Saturday, January 2, 2010

I took the holidays off...

but I'm back now!  I hope you had a great holiday season.  How'd you do?  My scale says I did good - only a 2 pound increase.  But I haven't worked out except for walking a couple of miles a week with my dog.  I feel yucky, and I have no excuses except that I have had company in town for three weeks.  I'm getting started again on Monday and I am so ready!

Right now I am working on my New Year Resolutions.  I hope you are, too.  Stay tuned for my thoughts on Resolutions.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Top 5 Thanksgiving Thin Tips

1. Bring an extra plate - don't overeat. I know some of this delicious food you only get this time of year and you want just one more taste, but after the first round of plates have been fixed, fix yourself an extra and tuck it away for the day after. Then don't go back for seconds. I bet that you filled your plate enough the first time through.
2. Take your time. You are surrounded by family and probably a lot of food, so eat slowly, take small bites and really chew. Give your stomach time to tell your brain you are full.
3. Watch for hidden fat and calories. Sweet tea? Sodas? Save your calories! Choose unsweet tea with lemon and lightly sweeten if you need to.  High fat salad dressing, salads drowned in mayonnaise, lots of butter in those sweet potatoes really add unnecessary fat. Grab just a taste if you don't want to pass, but don't over-do on the high fat items.
4. Smoke or grill your turkeys to increase the flavor as opposed to fry them.  See my last post here.
5. Don't graze in the kitchen. Stay out of the kitchen if you can, but if the party migrates there, and you find yourself standing around, don't start grazing or you won't even know what you've eaten! Grab a plate, and instead of just nibbling straight from the bowl or bag, set whatever you plan on eating on your plate so you can have some idea of how much you eat.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Think Thin Thanksgiving Recipes

It's almost time for one of the biggest feasts of the year.   Thanksgiving doesn't have to be a gut-buster, though.  Here are my favorite recipes trimmed down:
Turkey - try smoking or grilling it.  Allrecipes has instructions on sure-fire ways to grill or smoke your turkey.
Gravy - use a gravy separator to pour off fat.  This alone will cut down significantly on calories.

  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pierce potatoes with a fork and bake until soft, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool.
  2. Place olive oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent.
  3. Skin potatoes and lightly mash. Place half of the sweet potatoes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add onion, spices, ricotta, and sugar to the blender; blend until smooth.
  4. Return potato mixture to a bowl; stir with the lightly mashed sweet potatoes and add sage, mashing more if needed, 
  5. Place in a casserole dish lightly sprayed with cooking oil.  Top with parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake until heated through, about 30 minutes.
    Green Bean Casserole
    Onion Topping:
    1 c. fresh breadcrumbs
    1 tsp olive oil
    2 large onions, thinly sliced
    Sauce and Green Beans:
    4 c. skim milk
    1 tsp olive oil
    1 onion finely chopped
    3 c. fresh mushrooms, sliced thin
    2 cloves garlic, pressed
    1/4 c. all purpose flour
    1/2 c fat free sour cream
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp frehly ground pepper
    pinch grated nutmeg
    2 9-oz packages frozen French-style green beans

    1. Place breadcrumbs in a large nonstick skillet over med. heat.  Stir occasionally until toasted. Set aside.
    2. Heat oil in skillet, add sliced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden.  Set aside.
    3. To make sauce: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add chopped onion and cook, stirring often, until golden.  Add mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring, until tender.  Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly.  Bring to a boil, stirring.  Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in sour cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
    4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spread green beans into a casserole dish and pour the sauce over the top.  Toss together onions and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and spread over sauce. 
    5. Bake until bubbling, 15 to 25 min.
    *Recipe courtesy of Check Your Health website.
    Cranberry Relish

      1/2 c sugar
      3/4 c water
      1/2 lemon, juiced 
      1 orange, zest and juice 
      1 bag cranberries 
      1/4 t ground cinnamon
      pinch ground cloves 
    Remove the zest from the orange using a zester.  Bring the zest, sugar, and water to a simmer and cook for 5 min.  Add cranberries and continue to cook until the cranberries start to pop, about 2 min.  Transfer half* of the mixture to a food processor.  Add the oranges and spices to the mixture.  Cover and refrigerate.  Let mixture sit for 12 hours.
    *For a smoother relish, process all of the cranberry mixture instead of just half.
    Pumpkin Pie - Use your standard pumpkin pie recipe and substitute low fat sweetened condensed milk for regular.  If your recipe calls for eggs, use two egg whites to replace one whole egg.  Don't eat the crust.  This will cut the fat in more-than-half.  Most of your fat and calories are in the crust.  

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    Finding your base weight for lifting

    A Sea of Metal

    You are here at the gym.
    You are beginning your workout.
    Where should you start?
    Perhaps you are getting back into the gym after being away for a little too long.
    Does the equipment seem like a sea of metal with no meaning?
    Don't be intimidated.

    If you are just starting to work out, play around on the equipment the first time.  Get the feel for the machines and learn how to make adjustments.  Bring a fitness journal or a notebook and write down what the seat numbers are that you like.
    Base Weight
    Get your base weight lifting for where you are now.  To find your base, find out what weight you can lift for 12 repetitions, two sets in a row.  If you are not used to being in a gym, this is a good place to start.  Write that weight down so you will know where to start your next workout.
    Pick Your Body Parts (Muscle Groups, not Operation!)
    Now, when you go into the gym tomorrow, pick one or two body parts and go to that machine (look at the hilighted muscle groups on the bar above the machine).  Do 12 reps for two sets.  Do this for the first week or two.  You do not need to get really sore to see results!

    Body Parts:
    abs (you can work abs every day)

    Here is how many people group them if you are going to do two body parts a day:
    back and bi's
    chest and tri's
    abs- everyday
    Cardio and Heart Rate
    All of our cardio equipment pieces have heart rate monitors.  Look at the chart on the left of the dashboard.  Keep your heart rate in between the yellow and red numbers.  Your goal is to work up to 45 minutes for optimal weight loss.  If you are not interested in burning calories, you can work out for however short or long you like.  I aim for twenty minutes.
    Keep It Going!
    After the first week or two, make your goal to do three sets of 12 reps.

    This is just to get you started.  More workout routines to come later!

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

    Coffee drinkers, I know what you were thinking after the last post.  How many pieces of candy can I have if I skip the Latte and just get a plain cup of coffee?  How about this: Choose one tiny piece of your favorite candy over the next few days and make your own low fat pumpkin spice latte!

    Here's the recipe:

    Low Fat Pumpkin Spice Latte

    2 cups low fat milk
    3 T canned pumpkin
    2 T white sugar
    2 T vanilla 
    3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
    OR: 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and a teeny tiny pinch of ground ginger
    3/4 cup brewed espresso or 1 cup strong brewed coffee

    Directions: Whisk all ingredients together and put in a  saucepan.  Heat through, but do not let it boil.  Whisk again and serve with a cinnamon stick.  If you are having company, place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for two hours.


    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Halloween Treats

    Treating yourself to a little treat this Halloween?
    Watch the calories!
    Here are a few stats to help keep you on track:

    2 mini Reeces Peanut butter Cups:
    80 cal
    5 g. fat
    10 g. sugar

    2 mini size Snickers Bars
    90 cal.
    4 g. fat
    12 g. sugar

    11 pieces Candy Corn
    70 cal.
    0 g. fat
    14 g. sugars

    1 fun size pkg M&Ms
    100 cal
    4.5 g fat
    13 g. sugar

    4 pieces Twizzlers
    160 cal
    0.5 g fat
    19 g sugar

    Starbucks Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte
    380 cal
    13 g fat
    49 g sugar

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Eating Well on Vacations

    Everyone is entitled to a little break once in a while, and there's no better time to do it than on vacation! Vacations don't have to be deal breakers for weight loss or healthy eating, though.
    Here are a few tips:
    • On the drive to your location, plan ahead a little so you don't have to eat fast food. Pack a few sandwiches, fruit, and other favorite snacks. Save your calories and fat for higher quality food!
    • For breakfast, don't settle for the cheap pastries they set out at many continental breakfasts. That's something you can get at home if you really want to. Fill up on the oatmeal, and even bagels are a better choice. You can't beat hard boiled eggs for the nutrition!
    • Don't stuff yourself at meals. Split a main entree so you can get appetizers and desserts. Just don't eat the whole dessert by yourself. Share! Relax and eat slowly so you will know when you are full, this is your vacation after all! If I get something fried, I try not to get french fries too in the same meal.
    • Beware of the hidden fat in salads. Want to eat salad to conserve your fat and calorie intake, or to make up for the extra fried foods you may have treated yourself to? Some salads can have a whopping 70+ grams of fat! I'd take bread pudding any day to a salad!
    • The best sight-seeing can be walking around downtown areas. Plan into your schedule active walks, especially after a big meal!

    I just went on the annual mom-sis vacation I take every year. We ate breakfast in the room each morning, which not only saved money, but I didn't start off the day every day wondering how bad I would eat that day. I split most lunches and dinners with someone, eating slowly, and stopping when I was full. We even brought appetizers to eat during the football games on Sunday that we had prepared at home. We just stuck them in the oven and relaxed. My luxury? Cream in my coffee! I am excited that I ate well, and didn't come back feeling like I had to work out extra hard to make up for it! When I travel, however, I don't ever feel that I drink enough water. Before my next trip, I will be thinking of ways to incorporate that into my vacation.