Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Light Treat of the Week: Hot Spinach Dip

Photo from Gina's website

I know I'm always praising Gina's website, Skinny Taste, but it's been a few entries since I posted one of my favorite dishes from her site. On Saturday, I made this spinach dip for a light lunch. In all honesty, I hate hot spinach. It smells gross and all I can think of is, as a child, my mother eating her steaming can of spinach as far away from the family as possible. I guess my taste buds haven't matured there yet. Dan loves sauteed spinach; I like cold spinach dip. I see this recipe is a great compromise. I've made it for a party before, and it was a big hit. I'm bringing this dip to the wine party on Friday. It's garlicky, cheesy aroma can win over almost any disbeliever.

For lunch, Dan and I ate two servings with pretzel chips (11 chips for 3 points+). It was surprisingly filling. Gina's recipe is 3 Points+ for 1/4 cup serving. However, I made mine with canola mayo, reduced fat parmesan cheese, and fat-free sour cream, making it only 2 points +. I brought some leftovers to the office the other day for a 7 point lunch. It was even better microwaved. Yum!   

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It Worked! Thanks, Weight Watchers Points Plus!

I had great success this week! I lost 4 pounds! In all honesty, this was my first week really sticking to the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program. I started roughly following the Points Plus program just before Christmas, but I was never successful at sticking to it fully for an entire week (shameful, I know). 

Tracked my points. This week I tracked 6 out of 7 days. I didn't track on Sunday, when I went to Portsmouth and had lunch (huevos rancheros), went to a beer tasting, sampled wine, had had two amazing salted caramels, and still came home and had a sensible dinner and dessert. I didn't track that day because it would be very difficult, but I knew I had 43 extra weekly points over my daily 29 points as a cushion. 

Activities Points+. Weight Watchers allows you to earn activity points by working out. I worked out three times last week (including an intense workout on Saturday). I choose not to add my earned activity points to allow me to eat more. Instead, I hoped it will help me lose more.

Drank lots of water. I mentioned this in an earlier blog, but I have done a great job of drinking a lot more water. As crazy as it sounds, I find cool water so easy to drink, and I've been really sticking to it.

Easy meals. I made extras of the taco chili soup, turkey sausage ziti, and chicken with mushrooms so we would have lunches and easy meals in case we got busy.  We both enjoyed everything and rarely had the craving to go out to eat. We splurged on ice cream instead :)

I really want to see results like this again this coming week, so I want to set some goals in addition to all the other good things I did last week. I could be setting myself up for failure with my busy week ahead. I plan on celebrating St. Patrick's Day on Thursday, joining friends for a wine party on Friday, and going to Boston on Saturday. I need to plan my points and workouts around those obligations. It's not going to be easy. I don't do well in social environments.  

Save my points. I plan on only using my extra weekly points Thursday - Saturday. Don't get carried away while socializing. For St. Patrick's, I need to choose festive beverages OR festive snacks. Is the holiday that important to me? I'm not even Irish! Choose wisely. While out, I don't need to eat the cheese cubes. Yes, I like them, but I know they are loaded with points. Avoid the sweets... seriously. That means no cake, pie, brownies, etc. If I'm splurging by drinking wine (one point per ounce!), I can't afford to have dessert. I've made my choice. Stick to it. If I go out to eat, DO NOT eat the French fries. The things are about a point a piece. They're not THAT good. Again, choose wisely. Wish me luck!

Healthier desserts. I had dessert almost every night this past week. I'm more of an appetizer over dessert girl because most days, I can live without sweets. However, when Dan is snacking as we relax before bed, I can't help but do the same. Twice last week I had a low point piece of toast with 1/2 tablespoon of Nutella. It tastes like a doughnut! I also had 3 points of low fat soft serve twice last week. This week, I want to stick to fruit like nectarines or bananas for often rather than ice cream. 

Here's to an awesome week and hopefully another one next week!

Friday, March 11, 2011


I'd like to start off by saying, I better have lost at least two pounds this week. Lol! It's only been four days (my weight week starts on a Tuesday), but I feel like I'm putting in a good effort to lose this week.

Workout:  Dan and I have been going to the gym the past few days after work. We haven't had the time (or effort) to put in an extended workout (involving 30 minutes of cardio), but we've been doing 15 minutes of intense cardio (trainer suggests 10), plus strength training and core exercises. It's good having Dan to motivate me. It's supposed to be nice this weekend (almost 50 is nice for NH in March); I'm hoping to do something active outside with Dan.

Points: I have been counting religiously so far this week, even on the night we went to Arnie's for burgers and ice cream. I made great choices and enjoyed everything. I even asked the brand of veggie burger they use so I could calculate my points at home. I was very proud of myself! The weekend, the destroyer of of my diet each week, is still ahead of me. Fortunately, I have a fridge full of easy leftovers, which I hope will deter us from going out to eat.

Water: I'm not sure if I have confessed to this before, but I am notorious for not drinking enough fluids a day, let alone water. I hate drinking... really! I hear that it could be contributing to my GI issues, weight loss, salt cravings, skin condition, etc. This week, I have drastically increased my water intake. I have been carrying a water bottle, refilling it constantly, drinking tall glasses of water at home, etc. I'm surprised at how much water I've been drinking daily. I'm trying hard to stick to it. Now, I can't wait to see how it has impacted my weight loss.

I really want to go rock climbing, darn it. If I tell myself that I cannot go until I lose the weight, I really think I will push myself harder.I was thinking that it would be great to lose 20 pounds by graduation. I've got about 70 days-- that's two pounds a week. I can do it! Even with going on a vacation the week before, I think I can do it. Think positive, right?

Let's see how long this lasts...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What's for dinner?

Baked Ziti with Turkey Sausage

This recipe is directly from the Weight Watcher's website. I was very excited to try it after realizing it is a ziti recipe without ricotta-- Dan refuses to eat ricotta. I was worried it was going to be high for such a small serving. We we're pleasantly surprised to find that 1/8 of the pan was plenty! I think the recipe totally needs more cheese so I added a little bit more on top (about 1/4 cup) plus sprinkled reduced-fat parmesan cheese on there. To be fair, I also added a can of mushrooms, which the recipe doesn't require. Believe it or not, Dan thought I could have added EVEN MORE veggies. It was tasty, and there are plenty of leftovers!

Points +:  8
: 8


3/4 pound(s) raw turkey sausage, spicy-variety, casings removed   

1 medium onion(s), chopped   

1 medium green pepper(s), chopped   

28 oz canned diced tomatoes   

10 oz frozen green peas, thawed   

2 Tbsp canned tomato paste   

1 tsp dried oregano   

1 tsp dried basil   

1/2 tsp dried thyme   

1/2 tsp fennel seed   

1/2 tsp table salt, or to taste   

1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground   

12 oz uncooked whole-wheat pasta, ziti, cooked according to package directions   

6 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella cheeses  

  • Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Crumble the sausage meat into a large saucepan and brown over medium heat, stirring often, about 4 minutes.
  • Drain off any fat, then add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, peas, tomato paste, oregano, basil, thyme, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook uncovered 5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Stir in the cooked pasta and half the cheese. Spread evenly into a 9- X 13-inch baking pan. Top evenly with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake until the cheese has melted and the casserole is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes at room temperature before slicing into 8 pieces. Yields 1 piece per serving.

Setting rewards for my goals

12 lbs:  Short-term goal achieved!
Rock Climbing

22 lbs:  Massage

30 lbs: 100 pounds lost!
Plan a Trip to Italy

42 lbs:  Tickets to a Broadway Show

47 lbs:  Ideal Weight achieved! 
Buy a new wardrobe

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lacking the Motivation

I'm in the midst of what I would affectionately refer to as "Midterm Madness." I'm fortunate to only have one midterm this semester, but I also have projects, papers, trials, court appearances, etc.all around the same time.  Not to mention, I have to complete my bar application by the end of the month. The only light at the end of that tunnel is that this is my LAST SEMESTER. On top of all of that, I'm planning a graduation trip with friends, stressing about getting a job, and worrying about where I'm going to live in a few months. 

I've been using all of this as an excuse not to hit the gym. To make matters worse, I have not been the best with sticking to my points. I'm like a roller coaster-- one meal I'm sticking strictly to my points and going out but making smart choice, then I'm going out on an "eat fest" with friends or eating the fries/chips that come with my healthy food despite how much I think don't even taste good. Ugh. I need consistency. Better yet-- I need motivation. My wedding dress really motivated me to get the weight off and in a hurry. I saw it as not having a choice but to lose the weight. Now, I feel like, "If I lose it, I lose it. If I don't, it's not the end of the world."  I need something to force me to get back to my regiment. Any suggestions? 

I need to find the time for myself again somehow . I think I'm struggling to find balance. Maybe I'll have to give up volunteering, but I love what I do so much. I could always take time away from my evenings with Dan. Plus, I've been doing very little homework on the weekends. Hmm, I will have to rearrange things to make it work, but it's possible. Now, if only I could stick to it...

Confession: I Can't Fight the Cravings!

I've been so bad in the past few weeks! I need to get back on the bandwagon fully-- start counting my points EVERY DAY and stop making excuses for not going to the gym. Here are some of my recent bad choices:

Cheeseburgers.  I have really been wanting a veggie burger with all the standard raw veggies from Red Robin, a great burger place that we have back home in NJ, but there aren't any around here :( I feel like the craving won't go away until I have the real thing, but I ate a turkey burger at TGI Fridays. Of course, I cannot be eaten with a salad, so I was eating french fries too! The burger wasn't amazing, and I left still wishing I had a Red Robin burger.

Pizza. This last time, I chose a place serving very thin crust, but instead of loading it with veggies as I usually do, I got their chicken and maplewood bacon pizza with red onion. That was not a healthy choice! Granted, it was better than eating an all meat pizza because at least chicken is lean, but bacon?! Kacie! I didn't get lots of veggies because I know how veggies can really make a pizza soggy and with the thin crust... Excuses, excuses. For the record, it was amazing... and I should have stopped at one slice... Thank goodness Dan enjoyed it too, so he helped eat a lot of the pie.

Chocolates. For Valentines day and the following week, I was a candy junkie. Dan and I had a bigger lunch on V Day so we ended up eating a box of chocolates and drinking champagne for out dinner... real classy. The following week, I was craving chocolates again so we went to the candy shop in town where I bought and consumed about 1/4 lb of chocolate. I'm so ashamed! Lol!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Protein Bar or Candy Bar?

After experiencing a few days in court where I couldn't eat for hours and sitting through legislative hearings that could continue straight through lunch, I knew I had to invest in meal replacement bars that I could keep in my bag to avoid skipping meals on such days. I've tried my share of  protein and meal replacement bars: Power Bar, South Beach Diet, Slim Fast, etc.. I find that they taste either sickeningly sweet, chalky, or like chemicals. Plus, they never satisfy my appetite more than thirty minutes or so.

I decided to try Kashi because I love their granola bars, and it's good to know I'm not eating a bunch of stuff created in a lab. They offer other flavors besides chocolate peanut: chocolate caramel, chocolate pretzel, cinnamon coffee cake, and chocolate almond. The bar is a good size, probably the size of two of those Quaker granola bars. The bottom is dipped in chocolate. The bar is spotted with hunks of peanuts and chocolate chips. Now, the bar is a bit dense, but I like this because it makes me want to drink more water, which helps me fill up faster. I wish I could explain how tasty these bars are. They remind me of a very firm snickers! They taste more like a candy bar than a protein and fiber bar like they claim. It's delicious! I should try to eat one of these when I'm craving candy so bad. I already bought my second box after discovering Dan liked them too (which is very rare).

I do need to note that they are made by Kashi, meaning they aren't kind on the budget, but I'd rather pay a little more and enjoy it. Also, these protein and fiber bars are 5 WW Points+. That's a very high point snack, but I'm not eating these as a snack. Instead, I'm having them as a small meal and eating a snack later, like some fruit, cheese, veggies and dip, etc., when I get somewhere I can eat. These bars are DELICIOUS and do a great job of holding me over for a few hours before I can eat again.

Light Treat of the Week: Mini Babybel Light Cheese

I have to admit, I was hesitant about the cheese wheels at first. because I don't usually like low fat cheese. While they are very fun to open (peeling the strips to get the cheese out of the wax shell), I think the cheese smells a lot like string sheet (which I hate). Well, they really grew on me (and Dan). I really like the texture; it's dense like normal cubes of cheese. Most of all, I love that they are surprisingly filling. 

I find eating a mini cheese wheel and a couple slices of low fat deli meat (my favorite has been oven roasted herb turkey) is a great, high protein, low point snack. Each wheel is only 1 WW Points+. I often find myself eating this to hold me over to for my next meal... and because it's tasty.