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Posted on Jun 30, 2013 in Menus and Recipes

Weekly menu and shopping list for June 30

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Several people asked how I plan for a whole week of food, with the shopping and cooking done all on one day.  This is the menu for the week.  I adapted it for one person, but it can easily doubled or more for your family.  I tried to use what is in season and on sale. Maybe it seems boring to eat the same things all week, but you can add another dish or two, especially if you are cooking for a group, and after a couple of weeks, you can freeze a few portions, and switch for a frozen meal for variety.  Have different fruits each day.   The idea is to get all of the prep and most of the cooking all done, so you don’t have to think about what to eat for meals at all, and you spend minimal time in the kitchen during the week.

What will you do with the extra time?

 

Shopping list (amount used for recipe, some items will not be used up)

*Boneless skinless chicken breasts  (4 halves)

*Cauliflower (whole, divided)

Reduced fat cream cheese (8oz)

Ranch dressing mix (1 packet)

*Shredded cheddar cheese (8oz)

*Medium shells (8 oz)

*Zucchini (3 large, cut into slices: 1½ for foil packets, ½ for fritters, 1 for dinners)

Baby carrots (1lb)

Lemon

*Blackberries (1 pint)

*Peaches (5 total: 3 for crumble, 2 for parfaits)

Bananas (5 green)

*blueberries (1 pint)

Bread

*Yogurt  (8)

*Eggs

Tomato

* Sale items from circular

Freezer

Salmon portions

Frozen ripe bananas

Asparagus pieces

Sliced green onions

At the end of the week, chop and freeze unused tomato, freeze extra bananas and blueberries.

Pantry Items

Flour

Sugar

Brown sugar

Cinnamon

Rolled oats

Butter

Cocoa powder

Breadcrumbs

Grated Parmesan cheese

 

Healthier cheesy mac (makes 4 large servings, can add cubed ham if desired)

8oz medium shells

1 whole cauliflower

8 oz reduced fat cream cheese (or regular or fat free)

1 packet ranch dressing mix

1c shredded cheddar cheese

1/2c breadcrumbs

2T grated parmesan cheese

  1. Prepare shells according to package
  2. Wash and cut cauliflower 2/3 into very small florets (1/2 inch pieces, 4c)
  3. Reserve 1/3 cauliflower in larger florets (2c)
  4. Steam cauliflower on stovetop or in microwave until large pieces are just cooked, and small pieces are cooked and soft.
  5. Place large pieces in 2 containers for lunches
  6. Drain shells, and add cauliflower pieces, not completely dry
  7. Put shells and cauliflower back into pan, and with retained heat, melt the cream cheese.
  8. Add ranch dressing and cheese, and mix
  9. Place in 8X8 inch casserole, and sprinkle with mixed breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until top and edges are brown, and inside is bubbly

 

Kansas City Rub Chicken and carrots (makes 4 servings plus leftovers of chicken, 2 servings carrots)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or other chicken pieces)

Kansas City Dry rub (with brown sugar, garlic and spices, or other rub)

8oz baby carrots

  1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with rub, place in roasting pan
  2. Sprinkle with water
  3. Distribute baby carrots around chicken pieces
  4. Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes until just cooked through, and carrots are softened and browned
  5. Heat through again before eating

Salmon Packets  (makes 3 servings)

3 frozen wild salmon portions

1 lemon, half sliced

3 piece of foil about 12X18 inches

  1. On each piece of foil, put ½ sliced zucchini, then the one portion of fish on top of that
  2. Add a slice of lemon, and a squeeze of lemon juice (add dried or fresh herbs of choice)
  3. Fold the foil so the short edges are together and fold it over several times to seal the top.  Fold the sides in a couple of times
  4. Cook on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 degrees for around 20 minutes (or longer if the fish is frozen)
  5. Cool them on a rack and put them in the fridge
  6. Remove from foil and heat through before eating

 

Breakfast Frittata (makes 4 servings)

8 eggs

3/4c shredded cheddar cheese

3/4c frozen blanched asparagus

3/4c zucchini slices, steamed and drained well

1/8c sliced frozen green onions

  1. Heat 12 inch cast iron pan
  2. Beat eggs in large bowl
  3. Stir in other ingredients, add to pan
  4. Lift eggs as they cook on the bottom, to allow eggs to run underneath
  5. After all liquid is incorporated, place pan in oven to continue cooking until eggs are cooked through
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack for a few minutes
  7. Turn over onto large plate and cut into quarters.
  8. Eat cold or reheat before eating

 

Peach/Berry crumble (4 servings)

1 pint blackberries

3 peaches, peeled and sliced

1/2c flour, divided

3/4c sugar

1c rolled oats

1/4c brown sugar

1/2t cinnamon

1/2c butter, cut into small pieces

  1. Mix oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, 2T flour and butter in bowl.  Microwave 1 minute to melt butter, and stir to mix
  2. In another bowl, mix berries, peaches, remaining flour and sugar
  3. Add fruit mix to 8X8 inch glass baking pan or glass pie plate
  4. Sprinkle crumble mix over fruit
  5. Bake 350 degrees 30 minutes until center of fruit is bubbling

 

Chocolate freeze (3-4 servings)

5 frozen bananas, broken into pieces

3T cocoa powder

  1. Place in food processor, and pulse until smooth.  May have to stop to mix powder into bananas a few times
  2. Place in container and freeze until used

 

Other chores:

  • Portion out baby carrots for lunches, zucchini for dinners
  • Pack lunches for the week

Meals:

Breakfasts

  • 4 days frittata and toast
  • 3 days yogurt parfait (layer with blueberries and sliced peaches)

Lunches

  • 3 days salmon packets
  • 2 days chicken with cauliflower
  • 2 days chicken sandwiches with tomato slices
  • each day add banana , yogurt and baby carrots

Dinners

  • 4 days cheesy mac and steamed zucchini (can freeze portions and swap for something in the freezer)
  • 2 days chicken and carrots
  • 1 dinner out

Desserts

  • Peach/berry crumble
  • Chocolate freeze

 

Photo credit: Photos by Mavis

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Posted on Jun 28, 2013 in How to simplify, Resources

Book Review: The Plateau Effect

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Have you ever noticed that when you start out something new, you seem to improve every time you work on it, but as you make more and more progress, you meet with diminishing returns for your efforts?  A book came out recently, that really surprised me.  The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success, by Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson really focused on this effect, and made some very perceptive observations about our lives.

 Most of the book was devoted to describing the problem in all of its facets:  Learning to play golf, losing weight driving our careers forward, starting a business, for example.  We are too impatient to wait for the long-term payoff, or we get stuck because we are either acclimated to our situation, or it is changing too slowly toward the worse for us to notice.  They used many scientific studies and stories illustrating the point, in fact.  The first half of the book had me wondering if there was any solution possible to this “Law of Nature.”

 Then they made a few more observations.  They pointed out that most of the time, there is a huge amount of information swirling around us, and that we are not paying attention to what could benefit our cause. Even worse, they point out that while we are constantly bombarded with information, we have trouble screening out the noise.  We multitask even when we are performing difficult tasks.  We want to look at the text messages and emails as soon as they arrive on the screen. They point out that incorporating the important information that others miss could give us a competitive edge.

And finally, they suggest some actions:

  • Pay attention to what is important, and turn off what is not.  This means focusing our full attention on important tasks as long as necessary, and not giving in to distractions or trying to do two things at once.  This doesn’t mean that we should work until we drop, the strategic timing of rest and change of perspective can also help us effectively move forward.
  • Listen to each other, without distractions or interrupting (even if it is very quietly, in our own minds).  This will help us see the key details in our business and jobs that others are missing, and help us strengthen our personal relationships.
  • Get things finished, not perfected.  They give a set of characteristics of perfectionists, and show how we get overwhelmed with our own and others’ expectations, and then give up because it is impossible.  We perfectionists are unwilling to expose ourselves to criticism, but if we hide our (perceived) weaknesses, we don’t get things done, and we will never improve.

What surprised me about this book, was that it was not the usual get-ahead-in-business-and-in-life self-help book, but it tells us to decide what is important to us, to focus on those things and people who are important, listen to what they tell us, do our best, and show it to others.

This sounds like a happier, simpler life.

 

Photo credit:  OregonDOT

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Posted on Jun 26, 2013 in Inspiration, My Journey

Stand back, doors opening

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I have a big black dog, as I have written about a few times (here and here and here).  He expects every creature that he encounters to be nice, smell good, and provide him with pets and treats.  Except squirrels.  Squirrels are bad.

The same can’t be said for the expectations people and other creatures have for my dog.  Since I am usually with him when I am outside, I have learned to see people through their relationship to him.  Some people are curious, some are attracted like a magnet, and some are afraid (The squirrels are not afraid).  I usually smile and say hello to each person to indicate that he is friendly, and to see if we should leave some extra space.  This requires that I look each person we encounter in the eye, but my role in these connections are neutral or facilitating.

Now that I am spending some time traveling alone, I still have the same observations of people while there is space between us.  No expectations, no fear, but still looking.  No one is really looking back, though.

Good morning.

 

Photo credit: A. Lillie

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Posted on Jun 24, 2013 in How to simplify, My Journey

How laughing got me started on the path to a simpler, happier life

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Not too long ago, I was unhappy.  I was working long hours, thinking that if I just got past this one grant/manuscript/report/approval, that I would be able to relax and enjoy my life.  The worst part was that people came to expect this from me, and expect that I would always pick up the undone tasks because I cared more about getting the job done than who did the work.

One day I realized that I had everything I needed to change my life for the better.  I was laughing at something, and I noticed that good laugh gives you a moment of happiness.

  • I tried to laugh more. For a while, I didn’t know how to do this.  I started watching funny, uplifting movies, and then reading books and blogs that made me laugh.  Thank you right now to Wendi Aarons and Cakewrecks.  They also validated my vague unease with Always commercials and cupcake cakes.
  • I took an honest look at what I had and what I wanted.  This was the hardest part to begin, but it was pretty surprising how much was good.  I still have the same job, and I am doing it well, but it is not necessary to follow the conventional path to achieve my goals.  In science, following the conventional path is NOT the way to discovery.  Life is the same way.
  • I started to let go of some things and people. I still hear that voice from my childhood saying “be nice.”  It was easier to understand that I can’t please everyone than it was to deal with the responses from people who expected me to make their wishes my priority.  These people were co-workers and people in long lines, not my children.  Letting go of these habits has had the biggest impact on making my life simpler, and my heart lighter.
  • I started to get rid of things.  I had a lot of things that I had accumulated to make my life easier, or just fill up space. The reduction in cleaning time alone has made my life better.
  • I left my office for days at a time.  My office is nice, as offices go, but now I spend more time outdoors.  A half hour in nature, or even a walk in the park can make your whole day better.  I stopped making work be the main goal of getting up in the morning.  I got a dog, something I had been wanting to do for years.  I get more exercise now.  I spend more time with people I care about.

Laughing.

 

Photo credit: Ell Brown

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Posted on Jun 21, 2013 in How to simplify, My Journey

Change of Plans

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One of the best parts of simplifying life is gaining flexibility.  Leaving room for what is important allows us to revise our priorities as we go.  Today, as I started out on my morning walk in a strange city looking for a mailbox, I left some extra time.  A rain shower sent me into a chain coffeehouse near the post office.  Now, I can sit with a tall-dark coffee listening to too-loud jazz music, watching people walk by with brightly colored umbrellas.  This is a nice oasis.

 

 

Photo credit:  m00by

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