Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fifteen

Last week I reached 15 pounds lost, and I have to say this was huge for me for so many reasons.

As I type this, I am officially at 18 pounds lost (WOOHOO!!) but reaching 15 was my first big goal.

For some, 15lbs may not seem that much or a small goal, especially when I have over 100 I want to lose.  But honestly, EVERY pound seems big to me at the moment!  I had decided that instead of setting large goals that can take a while to achieve, I would set my goals in 15 lb increments.   I wanted something to work towards but that wouldn’t take me months and months to achieve.  I wanted to feel success in these “smaller” goals and keep my motivation going.

Part of this weight loss thing is the mental aspect.  Moving past what you have always done.  Making yourself the priority.  Keeping yourself going when all you really want to do is eat those chicken wings with ranch dressing followed by a slice of Edwards Chocolate Crème pie.  

I usually always fail with the mental side of weight loss.  Whether it is the binge eating or setting unrealistic goals (I can lose 50 pounds in 3 months with this fad diet!) or feeling alone or being way too hard on myself, I always have found some excuse reason for a diet failing.

But 15 pounds is now GONE and it feels GREAT!!

Literally, I am feeling different.  Feeling better.  I have more energy, probably because I am eating to keep my body fueled and not eating so much it actually slows me down and feels heavy. 

My clothes are starting to feel different.  One pair of work pants I have are nearly to the point of too big!!  Love that.  And this other pair I would never wear because they had been dried and shrunk a bit and were super snug in the legs and I could barely button them.  Well, I put them on yesterday and BOOM, THEY FIT!  Like perfectly.  And I am wearing a shirt that is actually a little clingy to me…granted, I am still wearing something  over it, but baby steps, no?!

15 pounds also got me past a number I didn’t want to be at, just about the most I have ever weighed.  Breaking past that was a big deal.

The fact that I lost the 15 pounds in 6 weeks was also a great motivation.  It was realistic.  About 2.5 a week.  Slow and steady.  I also think:  “Hey, by the end of March I could be down 30 lbs and maybe by my birthday nearly 40lbs!!  I could get a few new clothing items!”  Yep.  Motivation.  

In the scheme of things, the time it will take to lose another 15lbs doesn’t seem like that far away.  Totally doable.   I mean, I know it will take me a year or more to lose all the weight I want to lose, but these mini goals keep me going!!

It was also the first 15 pounds.  Folks, do you know how long I have tried to lose the first 15lbs?!?!  I am not saying that the next 15 or the next 15 after that will be easier, BUT making the change and sticking with it are the first steps.  Instead of watching the scale slowly move up, I am now excited to watch it go down!

For me, this is becoming a way of life.  For the foreseeable future I need to be aware of my eating habits.  That doesn’t mean that I am totally OK with this all the time or that this weekend I didn’t go over my caloric intake.  But when I did, I was not hard on myself.  I did not feel guilty because even though I did go over, I still kept things healthier than in the past.  It isn’t an “all or nothing” mentality for me right now.  I am learning to live with my love of food and learning healthy alternatives and notice when I am hungry and find a healthy balance between it all.  I have always enjoyed healthy food and overall eaten healthy most of the time, but I would either binge on crap food and/or eat way too much of even the healthier stuff.  Healthy food still has calories, Jenn.

This weekend, I was hungry.  Like ALL. THE. TIME. HUNGRY.  Instead of denying myself and then just eating until I feel sick…I had some little snacks here and there until I felt satisfied.  Ok, some cheese and crackers.  30 minutes later…nope, still hungry.  How about an apple with peanut butter.  Ok.  Getting there.  Maybe 3 hersheys kisses will help that sweet tooth.  Yep.  I am good now.  I recognized what I wanted.  I ate with care, knowing what I was putting in my body and not just blindly eating until I was past the point of satisfied and stuffed.  That a plate of nachos isn't a snack.  I am learning there are days where I will be hungry and want more, and to my surprise there have been days where I am not that hungry and have actually eaten less than my 1300 calorie allowance.  Yeah, I KNOW!!

I am learning to take myself out of situations that have always provided me the opportunity to overeat.  Like after Henry goes to bed and I am downstairs watching TV.  Nope.  Now I either go to bed or go upstairs and read and or watch something on my computer.  By removing myself I am breaking that habit I have created over the years…sit on the couch in the evening and mindlessly eat.  I do miss it.  The other day I wanted so bad to grab the chips and dip and sit and eat and watch TV.  It will all take awhile.  But that day, I said no and guess what, I was OK!  I felt great the next morning.  Huh.  Maybe you don't need to overeat, Jenn....

I allow myself sweets and snacks, but just in smaller and calculated amounts unlike past diets where I removed everything that seemed to be tasty.  So, if I want that fudge bar tonight or popcorn, what do I need to remove from my diet to have that?  I calculate everything I am eating the night before.  At the moment we have oreos, chips, tortilla chips, M&M’s ALL in the house.  Just a few months ago I would have considered that a challenge to eat all that (you know, so it wasn’t in the house anymore).  Now, I am weighing out my options on exactly where my calories go.  Three “knock off” oreos are 150 calories.  Do I have 150 calories to spare?  No, but I have 100 so 2 it is.  Still get my oreos and still within my calories.

For some this thinking is pretty easy.  Basic.  Straight forward.  But for someone who mindlessly eats and has binged as much as I have the past 20 years, it really is this "far-fetched" concept.   I have always taken the “eat until I am full or that void I am feeling is filled with something else” way of eating.  Now I think of EVERYTHING I put into my body.  I am still thinking of food ALL THE TIME, like I was before.  But now it is a more positive way of thinking instead of looking for comfort, or out of boredom or stress.

And don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been easy so far.  I emailed my sister a few weeks ago because for over a week I hadn’t lost and actually gained a pound.  Of course my younger sister wrote me an amazing email and helped me stay focus and kept me on track.  She really is a smart cookie. mmm, cookie.  And a week ago I was crying to Terry because he was eating a big mac and filet of fish and fries (as a "special treat" yuck) and has lost 30 lbs since august and while I am very proud of him and didn’t for a minute want what he was eating, it was the fact that I couldn’t have it that made me cry.  I know, weirdo. 

Fifteen.

Yep, this fifteen is FAR more than just the pounds as you can tell by my long winded post.  But this is why I know this will work this time.  I am sharing to keep me going and accountable.  I am sharing to get these feelings out in the open, to say them and acknowledge them.  I am sharing these successes, because as illogical as they may seem to some they are how I have always thought and I cannot do this if I do not acknowledge WHY I overeat.  I am sharing so that when I have a hard day, I can look back at these posts and tell myself to hang in there.  To look at how far you have come.  To keep going because you are worth it!!  That even though today may be hard, tomorrow will be better.


On to the next 15!!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Recipe of the Week – Stuffed Pepper Soup

I must say, this may be my favorite soup right now.   With the bitter cold of -11 in Ohio (WTF?!), a warm and comforting soup is exactly what I need.

And this soup doesn’t disappoint.

I found this on one of my favorite new food sites, Skinnytaste – HERE.



This fits into all my healthy food criteria.  It is easy to make, budget friendly, healthy, tastes great, and I could go back for seconds without feeling guilty!! Winning all around.

About 1 ½ - 1 1/3 cups of soup with ½ cup of rice is about 261 – 275 calories. (My recipe in my fitness pal calculated slightly higher than the recipe on the website.)


Stuffed Pepper Soup

Servings: 6 • Size: about 1 1/2 cups soup, 1/2 cup rice • Old Points: 5 • Points+: 7 pts
Calories: 261 • Fat: 5 g • Carb: 37.5 g • Fiber: 5 g • Protein: 17.6 g • Sugar: 6 g
Sodium: 606 g  (without salt)


Ingredients:
3 cups cooked brown rice (omit for paleo diet)
1 lb 95% lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (I use 1 whole pepper)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (I use 1 whole pepper)
1 cup finely diced onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz each) cans petite diced tomatoes (i used oregano, basil garlic ones)
1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
2 cups reduced sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large pot or dutch oven, brown ground meat on high heat and season with salt. Drain fat if any, reduce heat to medium-low, then add peppers, onions and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes on low heat.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, marjoram and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Serve about 1 1/3 cups of soup in each bowl and top with 1/2 cup cooked brown rice.

Makes about 9 1/2 cups.


Seriously.  SO EASY.  For lunch I will even omit the rice and add an extra half a cup of soup and it is still around 200 calories!!

Some notes from when I make it:

I add more peppers than what it calls for.  I add one whole green and one whole red pepper. 

I used lean ground turkey instead of beef.

I added petite diced tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano in it for added flavor.

I also didn’t add the dried marjoram because, well I don’t own any.

Some Sriracha in your soup for an extra kick is AWESOME!!  I didn’t add to the whole thing, just my individual bowls of soup.

I will say that for me, this makes a lot…but I am the only one eating it.  But if you are feeding a family AND want leftovers, perhaps half or double it.

And if your family isn’t counting their calories, you may want more rice.

Seriously, I am making it this weekend for lunch and for lunches for the next week.  It really has turned into my “go to” soup of choice.

If you try it let me know what you think!!  Did you change anything?!


Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Henry - This Age Is Awesome

Have I mentioned how awesome my little man is?


Yes?

Well you (and by you I mean my 3 readers) are going to hear about him again!

Henry is just a few weeks away from 3 ½ (what, huh, when did this happen?!) and boy o’ boy, is this an age.

He is awesome and stubborn. Hilarious and dramatic.  Self-sufficient and needy.  Adventurous and independent.  Goofy and moody. And he is full of all the emotions, good and bad.

the grumps

He always wants to help, but of course on his own terms.
Loves chores


He has his own opinions and not afraid to share them and if you do not like his opinions, then LOOK OUT.

He knows how to make people laugh and is hilarious to be around.   He actually wants to make jokes and make people smile.  His faces are priceless and always with the laughter…well until he doesn’t want you laughing and then you get yelled at for laughing when 1.5 seconds ago we were all laughing.








The things he says.  I try to write them down, but it is hard and I forget or I am laughing so hard I don’t think to remember them.  Or I am too busy getting lawyered by my 3 year old to write them down.

Me: Henry, are you tired?
H: No, I am just laying down to save my energy. 

...

Me: Henry, go brush your teeth.
H: “UUUUUUUHHHHH. (dramatic turn) FINE MOM.

...

H: Mom, I am not bad today, I am just pretending to be bad.

...

H: Mom stupid is not a nice word.  I won’t say stupid anymore.  We shouldn’t say stupid because it is bad.  Like bitch is bad and stupid is bad.

OR:

H: Mom, I am going to say stupid today. 
Me: But that is not a nice word. 
H: Yeah, but this is my conversation and I am choosing to say stupid. It is my choice.
Me: Well, then you have to deal with the consequences of using bad language.
H: That’s stupid.

...

Me: Henry, you are the best.
H: Yes I am.
(Humbleness has yet to be learned yet)

...

H: Mom, can I have a cookie.
Me: No, after dinner.
H: How about I have a cookie now and then I will eat my dinner.
Me: No, that is not how it works.
H: That is how it works for me!
(and then if no cookie, commence dramatic tears)

...

H: Ok, mom.  This is your choice.  You either play cars with me or play trucks with me.  That is your choice.  If you do not choose, you will go on yellow and then a time out.

...

H: Lily is my girlfriend and my best friend and I love her.
Me: Oh really.  What exactly is a girlfriend?
H: someone you do things with and is your best friend and you love.
(HOW DOES HE KNOW THIS?!?!)

....

Terry and I were talking this week how cool he is.  I mean, like really cool.  And fun to be around.  Well, most of the time unless he is hangry. You won’t like Henry when he is hangry!!  HENRY SMASH.

We also said it is funny that T & I are so introverted, especially growing up, and our son is the opposite. He loves talking to people (Henry…stranger danger!!), he loves to be around “his kids” (friends) and he always wants to be outside and NEVER stops moving or climbing.

 (he is standing on my legs)

Can't walk without jumping
You can't tell, but that leg never stops moving, even when he is laying down. 
Oh and notice the destruction!

Seriously.  NEVER. STOPS. MOVING.  We say he has restless leg syndrome.


He is also the sweetest.  I mean the sweetest.  He will come up to me and just give me a kiss on the cheek or mouth “just because I love you”.  He will come up and whisper “I love you mommy.”  Or say “We are best friends”.  He gives out the best and tightest hugs.  “One more hug mom” “Always, my sweet boy.”  And he always  wants to snuggle.  Honestly, I am not sure this kid leaves my lap or side, he always wants to be with me.  I hope the sweetness never ends.


 on my lap & cuddling


He also uses his manners (in between saying poop and fart) but I am impressed at how well he uses please and thank you and excuse me.  Now if we can just work on the name calling and pushing/punching.

My son fits into no single mold, which I not only love but encourage.  I just want him to be himself and happy with who he is and who he wants to be.








He loves to cook, bake, fight, jump, run, and wear my high heels.  He loves princess and avengers. He picked out shoes (size 11!!) the other day that had spider-man on them and another pair with pink sequins and fur.  He loves to “shake his booty” and wants to take dance class and karate.  He loves technology and writing and doing anything adults do.


He loves finding recipes with me on pinterest

This age.

This age really is SO MUCH FUN.  Yes, there are some issues because he is more independent and thinking on his own and making more choices, but he is also so great to be around.  So awesome!!


Friday, January 30, 2015

The Binge

Twenty eight days into my diet.

Ten pounds lost.

And all I want to do tonight is binge eat.

I want to grab a handful of the M&M's sitting so conveniently on the counter and shove them in my mouth.  I want to tear open the chips and salsa that tease me every time I open the cupboard door.  I want to fill the largest soup bowl we have to the brim with cereal and enough milk to make it a challenge to put your spoon in for the first time for fear it may overflow.  I want something chocolate then salty, alternating between the two.

I know, it is hard to understand and it is even harder to explain why I want to do this. Probably disgusts many people out there.  But I have been doing this for 20 years.  For 20 years I have binged my way to my current weight.  In college I would binge and purge, but I soon realized I hated throwing up...and more so I enjoyed food way too much to throw it back up.  I love food.  And I love how I feel while I eat it (just not after).

So I would secretly just binge in moments of weakness. And it isn't all the time.  I have gone months without doing it, many months.  It all depends what is going on in my life, and honestly there has been so much stress the past few years that it isn't surprising that the 35 pounds I lost before Henry have come back on the last 3 years.  I actually weighed more than I did the day I gave birth to him as I only gained about 20 pounds and lost that and then some immediately.

Since high school and days of feeling lonely or stressed I found comfort in binge eating.  I have turned to food to fill that void.  And it isn't even like I plan it with myself, "Hey Jenn, lets binge eat tonight...say around 9pm??" It just takes over and like bad peer pressure I succumb to it for some relief.  Some would find it laughable that I say food is like a drug to me.  Just don't eat!!! You know, I wish it was laughable and some silly joke.  But it isn't and it isn't that easy to let go of something you have been turning to for so long.

For me, my drug is food.  That initial satisfaction you feel when you eat without care, that instant gratification takes away from whatever it is you may be feeling that has made you have this insatiable appetite in the first place.  This need to eat uncontrollably.  You ignore all logic.  Will power is non-existent. And like any drug, you give into it completely and only think about that moment.  No consequences.  You just enjoy every bite and have no other cares or concerns.

But then like any drug, after you have consumed more calories than you care to count or acknowledge, you start to come down from that euphoria you felt.  There is a pain in your stomach as it tries to digest all that food you just piled into yourself in a very short amount of time.  (see you want to eat fast, so you can eat more..otherwise you start to feel full.)  The guilt starts to set in as you look around at the damage in the form of wrappers or dirty dishes that are around you.  That feeling of loneliness or stress or whatever it was you had before is even more intense, but now coupled with a gross feeling and ashamed that you once again gave in to this urge for a temporary fix.

Why do I binge?  I am working on that and that post is not for today.

Today I write.

Today I share this urge I am currently having because I just can't pick up the phone at 10pm and have someone talk me down from eating a plate of nachos.

Today I focus on how far I have come and try to ignore how far I still have to go.

Today I desperately want to eat something, anything because my day sucked and I feel lonely and emotional and I just want to feel better.

Today I cry at the fact that I not only want food in place of expressing my real feelings and emotions, but that I can't have all that food I so desperately want.

Today I think of all the people who can pass up dessert and it doesn't make them angry inside and how I hope some day that can be me.

Today.

Today I write.

Today it is now one hour before tomorrow and I know that at least for today, I am not giving in and that is one day closer to where I want to be.  As much as I really want to eat, I also want to change.  I finally want to change.  Through my tears I am realizing that I need to change and I can't keep hiding my feelings in the depth of my stomach.

Today I purge.  Not the food, but my feelings.  I am not closing off to others like I do so many times.  I am putting this out there, even for no one else to read but for me to say.  To finally admit out loud and not just be this voice in the back of my head that I ignore and stuff with more food.

Today i will not binge.  I will go to bed, only having indulged in 10 M&M's and a half of bowl of cereal...because they were in my allotted calorie count.

Today is one day closer to where I want to be.

Today I was strong enough.

"If I quit now, I will soon be back to where I started.  And when I started, I was desperately wishing to be where I am now."  




Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Inspiration.

"If I quit now, I will soon be back to where I started.  And when I started, I was desperately wishing to be where I am now."  


So, it has been just over three weeks since I started this change in my lifestyle.  We can call it a diet, but it is so much more than that to me.  I have been struggling my whole life with my weight.  From growing up bigger than most kids and having self-esteem issues in high school.  To losing 80 pounds when I went to college but still seeing myself and treating myself as “the fat girl”.  To over the last 10 years slowly gaining all the weight and then some back.  To now having a three year old and trying to find a balance between him, work, family, home, and myself and never putting myself first.

I have tried my fair share of fad diets and they never work for me.  Some I just can’t stay on for more than a few weeks.  Others I lose weight, but then when I start incorporating the foods I once loved I fall back into my old habits and the weight comes back.  And with each fad diet failure comes more frustration and disappointment and I slip back into my old habits to cope. 

The last few years have been a blessing but also extremely rough.   The stress has worn on me and been nothing but one excuse after another why I am not losing weight and putting myself as a priority.

But when I thought back on 2014 at the end of the year and how many missed opportunities to be in a picture or do something fun I had because of my self-esteem and weight, I cried.  I thought of one time when my husband said “Hey, lets just go to the lake for the day to let Henry play on the beach for the first time” and I said NO....I knew something had to change.  Why did I say NO…because like hell I wanted to be somewhere that people will see my body!! And this isn’t the first time I haven’t done stuff because I am too self-conscious about the way I look to go.  I have never taken Henry swimming, or when we go to the park it is not when it is hot because I wear jeans and cover up.  I pretty much hate going anywhere public, though I do move past that at times for Henry.  I avoid pictures from the head down as much as possible.  I hate sitting in chairs in public because they are uncomfortable.  I am just always thinking about the way I look instead of just enjoying the moment.  And perhaps some may think "you are just vain" but, when you are very overweight and go to the grocery store and hear a comment about your butt, you start to think everyone is thinking the same thing.

But Henry is older now.  He is going to want to do more things.  I am going to want to take him to do more things.  Like go to the beach.  Take him to swim class.  Go on bike rides.  Run outside.  Go to amusement parks.

And it isn’t just because of him, it is because of me.  I want to do all those things for ME.  I want to look in the mirror and not focus on everything I think I need to cover up but look in the mirror and be happy.  I want to wear skinny jeans and boots.  I want to up and spend the day at the lake or amusement park and not think twice about it or worry I won't fit.  I don’t want to cry over and over because of the way I look or feel.  I don't want to think everyone is saying I am fat.   I don't want to feel aches and pains.  I don't want to spend twice as much on plus sized clothes (seriously, annoying).   I want to be healthy.  I want to change.  I want to be ME.  And I don’t want to keep saying this over and over again.  I want this part of my life to be over and start a new, healthier chapter.

I have had an unhealthy relationship with food for a long time.  I have always "sneak eaten" and "binged eaten".  I get bored or stressed and I turn to food. Even when I am happy I turn to food.  I enjoy it.  I love cooking it.  And I love eating it.  I love eating too much.  I sometimes just eat, like I have a plate full of food and I have to eat it.  I may start to get full, but it is there so I eat.  This is a whole other topic for another post, but I do use it as a crutch.  Coping mechanism.  Something to make me happy briefly.  Always have.  I need to stop now.

I actually refused to write this post when I first started.  Mainly because, I feel I have written it before and failed. Many times over.   But something is different this time.  I am not sure what it is, but I am ready.  Maybe it is Henry.  Maybe it is the boot trend…seriously, I love boots.  Maybe it is that my body doesn’t feel like I imagine the body of a near 35 year old should look or feel….I feel far older.  Maybe after the last few years I have realized that I AM strong enough.  That life is way too short and that time is not slowing down for any of us.  And that if I want to make a difference in my life I need to do it now because the world is not stopping for me to help me or do it for me.  And every day I choose to live my life the same way I have been living with no change, is another missed day of doing something good for myself and actually making a change.  (my wise sister helped me to see this)  I need to take charge of my life before it gets to the point I no longer can.

This time I am not looking for a quick fix.  No fad diet, shakes, gluten free, carb free, meat free, only nut diets that are out there at the moment.  Nor am I denying myself of all the things I love.  It is a lifestyle change.  

Moderation.  Balance.  Alternatives.  

It is math...counting calories.  Plain and simple.

I know this is going to take a long time, perhaps a year or more.  I am setting a lot of little goals to meet along the way, along with the end result to just be comfortable with my body.  Accepting of my body.  To look at food in a healthy way that is not only enjoyable but a fuel for my body.

I am not there yet, but I am well on my way.

How do I know I am on my way?

Because of this...

"If I quit now, I will soon be back to where I started.  And when I started, I was desperately wishing to be where I am now."  

(Again, from my smart sister)

That is how I know I am on my way.  I am 9lbs lighter than I was January 1st.  9lbs may be a small chunk of my chunk I want to lose, but it is a start and I have desperately wanted to be where I am now.  And I hope that in a month I will be another 9lbs and maybe another after that.  Again, time is not stopping, each day will pass and with each passing day I am that much closer.  Stopping doesn't fix anything.

So perhaps by my birthday in April I could be 25lbs lighter (my goal) and buy myself some new jeans for my birthday.  In the scheme of things, that is not that far away.  I am actually surprised I have been doing this for three weeks already!  Again, I am focusing on perspective, slow and steady instead of an instant fix.


So currently I am doing the following:

During the week – calorie intake goal of 1300 - 1400
On the weekend – Calorie intake goal of 1400 - 1500
(This is a significant drop in calories, but totally doable.)

I am using MyFitness Pal to track calories and weight loss.  Using measurements as well.

If you have read some of my previous posts, I am looking for alternatives to some of my favorite foods like Chinese (HERE) and I am testing out cauliflower crust pizza this past weekend and will post results soon!  

I am finding ways to have the foods I love without the extra calories....like a 100 calorie Light & Fit fudge bar from Aldi’s!  It is a perfect treat at the end of the day and still makes me feel like I am getting that indulgence without the calories. 

I am finding balance between the things I like and weeding out the things I no longer need to put in my body.  And I am enjoying trying new things and finding a new way of life that works for me and my life style.

So bare with me.  I am sure I am going to have rough days.  Days I do not stick with it.  Days I feel like I can't do it anymore.  Days I am discourages.  But I am also around so many supportive people, and an amazing and energetic son, that I feel inspired every day to do the best I can and keep going day by day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It Really Is Pretty to Live in Ohio

Just when I am getting to the point when I question our decision to stay in Ohio because it is negative degrees outside and we get a flat tire because of the extreme cold and I have a 3 year old who can't go outside to release all that energy.....the universe gives a morning like this.






It may only be 3 degrees outside, but it is absolutely gorgeous.  These last minute camera phone pictures do not do it justice, but believe me....it really is pretty to live in Ohio and experience all the seasons.  Even the bitter cold ones!!!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Healthy Recipes - Spaghetti Squash "Chinese"

So last week I tried another new recipe.  Well, I took a recipe and then modified it based on my likes and what I had in the house!

I have heard spaghetti squash is a great food and can be used "in place" of pasta and rice.  So I decided to give it a shot and as I was craving Chinese I thought, hey lets make spaghetti squash Chinese!!

Let me preface this by saying spaghetti squash "Chinese" is NOT Chinese.  It does not replace Chinese.  It is a bunch of rarely used, cheap vegetables play'n like they are yummy Chinese.  

After making this, I am not going to give up my old Chinese food because this is "just that much better".   But, as a healthy alternative that gives you the same flavors of Chinese food...this is a winner!  Like a big winner...something I would make even if I wasn't dieting.

So, back to the spaghetti squash.  I had to be very open minded with this recipe as I am not a squash lover.  The blandness and texture are just not pleasing to me.  However, over the last 7 years I haven't been able to lose weight the way I wanted by eating the foods I was eating, so  something must change.  Enter...the squash!

Now, I think the reason the spaghetti squash is low in calories is because of how hard it is to get inside!!!  This is when you need to be married to Wolverine.  It took me forever to get into the raw squash and I swear I was going to cut my arm 15 times.  I used the method of cutting the squash in half (with a guillotine perferably) and roasted inside part down with a little water in the pan for nearly an hour.  Since that, a girl at work told me you can do this in the crockpot.  Will be trying that for sure next time!

So besides a whole spaghetti squash cooked and removed from the skin, I also cut up a half a head of cabbage, 4 celery stalks, 2 cups frozen broccoli (steamed), 2 oz of chicken and an egg (the last two ingredients for my individual portion).




I cooked the cabbage & celery in a tablespoon of EVOO for about 5 minutes until it is just slightly softened.  I then added the spaghetti squash, broccoli and a couple tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce.  I "stir-fried" this for awhile until everything was combined and heated through.



I then added my shredded chicken and egg.  I didn't make enough chicken for the entire recipe because, well, in case it sucked I didn't want to waste more food than I needed too!

(Which came first, the chicken or the egg?!)

Overall, my first attempt was good.  It had any of the same flavors of chinese food.  The cabbage and celery gave it some nice crunch to take away from the lack of consistency from the spaghetti squash.  Plus, I got to eat a HUGE plate of food, which normally isn't the case when counting calories!!  This recipe was 4 (large) servings and only 187 calories a serving for the spaghetti squash and cabbage mixture!!  (Must add on the chicken, egg, and extra soy sauce as well which was still only an extra 130 calories) And I was seriously stuffed!  You could probably do 6 servings to cut it down more, especially if you add brown rice.


The next day I reheated left overs, added some brown rice, scrambled up some eggs, and added some sriracha!  Oh my, this was tasty!!  Felt and tasted like chinese.  Loved it actually.  And like I said, it doesn't replace traditional chinese food but it is all about finding balance, right?!  This is a great balance.



Some things I would do differently next time:
 - Cook the squash in a crockpot so I do not cut my finger off cutting through
 - Let the squash dry out a bit.  Maybe spread it out on paper towel to remove excess moisture so it doesn't stick/clump together.
 - Add more chicken and eggs
 - Add some more veggies like carrots and peas


Ingredients:
 - 1 cooked spaghetti squash
 - 1/2 head shredded cabbage
 - 2 cups cooked broccoli
 - 4 stalks chopped celery
 - Lite Soy Sauce

Add-on Ingredients:
 - Couple Eggs
 - Shredded Chicken breast
 - Extra Lite Soy Sauce
 - Sriracha
 - Brown rice
 - Extra veggies

Calories (excluding the eggs and chicken) 187 per serving. 4 servings. 
Cost: For the basic ingredients it was not more than $10.   

Up Next I am going to try this with Quinoa!!

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Healthy Recipes - Avocado, Chicken and White Bean Wrap!!

The first recipe I tried this weekend was an Avocado, Chicken and White Bean Wrap!!



I found a few recipes that mixed avocado and white beans together and as that seemed to meet my criteria of healthy, affordable, filling and tasty I thought I would give it a try!!

Now, a few of the recipes I tried had this cold and without chicken and instead a "coleslaw" mixture.  Well, I didn't want to make a coleslaw mixture and I wanted something warm as it is cold where I live right now.  I also had just cooked some plain chicken in the crockpot* the night before and thought that would be a perfect addition.

I have made this a few times this weekend so some of the pictures were from different attempts.  The final recipe is my favorite combination.

First you take a half of a medium (ripe) avocado and a 1/4 cup of rinsed white beans (Great Northern Beans) and mash together with a fork in a bowl.  Add a dash of salt. I wouldn't puree this as you still want some texture to this.



Next, spread this on a whole wheat flour tortilla or some healthy wrap.  I used a whole wheat flour tortilla as that is what we have in the house.  Some though can have close to 200 calories (eek!), so aim for one closer to 100.  I may also try a flavored wrap next time for added taste!  Once you spread that on, add about 1 oz of your shredded chicken.



(This was my first attempt where I used a 1/2 cup of white beans and 2oz of chicken.  
Just too much for the tortilla and too much chicken.)


Next, wrap that bad boy up burrito style.  Do a quick spray of EVOO cooking spray on the side with the seem and place into a preheated (on medium low) pan.  Spray the other side with the cooking spray once in the pan.


Crispy!!

This doesn't take long, so once it is at your desired crispiness, remove and enjoy!!




The thing I like about the avocado, bean & chicken combination is that I can eat this many different ways.  I can have it like above with a bowl of soup for a warm and filling meal.

I can do a cold wrap and throw in some lettuce, tomato, and/or roasted red peppers for a great work lunch.

The avocado and bean "mash" is actually good enough on its own and would make for a fantastic dip!  And I love dips, so I should know.  Some pita chips and red/green peppers make for a great side to the dip.

I would also add this to a salad in place of a dressing.

It is filling and contains healthy fats and proteins.

This is also quick and inexpensive.

The whole thing took no longer than 10 minutes to make.  And the price was as followed: .79 for a can of beans, $1.00 for the avocado, $1.89 for an 8 pack of of whole wheat tortillas, chicken was only a couple dollars. (We buy ours from the butcher and get a lot of it so do not know the exact price, but you are only using an ounce so if you don't have any you can use another meat or keep it meat-free!)  So very affordable!

Nutrition: 312 calories
Lower your calories by getting a low calorie/low carb wrap.  Or opt for one of the other non-wrap options above.


Pam Cooking Spray - Olive Oil, 1 second spray: Calories: 7
Chicken Breast-homemade - Boiled, 1 oz - Calories: 35
Walmart - White Beans (Canned), 1/4 cup - Calories: 50
Ortega - Whole Wheat Tortilla, 1 tortilla - Calories: 120
Fresh - Avocado - Hass, Medium, 1/2 of medium size - Calories: 100
Salt - Salt, 0.4 gram (One dash) - Calories: 0


Hope you enjoy!!  Let me know if you try and have any modifications or additions!!
Next up, something with spaghetti squash....out of my comfort zone, but interested!!

*Boiled boneless skinless chicken breast - I add a chicken breast to a crockpot with water, salt and pepper and a bullion cube and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8 hours.  Then shred when warm....it falls apart and is a perfect addition for lunches.

Losing Weight....AGAIN. Tasty & Healthy Recipes

So I believe this is my 6,942 attempt to lose weight.

There are many excuses reasons why I keep failing, but one thing it always seems to come back to is food.

I. Love. Food.

There.  I said it.

I love to cook it.  I love to make (and eat) a lot of it.  I love to share it with family and friends.  I love to experiment with it.

I just love it.

So of course, whenever I do one of my diet attempts I cut out nearly all the foods I love.  And then after a month or so, BOOM, I just give up.

So this time I didn't want that to happen as I NEED to lose weight.  Plain and simple.  No excuses.

But this time I decided to continue doing what I like in regards to food.  Cooking.  Experimenting.  Trying new things!  Just with a healthy twist.

So over the last few weeks I have been finding recipes that will be healthy, affordable (because girl be on a budget!), filling (because girl don't like to be hungry), and also packed with flavor!  You know, food that doesn't make you think you are dieting and that you would eat any way.

I will continue to use My Fitness Pal to count my lower calorie diet and will also use this blog to track my progress and share my recipes. Some recipes may be successes and some may not, but I am excited to see try new things and lose weight along the way!!

So up first.....Avocado, Chicken and White Bean Wrap!!




Thursday, January 01, 2015

2015 - The Year of Focus

So, 2014 has come and gone.  With that comes a lot of reflection on the year that has passed.  I think about the way overdue changes of Terry's job and all the pros and cons that come.  I think about the unexpected loss of a dear friend and how precious life can be.  I think that is has been one year since Henry's last seizure and have hope for the coming years.  I think about the struggles we have been dealing with and the frustrations and optimism ahead.  I think about how quickly time is going and how I need to find ways sometimes to bottle it up and slow it down (and cover the grey and remove the hairs on my face!)  I think about how much we have all changed in the last year, especially Henry, and all that this new year holds!

So with that said, 2015 is turning into the year of focus.

As I have been reflecting on the year as it came to a close and even now as I type, I realize the things I need require me to focus, or refocus my priorities.

Call them goals.  Call them resolutions.  Call them just getting older and learning that sometimes we need to stop and change the way we are doing things.

So here is my focus for 2015.

Focus on Marriage.

After we had Henry our life revolved around Henry and his needs, as expected.  Terry and I worked opposite schedules to make things work, which means we were solo parenting a lot and our focus was just on how to raise this kid and survive.  Then around 2 years old, just when we were starting to get to a normal life, the seizures and medical issues started with Henry.  Now Henry's health seems to be doing better and though Terry and my schedules don't always mesh, we both realize we need more time for US.  It is so easy to take each other and your marriage for granted.  I know I do.  We went on two dates in December, the first ones in a loooong time.  And to be honest, it had the awkwardness of first dates at times...except for the fact that we have been together for 14 years.  So we are focusing on our marriage in 2015.  Going on dates again. Listening to each other.  Being a team.  We are stronger together, for sure.  And like most things in life, even if it isn't broken (which it is not) it still needs maintenance and to be taken care of to keep things strong!

Focus on Health.

I think with all of Henry's health issues the beginning of last year, Terry and I have been putting ourselves on the back burner.  So the focus is keeping Henry healthy and hopefully continue to be seizure free.  And Terry and I need to take care of our health. (except for sickness, it has been a few years that either has been for annual visits!)  My main focus is getting myself healthy.  Going to a couple doctors appointments and losing weight.

Focus on Myself.

This overlaps health in that I need to work on ME.  Losing weight is the most important thing.  I need to like myself again.  Like the way I look and feel better about who I am.  Along with that, finding time to step away from everything and do the things I like.  The things that make me happy.  I gladly put away things I enjoyed when Henry was born, but it is time to get those things back out, even if it is just on occasion and finding a new balance.  I need to feel like ME again.


Focus on being less Focused.

Um. HUH?!  What do you mean, Jenn?!  I have a problem of focusing too much on things.  I am OCD (self-diagnosed, of course) and with that I tend to focus on things....a little too much.  My intentions usually start out good, but they do consume me at times.  A nice evening with Terry could turn into me worrying because of the fluctuating temperature in Henry's room. Or that Terry is crunching his chip too loud and I yell at him and then we just sit in silence.  Or I am convinced we are sick because I heard a cough so I take Henry's temperature 70 times.  Or just focusing on the negative instead of the positive.  So I am making a big effort to only focus on what is important (like above) and not put my effort in focusing on things that do not matter or that I can not change.

So, these are the things I want to focus on with the New Year.  And the truth is I am excited for this New Year!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Twenty Five Days of Christmas!!

So with all the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season, I really try to stay positive and focus on spending time with family and doing the little things that really matter this time of year.  It can be so easy to get caught up in the commotion and forget to just STOP and ENJOY the holidays instead of being stressed.  You know, especially when some jackhole infront of you cuts you off so he can get into the same store you are going!!! 

(sigh)

Last year was rough.  Even on Christmas Henry was sick and in the ER a few days before Christmas and then again December 30th AND 31st.  He was sick for EVERY holiday or special occasion for about 8 months.  (This is no exaggeration) 

This year I think I am trying to make up for so many days where Henry was sick instead of doing fun things with his family and friends and even just T & I getting to relax and enjoy this time.

So, I have decided to try to do something fun every day during the 25 Days of Christmas!! 

Yeah, I know some of you are laughing to yourself….”Oh, you want to enjoy yourself and relieve stress and you want to do something EVERY day.”  Yeah, my logic isn’t always sound.  And lets be honest, not every day is going to be elaborate and I know I will miss days….but we are trying!

Here is what has been done so far (most of the stuff is with Henry, but some things just me):


1st – Put up and decorate the tree. It spins. Go ahead...be jealous.



2nd – Watch a cheesy Christmas movie and drink hot chocolate – Santa Baby 2 infact :-)

3rd – Order Christmas Cards – DONE and RECEIVED! (Thank you 1 hour photo from Walmart.) 

4th – Put up decorations around the house.

5th – Terry’s work Christmas Party. OK, this one is more of an obligation but still festive and fun!

6th – Family in Town!!  We found ways to be festive when we were at Levis Commons!!  (Henry took the picture of me!)



7th – Watched Love Actually…I actually Love this movie.  (See, see what I did there.)

8th – Go look at Christmas Lights in the car while drinking hot chocolate and eating snowman cookies! (from Starbucks of course)

9th – Call Santa.  We left a message, he was busy.

10th – Christmas note from Santa!! (Yeah, move over Elf on a Shelf, we have chalkboard on an end table!) 


11th – String popcorn for the tree and make snowflakes.

12th – Christmas Concert at school

13th – Mailed (nearly all) of our Christmas cards!!  Still have a couple I needed addresses for, but they will ALL be out by the 17th!  Henry go to his friend’s house for some Christmas fun!  Made handprint dough ornaments.

14th – Gingerbread house & Christmas list to Santa!




15th – Henry & I went shopping for gifts for his friends & some family


Here is a list of all the possible stuff left to do before Christmas!  We won’t do them all, except on Christmas Eve we will get in PJ’s, have popcorn and watch a Christmas movie!  But these are all possibilities!!

Ø  Make cookies for friends and family.
Ø  Send a card to a stranger
Ø  Buy a small Christmas tree/Wreath
Ø  Paint nails a festive color
Ø  Hang a string of colored lights somewhere unexpected in the house.
Ø  Donate toys & clothes to local charities.
Ø  Make Christmas crafts
Ø  Pay for someone's coffee in line behind me in a coffee shop or drive through.
Ø  Buy a toy for someone
Ø  Make treats for neighbors, co-workers & friends.
Ø  Henry make Christmas Cards for friends with treats and deliver them
Ø  Lights Before Christmas at the Zoo (We did this in November)
Ø  Go to a Christmas Tree Farm
Ø  Grandparents take Henry shopping to pick out gifts for mom and dad.  Mom and dad take Henry shopping to pick out gifts for family.
Ø  Wear Christmas pajamas Christmas Eve and watch a Christmas movie.
Ø  Christmas card for a solider
Ø  Read Christmas books

Ø  Call Santa at the library


Merry Christmas!!!!