Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No Weigh In [censored] [[Weight Watchers Wednesday]]

Yes, decided I couldn't take any bad news this week, so I opted to not weigh in.  That's okay - it says so right in the book!  I knew between the lack of activity I've had because of my knee, and the emotional eating I've done for reasons we haven't yet discussed, I did not want to hear what that scale had to say! 

Instead, I'll just update this week's to-do list:

#1  Done.  I added in the Smoked Turkey Cobbler featured in this week's recipe review.  I made a few adaptations after learning the original PointsPlus Value was 11.  By swapping light butter for regular and skim milk for whole I brought it down to 9.  Since I loved the filling and didn't care a lot for the biscuits, I may play around with lower points toppings for this delightful dish.

#2  I do this pretty regularly already  This week's planning was pretty easy.  I had done most of my shopping for this week's menu on my last trip to the store.  You've seen my dinner menu, so let me share what I do to plan breakfasts and lunches:
Breakfast is a rotation of:  cereal with fruit and milk//homemade breakfast sandwich//pb on toast with banana
Lunch is either:  WW Entree//Soup & Sandwich//Take-out (usually once a week on Wednesday)
Snacks are:  Yogurt//Fruits//Cut Veggies//Snack Bar//Dark Chocolate

I try not to have a lot of leftovers, because I know I'm not good about using them in the above rotation.  So if I have something leftover, I have to plan to use it.  The extra veggies from last night's Scallop, Corn & Tomato salad will be topped with tuna for an easy lunch. More substantial leftovers like lasagna or chicken will be weekend lunches when everyone is busy with activities on Saturday.  Finally, I plan for one high points day when I make a big "family dinner" on the weekends. 

As part of this to-do challenge, I will actually lay out which day I'll have what breakfast/lunch/snack and dinner and make a list accordingly.  If I feel ambitious (or detect any interest in such a thing) I'll certainly share!

#3  No way this is a one day/one post or even one week assignment.  This is ongoing for me.  Guess this one stays on the to-do list for good.

#4  Okay, I've certainly eaten them in a dish such as dip before, so I'm not sure they qualify as "new" but I want to try using artichokes!  I think I'd like to try them stuffed, but haven't fully settled on a recipe yet.  First step:  buying them!

#5  The ideas from Weight Watchers:
  1. Mashed Cauliflower for Mashed Potatoes (I actually might try this over the weekend!)
  2. Vegetarian sausage links for pork, beef or turkey (and maybe this too!  I just won't tell anyone)
  3. WW smoothies for ice cream (maybe when it's above 20 degrees)
  4. Endive leaves for tortilla chips (d'oh! this could have been my new veggie!)
  5. Asparagus guacamole for the real deal  (this could actually work for us, we love asparagus!)
  6. Fat Free Greek yogurt for Sour Cream (Definitely trying this!)
  7. Shirataki tofu noodles for regular pasta  (Want to try this, and actually found some!)
  8. Olive oil spray for regular olive oil (already doing this)
  9. 97% fat-free hot dogs for real dogs (maybe when grilling starts up!)
  10. Fresh dates for candy (would this count as a new fruit?)
I think what I should do is make #1, with #6! Or #4 with #5!  Then I can use #7 with my new vegetable, artichokes (steamed, quartered and tossed with olive oil) for a quick and easy dish!

You're right, that sounds way more ambitious than I feel. But how about you; have you tried any of these substitutions?  Do you have any sneaky ways of your own for cutting calories? 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Smoked Turkey Cobbler - Recipe Review

Picture it: 
It was Saturday morning and I hadn't been cooking much all week. 
I had an unusual amount of leftover turkey chilling in my refrigerator.
This recipe for Smoked Turkey Cobbler appeared in an article I was reading.
That night's dinner menu had just been adjusted.

Smoked Turkey Cobbler
  • 1 2/3 cup(s) flour
  • 2/3 cup(s) medium-ground polenta
  • 1 tablespoon(s) medium-ground polenta
  • 4 teaspoon(s) sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 9 tablespoon(s) butter, cold
  • 1 tablespoon(s) butter, melted
  • 1 cup(s) fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup(s) sliced green onions
  • 3/4 cup(s) low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon(s) low-fat buttermilk
  • 8 ounce(s) green beans, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
  • 2 cup(s) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup(s) whole milk
  • 1 pound(s) smoked turkey breast, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Whisk 1 1/3 cups flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl.

Cut 4 tablespoons butter into small pieces and blend into dry ingredients with a pastry blender until mixture resembles a coarse meal.
Cutting in butter 

Toss in 1/2 cup corn and green onions. Gently stir in the buttermilk until just combined.
Adding buttermilk 
At this point, let me remind you of the importance to pay careful attention to your measurements.  I had to mix my buttermilk, since I buy mine in powder form because I never use the liquid stuff fast enough.  For some reason, I mixed up 2 cups of it.  And then poured it all in.  Yes, I said two cups.  The recipe required 2/3 of a cup.  At that point, I realized there was nothing to do but make a triple batch.  Still working on using the extra biscuits. 
Tripling the batch 
Now back to the recipe.
Drop 1/4 cupfuls batter, 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with 1 tablespoon melted butter and bake until pale blond, about 12 minutes; set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

Heat a large saucepan to medium-high heat. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and add the remaining 1/2 cup corn, green beans, peppers, and adobo sauce and cook until the vegetables are tender.
Cooking veggies 
Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in remaining 1/3 cup flour and cook, while stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in broth, milk, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

Bring to a simmer while whisking and cook until smooth and thickened. Pour mixture over vegetables and add turkey. Stir to combine. Pour filling into a 2 1/2-quart casserole dish and top with reserved biscuits.
 Putting it all together 
Bake until bubbly and biscuits are golden brown, about 30 minutes.

I really liked this recipe overall.  There's a nice amount of spice in it and the taste was delicous.  You could probably make this without the spice, but I'm pretty sure you'd just have something close to turky pot pie filling.  It has also kept well, and the leftovers have been devoured.  (Mostly by me because I didn't want to cook anymore for a few days.  I'm still blaming my swelled up like a melon bum knee for that.)

Things I would do differently:
  • Use more butter on the biscuit tops before baking.I was way too skimpy on the butter when I brushed it on the biscuits.  They were a little dry, but once they were mixed into the filling it was perfect.  
  • Place the whole thing in a smaller casserole dish so it would be deeper and more evenly covered with the biscuits. 
  • Remember to measure my buttermilk :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Leftovers, Birthdays and Dinner Guests [[Menu Monday]]

Hopefully you have all read Saturday's post that explains why I'm off my blog schedule.  Well, let's face it.  I'm not that good at keeping a schedule, but I am trying. 

So it is Monday after all, which means it's time to figure out what I'm eating this week. 

The eating part isn't so hard.  I can do that sitting down.

The cooking part is a little more of a challenge. 

But here it is anyway.  A combination of stuff I didn't cook last week and stuff I can do without having to stand for an hour.

Monday - Chinese Take-Out
Because my Weight Watchers leader told me to eat out this week, that's why.
Tuesday - Scallop, Tomato & Corn
Wednesday - Slow Cooker Lasagna
Thursday - Hunter Style Chicken w/ Potatoes
Friday - Enchiladas
Saturday - Braised Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, Glazed Carrots & Homeade Rolls
Sunday - The Boy's Choice (Birthday Dinner)

In all honestly, Friday Saturday and Sunday are a bit questionable.  I don't know for sure which day we'll be celebrating, which meal our company would prefer on Friday, and which will be left for the other time slot.  So we'll take a post-it note approach to this week's menu and be happy with it!


Saturday, January 22, 2011

What did I do now?

I've been a little off about posting this week, and for good reason!  Or at least I'm going to tell myself that.  You see, on Tuesday I put my car in a ditch.  It didn't seem to be that big of a deal, almost no damage to the car and I thought there was no damage to me.  I felt fine until I went to the gym on Tuesday night.  I first noticed that my knee didn't feel quite normal when I tried to stretch before class and couldn't lift my foot behind me to stretch my quad.  I knew it was my bad knee anyway.

Wait.  Back the truck up, we need some back story here.  In 2003 I had a pretty bad accident that involved me running an ATV into a fence post and hurling my body toward the ground at 30 mph or so.  The impact caused the bones in my leg to slam together, which in turn crushed my tibial plateau.  After weeks of waiting for the swelling to go down, the doctors put me back together with a cocktail of my bone stuff, some donor bone stuff, a metal plate and eight screws.  With about six months of physical therapy, I’ve been back to doing just about any activity I desired, including high intensity aerobics classes. 

Now, back to 2011.  Tuesday night I was stretching and noticed that something didn’t feel right.  I chose to ignore it and go through with class,  even when I felt a little discomfort while warming up.  Even when I thought I might be noticing a little more pain the usual I pushed through it.  By the time class was over my knee was swollen and I was having trouble walking.  But still on Wednesday I decided to wrap it myself and go to work.  By the end of the day the swelling had grown and was now noticeable in my leg and foot.  So Thursday morning, (after going to the dentist to get two fillings) I went to my doctor, who promptly sent me to ortho. 

Thankfully, the x-ray showed that there was nothing broken, and no problems with the 2003 fix.  Then we, they, the PA decided not to do any further tests that day.  After I left (with my Celebrex and Vicodin) I wished I had been a little pushier, since I’d really like to know what actually happened.  Instead I’m left to speculate with the help of my general doc.  Best guess is that when I hit the bank in the ditch my leg either crashed into the dash or door, or bent in a way that sprained a ligament.  Nice and specific, isn’t it?  Hopefully when I go back in three weeks I can be better about getting the information I need like; when can I go back to the gym? and what activities should I avoid? 

In the meantime my menu plan has gone out the window.  I am still hoping to make enchiladas, but it may get moved to next week.  I also just found a great sounding recipe for a way to use up the last of the leftover turkey, which obviously needs to be done soon so Sunday’s dinner may get bumped as well.  Maybe I’ll take advantage of this time of convalescence to catch up on some blog reading, blog planning and even writing!  Of course if my posts don’t make sense, I’m going to blame the pain-killers! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Like Two Sticks of Bitter... I Mean Butter

Checking in after Weight Watchers, meeting 3.  That title up there?  Pure Freudian slip.  I meant to type butter the first time, and it came out bytter.  So I decided to change it to the proper spelling and go with it.  When I weighed in today, I was disappointed to see I had lost 0.6 of a pound.  Then I remembered something.  One of those sticks of butter is only 1/4 of a pound.  I lost more than two of those!  Plus my total so far is exactly 5, which is twenty of those!  Even in my stock-up-while-it's-on-sale mode, I don't ever have that many in my freezer.  So now I'm not so bitter.  Besides knowing I'm still on the path to a healthier me, I also recognize the areas where I can do better.  I had too many indulgence days, used some of my points allowance on foolish things, and didn't focus enough on getting in my healthy checks. 

Which brings me to this weeks to do list. 

1.  I have a bad feeling about this.  I tend to be so sedentary!  (It sounds better than lazy)  I mean, I certainly don't have ax chopping (1 point earned for 10 minutes).  Consequently, I don't carry a lot of wood (also 1 for 10).  But I can claim housework, ballroom dancing, painting and even scrubbing the toilet.  Each gives me a points plus value earned of 1 for 10 minutes or 4 for an hour.  Bonus!

2.  The foods I choose:  Milk, Oil and Peanut Butter.  Stay tuned for results.

3.  At today's Weight Watchers meeting we had two lifetime members at goal share their loss and time of maintenance.  One said that in order to allow herself cheesecake, she buys the little squared and keeps them in the freezer.  When she wants one, she only takes one out, lets it thaw a little then puts it on a pretty plate.  When she eats it, she feels like she's at a party.  I'll keep reading success stories and tips on the website.  I'm hoping to find someone similar to me in terms of height and weight loss, to find it visually motivating.

4.  Done.  It's a thing.  And it's done. 

5.  Work in progress.  I actually love the little smiley face I get when I use my WW Mobile app to track my healthy checks, but I forget!  Okay - it is resolved, I'll do it every day this week.  Starting now!
Liquids (Water):  4/8
Dairy:  1/2
Fruits/Veggies:  2/5
Multivitamn 1/1
Healthy Fats/Oils: 0/2
Activity:  0/1  Does it matter that I'm on the DL?

When Did I Get All These Cookbooks? [[Menu Monday]]

Before I get into this week, let me tell you how last week wend with my goal of not grocery shopping.  Saturday I went a little overboard and spend $45 at the store.  Slightly more than the $10 I had left. 
 Oh well.  I do think I'll try that chellenge again though!  Just not this week :)

I'm super far behind this week. 
I think I was thrown by having Monday off as a holiday. 
I was also a little thrown by the sudden desire to look through
Where did they come from?
It was enjoyable though, and I came up with a few things I wanted to try.
In fact, I'll be sharing some of the some of the fun things from them as I go.
Like the Williams Sonoma Simple Classics that brings up Sunday's meal below.
Or the quaint cookbook that gives you a menu plan for every occasion from "Her 15th Birthday" to "Guys Game Night"
So far, I've only made butter cream frosting from that one.

So even though it's two days late, I really like posting my menu plan so here it is!

Monday - Taco Salads
(Didn't have these Saturday because My Guy took me out instead!)
Tuesday - Flounder with Almonds & Grapes
Wednesday - Slow Cooker Lasagna
Thursday - Hunter Style Chicken w/ Potatoes
Friday - Homemade Pizza & Tossed Salad
Saturday - Eating Out at Home (Mexican Night*)
(*Trying again.  This time it's enchiladas)
Sunday - Braised Pork Loin, Mashed Potatoes, Glazed Carrots & Homeade Rolls

Now, about the enchiladas. 
I can make them, but they're just okay. 
I mean, they're nothing special. 
Thing is, Mr Sinister threw down the gauntlet.
He said someone else made him the best enchiladas ever.
And  I know I have some mighty fine chef-friends out there.

So friends got any award winning (or just really good) enchilada recipes you'd like to share?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Timely Advice - and a Late Thrifty Thursday Post

It's time for another installment of Thrifty Thursday.  The day of the week when I take all of the advice I've gleaned during the week , reduce it to only the finest, and share it with all of you.

Okay, I definitely missed the Thrifty Thursday post, but here's something to make it up to you.  How about the find of the weekEND?

WHAT I FOUND:  Simply, how not to gain weight on the weekend  WHAT I'M USING IT FOR: Portion control while dining out.  My guy is taking me out for date night tonight and I gotta remember to be in control.  Hope you're all having a great weekend!

What tips and tricks have you found this week? 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To Do List: Week 2 [[Weight Watchers Wednesday]]

To-Do List: Week 2

1. Track your weight (Done)
Done, I lost 4.4 pounds.  But remember this is week one. 
Funny story though:  when I first weighed in today the loss recorded in my book was 15.3. 
Yeah - okay.  I'd take that until I had an unexplained 9 pound gain next week!

2. Create a meal in the PointsPlus Tracker  (Going to do)
Not even done a little bit. 
Going to add some of my favorite breakfasts though. 
3. Make one small change to a favorite meal or snack  (Going to do)
My go to snack  at work is yogurt.
Good choice?  Yes  Filling? No
Now that fruit is "free" I've invited it along to the party.
Of course I think the idea is to make a healthy exchange so: maybe I'll try:
Asparagus "Guacamole", Mashed Cauliflower or buying shirataki tofu noodles for regular pasta

4. Stock your pantry (Going to do)
Going shopping this weekend.
Just re-read that.  Weekend.  Shopping. 
Wish me luck.

5. Check that your weight-loss expectations are realistic. (Doing)
 Looks like this one will be along term "doing"
To me, this item was more about staying motivated and not expecting too much of yourself. 
(like losing 15 pounds in one week)
I've been wanting to try a little projecect with myself, so I think it's time to get to it:

I will need:
2 glass containers
100 marbles

Each day, I'll determine whether or not I followed the program (remember, that doesn't require perfection, just tracking, meeting good health guidelines, getting active).  One of the containers will be for the days when I was on program (OP) and the other for days I'm not.  I'll place the marbles accordingly.  At the end of 100 days, I'll see just how "good" I've been.
That's my list for this week.  What steps are you taking in your healthy journey this week?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cooking from the Cupboard - My Menu

I've become one of those people.
The people that find a bargain at the grocery store and buy it.
As many of it as they will allow me to put in my cart.
And then it sits in my freezer/pantry/etc.
So this week I challenged myself to spend less than $20 on fresh produce and dairy and get everything else from what I already have. 
So far I've spent less than $10 of that, which is good because I think I need some veggies.

Monday - Retirement party
Tuesday - Cordon Bleu for Two, Garlic Couscous & Steamed Veggies
Wednesday - Beef & Noodles (with grandma's homemade noodles!) & Tossed Salad
Thursday - Scallop, Corn & Tomato Salad
Friday - Beer Soaked Beef, Peppers & Southwestern Corn
Saturday - Eating Out at Home (Mexican Night)
Sunday - Turkey, Roasted Winter Vegetables, Tossed Salad and Olive Bread

What's on your plate this week?


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Two of my Favorite Words: Cheap & Free ::Thrifty Thursday::

It's time for another installment of Thrifty Thursday.  The day of the week when I take all of the advice I've gleaned during the week , reduce it to only the finest, and share it with all of you.

WHAT I FOUND:  The holidays are over.  Your wallet is thinner and your are decidely not.  So you need:  Cheap Diet Dinners!  At $3 or less per serving, you can afford to feed the whole family a healthy meal, instead of feeling like a short-order cook making one thing for th ekids, one for the hubby and one for you.  (That reminds me, anyone catch this week's episode of the middle?)  WHAT I'M USING IT FOR:  This recipe for three bean & barley soup.  The Mr. of the house has been requesting something barley, so it's been bound to hit the menu.  Look for it in the coming weeks!

WHAT I FOUND:  Something that's been on all our minds, in some form of another, since at least 11:30 on New Year's Eve:  The Foolproof Trick to Keeping Your Resolutions.  Well, that's what the title of the article anyway, but what we've got is great dieas for making small changes toward 4 popular resolutions.  WHAT I'M USING IT FOR:  Sleep!  I don't know if it was a resolution of mine exactly, but I know I need to be better about getting it.  It's crazy how much I watch TV before bed.  Or read blogs, Facebook or email.  I'm not sure when I'll tackle this monster, but it will be soon!

WHAT I FOUND:  So you want to lose a few pounds (or more), but don't want to make drastic changes.  We're told that to lose a pound a week we need a calorie deficit of 3500, or 500 per day.  That means we either need to excercise enough to burn 500 more, eat 500 less, or a little of both.  Enter:  Simple Ways to Cut 500 Calories  WHAT I'M USING IT FOR:  I'm going to tackle the at work and Saturday strategies.  I really like th idea of standing more at work (and I have the option) and I'll use any excuse to sleep in a little on the weekend. 

WHAT I FOUND:  Weight Watchers' new program, Points Plus!  Okay, it's not brand new, but I just started it all over again (and it is only about a month old).  Sure, you have to be a subscriber to get the full scoop, but I had to make this my find of the week.  Because fruit is FREE!  That's pretty much the best gift ever.  Thanks Weight Watchers Powers That Be (WWPTB) WHAT I'M USING IT FOR:  A reason to eat bananas again!  And to make fruit my go to snack when hunger strikes. 

What tips and tricks have you found this week? 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Weight Watchers Wednesday

To-Do List: Week 1

1. Take a "before" picture and track your measurements
  • Finally got this one done this morning.  That's okay though, because today feels like Day One.  Like the true beginning.  And that's not just because I skipped the gym to go to a basketball game last night where I had an ice cream cone and shared a large popcorn.  Picture taken, measurements noted. 
2. Track what you eat
  • All over this one.  Over the weekend I went in search of the planner I bought last year because it was an excellent place to record my daily life, including my food journal.  The first thing I learned was that daily planners are rediculously expensive.  The second thing is that I had no luck finding the exact same one.  So far, the pretty blue one I did find is doing the job nicely, although it feels a little cramped.  I suppose I'll lean more on using the WW mobile app this year.
3. Plan the best weigh-in strategy for you
  • I'm go-to meeting kind of weight watcher.  Last year I convinced myself I didn't need meetings because I'd already learned the program so well.  I wasn't learning anything new afterall (yeah, right).  So then they went and changed up the program at the end of 2010, taking away my excuse!  Therefore, I'm heading back to meetings with my favorite local leader, Joanne.  I'll be going today at noon, as well as every Wednesday at noon.  Now you see why toay feels like Day One!
4. Build your Favorites
  • Still working on this one.  A lot of my old favorites need to be recalculated with the new PointsPlus values.  It's hard to get used to those numbers being higher! 
5. Clean fridge & cupboards and fill with healthy foods
  • Half done.  The fridge is full of healthy stuff only, but the cupboards are sadly full of temptations.  Mostly in the form of leftover Christmas goodies.  Those haven't been too much temptation, though.  The items I truly can't have around without testing my self control: 
Lays Garden Tomato Basil chips - seriously these are my new kryptonite.  I can eat the entire bag.  I've been known to hide a bag in my car so I can eat it without sharing (and of course secretly). 

So there you have it, my week one progress.  Do you have a to-do list for your health & fitness goals?  If so, share it here!

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Menu - January 3, 2011

Monday - Chef Salad (using leftover ham)
Tuesday - Pan Fried Flounder w/ homemade fries and salad
Wednesday - Split Pea Soup with Ham and Cheese (still using leftover ham)
Thursday - Breakfast for Dinner:  Ham & Potato Frittata (is the ham gone yet?)
Friday - Meatloaf w/ Steamed Vegetables & Rice
Saturday - Eat Out at Home:  (Check back on this one, it's gonna be great!)
Sunday - Roast Beef with Potatoes & Carrots

Okay, this sort of looks like a lot of comfort food, but it's cold in Iowa!  Besides, I plan to make it all very waistline friendly! 

I'm Back (Again)

Well, here we are, a new year (a new you!)  Oh, that's just what happens in my head every time I mention the new year.  I'm actually working on a few catch-phrases for 2011:
  • Ready, Set - Get skinny!
  • Size 7 in 2011!
  • Since at first you didn't succeed, try, try, try again!
  • (And my favorite) Here we go again (with a generous backbeat and techno sounding pitch correction)
What do you think? 

Nah but really - I can't stand it anymore.  I'm back and I'm serious.  I don't want to hit 2012 obese or even overweight.  I'm not getting younger and it's not going to get any easier.  Only I can make this change and it's time I make it happen.

So here we are, on the first Monday of 2011 and we are making menu plans.  It's working out so well that I'm planning that for every Monday here in the Better Jeans world.   I'll be back later today with what I've got!  In the meantime, enjoy today's find:  7 Simple Changes to held your weight loss efforts. 

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