Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Cookies


Samantha and I decided to bake Christmas cookies the other day. I am so glad she is getting old enough to roll out and cut out cookies with almost no supervision!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bring on the Soup


I love soup year round but as it starts getting cooler, I want it almost every day. One of my favorite cold weather meals is tomato soup and grilled cheese. This is what Samantha and I made for dinner on Friday night. Normally we cook together on Thursdays, but she was out of school on Friday so we had a sleepover and then spent the day together. I have been taking pictures of her cooking with me for the past year or so. I have decided to make her a scrapbook for Christmas with the pictures and I will include the recipes as a keepsake for her. Doesn't she look perfectly at ease at the stove with her hand on her hip? I just love that photo of her. She still isn't quite tall enough to stand without a stool to boost her up but she is getting there. If she isn't using a knife or working at the stove she will not use the stool, but as a matter of safety when she is working with something sharp or hot she does. New thing she learned: why it is important and how to heat cream before adding it to simmering soup. She has tempered eggs before but this was the first time we have added cream like this.

The recipe I used for this soup is found here. The only thing I changed was the fact that I used a quart jar of canned tomatoes from my Dad's garden and to smooth out the tomatoes I used and immersion blender before adding the cream. This was an easy recipe to make and simple enough so that I know there will be no more canned tomato soup at my house!


This was the final plate. When we cooked her mother's birthday dinner back in September, she asked what kind of dinner it was. I wasn't sure what she meant so I answered a birthday dinner. She said no, it is a fancy dinner? The reason she wanted to know was that she wanted to use my china and a full table setting laid out with cloth napkins, ,silverware and the good glasses! Ever since then since she knows where the cloth napkins and napkin rings are she sets the table for every meal she eats with us! I do use my china often, especially on Sundays. She also discovered that I have lots of dishes to choose from so we have been having fun actually "plating" our dishes too. We are both having fun doing this too and I am using all my dishes a little more often.



I think she was happy with her end result! That soup was delicious and will be made here very often.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday's Bento


this is the bento lunch that I made for Samantha and myself today. In the top tier is a salad with mushrooms, cucumbers and tomatoes and the little clear container on the side is some dressing that I made last night. The bottom tier is some hummus in the little purple container, sprinkled with green onions, some mini pitas and a ham/turkey/pepperjack roll and some grapes on the little bee picks. On the side is a container with pumpkin seeds and the top is a banana smoothie. Samantha hasn't seen the new tiffin boxes or the bees yet so she will be surprised.

I LOVE World Market stores but there isn't one very close by me so when I am near one I have to stop by and do some shopping. The tiffin boxes are from my last trip a week or so ago. Of course those aren't the only things I bought, but the only bento related stuff. We have a local cake decorating supply store that I have recently discovered and when I was in there I picked up a bunch of cupcake pics, including these adorable bees.

I have noticed that when I go to school to eat with her, I am the only adult that is not carrying a fast food bag. On Fridays there are lots of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles eating in the cafeteria and I am the only one that doesn't bring fast food. Knowing how kids don't necessarily like to stand out as different, I asked Samantha how she felt about that and she let me know that she definitely prefers the bentos. She did let me know if I didn't have time to make a bento that take out sushi would be okay. We have been doing the bento thing every other Friday or so since last school year. I think it is interesting that so many of her classmates are fascinated with the food that I pack. One little boy in particular always comes and takes a look and says "you are so lucky" every week. Samantha has always eaten a wide variety of foods, ever since she was a tiny thing. Green onions have always been one of her favorite things. When she was two or three and would see us pull out green onions to go with dinner she would get so excited! that's why the hummus has green onions on top as well as blended into the hummus.

Want to see lots more cool bentos? I have linked my post to "What's for Lunch Wednesday". Lots of great bento ideas to be found there!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ravioli


I have been playing with the idea of adopting a more vegetarian diet. I don't think omitting meat from my diet will be a problem, but totally giving up dairy would be! I do love cheese, I don't eat it all the time and I don't eat tons of it when I do, but I don't want to give it up completely. So, in talking with Kip about going meatless or vegetarian or whatever, he doesn't want to totally give up meat and I don't want to feel like I am always just eating side dishes. I do make a few meatless dishes already and I decided if I could come up with things that feel like a main meal and are meatless that we could go meatless several times a week.

I am a pretty good cook, love to find new recipes so I am always experimenting in the kitchen. Sometimes they flop and aren't things that will make it to a repeating status. Sometimes I know my socks off and this ravioli was one of those things. This was delicious. I made a simple tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes, onions, fresh basil and garlic all from the CSA. For the filling in my ravioli, I sauteed some spinach and mushrooms and then chopped that up. I added some cottage cheese (no ricotta on hand) and the used wonton wrappers for the ravioli. Definite repeat and they are meatless.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday's Bento


This is the Bento that I made for Samantha yesterday. In addition to this she had a cookie and a small container of kale chips. She loves kale chips and she had asked if we could make some when she was at the house on Thursday and she told me she wanted some for lunch the next day too. I had the bento done, photo taken and was getting ready to leave when I remembered she wanted kale chips.

The top tier has some little whole wheat pita rounds and some baked tofu cut into umbrella shapes since it was a rainy day. The side container contains some hummus for the pita bread. There are also some sliced grape tomatoes in there. The second tier has some grapes, raspberries, pineapple and star fruit along with some colby-jack umbrellas.

One of the kids in her class was celebrating a birthday and had brought cupcakes to share with the class. I rarely bring dessert other than fruit or a smoothie, mostly because she would rather have the other stuff. I told her it must be her lucky day since she was getting two desserts. She corrected me that she actually had three desserts: the cookie, the cupcake and the kale chips. She must really like those kale chips to consider them a dessert!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Happy Girl


I just had to share these pictures of Samantha. Tomorrow is her Mom's birthday so we were cooking her a birthday dinner tonight. I took Jenna shopping and she picked out the gifts and Samantha and I cooked dinner and dessert. We had chicken pockets, rice with veggies and a salad and creme brulee for dessert. This is Samantha with my torch caramelizing sugar for the first time. She was giddy with excitement that she was going to get to use the torch by herself, and I think you can see that in her face. She loves to cook so she was my little sous-chef tonight. She has gotten pretty good at slicing veggies, separating eggs and now caramelizing sugar! This was a more complicated dessert than we normally make but it was a lot of fun!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday's Bento


School is back in session and that means bento lunches on a more regular basis. I forgot to take a photo of the actual bento so this one will have to do. We had some rice balls, shrimp and crab sticks in the bottom tier and and carrots, tomatoes and baby bell cheese in the top tier with a small fruit salad of kiwi, strawberries and raspberries in the little puppy container. Over the summer I ordered us some new bento supplies to surprise her with so this was the first time Samantha saw the orange bento box and the new lunch box. After she opened everything and spread it out she said "This is paradise!". I know she loves these so it makes it more than worth my time to spend the extra time to make these for her.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mission Accomplished


I did it. I set some fitness goals at the beginning of the year as a part of my journey to a healthier life. One goal was to get off of blood pressure medication and the other was to participate in a 5K. I have been working on achieving this goal for quite a while. I knew I wasn't ready to run the full course, but I knew I could run part and walk part. The local Y was having a 5K Run/Walk and I decided I was ready to give it a go. Saturday was the big day. For some reason I was more than a little nervous. I am not sure why, I have been practicing this same distance for a while and improving my time. I knew I could do it. I think it may have been the fact that even though I have lost over 40 pounds I was still the biggest person there. Also when I got there, there were all these runners that looked a lot more prepared than I felt. Kip gave me a little pep talk and reminded me that I had been preparing for this and could do it.

I do most of my training indoors, either on a treadmill or an indoor track. Even though the race was at 8:00 am, it was already hot. That slowed me down a little. The Y had set up water stations at a couple of points on the course. On TV when you see people running races they run past those stations, grab a water and never slow down. I know myself a little too well to even attempt that, I know how clumsy I am! So that slowed me down a little too. I really wanted to finish in under an hour and even with those factors that slowed me down a little, I had a time of 55:21. Other than finishing in under an hour, I had no other time goals that I was trying to beat. I have been doing that same distance quicker than that most days, but all things considered, I was very happy. Next one, I will just try and beat that time.

See that smile on my face? That is the smile of a person that set a goal, worked hard and achieved it! It is the smile of a person that no longer sees herself as broken and weak. The smile of someone that knew she was strong enough to do this. The smile of someone that was looking into the face of someone that believed in her as she crossed that line. I think Kip's smile was a big as my own. He know how hard I have worked and wanted this. Having him there meant more to me than I can describe. I am proud of myself for what I did, but to be acknowledged by someone that knew what a struggle it was to get to this point meant a lot.



I am sure you tell in this picture how much I am leaning to one side. I do that when I get tired and the more tired I get the more I lean. That is the main reason that I use a cane on occasion. I was tired at the end of this and it showed. But I was happy that I had done it and that I had finished. This was a very big deal to me for several reasons. A little more than a year ago I wouldn't have been able to make it to the end of the parking lot without a cane and on this day I did the full 3.1 miles with nothing but my determination and the backing of my training. I knew I was strong enough to do this.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Grilled Pizza


We decided to buy a grill while they were on sale for the Fourth of July. I have had gas grills in the past but have never cooked on a charcoal grill. I knew that the flavors could be better cooking this way so my vote was for charcoal and that is also what Kip preferred so that is that we ended up with. A decision that neither one of us has regretted either. We have grilled most of our meals since getting it too. I have been seeing lots of grilled pizzas in magazines and online so when I got fresh basil in my CSA basket I knew I wanted to try making a classic Margherita pizza. I made a pizza crust the way I normally do, rolled it out and then threw it on the grill. I was surprised at how quickly it cooked. But man oh man that was the best my pizza crust has ever tasted. With all fresh ingredients this pizza was simply delicious and will definitely be a repeat!

Two more days until the 5K!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back from Vacation

We had a nice long weekend trip to Indianapolis and just returned. It was an interesting time trying to incorporate my new healthier lifestyle choices while on the road. I did preplan some meals and snacks. While that meant that I had to take a long a cooler of food it did help me stay on track. Normally during the 5 hour car trip we make a couple of stops at convenience stores for snacks and drinks and bathroom breaks. I had packed snacks for both of us so we were good there. What I found really interesting was that even though we both had healthier snacks with us neither of us even snacked that much. I had made a bag of trail mix and we both ate some and then Kip said he was full and asked me to move the bag so he wouldn't be just mindlessly snacking. I realized I was satisfied too so I put the bag away. I always read in the car so in the past I would do lots and lots of mindless eating.

I also took along my toaster and some bread and yogurt for our breakfasts. I know the hotel where we stay has breakfast available, and even though there is usually "wheat" bread to make toast, I didn't know if it would be whole wheat or not. Plus I know that I have a huge weakness for breakfast pastries and I knew they would be there too. Since we ate in the room it gave us some extra lounging time and I wasn't tempted by the honey buns! Since we were on vacation, I did eat some nice dinners. Dinners that were above my normal calorie range but I didn't go crazy and just order with abandon either. I also didn't feel the need to eat everything on my plate either. I stopped when I was full.

We did do a lot of walking but I didn't not get in any solid exercise time. But that's okay. It was nice because I have built up my endurance and the walking that we did was pleasant. In the past that wasn't always something that I would have enjoyed doing very much of. I wasn't out of breath or even slowing down as we were walking. I know my body is stronger, and getting stronger as time goes by.

I did have a slight weight gain of 1.2 pounds. Honestly I was expecting that number to be a little higher just because I wasn't cooking most of my food so I couldn't control the extras like that amount of salt or butter. It's okay. I don't feel like I "failed" my healthy lifestyle change or anything. I had fun while we were gone.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lots and Lots of veggies


One of my favorite things to eat and cook right now is Chicken Fajitas. Samantha and Jenna were eating dinner over here the other night and Samantha was very excited that I had peppers in three different colors. She had to have samples of each of them and then more samples to determine which one she liked better. I think the yellow ones got her top vote! I also added chicken, some fajita seasoning and some lime juice to the mix and the served them with whole wheat tortillas, rice and sliced kiwi.

I am still doing good on my weight loss journey. I am now down about 44 pounds total. Exercise is going well and I have signed up to participate in my first 5K in a couple of weeks. I think I am ready for that challenge. This one was listed as a walk/run so I thought it would be a great one for my first one. I know that I can't run that entire distance yet, but I can finish.

I went shopping on Friday. All of my clothes are too big now. I do have a few things that I had saved that were too small but mostly everything is too big. It was a great shopping trip. I picked out smaller sizes of everything. And everything I tried on fit.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Getting Stronger

I am exercising now. A lot of exercise. Like about 2-3 hours a day. I walk for 30-60 minutes before going to work most days and then I go to the Y for another hour and a half up to two and a half hours. It's a little crazy I know. But I can't stop now.

I have come to believe that I am not broken. I have wrestled with the concept for almost a year now, since that blog post last September. I do realize that I was the only person that saw me that way. I have tried to remember how or when I first saw myself that way and can't. It was something that I had never spoken out loud until just a couple of months ago. Because I was ashamed of my brokenness, I tried to hide it. I lied about it. I don't think I felt that way in the beginning when I was that little six year old just diagnosed with scoliosis. It was some time after that when the bracing didn't work. I don't even think it was after the first surgery because the reason that didn't work wasn't my fault, it was the car wreck we had on the way to church one Sunday Morning. Somehow fixing the scoliosis was interpreted by be as I needed to be fixed. I really think it was some time after the third one.

I know the feelings of weakness went hand in hand with the feelings of brokenness. Broken things are weaker than non-broken things. I let the pain take over my body. I mean the pain was and is there but I let it limit my life. I grew to be afraid of the pain and the pain dictated everything.

But I am changing. I no longer believe I am broken. Believing I am strong is taking a little more work and is the reason for my new exercise routines. Every minute I am sweating on some machine is proving that I am getting stronger. When I am tired I keep repeating "this is making you stronger, this is making you stronger". Right now it is a little hard to believe I am strong if I am not feeling physically strong.

I am getting stronger.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Breakfast, a tool I use and an Update


This is a breakfast that I really enjoy eating. I take a small banana, a couple of strawberries and slice them, a small container of vanilla yogurt, a few blueberries and a couple of tablespoons of granola. I love the different textures and the sweetness of the yogurt combines nicely with the tanginess and sweetness of the fruit. I love granola but it typically has a lot of calories. This way I get the taste of the granola I like but with far fewer calories than if I just ate a bowl of granola cereal with milk. Whole Foods has several different flavors of granola to choose from in their bulk food area, I think this one is called gingersnap.

I have mentioned before that I use an app called Lose It! to log my meals and exercise. Since using this app I have become very aware of the calories in the food that I eat and it has enabled me to make healthier choices, especially on the go. For a long time I didn't realize that there was also an online community. I found that a couple of months ago and honestly credit that with the success I have had. Previously when I would try to lose weight, I would do great for the first 25 pounds or so. Then I would start easing up, adding in more and more unhealthy choices and the weight would creep back on and always with a few extra. Then I would get discouraged and just stop doing it, feeling more and more defeated with each cycle. I finally recognized that pattern and talked to Kip about it and my reasons for being so strict during that point. I also started participating and making friends on Lose It! I finally made it past that twenty five pound mark.

Now that I was past that mental hurdle, I decided it was time to really up the exercise portion of my weight loss journey so I joined the Y. I was making slow and steady progress then my online friends were doing an exercise challenge with a specific calorie burn in mind each week. I have been meeting and exceeding that goal every week. Then at the beginning of July I saw a posting about the July challenge and people talking about teams and such. I thought that would be another way of challenging myself so I wanted to be on a team. None of the people that I was talking to on a regular basis was participating but someone suggested that someone else that I didn't really know was forming a team. I pushed my timid feelings to the side, sent him a message asking if I could be on his team. he said yes and am I ever so grateful he did! I am being challenged in a new way each week. It's amazing! The people I have met on that site have been incredible and encouraging and willing to share what has worked for them But this team takes it even a step further. Since our challenge changes every week I have something different to focus on and that keeps me from getting bored.

Weekly weigh in: I lost 1.6 pounds this week!!! And that pushed my total weight loss past the 40 pound mark!!!!!!!!! I am a little happy and excited here to say the least.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Big Number!

I had a great loss this week. I have been working out very hard the past couple of weeks and the scale has been moving down, just not very fast. I am happy every time the scale moves downward, not matter how small that movement is. But this morning when I weighed in I had lost 2.2 pounds this week. Most of my weeks are between 1 and 1.8, I have such a hard time getting all the way to 2.0 and to go beyond that really made my day.

I have been participating in the 3N1 program at my local YMCA. It is a three month program. You meet with a trainer and they set up a workout for you, at the end of 30 days you meet again for another session and discuss new goals and additional workouts. I have finished my first thirty days and have an appointment this morning for the next month's workouts. Originally Kip and I had discussed the fact that I wanted to join a gym, but I had planned to do that at 50 pounds lost. I was walking on the treadmill almost every day here at home and having some success but knew if I could vary the exercise and add in some strength training that I could get to my goal sooner. I was feeling stronger and decided to join the Y after about 28 pounds. It was hard to go in that first day. There are many days that I am the biggest person in there. I know six months ago I would have let that stop me from going. I also know that one of the reasons that I wanted to wait until I had lost 50 pounds was so that I would be a more acceptable size (for me) to be working out in a gym. Almost as if I deserved it if I could get to that goal on my own. Not only is my body changing but I am having to change my way of thinking. That's a hard one to do. I think it is so odd that I felt that I would be judged by the "skinny people" because I was so big and working out. But I was the one judging them, judging them that they would be critical of me. Not to mention the fact that I don't know where any of those people started their journey. Maybe they were large too and all that exercise had turned them into the "skinny people" that I was afraid of and judging. Mind shift. Huge mind shift going on right now in my head.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I survived

I survived my nine days out of town with my parents. Ever since I have been home I have been zapped for energy so I haven't been online as much. I had a plan for going out of town and for the most part I stuck with it. I did make it to the Y while I was there. I did eat out a little more that I had planned but I feel that I made great choices for those meals. I looked up nutritional information before we went to the restaurant and made my choices even before we got there. So even though I was out of my routine I still lost a little over a pound that week.

Another reason that I haven't been online much is because I have really upped my exercise time. I feel my body getting stronger and am finally to the point that I feel better after a long workout and I look forward to working out. I am tired of being fat and know that the more calories I burn the faster I can leave those pounds behind. I have finished my first month of the exercise plan at the Y and have an appointment with a trainer to get my second month's workout.

Kip and I decided to get a grill. We haven't had a working grill since we got married so this is an entirely different was of cooking for us. We are having a lot of fun. I am going to working on grilling a pizza in the near future.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Traveling

I decided to come and hang out with my parents for a week. I think this is the longest period of time that I have spent in my hometown since moving away about 18 years ago, and I know the longest period of time that I have been out of town without Kip since we got married. I have gone away without him for the weekend and he has taken a business trip or two without me, but I think they were all shorter than a week. I am helping Mom with some projects around the house. We are making some real progress.
Traveling of course brings along it's own challenges when one is trying to eat healthy and especially when trying to lose weight. I made a meal plan before leaving and brough some food with me that I was afraid that I might have trouble finding. I had brought some organic fruits to bring too but forgot them. At least Kip will have lots of fruit to snack on this week! I was happy to find an Earth Fare store in Chattanooga which allowed me to buy the rest of the foods that I needed for my meal plan. My Mom and I are popcorn fanatics so I was happy to be able to find some organic popping corn for our snacks this week. Shopping at Earth Fare was great, I would love it if that could be my regular grocery store. At least I know that I can shop closer to Mom and Dad's and don't have to bring so much with me each time.
One of the challenges of being here though is that my parents eat out a lot. Like most of their meals. I have gone out for some meals with them at places where I know I can get a healthier meal but avoided the fast food breakfasts and lunches by sticking with my meal plan. I have managed to get in some exercise since I can work out at the Y here using their AWAY program. I have stuck to my meal plan pretty well too and haven't visited every single one of my favorite resturants here in my home town.
In the last post I mentioned the challenge I had joined to burn off 4500 calories in exercise last week. I am happy, and a little shocked, to say that I met that challenge and even exceeded it a little. Here are my totals:
Monday-770
Tuesday-803
Wednesday-1,148
Thursday-237
Friday-1,240
Saturday-177
Sunday-395
Total-4,770
So I made it. I have been trying to get a walk in before leaving for work every day and going to the Y 4-5 days a week after work. Thursdays are kind of a rest day since I work late on that day and only do the morning walk. Sundays we have been going bowling a lot but since I am out of town I didn't have that calorie burn. I will be doing this challenge again. I love the idea of having a specific calorie range to burn. I weighed in on Saturday instead of Monday this week so that I could get it recorded on the scale I have been weighing on. My total for last week was 1.2 lbs and I am very happy with that.
When I got to my parents my Mom had bought me some shorts at a yard sale. They fit! Most all of my shorts are starting to get pretty baggy so I was happy to get some that actually fit and I don't have to wear a belt. I hate hate hate wearing a belt!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Insanity??

I use an app on my iPhone called Lose It! that allows me to log all my food and exercise on the go. I love this app because I am a bit of a tech nerd and love little electronic gadgets of any kind. I have tried logging my food plenty of times but forget more often than not. I am never without my phone so I have no excuse to not log my food. Since I log more often I have become very aware of the calories I consume. A few months ago I discovered their website and the forums. I have made several friends on there and the encouragement is awesome! One of the forums had a topic challenging the participants to burn 4500 calories in exercise this week. This is where the insanity comes in, I decided to join that challenge!

I have been setting goals for myself in regard to how many times a week I will exercise and the duration of the exercise sessions. I never thought to challenge myself by calories burned. I am more than a little competitive so I knew I would kill myself to meet that 4500 calories. That challenge has made me get up and walk for a least a half hour before going to work every day. That challenge made me go for an extra 10-15 minutes on the elliptical machine this week. That challenge made me decide that after finishing my 45 minuted on the elliptical to get on the stationary bike for 15 minutes. I am on track to meet this goal and am actually starting to enjoy my workouts a little. Here are my totals so far this week (M-SU):
Monday: 770 calories
Tuesday: 803 calories
Wednesday: 1,148 calories
Thursday: 237 calories (Thurs are a rest day, I only do the morning walk)

Who would have thought I would be here enjoying exercising?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We have Carrots!


I was so happy when I got to the site to pick up my CSA share this week. We have carrots! I have always loved carrots and didn't realize that I would be getting some already. This week we also got garlic scapes, garlic, swiss chard, parsley, spearmint, green onions radishes, and lettuce. Yummy!

I am still working out on a regular basis. Last week I lost another 1.8 lbs. That seems to be a very popular number for me, I have had several weeks with that as my total. I have been working out on average 5-6 days each week. This week I joined an online exercise challenge and the challenge is to burn off 4500 calories in exercise. Yikes! That is way above what I have been doing but I decided to give it a try. Yesterday was pretty good, I burned 770 between walking, the elliptical machine and the weight machines.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Shrimp Mix


I made this for dinner one night and Kip ended up working late so he didn't have any that night. It wasn't until "leftover night" that he tried it. He told me later that it did not look appealing at all but he was willing to try some. He was surprised with how delicious it was. It was a throw together meal made up of ingredients that I had on hand. He has been a pretty good sport with all the food changed that have been going on here, he has even eaten lima beans and brussel sprouts. I have to admire his willingness to try all the new foods but especially the foods that he had previously decided he didn't like.

Shrimp Mix
1/2 onion, sliced
1 tbs. olive oil
4 oz. sliced mushrooms
2-3 cups fresh spinach
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
small bag of frozen corn, partially defrosted
1 bag frozen shrimp, defrosted, tails removed
1/3 cup mayo
1 tsp. dried dill
whole wheat pasta

Saute onions in olive oil about 5 minutes, add mushrooms and spinach and continue to saute until tender and spinach cooks down some. In the meantime, combine may and dill in a small bowl, set aside. Add artichokes and corn to the veggie mixture and cook until corn is heated though, add shrimp and cook until shrimp is warm. Remove from heat and stir in mayo/dill mixture. Serve with whole wheat pasta.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I did it

I joined the Y.

I have been talking about it for several weeks. I finally did it. I have a treadmill here at home and have been having success on my own but I wanted to be able to have some more variety and to have the option to be able to work out with weights or strength machines. It feel a little weird, thinking of joining a gym at my size and fitness level. It seems like a lot of effort to change clothes, drive there, park, get out, walk in and then to only be able to exercise for 15-20 minutes. I know that time will increase as will my endurance and stamina. I knew losing this weight would not be a quick thing. I am happy to be able to see progress in way other than the number that stares back at me on the scale. I know that I am eating healthier and 85-90% of my food choices are foods that contribute to a healthier me. Most of my clothes are baggy and so far I can wear almost all the clothes that were too tight or unwearable last year. I feel more energetic. I am continuing my journey to becoming a healthier person.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Scream, You Scream....


We all scream for ICE CREAM!! Well I certainly do anyway. I love ice cream and frozen fruit bars. Love, love love them, more than almost any other foods. Especially as the weather gets warmer I find myself wanting them several times a day. Since I am making most everything else, I decided to give my own a try. I can control the ingredients and hopefully lower the calorie count. Even is the calories are the same, I know exactly what all went into them. Here are a couple of different ones I have made. I love this set most of all in part because of the cool design , but I really like that the base is bigger and easier to hold on to. If you know where I could find one of these, let me know because I would love to have another set. Any way, the one on the right is just watermelon juice with some watermelon chunks and the one on the left is a Chocolate/Peanut Butter/ Banana pop.

Last weekend we were in the mall which is a pretty rare occurrence for us. If we go to this particular mall I have to go and lust after all the things in the Williams-Sonoma store. I only enjoy shopping in three types of stores; book stores, craft stores and kitchen stores. So we are walking around and I am mentally finding homes in my kitchen for all these tools when I saw a Zoku frozen pop maker. This thing makes frozen pops in as few as 7 minutes! I think I am in love! It is like my ice cream maker, it has a base that can be kept in the freezer and then you can just pull it out and make pops in just minutes. Check out their website, their pops are so pretty. I keep telling myself that I really don't need another kitchen thing, but that one is pretty awesome and I think one needs to live at my house where it would gets lots of love and attention.


Frozen Chocolate/Peanut Butter/ Banana Treat
(makes 3-4, depending on the size of your tray)

1 Banana
2 tbs. peanut butter
2 tbs. chocolate syrup
1/4 cup chocolate almond milk

Puree all ingredients and pour into molds and freeze.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Mental Journey

I am coming to realize how much of the journey is dependent on my mental image of myself. If you will remember, back in September I wrote a post entitled "30 Things I Wish You Knew About My Invisible Illness". It was an impulsive thing that I did but it has literally changed my life. It was after that post that I started to realize my own strength. Having always seen myself as weak and broken, this was a startling revelation for me. I am still trying to process all that this means and am trying to incorporate this new reality into my every day life and more importantly, into my way of thinking. But it is hard not to go back to the negative ways of thinking. I still can't do everything that I would like to do but I am becoming more willing to at least try instead of giving up before even starting.

Learning that I am strong enough has helped me start exercising again. That knowledge has given me the strength to continue on this weight loss journey without giving up because "I just can't".

Here is an exciting development: I am now officially down 10% from my starting weight. I see my doctor every six months for med checks and she told me at the last visit that she would love to see me down 10% at my next visit. I have already met that challenge and I don't go back until August. Now I am working on losing 10% of my current weight.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bento Lunch


Here is another bento lunch that Samantha and I had this week. I really enjoy going to eat lunch with her at school and do so as often as I can. I usually don't tell her I am coming so that it is a surprise. I try and so something different every time, making sure I include her some of her favorite foods. I didn't want to go to the store so I improvised. I had some salmon so I cooked that and then broke it up with some green onions and mayo and then filled the jumbo shells with that mixture. There was a lemon wedge to squeeze over that and some corn in the top tier. The bottom tier has a hard boiled egg, some blueberries and cheese kabobs, tomatoes and carrots with hummus as a dip for the veggies.

I am linking to the What's for Lunch Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Victory

May is always an incredibly busy month for me and this one has been no exception. The first weekend I went to Cleveland to deliver some supplies to the tornado relief going on there, the second one was Mother's Day, my birthday was on the 16th and my nephews Cole and Silas had birthdays on the 22nd and 23rd. So in the last three weeks I have been on the road, celebrated three birthdays and Mother's Day. AND I STILL LOST WEIGHT! The numbers weren't as high as they had been being but I would have been happy just staying put. To see a reduction means, to me, that I am really incorporating the healthy changes I have been making. I did meet my goal of losing 30 lbs before my birthday. More importantly, I was able to run around the aquarium in Chattanooga chasing a four year old and had no problem keeping up with him. A very proud moment was when he decided to run up a very large staircase, across the viewing podium and down the other side, I was able to run behind him and wasn't out of breath. Becoming healthy is feeling good!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Update and a Bento


I lost .8 of a lb. last week. I am not disappointed with that because it is still progress. I taught a couple of classes this weekend and that ended up throwing off my eating schedule a little. That plus a couple of fast food meals. Normally I plan better than that though!

I have my bento lunch pictured above. I have a tuna salad wrapped in a tortilla with some spinach leaves, some strawberries and grapes in the top tier and a tossed salad in the bottom tier. I am linking this bento to What's For Lunch Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dancing, A Goal Met, Update

First off, the good news, I lost another 1.6 lbs last week. I am starting to really notice a huge difference in the way I feel. Other people are starting to notice the weight loss too. That feels good. I wanted to be 30 lbs lighter on my birthday and I am on track to do that. Monday is my birthday and weigh in day and I plan on hitting that number. I am excited about that too.

Kip bought an Kinect for the XBox the other day. It's pretty interesting. In addition to the sports game that came with it he bought one of the dance games. Talk about fun! I NEVER dance in front of anyone, not EVER. But we both did the other night. He has been playing with it more than I have but it is just another way of getting in some activity so that all our exercise doesn't feel like work. On Sunday instead of sitting around and watching TV after dinner we got the random idea to go bowling instead. Of course I had my coupon but they have a Sunday night special that included shoe rental and three hours of bowling. I think we bowled 5 games. Since it was only the two of us it was a pretty quick turn around so we were moving pretty much constantly. We had already eaten dinner so we weren't tempted by all the deep fried snack bar food and we had a couple of hours of movement and FUN!

Another goal I have been working on is improving my overall fitness. I have been walking on the treadmill pretty regularly and have been gradually increasing my speed and the distance I am walking. I have finally worked up to the distance of a 5K (3.1 miles). Not only am I walking that much, but I am doing it in less than an hour. Slightly less, but still less than an hour. One of the goals for the year is to enter a 5K so I am pretty happy with that.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cheese Crackers


Kip and I both LOVE cheese crackers. But since I am trying to learn how to make a lot of the products that I used to buy I went on an internet search for a homemade version. WOW!! These were amazingly good and will be made many, many more times in my kitchen. Not too often though because they are absolutely addicting and they didn't last very long around the house. I rolled some out thin and they were very crispy and delicious and some I rolled out a little thinker and they were delicious too. For snacking on, I loved the crispier ones but I think the thicker ones would be great to serve with homemade tomato soup.

It was funny Samantha was over here on the day I was making them. She loved them too and has stopped asking why am I making instead of buying things. Her answer is always "it tastes better to make your own". When her mom arrived to pick her up she ran to the kitchen and came back with one hand full of crackers and the other hand had one cracker. She offered the one cracker to her mom to taste and kept the rest for herself!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bento Box Friday x 2


I have gotten Samantha hooked on bentos. She loves coming over and will spend quite a while looking at different bentos online that other people have made. Every time she is over here, we spend some time looking at different blogs dedicated to bentos. Mine are normally pretty plain comparatively speaking. She keeps telling me to keep practicing and one day mine can look like some of the ones she has seen. I saw this adorable bento on Happy Little Bento last week and I knew Samantha would love it. I usually make her a sushi roll of some sort when I make her lunch because her mom and sister don't care for it very much. The top tier has the sushi rolls and some extra shrimp along with some ladybugs made with grape tomatoes and nori. he bottom tier is a fruit salad with strawberries, cantaloupe, and pineapple and some extra tomatoes, cucumbers and mushrooms. She also had some dip for her vegetables.


My nephew Jacob loves wraps, especially mine for some reason. I am not sure why he thinks mine are so special, they are pretty basic, but that is what he always requests when I bring him lunch. This one is a whole wheat tortilla with a little cream cheese, some spinach and turkey. I added some carrots and cucumber slices. The top tier is the same fruit salad that is in Samantha's along with some celery stuffed with homemade peanut butter.

Speaking of bento sites I regularly read, Adventures in Bentomaking, is sponsoring a contest to win a rice cooker. As we have been eating healthier and I have been cooking from scratch more and more, rice has been making more of an appearance on my menus. I have been looking at rice cookers for a while and would love the chance to win one. If you would too, go and check out the review of the one she did!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursday's Bento


I don't always pack a lunch for myself to take to work since I only work half a day, but I was going to be working late today so I packed myself a bento to take with me. One tied holds mixed greens and chicken strips and the top one has a fruit salad of cantaloupe, fresh pineapple and strawberries; on the other side of the divider is some white cheddar cheese, the crackers to eat with the cheese is in a separate bag. After the first bento I made I learned that crackers get very soggy in with the other foods! I am going to try and eat lunch with Samantha tomorrow so I will probably have another bento to show. I found a cute idea that I am going to try and recreate for hers. I don't do cute unless I am making bentos for Samantha.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fresh Ingredients


It's been a couple of months since I started paying more attention to the food that I put into my body and trying to eliminate most of the processed food from my diet. Eating out is not happening as often either. I have enjoyed cooking and did cook most nights. We still ate out 2-3 times a week though. Now, we might eat one lunch out every other week or so and maybe one dinner in that same time period. Those nights I would cook, I would alternate between cooking something from scratch and boxed or packaged meals. Now nothing really comes from a box and I am making leftovers or freezing things for those times when I need a convenience meal.

One thing I have noticed is that I almost never cook a meal with out using my cutting board. Almost every night I see this gorgeous array of natural colors. I have also started using some ingredients that I have never used before like the fennel in the picture above. I have used fennel seed lots of time but I have never used a fresh bulb of fennel. Another thing I have been learning to cook is lamb and those veggies about went into the lamb stew I made last week.

Weight update: last week I lost 1.8 pounds which officially puts me over 25 lbs lost and well on my way to 30!

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Foods

One thing I am loving about my new way of eating is discovering new foods or at least new ways of using those foods. I love marinated artichokes, but I have always bought them in those little glass jars and I have never had or cooked a fresh artichoke. A couple of friends and I were shopping at Whole Foods on Monday and they were working on the artichoke display. The gentleman that was working there was kind enough to tell me how to cook them so I grabbed a couple. Wow, those were really good! On Tuesdays, Samantha comes over after her dance class and eats dinner with me. She loves to try new foods and likes to eat here because, according to her, "the food here is more exciting". She had eaten one once before but she had to share it. I told her I made her one that was just for her. that was one happy girl! She ate the entire thing. they were pretty good. I made a dipping sauce with some lite mayo, some dill and some cracked pepper. Pretty tasty!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday, Monday

Interesting week this week. I didn't lose any weight, in fact I gained a little over a pound. I know I stayed pretty on track with me eating and I did exercise. Maybe it is hormonal or water retention or something, who knows. I have noticed a pattern so far with m weight loss. I have two good weeks of loss, one of no loss and one of a very small loss. Since my goal is to become a healthier person I am choosing to look at the positive changes I have noticed over the past couple of weeks. My clothes are starting to get a little baggier and I am able to wear some shirts that I haven't been able to wear for a while. I can tell that I am stronger when I walk/job. I am able to stay on the treadmill longer and I am walking at a faster pace. Even though the scale didn't go in the right direction I know that I am still making progress.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Homemade Crackers


I keep looking for ways to replace a lot of the processed foods that we eat around the house. My Dad and I were talking a while back about a restaurant that we used to eat at that would serve fresh crackers as an appetizer while you were waiting on your food. Ever since that conversation, I have been thinking about how delicious they were. I had some free time one afternoon last week and decided to look for a recipe. I found several but this one for whole wheat crackers seemed to the be easiest. You can season them however you want, to keep them simple I just sprinkled some sea salt on top. How were they? In a word, DELICIOUS! I was impressed and so was Kip. We ended up eating them with some hummus that I had made earlier. These will definitely be made again in my house! They weren't that hard to make and the seasoning possibilities are endless. I am imagining these with some rosemary seasoning with fresh tomato soup, or some caraway and an Indian inspired dish. You were supposed to cut them into squares before baking but I left them whole and broke them apart after they were done because that is the way that I remember that restaurant serving them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Milestone

I hit a milestone this week in my weight loss. I finally hit the 25 lb mark. I am 25 lbs lighter than I was three and a half months ago. I feel better. I have more energy. I am very proud of myself and feel like I have really accomplished something. In the past when I get to this point, I have tended to slack up some and try and rationalize bad choices because "I've worked so hard and I deserve a reward". Anyone else done this? And then my treats start becoming bad habits and then I start gaining again. I have decided that this time will be different. Since my goal is to be healthy not just lose weight, I really don't have any foods that I have decided are off limits. I do try and look at everything as a choice.

I have worked very hard and I do deserve something. I deserve to live a healthy life. I am worth the trouble and the extra time that it takes to make sure I always have healthy food choices available. That is what I deserve.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

YEE-HAW!!!!!!!

If you live anywhere within the vicinity of my house this morning, you probably heard some happy yelps. I had a bit of extra time so I decided to see how much longer it would be before I could slip into the next smaller size of jeans. You know the ones that haven't been work in almost two years because I "outgrew" them. First test was passed when I could pull them all the way up. Second test was when I went to see how close I could come to getting them buttoned and they buttoned with no effort!!! Third test was passes when I tried to inhale and I could breath normally!!! I wore the jeans all day to work and some shopping. I am a happy girl today. Getting in those jeans this morning was the incentive I needed to push my walking workout to the next time goal. Yea me!!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kale Chips


I joined a local CSA this year and I noticed that one of the crops that I will be receiving a share of is kale. I don't think I have ever eaten kale and I know I have never cooked with it so I have been looking for different ways of preparing it. I have been seeing lots of references to kale chips on several blogs lately so I decided to give them a whirl. They are super easy to make and kale is supposed to be really good for you. Mine are sprinkled with a little sea salt and garlic powder. I have to say they are pretty interesting. They were pretty good and since salty, crunchy things are usually my snack of choice, I think these will work for me. Samantha was here last night and she really liked them. She started eating the kale as soon as I washed it and wasn't sure she liked it or not but she ate a ton of the chips. I thought it was pretty funny she finished eating all the chips in her bowl except two. When her mom got her to pick her up she brought the chips out and gave one to her mom to try and ate the last one herself. Since I have been eliminating processed food so has enjoyed seeing what healthy snacks I can come up with. I have a little gadget that makes potato chips in the microwave and she really loves those.

I lost .6 lbs this week. Not as good a number as I would like to have seen, but it was still some weight loss so I am happy with that.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bento Box Friday


When Samantha was over here the other night, she reminded me that I haven't brought her a Bento Box lunch in a couple of weeks and could I bring one soon. I was off today so I decided to have lunch with her at school. For lunch we had: (top tier) grilled salmon, asparagus, rice balls and a heart shaped hard boiled egg. (Bottom tier) was strawberries, grapes and blueberries, some carrot sticks, zucchini sticks, broccoli and mushrooms with some spicy ranch dressing to dip the vegetables in. Mine was pretty much the same but I had regular rice, not rice balls with happy faces. I included the egg because I just recently got the molds for that. We also had another container that had some sliced oranges. Another bento lunch that earned me two thumbs up!

I am linking this to the "What's For Lunch Wednesday". Lots of great ideas for you to check out!


Once when I was making salmon for dinner Samantha asked what was for dinner and I told her "salmon". She said "Oooh, goodie! That's my favorite kind of chicken!" I always think of that when I serve her salmon too. And I guess this was the first time she had asparagus, her mom asked her what she ate for dinner and she thought about it for a few seconds and then said "Ms. Gina gave me hibiscus and it was good". I always remember that with a smile.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another Successful Week

I was doing the happy dance when I weighed yesterday. I lost 2.6 lbs last week. I think that is funny since that is exactly what I lost the week before too. I was very happy with that both weeks because I have not been doing a lot of cardio exercises. I gave my leg all week to recover so even though I have been doing yoga/stretches, I haven't been walking or running. I have been very careful about my calories though.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Great Week

I am happy to see the scale moving in a downward direction again! I lost 2.6 pounds last week. Since my leg is still bothering me I haven't be able to get in as much waling/running this week and was afraid that would show on the scale. That officially puts me at the 20 lb. mark

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Week's Progress/Grocery Shopping

My leg is still hurting, but it is better. I tried to run yesterday and that is just not happening right now, no way, no how. The first step I took confirmed that for me. Oh well, I am now behind on my 5K training, but not giving up. I lost 1 lb. last week. I thought it would be a little more than that, but a pound is a pound so I will take it!

I went grocery shopping with my SIL last night. What a hoot that was. She had asked if we could go together since some of the foods I have been eating in my quest to be healthier she was not familiar with. She is also wanting to start using coupons more and since she knows I try to use them whenever I can, she wanted some tips. I am very organized about some things and she tends to go on all cylinders and is a tad forgetful. We met at the front of the store and I have my reusable shopping bags, my cloth produce bags and my coupon organizer. She has her wallet. And that is it, she forgot her coupons. Even after sending her husband to the store to get an extra paper. We went through the store and I showed her what I was buying and showed her where some new (to her) things were and told her how to prepare them. She was game to a point but there was no convincing her to get ground turkey or to try edamame.

The healthier I am eating, the harder I am finding it to be able to use coupons. I have been making my own tomato sauces, salad dressings and as many other things as I can. Most of my shopping is done in the produce/organic/meat and baking aisle. Not too many coupons there! I did manage to save $15.85 in coupons though and even was nice enough to share some of my coupons with my SIL.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ouch!

Not sure what is going on with my left calf muscle, but it really hurts! I did walk/jog yesterday and stretched before starting. Several hours after my workout though I was walking across the dining room and felt a sharp stabbing pain in my leg. It is slightly better than it was last night but I still have a very noticeable limp when I walk. If it doesn't get better I am going to have to figure out some other exercises to do.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Week 1 Complete

Well I did it without collapsing! Today was the last training day of my first week on the Couch to 5K program. I have been trying to exercise pretty consistently but adding in the jogging really pushed my endurance level. I completed it though and I feel really good about that. I feel like I have accomplished something. Not only in the fitness area, but proving to myself that I am strong enough to do it. If you have read this very often you know that learning that I am strong has been a recent development for me. It is amazing how different it feels. I am still trying to incorporate that into my daily thinking and actions.

Food wise I have been doing pretty good too. I have stuck with my planned meals and snacks and have stayed within my alloted calorie range each day. I only record my weight on Mondays but I have stepped on the scale a time or two and the number is slightly lower. Even better is that I am able to wear several shirts that I could not wear at the beginning of winter. Everyone keeps asking me if I have new clothes. The kind of sad part is, some of those shirts are brand new. I bought what I thought was my size and then came home and they didn't fit and I was too disgusted with myself to take them back. It feels GREAT to wear those shirts.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday/Thursday

I am happy to say that I made it through Day 3 of my Couch to 5K training. My SIL is too funny, we have made this into a competition, not to see who runs the fastest or anything like that, just a competition to actually do it. I get home earlier than she does so after I did mine I texted her to tell her I was finished. When she got home she said she went straight downstairs and did it before doing anything else. Even though she was tired and wanted to not run/walk, she wasn't about to let me get a day ahead of her in training! That's great, I think I may have stumbled onto the perfect motivation here.

Day 3 had us walking for 5 minutes, jogging for 2 minutes and then walking for 5 minutes. I didn't stretch very well evidently. The walk was fine but I could not make it to 2 minutes at a jog. Could. Not. Do. It. My legs were cramping so I stopped at 1 min and 37 seconds because I could not go on any more. I did finish up with the 5 minute walk though. I sat down and rested for about 15 minutes then got up, stretched some more and did it again. I walked 5, jogged 2 and then walked for 5 more. I knew Jenny would get it done and I had the same response, I didn't want her to get a day ahead of me, not this early in the game.

My eating has been very healthy and the scale has started a favorable downward move again and that makes me happy and helps keep me motivated. Today is a rest day on the training program, but that is just a rest from the walking/running. One the days I am not doing that I am doing some weight training exercises for my arms and about 20-25 minutes of yoga.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Upping the Fitness Goals

I had such a great time with my SIL this weekend. We got together because she was wanting to know more about some of the changes I have made in my eating, especially regarding the weight loss. It is a little weird that the scale isn't really moving that much but my clothes are fitting differently. I am able to wear shirts that I haven't been able to wear in a long time and I have to wear a belt with almost all my jeans. I like that they are baggy, but I hate wearing a belt. Anyway I told her one of the absolute important things that I have been doing is planning all of my meals and snacks for an entire week at a time. That saves me some money at the grocery store and since I know what I am eating I am not tempted to run out for fast food just because there is "nothing to eat". We also spent some time talking about exercising and I told her my goal of participating in a 5K before the end of the year. Every April Nashville hosts the Music City Marathon. To get kids involved and excited about fitness, many schools participate in the "kid's marathon". They log miles at school with a sponsor and then they complete their last mile downtown on race day. Both my niece and nephew are participating this year. When I told her my goal she thought that sounded doable and would help keep us accountable so we challenged each other to do the From Couch to 5K program. We are both a little competitive so hopefully this will keep up on the training schedule. As we were talking we decided this would be a great thing for the whole extended family to do so we called and challenged my in-laws too. We are all in our own homes trying to live healthier lives. Jenny and I set the goal for the entire family to be able to compete in a 5K together before the end of the year as a healthy family.

One thing that I have really focused on is getting out of the mindset of skinny vs. fat. My goal isn't to be skinny or to not be fat, my goal is to replace all my unhealthy habits with healthy ones and I am really trying to change the way I think about that.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yikes

It's been a little while! I am in the middle of several projects around the house and haven't been spending too much time on the computer. Good news though, my kitchen is almost done! My weight loss seems to have slowed down. I know some of the reasons why and hopefully have made some corrections. One reason is that I have spent so much time working on household projects that I haven't made exercise a priority. I know I need to exercise, not only to boost my weight loss, but to be healthy I need more exercise. So how am I planning to fix that? I am just making it one of the items on my daily to do list. I have started using a daily list for a lot of things and decided that exercise needs to be on there, because if it is on the list and I see it, I am more likely to do it. I am one of those people that gets some satisfaction of actually marking things off my list. Another reason is that as I am reading more and educating myself more and more about the food I eat, I have been eating more "real" foods. Real bacon, not turkey bacon, real maple syrup, not maple flavored syrup, butter not margarine, and real fruit mixed in my yogurt, not fruit flavored yogurt. I haven't been always checking out the nutritional information to find the correct portion size and calorie content. I am focusing more on making sure I am serving myself more correct portion sizes.

Grocery deal of the week. First let me share this little tidbit that I have never noticed before. I started buying the individual frozen chicken breasts for convenience back when I was single and just continued because they were so convenient. I knew the cost per pound was higher that wholes chickens, but I was willing to pay extra for the convenience. What I didn't realize was that those often came with this printed on the bag "enhanced with up to 15% chicken broth". That was on the brand that I buy. From my reading, I learned that some brands add up to 20% of water or broth in their chicken. So that total weight that I thought I was buying that I carefully calculated down to the ounce to see which stretched my dollar budget more? Yeah, I was basically paying for some water and some chicken. It irks me too because when you see that word enhanced, you think it's been made better. Well selling me chicken pumped up with water or broth makes me feel like I am getting even less for my money and the only thing enhanced is someone else's bottom line. So even though it takes more prep I have started using chicken with the bones still in it. I have been looking for the organic hormone free chicken but the price was often out of my budget range. When I went shopping this week, I found some that was on sale for a more than half off which made the organic stuff cheaper than the other stuff. Because this is what I want to start using, I bought all 7 packages that were in the display case to freeze and use later.

I have been doing lots of label and ingredient reading as I am making the changes to become a healthier person. I am trying to eat only real stuff and have been eliminating most all convenience foods. It does take me a little longer to shop, but that is getting better as I am familiarizing myself with healthier brands and ingredients. It also takes me a little longer to cook. One thing I am doing to help with that is to make extras and using leftovers. Like if I know I am having brown rice as a side dish one night and then a couple of nights later I am using it as a base for a stir fry, I will cook extra rice so that I am cooking it only once a week. Same thing with some veggies and quiona. As these new methods are becoming more routine it is getting easier and a little faster.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bento Box Friday

When I first started trying to incorporate healthier foods in my diet, I was doing a Google search for healthy lunches and found all these cool Bento boxes. I started looking at them more and more and even got Samantha kind of hooked on them. I have made her several but mine aren't nearly as decorative as the ones she has been seeing online. She keeps telling me to practice and one day mine will look that good too. You have got to love the faith that an eight year old can have in you! I finally ordered her an actual bento box and also ordered some of the decorative picks and things that we have seen with so many of these boxes. She didn't know that I had ordered them so it was a surprise when I showed up at school for lunch today. I pulled it out of the bag and she knew exactly what it was as soon as she saw it. She said she couldn't believe she had a real bento box. Too cute! Any way, our lunch was a whole wheat pasta salad with chicken and some tomatoes and cucumbers, a salad with some tomato "balloons" and some ranch dressing for dipping and then the top tier was some Pepper Jack cheese and pepperoni kabobs and some orange slices. Since this one had some actual decorative touches I got a thumbs up for creativity as well as the selection of foods I brought her. I only took a picture of hers since it looked so much nicer in her bento box than mine looked.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Milk

I have been thinking of switching from regular cow milk to another product. Kip and I were talking the other night and somehow we got on the topic of buying and using raw milk. Neither of us were sure what the benefits vs. the cons would be. And if you know me at all, that means as soon as I can get my fingers on something I am going to look it up. So I did some reading on the subject and then some more reading on milk in general. It was pretty interesting and it reminded me that I had been thinking about switching. Not sure which route I will end up going with; soy, almond, rice or coconut or even sticking with the milk that I currently drink. I bought some almond milk a week or so but it has just been sitting there. I did finish off the milk that I had on hand before wanting to try it. I had some on my cereal this morning and was surprised that I liked it as much as I did. I think I can do that. I will probably still try the other kinds and then pick a favorite from there. 

I am trying to not throw away everything in the pantry and fridge/freezer as I am eliminating processed foods. The main reason is that I can't really justify to myself throwing away the money that I spent buying it in the first place. There isn't that much left and I will add it to a meal here and there just to use it up. But is one of them shows up in a meal it will typically be the only processed thing on the menu that night.

Anyone else drink a milk alternative?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weekly Weigh in 1/24

Better this week, I lost 2.0 pounds. Still following my eating plan pretty closely and slowly adding in more and more real foods and eliminating artificial ones. I went grocery shopping yesterday and it took ma even longer than usual because in addition to price comparison I read every label of every product I put in the cart. Some things I don't know if I will be able to completely stop buying. Like crackers. I know those can be made, but I think that is a project for later after I have mastered a few other items. Last night for dinner we had refried beans, tortillas, corn and then the usual fixings for tacos. The refried beans were made from dried beans and cooked in the crock pot over night and weren't actually refried so they had no lard or oil in them. The salsa was made and canned by my Dad from items grown in his garden. For the first time, I attempted to make my own tortillas. For a first time thing they weren't bad. They were too thick though, next time I will know to roll them out thinner. I found a new recipe for ranch dressing so I am making that to go with dinner tonight. It is interesting all the things I used to buy, I have started looking at differently. I am leaning there is a recipe for everything on the internet!

I went to the doctor yesterday for my 6 month check up on my blood pressure. It is staying in the normal range on medication. I really want to get to the point that I no longer need it though. We are also trying a higher dose of the medication I take for my back, increasing it by 25 mg. Hopefully that will give me even more relief. As it is, I can tell a difference. It does not take away the pain or really diminish it that much. What it does do is keep me at my base pain level for a longer period of time and allow me a longer period of time of functioning. Keeping my fingers crossed for more pain relief too!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Dinner

This was our third week of "Sunday Dinner" and the second week that we invited people over to eat with us. I wish I had taken a picture of the table. I pulled out the china and then each place setting had their own napkin and napkin ring. It looked cute. I cooked Chicken Pot Pie, mashed potatoes, home made rolls and an apple/avocado salad. It was pretty good. Not as healthy as I have been eating, but that was in the plan. I invited my friends L & C and I knew when I invited them that I would have to make a pot pie. C tells everyone that I make the best chicken pot pie in the world. I did use a commercial pie crust and the potatoes were instant. I am slowly phasing out all the prepared stuff but in the interest of not throwing away food (and money), I am trying to use what is in the pantry. I am replacing them with more whole food and more basic options. 

Friday night I made BBQ Chicken Pizza. It was my first attempt to make a whole wheat crust. I was pretty happy with the result. The recipe said that it would make 2 thin or one thick crust. Normally when I use my large baking stone, I use the full recipe and it is kind of a medium thickness. This one was a little thicker than what we like, so the next time I make it I will only use half of it. Oh, but it was delicious!

I have some beans cooking in the crock pot for tomorrow nights dinner. I am going to make refried beans and attempt to make tortillas. That should be an adventure! The beans are a healthier version and aren't actually refried and don't have a lot of the calories that commercial beans have. Tomorrow is weigh in day!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Eating Out

One thing I am trying to do to be healthy is limit the meals that I eat in restaurants. I have been making a detailed menu and the sticking with it which helps with that late afternoon "I don't want to cook" feeling. Since I am following the meal plan that I made and shopped for I have been less tempted. I am really trying to make sure I eat foods where I know what the ingredients are. For the longest time I did not realize that restaurants added butter to steaks and other meats. I thought they just cooked theirs better than I did and theirs stayed tender while mine were more dried out. That butter really packs on the calories too!

I remember when I was growing up we didn't eat out a lot. Sometimes on Sundays after church and then an occasional Friday night or so. As I got older we ate out more, but when I was younger it was a real treat. If you drew a circle about two miles around my house there are probably at least 40 restaurants. There are times when Kip will ask where I want to eat and none of them sound appealing. I would like to get back to where eating out is a little special and is actually something to look forward to. 

We are having another Sunday Dinner this weekend and will be having four additional guests. I am having so much fun with this, planning the menus and pulling out some of my serving dishes that haven't been used in a long time. I didn't do this for our first one, but I am going to start setting the table using real linens and everything to make it feel even a little more special. We are celebrating friendships so that certainly deserves the good stuff!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekly weigh in 1/17

Hmmm, not really sure what happened this week but the scale stayed the same. I have been making healthy choices and I have exercised too. If I were on Biggest Loser, it would be the dreaded Week 2 weigh in which is pretty notorious for low numbers. I am not discouraged, at least it did not go in the opposite direction and I know that I have eaten healthy for the most part. We did eat out twice this week so I don't know if that had anything to do with it or not. But I didn't go crazy at the restaurants either. I enjoyed my meals and probably ate a little more than I should had. I went shopping with my new week's meal plan and got lots of fresh foods. one thing I did do yesterday that wasn't the best for me was making homemade potato chips. I was craving something crunchy and salty. I did make them with a sweet potato though. And I only made one potato that Kip and I split. 

I am kind of on a kick too where I am trying to make as much of the food I eat as possible. I have been making my own salad dressing, made my own chips and  bought the ingredients to start making my own bread. It bothers me that so many of the foods I eat have ingredients that I have no clue as to what they even are. I have also made the last several batches of salsa that we have had too. One the menu for Friday night is a BBQ Chicken Pizza with whole wheat crust and I am going to make the BBQ sauce too.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Healthier Fried Rice

I haven't blogged this week much, but I am still eating healthy and have managed to get it some exercise almost every day. the changes I have been making over the past few months have become more and more routine so that i am not having to think about is as much. I wanted to share this picture of a recipe I made from the Biggest Loser cookbook. It is a brown rice saute filled with veggies and using brown rice. Several months ago I decided I really liked making my own fried rice meals. They are fairly economical and a great way to use up leftovers without having to eat the same meal over and over. I followed this recipe as written with the exception of leaving out the celery. That is one food that I just do not like at all. When I make it again I would do it the same way except I would probably add some mushrooms. Other than that I really liked this healthier version of Fried Rice. Tomorrow is weigh in day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekly Weigh-In

Mondays are my weigh in day for several reasons. Because it's Monday and isn't that the day you start all diet related goals?? Seriously though, having that Monday weigh-in does help keep me on track for the weekend. I know that I don't want to blow an entire week of work on two days of eating so that is a motivation. Another reason is I am logging my food and calories using the Lose It! app on my phone and it resets each week on Monday too. I have learned logging everything really works for me and having something that calculated my calories for me as I go is even better. No chances of adding wrong and accidently over eating or anything like that. Having the app on my phone means my food log is also always with me so it is easier to log everything, I am not forgetting foods like I probably would if I waited and added it all at the end of the day. 

So what's the verdict, how did I do? Drumroll please....I lost 4.8 lbs last week. I am very pleased with that number. I did start the healthy eating and exercise both last week. Because remember, my goal is to be healthy and healthy people gets regular exercise. I want to start establishing that habit as soon as possible.

I live in Tennessee and we don't get a lot of snow. When even flurries are in the weather forecast everyone makes a mad dash to the store to buy milk and bread. We were supposed to get snow last night (and we did) and more through the day and tomorrow too. Mondays are my regular grocery day and I braved all those shoppers last night to make sure I had plenty of fresh food so that I could stick with my eating plan!

One of our other resolutions we are working together this year is bringing back the Sunday Dinner in our lives. We plan to have Sunday Dinner at our house on a regular basis, sometimes alone and sometimes inviting others into our home. We are doing this for several reasons, one of which is that we tend to eat out on Sundays and we are cutting way back on that. The most important reason is that if I make it, I know exactly what is in it. Plus I decided I could make enough food to feed the both of us plus several other people for the same or less than we could buy dinner for two at a sit down restaurant, especially if you add in $2.00 drinks and a tip. Sundays I will not be following my plan as closely but still plan to make wise choices and watch portion sizes. I don't think I will be recording my Sunday meals here (they are logged in my food plan though and calories counted). Yesterday we invited Kip's entire family over to eat with us. It was nice. Normally we do more buffet style, everyone fixing a plate and then eating at the table. Kip decided to put all the food on the table and we passed it around family style. As the food was going around, I thought it was like eating "sunday dinner" with the Waltons or something. 

I am comfortable cooking for large groups and can just as easily cook for 25 as I can two. I have tons of beautiful serving dishes that do not get enough use. I also enjoy cooking for large groups. In our quest to simplify more, I decided having friends into our home more often would make me happy and Kip agreed. One thing I did not do yesterday that I plan on doing more is using my china. We were having chili yesterday and I used the regular dishes mainly because of the size of the bowls. Not everything matched and that was okay because we had a good meal and a great time of fellowship with family. And when it comes down to it, that was what was important and the only thing that mattered. Sunday Dinner at the Lindsay house?Mission accomplished.