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!

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

Why, Could You Please Pass the Gas?

Photo Courtesy of: chriscantwel.tumblr.com

I need to talk to you about a serious topic, people.  And I need to talk about it now.

There’s one specific thing that undoubtedly catapults a relationship between two people to an entirely new level.  It forever changes the relationship, brings a new sense of honesty and openness, and often it means that long-term commitment (if handled correctly) is in the foreseeable future.  What is that thing, you ask?  Farts.

Now, I was tempted to put “gas” as the pivotal word, but no.  People burp in front of each other all the time; it’s no big deal.  Carbonated beverages have minimized the significance of burping, therefore destroying the poignancy of “gas” as a wholly important word (in this discussion).  Burps are small potatoes.  Farts, on the other hand, are equivalent to Thanksgiving dinner.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this journey, so far, it’s that farting comes with the territory.  My relationship with myself has reached a whole new level now that farts are a definite part of my daily life.  With the increased amounts of fiber I consume and the consistent weekly exercise, I find myself farting a LOT more.  And not just in the comfort of my own home.  I go for a nice walk before or after work and ten minutes after I’ve started… pfffffffft.  Attempting to run the day after a delicious leafy green, fiberlicious meal…. pffft.  pfffffft. pfft.  pft.

At first, I was quite mortified.  Who do you blame when you’re the only one coming out of the elevator?  What do you say to the old lady who unknowingly walked into your string of little bombs as you stroll around the park a few times?

As a woman who’s proud of her European mutt roots, farts and I have never been strangers.  In fact, gassing it up after a meal is considered to be a compliment in some countries.  “Pfffffffft… My compliments to the chef.” (At least that’s what Dad always told me!)  But still, I was worried about what people would think.  “GAWD, that fat girl just FARTED and it smells like BUUUUUUUTTTTT!”  I already have to deal with the fears that come from being the biggest girl in the workout class or the sweatiest, most red-faced girl on the elliptical, but do I really have to be the gassy girl on the track too?

Why, yes.  Yes I do.  I eat the right foods now and I exercise like I should have been doing all my life, just like all the other healthy people in the world.  And guess what?  They fart too. You hear them in the bathroom (like in Vegas.  What happens there stays there.)  We all think “gross!!” and raise our eyebrows a little as we sit in our individual stalls, but we never actually say anything to one another because we KNOW we’ve been in that same unfortunate position.  No one in their right mind is going to make fun of the person who ate some bad Chinese food and is paying for it in unholy and uncomfortable ways!  Karma is real, and you know you’ll pay for it if you do.

I’m finally starting to accept my farts for what they really are, and they are a bunch of things.

– tiny little pushes towards my ultimate goal
– bits of inspiration to get my ass moving away from the stank
– mini shouts of gratitude from my digestive tract for feeding it well
– reminders that I’m a normal, imperfect human like everyone else
– non-verbal communication from my body letting me know that my diet is on track (or off track depending on how much it burns my eyes.  TMI?)

But most importantly, my being able to accept my farts as a normal, albeit HILARIOUS, part of my new and improved lifestyle has definitely brought my relationship with my body to a whole new level.  I suspect I’m on the brink of a long-term commitment here, people!

Hello, my name is Angela and I fart.  A lot.  If you can’t handle that, then it’s your problem, not mine.  Pffffffffffffft!

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!

Morning Ramblings

It’s been a great month for cooking so far.  I’ve been able to try a lot of new recipes and stock up on some previously used ones!

New Recipe Tryouts
– Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous
– WW Brownies
– Chinese Noodle Soup with Chicken and Arugula
– Ham and Arugula Crepes
– Crisp Pecan Cookies
Curried Chicken Corn Chowder

Recipe Re-runs (it’s only been like 7 days, so there aren’t as many reruns!)
Homemade Corn Tortillas
Mexican Meatloaf

That’s a lot of cooking!  That’s a lot of eating too.  I must admit, I did not do so well at NOT shoveling it in this weekend.  I was just craving everything in sight!  The two obvious reasons are out the window (pregnancy and PMS), so the only conclusion I have is that I’m working out more and burning a lot of calories, so my body is craving more.  I didn’t even track points!  Goo.  I did keep up with my workouts, though, so I’m proud of myself for that!  Monday started a new day, but I still went over my points.  Damn those fiesta fajitas at the new Mexican place in town!  They were good, though.

How do you all get through the muck when you’ve had a bad couple of days eating-wise?  I’m just doing my best not to snack so much at work (or eat grapefruits and WW snack bars instead), but I’m just craving the carbs when I come home.  Sometimes it’s hard being Irish/Italian!  All you want is pasta and starches.  I KNOW I’m not alone in this, lol.  Exercise has been my lifesaver, though, and fresh filtered water.

Ah well, I’ll get through it.  The switch has been flipped, so I’m not giving up, that’s for sure.  But I need to pull myself out of this rut and get back to basics.  I know how to do the program.  I know what to eat and how much of it is too much.  I just had a momentary set back.  The weather is getting warmer, so my girlfriend and I can take Max on more walks and get ready for this 5K at the same time.  So excited!  I may even do a teeny bit of running.  Don’t want to hurt my knees, though!

Wow.  Lots of random thoughts today.  Thanks for putting up with my babble.  I’ll be putting up the recipes for the Crisp Pecan Cookies, WW Brownies and Chinese Noodle Soup in the next week or two, so look forward to those!  And here’s a little picture to get you excited….

Crisp Pecan Cookies. 2 PP each... and totally worth it!

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 :)

Grill, Brine and Sunshine

Sunshine!  It’s here!  It might not stay too long, so we MUST take advantage of it now.  How am I going to do that?  GRILLING!!!  (Am I too excited about this?  I’ve noticed my intense use of exclamation points lately.)

Click here to go to this recipe from a fellow Cinci girl!

I love grilling.  I grill from the beginning of Spring to the end of Autumn with our cute red charcoal grill.  Charcoal is the only way to go in my opinion.  You just can’t get that awesome smokey flavor when using a gas grill (although they try to imitate that with fake briquettes).  It wasn’t until last Spring that I had my own grill and a patio to use it on, so I took full advantage.  I can’t even count how many times I grilled!  But I can list off what all I grilled…. burgers, roasts, hot dogs, chicken, brats, sausages, zucchini, corn, peppers, bread, shrimp, chicken wings, onions, snap peas and green beans, etc.  Anything that was in my fridge was grilled, really.  We even bought some hickory chips to add extra flavor.

Click here to go to this recipe from Sara’s Kitchen!

Out of all the things I grilled, my brined chicken breasts were absolutely the best.  I spent a good hour searching through BBQ chicken recipes until I figured out what I wanted to do.  I wrote it down, tried it out and was shocked at how delicious it actually was!  In fact, the first time I made it I used 3 whole chicken breasts instead of one (my girlfriend and I usually just split one since that’s all the meat we need for a day) and we ate all three.  It was just SOOO GOOD!  So juicy, flavorful and succulent… It seriously doesn’t get much better than this.

Tonight we’re going shopping for more chicken because we’re grilling tomorrow, but I had to give you the recipe today just in case any of you were planning on enjoying the warmer weather too!

Saucy Italian Chicken
Servings: 3 (1 breast per person) or 6 (if you cut each breast in half)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 8 for three servings, 4 for six servings

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts, 17 PP
  • 1/2 cup your favorite BBQ sauce (I like Trader Joe’s All-Natural), 5 pp

Brine (No points for this because you drain the water and not even a points worth soaks into the chicken)

  • 1 bowl big enough to cover the chicken with water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil (optional)
  • 6-8 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (only about 1 tsp will actually stay on each breast so it’s only 3 PP)
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes (less if you want, but I like more!)

Click here to go to this recipe from The Bitten Word!

Directions
1. Mix brine ingredients in bowl. Put chicken breasts in, cover with saran wrap and let soak in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours. While it’s brining, mix together your marinade!

2. Once done brining, drain brine from bowl, leaving chicken in (or put it in a gallon ziploc bag). Pour marinade over chicken. Let marinate anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. You can marinate it all the way up to 6 hrs if you want, but any more than that and the enzymes in the meat will start to break down (chicken = goo).

3. Get your grill ready during the last 20 minutes of the marinating. Once it’s nice and hot, pour the 1/2 cup BBQ sauce into a bowl and grab a marinade brush. Put each chicken breast on the nice, hot grill and generously spread BBQ over top. Leave lid down to get flavors soak into meat (make sure your vent is open!). After about 5 minutes, flip chicken and brush on the rest of the marinade. Close lid again and check every couple minutes until it’s reached desired done-ness (should be another 5 minutes).

4. Once it’s done, eat immediately! Your taste buds will thank you! This is fantastic paired with grilled vegetables of any kind and a potato dish! Personally, I’d recommend grilled zucchini and mashed potatoes for an out-of-this-world culinary experience.

Losing a Whole Person

I feel like its time for another session of my “thoughts on life”.

I had a bit of a revelation yesterday as my girlfriend and I were on the road. With the amount of weight that I want to lose, I will literally lose the equivalent of a whole person. This is a person that I’ve grown comfortable with for the past 19 years. We’ve grown up together; been through absolutely everything together. For 19 years, I haven’t been ready to let her go.

She’s been my comfort, but also my numbness. She’s been a source of strength, but also a source of weakness. She’s been my protector, but also my captor. She’s been my shell, keeping me inside so I don’t suffer as much from the harsh realities of this world. For 19 years she’s been my closest friend, and for all those years, as much as I wished she would go away, I wasn’t ready for her to leave. I wasn’t sure I could live life without her. And I held on to her as much as she held on to me; tangible proof of my fear of living. REALLY living. So much of who I am is based on my life with her that it’s been an almost impossible task to separate the two.

But I’m ready now. I’ve realized just how much her love and protection and my fear has held me back from living my life to the fullest. With each pound I lose, I release her from my grasp. With each healthier choice I make, I’m learning how to nourish my self and my body without letting her take charge. With every revelation on this journey, her words fall to the wayside because I can trust myself now. I can live this life without her. I can live MY life without her; I’m ready now.

I’m ready to dance without feeling self conscious about where and how each part of my body is moving. I’m ready to hug all my friends close without the weight of her getting in between our embrace. I will always be a big, beautiful woman, but I’m ready to be “curvy” rather than “obese”. I’m ready to challenge my body to do things it was never able to do before like rock climbing, water skiing, running a marathon and hiking up a mountain. I couldn’t do those things with her hanging on to me so tightly, but I’m ready to release her. It’s going to be a journey in and of itself just to fully let her go, but it won’t be a 19-year journey. Maybe a three year one. Maybe a five year one, but either way, it won’t be 19 years. And in every way, it’s worth it. I’m worth it; I’m ready.

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!