Homemade Lamb Stock

Last night I shattered poor Mary’s heart when I turned her little lamb’s leg into soup stock.

That was probably a bit morbid and overly dramatic.  I apologize to those of you who choose not to eat meat for political reasons.  But damn, that lamb was tasty.

When I buy something like a lamb leg, I do my absolute best not to waste any bit of it.  It’s pretty expensive, first off, and it’s delicious too, so why would I want to waste any?  Usually I buy a leg when it’s on sale and then cut the meat into 8-oz portions and stick them in the freezer.  The first time I did this, I knew I didn’t want to just throw away the bone.  I mean, that’s a big bone!  And it’s FULL of flavor.  So I looked up a few recipes for some inspiration and made my very first batch of homemade stock that night.

I used that first batch of lamb stock to make Italian Chicken Noodle Soup.  Wow, was it good!  The second time I made lamb stock (this is only the third time I’ve bought a leg of lamb.  I make it last.)  I used it to make a Lamb Kale and White Bean Soup.  I’ll be sharing the recipe for that later this month.  You absolutely must try it.  It’s divine.

In case you haven’t tasted lamb before, here’s a lame attempt at describing the flavor: It’s meaty, but almost sweet in a nutty kind of way.  It’s rich and tastes slightly creamy when it’s cooked properly.  Jess says it’s a sensual meat; the “lavender” of meat.  It’s a flavor that works perfectly with certain spices like mint, cumin and masala or rosemary and garlic, but you can’t just throw it in a pan and expect it to cook up like a steak with some rub.  Well, maybe you can, but I haven’t done that.  It seems disrespectful.  I always have a plan for my lamb and now you will too!

lamb, stock, homemade, soup, broth

Homemade Lamb Stock
Yield: about 4 quarts
PointsPlus for whole Yield: 1

Ingredients

  • Lamb leg bone
  • 1 potato, cut in fourths
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in fourths
  • 1 onion, cut in fourths
  • 2 large carrots, cut in fourths
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp whole dried thai chilis (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 quarts water

Directions

1. Put all ingredients into a stock pot, bring to a boil for 3 minutes and then turn down to low for about 4 hours.  Or you could just put it all in a crockpot and put it on low for 6-8 hours.

2. Once it’s done cooking, throw away (or somehow use) all the solid ingredients and strain the stock into a container until you are ready to use.  It can be refrigerated or frozen.

This can be applied to any bone, really.  If you have a roaster chicken that you haven’t cooked yet, you can use the bones in this rather than the lamb.  You can do the same with some beef bones too.  I wouldn’t use this recipe for fish stock, though.  I haven’t made that yet, so I can’t attest to this being the proper procedure and/or flavors.

Have you ever made your own stock?  How did you do it?

Coz’s Corner: Nature is my Cigarette

Or you might have heard some people refer to it as their church. Either way, it is my addiction. Correction, my healthy addiction. Whether running, walking, biking or just plain sitting, nature is my crack! When I am there, I feel most whole.

Nature

Today I wanted to stress how important it is to FIND your healthy addictions. The root cause of what drives to make a better YOU! Sometimes we focus TOO much on our weaknesses and get so busy trying to curb those addictions that we forget to look at the positive!

This is hard to do, and I’m sure, just as hard as quitting smoking or drinking. Its like backwards-thinking forward-thinking positivity. Are you still with me??

I have another healthy addiction and lifetime goal of completing a 5K in all 50 states. Since starting in 2011, I have successfully finished 4 races. I will cover more of that in the near future.

For now, here are some examples of healthy addictions:

1) Zumba
2) Skydiving
3) Rock Climbing
4) Bikram Yoga
5) Disc Golf
6) Running
7) Fencing
8) Cycling
9) Xbox 360 Kinect
10) Dancing

All the options are there, you just need to REMOVE the fear from your head and go out and do it! Get yourself a motivator! For some people, its Jillian Michaels. For others, its that friend that never lets you miss a gym class for fear of going alone.

The point is not to fear whether you can do rock climbing or sky diving. Its about staying active and the journey to finding what makes you tick!

What is your healthy addiction?

Coz’s Corner: Spice and Dice

Growing up in the Midwest and living here for all of my life, I was raised on pizza, potatoes and pasta (and maybe a few other things). Salt and Pepper were the ONLY spices I ever saw used; generously applied to the meal after it was made. I never really experienced real ethnic food until I joined International Club in High School. We went to a Lebanese restaurant and from my first bite of my foreign grape leaf, I was hooked!

spices

Photo Courtesy of the “Spice-and-Dice” Grocery Store FB Page. Click here to visit!

Of course everything changed again when I met the Reluctant Weight Watcher Foodie herself. I was attracted to her thirst for not only life but for spice. And in return, she attracted me with her finely curated curry and full LOVE (aka full-fat) homemade Alfredo sauce. Left me wanting more…

It was those meals that got us in trouble in the first place! However, it didn’t take us long to realize how many calories and WW points we were using in just ONE meal. But one of the main goals of RWWF is to make food less fat and MORE satisfying. More spice can be just as nice! Don’t be afraid to use a little more spice or something different. Chili powder does sounds intimidating, but trust me when I say a little goes a LONG way.

chili

Photo Courtesy of The Picky Cook Blog. Click here to go there!

 

As a couple who eats most of our meals together, we started to carefully look at our plates before eating it.

Here are just a few tips you might want to keep in mind:

1) Use smaller plates or bowls. Seems simple but more space means more points.

2) When going out to dinner, split an entree. Believe me, once you dice the food up between two plates you will see that its ample food for two!

3) Do what Oprah does. Get a to-go box when dinner is served and put half in the box to take home. The real challenge will come not to eat the food before the morning!

4) Remember, its about the quality NOT quantity. Avoid buffets at all costs.

Need Dinner Ideas? Quickly find something new on the Recipe Index. Happy Hunting!

Smoothies and Shakes… What’s the Difference?

Click here for this Wild Blueberry Shake recipe by “Colorful Palate”!

I’ve been on a smoothie rampage lately. Well, by rampage I mean that I have at least 1-2 per day… and not really for the purpose of losing weight, but because they are damn tasty! If I can have something that tastes like ice cream without all the guilt for any meal of the day AND it takes less than 5 minutes to make from start to finish why would I NOT have 1-2 a day? They satisfy my massive sweet tooth and since I put protein powder in every one, they fill me up. It’s a win-win.

Click here for this Juicy Pear Smoothie recipe by “The Healthy Foodie”!

My history with making shakes and smoothies has not been a great one, though. Until my mom showed me how to properly make one last month, I ended up disappointed in most of my smoothie attempts. I’d already packed the blender up for our move (which is next weekend) because I didn’t see the point in keeping it out! Oh, silly silly me. Mimsy (my nickname for my mom) brought over some Weight Watcher Protein Smoothie packets, bought some frozen fruit and went to work.

First off, let me tell you the difference between a SMOOTHIE and a SHAKE. I had to do my own research on this just to figure it out. A smoothie is typically made with fruit – frozen fruit, fruit juice, fresh fruit, etc. It’s not a dairy affair. It’s a fruit party. A shake (“milkshake” being the source of the word), on the other hand, is a dairy-based treat usually made with ice cream, milk or both. The thickness of either does not change the name; as long as you can suck it up through a straw, it’s either a smoothie or a shake. When you start to need a spoon, then it becomes an ice cream or a sorbet.

After you figure out if you’re making a smoothie or a shake, you then want to decide how thick you want it to be. Do you want to easily drink it or do you want it thicker so that you feel more like you’re “eating” something rather than “drinking” it? The breakdown:

Click here for this Blood Orange Smoothie recipe by “Bittersweet”!

– Start each shake/smoothie with no more than 1 cup of a liquid, whether that’s water, fruit juice or some kind of milk (soy, almond, coconut, regular, etc).

– If you want a treat you can DRINK, you can either skip the frozen stuff all together (like ice cream or frozen fruit) and just put in fresh fruit like berries and bananas (or even spinach or avocado!) or you can put in frozen items that are UP TO OR EQUAL to the amount of liquid you’re using. If it’s too liquidy, blend in something frozen like ice or fruit.

– If you want a treat you can EAT, you can put in frozen items that are EQUAL OR UP TO TWICE the amount of the liquid you’re using. You could also use half the amount of liquid and sub the other half with tofu, yogurt, avocado or cottage cheese. Any more than that and your blender won’t blend it properly and you’ll end of with icy chunks of fruit covered in what resembles a smoothie texture. If it’s too thick for you, add some more liquid.

Click here for this Lemon Apple Honey Smoothie by “The Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife”!

– If you want a treat you NEED TO EAT WITH A SPOON, you’ll want to use 2 parts frozen stuff to 1 part liquid. Maybe a liiiiiiittle bit more, but not too much. Or you can use about 2 tbsp liquid, up to one cup of tofu, cottage cheese, yogurt or avocado and then add your sweetener and frozen ingredients.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: you want to make sure you eat/drink your treats right away. Smoothies and shakes lose their wonderful consistency within about 30 minutes. So, don’t make it until you’re ready to consume it.

Click here for this Papaya Strawberry Avocado Shake recipe from “Family Fresh Cooking”!

Now you know how to make it work. So all that’s left is some delicious recipes, right? Well, you can certainly click on any of the pictures I’ve posted to go to those recipes on different blogs or you can try some of these simple and delicious combos listed below! Just put in the wet ingredients first, then the protein powder (if using) and sweetener and THEN the frozen items. Blend and enjoy! You may need to use a spoon to re-position the fruit so that it blends properly. Once you see the top of the mixture seamlessly swirling towards the center, your treat is ready to be devoured!

Chocoberry Protein Shake (4 PP)

  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 2 PP
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 2 PP
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries

Click here for this Carrot Cake Smoothie recipe by “Pursuit of Hippieness”!

Tropical Breeze Protein Shake (4 PP)

  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar, 1 PP
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, 2 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen tropical fruit medley

Peaches and Cream Shake (4 PP)

  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 2 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peaches
  • 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla ice cream, 2 PP

Simple Strawberry Smoothie (1 PP)

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 tbsp truvia, 1 PP

Chocolate PB Banana Shake (5 PP)

  • 1 cup skim milk, 1 PP
  • 1 tsp peanut butter, 2 PP
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 2 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen banana

Watermelon Explosion Sorbet (1 PP)

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen watermelon chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp truvia, 1 PP

Losing Weight with Wolfram Alpha

Hey Y’all!  So you know how I’ve mentioned a few times that I work for this company called Wolfram|Alpha?  Yeah, well, we’re awesome and so is our “Computational Knowledge Engine”.  Yup.  That’s what I said.  We actually compute data for you right on our website.  In fact, we can do a lot more than that…. like help you to lose weight!

They asked me to write a post for our blog about how to use W|A to lose weight.  I thought I might have to do a lot of research and querying on our website to find a good way to actually do that, but in fact, it was extremely simple.  We can show you the nutrition value of thousands of foods.  We can show you the estimated caloric burn of different activities based on your height, weight and age.  We can help to calculate what your caloric intake should be every day depending on what your goal weight and time allotted is.  We can do so much!  So check out the blog that I wrote to see just how handy it is.

And if you’re not interested in using it, just go and read it because you think I’m neato and you like reading what I write!  =D

One more thing.  I’ll be guest posting on ANOTHER blog this week!  Dacia over at 33 and Counting asked me to write a post, so I went all out and wrote a little about my journey and lot about food!  I even included a recipe for another delicious Indian meal.  It’s all broken down into WW PP just like I do here.  Dacia’s pretty amazing.  She’s lost over 100 lbs in less than a year with Weight Watchers!  So make sure to check it out this Friday!

Guest Blogger: Dacia and her Journey

A few weeks ago, I asked my awesome Reluctant Losers if any of them were interested in guest blogging on the Reluctant WW Foodie blog.  Why not?  They’re working hard, they have their own stories and it’d also provide some new perspective for all my awesome readers!  A handful of them were definitely interested.  Now, sit back and enjoy the very first guest post from Dacia about her journey towards health!

Hi! My name is Dacia and I blog over at thirtythreeandcounting.com The focus of the blog is my journey towards happiness and creating a better life for myself. The post topics vary from friendship and family to my career to fitness but mainly focus around my weight loss journey which started almost seven months ago. When Angela asked if anyone would be interested in contributing a post to be featured on her blog I of course jumped at the chance; it is the least I can do for someone who has helped keep me motivated and inspired throughout my journey. Of course I had no idea what I would write about as I am not used to being a guest blogger. After many days wracking my brain I decided I should write about my weight loss and what has helped me be successful so far. Although I still have a significant amount of weight to lose before I reach my goal I still view where I am at today as a success. I have changed my life a complete 180 degrees and am happier and healthier than I have ever been. To me, that is success.

Two months in and around 15 lbs down!

Last February I reached my breaking point. This was also the time when I realized that I was the only one responsible for the state of my life (136 pounds overweight, hating my job, feeling isolated) and that I was the only one who would be able to change things. I had tried this many times before; I would throw myself into a workout routine and a diet and give it my all for awhile but then I would give up after not seeing any results or when the deprivation finally got to me. I was queen of the extremes; it was either 100% or 0% with nothing in between and that is just not healthy nor is it sustainable.  Not this time though, this time I would do things differently. This is what I would like to share with you today, the changes I made that have helped me find my way to a place of love, support, health, and happiness.

Be accountable.  I needed to learn how to be accountable for the state of my life and so I started a blog. I told the world (or the few people reading) everything; what I wanted to change, how I felt about myself, problems I was having, and quickly I was finding ways to work through them. My support team grew from my husband and a few friends to a small colony that helped keep me motivated and provided inspiration daily and within no time at all I started to see positive changes in my life.

Plan, Plan, Plan. I had no real time management skills seven months ago. Really, why would I? My life was pretty basic; work, eat, TV. The only thing I ever really had to plan was what TV shows, and in what order, I would be watching. Now that I am much more active and am making better food choices I found I need to plan everything in order to stay on track. I plan my meals, even meals that will be eaten out, I plan my workouts, I plan out times to clean and also times to relax.  I used to document this on my blog weekly, meals and workouts, but now that I have become more familiar with my routine I have stopped. That doesn’t mean I have stopped planning. I have a calendar on my desk that I use to plan out my workouts for the week and my husband and I still plan out our meals and activities weekly. Like Winston Churchill said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”

Have fun, do what you love. I learned right away that you will be more likely to maintain a routine if you are filling it with things you love to do. At first I was pushing myself to go on the treadmill to walk/jog but I hated the treadmill and therefore hated working out which made me look for reasons to skip it. Dreading your workouts is not a good place to be in. You are very likely to quit if you aren’t enjoying what you are doing. It took time, I tried out lots of different activities, but I have found ones I love doing. Now I work out because I want to not because I should or have to.

Almost 7 months in and 50 lbs down!

Eat what you want. This is a similar ideal as finding workouts you love. Eat things you love to and enjoy eating. This is my favorite aspect of Weight Watchers. On WW I can eat whatever I want as long as I portion, track, and practice moderation. If you have a diet that is too restrictive or requires eating foods you dislike you are also setting yourself up for failure. Another thing I would like to mention that I learned about how I was eating is that my focus was only on taste. I loved to eat and loved tasty foods and would eat them without ever thinking about how they made me feel. I have become a more conscious eater now. When I eat something I think about how it makes me feel after and I factor that into deciding what I should eat. For example; I love cheeseburgers. If I could, I would eat them every day. However, eating a cheeseburger makes me feel crappy afterwards. I feel lethargic and gross and that is not a good feeling. If I eat a cheeseburger I will more than likely spend my evening on the couch instead of the gym and I don’t want to do that. I also love eating fresh veggies and when I eat a big salad loaded up with every vegetable imaginable I feel great afterwards. I am not lethargic or uncomfortable; I am comfortable and filled with energy. So every meal I choose what I will eat based of what it provides me both in satisfaction from taste and in how I feel overall afterwards. Listen to your body- it knows what it wants.

Be kind to yourself and others. This was the most important lesson for me to learn. I was, and still am sometimes, really tough on myself. Early on I was really obsessed with the scale and would freak out if that number crept up even a little. It took months before I started to relax and cut myself some slack. I think realizing that the non-scale victories are equally as important helped control the scale obsession. Yes, I still weigh myself regularly (it is the easiest indication of how my body is reacting to diet/exercise) but now if I see a gain I use it to help evaluate how I have been behaving and incorporate any necessary changes into my routine. Presently I am just as happy to hear someone say that my fitness routine inspired them to try something new as I am to see the number on the scale drop. Ultimately, even though this journey is about me it revolves around everyone I come in contact with. As I mentioned earlier, I have a great support team but what kind of person would I be if I took their kind words, hugs, pats on the back, and gave nothing in return? It is just as important to be kind to others, unconditionally, as it is to be to yourself.  “What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of the kind.”  -Cleveland Amory

Thanks for reading!
Dacia

My First 5K

Just a few minutes after we passed the Start line!

We did it!  My girlfriend and I finally completed our first 5K!  Wow.  What a rush of emotions.  It was amazing to be two people in a crowd of 4800 participants.  We took our places close to the very end of the crowd since we were in the “walkers” group (although we ran at LEAST a mile of the whole thing!), did a little stretching and let out a squeak when we finally started moving towards the start!  We didn’t actually cross the “Start” line until about 10 minutes after it started, since we were at the end all squished together like an old bag of marshmallows, lol.  But once we got out of our squishy surroundings, we were really able to get into a great routine of walking and running.

But since I’m not the only one who experienced this race, I asked the girlfriend to write a blurb about her experiences for this post. So, without further ado…

Special Notes from The Girlfriend

Our view from the back of the line of participants! We're so far back that you can't even see the START LINE.

The Illinois 5K was simply amazing. Going into it I didn’t think that it would be much of an event, but with 5000 runners/walkers…. it was a sight to see. When Ange and I were getting ready at home, it reminded me of when I used to get ready for track and field in high school. “The Rush”, or as I like to call it – the healthy feeling of competition :) I have always been one for contact sports. Obviously, running in a 5K doesn’t include competitive contact with the ones running next to you, BUT it does require a sense of competition within yourself. The challenge of running the 5K is between you and the ground.

While running in the downtown streets, several community friends were there to cheer us on. “Way to go, Ange and Jess!!” This was the point where my body felt like it could run a marathon. The rush went running through my veins. As we ran into the stadium, thousands of families, friends, and supporters were there to cheer on the race runners, including Angela’s family. It was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment! I would recommend walking a 5K – odds are you’ll end up running to your goal too!

So we finished our first 5K and we loved it so much that we’re going to do at LEAST one more this year!  And, if you didn’t know, Weight Watchers has started a “Walk-It!” day.  Although I won’t be walking on that specific day (which I believe is May 22nd), they did put out this AWESOME training schedule to get people running a full 5K in 6 weeks!  I’m TOTALLY doing this.  It has officially become my next goal.  I also downloaded an application on my phone called “My Runkeeper“.  The girlfriend and I used it on our walk the other morning.  It timed it, made an announcement at every minute (I set it that way), and it tracked it through GPS, so we could see just how far we went and in how long!  The maps/routes can be saved, you can pick from a variety of activities… it’s just awesome!  Definitely gonna be using this a lot.  In fact, I used it yesterday to track my walk from home to work and figured out that it’s .26 miles to the office and it takes me 6 minutes to get there at a leisurely pace.  So, if I walk to work and back, it’s a half mile and if I also walk home and back for lunch, I’ve walked an extra full mile each day!  Pretty schweet.

Just before we reached the turn to the Finish!

If any of you have smart phones, I would definitely recommend checking these kind of applications out.  There’s a bunch of different ones that track distance, steps, etc.  There’s also ones that are just special stopwatches that would be super helpful in circuit training!  You don’t even have to pay for most of them.  Anything that makes working out easier or more fun should DEFINITELY be incorporated into regular activities!

And the girlfriend and I BOTH encourage you all to sign up for a 5K… or a 10K or some other race or competition that will give you a focus or a reason, or maybe just enjoyment of exercise because when you cross that finish line, you too will see that you’ve really just begun :)

Vinegar is Your Friend

I was going through my google reader yesterday updating myself on all the new blog entries that had been written lately and I came across this one from the Healthy Easy Recipes blog.  It blew my mind!  I’ve heard lots about the uses of vinegar over the years, but this article laid it out all nice and neat for me.  I knew I had to share.  So, here it is, almost verbatim.  The article was taken from….

http://www.thenewhomemaker.com/vinegar

All Around the House
1. To remove stickers that have been used to “decorate” furniture and other surfaces, moisten with vinegar. Let sit for at least ten minutes, then remove.

2. For persistent room odors, place a bowl of vinegar in the room overnight.

3. For spills on carpet, use a sponge or cloth to soak up as much liquid as possible. Then spray with a mixture of half vinegar, half water. Let stand for about two minutes, then blot with towel or sponge. Repeat as needed.

4. For more persistent stains, use a mixture of 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap, and 1 cup warm water. Proceed as suggested above. When finished cleaning, dry using a hairdryer set on low.

5. To clean windows, spray with half vinegar, half water. Wipe clean with either newspapers or cloth.

6. To clean silver, pewter, copper, or brass, dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in one cup vinegar. Add flour to create a paste (1/4 cup or more). Apply the paste to the metal item, and let stand for at least fifteen minutes. Rinse with warm water and polish with a soft cloth.

7. No-wax floors can be cleaned with a solution of 1 cup vinegar per gallon of water for a shinier surface.

8. To clean wood paneling, use a mixture of 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 2 cups warm water. Apply to paneling with a soft cloth. Dry with a clean cloth.

In the Bathroom
9. To remove corrosion or chemical build-up from showerheads, soak in vinegar overnight.

10. Remove stains from the toilet bowl by spraying with vinegar and spraying.

11. To remove soap build-up from faucets, clean with a mixture of 1 part salt to four parts vinegar.

12. Spray shower walls and shower curtain with vinegar to help prevent mildew.

In the Kitchen
13. To keep ants away, spray vinegar along doorways, windowsills, countertops – anywhere that ants are likely to appear. If you find an ant trail (path that ants use repeatedly), clean it with vinegar.

14. To remove odors from the sink or garbage disposal, pour in a cup or more vinegar. Do not rinse out again for at least an hour.

15. For a clogged drain, first pour in 1/2 cup baking soda. Then add an equal amount of vinegar. When the mixture finishes bubbling, rinse with warm water. (Note: some garbage disposals do not react well to this cleaning method; check with the manufacturer first.)

16. Wipe your hands with vinegar after chopping. It will remove strong scents like onion and garlic, as well as stains from fruit juices.

17. To clean wooden cutting boards, wipe with vinegar.

18. Remove strong odors. Rinse jars with a half and half mixture of vinegar and water to remove garlic or other strong odors. Boil water with several spoons of vinegar to remove the smell of burnt food from your kitchen.

19. Vinegar is an excellent cleaner for all kitchen surfaces – counters, refrigerators, stovetops.

20. To clean your microwave oven, put a microwave-safe bowl of 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup water in the oven, and cook long enough to boil. In addition to removing any lingering odors, this will loosen any baked-on food from the microwave’s walls.

21. To remove coffee or tea stains from china, clean with a mixture of vinegar and salt.
In the Laundry
22. To keep colors from running in the wash, soak in vinegar before washing.

23. To decrease lint on clothing, add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.

24. Many persistent stains can be removed with vinegar: coffee, chocolate, ketchup, jam, cola, wine. Gently rub stain with vinegar, then wash.

25. To make your “brights brighter”, add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.

26. For fresher cloth diapers, add one cup distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle. This will break down uric acid and remove both lingering stains and scents.

27. To remove scorch marks from an iron, rub with a mixture of vinegar and salt.

28. To remove soap residue from the washing machine, run an empty (no laundry) cycle with one cup vinegar added.

29. To remove the smell of smoke from clothing, add a cup of vinegar to a tub of hot water. Let clothing hang in the same room for several hours.

Pet Care
30. To keep cats off windowsills or other surfaces, spray with vinegar. This will also keep them from scratching upholstery (spray an unnoticeable area of the fabric first to make sure the vinegar doesn’t cause a stain).

31. To keep dogs from scratching their ears, clean with a soft cloth dipped in diluted vinegar.

32. If your dog should have a run-in with a skunk, vinegar will take care of the smell better than even tomato juice. Using vinegar diluted 50% with water, rub the dog’s fur. Rinse with warm water. Repeat as needed.

**Additional Tips from Me**
1. If you have standing water or food particles left on your dishes after you run a dishwasher cycle, run an empty load with 1/2 cup vinegar. It will break down the food particles that may be blocking the drain and get it working again! (I learned this one from my maintenance guy!)

2. Try soaking your stinky flip flops and sandals in a bucket/tub of hot water and 1/2 cup vinegar. Soak for a couple hours. It should help!

I hope all these tips help!  I’m gonna print out this list and put it on my fridge!

Weekly Weigh-In

Note the crazy hair and lack of make-up. Aaaahhh, friday!

Minus 1 pound!  I did it!  I broke my plateau and I’m finally out of the ridiculously frustrating pound that I was stuck in for almost a month!  It was hard work though, REALLY hard work.

As nice as it was to see a full pound loss, the frustration of not losing weight when I thought I would still hits close to home.  I know some people that are really struggling with the Weight Watchers plan.  And you know what?  It’s not for everyone.  If it worked for everyone, everyone would do it!  Some people work better counting calories rather than points.  They’re easier to find anyway!  Not every single one of the Reluctant Losers is using Weight Watchers to get healthier.  They’re following their own plan or a different one.  Either way, it’s still working for them!

So, instead of talking about all the things I did differently and what I’m going to improve upon for next week, I’m going to highlight a few different websites where you can start or continue a weight loss journey for free!  They all have different pros and cons and different set ups, so it’s really personal preference when it comes to which one works for you.

Fat Secret: “FatSecret is a place for people interested in food and diet. Sign up and achieve your food, diet and exercise goals. We think our features such as easily recording your food and exercise, keeping a lifetime record of your weight, finding buddies to support you and discovering recipes that are right for you are pretty special, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can use your FatSecret profile with many other services like Facebook, iGoogle and even on your mobile phone. FatSecret is your one-stop-shop for all things food and diet – the secret is out!” ~ The Fat Secret Website

I’ve checked out fatsecret before and it’s great!  They have an AWESOME database of nutritional information for food and restaurants.  You can track your food intake with a food diary and they also have a weight tracker.  I go to Fat Secret whenever I’m trying to find info to calculate the points of a dish I’ve eaten at a restaurant since the WW database is quite limited.  They also have a great community with challenges, recipes and a lot of support!  They also have a great app for droids and iphones.  Very helpful.

Spark People: I don’t know as much about this site, but one of my fellow WW peeps has told me about it a few times.  She says “Spark People is a free online resource for tracking food, exercise, and weight loss progress.  What sets SparkPeople.com apart from Weight Watchers is that food is tracked on a calorie level (which is automatically computed for you based on your current weight and your weight loss goals), but it goes a step further by tracking individual macronutrients (sodium, cholesterol, fat, etc.) and providing weekly ‘grocery lists’ based on your customized nutrition plan.  This is a full featured weight loss resource with nutrition and exercise information, and in some respects more powerful than Weight Watchers.”

It’s got the same kind of tools as fat secret, although some can be a little harder to find.  The tools they highlight on the site are Calorie Counters and Meal Plans, Fitness Programs, Motivation Systems and Feedback Reports.  Sounds good to me!  One of the really nice things about it is that they’ve branched off into sister sites for teen and pregnant women.  They also have phone apps, which is always helpful!  There’s a lot of good things on Spark People, so check it out!

Lose It: My girlfriend just signed up on Lose It and it looks awesome!  It’s basically a more user-friendly, calorie-oriented WW site.  There’s a recipe builder (HUGE plus!), goal tracker (for other things besides just weight), and lots more!  Here’s their screenshot page so that you can see for yourself just how user-friendly it is.  I love that aspect of it.  And did I mention the recipe builder!?!?!  They too have apps for the ipod and iphone.  They don’t have one for droids yet (boo.), so that’s the only downside I see as of now.  But you can still do it all online!

So take a look through those sites if you want and see what else they have to offer.  They’re all free, so you’d might as well at least check them out!  It’s important to remember that there’s more than one way to lose weight and be healthier.  I’ve definitely tried my fair share of them.  One great point that was made at last night’s WW meeting was this – “If you kinda do it, it kinda works.  If you really do it, it really works!”  Ultimately, our success is solely up to us.  We just have to WANT it bad enough!  And you know what?  I finally do :)

Weekly Weigh-In

Showing some love for fruit!

I lost another 2.6 pounds this week!  Woot woot.  Only four more pounds until I reach my 5%!  I am SOOOO looking forward to that.  Why, you ask?  Because my reward will be getting a massage from my favorite masseuse, Jan!  She has incredibly strong thumbs and an awesome calming personality!  So many exclamation points!!!!

I ate fruit like it was my job this week. It actually kept me from eating too many sugary things (or going out and buying some since we don’t really have much in the house).  I’ve always loved fruit, but if I had to choose between an ice cream sandwich and an orange, the ice cream sandwich would win every time.  Not anymore!  Now that it’s free, the oranges, grapefruits, pineapple, strawberries and watermelon win hands down.

Remember a week or so ago when I had contacted the WW Online people to ask why if typically zero point foods were added into a recipe that extra points showed up in the total amount for that recipe?  Well, they got back to me and here’s their reasoning.  They only have fruit and some vegetables as zero points because they want to encourage people to eat them in their basic form – raw.  So when I calculate the points for a recipe that involves brussels sprouts full of balsamic vinegar, chicken broth, onions and turkey bacon, they’re not in their simplest form, therefore, the points for that recipe are calculated from the total nutritional value, vegetable included.

Although it’s a tad frustrating, I do understand it.  There’s quite a difference between raw baby carrots and cooked baby carrots sitting in a bed of butter.  So there you go!  That’s the reasoning. And I feel pretty confident that I’ve gotten the hang of this whole new PointsPlus plan!  My girlfriend is still struggling a bit to get the hang of it, but she DID lose 1.4 pounds this week too!  And we still ate things like pizza, chicken parmesan, pad thai and brownies this last week!  It’s all about moderation and control, right?  Well, that and LOTS OF WATER!