Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Week in the Life

Hey y'all! It is officially summer in Alabama. I know this because it feels like I'm swimming into a bucket of hot mop water every time I step outside. It's not my favorite season but then again, I don't like being cold either. When I went to Weight Watchers on Saturday, I was down again bringing my loss to 3.2 pounds. I was happy but I was back to my old ways starting Saturday night. I ate far too much this weekend but got right back to normal on Monday. Yesterday, I didn't plan well enough and ended up eating a Moe's burrito that was way more than I thought it would be. The point is, while I'm back to "normal" today, I fully expect to either gain or stay the same this week. This will be an interesting test for me. The good news is, I can pinpoint the exact reasons why I may not see a loss. Also, I feel good about making better weekend choices now. I need to plan better and stay positive. It's a slow process but I feel like I'm back "in it" again. Plus, I'm paying a lot of money for Weight Watchers so that's motivation too.


Other than being inducted into the weekend hall of shame a few days ago, I've been having nice balance throughout the week. I like to have one meal a day that "sticks to my ribs" as they say. I also like to start the day with protein. Then, for the rest of the day, I eat a ton of vegetables and lean protein. This works well because I'm getting plenty of food. I usually get protein in the morning by making eggs. On the occasion I have to be out of the house in the morning and only have 5 seconds to grab breakfast, getting protein is a bit more challenging. I decided to give Muscle Milk a try. I chose the chocolate kind with 25 grams of protein and no added sugar. As far as Weight Watchers goes, it was only 3 points. I was skeptical that a small shake could fill me up but I was WRONG. I was stuffed after drinking this and stayed full for hours. As far as taste goes, it's not exactly a chocolate shake from Cook Out but it's not bad either. I certainly wouldn't choose to have one every day but it serves a purpose when you need a quick, filling breakfast or snack. I bought a vanilla one to try next.



I know that I've spoken ad nauseam about cauliflower rice before and just so you know, it's still a staple for me. The two most important facts about cauliflower rice: 1) There's no need to ever make it on your own now. It's way too much work. It comes frozen and refrigerated now. 2) It needs lots and lots of flavor. For instance, last night, I mixed it with some yummy beef and broccoli I got at the store. I'm not saying it replaces rice but I really didn't it notice it when it was mixed with all that Asian flavor. When I'm making it as a side dish, I load it with Greek flavors. I add salt, pepper, garlic, smoked paprika, Greek olives, a lighter, olive oil based dressing and fat free feta crumbles. Ian grilled pork chops one night and I had it with the rice and even though it wasn't pretty, it was delicious.


Ian and I are spoiled because we love steak and I've been getting them from Fresh Market. We are on a tight budget right now so I bought some cheap chuck steaks to try. We read instructions meticulously on the web to see how to keep them tender. It wasn't that difficult. Bring them to room temp and salt the crap out of them. We let them sit awhile and then patted them dry. We added marinade and threw them on the grill. They were delicious! Of course it wasn't the Fresh Market ribeye but at $7 for 4 steaks, I would say it was a win. I served mine with my frozen, shredded hash browns that are only 70 calories a cup and roasted zucchini with fat free feta.



Because Ian and I are on different diet plans, it can sometimes be a challenge to meet in the middle with him. If I ate what he ate, I'd eat mostly Taco Bell and pizza. Having said that, we still cook a lot at home. We make a ton of meat on the grill. Well, he had the hankering for spaghetti. Because I'd already had my "rib sticking" meal earlier that day, I decided to skip the pasta. It stilled turned out yummy. I had a giant bowl of lean ground beef, one quarter cup spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, onions, zucchini and garlic. I added a few teaspoons of grated parmesan and ate a piece of low calorie toast. I feel lucky that I like vegetables so I take advantage of that. However, it is important to me that the vegetables have flavor. These are the kinds of meals I have throughout the week.

Weeknights have rarely been a problem for me. It's has been and always will be those pesky weekends.

Have a good week everyone!

Stay dry and cool!

Until next week...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tossed Salad & Scrambled Eggs


Hey y'all! I want to begin by wishing not only my father, but all the dads out there an early Happy Father's Day! I hope you get to nap, eat and drink beer on Sunday! Enjoy your day. You are appreciated!

Congrats to my brother David on his engagement last week! I'm still not sure I've processed it yet emotionally. My baby brother is getting married! Either way, I wish both David and Lisa a lifetime of happiness!

On a sadder note, I want to say an early happy birthday to my late friend David Earp! If you were here, I would hope to be celebrating with you tomorrow. You are missed every day friend!



I don't typically get too excited about movies (other than during Oscar season) but Beauty and the Beast came out this week and Ian and I have already watched it once on Monday! I love it so much. I may watch it again tonight. Don't tell Ian. Also, last night we finally got to see Wonder Woman and it was incredible! I would go see it again. If y'all haven't managed to see either of these, get on it. You won't regret it!



Last time I went grocery shopping, I found out that Tyson has frozen chicken that is already pulled. I know it's easy to make and pull your own chicken but buying it pre-pulled is easier and I wanted to try it. I thought it would be good for tacos and/or salads and I was right on both accounts. Ian and I added taco seasoning to it and heated in a skillet. With that I made a big ol delicious taco salad. In addition to the seasoned chicken, I made the homemade tortilla chips for crunch and used salsa as dressing. There are a ton of veggies in the salad. It was tasty and the chicken wasn't dry. I'd say it's a win.





I attempted tackling something I never have before and that's homemade egg drop soup. I'm a fan of soup, especially because it's usually low in calories and you can make it super flavorful. I really like egg drop soup and thought I'd try it to have a couple ready-made meals at home. The premise is simple. Heat up 3 cups of chicken broth (I mixed salted and unsalted). In a separate bowl, mix 3 eggs. I questioned this because I always felt like I was eating egg whites at Chinese restaurants but I went with it anyway. When the chicken broth came to a boil, I slowly added the eggs. What I ended up with was scrambled egg soup. To that scrambled egg soup, I added chives. I mean, it wasn't a total fail because it didn't taste bad. It tasted like egg drop soup. It was the consistency I was bummed about. I would like to try a different recipe next time to get those ribbon-like strips of egg whites.

That's all I have for this week! I went back to Weight Watchers on Saturday and I was down 1.6 pounds! I'm trying with all my might not to let the scale define me while also making sure to stay on track. I'm happy with the results but I'm taking it one day at a time.













Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Snacks on Deck




Happy Wednesday, y'all! I have had an eventful week and so have my mom and brother! They both went skydiving on Saturday! They both said it was amazing. I'm still not sure I'd do it but after hearing about their experience, I'm not 100% ruling it out. The same morning they went, I went to a Weight Watchers meeting for the first time in years. I'm trying to find the roots of my original motivation and using the Weight Watchers system was my method for losing 115 pounds. The meetings are corny but have accountability, which I like, and also, they exchange lots of great tips. I kind of picked a terrible time to reignite my relationship with Weight Watchers because I started on a Saturday and went out of town for a night last night. Having said that, I feel no urgency to lose weight, only to get back the balance I used to have. For example, I went to Memphis last night to see friends that moved there and I enjoyed barbecue and indulged a bit (though not too much). Now the real test is making sure I don't blow the rest of the week just because I enjoyed a very tiny vacation. We will see how it goes. I have my first weigh in on Saturday to see what the numbers say but I'm trying to zen about all of it.


Because I've started eating better, I've been eating food like the salad above. Weight Watchers kind of forces you to eat more fruits and vegetables because they don't count as any points. So, I whipped one up with lots of veggies, Light Olive Garden Dressing, fat free feta crumbles and Greek olives. What isn't pictured are the pork chops I ate with it. I really just shared this because I think salads are so photogenic don't you?




I'm an avid snacker. I especially tend to snack during the summer when I spend more time at home. It's important to me to have good snacks readily available. Since salsa can be consumed frivolously, I eat a lot of it. I decided to make my own tortilla chips. I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees and took 3 extra thin corn tortilla chips (120 calories for 3) and cut them into triangles. I sprayed a pan that I put aluminum foil and parchment paper on with non-stick spray and added the triangle. I baked them for about 5 minutes and then took them out of the oven, sprayed them with a bit more non-stick spray and added sea salt. I then put them under the broiler for a couple minutes. The darker brown they are, the crispier they will be. I've made my own flour tortilla chips before and they were a bit more crisp but I still prefer the corn.  It was a delicious and filling snack and it wasn't too time consuming.

I'll update you next week on the progress!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Until next time!

Holla!





Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Extremes

Hey y'all! I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! As always, I am deeply grateful to the men and women who have given their lives protecting out rights and freedom. It is an unimaginable sacrifice that deserves more than we could ever give back. Because Memorial Day has come and gone, that means we are almost in June. Summers have always gone too fast but now that I'm a teacher, I'm reminded of just how quickly they can pass by. It seems like yesterday I was uploading final grades. That's not to say I haven't kept busy. I'm writing and working on Fall classes already. In addition to that, I'm teaching an online class all summer that started yesterday. Sure, I have  a more flexible schedule and I'm not complaining but in terms of sitting poolside all summer with an umbrella drink like I envisioned before I was a teacher, that's not really a thing. Oh well, I still have it pretty good.


On Friday, my mother, brother and I went to a place in town called Uptown Art where you follow the  instructions of a teacher and paint whatever painting they have set up for that day. This was the mother's day gift I got my mom. She has an artsy side and though I can formulate some decent sentences, I've never been the "artsy" type. I have zero patience so once I realized my painting was going to resemble that of a child in 2nd grade, I gave up. I was done at least 30 minutes before everyone else. Having said that, we still enjoyed ourselves. We had a nice dinner before and drank wine while we painted. I know my mother loved it so that's all that matters. Plus, I even hung my "art" up in the hallway.


There are some people in life who get their kicks by trying new and exciting things. For example, my mom and brother are going skydiving this week. Well, you know, sometimes I try new stuff too. What was my exciting venture last week? Trying the new naked chicken chips at Taco Bell. I know, I know, CRAZY RIGHT?! Well, actually, in the midst of hot dog stuffed pizza crusts and macaroni stuffed cheese puffs, these chicken chips aren't that exciting. I wanted to try them though. I know, I know, I'm supposed to be eating healthy and I TOTALLY AM...or at least, I am trying but I needed to know what this was all about. If you haven't seen the commercial, Taco Bell is offering what are essentially triangular chicken nuggets with a side of that beautiful, luscious, fake ass orange cheese. Because I'm a lover of junk, I was a fan of these. The nuggets had the same quality meat as any other nugget in the fast food world. They also had a spicy kick. Dipping them in the cheese was a fun time too. I'm someone who usually only visits Taco Bell a few times a year late at night. These naked chips didn't really change that but I was satisfied with them all the same. Give 'em a shot.



Since I need to at least pretend like I eat real food sometimes, I wanted to show you my latest Blue Apron meal. Well, really, I wanted to just tell you the way I spiced up the green beans. Growing up in the south, I didn't know that green beans could be served any other way than out of a can then cooked to death in some type of pork flavoring. In the past decade or so, my mother has introduced the family to what we call "yankee green beans" which just means fresh or frozen. At first I rejected these crunchy, bright green imposters. If your green bean wasn't flat, soft or salty, it wasn't a green bean. Because my mom is a great cook, I've come around to the idea of a fresh green bean sautéed in a pan with lots of flavor. I still prefer them as cooked as long as possible but I will admit I enjoy them now. Well, Blue Apron sent me some green beans. I've never made them myself and all Blue Apron said I needed was about a teaspoon of oil and a little salt and pepper. Um, no thanks, Blue Apron. I'm going to need to jazz them up a bit more than that. A few months back, I ordered some bacon jam on a whim in hopes to mimic a life-changing bacon jam I'd had on a burger in Birmingham. It didn't quite have the same effect at home. The jam had hardened and wasn't that appealing in terms of aesthetics. What I realized yesterday though was that it almost resembled a bouillon. So, I took a big spoonful of that and through it in with the green beans and Y'ALL! It has less calories than oil and is packed with bacon flavor. Those green beans were on point and the diced shallot mixed with white wine vinegar (courtesy of Blue Apron) added another layer of flavor. Sometimes, eating vegetable sucks but when you can jazz them up, it's an awesome little surprise.

Until next week...


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Vacation Lessons

Hey y'all! I got back from vacation yesterday and to be quite honest, it was pretty exhausting. I went with a group of friends to the Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores and though I have been before and knew what I was getting into, I know for sure now that I'm too old for music festivals...especially ones in the sand. The only chance I see of me attending another festival is if I suddenly become rich and can afford VIP tickets. I most definitely feel the need to detox. I want to take time this summer to teach myself to once again find a balance that creates an environment for a healthy lifestyle, but also allows fun. I worked out today and I'm in the process of hydrating and getting back to normal but I learned a few things over the course of the last week.


First, always prepare for the rain. I mean this both literally and metaphorically. Travel is one of the
most precious hobbies I have as is spending time with my friends. However, when you travel with other people, you have to consider everyone's differences. There were six of us in a two bedroom condo and in that intimate of a setting, I don't always thrive. I'm a control freak and the entire week I felt completely out of control. There were moments I handled that well and others...not so much. I'm a human being which means I'm full of faults. So, traveling with other people is both a balance of keeping your own annoying habits in check and letting the small things go. In terms of the literal rain, if you are in the south in the summer, chances are, you're going to get wet. Having said that, I wasn't prepared for the heavy rain shower during the day on Saturday and the monsoon I had to walk in that night. It was, let's just say, an experience.


Second, take care of yourself! If you are going to go to a music festival in the summer, the most important rule of all is to HYDRATE. Seriously, drink as much water as you can because it's is effin hot and if you are partaking in festivities, it is even more important to hydrate. Other than hydrating, make sure to reapply a gallon of sunscreen every 15 minutes to avoid sun poisoning. I reapplied with 30 or even 50 spf all weekend and STILL woke up one day with a swollen face. My lip was twice it's normal size. Luckily, I had a spare Benadryl in my purse.



Third, it's your vacation so don't beat yourself up for eating. I plowed through a world of junk food over the past few days. It's OK. I will adjust to my normal eating habits. I have to learn it's allowed to indulge a bit. Having said that, after several days of eating garbage, my body actually craved nutrients so the last night I had some grilled fish. It made me feel like a vacation hero.


Fourth, don't sweat the way you look in a bathing suit. Keep in mind, I'm mostly talking to myself here. It's never a great feeling when you find the way you look disgusting. I have felt this way around 80% of my adult life. However, when I'm at the beach, with friends that I'm completely comfortable around, I let it all hang out. Let's get away from the "good vs. bad" dynamic. As long as we strive to be healthy, it's OK to be who we are...so even though I'm not at my ideal weight (I don't even know what that is anymore), I bought bathing suits that worked for me and felt confident enough to wear them in front of my friends....and I even took a selfie though I did make a decision to do it from the head up. I mean, who am I kidding, I may be confident enough to get in a bathing suit in front of my friends but NO PICTURES PLEASE.


Fifth, take care of each other. Vacations are supposed to be fun and carefree but sometimes they aren't. If all of you are at the beach together, you are group. No person left behind and all that. If you can successfully travel with someone and not want to pull their hair out at the end, then you've found a friend for life.

Hope you all get a chance to travel and/or relax this summer! You've all earned it.

Until next week!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hole in One






Hey y’all! Last weekend was my birthday weekend and I spent it in Knoxville, Tennessee. Normally, I’d be pretty sad about being in Knoxville but Ian and I had a great weekend. Friday night, we went to the rehearsal for Ian’s best friend Brian. It was fun meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones. The next day I got up (albeit a bit sluggish) and headed to my cousin Kellie’s college graduation. The amount of orange was concerning but it was a nice ceremony and I was proud of my cousin. It was good to see the side of family I don’t get to see quite as often. Congrats, Kellie! After graduation, I headed to the wedding for Brian and his now wife, Rebekah. It was a beautiful wedding in the middle of these gardens. Everywhere you turned there was a new type of tree or plant. My favorite was the bamboo everywhere. The wedding was great and so was the party. I had way too much fun so I’m still feeling the repercussions of the weekend. On Sunday, we stopped in Chattanooga on the way back to see my Dad’s side of the family and say Happy Mother’s Day to my Grandma. Finally, on Sunday night, we celebrated my Mom.  It was an awesome weekend but it exhausted me and made me feel pretty lousy about my calorie intake and wild antics. I’ve been somewhat detoxing the past couple days but I’m heading to the beach tomorrow for Hangout Music Festival so my goal is to keep it at least partially in check there, though my expectations aren’t high. When I get back, it’s time to get it together. My heartburn is almost as bad as my self-esteem and it’s time to get my mental and physical health back on track. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the moments but thinking about the future.





Since I’ve been out of town, I haven’t had time to cook or explore new recipes. This morning, I was craving something different than the usual that wouldn’t make me feel guilty. I’ve seen people make “Eggs in a Basket” or as some call it “Eggs in a Hole” before but believe it or not, I’ve never had it. The concept looked easy so I thought I’d try it. I wanted to see if I could make it without butter or margarine and it turns out it’s possible. All I did was spray a skillet with non-stick spray, took two pieces of my 40 calorie honey wheat bread and cut out holes in the middle with a wine glass because I don’t have biscuit cutters. I popped the bread in once the pan was about medium-high heat and let it toast. I removed all but one piece of bread to do it one at a time because I didn’t have enough room to maneuver. Once one side was toasted, I flipped the bread and then cracked the egg into the middle of the toast. I added salt and pepper, waited a moment and then flipped it. I waited until the toast could be removed without sticking and took it out. I sprayed more Pam in the skillet and did the same thing to the other toast. While it was cooking, I made a mini grilled ham and cheese with the bread rounds. Anytime there’s a runny egg, I feel like it’s a party so I found this breakfast fun and different from my every day egg and toast. Plus, the whole breakfast was filling and only 275 calories!





The only other “meal” I’ve made myself is a processed one but it’s a “go to” because it’s quick and the whole lunch was 510 calories. I call it a Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich. I take a frozen, breaded chicken patty (I get mine at Target in the freezer section. I like the Target brand because they are only 180 calories), heat it up, add deli ham, and one piece of Swiss cheese to the top of the chicken and put it between two pieces of toast. I use a bit of mustard and light mayo. I served it with my favorite one-serving, frozen, crinkle cut French fries. It’s quick and tasty and though it most definitely isn’t “clean,” it is satisfying.

Talk to y'all next week!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Poachella





Hey y'all! It's my birthday week! I turn 33 on Saturday and I will be in Knoxville to celebrate both my cousin's college graduation and a wedding for Ian's best friend. Luckily, I had an amazing early birthday dinner Sunday in which I was showered with gifts...I'm super spoiled. Shout out to my Oma for the purse, my parents for the Dyson fan that now makes my bedroom feel like a meat locker, the beautiful bracelet from my brother and his girlfriend and my fresh summer hair from Ian! I'm sure I'll work some more celebrating in over the next couple weeks because it is birthday month after all. I'd also like to wish a happy early Mother's Day to my mom and all the other mothers out there! Y'all are awesome! My diet is a hot mess roller coaster that I really don't want to talk about and I'm already feeling the difficulty that summer can bring to my self esteem and willpower. I'm trying to push that aside though as I'm going to be out of town the next two weekends. I'm still exercising like crazy though and cutting corners when I can.






I was craving brunch on Sunday and instead of spending $30 on something I can do myself (also I didn't want to leave the house), I decided to make a poached egg concoction. I love poaching eggs. It's pretty easy to do but it still makes me feel fancy. All I did was poach the eggs in one skillet (boil about two inches of water and then pop them in and take them out when all the egg whites are actually white) and in another skillet, heated up some ham in which I covered with gouda cheese. I added the ham and cheese to two pieces of thin, 40-calories toast, topped that with leftover salsa from Moe's (resourceful) and then added the poached eggs to the top. Runny yolks honestly make me feel like royalty. The salsa added a spicy kick and the rest was rich and delicious without using any butter or added fat. Plus, I got to eat it in my bed.



The only other thing I wanted to show you was this Campbell's Oven Sauces thing we tried. We've tried the sesame chicken before which was good but this time we prepared the Creamy Garlic Butter Chicken. In an effort to save money, I've been grabbing drumsticks on occasion because they are so cheap but we haven't quite mastered the prep for them. This time, we baked them but when we noticed the skin wasn't what we wanted, Ian had the idea to pop them on the grill. He really saved dinner that night because adding that char to the chicken was what it needed. After all the prep, it was good with the veggies on the side but I probably wouldn't get it again. The pre-made sauce was a little goopy. I did use the chicken to make a salad the next day and that was yummy.



Until next week, y'all!