Friday, December 30, 2011

RECIPE: Chicken and Pasta Soup

This is an update to my Chicken Soup recipe. I made it right this time, which is to say that my noodles didn't disintegrate. My inspiration? Waking up sick and having to stay home from work Thursday. I expect this soup to be miraculous. :) 


It ain't pretty, but it's tasty!
4 Chicken Breasts
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 box wheat pasta (I picked rotini)
Pepper, Ginger Powder, Italian Seasoning, Salt, Garlic Powder and Onion Powder

In slow cooker, cover chicken breasts with water (a few inches from the top of the cooker) and cook on HIGH until chicken is done. (It will sorta float!) This is the leave it until you smell it phase. I fished out the white squishy blobbies (technical term, folks!) with a fork. Tear apart chicken with two forks while still in broth. Or dirty a plate if you must. Add spices to taste, in the order they're listed, stirring chicken and broth. (I hold off on the salt as much as possible. I add a lot of pepper to cut through the cold. :D) Stir thoroughly. Add pasta and stir. Cook for about a half hour, stirring occasionally, until pasta can be easily cut with your stirring spoon but before it's gooey mush.

NOTE: I added Ginger on a whim, for it's good-health properties. And I can't really taste it much (can't taste much of anything at the moment) but it has added some extra good spiciness. I will add it to my broths from now on as the "What the heck is that good flavor?" ingredient. 

STYLE NOTE: Add celery and carrots if you must, early in the cooking process. I just didn't have any today. And other than aesthetics, the veggies don't entice me at all. With my cold, it's all about the chicken and broth. The noodles are just healthy carb filler. Adding anything else is just sneaky! :)

Sniffle-cough Cuddles,

Tamara, who gets frustrated when sick and does things like this instead of dosing up and sleeping

Thursday, December 29, 2011


A little late on this week's post. Today, I woke up with a cold, and feel bad, so you get the short, short version.

I weigh 279.4 today. Up about 6 pounds. Probably half water-weight, half new lard. :)

I ate sooo many good things that were bad for me. So many chocolate and peanut butter candies of different types! I did eat in moderation until the three day span of Christmas Eve, Day, and Day after, when I ate, ummm, heartily. The eating tapered off in the days hence, as the leftovers ran out.

Sick of junk food and holiday food. Making Power Foods meals for the rest of the week and beyond.

And here I am, eating chicken noodle soup. Sore throat. Runny nose. Lost voice. Hoping to feel like making some feel-good chicken and noodles later, as well as some salsa chicken with refried beans, rice and sour cream.



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

RECIPES: Venison

Now I should say I'm not a big fan of venison. The taste of wild deer, even when cooked "right" isn't my favorite thing. And I've eaten this critter in several forms-- jerky, steak, burger, AND stir fry. But it is very lean, therefore good for you, and if you disguise it just right... :D If you're brave, try my simple, very similar recipes and let me know how it goes! Don't worry. Bambi will forgive you!

4 Venison burgers (buy the meat, or get some FRESH from your father-in-law's recent kill!)
1/2 Green pepper, sliced
1/2 Sweet onion, sliced
Seasoning of choice (I chose Grippo's powder!)

Drain the burgers (lean meat = blood. Just sayin'!). Cook in skillet on low-medium heat until halfway cooked. (Just a few minutes, but I'm no expert!) Flip burgers. Dump in veggies among the cooked, ah, fat and juices (*grins awkwardly talking about blood again*). Stir fry veggies in and around the meat until onions gain some transparency. :) Turn up the heat. Flip the burgers. Liberally season one side and flip. Season remaining side and season vegetables. Flip burger. (Searing the sides a bit, to avoid the "boiled hamburger in the lunchline" look!) Move burgers to outside of pan to continue cooking. (I'd rather overcook a venison burger than under-cook it. Because it's ground meat, it doesn't become shoe leather like a steak!) Stir fry vegetables in center of pan until tender. Serve immediately. Tastes like... venison.
NOTE: Venison has a distinctive smell when you add heat. It's the "game-y" smell that only goes away with the addition of onions and peppers, in my experience. My hubby says that onion "draws the wild out of it." I think you're covering it up with another smell, and they're cancelling each other out. Almost as soon as the onions heat up, the smell will dissipate.


4 small venison steaks, cut into thin strips

1/2 Green pepper, sliced
1/2 Sweet onion, sliced
Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Rice wine vinegar
Sesame seeds
Prepared brown rice, optional

Rinse meat in water. Drain. Heat sesame oil in wok or skillet. Add venison and stir fry on medium-high heat. Add vegetables and stir fry until onions gain some translucency. Lower heat to medium. Add equal parts teriyaki and soy sauce to skillet (enough to thoroughly coat venison and vegetables, but not until there's standing liquid in the pan!). Stir until coated. Add a splash of vinegar to help deglaze the pan. Stir over medium heat until sauce thickens. It will incorporate with pan drippings to make a yummy thing! Sprinkle some sesame seeds over the whole thing. Serve over brown rice!

NOTE: Don't have a pic yet. But I like this recipe because you can insert your meat of choice and it'll turn out great! I usually make chicken this way, and have made pork and beef as well.



PROGRESS: Week 3, 100th Post!

Today I celebrate my 100th post with some positive progress and a little story about The Scale and I! Considering this is the week before Christmas and I've been making candy like crazy-- and only sampling tiny amounts-- it's a miracle I've gotten anywhere with it! But the period of time I'm calling "damage control" has yielded results:

Weight Last Week: 275.2
Weight This Week: 273.4

That's a difference of 1.8 pounds! With eating some of the candies for the babies of the peoples!

Good things I ate this week:

1. More turkey thin-bread sandwiches for lunch. Now I'm out of the bread, so I won't buy more.

2. Baked salmon for lunch once, breakfast a couple or three times. (Because the stink of it heating up for lunch that one time may have killed a few coworkers! :D So I made different lunches to replace those.) Pure protein goodness!

3. Power Foods Texas Hash from my recipes. With refried beans and melted Pepperjack cheese.

4. Stuffed peppers: cleared out my stock of frozen peppers so I didn't have to cook. Now will have to cook!

5. String cheese as snacks at work

6. A couple days of oatmeal with Sweet N Low and cinnamon. Meh. :)

Here are some things I did:

1. Avoided added salt.

2. Cooked Texas Hash and Salmon in advance.

3. Made sandwiches fresh each morning.

4. Measured portions for almost everything!

5. Snacked on candies in EXTREME moderation!

6. Kept busy with work or cleaning or creative pursuits. No time to idly eat!

Here are some things I plan to change this week:

1. Eat Christmas food on the day before, day of and day after, but not beyond. (No infinite leftovers!)

2. Pay more attention to the "full" feeling. Cut regular portion sizes accordingly.

3. A few rounds with an exercise video or two. Helps with health AND stress!


Back in the day, in fifth grade, the teacher did weigh-ins in front of class. Not officially public, but may as well have been. My number (on the first digital scale I ever remember seeing) was 188. I looked at her and her assistant. They looked at me. Some kids snickered. Forget the fact that I was the tallest, strongest kid in class, an Amazon in comparison to the little boys. That was the first time I saw my weight as a health problem.

Sure, I got picked on before that day for being the poor kid, the smart kid, the shy kid, the tall kid AND the fat kid in class. But Mamaw always told me, "It's just baby fat. You'll grow up and it'll all be gone." In almost the same breath she'd comment on how so-and-so was "as big as you are, Tamara!" or "even bigger than you!" (A practice she continued-- among other unsavory ones-- until I just vacated her presence a couple years ago. Permanently. With little regret. And only the briefest meetings since.)

Regardless of the other things she said which I knew were instigating crap, I was gullible. I believed that bit about baby fat until I saw 188 on the scale. Then the struggle started. But when you're not paying the bills, you eat what you're given, which was sufficient. I hit a growth spurt after this, too. I outgrew my long hair, which "shrank" from my hips up to my bra strap. Big Macs went on sale around that time. I'd eat two in a sitting, with fries and a shake. I can't do that now! But I was literally a growing young girl.

By eight grade, I was fatter, but the weight was stretched out on a longer frame (I ended up at 6ft eventually). After a few diets-- the Grapefruit diet (blech!) and Atkins, to name a couple-- I was still overweight. Going into high school, I weighed 212 pounds. Going into college, I weighed 223-ish. (I didn't gain the Freshman 15 because I walked everywhere. I may have lost weight...) Coming out of 5 years on my butt in customer service, I weighed 275. And coming out of my one and only year of full time teaching, during which I was sick for most of it, I weighed 300 pounds. And by the time I started this blog... ummm Monday, December 27, 2010, to be exact... I was fully unemployed for the first time in my adult life and down to 291 lb. And I was finally ready to take control of at least one area of my crumbly future: my weight!

I get different comments now when people ask my weight. "You don't look like you weigh that much." "You carry it well." I don't mind these as much. And if people know you're on a diet, they'll comment on how much weight you've lost. :) Even when you haven't. It's an attempt at encouragement that I would never discourage. Most people KNOW how hard it is to lose weight.

I can't see a weight change yet. Even in ten pounds, I may not notice. But I finally remembered why owning a digital scale made me feel a grain of hesitation, why it was so ingrained in me to buy one. A digital scale is where it all started-- the downfall and the climb back up. The number 188. I think I'll set that as Major Goal Number 2 when I knock off this 100 pounds. If I do that, I'll have come full circle. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

RECIPE: Simple Texas Hash

As a former Atkins dieter, I'm wrapping my head around this one slowly. It's got potatoes, for cryin' out loud! The no-no food of the low carb world is scary. But WW Power Foods include potatoes as a permitted "free food" vegetable. (And I have to cook the leftover potatoes I have, or they'll go to waste!) Lunch at school this week will alternate between this recipe, and my baked salmon recipe. Let's see if I can lose weight this week, under the influence of the evil potato!

This is before the meal is cooked completely, but it only got prettier!

1 lb lean ground beef
1 onion, sliced in slivers
3 medium to small potatoes, thinly sliced or diced
1 can Rotel tomatoes and chilis. Do not drain.
1 can tomato sauce
Salt, Pepper, Garlic to taste
Seasoned salt
Olive oil

Pepperjack Cheese, sliced thinly
Beans- Kidney or otherwise, drained
Fat free refried beans
Fat free sour cream

Brown lean beef over medium heat in a large pan. (Lean beef means you don't have to drain anything!) Move beef to outside of skillet and put some olive oil in center of pan. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic in the oil. Dump in onions and stir until hot and aromatic. Pile in potatoes. Sprinkle them with seasoned salt. Cover and heat through. Stir the whole mess together. Add Rotel, liquid and all (this may have been a mistake, since I don't like my food TOO spicy-hot!). Stir into the mess. Add tomato sauce, stirring again. Simmer on low, covered, stirring occasionally until potatoes are tender. I let it go for about forty minutes without a problem. (I forgot it a lot, too!)

Serve topped with a slice of Pepperjack cheese, with refried beans and sour cream on the side... Or stirred in.

NOTE: My taste-test said this was spicy hot, a little more so than I go for usually. But other than the heat, it's pretty bland. Feel free to play with the spices and let me know how it goes!

STYLE NOTE: I have noticed that when eating only Power Foods, I like to make meals with chunky ingredients to keep it texturally interesting. You could dice the potatoes really small so they'd cook faster and look more like traditional hash, but you'll lose the visual appeal! :)


Top: Slabs of baked salmon, Bottom: Simple Texas Hash, beans and cheese!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



I skipped out on that doctor consultation today. Sleep has been too rare, almost as rare as my desire to pay the guy a copay to tell me what I already knew. :)

So I did my own weigh-in today. I'm at 275.2 lb today, which means it's holding steady, and that's just fine by me for this week. I checked my blood pressure the other day, and all numbers were within healthy ranges. I even got a 70-something on my diastolic number (if that's the bottom one).  

I didn't lose weight this week, probably because of my little novel-finishing celebration of Wendy's chili, a garden salad... and a small chocolate Frosty! I've also eaten chocolate every day this week, and one Arby's breakfast involving ice water, tater-hash-brown things, and a MUCH larger breakfast wrap than I expected (two servings-- breakfast and breaktime!). I also made Chicken and Dumplings for Brandon (clearly not permitted as Power Foods) and ate that for dinner for a couple days. Add a McDouble dressed like a Mac and a McChicken, plus one large sweet tea at some point, and that just about rounds out my week!
UPDATE PIC: My Celebration Meal

Here are some good things I ate this week:
UPDATE PIC: Those weird sandwiches. I ate two. I was really hungry!

1. Lunch at Work: Teriyaki Chicken (just add soy, teriyaki, and sesame seeds to chicken breast cooked in sesame oil) and Chicken Parmesan (I just made the stuffing for my Chicken Parmesan Peppers). Less than one and a half cups per serving. Three pounds of chicken spread over five servings. Around 6 bucks. 

2. Snacks at work: Materne GoGoSqueez AppleCinnamon Applesauce, to which I am addicted but intentionally ran out. And light string cheese sticks. Mmmm...

3. Fat Free deli Turkey on low-fat, thin wheat sandwich rounds. Added some thinly sliced pepperjack cheese, onion, and lite mayo.

4. A baked potato with fat-free cream cheese, lite butter spray (blech!), and Grippo's powder spice, AKA ambrosia of the gods.

5. Fat free milk over Kashi GoLean Crunch, of which I have no more.

Here are some things I did:

1. Exercise bands at work, between calls, a couple days.

2. Avoided salt, except for a few pickle slices and olives. And the Grippo's powder.

3. Cooked and prepared all lunches from work in advance for the entire week.

Here are some things I plan to change this week:

1. Eat oatmeal with Sweet-N-Low and cinnamon instead of the Kashi cereal. Even if I do a double helping, it'll cut my breakfast calories and carbs significantly.

2. Polish off those last four sandwich rounds, and probably not get more! :D

3. Keep string cheese as a snack; avoid buying the crack known as GoGoSqueez applesauce! 

In doing the above, I'm cutting sugary carbs and upping protein. I didn't have much of a problem with low blood sugar like last week, so it's time to start reducing my carb intake as well. 


After acknowledging the many ironies in my life here,, I realized that I've finally developed the right mentality for becoming a healthier person. The big secret? I have promised myself to try AND do. Trying doesn't get you anywhere unless accomplishing follows. Or as Yoda says, "Do or do not, there is no try!" So what do I do when I have a snack or off-plan meal? I just barrel ahead, forgetting my failures and picking up where I left off at the next meal or snack. Obvious, right? But it's not always been easy for me. But here's why it BECAME easy:

If the Almighty Creator God of the entire universe can forgive me and erase my many sins from the face of all existence, then I must 1) forgive myself a slip up AND 2) try not to make it worse. In all areas, including my Health Overhaul. That's it! It got personal and spiritual. Letting go of the do-it-all attitude is hard to do. But I'm practicing not drowning, one meal at a time!



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PROGRESS: A New Week 1

Last time, I said that I'd just restart my weeks-counting, since I'm technically rebooting my program this week anyway. So here goes: I'll just post new progress posts under shiny new week headings... again! At first I was discouraged with having to do a new start. Then a good, cuddly friend of mine reminded me that it's not going under water that drowns you, it's STAYING under water. So as long as I keep resurfacing, I'm okay! :)

Now, the progress part: 

I had a routine exam today, and I'll have the doctor consultation/progress check next week.

Blood Pressure: 139/106 
Heart Rate: 81 bpm
In-Office Weight: 284.4
At-Home Weight: 280

Blood Pressure: 139/90 (Down more, but not enough yet)
Heart Rate: 71 bpm (Pretty good)
In-Office Weight: 279.2
At-Home Weight: 275 point something

BP and Heart Rate are lower, which is good. No wrath-of-the-nurse fell upon my head!
I've lost 4-ish pounds in a week, which is good for my morale.


1. Stuck close to the Simply Filling program. My previous post's peppers have served me well as lunch at work! I ate a boiled egg with some salt for my first break, and my Materne GoGoSqueez Apple Sauce with Cinnamon on 2nd break, cuz I'm a big kid now. :D My blood sugar bottomed out the first couple days at work because I guess I cut out too much too quickly, so I dosed with Cheez-its and extra applesauce until I felt better. I also bought low-fat thin-buns that are whole wheat as vehicles for my fat-free deli meats. 

2. Deviated intelligently, when possible. I ate some chocolate every day. Plus Cheez-its. I ate Wendy's chili on a garden salad with a baked chive-and-sour-cream potato. All but the chili is "allowed". After the blood sugar drop, I picked up some Kashi Go Lean Crunch to replace my leftover Crunch Berries. 

3. Focused on lean protein, fat-free dairy, some veggies and some fruit. Didn't do the full-on veggie bake side dish to go with my peppers at work. 

4. Measured portions with actual measuring utensils. Or used pre-measured portions (like the applesauce). No eyeballin' here! Moderation only works for me when I just don't put it on my plate!

5. Light exercise. I took my exercise bands to work and got in some light stretching and strength training to all my major muscle groups over the course of 2 hours or so-- in between calls-- the first day! :) I noticed a mood improvement. I was calmer, less antsy, more relaxed and less easily irritated. I wasn't as likely to yawn, either. I felt more alert. The second day, I did my short 15lb weights routine on my arms, chest, back and legs before work, and some abs/cardio with the bands at work. (Hey! I was by myself, and it was kinda slow going! I had to amuse myself...) Chair exercises are comical, but they get the job done!

6. Used very little salt and paid attention to when my blood pressure spiked. (At work, stressful callers, annoying coworker habits, etc.) And then I tried to calm it down instead of let it fester. Deep breathing and such!

7. Drank tons of water, while at work. When I've got nothing better to do, I should be drinking water, I decided. 

CONCLUSIONS: I've felt better for longer this week. I've subconsciously and consciously leaned toward healthier food choices. I've shopped intelligently. I have some type of permitted food on hand at all times so I don't stray. It feels easier this time...


Saturday, December 3, 2011

RECIPES: Chicken Parmesan Peppers and Tomato Beef Peppers

I'll confess: I'm addicted to the stuffed pepper dinner (or lunch, or breakfast) for a variety of reasons. Other than yumminess, I love the portion-sized convenience of it. I love a ready-made container that I can eat. I love that, with few exceptions, I can make them with all Power Foods. I love that they're freezable and nuke-able and that I can make them in large batches that will last for days. They're cheap to make for the number of servings I get. And that I sneak in vegetables without minding all that much! I'm even thinking about some venison peppers later on. (Brandon's dad sent fresh venison our way this hunting-holiday season!) Also considering making some deer jerky, if I can bring myself to it. :) Don't know how the leanest meat in KY will taste in a stuffed pepper, but I should be able to come up with something...

UPDATE: A pic, in my lunch container!

2 Red (or other color) Bell Peppers, prepared and slit vertically
1 lb Chicken Breast, cut into 1in cubes
1 c Pizza sauce (low sodium, if you can)
1/4 to 1 whole small onion, sliced vertically into thin strips
2 tbs Olive oil
Italian Seasoning, Garlic Powder
4 slices Mozzarella cheese, fat free or low fat
Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup chopped pepperoni (optional, depending on points allowances)

Preheat oven to 350. Gut and rinse Bell Pepper halves and arrange in casserole dish. If you don't use glass, line the pan with foil. If your peppers won't stand up, prop them with small rolls of aluminum foil. Cram 1 slice fat free mozzarella cheese or 1/4 cup shredded cheese in pepper. Heat oil in pan on medium heat. Cover chicken in pan until sizzling. Pan fry chicken in olive oil, stirring frequently after the first few minutes. When chicken is done, add pizza sauce and stir. Then throw in onion, pepperoni and spices, stir. When sauce is hot and thickened, turn off heat. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Spoon high into peppers, pressing down with the back of the spoon. Pour in water bath halfway up the sides of the pepper for even baking. Add some salt to the water bath. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 350. When peppers wrinkle at the tops, they're soft and done!

NOTE: I didn't freeze these. They were just too good. Plus, I didn't know how the chicken and sauce would hold up in the freezer. I didn't want to mess up the texture. If you try freezing them, maybe add more sauce to keep the chicken from drying out in the process.

UPDATE: Unfrozen, just nuke for 4 minutes. Sprinkle some Parmesan on top first.

NOTE 2: Points, spread across 4 servings, are negligible.


4 Bell Peppers, cleaned and halved as above
1 lb lean ground beef
1 can Rotel, drained (mild to hot... whatever you want!)
1 can Tomato sauce
1 small onion, roughly chopped
Italian seasoning and seasoned salt
1/2 cup crushed crackers
3 tbs ketchup

Preheat oven to 350. Gut and rinse Bell Pepper halves and arrange in casserole dish. If you don't use glass, line the pan with foil. If your peppers won't stand up, prop them with small rolls of aluminum foil. Cram 1 slice fat free mozzarella cheese or 1/4 cup shredded cheese in pepper. Combine all other ingredients with your hands in a large bowl, making sure that beef is thoroughly broken up and integrated. Mixture will be very soupy compared to my other recipes because of the amount of tomato products. Split beef mixture among all peppers, pressing into all nooks and crannies. I just used my already-icky hands. Pour in water bath halfway up the sides of the pepper for even baking. Add some salt to the water bath. Bake for 1.5 hours at 350. Pepper edges should be wrinkly and cut easily with a fork.

NOTE: FREEZING: I didn't freeze these, because they're lunch for work this week. But if you do... Remove from water bath and cool at room temperature. Wrap completely in aluminum foil. Then refrigerate for an hour or more. Place in freezer bags and freeze. I can place several peppers in a gallon-sized bag and just grab what I need. REHEATING: If frozen, microwave on HIGH for 5-7 minutes. If not frozen, microwave on HIGH 3-4 minutes.

NOTE 2: Points, spread across 8 servings, are negligible. I actually only made four pepper halves out of this recipe, intended to buy more peppers and didn't, and ended up wasting a little under half the mixture. Shame on me!