A Hand’s On Dinner!

January 28, 2008

Quinoa Shrimp Tabbouleh Lettuce Wraps


What fun this dinner was – very hands on and messy but fun! I saw tabbouleh somewhere a week ago and thought it would make a nice balance to this week’s soups and stews. I browsed the internet for ideas, and this is what we came up with:

I wanted to use buglur, but since we have a box of quinoa on hand, I felt we should use that instead. I like quinoa OK, but I never feel that full when I eat it, but this was the first time I have really enjoyed it (thanks to lots of veggies for bulk!).

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Toss together in bowl. Let sit for as long as possible to absorb flavors. Serve at room temp or chilled.

  • 2 servings quinoa, cooked
  • ~20 shrimp, seared in a skillet
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained (use fresh in the summer!)
  • 1/3 a green pepper, chopped
  • 15 grams (or about 1.5 tbsp?) of toasted, sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • S + P
  • Fresh rosemary and mint, chopped

Makes 3 servings, ~330 kcal each

We were going to divide this recipe in two, but remembering last night’s fullness and seeing this big bowl, I decided to divide by 3 and have a smaller portion for lunch tomorrow!


Quick Shrimp Tip –

To get a nice golden crust on shrimp, heat pan to medium high. Pour 1 tsp (all you need for ~20 shrimp) across the bottom and place shrimp it ONE BY ONE and then DO NOT touch them. Let them sit there until they turn pink, then flip. We’ve spent many nights “throwing” the shrimp in and they land every which way and don’t get a crust. You must place them in with tongs.


We served the tabbouleh with a big head of butterhead a.k.a bibb a.k.a. Boston head lettuce. I love the texture of this lettuce and it’s great for “wraps.” Yes, we ate the whole head!


The almonds added an exciting crunch and the shrimp contributed a great chew every now and then :mrgreen:


A “wrap”


The husband has quite an affinity for hot sauce and fetched the Sriracha (garlic chili sauce) after his first bite. At first I scolded him for ruining the delicate flavors of the lemon and olive oil….but then I tried it – YUM!!! We traveled from Lebanon to Thailand in one bite!


Lastly, I had a 3.5 glass of leftover Chardonnay while cooking 8)


Dinner kcal ~380



Nectar Bar while leaving campus around 4:00 –


And hot tea with a splash of skim milk when I got home –


I might have dessert tonight – not sure yet! I need to digest more and see how I feel.

Tomorrow I have my first big quiz in Medical Terminology and another in Cultural Foods – yikes! Better hit the books. See you for another exciting oatmeal breakfast (I have different mix-ins planed…)

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 goalie30 January 28, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Lettuce wraps are soooo good, and I just had chicken lettuce wraps at Uno Chicago Grill on Sunday! Yours look healthier and tastier than what I had though, Kath. I love the Bibb lettuce, good stuff!
Good luck studying medical terminology…it’s not too bad once you get used to the latin in the words, and they’ll stick with you once you use them on a daily basis, especially once you start practicing :)


2 Ana January 28, 2008 at 8:23 pm

to continue the bean discussion-beans themselves do not actually cause gas. i eat beans all the time and have never had a problem w/gas. what happens is the uncooked starch in beans is food for the (good) bacteria living in your intestines, that exude gas after eating. to avoid this, make sure you fully cook your beans, or better yet switch to canned beans. they are just as healthy but are fully cooked and safe to eat w/out byproducts -_^ i use canned beans all the time, but i tend to strain them and run them under the faucet to wash off the sodium used in the canning process. hope this helps!


3 Beth Q January 28, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Hi Kath,
Just a quick note to the other Beth who comments on here (*waves* you have an awesome name!) Just wanted to let you know that I added a ‘Q’ to my name so people wouldn’t confuse us.

Keep up the good work, Kath! And thanks for helping Kath out, Beth!

Beth Q


4 casey January 28, 2008 at 8:52 pm

i got up at 5:00 this morning and got to the gym at 5:30! Not only did I have an awesome 5.5 mile run I didnt have anything to do after work/school today YAY!! Thanks for the encouragement.

just a question for anyone- how often do you all weigh yourselves (Kath included)?


5 Melissa January 28, 2008 at 8:55 pm

Kath, are these nectar bars different/better than lara bars. You typically choose nectar bars and I was just curious as to why. Thanks!


6 goalie30 January 28, 2008 at 8:56 pm

I weight myself maybe a few times a week; usually I weight myself after I workout, because if I’ve dropped several pounds after I’ve worked out, I know I’m dehydrated and need to get drinking some more fluids! Otherwise, I mainly go on how I feel and how my clothes fit. If I indulge over the weekends (which I typically do!), I make sure during the weekdays I go back to my standard 80% healthy eats during my daily diet…hope this helps!


7 Anonymous January 28, 2008 at 9:04 pm

This is along the lines of goalie’s earlier post. Like many readers, I am around Kath’s age. I find kath’s blog to be inspiring and realistic. However, I find the other blogger that many of us follow to be disheartening. If I were to eat what she ate I would lose weight and barely meet my protein or calcium requirements. Am I the only one? I know she is sometimes attacked for her small meals, but I feel that those people are necessarily the best source to judge as they seem angry. I am asking this to try to understand are my portions off? I thought you weren’t supposed to go such long stretches of time without eating and not supposed to only eat carbs. from, a confused blog reader


8 Anonymous January 28, 2008 at 9:05 pm

i meant aren’t not are


9 Maria January 28, 2008 at 9:17 pm

What a gorgeous dinner! I am so taken by that pile of vibrant green lettuce leaves. :)

Do well on your quizzes tomorrow!


10 Bella January 28, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Hello Kath,

I’ve noticed you do not take rest days from exercise very often. How come? All: when you do take a day off do you feel different? Meaning, do you feel “bigger” or “heavier.” I am trying to work on NOT having those feelings and feelings of guilt when I do not go to the gym.


11 casey January 28, 2008 at 9:53 pm

thanks for the tip that definitely helps i used to never weigh myself and dont want to get too obsessed with a number but i lose weight very easily and need to make sure im on track so i may start twice a week or so THANKS


12 Brooke January 28, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Kath I just wanted to say a quick thank you. I purchased one of the HRM and I love it. It made me feel like I really accomplished something at the gym tonight. Thanks for all your hard work on this blog. You have been so inspiring to me. http://www.betterfit.wordpress.com


13 KM January 28, 2008 at 9:56 pm

Ana — Maybe my body is just weird, but I definitely still have problems with gas (sorry to be blunt) when I eat canned beans, or when they’re fully cooked (like in soup). :(

And to Anonymous, I would just keep in mind that everyone’s body is different. I find that if I snack in-between meals I am much more hungry than I am if I just eat three meals a day. Like today, I had some carrots and hummus for a snack (around 4pm, after having lunch at noon) and by 5pm I was starving (and I wasn’t before I had eaten the snack). But I know that’s not how everyone else feels…so don’t feel “disheartened” by one blogger just because she has different eating patterns than you do or Kath does.


14 LEE January 28, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Hi Kath,

THANK YOU for your comment in the previous post about eating disorders. I’m an 18-year-old who has struggled with multiple eating disorders for over four years, and I hate when the term is thrown around carelessly. I appreciate that you recognize the difference between mindful, healthy eating habits and obsessive eating habits that need professional attention. You truly inspire me to eat healthy, listen to my body, and treat it right. Thank you! :)


15 kelly January 28, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Casey – I have been mantaining my weight for 9 months now after losing somewhere between 15-20 pounds. I personally weigh myself almost every single day. It keeps me aware of my weight although I know through experience that most of my weight changes are the result of more sodium than usual or dehydration. However, I stick to a range rather than a specific weight. It’s more realistic for me because fluctuations are normal. I only make changes when I hit the top or the bottom of my range, which almost never happens. I follow intuitive eating and don’t count calories so this is my way of maintaining some accountability.

Anonymous- While all these food blogs are great for ideas and guidance I honestly think listening to your body is the best way of understanding what you should be eating and how much. Spend time paying attention to how you feel after different meals and how much it takes to make you full. I think it can be especially hard to tell because not every blog gives portion sizes and sometimes meals are larger some days than other so they can seem too small or too big on a particular day, but even out over time.


16 kelly January 28, 2008 at 10:21 pm

KM – I completely agree with your post. We’re all so different. I think it’s partially about what works with our body and also what works with our lifestyles. I think it’s worthwhile to recognize that no one blog should be the ‘bible’ by which any of us live and that it’s worthwhile to read many different resources to influence your lifestyle.


17 Becky January 28, 2008 at 10:31 pm

I agree with KM and Kelly.

As a reader of these blogs, I don’t expect that my eating habits/patterns should be just like the ones I read. It is simply a snapshot into another woman’s diet…

Some days I eat more than what is pictured in some blogs, some days I eat less. It really doesn’t bother me because I know we are all different- different metabolisms, different activity levels, etc. It would be crazy to assume that one size fits all. I know a relative who literally has a hole in her leg and needs to eat about 2,700 calories a day just to MAINTAIN her low weight. We are all different so lets just take what we can from this blog and others- healthy tips and meal ideas!


18 Liz January 29, 2008 at 12:00 am

Thanks everyone for reaffirming that we are all different and that this is ok!! I think many times we get caught up in what is the “right” way to eat and “good vs. bad” food and daily intake. Kath, I am also curious about exercise and how you feel about days off? I find I beat myself up if I don’t go to the gym on a day that is not my rest day…how does everyone cope with exercising and not exercising?


19 Karen January 29, 2008 at 12:10 am

Thanks for the Quinoa recipe, I’ve got a box and have no idea what to do with it!


20 Alicia January 29, 2008 at 1:25 am

I don’t weigh myself but gauge how my clothes fit instead. As for food intake, I realise that our bodies are alot smarter than we think.

Like we feel hungrier on certain days and may eat more but our bodies naturally balance it out by eating less another day. At least that is how my body works. So we just need to eat balanced meals and that includes cake! 😛


21 Leng January 29, 2008 at 2:29 am

Wow dinner looks pretty yummmy. I have a box of quinoa in my pantry, but never knew how to cook it and I never bothered to look it up. I figured it was just like rice. Is it?

Oh by the way, the Sriracha hot sauce was actually started off in Southern California (near L.A. and Orange county where there is a big Vietnamese population) by a Vietnamese guy. It was his family recipe. The garlic one that you referred to has actual chili pepper seeds and is not as sweet as this sauce. It’s also not Thai. It’s a whole Southeast Asian sauce.


22 sirenjess January 29, 2008 at 6:43 am

I personally take days off from working out because your body needs the break. If you continually work your body hard and you don’t take a break eventually what happens is your body starts to break down and you actually start to hurt your body rather than help it. I’ve got a friend who is a personal trainer and this is her (and other trainers) advice. Listen to your body! My body told me yesterday that it did not want to work out. Sunday I did a four mile run and a barbell strength class with 16 counts. I needed the break. Hope this helps anyone.


23 Anou January 29, 2008 at 7:19 am

My boyfriends father just passed away this weekend and since he doesnt have a lot of family, I am constantly there for him. Of course, this has taken effect on my exercising habit, and its been about a week I havent hit the gym. What do you think someone should do in unexpected situations like that ??? I feel kinda bad not working out but I am 100 % there for my boyfriend and he needs me. You just dont expect these things to happen.


24 SC January 29, 2008 at 7:33 am

I’m not Kath and I’m just guessing, but I think the reason that she doesn’t take many days off from exercising is because she doesn’t need to. The reason behind taking rest days is to let your muscles repair and rebuild themselves. It seems to me that Kath does mostly cardio at the gym (which you don’t really need to take rest days off from) and upper body lifting. She seems to switch up upper body muscles with each workout, therefore giving the muscles she worked previously a day to rest. Also there are some day that she just does cardio so the arms aren’t lifting at all. The same with fueling your body, when you work out you need to listen to your body. If it says stop or rest then do it. But don’t get me wrong, you won’t see results if you don’t push and challege yourself. You just need to find a balance that works for you.


25 Kathy January 29, 2008 at 7:37 am

I’ve been lurking for quite awhile and just wanted to say how much I love your site. The photos of the food are great and your recipes and ingredients are ones that I enjoy. Congratulations to you and your husband on jointly achieving your weight goals and maintaining them…you are an inspiration to others who are striving to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Thanks.


26 goalie30 January 29, 2008 at 7:39 am

I agree with what was mentioned above that everyone’s body is different when it comes to how often and how much you eat. What I had learned was that most people should take in anywhere from 0.5mg -1mg of protein per pound of body weight. If you are into weight lifting and want to gain lean muscle muscle, you should try to be closer to the 1mg per pound end; otherwise, for general nutrition, somewhere in between that range is fine. I don’t recommend the Atkins and high protein diets because they usually don’t allow for enough fruits and whole grains, but I usually try to get at least a small amount of protein in with most of my meals and sometimes even my snacks, just because it seems to help me stay full for longer, and it helps to digest carbs a little slower, so again you feel fuller for a longer period of time.
In terms of how often you eat, I think most people should eat every 3-5 hours, going longer than that most people are going to be pushing the limits and will feel too hungry. If you’re an athlete, an active person, or someone with a faster metabolism, you will probably need to eat every 3 hours, and if you’re less active or have a slower metabolism you’ll probably tend to eat every 4 or 5 instead. Basically, when you are feeling hungry you should eat. I tend to feel hungry every 3 hours during the day, so I always plan on breakfast and then bring a mid-morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack with me to work and then eat dinner at night. On days I don’t work out, I cut out a snack or sometimes even two just because I’m not as hungry. Again, every person needs to listen to his/her own body on this one.
In terms of taking a day off; after playing highschool and college sports for years, and sometimes training up to 3-4 hours a day most days of the week, my workouts have definitely cut way back. I strive to workout out for 30-60 minutes and based on the week, when I’m really busy at work and/or run down, I get 3 workouts in. When I’m feeling good and have time I get 6 in, it just depends on the week and how I feel. I think everyone should have at least 1 day off of week so that they can rest their body (and mind!) and to prevent overtraining and burnout. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch all day for a “rest” day either…I tend to take one of my weekend days off from working out but instead I am at the grocery store for a few hours, and at home going up and down the stairs doing laundry or cleaning my house, and that adds up as exercise, even though you’re not formally working out.
Anou, my grandmother passed away last October, and it was unexpected, so yes it threw my whole week off and I didn’t really workout much if at all that entire week, but my family needed me, and there was a lot to do with the funeral. There is nothing wrong with going off your typical schedule for a week or even two when life throws a wrench in the way, it’s just a matter of picking up where you left off after things get settled back down again.


27 amy January 29, 2008 at 8:02 am

I think it also depends on your life style. When I was younger and first married, I had lots of time to workout. Now that I have 2 small children, work, and going back to school, I am much busier and have less time to workout. Instead of working out at the gym or yoga 5-6 times a week for an 1-1 1/2 hour, I can usually fit in 3-4 times 30min-1 hour here and there. I chase after my daughters and play with them for hours, so I count that too =) As long as you keep a healthy lifestyle and eat well, you body will be happy where it is at. I am happy with my body, even though I am about 5 pounds heavier and a little less toned than before I had kids, but it is all worth it!


28 Ana January 29, 2008 at 8:09 am

hey just wanted to say i totally agree w/the everyone is different and follow your own body mantra! love this blog (and the followers) way to go guys! for weighing-you can normally feel if you gain/lose lbs. i do both i weigh 1-3x a week and rest of the time just follow how my body feels! as for exercise-again follow your body. sometimes i can go months exercising everyday and sometimes i have to alternate gym and days-off days. again, listen to your body. if you need rest, take it! ^_^


29 Becky A. January 29, 2008 at 8:47 am

I was thinking about making lettuce wraps for a while, but never took the time to find a recipe-now I can use yours! Thanks!


30 Kath January 29, 2008 at 9:11 am

Welcome to the early bird crew!! Congrats on the hard workout.

I weighed myself daily during my weight loss and found it to be motivating to see my progress. I would recommend to those who are losing (and who are comfortable) to weigh yourself every day. Some people prefer to weigh once a week, but what if that day was your heaviest” (for whatever factor) and the next day you’d see the loss appear. I liked to weigh daily so I could learn my body’s ups and downs. For example, I knew the week and a half or so before my period I didn’t “lose” any pounds, but the week of I “lost” 2 whole pounds, when really I’m sure that 2 pounds was spread out over 2-3 weeks – I just saw it at once.

Once in maintenance, however, I felt that weighing myself was having a negative impact on my mentality. When you want your weight to STAY, the ups and downs are harder to digest than when losing. I decided that I was better off not weighing myself, and I’m much happier now! I haven’t weighed myself in probably 2-3 months now (although I’m curious to see where I do stand, but who knows how much that number is affected by muscle gain/fat loss percentages?)

Goal weights are best suited for people with lots to lose (as I was when I first started) but the closer I got to my ideal weight, the more I realized that the numbers just don’t matter.

I love the taste of Larabars, but sometimes the portion is just a little too big. I like the Nectars because they are 1.4 oz and about 160 kcal vs. 1.8 oz and 200-220 kcal for the Larabars so when I just need a small snack, I go for the smaller. But some days I do need the bigger one. Both are expensive, so I try to eat whole foods like an apple when I am at home and save the bars for on-the-go moments.

I completely agree with the other readers that you must listen to your body when it comes to exercise. SC is right (Thanks, SC!) when she says that I do cardio on most days and alternate my weight lifting (usually about 3x per week) to rest my upper body. My workouts during the week are sweaty, but they’re not super tough on my body – especially because I alternate between hard runs and spinning classes and “lighter” days of the elliptical. Although I burn just as many calories on the elliptical because I’m on for a longer period of time, it’s much lighter on my muscles and joints.

There are days when my body is just feeling a little run down and I skip a formal workout, but I do like to get some walking in or some form of activity on those days. It helps me both mentally and physically just to stretch my legs. I think it was last Sunday or the day before when I didn’t exercise at all because my body felt kind of lethargic.

I think the feelings of guilt come when you probably don’t need a 100% rest but take one anyways – verses when you KNOW you need one, it just feels right. If you can’t make it to the gym, try just going for a brisk walk – 10 minutes even. It will help you mentality and will boost your mood.

Glad you like it!! Your new site is beautiful, by the way :)

You’re quite welcome. I hope we can continue to discuss health in a respectful manner. Thanks for your compliments – and best of luck to you in your recovery!

I’m sorry to hear of your boyfriend’s loss. Like Goalie said, there are times when other things in live are more important and that is perfectly fnie. Just be sure you are still eating as healthy as you can during this time and you pick things up where you left off when you are ready. I always try to remind myself when life gets complicated that it doesn’t mean putting my good eating habits on the back burner, so I try to eat well to help keep my spirits up through them. Best of luck to you and your boyfriend.

Thanks so much Kathy!!

Great comments on working out/lifestyle everyone! Thanks!



31 Mariposa January 29, 2008 at 9:12 am


this dinner looks great!


32 mel January 29, 2008 at 10:02 am

hey guys! canned beans still cause me a lot of gas even when i throughly drain them..maybe I should just try beano bc I love love beans! haha! I love to work out but i find when I get up and honestly don’t want to go to the gym (bc I usually do!) I need a day off, bc I am burnt out! I weigh myself about 4 days a week, even though I’m not trying to lose, but i think I need to switch to only a few times a month bc my weight can fluctuate 3-4 lbs and when i weigh more I feel heavier throughout the day- which is so stupid!! I need help with my morning coffee! I have put about 2 tbsp of non fat creamer in my coffee for years (I usually drink 2 cups per day) and really want to stop this bc the fructose and other ingredients in it! i also add splenda. I just don’t thnk skim milk in coffee with a splenda taste the same..what do you all do? Thanks!!


33 Kath January 29, 2008 at 10:07 am

I think vanilla soy milk has a little more “omph” in coffee than skim. Get the regular kind, not the light.



34 Molly January 29, 2008 at 11:25 am


I bet this would taste great with some diced avocado. And/or some pine nuts! Yum. Thanks for the great ideas and the beautiful presentations.


35 Molly January 29, 2008 at 11:26 am

Pine nuts in place of the almonds, of course.


36 kh January 29, 2008 at 11:46 am

goalie30 – umm 0.5-1.0 mg per pound of body weight? MILLIGRAMS?? You may want to check your facts. Did you say you had a Master’s in nutrition? Is this what you are advising your “patients”? If so, they are probably suffering from protein deficiency. How can you criticize another blogger as you did yesterday, who is a QUALIFIED professional, when you are spreading such misinformation?


37 Katherine January 29, 2008 at 12:41 pm

goalie30 – do you mean grams? i think that you probably meant to say grams – rather than mg – meaning someone at 120 would consume between 60-120 grams of protein depending on their activity level and muscle mass.

60-120 mg would definately be quite low :)


38 Anou January 29, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Thanks for the advice! It has helped me not to feel guilty about missing a couple of weeks of working out to handle a situation like this. I even managed to squeeze in a home work out today and it felt great! And also thanks Kath for your words of encouragement !


39 goalie30 January 29, 2008 at 7:57 pm

kh and katherine, oops! i meant grams you are right…I typed that late last night and I was tired i guess….and NO i am not an RD and I am NOT a master’s in nutrition…I am a healthcare provider, that’s all I will say. I am not spreading bad information, I merely had a typo, it happens 😉 sorry


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