Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Better Mood and More Energy!

I really don't know where the week has gone.  I do know that I've been treating my food choices and exercise as high priority items, right up there with caring for the kiddos.  Since our last visit I've worked out at the gym 3 times and my knees are thanking me for making the extra effort!  It's amazing what happens when you strengthen the quads and hamstrings.  It takes so much stress off the knees.  I also feel like I have more energy, enabling me to keep up with my busy household and my outlook is currently very positive. Must be those workout endorphins.

On another note, I've been wanting to share a fantastic recipe with you that I found in my latest Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  This Slow Cooker Indian Chicken Stew is packed with flavor and consists of really healthy ingredients!  It was developed by Irene Goodall of Loxahatchee, FL and her submission won a $400 prize!  Here you go:

Slow Cooker Indian Chicken Stew
2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 tsp curry powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper and/or cayenne pepper
2 15-oz cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 T lime juice
1 9-oz pkg fresh spinach (optional)
Hot cooked rice (optional)

  1. Lightly coat a 6-qt slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray or oil.  Add chicken, onion, and garlic to the slow cooker.  Add curry powder, ginger, salt and pepper to the slow cooker.  Toss to coat.  Stir in drained beans, undrained tomatoes, broth, and bay leaf.  Cover and cook on high-heat setting 4 to 5 hours or low-heat setting 8 to 10 hours.
  2. Stir lime juice into cooked stew.  Stir spinach leaves into stew and let stand 2 to 3 minutes to wilt.  Serve with rice.
Makes 8 (about 1 1/2 cup) servings (5 POINTS on the Weight Watchers plan)

My notes:  

First of all, my slow cooker is currently in storage so I sauteed the onion in a large soup pot then added the rest of ingredients from step1.  I brought it to a boil then left it to simmer, covered, for a couple of hours on the stove.

Instead of ground ginger I used the fresh stuff.

Instead of spinach I used fresh, chopped kale.  

This dish is divine!  It's definitely one I will be making again very soon.  I think sometime I'll also try increasing the broth (and adjust seasonings accordingly) to make a soup rather than the thicker stew.

Well, I'll post results of my upcoming weigh-in in the next day or two.  Until then I'd love to hear what others are doing to meet their weight loss and fitness goals.  Keep up the good work, everyone!

Friday, August 20, 2010

That's a lot of butter!

Last night was my first weigh-in at Weight Watchers since re-joining a week ago and I was down 12 sticks of butter.  Oooops, I mean 3 pounds!  Yay!

You see, I like to express my weight loss in sticks of butter because, well, butter's fat . . . and it's just more satisfying to me to be able to picture all those sticks of butter in my mind.

A great start, wouldn't you say?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I'll share with you a favorite recipe I developed by accident.  My hubby and I call it "jumble".  I came up with this dish one night after I'd prepared tacos or burritos for the rest of the family and I was trying to throw together something for myself that wouldn't use up too many Weight Watcher POINTS.  Basically, I took the leftover chopped veggies, added some of the spicy ground beef and stirred in some leftover brown rice I had in the fridge.  The juice of half a lime and a bit of olive oil along with some extra spices completed the concoction.  Don't worry about precise measurements -- just use the following as a guide and tweak it to your taste.

Chopped vegetables:  cucumber, tomato, onion, lettuce, fresh jalapeno and cilantro are all wonderful.

Protein:  I don't typically use a prepared taco mix when I make tacos or burritos.  I simply brown the ground beef, drain the fat and add the following seasonings to taste:  salt, garlic powder, chili powder, ground cumin and cayenne pepper.  A little water or broth is helpful to get everything melded together.  Just let that simmer on low (covered) while you're chopping your veggies.  On occasion I've made a vegetarian version with black beans and corn.

Starch:  Brown rice is nice but I encourage you to give barley a try!  I pre-cook a couple of cups of barley almost weekly just to keep on hand for this type of dish.  Instead of water I use broth (chicken or beef) and use the same ratio of liquid to grain as you would when cooking brown rice.

Seasonings:  Fresh lime juice and a bit of olive oil are wonderful in jumble.  Sometimes I go with Ken's Creamy Lite Caesar Dressing instead of the oil for a slightly different flavor.  I also like to add more chili powder, cumin and either fresh garlic or garlic powder.

So, that should get you started.  I gravitate to the Mexican seasonings but have often thought about trying to come up with a Greek inspired jumble or maybe one with an Asian twist.  I'd love to hear how you like "jumble" and look forward to reading about your own variations.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Food Prep is a Key to Success

What helps you stay on track with your diet?  I've found that having healthy, appetizing food ready to go in my refrigerator increases my success.  I'm not just talking about having pre-chopped vegetables ready to assemble into a salad.  That's helpful, to be sure, but I challenge you to go a step further in anticipating your meals and to carve out a little time to prep in advance.  This way, when your stomach is rumbling you're not tempted to eat something you shouldn't just because it's easier.

Here are a few things I try to keep in my refrigerator, beyond fresh fruits and veggies:

  • cooked brown rice or barley
  • sauteed vegetables (my current fave is zucchini and onions with a little pesto mixed in)
  • cooked, lean protein (usually grilled chicken breasts, taco meat, or leftover meat from a night or two before)
  • boiled eggs
  • tuna salad (made with lots of minced onion, celery and bell pepper, light mayo and/or Ken's Light Creamy Caesar Dressing)
The other day I threw together 1/2 cup of barley, a healthy portion of the sauteed zucchini mixture and a handful of chicken breast strips.  After a mere 2 minutes in the microwave I had a warm, comforting lunch that rivaled any spa cuisine, if I do say so myself!  My online tracking tool at tells me it only "cost" me 4 POINTS.  It was gorgeous, to boot!  Next time I'll snap a picture for you.

So, I'll ask again:  What helps you stay on track?

What's in a name?

So, you may be wondering what "left of heft" means . . .  It's simple, really.  First, imagine a number line like we all worked with in grade school.  Okay, now that you have that visual, pick a number on the number line that you consider a hefty weight.  Can you see that image in your mind's eye?  Now, if you scan to the left of that number the digits are lower, right?  Well, that's what I'm looking to achieve.  I'm striving for numbers to the left of heft.

Let's get healthy together.

I don't know about you but I've been dieting since I was 11 and have had a few successes over 30+ years but haven't ever maintained weight loss.  Add to that the fact that I've always gained back more than I lost in the first place.

That's about to change.  It has to.  I refuse to be obese for the rest of my life!  Earlier this year I began to have pain in my knees and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and torn menisci in both joints!  Did you know that every unwanted pound you carry around is like 3 pounds to your knees?  I found myself yearning for a handicapped parking permit and shopping for a "cute cane".  Luckily, I've come to my senses and have decided to make my health a priority.  I won't resort to those aids without a fight!

I hope you'll check back often to join me on my trek.  I'll be sharing my experiences and since I'm a pretty awesome cook you can count on some tasty healthy recipes.  So, what are you waiting for?  Let's get healthy together!