Thursday, September 8, 2011


I lost another 1.something lbs to be down an even 14 total--just 3 lbs away from where I was pre-remodel.  Not sure how this week will go.  TONS of leftovers.  Mostly carbs.  I am 100% positive I both feel better and lose more weight when I limit my carbs.  Next week, I will plan accordingly!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'm a loser.

of 2.7 lbs, that is.  Yes, it is good to be back on the correct side of weight loss.  I've lost a total of 12.4 lbs, which still isn't the 17 I HAD lost but at least I'm headed back in the right direction.

Life is busy and I was very uninspired this week, so meals are kind of blah.  Monday (yesterday) I actually was bad and had the crust of my daughter's pbj (school lunch) for "dinner" and then had chocolate cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting at a meeting (so worth it!).  Tonight we are supposed to have turkey tacos.  I will have a taco salad to avoid the taco shell points.  Wednesday is the usual leftover night, so I'll find something to eat that is either leftovers or some sort of "diet" frozen meal.  Thursday we'll have pork chops, and Friday I'm thinking chicken sausages on the grill.

I love chicken sausages.  3 pts without a bun and they taste good.  And they're easy.

Since my school has started I'm thinking I may need to make 2-3 weeks worth of menus for "warm" weather, then 2-3 of "cool" weather menus, and just rotate them.  It would be easy, spaced out enough that we don't get bored, and the shopping list would just be ready to go.  I'll get right on that, after I stop procrastinating doing my school reading. :)

Hope you're having a good week!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Slight Deviation.

I thought I'd mention here that I've become a Barefoot Books Ambassador.  My kids had been given a couple of Barefoot's books in the past, and I was very impressed with their quality.  Since joining the company, I have been overwhelmed by how thoughtful, well-written, and beautifully illustrated their books really are.  The company emphasizes multiculturalism and diversity and features stories from around the world, as well as more traditional stories.  This fall they are launching an easy reader series as well as more challenging titles for advanced readers.

Clicking on the graphic above will take you to the Barefoot website, where you can browse their collection and place an order.  If you use code AMBTEN when you check out, you'll get 10% off your order, and shipping is free for orders over $60.  Let me know if you'd like suggestions!

On the diet front, day one of counting points is going well.  Only 4 million to go!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back to School Week--and back to points!

Next week I'm counting points for the first time since . . . probably since we started our remodel.  It's also the little geek's first week of Kindergarten, and we have lots of other things going on as always.  For that reason, all of this week's dinners are super easy and may not really be that low-point, but I'll compensate by being reasonable during the day and using my weekly points.

I also have a really organized, easy to use pantry now, which means I've discovered lots of stuff in there I need to use.  For some reason, I owned a lot of lasagna noodles.  I'm trying to find a lower-point use for them this week.  I made one low-point recipe, but The Big Geek rejected it (and honestly, it was not tasty).

Monday:  Crock Pot Pulled Pork Sandwiches.  4 pts for filling, then add pts for bread/buns/cole slaw as needed.  Spray with cooking spray, chop an onion, and throw in a pork tenderloin.  Cover it with a bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce (check individual point values).
Tuesday:  Chicken with Orzo and Dill.  9 pts for a big serving.
Wednesday: Big Geek is out, so we eat leftovers.
Thursday:  Stovetop Lasagna.  11-ish.  I'm working on making up this recipe so I'll post results and the actual recipe if it works out.  I am going to try to decrease the points, maybe by cutting down on the ground turkey or something.  We'll see how it goes.  I want to use up all the broken lasagna pieces!
Friday:  Out at an event.
Saturday: Out, friend's birthday dinner
Sunday:  Big Geek is firing up the smoker.

Obviously, even with a kitchen this week has challenges, but I think that counting points will make me be more mindful of what I eat during the day and help me lose weight even with all the challenges.  I am really looking forward to getting into a routine and making healthier meals.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Remodel is finished.

My remodel is finally done.  It feels like it took forever, but the important thing is it is finished and looks great.  (See?)  I was hoping for 3 weeks or so to get back in the swing of things before school starts, but alas, that is not to be, as school starts Monday for the little geek and Wednesday for me.

The final tally is that I gained back 7 lbs, but have kept 10 off.  Not as bad as it could be, but not great.  I start counting points again on Monday, so expect a menu on Sunday for the coming week!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Remodel. SIGH.

The remodel is well underway.  We have no kitchen--as in no sink, no stove, no oven, no cabinets.  Lots of convenience food, take out, and eating out.  Plus it's kind of stressful to be stuck in half your house spending what feels like a huge amount of money, and still trying to deal with real life.

Which is all to say, that thus far, I've gained back about 5 lbs.

My counselor suggested that my goal for this time period should just be to maintain.  Which I think is a more realistic goal than continuing weight loss.  But I'm not doing a very good job of that.  Mostly, it's my fault.  I am not really counting points.  And I'm just eating what is around without stopping to think of better options.  I am hoping I can reverse this trend as soon as possible, but honestly, I'm feeling pretty discouraged.  Because once the kitchen is done, I'll have a short amount of time before my semester begins, and my daughter goes off to Kindergarten and my son is in preschool and I am B.U.S.Y. with all of that.  Basically, there will always be stress and an excuse.  And I know that when I get stressed, I fall off the wagon.  What I don't know is how to stop myself from doing that.  Hypnosis?  Wire my jaw shut?

But I have a lot to go think about and figure out regarding the remodel, so I can't spend a ton of time here trying to figure out my crazy brain.

I think a good resolution to take, though, is that when the kitchen is finished, I will not put anything unhealthy in it.  If I'm going to fall off the wagon, it's going to be outside my home.  If I could just do that, I think it would make a big difference.

I was at a family member's vacation house last weekend and did some cooking.  Here are a few things I enjoyed:

Spiced Orange Salad   I know it sounds weird, but it is really good.  My version did not have curry powder because I couldn't find any in the house.

Mayo-free potato salad  I may have posted a link to this before.  It is good.  Instead of mayo, this salad has a tangy vinaigrette dressing.  Dress the potatoes while they are still hot so that the dressing gets absorbed, and also make sure you drain the potatoes well.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken  The recipe calls for boneless thighs, but we used drumsticks without the skin, and they were good.  You could use breasts, too.

Also, a friend of mine was there and she made the best salads.  I think the secrets were:  she included fresh herbs with the greens, and she dressed the salad herself with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, just tasting until she was happy with the results.  Plus lots of really good, fresh produce.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Keep on moving in this direction, scale!

Last week I lost 2.8 lbs for a total of 17.4.  I did not track my points closely, just tried eating my planned meals as much as possible and not going crazy.  There was one insane day where I didn't manage to eat until dinner, and I was starving (I may have had breakfast, I can't remember, but if so it was 4 pts).  I had time to eat around 4 but by then I didn't want to wreck dinner so just waited.

At any rate I can't keep doing stuff like that, even though it seems to work in terms of weight loss.  Sometimes things with 2 kids just get so crazy and I have so much to do with the remodel that I just don't get a chance to sit down and eat.  Of course, usually later on I'm starving and eat everything in sight, so it's not something I want to let happen very often.  That night, because people were coming for dinner, I managed to be mostly reasonable and not feel guilty about having dessert.

Also:  I wore a pair of pants I haven't worn since my son was born!  They were tight and a good 2 inches of granny panty undies sticks up all around them, but I got them on!  They are just one size smaller than the jeans I bought right before starting this diet, but those jeans have never fit quite right anyhow and now they kind of fall off.  I had 2 pairs of jeans that fit really well but apparently they are old and developed holes in unfixable places, so I was kind of stuck.  Then I remembered the pre-son jeans and decided to try them.  I'm glad I did, because I really did not want to buy new jeans.  Now, when I get into my post-daughter, pre-miscarriage jeans I'll be REALLY excited, because those were the smallest jeans I'd worn in a while.  Heck, I'll just be excited when I can breathe in the pre-son jeans. :)

So, this week is going to be insane.  My kitchen is being torn out either Tuesday or Wednesday (things keep getting pushed back, but I hear this is normal, and there's no point in tearing out the kitchen if the electrician can't be here until Thursday).  I will plan to cook tonight and (if possible) Tuesday just to stock up on leftovers.  I need to look up points on my grilling recipes since we'll be relying on the grill and crock pot a lot for the next 2 months or so.  I'm sure we'll also eat out more than we should, which will make this tricky. 

My favorite thing from last week--well, it's a tie, actually.  I loved the brussels sprouts (although I burned them), the carne bistec, and Curried Quinoa with Chicken and Peas that I ended up making instead of the chicken roll-up things I'd planned and will now eat tonight.

So, my menu for the week will depend on whether the kitchen tear-out is tomorrow or Wednesday (I hope Wednesday).  My thoughts are chicken rollatini, depends on kitchen, pulled pork (must calculate points), flank steak, and more grilled stuff (how's that for specific?).  I'm off to browse Gina's recipes for crock pot/grilling ideas. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011


According to the WW website, I have now hit my first goal of losing 15 lbs!  In reality, I've lost 14.6 lbs, but we're calling it good and I'm going to celebrate as the website suggests.  How?  I have no idea, but let's hope it's NOT by eating a giant piece of chocolate cake. :)

Interesting fun fact:  I weigh slightly less in my bathroom than I do in my kitchen.  I assume this has to do with the type of flooring or something, but I tried it this week since this time next week my kitchen will be about to be torn apart, so weighing on that floor will no longer be possible, and by the time it IS possible it will be a different floor.  I was .4 lbs heavier in the kitchen than I was in my bathroom, and I weighed myself twice in both locations (I always weigh twice to be sure the scale is actually working).  The weight I entered in WW was between the two--.2 lighter than the kitchen and .2 lighter than the bathroom.  I figure this will minimize the impact next week when I don't have a "kitchen" weight to use.

Clearly, the key to my success is making a plan for the week.  Apparently, it matters more that I have the plan and less that I stick to it, as I had plenty of splurges last week.  Before my planned Wednesday dinner out, I dutifully checked the nutritional info of the restaurant my friends and I had selected and figured out what I should order.  However, when we arrived the wait was 1 1/2 hours and we are all moms, so that didn't work out.  We ended up somewhere else, where I chose a reasonable entree and had an awesome piece of carrot cake for dessert--every last crumb.  I had unplanned Chinese take-out on Friday.  I chose broccoli beef but then ate not one but two of the surprise "free" eggrolls the place included with our order, plus more than one piece of my friend's honey walnut prawns--but I skipped the rice.  Sometimes my decisions crack me up.  I mean, I spent all this time Wednesday night choosing the right entree (broiled fish with a celery puree) but then ate all of my dessert (there was a three-course menu and it was the "chef's choice," and fortunately the traditional cream cheese icing had been "lightened" by adding something--I'm guessing whipped cream--to it.  It still had the cream cheese taste but was not as physically heavy, so I told myself the physical lightness had to mean fewer points).  I figured beef broccoli was a decent Chinese take-out choice based solely on guesswork, and I didn't have rice (5 pts a cup!!!), but I was powerless to resist the egg rolls.

I also had a planned dinner out Saturday where the menu was not in my control (buffet).  I'd say I didn't do too bad other than the zillion pieces of butter-soaked (seriously, it dripped out when you bit into it) garlic bread I ate, and the mediocre piece of chocolate cake.  And the five or six glasses of wine. . .  and that leftover babysitter pizza I had when I got home.

Still, I'm pleased with this week.  I will make a menu for this week during naptime today.  I still have a few things from last week that didn't get made thanks to Friday's unplanned night out and the fact that I forgot we'd be out Sunday as well (I haven't looked up the points, but I had spinach and cheese crepes from Ikea that were worth the $2.99 I paid for them, which isn't saying much).

The WW website has set a new goal for me:  another 12-ish lbs.  I'm just going with the goals WW suggest for now because I don't really have a better way to break it up.  Hopefully it won't take me as long to get there as it did to reach this first goal.  I'm tempted to go change it so that my target weight is a multiple of five, but I don't think it makes that much difference since it's not my final goal, so I'll stick with it for now.  Maybe when I meet this goal I'll let my inner OCD take over.  Or not.

Hopefully I'll have a menu/recipes/etc. to post soon.  I can tell you that the peanut noodles were AWESOME, the zucchini cheese enchiladas were ok that night, not a hit with my husband, and not good reheated as leftovers.  I'm hoping to make the Carne Bistec tonight, and maybe I'll roast the chicken tomorrow.  If it defrosts. . .

Monday, May 9, 2011

Surprising loss.

I lost 1.2 lbs last week for a total of 12.4 lbs.  Basically, I'm back where I was (almost) before the three-four week hiatus.  But I'm glad to have seen a loss rather than a gain, and a loss of over a pound at that (seriously, losing 0.something lbs just seems too easy to be attributable to different clothing, hair products, etc.).  I think it probably helped that I was at the pool with my kids twice last week.  Hopefully the summer will bring more activities that will help in this process.

I'm looking forward to trying some yummy new recipes this week and hope to see a loss next Monday as well.  I'd love to say I'll hit my first official goal, but that would be a 2.6 lb loss, and historically I don't do that.

Also, I got a chocolate mint mousse jello dessert that is sugar-free and delicious.  I also got a dulce de leche one that I don't care for if anyone local would like to take the remaining pudding cups off my hands.  And I'm back on the Coke Zero.  Seriously, folks.  I have kids and don't drink coffee.  I need some caffeine, and the cup of tea in the morning isn't cutting it.

Oh, and can anyone tell me about stevia?  Is it really all that?  Can you cook with it?  I was tempted to buy some this weekend but hesitate to spend $$ on it when I don't know if I'll like/use it or not. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Back on Track--weekly menu.

For the first time in several weeks, I'm planning my menu and shopping for the week.  I'm glad to be getting back on track and hope that, by my next weigh-in (after tomorrow, where I don't expect to see a loss and won't be surprised to see a gain).  In addition to my meal menu, I'm throwing in some good snacks to try out.  Let's hope this is the start of good things to come. :)

Monday:  Asian Peanut Noodles  These look amazing.  I am going to pick up some of the Better N' Peanut Butter at Trader Joe's to make these.  After reading reviews for the noodles Gina mentioned, though, I'm sticking with rice noodles, which does make this gluten free.  The Big Geek hates broccoli.  I'm wondering if he'll notice it in this dish or not. . .

Tuesday:  Zucchini Enchiladas.  I am skeptical about these, but we'll see what The Big Geek thinks.  My guess is that he doesn't like them or, at best, tolerates them but has to fill up on snacks later in the evening.

Wednesday:  Out with some of my favorite moms. :)

Thursday:  Carne Bistec and roasted potatoes.  The Big Geek will be happy to see beef on the menu!  Plus, I figure if he's willing to try the zucchini enchiladas, I should reward him with some red meat.  Buying the grass-fed as Gina suggests, so we'll see how much that costs!

Friday:  Leftovers.  I have learned that if I don't plan at least one night of leftovers we end up with far too much food.

Saturday:  Roast Chicken and brussel sprouts.  I'm excited to share my love of brussel sprouts with my family.  Not sure they'll agree. . .

Sunday:  Out (we have a babysitting exchange function).

The snacks I will make this week include Chilled Green Beans (let these sit at least overnight for the best flavor and then enjoy them for a low-point snack!) and zucchini sticks.  The green beans are 3 pts for 1/4 lb. (the whole 2 lbs is 21 pts but the only "points" in the recipe is the olive oil for 14 pts so I have no clue how this works), and the zucchini sticks are 3 pts for 1 zuchhini's worth of sticks.

Shopping list:

16 oz chicken breast (cut into strips)
2 oz pancetta
1 1/2 lb grass-fed sirloin tip steak

1 1/2 cups low fat mexican cheese blend

1 lime
green onions
broccoli slaw
shredded carrots
1 cup bean sprouts
2 medium tomatoes
spaghetti squash (for me to have for lunch with extra sauce or under my carne bistec when the family has rice)
2 zucchini (more if you want to try the baked zucchini sticks)
2 lbs green beans (you can get these at costco clean and ready for steaming)
mint leaves
red onion
1 lb brussel sprouts
ginger (or the tube of grated ginger)
1 yellow or white onion

14.5 oz chicken broth
8 oz rice noodles
chopped peanuts (optional)
la tortilla factory smart and delicious low carb tortillas
1/2 cup ff vegetable broth (if you want to make truly vegetarian enchiladas)

Pantry:  Sriracha (rooster sauce), soy sauce, salt and pepper, sesame oil, garlic powder, cumin, chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chipotle chili powder.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I'm still here!

Life has been crazy.  We're about to start a kitchen remodel and have been doing some other renovations around the house before that begins.  We also were out of town for Easter.  After my last post I was feeling pretty discouraged.  I didn't count points that week and lost .4 lbs at my next weigh-in.  The I also didn't count points the next week and had gained 1.4 lbs, so I'm still down 11.2 lbs overall.  I've been counting points this week and hope for better results next Monday.

I didn't really plan meals for the week as last weekend we were busy moving all our furniture to the living room and dining room in preparation for new carpet.  Sunday night we were supposed to have turkey tacos, but after the news of Osama bin Laden's death, I didn't feel like cooking and instead had brie and crackers for dinner (glad I wasn't logging pts--I do not want to know!).  Monday friends came over to help move furniture back and we cooked out--hot links.  While that wasn't the greatest choice ever, it actually wasn't too bad and I stayed within my points with only a few of the weekly points for that day.  Tuesday we had turkey tacos, and tonight I had some WW mini pizza things as it's Hubby's guitar lesson night.  I am attending an event tomorrow night which will likely cost more than a few points (there will be wine).  I will try to eat before I go so I'm tempted less by the appetizers there.  I love appetizers. 

Hubby and I also have not one but TWO date nights this week.  One I don't think will involve food, the other probably will, but I can work around that.  At least it will be a real restaurant and not McDonalds!

I'm hoping to plan a real menu next week, but am not sure if that will work out or not.  I'd really like to have those sloppy joes again, and the Asian chicken. . .

Monday, April 18, 2011


Well, I gained .2 lbs.  Honestly, despite my indulgences this week I did not expect this as I have stayed within my points and should be retaining less water than last week.  Feeling pretty discouraged, especially considering the challenges that this week will bring.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Upcoming week and challenges

We are about to embark on a complete home makeover.  Tuesday through Friday, drywallers are attacking the popcorn on the living room, hall, and master bedroom ceiling and retexturing those and the living room/hallway walls.  Faced with the prospect of kids putting their fingers into new texture, I am opting to spend most of our time with friends this week before Easter festivities begin.

So, that means this week's menu looks like this:

Monday: leftovers
Tuesday: Chuck E Cheese?
Wednesday: Out--probably Jack in the Box because it's near dance lessons
Thursday:  Also something quick and easy--maybe sandwiches?
Friday: Easter madness begins.

I will try to behave myself.  I will still count points.  I will probably go over on Saturday and/or Sunday.

I'll be back tomorrow for a weigh-in.  And then next week I'll have gained some back, I'm sure.  But that's how it goes.

Oh:  recipes.  Pork chop experiment was not worth repeating.  I'll have to keep trying.  Maybe in the crock pot with a pork tenderloin?  Peruvian Roast Chicken is YUM, and the sauce Gina suggests with it is also delicious, as is her creamy cilantro tomatillo dressing.  The mexican brown rice casserole was missing something (The Big Geek suggested the missing ingredient was meat).  Not sure I'd do that again.  The chicken and orzo dish is also yummy, but I've made that before so I knew that.
We didn't manage to eat out for date night because the restaurant was too slow and we had to go retrieve our kids, but I did have a yummy "low-carbarita."  I have serious doubts as to the "low-carbedness" of it.  Also, no ribs, but we have so many leftovers I'm not concerned.  Actually, it's highly likely that we won't have enough leftovers for tomorrow night.  Hmmm.  Then what?  Maybe the turkey burgers and sweet potatoes again, as they were good and most of us ate them and they don't leave much in the way of leftovers.

I'll be back tomorrow to weigh in officially.  Had a birthday party today.  Ate hot dogs and cake.  Not my finest WW moment.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekly Weigh-in

I lost 1.2 lbs for a total of 12.4--and another point.  I'm good with this considering I ate so many of my weekly points this week (birthday party, ate out once, and was STARVING thanks to pms).  This is where I got last year when things fell apart.  Hopefully since I have WW instead of just counting calories, I'll manage to keep going forward this time.  I'm still concerned about how things will go during the remodel, but maybe it will make things easier.  Most of our evening meals will be grilled, at least. :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Meal Plan, recipes, shopping list for whatever week this is.

We had some good meals around here last week.  The turkey burgers and sweet potatoes were really fast and delicious--I would absolutely plan them again for a quick weeknight meal, plus both kids ate the turkey burgers (but not the sweet potatoes).  The chicken enchilada recipe I made was good, but I made it a bit too spicy for me (and no way the kids would eat them).  I do think that low-point tortillas have a weird smell (some people do not have this experience but others do, so I don't know if it's genetic or what).  At any rate, the enchilada sauce in that recipe was not strong enough to cover the smell, but it was strong enough that I didn't notice a weird taste.  Not my favorite enchiladas, but about a third of the calories and fat.  I also enjoyed the turkey jambalaya, and I found chicken andouille sausage so probably the points were even lower (for me) than I originally posted.  I added some celery salt to the recipe which I think made it better.  It was just missing something at first.

As usual, there are recipes I didn't get around to making, and I'm adding them to this week.  I'm also trying some new things and one total experiment.  The Big Geek and I ended up eating out at a BBQ place (instead of him making ribs this week), and one of the sauces they had was a mustard sauce that I eventually figured out was Italian dressing and mustard.  It was pretty good, and we decided it would make a good marinade for pork, so on Monday I'll be experimenting with pork chops and my knock-off marinade/sauce attempt.

Monday: Pork Chop Experiment (5-ish points)
Tuesday: Peruvian Roast Chicken I meant to make last week
Wednesday: Mexican-Style Brown Rice Casserole (8 pts)
Thursday: Chicken, Lemon, and Dill with Orzo (9 pts)
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: out (date night!)
Sunday: baby back ribs (5ish points without sauce, I think?).  TBG did not make them last week but will make them again this weekend.

The little geeks are being whiny and need attention, so there is no shopping list this week.  I'll be back tomorrow to weigh in.  Not looking forward to that, really, after the birthday cake I enjoyed Saturday and other snacking.  I've been craving carbs this week.

Monday, April 4, 2011

WooHOO! Finally hit 10 lbs.

I've now lost 11.2 lbs officially, go me.  My "average" loss is 1.4 lbs per week, and while I realize this is in the "healthy" range, I do wish it was higher.  This is going to be a VERY long process for me as I have a lot of weight to lose, and at this rate it is going to take forever to lose it all.  Ok, maybe not forever, but well over a year.  I suppose I can live with that, although my 20-year high school reunion will be in 2012.  I'm not really doing this for the reunion, but if I'm going to do it I'd like to at least weigh what I weighed when I graduated from high school (still more than I should) for the reunion.  Although, let's be honest, I could lose ALL the weight I need to lose and still not look as good as I did at 17. :)

Yeah, I need to pick up the pace a bit.  I definitely lose more when we stay at home, and while we have no big trips planned any time soon, there are birthday parties and Easter, plus a renovation that will leave us with a makeshift kitchen for most of late April and May, and maybe into June.

Why am I feeling so discouraged when I lost 2 lbs this week?  2 lbs is the goal, right?  I think my brain is skeptical, because I lost 12 lbs last year and promptly gained it all back once my semester started.  It's not as if I've never lost 12 lbs before.  I've lost way more than that before, and have always gained it back plus some.  I guess I'm realizing that I will probably be counting points my ENTIRE LIFE.  And that is not a melodramatic statement--I probably WILL be counting points my entire life.  I should accept that and move on.

In the spirit of moving on, Gina's Sicillian Rice Ball Casserole is AWESOME and you should make it.  I've shifted the enchiladas to tonight since the kids and I will eat before the sitter gets here (super fun mom's night planned at a trampoline place!!).  The Big Geek is going to make baby back ribs AGAIN next Sunday.  They are delicious, but full of fat.  At least he never plans sides so I can just make those vegetables to balance it out.  And I generally have lots of weekly points left on Sunday, but still.  I wish I wasn't eating baby back ribs for dinner the night before I weigh in.  Although that probably doesn't matter, right?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Week 7 Menu/Shopping List/Recipe Review

I haven't made everything from this week yet, but I can say that I loved the Chicken Divan.  Since TBG doesn't like broccoli, I don't know when I'll have it again, and since it's mostly broccoli even though the portions are large I wouldn't exactly call it filling, but it is DELICIOUS.  Just try to plan some bread or a carb in with the meal in your points if you make it.  So cheesy and garlicky!  MMM!

I just knew all the geeks would LOVE the croquettes.  Well, the little geeks didn't eat it at all, and I don't know that TBG and I LOVED them.  They were ok.  Kind of bland.  Def. in need of a dipping sauce, which of course adds points.  The serving size, though, is very good--3 croquettes (plenty) for 6 pts.  I'm not sure how that is possible given the amount of potato, but I trust the calculator.

I still need to make the rice ball casserole (tonight?) and the enchiladas (tomorrow?).  I will likely toss together both tonight and save one for Monday--I hear the casserole freezes well.  This week is a busy week, with both TBG and me out 2 of the evenings, and the usual Wednesday frenzy.

Monday:  Casserole from last week
T:  Quick and Easy Turkey Burgers (5 pts without bun if you make 5 burgers with 1 1/4 lbs 93% turkey) and Spicy Grilled Sweet Potatoes (4 pts)
W: Leftovers, or I go to the Jack in the Box by the little geek's ballet class and get a chicken fajita pita for me (8 pts)
Th:  Grilled flank steak (8 pts prepared without butter)
F: Casablanca Chicken (6 pts without noodles or rice)
Sa: Turkey Jambalaya (6 pts per cup)
Su: Peruvian roast chicken  (points vary depending on which part of the chicken you eat--between 3.5 and 6.5)

I'm also going to try Gina's Creamy Cilantro Tomatillo Dressing, because it sounds yummy.  Safeway is having a sale on the little watermelons this weekend, so I plan to grab several of those, too!

Shopping list:
Produce:  1 lb sweet potatoes, 1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper, green onions, 2 limes, fresh cilantro, 2-3 jalepenos, onions, garlic, 1 tomatillo, 1 large eggplant, 3/4 lb plum tomatoes, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 red onion
Cumin, garlic powder, salt,ground red pepper, olive oil, cooking spray, Cajun seasoning, black pepper, teriyaki sauce, dry mustard, salt, paprika, oregano, white vinegar, peanut butter, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, tumeric
Meat:  1 ½ lbs flank steak, Turkey breast (2 cups shredded when cooked), Andouille sausage (6 oz), ground turkey (1.25 lbs), 1 whole chicken, 8 boneless/skinless chicken thighs (bone in ok)

Aisles: diced tomatoes, long-grain rice, chicken broth, light mayo, 1 can chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, raisins

Dairy: Fat-free sour cream, plain greek yogurt, lowfat buttermilk

Other:  bourbon/whiskey, beer

Monday, March 28, 2011

Week 5 (?) weigh-in

How sad is it I'm not really sure what week this is?  I could go back and count, but does it really matter?

I'm officially down 9.2 lbs--so close to 10!  I'm excited for next week. :)  The website wants me to set a "time" goal for a specific loss, but I hesitate to do this.  I'll be on this plan for at least a year, and probably more like 2 years if I'm being realistic.  I'd rather not set specific dates and then get discouraged if I miss them.  I think that I'd rather just chug along and do the best I can, with some weeks being more difficult than others.  When you have kids, I kind of think that's what you have to do.  And so far, I have not felt deprived, so this seems sustainable.  If I start putting pressure on myself to be down X pounds by X day, I think I'll get overwhelmed and want to give up.  This is a marathon (or maybe a tri-athalon?), NOT a sprint. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week 6 (?) meal plan, recipes, and shopping list.

The Big Geek is off on a business trip for the first part of this week, giving me some more flexibility in what I cook (ie, we can have broccoli).  It also means I want to make things easy, so this week is full of quick, easy meals that I think the kids will also eat, and I'll be consuming plenty of leftovers.

The first thing I will do is cook some chicken breasts in the crock pot to make both shredded chicken for the enchiladas and croquettes and to make broth for the chicken divan, croquettes, and enchiladas.  That will happen tonight (overnight).

Here's the plan:
Monday:  Chicken Divan.  I'm excited to eat some broccoli, plus this sounds tasty, I think my kids will eat it, and it's only 8 points for a pretty generous serving.  The chicken in this is also cooked, so I'll likely go ahead and bake it tonight.  It's a chicken-pre-cooking festival around here.

Tuesday:  Bean and Sausage Stew.   This is quick, easy, and delicious.  I don't expect that my kids will eat it, but they can have leftovers or some other kid-friendly thing.  I like it, and if you sub cooking spray for the olive oil it makes 5 servings that are only 5 pts each.

Wednesday:  Leftovers. 

Thursday:  Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole.  A generous portion is 9 points, and I've wanted to try this since Gina posted it on her blog.  It sounds really good, and again, I think my kids will eat it.

Friday:  Baked Croqueettes.  Gina's recipe calls for leftover turkey, but I'm sticking with chicken this week.  6 points for 3 croquettes, and I think my kids will LOVE these.

Saturday:  The Big Geek is trying ribs again.  They are NOT WW friendly.  I will likely sample one and eat a lot of vegetables.

Sunday:  Chicken Enchiladas.  Gina has several enchilada recipes posted, but this one, at 4 pts per enchilada, appealed to me the most.  I'm a bit nervous about how the whole wheat low carb tortillas will work out, as my family historically rejects them, but I'm willing to give it a try.

I'll be back Monday with my weigh-in.  I'd love to hit 10 lbs but I think I'll be just below that.  Of course, when I started the program I just put in the nearest "whole" pounds.  I didn't realize WW cared so much about partial pounds. . .  Oh, well.  If I don't hit 10 lbs this week I should hit it next week.

Here's a shopping list for these recipes, for those who like one:

From your pantry/fridge:  kosher salt, ground black pepper, butter, cumin, oregano, 9ish garlic cloves, all-purpose flour, chicken broth, fat-free milk, cooking spray, long grain rice, onions.

Produce:  1 1/2 lbs broccoli, shallots, parsley, cilantro, kale, 3 potatoes.

Aisles:  seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs, 32 oz total tomato sauce, chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chipotle chili powder, low carb whole wheat flour tortillas, 1 can cannelloni beans or other white beans.

Meat:  about 3 lbs chicken breast (boneless, skinless), 1 sweet Italian sausage (freeze the rest?), 10 oz 93% lean ground turkey (about 1/2 package for recipe, freeze the rest), diced tomatoes.

Dairy:  6 oz low fat swiss cheese (shredded), eggbeaters or egg whites, 1/2 cup pecorino romano, grated parmesan, 1 1/4 cup part skim mozzerella.

Frozen:  peas

Other:  cooking sherry or a dry white wine

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tammy's Matzo Ball Soup

My friend Tammy introduced me to this delicious soup, which has become my favorite way to combat a cold, or just a cold day.  I've lightened it a tad by removing the skin from the drumsticks, but otherwise it's pretty close to hers, although hers of course tastes better. :)  You'll notice there's a lot of "wiggle room" in the amounts of vegetables.  Adjust them as you see fit--the veggies don't add points so you can put more of what you like and less of what you don't.  If you've never eaten a parsnip, I encourage you to try them in this, especially if you're making it for someone sick.  It gives the soup a kind of "medicine-y" taste, but in a good way.

About 4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
About 4 celery stalks, cut into chunks (you can dice up the leaves and include them if you like)
1 small onion, chopped
10 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
4 cups chicken broth or stock (fat free)
1-2 cups of water as needed
salt and pepper to taste
fresh dill, minced
1 package Matzo Ball mix, with ingredients required to prepare (I used 1 packet Manischewitz mix, which requires 2 eggs and 2 Tbsp vegetable oil to prepare.  Nutritional info on the box is for slightly larger matzo balls than I made--I made 10 when it "should" have made 9, but that's not in the calculations).

In a large pot or dutch oven, combine first 8 ingredients (carrots through salt/pepper).  When adding water, just add enough that everything is covered--if you add to much it will taste thin and you might need to toss in some bouillon.  Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for at least 20 minutes (longer is fine).  Follow directions to make matzo balls (they need to go in the fridge for 15 minutes so you can do this while the soup simmers).  Bring soup back to a boil and place matzo balls in it.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes (again), covered.

I generally leave my chicken on the drumsticks, but you can take them out and remove the chicken from the bone if you wish.  Points are calculated for servings including 2 matzo balls and 2 drumsticks each.

Makes 5 servings, 6 pts each.  Spoon into bowls and top with fresh chopped dill.  Yum!

Week 5 results and back on track (week 5)

Well, it is really hard to stay within your point limits when eating at theme parks, let me tell you.  I probably would have been ok if not for the massive feast of bbq my mother-in-law ordered Saturday night along with the wine I drank.  However, this is really the first week I've gone over my points for the week, and considering what I COULD have consumed on this trip it wasn't TOO bad.  The result, though, was that I gained about .8 lbs this week, so my total loss is back to 6.8.  I expect this week to be much better.

Today I realized I still have a ton of crock pot santa fe chicken in my fridge, which I'll be throwing out since I'm sure it's no longer good.  Mental note if I make that again--it makes a HUGE amount and wasn't a hit as leftovers.

This week I'm kind of winging it and making the food I didn't make in previous weeks.  Monday night, time got away from us, so I ended up eating a Lean Cuisine type meal for dinner and The Big Geek had leftovers (little geeks ate mac and cheese earlier).  Last night I FINALLY made the Asian Glazed Drumsticks.  Holy cow, they are delicious, and 5 pts for 2 drumsticks.  I used brown sugar instead of agave nectar since I don't own agave nectar, and I put in 2 tbsp of Srirachi, and man, it was delicious.  I did make the sauce without Srirachi, then remove 2 drumsticks once they were cooked and add the hot sauce then.  That way the little geeks wouldn't complain of spiciness--but really, I didn't think it was spicy at all.  I'd add more next time.  Now I want to try Srirachi on EVERYTHING. :)  I made some sugar snap peas and put leftover glaze on it.  I could eat the glaze with a spoon.  And may have. . .

Tonight I've got chicken matzo ball soup on the stove.  I love matzo ball soup, and when I calculated the points on WW it's only 6 per serving.  Tomorrow is pulled pork sandwiches using a pork tenderloin.  I'll try to calculate points, but it's basically a pork tenderloin, onion, and bbq sauce in the slow cooker.  I bought some sandwich thins to eat it on, and I plan to throw together some cole slaw mix and salsa (thanks to a friend for the zero-point side) to have with it.  We'll have leftovers Saturday and pasta on Sunday--I'll eat my sauce on spaghetti squash to cut down on points.

Someone asked if I have a "reward" for reaching my first goal of 15 lbs.  I hadn't really thought about it.  Maybe I'll take myself to a movie or something, as there isn't really anything I want that's for me right now.  Well, I'd love a new pair of jeans but it seems dumb to buy them if I'm going to keep losing weight.  However, if my current jeans are falling off at 15 lbs I'll buy myself a pair.  So, there--my "reward" for losing 15 lbs is a new pair of jeans.

By the way, I have smaller jeans in my closet, but I don't think losing 15 lbs is going to get me into them.  They are from after my daughter but before my son, when I'd actually managed to lose all the baby weight plus 20 lbs.  After my son, I lost most of the baby weight but then re-gained 20 lbs.  And I was hoping it would go the same way again.  Oh, well.  The point is that between the expanded hips, baby pooch, and extra weight gain, it's going to take more than 15 lbs to get me into those jeans.  But maybe I'll try it then just for fun. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Week 4 results and hiatus

I have now officially lost 7 lbs, even with the birthday party bonanza on Saturday.  I did not count points Saturday and had more than one serving of brie, plus cake.  But I don't think I went TOO overboard.

Last week was really busy and I didn't end up making the chicken parm or drumsticks, so I'm going to make those this week.  We will probably have leftovers on Wednesday, or maybe I'll get a corned beef for the crock pot.  Then we will be visiting family and dining out a lot, which will be a challenge but I've survived before so I am sure I can do it.

One challenge--some restaurants only give you calories, not complete nutritional info for their food.  If the restaurant also isn't on the WW ap (I'm looking at YOU, Outback Steakhouse), that leaves me making guesses about what to order.  I chose a low-calorie salad at Outback, got home and looked up the complete nutritional info online and discovered it was 15 pts!  I probably could have ordered my second choice that was actually more calories for fewer points.  At any rate, I had the points to "spend" so it was ok, but it's just frustrating because I know that eventually I won't have the points to spare.  I think when in doubt I'll just be ordering a plain grilled chicken breast and veggies.

I did ask for the complete nutritional info but was told they didn't have it.  I find that odd since it is on their website.  And if it is on their website, WHY isn't it on the app?

Hopefully any excessive points consumption this weekend will be evened out by the walking I'll do while there.  Oh, I did fine yesterday even with hubby's ribs.  I only had 2 ribs, but along with a baked potato it was plenty.

I figured out how to change my weigh/week start day to Monday.  I think this will work best as I usually plan meals Monday-Sunday, and I'd rather have my weekend days together at the end of the week.  For those who don't know, while you have the point tracker screen up on the WW website, click on "settings" and its in there somewhere.  I swear I thought I looked there once before but apparently did not.

Also:  fat-free greek yogurt is an ok substitute for sour cream, but when making dips in the future I'll use 1/2 yogurt and 1/2 low-fat sour cream.  I think it would just taste better.  Anyone want some fat-free yogurt-onion dip?  I have a lot in my fridge and will probably throw it out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weekly results (week 3)

The WW website seems to really want me to keep Sunday as my weigh days, so I guess I will do that.  So far I am down 5.8 lbs and have lost one of my points.  That's ok, I have plenty of points anyhow.  This did prompt me to look up the point range, though, so at least I now know the minimum points is 29 (plus the 49 weekly points).  Not too bad, I guess, although I'm sure it will be a challenge when I'm down to 29 (assuming I'm ever down to 29)! 

The maximum daily points is 71!!!!  This made me feel better about my current "huge" number of points.  You must have to be a large breastfeeding teenaged boy to get 71 pts!

My quest for snacks continues.  This week I tried out the fat-free cool whip and really like that in the evenings with fresh berries.  I also found Wheat Thins "Fiber Selects" vegetable crackers (15 crackers for 3 pts) and Kale Chips.  I will try to make some of my own Kale Chips, maybe next week or the week after, because they are expensive at Whole Foods.  1/2 a bag is 3 pts, though.  Check individual bags because different flavors are more.  I had Kool Ranch.

My biggest challenge right now is having time to eat breakfast every day.  I am not hungry when I first get up in the morning, but I don't always have time to "wake up" and then eat.  I like having 2 scrambled eggs with salsa (4 pts) for breakfast, but that's not really portable.  I can do 1 egg in a pita half with salsa for 4 pts also, but I have to remember to MAKE and TAKE it.  I'm sure I'll get better at this as time goes on.

I ate out last night and actually had points to spare afterwards.  Drinking water with the meal helped, as did having a salad ahead of time, but what really kept the points down was an entree of fish.  I guess a LOT on points, counting points for breadcrumbs on the fish, blue cheese on the salad, the salad dressing, glazed pecans, and olive oil for cooking. Still, it wasn't a bad total.  I was pleased with myself.  Then of course I "ruined" it by coming home and eating a leftover slice of my kids' pizza, but I did count those points as well.  And I had them, so it wasn't the end of the world.  I just didn't get a skinny cow ice cream sandwich last night. :)

I actually have not cooked yet this week as Monday just didn't happen and I have a TON of leftover Santa Fe chicken.  I still have lasagna rolls, too.  I've been eating it for lunch but I feel like it's going to take forever to eat it.  I'll try the chicken parm on Thursday night, though, and the pasta on Friday and then move the drumsticks to Saturday night.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Week 4 menu/shopping list

Thanks for the snack ideas, all.  I broke down and bought myself some skinny cow ice cream sandwiches for nights when I have points left and want some treats.  Those things are delicious (and 4 points plus).  I'm a bit leery of Fiber One bars b/c of the effect of that much fiber on me.  Let's just say I had a Fiber One incident in the past and haven't had one since.  Maybe I'll try again.

Here are my thoughts on last week's recipes:
  •  Arroz con Pollo:  make this.  It is REALLY good.  The portion for points is pretty high (one thigh and a cup of rice is 8 pts), but the flavor is amazing and it's easier than I expected.
  • Crockpot Sweet and Sour Pork:  This was good, but didn't wow me.  I'd make it again.  It was filling.
  • Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken:  This was also tasty, but kind of felt like it was missing something.  Cheese, maybe?  If I'd had some ff sour cream I think that would have made me like it more.  It's also filling, though, and it makes a TON.
  • Spinach Lasagna Rolls:  I liked these.  The Big Geek ate one, but I don't think he was really a fan.  The little geeks actually ate it, probably because there isn't a lot of seasoning in them.  I kept thinking they'd be good with chopped broccoli instead of spinach (but The Big Geek hates broccoli).  I think mine could have used some garlic/onions.  I made an extra batch of this for a friend and used a jarred sauce b/c I thought the flavor would be better.
This week is a chicken-heavy week.  Mainly because everything that sounded good had chicken in it.  Also, The Big Geek has decided he will use his smoker next Sunday.  This is NOT a WW friendly move, but I will survive.  I'm sure just smelling babyback ribs cooking is about 3 pts. :)  Also, Princess's birthday party is Saturday, which means cake.  I will be using my weekly points this week!

Monday:  Chicken Parmesan (serve with salad)
Tuesday:  Chicken nuggets (I am eating out)
Wednesday:  Leftovers (The Big Geek is out)
Thursday:  Penne with Chicken, Asparagus, and Lemon
Friday:  Asian Glazed Drumsticks (serve with sugar snap peas)
Saturday:  bday/leftovers
Sunday:  The Big Geek's Smoked Ribs.  I'll post a recipe for this if you'd like but you need a smoker to make them, and it is NOT a WW-friendly meal.  I'd suggest eating beef, pork, or vegetarian this day since every other meal involves chicken.

Shopping List:

I assume most people already own the following items:  EVOO, flour, salt, pepper, onions, cinnamon, dried thyme, brown sugar, onion powder, dry mustard, tomato paste, cooking spray, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder.

Dairy:  grated parmesan, egg whites, part skim mozzerella

Produce: 1 leek, fresh thyme, fresh basil, 2 lemons, 1 bunch medium asparagus (1 lb), 12 garlic cloves, ginger, chives or scallions

Meat: 2 1/2-3 lbs chicken breasts (about 6 breasts), 8 drumsticks

Aisles:  fat-free chicken broth, dry white wine, 12 oz whole wheat penne pasta, Sriracha hot sauce (with a rooster), agave nectar (or sugar), sesame seeds, 28 oz can diced tomatoes, tomato paste, panko

Plus stuff like salad, fruits/veggies for snacks/sides, etc.

Chicken Parmesan

Also from the Healthy Family Cookbook, this recipe uses thin chicken cutlets and oven-baked chicken to cut the fat and calories.

1 1/2 cups panko
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 oz)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 large egg whites (6 tbsp store-bought egg whites)
1 Tbsp water
vegetable oil spray
6 (4 oz) boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, pounded 1/4-inch thick (you can slice thicken breasts in half horizontally and then pound between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to accomplish this).
2 cups tomato sauce, warmed (recipe follows, or use jarred)
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (about 3 oz)
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

1.  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.  Combine the panko and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, 10-12 minutes.  Note:  This step can seem unnecessary, but it really does make things taste better.  Just do it.

2.  Transfer the crumbs to a shallow dish, let cool, then stir in teh Parmesan.  Combine the lfour adn garlic powder in a second shallow dish.  In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.  You're basically making an assembly line of flour, egg white, panko.

3.  Spray a wire rack with vegetable oil spray and place over a rimmed baking sheet. (DO NOT SKIP THE WIRE RACK--it is the secret to getting this chicken crispy on both sides without frying).  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Dredge chicken cutlets in flour (shake to remove excess), then dip into egg whites, and then coat with toasted crumbs, pressing on them to adhere.  Lay the breaded chicken on the prepared wire rack.

Busy parent note:  You can prep the chicken to this point, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

4.  Spray teh tops of the chicken lightly with vegetable oil spray.  Bake until the chicken registers 150-160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 8-10 mins (longer if you prepped/refrigerated the chicken, 10-12 min).

5.  Top each cutlet with 2 tbsp of the sauce and 2 tbsp of the mozzarella.  continue to bake until the cheese has melted adn the chicken registers 160-165-degrees, 3-5 minutes.  Sprinkle with basil and serve, passing the remaining sauce separately.

Per serving (1 chicken breast prepared as directed):  330 cal, 10g fat, 3g sat fat, 80mg chol, 20g carb, 38g protein, 2g fiber, 750mg sodium. (8 pts plus per serving)

Sauce (this is the sauce used in calculating points.  A jarred sauce would change points value):

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1Tbsp minced resh basil
Salt and Pepper

Pulse the tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until mostly smooth, about 10 pulses (or use a handy dandy immersion blender).  Cook the garlic, tomato paste, oil, adn red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 2 min.  Stir in the processed tomatoes and cook until the sauce is thickened and measures 2 cups, about 20 min.  Off the heat, stirin teh basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Per 1/2 cup serving (included in pts above): 40 cal, 1 g fat, 0 sat fat, 0 cholesterol, 5 g carb, 1 g protein, 1 g fiber, 310 mg sodium, 1 pts plus.

Penne with Chicken, Asparagus, and Lemon

From The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.

This cookbook has some of the recipes from the best light recipes book that I love, but not all of the recipes are light.  Most are quick and family-friendly.  I also like that it's in a binder and so lays flat when you're trying to read them/cook.

This will be a new recipe for me this week.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2-3), trimmed and sliced thin
1 leek, whte and green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced fresh thyme
2 tsp all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 oz)
2 tsp grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup lemon juice from 2 lemons
1 bunch medium-size asparagus (about 1 lb), tough ends trimmed, and sliced on the bias into 1-inch lengths
12 oz whole-wheat pasta
2 tbsp shredded fresh basil

1.  Heat 1 1/2 tsp of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken, break up any clumps, and cook until lightly browned but not fully cooked, about 3 min.  Transfer to a bowl.

2.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 tsp oil to the skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering.  Add the leek and cook until softened, about 5 min.  Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3.  Stir in the flour and cook for 1 min.  Slowly whisk in the broth and wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up and browned bits.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, about 15 min.

4.  While that is cooking, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the asparagus and 1 tbsp salt and cook, stirring often, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, 2-4 min.  With a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Return the water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook, stirring often, until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

5.  Return the chicken with any accumulated juice to the skillet.  Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 min.  Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, lemon zest, and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6.  Add the chicken-broth mixture, asparagus, and basil to the pasta and toss to combine.  Before serving, add the reserved cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.

Per 1 2/3 cup serving:  380 cal, 7g fat, 1.5 g sat fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 44g carb, 29 g protein, 8 g fiber, 540 mg sodium.  9 pts plus.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Week 2.5 and some questions

I wanted to switch my weigh-in day to Wednesday for a variety of reasons, so today I got on the scale.  I'm officially down a total of 4 lbs and well on my way to my first goal of losing around 15 lbs.  Go me.

I was HUNGRY on Monday, probably because I didn't have a real breakfast.  Yesterday I had eggs with salsa, which I had to throw into a ziplock bag to eat later since my children insisted on doing things like braining themselves on the corner of the island to make the morning chaotic.  It worked out much better for me.

I need to develop a better bag of tricks (other than plain fruits and veggies, which are great but can get boring) of 1-2 pt snacks.  Sometimes I'm hungry and fruits/veggies just aren't going to cut it.  I've been tossing the occasional 2 pt string cheese in now and again, which is better.  Also, carbs are so many points, but if I don't eat at least some I find I'm ravenous.  What are your low point carb tricks?

I'm pleased with my progress so far but I know the only way I'll survive this LONG road is to find some "treats" for those days when I just need one.  Preferably not the 7-8 pt cookie I ate the other night which, while tasty and filling, was probably not the best way to spend my weekly points.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Week 2 results and Week 3 menu/shopping list

This was a weird, weird week, with lots more eating out than normal, and a lot of eating out at non-chain restaurants where I just had to guess about points.  I miraculously stayed within my points ranges (I think? Guessed a LOT), but gained .3 lbs.  However, since I knew some of the "loss" last week was from my digestive troubles, I'm good with that.  Plus I ate very well.  No deprivation here.  And if you can't have fun on the week when your inlaws take your kids (first kid-free weekend in 3 1/2 years!!!!), then what is the point?

The WW dijon roasted new potatoes are going to become an addictive new side at my house, I can tell you.  They smell divine and are 4 pts per serving, good with lean meat.  I had an oven thermometer issue with the garlic roast, but will try again another day.  I'm determined to eat fewer of my weekly points this week, drink more water, and eat at home rather than out.  Probably lots of sodium last week in all that prepared food.  I actually sent a dish back for the first time because it was so salty.

In planning this week's menu, I'm using a lot of ingredients I already have and opting for easy crock pot recipes as we ease back into having kids at home.  I am trying to incorporate one vegetarian meal each week.  However, much of the vegetarian options my family will eat involve pasta, and the high carb count pushes the points up to at least 10, which is a lot for most people.  I've discovered spaghetti squash works well for me if my family is eating spaghetti.  I'm hoping this week's vegetarian meal, at 6 pts per lasagna roll, will be filling enough for us. Also, learning from past issues, I'm planning 2 nights of leftovers and a roast chicken so I can make chicken broth in the crock pot Sunday night.  This shopping list has everything you'd need--like me, you probably have a lot of it in your pantry already.  I'd add fresh fruits, fat-free milk, and the frozen waffles my kids eat nearly every morning to the list.

Here's the menu for this week:

Monday:  Arroz con Pollo (never got around to this before)
Tuesday: Crockpot Sweet and Sour Pork
Wednesday:  leftovers--I'm learning from my first night mistakes!
Thursday: Crockpot Santa Fe Chicken
Friday:  Spinach Lasagna Rolls (vegetarian)
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Roast chicken and Dijon Roasted Potatoes

Shopping List:

Produce:  1 green bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper, 1 medium onion, cilantro, 8 scallions, 1 lb new/baby potatoes (any color), 3 cloves garlic, 1 tomato, various fruit

Aisles:  1 20 oz can pineapple chunks in juice, light brown sugar, cornstarch, cider vinegar, light soy sauce, salt, brown rice, 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, 15 oz can black beans, fat-free chicken broth, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, olive oil, paprika, thyme, black pepper, sazon OR saffron (I have not found sazon), adobo powder, enriched long grain rice, lasagna noodles (boiling kind), chicken bouillon, 32 oz tomato sauce

Meat: 1 1/2 to 2 lbs pork shoulder, 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, 8 skinless chicken thighs, 1 whole chicken

Frozen: 8 oz frozen corn, 10 oz frozen spinach

Dairy:  15 oz fat-free ricotta, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, 1 egg, 3 oz shredded mozzarella

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Week 1 results.

These results may be a bit off, as I wasn't feeling well yesterday and some "digestive issues" probably added to my weight loss, but I am "officially" down 3.4 lbs today, and some random measurements I'm not putting a ton of stock in just now b/c I can't remember from week to week exactly where I took them.  Yes, I know.  I figure the waist one is pretty accurate, but it's a bit early to see a huge change in measurements.

At any rate, even with the "digestive issues" I still probably lost a couple of pounds, which is great.  My attempt to lighten PW's cajun chicken pasta was not much of an attempt, but I do have some solid ideas for my next try.  Plus the "six" servings she claims are too enormous for a mere mortal to eat--it's more like 12 servings. 

I also learned that it's just pointless for me to make 6 meals a week.  It's too much food for my family to eat, even with leftovers becoming lunch and all that.  I need to plan more like five, or I need to invite company over 3-4 times a week.  I think cooking less often is smarter.

My kids will be gone next week, so I don't know how much cooking I'll really do.  We have gift cards and groupons and could easily eat out every meal, which will be a challenge in itself.  In the meantime, I've discovered that Whole Foods puts a meal planner in their circular, if any of you are interested.  Another unintended bonus is that I've pretty much broken my caffeine addiction.  I gave up Coke Zero after my chiropractor told me I should give up fake sugar (I may have to rethink that as I really do need a skinny vanilla latte now and then), and my other source of caffeine, hot tea, is not an every day habit because I drink herbal tea sometimes as well. 

I'm rambling.  Bottom line:  This week's plan will look very different than "normal" because I will be planning to eat out quite a bit.  If you're thinking of trying anything I made last week, I suggest skinny sloppy joes (by far my favorite).  I still have a roast to make tonight and arroz con pollo to make sometime next week (I did not cook yesterday as I felt blech).  I'd also suggest adding the cilantro lime rice to a meal.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pernil, Black Beans, and Cilantro-lime rice

Tonight's dinner was hit and miss.  The pork was good and flavorful (and very easy, although you do have to prep it and put it in the marinade the night before).  It did not taste citrusy, which was strange to me since the marinade is basically orange and lime juice, but it was good.

The rice was awesome, although the points I got when using the WW calculator were higher than what Gina lists.  I put in the recipe because I'd used brown rice (no difference in points, btw), and they came out higher.  However, I only used 2 tsp of oil rather than 4, so that made it work out.  I also think I could have halved the salt, but I always think things are too salty.  If you try this with brown rice, it will need to cook longer--follow the directions on your bag of rice.  Really, you can do this with any rice (even instant) and just add the lime, cilantro, and even just 1 tsp of oil after the rice is cooked.

The beans were good, but I'm not sure they were worth the effort of adding to what would have come out of the can.

Other things I've learned this week:

Gallo light salame is 1 pt for 5 slices.  Yum.

Athenos roasted red pepper hummus is 2 pts for 2 Tbsp, but only 3 pts for 4 Tbsp.  Please explain that one.  It's good with carrots.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gina's Skinny Sloppy Joes

See the original recipe, including a printable version, here.

I loved this.  It was quick, easy, filling, and delicious.  It was a tad spicy for the little geeks, but I think that was because my steak seasoning was too peppery.  I bought a different brand and will try it next time.  If it's still too spicy, I'll try it with seasoned salt instead.  I did forget to put in the mushrooms (I bought them and even got them out, dang it!).  I will say you should chop the veggies really small.  I grated the carrot, but using a food processor would not be overkill because you really don't want your kids (or husband) to even know the veggies are in there.   Also, chop the veggies BEFORE you start to brown the meat, b/c it takes less time to brown ground beef than you think, and it takes more time to mince veggies than you think--but maybe that is just b/c I have a shoulder injury right now.

This will go into the rotation with some experimentation by me to cut down the spicy for the little geeks.

Ingredients:  1.25 lbs lean ground beef sirloin
1 tbsp steak seasoning or seasoned salt
1 carrot, minced
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red bell pepper (I just used a whole one), minced
4 oz mushrooms, minced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season ground beef with steak seasoning or seasoned salt and cook the meat until it browns.   Add the minced veggies to the skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and add red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.  Cook 5 minutes.  Add tomato sauce and tomato paste to pan, stir to combine, and cover.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, an additional 5 minutes.

1/2 cup of the filling is only 3 points plus.  I served these on toasted whole wheat hamburger buns that were 4 pts each, for a total of 7 points plus, and it was the perfect amount of filling.  In the future, I'd probably opt for a lower point bun or even serve the sauce over spaghetti squash.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Learning to eat out

Weight watchers has an awesome iPhone app that lets you look at restaurants to help you find meals within your desired points range.  Unfortunately, I have an iPod touch and not all restaurants offer free wifi.

Which is why today at lunch at Chevy's I ordered a bowl of tortilla soup (given the nutritional info I thought it was my best bet) for a total of 10 points (!!!).   Had I had wifi, I'd have known to order the Santa Fe chopped salad with no cheese or bacon for 9 pts or with no cheese, bacon, or avacado for 7 pts.  Either one would have been more filling than the soup for less points.  Lesson:  check menus someplace WITH WIFI before going to chain restaurants, or next time just skip lunch with friends and come home.

Oh, well.  This is a "journey" (using this word will let me know if at least one friend read this) and I have a lot to learn, even though I am practically a professional dieter.

I did manage to stay within my points (with the addition of some of the weekly points) yesterday, and I skipped the apple pie b/c I was so full after fondue, which was divine.  I have 15 pts left today which should allow for dinner (3 pts per 1/2 cup of the sloppy joe filling, 4 pts for the bun or I might just have mine over spaghetti squash) and maybe even dessert.

I do think the WW ap is awesome.  I just have to remember that without wifi, it's not much more than a calculator and I need the ap to be most effective.  I can't calculate the points of a dish "minus cheese and bacon" based on the info on the nutritional info, but the ap can provide that.

I still can't believe that soup was 10 points.  It was a SMALL bowl of soup.  Fortunately, I had a fairly filling breakfast and some fruit as well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Week 1 Menu

I get a HUGE number of points in a day.  So many that even though I didn't necessarily "try" to stick to my points yesterday I still managed to, even though I had a full-fat flavored latte and a cupcake with friends after my pedicure yesterday.  Honestly, I planned these menus without too much regard for their points values, figuring that my meals are, IN GENERAL, fairly healthy and I just eat the wrong snacks or too much of what I make.  That said, most of the recipes I'm cooking this week either came from the Weight Watchers website or from this blog, which is one of the reasons I decided to try WW again.  Gina's recipes all look amazing and flavorful, have been "lightened" by her, and include both the "old" WW points value and the new points plus value.  What's not to love?

Like many people, I skip breakfast more often than I should.  However, I know I NEED to eat breakfast, so what works best for me is to "automate" it and eat the same thing every day, or rotate through some options.

So, each day for breakfast I will either have a bowl of oatmeal with some fruit and maybe a tiny bit of brown sugar (just to complicate this weight loss thing, I have sworn off artificial sweeteners), half a whole wheat pita pocket with lean meat and cheese or egg and cheese, or a whole wheat English muffin with egg and cheese or Canadian bacon.

Tip:  Did you know you can scramble an egg in your microwave?  Spray a microwave-safe bowl with cooking spray, place an egg in the bowl, beat, and microwave for about 1 minute.  Scrambled egg, and as a bonus, it's nice and round and perfect for going on top of an English muffin.  I assume you could use egg beaters for this, too.

At lunch, I tend to eat leftovers or make something with leftovers (ie, take chicken breasts from last night and use them on top of a salad).  If that doesn't work out I'll have a frozen meal (such as lean cuisine).  I'm an at-home mom with two small kids, and as THE cook I really don't want to have to make more than one "real" meal per day.

For that reason, this blog will focus on dinner recipes, with a few desserts, snacks, and sides thrown in for good measure.

Here's this week's dinner menu:

Monday:  Cheese Fondue and Caramel Apple Pie .  These are not light, but it is Valentine's Day.  I will likely use most of my "extra" points today between the TWO kid's parties I'm attending and the Fondue.  I may have to skip the pie.

Tuesday:  Skinny Sloppy Joes and salad

Wednesday:  On Wednesdays, The Big Geek has guitar lessons.  The little geeks will eat light salame and cheese for dinner (their choice), and I will likely have leftovers or a bowl of cereal.  I had planned to make a risotto that is not light, but I don't think I'll have the points for it.

Thursday:  Slow Cooker Pernil  with Cuban style black beans.  And look  what I can do with the leftovers!

Friday:  I'll attempt to lighten this Cajun Chicken Pasta .

Saturday:  Garlic Roast and Dijon Potatoes

Sunday:  Arroz con Pollo.

My snacks for the week mostly include fruit and veggies, sometimes with a dip like hummus or even peanut butter or cheese when points permit.  I am going to try a stuffed celery recipe that lightens the flavors of buffalo wings, which I'll post if it's worthwhile.
So now for some opinions:  What do you want from this blog?  Just the weekly dinner menu?  Menu plus shopping list?  I know that I will use it both to record recipes and to track my journey, I'm just wondering what the few of you who read this would like to see.

Have a great day, everyone.  Here's to new beginnings!

A new experiment.

I've been overweight since high school.  Somewhere between 9th grade and 12th grade, despite being very active, I gained about 40 lbs.  College added to that, as did my 2nd pregnancy and the first year of my son's life.

I've done many diets in the past.  I've done slim fast.  I once lost 40 lbs with Jenny Craig, which oddly enough is when I really started cooking thanks to Jenny's cookbooks.  I've done weight watchers before with little success.  So what is different this time?

First, I like that pretty much all fruits and veggies are "free" in the new points plus plan.  That is something I can get behind.  Second, I am now the heaviest I have ever been when not pregnant and for the first time I really "feel" my weight in terms of my activity level, confidence, and energy.  Third, I have kids and I'd like to be around to see my grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

This blog is changing.  It will still feature recipes and my experiences with them, but I am also going to focus on menu planning and cooking food that is both delicious and good for you.  Like me, it's a work in progress, but I encourage you to join me.  Maybe you don't need to lose weight, maybe you do, but we all have to eat, and I hope that you, like me, can learn to enjoy cooking food that nourishes both your body and your soul.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When life hands you lemons

Today at preschool drop off there was a free bucket of lemons. The other moms and I were grabbing them, but the subject of what to do with them came up. Other than lemon bars (I like Ina Garten's recipe), here are a few of my easy favorite ways to use fresh lemons:

Chicken, lemon, and dill orzo. Quick to put together, easy, and filling, this takes an hour to cook but you can assemble it and walk away while it's cooking.

Lemon Risotto. Yes, you have to stand there and stir for a long time. But the results are sooo worth it!

Lemon Basil Bow Ties
. This is the easiest dish ever. Prep the ingredients while the pasta is cooking, drain the pasta and put the sauce together in the pot before throwing the pasta back in, and add some cooked chicken for a complete meal.