Feelin' Chalky

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Start Your Engines!

Just to kinda finish up the sugar post...once I eliminated most of the processed sugary "stuff" (packaged cakes, cookies, candy, pop, etc) out of my diet I found that my definition of sweet changed.  My tastebuds started registering sweetness much faster than they normally did.  So, in my opinion now, there is nothing much sweeter than a fresh pineapple, peach, pear, banana, even a good plain yam.  It is truly amazing how much my sense of taste has recovered over the past several months.  It's like opening up a whole new dimension of flavors.  ;)  Think I'm full of it?  Try it for yourself!

OK, it is week 15 for me and it marks the end of my first big goal.  I said that I wanted to lose 40 pounds by June 1st...did I make it?  Yep!  This week I lost 3.2 pounds bringing my total to 41.2 pounds lost forever!  My next goal is to lose another 20 pounds by August.  I am planning to go to The Brickyard or Allstate whatever you call it race w/ my hubby and want to wear shorts!  Last time I went with him was before the girls were born and I wore jeans and was MISERABLE!  :(  So here's to another 20!

Here are a few things I am lovin' this week:

Limes - I just can't get enough.  I love them in my water, I love to squeeze them over an avocado half with a tad bit of sea salt and just dig in with a spoon.  Mmmm...lime!  One of the few flavors I like in both sweet and savory dishes!

Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burger - I tried this out yesterday and it was very yummy.  It really reminds me of a fav appetizer of mine from Chili's (that is, I am sure, outrageous).  Have you ever had the Southwest Egg Rolls?  The "burger" tastes like a dead-ringer (minus the crispy fried shell).  I think that you could slap one of these babies on a sandwich thin, add some baby spinach, salsa, and either a chipotle mayo or mash up some avocado with ranch and it would be heavenly.  They are also great by themselves!

Fresh Ginger - i have been lovin' this for a while, but I am just now getting to it.  If you have only ever had the ground powder form of ginger - you are missing out!  It has such a powerful but pleasant flavor.  It almost has a citrusy background with the spicy kick we all are familiar with.  It can be used in tea or I love it in stir-fry or as part of a marinade.  It can help ease nausea and I guess it also helps with gallstones...good thing since I have a gall bladder full of them.  (I know, TMI)

Coconut Milk "ice cream" - I bought some the other day at Kroger's for my son who has issues with dairy products.  I, of course, had to try it and OHHHH MYYYY!  ;)  It is fabulous indeed!  The points value of the brand I got - Purely Decadent (Mint Chip) - was 3 for 1/2 a cup.  Pretty standard for ice cream.  I like the fact that there was no dairy or added sugar and there were only a handful of ingredients in it - score!  I found another brand at Sunspot called Coconut Bliss that is slightly higher in the calorie department, but it is also completely organic w/no added sugar or artificial sweeteners.  I'll let you know what I think!

Can't wait to try out some new recipes this week!  I'll be passing along the best of the best!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sweet Tooth

Back in the saddle again today!  I am testing out some new recipes this coming week and I am hopeful that I will have some good ones to share!

In the meantime lets talk about sugar...

We all love sweet stuff - some more than others.  I think I am abnormally drawn to anything resembling candy, chocolate, cookies, you get the point.  I have had to revamp my options since I started this journey and especially since I started WW.  Most of us know that sugar is bad for us partly because it is in EVERYTHING and we in turn eat (and drink) mass quantities of it!  So...what do you do?  I mean, plain oatmeal just SOUNDS unappealing and boring, right?  Here are some of my favorite alternatives these days (please chime in if you have tried any others that I have not listed!)

1. Maple Syrup - I love it on sweet potatoes, oatmeal, pancakes/waffles, etc.  We get a large bottle (32 oz) at Sam's Club for only $13...if you have ever looked at the price in regular grocery stores, then you know this is a good deal!

2. Stevia - I like this natural (not chemical) sweetener in things like tea or in my fav. Coca-Cola product: Vitamin Water Zero.  I think it is a great substitute when I want something other than plain water, but some people think it has an aftertaste...so that brings us to...

3. Agave Nectar - it looks like maple syrup and even tastes slightly like a cross between maple syrup and honey.  I have tried it in tea - yum, oatmeal - yum, and I even tried it plain just to get a feel for its taste and texture.  I really like it.  It is pretty versatile and can be used in anything from cocktail drinks to baked goods.  You can find it most anywhere: Wal-mart, Kroger, Meijer, Marsh, and Sunspot has a huge selection!  Thank you to my friend Jaime for turning me onto it...and double bonus is that it is low on the glycemic index, so instead of having a spike in sugar and then a crash, your body burns it more slowly and keeps your blood sugar more stable.  (Jaim - I hope I explained it right)

4. Honey - I love honey.  Let's all just say hooray for honey!

5. Pure Cane Sugar/Turbinado Sugar - This is the RAW form of the white sugar we are used to.  It is a light brown color and a little more coarse.  That is because white sugar is refined, this is not.  (By the way, did you know that they use charred animal bones in the sugar refining process...me neither...kinda nasty...just another reason to get hip and try better options!)  I buy "Florida Crystals" and I mainly use it for baking.  I think it is miles better in comparison to white sugar...why did they refine it to start with??  Anyone really know?

There are many other options you can find at health food and specialty stores.  I have seen brown rice syrup in lots of things lately...

By the way...I think you probably noticed that I didn't mention Splenda or Nutrasweet or Sweet n' Low or Aspartame...there is a reason.  They are CRAP!  Most of them leaked into products before they were even tested or approved by the FDA.  They are bad news for your body all the way around and can actually make you crave sugar and sugary foods more!

"How sweet it is to be loved by you..."  Sing it James...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Now What?

I'm kind of at the point of my journey where I am thinking, now what?  Don't get me wrong, I am still pressing on using the tools and knowledge I have accumulated, still in it for the long haul, but I feel like there is more.  Obviously, there is more weight to be lost.  My ultimate goal is to be under 200.  I haven't seen that since High School.  I felt healthy and I looked healthy then.  I've got about 84 pounds to go in order to get there.  Even so, I still feel like there is more I can do for myself and for my family to continue on with the healthy changes we have made so far.

I talked about a book that I read a few weeks ago that really rocked my thinking.  If you didn't read my "Skinny What?" post, you can check it out or get more info on the book here.  The book has caused me to question everything I have put in my mouth since.  I find myself looking at every label.  I feel like I am standing on the edge of a big transition in my life and I am scared to jump.

Why am I being so dramatic?  Because as an American I have learned over the years to fall in love with dairy products, sugar, meat by the plateful...and to think about giving it all up??  It's scary.  It's unknown territory for me.  Plus, as a card-carrying people-pleaser I am scared of what people will think!  Sad, but true!  I don't want people to label me with the "v" word.

What is it about vegetarianism or veganism that is so taboo anyway?  I only ask because I have had eye-rolling moments of my own.  Why?  Is it because we feel somewhat intimidated?  Is it because we don't really understand it?  Is it because it makes us question our own behavior?  Is it because there is a common stereotype that if you are vegetarian/vegan you probably are a stinky hippy or attend Lilith Fair or throw pictures of animal carcasses at people at PETA rallies?

I love animals.  I really do.  But, it has always been easy for me to disconnect with the reality of what I am eating because it tasted good and because I thought it was part of a healthy diet.  (OK, maybe not the quarter-pounder with cheese)  Now...I'm not so sure.  Here is what I do know.  I stopped eating beef and pork shortly after I started WW solely because I didn't want to spend so many points on one thing.  I wanted the most food for the least points.  I started eating a lot more turkey products and my fam ate lots of chicken (antibiotic and hormone free when I could find it) and fish.  I don't miss beef or pork.  Now I am at what I consider a "foodie purgatory."  I consider myself a flexitarian.  The word is really quite silly and honestly it's just a nice way to say that I can't make up my mind.  ;)  I eat mostly a vegetarian diet, but I do occasionally still have poultry or fish.  Right now, this is working fine for me.

It really is scary to think about the way food is mass produced, the way we allow things to go on behind closed doors and we just close our eyes and ears to it - myself included.  Can we really trust that the government has our health and wellness in the forefront of their minds or is it really all about padding pockets?  Do I think it is unholy to eat meat or dairy or sugar?  Nope.  But I also don't think that God intended things to be the way they are today.  He loves and cares for all of His creation, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.

I'll try to be much more warm and fuzzy with the next post.  ;)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Clearing the Cobwebs

Looks like I need to dust off the cobwebs...whew!  Sorry for the lull but I needed to recover from last weekend!  I have been choosing to "nap" (sleeping for 15-45 minutes) during the kids' "naptime" (which is pretty much a joke these days) rather than blog.  Now, I am back and raring to go...and I will post the recipes that I promised!

Here are some things I am diggin' these days: 1. Skinny Cow Ice Cream - they come in cute little portioned cups and they have some serious yumminess going on.  They are only 2 points!!  I have tried 3 of the four flavors: Chocolate Brownie, Dulce de Leche, and Strawberry Cheesecake...I couldn't find Caramel Cone.  2. Freaking Pistachios...can you say addictive?  I don't know if it is the fact that you get an activity and a snack in one or if they are just that wonderful, but I <3 pistachios!!  You have to watch the portion size - just like any nut.  They are 4 pts. for a 1/2 cup with shells and 1/4 cup w/out shells.  3. True Lemon, Lime, and Orange.  You can find them in the sweetener area in most grocery stores, but they actually have no sweetener in them.  They are pure 100% crystallized lemon, lime, and orange.  I love to put it in my water to give it an extra boost of flavor.  The orange is my favorite, but they are all good.  Secret tip (shhh) - go to their website www.truelemon.com for free samples - YAY!  4. SILK Light Chocolate Soy Milk...I swear to you if you have never tried soy milk (or juice as someone pointed out to me) THIS is your ticket in!  My kids drink the Vanilla version and love it...the Very Vanilla is really yummy too, but has a tad too much sugar.  In fact, I even like the plain organic SILK as well.  I use it in any recipe where I would use milk.  Can't even tell the difference.  Now, to drink it straight, the plain does taste like, well, soy beans - duh....good thing I like edamame!

This week I realized once again just how important it is to plan ahead.  My girls had a birthday party last Sunday and as per my request, my mother-in-law helped me by making some delightful lemon blossoms (little mini muffin-looking treats with a lemon glaze...mmmm....) for the tea party portion of the day.  Anyway, my first tip off should have been that it was a Paula Deen recipe, but I proceeded to eat 4 of them...assuming (you know what they say...) that they were 1-2 points a piece.  After all,  I allotted for them.  Curiosity got the best of me the next day and I looked up the recipe and typed it into recipe builder on the WW site.  *Cough, Cough, Choke, Sputter*  They were 5 points a piece!!!  In one fell swoop I had eaten through most of my extra weekly points.  Instead of saying oh well, and giving up, I tightened my belt and really got serious and decided that I was going to do my very best the rest of the week.  I exercised 4 out of the 5 days that were left in the week...thanks in part to my girls for begging to "do the new dance" (my Zumba DVD) everyday and thanks to my hubby for walking the mall with me since it rained all week.  The result?  I lost 2 pounds!  ;)  That brings my total to 38 pounds lost forever!  Here is a picture of the festivities (my girls are the two in the middle in case you don't know):

The moral of the story?  I think it is OK to genuinely mess up from time to time.  It won't make or break you.  However, it is always best to plan ahead and know your points before the food hits your mouth!  ;)

Here is one recipe I promised.  These muffins are 5 points a piece but are full-sized rather than their evil counter-parts noted above.  They are from a recipe I found on www.goveg.com  I think I would like to add some oatmeal next time or walnuts, but they are great just like this:

Chocolate-Banana Muffins

3 ripe bananas
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup of raw cane sugar (I use Florida Crystals)
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mash the bananas then add oil and sugar.  Mix well.  Sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips together and add to the banana mixture.  Mix just until the flour is blended - do not over mix.  Pour into muffin pans and bake at 350 until toothpick come out clean (15-20 minutes).

And here is the hands-down best pancake recipe EVER.  I am not a fan of large dense pancakes.  These are delicate and are almost akin to a thick crepe consistency.  They are great!  The recipe is in Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook as well as on his website www.jamieoliver.com

Jamie Oliver's Pancakes

1 egg, preferably free-range or organic
1 cup plain flour
1 cup milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of sea salt
2 T butter

Crack your egg in a large mixing bowl.  Add your flour, milk, baking powder, and a pinch of sea salt.  Whisk everything together until you've got a lovely, smooth batter.  Put a large frying pan on medium heat and add half the butter.  Use a ladle (I used a 1/2 cup to measure mine) to spoon the batter into the pan.  (The pancakes are about the size of a small saucer and the recipe makes 8 pancakes total)  *At this point, I added a small handful of fresh blueberries to each pancake.  Cook for 1-2 minutes and use a spatula to flip them over when they start to brown on the bottom and get little bubbles on the top.  When cooked on both sides, transfer to a plate, carefully wipe the pan clean with paper towels, add the rest of the butter, and start again.  

I served mine with a small dollop of honey Greek Yogurt (www.greekgodsyogurt.com) and a small drizzle of maple syrup.  They were perfection on a plate.

Go forth and EAT!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Meatless Wonders!

Well, this will be short and sweet and then I will more than make up for it next week!

I am prepping for The Greatest Spectacle in Tasting and I am feeling a tad nervous - OK a lot. Come on out and see us perform, y'all!  It is at 6:00 tonight and I promise you won't be disappointed...because there's lots of wine and food to sample!  ;) (shameless plug)

This week was hard for me.  I was up late several nights in a row and I felt like I was eating on the fly a lot more than normal.  My tracking wasn't as "perfect" as I would have liked it to be, but hey, that's reality and I need to learn how to manage in the real world.  I was pretty convinced this was going to be a bad week, but to my surprise...I lost 4 pounds!  :)  That brings my total to 36 pounds.  This is week 13 for me.  My goal was to lose 30 by the Greatest Spectacle performance, and I did that, and then my next goal was to lose 40 by the first of June.  Think I can do it?  We shall see!

Big changes this week?  I have been testing out some meat-free products from Amy's and Morningstar Farms.  I have been pleasantly surprised - really - I'm not going to lie!  I tried both Amy's California Burger and Quarter Pounder and they were great...I can't say they tasted like a beef burger...but I wouldn't expect them to!  I also tried MS Farms Chick Patties - better than normal chicken patties, and MS Farms Riblets which WAY exceeded my expectations!  In fact I made a "Mc.Riblet" Sandwich that was pretty dang good.  I just put the riblet on an Arnold's Sandwich Thin, added pickles and onion , and voila!  The only product I tried that I DIDN'T like was MS Farms' sausage style patties...they weren't bad, but they also weren't that great either.

I have a couple of recipes to pass on next week - breakfasty stuff!  One muffin recipe (that tastes more like a cupcake than a muffin) and the best pancakes ever courtesy of Jamie Oliver!

Hope to see you all tonight for some wining and dining and MUSIC!  RESPECT!  When you come home...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

Warning!  Ingesting beans may cause...well...you know.  ;)  i guess you could always use Beano!

I had the best burrito yesterday...and today.  The best part?  I made it at home!  I wanted to share this ultimate burrito with the world!  I got the idea from our weekly WW newsletter, but I added and subtracted a few items.  i will list all the items you need and then tell you the portions per burrito.  Here goes:

Aubstar's Burrito Grande!

Mission Life Balance Whole Wheat Tortillas w/ DHA
Corn (I used Steamfresh Selects bicolor corn and it was excellent)
Black beans
Fat-free refried beans
Green onions, chopped
Grape tomatoes, halved
Avocado, sliced, with a squeeze of lime juice
Shredded Lettuce

Hot Sauce
Fat-free sour cream
Shredded cheese
Chicken or ground beef

OK, so the kids had a "naked" and deconstructed burrito.  We are still in that stage where they don't like their food to intermingle very much.  They like to make sure I am not throwing in worms, I guess.  Anyway, I bought a rotisserie chicken for them and my hubby and shredded it, gave them black beans with cheese sprinkled on top, taco rice, and corn.  Makayla and Jadon like lettuce and tomatoes so they ate that as well. For MY supper (and lunch today), I took a tortilla, spread 2T of fat-free refried beans on it, and heated it for 20 seconds in the microwave.  Then, I added about a 1/4 cup of black beans and corn, and about 2-3 T of green onions.  I sliced 6 grape tomatoes in half, and then halved and sliced an avocado, and finally sprinkled shredded lettuce on top.  This makes a very full burrito, but it saves you 2 points for another tortilla.  If you have the points, definitely opt for two normal burritos...it gets pretty messy with just one!  The points value for one burrito with the above portions is 8.5.  Now, the avocado itself has 4.5, so if you are trying to conserve points you can always leave it out, but who wants to???  It is a nutritional powerhouse and makes the burrito very rich and filling...mmmm!  Also, if you want an extra kick, salsa is "free" points and so is 1T of fat-free sour cream.  The cheese, rice, and chicken/beef add points on fast, and really you don't need them!  The flavors in this burrito are so yummy without any extras.  Plus, the beans have enough protein and fiber in them that will keep you nice and full for a long time!  Fantastico!

Sidenote:  Have you noticed just how efficient your body is when you are eating healthy?  Exhibit A: I had a horrible looking "injury" on my right middle finger - right on the knuckle...and it hurt...bad.  Anyway, Saturday it looked nasty! Yesterday, I woke up and it looked almost completely healed!  Today you can barely see it...just a random but fascinating thought.  Not only are you helping the obvious things like your heart and brain work more efficiently when you eat well, but you are also helping your skin!

P.S. - I could not post a picture of this delish recipe, Morgan, because SOMEONE (meaning me) lost the memory stick to our camera.  Sigh...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

10% and a KICK!

So...it's week 12!  12 weeks have FLOWN by!  I am currently in the midst of a crazy whirlwind of events coming up.  There's Mother's Day, my sister's graduation, I'm singing at the Greatest Spectacle of Tasting, and then my girls' 3rd birthday/tea party.  This all happens in the next 7 days - whew!  I'm tired just thinking about it!

I am happy to say that I have met my 10%!!!!  Yay!  :)  My total loss thus far is 32 pounds...and I am ready to tackle the next 32!  I have learned a lot over the past twelve weeks.  I have struggled, I have cried, but I have survived.  (I might have to break out into song here in a minute)  During the meeting today I shared my "rock bottom" story - the thing in my life that really made me take a hard look at the reality of what I was doing to myself.  Here is that story:

I think I mentioned that I really suffered with post-partum depression after both of my boys were born.  Mainly on top of the typical "baby blues" I just felt completely overwhelmed.  We're talking to the point that I just cried all day and felt numb.  It is so hard to adapt to a new baby in and of itself, but when you are also still caring for other toddlers it is just mind-blowing.  The chaos is maddening, the sheer neediness is almost more than I can bear at times.  The only way I have gotten through the craziness so far is seriously by the grace of God.  My husband is so wonderful as well, and he is my rock.  He would see me so sad and try to reach out to me in any way that he could.  One way was through food.  We loved (and still love) to eat.  We loved (and still love to a certain degree) junk.  He works for Coke - I loved Coke (still love Coke as a company, just not as a drink).  He would make runs to the grocery or Taco Bell, or whatever when the kids would go to bed and we would eat together - it's really quite sick when I think about it now.  Food, to us, was not something to fuel the body, to give you energy, to give you life - it was just food, and we sure knew how to abuse it.  It quieted the sickness that was in my head.  It made that feeling of inadequacy go away...but only for a very short time.  One night he brought me home a "surprise" from the grocery...a double chocolate cake from Marsh.  It was a "cheer up" present.  I looked at it and laughed and exclaimed that it was silly to buy a whole cake for me - that there was no way I could eat it all by myself.  I took one bite.  Every time I walked in and out of the kitchen I grabbed the fork and took a bite.  The next day, I looked at an empty plastic container and it hit me.  I hadn't eaten a single nourishing bite of anything other than cake the WHOLE day.  I thought about the kind of message I was sending to my kids.  I thought about what I was doing to myself.  I cried.  That was rock bottom for me.

Ironically, I have turned the whole cake story into a positive reminder for myself when I start to feel overwhelmed in this whole process.  I am very much a jump in with both feet, all or none kind of person.  I have had to look at this journey a lot differently.  If I didn't I am sure I would have given up completely by now.  When I look at all the weight I have to lose I feel like it is so much bigger than what I can accomplish...which it IS without God...but I also remember how that cake ended up disappearing one bite at a time.  I can do this one pound at a time!  (It also helps me remember how fast "nibbles" throughout the day can add up!)

To all of you who have encouraged me and loved me to this point - THANK YOU!!!  Your support is beyond anything you can imagine!  Check out the video below of my 10% kick just for all of you!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Give Seeds a Chance

First off...here is the website for the almond (nut) tins that I talked about at the meeting - they are so ultra chic!  ;)

Almond Tin

This week is dedicated to seeds!  In an effort to try new things each week, we are now venturing into the world of seeds!  This week we tried flax seeds crushed up and "sprinkled" (kids like sprinkles - so that's what we called 'em) on yogurt and yummy roasted pumpkin seeds with sea salt...mmmm!  Both are oh so good for you and both were kid-approved!  In fact, my girls couldn't get enough of the pumpkin seeds!  In case you don't know, here are some health benefits of these two:

Flax seeds - high levels of whole-grain fiber, lignans (antioxidants), Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids (has been recognized as the richest source of Omega-3s), on top of that they can help combat a number of ailments and help lower your cholesterol: Flax Seeds

Pumpkin seeds (also called "pepita")- protein, iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, potassium, and both Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids

This week, I lost 4 pounds which brings my total to 30.8 pounds!!!  Hooray!  I am finally starting to notice the loss when I look in the mirror, but above that, I am feeling it!  I feel so much better, so much more alive and free!  It sounds dumb, but I do.  My kids are eating better and my hubby is eating better and my whole belief about food and about what I am capable of doing has been overhauled.  I am so excited to see what the future brings.  Next week I should hit my 10%.  Losing just 10% of your weight can have so many health benefits and decrease likelihood of so many diseases like diabetes and heart disease.  I'm not out of the woods yet, but I can definitely see through the trees!