Thursday, July 8, 2010

Delicious Summer Dinner Recipes!

It's been WAY too long since I've posted any of my yummy recipe finds. I have a sort of new cookbook that has quickly become one of my favorites. It's Taste of Homes Comfort Food Diet Cookbook. Not only is it broken down by the normal categories, each section is also broken down by calorie ranges. I love that feature.

Today I was looking through the cookbook for an idea for dinner and realized I was looking in the wrong category. It's been approaching 100 degrees every day this week here in southern Indiana and I kept finding wonderful sounding dishes in the dinner category but they were way too heavy and I really didn't want to heat up the kitchen by using the oven. So I flipped to the lunch category. There were lots of great choices there for a light meal. I settled on a few selections, made my list and headed to the grocery.

I decided to fix a Veggie Cheese Sandwich and a Grape Tomato Mozzarella Salad. I started out sauteing Vidalia Onions and Bell Peppers in a skillet. The recipe called for only Green Pepper but I don't like those. My husband tries to convince me that all Bell Peppers are created equal but the Green ones have a distinct smell and taste that I dislike. If they are diced up and in a recipe then I don't mind. But if I can smell or see them, I can't eat them. A LONG time ago I got sick after eating them on pizza and since then I can't stomach them. But I really love Orange, Red and Yellow peppers. I fix this pepper and onion mixture all the time for my omelets so I'm excited to find another way to eat them.

The recipe called for mushrooms to be added which I also don't like so I left them out. I was supposed to dice tomatoes and add those as well but decided to just add slices to my sandwich instead of cooking them. I was supposed to use Italian Bread and was pleasantly surprised to find a loaf in Walmarts bakery that was low calorie and low fat. I'll be buying this again for sandwiches. It was such a refreshing change to the healthy low-cal bread I usually buy.

To assemble the sandwich I used Brummel Yogurt Spread to butter the bread. I placed one slice in the skillet, topped it with the pepper/onion mixture, added a slice of Borden Bacon cheddar sliced cheese, and topped it with slices of Roma tomatoes. I decided that wasn't going to be enough cheese for me so when I flipped it, I opened the sandwich and added a slice of Borden fat free sliced cheese. This was really a grilled cheese sandwich with a bunch of added veggies. It was delicious! Nutritional information for my sandwich was Calories 335, Fat 16g, Fiber 1g, Carbs 32g, Protein 5g.

For my salad I sliced up part of a seedless cucumber, sliced Vidalia onions, halved grape tomatoes, 1 slice of mozzarella cheese and several fresh basil leaves. I assembled all of that on a plate and topped it with fat free Italian dressing. Honestly I could have left off the cheese. I could barely taste it. But this salad was VERY refreshing. I always think I have to have lettuce for a salad so this was very different but very tasty. And the Wal-mart brand fat free Italian dressing was excellent! I tried my best to add up fairly accurate stats on this salad using a calorie book I have. I know the veggies are sort of free but they do have calories. This might be too high but this is how I recorded it. Calories 145, Fat 4g, Fiber 4g, Carbs 21g, Protein 7.5g.

This was such a good dinner and filling but light at the same time. Of course I had iced tea with it. I was the only one who had the salad and my adult daughter was the only one who fixed the sandwich like I did. She loved it! The other three girls had different sandwiches. I will definitely be making these recipes again!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Changing direction

I've made a major decision this week and this morning cancelled my Weight Watchers membership. Now this does NOT mean I'm giving up on my weight loss efforts. On the contrary, I'm just as focused and determined to get this weight off and be healthier. But I know I can do this without paying Weight Watchers $40 a month. And I really don't need the points system. I have learned a lot about nutrition over the years and most importantly I have come to understand how my body reacts to food. For instance, I know that if I eat an apple, my stomach will be growling in less than an hour. I know that if I eat pizza, bread or pasta, my body hangs on to those calories for days. I also know that if I eat foods high in fiber I am much more satisfied for a longer period of time and therefore less likely to snack between meals.

I also know that the science behind losing weight is easy! If I burn more calories than I take in consistently, then I will lose weight. That's it. There is no secret to it. There is no magic diet needed. And if I go back to a high-fat, high-carb diet and do not control my calorie intake, then I will gain the weight back that I've lost. That's a fairly easy concept as well.

The thing is, it's all up to me. Weight Watchers is a wonderful program for those who do not understand or who have no desire to count calories. It's a support group for those who feel they need that extra motivation to continue their efforts at home. But at the end of the day, each person has to do the work on their own. Nobody at Weight Watchers comes to your house and prepares your meals. They aren't there when you sneak an extra bite or comsume a whole box of Twinkies. But for some people, the guilt of facing the scale on weigh-in day is what they need to stay on track. Some need that accountability. For me, I really think it is important for me to be accountable to myself. I have a scale in my bathroom. It's fun to get stickers and be rewarded for losing weight but my reward is smaller clothes, feeling better and becoming healthier.

So what now? Well, I'm not really changing much at all. I still have to write down everything I eat so that I know how many calories I take in. I will continue to work out 5-6 days a week. I will still pay attention to my nutrition and make sure I'm getting the right balance of carbs, fat, protein and fiber in my diet. So really I'm not taking away the "work" of losing weight. I'm just saving money because ALL of the tools for losing weight are available for free. Calorie counters, diet calculators, support groups and nutrition information are all online for no cost. It just makes more sense to teach myself how to live this way and not rely on a "program" to do it for me.

So wish me luck. I am down 45 pounds so far!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Some of my Favorite Foods

My sister reminded me today that I haven't posted on here in awhile and she requested I give her my favorite food finds. I have to give Hungry Girl credit for most of these ideas.

One of my all time favorites is Lauging Cow Light cheese. I love all of the flavors. I use the Light Original Swiss in many recipes and I love the Garlic and Herb and the French Onion spread on crackers. I can't wait until June when new flavors are coming out...Blue Cheese, Queso Fresco & Chipotle, and Mozzarella, Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil. Yum! I also really love the light gourmet cheese bites. They are only 7 calories per 1 inch cube. They are yummy alone or also spread on crackers.

I really love Morningstar Farms meatless products. Just today I had the Hickory BBQ Riblet. I've tried and enjoyed the Chik Patties, the Grillers Recipe Crumbles, and several of the Burgers. I don't particularly like the sausage links or sausage crumbles but perhaps in the right recipe they would be better.

One of my newest favorites are Green Giant Just For One frozen veggies. They are endorsed by Weight Watchers and are either ZERO or ONE point per serving. And they are tasty!

Another wonderful treat I've discovered recently is Dairy Queen Sugar Free Fat Free bars. The Vanilla/Orange is my favorite and the Fudge Bar is good also. The best news is they are ZERO points!

One of my biggest weaknesses is bread products. I really love good bread. I don't really like wheat or most dark bread due to it being too dry for me. I'm a white bread/flour tortilla girl. So for me to find bread which is low calorie, low points and delicious is exciting. Here are my go-to bread products:

I can't say enough about Arnold's Sandwich Thins. Not only are they delicious but they freeze really well. I just pop one in the toaster when I'm ready to eat a sandwich. I've already blogged about my piled high veggie burger. And of course the Whole Grain White is my favorite.

I have loved Flatout Light Bread for years. They are very large tortila-like flat breads. They are low calorie, low fat, crazy high in fiber and best of all very low point, some as low as 1 point each. I just really don't know how they make something so delicious, so very good for you.

One very exciting new bread product on the market is Thomas's Bagel Thins. They come in several flavors. My very favorite is the Everything Bagel Thin. I've used them in the normal way with light cream cheese but also as sandwich bread. Honestly they are very similar to the Arnold's Thins in my opinion.

Ok so in the interest of keeping this blog post short I will stop here and continue with my favorite food finds another day. These wonderful products make it so easy to eat healthy and lose weight. As of this week, I've lost 29.4 pounds. Yippee!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Burger and Rings!

I can't believe what I ate for lunch today! It was delicious, filling and oh so good for me. You can't see it in the picture, but under the lettuce and tomato is a boca cheeseburger. And on the side an entire large onion sliced and made into oven-fried rings. I probably wouldn't have eaten the whole onion but there was nobody to share with and I knew they wouldn't reheat very well. And besides it was only 3 points. The burger was only 4 points so I had a huge lunch for 7 points and I am full and satisfied.

For the burger, I used a Boca Original Vegan meatless burger, Borden Fat Free sliced cheese, Arnolds Select whole grain white sandwich thin and I piled it with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and Heinz low-sugar ketchup. I cooked the burger in a skillet sprayed with olive oil cooking spray and I continued to spray the burger with more spray as it cooked to keep it from drying out. For the onion rings I found a WW recipe located here. I tweaked it a bit and used only one onion. I used 1/4 cup egg beaters, 1 tbsp flour, 1/8 of a cup of Walmart brand plain bread crumbs, 1/8 tsp salt, no pepper and 1/8 tsp of garlic powder. I didn't use double rings like it said because it was too hard to keep them together. I cooked them about 10 minutes on each side.

Now I will not kid you. It did not taste like a greasy burger and heavily breaded deep-fried rings from your favorite restaurant. But it was still fabulous. Just for fun I decided to look up the stats for a burger and rings from some of my favorite restaurants. You can get a good burger many places but not everyone can make good onion rings. So I chose Sonic and Denny's where I always would order rings with my sandwich. Now before I list their stats, I did a rough estimate of what was in my own version. The total calories for my burger and onion rings was around 400. It had only 3.5g of fat on the entire plate and a whopping 13g of fiber. A Sonic Cheeseburger has 566 calories, 26g of fat and 4g of fiber. Their Large Onion Rings have about 650 calories, 31g of fat and 5g of fiber. That meal is 28 points! It gets worse though. A Denny's Cheeseburger has 870 calories 46g of fat!!! and 3g of fiber. An order of Onion Rings will set you back 520 calories, 36g of fat and 3g of fiber. It adds up to a scary point total of 36!

So like I said my burger and onion rings didn't taste anything like Sonic or Denny's. But I'm also not sitting here stuffed, lethargic with a churning stomach from a bunch of grease. Lets be honest here. NOBODY feels very good after gorging on a high-fat lunch. It might taste really good but the after effects are not much fun. The problem is those effects go away the next day and our brain forgets the bad part and only remembers how it tastes. So we do it again and again. And we gain weight and feel even worse when we struggle to climb stairs or bend over to tie our shoes. Why can't our brain process all that stuff and make us crave fruits and veggies? I'm as guilty as anyone which is why I found myself 115 pounds overweight. But I'm happy to report that as of my weigh-in last night I am 18.6 pounds lighter than I was when the year started. And I will continue to find recipes and food selections that taste good and are good for me.

Oh and by the way, the nutritional information above is readily available at Sonic and Denny's websites. I also wanted to mention that Denny's does offer Boca Burgers for 9 points each and a Fit Fare Boca Burger with fruit meal for 10 points. So do NOT be afraid to eat there. They do have healthy food options clearly marked on their menu.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Skinny" Sloppy Joes

Although sloppy joes are not my favorite thing in the world, I was attracted to this recipe by the incredibly low calories, fat, carbs AND sodium. It was also extremely fast and easy to put together considering the frozen onions and veggie meat crumbles are chopped up and ready to put in the pan right from the bag. It was very good and the kids loved it. My only critique would be that it is almost too sweet. I think next time I will leave out the brown sugar. The tomato sauce is naturally sweet enough. This recipe can be found in the Weight Watchers Easy Weeknight Favorites cookbook.

"Skinny" Sloppy Joes

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup frozen chopped onion
2 cups meatless burger crumbles (such as Morningstar Farms)
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tbsp. brown sugar (I used Splenda Brown Sugar Blend)
1 tbsp. prepared mustard
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. bottled minced garlic
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cider vinegar
6 (1 1/2 oz.) whole wheat hamburger buns (I used Healthy Life 98% Fat Free White sandwich buns)

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender. Add burger crumbles and next 9 ingredients; stir well.

2. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in vinegar. Spoon 1/2 cup mixture over bottom half of each bun, and cover sandwiches with remaining halves. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich Points Value: 4)

per serving: Calories 206, Fat 4.4g (saturated fat 0.5g), Protein 9.9g, Carbohydrate 34.9g, Fiber 5g, Cholesterol 0mg, Iron 2.7mg, Sodium 775mg, Calcium 69mg

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

More new recipes found

I've been very happy with some of the recipes i've found lately and wanted to share them here.

Turkey Cutlets with Orange Sauce

I found this recipe in Weight Watchers Fresh and Easy 20 Minute Meals cookbook. My family loved it. The orange juice made the cutlets very tender and tasty. It would be easy to substitute chicken cutlets or thin lean boneless pork chops with similar good results.

1 1/2 pounds turkey cutlets
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsps. olive oil, divided
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp. brown sugar
3 tablespoons raisins

1. Sprinkle both sides of turkey with salt and pepper. Place cornstarch in a small metal sieve; sprinkle both sides of turkey evenly with cornstarch.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add half of turkey to pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned; remove from pan. Keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tsp olive oil and remaining turkey.

3. Add orange juice, brown sugar, and raisins to pan; bring to a boil over high heat and boil 2 minutes.

4. Return turkey to pan, turning to coat with sauce. Yield: 4 servings (serving size about 2 turkey cutlets and about 2 tablespoons sauce, Points Value: 5).

Per serving: Calories 263, Fat 3.3g (saturated fat 3.3g), Protein 42.7g, Carbohydrates 15.6g, Fiber 0.5g, Cholesterol 68mg, Iron 2.5mg, Sodium 443mg, Calcium 12mg.

Note: I left out the raisins. I didn't think it would add much to the taste and therefore I could save on the calories.

Oven Fried Pork Chops

This was another favorite in my house. You can find the recipe and instructions Here at Other than using bone-in pork chops which I had on hand, I followed this recipe exactly. I also always seem to need more breadcrumbs than it calls for so I just have to adjust points for that.

Southern Oven Fried Chicken

This is a delicious recipe I found in a cookbook called "In the Kitchen with Aimee" You can find the recipe on Aimee's website along with many other wonderful, easy recipes.

I look forward to trying out many more recipes that I've found in the stacks of cookbooks I've been pouring through. I'm having so much fun cooking new tasty meals. Hopefully that will keep my momentum going and the weight melting away.

God Bless!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Breakfast ideas!

One of my biggest challenges each day is what to have for breakfast. I really prefer non-sweet foods first thing in the morning which eliminates a lot of typical breakfast meal ideas. In a perfect world where calories didn't matter, I would eat biscuits and gravy and hashbrowns every day. But of course that would be really bad. So I'm trying to eat a variety of different things to keep from getting bored. I have added sweet breakfast foods to my weekly menu and find I'm enjoying them. This morning, I fixed pancakes with Fiber One pancake mix. As you can see in the photo I had 3 big fluffy pancakes. I used 1 tsp of Canola oil and topped them with 1/4 cup sugar free syrup for a grand total of 5 points. With 5 grams of fiber in the pancakes this is a meal that holds me until lunch. My very favorite breakfast I have 2 to 3 times a week is an omelet using Egg Beaters, fat free cheese, bell peppers, onions and topped with Salsa. This is another really filling breakfast for only 4 points. Some of my other breakfast meals that I regularly have include homemade egg mcmuffins, Kashi GoLean cereal, yogurt and fruit smoothie, Oatmeal using plain quick oats flavored with Splenda brown sugar, a small amount of skim milk and a splash of vanilla extract. Sometimes I will add in fruit like blueberries. I can have a big bowl of oatmeal for only 3-4 points and it sticks with me just as well as the pancakes or omelet meals.

I had my weigh-in last night and lost 3.8 pounds! My grand total is now 13 pounds lost. Yay!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Yummy new recipes found!

I really love to try new recipes. I'm always looking for meal ideas to get me out of the chicken, pizza, tacos, hamburgers rut. It's especially difficult to find recipes that will keep me on program as well as be something that my family will actually eat. Sometimes what sounds like a tasty dish will turn out to be a huge failure. Even if I like it, I'm not going to fix it again if I see that everyone else dumped their plate down the disposal. I've been searching the Internet for recipes and the other day I went to the library and brought home several Weight Wathers cookbooks. I found a few recipes that I've deemed "keepers". They passed the kid test with clean plates and were easy to make with normal ingredients. I'll share my favorites here on this blog. Here's one for today.

Barbecue Meat Loaf

2/3 cup your favorite barbecue sauce, divided
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 pounds ground round
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Combine 1/3 cup barbecue sauce and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add egg whites, and crumble meat over mixture, mixing with hands just until blended; add oats, and stir until blended.
3. Shape meat mixture into an 8x4 loaf, and place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.
4. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Brush remaining 1/3 cup barbecue sauce over meat loaf. Bake an additional 20 minutes or until done. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut loaf into 12 slices. Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 slices, Points Value: 4)

per serving: Calories 210, Fat 4.5g (saturated fat 1.6g), Protein 26.2g, Carbohydrate 16.6g, Fiber 0.7g, Cholesterol 60mg, Iron 2.3mg, Sodium 688mg, Calcium 9mg

I doubled this recipe for my family and used 2 loaf pans. I will likely experiment next time with using ketchup instead of BBQ sauce and possibly try it with ground turkey. I also think it could be jazzed up a bit with herbs and spices. I served it with frozen corn, canned green beans, and canned fruit in juice. I also fixed mac and cheese for the kids.

Recipe taken from Weight Watchers Easy Weeknight favorites cookbook

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Starting again in 2010

Like so many other people, after the holidays were over this year, I made a decision to lose weight. Not that this is anything new. I've needed to lose weight for over 30 years. It's not that I haven't tried before. I've been on many diets over the years. Usually I'm successful for awhile but eventually fall back into bad habits. Hopefully this time will be different. My need to get healthy and lose weight is something I think about every day. I have mirrors, tight clothes and a stack of pills I take to remind me.

So on January 4 I went back to Weight Watchers. Almost immediately after I started eating healthier food, I began to feel better. I haven't had to take antacids or stomach meds since day 1. I know getting to my goal weight is going to take a long time. I have about 125 pounds to lose. It's going to take a lot of work and planning. I have the tools I need and the weekly support group to help me through this. But most importantly this time I am leaning on God to give me the strength and perserverance to make the changes I need to do this.

I went to my 2nd weigh-in this past Monday and I'm down a total of 9.2 pounds. That is a good start. I plan to use this blog to track my progress and keep myself motivated. I also plan to post recipes, food tips or any other good ideas I come across. Wish me luck!