Posts Tagged ‘healthful food’

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Getting Back on Track

March 27, 2012

It’s time to get back on track…the Weight Watchers track. For the week before the half marathon and the week after, I didn’t track anything except my weight. Four weeks ago, I weighed the same amount that I did this morning. In the grand scheme of the number of cupcakes I ate before the half (2.5), among other mindless eating choices, that’s not so bad.

But now I’m not training for a half marathon, and I’m also not trying to maintain my current weight…

It’s been ridiculously easy to slip back into some old habits. Fortunately not every old habit, but I know I’m not eating as well as I should. The obvious answer to regaining control is to just start tracking again, which I’m doing, but I also wanted to reflect on the things that worked well during the first 25 pounds that I lost, and get myself excited about eating well to lose more.

Things that worked

  • Less alcohol. No big secret here. I just drank less. It helped that I was also training for two races: I usually skipped drinking the night before my weekend long run. When I went out with friends, I drank fewer drinks, better quality.
  • Less cheese. Not necessarily less dairy; Greek yogurt and I have a fantastic relationship. But less cheese, and better cheese. The more flavorful, the less you need to make an impact.
  • I nixed French fries for the most part. They are truly a rarity in my diet now.
  • Less animal meat, more other protein. Lentils, lentils, lentils.
  • Small substitutions. Make an omelet with one egg and one egg white instead of two eggs.
  • Giving myself permission to eat a s***-ton of fruits and vegetables. I’m not sure why I ever saw them as luxury, but I used to see fresh fruit and vegetables as such…and as too expensive. I’m glad it dawned on me that it was costlier in the end to see them as a luxury.
  • One-pot meals. If I can just toss everything into one-pot, I’m much more likely to eat a balanced meal. Left to cook veggies separately, I usually get away with a salad, maybe some carrot sticks. Sometimes all that ends up in my mouth if I don’t cook everything together is whatever carb/protein I’m eating. But if I can make some sort of stew or frittata or other dish where you can really pack in the vegetables? I eat well, friends. So well.
Remembering the proper care and feeding of me
So the next step is to remember what got me here (not too far off from how I’ve been eating lately…just need to remind myself when I get off course), and then to remember that I enjoy cooking, I know how to cook, and there are fun things to make that don’t have to break the Weight Watchers bank.

Need a quick meal? Lentils. Vegetable broth or water. Onion and garlic if you have it. Canned tomatoes. Any green. Any other random vegetables you have around. Any ratio, really. Had it on the table and portioned out into work lunches in less than 30. This version was 3 WW PointsPlus per serving.

A go-to for me is any kind of lentil soup. I think I was originally inspired by Heidi at 101 Cookbooks and her recipe for Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup, but in the last few years, I make it with whatever random vegetables I have around. Last night I had kale and sweet potatoes from the farmers market and pre-chopped garlic, shallots, and onions from Trader Joe’s (amazing. Less than $2, ready to go). In the fridge? Random amount of vegetable broth. The cupboard? Random quantity of lentils. I’ve put together similar soups for anywhere from 3-5 WW PointsPlus.

It was good to poke my head around the farmers market and get inspired again. I picked up a small loaf of sunflower flax bread from a Baltimore-based (but they sell all over the DC area!) bakery that I love.

But this brings me to one of the things I really don’t like about Weight Watchers (and yet have a solution to, other than to guesstimate): how you track things that don’t have a barcode, you didn’t make yourself, or weren’t made by a huge chain store. If I want to accurately track bread, I’d have to: buy something with a nutritional label; bake a loaf myself; or go to a chain restaurant whose items have been included in the WW database. Not much room for accurately tracking the little guy… (Although, good news: Atwater’s actually does include their nutrition information on their website, but many places don’t have that information readily available.)

I suppose it’s just a reminder that what’s easy or convenient isn’t always better. I’ll continue to figure out ways to track the “good” stuff, it just takes a little more effort.

And now for my new favorite “splurge” item (OK, not really a huge splurge – it’s just 1 WW PointsPlus for 1 Tbsp.):

OH NO THEY DIDN'T! They did! And it's so good!

You could do a lot worse, folks.

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New To Me: Chia Seeds

March 9, 2012

I was recruited by a friend to join a small group of women who are virtually supporting each other in weight loss, healthy eating, and fitness goals. [The Guest Post with a recipe for whole wheat chocolate chip cookies is from Leah, one of the other women in the group.] This group periodically issues challenges, and a recent one was to try a new healthful food.

I’m pretty versed in the art of fruit and vegetable consumption, so I thought about all the various blog posts I read about chia seeds, and decided I’d give them a try. It seems like most healthy eating bloggers talk about them at some point, so I won’t go into too much detail explaining all the benefits or details of chia seeds (seriously…the search results are unreal…try it).

I will say that if you can get over the fact that you’re eating a ch-ch-chia pet, you’ll get a pretty quick and easy (but not necessarily cheap – although a little goes a long way) serving of fiber and omega-3s.

I purchased mine pre-packaged, but later found some in a bulk aisle for cheaper.

 

First chia seed attempt? Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding.

Ingredients!

I made the recipe true to form the first time around, and found that it was sweeter than I needed it to be. If you make the recipe as indicated, it’s 8 Weight Watchers PointsPlus. If you just want a small treat, it’s still a nice-sized portion to make this recipe and split it into two servings. I cut the agave in half to 1 Tbsp. and the recipe drops to 6 WW PointsPlus for the full amount or 3 if you split it. Not too shabby for a chocolate treat!

Don't judge based on my picture...it was tastier than it looks!

Here’s the thing that the recipe doesn’t tell you but that you MUST know: you cannot just mix these ingredients! Chia seeds clump almost immediately if you dump them into the almond milk, and you’ll get an unfortunate bite of all-seed, no-sweetness or chocolate if you don’t mix it well (and really attractive chia seeds in between your teeth – hot stuff!). Using a whisk or fork, stir the chia seeds into the almond milk a little at a time. Then let it sit.

Second attempt: chia fresca.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m reading Born to Run and curiosity got the better of me. Again, whisking is going to be crucial to this recipe.

Possibly too reminiscent of tadpoles in a spring pond for some.

Looks…well, putting it mildly, it looks pretty gross. Despite the fact that these are hard little seeds, though, they absorb liquid quickly and easily and form a gel. So when you actually drink it (it being water, chia seeds, a little agave, and lemon or lime juice), it’s pretty smooth. The blogger from whom I got the recipe wasn’t a big fan, but I thought it was pretty refreshing. The Weight Watchers PointsPlus value is 3.

I’m 100% sure that it will not suddenly enable me to run hundreds of miles in tiny sandals over sun-baked canyons, but if you’re looking for a refreshing, fiber-filled drink, it will serve your needs.

Have you tried chia seeds? What did you think? How do you use them?