Feelin' Chalky

Friday, September 30, 2011

Gearin' Up!

This post is (mostly) for the ladies...the ladies who like to get down...and sweaty.  Um, ahem, I'm talking exercise. I used to think people were nuts when they talked about their workout "gear." Gear...schmear...or so I thought...until I became one of them.

Don't get me wrong. I started out with nothing but a pair of stretchy capri pants, an awesome pair of shoes, and my lungs.  You don't HAVE to have "gear" but it sure helps make your exercising much more enjoyable.  It takes your mind off of your underoos falling down, the blisters developing on your heels, the bra strap that inevitably falls down every time you start to get your focus, your hair that's in your face and mouth, and the possibility of two black eyes.  My chosen activity right now is running but I think most of this gear that I am about to discuss is pretty universal.  Here are my top picks for workout "gear:"

1. A great pair of shoes. First and foremost and oh so important - shoes...good shoes.  Don't go grabbing some old jalopy, stinky pair in the back of your closet.  Your barking dogs will give you an earful the next morning.  I used to think that buying shoes specific for an activity was dumb - just a way for shoe manufacturers to jack up the price.  But alas, I might be slightly mistaken.  I still think a good pair of shoes costs way too much but in the end they are well worth the investment.  Last Christmas I went to a place in Carmel called Blue Mile. They specialize in fitting you for the right kind of shoe - specific to the kind of exercise you're in to.  They even video tape you running or walking on a treadmill and then slow down the recording to see how you naturally step (it has a fancy name - "video gait analysis").  It gives them an idea of how much and what kind of support your shoe will need.  It's pretty interesting really.  I got a fabulous pair of kicks that fit better than any other shoes I've had.  No achey feet in the morning anymore.  I think I will go back this year and get some shoes specifically for running since the pair I have are mostly for walking.  The whole shebang cost me about $90.  My feet thank me everyday.  Essential.

2. Nice socks.  Going along with the whole foot thing...get a good pair of socks.  Again something I used to roll my eyes at...but if you are blister-prone...this is a good upgrade.  I got some socks at the same store that are like Heaven on my feet.  They don't slip and they really add cushion in all the right places.  Very nice.  Plus they keep your feet dry.  I need to get some more.  The ones I bought have a band that wraps both sides of the heel and are made by a company called Balega.  They're seriously great - like a foot hug.  You can check out their site here: www.balega.com  

3. A good sports bra.  This is something I resisted for a long time - mostly because I didn't really think there was anything out there that would lock and load like I needed it to.  Next to going to a blacksmith and having some kind of metal suit forged I thought I was S.O.L.  Once again...wrong.  I researched and looked and researched some more and finally settled on trying a bra by Under Armor.  I will post the link and you will see that this puppy just looks bad to the bone.  No movement is coming outta that straight jacket!  I got it early last week and to be completely honest it took me a good 15 minutes to figure out how to put it on (thank goodness I've been doing yoga - phew!), but I love it!  It fits great and the straps stay up and now I can save money on under eye make-up.  Thank you Under Armor!  If you want any specifics about sizing...let me know.  I wasn't sure it would fit at first but it fits great!  Here is the link: Under Armor workout gear

4. A headband. I got this one down.  I may look like a biker mama running down the street but no wispy hair is getting in MY eyes!  I bought a semi-stylish cloth head wrap at Tar-get (said with a French accent) that I decided could also double as a keep-my-stinkin-hair-outta-my-face device when I am working out.  It is completely functional - and in my opinion necessary...unless you are a man...or bald (which in that case - sorry).

5. Pants with underwear built in.  I am not sure what the correct name is for such a thing, but last winter I bought a pair of adidas workout pants that had underwear built into them.  I thought it was strange at the time, but now I know why there is such a beast.  Nothing is more annoying and workout sabotaging than underwear creep.  It can creep both ways...it can fall down and tick you off and it can creep up and irritate you (in more than one kind of way).  Anyhoo...it is really nice to have that freedom to just slap on some workout pants and not worry about slippage.

Those are my current top 5 picks.  I am sure the more I run the more I will long for other items.  Right now I am happy with just using my cell phone as a stopwatch and I don't run long enough to need one of those water backpack thingees...but maybe someday.  Until then...race you to the stop sign! Ready, set, GO!

*I am not being paid to endorse any of these products although I sure wish I was! ;-)

Friday, September 2, 2011


I've been contemplating what to write about lately.  I am in a new phase of my journey which I have entitled, "whole new me."  It's a play on words you see...I am learning who I truly am now...and at the same time really striving to live a "whole" life, one that is balanced.  It's funny.  I thought I knew who I was.  I didn't...and I still don't.  What I have learned over the past year and a half is that my excess weight was partially a means to hide the real me - and in turn shelter myself from pain, rejection, failure.  Maybe it was even to keep me from the greatness that God stamped into me.  We all have greatness stamped into us you know?  Through that sheltering process I lost myself completely - plum forgot who I was.  And now that most of my excess weight (read: protection, shield, or force field - haha) is gone, I am left dazed and confused!  Obviously there is a whole lot more to that equation, but that's a big piece.  Moving on...

The big thing that has been weighing on my mind lately is, "WHO am I...really?"  I am not the girl that started this journey.  I mean, sure, there are glimpses of "her" in me - there always will be, but for the most part I am a new person.  After weeks of rolling this around in my head I decided that who I am now doesn't really matter.  The meat of the issue is really deciding who I want to be.  When I look deep down inside and picture "me" at my best...what does that look like?  Here is what it looks like for me: 1. I am smiling on the inside and out, 2. I feel uninhibited - free, 3. I am active - usually I envision myself running and playing with the kids, 4. I am confident and strong - I believe in myself, 5. I am successful.  Now I want to clarify the part about success.  When I say, "success" you probably immediately think about money.  I tend to see success as more than that.  I see myself helping others reach their goals and I see myself following God's will and direction for my life - that's what I qualify as success.

The next step beyond who I want to be is to decide how I get there - what steps do I need to take?  Well, first off...I have to practice.  Practice what?  I need to practice being confident, being strong, uninhibited, happy, active, successful.  This means stepping out of my comfort-zone...disallowing myself to be complacent with my life.  Talk about culture shock! :-)

First stop?  Active.  UGHHHHH!  Active?  It goes against every fiber of my being, but I know that being active is a big part of overall health.  I have always associated "active" with pain, embarrassment, and failure - it's no wonder I have an aversion to it!  The first thoughts that flood to my brain when I think of exercise and activity are ones of gym class, Jr. high basketball, the biggest girl in gymnastics, lame attempts at t-ball, failed try-outs for the color guard...let's just face it...I am not the most coordinated creature on the planet.  I wasn't designed for athletics - I am an artist at heart.  BUT it's time for me to create NEW visions of what "active" means in my life.  So that is what I am going to focus on from now until Christmas.  I will still be blogging about food (duh) because, well, I love it, but I am also going to make myself more accountable in the activity department.  You know, that dreaded "e" word? Exercise?  Yeah I am going to do that...at least 5 days a week...maybe 7!  I will try to do a weekly post of the things I have tried.  Who knows...maybe I will find something I truly love!

So here is what I have been up to the last several days/weeks.  One thing I always thought I would hate is running.  Seriously.  What can be pleasurable about being sweaty, out of breath, and in pain?  I don't know what got into me the other day but my body told me to get out of bed and run.  So I did.  The first day I patted myself on the back because I thought I'd run a marathon...not so much.  After measuring it I realized that I ran a half a mile.  Oh well!  It was a half a mile more than I would have ran if I had stayed in bed! :-) The next day I ran a whole mile without stopping!  I was really proud of myself!  For me this was an accomplishment!  I couldn't even run a mile without stopping in High School.  I got a C- that semester because I failed to run the mile!  Anyway, this achievement made me realize how far I have come.  My body is so much more full of life!  I can do more than I realize!

Now it's on like Donkey Kong!  I am pushing my limits everyday - trying to see what I am made of.  There are three goals I have for next summer: 1. I want to run a 5K - the whole thing - no stopping, 2. I want to walk the mini with my best buddy, and 3. I want to participate in Warrior Dash.  Those are three things that I know I can do if I just keep pushing myself.  What are your goals?

If you would like a daily update on what things I am doing EACH DAY to become the bestest me I can be...please friend "The Incredible Shrinking Mama" on Facebook.  I will post everyday the things I did to better my health.  I want to make it a challenge to all of you out there to post things too!  I'd love to hear from you!  We can support each other!

Now go get strong!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Dark

Everyone has a past.  Everyone has things about themselves that they don't like...that they fear...that they want to hide.  Everyone has a "dark" side.  Typically we present out lighter selves to the world - put our best feet forward, smile, and stuff the darkness back in...but sometimes that darkness creeps out here and there.  And sometimes we just get tired of stuffing things inside.  I'm tired.

So why bring this up on a blog that deals with health and weight loss you might say?  Well...it's simple.  When you start peeling back the layers of your self, losing weight, getting healthy, you start to feel a need to also shed some emotional baggage.  In fact, I think that my emotional baggage outweighs my physical baggage at this point.  And that is what I am being led to focus on at the present. I have been stuck for a while now, and the more I pray and read and hear and think the more I am seeing that I'm not going to press forward without admitting to myself and the world who I really am.  It doesn't mean that I have to like it and it doesn't mean that I can't or shouldn't work on changing some of it, but I do know that until I embrace all of ME...I'm not going to reach my ultimate goal - [INCREDIBLE] wellness (which just happens to be the name of my business...yes, shameless plug).

I am not going to attempt to rationalize anything or explain myself either.  Yes, I believe that God made all parts of us - good and bad - for a purpose.  And I do believe that our weaknesses keep us humble and reliant on the One who created us.  I see some of my weaknesses and realize how they help me to cope with the life I have been given...and others...I'm not so sure.  Today I am merely shedding light on the dark parts...admitting my imperfections...and then I am going to stop pretending to be someone I am not.  I am done acting.  I am done trying to please everyone - it's impossible anyway,  and I am surely done with feeling bad for my shortcomings.

Some things you will read are fears that I hold and some are things about my character or personality that I don't like.  I'm not going to tell you which is which.  It doesn't matter.  Mostly it's just emotional baggage of some kind or another that I am ready to release.

This is my catharsis.
I am messy, disorganized, lazy, and scattered.  My mind races 24 hours a day. I am consumed with worry most of the time.  My house is always dirty.  I have a tendency toward selfishness.  I yell at my kids.  I am inept at being a parent and I truly at times just can't handle the amount of responsibility that has been placed on my shoulders.  When I am overwhelmed I try to hide - from friends, from responsibility, from life.  I am driven less by passion and more by fear.  I hate being judged - thinking about it makes me ill.  I am angry at the lies that our government tells us about our food, our education, and our health.  At one time or another I have lied, cheated, or stolen.  I hate when someone questions my intelligence or makes me feel inferior.  I am a control freak...and when I can't control something or someone I get angry.  

Ahhh...doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?  Yeah. Me too (*sarcasm*).  As much as I'd like to take back the paintbrush and start painting happy trees - telling you all of the good things about me - I'm not going to.  That's the purpose of this post.  I need to be OK knowing that everyone is now reading the "bad" things I wrote.  I need to own them so that I can move past them.  I encourage anyone out there who is feeling "stuck" in life to do something similar.  Just write some things down and give it to your spouse, friend, parent, child, pet (haha) etc.  I feel better already - I think.

And to update you on my raw food cleanse...

I am still trying to eat at least 2 raw meals per day - whether it is a smoothie or juice or some other raw meal concoction.  It has been harder for me this week for some reason.  I'm not sure if the emotional junk (see above) is zapping my energy or if it is the things I am eating (or not eating).  Surely it is because I need to eat more chocolate, right?  I mean, that's got to be the problem! ;-)

Until next time...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Shrinking and Juggling

Wow.  Seems like years...or three months. ;-)  So where the heck have I been?  To be completely honest I have been hiding...cowering...whining and complaining.  You see I just was embarrassed that me, THE Incredible Shrinking Mama, had somehow stopped shrinking.  I guess my body forgot to send me the memo and the instruction manual.

I am happy to say that after three months things have started moving in the right direction again!  After playing a juggling game with the scale - up and down, up and down for three months I decided that my arms were getting tired.  I'm not 100% sure why my body stopped responding to what I considered a healthy diet, but I do know that a lot of change has taken place in the last year and a half...see exhibit A:

Desperate times call for desperate measures! (didn't Jafar say that on Aladdin?)  And by desperate measures I mean...change!  Daggonit if I just didn't want to jump up and down and throw a tantrum, dig my heels in deep, and pout!  I mean...look at all the skinny people who eat junk all of the time!!!  UGH!  But instead, I prayed (and cried) - a lot.  I kept pleading that God would show me the next step.  I didn't really question WHY I was going through a lull...I just wanted to know what my next move was.  Three months later (God's timing is much slower than mine!) my friend and I showed up at WW and decided that we were going to restart our system by going (mostly) raw!

So what is "raw" you might say?  There are a lot of books and websites and such that go into further detail than I will BUT for me this is what it means: eating foods that are LIVING - not processed.  The raw food movement is a super-BIG deal and I am only scratching the surface with this post so I will list some great sites at the end if you want to research it any further.  Basically I have recommitted to not put any sugar/preservatives/chemicals/crud in my body.  I committed to eating fruits and veggies in their natural state - uncooked- as much as possible.  Note: Uncooked? Why? Because cooking food destroys a lot of the important nutrients and enzymes

I have to say up until the last couple of weeks, I had gotten pretty comfortable with sugar again - not going on sugar binges but eating it here and there and I could tell a difference in the way I tasted food.  Everything started tasting bland again and I found myself reaching for more "sweet" (maple syrup, stevia, etc.)  or salt to add to it.  I had also grown accustomed to grabbing easy (packaged) snacks...even though most were healthier options...they were still "junk" foods.

The biggest bonus for me has been the renewed excitement of the process.  Things had become mundane and were no longer fun or exciting.  Now I am back to making new recipes and experimenting with new flavors and textures.  I am back in the saddle and ready to ride into the sunset!  On top of eating (mostly) raw I have also been experimenting with juicing at least once every day which has been fun!  I feel better now than I have my whole life.  I feel alive and energetic and my mind is clearer. (Speaking of juicing...have you seen, "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" yet?  If not...you need to!)

So what have I learned over the past 3 months?  I guess the biggest thing I have learned is that we can't keep doing the same things and expect different results.  After watching the scale remain steady for several weeks I should have wised up and made a change, but I didn't.  I am pretty stubborn like that.  I have also learned that my body is different now than when I started this journey.  I have a lot of healing to do emotionally and physically.  In order to get that healing ball rolling I need to feed my body the best fuel I can find so that it can start repairing the damage of 29 years of excess.  The last thing I learned is that I have to be OK with where I am RIGHT NOW.  I can't always be looking for the next big thing, the next big goal, the next clothing size.  I have to be grateful for what I have been given and prayerful that God will continue to mold me and use me for His glory!

Since I started this new chapter I am happy to say I have lost 6.4 pounds!  Yay!  My total weight loss is 106.6!  :-)  Here's to more celebrating in the future!

***If you'd like more information about eating raw or about juicing, check out a few great sites:

and a great Raw Food resource from my school!

For more recipes and such be sure to "friend" The Incredible Shrinking Mama on Facebook!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Roller Coaster Ride

I made a promise to myself...that I would write a post today if I had some extra time.  Well guess what? I have some time! Yay!

I know it has been a while...much too long.  Things have started getting a little overwhelming here.  My husband started a new job with FedEx which translates to later dinners and more solo hours with the kids...which in turn equals mental and physical burn-out on my part.  On top of that throw in the fact that I am starting classes in a week, singing regularly with a great band, and trying to revamp the blog.  Phase one of the revamp is complete.  I changed the background and added a search engine.  You can now look up any post with a few key words.  Try it out!  No more searching feverishly for a favorite recipe!  Hooray!  Phase two will include some killer pictures (soon to be taken) from one of my pals and hopefully some other cool graphics and such.  Keep an eye out or make sure you are a fan of The Incredible Shrinking Mama on Facebook for all of the latest updates!

I have decided that since the big 100 I wanted to lay off of the weekly updates.  I am feeling a whole lot of unneeded pressure and anxiety to keep pulling big numbers in order to keep my readers excited and engaged.  I have recently realized that I am NOT a reality show.  At this point in the game it about one thing for me - health.  I am no longer as focused on my weight or a specific number or size (even though I still would like to lose another 50-60 pounds).  My biggest goal throughout this process has been and still is to be as healthy as possible and to take my family and as many friends as possible with me on the journey. I still think numbers are a great way to remain accountable but I don't want them to end up sabotaging my efforts.  From now on I will include a monthly update with the first post of every month.  So here goes...

This past month has been a VERY wild roller coaster.  I am learning a lot through my prep work for school.  I have been really tuning into what my body wants and needs - nutritionally speaking.  It is quite amazing.  I have also been flirting with some dietary theories out there - mainly the Blood-Type Diet.  Again - amazing and fascinating.  I have discovered through personal experimentation that my tolerance for sugar and refined flour is almost none now.  The week after I hit 100 I ate more breads and sugar than normal.  I had a baguette at Panera, a scone here, a cookie there. You get the idea...I was a little more "free" with my choices.  I wish I would have taken a picture for comparison.  Next time I go on a sugar/bread binge I will definitely take pictures.  It caused me to bloat to the point that (to me) I looked and felt pregnant - kinda scary actually.  Who knows what my insides looked like *shudder.*  This free-eating started my roller coaster of a month.  Up one week - down another, up again and finally back down.  I am happy to report that I am back to the basics again and really just feeding myself the way I should - fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lots of water, and very limited amounts of sugar and (white flour) bread.  I am experimenting with other baked goods like spelt and brown rice breads...oh and some super-delicious buckwheat waffles.  So far I love them (except for the price!).  This month my total loss is a little over 3 pounds!  Hooray!  Still traveling in the right direction!

Something I have really been craving lately is salad.  Don't groan.  I'm not talking iceberg and tomatoes.  I am talking big, fresh salads with bright flavors and lots of color.  One salad I am loving right now is my concoction I am calling the Sunny Salad:

Sunny Salad

2 c. Romaine Lettuce
1 c. Mann's Sunny Shores (broccoli slaw mix)
4-5 strawberries, sliced
1/4 c. fresh chopped pineapple
1 baby cucumber, sliced into bite-sized pieces
BRAGG Organic Hawaiian Dressing and Marinade (about 2-3 T.)

This was the original salad and it is delicious just as is, but the next day I added:

1 small tomato, clopped, seeded, and cored
1/4 c. yellow bell pepper, chopped
1-2 green onions, chopped
fresh ground black pepper

Try it both ways.  The dressing is KILLER!  You can find it at Sunspot or right here!  It is crazy-low in calories and all that jazz and has some great health benefits as well!

I am working on some delicious recipes.  Hopefully I will get a chance to start sending some your way next week!  What's YOUR favorite healthy spring or summer dish?


Monday, April 4, 2011

This Post Is For The...Kids!

Most of you know that I have kids...a lot of kids...a herd of kids.  Most of my day isn't consumed with beautiful food and cookbooks.  It is consumed with caring for these beautiful cherubs that I have been blessed with. (or demons depending on the day - haha)  This post is (mostly) for the kiddos or kids-at-heart in your life.

Most kids love play-doh...mine included.  However, with my kids being so close in age it is VERY difficult to make sure large quantities are not being eaten during a 30 minute "doh" extravaganza.  Ew.  Have you ever tasted play-doh?  Of course I have...and paste, and crayons, and paper...yeah I was "that kid" in school.  I don't even want to THINK about what is actually lurking in a ball of play-doh - chemicals, hair, fuzz - you get the picture.

To make our "doh"-fest more pleasant I decided to try out a recipe that I found online.  I altered it slightly to fit our needs.  It is super-simple and actually tastes good too!  It was a great activity to do together - even my youngest could join in on the fun!

Edible Peanut Butter Play Dough

1 cup powdered soy milk
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey

Mix and shape.  Use nuts and dried fruit for decoration.

Here are some action shots:

 An artist at work.
 Of course we had to sample our masterpiece.
Our delicious decorations.

Something else fun for the kiddos (and tired moms)?  Quick and easy lunches packed full of good stuff and topped with "cheese."  Shhh...they will never even know how good it is for them!  They even liked the name of this dish. It made them giggle when they said it.  I think Rachel Ray has a dish called this? Oh well...I'm claiming it!  And who doesn't love giggling kids?  Sure beats crying kids any day! :-)

Easy PEAS-y Cheezy Rice

Brown Rice (I used some leftover rice I had in the fridge - about 2-3 cups)
Peas (you can use canned or frozen - about 1 1/2-2 cups)
We Can't Say It's Cheese! - about 1/2-3/4 a tub of the Cheddar-style Dip

Mix together, and heat.  Serve to a hungry pack of kids alongside sliced apples or some grapes and smile. :-)  This dish gives you a great boost of whole grains with the brown rice and whole grain oatmeal (in the cheese sauce)!  Plus you sneak in a green veggie! Hooray!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Celebrate Good Times, C'mon!

Hmmm...should I start things off like this?

Or this?

Anyway you slice it...it's big news...I hit my big goal today!!!  I lost 3 pounds this week bringing my grand total up and over the 100 pound mark (101.6 to be exact!).  I am so overwhelmed with emotion that I am speechless.  Well, almost...

And by the way...the products I reviewed are from a company called WayFare and you can check out all of their products on their website here.  I promise you won't be disappointed!

This morning at my WW meeting there were so many things I wanted to say about the last year and a month (and 5 days...but who's counting really?).  Looking back on all the changes I have made it is hard to consolidate everything into a short little "speech."  The biggest thing I wanted to convey is that YOU are the only one responsible for your success.  It has to be a personal journey.  God gives you the strength and places the right people and information in your path, but YOU have to be willing to take it all and run with it.  I think we all rely a little bit too much on other people and things to carry us through...and even though other people are SO incredibly important for support and motivation...you are the one that has to face the scale each week.

For so long I refused to take responsibility for my health.  I fooled myself into believing that I was just destined to be overweight my whole life - that it wasn't my fault.  I believed that somehow I was flawed or broken and that I couldn't be fixed.  I think we all tell ourselves things like this from time to time.

Once I erased all memory of what I thought I knew about weight and diet and food I was able to soak in the truth.  I broke off the unhealthy relationship I had with food and was able to see things clearer than I ever have.  The information is truly out there we just have to be willing to search for it.  Food is the ONE true "medicine" we all need.  It is the only proactive approach to health.  Medication and surgery are just ineffective solutions to a bigger issue - simply put, they are bandaids.  

The biggest thing I have learned from WW is how to turn my need for control into a healthy habit.  Before when I would "diet" I would restrict what I put into my mouth.  I would keep myself away from things I love the most in an effort to get through a 6 month program.  That was my form of control.  Now I control my lifestyle by writing down (or tracking) what I eat and by keeping track of things like water intake, fruit and veggie intake, protein, whole grains, and dairy (or in my case non-dairy alternatives).  I try to also exercise control when it comes to portion size (most of the time).  It is not difficult or time-consuming to grab a measuring cup or a tablespoon and make sure I am not overeating.  A food scale has become one of my greatest allies.

Don't underestimate the power of eating fresh, whole foods.  Fruits and vegetables have such amazing power locked up inside.  That power is transferred to us when we consume them. Food isn't meant to be in a box.  Food in a box isn't healthy either.  Make an effort to eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains everyday.  That was the very first step I took.    I think that is the foundation of success when it comes to living a healthy life.

My best bud, Jaime, shared a fabulous cookbook with me the other day and I wanted to pass along a couple of recipes I tried out this week.  the book is called, "Appetite for Reduction," by Chandra Moskowitz.  You can check it out on amazon by clicking the link below!  

Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce

3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp garlic (I used fresh she called for powder)
2 tsp onion flakes (again, I used fresh)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
2 T broth powder (I used Better Than Bouillon Veggie Soup Base)
2 cups water
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard

Place everything but the water and mustard in a bowl and stir to combine.  Add water and whisk or use the back of a fork to mix and make smooth.  Pour into a 2-quart saucepot and cook on medium-high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.  When the mixture comes to a boil, bring down the heat and cook for another 5 minutes while stirring constantly until it has a thick and smooth, cheese-like consistency.  Mix in the mustard and add salt to taste.  Serve over macaroni noodle or as a sauce over veggies.  (My verdict: YUM!  This one is a keeper!)

This next recipe is a mind-blowing salad with a dressing that would taste good on anything - including a shoe...right, Jaim?

Green Onion-Miso Vinaigrette

1/4 cup red miso
1-2 cups roughly chopped green onions (white and green parts)
3 T rice vinegar
2 tsp agave nectar
2 tsp chopped, fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup water

Toss everything into a blender and blend until smooth.  Use only 1/2 cup of the water to start with and then gradually add the last 1/4 cup to your desired thinness.  Chill until ready to use. (My verdict: There aren't words to describe this delicious concoction.)  P.S. this makes a lot of dressing - at least 4-5 servings.

And here is the salad...

Sushi Roll Edamame Salad
Serves 4

1 cup shelled frozen edamame, thawed
1 T rice vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar
8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups cooked and cooled short-grain brown rice
1 small cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 medium sized carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 cup thinly sliced green onion
4 tsp sesame seeds
1 sheet nori, chiffonaded (this can be found in the Asian section)
4 ounces sliced avocado
Green Onion-Miso Dressing

Basically...add the vinegar and agave to the edamame and toss.  Chop your veggies.  Place the lettuce in a big bowl and drizzle with a little dressing.  Scoop the rice over the lettuce.  Top with cucumber, carrot, green onion, sesame seeds, nori, and avocado.  Serve the dressing on the side.  (My verdict: You will want to keep this recipe very close at all times)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mid-Week Pick-Me-Up!

So I can't remember which one you eat when you "feel like a nut" and which one you eat when "you don't," but I made some Vegan cupcakes today that had me singing that song.  If you like chocolate and coconut you need to try these out.  I adapted a recipe that I found online a) because I can and b) because no matter how many trips to the grocery and how many times I read the recipe...something always goes wrong.  Today it was my oil.  I sniffed two oils from my pantry and they both smelled rancid.  I hate that. Such a waste of moolah! Anyway, despite my concerns about the cupcakes being a "complete disaster" this little alteration worked in my favor and gave these cupcakes their catchy name! ;-)

Little MOUNDS of Vegan JOY Cupcakes
3/4 c. Organic Raw Cane Sugar
1/4 c. Soy Yogurt (SILK Vanilla Live is good)
1/4 c. Coconut Oil (make sure it is really good quality)
1/4 c. Unsweetened Applesauce
1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 t. Baking Soda
1/4 t. Sea Salt
2 T. Apple Cider Vinegar (or lemon juice)
2/3 c. Plain, Unsweetened Soy Milk
1/3 c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)

Combine sugar, yogurt, oil, and applesauce with a hand mixer until smooth. (Tip: preheat your oven to 350 and set your jar of coconut oil on the stovetop to melt...it makes it MUCH easier to measure and mix).  Add in vanilla, baking soda, and salt.  Combine the apple cider vinegar with the plain soy milk and stir until it curdles.  Add to the rest of the wet ingredients.  Add cocoa powder, mix until smooth.  Finally, add the flour and beat with a hand mixer until smooth.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 22-25 minutes or until tops are cracked and a toothpick comes out clean.  This recipe makes exactly 12 perfect cupcakes.

If you're feeling frisky and want to try out a dairy-free frosting - this one is super-simple!  It is adapted from my "Skinny Bitch in the Kitch" cookbook.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
1 Container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (make sure it's plain b/c french onion might taste a little funny - true story)
2 c. Ideal Confectionary Sweetener (the Xylitol powdered sugar alternative)
1/2 T. Vanilla
pinch of salt

Combine and ENJOY!

By the way...last week I lost 0.6 pounds bringing my total to 98.2 - only 1.8 to 100!!! *Crossing fingers!*

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Roses Are Red...

As promised I am going to start a series of blog posts that I am lovingly naming, "The Skittles Series."  Hehe.  It will be an homage to one of my new favorite cookbooks, "Color Me Vegan," by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau which encourages us to eat more fruits and veggies in an array of colors.  Basically I will be pushing my readers (and myself) to "taste the rainbow' - hence the name. ;-)

This week is all about the color RED!  We are going to amp up our red-food power this week!  Red is such sexy color!  So to start things off, let's name some common red foods.  Pick a few items from this list to incorporate into your weekly menu:

Fruits: strawberries, cherries, red pears, red grapes, grapefruit, red apples, cranberries, raspberries, pomegranates, watermelon, and tomatoes are technically also a fruit...

Veggies: I'll add tomatoes here too b/c most of us eat them like a veggie, red potatoes, beets, red beans, red lentils, red cabbage, red onion, red peppers (bell and hot)...

Some other less common but delicious "reds" are red quinoa, elderberry, rhubarb, red miso, guava, papaya, and red okra (which I haven't seen around here).

So what is the deal with red foods?  Why are they red and why should we eat them?  First of all, let's start off with this: all plants contain substances called phytochemicals/phytonutrients (which is the basis behind this book).  Phytochemicals are created inside the plant to protect them from the elements and from animals and insects.  These "protective substances" are transferred to us when we consume them!  Would you believe that there are over 100 different phytochemicals in just ONE serving of vegetables?  Wow!

You've probably heard of antioxidants, right?  Most of us have.  They are ALSO present in large amounts in plants.  There are a lot of similarities between phytochemicals and antioxidants.  For the purpose of this blog, let's just say that we need them both because they help protect our bodies from the inside out.  They help build our defenses against diseases and even slow the aging process!

So what is unique about red foods?  There are several dominant phytochemicals in red foods that are worth looking at.  We will focus on two.  The first, and probably most commonly known phytochemical is lycopene.  Lycopene is responsible for making tomatoes red and watermelon, grapefruit, guava, and papaya pink.  Lycopene concentrates itself in certain organs of the body - mostly in the lungs and prostate gland (pay attention and tell your hubby!).  Its super-power is the ability to treat and prevent prostate cancer, heart disease, breast cancer, and various eye ailments (like cataracts).  Let's all cheer for lycopene!  Tip: to unleash lycopene's full potential - cook lycopene-rich foods before eating them...let's all eat some spaghetti (with whole wheat noodles of course) to celebrate! (p.s. ketchup doesn't count...unless you make your own OR buy organic ketchup sans HFCS!)

Another phytochemical found in red foods are betacyanins.  Betacyanins are found in foods like beets, red carrots (who knew!), red grape skins, red chard, elderberry, and red cabbage.  They, like lycopene, boast protective powers in the area of cancer-prevention and treatment!

To give you a couple of ideas to try this week and up your red ante...I chose two recipes from the red chapter (which was very tough because they all look SO good)!

Harvard Beets

3 pounds (about 5 medium) fresh beets, scrubbed
1/2 c. fresh orange juice
1/2 c. sugar
4 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 T. non-dairy butter (like Earth Balance)
Salt, to taste
1 T minced, fresh parsley

She gives several ideas for preparing the beets, but here is the method I am going to use: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Trim the greens from the beets leaving at least 1 inch of the stems attached so that the pigment won't run out during the cooking process.  Place the unpeeled, whole beets in a large casserole dish, adding some water to the bottom of the dish and drizzle with olive oil.  Cover the dish with foil and roast for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the beets are fork-tender.  When they are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off, cut the stem off, and slice into bite-size chunks.

While your beets are cooking, in a medium-sized pot over medium heat, whisk together the orange juice, sugar, cornstarch, and vinegar.  Make sure the cornstarch dissolves completely.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, whisking constantly.  Once it's thickened a bit, remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted.

Stir the cooked, diced beets into the sauce.  Serve either hot or at room temperature.  Salt to taste and garnish with fresh parsley.

And for a yummy dessert?  I've gotcha covered!

Watermelon Granita

1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. water
4 cups seedless watermelon chunks
Juice of 1 lime
Mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

Make a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a pan over high heat and stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside and cool.  Add the cooled syrup, lime juice, and watermelon chunks to a blender.  Puree until smooth.  Pour into a shallow, wide pan and freeze for one hour.  Rake with a fork and freeze for another hour.  The whole process takes three hours total - you get the idea. Rake again before serving.  It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 days (but who wants to wait?).  Serve in margarita glasses or large wine goblets and garnish with mint and watermelon rind.  Easy, peasy.  :-)  It looks like a slushy or Italian ice when finished.  I wish I could get a good picture to show you...I guess you'll just have to buy the book...hehe.  Actually if you click on the link above and then click, "look inside this book" you can see for yourself!  Purty!

This week I lost another 1.4 pounds!  That brings my total loss to 97.6 pounds!  Is it just me or is this 100 thing taking FOR-EV-ER??  Haha.

Have a SUPER-sexy RED kind of week!  Muah!

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!!