Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fifteen minutes? Preposterous.

Fiance: "What's in the stuff?"

Davi: "Corn, peas, carrots, green beans, diced tomatoes, seasoning, and chicken."

"Gumbo is supposed to have sausage and shrimp - - "

"It's 15-minute gumbo."

"Well, I want 20-minute gumbo! Cut up some sausage, throw it in, that's 5 minutes!"

15-Minute Chicken Gumbo.

The Weight Watchers recipe I was initially going to use was a total bust. No flavor!! Ugh. So I improvised on the spot, and I'm very pleased with the results. I've already shared the modified version on the WW site. This yields 6 servings, at 5 points each. A sprinkle of fresh Parmesan makes this dish perfect.

  • 12 oz frozen vegetables (The bag I used had peas, carrots, corn, and green beans.)
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 13.5 oz canned chicken
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp Creole Rub (Pampered Chef)
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tsp dried basil
  • 1 Tsp salt
  1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. (I used a pot. Why? 'Cause I can.) Saute frozen vegetables over high heat for a 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  2. Add flour and garlic, and continue to cook and stir for 2 more minutes.
  3. Stir in chicken, tomatoes, Creole Rub, oregano, basil, and salt. Cook over medium heat for 8 more minutes. 
  4. Devour. 

Whole Wheat Bread for the family.

This is adapted from Paula Deen's recipe for basic bread. I modified it for whole wheat flour, because we are no longer a white bread couple (haaaa). It yields 3 loaves, but I'm thinking of just splitting the dough in two next time to get larger loaves for sandwich-y purposes. The bread came out great, if a little on the smaller side from what I was expecting.

  • 2 - 3 cups boiling water for steam bath
  • 3 cups warm water for dough
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup Splenda (with fiber)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp instant/rapid rise yeast (With this, you only let the dough rise once.)
  • 6 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease loaf pans. (8.5 x 4.5 x 2.75 inches)
  2. Pour the following into the mixing bowl; warm water, vegetable oil, sugar, salt. Turn on the mixer. (Use dough hooks.)
  3. Slowly add 3 cups of flour, 1 at a time.
  4. Once flour is combined, add yeast.
  5. Add remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time; allow flour to combine completely before adding more. I had one of my scrapers on hand to push loose flour with dough towards the hooks of the mixer to make sure it all mixed well.
  6. Cover cutting board or counter with cornmeal. Turn out the dough onto your workspace; from here, handle the dough as little as possible so that it rises better. 
  7. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces (mine were not that equal, heh). Gently fold each piece in half and place into the loaf pans, seams down.
  8. Pour an inch of hot water into a shallow sheet pan (make sure it's big enough to fit all three loaf pans). Place pans in the water, and use glasses or bottles to tent a damp cloth (or two, in my case) over the loaves. The cloth(s) should not touch the loaves.
  9. Let dough rise to double its size, about 10 - 15 minutes.
  10. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until loaves are golden brown.

Did a moth just fly out of my fridge?

Srsly, tho, time to hit the store again. I'm gonna be trying out some new recipes this week, all from Cooking Light: 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes. Here's a preview:

Couscous Salad with Roasted Chicken, 6 pts
Sauteed Garlicky Spinach, 1 pt
15-Minute Chicken Gumbo, 8 pts (Actually, this is a WW recipe.)
Mojito Strip Steaks with Pico de Gallo, 5 pts
Grilled Tomato Salad, 1 pt
Grilled Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Breast, 3 pts
Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, 6 pts
Seared Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Shallot-Mushroom Gravy, 5 pts

That last one has already been attempted and approved by Fiance; I just haven't shared the recipe yet.

I may hang this on my fridge.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Buttery Angel Hair Pasta with Parmesan.

Excellent as a side dish, or double the portion for a light lunch or dinner. Yields 4 servings (1/2 cup per serving), at 4 PointsPlus. This is modified from Cooking Light: 15 Minute 5 Ingredient Recipes.

  • 4 oz uncooked angel hair pasta
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • Italian seasoning (Optional; I used The Pampered Chef's Italian Seasoning Mix.)
  1. Cook pasta per package directions.
  2. Drain pasta; mix in butter.
  3. Serve pasta; sprinkle Parmesan.
  4. Eat.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Swai, baby.

I recently was introduced to the joy that is swai. This is a light, flaky white fish. A bartender at a local bar we've started hitting up told me about it, and scribbled down a recipe for me to try. It was DELICIOUS. I bought fillets without the bone or skin.

Swai fillets
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
Portobello mushrooms
Desired seasoning
Shredded parmesan (if desired)

  1. Season fish fillets as desired. I used Old Bay on mine, Cavender's on his.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Brown the butter in a casserole dish. I assume now that she meant in the over; I did it in a pan and then poured it in.
  4. Saute mushrooms and onion.
  5. Place fish in the dish (ha) and cover with mushrooms and onions. 
  6. Cover and bake for 18-20 minutes.
  7. If desired, cover with parmesan cheese and broil an additional 3-5 minutes.
Also, I'm just now using the niftiness that is the recipe builder on the Weight Watchers site. So when I find a good recipe without the nutritional information, I just plug it in to get the PointsPlus value, and just adjust the ingredients as needed. Pretty sweet!

The last time my closet made me cry.

Months before the wedding we attended in August, I had mentally picked out the dress I would wear. It's this pretty little black and white patterned strapless number with a poofed skirt. I love that dress. On the day of, however, it was squeezing me in all the wrong places. I had a muffin top at the top of the dress, and the rest of my torso wasn't exactly smooth. Fiance had to help me zip it up, and it was a struggle for him. Disappointed, I took it off and reached for the back up.

The next dress also has a poofed skirt, and is red and black. I wore it the day we got engaged. But once again, Fiance struggled to zip it up, and it looked all wrong on me. I was on the verge of tears at this point. I finally settled on another cute black-and-white dress that fit just fine.

On another occasion, I put on a dress that I hadn't worn in four years, a black one with a colorful floral print. Once I forced my arms through the sleeves, however, I knew this wasn't happening. But I couldn't get my arms back through! Crying, I ran into the kitchen and grabbed scissors in an attempt to cut the sleeves off! Fortunately, I only made a tiny tear before Fiance came to my rescue.

I am not fat. But I'm not slender either. The rare times I spend money on clothing these days, I buy size 7. Just a few years ago, I was a size 5. And a few years before that, a size 3. I am not fat. But at some point I had to stop the slow progression. I have 15 pairs of pants in my closet, but consistently only wear four pairs because they are what fit at my current weight. I have two very cute, very stylish (and very expensive!) pairs of jeans that Fiance bought me at Buckle two-and-a-half years ago. He even paid to have the length tailored. I've worn them a handful of times since.

I had several size 3 outfits that I stopped wearing in late 2004, and for years I hung onto them, telling myself, "I'll fit into them someday." Someday never came, though, and I finally gave them all to Redhead's middle-school-aged sister when she moved here with the clothes on her back and a small suitcase.

I am not fat. But I am not happy, either. I want to wear those pretty dresses. I want to wear those cute jeans. I want to button up all the button on my uniform and still have room for lunch! I want to feel confident in a two-piece while sunbathing. I want to walk across a room full of people and not suck in my stomach.

I am not fat. I will never be fat.

Week 1 stats.

I'm down 3 lbs, lost an inch on my waist, lost a quarter-inch on my hips, and half-inch on my bust and arms.

Here's to Week 2!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Balls

This has been modified from a recipe found on Martha Stewart's site. Her site did not have dependable nutritional information, which I needed to determine the PointsPlus Value (Weight Watchers) of the food. I also halved it; her recipe makes 72 balls, mine made about 42.

This recipe makes 4 servings; each serving is 9 points.

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) light unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup Frank's Hot Sauce
  • 1 lb ground chicken (I used 98% fat free fillet of breast.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 5/6 cups dried bread crumbs
  • 1 Tsp coarse salt

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Evenly coat a large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil and set aside.
2.  Place butter and hot sauce in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, whisking, until butter is melted and hot sauce is well incorporated.

Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl; let cool to room temp, about 10 minutes.

3. Add chicken, egg, breadcrumbs, and salt to bowl with butter mixture. I will pause here for a moment to show you how I measured 5/6 cup for the breadcrumbs. I used an Easy-Read Measuring Cup, but you can use a regular one and shoot for half-way between 3/4 and a full cup.
 Using your hands (or in my case, a fork), mix until well combined; all the sauce will have been absorbed.
 Roll chicken into firm, 1-in round balls. I dug up an old measuring spoon, 1/2 Tbsp, and used that.
 Place on prepared baking sheet; line meatballs  into rows so they are touching on all sides.

Transfer to over and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. (I had mine in for 25; I think the rack was too far from the heat source.)

4. Take out of oven and let stand for 5 minutes before removing from baking sheet. Place on a serving platter and drizzle with hot sauce.
I ate mine plain; I might have enjoyed it more with the sauce, but I was tired of math and didn't have the patience to calculate the additional points if I did that. Next time I will use the mixture to make chicken patties. You could also make a sub with the balls. Let me know how you enjoy it, and share any tweeks you make!

Baked Beef Ziti.

This is a Weight Watchers recipe, valued at 7 points per serving (8 servings total). It was tasty! Make sure you have a 4-qt casserole dish handy, although my 3.1-qt Deep Covered Baker did the job. You can use regular pasta. I did not use pre-shredded mozzarella, I shredded it myself. Reasons for this can be found here:

  • 12 oz uncooked whole wheat ziti (more fiber, which means more filling)
  • 2 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 lb uncooked lean ground beef
  • 1 Tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tsp black pepper
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add garlic and saute 2 minutes. Add beef and cook until browned, breaking up meat with a spoon (or a Mix-n-Chop!) as it cooks, about 3-5 minutes; drain off any fat and set pan back over medium heat.
  4. Add oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper; stir to coat beef. Cook until herbs become fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Spoon a small amount of mixture into bottom of casserole dish, just enough to cover the surface; top with half of cooked ziti. Next layer with half of remaining mixture and half of cheese. Layer with remaining ziti and then top with remaining sauce; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Cheese and Tomato Omelet.

This is from Cooking Light: 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes. The book describes this as a "veggie-packed omelet". Haha...silly editors, tomato is a fruit! This is VERY filling, and yields 2 servings valued at 4 points each. (Sorry, no picture; I devoured it before I remembered to snap one.)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 1/8 Tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced seeded tomato (1 small)
  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  2. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; coat the pan with cooking spray. Add egg mixture, and cook until edges begin to set. Gently lift edges of egg mixture with a wide spatula, tilting pan to allow uncooked egg mixture to come in contact with pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until egg mixture is almost set; sprinkle with cheese. Spoon tomato over half of omelet; fold in half.
  3. Cut omelet in half crosswise, and slide on half onto each of 2 plates.

Why is fiber important?

Here's a fiber fact sheet from

Why is fiber important?

Including fiber in your diet is good for your health in lots of ways. A diet rich in high fiber foods can:

• reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
• lower the risk of several forms of cancer
• improve cholesterol and blood pressure
• help regulate your digestion
• help you feel fuller, so you may eat less

What exactly is fiber?

Fiber is the part of plant foods that our bodies can’t absorb or digest. It is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Fiber is also known as roughage or bulk. There are two kinds of dietary fiber: insoluble and soluble. It is important to eat plenty of both.
Insoluble fiber comes from fruits, grains, and vegetables. It adds bulk and acts like a brush to clean out the colon. As it passes through the digestive tract, insoluble fiber remains mostly intact. This helps keep your bowel movements regular.
Soluble fiber comes from fruit, some vegetables, oats, beans, peas, lentils, and barley. When mixed with liquid, it forms a gel, which helps control blood sugar and reduces cholesterol.
What is a whole grain?

A whole grain has all three of its original parts: the bran (fiber-rich outer layer), the germ (inner layer), and the endosperm (middle layer). Whole grains are rich in nutrients, including fiber. Whole wheat flour, oatmeal, rye, cornmeal, bulgur, barley, brown rice, and even popcorn are all whole grains. 

A refined grain has been milled, so only the middle layer (endosperm) is left. Milling removes much of the vitamins, iron, protein, and fiber. “White” and “wheat” flours are refined grains. “Enriched” flour has had some of the nutrients added back, but not the fiber. White rice is also a refined grain.

How much fiber do I need?

The American Heart Association recommends between 25 and 38 grams of fiber a day in a well-balanced diet. The average American eats only 15 grams of fiber a day. 

Adding more fiber to your diet

1. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Eat the skins and peels whenever you can, because they contain a lot of fiber.
2. Try more recipes with beans, peas, lentils, quinoa, bulgur, or brown rice.
3. Eat oatmeal, bran, or another whole grain cereal for breakfast.
4. Choose breads, cereals, tortillas, and crackers that list a whole grain as the first ingredient on the label.
5. Make at least half of your grain servings whole grains.
6. Add fiber to your diet slowly. If you add it too fast, you may feel bloated or have gas pains.
7. Unless your doctor has told you not to, drink 6 to 8 cups of water and other fluids a day to keep things moving smoothly through your intestines.
8. If you eat wheat bran to keep your bowels moving, start with 1 teaspoon per meal. Increase slowly to 2 to 4 tablespoons a day.
9. Buy unprocessed foods when you can. Food processing often removes fiber.

Read food labels

Look for the “dietary fiber” content on food labels. Good sources of fiber have at least 10% of the “percent daily value” for fiber. When looking for whole grain products, read the ingredient list.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Feeling better already!

I am feeling so motivated! I stepped on the scale this morning, even tho it's not my weigh-in day, and I'm down more than 2 lbs! It's probably just water weight, and I know I won't lose that much each week. But it's a start, and it makes me feel really good about myself!

I'm not just improving my eating habits and scheduling in more gym time. I've set myself on a sleep schedule after weeks of staying up past midnite and sleeping in until 9 or 10 am. This is in the hopes of spurring productivity. I am far less productive when I'm sleeping in. I've also set myself on a daily schedule, setting aside time for meals and chores and what have you. It's working so far, but this is just the first week.

I'm so excited to be back on this journey to over wellness; I just wish I'd come back sooner!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

O, the shame.

Two years ago, I lost 14 pounds with Weight Watchers. Four failed PT tests and +11 pounds later, I renewed my membership. Last time around, I was updating my progress on here to keep myself motivated. As you can see, as soon as I stopped updating, I fell off the wagon. So for the one or two of you who read this, if I fail to update promptly, feel free to blow up my comments section.

I can't afford to fail another PT test, and I can't afford to update my entire wardrobe with larger clothing. So here are my goals.

  1. For now, lose 5 pounds. This will be updated at goals are met.
  2. Do 20 push-ups in 1 minute. The minimum is 18, so this should get me an extra point.
  3. Do 40 sit-ups in 1 minute. The minimum is 36.
  4. Run a mile-and-a-half in 16:22 (the minimum) or less. Less would be nice, as I used to do it under 14 minutes when I was active duty.
  5. Rediscover the joy of fitness.
  6. Reestablish good eating habits.
I was doing so well before, but as soon as I shaved a few minutes off my run time and got back down to my active duty weight, I let it slide. I am currently 131 lbs. When I left active duty, I was 120. When I went to basic, I was 106! I would like to ultimately get down to 110. Before you say, "What the hell, are you anorexic?!", I should mention I'm only 5'2", and my size 7 clothing is snug. I don't think it's wrong of me to want to be a size 3 again, and even though the current minimum weight for my height is 109, even at 106 I was healthy.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy New Year: 2012.

On New Year's Eve, a friend of Fiance's, Blue, and his girlfriend came down for the weekend. I made a Puerto Rican feast for us and Biker, consisting of arroz con gandules, habichuelas, tostones, and what should have been churrasco but ended up being London Broil. (The commissary was out of skirt steak, so I settled for flank steak, and voila!)

I was drunk before we even left the house, having downed two glasses of rum and cola and half a bottle of Moscato. We ran in the New Year at a bar, and Blue's GF dropped me off at the house before taking the guys to the bar in town. The next thing I remember was GF walking into the house, and me shooting up from my prone position on the living room floor. When I mentioned this the next morning, GF responded, "Oh, I thought you were playing with the cats!" I replied, "I think that's how it started!"

The plan for the first day of 2012 was to go downtown for the football game, which was what really brought Blue into town, for he is a 49ers fan. Poor Fiance was too hungover however, and though I volunteered to stay behind and take care of him, he insisted that I go on. This was my first live football game; I'm not much into football, but I did have a good time, and as you may know if you follow the madness, the Niners won.

For dinner we had pot roast, mashed potatoes, and some of the pan de agua (bread) that I had made a few days prior. Delicious! The next day for lunch, I improvised with the leftovers and made French Dip sandwiches for myself and Blue's GF while Blue tucked into a bowl of some leftover beef stew. Yeah, we had leftover for daaayyys. Blue and GF left that day to return home, and I do hope they'll come back to visit in the spring. This was her first time in St Louis, and I'd love to take her downtown to see the sites.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays last year, and may this year be full of joy for all of you!