Friday, November 30, 2012

The "Ps" of Long Term Success, the Final Piece of the Puzzle AND my FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY!

You've got PASSION, are PLANNED and PREPARED. You've PROCEEDED towards your goal with PERSISTENCE and you PAY ATTENTION with PATIENCE.

You have a PASSION for your goal, and have a well-defined PLAN and are PREPARED. You PROCEEDED on your path, with PERSISTENCE and are PAY ATTENTION with deep PATIENCE.

What's left?


This time of year is a challenge. Thanksgiving feasts. Neighborhood parties. Holiday parties at the office. Christmas and New Years. The food is never ending. And it is all soooo good!

And in parts of the country and world, the weather begins to turn nasty. It gets cold. Blustery. Snowy. Night comes earlier than we want, and our commitment to before- and after-work activity diminishes. We start to get more enthusiastic about sitting in our recliner than taking that extra walk.

And you know what happens then.

The scale creeps upward. And that is so frustrating. You get angry at yourself for "losing willpower." You feel as though you "failed."

Pardon yourself. Forgive yourself for your slips. We are all human. No one is perfect and can show daily losses on the scale. We are not machines. So go easy on yourself. Remind yourself that every day is another day and each time you eat, you have another chance to make a good decision. Eating to excess on one day should not trigger a bad choice the next day.

If you are using LoseIt, or Weight Watchers, you are given a set budget, either calories or points. Maybe during this time of year, you might be better off to temporarily stop your quest for losses and increase your budget to your maintenance level so that you don't lose, but also don't  gain. That may give you enough of a budget so that you can avoid the self-recriminations for overeating during the holiday season. But don't stop logging what you eat. And don't stop getting on the scale. Logging provides accountability and the scale gives one form of feedback.

Taking a break is not quitting. If you follow NASCAR, you know that at some point every driver pulls out of the race and goes into the pit. Sometimes it is for gas, sometimes for tires.  But whatever the reason, it is all to help the driver succeed. Even though he/she takes a brief break and falls behind some of the other drivers, he/she knows that without that pause, the risk of catastrophic failure is greater. Pulling into pit row is not quitting. It is part of the plan, and prevent future problems. What would happen to the driver of a car who decides to push it, "just one more lap" on bad tires? A blown tire would end his/her race.

If you are excessively challenged, and everyday find yourself exceeding your budget by a little, maybe you need to drive into your pit row. Give yourself permission to take a short break. Make the conscious choice to stop and recharge yourself. Losing weight is hard work, physically, mentally and emotionally. A brief respite now might give you more energy after the new year to make a hard drive to the checkered flag.

(No. I really don't follow racing. I just know some of the terms.)

Now, for the GIVEAWAY!

One of my favorite periodicals is Eating Well. It has great recipes that are healthy and delicious, as well as easy to make. My subscription is up for renewal and I have the opportunity to give a free one year subscription. I will give it to one of my readers.

To enter:
1.  Respond to this blog post, and tell me which of my recipes that you have made at home is your favorite. (If you haven't made one yet, which will be the first you want to try.)
2.  If you are on Twitter, make a Tweet about this contest, such as: "Eating Well has great recipes, and you can win a subscription here" and then tell me here that you tweeted the link.
3.  If you have your own blog, mention the contest on a post with this address and add your blog address here for everyone else to see.

Each of those actions will be another entry.

I will announce the winner on Monday, December 3, 2012

You can start the New Year (or whenever they start the subscription) with a great magazine, full of new ideas for healthy and delicious food.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Welcome to All My New Followers!

Just a quick post right now. I want to welcome my new followers and thank all the others who have been following me for months. I hope that you find this blog has useful information for you. I try to right the same way I think: slightly humorous (in my mind), honest and to the point, and hopefully with interesting subject matter.

My recipes tend toward the relatively simple variety, that are also delicious and generally healthy. Not all my recipes will be strictly "diet" recipes, but my belief is that anything can be eaten, in the correct portion size (food allergies excepted, of course.)

I have used that approach to bring me to my goal weight, and stay there for more than 11 months now. It works.

Come back soon and often. Check out all the recipes (there are 100+ as of now, and I try to add 2 or 3 a week.) Also, on Friday I will announce my first ever giveaway! (It will cost nothing to enter!) Check back tomorrow for details!

Have you tried the soups yet? If you don't have any leftover turkey, go to your local grocery store or deli and get a rotisserie chicken. That will work just as well. With the dumpling soup, don't be stingy with the seasonings. The broth and dumplings seem to absorb the flavors of the soup. Add them during the cooking and taste often, adding more as needed.

Talk to you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Turkey Dumpling Soup

Turkey Dumpling Soup
Serves 4

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced thinly
1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
16 ounces (2 cups) reduced sodium chicken stock
12 (1.5 cups) ounces water
4 ounces (0.5 cup) white wine
8 ounces shredded, cooked turkey (or chicken)
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup cottage cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon seasoning (I used Penzey's Sunny Paris. Alternative combinations could be tarragon and thyme, onion and garlic powder, or sage and celery seed)
  1. In a medium to large sauce pan (3-4 quart), heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery. Saute until the onion begins to turn translucent.
  2. Add garlic. Saute another minute.
  3. Add stock, wine, cooked turkey and sage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat (medium-low, but not to a low simmer) to a low boil for 15 minutes.
  4. While you wait for the soup to boil, mix together dumpling ingredients.
  5. After 15 minutes, increase the heat to medium-high.
  6. Using a soup spoon or tablespoon, drop dumpling batter into the soup by the spoonfuls. Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and let the dumplings cook for 15 minutes. They are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Nutritional data (approximately 1.5 cups soup and 2-3 dumplings)
Calories:    192
Fat:             3.9g
Sat fat:        1.2g
Chol:            97mg
Sodium:     190mg
Carbs:        19.1g
Fiber:           1.9g
Protein:     17.9g

Creamy Turkey, Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Creamy Turkey, Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
Serve 4

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup shredded carrot
Seasoning (your preference--I used Penzey's Sunny Paris.)
1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock (I used homemade, no salt added chicken stock)
1/2 cup white wine
8 ounces shredded cooked turkey (or chicken)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat a 10" non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Add olive oil.
  2. Sautee onions until beginning to soften and turn translucent.
  3. Add mushrooms. Let them cook, undisturbed for 2 minutes, then stir together.
  4. Add garlic and carrot.
  5. While the mushrooms are cooking, melted the butter in a small saucepan. Add flour to form a roux.
  6. Add milk, and stir over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Remove from heat.
  7. Add shredded turkey to mushrooms.
  8. Add stock and wine. Bring to a boil.
  9. Stir in the roux. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. As it cooks it will thicken.
Nutritional data:
Calories:       222
Fat:                7.7g
Sat fat:           4.3g
Chol:              46mg
Sodium:         54mg
Carbs:         16.5g
Fiber:            1.5g
Protein:      16.4g

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ginger Broccoli Pork Stir Fry

Ginger Broccoli Pork Stir Fry
Serves 6
3 cups fresh (or frozen) broccoli
24 ounces pork, sliced into 1" x 1/2" strips
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
10 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together in a small bowl:
4 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon water
  1. Heat a non-stick skillet (10") over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  2. When the oil is hot, carefully add pork slices. Brown on all sides. When browned, remove from skillet, cover and keep warm
  3. Add remaining teaspoon olive oil to the pan.
  4. Add onions. Saute until the just begin to turn translucent.
  5. Turn heat to medium. Add mushrooms, and let them cook, undisturbed for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Stir onions and mushrooms together. Add garlic and ginger.  Mix together.
  7. Meanwhile, heat broccoli in a microwave until hot and still crisp.
  8. Add broccoli and pork to skillet.
  9. Pour sauce into skillet. Stir to coat. Serve when combined and hot.
Nutritional data:
Calories:      330
Fat:              14.1g
Sat fat:           4.3g
Chol:          96.3mg
Sodium:      112mg
Carbs:        16.4g
Fiber:              2g
Protein:     36.2g

Friday, November 23, 2012

I Will Return...


I ate well yesterday, and currently I am still in a borderline post-feast coma. When I fully recover, I will post the pictures of the feast and will post the LAST "P" of long term success!

And this "P" is probably going to be needed by some (most?) of the readers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Bourbon Pecan Pie
Serves 12 (small pieces of a rich pie)

1 pie crust (this recipe assumes a store bought crust)
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon molasses
1.5 ounces bourbon
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a glass 9" pie plate with the pie crust dough. Fold and pinch overhang to form a nice decorative crust.

  2. Line pie shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill with dried beans or rice, and bake 15 minutes

  3. Remove foil and beans, bake another 5-10 minutes, until golden brown.

  4. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. Coarsely chop 3/4 cup pecans.

  6. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, syrup, sugar, butter, vanilla, eggs and bourbon until blended. Stir in all pecans (chopped and halves.)

  7. Pour filling into crust.

  8. Bake 45-50 minutes, until the edges are set, but the center is still a little jiggly. Using an aluminum shield (or aluminum foil) will prevent excess browning of the crust.)
  9. Cool on a wire rack completely.
  10. Serve with whipped cream
Nutritional data:
Calories:     279
Fat:           16.3g
Sat fat:           5g
Chol:        66.4mg
Sodium:  125.2mg
Carbs:      31.5g
Fiber:         0.9g
Protein:      2.8g

Turkey Gravy

Turkey Gravy
Serves:12 (1/4 cup portions)

2 cup pan drippings, with as much floating grease removed as possible
1 cup hot water
Salt and pepper as needed to taste
  1. Combine equal parts flour and melted butter together (roux). Start with 1/4 cup butter and flour. It's easy to make more if needed.
  2. Bring the pan drippings and water to a boil.
  3. When boiling whisk in small amounts of roux until you get the consistency that you desire. The gravy will continue to thicken as it cools on the table.
  4. Using a roux and whisking while adding the roux to the boiling liquids will reduce or eliminate lumps.
  5. You can add finely minced cooked turkey liver for more flavor. Alternatively, you can also replace some water with beer or wine.
Nutritional data (approximate, will vary with the consistency of the pan drippings):
Calories:      82
Fat:            8.2g
Sat fat:       4.1g
Chol:       14.2mg
Sodium:    5.6mg
Carbs:      1.9g
Fiber:       0.3g
Protein:     0.5g

Basic Poultry Stuffing/Dressing

Basic Poultry Stuffing
Serves: 12

18 slices bread, toasted and cubed (Healthy Life brand, Whole Wheat)
2 tablespoon olive oil
Seasoning as desired
2 large onions, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 strips of bacon
Chicken stock
  1. Either purchase bread cubes or make your own. I laid out 18 slices of bread, brushed one surface with olive oil, and seasoned the bread with sage, onion powder, garlic powder and ground celery seed.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F. Lay prepared bread on baking sheets (or directly on the grates.)
  3. Bake until beginning to brown (8-10 minutes.)

  4. Dice into 1/4 inch cubes.
  5. Fry bacon until crumbly. Crumble and set aside.
  6. Measure out 2 tablespoons bacon grease. Saute onion and celery over medium heat until the onions caramelize and the celery softens (10-15 minutes.)
  7. Add garlic, sage and pepper in the last minute of cooking the onion and celery.
  8. In three quart oven-safe dish, add half the onions-celery and bread cubes. Stir to mix, and add chicken stock to moisten, but not soak.
  9. Add remaining bread cubes and onions and half the crumbled bacon. Add more stock. Again, you want the mixture moist, but not soupy. The amount of stock will depend on how dry the bread is.
  10. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes uncovered (or until hot enough for you.) This only needs to be heated, there is nothing to cook.
  11. Five minutes before it is finished, sprinkle remaining bacon over the top.  Add additional chicken stock if it seems too dry.
You can substitute wine or beer for half of the chicken stock, if preferred, for a slightly different flavor.

Nutritional data:
Calories:     133
Fat:             7.2g
Sat fat:           2g
Chol:             7mg
Sodium:     257mg
Carbs:      15.2g
Fiber:         3.7g
Protein:      4.9g

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turkey Brine and Roasting Recipe

2 quarts apple cider
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 cups kosher salt
1/4 cup black peppercorns
1 tablespoon juniper berries
4 bay leaves
1 cinnamon sticks (3-inch)
1 teaspoon whole cloves
4 quarts dark beer (I am using my own German Rye)

Other needed ingredients:
1 stick butter
1 cup chicken stock
Your preferred seasoning, or a mix of sage, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and ground celery seed.
  1. Dissolve brine ingredients together. Pour into a large bucket or cooler. Add a thawed turkey and submerge in the brine. (Weight it with a brick if needed to keep it submerged.)
  2. Keep it cool for 24 hours. When ready to roast, pat dry and place in roaster.
  3. Melt the butter. Basted the turkey with half the butter. Season it well. Roast at 400F for 30 minutes.
  4. Baste with remaining butter. Reseason. Turn the oven down to 300F and roast for 30 minutes.
  5. Baste with 1/2 cup chicken stock. Reseason. Baste once more, about half-way through this roasting period. 
Total roasting time is 15-17 minutes per pound (unstuffed turkey). Roast to an internal temp of 155F in the thickest part of the breast, but not touching bone. When you withdraw the thermometer, the juices should run clear. I know the serving temp for turkey is at least 165F. But when you are done roasting, you need to let the turkey rest before carving, 20-30 minutes. During that time, the bird will continue to cook (all that mass hold heat very well.)  When you are ready to carve, the temp will be at least 165. (That's why so many birds are overdone and dry, because by the time the bird is carved the internal temp is 180 or more.)

The "Ps" of Long Term Success, Part 8

You've got PASSION, are PLANNED and PREPARED. You've PROCEEDED towards your goal with PERSISTENCE and you PAY ATTENTION with PATIENCE.

5.  Presentation

Presentation is more than a bit of parsley on the plate. Proper presentation helps us anticipate what we will experience when we eat. We taste our food with our eye first. Then we smell it. Then we taste it. But our eyes are first.

And when we truly enjoy our food, we are more likely to feel satisfied, and less likely to keep eating. Think about all those cookbooks and cooking magazines that we read. Absolutely beautiful pictures, right? Those food photographers are true artists. When I try to duplicate the recipes, I am happy if I am even close to the professional photo. Still, I'd like to think that I am not horrible at food presentation.

I think the Spinach Lasagna (foreground) and Beef Lasagna is an okay picture.

This Chocolate Pumpkin Torte looks tasty!

And my BBQ'd Chicken Thighs, Mashed Potatoes and Cheesy Broccoli looks edible, too.

My Dublin Lawyer with Beer Carrots and Steamed Asparagus looks good.

Even something with an appearance as boring as Baked Tilapia, Mashed Parsnips and Zucchini Fries looks okay with it's contrasting textures and service on a colorful plate.

All those recipes are from my blog. I do NOT claim to be a professional photographer, nor a professional chef. I don't use exotic techniques or ingredients. I just make good food and try to make it look good. And I have fun doing it, and am able to feed a happy family, which all helps.

But what about food that is poorly plated and presented?  Will that change the flavor, texture, and enjoyment? Take a look and tell me. The following pictures are from a restaurant's website, and are NOT my pictures, nor what I ordered. These photos are used by the restaurant to entice new customers. (Note: normally, I would give full credit for other's pictures. But these are bad shots and I don't think the restaurant would like to have their name identified.)

Petite Cut Sirloin Steak with Onion Frills
Okay. They are trying to sell a steak. Where is it? And the part I see looks a bit burnt. And a half piece of toast, blending in with the onion frills? It probably tastes good, but would you order this? Is it worth the $13 they are charging? Where is the side salad that comes with the meal? Even some steamed dilled carrots (not an available option) would be a welcome addition to the meal.

Chicken Cordon Bleu ($14)
All I see is a yellow sauce covering something lumpy underneath it. Is it meat? It is vegetable? Who knows? Ideally, this should have been cut open to show the chicken under the sauce. Even better, the chicken could have been plated ON the sauce, allowing us to see the chicken. (What I think when I see this is "what are they hiding from me?") But this picture is all about the sauce. And a slice of orange? Come on! What about something with contrast, such as a tomato-cucumber salad?

Baked Cod  ($12)
I don't know what to say about this. Well, actually yes, I really do know what to say. The plate is too large. The fish is white on a white plate. The piece of lettuce and lemon wedge look old and anemic (and are almost the size of the fish portion!) Where is the starch to give it some color? Maybe they could have put some some sweet potato fries on the side (except this restaurant doesn't offer them.) How about a portion of butternut squash puree in the center of the plate with the fish placed on it (again, not offered as an option) would be better. Maybe pair the butternut squash puree with a fresh and tart broccoli slaw? But this plate? Ugh.

Food needs to look good before it will taste good. And it needs to both look and taste good to be satisfying. Otherwise, you are just chewing and eating something that will physically fill you but emotionally leave you still hungry.

That is the difference between "full" and "satisfied." Eating food that energizes all our senses will more likely leave us feeling satisfied and complete because we are experiencing it through multiple sensory pathways in the brain. (Likewise, when you are learning something new, you will have greater recall if you are able to learn the information using your eyes, ears, hands and voice. But that is a completely different lecture!)

Besides tossing a bit of greenery on a plate, what can you do to enliven your meal? Go to a thrift store and find some colorful plates, in different shapes sizes so that you can use a smaller plate for a smaller portion size and not have the food look inconsequential. Prepare your food nicely. Find menu items with contrasting colors, textures and tastes and combine them in a meal. Try new foods! Explore the culinary world. Read new cookbooks and magazines for ideas, and pay attention to what is paired together.

More importantly, eat what you love. Eat the correct amount of calories (or if you are in Weight Watchers, eat all your points.) And feel satisfied when you eat, so that you do not feel the urge to graze your way through the pantry an hour after dinner.

Next: The LAST "P" of Long Term Success! (And more recipes, of course!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Warm Bourbon Egg Nog

Warm Bourbon Egg Nog
Serves 3

1 egg
1 ounce Irish cream liqueur
1/2 ounce bourbon whiskey (the original recipe called for Irish whiskey)
2 cup milk
Cinnamon to garnish
  1. Heat milk over low heat until hot, but not boiling.
  2. While the milk is heating, in a 1 quart bowl whisk egg, Irish cream and whiskey until very smooth.
  3. When the milk it hot, slowly pour into the egg mixture, whisking while pouring.
  4. Divide between mugs. Garnish with cinnamon or nutmeg.
Nutritional data:
Calories:       148
Fat:               6.3g
Sat fat:          3.4g
Chol:             86mg
Sodium:      108mg
Carbs:        10.3g
Fiber:              0g
Protein:        7.8g

This tasted good, but personally, I didn't think it was rich enough. Maybe it needed an additional egg or two, and some cream would help it (but then the calories would skyrocket!) However, for a once-in-a-while treat, the extra calories may be worth it. If I try that adaptation, I will post the results here.

Mushroom-Spinach Baked Eggs

Mushroom-Spinach Baked Eggs
Serves 4

4 pieces bread, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 cups baby spinach (4 ounces)
¼ cup milk
4 large eggs
¼ cup shredded cheese

1.   Preheat oven to 350F
2.   Spray 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray
3.   Preheat 10” non-stick skillet. Add olive oil
4.   Saute onions until they get translucent (4-5 minutes)
5.   Add mushrooms. Let them cook, undisturbed for 4 minutes. Then stir together, cooking another 4 minutes.
6.   Add spinach, stir together. Let the spinach begin to wilt.
7.   Lay the toasted bread in the pan in single layer, trimming the bread to make it fit if needed.
8.   Spread mushroom-spinach evenly over the toast. Make 4 wells in the topping, one for each piece of toast.
9.   Pour 1 tablespoon milk in each well.
10. Carefully crack eggs and place 1 egg in each well.
11. Bake for 25 minutes.
12. After 25 minutes, sprinkle cheese evenly. Return to oven for 5 more minutes
13. Remove, cut into four portions and serve.

Cooking it a total of 30 minutes will give you a warm but still liquid yolk. Adding 5 more minutes will give you a yolk that is very thick, but not yet solid.

Nutritional data:
Calories:      171
Fat:              8.1g
Sat fat:         2.7g
Chol:          216mg
Sodium:      232mg
Carbs:       15.9g
Fiber:          3.6g
Protein:     12.1g

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The "Ps" of Long Term Success, Part 7

Getting back to the previous topic:

You've PASSIONATE about your goal, are well-PLANNED and PREPARED. You 've PROCEEDED and have demonstrated PERSISTENCE, and you PAY ATTENTION to yourself and your surroundings.

5.  Patience!!

It won't happen overnight.

You didn't gain all the extra weight overnight. It crept on slowly. Stealthily. Ninja-weight. (Sorry. I'm a guy, and sometimes I need to throw a ninja in here.) But my point is that you gained your weight, one bite at a time.

What makes you believe it will leave your body any faster? When people set their goal, it is common to say "I will lose X pounds, by Y date" and then they follow it with "... because I need to look great for Z."

Writing a goal like that is a great way of shooting yourself in the foot. Our bodies don't like to lose weight. Our bodies will fight back. Random gains after a few days of eating good, followed by a sudden loss the day after the office party. You might know how fast you should lose weight based on your calorie budget, but your body is illiterate. It can't read the weight loss books. Your body's fat cells (in nurse-speak, "adipose tissue") are stubborn, irritable, and cantankerous. (Sounds like one of your relatives, right?) You need to force the weight loss attitude on them.

But still, your body will never shed weight as fast as you want. You will need to accept that fact. It will always take a little longer than you want. Just like most construction projects, they don't finish on time, and are generally over-budget. Your weight loss journey will take you longer than you expect, and will be harder than you planned.

But you will succeed. The only way you won't succeed is if you quit. Even if you show minimal or no losses for a few weeks (months even?) just remind yourself that staying the same weight is better than gaining. Stick with your plan. Keep your eyes focused on your goal, which should be a weight, or a set of inches, or a level of physical fitness and should not include a date.

I saw this turtle on my long hike in May, 2012

You CAN succeed. You WILL succeed. Eventually. To mix a few metaphors, the tortoise will win the race
as long as the little engine never gives up.

Questions for my readers (and the first will separate the men and women from the boys and girls):
What do I mean about the "little engine that never gives up?"
What keeps you going when the challenges pop up?

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Pasta

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Pasta
Serves 4

2 cups warm, shredded cooked chicken (or about 8 ounces)
6 ounces dry pasta, some sort of short variety (penne, rotini, etc)
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup Vidalia onion, diced
2 garlic cloves
1 cup (10 ounces by weight) plain Greek yogurt
6 ounces baby spinach
  1. Prepare pasta according to directions. When the pasta is done, save 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Heat the shredded chicken in the microwave (or any other preferred method.) Keep hot.
  3. While you are boiling the pasta, in a small non-stick skillet, add olive oil. When hot, add onions. Saute until they are beginning to become translucent (4-6 minutes over medium-high heat.) Add garlic and stir for an additional minute.
  4. Add yogurt to the onions and garlic. Stir to combine. If it seems too thick for your preference, add small amounts of the hot pasta water.
  5. To quickly and easily thaw the peas, place them in a large colander, and pour the cooked pasta over them. Quickly drain the pasta, and add back to the pasta pot. The pasta does not need to be fully drained.
  6. Add half of the spinach.  Top with onion/yogurt mixture and chicken.  Stir to combine.
  7. Add remaining spinach.  Toss to combine. The spinach will partially wilt under the surrounding heat of the dish.
Note: You could easily use leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Simply shred it and reheat in the microwave, or in a saute pan with some broth and a bit (1/4 cup) of gravy.

Nutritional data (each portion is approximately 1 1/4 cups):
Calories:      279
Fat:             7.7g
Sat fat:           2g
Chol:            36mg
Sodium:      130mg
Carbs:       32.5g
Fiber:             3g
Protein:        20g

Note: This was the first time I made this dish. Next time, I will add something with another color, maybe some diced fire-roasted red bell peppers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 1 or 2 (depending on the size of your salad)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin)
1 teaspoon Penzey's Raspberry Enlightenment
Seasoning of your choice (I prefer Penzey's Sunny Paris.)
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Briskly whisk (or if you used a container with a type cap, shake vigorously.)
  3. Serve.
If you prefer a different oil (grapeseed or walnut) or a different vinegar the process is the same. Balsamic vinegar has a bit of sweetness to it, so if you use a red wine vinegar, you may need to add a little sugar/Splenda to help balance it. If you don't like raspberries, you could mash a few blackberries into it, or mash and mince a couple tart Montmorrency cherries.  Like many of my recipes, this is a basic type that can be infinitely varied to your tastes. However, keep the mustard if you don't want the vinegar and oil to rapidly separate.

It is really that simple. The mustard is used not for flavor, but as an emulsifier. It helps keep the vinegar and oil from separating.  Here is a picture of the dressing taken 15 minutes after whisking. (Try that without the mustard for comparison.)

Penzey's Raspberry Enlightenment
It is an awesome ingredient, adding a bit of tartness and sweetness with the raspberry flavor.
It is not a syrup. It is more like a thin jam.

(I'm not trying to be a salesman for Penzey's. It is just that I find their spices, herbs and blends to best fit my needs at a reasonable cost.  Also, I have frequently mentioned that Penzey's Sunny Paris is my preferred salt-free seasoning blend. The reason is that is contains such a well-rounded flavor profile, which marries well with eggs, chicken, fish, soups, stews, and just about anything else. It is a blend of shallots, chives, green peppercorns, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil and bay leaf. How can that get any better?)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tomatillo-Radish Salsa

Tomatillo-Radish Salsa
Serves 8 (1/4 cup portions)

1 pound tomatillos (6-8)
6 radishes, shredded
3 celery stalks, minced
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
  1. Peel the husk off the tomatillos. Rinse them under cold water to remove the stickiness. Dice all but two tomatillos.
  2. Place the remaining tomatillos in a food processor or blender. Process/blend until they are smooth.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight, to let the flavors blend together.
  5. Optional: add 1/2 to 1 minced jalapeno (not used in the above picture.)
Serve on fish, chicken or turkey. Use as a topping on tacos and burritos. Serve as a salsa with chips.

Nutritional data for 1/4 cup of salsa:
Calories:          16
Fat:                0.4g
Sat fat:           0.1g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:          16mg
Carbs:           3.2g
Fiber:               1g
Protein:         0.5g

Note: The next time I make this, I will add one teaspoon lemon zest for a bit of color and bright lemon character.

Spaghetti Squash Boat

Spaghetti Squash Boat
Serves 4

1 medium spaghetti squash
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 red (or green) bell pepper, sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup shredded cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional ingredients: jalapeno peppers, diced cherry tomatoes, diced ham
  1. Pierce the skin of the squash in many places. Place in microwave and cook for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. While the squash cooks, pre-heat a non-stick saute pan.
  4. Add oil and saute the onions and peppers until the onions begin to get translucent and soft (4-6 minutes). Turn the heat off.
  5. When the squash is done in the microwave, cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds.
  6. With a fork, pull out the squash. It will come out in long shreds, similar in shape to strands of spaghetti. Pull the squash out of both halves and place in a bowl.
  7. Combine squash meat, onions, peppers and cheese. Place in one of the squash shells.
  8. Place in an 8x8 baking pan (or similar). If the squash will not rest without tipping, use a piece aluminum foil, rolled into a tube, and then shaped into a ring to use as a base. (In fact, just plan to need it.)
  9. Bake 25-35 minutes, or until the top begins to brown.
Nutritional data:
Calories:       90
Fat:              5.9g
Sat fat:         3.2g
Chol:            15mg
Sodium:      115mg
carbs:          6.3g
Fiber:          1.4g
Protein:       3.7g

Note: If you are making this for a large meal and are very busy with other menu items, this could be prepared in advance. Follow the directions above, but stop after step 7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate1-2 days. When ready to finish, preheat oven to 350, and cover the squash loosely with aluminum foil for 25 minutes. Then remove foil, and let it finish for another 15. (That should get it entirely heated. The foil will prevent excess browning.)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Coq Au Vin

Coq Au Vin
Serves 8 (average 6 ounce portion by weight)

Meals like this are great for cool days, or when you need to feed many people on a budget. It is fast, simple (with a few easy steps) and is a healthy choice. On my podcast, Make Your Someday Today, a common topic regarding health and weight loss is finding meals that taste incredible and are still easy to fit into a calorie budget. This recipe works!

Special equipment: Pressure Cooker

1 chicken (4-5 pounds), cut into 10 pieces (remove the wings from the breast, Cut the breasts in half, separate the drumsticks from the thighs.)
Flour, for dusting the chicken pieces
1 tablespoons cooking oil (canola or olive)
3 strips of bacon, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 large (3") potato, peeled and diced
6 ounces baby carrots, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup dry red wine
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper as needed
  1. Dust the chicken parts with flour. 
  2. In the pressure cooker, add canola oil and heat the oil until very hot and brown the chicken pieces. 
  3. Remove the chicken to a warm platter. 
  4. Add to the pressure cooker the bacon, onion, garlic, carrot, celery and potatoe, and saute until the onion is wilted. 
  5. Carefully whisk in the 1 tablespoon of flour, then gradually add the wine and stir until thickened and smooth. 
  6. Add the thyme, parsley, bay leaf, salt and pepper, then return the chicken to the pressure cooker.
  7. Lock the lid in place and bring to pressure, then lower heat and cook for 8 minutes under pressure. 
  8. Allow pressure to drop by the naturally and remove the lid. 
  9. Add the mushrooms and simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf.
Nutritional data (for 6 ounces of chicken, average of white and dark):
Calories:     434
Fat:           25.8g
Sat fat:        7.4g
Chol:         137mg
Sodium:     285mg
Carbs:       14.5g
Fiber:          2.1g
Protein:     31.7g
Optional: if you want this creamy, stir in 1/2 cup (5 ounces by weight) plain Greek Yogurt when you add the mushrooms and heat through.


My podcast, Make Your Someday Today is a twice-weekly show, 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. I hope you give it a listen! 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Somali Bizbaz Sauce

I found this recipe while listening to a podcast of American Public Radio's The Splendid Table, and made a few minor changes to suit my personal tastes. This is based on a common Somali condiment.  It is creamy with a sharp garlic bite and some nice heat to back it up. Excellent as a spread on meat. (Be prepared to need breath freshener!)

Somali Bizbaz Sauce
Serves 12 (1 tablespoon portion)

1/2 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 cup (tightly packed) fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 - 1 jalapeno chile (depending on how spicy you want this)

1. Combine all in a food processor. Process until well mixed. The cilantro will be coarsely chopped.

That's it. How simple is that?  Serve on fish, chicken, vegetables, pork, eggs--just about anything!

Nutritional data (per tablespoon):
Calories:        9
Fat:                0g
Sat fat:           0g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:         5mg
Carbs:         0.9g
Fiber:             0g
Protein:       1.3g

You can make this spicier by using more jalapeno or different chiles, such as a serrano or habanero.
This is how I used it last night, on grilled salmon, zucchini-potato pancakes and fresh pomegranate.

You Never Know What Will Happen ...

I've blogged about this before. I frequently donate blood products through my local Red Cross. Usually I give platelets, but sometimes they need plasma and sometimes whole blood. I'm not fussy. Whatever I can give that is most in need is what I will give.

For those of you who have never donated platelets or plasma, you lay in a recliner. They insert one or two needles (usually two) and they draw out the blood. It runs from one arm, through a machine which separates out the products that is being collected and then returns the remaining blood back to the other arm.

This can take a couple hours. I grab a DVD and a portable player and watch a movie. And I relax for a couple hours. But last Friday, as I was just getting ready to watch "Swordfish" (a good John Travolta movie) I noticed a lot of people walking around the facility. A lot of talking. But I was trying to focus on the movie so I tried to ignore it. Suddenly, I felt a hand rest on the back of my recliner and heard a voice above me say,"How are you today?"

I looked up, and after a brief pause, managed to say, "Fine, Mr. Woodson. But more important, how are YOU?"

Yup. Charles Woodson. #21, Pro-Bowl defensive back for the Green Bay Packers was standing over me. He had just delivered a cash donation to the Red Cross for the Sandy relief efforts. He went around to everyone donating and chatted a bit. We all got pictures.

I'm not sure why I have that goofy grin.

Oh, and he answered my question by saying that he is getting better, and expects to be back on the field in a few weeks. Being a nurse, I of course needed to give some advise: "Work with your trainers, but rest your arm when possible. Get healthy, and be 100% when you get back!"

Moral of the story? There is no moral. But please, if you are physically able, make an appointment and give some blood. Even when there are no hurricanes and superstorms, there are always people in your hometown that need blood. And someday, unfortunately, it may be you or a loved one. Help out someone now!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't Worry. I'll Be Here Tomorrow

It's Election Day. Wisconsin is a swing state. I'm watching the returns. I will post a recipe or two on Wednesday.  See you then!

Monday, November 5, 2012

The "Ps" of Long Term Success, Part 6

You've PASSIONATE about your goal, are well-PLANNED and PREPARED. You 've PROCEEDED and have demonstrated PERSISTENCE.


Sounds pretty basic, right? But it's easy to forget, especially when a bit of success finally arrives. When you first start your life changing journey, you are excited. Motivated. Enthusiastic. Full of confidence.

And you start losing weight! Cool, right? So you keep on working. You keep logging. You get up early to walk, or lift, or do your preferred activity. And the weight drops a bit more.

You try a new recipe that you found on Twitter. You consciously (and politely) refuse that sweet roll at the office. The next day, you notice that your belt is a little loose. Sweet! A non-scale victory!

About the fourth or fifth week, the scale starts to show smaller weekly losses. But that's okay, you know that everything is still working. Then one day you eat that sweet roll at the office. No worries, you know that you will run an extra mile when you get home. But when you get home, you find that the dog has gotten into the garbage, and by the time you get everything cleaned up, you decide to scrap the evening's run and just get up a bit earlier tomorrow morning.

When you arise in the morning, it is a little cool and you decide to stay under the covers a little too long. When you eventually get up, you feel a bit guilty about eating yesterday's donut and not running. You decide to not get on the scale because you don't want to see a gain.

After work that night you decide to stop at your favorite Chinese place for a take-out of General Tso's chicken. It's really good and you eat most of it. (Okay, you really eat it all.) When you wake up, you notice your wedding ring is tight. You know that it was last night's meal, full of sodium. No matter, it's just a little water weight. However you don't get on the scale, because even though it is only water weight, you don't want to be demoralized by the gain.

That is the pattern that is very common. Early success leads to careless behaviors, and the problem is then compounded by lack of monitoring. You weren't paying attention!

You aren't alone. It is common. But it is correctable. You need to PAY ATTENTION. Contrary to what many people say, I believe daily weights are important. While I know that our bodies like to play little games on us (weight gains after a particularly good day of eating, losses after a binge) if you check your weight every day, at the same time each day, wearing the same clothes (or none), over the long term the scale will show you your valid trend. And seeing those small increases will help you keep a closer eye on what you eat. That small gain might give you the motivation to run when you say you are going to run and to decline that sweet roll at the office. And the losses you see will reward and reinforce your good behaviors.

But that only happens when you pay attention. Everyday.

By the way: Paying attention also applies to cooking. I recently made some chicken enchiladas under the broiler. I put then in the oven and got busy doing stuff around the house. They should have come out at 8 minutes. At 12 minutes, I smelled something burning.

FYI: topping burned enchiladas with cheese does not make them look--or taste--any better.

Paying attention to everything in your life takes time. But it is always worth it.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes about 48 cookies

1 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Live two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer, combine all ingredients until fully incorporated.
  3. Drop by level teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets, spacing them 1.5 inches apart.
  4. Bake until the cookies are puffed and lightly brown, about 8-10 minutes.
  5. Let cook on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Nutritional data (per cookie):
Calories:        33
Fat:                 2g
Sat fat:            0g
Chol:              3mg
Sodium:        35mg
Carbs:            3g
Fiber:             0g
Protein:          1g

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thai Ginger-Milk Pudding

Thai Ginger-Milk Pudding
Serves 6 (1/2 cup portions)

3 cups milk (I used 2%)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger juice
6 tablespoons sweetener (I used Splenda. If you want to use real sugar, it will also work but have more calories)
  1. Place a cooling rack in a large kettle with a lid. Fill with water to about 1/2 to 1 inch above the rack. Bring the water to a boil. (The rack is important because you water to slowly and indirectly heat the mixture.)
  2. Grate the fresh ginger with your finest grater. You will need about a two ounce piece (approximately four inches long.)
  3. To get the most juice, line a small bowl with several layers of cheese cloth. Grate the ginger into the cheesecloth. When the ginger is completely grated, pick up the cheesecloth, and squeeze out all the juice.
  4. Combine all three ingredients in a bowl. Ladle the mixture into custard cups, or other high sided small dishes.
  5. Carefully place the dishes on the rack in the boiling water. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover and let simmer for 8 minutes.
  6. After 8 minutes, check  the pudding. The pudding will start to pull away from the sides, and the whey will separate out. If the pudding is softly jiggly, it is done. Otherwise, put the cover back on for 1-2 more minutes. Do no over cook.
  7. Remove. Serve with a touch of nutmeg. This is delicious warm or chilled.
Nutritional Data:
Calories:        63
Fat:              2.4g
Sat fat:         1.5g
Chol:           9.8mg
Sodium:        58mg
Carbs:         6.2g
Fiber:             0g
Protein:       4.1g

You can see how the pudding separated from the edge a bit.
Before serving, you can carefully pour the whey off if you want. This is a VERY soft and gentle pudding.

Roasted Nut Pumpkin Butter

Roasted Nut Pumpkin Butter
Serves: 20 (approximately 1 tablespoon portions)

1/2 cup (2 ounces walnuts)
1/2 cup (2 ounces pecans)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon Splenda brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place all nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 10 minutes, checking them at 8 minutes to prevent burning. The nuts should be a deep golden color and very fragrant when you open the oven door.
  3. Remove the nuts from the oven and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Process the nuts in a food processor until they reach a coarse nut butter consistency.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients, and process until well mixed.
  6. Store refrigerated in an air tight container.
Nutritional data:
Calories:       41
Fat:                4g
Sat fat:        0.4g
Chol:             0mg
Sodium:      0.1g
Carbs:        1.2g
Fiber:         0.5g
Protein:      0.7g

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The "Ps" of Long Term Success, Part 5

You've developed PASSION, made a PLAN and are PREPARED. You took the next step and PROCEEDED toward your goal.  Now what?


Don't quit!

Really. It's that simple. The only way you can success is to keep at it. The only way you will certainly fail is to quit.

An old Chinese proverb reads: "Failure is not falling down, but rather in not getting up again."

You WILL have days that do not go according to you plan. You will have days when you overeat. Or don't exercise. Or indulge in a high-sodium meal.  So what? It's only a problem if you let those challenges stop you. Keep returning to your PLAN. Let your PASSION keep you fired up. Never surrender.

Goals worth working toward will not usually happen overnight. Weight loss is not fast--regardless of what "The Biggest Loser" or Dr. Oz may suggest. There are no shortcuts to success. It takes determination, self-motivation and the internal strength to say:

"I'm in it, to win it! I will not quit just because it is difficult. I will not give control of my body to food. I am in control of what I eat and how I exercise."

It's not easy to make that mental change. And without a mental change, a physical change is nearly impossible

You've started on your journey. Don't stop!