Monday, October 26, 2015

What a crock...

Hey y'all.  I'm super bummed about weight after the weekend.  I was punished for eating Mexican food the night before a weigh in both physically and mentally.  It showed I was up 2 pounds.  I had a couple weeks where I felt optimistic for the first time in awhile then I let it slip away again, only to spiral out of control over the weekend.  At least I'm consistent.  I have decided to do the best I can with the first half of the week, enjoy my Fall Break and Halloween and refocus.  I am not letting anything get me down this week as I have dubbed it the "best week ever."  I have to work pretty hard today and tomorrow but then it's smooth sailing starting Wednesday.  No class and limited grading.  I mean I can't really take a half a week off FOR REAL but doing less work this week is a much needed reprieve.  I am going to see Third Eye Blind at Iron City on Wednesday, I think I'm going to the fair to blow some money on Thursday and Halloween is Saturday! Halloween is by far my favorite holiday so even though I'm softer in the belly area and weigh more on the scale than I have in years, I'm pushing it to the back burner this week to have fun.

I have been wanting a crock pot for a long time now.  I finally got one and I made my first dish in it last week.  The morning of didn't go well as I dropped the metal base of the crockpot denting it then managed to get chicken juice all over the floor and my body but things started looking up once the recipe was in there and the lid was on.  All I did was place three large chicken breasts in the pot then covered it with a mixture of barbecue sauce, brown sugar, light Italian dressing, salt and W sauce.  Then, you put it on high and let it go for 3-4 hours.  Since the breasts were big, I let them stay in for about 3-1/2 hours.  I was skeptical at first.  I thought the chicken would turn out dry or burn at the bottom but despite my anxiousness, I let them sit in there the entire time without touching them.  When I  opened the pot, I was happy to see nothing looked like it had done array. I took two forks and started shredding.  Much to my delight, the meat started tearing apart immediately.  I didn't have to put hardly any pressure when running the fork through them and they shredded right up.  It didn't take long before I had a whole pot of pulled barbecue chicken.  I absolutely loved it.  Ian wasn't crazy about it.  I am someone who likes barbecue all across the spectrum.  I like vinegar barbecue sauce and I like it really sweet.  If you don't like sweet barbecue sauce, you won't like this recipe.  You could probably make some adjustments to make it less sweet.  Me on the other hand, I really like it.  I split it up into 8 servings which were about 240 calories per serving which isn't the best but I was able to eat 8 meals off of it and not break the calorie bank.  I had a sandwich, a burrito, a salad, I ate it by itself once and I even had it with shredded hash browns for breakfast one morning.  I will be going back to the crock pot a lot more because it's a great way to get a big pot of food to split up for the week.

If there are any "real" beer drinkers out there, what I'm showing you now will make them cringe.  I am someone who loves craft beer but I am also someone who realizes how many calories come in one of those things and I have to find alternatives, otherwise my already fragile diet existence will be even more in danger.  I like apple juice but I find that most of the popular ciders are too sugary sweet.  While in Publix, I stumbled upon Michelob Ultra's new light apple cider.  They are 120 calories a piece and have a smooth, crisp taste.  You aren't going to earn any street cred drinking these.  In fact, I anticipate that if any of my people are out there reading this, the chances of me taking a little ribbing for drinking these are pretty strong but I don't care.  I like them because they aren't too strong but strong enough to unwind and they don't make you feel guilty.  Heck, even if I went crazy and had a 6 pack, it would be much better than letting loose on 5 or 6 craft beers.  Go ahead, try them at home.  I won't tell anyone.  Bama is off this week and I think we both need a break.  Until next time, y'all...Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 19, 2015

What do you call a cheese that is not your cheese? NACHO CHEESE!

Hey y'all! I will jump right in because I'm busy, busy, busy.  I managed to lose .6 pounds last week.  I was happy with that.  Once again, things got sketch on the weekend nights this week but I have definitely learned that I am most well-behaved when everything is meticulously planned ahead of time.  I cannot be trusted to "wing it."  The next couple of weeks will be hard but I'm going to do the best I can.

One of my favorite dishes, ever on earth, is the Thai Nachos from Avenue Pub in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  They are pictured first.  It's a giant plate of nachos with their homemade chips that are fried, flaky and delicious topped with chicken, cheese, peanut sauce, sriracha and sesame seeds.  This plate of food is a perfect combination of Asian flavors, spice and cheesy, chicken delicious-ness.  Avenue Pub has never revealed their nutrition facts and it's probably for the best.  If I had to guess, I'd say they are terrible for you...especially if you're me and you take the whole plate down.  I wanted to make nachos at home and so I did.  I used pita chips, added chicken, low fat mozzarella cheese, sriracha, peanut sauce and sesame seeds.  The chips weren't quite as good but I found them to be a solid substitute.  Y'all it was delicious.  The whole plate was 556 calories.  I know that's not GREAT but it was filling and totally yummy.  I can't wait to make it again.

I wanted to share a dish from Chili's that I think is worth showing you all.  It's one of the best low-cal meals out there in terms of getting flavor and filling foods.  A lot of times we are stuck with flavorless chicken and broccoli.  Chili's isn't my favorite place usually but this time, they did a nice job.  Their Margarita Grilled Chicken is 580 calories and is super tasty.  My Mom had it last time we went so this time I thought I'd give it a try.  The plate is covered with black beans and rice, then topped with grilled chicken, tortilla strips and pico.  The beans make it filling and the Mexican flare adds spicy flavor.  I highly recommend it.

Bama plays Tennessee this weekend and I'm keeping my hate speech to a minimum since my cousin and aunt are coming but ROLL TIDE! Have a great week everyone.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Veggie Boost

Hey y'all! First of all, ROLL TIDE! Second of all, I actually lost a pound last week.  I was so happy.  I realized early in the week that I wasn't giving myself enough calories.  I was still providing myself the same amount of calories I was when my mind was in full on diet mode.  Since I have been so unmotivated lately and since I'm so busy, I realized I needed to give myself a bit more during the day to keep my energy going and prevent myself from feeling like I'm starving.  Tuesday and Thursdays are often 15-16 hour days so I need to make sure that I energize myself.  The increase in calories worked both mentally and physically.  When I feel like I'm starving I often cheat and then eat way too much.  The extra calories allowed me to stay within my budget and get through the day.  Even though I ate more during the week, I probably still ate less overall and I actually saw results.  Things got a little wonky on Saturday (dang football season) but other than that I had a perfect week and I plan on doing the same this week.

When I made my mom's birthday dinner, I tried to keep her diet in mind and made two veggie dishes that turned out great.  For both recipes I got the images from Pinterest because I forgot to take pictures but their pictures are probably better than mine would have been anyway.  The first was a vegetable medley of sorts that included chopped zucchini, corn, garlic and spices.  It required just a bit of oil but not much and the flavor from the spices kicked the flavor up a notch.  The best part was that I added a touch of parmesan cheese at the end and cheese makes everything better.  My mom took the leftovers from the dish and made a wrap using the veggies, a flat-out wrap, laughing cow cheese and meat (you can use whatever kind you want).  She said it was great and I was clad she was able to reinvent the leftovers.

The other was probably my favorite. I just took sliced button mushrooms and sautéed them in a skillet with light sour cream and laughing cow cheese.  It didn't have a "diet taste" at all, it was creamy and it had a stroganoff taste to it which I loved.  The mushrooms were all gobbled up by the end of the night.  For me, I like vegetables but tire of them quickly so anytime they have a different edge to them, it makes it better.

That's all I have today as I embark on yet another busy week.

I hope you all have  a great week!

Once again, ROLL TIDE! Bama heads to College Station this weekend.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Okra & Cupcakes

Hey y'all.  I don't have much time today.  Midterm grades are due and I'm behind this week already and Monday isn't over.  I gained a pound when I weighed on Saturday which came as no surprise since I ate too much the weekend before.  I had a rude awakening today when I went to Belk and found myself looking for bigger jeans and flowy clothes to cover myself up.  I remember when I was proud to go shopping.  There are changes that can be made of course but it sure is frustrating to exercise as much as I do and do as well as I do during the week to have weight just piling on.  I have to get motivation for the weekends somehow.  Back on again today of course.

As most southern women tend to do, I love fried okra.  Often times, people think that the only way to have okra is if it's battered and fried but that's actually not true.  I like to have it baked as well. Even Cassandra who is not the biggest vegetable lover will eat it done up and seasoned in the oven.  All I did was take a bag of frozen okra, place it on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam, added some salt and Flavor God's Everything Spicy season and let it go until it was crispy. I broiled it some at the end for added crunch.  It was delicious and the whole bag was 120 calories.  The spice really kicked it up a notch as well.

I neglected to give my mom a birthday shout out last week.  Her birthday was on Thursday.  Happy Birthday Mom! I made a few lower cal recipes, my Dad smoked a turkey and then for dessert we had diet cupcakes.  They were actually delicious.  I've featured the chocolate ones before.  All you do is take a box of cake mix, mix it with one canned diet coke and bake like normal.  I also added some sugar free frosting.  For the strawberry cupcakes, I mixed strawberry cake mix and diet cream soda for a strawberry-cream effect. Both were delicious and well under 200 calories.  They were big too!

Alabama had an amazing win on Saturday and I celebrated way too hard.  I hope they can make just as big of a statement on Saturday when they play Arkansas.

I hope y'all have a great week.

Until next time!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Special Football Edition: Heartache & Hope

Passing back papers to the bleary-eyed first-year writers in Tuscaloosa on the Tuesday following Alabama’s most recent loss to Ole Miss sent a surge of nostalgia through my body.  One student said, “I feel like someone I love broke up with me this weekend.”

We all reconcile losses from our favorite sports teams in different ways.  During the game, I’m the fan who never feels safe.  Bama can be up by three touchdowns and I still have an aching fear that we are going to lose.  After a loss, I’m inconsolable but try to remain positive.  Why is that?  Well, as I told my students, I went to Alabama during a different time.

My first recollections of Alabama football games include walking up the steps of Legion Field and sitting on the blistering hot bleachers, waiting for the 2-hour game clock to start ticking.  My Dad has since taken more of a liking to tailgating but when I was a kid, we drove from Chattanooga to the games and he insisted we get there at least a couple hours before they started. 

I remember seeing the passion back then but not quite understanding it until I got older.  My first flare of vivid emotion for the Tide happened in 1992 when we won the national championship.  My Dad always told me that Alabama was special and like most kids, I thought my Dad’s word was sacred.

When I started school at the University of Alabama in 2002, it wasn’t just the allure of adulthood that had me excited, I couldn’t believe I was a student where so many great athletes and spectacular games had taken place.  I was beyond ready for football season.  Though Alabama hadn’t exactly been racking up the championships for a few years, each season is fresh and new and there is a sparkle in the eye of every fan across the world.

As I said, my first football season as a student was in 2002, when controversial head coach Dennis Francione was in charge.  That year, Alabama barely escaped Middle Tennessee and lost to Auburn, Georgia and Oklahoma. 

After that season was over and coaching adjustments were made (including the Mike Price strip club drama) and yet again, hope was renewed.  Shula’s first season and my sophomore year (2003), Alabama lost to Auburn, LSU, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma and even Northern Illinois. Ouch.

Okay, okay.  It was Shula’s first year and he came in to what was clearly a messy situation.  2004, my junior year, was bound to get better.  In some ways it was better.  Alabama managed to scrape by enough wins to get to a bowl game against Minnesota (which they lost) but they still lost to Arkansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU and once again, Auburn.

There are a lot of things Alabama fans can take but if you can’t beat Auburn, your time as coach isn’t going to last very long.  My senior years (I say years because I was actually there 4 and a half years, or 5 football seasons), Shula was given his final chance.  2005 was better because Bama only lost to LSU and Auburn but in 2006 they lost to Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State, LSU, Auburn and Oklahoma.  What’s even worse is that all the wins Bama managed to accomplish during 2005 and 2006 seasons had to be vacated due to sanctions from the NCAA.

In mid-December 2006, I graduated from the University of Alabama.  On January 3rd, 2007, Nick Saban announced he would be the head coach of my beloved Crimson Tide.  I’m not sure if I was just bad luck for Alabama during my tenure as a student or if it took those bad years to make the good ones so fantastic but students these days don’t quite have a grasp on what it means to be bad.

Those years weren’t all terrible.  We got to see a miraculous catch from Tyrone Prothro and a last second winning kick from Jamie Christensen in the Cotton Bowl.  The most encouraging silver lining during the “dark” times was that true Alabama fans still showed up, wore crimson and hoped with all hope that next year would be better. 

You see, it’s not just football.  I tell my students to go to every game, no matter how the team is doing because they will have the time of their lives.  For me, when I step into Bryant Denny in Tuscaloosa or when I travel to other stadiums or when I watch it on TV, football is more than just a game.  It represents my past, present and future.  My childhood was better and my relationship with my father is stronger because of football.  For those few hours, everyone is a united front.  If football wasn’t important, it wouldn’t hurt so bad to lose.

Every year won’t be our year.  The cards won’t always fall into place, we won’t always have everything straightened out but the players should know that we always support them even when they struggle to make kicks, hold the ball and have busted coverage.  If we lose again this season (and we may), we will move forward, as a unit, and in a week, we will have recovered and start our game days saying, “Roll Tide.”