A Simple Special Dinner

Most of the time I am cooking for one. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person in the whole world who does this, so I thought I’d share how I made a special dinner for myself without breaking the calorie bank. Yes, I know its just one meal. But of course, you do end up making enough for several meals, and so for me, its just a good thing to lighten up some of my favorite foods, and also to limit the number of foods I prepare. Don’t feel bad, I did have more than my fair share of sweet treats this Christmas 🙂

So here’s the two recipes I adapted from old favorites. The first was an old recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. My copy is 40 years old! It still has a lot of great basic recipes and instructions, and I am very happy to have it. These are called Buffet Potatoes, and are kind of a simple version of potatoes au gratin. I looked at the recipe and there were a few simple obvious changes and substitutions to make, and still have a delicious side dish. I left out the butter (why do you need cheese AND butter,) and instead of half and half, I used whole milk. That made my version a very reasonable 130 calories per serving. I made a recipe that had 4 servings instead of the 8 in the original recipe.

Here’s how I did it:

I had an 8 oz block of cheese, so I just marked 1/4 of it with a knife, and then shredded that much of the block. I actually weighed out 12 oz of potatoes (I almost always use Yukon Gold because they have more natural flavor,) and I sliced 1/2 an onion as thinly as I could.

dscn4824

Assembled them in layers with salt and pepper, per the recipe.

dscn4826

Sprinkled the milk over all, and baked according to recipe, and here are my lightened up buffet potatoes. Perfect with ham!

dscn4828

I used to make jello with frozen raspberries in heavy syrup, and I used that syrup to make regular jello, and then added the raspberries, cream cheese and plenty of walnuts. For my lightened up version, I used SF raspberry jello, laughing cow lite wedges, and walnuts. I forgot to buy some fresh raspberries, so I used pears this time, which are also delicious in this combination. I have compared, and laughing cow lite has less calories that light cream cheese, and I think its delicious in this kind of preparation. When I had it all combined, I was very happy that I came up with the idea of portioning it out into serving dishes, saving me one more step when it came time to eat! Each serving has about 100 calories.

dscn4827

And here was my Christmas Eve dinner! The only thing that was missing was some kind of green vegetable. Just some broccoli or green beans would have been great.

dscn4829

 

Advertisements

Swam a Mile

img_2761

Did you wonder where the healthy lifestyle/weight loss/weight maintenance blogger went? The truth is, I think about it ALL THE TIME. I think about what I should write, about what I should tell you, about things that I’ve seen and heard, and have an opinion about. I’ve even taken notes on some podcasts, and was going to review them for you. This American Life did a Fat podcast that was excellent. I could relate to so much of what the women interviewed said. Oh, and this week I watched the beginning of a new television show “This is Us” on the recommendation of two of my blog buddies, and I couldn’t even believe how much of the inside stuff they got on the overweight character. I don’t know if I laughed or was just speechless when they showed her getting onto the scale, and then pausing to take her earrings off (I HAVE DONE THIS) and then she stepped on the scale so gingerly that she fell backwards off of it (I STILL DO THIS. well, not the falling off. at least most of the time.)

But when it comes down to it, I just don’t want to write about it anymore. The longer time goes on, the less I think I know about it, especially weight maintenance. Back in the beginning of this year, I had a little rebellion. I was just too tired of keeping track of everything I ate. What would happen if I just ate like a normal person? What would happen? I would gain weight. Yep. So then I decided that I would just track everything. I really like LoseIt, and its almost fun for me to write down my meals for the day. But I just couldn’t restrict any more. And by that, I mean, I couldn’t  restrict enough to lose weight. So I set LoseIt to 1650 calories (which they thought would allow me to lose 1/2 pound a week hahahaha.) Eating 1650 calories every day was a lot more than I’ve consciously allowed myself for a LOOOONG time. That’s been going pretty good. Occasionally I’ll think, oh, give it the old college try again–just cut back by 200 calories. And I can immediately feel the rebellion welling up inside of me. If I force the issue, I end up eating MORE than I should. I just tell you all this to say, you have to know yourself.

In the meantime, I have kept a vigorous exercise regimen going. I knew I didn’t dare cut back on that, even on the days I felt “too fat” to go to the gym. When I am home, I keep a regular routine (and you all know I love my routines) of walking the dogs early in the morning three days a week (20-30 minutes). On those days I also do my physical therapy exercises plus some core exercises (also 20-30 minutes.) And then three days a week I go to the gym. For the summer I’ve been splitting my time between the stationary bike and the pool. I like “jogging” in the pool. It feels like real exercise, and its so nice to work out hard and NOT have knee pain. Somewhere towards the middle of the summer, I started enjoying swimming more, and started swimming longer distances. I thought I might make a goal of swimming a mile again. A mile in an Olympic pool is 175 lengths, and that has taken me three hours in the past. I think its been a couple of years since I did that. Saturday morning I was talking with my brother, who was on the Swim Team in high school, and I asked him if he thought it would be better to try to swim the mile on a cooler day (73 degrees,) or wait for a warmer day. He thought it would be better on a cooler day. So that was it.

I did go ahead of time to a special bakery to get myself a treat for swimming a mile 🙂 And here is how it always goes for me. The FIRST length, I think, Oh, I can’t do this. I’ll just do my 20 minutes and do some water jogging and be done with it. Then after maybe 15 minutes I think, well maybe I can make it for two hours. I’ll do the whole mile later. As two hours approached, I kept thinking about a lot of things–Shelley running her half marathons, Olympians training and training, Lori doing her 40 mile bike rides, my special treat waiting for me, AND the fact that if I stopped now I’d have to come back and swim this ridiculous amount of time AGAIN. So I just kept going.

Related to how I like counting my calories, I also like doing the math in my head–after 15 minutes, okay, one-twelfth done. Now, just five minutes later, one-nineth done. Thirty minutes in, about one-sixth done. Okay, I won’t bore you with any more of my math calculations 🙂 I wear a little lap counter on my finger and keep track that way. This year it took me 3 hours and 10 minutes. I didn’t practice as much as I have in previous years. And, as my brother pointed out, I’m older. I’ll take it. I am going to be 62 years old in December. I’m still overweight, but I’m not the same person as I was twelve years ago. I have a lot of healthy habits, and I plan on keeping those.

img_2760

Counting

Do you all know about Charlie’s blog? I used to read him years ago when his blog was called “back to the fridge.” Then I lost track of him. THEN I heard that he was Biz’s brother! And then I found his new blog. He is an excellent writer, and more importantly, he is really funny. Recently he wrote a very detailed post about using food journaling as a weight loss tool. Read his post–he says it much better. The upshot of it was that without journaling for 8 years, his net weight loss was 10 pounds. WITH journaling for 8 years, he lost 27 pounds. That thought totally intrigued me. I’m pretty sure most people would be thinking, “27 pounds in 8 years? That’s no good.” Well, at this point in my journey, I would be THRILLED to be 27 pounds down in 8 years instead of 27 pounds up. So I dusted off my Lose It app, and started journaling my food again. Lose It makes it so much fun.

Easter is a day that I enjoy staying home and going to my own church, and having a special meal (and maybe some Easter treats.) I wanted lamb, because of watching my cooking shows. I went to the local butcher, and they were sold out of leg of lamb, so I found these lamb kabobs. Perfect for a single person! Then on to the grocery store, where they had GIANT artichokes. Yes! What do I want with my lamb and artichoke? Bread. Some good bread. I headed over to the bakery and got some pugliose bread. And I would let myself have some real butter with my artichoke and bread.

Now usually I would not track a special day of food like this. But I thought, what the heck? So I entered all the food I planned for the day, including my Peeps and chocolate, and it turned out that I was only 67 calories over the allotted amount. What?? Anyway, I did stick to eating what I had written down, and it did make me a little happier to know that I was not going completely overboard.

A note about the treats: I used to love Palmer’s chocolate bunnies. I have noticed the past few years that they did not seem to taste as good as they used to. So this year, trying to break the spell, I seriously considered NOT getting a chocolate bunny. Then I saw the Lindt bunny. I’ll try that one, even though they were way more expensive than the Palmer’s. I tried a bite of it, and I HATED it. Put it down, and sub’d some popcorn and half a pack of M&M’s. VERY satisfying. Of course, no Easter is complete without YELLOW Peeps. And look what my BF sent me–I love it so much!

DSCN3867