Thursday, November 29, 2012

Off the Wagon

          I have a friend who tells me that when she is not doing so well nutritionally or not exercising she is "off the wagon!"  Well, Thanksgiving knocked my off the wagon and into the ditch.  I have been trying to crawl out of the ditch since Monday. My nutrition counselor did tell me to enjoy Thanksgiving and have what I wanted.  WELL - I don't think he meant it for 4 days.  Of course there was the meal on Thanksgiving day and the desserts.  But then came the leftovers for four days.  This is where I failed because I knew that I was going to have pie or those evil sweet potatoes bathed in all that butter and sugar goodness - I should have kept track of everything else and not gone to far over board.  I lost track of what I was eating - this is dangerous.  I would not have gained so many pounds in 4 days if I just listened to my body and didn't overeat everything!  Good thing I did exercise!
          So, I move on.  I am back to tracking what I eat and have lost all the Thanksgiving pounds.  I am back on the wagon with a big giddyup! 


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Smoothies for breakfast!

          After one official week, I am down 10 pounds.  Yeah!  Now to keep it off.  I added beans last night for dinner in the form of soup and almond milk for breakfast.  The almond milk is a wonder!  It doesn't taste too great to just drink, but put in a blender with a frozen banana and an apple (unpeeled) and some ice - it was a great breakfast smoothie.  I made this yesterday for breakfast and I thought I had eaten at a buffet, I was so full!  Today I made the smoothie with a frozen banana and frozen strawberries (unsweetened).  Too many frozen fruits though - I was full and freezing this time! 

          Adding protein has given me a lot more energy!  I am sort of getting back to my normal exercise routine.  I swam this morning and taught Kickbox yesterday.  Looking forward to a trainer ride tomorrow. 

          I am now really wanting some real carbs - oatmeal, a cracker or two, some pita, or just a taste of Jacob's frozen waffle that he had for breakfast.  Although I will be careful with that one b/c I always "taste" the boys' food and I know that adds a lot of extra calories to my intake.  I've heard them called BLTs - Bites, Licks, and Tastes.  Not good!

          So, the addition for today will be fish for dinner.  Not so thrilling, but varying the protein has made things a lot more pleasant.  I'll keep you posted...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Coming Clean Day 7! Chicken - Yea!!

          Day 7!   I made it!  I have lost 8 pounds and 3% body fat!  Success.  I am very excited.  The second day of the weekend was tougher than the first - I ended up adding an extra banana to make it through a hike at Beaver Lake with my kids.  And we watched a movie, so I added a 1 cup of microwave popcorn - Steve reminded me that corn is a vegetable after all! 

          Yesterday I added chicken.  It never tasted so good.  I had some leftovers in the fridge from that crockpot meal and I ate that with cooked zucchini.  For dinner, more chicken, this time roasted by my mom!  I didn't realize that I hadn't eaten anything cooked in a week.  Hot food tasted so good.  I also added some almonds - making snack time a little more enjoyable.

          So, I continue eating all veges, two fruits, and now some protein.  I actually have more energy today and hopefully I won't be so miserable.  The miserable part, Steve brought to my attention last night!  I usually get miserable when I am hungry and hungry is an understatement for this past week. 

          I trudge on and hope that scale keeps going in the right direction and those waistbands keep getting looser.  

          I leave with you with a statement from Thomas Jefferson:

Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weekend Day 1: Gingerbread Houses

          Still eating veges and my two fruits.  Today has been especially difficult.  Joey and I went to the regional farmer's market to fill up on more fruits and vegetables.  Of course along the many aisles of green, there were samples of pie, granola, cheese, nuts.  I did have 3 cocoa roasted almonds - they were super yummy.  I was very proud to say that I did not taste the other samples or even ask for a taste of Joey's homemade, hot from the oil, donut. 

          The evening brought our annual Gingerbread House decorating that we have been doing every year for 7 years with another family.  This was hard.  I made another big salad for me to eat and share.  Our friends brought pizza.  Just a few hours earlier we were discussing what our favorite foods are - mine:  pizza - of course.  I smelled it a whole lot, but didn't have any.  Leftovers are in the fridge - hope I don't sleep walk down to it tonight!   Not that I have ever done that.  Back to the Gingerbread Houses.   Decorating them involves tons of candy, pretzels, cereal, frosting - all the good stuff.  I didn't have a single taste.  WOW - that was hard.  What I wanted most was the starchy stuff - cereal, pretzels, etc.  Phew, that's done and all the candy is gone.  I feel like sometimes it's easier to not eat any of that stuff than to stop when I should and not overindulge.

          So, one successful weekend day.  I am hungry, but I just can't bring myself to have veges for an after dinner snack.  I think I will stick with a cup of tea. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Coming Clean Day 4. Scale day...

          So, I braved the scale this morning.  Of course it was before my shower (so my hair is not wet), before I ate, and naked.  This is how I weigh in always.  I wouldn't want anything to add to that number on the scale!  I am officially down 6 pounds!  I was very worried about weighing in, b/c that is what usually derails me.  If the number is not what I expected, then I am dissappointed.  I am happy with this number.  I know it's not always about the number - of course I say that when I don't like the number on the scale.  It's more about health and how your clothes fit.  My jeans feel a little looser today.  Not sure if that is because of the few pounds that are gone or because I want them to feel roomier - or maybe they have just stretched out. 

          I am hungry though.  I had my apple and banana for breakfast, snow peas for snack and a big salad for lunch.  One good thing about eating veges raw is that they take a long time to chew!  Lunch was very tiring! Now it's time for my afternoon snack - snow peas again.  They are very sweet and again crunchy adding to that chewing thing. 

          So, I'll head to the kitchen for my snack and think about what the weekend will bring.  Oh no...


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Coming Clean Day 3

          So, it's day 3 and believe it or not I am still okay!  One friend said to thank God that he created so many different vegetables - she is right!  I have eaten all kinds of lettuce, red cabbage, butternut squash, snow peas, carrots, green beans, a sweet potato, and tomatoes.  I have found that a little oil and vinegar mixed with salt and pepper makes a good salad dressing - I am not supposed to eat anything packaged. 

          The biggest issue I have had was making gingerbread houses yesterday.  I am proud to say that I did not taste the dough at all!  Not even one little taste.  I am little embarassed to say that because I didn't eat any of the dough I had enough to make an extra house - they are small, but still.

          The other issue has been eating with my family.  For dinner last night, while I was having one more salad, they were eating the chicken that smelled so good in the crockpot all day.  And of course we still have some good Halloween chocolate left.
          I haven't weighed myself yet.  I am afraid to actually.  I'm afraid to see that after all these vegetables I will not have lost anything.  Stay tuned, because eventually I will have to get on the scale. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coming Clean...

              I haven’t written a blog post in a very long time.  Partly because of time, partly because I forget, partly because I don’t feel like I have a great deal to share on the subject of eating fit.   In the past year I have gained ten pounds.  Probably more if you count the pounds I have lost and then gained and then lost again.  It seems to go on so easy and takes a lot to get back off.  This seems to get worse as I get older.  Summer and the holidays seem to do it for me – it creeps up and I can’t get it off.  So, this fall I decided to see a nutritionist.  This comes after trying in the past a lot of other weight loss programs.  From the Oprah Winfrey low fat diet, to Slim Fast, to LA Weight Loss, to Shakeology.  After a lot of procrastination I made an appointment.  Yesterday was my second appointment!  That shows you how long it took me to call!  At the first appointment he made some suggestions and figured out how many calories I need to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week.  I hate those numbers because it takes so long to lose anything, but I know that losing slowly is the successful way to do it.  I knew he wouldn’t give me some magical answer, but deep down that’s what a really wanted.  Oh well.  Following the calorie allowance allowed me to lose about 3 pounds.  Then came Halloween!  That darn candy.  So, I begin again.

                At my appointment yesterday he asked me to do a detox for seven days.  Seven whole days!  OMG!  This detox includes eating two servings of fruit a day and vegetables the rest of the day.  Which he called "eating clean." It’s a real good thing I like vegetables.  When I protested he asked what I will miss the most.  I told him cereal and oatmeal in the morning for breakfast and believe it or not the chicken we eat for dinner.  Also, watching my family eat protein for dinner will be difficult.  Not being able to exercise as much or with the same intensity will be difficult too.  

                So today is day one.  So far I have had a pear, ½ banana, and a lot of veges with a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I know those two things are going to be my best friend this week!).  He told me that I could experience headaches and fatigue, but so far so good. 

                Tomorrow might be different.  We’ll see…

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fish: Yuck or Yum??

         Fish!!  One simple word conjures up many different emotions in children and adults alike!  Most people tell me that their kids don’t like fish or that they don’t even like fish.  At my house fish is a good thing.  When I tell Jacob fish is for dinner, he literally jumps for joy!  I am sure that you think I am lying!  But I’m not.  I make fish a couple of different ways – all are easy and not that expensive.

            The first way that is probably the most enjoyed by both my kids is oven fried.  My kids have never had a fish stick – actually neither have I!  Fish oven fried is the closest you can get to a fish stick – so if that’s what your family likes, this is it!  Ready – really easy.  Buy cheap white fish (I usually buy it frozen), defrost, leave wet and dip in seasoned panko bread crumbs (seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, parmesan cheese or whatever other flavors you like), spray both sides with cooking spray, place on baking stone or greased cookie sheet and bake at 400° for about 25 minutes until brown and crispy.  I even let the kids pick up the pieces with their fingers!  The only issue I get with this recipe is there is usually not enough.  The packages I buy are about 1 pound and the kids most likely ask for more – I’ll have to start buying and making more at a time. 

            Grilled is my favorite.  Again, easy! I buy frozen salmon, ahi tuna, or bass.  Season with salt and pepper and grill about 4 minutes each side!

            I was watching Giada on the Food Network recently and she made grilled fish kabobs.  This might be a good way to entice someone to eat fish.  She cut up three different kinds of fish, marinated the pieces in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley, and then grilled them on skewers.  I have yet to try this one, but it looked amazing.  You can find the actual recipe at, but I think you can do it without the formal recipe.  Just put the ingredients in to your liking.  She also served it with and herbed butter – I would leave that out.

            So, try some of these recipes and turn that YUCK into YUM!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy 91st Birthday to my Dad!

             Happy 91st Birthday to my Dad today!  Yes, 91!! How does someone get to be 91?  Patience.  And people.  And good food!  My dad is the most patient person – I wish that I had about 10th of the patience that he has.  He always says, “what’s your hurry” or “no need to rush.”  And he lives this.  In the past few years he has slowed down, but that’s a relative term because he still takes care of his own rose garden of over 100 rose bushes and volunteers at the E. M. Mills Rose Garden at Thornden park.  And he cuts his own grass (he’s actually doing that right now as I am writing this!).  He loves being around people and says that it’s important to always surround yourself with people – they keep your mind sharp.  He keeps active and is out somewhere everyday all year round. 

                And good food!  Being Italian he was raised with and continues to eat a healthy, fresh diet.  Fresh, healthy food has been a way of life.  We have always eaten fresh fruits and vegetables, buying fresh produce from the local market.  Or picking the produce of his garden.  Every year there is an abundance of tomatoes, lettuce, basil, and Italian parsley growing in the back yard.  Growing up my mom and dad hardly ever made anything from a package.  Everything was and still is homemade.  We eat a lot of olive oil and a lot of garlic. 

                So for my dad’s birthday cake, a healthy chocolate cake!  Yes, healthy.  I have had this recipe for a while and use it every now and then when I want a chocolate cake, but don’t want to have a lot of leftovers.  It’s easy too!

Jiffy Devil’s Food Cake

1 ½ cup flour

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup cold water

1.        Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2.       Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into an 8X8 ungreased glass baking dish.  Make 3 holes in the dry ingredients.  Pour oil in one, vinegar in another, and vanilla in another.  Pour water over all, and mix with a fork or whisk to moisten.

3.       Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Yields 9 servings at 146 calories each.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Market Dinner

          A couple of weeks ago we were faced with an unscheduled Saturday morning – I know – shocking!  I decided to take the boys to the Syracuse Regional Market  I love going to the market.  I always went with my dad when I was little.  I remember holding on to his pocket as his arms filled up with fresh produce.  I also remember getting a greasy lunch bag filled with sugar waffles!  My dad always had a route and I still follow this, as does he!  You have to go up and down each aisle in each shed and outside before buying anything.  This way you ensure you get the best produce at the best price. 

            So we did this and made a mental list of the produce we were going to buy.  But first:  a snack.  There were a lot of homemade food choices from crepes to donuts to full lunch.  Jacob chose a donut – of course.  These are the fresh out of oil donuts that you get to see being put into the sugar coating.  You can’t take a bite too soon or you’ll burn your mouth!  Joey and I chose crepes.  We watched as the man spread the batter on a special iron at least a foot across.  You can order the crepes filled with jam or other fillings that would qualify as lunch.  We chose cinnamon and sugar – he said that’s the European way.  They were absolutely delicious, light and airy and definitely filling. 

            Shopping at the market also comes with sampling now!  We sampled all kinds of fresh cheese including goat cheese which was our favorite.  Even my five year old was willing to sample the goat cheese, so we decided on the goat cheese with nut pesto!  Fresh and tasty, this was our afternoon snack.  We also tasted homemade lentil pie.  They lady was so impressed that Jacob liked it she gave him a second sample.  We ended up buying a soup mix from her that caught our eye.  It’s Thai Red Bean Soup – I haven’t made it yet, but she included everything I need – I just have to add water and boil it.  We sampled muesli made right here in New York from a company called Mu Mu Muesli  What’s muesli you ask.   It’s a blend of “whole grains, fruit, and nuts which Europeans have been enjoying for centuries.”  This one has cranberries, dates, coconut, raisins, roasted almonds, flax seeds, and whole rolled oats.  It is delicious mixed in with yogurt, cold with milk like American cereal or cooked like hot oatmeal.  We will have to get more on our return trip to the market. 

            On to dinner.  There were various choices of organic, local meat.  We chose a pound of hamburger to make into patties for grilling from  They had a lot of different choices of cuts at varying prices.  The hamburgers we made were juicy and wonderful.  It was great to eat meat, knowing just where it came from.  We also bought fresh homemade rolls to eat the burgers on.

            Vegetables.  Of course this is a staple at the market.  We chose brussel sprouts because Jacob asked for “those little green balls.”  Yes, he loves brussel sprouts!  I have to say that they are not my favorite vege, but I can’t say no to a five year old asking for them.  I like them roasted with olive oil better than steamed.  He likes them cooked any way!

            So, with our trip to the market successful, we can’t wait to make this an every week event when we can go during the week.  There are many markets that will be starting to pop up during the week days – take a look at where your local ones are.  The one in Bayberry started this week and will be going on every Wednesday.  Also, there are a lot of local farms that sell their own fresh produce.  Can‘t wait for a field trip!  I’ll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Candy - Ugh!!

                 Easter candy has invaded our house.   While I know that we can’t eat healthy and fit all the time, the candy addiction bothers me.  I just can’t seem to stop eating it.  Remember the tag line for certain potato chips:  “you can’t eat just one.”  When it comes to candy, this is my motto.  I seem to be okay with my one planned piece of Dove dark chocolate once a day.  But when it comes to milk chocolate, especially the ones filled with peanut butter, I turn into a melted chocolate mess.  I can’t resist eating them until they are gone!  I gave my husband the rest of the box of smidgens to take to work with him so I don’t have to be faced with them all day.  What’s a smidgen you ask.  It is a nugget of delicious milk chocolate in the shape of bunny.  Some are filled the peanut butter.  It can be eaten in two bites and lends itself well to eating multiple bunnies over and over. 

                To make this all worse, it’s Spring break so the kids are home all week.  Before going grocery shopping, the kids asked for some special treats in the way of junky cereal.  They settled on Cap n Crunch and Fruity Cheerios.  In the grand aisle of cereal these are not that bad.  However, once again I cannot resist the handfuls of cereal that I have when serving the kids their breakfast.  I did break down and just have a bowl for breakfast this morning! 

                So, I will work through this week with less exercise and more candy, and probably come out a little heavier.  But I will return to healthy eating as soon as possible.  Or I will just have to hide the candy…

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Incredible, Edible Egg!

              The Egg season is upon us.  Soon we will color and decorate eggs for Easter.  What do we do with all those beautifully decorated eggs?  When I was little I colored eggs at Easter and my mom would put them on the dining room table in a plastic egg tree.  She would leave them there until they were all eaten – sometimes up to a week.  We would have them in egg salad or eat them just like that – room temperature, probably not at their freshest.  We all know this isn’t the best safe food handling practice, but I am still here to talk about it! 

                Can we just eat them?  In recent years the egg has taken on a negative connotation.  They are full of fat, they are full of cholesterol.  They have too many calories.  People say it’s the yolks that are bad; they eat egg white omelets instead.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  In recent years we have seen the marketing campaign for eggs:  “the incredible, edible egg.”  This is a true statement.  Eggs truly are incredible. 

In the April 2012 issue of Runner’s World magazine, I came across an article about eggs subtitled, “Why eggs are one of the best foods for runners.”  You say you are not a runner? – that’s okay.  According to the article eggs can help us “slim down, protect our hearts, fight inflammation, maintain bone strength, and keep our vision sharp.”  People who ate eggs for breakfast lost more weight.  Research has shown that a protein found in egg yolks blocks platelets from clumping together – lessening heart attack risk.  Yolks are a great source of choline, which helps keep your brain healthy and helps reduce inflammation.  Eggs are a top source of Vitamin D, helping to build bone and the yolks also have an absorbable form of lutein which helps prevent macular degeneration of our eyes. 

Not bad for one small item in your fridge!  This article debunks any thoughts you may have had about eggs.  Put all those thoughts to bed and get up to a full egg omelet for breakfast or egg salad for lunch.  Or how about an egg skillet dinner.  Here’s a recipe right from the magazine I served one night for dinner.  It’s truly a one pan meal.  I doubled it to serve four.  Here’s what Runner’s World magazine says:  Heat a mix of 4 eggs, 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (I used dried), ¾ cups greens (I used fresh, flat leaf spinach) until eggs are almost set.  Add tomato slices to top.  Cover; remove from heat; let stand 2 minutes.  Instant dinner!

So, in the next week, when you are hunting for, coloring, decorating, and displaying eggs, make eating them a part of it too!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Irish Soda Bread from your Italian blogger!

              For all of you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this upcoming weekend, here’s a recipe for Irish Soda Bread.  I know it’s not the healthiest of breads, but anything made at home is better than store bought or processed.   According to the March 7th issue of the Post Standard the first Irish soda bread was made in the 1800s when baking soda was introduced in Ireland.

                I know some of you are probably surprised that this full blood Italian makes Irish Soda bread!  Here’s my story.  About 15 years ago when I was planning my wedding I came across a recipe for Irish Soda Bread in a bridal magazine.  Because my husband is Irish, I thought I had better broaden my horizons with baking and include something Irish and start a tradition for St. Patrick’s Day.  So here’s the funny part!  As I am taking that first loaf of Irish Soda Bread out of the oven (at my parents – I was still living at home), my full blood Irish neighbor rings the doorbell and comes in with a freshly baked load of Irish Soda Bread.  She was shocked that her Italian neighbor had just baked an Irish treat and was caught off guard!  It was quite funny!  I have been making it every year since!  Last year, my 10 year old son made it mostly by himself.  It’s easy and tasty.  So, to all my Irish friends and family:  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Enjoy…

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup butter

1 cup golden raisins

1 ¾ cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375°.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in margarine until crumbly.  Stir in raisins.  Add buttermilk and stir until mixture is combined and forms a soft dough.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Gather dough into a ball and gently knead (6 to 8 turns) with the heal of your hand until dough holds together.  Shape into a 7 inch rounded disk and place on an ungreased baking sheet (I used my Pampered Chef deep dish baker).  Cut a 1 inch deep X across the top of the bread.  Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Let cool on a rack.  Makes 1 loaf.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Whole wheat pizza - really??

           My friend treated some of us to a pizza lunch a while ago.  It was take out, but not just any take out.  It was a healthier version of pizza!  And it was great.  So, when my family asked for homemade pizza over the weekend I tried to recreate the take out version I had.  Usually, when I make homemade pizza I start with a “white” readymade crust, top it with sauce and lots of cheese.  Healthier than take out, but not quite.

            For this re-creation I started with a whole wheat readymade crust I found at my local store.  Now, I have changed over a lot of our grains to whole wheat, but never thought of whole wheat pizza!  So, when I saw the whole wheat crust in the store, I knew it was meant to be.  I rubbed a little bit of extra virgin olive oil into the edges of the crust (I always do this to help the edges brown and add another dimension of flavor).  I use my hands because olive oil is a great moisturizer too.  Then I topped the crust with a half can of pizza sauce.  Now, here is the special stuff.  I shouldn’t be taking all the credit for this, because Joey helped a great deal.  We then sprinkled diced grilled chicken.  I already grilled about two skinless, boneless chicken breasts with salt and pepper – I always make extra when I grill chicken – this is a good way to use up those leftovers.  Then we put diced steamed broccoli over the chicken – another way to use up leftovers.  After that we spread sautéed spinach over that.  The next step was to add a sprinkle of finely grated pecorino romano (you can use any cheese that you would put on pasta) and then we added 8 ounces of grated part-skim mozzarella.  I usually use 12 ounces on my typical homemade pizza, so I was able to cut some of the extra fat and calories there.  We cooked the pizza at 400° for about 20 minutes checking it at 15 minutes.  This made for a great dinner and I will tell you that I was satisfied eating just one slice.  It was tasty and filling and the kids ate it without complaint!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Un-recipe recipe

              Sometimes the best recipes aren’t recipes at all.  We eat chicken a lot at our house and every time we do, Jacob says he doesn’t like it.  I always remind him that he does indeed like chicken.   Every Tuesday is chicken night and I do try to cook it a little different every week.  Grilling is my favorite, but not always different enough!
 So, this week I tried something new.  I pounded boneless, skinless chicken breasts, piled the flattened chicken with fresh flat leaf spinach, and then added finely diced (not peeled) apple.  To each chicken breast I added a small (less than an ounce) slice of part skim mozzarella.  I then rolled up the chicken, securing with 3 toothpicks.  Remember to know how many toothpicks you put in, so you know how many to take out!  I sprinkled McCormack’s smokehouse maple seasoning (you could use any spice blend that you like or just salt and pepper) on the chicken and then sautéed them in about a tablespoon of olive oil until brown.  Then I deglazed (fancy word for pour in some kind of liquid!) the pan with leftover sparkling cider.  I let the chicken simmer covered until it reached 165 degrees (make sure to put the thermometer into the chicken and not the middle stuffed part.  I took the chicken out of the pan and then turned up the heat on the pan to reduce the cider into a pan sauce.  To serve, I cut the rolls into slices to put on the plate like a restaurant would and then drizzled a little of the sauce on each serving.  Take a look at my pic - It was delicious.  Jacob’s reaction was:  “this doesn’t look like chicken!”  Then he proceeded to gobble it up!
I say this isn’t really a recipe, because I thought about what would make a good dinner and what would be different and I put it together.  Think about what you have in your pantry and what would go good together.  I didn’t plan to use the Smokehouse maple seasoning until I looked at my seasoning cupboard.  I forgot I had the leftover cider, but I am glad I did.
Try this un-recipe or make up your own.  Happy eating!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sloppy Joes For Lunch at School

               You must know that this subject would eventually come up!  It is an inevitable subject when it comes to feeding our families’ fitness.  I could go into a long tirade about the nutrition value of school lunches and all the stuff that’s wrong with them.  In the essence of saving time and sanity, I will only share a little of what I have observed in the past few weeks. 
                Recently there was an article in our local paper about a first grader who left school at lunch time.   He realized that he forgot his lunch and he didn’t want the sloppy joes that they were serving.  He opted to walk home from school to get his turkey sandwich.  I was reading this article to my sons as we were eating breakfast.  My older son, Joe’s reaction:  “They shouldn’t have been serving sloppy joes!  They should have been serving something healthier.” 
Another bit of school lunch wisdom came, once again, from Joe who told me that after eating pasta for lunch at school he didn’t feel full.  This started the conversation about what a balanced, hearty, fulfilling lunch should be.  I reminded him that buying lunch is a treat.  I have the kids pick and choose which days they would like to buy.  Some days, the lunch is nutritionally decent.  Some days, not so much.  Yes, it is easier to send them off to school to buy lunch instead of making it in the morning, but at the end of the day, the time saved is not always worth it. 
Without doing research, I think school lunches are coming around to the lighter, brighter, healthier side.  Notice all the –er…  Not completely light, bright, and healthy, but heading that way.  This is why we need to help our children choose appropriately which lunches they will buy and which days they will bring.  Which can be difficult with a Kindergartener.   Jacob has been right along with me in the choosing which days to buy and which days to bring.  However, his account was getting depleted quicker than it should have been.  He thought he could also get a snack (i.e. chips) with his lunch.  He thought they were free!  Nonetheless, I explained to him that I am paying for those snacks and even if they were free, he was not to get a snack every day.  Again, something reserved for a treat.  Ah, the joys of innocence.  So, while I am not sure what the solution to the daily school lunch dilemma is.  I am sure that in our house school lunches get chosen once in a while and not every day.
Oh, and by the way, my kids bought lunch today – it’s French toast stick day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Picture Menus?

                My parents took us out to dinner on Friday night.  Choosing healthier options in restaurants is always a challenge for everyone in the family.  Notice I said healthier and not healthy!  Jacob, my five year old, is usually hungry and whining and asking what’s on the menu.  So I took his menu so I could tell him what his choices were.  Because he is still in the pre-reading stage, I can censor what the menu has to offer.  Not that night!!!  It was a picture menu!  I couldn’t leave out the items I didn’t want him to order.  Going through the whole menu, which was extensive and offered some decent choices, Jacob decided on the Crispy Chicken Crispers.  Apparently, this is the signature dish at this restaurant for both adults and children and is trademarked.  Of course, he ordered French fries with his meal.  We were way beyond ordering broccoli or cinnamon apples! 
                The crispers came and he loved them.  No surprise here!   I had to have a little taste and I have to admit they were good.  Mainly chicken white meat pieces, battered and fried – they tasted like good fried chicken! 
                So, the lesson learned here is that I cannot control everything – though I try!  And Jacob is okay after eating fried chicken for dinner at a restaurant once.  What’s the saying about the best laid plans…

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hoppin' John in My Crockpot and Spinach in My Blender?

              Right before the New Year I read an article about adding beans (the dried kind) to our diet to help with weight loss and maintenance.  Then along came an article in the Post Standard, Syracuse, NY’s daily newspaper, about Hoppin’ John.  It’s a recipe used primarily in the New Orleans area for New Year’s Day celebrations.  The recipe incorporates black eyed peas (which really aren’t peas!) and kale.  Sounds like a good combo – right – that’s what you’re thinking!  Well, I am willing to try most recipes and when you put crockpot in front of it, I am really game to try it. 
                So I put everything together in the crockpot – I used the bunch of kale that it suggested and I used low fat turkey smoked sausage instead of the high fat, regular stuff.  I really do like Kale!  I was introduced to it by a friend who told me to make Kale chips with it.  Yes – chips!  Mix bite size pieces of kale with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.  Roast on a baking stone at 400 degrees until crispy.  They really do come out crispy and quite tasty.  The first time I made them, the kids were expecting potato chips for dinner!  After their initial disappointment, they really enjoyed them and have asked for them again. 
                Okay, so back to the Hoppin’ John.  The recipe went together easily and tasted great.  When the boys get off the bus in the afternoon, their first question is, “What’s for dinner.”  The night we had this recipe I explained to Jacob that it had black eyed peas in it.  Who wouldn’t want to try something named after a great band – or is it the other way around?  Anyways, Jacob (my five year old) told me that he didn’t like black eyed peas.  He had never had them – neither had I.  The recipe came out stew like and was very flavorful.  The black eyed peas were soft and the kale was sweet.  Jacob was the only one who didn’t eat much of it, saying he didn’t like it.  Joey (my ten year old) really liked it and said that the recipe was a keeper!  The recipe is attached!  Try it for yourself.  Maybe play some music from the group to get the kids excited about eating it!
                Now, another green story – from the same friend came the suggestion to add spinach to smoothies and shakes.  Right!  I was very skeptical about this and the fact that she said you wouldn’t even taste it in there.  Well, she was right.  I added two handfuls of spinach to my protein shake and it was great.  I didn’t taste the spinach and was very full after drinking it.  It made almost double what I usually get from one recipe!  Try it today and let me know what you think. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Aunt Marge was Tiny!

                This entry is a little late because I spent last week in California attending to the affairs of my aunt who just passed away.  Her life has brought to my attention a lot about fit food for family.  While going through her “stuff” I came across her wedding suit.  She was married to my uncle for 53 years when he passed away almost two years ago.  The suit was tiny!  Tiny Tiny Tiny!  She came to the United States from Sweden, met my uncle and they married – the rest is history! 
                Looking at pictures of her made me think about how her life was the picture of health.  She maintained her “tininess” throughout her life. There are lots of pictures of her in bikinis and short shorts!   When she died, she was a size 10!  Even though she had gained some weight, which she was not thrilled about, she still maintained a healthy weight.  She walked a lot and kept active.
                When I talked to her niece in Sweden we talked about her wedding suit and how tiny it was and her comment was that Aunt Marge had always “thought about what she ate.”  How different from our American saying that we “watch what we eat.”  Of course we watch what we eat; our mouth is right under our eyes!  Thinking about what we eat makes a lot more sense.  Consciously deciding what to eat is a great way to maintain a healthy eating plan.  Notice I didn’t call it a diet!  When I eat something, I try to think about why I am eating something.   Is it worth the calories? Is it good for me? Will in increase my health?  Do I need more?
                When I cleaned out Aunt Marge’s cupboards and freezer I found lots of treats.  She loved sweets, but in moderation.  I found a box of cannoli in her freezer.  The box was supposed to hold three – one was gone.  She could have eaten all of them, but consciously made the decision to enjoy one at a time.  They were small – I am sure I could have eaten all of them in one sitting! 
                Her life is a reminder to all of us what we can be.  With moderation, we can enjoy treats along with the healthy foods and we can all maintain our own tininess!
Rest in Peace Aunt Marge.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Baking Withdrawal?

Yes, baking withdrawal!  That is what I was going through last week.  The Christmas eating season was finally over and I was going through withdrawal.  I had been baking, decorating, or planning Christmas eating events for over a month – since Thanksgiving.  Never mind the Christmas eating for that long too!  The last of the Christmas cookies were gone – carefully polished off during our de-decorating time on Jan. 2nd.  Then the regular schedules were back in place.  What to do!        
 Sitting on my counter were some brown bananas.  My family won’t eat any banana that has a brown speck on it.  I will, but it was just too many!  There were six.  I could bake banana bread or banana cookies or banana muffins or banana something…  So I decided that I should find a healthy banana bread recipe.  I have whole wheat flour and flaxseed meal – so let’s incorporate those.  I looked up these ingredients and found an interesting recipe.  It had whole wheat flour, flaxseed meal, egg whites, no oil and not a lot of sugar.  It also called for 5 mashed bananas – I had 6 very brown ones! Was it worth a try?
If the ingredients sound good, I am willing to try any recipe.  So here is what I tried:  Whole Grain Healthy Banana Bread from
Having 5 bananas in this recipe instead of the standard 2 made it moist – usually it’s oil and eggs that make quick bread moist.  I used regular sugar – it does suggest a sugar substitute (that’s another blog topic I am sure I will get to some time).  And I used plain Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream – a new substitution I have become very fond of!  For the 2 teaspoons of egg whites, I used a whole egg white – I couldn’t be bothered measuring out 2 teaspoons of egg white – you know how gooey it can be!
So, anyway it came out great.  I was a little skeptical, when I took it out of the pan and it was super heavy – I guess it’s all those whole grains in there!  My family loved it and it is definitely a keeper recipe.  It stored well and was a great snack in between ski runs on Saturday – two days after I made it. 
So, happy baking, even if it’s not fancy Christmas cookies…

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Welcome to the Land of Fit Food For Family

This blog is something I have been thinking about doing for some time now.  My disclaimer is that I am not a nutritionist, but a family home economist.  I am in charge of the day to day activities of my family including what we eat.  This blog will be about the triumphs, the strategies, the miscalculations, the mishaps, and the downfalls of trying to feed my family a fit diet. 
Now, I know you are asking:  “what is a fit diet?”  I don’t really have an answer for that!  Now you are asking, “then what is she doing writing this blog?”  Well, I try to have the answers and in sharing the day to day choices and decisions I make in trying to feed my family a fit diet, it is my hope to help some of you out there know that this is a constant struggle for a lot of people.  Some days it’s easy, some days not so much! 
To me, a fit diet is one that sustains health, wellness, energy, and has long term benefits.  I will share my grocery shopping experiences, my kids’ and husband’s reactions (like when he looked at me over one recipe and stuck his tongue out when the kids weren’t looking!), and some recipes along the way.
I look to my followers for input, what you would like to see and read, and what you don’t want to see and read!
Journey with me in the land of Fit Food For Family!