The new HMR Program Penne & Meatball entree is great on it’s own but sometimes you just want to shake things up to keep it interesting. Adding the soup and some additional spices can make for a delicious and easy pasta bake.
Creamy Penne Pasta Bake
- HMR Penne & Meatball Entree
- HMR Chicken Soup packet
- Penzeys Roasted Garlic (several dashes worth – you can also use your favorite garlic powder or crushed garlic or leave this out)
- Crushed Red Pepper (1/4 tsp optional for a nice kick)
- 3 ounces water
Mix all ingredients together in a casserole dish until fully combined. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until top has browned. Oven times may vary depending on how shallow or deep your baking dish is as well as your oven’s calibration.
When I was in Phase One of the HMR program, I rarely ate soup. Odd because it seemed like that’s what all of my classmates were doing – turning entrees into soup. But it just didn’t appeal to me.
Since entering Phase Two, I have realized how useful broth-based soups are as high-volume, low-calorie meal options. And so I have tried to increase my soup intake.
This is a very simple but delicious Decision-Free way to use the new HMR Diet Lentil Stew. If you don’t want the spice, cut the Green Dragon Sauce.
Spicy Lentil Soup
- HMR Lentil Stew Entree
- 1.5 cups broth
- Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Sauce (I use about 1.5 tsp)
- Garlic salt, just a dash
- Black pepper, just a dash
Stir all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally while heating. Once soup comes to a boil, turn off heat and enjoy while it’s still steaming!
Pumpkin spice is EVERYWHERE – seriously I must have seen at least ten different brands of pumpkin spiced tea in my local shops. But I finally caved and bought a box because I wanted to mix things up and my other dessert teas were running low.
I realized today after making a tea latte, that I had never posted about these before. But it’s a great alternative to coffee while giving you a warm shake any time of day. I make tea lattes with all sorts of flavored teas but this week have been enjoying a little something extra with the addition of pumpkin spice seasoning added to my shake.
Pumpkin Spice Tea Latte
- Pumpkin Spice Tea (I used the Sprouts Grocery brand black tea)
- Vanilla HMR Shake
- Pumpkin Spice blend (you can find this in most baking aisles)
Boil 14 ounces of water and then brew tea. You can double the bags or reduce the water if you want the flavor extra strong, but I don’t think it’s needed. Once the tea has brewed, add it to your blender with the vanilla shake and a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Blend to froth (you can also use a travel milk brother if you are on the road). Pour back into your mug and top with a half-dash of spice. Enjoy! SUPER easy and perfect for sipping during your morning commute.
It’s cold and rainy here in California which means I am continuing to experiment with hot shakes. I tried to make something a little less sweet this time around while still being rich and filling.
Using unsweetened cocoa and PB2 gave the shake a deep mouthfeel while keeping the overall sweet level down. Perfect to sip while grading research assignments or enjoying a good book.
I used a travel Aerolatte milk frother for my hot shakes. It’s easy to carry, clean, and make clump-free shakes. But this could easily be done with a whisk or a blender (just be careful with pressure that can build making hot beverages in a blender!).
Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
- 1/2 tbsp PB2
- 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
- 1 HMR chocolate shake
- 14 oz hot water
Pour hot water in a large mug. Slowly pour in shake powder while frothing/whisking. Do the same with PB2 and cocoa. Make sure to pour powders in slowly to reduce possibility of clumping. Enjoy!
This one is short and easy but so good I had to share! And while you can grate cauliflower or run it through a food processor to get that rice texture, I recently learned you can also put raw florets in a large ziploc bag and beat it until it crumbles… excellent stress relief! (Okay so you can also buy riced cauliflower but c’mon let’s take cleavers to that vegetable and get some energy out!)
- 1/2 cup diced onion (I dice an onion or two early in the week to throw into recipes)
- 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
- 3 cups riced/grated cauliflower
- Creole seasoning (to taste)
- HMR Diet Chicken Creole entree
Heat frying pan over medium-high heat. Either spray with cooking spray or add a tablespoon of water and onion and bell pepper to sauté. Cook for one to two minutes stirring frequently and then add cauliflower and Creole seasoning.
Cook for another two to four minutes and add HMR program entree. Mix thoroughly and cook for another two to four minutes until heated through.
One gigantic serving or two smaller servings. Bulked up for just a few extra calories! Cook time varies because it depends on how soft you want your cauliflower rice. Add hot sauce if you want an extra kick!
(I started this blog entry a few weeks ago and then the insanity of October hit – fellow teachers can relate – so I am finishing it off now – better late than never!)
For the last four weeks I have been on a strict HMR Healthy Solutions diet as part of a “Blitz” that my health center was offering. This meant four weeks straight of being “in the box” of the prescribed Healthy Solutions Diet of 3 shakes, 2 entrees, and 5 fruits/veggies minimum per day (more of any of these allowed under the concept “More is Better” which I will address in a moment) plus 2,000 physical activity calories a week.
When I transitioned out of Phase One of HMR almost a year ago today, I had not spent much time following Healthy Solutions. I had spent nine months living in a hardcore Decision Free box and only spent about a month transitioning into Healthy Solutions before I transitioned into Phase Two (the introduction of outside foods, broadening my personal “box” for successful weight maintenance).
To be honest, I don’t think I had fully grasped the function of Healthy Solutions. I followed it. I did what I was told. But I don’t think I had internalized some of the decision making that is taught in this part of the program.
More is Better
My “more is better” had been shakes and entrees for nine months. And when I transitioned, I continued to rely on these. There is nothing wrong with these decision free meals, however I have learned that if I rely more on vegetables as the bulk “more is better” part of a meal, I can have super filling options for fewer calories. It is a continuation of the idea of calorically dense foods. And so, for example my dinner tonight, instead of having two entrees or an entree and a shake, I am just as full (if not fuller) making “noodles” out of zucchini and having an HMR lasagna on top!
That said, entrees and shakes are incredibly valuable and more of these are better too. But I had been crowing out fruits and veggies – not just Gap foods – with my HMR entrees and shakes … which was depriving me of another “more is better” option (that has even more variety!).
The concept behind meal planning was pretty basic in Decision Free since I had been working with limited options that required no preparation. So when I started introducing fruits and veggies, I went for a lot of basics and didn’t think about meal prep or planning. But that gets boring fast, and thus I started to plan a few more of my meals in order to get all of my fruits, veggies, shakes, and entrees in!
I have also created a “puzzle piece” system where I prep building blocks that can be used a variety of ways during the week (so I can have some spontaneity in what I have but it all still meets a Healthy Solutions guideline) – for example, I will roast several squash and an eggplant as well as spiralize zucchini and rice up a head of cauliflower. Now I have ready made staples I can pair with an entree – like steak and potatoes tossed with some roasted squash or Thai curry bulked up with some extra cauliflower rice.
I also had been pretty simplistic in my journaling in Decision Free. I would just check off with a hash-mark when I had an entree or shake or bar. And while I was okay with basic fruit and veggie tracking in Healthy Solutions. But as I started to get creative, I realized I would get frustrated having to add everything and wouldn’t keep a clear journal.
Now I have all of my puzzle pieces saved and can swap them in and out. But I also pre-log things before I eat them because if it does take awhile to log, I might just end up with a shake or some steamed veggies (which were probably the healthier option in some cases).
Ultimately, there are a lot of things I have taken away from this experience. And I would strongly encourage anyone who needs a reset to check out their HMR clinic for the next Blitz offering. I not only lost some of the weight I had gained, I have taken away a better appreciation of defining what I need to maintain my weight as well as an appreciation for decision free options (shakes and entrees) that I had “tired” of after transitioning to Phase Two. I embrace them with a newfound respect having taken a “break” from them and realizing they are actually pretty awesome for more than just weight loss.
I am now currently living inside of my own personal box. It’s not as strict as an official “box” but it’s guidelines I am figuring out help me from diving into “The World of Gap Foods” — I am playing around to figure out exactly what works and I am still giving myself permission to have a meal outside of my new box every couple of weeks. I am also still figuring out if I am at my “happy” weight range or if I do want to lose the additional pounds I have found in Phase Two. If I lose them, will I be at a maintainable weight for me? And right now, I just don’t know. But I will keep living in my box full of fruits and vegetables and decision free meal options (with an occasional outside lean protein) until I have a better answer. And I realize this may be the rest of my life and after a year in Phase Two, I am finally accepting this.