Tag Archives: Pumpkin

Je-diet Mind Tricks

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelette

Hi, friends. It’s the weekend. Woo hoo! Finally some time to catch my breath. It’s been a busy week. Let me catch you up in a hurry. Oh, and the photo at the top is a teaser. I’ll tell you about it in a minute. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • I’ve just finished 10 days of level of one Jillian’s notorious 30 day shred workouts. So far so good. I’m trying to shock my body a bit with some new tricks in my weekly routine, so I’m replacing 20 minutes of my usual cardio with 20 minutes of shredding. I’m still working out with my trainer, and I’m not shredding on those days. I haven’t worked out without resting days in between in a long time, and I’m only planning to do it for a few weeks. I’m not out to create any overuse injuries, but I am trying to shake things up a bit. So far, I feel stronger and I have more energy. The workouts are tough, but I like a challenge. Have you shredded?? What did you think?
  • I just finished the second week of participation in a stair climbing contest at work. One of my favorite co-workers organized us into teams of five, and, each week, we compete to be the team to log the most flights (only ascending flights count). Prizes are awarded weekly. Last week, my team won the contest with nearly 700 flights!! This week, I wasn’t a very useful team member since I was out for training on Thursday and Friday, but I’m sure my team rocked it again this week anyway! They are awesome. Getting a little exercise throughout the day has given me a real boost. It has also made me realize how easy it is to park in front of the computer for hours at a time without moving. Honestly, I’ve also realized that it’s pretty easy to get up and move around too. I hope I can keep it up when the contest is over. 
  • Last Sunday, I went to the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show here in D.C. I attended Tyler’s Ultimate Food and Wine pairing, and had some very tasty nibbles.

The Stage is Set

TylerOk. So, Tyler wasn’t a nibble, but he is rather tasty. Yes? We were also treated to a visit by another Food Network favorite…

SamplingTyler has started making wine, and he was giving Paula a little sample of his wares. 😉 I had a great time at the show, and I sampled a ton of stuff at the expo too. I’m definitely going to try to go again next year!

Now that I’ve given you the quick catch up, I want to talk a bit about the title of this post “Je-diet Mind Tricks.” Over the past few years, I’ve looked for ways to make my food more enjoyable without piling on lots of extra calories. I’ve learned a number of tricks. For example, I’d always heard that serving your food on a smaller plate or in a smaller bowl would make you think you were having more. I’m sure I’d read that in magazines in the past and dismissed it with an “Oh please!! I’m way too smart for that” kind of attitude. The thing is, it does work. I have lots of small bowls, and I use them often. I like eating smaller meals off of smaller plates, and I tend to eat ice cream out of tiny little heart shaped bowls I picked up at Crate & Barrel.

My Heart is Empty?One fourth of  a cup of ice cream really does look like a lot more when it fills up my small bowl than it would if it were sitting in a little blob in the middle of one of my big oat bran bowls. These bowls are also great for little nibbles of granola, trail mix, almonds and that sort of thing. I’m a fan!

Another trick I’ve learned comes into play in my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelettes. I could just call them muffins, but they are much sweeter and more like cake. Truth in advertising, right? 🙂 Have you ever made a lightened up recipe involving chocolate chips? Often, these just seem to involve using a smaller portion of the chips you might use in a regular recipe. That’s not a bad strategy, but it can lead to a treasure hunt type scenario for the three little chips that might have made their way into your muffin. There is an easy solution to this, and I think it makes a huge difference with regard to the satisfaction factor– mini-chips!

Mini YummiesLook inside this muffin. See all those brown specks?

Chocolate Bonanza!Those are the mini-chocolate chips. There are several bits of chocolate in each bite, and a great deal of satisfaction. Employing another je-diet mind trick, I also used turbinado sugar in the topping because the crystals are bigger and add a nice crunch. I’ve made this with granulated sugar in the topping, and it doesn’t maintain its character nearly as well. It certainly seems like a bigger treat when I see the sweet little crystals and feel them crunch in my teeth. Tricky? You bet!!

I started with a recipe I’ve used for a long time, and I gave it some pretty significant tweaks. I love remaking an old favorite. The cinnamon and chocolate combo gives it a slightly Viennese twist, and the pumpkin just tastes like fall. Here’s the recipe:


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelettes


Dry Team:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup teff flour (or 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour) 

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Wet Team:

1/2 cup egg beaters (or two eggs, beaten)

8 ounces (1 3/4 cups) of canned pumpkin

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. canola oil

Team Chocolate:

1/2 cup semi-sweet mini-morsels


1 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a 12 unit muffin tin with cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients in the “dry team.” Make a well in the center.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the ingredients in the “wet team.” Pour the wet mixture into the well in the center of the dry mixture, and mix until the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the mixture evenly among the 12 muffin cups. 

Mix the turbinado sugar and cinnamon together to form the topping, and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when pressed lightly in the center. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Based on my calculations, these come out just below 150 calories a piece. Not bad for a sweet treat in my opinion!

You could bake the batter in a 9×9 inch baking pan for 20-25 minutes if you would prefer to serve it like a cake. I kind of like the built in portion control I get by using a muffin pan, but I’ve made this as a cake many times. I’m also positive that cream cheese icing would be great on top if you were feeling more decadent or serving these to a festive crowd. 

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Do you love pumpkin as much as I do? 🙂

Now, it’s time for me to take my first run at doing level two of Jillian’s shred. Wish me luck! I may need it!! Ciao for now, y’all!



Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, cooking, D.C., Fitness, Food, Pumpkin, Recipes, Squash, Uncategorized, Weight Loss Success Story

Back on Track

Here’s today’s Alaska photo taken while trekking on Mead Glacier in Skagway, Alaska:

True Blue

I got a lot of close up photos of the glacier while walking around on its surface, and this is one of my favorites. I never realized that the water was really and truly so very blue!

To get on to the glacier, I took a helicopter ride, and I got to wear a groovy orange safety vest!

Safety FirstI also had on some awesome boots that kept me from sliding into a crevasse and a ski pole type thing for a bit of extra stability. Stylish! I learned a lot on this vacation, including the fact that glaciers are pretty dirty, in part thanks to all of the mountains and trees they have chewed up, and also the fact that moss actually grows on glaciers. Amazing! Talk about determination! Check out this little fella:

Awesome Moss-omeSo cute! One of my favorite sights from up in the air was this view of Heart Lake. I’m sure the name is self explanatory!

Heart LakeI loved my helicopter excursion. It was so much fun, and the view from the sky was unlike any other! Needless to say, getting back to the grind has been a challenge over the last few days, and I’m missing the sights and sounds of vacation. I am not, however, missing the overeating! I started today with a bowl of my beloved oat bran:

BrekkieWhile on the cruise, I didn’t have the option of nuking the fruit along with the oat bran, so I just chopped up fresh pear to go on top. I realized how much I like the contrast in texture between the creamy oat bran and the crunchy pear. I may never cook my pears in the bowl again!  I also topped this bowl with a few chopped pecans and some cinnamon. There is some Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein and a small smackerel of hunny mixed in too. It wasn’t very sweet, but it was, well– just sweet enough. I realized how out of control my sweet tooth has gotten while on the cruise, and I’ve decided to dial it back a bit. Don’t get me wrong– I’m not ditching one of my favorite things. I’m just going to try to have a bit less for a week or two and see what happens. Speaking of things that are sweet, I hope you checked out my new moose mug! 🙂

When lunch rolled around, I had a nice little array of eats:

Lunchy LunchSince I haven’t been back long enough to really cook anything, I decided to grab a Trader Joe’s Soy Corn Dog out of the freezer. I got a box of veggies yesterday in order to restock the fridge, and I made sure to get plenty of cucumbers and celery. They are perfect low calorie crunchies for a girl who’s trying to get rid of a cruise pooch! I had some hummus with my cucumbers, and then I finished off with a dessert of Wallaby Dulce de Leche yogurt (my fave!!) and some Fiber One cereal for even more crunch. 

I came back to lots of things piled up on my desk, and I had a working lunch. I hate not being able to concentrate on my food while I’m eating it, but that kind of lunch happens from time to time whether I like it or not! I had some tasty snacks during my busy day too, and I tried to focus on fruits and veggies rather than sugary bars when I was packing my lunch bag this morning. What did I have? Well, first, I had a half cup of canned pumpkin mixed with 1/4 package (8 grams) of dry butterscotch fat free sugar free pudding mix. It sweetens up the pumpkin and makes the texture a bit creamy. I also had some Emerald Cocoa Roast almonds on the side. I need a bit of protein in any good snack, and these did the trick!

Sweetie Punkin' and Nutty GoodnessI also had celery with peanut butter…

Perfect Pair… followed by a bowl of afternoon oats.

Good Anytime of DayI really like this flavor. I picked it up at Whole Foods just because it sounded good, and it turned out to be a great choice! It isn’t too sweet and the flaxseeds give it a little bit of extra tastiness.

I was at work a bit late, so I decided to have a little package of dried fuji apples too. 

FruityliciousWhen I finally got home, I made a huge salad using items from the veggie box (tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, celery and lettuce), chopped ham, goat cheese and a bit of balsamic vinegar. It was crunchy, fresh and light. What could be more perfect after a week of heavy eating?!

Big ol' SaladFor dessert, I decided to have a sweet treat, so I broke open one of the So Delicious mini neapolitan ice cream sandwiches. I really enjoy these, but they are definitely “mini.” The best way to eat them is one LITTLE bite at a time! After this treat, I headed off to the gym.

So Delicious!After I finished my workout, I wanted something else sweet, and I decided on a smoothie made with unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, vanilla Jay Robb’s and a few strawberries. This was very satisfying even though it wasn’t as sweet as some of the other options I considered. Taming the sugar monster is going ok so far!

SmoothI also had an apple with a bit of peanut butter to finish off my eats for the night.

Can't go wrong with this snack!All in all, I had a day of fresh eats, and I’m starting to feel better. I’m still suffering from tight pants and an inflated scale, but I know these things take time. I really appreciated all of the comments on yesterday’s true confessions post. You guys are awesome! Now, I need to get to bed. One more day and then we have a long weekend!! Thank goodness! I hope to get in the kitchen and make something good to have in my lunches next week. I missed my kitchen! 🙂 Ciao for now, bloggies and have a great Friday!!!

P.S. I’m still not caught up on blog reading, but that’s on the agenda for the weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has been up to!


Filed under Alaska, diet, Food, Weight Loss, Weight Watchers

A Sweet Sweet Day

Today was a sweet sweet day– and I mean that sort of literally. These food journal posts are always very educational to me. I didn’t tag myself as Sweetie Pie without good reason. I’ve been on a bit of a sweet jag today! 

For breakfast, I had a bowl of coconut chai oat bran. I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of ground cardamom and 1/4 tsp of ground ginger to my oat bran along with a tsp of honey and a tsp of raw sugar. Then I topped it with some vanilla roasted almonds and coconut. This has been my new favorite oat bran concoction this week. I love the cardamom, and I’m a sucker for coconut. Along with my oat bran, I had a cup of cherry tea with my usual mix of skim milk and almond milk. I haven’t missed my coffee this week. I’m so surprised! I haven’t had any since I mentioned to you last week that I was going to start drinking up all the loose tea in my pantry. This does the trick just fine, and I love the taste of this cherry tea!

Chai Oat Bran

Since I was going to be kickboxing during my usual lunchtime, I decided to have this protein and fiber filled snack about an hour before my class. I really love the orange and ginger Siggi’s, but the blueberry is pretty good too. It would be the runner up if I was judging a Siggi’s pageant. I had so much energy in my kickboxing class today! Some weeks, I feel like I drag myself through the workout just trying to make it to the end. I had a bit more bounce to my kick today. I’m not sure why I had so much more energy, but it was nice!

Siggi'sAfter kickboxing, I had a Gardenburger grilled chik’n patty on an Arnold thin with some dill pickles and light Hellman’s. I love the combo of pickles, mayo and chicken (or chik’n as the case may be.) Back in the day, I ate a lot of fast food chicken sandwiches, and I became hooked on that combination. Now, I’m glad to have a healthier way to enjoy it. The real star of my lunch was this enormous salad! In addition to a huge pile of lettuce, it contains tomato, cucumber, carrots, Cabot cheddar, and a serving of my Dillicious Golden Beet and Red Onion Salad. I topped it with my new favorite creamy dressing: 2 Tbsp of smoked paprika hummus mixed with a little vinegar, a Tbsp of Greek yogurt and a tsp of sweet pickle relish. It tastes like Thousand Island dressing! Yet another healthier version of an old favorite. I really enjoyed my lunch, and this salad really filled me up. 

LunchOf course, I had to have dessert. I had a triple chocolate chunk vitatop with berries and fat free Cool Whip. I seemed to be craving chocolate today. That’s odd for me. Chocolate isn’t usually my thing. I’m much more of a coconut or caramel girl. I’m not sure what’s going on, but, as you will see, this was not the day’s only chocolate. 
Vita Berry WhipI had a couple of snacks between lunch dessert and dinner. My favorite snack this week has been a mixture of Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal and lightly salted pumpkin seeds. Sweet… salty… perfect!

Cereal and SeedsI also had half of a serving of my new favorite granola, Galaxy Granola Vanilla Almond Munch, mixed with a few bittersweet chocolate chips. Yep. Chocolate.

Granola and ChipsFor dinner, I was in the mood for a classic. Along with my leftover roasted broccoli, I whipped up a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and basil. This was no ordinary grilled cheese. I love the basket of cheese scraps at my local Whole Foods. I always poke around a bit in the basket when I’m there, and I like buying little remnants of interesting cheeses. The cheese on this sandwich is called “Amadeus.” I’ve bought it several times before. I’m not sure if it is the creamy nuttiness of the yummy cheese or the fact that it shares a name with a famous composer, but I always bring a piece home when I find it in the scrap basket. You can take the music teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take her out of the kitchen?

Grilled AmadeusI’d checked out Tina’s site earlier today, and she was having peanut butter and chips on an English muffin. Of course, I had to have my own. Umm… can you say “chocolate?” 

PB ChipsOh look! More chocolate. I had a vitabrownie later in the evening.

VitabrownieFinally, I was mixing up a batch of cheesecake flavored fat free sugar free pudding cups. Of course, I wanted some right then, and I wanted it with pumpkin and cool whip. So… I had some. I’m always amazed at how filling the 1/2 cup of pumpkin is when mixed in with a bit of pudding. There is no chocolate here, but the thought did cross my mind… Are you sure that there aren’t chips hidden in the bottom? Hmm? Well, there aren’t, but they would have been yummy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pudding

I love everything I ate today. I had plenty of veggies and plenty of dairy. it was another accidental meatless day. I have those more and more often lately! I’m still puzzled as to why there are so many sweet things, but I guess the fact that I ate within my points scheme and got plenty of healthy stuff in there should make it ok. There has been much discussion lately about the idea of intuitive eating. I’m trying to get better at listening, although it seems that the little voice in my head often shouts SUGAR! Today, at least, I listened. Did I mention how much I love everything I ate today? 🙂

I’m so glad that it’s almost Friday. I’m pretty sure I know how my Friday weigh-in ritual is going to go. That will have to wait until tomorrow. For now, I have a few little tidbits to mention:

I submitted my recipes for Abbie’s blogger cookbook over at Foods That Fit. I can’t wait to see the finished product. What a great idea! She is still accepting submissions, but not for long! Check it out!

Check out Fitnessista’s Quaker giveaway!

Also, check out the amazing Pure Bar giveaway at An Apple a Day.

Ciao for now!


Filed under diet, Food, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Friday the 13th Weigh-in Stats and Featured Snack

Pumpkin PuddingThis snack isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but it is an award winner for reasons that go beyond looks. I made up a batch of sugar-free fat-free vanilla pudding yesterday and divided it into four little containers. I’ve heard people on the Weight Watcher boards mention mixing canned pumpkin with pudding, and I’ve made something similar– its cousin, pumpkin fluff– which involves pumpkin, pudding mix and fat free cool whip. I added 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin to my serving of vanilla pudding along with a bit of pumpkin pie spice and stirred it well. What I ended up with looks a bit like baby food, but tastes pretty good. It doesn’t hurt that it has 1/2 cup of milk in it as well as 1/2 cup of a veggie. It also doesn’t hurt that, when I calculated the combo together using the magic gadget on the WW site, it informed me that this was a mere 1 point. I mixed up a little container to have for a snack this afternoon, and topped it with a serving of fat free Cool Whip. If I have the points to spare when snacktime rolls around today, I’m going to have a few low-fat graham crackers along with it!

Now, on to the stats. As I mentioned last Friday, this week was going to be a challenge. I had a birthday happy hour on Friday evening, and I did a pretty good job of keeping the caloric beverages to a minimum. I also ate beforehand so that I wouldn’t be tempted by nachos, wings and other bar food that, typically, isn’t worth the points. Despite those efforts, I still ended up using 6 of my weekly points.

On Saturday, I had a birthday dinner at The Inn at Little Washington. I earned 7 activity points (APs) on Saturday and ate lightly during the day to save as many points as possible for dinner. If I’m going out to eat at any old run of the mill kind of place, I will try to order things that are on the healthier side. The Inn is not just any old place, and I had every intention of enjoying it to the fullest. That is exactly what I did. I could have ordered fish, but I got the lamb. I could have had sorbet, but I got the dessert sampler. I was struck by the novelty of ordering what I really wanted rather than what looked like the least fattening option. I attempted to log the points when I got home, but it seemed like an impossible task. Even if I did spend a lot of time trying to figure out how many ounces of foie gras I ate and how many points it would be and how much butter was used to sear it and… well, you get the point. I had ZERO faith that I would be rewarded with any sort of accurate estimate. Instead of going through that painful exercise, I decided to employ another mitigation tactic.

I typically eat my daily points target plus whatever points I earn through exercise. I shoot for around 30 APs each week. I decided that I would limit myself to my daily points target of 22 for the rest of the week, and continue earning APs to help “pay off” my birthday dinner. Sometimes a big meal like that doesn’t keep me from losing. I am convinced, at times, that it even helps me lose. Other times, the more obvious result occurs and it makes me gain. Unfortunately, that’s the case this week. To be completely honest, I find each week to be pretty unpredictable. Back when I had more to lose, my losses were pretty consistent and steady. These days? I feel like it is a roll of the dice no matter what I do (or don’t do).  Here are my numbers:

Points Stats

Daily Points Target: 22

Weekly Points Remaining: 0/35

Activity Points Remaining: 0/33.5

Most likely I was in the negative points realm, but since I was unable to calculate it in any accurate fashion, we will just leave it at that. I did earn more than the usual amount of activity points this week, and I also ran my fastest treadmill mile ever at 9 minutes and 46 seconds!! Here’s the breakdown:

Workout Schedule

Friday: off

Saturday: 65 minutes of cardio combo (elliptical, running and walking with incline on the treadmill, and stairmaster) with 10 minutes of core exercise and stretching (ran my fastest mile during this workout!!)

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

Monday: off, but took a bonus 20 minute walk to a distant metro station

Tuesday:  45 minutes of strength training, 35 minutes cardio combo, 5 minutes of stretching, 20 minutes of bonus walking to the metro

Wednesday:  65 minutes of cardio combo with 10 minutes of core exercise and stretching, 20 minutes of bonus walking to the metro

Thursday: 60 minutes of kickboxing

So, really, aside from my celebratory dinner and a couple of drinks at the happy hour, I spent my week on the wagon and even got in more exercise than usual thanks to some unseasonably warm weather that inspired me to go walking. Last week I was excited to have lost 2.6 pounds and to be in the 150s at 159. This week… the “6” has returned. I weighed in this morning at 161.4 with a 2.4 pound gain. This makes the third time since last September that I’ve seen the “5” only to lose it the next week.

If I sound a little bit more negative than usual, I will admit that I’m frustrated. If you look back at my Friday posts, you’ll see that I generally live within my points each week and work out quite a bit. I feel like I try so hard 99% of the time that I should be able to treat myself this way on occasion without racking up such a big gain. It makes me afraid of how quickly all the weight I’ve lost could come back if I just decided to stop counting every point and working out like a mad woman. It kind of makes me want to hide out at home with my jump rope, edamame and carrot sticks despite the fact that I know how impractical that is. I also know that… it would not be any fun. I like fun.

Am I surprised about the gain? I guess I’m not surprised that I had a gain, but I am surprised that it was so much.

Am I frustrated at how easily I seem to gain weight and how hard it is to balance having a social life with making progress? Absolutely. Very frustrated.

Did I enjoy my birthday dinner? I enjoyed my dinner immensely, and was happy to spend some time with my friend.

Am I going to give up and declare myself to be done at 160 pounds, which seems to be the number I’ve had a hard time shaking since last fall? Nope.

If nothing else, I stuck to the mitigation plan I came up with for the week, earned lots of APs and improved my running speed. I met the goals I set, and at least I had that success. Now, I’m going to set out to do my best this week, and hope that the scale will be a bit friendlier next Friday. I hope you have a great weekend!!

One more thing: If you are a fan of all things Quaker, they are giving away free samples of a new (and tasty sounding) bar: Quaker True Delights. These bars come in flavors like “Toasted Coconut Banana Macadamia Nut” and “Honey Roasted Cashew Mixed Berry.” I haven’t tried them, but they sound pretty tasty and the nutritionals I saw on-line looked pretty good. I just requested my free sample, and  I thought I’d post the link in case you wanted to take advantage of a freebie as well: http://www.quakertruedelights.com/


Filed under diet, Fitness, Food, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story