Tuesday, July 31, 2012

50 POUNDS DOWN!!

When I started WW in February, I wasn't aware that I was about to embark on a whole new lifestyle. All I wanted was to lose a few pounds to get healthier and further away from the risk of diabetes. I wanted more energy and to be a slim, happy-go-lucky, loaded-with-energy mommy.


Little did I know, I was going to fall in love with a healthy, natural lifestyle and active living. I didn't know I was going to develop a passion for nutrition and yoga. All I knew back in February was that I would be returning to work from my maternity leave come July, and I wanted to drop fifty pounds before going back.


Well, I started back to work last week. And this week ..
My new "50 lbs lost" charm!


I hit my first long-term goal!
Fifty pounds down. I'm SO happy!! Though funny enough, that's not what I'm most happy about.


I'm most happy about how I feel. I have lots of energy now. I can breathe so much easier. I look forward to my workouts (long walks, yoga, jogging). I get SO excited to eat fresh, healthy and nutritional foods and it's like Christmas in my house when we try new recipes. I can take my kids to the park and have it not feel like a chore because it's no effort on me physically anymore (I can fit down the slide now, too!!). I can play soccer with them and not run out of breath. I'm also proud to be showing my kids the fun that can be a healthy, active lifestyle. My son is showing a love for running and playing sports and my daughter, though still very young, loves walking, dancing, and playing catch. And I'm STILL eating foods that I love!


How cool is this lifestyle?!


I'm extremely out-of-this-world thrilled that I've lost fifty pounds!!! And I'm also happy about all that I have gained along the way.


And the best has yet to come! :)
My wonderful keychain collection :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pumpkins - not just for Halloween anymore!

I've been buying a lot of pure, canned pumpkin lately (too bad I can't buy it fresh this time of year!). The only thing is, there's tons of it in the HUGE can and I only need one cup for the cupcakes I've been making, and I don't like to waste, so I've been coming up with different ways to use it.
Pumpkin in lasagna! yummmm
Yeah .. We all heart pumpkin pie.
Turns out that it goes great with almost everything and it is SO good for you!


Many people don't know that pumpkins are part of the squash family. They're an amazing vegetable (fruit! They have seeds!) that are loaded with many healthy properties, such as ...


Beta Carotene: studies have shown that people who eat foods rich in beta carotene are less likely to develop certain cancers.


Potassium: this amazing property has the ability to help those suffering with hypertension.


Zinc: zinc is a major boost for your immune system, and it also helps your bone density to help those with osteoporosis.


Fiber: pumpkins are loaded with fiber, and we all understand the benefits of fiber! Happy digestive tracts!


Pumpkin has also been known to help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, has anti-inflammatory properties (goodbye, arthritis pain!), has alpha-hydroxy acids that help reduce the signs of aging in the skin, and is full of vitamins A and C.


So next time you carve your pumpkin for Halloween, don't just eat the seeds - the rest of it (not the skin!) is just as amazing too.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Garlic Buttery Beans

I am NOT a fan of green or yellow beans.


Not at all. Whatsoever. I'd rather eat dryer lint.


Or so I thought. Enter Daddy Lego!


We were at our local heaven, Farm Boy, picking up some ingredients for dinner. We were stuck on the veggie sidedish - do we go with something comfy and familiar, or something different? I desperately wanted something different .. And knowing the many health benefits of fresh beans, I decided to take one for the team and have them with dinner. Just because I don't like beans, doesn't mean my family can't have them, right?!


So Daddy Lego taught me how to pick the freshest beans and back home we went with our big bag o' beans and a pit of dread in my stomach.


He snapped the ends off and steamed them for a few minutes (just enough to lightly soften them, not cook them through). Then he sautéed them in roasted garlic and light butter, threw on a tiny dash of sea salt, and they were ready.
They're reaaaaaady!


He served me my steaming pile of beans on the side of our cannelloni, and being "healthy lifestyle" trained, I started in on the veggies first (plus, it was a great way to get those things off my plate!!).


I, Mama Lego, hereby declare ... That I absolutely loved the beans.


You heard it here first, folks.
Mmmmm


They were still lightly crunchy, a tiny bit salty, and just delicious. I was actually upset that we didn't have more.


It makes me rethink some of the other foods I came to dislike over my life ... Maybe I should give liver another shot?


Pfffffft not gonna happen! I'll stick with the beans!

Important Running Lesson!

So I learned something big during my run the other day. Well, I learned a couple of somethings.


One, I learned that when the sun is high in the sky and there is 10+ degrees of humidity, that I probably shouldn't be running outside. Although I did melt off quite a bit of fat. Sweat is good! But ... If the birds aren't even out and the trees are whimpering, I shouldn't go out.


Two, I learned why it is so important to run more than once a week. Did I ever struggle with this run. Not because of the intense heat, not because of my asthma ... I didn't have a hard time regulating my breathing or anything. It was my legs that were giving me a hard time!! They were groaning so loud with every step I took that I was scaring away the groundhogs! It was as though I was wearing a 25lbs ankle weight on each foot. My legs were like cement. I'm lucky I'm not sore today!


So, the lesson I learned: make more time to run so that my legs don't stiffen up and turn against me. Because I do not want to fight through my runs .. It takes the fun out of it!


Ps. Thanks to Flo Rida's Wild Ones album for the kick-ass running music! I really pushed my way through this run because of his music - it motivated me to push harder!
My smile reads: I'M DONE! Thank GOD!!

The week of July 20th - Smarten Up Salads!

This week's meeting was brought to us by Joanne, an amazing and energetic leader who really gave me that motivation I was lacking from last week's meeting!


(side note: WOW do I ever admire her - she's the type of leader I dream of being one day!! C'monnnnn goal weight!!)


She started off the meeting by introducing us to another lady who is in training to become a leader (another boost of motivation for me - I can't WAIT to be in her shoes!!!!). She told us quickly about her WW background and how she'd lost her weight.


And then Joanne brought out these tiny little one-point cupcakes that she had made for us, and they were incredible! It's definitely a recipe I plan on making some day soon (and of course I'll share it here, too!).


Tonight's meeting was about how to make your salad better. Everyone volunteered up their favorite toppings (spinach! Avocado! Bacon! Watermelon! Celery!). We went through some recommendations on how to make your salad better:


Salad isn't just a lettuce-tomato-onion type of meal. Get creative! There's so much out there!
1. Load up on the zero-point vegetables. You'll feel satisfied longer and your body will be happily taking in all those nutritional goodies.


2. If you're going to have lettuce as a base, try to stay away from iceberg lettuce. It's almost 100% water (which is a good thing, yes!) but it doesn't have much in terms of nutrients. Try to go for spinach, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, or radicchio.


3. Make sure to measure out any toppings that have a points value. That way your healthy salad won't (accidentally) have more points than a Big Mac!


4. Always try to have protein in your salad. Chop up some cooked chicken breast, or a hard boiled egg, or toss in a handful of almonds. Protein is what will keep you full for longer periods of time. Also, try cutting your protein into smaller pieces, that way it's spread out more through your salad and you get that flavor throughout every bite!


5. Unless it's fat-free or low in points (or unless you really want it and have the points for it), avoid creamy salad dressings. Try going for a vinaigrette instead.


6. When dining out, order the salad dressing on the side. Then dip your fork into the dressing for every bite. You'll end up using much less dressing and it tastes the same!


S - satisfying
A - attractive
L - low in points
A - adaptable
D - delicious!
Joanne showing us the cute SALAD acronym!


Tonight, one member got her 16-week keychain charm AND her 30-pound sticker! Wow!! Another lady got rewarded for her first five-pound loss. Awesome! I get do inspired by others' weight loss success!


Have a fantastic week, everyone!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh-So-Moist Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes

These cupcakes are SO moist and chocolatey that you would swear they were absolutely horrible for your healthy lifestyle.


But they're nnnnnnnot!


I found the base recipe on Skinnytaste and as always, tickered with it to make it "mine"!


Preheat the oven to 350. Start with one package of chocolate cake mix (I prefer chocolate fudge cake - although someday I will be trying to make this from scratch!). Instead of using the eggs and oil as the box instructs you to, use a cup and a third of water, and one cup of pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!). Then add a package of low-fat chocolate instant pudding mix. Blend until thoroughly mixed and spoon into your prepared cupcake liners. The batter will be very thick. Bake for as long as the box instructs you to (usually around 22 minutes). To make the recipe "mine", I added a small splash of vanilla extract and a small splash of orange extract. YUM!


To make larger cupcakes, I've been spooning the batter into 12 liners (which would make them 4 points each) but you can also make 24 small cupcakes for two points each.


For icing, I love using our homemade light chocolate mousse (see the recipe here). It is so light and creamy without being too rich, and perfectly compliments the moist chocolatey flavor of the cupcake. The icing adds one point per large cupcake, bringing the grand total to five points per yummy treat!


Yeah, these are pretty darned yummy and have gone over great at parties! Perfect for all chocolate lovers who want to stay on track :)


So .. to anyone that tasted these cupcakes at my place these past two weekends: did you know there was pumpkin in it?! Couldn't even taste it, huh?!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Okay, I'll admit ...

I had a couple of "oopsies" this weekend. Well, more like a two-day long oopsie.


Have you ever heard that phrase, "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail"? (come on fellow WW family members - you KNOW you've heard it!!)


Well, to be honest, I never fully understood that phrase. Until this weekend. Here's my story:


I'm returning to work next week after being off for a year on maternity leave, and then two more months on unpaid leave of absence. When I'm working, Daddy Lego will be home with the kids, and then I'll be home while he is at work, which means we'll have very little Parent Lego alone time. So this past Friday night, we had a date night to enjoy our alone time together while we still could.


Not the greatest quality, but here we are looking over the locks at the canal :)
We'd planned to go to our favorite restaurant, have our most favorite appetizers and main courses, and spend the night on the town, walking off our meals. We had our points set aside and planned to stay on track. All was great.


Well. We got to the Hard Rock Cafe and were shocked to discover their menu had changed and my favorite dish in the entire world, the one I craved for weeks at a time, the same one dish I got every single time I ate there for the last seven years, the dish I PLANNED on having in my tracker ... Was no longer on the menu.


No problem! Shrugged it off, ordered something comparable. Then my husband and I decided to order potato skins (since our planned-on favorite appetizer was also off the menu). And then after dinner, went to a cupcake shop that sold cupcakes as big as our heads. And got one each.
Daddy Lego had the chocolate chipotle and I had the apple dulce de leche  
So we went off track a little. No biggie! I had my weekly bonus points that I hadn't used yet. I was still okay.


The next day came along .. And it's SO tough to get back on track once you've had a night of mindless eating.


This is where my failing to plan failed me. I should have planned out my meals that day and stuck to it (heck, I normally have a meal plan drawn up for the week, but we hadn't done our groceries yet so ...)


I completely went off track. I'm not going to get into the gory details, but rest assured, it wasn't pretty, I used all of my remaining bonus points (and then some!), felt suuuuper gross when it was all said and done (and devoured!), and put on FOUR pounds.


No negative self-talk, no regrets, no depressed feelings about my binge and lack of self-control. It's done, it's behind me, it's over, and now I move forward. Back to my planning, back to tracking, back to feeling great about my healthy lifestyle.


Because, wow ... What I ate last night has me feeling sluggish, cranky, and run down today. I want happy, feeling great, loaded-with-energy Mama Lego back!!


Lessons learned (yet again). Plan ahead, stick to it, indulge every now and then but get back to it the next day! I have worked too hard to get where I am today, to let a couple of bad foodie days ruin it!!


So I'll probably see a gain on the scale tomorrow night at WW (in fact, I'm counting on it!). But instead of being upset about it - I'll use that as motivation to work even harder to get to my goal!


Have a wonderful Sunday everyone! Keep smiling :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Blog Title and Design!

Hi Everyone! I guess it's pretty obvious that Mama Lego's Happy Place got a bit of a makeover! I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do! 


As much as I adored my previous title, I felt it didn't really help describe what my blog was about. Hopefully this way, new readers will see what my blog is about by just reading the new title! 


Pretty!
Have a fabulous weekend .. Don't forget to sunscreen, keep hydrated, and laugh lots!


And, as always, feel free to share my blog with any friends or family members that you feel would enjoy reading it! :)

Homemade Multigrain Croutons

My husband and I used to be BIG on buying those premade Caesar salad kits. They're cheap enough, convenient, and pretty tasty. We always bought the "light" kit, which had a lighter dressing and croutons, but no cheese or bacon bits.


Then we realized ... Um. We're paying $4 for romaine and croutons and a little dressing?! When we have our favorite Renee's dressing and parmesan cheese at home in the fridge?! And romaine lettuce is $0.79?! And we can just make our own croutons?!


So we ended up paying $2 all together for a head of romaine lettuce and a fresh baked loaf of multigrain bread. And we've been able to have two Caesar salads so far and still have ingredients left to make more!
A close-up of croutony goodness.


Daddy Lego made the most incredible croutons out of that multigrain loaf. I still dream about them at night.


Here's how to make them:


Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Take four pieces of bread (try not to get a moist, dense bread - if you prefer really crunchy croutons, go for a lighter bread) and cut them (or rip them) into small pieces (slighter bigger than playing dice). Toss them in with 2 tbsp of light butter and 2 tsp of fresh minced garlic. Spread them out on a baking tray and bake for one hour. Cool to room temperature and add them to your Caesar salad - yum!!


How easy was that?!


With the thin-sliced multigrain bread we used and the light butter, our croutons were two points per serving (half a cup!). Delicious, all natural, fresh and homemade with no question to how long they were sitting on a shelf in the grocery store. That makes me smiley :)


Enjoy!
All homemade yummies - caesar salad, croutons, red pepper marinara sauce and panzerottis! Will be posting more recipes soon!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Potty Training = Inspiration to lose weight?!

It seems I really can find motivation from just about anywhere - and this is a good thing since the WW meeting I'd planned to drop in on today was closed this week due to summer day camps!


My son, Boy Lego, has just turned three. He was a "late" bloomer when it came to potty training (and I say "late" because we started him when he was ready, instead of starting him when all the parenting books told us we should!). In any case, he's been day-trained for a couple of months now and only needed diapers during nap time and overnight. Well, yesterday Daddy Lego and I saw the signs that he was ready to go without his diaper during nap time, so we tried it and he came out dry. Yay! We tried the same thing overnight (woke him up before we went to bed to make him potty), then left his door partly open and the light on in the bathroom to make it easy for him to go overnight. Lo and behold, he woke up at around six, used the potty (he called for help getting his undies back on, because since he was groggy and still half asleep, he got them tangled around his legs!) and went back to bed!


Daddy Lego and I were just beaming with pride.


And it got me thinking. It has been Boy Lego's habit (by nature) to go to the bathroom in his diaper since birth. And now, at three years old, he was able to train himself to listen to his body's cues and use the toilet when he needs to.


And then there's me. I've developed eating habits over my lifetime that were not by nature, but have become second nature to me. If I was sad, I'd eat. If I was bored, I'd eat. If I was celebrating something, I'd eat! Even if I wasn't hungry, I would eat.


If my tiny little three-year-old Boy Lego could break a habit he has had since birth, then I could certainly break my destructive eating habits too, right?!


Absolutely. In the words of Stone Cold Steve Austin (we're a big wrestling family!): Oh Hell Yeah!!


I found inspiration to keep strong and develop healthy habits witth potty training. Did you find yours today? Share your story! :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's the little things ..

Every now and then, I get reminders of how cool weight loss and regular exercise can be. Let me elaborate.


Today I was doing puzzles on the floor with the kids, and had to get up to answer the door ... And getting up off the floor was effortless. No pain, no struggles, no starting once and stumbling back down and having to start again. Just up and away!


The other day I was bringing some cardboard to the basement (I live on the second floor in the apartment building). Mama Lego of old would have taken the elevator back up to the second floor. New Lifestyle Change Mama Lego didn't even consider the elevator - I just took the stairs. Four flights. Before I would have struggled after the first flight of stairs and would have been gripping onto the railings to pull myself up each step - and this time I was able to get up the stairs without even touching the railing! That was a huuuuge accomplishment for me! And even cooler - I wasn't struggling for breath.


For my birthday this year (in May) I bought myself a pair of capris. I'd been stupid and didn't try them on, I just assumed they would fit because they were my normal size. Yeah ... They were nowhere near close to fitting me. I could barely get them up past my knees!! So embarrassing and discouraging. But! It is now almost exactly two months later and they fit me! I can get them up and tie them! I just can't sit in them because the full moon would be out and about .. But maybe another ten more pounds and I'll be able to wear them. And that excites me so much!!


I found my hip bones!! I HAVE hip bones!!
I'm totally tooting my own horn here, but ... The fact that I was able to put those capris on at all, and effortlessly get up off the floor, and take the stairs easily all served as wonderful reminders of all the hard work I've done. It really does pay off in the end. And it is SO rewarding! So yay me! :)


What weight loss reminders have you come across along your way? Do you find you need less seatbelt to buckle yourself in? Or maybe you don't take up quite as much room on the couch? Let me hear them! Give yourselves a cyber pat on the back!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The week of July 16 - Activate Your Activity!

This week at WW, I was sad to see Leslie wasn't in (insert bottom lip pout here) and though the replacement leader was very nice, I found I just didn't get the motivation I needed .. So I'll definitely be heading to another WW meeting sometime during the week!


Tonight's topic was about getting active - not the part where you're actually exercising, but instead focusing on getting yourself to the point of exercising.


How many of you keep your running shoes tucked away in a closet somewhere? How many of us have our exercise bike locked up in storage? Or have a treadmill folded up under the couch? Or make any excuse to NOT exercise?


I'll admit - I can pretty much be the queen of making up reasons why I can't exercise. I'm just too busy, there's no time, I'm too tired, who'll watch the kids .. I've used them all.


But then I have to remind myself - when I make an excuse to not exercise, I'm really the one who is losing out. My body and my health will be losing the benefits of that workout. My body and health are WAY more important than burrowing myself into a comfy hole in the comfy couch in front of the comfy tv. And besides - how much more AWESOME does it feel to get to burrow myself into the couch after a thorough workout and a long, refreshing shower?!


Here are some tips that were discussed during tonight's meeting on how to motivate yourself to exercise:


1. Keep your exercise gear in plain sight. The phrase "out of sight, out of mind" is true and will be true for your workout gear. You won't think to go for a walk if your shoes aren't right at the door. Sometimes you need to be reminded to get active, and having your running shoes in plain sight will give you that nudge to get moving!




2. Prepare your supplies in advance. If you plan to go to the gym tomorrow, pack your gym bag the night before with all your gym necessities. That way, when the time to gym it up arrives, you're ready and organized and have no excuses not to go!


3. As convenient as it can be to have at-home exercise equipment that folds away under the couch or into the hallway closet - try not to do so! When it comes down to your time to get riding that bike, and it isn't ready to go - will you be? Or would you say you don't feel like clearing the room to make room for it and setting it up and oh, there just isn't time .. Don't give yourself the opportunity to come up with excuses. If the bike is set up already, you'll be able to get biking. there would be no reason not to!


4. Make sure you choose an exercise you love doing. If you find yourself looking forward to your next session, great!! That'll serve as extra motivation to do it. If you find yourself dreading your evening jog, then maybe that isn't the right exercise for you; it'll be SO easy to give into the temptation to stay home with a good movie. Find something you enjoy and stick with it!


5. Make your exercise fun! If you're running on your treadmill at home, do it in front of the tv with a favorite show. Go for evening walks with a good friend or family member. Put on some upbeat music and dance it up while you're dusting the furniture! The more fun your activity is, the more likely you are to stick with it.


Love this!! 
Hopefully when I go to another meeting this week, I'll hear some more great tips to share. Does anyone have any they'd like to pass on? :)


One WW member (whom I've gotten to know over the past few weeks!) got her 25 lbs reward today! What a HUGE achievement! I know how hard she worked for her success and I'm so happy for her!


I was down 1.5 lbs, rounding up my weight loss to a happy 44 lbs total. I'm all smiles!


Have a fantastic week, everyone!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meatless Mexican Omelette

With all the Mexican cooking Daddy Lego and I have been up to this week, we've had a lot of leftovers and a lot of wonderful ingredients to use! Since we love to experiment with new twists to old favorites, we came up with this meatless Mexican omelette.
Gooey cheesy goodness .. Oh, and veggie goodness.
Preheat your oven to 350, then start with one egg and one egg white, and mix gently with a fork. Add a pinch of cumin and chili powder to the egg mixture. Set your pan on the stove top over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Wait until the pan is heated through before pouring your egg mixture in (or else it will mix in with the spray and stick to the pan!) 

Add one tablespoon of yellow corn, two tablespoons of rinsed, no-salt added black beans, a handful of bell peppers and tomatoes, red onions and grated carrots (why not?!) on top of the egg mixture. Then top with half a serving (about half a 1/3 cup) of Kraft light tex mex cheese blend and then put the whole pan into your preheated oven. Cook until your omelette is cooked to your desired amount (some people prefer runnier omelettes, some people prefer them more well done, like me!). Fold your omelette in half, and serve.

Bursting with flavor and nutrients!
My omelette is approximately seven points, but as always, you can subtract or lessen certain ingredients (like the cheese) to help reduce your overall points value. Feel free to experiment with your favorite Mexican flavors to invent an omelette of your own!

Mmmmm

Keep on Running ..

So it's been hot. Like REALLY hot, and humid .. The type of weather that doesn't play nicely with my fussy asthma.


But I've kept right on running.


One of my biggest worries about my decision to run a 5K was my knees .. I used to play (and LOVED) volleyball in high school and actually did some pretty good damage to both my knees, but especially the right one. On both my runs this week, my knee pain began to flare up again. Big time.


But I kept right on running.


This week has been CrAzY busy, in preparation for my Lego Children's birthday parties. Every day there were errands to run, food to prepare, and all sorts of small but necessary tasks to take care of. It would have been so easy to say, "Too busy to go!".


But I kept right on running.


Today was the joint birthday party for my babies. I can't believe Brother Lego is THREE and Sister Lego is ONE! They're growing so fast!! The day was crazy and non-stop and so much fun .. I was totally pooped and the couch was just calling my name ..


But I went for a run. It was the hardest one yet - the weather was HOT and so humid, my knee was screaming at me with every step I took, and I was running on a full stomach (never do that. SO stupid!!) and got a cramp. But I DID it! (And it made it so easy to turn down the leftover birthday cupcakes in the fridge!)


I made the commitment to myself that I was going to finish my 5K training program and that I was going to (do my best to) jog the entire Army Run come September. Those are my goals and I am determined to achieve them! I have zero desire to let myself down. (Plus, I must admit, I can see the difference that the running is making on my body - I'm getting toned in places I never thought possible to tone! Woot!)


And so ... I'll keep on running!
Hands-down, my hardest run yet (stupid humidity!). This was me about three minutes before a long, COLD shower!!



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mexi-Burgers

As I mentioned earlier on in the week, Daddy Lego and I have been pretty obsessed with Mexican foods lately. The flavors are incredible and the ingredients are so fresh!!


This week we've been making lots of different Mexican dishes. One of our favorites was our turkey burgers! They were SO moist and jam-packed with flavor and best of all: they were loaded with nutritional goodies!!


We started off with a package of extra lean ground turkey. Then we added in (all to taste - go nuts with the ingredients as you see fit!) chopped fresh cilantro, ground cumin, chili powder, fresh minced garlic, finely chopped red onion, a pinch of milled flax seeds and whole no-salt added black beans (rinsed!). We hand-mixed the meat and formed it into approximately 4.5 burger patties.

Yeah .. I'm still a cheese addict. But how GOOD does that look?!
We didn't use any oil or cooking spray when cooking the burgers over medium heat on the stovetop; we let the natural juices of the burger work the magic for us. (I wish we had a BBQ because I'm sure these would have tasted amazing fresh off the grill!)


We topped our burgers with guacamole, spinach, our light tex mex cheese and salsa. The flavor we got in each bite was just outstanding!


Each patty was four points, bringing each of our burgers to around eleven glorious points each (can you believe that the bun was worth four points too?!)


Remember, if you need to make adjustments to your toppings to bring down the points value, go for it! Your burger is your masterpiece!


Enjoy! :)
Our yummy dish = nutritional and flavor powerhouses! I'll post the recipe for the corn and bean salsa another day :)


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pineapple Confetti Cupcakes with Lemon

Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE to bake. It's so much fun, smells amazing in the oven, and the results are exciting to see and eat! The only downfall of baking is the clean-up .. But I think the treat is always worth it!


When I started WW in February, I thought my baking days would be behind me. How on earth could I bake my moist, decadent cakes with creamy and buttery homemade icing and still stay on plan?!


Well, I'm happy to report that I was w-r-o-n-g! I can still bake!! There are no NO's within a lifestyle change, but only a change of habits. I still bake, but this time, instead of keeping the whole dish to myself, I try to give away as much as possible (to willing neighbors and family / friends!) or I freeze the leftovers for a rainy day.


Or .. I find new, guilt-free recipes to make! I found this cupcake recipe on skinnytaste.com and had to make it. So I did, and I adored them, but I wanted to make them my own, for Daughter Lego's first birthday! So .. Here's my version of Pineapple Cupcakes!


All you need is one box of store-bought confetti cupcake mix and one can of crushed pineapple packed in juice. Mix them both together until they're well blended.


This is batter you actually CAN lick off the spoon .. No eggs!
This is where I made the recipe my own: I grated some lemon zest into the batter! It adds such a nice extra flavor to the cupcake. And I just love lemons.


Spoon the batter into your prepared cupcake liners. You can make either 24 small cupcakes or 12 large - for this batch I made 12 large and had enough batter leftover to make my daughter a small cake to smash. Bake for approx 20 minutes at 350, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.


We topped each cupcake with our favorite 95% fat-free Cool Whip, rounding out each cupcake to five points each. Not too shabby, considering store bought cupcakes are usually around the 10+ point mark!
A little guilt-free pleasure!
And to be honest, I find making these cupcakes with the pineapples and lemon to be not only more tasty, but WAY more moist, vs. making them with the oil and eggs that the box calls for. Wins all around for healthy eating!
I always find colorful foods to be so visually appealing .. and these cupcakes definitely are!


Happy birthday, my beautiful and wonderfully silly little baby girl!! :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The week of June 9th - Managing Your Slip-Ups!

I'll be honest here - Daughter Lego hasn't been sleeping great at night time and on top of that, I had a long day of running around like a headless chicken, so I had a bit of a hard time keeping focused on the meeting (though I really tried and really enjoyed!). I normally participate in the meetings but this week, I sat back and enjoyed listening to others.


I can't say enough about our leader, Leslie. She's great. Not only is she funny and entertaining, but she is also able to kick our butts when we're needing it and she's very honest. She is perfectly okay with admitting that even as a lifetime member with WW, and even as a leader, she has slip-ups on plan. She openly admitted to have frozen yogurt and twizzlers for dinner more than once over the past week. She also confessed to having fries at the chip truck and for buying a new type of ice cream and having to throw it out because she couldn't control herself around it. I love her honesty, and I can definitely relate to her story as there are many times I slip up, too. And it's nice to know that I'm not alone. If a leader and lifetime member can slip up and get back on track, then I know I can too!


Throughout the meeting we discussed various ways to recover from a slip-up.


1. Went to McDonalds to get your kids a happy meal, and wound up super-sizing a double quarter pounder meal for yourself? Learn from the experience. Ask yourself if it was worth it. If it was, then great, you had a nice treat. If it wasn't - why? Do you regret it? Did it make you feel gross? Take that feedback and run with it. Keep it in mind the next time you're wanting / craving that meal. It will help you make your decision!


2. Don't put yourself down. You wouldn't call your best friend a fatso and a pig for eating that poutine, so don't call yourself that! You had the poutine. Don't let that stop your progress. Brush it off and move forward!
Don't beat yourself up!
3. Don't wait until the next day or the next week or the next month to get back on track. Do it right away. The next meal. You had a bad lunch? Don't throw the whole day away! Start again at dinner, have a better meal. Sometimes it is harder to get back on track the day after you have a day-long slip-up .. Get back to it the same day! Don't let one boo boo muck up your success and hard work!


4. Do something right away to help yourself feel back in control. Binged on a container of ice cream? Throw the rest away. Go for a walk or a run. Track it in your points tracker. That way, you are still in control of your weight loss and your healthier lifestyle - and your food isn't in control of YOU!


Remember, we work SO hard to lose our weight and to be healthy. Don't let one slip-up ruin that hard work! Catch yourself before you get too far in and get back on track!


There was a lady tonight who finished her six-week goal weight maintenance ad got her lifetime membership after losing 109 pounds!! Talk about inspiration! She is just amazing!


And I hit the 40-pounds GONE mark!! Wooooohooooo!!


Have a fabulous week!

Buh byeeee, baby weight!!

This week was a big one for me.


I'm officially at 42 lbs lost .. And am now smaller than I was before I had my first baby!!


I haven't been this weight in over four years! I can't describe how happy I am, and how good I feel! I have so much more energy! And I don't struggle to breathe anymore when I walk!


Crappy picture (this was taken after a run!) but .. strike a pose! 42 lbs down! 
I'm brought to tears when I think about how far I've come on my healthy lifestyle quest. When I first joined WW in February, I didn't dream of coming this far! Now I'm at my before-baby weight, wearing clothes I never thought I could cram myself into again, and doing yoga and RUNNING!


Hard work pays off. So do dedication and determination.


Thank you to all of those amazing people who have supported me and encouraged me on my journey .. You know who you are. I love you more than I can put into words and am so grateful to have your help and support!


Here's to another 42!!! 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Decadent Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes

Breakfast decadence, anyone?!


Daddy Lego had been talking about making this breakfast treat for weeks now, and today was the day.


Oh. My ... Wow.


Warm, melted Lindt dark chocolate inside a fluffy whole wheat pancake, topped with a perfect raspberry syrup, a dollop of light cool whip and strawberries. Sound good? Here's how it's done!

I know, right?! WOW!
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 c milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
Lindt 70% dark chocolate bar
2 tbsp milled flaxseed
a splash of vanilla


Sift all the dry ingredients into a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, mix your dry ingredients. Soft the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Break up the chocolate bar and add to your mixture (as much as you'd like! Just keep track of the points!). Mix together and spoon onto a lightly greased stovetop pan on medium heat. Cook until ready.
The heroes of our decadent breakfast

Yep, it tastes as good as it looks. Maybe even better!
The entire batch before separating was 36 points. We were able to get 4 servings of 1/2 c each. That made each pancake 9 points, then we topped them each with 2 tbsp of pre-made raspberry syrup (though next time we plan to make our own coulis!) which was 1 point.


Now, we'd used the entire Lindt dark chocolate bar in our batch, which definitely increased the points value (and made it super ultra rich!)


Next time we plan to only use half the bar, which means it would make our pancake each worth about six points (before the syrup), but it was a wonderful treat this morning!

Chocolate lovers, rejoice! 
It was rich, it was deliciously bittersweet, it was decadent ... Amazing! If you are a chocolate lover, this pancake is for you!


And now we're heading out for a walk to burn it off!! And to brush our teeth!


Bon appetit!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dark Chocolate in all its Glory!



Yup, we've all heard the good news. Chocolate can be good for you!!

I'd say that's pretty celebration-worthy, yes!?

But did you know why chocolate is good? Besides in flavor, that is?

 The hero of the day is DARK chocolate, made with at least 60% cocoa. It is rich in flavenoids, the natural antioxidants that give red wine it's heart-healthyness. Researchers say that an ounce of 60% dark chocolate a day can help reduce blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol and even increase the blood flow to the brain. Dark chocolate is also full of anandamide and phenylethylamine, which are compounds that trigger the same feel-great endorphins that are brought on by sex and physical exertion! 

So it is true what some women say .. Chocolate can be as good as sex! 

Remember though. Just because dark chocolate has health benefits, does not mean it is okay to go hog wild on it. Up to two ounces a day is all that's needed to get all the goodness out of it, and to help cure that chocolate craving - and two ounces is not enough to make a difference on your waist line!


Mexi-Can-elloni!

My husband and I love cheese. It's mostly my addiction but it's one that he definitely shares in. I mean, come on! It's delicious and gooey and stretchy and a little salty and did I mention delicious?!


Before, we used to pair our cheese addiction with one of two things: pizza, and Italian foods like pasta. Mmmm pasta ..


Well, we still love to eat pizza (we make our own a lot - check out some of our creations here and here ) and we still eat pasta (on occasion - it's too hot and heavy for the summer!) but now we just absolutely adore pairing it with Mexican food. There are SO many amazing flavors that cheese ties in with so perfectly. You can do so much with Mexican foods too! You'll get to see a few recipes over the next little while featuring Mexican twists .. We're on a big kick right now!
Our Mexi-Can-elloni with a homemade black bean and corn whole wheat spiced rice
We made these Mexi-Can-elloni a couple of weeks ago. We started with whole grain tortilla wraps and filled each with (our sacred) a half portion of light Kraft tex mex cheese mix, ground turkey cooked in taco seasoning, guacamole (I'm addicted!!), bell peppers, spinach, green onions, and diced tomatoes. We then rolled them and baked them at 350 for about twenty minutes, just long enough to heat them through and melt the cheese. Then we topped them with a light tomato sauce and the remaining half of cheese, broiled for a couple of minutes, and served!


Yummmmm!
Guac, and lots of it, please!
It worked out to be about 15 points for the two Mexi-Can-elloni, and that can always be taken down in points with the amounts of cheese and guacamole you put into yours. Daddy Lego and I love our cheese and guac and had the points to spare, so we loaded it in!


Enjoy!!