Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Blood Work and Other Recipes

So we're back in the real world where you have to go to work and you don't get to fly big airplanes or drink margaritas on a veranda every day at 4:00.

The real world kind of sucks.

It sucks more when your nanny gets stuck in Chicago coming home from Spring Break and can't pick up your kids and your husband's pool's electricity goes out on his first day of his busiest session ever (new swim school record! SO MANY people to contact to change plans!) so he can't do the grocery shopping. I had a splitting headache by the time I got home from work (stopping at our sweet friend's house who picked up both big kids for me) and rushed to get Claire ready for soccer (which another friend took her to) before picking up Cora and heading out to Costco and Trader Joe's to stock our fridge and pantry with food for the week. I don't know what James packed in the kids' lunches that morning, but it was not nutritionally balanced. I had planned to go to yoga that night after James got home, but he found me drinking a large glass of wine instead. That was my yoga.

On Tuesday I headed to an early doctor's appointment before work. It was supposed to be at 8:00, the first appointment of the day, but I wasn't seen until 8:55 which is SO annoying when there's no explanation or token apology or acknowledgement that you've been waiting for nearly an HOUR to see a doctor and then I had blood work after that required another 40 minutes of waiting. A 2-hour appointment all because I failed my glucose test as part of my routine blood work at my last OB/GYN check-up. I super failed it. Like when I googled my result the interwebs told me I had diabetes and should lose 10% of my body weight and introduce 30 minutes of exercise daily. I mean, I know I just turned 35, but it was not supposed to all fall apart this fast.

Obviously I freaked out and texted my nutritionist friend who told me glucose tests are finicky and to take it again before googling anything (too late; sorry Kelly). My OB told me to retake the test and follow-up with my general practitioner, so I did. I got the new result right before the trip and it was back down in the normal range (thus the allowable margarita drinking), skipping over the fairly wide "prediabetes" range yet again, but at least this time in the right direction? But it was still a high normal, which I did not like. It felt like I was getting a D on my test, so once again I texted my nutritionist friend. I needed to know: is this a test where any passing score is good? Or is a lower score better? Because I can study next time and take it again. I mean, I got a nearly perfect score on the SAT the first time I took it in high school and took it again because I wanted to know if I could fix what I missed (I could not; I got the exact same score, which annoys me to this day). She told me it was fine and then my GP told me I could get an A1C reading (3-month glucose average, which I think is an amazing thing for a simple blood draw to tell you) to reassure me, so I did that and it was my best score yet, and even though I suck at giving blood and my arm is all bruised because finding a vein is impossible, it did make me feel better. I do not like failing tests.

So that's my story of abnormal blood work. It leaves out a LOT of alarming google reading. Also my LDL cholesterol was on the high end of the normal range (and higher than it used to be) so I'm eyeing our menus to make sure we're getting enough fiber and adding more fish. My HDL number was high also, but that's the good one and my doctor said I got an A+ there, which balances the report card a bit. All in all, I love getting blood work results because it's a good check on various aspects of your health and it gives you lots of things to google which is an activity I enjoy greatly.

I also got back to yoga on Tuesday after a 10 day vacation hiatus. It was terrible and wonderful. My balance was shot all to hell and I nearly grunted the first time I pushed up into a high plank, a move I can usually do without any effort at all. It's always shocking how quickly you lose strength at something like, but luckily, it's also reassuring to know it comes back. You also get to be re-impressed with yourself for being able to do any of it because it's hard and you forget when you go every day.

I also did Orangetheory this morning for the first time in 2.5 months. It didn't bring me joy. I must say for as much as I still recommend OTF and think it's an excellent workout, I haven't missed it. I'm just in yoga mode right now. I want to listen to a soothing voice tell me I'm doing great and then verbally guide me to inner peace. I do not want to hear a pumped up voice yelling over music about upping my rowing RPM's. Both sets of instructors are awesome and doing exactly what they should be doing, I just only want one version right now. But I have 8 OTF classes to use up before my membership can be canceled and I will use them all because I hate wasting money even more than I currently hate rowing and running. But I'm power-walking them all. It's my subtle form of personal rebellion.

Moving on to food! That feels appropriately inappropriate to spend the rest of the post talking about. But it's the semi-healthy, hearty, homemade food and that really mostly dominates my life. I love and savor and greatly anticipate delicious restaurant meals, but I do not like lots of them in a row and by the end of any trip I'm always so sick of eating out and so ready for normal food again. I'm not even sure what normal food is... I just know I want it and I want it to come from my kitchen. We didn't even eat out that much on this trip (once a day? and several times that was a sandwich or salad to-go), but James and I were both giddy with anticipation at planning our next two weeks of meals on the drive home from Atlanta. And since this week's menu has a lot of recipes that are just "mine" - ones I've made so often they're memorized and/or tweaked so much they're no longer the recipes I started with, it seemed like a good opportunity to write them out. Because I use this blog to google my way back to my own recipes I've forgotten all the time.

First up, Lunches: Protein Egg Lentil Jars. I continue to love these so much. I don't usually add the quinoa, I just do all lentil because Trader Joe's sells pre-cooked ones in the refrigerated produce section and they're super easy dump in the mason jar. So portable, so yummy, sufficiently filling, and brightly colored. Everything I crave after a road trip.

my Tuesday, Thursday, Friday desk meal

And now dinners:

Monday: Mexican Rice

1 lb. ground beef (or turkey), browned with diced onion and garlic
1 small can tomato paste
1 regular can tomato sauce
1 can water (from tomato sauce can)
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
(1-2 tsp. sugar; I never add it, but it's in the original recipe)
1 cup cooked rice (I use the bags of frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's, microwaved just before adding to pot at the end.)

1. Brown beef with onion and garlic, drain fat.
2. Add rest of ingredients except rice, simmer for 20+ minutes (it's better the longer it goes).
3. Before serving, add 1 cup cooked rice, stir to heat through.
4. Top with shredded cheese, lettuce, diced tomato, sliced olives, avocado, etc. Fritos or tortilla chips on top are also a must.

(Meal unpictured, but Landon set the table and he turned all of our napkins into little dogs, complete with eyeballs from a nearby Sharpie and it was the cutest.)

Tuesday: Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches, leftover bags of baked chips from the car ride, bell pepper sticks and cucumber slices

Cooked, diced chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup pesto (homemade or prepared; the Kirkland brand pesto from Costco is amazing and I'll never make it from scratch again)
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced fresh mozzarella
Good rolls

1. Combine chicken, pesto, and yogurt (play with amounts until you get the mix you want; I like mine just wet enough to bind together, but not overly saucy). Refrigerate if not serving immediately.
2. Open roll, add pesto, then layer chicken salad, tomatoes, fresh mozz, and arugula. Wrap individually in foil.
3. Bake sandwich packets at 350 for 15-20 minutes until mozzarella gets melty and amazing.

Wednesday: Turkey & Vegetable Lettuce Wrap Stirfry

1 lb. ground turkey
minced garlic
1 onion, diced
1 can water chestnuts, drained then chopped (I buy the sliced ones and then chop up those, I find it's easier than chopping from whole)
2+ Tbl soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 Tbl rice vinegar
2+ tsp freshly grated ginger (it really is better fresh, but you can use powdered too)
Shredded cabbage (lots; to taste)
Shredded carrots (lots; to taste)
Other vegetables to taste (I like sliced up snow peas and broccoli; really whatever you have. If you're a mushroom person, I'm sure they would be delicious.)
Cooked rice or Trader Joe's frozen vegetable fried rice
(Sriracha optional)

1. Brown turkey with garlic and onions, drain fat.
2. Add wet ingredients and fresh ginger, cook 2-3 minutes until sauce melds into the turkey.
3. Add fresh vegetables and rice, stir fry 3-5 minutes until everything is warm and wonderful. Serve in bowls, topped with Sriracha if you're a spicy person.

(Forgot a picture until the end; the rest of us had inhaled ours, but Cora still had enough to capture in a photo. If you zoom in.)

Thursday: Balsamic Braised Chicken (I actually precisely follow the recipe here), mashed potatoes (from the refrigerated section at Costco; they are the BEST and I will never make them from scratch again because why), steamed broccoli.

Friday: Greek Farro Salad, Naan Pizzas (TJ's naan bread, drizzled with olive oil, then crumbled feta and shredded mozzarella and baked at 425 for 5-10 mins)

1 cup farro, cooked, drained and cooled (can also be quinoa, but farro is my new love)
1 pint (or more!) cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 English cucumber, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
1 purple onion, diced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 block feta cheese, chopped into chunks

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil (originally recipe called for 1/2; I like my dressing vinegary)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1. Whisk together dressing ingredients
2. Mix together all the rest of the ingredients, add dressing. Chill or eat immediately. Or both.

Saturday: Vegetable Lasagna, garlic bread. (I make it following this recipe exactly, except I double the carrot, add chopped broccoli, and skip the turkey... so almost exactly.)

And finally, as a gift for making it this far in a very scattered post, we had this potato salad at my aunt and uncle's house and it was AMAZING. Like many of the best recipes, it was copied from one of those compiled "send us your favorite recipe" church fundraiser cookbooks. I'm not a huge potato salad person (mostly because I don't really like mayo and I really hate mustard), but I loved this. I ate it in large quantities. Make it as soon as possible.

Maria's Zesty Potato Salad

4 large potatoes, cooked and diced
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup sliced radishes
1 tsp Accent
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbl yellow mustard
2 tsp vinegar (*my aunt uses Tarragon vinegar)
1 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. In a small bowl combine Accent, salt, mayo, mustard, vinegar, dill weed, and black pepper.
2. Prepare remaining ingredients and combine in large mixing bowl.
3. Add prepared "sauce" and mix thoroughly, being gentle with potatoes.
4. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

And finally FINALLY, I was cleaning out my desk before dinner (the stirfy takes about 12 minutes to make, one of it's finer features, so I had lots of time for organizing tonight) and I found a stack of pictures my grandma had mailed me a few weeks ago. Here I am, age 4-5ish, proudly holding my new golf bag. I'm not sure why I was so proud given that I never played golf and when I tried I was terrible at it, but who doesn't love a new accessory? Do I look like one of my children? I feel like I'm a little Cora-ish? Hard to tell without a tutu.


  1. Hi LL, Regular reader, infrequent commenter, love reading all of your posts and especially being inspired by your travels! I apologize for the totally unrelated and superficial question, but months ago you linked to an American Eagle sweatshirt that I coveted and now see is on sale again--can you tell me what size you bought? I find their stuff sized differently from women's clothing and have no clue what to buy. Sorry again for the random question. Thank you for your blog, I love it!

    1. Hi Susannah! I am happy to answer a random question! I wear a small in that sweatshirt. I originally ordered an XS (they are very oversized), but it was too short on me to look right over leggings (I’m 5’9”, 140). I preferred the volume of the XS but the length of the S was perfect. They’re super cozy and exactly what I was looking for this winter. Hope you snag one (or three!).

  2. You look like Cora for sure.

    I think I need to pin this entire post on my “food stuff” Pinterest board. Every mea sounds yummy, easy to name, and easy to make enough for a family of eight!

  3. Cora looks just like you and definitely has your smile

    Glad your recent blood work was ok!

  4. OMG I thought it was just me. I got a 32 on the ACT and took it again because I was sure I could get a perfect score (I got a 35 which was 3 questions wrong and the only reason I didn't take it again was that my parents refused to pay for it).

    1. Ha, yeah since I was already going to UT on a swimming scholarship, my test scores didn't even matter so my parents were definitely not paying for another try, but it still annoyed me. I didn't even study for it, so I don't know why I found it some bothersome, but someone getting the exact same score again made it worse. Like no, you didn't just make a careless error the first time, this is really how close you are.

  5. I just binged on all your vacation posts- what a great trip you had! My husband works for American Airlines (we also live in DFW area) so we rarely do car trips but it would be nice NOT to get on a plane now and then!

    Funny story about blood work/tests. I was looking over blood work results when I was pregnant with my first child. Everything was in normal range and at the end I saw "A+" I thought I TOTALLY aced my blood work...only to realize that was my blood type. LOL

    1. That made me laugh out loud... my blood type is A-, so I would have been less pleased, but it still would have been better than my first glucose result!

      (And my pilot uncle mentioned that his girls grew up seeing so much that was far away (since they could fly so easily/cheaply), that my kids have actually already been to my states than them. They've just been to WAY more countries :). That said, if we could fly cheaply for the five of us, we'd drive way less!!).

  6. Giiiiirl I actually thought that was a picture of Landon!

    1. I also see a lot of Landon in that picture ��

  7. I totally thought that was a vintage-filter picture of Cora!! SO cute!

  8. Thanks so much for the size information on the sweatshirt!! I am 4'9" ha so I am going to try the XS!