Happy Monday. My parents and little brother came for the weekend and we had an awesome time. We did fairly well at not over-eating, but there were definitely more desserts than normal, and I allowed myself to splurge with them. Below is a pictorial recap.
Friday night, my husband cooked an awesome dinner for everyone – BBQ burgers (I skipped), roasted red potatoes, and green peas. It was delicious. I took care of dessert, which was strawberry shortcake made from sugar-free / fat-free angel food cake, fresh strawberries, and light whipped cream. We use a lot of sugar-free cakes when making healthy desserts because they are so versatile. This one was a pre-made one from Kroger, but Pillsbury also has a sugar-free yellow cake and chocolate cake that are really good.
We started Saturday with a big breakfast of omelets, toast, and fruit smoothies made from Bolthouse Farms smoothie mix – Green Goodness (kiwi apple) and C-Boost (mango). Just blend with ice and they’re ready! I added a frozen banana to the green mixture, and coconut to the mango. Delicious, and healthy, but high in natural sugar, so stick to a small glass. I also created an omelet bar so we could build our own omelets and please both the meatitarians and vegetarians alike.
We spent the morning at the Dogwood Arts Festival in downtown Knoxville, with lunch at our favorite little cafe (Cafe’ 4), followed by gelato and cannolis at Coolato Gellato. I fell in love with gelato during a 2-week trip to Italy in 2006, and finally there are gelato stores popping up in the U.S. The main difference between gelato and ice cream is the lower butter-fat content in gelato (it’s more milk than cream), and the different form of processing that makes it more airy and light. My favorite flavors are pistachio and chocolate hazelnut. After lunch, we drove up to Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains and got to see wild horses and a bear! My crazy 16-year-old brother decided to try and cross a rushing stream. Thankfully he made it across and back safely, although falling in would have made a great Facebook picture for him.
Saturday night we had dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s newest restaurant – Marlin & Rays (seafood). I managed to limit myself to 2 small jalapeno cheddar muffins, 2 onion rings, and a small salad, all before the main course arrived, despite the fact that I was quite hungry by that point. For dinner, I chose the Blackened Mango Tilapia (one of their best sellers) with sautéed zucchini. It was delicious, but I only ate half since we were saving room for some delicious Key Lime Pie! My brother selected the enormous fried seafood platter (below) and assured us that he would eat all of it. Turns out he couldn’t even finish half, which he claims is because he had so many muffins.
Later that night we played cards for hours and stayed up much later than my usual 9pm bedtime. Sunday was church and lunch at our usual spot – Salsarita’s and Froyoz. I managed to stick to a single veggie soft-taco for lunch, but probably went a little over-board with my large frozen yogurt in a waffle bowl.
So that was our weekend. After everyone had left, I went back to my usual Sunday afternoon routine – prepping food for the upcoming work week. This weekend was unique in that we had so many leftovers remaining in the fridge. I happen to love leftovers and make it my mission to mix them up for creative meals. Plus, you can save so much money by stretching your restaurant leftovers into several more meals! Here’s what I had to work with:
- 1/2 chicken sandwich
- 1/2 cheeseburger
- Roasted potatoes
- 6 Hamburger buns
- 1.5 chicken breasts
- Large bowl of fried tilapia sticks, shrimp, and calamari
- 1/2 tilapia with mango salsa
- Small cole slaw
- 1/2 avocado
- Open bag of pastrami
- Chopped strawberries
The first 3 were easy – we polished them off for dinner last night. As for the rest, I chopped the chicken and mixed it with some light Miracle Whip and tarragon for chicken salad. I used 4 of the leftover hamburger buns + some smoked gouda cheese (from last weeks’ dairy tour) to make 4 chicken salad sandwiches. I combined the remaining 2 buns and pastrami for 2 more lunch sandwiches for my husband. Next I made a single serving of rice and topped it with the tilapia and mango salsa for a quick lunch or dinner option. The fried seafood, cole slaw, and avocado I will combine to make several dinner wraps. The chopped strawberries I split into two containers for breakfast (with toast and milk) and a snack (with granola bar). And that’s it! Now I have 3-4 days of food already prepared, and I didn’t have to buy anything extra. What are some of your leftover ideas?
Creating the above leftover meals definitely ties into the new theme of Cinch on a Budget. All of these meals will follow my 7am – 11am – 3pm – 7pm meal schedule, and I will be sure that each includes Produce, Protein, Whole Grain, and Plant-Based Fat. I’ll post much more about this later in the week.