Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Countdown to Thanksgiving

November 10, 2015

There are only 15 days left before Thanksgiving!  Most people associate Thanksgiving with eating a lot of food and then doing it all over again for a before bed snack and then the next day with the leftovers.  It doesn't have to be that way though.

For the past several years, since I've been with my fiance, there have almost always been three separate Thanksgiving dinners.  My mom would make a Thanksgiving dinner not on Thanksgiving, my future mother-in-law would make a Thanksgiving dinner not on Thanksgiving and finally, on Thanksgiving Fiance's parents would take us all out for Thanksgiving at a fancy local restaurant.

This year, however, I put my foot down and I now have the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving!  This is very exciting for me as I love to cook!  And what I love even more is putting a healthy twist on heavy favorites, which is what I am going to try to do this year.  There are a couple things, however, that I will keep traditional.  As Shaun T says, "eating 85% healthy, working out consistently, and eating 15% fun!" So 85% of my Thanksgiving feast is going to have to be healthy and 15% will have to be fun!

So what's on my menu you ask?  Well, the only thing set in stone is the local farm-raised turkey, stuffed with aromatics rather than dressing/stuffing.  Don't get me wrong, I love stuffing, and that is one of the things that I will leave traditional, but I really am interested in playing around with aromatics and poultry.  So I will be placing things like lemon, fennel, garlic, sage, and rosemary in the bird and we will see how that works.  Of course, I will make gravy with the drippings.  I am planning on roasted brussel sprouts and butternut squash, or sautéed if the oven is too busy.  I am debating mashed potatoes because my mom really loves them, but I will make half the amount that is usually made since a huge bowl almost always sits in the fridge for the week following and never gets eaten.  There was an amazing recipe for white mac and cheese with horseradish that Chef Carla Hall made on the Chew yesterday, but I think that would just kill me because I would totally overeat that for sure.  I think some sort of corn dish might be appropriate, but I haven't thought one up yet.  Maybe some green beans too, but not that creamy junk with the French's fried onions on top, I never did like that stuff.  I also plan on making my own cranberry sauce and I am pretty excited about that.

For the 15% fun, I will make via stovetop a version of my mom's beloved stuffing, but try to lighten it up a bit and I love adding chia seeds for a little flare.  Of course I will make homemade rolls and/or crescents.  I already rock at making my own big fluffy dinner rolls, but I have never made crescents, so this will be a new challenge.  I know, it's easy just to pop open the exploding tube and pop them in the oven but like I said, everything is going to be made by my own two hands, crescents included!

Finally, for dessert I will offer two pies.  One pie will be a pumpkin, sweet potato and butternut squash pie.  The other one is the kicker and partially the reason why I wanted to host Thanksgiving, it's called the Miley-High Apple Pie, which is probably really called the Mile-High Apple Pie, but Chef Michal Symon named it after Miley Cyrus, who he was dressed as on the Halloween episode of the Chew, where this pie was debuted.  The pie is unique to me – Granny smith apples piled high with an aged white cheddar crust.  SOLD!

So that's my potential menu, and like I said I am planning on sharing some recipes over on my Facebook page in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, so be sure to check it out!

P.S.        I will leave you with this recipe that I saw yesterday on the Chew (I know I have talked about the Chew at least three times in this post).  I wasn't planning on serving a salad with my Thanksgiving meal, but if I did, it would be this one.  I plan on making this in the next couple days because it just looks too delicious not to.  Here's the link:  Acorn Squash with Baby Bitter Greens Recipe from ABC's The Chew

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Weigh-In Wednesday: Week 4 (Belated)

November 7, 2015

Look out ya'll I'm breaking all the rules!!  To say the least, this week has been pretty hectic.  This week I dealt getting sick and being completely out of commission a couple days and then caring for my 4 year old who also got sick and was up with a frog in his throat all night.  Sickness mixed with working, running to my chiropractor three days a week, running my son an hour round trip to school four days a week and then venturing an hour out of town to meet a dog we are trying to help my mom rescue, it's been crazy.  So now it's Saturday and I have some downtime here after work and I want to post my results because it was a good week and before getting sick I worked really hard for this week's loss!

I did weigh in on Wednesday and I lost 2 pounds, which is my weekly goal.  A 2-pound loss is healthy number to aim for each week.
Week 4 results!
I wanted to keep this short, so thanks for checking in!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Weigh-In Wednesday: Week 3 (and 2)

OCTOBER 28, 2015

I promise I am not a flake and I also promise that I didn't skip Week 2 because I gained.  Truth is life happens and there are other things higher on my list of priorities and I can't always get to the blog, but I assure you I will try my best to stay consistent.


Life kicked in and I got super busy.  Once Wednesday slips away my OCD kicks in and I just can't fathom making my Weigh-In Wednesday post on Thursday, I JUST CAN'T!  So, my heading for Week 2 was going to be "Whose bright idea was it to make Weigh-In Wednesday fall after Taco Tuesday?"  Such is life (and sometimes life is tacos).  So Taco Tuesday happens, as it happens nearly every Tuesday because I love to cook and I love Mexican-inspired dishes.  My goal is to take traditional favorites and lighten them up.  Unfortunately, no matter how light I make them there still is the possibility of overeating.  It happens.  So Week 2 I had a gain of 0.2 pounds.  Although it is never fun to see the scale go up, it is always a learning experience of what changes you can make in your day-to-day life to keep the scale going down.  It is always tough, but try not to beat yourself up over a gain, no matter how big or small it is.  Just tell yourself you can do better and prove it to yourself.

Week 2


So for Week 3 I set a goal to move more as my workouts have been fizzling the past couple weeks (or months).  I stepped up my game a little, but I still found myself talking my way out of working out.  I had a really good workout on Thursday, where I was full of energy and didn't want to stop.  The Friday my body was aching and I talked myself out of another workout.  Leading up to Wednesday, my workouts have been fizzling again, not very intense, sort of taking the easy way out and not accomplishing what I set out to do this week.  So I will try again to impress myself for Week 4.  It's all about trying and trying and trying and never giving up, and that's what I am going to do.  I did lose 0.8 pounds, which is great and what I deserved from the effort I put in this past week.  It takes a while to get back into the swing of things.  I'm looking forward to Week 4!! 

Week 3

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Weigh-In Wednesday: Week One

OCTOBER 14, 2015

So my life has been completely hectic for the past month.  I feel like I lost a couple weeks of my life and I am still not sure where the time went.  Anyhow, I decided I would try to do a weekly weigh-in post.  I started it last week, October 7, 2015, but life got in the way and I was unable to make the first post.  So this will stand as the first post and the first-week result post.

Last week, I set my goal to lose 40 pounds.  I will weigh in each Weigh-In Wednesday and see how I do.  I encourage you to follow along with me at home.  Whether you have 100 pounds to lose or 10, keeping visual track is an excellent way to stay accountable.  It doesn't have to be just pounds that you are keeping track of but you could do inches, how much water you are drinking, how many fruits and veggies you are eating, get creative.  Write it down each week in a journal or you can make a nifty Excel graph like I did, there are also a million apps out there that do the same thing without a lot of effort from you.  One of which that I recommend to EVERYONE is SparkPeople.  I have been a member of SparkPeople since 2008!  It is free, check it out!


This week I have lost 2.4 pounds!  I am actually impressed with this number because I didn't get a lot of exercise in as I was super busy all weekend with activities and concerts, which also included indulging in some not-so-wonderful foods.  However, I did do a lot of walking all weekend at said events.  I am proud of that number and can't wait to see what next week will be when I put some more effort behind it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Back to School


As my son returns to his second year of preschool, I realize I have fallen off the face of the earth again.  Well, I didn't just realize this, I have known it for quite some time now.  I am the picture-perfect proof that we, as humans, are not perfect and can fail and fail again.  It is quite all right to fail, there are a lot of learning opportunities that come with failure, but it is what you do with that failure that makes the difference.  Do you let the failure overpower you and take you over?  Or do you overpower, take over and rise above the failure?  It may have taken a little longer than I had hoped, but I decided to overpower my failure and rise above it.  To further understand where I am coming from, let's take a brief look at my past year.

In August 2014, I was full of confidence, I had lost 70 pounds and was in the best physical shape of my life.  When my son started school in September, my schedule shifted as I had to drive him 1 hour round trip to his school.  This left me with one less hour in my day, but 2.5 hours with me stranded a half hour from home with nothing to do.  I found something to do.  I started Couch 2 5K and ran in the nearby park each day my son was at school.  I was never a runner, I hated it, but with C25K I learned how to run in a way that was addictive and rewarding and I loved it.  I was skeptical thinking, "I can't even run for a minute, how am I going to run for 3.1 miles in 8 weeks?"  C25K is designed in such a way that it literally builds your body to be able to go from couch to 3.1 miles in 8 weeks.  It was unbelievable.  I never did finish it, though.  I signed up for a local 5K as a practice run for the Great Pumpkin Race.  I ended up winning a silver medal for my age group.  Unfortunately, being new to running, I didn't realize the importance of having a good pair of running shoes and I ran in my worn out $30 C9 shoes from target and for the 2 weeks following I could barely walk due to some sort of strain on the bottom of my foot.  By October and the Great Pumpkin Race, I was all healed up and running again, in a new and better pair of shoes.  I didn't do as well as I did in the other 5K, but I did beat my time from the previous year by a lot and I was super proud of that!  I didn't train at all that previous year and it was pretty unbearable.

November through January, I was slacking off a little, as one normally does around the holidays and in the winter, I gained 10 to 15 pounds but for some reason I kept telling myself, "It's okay, I won't let it get above XXX pounds."  By January, it went above XXX pounds and I told myself, "It's okay I won't let it get above YYY pounds."  This pattern of self-forgiveness continued for a while until I got to a point during the early part of the year where I said, "Oh my God, what have I done!?"  And by that point, all I could dwell on is "how could I have done this to myself?"  I felt like I was in a fog.  It's no lie that my life between the fall of 2014 and now has been nothing short of stressful, hectic and overwhelming.  I had a stretch where I was really down and in a dark place, something I am usually able to shake, but this time I couldn't.  It was like I wasn't myself and like there was no way out.  I felt like I had worked so damn hard to get to where I was and then I literally let it all go.  I swore I wouldn't ever get above 200 pounds again.  I swore I would never eat the way I was eating again.  I swore I would always exercise and stay healthy.  I promised the world to myself a year ago and there I sat in a puddle of my own broken promises.

By June, I had gained back 38 pounds, that was over half what I had lost, it was devastating to say the least.  I was broken.  I was depressed.  I was disappointed in myself.  But I had a choice.  Was I going to sit around and feel sorry for myself and just let the landslide that was my life keep tearing me down?  No!  I was worth far more than that.  I had to find that fight I found within me several years ago when I first set off on this journey to a healthy me.  I had to find that fight and fuel that fire that I knew I had in me and rebuild my life!

It didn't come easy, it was actually harder this time.  I had so many "fresh starts" over the past few months, which ultimately lead to "I'll try better tomorrow."  I kept trying and kept pushing and searched and searched and searched for that spark to light my fire.  It wasn't until the end of August that I could say I finally found it, and I am doing all that I can to keep my fire going.  With a whole year of darkness, I've finally found the light.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Cheez-It Chicken - A Tad Lighter Version

Since it is a new year I would like to start sharing some of my favorite recipes and cooking tips.  If you know me personally, you know that I am a Cheez-It addict.  We literally can’t have them in the house because I will eat the whole box and that is a very, very bad thing!!  I am pretty good at eating portion size and in moderation on EVERYTHING else BUT Cheez-Its… I can’t explain it, I can’t change it or get over it, I just have to accept it and try not to buy them.  With that said, the rare chance I do screw up and buy them I have to get rid of them in other ways and one of my favorite ways is with Cheez-It Chicken.  There are several different variations out there, some call for flour and egg, Dijon or honey mustard, sour cream, mayonnaise and so on.  I was so ready to make it for dinner tonight using the “Hellmann’s Chicken” method by using mayonnaise and cheddar cheese and sprinkle the Cheez-Its on top.  That method didn’t fit into my Spark People meal plan for the day so I had to lighten it up a bit.  I then remembered I had some plain Greek yogurt in the fridge that I needed to use up soon so I decided to use that.  These came out so tender, juicy and flavorful and the “breading” stayed on perfectly.  I was so impressed by this method, I will surely be adding this to my arsenal.

If you try this recipe, let me know how you liked by leaving a comment!

1 ½ to 2 cups Cheez-It or like brand crackers (could use reduced fat too!)
Black pepper, to taste
1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
½ cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
2 to 3 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

1.            Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a foil-covered baking sheet with cooking spray.
2.            Crush the Cheez-It crackers and mix in pepper.  Place mixture in bowl.
3.            In another bowl, mix the Greek yogurt and the shredded cheddar cheese.
4.            Working with one chicken strip at a time, first roll strip in yogurt and cheese mixture until it is evenly covered.  Next roll the strip in the Cheez-It mixture and place it on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining chicken strips.
5.            Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
6.            ENJOY!

NUTRITION FACTS (APPROX.):  5 Servings; Calories:  215.4; Total Fat:  6.7 g; Cholesterol:  71.9 mg; Sodium:  168.7 mg; Potassium:  233.8 mg; Total Carbohydrate:  7.8 g; Fiber:  0.3 g; Sugar:  1.0 g; and Protein:  29.3 g.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014



I have been quite obsessed with making salads in a jar lately.  I call them "Salad Jar" like salad bar... haha… get it?  Salad jar… right.  Well, these things are amazing!  I started making them about a month ago and I am hooked and now making them every week.  Since I am chopping and stuffing everything into the jars on one day and putting them into the fridge to use over the next 7 days, I am saving a ton of time!  HOLD UP!  Did you just say 7 days?  YEP! I did!  I have stretched these little gems out for 7 days of lunches or dinners!  If you follow the layering guide they are still UNBELIEVABLY fresh on day 7!  I am still so shocked about it and I have had several of these so far.

Before when I would buy lettuce for salads, I would buy my head of romaine and chop it, rinse it, spin it in the salad spinner to dry and place it in a large zip lock container with a paper towel to absorb moisture.  I would then grab from this container over the next week when I wanted to have a salad.  Truth is by day 4 the lettuce would already be starting to brown and wilt and it would never make it to day 7 and would ultimately end up in the trash!  With this jar method I can't even begin to rave about how fresh the lettuce is STILL on day 7!  It literally is like I just cut, washed and spun it.  I have read several blogs about this and the claim that these salads in a jar will stay fresh for up to 7 days and I have always been like yeah… right… until I finally decided to try it.  I am a believer and you can be a believer too, just follow the simple building directions outlined below!  ENJOY!


I love big entrée salads so I use a 1 quart wide mouth mason jar to make these salads.  You can use any size and any ingredients as long as you follow this simple layering guide.


1.            DRESSING/SAUCE
2.            HEARTY VEGETABLES (i.e. tomatoes, onions, peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery)
3.            LESS HEARTY VEGETABLES AND BEANS (i.e. mushrooms, zucchini, corn)
4.            PASTA AND GRAIN (i.e. pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa)
5.            PROTEIN AND CHEESE (i.e. meat, eggs, cheese, shrimp, chicken)
6.            LETTUCE (and anything else that would get soft or soggy such as nuts or seeds, possibly croutons or chips but I always just add those when I am ready to eat it)

When you are ready to eat your salad jar just shake it up and dump it out into a bowel to enjoy.

SALAD JAR RECIPES THAT I HAVE CREATED AND TRIED (with Weight Watchers Points Plus values)

Ken's Lite Blue Cheese Dressing (2tbs) – 2pp
Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce (1tbs) – 0pp
Cherry Tomatoes – 0pp
Red Onions – 0pp
Bell Peppers – 0pp
Broccoli – 0pp
Grilled Chicken (3oz) – 3pp
Crumbled Blue Cheese (1/8c) – 1pp
Romaine Lettuce – 0pp

Drew's Greek Salad Dressing (1tbs) – 2pp
Cherry Tomatoes – 0pp
Red Onions – 0pp
Bell Peppers – 0pp
Black Olives (5) – 1pp
Grilled Chicken (3oz) – 3pp
Crumbled Feta Cheese (1/4c) – 3pp
Romaine Lettuce – 0pp

Medium Salsa (2tbs) – 0pp
Ken's Lite Ranch (1tbs) – 1pp
Cherry Tomatoes – 0pp
Red Onions – 0pp
Bell Peppers – 0pp
Canned Corn, No Salt Added (2tbs) – 0pp
Canned Black Beans, Low Sodium (2tbs) – 1pp
Ground Turkey Taco Meat (3oz) – 3pp
Shredded Cheddar Cheese (1/2 oz) – 2pp
Romaine Lettuce – 0pp
*Optional Topper:  Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (4) – 1pp

Ken's Lite Italian Dressing (2tbs) – 2pp
Cherry Tomatoes – 0pp
Red Onions – 0pp
Bell Peppers – 0pp
Garbanzo Beans (1/4c) – 1pp
Whole Grain Pasta (1/2c) – 3pp
Grilled Chicken (3oz) – 3pp
Cubed Cheddar Cheese (1oz) – 3pp
Romaine Lettuce – 0pp

Ken's Lite Caesar Dressing (2tbs) – 2pp
Cherry Tomatoes – 0pp
Red Onions – 0pp
Bell Peppers – 0pp
Grilled Chicken (3oz) – 3pp
Grated Parmesan Cheese (2tbs) – 1pp
Romaine Lettuce – 0pp
*Optional Toppers:  Seasoned Croutons (4tbs) – 1pp