Monday, June 27, 2016

Sweet Potato Flair


Hey y'all! Jordan and I had a great time celebrating our friend Nichole on her wedding day in Louisiana this past weekend. I made better choices than I usually do in New Orleans. I got fish and wraps and red beans & rice instead of eating all fried foods. I still snacked too much. Today has been tough as I'm trying to get everything back to normal. When I weighed on Friday, I was roughly the same as the week before give or take a few ounces. As usual, I'm working on my attitude and will power this week.

I wanted to take a second to wish my Dad an early happy birthday! We will celebrate on Sunday! Love you Dad!

I'm not a huge sweet potato fan. I hate them in dessert form but I can handle them when they are fried or have enough salt. I came across a Greek inspired sweet potato and modified it to make it my own. I popped the sweet potato in the oven for an eternity and finally it was ready. After that, all I did was add feta cheese, kalamata olives and spinach. The combination of the saltiness of the olives and cheese with the sweetness of the potato made for a nice pairing. Sweet potatoes are something I try to have from time to time (not the french fries version) because they are loaded with nutrients. This was an acceptable way to eat one.

Finally, I wanted to share my new addiction. If you are someone who likes only sweet chocolate, it won't be for you but if you are a true chocoholic, you may want to give it a try. Ghiradelli makes a dark chocolate square that adds sea salt and almonds and for 50 calories, you can enjoy this delectable treat.  I love the flecks of salt that pop up and the intensity of the dark chocolate. I pretty much have one every night. Have a great week, y'all!

Monday, June 20, 2016

First Time For Everything

Hey y'all. Happy Summer! It has felt like summer in Alabama for a few weeks at least but I guess today it is officially summer. I came across this Tweet from 7 years ago this past weekend. It was the first week I was on Weight Watchers. I was taken aback that it had been that long. I remember the momentum I had when I first started and it occurred to me that then, there were no gimmicks, just plain ol eating less. I had a renewed energy thinking about those years when I did so well and for the first time in a VERY long time, I had a successful weekend. I was feeling down after a couple light bingeing sessions in the beginning of the week and something changed Thursday night. Friday, I was ready to have a more positive outlook and it carried me through the weekend. I am hoping this motivation continues. I even went out with friends and had fun without having to feel guilty at the end of the night. Another thing I remembered was that planning ahead was critical. If I knew I would be going out or traveling, I would sacrifice in some areas to splurge in others. I am going to New Orleans this weekend and weighing on Friday before I go. I am only going to use the weigh-ins to see if I need to adjust my calorie intake. I don't want them to be a badge of failure anymore. Anyway, I am proud of this weekend and I hope to keep it up.

In my effort to have a more positive relationship with food lately, I have been doing things I've never done in the kitchen. For the first time, I had my family over for Sunday dinner and I made a homemade pie from scratch. I also served appetizers that snuck in the picture as well. A derby pie is kind of like a combination of a pecan pie and a chess bar with chocolate chips. I had it for the first time in Kentucky, where it's pretty popular. I followed instructions on the pie crust and it wasn't as bad as I thought. I have always been super intimidated by pie crust but I nailed it. I doubt I'll make it again anytime soon though. Having pie in my house is a temptation I don't need.

That same night, I also made bread from scratch for the first time.  I was lucky enough to get a Kitchen-Aid from my parents on Christmas and I've been itching to use it. I found a recipe that allowed the mixer to do all the work for me. Walking in the kitchen and seeing that my dough had actually risen was a proud moment for me. The bread was yummy! For both the pie and the bread, all I did was search for "Pie Crust" and "Kitchen-Aid Bread" in Pinterest. I had nothing to do with these recipes because as far as I've come as a cook in the kitchen, I haven't quite mastered the art of baking creativity just yet.

I am someone who LOVES runny egg yolks. Having avocado toast with a runny egg on top is something that I actually consider decadent. Having said that, I've only recently started ordering poached eggs at restaurants and I had never made one before...until last week. Once again, it was something that I thought would be much more difficult but turned out pretty easy. My mom told met there was a way to do it in the microwave which I'll try next but it ended up being pretty easy. All I did was bring water to a boil, drop an egg in the boiling water (with the shell) for ten seconds, take it out, crack it and after you swirl the water around in the pot, drop the egg into the middle of the swirl. When it's white all around, take it out with a slotted spoon. Bam. I loved it with toast.

Finally, I have a terrible time with plants. I have like a reverse green thumb. I am trying to change this. Currently, I have a big pot of annuals in my front flower bed that I have kept alive for a few months and I'm really proud of that. When I planted those, I also decided to try and grow a squash plant in the back yard. I put two seeds in a pot which was my first mistake. I should have only put one because they need room to grow. I will say that seeing that tiny green plant sprout out of the dirt from a seed was a BIG deal for me. Sadly, I had to remove one of the plants because they weren't growing and now my remaining squash plant is hanging on by a thread. The yellow flowers that grow on it keep dying. I will say that I'm still proud of it, though. One day I'll get there.

I want to give a shout out to my friend Nichole! She is getting married on Saturday in Louisiana and I can't wait for Jordan and I to go and see it. I'm so happy for you!

I hope you all have a great week!

Until next time...


Monday, June 13, 2016

Make Your Salads Count

Hey y'all! I wanted to begin by giving an early Happy Father's Day shout out to not only my Dad but my Grandpa and the other important men in my life who are great fathers. My Dad would do anything to make me happy including taking me to football games, Colorado and to see Taylor Swift. He's also been there countless times to bail me out when I needed a hand. I love you Dad!

I also wanted to take a moment to say Happy Birthday to my friend David Earp. I wish that I could celebrate with you on Wednesday and hear your laugh and hug you. I can't do that but I assure you I will be thinking of you. If the shooting in Orlando teaches us anything it's that we need to treat people with kindness and cling to loved ones. David did just that. I miss you every day. Love you! Wherever you are on Wednesday, have a cocktail and a party.

So, I've been making a lot of salads and I know that can seem depressing when you're trying to eat healthy. The thing about me though is that I make sure my salads are big, filling and packed with protein so I don't feel neglected after I'm done. In the first picture, I made a giant salad with grilled chicken breast, a 100 calorie combo pack of walnuts and almonds, feta, olives, onions and light ranch. You can add avocado or sun dried tomatoes or you can substitute the chicken for fish but the nuts add crunch (I also threw in a few everything bagel crackers) and protein and I piled the spinach in the bowl.  I also love making burrito bowls (the salad on the right). I add ground chicken (with taco seasoning), lettuce, salsa, black beans, a little brown rice and occasionally I add the 100 calorie packs of guacamole. The cool thing about burrito bowls is that you can use salsa as your dressing and you pretty much never have to feel guilty about eating salsa. The second picture is a veggie salad that I made. This was gigantic and around 200 calories. All I did was sauté a ton of zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, green beans and onions and then added it a pile of spinach. This was super healthy but I love veggies so it was colorful and filling. There are lots of ways to keep your salad healthy and make you happy.

I wanted to quickly share the Toasted Sesame Olive Oil that I purchased from the Happy Olive in Fairhope, Alabama. It's my new favorite thing. Olive Oil can be dangerous but the cool thing about flavored oils is that it's potent. I can use spray butter and add just 1 teaspoon of the toasted sesame oil and it adds Asian flare to your veggies. I'm someone who spends a good deal of time throwing random ingredients from my pantry into a pan to stir fry and so it's a perfect addition. Have a good week y'all! The struggle is real as usual. I plan on doing more planning ahead this week. I'm never good flying by the seat of my own pants.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sweet Tooth

Welcome to June y'all! It's already hot in Alabama so I imagine it's going to be a rough summer. Each week I have been trying to be less hard on myself and direct my focus somewhere more positive. The past week went extremely well. I had a bit of junk Saturday night and as usual ate way too much cheat meal last night but I'm trying not to think too much about that because I ate super healthy during the week. My mantra right now is to not focus on what I CAN'T have but focus on what I CAN have. I have stopped measuring quite as much when it comes to veggies or more healthy foods. I am limiting my calories but more importantly, I'm eating less processed foods and I have been eating a ton of vegetables. I haven't weighed and that's weird so I'm not sure how long I can do that but at the same time, it's kind of nice. It's especially rare for me to not weigh while I'm actually eating well but I'm tired of the scale determining how I should feel about myself.

I am a chocoholic and I love dessert so I'm always looking to fill in that gap. I am a fan of graham cracker crusts so one of my favorite dessert hacks is to get my favorite flavor of Greek yogurt and pile it into a miniature graham cracker crusts. The small Keebler crusts are only 100 calories so it feels like eating a tiny pie. Getting flavors like Boston Cream and Key Lime will help bolster the pie effect even more.

I have also been utilizing fruit a lot more. I'm lazy so anything that I can do in one or two steps is good for me. Target is selling smoothie mixes that are ready to go. They have fruit and a yogurt packet so all you do is add water and blend. This was filling and delicious! I hate bananas, mangos and peaches so I stick to mostly berries and pineapples in smoothies and those aren't always easy to find so this is my new go to easy sweet treat. It's especially nice after a workout.

Finally, I tried my hand at making frozen yogurt. This was super simple as well. I just added frozen raspberries, honey and greek yogurt to the blender and plopped it in a dish. The only problem is that someone thinks that honey is a good enough sweetener for raspberries and they are wrong. I have been adding sweetener to it so I can eat it. It's way too tart. I also tried putting it in one of my graham cracker crusts. If I make it again, I'll use vanilla yogurt or add Splenda.

Either way, dessert doesn't have to ruin your whole day. You can have something sweet and not feel guilty about it. It's especially relevant to have cold treats around now that it's summer.

Have a great week!