Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A New Year & A New Tool

FitBit is a tiny semi-permanent companion that’s meant to track your every step, calorie, activity and even your sleep. I've been virtually stalking the fitbit since they came onto the market in beta phase around 2007. I love tech-geeky gadgets and it's even better if they come with statistics and charts and graphs. I debated with myself… it was expensive, at $100 for the fancy tracker, so I waited and talked about it for 2 Christmases and low and behold It was gifted to me.

The device itself has little to see it’s a  featureless clip that you attach to your clothing. It has ONE button. Which you press to rotate between steps taken, calories burned, distance walked, flights of stairs taken, the current time, and your overall daily activity as evidenced by a flower of varying length. It’s cute and dead simple.  There is no confusion.

Originally part of my hesitation on the device was that I was tracking but I didn't understand much of what calorie counting meant. The pretty charts and graphs that site gave me did'nt mean much to me. That is until I joined the WW Points Plus program and learned that tracking your both your food and activity points lead to big losses on the scale.

Since i'm already tracking my food and activity points, with WW - using the fitbit tracker in conjunction is second nature. While it is a pain to have to enter my stats in two places, i find that the fitbit gives me tighter tracking on the kinds of activity and sedentary moments I have through out the day. This allows me to see what i'm eating and at what time of day? Am I eating because i'm bored, am I hungry and crabby after a work out (the answer is yes). What are my sugar spikes and falls throughout the day. Does this make me eat food differently. Also, the fitbit has a sleep tracker, which actually calculates the amount of movement you do in your sleep. This also, is allowing me to think about my movements thoughout the day - and set goals towards calories burned vs. calorie intake.

You maybe thinking SO WHAT? Using a fitbit allows you to know when your tired, and hungry.

Its more then that. Using a fitbit in conjunction to fitness monitoring is helping me make more rational and less emotional food choices throughout the day. They also have a great interface for adding foods and seeing your caloric intake, and encourage you to make goals for yourself and hit them. Also realize i'm competitive and I love a challenge and the fitbit allows me to set and see my stats in one pretty long running graph to help me reach my goals.

There’s something surreal and interestingly futuristic about the whole experience. You might be saying that you already have a pedometer, or that your phone can track a lot of this information. But at this level of detail, reliability and great interface in the forefront, there is nothing on the market that compares.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rum Spiced Cupcakes


These special little cupcakes taste sooo good and are guilt free! Finally eat an entire cupcake frosting included for only 3pp or 115 calories. I was inspired by all of the wonderful delights from Dashing Dish and this cupcake is the fantastic base for many flavors. With a few sprinkles of my own creativity this cupcake was a hit several holiday parties.

Inspired by Dashing Dish Egg Nogg Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup of sugar substitute (I used Splenda)
1 tablespoon baking powder
5 egg beaters whites
1/3 cup plain fat free greek yogart
1 cup water
1 1/2 tbs rum extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp of orange zest 

Frosting:

1 cup cold fat free milk (or milk alternative)
1 small package sugar free vanilla pudding mix
1 (8oz) container fat free cool whip
1/2 tbs rum extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a pinch of nutmeg)

And cinnamon for dusting!

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 (12 count) muffin tins with cupcake liners, or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the cake, and whisk until batter is smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the 24 muffin tins. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the milk and pudding mix until smooth. Fold in cool whip, rum extract, and nutmeg. Chill frosting in the fridge until the cupcakes are completely cooled, and ready to be frosted.

4. When cupcakes are ready to frost, place whipped frosting in a large ziplock bag. Cut the tip off a corner of the bag, and squeeze frosting down to the cut corner. Squeeze frosting out while making a swirling/upward motion and lift at the peak! Dust with cinnamon if desired. Store cupcakes in fridge until ready to serve.

Servings: 24 cupcakes
Calories: 115 calories per cupcake (includes frosting!)
Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 3 pp per cupcake

Friday, December 9, 2011

Beautiful Slimming (and Bra Friendly Tops)



If your like me - you love your jeans, but changing up your tops can be a daunting task. You want to look professional, unique, chic, and most of all comfortable. Besides going with a basic t-shirt EVERY-day here are some beautiful tops to accompany your denim (or any bottom really) that are slimming, chic, and bra-friendly!

Use these tops as inspiration for shapes and colors, while remembering a few of these basic rules.

Neckline - having an interesting neckline draws attention towards your face. Some of the best shapes for slimming include, v-neck, crew neck, or a scoop neck. These shirts also can bring you from the office to the evening.

Color - Keeping a monochromatic color palette helps gives the appearance of a slimmer figure by not focusing the eye on a wide stripe or busy print. Adding a skinny belt or having a shirt that color blocks vertically (like row 1, top 3) is slimming and sexy. Use accessories, like a skinny belt to make these tops work hard for your wardrobe and give each outfit more versatility.

Mind Your Waist Line - Your waist is the thinnest part of your mid-section, by finding a top that cinches in towards the center of your waist gives a sexy hour glass figure and also a wonderful girlie touch. Don't have a waist line? Fake it! - adding a ribbon or a skinny belt to your waist just above your belly button, will take a flowy top in and also make your waistline look long and lean. Do you have a short waist? Look for a slightly longer top with a lower flair, this will elongate your waistline and draw attention to long legs.

1st Row (from the left)
1. Mayra Silk Sleeveless Top With Belt
2. Nina Ricci Gathered Cashmere-Silk Tank Top
3. John Lewis, Oasis Colour Block Ponte Top, Black/White
4. Milly Beaded Shell Top

2nd Row (from the left)
1. Vivienne Westwood Anglomania - Marghi Blouse
2. Mullbery Pleat Front Top
3. Matches-MAXMARA - Folco Top
4. Dorothy Perkins - Magenta pleat top

Puff Pastry Hero

I've been featured on how2heroes!

Being seasonally appropriate I made puff pastry swans, as a lovely light dessert, for the wonderful cooking website how2heroes. It was such an honor to be featured on the homepage as well as in their 12 dishes to christmas newsletter. You can also view my bio video here: http://how2heroes.com/videos/profiles/about-amber-wilkins.



Visit www.how2heroes.com and enjoy many dishes accompanied by full recipes and videos of chef's and home cooks making delicious meals.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mocktail Cocktail Time!


If you know me - you know I love a yummy cocktail. In fact we collect vintage cocktail shakers, and are constantly thumbing through vintage books and looking for wicked way to make delicious concoctions. However those yummy drinks come with a price - a high calorie - easy to gain - price.

During the holiday season, it can be easy to avoid an extra dessert, or a second helping of mashed potatoes, but what about an extra glass of wine or champagne? Instead of giving up your glass and feeling like an outcast, I propose you mix in a mocktail, between your cocktails. You will still feel very much a part of the party, yet you'll consume half the calories and less guilt, and avoid a hang-over!

Mocktails-
1. Mocktini – Add 3 ounces of diet tonic water, 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice and 1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice to a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass. PP Count: 0, Calories (virtually 0!)

2. Coconut Cooler – In a cocktail shaker add 4 fl oz of organic light coconut milk and 4 fl oz of fresh lime juice and shake well. Pour into a glass with ice and top off with sparkling water. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Calorie Count: 122 calories. PP Count: 1

3. Cape Cod – Combine 8 fl oz of 100% organic cranberry juice and 4 fl oz fresh lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a tall glass and garnish with a slice of lime. Calorie Count: 112 calories. PP Count: 1

4. The Caribbean – In a blender add 1/4 banana, 1/4 mango, the juice of an orange and a squeeze of lime. Blend well and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Calorie Count: 170 calories. PP Count: 2

5. Pomegranate Princess – In a cocktail shaker add 2 fl oz pomegranate juice, 2 ½ fl oz grapefruit juice, 1 fl oz freshly squeezed lime juice, and 1 tbsp honey (dissolved in a little hot water). Shake well and garnish with mint sprigs. Calorie Count: 163 calories. PP Count: 2

6. Grape Juice Mimosa – Fill half a champagne flute with freshly squeezed orange juice and top with sparkling white grape juice. Calorie Count: approximately 130 calories.  PP Count: 1

7. Sparkling Mango – Pour 2 fl oz of high quality 100% mango juice into a champagne flute and top off with diet tonic water. Garnish with a slice of mango. Calorie Count: 37 calories. PP Count: 0

8. Mock Champagne - 2 (2 liter) bottles ginger ale, chilled, 1 (46 fluid ounce) can pineapple juice, chilled, 1 (64 fluid ounce) bottle white grape juice, chilled. To make Ice ring: Fill a ring-shaped cake pan to 1/2 with ginger ale. Freeze until partially frozen. At this stage you can place edible flowers, or pieces of fruit around the ring. Fill pan with ginger ale and freeze until solid. Place in punch bowl just before serving.In a large punch bowl, combine 1 bottle ginger ale, pineapple juice and white grape juice.

9. Cherry Fizz - 1/2 cup frozen cherry juice concentrate, thawed. 1/2 cup ginger ale. Place cherry concentrate in a glass. Slowly stir in ginger ale.

10. Citrus Mint Cooler - 1 cup fresh lemon juice. 1 cup fresh orange juice. 2 cups sugar. 2 1/2 cups water. 10 sprigs mint. 32 fluid ounces ginger ale. water. Place first five ingredients in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover; remove from heat and let steep until cool. Strain. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, fill glasses or a pitcher with equal amounts of fruit juice, ginger ale and water. Add ice and serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Points Plus 2012!

Its been awhile, but i'm working up a storm on new recipes and weigh-in updates. So far i've lost a total of 38lbs and counting and I can't believe how close i am to hitting the big 40. That being said - this has been a slow and un easy road. Perfect timing for the New Points Plus 2012!

Unlike last year when, around the time that i joined, ww is not doing a complete re-haul of their program. Rather, they are making mind or "tweaks" to the program for people like me to be more successful!

Lowering My Own Points: For the last few months I have been creeping very slowly down the weight loss road, and have found myself a little frustrated with the rate at which i'm loosing. The New Points Plus 2012 program is designed to help me control my own points. Now I can lower them weekly, and really put a focus on eating more Points Plus Foods. Also, having control over my own points means that I no longer will have the 2 week learning curve of trying to figure out how to adjust to my new lower points target. Now I have more control, which leaves me feeling like lowering or raising my points is up to me, and not up to the WW points gods.

Jump Starting Your Program: The New PP 2012 plan also gives new and old members a chance to "jump start" yourself into the new plan. This week we talked about managing our environment, and how to make smarter choices, by controlling (yourself) in the environments your in. For me my biggest challenge is going out to eat, and making smart choices. One thing I will strive to do this week, is manage the amount of cocktails or wine I have when i go to restaurants, by watching the amount of water i'm intaking and maybe changing my drinks out with a few "mock-tails" in between, so I can still feel like i'm part of the bar/party but i'm drinking less and taking on less points.

They also outfitted us with a new tracker that made suggestions on meals to eat for the week. While I primarily track everything via their website and apps, I think this recipe suggestion book will come in handy when i'm looking for something to eat thats low points and satisfying.

Everyone's Getting More Active: Now to accelerate weight loss and get everyone moving, WW is putting a weekly 15 activity points a week target into their program. Since I clear this target a few fold a week (i'm usually between in the 30's-80's in activity points) this part of the program for me is a no brainer. I actually think it will help me, stay on target and push myself further. Weight watchers gives some great tips on Everyday ways to get moving here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

An Amazing Work Out Mix - for FREE !


I recently stumbled upon this wonderful workout mix by Girl Talk. You can download it for free!  This covers an incredible amount of genres with new and old school tracks. Definitely a great mix to rock-out to when your at the gym or running!


illegal-art.net/allday/

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When life gives you Apples....Make an Apple Tart!

Apple Tarts
Tarts aren’t typically considered “healthy” foods, but with a few alterations in the ingredients, it is possible to have delicious cinnamon-apple warm tart-lets that give you sustained energy and keep you feeling full and satisfied.

This past weekend I spent a quintessential New England afternoon going apple picking with my lovely fiance. Needless to say we picked about 20lbs of apples and I needed a healthy recipe to use some of the "fruits" of our labors.
 


3/4 Cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp of sugar
1/4 tsp of salt
3 Tbsp of reduced - calorie margerine, (i used i cant belive its not butter)
2 Tbsp of Sugar
1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
3-4 small apples

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Mix flour with 1/4 teaspoon sugar and salt.
  • Cut margarine into flour mixture with a fork until flour is the consistency of cornmeal. Mix with 2 or 3 tablespoons cold water until dough forms a ball (a little drier is better than a little sticky). You can make the dough up to 24 hours ahead of times if you wrap it securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until you need it.
  • Divide dough into four pieces. Roll each into a ball and then flatten into a disc about 5 inches (13 cm) across. Place the discs on a baking sheet a few inches apart.
  • Combine remaining sugar with cinnamon.
  • Arrange apple slices on top of dough discs, overlapping and fanning them (so they make a flower shape). Sprinkle generous amounts of sugar-cinnamon mixture over them.
  • Bake until crust is browned, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


WW: 6 PP per tartlet (AND you get to eat the whole thing!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When Going "Extreme" - Does'nt Result In a Loss


This week I made it a goal to "go extreme" and go by the book. After 2 weeks and a total of 5lbs in losses I thought to myself - "what you have been doing is working but, lets really kick this up a notch and see how far we can really take this".

So I set out to work out and eat right. I worked out 5 days last week for - 60-80 min- of high impact cardio and managed to gather and extra 70 activity points! While I had one 'fun' night of going out and dancing (and drinking), I managed to eat really well this week too. I ate either vegetarian, or chicken or fish - and left wine out of my vocabulary for the week ( a tough one for me) and managed to stay around 5-10 points under my allotment everyday. By my weigh-in date, my clothes where fitting looser and I was confident I would see big results on the scale.

While I was telling my leader about my fabulous week of "activity" and doing the "weight watchers take off your shoes" dance, I was gleefully boasting about my week of progress. My leader had a nervous look on her face and asked if I had been eating enough to maintain my workouts - she did not share my gleeful tone - instead she looked worried. Sure enough I managed to gain 2lbs - and my leader knew I would gain before I even stepped on the scale.

So What Happend?

I expected her to mention that I had put on muscle, and give me a bunch of mumbo jumbo about measurements going down and concentrating on that. Instead, she got real with me. She mentioned that I need to eat at least half my activity points if I am going to work out that hard. A two week loss and then a sudden extreme uptake in workouts and down take in food threw my body into "starvation mode" she mentioned that while this weight gain is partially about muscle gain, but she also suspected that my body when into retention mode.

You have to think of your metabolism like a furnace -- if you don't keep fuel in the furnace, the fire will die down and go out. when you don't eat enough, your metabolisum goes into "save" mode. Human bodies are designed this way, to withstand and survive starvation conditions. Feeling hungry may mean you are in this kind of counter-productive metabolic state.

While exercise is an essential part of maintaining long-term weight control, there is in fact such a thing as doing too much exercise, or exercising too intensely. Exercise is hormonally depleting, If exercise is experienced as stressful, this can stress the adrenal glands. Adrenal glands make cortisol in response to stress. When there is too much cortisol release, the body goes into the "save" mode I mentioned earlier, and will retain weight, especially around the midsection. (you can read more about this here)

My Reaction

Instead of being able to take this news in stride I burst into tears. Like - water POURING out of your eyes and not being able to control it! Thats right, I cried at a weight watchers meeting - and while my pride was a little shaky, she and my fellow members took this experience and made it the majority of the meeting topic. Having a forum to talk about this and also realize I wasn't the only one to have a week like this (there we 2 other people in the room with very similar experiences this week), and most members in the room could relate or had the exact same expereince. Almost everyone in the room participated, which made me realize I'm not alone in this at all. Infact everyone can have a week like this, what is important is we learned the NEXT steps to make a change without being detoured from the A++ we we had with working out and tracking.

So Now What?

What surprised me most about my meeting this week was my leader said THIS week would be one of my most challenging. Really its not about my body doing the right thing, its going to be about my head doing the right thing. These are the weeks where people give up because all of the mental and physical motivation I had this previous week which week gave me an opposite result.

I plan on adding in a little afternoon snack on days that I work out intensely. On these days especially I plan to be sure to intake at least all of my daily calories to make sure I dont create a deficit. I think that adding in a smart point plus snack throughout my day will really help keep my metabolic furnace burning.

I'm not going to let this snap my motivation out of me - I deserve to loose weight, and i'm going to keep working hard to get to my goals.

Which brought me to this last thought. This is exactly why I started this blog, so I could share these experiences with others and look back on hard weeks like this and reflect on what hasn't been working. All of my life, my mentality was to loose weight all you have to do is eat right and work out more and watch the pounds melt away. So naturally taking that idea to the extreme should result in faster weight-loss - right? Wrong! The real trick to loosing weight is to find balance. While I don't want to decrease my workouts (i'm having a blast doing zumba) maybe instead of going under points so often i'll try to actually enjoy a little of that hard work that I worked so hard to give myself.

Update- Oct 26th
After working hard and eating right, I weighed in this week, and low and behold I lost a whopping 4lbs! Not giving up and keeping my head in the game really paid off. I'm so glad i stuck with it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why am I Here?



This week’s meeting was about controlling your environment.  This one is not difficult for me.  I have a husband who eats healthy also and neither of us can have junk food in the house or we eat it.  That makes it easy for both of us.  We just don’t bring it in the house.

But I was asked this week - Why are you here at weight watchers - and i had to think WHY - besides looking great in a wedding dress am i here -

So like all things in life that are meant to be remembered i wrote down my reasons - here are my top 10!

Here are my reasons:

To look AMAZING in my wedding dress
To be proud of myself
To be a great role model to my friends and family
To go shopping with out reservation of size
To have control over myself and the scale
To be an inspiration to others
No more tired, painful, knees, feet, back, and ankles
To FEEL sexy (and look it too!)
To have energy ALL DAY LONG
To FINISH WHAT I STARTED!!!
To be able to work out in a sports bra
To Learn how to eat healthy and make it a habit!
To FINISH WHAT I STARTED!!!

The list could go on and on and on.  These are just my top reasons why I started Weight Watcher.  The biggest reason part of writing this down is to not re-gain all of the weight i have lost. All of the things listed above I deserve to have, and while shoveling food in my face might feel good for a moment - i am finding that it feels BETTER to finish what i started and keep the weight off!

This week, in order to be successful, I need action plans.  Here they are:

Count every single thing I put in my mouth
Stay within my daily points plus target
Exercise at least three times this week
Drink at least 80 ounces of water every day

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why I LOVE Zumba


It’s no secret that I absolutely love to dance! I’d say it’s my favorite thing besides family and friends. Zumba is a way for me to dance every day and share the party with friends and new people. I LOVE a fitness class, or any fitness program for that matter, where I enjoy the process, not just the product.  Zumba® provides this for me – it is an outlet for my energy, my stress and my creativity. And when I leave class, I feel uplifted and energized. For the past 2 weeks have done a Zumba class at lease 2-4 times a week and I have lost a wooping 5lbs!!! The best part is - i cant WAIT to get back to class.

But i'm not "coordinated" enough for Zumba. Many people shy away from Zumba because they are worried about needing to be coordinated. You DON’T need to be coordinated, just have a sense of humor. The nice thing about Zumba® is that it doesn’t require a lot of technical dance skill, just a desire to learn and willingness to try.  Zumba® songs have repeating phrases – usually a verse, a chorus and maybe a bridge or two. Also, dances repeat themselves – for instance, in one class you may do multiple Merengue, Cumbia, Salsa and Reggaeton dances. The moves transfer from one dance to another so things start to look familiar. Don’t worry when you come to class – we all know it takes several before you feel like you are getting the hang of it. Just have fun and remember that people aren’t watching you – they are all too worried about getting the steps and having fun themselves.

So how does one find a Zumba® class? The company has made this easy – log on to www.zumba.com and click on “Find a Class.” Type in your zip code and up pops the classes in your area. You can usually click on the instructor’s name or the studio/facility name to find more information about the classes. Usually the address and phone number of the facility are listed so you can give them a call.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Unexpected Filling Foods to Curb your Appetite


When trying to lose weight, it can be the approach of many friends who give advice to simply - "stop eating so much". Of course this is so much easier said then done, and while eating less is exactly what we are doing in practice, everyday has its own unique challenges. These are some unexpected foods that be added to any meal to help curb your appetite with low calories and big satisfaction.

Cinnamon – A Scandinavian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when volunteers were given rice pudding with three grams of cinnamon, they produced less insulin after the meal.Because insulin is the hormone that turns excess sugar into fat, this means less weight gain. As well as lowering blood sugar levels cinnamon may slow down the emptying of the stomach, meaning it can make you feel fuller for longer. Also cinnamon can dull the sweet receptors in your mouth, curbing the craving for sweets (think cinnamon gum!)

TIP: Sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon daily over cereals, yoghurt or fruit, use to season puddings or even stir into coffee. It is especially effective if consumed directly after meals

Mint – Yes, mint does wonders to keep my cravings under control as its strong scent is a natural appetite suppressant. I keep a mint scented candle, and mints in my purse, and office. Not only does it keep the house and me smelling good, I am less likely to give into late night snacking temptations. Other simple ideas are to sip mint tea, chew sugar-free mint gum, or simply brush your teeth.

Nuts – A small handful of nuts as a snack can help you feel full and consume less during regular meals. The key here is variety and low sodium. Also nuts are a great salt craving alternative, rather then grabbing those potato chips, nuts will make you feel fuller longer.

Vinegar – Add it to you food to make you feel fuller. The reason is acetic acid in the vinegar may slow the passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine, so your stomach stays full longer. Using a vinegar - vinaigrette on the side of a salad and dipping your fork in and out of it while eating salad will slow the consumption of food and make you feel fuller faster. This is a great tip when going out to dinner. Order a small side salad as an appetizer and dip away. You will feel fuller for your upcoming meal.

Eggs - full of protein and will help you feel fuller longer. Research has shown that protein may help prevent spikes in blood sugar, which can lead to food cravings. Besides being a high protein food, they are also super versatile. You can scramble, bake, boil, broil and so much more - so no excuses for getting "bored" of this staple.

Grapefruit – The fruit’s phytochemicals reduce insulin levels, a process that may force your body to convert calories into energy rather than flab. Fruits that are rich in soluble fiber, such as grapefruits, have a low glycemic index. Grapefruits are digested slowly and cause a gradual rise and subsequent gradual decrease in your blood sugar, allowing you to feel full longer. Additionally, the soluble fiber is not broken down in your digestive tract and likely contributes to the sensation of fullness. Consuming these fruits while they are fresh and uncooked will provide you with the highest nutrient value, as well as the highest amount of fiber.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beet Cake


beet cake from tiger in a jar on Vimeo.

A beautiful little video that is as pretty as it is informative. I'll have to try this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to pack for a Trip



There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination only to realize you don’t have the right clothes, or worse still, your clothes don’t go well together. You basically want to create a small yet versatile capsule wardrobe that will fit in your carry on.


Step 1: You want to know what type of clothes you'll need. so check the weather and the cultural expectations! You need more clothes for travel to colder destinations. Add jackets, tights, hats and boots as required. Its also useful to do a Google search and check whether your destination will be a place you can wear skimpier outfits or somewhere you should be covered up. There’s nothing worse than arriving somewhere and feeling like the unfortunate centre of attention. And its always a good idea to pack a light jacket for hyper air-conditioning on airplanes.


Step 2: Basics!! I always bring a pair of dark wash jeans (you can wear them to a casual dinner) a black or white t-shirt and a neutral cardigan. I'll also bring a comfortable black skirt as well as a versatile little black dress. Bring something comfortable to wear at night during hotel stays.


Step 3: Pick a Palette: No need to be in black and white the entire time - pick a color from your wardrobe and add pieces that compliment it. It will make your basics go far and add a splash of color to make you feel more put together. This includes a brightly colored scarf - shoes or accessories.


Step 4: Speaking of shoes: Rationalize them! Shoes are the most bulky part of your luggage and if you can restrict the number of shoes you take with you, life will be much easier. But you don’t want to feel like you lack shoes either – I usually take one pair of classic black patent heels (maybe a second pair if I am going somewhere dressy like New York or Paris), some pair of boots, a pair of comfortable shoes like sneakers or ballet flats sandals. 


Step 5: Accessorize: I usually take a few nice statement pieces of jewelry which I can throw on in the evening to feel a little bit more dressed up, such as a pair of tassel earrings or a gold coin necklace.  I also almost always take a bag with a long shoulder strap so it can be worn cross body, so I can relax when wandering around busy train stations and streets.


Extra Tips - Do a layout – when packing make sure to lay everything out on your bed so that you can visualize the outfits and how they will go together. 


Cosmetics and Beauty –  Go Sample size - I have a smaller cosmetic bag that contains smaller samples of makeup for vacation. I pack this in a clear sandwich bag for easy access to all of my items as well as a friendly airplane security bag.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hearty Minestrone Soup



Recently I had the most wonderful hearty, warm you from the inside out minestrone soup from the soup factory near boston. I went home and immediately took a spin at it. I love the large amount of protein, texture of the beans and the hint of spice I added for a little "pizzaz" This soup can be created vegetarian by swapping my chicken stock for vegetable. I truly believe this is a soup to use your imagination with, and its a great fridge produce emptier if you have a few veggies on their last leg. 

2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 large spanish onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs of celery, sliced
1 sweet potato sliced or cubed 
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
12 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 pound of fresh green beans (ends removed)
4 zucchini, diced into 1/2 inch chunks
1 can of garbanzo beans
1 can of black beans
1 cup of spinach
2 tablespoons of old bay seasoning
2 tablespoons of spicy paprika
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano
2 cups of uncooked shell pasta
Salt and Pepper to taste


Heat stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Saute for 10 minutes. Add the stock, seasoning, paprika, and oregano and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 12 minutes. Add the green beans, zucchini, and sweet potato. Simmer for an additional 7 minutes. Add the Garbanzo and Black beans, then add the spinach stir to wilt. Add in cooked pasta and enjoy!

Makes 14-16 servings
WW Points 4 Per serving.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I'm not going to let 3lbs ruin my goal!


After a few weeks of celebrating and an ill timed ankle injury. I found myself with a cocktail in one hand, a high calorie treat in the other - and no way to work out (my typical bike commute was out of the question).  During this time I went into Weight Watchers denial. I did'nt want to weigh myself, and I only tracked "part" of the time and pretrended all of my happy celebration indulgences did'nt count. I knew I couldn't work out, and should have been even more, reliable about my tracking and watching what I put in my mouth.

I forced myself to weigh-in this week, I knew I had gained and I wanted to at least be accountable for the number so I could do something about it. Rather then continuing to let the scale creep upwards in the wrong direction. After a three week hiatus from weighing in - I learned that sure enough I had put 3lbs on - thats 1lb a week! I know most of you may think, REALLY 1lb a week is'nt the end of the world! But in reality if i don't pay attention to these numbers now - that 1lb a week can turn into a steady gain for the few months - next thing you know BLAM - all 30lbs I worked so hard to take off are back on! I refuse to NOT be accountable for myself!

After throwing a pity party for myself for the remainder of wednesday, I decided to wake up Thursday and put some fresh perspective on this. I got myself out of bed - put a great outfit on - made to make me feel great about myself, and decided make a plan! Here it is.

The Plan

TRACK!- I have no excuses, i have 4 ways to track my points with WW. Computer, iPad, Smartphone, and just plain writing it down. This week I am getting my tracking in order. After all even though I might be lying to the "tracker" about what i've been eating, my body remembers, so there is no point in 'guessing' points - i should just write it down. 

WATER! - With my reduced workouts, with my leg injury, i for some reason decided to stop drinking the massive amount of water i was intaking before. Maybe i was bored, but it feels like i have LOST my mind for a few weeks and its time to get myself back. I'm drinking more water - no more excuses!!!

SHOP! - Recipe time! I'm looking for some fun new recipes, and i'm also looking to spoil my appetite on more then just fruit! I'm going to get my veggies involved.

PLAN! - These happy celebrations are just getting started. In Late August and through September I will be celebrating 3 birthdays (including my own), 1 Wedding, 1 PreWedding Celebration (my own), and my own Birthday Celebrations. All of these include BBQ's, Beer tastings, Wedding food, and Birthday food/Drinks. I plan to spoil my appetite with veggies and high fiber foods - then order some appetizers and again drink more water between cocktails. This way i feel like i'm still included, but my points plus target is'nt creeping out of control.



WORK OUT! - I really hurt myself last week - but I am eager to get back to a zumba class or onto my bike. Even if i have to take it a little slower then usual i'm determined to get at least 1 work out in this week.


INSPIRATION! - Back to my bloggy buddies, that have been through the same set backs as mine- http://www.itsuxtobefat.com/ is a favorite of mine, her post about Non-Scale summer victories! Really speaks to what i'm going through! and did she give up? NO!  I'm going to start looking for and posting and looking for some inspirational mantra's. Positive mantra for today! : Yesterday was a challenging day. I can make a fresh start.

Here are some great mantra's!

“Steady and slow, learn as you go. Lose too fast, it may not last.” — Louise F. *

“It matters not how slowly you go, only that you do not stop.” — Julia B. *

“No matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping the [person] sitting on the couch.” — Stephanie H. *

“I may no be where I want to be, but I’m better than where I was.” — Heather J. *

“You don’t drown from falling in the water, you only drown if you stay there.” — Barb L. *

“Success requires backbone, not wishbone.” —Debbie S.*

“If we defend our habits, we have no intentions of breaking them.” — Judy P. *

“Life has no remote…YOU have to get up and change it yourself!” — Tracy S. *

“The weight didn’t arrive from the Fat Fairy last night, and the Skinny Fairy isn’t coming tonight, either.” — Miscelena1.**

“Instead of a plate, reach for your mate!” — Frank E. *

“What you eat in private shows up in public!” — NicoleJuner1 **

“I’ve come too far to take orders from a cookie.” — Gina L. *

“If you kinda do it, it kinda works. If you really do it, it really works.” — Andrea G., Carol T. *

“If you’re driving and you get a flat tire, do you get out of the car and slash the other three? No, you fix it and get back on the road.” — Tanya S. *

“The scale is a weight loss tool – not a judge, jury and executioner.” — Brenda T. *

“Keep tracking, stop slacking!” — Holly L. *


Time to get Started!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Girls in White Dresses



Just Started: Girls in White Dresses, by Jennifer Close. I'm currently about  to attend  7 weddings from July 4th 2011, ending with my own in Sept. 2012. I need a break from "skinny reading" and based on this review -"Wickedly hilarious and utterly recognizable, Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love—all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers." This book sounded like just the ticket to give me a little comic relief from the large array of happy celebrations, i'm about to attend. 

Just Finished: Girls in White Dresses is breezier book than most, a light chronicle of a group of recent Boston College grads whose ambitions seem to hinge largely on finding a decent guy and a doorman building without a rodent problem. If the stakes seem low, they are. And too often the characters are indistinguishable from one another; they all tend to say sitcom-witty things like ''I've been out to eat with boys that were my boyfriend, but that's not dating. That's just parallel eating.'' I found this extremely trite.

The friendships between several of the characters sounded true to life...sarcastic but loving, snarky but truthful...and that was good to read. It is the way a lot of women actually relate to their good friends. However, the book just drug on and on and on.... I kept waiting for something really exciting to happen but it never did.  I would not go out of my way to read this one, but if you need a little mindless reading for a few hours go for this one.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter


You should probably know by now that I LOVE peanut butter.  I love the creaminess. I love how it sticks to the roof of my mouth, and I love that you can eat it on a variety of 0Points Plus foods! My love for PB isn’t the most figure-friendly addiction. Yes, it contains "healthy" fat from nuts, but it also packs quite bit of calories, so naturally, when i heard about PB2, I was intrigued...

Peanut butter that has substantially less fat calories than traditional PB? Awesome. Stats from the website. PB2 is made with premium quality peanuts that are slow-roasted to our specifications and pressed to remove the fat. All natural with no artificial sweeteners or preservatives. Same consistency as full-fat peanut butter with all of the roasted peanut flavor, but with more than 85% less fat calories.

Amount Per 2 Tablespoon Serving (*when mixed with water):
Calories 53.2
Calories from Fat 16.8
The stats:
  • Total Fat - 1.87 g
  • Saturated Fat - 0.34 g
  • Trans Fat - 0 g
  • Unsaturated Fat - 1.53 g
  • Cholesterol - 0 mg
  • Sodium - 77.6 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate - 3.4 g
  • Dietary Fiber - 0.48 g
  • Sugars - 1.66 g
  • Protein - 5.65 g
So how does it taste? Perfect! It's super smooth, the taste has all of the buttery salty-ness I have come to love from the original PB. You cannot tell that there is a difference in consistency, and I love mixing it in non-fat yogurt, and with non-fat milk. I also have the chocolate version, which could be more chocolate-y but it certainly keeps up with the peanut butter taste. I am going to have to try baking cookies, cakes or pancakes with this as I'm sure the consistency will make baking with PB way easier!

In conclusion: its a little hard to find (i ordered mine from Amazon) but i would definitely suggest it as a low calorie substitution for PB that doesn't leave you "missing" the original, higher calorie treat.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Getting back to "Track"


While I have had a pretty good week in terms of work outs and calorie intake. One thing that I would like to improve on this week is to get back to "tracking".

I have the WW tracker on my phone, as well as easy access to the program on computers but for some reason last week tracking my food intake was illusive. It really can't be easier for me to put something into my mouth and track it, but I found every excuse i could think of not to do so. This week, as a result I found that on the scale stayed the same.

Given that the United states as a whole, intakes more average daily calories per person then any other country in the world. (see my little graphic friend as reference).  Its a good idea for everyone to track a little closer what we are eating and at what time of day. Tracking makes you take accountability for your actions while also giving you a barometer of how to set up workouts or the amount of treats you can have during a week.

I've also found that the easier it is to track - in my case - tracking online is key. The less excuse prone I can be, and the less "guess" work I do. Having a journal in one place that i can go back and reference recipes and food tools, lets me visually see and graph how calorie intake effects my weight-loss or gain. I'm hoping that this week getting back to "track" will give me great results on the scale!

Besides the WW tracker i have found a few other free alternatives to help track.
FitBit - http://www.fitbit.com/
LiveStrong- http://www.livestrong.com/thedailyplate/
FoodSpotting - http://www.foodspotting.com/

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Grape Tomato and Bacon Sauce


The best thing about this Tomato dish is its easy to freeze and a yummy treat to pour over any pasta. Its also quick and easy to make and can be made with out Bacon for a vegetarian version.

2lbs of Grape tomatoes
2 stocks (leaves on) of rosemary
3-4 Cloves of Garlic
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 peices of thick cut bacon
salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with foil. Toss grape tomatoes in olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and place on baking sheet. Let tomatoes roast for 20 mins till skins are wrinkled. Turn oven off and turn broiler on high. Add bacon to the top of tomatoes and Broil until bacon is crispy.

Take out of oven and take the bacon out and drain fat from tomatoes. Place in a bowl and "smoosh" the tomatoes to make a sauce.

Roasted Zucchini & Mushroom Rissotto



1 cup of Rissotto rice (Arborio Rice)
2 1/2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup of dry white wine
2 large Zucchinis sliced vertically
3-4 Cloves of Garlic
3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of fresh basil (leaves only then sliced)
1 1/2 of Sliced Mushroom
Squeeze of lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan

1. Heat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with foil. Halve the zucchini lengthwise and score the flesh in a crisscross pattern. Arrange cut side up on the sheet. season lightly and sprinkle over the garlic slices and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and squeeze over a little lemon juice. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the zucchini are soft. Let them cool slightly, then roughly chop the flesh.
2. For the risotto, bring the stock to a simmer in a pan. Heat another medium pan and add 1 tbsp olive oil. stir in the rice and cook, stirring, for a minute. Pour in the wine and let it bubble to reduce down until the pan is quite dry. Now add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring frequently. Let the rice absorb most of the stock in the pan before adding another ladleful.
3. When the rice is al dente, stir in the chopped zucchini and turn off the heat. Let the risotto stand for a few minutes.
4. Divide the risotto among warm plates and sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan.

Thai Veggie Spring Rolls

An easy - no cooking required- best thing you'll want to eat on a hot summer day snack.



1/2 a cup of Carrots, Celery, Sprouts, Onion, Zucchini.
1 Large jalapeño Pepper (thinly sliced), and
1 stock of Mint
10-15 Rice Paper Wraps (12 inch variety)

This is one of my favorite ways to clean out an array of items from my produce drawer, and its a quick easy guilt free snack, that can be served with a little bit of soy sauce or honey on the side.
Everything needs to be shredded into equal sizes. I keep the jalapeño slices separately so i can "build" each wrap with a desired heat. Once you have everything shredded and mixed together in a bowl. Dip the rice paper into a large bowl of luke warm water, once its de-solved and a little bit tacky place it on a plastic cutting board. You have to do each of these one at a time or you will have a big glob of rice paper in your hands.  Begin to "stack" your wrap with a small handful of your shredded mixture adding a mint leaf and a jalapeño slice to each wrap. Fold in each corner and roll. Then place open side down onto a clean plate. Continue until all of you wraps are finished.  Enjoy!

Mediterranean Buckwheat Salad


1 cup of large grain buckwheat
1 tablespoon of cilantro
1 tablespoon of mint
1 cup of sliced grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
3 tablespoon of lemon juice (or juice of one large lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons of feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Place buckwheat into a medium sized pot and cover with water (so its about 1/2 inch over the buckwheat in the bottom of the pan - about a cup and a half). Cook until buckwheat is soft and fluffy, then set aside to cool. Once buckwheat has cooled, add in sliced tomatoes, cilantro, mint, salt and pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, white wine vinegar. Mix throughly and taste for seasoning. Once this is complete add in feta cheese and stir-thoroughly so it is crumbled and mixed into buckwheat salad.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Skinnygirl Rules



Just Finished: The Skinnygirl Rules: For Getting and Staying Naturally Thin - By Bethenny Frankel. I found Bethanny's perspective a refreshing treat to Skinny Bitch - By Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. She makes fantastic points of stopping the constant craziness of yoyo dieting and making yourself feel guilty for food blunders. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone looking for a healthy "mentally" friendly book. I think Bethany does a great job of identifying food issues we all mentally struggle with and making realistic healthy attainable goals that stop you from the same old yo yo cycle of unhealthy eating!


Great take-away advice from this book - Portion your food! 
The skinny-girl rules does a great job of suggesting ways to portion you food. This has been my number 1 take away from this book. Putting food that i LOVE like ice cream or french fries into a small salad bowl or ramekin make eating less guilty but also more track-able! Her advice lead me to find 


Another great take away - You can eat anything - just not all at once.
Bethanny reinforces her no-dieting perspective to food by saying that we are all adults and responsible for what we put into our own mouths (what a concept!) No longer can you blame, anyone or situation to make you over eat or indulge in your favorite foods. Its about taking responsibility for yourself and listening to your inner food voice.


The Hardest Part - Listening to your inner food voice! I stopped listening to my inner food voice a long time ago. I believe its barley a whisper these days. I have to admit I'm terrible at - concentrating on eating when i'm eating. I love to concentrate on what i'm ABOUT to eat when i'm cooking, which I noticed also means that I load my plate with extra food because i'm hungry (my eyes are bigger then my stomach) - then i sit in front of the tv or computer and wolf it all down-  next thing you know that large portion is gone! I want to start concentrating on what i'm eating and sharing conversations with my fiance. I think this is another great way to build our relationship and both get on a track to listening to our inner "food voices".


Just read: Skinny Bitch: By Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin  |   Read My Thoughts

The-No-Excuse-NOT to bring a healthy and tasty lunch to work container.


I love riding my bike to work! It makes me feel fit and healthy - and it gives me a way to build activity points during 2 parts of my day; first thing in the morning and last thing in the afternoon. I no longer feel guilty if i did'nt make it to the gym and i'm decreasing my carbon footprint (and increasing my sanity!)

One of the biggest problems I have had with riding my bike to work is finding a leak proof container that I feel confident enough in to bring my lunch to work. I know that packing yummy, healthy and different lunch options for myself will not only help me save money - but it will put me in greater control over portion sizes. With a large array of delicious restaurant choices for lunch, right out outside our doorstep. Bringing string cheese, pre-packed lunch meat and a piece of fruit to work just wasn't cutting it.

Enter Ziploc Twist' n Loc containers!

Now when I cook up a storm (like I did this past weekend) I go ahead and pre-portion my meals, so in the morning its a matter of opening the fridge and tossing (literally tossing) healthy lunch choices into my bag. The best part about these twist and lock containers is the tops TWIST on. Meaning no matter how many speed bumps or random maneuvers I make, my food stays put. I bought the smaller containers so i can keep my food to around 1 cup and a half (the small ones hold 1 pint or 16fl oz).  Also since i'm not always the biggest fan of eating the "night before" left overs this twist and seal allows me to throw (again literally throw) my dinner left overs into the freezer for another day so i'm not eating the same thing back to back.  Its brilliant!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Beggar's Purse


After a trip to the farmers market, I came home with a bounty of fresh veggies and fruits, that promptly filled our fridge. Solution: Beggar's Purse. I have to say this was one of the most delicious dishes I have ever created and for 10 points plus per purse its a lovely splurge that wont take you away from your weight loss goals! My version below is not vegetarian, but you could save some points and some calories by leaving the bacon out!

Ingredients Serves:6
2 packages reduced fat crescent rolls (6 rolls)
1 cup of finely chopped carrots
1 cup of finely chopped potatoes
1 cup of finely chopped (mini) Japanese eggplant
1 cup of finely chopped onions
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of finely chopped leeks
1/4 cup of finely chopped
3 tbsp of I can't believe its not butter (in a stick)
2 Sprigs of French Thyme (about two tsp)
Salt & Pepper to taste.
2 Slices of Bacon (cooked extra crisp and crumbled)
1/4 of grated Parmesan cheese

Tools:
Baking Sheet, Sauté Pan

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 Degrees.

Add carrots, potatoes, eggplant, french thyme (leave the leaves on stem) and butter (ICBINB) to a sauté pan and cook on medium heat until soft. Remove carrot mixture from pan - Then add onions and garlic, until soft then remove from heat and mix with carrot mixture, remove thyme sprigs and add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover a Baking Sheet, with aluminum foil and spray with a little non-stick cooking spray. Open package of reduced fat crescent rolls. Marry together 2 triangles to make a rectangle by pinching the lines together and pounding to make a smooth line. Place about a tablespoon of the carrot mixture into the center of the dough, then add a little bit of the crumbled bacon to the top,  then "wrap" to make the purse. Add a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese to the top and continue until all 'rectangles' are complete and placed on the baking sheet.

Place purses into oven for 15 min until golden brown and crisp. Let cool and enjoy!

Weight Watchers Points Plus Value : 10 per purse

Friday, July 29, 2011

Find Activities & Share with Others

Finding activities that don't revolve around food! Ultimately I want to be more active, but my social butterfly sense seems to flourish in foodie environments.

Solution: Get out and play!

The Plan:

Plan #1: Going for a Bike Ride & Bringing the Family.
This weekend i'm going to take advantage of the nice weather (and our new bikes) and try a biking trail with the fiance. We are searching blogs and checking out trails, then packing the bikes onto the car and seeing some new sights!


A shot from our local bike riding trip. We had a great time and wound up riding around 10miles!

Plan #2: Sign up for Something New
I'm lucky enough to have a fiance that likes to dance! So, we are signing up for ballroom dancing lessons. Not only will it be fun to try something new, but this may give us an opportunity to show off some moves at some upcoming weddings we are attending.

Plan #3: Get Inspired by Great Food.
We decided to explore a local farmers markets as well as a local barbeque joint. This inspired a left over pizza that rocked our world, while keeping me on track on WW points!


Farmers market fruits, which we did purchase. A photo of me feeling "skinny" and the pretty mini deserts I avoided because of it.
Eat, Drink and being merry. We checked out this local watering hole and enjoyed specialty local beers along with ribs. We didn't finish them but they inspired an amazing white pizza (recipe to come!)


I'm most excited about these three challenges because it will be another way for my fiance and myself to be active, bond,  and have fun together.  Ultimately, this is not only for better health, but to set a prescient for our marriage. Building a foundation for activities we enjoy together will keep the fire roaring for each other for years to come!


Skinny Bitch



Skinny Bitch - by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin


I'm currently wrapping up the book Skinny Bitch, that promises to tell the truth about dieting, the food and drug industry and everything you didn't want to know about the FDA. Some take-aways I have found with this book.


I agree its important to slow down, rest between bites, and drink water, and know what your eating, and be prepared. This call to arms for thoughtful eating against blind consumerism. Opening your diet to better, more veggie and fruit based foods are hyper beneficial. 
These authors bring up many great points about nutrition, trusting food companies, and making balanced choices to get nutrients from foods that you will stop eating on this diet. Just like they advocate, I believe you can trust-no-one and need to make decisions for yourself.


I disagree that you can hold onto this diet for the rest of your life. I believe that part of living the happy part of this life has to be about more then just being skinny, but also enjoying the amazing array of great foods we have available to us. One take-away from this book will be to really decide if these which foods are "worth it". I will also say I believe and agree that food is medicine, but part of this medicine is "balance" - after all, just becoming a vegan doesn't make you. They also advocate, not eating breakfast until your really hungry, yet also advocate working out in the morning. This seems incredible destructive to muscle building and a good way injure yourself.

In the beginning of the book, the authors encourage you to drink more water, work out more (especially in the morning) and loose self loathing to become a healthier happier person from the inside out. Then the book proceeds to tell you not to eat breakfast in the morning, and if you are going to - eat - eat a piece of fruit, and see how it sustains you for the rest of your day. Then slowly they begin to preach becoming a vegan - then suddenly they pounce, and the entire book becomes a bible for non meat eaters.  If i didn't feel like this was a "sneak attack" to a vegan lifestyle i might have been more open to what they where saying. Rather then being forth wright about their intentions they took a stand and preached

Ultimately: I bought the book loving this message -- "If you can't take one more day of self-loathing, you're ready to hear the truth: You cannot keep shoveling the same crap into your mouth every day and expect to lose weight." However I feel like I was surprised preached into veganisum and the book never took into account that all meat is not raised in unhealthy, unhappy circumstances. What about making smart, eco-sensitive consumer choices? I would have found their point of view more convincing - if veganisum was presented as a "choice" rather then "the decision".

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Salpicón Summer Cocktail


A delish Colombian non-alcoholic, summer beverage that you serve with a spoon! I made some for a hot summer afternoon, and it was thirst quenching. Low in points plus and a huge hit! This makes a large amount and would fill a large punch bowl; great for back yard parties. Although it's usually made with champagne kola, I made this with Soda water instead and thought it tasted just as good. You could really use any sparkling soda you desire, we even played with adding a little vodka or clear tequila to make it a more adult cocktail.

As for the fruit, don't skip the watermelon and fresh pineapple, because they give you the juice, but as far as other fruits like mangos, peaches, or blueberries - have fun and make what you can with what you have in season!

  • 1 1/2 cups diced banana 
  • 1 1/2 cups diced papaya 
  • 1 1/2 cups diced apples 
  • 1 1/2 cups diced strawberries 
  • 1 1/2 cups diced watermelon 
  • 1 1/2 cups diced orange 
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fresh pineapple 
  • 1 1/2 cups grapes (red and green) 
  • 1 1/2 cups diced kiwi 6 1/2 cups Sprite Zero or Soda Water (Tonic is Yummy To!) (for an "adult" version - add 1 1/2 cups of Vodka or Clear Tequila (we like Milagro for this one) ultimately it is better if you added it in per drink - rather then inside the entire Salpicón.
Weight watchers Points Plus Value : 2 (with 4oz of Vodka or Tequila 5)

Directions: Dice all fruit to equal size 1/2 inch pieces. Refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve combine with sparkling soda and place in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Ladle into cups and serve with a spoon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

30lbs Thinner

I've reached my goal of the week -  2.5lbs which puts my total weight loss at 30lbs!! I am thrilled to see my hard work paying off, yet at the same time i'm slightly terrified. Something goes off in my brain once i've reached a special milestone, that all of my hard work has paid off - therefore I deserve an extra "treat", really I am the maker of my own self sabotage.  Part of why i've started this blog is to put goals in writing and stick to them. 



This week I will be  concentrating on continuing to drink more water and incorporating activity into my social life.   I'm determined to make a change in my health and its time to carry this over into my social circles. I think this will will be a great way to make a new connection with friends that's not over food, and ultimately aid me in my quest for weight loss success!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Finding Balance

Here is the problem with "diets" you spend your days eating strictly, writing everything down and working out for every bead of sweat and calorie burned. You give up everything you love in order to loose weight because your not "allowed" to eat certain foods. You basque in the glory of compliments from friends, you feel a sense of accomplishment, and go shopping for new "skinny" jeans. This goes on for weeks, months or maybe even years (if your lucky) and then one day something SNAPS! You may be on vacation, or have hit that special number you where striving for but next thing you know your brain has shut off and filled it's body full of every fat, salt, sweet, giant portion of food that you have been denying yourself for months. Then a vicious cycle mind game starts, and you say to yourself- "well I already went overboard yesterday - might as well do it again today". I'm not perfect, and find myself in this conundrum more then i would like to admit, but being aware can make a huge difference and get you back on track.

Don't Deny It-
You like cream in your coffee every morning? Go for it! You enjoy french fries on occasion? Eat them! Having a chocolate and or ice cream craving? - Indulge! The trick here is you don't have to give up everything you love, just adjust! I learn everyday that finding a different way to fulfill your cravings or find balance in the amount that your eating. Gives you everything you want in terms of flavor, just a few less calories. But lets be honest - i'm not a Saint - if i am having a craving for ice cream - i'm going for it!

Know your triggers -
This actually has nothing to do with food. In my case a trigger is a Friday. TGIF - Uh oh! Its one of the happiest days of the week, but its also a slippery slope to cocktails, going out to dinner and merry-making with good friends. It also seems to a day where you want to "treat" yourself for being so good during the week, the ultimate excuse to have a black out - eat everything in site evening. A few things I find help : 1.Find a restaurant that gives you healthy alternatives, or make requests like salad without dressing to curb your going out cravings. 2. Avoid beer & wine - and if you can't - have a light beer. Better yet, have a light cocktail. Basically remember - Fresh Juice, and Clear booze, add soda water - LOOSE the straw! You will cut calories, and have less drinks, and slow down to enjoy yourself.

Get back in the saddle-
Get back into your workout routine. If that means adding it into your weekends or getting back in the (in my case) bike saddle. Do what it takes to find a balance with indulgence and fitness.

Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps


My fiance and I had a craving for something messy and refreshing on a hot summer day. Solution Lettuce wraps! A few minor tweaks to an old recipe and we had a healthy fast alternative to an Asian inspired favorite. This recipe is quick, great for a week night and it gave us a few left overs for lunch the next day.

4-6oz of grilled chicken breast, chopped into small cubes
1/2 cup of bean sprouts
1/2 cup of leeks
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of Simply Asia Tsao Stir-Fry Sauce
1 head of cabbage (for leaves)
5 sprays Spray olive oil

In a wok or frying pan. Spray your pan with a little bit of spray olive oil. Add chopped leeks, and garlic stir until soft. Add beans sprouts and chopped grilled chicken, as soon as everything is warm add in 3 table spoons of Simply Asia Tsao Stir-Fry Sauce and mix thoroughly. Add mixture to a bowl. Pull your cabbage apart. Assemble, your lettuce wraps and enjoy!

Serves: 4
Weight watchers Points : 3 per serving

Loving My Fruits & Veggies

Summer time is full of fresh fruit, farmers markets and veggies. On the points plus plan veggies and fruits are free! I've been on a quest to discover a fresh batch of vegetarian delights, and while not all maybe the lowest calorie option, I am learning that eating vegetarian at least once or twice a day doesn't mean missing out on flavor or texture. It just gives me more options to cook and explore with!

Below are some of the wonderful meals I had.

Top: Grilled Peach Salad, Left - Veggetarian Burrito from Olecito, Right: Cut Strawberries for Lunch!


Top: Veggie Samosas, Left: Zucchini, Carrot, Summer Squash Slaw, Right: Summer Veggie Gaspacho

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More Water Please.



With this extreme heat wave, I can't help but work to be better hydrated. On top of my quest for thirst quenching deliciousness drinking; drinking water has lots of benifits. Clear skin, weight-loss, a clear knowledge of fullness (a great thing when you like to nibble on snacks when you think your hungry but in reality your really thirsty). My Goal of the week is to drink more water, especially in the presence of coffee or alcohol. For every coffee or cocktail, I need to drink at least one glass of water of equal or greater size, and with out these two vices i'm drinking at least 64oz of water a day.

However, i'm no saint. In reality the taste of water can really leave me wanting. So what to do in order to drink more? Here are my tricks -

Mio: It can be a little on the pricy side, but it also allows me to add as much or as little flavor I want, with out adding calories. Another trick I enjoy with mio - is to mix two flavors together and make my own. I find that changing up what i'm drinking really gets me drinking more water - and getting excited about it.

Add Ice: When its hot outside, what could be more refreshing then adding a healthy dose of ice to your water - seems obvious. But when its pushing 100 degree's - that ice goes fast. Besides burning more calories as your body adjusts the heat difference. The "race" to drink cold water before the ice melts can be a clever mind trick to get you drinking more.

Straws: I found that drinking out of a straw, motivates me to drink more water. I tend to pick up a few extra's when i'm grabbing an ice coffee or treating myself to a fountain soda. If i'm going to include these little decadences in my life - I might as well recycle my glass and drink at least the equal amount in water.

Suck it up: So its not always the sexiest, fun, and exhilarating part of my day but sometimes you just have to suck it up - and chug it down.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Lunch with Caprese


I work with a wonderful group of foodies, and today I was lucky enough to have someone bring in fresh and beautiful garden tomatoes - Idea!! Caprese sandwiches! (yum!) It is also a pretty point friendly lunch (10 points plus value). Eating like this reminded me you have to enjoy the summer season while its here!

When life gives you tomatoes -
make a Caprese Sandwich!

Ingredients:

2 slices of ciabatta bread
1 medium tomato - sliced
1 ball of mozzarella (of the fresh in water variety)
2 large leafs of fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
1 oz of prosciutto (optional)
salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions : Rub slices of Cibatta bread with olive oil and balsamic. Slice your mozzarella, tomatoes, along with basil, and prosciutto. Assemble your sandwich, and enjoy.

Points Plus Value: 10

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ya Gotta Start Somewhere

I've been eager to start a blog about food and my life journey. I've decided to "rock it" and get this story started. I'm inspired by so many wonderful things and needed a place to share my rants, foodie obsessions and weight loss journey.

This story begins with a 2011 - trite new years resolution to get healthy. I have to start with saying, this wasn't a goal to get my butt to the gym or learn healthier eating habits. I've always been active yet - I've always been heavy. I reached a new level when I gained "happy" weight after meeting my now fiance. Dinner and cocktails? Sure? How about some Dessert - Why not? Everything was a celebration, and my gym activity came to a screaming stop. After a few months I refused to get my butt on a scale and decided somewhere in my head that having everything I wanted in my life, meant giving up my health.

Facing the facts - New years 2011. I saw a picture of myself and knew something had to be done about my health - you can't gain happy fat forever, ya gotta get healthy too. It seemed serendipitous that right around that them Jennifer Hudson made her debut in the new Weight Watchers program. I was hooked and signed myself up promptly.

I'm a foodie- I love to cook - infact you could say i'm an unsuspected house frau. Its become an obsession that gets me audibly saying "Mmmm..." at farmers markets and buying 40lbs of produce. I've been inspired by lots of foodie blogs to create my own concoctions of healthy, crave-worthy, foods that are fast, easy, and rock.

30lbs down - and still going - In the beginning of my journey I was that go-getter chick at every meeting, weighing my food and logging everything I put in my mouth. Not much has changed, but I find more inspiration during the week then just my meetings. Every week i'm inspired by recipes, workouts, and friends yet still sometimes my excuse train take me off track. Its my intention to interact, read, find tips on things that work and go for it.

Its time to Rock-it!

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