Category Archives: Food

“Ultimate” Get-Slim Guide

This is the first issue of Eating Well I have received, and I found their Ultimate Get-Slim Guide intriguing.  For those of you who do not read/receive this magazine, I thought I would share their tips with you…

1. Define Your Goal.  They provide a math problem to determine your caloric intake:
[Your weight X 12] – 500 = Your daily calorie goal to lose 1 pound a week
*Subtract 1000 if you would like to lose 2 pounds a week.  Also be sure not to dip below 1200 calories per day total.

2. Use Little Plates. This, apparently, causes you to eat less because you just think of it as “I ate an entire plate of food.”  I already do this, by the way.

3. Set A Date. Setting a specific goal (“I want to lose 10 pounds in 2 months”) increases the likelihood of success.  Be as specific as possible to give yourself less “wiggle” room in your goals.

4. Make Your Dinner Plate Like This: 1/2 colorful mix of veggies; 1/4 whole grains; 1/4 lean protein.  I will admit I struggle with this…I am getting better, but I am not great still.  This is part of the reason I will be meeting with a nutritionist on Feb 3.

5. Visual Portion Sizes: 1 tsp = tip of your thumb (to the middle joint); 1 Tbsp = your whole thumb; 1 cup = your fist; 3 ounces of meat = palm of your hand

6. Breakfast Is Vital!  Those who eat breakfast are far more likely to acheive weight loss goals…never skip breakfast!  According to the magazine, repeating the same meal can help shed pounds (I thought the idea was to mix it up, but I’m no expert).

7. Eat Soup.  A study published in Physiology & Behavior showed people who ate soup consumed fewer calories during those days.  I should eat more soup.  Got any great recipes to share?

8. Snacks = Protein and Fiber.  They suggest carrots and hummus, nonfat cottage cheese and orange slices, and an apple with almond butter.

9. Ditch Top Buns. Open-face sandwiches reduce calories by at least 100 calories instantly.  So, do not eat the top bun next time.

10. Allow Small Treats Each Day. Apparently, according to Journal of the American Dietetic Association, eating a treat under 150 calories is okay and will not wreck your diet.  They suggest a 16-oz skim latte, two squares of dark chocolate, or 1/2 cup (non-premium) ice cream.  I personally find this insane, especially for anyone with a food addiction.  Opening that gate every day could be dangerous, so think about how you *really* feel about food before deciding to do this one.  I know I will not be even considering it…

11. Count Calories.  Here is a chart I created based on the information they provide in this article: Calorie Tracker Options

12. Post A Picture. Use pictures for motivation and post them anywhere you can (on your fridge, as your phone wallpaper, on your desktop/laptop wallpaper, etc.).  The pictures can be of yourself at your healthiest, your children, motivational quotes, etc.

13. Get Eight Hours of Sleep. Studies show people who sleep fewer than eight hours of sleep often weigh more than those who get eight or more.  Sleeping less can alter hormones levels that control hunger.

14. Use a BIG Fork. A study at the University of Utah showed bigger bites leads to eating less.  Also try holding the fork in your nondominant hand.  Eating slower allows your body to feel full faster, thus making you eat less.

15. Pick A Prize. Reward yourself as you meet incremental goals.  I have discussed this topic previously, and I am also an occasional “rewarder” (my rewards are *always* non-food items, by the way).

16. Portion-Control Your Lunch. A Cornell study revealed those who consumed a packaged lunch of 200 calories (such as a nutrition bar) consumed 250 fewer calories for the day.  The participants reported they still felt completely satisfied, too.

17. Weigh In and Log Progress.  Weighing in at least once weekly helps to keep you accountable, motivated, and on track.

18. 30 Minutes Per Day. Running, swimming, or biking should consume at least 30 minutes of your day…every day.  That will equal about 250 calories burned, which is about a 1/2 pound in weight loss each week.

19. Make A Bet. At stickK.com you can set a goal, appoint a friend to keep you accountable, and wager money (optional) for charity to meet that goal.  If you do not meet the goal by the set date, stickK will automatically charge your card and send the money to your charity.  Apparently, putting up the money will cause an increase in the likelihood of success, too.

20. Drink Water. In a 2010 study, people who drank two cups of water before meals lost more weight than those who did not.

21. Back On Track, Stat. Repeat this mantra if you slip up.  The mindset of “waiting till Monday” to get back on track really adds on the pounds over the weekend.

22. Eat Yogurt. A recent Harvard study linked yogurt closely to weight loss.  So, have some.

23. Move, Move, Move. Incidental exercise significantly increases calorie burn. (Unpacking the car: 3.0 calories/min; Straightening the house: 3.1 calories/min; Take the stairs: 10.7 calories/min; Shovel snow: 7.6 calories/min)

24. Take EatingWell’s 28-Day Challenge.

25. Make A Plan. They provide a 1,500 calorie/day meal plan and others can be found here.

How many of these tips do you already utilize in your journey?  Will you be adding anymore of these strategies to your journey?  Do you have any of your own tips to share?

-Erica

Cryptically Malicious?

…and that is nothing like “magically delicious.”

Christmas is coming…which we all knew already, right?  Christmas, aside from the gift giving and celebration, is laden with food.  Especially desserts.  Lots of desserts.

I have read an abundance of posts from fellow bloggers about their holiday eating plans, and about the ridiculous amounts of food and desserts available throughout this season.  How does one stay focused and on track with so much temptation lurking around?

I was really quite relaxed about the whole thing until…

Each year we head to my mother’s parents’ house for Christmas.  The adults exchange gifts (which actually just migrated into an absurd exchange of gift certificates several years ago) while the children are corralled into a small space in the elegant home of my mother’s parents.  They, of course, are unable to actually touch anything since the pristine home is museum-like in many ways.  It is an uncomfortable gathering, and it has been for many years.  In light of this unbearably tense environment, everyone in the family stays pretty focused on eating/grazing.  After all, if you constantly have food in your mouth, no one can expect to have a conversation.

Traditionally, the entire family is divided by sisters (my mother and her four sisters) as far as food goes.  Their parents would provide the meat (usually a deli tray), and the rest of the meal gets divided up between the five sisters and brought in like a bizarre potluck.  This year is no different, with one tiny exception…

My mother and I are in charge of bringing dessert.  When she told me the news I about jumped through the roof.  Seriously.  My face immediately went red hot and I was saying all sorts of colorful words I will not share here.  Dessert.  Now, the whole family is well aware that I have lost 60+ pounds.  So, why ask *me* to bring dessert?  Is that being somewhat passive agressive?  I think so, personally.  Hence my cryptically malicious title.  I am livid.

In all the flustered chaos in my head, though, I am pretty sure I have developed a cryptically malicious counter attack.  Bring fruit…and nothing else.  So, this year the family will be gathered around the “buffet” on my mother’s parents counter top…in that crazy “picture perfect” kitchen where everyone is afraid to touch or use anything…with fruit as the “grand finale.”  They will be angry (and I am sure that is an understatement) and I will probably get asked at least two dozens times, “Where’s the *real* dessert?”  That is fine with me.

I bet I will not be in charge of dessert next year.

How are you planning to make it through the holiday food season?  Are you going to stick to your regularly scheduled programming or let things slide and have a free-for-all?

-Erica

Food…and Hunger

This hungry (probably starving, actually) little fella pretty much describes how I have been feeling lately.  The problem is, I cannot figure out why in the world I am feeling so hungry!

As my weight continues to decrease, my alloted calories also decrease…so why is my appetite increasing?  I am more hungry now than when I first started eating better (which meant eating less, of course).

The hunger is making me nervous.  I find that if I try to ignore it (meaning keeping myself occupied with something else) it just gets worse.  My stomach starts growling – out loud, mind you – to the point where other people in the room can hear it, easily.  This is not “emotional” hunger either…I have learned to tell the difference.  This hunger is coming on at random times throughout the day/night.  My emotional hunger usually popped up only when I was bored, lonely, upset, angry, etc.  Also, my emotional hunger did not cause my stomach to roar out loud (of course, because my body was not genuinely hungry).

So, what in the world do I do now?  I am afraid if I start eating more the weight will stop coming off.  On the other hand, though, I cannot allow myself to stay this hungry all the time, right?  Allowing myself to remain hungry (if my body genuinely needs more food) will also be counter-productive to weight loss.  Frustrating.  Really.

For those of you out there who may have experienced this before…or just generally know what you are talking about…what do I do now?  Do I increase the food intake?  If so, what should I increase?  Only fruits and veggies, protein…all of it?  Help, please.

-Erica

The Beaten Path

If you are on a journey (not necessarily a weight loss journey), you probably know that looking at the path you have taken to arrive where are you now is just as important as laying out a new path.  While looking forward is certainly the best option (positivity and all that), you certainly should not forget to look back.  Mull over where you went “wrong,” and where you found strength, guidance.

This is something I have been thinking a lot about recently.  Months ago I admitted to myself (and, subsequently, the blog-o-sphere) that I had a problem with food.  I was out of control and powerless against food.  Thoughts of food filled my head constantly…so much that it was often difficult for me to do *anything* without “snacking” – or at least thinking about what I would eat next.  Time consuming, seriously.

Even at the beginning, even after admitting there was a problem, I did not think too much about *how* that happened…the why.  When did I develop such a horrible relationship with food?  Why did I turn to food?  So, with the help of my therapist, I began to search my past (what I can remember anyway) for reasons I might have turned to food for comfort.

One of my first realizations was that my mother’s relationship with food certainly helped to shape mine.  I remember when I was about 10 we would order two large extra cheese pizzas from Old Towne Pizza every single Saturday night.  It was often just the two of us because my step-father worked third shift on Saturday nights.  Actually, that is *why* we ordered pizza every Saturday – because he was gone and we could.  He was not “on board” with eating out.  He found it frivolous and unnecessary.  So, we ordered those two large extra cheese pizzas out of spite.  Then we ate those two extra large cheese pizzas – all in one night (and threw the boxes in the dumpster so there was *no* evidence).  Crazy, don’t you agree?  That is where my “secretive eating” developed.  I am sure of it.  I would hide in my kitchen after my chicklets were in bed, eating.  I would sneak food into my office behind my back so they would not see and eat it alone.  Strange (and awfully sad) but true.

I also remember being forced to “clean my plate” when eating a meal.  Regardless of what was on it, how much, or if it was my second (or, sometimes, even third) serving.  I had to eat it all…stuffing myself beyond full.  Way beyond.  My step-father was such a control freak that he often made my plates for me, which compounded the problem.  He served me (a child) just as he served himself.  The portions were already horribly distorted – even for a grown man.  This is something I do not push on my children.  I usually serve small portions (tiny, in fact) and tell them they are to eat until they feel full.  If that means they do not eat everything, they do not eat everything.  Period.

I have two memories that are so vivid they seem as though it was yesterday.  One of which I will not share (because it is truly distasteful for public).  The other; however, is of my mother lying on bed with a giant bowl beside it.  She was lying flat on her back, arms and legs outstretched with her pants unbuttoned and unzipped.  She was miserable, but she was not sick.  We had just eaten (of all things) Thanksgiving dinner, and she was so full she felt ill.  I remember her lying on the bed for hours moaning and praying (out loud) to God that she would just throw up already so she could feel better.  She swore she would never eat another bite of turkey or apple pie again in her life.  Of course, in the middle of the night I found her crouched in the kitchen picking at the white meat while everyone else was supposed to be sleeping.  So much for never eating turkey again.

I also remember being upset (over a boy, no less) and my mother curling up on the couch with me…and a half-gallon of ice cream.  She was soothing my heart with kind words (and sugary, frozen fat) assuring me that I would not be sad forever.  This was something she often did when I was heartbroken or distraught about something – feed me.  We also took every opportunity to celebrate successes with…can you guess?…food.  So, eat when you are sad and depressed, eat when you are happy and celebratory, just eat.

Do not misunderstand me, I love my mother dearly.  I mention these things not to shame her (or make her look bad), but because these experiences helped to shape my unhealthy relationship with food.  Without recognizing these experiences, I doubt I could have truly understood where my dependency began, and just how deeply rooted it is.  That is certainly not to say I cannot beat this addiction (because I am doing just that now), that just means I have a serious battle that I should not take lightly.

Have you ever considered where your bad habits stem from?  How important do you think recognizing their origin is to changing those habits?

-Erica

My Thanksgiving {victory}

This picture gives you an idea of how previous Thanksgiving went for me…really my whole family.  This year; however, was a *total* 180-degree change.  I am so very proud to tell you that I did not stuff myself…not even to the point of “mildly uncomfortable.”

Things I did differently this year:

First, and one of the biggest, I changed my mentality.  That is a *huge* step to any recovery (after all, I *am* a recovering food addict) process.  I did not let my *whole* week leading up to Thanksgiving revolve around the food.  I did not let my *whole* morning/day revolve around food.  I went about my week/day just like it was any other week/day.  Food was not in the forefront of my mind.

Second, probably the second biggest, I changed the food – including the quantity.  I did not serve cornbread, rolls, mashed potatoes, boxed stuffing (except one box for my mother and ex- who *insisted* it be on the table for them), etc.  I filled the table with healthy choices – even the desserts were not “wreck your day/week” kind of desserts.

Third, and this ties in with “second,” I started with a big and beautiful artisan salad with pears and pecans (and homemade vinaigrette).  It was *amazing* and I savored every single bite.  The rest of the family was digging into everything else, but I sat there quietly enjoying my salad.  Come to think of it, other than my chicklets, no one else even put salad on their plate.  Go figure.

Fourth, I actually let my food (dinner) settle before digging into dessert.  In previous years we all went running for the dessert the very moment we cleaned our plates.  Talk about stuffing ourselves to the max, right?  My chicklets were having some sort of mild panic attack around an hour after eating dinner because there was no dessert in front of them yet.  They remember that we *always* eat pumpkin and apple pie *right* after dinner, so they were a little concerned that maybe there was no dessert.  I served myself a super small amount of pumpkin custard and apple confit on a *tiny* plate (smaller than my children use, actually)…probably less than 1/4 cup of each dessert.  I enjoyed the dessert – bite by bite – slowly.  They were delicious.

I know this was (by far) the healthiest, most nutritionally dense Thanksgiving I have ever had.  Do you know how I know?  When I weighed this morning (just because it was going to kill me, you know) I was down 1.2 pounds from Thursday morning.  Yes, 1.2 whole pounds *right* after eating Thanksgiving dinner…and dessert.  That is awesome.

How was your Thanksgiving?

-Erica

My {proposed} Thanksgiving “Feast”

So, since I came to the revelation that I needed (badly) to develop a plan for Thanksgiving dinner this year the wheels have been spinning…

I appreciate the input and advice from all of you.  I probably would not have come up with this fine “feast” without you!

First up – salad:

Fall Harvest Salad

To be honest, I usually do not prepare a salad for Thanksgiving dinner. This year; however, I will…and I am actually excited to try this one (because it looks/sounds delicious!). I will be using artisan lettuce instead of “plain old” lettuce, though. Also I will not be making such a large amount of the vinaigrette – my family is not big on dressings anyway.

Next comes the turkey:

Roasted Citrus & Herb Turkey

This is a bit different than my usual seasoning for the turkey, but I am excited to try something new with the turkey. You know, shake things up a bit (or a whole lot…as it might be).

Moving on to the mashed potatoes:

Faux Ta Toes

This is maybe where things start to get more interesting. I have been brainstorming ways to “change out” the mashed potatoes with all of their white starchy evilness (yes, I am aware that is not really a word). At first I switched straight to sweet potatoes, but that was an “I-may-lose-my-life-serving-it” kind of plan. So, I thought “faux” potatoes, or cauliflower. I will not follow the recipe above entirely, but this is the general idea. Instead of serving 100% mashed potatoes, I am going to switch out majority of the potatoes for cauliflower. I also usually use light sour cream instead of cream cheese. Additionally, I will be adding some herbs and spices to keep the flavor up (without adding extra calories/fat).

Now, I am not sure about anyone else out there, but when I have mashed potatoes (or even a knock off) I *have* to have corn.  So, I found this delightfully scrumptious recipe a while back:

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob with Cilantro Lime Butter

I am hoping I will be able to find corn on the cob in the grocery today. If not, I will have to come up with something else. Maybe a variation of this recipe that does not start “on the cob?” We shall see.

The stuffing:

Wild Rice Stuffing

The last dinner item I will be serving is broccoli:

Broccoli (no special recipe)

I did not pick out a “special” recipe for broccoli because I do not really think I need one. I cook broccoli often (because I love it) and I think the way I usually prepare it is just fine (steamed with some garlic).

On to dessert.  As I mentioned before, we have always been a “multi-dessert” kind of family.  That is mostly because I *love* pumpkin and my mother hates it.  I refuse to skip pumpkin *something* on Thanksgiving, and my mother feels the same way about apple *something.*  So, here is my plan:

Apple Confit

Per the reviews on the recipe, I will be significantly reducing the sugar in the recipe. I will also likely increase the cinnamon and maybe a dash of something extra. It sounds absolutely amazing, though.

…and the pumpkin dessert:

Light Pumpkin Custard

I will be making smaller quantities this year (so I may end up halving some of the larger recipes listed above), so that it decreases the amount of food on the table (and in my fridge afterward). All in all, though, I feel as though this is a decent menu with very little room for “disaster” in the way of my weight loss path. I also believe that my family will not be too terribly upset about this menu, so that is another positive.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Will you be allowing yourself a “free” day, or will you be mentally preparing to curb poor eating habits?

-Erica

It Just Occurred To Me…

Despite nearly everyone else discussing the upcoming “gorge fest” holiday, I seem to have let it drift very far from my mind.  I suppose in some small corner of this crazy, disorganized subconscious of mine, I just assumed I would make “the usual” for Thanksgiving.  The problem?  There are so many!

First of all, the sheer quantity of food I usually prepare is astounding (and ridiculous for only five people).  So, that is something I must change this year.  Second, I usually load the table down with all sorts of carbs (mashed potatoes, stuffing, yeast rolls, cornbread, and more).  Most (if not all) of those things are on my “no-no” list.  Third, dessert is usually a main attraction at my house.  I. Love. Pumpkin. Pie. (with tons of whipped cream)

So, apparently, I need to develop a plan.  My family will be fine with the reduction in quantity (because they will not have a choice).  However, if I serve *no* stuffing, *no* potatoes, *no* rolls, and *no* dessert…I may not live to see another day.  Really.  What in the world do I do now?

I ran the idea of having mashed sweet potatoes (instead of the white potatoes) and I got the stare that said, “Is she really serious behind that face?  This has to be some sort of joke because she would *never* mess with the f*&$ing mashed potatoes.  Right?”  That, I suppose, is not going to fly.

Now that I am actively thinking about the upcoming holiday, I am entering a stage of panic.  What in the world am I to do?  Do any of you have suggestions for recipes that will not make my family murder me…but that I will be able to eat and enjoy?  Help!  (tee hee…but seriously)

-Erica

Curry Salad

This looks amazing, too.  Another recipe courtesy of my Facebook friend, Amy, that is on my “must try soon” list.

CURRY SALAD

2 limes
1 c dry quinoa
1 1/4 c water
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tsp curry seasoning (such as Spice Islands)
3/4 tsp salt
1 package (10 oz) shredded carrots
1 c no-salt-added canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 1/2 c thinly sliced scallions
1/4 c sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 c dried currants or golden raisins
3/8 tsp pepper

1. Zest or finely grate one lime to produce 1 1/2 teaspoons zest, then juice both limes.
2. In a saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons lime juice, quinoa, water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, curry seasoning, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until quinoa turns transparent and liquid is absorbed. Cool and place in a large bowl.
3. Add carrots, chickpeas, scallions, almonds, and currants. Toss.
4. In a small bowl, combine remaining 3 tablespoons lime juice, zest, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/8 teaspoon pepper; whisk until well blended. Pour over quinoa mixture and toss. Divide evenly into four salad bowls.

Makes four servings

Here’s the dirt:
431 calories
14 g fat (1.9 g saturated)
511 mg sodium
60 g carbs
10 g fiber
17 g protein

TIP If you can’t find curry seasoning, make your own using 1 teaspoon of curry powder, 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon.

-Erica

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pizza

Tell me this pizza does not look absolutely mouth-wateringly delicious!  Yummy!  Another recipe from my Facebook friend, Amy (thanks!).

ROASTED RED PEPPER PESTO PIZZA

1 (10 ounce) roll of refrigerated pizza dough
6 tablespoons prepared pesto, divided
1 1/2 cups roasted red pepper strips, divided
1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes, divided
1 cup precrumbled gorgonzola cheese, divided

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 2. Unroll the can of pizza dough and cut in half. Pat and shape each half into two pizza shells, each about 10 inches in diameter, on a large greased baking sheet or two smaller sheets. 3. Spread each pizza shell with 1/2 of the pesto, then top each with 1/2 of the pepper strips, chopped canned tomatoes and gorgonzola cheese. 4. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and the bottoms are nicely browned.

Here’s the dirt:
463.2 calories
23 g fat (9.1 saturated) 
32.5 mg cholesterol 
1589.9 mg sodium 
45.3 g carbs 
8.2 g sugars 
3.9 g fiber
17.6 g protein

***Of course, I would substitute whole wheat crust, which would change the nutritional information.***

-Erica

Seafood and Mushroom Pasta

This is another recipe from my Facebook friend, Amy…and another I want to try.  Although I am not a big fan of clams, so I would probably substitute chicken instead.  I think it would still be equally delicious with chicken anyway.

 

 

SEAFOOD AND MUSHROOM PASTA

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tin (10 ounces) baby clams, with juice
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill
salt
ground black pepper
8 ounces whole wheat linguine
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Alternate:
If you blanch your tomatoes, their skins will slip off easily. Begin by coring the tomatoes with a paring knife, removing the stems and white middles. Then cut an X in the bottom of each tomato, cutting only the skin. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the tomatoes to the water. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes from the pot and immediately plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. when the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, use the edge of the knife to slip off the skin.

Directions
1. Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the clams, shrimp, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and the mushrooms are soft. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and dill. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the juice from the tomatoes evaporates a bit. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. 2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook the linguine according to package directions. Drain the pasta and place it in a large bowl. Add the shellfish mixture and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with the cheese and additional dill, if using, and serve. 

Here’s the dirt: 
489.5 calories
11.7 fat (3.8 saturated)
239 mg cholesterol 
757 mg sodium 
53 g carbs 
6 g fiber 
49 g protein

-Erica