Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Hello folks.

I'm in the midst of a driving tour vacation of Arizona.  (Note: it's hot here.  Like, 113 degrees hot.)

We've seen the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Page (AWESOME calm rafting trip down the Colorado River, Phoenix, and later today: Tucson.

I've eaten WAY too many cup-o-noodles and McDonald's, but also a fair number of KIND bars and apples.  Hampton Inn and Suites (3 of our nights are there) have a decent breakfast with nice fresh fruit.

I like when my vacations mix camping (cheap, quiet, lots of stars) with hotels (cooler, showers, gyms, and pools).

OH and I celebrated my 41st birthday with my boys while camping in the Grand Canyon.  Mather campground was the first place I ever camped as an adult, with my spouse, probably 12-13 years ago.  And?  It's still my favorite place to camp.  Shade, trees, good amount of space between campsites.

Off to take a shower and get ready to visit family in Tucson, where it's only 107.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cole Slaw and Black Bean Soup

I made up some black bean soup a couple of weeks ago when my spouse was traveling.  We ate quite a bit of it while he was gone, but did not finish it.  Then, I got sick.  And well, after it comes back up, it kinda sours you on it for awhile.  Into the freezer it went.

It's still good though.  It's a crockpot recipe from 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes.  These crockpot recipes aren't easy in the "dump everything in a pot" kind of way.  To get good flavor from vegetarian recipes, it helps to develop flavor by sauteing vegetables and "blooming" the spices.  Still, it only required chopping vegetables and sauteing them one night, and tossing everything in the pot the next day.  I used canned black beans (I am using a lot of shortcuts now that the spouse travels 2x a month).

I also made some cole slaw with leftover napa cabbage and carrots.  It needed more oomph than I gave it.  I added peanuts and a lime-rice vinegar dressing.  But I think fresh onion or garlic would have helped.  Or sesame.

Here's an estimate of the cost of the soup:  Since I followed the recipe to the letter, I won't be reproducing the amounts or instructions.

Black Bean Soup
canola oil: 0.05
onions: 0.50
celery: 0.10
carrots: 0.10
garlic: 0.10
thyme: 0.15
cumin seeds: 0.20
oregano: 0.15
black pepper
cayenne: 0.05
vegetable bouillon: 0.76
black beans: 1.38
tomato paste: 0.08
Total: $3.62 for about 12 cups, or $0.30 per cup.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Camping the Frugal Healthy Simple Way

We've just started to go camping in the last year with our son (now 5).  It's something that my husband did a lot of growing up.  Me, not so much.  Unless you count borrowing a tent and pitching it in the back yard, or driving to Presque Isle state park for a couple of nights.

The advantage to camping is that it can definitely save you money.  Campsites for tent campers can be anywhere from free to $40 a night (in my limited experience).  A lot cheaper than most hotels.  Now of course, amenities vary (some have no running water anywhere).

About half the time that we've gone camping, it's been at Joshua Tree with our GREAT neighbors, who have a camping van.  Having access to a fridge helps with the food issue, and allows you to have a more "normal" diet while camping.  If you are limited to a cooler, then eating good food while camping is something that takes practice, and knowledge of where you are staying.  Case in point: on our last Joshua Tree trip, I made oatmeal.  It was not very successful.  The people at the campsite next door made blueberry muffin bread on an open fire in a dutch oven. Which...seems a lot more advanced than my camping abilities.

We did take a cooler, which is about 20 years old.  Let me tell ya, it's starting to smell a little funky.  For our upcoming camping trip (Grand Canyon!) we bought a new cooler.  Turns out it's rated to keep the ice frozen for 3 days in 90 degree weather.  I guess there have been quite a few engineering advances in the last 20 years or so when it comes to cooler technology.

It is very possible to make delicious and healthy food while camping.  With a cooler and a grocery store, you can have fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, rice - a wide variety of healthy foods.  Of course, all of this takes prep and the ability to wash dishes - the ability to do this while tent camping will vary on where you are staying.  Some places have running water, some have "dish washing stations", others have nothing.

As a newbie camper, I've decided that on this next trip, we will be forsaking some of the "healthy" for the "simple".  I suppose as time goes on, I will get better at this.  I am aiming for things that can be eaten raw, heated on a fire, or cooked with just water. 

Here's a picture of a few of the things that I am taking on this trip.  Yeah, I know, the noodles have MSG.  I lecture coworkers on the evils of MSG.  But we're camping.  And we don't do that very often.  And they were only $0.33 each.  Lunches will be PB&J sandwiches (still need to buy bread).  Breakfast...nuts, granola bars, maybe some muffins.  Maybe I should bake some blueberry muffins before we go.  We are only camping for 2-3 days and staying in hotels for the other nights on this trip.  The advantage to the "just add water" meals, though, is that you can make them using the coffee pot in a hotel room.  Or using your hot pot.  Any way to save money on a vacation can only help.  Gas prices being what they are, I expect the gas alone to cost about $350 on this trip.

As far as fresh foods go, we've got carrots and apples - both are very tasty and they travel incredibly well.  I may take some oranges also.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My new shoes

Happy Mother's Day to me...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

B. R. A. T. (Y)

Haven't been posting much this week.  We've been eating black bean soup.  My spouse was on another business trip this week.  So, single parent, extraordinarily stressful week at work, and my boss just announced that he's quitting.  Greeeaaaat.  (that's sarcasm).  I don't know if it was stress, or food poisoning, or something else, but I spent some time yesterday morning praying to the porcelain god (first time in 4.5 years).  And most certainly stayed home from work.  And I think I'm done with the black bean soup for awhile.

Today, I am weak, and am on the BRAT (Y) diet.  Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.  With some yogurt.  Thus far, it's mostly bananas, applesauce, saltines, and gatorade.

On a plus note, I signed up for the Moms in Motion triathlon training team today.  Did NOT stay for the workout, but, yay me!  Lots of swimming and biking in my future.  Running or walking?  Time will tell.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Day in the Life

Not a lot of food this week.  We've been eating, but I haven't been taking too many pictures.  Last night was crock pot black bean soup...very good!

I was realizing something the other day.  I've always known that I'm the only female in my group at work (that's pretty obvious), but also I realized that I'm the only parent. 

That makes it difficult on occasion...less understanding. I think *most* of my coworkers are understanding, but sometimes I still get looks and comments.

So, a day in my life on Tuesday, after I left work.

Leave work at 4:35 pm.
Go to Fairview Gardens to pick up my veggies.
Go to pick up my son from school.
Go to the grocery store.
Go home.
Cook dinner.  (sauteed veggie hash and leftover pizza)
Put the veggies away.
Put the groceries away.
Eat dinner.
Do dinner dishes.
Make and pack my lunch.
Take out the compost.
Take out the recycling.
Start cooking for Weds night's dinner (chopping and sauteing veggies for the soup)
Put the soup veggies in the fridge.
Do the dishes from that.
Give my son a bath.
Brush/floss his teeth.
Read him a story.
Brush my teeth.
Pass out on my bed in exhaustion.

And the mornings are up, short workout, breakfast, breakfast dishes, get son dressed and fed, play, take him to school.

It's a far cry from olden days, when I may have been working 10 hours instead of 8, but I also could sit my butt down on the couch and have a beer and watch TV if I wanted.  Or go to the gym.  Or go for a walk.  Or read a book.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

1.2 pounds

If I'd followed the book exactly (i.e., if I'd had 8 hours a day to devote to cooking and exercise), I *could* have lost 4 to 10 pounds in 2 weeks, according to the book.

Ah well,  1.2 is better than zero!  I'll take it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sometimes it doesn't pay to get out of bed

Nothing went right at work today.
I didn't take enough food, so I ended up going and grabbing a burrito after eating my apple, banana, yogurt, pineapple, and salad and STILL being hungry.  Hungry Marcia = cranky Marcia.

And then I got home to a broken door and a broken computer.  Yep, my dead bolt is broken.  I can't even get the key in the lock.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bikini Bootcamp Roundup of Recipes

I won't know how much weight I lost until Monday.  Probably not much.  That's the thing about these plans.  You gotta follow them.  And PMS doesn't help.  Here's a round up of the recipes I've tried, and the ones I haven't gotten to yet. In case you are interested in testing out the book:

What I've tried:
Banana smoothie
Banana yogurt parfait
Blueberry smoothie
Huevos Mexicana
Mango yogurt parfait
Scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms

Amansala salad with ginger-sesame dressing - this is so so good, I've eaten it 5 times at least in 2 weeks
Chicken taco salad: good
Chopped vegetable and chickpea salad with citrus dressing: very filling and good
Spinach and chickpea salad with orange dressing: YUMMY
White bean and tuna salad: this was just okay.  Very filling though

Broccoli soup: very good and very easy to make
Carrot ginger soup: very easy and my absolute favorite so far
Mushroom spinach soup: delish.  Hubby doesn't like greens in soup
Tortilla-less tortilla soup: meh. Probably I made it wrong.  I heavily adjusted it.
White bean and roasted tomato soup: my hubby's and kid's favorite

Chicken fajitas: good, but they are fajitas.  Pretty basic
Chicken stir-fry over napa cabbage: yum!
Fish kebabs: I heavily edited this, but it was still yummy

I also made a fair number of dressings, marinades, and smoothies

What I haven't tried:
Asian chicken lettuce wraps with peanuts
Black bean salad
Couscous salad with mint, raisins, and almonds
Crunchy chicken salad with raisins and apples
Jicama, black bean, and avocado salad
Mango chicken salad
Soba noodle salad with chicken
Curried spinach salad with papaya and pumpkin seeds
Black bean soup
Butternut squash soup (it's not the season, and I have a good recipe already)
Cauliflower soup
Clear chicken soup with lime and avocado
Gazpacho (just not into cold soups)
Lentil soup
Sopa de lima
Spicy Mexican vegetable soup
Zucchini soup
Chicken curry with veggies on couscous
Chicken enchiladas
Fish tacos in lettuce wraps
Grilled fish with mango salsa
Grilled fish with radish and cucumber salad
Ginger shrimp with zucchini
Steamed fish over soba noodles
Steamed fish with tomatoes, peppers and onions
Vegetable fajitas
Any desserts

Therefore, I have many more recipes to try, when I get the energy.