Food

Giving up Splenda

Alright folks, I’ve made a decision the other day that I’m going to try to give up Splenda and make my way back to real sugar.

Splenda-Sweetener-Bag

Now I don’t bake with it, but I do use it everyday in my coffee. To start to pare down, let’s be honest about my Splenda consumption:

  1. Morning coffee with 1 teaspoon
  2. Morning oatmeal with 1 teaspoon
  3. Late morning/Afternoon Coffees  (2-3 depending on the day) – 1 packet with each coffee.
  4. If I make a hot chocolate at night, I use 1 tablespoon with unsweetened cocoa.

Okay. So not great. I’ve started by switching my coffee/oatmeal to 1 tsp of sugar. It makes my coffee MUCH less sweet, but I want to re-adjust my tastebuds.  I’m assuming I won’t be able to do it all in one shot, so I’m going bit by bit.  Today I had my 2 morning coffees with 1 tsp sugar each and my oatmeal with 1 tsp sugar. I can already say the second coffee tasted much sweeter than the first. Small changes… 🙂

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Food

Sorry for the Photo of the Half-Eaten Lunch

Well I promised photos of my food to help keep me on track, but apparently I keep forgetting to take a photo! I got my last two lunches though, well sorta. Here’s what I mean:

Wednesday Lunch: Couscous salad with chicken and chickpeas and a bowl of red pepper soup with tomatoes and cucumbers on the side:

Montréal-20130515-00011

Thursday Lunch: Chicken breast with green beans and (what I had already eaten!) baby spinach salad with a balsamic vinagrette

Montréal-20130516-00012

So far so good this week. I have a three-day weekend which started this morning and I”m going to get in some good exercise and eating! I haven’t had proper sit -down dinners in a while so going to take advantage and head up to the market and get some good ingredients. Not sure what’s for dinner yet…what are you having?

Food · Weight Loss

Weigh-in Week 148: I didn’t deserve this gain

Today I was up 0.3lbs for a new weight of 149.3lbs and a total loss of 102.3lbs. Now….before you think I’m getting all huffy about a 0.3lb gain, the truth of the statement is that I totally deserved a MUCH bigger gain. I was girding myself for a 2-3lb gain to be honest. I didn’t deserve only 0.3lbs after the weekend I had.

This weekend I had a fondue party on Saturday – cheese and chocolate and an Oscars party on Sunday night that also included lots of delicious food. Perhaps if I’d been able to control myself it wouldn’t have been that bad, and maybe I would have even been able to lose, but something took over me this week and I’ve been craving sugar like nobody’s business. I couldn’t get enough chocolate, caramels, caramelized pecans etc. etc. It was insane and I felt completely out of control. During this weekend I actually thought the following: “I wish I could eat like regular people”. Sigh. I felt out of control. I felt like all I have worked for was for naught. I felt fear that I would never be able to eat “normally”.

The receptionist at WW made me feel a bit better by pointing out that even though I thought I’d really let go with my eating, clearly I’ve learned something over the last almost 3 years and have developed new routines (or habits). I have to say that that is probably true because on Monday I ate quite healthfully and well and made it out to the gym after work. In the past I would have kept up on my no-holds barred eating. So I think that is a step forward 🙂

I have another confession to make – I love Pinterest.  I love finding recipes on there, but also, I love take them and make them my own.  Part of my getting back on track was that I made this dish on Sunday for my weekday lunches. I have to say it’s been keeping me full and satiated post lunch so far! Baked Eggplant Parmesan:

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You can find the link to the original recipe right here at Lick My Spoon.com. However, I, of course, couldn’t leave well enough alone and made some changes:

1. I added grilled zucchini and roasted balsamic mushrooms to up the veg quotient.

2. I used light ricotta instead

3. I didn’t use the mozzarella on top

4. I didn’t use the panko crumbs on top either

So I don’t know if it can really be called a baked eggplant parm…but it does have eggplant, parmesan, and it’s baked! Right? My 9×13 pan left me with 6 large servings at 3 WW points plus per serving. So, quite frankly, I think that’s a pretty great exchange. And it tastes super amazing!

Food

Recipe: Fish Tacos

Okay, so I think I’ve been out of the loop but I only just heard about fish tacos this summer! Where have they been my whole life? I like fish, I like tacos – why didn’t I think of this!

Well I tried my hand at it the other night and it turned out really well so I thought I’d share with you.

Makes 5 tacos

WW Points Plus value per taco: 4

(or 9 for two, depending on what kind of tortilla/shells you’re using)

I used:

  • 400g sole (defrosted)
  • Oil, spray
  • Old El Paso reduced sodium taco seasoning (used half a packet – 17g)
  • Whole wheat tortillas, small
  • Reduced-fat cheese (if using, add 15g to each taco and 1 pp+ extra)
  • Salsa
  • Plain yoghurt
  • Red & Green bell peppers

Firstly, I used a bit of spray oil on a non-stick skillet and cooked the defrosted fish fillets. Once they fillets start to cook, break them apart with the spatula. Here’s a pic where you can see the raw fillet on the right, the cooked fillet on top and the crumbled fillet on the left.

This is the seasoning I used. I only used half of it because it seemed a bit strong for the mild fish. Yes, I am trying to cut out processed foods, but to be honest I don’t eat tacos often enough to have my own taco seasoning recipe. But if anyone does have one and feels like sharing I’m all for it! I do however, try to be sensible about it all and use the reduced sodium one. It’s already salty as is, no need for more.

Once the fish is all cooked, add the seasoning and 1/2 cup of water. It should look like this:

Mix to incorporate all the seasoning and liquid. Let it cook on medium until all the liquid is absorbed and it looks like this:

Yum! And that’s kinda it! Now create your tacos. I used 1/4 cup fish filling per small tortilla.

I used whole wheat tortillas because I prefer them over the hard shells. I added 15g of reduced fat cheddar cheese, a few slices of green and red bell peppers, 1 tbsp of salsa and 1 tbsp of plain yoghurt.

My tortillas are 2pp+ for one or 5 for two, but you might be using a different brand so be sure to calculate your tortillas accurately. For the fish, I got five 1/4 cup servings out of the initial 400g.

And Enjoy! Easy peasy.

Food

Garlic Festival! (and three recipes)

This weekend I took in my first Garlic Festival here on the island. It was at a small farmer’s market in the suburbs and took me approximately an hour fifty to get there and a good hour and a half to get back by public transit! Oh my. But was it worth it? I think it was! It wasn’t very big and I missed the early morning events because of travel time (and I just could get myself up at 6am on a Saturday!) But I made it see the cooking with garlic demo (recipes and photos below!) and to check out the wares.

I also found out there are a bunch of different varieties of garlic! I’m not surprised, but in the grocery stores here you only ever really see the one. Here’s some useful info about identifying different types of garlic:

Porcelain Garlic:

Rocambale Garlic:

Artichoke Garlic:

Marbled Purple Garlic:

Silverskin Garlic:

I ended up buying a “taster pack” so I got 7 different varieties of garlic to try out. I’m hoping I can keep a few cloves of my favourite ones and plant them in October – just need to do some research on growing garlic in containers. Just look at all of ’em! Aren’t they wonderful 🙂 I got: Silverskin, Asiatic, Artichoke, Rocambole, Marbled Purple Stripe, Purple Stripe, and Porcelain.

I did mention that I got to check out the cooking demo right! It was great! It was all about cooking with roasted garlic and led by Patti Murphy. She used the Porcelain garlic to roast  – at 350/375 for approximately 45 minutes. Make sure you cut the stem and tops off (so the cloves are exposed). You can also check out this wikihow for step by step instructions.

First recipe was Roasted Garlic Salsa:

  • 1-2 heads of roasted garlic (not cloves!)
  • A sprinkling of coarse sea salt
  • Roasted vegetables (3-4 plum tomatoes, 1 Spanish or Vidalia onion , 1-2 jalapeno peppers)

To roast the vegetables: prepare the tomato (leave whole, but cut top off), quarter the onion, leave the peppers whole (she used red jalapenos). In a pan roast for approximately 30 minutes at 375. No need to use oil or salt. Afterwards you can just peel the skin right off the tomatoes and peppers (be careful with the peppers! The seeds are the hot spot – wash your hands and don’t touch your eyes!!)

Once everything is roasted and cooled you can combine them. Either in a food processor, or with a masher in a big bowl start mashing the garlic first, then add the onion and pepper, then add the tomatoes one at a time. Mash it to the desired consistency/chunkiness. Add a bit of water to it if it’s too think. Add salt at the end to taste. You can also add some cilantro to taste at the end if you like.  And voila! Yums.

Tip: You can freeze cooked salsas (like this one since the veg are all roasted) but not the fresh salsas. Though you might have to simmer it when you thaw it out. So plan ahead if you’re going to serve it cold.

***

Second recipe was Guacomole: (obviously everyone loved it! I got to it near the end…!)

  •  3 avocados
  • 1 clove fresh garlic (Porcelain)
  • pinch of coarse sea salt
  • half a jalapeno pepper, no seeds, finely diced
  • 1-2 tbsp of sweet onion, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime

In a large bowl (or molcajete  – a large mortar and pestle) add all the ingredients one by one and start mashing until you get to the desired consistency.

Guacamole is one of my favourite dips ever! And I can’t believe that I was 22 years old when I tried my first avocado. So many years lost without avocados in my life.  Here’s a weight watchers hint about avocados – be sure to weigh them! I find that the ones we get up here in Canada are much smaller than the ones in the food companion and often 1/2 an avocado weighs 2 ounces not 4. Just a hint 😉

Tips:

  • To quicken the ripening time for your avocados place them in a paper bag on top of your fridge (a warm space) and they should be ripe in a couple of days (if you started with hard avocados).
  • To keep your guacamole from browning after you put it in your serving bowl put a drizzle of lime juice over the top to seal it.

***

The third recipe was a quick and easy Yoghurt Dip:

  • yoghurt approx. 1 cup
  • bunch of fresh herbs (parsley or whatever you want – you can mix up 2, 3 or even more varieties)
  • 1 head roasted garlic (Porcelain)
  • coarse sea salt, to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lime

Mix everything up in a bowl. That’s it!  She used goat yoghurt and it was delicious. I would imagine this would be nice and thick with some Greek yoghurt. I suggest using the fat percentage that you feel comfortable with. I would probably use 0% Greek yoghurt. My personal favourite is the Dannon Oikos brand. I imagine fresh dill would be wonderful in this. It was served with rice crackers for tasting.

***

And of course when I got home I had to try the garlic. So I sliced up a clove of the Rocambole on a fresh goat cheese sandwich. It was very tasty and not at all too over-powering. Some freshly cracked pepper on top made it perfect. (You can also see my homemade iced green tea in the upper left hand corner)

If you follow me on twitter (@pound_per_pound) then you’ve seen the photo, but if not here it is again. It was a lovely light lunch, and the pepper and cucumber I picked up from a neighbourhood market from a great organization here called Santropol Roulant that has urban gardens all over the city!

And that was my Saturday! Have you been out to visit your local farmer’s market this summer yet?

Food

Recipe: Individual Peach Pies

Okay, so I’m loving these! I tried them out on my friends and they seem to have gone over well. There’s a few things I would change for  next time, but it’ll up the points+ value for them. The way I made them originally they are 5 points+.

First things first. I did NOT make this recipe up. I totally found it on Pinterest and here is the original source: Yummy Mummy Kitchen.

I made some changes in that I used the Joy of Baking Pate Brisee recipe as the pastry. I made half the recipe – which you can easily halve.  I divided the pastry into eights to minimize the points value, but in retrospect I would probably just quarter the dough, but that will raise the points+ value to 9.

For the Pate Brisee:

  • 1 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water

If you have a food processor you can do this in it, but I don’t so I do everything by hand! Combine flour, salt, and sugar. I do it in a bowl with a whisk. Add chilled butter and cut in until it looks like coarse meal. I use my fingers to do this, you can do this with the processor or a pastry cutter. Add water. Start with 1/8 of a cup and add more if needed. Gather the dough into a ball and flatten to be a disk. Wrap it up in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30mins-hour before using. When ready, roll it out on a lightly floured surface.

I divided the dough into eights and rolled out one circle-ish shape from each section. I froze the unused dough for future use.

For the Pies:

  • Pie crust dough (store-bought or homemade, you can also use your favourite recipe)
  • 4 small to medium ripe peaches (double check they fit in your muffin tin)
  • 4 teaspoons of honey (I used creamed honey, but you can use honeycomb or regular honey)
  • Sugar for sprinkling (I used some violet sugar I got from Fuchsia here in Montreal, but any sugar will do)
  • 1 egg & 2 tbsp water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 425F and coat 4 wells of of your muffin tin with a spray. Cut the peaches in half and remove the stone.

Place one teaspoon honey in the centre (where the stone was) and put the peach back together. Roll out the dough and wrap the peach in the dough. Place each one in a muffin well. If the dough reaches the top of the peach and encloses it, add air vents with a sharp knife. (You’ll see in the picture – I made 5…one was a tester!)

Whisk the egg and water together and brush each pie (I’ll be honest – I forgot to do this!) and sprinkle with some sugar before baking. Bake for 13-15 mins until crust is golden brown. Let sit 5 mins before removing. Carefully!

Serve with some delicious vanilla ice cream. ENJOY!

Food · Weight Loss

I’m Afraid to Eat

Wow. There. I’ve said it. So this is the post that has been difficult to write. Something I’ve come to realize over the last couple of weeks is that this is how I feel. I realize that I’ve been cautious and scared  of food. Scared that it will make me gain back the weight I’ve lost, scared that it will be my downfall and I won’t be able to control myself.

I’ve noticed a trend lately. Here’s what’s been happening: I will try to minimize what I eat during the day to save lots of points (read: calories) for the evening. I try my willpower and push it to its max and because I’m not eating enough I end up giving in and “snacking”. I’ve been saying snacking has been my downfall, but I’m not being 100% honest with myself – my downfall (my snacking) has actually been a series of mini-binges. I’ll let myself get so hungry by the evening that I’ll eat whatever is around. Crackers, popcorn, PB & J sandwiches, chocolate I was saving, fruit (but too much of it). It’s not healthy and it’s not doing me any good.

It’s making me preoccupied with food. It’s making me not track all this eating (because really, how can I when I didn’t even look at what I was eating?) and then gain which in turn leads me to trying to restrict my eating to lose the weight which ends in these mini-binges. See the disastrous circle I’ve created for myself?

Where is my resolve? Where are my good eating habits I’ve been working on developing? Why won’t this seemingly insatiable hunger leave me alone? 

I used to be able to manage my hunger. I used to be able to eat healthy meals and feel full and comfortable. I used to be able to have a treat every now and then and then leave it. I used to be able to resist the nuts and crackers sitting out at work. I don’t know where that’s gone. I’m scared it’ll never come back. I’m scared of regaining.

I came across this list yesterday. I wrote it back in November 2010. What made me pause is that all of this is still true.

When do I eat:

  • When I’m bored
  • When I’m alone
  • When I think I can get away with it
  • When I come home late at night

What I CANNOT stop eating:

  • Bread.
  • French bread
  • Fresh rye bread
  • Nutella
  • Ice cream
  • Fresh pita – white
  • Tortillas – white
  • Box of cookies
  • Chips
  • Snacks of any sort
  • Chocolate
  • Pastries
  • Cereal – corn pops, quik, anything sweet, but even the granola one

For the most part I do not keep any of this in the house. Certainly not bread unless it’s in the freezer so I can’t get at all of it. Not Nutella, no matter how on sale it is, not tubs of ice cream – I can buy things like fudgesicles in individual servings, but not ice cream sandwiches, no cookies, chips, crackers or snacks other than popcorn in the house and definitely no chocolate or pastries. I also stopped buying cereal -I realized I only ate it at night as a snack. So really, it hasn’t gotten easier as I though it had, but maybe this is a blip? Maybe things will go back to how they were before where it was easier to resist? I don’t know.

This is why I’m actually looking forward to the next three weeks of my life. My time will be very regimented – we work 10am-10pm, six days a week. We have lunch at 1pm and dinner at 5pm. Every day. I will have access to a kitchen and thus I will be able to make my own food. I won’t have time to get super creative, but I will have time to create a healthy lunch and dinner for each day. I also know that I like to eat at night. This isn’t going to change anytime soon so I’ll have to come up with strategies. I will need to have food on hand that I can eat in a healthy fashion in the evening and that will stop me from going overboard in the evening.

So this is it. This is my confession. I don’t know how things are going to go over the month, but I’ll keep you in the loop. I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to weigh-in this month as I’ll be in a different country, but I’ll try. If not, I’ll still be posting updates on how I’m doing.