Let’s talk about nutrition (and my lack of it)

Well, I mean I do eat.  Lots.  I’ve always been on the “see food, must eat it” diet my entire life.  Which worked when I was younger, made me chubby when I was older, and something I can “get away” with now since I’m on a bike a lot.  But as for having a good, nutritionally balanced diet?  That’s been a struggle… and something I feel I need to work on since I’m putting in hours training.

My biggest roadblocks to eating better are:

  • Laziness:  It’s just so easy to eat out, or microwave something weird and sketchy out of the freezer isle.
  • Lack of desire to cook:  My mom is an AMAZING cook and LOVES cooking.  She often laments about how I didn’t pick up on this trait from her.  It’s not that I’m a bad cook that burns houses down or ruins food, it’s just that I lack a desire to cook anything.  My cooking range is making spaghetti, a few crock pot soups, and a veggie/angel hair salad.  Oh, and mac n’ cheese and potatoes.  And instant rice.  yeah…
  • Work:  This is probably just a bad excuse, and really just falls into the laziness category.  I work night shift, and between 11pm-12am I wander down to the cafeteria, order me up a buffalo crispy chicken wrap, and then proceed to grab whatever else I can find while that’s cooking.  And then I seem to just eat to pass the slower morning hours.
  • Impulse eater:  See work cafeteria!  Ooo cake, oooo soup, oooo parfait, oooo candy, oooo everything in sight, must eat!
  • “Good” food goes bad:  Veggies and fruit start to rot if you don’t eat them.  A box of Cheese-Its does not.  Not that that is a problem, I’ll eat a box in two sittings…
My solution!

I decided to order me up some cookbooks for endurance athletes, and to try my luck.  I was looking for easy recipes, and stuff that I can cook and then refrigerate/freeze for meals for work (or just when I’m home) so I can avoid the cafeteria.  The cookbooks both talk about nutrition strategies and also ways to make cooking easier, such as cooking some foods ahead and freezing so they’re on hand.

I browsed the books and made a shopping list for some of the stuff I wanted to try right away.  It was the most stressful shopping trip I’ve made, LOL!

Yeah yeah, there’s Tombstone Pizzas in there. Coach T and I talked about nutrition, and he told me it’s about moderation and addition of healthy items, not necessarily elimination. What I probably need to work on is eating only half a Tombstone at a time instead of an entire one!

Once I hauled my bounty into the house I took to cooking 10 boneless chicken breasts for freezing.  I hit a good sale for $1.99/pound, which made them a whole lot cheaper than the pre-cooked/pre-frozen varieties you can buy.  I’m not the biggest fan of chicken; honestly, it grosses me out, especially uncooked.  Quick phone call to consult with my mom (help, I don’t know what I’m doing with my chicken!), and tips from Facebook friends (yay social media in times of crisis), I successfully ended up with 10 cooked chicken breasts flavored with various combos of spices (4 with Italian seasoning, 1 with Italian and red peppers, 1 with chili powder and then sliced, and 4 with salt/pepper).

Process: put on a baking sheet with foil.  Seasoned how preferred.  Filled baking sheet with about a 1/4″ of water.  Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.

Ready for the oven! Next time I plan on buying organic ones, because these “normal” ones are just way too big and unnatural.
All my chicken wrapped with plastic wrap and then foil in the freezer!
All my chicken wrapped with plastic wrap and then foil in the freezer!

I bought the ingredients to make some sweet potato & egg burritos that I plan on freezing for work and home, but then I fell asleep.  These past few days I’ve been exhausted, and sleeping only a few hours at a time (thank goodness it’s a recovery week on my training plan, so I haven’t been having to force myself onto the bike or skip any workouts), so the fact that I fell asleep at 3pm until 11pm wasn’t too strange.  So I took to cooking my planned dinner at 11:30pm since I figured I’d be up (I work the next 3 nights, so I need to sleep all day tomorrow anyway!).

I didn’t choose a recipe from the cookbooks, though it is similar to one found in Feed Zone Cookbook.  

Italian Orzo and Beef Stuffed Peppers  (from delish.com)
Serves 4
Total Time 35 minutes

4 large bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded (I used yellow ones as I’m not a fan of green)
Non stick spray
1/2 cup orzo pasta
8 ounces lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons each fennel seeds and oregano
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes with garlic
1/2 cup diced mozzarella (I subbed in grated cheddar and mozzarella)
Garnish with chopped basil

1. Heat broiler.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil.  Put peppers cut side down in pan; coat peppers with nonstick spray.
2.  Broil 12 minutes, turning once, until lightly charred and tender.  Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
3.  Meanwhile bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add orzo and cook as package directs; drain.
4.  While pasta cooks, coat a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray; heat over medium heat.  Add beef, onion, fennel seeds and oregano.  Cook 6 minutes, breaking up meat, until beef is browned and onions are tender.  Remove from heat.
5.  Add orzo, tomatoes with their juices, and mozzarella to skillet; toss to mix, then fill peppers.  Bake 5 minutes or until cheese melts.  Sprinkle with basil.

Broiled and "lightly charred" peppers!  Um, I'm pretty proud of this, as I've never broiled anything in my life!
Broiled and “lightly charred” peppers! Um, I’m pretty proud of this, as I’ve never broiled anything in my life!


Boiling the orzo (I vastly overestimated the size of pan needed) and cooking the hamburger with spices
Boiling the orzo (I vastly overestimated the size of pan needed) and cooking the hamburger with spices
I realized the orzo would fall through my normal strainers, so I used this across the sink one I have!
I realized the orzo would fall through my normal strainers, so I used this across the sink one I have!


Stuffing ingredients combined
Stuffing ingredients combined
I used this kind of diced tomatoes
I used this kind of diced tomatoes


Ready for baking!
Ready for baking!
Finished product!!
Finished product!!

My thoughts?  Yummy!  I’ve only had my mom’s Mexican-style variant of stuffed peppers, so this was a nice change.  And since I used yellow peppers, I actually ate the pepper, too!  One thing I would change for the next time I made them is using only 2 peppers since I am just cooking for myself.  Then I’ll have extra stuffing to go on the side.  I ate two halves, and then packaged up the rest in the fridge for my meals at work this weekend!

What I am struggling with right now is the portion size.  My brain feels like I didn’t eat nearly enough food, yet my stomach is satisfied.  At this moment I want to raid the brownies in the kitchen and scour the fridge.  So I do have baby carrots and snap peas on hand for moments like this, but I think it’ll be a process of mentally untraining myself from just eating tons and tons.

So we’ll see…

1 thought on “Let’s talk about nutrition (and my lack of it)”

  1. Yay, I’m so proud of you! The hardest parts of healthy eating are those moments of boredum, so it’s good you’re keeping baby carrots and the like on hand. Do you like guacamole? I found these little snack pack size ones in a 6 pack at Target an I eat them with carrots and they are really satisfying.


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