Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Free Greek Yogurt?

Just mentioning a cool giveaway on Danica's Daily blog.  Want to win a case of #WeightWatchers 2 #pointsplus @Yoplait Greek 100 Yogurt? Enter this #Giveaway hosted by @danicasdaily

Personal note:  Greek yogurt is excellent.  If one of my readers can get some free, that is even better!  One of my favorite snacks is some black cherry Greek yogurt with an ounce of dark chocolate chopped and an ounce of chopped walnuts added. And of course, some whipped topping is a must!

Low cal?  Not really.  Incredibly tasty and satisfying?  Oh, yeah!

The "Ps" of Long Term Success, Part 4

You've got PASSION. You made your PLAN.  And you are physically PREPARED. The next step?


Pick up your posterior and proceed toward your goal. In other words: Get going!
This logo and its associated tag line says it best.

Your goal won't come to you. It won't be any easier if you wait to start tomorrow, or next Monday, or the sixth Tuesday of next month. If you wait until "The time is right", I can predict two things:
  1. when you finally begin your weight loss journey, you will weigh more than you do now, and
  2. you probably won't start at all.
Procrastinating a difficult challenge is common. The reality is, successfully changing your life will be one of the greatest challenges you will ever face. And it can be scary! What will people say as you make progress? What will people say if you don't make progress?

It's a lot easier to stay where you are. But is that what you really want? (That question is answered by your level of PASSION for your goal.)

"If the mountain won't come to Muhammad. then Muhammad must go to the mountain." Healthy weight loss will not happen spontaneously, just as smoking cessation will not simply just "happen". You need to take specific steps to achieve your goals.

This step is pretty simple. Get started. That's all. Nothing can happen until you begin.

What are YOU waiting for?

Keep coming back for more "Ps" of success. (There will be 3 or 4 more!) And, don't worry, I will continue to post more recipes here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

BBQ Sauce, Pan Fried Chicken Thighs and Two Side Dishes

Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs, topped with Homemade Barbecue Sauce and sides of Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Cheesy Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4

8 chicken thighs (or 16 ounces chicken breast)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
Barbecue sauce (recipe follows)
Your preferred seasoning (I used Penzey's Arizona Dreaming.)
  1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Season the chicken.
  2. Saute onions and garlic until the onions begin to turn translucent (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat.
  3. In the same skillet, add the seasoned chicken. Cook on one side until it begins to brown (6-8 minutes.)
  4. Turn chicken. Layer onions over each thigh and spread the barbecue sauce evenly over each.
  5. Cook until the thighs are done (6-8 minutes.)
Nutritional data, including the sauce:
                    For 2 thighs                For 4 ounce chicken breast
Calories:         409                            157
Fat:               22.7g                           3.6g
Sat fat:            6.7g                           0.7g
Chol:             200mg                          65mg
Sodium:         191mg                        189mg
Carbs:            8.3g                            6.2g
Fiber:             1.2g                            0.9g
Protein:        42.9g                          23.7g

Barbecue Sauce (sweet style)
Makes about 1/2 cup
In a sauce pan, combine and heat to boiling:
4 ounces dark beer
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar (I used brown sugar/Splenda)
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dehydrated diced onion
1 teaspoon dehydrated diced garlic

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until thick.
Nutritional data for 2 tablespoons:
Calories:            35
Fat:                     0g
Sat fat:                0g
Chol:                  0mg
Sodium:           8.8mg
Carbs:             6.3g
Fiber:              0.5g
Protein:           0.4g

Cheesy Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4

3 heads broccoli, florets cut off into bite sized chunks
1 onions, but into 1/4 inch slices and then quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pepper (and salt, if desired) to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Place all ingredients into a 9/13 baking pan.
  3. Bake 40 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  4. Top with cheese. Put pan back in the oven until the cheese melts (about 5 minutes.)
Nutritional data:
Calories:         94
Fat:                7.2g
Sat fat:           2.2g
Chol:             7.4mg
Sodium:          65mg
Carbs:           5.4g
Fiber:            1.8g
Protein:         3.6g

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
Serves 8

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded cheese
  1. Place potatoes in small kettle, boil until the potatoes are soft. (Check with a fork. When the fork slide into the potato easily, they are done.
  2. Drain water off. With a potato masher, mash the potatoes coarsely.
  3. Add yogurt.
  4. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
  5. Top each portion with 1 tablespoon of cheese.
Nutritional data:
Calories:         148
Fat:                 2.5g
Sat fat:            1.5g
Chol:              7.4mg
Sodium:           66mg
Carbs:           24.9g
Fiber:              2.6g
Protein:           6.6g

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The "Ps" of Long Term Success, Part 3

The continuing thoughts on how to achieve long term success.


So far, you have or are developing a PASSION for your goal and you have mapped out a PLAN to achieve the goal. But isn't planning the same as preparing? They are related but not the same.  From (highlights are my own):  
Plan: a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc. developed in advance:
Prepare: to put in proper condition or readiness 
To go back to yesterday's comparison to our trip to the East coast, the plan was the mapped route, and the various stops along the way. The preparation is everything we did to be ready. Some of the basic preparations were making reservations at the bed and breakfasts and hotels in each city as well as the reservations to go fishing and whale watching. We packed our suitcases with clothing and other necessities. We packed food in a cooler, to maximize our driving efficiency and save some cost.
We also made sure that the summer classes we were teaching would be completed by our departure date. We made sure that our eldest son knew all the day to day activities needed to care for Ozzy and the garden.  We took many steps in preparation for a successful execution of our plan. And it was successful!
 What steps are necessary to be prepared for long term success, especially in weight loss? After you have your plan (primary and intermediate goals) and the specific route (calorie counting, Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast, etc), you need to prepare for success.
Do you have cookbooks?  I use many different cookbooks, but the most commonly used are my Cooking Light--Fresh Food Fast and  Cooking Light Comfort Foods. I also have a subscription to the magazines Eating Well and Food Network Magazine. However, you do not need a lot of cookbooks. Many online sources including and (and many, many more) are excellent places to look.
Do you have time to cook and maybe even add exercise? That can be the killer. I have been asked how I am able to work full time (and my wife work full time), blog, walk, lose weight, and still cook five or six nights a week? My answer, not surprisingly is, "Preparation." My wife and I are busy but we both want to eat healthy and stay at a healthy weight. I cook good meals and we eat them together when our schedule allows. After dinner, one of us will clean up the dishes and the other will assemble the lunches for the next day. And since we both try to be on the road well before 7am, we get our school clothes ready at night.
In fact (and I am incredibly lucky) Sunday afternoon, Tammy will organize an entire week's dress clothes for class. She wants me to look good and my ability to put colors together is, well, let's just say "challenged." So she organizes them for me. Like this:

That week I only had four days of class. Two pairs of pants, each paired with two different shirts. She also gives me options for my ties, usually two or three per shirt. (I can figure out which shoes and socks to wear all by myself!) 
She will do the same for her clothes, too. Working ahead of time saves even more time every morning, and makes for a more efficient day.
We put together our menu at least a week in advance. When we plan our meals, we consider the entire family's schedule so we know who will be home and eating on any given day. We shop together every Saturday, using a preprinted shopping lists to keep us on track and on budget. Sunday afternoon, while Tammy is organizing our clothes, I am preparing food for the week. I like to cook one or two dishes that are able to keep well in the fridge (soup, stew, pasta dishes.) If I have recipes that call for a lot of prepped foods (especially chopped veggies) I will prep everything, package and label it for the day I make the recipe. Sometimes I will make a meal with extra portions. That will either provide lunches or dinners as leftovers (useful on a day when we are especially busy) or I will pack them tightly, label them and freeze them for future days. Sometimes things come up and we don't have time to make a whole meal, but when we have our own home-made frozen dinners, we can eat just as fast, and far healthier, and much less expensive, than eating in a restaurant. 
Our preparation has become our routine. We no longer need to really think about these preparations. They are part of our normal daily lives. And that has made our successes more likely. Not any easier, because our journeys are anything but easy, but having a routine that includes preparation allows us to focus on the truly important activities that bring greater success.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fall Bounty

I love autumn! It truly is my favorite time of year. The air gets crisp and fresh. The leaves turn colors and then fall to the ground. The aroma of the fallen leaves immediately brings me back to my childhood when I would walk in the woods with my father, trying in vain to hunt rabbit and grouse.

I love the sight and sound of huge formations of geese flying overhead as they migrate from Canada to points far south. And the autumn season also brings a bounty of food harvest and associated feasts.

In the USA and Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated, but at slightly different times. (It's the first Monday in October for Canadians, and the third Thursday on November in the USA.) But both as a celebration of the season's harvest. And I LOVE the Thanksgiving Feast. It is my favorite holiday meal of the year.

But let's talk about one specific part of that feast.

The wonderful cranberry.

Without going into all the good health properties of the cranberry, they taste great! They are very tart and acidic, and that tartness is why they blend so well with the rich and fatty foods on the Thanksgiving table. The acid buts the heaviness of the gravies, sauces and stuffings. However, I grew up with cranberries that slid out of a can and were then cut into circles of red gel.
 Traditional in my family.

But If you want the real taste of cranberries with all their health benefits in addition to texture and great flavor, here is an exceedingly simple recipe. You can have it made in a matter of minutes. It can be served immediately, or kept in the refrigerator in a covered container. You can vary the ingredients to your taste and preferred level of sweetness.

Cranberry Relish
Serves 8

1 bag of raw cranberries, washed. (I think the bags are generally one pound)
2 medium apples, cut into quarters with the cores removed
1 orange, peeled
1/2 - 1 cup sugar (or Splenda)

Put the first three ingredients into a food processor. Process until evenly chunky. Add sweetener to taste.

Nutritional data (approximately 1/4 cup per serving):
Note: I used Splenda. If you use sugar, the calories and carbs will be accordingly higher.

Calories:    44
Fat:          0.1g
Sat fat:        0g
Chol:          0mg
Sodium:   1.1mg
Carbs:    11.6g
Fiber:          3g
Protein:     0.4g

An alternative to this recipe that I really like is to add one jalapeno.  Tart and hot!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The "Ps" of Long Term Success, Part 2

Continuing my series on how to achieve long term success.

2.  Plan

So, you have passion for your goal. Or maybe you don't. Maybe your goal is something you would like, but don't know if you can commit to it forever. In either case the next step is to make a plan.

What is your priority goal?
What are your intermediate goals?
What will be your path to reach your goals?

But you say, "I know what my goal is. I want to lose weight.  Isn't that enough?"

Not really. Think about the last time you went on vacation. Did you just pile into the car (train, bus or plane) and VOILA you were at your destination? Oh, I know people can do that. My wife and I did that once, early in our marriage. But that was just for a weekend, and we did not go far away.

No, most vacations require planning. When Tammy and I drove east earlier this year, we spent days planning potential places to stop. We knew we wanted to include Boston and Portland, Maine. Those were our priority goals. But that was the easy part. And your main goal in weight is also the easy part to plan. You pick a number and say, "I want to lose X pounds."

But we Googled a lot of different routes and other destinations en route, all through Ohio, New York, and Canada. We wanted to see what we could do on our way through the vacation. We hit our two primary goals first (four days in Boston and then two days in Portland.) Upon leaving Portland, we then planned out three intermediate stops while on our drive home to Green Bay.  And at those three destinations, we had fun, explored new regions (and drank a LOT of wine.) We had fun at our intermediate goals. This applies to your weight loss plan, especially if you have a large number as your primary goal. You should set intermediate goal while always working towards your final destination. And then, success you reach each of those steps to success, you should celebrate! Have fun while making progress!

Finally, we had a set path to our destinations. We not only printed out Google Maps directions, we also bought a GPS unit. That was our predetermined map to success. Did we stay on track? No, not completely. There were a few times when we deviated from the plan by taking a detour that was not planned due to road construction. But even though we were not following our exact plan, we were still driving towards our intended destinations.

You need to make a route to your weight-loss goal, but in this case, "a route" is all about what you will do. Will you eat low carb? Will you eat no wheat? Will you do a program that provides you prepared meals? Will you join Weight Watchers? Will you simply count calories? Will you join a gym, or run, or do P90X, or yoga? Those are all aspects of your route to success.

And like our vacation, you will also have detours. Maybe you will get ill. Maybe you will have surgery. Maybe the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years trifecta of parties will result in a weight gain. Those are all temporary disruptions to your short term plan, but they will not--should not--cause you to stop your journey. (If we stopped our journey due to a detour, we'd still be in Ohio, continuing to drink wine!)

You need to find your PASSION (what do you really need?) and then sit down and carefully make a PLAN (how will you get want you really need?)

Come back tomorrow for step three!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The "Ps" of Long Term Success, part 1

This is going to be a series of posts about how to find success, primarily in weight loss, but I believe that these ideas will be universal in application. These tips really do apply to everyone (it's just that not everyone will apply them.)


No, not that passion. I mean, what do you really want? What is most important to you? What is all-consuming in your life? What do you most enjoy?

It is very hard to complete a project if your heart is not into it. Think about an assignment in school or a project at work that you've had. Maybe it was in a class you didn't like, or the project was something that you believed to be useless.

Oh, I'm sure you submitted the assignment or completed the project. We always try to finish what is required of us. But what was your end result? Were the results satisfying to you, to your teacher or manager? Were you proud of your accomplishment?

The chances are that while you finished the work, you either did the bare minimum or cut corners to save time and get the "stupid thing" off your "to-do" list.

How does this apply towards weight management? Isn't everyone obviously passionate about losing weight? Sure, most people really want to lose weight. But most people do not have the inner drive, the absolute hunger (well, generally we all experience hunger!) for success. It takes that level of commitment to complete a difficult and long term goal. And successful weight loss is a long term goal--a life long change. It is not a quick fix for a problem, but a permanent modification. And that long term reality is what cause most people's problems. They want to lose 10 pounds for their vacation, but that need is not great enough, not powerful enough to carry them through to lasting success.

I said that most people don't possess that passion, and without that passion success is unlikely. Am I suggesting that everyone who reads this is doomed to fail? Not really. Passion, drive and commitment can be learned. It is not a genetic thing, but a learned reality. And just like anything else, it will not come easily, but anything worthwhile will rarely be easy.

But it is almost always worth it. So, how do you gain passion?

Come back tomorrow for the next "P" of success.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Asian Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs

Asian Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs
Serves ?  (Depends on how many racks you prepare. Plan one per person.)

I made this with a pressure cooker. It cooks faster and creates tender meat. You could do this in the oven by roasting with same liquid, but it will take 2+ hours.

4 racks of beef short ribs
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
2 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon Hoisin sauce
8 ounces beer (a lager is best--try Tsing Tao, Kirin or Sapporo)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
  1. In the pressure cooker, heat the oil.  Season meat.
  2.  Brown on both side. Remove the cooker, set aside.
  3. Add garlic and ginger to the residual juices, turn the heat to med-high and cook until they get fragrant (1 minute.)
  4. Add all remaining ingredients. Stir to dissolve. Add meat. Seal and cook 20 minutes according to your pressure cooker's directions.
  5. After 20 minutes, let the pressure drop naturally.
  6. If you want, you can take the braising liquid and cook it down (reducing it by half or more) to make a think sauce.  (I didn't do that.)
I served this with jasmine rice and sesame grilled broccoli. (I drizzled toasted sesame oil over broccoli spears and then grilled them over a hot grill until they were hot and beginning to get some dark brown color.

Nutritional data for one rack of ribs:
Calories:        339
Fat:              20.6g
Sat fat:           8.8g
Chol:         105.4mg
Sodium:     165.8mg
Carbs:           1.3g
Fiber:               0g
Protein:       34.9g

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pork Schnitzel with Sauteed Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts

Pork Schnitzel with Sauteed Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
Serve 6

This is ridiculously easy to make.

24 ounces boneless pork chops (thin-sliced if possible)
1 egg white
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Seasoning of your choice (I used 1/2 teaspoon of Penzy's Krakow Nights, one of the rare salted seasoning blends that I use.)
  1. Separate egg, placing white in a bowl large enough to hold a pork chop.
  2. Mix seasoning with panko in a shallow dish.
  3. Dip pork chops in egg white.  Dredge through seasoned crumbs.
  4. Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-high.  Place chops in skillet, turning when then begin to turn golden brown (4-5 minutes).
  5. Serve on the sauteed cabbage and Brussels sprouts. (I topped mine with a teaspoon of sweet and coarse German mustard.)
Nutritional data:
Calories:        286
Fat:              15.6g
Sat fat:           5.3g
Chol:              94mg
Sodium:       187mg
Carbs:           3.2g
Fiber:            0.2g
Protein:       30.6g

Sauteed Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
Serves 6

1 tablespoon bacon grease (the fat from 3-4 slices)  Other oil can be substituted if you prefer.
1 cup onion, diced
3 cups shredded cabbage (I used red. You can use green if preferred.)
3 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 ounces beer (optional, but I used it.)
  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat.  Add bacon grease.
  2. When melted, add onions.
  3. Saute until they just begin to get translucent (3-4 minutes).
  4. Add cabbage and Brussels sprouts.  Toss together.
  5. Mix beer, vinegar and sugar together in a bowl until sugar dissolves. Add to cabbage/Brussels sprouts.
  6. Continue to cook, tossing occasionally. The goal is to heat them without frying them.
  7. Optional:  top each serving with crumbled bacon. I didn't do that because my son ate the bacon while I was out of the kitchen at one point.
Nutritional data (about 1 cup):
Calories:        119
Fat:                3.6g
Sat fat:           1.3g
Chol:                3mg
Sodium:          43mg
Carbs:         18.2g
Fiber:            4.6g
Protein:         3.7g

Of course, serve all this with a good German beer!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Regardless of your political leaning, it is cool to be a parent of one of the members of the Green Bay West drumline, who was asked to perform pre-rally music before President Clinton took the stage to speak in Green Bay last Friday night.

Sorry about the shake. I took this on my phone. Ethan is the snare dummer on the right, with the red hair.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dublin Lawyer (my version)

Dublin Lawyer
Serves 4

2 tablespoons butter
2 cans crab (or 8 ounces crab meat)
12 ounces cooked shrimp
1/4 cup whiskey
1 cup minced shallot (about 4 large)
1/4 cup half and half
1/4 plain Greek yogurt
Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
  1. Melt the butter in a large (10") non-stick sauce pan.
  2. Saute shallots until they become soft.
  3. Add the cooked shrimp and crab meat. Stir together of medium-high heat.
  4. Add whiskey. Turn heat in high, and CAREFULLY flame the dish.  (This burns off the alcohol and concentrates the flavors.
  5. Stir in half and half and yogurt.  Stir until well mixed.
  6. Season to taste.
Nutritional data:
Calories:        199
Fat:                8.3g
Sat fat:           4.7g
Chol:          127.8mg
Sodium:     703.7mg
Carbs:           8.1g
Fiber:                0g
Protein:        22.8g

Note: I don't have access to fresh crab. I used canned crab, which increased the sodium content. But the dish was still really tasty and a nice change of pace.  Also, traditionally is only uses crab, but I had shrimp on hand so I used that in addition to the crab.  It worked.

Carrots in Beer and Dill
Serves 4

1 pound bag of baby carrots
1 cup of beer
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon dried dill
  1. Cut the carrots in half the long way.
  2. Place carrots in a non-stick saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Add beer. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat.
  4. Stir occasionally.
  5. If the beer evaporates, add a little more. (It probably won't need more.)
  6. Just before serving, add a teaspoon butter and dill.  Toss to coat and serve.
Nutritional data:
Calories:         61
Fat:                   1g
Sat fat:           0.6g
Chol:             2.5mg
Sodium:       32.5mg
Carbs:           8.1g
Fiber:            1.3g
Protein:         0.9g

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Broiled Egg-Stuffed Avocado

I am always fascinated about the foods people prefer which is why I ask my final three questions of my interview guests on my podcast, Make Your Someday Today. Everyone has such interested preferences.

If I interviewed all of the readers of this blog, this would be a common favorite. This post is the most viewed food post on the entire blog. Amazing! (And this recipe is so simple and delicious!)

Broiled Egg-Stuffed Avocado
Serves two as a side dish, or one as a meal
1 avocado, cut in half and seeded
2 eggs, separated
Hot sauce (your preference)
1 ounce cheese

Place the top rack in your oven to the highest level. Turn broiler on "high".

Choose a ripe avocado. (An avocado is ripe when the stem end yields under gentle pressure from your thumb. The skin will also be a dark brown, near-black.

Slice the avocado in half (through he poles and not around the equator) and remove the seed. The seed will be easily removed by chopping your knife partway into the seed and then giving it a twist.

Score the avocado through the meat but not through the skin, to allow the hot sauce to seep in.

Sprinkle the hot sauce on the avocado.
Fill the hole where the seed was with an egg yolk. If there is extra room, add some of the egg white.

Place on top rack under the broiler for 3 minutes.

Place cheese on top, and return to broiler until the cheese melts 1-2 minutes.


It was so awesomely delicious! The yolk was perfect (almost like a soft boiled egg.)

Nutritional data (for one piece):
Calories:         219
Fat:                  19g
Sat fat:            5.3g
Chol:             222mg
Sodium:           46mg
Carbs:            7.2g
Fiber:             4.6g
Protein:             8g

Make Your Someday Today is a twice-weekly podcast, where we talk to successful people in all walks of life and around the world on Monday, and then on Thursday, I take a specific message from the previous guest and give my "Trevitorial", where I help you apply that message to your life. The entire purpose of the show is to help all of us overcome our challenges and fears and become the person we want to be, the person we deserve to be.

Monday, October 15, 2012

How Do They Do It? How Do We Do It?

I was listening to a book written and read by Charles Kuralt, Charles Kuralt's America. (He has such a wonderful speaking voice.) And one of his essays was talking about the daffodil variety that was named for him. But before he got to that portion of the essay, he talked about the monarch butterfly.

The monarch butterfly spends winters in the forests of southern California and Mexico. They are the only insect to migrate 2500 miles every year. (Much more fascinating information is here.) In spring, they migrate en masse 2500 miles north, flying as far as Canada. They mate. And then they die.

But the remarkable thing is their offspring hatch and become caterpillars. The caterpillars eat milkweed and eventually form a chrysalis. Later, they emerge as a monarch butterfly and then migrate the thousands of miles south, to the same forest, and the same trees that hosted the parents.

How do the new generation of butterflies know where to fly? Which forest is "theirs"? I mean, salmon in the Pacific northwest at least are hatched in the streams and rivers before they swim out the to ocean to grow into adulthood before swimming back to the same stream. The salmon are returning to their place of origin.

Monarchs don't return to anyplace. They fly to a new place for the first time. And I'm pretty sure they don't have access to an iPhone5. How do they get to some place they have never been? How do they know when their journey is finished?

Many of us are on a similar journey. We are migrating to a place that we might possibly have seen only once, on our way up to greater weights. As we got older, we also got larger, but like the adult monarch we finally noticed a need, an urge, a mandate to go back.

How do we get there? The monarch flies in a flock of millions of butterflies, all moving towards the same destination. We can copy that idea, by finding fellow travelers. Myself, I have many friends on LoseIt that are supportive of me and each other as we all find our eventual resting place. Others may use Weight Watchers, or Jenny Craig, or Nutrisystem. You might find another online service such as MyFitnessPal. Maybe you will find a coach at a gym. Maybe you attend Overeaters Anonymous. (If that is you, you don't have to identify yourself here.) Regardless of the actual vehicle you choose, the path is the same. You find people with a similar goal and you fly together.

The butterflies don't fly thousands of miles without stopping. We won't lose weight without pauses. That is normal. But just as the butterfly will continue flying after a brief rest, we need to continue on our journey without excessive lingering. Our destination will not come to us. We need to go to it.

How do we know when we arrive? Probably we have all set a "final number" as our goal. When we achieve it, we have arrived, right? Well, yes. But it is important not to assume that "arrival" is the same as "finished." (This is where my butterfly analogy breaks down.) Butterflies are able to simply hang out for a few months in a tree before flying back. We can't just hang out for a while. We need to keep on doing what we did to get to our goal. If we exercised our way to a new weight, then continued exercise will be needed (at least at some level) to prevent regression. Calorie counting will require continued counting (or at least monitoring at some level) to ensure the bathroom scale does not start to show bigger numbers.

Alternatively, we could continue to set new goals. Upon reaching a weight goal, maybe we could set a physical strength goal or a speed goal (running or swimming.) Maybe work on body fat percentage, or running/biking endurance. After I reached my goal, I set a new goal of running a 10K race. Bad knees prevented me from running it, but my wife and I walked it instead.

Become a butterfly. (Oh, I guess the butterfly metaphor isn't finished.) Do what you need to do to transform into your new shape. 

Note: One of the other blogs that I follow is running a contest for a Keurig Mini-Plus brewing system. Since I love a) coffee and b) free things, I entered it on Danica's Daily blog. She also has good information on her blog. It is worth reading (after reading mine, first!) 

Friday, October 12, 2012

If You Have a Pet ...

Just a quick note here.

Last night, Ozzy was not acting normally. (And if you have a pet, or your child is a toddler, you know how it is when they are "not right.") It was almost midnight. Our options were to wait it out, or to take him to the Pet ER.

Then Tammy suggested that I Google his symptoms. I didn't find much. But then I found a website service that connected you to professionals in real time. It was and I was connected to a small animal vet from Hawaii.

Awesome! After a couple emails back and forth, he suggested that we treat Ozzy with Pepcid or Tagamet and see what happens. And by the morning he seemed to be better, and when I got home from work this afternoon he was back to his normal self. It was EXCELLENT service!

Yes, there was a fee, but seriously, the $18.00 that it cost was probably 5% of what the ER would have charged. And working with Dr. Michael Salkin allowed us to feel better and sleep better. Sure, ideally we would have taken him to his regular vet, but that isn't possible at midnight. This was a great service!

Our Ozzy

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Easy Guacamole

Easy Guacamole
Makes about 2 cups

2 ripe avocados
The juice of 1 lime
1 clove garlic, mashed and minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced onion (or 1 teaspoon dried minced onion)
Cumin and black pepper to taste

  1. Avocados are ripe when the stem end is soft when gently pressed with your thumb.
  2. Slice avocados with a sharp knife. Use the knife to pop out the seed. Use a spoon to scoop the meat out of the shell.
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Mash together. Cover in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Use within 1-2 days. Air will cause it to turn brown, but that does not change the nutritional values (just the color.)
Nutritional data (for approximately 4 tablespoon):
Calories:        57
Fat:              5.2g
Sat fat:         0.7g
Chol:              0mg
Sodium:       2.7mg
Carbs:          2.9g
Fiber:           2.3g
Protein:        0.7g

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup
Serve 4
2 ounces (dry) mushroom blend. I used a blend of porcini, shiitake, oyster and black mushrooms.
8 ounces fresh white button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 Vidalia onions, diced
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Rehydrate mushrooms with one quart boiling water. Let set for 30 minutes or more.
  2. In a 2-3 quart non-stick sauce pan, preheat over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil.
  3. Place onions in pan. Cook until beginning to get translucent.
  4. Add garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  5. In the same pan, add remaining oil.
  6. Add white button mushrooms.  Cook until they are beginning to get soft.
  7. Drain rehydrated mushrooms. SAVE THE JUICE! Squeeze the mushrooms to get them as dry as possible. Add to button mushrooms.
  8. Cook mushrooms until they are about half their volume (10 minutes).
  9. Return onions to mushrooms.
  10. Measure and add mushroom water to pan. (There should be about 2 cups)
  11. Add wine.  Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Bring to a boil.
  13. While the broth returns to a boil, make the roux.
  14. When the broth boils, stir in the roux. Simmer until the desired thickness.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup skim milk
  1. Melt butter in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in flour to make a paste.
  3. Add Greek yogurt, stir until well mixed.
  4. Add milk. Stir until smooth. Return to heat over low-medium, just to get it warm.
Nutritional data:
Calories:         253
Fat:               14.4g   
Sat fat:               7g
Chol:               28mg
Sodium:           46mg
Carbs:           18.5g
Fiber:              2.8g
Protein:         10.1g

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chocolate-Pumpkin Torte

Chocolate-Pumpkin Torte
Serves 8

This makes a dense brownie-like cake, very moist and richly chocolate. I topped this picture with melted Nutella, but I also have topped it with melted peanut butter, caramel sauce, or bittersweet chocolate. A raspberry or strawberry sauce would also be really good on top.

There is very little pumpkin flavor. I think I noticed it only because I knew that it was in the batter.

I used Splenda to greatly reduce the calories. If you prefer to use sugar, then you will just have more calories to calculate, but the recipe will otherwise be the same technique.

1 cup flour
4 eggs (separate three and reserve all)
1.5 cups Splenda, divided (or the same amount of sugar)
1 cup mashed pumpkin (canned is okay, make sure it is 100% pumpkin)
1/2 cup cocoa
8 teaspoons Nutella (optional topping, but I added those calories to the nutritional data below.)

(Special equipment needed:  springform pan and cooling rack.  See my comment at the end about alternate equipment.)
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Combine flour, cocoa and 1 cup of Splenda in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in pumpkin until evenly mixed.
  4. With an electric mixer, add one whole egg and all yolks.
  5. Clean the beaters completely.
  6. In a separate bowl, place egg whites. Mix with electric mixer, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form.
  7. Add remaining 1/2 cup Splenda, beating until the egg whites are shiny and begin to hold firm peaks.
  8. Spray springform pan with cooking spray.
  9. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the pumpkin-cocoa mixture. Gently fold until thoroughly mixed. Add remaining egg whites, folding together gently until well incorporated.
  10. Pour batter into springform pan
  11. Bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Remove collar and cool completely on a cooling rack.
  13. When cool, cut into eight pieces.
  14. Melt the Nutella, and drizzle about 1 teaspoon on each piece. Dress with a bit of whipped topping (if desired.)
Nutritional data:
Calories:        140
Fat:                 6g
Sat fat:          2.4g
Chol:           105mg
Sodium:         36mg
Carbs:         19.4g
Fiber:           4.3g
Protein:        6.9g

If you do not have a springform pan (and if you don't know what it is, then you don't have one) here is an alternate method. Take a 9" pie tin and line it with aluminum foil. You will probably need the extra wide foil. Press the foil down so that it conforms to the shape of the tin and then spray it with cooking spray. When you are done baking, you just pick up the foil by the edges and then set it on the cooling rack.

Also, if you prefer to not use canned pumpkin, you can use an equal amount of cooked squash or cooked sweet potato.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Panko Breaded Chicken with Bourbon-Pecan Butter Sauce

Panko Breaded Chicken with Bourbon-Pecan Butter Sauce, served on Garlicky Sauteed Spinach Serves 4

20 ounces chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken breasts)
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Seasoning of your choice (I used Penzy's Sunny Spain.)
  1. Cut breasts into one inch wide strips.
  2. Separate the egg. Throw away the yolk. Add water. Whisk together.
  3. Place panko crumbs in a shallow dish. Season to taste
  4. Dip breasts in egg wash. Dredge in crumbs on both sides, and set aside.
  5. Preheat large (10" or larger) non-stick pan. Add oil.
  6. When the oil is hot, carefully lay the chicken in the pan. Let cook until browned, then turn.
  7. Total cooking time will be 6-10 minutes.
  8. Removed from heat and cover the keep warm.
Nutritional data (5 ounces of chicken only):
Calories:        129
Fat:                0.6g
Sat fat:              0g
Chol:               70mg
Sodium:         147mg
Carbs:            4.8g
Fiber:             0.2g
Protein:        23.6g

Sauce (can be made while the chicken cooks):
1 ounce pecans, crushed
2 ounces (1/4 cup) bourbon (or your favorite whiskey)
1 ounce chicken broth
1 tablespoon butter (unsalted)
  1. Place pecans in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Toss frequently until getting hot and fragrant (2-3 minutes).  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Place bourbon and chicken broth in sauce pan. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add butter. Stir until melted.
  4. Stir in pecans.
Nutritional data (1 tablespoon sauce):
Calories:        108
Fat:                8.1g
Sat fat:           2.3g
Chol:             7.6mg
Sodium:         3.1mg
Carbs:              1g
Fiber:            0.7g
Protein:         0.8g

Garlicky Sauteed Spinach:
Serves 2
1 bag (9 ounce) baby spinach
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. In the same large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. When the oil is hot, add sliced garlic.  Toss for one minute.
  3. Place fresh spinach in pan.
  4. Toss repeatedly, until the spinach wilts.
Nutritional data:
Calories:         83
Fat:               5.3g
Sat fat:          0.8g
Chol:               0mg
Sodium:       120mg
Carbs:           7.4g
Fiber:            3.4g
Protein:         4.7g

Place spinach on the plate. Top with 5 ounces (three strips) on the spinach. Drizzle 1 tablespoon sauce over the chicken.

An alternative to the above uses tilapia fillets. Instead of 20 ounces of chicken, use 16 ounces of tilapia (four fillets). Prepare the meal as above.

Panko-Breaded Tilapia

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Beef Stew and Cheddar-Chive Biscuits

Beef Stew
Serves 2 (1.5 cup portions)

2 pounds beef, cubed into 1/2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2-4 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
4 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoon water
16 ounce beer (your preferred type, darker is better in this)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup low sodium beef (or chicken or vegetable) broth (I used home made broth, with no added salt.)
1 bag (16 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 cup shredded carrots (optional, but I used them)
Salt and pepper to taste (I used no salt when I made this)

  1. Heat non-stick Dutch oven or other large kettle over medium-high heat. Add oil.
  2. When oil is hot, add beef cubes. Season with salt/pepper.  Brown on all sides.
  3. While the beef is cooking, mix together the flour and water to make a thin paste.
  4. Add flour paste to a mixing bowl, and stir in tomato paste.  Stir until well-mixed.
  5. Stir in broth and beer.  Use a large bowl or the beer will foam over and make a mess.
  6. Remove beef from heat, and keep warm.
  7. In the beef cooking juices, add onion and saute over medium-high heat until beginning to turn translucent.  Add garlic and cook for one minute.
  8. Return beef to pot. Add all vegetables (they can still be frozen) and the beer/broth mix.
  9. Bring to a boil.
  10. Reduce heat to low.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how thick you want the gravy
Nutritional Data:
Calories:    312
Fat:          13.3g
Sat fat:       5.2g
Chol:          80mg
Sodium:      89mg
Carbs:      16.7g
Fiber:         2.3g
Protein:    25.4g

Cheddar-Chive Drop Biscuits
Serves 6 (2 biscuits per portion)

1 cup all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
0.5 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cold butter
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Combine all three dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Cut the butter into small cubes.  Add to flour.
  4. Using your fingers, pick up the butter cubes and mash them into the flour, until there are no noticeable butter lumps.  This will only take a few minutes.
  5. Add yogurt and chives. Stir until partially mixed. 
  6. Add cheese. Stir until well mixed and forms a sticky ball.
  7. Turn out on a floured surface. Sprinkle lightly with flout and kneed/fold 10 times.
  8. Grease a baking sheet.
  9. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet.  You will get about 12 biscuits.  When baked, they will be about 2 inches in diameter.
  10. Bake 7-9 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Nutritional Data: (2 biscuits)
Calories:    143
Fat:            5.6g
Sat fat:       3.5g
Chol:          150mg
Sodium:    239mg
Carbs:      16.9g
Fiber:         0.6g
Protein:      5.9g

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Day of Food

As the request of several Lose It friends (particularly Natalie!) here is a look at what I ate on Thursday, September 27. This was a busy day. I gave Ozzy a two mile walk in the early morning. Then I had office hours on campus in the morning and a three hour lecture in the afternoon. Then I drove home, quickly walked Ozzy for a mile, picked up Tammy at school and went to watch Ethan and the soccer team play out of town.

All that activity means that my only meal eaten at a calm pace was my "first" breakfast. Like Hobbits, I like approximately seven meals a day: breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper. Except I call mine: first breakfast, driving breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, evening meal, evening snack. It works for me.

I didn't get all seven meals in on Thursday, but I did pretty good, and I ate almost all my calories.

Breakfast, at about 5:30am. My "Easy Breakfast" but instead of 1/4 cup of fruit, I added 1/4 cup crushed walnuts, 1 ounce dark chocolate and 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut. Not a small breakfast at 563 calories, but it got my day off to a great tasting start. 

Second breakfast, or as I call it, "Driving Breakfast."  At 10:00am, I drove to school and ate two mini whole wheat bagels, topped with 2 eggs, 1/2 a mashed avocado, and 2 tablespoons crunchy almond butter. I grilled the bagels in the pan after frying the eggs by dipping them in the olive oil,letting them absorb some and then frying the eggs in the rest. I used a full tablespoon olive oil.  787 calories.

While I was at home, between the first breakfast and the driving breakfast, I had a mug of coffee (22 ounce mug) flavored with 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses and 4 tablespoons half-and-half.  150 calories.

Mid-afternoon snack, an ounce of salt-and-pepper cashews and an ounce of 70% cocoa dark chocolate. (This is the Aldi brand of chocolate and has become my favorite.)  315 calories, and sustained me as a facilitated a three hour lecture on Communication and Collaboration.

Dinner at the stadium.  Fresh veggies, a Pink Lady apple, four tablespoons homemade hummus (in the first picture) and a sandwich thin, four ounces of pulled pork and one tablespoon KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce.  521 calories.

After returning home from the soccer match, I needed a snack with calories but not a lot of bulk.
I went with two ounces of dry roasted, unsalted almonds and another ounce of 70% cocoa dark chocolate. (I buy all my nuts and chocolates from Aldi.) And yes, I eat 2-3 ounces of dark chocolate on most days, along with 1-3 ounces of various nuts. That is how I am able to keep my fat intake as high as 50% of my daily calories. 515 calories.

Thursday's total intake was about 2800 calories, and I was still 189 short (based on the step count recorded by my Fitbit.) Contrary to comments that I have read on my LoseIt home page, I don't eat "gourmet" foods. I just eat good food.

The total nutrition numbers for the day:

Fat:         178.6g   56%
Sat fat:      43.5g
Chol:         761mg
Sodium:   1497mg
Carbs:     199.5g   28%
Fiber:        48.6g
Protein:   120.1g   17%

This was a school day, and a busy one at that, when you add in the soccer match in the evening. Next I will also post what I ate on Sunday, when I was able to stay at home and relax. (And do school work.)