Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another update....sharing some news

With one week left to go in the Weight Management class, we had a walk today since many people were off in preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday. Prior to the walk we were able to weigh in and give an update on the number of days that we worked out this week. I weighed in and was very happy with the number.

It wasn't until about midway through the walk that I realized just how much I've lost in these past 10 weeks. I'm officially down 20 lbs. Yup....20 freakin pounds. I'm pretty damned proud of myself too.

That's all for now. I'm going to be working out tomorrow morning and enjoying my Thanksgiving meal. Then back to watching what I'm eating and working out regularly over the weekend. One more week to go with this class. I'm so glad that I took the step and committed to this.

Monday, November 22, 2010 products

I wanted to post a quick update on how the weight loss is coming along. Things are going in the right direction. This weight management class I've been attending is close to wrapping up and I have to say that I am very happy that I took part in it. I've known what I should and should not be doing for a while now, but this was the right push that I needed.

As of last week, I was down 17 pounds. I'm hoping for 3 more by next Wednesday, but if it doesn't happen, I'm quite alright with what I've accomplished. Everything just feels better (well, except for my feet which haven't seen this much running in years). Next Wednesday I will get my body fat and some circumference measurements taken which will really show me how much progress I've made.

I'm not sure how much I mentioned it before, but a big part of this class was food logging. That is, to write down everything that you eat and drink. It was really important for me to do because it made me accountable for how many calories I was consuming in a day. Also it was handy to use as a check that I am getting a well balanced supply of food (grains, veggies, fruits, milk, protein, etc). It's easy to forget some of these categories but its important that you keep them in your meals. Since the class is almost over and I don't see myself food logging for the rest of my life, I'm taking the last two weeks off. I'm still being mindful of what and how much I'm eating, I'm just not writing it down. So far I'm doing well. If I need to manage what I'm doing more stringently in the future, its a tool that I will go back to.

Speaking of tools, I wanted to mention the Panera website. I'm not sure how many of you eat at Panera, but I love the place. The only problem is that some of their products sound like they would be smart choices for someone watching their weight, but in reality they are not. This is where the website (and their new menus) come in handy. You can see the calorie count for just about everything they offer. In the store, the majority of the menu has the calories shown but online you can see everything (including the bakery). Its really useful and I encourage you to take a look at it and use it as needed.

Last week a few coworkers wanted to run out to Panera for coffee and a pastry (since many of us had a free one on our Panera Card). Prior to heading out, I looked over the website nutritional page and picked out a pastry that was lower in calories than most of the rest. Now, some might say, just don't have the pastry if you are watching calories... I somewhat agree, but also, don't restrict yourself so much that don't have a treat once in a while. Its good for the mind (even if not great for the body). I picked out a muffie (one of the muffin tops) which is about half the calories of the full muffin. I ate the whole thing found it to be quite satisfying. I know if I had gotten the whole muffin and cut it in half, I would have been satisfied and probably would have eaten the other half later in the day.

So, I guess the important thing I want to say is to use the tools out there to help you make decisions on what to eat and to keep track of what you are eating. Honestly, it helps.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sometimes you need a pick-me-up....the 200 cal Pumpkin Spice Latte

I was out running some errands tonight (mostly going to Trader Joes...more on that over the course of the week) and was just feeling kind of blah. Eating healthier is great; and I'm seeing and feeling the changes with my body, but it can also be a bit of a downer emotionally. Sure, its great to know that I've lost weight but I also miss some of the comfort foods that I haven't had in a month. I know...everything in moderation...but for now, having foods like ice cream and pasta or pizza would not be good for me. Someday I'll get back to them with a new mindset.

So, enough about that. Like I was saying, I was out running errands and feeling kind of blah when I remembered that I saw on the Starbucks website that there is a way to have a 200 calorie Pumpkin Spice Latte. For those of you who know me, you know that I love pretty much anything pumpkin and definitely love a pumpkin spice latte. It's practically a sign of Fall for me. In past years, I'd have one of these a week if not more often. Since I've been watching what I'm eating and drinking more closely I thought that this seasonal delight was off the menu.

But, that is not the case! According to the Starbucks Website, there is a way to make it happen. Now, this isn't something to do every day, but it is a nice treat once in a while. If you get a Tall made with skim milk and leave off the whipped cream the drink is only 200 calories. And, to be honest, I don't miss the whole milk or the whipped cream. The drink is just that good.

I finished the latte on my drive home and am feeling better. Its amazing how food can mess with our mental state as much as it can, but that's something to discussed on another post I think.

So, as a once in a while treat, its well worth the calories.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Update and New Product Discussion (Archer Farms Freeze Dried Strawberries)

Like I said in my earlier post, I plan to keep up this blog with discussion on how my weight loss / getting in shape is coming along. At this week's weigh in, I was down another 2.5 lbs. I'm very happy with this number as it's around what is recommended for healthy reduction in weight. I'm pretty sure that I'm also building up some muscle mass but I won't know for certain until I have a body fat text next week.

When I started this, I had one of the trainers at the gym measure my body fat and take circumference measurements around my arms, chest, waist, and thigh. Next Wednesday will be 5 weeks so I figured it would be a good time for an update. I know that the waist and thigh sizes went down since I've been able to wear some jeans that were put away a few months ago for being too small. Major Win there!

So, onto new product discussion... I wish I had a picture but I forgot to take one before I threw out the package and I can't find one online. Google and the Target website aren't helping either. Anyway, these are just what they claim to be...freeze dried strawberries. The only thing listed on the ingredient list is strawberries so there are no extra chemicals or preservatives and no added sugar. They advertise the bag as 1 serving but I've been splitting it up among bowls of oatmeal, cups of yogurt, and a snack right out of the bag. The whole bag has only 90 calories and covers 3 servings for fruit (for those keeping track with the food pyramid daily intake recommendations).

I think the bag costs around $2.50 so it is a bit on the high side for its weight but I think its worth it. The strawberries retain their sweetness and color and will be a great way to add fruit to dishes in the middle of winter when the stuff at the grocery store tastes pretty bland. If you are trying to find it, the Target stores in my area have it located with the bags of trail mix.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

No new food to report...mostly

So, as I've been told by some of my friends, I haven't updated this blog in quite some time. To be honest, I haven't been cooking much stuff that I find really inspirational and worth posting. And there is a bit of a reason why I haven't been making things like that. If you look over the blog, there are a fair number of desserts or at least not overly healthy things. That's what I really enjoy making. Unfortunately, my body doesn't agree that these are what I should be eating. It took some time, but I finally admitted to myself that I should agree.

So I've been working out much more lately and being more mindful of what I'm eating (and most importantly how much I'm eating). I've been recording everything I eaten for the past 4 weeks and it has really been an eye opener on just how much I've been overeating. Now, I'm not starving myself nor denying myself anything, but I'm just having less. I've lost some weight which is great, but what's even better is that I feel better.

I'm going to continue with the food diary for at least another 6 weeks and see how things are looking then. I hope to maintain this blog a bit more over that time. It will be good for me to share my progress and talk about how things are going.

As the title said, I did want to mention at least something food related. In this month's issue of Everyday Food there is a recipe for Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash Soup.

The first time I made it, I followed the recipe and it turned out wonderful. For the second batch, I added a roasted red pepper to mix and blended that up to add to the soup. It was a welcome addition. One of the great things about this soup (and most soups) is that its only around 200 calories for a 2 cup serving. Its also very hearty so you feel pretty full after eating it. Oh, and its pretty cheap to make since it uses bone in chicken thighs which are usually low prices and butternnut squash which is in season right now.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

No picture for this one. It wasn't overly attractive anyway, since it was just a salt and peppered grilled loin. It sure did taste great though.

Last night was about the first real nice evening we've had here in a long while. I had pork tenderloin that needed to be cooked. I couldn't resist grilling it. I wasn't feeling creative so I just dried off the tenderloin with some paper towels and salt and peppered the outside. I heated up the grill for a while under a medium high flame. After a quick scrape and an oiling of grates I put on the tenderloin and walked away for 30 minutes. After 30, I turned the tenderloin over and gave it another 10 minutes to cook.

I let it rest for a little while under foil and then sliced and ate. I probably should have made some side dish and made it into an actual meal but instead just ate the pork by itself. It was delicious.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Chicken Parmesan

I was reminded that I haven't been posting on this blog in a long time (okay, 2 years) and that I should start again (thank you Justin). With that said, I present Chicken Parmesan. It was sort of a request. I think the actual request was for chicken fingers but I consider that more of a summery meal and not some hearty for winter so I decided that I would make chicken parmesan instead.

I started things the night before when I made the sauce. The sauce is one that was listed in Americas Test Kitchen magazine for a Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza (which is worth making by the way, it was great). Its a really simple sauce consisting of onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, olive oil, basil, and a few extra basics. I was really amazed to the amount of flavor so such basic ingredients. After making the pizza I decided that this was my replacement for jarred pasta sauce. So when I decided to make chicken parmesan I went with this. This evening I just reheated the sauce from the day before. I wonder how well this sauce would freeze. I could see myself making a big batch of it and then freezing in smaller portions and using as needed.........

So today I flattened some chicken and breaded it using a basic flour, egg, breading method. For the breading I used some fresh garlic croutons that I ground in the food processor with some parmesan cheese. Once all the chicken was breaded I fried the pieces in some oil and then put them on a baking sheet in a heated oven. When all the chicken was in the oven, I ladled some sauce on each piece and put a piece of mozzarella cheese on top and let them sit in the oven a bit longer. This allowed the cheese to melt nicely.

To finish the meal I cooked off some spaghetti and made a simple salad with a balsamic vinaigrette (which is super easy to do, some day I will post my thoughts on vinaigrettes). And the picture above is what the final plate looked like. If there are any questions or requests for specifics on any portion of the dish, please comment.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Garden Fresh Corn

My parents recently visited and brought some corn fresh from their garden. This evening was a "getting stuff done" kind of night so dinner was a mix of stuff here and there. Before I headed out to mow the lawn I was looking for a snack from the refrigerator and saw the corn. I decided to clean a few ears and quickly boil them. With a pot of water, a little salt, and about 10 minutes I had 3 ears of cooked garden fresh corn. I let it cool a little bit then ate it all. It was sweet, but not overly sweet and had a nice clean fresh taste. I still have a few ears and I plan on making something more substantial with them tomorrow night. I'll post the results.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Major Cooking Weekend

Sorry, no pictures for this post, just lots of info on what I made this weekend.

Lets start with the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Bread Pudding. The recipe is available at Food Network, here. On Halloween, I helped run a charity event at work and we had some left over doughnuts so I took the box home with the plans of making the bread pudding. The doughnuts got a bit dry but I don't think that was any problem. The bread pudding is super simple, you just mix fruit cocktail with sweetened condensed milk then soak the doughnuts in that mixture. It all gets baked at 350 for an hour. There is also a rum sauce mentioned in the recipe, I didn't make that this time. All and all, it was super simple, tasted good, and was easy to make. Worth making again.

Next up is homemade apple butter. I would have never thought this would be so easy. My dad passed along the recipe to me, courtesy of the Akron Beacon Journal. The article and recipe are here. Since the article made it sound so easy, I had to give it a try. The only necessary equipment is a slow cooker (I have 2 sizes and I found the smaller one to be the perfect size for 1 batch). To begin, get 5 lbs of granny smith apples (you could probably substitute another variety as long as it is firm and tart) and peel and dice them. The size of the dice is up to you depending on how chunky you like your apple butter, bigger dices make chunkier butter. Put the apple pieces in the slow cooker and cover with 2 cups of granulated sugar and 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon (you can adjust this depending on your taste for cinnamon). Turn on the slow cooker to low, put on the lid, and walk away for 10 hours (or if you are doing this late at night, go to bed). 10 hours later, come back the slow cooker and remove the lid; let the apples continue to cook for another hour; do no change the temperature, do not stir, just take off the lid and walk away for an hour. 1 hour later, come back to the pot and stir the apples. Once stirred, let them continue to cook for about another hour. Once the last hour is up, turn off the apple butter and let it cook. You are done. Yup, its that simple. The recipe is pretty spot on as to how much it makes, I got just about 6 cups of apple butter from my batch. If you like apple butter, give this a shot.

Up next is something that didn't quite turn out. A friend had told me about a sauce for meatballs (like when you are going to be serving them for a snack at a party). He said to mix equal amounts of Coca Cola and Grape Jelly with the meatballs and let them cook in the crock pot. I was a bit skeptical to try this one, it just seemed too odd, but I had picked up a bag of meatballs at the grocery store that morning and figured I would give it shot. Maybe I did something wrong, but I didn't find them all that good. The soda made for way too much liquid and meatballs got kind of soggy. Plus the grape jelly and the soda combined made the sauce too sweet for my tastes.

I also experimented with 2 different bar cookie recipes. I am trying to figure out what I will be making this year as gifts so I'm starting early and trying out new recipes. Both of these came from a cookbook that has "dessert in a jar" type recipes. Basically its one of those layer all the dry ingredients in the jar, then all the gift recipient has to do is add a few ingredients and bake. Both of these looks pretty simple on the recipient end, all that was needed was sweetened condensed milk. They were similar recipes, both had graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, and one had raisins. Each came out alright, but there was nothing that great about either one. I will continue looking for another thing to give.

And lastly, I got a great deal on some fresh basil. I used it to make a oil based dipping sauce for bread and pesto. I haven't tried either one yet, that's on the agenda for tonight. If they taste good, I will post an update letting everyone know what went in them.

If you have any questions about what was mentioned in this post, leave a comment or send me an email.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lack of Inspiration

Lately I've been in a slump. I haven't been cooking or baking all that much and the stuff I have been making hasn't been all that exciting. I think I'm lacking inspiration.

This was discussed while having dinner last night with a very long-time friend at Bonefish Grill. The final decision of the evening was that I should post a request to those who visit my site to submit ideas. It could be anywhere from a new recipe you are afraid to try, an idea for a recipe that you want to know if it will work, or to a review of something on the commercial market. I'm open to suggestions.

So, leave a comment, even an anonymous one, and let me know what you want to see posted here next.