So you know those forty-or-so extra points that Weight Watchers gives you for treats and stuff throughout the week? Well, yesterday I used A LOT of them. Twenty-two to be exact.
To give you some perspective, Continue reading
So you know those forty-or-so extra points that Weight Watchers gives you for treats and stuff throughout the week? Well, yesterday I used A LOT of them. Twenty-two to be exact.
To give you some perspective, Continue reading
Even though I’m only five days into my summer weight loss journey, I feel like there’s so much I could talk about. So in order to keep this post focused, let’s just discuss food for today.
Cutting out junk food really feels like a cleanse. Of course I’ve been drinking more water, snacking on fruit, and eating smaller portions, but what has been so significant is making the distinction between wanting to stuff my face and actually being hungry. I had become so used to regularly allowing myself things like pizza, burgers and ice cream, so now it feels kind of weird restricting those foods again. But it’s a good weird. It feels good to make healthy choices at restaurants and pack myself a healthy lunch to take to work. And It gives me a reason to come up with and try new recipes.
Since I remembered having Continue reading
Well then! A lot of monumental things happened in February. It was a stressful and exciting month to say the least. On February 8th, Philip made good on his promise to provide me with 1 kitten as a late Christmas present.
Photo By Ryan Mowery
Her name is Zoey–after Zoe Saldana–and she has drastically improved the condition of my life. She is sweet, silly, and makes me laugh. Isn’t she cute!?
It’s amazing how having another creature depend on you can really make you feel much more like an adult. It’s a really nice feeling knowing that someone wants me home, and it evokes in me a feeling of belonging somewhere. Animals are great that way. They make home feel like home.
Two days after adopting Zoey from the Oregon Humane Society, the dawn of February 10th came upon us: mine and Philip’s Three Year Anniversary. Epic, right? So epic that we actually got each other gifts (we don’t usually do this). From Philip I received the ever-appropriate spa certificate. Here’s a hint to any man who will ever buy a gift for a woman: Flowers. Jewelry. Spa certificate. I guarantee you that those are your best bets, (I spoke with my council and we concur). For Philip I got us each a ticket to see the Ducks play the Beavers in the Civil War game at the new Matthew Knight Arena. We both gave each other the gift of a desired experience, which was nice.
On the night of our three-year the festivities included a homemade–and might I add delicious–dinner that we made together, the movie Easy A (pretty funny), and an all-night-cuddle session with Zoey.
Adulthood story number three is the tale of me selling my car. If you were following on Facebook, you will have already seen the photo of me hugging the Plymouth Neon that I’ve had for the past five years…you know, this one:
Her name is Debbie. Well, her name was Debbie. May she rest in peace.
Her new owner now holds the power to re-name my tenacious little car however she sees fit. Despite my initial sadness over the fact, I have found immense joy in what I am about to announce: I am now the owner of a shiny, girly and white 2001 Honda CR-V. She doesn’t have a name yet, but it will come to me when the time is right. Oh wait, it just came to me.
Harriet. Her name is Harriet. Harriet the Honda.
In addition to the aforementioned happenings, I have also been re-experiencing the challenges of living alone and eating healthy. Without the convenience of having my mother around to promptly stock the fridge, I haven’t been cooking nearly as often as usual. The last time I had an adult meal was on mine and Philip’s anniversary.
We made salmon, broiled asparagus, and hot red potato salad. I call it an “adult meal” because the potato side dish alone had several steps and ingredients that took a great amount of my attention, effort and focus.
So this is the recipe that I will share with you today.
Hot Red Potato Salad
Adapted from The Jacob Family Recipes
As is usually the case with great recipes, this one was passed on to me. My former roommate Rachel shared this gem with me a couple years ago. I think it was a family recipe because she made it at her little sister’s graduation party and that’s when I fell in love with it. Although I’m not sure if I’m still doing it right, I have found that I am quite pleased making it my way, however much adapted. It’s great for serving lots of people at summer barbecues and picnics. The ingredient measurements are based more off my own preference than anything, so don’t take them too seriously. For instance, I usually make about 2-3 potatoes per person (believe me, you will want seconds). Here’s what I did for just me and Philip:
Wash the potatoes and cut off the bad spots. You can peel them if you’d like but I like to leave the skins on. Chop the potatoes into quarters or a little smaller. Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes or until just tender enough to bite. The skins should still be on the potatoes. Do not overcook because they will continue to cook in the skillet.
Heat garlic, olive oil and onions in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot and the garlic starts to brown, add the potatoes to the pan. Continue to cook over medium until the sides of the potatoes are brown.
Meanwhile, combine and stir together sour cream and ranch seasoning mix in a small bowl. When mixture is thoroughly blended, pour it into the skillet with the potatoes and stir. Then stir in chives, salt and pepper, and parmesan. Let the potato salad simmer over low heat for 3-5 minutes.
Serve with parmesan. Yield 3-4 servings.
Christmas cookies are the devil. Actually, they often take the shape of angels, trees, Santas and sleighs, but that’s beside the point.
The point is, my kitchen was overpopulated by Christmas cookies this season, and I only have myself to blame.
Traditionally, the plan is to make loads upon loads of Christmas cookies and then send them on their merry way to friends and family who live within a 20 minute drive. But this is not what happened this year. Although I fully intended on delivering cookie plates (I do it every year), the cookies didn’t seem to go anywhere but my stomach. My brother and I even forgot to put out cookies and milk for Santa (we still do this every year even though we both know we are only bombarding my mother with the task of chomping down cookies in her half-asleep state). All I’m saying is, very few cookies left my possession, and it has been a very dangerous situation. Actually, since there is still a significant amount of cookies in my kitchen, it’s still a pretty dangerous situation. That being said, things could have been a lot worse.
As many of you know, I set out a goal to not gain ANY holiday weight. If it wasn’t for the ferocious Insanity Workout, I’m not sure I would be in the position that I am in today: 5 pounds lighter! I can hardly believe it when I look at the scale, but it’s true. Instead of gaining, I actually lost weight during the Holidays. And I still ate cookies.
It seems that the key to losing weight while freely indulging in Christmas cookies is doing the Insanity Workout every night before bed. Since Insanity is so insane, my physical activity outweighed my seasonably excessive caloric intake. I’m sure that being on my feet for 9-hour work days helped too.
While I’m not sure if I’ll lose a total of 15 pounds by January 16th, I am very pleased with the success of my primary goal to not gain weight over the course of the Holiday season. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without making the sacrifices I did: 40 minutes of daily insanity, and choosing healthier options when I could. For example, when buying food on my lunch break, I would go for a Jamba Light smoothie from Jamba Juice, or a half turkey sandwich and side salad from the Nordstrom Café. I even incorporated healthier options into my holiday baking. Instead of making Oreo Truffles with the full-fat ingredients, I made them with the lightest ingredients I could find at my local Thriftway. They ended up being 175 calories and 8 grams of fat per truffle. Even so, it was difficult to limit myself to two truffles. Take my experience as a warning.
Reduced Fat Oreo Truffles
This is probably the simplest recipe I can think of, but I’ll try to make it exciting for you.
Combine Oreos and cream cheese in a large bowl. Mix together with a wooden spoon, crunching the Oreos in with the cream cheese (you can also use a Kitchen Aid mixer for this if you have a beater that is strong enough). Stir until the mixture is consolidated and somewhat creamy. It’s okay if there are still a few chunks of Oreo.
Form Oreo-cream cheese mixture into tablespoon-sized balls and place on cookie sheets. Don’t be afraid to get your hands a little gooey, it’s inevitable.
Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl as the package instructs. After the balls are all formed, you have a choice to make. You have the option of either dunking the balls into the chocolate, or using a spoon to pour the chocolate over the Oreo balls. If you choose to dunk them, I would advise refrigerating the balls for about an hour beforehand. I, however, am impatient and prefer to just pour the chocolate on. It’s just easier.
After you have chosen your path, you might want to lick all the chocolate off your fingers. That’s usually pretty important. Now, clear out some room in your fridge, and place the truffle-covered cookie sheets in there. Let them sit in the refrigerator until the chocolate is hard and cold, (usually at least an hour).
After they’re done hardening, and you’ve eaten a few, it is now time to invite all your friends over so that you don’t have to eat them all by yourself. Believe me, it will be tempting to try.
I love pasta, potatoes, and bread. There’s no getting around this fact.
Two weeks ago, I told myself that I would significantly cut back on carbs. I haven’t done as well as I planned, and I take full responsibility for that. I’m working through it. Perhaps the reason for my behavior is my perverse obsession with pasta. It’s one of my favorite things to cook and eat! Whenever I think of what I’m going to make for dinner, the words that pop–almost violently–into my head are ziti! fettuccine! ravioli! LASAGNA!
It’s hard to pass-up dishes like these. Like I said, I’m working through it.
This is why it’s so heartbreaking when I go on a weight loss plan. Because pasta dishes–namely those involving a cream sauce–aren’t exactly a suitable dinner option. Let’s face it: No one can go to the Olive Garden, order the fettuccine alfredo, and then be genuinely confused as to why they’re not losing weight. It just doesn’t work like that.
However, because I told myself that I would not deny myself of ANY foods during the holiday season, I decided last night that I would attempt a healthy version of a cream sauce. I know what a lot of you are thinking: There’s nothing healthy about cream sauce.
That being said, I did the best I could.
This is probably a good time to mention that I don’t intend on making this regularly. By no means is this recipe appropriate for days like today. (Today my dinner consisted of 1) chicken, and 2) broccoli. And did I mention I ran a 5k?) This recipe is for days when my carb-cravings must be silenced with pure satisfaction. The days that I ravage the take-out food listings with a disturbed look in my eye.
Mark my words: On days that do not include the aforementioned, I do not recommend this recipe as a staple for weight loss. Consider yourselves warned.
Shrimp Linguine in Lemon Butter Cream Sauce Adapted from AllSands (dot) com‘s food and recipe section.
I sought out this recipe in a desperate attempt to imitate a dish from Café Lucky Noodle in Eugene. It’s called Almond Breast of Chicken, and it is one of the most satisfying meals I have ever had the pleasure of eating at a restaurant. It is “finished in a light, lemon butter cream sauce with linguine pasta and sautéed vegetables,” and I fantasize about it on a daily basis. For my first try at a legitimate cream sauce, I think I did a pretty good job. (I once made an illegitimate cream sauce with no measurements or directions to speak of).
Luckily, I had my friend Alex Bertoni handy to help me make this recipe successful. Unless you’re some sort of superhero, I would suggest making this meal with a partner. The sauce needs a full-time babysitter, a constant eye, and continuous stirring. You don’t want to leave it sitting unattended on the stove, or else it could stick to the pan. Nothing’s worse than a messed-up cream sauce.
Cook pasta as directed, al dente, then drain.
In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the whipping cream, half and half, lemon rind, and half of the minced garlic. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in the margarine in small spoonfuls . Whisk until margarine is completely melted.
Meanwhile, combine the shrimp and remaining garlic in a small frying pan. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until shrimp is completely pink.
When the sauce mixture is ready, add the lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper (to taste) and continue to whisk over low heat until the cheese is completely melted. Toss with pasta over medium heat for 1 minute.
Toss the finished shrimp with the pasta. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and parmesan if you like.
Yield 2-3 servings.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m a creature of habit. To all you creatures-of-trying-something-new-every-day, good for you. But that’s just not how I roll.
Although I have always believed that repetition is a good thing, sometimes it can get a little bit–need I say it?–boring. It’s just so easy to get into a rhythm of cooking the same old recipes each week, especially when trying to lose weight. Which is why I think it’s good to have a list of recipes that you know by heart. To make it into The Regulars, a recipe must be relatively healthy, quick, and easy. So whenever someone is willing to share one of their regular recipes with me (hint, hint), it is received with much appreciation. Right now, I only have a handful of tricks in my bag–most of them are hand-me-downs:
1. Curry (chicken, shrimp, or veggie)
2. Soft tacos with ground turkey
3. Broiled Salmon with asparagus
4. Chicken fajitas with onion and bell peppers
5. Pasta primavera with Vodka sauce
Fortunately, I recently admitted a new member to the group. Meet Sally Devor’s parmesan chicken.
It’s a simple recipe that my dear friend Sarah Devor was nice enough to share with me. Although she’s not sure where exactly it came from, she believes that it originated somewhere in the creative region of her mother’s brain. Sarah used to make it for me and our five other roommates when we lived together last year. I was crazy about it then, and I love it now.
After putting up with a decent amount of my badgering, Sarah wrote me a message explaining how to make this parmesan chicken…I don’t think I can break it down any further than she did. I literally LOL’d upon reading her idiot-proof instructions:
To Jenni, From Sarah
Crush one whole tube of Ritz, combine with equal amounts of parmesan cheese…mix together in a bowl. In another bowl, put one stick of butter and as much garlic as you want. Melt the butter and garlic in the microwave. Dip the chicken in the butter/garlic mix then roll around in the Ritz/parmesan crumbs. Repeat for all of the breasts.
Put in a baking pan.
Bake for about a half hour (If breasts) at 400 degrees.
You’ll have to watch them if you aren’t using breasts…it depends on the thickness so just keep an eye on it.
Call with any questions.
Good luck and ENJOY!
Pretty straight-forward, right? Well, that’s Sarah in a nutshell.
One thing I would like to add is that the ingredient amounts can vary. If only making two chicken breasts, you will not need a whole tube of Ritz or a whole stick of butter. A whole stick of butter will probably work for 4-5 large breasts. And while we’re on the topic of butter, I would say to use a light margarine or buttery spread to cut back on fat. I also recommend that you use the Reduced fat Ritz, because let’s face it, they taste the exact same when baked on chicken.
These days, its garlicky aroma fills my apartment on a weekly basis, and even seductively seeps down the hallway to entice my neighbors. After making this meal a few times, I’ve determined that it just might be the easiest recipe on my list. Just shove those puppies in the oven, steam-up some broccoli, and catch an episode of Say Yes to the Dress on Netflix instant view while you wait.
I assure you, it is delightful.
Despite my previous prejudice, I have developed a slight – but very real – obsession with turkey burgers. Because I am such a huge fan of the fat-filled, authentic and beefy American cheeseburger, I didn’t think burgers had a place in my healthy lifestyle. But it turns out that as long as it’s properly seasoned, garnished with good cheese, and has a dense and grainy bun, turkey burgers can be just as satisfying!
Since ground turkey has significantly less natural zest than beef, it is pertinent that it be seasoned well. Use what you have on hand; somethin is better than nothin’! For instance, before I found my favorite recipe (listed below), I seasoned my frozen Jennie-O “All Natural” Turkey Burgers with Red Robin seasoning.
I would also like to emphasize how important cheese is. Cheese is important – on any burger. But especially turkey burgers need a little feta or Tillamook cheddar to complete the package. If you’re cooking frozen pre-portioned burgers, slap a slice of the cheese of your choosing on top of your cooked burger. Put a lid on it and wait for the magic to happen.
My next point is about finishing off the details. I know that a lot of people “don’t care” about these finishing touches, but I think it really makes a difference in the quality of your meal. For example, dress the insides of your bun with a teensy bit of margarine, and toast them on the bagel setting of your toaster. Take the time to add a thin coating of light mayonnaise to your bun (if you like it). Slice some veggies like onion, lettuce and avocado to garnish your burger-to-be.
If you go the extra mile to make your turkey burger a gourmet burger, it can make its beefy rival look like a lame alternative. Here’s my new favorite recipe:
The original recipe tells us how to make the burgers on a grill, but as many of you know, I don’t have a grill. So this version will tell how to cook burgers in the oven. When following this recipe, keep in mind that there is plenty of room for your own preferences. Depending on the day, you may want more or less garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. And depending on the size you want your burgers to be, this recipe could yield 4-6. I like quarter pound burgers, but you can also make 6 smaller sized burgers if you please. There’s also extra wiggle room for the brands you would like to use. I highly recommend using Dave’s Killer Blues Buns and Athenos Reduced Fat Feta Cheese, but suit yourself.
I’ve never been a huge fan of white fish. It was always my opinion that if it’s not salmon or steel head, why bother? You see, I was born in Alaska. Both sides of my family are from there (mostly in Anchorage and Juneau), so seafood has always been a favorite in my family.
On Christmas Eve, my family has a seafood feast, a tradition that I’m glad I can still participate in even with my new pescatarian lifestyle. We usually have salmon, prawns, crab, crab-stuffed potatoes, scallops and shrimp salad. And we only get the very best.
That being said, we don’t usually go for halibut, cod or catfish. But my mind has been changed on the subject of halibut, as I’ve recently discovered that it can be quite the tasty little meal when you have the right attitude…and the right marinade.
I had never made halibut on my own until recently, but I had been wanting to try a simple marinade recipe that my brother Stephen used when he grilled us up some halibut fillets from his fishing trip in Alaska this past June (never mind the dates on the photos).
The fish was 5 feet long and 105 pounds (not to mention tasty, and lean). Stephen told me he felt a strange connection to his fish, stating that it “fed me well.” I asked him what he meant by that. “Like the Na’vi?” I said excitedly. “Kinda like that, yeah,” He replied and laughed.
Before eating his catch, I was under the impression that halibut was bland and tasteless. But I cannot for the life of me stop fantasizing about that flaky white fish swimming in that sweet, salty brown sauce. So I took home a fillet and decided to try making it on my own so I could have another delicious source of protein.
The marinading process was a frightening and stressful thought to me at first. I frantically and aimlessly milled around my kitchen, blurting out a string of questions. How long do you marinade halibut? What if I’m not grilling halibut? What if I’m baking halibut? What do I stir it with? Do I cover it with something while it marinades? Do I flip it in the pan? Why!?
Luckily, I had my friends to console and reassure me.
I would really like to emphasize the importance of getting wild, fresh fish. In my opinion it tastes better, and is leaner than farmed fish. But read This or That: Wild vs. Farmed Fish as a guide to the pros and cons of each. (Apparently it’s not as cut and dry as I thought, environmentally speaking).
Wild fish is one of the better lean proteins, so your main dish is already going to be low in fat, but cook-up some green beans and a yam on the side, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a tasty (and lean) meal. The next thing on my list is to marinade my salmon fillet in a puddle of this stuff.
Adapted from allrecipes.com: Barbecue Halibut Steaks by Duane Glende
I doubled the original marinade recipe because my particular halibut fillet was quite large…plus I wanted to make sure my fish had enough sauce. The original recipe is for grilling halibut, but I don’t know how to use a grill yet, so I baked mine at 400 degrees. Also, the cooking time is kind of sketchy, as it depends on the thickness of your fillet. I’ve heard that you should bake for “ten minutes per inch of thickness in a hot oven (this means 400 degrees or more)”. Take that as you will.
I’ve found that this recipe goes great with green beans and a yam. After all this waiting for the marinade and the baking, you probably won’t want to put a whole lot of effort into side dishes. But you can make these while the fish is in the oven:
Season these beans however you want. Hell, as long as you have the lemon juice handy, sprinkle some of that on there!
This is just about the easiest recipe I will ever write down, because you basically just stick it in the microwave. It’s just like a baked potato! But here it is anyway:
I usually try to do this process so that all three elements are ready at the same time.
I think we can all agree kebabs are great. Everyone likes a well-built kebab. Not only are they fun to eat, but I’ve recently discovered that they’re fun to make as well. There’s definitely an art to it and you can get quite creative.
The other day my friend Juliane, whom I often cook dinner with, came over so we could make kebabs from a recipe she ripped out of this June’s issue of Women’s Health magazine. She had made these kebabs once before for a graduation party, but they were so good we had to make them again. They consist of your choice of protein, fruits, vegetables, and a marinade.
After cooking them I learned that they are a very healthy meal with very few carbs. It’s just meat, veggies, and the occassional fruit. Creating them was sort of a long ordeal, but if you have a couple of friends to chop vegetables, it shouldn’t take too long. Believe me, it’s well worth the wait.
Chicken Pesto and BBQ Pork Kebabs
Adapted from Women’s Health: Build a Better Kebab, by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding
You can make them in the oven, or on a grill. On this particular evening, we decided to cook them in the oven. The original recipe encourages you to pick your choice of protein from chicken, pork loin, shrimp, salmon, scallops or a lean beef like sirloin. I have only tried he chicken and pork, so that’s what this recipe will be based on.
Soak the empty skewers in a pan of water for 20-30 minutes before you load them with goods. This will prevent the skewers from catching fire. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the meat into large chunks. Ideally, you would let the meat marinade in their respective sauce for an hour or so. But you can also just let it soak in the sauce while you cut up all the veggies. Make sure to cut the veggies in large enough chunks because the meat will take a while to cook. Build your skewers with the marinaded meat and veggies. (Keep in mind, the peaches go best with the pork recipe because both go surprisingly well with the chipotle sauce).
Place the loaded skewers onto cookie sheet(s). Before placing skewers in the oven, brush on the extra sauce or some olive oil if you ran out. Add salt and pepper, and then place in the oven on center rack. Let cook for 20 to 30 minutes, and then check the chicken’s center to make sure it’s cooked through. Add more time as needed.
Serve hot and enjoy!
One night I was up watching The Ugly Truth and decided to satisfy my dessert craving with a giant bowl of Caramel Caribou ice cream.
Needless to say, the guilt set in about 24 hours later. If I would have had the ingredients for my smoothie at the time, I could have saved myself a lot of self loathing brought on by my late night binge. Although there are a lot of carbohydrates and sugar in fruit smoothies, it’s a better option than a milkshake.
So for those of you who want to make a healthier treat, here’s my smoothie recipe. It’s also great for breakfast!
What you’ll need:
Give or take a little on these ingredient measurements. It’s all very approximated. I really just sort of throw it all in there. Add more or less to the mix depending on what you like or how many people you’re making it for. For example, two bananas or one and a half cups of berries would be just as delicious.