Sweet Stuff

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You’ve heard me talk about the Nutrition Action Healthletter before. Every month they have some very tasty looking recipes included, and last month the recipes were for desserts. Well, you know I kept that issue. This week the opportunity to try out a couple of the recipes came around. I am having a couple of ladies over (on two separate days!) and the recipe for Apple Almond Custard Cake sounded just right for dessert after a salad lunch. The recipe called for four apples, sliced thin (Lori, I was really wishing I had your spiralizer this morning,) and also included almond meal (and remember, I have that cashew meal in my cupboard.)

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The second recipe on the same page was calling to me. And I remembered that I had bought some 80% chocolate in “the bins” at a Sprouts grocery. I was disappointed when I tasted it–too bitter for me, but I thought that using it to make these Chocolate, Fruit, and Nut clusters might be just the thing to sweeten it up a bit.

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These are really tasty, and one is a nice sized dessert treat for 140 calories. Oh, and here’s a tip on substitutions–I made half the recipe with 4 1/2 ounces of chocolate, and then deduced that for half the recipe you can use 1 cup of nuts of your choice, and 1 1/2 cups of dried unsweetened fruit of your choice. I used walnuts, raisins, and apricots.

Well, how about that. Since these are not my recipes, I found a link to a PDF page from the magazine with both recipes included for you!

And Speaking of Blips…

A nice new reader kindly informed me that she would like to read my archives, but she was wondering how to get the pictures to show up.

Gulp.

I made a big goof. I’m so sad about it. My “media storage” was getting full (well, I do put a lot of pictures on my blog.) About a year ago the same thing happened, and I simply deleted some of the first photos from my media storage. I thought that at the time I had checked, and the pictures still remained on the blog, they just weren’t in my media library. But that is not what happened. And this time I was quite gung-ho, and I deleted all the photos in my media library between February and November 2014. And sure enough, ALL of those pictures are gone from my blog posts! So I am very sorry if any of you are reading older posts and the pictures are missing. I hope to be able to re-build those posts, but that will take a lot of time. In the meantime, I figured out how to buy more storage for not much money, so I won’t have that problem again for a long time.

And so now I’ll share some more pictures from the week with you!

I found a small, but very sturdy round table at a local antique shop for my dining room! Its just the size I wanted. And, there was a set of 6 chairs to go with it! The table is really only big enough for four chairs, but it is nice to have extra chairs now, instead of scrambling when my sewing ladies come over.

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The chairs are so delicate. I love their cane seats.
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I really like the wood grain of the table. DSCN2470

And I like the foot of it too. Its sturdy, but more delicate than most of the tables I’ve seen like this.DSCN2472

Here is an idea I had last summer. I chose several of my best close-up photos of my flowers and had them enlarged to 8X10’s via Snapfish. One of my friends bought this neat frame for me for my birthday–we found it at Home Goods. I love how it looks.

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Regarding my previous blip, I have gone back to the gym. One day I got in a good bicycling session and worked out on the weights, and today I did the bike and got in the pool! And sure enough, it did make me feel better about myself.  I’m back to logging my food and making good choices. I made some of Shelley’s granola, so I can have it with my greek yogurt, and yesterday I made my low-cal version of my favorite beef stew. Did you know you could “healthily” almost any recipe just by adding more vegetables to it, using lean cuts of meat, and decreasing the amount of fat you use? Well, don’t bother correcting me. I know that that is my version of healthifying something–decreasing the fat and calories in a dish. You can do it however you want. I just like to have a bigger volume of food to eat. Maybe someday I will change. Fat chance. Haha. I crack myself up.

I’ll leave you with a picture of Bess completely enjoying herself. She is giving Pixie a run for her money as the queen of relaxation. The little guys love that I’ve moved their doggie beds over next to the wood stove.

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A Blip.

Well, when last I wrote, I was climbing back on the diet bandwagon (removing sugar/ logging calories, upping exercise…) And then last week happened. I don’t know what really happened.

I could blame it on my mascara. My eyes are really sensitive, and so I always use Almay mascara (hypo-allergenic.) This time when I went to get a new tube, they didn’t have the same one I always buy. No biggie, its all Almay, right? Well, my eyes didn’t like the different mascara. And then they get itchy and sore, and I can’t stop rubbing them, and pretty soon, I just feel rotten.

I could blame it on a burst of creative energy. After taking an “artist’s holiday” during the holidays, I got right back into working with more ideas than ever. I’ve been finishing projects and starting new ones. I want to work on them all all the time.

So whatever it was, I didn’t want to go to the gym. I even got as far as getting dressed and going to town several days, and I still didn’t go to the gym. I usually came home and took a half-hearted walk with Noah.

And I wanted to eat MORE. So I ate more. More of my healthy food, and more of my not-so healthy choices.

When this happens, I can start to panic. Is this the beginning of the end??? Then I review all the years past. Times when I over-ate, or didn’t exercise for a week, or didn’t log my food. And I’m still here, plugging along. Its a concern, but its not reason to panic.

I just thought I’d keep it real, and let you know I have days and weeks like this.

A Tale of Two Muffins

Yesterday I tried a new recipe that had caught my interest. A while ago, I bought a bag of cashew meal at Trader Joe’s. This recipe was a “paleo” recipe ( for Paleo Pumpkin and Carrot Muffins,) so it called for almond flour as its main ingredient. I knew I could substitute the cashew meal. I ran them through the recipe calculator, and they came out to 260 calories each (I made 6 large muffins.) A bit higher than I like for my breakfast, but not out of range. The weird thing was, they were “paleo” but they only had 7 grams of protein, and 33 grams of carbs! Fats were 13 grams and fiber came in at 3.5 grams.

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It was a moist, tasty muffin.

But then I thought about my recipe for “Very Light Banana Muffins.” Honestly, I like it better. I knew they were 135 calories each. But I didn’t know the stats, so I ran that recipe through the recipe calculator–they have 7.8 grams of protein and only 18 grams of carbs. Fats are 4 grams, and there are 2.4 grams of fiber.

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This kind of thing is just interesting to me. I know other people would prefer the first muffin, probably because of the higher fat content. But over the years, my tastes have changed, at least a little bit. And as I learned so long ago at Weight Watchers, even the little changes make a difference.

A Tale of Two Salads

There’s a little cafe in town where my friend and I enjoy having lunch. But honestly, I’m not sure I’ve tried more than one thing on the menu. I love this one particular salad so much that I order it every time we go there. One day it occurred to me that I could probably make this salad at home.

So as usual, I wrote down what was in it, and ran it through the recipe analyzer. Even using conservative amounts of the ingredients, it is about 400 calories per serving. Its so delicious that it is worth it for a special treat once in a while. And honestly, my at home version is probably half the calories of the restaurant version. The key ingredients are: chopped dates, apples, bacon crumbles, pecans, and blue cheese on baby greens with poppyseed dressing.

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I actually made this salad for Christmas dinner!

The day after Christmas I made plans to get back on the straight and narrow. This included making some of my favorite very low calorie foods to have on hand. So I took my leftover turkey pieces out of the freezer, and I made another batch of my low cal apple cranberry sauce. For my New Year’s dinner, I made one of my favorite salads. Its actually the basic ingredients of a turkey sandwich, just without the bread and served on a bed of lettuce–2 ounces of turkey, 1/4 cup apple cranberry sauce, 1 wedge of laughing cow lite cheese, and 1/4 avocado. There’s no need for salad dressing, as the cranberry sauce serves that purpose. This salad comes in at about 225 calories, and it is a completely satisfying dinner for me.

DSCN2437The great thing about salads is that you can dress them up or dress them down, depending on how hungry you are or how many calories you have left for the day. If you need more protein, throw some precooked chopped chicken or salad shrimp into them. If you just need something hot and comforting on a winter night, throw a potato in the oven. I like to put a little spray butter and some cottage cheese on my baked potato.

Do you eat salads in winter, or do you prefer to wait until spring to get your salad action going?

 

And They’re Off!

Well, its that special time of year again. That time when hopeful Americans are off to the gym or the pool or the trails or the bikes. Whatever their hopeful choice of exercise–they’re there. It makes it very inconvenient for me at the gym for a week or two :)

Even I am not immune from this exercise boost. I didn’t really slow down in my exercise, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, but I did play a little fast and loose with the sweets, starting at Thanksgiving, and going straight on through my birthday season and ending at Christmas. I found, once again, that I cannot have sugar on a regular basis. It always leaves me wanting more, even though I don’t feel as good when I am eating it. So the day after Christmas, all the leftover goodies were either given away, thrown away, or put safely in the freezer.

Since then I have been (relatively) sugar free. Three days after Christmas I weighed the same thing I did before Thanksgiving, so I kinda think I didn’t actually gain any weight during that extended time of indulgence. But, my weight is still at the higher end of where I like to stay, so I am being very mindful of my food choices throughout the day. I started using Loseit to log my food again. I think its the most user-friendly site–its actually fun to log my food on it.

I also went to the grocery store and loaded up on vegetables. That wasn’t even my original intention when I went to the store. Its just what I naturally gravitate to when I want to eat healthier and lose a little weight. I made this Vegetable Tian that Lori talked about. Oh my goodness, this is so yummy. A little higher in calories than just plain vegetables, but you can have a nice sized serving for 140 calories. Isn’t it pretty?

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And I have been mindful of getting in a good amount of exercise each day, whether at home or at the gym. I don’t exercise to lose weight (although I think that wishful thinking is always there.) I exercise to keep my metabolism working, and to remind me what is important to me (living a healthy life,) and honestly, I exercise to feel good. For just a little bit after each exercise session, everything seems to work a little better :)

Mr. Monk has a hard time exercising nowadays. A friend of my mom’s gave this doggie stroller to her, and she passed it on to me–we took it out for a spin yesterday.

 

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