Tag Archives: Pavlovas

A Tale of Two Pavlovas and a Day in the Life

Baklava Pavlova

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was excited about my pavlova plan for last night. It’s a little creation I like to call “Baklava Pavlova”… because that’s fun to say, and because it has the nut and honey combo that makes baklava so darn tasty! I mixed 1/2 a tsp of Tupelo honey with 2 Tbsp. of Greek yogurt to make the creamy topping, topped that with chopped cinnamon almonds, and then drizzled another 1/2 of a tsp of honey over the top. I think this one might have been my favorite of the four pavlovas, although tonight’s was pretty awesome too!!!

Since I have to sit through a lawyeriffic conference for the next two days (whilst trying to avoid munching on the breakfast and lunch buffets out of boredom…), I decided to just go ahead and do my weekly “day in the life” food journal post today. I was also working from home, which typically results in less interruptions. So, here it is…

Breakfast was a latte made with unsweetened vanilla almond breeze and a bit of sugar free Torani white chocolate syrup. Unsweetened vanilla almond breeze is, hands down, my favorite non-dairy milk. I really love the stuff! I also had a bowl of oat bran topped with five strawberries, 1/2 an ounce of chopped cinnamon almonds from Trader Joe’s and 1/2 of a Tbsp. of honey. I’m so excited about the oat bran purchase, and this bowl was delicious. Amazingly, it kept me full until lunch, and I didn’t need to go looking for an 11:00 snack.

BreakfastI love oat bran!! I’m also a big fan of anything involving honey and nuts. Speaking of honey, do you know the Van Morrison song, “Tupelo Honey?” I’m a fan of it. I was thinking of it when I chose the Tupelo honey over the other honeys at the store. If I need to laugh, I just listen to that song and focus on the back up singers. They make the song. Their part is hilarious. Speaking of focusing…. Sorry about that…. 

Oat Bran, Strawberries, Cinnamon Almonds and HoneyFor lunch, I made a salad with Boston butter lettuce, roma tomato, carrots, onions and celery and then topped it with my favorite creamy dressing. 

Hummussy SaladMy dressing is made of 1 Tbsp. of Greek yogurt, 2 Tbsp. of Forty Spices Hummus, and a little bit of salt and then thinned out with a bit of lemon juice. Since there are about a zillion flavors of hummus available, the possibilities for this dressing seem endless.

Hummus, Yogurt and Lemon... Yum!I also had a serving of my “Big Batch” Broccoli and White Bean Bake  and some leftover spinach and mushrooms topped with a bit of parmesan cheese. I think the casserole is getting better by the day, and I’m really loving the beans!

Broccoli and White Bean Bake

For lunch dessert, I had a bowl of TJ’s fruit and fiber cereal with some dried peaches and a little skim milk.

Lunch DessertTime sort of got away from me this afternoon. I spent a lot of the day on the phone with my boss and with the analysts I work with trying to get things squared away before my two day hiatus. At some point,  I realized that I was past due for a snack so I doubled up and had a bowl of fresh pineapple and a piece of peanut butter toast with sugar free jam.

PB&J Toast and PineappleAfter that, I had a vitatop…

Chocolate Vita TopThat was followed by one last snack before I went to kickboxing. Despite being sick, I’ve mostly kept up with my workout schedule. It has been tough to muster up the energy to go, but I find that I feel better afterwards. At the very least, my nose unstops for a little while. I went to class tonight since I can’t go tomorrow during lunch, and I needed something that would hold me past my usual dinnertime and through the class. Siggi’s Pomegranate and Passion Fruit (with its 16 grams of protein) was the winner along with some Fiber One. I tried the orange and ginger flavor last week and posted about it. I tried the blueberry yesterday, and really liked it. I’d been saving this one since it involved pomegranate (which I LOVE), thinking that it would be “blow my mind” good. Unfortunately, the passion fruit flavor is predominant, and, well, I don’t love passion fruit. I think that the orange and ginger is my fave, and I’ll definitely be stocking up on it and the blueberry in the future. 

Siggi'sAfter class, I made dinner: crispy kale and tacos made with 96/4 ground beef, Cabot 75% reduced fat sharp cheddar, Pepitos corn tortillas (2 for 1 point!), and some salsa. I love tex mex, and I can usually get a fix with something as basic as this.

Crispy Kale and TacosFinally…. Pavlova’s swan song. I ate the last of my four little pavlovas this evening. I’m going to be sad when I don’t have one to eat tomorrow night, but I’m determined not to get into a pavlova addiction/dessert rut. The last pavlova was topped with some fat free cool whip, a Tbsp. of Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter, and fresh strawberries. It was a pretty classic flavor combo with a bit of peanut buttery goodness mixed in, and it was yummy. I think that the Baklava Pavlova was my favorite, but this one is probably the runner up.

Pavlova's Swan Song

If you were dressing a pavlova, what would yours be wearing? 

I had a pretty yummy day!! Now I need to pack a bunch of snacks for tomorrow and head off to bed. These conferences always seem to involve buffets of pastries in the morning and buffets of mayonnaisey salads and cardboardy desserts at noon. I’m not planning to avoid the free food altogether. I just suspect that, if this is similar to other events I’ve attended, most of the food may not really be worth my points. That means I need to be prepared with things that I would prefer to eat so that I don’t eat the other junk out of boredom or hunger. I may sneak a few photos, and I will definitely tell you how it goes tomorrow including whether any of the food makes the cut and finds its way onto my plate!!

A few tidbits to wrap up:

Tina– you will be getting some interview questions from me tomorrow or Friday so get ready! I can’t wait to learn more about you!

BSI!!!

Don’t forget to submit your BSI entries to me at melodylawgirl@yahoo.com by midnight on Sunday, March 1st. This week is BSI: Black Beans. I’ve received one luscious looking entry so far, and updated the post so check it out!

Other Awesome Contests!!

Check out this awesome granola that Heather is giving away at Hangry Pants.

Also check out this fun giveaway going on at Mara’s site!

Goodnight, y’all!

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

Pavlova’s First Encore and My First Blog Interview!!

 

Berry Strawberry Pavlova

As you can see above, my second little pavlova was wearing “Very Strawberry Couture” with accessories by “Fat Free Cool Whip” to dinner last night. I think she looked awesome in red, although I’ve come up with an idea for her “outfit” for tonight’s dinner that takes a bit of a different approach. I can’t wait to share it with you tomorrow!

I decided to take a little walk to the store yesterday for some berries to go on my pavlova, even though I was still not feeling 100% better. I can only stand to be cooped up for so long! I picked up a box of Yogi Cold Season Tea too, and I’ve been sipping it non-stop just because it is pleasant and somewhat soothing. I stayed home from work yesterday rather than share my germs with my colleagues, but I went in to the office today. I think it was a bad choice. The looks I got from my boss and colleagues confirmed it. I’m planning to work from home tomorrow, and I’m so thankful that I will not have to wake up in the morning and play the “do-I-go-in-or-do-I-stay-home?” game. This tea is a good one if you are feeling under the weather, so I thought I’d mention it. I hope, however, that you are feeling right as rain!

My Yogi

Now, that you’ve seen what pavlova is wearing, it is time for the interview! I’ve been pondering my answers to the great interview questions I received from Brandi at Branappetit. Thanks for the interview, Brandi! I’ve never been interviewed via blog before, so I’m excited! If you think you would like to be interviewed, please read the directions at the bottom of this post. It is my duty to pass the torch, and I might just pass it to you!

Here are Brandi’s questions and my answers:

1. What is your favorite thing about blogging? 

If I have to pick just one thing, I think my favorite thing has to be the sharing of information and ideas that goes on within the community. While cooking, writing and photography are all fun things to do, they aren’t nearly as much fun if I don’t share my recipes, thoughts and photos with others. I love presenting my ideas and thoughts and then seeing how people respond. There are so many awesome commenters and bloggers out there, and for every idea I share, I seem to receive twenty great new ideas and a well of endless creative inspiration for myself. 

Speaking of new ideas, I read about oat bran on several different sites recently (including Heather’s) , and decided to pick up a container of it yesterday while I was on my little shopping excursion. I had no idea what I was missing all this time! The nutritional profile is amazing, and the flavor and texture are so filling and comforting! A serving of the kind I bought is only 1 ww point (you get an insane amount of yummy goodness for 1 point!!!!), and it had plenty of protein and fiber to really get me through from breakfast until lunch. Oat bran has probably been laughing at me as I’ve reached for the oatmeal at Whole Foods for the past 5 years. Now– I know! I mixed up a bowl with Better ‘n Peanut Butter and jelly last night, and I had a bowl “molasses cookie style” for breakfast this morning. I’m hooked!

Oat Bran with PB&J

 

Molasses Cookie Style

Ok, now back to the questions…. sorry about the oat bran distraction…

2. When / how / why did you start your blog?

I just started blogging in January of this year, although I’ve tried it a couple of times before. This time, the experience has been completely different, and I’ve determined that I just wasn’t ready to share my story with the world up until now. I’ve lost 180 pounds in the last ten years, and I’ve certainly learned some things about food, exercise and my relationship with both of those things along the way. Over the past couple of years, I’ve started getting earnest questions from friends, family and co-workers about what I eat, how I’ve lost weight, how much I exercise and that sort of thing. I realized that people could benefit from what I’ve learned from my own challenges and struggles, and if I can use that knowledge to help other people, there might be some silver lining to what I went through when I was carrying around so many extra pounds. 

The funny thing to me is that I didn’t expect my blog to really be a “food blog,” but it has quickly and naturally evolved in that direction. I have to say that it makes perfect sense. I really am passionate about food! I started cooking when I was 8 or 9, and I’ve always loved it. As I have overhauled my eating habits, I’ve overhauled my cooking habits as well. Blogging has shown me that I really want to spend my time writing about all of the delicious foods that I enjoy rather than coming up with tips about things that you should avoid eating at all costs. As I strive for moderation, I know that there is room for everything. Hopefully, the positive feelings I have about the way that I eat come shining through. Food = good = yum! 

3. What is your favorite food?

My answer could probably change minute to minute, but the overall trend would be leaning in the direction of….

Cheese!…CHEESE! I love it. This was the cheese course at my birthday dinner at The Inn at Little Washington, and it was one of my very favorite parts of the meal! Runny, crumbly, spicy, mild, blue, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, cow’s milk…. I love me some cheese. I will admit, that there are a few types that are a bit too smelly for my nose to tolerate without concluding that something has gone awry (gotta love our natural defense mechanisms…), but I’m always willing to at least give the stinky ones a shot. I love a course like this with jam, nuts and dried fruit on the side. It is so elegant, simple and delightful!

4. What is your favorite thing to cook?

Great question! I love baking– muffins, cookies, breads, pies, tarts, cakes… you name it! There is something so magical to me about taking a lot of random ingredients, mixing them together and then finding that they have melded into one. They become transformed after spending a little time in the oven, and that magic never ever ceases to amaze me. I love the finished product, of course, but I truly love the process as well.

There is also something so cozy and inviting about a rack of freshly baked muffins or cookies or other baked yummies cooling on the counter. These are the kinds of things you enjoy while having coffee or tea with a friend. Growing up in a small town in the south, there were plenty of church potlucks, births, deaths and events that usually called for the sharing of food with friends and neighbors. I firmly believe that baked goods scream “we love y’all” louder than anything else. 

Here are some muffins I made recently. If you find some blueberries hanging out at your place, you should give this recipe a try. It is one of my favorites!

Muffins

5. What are 3 tips you can give to others that are losing weight or maintaining a weight loss?

This is such a great question.  Here are three things that I’ve learned that have kept me going, and that I believe will continue to help me on road to losing and maintaining.

1. Pick a strategy that you enjoy and can live with… forever!

I’ve seen some pretty weird diets over the years, and I don’t know how anyone can expect to do well over the long run on a diet where you are only allowed to eat grapefruit… or foods that start with the letter X or… [insert strange restriction here.] That’s just not normal or practical! The world is full of tasty food, and I want to be able to enjoy it! A balanced approach that allows me to have some flexibility, eat healthfully, and munch on an endless variety of foods is the only kind of approach that works for me, and, I’m convinced, it is the best type of approach for most people. 

 I know that I can’t expect to reach some magical goal weight and then ditch the eating habits that got me to that number without expecting to see the scale go back in the heavier direction. I like the foods I eat. I like them A LOT! I’m not sad in the morning that I am going to eat healthy food all day. If I really want a donut, I can have one. I adjust elsewhere. The point is, as cheesy as it sounds, my journey started as a diet and ended as a lifestyle change. The fact that I am happy with the way that I eat gives me confidence that I can maintain my current loss and lose a bit more if I choose to do so. 

2. Actively fight boredom!

I hate boredom when it comes to my food and my workouts! I think the easiest way for me to start to feel deprived is if I’m uninterested in the healthy foods I’m eating. By constantly seeking new things to try and new recipes for old favorites, I keep things interesting and stay content with my healthy fare. I’m convinced that this helps me to stay on track. 

By the same token, if I had to go and spend an hour on one machine in the gym every day, I’m sure that I would go crazy. My exercise schedule has sort of evolved in this way: I started out walking, then I added the elliptical. Soon after, I started running and doing a couple of strength training sessions each week. Following that, I bought a jump rope and a bicycle. My pink boxing gloves were soon to follow.

Hawaiian Punch?

My living room looks a bit like a sporting goods store and my kitchen is usually full to overflowing– thank goodness! I couldn’t be happier with all of the variety. I also just think it is good to try new things and move out of the good old comfort zone from time to time!

3. Set smaller achievable goals on the way to your ultimate goal and reward yourself for your successes.

One of the best ways I know to stay motivated while working hard to reach a long term goal is to set smaller goals along the way. By giving yourself attainable goals on the road to your ultimate achievement, you set yourself up for success. I find that success leads to motivation which leads to more success which leads to motivation… and… you get the point.

I celebrated many small victories (both on and off of the scale) while losing the 180 pounds I’ve lost. One of my first goals was to lose 15% of my body weight– a fairly large amount of weight. I decided that I would buy myself the little silver bead bracelet from Tiffany’s that I had wanted for some time when I reached that goal. Now, when I wear my shiny bracelet and feel it sliding around on my wrist, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come. I wear it every day. I’ve also rewarded myself for reaching small goals with a variety of other things and experiences including new jeans, a heart rate monitor, workout clothes, pedicures, horseback riding, and, most recently, a new chrome trash can for my kitchen! I think it really makes a difference to have a prize in mind, even though I wouldn’t take any of those things over the joy I have with my new healthier body!

The other thing I wanted to mention is that this doesn’t have to be a reward tied to the scale. If you are struggling to get to the gym, set a goal you can reasonably achieve like: I’ll go to the gym three times this week. Decide on a reward for yourself if you reach your goal like… downloading three new workout songs from iTunes. I think if you find something to celebrate every day, you will inspire yourself to great things!

Well, I guess that’s about it for me. Brandi, that was a lot of fun. Thanks so much for sending me such awesome questions!!

If you are interested in being interviewed by me:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”  If a few people want
interviews, I will randomly pick 2.
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the
questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others
in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them
five questions.

I’m excited! If you want to be interviewed, you know what to do!

One more thing, and then I’m going to make dinner (tacos… yum!):

BSI!!!!! Don’t forget that I’m hosting this week’s BSI: Black Beans.  You have until midnight on Sunday the first to submit your original recipes to me!! I do hope you will participate. I’m excited to see everyone’s dishes!

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Filed under BSI, Cooking Light, diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Pretty Pavlova’s and This Week’s BSI!!

Pineapple Topped Pavlova

As I mentioned earlier, I went to see Swan Lake on Friday evening and was distracted by thoughts of fluffy meringues as I watched the graceful “swans” flitting about on the stage in their meringue-y white costumes. I felt inspired to whip up some sort of fluffy creation at home. After giving it a bit of thought, I realized that I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate than mini-pavlovas. After all, they are named after the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. Apparently, I’m not the only one who ponders meringue while sitting at the ballet.

I made individual sized pavlovas, and since I have four pavlovas, I get to come up with four different ways to top them! Fun! The recipe for the pavlovas is naturally weight watcher friendly, so there was not even any tweaking required. Pavlovas are typically topped with fresh berries or some other fresh fruit and perhaps a bit of whipped cream. You could obviously “spend” as many or as few points on the toppings as you would like.

Last night’s choice of toppings was based on what I had on hand. I’m still feeling under the weather, and the weather is still freezing. That means that I’m averse to going outside unless it is absolutely necessary. Ideally, I would have liked blueberries and strawberries on top, but I ate all my blueberries with my yogurt last week. Among the choices in the kitchen, fresh pineapple seemed like the best idea. I did toss a bit of berry jam on top just for a little berry hit.  There is also a layer of fat free cool whip on there but you could obviously whip up some fabulously flavored cream of your own or leave it off altogether. You can top these however you want. Seriously. Trust me when I tell you, ahem, that the pavlova tastes pretty good naked too. Oh, and… did someone say… Nutella?

The recipe is a classic and is pretty basic. My version is based on a variety of sources. The one I found most useful, however, was this one at Dog Hill Kitchen. 

Pretty Pavlova with Pineapple and Berry Jam

Mini-Pavlovas

Ingredients:

2 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar (processed in the food processor to make the sugar finer, but not a powder)

1/2 tsp. vinegar (I used white balsamic fig vinegar)

1/2 tsp. cornstarch

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Beat egg whites in mixer at high speed until soft peaks form.

Add sugar to egg whites one Tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.

Continue beating until you can’t detect sugar crystals when you check it with your fingers.

Spoon meringue mixture into four mounds on a parchment covered baking sheet, placing a small depression in the middle of each mound.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn oven off, crack door open and allow pavlovas to cool until they can be handled.

Fill them with your choice of toppings. I filled last night’s pavlova with pineapple, berry jam and fat free Cool Whip. It was a lovely and light combination. 

Unused pavlovas can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of days, but should be kept out of humid areas. 

Each unfilled pavlova is 2 unofficial weight watcher points. The total for the dessert will depend on your choice of toppings.

Here are a few photos I snapped during the process including a before and after. As you see, the pavlovas are white when they go into the oven, but they turn a lovely creamy color as they cook.

Grinding the Sugar

 

Whip it. Whip it good!

 

Before

 

After

I can’t even begin to tell you how these hit the spot! The pineapple turned out to be a great choice as the fruit was fresh and flavorful, and the pavlova was delightfully crispy yet chewy in the center. AAaaaaahhhh. I can’t wait until I have another one this evening! I’m positive that I’m going to be making these quite often now that I know just how easy they are to make.

In other news, I’m so excited that Beadie has asked me to host this week’s BSI contest!! One of the best things about my blogging experience so far has been meeting so many new people who are passionate about healthy eating, and hearing about the wonderful things they cook in their kitchens. Sarah’s winning Kale Crust Pizza,from last week’s BSI: Kale, is a recipe I’m going to have to try! What a clever use of the BSI!

I can’t wait to see what y’all come up with using the ingredient I’ve selected as the blogger’s secret ingredient for this week’s contest. Are you ready? This week is the week of……… BSI: Black Beans!

They are humble and inexpensive nutritional powerhouses, and, as I find myself eating less and less meat these days, I’ve started incorporating beans into more and more of my recipes. I particularly love the look and flavor of black beans so they were an easy choice for this week’s ingredient. If you are interested in knowing more about black beans, please click on this link to see the information provided on the “World’s Healthiest Food’s” site. Here are a few little facts from their entry about black beans:

  • They are commonly referred to as turtle beans, probably in reference to their shiny, dark, shell-like appearance. 
  • Research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry indicates that black beans are as rich in antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins as grapes and cranberries, fruits long considered antioxidant superstars.
  • These smoky flavored beans are a good source of protein, and when combined with a whole grain such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, provide protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fat found in these foods. 
  • Black beans are a good source of the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. 

Black Beans

Molybdenum… yum! I think the part about the antioxidants is especially cool! Aside from the fact that they are all yummy, what do black beans, grapes and cranberries have in common? Now you know the answer!

There are two ways to enter this week’s BSI contest. 

  1. E-mail a photo of your entry and your original recipe using black beans to me at melodylawgirl@yahoo.com or
  2. Post the recipe on your blog and e-mail me the link.

I’m looking forward to reading about your creative uses of this common little bean! The deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday evening, March 1st. You could be the first BSI winner in the month of March! This week’s BSI contest winner will receive a batch of my molasses crinkle cookies, a selection of my favorite teas and probably a couple of other goodies as well! 

I will be updating this blog post with links as I receive entries, so please check back often to see what people have been cooking up. I can’t wait to see everyone’s yummy dishes!!

This Week’s Entries:

Maggie at Dog Hill Kitchen: Black Bean “Tacos” with Smoked Paprika Shiitake Mushrooms

Erin at Life is Yumbo: Black Bean and Oat Burgers

Jessica at Johnstone’s Vin Blanc: Black Bean Brownies

Brandi at Bran Appétit: Cuban Pork & POM Black Beans

Mara at What’s For Dinner: Latin-Inspired Black Bean Chicken

Spiceaholic at One Bite at a Time: Spiced Black Bean and Potato Cakes

Hallie at Healthy Twists: Fish Tacos with Black-Bean Salsa

Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point: Black Bean Quiche

Ruth at Plentiful Plants: Black Bean Pasta

Sarah at Tales of Expansion: Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Black Bean Salmon-Patties

Beadie at What I Ate Yesterday: BBQ Black Bean Quesadillas

Emily at Super Caloric Chalk Dust: Stuffed Peppers

Becca at Bites of the Day: Black Bean Flatbread

THE WINNER!! Becca at Bites of the Day: Black Bean and Avocado Cornmeal Muffins

Sophia at Burp and Slurp: Black Bean and Pumpkin Pancakes with Coconut

Sophia at Burp and Slurp: Black Bean-Brownie Spread

Sophia at Burp and Slurp: Spicy Black Bean and Pumpkin Pancakes

Biz at Biggest Diabetic Loser: Chipotle Pepper Black Bean Potato Salad

Christina at Dinner at Christina’s: Rice and Beans

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