Feelin' Chalky

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ode to American Eagle Jeans

There are very few material things in life that I get excited about.  I gave up on fashion a long time ago - even more so when I became a mom.  There's just something that doesn't quite line up with designer duds and spit-up.  Sweet potato puree doesn't look too sexy on a pair of stiletto heels either.

I pride myself in getting by with a few good pieces in my wardrobe and a handful of not-so-great pieces that I refer to as "work clothes" and/or pajamas.  However, I have always loved a great pair of jeans.  (and no I am NOT referring to pajama jeans - lord have mercy)  You all have probably picked up on my slight obsession with finding cute denim.

A couple of years ago (and more than likely pregnant) I was de-cluttering my closet - getting rid of things that I had been holding onto in hopes that they would fit again one day.  Reluctantly I added a pair of American Eagle jeans to the black trash bag.  They were simple - nothing fancy, but worn-in and by far the most comfortable and best-fitting pair of jeans I had owned.  Visions of wearing them again faded and I passed them on.

I don't recall stepping foot in an American Eagle store so I can't remember how I ended up with a pair of AE jeans.  I mean, I have nothing against their clothes. They sell really nice stuff, but they are slightly over-priced in my opinion...and their clothes are typically on the small side.  Come to think of it...maybe I went in the store with my sister to buy a purse or hat or something.  Who knows?

Normally I don't regret giving things away, but these jeans have haunted me from the day I got rid of them.  The other day they crossed my mind again only this time I realized that if I would have held on to them I would have been able to wear them again!  Ugh!  So...I set out to find another pair!  To my surprise American Eagle still sells jeans (enter sarcasm here)!  Imagine that!?!  I ordered a pair and awaited their arrival.

When they came I ripped open the package and immediately had to try them on.  They were soft and had just the perfect amount of distressing (which my parents still believe is a rip-off) and they fit!  I jumped around and modeled them for my kids who are always willing to dish out compliments.  By the end of the night...I noticed something...they were too baggy!   I debated on whether or not I wanted to let them go again...only this time I was happy to send them away because they were too big NOT too small!!  I can't wait to get my new pair in the mail next week.  Upon opening the package, I will once again leap around like a fancy unicorn! LOL. ;-)

This week I lost 1.8 pounds!  That brings my total to 96.2 pounds - 3.8 pounds to 100!!

I am going to start a series of blog posts inspired by a great cookbook I got for Christmas called, "Color Me Vegan."  Aside from being a GREAT cookbook, it is packed with tons of information about nutrition.  I can't wait to pass along some of the valuable info as well as some delicious recipes!

Have a great week!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

I'm feeling all smooshy inside because tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of my journey.  One year ago I threw up my hands at my lazy, toxic lifestyle, prayed for direction, and walked into the doors at Weight Watchers.  Everyone was so friendly and smiling - except me.  I was miserable.  I still remember the sinking feeling I had as I stepped on the scale.  I remember the shock I felt as I realized that my weight had reached an all-time high of 321.8 pounds.  I stared at the number for quite a while.  I couldn't get over it.  Numbers like that will jerk you into reality real quick.

Aside from the fear and shock, I also remember the freedom that came as I walked out of the doors that day.  I looked at my reflection in the large panes of glass and I shuddered.  I was so embarrassed...but at the same time I felt free.  I felt free because I took a stand that day - I stood up for "me" and stood up to myself - that was a big step in the right direction.  I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I opened my mind to the possibilities.  I became a sponge that day...soaking up information.  I threw out everything I thought I knew about nutrition and "dieting" and health and I started over at a ground level.

You know I think the biggest change for me was surrendering my life, my food, my habits, my body, and my family over to God.  I acknowledged the fact that, yes, I have been a failure before.  I have gained and lost and lost and gained a million times.  The difference is will-power vs. God-power.  My will-power is strong to a point...until hurt comes along...until stress comes along...until cookies come along. (haha)  But GOD-power?  It is never-failing, never-ceasing - no matter what the circumstances.  THAT was the power I had been missing.  Talk about the ultimate WW buddy!

I am so looking forward to what the next year of my journey will bring!  Today I tried on some jeans and was able to zip up a size 16.  That is the size I wore in high school! :-)  Of course my body doesn't quite look the same as it did back then!  Four kids have a way of giving you that used-and-abused kind of look! 

This week I had a slight gain - 0.4 pounds.  No big deal.  I think 94.4 pounds is pretty darn good for a year...don't you?  Just 5.6 pounds away from 100!  I can't wait!

In honor of my 1-year anniversary, here is a song that really spoke to me at the beginning of my journey.  We sang it at church the day after I started WW.  I got to sing back-up that day.  Coincidence?  I hope it will inspire and motivate YOU!

And lastly I'll leave you with this quote from one of my favorite songs, "Our God," by Chris Tomlin: "And if our God is for us than who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Getting Stronger

I learned something about myself this week...I am strong even under pressure...and boy has life been weighing down on me lately!  I am not trying to give you a sob story.  I am merely hoping to ignite YOUR inner strong-man.

These past few weeks have beat me up pretty good.  We have been from Dr. to Dr., to ear tubes and adenoid removal, to RSV, to hospital stay, to no sleep, disturbed sleep, coughing, puking, breathing treatments, whining...SIGH...you name it...we've had it.  I am truly exhausted mentally and physically.  I think a year ago my comfort would have been found in food.  I would have tried to eat myself happy!  But at the present, I have to say I am pretty proud.

I have done a whole lot of praying and crying.  I have leaned heavily on the shoulders of friends and family.  I have facebooked myself 'til I was blue in the face. I have talked to my mom A LOT on the phone.  I have thanked God for my amazing husband.  But not once have I thrown my hands in the air and said, "Forget it!  Bring on the chocolate cake!"

I have to say that this is a big step in my journey.  This "test" shows me where my heart truly lies.  This time of assault on my sanity separates "going through the motions" from true lifestyle change.  Even though there have been many days lately where I have felt like my head was barely above water, I still took a stand and went out of my way to take care of ME (nutritionally speaking).

I have relied a lot on soups and big honkin' salads, but there hasn't been one run to a fast-food drive-thru...and not one late-night dessert run to Marsh.  That's big news for me.

Last week I stayed the same - no gain or loss - just maintained.  This week I lost 1.6 pounds AND I worked out with Jillian Michaels on the dusty treadmill!  Hooray!  That brings my total loss to 94.8 pounds - only 5.2 to 100!

I promised to include some fun and delicious snack-attack foods this week.  I have been experimenting with healthy alternatives to some favorite snack foods:

1. The elusive Cheeseball
2. Rice Crispy Treats

First and foremost - the cheeseball.  So what is wrong with a good cheeseball?  Well, it's just pretty much a big ball of cream cheese with some green onions and some weird stuff they call "chipped beef" (at least that's the kind my momma used to make) rolled around in pecans.  Not a whole lot of nutrition - but I have to admit...everyone likes a good ball o' cheese - even me!  So what is a dairy-free girl to do?

Well, first of all, you need some good friends who are in-the-know.  My friend, Morgan, from the Little House of Veggies site sure knows her stuff.  When I saw this recipe last week I knew I had to try it out.  Guaranteed to please any cheeseball lover (and don't you dare say, "ew!" until you try it!)...

Herbed Cashew Cheese

3 cups raw, unsalted cashews
1 3/4 cups water
6 capsules of probiotic power (you can use acidophilus or all-flora capsules)

Soak the cashews for at least 2 hours, and then rinse well (just put enough water over them to cover).  Place cashews in a blender with the 1 3/4 c. of water and probiotic powder.  Blend until VERY smooth.  Place the "cheese" into cheesecloth and set into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl.  Cover the top of the cheese with the cheesecloth too.  Place a weighted plate on top of the cheese and let sit overnight to drain excess water and also allow the cheese to ferment.  In the morning scoop the cheese into a bowl and add:

juice of 1 lemon
1 green onion, white and green parts, chopped
large handful parsley, chopped (I used freeze-dried b/c that is all I had)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T nutritional yeast flakes (Sunspot or Whole Foods in the bulk bins)
1/2 tsp sea salt
cracked black pepper

Mix everything together and place into refrigerator until ready.  I let mine sit for several hours so that the flavors could really meld.

Here is her original recipe - Herbed Cashew Cheese and some yummy ideas on how to use it!  I just spread it on some whole wheat crackers and had my moment of cheesy euphoria!

On to snack-tastic food #2.  Ahhh...the rice crispy treat...so good and yet so bad.  But I can fix that!!  Healthy crispy treats to the rescue!!!  This recipe is from one of my favorite books, "The Kind Diet," by Alicia Silverstone.

Crispy Peanut Butter Treats with Chocolate Chips

1 box Brown Rice Cereal (try Barbara's Organic Brown Rice Crisps)
1 3/4 cups Brown Rice Syrup (pretty much a whole jar - I use Lundberg)
3/4 cup peanut butter (natural w/ no added crud - the label should say: peanuts - I like Smuckers Natural)
1/2 cup non-dairy, grain-sweetened choc. chips (try Sunspire of Ghiradelli)

Pour brown rice cereal into a large bowl. Heat brown rice syrup on low heat until it liquifies and then stir in peanut butter. Continue to heat over low heat until well combined. Add to cereal and stir to coat. After cooled to room temperature add the choc chips. Place in an 8X8 pan and let cool completely before cutting into squares. :-) Enjoy!!

WARNING!!!  Both of these recipes are highly addictive and even though they are healthy...you still have to portion them out! I figured up the P+ on the PB treats and they are 8P+ for 1/12 of the recipe - which gives you a good slab (they are really thick pieces).

I had planned on sharing a great trail mix recipe, but like a space cadet I returned the cookbook to the library.  I will have to post that one next time!  Have a great and STRONG week!  You can do it!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Soup-er Comfy Soups!

I have been promising...and now it's finally here!  I figured it was appropriate right now since we are buried under 100 feet of snow and in the midst of THE BLIZZARD OF 2011 (said in a dramatic movie-preview voice)...or not.  Even though we are not truly in a frozen, wintery catastrophe they are predicting some pretty chilly temps.  In honor of cold and flu season and cold, cold weather that makes you want to curl up and hibernate, I bring you...

My favorite-ist (is that a word?) soups!

The first two are simple.  Cold weather just screams chili and my absolute favorite chili recipe is from The Little House of Veggies website (check it out for some amazing veg recipes).  You have all probably heard me talk about it a time or ten.  You can click on the link below to check it out!

Morgan's Veggie Chili

I actually just made a huge pot of it tonight! YUM!  I always double the recipe because the leftovers are quick and easy and only 3 P+ for a cup!  I use Quorn grounds (1/2 bag or a whole bag if you double the recipe) in place of the Yves meatless grounds (which are also good...but I like the texture of Quorn grounds better).  The other change I make is I use (for a double batch) 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 can of Rotel mild tomatoes and chiles, and 1 can of tomato sauce instead of 4 cans of diced tomatoes.  It is a quick, easy, and delicious recipe that will fill you up and keep you warm!  

The next one that I have featured on the blog before is the Slow-Cooker Lentil Soup I found on the WW website.  I think this one really surprised the whole family.  Everyone slurped it down and my husband even wanted seconds!  You can check out the recipe by clicking the link below!

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

I am planning on making this again later in the week.  The changes (because there always are changes you know)?  I added some extra carrots and celery, used vegetable stock instead of chicken broth, and I omitted the Canadian bacon.  Again, this is another simple and hearty recipe that really fills you up for only 5 P+ per 1 1/2 cups!

One thing I love about WW is the people that you meet at the meetings.  It becomes a second family.  I love bouncing ideas off of other members and I love getting tips and recipes too!  The next two soups are some new favorites that I have added to my soup arsenal - both were inspired by recipes from WW buddies (Thanks Lynelle and Jaime)!

Lynelle's Taco Soup

1 onion
16 oz veggie broth (I use Imagine brand No-Chicken Chicken Broth)
15 oz can of f/f refried beans
15 oz can of black beans
15 oz can of pinto beans
15 oz can of diced tomatoes
15 oz can of diced tomatoes w/ chiles
2 cans of whole kernel corn
1 packet of taco seasoning

Saute the onion, dump everything together, & bring to boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. How's that for EASY directions? This soup weighs-in at only 3 P+ per cup! My kids are probably partial to this soup - mostly because it is one of the few opportunities I allow them to eat chips. We crumble tortilla chips and sprinkle with Veggie Shreds "cheese" and top with about 1T of Tofutti - Better Than Sour Cream. So good. So, so good.

Last but not least...a perfect soup to have around for the moment you hear a sneeze or sniffle. Most people associate being sick with chicken noodle soup, but I beg to differ! This soup packs a 1-2 punch with healing garlic and ginger and LOTS of great veggies! I have to apologize because I kinda made this up on the fly trying to mimic a soup one of my best buds brought to me and I used a WW recipe to help me get ratios right. Here is the WW version:

Asian-Inspired Vegetable Soup

And here are my changes:

I changed up the veggies for what I had in my fridge. I used: carrots, celery, 1 head of bok choy, 1 head chinese (napa) cabbage, 1 head of broccoli, 1 can water chestnuts, one red pepper, and one large onion. I omitted the peas b/c I didn't have any and I also omitted the mushrooms b/c my soup pot was getting REALLY full at this point! If you use the veggies I listed above you will need more veggie stock than the WW recipe calls for - I think I ended up using 3 boxes of dark veggie stock. Basically you need enough to cover all your vegetables. The cabbage will wilt down so once it has cooked for a while you will be good. Other changes? I used A LOT more garlic - probably double what it says and I grated my fresh ginger (please use fresh - don't use ground ginger from your spice cabinet!). I swapped cayenne pepper for the red pepper flakes - just a couple pinches will do ya. And last but not least I used BRAGGS Liquid Aminos in place of soy sauce. I would guess that I used at least 1/4 c to start out (mind you this is a big pot of soup). At the end I added a little more to taste. The WW recipe says it has 1 P+ per cup, but since I left the peas out I am 99% sure it is a big fat ZERO! Hooray!!

I am telling you that you will have super-powers if you eat this soup! It has so much good in it that there will be no room for the bad. It is magic soup! That is why I am calling it, "Jaime's Magical Soup!" :-) Don't believe me? Check out ginger and garlic's super-medicinal-powers!

Super Ginger! (hey it can even spice up your...um...love life!)

Super Garlic!

Oh yeah...almost forgot...I got so giddy about soup I didn't deliver the latest news! This last week I lost another 0.8 pounds bringing my total loss to 93.2 pounds! T-minus 6.8 pounds to the 100 pound celebration!!

Have a SOUP-ER week!