My Blog List

Saturday, December 31, 2011

25th Year College reunion- really? just can't be possible.  I received an invitation last week to attend my 25th year college reunion at my alma mater. It brings to mind the Talking Heads song I remember so well from the 1980's, "Once in a Lifetime".  Sometimes I have to pinch myself and ask "Well how did I get here?".  I don't feel like I am 46, let alone 4 years from the big 50.  I know when I graduated from college I thought people in their forties were, well...old. 

So how does my life stack up to where I thought I would be at this age?

On a positive note, I am at peace with myself at my current weight. I feel well and have been making the effort to exercise and stay physically fit. This helps me to cope better with stress and feel comfortable with my body.

I was fortunate to have met the love of my life the year I graduated from college and have been married 23 years.  Our children are growing up fast.  Our oldest daughter will be starting college in the fall of 2012. So yes, I did imagine that at my age I would be happily married with children.

Looking ahead, here are some things I would like to accomplish sometime during the next 20 years.  Yes, I will dare to dream.

Live in a foreign country.

Visit a haunted hotel.

Travel to Australia.

Take a cruise to Hawaii.

Take a road trip with friends.

Learn to Scuba Dive.

Go on an African safari.

Big dream - to own and manage a gym.

Build my dream house in a warm and sunny location.

Plan a reunion with my friends from college.

And how about you, what are some of your dreams and aspirations for the future?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Multi Grain Hot Cereal (Crockpot)

I wanted to prepare a healthy whole grain cereal in the crockpot.  This is a recipe adapted from the Complete Whole Grains Cookbook by Judith Finlayson.  I modified the recipe to give it more flavor.  It was a little bland so I added natural applesauce and additional fresh cut apples.  It is very healthy and easy to prepare.

Multi Grain Hot Cereal Recipe

1/2 cup brown rice, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup wheat berries
1/2 cup steel cut oats
5 and 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
23 oz. jar of natural applesauce
1/4 cup sugar or preferred sweetener to taste ( I only added about 1/8 cup)


Combine all the ingredients in a lightly greased crockpot.

Cook on low overnight for about 6 hours or on the high setting for 4 hours.

In the last hour of cooking, add dried fruits such as raisins or cranberries.  I added raisins which worked out well in the recipe.

Nutritional information per serving:

Yield - 5 servings
Approximate calories per serving - 230
Dietary Fiber 5.7 grams
Protein 5.5 grams

Monday, December 26, 2011

My painful memories of being overweight

My weight loss journey helped to restore my confidence and self esteem.  I can only hope by sharing my story I might move past that period in my life when I was not taking very good care of myself.  I was struggling to adjust to the dark long days of a typical Buffalo winter after moving from Virginia.  For me solace was found in comfort foods.  I will not post a picture or share the amount of weight I had lost.  Only that it was a very difficult and emotionally painful period for me.  I no longer would recognize that woman, a shade of my former self.  It has been 4 years since I have lost the weight, and I have no doubt that I will never let my emotions control my relationship with food again.

My husband says, how do you know that, how can you be so sure of what the future holds? I can only say this, and maybe someone else out there knows where I am coming from.  When I look at old pictures of myself, it takes me to a place I never want to go again.  I can't do it again, I have found an inner peace I have never known before.  My emotions no longer drive my relationship with food.  I will tell you this, I found the habits which drove my compulsion much more difficult to control when I was eating the wrong foods.  A big change I have made is give up eating junk and surgary snack foods.  End of story, that is how I did it.  Another thing I credit with my transformation is making the time for exercise.  I've always enjoyed exercising and working out, but being a busy Mom made the choice to be active a much more challenging proposition.

For most of my life I had not seriously struggled with my weight.  I put on most, if not all of the weight shortly after I moved to the Buffalo area.  Seasonal depression is a very serious condition.  Don't brush it off, I know from personal experience how difficult it can be.  I have learned how to cope, going to the gym and staying active in my community has helped me tremendously. You don't have to face it alone.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Crustless Broccoli Cheese Quiche

I wanted to prepare a healthy brunch for my family on Christmas Day. I made a crustless quiche and served it with Whole Wheat English Muffins. This quiche serves 6 at approximately 111 calories per serving.  My previous blog post has the recipe for the whole wheat english muffins.

Broccoli Cheese Crustless Quiche

2 cups chopped Broccoli
1/4 chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped green peppers
Vegetable oil
8 oz. shredded fat free cheddar cheese (I used Kraft Fat free cheddar and some part skim mozzarella)
1 and 1/2 cups lowfat milk
4 eggs
1/4 tsp dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste
sprinkle of parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Saute broccoli, onions, and green peppers in vegetable oil until tender over medium heat.
Use a non stick spray to coat a 9 inch deep dish pie pan. Spread the vegetables on the bottom of the pan. Spread the shredded cheddar cheese over the broccoli, peppers and onions.
In a bowl whisk or blend the 4 eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk, dry mustard, salt, pepper, and parsley. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place the quiche on the center rack of the oven.
Begin checking for doneness after 30 minutes. You want the outside to be done so that a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The center will be soft. The quiche will continue to cook after it is removed from the center of the oven. Keep checking the oven periodically until it is done.

Remove from the oven. The quiche can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Yield: 5-6 servings

Whole Wheat English Muffins

I was looking for whole wheat bread to serve with a crustless quiche. This english muffin recipe was very tasty and not too difficult to prepare. The recipe yields 12 english muffins. About 212 calories per muffin as prepared.

Whole Wheat English Muffins

1 cup milk warmed until barely bubbling
2 TBS. honey
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, just warm to the touch
1/4 cup vegetable oil
About 5 cups whole wheat flour
Use up to 1 cup all purpose flour for a lighter muffin. I used only a sprinkle as I prefer to stick with whole wheat flour.
1 tsp. salt

Combine the warm milk and honey in a stand mixer and stir until dissolved. In a seperate bowl dissolve the yeast in warm water. Let stand for about 10 minutes until creamy.

Add yeast mixture, oil, and three cups of the flour to the milk. Attach the dough hook to your stand mixer and beat at low speed until mostly smooth. You can successfully hand mix the dough if necessary. Add the flour in 1/2 cup increments until a soft dough is formed. The dough has the right amount of flour once it forms into a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl. It will take a few minutes for the flour to successfully combine and be incorporated in the dough.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about an hour until it has doubled in size.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour. Sprinkle waxed paper with cornmeal. Punch down the dough and move to the floured surface. Cut the dough into 12 pieces and roll the pieces into a ball and place on the waxed paper with cornmeal. Space each ball about 3 inches apart. Slightly flatten the dough balls and sprinkle with cornmeal. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a lightly greased griddle to the medium heat setting. Dust excess cornmeal off of the muffins and place on the griddle. Cook until a deep brown color is reached on each side. Approximately 5-7 minutes on each side. Place the muffins on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes or until the edges are firm.

Cool and toast before serving.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cardamon Citrus Salad

I recently purchased oranges and grapefruits from a friend for a fundraiser and wanted to make a fruit salad for my family to enjoy. This recipe brought out the natural flavors of the fruit and the cardamon added just the perfect amount of spice and flavor. I was in sticker shock over the high price of the ground cardamon spice at the supermarket ($13). I purchased green cardamon pods in the international section of my local market and ground it myself as it was less than half the price. In a saucepan on medium heat I sauteed 6 pods for about 3 minutes. I mashed the pods on a cutting board with a potato masher and carefully removed the seeds. I placed the mashed seeds in a coffee grinder and ground it up until it was fine. This is the amount I used in the following recipe.

There are about 250 calories in 1/4 cup of honey. Honey helps to build immunity against illness. It is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Honey is high in vitamin C, a variety of B vitamins, and also A1, D and E.

Cardamon Citrus Salad

2 large ruby pink grapefruit
6 navel oranges
1/4 cup honey
4 TBS. fresh lime or lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon (or 6 pods green cardamon ground)

Peel and section the fruit and place in a bowl. Drain the excess juice from the bowl and pour into a saucepan. Add the lemon or lime juice, honey, and cardamon to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool to room temperature. Pour over fruit mixture and gently stir to coat the fruit. Let stand for 15 minutes or chill until ready to serve. Yield approximately 6 to 8 servings.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Challenges of Holiday Parties and Get Togethers

This is definitely the most challenging time of year for those of us trying to stay fit and healthy. If the temptation of holiday treats wasn't bad enough, this is also when our kids are most likely to get sick and expose our families to colds, the flu, and viruses. Holiday get togethers and parties represent a tremendous challenge to our willpower and self control. Especially on occasions where you are the guest and must selectively decide which foods and or drinks to try.

Tomorrow evening is the annual Christmas party for my husband's office. It is a wonderfully planned event every year and I am looking forward to it. It will be held at a local science museum and the food will be catered. My approach every year is to be mindful of my choices so I will enjoy myself, but not be overindulgent. What I usually try to keep in mind is to eat and drink in moderation. Otherwise I will wake up the next morning feeling defeated, and when I step on the scale, frustrated. Before the big event, I will eat a healthy lunch and drink plenty of water. When the hors d'oeuvres make their rounds, I will look for the healthier choices such as fruit cocktail, shrimp cocktail, or fresh cut vegetables. I will enjoy the main course, and yes, I selected the filet mignon and not the vegetarian entree. I skip the dessert because for me it always spells trouble with a capital "T". This is the approach which works best for me. What is the most challenging aspect of the holiday season for you?

Here are some suggestions on how to lighten up your holiday meal.

Try using greek yogurt in your dips or as a healthier topping for baked potato.

Substitute skim milk for whole milk in mashed potatoes and add just enough butter for flavor.

Serve fresh cut celery and carrot sticks as an appetizer.

Make a healthy vegetable soup to serve before the big meal.

Serve a healthy fruit salad as a dessert option for guests who prefer to avoid sweets.

Avoid heavy creamy sauces for pasta in casseroles and try substituting whole grain noodles for regular to add more fiber.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Whole Wheat Waffles Recipe

I tried this Whole Wheat Waffle recipe and it was delicious. For toppings I added fresh cut strawberries and blueberries and sugar free syrup. My family enjoyed them as well, even my son who is a very fussy eater.

Whole Wheat Waffles Recipe

1 and 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar (I used Splenda)
1 large egg
1 and 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat waffle iron while you make the batter. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a seperate bowl whisk together the egg, milk, and oil. Mix together the milk mixture with the dry ingredients until combined. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Yield- 4 standard size waffles.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Thoughts on Goals and Resolutions for 2012

I can't believe it's that time of year again. It is almost time to usher in the new year and say farewell to 2011. This has been a great year. I am back to work again after being a stay at home Mom to my 3 children for 13 years. It feels great to be out in the working world. I have a renewed sense of accomplishment and purpose. Of course in life nothing is ever perfect, and I have started to think about my goals and ambitions for the year ahead.

A helpful way to start the process is to begin answering questions which will help you focus on those areas where you would like to make some improvements.

What changes could you make in your diet to help you feel better and eat healthier?

Are there fitness challenges that you are facing which you would like to overcome?

What are some of your greatest personal weaknesses and have you thought about strategies to overcome them?

What are some areas in your life in which you might benefit by becoming more organized?

Are there some areas in which training or education might help you to improve your prospects at work?

One goal I have for 2012 is that I would like to hire a personal fitness trainer. I enjoy weight training but I am a little intimidated to join in the "Body Pump" class which my gym offers. It would help to have guidance on how best to workout with the free weights. I have also given thought to becoming a licensed physical trainer and it would be educational for me to see what a typical training session is like. I am hoping working with someone might challenge and motivate me to get the most from my workouts.

My other goal this year is to try to become more organized at home so that I will make more effective use of my time. This has become increasingly difficult now that I am back to work and I have more competing demands on my free time. The biggest challenge is staying organized enough so that I continue to find the time to exercise regularly.

What are some of your goals for the new year?