Favorite Food Finds

This is my favorite popcorn! Of course I like that it comes in a huge bag at Costco for almost the same price that a little bag costs at Walgreen’s. Three ingredients: popcorn, coconut oil, and sea salt. And the best is that it is 130 calories per ounce, which is a nice sized snack bowl.

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This is my favorite dark chocolate. When I first started W.W. 11(!) years ago, my sister said that I could have one of these bars for 4 points. I still think they are the best dark chocolate, but now I eat one or two little squares instead of a whole bar:)

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This is my favorite milk chocolate. Yeah, nice that it is sugar free, I guess its good that they are low carb, but I really like this milk chocolate because of its super smooth texture and excellent chocolate taste. I like to have two small squares with my bowl of popcorn.

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This is a new product at TJ’s. They have been selling the cacao nibs in small metal containers, and I really liked them. LOL, I liked them because they were 1 calorie per nib, and they had an intense chocolate flavor. Sometimes, just five nibs was all I needed.

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One more TJ’s product–fresh edamame from their produce department. I really like edamame. My former trainer used to make an edamame tofu salad that was just delicious. I made this simplified version of it, using chicken instead of the tofu. No recipe, but it has an Asian accent to it–soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, salt and pepper. And obviously corn.

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And then there’s Shelley’s Hippie Granola! Making a batch of this stuff makes me very happy. It smells absolutely delicious while it is baking, and tastes just as good when its done. I’ve been making more yogurt lately, so yesterday I made another batch of Shelley’s granola. Yumm. Yumm. Yummmmm.

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This ‘n’ That

You know how one of the first things we learned as dieters was to READ THE LABEL!? Well, that is still good advice. It helps me to make wise decisions. Recently I made myself a strawberry protein smoothie (1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 cup yogurt, etc,) and I remembered I had some spinach in the freezer. I got that out and added a handful. I love to make a frozen protein smoothie for lunch so I can drink it on the way to the gym. I am all about saving time. I took a taste of it before I left, and thought “that spinach tastes like basil.” I thought about re-doing it, and leaving the spinach out, but, being all about the saving time, I took it and left. It was okay, but I made a mental note to toss that spinach when I got home. Later that night, I remembered to get the spinach out of the freezer. There was the bag, clearly marked “basil.” Read the labels!

Follow-up to the dog food discussion.  After re-doing my stats on the cost of making my home-made dog food, I discovered that it cost quite a bit more than I had figured at first. I decided to make a visit to the local “canine cafe” to see what they knew about the raw food diet. I was pretty sure it would be way more expensive than I wanted to spend. Turns out, they had it all ground up and pre-frozen for almost the same price that it was costing me to make it myself! That will save me a couple of hours each week. But there’s a lot more hand-washing going on around here. I don’t particularly like handling all that raw chicken every day. I’m still going half and half. They get the raw food in the morning, and kibble and carrots and sometimes apples at night. It didn’t seem to have any ill effects on their digestive system…

Some foodie notes: I started listening to a quilting podcast. They include a recipe each week. I noticed this one for “Mary’s Rice Pudding of Death” and noticed that it didn’t have added fat or that much sugar in it. I did the stats, and decided it would be worth a try. SOOOO delicious, and so very worthy. I did use brown rice, because that’s what I had on hand. Mine didn’t look like the picture, but it was so very tasty. Yesterday I woke up with an urge for baked oatmeal. Only I didn’t feel like making a whole recipe. I decided to try making a single serving. It was a HUGE success, at least in my mind:) Here’s how I made it. I also simplified the ingredients from what most baked oatmeals include. Last night I made Biz’s Chicken Cilantro Won Ton Soup again. I had found the chicken cilantro pot stickers at Trader Joe’s and wanted to try them out. This is such a good bowl of soup, and those pot stickers are much better than the ones I got at the local grocery store.

Here’s the final shots of the dye studio. J. the contractor came back and put the subway tile backsplash up. I actually went out there and dyed some wool this week! Very fun. I had my first dye spill on the granite, and it cleaned up well. I do envision the granite and backsplash eventually being multi-colored. We shall see.

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Food

Since I’ve been home for a bit, I’ve gotten a little creative in the kitchen. I had broccoli and some pre-cooked bacon in the fridge, and it reminded me of that yummy broccoli salad. So I put together my own version of it, using yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and counting the calories. So yummy. I ate all four servings of it (one at a time:) ) so you know it was good. It keeps really well for several days. Here’s a link to the recipe. 

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I found a little more of that 85% dark chocolate in the pantry, and made some walnut-raisin clusters. I just weigh out each ingredient and add up the calories, and then make as many clusters as I need to end up with the right amount of calories per cluster. In this case, I ended up with 8 nice sized clusters for 100 calories each. I put it on popcorn so you could see what size they are. Since the chocolate is so intense, this is a very satisfying portion.

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I also whipped up a batch of my “Winter Fruit Salad” for the sewing ladies that came over this week. That is a really really good recipe. And of course you can vary the amount and types of fruit you include.

Butternut squash! I got a big one at the store, and I made butternut squash “fries” (baked) and had plenty left over to make some of my mac and cheese with butternut squash. There was still some left over, so tonight I am going to combine that with some onion and potato and chicken breast and MARSALA SPICE!! Yum yum yum. Thanks again to Lori for gifting me with that wonderful spice blend.

Oh, and an example of a recipe that’s not quite what it seems… I bought a package of chia/flax seed blend, and they had a recipe for one of those one minute muffins on it. It was pretty calorie dense–about 350 calories–but I decided to try it this morning. It came out so pretty that I took a picture of it.

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Then I tried it. VERY dry and not worthy. I put it in the compost pile, and had one of my cinnamon rolls. 200 calories and most worthy:)

A Foodie Report

A few weeks ago, I was enticed by Lori’s report of a crockpot enchilada recipe. I finally made those enchiladas, but I didn’t use the crockpot. Or the recipe. I just winged it. Quite yummy, but not exactly low calorie. About 200 calories per enchilada, but so far I’m eating them two at a time… I like them best with some fresh tomatoes and romaine lettuce.

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I was writing some recipe blogs for The Quilt Show, and got some good pictures for that. Here’s my take on strawberry pancakes. Perfectly legit “diet” breakfast. Only about 250 calories for these yummy protein pancakes topped with fresh strawberries, and a few mashed strawberries mixed with SF syrup.

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Here’s another take on the frozen yogurt granola bars. This time with granola, fresh peaches, frozen cherries, and a few walnuts and chocolate chips for good measure.

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The great pumpkin season has started! I made my first batch of Pumpkin Custard a couple of nights ago. At 100 calories per serving, its good for dessert, a snack, or even breakfast. And the house smells DELICIOUS  while its baking. Oh, and I also tried Diane’s recipe for baked apple slices. Totally indulgent. And you get the good house smell as well.

Tonight I made pizza. I always make it the same way. I use the Trader Joe’s whole wheat dough, measure out the toppings, and keep a running count of the calories, and then divide by the number of slices I cut. It usually comes out to about 200 calories per slice. And as I said on Helen’s blog, I had a mini-food tantrum (c. Helen) and ate two slices of pizza for dinner, skipped the salad. There were lots of veggies on that pizza:) (this one had mushrooms, onions, red bell peppers, fresh tomato slices, and basil, with fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of asiago cheese.)

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Sophie loves food too, and has to work at keeping that svelte figure. Recently she changed from eating pink flowers to snacking in the herb garden in an attempt to increase her daily greens.

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Its very fun to be creative with food! Have a great weekend–get in the kitchen and try something new!

Continuing the Conversation

After I finished the last Chit Chat post, I thought of a couple of other things I wanted to discuss. And those same topics were mentioned in some of the comments, so here goes.

Mickie mentioned portion size. Yes, portion size. That is a big issue for me. It is why I tend to eat very low fat foods. So I can have a bigger portion size. Four walnut halves is not that much fun. But a big old handful of walnuts? Yumm. Its also a lot of calories, and it doesn’t keep me satiated for very long. So 90% of the time I stick with the four walnut halves. I still have a lot of measuring cups that I use to measure out food. Its not any more work to wash measuring cups than serving spoons. And it keeps me accountable. I still put my salad in a tablespoon measure before I put it on my salad.

Anyway, I think portion size is something that can really be an important factor in whether or not your weight loss attempts are successful.

Kittie made a good comment about the decisions that she developed as she was losing weight, and then ended by saying that those are still the decisions that she uses now, saying “nothing has really changed.” I had been thinking the opposite about myself–how the foods I eat have changed over time. How I used to eat certain foods all the time while I was successfully losing weight, and now I just avoid those foods. There are lots of them, but the two main ones I was thinking about were Luna Bars and Cool Whip Lite. I had Cool Whip Lite with EVERYTHING. And Luna Bars became a “healthy” substitute for the brownies that I made and consumed very frequently. So the Cool Whip Lite. Well, its just not a healthy choice, right? I mean I don’t think it even has any real food ingredients in it. It sure was tasty, though:) And the Luna Bars, I started thinking about them because I was looking for a substitute for my Quest Bars, and I bought a couple of them. They don’t really have a good nutritional profile either. Only 8 grams of protein for 180 calories, and too much sugar. Not a whole lot different than a candy bar.

So since I started losing weight, I have made various changes to my diet. I embraced the low fat high fiber diet that was encouraged by Weight Watchers. Then I moved away from “diet” foods, and more towards a whole food diet, especially when I started working with Vickie, my personal trainer. In the last couple of years, in an attempt to lose some weight, I have added back a few processed sugar free foods, like SF pancake syrup, and SF chocolate pudding, and some protein powders, and of course, my Quest Bars.

And that is my final topic: Quest Bars. PJ mentioned that they were like crack to her. I have thought about this. Because I REALLY liked Quest Bars. Were they crack for me? Did I need to eliminate them? I pretty much had them every day, and I looked forward to it. But I never wanted a second one, like I do with cookies or candy. One was always satisfying, and it really did keep me full for a long while (because of the 20 grams of protein.) So I used them as a mini-meal substitute. Did you notice I was talking in the past tense?

I ordered my Quest bars directly from the company, because it was the best deal, and I felt like I got the freshest bars that way. A couple of months ago the order came and after I had had a couple of different bars, I thought, either my taste has changed, or the Quest bars have changed. I sent a note to the company, asking if they had changed their recipe. Sure enough, I got a nice reply, stating the changes they had made, and the reasons for those changes. Well, I wrote back, telling her why they weren’t as tasty to me. And she wrote back, saying they were still working out their new formula, and offered to replace the entire order for free! Amazing customer service. The new bars she sent were better, but still not like the old ones to me. I think it might be because they changed to truvia (not sure about this) and I don’t particularly care for truvia. Either which way, I decided to write to tell her about my thoughts, and that I would not be ordering any more bars for a while. And she offered to refund my money, which I did not take, because I was still eating the bars. THEN, just last week, I got a note saying that she was sending me a couple of bars of their newest flavor, Pumpkin Pie, free of charge. Honestly, that is the best customer service I have received in a long time.

But sadly, it leaves me without my Quest bars. I will probably be trying out some homemade protein bar recipes. Or maybe I’ll substitute some real food:)

Good Clean Fun

I don’t seem to have much to post these days, but I thought I’d share life in general, and a few fun things (food:) ) that I have enjoyed in the past few weeks.

Those 9 pounds I gained on vacation? Six pounds came off quickly. I’m still working on the last three.

I didn’t mention it, but the steroid shot I got for my knee only lasted a month. It was a very sad day when it stopped working. For a while it seemed like things were worse than ever, but that seems to have leveled out. The brace still helps on short walks and especially when I am working in the yard, so I am grateful for that. Next doctor’s appointment is in less than a month. We’ll see what they say.

No more three mile walks for me. Right now I’m not even walking Noah every day. Its hot, so he doesn’t seem to mind. He spends 95% of his day lounging. The other 5% he is racing around like a mad man to bark at the “marauding neighbors.” He’s still getting his allotment of aerobic exercise:)

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For me, I have embraced the gym! I really enjoy going down for my (at least) 20 minutes on the bike and (at least) 20 minutes jogging in the pool. I swim occasionally, but I am enjoying the jogging so much, and I do not like getting water in my face, so swimming has taken a back seat for now.

Yesterday I went to the lawyer’s to finalize the trust on my estate. I was very reluctant to do this. The wording on my dad’s trust was very misleading, and it seemed like if I made a trust, nothing would belong to me anymore. I know that’s not true. It just seemed like that to me. But in general it makes life much easier for the folks that are left after you die, so I do recommend it to anyone who is thinking about that. The lawyer I went to specializes in estate planning, and I was surprised that she could make a personalized trust so easily with just a little bit of information from me (where I wanted stuff to go.) Now on to the burial plot!! LOL.

Its been hot hot hot here. It still cools down in the early morning, so I get up (early) and open all the windows for a couple of hours. I try to get out in the morning to water the plants, and sometimes do a bit of watering or weeding in the evening. Tomorrow MLG comes to put in the patchwork path, so I need to get out there and decide how/where I want the stones to go. I foresee some sweat in my near future😦

Here’s a couple of fun food items. I found the 85% chocolate in the bins again. I made a mix of: 4 oz melted chocolate, 2 oz dried cherries, 2 oz dried apricots, 2 oz raisins, and 4 oz walnuts. That came out to about 2000 calories, so I divided it into 20 clumps and made my own healthier chocolate candy treats. The 85% chocolate makes it so I am not tempted to eat more than one of these at a time.

Not a great picture, but I wanted to show it in my hand for size comparison.

Not a great picture, but I wanted to show it in my hand for size comparison.

I made myself some protein pancakes the other day, and used my smashed strawberries and some laughing cow lite as a topping. Yummy.

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And last but not least, I found these little lovelies at Trader Joe’s. The tin actually says there is one calorie per piece. I usually only grab 3 or 4 pieces at a time–they have an intense chocolate flavor and a little crunch to them. The other day I wanted to have some chocolate with my cherries for dessert, so I counted out 50 of them. VERY satisfying.

Put my finger in there for size comparison.

Put my finger in there for size comparison.

Every day when I go into the studio, the little girls fight over this square of sunlight coming in through the front door.

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And that’s about it for news around here. Hope your week is going well, and you are staying cool (or warm, depending on how the weather is near you!)

A Recipe Recommendation and a New Food!

I save hundreds of recipes from the internet. I rarely try any of them. The other day I was scrolling through all my old bookmarks and came across this recipe for Banana Split Bars. And it wasn’t even in my recipes folder! I checked it out, and the stats sounded good to me. I liked the list of ingredients–no wheat or sugar–and even better was that I had all the ingredients in the house. I can’t remember if I ever made these before. But they are most certainly worthy! I followed the recipe exactly, and baked them for 30 minutes. They were soft-set, which I like.  I cut them into 12 bars (because, you know, I am a volume eater.) This made them about 190 calories each. They are delicious as a breakfast treat, or for a nice dessert.

The new (to me) food is Edamame spaghetti. I saw the box on my way out of Costco, checked the stats, and was astounded. Ingredients list: organic edamame and water.  Same calories as a regular serving of pasta (200 cal) but 24 GRAMS OF PROTEIN and 11 grams of fiber per serving!! I really like edamame, so I decided to try this. So far I’ve only tried them with a bit of garlic and olive oil, but they were very good. I liked the texture (much better than whole wheat pasta.) As far as taste…they were pretty neutral, just like I think normal pasta is. There was definitely no “weird” taste. I have all the ingredients for my Darn Good Spaghetti Sauce, and I am going to make that for dinner tomorrow.