Sunday, June 29, 2014

frozen strawberry lemonade

I was craving a slushy all weekend long.  Probably because I had to sit in a hot gymnasium to watch my niece graduate high school, and then spend most of the day outside at the cookout afterwards.  I came home today feeling like I want something ice cold.  I thought I wanted some water; nope.  Then I thought maybe some Crystal Light iced tea; didn't want that either.  Then I started thinking about a slushy.  But I didn't want cherry limeade again.  I wanted something different, so I browsed a weight loss surgery forum I read sometimes and found an idea for frozen strawberry lemonade.  I used to love the ones they sell at McDonald's.  I wouldn't get one nowadays due to the massive amount of sugar in it. I actually had all the ingredients so I made one, although I modified the recipe.

It came out very good.  Next time I may add more strawberry syrup, although it doesn't really need it; it's all up to you and whether you want it to be lip-puckering like lemonade, or to have a sweeter strawberry taste.  Mine is somewhere in between, but leaning more towards lemonade.  Also, you can add as much or as little ice as you want.  Some people like a super-thick slushy; others like a very loose slushy.  Again, this recipe is somewhere in between.

Frozen Strawberry Lemonade

1/2 cup frozen strawberries
6 or 7 ice cubes
(I use the ones my freezer makes, which are smaller than ones made in standard ice cube trays)
Water to cover, about 8 oz.
1 Crystal Light Lemonade On-the-Go single pack*
1 TB Torani Sugar Free Strawberry Syrup (add more for a sweeter strawberry flavor)

Put it all in your blender, in that order, and blend until desired consistency.

* If you don't have the Crystal Light On-the-Go single packs, you can use 8 oz. of a premixed lemonade of your choice and just skip the water.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

happy weekend!

I shall be busy this weekend, so here are some cute kitty pics for you to adore.




Friday, June 27, 2014

snack ideas

Lately I've been wanting to snack while I'm at work.  I know at least part of that is due to my unhappiness with the job.  But another part of it is that I get tired of drinking, drinking, drinking all day long.  I want to chew something.  Nothing sweet, really, but just something to chew.  Most of the time I eat peanuts or some cheese.  I've been wanting to find snacks that are low carb and lower in calories and fat, but that's not always easy.  I'm not much into fruit yet since surgery, but I'm slowly finding fruits I like, such as pineapple.

Yesterday I stopped at the local heath food store to stock up on some new snacks.  The store me sells many items by the pound and there's a decent variety.  Plus, it doesn't cost nearly as much as Whole Foods bulk items.  I grabbed some sesame sticks (my new favorite!) in several flavors:  salted, honey roasted, and oat bran sesame.  I also grabbed some raw, shelled sunflower seeds, corn nuts, and salted, shelled pumpkin seeds.  I'm thinking of making my own trail mix with some peanut butter chips I have at home.  Maybe I'll toss in some raisins, too.  Not low calorie or low fat, but I figure if I stay away from true junk food, like chips, chocolate, brownies, and eat my snacks in moderation, I'm half way there.

While I was browsing I came across Quest protein bars.  I'd heard and read good things about them, but hadn't found them in any stores near me.  I decided to buy a few, even though I don't usually eat protein bars.  It's not because my nutritionist is somewhat against them, but more because it seems like I just don't think about eating them or really even want them.  Or, maybe it's because I no longer crave sweets and most of the bars I've tried are covered in chocolate, or maybe because some of the bars should be sweet and they just taste generic.  Anyway, I bought five of them:  Strawberry Cheesecake, Apple Pie, Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Peanut Butter Supreme.  They're soft, there's no added sugar in most of them, and they have 20g of protein.  I'm thinking I will chop one in two and eat each half for a snack. That will help me to not eat so many nuts and give me 20g of protein each day.

Today I tried the Strawberry Cheesecake flavor.  Yummy!  It tastes like strawberry cheesecake, there are flecks of dried strawberries throughout, and it isn't too sweet.  Nice and soft, too.  I would definitely buy it again.  This bar has 160 calories, 4.5g fat, 26g carbs, 17g fiber (!), 2g sugar and 20g protein.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

today's breakfast and lunch

I'm really loving this Bento lunch box I bought.  No more carrying around a million little containers in my purse.  And I love that I can fit two meals and a snack or two in it.

Breakfast:  a ham and spinach pie and a goat cheese and sausage egg cup
Lunch:  Applegate Farms turkey breast rolled with horseradish cheddar cheese
Snacks:  a little over an ounce of smoked mozzarella (my half price cheese!) and two Healthwise chocolate biscotti (these are delicious:  very crunchy and chocolate-y, and also only 15 calories each!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

kind dark chocolate, nuts & sea salt snack bar

I stopped at the drug store to grab a few things and saw Kind bars on display.  I've seen them in other stores, but always passed on them because of the higher calories and carbs.  Tonight, however, I was hungry and wanted a snack.  They always look so good - a shiny, clear package; lots of whole nuts; a nice, neat drizzle of chocolate or caramel; and a glistening sheen that just screams, "I'm delicious!  Buy me!"  So, tonight I listened.  I picked the one that had the least amount of sugar:  Kind Dark Chocolate, Nuts & Sea Salt.

I have to admit that I scarfed it down on the way home from the store and it was dark out, so I didn't really get a good look at it; however, it had a really nice crunch and the nuts were very fresh, not oily or soggy. The flavor...well, I was hoping for a chocolate-y sweet and salty snack and it didn't deliver.  It was good, but I really didn't taste the chocolate at all.  And I didn't really get the salty bite I was hoping for, either.  But it's tough to get that flavor when you have so little sugar in it; it has only 5g.

The nutritional stats are decent:  200 calories. 13g fat, 16g carbs, 7g fiber, 5g sugar, and 6g protein. Obviously the high calories and fat come from the nuts, but I like the protein, fiber, and sugar counts.

Overall, I liked it and I would probably have this as a meal (anything that's 200 calories or more is considered a meal).  But I wouldn't go out of my way to buy it.

Just a side note:  I mentioned above that I scarfed this down on the way home.  I've noticed that lately I've been going back to my old habit of eating quickly.  I think it's because I now have a good sense of how much I can eat without getting stuffed.  That's bad and I need to stop that.  That could be another reason why it didn't "hit the spot" like I thought it would.  I had to use the pic below from the Kind website since it didn't occur to me until I already ate the bar that I wanted to blog about it here.  See?  That's because I scarfed it down!  Ah, still a work in progress...

good morning!

Max says, "Good morning!"  (He doesn't seem to care that I interrupted his sleep to snap a bunch of pics of him.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

tonight's dinner

Tonight we had an apple bourbon pork tenderloin.  Bob had a noodle side dish and some salad with his.  I just had the pork...probably because I grazed a bit when I got home from work (I HAVE to stop doing that!).

I'm not much of a pork fan.  I tend to either not season it well, or I overcook it.  This time I bought a Hormel pork tenderloin.  I usually associate Hormel with canned chili or hash, which I don't care for, but their pork roasts are great.  They are pre-seasoned and very tender; they cook up perfectly very time.  You just put it in a shallow baking pan and bake at 425 for 30 minutes.  Very quick and easy.

I wasn't able to finish this portion.  Like I said, I grazed a bit when I walked in the door.

Monday, June 23, 2014

ham and spinach pies

I saw a recipe on Facebook today.  It was called Zucchini Onion Pie.  A friend of mine posted it.  It looked good so I clicked on it.  It called for 3 cups of zucchini.  I don't mind zucchini, but I didn't want a whole pie's worth.  Especially since I'd be the only one eating it.  Plus, I didn't have any.  So, I thought about what I have in the fridge and the freezer and wondered if I could make the basic recipe, only without the zucchini.  I found two boxes of frozen spinach.  It totaled about 3 cups so I figured it would work.  I found some scallions in the fridge, along with a small ham steak.  The recipe didn't call for it, but I figured that would make it taste better.  And I wanted to use it up.

One thing about the recipe that turned me off was the 1/2 cup of oil it calls for.  Maybe there's some reason that needs to be in there, but I'm not a professional cook so I have no idea what that reason is.  I decided to cut it down to 1/4 cup, barely.  Rightly or wrongly, I also increased the eggs to make up for the reduced oil.  It's supposed to be baked in a pie plate, but I like using my muffin tin so I can measure my portions more easily, and bag the pies and freeze them.

They came out pretty good, although there's a little too much spinach for my taste.  They're pretty dense so I'm thinking one and a half will be good for breakfast or lunch.  Most likely I'll bring them to work to share since I'm not really keen on having these everyday for the next week and a half.

If I make these again, I will reduce the spinach and likely eliminate the oil.  Eliminating the oil would save about 40 calories and 4.5g of fat.  I would probably just add some extra egg whites to make up the liquid.  The would boost the protein.

My recipe is below.  Here's the link to the original:  Zucchini Onion Pie

Ham and Spinach Pies

Yields 6 pie slices, or 12 individual pies
If using a muffin tin, each individual pie contains:  167 calories, 9g fat, 7.5g carbs, and 12.5g protein.

4 whole eggs, plus 3 egg whites
1 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup oil (I used olive oil)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 to 3 cups frozen spinach, drained (make sure to squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach)
1 cup biscuit/baking mix (I used Bob's Red Mill Low Carb baking Mix)
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup scallions
1/2 cup chopped ham

In a large bowl, whisk together first 6 ingredients.  Stir in the spinach, baking mix, scallions,ham, and onion. Spray a 9-in. deep-dish pie plate or a muffin tin with cooking spray. Scoop the batter into the pan.  Bake at 350° for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

morningstar farms hot & spicy veggie sausage patties

Ever since it hit the mother lode on half-price goat cheese, I've been combing the cheese section every time I go grocery shopping. I shopped last night and all I scored this time was some smoked mozzarella.  Good for snacking, but I can't really use it for making egg cups.

I went on about my shopping and headed for the freezer section.  I came upon a freezer full of half-price stuff.  It appeared to be things that either weren't selling well or were being discontinued.  I combed through and found some Morningstar Farms Hot & Spicy Veggie Sausage Patties.  This stuff usually sells for about $4.00 a box, so I grabbed some.  I like their other veggie sausage patties and I like hot and spicy, so at $1.99 I couldn't go wrong.  There were some other Morningstar Farms items, like a personal sized pizza and veggie burgers, but the carbs were way too high in the pizza and I'm not much of a veggie burger person.  Even though I wanted to buy them just because they were half price, I restrained myself.

I made a sausage patty for breakfast today, along with a one-egg omelet filled with the remainder of the horseradish goat cheese.

The sausage patty was very good.  I cooked it in the toaster oven.  The texture is different than real sausage, but it wasn't mushy.  I think had I microwaved it, it would have been.  The flavor was good, but hot and spicy it was not.  Not even remotely.  It had more flavor than their original sausage veggie patty, and tastes much better than the maple flavor, but it needs a little more spice.  Still, I think it was a good buy and I'd buy it again.  Probably in lieu of the original flavor.

I finished the whole veggie patty and a little more than 3/4 of the omelet.

Friday, June 20, 2014

making progress, I guess

I don't have much to say tonight, other than I packed some more boxes in preparation for moving.  Doesn't sound like much, but I packed four tonight, two of which were quite large.  I packed some knick knacks, most of my baking pans, all my cake decorating supplies, and some other miscellaneous kitchen stuff, like the crock pot and food saver.

Even though I have a stack of boxes to prove it, I don't really see any progress.  I guess because most of the stuff I packed is stuff that was in my cabinets.  But if you saw inside my cabinets, you'd realize it's progress.  One would think I could toss a lot of it since I don't use it much, but I find that every time I think, "Yeah, I'll toss this," I keep it, figuring I'll use it at some point.  And it's not junk at all.  It's stuff I've spent decent money on and it's not gadget-y type things.  (I gave up on that stuff long ago.  Not worth it.)

Packing up a house seems like such a daunting task.  Seems like it's never going to happen.  I think once I start packing up things I keep on the counter, the rest of the stuff on my walls, and go through all my clothes, I'll start feeling like I'm making progress.

Now, I just need a closing date on the new house.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

mid-day snack

Someone brought in animal crackers today.  Animal crackers and giant gummy bears.  I opted for the crackers. They taste the same as when I was a kid. I remember toting around the little box with the string like it was my purse. 

I know I'm not supposed to drink while I eat, but I just couldn't resist the comfort of hot chocolate and animal crackers. Plus the warmth. The office is always freezing cold.  Seems strange to be cold.  I used to be hot almost all the time. I guess I've lost some insulation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

my new lunchbox

When I hit the 100 lbs lost mark I treated myself to a Bento-style lunch box and it arrived in the mail today!.

I've been wanting one for quite awhile, because my portions are small and I have a bunch of tiny containers floating around.  I tote them to work everyday in my purse and it's a pain in the neck.  Now everything will be in one box.  I bought some extra containers, too, so I don't have to wash them every single night (I'm too lazy for that).

So here's my new lunchbox, which I've already filled for tomorrow's breakfast and lunch.  Breakfast will be 1/2 cup cottage cheese with peanuts mixed in, lunch will be three turkey breast roll-ups with roasted garlic cheddar cheese, and my snack will be two protein balls.

I bought my lunchbox here:  Laptop Lunches

Sunday, June 15, 2014

chocolate peanut protein balls

I've been looking at ways to use up some protein powder I have leftover.  Lately I've been drinking ready-to-drink protein shakes so my powder has been languishing in the cabinet.

I found a recipe for protein balls. They require only a few ingredients and I don't have to bake them.  I've been wanting to make them for awhile.  Since Bob went camping this weekend, I figured the time was right.

They came together quickly with minimal mess and were very good.  Very dense and filling.  The recipe calls for almond butter (a bit expensive), which has very little sugar.  Although they tasted good, I think I prefer a little sweetness.  I might increase the Torani syrup next time or add a little Splenda.  

Chocolate Peanut Protein Balls
Note:  The following recipe is adapted from this recipe.

Makes about 16-20
One ball contains:  86 calories, 6.5g fat, 3g carbs, and 5.3g protein.

1/2 cup almond butter
3 scoops (48 cc scoop) chocolate protein powder (I use Bariatric Advantage)
1 teaspoon Sugar Free Chocolate Torani Syrup
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
unsweetened coconut for coating

Mix all ingredients except coconut together. The mixture will seem dry at first. but it will eventually come together.  I used a fork to make combining easier.

Roll into balls. Roll in unsweetened coconut to coat.

Keep refrigerated or freeze.

cherry limeade, finally!

Several years ago my husband and I were visiting my brother in Indiana and visited a Sonic Drive-In for the first time ever.  I think we ordered chili dogs and tater tots.  And I ordered a cherry limeade; it sounded interesting.  The food was OK (think Hormel chili), nothing to write home about. But the cherry limeade?  Delicious!  From then on, I was always looking for cherry limeade on the menu when we went out to eat.  The only place I ever found it was at Red Robin.  Then for some weird reason they took it off the menu. Then Sonic made it's way into Connecticut and I again had a "source."

Fast forward to 2013 and I decide to have gastric bypass surgery.  You know what one of my splurges was before my pre-op diet started?  A giant cherry limeade from Sonic and a cheese dog.

Once I had surgery I figured I'd never have another cherry limeade.  The reason being that it's made with lemon-lime soda and it's hard to have a cherry limeade without the soda.  Plus, it's got a lot of sugar.  I was OK with that, though.  Until summer rolled around.

Several weeks ago I started craving slushies and bought some sugar free Torani syrups so I could mess around with some recipes.  That got me wondering if I could use the syrup to make a sugar free version of a cherry limeade.  The Torani website lists a cherry lime syrup, but it's not sugar free.  There wasn't a similar flavor in the sugar free section so I just went about my business.  Also, I wasn't finding any recipes on the web that didn't call for soda.  So, I gave up.

Then, while I was shopping for syrups on Amazon, I saw one bottle of Torani Sugar Free Cherry Lime Syrup.  I bought that sucker as fast as I could!  It arrived the other day.

But I still had the problem of dealing with the soda.  I decided I would use ice, water, frozen cherries, and 2 TB of the cherry lime syrup.  I figured it would probably be close.  Then I had a thought:  how about using Crystal Light lemonade instead of water?  That would give me the lemon in the lemon-lime soda without the carbonation or sugar.  Guess what?!  It worked!  And it tasted great!  It was quite thick and I didn't have a straw, so I kept having to stir.  Next time I will buy straws or add less ice. (Recipe below)

Cherry Limeade Slushy

Note:  It calls for Sugar Free Torani Cherry Lime Syrup, but it looks like it's discontinued and is hard to find. If you don't have issues with sugar you can use their regular cherry lime syrup.  But if you need it to be sugar free you can mix the sugar free cherry and lime varieties.

4-6 ice cubes 
1/2 cup frozen cherries (I used 365 brand frozen dark cherries from Whole Foods)
8 oz. Crystal Light Lemonade (or any kind of lemonade if you're OK with sugar)
2 TB Sugar Free Torani Cherry Lime Syrup

Put it all in the blender and blend until it's of a slush consistency.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

today's breakfast

Today's breakfast was a one-egg omelet with onion and chive goat cheese and one turkey sausage link.

A few weeks ago I visited the Beekman 1802 Farm in Sharon Springs, NY.  They had a fair on Main Street and one of the vendors was selling fresh goat cheese.  After sampling them all (that was my lunch!), I decided to buy onion with chives, and horseradish.  Both are delicious!  I still have lots leftover so I'm thinking another round of egg cups or bites.

I was able to finish the plate, although I had to space it out a little.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

today's lunch

I found something new in the store when I went shopping this weekend. It's by Yopa. It's dip made with Greek yogurt, served with pita chips. The only flavor they had on the shelf was Spicy Three Pepper. 

Over the weekend I bought what I think is the Whole Foods version of cheese ends. It's French yogurt cheese with sun dried tomatoes. I cut up about an ounce and had that with the dip and chips, just in case I didn't like the dip.

I really liked the dip and chips. It was pretty spicy, but not intolerable. I would definitely buy this again. Very convenient,  fits in my purse and it was cheap. I think it was 1.25.

The cheese...hmmm. I liked it when I tried it the other day. It was pretty strong, but I like strong cheese. Today it was just overpowering.   Funky, even.  Especially when paired with the spicy dip.  So I only ate a couple pieces and tossed the rest. If I were to buy it again i would use it for cooking only, like in my egg cups or an omelet.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

my first sandwich!

One of my go-to foods prior to surgery was a sandwich.  I used to love a bologna and American cheese sandwich on moist, dense white bread (or a soft roll) with a ton of Hellman's mayo.  I'd usually top it off with a thick layer of whatever chips I could find in the house:  Doritos, potato chips, Fritos, or cheese curls.  (I'm sure at least one person is thinking. "OMG that's nasty!") There aren't many foods I miss, but I so miss sandwiches.  Or, rather, I miss the experience of having a sandwich.  I haven't had a sandwich in six months.  But bread isn't much of an option anymore.  I mean, I can eat it if I want it, but it's loaded with carbs, which will slow down my weight loss, and I just don't want to get back into the bad habit of eating tons of bread like I used to.

Recently I found a recipe to make savory pancakes.  Not breakfast pancakes that get slathered in syrup, but savory pancakes with green onions and chives.  When I read the commentary on the recipe, I found out that the author uses them cold as "bread" to make a sandwich.  I was skeptical, but I figured, why not?  At worst, I'll have wasted 15 minutes of my time.  At best, I'll have a way to enjoy a sandwich that's also diet-friendly.  I had most of the ingredients already, I just had to buy the chives and green onions.

It was very easy to make these pancakes, but they do not spread like regular pancake batter.  I had to spread them out once I got the batter in the pan.  I used my cookie scoop to measure the batter.  When cooked, the pancakes are about 3 inches across.  Yup, they're tiny.  But that's a normal portion for me know.

I made a sandwich with two pancakes today.  I added about 2 ounces of low-sodium ham and a slice of roasted garlic cheddar cheese.  I really liked it.  The pancakes taste like green onions and chives, and the texture was soft, not mushy.

I would most definitely do this again.  They were very easy and taste great.  I'm thinking I'll make a double batch and freeze them.

I'm already dreaming about a bologna and cheese sandwich...

Here's the recipe:

Savory Ricotta Pancakes
(found here:  The World According to Eggface)
Makes 8 pancakes (about 3 inches across)

Each pancake contains:  51 calories, 3g fat, 3g carbs, and 3g protein

1 Egg, beaten
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
3 Tablespoons multigrain pancake mix
1 TB grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 TB chives
1/2 tsp oregano
1 green onion, diced fine
dash of salt
black pepper, to taste

  1. Mix pancake ingredients together. 
  2. Spray non-stick pan with cooking spray. 
  3. Use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to measure out the batter.  You will need to spread the batter when you put it in the pan.  
  4. Cook on low till bubbles appear and then flip. Cook until done. 

These pancakes can be made ahead and reheated, or used cold to make a sandwich.

Monday, June 9, 2014

weekend in review

This weekend started off with volunteering for the Stratford Cat Project.  I help out with cleaning and feeding at the main foster home and sometimes do the same at our adoption center at H3 Pet Supply in Stratford.  I enjoy it, because I get to interact with many different cats.  Not to mention I get see all the new kittens, play with them, hold and cuddle them, and see them grow from timid little guys into playful, confident kitties.  We have a new batch of kittens right now and they are so cute!  A couple are scared at the moment, but with all the attention and love they get from volunteers, they will soon feel more confident and outgoing.

We received the mortgage application documents.  What a novel that was!  Mortgage regulations have changed quite a bit in the last few years so now there's a disclosure for everything.  We got them all signed and mailed them back.  Hopefully we'll be closing on the new house soon.

I've started packing, but I haven't packed nearly as much as I should.  I guess I just wasn't sure where to start.  As a friend suggested, I started with pictures and knick knacks.  That helped me get going and I packed five boxes last week.  Now I'm at a standstill again.  I'll have to work on that this week.

Sunday was spent running errands.  Mainly food shopping and trips to multiple Home Depots to get a replacement window for the back bedroom.  We started looking at lawn mowers.  The new house has about six times the amount of land we have now.  I don't think our old fashioned push reel will cut it - no pun intended.

I made a recipe for savory pancakes.  I'll post it later in the week.  Apparently these pancakes can be used as "bread" to make a sandwich.  I'm excited about that.  I used to LOVE sandwiches, but I'm not supposed to be eating much bread, and I don't really care to, so I haven't had a real sandwich in six months.  I don't really miss bread.  Once in awhile I think about it, but giving it up has been a non-event.  I do, however, miss having a sandwich.

And, finally, I made my goal of 100 lbs. lost by June 9!! (June 9, today, is the six month anniversary of when I started my pre-op diet.  Woo hoo for me!!  Now on to the next goal...

six months and 100 pounds lost

As of today it's been six months since I started my pre-op diet.  Hard to believe it's been that long.

In the weeks (months?) leading up to the diet, I ate whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted, as often as I could.  It was a total free-for-all.  I guess I felt like I had to have a "food funeral" and mourn all those things I thought I was saying goodbye to forever.  What if I had the surgery and I turned out to be someone who couldn't eat any sugar at all?  What if I couldn't ever eat another Big Mac?  What if I couldn't eat fried foods?  What if...?  Well, I better eat them now so I can remember the taste and enjoy them while I still can!

What drove me to eat during that time is the same thing that drove me to eat most of my life:  "what if I'm never able to eat X again?"  If I didn't stop and have something at McDonald's or didn't get the appetizer and the entree, what if they went out of business or stopped making that food?  I will have missed out on something.  Seriously.  I always felt like that about eating out, and food in general.  Sounds strange, I know, but that's truly how I felt.  I always felt like I was missing out on something if I didn't sample everything I possibly could, as though I wasn't getting the most out of the food experience.

I remember starting my pre-op diet and being so hungry the first few days.  I went from eating anything and everything, to eating salad, sugar-free Jello and pudding, pickles, sugar-free Popsicles, and protein shakes.  Oh, and one meal bar a day, which was always the highlight of my day.  I felt like I'd never eat again, but at the same time, I knew it wasn't forever.  It was just something necessary that I had to go through to get to the other side, to start becoming the person I knew I wanted to be.  As you can see, I made it to the other side.  Very successfully, I might add.

So, what have I learned since December 9?
  1. I will not die if I feel hungry once in awhile.  
  2. I do not need to give into every food craving.
  3. Boredom is the enemy and makes me very "head hungry."  In other words, my mind thinks I'm hungry, but I'm just bored.
  4. Food is no longer:  love, comfort, fun, something to do, a social event, or a reward.
  5. My favorite restaurants are still there; they didn't close up shop.
  6. I can eat anything I want, in moderation.
  7. Life didn't end.
  8. I should have done this 10 years ago and not wasted so much time on the "it" diet.  But it is what it is.
  9. I can do this! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

goal #2 crushed!

A couple weeks ago I said that when I made it to the 100 lbs. lost mark, I'd post a photo Bob took of me. Well, today I made it!  100.8 lbs., to be exact.  And one day ahead of schedule:  my goal was to reach 100 lbs. lost within six months after the start of my pre-op diet, which was December 9.

I bought these pants in March, 2013, for my first cruise.  Of course, I never wore them (like many clothes I've bought through the years).  The tags were still attached when I pulled them out of one of my tote boxes a couple weeks ago.  Back when I bought them they fit very comfortably.  Today?  Not so much.  Actually, when I tried them on, they fell back down to my feet.  I had to hold them up when I came downstairs to have Bob take a picture.  And here it is:

Note:  I'm not stretching the waistband in this picture.  This is actually how big they are.

I'm kind of disappointed I can't wear them; they're cute capris with rhinestones down the outside seams.  Oh well, I have many more cute outfits to look forward to that will be much smaller.  :)

Getting to the 100 lb. mark was tough.  Not these last six months as a whole, but the last few weeks.  I'm at the point where I can pretty much eat whatever I want in small quantities.  While I don't eat junk food, fast food, fried foods, bread, or pasta, crackers and nuts are something I really enjoy now, just as I used to crave junk.  It's especially tough at work, because people are always bringing in food.  Plus, I'm unhappy at work, so I tend to want to make a run to the kitchen so I can procrastinate, waste time, whatever you want to call it.  But I'm doing my best not to partake.  And I'm no longer buying snack mix and crackers for home.  I have them, yes, but I'm no longer buying them.  Once they're gone, they're gone.  

So, now that I've reached goal #2, it's time to look to goal #3:  another 43 lbs.  I'm thinking I can make that by October 1.  My weight loss may move more slowly now that I'm six months out, so I don't want to be unrealistic.

I haven't figured out what goal #4, the final goal, will be.  I have no idea what I'd like my goal weight to be.  Actually, I don't think I really want to have a goal "weight," but more of a goal "feeling."  In other words, my goal is to feel good in my skin, not self-conscious, happy with myself, and energetic.  I think that's a much better goal to pursue than some number on the scale.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

today's breakfast

I've finally reached the point where I'm tired of eating sausage with my eggs.  Don't get me wrong, I love sausage.  But I'm wanting to mix it up a bit.  A package of turkey bacon has been haunting my fridge for awhile and it's getting close to the Use By day, so I decided to cook it up and have it with a fried egg today.  I have some fresh goat cheese leftover from my trip to the Beekman 1802 farm in NY, so I'm thinking tomorrow I'll make an omelet with horseradish goat cheese.

For some reason, several people in my family like to cook turkey bacon in the microwave until it achieves cardboard consistency and it could literally stand up on it's own. Not sure why.  Maybe it's the crunch.  Personally, I've always been a fan of "giggly" bacon, meaning slightly crispy around the edges, but fully bendable.  Not crunchy.  The only way to get it like that, in my opinion, is to fry it.  So that's what I did with the turkey bacon.  And it came out great.  Cooked just right.  I added a fried egg and there's breakfast.

Three pieces of turkey bacon and an over-easy egg with pepper (just like my dad likes it).  I was able to finish the plate without a problem.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

protein packs

I mentioned the other day that I roasted a chicken and planned to use it for several things.  I gave the wings and legs to a friend to enjoy, I put the carcass in the freezer to use for making homemade stock, I chopped some up and made a barbecue chicken pizza for Bob tonight, and used the rest to make protein packs (for lack of a better term).

Protein packs are meals consisting of meat, cheese, and nuts.  I got the idea when I was in BJ's and saw Oscar Mayer now has snack packs called P3 (Portable Protein Pack).  It's a three-compartment plastic container with turkey breast, almonds, and colby jack cheese.  I bought a box, since I like anything that I can grab quickly and take on-the-go.  I can't remember how much I paid, but I believe there were 4 in the box and it was around $8.00.  A bit expensive considering it's a light snack for most people.  Although, for me, it's a meal, so I wasn't too concerned.  Each pack contains 170 calories, 11g fat, 3g carbs, and 13g protein.

I thought these were good; however, I wasn't thrilled with the turkey breast.  Anyone who has bought Oscar Mayer lunch meat (in the blister pack) or Lunchables knows the quality of those products.  It's salty and it's just guess.  It's chopped, formed, pressed, etc.  I know they have better stuff these days, but when I think Oscar Mayer I tend to think thick-sliced generic bologna in a blister pack. Mind you, I'm not dissing bologna; I love it.  Very thinly sliced, with mayo and cheese on soft white bread, or fried into a grilled cheese.  Nor am I dissing Oscar Mayer.  But there's a reason a package of the stuff is only a couple bucks, depending where you go:  it ain't good for you and it's not the best quality.  I see it as being more for kids.  But, I digress...

I figured I could make something a little more healthy on my own and it would be less expensive.  So, I used the roasted chicken for my meat portion.  I used 1 oz.  For my cheese portion I used 3/4 oz. of Emmentaler cheese (another half-price bargain at Big Y!); this is the real "swiss cheese" and it's quite funky, but delicious. For the nut portion I used 1/2 oz. of dry roasted peanuts, considering I have a giant tub from BJ's to use up. I played around with the portions a bit.  The goal was to keep it around 200 calories, stay around the same amount of fat and get the protein up to at least 13g.  My final product contains:  214 calories, 15g fat, 2.5g carbs and a whopping 18g protein.  Yes, the fat is high, but here's no getting around that when you're using cheese and nuts.  Next time I'll use a low fat cheese, maybe.  And although the calories and fat are higher, so is the quality.

I didn't have any small containers with compartments, so I used what I have.  I dumped a meal's worth into a big plastic zip-top bag.  I'd like to find something that's all one container, though, so I don't have to wash a million tiny containers.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

no flowers for me

This is why I don't have any plants in my house.  Not only do I kill plants, but my cats like to snack on them.  I picked some lilacs from my lilac bush and this is what happened.  Bailey decided to investigate and then proceeded to chew the leaves.  He had his whole face buried when I came in the kitchen.  I had to put the flowers outside.  I love my cats dearly, but it would be nice if I could have flowers or plants in the house that won't be disturbed.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

the multi-purpose roasted chicken

Now that I need to eat better, and WANT to eat better, I figured whole chickens would be a good thing to have on hand in the freezer.  I could roast one and get quite a few meals out of it.  So, awhile back I bought several 3- to 4-pound chickens and stuck them in my deep freezer.  I waited until I was visiting my dad up in New Hampshire, because food tends to cost less up there.  Every time I go to a store around here, a small chicken costs about $6 or $7.  The bigger chickens can be more than $10.  Since I'm the only one that eats chicken on the bone (Don't even get me started on that one!  Bob will eat boneless only.), I refuse to pay $10 for a chicken.

Tonight I decided to roast one of the chickens.  My plan is to use one breast for either chicken salad or slice it up and dip into light mayo; use the second breast to cut up and put into "protein packs" (a container with some chicken chunks, nuts, and some cheese); eat the wings for dinner; give the legs to a friend; eat all the breast skin immediately (done!); and, if I'm ambitious enough, make stock out of the carcass.  I've made homemade stock before and it's so much better than canned.  As you can see, there's lot one can do with a roasted chicken.

So, here's my pretty chicken.  All I did was rinse it, remove the giblet pack, pat it dry, and then add Borsari seasoned salt.  I stuck it in the oven on 350 for about an hour, then jacked the heat to 450 for about 10-15 minutes in order to brown it more.  Then I turned off the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  During the cooking time I added a glass of water to the pan and basted several times.

Monday, June 2, 2014

southwest quinoa cakes

Since my surgery, I've discovered quinoa.  I knew about it before surgery, but now that I don't eat pasta this acts as my "pasta."  It's very versatile and has a nutty taste and chewy texture.  I'm always looking for quinoa recipes to try and I came across one in my latest Eating Well magazine.  (The subscription fairy struck again!  Every year I get new magazine subscriptions from someone in the family and never know who.  I suspect it's my in-laws, who order for school fundraisers.)

The recipe calls for making the cakes in a muffin tin (easy!) and then making a homemade salsa for the topping.  I'm not into making homemade salsa, mainly because it requires me to go to the store a couple miles away for ingredients I never have.  But looking through the recipe for the cakes I noticed that, without the salsa on the top, I'd have to find a way to make the cakes themselves more interesting; the recipe lacks seasoning.  I decided I would add the salsa (store-bought) directly into the cake mix and also add some taco seasoning.  I also would add some raw onion.

So, I made the recipe with those additions and they were great!  As soon as I took them out of the oven, it smelled like tacos in the kitchen.  The taste was good and not spicy.  Good moisture and texture, too.  Next time I might add some corn just to make it a little more interesting.

I'm thinking I will take these for lunch this week.  I don't know how they will do with reheating, but I'm pretty sure the addition of the salsa will avoid any drying out.

Here's the recipe (adapted from

Southwest Quinoa Cakes

Makes 12

1 cake contains: 221 calories; 7 g fat; 30 g carbohydrates; and 12 g protein.

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
3/4 cup reduced-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup medium salsa
1/2 cup raw yellow onion
1/4 cup sliced scallions
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp taco seasoning
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (I skipped this)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin with cooking spray.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in quinoa. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the grains are tender and reveal their spiraled germ, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Add eggs, beans, cottage cheese, salsa, scallions, onions, taco seasoning, flour, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the quinoa and stir until well combined. Divide the mixture among the muffin cups. Top each quinoa cake with about 1 tablespoon cheese.

Bake the cakes until puffed and a little brown on top, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Gently loosen and remove with a paring knife.

You can top with more salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc.  Anything you want!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

guylian's no sugar added chocolate

I mentioned a few days ago that I need to limit my sugar intake and when I'm craving chocolate (very rare), I'll need to stick to no sugar added chocolate.  I gave you my thoughts on Lily's No Sugar Added Chocolate.  I've found another brand that makes no sugar added varieties and it's Guylian.  They're known for really good Belgian chocolate so it stood to reason that their no sugar added variety would be very good.  I found both dark and milk chocolate at Bed Bath and Beyond.  I believe the cost was the same as Lily's, $3.99 per bar, but Guylian's bar is 3.53 oz., whereas Lily's is 3 oz.

The taste was great and the texture very smooth.  I think the taste is comparable to Lily's, but the texture is a little smoother.  I'm thinking Guylian's would work well in any recipe calling for melted chocolate.

I checked the nutritional information.  A serving of Lily's, 40 grams (about half a bar or 1.5 oz.), contains 180 calories, 15g fat, 22g carbs (12g fiber, 1g sugar, 7g erythritol (sugar alcohol)), and 2g protein.  The same serving size of Guylian's contains 200 calories, 15g fat, 21g carbs (1g fiber, 3g sugar, 17g sugar alcohol), and 3g protein.  I like the stats on Lily's better, mainly because there's 12g of fiber, which is really high, and there's less of the sugar alcohol.  (Note:  I'm not eating a full serving size.  I eat 1/4 of that, maybe once or twice a week.)

Overall, even though Guylian's is smoother and has a richer taste than Lily's, I would have to stick with Lily's.  Why?  Because after 1/4 of a serving of Guylian's, my stomach is bothering me.  That didn't happen with the same amount of Lily's chocolate.  I'm thinking it's because the sugar alcohol is much higher in the Guylian's bars.