Confessions: Non-Usher Style

Last week, I went on a diet hiatus.  I basically ate like I only had that week to live and my body seriously hated me for it.  Not to mention, now my body is too ashamed to go back to the gym.  I haven’t been since last Monday! Just the thought of making the effort to go tonight made me cringe.  I couldn’t even say the words out loud.  THAT, people, is what happens when you go on a health and fitness hiatus.

So today, I took the first step towards recovery.  I knew that if I started eating well again (although, let’s be honest, how many of us go a week off the wagon? At least it was only a week this time…), my body would start communicating with my head again and things would go uphill.  Today, I started out with my standard breakfast:

1/4 cup of egg whites (and you know it was an off morning because I forgot to spray the pan and totally scorched the heck out of the “crust”)
2 Bob Evans brand turkey sausage patties (I have vowed to try every single brand to see which is the tastiest yet least salty)
1 small Publix deli sandwich bun (normally I do a whole wheat English muffin or some Ezekiel bread, but in my hanger yesterday at the grocery store, I grabbed a bag of these and they whispered all sultry-like to me in my sleep deprivation)

All with a massive cup of coffee sprinkled with soy milk.

Around my third batch of students, 10:45ish, my tummy reminded me that it had been a few hours, so I re-energized with a piece of string cheese — yum yum! I know I’m technically avoiding dairy due to Ultra fit and because I’m hella lactose intolerant/allergic/all kinds of poorly matched with dairy, but I’ve found string cheese to just be the smidgeon of dairy, salt, and protein I need around that time of the day.

For lunch, I did a poor job of packing deliciousness.  I brought what I thought was a roasted piece of chicken breast, but it turned out to be a fatty fatty piece of chicken thigh.  I muddled my way through some of the meat, but ultimately paid more attention to my tiny 2 ounces (no joke) of mashed potatoes and a decent amount of green beans.  Truly and honestly, these were take-out leftovers, so neither tasty nor clean eats. I paid dearly because I was le starving soon thereafter.

Fortunately, I brought some TJ’s turkey meatballs (3 to be exact) that I microwaved and chomped on while I waited for my after-school girls to come in. (With another cup of black coffee because, let’s be honest, this daylight savings crap is for the birds.)

Even with the meatball snack, though, my lunch was so unsatisfactory that by the time I got home around 5:30, I was ravished and inhaled a plate of leftover spaghetti with meat sauce.  Not my most shining moment.

This did, however, help my hanger calm down enough to do a little food preppin’.  I made The Fitnessista’s kale caesar salad dressing and massaged it into Trader Joe’s “cruciferous crunch” mix and holy canoodle, it was delicious.  I packed up two lunches worth with three meatballs a piece and a separate little bit of roasted sweet potatoes for each.  I also put some chicken tenderloins to marinade with some garlic, lime juice, and various spices, and I made up a huge batch of beef vegetable soup.  For the beef veggie soup, I just find the leanest ground beef I can (or ground london broil) and I toss it with a bag of frozen stew vegetables (okra, tomatoes, zucchini, lima beans, and tiny white potatoes.. maybe a few others but I can’t discern them) and some salt-free chicken broth and a few spices.  I packed two days’ worth of that up, too.  It feels good to have a little meal prep done because it leaves a lot less room for effin’ up.

I didn’t really eat a legit dinner, but I heated up two more meatballs and ate a hefty dose of the kale caesar salad.

Oops, I also forgot to mention the half ice cream sandwich I sucked down shortly after the spaghetti.  I must have still been suffering PTSD from the hanger.  I was actually pissed because it was from the gas station (I know, I’m completely trashy) and it had clearly been there for a decade or two, so I threw away half of it because it tasted entirely of frostbitten grossness.  Probably for the better.  It was divine intervention for my ice cream sandwich addiction.

In non-food news, I finally called a tow truck to come get my sister’s sad little car that’s been sitting in our driveway since Christmas because it’s a 91 Honda Civic and it’s been gradually dying since its hot clubbin’ days in Miami.  We’ve been letting my sister borrow my hub’s car, but it’s getting to be a real pain in the bum bum so we finally got took a sec to send it off to the car hospital. It felt gooood to pull all the way into my driveway.

Also, remember how I’m under formal evaluation by the state department of education cause that’s the silly little thing South Carolina does to second-year teachers? Well, I’ve been observed the max six times now and I’ve received 5 of the 6 evaluations, all positive.  I hope the last comes in as positive and shiny as the others and that when it comes to the consensus meeting (the end-all meeting), there are no surprises.

Now, I am curled up on the couch with a puppy around my shoulders (she likes to do this, like she’s some kind of mink) and Criminal Minds on the tv.  I can’t believe it’s already 9PM.  Where did my day go!?!


Summer Veggies

Confession time:

The list of vegetables I like is pretty short.  More specifically, the list of non-starchy vegetables I like is very short.

I was born in the Dominican Republic and raised pretty much in the South where our vegetables include stewed beans, plantains (fried, of course), potatoes, potatoes with cheese, fried potatoes with cheese, and corn swimming in butter.

That’s what I’m talking about, right? 😉

Unfortunately, my waistline, cholesterol level, and little ticker can’t handle a constant supply of those kinds of “vegetables”, as much as I may love the $5 plate at the Cracker Barrel.

Don’t get me started on the dumplings.

For clean and healthy eating, I am a firm believer in the theory of the “nutritionist’s plate”.  I don’t know if that’s what it’s really called, but that’s what I call it in my head.  All nutritionists that I have seen throughout my life have told me that the rule of thumb for a properly fixed plate is to divide it into 1/2 non-starchy vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 good carbs.  Obviously, throwing in a tiny bit of dairy and a good helping of fruit never hurts, either.

Therefore, when I plan out our weekly meals, you’ll notice that I always include those three.  As an example, I’ll give you the run-down of our latest and greatest pasta concoction, Summer Squash & Zucchini with Sausage.

Very rarely in the wee Rader household do we have pig products (except for bacon, of course, hello) like sausage and pork, but on occasion, we will indulge for some added flavor and fat.  Turkey sausage and chicken sausage, however, are excellent substitutes with less fat and just as much flavor.

Brown up about a pound and a half of your favorite spiced sausage (not necessarily spicy, just not plain).  It doesn’t have to be fully cooked at this point because it will be cut up and go back in the pan.

Yummmm.  Once they’re ready, take them out and cut them up into about 1/4 of an inch slices.

While those are cooking, slice and chop up about half a cup of onion, two small zucchini, and one small yellow squash.

Throw everything back in your big skillet for about two minutes… let everyone get to know each other…

And then add a can of stewed tomatoes.

If you have some favorite Italian seasoning mix or a few pinches of basil and oregano, throw that in now.  Reduce the heat to simmer and cover for about 10-15 minutes until the sausage is cooked all the way through and the veggies are tender (to your liking, of course).

We served ours over whole wheat rotini, but it’s great by itself with a slice of crusty bread or on top of a bed of brown rice.

Full recipe:

1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage links
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow squash, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, with liquid


  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the Italian sausage until the inside is no longer pink. Cut sausage into 1/4 inch slices, and continue cooking until browned.
  2. Stir in the zucchini, yellow squash, and onion; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, with liquid. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Enjoy your summer!

Lemon Garlic Tuna Burgers

Before I start to indulge you guys with my very slightly tweaked version of these delicious tuna burgers, let me just tell you that someone found my blog by searching:

“Looks like butt cheeks”


Should I be concerned? Baha!

Anyhow, last night the bearded one worked late so my sister and I whipped up these burgers and sat down to a few episodes of Criminal Minds.  We party hard, I know.

The closest thing I can compare these to in good ole’ southern terms would be salmon patties.  Now, I once made a batch of salmon patties and they were pretty much the most awful tasting things I ever put in my mouth.  And I’m not a bad cook, I promise.  The canned salmon just made me cringe.

On the other hand, I am a tuna lover.  Of all kinds.  I can open up a can of tuna and eat it straight up, maybe with a few crackers on the side. Add lemon, parsley, and green onions (my three favorite things ever) and you’ve pretty much won my heart.

Not to mention those giant chunks of garlic.

To be quite honest, I’d never used panko before.  Not that I’m averse to them or anything, I had just never thought to use it in lieu of regular breadcrumbs.  They’re great, just like an extra crispy version of the original stuff.  Now, I might just go and do something crazy like dip my pickles in them. You’ll see what I mean later.

Just take your tuna and break it up as much as you’d like.  You can process it to get a very mushy, bean-burger-like consistency, or leave it a little flakier for more chunk-a-lunk.

A little parsley… about three tablespoons.

A little bit less than a 1/3 of a cup of the panko breadcrumbs.

Seriously, I could put green onions in just about anything.  Eggs, pasta, salads, burgers… they kind of have a sweet crispness to them.

The juice of half a lemon… put the other in your seltzer water, or in a handy-dandy lemon holder! I got one in my stocking at Christmas last year and it is the cutest little thing.

All together now!

Throw in your egg and three tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt, mix up, and form into four (very wet!) patties and bake for twenty minutes at 400 degrees.

We baked up some sweet potato fries to eat on the side and served the burgers on whole wheat English muffins with a tomato slice and some spinach.

And coming from a girl who is anti-leftovers, these taste just as great out of the toaster oven or microwave the next day.


Lemon Garlic Tuna Burgers
(adapted from Andie’s, here)

2 5oz cans of tuna
2 garlic cloves, chopped up
3 tablespoons of parsley (more if ya like 😉
1/4 of a cup of green onions
1 egg
3 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt
1/3 of a cup of panko breadcrumbs (a little less)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Mix all ingredients together and bake on a greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

If you’ve got it on hand, a few tablespoons of cottage cheese make for a fatter, tangier burger, too.

Upcoming Eats & Grocery List

Hello hello!

What am I spending my Saturday night doing? Oh, you know… eating BBQ pizza, watching Get Him to the Greek with my bearded man, and writing out this week’s eats for y’all!

Since it’s Saturday, I’ll go from Sunday to Sunday for you…

Sunday: Lemon Garlic Tuna Burgers + Sweet potato fries

Holy yum, y’all.  I stole this recipe from Andie and tweaked it a bit since I was low on a few of the ingredients.  I will try to post my version with some photos this week. They are amazing on whole wheat English muffins or by themselves.  Also, we couldn’t find any satisfactory sweet potatoes for roasting, so we bought the frozen kind (just as delicious and healthy, promise).

Monday: Eggplant Parmesan

A non-fried version of the Italian classic… The mister and I are going to give eggplant a chance and we figured this has to be a fool-proof way of enjoying a veggie we have shunned for far too long.

Tuesday: Grilled Fish Tacos with Corn & Jicama Salsa

Let’s just talk about how much I love fish tacos… and corn tortillas… and corn salsa.  All great things.  If you haven’t given jicama a chance, you need to get yourself to the nearest produce section and give it a whirl.

Wednesday: Turkey Robinson + Brown rice

What y’all might not know is that Claire Robinson is my favorite Food Network personality.  I race home from work to get home in time to catch her show at 5:30 every day and I drool over all of her dishes and her deliciously fresh ingredients.  This is a mix of all things I love (beans, spinach, turkey), full of protein and vitamins.

Thursday: Penne with white wine & shrimp

We’re getting a little creative with our pasta dishes over here in the Rader household.  Whole wheat penne is our current favorite and mixing it with a little olive oil, onions, white wine, and shrimp helps to keep it tasty and light.

Friday: Baked salmon + roasted fingerling potatoes + green beans

This is hands down the best salmon recipe I’ve ever made.  Don’t let the calorie content scare you, that’s for the entire sum of the marinade.  I would eat the entire batch if I could.

Saturday: Wild card!

I’ve decided that this Saturday, I’m going to peruse the markets and see what inspires me that day… I often find myself lusting after Earth Fare’s handmade ravioli when I’m there, but never think to put it on my menu.  So, if I find a lust-worthy treat that morning, it will be our dinner that night.

Sunday: Braised balsamic chicken + brown rice + mixed greens salad

I looove braised meats.  And I love balsamic vinegar.  And diced tomatoes.  Needless to say, this intrigued me and we’re hoping for the best!

As for my grocery list:

Green onions (pretty much a staple in this house)
1 Can of corn
Corn tortillas
1 red onion
1 jicama
1 red bell pepper
2 Limes
2 Lemons
Plain greek yogurt (used as a sub for sour cream)
Tilapia fillets
Chicken breasts
3 cans of diced tomatoes
Salad greens
3 eggplants
White wine (Umm, where’d it all go?)
1 lb. shrimp
Whole wheat penne
Frozen green beans
Sweet potato fries
2 cans of tuna fish
1 lb. ground turkey
1 can of cannellini beans
Popcorn (excellent low-fat, low-calorie snack)
Bananas (another staple)

I have to go in search of the red onion and jicama tomorrow, but aside from those our total was around $48.00.  That’s what’s up, y’all.

Stay tuned! I have a lot of great posts planned for this week (Ever wanted to learn how to make your own soft pretzel rolls? Need an easy stir-fry recipe? What about the best friggin’ turkey burger this side of the Mississippi?)

Happy cooking!