Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Today's lunch is a sushi roll. It's tempura shrimp wrapped in spicy crab meat with tobiko. I haven't had sushi since before my surgery last December so I decided to treat myself.


This roll had 8 pieces and I had already eaten three by the time I decided to post.

I'm getting a little full already!

Monday, October 27, 2014

last night's dinner

I made steak last night, one of my favorite dinners.  I actually hadn't planned on making it, but someone (I won't name any names) unplugged the deep freezer and didn't plug it back in.  I discovered it a couple days later. Luckily everything was either cold or frozen.  But I didn't want to refreeze the steak, so I cooked it.

I was able to eat about 2/3 of the steak, plus the rice and corn.  I had about a tablespoon of each.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

today's breakfast

Today I decided to make an omelet with some dill havarti cheese and a Morningstar Farms Veggie Sausage Patty.

I don't usually make omelets anymore, mainly because I can still eat only one egg if I'm having something with it.  Plus, a one-egg omelet is pretty small, which means you have to be careful not to overcook it or to tear it when you flip it.  I started out making scrambled eggs for both me and my husband, but halfway through I decided I didn't want the bacon crumbles and shredded cheese I put in them.   I had some leftover dill havarti cheese from a party so that made up my mind.

I also treated myself to half a glass of 2% milk.  I don't drink milk anymore, mainly because it has a lot of sugar:  16g per 8 oz. glass.  I can probably handle that, but I don't like to chance it.  And I usually don't even remember that I have it in the fridge; I'm too busy drinking water and Crystal Light.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

today's breakfast and lunch

Remember the Swiss Chard grilled cheeses I made over the weekend?  I had a half of one for lunch today. :) For dessert I had two coconut macaroons (leftover from my party).

Breakfast was two herbed goat cheese and sausage egg cups.

Snacks were dry roasted peanuts and some dill havarti cheese.  I'm really not supposed to snack, but I find it really tough not to snack, especially when I'm bored and unhappy at work.  Hopefully the job situation will change soon.

Monday, October 20, 2014

swiss chard grilled cheese

I really wish I could take credit for thinking this up, but I can't.  I learned how to make this from our neighbors at Atkins Barnes Farm.  They open a small farm stand every weekend and offer free samples.  This is where I discovered the Swiss Chard Grilled Cheese.  It's delicious!  And it's "me"-sized. (They use mini ciabatta rolls.)

I bought some Swiss Chard from the guys last weekend in preparation for a gathering I had this weekend for some friends of mine.  It stored very well.  I simply wrapped it in some paper towel and kept it in the fridge.  It was a little less firm than it was last Sunday, but it held up very well.  It wasn't brown or wilted at all.

With all the preparation I had for the party, I decided to cook the Chard the night before and then put it in the fridge.  All I did was chop it up and saute with olive oil.  It cooks way down, just like spinach.

I made the grilled cheeses about an hour before eating.  I reheated the Chard in a small frying pan on low.  I then melted butter in another frying pan, put the bread in (I used 9 Grain from Stew Leonard's bakery), added some shredded sharp cheddar, put some chard on it, put more shredded cheese on top and then put another piece of bread on top.  I cooked until browned, flipped it over and finished browning.  I then put them in a warm oven on a cooling rack set in a cookie sheet so the bottoms wouldn't get soggy.  They kept warm and crispy.  I made four regular-sized grilled cheeses. I then cut each one into fours to make four mini grilled cheeses.

They were delicious and everyone seemed to like them.  I was smart enough to leave enough Chard and bread so I could make two more grilled cheeses the next day.  I ate half of one for lunch and I plan to save the other one and a half to eat during the week.

I know, I know.  I'm not supposed to eat bread.  But I eat bread maybe once a month, so I'm OK with it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

today's breakfast

I had some old friends from my former job over yesterday and we had a great time.  It was so nice seeing everyone again.  Makes me realize how much I miss my old job and the culture we had there.

Anyway, I made artichoke dip, among other things, and served it with crostini from Stew Leonard's.  I thought about making my own crostini, but I was already making a few other things, like those Swiss Chard grilled cheeses, and didn't want to add to the stress.

So, my breakfast today was three crostini topped with artichoke dip, which I warmed in the toaster oven.  Breakfast of champions.

Friday, October 17, 2014

protein balls: recipe fail?

A friend of mine tagged a protein ball recipe on Facebook and I decided to give it a try.  It was only three ingredients:  Vegan protein powder, rolled oats, and a banana.  Only three ingredients?  Right up my alley.  But I was skeptical of how it would taste with ONLY three ingredients.

I made two batches:  strawberry and chocolate.  Both came out identical, even though one had twice as much protein powder.

I used non-vegan protein powder and, on the first batch, added more than the stated amount.  I hadn't planned on adding more protein powder, but once I mixed it into the recipe, the dough seemed very sticky, like there wasn't enough dry ingredients.  And the recipe didn't state the amount of powder to use, actually.  It just said, "one serving of vegan protein powder."  Well, how much is a serving?  Half a cup, a full cup, a whole container?  I posted in the question in the Comments on the Facebook post, but the author didn't answer.  It could be that maybe I processed the dough too much.  The other change I made was to roll the balls in unsweetened coconut.

I then made a second batch with chocolate protein powder, but used what is considered "one serving" for the brand I use.  I also didn't process the dough as much.  I only processed until the ingredients came together.

As far as taste goes, they're pretty good.  But the primary taste is dry oats.  Not a bad thing, but I prefer the more complex taste of other recipes that use some sort of nut butter.

I wouldn't call this recipe a fail.  It's just not a recipe I'd used unless I was truly being lazy, or if I didn't have nut butter in the house, or maybe if I had to use up the last overripe banana.

Strawberry.  I was hoping for a nice pink color, but my husband says they look like meatballs with coconut.

Chocolate.  These look a little more normal.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

today's breakfast and lunch

I've decided to try something different for lunch:  shrimp.  I'm getting tired of the usual chicken, cheese, etc.  I had some in the freezer I forgot about so I defrosted them and there you go.  I also added some leftover stuffed mushrooms and extra stuffing from my get-together over the weekend.

Breakfast was the usual Greek yogurt with peanuts mixed in.  It's weird that I've become such a yogurt eater by choice.  I used to eat it a lot, but only when I was on yet another diet.  I got really sick of it.  But I like the Greek yogurt; it's thick and creamy.

Monday, October 13, 2014

something new to try: swiss chard

I visited the neighbor's farm stand this weekend and stocked up on some veggies.  They'll be away next weekend and therefore won't be open.  I bought some eggplant for a recipe I want to try.  It's kind of like eggplant parm without the sauce.  I also bought more tomatoes to make sauce, four heads of garlic, and some Swiss Chard.  

I have to say, I was quite shocked at how large the Swiss Chard leaves are.  I didn't think the guys would be able to get the bunch in the little bag for me, but they did.  They take up half a shelf in the fridge! I've never cooked with Swiss Chard before, but I'm told they cook down to almost nothing, similar to spinach.

My neighbors have been making samples with the Chard and it's delicious.  They make these awesome Swiss Chard grilled cheeses on ciabatta bread.  This weekend they used 9-grain bread and it was even better.  (I purposely walk down there for the samples, although I do buy something while I'm there.)  They also invented two desserts:  Swiss Chard Tarts and Swiss Chard Mini Pies.  So delicious!  You would never know it's made with a leafy green.  It's got brown sugar, raisins, and other yummy stuff.

So, they've convinced me that I need to make the grilled cheeses at home for some company I'm having next weekend.  I can't wait!  I'll be sure to post a pic of the finished product.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Lily's No Sugar Added chocolate

Lily's has become my new go-to chocolate when I'm craving something sweet.  It's rare that I crave sweets nowadays, but it does happen occasionally.  

I'm one of the post-ops that can have sugar in small doses.  It's not totally off limits, but I can't eat as much of it as others can.  I'm somewhere in the middle.  Two bites of [insert sugary dessert here] and I'm done.  One more and it's usually too much.  I start dumping:  my stomach feels a little queasy and I get tired.  Four bites?  Forget it!  I did that twice and I won't do that again.  I felt nauseous, dizzy, very lethargic, and I wasn't sure if I was going to pass out or throw up.  It lasted about 20 minutes and then I was fine.  I guess if I'm willing to go through that for an extra bite of dessert I could, but who wants to feel like that for the sake of 30 seconds of pleasure?

Although I've found some low sugar or no sugar treats, I still have to be careful because there's often sugar alcohols, which can cause diarrhea and such.  But I don't have to worry about that with Lily's.  It's sweetened with Stevia, so any sugar alcohols are kept to a minimum.  Even though I don't have to worry as much about dumping, I still don't go overboard.  Three squares is about it for me.  It satisfies my craving with a minimum of calories.

The price tends to be abound $4.00 a bar.  I don't mind paying that, though, since it lasts me a long time.  I buy mine at Whole Foods.  

This chocolate tastes great and it's smooth.  I feel that it tastes the same as regular chocolate, but some people think it's a slightly different taste.  Could be.  Depends on your palate, I guess.  I think the texture is the same, too.  It's not crumbly or grainy.  It's nice and smooth like regular chocolate.

Monday, October 6, 2014

homemade tomato sauce

Last weekend I went to the farm stand up the street and bought some rather large heirloom tomatoes.  At first I was going to make some sort of dish in an effort to make raw tomatoes appeal to me, but then I decided to make homemade tomato sauce.  It's something I've always wanted to try.

I started looking at recipes online and quickly realized there are many different ways to make tomato sauce.  Some say to blanch the tomatoes and then peel them.  Some say just chop up the tomatoes and throw them in the pot.  Some say to puree the cooked tomatoes, others don't.  I even found one that said to roast the tomatoes in the oven.  Aside from the different cooking methods, how do I know which one has the taste I'm looking for?  I decided that I would take the elements I like from different recipes and make it my own.  One recipe had the seasoning I was looking for, while another had the cooking method I wanted.

The sauce came out really good, although I might reduce the oregano next time.  It just seemed a bit much.  But it might be fine for someone else.

Here are the pics:
(recipe follows)

My ingredients (not the bananas!).  Three heirloom tomatoes weighed more than three pounds!

After the tomatoes have been blanched, peeled, and chopped.  Look at that color!  
These tomatoes are the Kellogg's Breakfast heirloom variety.  I know, weird name.

Tomatoes, onion, garlic, pepper, and cooked Italian sausage.

The cooked sauce.

Bob's dinner.

My dinner.  I didn't have the pasta.  I spooned the sauce over some ricotta cheese.  Yum!

Homemade Tomato Sauce

3 pounds tomatoes (whatever kind you like; I know nothing about tomato varieties)
1 pound cooked Italian sausage (or ground beef)
1/2 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
3 TB dried oregano
1 1/2 TB dried basil
3 bay leaves
salt to taste

  1. Brown the sausage or ground beef, then drain the excess fat.  Hold aside.
  2. Blanch and peel the tomatoes:  Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato.  Put into boiling water for about 45 seconds.  Pull them out with a slotted spoon and immediately put them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.  Peel the skins off.  Very easy!
  3. Chop the tomatoes, removing any of the tough white parts.  This can get messy so make sure you use a big cutting board.  Put chopped tomatoes in a large pot along with the cooked meat, diced onion, pepper, and garlic cloves and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste to the cooked tomatoes and stir to incorporate.
  5. Add the seasonings and stir.
  6. Turn burner to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours.  This is to incorporate all the flavors into the sauce.
  7. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  8. Pull out the bay leaves.
  9. Sauce is finished!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

garlic chicken rigatoni

I recently subscribed to Taste of Home magazine.  All of the recipes in it are submitted by home cooks, which means they're usually pretty easy and don't require a lot of fancy ingedients.

I tried Garlic Chicken Rigatoni for dinner the other night.  The only ingredient I would consider "fancy" is the sun-dried tomatoes.  It's not something I keep on hand, but they're easy enough to buy and aren't expensive.  I got a big package at Stew Leonard's for $2.99 and I have plenty left over for another recipe.  The fresh parsley, too, is something I don't keep on hand, but it's cheap.  I think I paid 79 cents for a bunch.  Fresh garlic isn't something I normally have, but there's a farm stand four houses down from us and I bought three heads last weekend.

The only changes I made to recipe were to omit the mushrooms (Bob is a mushroom-hater) and I used all chicken broth instead of part broth and part white wine.  I didn't have any wine in the house and wasn't going to buy bottle only to use half a cup.

We enjoyed this, although we're used to having some kind of sauce on our pasta; this had none.  I'm guessing you could probably make a sauce by increasing the broth and wine, but it wouldn't be thick.

For anyone saying, "Wait, you're not supposed to be eating pasta!!", relax.  Notice there's only three pieces of pasta on the plate.  I concentrated on the chicken.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

today's lunch

I really need to get better about checking to make sure I have ingredients before I cook.  I planned to make Hamburger Helper Stroganoff for lunch for Bob and AFTER I put the ground chicken (I sometimes use turkey or chicken instead of beef) in the pan I decided to check and make sure I had the two cups of milk I needed.  Nope.  Only one cup and Bob needs that for coffee until I go to the store later.  I didn't think it would taste right if I used all water so I abandoned the Hamburger Helper.

So, what to make?  I was out of pasta sauce, which is unusual for me.  I didn't have the right ingredients to make my mom's Ranch Beans.  I checked the cupboard and found some Lipton Onion Soup Mix, so I logged into their website and found a recipe I had most of the ingredients for:  All-American Skillet Casserole.  Of course, I had no cheddar cheese so had to use mozzarella cheese.  No big deal, though.

It was really fast and easy to make, and tasted pretty good, too, although I might stick with cheddar cheese and ground beef next time.

something i always wanted to do: karate

I've always wanted to try Karate.  For years I said, "Once I lose the weight, I'll try it out."  That was a LONG time ago.  But when I had my weight loss surgery last year, I said it again.  And actually meant it this time. (I'm not always good at following through on things.)  So, when a Groupon came up while browsing for something else, I decided to buy it.  It was $85.00 for two months of unlimited classes at New England Rendokan in Rocky Hill (here's the Groupon if you're interested:  New England Rendokan).  At this particular place, that meant I could take three classes a week if I wanted to.  And it was good up to four months from the time of purchase so I had plenty of time to take care of the move, get my mind into the idea of doing something physical, and to lose a few more pounds.

I took my first class the other night, and boy, was I sore afterwards!  Surprisingly it wasn't my legs or back that hurt, although that would come the next day.  It was my ankles and wrists.  My ankles because of the stance while doing certain moves.  And my wrists because of the punches.

It started about with about 15-20 minutes of warm-ups:  stretches, kicks, sit-ups, and (UGH!!) push-ups!  And not just a set of 10 push-ups.  It was one push-up, stand up, two push-ups, stand up, and on, until we got to ten push-ups.  Then it counted down.  So that was a total of 100 push-ups!  Holy crap!!  Needless to say, I did like one and that was it.  That sounds like I chickened out, or am so out of shape I could only do one.  But I did one.  A whole one.  The RIGHT WAY.  I've never before in my life done a push-up.  I wasn't able to.  I've always been too heavy.  343 pounds is a lot of weight on the wrists.  But now I'm 125 pounds lighter and that enabled me to do one.

After the warm-ups were done it was on to some simple repetitions.  Well, simple for the other students who had been there for a couple years.  I was able to do them, but I felt very uncoordinated and off balance, which is very unlike me.  I took dance for seven years as a child and I typically catch on very fast whenever I'm learning something new, so I figured this would be like anything I had tried and mastered.  Nope.  I felt like a fish out of water.  Some things were easier than others, but I found my balance wasn't the best and my retention of what I had learned was awful.  I kept getting stuck at certain points during a sequence, like I had a brain block or something.  I'm sure it's just because it's new and there was a lot of different moves to learn.

Overall, I enjoyed it.  It's quite a workout and that's what I'm looking for.  I was sore the next day, but that's to be expected.  I haven't exercised my whole body like that in a long time.

I learned something, too.  Like how to kick someone in the groin if they attack, how to dodge a knife, and how to kick someone in the side of the knee to take them down.  This is over simplified, of course.  There's a lot more to Karate than kicking someone in the balls.  It's about confidence, respect, and discipline.