Friday, September 30, 2011

September's Last Friday! Tips Tricks and Inspiration

We are still rocking the bentos this week.  Next week, our bentos will feature a "trip around the world" with dishes inspired by India, the Mediterranean, Spain and France, as well as one Asian inspired meal.  This week's bentos all came from my daughter's birthday present, The Just Bento Cookbook. 

This has lead to renew my love with all things pickled, so today's trick is pickling.  If, like me, you get tired of salad, this is a good and low calorie way to change up those veggies.  I came across this yummy sounding Polish pickle recipe on Snack Girl.

Snack Girl's blog is my tip of the week.  She has lots of low-cal ideas for all we snack crazed calorie counters.

Now, for your weekly inspiration.  Yesterday I was tasked with journaling some non-scale related changes in my life since beginning my weight loss journey.  I'm sharing my short list with you, but this week, you are to inspire yourself by doing the same.  Remember, they are not about weight but about the other things.  Here are a couple of mine:
  • My whole family eats more healthfully
  • I feel happy about what I eat
  • I feel strong and fit
  • I feel younger in age and have tons more energy
  • I have developed my sense of purpose
  • I have learned that I am worth spending time and energy on
 Please share your list with me and let me celebrate with you!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Back to Bento - With Photos

The other day I made a beautiful pork loin -- the simple way.  Marinated it in soy sauce, Sprite, and garlic.  Browned all sides and roasted it until done.  It was just perfect.

The pork loin put me in the mood for bento boxes.  This week I was actually able to buy spinach in a bunch at the market;  I love it for the spinach knobs because the stems add a nice crunch and they make them look so interesting.  Here's what is in my boxes:
I love the spinach knobs I learned to make from JustBento.  They are such a favorite that our family of 7 will eat three bunches of spinach in minutes.  I thinks the seasoned sauce is what makes the difference.

I have adapted Maki's sauce in the following way:
Firstly, I quadruple it because there are so many of us!  I sub in tahini for the sesame seeds, rice-wine vinegar for the mirin and I add a squirt of mustard to help emulsify it and because it takes great with spinach.  I know all the changes make it not very Japanese.  But I suppose that's perfect since I am Italian-Scotch-Irish American lady with a rainbow of a family! 

Here's my version of the Sesame Sauce for Spinach:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tblsp. Tahini
2 Tblsp. Sugar
Squirt mustard (maybe 1/2 tsp)
Roasted sesame seeds for sprinkling

Whisk all this together.  It keeps well in fridge a couple of weeks.  It will never last that long. 
This photo shows everything coming together on the stove.

All ready for assembly

Filled boxes.  These two get sauce bottles because they will leave the house.  For we homebodies I just keep the sauce in the fridge.  The carrots are hiding under the spinach knobs.

Here is what the boxes look like assembled.  I love the stacking ones like the green one -- they are so clever!   All of these are very inexpensive boxes (from the Chinese equivalent of dollar store) so I don't have to worry if one gets lost or damaged.

This super smart one was purchased by Pepper in San Francisco;  I love the way it keeps her utensils and chopsticks so handy. 

For five bento boxes, I use 3 bunches of spinach, four zuchinni (big ones) and 3 carrots.  That is a lot of veggie servings per person.  And the spinach knobs are so delicious and fun, my kids actually fight over them.

Is it quick to make bento lunches?  Sometimes.  This time it was not, it took about an hour counting numerous interventions by my preschoolers.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  I spent an hour making lunches for my entire family that are not only appetizing, they are healthy, colorful and fun to eat! .

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fit Friday: Tips, Tricks and Inspiration

I have a new weight loss buddy and I was explaining some things to her the other day.  It occurred to me that I know a lot about weight loss.  Yet, sometimes I don't use what I know.  So the trick of the week is:  Do what you know how to do.  If you are brand new to weight loss or way too experienced, there are things you know.  Do those things this week.  As for me, I am going to drink my water.  I know it matters, so I am going to do it.  I am down half a pound this week but noticed my ankles were really swollen.  Guess who hadn't been drinking her water?

The tip of the week is for all of we sugar addicts.  Here is an article that shows step-by-step how to break the sugar habit.  

Now for the inspiration.  This is probably the most inspiring video I've seen about weight loss.  I have posted it before but after a lack of self control yesterday, I decided it was time for a re-run.  Turn off the TV, send the kids outside and take the 4 minutes.  It's worth it!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Project Status

You can't finish something you never started.  

Isn't that the truth?  Wanting to find a new job won't do it.  Thinking about saving money won't save it.  Getting frustrated about the messy closet doesn't clean it.  Wishing I were thinner doesn't take the weight off.

Sometimes, it helps to be reminded.  If I am going to enjoy living at goal weight, I've got to get there first.  And that means every day, I have to move my weight loss up to "project status."  You know what I mean by that, right?  That means setting aside time to plan, to shop for fresh produce, to cook healthy meals, to exercise; it means remembering that my weight loss project has intrinsic value and is worth investing time in.

I have a new weight loss buddy, which has made it easier to move this project up my priority list.   I am setting mini-goals for myself, like tracking all my food every day.  I will not eat a candy bar if I have to write it down; I'm just not that gal!  I am helping my buddy, which makes me more thoughtful about my own plan, as well. 

Perhaps most importantly, I've gotten started.  I'm leaving behind the chaos of the last year and looking forward.  While I'm pleased that I've managed to maintain my previous loss for a year, now it is time to finish this project.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tips and Tricks - I Know, it's Saturday!

Sometimes there really aren't enough hours in the day. Hence my Friday post is making it in on Saturday! Here my tips, tricks and inspiration for the week.

Tip of the day: The Harvard Health Blog. I love this blog. This week instead of just whining about how the USDAs replacement to the food pyramid is useless, they came up with an actual improved version. Positive press - gotta love it!

This week's trick is portion control. A year ago, I bought serving spoons at Weight Watchers that make it easy to serve out a 1 cup, 1/2 cup (etc.) portion. I've you've ever tried to squish a cup of spaghetti into a measuring cup, you know what I mean. Anyway, let's make it a "weigh and measure" weekend and get those portions under control.

If you want to know more about portion distortion, here is an eye opening graphic I came across in June:

Finally, this week's inspiration. Every time I think "I can't do it," I read about someone who shows me I can. Guess what? I can. Here is an article to inspire you, too!

Have a good "weigh and measure weekend," everyone!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chicken Bites Three ways

I am always looking for yummy low-fat food.  My favorite bento blogger published a recipe for some beautiful cabbage rolls.  I decided to use her technique with my favorite chicken recipe.  I make a huge recipe of the chicken filling and then use it to create 3 kinds of meals.  Any form freezes great!

Yes they talk a long time, but since you are getting 24 servings, it's worth it!.

The cabbage wrapped ones are definitely the stars but I am too lazy to do more than one head of the cabbage!

The nutritional info and Weight Watchers Points (Plus) are at the end.

First Way:
Cover the leaves with water and bring it to a boil.  Turn it off, drain and let them cool. 

Meanwhile, mix the filling.  I grind my own chicken breast but it isn't required.  Add all the remaining ingredients except the chicken broth.   You can use a spoon but it's easier with your hands.

Prepare the cabbage leaves by cutting out the stem in a V-shape.  Refer to the JustBento blog instructions for complete details.

Using a melon baller or small scoop, place a ball near the broad end of each leaf.  Tuck the top over, fold in the sides and roll like a burrito.  Refer to the JUST BENTO blog for a fine explanation and lovely photos.

Place these chicken balls in the bottom of a large pan, resting on the "tail" end.  Pour in enough chicken stock to cover the bottom by about 1/2 inch.  Heat to boiling and reduce to simmer.  Cover pan and cook 15 minutes.  Double-check with a meat thermometer (should be 160 degrees.)

Lift them out gently and reserve the yummy broth.  Serve with Chinese dipping sauce for dumplings.
This way makes about  6 servings.  I will use them for bento boxes with  carrot kinpira and fruit.

Second Way:

Using a small scoop, about golf ball size, and form all the remaining filling into balls.  This is easier with wet hands.

Heat about  1 tbsp. of cooking oil and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil in non-stick skillet.   Flatten 18 balls in your hands to make patties about 1/2" thick.  Divide into two batches; cook until 160 degrees inside;  about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Reserve oil in skillet..   (Serve 3 patties to each with fried rice and carrots).

Third way:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add 2 teaspoons of cooking oil to skillet. 

Working in batches, quickly brown meatballs.  Place in large roasting pan, coated with cooing spray.

When all meatballs are added, pour in the reserved broth from the cabbage balls.  Place in oven for 25-30 minutes or until the meatballs reach 160 degrees. 

Serve these with plum sauce or orange sauce.
I am going to put them in lunches with edema-me and molded rice. 

Nutritional Info:
3 Weight Watchers points per serving

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 24
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 122.8
  • Total Fat: 2.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 49.4 mg
  • Sodium: 207.5 mg
  • Total Carbs: 4.0 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 20.5 g
View full nutritional breakdown of Chicken Bites - 3 ways calories by ingredient on Spark People.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bento Boxes

A few years ago, I saw a Weight Watchers Online thread on bento boxes.  It raised my curiosity so (as ususal) I did some research and the Tischler love of all things bento was born.  We love them so much, one year we gave empty boxes, rice molds, egg molds and other fun things to Pepper's teachers for Christmas.  (Thought train derailed -- we have all new teachers now so maybe will re-run that idea!)  We love them so much, Pepper is considering training in Japan when she finishes culinary school!

I love Korean veggies so have adapted several recipes for them; they also go well in the bento boxes.  I am going to make Pepper and Dear Hubby bentos for lunch this week, so I will take some pictures and post them with recipes through the week.

I have a favorite bento blog, Just Bento.

The cool thing about bento is that it spurs creativity.  It raises the bar on bag lunch.  How can I make this beautiful as well as palatable?  What can I have for lunch that is not a sandwich?   Bentos do not have to be Asian inspired though must of ours are;  we love the Japanese, Chinese and Korean flavor palettes.

In case I've raised your curiosity, here are two articles on Japanese eating and lifestyle:

This one is from is from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and talks about the possibilities for slimming your waistline while enjoying Japanese cuisine.

I was inspired by this National Geographic article too. We have a lot to learn from the Japanese population's approach to eating.

If you get inspired to do your own bentos too, please send me some pics!