Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sustainable Change

Those of you who know me personally know how much I love to cook and bake.  Now that we're eating clean again, I've decided to extend the healthy cooking to health baking.  This is a big step for me, a woman who believes wholeheartedly in white sugar, real butter, and full-fat cream!  I do ok with the cooking transitions, taking recipes that I've used for years and making adjustments to make them taste as good but with healthier ingredients.  But the baking...well, that's entirely new territory into which I've heretofore never really had the inclination to venture!  

Til Today.  

We were headed out to our usual favorite breakfast place for our Saturday morning tradition of a late breakfast lingering over coffee (I've cheated the last two Saturdays' and had a single cup of coffee with breakfast...sssshhhhh...) and THIS is what was happening:  

And it's sticking this time.  A nice, slow, steady snow with those big fat dry flakes that tend to pile up fast.

But inside Casa de Chatwell, it smells like a winter day should.  Like spicy pumpkin muffins and apple pie.  And this time, without the lingering scent of guilt that usually accompanies it!!!  :)  Here's the recipe:

Guilt-Free Baked Apples

5 Granny Smith apples, washed
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. fresh cranberries
1/2 c. steel cut oats (the big ones)
Large dollop of honey to taste (you can also use Stevia)

Heat the oven to 350.  

Slice off the top of each apple.  Using a melon baller, remove the core.  There really isn't a lot to an apple core. It's essentially the very very center of the apple, so a couple of twists of the wrist and they're out.  Using the melon baller, remove the rest of the apple guts and place them in a pan with the the 1/2 cup water and Tbsp of coconut oil.  

You can cook the apple innards while you're preparing the remaining apples and just keep adding apple to the pan until all five are hollowed out. Remember to leave enough of the inside of the apple INSIDE THE APPLE so that the sides don't cave in while they're baking.  The entire thing is going to be edible.  

Coarse chop the fresh cranberries.  These little
suckers roll, so stand close to your cutting board and use a big knife as shown.  

Add them to the pot along with the spices and salt and cook on medium until the water cooks down and the apples are soft but not yet quite falling apart.  This takes about 10 minutes or so from the time you've added the last of the apples.  

Add the oats and the honey in at about the last 2 minute mark.

Once the apples are cooked well, take them off the stove and you're ready to stuff the now gutted apples.  You should have exactly enough filling to fill the apples as the guts have cooked down a bit, but you've replaced that loss with the cranberries and oats.

Set each filled apple in a glass baking dish.  Put about a 1/4 cup of water in the bottom of the dish, and put the whole thing in the oven for about 15 minutes.  

When they come out, THIS is what they'll look like.  They'll keep in the fridge for about four days and heat nicely in the microwave.  They're perfect for that afternoon snack that usually finds you at the vending machine or scrambling through drawers trying to find that one piece of halloween candy you might have missed, or the few chocolate chips that fell out of the bag...yeah, that's personal experienced speaking right there.  :)

And that smell....Mmmmmmmm.  THIS is what winter should smell like.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Ok.  So it's been 11 days now that I've been doing the Advocare thing and I'm feeling good!  The first part of the program is an herbal cleanse.  You eat well (no processed foods, no sugar, no coffee or soda, nongluten grains, high lean protein, etc.) eating every 2-3 hours or so which is something I'm not generally consistent with.  In fact, I think I probably don't eat enough calories to lose weight on any given day which may be part of my issue when it comes to losing.  You replace one meal a day with their meal replacement shake which meets your requirements for calories, protein, and other key nutrients.  You drink a TON of water (they suggest a gallon a day, but I drink so much anyway that I've just been doing what I normally do and average about 90 oz a day anyway).   For eight of the first 10 days, you do a fiber drink, and also do a probiotic for most of that time also.  There are supplements to take for extra energy that contain herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other goodies.  And that's it!  It's pretty simple.  

Here's the breakdown:

I feel good!  (said in the voice of James Brown).  I wake up wide awake (though that may still be the hypnosis I did a while back!)  I'm at my desk working by 0630 every morning, and I haven't physically missed my coffee in the sense that I haven't had any caffeine withdrawals at all.  I've been using an Advocare product called Spark, a drink mix that tastes a lot like KoolAid, in watermelon (my favorite), grape, and citrus, and it's kept me going. Though I've gotta say, I sure miss the smell of that delicious stuff brewing every morning. And I'm guessing that the coffee place in Oregon where I buy my favorite coffee beans that they roast and ship on the same day, Cafe Mam, is missing me just as much!  I'm sure that the added supplements are helping in this area also.  I have a nice, steady energy throughout the day with no crashes.  The one thing I've noticed  though is, come bedtime, I'm wiped out.  As in last night I got in bed to read and fell asleep before I could even turn on my iPad.  And the night before, I was crashed out on the couch by 7.  Not sure what's up with that as I haven't been working more than usual or been stressed about anything.  Actually, this week has been less hours put in at my desk than the past four weeks. So it may just be coincidental.  


I seem to be sleeping okay, too.  I haven't noticed a difference overall in the quality of my sleep when I do sleep.

Not noticed any change at all in my mood.  No highs or lows.  Just my usual self :)

I weighed yesterday at 10 days and found that I've lost a little over four pounds.  That's a nice, steady weight loss that isn't the product of 'crash dieting' and when I do lose weight like this, slow and steady, I tend to keep the weight off.  I'm pretty excited about that only 10 days into the program.  

Here's the part where I'm the most excited.  I've not only lost the 4+ pounds, I've also lost 2 inches from my chest/upper back (which is where I tend to carry extra weight), two inches off my waist, and a half-inch off my hips and thighs.  THIS is the biggest difference. I'm starting to see a change in how my clothes are fitting which was my biggest goal.

Honestly, the first few days on the program I was SO hungry.  But there's a good support system on Facebook that the friend from whom I purchased the program hooked me up with, and they suggested that I just eat more which I did.  That helped a lot.  I lost weight, so I'm guessing that I didn't do any actual harm by going outside of the recommended amounts to consume.  It was strange for me though as on any given day, I don't generally get hungry in the sense that my stomach growls.    And this leveled off after the first few days and didn't continue to be an issue.  I'm guessing that a lot of it was psychosomatic:  My brain saying, "Oh!  You're not gonna give us exactly what we want whenever we want it?  Here:  Take THAT!".

If you follow the blog, you know I do my cooking on the weekend, so it hasn't really taken me any extra time.  I've had to make some extra brown rice and quinoa this week to get me through as I didn't make enough on Sunday when I did my cooking.  But that's super easy.  Both of the two meals that are eaten (rather than the meal replacement shake) consist of 0.5 cup of complex carbs (for me that usually means brown rice), 4-6 oz of lean protein (I grilled chicken with different rubs and seasonings on Sunday and also grilled some tofu), and either 1 cup of vegetables and/or fruit (raw or cooked) or 2 cups of leafy greens.  This gives you quite a bit of leeway for variety.  I've made turkey burger/beef hamburger meatloaf, pot roast, and last night was a nice, hot chicken soup with a little bit of rice noodles.  It's actually quite a bit of food for me considering how I normally eat, and the crock pot has been my biggest friend this week.  I'll throw something in right after lunch and it's ready by dinner.  We even went out to dinner to a Mongolian grill one evening before a movie and I just made sure to load up more on veges than anything and try to keep my sauces on the lighter side.  But it hasn't taken any more time for me than eating well usually does.

                                                Bottom Line
The bottom line is that this has been very easy.   I seem to be getting results.  And that's really all that matters!  

Today started the second half of the program which means b'bye to the fiber drink (not gonna miss that one!) and hello to more and different supplements.  These came in a box full of two weeks' worth of supplements that come in four packs per day with each pack's instructions written on them for how and when to take them.  Before breakfast supplements consist of two separate metabolic enhancers and a probiotic.  Before lunch it's three more supplements for metabolism, three different vitamin/herbal mixes,  and an omega-3 softgel.  This will be added to the usual metabolic caps that I take three times a day (breakfast, lunch, and right before bed), and the two omega-3 capsules with dinner.  Like I said, it's a lot of supplements (about 25 total per day!).  But it isn't a lot of hassle.  

Almost halfway through the program now, so I'll keep you posted.  Will try to add some new dessert recipes that I've come up with this week to combat my sugar cravings, though those seem to be getting fewer and further between.  See ya in a few days!

Monday, November 03, 2014

That Damn Wagon

You know... the one we keep falling off of.  

Well, now the cold(ish) weather is back and we're done being irresponsible and are trying to do better about eating.  Since we last spoke, Rik had shoulder surgery which put him out of exercise commission for almost five months, and with it apparently both of our ability to eat healthy.  (To put it mildly, we're on a first name basis with the Dominoes driver.  Well, to be completely honest, with all of them.) and I'm still not cleared from the spine surgeon to work out again.  

A friend of mine tried a diet/eating system called AdvoCare.  She sold me on it when she told me what great results she had.  She's in my age bracket and had the same issues losing weight after 40 that I've had.  So I purchased the program and started my 24-Day Challenge today.  (If you're interested, please send me a private message for more information as I am now a distributor as well).

Rik will again be doing the T25 eating plan.  Both programs focus on portion control, no processed sugar, and healthy meal choices.  Rik's will be high in protein.  Mine will follow the program exactly which requires a 1/2 cup portion of complex carbs, 4-6 oz of lean protein, and 1 c. of vegetables per meal with one meal being replaced with a shake that I purchased with the program.  Since I don't generally eat a big breakfast, I'm using the meal replacement shake for that meal.  

So it's been a full day.  I was a little (I'm lying about the little part) sad about not making my coffee this morning.    

However, the replacement energy type drink that I purchased more than made up for any energy lag, even for a Monday morning.  Gotta say, I was pretty impressed!  I purchased the Watermelon Spark and the Citrus Spark.  This was the watermelon.  It tastes a little bit vitamin-like, but it's good.  And I didn't miss the caffeine that I normally get from my coffee.

So here's the day:

Rik on the T-25 Eating Plan
Breakfast:  1 cup of cooked oatmeal

Morning Snack:  2 hard boiled eggs

Lunch:  2 small pita pockets with homemade egg salad using               Greek yogurt instead of mayo

Dinner:  8 oz Turkey/Hamburger Meatloaf (recipe below)
               1.5 cups steamed broccoli and yellow squash with Butter Buds

Me on the Advocare Eating Plan
Pre-Breakfast:  Three Catalyst supplements
                           Watermelon Spark

Breakfast:  Fiber Drink from the program
                   Vegan Chocolate meal replacement shake blended with
                  1/4 cup fresh raspberries
                  1/4 banana

Morning Snack:  15 Hazelnuts

Lunch:  1 cup cooked barley
              1 cup steamed asparagus
              5 oz. grilled chicken
              Three Catalyst supplements

Afternoon Snack:  1 Granny Smith apple, sliced and baked at 350 degrees
                              sprinkled with 1 packet of Truvia and about 1 tsp of cinnamon

Dinner:  4 oz Turkey/Hamburger Meatloaf (recipe below)
               1 cup steamed broccoli 
              Three Catalyst supplements
              Two OmegaPlex supplements
(I accidentally ate too big a serving of carbs at lunch so I cut them out of dinner)

Evening Snack:  I'm allowed an evening snack, but I'm not sure I'll eat it.  However, just for the sake of thoroughness, its:  
               Chia Seed Pudding using:
                           2 Tbsp Chia seeds
                           5 red raspberries, smooshed
                           1 Medjool date (chopped, placed in hot water, and then blended)
                           1/4 tsp. vanilla
                           3 Tbsp. Coconut milk
                           1/4 cup coconut water

Before Bed:  Three cleanse tablets

Here's the meatloaf recipe.  If you're looking for step-by step with pictures, you can click here for those along with another recipe for meatloaf which is super tasty too.  This one just caters to the no bread (I usually use bread crumbs) that are a requirement on my Advocare eating plan.  

Healthier Meatloaf  
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3/4 of a Granny Smith apple, grated
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 cup oat flour 
1/4 cup reduced-sugar ketchup (a bit extra for the top)
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Thyme
1/2 tsp. Basil

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees
*Mix all ingredients well and press into a 9 x 9 glass dish.
*Bake for 20-30 minutes until done in the middle.
*Pull the meatloaf out about 10 minutes before it's done and drain it well.  Before putting it back in the oven, lightly coat it with some more ketchup.

So!  I'll keep ya posted.  So far so good.  We're still a bit limited on the working out part, but we're back eating clean.  I'd gained back some of the weight I'd lost originally and found that previous tricks just weren't working like they did the first time.  So this time, I'm saying goodbye to my weekly visit from my friends Ben & Jerry, and my usual Friday trip to Noodles and Company (b'bye Japanese Pan Noodles no shitake) :(  But I've gotta say, it feels good to be eating right again. 

Sunday, July 06, 2014


So THIS just happened! :) :) :)

We've fallen off the wagon.  No, that's an understatement.  We're BRUISED from falling off the wagon. We fell off the wagon, and it reversed, ran over us twice, and left us in the dust.  We can't even see the wagon in the distance anymore.   Yup.  It's that bad.

I recently started a new job and that's taken a lot of time.  I'm unable to work out now that I'm back in physical therapy, so I haven't been exercising like I was.  Rik is preparing for another shoulder surgery, so he hasn't been working out.  Needless to say, we've been eating out a lot and much of it hasn't exactly been healthy, though our 'junk food' now is nothing like it used to be, usually eating salads at Mad Greens, 'Naked Tenders' (boneless, skinless grilled chicken) at Buffalo Wild Wings, or noodles and vegetables at Noodles & Company.  Though honestly, none of it is homemade and none of it is as healthy as food I cook when I do cook.  For some reason, even when talking to a lot of you, there's something about summertime and not wanting to be in the house over a hot stove that makes sitting out on a nice patio somewhere with a basket of wings and a cold beer a more enjoyable way to spend your mid summers' eves!  And we've had more than a few of those!!

But, now that things are getting into a routine at the new job (which I love!!), I'm going to try to do better about getting our eating back under control. Starting tonight.  

Rik found this cool little gadget (did I mention he loves gadgets?) called a Spiralizer that you can find for about $10.  It looks just like this (but mine is white).  We did our usual Sunday grocery shopping routine and, our decision to do better about eating in the forefront of our minds, purchased three zucchini's that I vowed to use somehow for dinner.  Here''s what happened next!

(I still don't have a name for this!  It's just...)


1/2 c. raw cashews
1 c. hot tap water
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
3 zucchini, washed well and ends cut off
1 chicken breast, grilled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1/2 cup red onion, diced fine
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 c. chopped tomatoes
1 ear of corn, kernels removed
1/4 cup Kalamata olives
1 tsp. basil
Garlic salt to taste
1 tsp. sea salt
Vegetable steamer with water set on medium/high

Take the raw cashews (no substitutions: they cannot be roasted or this won't work) and soak them in the cup of hot water for at least 30 minutes.  Once the 30 minutes is up, remove the nuts and set aside the water you used to soak them in.  Put the soaked nuts into a blender with about 1/4 of the reserved water, and blend. You'll need to add water to make it the right consistency.  Think Alfredo sauce. Blend it until you get that nice, creamy sauce.  Once this is ready, set it aside. The way I did it for this recipe is I set the nuts to soak, did the entire rest of the recipe, and then made the sauce toward the end.  I'll mark it for you in the recipe :)

Chop your vegetables and set them aside.  NOW it's time to have fun!  Take your zucchini and use the Spiralizer. This turns them into spaghetti type noodles!  I had them fall directly into the vegetable steamer like so >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Put the lid on, and set them to steam.  You're almost done!

In a small saucepan, heat up your olive oil.  Saute the chopped onion and garlic until they're soft.  Add in the cashew cream that you made at this point, and make sure you turn the heat down to a low medium so it doesn't scald.  Stir it slowly and well until it's heated through.  Add in the chopped tomatoes, chicken, and basil.  Use salt and garlic salt to taste.  The measurements for the salt/garlic salt I've left off on purpose as everyone likes this at a different amount.  Use your own taste buds to make it perfect for you.  

Finally, add in the corn and the olives and heat briefly until they're warm also.  By now your "noodles" should be nicely steamed but not tooooooo steamed.  It should look just like this: >>>>>>>>>

I used tongs to put a good serving of the zucchini 'noodles' on each plate and then topped them with a good few scoops of the creamy chicken mixture.  I'm being perfectly honest here:  I'm pretty hard to impress with my own cooking.  But THIS...this was delicious.  As in, good enough to share with you!  Good enough to get me off my quickly growing butt over the past few weeks and share it with you before I even cleaned the kitchen after dinner!!!!  THIS was good enough to serve company. down to business.  You can make this vegan by omitting the chicken.  There is no dairy, and it would taste every bit as good without the chicken.  

Don't have all of the vegetables I've listed here?  Exchange them for whatever you've got on hand!  Even the olives.  The basics of this recipe are the cashew cream (follow that exactly) and vegetables.  Any combination you have would be good.  Add in a protein (grilled tofu would work great!), and serve it over noodles.  Or over steamed spinach!  Or over a bed of rice or quinoa!  The basic recipe is:

1/2 c. raw cashews
1 c. hot water
2.5 cups of whatever vegetables you have on hand (frozen work too!)
Seasonings to taste
Something to serve it over

That's it.  Remember: a recipe is only a guideline.  You're under no obligation to make it exactly as written, mine included!  Use what you have on hand!  That's how all of the recipes like the one above come into being.  The corn?  I had an ear of corn left that didn't get eaten over the 4th of July.  The tomatoes?  I bought a little box of grape tomatoes that we didn't finish last week that were starting to wrinkle.  The onion and garlic were a 'gimme' cuz I love onion and garlic, but the rest were things that I had on hand that just needed using and I thought would taste good together.  That's all there is to it!  

Here are the stats!

Time spent:     30 minutes
Servings           3
Calories per    320
Protein           14.4 g
Fiber                2.8 g
Potassium       56.5 mg

As a bonus, it also has 30% of your daily dose of vitamin C, 13% of your iron for the day, not to mention vitamin A and magnesium!!!  Needless to say, Alfredo sauce wouldn't have any of this.  AND, you're using amazingly fresh summer vegetables chock full of deliciousness!!  Seriously people:  I'd serve this to guests. :)

Come on over!  We'll make another batch!  Cuz we totally ate every single bit of this and left nothing. :)

Monday, June 02, 2014

Just A Quickie Part Deux

7:00 PM and I'm still at my desk working.  Rik is in the other room muttering angrily to his laptop (first day of school and the website isn't working right), and my "what do you feel like for dinner" question was met with my favorite answer EVER:  "Surprise me!"  (yay me... sigh...)

When in doubt, grill meat.  Especially meat you find on sale.  Yup.  Yay me.  For real!  

Here was dinner:  

I found a London broil on sale for $9 that will easily provide leftovers for the week.  Since we're eating clean again, I decided to forgo marinade as it's usually full of sugar and stuff, and used a rub.  I used the store brand BBQ rub and it was fantastic!  Only 11 calories per serving (took 3 servings to cover the cut of meat)!  

And aluminum foil is my new summer friend.  I sliced mushrooms and onions and put them in a foil packet with a single pat of butter on top.   Put mushrooms on first, then top that with onions, and then the pat of butter.  Seal it up so that all that moisture from the veges cooks them and all the juice from the onions flavors the mushrooms.  Mmmm....

I cut the corn cobs in half, and wrapped two to a pack in foil after sprinkling them with grilled vegetable season that I picked up a few weeks ago that we've become addicted to that of course was just a promo at the store and I now can't find anywhere!  (sad face).

After the grill was hot, I put the foil-wrapped vegetables on first.  I put them on the half of the grill I'd preheated to medium and the other half on high.  Set the timer for 10 minutes, and when it went off, I tossed the meat on the grill turning it once after about 8 minutes until it was pink on the inside.  

And HERE was dinner!

With very little leftovers save the meat!  My entire meal, including watermelon for dessert, was a total of 364 calories and took about 10 minutes to prep with almost no cleanup! :D  

So Grasshopper.  When you too are met with the "Surprise me" answer when you were actually hoping for direction: Grill.  Meat.  And veges.  You won't disappoint!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trying Something New

I have cooker's block.  I'm having a hard time coming up with new recipes that are even the remotest bit interesting.  Well, at least up to last night!  I'm hoping that the bad streak is over and I am now once again capable of coming up with food ideas that we won't completely hate or become tired of.  

Here was last nights fare.  I used some tomato basil fettuccine noodles that I'd forgotten about that we picked up last year (or the year before?) on one of our adventures.  And I've gotta say, this was absolutely stinkin' fantastic.  Here's the recipe (and yes, I totally named it after myself):  :)

Pasta Melanesca 
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
8 oz of dry pasta of your choice
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
A good sprinkle of red pepper flakes
2 Roma tomatoes (or 1 cup chopped tomato any variety)
1/4 cup red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/4 cup red wine (or substitute chicken broth)
1 Tbsp. Oregano (I used dry.  Double this amount
1 Tbsp. Basil                       if you use fresh herbs)
Salt to taste
1 grilled chicken breastm chopped or shredded

Cook the pasta al dente to your own liking.  Heat the olive oil in a fry pan big enough to fit all of the remaining ingredients and saute the fresh garlic, onion, and bell pepper along with a good sprinkle of red pepper flakes for 2 minutes just until the veges are soft.

Add in the tomato, parsley, olives, wine, chicken breast, oregano, and basil.  Season with salt to taste. This doesn't make a sauce.  It just seasons the fresh vegetables.  Make sure that this is heated through completely and allow some of the wine to cook off.

Drain your pasta well.  Add it to your plate and top with a good scoop of the vege mixture and enjoy!

Here are the stats.  It took me approximately 20 minutes start to finish.  The longest time spent was chopping the vegetables.  This serves two.  Well, it might serve more, but we were super hungry after working out, so let's just say it serves two, but they're nice big portions! :)

Time Spent  20 minutes.
Calories        326
Fat                  2.1 g
Cholesterol     30 mg
Sodium        1438 mg
Potassium   495.3 mg
Protein          22.1 g

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Beginning...Again

So I guess I'm NOT alone.  I've heard from a number of your over the past month or so who (like me) have apparently been struggling with motivation.  And I tell you (like I tell myself) that sometimes life just happens. Sometimes it's all we can do to keep up with the things we have to do to keep moving, and that doesn't include actually physically moving.  Over the course of the last 6 weeks when I've not been moving regularly, I've gone through periods of chiding myself, guilting myself, eating poorly sometimes out of sheer rebellion, and generally feeling pissed off that I just.  don't.  care.  

In the meantime, summer has started.  Everything is green and fresh and new. And though my resolve hasn't quite dug in yet to the degree that it sustained me up until about 6 weeks ago, I'm really going to try to leave the rebellion and guilt behind and just try to grab the rails of that wagon once again.  As it happens, over the course of the last 6 weeks that I haven't worked out regularly or even eaten well (there were THREE pizza boxes in our trash can when I took it to the curb today...I hang my head in shame), I haven't suddenly gained the 20+ pounds I lost over the course of the last year, nor have my arms and legs become sticks devoid of the muscle mass I was slowly increasing.  And when I walked 3.5 miles yesterday around the lake, I didn't drop dead of exhaustion.  This leads me to believe that A) I'm an idiot; and B) I've not done permanent harm to by fitness.  

That being said, I owe YOU an apology.  I dropped off the face of the blog and in doing so, I've let you down.  For that I am genuinely sorry.  There are no excuses.  

We hit a wall.  Can't eat another mouthful of brown rice, quinoa, or grilled chicken breast.  So this week, Rik sat down and gave me some recipes that he wanted to try for something different.  Yes, some of the recipes contain chicken and some contain brown rice.  But they DO represent a change while still maintaining a clean eating regimen.  I spent a couple of hours yesterday afternoon working on these and they went really quick. I didn't take the usual step-by-step pics to post to you, but I didn't want to let that keep me from posting altogether, so I'm going to just post pictures of the finished products along with their recipes.  All were super easy to do, basically adding all of the ingredients to the bowl at once and giving them a good stir.  A few aren't original recipes of my own creation so I will link their source.  

Vegetarian Black Beans and Rice

1 cup Cooked brown rice
1 cup Cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Roma tomato diced
2 Green onions diced
1 tsp. Chili powder
1 tsp. Cumin
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a pan and heat through. Make sure you stir it frequently.  

This is a fantastic and tasty way to use up the rest of your brown rice or bean leftovers at the end of a week.  I had cooked rice from Thursday that needed to be used, and a Ziploc bag full of half the black beans that I cooked (cooked too much) last month, so this literally took me about 5 minutes to make.

Serving Size:  2 cups
Calories   380 
Protein     17 g
Carbs      70 g
Fiber       17 g
Fat            4 g

Lentil Lime Salad
1 cup Cooked green lentils
1 medium carrot, shredded
3 large radishes chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 Celery stalk, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
The juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 tsp. Sesame Oil
1/2 tsp Cumin
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Let this sit over night to blend.  

This recipe is based on a Beachbody recipe of the same name.  It can be found here.  I just added more vegetables.

Serving size is the entire recipe.  
Calories   326
Protein      19 g
Carbs        49 g
Fiber         18 g
Fat             8 g

Southwestern Salad
2 cups Cooked brown rice
1-1/2 cups cooked black beans
1 cup Frozen corn, thawed
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
3 Green onions, chopped
1 Medium jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1/4 cup White wine vinegar
1/2 cup Fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. Chili powder  

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator for flavors to combine.  

This recipe is a Beachbody recipe found here

Serving size 1 cup
Calories   157
Protein      5 g
Carbs     26 g
Fiber        5 g
Fat           4 g

Chicken Salad
9 ounces of grilled chicken, shredded or cubed (this is approximately 1-1/2 chicken breasts grilled or 1-1/3 cup shredded cooked chicken in total)
1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. Mayonnaise (I used Veganaise)
1 Stalk of celery, chopped
1/4 tsp. Thyme
Salt to taste

Shred or dice the chicken.  
Add in the yogurt and mayo.
Add the celery, thyme, and salt to taste.  

This is enough for 3 sandwiches.  If you use 2 slices of sprouted whole-grain bread, the stats are as follows:  

Calories   349
Protein      35 g
Carbs       33 g
Fiber          6 g
Fat             8 g

So that's it.  This is what's in our fridge for the week for lunches, along with the usual bags of sliced fresh vegetables and, now that summer is almost here, tons of fresh fruits.  Sigh...I love this time of year.  And it doesn't appear that we gave up and returned to the couch to sit and grow rotund.  So if we can do it, so can you.  Thanks for helping me get motivated.  :)  See ya soon!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Single Post...

This short video made me cry.  Granted, it doesn't take much most days.  Especially lately for some reason. But it made me wonder.

Say I succeed and lose the weight I want to lose.  Then what?  

Will my skin ever be tight enough?  My stomach flat enough?  Will the loss of the 2 inches that I've had in height since my accident continue to bother me?  Will I ever be able to keep the sun spots off my face for good?  Will my arms ever be strong enough?  

The change that hasn't happened yet is the one in my head.  The one that tells me, regardless of how my outside is shaping up, that it's not as good as.  That it's not good enough.  I say I want to be healthy.  What I hear in my head is, I want to be perfect.  But I'm finally realizing that's an unattainable goal.  Not because I couldn't get into the picture of health at a weight good for my height and age, but because it's not possible in my own head.  And I'm not alone.

How sad is that?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Once Again...

...the week is totally getting away from me with overtime and absolutely ZERO inspiration for some reason lately <sad face>.  But here's a tasty recipe for salmon (or so Rik says! I don't eat fish) that I came up with on Sunday.  And it will take you about about 20 minutes start to finish with no dishes to wash when you're done!

Honey Citrus-Glazed Salmon 

2 salmon steaks each about 5-6 oz 
The juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. honey
  • Rinse your salmon steaks well.  
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  • Juice your lemon and add the honey.  Put this in the microwave for about 15 seconds just until the honey melts enough to incorporate into the lemon juice.  
  • Take 2 pieces of aluminum foil and place them on the counter top and set a salmon steak onto the middle of each.  
  • Stir the lemon and honey mixture well and divide evenly over the two steaks.  
  • Fold the tinfoil edges over the salmon steaks to create a little air-tight packet and carefully place them in a glass baking dish or on a cookie sheet.  
  • Pop this into the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily.  
This would be great served with a side of fresh steamed asparagus or a bowl of salad for a light dinner.  I actually cooked them on Sunday and had them ready for Rik to pack in his lunch this week for extra protein and a nice change from the chicken that he's getting bored with.  

Here are the stats:  

Time spent  20 minutes
Calories      327 per steak
Protein         36 g

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I Had A Thought

Not many...just the one.  I posted this on social media and someone I care about deeply responded that it would be much easier to love their own body if it looked like the one in the meme.

And that's when the thought happened.  Because I too have that complicated relationship with my own body. We tussle between love and hate with relatively little space in between.  I'm 44.  My legs are still as long as they ever were.  But the thighs jiggle more than I remember them jiggling in the past.  My belly isn't as tight as it used to be, and the new scars that I picked up after my last surgery 6 months ago, well, those are still something that the rest of me still sees as Foreigners.  I can't quite look them in the eye yet.  And let's not forget The Girls who just aren't as perky as they were 20 years ago.

"This body"....  THIS body.  Usually said with scorn more heavily-laden as we age...

Yes.  THIS body.  THIS body that surprised me at the age of 20 by letting me know it was going to give me a son who would make it his life's work to help people reach their potential and learn to love their own bodies.  THIS body that saw me through a bad relationship and into the one that would give me a second son whose plan is to (and whom I believe will!!) conquer the world.

THIS body who worked tirelessly to run a business and raise 2 kids alone. THIS body who crossed a street one winter night and used itself to protect the ME that it houses when a car came out of nowhere.

THIS body that was unwilling to stay broken.

THIS body.  This body who saw me through times that were so hard, some New Years Eve's were spent with the wish that this year might just be a little better than the year before.  Nothing huge:  just a little bit easier than the year before...please...

THIS body who I counted on to run when I needed to run.  To keep me going when I really just needed to sleep.  To stand me tall when what I wanted most was to crumple.  THIS body who took the beatings life handed out sometimes over, and over, and over again, but still kept going, reliable and fierce.

THIS body.

THIS body is the one I have earned.  THIS body is the the map of my life.  THIS body, the one I inhabit  today with its scars, it's marks, it's flaws...This body has been with me from Day One.  It's been with me through everything.  THIS body is the shape of the woman I am today.  And as much as I want to see it as something separate from ME, the precious package it holds safe inside, we're the same entity.  And as I've grown and changed, my body is doing that with me.  Right now our focus is on being healthy.  But our focus in the past has been on everything from perfect happiness to survival.  We did it together.

Just as the ME that is inside it has grown and changed, together we're changing the outside.  And THIS body will continue to reflect the changes going on on the inside as it becomes stronger alongside, keeping pace.

But THIS BODY.  I owe this body everything.  <3

Monday, April 07, 2014

One Of Those Weeks

So last week was one of those weeks...if it wasn't overtime, it was something else, and I didn't cook a single dinner last week.  I'm hoping this week is better!  

Here are this weeks' receipts.  I spent a total of 131.22 on food products for the week.  Yah... we were out of a lot of stuff!  

This week at some point we'll plan for White Beans with Rosemary and Caramelized Onion (recipe here), grilled chicken with rice and steamed asparagus that has been my lunch staple for the last few weeks that I want Rik to try because it's super easy for his lunch, and the Turkey Tacos we're having for dinner tonight (recipe here), this time on Napa cabbage leaves instead of the gross tortillas we tried last time (or the absolutely delicious ones from the Mexican bakery down the road that I don't buy because I'll eat them all!).

Here's what it bought:  

This week, we're both tweaking our intake.  Rik is going for more complex carbs as he's still trying to work out the kinks in his new workout plan.  I'm adding more protein, hence the tofu and egg whites.  I did our usual weekend baking, but a shortened version spread out over both days.  Just didn't have the energy this week that I usually have.  

I know that I've talked to many of you as you've struggled through rough spots in your own weight loss and fitness journeys.  I maaaaayyyy be going through one of those myself at the moment.  I'd been working out every day until about 10 days ago when I was exercising and lost all of the feeling in my left leg.  As in, it was completely just gone.   I know I have a few herniated discs from my accident and figured I'd aggravated something.  But after about a week of this coming and going along with other rather alarming symptoms, I decided it was time to see the doc.  He said steroids for 10 days, and then "we'll talk" about surgery. Tomorrow is day 10 and I'm nowhere near ready to have any such talk!  But the fact is, I'm not getting much better.  So we'll see what the spine surgeon says next week.  The hardest part has been not being able to work out and that feeling like all that good progress that I was making is slowly slipping away.  Yes, I realize that's not really how it works.  But still.  I'm a little nuts.  What can I say? :)

I ONLY write this because, from the outside, it can look like this whole working out and being healthy "thing" is easy.  Sure, we've got some things down to a science.  But we struggle too sometimes.  Like everything usually is, this is a temporary setback.  Either I'll end up requiring surgery after which I'll recover and start over again, or I'll be told I can push through the hurt and continue to get stronger now.  Sure, I have my preference as to which outcome that will be!  Frankly, I'd be happy never to have another surgery for the rest of my life.  But it is what it is and we'll get through it like we do everything.  But I want to be honest with you all too: Sometimes it's just plain hard.  :)

In the meantime, since Rik is going for more complex carbs mainly vegetables, I focused more on packing him easy to grab portions. I made him Ziploc bags full of sliced raw veggies along with 1/4 cup portions of low sodium French Onion dip made with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, put in single small bowls for him to pack in his lunch.

And of course all the grilled meat, then measured out into 6 oz portions and bagged so he knows what to track for his intake.  :)

So, here's to hoping this week brings more meals spent at home and less at restaurants.  To more time moving and less time on the couch.  And to more positive mind space than negative.  Because, ya know, sometimes we all just have one of those weeks.

Talk to ya soon! 


Friday, March 28, 2014

Just A Quickie

I'm still working a lot of overtime this week, so my apologies that I haven't been posting.  But here's a quick one before the weekend, which reportedly is supposed be absolutely stinkin' gorgeous!  If you decide to grill this weekend (like we probably will!) but want to keep your calories down, try these!  This recipe serves 2.

Stuffed Portabello Caps in Balsamic Vinegar

4 Portabello mushrooms
1 c. Shredded zucchini
1/2 c. Onion, chopped fine
1/2 c. Barley
1/4 c. Red bell pepper
1/2 Granny Smith apple, shredded
1 c. Spinach leaves, chopped 
1 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste 
Balsamic vinegar
4 slices of Muenster cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  

In a large bowl, combine the onion, barley, bell pepper, spinach, apple, zucchini, rosemary, and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Trim the bottom of your portabellos removing any dirt that might cling to the stalk (I just chopped that part off and threw it away).  Then dice up the stalks and add them to your stuffing mixture.  

In a large glass dish, pour about a quarter-sized drizzle of balsamic vinegar and swirl it out with your finger to set the caps on, and then place them upside down as pictured.

Pour another drizzle of balsamic vinegar onto the upturned mushroom caps.  Just a drizzle as a little bit of balsamic goes a long way!

Take a good handful of the stuffing and pack it just a bit like you would a snowball.  It won't stick together well, but will work for getting it into the cap.  Place this into your upturned mushroom cap.

Once your caps have been filled, distribute any filling that remains in the bowl evenly among the caps and place the pan in the oven.  

Allow them to bake for about 12-15 minutes.  You can check to see if they're done by checking the temperature toward the middle of your stuffing.  If it's steaming inside, it's nearly done.  

When this happens, place a slice of cheese over the top of each stuffed cap and allow to bake for another 2-3 minutes just until the cheese melts.  

Once the cheese has melted, remove the pan from the oven and serve immediately.  This would go well with a side salad or grilled asparagus with garlic.  

Substitutions:  You can totally sub out any of the vegetables here.  I chose these mainly because I had a zucchini and hunk of red pepper that needed using, and half a Granny Smith apple left over from a smoothie that I didn't want to waste!  But you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand for a total of about 3 cups.  You can also substitute the barley for another grain such as quinoa, rice, or even bulgar wheat if you want to keep it vegetarian.  OR, you can use the same amount of cooked ground turkey or beef for added protein.  

Here are the stats:  
Serving size:  1 stuffed cap
Time Spent:   30 minutes total
Calories         97
Carbs            19 g
Protein          3.5 g
Fiber             7.8 g
Potassium    164 mg

Have a happy and healthy weekend!  Don't forget to get outside if you can and enjoy almost-spring!  After all, it might snow next week!