Monthly Archives: March 2011

Comfort Food

I have a confession to make: I actually like Chef Boyardee’s Beefaroni. I ate quite a bit of it when I was younger. As an adult, I have eaten Lean Cuisine’s Chili Mac, which is very similar, several times. My husband hates Chili Mac. He says that it reminds him of his days in the army. Apparently, he ate quite a bit of it when he was in the army and he got sick of it.

But Corey isn’t home, it’s my day off and it has been cold and rainy all day. Enter: comfort food!

The only time I got dressed today was to do an hour on the elliptical. After a workout like that, I needed carbs and comfort in a bowl. I was debating on what to make myself for lunch. I was trying to think of something comforting (yet healthy) I could make and then eat while I was snuggled on the couch in my pajamas.

So I decided to make my own version of Chili Mac. It came out quite tasty if I do say so myself. All of the ingredients were ones that I already had, it’s warm and comforting and the best part was that it only took me half an hour to cook it!

Because I spent so little time in the kitchen, I was able to get back into my pajamas quickly. For the rest of the day I watched girly movies that I knew my husband would never watch, like Ramona and Beezus and Anastasia. I miss Corey, but I love my alone time. :)

Chili Mac (serves 4)

1 lb. ground beef
8 oz. elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
¼ – ½ c. pasta sauce*
¼ c. chopped onion
1 medium green pepper, chopped
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (can use more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder

Begin cooking macaroni according to package directions. Brown ground beef and onion in large skillet. Once beef is browned, drain fat off the ground beef. Add diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, green pepper, and spices. Bring to a simmer and let simmer about 5 minutes, stirring often. Mix in cooked macaroni. Serve with cheese if desired (I did!).

*Cooking note: You can use as little pasta sauce or as much of it, depending on how liquidy you like it.

The power of the right size

This weekend I went clothes shopping. It was a long time coming because the only thing holding up my pants for the past couple of months has been a belt. Not to mention the fact that I have saved a couple of hundred dollars specifically for clothes over the past few months. And for some reason, I haven’t used any of it.

My jeans have been a size too big for a while now. But I have been waiting to get a pair of jeans in a smaller size. Waiting for my weight loss to accelerate so I could fit into an even smaller size. Waiting to see if I would gain all the weight back.

Holding onto those pants was like holding on to a security blanket. It was like holding onto these extra pounds I just can’t get rid of. Going to buy new pants was a bit scary. I was scared that I hadn’t actually gone down a size. I was scared that buying a new pair of pants was a sign that I was giving up on losing weight. What if I lost enough weight in the next few weeks so that I didn’t even need these pants? And wearing a pair of pants that actually fit means that if I gain some of my weight back I will know it. No more denial. That alone is a scary enough thought to deter me from shopping.

Then . . . I found them. A perfect pair of jeans. Not even just one pair, but two pair of jeans that fit perfectly.

I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to wear a pair of jeans that didn’t require a belt. And another unexpected side effect of wearing the correct size . . . my self-confidence shot up by about a thousand percent. No longer did I think of myself as fat. My jeans now accentuated my curves in a very flattering way. While in the fitting room, I couldn’t stop staring at my butt. :)

I had no idea that wearing the correct size would make me feel so good about myself. And honestly when I look at pictures of me wearing the bigger jeans, it’s like I lost ten pounds just by wearing the right size!

I am so glad that I finally made the journey to the store. I feel better about myself than I have in months. I even considered the fact that maybe I don’t need to lose weight. Maybe my curves are the way they are supposed to be. And maybe I am the size I am supposed to be.

Now I just need to buy some new work clothes. I only have one pair of work pants that fit me. Guess it wouldn’t hurt to be as confident as work as I am at home. :)

Question: Have you ever held onto clothes that were either too small or too big? For what reason?

I got in!

First of all, I just wanted to thank all of you guys for the support from my last post. I felt so bad about what happened, but you guys made me feel better. And from what I read, some of you guys have had far more embarrassing things happen to you. Am I a bad person because reading that made me feel just a tad bit better? ;)

I mentioned a few months ago that I intended to run the Peachtree Road Race. I have been training for it over the last few months. What I didn’t mention is that the Atlanta Track Club recently changed their rules and would only allow people to enter the race by a lottery system.

Even though I knew I may not get in, I still trained for the race . . . until my knee started acting up. Well this morning I got the email and Corey and I are both in the race!

I was so surprised! They were allowing 60,000 people in the race and I know that tons of people rush to sign up for it every year. It’s actually the world’s largest 10K race. :) I was excited to see that we had gotten in. But I’m also nervous. I haven’t done any running in a couple of weeks because my knee is still swollen. To make matters worse, when I woke up this morning I was feeling some burning pain along the left side of my knee and thigh (the opposite side of the swelling).

I am kind of at a loss as to what I should do. I don’t want to run and make my knee worse. But if I don’t start some kind of training by the end of April (at the very latest), then there is no way I will be ready for it. But I was thinking that maybe I could just walk the race. There’s no law that says I have to run it, right? And last year’s Peachtree Road Race was so fantastic. I loved the atmosphere!

So what do you think I should do? Just forget about the race and hope to do another 10K when it heals? Walk the race?

Either way I plan on visiting a doctor soon. I need to know what is causing this swelling and hopefully fix the problem.

Bad Day

Yesterday was a bad day. A bad, bad day.

I had a migraine and I wanted to try to drive into work anyway. The world was spinning, but I had every intention of being where I was needed. However, I began to feel nauseous during the drive. When I felt like I was going to be sick, I pulled off to the side of the road. But I didn’t open the door in time and I ended up throwing up all over myself.

I felt so disgusted with myself and so embarrassed. I don’t know why I felt that way. It obviously wasn’t my fault. Things happen. My boss was very understanding and my husband came to the rescue.

He left work, went by the house to get a few things for me and drove all the way to where I was parked to take care of me. He brought me some fresh clothes, a couple of towels to clean myself up and some cold water so that I could keep myself hydrated. And me made sure that I took my nausea medication so I wouldn’t be sick again. He even bought me some tomato soup on the way home. It’s my favorite “sick food”, you know.

I am so lucky to have a husband who takes such good care of me.

Has anything embarrassing ever happened to you while you were sick?

Vacation’s Over

Today was my first day back in work in a week. I had a wonderful and relaxing staycation, but I had to get back to reality at some point. The day didn’t start out on the right note however. I didn’t sleep well last night. I tossed and turned and I had weird dreams. Because of my lack of sleep last night, I overslept a little this morning. Not enough to be late work, but enough so that I didn’t have time for a morning workout.

But I made up for the late start by having some leftover pancakes that Corey made me the other day. I had a couple of blueberry pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and maple syrup.

Yummy! A delicious way to start the day and it turned my morning away. How could I be in a bad mood after a breakfast like that? :)

I prepped my lunch for work last night so it would save a little time this morning. I expected today to be a bit busy (which it actually wasn’t), so I needed a nutritious lunch and nutritious snacks to keep me full and satisfied. I get so cranky when I get hungry.

For lunch, I made some Egg Salad and had that on multigrain bread. I also cooked some bacon and added it to the Egg Salad.

I don’t know why I didn’t do that before. The addition of bacon makes the Egg Salad so much more delicious! But since when does bacon do anything else?

My snacks included: some green grapes . . .

and some homemade pretzel bites with mustard.

I think I have learned my lesson when it comes to pictures. I used to take all my pictures of foods I took to work at work. However, the lighting is just awful. It’s all fluorescent so the pictures have a greenish tint to them. Now I take most of my pictures at home. The pictures come out so much better.

I will show you an example of what I mean. The above picture of my pretzel bites and mustard were taken at my home.

Here is an example of a picture of them taken at work.

See what I mean? And the picture doesn’t even look that bad on my camera. The camera fools me. Then I upload it and it looks neon.

I’m glad I took a break from work over the last week. I was beginning to feel burnt out. But I went back to work today energized and refreshed. I felt ready to tackle the day.

Luckily, I got off work at a decent hour. Because I missed my morning workout, I found myself craving a good workout after work. I was excited for it. I did Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones, followed by 20 minutes on the elliptical. That Jillian Michaels workout is no joke. This is the second time this week I have done it and it was just as intense as the first time. My shoulders are killing me, as are my glutes. My triceps will probably be sore tomorrow.

After my workout, Corey and I had a dinner of whole wheat pasta, grilled chicken and organic pasta sauce. I also had some roasted broccoli on the side.

Now I need to relax a little and try to ease the soreness from my muscles. Poor Callie hasn’t been feeling well all day. She has had a bit of an upset stomach all day and part of the reason I didn’t sleep well is because she was tossing and turning all night. I think she’s feeling a little better now. She seems to be catching up on her sleep and I am looking forward to following suit! Good night everyone.

 

Baking Day!

First of all, I have updated my Recipes page! I organized it by category so the recipes are easier to find. I also added several photos to make you nice and hungry. ;) I encourage you to check it out.

I guess I am a glutton for punishment.

About a week or so ago, I mentioned that I have no self-control when it comes to my Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread. I ate way too much of it. But I was in the mood to bake today. And I wanted a snack to take to work tomorrow. So I made some more of that delicious bread.

This time I left out the walnuts. Why would I do that? Aside from the fact that I am completely out, I am going to take some of this bread to work tomorrow for my coworkers. One of my coworkers is allergic to nuts so I wanted to make sure she would be able to eat it. I learned my lesson last time: eat some and give some away. I can’t be trusted with the whole loaf.

I also made a bit of a salty snack: homemade pretzel bites! I have been on a pretzel kick lately and we are completely out. Rather than making a special trip to the store to buy them, I decided to make some. I searched around for several recipes online and finally just created my own recipe based on the ingredients that I knew they would need. I am so glad these turned out well.

These pretzel bites are delicious! They are golden brown and a little crispy on the outside and they have a wonderfully chewy center. If left alone with these for too long, there is no telling how many I would eat.

And they are so easy! Much easier than I thought they would be. The hardest part is waiting for an hour so the dough can rise. You can always half the recipe if you don’t want quite so many pretzel bites. But why would you want to?

Homemade Pretzel Bites (makes 100+ little pretzel bites)

1 1/5 c. warm water
2 T. brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
4 c. flour (I used half white and half wheat)
6 c. water
4 tsp. baking soda
salt to taste

In a mixing bowl, add yeast, water and sugar. Let sit for ten minutes. Mix in flour and knead for 8 minutes. Grease bowl and place dough back in bowl. Let rise for one hour, or until dough has doubled in size.

Separate dough into 10-12 pieces. Roll into long ropes about 1/3 inch thick. Cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Place on cookie sheet and let rise for 20 minutes.

the pretzel bites about to go into their "baking soda bath"

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add baking soda and reduce heat to gentle simmer. Boil pretzels in batches, about 20 seconds each, turning once. Sprinkle pretzel bites with a little salt (to taste). Bake at 450 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Fresh out of the oven . . . check out who is lazing about in the background

You can dip them in mustard .  . .

Or pizza sauce .  . .

Or whatever else your little heart desires.

And now that I have officially ruined my appetite for dinner by eating too many pretzel bites, I am watching a little “Survivor” and “Modern Family” before turning in. Today is our last day of this wonderful staycation, so it’s back to work tomorrow! I guess we had to go back to the real world eventually. :)

My staycation rocks!

First of all, I just want to thank all of you guys for your support over yesterday’s post. All of your comments made me feel so much better. I did manage to let go of most of the guilt and I ate a phenomenal burger. I also enjoyed some great company in the form of my husband. :)

Today was a great day! Tomorrow is the last day of our “staycation.” We are both going to be a little sad to have to go back to work, I think.

This morning I told my husband I was in the mood for pancakes for breakfast. I have a couple of recipes in my arsenal that we usually make. But my husband wanted to make me breakfast and he wanted to surprise me. This concept was very scary to me. I feel a need to be in control of every ingredient to monitor the nutrition. Usually when Corey wants to make me breakfast, I give him a recipe and he follows it accordingly!

I’m glad I trusted him because he did make excellent pancakes. He used this recipe from Allrecipes. The only change he made was to add a teaspoon of vanilla and to add fruit to the batter. He made several blueberry pancakes and several strawberry ones.

They were so delicious! I had never put strawberries in my pancakes before and I have no idea why. I loved it! The pancakes came out light and fluffy. They don’t have a lot of sugar so they weren’t very sweet, which I enjoyed. And the butter in the recipe gave them a wonderfully buttery taste.

Just a little side note: for the butter in most of my recipes (except maybe a few sweets like cookies and cakes), I use I can’t believe it’s not butter fat-free. I know, it’s horribly processed and this is probably the one thing that I eat that has this many ingredients. But I actually prefer the taste to real butter. I’m weird like that. ;)

After some relaxing and eating, I needed a workout. My quads were still sore from Sunday’s Jillian Michaels No More Trouble Zones workout. This workout was one of my new workouts for the month and I love it! It’s 50 minutes of pure strength training. My quads, thighs, abs, and triceps were so sore yesterday from the workout. My triceps and quads are still sore today. But that was not going to stop me from getting in some good cardio. I did a 25 minute Jillian Michaels kickboxing workout (can you tell I love her??), followed by 35 minutes on the elliptical. The elliptical may be boring, but it sure does make me break a sweat. :)

By the time my workout was complete and by the time I took a shower, it was time for lunch. I have been a little light on my veggies lately so I was craving a salad . . . a taco salad! I swear, that’s my favorite way to eat veggies.

The salad consisted of lettuce, taco meat with peppers and onions, salsa, and some refried beans. I ate this salad with some tortilla chips. Yummy!

Today was a beautiful 80 degrees so we did not want to spend the day indoors.

We took Callie to this little creek in the nearby park so she could run off some energy play. I didn’t realize that it was a little of a hike to the creek. It was over a mile there and back. Ordinarily, that would not have been an issue. But my quads were already sore from my morning workout. And the hike back to the car was mostly uphill. Not what I was in the mood for.

After spending some time at the creek and then doing some house cleaning, we were hungry. And tonight was pizza night. I love pizza night! We bought some whole wheat pizza dough at the Farmer’s Market last weekend. I had a couple of slices with pizza sauce, a little mozzarella cheese, some all natural pepperoni, and some red and green peppers.

The pizza was yummy. The only issue was that the crust was a little underbaked so there wasn’t any of the crispness that I enjoy. Next time we will bake it up a little more and I’m sure it will be fine. All in all, not a bad pizza.

After dinner, Corey and I went to a movie. I can’t remember the last time we went to a movie on a weeknight. A couple of weeks ago, both of us had bought a Groupon that would allow us to get 2 movie tickets on Fandango for only $9. What a deal! We decided that tonight was a great time to use it.

We went to see “Limitless.” There were only a few people in the theatre. The movie was a pretty good one. I thought the ending was a little abrupt for my taste, but it was still a decent movie.

Now we are both relaxing a little on the couch before going to bed. I got a little bedtime snack of Butter Toffee peanuts.

I bought these at the Farmer’s Market last weekend and they are so incredibly addicting. It’s hard to just grab a handful or two at a time. But I have a little self-control.

Now I am exhausted! All that time in the sun has made me so sleepy. Good night everyone!

Question: Do you still work out when your muscles are very sore? How do you cope with that?

Guilt

I have been trying all day to think of what I would write about. I don’t feel particularly happy or in a good mood. Yesterday was Internet-free day in our house and I felt liberated by the fact that I hardly took any pictures all day . . . of food anyway. I did take plenty of pictures of me, Corey and Callie in the park.

But there is one thing that has been on my mind all day. Corey and I have plans for a date night tonight. Since both of us have the next couple of days off work, it’s kind of nice (and a little luxurious) to have a date night in the middle of the week. We are going to one of our favorite places, Farm Burger. The burgers are made of grass-fed beef and every single ingredient is local and organic. The burgers are the best burgers I have ever had. Ever. I can really tell the difference in taste by eating all natural and local ingredients.

The problem that I have is guilt. All day long I have been feeling guilty for the fact that I will be eating a hamburger and onion rings and I have no idea how many calories are in them. I can’t seem to shake off this guilt or the feeling that I will gain ten pounds from the meal. Logically, I know that’s not possible. I know that it’s still possible for me to lose weight this week despite eating this meal. But I keep thinking about all the ways this meal could hurt me and my efforts to lose weight. I even contemplated restricting my calories for the rest of the day. I won’t. I know that not eating enough will make me want to eat even more tonight.

I am letting my guilt ruin my excitement over eating a wonderful meal and spending time with my husband. How do I get rid of this guilt? I am trying to talk myself out of this guilt, but that is much easier said than done.

It’s probably because my weight loss is progressing so slowly. So slowly that I am afraid to eat anything I like because it may jeopardize my efforts. But I feel the effects of my workouts. I actually have a little bit of definition in my biceps now. I see muscle for the first time in a long time. My abs, triceps, quads and thighs are sore from yesterday’s Jillian Michaels workout. Those are good things. Regardless of what pants size I am currently wearing, I know that I am getting stronger.

I know this post has been a bit of a ramble. I appreciate you guys for hanging in there with me. I feel better just by venting. I love the support that the blogging community provides. :)

And now I am going to end this post on an upbeat note: some pictures of me and my little family at the park yesterday. I love this weather!

Playing Fetch!

Taking a break from playing for some petting time

Meant to Run?

I think that my body was not made for running. Ever since my last run almost a week ago, my right knee has been very swollen. This happens sometimes and this time I couldn’t ignore it. When I stand up, it actually makes me feel uncomfortable. So I knew that going for a run today was out of the question, even though it was unbelievably nice outside.

Check out the size of my right knee!

I have no idea why my knee gets so swollen. Last time I visited an orthopedist, he couldn’t figure it out so he just drained the fluid. It doesn’t hurt or anything. It mainly just feels uncomfortable because of the swelling. Does anyone know why this would happen?

I am so excited because today was the beginning of my “staycation.” I have mentioned that I have been super busy at work. I decided to take the next several days off of work. I don’t have to be at work until next Thursday. Yay! Since Sundays and Mondays are usually my days off work, that equals about four days off. I really need this time to relax and recharge my batteries. Does anyone else ever take a few days off work just to recharge a little?

I started the day off on a wonderful note. Time off work = more time to cook breakfast. It is my favorite meal of the day after all. ;) I started the day with my Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast. I used Naturally Nutty Honey Roasted Cinnamon Peanut Butter. I also stuffed the bread with fresh strawberries!

Holy yum! This was so good. I loved the addition of the fruit. So good.

I always think that I’m being lazy on my days off when I guess that’s what relaxing is all about. Why do I feel guilty when I’m not doing anything? I mainly surfed the web, caught up with blogs, and caught up on my DVR recordings.

My breakfast actually kept me full for several hours so I ate a late lunch. I made myself some tuna fish (made of low fat mayo and mustard) and lettuce on multigrain bread. Along with the sandwich, I had some chips and salsa.

The salsa was unpictured because I ate it directly from the jar. It totally hit the spot.

The rest of the afternoon was spent napping on the couch with Callie.

Apparently she was feeling a bit lazy as well.

Even though I couldn’t run, I knew that I had to work out. It took me a good half an hour to drag myself off the couch and workout. I was tired and just didn’t feel like it. I had to keep repeating my exercise mantra in my head: “You are just one workout away from a great mood!” It gets me up every time. I’m not going to lie though. The main reason I got to work out was because I had completely caught up with my DVR and I was bored. There are worse reasons, right? ;)

I ended up doing two Jillian Michaels workouts: 30 day shred level 2 and 6 week 6 pack. They both count as my new workouts for this month. I had only done each of them once and that was a couple of months ago. Why am I so afraid of strenuous workouts?  The 6 week 6 pack workout was a killer. I could barely get through it, but I did it. I guess an hour-long workout isn’t bad for someone who didn’t want to do anything in the first place.

Callie wasn’t in the mood for a workout.
Lazy dog. :)

The best part of the day was undoubtedly when my husband got home. He had to work late tonight. When he came home he surprised me with some flowers that he picked in front of his office.

The first sign of Spring! Aren’t they beautiful? Isn’t he the sweetest?

And yes, we put the flowers in a wine glass. That’s just how we roll.

The day ended with a great meal and wonderful quality time with my husband.

I had a cooked hamburger patty with sweet potato fries and roasted asparagus. Of course I drizzled lots of barbecue sauce on them. I’m kind of addicted to barbecue sauce on my veggies now.

After a trip to the grocery store, I am now relaxing with my husband. For the first time in a really long time, I don’t have to work tomorrow. Yay!!!

Wendy’s Clone

Back when I didn’t put that much thought into what I was eating, I would eat a lot of Wendy’s . . . specifically their Spicy Chicken Sandwich. I ate lots of them. Even now, I still get a craving every once in a while. But since too many preservatives give me a headache, I have to keep my distance.

I once bought a cookbook that has (healthy) copycat recipes of quite a few fast food favorites. When I saw there was a version of Wendy’s Spicy Chicken in it, I was beyond excited. Since Corey also loves their Spicy Chicken Sandwich and he often prefers junk food to home cooking, I consider it a small victory that he loves this version as well. It is so incredibly good. It will (almost) make you forget about the original.

Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich Clone (makes 2 sandwiches) - adapted from Fast Food Fix: 75 amazing recipe makeovers of your fast food restaurant favorites

2 tsp. flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of garlic powder and turmeric
6 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 egg whites
2 tsp. fat free milk
7 T. panko bread crumbs
black pepper

In small resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, cornstarch, paprika, cayenne, salt, garlic powder, and turmeric. Shake to mix well. Add the chicken. Shake to completely coat the chicken with flour mixture. Place in refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a small, shallow bowl, combine the egg whites and milk. Beat with a fork until smooth. Place the panko on a small sheet of waxed paper. Dip the chicken into the egg white mixture, making sure to coat completely. Dip into panko to coat completely. Repeat dipping into the egg white mixture and panko crumbs. Place on baking sheet. Season both sides to taste with black pepper.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the breading is crisp and chicken is no longer pink inside.

Serve on bread and with toppings of your choice. I use lettuce and low fat mayonnaise. Yum!

I served the sandwich with some roasted asparagus drizzled with barbecue sauce. I may not be wearing green, but I have green on my plate. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

What is your favorite food from a fast food restaurant?