Archive | June, 2014

Recipe: Black Bean Meatballs

6 Jun

Black Bean MeatballsTime: 30 minutes to prep; 15 minutes to cook

Ingredients (meatballs)

  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium jalapeno chili, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger root
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup flaked unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups cooked kasha, cracked wheat, or couscous
  • 2 cups cucumber yogurt

Ingredients (cucumber yogurt)

  • 1 1/3 cup fat-free yogurt
  • 1 1/3 cup finely chopped and seeded cucumber
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Process beans, jalapeno chili, ginger root, cilantro, coconut and curry powder in food processor until smooth. Season to taste.
  3. Shape mixture into about 20-30 meatballs and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  4. While that’s baking, combine ingredients for cucumber yogurt in small bowl.
  5. When meatballs are cooked, serve over kasha, cracked wheat or couscous. Spoon cucumber yogurt over.


Let’s be real: the meatballs look like little turds. It was a different recipe that I thought I could give a try. Visually, it’s not appetizing. Taste-wise, however, it’s not so bad. It actually tastes better reheated. I didn’t have ginger root or coconut flakes, so I used dried ginger and skipped the coconut. I also misread the instructions and only used two tablespoons of cilantro.

The cucumber yogurt serves a couple of purposes. First, the spice from the jalapeno can be overwhelming, but that’s countered by the cool of the cucumber yogurt. Also, the meatballs look awful, so the yogurt dresses up the dish. Plus, I added the roasted Brussels sprouts for my veggies on the plate. It still came out very well. Anywho, I do recommend it, at least to try something new.

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

Rewriting Your Grocery List

4 Jun
How I get down at the grocery store

How I get down at the grocery store

When I began my weight-loss journey, working out was the easy part. I knew how to walk and run. I’d seen people use gym equipment like treadmills and elliptical machines. I’d ridden a bike before, so a stationary one wasn’t going to be that much trouble.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the dietary change that came with my new outlook on life. Several times in this blog, I’ve mentioned my love of Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich and Popeye’s biscuits. Like every red-blooded American, Chipotle is my friend.

But even that wasn’t my biggest problem. I know how to cook. Growing up, my family didn’t eat out much. My parents prepared meals. Sure, every other Friday we might order pizza for movie night. But we usually had chicken or pot roast or chili or something else ready to eat in the fridge. Hell, my friends have even told me they frequented my house not to visit me, but my refrigerator.

So I took those culinary lessons with me into adulthood. I don’t mind cooking, I just don’t like doing it all the time. But with my new weight-loss plan in full effect, I had to adjust my thinking about meal preparation.

It wasn’t just cooking more often for myself. It was also cooking different food for myself. I can hook up a lasagna, but that’s not ideal when you’re trying to shed pounds. I discussed before the changes that came with eating vegetables. But I’m also a meat eater. My go-to meat dishes were perfect if I were trying to become a linebacker. Pot roast, roasted chicken, fried wings, etc., aren’t the best menu options when you’re trying to become svelte.

What I appreciated about the “Extreme Fat Smash Diet” was that it still allowed me to eat meat. I just had to cut down on my intake. Most important, the lesson I had to learn quickly was how to cook it differently. Cooking a whole bird is great if you’re cooking for a family, which I used to do. It can be hard to break that habit. But the weight-loss journey is traveled alone. And because I was living alone, my meals had to be prepared for one.

I was fortunate enough to find the American Heart Association’s “Low-Fat, Low Cholesterol Cookbook.” High blood pressure and high cholesterol are big in my family, as are heart disease and diabetes, so finding that book became good for more than just weight loss.

With the guidance of those two books, I started looking at my meats differently. I could still eat meatloaf, but I was using lighter fare to prepare it. A little tomato paste, some quick oats and tiny molds and you’ve got individual mini-turkey meatloaves.  A little butter, salt, pepper and lemon juice and you’ve got some pretty tasty sauteed tilapia fillets.

It’s not that eating meat was a necessity. It’s just that I like having the option. Just as finding the great vegetarian recipes that I’ll prepare over and over (pepper and white bean soup, spinach and black bean enchiladas), having meat options keeps my palate from getting bored and my cabinets interesting.

My regular staples of chicken wings, spaghetti, sauce and ice cream have changed to chicken breasts, spinach, chicken boullion and apples. My cupboard is always stocked with canned beans, tomato sauce and paste and a box of rotini, which I don’t even use that often. My freezer has tons of frozen spinach and broccoli, fat-free frozen yogurt and frozen fruit.

One of the fun parts of this journey was exploring new tastes. When doing your shopping, take the time out to try something different.

What do you like to prepare now that you’d never had before?

My Annual Self Evaluation

2 Jun
...And it's not even my birthday (anymore).

…And it’s not even my birthday (anymore).

I’ve been lax in posting and in doing so, I missed the most important day ever: my birthday.

The best day ever was May 16 and I celebrated 30 Part 4 with friends and wine. It was great.

I like to look at my birthday as my own personal New Year’s Day. I’ve said before on this blog that I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. But I do believe in self reflection. Every year, I take a little time out from all of the awesome celebrations to look back on the year that was. What did I do? Did I accomplish any goals? Did I make any big changes? What could have been done better? What do I not ever want to do again?

In the year that was, I moved into a new apartment, I started this blog, I began writing more at work and I took the best vacation ever. I also was admittedly lazy in my workout routine. I didn’t keep in touch with family and friends as much as I should have. And I gained a few pounds.

Taking time out to look at where you are and where you’re going is essential to getting back on track or even finding out if you need a new track to get on. Goals keep you focused. That’s why most company’s do annual reviews of employees. Sure, it’s helpful when you’re lobbying for a raise. But it’s also good to see if what you’re doing is working for you.

I admit that I’ve been lax in posting, so I’m going to do more. It’s almost summertime and this is the best time to be active. The weather bright and warm, there are people to see, there are tons of activities all ripe for my commentary. So, to you skinny readers, I promise to do better.

In doing that, I’m going to take better care of myself. My weight is my own personal demon. I’ve admitted to self sabotage and now I have to commit to self care. I know how easy it is for me to gain weight. And I know the tools I need to keep myself healthy. With all the activities I plan to take on this summer, it will be the perfect testing ground for future posts and workouts. So, I’m right on top of that, Rose!


And of course, I’m going to call my father and my grandmother more. It’s just a given.

When do you self evaluate? And what are your goals for yourself when you do so? Are you staying on track?

photo credit: Steve Wilhelm via photopin cc