Did I Say I Hate Kale?

Never say never. Never say hate. It’s what I learned growing up and as an adult I became arrogant enough to think I could be so definitive in my position. Such is the moment that I ate crow – I mean kale.

Heading out tonight to do some last minute shopping for our RV vacation and the hangries came on. Lo and behold, Wegman’s was right across the shopping plaza with their seemingly endless buffet of goodies. I could be really bad and throw healthy living to the wind by loading up on the mac and cheese or Asian bar. Instead I sought out the vegetarian options.

kale-and-quinoa-patties-everydaydishes_com-HSitting in front of me were these cute little cakes. The sign above said Quinoa and Kale Cakes, 150 calories. At first I moved past them to inspect my other options as the word kale just brought me to bitter, muddy, indigestible memories of my attempts to eat kale. I mean, putting it in a green apple smoothie didn’t even help. But, options at the food heaven were crowding out my choices and I turned back to those cakes and bravely placed one in my clam container. The reasoning, great protein source and packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

Here’s the thing, it was delicious. Flavorful, creamy, great texture from the quinoa and perfect with some Asian vegetables and gyoza. The perfect substitute for rice or noodles, and yet it didn’t feel like a substitute.

I didn’t taste the kale. Or, maybe I did. But, the fact is, I ate the kale and I liked it.

So, I found the recipe for Wegman’s Quinoa and Kale Cakes. I also found another from Everyday Dishes. Check them out. So yummy.

Chubby Girl Tackles Dieting in an RV

Dieting is such a dirty word to me right now, but it seems like the only way to describe the day in and day out effort of losing weight and getting healthy even when traveling. Vacation season is upon us and our summer is a combination of mini RV weekend getaways and a big 2-week road-trip starting on Saturday. So, while I talk a lot about getting and staying healthy while on the road for work, I haven’t quite gotten around to the other part of living on the road.

First, living on the road. We have our RV, Bertha. She is named as such due to her big rear. Just about every weekend we pack her up and head to the beach or mountains. bertha.jpgIt’s our summer cottage on wheels. We can stay at a state campground right on a state beach (Salisbury or Scusset in MA), or head up north to the White Mountains and stay at Echo Lake in Franconia NH. On Saturday we will be trekking down to Ashville, NC and stopping along the way at state and national parks in PA, OH and KY for hiking, kayaking, and seeing the caves. A little bypass from nature to the city (Columbus) should bring biking and a beer crawl. Have you seen how many breweries are in Columbus? Then we’ll head back up and stay at a resort in VA before making it home.

Anyway, for the most part, having a built in kitchen is perfect for me. I control my meals. However, there are times when I want a vacation too and being the full-time chef is not on my list of an awesome vacation. This weekend was the great saboteur. A rainy cold day on Saturday down on the cape meant we needed to get out of the spacious, but still tight RV quarters. We headed to Fisherman’s View in Sandwich. My downfall? The manager let us order off menu to let us have a Fisherman’s Platter. It was filled with fried fish, shrimp, scallops, clams and oysters. Not to mention the fries. Even splitting this massive plate, I couldn’t even begin to figure out how many calories I ate. Add to this the Fisherman’s View Summer Ale and life couldn’t have been better.  The guilt afterward was crushing.

How did I handle this lapse of judgement and debauchery? I made sure I ran every morning and toned it down the day before and day after with clean eating. Results? I was down a 1 1/2 this week. I’m officially in the teens now!

But, I feel lucky. That was a single day. It was also right after a horrible 3 week plateau where I seriously considered calling it a draw with my body and going into maintenance mode. I’m still cringing at how I wolfed down that amazing seafood. But, let’s be clear, I regret the act. I absolutely enjoyed every bite! Too much!

It’s the road trip where things are going to get interesting. Yes, I can cook. But, there are a number days where we have 6-7 hours of driving. That is a lot of sitting. I also haven’t a clue how I will get my runs in. I’m leaning on, and looking forward to, getting out on the local trails, but I’m also nervous that I don’t know the area and a little girl out in the woods by herself could run into a big bad wolf. I’m not a big pond and lake swimmer. I like clear water and clean beach. Some places we stay have pools, but I’ve typically found RV campgrounds (even the cushiest) have highly chlorinated pools that kill my eyes (too much peeing going on in those pools).

So, this week I’m building my plan to offset the days when we do go out and have some local grub and watch our butts spread across the RV seat. Not sure how this will work, but I’ll report during and after the trip. I’m hoping I can pull off at least a pound if not two over the next two weeks. We’ll see. Wish me luck.

Need My Veggie Hash

I’m not sure why we don’t see more hash recipes out there. I don’t mean the corn beef and potato hash from your childhood breakfast. Or, even that hash always has to have potato in it. I’m talking about the throw the kitchen sink of vegetables into a hash and chow down.

My biggest problem with vegetables growing up was that they were always overcooked to the point of mush and bitterness. The ultimate was when Mom would put a can of asparagus in a dinner serving dish and call that vegetables. In all honesty, the only time I bought canned asparagus was to make kitten food which seems like the only thing canned asparagus is good for. You can’t get any grosser than that.

How I learned to love vegetables (not kale, don’t love, never will), is to cook them only as long as you have to. Keep them a bit crunchy. They keep their color, flavor, and fill you up better. So, my new food obsession is the veggie hash.

Veggie hash is basically any mix of chopped and/or riced vegetables with a chopped up veggie burger or other protein thrown in. Think:

  • Riced cauliflower, riced sweet potato, riced broccoli, corn, chopped tomato and chopped mushrooms  with chopped veggie burger mixed in.
  • Chopped beets, corn, black beans, celery, tomato, avocado and chopped egg (or fried egg on top).
  • Chopped grilled eggplant, chopped olives, chopped zucchini, chopped red onion, chopped tomato, toasted pine nuts and lean ground turkey. Sprinkle with parmesan if you like.

It’s kind of a warm twist on the boring salad. It can be completely vegan, vegetarian or the lighter side of carnivore. The best part is that this kitchen sink approach let’s you use up those leftovers. Got left over grilled veggies? Chop up and throw in. Got left over corn on the cob? Scrape down and throw in. That left over burger? Its hash tonight. And yes, those left over potatoes can be added in to.

Seasonings I tend to do simple salt/pepper/garlic (SPG), soy sauce, pesto, or some random sauce in the fridge. I can even throw in some fresh herbs like cilantro and mint for a little kick.

Anyway, for meals under 300 calories that fill you up, are healthy and tasty, can’t beat a veggie hash.

Oh Wow – Cauliflower Hash with Marinara and Fried Egg

Not sure if it was because I had just finished my workout, was hungry before my workout, or if I just outdid myself, but my dinner was sooooo gooood!

I have a confession, I have an obsession with cauliflower rice. I don’t even think of it as a substitute anymore. I’ll take cauliflower rice over real rice, couscous, pasta or potatoes any day. My other recent obsession if going full on Beyoncé but instead of putting a ring on it, I put a fried egg on it. Well, tonight, I put these two obsessions together and I ate it so fast I couldn’t even take a picture and share.  But, I will share my recipe.

Michele’s Cauliflower Hash with Marinara and Fried Egg

I made this for one, but you could easily multiply this for four based on my measurements. I am also using some leftovers but you can substitute for fresh.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 head of cauliflower (will make about 5 oz ‘rice’)
1 oz baby spinach
2 T pine nuts
1/4 cup marinara sauce (scooped from a half used jar)
1 large egg
1 1/2 oz cooked hamburger (took a quarter from a portabella swiss burger made the night before)
1 T chopped garlic
pinch kosher salt
pepper from pepper grinder

Directions:

Cut cauliflower roughly and add to food processor. Pulse until it is chopped. Add in spinach and pulse again until spinach is chopped and cauliflower is the consistency of rice.

Place pine nuts on a aluminum foil and toast in the toaster oven for several minutes until pine nuts become a toasted color. Keep an eye on them as they easily and quickly burn.

Cut up a cooked gourmet portabella and swiss burger into quarters. Take one quarter and chopped up. You can use any other pre-cooked leftover burger or simply cook up some fresh ground beef.

In hot pan, spray with cooking spray and add in cauliflower and spinach mixture. Sprinkle in the kosher salt and grind the amount of pepper you like. After about two minutes, add in garlic, pine nuts and chopped burger. Saute until cauliflower is tender and then pour onto a plate. Then add the marinara sauce over the hash.

In same pan, spray again with cooking spray and fry the egg. If you like, sprinkle egg with a bit of kosher salt and grind pepper over ( I do ). When egg is starting to brown at the edges, flip over to form a fast crust over the yolk. You want the the yolk to still be saucy.

Remove egg and lay over the top of your hash, then prick the yolk to allow it to flow over. Then eat!

Nutrition: 306 calories according to MyFitnessPal log

Ideas:

I could easily have changed out the burger for shrimp, chicken sausage, or ground turkey.

If you don’t like pine nuts, I’ve also added chopped cashews and pistachios. But I’m sure walnuts could also be good.

Never Going To Eat Boring

Go to any fitness or healthy living blog, website, or other self-help area and the advice to eat boring is the main suggestion. When I see it, I really have to roll my eyes. When it comes up seems to be more for those 10 vanity pounds or the people that are trying to go from fit to ripped. Maybe there are others on a bigger weight loss plan doing it too, but this just seems to be another fad and gimmick.

It is hard enough to retrain yourself to eat healthy, get in activity, and exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Then, do that not for a few weeks or months but for the rest of your life.  So the idea that you would eat lean chicken and broccoli every meal or some slight variation of that forever is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. Never am I going to do that. Food, like it or not, is as much about sustenance as it is cultural connection.

I’m down 46 pounds so far. 7 pounds left for my happy weight, 12 pounds left to give me some wiggle room. Thus, I’ve been looking around at what I need to do when the weight is off and I move into steady state mode. The odds are against me. More than 80% of people that lose at least 10% of their weight gain it back and then some, and some estimates are as high as 97%. I’m reading up on metabolism, calories needed to maintain, and keeping to healthy habits.  I read this one article that blew me away and gave me some scientific perspective on keeping off the weight. It demonstrated how those that became overweight and obese physically change themselves and need different tactics to maintain weight loss compare to the forever skinny crowd. Here are some take-aways – former dieters that keep the weight off:

  • Eat on average 1380 calories per day compared to non-dieters that eat 1500 – 2000 calories per day. Although men would eat about 420 calories more than women.
  • Limited their fat intake to about 29% per day and generally modified what they eat to keep calories in check, like eating lower calorie dressings. Not so for the the forever skinny.
  • Exercised for longer periods than non-dieters. 60-70 minutes of walking or 35 – 40 minutes of higher intensity aerobics such as running to keep their metabolism up. This averages to about getting 200 minutes per week compared to the recommended of 150 for the typical person.
  • Eat breakfast everyday.
  • Weigh themselves at least once per week to keep on top of pounds that may be creeping in.
  • Limit television time.

What was striking in this study is that the habits of those that could keep the weight off had nothing to do with boring eating.  Yes, diet is consistent and continuous self control to keep within the appropriate calorie-in/calorie-out ratio was maintained. But, boring food was not explicit. The real thing is that they avoided splurging, weekend binging, and over-doing it during the holidays and emotional periods.  It comes down to discipline and control.

And, while I’m only a scientific study of one, in no way did I ever eat boring the entire time I was losing weight. My food was varied, flavorful, and still nutritious even if lower in calories, lower in fat and avoidance of processed carbohydrates such as flour/breads. If I had to eat boring, I’d be back at almost 170 pounds again after extreme deprivation.

Last night proved it. Here is what I had for dinner.

Turkey Puttanesca over Zoodles and Spaghetti Squash
Recipe serves 8
Single serving 266 calories

Sauce (for 8):
Jar Pemberton’s Puttanesca with Calamatta Olives Sauce
1 lb ground organic/no antibiotic turkey
5 oz cubed eggplant
2 T Tuscan seasoning
1 T chopped garlic
1/4 cup red wine
Ground pepper
2 pinches kosher salt
Cooking spray

Noodles (single portion):
3 oz Zucchini noodles
1/2 cup Spaghetti squash

Instructions:
Spray pan with cooking spray. Sauté turkey with Tuscan seasoning, pepper, salt. Add in eggplant and garlic when turkey is almost done cooking. When eggplant is almost done, add in red wine to deglaze pan. Add in Puttanesca sauce and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve over noodles.

Noodles:
This is less about a recipe and more technique. I spiral my own zucchini which I find much fresher and less slimy than when purchasing pre-spiraled at the supermarket. It’s easy and it’s fun. For the spaghetti squash I simply cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, then place skin side up on a foiled pan. This goes in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until squash is fork tender. I take a fork and scrape the squash out which creates strands (spaghetti).

For this recipe I take the zucchini and squash and saute lightly to heat up but still keep the zucchini firm. I’ll add a small pinch of kosher salt and grind black pepper over it while cooking too.

This was absolutely not boring. But with simple substitutions like vegetables for my noodles and ground turkey rather than beef, I had a satisfying, flavorful, nutritious and filling meal. And Tom? He was more than happy with the dinner (he had a little more than a single serving!) – he even said he would have it again.

So there you have it, never think for a second you need to eat boring to lose weight. The goal is building up a habit of healthy living and mindful eating. Keep your macros in mind, the sugar low, and the activity strong and we can all lose the weight and keep it off.

 

 

 

 

 

Let the travel begin

The next two weeks are crazy. In NYC as we speak. Heading to Philly. Off to Stockholm and Geneva next week.

I’ve been lucky to have a bit of a hiatus from travel for a month. It went a long way to putting me in control of my exercise and food. Ever sick of the ‘salad’, eating at home let me get creative with vegetables again and even find ways to create salads that I like vs. the rabbit greens you get in restaurants.  And, as much as I try, I hate kale. Why is every restaurant salad now kale!

Day one travel isn’t going quite as planned. I missed breakfast this morning after rising late and scrambling, but was easily able to curb my hunger with a coffee on the way to the airport and tea on the flight. I hit up some NYC restaurant I can’t for the life of me remember the name, but it was on Avenue of the Americas down from the Hilton. Ahi Tuna tar tar and a big ole plate of grilled asparagus hit the spot. I crunched down on a Lemon Skinny Girl bar and another coffee during a conference presentation. Then I promptly lost lunch and snack on the cab ride to the airport due to the worst driving I ever experienced causing me the worst car sickness you can imagine.  So, completely not a bulimic moment, but man it was gross. Thank god for the bag holding my heels (heels removed).

I found this great dumpling restaurant in the airport and had Asian chicken lettuce cups and Edamame dumplings. It was so yummy and made me immediately forget my cab ride over. The only downside is that since 7:30p (it’s now 9:00p) the fire alarm in Terminal C has gone off 4 times. It’s hilarious how all the travelers look up, groan, and don’t even consider getting up to exit. Me included. So far all is well. Probably the crazy storms messing with the system.

I’ve got minimal time to get home tonight and pack for three days in Philly. I should have done this ahead but again, planning wasn’t in my cards. I think I’m secretly hating having to travel. The biggest thing is to make sure I bring my running gear and Bluetooth headphones. I may have to do a Rocky impression in the City of Brotherly Love. Or, I could jog around Temple University and use their stadium stairs for conditioning; although the real fun would be to do it because I’m going there to get my daughter to her college orientation and I could be the embarrassing parent.  No, I won’t do it, but thinking about it makes me giggle.

Anyway, for the day, I’m not doing that bad. Calories are in check. I hit my standing goal (12 hrs), exercise goal (over 30 minutes), and steps goal (over 10K) on my watch. I’m 100 calories shy on my move goal (400) but maybe after this I’ll get up and walk around the terminal. I’ve got almost 2 hours to kill still after my first flight was canceled and my current flight is delayed an hour. They will kick my out of the lounge in 45 minutes too.

Status

CW – 125.5
Achievement – out of the overweight BMI! Average run 3-5 miles.
Current trouble – I have almost no client presentable work clothes that fit. Down to four dresses I luckily kept from years ago.
Current luck – Old pants that are 2s and 4s in a saved bin fit! Just wish they were light enough for summer.
Working on – 10 lbs to go. Hitting 6 mile run. Climbing Falling Waters, crossing three peaks, including Lafayette, and going down Bridle Path in Fanconia Notch, NH for September. Woo Hoo!

Postcard for Mother’s Day

To all the mom’s out there – Happy Mother’s Day!

Just finished my mother’s day breakfast made by my family: real German pumpernickel toasted and topped with a fried egg, smoked salmon and slices of avocado. A side of fresh berries, mango and banana. A venti Americano. And they even cut up pastries in small pieces so I could sneak in bakery goodness without over doing it. Are you jealous yet? 🙂

Michele at Gustavos in WalthamMother’s Day for me started last night since I have to hop on a plane this afternoon for San Francisco. (a little friendly online shaming below to my friends in SF…) Tom took me out for dinner to this amazing Cuban restaurant, Gustavo’s in Waltham. We shared little plates of everything from marinated pork tips in polenta, grilled lamb, creamy paprika shrimp with radishes and tomato, black been and quinoa salad, and the most amazing roasted cauliflower. Tom also got this seafood stew with a Cuban twist. I don’t know if it is because I’ve been on a healthy living/diet for over 4 months, but this is definitely my new favorite restaurant.

Dinner didn’t fit into what was left of my calorie allotment for the day (although I did work to keep under control and overage minimal), but after 30 minutes to a Jillian Michaels’ circuit training video, 30 minutes on the elliptical, and 30 minutes on a steep treadmill incline, I think I was entitled to an amazing dinner. The true test is to do the same workout today as I am being reasonable in my meals, but my family is also tempting me with crab cakes for later. I even saw a box of chocolates. And I could steal a Twizzler for about 35 calories – Yay!

Yes, for me Mother’s Day is about good food. But, it has also been about feeding my soul. Whether it is visiting the art museums, doing some yoga, pampering at the spa, gardening, or going out for a walk, my Mother’s Days are in some ways a template for how I should be taking care of myself all the time. My family does a lot to take away my daily stress today, which helps. I need to give them a lot of credit for that; after all, they pick up the pieces when I’m road warrior-ing. Yet, what I need to constantly realize and remind myself of is that a healthy lifestyle is about taking care of me not just one day a year, but everyday of my life.

So, my message to all moms today, take care of yourself today and everyday. Think about what gives you the most happiness and renewal on Mother’s Day and work to carry that through always.

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(a little friendly online shaming below …)  — I’m calling out the vendor I’m with this week – Informatica! – to say that the next time they plan their event, think carefully about timing and be kinder to us mother’s out there. Cutting Mother’s Day short is a bit cold in order for us Mom’s to make it to our morning analyst meetings. But, nothing that a good Americano and breakfast banter can’t fix!