Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Splendid Spaghetti Squash!

So...all I eat now is Spaghetti Squash.

Apparently as a kid I was REALLY into it. Then I stopped liking it until recently when I tried it again. Why is it so awesome?

Its 0 point spaghetti (basically).

I love pasta, but the thing is, I really love pasta SAUCES. So when your spaghetti is 0 points, you can have WAY more tablespoons of pesto, you can REALLY have REAL alfredo! Or you can make your own sauce like us and knock out like 4 veggie servings!

There's a few ways to prepare this delicious squash, but I like easy so I microwave.

Take your spaghetti squash, with a knife stab like A BUNCH of holes in it. ALL OVER. Then microwave for 10-12 minutes depending on the size of your squash.

When its done its going to be CRAZY FLIPPING HOT. So don't touch right away or else you will burn yourself.

Once its cool enough to take out of the microwave, slice it length wise.

Scrape out the seeds in the middle and discard (or clean and roast like you would pumpkin seeds).

Then using a fork scrape out the "spaghetti" and you can store in the fridge for a few days and heat as needed, or if you're making it all, scrape it all into a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil.

Then fry for a few minutes in the olive oil.

 When its to the tenderness you want, put in a bowl with sauce and cheese! Delicious! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Five Days in Food

This is to give you an idea of what I like to eat! And so that I can see what I ate. I took pictures of meals I ate for five days, these are in no order, and because I ate them more than one day, I only took one picture, so there aren't like...25 pictures. I just think its an interesting portrait of my diet!

"Birdy in a Nest"- Whole Grain Toast (homemade), cut a hole in the bread, lay bread in a frying pan, crack an egg into the hole, grill until done (I use olive oil in the pan, but you can also use pam if you fill your olive oil GHG in a different way!)
Whole Wheat Pasta with organic pasta sauce and some parmesan- this is kinda a 'cop out' meal I mean its easy and I barely did any work.
Home naan and baked falafel with tahini sauce- in the future I will make the naan with whole wheat I think, but the falafels came out great! 
Two slices of whole wheat (homemade bread) french toast (1 whole egg, 1 egg white, some skim milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and a little allspice) and a cup of fresh strawberries.
Whole wheat pita- olive oil, mozzarella cheese, turkey pepperoni, 1/2 c onions
Spaghetti Squash with organic tomato sauce and parmesan- spaghetti squash is my NEW favorite food, I could eat it everyday (and just about did!)
This is www.emilybites.com pumpkin french toast, I altered the recipe so I have a half cup of pumpkin (veggie serving! or fruit, or whatever pumpkin is "really") but you should bounce over there and look at her blog!
Homemade wheat toast with 100% Almond butter (trader joes, it RULES, I could eat a whole jar), 1/2 cup of cabot vanilla greek yogurt, 1 cup strawberries, 1/2c pumpkin flax granola
Turkey tacos with salsa, onions, and gaucamole, also some cheese. Tacos are one of my FAVORITE ways to get in veggie servings, and they are easy to lighten up and turn into taco salad (leftover taco meat is the best, most versatile thing!)
1/2 cup pumpkin, 1/2 cup cabot vanilla greek yogurt, 1/2 cup pumpkin flax granola

NOT PICTURED (and I don't know why since I know I took a picture of it, must have deleted it on accident) is the lunch I ate almost all week; An apple, with peanut butter, cheese (like all together on a slice of apple) and some turkey pepperoni. Also not pictured is oatmeal blueberry pancakes, Caesar salad, and real pizza that I ate. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Whomemade Whole Wheat Wraps!

I have an issue with (most) store bought bread. Bread shouldn't (in my opinion) have upwards of 10 ingredients, certainly not ones that I can not pronounce/do not know what they are.  Ezekiel Bread is excellent and can be found in your freezer section, its sprouted grain so its really good for you. The ingredient list is pretty serious still- BUT I know what each and every one of those ingredients IS.
Unfortunately- soy is in there. I have a goiter and hypothyroidism- some soy is ok for me upon occasion- but bread is not an "upon occasion" food, so I've decided to just stop having to read all the ingredients lists at the store and start making my own baked goods so I KNOW whats going into them.

Besides all this- I grew up on homemade bread- and there is NOTHING better. Nothing compares to the warm fuzzys I get from baking bread. It is a bit intimidating but I encourage you to try making your own bread products- I think you'd be surprised at your own skills.

So my most recent endeavor was whole wheat tortilla wraps- I looked up recipes online after having a meltdown about what was in my "carb balance" tortillas. I was still unhappy to find that MOST recipes include lard, or way too much oil/butter. I am after all, trying to lose weight- however a lot of the "low fat" seemed to not have ENOUGH oil (and like they would come out dry). So I compiled the "best of the best" to make my own version of these.


Yields 12-14 tortillas (roughly 10" each- if you make them smaller like soft taco or fajita size this will change the yield and the points value).

WW Points Value: 5 (this depends on a lot of things- please calculate your own value using the recipe builder and your yield/needs)

Nutrition calculated on SparkPeople.com (AGAIN- this will vary depending on your needs/yield-please adjust accordingly) : 

-4 Cups of Whole Wheat Flour (Or 2 Cups of Whole Wheat and 2 Cups of All Purpose- this will change the points, but it won't be as dense- the picture above I used white whole wheat flour cause that's what I had on hand)

-1 1/2 tsp of salt

-1 1/2 tsp of baking powder

-4 tbls olive oil (you can use canola too)

-1 to 1 1/2 cups of HOT water

In a medium sized bowl- whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. 

Add the 4 tbls of canola oil. With your hands mix the oil in- until it is incorporated the mix is slightly crumbly (with this little oil the crumbliness of it is pretty discrete, so if you don't notice a lot of it, don't worry). 

Add HOT water- Why hot water? this makes the dough soft and easy to roll out- also it makes the final texture a bit better. Add water slowly- mixing it as you go. The dough should form a soft, slightly sticky ball. It should be closer to pizza dough than pie crust- stretchy and moist- and not crumbling or dry, stop adding water when you have reached the desired texture and stretchiness. 

Knead the dough 10-15 times (in other words, knead the dough very little). I found it easiest to just knead it in the mixing bowl. 

COVER (or else it will dry out) and allow the dough to rest for a half an hour. 

Once dough has rested take it out and roll it out into a log (ROUGHLY 2"x6") - using a dough cutter (or a knife)- cut it down the middle once (you should have to logs)- then cut the two logs vertically 6-7 times- you should end up with 12-14 dough balls. 

(If you want SMALLER tortillas just make more cuts)

On a floured surface roll out each ball. You should wind up with a roughly 10" tortilla. They will be VERY THIN. If you like thicker tortillas adjust your cuts and rolling accordingly, that will change the points value though. They will also probably not be perfect circles, that's ok.- put them on plate with a towel in between each so they are easy to handle (if your concerned that isn't green you can just lay them on top of each other, but work slowly and patiently so you don't tear them).

Heat up a large skillet on medium heat. 

You are going to "DRY FRY" these- and things happen quickly at this point- so get some tongs and get ready to pay close attention to the tortillas. 

Place one tortilla in the pan let it sit until it starts to JUST BARELY bubble, flip it and take it off very quickly after. I would say maybe 20 seconds a side depending on your thinness and heat. You do not want to dry these out- otherwise they will get crackery-and break and not be foldable. How long this is on your stove-top I can not tell you. It takes a bit of practice. When you lift the tortilla out of the pan it should be floppy still, with only a few brown spots- like a tortilla you buy at the store. 

Stack all the cooked tortillas on top of each other, you no longer need to put paper towels between them. However- put one paper towel on the bottom and one on the top- take a LARGE plastic Ziploc bag (or if you're green- a sealed container) and while the tortillas are STILL WARM- place the whole stack in the bag and seal it. Let them rest in there for 5 minutes. You want to steam them- this will help them stay flexible and store bought like.

Remove them from the bag- and let them finish cooling on their own (or serve right away), allow the bag to dry out. Once they are cool you can place them back in the bag and store in the fridge for 5-7 days. You can freeze them and defrost when needed- but they will get a bit soggy in the defrosting process, so I suggest warming them up with a QUICK dry fry after they are defrosted. BUT they probably won't last long enough to need to freeze them.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Role Reversal/5%

So, I was laid off. :(

Boyfriend got a job though.

So our roles have been reversed. One would think being home all day would really ramp up the weight loss, wrong. So wrong.

First of all, I needed another steroid shot in my back. Secondly, I went to the beach to party. Thirdly, my back hurts! Although, now, post steroid shot, that should no longer be a huge problem. Fourthly, We haven't had real food in the house for so long because of the STRESS.

I've decided to use this time to really get back to walking, starting with a nice three mile walk on the nicest day of the year so far.

This was great. My fitbit has been slowly falling behind because of all the back pain, but I plan to put it back to use and hit 10,000 steps everyday I can.

HOWEVER, after a week away from the scale (I was down the beach on weigh in day, oops) I faced the music, nervously at my meeting yesterday, I was down 1.2 for the last two weeks! I've lost 12 lbs since the first week of January. Which means I've officially lost 5% of my starting weight. As exciting as all that is, it does also mean I have a long ways to go, and another 12 lbs before I hit my 10%, but its a start. I started off the year wanting to lose 50, and now I've only got 38 to go.

Of course since going back to work, boyfriend has lost like 20 lbs in what feels like 20 days. But I can not compare myself to that. At all.

Now, Happy St. Pattys day ya'll- I'm off to drink some green mimosa's.

No pictures makes me sad, so here is one of me down the beach-looking cute.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fitbit Follies!

This week a good friend of mine GAVE me her old fitbit!

It was such an eye-opener!
The first day I just didn't push myself, and I only came up with 4000 steps.  An "active" person typically walks 10,000 steps. Which I researched and is actually a pretty arbitrary number. However, with the average person walking around 4,000, pushing yourself to hit 6,000 more is really hard. You basically HAVE to go for a walk/climb stairs/etc.

I found myself finding reasons to go out for a walk or do a stepper during the commercials/tv time. I found myself parking further from my destination, going to the further bathroom, etc.

An active lifestyle doesn't mean I need to run 5 miles a day, or spend hours and hours on the treadmill, just pushing myself to make this small change has been amazing and I feel great!

Since last week was the first week wearing it I took it a bit slow, check out my stats for the week below!

I also counted calories with it. It seems my WW Points are about equal to 1700 calories (which explains why my fitness pal giving me 1450 a day made me feel like a starving psychopath). I figured out my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate- or what you burn if you just slept in your bed all day, breathing) is about 1780, so this makes sense. With fit bit, and the amount of activity I'm doing, if I don't do anything extra I usually burn about 2300-ish.

BUT if I am doing extra, I burn around 3000!

So this week I committed to at least 5 days a week of 10,000 steps. It is hard on my back still so I have to have a couple days where I don't do it.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Salads Are For Suckers

Ok, I actually do like a lot of salads, and I don't think you're a sucker if you do either. But I am a sucker for alliteration.

However, salads day after day get so incredibly dull. Getting in those veggie GHG's doesn't have to be painful or hard, NOR SHOULD IT BE!

If you plan to change your lifestyle, you have to PLAN to maintain it. You have to make lifelong changes.  Eating salad day in and day out is great if that doesn't bore you and works, but for me, I immediately start rebelling. Or bargaining.

"I ate a salad, now I can have bunches of cookies cause I've paid my dues"
"I ate a salad now I don't need to work out"
"I ate a salad...so then I ate a quarter pounder with a large fries after"

I could go on and on. Obviously a good salad is a good salad. I think it is important to explore components of a "good" salad.

Below is a list of things that I think make a salad worth eating:

-Cheese- in particular a good distinct cheese, goat cheese, bleu cheese, feta, etc. I find that these cheeses add the most flavor in a small punch (although they do no count towards the dairy GHG because they are soft cheese, very sad)

-Protein- be it some bacon, chicken, egg, chickpeas, or pecans protein packs a healthy powerful punch. It adds diversity of taste and texture.

-Fruits- Fruit adds right to that GHG check and its 0 points (mostly!) what could be better? Adding apples to a salad can replace the crunch that croutons usually give you. Plus they add sweetness to help curb those "I ate a salad so now I need dessert" feelings.

-Avocado- This should really be under fruit, but I love it so much it gets its own category- Avocado is basically a dressing. Full of healthy fat. Avocado aren't a power food (which is silly, but thats a whole different post) however that doesn't mean they don't count to your GHG's. They are also so creamy and flavorful, sure to beef up any salad.

-Anything with crunch- a FEW croutons, a FEW tortilla strips are always good as long as you keep the amount within reason, because crunchy carbs are delicious.

The habit of salads though- I am still not into. And I don't think anyone can rely on salads as the only way of checking off all those boxes for the fruit/veggie GHG. Also for me eating that salad, fruit and all, doesn't stop that bargaining.

I've stopped this bargaining with myself by working fruits and veggies into meals I love. At meetings we have been aiming to eat a fruit or veggie with every meal and I have done so well with this and it made me get creative.

See below!

Avocado on toast gives you a healthy fat to replace the  "bad" fat in butter,  its creaminess can rival that of the best cream cheeses. 
Salsa verde and tomatos add loads of flavor to a scrambled egg, make it colorful and fun and spicy. Its more filling, diverse and delicious. 
The pizza sauce here is homemade and adds a serving of veggies as well.
There is a half a cup of blueberries in these low fat oatmeal pancakes. 
These homemade beef empanadas are sitting pretty on top of a bed of lettuce, some homemade guacamole and some pico de gallo
and lastly, but not leastly, this is a frozen homemade smoothie/pudding pop. It has half a cup of strawberries in it, and  a 1/2 cup of greek yogurt. This wonderful idea is another from www.100daysofrealfood.com (seriously you should go over there). You can get these silicone molds (which for real...how cute are they?) from Amazon. 
All these solutions have stopped the bargaining and really incorporated veggies and fruit into my diet in a way that I love. I don't feel I am just paying my dues or forcing it on myself anymore. I feel like I'm really eating and achieving a healthy well balanced diet (I mean look even my dessert has fruit). The days of forcing a boring salad down my throat just to get in those GHG's. And by doing this I've identified what makes a salad a worthwhile meal to me, and I've had so much fun doing it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bento Box Bonaza!

So I got this from groupon a few weeks ago.

Bento Lunch! Peanut Butter sandwich on an Arnolds Sandwich Thin, pretzel sticks, horseradish cheddar cheese, and an apple!

It is my new favorite tool.
I love having a "lunchbox" again.
I love not wasting and spending money on Ziploc bags.
I love not carrying six huge containers.

Bento Breakfast and Lunch-2 Eggs scrambled with Cabot reduced fat cheddar cheese, brown n serve turkey sausage links, and an english muffin with olive oil on it (instead of butter), and an apple with Cabot horseradish cheddar cheese, peanut butter and pretzel sticks for lunch. ALL IN ONE CONTAINER!

At first I thought the compartments might be too small and annoy me, but instead they rock! You can tailor it to your wants and needs each day, everything stays nice and fresh and separate. I love that I can have breakfast and lunch in one container, rather than fifty ziplock bags. I love planning my lunch before hand and then TRACKING it that night, and being ready for the next day.

You can pick up your OWN bento box from Amazon: click here!
And the company has a blog: www.mybentomeal.com 
There are  A LOT of options. Look around and see what works for you. I love this one because it is BPA free, easy to microwave and wash (the lid can't go in the microwave, and top rack only!) But seriously, it has helped with portions, planning, and tracking so much. I can not recommend getting a real lunch box anymore!

FURTHERMORE (I also made this):

I follow a blog called 100 Days of Real Food. They are awesome and you should follow them too! They have inspired me to start eating more whole real food again and reading those labels!

Having grown up with parents and family who create awesome whole food products, I really love cooking myself and eating things that come from real wholesome ingredients. I am certainly not to the point where I am eliminating ALL processed foods, just cutting down a great down deal. 

In an effort to eat less processed (a little) I made my own whole wheat english muffins! and my own tomato sauce. Then I portioned them out with cheese, and boom, fake lunchables. I get all fun of being a kid and making my pizza at lunch, but its less calories, more filling, and with way less preservatives! I just did cheese, but you could add whatever you wanted! I also love the measuring cups I got with my Weight Watchers success kit to keep my sauce and cheese portioned out nicely. They even stayed upright in the bento box (amazing right?). Although I did work to keep the box level so as not to spill all the sauce.

Overall using this the last two weeks has really ramped up my planning and motivation. I again, can not recommend getting a real lunch box enough.