Sunday, January 29, 2012

little inspirations

A handful.


Hard for me to leave.

End of week 4, start of week 5!

End of week four already. I can't believe it. 

I'm sad to say I didn't do very well this week. This seems to be pretty consistent for me, doesn't it? Parts I did well, and parts I didn't. 

Calorie-wise I only stayed on track 4 out of the 7 days. My goal is usually to get at least 6 of 7 days on-target. And if I go over on the 7th day, I aim for it to not be that much more. The culprit? Alcohol and potlucks. Oh man. Tuesday we had a "going-away" party for my unit. We moved buildings two weeks prior but we hadn't had the potluck yet. Normally, potlucks at my work are pretty safe. There are usually fruit and veggie plates, and I typically bring my own lunch as a back-up in case there are options that aren't healthy. Unfortunately, what I thought was a potluck actually ended up being something catered by Q'doba, and I hadn't brought any other lunch with me. Thursday night was spent with my dad as usual, and I got my typical vegetarian Jimmy John's sub (high calorie and high fat, but so delicious) but then made myself some drinks. I ended up staying there pretty late. Then when I got home, I was so hungry that I ate more. Ugh. 

I did do pretty well on exercise this week, though. I racked up 200 fitness minutes this week. Not amazing, but pretty good for me. Most were pretty high intensity.

Friday night I was struggling. It'd been a long week at work. Having my friend there is great, but trying to train a complicated job while trying to actually complete said job is stressful. She kept talking about getting Chinese food after work, and all I could think about was how great it would be to get some myself, a bottle of wine, and relax in front of the TV. I almost did it, too.

But instead, I came home as planned, ate my leftover winter vegetable stew, did a quick and intense cardio kickbox session, and worked a little on my novel. I went to bed early and had a great sleep. Such a better decision. 

All in all, though, I gained 2.6 pounds this week. Ugh. 

I know I shouldn't be so dependent on the scale. I also felt bloated this morning so I'm going to weigh again tomorrow and the next day (so I can sum my total weight loss for January.)

I leave for Florida on Friday! I'm really excited. I'm hoping to eat really healthily there, what with all the fresh produce. Last year when we went, I ate healthily part of the time, but then ended up going out to bars with my sister at night. I'm hoping to do way less of that on this vacation. Maybe once or twice we can go out, but I would rather spend this trip spending time by the pool and beach instead, relaxing. 

So I only work through Wednesday. I took Thursday off so I can pack and get my apartment organized. Thus, I only menu planned from Saturday through Thursday. Here's this week's plan:

Cape Malay Curry (the recipe is here. I rarely ever cook with red meat, but this is one exception - I LOVE this recipe! I've only made it twice because it's pretty time-consuming as it has to simmer for a couple hours, but it's very easy. Tons of complex flavors, I just love it.) 

Cajun Vegetable Pizza. Recipe adapted from here - this was delicious! 1st time making it. The original site gives rough estimates. I used Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough. To keep it "light", I used 2.5 oz of cheese on the entire pizza - 1 oz reduced-fat smoked gouda (Trader Joe's makes a great one) and 1.5 oz fresh mozzarella.) The rest of the toppings on the pizza are just veggies - crushed tomato as the base (I just chopped one regular tomato up finely and spread it across the crust), jalapeno (I used anaheim because the store didn't have any jalapenos), red onion, bell pepper (I used a yellow one), and corn. The cajun seasoning makes this so special!

Bean-stuffed Peppers with Manchego (I've made this once before well over a year ago and recall loving it. I may post the recipe after I make it. It's a really unique dish! Not your ordinary stuffed pepper recipe.) 


Sunflower seed burger with avocado with a side of steamed broccoli (I just use a Sunshine Burger,  which I recently discovered - an organic, soy-free and wheat-free veggie burger. The only ingredients are organic brown rice, raw sunflower seed,s, carrots, herbs, and sea salt. Delicious! Tastes nothing at all like meat, but it's delicious on a bun or roll with avocado and ketchup.) 


After that I'm not sure, as we'll be in Florida! I presume we'll do some good grocery shopping when we get there. I'm excited to go swimming and get some sun. 

I'm going to post on the 31st to do a summary for January. I am just hoping that I lose these extra couple pounds I gained, because I'd like to maintain a 10-lb loss for January!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

End of week 3, start of week 4

Well, it is the beginning of week four already. I can't believe how fast time goes by.

3 weeks down. I will say that in week 3  i did better than week 2, but could have done way, way better. I didn't avoid alcohol, and I didn't stay within my calorie range a couple days. I did meet my exercise goals but could have done a lot more. 

Good news is that I lost those 2 pounds I gained last week. So I'm down .2 pounds from my lowest weight since I started January 1, and in total, I've lost 10.2 pounds since i started January 1st. 

Still need to figure out what to do with my stress level. I feel like I keep trying things and they just aren't working for me. I will have to work on that. My job is just terrible!

One of my new favorite workout tools is this Wii game.. It's essentially cardio boxing, and not much else, but it's really fun. I'm having a lot of trouble getting the "jump rope" to work the way I want to… which is too bad. Anyway, I had a lot of fun with it the first time I used it and I burned over 400 calories in 45 minutes according to my heart rate monitor, so I though that was pretty awesome. I'm definitely going to want to look into getting some more Wii Fit games. 

Also wanted to share one of my favorite recipes. Not going to post it here since it's from another person's blog and I didn't alter it significantly in any way, so I'll just link it - Zesty Garlic Chicken Wraps from Crepes of Wrath (one of my favorite food blogs - everything I've made from there has been delicious!)  I used a bunch of spinach and also used sharp cheddar (chopped into small cubes) in place of the pepperjack. I've made this twice now and it's amazing. The first time, I wasn't tracking my calories so I made extra sauce because the sauce is pretty much the best thing ever. But it's definitely one of the higher-fat meals that I make (due to the olive oil, though a lot does drain off when you remove the chicken from the marinade - I tried to estimate how much I actually consume) so when tracking carefully I didn't make more sauce. So good though. 

On the creativity front, I am working on (and almost finished with) a painting that I sort of like. I'm almost out of canvas already! I'm also planning on finally opening my novel tonight after I finish this blog… I just get frustrated every time I open it. I am becoming a bit obsessed with Pinterest… there are a lot of crafts and stuff that I think even a non-crafty person like me could handle. 

Here's my menu plan for the week. I went grocery shopping yesterday. They opened a new grocery store right next to my apartment. It used to be a Cub and I never liked the produce there, but I do like the new store. It's a lot more pricy than my normal store though. 

Zesty Garlic Chicken Wraps (recipe above) and baby carrots

Winter Vegetable Pie (recipe here.)This is delicious, but I don't think I made it right because mine turned into more of a stew than a pie. I don't think the veggies I picked out were big enough. Tasty though!)

Spicy Tofu Steaks with Bok Choy 


Portobello mushroom and red bell pepper sandwiches w/ broccoli

Jimmy John's vegetarian sub


Things I'm looking forward to… 
Having my friend start at my work tomorrow… hoping she can help with the stressful workload!
Picking up my new glasses after work tomorrow. They finally came in on Friday but the weather was so bad that I couldn't stop to get them. 
And most of all, going to Florida! I just have 8 more working days before I get to go to Englewood. Hopefully the weather will be nice. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Delicious dinner

This is one of the best stir-fries I've made in a long time. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I found the recipe. It was in some sort of free online cookbook that had recipes for typical Americanized Chinese food. I wasn't sure about the marinade for the chicken, but it made it really tender and delicious. I tend to over-cook my chicken, and it gets tough, but that didn't happen with this recipe. I altered it slightly from the original - mainly, I made more sauce because I added some broccoli to it (the original recipe had no vegetables.) Also had to change a couple ingredients.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Garlic Chicken

Serves 3-4 depending on how much chicken and vegetables you use (mine made 3 servings)

For the stir-fry:
about a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 14 oz)
1 egg white
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp sherry (I used cooking sherry)
4 green onions (I left these out because mine went bad)
1 tsp of minced ginger (use the fresh stuff, not the stuff from the bottle, for best results)
6-7 cloves of garlic (don't even think about using jarred for this!)
about 2-3 cups of vegetables of your choice (I used 200g broccoli, you could also add thinly sliced carrot, mushrooms, or snow peas - next time I will use a combination)
2 tbsp of canola oil (you could probably get away with using less, maybe 1 tbsp, if you have a really good non-stick skillet - or try using cooking spray, but the marinade tends to stick)
a couple tablespoons of water or vegetable broth

for the sauce:
2 tsp chile garlic sauce 
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
4 tsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp sherry
4 tbsp soy sauce

If you have the time, stick the chicken in the freezer for about an hour, until firm so that it is easy to slice thinly. Slice the chicken crosswise to make long, thin strips. In a small bowl, combine the egg white, 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp sherry. Stir until the cornstarch is dissolved, then toss with the chicken. Let that sit for about a half hour while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Mince garlic and ginger, and slice the green onions if using them. Prep your vegetables by slicing or chopping them into small pieces. Put the vegetables into a large, hot skillet with a couple tablespoons of water or broth, and allow to steam for a few minutes until tender-crisp. (You can also do this in the microwave, or stir-fry in oil, whatever you prefer.) Remove vegetables from pan and set aside. 

Combine the sauce ingredients and stir until cornstarch and sugar are dissolved.

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet and add the chicken. Don't worry too much if the chicken sticks a bit. Stir-fry until cooked through. Push chicken aside, and add the garlic, green onions, and ginger. Stir-fry for about a minute, but don't allow the garlic to brown. When fragrant, add about half of  the sauce to the pan (make sure to re-stir it first, as the cornstarch will settle). Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Add in the cooked vegetables and the rest of the sauce, and heat until sauce is thick. 

Serve over rice of your choice. I like to use Trader Joe's frozen organic brown rice that you can cook in the microwave. 

Nutritional Info (calculated with the ingredients I used, for 3 servings, not including rice):

Calories: 313
Carbs: 22 g
Fat: 12 g
Protein: 32 g

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Did a good workout today - burned 728 calories, per my heart rate monitor. It felt pretty awesome. 

I also put together a pretty good snack mix (albeit not as nutritious as I could've made it) thinking that I was going to go to a movie today (turns out we're going tomorrow instead).  For two servings, I combined two cups of air-popped popcorn, ½ oz peanuts (I would have used almonds but didn't have any), a serving (15g) of chocolate-covered coffee beans (I use Trader Joe's espresso pillows), ½ oz pumpkin seeds, and ½ oz of multigrain pita chips. Very awesome. I'd like to put some dried or dehydrated fruit in, too, but didn't have any. 

Start of week 3

Well, as I mentioned in my last entry, this has been a really rough week. 

I didn't lose any weight at all, and I'm not sure if I gained. I'm 2 pounds heavier than I was on this day last week, but that was the day I'd lost 3 pounds overnight, so I thought it might be inaccurate. 

All in all, after 2 weeks, I am down 8.2 lbs, so that's great, I'm just disappointed that I didn't do a better job this week.

I had a hard time tracking, too. On Friday I met up with work friends for lunch and I got a grilled chicken salad - typical crappy bar fare, with iceberg lettuce, a few gross out of season tomato slices, and a slab of grilled chicken. Got French dressing on the side and barely used any of it. But it was tough to figure out exactly how many calories were in it. All my work friends got burgers or calzones, but it didn't really bother me at all actually (typically I would be craving that, but I was ok with my crappy salad.) Then it was my night with my dad so we got Jimmy John's (luckily, easy to track since they have all their nutritional info on their website). So I did ok Thursday and Friday. Last night though I went out with a friend to celebrate her getting a job at my agency and I caved and got a margarita - well, a mug-o-rita. This was my biggest mistake because after I started sipping on it I just figured, what the hell. I'd ordered the chicken caesar wrap with sauteed veggies with the full intention of saving half of it, but we spent two hours there at the restaurant and I ended up eating all of it. Ridiculous. That would explain the 1.6 lb overnight weight gain (salt, I'm sure.) I know you're supposed to ask for a to-go box right away, etc. but I just didn't prepare myself properly. Plus, this restaurant had essentially zero healthy options. I probably would've been better off ordering the chicken fajitas and just eating the chicken and veggies without the tortillas. 

It's also been - I cringe to say this - a WEEK since I've worked out. This changes today. I meant to on Thursday, but I came home from work and literally just broke down sobbing. We had a horrible snow storm and it'd taken me an hour and a half to get home (I work about 9 miles away) an I'd had such a terrible day at work and felt so hopeless. This job is really killing me. Then, of course, I intended to on Friday but I had to go straight to my dad's after work and by the time I got home it was almost 10 pm. And yesterday I had planned to work out before grocery shopping, but yet another excuse… I ended up making way too much coffee (I got a new brand, and without really noticing, accidentally made it twice as strong as I typically do, and I typically drink about 24 oz of coffee a day.)  I felt sick to my stomach, I was glued to the couch for 2 hours feeling terrible. I could've snuck a workout in later in the day, but I chose not to. 

So, as this is the start of week 3, I'm going to be as good as I was in week 1. That's my goal. It's a tough challenge because I am such an emotional wreck. But I can do it. I worked out a lot my first week and I loved how I felt, so I know it can only help. 

One of my resolutions is to also go to the doctor. I am planning on doing so after I get back from Florida in mid-February. I am going to ask her about possible medication to help manage my depression and anxiety. I haven't had a physical since I was 18 years old, so I am LONG overdue. I've just been so ashamed of my body and my weight that it has terrified me to go to the doctor. 

I did go to the eye doctor as I mentioned, so that's a good step in the right direction. I sort of had no choice as my glasses broke in half. It cost me a fortune (I have really, really, really bad vision and astigmatism) but at least I will have new glasses soon. 

I put together a menu plan for this week, and went grocery shopping yesterday. 

Garlic chicken with broccoli

Turkey-Jasmine Rice Meatballs with Baby Bok Choy


Portobello mushroom and red bell pepper sandwiches

Jimmy John's vegetarian sub

Baked potato

Something frozen, or leftovers

One of my other resolutions was to be more creative, and last night I did work on some little stuff for my walls. I went to the craft store yesterday and they had amazing sales going on. This is what I came up with. It was really fun, actually. I found the general idea on Pinterest. I need to do some touching up on it; I was impatient with the process (one of the reasons I'm not an artist) and I also need to buy some sort of varnish for it because it's pretty dull. (And I need to hang them better on the wall.) The original idea I found was to criss-cross masking tape across canvas and then spray-paint a couple coats of a single-color paint on it, then peel the tape off. I did the same process but decided to use acrylics and make each shape a different color. I had a bunch of different beads that I'd bought in a kit a long time ago so I just super glued them on. I like the bigger painting; the three little ones I'm not sure about (I should've gotten a smaller size masking tape for them.) 

My goals today are to clean my filthy apartment, do a good workout, and work on my novel a little bit at night. At some point I'm going to go see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo with my mom and sister. So it's a pretty busy day planned. I'll also need to shower... I better get cracking.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Uh oh.

God, have I screwed up this week. The worst part about it is that I KNEW that I had to be good with myself this week… I knew that I would be super emotional and that it would be hard. And I made it harder by not working out since SUNDAY, going way over my calories, and I indulged in alcohol. I had planned so well to not give in, and to find healthy ways to manage my stress, and now I feel awful, physically and mentally. I haven't slept,  and… I just feel awful. 

Moving buildings at work has been way more stressful than I had even imagined. I am really, really unhappy. I'm not sure what to do. Today was such a bad day that I just came home and cried for an hour. 

But the first thing to do is to get back on track. I'm going to take a warm shower, make some tea, and relax. 

One of my New Year's resolutions is to make some doctor's appointments and I have one tomorrow. It was sort of forced upon me because I broke my glasses and they are currently Krazy-Glued together. Jesus. So it's an eye appointment. I haven't had one in years so it's definitely time. 

I hope I can get past this. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Some little inspirations.

Week 1 over, week 2 menu plan

Total weight lost in week 1: 10 lbs (I am certain this will decrease dramatically when I weigh in tomorrow - I think my scale was off this morning or I was dehydrated or something because I lost over 3 pounds in one night! Guessing this is very inaccurate.)
Total exercise minutes: 289

Not shabby.

Created a menu plan for this week and went grocery shopping today.

Black bean and cheese enchiladas with ranchero sauce (A Cooking Light recipe. I made it tonight. It was okay, but I won't be making it again.)

Portobello mushroom and red bell pepper sandwiches, snow peas on the side (the sandwich I posted a couple entries down)

Pinto bean & corn burgers with spinach and chipotle mayonnaise (a Cooking Light recipe - haven't made this one in a long time, but I remember it being pretty good)


Garlic chicken over brown rice with broccoli (Not sure where I found this recipe; haven't tried it yet)

Jimmy John's veggie sub


Pretty anxious today so I'm not going to be writing a lot. Played on the Wii Fit a little bit. Tomorrow it's back to work... sigh! Tomorrow is my last day at my current office... so I'm really bummed out.

I used my slow cooker for the first time yesterday and it worked out deliciously, but I was impatient and should've let it cook longer. I made the bean and barley stew (recipe was posted in my last week's menu plan)  and it turned out really well. I thought it would be bland, but it was great, especially with some freshly grated gouda. I LOVE gouda. Mmm :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Nearing the end of week 1

A great and funny article I saw today: The 27 Rules of Conquering the Gym. I wish I still had a gym membership. I did in high school, and I really loved it. I don't know that I would have the confidence to go now considering how much more I weigh now than I did then, nor do I have the funds, so it's not really an option right now. Plus, the gym that I really love is really far away, so I don't know that I'd be able to motivate myself to go.

It's end of day six, and I must say I've done pretty well this week. I've pretty much stuck to all my goals. I've lost 5.2 pounds! I know a lot of that is water weight, but it was funny to see my animated Wii Fit character tell me it was worried about me for meeting my goal too quickly. I know it will slow down, as it always does.

To the best of my knowledge, I've stayed within (or very very close to) my calorie limits. I did allow myself to go slightly over a couple days. I am still counting this as staying within range, however, because I've ended up working out a lot more than I thought I would - in six days I've racked up 226 fitness minutes (my minimum goal was 90) and, according to my heart rate monitor, burned 1,437 calories. And when I went over, the reason was because my body was actually physically hungry. Some of my workouts were hard, some were easier, but it's felt really good to do it again.

The only day I'm unsure of was yesterday when my family and I went out to dinner at Otto's (a decent steakhouse here in Madison) to celebrate my mom's birthday. I had to completely estimate the nutritional information. There weren't a lot of "safe" looking items on the menu, but I ended up getting a grilled duck breast salad with a pomegranate vinaigrette. It was pretty delicious! And unlike most restaurants, the salad wasn't enormous enough for three meals. It was nice to leave a restaurant feeling satisfied and not bogged down by eating too much crap.

The hardest part so far? Avoiding alcohol. The idea of ordering wine last night with dinner was so tempting, and typically on Friday nights when I hang out with my dad I have a couple drinks at his place. It's been such a standard way for me to unwind after a long, awful week at work, so it feels odd not to do it.

I've also started drinking at least 64 oz of water a day. It hasn't been hard at all - as long as I have my water bottle by me I've been really good about it. Haven't missed a day yet. I've logged into Wii Fit every day to do the body test. I'm not quite keeping up with my St. John's Wort but only because it has been giving me VERY vivid nightmares and disrupting my sleep. I've lowered my dose a bit and hopefully that will help.

Emotionally I am pretty strained; work is awful and our huge change is coming up next week - where I essentially have to say goodbye to the people I've come to know so well over the past year and a half when my very, very small team moves to the main building of our office. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I'm trying really hard to not think about it so I can enjoy my weekend, but it's going to be really tough. I'm also on the hiring committee for a new position opening up and it's been overwhelming for me to go over all of the applications in addition to my normal workload (which is the workload of at least 2 full-time people.) Work has been such a source of unhappiness for me, and the thing that has made it worthwhile has been the people I work with. Everyone keeps telling me to find another job, but it is SO hard right now. Also, with all of these massive changes, they really need me there. i'm hoping that it gets better once these changes are made and that my job becomes less stressful, but it just depends. So I'm going to have to just suck if up and get through it, and hope that the changes the agency is making are indeed very positive, and that in a couple months from now maybe I won't be so stressed, and maybe I'll even have met some new friends. A positive bit of news is that I am going to Florida the first week of February, so I get a nice vacation. My grandma has a condo down there where she lives most of the year, and she gets really cheap flights on certain days with a specific airline, so last year and this year for Christmas she is paying for the flights to my sister and me to come down. I'll need some sun by then, though it's been unseasonably warm here this week.

Tomorrow morning my mom and I are going to go to the Taste of the Market breakfast, where volunteers prepare an awesome food using local winter vegetables. It looks like this year the menu includes a spinach and egg bake and root vegetable hash. If it isn't too crowded (I went last year and it was super busy, but we are going early) I might pick up some produce since the farmer's market runs at the same time. I tend to buy the same vegetables every week - standard stuff like baby carrots and broccoli. I buy so much out-of-season produce, and I should change that. I'm going to try to look for pomegranates because I just got a recipe from SparkPeople for a pomegranate chicken salad.

One thing I'd like to work on this week is healthier snacks. I tend to nibble on stuff after dinner, and I'd like it to be healthier. I know that even though my box says Kashi on it, my crackers and baked pita chips are still junk food. I miss spring and summer fruit; I really hate citrus so there isn't a whole lot for me to choose from in winter. I have, however, been freezing bananas to turn into "ice cream" again. I used to do that and man it is so good. I love to stir dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans into it, mmm.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 2, and my favorite sandwich.

I really promise I won't be blogging every day, but I mentioned that I would share my favorite sandwich when I made it this week. Recipe (and way too much annotation) is below.

Worked out more intensely today for the first time in a long time. Since November, I think. I did my super dorky step aerobics workout - Everybody Steps with Gin Miller. My senior year of college, I was trying to figure out a nice piece of exercise equipment that I could fit in my 400 square foot studio apartment, and I decided one day that I was going to start doing step aerobics. I am insanely uncoordinated, and hadn't really worked out in a long time at that point, so I decided to get a very basic intro video. That's exactly what this is. It's for beginners, but add a couple risers to the step and run around a little during the more boring parts, and you can definitely get a really, really good workout. I learned the basics of stepping with this video and I still go back to it when I haven't worked out in a long time. It's a 50-minute video, and according to my heart rate monitor, I burned 520 calories doing it. Not shabby! 

Emotionally, I am a little anxious, because i go back to work after a four-day weekend and that's always hard. I'm also emotional because it's my last week that I have at this location (with my beloved coworkers) as they are moving my unit (essentially, only 3 people at this point) to the main building. I've known about this for a few months now and I'm still not used to, or okay with, the idea. Typically, the day before I go back to work is the day where I definitely have some wine, so it feels odd to me to not have a glass (or 3) with dinner. To relax, I might do some yoga tonight on my Wii Fit - I plan on logging into the Wii every day because it wants to do a "body test" daily. I'm also planning on having some tea and working a bit on the novel I'm writing that I haven't opened in a long time. 

I am a boring blogger; sorry. I don't suspect that anyone reads this, but I like keeping it, and I figure I'd offer this delicious recipe to anyone who happens to stumble upon here. :)

Portobello and Red Bell Pepper Sandwiches

Here's my favorite sandwich that I just threw together one night and now I can't stop eating it. It's extremely variable, so I've made some notes underneath the recipe for possible customizations. My only camera is my iPhone, so I won't have any beautiful pictures to share, unfortunately. I love this sandwich because it can be served hot or cold. For dinner I like to serve it warm with steamed vegetables (such as the sad-looking broccoli in this picture); for lunch I don't bother reheating it and serve it with baby carrots.

Ingredients for four small-ish sandwiches

4 2-oz sandwich rolls (or bread) of your choice (see note)
2 large portobello mushroom caps (mine were about 80g each), stems removed and gills scraped out with a spoon, cut in half (to make 4 roughly equal pieces)
1 medium red bell pepper, each side sliced off (to make 4 roughly equal pieces)
2 oz fresh light mozzarella (see note), sliced into 4 roughly equal pieces
4 tbsp of reduced-fat mayonnaise (I use Kraft olive oil reduced-fat mayonnaise)
1/2 tsp honey mustard, or to taste 
1 clove garlic
a few baby spinach leaves, or greens of your choice
salt and pepper, optional

If the bread needs to be baked, preheat the oven to the required temperature; otherwise you can heat the rolls/bread any way you would like (toaster, on the "warm" setting in an oven or toaster oven). 

Heat a good non-stick pan over medium-high heat. If you don't have a good non-stick pan, you'll probably need to spray some cooking spray or add oil (I use an all-clad nonstick skillet that doesn't require any oil). Add the bell peppers and portobello mushrooms, and allow to cook. Flip them and press down on them occasionally.

While the vegetables cook, crush and mince the clove of garlic, and make your aioli by mixing together the mayonnaise, honey mustard, and garlic. If you want to get creative, feel free to add some herbs.

When the bell pepper starts to get brown spots and the mushrooms start to shrivel and release their liquid, they're almost ready.  For me, this usually takes about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat, and slice the peppers and mushrooms into manageable pieces so that they'll fit on your bread of choice. You might want to season them with salt and pepper - it depends on what type of cheese you use. If you use a salty cheese, there is no need to add salt.

Melt your cheese a little. You can microwave it briefly on a plate; otherwise, I typically spray the pan with a little cooking spray and add the cheese just until it starts to melt (if there's enough liquid left in the pan from the mushrooms, I just melt it in that.) You don't want it to be a big gooey mess, you want to be able to lift it with a spatula to put on your bread.

To assemble sandwiches, spread aioli evenly on the top half of each roll. Scoop up the melty cheese and place a slice on the bottom half of each roll. Top with the bell pepper and mushrooms evenly. Add a few leaves of greens of your choice (I like baby spinach) and top with the other half of the roll.

Serve hot or cold with a steamed or roasted vegetable (I like steamed broccoli or roasted brussels sprouts), or cold baby carrots.

Notes: You can use any bread you want, but I like using crusty bread rolls. The healthiest choice would obviously be a whole-wheat bread or roll, but I used Trader Joe's mini ciabatta rolls that you buy and then bake at home. There are a lot of "take and bake" breads available, and I like these for this sandwich because it tastes like freshly baked bread. They take about 12 minutes to bake, which is the perfect amount of time for the mushrooms and peppers to cook.

You can use any cheese you like; I like using a light fresh mozzarella (in the log form) because it is pretty mild and doesn't overpower the flavor of the mushrooms or aioli. However, today i didn't have any on hand, so I used a delicious parmesan-gouda blend and it was amazing. Might be too much flavor going on, though. The nutritional information I calculated was using the parmesan-gouda blend, which has 120 calories and 9g fat.  If you use a reduced-fat fresh mozzarella, you'd save about 40 calories and 5g fat.

Nutritional info per sandwich (calculated with parmesan/gouda blend):
254 calories
34g carbs
8.5g fat
11g protein

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Starting the new year off right.

I was right, I weigh more today than I ever have in the past. Eek! I'm not yet comfortable sharing my exact weight on this blog, but let's just leave it at the fact that I want to lose 78 pounds (50 in 2012.) I'll be tracking my weight on SparkPeople, and maybe after I've lost some I'll admit my weight on this blog. ;)

The weather outside is terrible and has been this whole weekend, which bums me out since I have a 4-day weekend (on day 3, sadly. I almost miss unemployment.) There's a wind advisory right now and it's snowing, so I'll be spending my day indoors, most likely.

Started the year off with a delicious breakfast - a mini omelette. I've never actually made one before; I just saw the spinach in my fridge and thought I should incorporate it into my breakfast somehow. Just made with one egg, a bunch of baby spinach that i wilted in a spritz of olive oil, and 10g of romano cheese. The toast I served it with is my favorite thing --  7-grain sprouted bread from Trader Joe's with half a tablespoon of whipped Earth Balance (a vegan butter substitute, trans-fat free.) The bread has to be kept refrigerated or, if you're like me and can't burn through a loaf quickly enough, in the freezer. I keep fearing that I'm going to sound like a spokesperson for different companies on this blog, but I promise I'm not compensated :) The bread's ingredients: Sprouted wheat grains, oats, rye, barley, corn, rice, millet, wheat flour, water, honey, vital wheat gluten, yeast, molasses, salt. 5 grams of protein per slice, 60 calories per slice. My mom got a breadmaker over the holidays and I'd love to steal it a couple times to make my own bread, but this stuff is great and it's at least healthier than the HFCS-loaded "wheat' breads I find with other brands. Alongside a couple mugs of black coffee (this is not a habit I plan to change anytime soon - sorry, caffeine nay-sayers!) this is a yummy breakfast.  286 calories, 20g protein, 16g fat, 15g carbs.

Don't worry, I won't be posting every boring thing I eat, but I felt like I should blog on day one. 

I took a picture of my profile this morning and cringed. Even dressed in all black, this is not what a 25-year-old's body should look like - not when it is capable of being way healthier. I should mention right off the bat that I do absolutely believe in the "fat acceptance" movement, but I know that with my body, in particular, when it is healthy, it does not look like this. If I felt healthy, and was eating right, and exercising, and I still looked like this? I could live with it. But I know that at its healthiest, my body does not look anything like this. 

I've lost weight successfully only twice in the past. Once when I was a junior in high school and  "joined" Weight Watchers (meaning, I loosely followed the points system that my mom was using, and borrowed her materials). I lost about 30 pounds then and was almost to a healthy weight. I was also a member of a gym, which I can't afford anymore, sadly. And once in early 2010 when I joined SparkPeople for the first time and lost over 20 pounds. In early 2010 I weighed 40 pounds less than I do now - which means that I've managed to put on 40 pounds in just a year and a half. That is amazing (in a bad way) to me. That's not how someone's body is supposed to work. My sedentary and very stressful job contributed to this - but moreso, the bad choices I made. The job made me so anxious that I found solace in booze and food. That's why I think I really need to make this big change - so much of this is not going to be about my weight but more about how I handle stress. THAT is what needs to change. Because when I avoid alcohol, I eat right. When I exercise, I am less anxious.

2012 is about doing the harder thing - working out, doing yoga, taking a bath, allowing myself to feel pain rather than trying to numb it. It is about avoidance of the easy thing - grabbing a six-pack of beer and eating flavored pretzels until I feel like I'm going to explode and trying to numb my feelings so I don't have to deal with them anymore. That is just not the way to deal with life. It hasn't been working for me, so why would I keep doing it? It doesn't make anything go away in the end, it just makes me unhealthy and unhappy.

I have the knowledge, the power, and the ability to change my life. I know I do. I'm the only one who does.