Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Food for Thought

I had to drive to Union City last night and stopped on my return trip home to get something to eat. In the past I would have grabbed a cheeseburger from the drive thru at McDonalds. I saw a brightly lit sign for a Hawaiian BBQ joint that sounded good so I stopped. Before entering I had visions of a grilled chicken kabob on a scoop of rice and iced tea with lemon. That was what I really wanted. Something grilled, clean, light and filling.

I should have taken a clue from the gigantic menu pictures over the counter that this place was not going to have what I wanted... but partly because I was so hungry and partly because I had just spent 5 minutes looking for a place to park, I decided to stay.

There they were in all their full color glory, oversized portions of brown, fried, fat ridden,highly processed uninspired food. This place encompassed everything I hate about our fast food culture... yet I decided to stay. I was already there and could surely find something that would satisfy my hunger without pushing me over the cliff.
After letting 4 people in line go ahead of me and not seeing anything I wanted, I described to the guy taking orders my kabob over rice vision. He recommended the BBQ chicken "mini meal" so that's what I ordered.
My first observation was that my "mini meal" was huge. There were 3 big pieces of chicken, rice and macaroni salad all served over a bed of steamed cabbage. At first sight, not a bad looking meal. I ate one piece of the chicken, all of the rice and some of the cabbage. The macaroni salad had an intense artificial / chemical induced taste to me so I didn't eat any of that. The chicken was disappointing and had a highly processed taste as well. I kept having visions of institutional chicken operations where 6 chickens are stuffed into cages and forced fed until they reach maturity. It looked good but it wasn't.
I ended up pitching the remaining food in the trash and walked out feeling bad about having just consumed such an unsatisfying meal.  
I think about our society and how much our eating patterns have changed over the years. About how it is so easy and accessible to eat out all the time now. Things like the dollar menu at McDonalds and how that plays out in our present economy?  How places like Costco have changed how we shop and how we buy large quantities of food items and then have to eat it all. How much money we spend on junk food with little nutritional value. How our taste has changed and is more a product of big money marketing studies into things that create chemically produced textures that are more about "mouthfeel" and less about the integrity of a quality product. In short, our present day society is designed to encourage impulsive behavior. Instant gratification will always come at a price.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday Hangover

I'm so over eating rich foods and looking forward to getting back into the eating light mode. I woke up this morning and cleaned out my refrigerator of all the rich festive foods left over from Christmas. I placed them all in a box on the lower refrigerator shelf for my son to eat. Things like left over chocolate soufflé, blue cheese, stuffed olives, artichoke dip...

I found some beets, carrots and a butternut squash in the produce drawer that needed to be used. Roasted vegetables...Yum! Just the thing to get me back into the healthy eating mode. I love having roasted anything around. Roasting intensifies the flavors and the charred roasted areas add an element of crispiness that tastes so good!

For the beets and carrots, once they are finished roasting, I toss them with some balsamic vinegar, salt, rosemary and fresh cut parsley. Sometimes I will add cherry tomatoes cut in half. The freshness of the tomatoes pairs well with the roasted vegetables. The butternut squash gets cut into smaller pieces when cooled and I like it just sprinkled with some salt and pepper as a side. Sometimes I make it into soup.

Anyway you serve them up, they are fantastic to have around! Served cold or heated up, they are filling, nutritious and great tasting... what more can you ask for?

I also found quite a few grapefruits that were a  little past their prime for eating so I juiced them. I bought a rather expensive juicer two years ago but frankly it was cumbersome, hard to clean and I found that I liked the carrot juice I bought from Trader Joes more than the stuff I juiced myself. It was a real hassle to use and the results were not what I wanted so I sold it and bought a cheap squeeze juicer that I love! The fresh squeezed grapefruit juice is so refreshing.

Out with the old and in with the new. Looking forward to a new revitalized 2014!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Letting Life Happen...

With all the baking, eating out and general festivities, it’s been easy to stray from my dieting mindset and weighing myself this morning I’m up 4 lbs. I’m OK with that but don’t want to get over 4 lbs. so today will be a “get back on track” day for me. I find that dieting is more successful for me if I allow my body to adjust to periods of weight loss occasionally instead of continuous losing. It lets my body level off, get adjusted and re-group. It may be more for my mind than my body. I feel great when I’m on a roll with losing weight but I need that period of leveling off every 10 – 15 lbs. or so to gear up for the next big push. That’s just what works for me. I will gain a few lbs. back during the level off period and that’s just part of the deal. The important thing is to not get back into poor eating habits! There is a difference between leveling off from dieting and leveling off from poor eating habits. If I’m eating chips at night I’m in trouble. If I’m eating a lovely pot roast dinner with mashed potatoes I’m allowing myself to enjoy a wonderful meal. I don’t need to stuff myself, but it’s OK to go ahead and enjoy a nice “non-diet” meal occasionally especially during a holiday.

I have a great Christmas dinner planned for this year. My family is all in the Midwest and East Coast so it’s just going to be my son and myself. I bought a couple of really beautiful swordfish steaks to marinade and grill. The asparagus in the stores looks great so I think some grilled with tomatoes would make for a nice side dish. For dessert I want to make something simple and light yet spectacular. Maybe a chocolate soufflé with fresh raspberries. My son loves bourbon so would be nice to have some good bourbon on hand for after our meal.

It’s important for me to lose weight but it’s also important to acknowledge good times with friends / family in a spirit of togetherness for the Holidays. There will be plenty of opportunities for me to stick to a more regimented diet after Christmas but for now it’s important to let the good times roll...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spreading Good Cheer

I'm thoroughly enjoying the Holiday season! Had an ornament making craft project at the Boulder Creek Library yesterday and the kids all had a great time. It's great to see so many people participating and having fun. I love making these ornaments and make them every year. They are just small fruit, ribbon, whole cloves, cranberries, straight pins and anything else you would like to add, like sequins or currants. I use two types of straight pins. Use the longer dressmaker pins for pinning on cranberries and use the shorter heavier pins for securing ribbon. I buy the whole cloves in bulk from the local health food store, otherwise they are really expensive if you buy them in the little jars! I also use a toothpick to create the hole in the fruit before sticking the clove in. This keeps them from breaking so easily. These ornaments do not last long, but they are so much fun to make together and look and smell fantastic on the tree or hanging around the house.

I made caramels yesterday to send off to relatives and friends in tins with the cookies. I could not for the life of me find my candy thermometer and so had to wing it with testing for the correct consistency. I think they got a little bit harder than what I usually make. Also, the color was very dark. They are still good but I cut them into smaller pieces than normal since they were harder. I'm glad to be done with all the baking stuff and to have the tins sent off. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Meal Replacement

My weight has been holding right around 241 for the past 4 days. I have to remember that it is the Holidays and that I've been engaged in more than usual exposure to large quantities of rich food. I should be happy that I haven't gained anything! Still, I would like to at least get down below 240 if for no other reason than to say that I have lost the 20 lbs. I've gained since moving here last March. I feel like I need to at least lose 2 lbs. a week to feel like I'm making some progress. That's just my personal feeling. I can play a lot of games with my psyche to justify staying at 241 through December but the bottom line is Holiday or no Holiday, I'm in this to lose weight and I have made a pact with myself to keep on track with that. So here it is Wed. and I still need to lose a couple of lbs.by Sunday in order to honor my commitment.

One sure way for me to lose weight fast is to replace one meal with the fat burner soup. I have two versions of this soup that are both delicious. One is chicken based and the other "original" version is  tomato based. I'm going to make the tomato based one today because I can add meat and spices that will turn it into a fat burner chili, which is awesome!

The soup is packed with nutrition and the cabbage provides a lot of fiber that aids in burning the fat. You can eat as much of this soup as you want and still lose weight. However if adding the ground beef to make the chili version, you should limit yourself to two bowls a day for weight loss. Still, it is a guaranteed weight loss meal that is filling and satisfying. I make large amounts of this soup, (8 quarts at a time), and can it to have around. There are plenty of versions of this soup on the internet but I prefer my version because it has mushrooms which I love, and they add so much taste without adding calories. If I'm going to go to the trouble of making and canning 8 quarts of something, I want for it to be something flavorful that I am absolutely going to enjoy eating. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Abundance

I love all things mushrooms and belong to the local mushroom society. They are a fun group and throw an annual Holiday Potluck Dinner, which happened to be last night. As to be expected, there were a lot of dishes with a mushroom theme. One of the stand out dishes was a pulled pork with candy cap mushrooms. Incredible! I brought a dish I make a lot... phyllo triangles. They are so satisfying, the crispness of the outer phyllo dough contrasting with the creaminess of the inner filling. The filling varies depending on the occasion and what I have available. For this event I made a ricotta, feta, mushroom and spinach filling. It was more on the savory side and the combination of flavors were fantastic. I used chanterelle mushrooms, but you could easily use any more readily available mushroom from a grocery store.

After last nights potluck, I thought I'd never eat again! There were so many fantastic dishes and I basically filled my plate with lots of small tastes. Still, it all added up to more food than I had eaten in a while. My stomach has been shrunken for some time now and I have become accustomed to eating smaller portions. Last nights feast definitely expanded my stomach and I can really feel it today!
There are more feasts to come and as much as I enjoy eating and trying new things, I'm not going to let the over-abundance of the season throw me off track. I still need to stop when I feel full, even if it's after only a couple of bites. I don't need to feel pressured into trying everything that looks great. I can pick and choose what I want to taste. It's interesting being on a diet during a holiday filled with excessive amounts of food everywhere! On top of that, I will be making home made carmels and cookies to send to my relatives this week. My son is on my case to make home-made eggnog, which he loves, and there is our trip to San Francisco later next week to the House of Prime Rib. I have a lot of bullets to dodge!
The important thing is to focus on the spirit of season and not all the calories. To have fun doing things together and spending good times with people I enjoy being with. It's all about what we choose to focus on. So I am wishing everyone who struggles with weight loss a holiday season focused on spreading good will and the spirit of Christmas out into the world.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


It's taking less food to fill me up and I'm able to say, "Enough" after a small portion. It's fair to say that I have cut my portions in half of what I used to eat. It takes awhile to get to this point and once you have arrived, cherish it! I find myself thinking less about food in general. I frequently don't eat lunch until around 2:00 because I'm not hungry for it until then. The cravings for late night snacks have pretty much subsided.

Last night for dinner I was craving steak. I grilled a NY steak to a nice medium rare and had 1/3 of it with some left over potato salad. A light drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, some summer salsa and a generous squeeze of lemon over everything and I was set! This is not a lot of food but it was totally satisfying and filling on so many levels. I rarely use my dinner plates anymore. The smaller plates are the perfect size for holding an acceptable meal portion. It's the little adjustments like these that are making a difference. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dutch Baby

I was first introduced to this remarkable culinary creation through Sunset Magazine. They published a recipe for a similar dish using brown sugar, apples and lots of butter. I used to make it probably 3 times a week until I noticed that I was rapidly starting to gain weight. So I quit making it all together. Then I thought about eliminating all the sugar except for the dusting of powdered sugar. I drastically reduced the amount of butter used and re-proportioned the batter to use two eggs instead of three. I also cut the amount of flour back from 3/4 cup to 1/2 cup and used 1/4 cup less of lowfat or 2% milk.

The result was just as spectacular and satisfying as the Sunset Magazine version with less than half the calories. For the topping I use fresh cut strawberries, blueberries or any fruit I happen to have around. One of my favorite toppings is sliced apples with a few golden raisins sauteed with sherry. I find that you really do need the powdered sugar sprinkled on before serving. It imparts just the right amount of sweetness needed to bring all the tastes together. It's just too bland without it...

It's really important that you make this dish using a 10"cast iron skillet that has been preheated in a 450 degree oven for at least 5 minutes. The skillet needs to be super hot for the batter to "puff" up properly. I've tried making it using casserole dishes and pie tins but it never works out quite the same. So if you don't already have one, go out and purchase a 10"cast iron skillet just to make things like Dutch Baby and cornbread in. The results are so fantastic that you will never regret it!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Happy Anniversary

It's been exactly one month today since I first set out on my weight loss journey. As of today, I've lost a total of 14 lbs. and more importantly, I've managed to develop much healthier eating patterns. Things like I no longer buy a bag of chips when stopping for gas. I've quit eating fast food entirely. I used to stop at McDonalds for a quick cheeseburger or chicken sandwich occasionally. I've cut back on the portions I eat. I actually stop eating when I feel full and not when my plate is cleaned. I've developed some routines, like drinking a glass of sparkling ice water with Emergen-C in the morning with a light breakfast. I never used to eat breakfast at all.

I try not to get too hung up on counting calories. I basically know what is going to be too much and try to avoid that. I try to have already prepared healthy food easily accessible so when I need a quick snack to curb my hunger, I can have something healthy instead of a bunch of empty calories. Basically, I try not to buy into fads and quick weight loss products. Ultimately, it's the day to day effort that is going to matter. I've learned to not live by the scale because my weight fluctuates dramatically. As long as I keep at it... that's what is really important. To not give up when I experience a set back and to stay the course.

So today on my one month anniversary, I can honestly say that I am proud that I have been able to stick with it. I think about why this is. Why didn't I give up early on like I did so many times before? I have to say that this blog has been very instrumental in holding me accountable. It keeps me focused and gives me a format to talk about the journey. If I go 4 days without losing any weight, I know that I need to get back with the program. If I'm having a set back, I can gain inspiration from reading some of my past posts. All my favorite light calorie recipes are ending up in one location!

My favorite quote is, "All things come about through effort". Anything can be achieved if you match the amount of energy /effort to the task. I think of how many distractions there are in the world we live in and how we allow ourselves to be distracted in order to not have to address the issues at hand. I think we tend to over-think things too much. We look for reasons to justify our short comings instead of addressing them head on.

So here's to staying the course! My knees are thanking me. My heart is thanking me... and most of all I am grateful for finding the power within myself to continue to make the effort.

Monday, December 9, 2013


I love chili! My recipe is for the type that is made with ground beef in a tomato based broth. When I make the tomato based fat burner soup, I will sometimes add ground beef and chili powder to transform it into a light chili. It's still low fat and very satisfying. I have a recipe for a lighter version of chili that tastes very similar to Wendy's chili. It's also the chili recipe close to what my Mom used to make. Maybe it's because I grew up eating it, but my Mom's chili was the best and the one I strive to replicate.

This recipe is also good for canning. I triple the recipe to can about 8 quarts so I can have it around.
It's my number one go to for rainy day comfort food. With the rain finally upon us, those 8 quarts won't last long...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Smooth Move

I love drinking smoothies! They always make me feel clean and fresh. They are light, nutritious, filling and addictive. Drinking a smoothie in the morning really wakes me up and gets me going. I love the surf rider smoothie at Jamba Juice and have experimented around with my own version to get the correct balance of sweetness to tang. They use lime sherbet in their version. I skip the sherbet and add a packet of lemon lime Emergen-C for tang and flavor. The Emergen-C is jam packed with antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients and at only 25 calories per packet…well it's a no-brainer.

You can use any combination of fruits, Emergen-C flavors and juice to make whatever flavor you desire. I almost always add a banana for taste / texture and because it adds bulk that fills me up. I use frozen fruit whenever possible because it creates a different texture that I like, plus it makes it colder. I keep bags of frozen bananas, blueberries and strawberries in the freezer just to make these delicious breakfast smoothies with.

Here are a variety of smoothie ideas from Chris at Tales of a Kitchen website

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Old Habits Die Hard

Since Thanksgiving it's been challenging to get back on track.  Eating at night is creeping back into my life again.  It's so easy to totally un-do a whole day of staying on track just by eating an extra 200-300 calories at night. Tonight I ate a slice of sour dough bread with a very light spread of butter and blackberry jam at 10:00. I just went for it, like an old comfortable pair of slippers... I looked in the refrigerator first to find something quick and non-fattening but I haven't been shopping since returning from Thanksgiving and was low on everything.  Had there been some already prepared pickled veggies or even an apple or half a grapefruit on hand, I would have chosen to eat that instead. Right now I need to be very aware of  what I eat at night. I don't want to completely cut off eating all food after my dinner meal, but need to develop more will power so it doesn't get out of hand.

Here are my mini goals for the rest of the week:
  • To get back on track of not eating past 8:00 PM.
  • To have some already prepared healthy low fat food items ready for a quick snack.
  • To lose 3 lbs. by Sunday.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Rebound

I had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Lot's of cooking and spending time with good friends that I hadn't seen for a long time. Spent one day riding bikes on the Ventura / Ojai trail. It was a beautiful warm day in the mid 70's. The trail is about 40 miles round trip and so it is a work out! It was great to spend a day outside winding our way through such beautiful scenery.

I spent all of Thanksgiving day cooking, sipping sherry and talking. For me it was the perfect day. Our meal consisted of Turkey, fresh herb stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry orange sauce,  baked yam & apple casserole with a citrus sherry glaze and peas.  Everything was made from scratch and was delicious! We were so full and tired after the meal that we decided to forego the dessert.

I had a recipe for a pumpkin soufflé that sounded like the perfect finish to a Thanksgiving meal. It was a new recipe for me and we ended up making and eating it Friday night instead of for Thanksgiving. The soufflé calls for a bourbon sauce to drizzle over it just before eating. I thought about serving the soufflé without the sauce to cut back on calories, but the recipe reviews insisted that the dessert needed the sauce so I went ahead and made some. I will definitely be making this dessert again! It was the lightest most satisfying dessert I've ever had. The reviews were correct about the sauce. The bourbon paired perfectly with the pumpkin and the light drizzle of sauce totally made the dessert.
My friends significant other loves pot pie and mentioned making one from the Thanksgiving left overs. I thought it was a great idea and so yesterday morning I got together all the left over peas, carrots, onions, celery, potatoes, turkey, gravy and made a pot pie. I used puff pastry for a top crust only, (no bottom crust). The puff pastry puffs up from the steam and creates a fantastic crust that is light, crunchy and flavorful.
This morning was the first time I've weighed myself in 3 days and I weighed in at 148. Yikes! Guess I have some catching up to do... It was totally worth it to have a great holiday with my friends and will work to get back on track this week.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mini Goals

I tend to get overwhelmed by the amount of weight I want to lose. It's a lot! I have a long haul ahead of me and it's going to be hard work. It's going to be hard because I'm older and I have a lot of deep seeded patterns to turn around. It's like turning around the Titanic. There's a lot of it.

One thing that is helping me immensely is setting mini goals that provide attainable things to work towards. My goal for this week was to lose 2 lbs. by Thanksgiving so that I could gain it all back again after the fantastic meal we are cooking and not feel bad about it. My goal is to just get through this food based holiday without totally blowing my diet. Yesterday I spent most of the day in the car driving to Santa Barbara. I bought some fantastic pistachio nuts and small bag of  a dehydrated vegie combo at a roadside market in Moss Landing. The vegies were a mixture of dried beets, yams, green beans, carrots and other things. They were so crunchy, lightly salted, filling and so satisfying! It only took a few to fill me up. Aside from that and a stop at Starbucks for my iced latte, that was all I had the whole trip. I managed to avoid all the fast food places which was the big thing for me. Setting the mini goal was the only thing that got me through yesterday. I pushed through it and am happy to say that I lost 4 lbs. Yesterday was hard on so many levels, but I am so thankful for the mini goal that totally helped me stay focused. If I can keep this type of thinking up I'll be well on my way to a healthier life.

Take time today to really think of all you have to be thankful for. Not just "things", but the interactions we have with other and what we can do to connect and put forth a spirit of love and understanding on this most glorious days. My goal for today is to kick back and enjoy a slower, non- stressful day full of goodwill towards others, friends, inspiration, laughter and good food.

Wishing everyone a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Late Night Hunger

I get hungry from about 7:00 PM on and it's a real challenge not to eat in the evenings. My appetite is funny that way. I am hardly ever hungry in the morning but I eat something anyway. Usually some plain yogurt with a banana or sometimes I'll make a smoothie.

Come lunch time, I'm starting to develop an appetite... but even then, I need to eat something light or I get incredibly tired at around 3:00 in the afternoon. I'll usually eat a salad or have some soup for lunch. It's always something on the light side so my blood sugar doesn't plummet.

It's not until around 6-7:00 in the evening that I really start to feel hungry. It starts around 7:00 and builds from there. I'll start off having a light dinner which is usually really good and on the healthy side. Then two hours later I'll feel hungry again. I start off by telling myself not to eat but the sensation of hunger is so overwhelming that I begin to eat. I start off with something small like a couple of tortilla chips or a slice of cheese. The problem is that it doesn't stop there. It just makes me hungry for more so I'll make something like a tortilla with salad and some salsa and cheese inside and eat that. Or maybe I'll take some cold cuts and eat them wrapped around some pickled vegetables and cottage cheese. Maybe I'll eat three of these before I feel full.

I have always been like this. Even in high school, I can remember getting hungry at night. The reality is that often I can't sleep unless I have had something to eat. The hunger is so overpowering that it will keep me awake.

Eating after dinner is the number one eating dysfunction of mine. I'm going to look online to see what I can find out about this. I remember hearing something about it recently in the press. Something about how a lot of people had this problem and I think there was a term for it. The fact is that I did well with not eating past 8:00 in the evening for about 1-1/2 weeks and now it is starting to creep back in again. I play mind games with myself that attempt to validate it. I realize the absurdity of it all but the hunger is so great that all reasoning gets thrown out the window.

I'm writing about this because presently it is the biggest obstacle for me to overcome and I would like to really spend some time addressing this issue.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Staying the Course...

This has been a challenging week for me. The holidays are kicking in big time with so much good food around. The "taste" approach is working but in some instances just wets my appetite to want even more. For instance with anything crunchy, (like crackers), I can't do the taste approach because crackers are my nemesis. For now I have to avoid them completely. Lucky for me, I've found crunch in other food items that are less likely to throw my diet under the bus. A small handful of almonds is very satisfying. Keep it to a handful though because frequent snacking on nuts can  totally derail a diet.

I find that setting small attainable goals along the way is extremely helpful. My current goal is to lose 2 more pounds before Thanksgiving. I know I'll gain them back immediately afterwards, but planning ahead for it now will help me stay on track and put me in control of my eating. Which is the point of my diet... for me to be in control and not my dysfunctional food addiction. I have to remind myself of that periodically. That it's not about the calories for me as much as it is about my eating habits. Of course I want to lose weight but that will happen through being in control of my eating patterns. It's important for me to focus on that and not on the ups and downs of weight loss.

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. To me there's nothing better than spending time in the kitchen with friends / family / whoever... creating a beautifully prepared meal. I enjoy the ritual of preparing the meal from scratch and not using a lot of prepared ahead / processed or canned ingredients.  From cooking the turkey and peeling potatoes, to tearing and drying the bread the day before for stuffing and the popping of the fresh cranberries when cooking... I love it all. I love sipping sherry in between adding it to the sauces. The combinations of traditional Thanksgiving foods pair well with alcohol and it's always an opportunity for me to try new spirits. This year it's the Jalapeno vodka from Stoli and a private reserve port. I also like to try new recipes out and this year it's the spiced pumpkin soufflé with bourbon sauce for dessert. It sounds divine and I liked the lightness and no crust aspects of it. Pumpkin and bourbon are made for each other and I'm so excited to try this new recipe out!

So this is my wish for all of us struggling with eating disorders this holiday season:
  • That we will allow ourselves to enjoy food and drink without letting it overpower us.
  • That we focus on the absolute joy of the season and sharing it with friends and family.
  • To partake in the spirit of giving through the kindness and understanding that we show towards others.
  • To let the spirit of the season connect and inspire us towards greater objectives.
Looking forward to a season of new beginnings!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Festive Light Bites

I love appetizers with flavors that mingle together in one bite. These Greek salad bites do exactly that.

My son makes a fantastic Greek salad but the salami pushes it over the top for added calories. The flavors of the cucumber, tomatoes, feta and olives together are a perfect combination of savory, salt and crunch.

This is like a mini Greek salad on a stick. It’s very satisfying and light making it the perfect appetizer for when you’re craving the taste of Greek salad without all the added calories. It has the added benefits of being gluten free, easy to eat and makes for a beautiful presentation.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Eating Out

Tonight I met a friend at a local Polynesian Tiki Bar restaurant which I love! They have a happy hour that goes until 6:00 so we took advantage of that and ordered off of the appetizer menu. They have a number of great tasting appetizers and we chose the Vietnamese fresh spring rolls and the marinated beef kabobs. Both items were fabulous!

Vietnamese fresh spring rolls are one of my all time favorite foods. I make these at home a couple times a month. They are labor intensive and have to be made fresh because they do not keep well. The wrapping becomes too rubbery and dried out after even 1 hour in the fridge. They are light and filling. The ones we had tonight were filled with strips of tofu, vegetable and mint. The mint totally makes it no matter what the filling is. I fill mine at home with shrimp, pickled vegetables, avocado, lettuce, rice vermicelli noodles and mint. I make big rolls and cut them in half. I like less of the wrapper and more filling. The dipping sauce is important and is the element that binds all the flavors together.


The beef kabobs were small cubes of marinated steak with pineapple and green onion chunks in between and then lightly glazed and grilled. They were delicious! I will definitely be making them at home.

Frequently when I go out to eat, I will order a couple of appetizers in place of a meal. They are usually just enough to fill me up and I like having different tastes of things instead of a lot of one item. Tapas and appetizers are the perfect food format for me and are an excellent choice for weight loss.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


With the holidays just around the corner, I’m finding myself increasingly in social situations that involve buffet type displays of food. The one tonight had a full array of chocolate items. Cakes with gnache centers, truffles, fudge, hand dipped tropical fruits and some gorgeous little petit fours. I mean we’re talking beautifully crafted chocolate works of art! How can a foodie like me possibly say no to such delectable treats? Why would anyone want to?

Bottom line, losing the weight and addressing my dysfunctional eating patterns are more important to me than a bunch of chocolate. That is my truth and I need to honor that decision. After all, this is the foundation of my whole weight loss journey.

I have had a long career in the apparel industry and there is a control factor in production that we refer to as tolerances. Basically, this is a set standard that allows for error. Things move quickly through production and so the amount that a measurement can be off is important to specify so the silhouette and fit do not get distorted. For clothing, the tolerances set are in proportion to the length of the seam. The shorter the seam length, the shorter the tolerance. Most seams have a standard 1/4" tolerance.

Tonight I thought I would apply the same theory to food. So what are my tolerances? How much of a piece of cake can I have before it alters my diets outcome... and is this playing with fire? It’s hard making these decisions especially when it’s something like chocolate staring you in the face!

I decided that my tolerance factor for everything not in my diet plan would be a “taste.” A taste is just that. Not a handful, not a slice, not two tastes.  A taste is a small enough amount to get the idea of the flavor and the texture without compromising the integrity of my weight loss.

I need this buffer for the times when it is important to allow for food experiences.  There’s nothing wrong with tasting a spoonful of ice cream or tiramisu. It’s simply unrealistic for me to cut all food experiences that are potentially dangerous out of my life. Yes it’s playing with fire but I look at it more as a controlled burn. For now, I’m going to allow for tastes and see how that plays out.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I was really hungry today. Starting my diet last week was not difficult. It went incredibly well and I wasn’t that hungry most of the time. This week is different.

I’m craving meat and more substantial foods. The vegetables aren’t as satisfying this week and I want bulk. I’m craving textures that can be chewed and have a heavier weight. A steak would really do me well about now… or something like fettuccini with clam sauce or lasagna. I’m craving the feeling of being full from bulk and not full from fat burner soup.

I managed to stay on track by allowing myself to have more bulk at dinner tonight. I cooked up ½ lb. of lean hamburger with spinach and onions and sautéed apples as sides. The total portion was larger than what I would usually allow myself to have but hey… it was satisfying and got rid of the craving so I’m happy about that.


I feel like my body just needs more today and that’s OK. It’s important to be able to differentiate between the cravings that drive the bus from the ones that throw you under the bus. My body is changing and today it needed to have more protein type energy. I’m going to keep more hamburger and chicken breasts on hand just for days like today when I need them. I’m glad to be making these types of decisions about what my body needs as opposed to having it all spelled out in advance and just blindly following a plan or fad regardless of what is going on inside.  For me it’s just as much about changing my eating patterns as it is about losing the weight. The eating patterns are going down kicking and screaming. I can already tell that it’s really going to take a conscious effort on my part to keep from falling back into old behaviors. Yes it’s OK to have a big burger, yes it’s OK to have larger than normal portions. No it’s not OK to do this every day and NO it’s not OK to beat myself up over it. Years of poor eating habits aren’t going away over night and one way or another, I’ll learn to deal with it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fat Burner Soup

I have a long time love affair with fat burner soup.  I even went so far as to consider starting a small business making and manufacturing it a year ago but after crunching the numbers, I felt that my passion for it was better played out on a smaller scale.

There are 2 main recipes I use. One is a beef stock / tomato based version and the other is chicken stock based. My personal favorite is the chicken stock version. I love this soup and make it on a regular basis. It’s very flavorful, hearty and really fills you up. I use to take it to work for lunch. I cannot eat a regular sandwich at lunch because my blood sugar plummets and I just want to go to sleep afterwards. This soup was the perfect thing for me to eat in the middle of my working day. Homemade goodness I could look forward to.

The best thing about fat burner soup is that it is nutritious and easy to make. The second best thing is that you can eat as much soup as you want without worrying about the calories. The more you eat the more fat you burn. So I usually make a whole lot and freeze it to have on hand

The soup is especially good for quick weight loss. I by no means condone eating the soup for long periods of time or overdoing it. I do however use the soup as a meal replacement. It’s filling, nutritious and does not weigh you down.

The main ingredient is cabbage. The cabbage is an excellent source of fiber that actually aids weight loss. The only chicken in the soup is the chicken stock and chicken flavored bullion. There is no actual chicken meat. I also dice ½ of a jalapeño to add to the blended vegetables…giving slightly hot under-tones that balances out the flavors. Yum!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

In Flight

I've noticed today that my sense of taste is changing. I'm craving clean fresh foods with minimal cooking. Just a fresh ripe pear sliced thin with a drizzle of honey over some yogurt tastes so good to me. Maybe I'm just getting lazy, but my desire to cook is not a priority lately.

Last summer I bought a whole box of perfectly ripe mangos for $10.00 at the peak of the season and canned 10 half pints of Major Grey chutney. I haven't really used any of them yet and had a jar in the refrigerator I pulled out tonight and stirred in with some yogurt. Wow...what a great combination! It was summer in a jar and now that I've discovered how great it is with yogurt, you can bet those jars are going to go fast.

Well today marks the end of the first week launch of my diet. Holy cow, I lost 9 lbs. this week!  I know that is going to decrease substantially in the weeks to come. Honestly... I'm happy to have lost anything at all and to not be playing the diet mind games with myself that I always do. I'm thankful for this blog that gives me a platform to chart my journey. Even if no one reads it, it's still a good format to help keep me on track and a nice way to end every day.

I don't have any goals for the amount of weight I'd like to lose. My goal is to get to a place where I feel good about myself and can do the activities I love. My goal is to just lighten up, hang on and enjoy the ride!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Keeping it Real

I woke up this morning and first thing that popped into my mind was getting outside on this most glorious of days to ride my bike. I live in a beautiful area and I love riding my bike! I'm not a racer or hard core cyclist. I have a hybrid that allows me the flexibility of a road bike that can handle dirt roads and packed dirt trails. It's very versatile and is a good all purpose bike. It is not so good for long distance riding however. I would say it works for 40 miles and anything over that starts to get uncomfortable.

Riding my bike is my preferred source of exercise. It’s fast, fun and does not negatively impact my knees. I love being outside and having the world zip by. I mostly ride on bike paths, (rail to trail type paths), that go through natural areas. Don’t care much for riding in traffic. I’m not a walker. I'm too lazy and walking is too slow for me. I like to cover a lot of territory and stop along the way to take in the sights.

The main reason for my starting this diet to begin with was because my breathing issues were preventing me from riding my bike. Any uphill riding was increasingly difficult, causing light headedness with a significantly increased heart rate. I just couldn't catch my breath and it was so out of character for me. It was definitely preventing me from doing something that I loved.

The reason I bring this up is that a big part of my “diet” is to not dwell so much on loseing weight and focus more on just leading the type of lifestyle I want to live. I mean isn’t that the point of it all? Sometimes I think we focus so much on the ways and means to get somewhere that we forget where it is we want to go. I can easily get hung up in the bells and whistles of dieting fads, weight loss supplements, health clubs and everything I’m “supposed to do” to take control of my weight loss. The simple fact is that I am overweight because I eat too much at night.  No supplement or exercise plan will ever help until I address this.

My point is that so often we burn out by obsessing about weight loss. You don’t need to overthink it. Just accept it and get on with the day. There are other fish to fry, (well actually poaching or grilling would be a better option), and so much of what we focus on actually distracts us from the living the life we want for ourselves.

So off I go out into the wild blue yonder beautiful day to enjoy riding my bike for what it is, (always an adventure), and not just because it is good exercise that will help me lose weight...

Below 250


Milestone #1

I have not been weighing myself every day, but today I reached my first milestone of dropping below 250. I like the way my weight loss is going and think that it is a good program for me. I'm feeling a little lighter but still have a long way to go. I don't feel overwhelmed by it all however and as long as I'm making steady progress, it's all good.
I'm the type of person that needs to see results. It would be difficult for me to be on a diet and only lose 1 or 2 lbs. a week. Granted it's better than no lbs. but still that would not be enough to keep me engaged in the dieting process. I also do not care much for the "shake" diets that are so popular. My feeling is that the shakes probably do take the weight off quickly, but drinking shakes every day is not addressing the habits that got us overweight to begin with.
It takes about 5 days for my stomach to shrink to where I feel full eating less. That kicked in for me yesterday and today was the same. I've settled into a routine of new eating patterns. I don't know how long these foods will last before I start to get bored with them, but I have a plan! I'm getting all of my recipes and food ideas together now so I have alternatives in place for when it does happen. So bring it on! I'm ready to deal with whatever comes my way.
I've been having some breathing issues which started a couple of months ago. I first noticed it on a bike ride in Monterey while peddling up a long incline. Normally it would not bother me but I had to get off the bike and rest because I was so out of breath. Then it happened again the next week on another ride going uphill. Then I noticed I would be out of breath just walking up the stairs to my apartment. I had all these heart tests done and they all came out negative. I was glad to get a clean bill of health, yet wondered what could be causing the breathing issues? Well today I carried 2 bags of groceries up the steps and for the first time in months was not out of breath! I am starting to think that the extra weight was the culprit. At 257, I was heavier than I had ever been and I think that the extra lbs. were enough to push my body into a different way of functioning. I truly hope that is it! I can deal with losing the weight much more than I would be able to deal with something like clogged arteries.
I also feel less weight on my knees. Although they still hurt, they're not as painful as say a week ago...
Posting to this blog is helping tremendously. Just taking the time every day to review the progress and write down my thoughts is helping me stay focused. I feel more accountable having put it out there in the world. It's not all just in my head and I feel great when I can see the daily progress that is happening. Even if no-one else ever reads this, it's OK because it's helping me adjust the way I relate to every day food. And that... my friend... is a good thing!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Feeling Full

I was thinking this evening about how unusual it was for me to not eat all the food on my plate at dinner time. Granted I am the one deciding the portion amount I put on it in the first place, but I always finish eating everything I put on my plate. Tonight I did not. I was full before I finished so I stopped eating, with enough left over to wrap up for another time. I did not take large portions to begin with so it was really out of character for me to do this. I sat there looking at my plate for an instance debating whether I should finish it or not. Usually I finish everything and debate whether I should get more? It was a weird moment for me and I wasn't sure how to process it. Being satisfied hunger wise is not part of my vocabulary. Even when I do feel full, my mind can still be hungry... especially at night. Last night was different and I actually stopped eating when I was full and my mind did not kick in as usual. This is huge for me!

I eat a lot of lemon pickled vegetables. I love anything fresh with vinegar. Vinegar is great for weight loss because it helps dissolve fat. I take whatever vegetables I happen to have on hand, slice them up and pickle them in a mixture of seasoned rice vinegar, lemon and a tiny bit of honey, (that you don't really need to add), but it rounds out the taste... so I add it. I keep it on hand in the refrigerator and it will last for days. It's part of my "already made ahead" diet arsenal for when I get hungry but don't want to eat anything fattening. It has a big taste and is also good wrapped in cold cuts as a light snack. This week I used carrots, cucumbers, celery, cherry tomatoes, red peppers and jicama.

Lemon Pickled Vegetables

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Off Topic Ramble...

I recently took a part time job 3 mornings a week for a courier service. The job is easy. It gets me up and moving early and it's a lot of movement in and out of the car, walking up steps, etc. I'm happy to be out and about moving around before 9:00 and getting paid for it. The weekend before Halloween, Rondoni Farms in Santa Cruz donated about 40 pumpkins to the Boulder Creek Library for their annual pumpkin carving event. They donate every year and because of this... we are able to offer the pumpkin carving event free to the public. They have a great little farm with all organic produce, right on the ocean off Hwy. 1.

I've been trying to bake some cookies to take to Rondoni Farms for what seems forever. I made the dough 2 weeks ago and it's been sitting in the refrigerator waiting for me to do something with it. The last stop on my job route is only 5 miles from Rondoni Farms so last night I baked the cookies so I could drop them off after my route today. I made a silly little turkey out of one of the small pumpkins thinking that it would be a fun Thanksgiving craft project for the library next week. I had a couple of them so I took one with me on my route today to use as a centerpiece for the cookie platter. I knew the folks at Rondoni would like it. It was funny because when I started out the pumpkin was rolling all over and I knew it would get ruined unless I could somehow secure it. The feathers and head are just out of paper so it was a bit of a challenge to keep them from becoming smashed up and tattered. At first I placed the turkey on the seat next to me and held it against the seat back while I drove. Then I thought, why not just put the seat belt on it...duh?  The turkey stayed put through all those turns on Hwy 9. Amazing! It was in perfect shape when I took it out and placed it on the platter. Everyone at Rondoni Farms loved it and the cookies were a big hit. They are currently heavy into brussel sprout production. The pumpkins are pretty much gone and it's all about the brussel sprouts now.

The whole reason I bring this up is because last night I managed to bake over 3 dozen rolled butter cookies and only ate 2. Today I had them in my car all day and only ate one, (and only ate it because it was broken when I went to plate them up). That is a big accomplishment for me. I did make sure that I was not hungry when I started baking last night. I'm challenged in the evenings enough as it is... so I ate a banana and a bunch of apple slices before I started. I was proud of myself for not going off track.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 3

I have no intention of weighing myself daily and it is not about the number of pounds I drop as much as it is about the mindset shift that allows me to be satisfied with less. What I put in my head is far more important than what I put in my mouth. That said... here is the scale picture I took this morning.
I realize that the first few days are mostly lost water weight and that it definitely gets harder around the second week. As long as I keep on track that is all that I care about. Visited Succlent Gardens in Castroville today with a friend and afterwards went to the Moss Landing produce market, which is a fantastic open air market right on Hwy.1. I LOVE this place! $1.00 for 3 grapefruits, $1.00 for 10 baby artichokes, $1.00 for 5 kiwis... you get the picture. Look at all I got for just $6.00!
We stopped off at Phils Fish House for lunch and I had 6 fresh Pacific oysters on the half shell and a beer. By the time I arrived back home I was pretty hungry. Fixed a light dinner of last nights left over shrimp with some of the fruits I bought today sliced up. I also cooked an ear of corn and instead of butter, I brushed it lightly with some lemon infused oil, (to give the salt, pepper and cayenne powder something to adhere to).
All in all a beautiful day. Love eating all this fresh food and am feeling better already.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 2

Day two of my diet and the hunger is setting in. It's actually more about the sensation of losing weight than about hunger. Sometimes I confuse these. Today I took pleasure in the idea that as long as I feel slightly on edge hunger wise, I am losing weight. Instead of giving in and letting it control me, I have decided to just get used to it. The sensation usually decrease as my stomach gets used to consuming less. It's all psychological for me most of the time. My 21 yr. old son stays with me about two or three nights a week. We cook together a fair amount and I always try to have healthy foods on hand. Occasionally he goes shopping for his own food that he likes to eat. Yesterday was one of the days he shopped. I came home and the pantry was filled with snacks. The freezer was filled with frozen pizzas and jalapeno poppers. The refridgerator has things in it like chip dips and large containers of Arnold Palmer iced tea. This is going to be a real test for sure... God help me!
On staying focused... This is hard for me! I let distractions rule my life. I seek them out and give them precedence over everything. Today was different tho. I had one goal and that was to stay on track. I did and was greatly rewarded!
My inspirational quote for the day: "There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout: This is me damn it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love. I am a whole complex package. Take me...or leave me. Accept me or walk away! Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don't fit your idea of who I should be and don't try to change me to fit your mold. If I need to change, I alone will make that decision. When you are strong enough to love yourself 100%, good and bad-you will be amazed at the opportunities that life presents you." --Stacey Charter

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Evening challenge

Los Gatos CA. has a fantastic farmers market and I spent a couple of hrs. there this afternoon with a friend taking it all in. I wanted to have some foods to look forward to eating when I became hungry later in the evening. I got some incredible asian pears and persimmons that still need to ripen fully before eating.
I feel good that I'm able to stay on track so far this evening. The first day / week is always the hardest. Will post some pictures of me tomorrow to track my progress. I made this meal for dinner tonight.
I love tofu and the fried tofu is really satisfying for me. It is filling and light at the same time. I like it when I slow down and take the time to make a balanced meal with a nice presentation. I think the food is more appreciated if it is put together instead of just slammed down. Putting the time into a nice presentation shows that I care about what I am giving to myself and this is important for my psyche. When I stop careing it's all over.

Ready... Set... GO

Seems like I wake up every morning and tell myself, OK... today is the day i'm going to be good and not over eat. Today is the day I will take a stand to lose the weight. Today is the day! By 11:00 I start to get hungry and by 12:00 I've usually already blown it. Then I tell myself, "well, tomorrow will be better", and the cycle starts all over again.

I have lost weight in the past. I've lost a lot of weight... but it always seems to find it's way back again. The truth is that I love to cook and I love food. I don't eat a lot of junk but I can eat a lot... mostly at night when I am the hungriest. I'm not a "joiner" and I don't want to spend lots of money that I don't have to find out what I already know... to not eat so much and definately not right before I go to bed. I think we all know inside of us what we need to do to get control of our lives. I know I can get a handle on this if I focus on breaking the pattern that prevents me from staying on track. This is what I know:

• The older I get, the harder it will be to lose weight.
• 4 lbs. of pressure are added to your knees for every 1 lb.of weight gained.
• No matter how much I’ve had to eat during the day, I still feel famished at night.
• I’m doing less activities I enjoy because the weight decreases my energy level.
• Being overweight is just as much of a psychological issue with me as it is a food issue.
• I know I can do this so I am putting it all out there for everyone to see.

My hope is that I will attract a support group of like minded people who want to attack the issues of being overweight as much as I do. That we will be able to support each other emotionally through this and get it under control once and for all. I love to cook and have quite a few recipes that are great for weight loss. I also wanted to create a form for my recipes, that they might help others deal with their hunger issues. So I’m going to dive right in and see where this leads. I encourage you to join me on my journey so we can help each other achieve the healthy lives that we deserve to live. Where perseverence will be encouraged with the support we give to each other. Where we can lift each other up and know we are not alone in our quest.

So welcome to day one of the journey. Ready… set … GO!