Tag Archives: Weight Watchers

New Perspectives

Hi, Sweeties! Remember those photos I promised you of my ziplining adventure in Alaska? Well, get ready because here they come. They actually are a pretty good illustration for some of the points of today’s post, so I thought it would be quite appropriate. Also, I’m sorry I’ve been away for so long. This post should explain my absence. 

I was excited about ziplining in Ketchikan, Alaska, but I didn’t know what to expect. Before taking the leap off of the platform, the instructor made sure I had the proper gear and an understanding of how to use it. I was harnessed up and the trolley attached to the harness was clipped to the line. The instructor explained how I should use my hand to steer the trolley if  I found myself spinning off to the side and needed to straighten back up. He also explained how to press down on the top, which works like a friction brake, when it was time to stop. Stopping proved to be the challenging part.

Geared UpEach leap into weight loss started with gathering gear and trying to understand how to use it properly. If you want to read about my journey in greater detail, please check out this page. Just to briefly summarize, you might recall that my experience went something like this:

Date: 2000 Weight: 340 pounds Gear: knowledge of fat content in the foods I ate, a well stocked kitchen and good walking shoes

Results: Loss of 110 pounds and gall bladder problems due to, according to my doctor, the restriction of fat in my diet

In 2001, I started law school, had to have my gallbladder removed, discovered that I didn’t have time to make all of my own food, and got out of my walking habit. I gained back 60 of the pounds I’d lost and ended up weighing about 280 pounds.

Date: 2005 Weight: 280 pounds Gear: Weight Watcher’s On-line tools, fancy food scale and all sorts of exercise gear, including a heart rate monitor to measure calories burned during exercise

Results: I lost 120 pounds and gained the ability to rattle off the points values for food like a superstar. I learned to really enjoy all sorts of exercises and discovered that my body was strong and capable. I also hit a plateau and became frustrated when my meticulous counting wasn’t providing results on the scale. 

I started this blog in January of this year and by March, I decided that I was sick of counting points and I was tired of beating myself up when the scale refused to budge. I decided that a change would be a good thing, so I switched to counting calories and started using the Sparkpeople on-line tracker in place of my ww on-line tracker. I thought that the new approach would be a bit more flexible and would shake things up a bit. I viewed it as a sort of transition to something that was less of a diet, and more like normal life. WW claims not to be a diet, but I never totally bought that idea. For a short time, I did revel in the flexibility of calories versus points. Calories are calories, and I didn’t need to use a calculator to convert things into points. That was somewhat liberating. The scale immediately dropped from 160 to 153 in reaction to the changes in my eating, and I started thinking about whether it was time to stop trying to lose and to start trying to maintain. That brings me to this:

Zipping AlongOnce you leap off of the platform and start zipping along, you build up speed and just sort of fly through the air. It’s a bit like cruise control. I think that dieting can be very similar. You just kind of zip along, counting your points or calories or whatever, and then you decide for one reason or another that it might be time to stop. That’s where things got tricky during ziplining, and that’s where things have gotten tricky for me with my weight loss. Here’s a photo of me getting ready to land. 

StoppingTo stop yourself, you have to use the friction brake. If you press down too early, you may have to use your hands to drag yourself along the line to the platform. If you press down too late, and the friendly instructor doesn’t use the back up brake, you could find yourself pulling a “George of the Jungle” and crashing into a tree. Each platform is actually built around a tree, kind of like a tree house. If you stop too early, you will make it to the platform eventually. Stopping too late has a worse consequence.

Unfortunately, the ultimate weight loss stopping point isn’t always clearly defined like the strong and sturdy tree. Yes, I set a goal weight for myself, once upon a time, and I haven’t reached it. However, I was basing it on a BMI chart that doesn’t know how much muscle I have in my 160 pound make-up. It also doesn’t know how much deflated skin I have. Yes. I do have some. I don’t think it’s possible to lose more than half of your body weight without that unwelcome side effect. 

I think my bottom line this year has been that I’m not unhappy at my current weight. Sure, I wouldn’t mind losing more, but I could be happy right here. Rather than letting the scale determine whether it’s time to stop, I’ve started looking at other factors too. I’ve realized a few things.

1) I’m sick of counting points/calories and of weighing my food. This was becoming a bit of an unhealthy obsession for me, and I’ve only become more obsessed and frustrated as the scale has stayed steady despite my best efforts. To quote the old saying, it might have been “like beating a dead horse.” 

2) Despite allowing myself treats along the way, I’m definitely suffering from diet deprivation and the backlash eating it can cause. I ate like nobody’s business on my Alaskan cruise. I ate until I was sick on more than one occasion. I had the feeling that I’d been freed from prison for one week in order to eat everything that wasn’t on the menu in the prison cafeteria. It wasn’t a pretty sight to see, and that’s when the scale jumped back into the 160s where it has been ever since.

3) While I have certainly felt deprived of certain foods, I think the bigger sense of deprivation was coming from the inability to go out with friends and to do things spontaneously. I spent a lot of time and energy wondering if there would be anything I could eat within my rules when I found myself out with friends. Often, I would just stay home. Sometimes I would find something that would work. Other times, I would toss my rules out the window only to feel guilty later about breaking them. 

4) My perfectionist tendencies have been making me crazy. By giving myself a set of strict rules or limits, I drive myself to stay within the framework I’ve created in order to avoid feeling that I’ve failed and to feel that I’ve succeeded. I was to the point of weighing the lettuce in my salad so that I could calculate the calories and subtract them from my daily allowance. Lettuce!? Did the scale budge thanks to those efforts? No. Did my frustration level grow? You betcha. 

5) I can’t spend the rest of my life weighing everything and counting calories or points if I want to stay sane, happy and avoid smacking into the tree of endless dieting despair.

6) I like sanity and happiness.

7) I need to figure out a way to “stop” that is not a restrictive diet but that will keep me from reverting to my old habits. As funny as it sounds, I need to learn to eat.

That brings me to the last three weeks and my absence. I’d been reading about intuitive eating throughout the blogosphere for some time now, and I had a vague idea of what it meant to eat intuitively. I decided it was time for me to check out some of the literature on the subject. Forever the student, I picked up a few of the more well known IE books. The two most useful ones I’ve read so far are: Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A. and The Rules of Normal Eating: A Commonsense Approach for Dieters, Overeaters Undereaters, Emotional Eaters, and Everyone in Between by Karen R. Koenig, ICSW, M. ED. A useful website that lists the 10 principles found in the book by Tribole and Resch can be found here.

Both of these books really resonated with me. I think the basic idea is quite simple. You should eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied/full. If you are already an intuitive eater, that might sound quite obvious to you, but my eating was not typically driven by hunger or fullness. Aside from, perhaps, being driven by an effort to avoid hunger completely. IE is a more novel concept for me. Back in the heavier days, my eating was likely driven by emotions or boredom. In recent years, it has been driven by the external rules and limits I’ve imposed on myself. I’ve watched plenty of my friends use this “eat when you are hungry method” in their daily lives, with positive results. It makes a lot of sense to me, and it seems like a natural way of giving your body what it wants and needs.  

The books go beyond that basic idea with a number of other very useful principles. One of these principles involves legalizing foods that you have forbidden yourself. Vani had an excellent forbidden foods challenge sometime back, and I happily participated. I think I’m just beginning to understand why this is so important. It’s human nature to sometimes want the very thing you can’t have. If you know that you can have those forbidden foods, their power is greatly diminished. I’ve been experimenting with some of these foods over the past few weeks, and the funny thing is, many of the things I’ve really been sad to pass up over the past few years aren’t even that great. I had a pretty lousy cupcake from the store yesterday, for example. It looked pretty, but it wasn’t all that good. When I really concentrated on the taste and texture while savoring it, I realized that the frosting was too sweet. I think that’s the first time I have EVER determined that something was too sweet. Apparently, “Just Sweet Enough” has an even greater meaning than I had realized. 🙂 I’ve been amazed at the things that I have built up into some sort of mega treat in my mind only to find that they really aren’t that amazing after all. 

So, basically, I haven’t been cooking as much lately as I’ve started working through the principles in these books. I’m not sure what the scale is doing, but I do know that my pants still fit after three weeks. I’m trying to spend less time, energy and focus on food and the scale, and that has resulted in less blogging. I haven’t been sure how to explain what I’m up to, and I’m not sure this really does a great job. I would never want to discourage anyone from the path they’ve chosen, but I do think it’s important for me to tell you about my experience. I’m still not certain how IE will work for me, but my stress level around food and eating has already decreased by about a zillion percent. That’s right. A zillion percent. Math was never my strong suit. 🙂 That, to me, has made this effort worthwhile. I think it is also a good experiment to try to get a new perspective on eating, and I’ve been pleased with the results so far.

I’m not going away, but, at this point, I do not plan to post full days of eats anymore. I find that putting that much attention on the things I eat is not a good thing for me. I do plan to share plenty of recipes and reviews with you, as well as updates on how this IE process is going. I just hope you will understand why I’ll be posting less frequently and why my recipes may not all be “light” ones. I know that my body prefers healthy and nutritious foods, and there will certainly be plenty of that in the days to come. I do plan, however, to keep experimenting with previously forbidden foods, which could lead to some interesting kitchen experiments. 

This blog has been so useful for me during the past 7 months as I’ve tried to find a way to stop my diet merry-go-round and find a comfortable resting spot, and all of the supportive comments from my wonderful readers have really made all the difference. The ultimate goal, after all, is not to fit into a certain pair of pants but rather to be happy in life. That might look something like my post-ziplining mug:

HappySince one of my favorite things about this blog has been the opportunity to learn from many of you, I just have to ask: Have you had a period in your life where you counted calories/points/fat grams/whatever and then decided that there was a better way to find balance? What’s your story? Are you still counting? Do you have an exit strategy for when you get where you’re going? 

As always, I wish you all the best wherever you may be in your life’s journey. 

Before I go, I want to send a few birthday wishes. My little brother turned 30 on Tuesday. I can’t believe it!!! It’s really hard to believe that he just turned 30 since our mother is just turning 28 today. 😉 Here’s a photo of my mom and me during the Christmas holidays:

Mom and MeHappy birthday to both of you and lots of love! XOXO 

Now, I’m off to have an air conditioned work out in the gym. It’s a scorcher of a day, and I’m glad to have an indoor option. Ciao for now, sweeties and have a great week! 🙂

19 Comments

Filed under Alaska, diet, Fitness, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Griddle Me This, Griddle Me That…

…Griddle Zucchini and Sausage (low-fat…). Summer is here, and I don’t know what I’d do without my Griddler!! More about that later. Let’s begin at the beginning. Here are yesterday and today’s brekkie bowls. The only difference is the shape of the bowls.

Yesterday:

Square MealToday:

Well Rounded MealI did it, friends. I ate Mr. Banana Man. I finished off the last two crazy banana locks this morning! This is the same bowl as usual: oat bran, five grain cereal, Jay Robb’s Vanilla Whey Protein Powder, bananas and TJ’s Peanuts, Berries and Almonds. Yum! 

I snapped photos yesterday, but I didn’t have time to post. I hope you won’t mind seeing double today! I hate to waste my photos! 🙂 Yesterday’s lunch was another picnic special. Yogi would approve! I even ate outside with friends, so it was a real al fresco picnic instead of a picnic of the fake desk variety.

Hey, Boo boo...I love my picnic lunch!!! I was so glad to hear that several of you have nice memories of Yogi and Boo Boo!! What fun!

Today’s lunch was different, since I was working at home, but it shows a similar approach to lunch.

Tuna Fish and Tater Totties... sort of...What’s the same? Well, aside from the obvious mini pitas, this is another meal made up of lots of little things. I love little bits of this and that. Yes, I am a fan of tapas! Both of these lunches involve some fresh produce and some protein. That’s a typical lunch formula for me. If you think you have nothing healthy to toss into your lunch bag, consider making a little snack plate like this one!

Today’s plate includes a Dr. Praeger’s Potato Pancake. One of my mother’s favorite little lunches involves tuna salad and tater tots. I thought of her today. This is no tater tot, but it is pretty darn close! I also have some Trader Joe’s triple layer hummus on the side. If you have a TJ’s nearby, and you haven’t tried this hummus, trust me. It’s GOOD!! It’s one of my favorite hummus flavors for sure!

The tuna salad has hardboiled egg, sweet pickle relish and dijon mustard along with a tiny bit of light mayo and some Greek yogurt mixed in with the tuna for a bit of creaminess. There’s just enough mayo for a mayo flavor, but it gets most of its creaminess from the Greek yogurt. That’s one of my favorite salad tricks!

Yesterday, I snacked on a few graham crackers with peanut butter (as usual), and I also had an afternoon stroll to Tangy Sweet where I tried a bowl of their strawberry fro yo. 

Berry Yummy Fro YoSigh. I do love Tangy Sweet.

This afternoon, I had some sweet and creamy treats too. I sent some skim milk, blueberries and half a packet of Weight Watchers vanilla chai smoothie mix for a little ride in the Magic Bullet, and was rewarded with a yummy and brightly colored smoothie. 

True Blue

After that, I had a blueberry Oikos with some coconut on top. I don’t know why I’ve never added coconut to my Greek yogurt before. Umm…. yum! It was a nice addition. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I put this pair together!

Berry CoconuttyThis afternoon, I also had a tiny little snack bowl:

Snick SnackA few chocolate almonds, a smidgen of granola and a few butterscotch chips made the perfect snack close to dinnertime when I just needed a little something to tide me over until dinner.

So…. Dinner. My title pays tribute to my favorite summertime dinner making gadget: my Cuisinart Griddler. It’s great for me, since I don’t live in a place where I am allowed to have an outdoor grill. It also makes dinner preparation SUPER quick. I love grilled veggies, and this is a nice way to grill them right in the kitchen.

I took a package of TJ’s chicken sausages out of the freezer yesterday, and I had zucchini and other veggies in the crisper. Those ingredients are definitely the makings of several dinners for one. Last night’s plate:

Din DinI’m now out of my Dr. Praeger’s Potato Cakes. 😦 Last night’s dinner was good. Tonight? Well, not to get all Emeril on you, but I kicked it up a notch. Should I say it? I shouldn’t say it, right?

Bam!It has to be said. BAM! Yes, inspired by Mara, I whipped up some quick polenta for one, and it made this one of the best quickie dinners I’ve made in a long time. The whole thing was done in ten minutes!

I only made half a serving of polenta, which was plenty for me. I mixed in some cheddar, and saved some to put on top. I also topped it with some griddlered red bell pepper (yes, the same one I’ve been eating all week… it was big!) and some fresh basil from the balcony. I love polenta when I eat it in restaurants, but I really never think to make it for myself. This was so good! I can’t believe I’ve been missing out!! It took no more time than making my morning oats. Easy peasy!! It was so delicious alongside my grilled zucchini and my chicken sausage. Not to be boring, but I’m pretty sure I know what I’ll be having for dinner tomorrow evening!

I also have some visions of future polenta breakfasts. Oh yes. I have some ideas for sure. Grits are grits, right?

In addition to my evening griddling, I’ve also been diligent in my Holey Donut sampling duties. Last night, I tried the vanilla coconut donut.

Coconutty!Sorry the picture looks sort of electric. I love my blue plates, but they sometimes make for crazy photos!

Tonight, I tried the vanilla crumb donut (and a different camera angle).

D'oh-nutWhat can I say? Not surprisingly, they were both really good. I prefer the coconut donut over the crumb donut, but that’s just because I really love coconut. I’ve had to make a “one per day” rule for these little gems, but I think that just makes me enjoy them more. It would be easy to eat the whole box! “Wholey Donuts?” They are THAT good!

I tried one other new thing today:

RefrescanteThe package says that it is “like sticking a straw in a coconut.” I have tasted coconut milk straight from a coconut before, and, yes– that is what this was like. It was good, and it was refreshing. It wasn’t, however, a taste that captured my heart. I would have it again some time, but I’m not going to be making emergency runs to Whole Foods for a Vita Coco fix. It’s kind of sweet, and it does taste sort of like coconut. I don’t know. It was just a little… weird. I may have to try another one soon just to verify my feelings about it. Hmm. Yes. I think there may have to be a second taste test on this one. The jury is still out.  

This has been quite a day. I’m not really one who keeps up with celebrities, but I was certainly saddened by the loss of both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. I remember watching Charlie’s Angels as a kid, and I have nice memories of singing “We Are the World” in my elementary school music class. Along with the metro crash this week, and the turmoil abroad, the news is even more depressing than usual. Here’s hoping for some happy news in the days to come!!

I can offer you this bright spot: I want to remind you about the opportunity to save $$ on Jay Robb products purchased from his on-line store using a special promotion code exclusively for Just Sweet Enough readers. For more info, check out yesterday’s post. I have a little Jay Robb in my bowl every morning! If you can’t find these products in a store near you, this is a chance for you to save a bit of money and summon some Jay Robb’s love right to your door. 

Now, I’m going to turn off the television, and finish the book I’m reading. I love knowing that I get to start a fresh new book in the morning! Here’s wishing you a very happy Friday and lots of happy news! Ciao for now, y’all!

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Filed under Bananas, cooking, D.C., diet, Food, Frozen Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Little Brown Box

What do you think is in this little brown box? 

Little Brown BoxIf you want a hint, just check out this earlier post. As for the specifics– I’ll get to that in a minute! 🙂

First of all, I have to say that I’ve done a pretty good job of healthy eating this week. Usually, when I’m in vacation mode (mine or my parents’…) I tend to eat waaaaay more than I should. My parents arrived on Saturday, and I’ve had some treats but not gone completely bonkers. That’s something I’m proud of! I’ve found a decent balance this week. 🙂 Woo hoo!

Yesterday’s little indulgence came in the form of a trip to The Pita House in Old Town Alexandria. I’d been once before, and I remembered how good it was. We weren’t looking to have a heavy lunch, and this was perfect. First, we started off with an appetizer:

Fool M'DammasWe shared a bowl of Fool M’Dammas, which is simmered chick peas and fava beans flavored with garlic and lemon juice topped with olive oil. We had some delicious warm pita bread to go along with it. 

Then, we each got some sort of sandwich and shared a plate of fries.

The Pita House

I ate my share of fries for sure. I think it’s funny that “back in the day,” before I started really paying attention to what I was eating, I would have shnarfed down some fries without thinking too much about them. Now, I have them so rarely, that they really are a treat. I’m happy that I’ve moved them into the appropriate category– “treat”!  Along with the fries, I had chicken shawarma, my dad had beef shawarma, and my mom had a very tasty chicken and cheese combo. Delish!

Lunch was lovely, and then we just sort of strolled our way up King Street popping into random little stores here and there. I had planned to get a cupcake at a nearby cupcake place, but realized I was too full so I decided against it. Progress!

I was still thinking about cupcakes today (… not unusual really… I do love cupcakes…), and I decided that, while I was at Tangy Sweet with my friend, G,  during lunch, I’d pop over next door to Red Velvet and get a little box of treats to bring home and share with my parents. G and I split an amazing peanut butter cup cupcake while we were there, but I forgot my camera so I can’t show you a photo. Trust me when I tell you that it was quite good! 

I can, however, tease you with this one:

Carrot Cake!Before I tell you all about the rest of the tasties in the box, let me show you the much more virtuous dinner we enjoyed before we got to the sweets. 

Din DinI grilled some green and yellow zucchini and an eggplant on the Griddler, with cooking spray, salt and pepper, and piled them up on a platter. Then, I grilled some sundried tomato and basil chicken sausages and tossed them on top. I added some roasted red peppers, for a bit of color, and my mom snipped a little sprig of basil for a garnish.

Pretty PlatterI love all the pretty colors, and I love the flavor that grilling gives to these humble veggies. If you are on Weight Watchers, I have to tell you that this kind of meal was a common one for me when I was counting points. It’s a great and filling low point meal– and it’s beautiful too! I drizzled a bit of balsamic vinegar over the top of my veggies. I love them that way!

I also toasted up the last two pieces of Trader Joe’s naan from the freezer, topped them with bruschetta sauce and smoked mozzarella, and then popped them under the broiler. Smoked mozzarella might be one of the best foods ever!! 🙂

Cheesy BreadAfter dinner, it was time to open our little brown box. Here’s what was inside:

Cupcake QuartetThe obvious chocolate one is called “b-day” and the website describes it as American yellow butter cake and milk chocolate ganache. In the bottom corner, we have “summertime,” which is a lemon cake with coconut frosting. The next cupcake, moving counterclockwise, is a carrot cake cupcake. They don’t describe it on the website, but I can attest to the fact that this is a pretty classic carrot cake. Finally, there is “key west,” in the top corner, which is a key lime cake topped with white chocolate buttercream.

We had a whole quartet of cupcakes to sample, and we decided to make a little contest out of it. We split each cupcake into thirds, and had a tasting party! My dad and I polished off each section as we went, but my mother kept a little nibble of each so that she could do a more proper job of judging. She was thorough when it came to the frosting. She took her duty seriously!

Serious JudgingLuckily, I didn’t need to taste any of them a second time. My number one choice was a very easy one to make! My mom decided pretty quickly too. My dad, well, he said that they were all good. We tried to get him to pick a favorite, but  he resisted until the very end. I’d say that his desert island cupcake choice would be a magical cupcake with carrot cake, lime cake, lemon cake and b-day cake sections in each one. Come to think of it, that might be a pretty smart way to go!

If my mother and I found ourselves stranded on the proverbial desert island and could only have one cupcake (although, I would prefer a dessert island if given the choice…), we would choose…. drum roll please…

The Champ!“Summertime”

The cake was dense and moist with a lovely citrusy tang, and the icing was rich and sweet. I like just about anything that includes coconut, and this cupcake did not disappoint. It really did taste like summertime. Not only is it my favorite of the four we sampled this evening, I’d say that it beats the peanut butter cup, red velvet, and vanilla bean cupcakes I’ve tried from Red Velvet too. 

Now, of course, I need to figure out the best way to make a healthier version of this little gem. 🙂

So, that’s what we’ve been up to the last couple of days. Tonight, we whipped up a batch of a summery frozen treat, but I’m going to save that for my next post. I hope you are having a great week, and that you’ve enjoyed a special treat and lots of healthy eats today too. 🙂 Ciao for now, y’all!

12 Comments

Filed under Cake, D.C., Food, Washington, Weight Watchers

Eats and Feats (of the exercise variety)

Bowl o' BrekkieHappy Thursday, friends! I couldn’t be happier that tomorrow is Friday. Sometimes, short weeks seem to last forever. That has been especially true this week because I have been crazy busy at work. I’m looking forward to leaving it all behind for a couple of days! I haven’t had time to do much cooking this week, but I think I’ve still eaten quite well.

My big batch of slow cooker steel cut oats have made my mornings go a bit quicker, and I’ve been enjoying their creamy goodness over the past few days. This morning’s bowl had some raisins and almonds on top– you can’t go wrong with that combo! I also mixed in the very last of the pomegranate honey jelly I bought at the farmer’s market a while back. I was sad to scrape the last bits from the jar. 😦

The UsualI needed a bit of a morning snack, in part, since I didn’t add any protein powder to my oats this morning. It really does make a difference in whether or not I stay full until lunch. I had the usual apple with peanut butter. I always love this combo, although I’m glad that this was the last of the fuji apples in my fruit bowl. I like crispier apples, and these fuji apples just weren’t doing it for me. I bought a few pink ladies at Whole Foods the other day, and I’m really looking forward to them.

You might also notice that the apples are in front of a brightly colored plate. I got the plate last summer in Portugal, and I use it as a perch for a candle. I vowed not to have the bluebird sisters in every photo today. The bluebirds are privileged to sit in my sunniest spot, which is why they seem to sneak into every photo. 🙂 This spot seemed to work ok!

Smoky Tofu LoveSee the little bit of bluebird sneaking in to the top corner of my lunch? They are so persistent! Ha!

Lunch was an interesting mix. Yesterday, there was an e-mail at work about some items leftover from a luncheon that featured salads from Chop’t. Usually, the e-mails are about leftover cake. I was excited about the prospect of salad items! I had taken a salad to work for lunch yesterday, so I just picked up a few add ins.

I got a little bit carried away, and later realized that I probably didn’t need smoked tofu and chicken to go along with the hardboiled egg, turkey bacon and goat cheese already topping my salad. I decided to bring the smoked tofu home and do something else with it. At the end of the day, I volunteered to rescue the rest of the spinach from a trashy fate because, while it wasn’t the freshest, I knew it would be fine when cooked. I hope that Sarah will be proud! 🙂

So, today’s lunch bowl is courtesy of work (spinach and tofu) with some asparagus, broccoli and Country Bob’s sauce from the fridge tossed in. I had only tried smoked tofu once before, and, although I liked it, I kind of forgot about it. It was so good that I made a trip to Whole Foods today in search of more. I’m hooked!

Smoked tofu really reminds me of smoked gouda, which I love, and hey– you can’t really stir fry gouda without making an interesting mess. It might be tasty, but I’d hate to have to clean the pan. I can’t wait to have more of this tofu and spinach combo. I had to get some more spinach today too because I’ve already made it through most of the leftovers I brought home. Just call me Popeye!

Messy Yogurt BowlAfter my tasty bowl of goodness, I had another tasty bowl of goodness. This is a mix of Greek yogurt, strawberries, honey and some of my broken graham cracker pie crust crumbles. Yum! It was sweet, but not too sweet. I’m trying to save any serious sugar eating for later in the day, and that strategy really seems to be helping me to keep the evil sugar monster at bay. Hooray!

Bowl of CherriesMy first afternoon snack was a delightful and luscious bowl of cherries. I should compose an ode to cherries. I love them SO much!

Munchie BowlSome time after that, I had this little bowl of random munchies. I had a lot of food in bowls today! I have a bit of Galaxy Granola Almond Vanilla Munch in here along with some Quaker Crunchy Corn Bran squares, mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. I loved this little mix. I probably would not have thought to mix it up in the morning and take it to work, but since I was working from home today, I had the luxury of going in the kitchen and coming up with the snack I was truly craving. What a perk!

On a Steeeek!Another great thing about working from home is my proximity to the freezer…. and my frozen bananas! This is one of the ginger chocolate bananas I made the other day. Seriously, if you haven’t made your own, you should find the most amazing looking bar of chocolate on the shelf at the store and wrap it around a few frozen nanners. Oh, and I decided to pose him in front of my very old cake cover too. The blue bird sisters were kind of miffed, but I think they will get over it.

Lovely LeftoversDinner was a leftover salmon cake and some grilled zucchini straight off of the Griddler. The raspberry honey wasabi mustard on the top of the cake really adds a nice sweet flavor and a bit of a bite. I bought that mustard on an impulse when I was in some foodie type store. I really like variety, and I tend to pick up things like that if they speak to me. I’m so glad I opened up the jar the other day when I made my salmon cakes. I doubt I will find this particular mustard again, but I’ll be on the look-out for something similar. Yum!

What a Treat!Ah yes. Dessert! When I was avoiding the neighborhood gelateria the other day by buying gelato (with nutritional information… unlike the gelateria…) at Whole Foods, I got more than one kind. 🙂 Dolci Gelati is a local company, and this was my first time to try their frozen goodness. Pumpkin pie gelato sounded too good to pass up. I suspect this is a brand that might only be available around here, so I won’t emphasize how good it is. Nope. 

My papaw always had such a serious sweet tooth. When I was a kid, I could never resist asking him how he liked his dessert. I knew what the answer would be. In between smiles and bites, he would say something like: “This is awful. You don’t want any of it. It’s no good.” That’s how this gelato tastes. It’s awful! 😉

After my yummy (oops… I mean awful) dessert, I headed off to a session with my trainer. A few people have asked about my workouts, and I haven’t really said much about them lately. My workout schedule has gotten a bit off track, so I haven’t been to kickboxing in ages. I’m hoping to make it next week, and I’m sure it will be HARD! I’m kind of looking forward to the challenge. Is that twisted of me?

The times I can meet with my trainer are a bit limited, and I have to organize other work-outs around my strength training sessions. It’s no big deal, but that’s been the reason (plus vacation) that I haven’t worn my pretty pink boxing gloves in nearly a month. 

Tonight I worked out with my trainer, and also did forty minutes of cardio split between the elliptical and the stairmaster. I should have hopped on the treadmill for a bit of a run, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I thought it might be interesting if I told you how a typical class with my trainer might go.

Each exercise lasts for a minute, and there is a cardio interval in between movements. Tonight’s interval was three jumping jacks followed by a squat, three jacks, one squat, three jacks and one more squat. So, just plug that sequence in between each of the following movements and you will see how my work-out went this evening:

Wall Sitting

Walking Plank Hold

Cherry Picker Type Movement with a Medicine Ball

Bicycle Crunches

Total Body Crunches with a Ball

One Legged Hip Thrusts (to work the hamstrings– one leg for a minute and then the other leg)

Push-ups

Lat Pull Down (weight machine)

Overhead Shoulder Press (weight machine)

Plie Squats (while holding a 20 pound weight)

Regular Squats (while holding a 25 pound weight)

Chest Presses (weight machine)

Overhead Shoulder Presses (free weights)

Standing Bicep Curls (free weights)

Bench Dips (to work triceps using body weight)

This thing that involved stepping on and off of a weight bench with one leg, and then doing another set on the other leg

The END… except for the cardio. 🙂

Classes last about 45 minutes, and I really enjoy them– for the most part. Tonight, I was sick of squats by the end after doing the squats with weights and the jumping jack squat sequence a zillion times! Even though I’m usually pooped, I always feel such a sense of accomplishment at the end. When I first started these classes, gosh, two years ago? Has it been that long? I had such a hard time doing many of the moves. My strength and balance have certainly improved, and I’ve lost a ton of weight since I started. I can do push-ups… on my toes! I would never have thought it possible!! As happy as I am about those improvements, I think the best part is probably the fact that I just feel so much more confident in the gym. That’s one of the awesome benefits of exercise that can’t really be measured on the scale!

So, that’s an example of the workout I do twice a week. It’s a bit different each time, but it is usually something along those lines. If you haven’t incorporated strength training into your workout, I have to recommend it. It even makes carrying groceries easier!

I’m curious to know what other people do, so I’d love to hear about the ways you pump some iron. Do you have a set of five pounders that live in your closet? Do you work out with a trainer? Do you do your own thing in the weight room at the gym? Do you just shop a lot and carry around heavy bags? I really would love to know!

I’ll leave you with those questions now, because I have a few things to do before I mosey off to bed. I hope that you have a great Friday, and, more importantly, an awesome weekend!!! Ciao for now! 🙂

 

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Filed under cooking, D.C., diet, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Salmon, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Snapshots, Salmon Cakes and Sweet Frozen Bananas

Hi friends! Happy Monday! As promised, I have a few pics to share from my trip again today. After that, I have a new recipe for you so stay tuned. First….

Iceberg!!

Iceberg! Dead ahead!! We got to see glaciers “calving” on several occasions. Calving is when big chunks of glacier fall into the water following an amazingly thunderous noise. It was definitely a sight (and sound) to behold! That, my friends, is the recipe for an iceberg. The water was so beautiful, but I was certainly not tempted to go for a swim!

Here’s a silly photo. While in Anchorage, I was petted by a bear!!

DSCN3264_2I can’t resist silly tourist type photo ops. Further evidence from Anchorage:

Cheese!Those pants are a bit big on me even though this was the end of a week of constant eating! Awesome! Have you ever given in and done the touristy photo op thing? Come on! Fess up! Sweetie wants to know! I hope my friend, Miss M, won’t mind appearing here with her pickaxe. 🙂 I just couldn’t get that moose to go any faster. I tried! While you might think these little photo shoots were the highlight of our day in Anchorage, I’m sure you will be shocked to hear that there was actually something even better…

KobukThe Kobuk had a sign in the window promoting their old fashioned style donuts, and, after a long bus ride from Whittier to Anchorage, that sounded like just the ticket!

Old Alaska HospitalityI love the teapot mural on the side of the building. So cute! I had an old fashioned donut topped with chocolate and a peanut butter bar:

SweetsThe bar was not what I expected. I had a nice surprise when I realized that it was like the cornflake cluster candies that my grandmother used to make at Christmastime. I’d say it involved cornflakes, peanut butter, corn syrup and butter. That would be my guess. It was soooo yummy, but the donut, well… drool.

So I didn’t have donuts today, but I did start off with a nice breakfast. I’m sorry to say that it isn’t very interesting to look at:

BrekkieI was in the mood for steel cut oats, and, since I had a day off, I had time for the 30 minute stove top method. I liked them so much that I’m going to put a batch in the slow cooker tonight so I can have more tomorrow. I like their chewy texture, and I usually have some in the pantry. I just don’t think to make them very often since they take longer. I can’t wait for breakfast! Today’s bowl was a classic. It had brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins. I also added a little Jay Robb’s for some protein sticking power. Three hours later, I was ready for an apple with some cashew butter. YUM!

Apple Cashew Butter Goodness

The bluebirds kept jumping into every photo today. I don’t know what got into them!

Not long after my apple snack, it was time for lunch. That brings me to the new recipe I promised you. I hope you didn’t think the iceberg recipe was it for the day! 🙂 As a kid, I did a lot of the cooking. We were on a pretty tight budget so stretching a can of tuna or salmon was definitely a goal. Add that to the fact that I was just learning my way around the kitchen, and the results were often less than stellar. I made countless batches of salmon patties that could probably best be described as gluey, bready, slightly fishy, hockey pucks. Thank goodness for ketchup! I had a can of salmon in the pantry today, and I decided to come up with a healthier and more grown-up version. I was very happy with the end result! Here’s the recipe:

Grown Up Salmon Cake

Sweetie’s” All Grown Up” Salmon Cakes

Ingredients:

cooking spray

1 14.5 ounce can of salmon, drained and flaked (if bones are included, do your best to sort of crunch them up while flaking the salmon… no reason to waste that calcium!)

4 ounces of jarred roasted red bell peppers, finely chopped

5 Reduced Fat Ritz Crackers, finely crushed (any crackers should work just fine)

1/4 cup of chopped scallions

2 tsp old bay seasoning

1/4 cup egg beaters

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients (except cooking spray) in a large bowl. Divide into fourths, and form each fourth into a ball. Press the balls out into patty shapes and place in the fridge to chill for ten minutes. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat the skillet on high heat and gently place the patties in the pan to brown– about 2 minutes on each side. Here’s a warning: These have very little filler, and very little glue. It may take some patience and some care to keep them from falling apart during this part of the process. If it happens, don’t worry. you can reshape it a bit before it goes into the oven, and no one will no the difference. Believe me. I know. 🙂 

Place the browned cakes on the baking sheet, and then spray the tops with more cooking spray for a bit of extra crispness. Pop them into the oven for 15-20 minutes in order to heat them through. 

A little recipe calculator told me that these are 4 points each.

My salmon cake had flavor! It was moist, and did not resemble a hockey puck at all. Success! I’ve had enough good crab cakes since moving to the east coast to know that the less filling there is in a fish type cake the better. That’s why there are only a few crackers and a bit of egg in these. I love the sweetness of the jarred roasted red peppers. If you don’t keep these in your pantry, you might consider giving them a spot on the shelf. I love them in potato salads, pasta salads and all sorts of things– including these cakes. I topped my cake with some raspberry wasabi mustard, and tossed a zucchini on the griddler to have as a side. I loved my lunch!

After lunch, I took one of yesterday’s chocolate covered bananas out of the freezer, and it was even better with the banana actually, um, frozen! It also took a long time to eat, which is a great quality in any dessert.

Chocolate Covered GoodnessI’m so enamored with these that I scoped out the chocolate at Whole Foods today in order to find some to wrap around my two remaining bananas. I found this:

The GoodnessGinger+ Chocolate + Banana? You bet! I made a batch this afternoon, and I can’t wait to try them! I also picked up a new bar that I snacked on after my WF trip:

Raise the BarThis Kashi GoLean Crunchy Chocolate Pretzel bar was ok. I think I like Coffee Cake flavor of this line of bars the best so far out of the ones I’ve tried. Even so, it was pretty good, and I definitely  liked the pretzel bits. I followed it up with a blueberry Oikos:

Blueberry OikosThe bluebirds approved! These were on sale at WF today, and I picked up several. I love the blueberry Oikos the best of any of the flavored Greek yogurts I’ve tried. I found the Chobani fruit flavored yogurts to be too gloppy and gooey. I think this one is just right. I didn’t even add any crunch!

Close to dinner, I munched on another little treat from my WF trip. I love cherries, and I look forward to their appearance at the farmer’s market and the grocery store each year. They are, hands down, one of my favorite fruits. They are so sweet and juicy, and I also think they are just so darn pretty!

Just a Bowl of CherriesThese are like Sweetie Pie crack. I could eat them all day. So good!!

When it came time for dinner, there was really only one thing I wanted: Breakfast!!

Dinner BrekkieI had two slices of turkey bacon, a fried egg, some berries, and two Van’s 97% fat free waffles topped with a bit of maple syrup. Yum! These waffles are much better than any other frozen waffles I’ve tried. I will be buying them again. This was exactly what I wanted, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Dinner was, of course, followed by dessert. I wanted to swing by the Gelateria up the street today on my way to WF, but since I’m trying to really behave myself post-cruise, I decided to splurge on a container of gelato at WF. That way, I’d know the number of calories and be able to make a wise choice. It wasn’t a sacrifice. Not at all! I picked up a container of Ciao Bella Maple Ginger Snap Gelato. Oh my!! It was delish! 

Ciao Bella!I’ve never found a gelato in the U.S. that comes close to the scoops I enjoyed a couple of years ago while in Italy, but maybe it just tastes different when you are in Florence or Rome? 😉 This will definitely do.

There is a bit of a story about the crumbs on top. I bought a ready made reduced fat graham cracker pie crust some time ago, and it fell out of the top of the cabinet and broke into a bunch of pieces. The pieces were nicely protected under the plastic cover, but it was still a broken mess hiding under the lid. I decided to just crunch it all up, put it in a container, and use it to top ice cream, pudding, yogurt and whatever else comes along. I’m sure I could add some butter and make it back into a nice crust shape, but I’m happy with my crumbles. 🙂 

That’s it for today’s eats. I’m doing better with my sugar cravings, and I think that’s because I’ve been eating more fruit. Now that there are cherries available, well, that should help matters tremendously!

I had a great workout tonight in the gym, but I’m sorry I didn’t get my bicycle out this afternoon before the rain started. It is collecting dust, and I’m missing feeling the breeze through my bicycle helmet hair. I vow to take advantage of the next nice day that provides the opportunity. Now, I’m off to turn on the slow cooker so my steel cut oats will be nice and creamy in the morning, and then I’m off to bed. Ciao for now, bloggies!

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Filed under Alaska, Bananas, Chocolate, cooking, diet, Food, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Salmon, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

What? No Nut Butter?

That’s right. I had a day without any peanut, cashew or almond butter. I didn’t do it on purpose. I swear! That doesn’t mean there were no nuts. I saw several while riding the metro. *Ba dump bump* Ha! Oh, Sweetie Pie. What can I say? It’s been a long day. At least it started out with a tasty bowl:

BananabowlerrifficThere’s a smushed up banana in the bowl along with some oat bran and some five grain cereal. I topped it with a bit of honey and some of these:
Daily CrunchI bought these awhile back, and they are yummy. The problem is, it is 150 calories for the few little bites you see in that bowl. Hmph. My solution? I run it through my nut chopper and put 1/2 or 1/3 of a serving on my morning bowl. You’ll see some later in this post in another bowl too. On their own, it takes about three bites, and they’re gone. Chopping them up makes them go a bit farther, and they taste really good mixed in with the other things!

I didn’t add protein powder to my bowl this morning, and I got hungry earlier than usual. I really do need a good amount of protein in the morning if I’m going to make it to lunch. I had a little yogurt and some Fiber One about two hours before lunch. I like the Yokids. It isn’t too sweet, the serving is small, and it’s kind of perfect for a small snack with a calcium punch at only 80 calories. Plus, I can pretend I’m a kid. 🙂

Yoooooo Kids!!I also broke out the piece of a Theo’s orange and dark chocolate bar that I had tucked into the lunch bag, and I sort of nibbled on it throughout the morning. 

ChockieDark chocolate is SO satisfying!

When lunchtime came around, I was very excited about my eats! I had a serving of the Springtime Market Potato Salad that I whipped up on Sunday, a hard boiled egg with some natural sea salt that a friend shared with me, and an Arnold’s sandwich thin topped with the rest of my container of Tribe chipotle hummus and some radishes and green onions from the market. My lunch was so fresh and springy. It made me happy. 🙂 

Lunchy LunchSpeaking of happy… I had this after lunch:

Cookie LoveAs you can see, I cut it in half. This little cookie is a prime example of why it’s important to read nutritional information carefully. The cookie is two servings, although, you might think it was only one if you weren’t reading closely. It’s kind of high in calories, so I planned on having half. It was incredibly tasty, so I decided to skip one of my planned snacks and have the whole thing. Some times you just need the whole cookie!!! 🙂 I like the whole graininess of Cookiehead’s cookies. This one also had various seeds and nuts with some very yummy chunks of chocolate. It was gooooood, and well worth the calorie splurge.

Since my lunch was a bit light on the protein, I made sure that a couple of my afternoon snacks were a bit higher in protein. This edamame gave me a little boost:

EdamameI followed it up with this pretty little apple. This would have been a usual place to insert peanut butter into the afternoon, but that was part of the cookie trade-off. This apple was crisp and sweet all on its own. Can you believe that it’s May already? Do you have anything special planned for the summer months? Vacation? Personal challenges? Lounging by the pool?

Pretty Little LadyAnother protein rich snack I had this afternoon was a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with some honey pomegranate jelly and some more crushed up Goji snacks. This combo was great! I had forgotten how much I love cashews. 

Greek yogurt!I still can’t believe I didn’t have any peanut butter on vanilla wafers, my apple, a newton crisp, a date, my finger… You get the point! My eats were a little different, and I like that! It’s so important to avoid the food rut for both my own eating enjoyment and for the purpose of including a lot of variety in my diet. Today was a good day for that!

When I got home, I made a huge salad with lettuce, radishes, tomatoes and green onions from Saturday’s farmer’s market trip. Look at the purple radishes. What fun!! I also topped it with some goat cheese, a chopped up chicken mushroom asiago sausage from Trader Joe’s, salt, pepper and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Yum!

Big SaladFor dessert, I had the bowl I’d been looking forward to all day. LaLoo’s Strawberry Darling goat’s milk ice cream. I really love this stuff. I put some chopped almonds on the top for a little crunch. Just look at all of the balsamic swirl in the bowl. Mmmm….

Strawberry Darlin'Finally, I finished off the day with a little bowlful of one of my favorite snack combinations: Galaxy Vanilla Almond Munch Granola and Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips. This is a perfect snack for a nibbler like me!

Galactic SnacktasticI worked out with my trainer tonight and followed the strength training up with cardio for a total calorie blast of 600 calories. I’m making the most of my workout routine this week in anticipation of next week’s vacation. I’m hoping to try a few new exercise classes for fun on the ship, but I’ll have to see what my choices are after I get there. I’m kind of hoping for Zumba. I’ve heard great things about it, and I’ve wanted to give it a try. Do you zumba?

I had a productive day at work today, and I’ve started a list of things to pack. I’m just so ready to go! I haven’t really taken any time off since the Christmas holidays, and I’m really looking forward to it. I guess it’s kind of like my very own spring break. I don’t think you are ever to old for spring break!

So now I need to take my clean sheets out of the dryer, put them on the bed, and crawl under the covers. I hope you are having a great week. We are already up to Wednesday, and my week sort of seems to be flying by. Time does fly when you are having fun… or when you are just really busy!!

Ciao for now, bloggies and have a happy humpday!

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Filed under Asparagus, Bananas, cooking, diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Nuts, Salad, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Derby Day Brownies and Last Chance for the Giveaway!

Hi, and happy Friday!! I’ve had a certain little recipe in mind all afternoon, and I couldn’t wait to come home and play in my kitchen. I’ll tell you about it in a bit. Here’s a little sneak preview…

Mmm....

It was so terrible when I had to lick the bowl! My life is so hard. 🙂

I started the day off with a little bit of chocolate too, but nothing like what’s in my mixer bowl. I made a smoothie with a packet of chocolate weight watchers smoothie mix, a cup of almond milk, 1/4 cup of canned mandarin oranges, and a bit of ice. I’m so happy with the magic bullet. Making a quick smoothie really couldn’t be easier! Just like yesterday, I also had a toasted banana wheat bran scone topped with PB2 and pomegranate jelly and a cup of un-pictured coconut coffee. 

BrekkieI got busy this morning, and, when I finally got back to my desk, it was time for serious lunch. Let me tell you what you are looking at here. This, my friends, is what I like to call “Potato Island Chili.” Giving it a clever name made it more entertaining. I might be a bit like a toddler sometimes. The big thing hiding under all of the melted cheese is the other half of the potato I microbaked a couple of nights ago. It’s floating in the rest of the Trader Joe’s turkey chili from the can I opened up last night. A little island of potato goodness in a sea of spice really did the trick and soothed the hunger beast in a hurry. 

Potato Island ChiliAfter that, I had my very favorite lowfat yogurt, Wallaby Dulce De Leche (seriously love it!!) with some fiber one and a little Cadbury Crunchie. This little collection made me so happy! 

Dessert!Eventually, I made it around to my pink lady and PB snack. I didn’t have time for it this morning. 😦 It was good, as it always is. 

The UsualSometime after that, I decided to play with my food, and I created a quick little highlighter snack garden. The centers are little vanilla wafer/pb/prune nibblies. If you aren’t someone who plays with your food, you should give it a try!! I had fun plucking the centers out of the flowers and chomping away.

SnackgardenI mentioned yesterday that there were no more instant oatmeal packets in my desk drawer stash. How would I feed my new afternoon oatmeal habit? There was nearly a crisis (ok, not really, just indulge my oatmeal related dramatic flair…), but I found a packet of instant cream of wheat in the pantry this morning and tossed it in my lunch bag. I fixed up a little container with brown sugar, vanilla almonds and a few dried cherries and tossed that in the bag too since the cream of wheat was the plain variety. I should have dried cherries more often. They really made this bowl pop!

Afternoon Cereal SnackWhen I got home, I wanted to eat my last turkey burger, but I didn’t want it in burger form so I put it on top of a big pile of spinach with some goat cheese, mandarin oranges and a few pumpkin seeds. I then drizzled it with a bit of balsamic vinegar. The cilantro in the burgers went well with the little bit of citrus, and the goat cheese made it all a little bit creamy. With the warmer weather, you should expect to see lots of salads like this one. It’s my summertime go to meal for sure!

Serious SaladAfter that, I couldn’t decide what I wanted. I think I often have my eats all planned out, but I’m trying to figure out what I’m really in the mood for before I start nibbling. I figure that is a good way to make more satisfying choices. It turned out that I was really in the mood for some Peanut Butter Puffins and Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips. I love letting the chips melt in my mouth. 🙂

Chockie PB FixLater, I realized that I hadn’t had my evening ice cream. I’m out of LaLoo’s vanilla snowflake, so I had a So Delicious neapolitan mini-sandwich. These are so good!! The strawberry end of the sandwich is my favorite, so I always start with the chocolate and save the pink stuff for last.

Mini-LoveThe other thing I had this evening was a Derby Day Brownie, still warm from the oven!!

Derby Day BrownieThe Kentucky Derby is tomorrow, and I’ll be going to hang out with some friends (and my favorite puppy dog) for mint juleps, horses and… brownies! Inspired by the julep, I wanted to make a brownie that included both mint and bourbon. I made a few tweaks to this recipe for Junior Mint Brownies from Cooking Light. Since I just tweaked it a little (including the title), I thought I’d just provide the link. 

In case you didn’t notice, there was a box of Junior Mints in the freezer jungle. I like mine frozen!! I used most of the box, so that’s one more thing out of the jungle. Woo hoo! These are some of the best brownies I’ve ever made, and I’ve made plenty of brownies! Seriously, this won’t be the last time I make these! Here are my little changes:

1. As usual, I substituted 1/4 cup of sturdier flour (tonight I used whole wheat flour) for 1/4 cup of all purpose flour. That means I used 1/4 cup of ww flour and 3/4 cups of all purpose flour.

2. I subbed 1/4 cup egg beaters for the eggs.

3. I added 2 teaspoons of bourbon to the egg/cocoa/sugar mixture. If I hadn’t seen myself put the bourbon in, I wouldn’t really know it was there. Honestly, there might be a subtle bourbon flavor, but I wouldn’t bother to add it if I made these again. 

Just look at this:

How Could This Be Bad?Holy moly! The batter was so thick, it reminded me of fudge. 

Before the BakeYou should be able to tell how thick the batter was based on the fact that the brownies retained the little lumps and bumps on the surface after baking.

After the BakeThese are fudgy, minty and they exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. Cooking Light rarely steers me wrong!! Plus, my calorie calculator says that 1/16 of the pan (with my tweaks) is 117 calories. Not bad. Not bad at all!! I can’t wait to take these over to share with my friends tomorrow, and to share a few more with myself. 🙂

Now that I’m sufficiently “chocolated” for the evening, I need to do a few things around the apartment and then get to bed. I’ll be getting up in the morning to go to the farmer’s market, and I’m hoping to go for a run outside too if the weather is good. I’m trying to get out of the gym as much as possible and into the fresh air!

Do you watch the Derby? Do you wear a funny hat or drink a mint julep while you are cheering for your favorite horse? I have a big blue hat that just might need to make an appearance. We’ll see.

Remember, you only have two more hours to enter my giveaway! I’m planning to choose a winner (and hopefully post the results… ) tomorrow.Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you have a good one! Ciao for now bloggies, and try these brownies. Seriously!

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Filed under Baking, Bananas, Chocolate, cooking, Cooking Light, diet, Food, 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!

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

Ambrosiabix?

Have you noticed how most of my posts seem to start with breakfast cookies or bowls of oat bran? Well, hold on to your hat! I had a different kind of day today, and it started with breakfast.

I replenished my stock of Bruce’s sweet potato pancake mix at the Fresh Market on Sunday, and the bag has been tempting me all week. This morning, I decided it was time. I had a couple of pancakes topped with a PB2 and sugar free maple syrup mixture and another little drizzle of syrup. Yum! Peanut butter on pancakes rocks!! On the side, I had a quick scrambled egg beater and the rest of my berries. There is a lot of red on my plate, and I loved every bite!

Blue Plate Breakfast In addition to eating some different things today, I also had a new and different gadget on my counter.

Magic in a BoxAfter reading about all of the green monster smoothies on various blogs, and after hearing people talk about their magic bullets, I checked the magic bullet out on line. An “As Seen On TV” product in my kitchen seemed like an unlikely addition, but it seems that they have taken care of a few of the things I really hate about making smoothies in the blender. 1.) I hate trying to get the last bits out of the bottom of the blender and into my glass. 2.) I hate that I only have one blender container that is often much larger than the smoothie. 3.) I hate how annoying it is to clean all of the blender’s various parts. Since you blend the smoothie in the glass you drink it out of, and since there are a bunch of different sized glasses in the box, it seemed like the perfect thing to me. I got it out of the box today, and I made this:

Green Monster... RAWR!My first green smoothie!! I mixed up 1/2 cup of skim milk, 1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, 50 grams of spinach, an ice cube and a packet of weight watchers chocolate smoothie mix. I bought a ton of ww smoothie mixes on-line, and I need to use them up and make more room in the pantry for Jay Robb! 🙂 Could I taste the spinach? Not at all. Amazing! The magic bullet worked like a charm, and the smoothie was really yummy. I’ll definitely be making more of these!! I’m just sad that my box didn’t include a dvd of the infomercial. It provided me with several minutes of quality entertainment when I watched it on-line! Hee hee. 

When lunchtime rolled around, I only had one thing on my mind: melted cheese. Instead of having my usual naan pizza, I decided to see if I could make a good pizza using an Arnold’s sandwich thin, Trader Joe’s bruschetta sauce, and some of my smoked mozzarella.

Lunchy LunchThe cheese was good (duh!), but the sandwich thin got soggy. 😦 The naan definitely makes a better crust, although it is also 80 more calories than the sandwich thin. I guess that’s what they call a trade-off. Even so, my hankering for a melty hunk of cheese was satisfied, and I had a bowl of Campbell’s Select Harvest Light Italian Style Vegetable Soup to go with it. When I want something filling, the answer is often soup!

What comes after lunch? Well, lunch dessert, of course! The Easter bunny AKA my friend, Cherie, tucked a very interesting bar of chocolate into the thoughtful Easter basket she gave me when I spent Easter at her home, and I was so excited to try it! 

Coconut Curry ConcoctionI generally think it’s hard to go wrong with Theo’s chocolate products, and I rarely meet a coconut product that I don’t like.  I LOVE coconut, and I love curry, but how would I like them together… and in chocolate…? I liked them. I liked them a lot. In fact, I’d say this was a pretty amazing bar! The bar has nice coconut bits throughout, and you can definitely taste the curry. Add chocolate to that combo, and wow. Thanks Easter bunny!! There are also some bits and pieces of vanilla wafer on the plate along with a little dark chocolate dreams PB. This was a tasty little plate for sure!

After I cleaned out the rest of the crumbs from the vanilla wafer jar, I needed to refill it. Sweetie Pie, you have a vanilla wafer jar? Well, sort of.

Papaw's Vanilla Wafer JarThis jar used to live in the kitchen at my grandparents’ house, and it has held many tasty things during its life. Sometimes it had homemade cookies in it, but often it was full of humble vanilla wafers. My papaw loved them, and he’d nibble on them when he just needed a bite of something sweet. I just think the jar looks “right” with vanilla wafers in it, and I’m happy to have it sitting on my cabinet at the ready if my sweet tooth starts to holler!

Here’s where my snacks take a turn that I thought was kind of funny. My fruit bowl has been emptied out this week, and I’m hoping to fill it up with things from Saturday’s farmer’s market. In the meantime, I decided to see what kind of fruit was in the pantry. I had a can of mandarin oranges in light syrup, and I decided to drain off the sticky syrup and mix the oranges into a bowl of Blue Ridge Dairy Greek yogurt.

Step OneMy plan was to mix up a big bowl, but not to eat it all at once. In fact, I planned to just have some on a Weetabix, which I did.

Ambrosiabix?While I was eating the Weetabix, I realized that this combination really reminded me of tasty ambrosia. Ambrosiabix?  The only thing missing was coconut. So…

Step TwoI had a little bowl about an hour later with some coconut on top. I was loving this combo!! When I got hungry again, the thought process went something like this:

“What do I want?”

“Hmm… there is about half a bowl of that ambrosia stuff left in the fridge.”

“But, you’ve already had that twice. Don’t you want something different?”

“If I add a couple of vanilla wafers, then it will be different.”

“Good point! You are so right! Let’s do it!”

Step ThreeYes, I do sometimes have conversations like that with myself. That’s normal, right? So, I ate the rest and ended with this:

Operation Empty The Bowl is CompleteI would really recommend this combination if you are looking for something light, bright and lovely. It was also a great way to make use of a pantry item. I love doing that! I have one more can of oranges that has been in my desk drawer at work for awhile now, and it will be on its way back home with me tomorrow so that I can make some more of my little ambrosia concoction! Maybe I won’t kid myself next time, and I’ll just sit down with the big bowl and a spoon. 

What’s your favorite thing to add to Greek yogurt? Apparently, mine is coconut and oranges. 🙂

There was nothing unusual about dinner. It was a rerun, but a delicious one! I had more of last night’s black bean tacos.

Din DinIf you happen to be on Weight Watchers and you’ve never tried Pepito’s corn tortillas, you might want to check them out. Two of them are only one point, and they are really good. My store keeps them in the refrigerator case. You can do so many things with them, and I almost always have some in the fridge.

I followed up my dinner with a piece of chocolate banana snack cake and some Strawberry Darling LaLoo’s goats milk ice cream. Yep, I had that for dessert last night too. It was awesome yesterday, it was awesome tonight, and I’m planning on finishing off the ice cream with another piece of cake tomorrow night. I’m sure it will be… awesome! I do love my cake and ice cream!! 🙂

Dessert!After dessert, I went to the gym to work out with my trainer and then to do some cardio. Tonight’s workout burned around 620 calories according to the heart rate monitor. We did some core exercises that we haven’t done in awhile, and I could really tell that my body had gotten out of the habit of doing them. I know that’s good, but it wasn’t the most pleasant thing. Ouch! I’ll be feeling it tomorrow for sure! After my workout, I tried my last new thing for the day. I had a cinnamon roll Larabar. This was one of those things that I always left on the shelf when I was counting points. I still think 200 calories is a little bit hefty for a bar, but I enjoyed it so I think it was well worth the “expense.”

LarabarOne more day of work to go and only a couple of more posts until I give you the scoop on my 100th post giveaway. Tomorrow, I’m planning to tell you how the scale has treated me with my switch from counting points to counting calories. I’m looking forward to all of it!

Now, as usual, I’m off to bed. Ciao for now, and I hope you have the best Friday ever!!

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Filed under Beans, Cake, Chocolate, diet, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Back On Track

More Tulips!

Hi everybody! I hope you had a great Tuesday! I’m feeling much better after a couple of days of “back to normal” eating, that’s for sure. Thanks for all of the comments on yesterday’s post. I really do love Williamsburg, and I had a great time writing about some of my favorite places. 🙂 I decided that I’d post another tulip picture because I took a bunch! The dark ones and the red and white striped ones are two of my favorites!

Today’s eats are about as normal as it gets, with the exception of the fact that I didn’t do a full grocery shopping trip this weekend, and I didn’t make a “big batch” food for my lunches. As you will see in a minute, that isn’t a big problem… yet. First things first, I started off the day with a breakfast cookie:

BrekkieI made this one with 1/3 cup oats, 15 grams of Jay Robb’s Vanilla Whey Protein Powder, 16 grams of nut butter, and a bunch of cinnamon. I topped it with 1 Tbsp. of chocolate PB2 mixed with 1 Tbsp. of sugar free maple syrup and 1/2 Tbsp. of cocoa powder. That made for a pretty tasty frosting! Of course, you can barely see it since I covered it in a ton of strawberries. I bought a big container of berries at the Fresh Market on Sunday, and some of them are already getting mushy. I’m trying to use them up, but some of them may end up in the freezer. 😦

I snacked on some more of my Green and Black’s milk chocolate toffee bar during the morning and afternoon. I think I’ve now been eating this bar for three weeks. It’s good, and it’s almost gone. I don’t need a lot of chocolate to satisfy my chocolate tooth, so chipping away at a bar works pretty well for me. Plus, if I bring a few pieces to work and leave the rest of the bar at home, nibbling on it all day isn’t really an option!

Green and Black's... again So, I mentioned that the lack of a big batch wasn’t a problem yet. Why? I’m still eating succotash. I’ve been loving it, but I’ll be glad to eat the rest of it tomorrow. I rarely complain about leftovers, but I feel like I’ve been eating this forever! I wasn’t sure how it would do in the freezer so I’ve just been nibbling away at it bit by bit. I had it for lunch along with some tuna salad on light rye wasa crisps.

Lunchy LunchI also had a container of honey flavored Chobani with Zoe’s cinnamon raisin granola mixed in.

Honey ChobaniI wasn’t the biggest fan of the peach Chobani because of the overly sweet peachy goo, but the honey is already mixed in to this one, so there’s no goo in the bottom. It was just sweet enough, and it tasted more like my Greek yogurt typically does when I sweeten it myself. It’s a winner! I’ll definitely buy it again.

Later on, I snacked on some vanilla wafers topped with PB&Co. The Bee’s Knees peanut butter. Yum! Vanilla wafers are perfect if you want a little bite of cookie, and they are amazing topped with PB (but then… most things are amazing topped with PB…).

Snicky SnackLater in the day, I had an apple. I kind of forgot to take a picture, so you are just going to see the evidence.

BustedI hate red delicious apples, but I like Macintosh apples pretty well if they are still quite fresh and crisp. This one was pretty good. It was followed by three little candies that a friend shared with me, but I was too busy eating them to take a picture. 🙂 They were little pineapple mango fruit pectin gel candies from Safeway, and they were about the size of gum drops. The pineapple mango flavor was tasty and satisfied my craving for a little bite of something sweet for a little while. Then, I had this:

Crisp!I was excited to try these fruit crisps, and I bought them in both the berry and apple cinnamon flavors months ago. I’m still eating them, and I don’t think I will be buying more when I run out. They are perfectly tasty, but they don’t have any substance. They really don’t have much nutritional punch at all, and that makes them a bad choice, in my opinion, as far as bars go. They were fine for a little something sweet, but I knew it wasn’t really going to help with any hunger issues. I also ate the last two little wafers in the bag, sans PB this time.

Right before I left work, I had a blurry date with some blurry peanut butter:

Blurry FoodHe just wouldn’t be still to have his picture taken. I blame the blur on his fidgeting. Meanwhile, I believe this is peanut butter installment number three of the day. 🙂

When I got home, I was hungry and wanted something quick. I had taken another chicken breast out of the freezer jungle to thaw, so I cut it into strips, sprinkled it with a citrus pepper seasoning mix and then tossed it on the griddler. I also put a potato in the microwave. This evening’s “blue plate special” included the chicken– topped with some Country Bob’s sauce, the potato– topped with some Greek yogurt, salt and pepper, and a few little steamed veggies.

Din DinIt was a quick, saucy and satisfying dinner, but it wasn’t nearly as exciting to me as dessert (shocker!). Since I finished off my big container of Edy’s slow churned, I was able to open a fresh container of ice cream. This happens to be one of my all time ice cream favorites!! 

LaLoo'sThe first time I bought LaLoo’s goat’s milk ice cream, it was totally on a whim. I figured that I loved goat’s milk cheeses, so why not try goat’s milk ice cream? I’ve been a devoted fan ever since. They carry it at my local Whole Foods, and I haven’t tried a flavor that I haven’t loved. The texture is SUPER creamy, and the nutritional information is amazing. One half a cup of the Strawberry Darling is 130 calories and 5 grams of fat, but you will swear that it should be more! The Vanilla Snowflake flavor is my favorite vanilla ice cream ever and the Black Mission Fig is amazing! The fig competes with the Strawberry Darling for first place in my book. This lovely ice cream features the combo of strawberries and balsamic vinegar. Heaven! I had some on a vita top for a little “cake” and ice cream action:

So Good!!I included a link to LaLoo’s website, because I thought it might be a fun link to share. It sounds like they have a lot of happy goats and good practices, which I appreciate. 

After dessert, I headed off to the gym to workout with my trainer and then to do cardio. I burned 600 calories. Woo hoo! After that, I needed one last snack. I thought about what I could have, and realized that I was truly hungry. This wasn’t a situation where a tasty little bar was going to do the trick. Instead, I opted for a very bland looking bowl of oat bran with the last installment of PB for the day:

Oat Brannie SnackIt’s not pretty, but, if you are a fan of oat bran you know that it was tasty. I added a bit of sugar free English Toffee Torani to sweeten it up, along with some cinnamon for spice. Now, I’m nice and full again, and I’m ready to head to bed with my tea. Before I go:

Tina is having a granola giveaway over at Carrots ‘n Cake.

Speaking of giveaways, this is my very own post #96, and I’ll be announcing an exciting giveaway in post #100 as a way to celebrate. I picked a few things up over the weekend, and I think you’ll like what I have for the winner. I can’t wait to tell you about it… but I will. 🙂

I hope to make a new recipe soon, but I’m so disorganized after being gone for a few days. I hope you don’t mind a few days of basic food journaling! It’s helpful to me, and, hopefully, interesting to you. Ciao for now, bloggies and have a great hump day!!

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Filed under diet, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers