Happy Pinning!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nothing but a great dinner recipe!

Hey Y'all, I promised to cook more and I am going to keep that promise! Tonight after a LONG day working at the hospital, nothing sounded simpler than this recipe from Real Simple magazine.  Remember when I brought you this recipe showing you how to use rotisserie chicken to speed dinner along.  Let's do that again shall we? 

Gingery Peanut Noodles

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 12 ounces spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 English cucumber chopped
  • 2 scallions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (chopped) 

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and return it to the pot.
  2. In a blender, combine 1 cup water with the peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and ginger. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add the peanut mixture, chicken, bell pepper, cucumber, cilantro and scallions to the pasta pot and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with the peanuts.
If you divide this in 8 servings they are 10 pts each if you would rather do an extra large portion and do 6 servings they are 12 pts each!

It was peanut buttery deliciousness and you should have seen my girls devouring this, I bet they had thirds each!!
Then this recipe brings up a tip I wanted to share, I used to be constantly buying this:

 This ugly little guy you have seen in the grocery store is called ginger root. I LOVE fresh ginger and I was always buying these guys and using a microplaner to mince it into recipes but inevitably I wouldn't need it all and then the rest of the root would get moldy, or I heard you could freeze the root and use that way but mine was so frozen it became like a ginger icicle and just didn't taste right.  So one day I am walking through my friendly neighborhood Meijers and I see this: 

Fresh ginger, already minced in a tube that comes out like paste!  This is the kind of thing that makes me so happy people!  Check out this link here for Gourmet Gardens website, they have tons of these tubes they make and they give what looks like great recipes and ideas for using their products.

Well if you are noticing ginger and cilantro are also on that list of flavors I use a lot.  This recipe didn't originally have cilantro, that was my addition.  If you are a ginger/cilantro fan give this a try, your kids can thank me later!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Parties, Pizza and Parfaits, Oh My!

I went to bed last night dreading tomorrows weigh-in so much.  This week had seemed to get away from me and even though I did my best to count the points of every single thing that went in my mouth sometimes in some situations that amounts to a big fat guess! Take for instance the first P of today's post -  Parties.  We had a major holiday this week, Easter.  What did Easter bring, big buckets of candy sitting around my house and Sunday all you can eat brunch buffet with family.   While I had to do a lot of guessing (did my dollop of mashed potatoes look like about 3/4 cup?) or estimating (are all types of balsamic vinaigrette's made alike?) I still managed to come up with an estimate for my Easter dinner and I kept myself to one plate.  However when I came home and calculated this I had managed to use a large portion of my weekly points (which usually I hardly ever use).  After I made it through Sunday I still had other reasons to have a sense of foreboding about today's weigh-in.  First there is the candy, although I counted carefully every point of candy I consumed.  I don't know if that is exactly the right way to end every day using your point allowance leftover on these "empty calories."  Also we had such a busy week rushing around I had (for shame) Pizza hut twice this week and McDonalds and Arby's and even Kraft Mac n' Cheese (don't get me started on this one today!).  Nice.  This is why you haven't heard from me much, I haven't been cooking!!! Again I worked hard to count all those points but really can you eat these foods and still manage to lose weight?  I don't think that is exactly what they had in mind!   Well I am here to tell you that....YOU CAN! I prayed that I would at least break even when I stepped on the scale, I wasn't ready to suffer the blow of GAINING weight.  And lo and behold I lost approx 1 more pound.  I am just shy of 12 lbs now.  So I am here to tell you, you can survive parties.  I am sure being aware of how much I was planning to eat and counting every point despite worrying if they weren't the best use of my points helped me not just mindlessly eat with no awareness of what I was doing. 

This brings me to my next P....Pizza!  Although sometimes nothing hits the spot like a warm ooey, gooey greasy piece of pepperoni pizza.  After a cold miserable day in the garage during my Mom's garage sale (my mom is a trooper, she did two full days and I only did part of one day) we had a pepperoni pizza delivered to us in the garage and man it really hit the spot.  However, I was super interested in a recipe from my California Pizza Kitchen cookbook for Greek Pizza.  This yummy pie was packed with lots of fresh veggies and good for you proteins so although not much less in points then the regular greasy pizza I know this really is better for you by the merits of the fresh ingredients.  As an added bonus I was at Costco this week and they had a HUGE container of premade tzatziki so I didn't have to make that from scratch.  Man I love Costco!  Anyways this pizza is what was for dinner tonight, italics are my modifications

California Pizza Kitchen's Greek Pizza


  • 1 pkg whole wheat pizza crust boboli
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 2 medium tomatoes 
  • 2 small cans sliced black olives (for authentic Greek I would typically use kalamata olives but my kids can't handle those and they love black olives so I stuck with black, which I like too!)
  • This was my addition but I took 6 large artichoke hearts and chopped them coarsely and threw them in the salad 
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 2 chicken breasts, seasoned, grilled and chopped (they recommend buying Greek seasoning however they only had one on the shelf at the store and it was of course full of MSG so I used italian seasoning -- yea Mrs Dash! -- and added a little extra oregano and garlic and of course some salt and pepper) 
  • 2 cup finely shredded mozzarella
  • 3/4 cup tzatziki sauce (I highly recommend trying to find prepared, then I just added a little feta to mine and mint leaves)
  • 2 tsp Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • pinch each of salt, pepper and oregano


Preheat Oven to 450*.

Greek Salad Topping: Mix together Lemon Juice, Oregano, Vinegar, Sugar, Garlic, Salt, Pepper and Oil. Dice Cucumber, Artichokes, Green Onion and Tomatoes and Toss in Lemon Juice Mixture along with Feta and Olives.

Add  mozzarella cheese and cooked chicken to crust and bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into 8 pieces.

Top pizza with greek salad topping. Drizzle with 1/2 Tzatziki Sauce and sprinkle parsley over pizza.  Serve with the rest of the sauce on the side.

For 8 pieces they are 6 pts each (although I ended up with a little of the salad mixture left over - nice little side salad tomorrow night!) so I say have a couple pieces with all those veges and that greek yogurt in the sauce and the grilled chicken - yummy and nutritious!

The last P is parfait and I want to share a yummy little treat that I learned from the hungry girl, it makes a delicious treat for an afternoon snack or for breakfast of if you are having an early morning Princess Party to celebrate the royal wedding as shown here:

(Don't judge me, it was 8 am and I was being festive for my girls!)

Anyways I learned this little treasure watching Hungry Girls show and it sounded too good and I have tried it several times mixing and matching the yogurts and fresh fruits as I see fit.  It is named after a very popular sandwich and I thought it would be both pretty and yummy (plus when you have little Princesses in the house the word Parfait just sounds exciting, I know Fancy Nancy would approve!) Here it is...

The PB&J Parfait

One 6-oz. container fat-free strawberry yogurt (like the kind by Yoplait Light)
1/2 cup chopped strawberries (about 3 large strawberries)
1/4 cup peanut butter cereal with 3g fat or less per serving (like Cap'n Crunch's Peanut
Butter Crunch)
1 tsp. peanut butter chips, chopped up so you get tiny bits in every bite!
Optional: additional strawberries

Spoon half of the yogurt into a parfait glass (or any glass).
Top with half of the strawberries, followed by half of the cereal and half of the chips.
Continue layering with remaining yogurt, strawberries, cereal, and chips. Serve with
additional strawberries (or not; your call). Dig in!
HG FYI! Find the peanut butter chips in the baking aisle of the market.

(I have tried several fruit mixtures like I said but my favorite so far is the one in my picture with fresh raspberries and raspberry yogurt but I guess maybe that's because I like raspberry jelly on my PB&J's best! The kids dig for the Captain Crunch cereal and the PB chips!)

This super yummy satisfying treat - 5 pts, dig in!

So those are my three P's for the day! Today was also a beautiful sunny day which adds to the list words like Pleasant and Perfect! I hope yours was too.  Promising to cook more this week and hoping to bring you some more exercises too! See you soon!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Fun Continues!

Another fun filled day of Easter festivities! I just looked up all the pt values for the candy we have in the house and posted it on the fridge, now if I want a little treat I know exactly how many I can grab and I count everything and not cheat! I wanted to share two quick healthy ideas for maintaining traditional Easter fun!

First let's talk jelly beans.  Who doesn't love them and with delicious brands like Jolly Rancher and Starbursts and of course Jelly Belly's it's hard to resist handfuls of these fruity treats.  Well I propose to you a healthier option where you can eat a whole bowl for very little guilt!  Introducing.....

Jell-O Beans!

There is always room for Jell-O after all and a whole bowlful of Jell-O is less than a tiny handful of jellybeans so eat up! It takes a half hour per color and we used a medicine syringe to fill the mold and it was pretty easy!

The other healthier option involves one of my favorite Easter treats.  After you and your kids do this:

You may be wondering, "What am I going to do with all these eggs!?"
Well Easter is not complete, to me, without these little devils!

But usually made with fattening mayo they would not have been great in the point department.  One easy swap, use fat free Greek yogurt instead of mayo and you have protein powerhouses that are only one pt each.  And feel free to use what ever spices/flavor/garnishes you prefer! I love that I can stay true to the holiday traditions, have such fun with my kids and still eat things I love.  Tonight I am having a few deviled eggs and a big bowl of Jell-O beans! Enjoy everyone, Happy Easter.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fish on Good Friday!

OK OK I know this is a bit much, two entries in one day! What can I say, I am blog happy! We had fish tonight, it seemed like the right thing to do it being Good Friday and all.  So before I show the yummy recipe I have to tell you a cute anecdote.  Today we were driving in the car and my two year old was hysterical for a drink so we stopped at a gas station and my husband bought a thing of apple juice for my kids to split. The little one had hers in a sippy cup and my five year old got the rest of the bottle. So my oldest was drinking it for a few minutes and quietly looking at the bottle and she suddenly said "How many grams in this one Mom?" I smirked and asked "What do you mean? (already guessing what she meant)" and she said "you know, you and dad are always reading these numbers and talking about grams" so I took the bottle and read her the four numbers involved in WW pts (carbs, fat, protein and fiber) and she asked what it meant then my 2 year old thrusts her sippy cup at me "Read mine Momma, my turn, read my cup, read it to me" I started to tell her, her cup didn't have words but she had a "won't take no for an answer" face so I read the same numbers while looking at her cup which seemed to satisfy her. Then when we were at home I heard my little one ask her big sister to"read my cup to me". Then as I was cooking my five year old comes in hands on her hips and comes up to me and says "Mom how come you used to be regular, you know normal, and now you are always reading the packages of everything we eat!" This was so funny and gave me the opportunity to explain to her that I am working hard at making sure we eat the right foods so we are all healthy. Had to share it was so funny! Apparently I'm not normal anymore! Was I ever??? Anyways here is tonight's delicious fish dinner. 

Salmon with Orange Fennel Sauce
Once again from the lovely Cooking Light's Dinner Tonight cookbook
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange rind
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add fish. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes, turning once.
  • Prepare broiler.
  • Remove fish from bag, reserving marinade. Place fish, skin sides down, on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
  • Bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Serve sauce with fish.
They (and we) paired it with rice pilaf and sauteed snow peas.  So good! I try to eat fish as often as possible because everyone always recommends it and I happen to love salmon.  Orange, rosemary and fennel just sounded like such a yummy combo and it was.  I turned it into 6 servings of 4 oz instead of 4 servings of 6 oz.  You know what that means??? Only 4 pts per serving (6 if you want to do the bigger piece of salmon)! Crazy and it tasted so good.  If you don't like salmon I am sure this would taste good with any type of fish.  Or maybe with pork if you don't like fish at all. 

That's all I wanted to share, my recipe and a funny story from my kids! I hope you all had a great Good Friday and took some time to ponder the sacrifice the "Fisher of Men" who gave His life for each of us! Glory to God! Talk to you tomorrow....

I promised you a breakfast delight...

...And here it is!  OK so I have to report first that I lost just over a pound this week, so I am trucking along  having lost over 11 lbs, slow and steady wins the race (although we all would adore quick and easy wouldn't we?) It's Easter weekend (lets see if I survive chocolate temptations but I know I can, I am loving the feeling of success to much to ruin it now!) and we always like to have a fun breakfast around our house, especially with Daddy having Friday off.  I always like to celebrate holidays and special occasions with my family with special meals.  There is something about celebration that equals food.  But seriously with kiddos I am always trying to make special memories so I don't want to give that up just because I also want better health for us. 

Lately I am totally obsessed with the Hungry Girl, have you heard of her? Here she is with her cartoon alter ego:

Her main goal in life is to make food as good for you as possible so you can eat more of it.  Her show is ultra-cheesy but she has so many great ideas that she grows on you.  My husband was shopping and he picked up a cereal that she uses a lot in her recipes for me and it had her cartoon picture on it and my 5 year old was like, "Hey, it's hungry girl!" She's been watching the show with me obviously.  Anyways she always attaches the WW points to her recipes which is awesome for me.  This week she did a breakfast episode of her show and it featured something called Cannoli-Stuffed French Toast! Are you kidding me, who doesn't want a cannoli for breakfast and you are telling me it's only 6 weight watchers points for four pieces including syrup and fruit topping! Count me in! So without further ado....

Cannoli-Stuffed French Toast Nuggets

this recipe is for one whole serving, I multiplied it by four
and made a serving for each of us,
each serving (4 nuggets) are 6 pts, amazing right!


  • 3 tablespoons fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 no-calorie sweetener packet
  • 1 light hot dog bun (about 80 calories)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons light whipped butter or light buttery spread
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • Sugar-free pancake syrup, for topping, optional
  • Fresh fruit for topping (we used strawberries and bananas)


In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, chocolate chips, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and sweetener, and mix well.

Split hot dog bun open lengthwise, without fully separating the 2 halves. Spoon ricotta mixture onto the bottom half of the bun. Gently press the top 1/2 down over the filling. Carefully slice into 4 "nuggets."

Mix egg substitute, cinnamon, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in a small bowl. Set aside.

Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Add butter and allow to coat the bottom of the skillet. Meanwhile, coat each nugget on all sides with the egg mixture. (You won't need to use all of the egg mixture.)

Once butter has melted, place nuggets in the skillet and, flipping occasionally, cook until golden brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes.

Plate your nuggets and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Top with syrup, if using. Enjoy!

With ricotta chocolate filling oozing out and strawberry banana topping and small drizzle of splenda syrup this was incredible and felt so decadent.  I paired it with a protein option that will be very helpful in getting good for you sausage for breakfast:

Jennie-O and another home run, sausages that are one point each! Awesome, thank you very much I'll take two!

So we had an amazing yummy breakfast and not only am I eating food that is better for me, I am not teaching my kids horrible habits and we still had a fun Good Friday celebratory breakfast.  And it was Oh So Good and pretty, next time you have to put on a breakfast try this sneaky recipe and everyone will ooh and ahh! Don't thank me, thank Hungry Girl!! Happy Good Friday everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


OK so on the days I work I get to the end of the day and I barely had any time to eat so I got home late tonight and my hubby made me some of his Ah-maz-ing scrambled eggs! Ridiculously good, he has a gift!! So anyways I still had 16 pts left over, what to eat? Hmmmmm.....

How about my most favorite recipe of all time! I whipped up a batch of my unbelievable yummy:

Black Bean Avocado Salsa!

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans sweet fiesta corn with red and green peppers, drained and rinsed
4 medium avocados, diced
4 tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 handfuls of mini colored peppers diced (see pic below)
6 scallions, sliced
1 cup cilantro (can you ever really have enough?)
1/2 cup vinegar
2 packets good seasons Italian salad dressing mix (not "clean" but this stuff makes it taste extra yummy!)
3 capfuls of lime juice
Salt, pepper, garlic salt, Mrs Dash's Fiesta Lime and tabasco to taste

In case you haven't seen these before they are cute and delicious:

While I am on the subject, I don't know who Mrs Dash is but she rocks! Have you seen all these flavors???
These things are great! Salt-free, MSG-free, they add incredible flavor, I have like 5 of these in my cupboards at this moment and you should too, you won't be disappointed!

And my scrumptious salsa, 3/4 cup for 4 pts! Pair that with your chips! Ahh this hits the spot!! And I still have 9 pts left!! I think I may have some chocolate!

Can't wait to talk to you guys tomorrow about our amazing breakfast! I don't want to spoil the surprise but how would you like to have a rich Italian dessert for breakfast.......See you in the am!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring pasta's ala Giada

Who doesn't love Giada De Laurentiis and all her Italian flair she brings to her cooking shows and recipes.  Makes me wish I was a little more ethnic! I would just settle for being able to say things with her perfect Italian pronunciation.  What can I say, I have accent envy! You know what else I envy??? Nice weather, spring, sunshine, flowers, walks outside, the list goes on and on.  Instead of March coming in like a lion and going out the like a lamb, the lion went crazy, trampled the lamb and is bull-dozing it's way right through April.  Snow, sleet, rain and hail, oh my! Michigan is such a crazy state of unpredictable weather.  In fact as I type this our house is being pelted and our porch is full of pea-size hail.  Sigh.   Well as much as we are trying to be patient waiting for Spring I know that we can at least have Spring in our kitchens and on our dinner plate.  Giada recently did a Spring Pasta bit on the Today show and demonstrated three pasta dishes with Spring flavors.  I love me some pasta and my girls literally can't get enough of it.  I especially enjoy when I can still get these comforting carb foods I love and have them be light and healthy.  With a few minor adjustments by yours truly I can make her recipes a little more WW friendly and I am in pasta heaven.  I am going to attempt to make and share all three with you, I did the first one this week.  My changes are in italics.

Shrimp with avocado arugula pesto linguine

  • 1 pound linguine pasta (make it whole wheat baby!)
  • 2 medium avocados (about 12 ounces total), halved, peeled and seeded
  • 3 cups (3 ounces) baby arugula leaves
  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves (about 1 ounce)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 large limes) + 3 Tbsp bottled lime juice + lime zest
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see note) Or I used pine nuts, 1 Tbsp per dish
  • 1 pound shrimp or you could use chicken
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Place in a serving bowl.
To make the pesto, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh from the avocados and place the avocado in a food processor. Add the arugula, basil, lime juice, garlic, zest, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Add a little salt pepper and garlic to your shrimp or chicken and grill until cooked.
Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss together. Add the cheese and shrimp (or chicken) to pasta and toss again. Top with toasted almonds or pine nuts.
Note: To toast the almonds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350-degree F oven for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.

Serving Size
4 to 6 servings. I made it 7 servings because the box of pasta said it had 7 servings in it.  Prep time: 8 minutes. Cook time: 8 to 10 minutes.

I added the extra garlic, lime juice and zest because I had already read a review that said it could use a little more and I agreed.  I added shrimp because my husband refuses to eat a vegetarian meal and I love him so I add meat to things to keep him happy (and I love shrimp so yea!) My girls go nuts for the creamy goodness of avocados and let's face it so do I so obviously I was drawn to this recipe, it's a great twist on pesto for me and did have the spring flair that I was wishing for.  Thanks Giada, you Italian cooking diva!  The best news was it was a lovely dinner of 7 servings for 12 pts each serving and I made this beauty to go with it....

A beautiful fruit salad!
(No cantaloupe - another way I show love to my man!)

Big beautiful colorful bowl full for only 1 pt because I added a little sugar to the fruit to get the juices flowing. 

It may seem more like delayed winter outside but in our house we will celebrate Spring! Hope this pasta can add a little spring to your step today!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Open Heart: Attempt #2

I am going to try this again.  For those of you who felt spoken to by what I wrote originally I am glad if what I said struck a chord for you but I think I will try again to say my feelings in a way that may not be misinterpreted. 

I have HUGE insecurity issues and going to the mall brings those out.  So generally I try to avoid shopping.  I know that I have a problem and I can't coerce others to change, I can only work on changing myself.  I will not single handedly be able to keep designers from charging outrageous prices for things because of a label, nor will I be able to single handedly be able to soften the hearts of people who look down on others by appearance.  Some of those experiences have been real and others I acknowledge were my insecure mind running away with me and believing others thought the worst of me. What I can change is my own heart and I am trying to do that.  I do not intend for my blog to seem self-absorbed or my vulnerable heart to be selfish.  It's hard to change without being introspective and it's hard to be introspective without it becoming slightly self-involved.  I am reading Beth Moore's book So Long Insecurity (I know, do I need that or what?) Right in the middle she has a long prayer that you are to read out loud to God with blanks throughout it to personalize to your particular situation.  It is almost 8 pages long and talk about an emotional cleansing.  I have read through it several times and it takes a lot out of me, it strikes multiple major chords with me.  I knew I needed to read it again today.  As I did the end of the prayer perhaps better summarized what I was trying to say yesterday, of how I need to change:

Lord, please restore to my soul all that insecurity has stolen from me.  Overturn every single thing the enemy meant for evil into something good.  Perform a miracle on me, Lord.  Cover me with Your trustworthy hand.  Clothe me with strength and dignity.  Transform what drives me.  Quell what triggers me.  Make me a courageous woman in this harrowing culture.  One who refuses to be reduced and defined by the media.  Help me to make concious decisions about whether or not the cost of what they're selling is worth buying. Give me the discernment to call a lie a lie.  Make me the kind of woman a little girl could follow to dignity and security.  I actively and deliberately receive - and vow to keep receiving - everything that I have requested in Your will this day. 

This is a better summary of the battle raging inside of me.  And hopefully it is able to be interpreted as a humble and contrite spirit that is not passing judgement but trying to change.  I want to be able to give back to the world in God's name and quite honestly I have been living so long as a broken vessel that I seriously doubt that my contribution has been great.  I am mad at myself for missed opportunities, for the chances I have wasted feeling sorry for myself and believing lies.  I know where those attacks come from whether internal or external and they are not of God. 

I really just want to move past the darkness of today and hope for lighter days tomorrow.  I made dinner for my family, it was a recipe I was hoping to share.  I don't know if it really wasn't great or if I just couldn't enjoy it today.  I will re-evaluate later and share it if it is worthwhile. I am holding to the claim that I am a work in progress.  I am sorry for those times I don't get it right.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Go Urban!!!

Happy Friday everyone! Guess who lost 2.5 lbs and crossed over my first 10 lb mark! Yea! I hope if you are embarking on a health journey with me you are having success too.  I would love to hear about it!   I have some goals for the next week and I am excited to share them with you as I work through them along with fun new recipes.  But today I want to talk about going urban! My in-laws live near Detroit and for our big Spring Break outing we went over to visit them.  On Saturday we went to the Eastern Market (If you live nearby and you have never been, go! It is so awesome and huge.  It reminds me of the one in Seattle that I had occasion to visit when my sis and bro-in-law lived there) There are tables of delicious fruits and veges as far as the eye can see, tables and tables of flowers (and it was early yet, I only imagine this will get more expansive for weeks to come), potted plants, herbs, homemade honey, homemade oils and all sorts of cool ethnic treasures.  Then there are the non naturals, the clothes and jewelry, etc.  The sights and sounds are great and make you feel like you are part of the big urban jungle.  Here are a few of my pics:

A glimpse of the masses

My girls got to meet a mounted police officer and his horse Elmo, they were very excited!

After we left there we went to my favorite restaurant in the world Pegasus in Greektown! Here we are! (My husband does excited eyes well doesn't he! We looked at the camera and he said "Do you want to take another one where I am not being a dork?" and I said, "Let's just keep it, it's more true to your nature this way!" He agreed and called me a dork lover. It's true!)

Love those Greeks, lots of good for you food, hummus and tzatziki with some flat bread yum yum, rice and green beans and lamb in tomato sauce, to die for! And then there are some maybe not so good foods for you that you can't pass up -- it's tradition! Flaming cheese called saganaki - Ah-maz-ing! OPA!!!! By the time we left, opa was the girls favorite word they said it over and over all day.  The first time my little one saw the flaming cheese it was right over her shoulder and the look of terror on her face was priceless but as she saw it happening again and again throughout the restaurant she started to love it! Opa! (don't try this at home please!)

From here we boarded the people mover - gotta love the people mover!
(Go Tigers!) (We even saw a musical artist filming a music video on the people mover with a little film crew, you don't get that everyday in suburbia!)

 We rode around twice and got out at the Ren Cen (that's Renaissance Center for those of you not familiar with Motown, it's like Detroit's Sears Tower) and walked around.  If your kids like escalators there is some good free fun for you, the building is a vortex of endless escalators I bet we went up and down 25 escalators and my little one yelled "Again! Again! Do it again!" after every one.  Then we went outside and strolled by the boardwalk by the Detroit River, caught a glimpse of the Canadians (Hello over there!!!), stretched our legs.  Detroit has such a bad rap but there are many hidden treasures like this, people were riding bikes and walking and jogging.  There was classical music being pumped out on loud speakers.  It was very nice.  Then we took our loyal people mover back and went home. 

What I learned from this adventure, I love going urban.  I don't think I am the type of girl who could do it permanently.  For starters I hate the traffic, I am a total stress ball in that mess and the fact that it takes 20 min of planning for anywhere you want to go to determine the best possible route given the time, day, etc. No thank you! But getting out and having these experiences on a regular basis is so fun and important for your family, great for your kids to experience new sights and sounds and cultures.  Also good exercise, we walked a ton!  The other thing I decided is that I want to be better at hitting farmers markets in the summer.  You can't beat the prices, supporting the locally grown organic fruits and veges and it's such a fun experience too! This is where you all can help me, I know we don't have anything as gigantic as Eastern Market around here but what are your favorite fresh markets.  I have been to a few good fruit stands around here but I would like to combine size (which I assume would have better variety) and convenience of being somewhat close.  Looking forward to your suggestions.  I am excited for a summer of hitting farmer's markets and going urban.  So get out there and go urban!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Committed Non-conformist

This is a picture of the calm before the storm....

This morning I awoke to my sweet two year old who was tossing and turning sleeping next to me after my husband put her in our bed before he left for work because she was crying around 6 am.  Then I heard her talking in her sleep, I leaned in close to hear what she was saying.  She was softly murmuring over and over again "No, I don't want to!" I couldn't help but smile, she was expressing her stubborn two-year old will even in her sleep.  After awaking this morning she went on to have a really rough day, crying pretty much all day, she seemed constantly frustrated, had many tantrums, wanted to be held almost constantly and I couldn't help but think back to what she had been uttering in her sleep. See a two-year olds world is pretty upsetting sometimes (I know what your thinking, I would kill to be loved and played with constantly get a nap AND get to go to bed early every day) but think about it for a second, EV-ER-Y-Thing in their whole world is out of their control.  They are constantly being told what to do, how to do it, what to eat, etc. I don't blame them for raising their fists and shouting loud to the world (or softly in their sleep) "No, I don't want to!"

Here is a picture of my oldest when she was almost two having a little tantrum, note the tight fists and scrunched forehead and yet she managed to hang on to her binkie!  And yes she is laying in the middle of the sidewalk when we were walking by the Marina in Saugatauk, awesome, love it when they do that!

Then I was thinking of my own stubborn nature.  Oh how I have fought this battle time and time again and always seem to lose. I have had a few good weeks and I am feeling off to a good start and under control and then I see an Easter basket or a piping hot pizza or a chocolate cake in the break room at work and I know that I can no longer take however much I want without caring about the nutritional content.  I honestly get tired sometimes of being one of the people in this world that has to care and really honestly when the initial excitement wears off (like right about now) I just want to dig in my heels, ball up my fists, throw my head back while kicking and pounding and scream "No!! I don't want to!" (see picture above, although it would be a lot less cute if I did it!) It's not that I don't want to lose weight and be healthy with all my heart but I just have stubborn streak that doesn't want to be told what to do or how to live. I know how those two-year-olds feel.

But then I thought about why we direct the path of our little toddlers, we steer their course because as their parents we love them, we know where the dangers are, we know what is best for them and have wisdom and experience to bring and perspective that they don't have.  So since most of us aren't still living with our parents who do we have to do that for us once we are adults because we still need that help (more than we are willing to admit!) Who better than someone who sees all, knows all and loves us unconditionally and infinitely more than we can ever think or imagine.  Our Heavenly Father tells us that we should "not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2.  The pattern of this world is to indulge your every desire, to do whatever feels good, whatever and whenever you want; that is sin.  But our mind can be renewed!!! Our will can be transformed!!! We can become committed non-conformists.  And then we find out what God's will is, how great is that? I would much rather be following His will then my own misguided sense of direction, for His will is perfect! The last two weeks have been hard.  I have been staying in the confines of my path of eating healthier and following the Weight Watchers plan, I have meticulously counted every crumb that went in my mouth but all the while I have been building up to a tantrum. But today I felt so much compassion for my sweet little one and how frustrated she was and God opened my eyes and taught me that he is trying to help me just as I help my kids.   And now I have peace, looking at this verse with fresh eyes gave me a whole new vision.  I can rest in His will and not worry about myself.  So I dragged my butt to the grocery store tonight and I am very excited about some of the recipes we have to come soon my friends, I am a newly committed non-conformist! I am going to keep on, keeping on! Thanks for all the love. Invite your friends to join my page, the support is a big encouragement and form of accountability!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Watch out for these guys...

Well I told you it was a rough week, and then to make matters worse I had to weigh in a day early before I left town.  You know that extra day would have made a big difference, right? OK maybe not! So the end result was 1/2 lb in the wrong direction.  Thank goodness for scales that show fractions of pound right, it's less depressing that way.  So I unfortunately have to battle some of the same things still this weekend because I am out of town so we are eating out some.  But it's part of life and I need to learn it and I think I am getting better.  One thing I need to do better at (as I was reflecting on this last week) was looking for these guys:

There are dangers out there that don't even seem like they would be very dangerous! Yup, wolves in sheeps clothing.  Here is an example, when I was working the other weekend I had a big salad and some fresh fruit and I decided to splurge on an old favorite of mine, one of these: 

I was estimating the points from reading the label, I mean afterall they plaster Low Fat all over the bottle should be ok right.  So before I threw away the bottle I wrote down the info so I could calculate my points when I got home and what was very sneaky and I didn't notice in the beginning, that it was seperated into 2 servings!!! So this lovely little beverage cost me 9 points!! I shudder to think how much those frothy frozen chocolate chip laden blended Java Chip shakes topped with whipped cream I have had are if this one which basically tastes like coffee flavored milk is 9 points. So one wolf to look out for is the multiple servings in one small package!!

The other funny thing that happened, that I avoided luckily, was a chocolate mystery unravelled.  When my husband was young he used to always use this lovely little product:

I had never really used it until we were married and he started buying it and I have used it a few times since.  So the other night we were going to have ice cream and I portioned out my 3/4 cup on he got out the magic shell and I said oh let me look at the label.  Do you know what I discovered??? Do you know what the magic is???  In 1 Tbsp of this lovely little product there are 18 g of fat!!!! It occurs to me all of the sudden, what happens to oil when it gets cold, it hardens.  This is the magic of magic shell, they pumped it full of oil!! So instead take out this lovely standby:

Hershey's syrup is fat free and you can add a little to your ice cream for one point!! I am still flabbergasted by the 18 g of fat in the magic shell.  I think I shocked my husband too.  He of course has the best metabolism so he would never notice these things.  Consider yourself warned, these are dangerous diet pitfalls to avoid. Wolves lurking out there, beware!!! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What do you do when you just gotta have it??

Well I have had quite an interesting week so far.  This weekend I had to work at the hospital, which is a major stressor for me and I was not sure how I would do with the food but honestly it wasn't too bad, my typical food at the hospital is a big giant salad which I adore and it was easy to measure all the things that had points and of course load up on the free things without points and I splurged for my favorite dressing.  I also have been eating out a little bit.  I am not sure if I will live to regret this on weigh in day and I have been counting everything but with busyness, stress, etc., this was kind of a much needed break.  We'll see if I pay for it on the scale but my theory was that if you do have an event "out" pare down your other meals that day to make it more doable so that's what I did.  So tonight I am bringing you a light lunch option if you have a night out and a light dinner option if you have a lunch out!

Friday was the start of Spring Break! Yea! Especially if you are luckier than me and you are somewhere beautiful! (Unlike me, did I mention Sunday we had rain, snow, sleet, hail, gale force winds, and a crazy thunderstorm! All in one day! To my sister in Florida right now I am sticking my tongue out at you.) Anyways having a teacher husband we were excited on Friday about the start of Spring Break despite not going anywhere so we wanted to have a celebration. We decided to have a pizza party picnic (inside of course).  OK pizza, 7pts a piece, that's costly I needed to make some room for this, hmmm.... So for lunch I found this tasty idea, Guess where? Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Cookbook, I know I hardly ever eat her food right? Try it, I am not a big fanof tuna usually but this was yummy, like Tuna Hummus as my husband nicknamed it...

White Bean Spread with Tuna

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup Vidalia onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 can white beans of your choice (I went garbanzo!)
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp fresh dill
8 oz albacore tuna
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in frying pan and saute onions until translucent.  Do not over-brown.  Transfer to food processor. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and pulse until just blended for chunky version or longer for smooth version.  Serve with flat bread, pita bread, pita chips, wraps, lettuce wraps! 

I went smooth with mine.  I used Parmesan pita chips that one serving was 3 pts and one serving of the dip (about 3/4 cup) was 2 pts.  I literally had lunch for 5 pts and I was satisfied for several hours and let me tell you when I bit into that cheesy melty pizza hours later I couldn't believe how good it was. 

And then today I had a hot lunch date, 3 actually, my hubby and two darling girls came to take me out for lunch. It's a Spring Break tradition! So we went out to an Italian restaurant I had recommended to me and believe me there were some ridiculously good looking items that I passed over, I ordered something that was super yummy but I knew I would be able to calculate later without nutritional info.  Best estimate my lunch was 16 pts, that's a lot for lunch! So dinner can't cost me too much.  Let's turn to another one you have heard a lot from, my Cooking Light cookbook, Dinner Essentials.  You know the best thing about this one, my hubby made it, it tasted SO yummy, AND he ran the vacuum today! Sorry ladies, he's mine! 

Flank Steak with Creamy Mushroom Sauce


  • 1  (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup  chopped shallots
  • 1  (4-ounce) package gourmet mushroom mix
  • 1/3  cup  water
  • 2  teaspoons  Dijon mustard
  • 1  tablespoon  Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2  teaspoon  chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4  cup  fat-free sour cream


Preheat broiler.
Sprinkle steak evenly with salt and pepper. Place steak on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness; let stand 10 minutes.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shallots to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms to pan. Cover and cook 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/3 cup water, mustard, Worcestershire, and thyme. Cover and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream.
Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Serve with mushroom sauce.

They recommended you served it with Egg noodles and Asparagus.  You realize what this means! 3/4 cup egg noodles = 4 pts, as much asparagus as I wanted = 0 pts, and 1 serving of Flank (3 oz) and 1/3 cup mushroom sauce 5 pts! Dinner 9 pts and I am full and satisfied. 

So like I said I don't know what the scale will show this week, I am still not even using barely half my weekly allowance of bonus points but I have managed to eat out a few times and that at least makes you feel like you can function as a normal person in society and still live a healthy lifestyle.  And man, I haven't been hungry or eaten anything bland or without great flavors since I started this journey.  That's a good thing! So when you just gotta have it....whatever it is, if it's pizza, your favorite dressing, a lunch date or taking your kids to their favorite fast food restaurant you can still do those things but you need to pair them with more carefully regulated meals. Today I shared a delicious lunch and dinner option for you.  I will keep you posted about the results on the scale! I hope where ever you are this week even if you are basking in Florida's sun like my snotty sister (you know I love you anyways) or stuck in freezing Michigan, make healthy flavorful choices everyone!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lazy Scapula

Hey people, hope you are all doing something much more exciting than me for Spring Break! I have to work this weekend and we are just bumming around Michigan, not exactly a beacon a dazzling warm weather but maybe we will get lucky! My teacher husband is around so no matter what we will have a good week! Today is again Friday weigh-in day and right before I stepped on the scale I had an ominous feeling and said give me anything, give me just one lb! Well you get what you ask for sometimes.  I lost exactly one lb this week. Now I sort of wished I had aimed higher in my plea moments before weigh-in but I guess feeling bloated and yucky and battling chronic illness the way I have been I will be happy with one more lb down!
So on to today's topic! Today we are going to be talking about scapula or as you may know them, your shoulder blade.  You remember when we were discussing posture and we looked at this horrible posture:
These girls better have great personalities but I sort of doubt it by the way they carry themselves! And I described to you that the way you correct your posture involves pinching your shoulder blades together to sit up straight, we talked about that here.  One of the ways we get ourselves into the above "position" or get shoulder problems such as rotator cuff (please, please say cuff not cup! thank you!) problems is because we all walk around with lazy weak muscles in the back.  I am talking about these guys:

 I have never in my 6 years working evaluated someone who had full normal strength of all these muscles, usually someone is lacking significantly somewhere in here and that is why shoulder injuries are so prevalent.  Even the strongest weightlifters will come in with weakness because they often neglect to do the necessary exercises that strengthen these muscles that are so crucial for proper mechanics and alignment of the shoulder joint.  So what can we do so we don't have lazy scapula.  Here are some of the best exercises:

Lay over a ball (if you don't have one use an ottoman or something similar in size) bring your arms straight out to the side, palm down and lift up and down.  Focus on squeezing those lazy shoulder blades together. Think fly like a birdy! Repeat 10-15x.  If you have no pain and really good form and it seems to easy you can add 2# wts (or a can of soup) to each hand.

Then for the next one all you do is rotate your arms so your thumbs point up. Again arms up and down bird style and do 10-15 reps, with weight if too easy.

Next switch your arms to out in front of you like Superman (Superwoman!) position, do the same thing, 10-15x up and down now focusing on squeezing shoulder blades down and together.  Add weight if possible. 

 Lastly, you would never have guessed it, but you turn thumbs up and do one final set! 10-15x up and down now focusing on squeezing shoulder blades down and together.  Add weight if possible.  If you don't have a ball or an ottoman you can do one arm at a time off the side of the bed but it is more time consuming obviously. 

  Before I show you some more exercises I want to point out that I often use my children as an excuse, albeit lame, for not exercising.  They don't exactly make things easier though and I can prove it, my handsome model had a little bit of trouble for the short duration of this photo shoot due to this sad child:


So now maybe you see I do have a bit of problem at times! But I know, I know, no excuses.  Back to the task at hand, non-lazy shoulders.  A few more great ideas for shoulder blade strengthening are rowing exercises and lat pull downs.  I usually recommend using a stretchy exercise band for these.  You can take your band and put a knot in the middle and then shut the knot in the door and you have it anchored for rowing.  I discovered a door that latches is really hard to come by in a really old, oh I mean, "Charming" house such as mine but we found one that worked. 


The first exercise your elbows are down, palms in, pull back and squeeze the shoulder blades together.  Again perform 10-15 reps. Make sure you keep your shoulders down (don't let them creep up to your ears) and keep the turtle position!

Next your elbows are out and your palms are down, you pull back and squeeze but now more the top of the shoulder blades.  Again perform 10-15 reps. And you still make sure you keep your shoulders down (don't let them creep up to your ears) and keep the turtle position!
Lastly remove your knot from the doorway and move it to the top of the door for lat pull downs.  Stand close to the door, elbows out, pull back and down squeezing the shoulder blades down and together.  10-15 reps. (Just don't look up like my model, look straight ahead, turtle style, thanks, it was hard to correct his positioning and take pictures at the same time!)


OK everyone, now I have equipped you with the sneaky tricks that will give you strong backs and shoulders and hopefully prevent you from having any future shoulder injuries.  If you currently have shoulder pain you probably need to do these all the more but if it hurts to do them it may be too soon.  As always here is my disclaimer: here. Can't wait to hear about you all conquering your lazy scapula! Good luck!