Tag Archives: Eggs

Zucchini-Feta Gratin from Cooking Light

Zucchini-Feta Gratin

It seems like I haven’t made a new recipe in ages. I may be exaggerating a bit, but I’ve just sort of been making a little of this and that. I haven’t made a “big batch” recipe in weeks! With the warmer weather, I’m just happy putting fresh things together and calling it a meal. I ended my little kitchen hiatus today by making a Zucchini-Feta Gratin using this recipe from Cooking Light Magazine. 

This was an easy recipe, and it resulted in a dish that could be a great choice for entertaining too. I love dishes that look more complicated than they really are. Mwa ha ha ha. Tricky. 

I followed the recipe with only a couple of tweaks.

  • I grilled my squash on the griddler instead of steaming it. Extra flavor? Yes, please!
  • I used a mix of yellow squash and zucchini for a more colorful dish. Plus… that’s what I had in the crisper.
  • I used fresh mint from the pot on the balcony instead of using dried mint as directed in the recipe. Why use dried when I have fresh out on the balcony?!

Let me show you how easy it was:

First, I layered the rice and feta mixture in my pie plate, after spraying the plate well with cooking spray:

Rice CrustI made extra rice this morning when I was cooking the rice for this recipe, and I had one of my favorite little breakfasts– rice, sugar, almond breeze and berries. I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving rice, milk and sugar. YUM! It was a favorite when I was a kid, and it has stood the test of time for me.

Brekkie BreakOk. Back to the recipe. Sorry about that! I love my milky sweet rice! After I had the rice crust in the pie dish, I grilled my squash on the Griddler. Y’all know I love my Griddler. Here he is:

Griddle me This...While the veggies were getting tanned, I chopped up some balcony pot mint:

Minty Fresh GoodnessThe mint went into a bowl along with some freshly ground nutmeg. Nutmeg and eggs are a match made in heaven! I bought some lovely brown eggs at the farmer’s market yesterday (along with the squash and the feta!!) This was a farmer’s market dish for sure!

Eggs

I love pretty brown eggs! 

Once the veggies were grilled, I mixed them with the other half of the feta, the salt and the pepper, and then filled my little rice crust. I sort of used my fingers to spread the veggies around in a nice even layer before I poured the egg mixture on top. After I added the egg mixture, I gave the dish a little tilt–this way and that– to make sure the egg mixture made its way all around the dish.

Ready To BakeIt went into the oven, and forty -five minutes later, I enjoyed a nice wedge of gratin with some TJ’s turkey meatballs (my answer to quickie “meatloaf” for one), and some sliced fresh tomato.

Lunchy LunchWhen I was a kid, I remember how my parents and grandparents would cover a whole plate with fresh tomatoes from the garden after a big dinner. They would add a little salt and then tear into them. It was kind of like the salad course. Me? Did I appreciate the gorgeous, red, homegrown Arkansas tomatoes? Nope. I hated them. What was I thinking??? Crazy.

I got the tomatoes on my lunch plate at the farmer’s market yesterday from some Hanover, VA farmers. They were SO good and very flavorful! I just added a little salt. I wonder where I got that idea? Ha! I think my tomato experience is a good example of why you should try foods that you might have hated as a kid! 

The gratin had a nice flavor, and I love that the edges of the rice crust got a little crispy and browned. I loved the flavor of the fresh mint contrasted with the salty feta. YUM!! I’m sure this would be great made with brown rice, but I’m trying to use up some things from the pantry. This seemed like  great time to use some white rice that has been around for awhile. I’m sure this would be good with steamed veggies, as directed in the recipe, but I’d encourage grilling them if possible. It was delicious, and I can’t wait to have it on my dinner plate over the next few days.

Now that I’ve had a nice lunch, I think I’ll take my bicycle out for another spin. I don’t believe I’ve introduced you. Meet Coby:

CobyYou can’t tell in this photo, but he is sort of a Cobalt blue color– hence the name: Coby. Coby and I went out yesterday for a ride, and it was not smooth sailing. I can’t believe it, but it was our first trip out this summer. Time is getting away from me! Before we left, I aired up the tires using a new pump I bought awhile back. Before I was even a mile from home… the front tire blew out. Ugh! We’d barely gotten started.

Feeling the need to take care of the problem ASAP, I walked Coby to a nearby bike shop. While there, they repaired the tire, and they also adjusted the derailleur because I mentioned that the chain always pops off when I try to shift down into first. I live in an area with some pretty big hills, and downshifting definitely makes them easier to tackle. Forty minutes later, thinking all was well, I hopped back on and resumed my trek. I couldn’t wait to shift down into first. I just knew it was going to make the hills much more tolerable. Feeling confident on the first big hill I came to, I clicked my little gear shifter and… the chain popped off again. Aargh!

I put the chain back on, wiped my greasy paws on some bright green grass, and then enjoyed a pretty nice ride. I did not try to change gears again, but I’m sure that just made me burn more calories on the dastardly hills. 

I bought Coby last summer after being passed by bikers while walking/running on the local trails. It looked like fun! How about you? Do you have a bicycle? Do you ride to work?… for fun?… as a serious athletic endeavor? Does your bicycle have a name? 🙂 I like to go on long rides on the weekends for a bit of a break in my cardio routine. I also love riding down to Old Town Alexandria and having a little picnic by the water. Riding to places that always seemed far away certainly made my world feel smaller. I kind of like that feeling sometimes!

Oh, I almost forgot! I had another Coconut Cream Pie Holey Donut yesterday before my ride. I promised to try to take a photo since the last couple of tries have failed. Here it is:

Coconut Cream PieThis one is my favorite, favorite, FAVORITE of all of the flavors I’ve tried. I’m enamoured.

Speaking of my being enamoured… don’t forget that you still have a few days to save on hottie Jay Robb’s products using a promotion code especially for Just Sweet Enough readers. Check out the bottom of this post for more info.

Now, I’m going to pack a snack and take Coby out for another spin. Wish me luck!

I hope you are having a stellar weekend! I also hope you’ll try the yummy Cooking Light gratin recipe if you are looking for something new to do with summer squash. If you have a garden (or a neighbor with a garden), a bumper crop (or a big bag of squash left on your doorstep in the dead of night) is always a possibility. I know you will want to have this recipe up your sleeve! Ciao for now, y’all! 🙂

24 Comments

Filed under cooking, Cooking Light, diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Checking in On My “Pointless” Month and “The Microwave Scrambler”

Happy Friday and happy weekend to you all!! It is officially one month since I stopped counting Weight Watchers points and started with my new approach. It has been a good month, and I’m still very happy with my decision. I promised a weigh-in post today, and I’m happy to deliver.

Before I get into all of that, I thought I’d tell you about my lunch today. I made a batch of black bean taco filling a couple of nights ago, and immediately started thinking of other uses for the beans. The tortillas I use have to be heated in a skillet in order to be good, so an actual taco wasn’t really a lunchtime option. I’d considered the omelette possibility, but I couldn’t really whip up an omelette at work either. I could, however, do the next best thing and make a scramble! At least, I thought I could. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but here’s what I did:

I put my black bean filling and my cheese in a little container, and put 1/2 cup of egg beaters with some salsa in a bigger container. I didn’t think it would be smart to mix them this morning because I was afraid that the beans might soak up the eggs while sitting in the fridge.

Little Bowl

 

Big BowlWhen lunchtime rolled around, I set the cheese aside and heated up the beans. Then, I mixed the beans into the egg beaters and put it in the micro for 30 seconds.

All Together Now

I took it out, stirred it, and zapped it for 30 seconds more. I repeated the process, and, after thirty more seconds, I had a perfectly respectable microwave scrambler in my bowl!

The ScramblerSince I try to focus on getting plenty of protein in my diet, I often favor eggs over bread when it comes to choosing a food “holder.” I think it was just a matter of time before I figured out how to put this to play at work. The experiment was a success, and I have a whole new option for a quick and easy lunch made with leftover veggies and meats! Hooray for the “microwave scrambler!!”

Shifting gears now, if you are a regular reader you may recall that I decided to stop counting points and worrying so much about weekly weigh-ins because it was becoming counterproductive, and I was feeling like I was in a major rut. You can find the post about my decision to switch here. Almost immediately, I decided to start counting calories because I found that I wasn’t comfortable without some sort of framework. I felt bad about it at first, but now I’ve realized that it is a step in the right direction.

I’ll say it again, Weight Watchers worked very well for me. If you are reading my blog and are currently following the Weight Watchers plan, please know that I don’t mean to be negative or discouraging about WW in any way. It is still in my list of options, and I will return to it in a heartbeat if I find that I’m unable to manage my weight with my new approach. I’d just been doing it for so long that I felt like I really needed a change. I stuck with it for the past four years because it DOES work. 

I discovered some things about the way I’d been eating when I made the switch to calories and went “pointless.” First, I realized that I might have been eating way too much fiber and not enough fat. Admittedly, if I’d been diligent about eating my daily requirement for oil under the WW plan, that might not have been a problem. I’m not sure, and I don’t love math enough to go back and figure it out. What I do know is that I’ve found some higher fat foods to be much more satisfying than what I was eating before, and I’ve felt more satisfied with my food choices over the last month than I have in a long time.

I also realized that I might have been too good at gaming the system. I might have been eating too many zero point foods of the healthy variety, since I knew my zero point options like the back of my hand, and I’ve learned that even my spinach has some calories in it. Well, I knew that, but now I understand it much better! A calorie is a calorie. Period. There’s no formula to apply. There’s something comforting about that to me. 

WW taught me well that eating a bunch of empty calorie foods, although staying within my points, would not necessarily fill me up. That’s a lesson that has carried over, and many of my meals look just the same as they did while I was counting points. One thousand calories worth of chocolate would never keep me full like one thousand calories made up of oat bran, omelettes, fruits and veggies. I think that keeping that in mind when making day to day food choices is key.

When I decided to go “pointless,” I was also struggling with the fact that my weight had stayed the same for the last few months. When I weighed in on March 20th, I was at 159.8. After a week of going “pointless” I dropped down to 153.8. I was so surprised! I think that there is much to be said for shaking things up. Today, the scale said 158.8. So, am I saying that I lost a pound this month? No. I’m getting better at looking at my weight over the course of time and not pinning all of my hopes on one snapshot weigh-in day a week. My weight had stayed around 155-157 for most of the month, but I don’t think that my weekend of eating Williamsburg’s best helped me out much for today’s weigh-in. The thing is, I’m not so freaked out about it anymore.

When I decided to make the switch, I also decided to make healthy choices and just see what happened rather than making myself miserable with the pressure to keep shedding pounds. This has done wonders for me, but I find that it is one of the things I struggle with the most. I’ve been so much more relaxed with my eating this month, and I’ve enjoyed so many things that I would have avoided before. I tend to fall back into the old patterns of worrying about staying on track in order to have a loss more often than I’d like, but I’ve gotten better about reminding myself that I don’t have to lose when I find myself in situations where I want to be less strict– like last weekend. The thing is, after a month of being more relaxed, I haven’t gained back 50 pounds. I’ve hovered around the same number and even lost a little. I needed to know that it was possible to achieve that, and I’m so very happy about it. 

My goals moving forward are to continue to stay around the weight I’m at now, or somewhere below. I really don’t want to gain anything back, but I’m ok with maintaining where I am. I also want to get better at paying attention to hunger signals. I feel like I’ve made some improvements in this area over the course of the month, but I have far to go. I would also like to focus even more on making healthy choices than on the scale number or the calories logged in my Sparkpeople calorie tracker. In other words, I’d like to keep working on eating more intuitively. 

This is an on-going process, and I know that I’ll always struggle with my weight. After this month, however, I’m even more convinced that the struggle is well worth it AND that I have the tools I need to be successful while enjoying my life. Isn’t that, after all, the best of both worlds?

As an example of the new approach in action, I will leave you with this:

LaLoo's LoveI attended a retirement ceremony this afternoon at work, and I decided that I really wanted a piece of the celebratory cake. I actually decided to have cake before I even went to the party so this wasn’t a case of seeing it and wanting it. I just wanted it. Period. I used to avoid the cake completely and munch on whatever fruits and veggies were available. That’s definitely a healthy strategy and one that I rely on often. Today, however, when I had my heart set on cake, it wouldn’t have been the best tactic for purposes of avoiding feelings of deprivation. I had my cake, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Yum! Cake with frosting is a major treat in my book! Striving for some balanced choices, I decided to finish off my LaLoo’s this evening without the usual side of chocolate cake from the freezer since I’d already had my cake today. I had a couple of reduced fat nilla wafers instead. I feel good knowing that I didn’t deprive myself of something I really wanted, and that I found a way to balance that out without guilt or deprivation. I’m figuring this thing out, one bowl at a time. 🙂 

This is post #99. I’m excited!! You’ll be hearing about my 100th post giveaway in my next post. If things go as planned…. that will be happening tomorrow! For now, thanks for reading, and I hope that my experience can be helpful to someone or, at the very least, kind of interesting. Writing it all out is definitely helpful for me. Thanks for reading it. Ciao for now, bloggie friends!

6 Comments

Filed under Beans, Cake, cooking, diet, Fitness, Food, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Nothing says “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” quite like singing muppets! Since this is a blog that is mostly about food, I’d like to point out that the Swedish chef is part of the trio. I love him!! I remembered to wear something green to work this year, so I didn’t get pinched. I even put on some green workout clothes when I headed off to the gym this evening for some strength training and cardio. Better safe than sorry!

The other way I celebrated today was, yep, you guessed it: green foods! I started the morning off with a bowl of oat bran, but this was no typical bowl. I had 1/4 of an avocado in the fridge, and I decided that it was time to try Heather’s raw chocolate “frosting.”Sarah made some a couple of day’s ago, and I decided it was time to give it a try myself. I added 1 tsp of maple sugar, 1 tsp of cocoa powder and splash of water to the avocado and blended it up in the food processor. I think if it had been a bigger batch, it would have blended up better, but it worked out just fine!

Chocolate PuddingIt was interesting, and… good! I love avocado. I love chocolate. I love maple sugar. What’s not to love!? I put my little bit of yummy frosting on top of my oat bran along with some bright red berries.

Morning Oat BranIt was fun to start the day off with something new, and I had a bit o’ green in my morning oats! Yay!!! I had a bit o’ green with dinner too. I’ve been craving egg salad ever since I saw Junglefrog’s batch. Aren’t ideas contagious?! 

Egg SaladI made two servings so I can have more tomorrow. I’m glad, because it was good! I used 2 whole eggs, one egg white, 1 Tbsp. of sweet pickle relish, 1 Tbsp. of light mayo, 1 Tbsp. Greek yogurt, 1 tsp. of dijon, 2 tsp. of chopped walnuts and 1 Tbsp. of fresh dill. There are at least 2 green things in the green bowl. Do I get extra points? 🙂 Each serving is 3 unofficial ww points, and lots of official points of yummy. I had a bit more green on my plate this evening since I ate the last of my roasted broccoli along with my sandwich:

Yummy Greens!

The cottage cheese bread sliced up easily, and toasts up quite nicely. I froze about 12 slices, and we will see how it does after some time in the arctic. I’ve been using the freezer more these days, and I think the key is to remember what’s in there. I found some long forgotten muffins a couple of weeks ago, and I didn’t want to waste them. Freezer burn adds an interesting flavor. I hope to avoid that particular enhancement with the bread. I had a piece with my bulgur chili today topped with a little peanut butter and a chopped up date. It made for a tasty little dessert!

My shoulders are really tight from my strength training workouts on Sunday night and tonight. I’m trying to get better about not shrugging when I lift, but it’s tough! I feel like I need to put on an iPod with a voice that repeats, “roll your shoulders back” ad infinitem. I try to remember to do it during the day when I’m sitting at my desk too. Years of having more weight in various places has thrown my posture a bit out of whack. It’s good to have mini projects in the scheme of bigger workouts, and that is definitely one of mine.

Now, I’m going to roll my shoulders back, eat a few chocolate chips and make a cup of tea. I’m getting wild and crazy here on St. Patty’s Day!! I’ll make sure to sleep in something green. 🙂 I hope you had a great day! Tomorrow is humpday. Hooray!!!

14 Comments

Filed under Bread, diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Friday Weigh-in Stats and This Week’s Favorite Snack

It all started last week with a mix of Trader Joe’s fruity fiber cereal and some pumpkin seeds…

Desk Mix

This week, it picked up steam with a mix of Kashi Honey Sunshine and more pumpkin seeds….

Desk MixThis week’s favorite snack is something I like to call “desk mix.” I love trail mix. I love the mix of crunchy and chewy with sweet and salty. I love nibbling it a piece at a time, but I don’t love the amount of fat and calories some trail mixes contain. If I were on a trail getting some exercise, it might be completely appropriate. Sitting at my desk, however, doesn’t really merit such a hearty snack. As a way to avoid overdoing it on trail mix or getting sucked into the 100 empty calorie pack rut, while still getting a sweet and salty nibbly mix, I started tossing a little baggie of “desk mix” into my lunch bag in the mornings. I’m hooked.

Both of the cereals in the mixes above are 1 point per serving cereals. I add 1/2 a serving of pumpkin seeds, which adds up to a 1.5 point snack. Most 100 calorie packs come in around 2 points on weight watchers, and it seems that most of them offer little in the way of nutrition (although there are a few exceptions, of course). My desk mix has some whole grains, fiber and pumpkin seed goodness, and only takes a few seconds to toss into a baggie in the morning. The Trader Joe’s cereal is great because it has some dried fruit and nuts. The Kashi is awesome because… it reminds me of Cap’n Crunch for grown-ups! I plan to experiment with more mixes like this in the future. If I look a bit like a toddler with my baggie full of cereal– so be it. I think desk mix rocks!!

So– you’ve seen the snacks, now for the stats:

Points Stats

Daily Points Target: 22

Weekly Points Remaining: 0/35

Activity Points Remaining: 21.5/28.5

That’s about normal. I had an additional 21.5 points that I could have eaten, but I chose not too.

Workout Schedule

Friday: off

Saturday: 35 minutes of a cardio and core class with my trainer followed by 35 minutes of running outside in the lovely weather

Sunday: 45 minutes of strength training,35 minutes of cardio combo, 5 minutes of stretching

Monday: off

Tuesday:  45 minutes of strength training, 35 minutes cardio combo, 5 minutes of stretching

Wednesday:  65 minutes of cardio combo (elliptical, running and walking with incline on the treadmill, jump rope intervals and stairmaster) with 10 minutes of core exercise and stretching

Thursday: 60 minutes of kickboxing

I’m happy with my workouts this week. I didn’t quite make it to 30 activity points, but I think it will be easier when warmer weather arrives for good. I’m much more likely to take extra unnecessary walks when I’m not “battling the elements.” The Saturday class was a make up class that my trainer offered in place of a canceled class. It involved a core exercise, followed by a one minute cardio interval, followed by another core exercise… lather, rinse and repeat for 30 minutes. It kicked my butt, but in a good way. I’m glad that I got to do something different on Saturday. The running outside was a bonus!

I feel good about my eating this week too. I ate well, did a better job of listening to what I really wanted rather than spending my points just because I had them, and I really enjoyed my food. What more could I ask for??

I had a good week! How was it reflected on the scale? Well, as I said last night, I had a good idea of how today was going to go. I seem to have been in an upward fluctuation all week long. I’m not sure what the scale is doing, but I don’t care. I’ll tell you why in a minute. My official number this week is 159.6… with a 2.6 pound gain. Why don’t I care? I don’t care because I put on a pair of pants from last summer, when my weight was only a couple of pounds more than what it is now, and they were too big. They were big enough, in fact, that I spent the day a little bit nervous. Unbuttoning was not necessary. I’ve concluded that there is an inches game going on, and, given that I typically wear pants and not my scale out in public, I’m happy with that. Muscle tone? I’ll take it!

I’m also just trying to relax and not stress about it. If you are checking out my blog expecting to see pounds drop like flies, your expectations aren’t the same as mine. I’m just happy trying to lose a few more, while enjoying where I am now and working on my eating skills. I’m trying to develop the mindset where the scale takes a backseat. Goodness knows, the things I can do now that I wasn’t able to do 180 pounds ago are much more rewarding than seeing a certain number between my feet. I know that logically, now I just need to adjust my attitude to match it. I’m working on it, and I know I’ll get there.

I’ll leave you this evening with a photo of my dinner. It was a quick and good one, and I think it deserves a mention!

Avocado Frittata

I sauteed some mushrooms (they are hiding underneath) in my small skillet and then topped it with some egg beaters. After the egg beaters started to set up, I topped it with some avocado, some Cabot 75% light cheddar and a little parmesan. I popped it under the broiler to brown, reheated the last of my roasted broccoli and got out my favorite chipotle salsa. This frittata was inspired by Heather’s awesome avocado eggs. Oh how I love blogspiration!! I also love frittatas. I think they are like little protein pizzas, and I treat them that way with my random choices of toppings. 

Well, I’m off to a club for a friend’s birthday. I think I may be getting too old for the club scene. I’m probably going to spend the next hour trying to figure out what to wear. At least I can eliminate the previously mentioned pants!! 

Question of the night: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever put in/on your eggs?

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!!! 🙂

 

11 Comments

Filed under diet, Fitness, Food, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers