Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A disclaimer

After the great comments I've been getting, I felt like I needed to post something. I'm not a doctor or health care professional, just a fat girl figuring out what works for her. When making a lifestyle change, its important to be safe about it.

Tonya and I will NEVER tell you how to live, eat or what to do. We are here to share what's working for us and try to give you tools to help yourselves. Regular contributor (and lovely cousin) Emily Fonnesbeck said this in her comment and I agree with it whole heartedly:

"If you're going to do it, you have to do it ALL THE WAY. 
Meal replacement shakes are just that- a replacement for a 
meal, and they can contain a lot of calories. This isn't an issue 
unless you can't say no to other foods. You can't drink a meal replacement shake and then 3 hours later have a huge snack 
because you're starving. Personally, drinks only work for me 
in the morning, but even then, by 11:30 I am really hungry."

I feel the same way. I can't replace two meals a day with shakes, I feel like I'm starving. Breakfast works good for me but a few hours later I usually have to have some fruit or a low-fat string cheese to take the edge off. The right kind of snacking is good and I feel it does go along with meal replacements.

The bottom line is, try things out and see what works best for you. The whole point behind a lifestyle change is adopting something you can live with. If you're comfortable with your new lifestyle, your ability to maintain it increases exponentially. Love you all, thanks for listening!

Meal replacement shakes - yay or nay?

If its a fad diet and costly, I've tried them all. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Adkins, Myoplex shakes, SlimFast...the list goes on and on. Why keep trying them? The never ending hope that one of them will work, one of them will help me get skinny. One of them will save my life. It sounds a bit dramatic but in reality its not. I'm not healthy, not even close. My blood pressure is high, I'm pre-diabetic and I'm just fat, which is hard on the joints. The only thing I have going for me (besides me good looks) is my cholesterol is freakishly low (thank you Ballou genes).

Today while I was avoiding work and stalking Facebook I ran across an article posted by iHerb. It's an online health supplement store and its Facebook feed has lots of interesting tips and recipes. It had an {article} about meal replacements (shakes and stuff) and talked about did they really work. And the short answer is: yes.

This is a great article, especially if you're weighing the pro's and con's of using meal replacements. It talks about how they work and why, the studies to support the findings and also points out that meal replacements alone aren't the magic solution. But paired with a sensible diet and exercise, they can help fight the fat.

And now, what you've all been waiting for, my oppinion on the whole subject (I know you all too well). I haven't always been a fan of these but lately, I've started to think they might be just another part of this tricky process. They are by no means a way to live solely, but as part of a plan, why not?

Over the past two weeks I've been talking about my {new program}. So far none of you have asked me about it, which surprises me. Either you're just checking out the website or no one is actually reading this. GASP! It has to be the first, right? Of course!

This program uses meal replacement shakes and I've learned how to incorporate them into my diet and not turn into a starving, half crazed bitch (well, most days). A little one percent milk, half a banana, two tablespoons of almond butter and the chocolate drink makes a lovely breakfast. This morning I'm enjoying a vanilla shake with 2/3 cup of frozen blackberries. The frozen fruit gives it a nice texture and who can argue with the benefits of fresh fruit? No one I tell you.

Since I started this program, I've lost about four pounds but more importantly - inches. Being the moron I am, I didn't measure myself before I started but I know over the last two weeks, I've lost at least an inch or more. My fat pants aren't quite as comfortable anymore and not for the usual reason. They slide down my butt, un-tucking my garments in the process. They look baggy and not at all attractive. On a whim, I decided to try on some old pants I've been holding onto that I haven't been able to wear for six or more years. A long time, right?

They still didn't fit, but another inch or two off and they will fit like a glove. Like a glove. I love gloves and can't wait for that to happen!!! Then the realization hit - O.M.G., this program is actually working. I thought this would never happen. But it has and I'm so excited!

I leave for vacation in a few weeks and I'm determined to be wearing these pants when I am there. For the first time in...forever, I actually think it will happen. Man, today is a good day, despite Bridget throwing up in the pool at swimming lessons. Epic fail on that one.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer dessert love

Desserts are a tricky thing for me because I know the majority of them are bad for me, yet they call to me, begging to be consumed, the little bastards. My cute friend Maren Nielsen (who's about as big as a matchstick) got me hooked on ending a meal with something sweet. In my 20's, that wasn't than big of a deal. Now that I'm 35, it's much more significant.

I've come to realize though there are ways to indulge in the sweet creamy goodness desserts offers without throwing yourself off the healthy living bandwagon. For me, a little goes a long way. I read in the South Beach Diet book once that you are better off having a serving (1/2 cup) of a high quality premium ice cream than the same size serving or more of frozen yogurt. The thinking behind it is the higher fat content makes you feel satisfied so you eat one serving instead of 20.

If you can stop at a half a cup, I think this works. Some days I feel like a serving needs to be a pint of Haagen-Dazs, so you can see how this way of thinking could cause a huge potential fail. My personal solution is to keep ice cream out of my house and there fore eliminating the potential for failure (from that threat, at least).

I've been on {my program} for almost two weeks now and I'm feeling great. Tonya's husband Alex has already lost three inches off his waist after just a week! Holy cow sapphire, as Bob would say. I've noticed a huge difference in the way I eat, especially when it comes to sugar and sweet cravings. This program is awesome because its not a meal supplement, but helps you feel full faster and more satisfied.

But I digress, back to dessert. Have you ever tried Panna Cotta? It's a milk based gelatin that at first sounds disgusting. But its actually really good! I found this recipe from a recommendation from my ultra cool friend and lifestyle guru Stephanie Brubaker and decided to give it another try (seriously, if you haven't been to her blog, you are missing out. She is fabulous.) This is the second time I've tried Panna Cotta. The trick to it (like any dairy based product) is the more fat, the better tasting. Now if this were a perfect world, heavy cream would be as good for you as broccoli is and your favorite shoes would just show up in your closet.

The first time I used one percent milk to make it. Yeah, it wasn't good. It was like eating ice milk, not satisfying at all. This time instead of cream, I decided to use half and half. The results were a huge improvement with out killing my day. Paired with some fresh blackberries and it was heavenly. I love that its only 227 calories for a serving. The fat content is a little high at 14 grams so I would indulge in this sparingly. But its better than a 600 calorie piece of cheesecake, right?

Panna Cotta
From David Lebovitz
Serves 4

2 cups half and half
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 Tbsp. cold water

Heat the half and half and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. (If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)

Lightly oil eight custard cups with a neutral-tasting oil (you can skip this step if you're not planning to unmold it and eat it from a cup). Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, about two hours. If you’re pressed for time, pour the Panna Cotta mixture into wine goblets so you can serve them in the glasses, without unmolding. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each Panna Cotta and unmold each onto a serving plate, and garnish as desired.

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 227.4
  Total Fat 14.1 g
      Saturated Fat 8.7 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 4.0 g
  Cholesterol 44.8 mg
  Sodium 49.7 mg
  Potassium 229.7 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 22.4 g
      Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
      Sugars 12.8 g
  Protein 3.8 g

  Vitamin A 9.8 %
  Vitamin B-12 6.7 %
  Vitamin B-6 3.4 %
  Vitamin C 14.4 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 1.9 %
  Calcium 13.9 %
  Copper 3.2 %
  Folate 4.0 %
  Iron 1.6 %
  Magnesium 4.9 %
  Manganese 23.4 %
  Niacin 1.2 %
  Pantothenic Acid     4.4 %
  Phosphorus     12.3 %
  Riboflavin 11.7 %
  Selenium 3.5 %
  Thiamin 3.6 %
  Zinc 4.8 %

Friday, June 17, 2011

Grillin' and Chillin' recipe | Surf and Turf Tacos

Happy Friday everyone! With the temperatures finally starting to stay consistently nice in Salt Lake, its definitely time to start thinking about all the yummy things to cook on the grill. There's nothing I love more than a juicy steak and some kind of seafood. I'm a big fan of the surf and turf.

This recipe was developed a few months ago for Cinco de Mayo but I was pretty sick then so you're getting it now! Surf and Turf tacos consists of marinated grilled flank steak and a zesty shrimp and avocado salad. The flavors are mellow and its perfect for those hot summer nights.

Flank steak is a staple at our house because James loves it. I usually prepare it with soy sauce and do an Asian style marinade. When I told James about this idea, he was skeptical at first. This is how the conversation went:

Me: I'm making flank steak tonight with a Mexican marinade.
James: Are you adding soy sauce to it?
Me: Uh, no. Mexican, not Asian.
James: Why aren't you using the usual marinade?
Me: Because I want to try something new.
James: But why? I like the other, can't you just do it that way?
Me: (By this time, I'm almost ready to strangle him) You'll eat it this way and like it so just shut your pie hole (said in the most loving way possible, of course)

Seriously, he can be such a pain some times.

I'm happy to announce he really liked it and we've had it several times over the last few months. This is the ultimate make ahead meal because you can allow the steak to marinate for days and it just gets better (the first time I made this it literally sat in my fridge marinating for almost four days). The shrimp and avocado salad is easy to make ahead too. Even after you mix the ingredients together, the lime juice keeps the avocado from turning brown and disgusting.

Mexican Flank Steak

1 flank steak
3 beef bullion cubes
1 ½ cup cold water
Zest and juice of 2 limes
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. peppercorns
½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

For Marinade:
Add all ingredients (except bullion cubes) to a re-sealable plastic bag and mix well. Dissolve the bullion cubes in 1-2 tablespoons of water in the microwave and add to the marinade. Add the flank steak and massage it into the meat. Press all the air out and seal the bag. Place in a bowl and refrigerate for at least six hours (over night is best). 

To cook:
Remove the steak and discard the marinade. Grill it for about 3-5 minutes on each side until it reaches the required doneness. Remove from the grill and cover with tin foil. Allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing it thinly against the grain (if you don’t slice it against the grain, it will be tough).

Shrimp and Avocado Salad

1 pound shrimp
2 limes
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
½ Tbsp. butter or olive oil
Handful of chopped cilantro
1-2 avocado’s, cubed
¼ cup salsa
Kosher salt and pepper

Prepare shrimp:
Devein and shell the shrimp and season with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. Place shrimp and garlic in a hot skillet coated with butter or olive oil. Squeeze one lime over the shrimp as it cooks. Cook until the shrimp is pink and firm, but don’t overcook. Throw in the cilantro, mix well and remove from heat.

Allow shrimp to cool completely before roughly chopping.

For Salad:
Cube the avocado’s and mix with the cooled, chopped shrimp and salsa. Add the lime juice and mix well. Season with salt and pepper accordingly. 

Super easy, right? I served these little beauties with tortilla's, sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and some raw onion for James. These are pretty figure friendly but the tortilla's can add a lot of fat and carbs. I would recommend either choosing a low fat or whole wheat tortilla or using butter lettuce in place of the tortilla.

This is the first time I've bought butter lettuce but I've fallen in love! It's a little pricey (about $4 for a head) but its uses are endless! I didn't miss the tortilla at all and actually really liked the lettuce. I'll post more about this next week. 

Here is the nutritional content for the steak and salad (be sure to factor in any add on's like tortilla's, cheese and sour cream). These recipes serve four combined.
  Total Fat
18.1 g
  Saturated Fat
5.6 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat
1.9 g
  Monounsaturated Fat
8.2 g
231.7 mg
332.3 mg
917.0 mg
  Total Carbohydrate
8.7 g
  Dietary Fiber
3.3 g
0.6 g
47.3 g

  Vitamin A
8.2 %
  Vitamin B-12
79.6 %
  Vitamin B-6
38.9 %
  Vitamin C
28.9 %
  Vitamin D
43.2 %
  Vitamin E
9.0 %
8.2 %
26.0 %
13.8 %
30.6 %
20.8 %
9.2 %
46.3 %
  Pantothenic Acid    
13.9 %
49.0 %
16.6 %
91.7 %
13.7 %
38.1 %