Saturday, March 5, 2011

Keep on Truckin'

Hello all.  It has been a couple days since my last post and I have plenty to share.  The last couple of weeks have been both inspirational and a little trying.  The trying part being my job hunting excursion, which has had no results.  Not even one call back!!  I was hoping getting a retail job wasn't as hard as everyone was saying but now I'm starting to believe it.  Luckily, I didn't let it lead me to a binge (except for my birthday, when I went to Olive Garden with my parents and had the Tour of Italy and birthday cake, but days like this are fine and we all deserve a little cheat!:))  Besides that everything else has been peachy!  Been sticking with the regimen and today I FINALLY attended my first Weight Watchers meeting.  I am so excited to talk about the new Points Plus system and am truly motivated to stick with the program.  I told you all before how successful I was with Weight Watchers a few years ago.  At the time I lost 40 pounds.  Unfortunately I stopped going to meetings and stopped tracking and gained it all back...and some.  The program is so simple to use and really works!  The best part is that you don't feel deprived.  The leader at my meeting told me that the number one reason people do not stick with a weight loss program is because they feel deprived.  Like I've said a million times, weight loss is not about eating rice cakes and carrot sticks.  Weight loss is about finding a new way to live, not just a new way to eat and that notion always keeps me motivated.

The new Points Plus system is awesome.  You get a higher points target than the old system and all fruits and most vegetables are now 0 points!!  Freebies rock!  The new program also emphasizes eating healthy foods more often.  The old system told us that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, but the new system is different.  Like my awesome meeting leader said, a calorie of Crisco is not the same as a calorie of apple.  So true.  Points Plus teaches us to incorporate more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats into our diets rather than eating McDonald's in moderation (The old program told you to eat whatever you want, just make sure to track it and stay within your points target).  It all makes sense really, and I'm glad they finally turned that corner.  If we really want to lose weight and change our lifestyle, we need to learn to incorporate healthy foods into our normal everyday routine.  Fast food is not "normal" (contrary to your television).  We aren't meant to eat all this processed crap.  We are supposed to eat fresh produce, whole grains, lean meats and fruits.  Our body craves it.  The new program helps us to achieve this.  I can't wait to share my first day with you tomorrow.  Stay tuned for updates and fun info about Weight Watchers.  (I will still be counting calories as well as points, like I stated before, so those of you who aren't on Weight Watchers won't be scratching your head.  I want my blog to be relevant to everyone.)

On to the cooking.  This past week has been full of culinary adventures.  I made an amazingly fantastic Italian Beef Stew last Sunday, which I will discuss below with some pics.  I found an awesome Carrot Raisin Breakfast Muffin recipe in a Martha Stewart cooking magazine (I really am turning into a housewife), and I made some really great homemade croutons using leftover cheese and garlic breadsticks.  Recipes and photos below!  This upcoming Sunday is my family birthday celebration dinner.  On my actual birthday (March 1st) I went to Olive Garden with my parents and pigged out.  This weekend will be a little more on the healthy side, with light family favorites and a low-fat chocolate cake with butter cream frosting (YES, it can be done).  I can't wait to share how it goes with you.

Now for the weigh in.  Last week I had a total weight loss of 10 pounds.  This week I lost 2 more!  I know, it's not a ton but it is certainly better than gaining a pound.  Plus I figured a few indulgent birthday meals would probably slow it down a bit.  Anywho I feel great and I'm not going to expect unrealistic things.  Two pounds a week is fine with me.  I'm just going to keep on truckin'.  Even if you don't lose anything, cheat like a horny politician, or even gain a pound or two, DON'T GIVE UP!!  There have been so many times where my weight loss has slowed or stopped and I just said "screw it" and gave up.  I'm learning more and more that when you mess up or pig out, tomorrow is a new day and you just gotta get right back on board.  KEEP ON TRUCKIN'!!

 Here is my Breadstick Croutons recipe.  I had some leftover Trader Joe's Cheese and Garlic Breadsticks that were a few days old.  I was craving a savory salad topper and came up with this recipe.  It's so cool to just randomly experiment with foods you have around the house.  Sometimes you can come up with a real winner.  Like these amazing croutons.

- 2 or 3 leftover breadsticks (or leftover french or sourdough bread)
- 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- kosher salt
- black pepper

Preheat oven to 350*.  Cut breadsticks in half length-wise and then cut into one inch cubes.  Put breadstick pieces on a sheet pan and toss with the oil, italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Make sure oil and seasonings are evenly distributed.  Spread out the croutons in an even layer on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.

Serving size: 1/2 cup = 100 calories, 3 pointsPlus.

These are my new favorite frozen snack/meal.  You can find the big box at Costco and these babies are made with organic beans, rice and cheese and it's all wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla.  Only 310 calories per burrito.  Rice and beans together make a complete protein, and who doesn't love organic food? (at least you think it's better for you!)  Plus we could all take a break from meat for a couple meals.
These muffins were perfect for my family.  Grab them on the go for a delicious and healthy breakfast.  The carrots, raisins, and oats pack in the fiber and nutrients, while the nutmeg and brown sugar provide the sweet satisfaction you'd expect from a muffin.  Pair it with Greek yogurt (like I did above) and you have a well-balanced on the go breakfast.  

- nonstick cooking spray
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour                   
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt (such as kosher)
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup skim milk
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1 medium ripe banana, mashed

Preheat oven to 400*. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt until there are no lumps.  Stir in oats and raisins.  Add oil, egg, milk, carrots, and banana and stir until blended.

Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup batter.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, about 23 to 25 minutes,  Serve warm or at room temp.  Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze!

NUTRITION (per muffin): 186 calories, 5 PointsPlus

This is the amazing beef stew we made last Sunday.  The recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine, and I figured rather than provide the whole shebang here (because it's very long), I'll include a link that will take you directly to the recipe.  This meal was so good.  The stew is similar to traditional beef stew, but amped up with cremini mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, and Italian herbs.  So hearty and only 350 calories a serving! No joke!  Check it out here at  I know, crazy URL.  I'm sure there's a simpler way, but it works.

Hope you enjoy the recipes and ideas.  I'm always cooking up a storm and can't wait to share more recipes.  Until tomorrow, keep being a loser!


  1. I saw your stew recipie and had to try it out. It is awesome. The only thing I did differently was stick it in a crockpot after following the cooking directions for a couple hours to make the meat more tender. So yummy & thanks for sharing this.

  2. Hey, Brendan! Nice going on the Weight Watchers! I have never tried them, but the plan seems common sense enough! Each of us have to find the right plan for us, and the fact that this one gives you so much motivation... I think you've found yours! Way to go! :-)