Thursday, November 22, 2018

This isn't really the ending.

My Life With(out) Ranch is now in its tenth year as a blog. When I started the blog in 2009, I ended it with the following statement: "Hold your breath…here I go…trying again and again." I read the entire post a few moments ago and while so much as changed, I'm still very much the same. The title of the first blog was "This isn't really the beginning." I named it that because I've been on a quest to have a different body since I was a child. I don't anticipate that changing, though I have really worked on being less hard on myself.

Now that the book is out, I feel like the part of the journey where I report to you what I ate for the month and whether I lost or gained weight is over. The thing is, it's become very apparent to me that there won't be a time in the foreseeable future where I won't be conscious of what I weigh, eat or where my mental and physical health are every day. While I wish I weren't so obsessive, I have come a long way in loving myself.

I have been completely overwhelmed by the support and love shown for the book now that it's out. I believe that now is the time for me to move the conversation forward to something different. I won't say that I will never write about my weight or body again because it's too much a part of who I am to pretend that I won't. I will say that I want to see what my next writing journey will be. I'm ready to take a leap.

I wanted my last My Life With(out) Ranch entry (for now) to be on Thanksgiving. I am more grateful to my friends and family and blog supporters than you could possibly know. Just when I think there is nobody still listening, a message from a friend or a stranger proves me wrong.

So, I wanted to let you know that My Life With(out) Ranch is on an indefinite hiatus. I'm going to focus on getting the book in as many hands as I can and also, I'll be working on new projects. I have some irons in the fire, but I haven't jumped off the diving board just yet.

For news on events, publication updates or just general information, please visit:

When I cook and enjoy yummy and/or healthy food, I will post as much as I can to instagram and Facebook so make sure to follow me both places: @mylifewithoutranch.

For book updates and general whining about food and life, find me on Twitter: @mylifewoutranch.

If you'd like to contact me about anything, send me an email at

Oh, and of course, buy the book here:

Always keep a look out for me!!! You never know what I'll get into next.

Love always!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween/Book Release Eve Eve Y'all!

Hi Everyone! Today is my absolute FAVORITE day of the year, so of course, I'm in a pretty good mood. My happiness is also fueled by the fact that my first book, My Life With(out) Ranch from 50/50 Press will be available on Amazon on FRIDAY!!! I am so grateful for everyone's support and honestly, even though I've been talking about it nearly a year, I can't believe we've finally made it. I really hope you enjoy it and can get something out of it. It has been a therapeutic process for me and I'm nearly ready to close the door on this topic in my writing. I will never be "finished" when it comes to loving myself, but I feel now that the book is here, I can let out a big sigh and dream about what's next. My weight has been steady for awhile, give or take a few pounds. I've kind of settled into it and I've stopped worrying so much about losing a lot. I work out so hard and eat right most of the time. My metabolism is stubborn. This is something I cannot change. I will always set goals for myself…for example…I plan to get back on track and lose any Halloween/Wedding weight, plus one or two pounds before Thanksgiving…but I'm done beating myself up.

I made a couple Halloween snacks for the book club I'm in. Full disclosure, my mom molded the cheeseball into a face and I just covered it with ham. Also, that is supposed to be a snake, though it is not exactly snake-shaped. Not pictured: blood and guts dip made with cheddar cheese, cream cheese, a jar of salsa, onions, garlic and chopped pepperoni. It was festive.

Well, my baby brother got married on Saturday. I don't know how or why I didn't get a selfie with him, so I'll be excited to see all the professional photos. It has been a somewhat exhausting journey for everyone involved in the planning but it was a beautiful, emotional day and I wish them all the joy in the world! They are living it up on a cruise ship right now.

In terms of food, I'd am going to share a couple photos from my phone…though it's nothing too exciting, haha. The first thing I wanted to show you is low carb…and people like low carb…even though it's really ugly. Essentially, I just made a quick egg salad with cucumbers, bacon bits, scallions, mustard, salt, pepper, garlic powder and a tablespoon of light mayo. Then, I make little turkey roll ups with it. There's lots of protein in this easy snack and since it's Halloween, I will tell you I made these to look like fingers…they kind of do. Egg salad is a go to recipe for me. If you don't like hard boiled eggs, then I don't know…I guess just shove turkey in your mouth and call it a day.

I also wanted to share something that may not be a discovery to you, but it was news to me. I found out that you can have chicken parmesan that A) isn't fried and B) doesn't come with pasta. Clearly, I believe that pasta and breaded chicken are superior, but when Fresh Market said their little big meal included a recipe that used grilled chicken parmesan over a bed of lettuce, I thought, "Why the heck have I never thought of that?" Since I ate it, I've had it a couple times and it's yummy. The simplest way to do it is either grill or cook a chicken breast in a skillet…then top it with spaghetti sauce and reduced fat mozzarella and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. When it's done, pop it on top of the lettuce. You can gussy this up however you choose. I just served it with low cal toast that was spread with smoked gouda Laughing Cow cheese.

Finally, I've shared something like this before I think but another quick fix that I rely on a lot is what I like to call "a skillet full of stuff." In this particular skillet, we've got ground turkey, squash, and onions. I season this with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Oh, and since ground turkey has a tendency to dry out, I usually add some chicken broth instead of fat and that helps. This is another "low carb" or "free" item depending on what diet plan you're on. When I'm being "good," I'm looking for ways to eat the most amount of food possible.

I hope you all have a spooktacular Halloween!

Until next time!

Roll Tide!

Bye y'all!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

WARNING: Nearly Meatless Post

Hey y'all! I'd like to start by wishing my mom and soon to be sister-in-law Lisa Happy Belated Birthdays. I hope you had fun celebrating them! I will be heading to Gatlinburg, TN with Lisa tomorrow for her bachelorette trip! It should be a fun time. I am not exactly in strict diet mode right now but I do plan to try not stuffing EVERYTHING in my face this weekend…just mostly everything. I'm about the same as always. I fluctuate the same five pounds back and forth pretty much every other week. When I get back from the trip, I'd like to get in the zone a few weeks to prepare for the wedding, Halloween AND the book release. That's right y'all, My Life With(out) Ranch will be here in a month! I'm so excited!

This week, I wanted to share a recipe with you that took be way back to a time when I actually tried not to eat meat. It's been awhile, but sometimes I like to relive those days and try a delicious veggie dish. This time, I went all the way out on a limb and cooked tofu. I know at this point, some of you have stopped reading. I get it. Tofu can be gummy and it's flavorless…BUT if you prepare it correctly, it can be good. First, and most importantly, you HAVE TO PREP IT. Seriously, if you don't, it will be gross. To prep it, put several paper towels on a paper plate. Place the block of tofu (I get extra firm) on top of the towels, then add several more. Then, add the cast iron skillet to the top and let it sit there for about an hour. Once all the water has soaked into the paper towels, I kind of treat it like chicken at that point. I cut it into cubes and it's ready to go. I popped some steamable broccoli from the freezer into the microwave while I let a pan heat with non-stick cooking spray, a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and one squirt from my olive oil sprayer. Then, I pile in the tofu and the broccoli. To that I add onions, salt, pepper, garlic, a tablespoon of teriyaki sauce, a teaspoon of brown sugar, a tiny pinch of crushed red pepper and a LOT of low sodium soy sauce. You can play with the measurements but I have to go light on anything sugary if I'm counting Weight Watchers points. They don't like sugar y'all. At that point, you just have to make sure the tofu is cooked (I don't think I cooked it long enough still) and that everything is all married together. I just put it in a bowl and topped it with a bit more soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds and green onions. It had great flavor but at the end of the day, I think I'd just rather use chicken. It's free on Weight Watchers and I prefer the texture. It was a good way to knock out a Chinese food craving though.

The other quick thing I wanted to show you was a charred corn and cucumber salad. That seems summer-y but since it's still around 90 in Alabama every day, I can no longer tell what season it's SUPPOSED to be. This is super healthy and tasty and of course, easy. I had Ian grill me up some corn and then I scraped it off the cob and combined it in a bowl with chopped cucumber, light Italian dressing (Olive Garden's brand is pretty good), fat free feta cheese, and bacon bits. This could be totally veggie without those but they add a nice, salty flavor. I love salads but sometimes I just skip right over the lettuce and just have the veggies.

That's it y'all! I'm busy as all get out right now with this semester!

Until next month!


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

School's In Session

Hey y'all! I'm back in the swing of things…though I'm not sure I'm completely ready yet. I have a butt-ton (actual measurement) of students and life is well…hectic. That's OK though, I'll live. In terms of weight, I'm hovering around the same I have been. I am up and down depending on what's going on during the week. I've had a decent bounce back from my beach trip a few weeks ago and with school back in, my routine is leveling out a bit. I'm feeling OK about where I'm at on the scale. I've really come a long way in berating myself all the time. I'm a healthy person who works out several days a week and is conscious of what I'm eating at least 75% of the time. I can't do anything about the stubbornness of my metabolism, so, why make myself feel like crap all the time? Having said that, I still have a small weight loss goal for the Fall. I'm keeping it small because this is a difficult time of year to keep weight off, but I'm confident in my ability to keep myself in line.

It's an exciting time! Football is back! Roll Tide! My book is a little over 8 weeks away from being released (November 2nd) and my brother is getting married in October! Not to mention the fact that the most wonderful holiday of all is just around the corner (Halloween). My mom and I threw a bridal shower for my brother's fiancé, Lisa a couple weeks ago and it turned out really great. I included some pictures above. My mom and I worked really hard to make it cute. I think we did a pretty good job. We can officially say that the wedding is next month now so there are a lot of fun times ahead.

So, I guess I could share some food since it's a food blog. My phone started acting up awhile back and I had to get a replacement. Even though I backed up my phone on the cloud, some of my photos were lost. Because of that, I'm having to use a photo from Pinterest. That's fine because I got the recipe from there and because it's a better photo than mine was anyway. I made salsa verde chicken in the crock pot. It really doesn't get much easier (or healthier) than this dish. We threw chicken breasts into the bottom of the crock pot and then topped with fresh tomatoes, onions and a jar of store bought salsa verde. After it's been going on low for around five hours, you just take a couple forks and shred the chicken. This is a zero point recipe on Weight Watchers but don't let that scare you…it's DELICIOUS! Ian fattened it up a bit with sour cream and corn chips but I just ate it straight out of the bowl and I was satisfied. I definitely think we will make this again. Next time I may serve it over beans. It may end up being a Fall staple for us.

I grabbed some of those high fiber, low calorie flatbreads at the store and made a few different things with those. The first picture is from the Internet because my photo got lost, but essentially, I just toasted the flatbread in the oven, then topped with pizza sauce, chunks of chicken breasts, zucchini and cheese and put it back in the oven to get warm. Shout out to my friend Erin for the chicken/zucchini combo idea. I also made chips from the flatbread by simply broiling both sides. Then, I smeared smoked gouda Laughing Cow cheese on them to add some flavor. It was a tasty, easy, low calorie snack. Finally, for another flat bread, I sautéed some chicken sausage and then added that, pizza sauce and of course, a little cheese and made a tiny, but satisfying pizza. I think this one was my favorite because I LOVE sausage. That actually IS my photo. These are great for when you're craving pizza but you're like me and can't just have one piece of pizza.

Until next month, y'all!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Salads and Summer

Hey y'all! I wanted to give a belated birthday shout out to my friend Lauren and then a birthday eve shout out to my wife/bestie, Cassandra! Cassandra and I got a chance to go see Little Big Town and Miranda Lambert at the beach this past weekend and it was so much fun. I got roasted by the sun and I also got to say goodbye to summer because in just 12 short days, I teach my first class of the Fall semester. I THINK I'm ready…but I never really am. I've got a super busy semester coming up. In terms of weight, I was still trying to work off a few pounds from my trip out west before I left for the beach. I plan on weighing on Sunday to see where I'm at on the scale. The good news is in terms of over indulgence, is that I have no trips planned until October. (I also included a picture of Ian and I in Nashville as we made a quick trip through Tennessee to see our families) Plus, once I'm busy with the semester, I'm much better at keeping on track. My mom is planning a bridal shower for my brother's fiancé next Saturday and there is going to be a ton of delicious food so I plan on saving my "extra" points so I can indulge. Other than that, I'm hoping it's smooth sailing. I'm a bit fluffier than I like because of vacations, but honestly, I'm doing better at not beating myself up and I feel pretty good.

I don't have a ton for you today, but one thing I cling to when I'm trying to get back on track are delicious, humongous salads. The other day I made a giant salad that included grilled chicken and corn (thanks Ian for all the grill work), bacon bits, hard boiled eggs, edamame, cucumber, etc. I like putting light Italian dressing and make sure to pack lots of protein in the salad so it's filling. If you ever watched Seinfeld, this salad reminds me of the "big salad" episode.

Another addition to my salad in the past couple of months has been Lay's Poppables. I bought the individual bags because there are only 70 calories in each snack bag. These are great, because they don't taste like diet food, they are crunchy, salty and fill the craving I sometimes have for chips. Also, they worked as a perfect salad topping!

Sometimes, I like to take certain elements of salad and deconstruct it a little (when I put it like that it sounds fancy). One day, I made what I call "Shrimp and Cucumber Bites." I'm sure you can guess what it includes. I sautéed some shrimp using salt, pepper and non-stick cooking spray. I sliced the cucumbers so they could be my base and then I added lettuce, onion, kalamata olives, the shrimp (of course) and then grated parmesan cheese. These would be great as a party appetizer and it made a nice lunch too. As with anything that includes fresh produce, this was a bit time consuming because of prep, but they were tasty and fun. Y'all, I know some of you hate olives but I think they add the best punch of salty flavor. I eat too many of them sometimes…it's kind of my thing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

If You Like It Put An Egg On It

Hey y'all! Happy 4th of July! I hope you're enjoying your day off if you get one. If you don't, I'm sorry! A special thanks to you! My hope is that one day everyone is able to experience the freedom, peace and safety that so many fought for to gain America's independence! Enjoy the privileges of living free and remember those who don't have that privilege and those that died for that privilege. 'Merica, y'all!

I would also like to wish my Dad a Happy Birthday! We celebrated his 56th yesterday and last Sunday. And, we're having ribs today…so celebrations everywhere!

This is a random aside, but I wanted to share anyway that I'll be having gum surgery in a couple weeks. This is probably TMI but I am prone to gum recession and cyst tumors that get swollen and ugly. I guess more than anything, I want sympathy as they "grind" everything down. This isn't the first time I've done this and I'm not "worried," I just feel the world (or my dozens of followers) should  know that for a couple days, it will be perfectly acceptable for me to eat milkshakes and my mom's homemade potato soup.

As I mentioned last month, my parents and I headed out west a few weeks ago. We visited Vancouver, Seattle and Portland (including the coast of Oregon). We had an incredible time. The area out there is beautiful. Both the scenery and the food were my favorite part. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that in one week I gained 9.8 pounds! I was honestly impressed more than anything. I ate so many sweets and decadent foods and it was all worth it. The next week, I was able to lose around 6 of that and then the next week I lost nothing. I don't anticipate a loss this week either due to the celebrations but I will give myself a couple weeks to get the rest of the vacation weight off.

I think in the past I have shown you a corn, black bean salsa. To be honest, I don't remember. But, I wanted to show you how far I stretch the stuff. I take thawed out frozen corn (or just corn then I guess at that point), canned black beans that I've rinsed, , a drained can of Rotel tomatoes, a chopped onion, salt, pepper and garlic powder and toss it all together. On Weight Watchers, this is a "free" salsa. That means I can eat it until the cows come home. So, I use it as a dip with baked tostitos, but I also mix it up by adding chicken or fat free feta or a fried egg or all of the above. It's a versatile, filling salsa with nutrients, flavor and protein. It tastes good for about a week in the fridge which is the perfect amount of time because you have just started getting sick of it. Having it about once a month is the right balance.

I'm a firm believer that a runny egg yolk is the most sultry, delicious way to add flare to a dish. There's not much that won't be improved by slapping a over easy egg on top in my honest opinion. So, I do that a lot. Recently, I took one chicken sausage link, cut the casing and emptied the contents into a skillet sprayed with non stick spray. I let it start to render a bit and added a boat load of shredded hash browns. I can't stress the importance of these shredded potatoes enough. They are low in calories and tasty! I added my standard spices of salt, pepper and garlic and let it get cooked all the way through. Obviously oil or butter would make this a crispier, richer dish, but when I'm still trying to recover from a vacation, no fat works well too. Once this skillet of sausage and potatoes is all cooked, guess what I put on top? An egg. That's right. I actually get sad when I overcook my eggs and can't get the satisfaction of taking my fork and watching the egg drizzle out over everything. OK, I'm done now. OH! And PS, I pretty much add taco sauce to everything too so that's what you see in some of the photos.

The last food I wanted to show you today did not get an egg added to the top…though I wouldn't be opposed. These are zucchini chips. They are super easy to make. Just use a mandolin to slice the zucchini into super thin chips. Then, toss them all with a tiny teaspoon of olive oil, non-stick spray, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Lay them all out on a cookie sheet that you've set up with foil and parchment paper and then cook them at 250 for 45 minutes, turn the sheet around and cook them another 45 minutes. I know it's a long time and to be honest, that will probably be why I don't make them regularly, but it does help them crisp up. If I make them again, I will add a bit less salt because mine had too much. They are not sturdy enough for a dip or anything but pretty tasty for a healthy snack.

Have a wonderful holiday y'all! Talk to you next month!