Some Food Fun on Valentine’s Day

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY to all! 

 Many couples celebrate this day by going out to eat at a fancy restaurant, however this year we decided to spend some quiet time at home, just the two of us.  Our daughter is away at college.  I sent her a nice “care package” last week filled with lots of goodies for the holiday to let her know we miss her. 010

 

Since we were staying home, I thought I’d have a little fun with food today.  Instead of making the same old thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I thought I’d play around in the kitchen.  Okay, so the food wasn’t really gourmet fare, but it was fun to make, healthy to eat and totally satisfying (especially the dessert!)

 Happy banana strawberry smoothie

A strawberry-banana smoothie was perfect for breakfast.  Even the food was smiling (before I wielded my paring knife!)  Made with non-fat yogurt and a drizzle of Agave, this frothy breakfast was delicious, filling and less than 300 calories (based on an average serving.)

 

By the time lunch came along, we weren’t that hungry.  I had some cantaloupe chunks and walnut halves while I made my husband a nice little turkey sandwich on toasted whole wheat bread with a mug of hot skim chocolate milk.    

 

???????????????????????????????For dinner, I decided to make a Shrimp and Broccoli dish which was delicious, easy to prepare and wholesome.  I served the shrimp over a bed of brown rice and a small green salad with lemon squeeze on the side to round out the meal.  Before marinating the shrimp for about 15 minutes in a mixture of soy, garlic and ginger, I put together another heart-shaped happy face for the holiday!

 

???????????????????????????????Being Valentine’s Day, I decided to splurge on dessert and make some of my husband’s favorite cookies, Mint Chocolate Chip, as I spelled out a loving message.  A couple of these delightful chocolate sensations with a nice warm cup of tea really hit the spot.  We plan to spend the remainder of the evening relaxing by the fire. 

 I hope everyone gave and received lots of love today.  And if you have pets, I hope you gave them lots of extra love today too!  Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers, you know…

From CameraPhone 008

“We love the things we love for what they are.” ~ Robert Frost

Surviving Intense Cardio – Turbo Fire-Day 1

“Endurance is patience concentrated.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

turbofire into the pit

Today I began my metamorphosis – from a slightly round to what I hope will be a slimmer, firmer woman, full of more energy than I’ll know what to do with! This afternoon I attempted my first Turbo Fire workout. Here’s what it should have looked like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Um-IViGL6M

In actuality, I’m surprised I made it through alive! Really though, it’s a challenging workout not only because of all the jumping, punching and twisting, but the sequences change quickly, a little too quickly. I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was so I’m starting off this week, at least until Sunday, practicing only, according to the Class Schedule included with the program. I’ll begin my OFFICIAL workout, you know, the one that lasts the full 90 days, this coming Monday.

stretchingSorry, but the holidays threw me off course a little and I like to begin new things at the beginning, which will be MONDAY. Additionally, I’m taking a huge leap and recording my workouts for posterity, maybe uploading them to my YouTube account. Hopefully my sessions will be safe to upload, meaning my cursing won’t be audible and I don’t kill myself in the process. Trust me, for someone who spends too much time in front of the computer and not enough time “getting physical,” this workout is a killer!

I’m looking forward to seeing how tomorrow’s routine appears on video. Why, you ask? I’m a glutton for punishment. (I’ll post it here as well.) What I’m actually interested in is seeing my first days’ routines compared to my last few; my metamorphosis! Okay, maybe the difference won’t be that drastic but I certainly expect to see some change in appearance. Hopefully the change won’t include a leg cast or back brace.

Here are my meals for Day 1: They were a little different from the plan suggestions, but in line with the type of foods I will be eating on a regular basis. I’m using an online Fitness Tracker to record my meals, calories, exercise, measurements, etc. That’s almost a full-time job; wish I were getting paid for this semi-torture…

DAY 1

Breakfast:  Light Whole Grain English Muffin w/1 tsp. peanut butter, ½ banana
Snack 1:  6 walnut halves, 3 almonds, 4 oz. fat-free Greek yogurt
Lunch:  Salad w/romaine lettuce, celery and plum tomato, 4 oz. water packed tuna, drained, 2 Tbsp. fat-free dressing
Snack 2:  ½ banana, 2 oz. fat-free Greek yogurt
Dinner:  3 slices turkey breast, steamed broccoli w/lemon

I’m hungry; can’t deny it.  This too shall pass.  Can’t wait till my head hits the pillow tonight!

A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish ~ Antoine de Saint Exupery

First, I’d like to apologize to any readers who may have noticed I’ve been somewhat sidetracked lately.  This blog is about living life to its full potential.  Occasionally other passions put me off target.  Having said that, I’m back to writing about things in my life which I have limited control over but are important to me: love, family, good health, proper nutrition and exercise, fond memories, good friends, spirituality, adventure and community.

 Notice I did not mention weather.  We were hit with another Nor’easter today; however it’s not nearly as bad as the hurricane was.  Our first snow fell this afternoon and actually the sight of white snow blanketing our green lawn and orange pumpkins was quite pretty.  Pretty does not mean I want it to linger; I hope it will melt soon.

Now back to concentrating on the next meal plan I’m going to tackle.  I’ve done quite a bit of research and found a site (U.S. World and News Report) that summarizes some of the best plans to date.  I’ve decided to try the TLC Plan (#2).  Notice the numbers at the end of each diet indicating whether or not people found the plan to be effective.  Of the first ten diets, only three, 2 Vegetarian and Weight Watchers, had more positive feedback than the others.

 The remaining 15 on the list, which I am not illustrating here, were:

  • Eco-Atkins Diet                      Abs Diet
  • Flat Belly Diet                         Medifast
  • Jenny Craig                             Nutrisystem
  • Macrobiotic Diet                    Glycemic Index Diet
  • South Beach Diet                   Atkins Diet
  • Raw Food Diet                        Paleo Diet
  • Slim-Fast Diet                        Dukan Diet
  • Zone Diet

The challenge for me is finding a plan I believe I can stick with.  If I have to avoid a certain type of food that I’ve enjoyed all my life, it will only make me crave it more.  That’s part of my addictive personality I suppose.  Of more concern is trying to find a plan which my husband can manage, as he needs to keep his cholesterol under control.  As it is, convincing him to eat more fruits and vegetables will be no easy task.

Here is an overview of the TLC Diet:

  • Type: Low-fat.
  • The aim: Cutting high cholesterol.
  • The claim: You’ll lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol by 8 to 10 percent in six weeks.
  • The theory: Created by the National Institutes of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program, the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet (TLC) is endorsed by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy regimen that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cutting back sharply on fat, particularly saturated fat, (think fatty meat, whole-milk dairy, and fried foods), strictly limiting daily dietary cholesterol intake and getting more fiber, can help people manage high cholesterol, often without medication.

Our goals are to both lower LDL and lose weight.  Therefore, I’m planning daily caloric intake of approximately 1,800-2,000 for my husband and 1,200-1,300 for me.  Saturated fat intake will be less than 7 percent of daily calories and no more than 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day.  On TLC, we’ll be eating lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, fish, and skinless poultry.  I’ll be working with a dietitian to formulate daily meals that are feasible for our lifestyles as well as working in an appropriate exercise schedule we both can enjoy.

The goal is to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 8-10 percent and lose between 10-20 lbs. within six weeks.  At least with this plan, we’re in it together.  I won’t have to prepare separate meals all the time.  My biggest challenge is being creative; incorporating fruits and vegetables into meals without being obvious. 

I have a few more days to prepare my meals and get ready to begin anew on Sunday.  Thank goodness for whiteboards; they’ll come in handy to chart daily meals and weight loss.  I’m looking forward to engaging in another plan which will help encourage healthy eating and physical exercise.  Time to get out the ball, band and weights again!  Just as long as I don’t have to get out the shovel…yet.

“To lengthen your life, shorten your meals.” ~ Proverb

Gluten Free – Not Really For Me

I concluded my three week experiment with a gluten-free food plan this past weekend.  Although my intentions were admirable and motivation commendable, this program did not meet my expectations.  The purpose of selecting a gluten-free diet was twofold: to eliminate some irregularities in my digestive system and to lose weight.  While I was able to lose a few pounds within the three weeks, there was no significant change to my sporadic abdominal discomfort.  The discomfort wasn’t painful, only occasionally bothersome.

 The plan was not an entire disappointment however.  Some of the enjoyable parts of this trial were investigating cooking with different foods, learning to eat only at certain times utilizing healthy snacks in-between meals and realizing what my physical thresholds are.  Alternately I discovered that gluten-free products are expensive and not always tasty (sweet).  If indeed I was tested and diagnosed with celiac disease, I would search out health food stores or online sites to purchase gluten-free products at a lower cost than what the average supermarket charges.  I would also learn how to bake gluten-free desserts to satisfy my sweet tooth, which I did not do during this project.  Fortunately, that won’t be necessary at this stage and I applaud those who are afflicted with this ailment and may have to go through a lot of trouble planning meals they can enjoy. 

 With the knowledge I learned about a gluten-free lifestyle, I have a better understanding of how certain foods interact with the body, what to avoid and what I can indulge a little in.  Some of the new foods I tried and enjoyed were quinoa, avocados and soba noodles. 

It was suggested by two family members to try either the Forks over Knives or Paleo diets.  The Forks Over Knives diet is a whole-food plant-based plan with restrictions of animal-based and processed foods.  Yikes, no meat?  I’m not sure about that one.  I’ve always been a “meat and potatoes” type of gal and not sure I can switch to becoming somewhat of a vegetarian.

According to thepaleodiet.com website, on the Paleo diet, you are permitted “fresh meats (preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and game meat, if you can get it), fish, seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and healthful oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed). Dairy products, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars and processed foods were not part of our ancestral menu.”  Hooray, I can eat meat on this plan…oh, but no sugars? 

Well, since I’m into researching food plans, I’m off to the library for some books on both and checking out a few of the top-rated websites that boast these two diets.  I also plan to investigate opposing views to these plans.  I’m not sure which plan, if either, I’ll choose for my next experiment but no doubt it will be fun to move on to something new.  In the meantime, I’ll try and stick with avoiding fattening foods and sweets which will be challenging; Halloween is next week and I don’t give out apples!

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” ~ W. C. Fields

Gluten-Free Recap Week 1

Well, the first week, actually 10 days of my Gluten-Free meal plan has been okay.  I’m getting used to not eating breads which truthfully, bothers me.  I am a carb addict and have had some form of bread with my coffee every morning for decades.  Having yogurt with or without fruit in the morning or the occasional eggs does not make me a happy camper.  But I’m managing.

I am including two parts of my meal plan to date.  One is the 7 Day Menu and the other is a list of recipes.  Please Note:  After speaking with my dietitian, we agreed upon the Eating Well 1200 Calorie Menu each week for 3 weeks.  This is a plan I obtained from their website, www.EatingWell.com.   I have not made all the recipes yet but have stuck to the basics of the plan.  The meals have been tasty but I’ve tweated them somewhat, depending on my own tastes and what I’ve had on hand.  Two pounds lighter, I still feel I’m missing something.  My digestive problems have not ceased although they have not worsened, and maybe got a little better.  Could it be I’m waiting for that “aha” moment?  I’m not sure.

In any event, here is the plan I’m following.  Check it out or others on the website I mentioned.  I’ve done the footwork for you; putting the recipes in one place.  Feel free to let me know if anything appeals to you or if you have other suggestions.  

Later this week, I’ll increase my exercise a bit.  Halloween decorating and classwork has me a little preoccupied.  Trying to fit everything into my day can be daunting.  I vascillate between wanting to do so much and not wanting to do anything…I suppose I’m not unique.

Tonight, I’m taking a break and watching the Yankees!  Good times with my DH!  Looking forward to a nice, relaxing evening for a change.  Hope you have the same!

7Day Gluten-free Menu

Gluten Free 1200 Calorie Recipes

BTW, since I’m new to WordPress, if any of you techies have a better way for me to post recipes, I’d be thankful for advice!