Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blueberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes

blueberry pancakey goodness.
Pancakes and I? We have a great relationship. We go way back.

They're a simple breakfast that are easy to make, satisfying, and heart-warming. Huge bonus: they're a fantastic way to squeeze some fruit and nutrients into your breakfast and into your kids' bellies!

All you need:

- 1 and 1/4C whole wheat flour (you can use white flour if desired, but why not get in your whole grains?)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp flax
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1.5C of milk (more if you prefer a thinner pancake)
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 1C blueberries
- 1/2C dark chocolate chips

Toss all your ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together, adding in your blueberries and chocolate chips after your wet and dry ingredients are well mixed. My kids absolutely adore helping me mix the batter!
mixing fun!

Pour a desired amount of batter in a lightly greased pan (I use Pam) over medium heat until the tops of the pancakes start to bubble. Flip them over and keep them going until cooked through. I like my pancakes to be thinner so I flatten them while cooking, but my husband likes his fluffy so I let it rise!

Everyone in my house seems to have their own preferred pancake toppings - I adore using raspberry jam, Boy Lego loves his topped with yogurt, Daughter Lego likes hers plain, and Daddy Lego uses syrup.
me with my raspberry jam topping! yuuummm
definitely a child-approved recipe.
Prepare your batter before going to bed, and all you have to do is in the morning is cook and serve!

Public Service Announcement: best served with coffee. Just sayin'.

The entire batch comes out to be 23 points - so divide that by however many servings you get out of it. We make six medium pancakes out of our batch, so they cost roughly four points each. You can make 12 mini pancakes or even four huge ones - just make sure to calculate the points and don't forget to count your toppings too!

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Spare Ten Minutes!

At last week's WW meeting, we talked about how we can fit exercise into our busy schedules. I had to smile when I saw the meeting's topic because WOW, as a busy working mom and housewife, do I ever know about squeezing time into each day for exercise!

When the majority of us are asked, "Why don't you exercise more often?", our answer would be "I'm too busy! There's just not enough time in a day!". I'll admit, I've used that line a time or two (or twenty) in my life. Or this week.
so. very. true.
Many of us see exercising as getting together our sweats after a day of work, going to a gym, and working out for an hour, then showering and heading back home to prepare dinner for our families. If you can do that daily or even a couple of times a week - kudos to you!! Awesome!

But the vast majority of us just can't find that time. Between getting the kids ready for daycare or school, working a full day, meal planning and household duties, it can be extremely tough to get an hour away for exercise. And truth be told, once we can spare an hour, we truly want time for ourselves (a hot bath, relaxing with a good book, enjoying the golden silence of children sleeping ..).

We really should make the commitment to ourselves to get an hour of solid exercise in at *least* a couple of times a week. Be it an hour at a gym, going for a run, or rolling out a mat at home and moving to a cardio DVD - as long as it gets your heart going, do it!

However, on those days where getting an hour to work out just isn't in the cards, you CAN still get some exercise in. All it takes is ten minutes. And the location? Anywhere.

Waiting to pick up your child from school

Don't just sit in your car, checking Facebook updates on your phone (you know we all do it!). Jog laps in front of the school, or walk a lap around the track. Picking up litter too, is a great way to get moving and help to clean the environment!

In the waiting room at the doctor's office

Instead of sitting on a chair and reading last month's People magazine, do some wall-sits! Even standing to wait for your appointment is a better alternative to sitting. For someone of my weight, standing for ten minutes will burn about 21 calories - better than the zero I'd have burned by sitting on my arse!
Daughter Lego and I doing wall-sits .. Boy Lego is goofing around :)
Pumping gas:

Jog on the spot, or do squats. Instead of paying at the pump, walk inside to pay (and avoid those yummy tempting chocolate bars sold at the cash!).

Making dinner

Get some music going and dance it up! Make it a party and get your kids dancing too! Wear ankle weights to really get those leg muscles working.

Running errands

Walk instead of taking the car! You'll burn a lot more calories and use a lot less gas. Carrying home a 4L bag of milk is a great workout!
Walking to work instead of driving / taking the bus!
At work: 

We've all heard of taking the stairs vs taking the elevator .. For some different ideas, bring a jump rope to work and skip for ten minutes on your break. Do jumping jacks at your desk. Take a walk on your lunch hour. Instead of emailing a colleague a question, get up to go see them at their desk.
Remember how much fun it was to jump rope as a kid? It's still fun - and an amazing workout! :)
I have a 5lbs weight that I use at my desk at work. Every lift counts.
The bottom line here is to NOT let life get so busy that you can't take even ten minutes a day to exercise. Our bodies and our hearts need those ten minutes every day to keep performing at their best!

Weight loss begins with correcting our eating behaviors and making healthy food choices - weight loss continues with exercise, and a healthy lifestyle is maintained by those healthy food choices and regular exercise. They go hand-in-hand.

And so, I challenge you: will you make the promise to yourself to get at least ten minutes of exercise in every day? Let me know how you do it! I'd love to share your ideas!

I will be making the promise to myself. I know that an hour every single day isn't always doable with my work/home/mommy schedule, but ten minutes is an easy enough number to get in. And my kids adore exercising with me - so I'm going to make it a family activity! :)

Can't wait to hear how your ten minutes go! :)

Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Curried Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

So, I'm kind of obsessed with this soup. It's smooth and creamy and suuuuper healthy! Not only that, it is perfect for a cool day and it's so filling! I've been making big batches of this soup at a time and throwing it in the freezer for a quick go-to lunch. It's even great to have as a snack on those days where you want to eat but don't want any "bad" foods! :) Points value per cup: approximately three.

All you need:

- Five carrots, peeled and diced

- Two large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

- One small yellow onion, finely chopped

- One box of no-salt-added chicken broth

- 1.5C water

- Minced garlic (to taste)

- Minced ginger (to taste)

- 1 tbsp yellow curry powder

- Salt and pepper, if desired

All you do:

Throw all veggies into a pot with the container of no-salt-added chicken broth and water, and let it boil for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.

Pour the soup into a food processor and blend it down until there are no chunks of veggies remaining (or use an immersion blender!).

Pour the creamy soup mixture back into the soup pot. Add salt and pepper (to taste). Add one tbsp of yellow curry powder and let simmer for a few minutes.


(This soup can me made TONS of different ways - in fact, I've made many variations of it. This one was my favorite by far!)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Are You Hard On Yourself?

I've been horribly sick this week, as you all probably know from my whining.
My "sick Mama" essentials.
I don't get sick often, but when I do, it's usually pretty bad. This time around was no exception. Fevers, congestion, lack of breathing due to the combo of chest cold and asthma, severe headaches, no energy ..

And you know what? I handled it poorly. I was miserable. I sat around feeling sorry for myself. I gave myself trouble for not being able to make it into work. I stressed about the financial implications of my missing those two days of work. I became angry and frustrated with myself because I was unable to keep after the housework, and seeing it pile up was unacceptable to me. I felt like a bad mom for needing my kids to entertain themselves and a bad wife for not being able to have those hot meals ready for when hubby came home after a long, hard day at work - and then for making him do the dishes (he didn't care at all - but I did). I wasn't making the best food choices and my exercise had to be put aside for the time being .. I was so down on myself.

As I was talking to Daddy Lego last night (through the delirium of yet another fever), he made me realize something: unless I'd been bitten by a zombie during the day and was slowly transitioning into a Walker (I've been watching too much Walking Dead!), then I'm HUMAN.

Huh. I'm human. Who'd have thunk?

If my husband had been the one so sick, I'd have expected him to take time off work to recover. I'd have wanted him to take a break from his household responsibilities and rest. I'd have told him that the kids would be great if they entertained themselves for a day or two - they play so well together anyhow that they would never miss him! And I'd tell him not to beat himself up about his eating and fitness - that once he was feeling better, he'd get back on track in no time and his strength and determination would be stronger than ever.

So why was it so easy for me to say those things to Daddy Lego (or anyone else in that position) but not to myself?

Turns out I'm pretty hard on myself. And I'll bet I'm not the only one out there who is unrealistically tough on myself (or ourselves).

Maybe something for me (us?) to work on!

My healthy lifestyle journey isn't just about healthy eating and exercising - it's also about keeping a positive outlook in life throughout any situation. I wasn't being very positive this week. And y'know what, that's okay. Remember how I learned about being human? Apparently, humans make mistakes. True story! And as long as we learn from the mistakes we make, we're only bettering ourselves!

So, lesson learned. I'm going to go a little easier on myself and accept the fact that I.am.sick. I need to rest and take it easy while my body works on getting rid of this virus. As long as it doesn't become a fire hazard, then the housework can wait, my kids will be great, my husband will still love me if he has to make dinner. And he'll do it with a smile because he wants to see me get better and is happy to help.

Life will return to its regular scheduled programming once I'm better.

Are you super hard on yourself too? Here's one thing you can try: fill in a permission slip for yourself. Give yourself permission to do that one thing you give yourself trouble for. Here's mine: 
And another example:
I'm sure he gives himself tons of trouble over all the cookies he eats!
I'm going to remember to write out a permission slip for something when I'm giving myself a hard time. Then, in order to keep in control of myself and my situation, I will make a promise to myself:

Atta boy, Santa!!
It's all about our journey and the lessons we learn along the way. We learn that sliced apples with peanut butter is a more nutritious snack over chips and cookies, going for a long walk is better than couch-potato'ing, and that being nice to ourselves does a lot for our well-being. One day, one lesson, at a time :)

PS. I'm still sick - but feeling a LOT better because of my new positive outlook. Even if I can't breathe. (ha!)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Those Signs ..

I have a terrible cold today. I don't get sick often, but when I do, I get it BAD. So I was sitting here, feeling sorry for myself, and needed to cheer myself up. So I got to thinking ..

Over the past few weeks, I've been noticing things. I've been getting those signs.

Signs of weight loss!!!

And those signs I've been seeing are WAY better than any number on a scale could do for me!

Sign One: I've had to start wearing my reading glasses again because my headaches were back, screaming at me to help out my strained eyes ... And they don't fit well. They don't grip my face quite like they used to and are always slipping off .. Because I've lost weight! The glasses were initially fit to my chubbier face!! Time for an adjustment :):)

Sign Two: I was stuck behind an elderly lady at the store, holding a 4L bag of milk in my hand. This lady was taking for-ev-er because she was trying to convince the cashier to let her buy a Student Price Card (that only students can buy with proof of student ID) .. The cashier couldn't sell it to her and blah blah blah ... I'm standing there, waiting to buy this bag of milk, and wait a minute - Normally I'd be struggling to hold the heavy bag of BRICKS but I wasn't .. I was comfortably standing, holding this heavy bag, struggle-free. That's a testament to my daily planks, yoga, and the weight-lifting at my desk at work - my muscles are getting stronger, therefore I'm not struggling with heavy objects like I did before! (okay, that wasn't really an example of weight loss, but it was kinda related).
Working out at work!
Sign Three: my Sweat Pink swag came in! I was nervous when I ordered the largest size (XL) for my tank top because they said everything was sized small. I'm just starting to fit into a regular XL so I thought for sure the tank wouldn't fit. I was happily wrong!! It was SO exciting to fit into that tank top and I wear it with so much pride!!
Kicking ass is best done in pretty shoes! :)

It fits!!!
Sign Four: I pulled my Fall / Winter coat out of the closet. Last year, in order to fit into it, I'd have to lift it up so that it sat on top of my hips instead of wearing it over them like the jacket was made to. This year? It slides nicely down over my hips AND my bum and I've got room to spare!!! (the only downfall of the coat? Not finding cash in the pockets when I pulled it out of the closet!)

Sign Five: I was able to walk into a Halloween costume store, see the one thing I wanted, tried it on, and did NOT have to ask for a larger size! (which is a good thing because I tried on their largest and if it didn't fit, I would have been out of luck!)
Mama Thor!
Who needs a scale to see how your weight loss progress is going when you can have signs like those? I'm so incredibly happy :)

This serves as a reminder to me. I broke up with my scale quite some time ago and now that I'm back to my weekly WW meetings, I've found myself pulling out my scale more frequently .. And that's a habit I'd like to break again. My goal isn't just a number - it's a lifestyle balanced with healthy choices and habits. It's about feeling good! And that cannot be measured on my scale!

And so .. Scale who?!

Have you been getting any signs? I'd love to hear about them!!