Monday, October 31, 2011

RECIPES: Susan's Spaghetti Chicken with Brown Rice AND Chicken Soup


(no pic. It's ugly, but delicious!)

3 Chicken Breasts
1 Can Spaghetti Sauce
2 Cups Leftover Brown Rice
1 small Onion, chopped
1 Celery stalk, sliced
Some Vegetable Oil
Onion Salt
Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning

Cube chicken. Heat oil in a skillet. Add spices. Add chicken and pepper it. Cook chicken until mostly done. Add celery and onions and cook until onion is translucent. Add spaghetti sauce. Stir. Add Italian Seasoning to mixture to taste. Add rice. Stir. Simmer for 10 minutes. Eat. Yum!

Note: Count WW Points for oil if you're on the Simply Filling option. Otherwise, this is basically an all Power-Foods meal! :)


(no pic. Looks like Campbell's Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup. Except better and with wheat rotini.)

4 Chicken Breasts, chopped into medium cubes
1.5 cup sliced celery
1.5 cup sliced baby carrots
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 box wheat pasta (I picked rotini)
Italian Seasoning, Pepper, Garlic Salt

Pile all this in the slow cooker: in the order of vegetables, chicken, bouillon, spices and pasta, bottom to top. Fill with water to within an inch of top. Cook forever. Til the chicken's done. I don't know how long yet. It's still cooking!

Note: This is my attempt to get back on task. From what I can tell, the only difference between Campbell's and this is the wheat pasta. :) All Power Foods. Again, yum!

Week 15: Party Week Anti-Progress

I gained 2lb this week. I'm at 270. I had good food and great company, though! But I ate very yummy bad-for-me things all week.

Food Sins List, Abbreviated:

1. My homemade super awesome cheeseball recipe and crackers
2. Veggie Pizza: pizza crust, ranch cream cheese, carrots
3. Cheesecake
4. Grippos
5. Real Pepsi and Dr. Pepper and Root Beer
6. Chips for WW-Friendly Bean Dip
7. Baby Fingers: Lil Smokies wrapped in Bacon cooked in Brown Sugar... but only a few! :)
8. Dreamsicle Punch: (Diet) Orange Soda and regular vanilla ice cream
9. Other things that were equally good...

Also, a few healthy WW Points Plus recipes forthcoming...



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

RECIPE: Beef & Bean-tastic Chili

 In the pot, ready to simmer....
... and in the bowl, with cheese, on the chili-covered counter!

1.5 lb lean ground beef
1 medium- large onion, diced
1 can light red kidney beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 big can Bush's seasoned pinto chili beans
1 can Rotel chili-fixins seasoned diced tomatoes
1 medium can tomato sauce
1 tsp Mexene chili powder
1 tsp Ground cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fat free shredded cheddar
Crackers if you're splurgin' (count the points!)

Combine everything but onion, beef, cheddar and crackers in a medium sized slow cooker and stir well. Season to taste and to the desired heat. Turn on slow cooker to "high" setting and replace lid. 

Brown beef in a large skillet on medium heat. Do not drain if you use lean beef... not enough fat to bother! Push the beef to the outside of the pan and dump diced onion in center. Use the tiny amount of fat from the beef to cook the onions until just translucent. Dump it all into the slow cooker and stir thoroughly. Simmer on High for an hour, stir, turn down on low and cook for two more hours. Stir occasionally. 

Dip into bowl and sprinkle on cheese. Devour!

Note: This is a mostly-Power-Foods recipe, but some seasonings in the prepared beans and tomatoes should be noted as costing points. I'm experimenting to see if the cost is negligible. So I'm officially saying a cup of this stuff, with fat free cheese and no crackers is made of all Power Foods and shouldn't be much of a "cheat". Now, seconds and thirds are a different story... :)

Note 2: COST-- For a 3.5 quart slow cooker full of chili, it cost about $13, which is a splurge for my budget all at once. But considering for a moment that, if I didn't have company, 3.5 quarts of chili would last all week, it's a pretty sound investment...

Note 3: This stuff could probably freeze really well, in meal sized portions!

Style Note: If you're a spaghetti-in-your-chili person (weird to me, but tasty, I guess...), then cook some whole wheat pasta and throw it in there. Or pour your chili over it. Or whatever you guys do... :D

Style Note 2: I made a very mild chili with a lot of good flavor. Plus, I cheated by using pre-made, pre-seasoned ingredients. If you pay close attention to your Power Foods list, you can make it all from base ingredients instead. You'll end up with a more true-to-Simply-Filling result by controlling all ingredients. I could have cooked dried beans and painstakingly seasoned them in measured portions, diced real tomatoes, pureed them and made a sauce. Like I'd do that on a Tuesday. Bah! ;)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 14: Progress Again

My weigh-in today put me at 268.4lb, my lowest weight so far. That's down about 3lb from my lowest weight a couple weeks ago. I'm very excited about this, and feel like I've accomplished it by the seat of my pants, or skin of my teeth, or something along those lines. I really haven't cheated these past few days, but the beginning of the week had some rough spots. 

Maybe I cut the weight because I'm sick with a cold-thing and have no appetite? My meals have been mostly some tuna, eggs, vegetables, apples, and Campbell's Healthy Request chunky chicken noodle soup. While the latter isn't strictly on my diet, if it's all I ate for a meal and it's mostly broth it seems to have made little negative impact on my metabolism. If I could have tasted it, I'm sure it would have been stupendous!

My cravings-button is off on most days. The only things I occasionally want that are horrible for me are the McDonald's McRib, Wendy's chili (not horrible, Points-wise), BBQ Grippos, and some chocolate things. All of these things, I will have on occasion. I just avoided the McRib for weigh-in, though! :) I keep plenty of apples and baby carrots on hand for snack emergencies and make lunch for work in advance. These precautions are the reasons I don't eat bad-for-me things more often. I'm also keeping my late dinners light, when possible, so I don't go to sleep with a belly full of foods with fat-conversion potential. 

The exercise thing didn't happen this week, mostly because I was sickly and had no energy. Leastly, because I worked on wedding and costume stuff and played on the internet to placate myself. I'm not a pitiful sick person. Being sick frustrates me. I get angry. There. The truth comes out! This is why, as long as I'm not horribly contagious, I'll not usually call in to work. If I can't be productive at home when I'm sick, I might as well get paid at work! Creative logic at work! :) 

Also, yay! Weight loss! Gonna spend my drive to work and back home avoiding the McRib. Dunno how I'll do, but hey, tomorrow's the beginning of my Health Overhaul week! I can play catch-up the rest of the week...

1. McRib :D
2. H'ween Party Sunday= Homemade Party Foods. Will probably weigh-in pre-food! :)
3. McRib...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dress Update!

In the course of wedding prep, Mom and Tiffany came today to help with making the last half of my candles. Which means I had some help to squeeze into the wedding dress again. I was worried about it since it's been about August since I was brave enough to try it on, and though Melody had it zipped, I really couldn't breathe. 

Today, I stepped into it and, with very little tugging and squeezing, I could wear the thing. I didn't feel suffocated. I could actually take breaths! The front waist area is where I got the extra room, plus a little extra around my shoulder blades. I still have the back overspill that I'd like to be rid of and the manly broad shoulders I can't be rid of. But the veil and my hairstyle will cover the former, and some focused weight lifting will at least tone-up the latter. If you gotta have linebacker shoulders, then make them worthy of showing off!

My pre-wedding plan is mostly weight lifting and some workout videos. It's finally turned wintry, so I'm not much for walking in the bleariness. I feel like I can get more done in less time when I work out indoors.

I still have much of my weight loss mini-goal to complete before the wedding day. I'm working on that, too, so if I reach that goal between now and then, I'd have much better morale going into the second mini-goal. :)

Weddingy-things aside, I have noticed that I've picked up food habits like reaching for an apple instead of a brownie (or was that "reaching for an apple because there are no brownies") and in restaurants, I try to lean toward better choices. I have a smaller appetite. And, secretly, I enjoy the simplified restriction of a diet involving basic, natural foods. :D

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 13: Down Again

Since last week's gurgle-splat-twitch, better known as the death of my metabolism, I have managed to get back down to 272.2. It's still a pound higher than my last official weigh-in. However, it's over 2 pounds lighter than my cheater panicky weigh-in a few days ago. So I'll take it as re-progress. :)

I may have weighed less if Brandon hadn't gotten off work early and taken me to dinner when I got off work. I don't wanna talk about it except to say how I doubt anything I ate was remotely Power Foods. And it was a late dinner the night before weigh-in. And it wasn't even the elusive McRib. Not casting stones at Brandon. He can't help it that he has the metabolism of a marathon runner. And he is cute. But he has been informed that I am to eat a salad or something of a similar nature if we go to a restaurant again between now and the wedding.

My blockades to success this week: My new friend Brandi's wedding; the McRib is rumored to have returned.

Blockades next week: Susan visits; Amped up wedding-prep stress; The Halloween Party!

I gotta prep costumes and Halloween party stuff, make two flower girl dresses, another throwing bouquet, 14 or so goblet candles, garters, favor bags, place cards and signs, cake toppers, and a dozen other things. I can only do two or three of those things with help from others. So I'll be the recluse for a while. Which should help me with the whole dieting thing. :) We'll see. Maybe I'll drop a few stress pounds as well! (Wait, I shouldn't rejoice in that, right?)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Mess Up, A Word of Encouragement

In my sneak weigh-in today, I've gained a few pounds. Which means I've messed up somewhere this week. I've had an 80/20 kinda week, with 20% being the on-task on-diet portion. And I've been eating at the house, with one restaurant exception. So it's a combination of portion and food choice. And inactivity. :*(

I will post my weight this Monday, I'll just suck it up and update my Tickers with a higher number if needed. Again. Trying not to get discouraged, but I get so mad at myself for just "not caring" once or twice. It throws the whole week out the window when I do that.

The good thing is that the Simply Filling option of Weight Watchers Points Plus really works, when I stay on it. And I feel stronger and healthier. It's almost identical to the South Beach Diet and the Atkins Lifetime Maintenance Diet, and works for the same reasons.


I talked to a woman at work recently who I noticed had lost a lot of weight. She was eating a very whole-foods-and-lean-protein lunch. She said she started about a year ago upon some very stringent doctor instructions due to an intolerance to certain foods. She used the South Beach Diet, and lost something like 60lb the first 2 months. As of our discussion, she has lost OVER 130 POUNDS in just under a year!!! That's a whole adult woman, or two hefty kids, or one skinny guy! Holy crap!

There, a Tamara Wake Up Call if ever I heard one! I want to do this BEFORE it turns into a doctor's order, before I'm sick with diabetes and killing myself with eating. And before I have 130 more pounds to lose. I know if I can get down to 200, my risk of EVERYTHING will be lowered by ridiculous percentages. And 74-ish pounds is NOTHING compared to what this woman has done with willpower alone! Goal, here I come!

Monday, October 10, 2011

End of Week 12: Content in Disaster

This week, I hosted some great friends, one of which I hadn't seen in a year due to his deployment overseas. So due to good company, hormonal fluctuation, and way too many non-Power Foods, I feel confident that I made zero progress this week, perhaps even negative progress. In order to curb the morale degradation that I would experience in such a case, I've decided not to post a weigh-in this week.

I have plenty of acceptable foods already prepped and ready to eat. I'm shooting for all Power Foods, all week. Mainly, I just haven't purchased any non-Power Foods for this week. I found a weight-control prepackaged Quaker oatmeal that I'm trying, with no real sugar. Then when I run out of that, I have a canister of the plain stuff. And I'll be making that one with fat-free milk, cinnamon and a bit o' fake sweetener. I have a few weeks worth of oatmeal stocked, I realize. I'm thinking about phasing out of oatmeal after I run out, and shifting to eggs for breakfast. This will cut my carb intake and up my protein, pushing me toward a more protein-and-vegetable diet through the winter.

Also, if I scare myself with a wedding countdown, I'm sure I can get my butt in gear to start exercising as well.

A Note on Spring: I'm excited about Spring because I am planning a garden, starting an orchard (results in 3-5 years, LOL) AND maybe even making a chicken coop to buy some Araucana chickens, which lay green and blue eggs. I figure since I'm pretty much grounded until I'm blessed with doing a book tour, I'd better be productive with it. I loved my fresh garden vegetables so much, I'd be tempted to go vegetarian throughout summer and fall! For those who know me, that's a bold claim. :)



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RECIPE: Baked Salmon and Avocado Salad

Behold! The yummy things that await you... (Also, the healing burn from my last photo post!)

1 Haas avocado
1 Baked salmon fillet, seasoned with Cajun Seasoning (See below if you don't have one lying around!)
Lime Juice
Cajun Seasoning

Microwave salmon fillet 1-2 minutes, until hot. Cut Avocado into chunks. Use a fork and knife to tear salmon into chunks. Pile avocado chunks on salmon chunks. Sprinkle with cilantro and a couple splashes of lime juice. Enjoy!

My Avocado Technique: Cut along longest side all around circumference, all the way to the pit. Remove the pit by digging the edge of your knife into the side and prying it out. Take your (dull) knife and slice into exposed fruit to the rind, vertically and then horizontally. Use a spoon to scoop out chunks. Or just invert the rind to pop out the flesh. If you're a worry wort or super-clumsy, scoop out the avocado first, then chunk it up. :)

How to Bake Salmon: Place skinless salmon fillet in glass dish or on aluminum foil in a pan. Sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and lemon juice. Top with a couple pats of butter. Bake at 350 degrees for around thirty minutes.

*Note: This dish is great because the fish is warm and a bit salty, and the avocado has a cooling effect that is a nice flavor contrast as well. It's tastes very light, but fills you up with double the good fatty acids!

*Note 2: Good girls would split this up into half an avocado and half the salmon fillet. I am no such girl. :) I CAN believe that I ate the whole thing! I've been waiting to make this forever!

*Style Note: I guess you could ruin it with lettuce if you had to... But, why would you do that?

Monday, October 3, 2011

20 Pounds Gone = A New Pic!

When I ran out of clean jeans and begrudgingly resorted to an old pair that's a size smaller than I've had to wear for the last two years, AND THEY FIT VERY WELL!!!, I decided that it was time to update Ye Olde Picture. I'm pretty sure that original picture is less of 291 and more toward 300, when I think about it, but it does show a little difference between that one and the new one. I'm wearing the old, skinnier jeans in the updated picture. Kinda cool.

Also, pay no attention to all my nerd-dom on the bookcases behind me. Or do pay attention, if you're a nerd. :)



Sunday, October 2, 2011

End of Week 11: A Shiny Sunday


I weighed early today instead of tomorrow because, well, I was very nosy. I weighed in at 271.2 lb. This may be the lowest I've weighed in a long time. That's down 3.6-ish from last week. I also lost 1.5 inches off my hips, which explains the sliding pants issue I've been having.

I'm not overly concerned with this high initial weight loss, because I'd only successfully managed the diet for three days last week. I'm considering it water-weight. This week, I have or will manage a full seven days. So besides being happy about having some weight loss success, I feel great about a whole week of healthier foods. My overall nutrition has improved. Veggies and fruit, lean meat, fat free dairy, and whole grains are simple enough to manage. And this is the first time that I've done what's right for my body.

I've decided if I ever lose more than 4 pounds a week, I need to take in more food. If I lose less than 2 pounds, I need to take in less. At least until I get closer to my goal, when my weight loss will slow naturally. Eventually, I'll get around to upping the exercise to include more than yard work, too!

After my solid weigh-in, re-weigh, then acceptance procedure, I updated my Tickers' chart. Not the best chart, but my little weigh in dot is lower than ever!

Weight Chart


Ready for the super-secrets of this week's success?

1. Don't eat fast food. You don't want it that much, after all, and the points are too high to justify "just a bite." You will binge and then feel like crap.

2. Save your weekly points for the last day or two of the week. Don't squander those points on something you don't really crave! I had a brownie and some Grippos yesterday, and homemade sushi and fried rice earlier in the week. Those were my cravings. And saving the points gives you something to look forward to.

3. Eat whole foods when possible. I still have 10-ish applesauce pouches for emergencies. But I bought two bags of golden and red delicious apples. No bananas this week, just small apples. Two a day at work.

4. Buy frozen or fresh vegetables and fruit and justify eating the fresh ones first because you want to minimize waste. I have a head of lettuce that I bought to use on the refried beans and rice salad. I have bypassed Taco Bell at least twice because 1) I didn't wanna waste the lettuce, for which I'm often guilty and 2) My salad tastes better and is all Power Foods (zero guilt).

5. Limit your variety, but still have variety. I had baked veggies and chicken OR salmon, plus two apples, at work. At home, I ate oatmeal made with fat free milk for breakfast and the refried beans and rice salad OR the frozen stuffed pepper for late dinner. So it's more variety than the prior week and I feel better.

NOTE: I just realized that half the time or more, I accidentally ate a vegetarian meal: the refried beans and rice salad. I guess that helps, too! Hmmm. Suckered myself into that one, which is impressive, considering how glued to the Atkins diet I have been!

Next week, my challenge includes food at the Daniel Boone Festival, which had a rich heritage of celebration and old ladies dressing in cute pioneer costumes. Now, it's a silly carnival with "horrible" carnival food. I am trying to hold all my weekly points for a blooming onion and a funnel cake. Perhaps a gyro, as Susan insists. I doubt I can psychologically manage the baby sheep one, though...