Monday, October 25, 2010


Trying to implement an official exercise program this week that involves strength, cardio and flexibility. In the past it has been a very laid back kind of thing, and it can often get dropped in the quest to accomplish every other "must do" thing. If I treat it like a school course in importance, it will get done. Treating it as such will also make it easier to overcome my own discomforts , compounded with my son's distractions. It is one thing to motivate yourself, but a whole other level of something when you arr trying to do the same with others as well !

Once upon a time , before I was a mom and trying to become one, I lived in an old Victorian home that had all of the rooms connecting in a circle. Exercise was simple- decide to do it, turn on some music and walk for 45 minutes in the comfort of my home, any time of the day or night. Now it is a juggle to get the boy motivated, wait till the traffic from the people coming and going to work and school thins, not disturbing the neighbors,finding time to get to the forest and so many other distractions. I have really been struggling with this ! I have finally decided to forget attempting perfection and just do it. Walking the halls in the morning, Wii Fit balance mid morning, weight work after lunch and Wii Cycling in the afternoon. Not perfect, but right now something that can definitely done each day .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Quick Post

It was a maintain week for all three.  Maintains can be really frustrating , but they are indeed part of the journey. The body is , after all, made for survival and when it gets the impression that something is happening o limit the intake of that which is necessary for survival, it puts on the breaks. Usually lasts for a short time , and then it understands that it is not under a death threat, and continues on it's merry way.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bread and soup

Breadmaking- what a homey art ! Few things can say home as loudly as the smell of fresh baking bread. Something about it says comfort, security, nourishment and so much more. Breadbaking used to be one of the primary skills of the home maker, and then things changed. The country went off to war, women left the home in the pursuit of keeping up the munitions for the troops and cooking changed. Bread became white, enriched to build strong bodies 12 ways, packaged and sliced. The convenience factor won out, and breadbaking went the way of sock darning. Later  the art was revived, and it lead to the invention of the bread machine, so that every kitchen could enjoy fresh bread without all the work.  And then there are a few of us rebels who still kept making bread the old fashioned way, by hand, until we determined to do this thing called weight loss. For numerous reasons, true breadbaking and calorie counting do not mix. It's not for he reasons you might think !

There are numerous low calorie, points calculated health bread recipes out there ! Each and every one substitute less healthy ingredients for whole grain, nutritionally superior goodies like wheat bran, molasses and more. Each says that a loaf of bread serves 16 slices, and calories are calculated accordingly. Each gives a precise list of ingredients, and this is where they prove they have been created by a person who has never made an edible loaf of bread in their life, and does not understand the first thing about real bread making !

Bread is a science , as well as an art. The science part comes in when you break bread into what it actually is, and that is a restaurant for a tiny living animal named yeast. Yeast requires carbohydrates to feed and excrete gas , and gluten to form a neat little bubble to trap the gas and make the product rise. Yeast is a happy little diva who refuses to live in an environment that is too warm or too cold. Gluten needs just the right conditions to swell in order to make a light product that we find appealing. This environment is affected by the atmosphere that surrounds it. If you make bread on a dry day, you will be using less flour. If you use the same recipe on a humid one, you will use more. Proper , edible, rising bread is made by feel and not math. You begin with the basic ingredients and add enough flour to produce a  soft, non sticky ball of dough that feels almost identical to a babies behind or your grandma's arm. Scales and measuring cups cannot discern this.

For a long time I have skipped baking bread  in favor of the pre packaged, presliced, calorie calculated commercial stuff. It is killing me ! I decided to pull out some of the Weight Watchers recipes I have for home made bread this week  and give hem a try. Yesterday's supper was planned to be cabbage , potato and ham soup with butternut oatmeal bread- very fall, very healthy and yummy sounding !. I was hoping with the soup to come up with something that would feed 4 instead of 4,000, and a specific recipe would help. No go- I think soup has magical properties to feed 5,000 with just a stone and a teardrop ! I worked on the bread, following the recipe exactly, and discovering that the humidity in the air was requiring more flour. A lot more flour ! 2 and a half cups more flour to be exact !. This changes the calorie count of the final servings substantially. It is also impossible to cut a sandwich bread type of a loaf into anything more than 16 slices without needing a laser or a skilled surgeon at the ready. I was kind of crushed ! How would I be able to make home made bread and stay withing the Weight Watchers program guidelines ??

Dinner time came , and the vultures ( also known as husband and son) saw the bread, and I realized not only is it impossible to slice a loaf into any more than 16 servings but there is no controlling these men with fresh baked bread. The soup they were being polite about, but fresh baked bread for dinner ? I could have easily asked for the Hope Diamond and have it paid for by a willing sacrifice of their limbs and they would agree. It was very, very good, and it made me think of a new policy for this house -

Fresh made high fiber bread will be accompanied by very low point soup and a whole 
loaf shall be planned for the meal.

I think that is going to be the answer. As to soup...not sure how to work that one yet !

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pizza problem

Question for any and all.

Say you are counting calories/points/carbs or whatever and you decide to order a pizza from a carryout place. ( yes it is better to make your own or even buy a frozen  one, but for the sake of this discussion, let's stick to order out pizzas). You go to look up the nutritional information for something comparable , if you are ordering from a small local place because thy do not list their nutritional information.All data is based on a pizza of  specific size diameter with specific toppings and cut into wedges. No information on how many wedges are used to divide the pizza, so no definitive numbers that you can factor in to find the number of servings in the whole pie. With me so far ?

Now you order out your pizza and assume that a medium serves 3-4 people. Which, if your pizza in cut in wedges, this would usually mean the pizza is divided into 8 wedges, and a serving would be 2 slices and the calorie count/nutrition info listed would be for 2 slices.  Okay, that's easy enough.  So what happens when you get said pizza home and it is cut into squares ? How many squares per serving ? What is the nutritional info for the whole pie ? Who would bother to drag out a calculator when said pizza arrives and you are starving ??

I think the safe answer , if you are a weight watcher and consume 1/3rd of the pie would be to consider that you have consumed 22 points( not too bad if you have not dipped into your bonus points for the week).I think the other answer is to demand that all take out pizzas be served in wedges ,instead of squares !

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The devil in the details

Saturday morning , and another weigh in

Me- DOWN 1.4
Nick- UP 5.4
Bob- dead even

Yes, in spite the incident with doughnuts and caramel apples last weekend I lost. Why ? Because following the Weight Watchers points system works. There is no forbidden food . You can eat anything, but just not in the same quantity you used to. Even Carmel apples, Snickers Bars and Birthday cake fir into the plan.

Fitting into the plan is the reason Nick gained . We are following the program without joining , which is as we did it before. It's not that I have anything against the meetings, but with our situation of one car, unpredictable commitments with ministry and odd work times, there is no way we could commit to a definite meeting time. Online allows you to report in and log in your food and activity, but if you know how to calculate points and can discipline yourself to record them on your own, there is little reason to formally join. Unless you like the perks that come with weight loss rewards( magnets, pins, etc.) Plus the system they are using now is called Momentum, which is different from 123 points, and if I Joined I would have to follow that system. So we work alone with 123, but I think I may have miscalculated Nick's points. According the the old formula, so many points are allowed for current weight, age, sex , activity and so forth. Following the formula , Nick comes in with needing 49 points per day ! Somewhere I thought I remembered reading that all points were capped at 44 points no matter what age, weight and so on  ( and no lower than 22 per day no matter what).  I factored in 45 points for Nick, and I am wondering if this is perhaps too much. I am going to drop him to 40 this week and see if this helps. He is sticking faithfully to the program, so it is no fault of his. At least he does not get scale anxiety when he weighs in - to him it's just what we do on Saturday morning.

As for me, I am really happy with how it is working for me . It's funny but no matter what I try, I keep coming back to Weight Watchers in some form, because it works !

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sweet potato squash

Another day of lather, rinse, repeat ! Stay within points, get in activity points, go about the buisness of homeschool, housework, reiki work and more. One interesting or new thing happened- I got to try a new squash! While at the pumpkin farm over the weekend, I spotted this :

It was labeled as a sweet potato squash, and I bought  two. How can you go wrong with something labeled as a sweet potato squash ? I do not think I have ever met a squash I did not like, and this variety is not one I have seen in our regular market, so I decided to be adventurous and try it out.  Turns out this is also called delicatta squash, and it is another vegetable rock star ! Cooks like any other winter squash and really needs no seasoning at all. The taste is something between a butternut squash and a sweet potato, and would be great used in soups, stews, breads and more. Makes a darned good side veggie as well !

Here is the other info :
Nutritional information
1/2 a squash is 75 calories, 1 gram of fat and 3 grams of fiber.
18 grams carbs

To cook, cut lengthwise, remove the seeds , place cut side down
on a cookie sheet and bake 35-45 min at 375. or peirce and microwave  whole 10 minutes

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall, glorious fall !

Hooray for long fall weekends , beautiful weather and time to actually enjoy them ! Does not happen often for us, but when it does , it is a very good thing .

We were able to visit some of the local forest preserves to enjoy the colors, the trails and the smells. There is something about the smell of decomposing leaves that I really love. Sounds strange perhaps, but that acrid subtle twang sort of says "take all of this in because in a short time it will be gone". It adds to the visual reminders all around that the season on growth is coming to and end.  All that is bright and bountiful is about to give way to something else. And what better time of year to go pay your respects to those who have gone before you ?

One of our destinations was the cemeteries where many members of our families are buried. This is not one of their graves, but one of the more interesting monuments their. I call this one the Disturbing Angel because of a black mold that has taken up residence on parts of it's face. The hands have been broken off, and the affect is kind of creepy...don't you think ?

As a child , my grandmother would bring us down to the cemetery to visit the graves and we would stop to take pictures of us perched on this monument to Jesus and The Children. Times are different now, and people get rather upset when you climb on statues, so I simply stop to nod to the memories of childhood days past.

Another must visit stop is the memorial to the children and sisters who died in the Our Lady of the Angels school. It is an event that few remember today, but was very influential in the formation of today's fire codes, fire drills and more. It happened when I was an infant, but my next sister was born exactly a year to the day of that horrible fire, and my father had friends who lost younger siblings in the blaze.  For these reasons, it is another meaningful stop for me.


Just enjoying the fall days !

Goofy faces are never outgrown !

Always nice to spend time together !

One of the best things about going back to the Weight Watchers 123 plan is the freedom it allows. You CAN  eat out, eat pizza and even a doughnut - if you save the points for such a thing. I think this is something that a lot of people do not understand about the program. It is not just specific Weight Watchers brand foods that are included on the program, but ALL foods. Points are calculated by a formula of calories, fat and fiber- not simply some marketing strategy. One of the big philosophy's of Weight Watchers is that this is not a diet, but a way of life. Life DOES include celebrations, holidays, weekends away , parties and a lot more.

Today is back to the grind, and a date with 4 pie pumpkins that will be roasted, pureed and frozen for future use. I keep canned pumpkin in stock, but I also like to make my own for the freezer. So good in soups, stews and quick breads !

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lesson in the making

You want to know what is the best thing about being bad ? You can learn a whole lot from it ! At least I belive that we indeed learned something valuable out of yesterday's "bacchanal" .

The day began at home with a sensible breakfast of egg beaters with veggies and bacon. Everybody liked it , and it has become one pf mine and Nick's favorite things to eat in the morning. The plan was to head out to the pumpkin farm, buy a caramel apple or two, wander around some woods and eat lunch out. I was feeling like a bottomless pit who had been deprived of all good things for a lifetime and a half, Bob was feeling like a college kid on spring break and Nick was feeling amused that his parents were coming close to being reckless. We drove through some country roads to soak up the colors and smells of the season, and headed out to the pumpkin farm. Or shall I call it the country bakery /candy/farmstand that  sells candy, honey, baked goods and pumpkins ?
You know the places ! During much of the year they exist and silently grow things like corn, tomatoes, peppers and squash, but come September 22 they drag out all the stops and do everything to increase sales during the fall seasons. Cannot blame them- most people do not get excited about tomatoes and cucumbers, but combine anything Halloween with baked goods, and they come running ! These places sell caramel apples that are a ticket for a dentist to get enough buisness to buy a yacht and a quick trip to listening to Wilford Brimley commercials. We wanted one, and when we walked into the shop the smell of doughnuts, fudge and muffins convinced us we wanted a lot of other bad things. We lest with our purchases and hit a buffet for lunch, where we made some pretty bad choices. Reason was deep hunger from smelling all the treats. I ate a fried chicken wing and learned that my stomach does not like fried food  at all any more. Add a chocolate cupcake to that, and I was fighting not to lose my lunch ! Lesson being that while the eyes may say yes, the rest of the body knows better.

After lunch we made a circuit of visiting a couple of nearby forest preserves, enjoying the day and trying to avoid chiggers. The colors are just getting started here , and it is a glorious time to live in the midwest ! It was decided while in the woods that dinner was going to be perfectly mature, intelligent and seasonal. Pumpkin doughnuts, split the two caramel apples 3 ways and a home made turtle. I believe we were drunk off the colors , the fresh air and the affects of the bad for you food at the buffet.

These are the apples in question. Somewhere beneath the chocolate and caramel and toffee and nuts lies actual apples. I cut these each into six slices and divided them in three pieces, along with giving everyone two iced donuts and a home made turtle. And then a miracle happened. I took as bite of the doughnut, a bite of the turtle and a bite of the apple and got sick. Nick, who is younger and has a digestive track of steel offered to eat mine. How kind. I stopped eating and started drinking a bunch of water to flush the junk out.

This morning I weighed myself and I am down another 1.4 pounds. Not official, but there it is. Go figure. Actually there are reasons for this , and I most likely will not see any bad affects till tomorrow. Lesson learned, and it is out of my system. Back on track and healthy eating returns ! More adventures planed for today, and I think lunch will be Subway or some other healthy choice. No more caramel apples !

Friday, October 8, 2010

Early weigh in

Going to have 3 days of visiting pumpkin farms, cemeteries and shrines, and we know eating is going to be a bit crazy so we decided to weigh in a day early

Me- DOWN 1.4
Nick DOWN 3.4
Bob DOWN 0.2

Good thing is that even if I blow it this week( will probably happen with Carmel apples and pizza) , I am pretty sure I now know what is going to work best for my body and I can get back on track easily. It's a good feeling .

Now off to enjoy for festivities of fall !

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Math problem

If you live in a family of 3 and make a cake that divides into 16 servings, what does this mean ?

It means you will have enough servings of cake ( 1 per day per person) to last 5 days and then wonder what to do with the remaining piece on the 6th day. While thinking of what to do, you will begin to wonder why you even made the thing in the first place, if you can freeze the last piece, and then wonder how far in advance you would have to defrost it for someone's snack time. Then you realize that if you do this for 3 weeks you will wind up with 3 pieces in the freezer, which makes an extra snack for one day. Then you begin to consider the debate on who gets what flavor and wonder how to label these in order to facilitate said debate.

Same applies to muffins, but for 4 days with no leftovers.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

If I were a thin girl

This popped in my head yesterday , while battling the stomach rumbles and counting the minutes to my next meal. My apologies to the fine writers who created Fiddler on The Roof, but Tevia can serve as a good role model for one embarking on weight loss

If I were a thin girl( tune of If I were a rich man)
If I were a thin girl
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd sniggle iggle up.
If I were a skinny girl.
I wouldn't have to count points.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were an itty bitty ish,
Skinny mini thinny winny girl

I'd buy my bras and panties at Victoria's Secret
Right in the middle of the mall.
They'd be in blue and green and fiery fuchsia
There would be one long staircase just going up,
There would be ones for days when I feel like a siren
and ones when I'm feeling like a prude
And others for no reason, just because

I'd fill my closets to the brim with new styles all shown in the fashion mags
For the sake of looking cool
and each new shrug and jeans and croptop and babydoll
would make heads turn my way
As if to say "There goes a skinny girl."

If I were a thin girl
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd sniggle iggle up.
If I were a skinny girl.
I wouldn't have to count points.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were an itty bitty ish,
Skinny mini thinny winny girl.

I see my hubby standing, looking like Fabio tonight
.With hair whipping in the wind
( hey it's a fantasy after all)
I see him whisk me off on horseback at sunset
Oy, what a change there's been in him
.All because I am a skinny girl

The most delicious treats in town the will not fatten me
There's no need to count calories
Food just burns off
One of these, Reb Tevye
three of these Reb Tevye
Racking up calories that would cross Jillian's eyes !!!
And it doesn't matter how many points I ate be they good or bad
When your thin it don't matter anymore

If I were thin I would not need time on a track
To walk and walk each day
And maybe then I'd toss my scale away
.I'd write some blogs to tell folks just how I did it ,yes I would surely know the way
Cause when you're thin they think you really know

If I were a thin girl
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd sniggle iggle up.
If I were a skinny girl.
I wouldn't have to count points.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were an itty bitty ish,
Skinny mini thinny winny girl

Monday, October 4, 2010

Don't try this at home

Now here is one I bet you have not tried !

I was reading yesterday about some aspects of folk magic amongst different cultures in regards to shamanic type healing. Fascinating stuff that is mostly removed from reality, but occasionally a thread of truth could be found that fits in with modern medical understanding. A lot of stuff that is amusing to the modern mind, such as writing a letter to the mice infesting your home to leave and so forth. Many strange uses for onions and eggs in regards to ills stemming from bad relations with fleas , ticks and faeries as well ( attacks of arthritis used to be attributed to "elf-shot").

As I read through, I found a very interesting remedy for weight loss. Take an egg, tell it to take your extra fat away, rub it all over your body and take the egg to a crossroads and bury it. No counting points, no need for a heart rate monitor, no hours in the gym, just you, an egg and a quiet intersection of two dirt roads. What was Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and The Biggest Loser thinking when they created their programs when the solution is clearly a lot easier than estimated ???

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Pumpkin bread

Yesterday was crisp, cool and a little drizzly. Bob had a funeral to sing for in the morning and then Mass in the afternoon, so any plans for getting out to do fall sort of things went right out the window. I used the day for a baking session of assorted muffins and breads that were made with healthy ingredients and could be frozen in portion controlled sizes for later. It's probably just as well, as we learned that Bob ( and most likely Nick) has a rather serious allergy to both mosquitoes and now Chiggers. They start out looking like a mosquito bite, then get a fluid filled bump on the top of them, itch to an insanity provoking level and then turn bright, beet red in a spot about 3 inches in diameter for a few days. Insect repellents without DEET serve as basting sauce, and those with DEET are harmful, so it really makes me consider any benefits of any kind of outdoor activities now. We have been having a chigger epidemic here for the last 3 years, and somehow they have invaded our car. No way to avoid exposure to them in the car, not completely sure how to kill the ones in there, and not a whole lot of answers found for this. So to cut down on any further possible exposure, the woods are out for now. Walking will have to take place indoors.

So, the baking opportunity yesterday was a good thing. Cool temps make a warm oven a very welcoming thing. I made apple corn muffins, pumpkin bran muffins and something called Velvet Pumpkin bread for last night's dessert. We have a practice of getting a "treat" for the weekend, and if you bake it yourself you can save both money and calories. This one turned out very good !

                      Velvet Pumpkin Bread (3.5 PTS- 16 servings)

                        Vegetable oil spray
  1                cup  canned pumpkin
                        Egg substitute equivalent to 2 eggs
                        --OR 2 eggs slightly beaten
     1/3           cup  fat-free milk
  2        tablespoons  light margarine
  1         tablespoon  vegetable oil
  2               cups  all-purpose flour
  2          teaspoons  baking powder
  1           teaspoon  ground cinnamon
     1/2      teaspoon  ground ginger
     1/4      teaspoon  ground nutmeg
     1/4      teaspoon  salt
     1/2           cup  chopped pecans -- dry-roasted
     1/2           cup  sugar
     1/2           cup  firmly packed light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 10x5x3-inch loaf pan with
vegetable oil spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl,
combine pumpkin, egg, milk, margarine, and oil, stirring well. In a large
bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and
salt. Stir in remaining ingredients, mixing

Make a well in center of flour mixture. Pour
pumpkin mixture all at once into well. Stir until just moistened. Don't
overmix. Pour batter into loaf pan.

Bake for 1 hour
or until cake tester or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove
from pan and let cool on cooling rack.

Makes 16
Servings (slices)

Per Serving:
Protein  3 g
Carbohydrates 28 g
Fat 4g (1 g. sat.)
Sodium 127 mg
% calories from fat
Fiber 2g
Cholesterol 0 mg

Saturday, October 2, 2010

If it's Saturday, it's weigh in !

After a week of Weight Watchers 123 points, weigh in

Me- DOWN 1.4
Nick- exactly the same
Bob- DOWN 1.4

Lather, rinse, repeat !

Friday, October 1, 2010

Spice crusted tuna

One of the foods I am trying to focus on in our eating plan is fish. Low in calories and saturated fats, high in protein - what is not to love if you are working towards weight loss ? Fish is also a quick cook food, so it can fit in the time budget for most people as well. Problem is, most of us learn to bread it and deep fry it, and any health benefits go out the window. Cooking fish in a healthy way can be a little intimidating ! My problem has been getting the speed in which fish cooks downpat. Something in my mind screams error when a piece of protein supposedly goes from raw to cooked at a high temp in less than 10 minutes, yet this is the nature of most fish. In short, I am learning to cook fish properly now.

Last night I made some herb crusted seared tuna that may have been one of the best things I have ever eaten . My son called it chocolate fish and my husband said it was almost melt in your mouth steak, so I knew that I had found a winner. Do not let the number of spices intimidate you - there are several !

16-spice Seared Tuna W/mustard Mint Sauce

  3 tablespoons  ground cinnamon
  3 tablespoons  ancho chili powder
  3 tablespoons  pasilla chili powder
  3 tablespoons  ground cumin
  3 tablespoons  ground coriander
  3 tablespoons  ground ginger
  1 tablespoon  ground cloves
  1 tablespoon  ground fennel seed
  2 tablespoons  garlic powder
  2 tablespoons  onion powder
  1 tablespoon  allspice
  1 teaspoon  chile de arbol
  3 tablespoons  brown sugar
  2 tablespoons  kosher salt
  2 tablespoons  coarsely ground black pepper
  1 teaspoon  cayenne pepper
  3 tuna steaks -- (6-ounce)
  2 teaspoons  canola oil
  3 tablespoons  Dijon mustard
  2 tablespoons  honey
  1 tablespoon  prepared horseradish -- drained
  3 mint leaves -- finely chopped
   Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all of the spices in a bowl. Rub 1 side of each tuna steak with some of the rub. Heat oil in a large pan over high heat. Place the tuna in the pan, rub-side down, and cook until golden brown and the spices have formed a crust, about 2 minutes. Turn over and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes for rare doneness. Drizzle each steak with some of the Mustard-Mint Sauce.

To make the mint sauce  whisk together the last five ingredients in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

I served it with something we call chineese sesame noodles


     1/4 cup  peanut butter, creamy
     1/2 cup  hot water
     1/3 cup  soy sauce
  2 teaspoons  honey
  1 clove  garlic -- crushed
  1 teaspoon  ginger
  6   ounces  noodles -- cooked ( I used soba/buckwheat noodles)
   1 can mandarin oranges, drained

In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter or sesame paste with hot water
until creamy.  Whisk in soy sauce, honey, garlic and ginger.  Add the
noodles. Top with orange segments  Serve warm or cold.