1200-Calorie-a-Day Menu Cookbook

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I always enjoy discovering a new cookbook. I like trying out the recipes and identifying the ones that are particular hits for my family. This Christmas my daughter gave me The 1200-Calorie-a-Day Menu Cookbook by Nancy S. Hughes. We have been trying out recipes since then.

What initially drew me to the book was that it offered menus, not just recipes. That means any given recipe also offers a way to round it out with other recipes to make a meal. It categorizes the recipes and menus according to calorie count and which type of meal during the day it was designed for--like breakfast, lunch or dinner.

I have found a few recipes I like. Unfortunately, I find most of the recipes unimaginative and more like retro 50s food. For instance I tried out the Pineapple-Mandarin Gelatin Salad on page 100. It was not a hit with the other members of the family. It will not be a repeat. Many items are repeated throughout in many menus...not very creative and not very helpful if you end up not liking that particular item on the menu.

There is a great and easy-to-make corn muffin (page 109/104 calories) in the cookbook and also a Creamy Dijon Salad with Artichokes (page 129/65 calories) that my family likes which is handy in rounding out a menu.

Overall I would say there are some good recipes in this cookbook that I will use regularly but the menus are awkward. It would not be the first cookbook I would recommend to someone looking for a cookbook with menus and meals in addition to individual recipes.

This Week's Crockpot Success

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My daughter prepared another winner in the crockpot this week! She picked the Cranberry-Chipotle Country-Style Ribs (p.39) from the March edition of Skinny Slow Cooker published by Better Homes and Gardens. It was fabulous! And so easy to prepare with only 5 ingredients. And the calories per serving is an amazing 395 calories!

We don't ever fix ribs at home. We think of them as fatty and requiring a long time to cook. However, by trimming the fat and using the slow cooker our usual objections were handily eliminated. And the chipotle peppers combined with the whole berry cranberry sauce made for a dynamic duo of flavor.

We paired the ribs with roasted rounds of sweet potato (1/2 of a potato per person) and steamed broccoli (1 cup). It made for a satisfying meal, colorful and flavorful and with in the 500 calorie range for the meal.

We will definitely repeat this menu.

So Much for Thinking My Knee was Healing!

Monday, February 27, 2012
I am beginning to discover there can be consequences, other than positive ones, for becoming a jock at age 55. The challenge is that in order to live a healthier lifestyle I need to eat healthy and also exercise....a lot. But I am still a middle aged, overweight woman! The more weight you carry, the more wear and tear your body endures.

So, a couple of weeks ago when we were snowshoeing and having a wonderful time, it turns out the "pop" I heard and the searing pain I felt was actually my meniscus tearing! Then, becasue I kept on going, it looks like I torn it even more the following week! Now I have a nice big tear. I found this out by finally going to the doctor and getting an MRI (another first). The tear is very obvious!

Meniscus is more like cartilage and therefore does not have a great blood supply.  This is not an injury that will heal on its own. It requires surgery. The tear will be removed, not repaired, and the area around it smoothed. Nothing will grow back. I will have what I have but it won't hurt or catch or continue to tear.

Other than having my tonsils out when I was 3, having 4 teeth pulled for braces and stitches on a finger I have not had to face operations or health issues that slow me down. This is my first. It looks like the operation will be short and sweet but I will have to be put under completely. The rehab will be much longer. It looks like I will get back to my normal activities after 3 -4 months. Spinning may not be high on the list, at least not with the usual up and down transitions. Running on the treadmill is also hard on the knees. But there are PLENTY of other exercises and athletic activities I will be able to do, including biking, hiking and snowshoeing.

The real challenge in all this is my current inactivity. I am on crutches, have my knee up most of the time and am glued to an ice pack. A perfect set up for someone like me to gain weight...oh, and did I mention I am feeling a tinsy weensy bit sorry for myself?

I think this blog and those of you kind enough to read it are my life line. Through the blog and you I intend to keep focused and mindful. It is my only choice! The reality is, not only do I not want to gain weight, but in truth, I need to lose more weight so I don't have to go through this again!

My surgery is on Wednesday. Please send positive thoughts my way. Thanks!

Healthy Living Quote #16

Friday, February 24, 2012
Think 80 percent-

"A friend says, 'If you can't pick it, pull it, hunt it, or fish it, don't eat it.' I follow that 80 percent of the time."

Raul Ibanez, clutch-hitting left fielder for the Philadelphia Phillies, in Men's Health January/February 2012 Edition

Continued Exercising with My Injured Leg

Thursday, February 23, 2012
My knee and leg are getting better. With some massage therapy and my husband "walking" and "kneading" my leg with his foot it is beginning to unlock. Phew!

My work outs have become a little more varied. Yesterday I did my weight lifting, adding the lat pull down, the seated cable rows and my cable rope rear-delt rows. I also did some stomach exercises with an exercise ball and medicine ball. I am still doing the hand cycle for my warm up.

I am feeling more in control and glad that I have kept going to the "Y", despite my injury. I have never actually persevered like this before. The key is that I have kept in control, have not allowed myself to be overwhelmed with feeling sorry for myself and have found a way to work around my injury in my work outs so I am not continuing to injure myself.  I am proud of myself!


Weekend Chili Made by My Daughter

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
My daughter learning the ease and fun of Crockpot Chili

The smells from the kitchen are hungry-making! My daughter has been busy again making another crockpot dinner. This time it is an old family favorite-- "Julia's Chili". This was a recipe created by my mom's long time best friend who was known as "Aunt Julia" to me. It brings back happy memories and good times every time we make it. How fun to be passing the knowledge on to my daughter on how to make this classic recipe filled with such joy.

This is also an easy recipe to assemble. It mainly comes out of a can! This time we changed things up a bit by replacing the usual ground beef with ground bison, which is raised organically and is a much leaner meat. We always add condiments when we serve up the chili which includes-- sliced green onions, light sour cream and shredded 2% shredded cheddar cheese.

The recipe for Julia's Chili is:
1 teaspoon olive oil
Cooking Spray
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lbs. lean ground beef (or bison)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 can stewed tomatoes, 14.5 oz
1 can tomato sauce, 14.5 oz
1 can red kidney beans, 14.5 oz
2 tablespoons chili powder (this should be to your taste!)
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional for a richer flavor)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray and add the oil. Once heated add the onion and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes then add the ground meat. Cook until the ground meat is browned. Place this mixture in a crockpot. Add all remaining ingredients, stir and turn on the crockpot to low for 7 hours. (this can also be made in a pot and cooked just for an hour before serving if you prefer, just won't be quite as flavorful). Serves 4. Calories per serving- 336.

Enjoy! And Eat Mindfully.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie- tasty and only 88 calories!

Monday, February 20, 2012

We have had some Duke grad students staying with us over the weekend. They were here for an energy competition. With all their hard work, I thought it would be nice to provide a treat. Treats are dangerous for me to have in the house because I am usually the one who snacks on them throughout the day. Bad habit. So when I make snacks now, I want them to be healthy and also not packed full of calories.

Chocolate Chip cookies are an all around favorite, like vanilla ice cream. Chances are everyone will like them. But how to make a "healthy" chocolate chip cookie that meets the expectation of this classic cookie? I found one in a Cooking Light cookbook! They look and taste like the cookie we know and love AND they are ONLY 88 calories a piece! I found the recipe on line so I encourage everyone to try it out!

One of the added benefits of this recipe is that cookies actually coming out looking uniform and wonderfully round. This is because you measure them out as a level tablespoon. I have shared a picture so you can see how nice they look on the cookie sheet before baking.

They were a big hit!

200 Calorie Snacks with Wholesome Variety

Friday, February 17, 2012

My biggest weakness are snacks. I tend to way over do unless I pre-plan them. I found this article about getting the most out of your snacks on health.com.

All these snacks are 200 calories or less. I like the creative nature of figuring out how you can design delicious and filling snacks for no more than 200 calories. I am going to take the challenge!

"Give yourself what you’re in the mood for. Just keep this in mind: Protein, fiber, and fat help you feel full, so eat snacks with at least one of these."

As Rich As It Gets

200 calories
1/2 cup Ben & Jerry’s Light Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream with 1 teaspoon fudge sauce and a cherry on top

Delicious Duo

95 calories
9 Garden of Eatin' Baked Blue Corn Chips with 1/2 cup salsa (top left)

104 calories
4 Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value Organic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Triple Whammy

60 calories
Small (5-ounce) fresh fruit cup (top center)

70 calories
1 1/2 tablespoons Back to Nature Nantucket Blend Trail Mix (bottom left)

67 calories
1 cup bell pepper strips with 2 tablespoons fat-free ranch dressing

More For Your Calories

55 calories
1 Ghirardelli Squares chocolate (top left)

38 calories
1/2 ounce herbed goat cheese (top right)

56 calories
7 Kashi TLC Honey Sesame Crackers (bottom left)

51 calories
1/2 cup sugar snap peas with 3/4 tablespoon ginger-and-miso dressing