Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
It's our annual trek North to cooler temperatures and restful bliss just gazing at the largest freshwater lake in the world. We're so lucky to live where we do. I know everyone says that! People come from all over the world to take in Lake Superior's scenic coast and I'm fortunate to live just a few hours drive from there. When we moved back to Minnesota after living out of state, I vowed to never live so far away from the lake that simply takes my breath away or at least to make sure that I made the journey to it at least once a year.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
So, back to the bananas. I think this is a law of nature or something. If I buy too many bananas, they sit on the counter until super sweet spotted and end up in the freezer. Buy too few and in a day or two someone will cry, "Who ate the last banana?" Buy the same amount every week for the next year and chart the results (no, I really didn't do this), and you'll get a varied result each week. I guess it all just depends on who is hungry for a banana or if perhaps banana cravings are contagious. I'm sure somewhere in some windowless university lab, a pale researcher is attempting to figure this out.
Anyway, when we have a plethora of overly ripe bananas, they end up in the freezer. My intention is always to throw them into pancake or muffin batter and I do occasionally do that, but sometimes they start to take over every available nook and cranny of my freezer and I have to bake.
Being incredibly busy this summer, I don't have time to think about banana bread, loaf pans, sifting, etc. So, I searched and tweaked this recipe until it came out relatively Point friendly, super easy, and best of all (in the summer), it doesn't require the oven to be on for over an hour like banana bread does.
I will say, though, that when baking it, Young One will follow his nose to the kitchen and then his face will fall and say, "It's Not Banana Bread Cake!" Hence, the name.
It's Not Banana Bread Snack Cake
This incredibly moist snack cake uses bananas in place of the oil, you certainly won't miss the fat, and just a touch of mini chocolate chips will hit that chocolate craving. Makes 24 servings at 3 Points each. Cool and cut into servings before tasting!
1 box yellow cake mix--I'd bet it would be great with spice cake, chocolate cake, and white cake too!
4 over ripe bananas, thaw if frozen (you can zap in the microwave if you haven't planned ahead)
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
Dump the first four ingredients (do I have to tell you to peel the bananas?) into your mixer bowl and let it beat on low until combined, raise the speed up until it's just short of splattering your kitchen and let it fly for a couple of minutes. Lower speed and toss in the chips, mix just for a second until combined. Bake as directed on the cake mix box. You may wish to make into cupcakes for better portion control. It takes about 30 minutes or until a kid comes in the kitchen and complains about it not being banana bread, but in the same breath, asks when it's going to be done.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
As a child, some of my happiest moments were spent learning these skills. I remember hanging out in the kitchen with mom learning how to put food by--that's freezing, canning, and drying for those of you that haven't heard that before. We froze rhubarb and asparagus in the Spring, apples and tomatoes in the Fall. Mom canned jam made from the chokecherries she picked down at the far end of the orchard. She taught me to buy ahead when things were on sale and that homemade was always better (and cheaper) than convenience foods. Dad taught me to pay cash for what we needed and to be prepared for emergencies by saving. He taught me about the importance of maintaining your car and how expensive it could be not to. Dad taught me about stocks and the economy and how to make do, reuse, and self sacrifice for the sake of the family. Mom and Dad taught us to keep the heat low and put on a sweater, take your shoes off at the door to keep the floors nice, and to fix things instead of replacing them. They taught me that it was okay to live with appliances that may not be the "in" color, but that work just fine. We garage saled, thrift shopped, and consignment shopped before it was cool. And we enjoyed the eternally in-style family antiques as functional furniture. They taught me to save for experiences, like trips, and not for stuff. They taught me that simple pleasures are priceless.
I am so thankful that I learned this. This frugality has given me the gift of being able to be at home again creating a home for my family. It has allowed us to pay cash for all of our purchases. It has allowed us to travel. It has allowed us to have nice things for our home and garden. But most of all, it has afforded us a great deal of something that is of the utmost value: peace of mind.
I've been making my own household cleaners for many years now and it's a huge money saver. I take for granted that most people know how simple it is. So, having a discussion today with a friend, I mentioned that while we were on the phone, I was mixing up a few homemade cleaning supplies. The phone got quiet, I thought we had been disconnected. Nope, she was in shock and I think she called me a hippy chick or something. After I got done explaining how to do it, she replied, "that's it?" "Yep, that's it."
So, I wonder, just what do people think they're paying for when they purchase a bottle of 409? Check out those bottles and you'll find water as the main ingredient, usually followed by a bunch of chemicals that you just can't pronounce and perfume. Not only are you paying a lot for water, but you're putting stuff into your home, your life, your lungs, your kid's bodys that, let's face it, we just don't know what it's going to do to a human in a few years, not to mention, our environment.
I'm a huge fan of Mrs. Meyers' products. They're made locally, they smell great, and they're environmentally friendly, but they are one of the most expensive products in the cleaning aisle. I haven't been able to duplicate their stainless steel cleaner, so I still use that, but the rest of it-- I've replaced with my own homemade stuff. Since scent was my primary reason for enjoying their products so much, I've scented some of my own cleaners with natural oils and I love them just as much.
I challenge you to start small. Challenge yourself to do these two things and then add more when you're ready:
- The next time your all purpose cleaner is out, wash out the spray bottle very well and then make my favorite disinfectant, all purpose cleaner. It's just a 50/50 mix of water and white vinegar. It shines up my counters just beautifully. Disinfects my sink naturally and without harsh abrasives. And it's vinegar scent disappears once it's dry (and leaves behind the great scent of clean--which is odorless!)
- Okay, and now, my favorite and one that the dishwasher repairman shared with me (thanks Larry!). When your rinse aid runs out in your dishwasher, just replace with white vinegar.
Both of these homemade cleaning supplies cost fractions of their purchased counterparts. They're environmentally and, more importantly, HUMAN friendly.
What have you got to lose? I paid less than a buck for a gallon of vinegar the last time I purchased it. Try just these things and remember that clean doesn't have a smell. These are the cleaning products our ancestors used. They've been proven and I think if you can get over the fact that your house will no longer smell like a pine forest or a lemon grove, you'll be just fine. And if you absolutely have to have a scent, then look into adding essential oils, dried herbs, or lemon juice.
I'll post more cleaner recipes as I have time, but you can feel free to search them out on your own in the meantime. Baking soda alone has a multitude of purposes--I use it to deodorize my carpets, clean my stove top, and unclog drains, just to name a few. We're all feeling the crunch of high gas prices, even higher food prices, and the recession. It's time to save pennies and these cleaners do that and then some.
They are an economical way to fill your belly, but your typical pasta just isn't Weight Watchers friendly. So, in my quest to find healthy, budget friendly meals, I discovered Ronzoni pastas. High fiber (but nobody notices), so they're extremely point friendly. I tend to stick with the "normal" looking stuff, the whole wheat looks just to brown to get past Young One's lips (this a kid who's rarely had white bread! Go figure.).
Last night, dinner was major crunch time. We had a busy day of cleaning, laundry, and attacking the car with the Shop Vac. I was hot, Young One was hot, and D surprised us and came home early for dinner. In all the craziness of the day, I had neglected to plan dinner and my list of planned meals was short and filled with items that required advanced planning (thawing!). So, I winged it and it was a delightful meal, even without the sugar snap peas that somehow didn't steam quickly enough to make it to our plates at the same time as the pasta.
I think this meal would be delightful cold as well. This was really delicious and so easy, it looks like I fussed much more. I suppose you could toss in just about anything else you have on hand (leftover veggies or roasted red peppers, mushrooms, etc would be great). Top with some crumbled Feta or Parmesan if you wish and if you have enough Points! The leftovers were great the next day after all the flavors had melded overnight.
So, the next time you're on crunch time, give this one a whirl.
A Can, A Can, A Can and A Hand(ful) Pasta
One can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
One can ripe olives, drained and coarsely chopped
One can Italian style tomatoes
One Box Ronzoni Pasta--I used spaghetti, any would work fine
A couple of handfuls of frozen shrimp
Start a large pot of water to boil. Do not salt the water! (all the canned stuff is salty enough). Thaw shrimp under running cold water. Drain and set aside. While pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, dump all sauce ingredients and heat over medium heat until bubbling, toss in shrimp and cook until heated through. Drain pasta well. Toss pasta with sauce.
You'll have to figure out the Points value based on what you use.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I call it my Popeye moment. Remember how in the cartoons, a character's eyes would literally pop right out of his head in a shocking moment? Well, that's usually how I feel on the scale. I'm either Pop-eying because I'm thrilled with the number or Pop-eying because the number isn't what I expected. And yes, Pop-eying is a word. Weigh-in day is both looked forward to and dreaded at the same time.
This morning, I wasn't happily Pop-eying. I'm up .6 and for the first time on this journey, I cried on the scale. I've never done that before and I was so mad at myself. At the beginning of this journey, I had promised myself that I wouldn't let a box of springs run my life. It was not going to break me, but there I was naked, crying, and cursing that damn box. Not a pretty picture, huh? (Come on, I know I'm not the ONLY one that weighs-in naked! And, no, I don't strip at meetings, I'm an online only member, thank you very much.)
****Little pause here, Young One's hamster nipped him while he was cleaning out her cage. Many tears, some shaking, and a Bandaid later, he's back to cleaning his room and I got to finish cleaning the hamster cage. A quick check online to see if Hamsters are official carriers of alarming Hamster-ouch-itis, a very contagious, yet imaginary disease and I'm back! Oh, the joy of being a stay at home mom! I can't remember the last time I had uninterrupted time.****
Back to the scale. Now, I'm mad at myself for crying on it. It is just an impersonal box of springs, even though it does tell me my body fat percentage (which is going down!) and the weight of my skeleton (which is a little odd and a bit encouraging since it hasn't changed, wouldn't want to be losing bones and not fat now would I? Ha, imagine that reality. "Doctor, I'm very frustrated, my bones have disappeared and now I'm just a gelatinous blob. No, I can't come into the office, I have no bone structure." Oh, I've got to stay more focused when I write, where was I?)
There are any number of reasons that it went up this week instead of down. I've been working out like crazy and I'm really sore. Physiologically, I know that sore muscles hold water and so this probably explains my weight "gain". I also was sipping iced coffee and Vitamin Water like crazy and, despite logging it, it may have been more points than I thought. Maybe I wasn't really honest with my reporting this week? I plan to review my Points Tracker with great scrutiny to see if maybe I made some mistakes there. I didn't eat all my Flexies or my Activity Points, maybe I didn't eat enough. Like I said, there could be many reasons, but what is most important is that I take a good look at it, be honest in my reflection, and then move on and keep going.
I have to be reality focused here. I can't let that box, that number, take over my life. I am feeling better than I have in years. I am going down in clothing sizes and seeing definition in muscles that I haven't seen in a long time (or when I could see them, I took them for granted!). I feel great after working out and it's doing good things for my heart and bone health. I'm eating healthier and I feel better about my food choices--where they come from and what I'm eating. Most importantly, I feel more in control and less lost, less depressed about being fat.
It's very hard to be overweight. It's very hard to lose weight. You have to decide which hard you want to have. No, I didn't come up with that clever little phrase, it's an old Weight Watchers saying that gets passed around. Those phrases are a little trite, but sometimes valuable. Although if I hear, "If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you're not hungry" again I'm going to trachea punch the speaker. Yes, this week, the scale got the best of me, just for a moment. I doubt that there will be a next time because, like anything else in this journey, I've logged it, learned from it, and now I'm moving on.
In the meantime, I'm fantasizing about the many ways one could do away with their scale. Launching it out the window is tempting, but just too simple and uninspired. I'd rather see it go in a flaming blaze of glory, perhaps launched from a trebuchet into the great beyond.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The Lottery by Patricia Wood
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I was kind of distracted by a severe headache while reading this, so perhaps it was just that I wasn't in good enough shape to read it well. I don't want you to not read this book because of my review. I have recommended it to my bookclubs and I plan to read it again and wish to discuss it. It's subject matter hits close to home for me and so, perhaps this is why I didn't like it. Maybe it made me think about things that could take place if I wasn't around. Hmmm.
The premise is great. A man with a very low IQ wins the lottery. He's not retarded, as he likes to remind us. This is the story of how his biological family betrays him and how he creates his own true family. And how he's much smarter than most people give him credit for.
Sleep Softly by Gwen Hunter
Another disappointment. I don't think this one was my headache, it just was a stinker. Predictable fluff. The story tries to jump to light speed instantly and so, from the get go, it just didn't work for me. I wanted to like this. I wanted to read a mystery/thriller/suspense novel just to mix it up a bit. I trudged through to the end, which dragged on, just because I felt obligated. Not a good reason to finish a book. I should have put it down when it didn't engage me at the beginning. Oh well. I did learn a little bit about forensic nursing and for about two milliseconds I actually considered looking into training for this job (yes, I'm a RN), but then I realized how truly depressing this career would actually be. I don't recommend, sorry Gwen.
The Wicked Soundtrack and Pink's I'm Not Dead.
Yes, once again I will mention that I am not a music snob, but this is an odd combination isn't it? They just happen to be the albums that caught my sing along attention on my Ipod when I was cleaning my house today. Giving Young One more fodder for adulthood therapy, he got to watch me half dance/ half clean around the house while singing along to the invisible music. I apologize to him from deep within my heart, but whistling while you work/ a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, etc etc. really does work. I sang show tunes and rocked out to Pink AND got several loads of laundry done and all the bathrooms clean. Plus, I dusted and vacuumed. SCORE! Try not to scrub the heck out of something while listening to Pink. Oh, I love her so.
Cheater BBQ Ribs. Young One loves BBQ. Weight Watchers doesn't. I think you can have, like, one rib for a million points--seriously. So, I bought some lean pork loin, cut it into "ribs", seared them on the grill, wrapped them in foil, dumped some cheap BBQ sauce on them, and they are now tantalizingly slow cooking to perfection on my grill. I think they smell great, so they'll probably be fantabulous.
I ate a can of green beans and a Lean Cuisine for lunch. I was so uninspired and had so many things to cross off my to do list, I caved and ate some not so great food. In Points value, this really wasn't a bad meal, but there are things in those frozen meals that give me the heebie jeebies and eating canned green beans when you have 2 pounds of fresh ones in your refrigerator seems a bit ridiculous to me.
While reaching into the black hole which is my pantry to get the beans, I noticed a can of garbanzo beans. I think it's been there since we moved in, perhaps a relic left behind by the former owners. I really do need to clean that thing out. Oh and, for the record, I have nothing against garbanzo beans. You do have to be in a Hummus mood or ready to roast some---otherwise, they just look a little frightening to me. Something about their shape and the fact that they are also known as Chick Peas is unnerving to me.
I finally spent my Mother's Day gift. Initially, I was a bit miffed at being handed a wad of cash for Mother's Day. I mean, come on, how hard is it to buy a gift card for the spa or go paint a plate somewhere? I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, though. And I did, finally find what I wanted to spend it on. I love art. We purchase a piece of art every time we travel and for special occasions. I'm addicted to etsy. I love to purchase directly from the artists and I can browse on that website for hours. It sparks my creative side and I get ideas from there a lot! Anyway, I found this delightful artist, who lives in neighboring Wisconsin, and purchased two paintings and a painted vase from her. I'm too lazy (overdosed on cleaning today) to take pictures and post them, but basically one is a small sunflower painting and the other is a painting of a tree and some flowers. Too simple a description to do them justice, sorry. I love them! And the vase is gorgeous. I put the dried roses from my dad's funeral in them (which, although this sounds morbid, really is quite pretty!). Please check her out, follow the link to etsy and search for marysworkshop.
The incidents I'm thinking of didn't happen recently, but are forever burned in my mind and last night I saw the kid responsible for them. Oooh, kid, I still don't like you.
So, you know this kid. Everyone has one of these kids in their class. You know, the one who they now are labeling with "anger management issues". (Insert big eye roll here.) The one, who for reasons you don't know or reasons you really don't want to know, can't control himself. He's the one that has been raised wrong. He's broken and really, there is no hope for this kid. But, somehow he has more rights to an education than the rest of the rule-abiding children that surround him in class. But, once again, I digress. Back to the incidents.
In first grade, Young One was still very trusting. He was a cute kid who got on the bus with the big boy neighbors, wearing a backpack bigger than he was. Until the incident that became his first peek at how not nice human beings just can be to each other.
Anger Management Boy, who I believe at the time was maybe called Oppositional Defiance Disorder Boy or Hyperactive Attention Deficit Boy, just walked up to Young One and put him in a choke hold. It took several teachers to get him off my son. We were called. The Principal (insert Dun, Dun, Duhhhhhhh music here) was involved. A social worker chimed in. It was chaos.
Bottom line: my son had a red bruised neck for a week, his voice got raspy, and he was extremely traumatized (as was I) by the whole experience.
So, what's a mom to do? I called, trying to keep my mother lioness personality at bay the best that I could. I spoke with the teachers, the principal, and the social worker. I hear about Anger Management Boy's "issues", his "family environment". I hear about the "messy divorce." And what I discovered is that my child doesn't have the same right to an education (in a safe environment) that the child now known as Anger Management Boy does.
So, a couple of years go by, and for the most part, encounters with A.M. Boy are limited. I refuse to allow Young One to be in a class with him and so far, my requests have been honored. This year, however, A.M. Boy attacked Young One again. As the teacher put it, "It happened so fast, no one could react. We were all so shocked." Young One came off with a scratch and a swollen nose from a punch to the face. His glasses were bent and the lenses gouged. More traumatic to him was the trip to the Principal's office in which he was made to feel as if HE was also in trouble (not really by the school staff, just his own perception).
This time, I went to school, and took Young One home for a breather. He needed to recharge before going back to his class and Lord knows, his whole school didn't need to see him with a tear streaked face, red nose, and crooked glasses. A.M. Boy's parting words from the office to my son were, "Cry Baby." I've never spanked my child, but man, did I want to lay out this kid.
Once again, I call, I speak to anyone that will listen to me. And once again I ask, why does this child have more rights than mine? At what point, do we intervene and remove this child from the school? What does it take to actually get expelled these days? I'm told, again, that this is a child caught up in a very messy divorce ("The divorce is still taking place three years later?" I asked). He has "issues", he has a "personal behavior plan" in place. His blah blah blah blah blah, politically correct terms, blah blah blah blah, blathery blah blah. So, placate me and keep it quiet, and wait it out and pass this kid off to the middle school principal in a year. GRRRR.
So, Young One lays on my bed, we watch a few cartoons. I wait until some calmness comes over him and until his heart beat isn't thumping hard enough to flutter the front of his shirt. And I tell him that we're not going to let this boy keep him from his friends and HIS school. That we're going to get it together and go back. And that he should hold his head high, not let this boy defeat him. I explain to him as gently as I can that this boy is broken and most likely will never get better and that he needs to stay clear of him. I also told him that it is appropriate to protect himself in any way he needs to and to use his Tae Kwon Do moves if he needs to defend himself. (This was so hard for the pacifist in me, but Mother Lion had taken over somewhat here.)
Fast forward a few months and A.M. Boy is now stealing lunch money from kids on a field trip I was chaperoning. The money gets back to it's rightful owners, but really nothing but a wrist slap happens to him. He laughs on the bus ride back to school. "Next time, I won't get caught," I hear him brag. Oy.
So, last night is Young One's Summer Orchestra Concert and A.M. Boy is part of the orchestra (which is so surprising to me because as a general rule music kids are good to the core--it's probably part of his behavior management plan! HA!). I now just look at the kid and think, "What a little creep," and don't spend much more time thinking about him other than picturing his future in some Boot Camp for Bad Kids (I think this is a franchise!) or in jail.
The concert is lovely. What a great group of kids. With all of them playing, you don't hear the squeaks and ear bleed inducing squeals that can happen when you give a ten year old a string instrument and a bow. And they play a Jewish song that happens to be Young One's favorite song of the concert. And it reminds me of the last time he practiced that song for me. As he finished it, he got this funny look on his face and his eyes filled with tears. "It's just such a sad song, Mom. It just gets to me."
And I'm touched. And so proud of my Cry Baby. He may be the one that has tears again at school and just might hear that name calling again someday. But, he'll also be the one that will cry as he makes his wedding vows and when he sees his child for the first time.
That's okay with me.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I Bought Too Much at the Farmer's Market Stir Fry
My version was 4 WW points. You MUST put your recipe in the recipe builder in order to figure out your recipe's point value!
This may seem like a no-brainer recipe, but I've been very surprised at the number of people who are intimidated by stir frying and who have told me that they just don't do it. I've cheated in this one using prepared teriyaki sauce, but you can make your own Asian inspired sauce. There are tons of recipes out there or if you'd like to try some of The Ginger People's stuff--feel free--they make great products too! The prep takes longer than the cooking, just hang in there!
Thinly sliced onions.
Thinly sliced peppers.
Chopped broccoli, thinly sliced on the diagonal carrots, pea pods, sliced mushrooms, zucchini-- Just chop to your heart's content! Clean out that fridge.
1 pound cubed or thinly sliced raw meat--whatever you have on hand: chicken, pork, beef, lamb. If you use shrimp, leave them whole.
Soy Vay Very Teriyaki I am never without this in the pantry. A little goes a long way.
You must make sure that everything is prepped and ready to go. So, prep like you're doing a cooking show. Heat a very large, nonstick skillet over high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add meat and stir fry until done. Remove from pan and cover to hold heat in. Return pan to high heat and toss in veggies. Continually stir frying until vegetables are crisp tender. Return meat to pan and toss to combine. Add 1/2 cup of sauce--more to taste if desired. These sauces go a long way, so be sure to taste before adding more.
Serve with Jasmine or Brown Rice. And add the points value of the rice--I didn't include it in the recipe.
Friday, July 11, 2008
I must admit, I'm a little relieved not to have to stand over a 500 degree grill in this weather!
Lemon Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Northwoods Seasoning
3 WW Points for half of a skinless hen or 6 points for a whole, skinless hen
2 large Cornish Hens--I prefer buying mine locally from Chase Brook Natural Find your own local source if you can!
1 lemon cut in quarters--squeeze over hens and then stuff into cavities
Northwoods seasoning from Penzeys Spices Just generously sprinkle over the hens
Pop into a 350 degree oven and roast for about an hour or until 180 degrees measured with insta-read thermometer in hen's thigh.
Okay, I just had to snap a picture of the before as it went into the oven. Wanted to see how my new counter tops and back splash look in the pictures! Like my new Redwing utensil crock? I got it at the factory a couple of weeks back.
The AFTER picture is so much more appetizing. This was delightful and left me with so many leftover points, we may just head out to the DQ before the storms strike.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Yes, it's inch by inch, day by day melting away and it's hard work sometimes, but I wonder, will I always feel like the fat girl? It took me a long time to realize that that's exactly what I had become. And, for a very long time, I had denied admitting it. You'd think that those feelings would go away when you start losing.
I've mentioned before that I was a skinny kid. I could eat anything. When I got married, I weighed less than 100 pounds (mostly because my future in laws had stressed me out so much over wedding planning.) I obviously dealt with stress a different way then and I was very busy in a very active life and job.
Looking back on how I got fat, it started during those skinny years. I ate anything I wanted. When I got married, I matched my husband plate for plate. And, while living in a slightly boring area of the country due to a military posting, we ate for fun. I had a baby, the baby weight never came off. And, I didn't work out. Heck, I didn't have to when I was skinny, why would I have to now? And God said, HA!
I'm trying to be more forgiving of myself, but sometimes it's so very hard. When I look back on the last few years, owning my own business and dealing with that stress along with the horrible emotional betrayal of a friend in the business' last days, well, I ate to cope and didn't move AT ALL. During the course of my business, I had lost my dad and lost my best friend. Well, I can't say I really lost her, I lost what I THOUGHT was her. Turns out, she wasn't at all what she led me to believe. So, really, I lost nothing--she is the one that lost out big time. I miss what I thought she was. I know that she had to come up with a reason to be mad at me to rationalize what she's done and is doing to me. That's OK. Cope the way you need to. It will come back to you and then some. That's another story for another day. But, suffice it to say, I've done nothing wrong and she knows she has and perhaps can't face me because of it. Maybe one day, it will mend. Who knows?
So, now, I sit here reviewing pictures. I've come a long way. Perhaps I haven't dealt with things very well in the past, but I'm learning. It took a big step to admit that I was the fat girl and an even bigger step to start doing something about it. Now, it's time to heal the wounds and move on. I will never again judge a current picture, unless I have another one from my past to compare it to. And I will never again be out of the picture, just because I don't want to see who I really am.
Since I started this new life last October, I've come to love a few things that are extremely WW friendly. They're almost always in my house, so I thought I'd start a list here for those of you who are following along!
- Aldi frozen fruit bars or Edy's frozen fruit bars. Yum.
- No sugar added vanilla nonfat frozen yogurt. Not the kind with artificial sweetener. Read your labels.
- Werther's Original Hard Candy. Great for those craving times. You can have 3 for one point and it seems as if you had something much more decadent.
- Fresh fruit and veggies. So many of them are zero or very low points. Great for snacks and filling out meals. I serve at least 2 vegetables with dinner and always have fruit for snacks and desserts.
- Homemade pudding pops. Make fat free pudding and freeze in pops.
- Litehouse light salad dressings. The Blue Cheese and Ranch are my favorites.
- Salad spritzers, for those days when you don't even have enough points for salad dressing!
- Corn flakes. You can have a heck of a big bowl of cornflakes for breakfast or for a snack for very low points. Top them with honey if you've got the points. They also make a great breading for Tilapia or chicken, simply crush, dip, and bake.
- Crumpets. Oh, thank you to you delightful British inventors of this chewy, English muffin combined with pancake combined with yummy goodness breakfast treat. Top with your favorite no sugar added jam or splurge with some peanut butter. The fat free ones are only a point a piece!
- Kashi Multi Grain crackers.
- Laughing Cow Light Cheese. Great on the crackers (above) or tossed with pasta.
- Homemade pitas or in a pinch, purchased ones.
- WW bagels.
- 100 calorie pudding packs.
- Imitation crab sticks. Sometimes you just need a little protein and these fit the bill.
- Fat free hot dogs. Top with Monastery Mustard Divinely Original I order from Monastery Greetings at least twice a year. This mustard is fantastic. Spicy and gives fat free hot dogs the zing they need.
- Village Hearth Light Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns and 12 grain bread!
- Ronzoni pasta
- Brown Rice
- Wild Rice
- Vegetarian Baked Beans
- Canned black beans--toss with seasoned ground turkey for a great taco filling.
- Pickles: pickled beets, dills, etc.
- Low fat cottage cheese. Great protein packed snack plus dairy serving.
- PB2, powdered peanut butter available from Bell Plantation. Mix with water or oil for a VERY WW friendly peanut butter substitute. I've used it to bake with and love the results. While it doesn't quite fill my peanut butter craving when it's on a Code Red level, it is quite good. If you need to get an oil serving in, mix one of your oils with the powder. Seems kind of silly to do this, but it does taste great this way and it keeps you in charge of the oil content.
- Fat Free Cool Whip: One serving is zero points. Zero. I like to freeze a servings between two graham crackers for a low point "ice cream" sandwich.
- Salsa Lisa Salsa. Simply the best. Thanks Lisa. I love this company and am so glad I got to see it manufactured.
- PB Loco. A company housed in the same building as Salsa Lisa. These attorneys know how to make the peanut butter! It's great for a splurge, but small amounts of their gourmet peanut butters do go a long way, so I find it to be a very WW friendly food. Try their savory peanut butters. The curry one is excellent in Thai noodles.
- Hostess 100 calorie chocolate cupcakes. One point, fills the chocolate craving. I have to have these in my freezer (they are much better frozen!) at all times. I like to stock up on them at bakery thrift stores as they're kind of pricey at regular grocery stores.
- Thomas' Light English Muffins. I think they say they're multi grain. They're good. Village Hearth has a version too that is even more WW friendly than the Thomas' ones.
- Baked Tostitos Scoops with Salsa Lisa, of course!
- Kashi waffles. Yum.
- Fiber One Bars. Chocolate. Fix. Now.
- Egg Beaters of Better N Eggs
- Real Maple Syrup. If you're going to have pancakes or waffles, a little bit of the REAL thing is much better than a lot of sugar free, imitation crap that's out there. Plus, I don't do artificial sweeteners.
- Steel cut oats. I love Bob's Red Mill brand. Excellent. But, not so great on hot summer mornings.
- Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch. I know, definitely not a highly nutritious food and probably full of all kinds of things that are so not good for me, but sometimes I've got to have some crunch.
- Animal Crackers.
- Fruit leather.
- 100 calorie Home Style Microwave Popcorn
That's just a starter list, I plan to add to it from time to time and as the season changes. I made this list mostly for me, just to give me a record of favorite foods to fall back on when I get bored or uninspired. I make most of what we eat from scratch and have been able to find all kinds of WW friendly recipes either on their Website or on member websites. Experimenting with recipes and substituting more WW friendly ingredients has been highly successful.
Summer is an easy season to be watching what you eat. Our Farmer's Market abounds with fresh, healthy vegetables, fruits, meats, honey, maple syrup, and other great food finds. Winter can be more challenging, but I intend to freeze a lot of fresh produce this summer. As my garden harvests begin, I hope that I can put away food bit by bit.
Simple searches on the Internet come up with countless recipes that claim to be healthy. You must enter the recipe into the recipe builder to get the correct Point count. It doesn't take long and you must do the work to really learn this new lifestyle.
Duma Key by Stephen King
When you tell someone you're reading a Stephen King novel, you get one of two reactions. It's either, "Oh, I can't read his stuff. Why would you want to read that?" or "Cool. He freaks me out, but I can't stop. I love him!" I'm not a book snob or a music snob. I'll read or listen to just about anything. Which I think is the way to be. Some people stick to what they like and know and won't step out of their zone. Stephen gets me out of my zone. I can only read one or two of his books a year. He gets in my head and sometimes I can't get him out. But, I love it! This book focuses on a former construction company owner who moves from Minnesota to a small key in Florida. Since I love both Minnesota and Florida, I thought this would be a good read. And it was. Stephen didn't disappoint me and, in the five days that it took me to read this book, I didn't sleep very well. A little creepy, a little suspenseful, a real page turner. Thanks Stephen. I'll sit on this one for a while and revisit you again soon.
The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens
I think I read somewhere that this was Sharon's first novel. Well done, I say, in the best Irish accent I can summon. Set in Ireland, this novel reminded me so much of Maeve Binchy's work. Just the right kind of story to get Stephen King out of my head. I read this one almost in one setting. The story focuses on a tea house and it's owners and patrons. I'm not going to tell you much more than that. If you're a fan of Binchy's work and would like a nice little summer read where everything just works out the way it should, then pick this one up at the library.
Thunder. We need the rain and we needed a rainy day to stay home and have some friends over to play. There's something about a rainy day that brings out the imagination in a couple of young boys! (And me too!) This has been an old fashioned summer of playing with friends every day--and less scheduled activity. It's been a blast!
Hummingbird food coming to a boil on the stove. I better go shut that off! When it rains, the feeders get full of water and the food becomes too diluted to attract my little feathered friends. One part sugar to four parts water, bring to a boil, cool and fill your feeders. NO FOOD COLORING, they don't need it, nor are they attracted to it more if it's colored. Just get yourself a brightly colored feeder, I like the blown glass ones--I just picked up another one at a garage sale for a buck!
My afternoon treat of iced Kona coffee. It's a habit, I know I've talked about it before, but that's what I'm sipping on right now!
Tile samples. I think I finally found the tile for my kitchen. (insert Hallelujah Chorus here)
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
The first summer cucumbers were a treasured treat. We'd wait with anticipation until they were just big enough to pick, only about 2 inches long, and then Grandma would whip up a batch of her, well, I don't know what to call this. They're not really pickles and it's not really a salad. Let's just call them Grandma's Cucumbers. I don't have enough room in my little garden for cucumbers. One year, I planted some that were a bush variety, but I couldn't find them this year. I found these baby cucumbers at the farmer's market yesterday and couldn't wait to make this recipe.
Some cucumbers--could be a few, could be a lot. Clean them real good. Peel them, or at least score the outside with a fork. Or don't peel them. Whatever you have time for. Soak them in salt water. How much salt? I don't know, sprinkle them real good. Then let them soak. How long? Oh, a good long time, maybe most of the morning or at least a couple of hours. Enough time to do a few loads of laundry or weed the garden and the flower bed.
Then, drain the salt water, but don't rinse them. Add some cider vinegar and not that imitation stuff. How much? Oh a couple of glugs. Add some more cold water and some black pepper. Sprinkle with some sugar. How much? Enough to sweeten them just a bit, I don't know, depends on how many cucumbers you've got. If it's not tart enough, add some more vinegar. Add a thinly slice onion. And then stir 'em real good. Then let them sit in the fridge until supper.
And remember, this isn't a recipe!
Taking a little time to play with words, to play with food, and just to play!