Chicken Wrap: Lunch for 5P+

Previously, I’ve confessed my fondness for wraps.  They are quick, versatile and (with the type I buy) low in Points Plus.  I’ll throw almost anything into my wraps.

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Today, it was leftover chicken (3 ounces for 3P+) from the whole chicken I baked yesterday, along with some mixed greens, cherry tomatoes and spicy mustard (all 0P+).  With carrots, a mini-cucumber and a side of my favorite veggie dip (30g for 1P+), it was a satisfying lunch… high in protein, low in carbs and enough fruits and veggies to make me feel full.

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This lighter lunch left room later in the day for the obligatory post-Easter Peeps.  In case you’re wondering, 5 Peeps for 4P+….

Thinking Outside the Sandwich

When my boys were younger, I’d often pack their lunches “in fours.”  Four of the following: protein, fruit, veggie, dairy, carbohydrate or treat.

To do this, I found square, air-tight containers and square silicon baking cups.  It was a way to send lunch without the usual sandwich at the center.  The boys’ appetites eventually outgrew the containers and I packed them away… until now.

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Recently, I’ve re-discovered how fun packing “in fours” can be.  Our daughter eats lunch away from home from time to time, so I broke out the containers once again.  Not only are they good for her, but they’re good for me too!  Depending on the day, it could make a large snack to hold me over while on the go.  Or it could be a light lunch in-between appointments, to keep my in control until snack time.

My favorites to pack:

  • Hard-boiled egg (2P+)
  • Toasted almonds (15 pieces for 3P+)
  • Carrot sticks (0P+)
  • Cubed cheese or cheese rounds (P+ vary)
  • Mini-pretzels (11 for 1P+)
  • Mini-marshmallows (20 for 1P+)
  • Toasted oat cereal (1/4 cup for 1P+)
  • Turkey pepperoni slices (17 slices for 2P+)
  • Sliced, salted cucumbers (0P+)
  • Dark chocolate chips (1 TBS for 2P+)
  • Grapes (0P+)
  • Popcorn (stovetop popped, 1/2 cup for 1P+)
  • Sliced apples – if eaten quickly, before they brown (0P+)
  • Crackers (P+ vary)

What items would YOU pack?  I’d love to hear some fresh ideas!

 

 

 

 

Asparagus

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables.  I love that its arrival marks the beginning of spring produce!

This veggie is packed with antioxidants, fiber and nutrients, including vitamins A and K, B vitamins and folate.  The bonus is that it’s easy to prepare.  You can roast, grill or boil it in mere minutes.

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When asparagus arrives home from the grocery, I like to give the ends a quick trim and place the cut ends in a shallow bowl of water, then put it in the refrigerator.  When it’s time to cook the asparagus, rinse the stalks then snap off the hard ends.  As demonstrated by my trusty kitchen assistant, the thick, hard ends will snap off in the right location automatically.

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My quick, go-to preparation method is to bring a couple inches of salted water to boil in a skillet, then add the asparagus and simmer until al dente (cooked, but still firm to the bite), about 4-5 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a plate.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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Asparagus turns bright green as it cooks.  It’s as delicious as it is vibrant.

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When I made this asparagus, I laid it out for the photograph and went about making dinner.  Before I knew it, each and every stalk was gone.  The kids and their friends grabbed them as if they were Twizzlers on the counter.  Our preschooler even said, “I like asparagus.  I want my body to grown big and strong.”  Sweet girl.

Reader Question: What is weight maintenance like?

I’d like to hear about how maintenance is going for you. Do you still track the food that you eat? What do you continue monitor closely and have you eased up on any aspects?

Since 2012, I’ve lost about 75 pounds, most of it between January and October of that year.  There were a few key components that helped me achieve this.  I discovered healthy food swaps, slowly ramped up exercise duration and intensity and began following the Weight Watchers “lifestyle” (not “diet”).  Once I reached my goal weight, I transitioned from intentionally trying to lose weight to learning to maintain my weight.

The shift in gears was… interesting.  By the time I transitioned to maintaining my weight, I pretty much had the food and eating end down pat.  The hard part was the mental aspect: knowing when and how much to loosen the reigns.  I was afraid that if I loosened too much that I might not stay in control, but if I didn’t loosen enough that I would burn out.

In the end, the philosophy that struck the right balance was the philosophy that helped me succeed with the loss: just a dot, not a lot.  The “dots” may be more frequent or even slightly larger now.  The concept is still the same: portion control, not deprivation.  (I will add, however, that there are a few foods that I simply won’t have in the house, because portion control isn’t possible.  Thankfully, they’re not foods that I really like, just foods that are difficult to stop eating.)

For example, a sampling from this cheese tray was something that I recently chose to enjoy.  I would have declined before switching to maintenance.  (It was as delicious as it looks.)

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I still plan my food days in advance (usually the night before), track almost all of my food and attend a weekly Weight Watchers meeting.  In all honesty, I don’t currently foresee a time that this would change.  The weekly meetings are enjoyable.  It give me a little boost and I’m hopefully able to pay back to others some of the support and encouragement that I received along my way.  This blog is another way that I hope to repay the kindness that I received during my journey.

As for what I monitor closely, I do still monitor very closely my potion sizes.  My kitchen scale is used many times a day.  I do not monitor fruits and veggies.  Being hungry is not an option, so I turn to whole fruits and veggies whenever I need them, without worrying about overconsumption.  Without a doubt, they’re a far better option than anything else that I would otherwise choose.

Note: If you have a question, feel free to send me a message through the blog or through Facebook.

Chobani Simply 100 Greek Yogurt

I’m a big fan of Greek yogurt.  It’s high in protein, which helps keep your full longer.  And it’s a great source of calcium, potassium, zinc, as well as vitamins B6 and B12.  The texture is thick, creamy and seemingly indulgent.

At any given time, we have wide array of brands and flavors in our refrigerator.  Large tubs of plain, non-fat Fage, Chobani Champion tubes for the kids’ lunch boxes and flavored, single-serving containers from any number of companies for snacks.

Previously, I had checked out the nutrition label Chobani single-serving containers and, frankly, wasn’t impressed.  Recently, however, new packaging caught my attention.  Maybe I missed them before, or maybe they’re new, but Chobani has a line called “Simply 100.”

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The vanilla variety boasts:

  • 100 calories
  • 12g protein
  • 5g fiber (20% of the recommended daily value)
  • 7g sugar (only about 1g more than a same size of Fage’s plain non-fat)
  • 0g fat
  • Natural ingredients

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My store carries four varieties: Blueberry, Vanilla, Back Cherry and Pineapple.  Apparently, they also make Strawberry and Peach.  The packaging is quite similar to their “regular” single-serving containers, so select carefully.  Thus far, I’ve sampled the blueberry and vanilla, and give them both a thumbs up!

Note for Weight Watchers followers: according to my scanner, all four varieties are 2P+ each.

Coffee: Small Changes, Big Change

The promise of a hot cup of coffee is enough to pull me out of bed in the morning.  And along with a snack, it’s also a relaxing way to slow down the afternoon.  Before bringing a Keurig machine into the house several years ago, I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker.  The allure of being able to brew a cup at a time, instead of an entire pot, eventually won me over.  (Ironically, I could probably brew and finish an entire pot by myself now.)

In the beginning, I’d pour in whatever dairy I had on hand and spoon in an undetermined amount of sugar, not paying much attention to how much of either.  Eventually I realized that the heap of sugar and splash (or two) of dairy were probably adding up to more calories than I wanted, so I set out to quantify and subsequently decrease both.

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Measuring out sugar and creamer, I realized that I liked about two teaspoons of sugar and a tablespoon of creamer.  Over the course of several months, I was able to slowly whittle down the sugar to a teaspoon and the creamer to two teaspoons.

Adding a teaspoon less of sugar and adding about a tablespoon less of creamer to a cup of coffee may seem rather trivial at first glance.  Assuming that I drink three cups of coffee per day, that seemingly trivial reduction in sugar and creamer add up to 120 calories (and 25g of sugar) per day!  Saving those 120 calories per day over the course of the month, if all other variables remained constant, adds up to entire pound lost!  The math is simple.  This equals 12 pounds lost over the course of a year… just by a gradual and seemingly trivial reduction in sugar and creamer.

Before making or ordering your next cup of joe, consider a gradual scale-back in sugar and dairy.  You might be surprised how little you miss it and what a difference it can make in your bottom line.