Who’s Hot?

Surely I’m not the only one TOO HOT this weekend. Adding to my hotness is the prediction of 6 days in a row from 103-110, and then it will cool all the way down to 98…

Yesterday two different people told me they were going out for froyo. Of course, that sounded divine to me. But not divine enough to get in the hot car and drive 20 minutes. Add that to my tendency to “overdo” when faced with frozen yogurt and all the toppings, and I decided I could make my own frozen yogurt treat.

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Yummy! I topped it with just a sprinkle of sugar free chocolate chips and a bit of muesli. I made myself add up the calories. About 265. Still a little less than the froyo place, and a whole lot more healthy, I think. Plus, I didn’t have to leave my little air conditioned haven.

Recipe: 2 banana cubes (about 1 small frozen banana,) 7 small frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup of plain low fat yogurt, a spoonful of splenda and 1/4 tsp vanilla. Whirled it all together in my mini-food processor. The only thing I would do differently is to put it in the freezer for a little while to make it a little firmer.

Stay cool, and come back tomorrow for more insights on the Adventures In Maintenance!

Hello Again

Hello again. Sorry ’bout that. I had a this ‘n’ that post almost written before I left for a little visit with my BF, but I ran out of time. We had a great time together–it was more of a VAcation than a STAYcation this time. We usually hole up in her studio and quilt all day-every day when I visit, but this time we were in the car every day going here and there. It was a lot of fun, and I have loads of pictures to share with you, but I’ll get to that in the next few days.

So here’s what happened BEFORE I left. I had a very fun blogger meet-up with old blog buddy Juice (well, SHE’s not old. She’s one of my oldest blog friends. Oh dear, that didn’t come out right either. I’m sure you all know what I mean…) Anyway, we got together for a crafting day! Me with my quilting, and her with her cross-stitch.

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Chloe is her wonderful little dog–quite the personality, and if I remember right, she was going to run for president, but “no thumbses.” Noah volunteered to be her running mate.

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Juice lives in an apartment complex, but its like a walk in the country–lots of duckies and squirrels there.

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Chloe is quite the squirrel hunter.

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(Can you see the stupid brave squirrel up there giving her the eye?)

And Juice knows me well. The day ended perfectly with a visit to Pinkberry!!

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(LOL, we ate our froyo before we remembered to take a pic.)

I don’t make this blueberry topping too often. But I sure enjoy it when I do! This time I followed Lori’s directions, and at the end added a little of my sugar free syrup. It made a perfect topping for my protein pancakes.

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While we’re on the topic (we were discussing “blue,” right?,) here’s a picture of my favorite blue flower. I think they’re morning glories, but the nurseries label them “blue dawn flower.” I think that is a sales gimmick. Whatever, I love them.

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I know I haven’t been posting as often lately. Besides this latest trip, it is mostly because I am working so much on my art quilts. I have had lots of inspiration and ideas lately. I think its important to work when the inspiration is there. Sooner or later it will wane. And then you will probably see more posts from me!

The end.

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Balancing Act

Sometimes I feel like I’m on a very narrow balance beam. Other times I feel like I’ve got the whole floor to myself. Its a balancing act figuring out what to eat and how much to eat so I will lose weight the most efficient way possible without going so far that I will lose control and regain.

I admit that as time goes on, with this diet, I am a little more obsessive about it. Every night before I go to sleep, I write down my meal plan for the next day. And then the next day I will either write out the entire meal plan on my refrigerator notes, or I will write down each meal as it occurs. (This is not as hard as it sounds, It usually looks something like this:)

  • BF 250
  • LUN SH 170, veg 50
  • BAR 170
  • DIN fish 120, veg 50
  • SN — (usually its 200)

Quite a while ago I read a nutrition counselor that advised writing out a menu plan for the day instead of just tracking what you are eating as you go. I think that’s a pretty good idea myself. If I am feeling a little deprived, I can see that there is another meal coming that I am looking forward to. And if I am tempted to get a little extravagant with one meal, I can see that I will have to give up something else later in the day (so I usually don’t do that.)

I’m also balancing my protein intake throughout the day. That definitely keeps me from getting too hungry. Which is probably one reason that I am obsessive about “making my list and checking it twice.” Most of the time I am just not too hungry, so I feel the need to reassure myself that I am not eating too much.

One more balancing act–while keeping the majority of my choices whole foods, I admit to allowing in a few lower calorie processed products. Here’s a few of the latest that I picked up:

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That is the best sugar-free syrup out there. It has 20 calories per 1/4 cup. I don’t ever use a quarter cup on my pancakes or french toast. I got the Smuckers SF marmalade to try on my Simple Snow Peas and Shrimp. I have used Better’n Peanut Butter in the past, but gave it up for my own homemade nut butters. So why would I buy this? Well, convenience. But also because it has half the calories of regular peanut butter. I wanted to see how it worked in my Spackle 2.0. Verdict? VERY good. It was also very delicious on half an apple. The last bottle is just a spice blend that I really love: Montreal Chicken.

Here’s another little shortcut I tried. They had these bags on sale for 98 cents. I know it would still have been cheaper to buy the whole vegetables and chop them up, but I thought the convenience might help me to eat vegetables a little more often. And sure enough, it did! I need a steamer. But since I don’t have one yet, I just put half the package in boiling water with a little salt and some Mrs. Dash spice. Only 60 calories for half a bag.

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I was looking for something in my finder on my computer and I came across a recipe that I did not remember at all. They were called Shut Up Brownies–I just searched the original blog for them and I see she published it in 2008–that has to be the very first year I was blogging! Anyway, I gave them a try. And at first, I was all, ‘These are NOT brownies,‘ even though I was impressed with their size for 75 CALORIES. And then I was, “These are stinkin’ good for 75 calories.” “I could eat two of these for breakfast for only 150 calories!!!” Whether you call them brownies or muffins, they are very tasty and very filling.

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I regularly check in on Suzi’s blog, because she always has some interesting low calorie snack items. Last night she mentioned frozen yogurt trail mix bars. I googled it, and came upon this recipe (don’t know if its the one Suzi used.) I had some Fage greek yogurt that I wasn’t using, and some yummy Shelley granola that I wasn’t using, so it was a perfect time for me to try this. I did not follow the recipe, just the directions. I used 1 1/2 cups of yogurt, 1/2 cup of granola, and 1/4 cup of dried cranberries. Cut it into six pieces, and they are only 90 calories each.

Here they are, all packed up and ready to go back in the freezer.

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Lastly, I had some VRB (very ripe bananas) sitting on the counter, and I decided that today was the day to mash them and make some more banana cubes. I filled two ice cube trays, and there was still a little banana left in the bowl. I estimated it to be one large banana. I decided to experiment! This was a really delicious experiment. These little muffins were only 80 calories each. They have a different texture than those shut up brownies. They are very moist, more like clafouti? Anyway, I was quite pleased with myself.

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I can stop baking and experimenting for a while now. I have quite a nice stash of low calorie snacks in the freezer. More time for quilting!

What I Ate

What I ate–I’m referring to last weekend, when I took a 4 day trip out of town to that quilt workshop. I was really looking forward to “getting away.” I put that in quotes because, why, exactly, does a person who lives alone need to get away? Exactly what was I getting away from? Four dogs?–don’t answer that question!

ANYWAY, that was my intent. It was a short trip, both in time and in distance, but I wanted to relax and enjoy myself. Hmmm. So just exactly how relaxed was I going to be with food?

Those of you who read often will know that I am very good at traveling with food. I always like to get a hotel room with a microwave and refrigerator, and I usually google directions to any restaurants that have good low-cal food (Baja Fresh!) and local grocery stores.

This time I decided I wanted to be a little more relaxed about my food. I took some pre-portioned homemade yogurt, and some of Shelley’s famous granola, some fruit, and I also took some of my low-cal baked goods for breakfast. I had one serving of that wonderful ‘tropical slaw’ left, and I couldn’t leave that behind, so I stuck it in the bag. I brought some of my Quest protein bars, and some dark chocolate and commercial microwave popcorn. That was way more food than I was going to need, but it gave me some choices.

I knew they were serving a delicious catered lunch at the workshop each day. And I knew I wanted to eat dinner out one or two nights. AND, I knew I would get frozen yogurt at least once. So yeah. For a person whose been consistently dieting for 3 months, I was definitely planning to be a little more relaxed about my food.

Added into the mix: this was the first time I would be “recognized” as “The Healthy Quilter.” The Quilt Life magazine had just come out, and Alex Anderson (co-creator of the magazine) was the workshop teacher. That was making me a wee bit nervous. Was everybody going to be looking at me and thinking “who made her the queen of quilt health?” or “LOOK at what SHE’s eating!” (answer: no. Not very many people paid any attention at all.)

So this trip was a mixed bag. I made some really great choices–the side by side salad at Baja Fresh the first night. They give you so much grilled chicken that I saved half of it. The next night I mixed it into that tropical slaw that I had brought along. Ooh, that was a very good idea.

I ate that microwave popcorn two nights, but I really don’t like it any more. I much prefer my own paper bag concoction. So I trashed the rest of it.

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This was my snack tonight–6 cups of the paper bag microwave popcorn, 1/2 a serving of M&M’s (110 calories) and a diet coke.

One day after the workshop I needed to stop at Safeway for something. And they had a Chinese food bar where you could get a bit of this and that. It looked so good, and I did get just a bit of this and that. Not too much of any one thing. It looked way better than it tasted. Oh well…

The lunches at the workshop were just delicious. They had wraps one day, and wonderful salads another day. The third day they had sandwiches, and they all had mayonnaise (yuck) on them. I ended up just picking out the meat and tomato and tossing the rest. They had some homemade potato chips that were quite tasty. I also trashed them just so I wouldn’t eat all of them. I did not, however, trash the desserts…

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Alex saw that I had a brownie on my plate and got out her iPhone to take a pic of the evidence and send to Ricky. So I obliged by posing with it.

One of the hardest things for me was that in the afternoons they had some of that dang trail crack (trail mix with nuts, raisins, and M&M’s) on the back table. It is so hard for me to resist that stuff. I did pretty well. But I wondered if my table mates (who all were fairly normal weights) had the constant ongoing inner conversation that I had. I don’t think that’s normal.

One day I got some frozen yogurt, and even though it was not very good, I ate it all :{{ The last day I was there I found another froyo place (Menchie’s) and it was TOTALLY WORTHY! Got one for the drive home.

Back home, and I went right back to my healthy diet. No problems. No lingering cravings. I was very happy to be eating food that I enjoy that makes me feel good. I did notice that eating that much sugar made me feel bad. I wish I could describe it better. And the weirdest thing is, (and I remember this from ‘the good ol’ days’) when you are feeling bad from eating the sugar, you think that eating a little more will make you feel better. Hmmm. Did I just describe the thought process of an addict???

So there you have it–the good, the bad, and the somewhat ugly. I realize that this is a long boring ramble about “what I ate.” But I wanted to share the real life of a person who is maintaining a large weight loss and is even currently losing weight. Some people still seem to want to know.

Bananas!, an Oops, and Planning Ahead

I went to the grocery store the other day and they had bananas on sale 3 pounds for a dollar.  That seemed like a good deal, so I picked out the over-ripe ones and put them in my basket.  When I got to the check stand, the checker remarked that they looked a little past prime, and I happily went into my explanation of banana cubes.  “How bout 50 cents?” she replied.  Yeehaw!  A chance to try out a few new recipe ideas before they even became banana cubes!

That vegan banana nut muffin I got from Vicky the other day was delicious.  I remembered that I had bought some brown rice flour a while ago, and I wanted to give these a try. I googled ‘vegan banana muffins,’ and after comparing recipes, this one was the most innocent.  Some had twice the amount of sugar and oil in them!  I followed this recipe exactly, except I (don’t you hate it when I say ‘exactly’ and then proceed to list how I DIDN’T exactly,)  EXCEPT I used 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup granulated splenda. I used 1 cup of spelt flour and 1 cup of brown rice flour, and I used coconut oil.  The calorie count is pretty high (240c/muffin,) mostly owing to the large amount of walnuts in them (yumm.)  And they are still WAY too sweet.  I’m gonna have to quiz Vicky about the ratio of sugar to flour in her recipe. (edited to add:  I checked with Vicky and she was nice enough to share her recipe with me.  Interesting, because I thought it tasted “richer” than the recipe I made, but it does indeed have less sugar AND less oil in it, and it has some almond milk in it as well.)

The other banana recipe was just to try making my banana frozen yogurt idea in my real ice cream maker, and to get down the right ratio of banana to yogurt.  This was absolutely perfect for me.  It is the just right combo to make a sweet/tart frozen yogurt.  Much healthier than the store version, I’m sure.  And a little easier for me to control myself on volume and toppings…

The oops was yesterday.  First day since I started The Hunger Game 10 days ago that I ate when I was not hungry. Disappointing.  I also ate some not-so-stellar choices while I was out and about with a friend.  Oh well.  We are not going to be perfect, as I read recently somewhere.  And I am very glad that I was able to get right back on track today.  Started out a little rocky, as I ate two of those banana muffins for breakfast.  But then I didn’t eat until 1pm, so that was okay after all.

And Sharon asked the other day if I plan ahead or just wait until I get hungry to figure out what I am going to eat.  I’m pretty much doing what I did before I started this.  I am usually pretty well-stocked with quite a few healthy food choices.  I batch cook, so many times I have whole meals pre-cooked.  I am trying to pay attention to what my body actually needs, so sometimes my choices will change from what I originally thought I was going to eat.

Some examples of pre-planning:

  • Today I took an already-cooked salmon fillet out of the freezer to have in a salmon salad tonight (presuming I am hungry tonight.)  Since that will be a heavier dinner, I had a lighter lunch when I got hungry.  I had a smaller bowl of cottage cheese/pear spread/walnuts, and some roasted butternut squash.  Yumm on the butternut squash.  I got a package of it already cut up at Costco.  I really love butternut squash, but I really really hate cutting it up, so this is a great find for me.  (BTW, butternut squash people, can I just enjoy the wonderful buttery nutty taste of the squash all by itself?  Do you have to include that recipe that adds apples, butter, honey, and pecans to the squash on the lid?)
  • A couple of days ago, I had just gotten a LOT of veggies at the store, and I finally remembered to pick up a package of that shredded cabbage, so I wanted to make a batch of my fried rice.  I took a piece of pre-cooked chicken and about 4 ounces of pre-cooked shrimp out of the freezer in the morning.  BTW, that cabbage worked wonderfully well in this recipe.  You don’t know where the rice leaves off and the cabbage starts.  Such a taste treat.  Anyway, even though this is a recipe that requires a little more chopping and prep time, I just waited until I got hungry to start preparing it.  It really only takes about half an hour.  That’s not too long to be hungry, is it?  And now, the next time I get hungry, there are three pre-portioned servings of fried rice just waiting for me!

There’s No Place Like Home

Its not just Dorothy who thinks that!  Even before I got to the airport on my way out of town, I was thinking about how much I love my peaceful evenings at home with the doggies.  We have gotten into quite a lovely routine these days.  Usually about 5 pm the natives get restless (interpretation:  Sophie starts reminding me it is dinnertime.)  So I take all of them for a nice walk, then come home and usually read Lori’s blog (cause you shouldn’t exercise and eat immediately afterward?) and then feed them, and then feed me.  Okay, that part is not peaceful.  But here’s the good part.  After we all have eaten and ‘gone poddy,’ we come back in and get in our places.  Noah stretches out on the floor and just zones out.  I get in my  chair with my current project, and Monk and Sophie watch anxiously for the signal to get in my lap.  They settle in, and THAT’S IT.  We’re set for the night!  When its time for bed, Noah goes outside, and I carry the two little ones to their crates and they never make a peep (compared to other times they are in their crates and feel they must constantly remind me that they NEED TO GET OUT.)  I love this time, and to me it has equal value to any extravagant trip I could take. I just need to remind myself of that occasionally.

Its pretty peaceful most mornings too!

Sophie, in the bed under the desk, as close as she can possibly get to me without being in my lap:

Mr. Monk in ‘his’ chair:

And the new and improved Noah, the sleeping version!

One last bit from the trip:  Its all about the color!!

When I say I got “new threads,”  I mean it literally!!

And just “a little bit” of fabric…

I started this collection of more muted, small print fabrics in response to my love for the beautiful detailed Japanese quilts.  There were 65 quilts from Japan at the Paducah show!

Ooh, and I almost forgot that I had gotten this!!  This is fiber for spinning my own yarn–a gift from my spinning/knitting friend that I met in Nashville!  Aren’t these colors glorious?

When I got home, everything had really leafed and budded out and looked so green and pretty.  Spring came pretty late this year.

This Japanese maple has the prettiest pink leaves when it comes out in the spring.

I really like this one–lime green moon-shaped leaves.  A little different than most Japanese maples that you see.

My lilac put on quite a show this year, now that it has gotten so tall that it can get some sun!

Its an English lilac.  I love the heaviness of the buds, and the delicate color and smell.

Finally.  Back to my own food.  I had some good food on this trip.  Overindulged a bit.  Looking back, nothing stood out as absolutely outstanding.  And by the end of the trip, both me and my Australian room mate were seeking vegetables!!

Before I got home, I thought about what I wanted to do to get the vacation weight off (its mostly already gone, so I guess it was just water or travel weight,) and I decided I would really make an effort to eat more vegetables and protein, and limit grains to one serving a day.  I went to the grocery store and stocked up on vegetables, as well as getting supplies to make my yogurt (which I strained to make “greek style.”  It is a lovely batch of yogurt.)  I’ve stuck very well to that plan this week.  It sure wasn’t hard to eat more vegetables. It was a privelege!

Last night I had a new idea for dessert.  This was so fantastic!  I only like the ‘tart’ frozen yogurt at the froyo shops.  This was 3 of my frozen banana cubes, and 3 Tbsp of my yogurt  swirled together in the mini food processor.  Absolutely perfect.  No sweetener needed at all.  Topped with just a few chopped pecans and some mini chocolate chips.

And finally, the BIG REVEAL!!  This is the muffin recipe that Sharon and I worked on together.  Sharon wanted to make chia muffins that were low fat, high fiber, and high protein.  So we googled a recipe, and then started futzing around, adding stuff to increase the protein content without adding too much fat or carbs.  The muffins we made were very good, kind of like a cornbread texture(?) and were very filling.  I knew I wanted to come home and fool around a bit more, adding a little fat for flavor, and just a bit of sweetener.  Sharon and I have shared a few ideas by mail, and then I asked Vicky if she thought 1/4 cup of coconut oil was okay for 12 muffins.  I meant, for the taste and texture.  Vicky did a little math in her head and said, no, 1 tsp of oil is not too much for you to have in one day.  Okay…  

Anyway, I made these this morning, and oh, my.  They were maybe TOO good, if you know what I mean.  I made some of them with blueberries, others with raspberries, and a few with dried cherries.  They are all safely ensconced in the freezer.  The stats run from 145-210 calories, depending on whether or not you add the coconut oil, and whether or not you use fresh or dried fruit.  They have a good percentage of chia seeds and flaxseed meal, and all of them have 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per muffin.  My only complaint about them is that there is a lot of ingredients and they took a bit of time to make.  I didn’t notice that when Sharon and I were working together on them!  But after a little less than an hour, I had 15 muffins to put in the freezer.  I’ll get that recipe written up soon and add a link to it!

The end.  Even though there is no place like home, I am leaving in a few hours for a women’s retreat.  It is a speaker I love very much, and it is at Lake Tahoe–I couldn’t resist the opportunity.  I’ll be back home in 48 hours!!

Where Do I Start?

To borrow the language from some of my favorite cooking shows, this vacation had a lot of different components to it, which added to the complexity and the “flavor” of the experience!

Who flies across the country to spend three days with a person they’ve never met?  Only a blogger, I think!  Of course, I ‘knew’ Sharon from reading her blog for the past two years, and I felt that we would get along well, and I was right!  Sharon was such a gracious hostess.  She has written all about our time together, so I will not elaborate here, except to say THANK YOU once again to Sharon for her time and generosity.  Sharon and I developed a really fabulous muffin recipe that I will share in a separate blog.

Here’s a picturama of our hike in the Smokey Mountains!

Everything is so green in Tennessee–I love it!  Kind of a young green, if you know what I mean.

We saw this deer in the middle of the stream, which seemed so unusual.  Later, when she moved, we could see that she looked pregnant?  Hormones, maybe?

These little log bridges were a bit scary!

I have a bit of an obsession with stumps.  Isn’t this beautiful, though?

And we made it to the waterfall!!

I loved that you could get right up next to the waterfall!

And photographic proof that we were there!  You know, I think these national parks underestimate their mileage by quite a bit.  It sure seemed a lot longer than 5 miles round trip to me!  But worth every single step.

Next, Sharon and I drove to Nashville to spend the day with Cammy.  What fun!  (and why is everyone TALLER and THINNER in person than I thought they were?)  Hey, nobody says to me “You’re taller and thinner than I thought you were LOL.”  I guess nobody imagined that I was 4′ 8″ and 110 pounds?  Anyway, we had another great day, and Cammy wrote all about it here, so I won’t try to improve on her report.

We went to the Opryland Hotel, which was a mammoth place, and included INDOOR waterfalls!

And gorgeous flower plantings.

It would have been just plain weird if Cammy and I had met and frozen yogurt was NOT included.  This was CiCi’s, and it was really delicious.  And much more decorated than most of the froyo places I’ve been!

I had a day to recuperate from all the festivities, and then an old friend from my spinning and knitting days drove up to meet me in Nashville.  The last time we saw each other was in 2003, when we had the great experience of co-teaching (actually I was assisting her) at a national spinner’s conference.  It was like no time had passed at all, and we had so much fun talking dogs and knitting and life.  We went to a gorgeous yarn shop, and I spent too much money, and then we went to a big mall and sat in the courtyard and knitted and talked some more.  What a great day.

And then the quilt show tour began.

If you can stand it, come back for more tomorrow!  I know I included a ton of photos, but I came home with 400 pictures on my camera, so consider yourselves lucky LOL.