Archive | October, 2013

Recipe: Green Bean Casserole

30 Oct

Green Bean Casserole

Cook time: 30 minutes to prep (including snapping the green beans); 50 minutes to cook

green_bean_casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 1/4 pounds green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, cooked crisp-tender
  • 1/2 cup canned French-fried onions

Preparation

  1. Mix soup, sour cream and milk in 2-quart casserole; stir in beans.
  2. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees until mixture is bubbly, about 45 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle with onions during last five minutes of baking.

Courtesy of 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes, fourth edition

Verdict

I love comfort food and one of my favorite things growing up was green bean casserole. Casseroles are perfect for single meals. There’s not a lot of prep work, they reheat perfectly and you can freeze them for later. This turned out very, very good…after I added a little salt and pepper to the cream mixture. You don’t need too much because there is some salt in the soup and you’ll also have your fried onions. Also, there’s no need to actually cut the green beans into perfect  1 1/2-inch pieces; the snapping of the green beans is actually very relaxing

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Booby Traps

28 Oct
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fuschia_foot/600752201/

photo credit: Fuschia Foot via photopin cc

Last year, I went on vacation with friends to Cancun. I hadn’t been to the beach in a couple years and it was past time I put my toes in the sand. Funds were a little tight and I wanted to spend my vacation fund on more important things…like drinks at Senor Frogs. So I decided to forgo a new swimsuit.

I took my favorite suit: a white, low-cut one-piece that was totally flattering—30 pounds ago. When I went snorkeling, one of the guides wanted to take my picture under water. I blame the water pressure, but as I sunk myself, one of my girls decided to make an appearance for the camera. Yep, I flashed my Cancun snorkeling guide.

During the beginning of my weight-loss journey, I’d lost and gained several pounds, but nothing happened to my bra size. So I figured I’d always be an hourglass. Worse things could happen.

But then something changed. I started losing even more weight and my tops began to feel a little loose. “No worries,” I thought. “This is what you wanted: medium-sized shirts.” And then came Cancun.

I learned that breasts lose weight, too. Who knew? Breasts are mostly fat, so when you’re in hard-core cardio mode, as I’ve been for a while, you’re going to lose that fat.

Let’s be honest: I had really nice boobs. When they were big, they were full. Out of the many things I could gripe about on my body, breasts were not cause for complaint. But who am I without my girls?

No one tells you that this could happen. No one warns you that along with smaller jeans and even smaller bracelets come smaller cup sizes.

Every woman has a horror story about bra shopping. It’s a complete nightmare. No two bra makers are the same and every “expert” says they know what will fit you. Lies, I tell you! All lies!!

If you’ve watched any show aimed at women, at least 80 percent of us are wearing the wrong-sized bra. Eighty freaking percent! How can so many people be so wrong about something so necessary. It’s because unlike your shoe size, your bra size fluctuates with age, body composition and lifestyle. The size bra you wear to cocktail hour may not be the same size you’re wearing to work out.

You can’t trust the 15-year-old with measuring tape at Victoria’s Secret. Don’t even look the way of the older lady working checkout at Macy’s. Go to an actual lingerie store that specializes in undergarments. Victoria’s Secret is the Nine West of bras: cute selection, but the material just wasn’t made for multiple uses.

Another thing to look into, which I’ll be trying soon, is this list of exercises from Shape magazine to perk up your boobs. Nobody wants saggin’ dragons.

What do you do give yourself that extra lift?

I’m Skinny, Now What?

25 Oct

skinny_now_journeyI’ve lost all this weight, now what?

No one ever really tells you how this is supposed to go. You set a plan in motion to get somewhere, but you don’t plan on what to do when you get there.

It’s like going on vacation, but you’ve only planned the flight and hadn’t considered the hotel or transportation.

That’s how I feel most of the time. Over the past five years, I’ve been working out (then vegging out) in order to reach some semblance of an ideal weight. It all began, when during a routine check-up, I found out that I weighed 200 pounds.

I’m 5-foot-2. I come from a long line of curvy women and was raised in the Midwest. We love BBQ, fried anything and lounging with drinks in our hands. While this isn’t exclusive to my home region, it is one of our marked characteristics. However, I never thought I would let myself get that big.

After the shock and tears of my new predicament, I decided to take action. By take action, I mean I read up on what people do when they take action while I ate a brownie sundae. As long as I didn’t have one everyday, I was OK, right?

So I got a book, “Extreme Fat Smash Diet.” Then I started talking to my friends who were working out a lot. They were doing Fat Smash and going to the gym. I hate to sweat, so I needed another plan. Turns out Dr. Ian Smith wanted me to actually burn some calories, too.

Then I started really reading the book. While it seemed like a good idea, “extreme” is far from a misnomer. Your meals can consist of one egg and a half cup of juice for breakfast; a cup of sliced fruit for lunch; a small veggie-only salad for a late lunch; and veggies and beans for dinner. Not too appetizing. Oh, and lets not forget the hour of cardio that you’re doing four to six days a week.

These are not the things a couch potato likes to do. But then I hopped on the scale again and decided it was time to hop on the treadmill.

I joined a Ballys. My gym-rat ex-boyfriend and I went to one once, so I wasn’t unfamiliar territory. Plus this one was closer to my house.

The first step is always the hardest, but I started to get my energy up, despite the damage all the sweat was doing to my hair.

Then I picked the book back up and tried doing the plan. It took a few stop-and-go weeks, but I finally got on track. The book says that if you stick with it, you could lose up to five pounds a week. “Yeah, right,” I thought. I avoided the scale that first week, not wanting to be disappointed if nothing was happening. At the end of week one, I’d lost five pounds!

I started really feeling myself then. It was on and popping at the gym. By that time I had already planned on a trip to Puerto Rico, which required beach attire. I refused to be mistaken for a beached whale, so I got addicted. All told, I had lost 20 pounds in six weeks by the time I got to the beach.

Since then, I’ve been doing the diet off and on. Not long after another breakup, I lost another 25 pounds the healthy way.

Yo-yo dieting over the years has helped me drop a grand total of 60 pounds. However, I’m human; I’ve gained about five to 10 of those back.

For the most part, I’m comfortable with my current weight and the shape of my body. There are a few things that need tightening up, but no body is perfect.

And that is what this blog is about. I’m close enough to my goal weight that I feel I can talk about this with others: keeping it off ain’t easy, and once you’ve gotten comfortable, how do you adjust to the new you?

It was very weird looking at myself in the mirror after having lived in this body for more than 30 years. I was used to a certain jiggle in certain places. I’d gotten comfortable with shirts, pants and even bras fitting me a certain way. There were curves that were once my calling card. Who am I now without the body that I used to live in?

I want to address that and take you on my journey of self discovery as I try to move forward in the world while trying not to lose some of the things I liked about the old me.

I’ll be posting workout updates, recipes and stories about my experience. Let me know what you think. It’s an open forum into my life (Lord, help me!). I think it’s a journey that many of us are going on, but there’s not a lot of conversation about it. Let’s discuss.

Recipe: Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas

23 Oct

Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas

Time: Prep and cook is about 40 minutes

image

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh spinach
  • Vegetable oil spray, if needed
  • 15-ounce can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed if desired and drained
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 6 6-inch corn or flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup fat-free or light sour cream
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces shredded reduced-fat Monterrey jack cheese
  • 2 medium Italian plum tomatoes, diced
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

Preparation

  1. Thoroughly rinse the spinach and remove the stems.
  2. In a large pot, bring several quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Cook the spinach in the boiling water for one minute. With a slotted spoon, remove the spinach. Drain well in a colander. Using the back of a spoon, squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a shallow nonstick baking pan or casserole dish with vegetable oil spray.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the spinach, black beans, salsa, cumin and chili powder. Spoon two heaping tablespoonfuls of the mixture down the middle of one tortilla. Roll the tortilla round the filling, jelly-roll style. Place the tortilla with the seam side down in the prepared baking pan or casserole dish. Repeat the process with the remaining tortillas.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, stir together the sour cream and lime juice. Remove the enchiladas from the oven. Spread the sour cream mixture evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the cheese, tomatoes and green onions.
  7. Bake for five minutes.

Courtesy of Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook (third edition)

Verdict

I make this often, usually using frozen spinach, which works just as well. I also tend to prepare all of the enchiladas, but freeze about half of them for later. It’s an easy recipe and one that’s easy to heat up when you have a few frozen.

The High Price of Low Weight

21 Oct

When you sign up for renter’s or home owner’s insurance, you have to list the value of everything in the home. I’m talking about jewelry, electronics, appliances, gadgets, etc. All of it. It’s a nuisance. The thing I’m guessing most people underestimate is clothing. At least I do.

I’m what you might call a frugal shopper. My closet is full of sale, coupon and thrift items. Shoes, jackets, belts, dresses, pants, all of it was bought with a sale in mind.

Imagine you lose, say, 50 pounds or so. And you do it so quickly that you don’t notice the change in your body until seasons change. The clothes that used to hug your body in the sunlight now make you look like you’re wearing over-sized hand-me-downs.

So I’ve got to go buy clothes. Guess what? Clothes ain’t cheap. I need a full wardrobe. And hear me when I tell you: NOTHING FIT!

The cost of weight loss isn’t that cheap. From buying healthy foods to gym memberships to workout clothes: It costs  money to live. But no one ever tells you about the most expensive part: New clothes. The cost of outfitting your new body is a pain in your new ass. You have to buy  everything, including underwear (Victoria’s Secret has gone up since the days of 5 for $25).

How do you navigate this new shopping world? Nobody wants to look sloppy. Here are a few tips I’ve learned during my between phase with the new body:

1. Belts.  You can go to TJ Maxx or Century 21 and rack up on belts to cinch those pants and dresses to your newly slimmed waist line. Big ones and little ones, it doesn’t matter. Get a colorful variety to leave yourself some options.

2. Leggings. Black ones will go with anything. Most places have one size fits all and those ones are pretty cheap. I don’t suggest investing too much money in these, seeing as how they shred after a few washes. But under one of your now-too-big dresses, this could make a pretty good day-to-night look.

3. Tunics. Let them blouse over those leggings or pants that are too big. No one will notice. Bust out the belt and some pumps and you’re ready for the club.

4. Old Navy. After TJ Maxx, this is my favorite store for simple, cute clothing with a low cost. The quality can be ho-hum sometimes. But you don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get some quick wardrobe staples to outfit your body while you’re in the midst of transition. A couple pair of slacks, a few blouses, a couple skirts and maybe a dress, and you’ve got outfits for a week that may cost you less than $150. Just don’t let the $1 flip flops lure you.

5. Shoes. Few things distract from a drab outfit better than bomb shoes. If you’re lucky, your shoe size has not changed. If you care about your appearance now, you definitely cared before which means your shoe game is kickin’. Spruce up that over-sized dress with some spectacular pumps and heads will turn.

These are all quick fail-safes, but eventually you’re going to have to bust out the credit card. And why shouldn’t you. You’ve done well. So reward yourself with a smaller  pair of jeans or a shorter skirt.

You have to live in this body, dress it up a little.