Thursday, December 22, 2011

How To Make That Sausage Potato Soup know, that one from the Italian Restaurant chain that you love? I've tried a few different recipes and have sort of combined them to make this version. When we made it last night, I used Food & Wine's version as a guide for how much potato and kale to use, but my version is actually a bit different and includes bacon and cream (which I learned from a different recipe that I can no longer find). Anyhow, I cut Food & Wine's recipe in half to make 2 servings for dinner last night. It turned out to be 3 servings, and I had a nice, hearty lunch leftover for today! Calorie count is based on using real (full fat) whipping cream, which is what I had on hand and figured since it's only a little bit, it's no big deal. I have made this with fat free half and half with excellent results, there will be -18 Cal and -2.6 g fat per serving if you make this substitution.

Kale and Potato Soup with Turkey Sausage (SERVINGS: 3)
328 Cal; 14.4g fat (4.5g sat, 2.6g mono, 1.4g poly); 32.6g carbs; 4.9g fiber; 19.7g protein

1 teaspoon canola oil
2 links turkey sausage, casings removed (I used Jennie-O Hot Turkey Sausage)
½ medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 cups water
1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth
¾ pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
Dried red-pepper flakes, to taste
½ pound kale, stems removed, leaves shredded
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled into pieces

1. In a soup pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and onion and cook until the sausage is browned and all liquid has evaporated, about 8-10 minutes.
2. Add the garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer.
3. Add the water and broth and bring the soup to a boil. Add the potatoes and red-pepper flakes and bring back to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, for 2 minutes. Add the kale and bring the soup back to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the potatoes and kale are tender, about 6-8 minutes longer.
4. Add the black pepper, bacon crumbles and cream and remove from heat. Stir to combine and serve.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry

In an effort to not gain every last pound that I lost before my calf started twitching, we are trying to eat healthy, low-cal dinners again. I am also trying to keep my evening carb-count to a minimum, since I'm not so active after dinner these days (this stupid cold is hindering my activity level even more than my calf twitching). Enter this recipe! Ryan made some rice to go along with his dinner, but I found the extra broccoli really filled me up! This was quick and easy and we have most of the sauce ingredients on hand, so this would work really well with whatever veggie is still in the fridge and whatever protein you want (shrimp & green beans, perhaps?). Original (4-serving) recipe was from Here's my "healthified" version for two servings:

Chicken and Broccoli Stir-fry
SERVES 2; Calories: 294; Total Fat 13.7 grams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Protein: 27 grams; Total carbohydrates: 18 grams; Fiber 4 grams; Cholesterol: 61 milligrams; Sodium: 865 milligrams

Game Plan: Marinate the chicken while you prepare the rest of the ingredients
1/2 pound chicken breast (about 1 breast), cubed
2 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle, whites and greens separate
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons Stevia-In-The-Raw
1-1/2 teaspoons, plus 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dry sherry
1-1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
About 8 teaspoons water
1 tablespoon canola oil
3-4 cups broccoli (2 heads), trimmed sliced stalks and medium florets (keep the 2 cuts separate)
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1-1/2 teaspoons hoisin sauce

In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the scallion whites, about half the garlic and ginger, the soy sauce, Stevia, 1/2 teaspoon of the cornstarch, half of the salt, the sherry, and the sesame oil. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Mix the remaining cornstarch with the water.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the oil and heat. Add the broccoli stems, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the florets and the remaining garlic, ginger, 1 tablespoon of water, and season with the rest of the salt and pepper. Stir-fry until the broccoli is bright green but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Get the skillet good and hot again, and then heat 2 more teaspoons oil. Add the chicken and chili flakes. Stir-fry until the chicken loses its raw color and gets a little brown, about 2 minutes. Add the hoisin sauce, return the broccoli to the pan and toss to heat through. Stir in the reserved cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil to thicken. Add more water if need to thin the sauce, if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, if you like. Divide among 2 plates and garnish with the rest of the sliced green onion greens.

Friday, December 09, 2011

My Default Oatmeal Cookie Recipe

We made cookies! Yes, again. Is is December afterall, and that huge bag of Reese's Miniature Cups we bought after Halloween is officially gone. One of our go-to cookie recipes is Oatmeal cookies. 1-because they're the boy's fave and 2-because we almost always have all the ingredients on hand. Most cookie recipes contain the same basic ingredients anyhow. I start with the recipe on the lid or box of Quaker Oats, cut the recipe in half, and make a few alterations in order to make them a little healthier (mostly so that I don't feel as bad when we want to add toffee or chocolate chips to the mix haha). I use Stevia-In-The-Raw in place of the granulated sugar and I replace half of the butter for applesauce for a lower fat cookie (also adding in 1/4 tsp baking powder per 1/4 cup applesauce is supposed to help when baking things). Then I use my trusty Conventional Toaster Oven and only bake as many as we plan to eat - that way, they're always fresh and hot out of the oven YUM! The rest go into the fridge for tomorrow. Sadly, this batch actually used up all the cinnamon we had on hand (probably all of those Snickerdoodles we made last month teehee), and I'm getting awfuly low on brown sugar and white flour now... but this batch should last us through the weekend, at least! Here's my version (we use things other than raisins in ours):

Vanishing Oatmeal (Raisin) Cookies (72 Cal & 2.5 g fat per cookie, not including *)

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup Stevia-In-The-Raw
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
*1/2 cup toffee bits, chocolate chips, raisins, craisins, etc.

Heat oven to 350°F.
In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars (and applesauce and baking powder) until creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla; beat well.
Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.
Add oats and raisins; mix well.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown.
Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

One Pot Curry Shrimp Dinner

I don't know about any of you, but I am still working on getting leftover staples from Thanksgiving out of my pantry and fridge! We still have way too many potatoes, onions, celery, and carrots. The turkey's all gone, but I have a freezer full of containers of the turkey stock I made Thanksgiving night after everyone had gone. So when we decided to make shrimp for dinner last night, I wanted to find a recipe that used a bunch of the stuff we had on hand! This was perfect for just that, and it only dirtied 1 skillet to boot! Here's my 2-serving version, adapted from My Recipes/Oxmoor House:

Curried Rice with Shrimp
(585 Cal per serving; 2 servings total)

1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1-1/2 cups broth/stock (we used turkey stock but any will do)
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 teaspoon curry powder (we used Spicy Curry Powder)
1/2 cup long-grain brown rice (Brown Basmati rice)
Kosher salt and pepper
10 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon dried basil (fresh is better but all my Basil has gone too seed now)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion, carrots, and potatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, 6 to 8 minutes. If vegetables begin to stick, add a little slosh of broth to skillet.
2. Add garlic and curry powder; cook, stirring until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add rice, broth, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 35 minutes.
3. Add shrimp; stir, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are opaque and rice is tender, another 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Enchiladas Done Light

Gobble Gobble! As Turkey Day nears, we at home have been trying to eat a variety of different foods this week. On Monday, we made Five Spice Scallops with Anchovy & Garlic Asparagus on the side. I think the scallop recipe is technically meant to be used as an appetizer and not a main dish, so we basically each had 2 of what they refer to as a "serving" in the recipe (we cut both of the total recipes in half to come up with 2 servings total). Nice and easy recipes for a quick week-night meal and definitely not anything we plan on eating for Thanksgiving. And the whole meal was only 215 calories (= cookies for dessert, yesssss!)

For last night's dinner, Ryan wanted enchiladas. We've made this recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny a couple of times now and it's a big hit! It's hard to believe each enchilada is only 160 calories, but it's true! And the sauce is the perfect flavor and so easy - no more canned sauce for us! Now if only I could find tomato sauce in something other than a can, I've been hearing little birdies talk about how the acid in the tomatoes breaks down the tin, releasing BPAs in the process... yuck! I even just read that BPA levels tested on humans right after eating a can of soup spiked by over 1000%! Yikes! Moral: avoid canned stuff. Guess I'll need to make my own tomato sauce now! Here's the recipe. Try these soon! You'll want them in your meal-rotation, I promise! If you don't have any leftover chicken, we usually poach ours in chicken stock for about 17 minutes (add chicken to a saucepan and cover with chicken stock or water or a combo of both and let it simmer away for 17 minutes). Top these off with some diced up fresh tomatoes, extra cilantro, avocado slices, and a dollop of fat-free plain greek yogurt - YUM!

Skinny Chicken Enchiladas (159.5 calories per enchilada)

For the sauce:
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can diced green chilis (we use Hot Fire-Roasted Green Chilis)
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. southwest chipotle seasoning (Mrs. Dash)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth
Salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the chicken:
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. southwest chipotle seasoning (Mrs. Dash)
8 tsp. chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato sauce
4 (6-inch) reduced carb whole wheat flour tortillas
1/2 cup shredded low-fat Mexican cheese
Nonstick cooking spray

In a medium saucepan, spray oil and saute garlic for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add green chilis, chipotle seasoning, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions and garlic on low until soft, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, salt, cilantro, cumin, oregano, chipotle seasoning, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cook 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Spray a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Put 1/3 cup chicken mixture into each tortilla and roll it. Place in baking dish seam side down. Top with sauce and cheese. Cover with foil and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 20-25 minutes. Top with extra cilantro if desired and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Anti-Vampire Soup

When I first took my job up in Santa Rosa, my first few thoughts were:
1. Where exactly is Santa Rosa in relation to the East Bay?
2. Isn't that where Guy Fieri lives?
The answers are:
1. Up above the North Bay
2. Yep!

After realizing that, I was just waiting for the opportunity to check out his restaurant, Johnny Garlic's, in Santa Rosa. As it turns out, the Windsor restaurant is closer, and my boyfriend took me there for lunch on my birthday back in April. I of course had to try the Roasted Garlic soup with my lunch, and was far from disappointed. The soup simply oozes garlic and I could have eaten another bowl or two instead of whatever it was I ended up eating for lunch. The soup was the clear winner of that meal!
I found the recipe on Food Network and we've made it a few times since. The biggest advice I have to make this a quick cooking weeknight meal is to roast the garlic the night before and pop it in the fridge. Then the rest of the soup comes together in around 30 minutes. Here's our version, adapted from
the original on Food Network:

Roasted Garlic Soup (4 servings; 356 calories per serving)

6 large whole heads garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, divided
6 tablespoons Smart Balance Light spread
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups 99% fat free chicken stock
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 cup fat free half & half

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut the tops off the garlic heads just to expose the bulbs and remove any excess papery skins. Place in a large sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Close the foil around them, leaving a space between the tops and the foil, and place on a baking sheet in the oven. Roast until soft and fragrant, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove, cool, and squeeze out the garlic into a bowl.
In a large, heavy soup pot (preferably enameled cast iron) over medium-high heat, melt the Smart Balance, add the roasted garlic, and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the flour and cook until a dark golden roux is achieved, an additional 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 cup chicken stock, incorporate, and repeat until all the chicken stock had been added. Repeat with the water. Add the Italian seasoning, remaining salt and pepper, and stir to combine well. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add in the half & half and cook for 10 minutes more at a very low simmer, stirring occasionally.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Clam Chowder, without the nasty side effects

This is a pretty delayed post, since I actually made the Clam Chowder on Monday. I have been putting off making Clam Chowder myself for so long because I just love eating it in a bread bowl by the SF Bay or Ocean when I make it over the bridge. However, my slight lactose intolerance sometimes makes it a less than enjoyable experience an hour or so after scarfing down a huge bowl of the stuff. That said, I decided to try a lightened up version with lactose free milk in place of the cream/half and half/milk option. I went the easy route, and also decided to try a recipe that used canned clams instead of fresh clams, mostly because I've never bought or prepared whole fresh clams myslef (yet). I found this version in my email inbox recently and decided to give it a go. I tend to err on the safe side and only make a small batch of new recipes so I don't have leftovers to throw away when it comes out a horrible mess (which has only happened a few times really). This recipe would have been lovely to have as lunch all week, so next time I will make the whole batch. Since we ate it as a meal in itself, 1 serving is really 2 servings. I cut the recipe in thirds and we ended up with 2 dinner sized servings and 1 lunch sized serving, if that helps put it in perspective. Anyhow, here is my 4-serving adaptation of the recipe I received from Cooking Light:

Simple Clam Chowder; 4 servings (approx 1 cup each):

1 bacon slice
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
Pinch of salt (I used Lawry's Seasoned Salt)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (6 1/2-ounce) cans chopped clams, undrained
1/3 pound diced peeled baking potato (I used one Organic Yukon Gold potato)
1-1/2 bottles clam juice (approx 12 oz)
1 bay leaf
1 cup 2% Lactose Free milk
8 teaspoons whole wheat flour
Cracked black pepper, to taste

Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving the drippings in pan. Crumble bacon; set aside.
Add onion, celery, salt, thyme, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Drain clams, reserving liquid. Add clam liquid, potato, clam juice, and bay leaf to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Discard bay leaf.
Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until smooth (or shake vigorously in an old jar or yogurt container like I did - works much faster than using a whisk!). Add flour mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 12 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add clams; cook 2 minutes. Sprinkle with bacon and cracked black pepper.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Unhealthy Snickerdoodles = Happy Me

Halloween is officially over and apparently so is fall on the East Coast. It's still mostly Summer over here in the NorCal area... I actually broke a sweat on my lunchtime walk around the block yesterday! 76 degrees in Santa Rosa. Gotta love Cali! I recently started following How Sweet It Is, a blog which I prolly should have stayed far, far away from. Why? Because I discovered these in my email a few weeks ago and promptly printed out the recipe. In an effort to not royally screw up the goodness that is a Snickerdoodle in any way, shape, or form, the only change I made was to use 1/2 real sugar and 1/2 Stevia In The Raw. You'd never even know it. I was hesitant to do the apple sauce substitution since there is only one egg, but it does take a whole stick of butter too. Maybe next time I'll replace half the butter with apple sauce and see how it goes. Here's my version of the recipe (note that I intentionally did not figure out the nutritional value of each cookie. It's better this way, I promise):

Snicker-Chip-Doodle Cookies

makes approx 20 cookies

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Stevia-in-the-Raw
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee chips
2 Tbsp sugar + 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for dipping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well until combined, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix until dough comes together. Add in milk. If dough is still crumbly, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together (I did not need to add more milk). Fold in chocolate and toffee. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Remove dough from fridge and roll into big 1 1/2 inch balls. Dip in cinnamon sugar mixture and place on baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Goodbye, Farmer's Market

The last Farmer's Market in my town was on Tuesday night and I'm a little torn up over it! It has basically ruined grocery store produce for me, not to mention how nice it was to meet up with my boyfriend and good friend after work for a little stroll around downtown. *Sigh* In an effort to use up the veggies we bought from last week's market, I decided on a Tofu Stir Fry for dinner on Tuesday night. My boyfriend has been working graveyard shift all week, so it was nice to sneak in a tofu dish instead of meat or seafood. He likes tofu okay, but I try to limit the meatless meals to once a week, and those don't usually have tofu either. I had a bunch of green beans and a half head of green cabbage left-over from last week's Green Bean Carbonara and Salt & Pepper Shrimp dinners. Here's the recipe, adapted from

Szechuan Tofu & Green Bean Stir-Fry (~4 servings)

1/2 cup water, divided
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
1 14-ounce package light tofu, drained
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 cups green beans, trimmed and cut in half
1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1.Whisk 1/4 cup water, soy sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, crushed red pepper to taste and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside. Cut tofu into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes and pat dry. Toss the tofu in a bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch to coat.
2.Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and spread out across the surface of the pan. Let cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Gently turn and stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crispy, 3-4 minutes more. Transfer to a plate.
3.Reduce heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add green beans, cabbage, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1/4 cup water, cover and cook until the beans are crisp-tender and the cabbage is wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir the reserved soy sauce mixture and pour it over the green beans. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute more.

Nutrition (Eating Well's version - my version has a little bit of extra veggies and less sugar but I didn't recalculate the nutrition)
Per serving: 218 calories; 11 g fat ( 1 g sat , 6 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrates; 2 g added sugars; 12 g protein; 5 g fiber; 672 mg sodium; 364 mg potassium.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mushrooms + Soup = Swoon

Even though it has been in the 90s up here in NorCal for the past week, I decided to make Mushroom Soup on Wednesday night for dinner. We had a potluck at work that day for lunch, and I totally overdid it on the indulgent eating... no regrets! Alas, by dinner-time, I wasn't starving. Instead of making the planned carb & fat-laden Green Bean Carbornara for dinner (pushed to Fri night dinner), I burned a few extra calories by finely chopping up about 1-3/4 lbs of mushrooms. Thankfully, that was the hardest part of the meal! Threw them in a pot with some stock and garlic for 10 mins, blend it all up, add a little creme freche and coriander and viola - soup! Or Veloute, I guess, if you're feeling fancy. Here's my (not so different) version of the recipe from Food & Wine:

Recipe: Two-Mushroom Velouté

1 1/4 pounds cremini mushrooms (1 pound finely chopped, 1/4 pound thinly sliced)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
Chopped chives, for garnish

1.In a bowl, toss the chopped cremini mushrooms with the lemon juice. In a large saucepan, combine the chicken stock with the chopped cremini and shiitake mushrooms and the garlic and bring to a boil; simmer over moderately low heat until the mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes.

2.Meanwhile, in a medium nonstick skillet, heat the oil. Add the sliced cremini mushrooms and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden brown and tender, about 4 minutes.

3.Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth (very small batches so you don't burn yourself - I did approx 4-5 batches); return to the saucepan and whisk in the crème fraîche. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add the coriander and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with the sautéed mushrooms and chives and serve.

One Serving: 137 cal, 7.5 gm fat, 3.0 gm sat fat, 10 gm carb, 0 gm fiber, 7 gm protein.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


I found this over at Not Rachael Ray

A is for Apple: What is your favorite variety?
My fave apple has to be the Pink Lady. Yummmm.

B is for Bread: Regardless of nutrition, what is your favorite type?
Undoubtedly garlic bread, but sourdough comes in second. Garlic Sourdough rocks my world.

C is for Cereal: What is your favorite kind currently?
I don't really eat cereal, but if I wasn't worried about my figure, I'd say Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

D is for Donuts: What kind do you fancy?
Maple bar and/or glazed old fashioned.

E is for Eggs: How do you like yours prepared?
Over medium. The whites or else I can't eat them. But runny yolks are key.

F is for Fat-Free: What is your favorite fat-free product?
Non-fat plain greek yogurt. Eat it for brekkie every work day!

G is for Groceries: Where do you purchase yours?
Safeway and Trader Joe's. But we buy all our fruit and veggies from the local Farmer's Market once a week.

H is for Hot Beverages: What is your favorite hot drink?
Starbuck's Soy Pumpkin Spice Latte. Even though it has the same amount of calories as my lunch (I didn't gain those 20 lbs I'm now trying to lose from nothing, ha!).

I is for Ice Cream: Pick your favorite flavor and add a fun topping.
Bailey's Irish Cream Ice Cream, duh! Needs no topping, but maybe brownie crumbles would be delightful.

J is for Jams or Jellies: Do you eat them? If so, what kind and flavor?
Yeah, not so much.

K is for Kashi: Name your favorite Kashi product?
I don't really eat much Kashi. I'm trying to stay away from most packaged foods, and although I have looked at their frozen food offerings, most/all cntain bell peppers :(

L is for Lunch: What was yours today?
It will be leftover Creamy Mashed Cauliflower with chives and green onions plus 1/2 cup black beans, for protein. And a pluot for dessert.

M is for microwave: What is your favorite microwave meal/snack?

N is for nutrients: Do you likes carbs, fats, or proteins best?
I'm a carb gal, myself. Bread and pasta, all the way! Even if these days it's the whole wheat variety.

O is for oil: What kind do you like to use?
We use canola mostly, but for meals that don't require high-heat stove setting, EVOO or Grapeseed oil.

P is for protein: How do you get yours?
Greek yogurt and cheese are in most of my daily proteins. We rotate our dinners and have shrimp or scallops and salmon once a week, chicken once or twice a week, tofu once a week, and pork or beef once a week.

Q is for Quaker: How do you like your oats?
Steel cut and slow cooked. With cinnamon and brown sugar.

R is for roasting: What is your favorite thing to roast?
GARLIC. I could eat it straight out of the oven! Broccoli comes in a close second.

S is for sandwich: What’s your favorite kind?
Mortadella, provolone, and avocado on an onion roll with mustard, lettuce, tomato, dill pickles, and extra extra extra red onions.

T is for travel: How do you handle eating while traveling?
I use travel as an excuse to indulge on new and delicious foods!

U is for unique: What is one of your weirdest food combos?
I have no answer for this...

V is for vitamins: What kind do you take?
Multi-vitamins, a few times a week since I almost always forget.

W is for wasabi: Yay or nay?
Yay! We made a new salmon recipe recently that called for prepared horseradish and wasabi. It was soooo good! Also, I heart sushi.

X is XRAY: If we xrayed your belly right now, what food would we see?
Coffee only right now, but I'm about to dig in to my brekkie: non-fat plain greek yogurt with 1 packet of Truvia, 2 oz blueberries, and 1.5 oz strawberries.

Y is for youth: What food reminds you of your childhood?
Cap'n Crunch and Kool-Aid.

Z is for zucchini: How do you prepare it?
With sausage in a garlic alfredo sauce over pasta. But I made a kick ass low-fat zucchini bread recently that was pretty darn good!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Just Checking In

Current Weight: 145.6 lbs
Goal Weight (by 1/11/12): 135 lbs
Weight to Lose: 10.6 lbs

I'm getting there, slowly but surely! Checking my last blogged weight, I've lost 3 lbs in 3 weeks. That's the average I'm really hoping for, based on the amount of exercise I do and the calories I consume. I actually only lost about a half pound this week, but considering the fact that I spent last weekend in Reno devouring buffet food, beer, and free drinks in the casino... that's not too bad! I was sort of expecting a slight increase, actually.

I've tacked on some extra exercise to my daily routine. I try and wake up early with Ryan during the week and ride the little stationary bike in the living room for 15-20 minutes while my coffee is brewing. Then, every time I visit the restroom (and no one else is in there), I try and smash out 20 squats or lunges and 5-10 push ups against the sink counter. Just a little something extra. Plus my 20 minute walk around the block before I grab lunch. So I'm attributing my recent push towards my weight goal to these few things.

I have, however, been getting pretty bad side cramps lately. I'm taking the advice of one of my Zumba instructors and changing my shoes to see if that helps. They might just be too worn out! I'm also getting ca-ra-zy muscle cramping in my left shin. That would be the leg that suffered through my sciatica... related? I don't know. But the last 2 weeks have included some *awesome* calf twitches and when I try and stand on my tip toe, the muscle actually seizes up and gets stuck there for 30 sec! Last week it happened when I got in the car to drive home from the gym. I drive a stick, so when I started up the car, my muscle seized up right then and there. I didn't think I'd be able to drive home - it was really scary! I basically had to force it back into normal state, scootch my seat up real close to the steering wheel, and drive without pointing my toe (and my fingers crossed) the whole way home.

Needless to say, I toned it down this week with the morning workout and the walking... but only the walking ebcause it rained one day this week. The other 4 days, I've walked. With different shoes. So far, my leg hasn't seized up since Wednesday, and that was only for a moment. I hope that I get better just by changing my shoes! I know I'm not over-exerting myslef or anything... it's not like I'm training 6 hours a day or something.

Nothing exciting happening in the food area of life. Although, Ryan made these puppies last night with a little side salad. Yummy! I found the recipe on my new fave food blog I mentioned before and got the cupcake recipe from. I dipped mine in a little combo of some non-fat plain Greek yogurt, some chopped up fresh dill from my patio garden, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a squirt of whole-grain mustard. It worked really nicely to cool off the buffalo chicken.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hump Day To Do List

  1. Work late since you left early yesterday.

  2. Change into workout gear and drive straight to gym from work.

  3. Run on treadmill for >10 minutes without stopping, if possible

  4. Zumba!!!

  5. Shower

  6. Nosh on yummy veggie burrito leftovers from La Pinata (they actually saute mushies, zucchini, and corn in that bad boy instead of just boring ol' beans & rice!)

  7. Make miso soup for lunches for the rest of the week

That should pretty much keep me busy tonight!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend Adventures

What a whirlwind of weekend adventuring! It was overall a complete success and a lot of fun. Saturday, I went to my hometown and spent a lovely day with my close lady friends. We watched a few episodes of Buffy and got sushi take-out as per Simone's request. It was her b-day on Friday, so what she wanted was what she got! Not that I'm complaining - I love both of those things! Before I got together with them, I spent the early afternoon with my parents at my mom's house. She recently returned from a nearly 2 week trip to Ireland and had lots of souvenirs for me to ogle over. We hooked her camera up to her tv and ran through her 700+ pictures as a slideshow while she narrated. It worked out quite nicely, actually. She hadn't deleted the bad pictures yet, but it was ok overall.

I made Simone Rainbow Tie-dye Cupcakes from my new fave food blog I posted last week (see her post with pictures here). I thought they were perfectly perfect for Simone and they turned out really well!

I think I probably got the most compliments on the frosting, which was some kind of butter-cream. Maybe because it was so dark in the bar? I have to say, however, that the frosting was DELISH! Now I am no baker, so I was extremely proud of the final product, even though Ryan did the sprinkle job:

I just had to share, since I am so proud of how they turned out! So here are the recipes, from

Perfect White Cupcakes
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

makes 12


1 cup cake flour

½ cup whole milk, at room temperature

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard size cupcake tin with paper liners. Spritz each with nonstick cooking spray.

Lightly whisk milk, egg whites, and vanilla extract in large glass measuring cup.

Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand electric mixer and add butter; beating at low speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no large clumps of flour.

Add 3/4 of the milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 20 seconds longer at low speed.

Evenly distribute the batter in the cupcake tin. (for rainbow cupcakes: divide the batter into 4 or 5 bowls and carefully mix 2-4 drops of food coloring into each one. I used red, blue, green, yellow, and a 5th bowl for red+blue=purple. Layer each color into the tin until about 3/4 full and slightly swirl with a toothpick - not too much or else it can turn brown.)

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the cupcakes from the pan carefully and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

The Best Whipped Frosting
makes enough to frost a 9″ layer cake or one dozen cupcakes generously (she says, "generously", and TOTALLY means it - I had waaaay too much frosting leftover for cupcakes!)

Recipe adapted from Missy Dew on TastyKitchen

1 cup milk

5 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (not powdered sugar)

In a medium saucepan, whisk one cup of milk with 5 tablespoons of flour. Heat over medium until the mixture begins to sputter, whisking constantly. Continue to stir as the mixture thickens. You will know it’s done when it reaches the consistency of thick cake batter, after about 7 minutes of heating and whisking. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and set aside to cool COMPLETELY.

Now, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or using a hand held mixer, beat 2 sticks of softened butter (1 cup) with 1 cup of granulated sugar until light, fluffy, and white in color, about 3 solid minutes of beating on medium-high speed. You want the sugar to be totally incorporated into the butter.

Be sure that the milk/flour mixture has completely cooled, and add it to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat all ingredients for about 1 minute on high speed, scraping down the bowl halfway, until they are smooth and well blended. The frosting should be as light and fluffy as whipped cream.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Saag Tofu

Current Weight: 148.6 lbs
Goal Weight (by 1/11/12): 135 lbs
Delta to lose: 13.6 lbs

I didn't lose any weight this week. Poop on a stick! I didn't gain any weight this week, so that's something. But a little frustrated, I am. *Sigh* Just keep swimming... It will just be that much more motivation for me to be a good girl this weekend. Between Simone's b-day festivities and company picnics.... it's not going to be easy. But I can do it. I have to do it, if I want things to change.

I just joined and had way too much fun adding books that I love to my library! After going to the library the other day and picking up Shade's Children by Garth Nix, I am on a renewed mission to read more (again). When I was BART-ing to school in San Francisco every day, I was reading non-stop to keep my brain from getting physics-fried! But I got stuck reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and have somehow lost interest. So I am starting another book. Hopefully someday I can finish that one, but it's stalling me for now. I keep meaning to read A Discovery of Witches, which my mom lent me awhile ago, but the library beckoned (I wanted some Learn to Speak Spanish cds for my commute) and I can't leave that place without a minimum of 1 book (usually 2 or 3).

I am feeling pretty lethargic today. Gotta gear up for the gym and then making cup-cakies for Simone! Weeee! I haven't been sleeping well all week, so let's just hope I don't fall asleep while those cupcakes are in the oven. Not likely to happen, but still.

Brekkie (10+0+65+24+25+0 = 124 cal):
Coffee with 1 Tbsp fat free hot chocolate and 1 packet Truvia
4 oz yogurt with 2.65 oz strawberries, 1.5 oz blueberries, 1 packet Splenda (forgot the Truvia today

Snack (30 cal):
7 Brook Cherries (yum!)

Lunch (116+62+35+34.5+25+24+29+28+11+20+8+34.5 = 427 cal):
1/2 whole wheat pita with 2.3 oz deli peppered turkey, 1 wedge laughing cow cheese, 1/8 avocado
1/2 leftover chicken & black bean enchilada from dinner last night with 0.55 oz non-fat greek yogurt (just like sour cream, but with more protein = healthier!) and the other 1/8 avocado

Snack (94 cal):
1 Tbsp Chunky Peanut Butter (what?!? it's better than the free candy we have laying around, sorta)

Dinner-to-be (225+226 = 451 cal):
Saag Tofu with 1/3 cup brown basmasti rice (1/3 cup before cooking)

Here's the Saag Tofu recipe, as adapted for 2 servings

Saag Tofu, 2 servings (from

1/2 14-ounce package water-packed firm tofu, drained
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 pound baby spinach
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1.Cut tofu in half and then into thirds lengthwise and quarters crosswise. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook, flipping every 2 to 3 minutes, until browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2.Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, ginger and mustard seeds and cook until the onion is translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add spinach in batches small enough to fit in the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until all the spinach has been added and has wilted, 4 to 6 minutes more.
3.Meanwhile, combine yogurt, curry powder, cumin and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Temper the yogurt with some of the hot spinach mixture so as not to curdle and then add to the pan along with the tofu and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Bouncing from the Top of this Cloud

It's beautiful outside. Finally! For a while I was beginning to think we were somehow no longer in Cali, stuck in winter forever. My walk today was lovely. Grabbed some vitamin D and warmed my bones. Ahhhhhh.

Tonight is my spin class and fitness boot-camp style class. I actually look forward to these all week. I feel like Thursdays I get the the most bang for my buck. So, bring it! My arms are just about recovered from Monday's work out, ready for a new beating! This week we'll probably focus on something else, since last week I suggested arms. We'll see.

Tomorrow is my weigh-in for the week. Yuck. I keep waiting for the magic number when I can try on those jeans I've been saving to squeeze back into. Realistically, not this week. But soon, I hope. By the end of the month, if I'm so lucky. I will have worked out the planned 6/7 days this week by the end of tomorrow, so I'm expecting some sort of scale movement in the downward direction. One can only hope. Next week will be another 6 days of working out. I have weekend plans, but nothing in the way of my workout schedule, so that's good. No excuses. I just really need to watch my Saturday habits, since I'll be spending the day and night with Simone for her 30th. I just need to remind myself to take is easy on the caloric drinking. I think we'll have sushi for our before-bar treat, so I should be able to keep that in check with more sashimi/less rice. I'll try to keep to a 2 drink maximum at the bar. But 30th b-days are few and far between (and not many of us are left for that mile-marker! yikes!). It helps that I'll be driving myself. I'll just make sure Simone has aaaaalllllll my extra drinks for me. Teehee.

Breakfast: Coffee, 4 oz Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt with 2 oz Strawberries, 1.5 oz Blueberries, and 1 packet Truvia = 10+65+18+24+0=117 cal

Lunch: 1/2 Wheat Pita with 2.55 oz Deli Peppered Turkey, 1 wedge Garlic & Herb Laughing Cow Cheese and 1/4 Avocado; 1 cup leftover Rice-a-Roni with 1.5 oz leftover steamed Green Beans = 116+69+35+69+310+13=612 cal

Dinner: Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas = 525 cal

Chicken & Black Bean Enchiladas, 2 servings

4 low-carb whole wheat tortillas
2 cups canned enchilada sauce (with added cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper to taste)
8 oz chicken breast, poached and shredded
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup black beans
1 onion

1. Warm up the enchilada sauce on the stove in a pan big enough to dip the tortillas in the sauce before filling and rolling them.
2. Spread 1-2 Tbsp along the bottom of a glass baking dish big enough to hold 4 enchiladas.
3. Combine the shredded chicken, beans, onions, and cheese in a bowl with a little bit of the enchilada sauce.
4. Split the filling among the tortillas, roll them up, and place them seam-side down in the baking dish.
5. Cover with foil and bake until bubbly and warmed through (temp and time TBD)
6. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Keeping Motivated

My arms are sore. Not as bad as yesterday, but still pretty sore. I blame it on my attempt at assisted pull ups after doing those Tabatas on Monday. It's the only thing I did that was new (and fricken' difficult!). I honestly only did 1 good one and 2 half-arsed ones, but apparently my limit is 2, for now. It definitely hit all those arm muscles I am trying to tone, so give up - I will not. I am glad I had yesterday off from exercise, though!

Today is Zumba with Nicole. She's my fave instructor of the 3 Zumba gals, so it's easy to convince myself to go to class on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I am trying to sneak in some running before class on Wednesdays, though, and that is far more tricky to do than it may seem. I just don't like running. But in an effort to switch things up and jump start my plateau-ed weight loss, I am adding running to my weekly routine. Not a lot, of course. Zumba is a great cardio calorie-blaster, so I just wanted to add 30 minutes of running before-hand. Mind you, I cannot physically run for 30 minutes straight (or at all, probably); I'm still working up to that. Last week, I think I managed 12 minutes of running total (split in half with a 2 minute break in between). I get crazy side cramps most of the time. Not sure what that is about, but I'm thinking it's my body's reaction to me suddenly wanting to add running to my exercise regime. Hopefully in time, they will get better or go away. In the interim, I'm trying to not drink too much water on my drive from work to the gym and I'm making sure to spend a full 5 minutes of just walking to warm up before even thinking about running (slowly increasing the speed). Anyone out there runners? Tips?

As I mentioned yesterday, we stocked up on fruits and veggies from the Farmer's Market. That meant today's breakfast yogurt was much more numnumnumnumnum. Plain non-fat Greek yogurt with 1.65 oz cut strawberries and 1.35 oz blueberries. I tried to leave it unsweetened this time, but that was a no-go. I added 1 packet of Truvia (0 cal sweetener) this morning before actually eating it. I'll keep trying to go without, but I dunno if it's possible. Including the hot chocolate I use to sweeten my coffee, total calories for brekkie were 60+15+22+10=107 Cal. Mid-morning snack was a low-fat string cheese: 65 Cal. Lunch was 1/2 of a whole wheat pita (toasted) with a wedge of Garlic & Herb Laughing Cow Cheese, 1/4 avocado, and 2.5 oz peppered deli turkey breast: 116+35+69+67=287 Cal. I just had my 1 Tbsp chuncky peanut butter and still have 3 small slices of watermelon (11.9 oz with the rind) left to munch on before leaving work for the gym: 94+54=148 Cal. That's a total so far of 607 calories, leaving me with 593 for dinner & dessert. That's quite a lot, actually. I think tomorrow I'll pack something extra to have with my sandwich. I'm trying to steer closer to 1300 cal/day when I do more cardio. Anyhow, dinner planned is Chicken Forestiere with 4 oz blanched green beans: 321+35=356 cal. With a dessert of 10 sweet cherries (43 cal), my total for the day is only 1000 calories. I might need to add something to dinner, I guess. Maybe I'll throw some almonds on the beans and eat more cherries for dessert.

Here's the dinner recipe, as adapted from Eating Well (see their version here) I have criminis and shiitakes from the Market last night - we'll use a combo. We'll be using onion in place of the shallot, sherry in place of the white wine (this is 1st time we're making this sub, hope it works!), and I have parsley growing on my back porch for the added zing at the end. I've started making my own vegetable stock by keeping the remains of my veggies in the fridge and then brewing up a big ol' pot of stock at the end of the week. I keep anything and everything that would be compostable, should we compost: skins off of garlic and onions, peels and green tops from carrots, stems from herbs, woody bottoms of asparagus and broccoli - you name it!

Chicken Forestiere, 2 servings

3 tablespoons wheat flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~10 ounces)
3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
2 tablespoons minced shallot, or onion
4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
3/4 cup veggie stock (or reduced-sodium chicken broth)
1/2 cup dry white wine (or sherry)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or chives

1.Combine 2 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge chicken in the flour mixture.
2.Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adjusting heat as necessary to prevent burning. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
3.Increase the heat to medium-high and add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan. Add shallot (or onion) and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle the mushrooms with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Pour in broth and wine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to a steady simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
4.Reduce heat to low and stir in parsley (or chives). Return the chicken to the pan, turn to coat with the sauce, and cook until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Farmer's Market Tuesday

Never before have I had a fondness for Tuesdays until just last month! Well, I might have to take that back if Lost ever aired on a Tuesday during it's time in the sun. I digress... today is Tuesday! And for me, that means I get to stock up on fruits and veggies for the week at the Farmer's Market downtown after work. We've been buying cherries as our fruit for the week, so when we had to grab some extra for our Memorial Day camping trip (in the snow??? whaaaaa???) from Safeway, we were extremely surprised at how AWFUL the grocery store cherries were in comparison! I don't think I can ever buy cherries from anywhere other than the Farmer's Market again. They were so... blah! Tasted of... nothing at all! So today is cherry day, hooray! We also stock up on: organic strawberries, spinach, crimini mushrooms, onions, and oranges. This week, I'll be grabbing garlic, shallots, green beans, and broccoli too. They don't have asparagus at our Market, unfortunately, or I'd be buying bunches of the stuff! Or corn. Sad face. We also got wheat pita bread last week, which was delish - think I'll buy another package of that too. We try and make Tuesday night our eat-out night for the week and support one of the local downtown restaurants. We've almost made it through all the ones along the strip where the Market takes place. Maybe it'll be crepes tonight?

I remembered to bring my lunch today, phew! I had Strawberry non-fat greek yogurt and coffee for breakfast (120+10=130 cal), 2 carrots and 3 Tbsp of Avocado&Cilantro Hummus from the Farmer's Market last week for a pre-lunch snack (40+80=120 cal), an adaptation of Rachael Ray's Baked Potato Soup for lunch (see recipe below, 376 cal with all the fixin's), and a Tbsp of chunky peanut butter for my post-walk-around-the-block snack (90 cal). That leaves me with about 500 calories for dinner. Should be plenty, if I'm careful about what I choose to eat (and make sure to not eat all of it - since portion sizes at restaurants are generally super-sized, I shoot for only eating half).

No gym today, Tuesday is my (only) day off. Took that 20 minute walk around the block, but no intense cardio or strength-training today. My muscles need the day off! As promised yesterday, I did wind up going to Pilates class (55 min), followed by some arm strength training with 8 lb dumbells on the Bosu (15 min), and finally did those 20 second Tabata Intervals I was telling you about (16 min total - 2 min Bosu exercises, 2 min jumping jacks (x2), 1 min break, repeat.

Here's my recipe, adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray (see her original version here)

Baked Potato Soup, serves 4

3 medium red potatoes—peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
3 cups 2% milk (we use lactose-free milk)
Salt and pepper
1/2 head cauliflower, cored and chopped
10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
4 scallions, white and green portions thinly sliced separately
4 slices bacon, diced
1/2 cup shredded low-fat (2%) cheddar cheese
1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

1.In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, 2 cups milk and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low, add the cauliflower and scallion whites, cover and simmer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup milk, then puree the soup. Season with salt and pepper.

2.Fry the bacon, adding the mushrooms when some of the fat has rendered.

3.Divide the soup among 4 bowls and top each with 2 Tbsp shredded cheese, 1 Tbsp plain yogurt (or nonfat sour cream), crumbled bacon, mushrooms, and scallion greens.

Things I'm Reading In My Spare Time At Work

  • I actually "Stumble"d upon this blog and haven't had enough. I like her writing style and story about losing 135 lbs. Her recipes are certainly on my try-soon list.

  • My mom found this when I started planning my Costa Rica trip and sent me a link. This woman has some hilarious stories and an interesting perspective on quitting her job and retiring to Costa Rica (where health care is freee)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Pilates, Tabatas, and Shrimp - Oh, my!

I forgot my food for today. I spent 15 minutes carefully measuring out my breakfast, lunch, and snacks to the appropriate level of calories, put it in my reusable food bag, threw it in the fridge, and forgot it before walking out the door. Look how cute the bag is (from, see pic at right)! All nicely forgotten and waiting to be used tomorrow, I suppose. Guess that means I can sleep in those 15 minutes tomorrow?

Anyhow, had to make instant oatmeal for brekkie (160 cal) and grab a small turkey & guacamole on wheat from quiznos for lunch (330 cal: no cheese, no sauce, with lettuce/tomatoes/onion/olives/pickles/mustard). I always want more sandwich, but with a nice large cup of mint tea (0 cal), it hits the spot ok. I don't have a snack, which is becoming incresingly painful... I usually have carrots and hummus or a lite string cheese before I hit the gym (, actually). Maybe we have some in the fridge here? They go pretty quickly... Dinner will be Salt & Pepper Shrimp, one of my faves (458 cal). We omit the bell peppers and add 10 crimini mushies, 1 large green onion, 1 med tomato, and 1/2 avocado. The avocado is nice to cambat the heat from the jalapeno. I'll put my recipe at the bottom with the link to Eating Well's version too.

Today is Monday, which is Pilates day. It's nice to have a few days off from cardio, but last Monday was Memorial Day, so it has now been a few weeks since I've had Pilates and my abs are a little bit nervous! I'm looking forward to it, though. After, I'm supposed to be meeting up with a fellow gym member to do some tabata intervals. We've been doing them on Thursdays with our F.I.T. class trainer on the Bosu (short for "BOth Sides Up") and could really reap the benefits of having them at least another day a week. Tabata intervals are 20-seconds of all out intensity exercise followed by 10-seconds of rest. Here was what we did:

Interval A: Drop Squats on floor or squats on the Bosu (round side)
Interval B: Push ups on the Bosu (flat side)
Interval C: Bosu shuffle (round side up)
Interval D: Mountain climbers on the Bosu (flat side)
Do these twice, 20 sec each, 10 sec rest in between (2 min)
Rest 1 min
Cardio: Jump Rope
20 second intervals with 10 seconds rest for 2 minutes
Rest 1 minute
Interval E: Bosu Get-ups (round side up)
Interval F: Bosu jumping jacks or burpees (flat side up)
Interval G: ??? I clearly blocked this one out of my memory

Interval H: Reverse lunge on the Bosu (flat side up)

Do these twice, 20 sec each, 10 sec rest in between (2 min total)
Rest 1 min
Cardio: Jump Rope
20 second intervals with 10 seconds rest for 2 minutes

We'll probably just do the first 4 minues and stop. Apparently that's all you need, to start out with, to reap the benefits. Go look up Tabata Intervals for more info, they're all the rage right now.

Anyhow, here's the recipe, as promised.

Salt & Pepper Shrimp
Adapted from EatingWell2 servings

• 2 tablespoons lime juice (or lemon juice works too)
• 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
• ½ teaspoon sugar
• 3 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage
• 10 crimini mushrooms, sliced
• 1 large green onion, sliced
• 1 medium tomato, diced
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• ½ teaspoon five-spice powder, (see Note)
• 10 ounces raw shrimp, (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined
• 1 tablespoon canola oil
• 1 jalapeno pepper, half of seeds removed and minced
• ½ ripe avocado, sliced

1. Whisk lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Add cabbage, mushrooms, onion, and tomato; toss to combine.
2. Combine cornstarch, salt, pepper and five-spice powder in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring often, until they are pink and curled, 3 to 4 minutes. Add jalapeno and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, about 1 minute more.
4. Serve the slaw topped with the avocado and shrimp.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Calorie Counting at Work BBQ

My new job is great when it comes to freebies! We have fresh bagels and cream cheese every morning, a selection of bags of chips or cookies, cans of soda (thank goodness there are Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet 7-Up, and Diet Iced Tea options), fun-size candy bars to snack on, string cheese, Activia, Instant oatmeal, coffee, tea, Keurig, Red Vines, and a BBQ the first Wednesday of every month. My first week here was not good and I gained a bunch of weight back that I had lost a few months ago. It really didn't help that Ryan didn't move until after that first week, but no excuses. I ate a bagel every day and unhealthy every night. My second week, I cut it down to a half a bagel.... I'm finally down to no bagels. Well, every now and again I throw in a half bagel with my soup lunch. Once a month.

Today was BBQ day. Hamburgers or hotdogs, salad, potato salad, and chips. I (begrudgingly) had a cheese-less, bun-less burger with yellow mustard and red onion, a green salad with 1 Tbsp lite italian dressing, and 3 sunchips. I was trying to avoid the chips, but grabbed those three as I was leaving the lunch-room. It's so hard to eat a burger without cheese and a bun! But it was still pretty good anyhow.

Brekkie (20+140=160 Cal):
1 Keurig French Roast coffee + 1 Keurig Vanilla coffee + 1 Tbsp fat-free hot chocolate + 1 packet of Truvia (what, I don't like my coffee to taste like coffee!)
Peach flavored Chobani Greek Yogurt

Morning Snack (80 Cal):
1 String Cheese

Lunch (300+100+30=430 Cal):
1 hamburger patty with mustard and a red onion slice
1 mixed green salad with 2 slices salami and 1 Tbsp lite dressing
3 Sunchips

Afternoon Snack (65 Cal; yes, I weigh them when I pack my lunch):
2 oz red grapes
3 oz organic strawberries

Forecasted Dinner (347+23=370 Cal):
Salt & Pepper Shrimp (no bell peppers - equivalent # calories in mushroom form instead)
5 slices cucumber, 1 green onion, and 1/2 vine tomato added to salad in shrimp dish above

Leftover: 1200-1105=95 Cal

Hmmm... dessert perhaps? Unless I decide to snack on something while I make dinner. Sicne Ryan will be home late, I may just do that. It's hard coming home after the gym and not eating anything right away. Especially since I have my afternoon snack around 3. Then dinner will be around 8ish. That's an awfully long time to go without eating (esp when working out is involved!). 95 Cal isn't very much. It's 4 strawberries + 2 tsp Nutella (yummm) or 1/2 slice Cracked Wheat Sourdough + 1/5 Avocado (my favorite go-to snack after working out).

Today is Zumba day. I generally go to my gym classes directly from work. I change into my gym clothes right as I'm getting ready to leave. That way, I don't have any excuses! I feel pretty silly driving home when I am already in my gym clothes with my hair pulled back. That said, I usually time my work schedule so that I get to the gym around 5:20 or 5:30. Class starts at 6, so that gives me 25-30 minutes of some cardio before-hand. Usually elliptical. I don't like the treadmill much. Today I may just try and jog for that time. I can hardly ever go over 10 minutes of running, so that's pretty hopeful. I think I'll slow it down and see if I can't make it for 20 + 5 min warm-up/cool-down.


Monday, May 02, 2011

Happy to Report

... that even after a 2 week diet/exercise hiatus whilst I was sick, I didn't gain any weight back! Yippee! So's I can start where I left off. Phew! Since I've been in Novato, here's my diet & exercise schedule (I've included ~35 Cal/day on my gym days for strength training of about 10 minutes/day):

Calories in/day = +1200 ~ +1400
Baseline Calories burned: -2019 Cal

Mon (2818 Cal burned): Pilates 5-6 (-229 Cal) & Zumba 6-7 (-536 Cal)
Tue (2539 Cal burned): Elliptical (-257 Cal) & Pilates 6-7 (-229 Cal)
Wed (2791 Cal burned): Treadmill (-202 Cal) & Zumba 6-7 (-536 Cal)
Thu (2665 Cal burned): Spin 5:10-6 (-363) & Calisthenics 6-7 (-229)
Fri (2019 Cal burned): Free Day
Sat (2589 Cal burned): Zumba 9-10 am
Sun (2019 Cal burned): Free Day

On my free days, I try and at least take in a little walk or hike or bike ride, so those days will vary. I try and keep it light while staying active. For example, yesterday I went on a bike ride in some marshlands near my house for maybe an hour and a half. It was all flat, though, so not vigorous in the least bit. I try and do a 30 min hike of the hill behind my house on Fridays, although last week I skipped Monday Zumba and did an hour hike instead. I like that teacher's class less than the gal who teaches on Wed/Sat. I also try and get in a 15-30 min walk on my lunch break at work. That's more to get some sunshine than exercise, so I don't really count it in my calories.

When I put it all down, I feel like the weight should be pouring off of me, yet it isn't. It's a process, I know. But I'm expending a minimum of 700 Calories more than I take in, and a pound of fat is 3500 Calories, so I should be losing more like a pound a week! We'll see what happens this week. I'm probably a little too lenient on my caloric intake over the weekend. I only want 10 more lbs off, so I better huncker down and just do it, already!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

3 Years Strong

Yesterday was our 3 year "anniversary". I use quotes because we aren't married, so I feel weird calling it a true anniversary. Here's what I got as my anniversary gift:

I got us tickets to see A Perfect Circle in July at the Greek Theater in Berkeley as my gift to him. We're going to Tahoe this weekend, hopefully. I plan to grab us some Heavenly lift tickets while we're there (or early, if they can get mailed to us in time). It's just nigh of season's end, so I figure we go big! Heavenly's my fave and I haven't been in a few years anyhow. It'll be nice for a change of scenery, since we almost always go to Kirkwood.

I stayed home from work again yesterday, sick. Yeah, still that silly cough. I thought maybe staying at home would help me to get better. Not so much. It just made me feel a little useless, in my pj's watching instant movies on Netflix. So here I am today, at work, hacking every now and again and wishing I stayed home today. I feel fine, but I hate coughing so much! I feel like everyone around me is wondering why I am here, spreading my germs around the office. Popping cough drops like they're candy. At least this batch I bought sugar-free. Anyhow, we were supposed to try a new place in Novato for our anniversary dinner, but I forgot to check their hours and of course they are cosed on Mondays. Sheesh. So we went to our local steakhouse. Love that place! I had a seared ahi tuna crusted with coriander. Yum! Ryan had tenderloin with a dijon, brandy, and green peppercorn sauce that I should learn how to make ASAP. The problem with cooking and trying out things we've had at restaurants is that it makes going out to restaurants less special. Don't get me wrong, learning to make it at home has is merits (saving $$$), but I then try and healthify the meal, so it doesn't even taste as good. So it's like losing on 2 fronts, really. I should just leave the deliciousness to the pros, I guess. Since I've been sick, I haven't been counting calories. It just seems like too much. Of course, since I've started counting calories, I can sort of keep a tally in the back of my head so I don't completely overdo it.... but I'm sure I overdo it just the same. Sometimes I just need a break from the worry and want to make some good ol' fashioned comfort food. Tonight I'll make stroganoff. In an effort to healify this go-to meal, I've reduced the pasta to 2-3 oz of whole wheat pasta per serving (depending on my calories for the day), doubled the fresh mushrooms (crimini or other wild mushroom, never the boring white ones anymore)and onion, only use fat free sour cream, and cut the meat by half (now only ground turkey, no red meat). I think tonight I'll add a bag of baby spinich to boost the nutrition (without boosting the calories). Here's my recipe and nutrition info (maybe pics to follow, if I remember):

Sarah’s Stroganoff
•3 Jennie-O Hot Turkey Sausages, casings removed
•12 oz. Whole Wheat Pasta (rotini or bow-ties work well)
•1 can Cream of Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Soup
•1 cup fat-free sour cream
•4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
•1 medium onion, diced
•1 lb. mushrooms, sliced or quartered
•1 tsp. Salt-free Italian Seasoning
•1 tsp. poppy seeds, if desired
• Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1.Heat sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Break up into crumbles.
2.Just as sausage starts to brown, add mushrooms, onion, garlic, and herbs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is cooked through and all the liquid has evaporated.
3.Add the can of soup to the sausage and mushroom mixture and simmer over low heat.
4.While the sauce thickens, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook noodles until al dente per package directions. Drain noodles and toss with poppy seeds. Set aside.
5.Temper the sour cream by adding a spoonful of the hot sauce and stirring well. Add the tempered sour cream to the sauce and stir well to combine.
6.Add the reserved pasta to the sauce and stir until warmed. Split among 4 plates.

541 Calories per serving
12.8 g Fat/3.4 g Sat/1.7 g Poly/1.2 g Mono
76.8 g Carbs/11.6 g Fiber
31.8 g Protein
272.5 mg Cholesterol
1430.6 mg Sodium
1331.4 mg Potassium
8% Vitamin A/19% Calcium/7% Vitamin C/26% Iron

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giant Effing Q

DayQuil makes everything better... unless you need to remember words or add numbers. Clearly, I cannot do either under my current circumstances. But at least I'm only coughing once every 10 minutes instead of once every minute like earlier this morning. Did I mention how much I actually despise coughing? Because I do. Not that other people love to cough, that's silly talk! But ever since that whooping cough debaucle a year and a half ago, I thought it would be rather lovely to never cough. Again. Ever. I mistakenly thought that once I quit smoking cigarettes, this stupid cough/cold I seem to catch once a year would stop attacking my poor bronchial tubes. Alas, here it is. Neon phlegm in all its glory. And me, high as a kite on DayQuil.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Job, New Life

So, I'm 30 now. I don't really feel 30. It's kinda weird. I never really wanted to have kids, but I sort of understand that ticking clock thing now. I feel like if I do change my mind, it better be soon. I didn't really want to have as huge of a gap between me and my children as I have with my parents. That said, it did take me this long to start my real life... career and whatnot. So it really wasn't an ideal time, until recently. Still haven't decided if I want kids... but the thought has been crossing my mind more often as of late.

Living in Novato with Ryan is finally settling in. We moved almost 3 months ago. It's not too far from home, ~40 miles, but it's far enough. Not like when I moved to Chico, because I knew that wasn't for forever, you know? This has the potential of being for forever. I'm still adjusting to the new job and surroundings, finding my bearings. I like it and I don't. This is not what I went to school for, so I feel like I'm settling. I could go back for my ph.D, but another 6 years? Really? I'm kinda over it at this point. Ready to move forward, not in reverse!

Sigh. Enough for now. Maybe more to come, since I remembered this things still exists.