Sunday, May 27, 2012

Greek Yogurt - rosa pasta sauce

This is a new love of mine. I am finding soooo many uses for this in cooking to help reduce calorie and fat intake in our diets.

Tonight, I made this pasta recipe for dinner - minus the shrimp. Thanks to back to her roots for the photo and recipe inspiration.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes - Round 2

We had our second soccer party yesterday. So, I decided to give the strawberry cake one more try. This time - without the jello. I wanted something a little more natural tasting. Boy, did I find it! This is the second soccer party I have taken these little jems. Everyone has asked for me to share the recipe - so here it is.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mayonnaise: a love-hate relationship

I love mayonnaise. Don't you? Too bad it is NOT good for you. High calories, high fat, some even have sugar added (which actually did surprise me a bit). BUT, I have found a way to enjoy mayo by cutting the calories and fat drastically! YAY!!!

Do you want to know my not so secret, secret?

Non-fat Greek yogurt!

You can cut the mayo by HALF and add half non-fat Greek yogurt in place of the mayo. The taste is still GREAT!

So, that's really it. Egg Salad. Potato salad. Pasta salad. Whatever. Just be careful, all of these items still tend to be heavy on calories, but at least now you can add more good stuff and less bad stuff and still enjoy!

Now, I will give you 2 of my favorite recipes. You can adjust based on your favorite recipes.

Egg Salad for one
(because no one else in my family likes it).

One whole hard boiled egg
One hard boiled egg white only
1 TBSP Mayonnaise
1.5 TBSP Greek Yogurt

Just mash it all together with a fork and serve over a bed of lettuce. I do prefer to have an egg salad sandwich, but in the interest of not eating carbs all day long, I have found I actually like it on a bed of lettuce. I am happy for small victories.

Cracker Dip
I like the recipe using Lipton Vegetable Soup &Dip mix and mostly follow the recipe on the back of the box. Here are my changes...

1 package dip mix
4 oz non-fat sour cream
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
10oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)

Mix it all together. If it sits for several hours in the fridge it tastes better.

This went to school last week with a package of wheat thins (reduced fat of course). When serving to a bunch of women who are concerned about calories, I try hard to make signs so they know to try it. BUT, I always feel funny doing this - will they actually try it? The answer for this go round - yes, they did and they loved it!

Let's hear it for Greek Yogurt! Hip hip hooray!

What do you plan on making with Greek yogurt?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lesson 7: Talking back to negative thoughts

Who has NEVER had negative thoughts? It can be a vicious cycle - bad thoughts lead to eating and non-activity, which leads to more bad thoughts. AHHH! Sometimes, we are not even aware we are having them! Trouble.

Here are common negative patterns:
1. Good vs bad. When everything tends to be divided into good or bad, success or failure, on or off a program.
2. Excuses or rationalizations. We all have these - there are always reason why we do (or don't do) something - and they are usually not our fault. It is like we have no power to control situations. Or life is just so busy there is no way we can fit a healthy lifestyle into out lives.
3. Should thoughts. These thoughts expect perfection and set us up for disappointment. These assume someone is standing over use forcing use to do things we don't want to do. e.g. I should have eaten less - or I should NOT have had that...
4. Not as good as thoughts. These thoughts compare ourselves to others and blame us for not measuring up. e.g. So and so lost 5 pounds and I have only lost 2.
5. Give up thoughts. These defeat ourselves. They often follow the other kinds of negative thoughts. e.g. This is too hard; I might as well give up.

How to talk back to negative thoughts.
1. First, catch yourself.  Is this thought moving me forward or bringing me down? As soon as you are aware of the thought - take responsibility for it. 'I am doing this to myself.'
2. Imagine yourself yelling STOP. If you are somewhere appropriate - go ahead and yell at yourself.
3. Talk back with a positive thought.

Example responses to negative thoughts.
1. Good vs bad: Talk back with 'work towards balance.'
  • Don't expect perfection, but don't indulge yourself either. Work towards a balance.
2. Excuses: Talk back with 'it's worth a try.'
  •  Instead of looking for something or someone else to blame, give yourself a chance. Try SOMETHING. You just might surprise yourself and succeed!
3. Should: Talk back with 'It's my choice.'
  • Take responsibility for your actions. You, and you alone, are in charge of what you eat and how you exercise. No one else has expectations for you. This is for you, your health and well being.
4. Not as good as: Talk back with 'everyone is different.'
  • How many times do we tell our children - it doesn't matter what others are doing, it only matters that you are trying your hardest to be a good person and to achieve your best in school/sports/etc. Hmm, maybe we should listen to ourselves! We are to be happy for other people successes and work our hardest on our own goals. (MAN, I need to remember this one!)
5. Give up: Talk back with 'One step at a time.'
  • Problem solving is a process. It takes time to make changes. Learn from what doesn't work and keep moving forward. Learning is always a success.
I always try to remember: it took years to develop these habits, it will take time to undo them too!
Good luck!

What is your strongest negative thought?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Strawberry Jam - an experiment

Strawberry season is about done for us. I made lots of jam. YUM. I had only ever made the full sugar versions before, and this year I wanted to try something different. An experiment. Can I get away with no sugar? Is there a middle ground that will work best?

Well, I tried 4 different recipes. Yes, 4! All freezer jams because I like the fresh taste they tend to have - and I am too lazy to do all the cooking and canning required for regular jam.

Second - I will say - ALL 4 batches failed to set. I have never had this happen before. So, obviously I did something wrong. Unfortunately, I have NO idea what! I did not create any of these recipes, so I will trust that they actually do work usually and that I just did something wrong. I will comment on flavors and what we liked best as a family.

First batch - full sugar. 4 cups of sugar to 2 cups of strawberries. YIKES! Not so much on the healthy side. I thought this just pretty much taste like sugar. Too sweet for me. Kids and hubby think it is fine.

Second batch - I will call it the half sugar version. The company called it low sugar - which is a stretch for me. It is indeed lower in sugar than the full sugar versions, but NOT low sugar. I used the standard recipe on the low sugar pectin package. Better in flavor than the full sugar version, but still has a LOT of sugar - something like 3 cups sugar to 4 cups strawberries.

Third batch - Low sugar version. Recipe found here. This is my favorite for regular use - sandwiches, pancakes, etc.

Forth batch - Non-sugar version. Recipe found here. This is my second favorite. For regular use, I wanted a little more sweetness - but this is MUCH preferred to the full or even half batches I tried. My kids will eat all 4 versions without noticing. YEAH! This recipe is my favorite to use in my cupcakes (post coming soon). I also prefer this as a topping on ice cream. No need to add more sugar to these already sugar blasted items. This adds a great bright strawberry flavor.

And, just because I thought you would like to see a few more pictures and a favorite strawberry recipe....
Strawberry Shortcake:
semi-homemade biscuits
(Bisquick with a little sugar)

strawberry sauce
(strawberries in the food processor)

and homemade whipped cream
(whipping cream and a little sugar)

And no - this is NOT low sugar or low calorie. But it was oh so good!

The healthy version of this - one bite.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lesson 6: Physical Activity

Yes, it is important to exercise. There are LOTS of benefits - both physical and psychological. I could make a big long list of all the benefits - instead I will just say, we should all be exercising unless there is a medical reason NOT to.

Physical activity BURNS calories (you know, those pesky things we keep eating every day). Those that are successful in weight loss and maintenance, all follow regular exercise routines.

What types of activities should be done?
  • Choose activities you can accomplish and enjoy. Stick to things you like - or can at least tolerate. If you despise the activity, you won't stick to it. 
  • Choose aerobic activities. You will burn more if you can do moderate to vigorous activities. Don't worry if you have to start slower, you will build up to higher levels as you 'get into shape'.

How much should be done?
  • The public health recommendation from CDC and ACSM is at least 30 minutes per day on most or all days. For weight loss and maintenance, it should be closer to 60 minutes every day.

Finding time to be active.
This is usually one of the biggest barriers to exercise.

  • Set aside a block of time like you would any other appointment or 'to do' items during your day.
  • Schedule physical activity for the week. Instead of planning one day at a time, plan your entire week. This will allow you to see your availability for the week and plan longer/shorter workouts to best fit your schedule. 
  • Look for free time during the day. Use the time to be active. If you have 10 minutes at work, walk the stairs rather than checking your email.  Or talk a walk around your building. Try to see how many 2-3 minute walks you can accumulate throughout the day.
  • Turn inactive time into active time. Evaluate how you spend your time. Be honest with yourself.  Try cutting your TV time in half. Talk a walk, go to the gym, etc instead.
Increase Adherence to Your Workouts
Set up activity reminders and cues.
  • set an alarm
  • prepare - have everything ready to go and visible throughout the day.
  • fitness magazines, pictures, etc can be laced around the house/office as reminders/motivators to be active.
Identify any barriers that may arise and make a plan.
  • If you walk/run outside: what will you do if it rains? 
  • If you began programs in the past, why did you stop? How can you prevent this from happening again?

Find ways to increase enjoyment and add variety to your routine.

Establish long-term physical activity goal.
  • Do a 5k (schedule one).
  • Bike/hike certain routes/lengths.
  • Your goal should be difficult, realistic, and measurable. Hard enough to challenge you, but realistic enough to actually achieve.

Share your goals with friends/family. Facebook is great for this.

Believe in yourself.
  • Don't underestimate what you can do. If you doubt yourself, you are less likely to achieve your goals. Set a goal you know you can achieve and then increase your goals as you achieve each one.

Lifestyle activity
Things you do in your day to day happenings. This counts in your overall fitness as well.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Park at the far end of the lot instead of the close end.
Take several trips up and down the stairs throughout the day instead of piling things for a later trip.
Every hour, take short walk breaks at work.
Use your lunch break to get in 10 minutes of walking.
Get off the bus 1 stop earlier.
Walk the dog instead of letting out in the yard.
Take activity breaks during TV commercials.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lesson 5: Eating Healthy When Eating Out

Eating out can be challenging when trying to lose weight (or even maintain for that matter). This lesson presents 4 keys to healthy eating out:
  1. Plan ahead
  2. Ask for what you want
  3. Take charge of what's around you
  4. Choose foods carefully

Plan Ahead
  • Pick where you eat carefully. Go somewhere that you know offers low-fat/calorie choices. If there is a restaurant that is challenging for you - don't go there. Avoid 'all you can eat' places - DANGER!
  • Do a little research. Call ahead or look online for nutritional information and choices. Plan what to order before you go so you won't be tempted once there.
  • Prepare yourself. If you know you will be eating out later in the week, budget your calories to allow extras for your day out. That day, watch your calories earlier/later in the day. Eat some fruit or drink water before you go so you aren't 'starving' when you get to the restaurant. 
  • Other things to consider. Don't drink alcohol before eating. For evenings at a friend's, bring a safe side dish from home to share with others.
Ask For What You Want
  • Think, When Harry Met Sally . Ask for lower-fat/calorie options cooked in a healthy way. For dressing, ask for them to be served on the side. Don't be afraid to ask for items that are not on the menu.
  • Ask for the amounts you want. You can ask for a half serving. Or, just ask to box half of it up to take home. Also consider ordering just an appetizer or something from the children's menu.
  • Be NICE. Be decisive, but not threatening. 
Take Charge of What's Around You
  • Be the first to order.  Don't be influenced by those around you.
  • Keep foods off the table. Have chips/salsa, bread, etc removed or place on the other side of the table where you can't reach them. 
  • Ask for your plate to be removed when you are finished eating. No picking on what's left!
  • Watch Alcohol. There are often large amounts of empty calories and can cause you to let your guard down.
  • If at a social gathering - stay away from the food table!
Choose Foods Carefully
  • You know what to do...
  • Stay away from fried foods. 
  • Watch out for fatty sauces. 
  • Trim visible fat.

Where are your favorite places to eat? How will you change your habits to fit your new lifestyle?