Acheivable Goals.

At the end of the first month of the Year After Dan, I am realizing why spreading goals out month by month was important. Because it is impossible to multitask on things that aren’t routine.

Like flossing. Flossing was on my list of improvements to personal hygiene for the month. I wanted to try out it out and I have only gotten so far as buying those cute floss-picks. Also on that list, the electric toothbrush that is still in it’s packaging because it is so much easier to just use the tooth brush already in the bathroom when it is 7 AM in the morning and I don’t know how to roll out of bed.

other problems:

sleeping. I can’t seem to get to bed by 10 PM. ever. like the closest I got was 10:37 on a holiday and then my roommates had a small kitchen party when they all came home at 11 PM. PLUS I’m 0/5 for trying to get to the gym before work. (One of February’s goals, more on this later…) The snooze button is my enemy, but I always justify it in the morning because I want 8 hours of sleep. So we are trying something new. A alarm. a 9:45 PM, time to go to bed alarm.

and drinking water?

It is really tough. I’d say I’m achieving this goal at about 50%, either drinking 1.5/3 liters or drinking 3 liters about half the time. I have a pint-sized wide-mouth mason jar at work I can refill about 2-3 times a day, the difficulty is remembering at night.

so what was achieved so far?

I kept to my make-your-meals plan. And it was difficult. We are talking grapefruits and bananas and granola bars for lunch. Making lunch salads and cooking dinners in addition to breakfasts uses too much time. Luckily the oatmeal is so filling that the fruit and granola lunches are perfect.

  • week 2: I did a polenta bowl for dinner, along with grapefruits and a whole wheat banana nut muffin for breakfast. for lunch? turkey taco salad. oh and a homemade pizza to celebrate the weekend.
  • week 3: back on the oatmeal grind, this time without those salty pistachios and par-cooked oats. full steel cut, irish oatmeal. for lunches, a combo of grapefruits, bananas, granola bars, and yogurt parfaits. and dinners were so good. i made a “ramen” from TJ products and later a peanut butter siracha stir fry with tofu and coconut rice.
  • week 4: more oatmeal, this time with cinnamon and dates. more grapefruits, yogurts, and stir fry. this time with a heavy emphasis on the veggies and a garlic sauce. for friday, i mixed it up with a fig, prosciutto, and arugula pizza.


polenta bowl

a creamy polenta bowl topped with sausage, blistered tomatoes, spinach, and garlic.

1 lb sausage (I liked the hot italian, but you can use chicken, turkey, etc.)
1 pkg cherry tomatos
1 bag fresh spinach
1/4 cup goat cheese
1 cup polenta mix (cornmeal, instant, whatever)
few cloves of garlic

So this one was pretty good. you slice and brown the sausage with garlic in the skillet. set aside. cook the tomatoes on medium heat with the sausage oils until blistered (8 minutes). then add spinach and sausage and stir until wilty and delicious (3 minutes). pour over polenta.

polenta: I used the instant kind. it involves pouring the mix into 4 cups boiling water and stirring until thick on low heat for 5 minutes. fold in the cheese. done

AND (“optional”) _put_a_egg_on_it_ yeah you just crack a egg in a calm boil, poach it 4 minutes. scoop, pat dry. drop it on top with some cracked pepper.
source: the kitchn

other achievments? coca-cola free. followed the no-drink’s policy for the most part. here is the running list of mistakes:

  • Couple beers with friends at BWW. Within the rules. I’m okay about this.
  • A grapefruit cocktail out with friends at slurping turtle. again, within the rules. not bad.
  • sipped a pepsi fountain drink. my officemate requested I taste test because she has diabetes and can only drink diet. didn’t realize I did it until after. so… 1 tbsp soda so far in 2015. I hate myself for it, but not terrible. also, for the record, I hate pepsi. not that it helps.
  • One honey-cinnamon latte. this one was fully aware and my third coffee product of the day. I used my dining-out card on a visit to bang-bang pie with my RA I haven’t seen in 4 years. not terrible. I got a refill on my coffee (black). up to 16-20 oz for the day. Then she asks if I want to hang at a coffee shop while she studies and I say sure. Order up a 12 oz latte, big mistake. It was delicious and I’m kicking myself for it.
  • 1.5 Do-rite donuts. purchased for my officemate’s birthday. Started with just a quarter, then an eighth, and another eighth, until I was up to 1.5 donuts. these were “within the rules”, but I don’t think it was in the spirit of the year. sigh.
  • A couple roommate-baked ginger bread cookies. these things are as addictive as crack and were just laid out on the stove in multiple cookie sheets. Couldn’t even make my dinner without moving them and eating one, followed by another.
  • One big-o-mug swiss miss hot chocolate. really not any occasion, just a night when i was still hungry. 100% dessert. 100% really not proud of myself right now.
  • I won’t bore you with my superbowl cheesy dips.

Quick aside about special occasions like these: they happen all the time. In the month I’ve been doing this there have been 3 visitors from out of town, 2 birthdays, and a whole other string of celebrations, the least of which being the completion of my first 5 day week in a while. I could live week to week on the lies and excuses, feeding myself with special occasions.

Acheivable Goals.


turkey taco salad

this “taco salad” is more along the lines of guacamole on top of lettuce. But it’s pretty good if you are into real-heavy salads.

the taco mix:
1 lb ground turkey
2 cups cooked black beans
1 red pepper (chopped)
1 jalepano (diced)
1 onion (chopped)
few cloves garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 cup broth

Sauté the peppers, onion, garlic in a tsp oil until soft (5 minutes).
Add the turkey with spices. brown it, and stir in black beans. I add a bit of broth to reduce and help meld the flavors.
TBH you can half this but good luck finding a half pound of ground turkey. maybe freeze it?

the salad:
mixed greens
1/2 avocado sliced
1/4 cup mango (cubed)
handful chopped green onions
very small handful of tortilla strips
1-2 tbsp salsa

Heat up a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the mix and drop that on the greens with the fixings.
by the end of the week I was just doing a bit of mix with avocado and mango. and that was plenty.

source: the kitchn (surprise!)

NB: I tried and failed to hydrate dried black beans and wound up with some crunchy beans mixed into my taco meat. So then I added too much water for some cooked beans and soggy meat. Then I used rice to absorb the excess. It was still pretty good.

Health goals?

Did I mention I went to the eye doctor? Boom! Called up the HR department, hunted down the information on my vision insurance. Turns out, never even lost the card because they don’t give you one. So I registered and logged in, found a Pearle Vision, scheduled and followed through. Eye sight updated.

For entertainment I compliled a list of all the dumb puns eye doctors be pulling within 5 miles of my zip code:

  • Eye See Ravenswood
  • Wink Optical
  • Licoln Park Eyes
  • Custom Eyes
  • Eye Mechanix
  • Red Eye Eyewear
  • Urban Eyecare
  • Eye Candy Optics

I got a Warby box and still can’t make up my mind. Then I learned Warby and my eye insurance don’t see eye-to-eye. See…

  • Warby wants me to pay up front for my glasses and get reimbursed through a invoice.
  • My eye insurance wants to pay up front through a vendor they have set up. OR they will reimburse my purchase after deducting copays that are itemized by lens and frames.
  • My FSA (that’s flexible-spending-account for those keeping score at home) is designed to help cover my out of pocket medical costs. BUT I can’t double dip. As in, I can’t get insurance to reimburse back to my FSA purchase with Warby.
  • A bit Old World vs. New World puts me in a the middle. Even though it’s a bit of a no-flex-zone, I’ll be enjoying the affordable prices of Warby’s designs without my insurance’s help, because my FSA about to do the “use it or lose it” thing.


    Still left on the list? PCP and Dentist. I’m awaiting referrals on both. Let’s just say my health care provider is partially staffed by doctors that share my office. I asked my boss, also a doctor in this provider group, to send a list of good doctors in the group and outside my office network. Reminder email sent, I’ll schedule this week hopefully.

    Dentist? A bit harder. I hate dentists. I got to take the time during lunch this week to figure out the venn diagram of dentists near me, that are covered by my insurance, and recommended by a friend.

    Glasses will have to wait until the appointments are complete.



    trader joe’s pizza friday

    TJ’s ready to go pizza dough
    2-3 tbsp TJ’s pizza sauce
    2-3 tbsp giardiniera
    6 oz TJ’s part skim mozzarella
    TJ’s fancy meats combo pack (we talking salami, capocollo, prosciutto)

    or fig pizza friday

    TJ’s dough
    4 tbsp Fig Butter
    6 oz part skim mozzarella
    3-4 slices prosciutto
    1 oz shaved parmesan

    2 cups arugula tossed with balsamic vinagrette

    preheat your pizza stone to 500 degrees. yeah i said it. pizza. stone.
    roll out a 10-12 inch circle the onto a lightly floured paddle. i enjoy the cornmeal/flour blend. keep it just enough to keep it from sticking.
    dress it up.
    slide it into the oven, hot.
    cook it like 8-10 minutes until desired cheese bubble-age.
    paddle the pizza back to the counter to cool. slice, n fold.
    source: @JNalv

    So, some reflection on the month of January.

    I consider making-3-meals-a-day quite the accomplishment and I am proud of it. And while I didn’t get to flossing and the entire list of doctors appointments, I feel like with the right amount of attention and willpower, I can get the list done.

    As for the no-no’s… I’ve had slip ups (see: previous list of said slip-ups). Each time I do fall, it makes me think about why I am doing this and why it is so hard. Change is REALLY difficult. Part of this entire year is to validate myself. It is important to face fears and to overcome obstacles, but I’m learning it is just as important to know the way I feel is real, and it is okay. But when I do accomplish a goal, its rewards can be delicious (see: every recipe in this thing). Most importantly, I feel really… happy.

    I will continue to make mistakes and be flexible and forgiving, with the end goal in mind.

    We out here.



    spicy peanut tofu stir fry

    2 baby bok choys – cut at steam and pulled into leaves
    TJ’s baby/chinese broccoli (cut into 1 inch pieces)
    1/4 cup peanuts (roasted, chopped)

    marinade (20 minutes)
    tofu dried and cubed
    1 tbsp soy
    1 tbsp oil
    1 tbsp sesame oil
    1 tbsp ginger, minced
    few cloves garlic, minced

    1/4 cup white wine
    1/2 tbsp honey
    1/2 tbsp sesame
    1 tbsp rice vinegar
    2 tbsp siracha
    1 tbsp chunky peanut butter

    coconut rice
    1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed
    1/2 cup coconut milk
    1 1/2 cup water

    stir coconut ingredients in the ricer cooker. activate. done.
    compress tofu on paper towels for 10 minutes. cube and marinate 20 minutes.
    fry up the tofu with marinade and the peanuts in a wok on high heat until brown on all sides.
    add greens for 2 minutes until dark/softened.
    add the sauce, and let it reduce.
    NB: if you want, add about 1 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp water to the sauce to help it thicken.

    source: @JNalv and some blog, i don’t know it was in a old email chain.