Friday, April 20, 2012

2 weeks left

Okay, it's down to the final two weeks.  I've lost a total of 22.9 pounds so far.  That means over two pounds a week.  I know these are not biggest loser numbers but these are at home, do it by myself numbers.  I feel great about my progress.  I'd really like to finish strong.  For the contestants who have been weighing in weekly I show as number one.  Unfortunately, I am guessing many haven't weighed in so I have no idea what I'm up against.  I've had times of great anxiety thinking about this.  Last night I was feeling overly anxious and I realized it is not doing me any good to keep worrying.  1.  I can't do anything about it.  I have given this 110% so there is no more that I can do.  2.  Stress hinders weight loss so worrying is making it harder for me to lose weight.  3.  The worst thing that can happen is that I won't even place.  What does that mean?  I won't receive a prize.  Even though they are cool I started this journey way before there was a competition.  I did this to be healthy.  I'll continue to push forward and give it my all, but no more worrying about it.  I felt a lot better today.  I slept well last night and what do you know the scale dropped since yesterday.  I'm proud of my strength.  I didn't know I was this strong.  I've made friendships that will last long after this contest ends.  I've dropped a definite two sizes and am so close to a third.  My husband is enjoying the healthy meals that I have been making and tells me how sexy I am all the time.  It's impacted my children and their views of food and health.  Today after strength training I decided to walk instead of run a 5k on the treadmill.  It was really hard for me to hold myself back, but I think it's just as important to give your body time to recover.  Tomorrow I'm planning on just walking also.  Then I'll take Sunday off.  Sunday I'll also start my last attempt to drop some good pounds. One of the trainers was talking about cutting out all sugars and a friend suggested cutting out cheese and bread.  I'm going to do both.  I keep thinking it will be so difficult, but honestly I haven't had a real dessert in about six weeks.  The only desserts I've eaten during this 90 day challenge were one macaron cookie, one pudding cup with toffee on top and a few "diet" muffins.  I hardly eat white bread, white rice or white potatoes.  I haven't made a burger and fries run (okay I did eat a few of a friend's sweet potato fries) this entire time.  I continue to not drink soda and I've even given up the flavored waters.  I have come SO FAR.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Another muffin recipe? Yep!

After making the other muffins I thought some day I'd like to try the banana walnut muffins in Rocco Dispirito's Now Eat This Diet Book. Well, I had some overly ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl and I thought well it's time. I made two batches and took them to the gym to share again. Making treats for people is always a way that I have showed that I care. Most everyone was excited to have one. Unfortunately, there were a few who passed and one woman who was so concerned that I gave one to a lady in the day care. She said her son is so allergic to nuts that if the lady touched one and then touched her son he could have a severe allergic reaction. I apologized. Being a mom with a child who has food allergies of course I don't want to put another in harm's way. I did think though that any child could eat a peanut butter sandwich and then play with her child. Scary. So, I think my treat sharing days at the gym are over. I'll just be sharing recipes from now on. So here is this one.

Banana Walnut Muffins

Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 packets (4 grams) powdered stevia, such as SweetLeaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon banana extract
1/2 cup liquid egg substitute
12 walnut halves

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper baking cups. Lightly spray the cups with cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, stevia, and salt. Whisk together until well combined. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, add the milk, agave, banana, oil, vanilla, banana extract, and egg substitute. Stir together until well incorporated. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir till well combined.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin. Top each muffin with a walnut half. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean, about 15 to 18 minutes.

Per serving
163 calories, 6g fat, 217 mg sodium, 24 carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein

These muffins are not overly sweet but I still enjoyed them and the smell was wonderful.

BBQ Pork Chops


3/4 cup reduced-sugar ketchup, such as Heinz
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons molasses
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar
nonstick cooking spray
8 (about 2 pounds) thinly cut pork chops, trimmed of all visible fat
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bunch kale, washed, ribs and stems removed, and roughly chopped
freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large shallow dish, combine the ketchup, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, molasses, garlic powder, onion powder, and agave. Stir together. Reserve 1/2 cup and set aside. Add the pork to the sauce and allow the pork to marinate for 10 minutes.
2. Heat a grill pan over high heat. When hot, remove it from the stove just while you coat it with cooking spray. Place the pork on the pan. Cook until the pork is charred and cooked through, about 3 minutes each side, continually brushing with the leftover barbecue sauce marinade. Transfer the pork to a serving platter, and tent it with foil to keep it warm.
3. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and garlic. Cook the garlic until it is browned and toasted. Add the kale and cook till just wilted. Add the remaining cider vinegar and cook for another minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Per Serving
398 calories, 16g fat, 665 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 31 g protein

This one we loved the chops but the kale was bitter. I of course omitted the garlic and maybe if you could eat it the kale would have tasted better. We all threw it down the drain. Next time we'll do the chops with green beans.

No picture taken of yummy awesomeness!

Okay, this by far was the yummiest recipe. Yes, the cut of meat was expensive, but it MELTED in my mouth - YUMMO!

Sauteed Steak with Mushrooms

2 large sweet potatoes (about 1 3/4 pounds)
Nonstick cooking spray
4 lean beef tenderloin steaks (4 ounces each), trimmed of all visible fat
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped shallot
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Prick the skin of the sweet potatoes with a fork, and microwave them covered with plastic on high for 7 to 8 minutes, until they are completely cooked, turning once halfway through. Set aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot, remove it from the stove just while you spray it with the cooking spray. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Add the steaks to the skillet and sauté until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to a platter, and cover with foil to keep them warm.
3. Spray the skillet with more cooking spray, again away from the stove, and add the mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms start to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and sauté 1 minute. Add the vinegar, scraping up any flavorful bits with a wooden spoon.
4. In a small bowl, add the cornstarch and chicken broth. Whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the mixture to the skillet, and bring the sauce to a boil. Stir in the evaporated milk and parsley and simmer until the sauce has slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Split the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Serve the steaks with the pan sauce and the sweet potato halves.

Per serving
324 calories, 5 g fat, 165mg sodium, 42 carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 30 g protein

I literally could lick the pan.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 5, 2012

Wow, there is a month left of this contest. I can't believe what a journey this past 60 days has been. I started the contest wearing a size 16 and now I'm down to a size 12. Two more sizes and I'll hit my goal. When I started this I was sure I could win. I thought it was all just a decision of working hard. Even though I have given it my all the pounds are slow to come off. I'm down almost 17 pounds. I'm still really excited about my progress. I've made lovely friends, found new ways to work out, and realized that I have strength that I didn't think I possessed. I can run and I'm getting faster all the time. Yesterday I held a 2 1/2 minute plank. Today I'm taking a swimming lesson. We have a mini triathlon next week. I never thought I'd be participating in anything like that. I feel good.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Still going...and going...and going...and, I feel like the energizer bunny.

I have to say that when I finally figured out the eating aspect of this journey I have felt so much better. You can't hate the fuel and the food you put into your body is the fuel. I've loved to cook so much in the past and was having such a hard time enjoying the journey when I felt so restricted. I am eating around 1500 calories a day and enjoying them. One of the parts of cooking that I really cherished before was baking. I made a limit of one dessert a month. I know this is not a good long term goal. I love to bake and eat baked goods to much. I decided I need to figure out a healthier way to include these. Also, I wanted to take treats to the girls that I work out with. Some of them will no longer be in my class and I just wanted them to know how much they meant to me. I decided upon trying this recipe

Blueberry Cream Muffins

butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 packets (about 4 grams) powdered stevia, such as SweetLeaf
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup liquid egg substitute
4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into small chunks (freeze for 10 minutes to make easy to cut)
1 cup frozen blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper baking cups, and lightly coat the cups with cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, stevia, and salt. Whisk together.

3. In a medium bowl, add the milk, applesauce, agave oil, vanilla, and egg substitute. Stir together until well incorporated. Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir till well combined. Fold in the cream cheese and blueberries.

4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes.

Per serving: 145 calories, 5 g fat (1 g. sat), 7 mg chol, 244 mg sodium, 22 carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein

Please note that whole wheat pastry flour is different than whole wheat flour. I had to go to Kitchen Kneads to get this. These are also a mildly sweet muffin. They will not be nearly as sweet at your full sugared muffins. I really enjoyed them though.

Still going...and going...and going...and going

Okay, here's another recipe. One of my favorites that I have made. Saying that it was a little higher in calories, but so yummy.

Pecan-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples and Sweet Potatoes

6 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup apple juice or apple cider
1 tbsp. coarse grain Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
12 oz. pork tenderloin
1/2 c. all-purpose flour (I used a gluten free flour blend)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup ground pecans
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp snipped fresh chives
4 tsp finely chopped toasted pecans

1. In a large skillet heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. Add sweet potatoes, apple, 1/4 tsp. salt, and the cinnamon. Cook for 2 minutes, turning occasionally. Add 2/3 cup of the apple juice. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sweet potato are tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sweet potato mixture to a large bowl; set aside. Add the remaining 1/3 cup apple juice, the mustard, and brown sugar to skillet; cook and stir for 1 minute. Transfer apple juice-mustard mixture to a small freezer container. Seal, label, and freeze up to 1 month. Fold a 36x18 inch piece of heavy duty foil in half to make an 18-inch square. Spoon sweet potato mixture into the center of the foil square. Bring up opposite edges of foil and seal with a double fold. Fold the remaining edges together to completely enclose the sweet potato mixture. Seal, label, and freeze up to 1 month.
2. Thaw sweet potato packet and sauce overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400. Place sweet potato packet on a baking sheet. Open packet to expose the top of the sweet potatoes. Bake about 25 minutes or until heated through.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the pork. Cut pork tenderloin crosswise into eight slices. Place each pork slice between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, pound pork lightly until about 1/2 inch thick. Place 1/4 cup of the flour in a shallow dish; set aside. Place eggs in another shallow dish. In a third shallow dish combine the remaining 1/4 cup flour, the ground pecans, 1/4 tsp. salt, and pepper. Dip pork slices, one at a time, into flour, turning to coat and shaking off excess. Dip pork slices in eggs and turn to coat, then dip in pecan mixture, turning to coat.
4. In a 12-inch skillet heat 2 teaspoons of remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add pork slices; cook for 3 minutes. Turn pork; add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the skillet. Cook about 3 minutes more or just until slightly pink in center. If pork browns too quickly, reduce heat to medium.
5. While the pork and potatoes are cooking, transfer sauce to a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 100 percent power for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Just before serving, whisk in chives.
6. Divide sweet potato mixture among four warmed dinner plates. Place two pieces of the pork beside sweet potatoes on each plate. Drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle with toasted pecans. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings (2 slices pork tenderloin, 1/2 cups sweet potato mixture, and 1 tbsp. sauce each).
Per serving: 455 cal, 20 g. total fat (3 g sat. fat) 161 mg chol, 499 mg sodium, 40 g carb, 6 g fiber, 25 g pro.

I did not freeze the meal. I just made it right away. I also didn't eat the sauce (I hate mustard), but the meal was so tasty that I started eating it before I got a picture. Haa haa. So the picture is of part of my meal. :)

Still going...and going...and going

Okay, here is a recipe that was a big hit with the WHOLE family.

Green Chile Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Nonstick cooking spray
1 pound tomatillos, outer husks removed, rinsed
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1 fresh poblano chile pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
12 6-in corn tortillas, halved
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 3/4 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican-style four-cheese blend (7 oz.)
1 16-oz. jar salsa
chopped tomatoes and/or snipped fresh cilantro (optional)

1. Preheat broiler. Lightly coat a 2-quart square baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Line a 15x10x1 inch baking pan with foil. Place tomatillos in the baking pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat for 6 to 8 minutes until softened and charred, turning occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and chile pepper; cook and stir for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender and onion starts to brown.
3. In a blender or food processor combine tomatillos, onion mixture, the 1/4 cup cilantro, the sugar, cumin and salt. Cover and blend until smooth, stopping and scraping sides as necessary.
4. Spread 3/4 cup of tomatillo mixture in the prepared baking dish. Arrange six tortilla halves over the sauce, overlapping slightly. Top with 1 cup of the chicken, 1/2 cup of cheese, and half of the salsa. Add six more tortilla halves and top with 1 cup chicken, 1/2 cup cheese, and half of the remaining tomatillo mixture. Add six more tortilla halves, the remaining 1 cup chicken, and remaining tomatillo mixture. Top with the remaining six tortilla halves and the remaining salsa, spreading to cover.
5. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Cover and chill the remaining 3/4 cup cheese until needed.
6. Preheat oven to 375. Remove plastic wrap. Cover dish with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake about 20 minutes more or until heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. If desired, garnish with chopped tomatoes and/or snipped fresh cilantro. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 253 cal., 9 g total fat (4 g. sat. fat), 60 mg chol, 648 mg sodium, 19 g. carb. 3 g. fiber, 25 g. pro

Still going...and going

Okay, so I'm going to post several recipes for you. First off is Quinoa with Chicken and Artichokes

4 small skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound total)
1 tsp. dried oregano, crushed
2 cloves garlic (minced) - I omitted this because of my intolerance to garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup very thinly sliced carrots (2 medium)
1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and cut up
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (2)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Using a small knife, cut a horizontal slit in the thickest part of each chicken breast half, forming a pocket. In a small bowl combine oregano and garlic; spoon evenly into pockets in breast halves. Press cut edges together to seal. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large oven going skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken breast halves; cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until chicken is browned on bottoms. Turn chicken.
2. Place skillet with chicken in the oven. Bake uncovered, about 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
3. Meanwhile, place quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve; thoroughly rinse with cold water. In a medium saucepan combine quinoa and broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in carrots. Cook, covered, for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
4. Stir artichoke hearts, olives, and parsley into quinoa mixture. Serve quinoa mixture with chicken. Sprinkle with green onions. Makes 4 servings (1 piece of chicken and 1 cup quinoa mixture each).
Per serving: 345 cal., 14 g. fat (2 sat. fat), 43 mg chol., 672 mg sodium, 29 g carbs, 4 g. fiber, 23 g. protein.

I really enjoyed the quinoa. It was so tasty. I'm a huge fan of olives and artichokes so this totally hit the spot for me.

Still going

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted. A friend reminded me today so this will probably be a little lengthy post(s). Forgive me. Anyways, I'm still at it. I go to the gym 4-6 days a week and workout 6-10 hours a week. I'm loving my T.E.A.M. fitness class. I think it's the best thing I could have done to help me with this challenge. The ladies have been a great support and the trainer is awesome. She helps me get out of my comfort zone. For example, we did a little relay in the pool and use the watersides. I'm an anxious person and would never do the slides before. Silly, I know. I've been thinking as I watch Biggest Loser that I should so some things that get me out of my comfort zone. I am feeling a lot more confident than I had before. I think becoming smaller and stronger just naturally had done this for me. I've been trying to be good and stick to my "light" menus. Even when we eat out I'm very careful about what I eat. I have a few new recipes for you. Even with my best efforts though I'm not a top contender for the grand prize. Not even locally. I'm down 15.2 with my last weigh in being 167.3. I hate their scale - it's always a few pounds higher than my own. I'm in this for the long run though. Meaning I'm in this for health. Winning the contest would just be gravy. Monte bought me an iPod nano for our 15 year anniversary. I welcome any suggestions for great workout music. Sometimes you'll see me running along mouthing the words. I probably look like an idiot, but I'm not doing this for any coolness factor. Monte has been great eating all things I come up with and even challenging me with planks, sit-ups, etc. Sidenote: Everyone in the Riding house has had colds - EXCEPT me. I was always the first one to catch them before. I think eating the right foods definitely are contributing to a healthier me. So onto the recipes.