(Photo by Santa Pile on Unsplash)

Welcome to this week’s meal plan (with a few cooking specifics in reference.)

Mother’s Day special meal – Grilled Lemon, Garlic & Rosemary Salmon, Sweet Potatoes, Lemon Asparagus, & Parsley, Onion, & Garlic Cannellini Beans (Picture by Charlie)

Meal Plan – Week #11

Meals: (1) Mexican Black Bean Taco Salad with Fresh Salsa / (2) Thyme and Balsamic Vinegar Chicken Salad with Romaine Cups / (3) Italian Pasta Sauce with Ground Turkey On Sweet Potato Noodles / (4) Rosemary and Sage Roasted Pork with Cauliflower Potatoes and Garlic Green Beans

Snacks: Chopped Veggies (for dipping) / Balsamic Herb Dipping Sauce / Egg Whites / Naked Popcorn / Blueberries & Strawberries / Almond Butter / Salsa

(1) Charlie requested uncooked beans this week, so Jamie rehydrated spices — Oregano, Cilantro, and Epazote (a popular herb for beans in Mexican cooking), and added them to the rinsed beans on a standard mixed green salad with Veggies. Salsa is handmade using a variety of tomatoes (gutted and sieved of excess juice) for flavor and consistency, with red and green onion, garlic, cilantro, lime zest and juice, deseeded jalapenos (to taste), sweet peppers, a dash of salt and orange juice (for sweetness if tomatoes not in-season ripe.) / (2) Crockpotted chicken with herbs and vinegar. Rested until cool and chopped, then added dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, dill, marjoram, celery, and olive oil (in lieu of mayo.) / (3) Onions, celery, sweet peppers, carrots, leeks, and tomatoes with oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, and basil sauce, cooked down for 6 hours / (4) Seared the meat in castiron, next added sage, and rosemary, with a bed of chopped onions underneath, balsamic vinegar on top. Finally, added chopped garlic and sent to oven to finish cooking. Cauliflower goes from “riced” to “potatoes” by blitzing longer with a bit of water, then removing and cooking in pan with olive oil and garlic or onion (cooked or powered) for flavor.

According to last week’s check-in, Charlie’s follow-up doctor appointment is set for 6/20, with a lab review meeting on 6/27. So, week 17 will be the end of the first phase of this experimental mission, with our new challenge (and mission amendments) served up on week 18.

…With the obvious shift in weight and giant steps in progress Charlie has been making, we hope the numbers wow the Doc enough to bring in a few allowances. You know, like opening up the food limitations a bit with an “occasional” tagline for things like “limited grains” and “corn.”

…This makes my complaining about no junk food or snacking between meals seem a bit tone-deaf, but the first week towing my own nutritional line did lead to a few “hanger” moments, and 3.2 lbs lost.

I have learned this week that, sadly, at my time in life, gin needs more than fizzy water and salad in my guts to absorb its impact. I dunno what is more upsetting, that I downsized from whiskey to gin, thinking it would have enough buffer with the salad dinner, or that my once-iron stomach grouched at 3 shots worth of gin with a 6 cup-of-water chaser…and I was still not satisfied.

Who AM I anymore, even?!!?

…This reminds me of people who buy “skinny” margaritas and diet colas to save themselves the calories…which I have always hated the concept of. If you want the thing, get the real thing. Halfway getting it isn’t going to satisfy you. It’s a cheat with a cruddy replacement. Not that gin is cruddy, it’s lovely, but when you’re hangry all week and get to Friday and just wanna damn drink of whiskey…pro’lly just drink the damn whiskey. Then you won’t need 3 gins to pretend they are one.

(End of philosophical diatribe.)

In other Accidental Nutritionist team news this week — Jamie’s neck has been slowly seizing up tighter for days, and we can’t figure out why. A full day of grilling meats and a special Mother’s Day dinner on Sunday pretty much did her in. By Monday, she was on Bengay muscle patches, Epson Salt baths, and that shiatzu machine that bruises your entire upper back up with its epic and merciless kneading action.

…By Tuesday, although she had regained range of motion, whenever she shrugged her shoulders it sounded like a grinding peppermill. Which lasted through Thursday.

…She’s been burying her frustrations in episodes of Madam Secretary while being ticked off about being tied to a kneading machine, ice packs, and a heating pad on constant shift, so she can only do about 230 of the 300 things on her to-do list this week. (Including her 3 other side gigs like her gift blog, Accidental Nutritionist weekly article, and you know…a whole week of meals yet to be cooked.)

…Meanwhile, 20 minutes after eating one of the weirdest thrown-together combo-meals I’ve built in quite a while (the 1/2 cup of this, small clump of that kind of left-over orphans that seem to always live in the fridge), my tummy is like, “See, THIS is why you shouldn’t be allowed to feed yourself anymore. This. Right. Here.”

…Basically, everyone in this house could use some mood-enhancing sunshine, and a nap.

…Except Jane (our Campbell Dwarf Hampster), who also wants a clean cage.

(Jane – our Accidental Nutritionist team mascot)

…I will pay you a thousand dollars if you do it.