decided to alter it by taking the meat from one side and adding it to the other side, making the now half sandwich feel like a deluxe original. I just didn’t eat the other half of the bread.
I didn’t feel cheated by doing this and actually felt full when I was done. I even did this in front of co-workers, conquering my peer pressure eating, even after answering the question, “What the heck are you doing do that sandwich??”
Over the past couple of months I really haven’t been eating out in order to watch what I’m eating and to keep the calories down, and it has paid off. With Ten pounds gone and more to go, one of my next steps is to go out and eat responsibly. Now that I have my mission, where does one go to breakfast? Armed with my daughter in tow we were determined to make this happen.
Years back restaraunts started posting the calories in their food and posting them online, which helps a lot in making good decisions BEFORE you even get there. Of course you have to pay attention to the number of servings the posted calories are for. I’ve caught this a few times where I was excited that the meal would be just 300 calories but when I checked the servings it was for two. Not cool. To make our challenge even more challenging, my daughter eats gluten free.
We both set out the night before, checking restaurant near by that had the calories posted, and also had gluten free options. Lucky for us we live near an area called The Woodlands and there are a bunch of healthy options in that area. After about thirty minutes we decided on a restaurant called Another Broken Egg Cafe. They have a section called Sensible Selections. The first column is calories and the second one is fat calories. They had several other columns for nutrition as well.
The Skinny Omelette was a contestant, but I could’t get over the idea of having asparagus in my omelette so I chose the Monterey Omelette. This was pretty high on the calorie count. Breakfast is 300 calories for me, and morning snack is 200, so I could combine those two to get 500 calories, but I had to alter this breakfast to get there. This omelette, as posted on their website, comes with the following:
Egg white omelette filled with baked chicken, avocados, onions, green chilies and tomatoes. Topped with Monterey Jack cheese and green onions. Served with an English muffin, fresh fruit and salsa.
Putting my thinking cap on I requested that they omit the chicken (probably saved me 100 calories) and decided not to eat the english muffin (another 100 calories)and eat just some of the fruit. The waitress was more than happy to accommodate and even swapped out the english muffin for fruit for my daughter’s decadent Cajun Louisiana Crawfish Skillet meal. She was on a gluten free quest, not for calories. It was her free meal of the week.
The meal and service were amazing and we decided that this will be our breakfast place to go once a month where we can both enjoy meals that will be on our new eating plan. As it turns out I was only able to finish half of the omelet, didn’t eat the muffin and ate just a few pieces of fruit.
There were several wins here. I had a nice breakfast and was able to stop myself when I was full. From a very early age I had been programmed to eat everything on my plate otherwise I’d be wasting food. As an adult I hated wasting money on food not eaten and would eat it all for money sake. Peer pressure eating has always been an issue for me too. If my eating mate decides on a stack of pancakes with bacon and hash browns then dangit I wanted it too. I did not do this here either, and believe me when I say my daughter’s meal was decadent. I was also able to hit my calorie goal, focus more on the atmosphere and enjoy the company of my wonderful daughter.
Another Broken Egg Café is definitely a winner and will be repeated often. Great healthy-minded restaurants. who are willing to accommodate different people’s diet needs are out there, and if you live in The Woodland’s Texas, then you are really lucky!
Last night I prepared the Country Gravy Pork Chops meal from Hello Fresh. This is my second attempt at preparing the meal plans from Hello Fresh, and I’m happy to say that this time the food tasted really good. I halfway wish I had chosen this one to start out with.
My previous post Hello Fresh Lemony Shrimp reviewed the packaging and delivery so I’m going to jump right in on the food portion since the packaging is the same.
Directions– This time the directions felt a bit more intuitive and flowed together pretty nicely. I did skip around to try to save some time, but wound up finishing in 30 minutes as the directions stated. I’d give this set of directions 4 stars. It was easy to follow, and I liked that the meal was cooked in one pan, keeping the dirty dish count low. Below is a picture of their plating of the meal, along with the direction sheet.
Flavor– I was impressed with the flavor and texture of this meal and I’m going to go ahead and give this portion of the review 5 stars. The flavor packet that you mix in with the flour for frying (in olive oil) really gave the meat a nice flavor, and the crust was so crunchy, and didn’t slip off the meat like some breading does on fried foods. The taste of the collard greens tasted really good mixed in with the potatoes and it was easy to try to mimic the plating to make the meal look fancy.
Nutrition– Again I had to change some things up to make the portion a reasonable size for someone trying to eat right and keep the calories low. 660 calories is really high for me, trying to stay in the 400 to 500 calories range for dinner. For fairness sake, the name of the meal does say Country Gravy Pork Chops, which screams, “I’m not healthy! Stay away!” But a girl can do her best to alter things and still eat yummy food. Who wants to eat salad all the time? So to keep the calorie count low this is what i did:
Each pork chop weighed in at 6 ounces (according to healthy sites and my nutritionist a healthy portion is 4 ounces or the size of a deck of cards) so I cut off some of it.
I only used half of the potatoes. I saved the other half to use with eggs for breakfast so that wasn’t wasted.
I just drizzled on some of gravy to get a taste of it and wound up using just 1/4 of the gravy per serving.
This meal had you frying and covering everything in olive oil. Sure, olive oil is still better for you than many of the other oils, but the amount in this one was excessive. I limited my use of it.
Knowing what I already knew about the lack of flavor from the previous meal I did add more salt to this one. Bad I know, but I did it anyway.
For the nutrition portion of the review, out of the box without my meddling with it, I’d give this one 3 stars. It does have some healthy veggies in there.
My overall experience with this meal was very positive. If I get the chance to order it again, I will. Below is a picture of their plating and mine. This one looks better than the first one I tried.
Last night I prepared our first Hello Fresh meal, the Lemony Shrimp Risotto. If the meal prepared by me turned out to be half as yummy as the picture sent in the package then we were in for a real treat. I’m going to separate the review into categories to try to cover all of the things that were important to me.
Packaging– Just how did Hello Fresh Manage to mail all of the these ingredients and keep them cool and fresh? I give Hello Fresh 5 stars in this department. The cardboard box was thick, the insides were insulated in a thick silver material, there were two large freeze packs at the bottom and when I opened it up all of the ingredients were cool. When it was delivered the temperature outside was 90 degrees.
The package we ordered contained three meals. The meat was below the freeze packs and each meal’s other ingredients were packaged in separate recyclable bags clearly labeled with the name of the meal.
Ingredients – How fresh are the ingredients? Again I give Hello Fresh 5 stars. I couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately I forgot to put the shrimp in this picture.
Directions– Were they easy to follow? I would say yes, but in this department I would give Hello Fresh 4 stars. They sent a nice sheet with instructions that have pictures, and an estimate on how long it should take to make. This meal’s estimate was 45 minutes. The reason I give it four stars is because the rossitto could have done with one cup less water and I chopped all the veggies first to try to save time. This meal actually took me an hour because I was trying to figure out how to fix the issue with too much water in the rossitto.
Flavor– How did the end product taste? I had heard from reviews that meals from Hello Fresh were bland and needed adjusting. In this department, for this meal at least, I would agree and give Hello Fresh 2 stars. I really don’t like giving such a low rating, but the texture of the end product was that of porridge, and from their picture I can tell they grilled the shrimp, but the recipe had you put the shrimp right into the risotto to cook it. The recipe also said to put in the whole unstripped branches of the thyme and they said that a few leaves will come free. All of the leaves came free, which I don’t mind, but I wasn’t able to retrieve all of the stems and had to fish the ones I had missed out of my food while eating. The recipe also called for a few squeezes of the lemon, but due to the bland taste I squeezed the whole lemon in there and still ended up with just a hint of lemon flavor.
Nutrition– Was the meal healthy? For this category I would give Hello Fresh 4 stars. They sent a sheet for all of the meals offered that week which included their calories and other information. I had hoped Hello Fresh would have been lower in calories than Blue Apron, but they turned out to be pretty close to each other. The plan we chose was for 2 servings a meal, but this meal turned out to be 3 servings. This is nice if you want to take left overs to lunch the next day, but if you aren’t into left overs then this was a waste of food. Thinking positively, by taking out the extra serving, it was easy to transform this meal into an appropriate calorie count for the meal.
Overall the experience was a positive one. No shopping, no meal planning, just take out the bag and directions for that meal and get started. This was also my first time making rossitto, so perhaps the mishap with the texture was partly my fault. I’ll be making another meal tonight and will keep my mind open.
Before I go, here is a side by side picture of their picture of how the meal looks, and what it looked like after I prepared it.
When my sister and I were young, our grandparents took us up to Temple Texas pretty often. This was where our great grandparents lived where they had a farm. In the mornings we picked black eyes peas, green beans, potatoes, corn and many other vegetables, and when the hot afternoon came we would sit in the shade and snap green beans and shell peas. Back then we didn’t have tablets or video games, we wanted to be outside and actually enjoyed being put to work.
Before long we grew up and technology and careers creeped into our lives making free time limited. As a result we started eating processed foods, TV dinners and fast food because it was convenient, but definitely not good for us. The chemicals, artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives could fill another blog post. Eventually after reading the labels and researching the effects I decided I wanted to eat more healthy. It’s been at least two years that I’ve been going to the Woodlands Farmer’s Market and I’ve realized recently that I rarely eat those processed and artificial foods anymore.
This morning I visited the market and gathered up some of my favorite things. At the top left is my favorite green sauce from Pain Train Salsa Directly below the purple cabbage are some turkey sticks from K-9 Campus Cafe for the doggies. The vegetables are from Atkinson Farms, the eggs from Tejas Heritage Farm, and the bread which is for our dinner tonight, is from a vendor that I’m so sorry I don’t know the name of. All I know is that she’s my first stop, because if you aren’t fast enough, you don’t get the good pastries, breads and danishes, and today I missed out on the herb bread. When I was sad that I had been too late, she asked what I was using it for, and suggested the sour dough bread. I do have garlic infused olive oil so this should do the trick.
I enjoy eating healthy and also support local farms. If you are local to the area you should visit this market.
Meal delivery services have been taking hold recently and there are quite a few to choose from. My daughter started using Blue Apron and has been very excited about it. Basically you pick the package that you want, usually between 3 to 5 days a week, you chose those meals out of menu that changes every week, they deliver it with all that you need including directions with pictures on how to make it. After looking at the leaders out there I chose Hello Fresh.
My daughter is very happy with Blue Apron, and I considered them, but their estimated calorie count per meal was between 600 to 800 calories which is way to0 high for us. I get a max of 500 calories a night, if I chose to forgo my evening snack. I did like that Blue Apron posted the calories, whereas Hello Fresh did not, but when looking at the food I could see a lot of noodles and rice on Blue Aprons site. I wouldn’t be eating that so I would be wasting food.
So why did I decide to do this when I’ve been making a lot of progress on my own menu? Well, in my household I’m the menu designer, list creator, shopper and chef. This is going to take a big load off my mind, at least for the three meals I’ll be getting a week, and with my husband just out of the hospital with a total knee replacement surgery I can use all the help I can get. I’m truly excited to start this adventure. They have some really nice meals and each week I plan on cooking the nicest one for Saturday night dinner.
I have no idea what the calorie count for each meal will be, or what their idea of one serving is- I chose the 2 serving meal option- but for each meal I’m going to plug in the ingredients into myfitnesspal and find out. I can adjust how much I eat after that, and I may end up with lunch for the next day. Check in with this blog on Sunday. I’m going to prepare the Lemony Shrimp Risotto Saturday night and write up a review along with a picture of what it really looks like after I’ve made it. I’ll also be including the calories per serving that come out of myfitnesspal after I add it all up.
I love to shop at The Woodlands Farmers Market to get fresh veggies every week from Atkinson Farm and this trip I’m going to get some freshly baked herb bread that we can dip into some of the best olive oil I’ve ever had from Texas Hill Country Olive Company. Does this sound like a healthy dinner? No, not really, so don’t try this at home if you are wanting to lose weight. I allow myself to eat whatever I want for one meal a week, and so far it hasn’t stopped my progress. My boss actually gave me that advice, and he has lost a ton of weight in one year, so I’m not going to argue with success.
Remember to check back in Sunday afternoon to get the review of our first meal from Hello Fresh! Below is a picture of the three meals we chose for the first week, including the Lemony Shrimp Risotto that I will be doing the review on.