Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happy Meals

As great as I did in terms of food choices over the holiday weekend, I must confess the road trip back home ended it all with a bag of pretzel M&Ms and a stop at McDonalds for dinner. 

Though I know chocolate and a happy meal isn't exactly the epitome of a diet "disaster" I did end up paying the price with uncomfortable gas Tuesday.    We may or may not have also had a cookie that Monday night when we got back to our apartment.  (Next time I'll definitely plan out our road trip foods better)

The rest of the week has been back to normal as Tuesday night we forced ourselves to go for a late night grocery run for the essentials, and I managed to pick up the rest of the necessities yesterday after work. 

Grocery shopping midweek has its definite perks.   No long lines, no crowds and I get to peruse each and every aisle as long as I'd like.    It also has its drawbacks.   I'm shopping alone and by "peruse" I mean, toss everything intriguing into my cart.

A few of yesterdays finds that werent on the list yet magically made it into my cart were the following: 

That little green guy down there is a Feijoa.  A fruit native to South America and often referred to as a pineapple guava. Its one I've never tried before and at $1.29 per fruit I must say I have pretty big expectations.  

Once I figure out what I'm going to do with it I'll come back and report. Same goes for the rest of the items I picked up. Walking past the basket of mangoes they had at the store, the aroma lured me in... if I'm not mistaken my father and I are the only ones in the family who seem to have a fondness for mangoes. 

Coincidentally I also had to pick up the mango fire cheddar. Again, I dont know what Im going to do with it just yet but cheese and I have always had a love affair and this one in particular must be sampled. 

As for the tea, I plan on doing a little experimenting with it even though I've read a lot of mixed reviews about it.  Some people have apparently found the taste to be much like that of dirt.   How these people know what dirt tastes like is beyond me but with the amount of reviews that are much more positive I'm willing to give it a go! Bob Greene uses it for a Caramel Truffle Latte and thats definitely on my "must try"  list. 

I trust everyone is having a good week, I am super far behind on doing any blog reading but come Saturday morning I will be playing catch up as best I can.  For now, wish me luck with these experiments and lets hope I'm not one of the few who find out what dirt tastes like ;) 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekend of food in photos...

Day 64

The weekend thus far has been absolutely blissful.  We're visiting family just outside of chicago and though I didn't have a definitive game plan on what I was going to be eating while away, I must say I have been doing alright staying on the right track.  

Saturday morning Abel and I had a stop to make in Chicago to deliver a parcel of my robots to the art store which sells them.   Considering we were up by 4:30 a.m. to make the 5 hour drive, its safe to say I wasn't fully awake enough to even THINK about getting photos of the lovely Lincoln Square area nor the adorable art store.  

Arriving an hour prior to the store opening, we found ourselves killing time at the corner Starbucks.  

We both opted for skinny versions of our mochas but the taste of the fake sugar was pretty dominant and I didn't bother finishing mine.  Prior to leaving our apartment in Cincy we had packed a good nutritious breakfast pita so we weren't too tempted to check out their delicious pastry options which is of course a good thing. 

We were also waiting for a friend  to meet us and spend a little time together before Abel and I made the rest of the drive to see our families.   After making the drop off and spending some time in the art store we went across the street to a corner restaurant/pub named "Fork"  for brunch.   (Again I didnt even think to take a photo but you can actually see the restaurant with its brown canopies in the background of the photo above)  

Of course it finally dawns on me to pull my camera out once we are just about to eat... and instead of taking photos of our friend or each other, I only think to take photos of the food.   Sometimes I wonder if its in poor form or manners to take pictures of our food in public but... heck does it really matter?  Food is nourishment and deserves the spotlight....  

I did refrain from photographing my friends food because... well because it wasnt mine! Abel also snapped a shot of his choice of brunch... the way we figure, we have this blog where food is a major star.  Its only natural! ;0) 

As much as the turkey and panini with garlic cilantro fries was calling my name, I opted for something that would have been slightly easier to fit into the 5-piece puzzle:

Tomato Basil Omelette with a side of potatoes
Abel in turn went with this awesome little dish: 
Truffled Eggs
Scrambled eggs with shitake mushrooms, truffle goat cheese and arugula on a puff pastry.  (After having a bite of his I was a little less than impressed with my omelette.  The puff pastry his eggs were on was divine.)

I did what I could to keep my portions with the 5 piece puzzle in mind, ate two pieces of the small potato, half a slice of bread and half of my omelette. 

Surprisingly enough I was pretty satisfied with that amount of food.   The goat cheese was a little overkill in terms of my portions but I wasn't about to stress on that.  We're on vacation dammit ;0) 

The friend who joined us ended up ordering the bacon and turkey panini with the garlic cilantro fries (I think in part to torture me;)  but after all was said and done I asked how the panini was and his answer was a basic "eh, it was good"... but apparently not ground breaking which made me feel a little better for not ordering it.   He did share some garlic cilantro fries though and all I can say about that is "heavenly".   

Potatoes never disappoint :0) 

As for the rest of our foods, well Abel and I split up to see our respective families so he's taking a break from the 5 piece puzzle while I am trying a little experiment to see just how hard it actually is to stay on the plan when youre not at home in your own kitchen. 

Sunday morning my mother went to mass and on her way back home made a stop at the local Mexican store and picked up some "carnitas" for the family to enjoy.  Its pretty much a ritual she does whenever any of her kids are in town for the weekend.   These are the foods we used to eat every Sunday morning growing up.  

And not just our little household, it was the entire family.  Every Sunday.   15-20 of us in whoevers house was chosen for the week eating and spending quality time together...  you know the deal -- the cultural deal where food is a staple for any and every occasion.  Its no wonder I was tipping the scales all of my life! 

Sometimes the menu varied but when one didnt feel like cooking, it was always the traditional "carnitas"... meat, beans, tortillas, nopales, salsa and sometimes even a few dozen tamales.  And of course mexican sweet bread for those who wanted "dessert".... 

These days the Sunday breakfasts aren't celebrated much due to recent deaths in the family, but my parents will still pick some up when we are in town.   Now though, we nix the sweet bread and stick with just enough meat and nopales (cactus) for the handful of us. 

I'm not sure how commonplace "Nopales" are for many but they add a perfect amount of freshness to the tacos.  A vegetable from the prickly pear cactus, not something we used to eat as children because well.. because it was a vegetable (ewww) but as an adult it's a must have for family sunday breakfast. 

Our tortilla of choice is generally corn but on a recent trip to Mexico my mother was introduced to tortillas made from this same prickly pear cactus- dried,ground up. and combined with the corn tortilla recipe:

The color is so vibrant and the taste doesn't differ from corn tortillas at all (not to me anyway).  Each tortilla has a mere 20 calories and the packaging boasts that 4 of these tortillas are the equivalent to one corn tortilla.  We've scoured the internet to see if we can find these available anywhere in the states but the closest thing we've found is a company in California whos calories are still twice as much as these. 

Not that we're counting calories but as usual, I like the variety of foods and I'm taking a few packages back home with us.  The only questionable thing is the ingredients.  The packaging only mentions they are 60% nopal, 40% corn.  Due to the bright green hue I question whether there are dyes involved but I will have to ask my cousins in Mexico to find out from the supplier.  

Either way you look at it, they make for beautiful tacos: 

Could these perhaps be deemed Incredible Hulk Tacos?   I'm thinking yes....   just remember, you saw them here first ;0) 

So wait a second, this is memorial day weekend.. wheres the cookout food? The burgers? the hot dogs? the potato salad, the drinks, and the baked goods? 

Well, they were there too but to be perfectly honest, I didn't exactly enjoy them with as much gusto as I thought I would.  I got halfway through a burger before my body gave up interest in eating the rest.  Its been a while since we've eaten red meat and about an hour later my head was starting to hurt.  Could have been the red meat, could have been the oversized bun, or even the half serving of rice.   Grain overload?   

Who knows, all I know is a few hours later I got back to my parents house, prepared a mock strawberry crisp and right after eating it my headache ceased.  

Amazing the way our bodies communicate things to us....  its nothing new, nothing revolutionary... just natural.  Whats really amazing is how long I've gone without paying attention to its signals... aside from hunger that is.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You mean cherries live outside of jars?

(Day 59)
Would you believe that before this week came, I had never experienced fresh cherries before?

Abels jaw just about dropped when I mentioned it to him in the grocery store....  Recently we've been buying the frozen ones which are great for our smoothies but not once have I questioned why I've never bought them fresh.

Growing up, my mother only ever kept jarred maraschino cherries in the fridge for her pineapple upside down cakes.  Thats what I knew cherries to be for the majority of my life.

Is that sad?   Well perhaps it is....  but at the end there was still a pineapple upside down cake so don't feel too bad for me ;0)

Needless to say when I saw them on display in all of their loveliness I had to pencil them onto our grocery list.  I havent incorporated them into any recipes yet because Im truly just enjoying them as they are right now.  Dee-licious!

In other news, tomorrow marks day 60 of our new eating lifestyle and I must admit I'm very surprised at myself for being able to stay so consistent.   I know much of it has to do with the fact that we are just now on the verge of finding a world of recipes to tinker with and plug into the 5 piece puzzle regimen.  It definitely helps stay on top of things...

Don't get me wrong, the health benefits are a HUGE factor and should be the #1 reason for sticking to cleaner eating but lets be real.. if my health was always top priority for me in my life I wouldn't at one point in my life have been 100+ pounds overweight.   It takes a long time to re-prioritize a lifestyle change...

Also the fact that Abel and I are doing this together plays a huge role.  If I were doing this alone my attention span would have probably fallen by the wayside by now ...  60 days... my how they've flown!

Last night we experimented with Martha Stewarts Spicy Enchiladas in a Pumpkin Sauce.

I've seen different variations on this recipe from other bloggers and for our version, I kinda took them all and combined what worked for us to fit it into our 5 piece puzzle.  Once I get the chance to, I will post the recipe for our version accrediting those sites who helped steer us in the right direction of course.  First though, we had to make a test run of it to see if we were even going to like it.

Funny thing is, I have never been a huge fan of pumpkin anything, yet all I could think about yesterday was coming home from work and giving this recipe a go.

It was a little more time consuming but I have to admit it was very much worth it.    I tried to capture a nice inviting picture of the meal but when you think about it, enchiladas oftentimes look like a hot mess:

But believe you me, this hot mess was damn delicious.

You may not be able to tell, but there is no cheese on these enchiladas.  In keeping with the 5 piece puzzle strategy, cheese falls as a protein so we had a decision to make.  Either make them all veggie with cheese or throw in some meat and/or beans.   In the end, we decided we had to use up the blackbeans that had been sitting in the refrigerator and because it wasn't enough black beans, we made up the rest with some chicken.

As deep as my love for cheese runs, I can honestly say I didn't even miss it in this recipe.  The consistency of the pumpkin gave it an added dimension of texture for us that was perfect.   Abel loved it just as much as I did.  The only thing that was missing in our meal was the "healthy fat" aspect of the dish.   By the time I realized we had left it out I was too ready to tear into my meal to even care.

We do have a little tweaking to do with the recipe because I feel the amount of sauce I made could be cut down a bit, but as soon as we get it just right, I guarantee we will share it with a few variation options soon!

Happy Wednesday Bloggville.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Peanut Butter and Banana Nut Dip

In case you didn't know, i'm a bit of a Peanut Butter fanatic...

A couple of weeks ago I was looking for ideas on creating more of a dessert-type of snack and though I'm quite particular about the ingredients I combine with my beloved Peanut Butter I found something that worked like a  charm and still (kinda) fit into the 5 piece puzzle strategy.

I say "kinda" because the graham crackers are a little sugary and probably wouldn't meet Cynthias stamp of approval as an acceptable "whole grain" but if you're looking to keep this strictly SASS approved, I would recommend switching them out for a grain of your choice.  Since starting our cleaner eating we are definitely more restrictive with our sugars but as an occasional indulgence we found this to be both delicious and satisfying.

Heres what you'll need for one serving:
One small banana (no more than 5")
1/4 cup of ricotta cheese
2 TBSP of Peanut Butter (I prefer crunchy PB for the extra bits of nut)
a pinch of cinnamon
a serving of crackers -- we used Back To Nature's Honey Graham sticks but its open to just about any whole grain cracker or bread of your choice.

No real directions other than to mix the first four ingredients until they are thoroughly blended and creamy and spreading or dipping with your grain of choice.

I do find letting it sit in the refrigerator tends to up the creamy factor but if youre in a rush or simply impatient (like me) it's still absolutely delicious directly after prepping.

Easy peasy... definitely my kind of recipe :0)  Next time I'd like to try this as a spread for Wasa Crispbreads. The possibilities in fruits and grains are quite endless so if I come up with any other winners in the near future I will definitely let you guys know.   Peanut butter and strawberries anyone? :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Saturdays Weigh In

(Day 57)

Saturday was day 55 and I am happy to report that our experiments in the kitchen were apparently along the right track.

I am down 1.4 pounds and Abel is down one pound for the week.

My apologies for not getting this out on Saturday but considering we will be out of town this upcoming weekend, we got a little busy trying to plan out two weeks worth of meals instead of just one.    Aside from that we're still scouring some books and blogs for other recipes to plug into this 5 piece puzzle system of eating. It's proving to be quite fun for us!

Last week we tweaked 5 new recipes and 4 of those 5 are definite keepers.   Sadly, our Saturday night Paella was a bit of a flop in my eyes.    It wasn't bad tasting, it was actually quite delicious but Paella it was not.   Not by a long shot and therefore I was left a little disappointed.

Back to the drawing board for that one.

At any rate, here are the overall stats as they stand within our first 55 days of SASS Yourself Slim:

Frances is down 21.2 pounds & Abel is down 30.2

As I've mentioned before Abel doesn't have any goal weight he would like to achieve.  After the initial 30 days, his mind was focused on the way cleaner eating is making him feel physically as opposed to what any old scale says.   I so admire him for that...

As for me, I've never been at a "healthy weight " in my entire life (not even as a child) so to claim a definite goal is hard.  I do have a goal range and that would require for me to lose another 23-38 pounds.  I know, its quite a large range but my number is in there somewhere and it's only a matter of time before I get to it.

In the meantime we will continue on this plight and share with you our little kitchen and weigh in adventures :0)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blogger issues and Tarragon...

(Day 54)
We are apparently experiencing technical difficulties with the comments section.  I like using IntenseDebate for the comments but suddenly it seems the form is no longer showing up on my entries.   I have a few comments in my gmail box from last saturdays weigh in, but as you can see on that page the form for intense debate isn't even showing up.. or at least its not showing up for me.   It's a bit of a head scratcher.. I've just tried reinstalling and if that doesnt do the trick I'll have to wait until I can figure out what the root of the problem is.   

Not like I'm really posting too much lately as it is.   Remember how I said this was my final week of a busy schedule?  Well I lied...  the woman who is picking up some hours at work won't be able to do so until June so I'm stuck one more week.  (Thank GOD for Memorial Day cutting me some slack the week after next)

At any rate, thus far the experiments in our dinner choices of the week have all been wonderful.  I was hoping to come and review each recipe as we made it but time has been whooshing past and it just hasn't been possible.    We've already tried 4 new recipes (3 new dinners and one new snack) and we have yet to be disappointed.  

In a way its ok because I'd first like to see what the results are on the scale for the end of this week.  Its one thing to follow Cynthias recipes and have the faith in her smarts to know what she's doing but its another to put the recipe components in my hands and have the same trust.   I'll get there in time :0)   If all goes well I'll  be posting these recipes once I get the down time to sit and write them out properly. 

Tuesday I found out I have apparently been missing out big time on the wonderousness that is stuffed acorn squash.  Yummmm... 

Stuffed Acorn Squash- (Recipe to Come Soon)
Our filling for the squash ended up being a bit of a free-for-all with the odds and ends we had in the fridge.  A little bit of chickpeas, a little ground turkey, a little wild rice, a little quinoa and a smidgeon of other veggies.  Everything in its appropriately measured portions of course.  It was so good I went out the next day and bought another little acorn squash so we can do it again soon.

Last night we tinkered around with Tarragon Chicken and though I was very leary about it during the cooking process, it was one of those meals that took me about 2 or 3 bites before I realized how delicious it was.  

Considering I've never cooked with tarragon before I had no idea what it would taste like.  The smell had me a little uncertain and upon doing a google search a lot of people were comparing it to anise and licorice.  I know I've had anise before in other dishes but I couldn't tell you what it tastes like on its own so that doesn't really help me.  And licorice?  Eek... if tarragon were to taste like licorice I would more than likely gag and snub my nose at it.... 

Much thanks to Abel and his open mindedness, I let go of my reservations and  trusted the initial recipe card we were using as a "base".   My mind was on auto pilot ready to serve the chicken on top of some rice when  Abel suggested our grain and fat for the meal be a slice of whole grain toast with a spread of mashed avocado.  

Tarragon Chicken with a side of Avocado Toast
Never being one to turn down avocado, I quickly (and happily) nixed the idea of rice.  The way I figured if I don't care for the chicken at least I know I'll love the side of toast! 

Lucky for me, the chicken was delicious.   Two bites into it I was like "ok, ok this isn't bad at all".... after a few more bites I found myself saying "MMM... this is really good"!  The original recipe only called for zucchini and carrots but we had a small nib of red cabbage we needed to use up so into the dish it went.  

Tonight we play with scallops and pineapple rice.  I have high hopes for this dinner indeed.  I'll be working on getting all these recipes together this weekend and trying my best to post them when I can.  I still owe you guys the Rose and White Chocolate Biscotti recipe I made for Mothers Day. I have not yet forgotten!

So many recipes, so little time.   TGIF bloggers, I hope you're all ending your week well!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm a sucker for foods with cute names...

(Day 51)

Altered version of Ellie Kriegers L.O.V.E  wrap
Presenting to you... the LOVE Wrap.

What exactly is the "L-O-V-E" aspect of the wrap, you say?  Quite simple, really.. it's  Lettuce, Onion, Veggies & Egg.

A spin off of an egg salad wrap and oh so delicious. (Thank You Ellie Krieger!) In order to have it fit into the SASS strategy, it more than likely needs a side salad to make up for the regular serving of lunch/dinner veggies.   Due to much laziness and time restriction  we opted out of getting all the veggies in.  Abel did have a smidgen of the extra veggies that didn't fit into his wrap but not quite enough to call it the full serving.

Don't let the monochromatic snoozefest of the photo fool you.  It was oh so delicious and is definitely going to stay in our food rotations.

The only changes we made were to use 1/4 of an avocado instead of mayo, yellow bell pepper (because we were out of red)...  and we used only one hard boiled egg per wrap.  Next time we make this I'd like to include some tomato (better yet sun dried tomato) and get that small side salad in.

Perhaps once we actually have the time to get it right I'll re-post this in the 5 piece puzzle format with a much more appealing photo ;0)

This weekend was somewhat an off plan weekend for us.  Partly because we didn't get out of bed Sunday till almost 11, making it impossible to get all 4 meals in for the day and partly because Saturday we indulged in extra snacks for a night at the movies (snacks were wasabi peas and whole grain crackers). Perfect for the munchies though the crunch aspect of the wasabi peas might have been a bit loud :0)

For Sundays dinner we decided to try out Ginas Cheesy Jalapeno Popper Baked Chicken.  It doesnt necessarily fit into the five piece puzzle but paired with a serving of veggies, we found that just one of the chicken breasts was quite satisfying rather than the serving size of two suggested.

There was enough of the filling to top the breast off with a little dollop and instead of breading the entire chicken, we used the leftover cracker bits from our whole wheat crackers to drizzle on top of our chicken and veggies.

Not something we'll be rotating around every week but definitely a dish that we must revisit!

As much as we have fallen in love with the recipes of Cynthias book, there are a number of them that we keep wanting to repeat over and over again and though thats not a bad thing, it would be a bad thing if we got sick of them so we've been on the lookout for new recipes to plug into the 5 piece puzzle.

As we grocery shop, Abels been picking up some of the freebie recipe cards offered at Meijer and we're going to do our best to tweak the following recipes into a five piece puzzle fashion for the remaining dinners of this week:

Tuesday:  Stuffed Acorn Squash
Wednesday: Lemon Chicken Over Pasta
Thursday: Tarragon Chicken
Friday:  Spicy Scallops with Pineapple Rice
Satuday: Paella

Some of these are somewhat basic and won't require too much tweaking.  Fridays dinner wont exactly fit Cynthias plans as she prefers to keep all fruits in snacks and breakfasts only but pineapple rice sounds too good to pass up.  I may tweak the serving size of my other fruits that day to accomodate for the change and of course add some veggies in the mix.   I'm not exactly sure why Cynthia doesn't mix veggies with her fruits but I'll see if I can find out.

This week has been particularly rough for me to stay on plan due to Aunt Flo and her monthly visit again.  She turns me into a beast and all I want to do is snack away 24/7.   The fact that we are going to be trying these new recipes is helping me though...  I want to know that I can trust myself in tweaking any recipe of my choice into a 5 piece puzzle fit and still lose the weight.

In reality, this is exactly the reason Cynthia developed this strategy-- but in my head, the thoughts of ME getting my grubby little pudgy hands on the five piece puzzle, I'm skeptical that I'll be the one to find a way to gain weight on this plan rather than lose ;0)

If any of our dinners this week are less than par I won't be posting the recipes for them until we can tweak them and get them just right.   The paella should be VERY interesting as it isn't exactly one of those recipes that can be "just ok".  True paella is absolutely DAMN delicious and if we can come up with something remotely similar I'll be in heaven.

Its the recipe I'm looking forward to the most!

In closing news, today is National Chocolate Chip Day. Who comes up with these things?  I surely don't know but I'm never one to argue the concept of chocolate in any form..

Out of sheer coincidence we had pre-chosen a breakfast that includes our good friends chocolate chips:   Chocolate Pear and Vanilla Smoothie.  You'll note on the Shape website its originally supposed to be ginger rather than vanilla but I am still not a fan of having ginger in anything sweet.

Any ginger servings will just have to be in savory dishes along with vegetables rather than fruits.  These tastebuds of mine aren't budging on the matter, but as long as they don't dislike ginger altogether, I'm all good.

Hope everyone in blog land is having a great start to their week!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday Weigh In

Day 48.

Abel is kicking ass (once again) this week.

It's astounding the differences in men and womens bodies.  If I didn't love him so much I'd be forced to hate him ;0) Here's our results:

Frances lost:  1.2 lbs
Abel lost: 3.8 lbs

See what I mean?   3.8 pounds.. the man is on fire!

He doesn't necessarily have a determined amount of weight he'd like to lose nor a specific goal he'd like to hit... he's just taking it all day by day reaping in the benefits.

Ah to be so nonchalant about weightloss, must be nice ;)

As for me, I'll gladly take the 1.2 pound loss -- especially since this was a zero exercise week.

My feet would tell you a different story as they have been sore every single night since last weekend.  Considering my job keeps me on my feet I can't say any of my weeks are ever "zero activity".

It's definitely one of the things I enjoy about my job.   Not the aching feet of course, but the fact that it incorporates me having to move around-- lifting 50lb bags of flour, 50 lb bags of sugar,  mixing and carrying huge bags of dough... etc etc etc

It helps to take away some of the guilt for my lack of at-home exercise.

At any rate, just wanted to touch base and put out the numbers for the week.  Thanks for everyone who commented on that last post knocking some sense into this head of mine after I said I was losing weight at a slow pace....

I think in combination with Abels big numbers and seeing the total tally of last months weight loss it is comparatively slow but it's not a fair comparison.  Our initial 30 days included the five day fast forward which jump started everything.  And of course Abel and I are both our own person and trying to stack up to his numbers is just plain silly for me to do.

Thus far, I'm averaging out to 1.4 pounds a week in this 2nd run of "30 days" and thats certainly a healthy amount of loss per week.  Sometimes its hard to get that through my thick little skull!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Checking In...

(Day 46)

Two more days and the madness of Mothers Day at work ends ...

As much as I applauded myself for not granting a "get out of exercise free" card last Friday, I am about to admit that this entire week I have given myself that free pass.

I'd like to tell you that I miss the after feeling of the endorphins kicking in but to be 100% honest I don't really miss it at all.   Im probably not supposed to say that, but its true.   My life balance has shifted tremendously the last 6 weeks and something as simple as letting the workouts taper off for a bit has allowed me to get back the "me" time I've been needing to let the toxic stress dissipate.

Of course I'm fairly certain this lack of activity will reflect on the scale but considering its one week for the sake of my mental health I'm a-okay with it.   Due to my inactivity I have been tweaking my snacks since Tuesday -- mainly cutting out the grain portions and sticking to the fruit and protein aspects instead.   This is also being done in part because of all the yummy biscottis I taste tested earlier in the week.   Trying to put things in balance...  I should also mention this extra "me" time isn't just sitting around lounging -- its still being productive as time invested in my Etsy shop items.  My poor little Etsy shop has been on the back burner for most of the year and I really miss having the creative outlet.

As for weighing in, I got a comment yesterday from Marianne asking if we were going to continue posting them and though the original intent was to not weigh in month 2, we've still been weighing in on Saturday mornings, I simply didnt get around to posting this past Saturday.   It completely slipped my mind!

Last Saturday (May 5th) was Day 11 of Month 2 and I was down 3 pounds, Abel was down 4.2.

The weight is coming off at a fairly slow rate for me now and though that would normally frustrate me, the fact that we're reaping in the benefits of such healthy eating (great energy, satisfied hunger, delicious foods) the speed of the pounds dropping has gone from being the main event, to the wonderous side effect.

I've got one more full week of work ahead of me and then my schedule should open up a little more.  I'd like to get in some different recipes and start tinkering with our own.  I will pick up with the walking dvds again come Monday morning ... as much as I'm enjoying the extra time this particular week I don't want to get entirely lax and allow myself to think I don't "need" to exercise.

With all the excuses in the world, a positive "need" must trump the selfish "want"...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Who moved my kitchen? (Take 2)

(Day 44)

Blogger is playing tricks on me.  Two sentences into writing my original post it decides to publish it mid sentence.   My apologies if anyone comes up to a broken link trying to read that silly two sentence post.

Things got rather busy around here Sunday and Monday.  The good news is I managed to track down all the items I needed for my Mothers Day recipe and it is officially done and ready to be shipped out.   I can't tell you how sensational it is having your home smell of roses and cookies simultaneously.

I'll be posting the recipe I tweaked to make these soon if anyone is interested.

I wish I could be there to see my moms reaction when she takes the first bite.

Truth be told the only difference I would have made was to cut back on the sugar slightly.  They aren't overwhelmingly sweet, but the white chocolate chips do make it a little sweeter than anticipated.

I probably taste tested one too many but I'm ok with that as the flavors were so indescribably lovely together.

I do recall tasting the rose flavored ice cream my mother was so fond of in Mexico but I wasn't too impressed.  The flavors in that ice cream were a little overwhelming and overpowered into my sinuses.  Of course I was a wee little girl back then and I would more than likely be willing to give it another try as an adult.

As for the biscotti, nothing overwhelming but the flavor of rose is undeniable.  Its soft on the palate and lingers perfectly for a few seconds after each bite.   Tied to the ribbon are two packs of Rose infused tea and I'll be sending it along with a recipe card stating these cookies are one of a kind special made in honor of one woman.   (Hence the name Rosas de Lola biscotti)

I'm such a sap for my dear sweet mother :0)

As for the title of todays blog, I was thrilled that we were able to get all the unique ingredients I needed for the biscotti but I failed to notice one small detail.

The butter.   The most basic of ingredients that more than likely everyone has in their fridge.  After reviewing the base recipe I was tweaking for the biscotti, it dawned on me that we have no butter and I found it a little amusing.   Such a household staple and we haven't had it in ours for months.  Silly us!

From what I've read biscotti recipes don't generally require butter, but the base I was using from uses the smallest bit and believe you me, I know that Gina never steers me wrong so I wanted to make it as close to her recipe as possible.  ;)

It also required a pinch of salt.

Salt...   no problem.  I know for sure we have salt...

... I simply couldn't find it.

I have a small salt shaker that i hate opening up because it always makes a mess so I was in search for the bigger canister and couldn't find it to save my life.  I know its in there because a few weeks ago when we started this healthier eating I knew we weren't going to be using it so I put it "away" ...

... and now I don't remember where.   I ended up having to make the mess with the little salt shaker and the search for my salt canister will have to continue another day.

Its so amusing when something little like that makes you feel like you've really made big changes :0)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Trip To Trader Joes.. finally!

Day 41
Lemon Thyme Scallops (pg 130)
I've never eaten, let alone cooked, scallops before.   I wasn't sure what to expect, but due to my error in the recipe we accidentally only bought a few ounces worth and decided to make up the rest with the last bit of shrimp in the freezer.

Awesome recipe.  Im almost certain I overcooked the scallops because the texture was a bit firmer than what I've been reading it should be.  Call me crazy but I like that tougher almost rubbery bite.

In other news, we finally managed to make our trip out to T. Joes today:
Being the weekend, it was fairly packed and much smaller than I was expecting it to be but we definitely enjoyed the experience!  That actually says a lot because yours truly is SUCH a hater of crowded places.  Their selection of items pretty much distracted me from even paying attention to those hovered around us.

A trip that originally started off as "window" shopping turned into a mini grocery stop.  I was expecting prices to be higher than what we usually pay but their almond butter and peanut butter was considerably cheaper than the kroger prices we pay.   Silly me.

Heres what apparently happens when we "window" shop:

  • Almond Butter
  • Peanut Butter
  • Vegetarian Refried Pinto Beans
  • Two pears
  • Strawberries
  • Two Bananas (not photographed)
  • Veggie Broth
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • California Sushi Rolls
  • Swordfish (not photographed)

We're not sure what we're going to do with the swordfish just yet but it seems like a great idea for us to find something new each week and try it.   Whether its fruits, veggies, fish, grains, spices...  anything really.

As for the sushi, I heard about it from one of my favorite YouTube vloggers and considering Abel is a huge fan of sushi, we decided it was a permissable item to enjoy over the next few days.

Tomorrow we will be out shopping for the rest of the week and hoping to the highest of heavens that I may be able to track down some Rose extract as well as candied rose petals.

I have an idea for a home made mothers day gift and considering my mom has a fond memory of eating Rose flavored ice cream in Mexico as a young'un, I'd like to try my hand at some rose flavored baked goods to send to her back home since we won't be able to make the drive up this weekend.   I would order the items online but it'd be ideal to find them tomorrow so I have the leeway to experiment in case my results are less than stellar.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Don't make food your victim...

Mock Strawberry Crisp (recipe online)

Combining almond butter and oats to create a fruit topping?  Geee-ni-uss!!  I've been looking forward to trying this recipe ever since Cynthia posted the article on her facebook page.   The warm strawberries in their naturally sweet juices were just what I needed for my Debbie Downer mood this morning.

It seems that overnight I have a dozen new items for my to-do list and nowhere near enough time to complete them all.  Top that with the fact that I wont be visiting my mother for Mothers Day this year, plus the innuendo that I have been awful at keeping in touch with people,  and blaming my job for not giving me enough down time or even appreciation.... well, my head was about ready to explode this morning.  Head/tear ducts... same difference....

Guilt, anxiety, sadness and anger are all not the emotions I was hoping to have by 9a.m.  

Before I even got to making breakfast I forced myself to sit down and think of solutions to help my moods as of late. I'm losing the balance I need right now and I was pretty sure that poor delicious Strawberry Crisp was going to suffer the violent act of emotional eating.

But look at it.  Its strawberries for Gods sake... the strawberries have done me no wrong, they deserve the attention and praise for every delectable bite.... every last nutrient they as well as the almond butter, the oats and the milk are waiting to provide for my body...  

I wasn't going to take it out on them....

So I gave myself a "time-out" to breathe and let go of some of my negativity.  As I was prepping it all,  I filled up my water bottle, let the cold hydration take over my system and let the emotional weight fall off my shoulders... at least until breakfast was over with.

I can't tell you how glad I am to have done such a thing because had I not enjoyed every morsel of that breakfast, I probably would be an even bigger grump right now.  

I had also given myself a free "get out of exercising" card just because I didn't want the added stress of another "to-do" on my list....

and though that would have been perfectly acceptable, the more I think about it... its Friday.   Whats one more round of exercise to finish off the week?  

Put my dilemmas on hold... I have a date with Leslie Sansone.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Meyer lemons?

Day 39.
Mulberry Goji Almond Parfait (altered from recipe on pg 97)
I finally got around to using the dried Goji berries this morning.   Our original breakfast was Peanut Butter Mullberry Toast but considering we only had enough PB for one serving, I prepped it for Abel to take to work.  Still wanting to get my mullberries in, I decided to spilt the serving size in half and replace the other half with the Goji berries.

Of course I couldn't help but put some of the berries in a decorative flower on the top ;0)

They were absolutely delicious, the mint leaves and goji together were especially flavorful.   I would have gone all goji but I figured the mix of dried fruits was a good call (just for the sake of variety).  It's starting to get into my head that variety is exactly what I was missing the first 9 months of my weightloss journey.

Back then, my "go-to fruit" was always apples.  JUST apples.  Fuji apples in particular.   This week I've been really craving it up for the grapes but considering I have other options-- I'm trying to keep that mind open and use up a little bit of everything.

Especially considering I have two pounds of mullberries (i got a little carried away)... and a pound of goji berries.   I'm definitely curious to try the goji berries in cooking or plumping them in water to see the difference in taste or texture.   This will require me finding a recipe -- whether its for an actual savory dish or perhaps even a baked good. This recipe from Kiran Tarun for Mushroom & Goji Berry Soup sounds interesting indeed!

It may be a while before we try it but I'm filing it into our recipes to try down the road.

In other news, it seems that everywhere I turn I keep hearing/reading about Meyer Lemons lately.  What exactly are these lemons and why are they so different from regular little lemons?  Last weekend I finally saw some at our local Meijer store but had to refrain from buying them as we had just purchased an entire bag of regular lemons hours beforehand.  Today we have one little lonely lemon left and I'm hoping to still find the Meyer lemons on my next grocery stop.

I'm not sure what all the hubbub is about but according to my resources its sweeter than the standard lemons we're used to and also less acidic.   Considering what I love about lemons is the puckery acidity I'm not sure how I'll feel about the meyer lemon but I'm willing to give it a fair shot!

Lemons are my friends.  On everything from jicama, to carrots, to pasta, papaya, and cucumbers (the list is endless really)...  I just love em!

My parents will often talk about the first time they gave me a lemon.  As many mischeivous parents do, they like getting the reaction from their childs first experience with a lemon.  Not quite being a "normal" child  I may have disappointed them by simply sucking the hell out of it with absolute no reaction other than "nom nom nom"...

At least, they have the memory of my 3 siblings sour expressions... They should have known then and there that my love for food was with me from the womb.   If nothing else, I was a brave little baby with solid tastebuds ..

a blessing I somehow derailed into a curse in life, but am finally getting back to rewiring for the sake of my health :0)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

He plays with his food...

(Day 38)

I keep thinking about comfort foods lately.  This may sound a little silly but after eating this way for over a month now, I still feel like breakfast is such a treat every morning.  It's not just the boring old oatmeal I was eating before -- its so much more.   Like I'm in a lavish little resort ...

Except in this lavish little resort its Abel and I that have to clean up after one another and wash our own dishes.   (Always a downside ;0)

The original recipe for our breakfast called for hard boiled eggs sliced and placed atop the avocado...  but as cynical as I am I wasn't too keen on the idea of hard boiling any of our eggs...

why, you might ask?

well, because over the weekend Abel decided to get a little creative and did the following with our eggs:

Give that man a sharpie and he can pretty much entertain himself with anything it will mark.

Paranoid that this marker was going to emit death fumes upon boiling I simply decided to cook the eggs over easy instead.  

I'm obviously alive to tell the tale, so I guess sharpies on eggs do no damage... or at least no instant damage.

Not too much to share today as my job is wreaking havoc with my free time and its already 9:30 p.m. and dinner has yet to be made.   (We tend to eat pretty late around here in case you haven't noticed :0)

Hope you're all having a great week!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The dreaded refrigerator...

(Day 37)

California Chicken Cilantro Burrito Bowl (pg 123)
This is a repeat meal for us but the first time we had it we replaced salsa with pico de gallo.  It was great with the pico but using actual salsa made it even better.  I could seriously eat this everyday for the rest of the week!    We still need to get our favorite recipes in order to create a post of them but this will more than likely be on mine :0)

A great deal of my morning thus far has been spent baking up some chicken breasts, clearing out the refrigerator and cooking batches of quinoa and brown rice to prep for the freezer.   Our apartment refrigerator is so basic, its hard to keep things organized.    Same goes for the freezer.. everything is just somewhat piled on top of each other, everytime I open the door I have to brace myself in case the frozen chicken breasts come flying towards my face...

There seriously has to be a better way of organizing a freezer without shelves.

Until I find the solution, I'll have to send some search parties to find the frozen raspberries I bought this weekend.   They seem to have magically disappeared.

Makes you wonder if the same vortex that steals your left socks in the dryer is responsible for crappy little freezer abductions as well.