Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Really Great Moment For Me!

Hot, sweaty, exhausted .. but proud!
Week one of my 5K training is done!
One week down, seven to go ..


This run was a tough one for me .. Maybe because it was so hot and muggy outside, and maybe because I'd already gone for a 25-minute walk uphill before beginning my run. Not the smartest of decisions.


The coolest part of this run was having Brother Lego run along with me! Every time I felt like I wasn't going to make it to the end, I'd look at him running excitedly along with me and it gave me that extra boost of encouragement. What a great memory! I'll always remember that look on his happy face whenever I struggle with my future runs and I just know it'll help carry me to the end.


Also seeing his excitement with the run? Awesome. It helped me remember why I'm making my lifestyle change. I'm a role model for my kids. If they see their Mama Lego exercising regularly and making healthy food choices, they will take that with them while they grow up. And if I make sure that they also exercise and eat well, it will become a habit for them too! (well, I can hope, anyway!)


The run was the hardest one for me to do ... But also the best one! Thanks Brother Lego! :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Inspired by Others





I had the pleasure of running into a wonderful older man in my building the other night after getting back from our evening walk.


He was just incredible.


He was between 55-65 years old. He was hot and sweaty and his face was bright red after coming back from a run. He had his headphones on and a Walkman (remember those?!) attached to his shorts. You could tell he was tired yet energized.


This dude is in better shape than I am!!


He looked at Daddy Lego and I, looked at the smiling faces of Brother and Sister Lego, and told us how lucky we were to have kids because they kept us young.


He went on to tell us that he never had kids, but always wishes that he did because he wanted a family and because he wanted kids to help keep him young as well.


He said that now he has to work even harder to keep his body young, run a little farther, push a little longer.


And it was his positivity that just blew me away. He was happy to do it! It was hard work but he wanted to do what he needed to in order to have a long, vibrant life.


Wow, right?


He inspired me more than he'll ever know. He helped me see that my physical well-being is in MY hands. If I want to be healthy and vital and live a long and vibrant life, then it is my responsibility to make it happen. Nobody is going to do it for me.


And you know what? I'm happy to do it, too! Each step I walk, every minute I jog, each yoga pose I hold, will all help me have a happy and healthy body. It's hard work, especially in those times where I want nothing more than to kick back with a good movie, but in the long run, I'll be happy I did it. And even now, I'm happy I'm doing it!


Have a great long weekend, everyone .. Try to sneak in some exercise, if even only for a few minutes - your body will thank you, now, and in about fifteen years! :)


Thursday, June 28, 2012

The "Eat Your Heart Out, Subway!" Meatball Sammich

Yeah, Subway is one of my favorite fast-food go-to's .. So many healthy, fresh options to choose from. And smelling the fresh bread upon walking in = foodgasm!!


However, I do have one guilty pleasure there ... Subway's Meatball Marinara Sandwich. How many ways can I describe how YUM it is?! And with extra cheddar cheese melted into the delicious sauce over wonderfully meaty and tender meatballs ..


Even after knowing how wretched that sub is in points (15 points for a 6-inch!! And I used to get a footlong with extra cheese!!), I can't help but to want it sometimes. Luckily enough, I have enough self-control to know that ordering one isn't in my lifestyle change's best interest, so I'll pick something else (Chicken Teriyaki please!!)


Yet I still crave my meatball sub .. So I made my own at home! And it was most definitely a suitable SUB-stitute! Also, knowing that it was a much healthier and points-friendly option made it even better.


I started with a small white flour ciabatta bun (I have yet to find a whole grain ciabatta, grr!) and layered spinach and red peppers on the bottom piece. Then I added six cooked  mini turkey meatballs (thank you, M&M Meats!), a sprinkle of my favorite light Kraft tex mex cheese mix and then I threw it under the broiler for a few minutes to give the cheese time to melt and get all golden. Once it was done, I pulled it out and added warmed tomato sauce over the cheesy meatballs, closed it up, and served!


Straight out of the oven, before I added the tomato sauce (and that was only 1tbsp of light Caesar dressing but it spread itself out!)
They were just delicious! So many different flavors in every bite. The only thing I would have done differently was to toss the meatballs in the tomato sauce beforehand .. But it tasted great just the same!


So next time the Subway Meatball Marinara beckons me .. I know I have a backup :)


Ten points for this entire "sub"!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Homemade Gourmet Apple BBQ Pork Pizza

As I've mentioned in the past, my husband and I are former pizza addicts connoisseurs. We just couldn't get enough of the stuff! We still LOVE having it, and love coming up with new and creative ways to eat it. One day, we wanted a pizza, had pork tenderloin and apples in the fridge, and decided to see what we could come up with. And we came up with a masterpiece. 

First off, we needed a crust. We found this at Loblaws and knew it was exactly what we were looking for. Made with whole grains, too! (Be still, my heart!)


Then came the toppings. Pizza sauce, oregano, basil, mushrooms, baby spinach, green onions, homemade BBQ pork tenderloin, and apple slices. Yes, you heard right. Apples. Then we used, but of course, our Kraft light tex mex shredded cheese mix. We threw it into the oven at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. The cheese was perfectly melted and lightly golden, the crust was the perfect crispy-yet-chewy texture, and the entire house smelled of heaven. We drizzled apple butter BBQ sauce on top as the final piece-de-resistance and voila! 

Omnomnom

The combination of the sweet and spicy flavors was just to die for, it was like a firework-type explosion of flavor was going off in our mouths! It was a-m-a-z-i-n-g!! Honestly one of the best pizzas I've ever had (and I've had LOTS. Trust me here. TONS.) 

Each piece was a measly five points (and for us WW people, we know that's nothing at all for pizza!) after two pieces I was stuffed (I won't lie - the inner roundie in me really wanted more .. But I told her she'd had enough!).

This pizza is a definite addition to our " must make again" list!

Mmmm .. Pizza ...

My Second Run!

Yesterday was a nice, cool, breezy day - absolutely perfect to get my second run in! There's just something about the crisp fresh air that entices me to get outdoors. So instead of using a treadmill, outside I went.


And let me tell you .. I actually really enjoyed it! What a difference being outdoors made!


The scenery took my mind off the fact that I was running, and the fact that I was running didn't faze me at all. The minutes that I did run just flew by! And I think the fact that my iPhone was tucked away helped to keep my eyes off the clock .. Instead of counting down each second until I got to walk again, I was able to just kick back, listen to my music, watch the beautiful scenery (I jog on a gorgeous bike / walking path surrounded by trees and forest) and enjoy.


Holy crap, I enjoyed running.


It also really helped that the rest of Team Lego was with me. I'd walk with them, then do my run, and walk back towards them for the break between runs. Seeing their smiling faces really encouraged me to keep going, especially when I was starting to struggle with the uphill parts of the run.


I'm definitely looking forward to my next run, hoping it will be outside again! (are you with me, Cindy?) :)


Ps. This is hardly a flattering picture of myself post-run .. But I felt GREAT!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Silly" Cheesesteak Sammich!



I'd been really craving a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich .. But those aren't always the greatest on the points scale, so my hubby and I made our own healthier (and cheaper on the points) version!


We started with our favorite Country Harvest whole grain flax bread, and added lean roast beef shavings, sautéed mushrooms with green onions, baby spinach, 1/4 cup of the godly Kraft light tex mex cheese mix, and finally a light touch of mustard. The cheese was the final topping to go on the bread because we wanted it to get all gooey and melted!


We placed the sandwiches face open into the oven at 350 for about ten minutes, just long enough to heat it up, then turned on the broiler to really help melt the cheese and make it that gorgeous, glistening golden color.




This sandwich was SUPER filling and unbelievably delicious. It felt like we were eating something that was horrible for our lifestyle change ... But it wasn't! Talk about a guilt-free delight!


And at only eight points for the entire sandwich, the situation was definitely win-win! Happy belly, happy thighs! :)

The week of June 25th - 35lbs down, and beat the BBQ!



This week's WW meeting was a handy one, on how to head into BBQ season while still keeping on plan. A lot of people throw their diet lifestyle change out the window at a BBQ. A couple of burgers, macaroni salad, a few beers, some ice cream ... It all sounds like a harmless and enjoyable BBQ dinner yet little did you know, that harmless dinner just cost you two days worth in points! And so you have to ask yourself: was it worth it?


If it was, then good for you! If it wasn't .. What could you have done differently?


Here are some really great tips that were offered to help us when we're entering the temptation zone of a BBQ:


1. Focus on the people you're visiting and the activity you're doing. Don't make the whole focal point of the BBQ the food. You're there to visit, not just to hit the buffet!


2. Engage in an activity. If there are children there, maybe start up a big game of tag, or kick a ball around. Not only are you keeping the kids entertained, but you're also getting in some exercise! Or if it's an adult-only BBQ, get a game of cards going, or still kick a ball around. Hit the pool if it's a pool party - the whole point is to keep your mind off of the beer!


Water balloons! What a fun BBQ activity!


3. If you're hosting, provide as many points-friendly food choices as possible. That way, the "bad" temptations aren't there to tease you and even if you do indulge, you won't do as much damage. Offer light beer, chicken burgers, shrimp skewers, corn on the cob .. The possibilities are endless!


4. If you're not hosting, but attending the BBQ, offer to bring something points-friendly.


5. Try to find out in advance what will be on the menu. That way you can plan out your meal before going to the BBQ and stick with it while you're there. You can even get in some extra exercise throughout the week so you can have a second turkey sausage knowing that you earned it!


My favorite part of the meeting is always the awards. Whenever a member hits a weight loss milestone (for every 5 lbs lost, 5%, 10%, 25lbs, 50lbs, etc..) they get rewarded! They get to celebrate their achievement with the rest of us. I'm always so happy for the members who get a milestone reward ... And I get SO inspired by their success! They always look so proud and so happy, and they usually give the group a trick that keeps them focused on their plan.


This week, a lady got her 5% weight loss reward (what a HUGE accomplishment!) and told us she's learning about portion control. Now she's eating chips out of a small bowl instead of right out of the bag. I thought that was a great tip .. Not only is everything measured and all points accounted for, you're not eating above and beyond what you intended to and you'll still have some left for another day!


Today my tip was to keep active and to keep trying new foods and recipes .. I got my 35lbs lost reward!! *happy dance!*



Monday, June 25, 2012

Chocolate Mousse!


Many people have asked about the recipe is for our "homemade" chocolate mousse .. I can't blame them, it is SO good!! My husband and I are totally obsessed with this treat because it is wonderfully chocolatey, perfectly rich and the best match for our favorite summer berry - strawberries!


The best part about this dish, aside from being amazing to eat, is that it is so easy to make! Ready?


Take one chocolate pudding cup (we prefer fat-free, but to each their own!). Then we add four tbsp each (so eight in total, since we share) of Cool Whip (we love the 95% fat-free and guilt-free Cool Whip but again - use whatever you love!)


Mix them up in a bowl and voila! I prefer my mousse to be marbled (not perfectly mixed) because I enjoy being able to taste the Cool Whip and chocolate on their own.


The next best thing about this dish? 2.5 WW+ points. 

Do you, chocolate pudding, take thee, Cool Whip, to be your lawfully wedded treat?

Diet Coke Addiction



I really, REALLY love diet coke. It's cold and refreshing, it's fizzy and sweet ... It's zero points. There's nothing quite like hearing the crackle of a can of diet coke opening on a hot day.


I'm practically salivating.


If there is diet coke in my fridge, I won't drink anything else. No healthy and delicious water with lemon in it, no beneficial green tea .. Just my unhealthy, chemically-made, artificially sweetened addiction.


I've been doing a lot of reading about the effects of diet coke / artificial sweeteners. And I'm not a fan of what I've been reading. But is it enough to keep me away from my beloved beverage?


Maybe. It was enough to be encouraged to cut back a lot. Want to know a couple of things I've discovered?


1. Nutrasweet in the morning coffee, Splenda in the yogurt, aspartame in the diet soda, xylitol in the chewing gum, sucralose in the energy bar .. That much fake is hard for the liver to take! (quote taken from The Looneyspoons Collection)

2. Studies show that drinking diet soda increases the likelihood of serious weight gain. Artificial sweeteners quickly boost the fat-storage hormone insulin, just like real sugar does. They also affect leptin, the hormone that tells you when to stop eating. When insulin and leptin are out of whack, you become ravenous. You crave sweets, you overeat, and hello belly! (or, in my case, hello booty! Ha)


3. Diet soda has zero nutrients in it. Not one. And the more diet coke I drink, the less water, green tea, and healthy beverages I'll be having.


I didn't drink a whole lot of diet coke before (since my daughter is still nursing) but reading about the effects artificial sweeteners can have on my body and my weight loss really opened my eyes. There are many more diet coke "facts" that I read about .. But I won't get into the scary science speak.






There are also a LOT of condradicting opinions too, saying that there are some sweeteners that are okay to have in moderation. But we still don't know enough about what health risks these artificial sweeteners can cause in the long-run, and I'm not a fan of the idea of being a guinea pig. Remember smoking? At first everyone thought it was safe, right?!




I've significanty reduced the amount of diet drinks I take in .. But I haven't cut them out all together. For one, I've learned that going cold-turkey with my diet coke will only result in me binge-drinking it in a moment of weakness. But I have been weaning myself off of it, slowly, only having it every now and then as a treat. (Everything In Moderation, right?!)




I've been adding carbonated water to my lemon water and assorted spa waters, and it's been wonderful! Anyone else have any suggestions for a possible diet coke replacement?! :)





Sunday, June 24, 2012

Honey Mustard Chicken Spinach Salad



Daddy Lego and I have found that one of the key things to our lifestyle change is to keep trying new things. It keeps us interested and very passionate about healthy eating. And most of all, it's fun! We just love collaborating and coming up with new dishes together!


For lunch one day, we were going to make homemade chicken Caesar salads but decided we wanted something different .. So after throwing a few ideas onto the table, we were able to come up with our honey mustard chicken spinach salad.


We cooked off a piece each of M&M Honey Mustard Chicken Breast and thinly sliced it. Then we topped it on a bed of baby spinach, and tossed in some pieces of prosciutto ham (instead of bacon - what a delicious and much more healthy substitute!) and walnuts.


We then made a honey mustard dressing. We used Oikos Honey Greek Yogurt as a base, then used honey, mustard, vinegar, lemon, chives and a small splash of milk (all to taste). It was creamy and delicious, not too sweet, not too salty, and the perfect compliment to our salad.


The entire dish was nine WW+ points and we were both stuffed to the point where we couldn't even finish it!


Have a fabulous day!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I'm Bringin' Yoga Back!


Haha, no really, it's been back for a long time. But not for me.


I started doing yoga a little while back but I had to stop because I didn't have the proper mat. I was using those puzzle-piece floor mats, the ones you can buy for your kids to play on.


Well, as any yoga-doing person knows .. When you're "downward dogging", you need as much tension and support as you can get. And with those puzzle pieces .. Yeah, tension and support aren't happening. What does happen, in fact, is that the puzzle pieces come apart .. And then I'm downward falling and hurting myself in all sorts of places!
I wish my downward dog was this effortless and graceful! in time..!!


So I was finally able to purchase a proper yoga mat with my gift card for Canadian Tire. It's not "lululemon quality" but it is WAY better than I was using before! And it's purple and pretty, which is always nice :)


Although I'm not looking forward to having to break myself in again, I am really anxious to get back to my yoga routine! Flexibility training, prepare to be conquered!!


And yeah, A535 .. We're going to be best pals again. Same time, same places.

Those Sweetie Strawberries

How good do these look?!!


I absolutely adore strawberries. They're sweet and juicy and their shiny red color against their light green "hair" leaves and their delicate yellow seeds just SCREAM "eat me!!" (minds out of the gutters, pervs!)


Not only are the completely delicious, but ...






They Are Great For Your Diet. 


In only one cup of strawberries, you will get over 13% of your daily recommended dietary fiber intake yet that one cup will only cost you 43 calories! The dietary fiber helps to keep your digestion regular (aka. you'll be pooping regularly) and it also helps lower your blood pressure! So if your mother-in-law gets on your nerves ... Strawberry-Up!


They Are Anti-Inflammatory. 


Strawberries contain phenols which fight against many inflammatory disorders, like osteoarthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis (science talk: the phenols inhibit the enzyme cyclooxygenase in the same way that aspirin and ibuprofen do!) I must admit - I eat a TON of strawberries and I've noticed my asthma has significantly decreased (mind you, that can also be credited to my weight loss and exercising!)


Helps To Combat Cancer! 


Thanks to vitamin C, folate and (science warning!) the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol that they also contain, strawberries are a delicious defense against potentially cancerous cells.


Healthy Eyes. 


Scientists are saying that three or more servings of strawberries (and other fruits) per day can decrease the possibility of contracting age-related macular degeneration by over a third! "Eye" see another great reason to keep strawberry'ing!






Vitamin C.  


This needs no explanation. Ward off nasty colds, flus, and other viruses by stocking up on your vitamin c!


There are many more benefits to eating your strawberries .. But let's face it .. the biggest benefit of eating them is just that - EATING THEM!!



Friday, June 22, 2012

Oh .. My .. Gawwwwd. My First Day of 5K Training.

So I did it. My first training session for the 5K Army Run in September.


I haven't run since high school. Yeah. So this first run in about nine years was ... Interesting. (Hold on - it's been NINE years since I graduated?!)


I'm using one of those free iPhone apps to help with my training, the kind that's supposed to help me run a 5K in eight weeks, with three runs per week. Eight weeks to help rectify a nine-year lapse between runs? Cool. Too bad they don't have those programs for weight loss! Ha.


On day one of the program, there's a five-minute warmup walk, followed by the 20-minute run (one minute running alternated with two minutes of walking) and then the five-minute cool down.


When it's time to start running, the program beeps and a lady tells me to start running. Then when the minute is over, it beeps again and she tells me to start walking for two minutes.


Not bad, right?
Rrrright.


Okay, so here was my step-by-step train of thought during the run:


"Oop, time to start running for the first time! How the heck do I program this machine to run .. Oh okay ... Hey, that wasn't so bad! I can do this!"


"This is going to be a piece of cake! Oooh cake .."


"Wow, those two minutes flew by .. Get running!"


"Why is this minute lasting an HOUR?!"


"Okay, concentrate on the music. Focus on the music. Eff, I have a cramp."


"Finally! Yay walking! Ahhhhh ..."


"What the hell, that walk only JUST started!!!!"


"Stop chugging your water and you'll stop getting cramps, MORON!"


"I think my boobs are bruising my face."


"I paid $43 to run MUCH more than this in Septemer?! Fool!"


"And now my boobs are breaking my back. Good Lord I need a sports bra."


"HALF WAY!! (at this point I actually clapped my hands) OMG YAY!! Wait. That means I have to do all this again for a second time. Sigh."


"Wow .. That Big Mac looks awesome .. It's been ages since I've had one .. Shut the TV off on your machine Mama!"


"Walking. I'm walking!! And smiling!! This is wonderful!! Nnnnnooo shut up stupid woman, I JUST started walking!!!"


"My butt jumps a LOT when I run. I must be bruising my legs."


"I can't feel my legs. Probably because my right leg just fell off."


"SHE SAID TWO MORE MINUTES!! I COULD KISS HER!!!"


"Oh thank heavens that's over .. "


"Hey, that wasn't so bad. Can't wait till the next run!"


Yeah. So that was my day. I struggled to get through it, made it to the end, and now I feel really good!


Army Run .. You're my Everest!!


This was me post-run. Super sweaty, proud to have made it, and relieved it was over!
Ps. Special thanks to Cindy (and her majesty Lady Gaga) .. I don't think I could have made it through without you!! :)


Pps. It's been NINE years since I have finished high school?!

Omelettes? Yes please!

I really love omelettes. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can make anything with them! Stuff them full of assorted meats to win the protein lottery in a Meat Lovers Omelette. Toss them with peppers, onions and sausage for a Western feel. Fold a plain omelette over Swiss cheese and lightly sautéed asparagus for a gourmet brekky. You can even get really creative and add cinnamon and sugar to your egg mix and fill your omelette with fresh fruit! You can also make your omelette into a crepe sandwich! (check out Chef Daddy Lego's Crepe-Tastic Omelette Sammich)


Ham and Cheese with Green Onions


Anything and the kitchen sink can be folded into an omelette. Well, except for squid. I don't like squid. Yucky squid.


For our omelettes, we use one whole egg and one egg white, but some people would prefer to use only egg whites and others would prefer to use whole eggs. Some people even fluff their egg mixture with a small splash of milk. Flexibility is not a problem for the omelette, it can be made any way!


Spices? Go nuts. I'm partial to pepper, and only pepper. The eggs and the fillings give me all the flavor I need!

Mama's Favorite Omelette
Chef Daddy Lego makes an omelette he calls "Mama's favorite." It's made with one egg and one egg white. Pour the eggs onto a lightly greased pan, and top with sliced lean ham, chopped spinach, green onions, mushrooms and my beloved serving of light tex mex cheddar cheese. Cook it on the stovetop just long enough for the egg to set and then put it into the oven for about 8-10 minutes at 350. When it's done baking, fold it over and serve! Six delicious and filling points!


What are your favorite ways to have an omelette?


Veggie Omelette served with fresh fruit and butterless toast 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Food For Thought.

I find it's a bit extreme, but the message is loud and clear ..! Get moving!


Treats with Eats!

You've made a decision. You are going to lose weight.


You are going to eat healthy, exercise daily, drink only water, cut out sugar and caffeine and pretend Doritos never existed. You will never again grace McDonald's with your presence. You will have sugar-free, fat-free birthday bran muffins instead of cake every year. You'll put an electrified fence up around the doors of your favorite pizza joint to keep yourself out. You will work out before, during, and after work, and also before bed and while you're brushing your teeth. You are going all healthy, cold turkey.


Yeah. Ssssooooo realistic.
And I'm going skydiving naked with Dean McDermott tonight.


In all seriousness, good on you for wanting to have a healthier lifestyle. It takes a strong person to realize they need to make changes to their eating and exercise habits. It also takes a lot of inner strength to keep with it (before it becomes a natural habit for you!)


However .. Cutting out all the foods you've ever loved is not necessarily the greatest place to start. You're just setting yourself up to fail. Very few people who make that choice are actually able to follow through on it ... and they then find themselves mowing down the junk foods. If I were to tell myself I'd never have pizza again ... I'd be binging on it a week later. You know how something seems so much more appealing when you're told "no"? There you have it. Pizza galore!


Just because you're changing your lifestyle doesn't mean you have to eat like you're dieting. It's such a cliché but the phrase "everything in moderation" holds a lot of truth for me!


I can have a slice or two of pizza .. But I don't need to eat half of it. Or all of it. And I don't need to eat it a few times a week .. Maybe once every couple of weeks (heck, even once a week would be a vast improvement to where I was pre-WW!)


You don't need to eat that whole bag of popcorn. Maybe dividing it into sandwich baggies and having an individually-sized treat every couple of days would be a better idea.


You're going to East Side Mario's for dinner and you REALLY want that cheesy, gooey pasta but you "can't" have it because you're watching your weight. Don't deprive yourself!! Cut the portion in half, or even only have a third or a quarter of it. Wrap up the rest right away and give it to your husband, or save it for lunch the next day.Treat yourself to some, but remember that you don't need to eat it all. Stop when you're satisfied. Stopping yourself from having something you truly love because of your "diet" is not really shining a positive light on your "diet", is it? 


You get the picture. You can have your treats - in moderation! Tell yourself, "This isn't the last time I'll ever get to have this food again," and then only have enough to satisfy your craving and hunger.


Well, at least he's only having one ..!
We had my father over for a Father's Day dinner last night. The menu? Ribs. And LOTS of them! I'd known that we were having ribs so I was able to plan ahead for it. I made sure to have not one, but two delicious (favorite!!) veggie side dishes to fill up on before digging into the ribs ( here are the steps to make the Lemon Parmesan Asparagus). I also portioned out my serving of ribs to a reasonable amount, ate my vegetables first, and made sure to drink lots of water between bites. In doing that, I was actually too full to go for a second helping of ribs and I felt SO satisfied! Not at all deprived. I had ribs!! And with the points I saved on not having more ribs, I was able to have a small piece of chocolate cake for dessert. We then went for our daily evening walk to help burn off what we ate and to help keep our metabolisms going!




I'm not even going to tell you how many points that small portion of ribs were!


Everything in moderation. That way, you can have your treat eats without depriving yourself of all the foods you love. Don't go hog wild on your junk foods .. But remember to treat yourself every now and then! It will make sticking with your new healthy lifestyle a lot more enjoyable :)



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Guilt-free Stuffed Shells

About a month ago, all the stores in our area were having big sales on lobsters because of mother's day (it seems lobster is for the mommies, and ribs are for the daddies - that's what on special this week!)

Daddy Lego and I ADORE lobster, but it's definitely one of those things we buy only when we find a good deal. And at $6 each, we were sold! It's one of the only seafood items I don't seem to have allergic reactions to, so it's always nice to get away from the standard chicken / beef / pork and get a real treat with lobster!

Typically we would eat the lobster with garlic butter .. but that just wasn't an option or temptation this time around. We wanted healthy but we also wanted to feel like we were eating something we shouldn't be, you know?

While browsing the pasta aisle for spinach lasagna noodles, we came across jumbo shells, and all sorts of bells starting going off in our heads. Lobster stuffed shells! With ricotta! And homemade sauce!! We couldn't wait to get started.

We mixed extra smooth, light ricotta cheese (only five tablespoons for two points!!!) coarsely chopped spinach, a TINY pinch of sea salt, and the chopped lobster into a bowl, wrapped it, and let it sit in the fridge for the flavors to combine.

While the mixture was cooling, I started on the tomato sauce. I added a jar of strained tomatoes, a large can of chopped tomatoes in garlic (it's like a bruschetta mix - but I drained the oil and rinsed the tomatoes. They still held all the flavor of the garlic oil from marinating in it for so long), a handful of fresh Italian spices (basil, oregano) and a bit of sugar (to take down the acidity from the tomatoes). I let the sauce simmer on low heat (so the flavors could develop), covered, while the ricotta cheese mixture was sitting in the fridge. 

After a couple of hours, we (okay, Daddy Lego - my fumble fingers wouldn't allow me to properly do it!) stuffed the mixture into the shells and baked them for about twenty minutes at 350, just long enough to warm them through. 


While they were baking, Daddy Lego prepared the asparagus. He blanched them quickly, then sauteed them in e.v.o.o with a squeeze of lemon, a touch of salt and pepper, and light Parmesan cheese.



We each had six shells, topped with a light amount of the tomato sauce, served with a side of the asparagus. It. Was. To. Die. For.

We felt like we were eating in a five-star restaurant, when really we were sitting comfortably (in our pajamas!!) in our own dining room. 
The best part? Each shell was 1.16 points - so we each had six shells for a total of seven points. The tomato sauce was another one point, and the asparagus was one more point. This entire plate was nine points. Not too shabby, huh?

Chef Daddy Lego will be accepting dinner reservations starting next month! ;)


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

16 Weeks!


I got my sixteen-week charm this week! Sixteen weeks, 33.5 lbs down!!

Don't be a Debbie Downer!!



This week's WW meeting started off on a bad foot. There was a lady there, one I'd never seen before .. And she had a big, dark, thunderstormy cloud above her head ..


Our (awesome!!) leader Leslie began the meeting as always: energetically asking the group how our week had been. There were a bunch of head nods, a couple of enthusiastic "good!"'s, a few shy "great!"'s ...


... And then Debbie Downer piped up. "My week was great until I came here!". The room went silent. It seemed in that split second that all the positive energy in the room got sucked away.


So Leslie asked Debbie to elaborate, and she goes on to explain, "I was really good this week. I worked really hard and I only lost a pound. I'm not impressed!".


I had to remind myself not to sigh loudly or shake my head at this woman's negativity. She lost a pound and she was mad?! Really! (No judgment here on my behalf - just genuine shock and disbelief at how this woman was putting herself down!)


Weight loss, when done properly, is not supposed to happen overnight. No matter how hard you work at ensuring you make only smart food decisions, no matter how much you go to the gym, no matter how many donuts you turned down that week - it will be a slow process (and again I reiterate - it will be a slow but steady process when done properly. Crash dieters need not read further!)


A healthy weight loss will be anywhere between 0.5 lbs - 2 lbs per week (of course, that can fluctuate week to week - everybody loses weight differently!).


So Debbie Downer was right where she needed to be and she was upset. Hmm.


It's hard not to hope to see a large loss each week on the scale. Remember though - even if you see a smaller loss than you were hoping for, one pound lost is better than one pound gained! And even if you only lose half a pound a week - that's two pounds a month and a HUGE 24 pounds in one year!


Also, always remember to take your measurements. In all your exercising, you could be losing weight but putting on muscle, which could result in a maintained weight on the scale but a loss in inches!


A healthy diet and a steady exercise routine will reward you with your weight loss - but also with better physical and mental well-being, more energy, and a whole bunch of other benefits. Even if you don't see the results you were hoping for on the scale, know that with all your hard work, your body and health are better for it and they are thanking you!


So ladies and gents: be proud of every pound you lose. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step .. And the journey of (10? 30? 140?) pounds lost begins with ONE!


Don't Debbie Doubt yourself!





Monday, June 18, 2012

Great Summer Supper!



I love making pulled pork, but only when I can find a decent price on the pork roast and when I actually feel like pulling the pork (what a pain!). I often end up having too much left over and find it hard to control myself around it .. The pork is so moist and the sauce is juicy and so delicious, how could I not go for seconds?!


So for those lazy days, I keep M&M Meatshops pulled pork in the freezer. It's so effortless and perfectly portioned that I don't have the option to over-indulge. It's on the fence for points-friendliness (6 WW+ points per serving) so make sure to have lots of veggies on hand to eat on the side! We make ours with tons of sautéed mushrooms and pile it into a 3-point whole wheat bun.


For this meal, we made Waldorf Pasta Salad (from our bible, The Looneyspoons Collection) which is made with whole wheat rotini pasta, apples, celery, onions and chopped walnuts in a sweet honey mustard / vanilla yogurt dressing. It is absolutely fabulous and five WW+ points per serving. It perfectly complimented our pulled pork sandwich! (and for anyone interested - The Looneyspoons Collection is INCREDIBLE!! I highly recommend it!)


Serve it up on a whole wheat bun and with a cool tray of fresh veggies buffet-style and away you go - a delicious (and very filling) summery meal for 14 WW+ points! 


ps. my apologies for the blurry picture!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day Picnic!

We're so fortunate to live in an area with lots of parks, bike paths and picnic areas .. So we thought, why not have a picnic dinner instead of the same ol' dining room dinner?


It was a beautiful change of pace, and so refreshing. The kids absolutely loved it, too! And we had lots of bug spray (though those darned Mosquitos sure gave it their all!) so we were pretty undisturbed. Nothing is nicer than family time.


I packed a protein-filled dinner for us, since I knew we'd be heading to the park and splash pad after our picnic. Protein keeps us full for longer periods of time so we knew we wouldn't be hungry coming home from running around in the hot weather at the park!


I made Caesar deviled eggs .. They were so yummy! Instead of using the usual mayo to mix in with the yolks, I used 2 tsp of Renee's light Caesar dressing (I was only making two full eggs, four halves in total, so it didn't take much dressing at all to get the creamy filling deviled eggs are known for!), filled each egg, and topped it with a sprinkle of light Parmesan cheese. It was such a nice twist to deviled eggs and they turned out so well! I'm glad I only made two eggs because I'm pretty sure we would have polished all of them off .. Even if I'd made eighteen!


Mmmm with Parmesan cheese ...


The plain yolk in the middle was for my daughter .. she can't have egg whites just yet!
Next I made cucumber / carrot toonies. I got this idea from Chef Michael Smith's show a while back on the food network .. Basically, you core a long piece of cucumber, then shove a peeled carrot through it, slice, and voila! Veggie toonies! (it sounds easier than it actually was .. Coring the cucumber was a total P.I.T.A!) It was a nice change from the normal cucumber slices and carrot sticks one would normally bring for a picnic.




I also cooked off two pieces (one for each of us) of M&M Meats honey mustard chicken breasts and used them to make a chicken spinach salad. I tossed 1/2 tbsp of honey and 3 tsp of mustard into one single-serving container of apple-flavored yogurt to make a simple yet delicious dressing (this recipe yielded WAY more dressing than we needed for our salad, so we have lots left over). The only things our salad needed were walnuts (we ran out!) and apples (I completely forgot to throw them in!) but they were still great without. (ps. we made these incredible chicken-walnut-spinach salads last week, read about it here!)




We had tons of food, stayed within our points, felt satisfied (not full!) and had the best time hanging out with each other. And we all got plenty of exercise once dinner was over!
Daddy running through the sprinklers with his babies!
The water was COLD! She loved it - me, not so much! 


Happy Father's Day to all the amazing daddies out there! Thank you for all your hard work and dedication!