Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hosting a Weight Watchers-Friendly Party Everyone Can Enjoy

It is no secret that I love to cook. I enjoy hosting parties and preparing food for all to enjoy. Unfortunately, I usually see a party as an inevitable time to use some of my weekly allowance points because I know it is close to impossible for me to attend, let alone host, a party and stay within my daily points. However, I stumbled across a great cookbook, called "I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening," that opened my eyes to some diet-friendly party dishes. The cookbook was written by Devin Alexander, a chef for the Biggest Loser and host of a cooking show on FitTV. Years ago, I bought a cookbook by her where she makes all of your favorite fast food dishes skinnier without compromising flavor. After thumbing through her "I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening" cookbook, I was dying to try so many of the recipes. Lucky for me, Dan bought me the cookbook for my birthday, and I looked for an excuse to host a party so I could try out some of the recipes. So we, the non-football watching house, hosted a Super Bowl party.

For the Super Bowl party, I prepared nothing but Weight Watchers-friendly dishes-- mostly from my new Devin Alexander cookbook. By preparing only points-friendly dishes, I knew there would be plenty of options for me to eat. No one likes being limited to the veggie tray. I hate going to a party, seeing something delicious, and having to convince myself that it's not worth the points. If every dish is Weight Watchers-friendly, nothing is off limits.

I made lots of foods that would fool a typical guy: strombolis, meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, homemade chipwiches, etc. I threw in the foods that were clearly healthy, such as white bean hummus, cucumber roll-ups, and the standard veggie tray. Everything went over well! I was shocked by how much everyone loved the Mexican Cocktail Meatballs from Devin's cookbook. The meatballs were so simple to make, and everyone devoured them. I didn't bother to tell the men that they were made with lean ground turkey rather than beef. Gina's recipe for Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip is always a hit. One of the guys even asked me to bring it to his next party! That recipe is so simple-- add ingredients, stir, and bake. I always substitute cheddar cheese for blue cheese in the recipe, but that's just our personal preference. I serve the dip warm with baked tortilla chips (the scoops work best). The leftover dip makes a great addition to a salad or wrap the next day. 

I think that the key to hosting a successful figure-friendly party is to provide food that can fool your non-calorie-counting guests. In all honesty, I get excited when people enjoy my food without knowing that it's "healthy." I used quotes there because although these party dishes are made skinnier than their original, it doesn't mean the dish is good for you or something you should enjoy regularly. Maybe I'll let them in on my secret that it's a diet recipe, maybe I won't ;) If I'm the only one who cares if the recipes are Weight Watchers-friendly, all the guests care about is that it tastes good. That's mission accomplished in my book.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weekly Weigh-in!

I reached my short term weight goal today... for the third time. I know I've been in a rut lately, and I need change. I think I've been building muscle mass, which is balancing out my weight loss. I shouldn't be too disappointed; that is precisely what my personal trainer was aiming for. However, I'm not confident that new muscle mass is the cause. I need to have my BMI reevaluated soon.

Result: This week, I lost 1.6 lbs. While I'm proud that the scale went in the right direction and that I'm back in my lowest tens bracket, I'm a bit disappointed with the small loss. Periodically during the week, I step on the scale to check my progress. I keep in mind that that number will fluctuate each day. Earlier in the week, when I was counting my points and exercising daily, I was seeing great results on the scale. This weigh-in, I am disappointed because I feel as though my terrible eating over the weekend sabotaged my earlier efforts. I need to figure out the cause of my self-sabotage on the weekends and correct it. It has been an ongoing problem for me.

Goals: My goal for this week is to avoid dining out all week-- from today until next Tuesday. Not only will it help my weight loss, but it will also help my wallet. Now, I just need to get my husband on board. It's going to be tough this week since I'm working more than usual, but I won't give myself an excuse. This is a great opportunity to prove to myself that I can be busy and still prepare my own meals. Since I've reached my short-term goal weight again, I want to set a second short-term weight goal before hitting my ultimate goal (UG). For Short-Term Goal II-- I want to lose 100 lbs. I've got to get back into the mindset where that goal is what matters to me.

Short-term Goal I:   ACHIEVED
Short-term Goal II: 18 lbs. away
Ultimate Goal:         35 lbs. away 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Light Treat of the Week: Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter

Have you tried this?! Did you know that Cheerios now come in peanut butter? I saw the commercials on television, and I knew I had to try them. After all, I love everything peanut butter. I did not let myself get too excited because it seemed too good to be true. If Cheerios is trying to label them as healthy, they can't be as delicious as I would hope. I'm happy to report that this cereal proved me wrong. 

The first grocery store I checked was sold out of the peanut butter Multi Grain Cheerios, but I was determined to find them. We found them at the second store we checked. The peanut butter variety only comes in the smaller of the boxes. Dan and I were so eager to try it that we had a bowl for dessert. The Cheerios have the right amount of peanut butter flavor-- not too much that it's overpowering and fake but enough that you notice it. It really hit the spot.

I'm usually not a cereal person. I joke that for me, cereal is the anti-breakfast. Rather than satisfy my appetite, cereal just makes me hungry in an hour. So, instead of eating the peanut butter Multi Grain Cheerios for breakfast, I've been munching on it dry as a snack, as a topping on fat free chocolate pudding, or as a dessert with milk and a sliced banana. Dan and I enjoyed it so much, we have already bought our second box. I will be terribly disappointed if Cheerios discontinues this flavor. They really did it right with the peanut butter Cheerios!

If you're as big of a peanut butter fan as I am, I highly recommend you try the new peanut butter Cheerios. Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter has only 3 WW Points+ for 3/4 of a cup (without milk). That's the same point value as my low calorie Fiber One cereal! You can find more detailed nutritional information here. I recommend eating it with sliced banana :)  Try it. Let me know what you think.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Minor Setback

Just a quick update-- I've been hitting the gym hard lately, whether it has been yogilates, Zumba, or standard cardio. The other day, I returned to the C25K program and ran over three miles (in intervals) after dinner. The next morning, I was back at the gym dancing my butt off at Zumba to the point I was saturated and dripping with sweat (it was gross!). Today, I'm paying for it. My legs and hips are so sore that I couldn't sleep. It hurts to put weight on my legs so standing and walking are out of the question. I know I need to get back to the gym, but my body is protesting. To make matters worse, I ate about 56 WW Points+ yesterday after going hog-wild at a Japanese steakhouse (which was fantastic by the way) followed by frozen yogurt for dessert. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Go-To Breakfast: Yogurt Parfait

I know many people are not big fans of breakfast, but I can't be a bigger proponent of the morning meal. I think eating breakfast daily has helped me greatly along my weight loss journey. Studies show that eating within the first hour of waking up does wonders to jump start your metabolism. I have noticed that eating breakfast prevents me from overeating throughout the day because I don't let myself get to the point that I am famished. Then, I have less cravings, thus making staying on track much easier. 

I've learned that my body needs a protein-heavy breakfast, and I have since adjusted accordingly. Instead of a carbohydrate based breakfast such as a bowl of cereal or a bagel, I now eat toast with low fat peanut butter and a banana, Greek yogurt with fruit and cereal, or Egg Beaters and ham on toast.

My yogurt parfait consists of:
  • 6 ounces of non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt (I used to be a loyal Chobani customer, but I recently discovered that Oikos Vanilla is fabulous) 
  • 1/2 cup of canned, crushed pineapple (canned with Splenda to avoid added sugar) drained of juice
  • 1/2 cup Fiber One Honey Squares

I simply add the three ingredients in a bowl and gently it together. I find it to be a simple, delicious, and filling 5 Point+ breakfast.  Plus, I check a fruit and a dairy off my daily WW checklist. I use Greek yogurt because it's higher in protein than regular yogurt, and I prefer it's thicker texture. You can use other fruits-- I've tried grapes and chopped apples, but canned pineapple is a lot less work.

What's your go-to breakfast?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

10 Food-Related Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me

Between my wedding dress blog and this one, I've been blogging for about two years now. I put together a list of 10 food-related things you probably didn't know about me, however random or crazy they may be.
    1. I love garlic. The more garlic the better! I like when a dish has so much garlic that it becomes spicy. So what, I may smell-- at least I know I'm safe from vampires.
    2. I "save" what I want for last. I swear that I have tried to get better with this, but I eat the best last. For instance, I eat the broken potato chips before the intact ones. I also eat the top of the bagel or the diagonal half of the sandwich with the top, round edge of the bread first. I noticed I did this when my husband would always wait until I was almost finished to eat some of my food, thus always eating the best part.
    3. I can be a tomato sauce snob. I tend to judge restaurants based on the quality of their sauce. We all may not have time to always make our own tomato sauce, but know that a jar of sauce will never compare. Restaurants don't have an excuse not to make their own sauce. Nothing bums me out more than a canned sauce that tastes like tomato paste. Also, the smell of burnt tomato sauce instantly turns my stomach. 
    4. I have to have a little bit of everything in each bite. No matter if it's a salad, bowl of pasta, or a standard dinner-- I need to have a taste of everything in each bite. I get disappointed when I get to the end of a salad, and I'm left with nothing but toppings or a bunch of plain lettuce. 
    5. I do a dance when I eat Nutella. I think that it is sad that I did not discover Nutella sooner in my life. How did I live 24 years of my life without its delicious goodness?! Whether I smear Nutella on toast or just dip a spoon in the jar, I wiggle and hum a song consisting of "mmm"s each time I eat it. It's glorious.
    6. I dread drinking water. In all honesty, I don't like to drink in general, but I really find water to be the most boring beverage. To me, water is a base for other flavors. I rarely find myself thirsty. Instead, I'm often forcing myself to drink something because I know I should. Strange, I know. 
    7. I  could try anything so long as you don't tell me what it is... and it doesn't smell funny. I'm open to trying new foods, even seafood, which scares me, so long as I cannot identify the food. "Mmm! That's the most flavorful, tender chicken ever... Oh? Catfish, you say?" I didn't say I would continue to eat it, but I will at least try it. It bothers me when people don't have the courage to try something out of their comfort zone. Plus, I find it rude not to at least try a "no thank you" helping.
    8. I prefer to know what I'm going to eat before we step foot in a restaurant. I rarely go to a restaurant that doesn't have access to their menu online. Maybe it is because I have had the awkward moment when I had to leave a restaurant after being seated once I realized I did not eat anything on their very limited menu? Maybe it is because I know I can take forever looking over a menu at the table or that I want to make sure I get into the mindset where I am looking forward to that dish once we get there?  
    9. My sandwiches must be assembled in the preferred order. Dan has learned not to judge me aloud while I disassemble my burger so the meat touches the pickles and the lettuce is on the mayo or to ask me when he assembles a sandwich for me. For starters, lettuce should NEVER be on the bottom, and cheese should always touch egg on a sandwich. 
    10. I prefer to dine with people who share a mutual love of food and are willing to share. There is nothing worse than sitting down to a dinner with someone who is unhappy with their food. It ruins my food-buzz. I want to be surrounded by diners who don't look at me strangely when I have a foodgasm or get so excited over a perfectly-made marscapone cheesecake. If you want to make a friend for life, offer me a bite of what you have. 
What food crazy quirks do you have?