Recipe Review: Debby’s Famous Mac and Cheese

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Macaroni and cheese used to be one of my favorite “comfort foods.” My mom made it with cubes of cheddar cheese that melted into the pasta. I like that so much better than the saucy stuff. So when I tried to make a lightened up version of Mom’s mac and cheese, I pretty much followed her assembly method, and just lightened up the amount of cheese and butter involved. Oh, and I usually use almond milk (only 30 calories in a whole cup!) And, the biggest change I made was to add the butternut squash. I really enjoy the taste of the butternut squash with the macaroni and cheese, and of course, it substantially increases the portion size! This recipe makes four large servings at approximately 250 calories each. Why did I name it Debby’s FAMOUS Mac and Cheese? I don’t know. Its only famous in my own mind. I don’t think I’ve ever served it to anyone else…

As an added bonus, here is a new recipe. Its kind of a version of another recipe (Breakfast Fruit Wrap) I did a long time ago, but it was different enough that I just wrote it as a separate recipe. This was stupendously delicious and satisfying. I haven’t used the La Tortilla Factory Smart and Delicious 100 calorie tortillas for a long time, so I don’t know if they’ve changed their formula, but I thought the tortilla was delicious. Anyway, the recipe is here for Cheesy Apple Breakfast Tortilla. So yummy, I will be having it for breakfast tomorrow!

DSCN0689Okay, for someone who says they minimize wheat in their diet, I am fully aware that I am endorsing two recipes that contain wheat. What can I say? Oh, I know. Yumm.

Recipe Review: Baked Oatmeal and a Simple Shrimp Dish

This week I’ll review two reliable recipes. Both are ones I developed this past year in my efforts to make simple low calorie foods that were still enjoyable to eat. Both have been consistent “repeaters” for me, and both of these happen to be variations on the original recipe.

The first is my “Bare Bones Baked Oatmeal.” Some baked oatmeal recipes are pretty decadent (and therefore VERY tasty.) They are higher in fat and sugar than this recipe, and so their serving size is a lot smaller. Since I am a volume eater, I experimented to see if I couldn’t get a bigger serving size for less calories, and this is what I came up with. I love my original version with the blueberries and apples. But since I had some leftover pumpkin in the fridge, and its that time of year, I decided to try an Apple-Pumpkin version. This was very enjoyable. It would be SOOOO Good with pecans, wouldn’t it? You have my permission to try that. But leaving the pecans out meant I got a bigger serving. I just do better with that. Plus, I’m not tempted to go back for more, like I probably would be if there were nuts in it…

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I’ll put the specific recipe changes on the original recipe site.

The second recipe is my Simple Shrimp and Snow Peas recipe. This is a just plain yummy recipe. And it is VERY low in calories. For the version pictured here, I added some chopped zucchini, red bell peppers, a bit of fresh ginger, and some scallions. And I served it over a bed of brown rice.

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I definitely think that the original recipe is MUCH better. That surprised me. Sometimes simple is good.

Real Snow : )

It started last night:

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And this was the scene this morning, looking up the road:

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Looking down the road:

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Noah and I took two walks in the snow. He loves the snow so much!

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All day long I enjoyed watching these little birds flutter around the bird feeders. How do they do it?

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I know this snow is small potatoes for some of you northerners and easterners. But its a pretty big dump of snow for us spoiled Californians. I won’t be going anywhere until at least Monday. I think these are the days I am most grateful that I am retired.

Birthday Girl!

I had such a nice quiet birthday yesterday. Started the day with my favorite breakfast–protein pancakes with walnuts baked in and banana maple syrup to top them. And coffee :))

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Spent a lot of time reading and looking at some of the new books I got for myself, and then finally got dressed. I decided that I wanted to go to Starbuck’s (because I got a free birthday drink,) Walmart (because I “needed” some new yarn,) and the gym (because I wanted to eat a little lot more than normal.)

I decided to dress nicely because I wanted to wear the new scarf my BF had sent me–a beautiful blue Laurel Burch design. I just happened to have a new blue top that would go perfectly with it. So I decided to take MORE pictures of myself. (I take these pics with the feature that is built into my iMac. So I have three seconds to get the dogs to cooperate before it snaps a picture. Also, I can’t quite figure out where to look…) My sixty’s eve birthday is well-documented LOL.

Photo on 12-4-13 at 12.53 PM

Photo on 12-4-13 at 12.54 PM

Photo on 12-4-13 at 12.55 PM

Photo on 12-4-13 at 12.56 PM #2

After a peppermint mocha frappucino and a Quest bar at SB’s, I went on to Walmart, where I spent a little too much money. But it was all stuff I needed, so its all good. And then on to the gym for 45 minutes on the bike while I watched Dr. Oz.

On the way home I picked up one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever had! They make them right in my own hometown, and they’re pretty famous with the skiers on their way up to Lake Tahoe. Anyhoo, in the olden days I had one of these burgers every week. I bet its been six years since I had one, and it was every bit as good as I remembered.

I ended my birthday celebration with Katie’s one minute cake, topped with that single serving frosting. Mmmm mmmm mmmm.

But best of all, today I am right back on track with my healthy living diet. And I went out for a walk, and Noah and I walked all the way to the end of the road and back. I think its been more than a year since I’ve done that. So all in all, a very good start to my goal of being a Spectacular Sixty (I like that better than the other descriptive word that goes with sixty.)

Note to self: simple mixed veggies really do fill a void when you are trying to eat lower calorie!

Note to self: simple mixed veggies really do fill a void when you are trying to eat lower calorie!

Christmas decorations for the dogs:

DSCN0573DSCN0557You guys! It is so cold here! Last night I was in the shower, all soaped up, and the pipes froze up! I had to heat some water in the microwave to wipe the soap off. Tonight I will leave a little water running, and I re-covered a couple of the pipes that the insulation had slipped off of. I brought in a ton of firewood (functional exercise) and I thought about how I now understand why people move to Arizona and Florida!

Bess made it clear that she thought it was too cold in her kitchen/bedroom. So I added a blanket. She and Mr. Monk were very satisfied with this arrangement LOL

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Thank you all for the thoughtful birthday wishes both here on the blog and on Facebook! It made it a really special day.

A Sixty’s Eve Birthday

I’ve heard some women say that turning 60 was quite a shock. And some women I know even admitted to being quite depressed by the fact. So I decided to embrace the coming decade, and celebrate my 59th year as my 60’s eve birthday. That means I can celebrate for a whole year, right?

To turn things around a little, I decided to treat some of my friends to lunch on the eve of my actual birthday. That was fun. I started the day  by playing around with some new quilt block ideas.

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And then headed to the gym for my “sandwich workout” (20 minutes bike, 20 minutes weights, 20 minutes bike.) Had a fun time at lunch, and then headed straight home for some lap time with my other “friends.”

Oh, and this picture fits into the “aging gracefully” category. A couple of days ago I started worrying about not having enough pics of me and Mr. Monk together, so I grabbed him and snapped that picture sans any makeup or hair fixing.

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I ended the day with my other friend, Noah, on a twilight walk. I felt so good I ran a little bit. That seems like a really good way to celebrate your sixty’s eve birthday.

AIM: Letters to Santa

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Dear Santa,

I’m supposed to write a letter to you this Christmas. After years of buying my own Christmas presents, I’m finding it hard to write to you about what I am wishing for. Maybe if I just chat with you for a while about things we have in common, I’ll feel more comfortable sharing my material wishes.

Can I speak honestly with you, Santa? I feel like we have a LOT in common. Thank GOODNESS no one has taken it upon themselves to write a poem about me. But if they had, they might have included several similar lines–that bit about the jelly belly, and laughing a lot. And then that  reference to being chubby and plump! Don’t you find that irritating? I mean, what right do they have including that description of you in a poem about all the good you are doing all over the world??

Anyway, let’s talk about my favorite subject: food!! Specifically, COOKIES. How do you do it? Sometimes I can avoid the beastly things–I just don’t go to some functions that are all about the cookie. And sometimes I can ignore them–like not looking to that side of the church (where the cookies are served) when the service is over. But if I was faced with free cookies hundreds of times in a single night, and especially when I was working and stressed and tired, my defenses would wear thin, and the cookies would eventually win out.

So what do you do? Do you eat cookies all night long on Christmas Eve, and then moderate your intake for the rest of the year? What are your thoughts about the addictive qualities of sugar? Some folks even call it toxic! Do you think that could be true? And what about that combo of fat-sugar-salt? All the best cookies contain these three ingredients! Do you find them as irresistible as I do? What’s the answer, Santa? I really want to know.

Can I share with you some of the things I have tried? This recipe is the most delicious and healthiest cookie recipe I’ve ever made. Its not calorie free, though. Which, of course, is why it tastes so good. But at least you can feel virtuous as you indulge. And that Katie–she has a LOT of dessert recipes on her website. To be honest, some of them look better than they taste. And some of them have a lot of calories. But some of them are really tasty, and she has single serving recipes. And that works really well for me. If I know the recipe is there, it is like a safety net. It is there in case I just HAVE to have something sweet. And its a single serving, so if I do make it, there are no leftovers calling to me from the back of the freezer. The other day, after a long workout at the gym, I wanted a cupcake. I even went to the cupcake shop. But they didn’t have their cupcakes made yet. So I went on home. And I thought about cupcakes all day long. Then I remembered Katie’s single serving cake recipes. And THEN (and I don’t know if this is good or bad, Santa) I googled “single serving buttercream frosting.” And do you know, they have a recipe for that on the internets? It might not be the very best choice, but I am thinking that when I really really want a cupcake, this is a good option. By making it at home I have control over the ingredients, and especially over the portion size. Because Santa, if they give me a big cupcake, I am going to eat it. Does that make me a bad little girl?

Thanks for listening, Santa. I feel better just talking over my cookie issues with you. I think I’ll be able to take care of Christmas myself this year. And have Mrs. Santa make some of those healthy cookies for you later in the year when you are needing a little treat. After all, a whole year is a LONG time to wait for a cookie!

Love, debby

Please join in with your thoughts about cookies and sugar. I’d really like to hear what you think. But remember, be nice! After all, it is Christmas, and Santa’s elves, Grumpy and Jeevy, are watching and listening!

Be sure to check out my AIM friends for their letters to Santa. Its like getting a little glimpse at the inner workings of the mind of a long-time weight loss maintainer!

Lynn @ Lynn’s Weigh

Lori @ Finding Radiance

Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

Cammy @ The Tippy Toe Diet

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you would like us to address!