Alive and Well on Planet Cake

Seriously.  I live on a planet where cake is plentiful.  It has always been around.  It will always be around.  And the truth is, I don’t really want to live on a planet where there is NEVER any cake around.  I don’t want to be held hostage by it.  I for sure don’t want to feel like a helpless victim of it.  I don’t want to eat it all the time.  The truth is, I hardly ever want to eat it.  But I do want it there once in a while.  Cake is the perfect mixture of sweet and fat, with a little salt mixed in.  Yes, Dr. Kessler, it is a problem for me.  Or, to quote the King of Siam, “IS a Puzzlement!”

So what’s the solution?   Sooorry, I don’t have a solution.  As I told BIF Jill, if I had the answer to that, I would probably be a multi-billionaire, and worshipped by millions of fat Americans all across the country.  But I do know a few things that work for me, and a few that don’t, so I thought I’d share them here.

  • Don’t keep it in the house.  I pretty much follow this rule all the time now.  Because in the old Weight Watcher’s days, I would make various types of cakes (cake mix and a bottle of diet soda anyone?) and portion it out, and freeze the pieces.  Cake does freeze well, in case anyone is interested.  But that’s basically too much cake to keep around for one person.  And if its there, it WILL be eaten.
  • Try alternative recipes.  There are some really good recipes out there that either have minimal sugar in them, or completely eliminate sugar and use ripe bananas or dates as a natural sweetener.  Some of these recipes are VERY healthy, but can still be pretty high in calories, so you have to be aware of that.  Two of my favorite dessert recipe sites:  Katie and Georgie.
  • Develop your own recipes.  For me, that if a recipe has 1/2 cup or less of sugar, it doesn’t cause me as many problems.  ‘Problems’ being that I can’t stop eating them.  Case in point:  I made Katie’s delicious snickerdoodle blondie recipe.  Yes, it was a relatively healthy recipe.  I think Calorie Count gave it an A- (I love it that they grade their recipes.)  But it had 3/4 cup of sugar in the recipe.  And yep.  I couldn’t stop eating them.
  • Avoid the breakroom?  I did this for at least a year and a half, when I was actively losing weight.  Now I wonder how I did it.
  • Eat it last.  Seriously, this solution actually works very well for me .   If I am being disciplined at a potluck, and I do want a dessert, I will take it and put it away, and save it for the end of the day.  Because if I eat it early in the day, I WILL continue to eat sweets that are sitting out.  I don’t seem to have any problem going back to disciplined eating the next morning.

I don’t claim to be an expert on weight loss or weight maintenance.  (See above comment about being a multi-billionaire.)  Heck, truth is I’m struggling mightily right now.  I was completely in control the whole stressful week after my dad died.  But then the world went wackie, and it seemed, EVERY OTHER DAY I didn’t care.  And then, can I tell you that the very first day I went back to work, they had the potluck to end all potlucks?  Yes, me + stress of being back at work + celebrating a co-worker’s retirement + unlimited goodies = ...what does it equal?  A LOT of calories consumed.  Followed by a day at home completely in control of myself and my food.  Like, I said, I’m no expert.  But I do have a few tried and true tools in my belt.  And I do have fun developing new healthified recipes.  I got such a kick out of thinking up that clafouti recipe.  Here’s another new one I dreamed up on my way home from church today. I had some delicious strawberries from the farmer’s market on my back seat.  And I thought, I suppose I’ll just eat them with cottage cheese.  Nothin’ wrong with that. Not too exciting though.  Then I thought, ooh, I’d really like them with some sugar-free vanilla pudding.  THEN I thought, hey, how about combining the pudding with the cottage cheese?  Yumm.  Now that’s really starting to appeal to me.  Then I got home and I had no more sugar free vanilla pudding in the cupboard.  Because yeah, I’m trying to healthify the foods I keep in the house.  Oh, but there was a package of Knox gelatin in the place where I usually keep the pudding.  Hmmm.  Read one of the recipes on the gelatin box, and came up with this combination:

What shall I call it?  Cottage pudding?  Pretty healthy, and pretty good stats for a light dessert.  4g carbs, 13.5 g protein, 125 calories.  (not counting the fruit topping.) Okay, I just took a break from blogging so I could taste-test it.  Very tasty.  Not sure its recipe-worthy yet.  Might adjust the amounts a little–more ‘pudding,’ less cottage cheese.

Changing the topic rapidly, here’s what I cooked up for lunch.  When I was little, the only way my mom could get any of us kids to eat eggs was to make ‘eggie reggies.’  That’s scrambled eggs with little bits of fried potatoes mixed in.  This is my grown-up version of eggie reggies.  Very similar to my Skillet Scramble recipe.  Only I had fresh eggs from the farmer’s market, and even a home-grown potato from the farmer’s market!  Mmmm mmmm!

While I was typing, Mr. Monk was going to town on his favorite bone.  For an old guy with bad teeth, he sure does enjoy chewing.  Cracks me up.

 

 

Over and out.  Back to work tomorrow–time and a half for the holiday!  Seven shifts left!!!  And a week from today I will be in Cambria for rug hooking camp!!!!!

 

 

A Seriously Good Recipe

Oh I was so excited when I thought of this recipe.  And then when I plugged it into Caloriecount.com, and saw the stats, I was even more excited.  And then… when I tasted it.  Oh. My. Gosh.  I was really really excited.  Only thing was, I didn’t know exactly what to call it.  Started out calling it an Apple Pie Frittata.  But then I thought, frittatas don ‘t really have any flour in them.  Also, I needed to figure out how to cook it so it was more presentable.  I pretty much thought about it all day.  And then, last night a couple of names of food came to mind so I checked them out:  clafouti and kugel.  Kugels have noodles in them.  But clafouti was it!  And it had different baking directions.  And it used cherries, which I had wanted to try for this morning.

Okay, if none of that makes sense, I will try to slow down and calmly share this recipe with you.

Seriously, can you believe that is ONE SERVING?  One glorious, tasty, NUTRITIOUS, filling serving!  (That is a regular pie plate that I baked it in.)   Here’s a picture of it cut in half so you can see the insides.  Its kind of like a light, custardy pancake.  Its JUST LIKE a clafouti LOL!

Here’s a link to an article about traditional clafoutis, and here’s my healthified version.  300 calories and 27 grams of protein—woo hoo!  Now that’s a breakfast of champions.

This recipe has a lot of possibility for variation.  You could add a lot more cherries (fill the pie plate) and serve it as dessert with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.  If you made it four servings (still a big serving)  and added two extra cups of cherries and 1 Tbsp powdered sugar, that would bring the calorie count to about  120 per serving!  Definitely an elegant, worthy dessert.

The first version that I did was with a chopped up apple.  I did it in a pan on top of the stove. I cooked the apple for a bit in the pan, and after I poured the batter in, I thought, uh oh.  How do you cook a frittata?  And ran over to the computer to google directions.  And you’re supposed to cook it on top of the stove, and then  finish it off in the oven.  But my pan didn’t have an oven-proof handle, so I ended up flipping  it in sections and cooking it the rest of the way on top of the stove, so it was VERY tasty, but not very pretty.

If you wanted to increase the protein and fat, you could add some nuts and only eat half of it.  Or how about apple and cheddar–oh yumm.  I think you do have to be careful with add-ins, or you lose the healthy, low calorie element of the thing.  That’s what happens with all recipes, I suppose.  A little more butter, a little more sugar…

Anyway, have much more to talk about, but think I’ll save it for another day.  Have a great long weekend everyone!  I will be working two of the three days.

What Can I Say?

What can I say?  That seems to be a reoccurring theme around here.  Maybe I should make it a regular feature.  I wish I was organized and had regular weekly themes to write on, like some of my favorite bloggers do.  Helen, Shelley, and Vickie all have weekly themes that they write on.  It seems so organized and grown up.  Maybe when I retire I will be more grown up???  (Which, BTW people, I have nine shifts left!!!!!!!!!)

Well, here’s a bit of this ‘n’ that.  Yesterday my friend and I drove down to the bay area to pick up my dad’s roll top desk.  It is a beautiful LARGE desk.  I live in a 650 square foot cabin.  Can you say, what was I thinking?  We got home and I looked in my living room and I thought, all my furniture is large.  What is wrong with me?  Maybe when I retire I’ll re-do my living room.  (Can you see a reoccurring theme here?)

Well, at least we make good use of the giant couch here at casa debby.

I talked to some missionaries I like very much on Sunday.  They work to support a Christian school in Thailand for the hill people.  It started out especially for the girls who were in danger of being sold into the sex slave indurstry, but now they have little boys in their school too.  This guy is a go-getter.  He gets these kids into college, and then he fights to get them a job, because there is a prejudice against them over there.  The wife asked me when I was going to visit, and I said, “maybe when I retire…”

A couple of nights ago I was reading my How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free book, and they recommended Elderhostel as a way to travel economically.  Evidently Elderhostel has grown up and is known as Roadscholar.  And they now offer travel experiences to all ages–they call them intergenerational.  It is a fascinating website.  Most of their trips are billed as educational experiences.  I love that they are all-inclusive (meals, travel, and accommodations.)  I definitely plan to use this service when I retire.

Last night I watched my favorite internet quilt show.  The featured quilter was about my age, height, and weight (just guessing by appearance.)  She had some great quilts and was an animated speaker.  But my favorite part was at the end when they talk about the other interests of the featured quilter, and she talked about her passion for bike riding!  She talked a little about how she sometimes has trouble balancing her love for biking and her quilting.  I loved that!  Because I’m a little worried about how I’m gonna fit all this in when I retire…  oh,and I checked her out, and how about that?  She’s a fellow blogger!

Laura mentioned her favorite flip flops.  Has anyone else tried these out?  I think I will treat myself to a pair….when I retire.

A while ago Vickie turned me on to the Happiness Project, where you get a ‘moment of happiness’ quote of the day in your email.  I have to admit, I don’t always open them up, because for goodness sake, I’m just not that stinkin’ cheerful every morning.  But I almost always like the quote when I do read them.  Here is this morning’s quote, by one of my favorite guys.  If only we would all aspire to this.


“Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.”
 Thomas Merton
 Over and out.  I have a lot more laying around to do today before I go back to work tomorrow…

Oops, Belated Bloggiversary Greetings!

How bout that?  Can you believe I’ve been doing this silly blogging for three years now?   This seems like the best time to share the funniest quote about blogging that I’ve ever heard–

Never in the history of the world have so many people had so much to say to so few about so little.

Come on.  You can’t be offended.  That is just plain funny.

Of course my first thought when I heard the morning radio dj’s say that was, “harumph,  you guys just don’t understand blogging.  And its not like you have such great words of wisdom to offer at 6am in the morning either.”

But it made me laugh, and it was funny enough that I memorized it LOL.

Oh, back to MY bloggiversary.  Which is, I know, of immense interest to so few  the masses.  Here’s a link to my very first post.  And lookie there–who was my only commenter?  That’s right, its BIF, good blogbuddy Jill!  Through thick and thin (harhar) Jill and I have stayed friends.  Jill recently encouraged me when I said to her in an email “darn it, I’m sick of the struggle” (referring to the never-ending battle to make good food choices and try to lose a little weight.)  Jill emailed back,   I’m tired of the struggle too, but giving up is not an option. We just have to keep forging ahead. I mean really, we are the Navy Seals of weight loss – we will not give up!! :) ”  Which totally put a smile on my face for the day.  I think it was a week later that I realized it was a reference to the current events of the day.  I think I flunked current events in the sixth grade…

Honestly, I’m having trouble stringing together coherent thoughts into a good blog post.  So I’ll just a share a few incoherent thoughts and be done with it.

I’m pretty sure you’re looking at this first picture and thinking, Man, Debby’s really lost it.  Taking an unattractive picture of an old plastic grocery sack?  Well, this was my food bag for today’s excursion. And I wanted to share exactly how easy it is to take your own healthy food with you for the day.  No fancy equipment needed, even when your food requires refrigeration.  I just take one of those blue ice thingies, plop it in the plastic bag, and then put my plastic container of yogurt and fruit on top of it.  Also in the bag was a small baggy of granola to add to the fruit and yogurt, and another small baggy of nuts for my afternoon snack.  And a plastic spoon.  No excuses people.

Last night’s dinner.  An absolutely delicious combination.  There’s half a skinless chicken breast under there, smothered in sauteed onions and mushrooms, with just a bit of melted cheddar cheese on top.

Katie to the rescue!  I’ve really enjoyed trying some of the new desserts from Katie’s site.  Her recipes are usually very healthy, and many are sweetened using only natural ingredients (dates and bananas.)  They aren’t always low calorie, but they are VERY tasty and satisfying.  And I especially like that they are usually small recipes.  I recently tried her ‘Single Lady Cupcake,’ the strawberry shortcake version.  THAT was heavenly.  And no leftovers in the freezer to keep obsessing over.  I want to try her Snickerdoodle Blondies next.  They are her version of the black bean brownies, only she uses garbanzo beans.  Very clever, Katie!

Something that I have been glad to have in the freezer?  Those Magic Rolls, courtesy of Lori!  Absolutely delicious as a little afternoon snack.  I plan to have one for my ‘dessert’ later tonight.

My Left Thumb.  After almost ruining my hands by knitting too many hats (I got carpal tunnel syndrome,) now it seems I have a ‘trigger thumb,’ probably caused by repetitive grasping/pinching actions (aka hand piecing, hand quilting, etc.)  Come on, darn it!  Give me a break here.  For now I have put away all my hand piecing/quilting/embroidering, until I go to the doctor on Thursday.  The internet says you need to rest it 4-6 weeks.  I have rug hooking camp in three weeks…

Don’t I live in a beautiful area?  I try to appreciate where I live instead of just looking down at the ground I’m walking on.  This old tree intrigues me.  It looks like its had a rough life.  But it still wants to live.

Well, that’s about it for now.  I fluctuate between ‘life as usual’ and being indescribably sad.  Fortunately for me, the periods of indescribably sad are short-lived.  More often I feel like I have a hangover.  Oh, maybe that would help–drinking that giant jug of brandy I have sitting on the counter left over from making my mom’s fruitcake…

I’ll end with one of my all time favorite pictures, from my third blog entry about Other Worlds.

Hope you all have a peaceful and restful Sunday!

Whatsup?

Man I want to blog.  I want to say something.  But nothing comes to mind.

Last week was pretty darn stressful, if you want to know.  Everything went as well as it possibly could have really.  We had the memorial service for my dad on Saturday afternoon.  And I drove home Sunday morning, arriving to SNOW and no electricity!  Come on!  Anyway, the electricity came back on pretty fast.  I unloaded a boatload of stuff out of my car, and then took off to pick up Noah.

Amazingly, I didn’t gain any weight while I was gone.  I think its because I ate my own stuff every single day for breakfast and lunch.  Dinner and evening snackage was pretty much a crapshoot.  The word crap seems to have wormed its way back into my daily, no, hourly conversation.  Sorry ’bout that.

And then Monday morning, right back on track with my eating.  I amaze myself.  I’m trying something new, which does not involve movement, thank goodness, to get some of this weight off.  I’ll let you know in a week if its working.

‘Which does not involve movement’–yeah, not a lot of movement going on around here.  Between the rain and my general malaise, not a lot of activity going on.  Maybe I’ll make myself go to the gym tomorrow.  Cammy wrote a really good blog about motivation.  And  Loretta  wrote a wonderful blog comparing the seasons to our weight loss journey.  Even in the dead of winter, when it seems nothing is going on, there is still a chance that things will come back to life in the spring.

I’m still catching up on blog reading.  I’m trying to finish quilt projects.  And actually, I am preparing to put some of my quilts in two different shows.  I can’t remember what I told you before.  But back in March I went to a wonderful conference called Intersection of Art and Faith.  So I met some fellow Christian artists, and that’s how I’ve gotten invited to show my quilts. Who knew?  Another of those ‘hidden worlds.’

Did I tell you I’m retiring LOL?  Well, the paperwork has been done, and I actually wrote a letter of resignation to my boss.  Yikes.  That letter made it seem more real than all the papers I had signed the week before.  June 28 is my last day of work!  I won’t be a neonatal intensive care nurse anymore!  It seems so strange, but it also seems like the only thing to do.

Changing the subject to topics much more familiar to me… here’s my eats for the day.

This morning I tried something new–almond meal pancakes.  VERY low carb, but kind of costly calorie-wise.  I enjoyed these.  Not nearly as good as my regular protein pancakes.  But they did hold me until noon.  That is a good breakfast.  The recipe made 5 pancakes–2 1/2 was a nice sized serving at 350 calories.  Topped with mashed banana from my freezer, mixed with a little sugar-free syrup.  There are a lot of almond meal pancake recipes out there.  This is the one I tried.  Only I left the agave nectar out.  Not really necessary in pancakes.

Strawberries and cottage cheese.  How can you improve on that?  Oh, you can add some chopped walnuts, that’s how!

Does everything taste better with sauteed onions?  And to think that I didn’t eat onions until I was in my late 20′s!  That’s just some cut up zucchini along with the onions, and a nice piece of sirloin roast on the side.

Not pictured was my afternoon snack of Spackle 2.0 (I’m still not tired of this stuff.  I ate it every single morning in my hotel room last week!)  And tonight’s snack is still in the oven.  I’m making some of those Crispy Pecans.

I thought I’d end by sharing a little quilt I made a few years ago for my dad.  He liked bears a lot.  I labeled this “An Old Bear Dreams of Paradise.”

(this quilt is a Ryan McKenna design.)

Perspective

Hey all!  I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.  The comments and emails were truly wonderful, and helpful too.  I will be out of touch for the next week, but hopefully back in the blogging saddle next week.  I miss writing ad nauseum about food.  And I miss reading and commenting on your blogs, although I have been able to sneak a peak at a few of them once in a while.

That said, going through the end of life with someone you love does tend to put a different perspective on all that we blog about.  The carrying on about a pound or two, lamenting dress sizes, what we eat, how much sweat pours–it all seems a bit ridiculous when life and death is happening all around us.

THAT SAID, I still find that I want to connect with you all about health, weight loss/maintenance, and of course, food.  On this most recent trip I discovered that I really really do not like sugar and sugar based treats.  They are too sweet, after I’ve eaten them I feel physically unsatisfied, and I am very tired of fighting off the ‘wanting more’ that always accompanies a sugary treat.

When I came home Saturday night, I did really want to treat myself with food.  I thought about all the different choices available along the drive.  I decided to come home and have half a leftover steak that was in the freezer, some zucchini, and half a baked potato with a little real butter on it.  Perfection!  I really wanted a decadent dessert, but did not want sugar.  Then I remembered that I had seen Chocolate Covered Katie on Miz’s blog and she had a recipe for chocolate fudge cake that I wanted to try.  That was EXACTLY what I was looking for!  The base of it is coconut butter and banana.  NO sugar.  Quite decadent.  I also tried her raw cookie dough balls--I liked them almost better than the fudge cake.  This is a new way of looking at dessert foods.  They are quite decadent, completely healthy whole foods.  They are not very low in calories but a little bit really does satisfy you.

Over and out. I’ll be out of touch for one more week.

A Life Well-Lived

Almost two months ago I came up with the title for this blog.  I wish I had written it then.  The title was a phrase that popped into my head on one of my frequent visits to see my dad, who lived in an assisted living center.  At first, I was thinking about all those old folks, and how they all used walkers to get anywhere.  And to be honest, as you know, I was also thinking about my dad’s poor health, with most of his problems being related to his long-term only moderately controlled diabetes.  And originally, in my brain, I used that phrase ‘a life well-lived’ to mean that I just wanted to keep myself healthy and fit so I could say at the end that my life was a life well-lived.  And then I realized that in spite of his poor health that phrase perfectly described my dad’s life.  PERFECTLY.

My dad died yesterday morning.  I’m so very glad I made the decision to go down and spend the previous week with him.  I am sad, but I am okay.  My dad spent his entire life serving the God that he loved so much.  And he is happy to be in His presence now.

Two years ago, when he moved into this home, he started a Bible study for the ‘old folks’ even though he was still grieving the death of his wife.  In the last year he has mentored a young pastor at his church, and just a few months ago was put on the elder board at their church.  They were so kind to dad–they had their meetings in his apartment because it was too hard for him to go out.  He dreamed of starting a discipleship program for the young men at his church.

He spent his last week dictating letters of encouragement and love to the people closest to him.  The last day, when the hospice nurse came,  (we had hospice for one whole day!) he was quoting his favorite Bible verses to her.  And when his pastor called that evening, Dad SANG a hymn to him!!

I was thinking today how very blessed I was to have a dad like my dad.  Some dads are good ‘kid-dads.’  And some only become good dads when you are all grown up.  But my dad did both well.  He was the best kid dad around.  We took trips to the zoo, and the aquarium.  He read books to us, and played board games (and never let us win!)   He indulged my love of dogs, and always encouraged whatever craft I was involved in.  In fact, he actually bought both of my sewing machines.

And then when I was grown-up, we actually developed a closer relationship.  I always called on Dad when I had a spiritual question.  He actually didn’t like giving advice, but he always listened, and would give his opinion when pressed.  He was a great encourager.  But most of all, he loved me unconditionally.

I can only hope to live my life half as well as my dad lived his life.