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Monday, April 30, 2012

Spinach, Mushroom, and Feta Frittata


I love finding simple recipes that I can easily vary and keep the basic ingredients on hand for making a meal. Frittatas are very adaptable, you can put just about any combination of foods in them and it is a one pan meal. Most people think you need to use potato in them, which is the traditional way, but you can make them healthier by not including them. I have been searching for a recipe that has some basic quantities and calories I can follow. I think I have found a winner! All you need is egg, onion, mushrooms, spinach and feta. The mushrooms can be substituted with other vegetables like red peppers while the spinach can become basil or arugula in the summer and then the feta can be substituted with any variety of cheese from cheddar to mozzarella. If you keep to the same quantities the calories will be approximately the same which makes managing you calories for a meal a breeze. Pair the Frittata with a muffin and a cup of fruit and you have a delicious, colorful and satisfying meal with not much to clean up in the kitchen! The Frittata recipe I found I like for its ease is -- Spinach, Mushroom and Feta Frittata that serves 4 with each serving having 235 calories.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Great Healthy Living Quote #19

This quote with a beautiful visual I found a great reminder of how we/I can get wrapped up in the wrong thinking...perpetuating a negative cycle:


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Airport Breakfast That Works for 420 Calories!


It is always hard to eat right when you travel. Even when you do it regularly it seems "special" and not part of the usual routine. This sets me up for eating more than I should or the wrong things. The problem is always the sense of being denied something I desire...bad head space.

So how to find something to eat in an airport that isn't too bad for you, feels kind of "special" and fits with in the acceptable calorie range. And, of course, it has to be satisfying so I feel full and won't want more to eat. I think I have found something...it requires standing in two lines, but for me it is worth it.

I buy the Starbucks latte (or Caribou) first- a grande skinny with sugar-free Vanilla and sugar-free Hazelnut coffee syrup in to make a "Skinny French Vanilla Latte" (120 cal). Then I go to McDonalds and buy the Egg McMuffin Sandwich (300 cal). It seems like a splurge to me and the total calories are- 420. What I like about it is that I can also make it part of my routine. That helps me avoid the temptation of choosing something to eat that is even worse for me and has many more calories. This is a routine I can stick with!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Post Surgery Knee Update-- ugh!

An Amusing Photo Image Capturing How Big the Needle Seemed!

Well things are not going as smoothly as I had hoped. I went for another 3 week check in with my orthopedic surgeon. Not only am I still struggling with the thrombophlebitis, but my knee also remains too swollen. So my doctor recommended draining my knee of the excess fluid. Lovely!

Yesterday at the doctor's office I had the thrill of having my knee drained of the excess fluid and then getting a steroid shot in my knee. She did inject lidocaine in my knee before putting this very large needle in my knee with a very large syringe to draw off the fluid. Well, no doubt about it, there was a lot of fluid to draw off! Once that was done, in went the third needle with the steroid. That was painful! Ouch! Back on went the ace bandage (thank goodness it doesn't have to stay on for long).

I have to lay off cycling for another three weeks or any other repetitive activity that would excite my knee to make more fluid. Stretching and flexing exercises are encouraged. At least I can still go to the gym and exercise...keeping my head in the game! It makes such a difference in helping me feel in control and mindful of my desire and commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

I will not feel sorry for myself...I will not feel sorry for myself...I will not feel sorry for myself...

I will focus on healing myself...looking forward to a son's graduation from Grad School and a niece's wedding...walking and dancing into summer!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Daughters Crockpot Recipe This Week- Barley, Black Bean, and Corn Burritos

Just assembled and ready to cook
It was a warm sunny Saturday when my daughter prepared this recipe. Burritos are good anytime, but somehow the spicy flavors seem to be enhanced when the days are hotter and the sun more intense. This week she prepared Barley, Black Bean, and Corn Burritos. It was easy for her to prepare. The smells in the kitchen were divine! This was a vegetarian meal. We all thought it was delicious and filling. For a complete meal we added a wedge of fresh pineapple. The total calories for the meal was 474. A definite repeat and also a meal I would happily serve to friends. Here is the recipe-



Barley, Black Bean, And Corn Burritos
Recipe By :Cooking Light Magazine
Serving Size : 9 Preparation Time : 20 mins
1 (15-ounce) can black beans -- rinsed and drained
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles -- undrained
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 garlic clove -- minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
18 flour tortillas -- (6 1/2-inch)
1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese -- PLUS
2 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese -- (4 1/2 ounces total)
9 cups thinly sliced curly leaf lettuce
2 1/4 cups salsa
1 cup fat-free sour cream -- PLUS
2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream

Place first 11 ingredients in a 3- to 4-quart electric slow cooker; stir well. Cover with lid; cook on low-heat setting 4 to 5 hours or until barley is tender. Stir in cilantro.

Heat tortillas according to package directions. Spoon 1/3 cup barley mixture down center of each tortilla; sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cheese. Roll up. Place 1 cup lettuce on each of 9 plates; top each with 2 burritos. Spoon 1/4 cup salsa and 2 tablespoons sour cream over each serving.

Yield 9 servings.

CAL 402 (11% from fat); PRO 17.6g; FAT 4.4g (sat 1.8g); CARB 65.5g; FIB 7.1g; CHOL 8mg; IRON 4.5mg; SOD 1,075mg; CALC 280mg


Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Vegetable Great for Weight Loss-- Spring Onions


Spring is definitely in full swing. The colors of the foods are more saturated and brighter. I have also noticed the subtle shifting in the recipes I am choosing for our weekly menus. Salads are showing up as well as more stir-fry and burritos. A common ingredient through out all of these dishes is green onions, a lovely and bright spring vegetable! Not only are they plentiful, they are also really good for us. Here is what I found out from iVillage:


Sometimes called scallions or green onions, these mild young shoots won’t bring tears to your eyes or leave a pungent smell on your skin after you cut them -- and both their white bulbs and tall green stems can be added to recipes for a dash of flavor and color. Spring onions are rich in sulfur -- a nutrient that helps your pancreas burn carbs for fuel before they can be stowed away as fat, say Stanford University researchers. Sulfur is also a powerful tissue-healing anti-inflammatory that helps protect your tummy from the ravages of ulcer-causing H. pylori bacteria, say researchers at the State University of New York at Albany.
Check out the recipes I have posted on my blog from stir-fry to salads for ideas on how to include green onions. They are great in general to have on hand as a garnish for any dish. An easy way to add a finishing touch and healthy ingredient to a dish with virtually no calories.

Happy Spring!

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Daughter's Crockpot Recipe This Week- Beef Burgundy


My husband is still talking about my daughter's crockpot recipe she fixed this week. He loved, loved, loved it! It was another Cooking Light Slow Cooker recipe- Beef Burgundy on page 38. I found a similar recipe online which I have linked here but it is not exactly the same. The items we changed in the recipe were that we substituted buffalo meat for the beef and we used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. This is a recipe that is easy to assemble and just gets better and better the longer it cooks!



The menu we had was-
Beef Burgundy with Egg Noodles   398 cal
Tossed Green Salad
   with 2 Tablespoons of dressing      45 cal
Strawberries (1 cup)                            52 cal
Total calories for dinner                    495 cal

Here is the recipe photographed from the book for those who want to try it:





Another yummy, easy dinner that my daughter fixed for all of us to enjoy! A definite repeat.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Yummy Chicken Picata Dinner


It is a blessing to have a family so supportive of practicing a healthier lifestyle. This includes pitching in to help make the meals. Sometimes, when we have all had busy days of work and meetings, it is hard to get a healthy, home-cooked meal on the dinner table at a descent hour. The only way to do it is to have us all in the kitchen fixing the meal together.

Last night was one of those nights. The pre-planned menu was Herbed Chicken Picata (160 cal), Garlic Mashed Potatoes (101 cal) and a marinated Orange & Strawberry Salad (107 cal). My husband took on preparing the Chicken Picata which included pounding the chicken! My daughter volunteered to prepare the mashed potatoes and I did the salad. By doing it this way, none of it took too long to prepare. We were able to chat while cutting and chopping, which was a nice benefit. It was easy for all of us and not one of those nights when you are so tired that doing a dinner from scratch has you exhausted just thinking about it!

The dinner was delicious! Perhaps it tasted better because we all helped, but we did all agree it was a definite repeat!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Popcorn-even healthier than we thought!

I love when a long time favorite food is found to be even healthier for me than I knew! I have long loved fresh, air-popped popcorn. It is such a satisfying treat. It is crunchy and filling and can have a variety of flavorings, like butter spray, or herbal accents (Herbes de Provence with a smidgen of salt..yum!). Now research informs us that popcorn is also high in antioxidants.

According to a recent article in The Week, Researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania ran tests on several different popcorn brands and found that the hulls contained surprisingly high levels of antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been found to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Even more impressive- a serving of popcorn provides more than twice the polyphenols as a similar serving of most fruits and vegetables, and because it contains little water, popcorn 's nutritional benefits are more highly concentrated. As a whole grain, popcorn also boasts higher concentrations of fiber than cereals or breads do. Awesome!

Popcorn is looking more and more like the "perfect snack food"! How great is that!?!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Vegetable Great for Weight Loss--Watercress

We have been enjoying making more salads these days. With so many spring vegetables showing up at the grocery store it is fun to incorporate them in our menus. This past week I selected an online recipe - Sesame Shrimp Salad.

I honestly picked it because I wanted a recipe that would make good use of my homemade marmalade. This recipe also uses shrimp, a favorite seafood of my daughters. Little did I know I was selecting a recipe with watercress that is a Spring Vegetable great for weight loss! And this is what I found out about watercress-

This delicate, peppery-tasting green is low-carb, low-fat and contains a paltry two calories per half cup. It’s also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous and the B complex vitamins, which work hand-in-hand to reduce tissue inflammation and flush out trapped fluids, say Stanford University researchers. Raw watercress adds a delicious zing to sandwiches and salads -- or it can be steamed and served just like any other green. Tip: Wrap a damp cloth around the roots and toss the whole bundle into a plastic bag, and it will stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.

And who knew watercress would help reduce tissue inflammation-- something I have been personally struggling with post knee surgery!

The recipe, Sesame Shrimp Salad, was delicious and packed-full of yummy ingredients. It is a definite repeat and recommended for others to try!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprint Cookies


I was looking for a healthier cookie for Easter. I wanted one that might also evoke the images, smells and memories of the Easters we had when my kids were growing up. A tall order. I came across a thumbprint cookie that I thought might do the trick. They look a bit like nests and you can put a dollop of jam in the middle of them in all variety of flavors and Spring colors. Peanut butter has also played a long standing roll in our Easters. There is nothing like the joy of eating a Reese's Cup shaped in the form of an egg! But, it is VERY high in calories.
Cookies with thumbprint and before baking

What I tried was a Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprint cookie, originally from Cooking Light. They were pretty easy to make but you do need time to chill the dough before baking. Not hard, just needs a little planning. I used my homemade orange marmalade for the dollop in the middle. It worked! The cookies were moist and chewy. Everyone thought the cookies were delicious. No one ate just one. But at only 103 calories per cookie, eating 2 was an acceptable indulgence. And as an Easter treat, reminiscent of all the good things of our celebration, the vote was a thumbs up. I think we have a new, healthier tradition afoot!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another Spring Vegetable Great for Weight Loss--Ginger

Ginger adds such wonderful flavor for so many dishes. We think of it most often in Stir-frys and holiday sweets. It is so much more versatile than those dishes. It can be added to whole grain dishes (bulgar with ginger & orange) and vegetable dishes (orange-ginger glazed carrots). This is good news since it has such great health and healing properties. This is what I learned about its benefits from a post on iVillage:

Just one teaspoon of fresh ginger and you’ll feel full almost twice as quickly, say researchers at Florida’s University of Miami. They credit ginger’s two powerful appetite suppressants -- gingerol and zingibain. Bonus: Ginger is also an amazing anti-inflammatory, and eating it daily dampens pain, swelling and stiffness for up to 75 percent of women studied, adds James F. Balch, M.D., author of Prescription for Natural Cures.

Here! Here! to eating more ginger!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Great Recipe using Chinese Pea Pods--Orange Beef Stir Fry

We have been preparing a variety of stir-frys the past few weeks. It is amazing the many choices there are and how they can be made of all sorts of diverse ingredients providing for delicious flavors. A simple stir fry recipe we found includes Chinese Pea Pods-- Orange Beef Stir-Fry. You may have seen a previous blog entry of mine where I mention that pea pods are a help in curbing hunger and therefore a good choice for weight loss and/or management. This recipe also includes a bit of marmalade, of which I have many homemade jars to use. So it seemed a perfect recipe for us to try. It was delicious! Each serving is 456 calories which includes 1/2 cup rice, offering a complete meal of protein, vegetable, fruit and grain. A definite repeat.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Castor Oil as a Cure for Thrombophlebitis


I am beginning to think that Castor Oil is a cure all. It reminds me of a reference to Windex being a cure all in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Have you ever seen that movie? It is a sweet romantic comedy where the father in it is always recommending Windex to fix any issue....from pimples on the face to sunburns. The information I have been reading about Castor Oil made me think of the Windex reference in this movie. The difference is, Castor Oil has been around a long time and has a long following of those who have experienced its benefits.

A great, knowledgeable lady recently recommended I use a Castor Oil Pack for my long lingering thrombophlebitis. I have been following all the instructions and recommendations from my doctor as well as my rehab therapists and still have noticeable swelling and ongoing achy pulsing in my affected veins, so I thought it was worth a try. I went to Whole Foods where I found the Castor Oil and the Wool Flannel squares you need for the pack. It is extremely easy to do. You saturate the wool flannel square, which you can cut to fit the affected area, with the Castor Oil. Then you place that on the area you want to relieve. Wrap it in Saran Wrap, place a hot pad around or on it and then cover it all with an old towel. Let it "cook" for 30 to 90 minutes while reading a book or watching TV.  When the time is up you can remove everything and clean the castor oil off your skin. I took off the towel and heating pad but left the wrap on for another couple of hours (shows the level of my desperation!). I think it really helped.

I only put the wrap on my calf where the pain has been the greatest. But the clot is at my ankle and I still have significant swelling on and around my knee. So, I am going to continue to do the packs, cover more areas of my leg and apply it consistently for the next week to see how much more improvement I can achieve. I am excited bout the possibilities!


Monday, April 9, 2012

My Daughter's Crockpot Recipe This Week- Vegetarian Sweet & Sour Mixed Bean Hot Pot


My daughter tried out a new recipe in a new cookbook this week. This time she went for a vegetarian dish. This recipe starts by making a roue with whole wheat flour, apple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, a little bit of butter, ketchup and shallots. Interesting sounding combination, right? Well it makes for a delicious sauce! The roue is the hardest part of the recipe. Otherwise she assembled a variety of beans- garbanzo, cannellini, lima and fresh green beans and mushrooms. Then after the beans cooked for a few hours, she thinly sliced potato, sauteed them in a little oil in a cast iron skillet until they were browned, and then placed them on top of the beans to cook an additional couple of hours. It looked beautiful, as you can see by the photo, and it was very tasty. We had a guest for dinner and he gave my daughter the ultimate compliment, he asked for seconds! It is a definite repeat.

I found a similar recipe on line for those who would like to try this recipe- Sweet and Sour Mixed Bean Hot Pot

Friday, April 6, 2012

Once Upon A Recipe- A Fun & Healthy Children's Cookbook



The public library is a great resource. You can find so many unexpected treasures. Recently I have been researching children's cookbooks trying to understand portions and proportions as well as what others think are interesting, healthy recipes for kids. I came across a wonderfully creative book called Once Upon A Recipe by Karen Greene. It is based off of favorite fairy tales and children's books. It includes elegant drawings and recipes to go with each fairytale. There are even original quotes from these classics to capture the imagination. What I was particularly impressed by was the healthiness of the recipes along with the way she sets them up to be interesting and fun for children to experience.

In honor of Bunnies, Spring and Easter, I have included her Peter and Benjamin's Bunny Cake for you to inspect and maybe even try out!



Check out your local library and see if they have a copy. You are bound to have fun perusing this cookbook! I want to have a tea party for the little kids I know just so I can enjoy the bounty of this book!

HAPPY EASTER!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Vegetable Great for Weight Loss--Snow Peas

I love the change in seasons. It renews my interest in food and allows me to rediscover old friends. As I was roaming around on iVillage, I found a yummy tidbit about Snow Peas. And since my daughter is now trying her hand with Stir Fry recipes, we are using fresh snow peas as part of the ingredients. I paused and read this-

Snow peas have flat, edible pods (no shelling required!), plus a sweet flavor and crisp texture that make them great for snacking. And since almost 25 percent of a snow peas’ calories come from sugar-stabilizing protein, eating one cup -- raw or cooked -- shuts down the munchies for two hours straight, say researchers at the University of Toronto, Canada. Chefs also love to toss them into their stir-fries and you should try tossing them into your sauté dishes too.


Not only are snow peas great in Stir Fry recipes, they are also great slightly blanched and served as crudite for a snack or appretizer when you have friends over. Add a healthy dip, like homemade hummus, and you are set for a satisfying, hunger squelching treat!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Knee Surgery Update

Well, things have not gone as smoothly as I had hoped. I am actually a little cranky today. I went to see the doctor for my check up at 5 weeks. I should be hopping and skipping around at this point...but I am not. My knee, leg and ankle are still considerably swollen.

She wants to see me in 3 weeks...again! If the swelling has not resolved itself by then she will then want to drain my knee of fluid and give me steroids. Ugh! She said my knee is now getting used to being swollen which is not good. Others said that when the knee is drained, other then enduring the needle being inserted, it is a relief and makes everything feel better. My hope is that I don't have to find this out.

Meanwhile, I am back to icing my knee, calf and ankle in hopes of encouraging it to not swell. I am also back up on my ibuprofen, to also limit the swelling. I do have to start working out regularly, though. My psyche can't handle anymore inactivity. So that is the compromise. Icing & Ibuprofen with reinstating regular exercise...it has to work!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Spring Cleaning- Out with the super-sized clothes!


Experts say that one of the best things you can do when you are committed to losing weight and keeping it off is to get rid of your largest sized clothes. I have always found this hard to do. I have felt I needed the safety net of the bigger clothes. Somehow I have always needed them again.

Spring has sprung and the need to clear things out and clean things up is compelling me to re-examine why I am holding on to my larger sized clothes. The reality is that I have kept off my 50 lbs for a year now. I really like my adopted healthy lifestyle. I much prefer it, in fact. I don't feel like I am missing out on anything, denying myself any foods or that I need to eat more than I am. Actually I want to still eat less!

So, I decided it was time to let go of my clothes that were too big. I am only keeping the clothes I currently fit in and one size smaller that I have from years ago. I even took the discarded clothes to Goodwill so they were out of the house and gone for good.

It feels great! My closet looks so much better. I feel like a weight has been lifted from me. No more looking back. I am marching forward!

Now I am hoping in another year I can clean out my closet even more!

Here's to the renewal and healthy change that comes with Spring!