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!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Slow & Steady

Hey y'all! It's not officially summer yet but it sure does feel like it in Alabama. My sweat has sweat and I'm not loving it. This horrible heat is why I'm super pumped to be going on vacation out west with my parents on Saturday. We are going to Seattle, Portland and Vancouver to check out what all they have to offer. The best part? The temperature forecast looks AMAZING for those three cities. It should be a fun time and of course I'll share about the trip next month. After all the birthday, beach, and other celebrations/festivities, I was up about four pounds when I weighed last week. To be honest, I was pretty happy with that because I just knew I managed to gain 50 in a month. My goal is to knock a pound or two off this week before I head on vacation and then really put my nose to the ground when I get back. I've had fun so the softer belly has been worth it. Having said that, I'll be ready to level out and get off the summer fun pounds.


I haven't had a chance to congratulate my brother on graduating last month via my blog…so…congrats David! Not only did he graduate from THE University of Alabama, he's also snagged him a job. He'll be moving to Birmingham soon, which makes me sad, but I'm so happy for him. Also, he got engaged almost exactly a year ago and will be getting married in October…so 2018 is a big year for him.


Major shout out to 9 Round. Y'all know that I love 9 Round because the trainers/workouts are great and it really helps my mental health to hit things. Well, evidently, I've been to 9 Round over 500 times. Because of that, they sent me an email. I had to send them a selfie of myself at 9 Round and then they sent me FREE GLOVES! I was in desperate need of gloves so I was so excited. I had no idea the "prize" they were going to send would be awesome. I just knew I was going to get a key chain or something.


In other exciting news, My Life Without Ranch, the book has had an exciting June so far. Thanks to 50/50 Press, my book was featured/presented on an independent books panel at Book Expo in NYC. The book isn't out until November but 50/50 printed some copies for the occasion. According to 50/50, the book was received well. I'm so excited for it to come out that it's hard to wait. There are still some tweaks that will need to be made, but I'll be letting you know when you can buy the book this fall. Also, I googled the ISBN number and it came up! It's not showing on Amazon or Goodreads yet but hey, it exists!


Happy Early Father's Day to my Dad! We will get to celebrate you a couple times in the next coming weeks. Thanks for all you do! Love you!


Finally, Jordan and I went to Atlanta on Monday to see Shania Twain. He absolutely loves her and I've been a fan since junior high. She always puts on a great show and I legit cry every time she sings "From this Moment On." It was a fun day with Jordan.




So, as I've mentioned, the new Weight Watchers has a ton of "free" foods. One of those free foods is turkey breast. I eat a lot of chicken, and though there's not a huge difference between chicken and turkey, I thought I'd try making turkey as a bit of a change up. I actually made it in the crockpot and it was super easy. I just bought two huge turkey breasts, seasoned them (use what you want…I used paprika and Ian didn't like that, so just use whatever you like), added a bit of broth to the crockpot and let it do its thing. Even though Ian didn't like the paprika, the turkey was SO juicy. Turkey has a tendency to dry out but that was not the case with this. I served mine with sautéed mushrooms and it tasted like Thanksgiving! And, it was all zero points on Weight Watchers.





Speaking of low point Weight Watchers meals, I also made a low point cheesecake using egg, fat free Greek yogurt, one packet of Splenda and sugar free cheesecake flavor Jello. All you do is combine them all and bake it. I have made this twice. One time I mixed the cheesecake batter with blueberries included and then the next time I just made it plain and served it with fresh raspberries. To be honest, this is just OK. It's good because you can have a heaping serving for one point. The downside is that it definitely has that "diet" taste. The fake sweetener is definitely present…so be warned. It helps with the sweet tooth though, that's for sure.


My last food share is NOT healthy. I made a giant nutter butter cookie cake for Mother's Day this year and it was fun/yummy. I just bought a store bought powdered mix for peanut butter cookies and made those. The filling is just peanut butter, butter (Two Sticks! #yikes) and powdered sugar. I served it with chocolate ice cream. I probably could have made it prettier, but whatever, it tasted good.

I hope y'all have a great week!

Holla at you next month!










Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Quick & Easy


Hey y'all! If you're reading this, I'm currently relaxing on the beach or by a pool or in a condo or participating in some other beach vacation activity. Ian and I decided to vacation with friends pretty much the minute I got out of school so I wrote this blog in advance. So, I've lost nearly three more pounds. Now, obviously, I'm pleased with this, but I also have an understanding that this does not include my brother's graduation celebration, nor does it count the beach cocktails and yummy vacation meals I will consume. I don't anticipate losing weight over the next couple weeks (because it will also be my birthday on the 13th), but I do plan to maintain…or at least not splurge to the point of completely blowing my progress. I actually feel that I can do this. I want to enjoy with moderation. Wish me luck.


I'd like to wish my brother yet another congratulations for graduating from the University of Alabama on Cinco de Mayo! I am so proud of who you are and what you've accomplished. Your future is so bright and all that.


Happy Early Birthday to me! I am turning 34 on the 13th and I think that means I'm officially in my mid-30s. Other than crippling financial anxiety, life is pretty solid. Also, I don't plan on changing my traveling ways any time soon.


Happy Early Mother's Day as well! I love you, Mom! You're the only person I'm willing to share my birthday with! I can't wait to celebrate with a yummy brunch and then dinner. You deserve it!


I'm the type of person who craves fast and easy recipes. If I click on a recipe and it's got 50 ingredients or more than a few steps, I usually skip it. I especially like meals that take less than 15 minutes. So, I've included some fast recipes that I've made before  that you can always count on to be quick and easy. The first is a fast chicken sausage breakfast. They are making a ton of yummy flavors in chicken sausage these days. I bought some from Target that had cheese inside. It's less than 200 calories and only 3 points on the new Weight Watchers. I removed the casing and sautéed it in a pan for less than five minutes. Then, I used the fat from that to make eggs. I added toast and sprinkled fat free feta over the top. This was a borderline decadent breakfast that was super healthy and low in calories, especially compared to a restaurant breakfast.




Recently, I came back to one of my faves: tuna steak. I marinade the tuna steak in some type of Asian dressing or sauce. This time I used P.F. Chang's. It doesn't take much. I also season it with salt, pepper and garlic powder. I spray a skillet with non-stick spray and then add the tuna steak once the pan is super hot. While it sears, I steam some edamame. It only take a minute or two on each side. You definitely don't want to overcook tuna steak. When you can see the white creeping up, it's time to flip. Once it was done, I added it to a plate and topped with edamame, fat free feta (obviously a staple for me) and low sodium soy sauce. There's tons of protein and flavor in this dish and it takes almost no time to prepare. Also, it's pretty.



Lastly, I present to you an old "recipe" I've used 100 times, but it's always good for a quick, flavorful meal. It's a fajita bowl. When Ian and I do this, we prepare ours in separate pans because we like different veggies. In both, we cook chicken and onions with taco seasoning until it's cooked through. I spray the pan with non-stick spray first. In my pan, I add mushrooms. If the mixture is dry,  you can add a bit of chicken broth. I take the mix and add it to steamed cauliflower. Obviously, you can add whatever toppings you want. Ian and I eat this all the time. You can also use ground beef, turkey or chicken as well.

I hope you all have a wonderful month!

Until next time!