Perpetual Motion?

Hi guys, I just got back from a quick trip to Mendocino.  You guys must think I am a traveling fool, but really, this is unusual for me to be traveling this much.  Anyways, a couple of observations are stuck in my mind.  I went for part of a trip with my dad and his wife, and their two oldest friends.  It is always very sobering to spend time with my dad and his wife, because they are basically very disabled, mostly because of inactivity.  They do have a couple of other problems that factor in.  Their friends, who are even older, are actually still very active.  And then when I came home, I was watching all my recordings of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ (my favorite time of year again!) and there was Cloris Leachman at 82 years old ballroom dancing!  Yah, that’s what I want to be doing when I am 82!  And still, it was hard for me to actually go out the door and take a good long walk.  But I did.  I also got in some great walks along the beach in Mendocino.  And I am keeping up with my 100 Push up Challenge.  I am done with week 5, but I bet I will have to repeat this week.  That’s okay though.  Its just a good challenge for me.

Mizfit has a lot of good information on her blog.  I don’t think I am telling anyone anything new, but just in case someone wanders by here who doesn’t know her…today she had a guest blogger who pointed out two known factors in successful weight loss–keeping a journal, and a strong social support system.  These aren’t just this gal’s opinion.  They are proven factors in several studies.  When I started W.W. I said, NO WAY am I writing down everything I eat, but now it is second nature to me.  I highly recommend it.  And accountability…I totally agree with that too.  I think I might write a bit more about that next time.

This is a study done by Stanford, and if you fill out their survey, they will give you a neat little print out showing you where you are doing good, and where you need to improve for optimal health.

Apple Peels Make Me Happy

One of my favorite ‘driving home from work’ snacks is a nice crisp apple and a low-fat string cheese.  I am not much of a cheese eater.  I like it melted on anything, but not so much by itself.  But in my continuing search for nutritious foods that are not messy and are easy to eat while driving, I decided to try string cheese.  And I really liked it.  Then I thought, oh, fruit and string cheese, that sounds so European and elegant, maybe there’s something to it.  And surprisingly, I loved it.  I finally got why people liked this combination… But always, my WHOLE life, I couldn’t stand apple peels.  Like fingernails on a blackboard.  No matter how many times people said, but that’s the best part for you.  I always peeled my apples.  If I had to eat them without peeling, I would take a bite, bite off the peel, and dispose of it.  So one day, I don’t know what happened, maybe I thought to myself, well, French people eat apple peels…(I don’t really have an affinity for French people, but I am a fan of the book French Women Don’t Get Fat,) but whatever.  I made myself eat an apple WITH the peels while eating my string cheese.  And I liked it.  No more fingernails on the blackboard.  

So now, when I have one of my favorite drive home snacks of a whole apple and string cheese, it makes me happy.  It is a symbol of how very differently I have learned to eat over the past 3 3/4 years in my ongoing effort to lose weight and to eat healthily.

Here is a picture of Lainie, my miniature wirehaired dachshund,  named after Elaine Bennis on Seinfeld.  She was little and feisty when I got her, just like Elaine.  I thought that name suited her better than the name she came with, ‘Princess Alexandria,’ which she didn’t know anyways because she was a backyard breeder dog that had been ignored for the first two years of her life.  Now she is almost 13 years old and is the reigning queen of this house.


Can You Make a 2 Point Pizza???

Well, I was going to write about something else, but then I got in a bad mood, which I sorta solved with food, but most of the food was ‘good’ food, so I think I’ll tell you about that.  I went to the store to get a few things to try a new recipe–chicken chimichangas (I’ll let you know if they are any good.)  And then I was looking for something Roni had recommended–Joseph’s Lavash Flat Bread–which I didn’t find, but I found  Flatout Light Bread instead, which worked great.  BTW, this bread is labeled carb down, and has Bob Greene’s seal of approval on it, in case anyone cares.  I only mention this because Mizfit wrote a hilarious post about not liking Bob Greene.  Back to the grocery store.  So since I was in a foul mood (and it was only 10:45, and someone had once again mentioned how great the Weight Watcher’s ice cream bars were,) I decided I would get a box of those to try on my way home, which is something I really would never do on an ordinary day.  I got the ‘Giant’ chocolate with chocolate cookie crumbs.  I have a love-hate relationship with w.w. products.  Some of them are absolutely great tasting, and are some of my favorite snacks, and some of them taste terrible.  Most of them pay no attention whatsoever to nutrition, and I think they are very expensive.  And ‘Giant.’  Really, people, in some foreign country they might be giant, but not in America.  However, they were a nice size, and they were VERY satisfactory.  And for me, the single serving aspect of it is a very good thing.  More practical than the 1/2 gallon of loving scoopful ice cream that I’ve been enjoying.

On to the flatbread.  So it is one point.  I topped it with a bit of homemade marinara sauce (which is really just a combo of canned tomatoes and tomato sauce,) some onions, mushrooms, spinach, and 1 low fat string cheese–one point.  So by my figuring that is 2 points.  I guess I could run it through the w.w. recipe builder, or I could call it three points to be safe.  WHAT-EVER.  I put it in my toaster oven for 5-7 minutes at 400, and IT ROCKED!    The flat bread did get really flat, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to eat it like pizza, so I folded each piece over into a triangle like a quesadilla, and that worked.  It was so delicious.

I did go to Curves too, so got that out of the way.  And when you are mad at various and sundry things, it does make you work out extra hard.  Gonna go try to redeem the rest of the day!

Its Gotta Be Worthy

I love me some cake

I love me some cream.

High fructose corn syrup, you say? 

Get out of the way—

That’s the stuff of my dream.

 

High fat, low fat,

Real or fake,

I don’t really care

When it comes to cake.

 

But its gotta be worthy,

its gotta taste good.

Three points or less

is preferred, if you would.

So this is the tongue-in-cheek poem I wrote for a contest over on CrankyFitness.  The question Cranky posed was whether you preferred– when you wanted a treat– junk food snacks that were lower in calories, or a smaller portion of ‘the real thing.’ 

The reason I put in that line about high fructose corn syrup was because when I started this thing (weight loss) I started trying all different ‘energy bars,’ and granola bars mostly as ‘healthy’ substitutes for cookies and desserts, and sometimes breakfast.  I really liked some of them, and ate a LOT of them.  At about the same time, high fructose corn syrup was in the news a lot, being touted as an evil food addition.  So, I finally started reading the labels of my energy bars and I noticed an ominous trend.  All the ones I liked the most had high fructose corn syrup as the first or second ingredient!  I have since cut way back on my ‘energy bar’ consumption, and try to avoid, but not completely eliminate the evil high fructose corn syrup.  I have noticed an interesting trend, however.  After HFCS got such a bum wrap in the news, many of the bars began appearing with ‘rice syrup’ as the first or second ingredient.  Who are we fooling people?  We like it because it is sweet.

So, I said I don’t really care if it is real or fake, and for my ‘desserts’ that is true, at least partly.  I started out the first week with a container of Lite Cool Whip (Main ingredients:  Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup) and now hundreds of cool whip containers later, I still think almost anything can be improved with a little cool whip…(my latest favorite is a butter toffee rice cake with a little cool whip spread on it–1 1/2 points) but it is still really important to me that something taste really good.  If it is chocolate, it should taste like real chocolate, etc.

The low points are really important to me because I do really try to use the majority of my points to fuel my body with healthy food.

And I use that phrase A LOT–its worthy, or its not worthy (that is, it tastes good enough to be worth using ___ amount of points on it.)  The other day my sister said, you know where that phrase came from, don’t you?  I am aware, I said.  Seinfeld fans will remember what Elaine was referring to when she said that.  Its disgusting, but nonetheless funny to me.  I can’t help it.

The Food Journals

As always, food is on my mind!  I thought I’d write a series this week about various food topics that are on my mind.  Maybe it’ll work into a weekly column, but I’m not sure I’m organized enough for that.  For today, I’ll just share a new recipe.  I tried it out today, and it is MOST worthy!  Macaroni and cheese, with butternut squash.   4 points for a big old serving.  As usual, the original recipe was found on another blog, and then I just adapted it to fit the way I like to eat.  If you like traditional mac and cheese with a smooth sauce, visit Lyn’s blog for her recipe.  She has some other tasty sounding recipes on there.

I don’t like most sauces.  I didn’t like gravy until I was a grown-up.  So the way I like my macaroni and cheese is the way my mom made it.  With little lumps of cheese in it.  Its easier than trying to make a sauce too.  So I went to the store because I thought, if I’m gonna have mac and cheese after all this time, I want me some real macaroni (not whole wheat, which I almost always use.)  But I found this stuff, Ronzini Smart Taste, which said it was ‘white’ pasta with 3X the fiber.  And it was fantastic.  The reason I list ‘cheese sticks’ in the recipe is because that is what I had.  But today I was thinking, that is the way to go for a single person.  Even before the weight loss, cheese was always getting moldy on me because I could never eat enough of it.  This way, each little piece is safe until I need it.  Oh yeah, and the butternut squash…I kinda think I actually got a spaghetti squash.  I was so mad when I took it out of the oven.  Obviously I don’t know my squashes very well.  But even if it was spaghetti squash, it was excellent.  So don’t despair if you get the wrong squash. (But don’t get carried away.  It would not be the same with zucchini.)  Anyways, here is the recipe.  I just made 4 servings, because I didn’t want to eat it forever.  But I bet I will eat all four of these servings!

 

Debby’s Famous Mac and Cheese

5 oz. Ronzoni Smart Taste Macaroni

3 Trader Joe’s Lite Mild Cheddar Cheese Sticks (2 1/2-3 oz)

1 cup nonfat milk

15 oz. butternut squash

1 Tbsp. lite butter

Salt, pepper, and chopped dried onions

Cut squash in half, remove seeds, spray w/Pam, and bake at 400 for 60 minutes.  I used half of the squash (about 15 oz. raw).  Scoop the squash out of the shell and cut into bite size chunks–it might be mashy, that’s okay.  In the meantime, cook the pasta according to pkg. directions.  Drain pasta.  put in an 8 or 9 inch square casserole pan and add the butter, salt, pepper and chopped onions to taste.  Stir around.    When the butter has melted, add the cheese, which you have already sliced or chopped into small pieces.  Stir to let cheese partially melt.  Add the squash and stir to distribute squash evenly.  Pour milk over all.  Bake 30 minutes at 350.

4 servings, 4 points each.

For 9/11

Thought I would just share with you what I wrote in my journal this morning.

Today, 9/11…and as I write I hear a noisy plane overhead, and sirens in the background.  A VERY poignant reminder of what today represents–that life is a vapor–and can change or end in an instant–to live life with an attitude of thankfulness–to NOT drift mindlessly through a day–but most of all to think long and deep about what is importat and what is not.

Thought:  to be grateful and thankful for life would be to enjoy it–never thought before about JOY being the root word of enjoy…to enjoy = to enter in to the joy of …WHATEVER!!!

Thank you Lord, for my garden, my plants, the hummingbirds.  My dogs. My safe house.  The quiet and calm.  A cool morning.  COLORS.  Quilts.  Pretty thread.  Today I vow to ENJOY them  all!  Oh yeah, and GOOD FOOD!

Is Dog Grooming Aerobic Exercise?

Well, I give up!   Something is not working so I cannot put pictures in this post.  And it really doesn’t matter anyways.  I just thought the title was amusing, and wanted to include pictures of my clean doggies.  After yesterday’s proclamation that I was going to exercise, I decided I couldn’t stand the dust anymore, and decided to wash AND groom all four dogs.  That really takes all afternoon.  But they looked so pretty when I was done.  (I used to be a dog groomer.)  So…not much time left for exercise, but I did get in a short walk with Oliver.  The girls don’t get walked in the summertime because they are too close to the ground (dachshunds,) and it is TOO DUSTY.  Boy, am I ready for fall!  But after complaining about everyone’s cool weather, it did really cool down here yesterday afternoon.  Very enjoyable. 

So, fall…cool weather…soup, anyone?  Yesterday I made taco soup, and it was so delicious.  And I realized that I use basically the same process, and that it could be adapted to almost any kind of soup.  So here’s what I do.

Start with the veggies that are the ‘hardest’ i.e. take the longest to cook.  Spray the pan with Pam or whatever,  and add those veggies, on medium heat.  Wait a few minutes, then add the next hardest, and on down the line to the ones that need the least cooking. Add whatever spices you like.  Then add water or broth, making it as liquidy or as thick as you like.  I usually have pre-cooked (left-over) meat that I add at the end.  I think I’ll put this taco soup recipe on a separate page (over there in the side bar under recipes.)  It was really good and not too many points.