Monday, January 31, 2011

January in review (plus the giveaway WINNER)

At the beginning of this month I shared with you my New Year's Resolutions. Now that the month is over, I can't wait to show you how I've been doing!

One of my resolutions was to lose 50 pounds by 2012. I broke that huge goal into 12 mini-goals: to lose 5 pounds a month. I also made the goal to workout at least 3 times a week.

I'm so happy to report that I have been sticking to my goals and am quite on track. I've been doing Couch to 5k and strength training 3 times a week and Zumba once a week. I've also been strictly following Weight Watchers, tracking all my food and sticking to my points allowance. I've been eating a lot of fruits and vegetables (about 7-8 servings a day) and have eliminated all liquid calories from my diet.

So what did all that get me?

I have a lot more energy and I generally feel better.

Plus...

I've lost 9.5 pounds!!!!

Here's what my month of weight loss and workouts looked like:


On to other business...

Did you try Laughing Cow Cheese yet? Well, a lucky one of you will be trying some soon. Who is it?????

video

Congratulations, Sarah!!

Sarah said: "Ok, I love your post and am super excited to try laughing cow cheese! I don't have any New Years resolutions...so they are going great!"

Friday, January 28, 2011

share your talents!

this semester, i'm working from home in anticipation of Baby Girl's arrival. i don't have any restrictions on my activities, but because i am an adjunct professor, it's not very conducive to whole semester courses on campus when you're going to deliver three weeks before finals. :)

thankfully, i have been teaching online for several institutions for a while, and so i managed to continue to do so this semester. it's a huge blessing, but online classes come with a whole range of different challenges.  every occupation does, so i'm no different than any of you.  working exclusively from home, though, also brings with it a strangely new challenge: not really having any external measurement of my success. i do the dishes, and there are more. i do the laundry, and there is more.  i cook a meal, and another one comes along.  i grade a set of discussion board prompts or quizzes, and the next day there are more to grade.  it seems neverending and, unlike a really exciting or successful in-class experience, the online experience sort of divorces me from what i used to use as my benchmarks for personal success.

last night, as i was feeling like i wanted to metaphorically (or literally, perhaps) bang my head into a wall because of some frustrating student experiences, i decided that it was time to take myself out of the situation.

it was time to sew.

i'm far from being an expert seamstress, but i've been planning a few simple projects for Baby Girl's room. i've been afraid to start, because i was afraid to mess them up, but after some gentle nudging from the calendar and a mom who knows me SO well, i decided this week that i needed to get it done.  but, still procrastinating (as i am often guilty of), i put it off.

i have no idea why. it was so invigorating to pursue something that was just so different from what i normally do. here was a project, one that i had envisioned from the beginning, and here i was with the skills to accomplish it.  and i'm nearly finished--and it's fabulous!

i'd been feeling stressed and down all week, but just spending a few hours over the past day and a half working on this small sewing project has made all the difference.  i feel happier and lighter and SO excited to keep going. it's addictive, this hobby stuff!

(project-in-progress picture: i'm making a valance for her room. here's only a part of it, taken to show my mom my progress. picture longer, and eventually with tabs at the top, where my fingers are. be kind in your evaluation of my skills. :) )

i think it's important to take time for ourselves.  we all work very hard at whatever we do, but rarely prioritize our own needs.  we talk a lot about taking care of ourselves physically here, about feeding our bodies well, but what are we doing to feed our souls?  what do you do to decompress, to unwind, to really feed the parts of yourself that too often get neglected?

after the valance is done, i'll move on to the several other sewing projects that i have planned.  then, i have a cross-stitch to finish. yes, i suppose i could probably spend some of that time scrubbing a bathroom or mopping a floor, but i think i will be a happier, healthier me with some thread in my lap. 

we'd love to hear about your hobbies and activities, and how they get you back to a place of balance.  what do you do when your day gets too much for you? what do you look to as a measure of your own personal success, beyond your job and physical accomplishments (and certainly beyond the scale!).  what makes you unique and special? how do these talents help you to decompress?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Good Cause it's Florida


I am a Florida girl through and through. What does that mean? Basically… it means give me some crashing waves, citrusy fruit, and palm trees, and I’m a happy camper. It also means I’ve become spoiled and come to expect warm sunshiny weather, even in January.

One of the best quotes I ever heard about Florida was from a radio DJ who said “If you think God blessed Texas, you’ve clearly never set foot in the sunshine state.” Granted, I’m pretty sure he was talking about beautiful women, but I like to think he meant the beautiful warm weather.   

Because we have been battling dreary weather of epic proportions this week, I felt I needed to whip up a true Florida girl meal. I decided to adapt one of Publix’s Apron’s Simple Meals (another thing Florida girl’s love…Publix) and it turned out magnificently. It is the perfect combo of warm, citrusy goodness. I think I found my new favorite salad AND one that makes for a yummy next day lunch.

Citrus Chicken Salad (Florida Girl Style)


Ingredients:

2 Grapefruit
½ cup lemon curd
¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
3 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon cooking oil
¼ teaspoon Everglades Seasoning
2 tablespoons water
Spring mix salad blend

  
1.     Cut grapefruit in half and remove grapefruit sections




2.     Squeeze grapefruit membranes in bowl for juice

3.     Whisk grapefruit juice and lemon curd until smooth

4.     Add garlic powder to mixture (the original recipe called for ½ teaspoon minced garlic but I didn’t have any on hand).

5.     Preheat large pan on medium-high for 3 minutes.

6.     Season chicken with salt, pepper, and Everglades seasoning (I added the Everglades seasoning because its fabulous and I use it on almost everything). 

7.     Brown chicken on each side (I like mine really brown)

8.     Reduce heat to medium and add water. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.

9.     Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces

10.  Top salad with chicken and grapefruit chickens.

11.  Enjoy!

 



Needless to say, my husband wasn’t really interested in coming anywhere near this meal. While Florida residents love their citrus and warm grilled chicken….those from ‘bama prefer their salads to have a bit more ranch dressing, cheese, or fried chicken. That’s okay though. It means I’ve got healthy and delicious food for lunches the rest of the week.

Stored and ready to go!


Links to Health:








Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Progress Report

May I tell you something?

I recently lost 6 lbs (well, 6.2, if we are going to be exact).

Now, 6 lbs, in the grand scheme of things, is nothing too crazy (for a visual, think of it as 24 sticks of butter).

But....I feel so good!
It is amazing what little changes in your life can do to make you feel good. I still have a way to go to reach my goal, but I just wanted to share this little bit of information.

Here are some ways that I have found success:

1. Tracking. The days that I don't track my food are the days that I fall off the wagon (well, not so much fall, but I catapult myself off the wagon). I need to be held accountable or else I am a mess.

2. Working out. This one has been a challenge. Right now I am teaching a really tough unit (Julius Caesar) and I find that I am completely exhausted when I get home. But, I find that when I pack my gym bag and go straight from work, I am able to find some energy somewhere. Even if I just walk for 30 minutes, I feel so much better when I actually do it.

3. Being prepared. If I know that I am going to dinner, I make sure to take a peek at the menu beforehand to pick my meal. For example, tonight I am meeting some friends for a basketball game and we are going to Fuddruckers for dinner. I looked at the menu and decided to have a veggie burger with only half the bun (the bottom half) and sweet potato fries (I will only eat half the fries).

How are you finding success?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

recipe experiment: homemade nutrigrain bars.

so, a few weeks ago, i mentioned that i was trying to make breakfast items that my husband could take with him. while cold cereal in a bag will work in a pinch, i try to mix it up.

color me ecstatic when i found these.  almost nutrigrain bars with whole food ingredients? yes please.  i could already see the beauty of it, the awesomeness of feeding my husband some nutritious breakfast food that still tasted yummy.

i followed the recipe as closely as i could.  i'll let you read the actual recipe, to give respect to the creator of it, and will just show you how my process went.

i gathered my ingredients first. 

 please forgive the flip, but the best i could do was photo booth.

what i like about this recipe is that, for the most part, it asks for ingredients that you likely already have, with the possible exception of half of a large jar of jam.  however, publix had a BOGO sale on preserves, so my husband requested blueberry.  please note that we purchased preserves, while the recipe calls for jam. i feel like that's important later.

then i followed the first two steps, which was to make the crust.  i used my kitchenaid mixer.


it came out the consistency of like a streusel or graham cracker crust, the kind that's crumbly but comes together when you press it into a pan. the recipe calls for an 8x12 pan.  i read that as about the same as a 9x13, but it didn't really work well, as there wasn't enough crust mixture to fill the bottom, but my only other option was an 8x8, which seemed too small.   so i made the best of it.

i ended up filling about 3/4 of the pan on the bottom.

then i mixed the preserves with the water and spread it.  it made a thin layer of blueberry, but because it was preserves, there were whole chunks of blueberries rather than a blueberry filling-type consistency. i spread it as much as i could, but there wasn't really enough to cover everything. some areas were better covered than others, though i tried to keep it equal.

i then sprinkled the rest of the mixture on top, much like a crumble.

here's what it looked like as it went into the oven:


 looks pretty delicious, right?

well, sort of.  musicboy wasn't a giant fan on the first day. he said it didn't really taste very blueberryish and that it likely needed more sugar.  i may have set him up for that, as i talked about them as "homemade nutrigrain bars" and he may have expected the same sort of fruit density and sweetness that you get with those.  i sort of balked at his request for more sugar, since i didn't want it to be too sweet, but he has loved them when i have sprinkled about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of sugar on top before packing them in his lunch (which adds probably only about 10 calories). 

as i've thought about this recipe, and how it could be better and more acceptable to those who aren't giant whole food fans, i've thought about making a few changes.  when i make this again, which i will, i will do the following:
  • bake them for less time. the recipe calls for 20 minutes, but by then they were VERY brown. i think the tastes might be less overpowering if they were not quite as brown.
  • use a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose flour. it tastes VERY wheaty, which grew on me but could be overpowering to some.  
  • add more preserves! the recipe calls for 10 ounces, which is about a cup and a fourth. i would use at least a cup and a half, possibly more. i don't think more fruit could possibly do anything bad.
  • not serve them until the next day.  after i cut them and put them in a tupperware, it was like the flavors melded. they are delicious now (i don't add sugar...only for my husband) and i'm quite a fan.  
the recipe was not difficult to make AT ALL.  it made about 15 bars, each of which has 162 calories, 3.7 grams of fat (0.3 of which is saturated), 12 grams (!) of cholesterol, 8 (! seriously!) grams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of sugar, and 2.4 grams of protein.  they are fairly filling and satisfying and, if they are a bit too sweet for you for breakfast, i think would make a fine cookie/bar treat.

i'll update you when i remake them and let you know if they turn out a bit better.  but, honestly, the longer they keep, the better they are.  so, give them a try if your family is a fan of nutrigrain bars--you might have a new option! 

though my experiment didn't go exactly as i expected, i like that i tried it and was able to troubleshoot it.  i feel like there's a wealth of awesome recipes out there on the internet, some of which seem too good to be true (the spiced pumpkin muffins i made today? never baked all the way through. VERY FRUSTRATING) but some are just as good as they seem (tried a whole wheat bread recipe that ACTUALLY ROSE.  extraordinary. and pretty tasty, from what i can tell).  you just have to give them a try. 

as my public service, i'll try to steer you in the good directions. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Have you laughed today? *giveaway*


Let me tell you about my latest love affair. We met about 3 weeks ago, in the refrigerated aisle of the grocery store. I was looking gorgeous with dried baby spit on my shoulder, yoga pants, and my dirty hair hidden under a Gator hat. My baby was screaming her little chubby head off while my toddler was throwing groceries out of the cart while she tried to figure how to dig herself free. Then suddenly there he was, that beautiful blushed face and earrings called to me. The clouds parted and there was peace. At least for a few seconds.

Who is this new love of mine? The Laughing Cow, of course!

(was it a little too much?)

Have you ever tried Laughing Cow cheese? I did about 3 weeks ago and I think I've had at least 1 wedge everyday since. It comes in several varieties, but my favorites are "Queso Fresco and Chiptole" and "Garlic and Herb." Each wedge is 35 calories and only 1 Weight Watchers Point.

I started out eating it only on whole-grain crackers, but I've branched out and just have to share some of the many ways to use this special little snack.

You can eat the Swiss on apples or pears. Yum!

You can use it on your morning toast instead of butter. I toast a Nature's Own Whole Grain Sandwich Flat (100 calories) and spread some Garlic and Herb on both sides. I then fry up an egg and make a great egg and cheese sandwich.

Last night I made a quick and delicious low-fat Alfredo sauce. Here's how:
Laughing Cow Alfredo Sauce: (serves 4)
1 cup skim milk
1 TBSP Smart Balance
6 wedges Laughing Cow Cheese
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 pinch garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water (you might not need this)
Combine all ingredients except cornstarch in a small sauce pan and whisk over medium heat until smooth. If it's too thin, add cornstarch. Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftover.

A few nights ago I used it in mashed potatoes. HOLY (laughing) COW!
Laughing Cow Mashed Potatoes: (serves 3-4)
4 red potatoes
4 wedges Laughing Cow cheese (any flavor)
1 tbsp Smart Balance
salt and pepper to taste
Dice up potatoes and boil until fork tender. Drain and return to pot. Mash with your masher (or use a mixer if you don't have a masher) and then add cheese, butter, salt and pepper and mix well.

So you would think by the way this post is going that I have been paid to write it.... I WISH! I really just love this stuff and love that there's something I enjoy eating that doesn't wreck my diet.

I'm so happy that I want to give away a $5 Walmart gift card to one of you so that you can go and buy some Laughing Cow Cheese. To enter this giveaway, just be a follower of this blog and leave a comment telling me how your New Year's resolutions are going. The winner will be chosen at random and announced Monday, January 31.

Good luck!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Guest Post #2 - Slow Cooker Chicken Alfredo

This is the second in our series of Friday applicants. Chime in to let us know what you think!

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Slow Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Alferedo

Hi I would first like to tell you about myself they share a post that was recently on my blog. My name is Jacqui and I am in my late 20s and have always gone back and forth with my weight and being healthy. The last five years I have finally been at my happy weight (a little heavier then my thinnest), but I am loving it and want to help others see that it is possible without giving up the things you love!

On our slow cooker Wednesday plan, the next meal was Chicken and Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo. This meal was a little more work then last week, but it was the perfect dinner on a cold, snowy, winter evening. This meal was actually affordable as well. Here are the ingredients all lined up:

The total cost for this meal was about $10. The mushrooms I got on sale for $4, the fettuccine, and pound of butter both where $1, the cream cheese I normally buy on sale for about $1 as well (and you can see I use one that is fat free and one that is low fat to help keep the calories in check), the milk was $2 (and is fat free, again to try to make this meal a little healthier :-) ), garlic powder, salt, pepper, grated parm, and 2 chicken breasts (I buy them in a HUGE bag from Costco so we always have some in the freezer).

First thing you do is slice the mushrooms and cut the chicken into strips. Once those are both ready place them in the slow cooker and sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder on top (about 1/2 tsp each). Don’t forget your slow cooker liner!

Next place a medium saucepan over medium heat, cube the 2 packages of cream cheese and 2 sticks of butter. Add those to the saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of grated parm and milk. Whisk until creamy.


Now pour your cream mixture over the chicken and mushrooms and set your slow cooker for anywhere from 4-8 hours.


When you are ready for dinner, cook your fettuccine per the package directions and add it to your slow cooker masterpiece. (If you would like add some frozen peas to the slow cooker while the pasta is cooking) Sprinkle with a little more parm and you have a great dinner.


This has a great meal. It was creamy and had some great flavor to it. Hubby and I really loved it.

*Side note this recipe made 3 servings so it was a great deal and we have 2 more meals in the freezer!

Although this is not a super healthy dinner, I think balance is the most important part of any eating plan. Every once in a while we all need a great comfort meal dinner!

What is your favorite comfort meal that you try to make healthier?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

sick day.

our dear meg is under the weather, and asked me to let you guys know that she's planning to have an awesome post lined up next week but is, for now, taking care of herself (and rightly so! part of healthy living is knowing your limits and taking care of yourself).

i think it's been one of those weeks for all of us! we wish her a speedy recovery, obviously, and hope that all is well with all of you. 

check back tomorrow for another one of our guest posters--remember, we're anxious to hear what you think about our guests as we decide who to add to our roster!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A little something...

I, like teachergirl, do not have some fantastic post of new-found wisdom that I have been dying to tell you. Its been a really busy week because it was the end of the quarter at my school (today marks the new one). But I wanted to write some things...

Green Monster: Oh, so good. I have one every morning and have started to experiment with different flavors. FYI- Key Lime Pie flavored yogurt was not the best choice one morning.

Working Out: I went to Zumba last week and to the gym last night. I always forget how strong I feel after going to the gym. And as long as I am there before 5:30 pm, I can have my pick of machines to work on. I brought my gym clothes with me to work today so that I can go right at 4:30.

Sleeping: I have been going to bed at 10 pm. I actually stop whatever I am doing at 9:30 and prepare for bed. Before, I used to look at the clock in a panic at 11:15 and realize I should have been in bed long ago...

Eating: Getting better. If I have dinner at home, I have no problem. My issue is eating out. I look at the menu ahead of time, make a decision, but when I actually get there, I have no will power. But I'm working on it...

Anywho, I hope everyone has stuck to the goals that they made for New Years'. I have been really good about mine...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

hard work works.

so, just a little update. it's been a busy day, so i don't have an earth-shattering post, but it's been a good day and i just wanted to share with people who can understand and appreciate what hard work healthy living can be.

after my last appointment, with the "you've gained some weight" comment and the worry about all of that, i committed.

i mean, i COMMITTED.  it was christmas, and my mom was here, and usually that means treat-a-palooza and lots of movie theatre popcorn and dinners out, but i restrained myself. in fact, i exercised self-control in ways that i hadn't ever done.  no popcorn.  no real desserts, with a few exceptions.  healthy, healthy snacks and small portions of balanced food. 

basically, i went back to what i knew to do.

today? my blood pressure was INSANELY good. as in, i've never heard of it being that low.  all of this despite me having just done my glucose tolerance test, which, if you don't know about that particular joy, is ingesting what's essentially thick flat syrup flavored like a carbonated drink (but without the added fun of carbonated water!) on a basically empty stomach and then waiting an hour for them to take blood from you.  even the nurse thought it would be higher because of that.

nope. perfect.

and my weight?

up not at all.  i mean, it might have been up .8 pounds, but they didn't count it.  my belly is bigger, and our Baby is bigger, but i am not.

and then the doctor praised me.

and, sure, adoration and adulation is great (you may throw flowers at my feet if you'd like), but i don't share this story for that reason.  first of all, you are my community of healthy living friends.  when you succeed, i feel like i succeed--so i want you to feel like you had a share in my success as well.  because you do! with your support and your ideas, you help keep me motivated.

but i also simply want to say that ANYTHING is possible.  you have control. you have control not only over your choices, but also the determination that allows you to follow through on those choices.  cravings don't have control--we do. 

if i can do it, anyone can. 

Baby Girl is worth it--but so am i.  so are you!  i think we forget that part of it sometimes. 

thanks for letting me share my journey with you.  i can't wait to keep sharing it, piece by piece.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Spaghetti and Spinach Meatballs


We all know about my quest to get greens into my family's diet. I've been sneaking them into everything! My latest creation is a twist on spaghetti and meatballs that's just as good for you as it is good tasting. And it tastes pretty great. Promise.

Spaghetti and Spinach Meatballs
Serves 8 (9 WW PointsPlus/serving... plus 2 veggie checks)

For the meatballs:
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground white-meat turkey
1 package (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Nonstick cooking spray

For the Sauce:
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti

1. Put oven rack in top position and heat broiler. Place pork, turkey, spinach, breadcrumbs, egg whites, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. With your hands, mix to combine.

2. Roll into 1" balls (you'll have about 40 or so). I used a small scooper for the uniformity and then rolled them in my hands to smooth them out. Arrange on a prepared baking sheet and lightly coat meatballs with cooking spray.

3. Broil until golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating halfway through.

4. In a large skillet (I mean large) or heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions start to turn translucent, about 6-7 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, add tomatoes to blender or food processor. Once onion mixture is ready, add to blender. Blend, with the cap open a bit, until smooth.

6. Once blended, return to pan and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs and let cook for about 10 minutes. Now's a good time to cook your pasta.

7. Just before serving, add parsley and stir.

8. Add pasta and give it a good toss. If you like your spaghetti on the saucy side, don't cook the full pound.

I hope you enjoy it! Let me know if you give this one a try.

(It should be mentioned that this is my version of a recipe originally found in the January issue of Everyday Food Magazine.)
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What we're eating for dinner this week:
Monday: Grilled cheese on whole-wheat with tomato soup
Tuesday: Chicken with brown rice and green beans
Wednesday: Lean Cuisine for me, leftovers for EK
Thursday: Turkey tacos
Friday: Chicken with brown rice and peas
Saturday: Whole-wheat pizza
Sunday: Something TBD from a crock pot


Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy Friday!



As we continue making changes here at "So Maybe Mom Was Right" in 2011, we'd love to hear suggestions from our lovely readers. Is there anything you would like to see? Are there any topics you would like us to specifically cover? Now is the time to chime in! More recipes? More videos? Do tell!

You can also email us suggestions at: somaybemomwasright at gmail dot com

Thursday, January 13, 2011

101 in 1001






As I mentioned in my post last week, I have been working on a 101 in 1001 list. Actually, I started it on Tuesday (I thought 01/11/11 was a cool start date). Basically, the premise is to set 101 goals or tasks to accomplish in 1001 days. Obviously, this is right up my alley.

As I’ve mentioned time and time again, I think of healthy living as a lot more than just eating healthy and working out. In my world, it encompasses so many other facets. I feel that having hobbies or creative outlets, setting goals and feeling accomplished, and finding activities that foster emotional, mental, and physical health, are all part of healthy living. Because of this, I thought it might be fun to share my 101 in 1001 list.

You’ll find a mix of educational goals, organizational goals, fitness ventures, travel dreams, and opportunities to do things for others (obviously also throwing in fun things for myself!). I tried to determine tasks, as the directions instruct, that are attainable but require a stretch to accomplish. You’ll see day-to-day items and long-term goals. I’ve already started on a few  and hope to have something to cross off my list soon!
Let me know if you have a 101 in 1001 list, so I can follow along on your progress!


Links to Health:





Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Monsters are taking over...

I have been converted.

Do you remember when Meg wrote about the Green Monster?

I said, no way. Not happening. I like my spinach drenched in dressing and croutons (and cheese).

But I kept reading how good it was for you, how people noticed a spike in energy, how their hair shined, how their skin glowed. So I decided to give it a try.

I am hooked.

I'm not going to lie, it's not pretty. My first one came out a pinkish green with flecks of darker green. And those flecks got stuck in my teeth (not my most attractive moment). But it was SO GOOD!!

Here is what I did:
Cast of characters:
Frozen peaches, frozen strawberries, a Fiber One yogurt (vanilla flavored), spinach, and one very green banana (I went to two different groceries stores trying to find ripe bananas. No go.)

I put bunches of everything into a large cup and used my brand new immersion blender (I got it for my birthday!) to whip it all up!

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Yum!! Seriously! I was very surprised that I could not taste ANY spinach.
I had another Green Monster this morning and I am feeling good! Another plus, they are fantastic for both pre and post workout boosters.

Now for those of you on Weight Watchers, there is a little bit of confusion as how to count a Green Monster. If you plug it into the recipe builder, it counts as 5 points. But counted as a meal on the tracker, it is 1 point (because of the yogurt). I have spoken to many people about this and they all agreed to count it as a meal, therefore, 1 point.

In other news, I wanted to share what I made for dinner last night. I have been craving pizza like nobody's business. So, I created my own last night.

I used:
1 pita pocket, split down the middle
1/2 cup of marinara spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup of reduced fat mozzarella cheese
6 Turkey Pepperoni pieces
1/4 cup of pineapple chunks
1/2 cup of mushrooms

I split the marinara between the two pita pockets, and stuffed each of them with half of the ingredients. I put them into a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes...and I was in heaven!

Here is an insider's view...

11 points on Weight Watchers. Worth every single one.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

lunch box woes.

so i feed a fairly hungry husband every day for lunch. i don't feed him here, in my house, where it would be infinitely easier to find inexpensive, (relatively) healthy things to feed him. 

nope, i'm confined to a proverbial lunch box (which often takes the shape of a plastic grocery bag--don't judge me, that's my way of recycling) because of his schedule.  as we are trying to cut our grocery budget AND i'm trying to keep his health as awesome as possible (he's pretty great--i'd like to keep him around as long as possible, thankyouverymuch), it's been a challenge the past week or so for me to try to think of things that will be filling and not break my bank.

see, he's a guy. and not to cast aspersions on the guys out there, but they like the food that's not so much with the healthy. my husband would love nothing better than to kill a bag of potato chips in one sitting. while his metabolism may allow this now (though, occasionally, i do play the ticking time clock card--"oh just wait until you hit 30, babe..."), our food budget won't.

i remember days of yore, when i was a young one getting lunches packed for me, and chips were such a novelty that i was NOT ALLOWED to go near them for any other purpose. those things were like gold, it seemed, and though i didn't always love it (afterschool seemed to just need some fritos, you know?), i now completely understand it.

so, because my husband often eats on the run and doesn't refrigerate his lunch, i am operating under a few restrictions:
  • must be easily eaten while driving or moving, as he eats between classes and on the way to work
  • must be in pieces that can be broken up across the day, providing both a breakfast (he leaves around 7 or 8 every morning and doesn't eat breakfast before he goes--believe me, i've tried), lunch, and mid-afternoon snack (especially if he is working late, which he does several times a week, until about 8 or 9)
  • should contain at least a sandwich, some sort of starchy side (chips are his preference, though he deals with pretzels), fruit (he loves it, so i could get away with putting in multiple pieces, though they have to conform to the above requirements), some sort of other lunchbox item (sometimes fruit snacks, sometimes granola bar, usually something that can be a "snack"), and a treat of some kind (since we got copious amounts of chocolate, he gets one thing of santa chocolate a day*)
  • should not break the bank
  • should provide some sort of health benefits
  • should keep him satisfied (and energized) throughout the day
the last three are mine, with all of them providing me my biggest challenge of this past week.  for me, since i'm home, i can eat leftovers or soup or whatever i want because i can heat it up or pull it out of the fridge. though i am dealing with the beginnings of third trimester nausea, i am comparatively a cakewalk for lunches.

i believe i've cracked the breakfast/snack problem by making two batches of homemade (healthy! low calorie!) muffins and putting a few of them in his lunch. that's cheap and (relatively) easy, with the added benefit of allowing me to bake.  i use peanut butter on wheat as my go-to sandwich option, simply because it's easy, he doesn't complain about getting it every day, and i know there are healthy fats and good fiber in that combination.

but the sides. oh the sides. and even the fruit! the fruit makes me nuts. for example, he likes the little fruit cups with diced whatever in juice.  great. they go on sale once in a blue moon (this week, hallelujah!).  chips? if there's a party event coming up, we're golden. i can stock up.  but if there's not? it's a desert.  an expensive desert.

but beyond that, these are not great options for health or for money.  so here i am, trying to figure out if tangerines, because they have to be peeled (and are therefore difficult to do on the run) are the best option, even though they are insanely on sale. 

so i appeal to you, wonderful readers, especially those of you with kids or husband on the go: what do you put in lunches that makes you feel a little less guilty about killing your loved ones slowly with preservatives? any ideas for budget-conscious lunch box additions?

i feel like i am stuck thinking inside a box that doesn't include a wide variety of awesome, cheap foods that are healthy.

or else lunches are just the devil, in which case i'll just keep fighting it back with the occasional bag of baby carrots and double portions of fruit.

oy vey.

--

*i would just like to say, to toot my own horn, that after Christmas, i put all of these treats in a storage box and up on the pantry shelf. and i have not yet eaten one thing out of it. when we first got them, i ate all of the Hershey's kisses (not going to lie to you), but since i made that resolution to keep my sticky fingers out, i've done it. anyone who knows me, and the siren song of both Hershey bars and Sour Patch Kids (which was my gift from Santa), knows that's a triumph of the highest order.


i also say this to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT TOO! keep up with those resolutions. you're doing great!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cranberry and Oat Scones

The diet is going well (down 1.5 this week!), but I still crave pastries and other baked goodies. Here's my version of a recipe I found in this month's issue of Everyday Food for some delicious scones that helped fill that void for me. They're dense like typical scones, not too dry, and very yummy!


Cranberry and Oat Scones
Yields 8; 6 WW PointsPlus each

Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour (or regular whole-wheat will work)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat baking sheet with Pam or whatever nonstick spray you use, or line with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, oats, and cranberries. In another bowl, whisk together butter, egg, and buttermilk. Add this to flour mixture and stir just until evenly moistened.
3. Drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls (I like to use an ice cream scoop), 2 inches apart, onto baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through.
4. Cook on wire rack. Store in airtight container for up to 2 day, if they last!

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What's for dinner this week:

Monday: Grilled cheese on whole wheat with tomato soup
Tuesday: Lean Cuisine (I love them!)
Wednesday: Whole-wheat spaghetti with turkey meatballs
Thursday: Stirfry with green beans and carrots
Friday: Lemon chicken with brown rice and peas
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Lean Cuisine

Friday, January 7, 2011

Guest Poster #1

As many of you know, we are looking for a new Friday poster. For the next few Fridays, we will be "auditioning" potential posters...and we would love your input! Be sure to comment if you like someone in particular!! This week's guest is Alina, from Houston, Texas.


Hello! My name is Alina and I am excited to be this week’s guest blogger! A few things I would like to share with you about myself…I’m a very happy newly wed, a recently graduated physical therapist, a self-proclaimed domestic goddess, and chocolate cookie dough addict. I’m honored to be a guest on this blog because I am very passionate about healthy living and while I’m not perfect, I feel like my professional and personal experience has taught me some things that I’m happy to share!

I consider myself to be a healthy person, but I’m always making new goals and looking for new things to try. I think those are HUGE keys to healthy living. No one ever reaches “optimal health” – there are always ways to improve – but the kicker is your body requires continual maintenance. And if one thing doesn’t work for you, try something else, anything else really…

I’d like to share my recent experience. I was a runner – nothing crazy like a marathoner – but I enjoyed a 2-3 mile jog a couple times a week. It was my main form of exercise and stress relief. I say “was” because in June of last year I re-dislocated my knee cap. This has been a problem since I was 12, but this time was worse and instead of a few weeks for me to get back to running, it’s been 6 months and I still can’t run. In August, I also started a brand new, full time job at a hospital that is very physically demanding and by the time I get home I’m too tired that I wouldn’t be able to run even if I wanted too. And if that weren’t enough, in September, I got engaged and had the pressure of planning my dream wedding in 3 months! Not to mention get in shape for the wedding dress!

When the heck was I going to exercise for 30 min, 3 times a week? How would I find time to plan and cook decently healthy meals everyday? Good question. I didn’t. BUT strangely enough, I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in…ever.

I think what happened is that, due to those new circumstances, I couldn’t do things the way I was used to doing them. I had to think outside the box and maximize my resources.

I made a rule not to eat past 9pm.
I started going on walks, not runs…and I was walking everywhere.
I took 15 minutes in my lunch break at work to do strengthening exercises for my arms, legs, and core.
I ate smaller quick meals like an apple with peanut butter or pita chips with hummus.

These are just a few things that I found to be helpful and in the future I hope to elaborate more on some of these new “philosophies” of mine. But bottom line is I had to change my way of thinking, explore different options, and take advantage of what resources I had.

In my case, I was kind of forced to do things a little differently, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to have to think outside the box! I truly believe there is always something you can do to improve your health no matter how small it may seem. What new thing can you try this week?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy 2011



I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a good start. Here in Gator Country, I’ve already had a long and exhausting week. What have I done? Well, nothing really. I think I burnt out traveling during the holidays and my body was begging for a couple days to recoup.

Similar to some of the other ladies, I have found my energy levels down and my napping frequency up this week.  My husband and I were running a mile a minute during our “break” and it certainly came back to bite us both this week. He has been battling a wicked sinus infection, and everyone knows they can count on me to have a days-long headache at the first sign of deterioration.

But I have tried to combat this “worse for wear” feeling the best I can. I have been drinking Green Monsters by the pitcher-full, eating healthy proteins, and though I don’t do much else, I have been going to the gym everyday. I’ll stop right here to say I am not sick. I will be the first to say not to push yourself while genuinely sick, because it will likely take you longer to get better. But if I skipped a workout every time I had a mild headache, well, I wouldn’t work out at all (Ashlee can attest to that fact). But I generally know my body well enough to recognize its boundaries and this week, I needed a push for energy.

Because I haven’t felt amazing, it made sense for me to go to some group fitness classes (and have someone else tell me exactly what to do). While hitting the gym this week, I noticed, as could be expected, it’s been more crowded than in month’s past. This doesn’t bother me as much as it may bother others, because I love a good New Year’s resolution and I’m excited when I see others setting goals :) I also know how hard it is being the newbie, so I thought I could share some of the group fitness pointers I have learned, for those just starting out with group fitness.

When I first started taking group fitness classes, I printed out the class schedules for my gym (yes, more calendars for my collection). If I came across a class I loved, I’d highlight the class on the schedule. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I’d put an X through classes I didn’t like; sometimes including a note on who the instructor was, so that I could recall if was a class I absolutely didn’t like, or merely one with a less than stellar instructor (this comes in handy when I only have one free hour in the evening and I really want to take a spin class. Was it the instructor with the bad attitude or just the one with bad music?). This also helps you to pinpoint good instructors. Good instructors will often inspire and encourage you. If you find one you like, talk to them and see what other classes they lead. You might find those classes enjoyable as well.

Additionally, if I don’t like a class because I felt lost or it seemed too hard, I always make an effort to attend multiple times. Most classes generally have some sort of routine, and you may find it more enjoyable once you pick up on how the class flows.  If you still don’t find it enjoyable, no big deal…put an X over the class on your schedule and move on to the next one that looks interesting. However, I try not to rule out a type of class based on the instructor I tried it with. The instructor may not be good, but the class concept might be fabulous. Try and and try again. Except for yoga…I’d pay to find an instructor who can keep me from being bored to death with yoga. Sorry to those of you who love it, I know I'm in the minority with this one. 

When hitting new classes I also always try to get there a few minutes early to get the lay of the land. I like to figure out what equipment I will need and if I will need help getting set up. Try not to get intimidated though. Everyone had to start somewhere and “regulars” are generally happy to point out what you will need. I am also a public health nerd and getting there early allows me time to wipe down the equipment I am going to be using; specifically the grips on the hand weights…something everyone else seems to overlook! 

Finally, though I’m as ready as the next gal to get home when a class ends, I always try to stay for the stretch/cool down. I have found that it truly can combat aching muscles in the days to come. It's five minutes or so, but it can make a world of difference in how you view the class tomorrow. 

So those are my tips for group fitness. Other than the gym, I have just been trying to get back into my normal rhythm. I have been coordinating my work and class schedule, finalizing a plan for my triathlon training, planning a public health study I’ll be spearheading this year, and working on a 101 in 1001 list. I’ve also been having an internal battle as to how long I can get away with leaving up those dang Christmas decorations. Why is putting them away so much more daunting than pulling them out?

Links to Health:





Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Recovering and Finding Success

Welcome back!

Have you recovered from the holidays? I am still catching up on my sleep, but my eating has gone back to normal.

Did you notice (between feedings) that your body wasn't hungry? That you were eating because it was there or because you were at a party or because your [fill in relative here] kept filling your plate with food?

Did you stop working out? Did you become a lump on the couch, watching holiday movies or talking to friends or taking a nap?

Did you miss out on sleep? Did you stay up until 2 am watching home movies with your family or partying it up during New Years' or just because you had no where to be the next day?

I did all of that.

And I have suffered. My body aches. I have had a headache for days. I even came down with the flu.
Thankfully, the holidays ended just as my body was getting fed up with me.
As I got back to DC, I RAN to my Weight Watchers meeting, weighed in (and screamed), and am 100% back on track with my "healthy living". It seems that my body can't handle greasy food, lack of sleep and lack of movement. Look, I am growing up!

Or, perhaps you did none of the above and you were able to keep control during the holidays. If this is you (and I know there are a few of you out there. I even know of one woman who lost weight!), congrats!! You amaze me and are an inspiration to me!

I am thinking that 2011 is going to be an amazing year. I think that I am finally getting it. You know, that my body functions better and feels better when I treat it nicely (and nicely does not mean to feed it chocolate 24/7). Hopefully, with my goals in place and my determination, I will find the success that I am looking for and can end the year (12 months to go!) right.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

back into the swing of things.

what is it about routines that comfort us?

well, perhaps i should speak only for myself. a routine makes me happy. i don't want to live by a schedule, but knowing what i'm doing from week to week and day to day, so that i can plan most effectively and be productive, makes me happy.  i think i do pretty well when i roll with the punches, but i'm much more happy and at ease when there's a bit of continuity.

everyone else has shared with you their goals for this year, but since my life will COMPLETELY change in april when our Baby Girl arrives, my goals are much more finite.  i have a set of third trimester goals, if you will, that will last the next three months.  i'm happy to share them, but as i was constructing them, i realized that they are centered on achieving a balanced schedule and making that schedule a habit.

my goals for january to april 2011:
  • study scriptures first thing every day, with breakfast.  i don't particularly have a specific timeframe in mind, since i read different things on different days, but i would like to read one whole thing (a chapter, a talk, etc).
  • exercise for 45 to an hour five times a week.  this time period usually means a 2 mile walk (or a little more) because i'm just ridiculously slow now, or the entire prenatal yoga dvd.  i would like to do it every week day, when my husband is at school, but the five day a week goal allows me some flexibility to take a saturday if the middle of the week is a bit crazy.
  • keep up with housework on a regular schedule. i am tired of being a slave to my laundry on sporadic saturdays. since i will be home every day, it seems stupid to not get myself on a schedule for getting things done. a few things need to be done every day (i.e. dishes, picking up the house, making the bed, etc), but the larger tasks can be broken up across the weekdays.  i've learned quite a lot from ashlee's posts about her schedule for her girls; i love how productive she is, and i think having a schedule will allow me some time to pursue things that make me feel fulfilled.
  • keep up with grading on a regular schedule.  the rationale is the same here--when i don't have piles of grading to do, perhaps i will be able to use the time i carve out for answering emails, engaging with students on discussion boards, or planning ahead for times when papers will be overwhelming. 
  • take time for and accomplish projects.  one of the things that fell by the wayside over the past year or so, as we've been growing increasingly busy, have been my personal hobbies and projects. with the baby coming, i have a lot of fun projects to do for the nursery. but i also have a crossstitch project that i would like to complete for our home before she comes, and i like the idea of taking on a huge book (i recently read a large biography of truman, which was over 1000 pages and felt like a triumph when i finished it!) or learning a lot of new things (including new recipes!).  
  • prioritize family nights.  we are not a good family night family. we try, but with our crazy schedules, we have not been able to establish a permanent night and stick with it. we will do it this semester.
these may seem vague, but they are just the general descriptions of how i see my everyday shaping up.  sometimes it's easier for me to see how my goals can be accomplished by laying out my days--if the day looks like how i want it to go, then i know what i want to do and how i can do it.  concrete works best for me.

i am very excited about the upcoming months, for many obvious reasons but the not-so-obvious ones are centered on establishing this pattern of priorities.  i want my days to reflect what is important to me--my faith, my family, my work, and me.


do you find your schedules help or hurt your healthy living goals? does anyone else use your schedule as a way of empowering yourselves to achieving your goals? 

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Goals (part II)

Well, the Holiday season is officially over. I don't know about you, but I'm definitely feeling that post-Holiday depression. Just the thought of beginning to take down my Christmas decorations makes me want to take a nap! So instead of doing all that not-so-fun stuff, I'll blog!

Last week I shared with you my New Year's resolutions. Here they are again:

1) Be a more patient wife and mother.
2) Try harder to give others the benefit of the doubt.
3) Be more charitable.
4) Give more offerings to the church.
5) Institute a permanent Family Home Evening night and stick to it.
6) Be a better friend.
7) Figure out a way to tell my toddler "no" a little less often.
8) Lose this baby weight.
9) Join a gym and go 3 times a week.
10) Try new foods (vegetables).

Now, I realize some of these are a little vague and difficult to measure (Stephen Covey would not approve). I mean, if I ask my husband if he thinks I've been more patient, he had better answer "yes" if he wants dinner. Ha! Just kidding... sort of.

Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says that "an effective goal focuses primarily on results rather than activity." He goes on to show how to properly write, order and manage goals. Quite frankly, that takes the fun out of it for me, so here's my much briefer version of Covey's goal setting techniques, using my goal to lose weight has an example.

Define the goal. "Losing weight" is not enough information. I need to know what I want to accomplish (how much weight I want to lose), how I'm going to accomplish this, why this is important, when I want it done, and who is going to help me.
What? (What exactly do I want to accomplish?)
I want to be the weight I was before I had kids, therefore I want to lose 50 pounds. (whew! just typing that is hard!)

Why? (Why is accomplishing this important to me?)
I want to be a healthy wife and mother. I want to set a good example for my girls of positive self image and healthy eating. I want to have enough energy to keep up with them. I want to fit into the clothes that fill up my closet.

When? (What is my deadline?)
I want to accomplish this goal by the end of the year.

How? (How am I going to accomplish my goal?)
Join a gym with child care and go at least 3 times a week. Join a group-exercise class. Journal food. Write weekly menu plans. Seek support-tell everyone!

Who? (Who is going to help me?)
My family and friends. All of the SMMWR readers and contributors.
Mini Goals. A big goal needs to be broken up into smaller, bite-size goals to be celebrated. This will keep the morale high and the motivation flowing. My mini goal is to lose at least 5 pounds a month. Suddenly 50 pounds in one year doesn't seem so daunting!

Alright, one down, nine to go! I'm off to organize the rest of my goals. See you next week!

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In an effort to keep myself on track, I'll be sharing my weekly meal plans with you. Please feel free to holler at me if I try to sneak by without sharing because that probably means I didn't do it!

What we're eating for dinner this week:
Monday: Stir-fry with beef, snow peas, and carrots.
Tuesday: Parmesan chicken with roasted green beans and potatoes
Wednesday: Spice-rubbed fish with lemony rice and peas
Thursday: Roasted chicken with herb rub and whole-wheat couscous
Friday: Whole-wheat pasta with sriracha marinara and turkey meatballs
Saturday: Homemade whole-wheat pizza
Sunday: Roast beef with potatoes and carrots