Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Craving of the Week

Sausage and pepper calzone

There's nothing on daytime television but soap operas and news so I find myself watching food shows. I've been having the worst craving for a sausage and pepper sandwich or a sausage calzone. Thanks, Kitchen Boss. After a lot of research, I've come to the conclusion that I cannot eat a sausage calzone. The first indication was that the Weight Watchers Points+ database does not have Points info on such a dish, usually meaning I shouldn't even think about eating it. One calzone listed was 42 Points+... yeah... I only get 29 Points+ a day. Not worth it. Plus, it's not something Dan would share so I'd have to eat the entire thing (even if it meant spreading it over over the course of a few).

If I weren't so sick, I'd make what I call sausage pepper pasta. It's a favorite here at the Brown house, and it does a great job of satisfying the sausage sub craving. I saute a bell pepper and a medium onion (sliced into strips) with olive oil flavored spray and minced garlic until cooked but still crisp. I toss in a small can of mushrooms (for added veggies), a can of petite cut diced tomatoes, and chicken sausage (cut in half, then slices). Since the sausage is pre-cooked, it doesn't take very long. I season it with Italian herbs, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and thicken the sauce a little with corn starch. Finally, I toss it over a low point pasta (Dan loves angel hair) and top it with reduced fat grated Parmesan cheese. Yummy!

Enough about food, I'm going to lay down. This cold is kicking my butt. Happy eating, everyone!


My workouts and counting points paid off last week. I lost 3 lbs.! Woot woot! I'm on the verge of a new 10 bracket. Exciting! I also got over my weight loss plateau-- meaning I have finally dropped below my wedding weight, and I'm back to the stage where every pound I lose is the thinnest I've ever been. It feels good. I need to keep it up.

Unfortunately, I haven't counted points this week. I did work out once before coming down with "the plague." This is my second day with this chest cold, and I'm pretty sure it's bronchitis. I've been coughing so much my abs hurt. My whole body aches from running a fever constantly. You would think I would be less sick since I'm living a healthier lifestyle, but that hasn't been the case. I usually don't get sick, but I've been sick about three times this year and it's only February! To be honest, I think I never fully got over it the first time and it just keeps flaring up. I'm so ready to be over it and get back to losing weight. Blah.

Here's to 71 pounds!

Monday, February 14, 2011

What's for dinner?

After eating three cookies today during a meeting (the peanut butter Reese's cookies were AMAZING), I have no choice but to eat my low point leftovers during class. On the menu: garlic soy pork chops and oven roasted cauliflower. This cauliflower recipe is so good that Dan and I nibble on the veggies as they cool on the stove. Dan actually made this dinner this time; it's that easy! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adventure of the Week: Making Healthy Choices

Eating out with friends can be difficult when you're trying to eat healthy. You don't want to be be a Debbie-downer that complains about the food you cannot eat, but you don't want to ruin your weight loss either. I'm often tempted most because I know what foods I should eat, but I always want to to eat the tasty, nonhealthy choices my friends are eating. It's difficult.

I went to a school function to celebrate Lunar New Year (often referred to as Chinese New Year). I was very excited to dine on some Korean bulgogi. I jump on the opportunity to partake in some great Korean food because ethnic food is not one of Concord, NH's strong points. Plus, I love trying new dishes! Generally, I made good choices: beef and pork bulgogiglass noodles, stir-fried broccoli, and kimchi pancakes. I really tried hard to fill up on the veggies. I treated myself to one pork dumpling, skipped the egg rolls, a bite of Chinese sesame chicken, and a very unnecessary but small piece of cake. I avoided the fried dishes, noodles (didn't like the glass noodles I tried either), most rices, and the booze. Let me tell you, I loved that beef bulgogi. At only 5 Points+ per cup, I can't wait to get it for takeout from the deli down the street from school.

Yesterday, I went to Boston again with some friends. We had a good time hitting some more museums. This time, I was conscious of my eating habits. I had a healthy breakfast at Einstein Bagels before we left (an everything bagel thin with their new light schmear and fresh fruit) to save calories for the rest of the day. At lunch, my friend and I went to Crema Cafe while the boys went for Indian food. I had a turkey panini (not a super healthy choice, but not the worst). I was sure to skip the chips, lattes, and all of the delicious baked goods they had. For dinner, we went to a Jewish deli-style restaurant called Zaftigs. I was not on my best behavior there, but I sure did slug a lot of water. I munched on bagel chips with cream cheese spread, sampled the Jewish appetizer platter (where I practically swooned over my cheese blintz with fruit), and finished it off with a bbq brisket sandwich and fries. In my defense, I ate my friend's vegetables... lol. We strolled down Newbury Street in the cold to get some of the well-known ice cream at J.P. Licks for dessert. I chose a small sized dish with two flavors of low-fat hard yogurt (oatmeal cookie and peanut butter), and I felt I was cheating... it was amazing.

I guess what I'm saying is that I made better decisions while eating out with friends. Sure, I could have made even better decisions, but it was a step in the right direction. What is most important is that I never felt like I was depriving myself. I still have further to go, but at least I'm happy along the way, right? I think that's the key to my life-long battle to get healthy. Now, off to go eat a few of my Valentine's day chocolates... lol!

Happy eating!

Advice You Didn't Ask For

Breakfast is a must.

I truly believe that eating breakfast daily is a major key to my weight loss. It's true what they say; eating breakfast is important even if you aren't hungry. It's important to start your metabolism right for the day. By skipping breakfast, you are starving your body until later, thus telling it to get in the habit of storing your dinner as fat because you won't be eating for awhile. Not a good idea, right? 

So, if you are the type of person, like my husband, who just "isn't hungry" in the morning, eat something small within the first two hours of getting up, such as a piece of fruit or toast with peanut butter, then eat another something small a few hours later. Eating this way reduces spikes in your blood sugar and prevents you from getting overly hungry, which is a terrible place to be. Plus, smaller meals trains your body to process the food faster because more will come later. Make sense?

Sometimes my days can be long, and I don't know when I will have time to break for lunch. For those days you know you're having a late lunch, eat something more substantial or pack snacks to, avoid elevated hunger. Instead of cereal, I might have a homemade breakfast sandwich those days and have a yogurt or popcorn for a snack.

No matter what you do, don't skip breakfast. Even if you get up late and lunch seems just around the corner,  eat something small. For instance, on the rare occasion I do not motivate until 10 am, I will have a small portion of instant oatmeal and a banana, which is enough to hold me over for a little while. Waiting for lunch is always a bad idea. Combining meals, such as brunch, or Dan's infamous "linner," is also not great because you usually waited to eat, meaning you're hungrier, and you are very likely to over eat.

Try to avoid breakfast boredom. This is always a challenge for me. I'm a fan of the egg sandwich, but I have to mix it up from day to day so I don't get bored and crave something really bad, like stuffed french toast or a sausage McMuffin. Here are some of my standby breakfast choices:

  • egg sandwiches: add different cheeses, salsa, veggies, different meats. I like mine on low point English muffins with Egg Beaters.
  • yogurt and a piece of fruit: some days I splurge and add granola
  • oatmeal: add bananas, raisins, sugar free syrup, apple sauce, etc.
  • toast with peanut butter and a banana: it takes like dessert!

What is one of your go-to breakfasts?

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Craving of the Week

    Iced Coffee!
    I've been wanting an iced coffee (french vanilla with skim milk and Splenda) all week. I guess I saw a classmate with one and have been craving one since. In the summer, I drank those to curb my milkshake/ice cream cravings. I know it's been literally -2 degrees here in New Hampshire, but I still want one. I pass a Dunkin' Donuts on the way to school everyday, but I'm always running late. I need to stop one of these times. Mmmm...

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    What's for dinner?

    Asian chicken lettuce wraps with peanut sauce 

    Around New Years, I dined at the Cheesecake Factory with some friends. They encouraged me to try the Asian lettuce wraps. Ever since, I've been on a hunt for restaurants in the area serving something similar. The appetizer can be high in calories due to the dipping sauces, so I want to make my own attempt at this dish with a lighter peanut sauce. I found this recipe for peanut sauce on the Weight Watchers website. It's only 1 WW Point+ per serving.
    • 1/4 cup(s) fat-free skim milk  
    • 1/4 cup(s) peanut butter, creamy, without salt variety  
    • 2 tsp soy sauce   
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes  
    • 1/4 tsp ginger root, peeled and minced  
    • 1 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced (about 1⁄2 teaspoon)  

    • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, whisking until smooth.

    Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 tablespoon).

    I'm serving it with Asian grilled chicken strips, crunchy rice noodles, cucumbers, shredded carrot, Boston bibb lettuce, and a side of Lean Cuisine spring rolls (in case the lettuce wraps don't fill us up). I hope it comes out well!

    Confession: I Eat "Under the Influence"

    I am beginning to notice that I eat terribly in the company of my husband. I've been tracking my points and the minute it hits Friday, my strict points calculations are a thing of the past. I don't count them because I figure it is pointless when I'm eating pizza and fried appetizers or munching all day at a Super Bowl party.

    After I over-analyzed my pizza order before having Dan call it in, I couldn't help but think that I make a lot of concession for his unhealthy appetite. Sure, I'm craving pizza, but I'll load it up with veggies. Does he REALLY have to order an $11 deep fried appetizer to go with it? He knows it's too much for one person and that I love the stuff. It's like he's bating me without realizing it. I'm weak! I can't handle the pressure. I WILL eat it! Lol. Plus, I don't want to pay for all that food. Can't we just share?... Never. Also, I hate having to get my own food when I'm splurging while dining out because it's always too much food, which means I'll have leftovers. Leftovers means I have to eat bad... TWICE!

    I wish he would eat healthy with me. Sure, he eats the healthy meals I cook, but other than that, it's a wash. He'll eat nothing all day and gorge on dinner and endless desserts. He'll want to eat out for two meals each day on the weekends. I can't eat like that, and he shouldn't either. I used to think it wasn't fair to want him to eat well because I was (i.e. it's not fair to ask him not to buy those cookies because I lack the self-control). Now, I'm realizing that he needs to watch what he eats too. He also needs to be more considerate of what is essentially my addiction. People don't tempt alcoholics with liquor. It's just wrong. But people think nothing of bringing an overweight friend on a diet to a buffet (or a family-style Italian feast at Maggiano's). I wish people were considerate of those trying to observe healthy eating habits... maybe then restaurants would too.  I'm putting my foot down.

    I'm tired of being the couple that sits in front of the television watching Criminal Minds marathons while gorging on unhealthy takeout or getting excited for a nice dinner at Angelina's. There is so much more to our relationship besides food that we could be doing instead of eating. I want to be the couple that works out together, bikes, goes mini golfing or bowling, attend hockey games, or something that doesn't center around food.

    Light Treat of the Week: Special K Chips

    My classmates have been raving about these Special K Cracker Chips. You can eat 30 chips for 110 calories. That's right; 30 chips! The entire box is only 3.5 servings. In other words, even a potato chip fiend like me will rarely eat an entire serving. 

    I'm not a flavored chip kind of girl. I prefer an ordinary, salted chip so I tried the sea salt flavor, but they are also available in sour cream and onion. I thought the chips were great. I didn't feel the need to eat an entire serving. They definitely satisfied my salty snack craving. The chips tasted similar to Pringles or Munchos, but looked more like a deflated mini rice cake. I put them out during my Super Bowl party, hesitant people would steer away from the "diet chips," but everyone gobbled them up. Dan thought they were a little plain, so he ate his with dip, which worked well. I will definitely be buying them again. The Special K Cracker Chips were available at my local Walmart Superstore and Shaws. Check them out.

    Do you have a figure-friendly snack you think everyone should try? Leave a comment and share. I know I'm always looking for tasty, healthy food.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    Adventure of the Week: Returning to the Gym

    Well, my gym date with a friend helped get me back to the gym. I'm still not going every day, but I think I'll finally start getting into a routine. The other night I went with Dan to meet with the trainer and setup a new workout routine. This was the first time i met with this particular trainer, and he made some serious changes to my workout. For instance,  I'm now going to be doing only about 10 minutes of cardio each day. That doesn't sound like enough to me, but he assures me that weight and core training are equally, if not more, important to my weight loss. He emphasized the importance of holding a position during core exercises and frequently varying the core exercises I do. He showed us how to properly use the machines and how others are often doing the exercises wrong. Take, for example, the elliptical. Did you know that most people use it wrong?! If you are not using it properly, your head will go up and down, defeating the purpose of a low impact machine. When we tried using the elliptical properly, it was much more difficult!

    Going to the gym with Dan was great. Having a buddy not only makes you feel obligated to go, but it mean you have to wipe the machines down less because you can switch with each other, and you can correct each other's form (especially during weight training).

    On days I don't go to the gym, I try to do some yoga using On Demand (sports & fitness-- Exercise TV). My favorite workouts on there are the ones by Yoga Works. Their Body Slim yoga routine is a great workout! I even saw the DVDs on sale at Target. I think I could get into this yoga thing. I can tell it really works my body, and I think it revitalizes me and helps relieve stress. 

    Advice You Didn't Ask For

    Expand your taste buds.

    Taco Salad 
    I think a key to continued weight loss is enjoying the foods you are eating. I have tried my share of diets throughout my life, and Weight Watchers has proven the easiest to stick to. I really believe in eating what I enjoy (with some modification, of course). I am so glad I came across Gina's website. She makes some really awesome dishes that I love to make (macaroni and cheese, meatballs, enchiladas, buffalo chicken dip, chilis, etc.) Through her website, I have found a new love for ethnic food. I now cook Asian and Mexican dishes. I notice that preparing ethnic foods can be a great way to get a lot of flavor without the calories. However, I was bummed when I realized that eating Mexican at a restaurant is much worse for me than the Mexican I prepare at home. The restaurants use full fat cheese, sour cream, meat, and fried chips. So, be careful.

    Greek Salad
    This brings me to my craving of the week: Greek food! There's this delicious restaurant in Concord, Remi's Place, which looks like a standard pizza place. Remi's Place is owned by an Albanian family (Remi himself does most of the cooking) and also offers Greek and Albanian dishes in addition to their pizza, pasta, subs, etc. After eating their chicken gyro, I fell in love! Dan and I go at least once a week and try a new Greek/Albanian dish. I think their grilled chicken is awesome; I don't know what they do differently to it. Put it on a salad, a pita, pizza-- I'll eat it. LOL! Lately, I've been craving their simple Greek salad (often a side to their other dishes). The Greek dishes I usually get are packed with fresh veggies (tomato, cucumber, onion, green pepper) and served with grilled meat, tzatziki sauce (cucumber, garlic, and dill yogurt sauce), and fresh made pita. Dan indulges in everything from fried Greek meatballs and stuffed grape leaves to lamb kabobs and baklava. I like to make some simple Greek dishes at home using fat-free yogurt, fat free feta, whole grain/low carb pitas, and, of course, my favorite, tzatziki.

    My advice today is to try new foods. Don't let your taste buds get bored. Keep it exciting. Try those new foods a few times from different places or prepared differently. It could really make a big difference. Try foods that you haven't had in awhile because you "don't like it." You might be surprised. 

    My new food venture is going to be fish. I really need to try some different kinds prepared a few ways to see if I can like it. It would really expand my dinner possibilities. 

    Happy eating!

      Wednesday, February 2, 2011

      What's for dinner?

      Tonight, I'm treating Dan and I to some comfort food that we haven't had in awhile: burger and fries! We're having turkey burgers and sweet potato fries based on recipes from my favorite cooking website. This is the first time I'm making these recipes. I'm excited to try the burgers that have grated veggies (like zucchini) in them. I'm sure Dan is apprehensive about the zucchini, since he isn't a fan of the "cucumber-like" vegetable. I'm sure he'll slather it in barbecue sauce and cheese and not even notice. I think I'm going to make mine into a Greek burger and top it with some tzatziki sauce, feta, and veggies. As for the fries, they wouldn't be sweet potato fries if we didn't eat them with chipotle ketchup!

      Birthday Binging: "Eat Fest" in Boston

      Since my 25th birthday is on a Tuesday, I decided to celebrate with a few friends the weekend before by going to Boston. Well, since I'm going to a new place, I have to taste the new city, right? I was terrible! I justified my horrible behavior by saying that the points didn't count that day. I ate things like a chicken cheesesteak hoagie and cheese fries in Quincy Market, the largest strawberry shortcake known to man in the North End, and a family feast at Maggiano's (pictured on the right). Of course we did a LOT of walking throughout the day to negate a few of the calories. We saw a lot of great museums and landmarks. All in all, a great birthday out (minus the thousands of tasty calories I consumed). Dan, who made the family feast a mission to make the restaurant lose money, was planning our next trip to Maggiano's from the moment we left the restaurant.

      Then, when it came to my real birthday, Dan wouldn't let us stay home (despite the fact that the streets weren't plowed from the day's snow storm and that most people were safe indoors awaiting a snow storm expected to dump another foot or more of snow on the area). We went to our favorite Italian place in town, Angelina's (Italian food seeming to be the theme of this birthday). We were the only ones here until a small family came while we were on dessert. I was extraordinarily bad with my food choices (again assuring myself that birthday dinner points don't count). I had tons of fresh bread, some antipasto, salad, chicken parmesan, a side of fettuccine alfredo, and white chocolate mousse. It was a step in the wrong direction compared to the grilled chicken with balsamic drizzle and grilled veggies that I usually get there. FAIL. However, it was delicious. We had a good time and drank too much wine, which is evident from the picture. When we got home, I continued to eat more of my high calorie leftovers in a "drunken" stupor until I crawled into bed. Tsk, tsk.

      I'm back to counting my points today, folks. I even did some "body slim" yoga that has made me sore all day. Back on the bandwagon.

      Tuesday, February 1, 2011

      New Goals

      My goals have changed as I have lost weight. Now, I find myself setting new goals to stay motivated. I have noticed that it is better for me to set smaller, more practical "benchmark" goals in addition to the "big picture" goal.

      • Old goals
        • Wear a bikini for once in my life (NEVER going to happen without some major surgery)
        • Wear heels on a daily basis (Done- when the streets aren't snow covered!)
          • Wear a size Large (Done)
          • Buy an article of designer clothing, not an accessory (Done)
          • Try kayaking (Done)
          • No longer be classified as obese (Done!)
          • Get down to Goal Weight: -77 lbs from heaviest
            • I'm almost there and realize that I have more to go!

          • New Goals
            • Go indoor rock climbing
            • Rock a pair of skinny jeans
            • Lower my blood pressure
            • Find leather boots that fit over my calves
            • Be able to run/jog a 5K without stopping
            • Get into single digit sizes
            • Lose 100 pounds overall
            • Have the Wii Fit tell me I'm "normal"

          Share with us. What are your weight loss goals? It doesn't matter how small or strange your goal may be. It gives you something to work towards. What can you check off your list?