Early 20’s vs Late 20’s: Dieting

I never want to talk much about my attempts to lose a little weight on here, but as it’s on my project list and currently on my mind, I have come to the recent realization that I am not as young as I once was.

In the beginning of 2008, I was 23 and fresh out of college.  My last year of college had been rough – getting too little sleep, having too much stress, and eating far too much fast food in the middle of the night/early morning.  I finally gained my “Freshman 15” as a senior.  So I decided to do something about the 15 pounds I had gained + the 15 vanity pounds I wanted to lose on top of that; I joined Weight Watchers.

Now, 5 ½ years later, I am back in the same position, having gained back, over the last few years, that 30 pounds I lost in 2008.  I want to lose it again.  And again, I am trying Weight Watchers.

At 29, it’s different this time.  Maybe it’s unfair to just pinpoint the age difference, as several things have changed, such as my marital status, my social life, and my will-power. But age definitely has something to do with the change of my metabolism, eating habits, and “wisdom”.

When I was 23, the weight seemed to magically fall off.  It wasn’t quick, but it was steady.  Week after week, I’d see a smaller number on the scale  – 4 pounds lost, 2 pounds lost, 1 pound lost.  I wanted to lose the weight and that was enough then.  I took up running; I started tracking what I ate; I went to the weekly Weight Watchers meetings.  It worked.  From February to May, I lost 30 pounds, and I made Lifetime membership by staying at my goal weight for 6 weeks.

If it was so easy then, why is it so hard now?  Have I just suppressed the memories of wanting to shovel chocolate in my mouth or did I really not have that trouble then?

The good thing about WW is that you do track your food, and the good thing about being a pseudo-hoarder is that you keep those food journals.  I was looking over my old journal yesterday, and here’s one of the main differences:  I lived off of Progresso Soup and SmartOnes frozen dinners; now I cook.  I’m pretty sure my husband would have thrown an intervention for my former single self back in 2008 if he had known me; frozen dinners, full of who knows what, and canned soup, full of the same plus loads of sodium, are not healthy.  But they worked.

So I guess I’m labeling that one as with growing older comes wisdom disipline the desire to fuel my body with truly healthy food, not just low calories.  And that makes it a little more work for me and the will power.  Cursed by cooking?  Get ready for some new diet-friendly recipes.

Slow Cooker Challenge Week 3: Thai Chicken and Vegetables

If you’ve missed my previous posts and would like to join in the Slow Cooker Challenge, it’s never too late!  Go here to read more.

Today’s post is going to have to be short and sweet.  I’m too busy to ramble…but maybe that’s a good thing.

This week, I made a recipe that I have made once before the challenge and blogged about:  Thai Chicken and Vegetables.  It’s a Weight Watchers recipe, but it is full of flavor and nothing that would make you think “diet”.  You can follow the link to find the recipe.  As I said I am busy, busy, busy, I made the recipe Thursday, rather than Wednesday, as I didn’t make it to the grocery store until Wednesday…and I did not make it to Zumba.  However, it was perfect for Thursday, as I worked 12 hours and came home to dinner almost completely ready.

My second review of the recipe:  still love it.  It’s becoming one of my favorites.  It takes a good bit of time for all the prep work (peeling and chopping the veggies), but it’s worth it (especially, as I said in my original post, there are no Thai restaurants nearby, and while this may not be considered “authentic”, it’s better than nothing).

This dish has very specific flavors and everything is all mixed together – so I have no tips for repurposing.  At my house, though, we would gladly eat this for lunch two more times to use all 6 servings.

What’s in your slow cooker this week?

Slow Cooker Challenge Week 2: Pork Teriyaki

If you’ve missed my previous posts and would like to join in the Slow Cooker Challenge, go here to read more.

This week, I made Slow-Cooked Pork Teriyaki.  I found the recipe in a pdf called “New Year, New You:  The 30-Day Challenge” from MyDailyMoment.com.  Honestly, I don’t remember downloading this pdf…and I don’t remember ever being on their website…so I’m thinking I must have gotten it from Pinterest.  The pdf includes 30 recipes plus a “tip of the day” beside each recipe; some of the recipes sound pretty good, but this is the first one I’ve tried.  Most of the tips are good ones – conquering myths about diet and exercise.

Back to the recipe:  The name of the recipe is really what grabbed my attention – thinking if I could recreate a hibachi favorite with my slow cooker, we’d never have to go again.  But the ingredients left me a little skeptical (apple juice?).  Overall, it turned out pretty well – of course not as good as the hibachi restaurant’s though (don’t worry, Benihana’s, we’ll be back).  I also paired the meal with white rice, steamed dumplings (found in the frozen food section), and some vegetable egg rolls from the grocery store’s “market” section.  One thing I’ve discovered about grocery store egg rolls – frozen or refrigerated,  as we’ve tried a couple of brands – they’re never as good as a restaurant’s.  And while I think there was something missing from the pork, the egg rolls are really what left me unsatisfied with the meal.  Just thinking about the pork, if I were giving it a rating, I’d give it 6 out of 10 stars.  I guess it’s about what you’d expect out a “healthified” version of something you love.

Slow-Cooked Pork Teriyaki

  • 3/4 C. unsweetened apple juice
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 3-lb boneless pork loin roast, halved
  • 1/2 tsp cornstach
  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  • Combine all ingredients except pork, cornstarch, and water in a slow cooker.
  • Add pork, turning to coat.
  • Cover and cook for 7 to 8 hours on low (or until thermometer inserted in roast reads 160 degrees).
  • Remove roast and keep warm.
  • In a saucepan, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth (to me, this mixes better if done in a cup then added to the saucepan).
  • Stir in cooking juices; bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  • Serve with the pork roast.

More thoughts from me:  I shredded the pork, mixed it in the sauce, and served on top of white rice; I think I would chop it instead…maybe try searing the roast first too.

Repurposing:  3 pounds of pork is a lot for two people.  The recipe says 8 servings.  After eating it twice, I was ready to do something else with the meat that I didn’t cover in the sauce.  So, here’s some ideas:  Barbeque sandwiches (with coleslaw!); pork tacos (with all those corn tortillas have left over from last week) or similar (enchiladas, burritos, nachos, etc); homemade pork gyoza (steamed dumplings) or egg rolls; baked beans; some sort of shepard’s pie or hearty soup; some sort of breakfast casserole (I’m imagining hash brown, eggs, cheese, pork, peppers, onions).  I have yet to decide how to use our leftovers…maybe egg rolls to keep in the freezer so I don’t have to suffer more bad store bought ones; am I really up for that challenge???

Repurposing Leftovers: Red Beans and Rice in to Bean Burritos

Last week, I made Slow-Cooker Red Beans and Rice, following this Southern Living recipe.  I’ve made this about three times, and it’s always delicious.  The only thing I do differently than the recipe is that since I have trouble finding andouille sausage, I use kielbasa – and I cook that separately in the oven (because it does not hold up in the slow cooker – lesson learned).

This make a lot of beans, so we had quite a bit leftover with no more sausage.  What to do with those beans???

Last night – for my first Meatless Monday – I repurposed them into Bean Burritos, adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe.  I love that she tells you how to freeze these.  As a bonus, I had made a corn side dish to take to a potluck on Easter, and we had some leftovers from that as well that I was able to use.

Here’s my adapted recipe:

Bean Burritos

  • 1/2 C uncooked rice (should make 1 C cooked)
  • 1 C water (or how much according to directions on rice)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • Leftover beans from Red Beans and Rice (I had about 3 C of beans)
  • 1/2 can Enchilada Sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • Leftover corn (recipe includes corn, cream cheese, green chiles, and butter – tried to drain the melted cream cheese from the kernels)
  • 8 Burrito size tortillas (I like Mission’s carb-balance whole wheat ones)
  • 2 C shredded cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Salsa

I used Garlic and onion powders instead of the real things because I was short on time.  I skipped the jalapeno because the beans, cooked in creole seasoning, already had some spice.

  • Add rice, water, cilantro, and lime to sauce pan.  Cook according to directions on rice package.
  • Heat up left over beans in sauce pan;  stir-in enchilada sauce, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  • Heat up leftover corn (if no leftover – follow Martha).
  • Assemble burritos:  lay one tortilla flat; spread 1 Tbsp sour cream down the center (if desired); spread 1/8 C rice over sour cream, followed by 1/3 C +/- bean mixture, and 1/8 C corn; sprinkle on 1/4 C shredded cheese and salsa if desired; fold ends of tortilla, the roll into burrito.
  • Enjoy or freeze for later!

Slow-Cooker Challenge

If you’ve read more than a couple of my blog posts, you’ve probably read about my love of my Crockpot.  I’ve been debating for some time about taking this love to the next level – making one slow cooker meal a week.  Last week, as I prepared a menu for the entire month of April (which I typically only make weekly menus), I decided to incorporate two things:  Meatless Monday and using the slow cooker on my busiest day of week.  Just for fun, I thought I make it a “challenge” for myself for the rest of the year – 39 weeks.  And for even more fun, I thought I’d post it on here, in case anyone else would like to join me!  (I’ve never participated in a blog challenge, let alone create one, and yet, starting today, I am taking on both.  Forgive me if I don’t know what I am doing.)  I know this is a little different from the “organizing my life” that this blog was created for – but it is a step to making my busy life a little less hectic – at least for one meal a week.

slowcookerchallenge

Okay – If you’d like to join in this Slow-Cooker Challenge, here are the rules I’ve made for myself:

Use the Slow Cooker for one meal each week for the remainder of the year.  I don’t care if it is the same day each week, but I am aiming for dinner on Wednesdays since I won’t get home until 7.  There are 39 Wednesday’s left in the year, so that means 39 meals.

One-Pot Meals are not required.  I haven’t tried any of them, but there are lots of recipes for things other than meals – such as desserts and side dishes.  You don’t have to make a “meal” – but you do have to make something in the slow-cooker as part of the meal.

Try different recipes.  I’d like to pretend that I won’t repeat a recipe, but I know there are some that we really like already that I will probably cook more than once.  No big deal – just so long as you don’t end up cooking the same thing every time.

Share a review of your recipe.  I know some recipes are sacred, so you don’t have to share the recipe itself if you don’t want to – but I am interested in what you thought about what you cooked.  I’ll be posting my reviews on Fridays; if you’re a blogger, write a post about the dish and link it up in the comments section of my weekly review.  If you’re not a blogger, you can still participate – just share a short review in my comments section.

Since I am mostly doing this for myself – to not feel so rushed on Wednesdays when I’d like to start going to Zumba after work – if I meet this challenge every week, I will be rewarding myself.  My reward is yet to be determined – maybe a new cookbook or some smaller clothes because I lost some weight with Zumba :-).  I am sure there are other similar challenges out in the blog world (though I couldn’t really find one, but didn’t do the most thorough search), so to entice you to join in with me, I am offering a random giveaway at the end of the challenge.  It will be more than just a cookbook; I have some fun ideas but I’m not quite sure what it will be just yet…

The giveaway will happen the first week of January 2014.  Entries into the giveaway are as follows:

  • 1 Entry per week for every recipe you make, review, and share in my comments.
  • 1 Additional Entry per week if it’s a “new” recipe that you make, review, and share in my comments. “New” means that you have not made it in one of the previous weeks.  It can be something you’ve made before, but not something you’ve made during this challenge; it can be something that someone else has made during the challenge, but you have not.
  • 3 Entries (one time) if you comment below “Challenge Accepted” and share at least one review during the time of the challenge.
  • 4 Entries (one time) if you share the Slow Cooker Challenge logo on your blog (and you link me to your blog in the comments below).

My first post will be Friday, April 5th, so be sure to check in on Fridays to share your reviews.  Your post can be made any time during the week (Sunday to Saturday of the week of the Friday of each post) – but please link me to it in the comments on my Friday posts.  The challenge ends December 31st, 2013, and since you can earn points weekly, it’s never too late to join in (except of course after December 31st of this year)!

SlowCooker Thai Chicken and Vegetables

Dear Crockpot, my love for you never fails.  You work hard all day, cooking dinner while we are at work.  By the time I come home, the house is filled with a lovely aroma, and dinner is ready to be devoured by my hungry husband.  Thank you for your hard work.

Yesterday, I made Thai Chicken and Vegetables for dinner in the Crockpot.  My husband and I love Thai food, but there is not a Thai restaurant in the city where we live.  There are 15 pages of restaurants in the phone book, a plethora of hamburger and pizza joints, but not a single one that offers authentic Thai cuisine.

Not that I can promise this recipe is authentic Thai….but it is delicious!

Slower Cooker Thai Chicken and Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 Can (13.6 oz) Light Coconut Milk
  • 7 tsp Red Curry Paste, divided
  • 1.5 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 large head Cauliflower (I used a whole small head)
  • 1 Lb Potatoes
  • 1 med Red Pepper
  • 2 med Carrots
  • 1.5 Lbs Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 C Cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Scallions, chopped
  • 1 Lime, cut into 6 wedges
  • 2 Tbsp Peanuts (I used 2 Tbsp per serving…)

Directions

  • In slowcooker, mix coconut milk, 4 tsp curry paste, and salt until blended.
  • Wash, peel, and chop veggies (cauliflower, potatoes, red pepper, and carrots) so that the pieces are similar size; add to slow cooker and stir to coat veggies in coconut mixture.
  • If the chicken breasts are large, cut them in half to assure they will cook thoroughly; rub 2 tsp curry paste on chicken and place on top of veggies.
  • Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.
  • Remove chicken and chop or shred; set aside.
  • Stir peanut butter and 1 tsp curry paste into slow cooker until blended – being careful not to smash the veggies.
  • Add chicken back to the slow cooker, along with cilantro and scallions.
  • Serve, topping with 1 lime wedge and 1 tsp peanuts (or 2 Tbsp as I did…)

1 serving is about 1.5 C; recipe makes 6 servings.

Couple of Notes

  • If you’re in to Weight Watchers, each serving is 5 original Points (6 if you add more peanuts like I did); 8 PointsPlus.
  • I usually cook chicken on low for 7-8 hours; since the veggies would get too mushy if cooked that long, I added the tip about cutting the chicken if the breasts are large.  I had to cook them a little longer in the oven because I did not do this.
  • I love cilantro and would add more.  If you’re not a fan of cilantro, it didn’t overpower the dish, so don’t be afraid of it.

Repurposing Leftovers: Boiled Potatoes to Potato Soup

After a few days of cramming for my ARE exam and eating away from home because I couldn’t spare the time to cook (or clean for that matter), I was ready for both to be over.   My exam was Monday (won’t find out if I passed for 3 to 6 weeks….), so back to our regular schedule.

One of those crazy stressed out days of studying I did manage to set up the Crockpot for a stress-free meal at home.   I made Crockpot Roast with potatoes and carrots.  There are several variations of this, but the staples of the recipe are roast, potatoes, carrots, and a sauce of at least Lipton Onion dry Soup Mix, cream of mushroom soup and water.  I admittedly didn’t pay much attention when I was peeling and washing potatoes, but after all the roast and carrots were gone, we still had a ton of leftover potatoes.

What to do with leftover cooked potatoes?  Last night I made them into Loaded Potato Soup.

I started with a recipe I found at Skinnytaste.com, then modified it a bit.  I was happy with the way it turned out.  Here’s my soup recipe:

  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Onion – chopped
  • Leftover potatoes, mashed – estimating 1.5C mashed
  • 1 ½ C Milk
  • 1 ½ C Chicken Broth
  • ½ C Sour Cream
  • Salt and Pepper – I go light on the salt, heavy on the pepper – my preference
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • Bacon – fried and crumbled – for topping
  • Shredded Cheddar for topping

 

  • Melt butter in large pot over medium heat.
  • Sautee onions in butter until transparent.
  • Add leftover potatoes, milk, and chicken broth; bring to a boil.
  • The original recipe said to use an immersion blender to blend soup.  I don’t have one, so I just used my potato masher to smash them a little more.
  • Add salt, pepper, oregano and sour cream; simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Serve and top with bacon and shredded cheddar (and chives, but I didn’t have any).

 

A couple of other options for repurposing I looked into were mashed potato casserole, salmon and potato cakes (wasn’t too sure about that combo) or potato salad…but I love soup, so it won.