Happiness is an Organized Freezer

I like organizing stuff. Yesterday as a nice rainy day activity, I took everything out of my standing freezer, cleaned the inside, and sorted the food into categories. I’m a former cataloger, this was easy. It was incredibly full of very healthy things, though some of them had gotten freezer burn or were older than seemed safe to try to eat. But it wasn’t organized and I had no idea what all was in there. Folks, I don’t need to buy meat for months. And now that I know what’s in there, and can find it, I’m looking at new recipes and ways to eat what I found.

This beautifully organized freezer has a divided bottom drawer with meat divided by type, with the oldest in the front so I’ll grab it first. On the right side we have way too many packages of ground beef in 1 lb packages from Sam’s. On the left we have way too many packs of Sam’s chicken thighs. In the middle are random miscellaneous beef such as beef tips, stew meat, and Italian sausage.

In the next drawer we now have frozen veggies on one side (apparently I got a great deal on Birds Eye Pearl Onions, which I love to add to stew but sometimes have trouble finding) and frozen fruit on the other side, heavy on cranberries and blueberries.

Up a shelf we have pre-packaged things such as frozen chicken cordon bleu that I forgot I had. And up one more we find frozen salmon and tilpia, with some portioned out single-serve containers of spaghetti pie and red beans and rice. On the top shelf is a basket with frozen pork tenderloins – I could eat one a week for the next 6 weeks! – and bread things.

And at eye level, organized in rows from front to back, are single-serve containers of things I cooked, frozen, and then sort of forgot were there because I couldn’t easily find them. We have rows of chicken teriyaki, stew, gazpacho, meat sauce, chili, and vegetable beef soup. I don’t have to cook anything for a long time.

On the door are bags of pecans from my yard, a few frozen dinners, and tall containers of chicken and dumplings, soup, stew, and chicken teriyaki. I obviously ran out of individual size containers – gee, I wonder why – so dumped several in one tall plastic container.

I’m feel organized, stocked, and virtuous for doing all of this. I know what’s there and know how to find it. The oldest package of pork tenderloin is defrosting for me to enjoy, and I have plans for a new recipe for Asian glazed chicken thighs in the air fryer, which I have but haven’t actually used yet. Progress. Oh and on the side, I stayed within my food plan yesterday and today. Stringing small beads together, one at a time, for however long it takes.

New Favorite Lunch

I like to eat a bigger meal at lunch time rather than dinner but don’t want to fix a MEAL, if you know what I mean. I like something hot that I can zap in the microwave and have ready to eat in minutes after I get home. Salads just don’t do it for me, at least not at lunch.

My new favorite lunch doesn’t really have a name, and is actually an old meal that I used to eat often back in my lapband days. I kind of forgot about it but found a can of organic refried black beans (have to be black beans, not regular refried beans) in my pantry and it all came back. Since I had all of the other ingredients in the fridge, I put them together and have been full and satisfied all afternoon.

4 oz. shredded chicken (great way to use leftovers)
1/2 C. refried black beans
1 oz shredded cheese (I use full-fat Mexican cheese blend)
1 tub Wholly Guacamole (because it’s portion controlled)

Layer the chicken, refried beans, and cheese in a low, flat microwave-safe container. Cook on high for 2 minutes. Top with guacamole and salsa to taste. Eat. Also tasty eaten with tortilla chips but they’re not at my house because they are too addictive.

Easy peasy and oh, so tasty! Tons of protein, fiber, and flavor. Nutrition values will vary depending on brands used. The only thing I don’t usually have around are refried beans and now that I remember how much I like this, that’s easy to fix.

Recipe: Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

This recipe originally came from somewhere but I’ve adapted it so much I have no idea where it started. It’s one of my favorites and I make it often. Nutrition counts will vary depending on some of your choices.

2.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed in large chunks
3/4 C. soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
1/3 C. rice vinegar (or cider vinegar)
3/4 C. loosely packed brown sugar (or 1/3 C.+2 Tb. Truvia brown sugar)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Spray crockpot with cooking spray. Add cubed chicken. Combine other ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook on High for 3 hours. Then:

1-2 green peppers, cut into large chunks
1 large onion, cut into large pieces
1 can pineapple chunks, drained
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
Up to 1/4 C. cornstarch
Cashew nuts (optional – I usually leave out to reduce calories)

Steam veggies with water in microwqve for 3 minutes; drain. Add pineapple, water chestnuts, and veggies to crockpot and stir. Add cashews if desired. Recover and cook on Low for one hour.

Remove some liquid from the pot and mix with cornstarch in separate bowl. I remove about 1/3C. of liquid to a measuring cup and use smalll whip to combine thoroughly until there are no umps. Pour into crockpot, stir, and heat until sauce thickenes. Start with a smaller amount of cornstarch to see how thick it get. If you want thicker, repeat step.

Serve over rice. I usually use 1/3 C. rice with 1 C. chicken. Makes 6-7 servings, depending on how many veggies you use. Freezes well.

Thanksgiving 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I spent the day home with the kitty, except for a little trip to Walmart to see if I could nab a fake Christmas tree before things go bananas tomorrow with the Black Friday shoppers.   I went to the dinky little store near my house, which is a really terrible store, and their selection was meh.  If I’m feeling up to it, I may go to the real store later this weekend – or else just be content with a 5′ fake tree I spotted at Home Depot.  I’m allergic to real trees, which is why I bother.

Last week I was able to add fish into my diet, and that went well – tho to be honest, the idea of actually cooking fish just to get a 2 oz serving wasn’t appealing, so I mostly just had tuna, which is soft and comes in little cans perfect for taking into the office.  I’m not in love with plain tuna, though, so looked forward to being able to add chicken this week.  For Thanksgiving I cooked a small chicken in the crockpot, yielding so much meat I wondered why I did a whole chicken instead of just a breast.  Oh well, lots to freeze for future meals.

So far my system is doing well.  It’s been 4 weeks today since my surgery and I had my first fill of 1.5 cc of saline into the lapband on Monday.  My next one will be just before Christmas.  So far I’m not noticeably less hungry but am still limited to 8 oz/day (tho I’m kind of stretching it a little bit).  Still, I’m taking in under 350 calories/day at this point and as soon as I’m healed up, I’m looking forward to having more variety.   Here’s the total change since April:

Last weekend I was up in Foxboro, MA, to visit my nephew who plays football with the New England Patriots.  He’s been on the practice squad for a month and his dad flew up for the weekend and went to the big game with him on Sunday.  It was great to see them again after almost a year, especially since the family will be in Texas for Thanksgiving without either of the New England contingent.

I’m looking forward to a low-key sleep-in long weekend.  I have no leftovers except chicken but am just as happy not to be in a carb-coma on the couch after eating too much food I didn’t really want or need.  My two weeks off post-op really spoiled me for lazy quiet days so I’m thrilled to have these now, and the promise of a long Christmas recess break in just a few weeks.

For now, hope your holiday was happy, your family and friends are healthy, and your weekend is relaxed.

Recipe: Crockpot Salsa Chicken

SparkRecipes is a wonderful site with recipes submitted by members with nutritional information for everything. It’s not Weight Watchers or any other plan but having the nutrition makes it easy to figure out points values (if that floats your boat) or other things to watch for such as lower fat, carbs, whatever.

One of the most popular recipes is for Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken, which I’ve been wanting to try for a while.  I made it today, with some variations suggested by some of the people who made comments.  It was awesome and will be added as a regular option.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (approximately 1 1/4 lbs)
1/3 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning (or regular if you can’t find the reduced sodium)
1 C. fresh salsa
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1/2 C. fat free sour cream

Spray crockpot with cooking spray.  Place chicken breasts in bottom and sprinkle with taco seasoning.  Pour salsa on top of that, followed by black beans and corn.  Top with cheddar cheese soup.  Leave in layers; do not mix.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Shred chicken with a fork.  Turn off heat and stir in FF sour cream.  Serve over rice.

Yield:  5 servings, approx. 2/3 C. each = 5 points  (rice not included)
Supposed to be even better as leftovers, which could be folded into tortillas or turned into a quesadilla.