Random thoughts of an upbeat mind

Posts tagged ‘food’

No Spend Challenge

Towards the end of last year my spending on food was out of control. I used my busyness and tiredness as an excuse to eat out. I have reduced it somewhat in January but decided that a no spend challenge for the month of February might just be the thing to get me back on track.

For those of you new to the party, a no spend challenge is a period of time in which you abstain from non-essential spending. I tried a week and it was easy to defer purchases for 7 days. A month makes it more of a challenge. And for someone who socializes by eating out this is going to be a bit more difficult than I’d like it to be.


The plan is to cook enough on Sundays to carry me through most of the week. Last week I tried it out. I am in need of practice as I burnt myself and managed to make a big mess by spilling grease on the floor.

The food lasted longer than I intended as I ate out for lunch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesday, we had the last hurrah at lunch for me. We usually eat sushi every Friday and since Feb 1 was Friday we moved it to Wednesday. Thursday, I went out to lunch with a coworker who looks like he was at the end of his rope. Working at my company is not for the week. Friday was the sous chef’s last day. She makes the best fried chicken and I was not going to miss out, so since the menu is posted every Monday, I gave my coworker the price of the meal on Monday. So technically I did not spend on Friday. 😉

The roast and chili were the only items that were finished last week, so I froze the rest. I intended to cook pork chops, a one pot rice dish and soup but since I have so much food left over I only made the rice. I will bake the pork chops on Thursday and it should be enough to get me through the week.

I’m excited to be focused on getting my self together. I’m hoping that all these new habits take shape and stick.

A Small Win – Ribs Edition

I have been on the hunt for a good rib recipe and method of cooking the ribs.

Back in 2000 I went to spend some time with my Aunt in Arizona. While there she made these delicious ribs and I brought home a copy of the recipe. I wish I could tell you what recipe book it came out of but that memory is long gone.

The sauce for the recipe is very simple. BBQ sauce, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, onion powder and a bit of water. The ribs were baked on high without sauce for 20 minutes, then coated in sauce and baked at 350 for an hour.

In the past this produced ribs we were all happy with, but within the past 5(?) years this method has been less than desired. The ribs turned out tough. I am not a fan. My kids were even less. So they would leave them for me to eat … or the ribs would end up in the garbage. 😦

I heard cooking them in the slow cooker would yield tender fall off the bone ribs. So I put my ribs in the slow cooker with some BBQ sauce and hoped for the best. It was not a favourite.

On to the next method.

My Step-Mom boils her ribs before putting them on the BBQ. While I don’t have a BBQ I still tried this method but baking them in the oven after. I liked this way. I was the only one.

We had some success with this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats. I loved it, but Diva wasn’t feeling the seasoning and I wanted something simpler.

Recently I stumbled across this recipe from The Pioneer Woman. Cook in the slow cooker without sauce. I decided to broil them in the oven with sauce after to caramelize the sauce. To increase the chance of success, I used the BBQ sauce recipe from the ribs we used to like. AND I had Diva bake them. I find that involving Diva makes her feel like she “cooked” and therefore the food must be good. 😉

I made the ribs on Tuesday; they were gone by Thursday night! A success in my book.


On to the next task

So I think I am getting the fitness part of my life under control. I now need to focus some attention on my eating. Everyone tells me that weight loss is 80% what you eat. And while I am not eating “bad” food per say, I am eating a lot more than I probably need to.

To combat this I will get back to taking my lunch to work. By the time I eat, I am usually rather hungry and want ALL the food. The café at work provides lots of healthy options, which is what I stick to. But I tend to get a lot.

My meal planning has been slacking lately. It doesn’t help that my girls don’t tend to eat at home much anymore. Or when they are hungry they are more likely to order pizza than eat out of the fridge. I think if I cook, they will eat. So on the menu this week is pasta and meatballs and BBQ ribs, not diet friendly but family favourites. Also a modified tomato and cucumber salad. If all works well these should keep us fed for the majority of the week.

I still have to put some thought and energy into making smoothies. I know once I get the hang of it, I’ll be making them all the time. It is just to get started. If I was more on the ball, smoothies would definitely fix my what to have for breakfast questions every morning. If you have any good combinations, I’d love to hear about them.

Apparently I need more classes

Yesterday was workout class #5. So far it is going well. I am feeling stronger. Still have lots of work to do. Really need to figure out how to breathe when doing cardio. Right now it feels like my chest is going to explode. I know it will get better and the ladies I workout with are very encouraging.

Still haven’t taken my measurements so I can measure my progress. My clothes are still tight. I realized I need to change my lunch eating habits. The cafeteria serves us large portions and I used to eat it all. Small salad and soup included. O_o

Now I eat the soup and salad and half the entrée and pack the rest up for dinner. So far it is working very well. I hope to reap some rewards from paying attention to my eating.

I was feeling good until this morning when one of my coworkers asked me if I am pregnant …

Guess I will be joining the next session of exercise classes.

Tomorrow is back to T.O.

How is it almost time to go home already???

Time has been flying and I can’t say we have done anything particularly remarkable.

There has been shopping. Lots of shopping. There has also been returning as some of the clothing I bought did not work. I was looking for workout pants and so far no luck.

I had hoped to get on contact with my cousin’s daughter and visit with her today, but she is not responding to my messages.

It is currently 1:45pm and my girls are still sleeping … so maybe it’s all for the best.

My Aunt has a few errands to run that I may tag along for. Other than that I plan to relax and possibly go to Smashburger for dinner. We went there the last time we were in Maryland and Diva enjoyed it and requested to go again.





I have joined the zoodles cult bandwagon.

I was wandering through Winners when I came across this little spiralizer and figured it was $3. What’s the worst that could happen?


It’s like a pencil sharpener for vegetables! LOL

hand held spiralizer

Last night I finally took it out of the packaging, washed it and tried it out. I used a whole zucchini which I then sautéed in oil with some salt and pepper. I also browned some ground beef with fresh and frozen vegetables.

I put the zucchini in my bowl first like spaghetti. Added the meat and some hot sauce and was in heaven.

I enjoyed it so much that I sautéed a second zucchini to take to work for lunch today.

My only complaint is cleaning this thing is a pain.

I have carrots as well, which I will be trying out later this week.

Not bad for $3. 🙂


July No Spend Update #1

So far it has not been a no spend month but a low spend. I am still under budget but there has been unnecessary spending.

Yesterday I paid for treats from McDonald’s for myself and 2 co-workers. It was the least I could do considering one of them frequently buys treats for the office and the other gave me a t-shirt and a bowl.

While in Niagara, I got caught up and bought a some souvenirs. Nothing extravagant, a couple of zipper pulls with my girls’ name on them and a fridge magnet. But not needed at all.

Today found me in the grocery store. I went to buy a bag of rice. I left with the rice and ice cream drumsticks (3 boxes as we all eat different flavours and they were on sale) and produce.

 Caramel for me.  Cookies & Cream for Princess. Plain vanilla for Diva.

There have also been some cheap lunches out. 2 occasions, less than $10 total but still.

On the plus side, I declined to go out with my BFF on Saturday as luckily she found someone else to go out with. I also declined a comedy show tonight.

I will get it together for the second half of the month.

Red Pea Soup

My no spend is not off to the best start as I have already been to the grocery store and then had to go back. My intention was not to stock up but to be more mindful of my spending.

Yesterday I went to get some lettuce and salt fish and came out with more produce and some salsa (not on my list). Under $18 spent but I didn’t check my grocery list and neglected to buy a red pepper and potatoes for my beef soup. 😦 Returned to the store spent an additional $8.50 all due to not paying attention. Not sure why I make lists that I neglect to check but you live and learn.

This is what is called Red Pea Soup. It is a Sunday regular in many Jamaican households.


The recipe varies slightly depending on whose house you are in. But it is basically

  • Kidney beans (called red peas in Jamaica)
  • Salt beef
  • Beef ribs (missing from the above pot)
  • Green pepper
  • Red pepper
  • Potato
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Scotch bonnet pepper

The above is what my recipe looks like. Very few people in my family, or friends for that matter, measure anything. Makes for never the same pot twice. 🙂

I had a bowl of the soup, but it felt like it was missing something so I added barley. We’ll see how that turns out.

Princess liked it so I should have some help finishing off this big pot. My mom is coming over to help me tame my plants so I’ll be offering her some soup as well.

I impressed myself


So I started a cleanse last week and then cursed myself as it meant I would miss both Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day celebrations.

But then I remembered this recipe I have been lusting after, Homemade Burrito Bowls from Iowa Girl Eats. Well I didn’t get it together in time for May 5th or Mother’s Day but it was made and it was lovely.

When I buy meat, I separate it out into cooking portions and vacuum seal it with the help of Diva. I gave her the task of labeling all the packages. She’s gotten a little lazy and now only writes chicken as opposed to chicken thighs or legs.

Anyhoo, I took out what I thought were chicken breasts, only to learn they were boneless, skinless thighs. So I got creative and sliced them, coated them in the seasoning and then sautéed them with onions and green peppers. I was trying to sneak veggies into my kids plate. It worked! 😉

Badda Bing Badda Boom!!


Topped my plate with some store bought guacamole and I was in heaven. Both of my girls were also impressed. I may never eat Mexican in a restaurant again. It was very easy to make and very tasty. I could have used a little more pepper but other than that perfection. I highly recommended this recipe. I can’t wait until I am off my cleanse so I can add cheese, jalapeños and sour cream to this mix.

A great day

I set my alarm for 6:15 am every morning. And every day until today I have pressed snooze, rolled over and gone back to sleep until at least 7.

This morning I told myself you might as well get up as I was not feeling tired. So I went to work out which is what I am supposed to be doing first thing in the morning.

It felt really great to get that monkey off my back. And it is a good thing too as I left work late, then went to pick up Princess from her job interview. She treated me to ice cream since she GOT THE JOB!! WHOO HOO!! We then went to buy printer ink from Staples which was right beside the nail salon that Diva was in. So we picked her up as well.

I went home, changed out of my work clothes and then we went out to dinner with a friend of mine. The meal was nothing to write home about, but it was nice to sit around a table and catch up.

I didn’t get back home until after 9 and I am beat but still smiling as I have leftovers from last night’s dinner to take to work tomorrow for lunch. 🙂 I made stir fry beef using this great recipe from Budget Bytes. It was so good. I didn’t have any rice noodles so I just made rice.

Okay, I need to get into bed so I can wake up and work out again tomorrow. 🙂

Oh wait, I forgot to mention my new work BFF talked to our old department head and she told her that I am learning quickly and she’s impressed with me. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Best news!