Monday, March 28, 2016

Asparagus and Attitude

Hey y'all.  It's nearly April and it's hard to believe. It seems cliche to talk about how quickly time moves but it really does...especially as I get older.  I weighed on Saturday for the first time in awhile. I am a happy person but I have a great deal of anxiety.  Lately, I have been depressed about my weight gain and financial issues (suffocating student debt) and I am not a fan of feeling this constant heaviness (pun intended).  I decided Saturday, even after I weighed and was sad about the number, that I would get dressed as if I DIDN'T hate my body. It sounds dramatic and perhaps it is but it's important for me to remind myself that I am a person who should be proud of who she is, inside and out, in spite of a number on a scale. I tend to strip myself of humanity based on how my belly looks in certain pants.  It's not fair to myself or anyone around me to consistently berate who I am.  I have a lot going for me.  Obsession is a scary thing. Lately though, I find myself not wanting to talk about it at all.  I don't want to talk to people about weight loss or food ideas.  I am trying to avoid it which is also not the best idea. So, I decided to be more positive about who I am and tell you when I do GOOD things.  As I said, I got ready Saturday in a way that implied I didn't care that my pants don't fit as well as they used to.  I straightened my hair and put on mascara. I felt pretty for the first time in quite awhile. It was an important moment.  On a lighter yet equally important note, I turned down a french fry that Ian offered me earlier because I wasn't hungry.  It's the little things. I'm going to weigh again this week to keep me on my toes but I am really trying not to be so hard on myself.

I am someone who loves to cook and try new things.  Some dishes are trial and error. Baking chicken may seem like a simple task but I have a bad habit of drying out meat.  I ask my mom for advice and also hit the web for tricks to get juicy meat.  This time, I read that if you marinate your chicken, add it to a baking dish and then cover it in parchment, it traps the meat. I cooked it at 350 for about 30 minutes then it had to go about 5-10 more at 400.  It was AMAZING! It was the best chicken I've ever made. It was juicy and tender and tasty.  I served it with okra that I just baked in a pan and then added spices.

One of Ian's favorite dishes is poppyseed casserole.  He loves for me (or anyone) to make it and serve it with mac and cheese. Since neither of those dishes are particularly nutritious, Only make it once every couple months. This time, I opted to throw a little green on the plate to make myself feel better.  I took frozen asparagus, steamed it in the microwave, then popped it under the broiler (adding some olive oil mist), adding lots of yummy spices and then at the end, I topped it with fresh parmesan.  I am obsessed with parmesan cheese and think everything should have it.  Ian skips the green usually and the asparagus was no exception...more for me. I hope everyone had a nice Easter! Until next week, y'all.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Eating Vegetables and Avoiding the "Diet Taste"

Hi Everyone! My spring break wasn't exactly restful as I graded the first half of the week, traveled to Nashville, (Ian and I had a great time) partied a bit too much and then yesterday, I cleaned the entire house.  The good news is, school tends to wind down pretty quickly after spring break so I have one more big round of papers and it will be summer before I know it.  I haven't weighed in a while but I am going to weigh on Saturday to see where I'm at.  I knew last week would be an indulgence so I'm going to try and stay on the straight and narrow this week to give myself a head start for the weigh in that I'm dreading.

This week, I wanted to share a quick pork chop dinner I made.  I combined parmesan cheese, crushed up wheat thins, spices (including smoked paprika which I love) and used that to coat pork chops that I seared in a skillet then finished baking in the oven.  I conveniently took pictures of the spices/crackers in front of the lovely bouquet of flowers Ian gave me for our anniversary.  The recipe was simple and the pork chops had a lot of flavor.  I have noticed in the past year that I have strayed away from eating as many vegetables that I used to.  In an effort to change that, I have made sure to serve something green with my last several meals.  It's important to eat vegetables.  It's not just because they are healthy.  Veggies are low in calories so if you're really hungry, you can pile them on your plate which takes up room in your belly.  The goal is to fill up more on those so you can just be satisfied with a little bit of the other stuff.

So, I heard about this stuff, Arctic Zero.  It's an ice cream with no lactose, no sugar and it's made with some type of weird fruit.  I was told it was delicious.  Some people are used to healthier foods but for me, ice cream is something that I cherish. I tried it because you can eat the entire pint for 150 calories.  I found that it had a really strong "diet taste."  Hopefully you know what I mean.  I felt like I was eating splenda by the spoonful.  It comes in different flavors but "Cookie Shake" is the only one I've tried and you can definitely tell there was no sugar or lactose. So, what did I do? I added lactose and sugar.  I decided to make a milkshake by adding some low fat milk and a few Oreo thins.  Sure, it wasn't as low calorie as it could have been but it made a nice big milk shake and tasted delicious.  You can buy Arctic Zero at Publix.  Eating it alone wasn't for me but it's worth a shot to try.

I hope you all have a great week!

Until next time...


Monday, March 14, 2016

A Burger House

Hey y'all! It's SPRING BREAK! Sadly, I have a full day of work ahead of me today and tomorrow but after that, I'm not doing anything but having fun! Ian and I are going to Nashville for a fun quick trip on Wednesday and then it will be time to celebrate St. Patrick's Day which is one of my favorite reasons to party! I'm excited to have a much needed break.  I had a couple good days last week where I felt like my old self.  Then, I got super sick with bronchitis and pink eye and for some reason when I'm sick, I throw the healthy living out the window.  It took quite a toll on me but I'm feeling much better now. My plan to wait to weigh until the end of the month is still a go.  I am doing some food planning for the week because even though I know I'll go off course a bit, I won't go completely crazy.

I wanted to share new, thinner Wheat Thins. I love crackers so these were a nice surprise to see.  You can have double the amount for the same amount of calories and they are super tasty. I love dipping them in hummus.  There are also new, thinner Oreos which are also pretty tasty.

In my house, we eat a lot of burgers so I apologize if I share too many. Ian loves burgers too and they make a perfect canvas of flavor so we experiment some.  In the first images, I made a spicy Asian chicken burger.  I've tried similar flavors but I made my own spicy mayo for this one.  I used garlic chili paste and light mayo.  I made the chicken burger pretty simply with some spices in the meat (and an egg to make it more moist) but slapped peanut sauce and my spicy mayo on my Everything Bagel Thin and it was messy and decadent and delicious! The other images are of lean beef burgers that I clearly started eating before I could get a picture but we mixed the beef with parmesan cheese and garlic powder then marinated it in Dale's.  Ian has a sick obsession with Dale's so I drenched it.  Think of your favorite kind of food and then think of ways you can make a burger out of it.  It's a great vessel for flavor. Have a great week y'all!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Baked Fajitas

Hello everyone! I did a poetry reading on Thursday of last week.  Even though it was a small venue, I was nervous. I hadn't done one of those in awhile but it went well.  Shout out to my mom, dad, brother and Ian for sitting through a reading just to support me. It meant a lot.  Thanks for the support I received from afar as well. It's nice to feel the love.  I didn't weigh this week.  In fact, I think I have decided not to weigh again until 3/26 to escape the negativity of the scale and work on treating my body as well as I can and not beat myself up when I don't.  As we all know, it's a never-ending project.

I also wanted to give Ian an anniversary shout out.  Sometimes it seems a bit silly to focus on the date we became "Facebook official," especially since I met him five months prior to that but it's the way of the world now.  Also, it's nice just to give him a shout out because he really is the best.

Last week, I made baked fajitas and they were delicious! Fajitas tend to take a lot of oil and they generally involve standing over a stove.  I just added about a teaspoon of olive oil to each pan I made and it was plenty.  I used chicken tenders that I cut into bite size pieces and in my pan I had mushrooms, chicken and onions and in Ian's pan we replaced the mushrooms with tomatoes.  Adding spices are key so I used a tiny bit of cumin and chili powder but the best addition was smoked paprika.  It kind of replaced the smoky taste that fajitas have because they come sizzling on a skillet.  I really enjoyed these.  They were easy and made for great leftovers. By the way, the instant mashed potatoes made the ingredient picture because the recipe called for a little corn starch and I didn't have any.  I also didn't have flour so I read that you could use a little instant mashed potato flakes as a thickener in recipes.  Thought it was a handy tip.

Another thing I did last week that was such a hit with Ian we are doing it again, is making quick spaghetti with ground chicken and jazzed up sauce.  I've done it before but this time, I mixed my fake squash noodles with pasta.  The combo means that you eat less pasta but you also get your desire to have a little pasta.  I add onion and spices to the sauce and it turns out great.  I recommend anyone trying to avoid pasta to get a tool so they can have squash or zucchini noodles.  You can eat only those or mix in a bit of pasta.  If you're only eating squash and if you are making it for many people, you will want to have a lot because it cooks down a good bit.

Spring Break is just around the corner for me but it means I have to work like CRAZY this week to get a few days off.

I hope you all have a great week!

Until next time...

Roll Tide!