Veggies Times Two

Thought I would update you on how the diet’s going. In a word, S-L-O-W-L-Y. But I better shut up and stop complaining. Because I am losing weight, and that is more than I have done in the past few years! So far I’ve lost 20 pounds since the end of November. Yahoo!

When I came up with the idea for the “Me Diet,” I almost immediately thought, what are you going to do if this doesn’t work? What if you get too hungry or too bored, then what? So I wrote down a little plan. Which included adding in more vegetables.

So far I’m not too bored, but I am starting to get a little hungry. Not stomach growling hungry, more like “out of fuel” hungry. So I have added in more vegetables. I usually have some kind of vegetable with my protein shake. And I’ve tried upping the ante at dinner time by having at least two vegetables, or a combo of veggies. I asked about “complex” veggie recipes recently. I remembered that Georgie had quite a treasure trove of vegetable recipes. I’ve tried a couple of her combinations, and bookmarked a few more. I’ve also realized that most of the time I can’t be bothered with complex recipes. I’m perfectly happy with plain and simple.

Here are a few of my recent vegetables:

Asparagus and butternut squash. You gotta love the pre-cut veggies that are now available. I got this squash in a bag on sale for $1!IMG_9351

Brocolli Slaw! I love this stuff. I’ve had it in several different salad combos. Its also great in stir fries. This was an Asian style salad with pineapple and chicken and Paul Newman’s Sesame Ginger dressing (35 cal/serv!)

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Here I added it to some romaine lettuce and other stuff. I had a wonderful salad at a restaurant recently that had several different fruits in it, including strawberries and watermelon!

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(There’s not that many walnuts in this salad–they just all got into the picture!)

Here’s how I often have my vegetables: just boiled with some Mrs. Dash seasoning. Its quick and easy, and I cook up a big pot so I can have it warmed up for several different meals.

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I usually cook more than one serving of vegetables at a time. They keep well in the fridge, and so are available for the days I don’t feel like cooking. Fortunately I like vegetables, so it is not hard for me to eat a variety of them. They have so many nutrients. Its a good thing, as our friend MS would say.

I have also been eating potatoes a little more frequently, thanks to another sale–5 pounds of red potatoes for $1! Who could resist? I usually have a small one or half of a medium one, baked. Again, potatoes have a lot of nutrients in them. I usually have them with some spray ‘butter’ or topped with part of my dinner (meat, cottage cheese, or mushrooms and onions. Yumm.) Don’t avoid potatoes. Avoid the caloric POTATO TOPPERS.

I generally have a lot of salad fixings around. A salad is  quick to fix when you have all the ingredients ready. And it takes a long time to eat–so very enjoyable.

My favorite (and only) raw vegetable that I munch on are the baby carrots. They come in handy, especially when I am cooking dinner. Especially because I have to feed the dogs before I get to eat…

Adding in a few more vegetable servings during the day has really kept me quite full!

That’s about it for today. Don’t forget, there’ll be an new AIM (Adventures in Maintenance) post up on Monday.

Friday a la Shelley!

When I woke up this morning, I was going to name this post Friday Mishmash. And then I thought, that sounds vaguely familiar? Oh, yes. Its friend Shelley’s famous Friday post! Oops. Anyway, I just had a bit of this and that to post about, so thought I’d share it with you all before the weekend. (This post ended up super long. Maybe you can divide it up and just read a little bit every day, since I can’t seem to make myself blog on a more regular basis.)

Yard guy came over this morning. Oh my. That guy works so hard. And so fast. I can hardly believe all that he got done this morning. And because he was working, and I needed to make decisions about where to move stuff/plant stuff, I worked pretty hard out there too. My yard has not looked this good practically since I moved here, and between him and me, we have even more ideas to fix it up. I am pretty excited about the whole thing. This is the first time I have been able to put plants in the ground in forever. And then I looked back and saw that like five out of the last six posts were about the yard and/or working outside. I guess it is consuming a lot of my time and thoughts right now.

So back to the mishmash. Do you guys floss your teeth? I have never been able to make myself floss regularly. But at my last cleaning, the tech made some semi-threatening statement about having to do some ‘gum work’ if it didn’t improve. And so I became a flossing fanatic.  I got myself one of those Reach thingies. I like it a LOT better than floss.I was so proud yesterday when she kept exclaiming about how good my gums looked! I am a convert.

I tried something new-to-me. I made a veggie stir fry WITHOUT rice. I put a lot of those bean sprouts in it, and I LOVED it. They gave it a nice texture, and without the rice, you can have a bigger volume of vegetables. And you know me, I’m a volume eater. This bowl had about 200 calories. I added some shredded chicken thigh meat and some little shrimp.

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I am going to start gathering more complex vegetable recipes. If you have any favorites, let me know.

Here’s this morning’s breakfast. Its not new. But saving the leftover egg mixture is new. (I just mix 1 egg, 1/4 cup egg beaters, and 1/4 cup almond breeze, and whatever flavors I want–usually splenda, cinnamon, and vanilla.) The egg mixture keeps well in the refrigerator, and is plenty to make another English muffin french toast later in the week. I use Thomas’s Whole Grain English muffins. This breakfast only has about 150 calories (topped with spray butter, cinnamon splenda, and SF syrup.)

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I got some new frying pans–8 inch and 10 inch. These are the pans I use all the time. My old ones were pretty beat up. I like these a lot so far. (Both of the above dishes were cooked in this pan.) The best part is that I found them at Ross–two for $19.99!)

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And back to the yard. Here’s how the yard looked before yard guy came. Did I show you all these little perennials I planted? And that is my favorite corsican mint ground cover to support the mound around the tree.

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Bleeding heart:

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And this little clump of shamrock. Isn’t it charming?

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This camellia was in a huge pot, but was not that happy in there. It is a low-growing camellia, and is the one that has the pretty pink blossoms in November. Yard guy patiently rotated it so that I could choose the angle I liked best before he planted it. I think it’ll be much happier in the ground here.

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And then yard guy tackled this very large atlas cedar. It was in a wine barrel, and the pot I wanted it in was narrower and deeper than the wine barrel. He did a super job of transferring it. You can see how huge the pot is compared to the lawn chair in the background.

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And my proudest, happiest moment today! A cherry tree IN THE GROUND!! If you only knew what the ground was really like around here. Rocks and roots and clay. And now yard guy came up with some landscaping that we can do in that area of the yard! So exciting.

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See that mound of dirt in the corner of the fence? That’s from Noah’s ‘landscaping’ efforts over the past few years. We decided to add a bit of stonework around it and use it as another planting area!

After yard guy left, I moved a bit of yard art around.

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And the dawrgums had to come out and investigate what had been going on in the yard! Noah didn’t hold still long enough for me to get a shot of him.

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Mr. Man is content to find a sunny place to sit and relax.

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Well, if you made it to the end, I will bid you a good weekend. Tomorrow I am going to one of my favorite conferences “Intersections:  Faith and the Arts” at Oak Hills Church in Folsom, CA.

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!

Good Clean Fun

This is good clean fun!  That’s what I thought as I made some pumpkins scones (thanks for the recipe, Suzi!)  The original recipe for these scones was only 87 calories each.  By the time I changed up the recipe and the portion size a bit, they came out to be 135 calories, which is still pretty good for a treat.  And as I thought about what would make them ‘perfect,’ I remembered that a little Fage greek yogurt was a pretty good substitute for the traditional clotted cream served with most scones.  Fun!

I’ve been on quite a cooking/assembling jag lately.  Probably the reaction to being away from my kitchen for a week.

I ran out of the wonderful Justin’s Cocoa Almond Butter, and I thought I could probably recreate it.  Here’s the recipe.  Pretty easy to make yourself, especially if you start with the slivered almonds.  It’s kinda hard to get a nice shot of chocolate almond butter, so here’s a pic of my favorite way to enjoy it–on a nice crisp apple.

After I got home from my trip I had quite a hankering for Mexican food.  Here’s the simplest way I know how to solve that one.  I picked up some tortillas at TJ’s that were only 60 calories each.  Added one ounce of cheese, some salsa and chopped romaine lettuce.  Very satisfying.

I also picked up a bag of TJ’s broccoli slaw.  I followed their recipe ALMOST exactly.  They said to use 1 cup of your favorite dressing.  Wowza.  That could be a lot of calories.  I made this dressing to put on it:  1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt, 1 Tbsp Honey, 1 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp honey mustard, and 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.  JACKPOT!!  This was so very tasty, and it was good for a few days.  (Main recipe:  1 pkg broccoli slaw, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup walnuts, and 1 apple chopped.)  For 6 servings it is 130 calories.

 THEN, I had bookmarked this recipe for pumpkin butter quite a while ago.  I thought the stats were pretty good (47 calories for 2 Tbsp) and when I compared it to TJ’s commercial pumpkin butter, I was right–theirs is 45 calories for ONE Tbsp.  So I finally set out to make it.  I followed that recipe almost exactly.  Very tasty, and a little goes a long way.  Oh. When I made those pumpkin scones, I didn’t have any canned pumpkin in my cupboard, so I sub’d a smaller amount of the pumpkin butter.

I got a cold or something this week.  Just feeling under the weather, but not bad enough to stop eating evidently.  I was so glad I had stocked up on fresh fruits and veggies, because that is what I crave when I get a cold.  Now that’s a change for the better, isn’t it?  The asian pears and fuji apples that I brought home are just so delicious.  I had a head of cauliflower in there, and that Cauliflower Potato Bake just does the trick for some healthy ‘comfort style’ food for me.

Trader Joe’s was featuring a few new foods, and I succumbed to both of them.  One is frozen sweet potatoes.  I believe they are sweet potato cubes LOL.  And the other was some BBQ pulled chicken breast.  So yummy, and only 140 calories for a 5 ounce serving.   Yummy, but quite zesty, I have to admit.  It would be great over something bland, like a baked potato.  Or like they served it at TJ’s, with the mashed sweet potatoes.

So another thing I’ve been thinking about is how I learned in W.W. that the little changes you make really do count.  Suzi’s pumpkin scone recipe is definitely a lesson in that.  It is a very low fat recipe, which is why the original recipe was only 87 calories (and it was a modest portion size.)  When you start adding a ‘bit of this,’ and a ‘little of that’ for a treat or for extra flavor, that is when the calories start creeping up.  Do that enough times, and you won’t be on a diet any more.

Which brings me to my last point.  I didn’t write a final thought on The Hunger Game.  As I said before, I kind of stopped waiting until I was hungry to eat.  Which points out that there are a lot of reasons I eat besides just to ‘fuel’ my body.  Still, I did learn that it was unnecessary for me to have those little snacks or bits that I would indulge in between meals.  And it is a tool that I plan to continue to use and to strive towards.  I just checked out Georgie’s blog this afternoon, and there was an EXCELLENT article about calorie counting, and her suggestion that you just wait until you are hungry, and then wait 30-60 minutes to eat!  How about that!  Georgie is a registered dietician, and everything she’s ever written has made sense to me.  I hope you’ll check it out if you don’t know her.  She is also a wealth of excellent healthy, low-calorie recipes.  Lately she’s been experimenting with more grain free recipes.

That’s all the news that’s fit to print around here.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  I plan to stay inside with the doggies on my lap.  Very comforting, even if it is a bit difficult to stitch with 45 pounds of dog on your lap.  (I just figured that out!  No wonder I get tired after a while with all three of them on there!)

This ‘n’ That

First I want to thank everyone for chiming in with some very good advice in my prior post about arthritis.  Even though I am (was) a nurse, my area was so specialized that I really don’t know a lot about adult medicine.  I feel more informed and am going to go forward from here.  In the meantime, I have been swimming up a storm, and am really loving it.  I am REALLY tired the next day, so I think its a pretty good workout.  Unfortunately, my weight lifting is taking a back seat, but I plan to add that back in soon.

Here is “The Bess Show.”  She gets the award for being the most photogenic dog this week.

Well, you KNOW that you-know-who was not going to be left out entirely.

Bess is very aware of where everything is supposed to be (I don’t know how she manages that in this house.)  If anything is new or out of place, she becomes quite concerned about it. Bordering on obsession, unfortunately.  She is also one of the few tv watching dogs I have had.

Watching The Dog Whisperer:

Watching “Hachi, A Dog’s Tale.”  That’s a pretty good movie, BTW.  Oh, that’s my new computer, which is working wonderfully as a tv/movie screen.  The picture is so clear, and the sound quality is much better than my old computer (very important for us old folks, you know.)

And a rare shot sans tongue.

I have found a few good peaches this past week.  I decided to try the Flax Cakes with peaches instead of blueberries.  And then I had the idea of making them into muffins instead of cakes.  Perfect amount to make six nice muffins.  Yummy, and very filling.

Two of them made a very nice breakfast.

It might seem like Noah is getting ignored on the blog, but don’t worry about him. As well as being lion-sized, he also gets the lion’s share of attention around here.

Almost every night he scratches that carpet up into a ball so he can sleep on the carpet underneath it.  Sigh.

The other morning I went out to check my zucchini plant, and I found this absolutely perfect blossom.  Isn’t it beautiful?

Here is my sad little vegetable patch.  I have actually gotten about 4 or 5 zucchinis and two whole tomatoes.  At the amount of water I have to use, that probably makes it about $5 per vegetable.  I’ll stop complaining about the prices at the Farmer’s Market now.

I bought a four pound bag of walnuts in the shell at the farmer’s market the other day.  $8.  Wanted to compare prices.  Just about half the weight was the actual walnut meat, so that made it $4 per pound, and a lot of hard work on my hands.  Not worthy.

Ah, I mentioned you-tube the other day.  When my computer was down I got very creative with my kindle fire.  I was able to watch you tube videos just fine on there.  And they have some wonderful full-length lectures and such on you tube. I started out looking for sermons by Francis Chan.  If you haven’t heard him speak, he is very compelling.  There’s just a ton of Francis Chan stuff on there. And then I found  an interview with Ann Lamott. I have to admit I have not read any of her books, but I love some of her quotes, and she was really interesting to listen to.  It was very well done, at a Writer’s Forum, and they had interviews with other writers I am interested in such as Eugene Peterson and Phillip Yancey.  Big Think does some interesting looking interviews.  The only one I watched was the interview with Marion Nestle, (New York University Professor of Nutrition) which was fascinating.  Basically she pointed out that people all over the world, in different times and different cultures, have eaten very different diets, and yet they are all healthy.  The main thing is to eat real food, and not too much.  She had such a common sense point of view.  I thoroughly recommend watching that video if you have time.  Its about 14 minutes.

Oh!  I almost forgot the most important news!  Wendy and I got together last week and worked on the website for The Bridge (our Haiti child sponsorship program.)  Well, Wendy had done all the work.  I just forced her to hit ‘publish’ and let it go public.  I think she did a beautiful job, and now you all can see what I am talking about when I talk about The Bridge.

Well, that’s about it for tonight.  Off for some lap time and a little more stitching before bed.

I Grew A Tomato

Tonight I didn’t take a walk.  I watered my plants instead, hoping that Noah would get enough exercise running around the yard (sorry, Dog Whisperer, I know its no substitute for THE WALK.)  Anyway, look what was ripe on my little tomato plant!  I am such a proud mother.  I got some old planter boxes from my mom, and thought they might work like raised beds (because the bottoms of the boxes were rotting out,) so I got one tomato plant and one zucchini plant.  I laugh at myself every time I see them, because they were little plants when I got them, so I very nicely planted pink petunias in the corners of the boxes, thinking how pretty and decorative it would be while I was growing vegetables.  Poor petunias. They don’t see much sun these days.

Anyway, this is not a good picture of my tomato, but it is the funniest ever.  A good follow-up to last night’s photo op.

Along the lines of vegetables (we were talking about vegetables, weren’t we?,) as always, when I come home from a trip I am absolutely crazed for vegetables.  Seems I get enough fruit on trips, but veggies are hard to come by.  I know, salads.  But I like cooked vegetables a lot.  So I guess that’s my version of mindful eating.  I just really really want to eat a lot of vegetables.  Tomorrow I am going to make a pot of steel cut oats and push the envelope to see how much zucchini I can add and still enjoy it.  There’s a lot of zucchini in zucchini bread, so I think it will work well.  That makes me think that it would also work really well in baked oatmeal.  I will try that in the fall.

And at the same time (coincidentally, I think,) I have watched a couple of documentaries:    Food Matters and Dying to Have Known.  Both are along the same lines, about the great qualities of a vegetable based diet.  Dying to Have Known was all about the Gerson Diet/Therapy/Cure,   Dr. Gerson was a physician in the 1920′s who discovered that a plant  based diet could cure quite a few incurable diseases, including  cancer.  Even if you don’t believe all of the evidence that they provide, you can’t help but think that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is a good thing.  I know I don’t get sick very often.  Dr. Gerson also believed in coffee enemas, which I used to think was REALLY weird.  But this time when I heard it, I thought about all the recent articles I’ve read about the “hundreds of helpful components” of coffee, and studies that show that coffee drinkers live longer (raises coffee  cup to Lori!) and I thought, why not?  If it works good in one end, why not the other?  Its not any weirder than some of the other things they use from that direction.  And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Here’s a couple of other random thoughts I’ve had about these documentaries (and others like them.)  One thing they never mention (on both the vegetable and the paleo side of the fence) when they talk about how much better people feel/lose weight/are cured/etc. is that  most of these people are going from a highly processed crap-food diet to a purely whole food diet. Whichever end of the whole food spectrum they are changing to, it has to be a wonderful shock to their body.

There is one thing I kinda disagree with the vegan documentary people about.  That is juicing.  They seem to think its necessary to juice to get enough vegetables in.  Is that because it would take too long to eat the vegetables the normal way?  Because in America we are in too much of a hurry and couldn’t spend that much time eating?  Or is it because your body wouldn’t allow you to eat that many vegetables?  They don’t address it.  It doesn’t seem right to me.  God didn’t put a Veg-A-Matic in the garden.  On the other hand, it sure seems like a good excuse to get one of those super VitaMix machines that I see at Costco.

Oh, and now that I’ve mentioned God, let me give you my opinion on the whole Paleo, eat like our ancestors did thing.  I kinda think that before the fall, when God first created everything, man  didn’t need to eat meat to have a perfect diet.  All those plants were plenty.  And I think there were grains in the Garden of Eden too.*

(*disclaimer:  I did not go to theology school or Bible college.  I haven’t even spent a lot of time reading Genesis for proof of my theory.  So take it with a grain of salt.  BUT NOT TOO MUCH SALT!!!)