Saturday, December 28, 2013

Last Friday - Tips, Tricks and Inspiration

It's the last Friday of 2013. Whew!

First, the memo: I posted my menu plan to Bright Love last Monday since it was more holiday than health-conscious, but if you're looking for ideas, there's the link.

I've been reading some interesting news in the fields of weight loss and whole health lately. Firstly this:
Restaurant labeling works and I am not surprised. While getting to the point where most restaurant fare could be called healthy is a ways off, at least with the labeling, research shows people do make better choices. Hence the tip of the week: Do take the time to read those labels and go for a healthier choice -- you will feel better about it. Did you know that California has had restaurant menu labeling laws for some time? Thus, if you plan on going to a chain restaurant, take a couple of minutes before you go to look up the restaurant online and enter your location as somewhere in California. You will then be able to see the whole menu with nutritional information. Cool, huh?

My trick of the week is an obvious one that bears restating. During these challenging holiday times, instead of saying "I can't have that" and depriving myself, only to binge later on something else. As we enter into week 2 or this long holiday time, try giving yourself permission to have a small piece or a single serving of your favorite holiday foods. Pass up any food that isn't your favorite to help offset the extra calorie expenditures. Trick 2 is one that everyone knows but seldom applies -- and this applies especially to buffets and group meals: If you take a bite of something and it is not nearly as good tasting as you thought it would be, do not take another bite. Try whatever you want to try, but only eat the really good stuff. I also make a point to pass up food we eat any time of the year -- breads, mashed potatoes, regular cake, etc -- and focus on the seasonal foods to lower the calorie cost of the whole meal. Make sense?

Although some would consider this last article bad news for someone like me, I take it as inspiration. I was actually relived to read that "healthy obesity is a myth." Yes, I have "good numbers." And as I tell my doctors, "I'm perfect on the inside." Still everything in me wants to fight the fat even though it's an epic battle with no victory yet in sight. None of my doctors will tell me to lose weight because my numbers are good. It's crazy. So I fight on for another year. What inspires you to keep fighting?

Have a safe, happy, and healthy new year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lose to the Last - It's Menu Plan Monday!

Welcome to Menu Plan Monday!  I love to link up with to share menus and be inspired by others!

I am doing things a little differently this week. I made a short list for each breakfast, lunch and dinner, bought all the ingredients and am selecting which meals to make each day. Having the plan plus the flexibility will help me adjust to the ever changing climate inside and outside the house.

This menu has a lot of our favorites in it but the Farmer's Fritata and the Macaroni Salad are sure winners. There aren't seven meals here because we always have at least one leftover day and one or two days where no one seems to be here at the same time so we eat what we can find!

Farmer's Fritata with Goat Cheese (recipe below)
Egg, Tomato and Avocado Tostados

Nicoise style tuna sandwiches  (here is a link to a recipe but we do not put mayo on ours)
Lemony Hummus and Goat Cheese with Homemade Whole Wheat Pita Chips
Classic Macaroni Salad with fresh veggies and cheese cubes (recipe below)
6 color rice, boiled egg, vegetables (inspired by this)

Filet Mignon (3 oz each) with Shaved Zucchini (sirloin for the little kids)
Grilled Shrimp Ceasar Salad (we use the classic ceasar dressing recipe and are sparing in application)
Pork Lo Mein

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Farmer's Frittata (Weight Watchers)
Serves 2

1/2 medium red potato (cook 3 minutes in microwave, then dice)
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. olive oil
2 pinches salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced
1 large egg
4 egg whites
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Saute the vegetables in the olive oil about 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium; add the eggs, gently lifting the edges so the eggs can flow beneath; add salt and pepper on top. Place lid on, cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle the goat cheese and basil on top, replace lid, lower heat to medium low for 2 minutes, until cheese softens.

Remove from heat. Cut into quarters for easy serving; serve 2 pieces per person.

This recipe is so delicious and such an easy way to get in a full serving of vegetables!

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Classic Macaroni Salad Remake by Weight Watchers

Serves 4 (doubles easily and keeps well refrigerated for several days)

8 oz macaroni, whole grain
1 cup small broccoli florets
1 large tomato, chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
1 Tbsp. lemon juice  or pickle juice
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Rinse under cool water to stop cooking. Combine pasta and vegetables. Combine dressing ingredients in small bowl.  Add to pasta and vegetables.

This salad is so good and has a full serving of vegetables per serving. There is no reason ever to make the full fat kind again!  I dice the vegetables really finely which keeps the kids happy.  If sending for lunch, I add an ounce of cheese cubes and a fruit for a complete lunch. Grape tomatoes are also a nice complement to this salad.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Festive Food That Won't Break the (Calorie) Bank

'Tis the season to party! I hate going to a party empty handed but this time of year, I also need to know there will be something there I can eat without guilt!  I saw this cute idea and decided to test it out for the teacher's luncheon at Tinker's school today.  Here is the result:

This was so simple.  Ingredients:
2 heads of broccoli
1 head of cauliflower
1 yellow bell pepper
 A few grape tomatoes
Neufchatel cheese (4 oz)
A few pieces of spaghetti

Cut the broccoli and cauliflower off the stalks.  Save a fat broccoli stalk for the trunk.

Slice the pepper thinly, saving a part to cut out a star.

Arrange your broccoli first.  Then cut a slice of stalk for the trunk. I used Neufchatel cheese to stick the broccoli and cauliflower to the tray. Now arrange your pepper slices. (Next time I will cut them as rounds before cutting them in half to allow more creative control!)

Break spaghetti into pieces to use as toothpicks to get the tomatoes and star to stay where you want them.

Simple huh?  The whole project took about 20 minutes and the teachers were so appreciative.