Whoo HOOO! 138.6

I weighed in again this AM. I was a bit nervous actually. I thought perhaps yesterday was a fluke and maybe I was back up. Funny my body “felt” thinner when I was heavier at 141.8 and this morning, I “felt” heavier. But yay, the scale showed 138.6. I’m definitely feeling back to normal.

I am pretty sure it’s really not possible to gain and lose 3 pounds of actual fat in such a small amount of time, so I assume my slight weight gain and loss was due to some sort of water retention.

Hmm, possibly from the rise in activity too. I’ve been working with DH moving and stacking firewood, and we’ve been walking and biking more too. I think I heard somewhere that you can have a temporary weight gain when you’re working your muscles. Don’t they hold in water or something? I’ll have to do some research.

Anyway, I really think I’m back on track. I’m back to eating “clean” and it feels wonderful! But the slightly lower calorie restriction has been a little bit difficult. I’ve definitely been keeping under my lower 1650 calories, but it’s been a challenge. I’m thinking I’ll wait one more day or two, weigh in, and then incrementally raise it back up to 1800 during the following week or so.

Life is good!

Getting Back On Track! 140!

Yes! I think I’m getting back on track. I weighed in this morning at 140! Yay! I still have a little tiny bit more to go, but I’m happy. I feel “lighter” physically and emotionally!

I was a little discouraged, but determined yesterday! After I made my public confession both on MyFitnessPal and here on the blog, I felt relieved!

This has been such a learning experience, and it’s still a long journey!

Weight loss was only the first part of the voyage, maintenance is going to be a life long struggle.

I will always be a compulsive eater. It will never go away. There will be many relapses and that’s okay. It’s normal. I just have to be aware of when it’s happening so I can bring myself back! I can’t be embarrassed or ashamed of myself.

But I’m back on track now. My calories are still set lower at 1650, and we’ll see what happens during the next couple of days/weeks.

Besides learning more about my compulsiveness, I also learned that more than ever, I still need to keep counting calories, and remain active in some sort of weight loss community. I am so grateful that I have such an easy way to do that, with MyFitnessPal – besides their web site, the iPhone app is a God-send. I know emphatically that I would not be as successful if I didn’t have the community and the tools from this site.

Thank you myfitnesspal and to all my friends there!

Confessions of a Compulsive Eater – 141.8

Okay, confession time.

This summer was brutal. While on our vacations, I ate a lot lot lot of sugary foods, & it seems like it made my “compulsive” eating issues come alive a little bit. It was getting harder and harder to say “no” to foods that I shouldn’t be eating.

This weekend, I didn’t think twice about grabbing a couple of processed store-bought cookies & a small bag of buttered/salted popcorn that was offered at a local hardware store’s grand re-opening. ugh.

I never had trouble refusing gross processed cookies in the past, so I know there’s a problem.

I mean, I always felt that if I was going to treat myself, it would have to be something special and really delicious. Not some store bought oreos, chips ahoy, or fig newtons! sigh.

Bottom line, I have been slowly gaining back a little weight. Not a lot, but I’m up to 141.8! I think the gain is a combination of my eating habits and my messed up peri-menopausal system, but either way, I’ve got to do better with my food choices.

I’ve officially adjusted my profile weight up to 141.8 at MyFitnessPal.

I adjusted my daily calories from 1800 to 1650, and posted my confession on my MyFitnessPal newsfeed! What a marvelous wonderful group of supportive friends I have on MFP.

Yes yes yes, I know I can do it!

  • I don’t want to ignore this problem, that’s how I ended up at 200 pounds in the first place!
  • I’m trying to be accountable
  • I’m admitting that I’m doing something wrong and I want to change!

I should add that 140 is actually a “normal” weight for someone at my height of 5’8″ but I feel “normal” at around 138ish.

Roasting Tomatoes and Drying Celery Leaves

Went to a local farm in a neighboring town and picked up 6 lb gorgeous tomatoes ($1.75lb) along with a big celery with tons and tons of leaves ($1) and two small pickling cukes ($1). All for under $13.50!

As soon as I returned home, I washed and chopped the tomatoes into halves/large chunks and put them in the oven to slow roast @ 260F.

Never ever throw away fresh celery leaves when you buy them fresh at the farm or farmer’s market. They dry out so easily in a low oven and will keep in a air-tight container for awhile. Use like any dry herb, for soups, sauces, etc. Penzey’s Spices charges over $8 for a 4 oz bag of celery flakes and the dried leaves work just as well!

Just tear off most of the deep green celery leaves (thin stalks too), rinse and spin dry. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and into the (260F) oven. I had mine drying along with the tomatoes.

Watch the celery leaves in the oven, remove when they get crispy and can crumble completely in your hands. It takes about 30 – 45 minutes. Then allow to cool (only takes a few minutes) and crumble the leaves and stems into an air-tight container or plastic baggie. They keep for awhile, but will lose flavor the longer you keep, just like other dried herbs.

Back to the tomatoes. It’s about 2-3 hours to roast the tomatoes, and once they’re all roasted to sweet goodness, allow them to cool. I transferred into quart freezer bags, ready to use in the winter months when I’m longing for fresh tomato sauce! You can also freeze fresh (uncooked) tomatoes. I just core them and freeze them whole. Works great!

I’ll probably buy more tomatoes from this farm and freeze those raw, but this time, I wanted to get them roasted up first.

Oh it will be soo nice to have summer tomatoes available for my tomato sauce in February…if they last that long!

Williams Sonoma Cooking from the Farmers’ Market Book Review

I borrowed the “Williams Sonoma Cooking from the Farmers Market” cookbook from the library. It’s a lovely hard cover book, with loads of colorful, high-qualtiy photographs.

williams sonoma cooking from the farmers market cookbook review

The book begins with tips for local seasonal eating and shopping at the farmers’ market. There is a 4 page “graph” listing each vegetable and fruit and its season. For instance, delicate lettuces are normally grown in the spring and autumn, while sturdy lettuces are grown in the winter. Garlic is a summer veg, while apples are found in the autumn and winter. It gives you a rough idea of what produce to expect at a given time of year.

The book is then organized by each vegatable/fruit “group” – for instance, Beans & Peas, Cabbages & other Crucifers, Leafy Greens, Roots & Tubers, Squashes, etc.

At the beginning of each veg/fruit section, there’s a quick “table of contents” listing which produce will be covered in that section and a descriptive summary. Onions & Cousins: onions, sweet onions, garlic, green garlic, leeks, green onions.

Then there’s more detail on each specific vegetable/fruit, like growing history, variations, growing season, and other helpful tips for buying and cooking it. Not unlike a quick encyclopedia reference for produce! There was also a fantastic photo available for each vegetable/fruit which is helpful if you aren’t sure what it looks like.

The produce are listed in two’s, with their specific recipes following. Recipes are grouped three to a page, with one fantastic photograph of a finished dish on the opposite page.

Each vegetable/fruit has a color reference, and the recipes are color coordinated. For instance, there is a section for Brussels Sprouts (orange) and Broccoli Rabe (blue) – the recipes that follow are highlighted in either orange for Brussels Sprouts or blue for Broccoli Rabe.

The recipes themselves are inspiring and creative. I’m not a big recipe follower, but I love gaining knowledge by reading through cookbooks, learning new techniques, and how to put different flavors together. There are some unique ideas in this book and some classic! I think everyone can learn a little something, whether you’re a newbie cook or experienced.

If you don’t need a permanent reference, then consider borrowing the “Williams Sonoma Cooking from the Farmers Market” cookbook from your local library.

If you are new to healthy cooking and need a general Vegetable & Fruit guide, then this would be a great addition to your cookbook collection. It’s also helpful for inspiration if you frequent your local farmers markets or receive a hefty share of veggies from your local farm CSA.

One issue to keep in mind, recipes are not categorized by type, so if you’re searching for a soup, you won’t be able to browse through a chapter of soups. You’ll need to refer to the detailed index at the back of the book, to find all “soups” of which there are plenty!

But if you return from the market with some eggplant, and don’t know what to do with it, open the book to the eggplant section and you might energized with an idea, like Rolled Eggplant with Sausage and Mozzarella (a recipe I’m looking forward to trying)

A few of the other recipes that jumped out at me were

  1. Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Champagne Grapes
  2. Sauteed Spinach with Feta & Pine Nuts
  3. Avocado, Bacon & Tomato Tartines
  4. Baked eggs with spinach and cream
  5. Blueberry-Vanilla Panna Cotta

Note: I noticed most of the recipes that included a photograph in the cookbook, were indeed available online at the Williams Sonoma web site. Plus a few recipes were available from other bloggers.

Disclaimer:
I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks; I like putting my own spin on a recipe rather than exactly following it. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.

No, NO NOO. I Am NOT Gaining!

So, I’ve been weighing myself regularly (once or twice weekly +) and this AM I was shocked to see 141.6 on the scale! I haven’t been that much over 140 since April!

I was 139.6 last week. I admit a couple of days, I went over by 100-200 calories, but there were days I was under. I suppose I also should admit that I have been “nibbling” and not “counting” a little bit while cooking.

BUT I’ve also been active, walking/biking and running around the kitchen cooking. I know I didn’t actually gain 2 pounds of fat, but I think I am retaining some water.

Last night, my ankles looked very puffy. I know I’m not drinking enough water. And I’ve got to stop the mindless nibble while cooking. I do not want this to be a permanent thing, and I am pretty sure it’s not, but it gave me a little push to watch myself closer.

And I’m trying to be accountable! I’ve been a little lax and maybe even a little cocky about my calories. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, I just need to stop now, and re-focus.

Autumn is a time to revel in the crisp clean air and ponder life. Yes, I’m happy, I have a wonderful husband, great family, lovely home. I’m lucky. I’m healthy. I’m looking forward to hitting 50 next year! Life is good!

Big BIG Plan Ahead Cooking Weekend

My sweet niece is having her first baby within a couple of weeks. I know as new parents, they are not going to have a lot of time (and energy) to cook healthy meals for themselves, so I am taking this weekend to cook up big batches of food to freeze for them.

Yesterday, I went shopping and purchased most of what I needed.

  • Chicken bone-in whole breast (found a good deal on Bell & Evans air-chilled) – chicken soup
  • A large beef chuck shoulder roast along with a 7-bone chuck roast – braised beef
  • 5 lb potatoes and 5 lb onions – not sure if I’ll be able to use the potatoes, as I’m reading that potatoes do not freeze well.
  • Kale, carrots, poplano peppers
  • Swanson chicken low sodium broth – a brand I haven’t bought in a long time.
  • Small bag of store brand white rice
  • 6 cans of Pine Cone whole tomatoes – another brand that I haven’t bought in awhile, but it was cheap!
  • And the purchase that shames me more than anything….a pack of frozen Perdue chicken breast. Oh the horror. I have spent so much time criticizing Perdue and other “Big Food” companies like them, I can’t believe that I stooped so low to actually purchase their product! But they are convenient, and my niece and her DBF will be able to prepare them quickly and easily.

So, yesterday afternoon I got started on the chicken soup and white rice.

The soup turned out very well. I sauteed onions, celery, carrots, (and from my fridge,) zucchini and a couple chopped radishes in my new 7 qt Staub cast iron pot (oh have I mentioned I absolutely ADORE this pot!) and then I added some fresh tomato chunks, and both cartons of chicken broth, along with the bone-in chicken breast and tons of dried herbs and a little turmeric. Simmered it on the stove for over an hour, and it was done.

I divided the chicken into two 1-gallon freezer bags along with a hefty portion of soup. I filled one more bag with just the soup (no chicken) with instructions to add a cooked Perdue chicken breast if needed.

The rice didn’t fair as well. I decided to try Lucinda Scala Quinn’s suggestion of a 1 to 1.5 ratio when cooking white rice.

In my 4 qt Staub pot, I poured 3 cups water and added 2 cups of rice and some salt. I was a little distracted, and made the mistake of leaving it for a couple of minutes, and then stirring the rice. You’re not supposed to stir rice while cooking, but there was still a big mound of rice rising out of the water. When the liquid was cooked out, I took it off heat, and allowed it to “steam” like I always do. Well, when I tasted it afterward, there were “crunchy” parts. Oh no!

My biggest mistake I think, looking back in hindsight was using such a large pot. The water wasn’t filled enough over the top of the rice and I think it evaporated too quickly. Then I left the pot with the rice still mounded up over the water for a few minutes and stirred it!

I tried to fix my mistake today by re-cooking the rice (same pot) but adding about 1.5 cups more water. I allowed it to cook until the water evaporated and then I took off heat to allow it to steam. I like steaming rice after cooking, as it allows any “stuck” on bits at the bottom to soften and lift from the pot. Makes it easier to clean and it make the rice fluffy!

So, I think the rice is saved! I packed it into 3 quart sized freezer bags.

Oh and a bit of advice about freezing. I know my niece doesn’t have a large freezer, so I wanted to make the food as compact as possible. I am freezing everything flat on a large cookie sheet, so she won’t have to worry about too much bulk.

Today’s cooking started out with braised beef, and ended with some tasty tomato sauce. In between I made her a loaf of homemade bread.

For the braised beef, I used my wonderful 7 quart Staub again (I can’t believe how useful this pot is!) and I browned the beef. Starting with the taller roast chunk, I browned all 4 sides, then I transferred onto a plate. I browned the larger flatter 7-bone “roast” (it’s not really a roast, it’s more like a chuck steak, but then I suppose shoppers might confuse it for a real steak and try to grill it, not braise it) on top and bottom. Oh and I generously salted and peppered all sides of the roasts as I was flipping.

Once the 7-bone was browned, I transferred that to the dish as well, then tossed in 5 large-chopped onions and a little bit of juice from one can of tomatoes. Using a wooden spoon (I NEVER use metal in my beloved enameled cast iron) I scraped up some of the delicious flavor bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

I allowed the onions to cook for a few minutes, covered, then added some cheap red wine, scraping up more flavor bits at the bottom, making sure they were all found. I arranged each piece of meat back into the pot, then poured the rest of the canned tomatoes and more wine on top. Covered and cooked for about 5 hours. I checked on it once after 3 hours.

When it was tender and falling apart, I removed the meat from pot to a large platter to cool. What was left in the pot was scrumptious, so I figured it would be a great base for tomato sauce, which I could then make into chili later.

So, I poured 4 cans of tomatoes into the pot, along with what I thought was some mild Poblano chili peppers – ouch. My fingers are still stinging from chopping them. I usually wear gloves while chopping hot chiles, but since Poblanos are known to be very mild, I didn’t. Thankfully I tasted a small piece before putting too many into the pot. It was powerfully hot! So, I chopped the rest to freeze in a quart freezer bag for them to use in future recipes. I only added about a half a chili, figuring I can add more later.

In the meantime, I started to shred the beef and transfer the pieces to a glass storage container, making sure to keep out any gross fat pieces. The large chuck roast didn’t have much fat to remove, but the 7-bone had a bit.

I’ll keep the meat in the fridge overnight and pack it into freezer bags tomorrow, along with maybe starting on a batch of chili with beans, and the rest of the carrots and kale.

And so, all in all, it was a productive day…Yes, my fingers are still stinging and tingling from the chili oils, and I have two small burns on my arm. One from the beef splattering up at me trying to take it out of the pot, and once when I touched the top of the oven while taking the pot out of the oven. Boy, that pot is a heavy one too. But I love cast iron for muscles! Who needs a gym when you can lift heavy pots!

Anyway, it was a good cooking day! Tomorrow, I’ll probably make her some blueberry muffins, and get the tomato sauce and beef into freezer bags.

I was thinking I’d also like to make her a small batch of quinoa. We’ll see.