Tag Archives: healthy eating

House Party!

*Full disclaimer: I received free products for hosting a House Party (details below)

I hope you hear House Party and think the same thing I do . . .

Much less eventful, I had my own House Party in January. Quick tutorial, House Party is a company that organizes parties from companies (usually popular brands). You sign up and say you want to host a party and then wait with baited breath to get selected. I think I signed up for House Party years ago when my boy was a baby so that I could get free diapers. Every once in a while I’ll get an email from them so when I saw a party for Eat It To Beat It, I jumped at the chance.

EITBI

Have you heard of Eat It To Beat It? It’s pretty self explanatory but if you want more, check out the website. The Eat It To Beat It book was written by the David Zinczenko, who wrote “Eat This, Not That!” It gives healthier options to popular food choices, and also discusses why items are unhealthy. In my House Party gift pack, I was given a free copy of the book to keep and an additional one to giveaway. I haven’t read the whole thing but I have looked through a bunch of times. It focuses on brand name product substitutions – instead of X brand of cheese, eat Y brand. I’ve referenced the book a few times when seeking out better options, so I like that aspect of it. We’ve been trying to make changes at our house a little at a time, and I’ve found the book helpful with that. Did you know packaged shredded cheese contains wood pulp? Yeah, wood pulp. Needless to say, the one change we made right away was shredding our own cheese.  Side note, trying to use the shredder feature on our food processor that I’ve never used, produced flying cheese and lots of fun for my son and I!

I could write much more about the book, but I also got lots of other good stuff in the House Party pack. (Continuing full disclosure: all these items were provided to me at no cost.)

partypack

I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to do as the host of this little party, so I thought a taste test would be fun.

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So how did the products rank?

  • Tate’s Bake Shop Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Cookies: The hands-down winner. I may or may not have eaten two. (OK, three, stop hounding me.) These cookies were good. I mean, seriously good. Like, I had them 6 weeks ago and still dream about them at night. Alright, I’m not a cookie psycho, I don’t dream about them. Much. Some of the comments were “light,” “crispy,” “sweet,” “delicious,” and “yummy.”
  • Endangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs Bar: Most of us were surprised at how good this was. Chocolate? Always good. Dark chocolate? Not always good. We thought this was “smooth,” “pleasant,” “creamy,” and “sweeter than I thought.” The pieces were very hard to bite into. This is definitely a “let it melt in your mouth” kind of chocolate.
  • Endangered Species Natural Dark Chocolate with 88% Cacao: This is dark – 88 percent – and we found it too bitter for our tastes. I’ll go out on a limb and say for people accustomed to eating very dark chocolates, this is probably good. We’re not one of them, though. It also had a chalky aftertaste that wasn’t great.
  • Blue Diamond Lightly Salted Oven Roasted Almonds: These come in cute little 100 calorie packs. I’m all for anything that helps with portion control. As any nut lover knows, not all nuts are created equal. These were pretty good and a hit with the group. Not too salty but salty enough too add a little flavor.
  • KIND Fruit & Nut Nut Delight Bars: I don’t know about the rest of the group, but I am super picky about any kind of bars. I didn’t expect to like this, but it was very good. We thought it was sweet without being overly sweet. It was a little sticky so you definitely want to keep it in the wrapper. We had a few leftover so I put them in the pantry, and they were gone a few days later!
  • Vitalicious VitaBrownie Deep Velvety Chocolate mix: I baked these before the gang all arrived and the house smelled super yummy, so I had high hopes for the brownies. Unfortunately, they were our least favorite, coming in at a “weird texture,” “too cakey” and had a “strange aftertaste.”

A little off topic of the House Party, but I am proud to say that my six-year-old joined us for the taste test and gave his only five rating to the pomegranate seeds I added to a fruit salad!

fruit

Yay!

Well, it only took me six weeks to get this on paper (so to speak). All in all, it was a good time with good friends and family, and good food.

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Hungry Hungry Emily

“But moooommmmm, I’m SO hungry.”

“You’re fine. You are not going to die of starvation.”

This is a conversation I’ve had countless times with my son and it got me thinking. If he’s not going to starve from not eating for a couple of hours, what makes me think I will? Yesterday I was sitting at work and the second I felt hungry I turned into a crazy person — I have to find something to eat, what am I going to eat, I don’t have a snack, OH MY GOD I am going to starve!

You know when you hear about people having an out-of-body experience? I had the same thing. Except instead of seeing the white light, I saw myself in the Hungry Hungry Hippos game (you remember it, the hippos have to gobble up the marbles). It was quite the vision.

HHH-blog

Of course, I wasn’t going to starve. It was 10:45. I had eaten breakfast only a little while earlier (although, granted, maybe not enough) and was going to eat lunch a little while later. But instinctively, as soon as I felt hungry, I was ready to eat. But I didn’t. I had to consciously think about it and said out loud (albeit quietly since I was in my cube), “You can eat lunch after 11:30. Until then, you’ll just have to deal.” So I drank a cup of water and for the next 45 minutes thought about how hungry I was. Then I got caught up with something and missed my 11:30 time. I didn’t even notice until it was 12:30. Hmmm.

Here’s the thing, and this is just my opinion so feel free to disagree. I think when you are trying to lose weight, it’s OK to feel hungry. If losing weight is largely due to a decrease in food consumption (or calorie consumption, whatever) then don’t you have to be hungry for it to work? For me, part of this journey is not just the realizations but accepting them as well.

So there will be times that I will be hungry. I know there’s a meal coming somewhere behind so I don’t need to panic and I don’t need to start eating whatever I can find. I can be hungry and not turn into a raging lunatic. There will be times that I will be hungry and times that I feel full.

Sometimes I’ll choose to eat and sometimes I’ll choose not to. Whatever the case, I need to be in charge. Food is not the boss of me!

Recipe Review – Meatloaf

We’re on a strict budget, which means we grocery shop based on what’s on sale. This week, that item was ground beef. Now, if you’re willing to get the 80/20 beef, you can get it for really cheap. I’m not so I pay a little more but still got it for a good price. With the protein out of the way, it was just a matter of finding something to make with it. We already were having chili with beef and stuffed peppers with turkey, and have frozen burgers, so I wanted something new. Everyone raves about Skinnytaste recipes so I headed over to her website to find something new. I didn’t find something new, but it was something I hadn’t had in a long time. Meatloaf. Something about meatloaf makes me think of being a 50s housewife, so I’m not generally inclined to make it. But my husband likes it and my son said he ate it at school so I thought he might eat some (he didn’t), so I gave it a shot. (Side note, I just went to the Skinnytaste website to get the meatloaf link and how awesome does this look?)

I only found a recipe for turkey meatloaf so I just subbed in my beef. Two things: (1) this recipe could not have been easier to make and (2) it was really good. I followed the recipe pretty closely. Other than the turkey-beef substitution, I didn’t have marjoram (and also I didn’t know what marjoram was) so I threw in some garlic powder. I looked it up today and substitutes for marjoram are basil or thyme so I was WAY off, but it still worked out OK. Also, I was a little low on ketchup so I added in some barbecue sauce. It’s hard to tell how different it would have been with just ketchup but I feel like the barbecue added a little kick.

Meatloaf is so easy. It’s just mixing everything in a bowl and then baking. Nothing to it. I’ll definitely make this again.

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My favorite part. I LOVE the smell of onions cooking!
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Can’t go wrong with Sweet Baby Ray’s!
meat
Good ol’ lean ground beef
Going in to the oven
Going in to the oven

The hardest part about making meatloaf is waiting an hour for it to cook. Luckily, I have a five-year-old who has lots of things he needs mommy to do  so I barely noticed the time go by!

The finished product
The finished product

I am a terrible food chopper so the onions were a little larger than I would have preferred. Next time I’ll use the food processor, or better yet, my husband.

So We Meet Again

This post has been in my drafts for exactly one month and I haven’t published because I’m too embarrassed. Too ashamed. Too angry. Too frustrated. Too tired. And most of all, too over it. I’m not sure why I am finally publishing it. Maybe I’m just sick of it all and ready to move on. Maybe I’m hoping someone will have the magic answer for me. Maybe I just need some support. Whatever the reason, here it is.

I got on the scale this morning, saw THAT number and thought, “so, here we are again.” This is not where I want to be. Of course, I didn’t need the scale to tell me any of that. I have a mirror; I can see what I look like. I have pants; I can feel how tight they are. I can tell that I physically feel crappy. My stomach hurts. I’m more tired. My skin even has a different look.

I’ve been slowly gaining since the summer. One pound here, half a pound there. But guess what all that adds up to? Me being right where I was two years ago.

stats

I just can’t believe it. I cannot believe I am here again. Let’s be honest, there’s one word that comes to mind when we gain back our weight: FAILURE. There’s no getting around it. No blaming anyone else. It’s not the weather’s fault that it got cold out or the winter’s fault that it’s dark so early. It’s not the box of chocolate’s fault that I ate the entire thing (and two more). It’s not my dad’s fault that he brought over a cake for at least 20 people and that I ate more than half. It’s not my son’s fault that he still wakes up during the night and then very early in the morning and so I’m tired. It’s not the train’s fault that it has a schedule and so I have to leave the house early in the morning. It’s not my husband’s fault that he made a heavier meal and that I ate multiple servings. It’s not the internet’s fault that it has way too much information so that I get totally overwhelmed trying to understand every food, additive, preserve, diet, exercise, activity, etc.

Sure, there are a number of circumstances that contributed to this: depression, work situations, money troubles, etc. Frankly, I’m pretty overwhelmed with life in general. But it all comes down to one thing. It’s me. It’s my fault and mine alone. That also means there’s only one person who can fix this. Me, Myself and I.

So here I go again. I don’t have a plan. I don’t have a clue what I’m going to do.

What I do have is knowledge about everything I need to, the tools to make that happen (for the most part), and the experience to put those in place. I know I will get back on track, but that first step is a hard one. And the first step after you’ve taken that first step a million times before (or at least a dozen to be more accurate), to me, is even harder.

I want to look in the mirror and be happy with what I see. I want to put on clothes and still breathe. I want to see a picture my son drew and not think, “please don’t let me be the fat one.”

I want to be healthy. I want to be healthy. I want to be healthy.

I read an article the other day about a lady in her 60s who was a surrogate for her daughter, and the first thing I thought was, “I’d never be healthy enough to do that.” Never mind that no one has asked me to, nor do I plan on it, the point being that my health is always on my mind.

So that’s it. I’m back here and there’s nothing I can do about that. I can, however, do something about what comes next.

I’m done with this whole failure bullshit. Let’s go. It’s 4th and Goal with the game on the line. I have only one option. Win. Success. Health.

Recipe Review – Creamy Avocado Pasta

First it was, “are you on Facebook?” Then it was, “do you tweet,” and now “did you pin that?” Pin, as in Pinterest, as in the “you think it’s stupid but next thing you know you are pinning everything and getting excited about creating new boards” website. If you don’t know it, Pinterest is a combination of scrapbooking and bookmarking a website. You create a board and then “pin” things to it. You know how when you want to come back to a website, you bookmark it? Now you pin a thumbnail of it and it looks pretty.

Anywho, one of my Pinterest boards is for recipe saving. I always intend to but I’ve never actually made any of the recipes, until, you guessed it, until now! I have been so bored with my eating lately I figured I better shake things up, and so I attempted to make Creamy Avocado Pasta, originally found on the Flourishing Foodie website. In cooking, for me, the more simple the better and this seemed pretty simple –  tomatoes, avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and pasta. It was simple and it was really good!

I’ll skip right ahead to the end product:

And just for comparison, here’s the original recipe photo on the left and mine on the right:

OK, so now the details. (To be honest, I don’t really know how it works doing a recipe review and I don’t want to post anything without permission so I’m not going to post the whole recipe, but you can find it here.

What I liked:

  • It was delicious!
  • Easy to make, even for me!
  • Roasting the tomatoes added incredible flavor. It also gave me time to make the avocado mix before starting the pasta/finishing the tomatoes. I get very flustered in the kitchen doing more than one thing at a time!
  • The avocado mix (avocado, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil) was so good I could eat it right out of the bowl. I will definitely make just that again and use as a dip.

What I would change next time:

  • The recipe used fettuccine. We didn’t have any so I used regular spaghetti, which I found really hard to mix together, so at hubby’s suggestion, I’d probably use bow tie, rotini or penne next time.
  • It was a little too creamy for my taste. The recipe says to blend the avocado mix until “smooth and creamy.” It’s possible that I mixed too much so next time I’ll leave it a little chunkier. It didn’t taste too oily but I will cut back the oil next time. With the avocados and lemon juice, I think two tablespoons of oil is too much.
  • The recipe called for Campari tomatoes. I have no idea what those are but based on the photos I’m guessing like the smaller tomatoes on the vine. I couldn’t find those so I used plum tomatoes. I think next time I’ll use cherry tomatoes. It will be a little harder to cut up (those damn little ones always slip away!) but the plum tomatoes, even cut up, were too big for the pasta.
  • Being my usual self, I added in two extra garlic cloves. I will not do that again. The garlic flavor was a little overwhelming. She made a good call there in her recipe!
  • I didn’t have any pine nuts, which the recipe called for (and at $4.62 a bag was not about to buy any!), so I don’t know what that would have added. I think the nutty crunch would probably be great.
  • The recipe said to use four servings of pasta (instead of a measurable amount). I have no idea how much that is without measuring. Given how much avocado mix I had, I might not have used enough pasta. I’ll have to fool with that.

In short, this was awesome and I’ll definitely make again, with a few minor changes. But that’s the fun with recipes – taking someone else’s creation and making it your own! Or as I like to call it, letting someone else do all the work and sweeping in for the victory!

Tomatoes – bought, chopped and roasted
Avocado, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil

And least I forget, because I’m not sure exactly how much pasta I used, it’s a little hard to figure out the Weight Watchers points.  I’m estimating this at 8-10PP per serving. I know that’s vague but I’ll come back and update after I make it again and measure out the pasta. Don’t freak out about the high points. I wouldn’t eat this every day and, other than the pasta, this is healthy eating at it’s best. Avocado and olive oil are fantastically good for you, and if you cut the oil like I plan to do, it will knock one point off.