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!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Veggie Tale

Hey y'all! It's officially spring and though the weather is still confused, the pollen is here and I'm feeling it. My allergies are wild as all get out right now, but I'm starting to just get used to it. Also, because it's mid-April, that means I have a little over 2 weeks left of school and then I'm done! The semester has been seriously dragging since spring break and because I picked up a class for someone on maternity leave, I've been driving nearly 3 hours Monday and Wednesday morning and I'm most definitely ready for that to be done.

Since I started with a series of complaints, I will go ahead and tell you that life, though stressful, is pretty dang awesome. First, as you can see above, the cover for My Life Without Ranch (THE BOOK)  was revealed. There is still some editing left, but I am getting one step closer to holding the book in my hands and sharing it will all of you. Second, even though I'm poor as dirt, I have a lot of fun trips planned this summer. I'd like to thank my parents, American Express and those schools that employ me for allowing me to have two beach trips, two concerts (one in Atlanta), a trip to Portland/Seattle (EEK!) and at least one short trip to Nashville and Chattanooga at some point. I love getting out of town so I'm super excited to go places with my family and friends. Third, as of last week, I finally worked off the weight I gained over the holidays! That was my first goal of the year. It took me until April but dang it, I did it and it feels nice. I'm losing weight SUPER slowly right now but I have momentum and I feel good and I'm working not to obsess so I am happy with the progress. I've made another small goal of around 9 pounds. I don't really care how long it takes so it could be awhile. As long as I'm striving to stay healthy most of the time and not beat myself up, I'm happy.

Happy Belated Birthday to my dog June! This little pup walked into our lives last year and now she's 1. In that time, she's been wild and destructive but we love her and she's part of the family. Maybe now that she's a year old she will calm tf down. Seems doubtful.

Happy Early Anniversary to my parents! I get to head out west with them this summer! I'm pretty lucky that they met in high school and married in 1982 because without them, I wouldn't have been able to see the world or you know, have the best food every Sunday night for dinner.

Happy Early Birthday to my bestie Jordan! You are THE most wonderful friend/person. Can't wait to celebrate with you and then see Shania in June.

So, now down to business. As I think I've mentioned, my current food plan is the new Weight Watchers Freestyle. So far, it's been super manageable. There are a lot of "free" foods including eggs, fish and super lean turkey and chicken. Obviously, you can't eat only meat all the time…so you have to try to get your veggies in when you can. To show you I've been trying to eat more veggies, I included the pretty salad I made above with lettuce, cucumbers, fruit, fat free feta and sesame dressing (from P.F. Chang's and it's delicious) I also showed a video (that I hope you can see) that shows my new fancy spiralizer attachment for the Kitchen-Aid (courtesy of my parents) to make zoodles. Now, I'm cool with vegetables but I don't usually get excited about them unless they are wrapped in bacon or covered in cheese. I try to incorporate a veggie every day…like green beans or broccoli with dinner. In the spirit of eating more vegetables, I decided to try vegetables I either tried when I was younger and though I hated or vegetables I'd never had. I thought now that I was an adult, I may find that I like these veggies and then I would have more options.

The first veggie I tried was beets. Y'all, my grandmother serves beets ALL THE TIME at her famous Sunday lunches. I've always sneered my nose at them but to be honest, I don't think I'd ever really given them a fair shot. Rather than add vinegar and sugar to them like my grandmother does, I prepared them in a way that actually gave me any chance of enjoying them. I cut them up into a fry shape, tossed them with olive oil, seasoned them with salt and pepper and them roasted them. When they came out, I added parmesan cheese. A couple things…1) when you cut up beets, it looks like you've bene involved in a crime scene. 2) It's hard to tell when they are done because they don't really change color or get "crisp." Ultimately, the beet itself didn't have a ton of flavor. It absorbed the flavors of the oil, seasoning and cheese. My problem with the beets had everything to do with texture. It was just limp and broke apart all gross in my mouth. I guess if I had to compare it to anything, it would be a roasted carrot that was in between complete mush and raw. I didn't really like it…at all.

The second veggie I tried (which I later found out wasn't "free" on Weight Watchers) was parsnips. I had never tried them before. I used my mandolin to make parsnip "chips" and much like the beets, I tossed with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder. These are simple. Once you season them, just throw them on a baking sheet and bake them til the edges curl up and they are crispy. These were alright. I'd always heard that a parsnip is a cross between a carrot and a potato. I can agree with that. I liked the salty/sweet combo but to be honest, if I'm going to make a chip from something, I'd pick a regular potato, sweet potato, or even a zucchini if I wanted something less starchy. Having said that, they were my favorite of the vegetable experiments…that doesn't say much though.

The third and final vegetable I tried was brussel sprouts. In my life I'd never eaten them. In fact, I don't have much experience with cabbage at all except for that I like my grandma's sour kraut and weenies and I like the kraut they use at football games. I bought the brussel sprouts, blanched them and them sautéed them in a skillet with olive oil, bacon, garlic, salt and pepper. I only cut them in half…which I think was a mistake. They might have been more acceptable if they had been chopped more finely. When I was done, I picked up a brussel sprout and put it in my mouth. I chewed as it broke apart. I could smell the pungent fart like scent that comes from them and at certain points I swear I could taste it too. The texture was gross. The taste was gross. The only reason I didn't vomit is because I added bacon. Once again, I find myself thanking God for bacon. Y'all. I cannot believe some of you just eat these STEAMED! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! I can now say, with complete confidence, that I do NOT like brussel sprouts. Also, I just googled it and apparently
you're supposed to say "brussels sprout." Even that is dumb. Don't try to get me to eat them again y'all. I won't. My family didn't like them either.

I guess it's back to broccoli, green beans and salads for me. Are there any other vegetables I should try? Anyway, the vegetable experiment didn't go that well but that's OK. I lived through it…though it was touch and go for a minute after the brussel sprouts.