Biggest Looser -Week 5

I can’t believe it’s really been five weeks since we started this contest at work. I kind of lost some gusto about a week ago – for about a week- then it was time for my Intervent Health Coach to call. Oopsie – I kind of fell of the exercise wagon and I have to fess up, or really what’s the use in having someone to be accountable to if I am not honest about my eating or activity level?

First thing in my morning routine is breakfast. I’ve been trying to incorporate some protein smoothies into this routine and I’ve been pleasantly pleased so far. I’ve made a Banana with Peanut Butter smoothie, a sort of copycat Orange Julius type, and an Oatmeal Cinnamon one. I start them all with one scoop of Vanilla Protein powder and Vanilla low-fat yogurt, some unsweetened Almond milk, and then I add the other ingredients to it to make the desired smoothie.

I have been pleasantly surprised at how well these smoothies hold me over until lunch time. On some mornings when I eat egg whites and a turkey sausage I am completely famished by lunch.

Which brings me to my next subject: LUNCH… I have definitely done much better about keeping an eye out for the lunches that we have brought in and when I need to take my lunch. I work in a very fast food laden area of the city, so it is nothing for me to hop in my car and get something quick. Not necessarily healthy and definitely not low calorie or low carb. I have come to realize it is super important for me to take my lunch if I plan on staying on task.

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I made a small amount of Tri-color Quinoa per package directions, added some fresh peas and green beans I picked from our tiny garden, fresh lemon juice, pepper and this package of StarKist Salmon Creations (I didn’t realize it was salmon until I had already opened it – I thought it was a tuna package – which is what I usually buy). After I made it and realized it was Mango Chipotle flavored I thought it would be really too spicy. The salmon has a mild flavor and the Mango Chipotle complemented my Quinoa perfectly. I will definitely make this again. Not only was this surprisingly delicious, I didn’t feel hungry half-way through the afternoon and I didn’t get tired either. I was the perfect lunch for the long lasting energy I need.

We do our weigh-ins on the Friday of our pay week, but I wasn’t able to weigh in because I was at the Creation Museum that day with the family. Regardless, I weigh myself at home every Sunday morning when I first wake up. This week I was down another pound.

Now, that may not seem much of an accomplishment to some, but for me, it’s fantastic. Considering I haven’t done much in the way of actual exercise – although I usually always get more than 10.000 steps a day. I have pre-menopausal hormones to deal with and I have hypothyroidism. Even though I take my thyroid medicine daily I just feel that my metabolism is perpetually  slow (maybe it’s just in my head- haha). I also feel that if I’m loosing the weight slowly I will keep it off longer. Hopefully for life. I feel that this needs to be a life long journey – not just a short term contest. Although, it was the kick start that I needed. Thanks Katlyn!!!

We will have to see where the next two weeks bring me.~Bam

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Homemade Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

I was at the grocery yesterday and they had a sale on blueberries and I bought a one pound container of them because they just looked so delicious.

My husband doesn’t really like to eat them raw because of the texture they have. At first I thought about making blueberry muffins but then I remembered my oven isn’t working and I can’t get a 12 muffin pan in my little Oster Toaster Oven, nor would anything 9″ x 12″ fit. After narrowing my options down I came up with blueberry pie.

I used a basic Pate Brisee crust which I got from Martha Stewart’s web site years and years ago. It has never failed me and it is really easy to make. For today’s crust, however, I did not use any sugar and I halved the recipe because I just don’t need that much dough.

Once I made the crust I placed it in a ball wrapped up in plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator to keep it cold until I was ready to put the pie together.

The filling recipe is:

1 pound rinsed and dried blueberries

1/2 each all-purpose flour, sugar, and brown sugar

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Mix all of the ingredients together and pour them into the pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for roughly 40 minutes. Baking times may and probably will vary, because I was using our Oster Toaster Oven instead of a regular large oven.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream~Bam

 

Kitchen Back-Splash

I wanted to do something to update our kitchen, at least, a little, and didn’t want to spend too much money doing it. It took a while of hunting around, looking for different products that I felt I could comfortably use on my own. I enjoy working with my hands and especially enjoy the “fruits of my labor” so to speak. When I am painting a room, re-purposing an old piece of furniture or even super cleaning something it just gives me a sense of accomplishment when I’m finished. I not only feel I’ve done something worth while it also gives me a chance to do some deep thinking, or  time to connect with God through prayer.

Our kitchen is  a lime green color which I still really like. However, the back-splash is boringly plain. I wanted to add some contrast to it. Liven it up a bit. Bring it into the Twenty-first century.

I, however, have no idea how to work with ceramic tiles. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with them (I’m sure I could figure it out if I really wanted to). I didn’t want to invest in the time or the money of ceramic tiles either.

BORING!!!!

I went to all of the local hardware stores and found some very nice peel and stick tile sheets. They didn’t have a very large selection of colors and the were very expensive in the stores. Then I turned to Amazon (my go to for almost everything). I found a much larger selection at much better prices.

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I ended up choosing a peel and stick made by Art3d  in this color scheme. It has some green tones to it but also a lot of browns and creams which are the perfect match for our cabinets (which I have no intention of changing currently). I purchased a package of ten 12″ x 12″ peel and stick tiles with a sort of tongue and groove stile side connection.

Because I am a nut like this (or I really like to control what I am doing, or one could say I have a touch of OCD), once I cleaned the walls thoroughly with a damp towel and made sure it was completely dry, I used scotch tape to tape up the tiles on the walls first. I did this for two reasons. 1) I wanted to make sure I actually bought enough product and 2) I wanted to see if I would like the way it looked and if the color scheme was a good match. Once I figured out this was indeed a good match I took them back down and started putting them up for real.

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To make sure I cut out the right part of the tile I put it on the wall backwards and made a mark with my pencil for the area that needed cut out for the switches. This product if very easy to cut.

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I used mostly a straight edge knife, just a craft knife I use for scrap-booking and I used my scrapbook cutting board because I has straight lines on it. I could very easily keep every cut straight. (I had a round cutter but I felt it was too flimsy to work well so I ended up not using it at all).

Here I am at another utility plug. I basically lined the tiles up the rest of the wall for that 12″ x 12″ space and then I VERY carefully cut the slot out the rest of the way with some kitchen shears. Again, super easy!!! So far, so good!!

For this switch I measured the length on the bottom on the back side of the tile sheet and then I measured the height with a metal ruler (another scrapbook tool).

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I wanted to make sure I cut out the correct end so I labeled the back bottom area and then using my measurements I carefully cut out the square with my straight edge and it popped right out. When cutting this product it is a good idea to make small precise cuts and try not pushing into the product too harshly. I would go around one cut about three times each. Slow and easy wins the race…um, right?? It worked out really well for me to do it this way.

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This product if very flexible. When I got to a difficult corner of the wall, where I had to go around the wood trim, I just folded it up and made a mark where I needed to cut. Super easy again. So far I haven’t had any snafus.Thumbs up to me!!

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For this tiny bit of area near the top of the window seal I used a piece of scrap paper that was apart of the backing of another sheet of tile. I used it to make a template which made it very easy to work with when I cut out the last piece of that part of the wall.

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Ta-DA…The final product. I absolutely LOVE the way this turned out. I LOVE that it was super easy and I LOVE that it took me less than two hours to do. For me, this was the perfect project. These tiles have a really nice look to them. They are very sticky, but could easily be moved into position -until you really push them onto the wall. When I had the tile exactly where I wanted it I used a clean, dry dishrag to rub the tiles into position.

I just have to figure out what kind of replacement switch covers I want to change my plastic ones out for and I’ll be finished with this project.

Hope this encourages you to try a super easy kitchen back-splash update also!~Bam

 

Kale and Zoodle Salad

I’ve been on a salad kick for a couple of weeks now, and have been taking them to work for lunch. I just thought I’d share this one with you tonight.

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This is really what I call a “no-brainer”. One bunch of kale washed an taken off the rib, and chopped to your liking. One zucchini washed, peeled and cut with a Julienne peeler, how ever much red (or other type of) onion, diced-sliced-chopped however you prefer, half of a large tomato chopped, and two stocks of celery thinly sliced. Then I sprinkled some sliced roasted almonds on top. It’s that simple.

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For the dressing I grabbed a small handful of fresh chives from our garden mixed it with one Tablespoon of German Mustard, two teaspoons of orange juice, two capfulls of Apple Cider Vinegar and a little pepper to taste. I’ve been trying no to use salt much and I’m sure there’s plenty of it in the mustard, so I elected not to add any more.

I poured the dressing on the salad and put it in a lunch container so all I had to do was grab it and go. Pouring the dressing on it and letting in soak in over night helps to tone down the bitter flavor kale can have sometimes and it also helps to soften the leaves a tiny bit. I don’t generally pour dressing on the night before, but in this case I really thought it was a good idea and the salad was deliciously perfect by lunch the next day.

I have never eaten much kale before this summer and I must admit it is really hardy. When I add kale to my salad it holds me over until dinner without any problems.

Enjoy~Bam

Biggest Looser – Week 2

Well last Friday was our first weigh in since starting the “Biggest Looser at Work” contest. Man, I was so mad. I gained .4oz and had to pay an extra 50 cents. I couldn’t believe it.

I will admit I haven’t been eating as healthy as I could have, especially at work. We get a lot of lunches brought in for us and usually those are just too tempting to pass up. I did take my lunch to work some days but apparently not enough to make a difference. So, here I am back to my original thought – I need to eat to live not live to eat and I really need to be better at keeping a food log. I love MyFitnesspal.com. It really does help me to see where my calories are going and it will also let me know when something has a lot of saturated fats, high in sugars, etc.

About two or three times a week I was driving through McDonald’s for a breakfast burrito and a large unsweetened Iced Tea. I did not realize that the burrito I was eating has so much saturated fat in it. I just knew from the menu that is has 300 calories and I thought that wasn’t bad for breakfast. Then I realized, once I keyed it into MyFitnessPal that it really isn’t that good of a choice. On my way home I stopped by the grocery and pick up a carton of egg whites and now I’m making an omelet with egg whites, and a small amount of shredded cheese most mornings. They are super easy to make in the microwave, on high, for 60 seconds, and I have a much healthier breakfast. I have three different microwave egg cookers and I use all three of them regularly. I just can’t go without breakfast. Just can’t do it.

On the days I took lunch I would say I ate really healthy. I love this lunch box. It’s fairly new to me and I think it’s great to portion out my food this way, and it keeps everything nice and neat. It’s called “LunchBots Bento Cinco LARGE Stainless Steel Food Container“.

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This day I had raw baby carrots, sugar snap peas with a tiny bit of Ranch dressing (everything’s better with Ranch!!). Roast Beef lunch meat with a mixture of cream cheese and fresh chives from the garden wrapped up neatly. A hard boiled egg,  a few roasted peanuts, and some apple chips. I am obsessed with Seneca Apple Chips…they are crispy-thin, delicious, goodness and they make me very happy. I only packed a few because I could eat the entire bag at one sitting if I didn’t portion them out.

I am determined to take my lunch more these next two weeks, exercise more, drink more water, and not stop at McDonald’s for breakfast anymore. That has got to make a difference right?

Moving forward to the next two weeks~Bam

 

 

The Biggest Looser at Work

One of the girls I work with decided we should have a biggest looser contest, so she coersed almost all of us in the office to participate, made teams, and came up with a plan.

We are doing a three month plan. Weighing in every two weeks. We paid $1 to start and every weigh in we pay 50¢ and additional 50¢ for each pound we’ve gained. When the three months is up the person who’s lost the most percentage of weight gets the money.

I’ve already been trying to watch what I eat for a while now, but I’d only lost about five pounds and then things kind of just petered out. I became discouraged. What I needed was someone to be accountable to, so I was fairly excited when this opportunity came up.

I’ve really never been one to exercise regularly, except in my early twenties, when I was involved in martial arts. Then I life moved on.  I got a full-time job, got married, had a baby, went back to college, changed careers and two and half decades later here I am. Forty-seven pounds heavier than when I married.

I look back and I wonder how in the world did this happen?  Well, I’ll tell you. I love to cook and eat. I have come to the realization that I have been living to eat – not – eating to live.  I would say this has burdend my thoughts for about six months now and the more I dwell on it the more I’ve come to realize I don’t have to be a random eater. I shouldn’t be eating breakfast and thinking about what I’m having for my next meal. Now, that’s not to say I shouldn’t plan out my meals though.  I’m becoming a firm believer in meal planning, especially my lunches to take to work.

The first week I actually gained two pounds back. That really got my goat, so the second week (weigh in week) I really started to watch what I was eating, did some kettlebell exercises and tried -for the first time -yoga. (Yes I have a new appreciation for that, let me tell you that takes some real muscle to pull off some of those poses.) I also had a peanut butter smoothie for breakfast instead of one of my normal breakfast’s on weigh-in day.

When I weighed in on Friday morning, I had lost those two stinking pounds and another pound and two ounces (yes ounces count). I cannot tell you how excited I was. I wad in a good mood the rest of the day.

Hope this inspires some of you in a good “weigh”~Bam

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Homemade Cherry, Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Even though it’s almost mid-April it feels like winter today. Cold, windy, rainy, cloudy – just dreadful weather in my book. I needed some sort of pick-me-up and I found just the ticket, er, comfort food rather.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream….delicious.

I love my ice cream maker that I got for Christmas a couple years ago, but I haven’t really experimented too much with different flavors and I was going through my pantry and found a jar of Maraschino Cherries that were due to expire next month (I know…how could that be?). Clearly my pantry “might” be a little over stocked right now. Ha-Ha. Anyways that got me to thinking how much I LOVE cherry ice cream and then I saw a bar of dark chocolate just hanging out calling to be used…There was my answer.

I used a basic Vanilla Ice Cream recipe and tweaked it a bit.

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Firstly, I must say chopping chocolate can get messy. I chopped half of a Gian Hershey’s Dark Chocolate bar and made sure to use only the chopped pieces of chocolate. What I mean by that is when you chop chocolate with a knife it leaves a fine dusting of chocolate along with chunks. I didn’t want chocolate dust in my ice cream only the chunks, so instead of picking up the entire board and swiping all of the chocolate in the ice cream I only picked up the chunks and put it in. (This was just my personal preference – it’s a texture thing).

 

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Five egg yolks and a half cup of white sugar.

 

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Mix with a hand mixer until it’s light yellow and has a thick, creamy texture.

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In the meanwhile, cook your liquid mixture on Medium heat until a very slow boil starts.

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This is a VERY crucial step in making homemade ice cream, as, I’m sure not may of us care to eat raw eggs or have scrambled eggs in our otherwise creamy ice cream. The eggs must be “TEMPERED” by taking a ladle of hot milk mixture and slowly adding it to the egg mixture. I do this about three times and then the eggs should be warm enough to add to the milk mixture and finish cooking.

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Once the eggs and milk have been married continue cooking the cream on Medium, keeping a careful eye out to not boil (otherwise it will curdle and be ruined). Once it becomes thick enough to stick to your spoon then it’s finished cooking.

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Pour it over a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.

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Gross—not good in ice cream!!!

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After the ice cream has cooled down some, cover it with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap is touching the surface of the cream so you don’t get a skin on it, and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours or over night.

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I let the ice cream maker do all of the work. Churning away.

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After about twenty-five minutes in the ice cream maker and this is what you get. Delicious!!!

 

The recipe:

2 cups whole milk

2 cups half & half

1 cup sugar – divided

pinch of sea salt

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

5 Large Egg yolks

4 Tbsp juice from the Maraschino Cherries

3/4 of a small jar of Maraschino Cherries – chopped to your likeness

1/2 of a Giant Hershey’s Dark Chocolate bar – chopped to your likeness

In a large sauce pan on medium heat bring to a light boil milk, half & half, 1/2 cup sugar, both extracts, sea salt and juice from cherries.

While that’s cooking mix egg yolks with the other 1/2 cup of sugar until it’s light yellow, thickened and creamy.

Once the milk mixture is at a light boil temper the eggs with the hot milk mixture by adding a ladle-full of milk to the eggs stirring then repeating the process two more times. By then the eggs should be tempered enough to add to the milk mixture and continue cooking them until it’s hot. Be sure to not boil this mixture.

Strain the mixture into a medium-sized bowl and let it cool down some. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it at least two hours or over night.

Pour the cooled ice cream mixture into the thoroughly FROZEN ice cream bowl that comes with your ice cream maker and start her up. I added the cherries and chocolate about 15 minutes into the churning process and let it finish churning another 15 minutes. It’s ready to eat soft serve or placed into a freezer safe pint container and store in the freezer (not that it will last very long…because it’s delicious)!!!!

This was just the ticket to cheer me up on such a dreary Spring day~Bam