Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 148 - Feeling Under the Weather

I'm getting a little bit run down. This happens every year at this time--actually anytime the seasons change my body has a little temper-tantrum about it. All I want to do right now is stuff my face with comfort foods and lay in bed watching Pirates of the Carribean (still haven't gotten through them all; this could take a while).

I do realize that this would only fix me temporarily and soon after would lead me to feeling worse about sabotaging my own efforts for a few moments of indulgence. Instead I need to find some other way to satisfy my need for 'comforting'.

I have discovered that writing creatively can completely consume me to the point that I think baout little else. Even in the unfriendly face of writers' block, I still am able to step ouot of my world for a brief time. So, to thi send, I think I will endulge you with some of my food musings on a new page on my blog. Some of the boardies over at Weight Watcher's refer to it as food pron (middle two letters intentionally inverted), but I may just give it a less racey name. Check back this weekend to see what my fingers occupy themselves with instead of popping food into my mouth.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 147 - Back in the Swing of Things

I have computer access!!! (But it's because I'm over 30 miles away at school, but hey, I'm not complaining!)

Sunday did show a weight loss of 2 pounds and that made getting through the storm a bit easier--I had continued motivation to track my food and make do the best I could. I'm still on plan!

I have no running water though... And as girls do, they feel the need to be clean whatever the circumstance. So I decided to employ my large pool in my back yard for the purposes of bathing. Not right in the pool, but close enough. Either way, the helicopter that flew over head got a nice show. But I feel much better : )

We have limited power, my father in Buffalo bought us a generator and my amazing hubby drove over night and back the next day so we can have some normalcy. At the very least right now, we have a refrigerator. Hopefully I will have internet access at my home soon and can resume normal posts with great pics and food soon; by the end of this week I'm sure.

Ooh! Speaking of pictures, I have a few that I will have to share tomorrow (hopefully) of a few things we did during Irene. Including my grill eggs! It hasn't been so bad, just have to get out of my comfort zone and be creative.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 146 - almost there

So I found a Dunkin' Donuts that has power and the boys and I went to get breakfast. I ordered my new 'in a pinch' weight loss friendly Egg White Flatbread breakfast sandwich. And coffee, hot coffee. My older son asked for a toasted bagel with cream cheese, and the younger only wanted munchkins. Ok. I don't have the energy to fight it. Just eat a banana first, please. He had already nibbled on some baby carrots this morning.

I realized as I was watching them eat things I used to gobble up, that I don't really crave those sugar filled goodies anymore. Yes, I had 2 little munchkins, but it was easy to say 'no more' and walk away.

I also had a chubby flashback! I realized as I was peering into the tiny box of larger pants sizes that I used to get that box (with 25 donuts) and a sugar saturated frozen coffee drink many mornings. And I polished them off on my way to school, in about 30 minutes time. The passenger floor of my car was perpetually littered with evidence of my love affair with the corporate giant. More over, I would eat again at school, usually including bacon.

What was I thinking?!?! How tines have changed!

Well, I'm expecting my amazing hubby home in a few seemingly endless hours with the generator that my ever caring father in Buffalo got for us. I'll be able to eat normally, post to the blog, and shower!!!! In the mean time, please enjoy this cute picture of my boys that inspired this post : )  (did it come out sideways? I'm posting from my Android and can't tell...)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 145- made it through Irene

So I'm updating from my mobile, just to say I'm here and made it through, on plan : ) And I did weigh in this morning. I lost another 2 pounds last week! Wahoo! Once I get real internet access I'll update everything here, but until then, just imagine what my grilled eggs were like. I have pictures. They were good. Come by tomorrow. : )

Day 145 - Weigh In Day!!!

And If you are seeing this message, this one, right here, it means I have no internet and am unable to post due to Irene's crabby attitude. She stole our power and thus our internet. So instead of my Sunday waistline info, instead I will charm you with my culinary skills... And if I'm lucky, you may have to wipe a bit of drool from your chin when we're done : ) Either way, enjoy!

Friday night, while I should have been preparing for the storm, I was instead looking for ways to have acorn squash with my dinner. In a former life I would have roasted it on a sheet pan, then put a Tbsp or two of butter in the cup along with brown sugar (and perhaps maple or vanilla). Though that is one of the yummiest things to do to an acorn squash, it's an aggressive enemy attack against my midsection. So I searched around and found this instead... Give it a try!

Orange and Ginger Glazed Acorn Squash

  • 3 acorn squash, halved length-wise and seeds removed
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2Tbsp. crystallized ginger, minced
  • 2Tbsp. butter (unsalted is better)
  • 1Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375F; line a baking tray with aluminum foil and lightly spray with vegetable spray
  2. Place squash cut side down on the tray and spray back sides lightly with vegetable spray
  3. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until tender
  4. Approximately 10 minutes before they are done roasting, combine the remaining ingredients in a sauce pan and heat just to melt butter and dissolve sugar.
  5. To serve: place 1 half acorn on a plate and spoon 3Tbsp. glaze into the center.
  6. Eat before someone else does.
For Weight Watcher's: 2 points for one half with 3Tbsp of the glaze.

This is an amazing way to highlight the beautiful sweetness of the squash without masking it with flavorings. The ginger and citrus are surprisingly gently and compliment the squash deliciously.

Monday: Check back to see how I weathered Irene.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 144 - Staying On Plan While The World Ends

Yup- mild sarcasm there. Irene is headed this way and I'm worried mostly about how to keep my blog 'current' as opposed to things like water and toilet paper. Well, just because I may not be able to cook or eat great foods, doesn't me that my readers should be deprived, too.

So how am I planning to stay 'on plan' in the even that we lose power tomorrow evening? Check out my list.

  • Boil eggs (they'll keep easily enough and I won't be without healthy protein with a few (or a few dozen) on hand. (I tend to over-react)
  • Ready the fuel tanks! A have an extra tank of propane outside to cook off the meat that may go bad if we lose power. Assuming I can walk out the door without being blown into my neighbors' yard
  • Lots of bottled water- We don't have a municipal water source, we have our own well. If the power goes out, we have no water, so for this occasion I allow myself to be slightly less than green.
  • Fruits and veggies that are easy to eat out of you hands: grapes, berries, cherry tomatoes, avocado, celery (oh! with cream cheese and raisins!)
  • Loaves of bread and peanut butter, the protein has become essential for me, and my kids might wither if I failed to keep adequate rations on hand.
  • Canned veggies/fruit/soup. The fruit is easy to understand (only in natural juices though) but if the veggies and soup have you confused, see earlier list item about propane. Add a sheet of aluminum foil and a pot and you have warm soup. I was a Girl Scout. On my honor!
  • A knowledge of what is in my fridge so that if we loose power I can prepare food to utilize what will spoil first. Did you know that your fridge will hold it's temperature for 4 hours without power (without opening it), but your freezer will keep it's chill for 48 hours if it is full (24 hours if half full)? I'll have to curb the urge to stand and stare into the fridge.
  • Keep things around to keep busy!!! I am a boredom eater--and the prospect of having countless bored hours on my hands is a little daunting. But I bought some fun things to do with the wee ones. Card games, board games, tie-dying (yes, I am crazy-please don't tell my hubby!), and I can keep the computer charged for movies for me for the kids. Family fun time!
Tomorrow is weigh in day. I'm unsure if I will be able to access the internet properly, but I will have a post up no matter what. It may be the default post (the yummy side dish I had yesterday evening, I can't wait to share!) or it will be my regularly scheduled weigh in post. I have had a few struggles these last 3 weeks and have consulted my support group over at Weight Watchers-- my boardie friends whom I recently introduced you to... They have been a ginormous help. Because sometimes it's hard to see the trees... I'll stop right there : )  (I.C.)

And with that, I set out to brave my existence against Irene and steel my stomach against her unfriendly and imminent arrival.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 143 - Snacks

Sometimes I get hungry between meals. O.k. I always get hungry between meals. But I have finally come to the very adult conclusion that munchies are not necessarily the answer. Yes, SpecialK Cracker Chips are delicious and sound really good when I'm in the snackin' mood. But rarely do they satisfy me. Vegetables are always a good option though, even better than its slightly higher-calorie cousin fruit... But who says these scrumptious little gifts from the ground can't dance with the sweeter side of life?


Yup, add a little heat and the natural sugars (though there maybe significantly less than fruit) will begin to caramelize and intensify. Here's yesterday's snack... just food for thought : )

Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic
Yet another yummy snack that did make it to photo time...
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking tray with aluminum foil
  2. Core 2 plum tomatoes, or whatever is abounding in your garden right now and cut into halves.
  3. Peel garlic cloves (as many as you like) and cut off any dry ends
  4. Place tomatoes cut side up on baking tray and sprinkle garlic cloves around them on the tray
  5. Drizzle tomatoes and garlic with Extra Virgin Olive Oil; sprinkle all with pepper and Kosher salt to taste
  6. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the tomato is bursting and bubbling, garlic should be a deep golden color
  7. Eat and enjoy!
(For WW, your only consideration is the amount of heart healthy oil you use. I use 2tsps. to drizzle, and track 1 point as much of the oil remains on the tray.)

I can't begin to tell you how amazingly yummy this is... roasted tomatoes are one of my favorite things, so simple, so honest, and so packed with flavor. There is no way to not feel satisfied after this snack.

Tomorrow: Planning for Irene- How I'm going to stay on plan while the world ends. : )  Kidding!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 142 - Why Planning Daily Meals Is Good

Yesterday was a rough day. I woke up late (no thanks to again trying to stay awake late to watch Pirates of the Caribbean, I've never seen them; I know, I'm really behind) which lead to being unable to pack my typical snacks and lunch to take with me to school. It also created a bad choice for breakfast.

Usually I have protein (egg whites), veggies and fruit for fiber, skim milk for dairy, and oats. This is a big breakfast, but it gets my metabolism going first thing in the morning but leaves me completely satisfied. So satisfied, in fact, that I don't get the munchies throughout the day, especially if I time my snacks and lunch properly. This is great for preventing over eating and feeling ravenously hungry (which inevitably leads to bad choices and me whining to my husband about what I shouldn't have eaten).

I failed to do all of this, and an eclair (which was planned) and a giant shortbread cookie (which was not planned) wound up in my mouth. I tracked everything and accounted for it, and it's completely within my eating plan but I just want to set myself up for success and to NOT fall into these food traps.

Well, needless to say I came home and was famished! So I talked with the hubby and we created a fun southern-style salad with what we found in the pantry and icebox.

BBQ Chicken and Corn Salad... yummmmmmmmmmmm!

Let's analyze what we see here, shall we?

Salad: a bed of fresh mixed greens, 1/4 cup sweet corn, 1/4 cup Pico de Gallo, 4oz. BBQ chicken breast.
Sides: 2oz wedge of garlic and herb focaccia bread; 2 tbsp. each Jack Daniels Original BBQ sauce and sour cream. (I can't help myself, I love sour cream with BBQ and chicken!)

This was packed with flavor and had 2 servings of veggies in it (1/2 cup between the corn and pico de gallo, and 1 cup of mixed greens). You can easily knock down this 11 PP meal by skipping the focaccia and the sour cream, but I think it's too dry without the bit of extra BBQ on the side. Still need a Heart Healthy oil for the day? Drizzle a teaspoon of safflower oil over the greens, it has no flavor or aroma like olive oil and only your happy heart will know it was there!

Tomorrow - Snacks: morning, afternoon and early evening. Yup, there's time for all of them!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 141 - Some Words That Inspire and Motivate Me... And Some That Just Make Me Laugh

First of all.... **e-hem**
Hi to all of my WW boardies!!! This one's dedicated to you!

Today's post is a wonderfully fun, thought provoking and "Get your butt in gear!" quotes and advice that are so freely given by the amazing group of boardies over at Weight Watcher's.

What is a boardie, you might ask? They are the Weight Watcher's members who comprise the online discussion boards, many of them only utilizing the online membership. The 'board' is where we have our 'meetings' if you will; where we discuss our struggles, ask for help, give advice and encouragement, share our successes and provide the sometimes needed kick in the backside when someone's being backwards. This community of support has been vital in my journey, they are a never ending resource.

What I've posted below are some of the advice, quotes, personal signatures and sayings that proliferate our time together on the board. Enjoy : )
  • Anyone who says "Nothin' tastes as good as skinny feels" has never tasted bacon crackers. (Becca423)
  • Eating well is not deprivation. Deprivation is being too large to do what you want to do. (PeekyBooBoo) 
  • Don't Look back, you're not going that way. (Pat) 
  • Thin is a lifestyle, not some arbitrary number on a scale. (Margie)
  • If you don't eat all of your points you make Baby Jesus cry. (AmyApple)
  • To live a healthy life is a gift, not a burden. (Kim)
  • I am doing this. I am worth it. (Jillian)
  • A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety. (Me... but originally Aesop)
  • Sweat is just your fat crying. (Josie1005)
  • Success depends on you backbone, not your wishbone. (HenryFigaro)
  • If you eat a lot of fruit and gain weight, quit eating the pizza. (Steve)
  • You can make virtually any dish low-calorie by eating less of it. (JMonty465)
  • Would you beat a child for falling as he is just learning to walk? Well, what we are learning here is just as hard. (Bethhl)
And with that, dear readers, I bid you good day : )

For tomorrow: My yummy dinner. Featuring chicken, corn and focaccia! (and maybe another selected Boardie quote... we'll see!

      Tuesday, August 23, 2011

      Day 140 - 3 Foods I Can't Live Without

      Clearly, I'm a girl who knows food. That conclusion can be made based on my career choice (Baking and Pastry) or by looking at my backside, or my hips, or my "Excuse me, I am NOT pregnant" belly. So I know a thing or two about yummy food. I love to make mostly anything I can from scratch-- but I do have a few go-to items that are always in my pantry or icebox. These things are daily/weekly staples in my eating plan right now, so you need not wonder if these foods are weight loss friendly... They are! Would you like to meet them? Great!

      Cookwell & Company's Escabeche style salsa. It's not your traditional tomato paste-y, large chunk vegetables with little to no seasoning Americanized variety... This stuff is it! This is an authentic salsa that begins with escabeche marinade including lime juice and carrots and roasted chiles.

      What I do with it: Top egg whites cooked omlet style with tomatoes and green bell peppers; use it as the 'pizza sauce' on my Avocado Chicken pizza; and it's scoopably yum-o with Tostitos MultiGrain Scoops tortilla chips. (I love dipping foods!)

      Reasons I love it: 0 PP for Weight Watchers buddies, and packed with flavor.

      Franks Marinara Sauce is hard to find. They are originally an Italian restaurant (go figure!) in Hartford, C.T. They have quite a list of famous names that have patronized them and their sauce is a little bit famous. My link will take you to their FaceBook page, but if you're near me, north of NYC or in the New England-ish area, I know you can find this at Hannaford Supermarkets.  Reasons I love it: 1 PP for 1/2 cup, versatile and light.                                                                                        
      I'm a choosy mom, and I choose JIF. Mostly for myself. My boys and hubby would eat anything I placed before them, but I have discerning taste buds. JIF is the smoothest, most naturally peanutty of the big name brands and I have lots of fun uses for it!                                                                                                        What I do with it: Banana Sandwich... It's not what you think! Click to see why : ) ; a Tbsp. at the bottom of my morning bowl of steel-cut oats makes a yummy way to flavor your oats without the typical sugars or syrups; or I'll just drag my finger precariously through the tub and lick. Yes. I'm 31 years old. Don't judge.

      I will continue rummaging through my pantry for your entertainment another day. Can't give away all my secrets at once ; )  I think I may make this a regularly appearing topic...

      (Apparently, I also have an affinity for things that come with screw top lids...But I digress.)

      This week: Quotes of wisdom and hilarity from my Weight Watcher's Boardies! I can't wait! It's gonna be so much fun...

      Monday, August 22, 2011

      Day 139 - An Interview With Matt, Part Two

      Part two of our interview with a fellow CIA student Matt. Click here to read part one.

      Kara: Have you incorporated physical activity at all?
      Matt: I did. I started with 20 minute increments in cardio and worked my way up to and hour. After about two weeks of that though, I was getting bored. So I started using weights. And I did that for about a month. But summer break came and I stopped working out. I could tell that I was losing muscle weight because I dropped 5 pounds by doing nothing. Then I went back up those 5 pounds. It's been tough getting back to it. Lot's of stress going on. Makes it tough.

      Kara: Between cardio and weight training, which did you feel was more beneficial to your weight loss?
      Matt: Cardio without a doubt. Weight lifting definitely sustained my weight loss but it didn't help me lose any more. Cardio is the way to go.

      Kara: What has been hardest about losing the weight, other than changing your eating and physical habits? For me it's been under-growing all of my clothes and feeling frumpy in them because they are so loose. What is it for you?
      Matt: Yeah! It's bad! I wanted to wear suspenders the other day and when I put them on my pants and there was this big old pocket in the back, and was like 'I can't wear this now.' And my class schedule messes up my breakfast and lunch, which messes up my day somewhat.

      Kara: Have you given yourself any time limits- not eating past a certain time?
      Matt: That's actually what I credit most of my weight loss to, not eating past a certain time. When I was hardcore losing, I stopped eating at 7pm. And to stave off the hunger I would drink a lot of water and chew gum.

      Kara: What have been the greatest benefits other than improving your overall health?
      Matt: Compliments! The compliments are nice. And going up Roth Hall stairs is cool, I'm still a little winded after four flights, but it's not as bad now. And I got a girl, I guess. *he gets a little red and bashful at this point : )* So that's nice.

      Kara: Did you have any Ah-Ha moments when you realized you could do something physical again?
      Matt: Actually my parents have some property upstate and there's a big hill in the back and I used to run with my dog up the hill, and halfway up I'd have to stop and catch my breath. Now I can just run right up it.

      Kara: Have you found a lot of support from friends on campus?
      Matt: Yeah, they'll say that I'm looking great, and keep up the good work. You know, it helps with the motivation.

      Kara: How does your family react when you go home?
      Matt: Well, they've seen me in between here and now, but they support me. Being home, though, can be terrible--something about home. I think I've just been eating bad my whole life and that just comes natural when I go home.

      Kara: What has been your biggest obstacle other than being surrounded by all of this food?
      Matt: I hate exercise. I loathe it. I detest it.

      Kara: Have you found difficulties with people socially now that you interact with food differently?
      Matt: Minor ones. I'll be out with friends and they'll want to split something and I can't, and I order a salad instead. They'll ask why I don't want to eat something and it feels like, you know 'This is hard enough already. Stop tempting me.'

      Kara: How about tips, advice, motivational words for anyone who wants to lose weight but might think they can't do it?
      Matt: If I can do it, anyone can. *laughs at his own cliche* But you've got be ready to do it. Something clicks in you, that you're going to do it and it's going to be now. I'm doing this, I'm losing the weight.

      I agree Matt. Thank you for your candor and your time! : )

      Tomorrow: Foods I can't live without. 

      Sunday, August 21, 2011

      Day 138 - Weigh In Day (DUN Dun dun...) and Last Night's Dinner

      Feelin' good! Dropped 2.6 lbs this past week! *Happy Dance! Happy Dance!* For a total loss of 41.6 lbs since April 3rd.

      It actually felt good to get back in the swing if things last week. I felt out of control the week before--in every way, not just eat and weight loss. Having that sense of control can be empowering and motivating. I like it. : )

      And in other news... My dinner last night was delicious! Nothing crazy or out of the ordinary, but I did make the meatballs that my boys had been begging for all week. I was sad because I didn't think they would be point friendly enough for me to really indulge. But since I love pasta and marinara anyways, I didn't fret too much.

      See below for exact meal amounts. The Riesling is St. Urbans-Hof.

      So I made them the way I normally would, just used all egg whites rather than whole eggs, and didn't free pour the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. I plugged the recipe into my magical little Weight Watchers calculator and it said 2 points... 2 POINTS!!! This made my tummy grumble.

      Yup. That's it. Right there. I had a little glass of Riesling with it--and yes, I know I'm supposed to have a red wine with the red sauce and red meat. But the sauce was marinara, not my traditional heavy red sauce (that I can't live without in the winters) so to me it was light. Which called for a light wine. And I always seem to have a bottle of Riesling available for these situations.

      Come back tomorrow for the second half of my interview with Matt. Saturday's post with the first half was a big success! See what else Matt confided in me... well, us : )

      **1 cup cooked whole wheat pasta, 1/4 cup Franks Marinara Sauce, 1 heaping Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese, 2 meatballs (as described above) and 1 tsp. olive oil. This equals 10 PP for my Weight Watchers buddies - but that doesn't include the wine. I dipped into my Weekly Points for that treat!)

      Saturday, August 20, 2011

      Day 137 - An Interview With Matt

      Meet Matt. He is a Bachelor's student at The Culinary Institute of America, having completed his A.O.S. in Baking and Pastry Arts. Like me : )

      Matt and I, unbeknownst to the other, began our weight loss journeys one day apart this past April--each of us on a quest to feel better about ourselves. This week I sat down and talked with Matt about the 20 weeks since taking charge of his future; here's his point of view.

      Kara: What was it that helped you make that decision to do it (losing weight) now, in such an inhospitable environment (culinary school)?
      Matt: Well, to be perfectly honest with you, I was lonely. I wanted a girlfriend. It had nothing to do with health or anything, I just wanted to have a girlfriend.

      Kara: What was the first thing you decided to change or address?
      Matt: Definitely my eating habits. Being at school you can get carried away. There are platters of food out and it's like 'I'm going to get a little bit of this, and a little bit of this and little of that.' And before you know it, it just ridiculous amounts of food.

      Kara: Being here, for me, I was knew what days were which menu in certain kitchen and looked forward to them- they were great... What are some of your pitfalls?
      Matt: Fried chicken, when K-16* did it. That and burgers--I'd get burgers constantly, and now that I think about it, it was terrible. A lot of red meat.

      Kara: Obviously, as chefs, we need to taste our own food before we send it out to people. But it's easy to get carried away. What foods were triggers for you?
      Matt: Boredom. Just boredom.Well, Napoleons too, definitely and eclairs. I love eclairs. Eclairs are good. And baking and finishing! Oh geez... anything that just came out over-done or under-done would be under my station to eat later. I had a 'garbage' bains marie, and an 'I'm going to eat it later' bains marie. It was bad.

      Kara: There is a lot of healthy food here, but not necessarily fit for someone who is trying to lose weight. So how do you find a fit meal here? 
      Matt: Well, you get a meal and you fit it to what you're doing. Yesterday I got a turkey sandwich for lunch and just ate the turkey and cheese. And I try to eat salads. I got a sirloin salad but without the dressing. So that's better.

      Kara: Do you find certain foods help stave off hunger better, especially with eating more vegetables and fewer carbs?
      Matt: Well I try to eat more small meals, and then snack during the day on things like broccoli. I really like broccoil. But veggies are what I try to eat to keep away from hunger...and away from the dessert table.

      Kara: Are there foods that you're trying to keep to a minimum?
      Matt: I've tried to totally eliminate carbs, and fats and sugars. But, you know, once a week I'll have a petite gateau. I try not to have one, but usually I end up having one.

      Kara: Do you find that allowing yourself to have some of those types of foods helps your efforts to be more sustainable?
      Matt: Oh yeah, without a doubt. Back in high school I tried not to eat any of it, and when I did I'd think "I ruined it" and that's a bad way to think. I learned that in psychology- what's it called? Catastrophizing?

      Kara: Yup. All or nothing.
      Matt: And that's not good, then you end up hating yourself for eating that one thing and really, that one thing doesn't make that much of a difference in the long run....

       *K-16 is a quantity production kitchen at The Culinary Institute of America, serving students during dining hours.

      Read the rest of my interview with Matt on Monday.
      Tomorrow: Weigh In day... Did I get back on track after last weeks gain? 

      Friday, August 19, 2011

      Day 136 - Healthy Pizza? Yes - It's Possible!

      My love for steel-cut oats pulled through yesterday. I changed my breakfast up a little since I wasn't feeling satisfied throughout the day, and the oats helped today. No ravenous hunger and I cut down on the quantity of food I took with me to school. Good day!

      Now for the pizza! I changed my dinner up last night, too, and I would like to share it with you (not the actual pizza, it might go bad in the mail). I was in the mood for avocado all day, but I had already prepared chicken and sauteed zucchini for the whole weeks worth of dinners. I'm eatin' the zucchini--I love it--but it shall remain separate from it's amigo, the chicken.

      Avocado Chicken Pizza - made with salsa
              Avocado Chicken Pizza
      • 5oz. (1/5 of a prepared package) fresh pizza dough
      • 1/4 cup salsa (I like Escabeche style)
      • 3oz. grilled chicken breast, chopped
      • 1/4 cup mexican style shredded cheese
      • 1tsp. olive oil
      • Green bell pepper to taste
      • 1/2 of a small avocado, sliced
      1. Stretch dough to a rectangle 12" x 5" on a greased sheet tray (or silcone baking mat).
      2. Spread the salsa evenly over dough.
      3. Sprinkle chicken over the salsa, then the cheese over the chicken.
      4. Add bell peppers.
      5. Bake according to the directions on the dough package.
      6. Top with sliced avocado and drizzle with olive oil.
      7. Enjoy!
      (This makes a large single serving and totals 13 PP if you're my visiting Weight Watchers family! It also provides: 1 serving heart healthy oils, 1-2 servings veggies, and lean protein.)

      This is easily one of the best things to have entered my mouth recently. It wasn't planned out, it wasn't a recipe I saw elsewhere. It was just a creative combination of what I was craving, what I had on hand, and what GHGs I still had to get in for the day. And let me tell you... WOW!

      Tomorrow: My interview with Matt- a fellow culinary student successfully dropping extra pounds. A guy's perspective.

      Thursday, August 18, 2011

      Day 135 - Me and My Steel Cut Oats

      Have I told you how much I love steel cut oats? If I haven't, let me declare to the world my undying affections for those little bundles of chewy, tender, wholesome goodness! Prepared with organic skim milk (yes- I'm an organic milk kind of gal) and served over a tablespoon or two of creamy peanut butter is one of my favorite morning meals.

      Why am I pining over my beloved steel cut oats? Because my meal plan for the week is in need of a makeover. I'm not satisfied throughout the day and need to reconfigure my meal plan that I had laid out for the week. Don't get me wrong, I've stuck to it faithfully but to ward off an overreaction to feeling deprived I need to address the fact that my body is not being given what it needs.

      So let's start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start. I promise I won't break into song, but I will change my breakfast. This morning. Out with the old (cereal) and in with the new (oats). I'll let you know how it goes. In the mean time, watch Chef Keith Snow prepare these yummy oats!

      (While his serving suggestion at the end looks tempting I will resist! Too many points that aren't worth it to me. Peanut butter. Just peanut butter.)

      Wednesday, August 17, 2011

      Day 134 - Hand Over Your Lunch!

      My lunches this week are following the same convention as the breakfasts I talked about yesterday- I'm being repetitive but I don't mind if it will get my butt back on track. Everyday, while I'm letting my egg whites sizzle away in a hint of safflower oil, I begin composing the midday eats that accompany me to school. Yes, I take lunch to school-culinary school. I do in fact see the immense irony in this, no need to point it out. Let's move on.

      Middle of the day tends to be about quick and satisfying as far as food goes. I pack a simple sandwich of whole wheat bread, extra lean deli ham, American cheese and yellow mustard rather precariously in my nice bright pink ('overly expensive' according to my husband) handbag. The sandwich always brings it's friend String Cheese along.
      I then ask my banana/peanut butter sandwich if it would like to join the traveling party (it always responds in the affirmative). Here I use the term 'sandwich' lightly: it does not include bread-- my relationship with carbs needs a time out, if you'll recall from this past Sunday. I slice the banana lengthwise like you would for a banana split, then I lovingly spread 2 Tbsp. of peanut butter over one half and top it with the remaining slice of banana. Soooooooooo good! It's a wonder this snack makes it to campus ever, not an easy feat.
      Lastly, depending on which schedule day it is, I may bring an afternoon snack with me. I love hummus, the tomato and basil variety to be specific. And I discovered that the best veggie to dip into hummus happens to be the greatly under-appreciated green bell pepper. Though not as vibrant or fun as it's red, orange and yellow cousins, it seems to be the least sweet which compliments the rich and almost sweet flavor of the hummus excellently.

      He was watching me lick my lips taking this picture. Poor guy. He knew what was coming.

      Later this week: A Guys Perspective- Talking with my friend Matt, another culinary student on a successful quest to drop more than a few pounds.

      Tuesday, August 16, 2011

      Day 133 - What's For Dinner

      As I mentioned yesterday, I have planned out my meals for the entire week. The only short coming: eating the same things, each meal, everyday. I'm not terribly opposed, but many people would be (I know, it's boring, lacking variety, etc...). So I'm going to let you in on a little secret that makes these plans not only manageable but exciting!

      Starting with 4oz. sauteed chicken breast, 1/2 cup of sauteed zucchini, mozzarella and Parmesan (all of which are completely yum-o to begin with) we can gussy it up in a different way each night of the week. Try this:

      • Served with cheeses melted, and half of a garden fresh tomato, garnished with a 'just cut' sprig of basil.
      •  Tuck a bed of bibb lettuce and tomato slices into two pita halves, add warmed chicken, squash and cheeses, drizzle with light balsamic dressing.
      • Prepare 1oz. fresh whole wheat pasta, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a crushed clove of garlic. Toss with chicken, squash and cheeses.
      • Spread basil pesto over a pre-packaged flat bread or pizza crust, top with chicken, squash then the cheeses and make it toasty in the oven for a great take on pizza.
      • Top 1/2 cup brown rice with the chicken and squash; for a little extra crunch add half a cup of pico de gallo into the rice.
      Each of these variations provides at least 2 servings of veggies, 1 serving of heart healthy oil and 4oz. of a lean protein.Oh! And yumminess,  that's the most important part : )

      There are so many other ways to elaborate on this simple combination of delicious and versatile flavors. To make being creative even easier, I prepare all of the chicken and squash on Sunday, portion it (refrigerate some and freeze the rest) that way I only have to figure out the fun part each night for dinner. Doing this saves a bunch of time during the week nights when I would rather be hanging out with my hubby or playing with my boys.

      Tomorrow: Hand Over Your Lunch!

      Monday, August 15, 2011

      Day 132 - A New Beginning

      After a not-so-surprising gain of 1.4 lbs. last week I'm getting myself refocused by planning out my meals for the entire week. Here's what I'll be eating each day, from first bite to last crumb:

      • Corn Chex with 1 cup skim milk (or one container of yogurt)
      • 3 egg whites cooked in EVOO or safflower oil, topped with fresh sliced tomato
      • 1 large nectarine, 1 cup of grapes or 1 medium apple
      • Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. With 1/2 cup of fat free milk. 
      AM Snack:
      • 1 large banana slice lengthwise (like for a banana split)
      • 32 grams of peanut butter sandwiched between
      • Extra-lean ham sandwich; made with 2 slices whole wheat bread, 3 oz. lean ham, 1 slice American cheese, yellow mustard
      • String cheese
      • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber or green bell pepper
      • 2 Tbsp. tomato and basil hummus
      Dinner (all tossed together):
      • 4 oz. chicken breast sauteed in 1 tsp. olive oil
      • 1/2 cup grilled zucchini 
      • 10 grams shredded parmesan cheese
      • 1 oz shredded mozzarella (full fat)
      PM Snack: 1/2 cup Sugar free/fat free Jell-O pudding or Sugar free Jell-O

      My Declaration of Eating. I will:
      • Not eat after 7:30 pm
      • abstain from Snickers and all related products (at least for now)
      • drink all of my water
      • get in all of my GHGs
      • give my relationship with carbs a timeout

      Coming this week: Some of my favorite foods. And perhaps a few recipes. Photos, of what I'm not sure. : )  And we're working on the mans perspective.

      Sunday, August 14, 2011

      Day 131 - Weigh-In Day!

      I knew this was coming- sooner or later. It's a normal matter of course during a weight loss program. But It hurts nonetheless. My first gain.

      Up 1.4 lbs. this week, taking me back over the 210 lb. mark that felt so good.
      The positive things about this is that I knew it was coming. I knew how poorly I had eaten all week, failing most days to fulfill my GHG's and eating a lot of carbs. I've made a meal plan for the week ensuring that I don't leave much to chance. I doing my best to keep carbs at a minimum and not eating past 7pm. (Except maybe sugar free Jell-O, which is more like water suspended in gelatin). I need to revisit my posts on my goals, remotivate by reviewing what I want from my efforts.

      Time to get refocused, let last week go as a lesson in what doesn't work for my body, and do better this week. Now that I've had my morning coffee and weighed in I can begin my day...

      For tomorrow: How I'm letting go of the upset over a gain. And perhaps my weekly menu.

      Saturday, August 13, 2011

      Day 130 - My Weight Loss Week In Review

      When life gives you lemons, squeeze them, make a curd and plop it into a pie shell with meringue-then eat the whole darn thing. Well, that's not how that adages is supposed to go but that's what I did with lemons this week (metaphorically). Here's what I did well:
      • tracked every last bite that I ate- good, bad and ugly.
      • enjoyed my 7th wedding anniversary with my hubby
      • tamed a binge, instead keeping it to only two bad choices
      • exercised intentionally
      And here's what we have to avoid in the future:
      • eating garbage- even though I tracked everything and stayed within my Points Plus (Weight Watchers)
      • not getting enough fruits/veggies, heart healthy oils, or water in
      • not sleeping nearly enough
      • eating emotionally- I didn't go into full-on binge mode (which I have been known to do) but I was fully aware of what I was doing and I rationalized why it was o.k. This is not o.k.
      As many of you know, I climb aboard the scale every morning to keep me focused. I didn't do that as much  this week; and even though I can't count my chicks till they hatch Sunday morning (weigh-in day) I'm not seeing much movement on the scale. The scale is mad at me, and I'm disappointed with myself.

      I need to do better next week.
      I WILL do better next week.

      (Ooh! And I ate a foot long, cheese smothered Philly Steak sandwich at 11:30 Friday night after seeing Wicked on Broadway with my hubby for our anniversary. It was delicious. I ate the whole thing. And I regret every last bite of it.)

      Tomorrow- What did our friend The Scale tell me for week 19...

      Friday, August 12, 2011

      Day 129 - Supportive People

      Kara and Shinera.

      Meet Shinera (kissing my cheek). Shinera is someone who cheers me on when I undertake a new obstacle course. She believes in me before I even believe in myself. She might even think I'm Wonder Woman. Whatever her reasons for being behind me 100%, her support is so vital in my journey. Support from family and friends in any undertaking is key to achieving things bigger than you even set out to achieve.

      I'm not trying to sound cheesy motivational speaker-ish, but a community of people dedicated to you and what you want to accomplish is important in any undertaking in life. I have found this to be mostly true when you are trying to change your lifestyle for the better. People get used to you as they know you, habits and all. It becomes part of them in a way, and it's hard to change how you interact with another person especially if certain social aspects need to change to make you a better person. I come from an Italian background where the center of every gathering is food. Even when we get together with friends it starts with food. My husband and I had rituals with some of our friends in Buffalo- every Tuesday night, we ordered in, played cards and spent the evening catching up. Those habits of socialization and gathering are hard to rearrange. That's why people like Shinera are so key to successful weight loss journeys. Changing certain things about my lifestyle is as much a reason to support me as is going back to school at 29 years old.

      Wherever you find your support group--family, friends, co-workers, partners in crime at Weight Watchers : ), peers at school, significant others, even your children--soak up their support! It was awkward for me at first; I've always been rather reserved and independent. But allowing that positive energy to flow into my life, accepting for the first time ever that others accept me, and just enjoying the love, warmth and support around me has been life changing (having nothing to do with my waistline). This journey has been about so much more than weight loss. And to anyone and everyone out there who has offered so much as a "Hey, you look great" or changed their whole lifestyle around (like the man at the center of my world) I thank you. I could not have succeeded thus far without you.

      Find a support system. And if you have a good one, give them a shout out below.

      Tomorrow: My Rough Week in Review

      Thursday, August 11, 2011

      Day 128 - This is What Makes Weight Loss Difficult

      I've been doing really well with my eating, have been responsible about tracking, and just now getting back on the exercise bandwagon. 'In control' would aptly describe my existence. Then yesterday happened. Without boring everyone with he-said/she-said details, it became an overly emotional day. Yesterday's proverbial cup runneth over into today and is drowning me emotionally again. So I'm having a hard time not drowning my sorrows in baked goods and anything salty I can find. I know that I am an emotional eater. I also know that I need to learn to step back from whatever is bothering me and realize that food doesn't solve it. (If it did, my life would have been dancing with perfect at 250 lbs.)

      I broke.
      I knew it was coming, and I let it get the better of me.

      I only ate an abnormally large corn muffin, and I'm still within my eating plan; but it feels like a motivational defeat. Almost like "It was an honor just to be nominated" speeches after not winning an award, or "Hey Champ, you gave it your best shot."

      Learning to forgive yourself, forget and move on is harder than my financial accounting class...

      Day 128 - "Sweat is Just Your Fat Crying"

      The title up there is a wise quote from one of the 'boardies' over at Weight Watchers. This statement has been plaguing my thoughts for a couple weeks now. Why, you may ask? I haven't been as physically active as I was in the beginning of my journey. I haven't gotten a P90x workout in since May. I'm ashamed *hangs head while typing* to admit this. But I'm putting that factoid out there as a matter of accountability and being honest with myself. I'm worried about plateauing on the scale and losing motivation. So yesterday I got back on the horse!

      *I am not affiliated with BeachBody or P90X in anyway. I am a customer that loves this program. I feel the need to say: "Talk to you doctor before beginning any exercise program." I'm not endorsing P90X, just sharing what I do.
      The last time I completed a workout with P90X I was 231.2 lbs. and I was doing ok. It was hard work physically, but at that weight, just about any intense physical activity was going to be rough. So when I completed the Kenpo-X routine yesterday, at 209 lbs. I felt fan-FRICKIN-tabulous! I was able to do certain moves I wasn't able to before like Prayer Twist. Since there is a bunch of stretching included to take care of your muscles, I was in positions I'm not normally in and got to see my slimmer body in ways I haven't in a couple months! My feet fit more comfortably in my shoes (yes- even feet get chubby) and my ankles and calves are much more attractive! What a difference 20 lbs. makes at any size. My balance is different now, compared to what I knew of body back in May, so I'm going to have to re-orient myself with gravity. I feel awesome though.

      I know I will have down days where I just don't want to do it, and I'll have to push myself hard to get it done. I'm up for the challenge. After all, I'm one dress size away from shopping at any old clothing store now. I want it bad!

      Tomorrow- Supportive People, featuring Shinera.

      Wednesday, August 10, 2011

      Day 127 - One Hot Momma

      Everyone should have goals in life. But since life is constantly changing it's hard to plan for very many things outside of a few years in advance. There are some very important things that we can plan for and change with a good degree of certainty though: your health and how you feel about yourself. My weight loss goals are simple, realistic, measurable, and within reach. Let me tell you about them.

      • Lose 100-115 pounds- I want to live a long and strong life to keep up with my children, grandchildren and maybe even great-grandchildren. I need a healthy heart and innards (I love that word!) to accomplish this, and removing some of my unhealthy habits that work against this is the first step.
      • More self confidence- I never really actively thought too much about my confidence levels. I was confident in my knowledge, studies, abilities, talents... However, only once I began to lose this excessive weight did I realize what a blow to my self-confidence all those pounds delivered. I feel better about myself and am able to enjoy interacting with everyone else more.
      • I want to shop like other smaller gals- I want to not have to go the plus-sized store (even though they have some very cute clothes) or even into the plus-sized section of a regular store. I want to be able to grab any article or clothing I see off a rack because chances are that they'll have my smaller size. I don't want to feel like I'm shopping for tents anymore!
      • To cross my legs easily while sitting.
      • Trophy Wife! I want my hubby to have a hot wife. Enough said : )
      • And last but not least ***GENTLEMEN CLOSE YOUR EYES!*** If my hips and butt were smaller, my boobs would look bigger... I was not well endowed in the chest area. I'm only asking for proportionality.
      These things may be odd to someone else, but they are my goals and wants. One of my recently achieved goals was to bend over forward to pick something up off the ground without loosing my breath or struggling. This was HUGE for me- I had been terrified of dropping things in public because I would have to spread my knees and bend forward to get over my stomach. Many smaller people don't think about these things, but simple tasks have different meanings when you're over weight. So when it comes to having selfish or superficial goals mixed in with the others, it's more like icing on the cake.

      Leave me a message below and announce to the world what your goals are!

      Coming soon: We're going to get a guys perspective on losing weight in the culinary field.

      Tuesday, August 9, 2011

      Day 126 - Up and At 'Em!

      For most of my life I never really made time for breakfast. I'm not a high maintenance kind of gal, so rolling out of bed, brushing my hair and teeth, and a wrinkle free outfit was all that I required in a matter of about 15 minutes in the mornings. I also thought I was doing my figure a favor by skipping a meal. Turns out these behaviors and beliefs are completely counter-intuitive. Breakfast gets your metabolism churning first thing in the morning and sets your body up for a more energized day, meaning: clearer thoughts, more energy to move, better motivation to get things accomplished. All this with the added bonus of feeling less ravenous for that next snack/meal throughout the day.

      3 egg whites cooked in safflower oil, wilted spinach, tomato
       My typical breakfast includes:
      • 3 egg whites pan 'fried' with 2 tsps. safflower oil (flavorless so it doesn't alter the final taste)
      • 1/2 cup garden fresh tomatoes and 1 cup of wilted spinach added to the eggs
      • Bob's Steel Cut Oats oatmeal (made with fat free milk) with 1 Tbsp. peanut butter
      • coffee with fat free milk
      • 1/2 cup fresh fruit (berries, banana, plum, grapes, apple...)
       The nutrients this provides me with: 3 servings of fruit/veggies; 2 servings heart healthy oils; lean and yummy protein; 1 serving fat free/lowfat dairy; heart healthy whole grains; lots of dietary fiber.
        This breakfast leaves me satisfied and much less hungry throughout the day. If you want a lighter version (this version is 11 PP for those readers from Weight Watchers) I would go with the egg and veggies and substitute a plain or vanilla yogurt cup for fill in for some dairy and extra protein (which would be 5/6 PP). What is your power breakfast?

        Tomorrows topic: My (selfish) Weight Loss Goals

        Monday, August 8, 2011

        Day 125 - Drunken Jam and Indulgence

        So, even though jams/preserves/jellies are not the most friendly foods for weight loss, learning to eat anything in a healthy way is what I'm working on. And I love to make jams. One teaspoon at a time (or 20 grams if your a weigh-it-out kind of person like me) is only one point for my plan, which makes me happy! So I present you with my recipe for Plum Riesling Jam. This recipe makes 8 cups.

             *all photography by Kara, please no reproductions

        The only problem with making such yummy things is the temptation to eat while making... Though this did in fact prove to be problematic, I still tracked every last drop that I "taste tested" and added it to my daily food intake. Some of this yumminess will be headed over to a couple friends so that I don't have so much available. Friends are wonderful things when you're watching your food intake and have to make 'batches' of recipes and can't keep all of it around. Thank you Becca and Shinera!

        Tomorrows topic: My typical breakfasts and why I combine the foods that I do.

        Sunday, August 7, 2011

        Day 124 - Sunday, Weigh In Day

        Down another 2 lbs.!!!
        This means I have broken the 210 mark, it was kind of a milestone for me. It also means I have less than 60 lbs. to go to reach my year long goal. Need to set some new weekly/daily goals to keep motivated and on track with steady weight loss.

        I have lots of things on my mind lately and starting tomorrow we will explore my mind and my thoughts more. Each day we will have a topic. Coming up this week:
        • Review of goals
        • Why I want to be smaller (besides the obvious)
        • Loose skin (sound gross, but it's a real issue)
        • More pictures of foods and tools included in daily posts
        • Friendly (and not so friendly) recipes that I like
        Also- I'm thinking that we should have some Q & A's as topics. If you have an idea or topic you'd like to hear from my view point, leave me a comment below any post. I check them and publish them daily. 

        And big warm welcome to visitors stopping by from the BlogHer network! Please feel free to Tweet me, Like me and Stumble me.

        Saturday, August 6, 2011

        Day 123 - Lazy Excitement

        Today I'm totally in control. And lazy. But being in control of my laziness is still an accomplishment.

        O.K. so I wasn't completely lazy- I did get a bunch done in my garden and believe it or not weeding is a great activity for weight loss! I intended to swim a bit, but my garden time got kinda long. And now I'm in the middle of my snack and Yankees vs. Red Sox date with my youngest son. He made the snack, and we're watching our Bronx Bombers.

        I need to go shopping, my cupboards and fridge are relatively bare (surprising coming from a snack-aholic) and I need some good healthy snack options. If you have any ideas or favorite snack suggestions leave your thoughts in the comment section below! (p.s. weigh in in T minus14 hours and counting and I'm very excited!)

        Friday, August 5, 2011

        Day 122 - Time for a change...

        I am still going to be here, doing what I do, letting everyone peep into my odd little world. So while the blog may look slightly different, worry not readers! It's still me.

        Today = good eating, good tracking, good time at school meeting someone new and learning from the best. I'm inspired, energized and my ambition is strong as ever! And I'm feeling good about my date with the scale on Sunday morning.

        Thursday, August 4, 2011

        Days 120 & 121 - The Forgetful and Naughty

        So I completely forgot to post yesterday. What did I do yesterday you ask? I ate HORRIBLY! And am hanging my head in shame today because of it. I ate breakfast, forgot to take lunch with me to school, so I pigged out for the remainder of the evening once I returned home. Including pizza and fudge. I tracked and stayed within my points, so I did a little bit right... Today I planned and brought food with me to school and I am on plan including my GHGs. Feeling better.

        Of course I sneaked onto the scale the past few mornings, as I always do (so I guess I shouldn't call it 'sneaking') and the scale has been against me : (  It shows a gain! But I can't count my eggs till Sunday when my time to hatch arrives. We'll see...

        OoH!!!!! New picture ----->

        Tuesday, August 2, 2011

        Day 119

        Kind of a failure of a day today... I forgot to bring lunch with me to school so I ate a plate of pasta. I drank zero water until 5pm. I ate pizza for dinner. I did have some fruit and got in my dairy, but as for the remainder of my GHGs, they had the day off I guess. We'll do better tomorrow.

        Monday, August 1, 2011

        Day 118

        So for today I'm going to work on my goals and motivations for the coming weeks. I have 3 milestones that I want to hit soon, and they are within reach and I can't wait to get to them.

        In order, they are:
        • Getting under 210 lbs. (this could very well happen at my next weigh-in
        • Getting under 200 lbs. (could be accomplished within 4 weeks; haven't been this low since before I was pregnant with my 1st son over 7 years ago)
        • Dropping my BMI to 29, which will be below the 'obese' range and into the 'overweight' range
        I had set out at the beginning of my summer break to be confident enough to wear a cute dress (or skirt) back to school tomorrow... I did go clothes shopping two days ago and tried on some dresses. They were cute and I liked them, and was mostly comfortable in them, but I've never been really into dresses, and couldn't justify spending that much money on something I may not wear more than one or two times. (The old adage- if you don't love it in the store, you won't love it or wear it at home.) So I don't count this as a failure- I just changed my mind, because I could very well wear one, but it's not my style really. But I did find other cute things that are more form fitting and I'm absolutely excited to wear them!
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