Monthly Archives: July 2011

Monterey Jack Turkey Burgers

These burgers are delicious (and much healthier than regular burgers).  What a perfect way to enjoy a BBQ with friends and family.


3/4 pound ground skinless turkey breast
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/3 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
4 strips turkey bacon
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
1 tomato, cut into 4 slices

1. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, shallots, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, and pepper.  Blend in the cheese, then form into 4 burgers.

2. Heat an indoor ridged grill sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Cook the burgers until cooked through (about 6 to 8 minutes on each side).  When you turn the burgers, add the bacon to the grill; cook until crisp (about 3 to 4 minutes on each side).  Serve the burgers in the buns, with the bacon and tomato slices.

Here’s the dirt:
4 servings

306 calories
9 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 1 g Trans fat)
77 mg cholesterol
707 mg sodium
26 g carbs
2 g fiber
31 g protein
130 mg calcium


Weigh Day (week three)

Guess who’s getting a necklace?!  I am sure you guessed correctly…ME!  I still have apprehension (and a little anxiety) on weigh days because I am afraid the scale will show failure instead of success.  Of course, I hope as the weeks go by I will find myself less and less apprehensive.

This morning I weighed in at 297.4.  That is exactly 3 pounds lost this week for a total of 14.6 in three weeks.  I am very pleased with my progress.  Again, I will say I expect my weight loss to slow (even more than 3 pounds per week) as I continue forward.  It has steadily dropped since I began (over 7 pounds lost in week one, over 4 pounds in week two, and exactly 3 in week three) and will likely level out around 2 pounds lost per week.  I am fine with that, though, as long as the scale shows a consistent decline.  Besides, the slower you lose the weight, the more likely you are to keep it off.

I am excited to get below 290 (and get those earrings to match my necklace) now.  I should be there in about three weeks.

How did you do this week?  How can you do better this coming week?


Pineapple Pudding Cake

Here’s another scrumptious dessert fit for all this hot weather.


1 pkg (9 oz) yellow cake mix
1-1/2 c. cold fat-free milk
1 pkg (1 oz) sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
1 pkg (8 oz) fat-free cream cheese
1 can (20 oz) unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained
1 carton (8 oz) frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
1/4 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
20 maraschino cherries, well drained

1. Prepare cake mix according to package direction; pour into a 13 X 9-in baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

2. In a bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes.  Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft set.  In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in pudding mixture until blended. Spread evenly over cake.  Sprinkle with pineapple; spread with whipped topping.  Sprinkle with walnuts and garnish with cherries.  Refrigerate until serving.

Here’s the dirt on this recipe:
20 servings

131 calories
2 g. fat (1 g. saturated fat)
1 mg. cholesterol
217 mg. sodium
24 g. carbs
1 g. fiber
3 g. protein


Caramel Pecan Candy

In light of posting about cravings I figured I would post something sweet (for all those out there cravings something “naughty”).  These are not too bad that you cannot indulge in one for dessert.


1/3 c. plus 1/2 c. butter, divided
20 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos), crushed
1 package (14 oz) caramels
3 c. chopped pecans, toasted

3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In a large saucepan, melt 1/3 c. butter over medium heat; stir in cookie crumbs.  Press into an ungreased 9-in square baking dish.  Bake at 325 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until set.  Cool on a wire rack.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt caramels and remaining butter over low heat.  Stir in the pecans.  Pour over crust.  Cool.

2. For topping, in a small saucepan, combine chocolate chips, butter, cream, and corn syrup.  Cook and stir over low heat until smooth.  Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.  Pour over caramel layer.  Cool on a wire rack.  Refrigerate until chocolate hardens.  Let candy stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into 1-inch squares.  Store in the refrigerator.

Here’s the dirt on this recipe:
6-1/2 dozen (1-inch pieces)

94 calories
7 g. fat (3 g. saturated)
7 mg. cholesterol
55 mg. sodium
8 g. carbs
1 g. fiber
1 g. protein


Let the Cravings Begin!

This is my least favorite part of any change in the foods I am “allowed” to eat.  Honestly, though, this part usually comes much earlier than week two.  So, obviously, I am doing something “right” this time around.  The odd thing (to me) is that I typically crave sweets (cake, brownie, cookie, candy, anything really sweet – and bad for you) but this time I am craving noodles.  Yes, I know, how strange, right?  Noodles.  What I really want is a plate of chow mei fun from this great little place down the street…and maybe a spring roll.  I know, of course, I should not eat that (nor will I) but it sure sounds delicious.

In an attempt to “quench” this craving without wrecking my day (or week) I went out and bought whole grain pasta.  I will prepare it later…actually maybe I will prepare that yummy mac-and-cheese I posted yesterday.  I know that is a far stretch from Chinese food, but maybe (hopefully) the pasta will make my noodle craving go away.

I just keep “cheerleading” in my head telling myself I can do this – I will do this!  I am anxious to see the number 2 in the front on this Sunday’s weigh in, and I am only half a pound away from that happening!

When you are making healthier food choices what do you crave?  How do you put the kibosh on those cravings?


Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

My chicklets love mac-and-cheese, so it is a must in our house.  Of course, I would now substitute whole grain pasta for the regular stuff in this recipe.  That would likely change the nutritional info at the bottom slightly (in the best possible way, no doubt).


2-1/4 c. elbow macaroni
1 c. fat-free milk
3/4 c. shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 c. shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 c. shredded American cheese
1/3 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper

1. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions; drain and return to the pot.

2. Add the milk, cheddar, Monterey Jack, American cheese, mozzarella, and pepper.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheeses melt, about 5 minutes.  Serve sprinkled with nutmeg and a side of minted, steamed green beans.

Here’s the dirt on this recipe:
6 servings (about 1 cup)

299 calories
9 g. fat (5 g. saturated fat, 0 g. Trans fat)
30 mg. cholesterol
353 mg. sodium
35 g. carbs
1 g. fiber
18 g. protein
402 mg. calcium


Weigh Day (week two)

Today is the day.  Another week has flown by and I was greeted by the scale this morning.  Why do I always feel like the scale is mocking me as I anxiously await stepping on it?  It is almost as if I can hear it laughing because I fear it.

Once again; however, I was pleasantly surprised as I squinted and tilted my head forward.  I have lost 4.4 pounds this week, which puts my total weight loss at 11.6!  This is so exciting!  I am really proud of myself for sticking with it even though I have had opportunities to make bad choices.  Friday night my husband’s best friend was in town and I made pizza and french fries for everyone.  However, I did not eat a single piece – not one.  Instead I made a salad and had some dried fruit and nuts with it.  Not eating pizza that night was worth it to me now, of course.

How did you do this week?  How can you make this week better?

I am going to stay strong and keep dancing every day with my chicklets.  Additionally, I am going to continue to stay away from refined carbs (white bread and regular pasta) and focus on eating whole grains.


Burn, Baby, Burn

Here are 50 ways to burn fat (other than the obvious).  I found these tips here.

1. Take vitamin D
Women who were deficient in it lost weight more slowly in a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Stephen Gullo, a weight-loss expert in New York City and author of “The Thin Commandments” (Rodale), recommends 2,000 milligrams daily.

2. Drink coffee
Studies have found that caffeine increases the rate at which you burn calories, according to Susan B. Roberts, author of “The ‘I’ Diet” (Workman) and a professor of nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University in Boston.

3. Sleep more
Getting fewer than four hours of sleep over an extended period of time slows the metabolism. Experts recommend aiming for between seven and nine.

4. Do things by hand
Wash your dishes, vacuum, or cook dinner. “We consider it a luxury to have tasks done for us, but doing some of these for yourself takes considerable energy,” says Slayton.

5. Wear a basic pedometer
“Every week, aim to take a few more steps than you did the last week,” says Wheelock.

6. Eat lightly and often
“For most people, the body uses up more energy digesting smaller meals every few hours than by eating the same number of calories in two or three sittings,” says Chrissy Wellington, a nutritionist at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts.

7. Move briskly
“Walk like you’re late for a meeting,” says Gunnar Peterson, who trains Jennifer Lopez in Los Angeles.

8. Laugh
“It burns up to 50 calories if you laugh for 10 to 15 minutes per day,” says Adelino Da Costa, owner of Punch Fitness Center in New York City.

9. Eat breakfast
“You send your body a signal that you’re not starving, so it starts burning fat — even when you’re just doing normal activities,” says Peterson. He suggests eating scrambled egg whites or oatmeal with fruit.

10. Time yourself
Spend the last five minutes of each hour (set your computer timer) up and moving around, says Kristin McGee, a New York City yoga and Pilates instructor.

11. Fill up on fiber
Low-carb, high-fiber foods take more time to digest than other foods, leaving you feeling fuller longer and less likely to snack, says Gullo. He suggests spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and cauliflower.

12. Go out of your way
At work, take the long way to the restroom — or even go up one flight of stairs.

13. Fidget
You can burn up to 350 more calories a day than someone who remains stationary, according to a study at the Mayo Clinic. The impulse to fidget may be hardwired, but nonfidgeters can imitate it: Tap your feet, pace, or move restlessly in your seat.

14. Stash flats in your bag
“My clients aren’t going to slip on sneakers to go home, but there is a happy medium,” says Slayton. “You might not run a marathon in ballet slippers, but at least you can move quickly.”

15. Don’t eat late at night
It can interrupt sleep, according to Wellington, and may induce you to skip breakfast — bad for your metabolism.

16. Straighten up
“Good posture not only makes you look taller and leaner, but it strengthens your abdominal muscles,” says Brooklyn Decker, the model on the cover of this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

17. Drink more
Dehydrated people experience a drop in their metabolic rate. Drinking water throughout the day caused metabolic rates to increase by about 30 percent in a German study. The goal: eight cups a day.

18. Beware of sugar
It triggers the body to release insulin, which then either transplants sugar to the cells to be used as energy — or stored as fat, according to Jorge Cruise, author of “The Belly Fat Cure” (Hay House).

19. Squat
When you pick up something from the floor, keep your back straight and bend at the knees, not the waist. “This protects your back and tones your legs,” says Peterson.

20. Chew gum
It burns a few calories — and it keeps you from mindlessly grazing, especially when you’re cooking, says McGee.

21. Sleep better
A poor night’s sleep causes people to chose less-nutritious foods, according to a study at the University of Pennsylvania. Another study showed that sleep-deprived people simply move less.

22. Walk and talk
Don’t sit still when you take a phone call. At work, wear a headset.

23. Switch sides
Whether you’re carrying a heavy bag on your shoulder or a child on your hip, “swapping sides every five minutes works more muscles,” says Peterson.

24. Pick up the pace
Listen to fast songs, such as “Closer” by Ne-Yo, says Ruth Zukerman, co-owner of Flywheel Sports, a cycling studio in New York City. “The beat forces you to keep a calorie-burning pace, especially when walking or taking stairs.”

25. Cook your own food
“It’s often healthier, and by the time you’ve made a meal and cleaned up, you’ve been on your feet a half-hour more than you would have waiting for takeout,” says Slayton.

26. Go on a date.
Women tend to order foods with fewer calories when dining with a man (who’s not a long-term significant other), compared with when they eat with other women, according to a study conducted at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.

27. Avoid eating lunch at your desk
If you must, have a quick bite, then go for a short walk.

28. Always carry a snack
Try nuts, low-calorie bars, or a piece of fruit. Eating frequently keeps your metabolism up (and reduces the odds that you’ll wind up a victim of the vending machine).

29. Wear stilettos
“Every few days, I’ll wear the highest heels I own,” says Decker. “It helps tone my legs, because they work different muscles in my calves and thighs.”

30. Relax
Stress causes the body to release cortisol, which causes more calories to be stored as fat, especially in your abdomen.

31. Watch less television
Adults who halved their television viewing time (by using an electronic lock-out system) not only burned an extra 119 calories per day, but did so without altering what they ate.

32. Lift up
Rise up on the balls of your feet and then lower yourself down again. “I do this little Pilates move everywhere,” says McGee.

33. Build up your abs
Do intense bursts of engaging your abs tightly. If you think you can only do 30 seconds, push for 40, says Da Costa.

34. Drink a few cups of strong green tea every day
In addition to caffeine, green tea contains catechin polyphenols, plant chemicals that may also boost metabolism, according to a study from the University of Geneva in Switzerland.

35. Heat things up
“Some studies show that spicy food can temporarily increase metabolism,” says Slayton. Try red pepper flakes on salad.

36. Work your legs a bit
“If I’m stuck in a seat, I do small knee lifts, almost like I’m marching in place,” says McGee.

37. Eat salmon
Salmon eaters lost significantly more weight than beef eaters in a study, even though the calories consumed were equal.

38. Pop a pill
People taking supplements with glutamine after meals burned an average of 20 more calories than those taking a placebo in a study at Iowa State University in Ames.

39. Keep your blow-dryer at the health club
“I have a client who swears that this motivates her to work out,” says Slayton.

40. Eat the peel
“It takes the body more energy to break down fiber-rich foods, like the skins of fruits and vegetables,” says Wellington.

41. Get busy
Most couples burn an average of 300 calories an hour while they’re having sex.

42. Go coconuts
People who replace oils and fats like animal fats and sunflower oil with those containing medium-chain fatty acids, such as coconut oil, lose more body fat.

43. Drink oolong tea
Gullo suggests this to his clients because some studies have shown it can increase metabolic activity by as much as 10 percent.

44. Don’t snack in the car
Experts say it’s a hotbed of mindless eating and excess calorie consumption.

45. Swing your arms
“The more parts of your body that you use simultaneously, the more you burn,” says Zukerman.

46. Snack when you drink
Alcohol paves the way for overeating. Snack before you go out for drinks, says Slayton — or at least eat a few olives when you’re at the bar.

47. Clean up
When you’re wiping down the counter or washing the car, really stretch out, says Peterson. “Use both hands and make large circular motions, like you’re the Karate Kid.”

48. Buy some crackers
“High-fiber, low-starch foods, such as GG Crispbreads, create a film on the intestinal lining that blocks the absorption of other calories,” says Gullo.

49. Sit up
When watching TV, “get in the habit of holding your body straight,” says Slayton.

50. Don’t forget dairy
Wellington says, “Researchers believe that low-fat dairy inhibits fats from being stored.”


Interesting Day

I had an appointment today to follow up on a breast biopsy I had two years ago.  I was diagnosed (shortly after the biopsy) with fibrocystic breast disease.  Because of this diagnosis (and family history) I am followed more carefully than the average 29-year-old to watch out for breast cancer.

Anyway, today turned out especially strange because the practitioner believes I may have PCOS.  At first I did not see the significance of such a thing, but as she was telling me more about it the light finally came on.  Women with PCOS have an extremely difficult time losing weight (and often gain it without any reduction in their activity or increase in their diet).  The reason they have such problems with weight loss is because of insulin (naturally produced by the body).  In normal people (without diabetes or PCOS or any other disorder/disease) insulin is produced to regulate glucose levels in the blood stream.  Patients with PCOS experience higher-than-normal levels of insulin, which does a couple of things:
1. It causes hypoglycemia (and intense cravings for carbs, which increase the glucose)
2. It acts as a storage “usher” for fat (which is why women cannot seem to lose weight successfully even with diet and exercise)

The trick is to even out the insulin levels by monitoring your diet.  I received all kinds of information on how to change my diet to prevent quick peaks in my glucose levels (which increase insulin production).  All simple carbs (soda, iced tea, candy, etc.) send glucose skyrocketing quickly, and then drop just as quickly.  This peak causes insulin to rush out to counteract the sugar, but then leaves “residual” insulin in the blood stream, which then turns to storage.  Refined carbs do the same thing (quick glucose peak).

So, the diet information she gave me said to try very hard to steer clear of these kinds of carbs.  Of course, it does not say to stay away from *all* carbs.  After all, our brains need glucose to function.  Instead; however, eating whole grain carbs (oatmeal, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, granola, wild or brown rice, bulgur) prevent this sudden peak in glucose levels.  Fruits, legumes, milk, protein-rich foods (meat, chicken, fish, soy, eggs), and carbs with protein/fat (apple and peanut butter, cheese and whole grain crackers, cottage cheese and fruit) all prevent this sudden increase in glucose as well.  These are the foods this diet focuses on.  Apparently, just getting the insulin levels under control will cause the weight to come off much more quickly (and permanently).

To find out more about PCOS or about this diet recommended for it you can visit here.  You can find sample meal plans, food exchange lists, information about PCOS and insulin, and more.


Crispy French Toast

Here is a twist on a classic breakfast (that is typically not a healthy choice).


1/2 c. egg substitute
1/2 c. fat-free milk
1/4 c. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla
dash nutmeg
12 slices day-old French bread (3/4 inch thick)
1-1/2 c. crushed cornflakes

1. In shallow dish, combine the egg substitute, milk, orange juice, vanilla and nutmeg.  Add bread; soak for 5 minutes, turning once.  Coat both sides of each slice with cornflake crumbs.

2. Place in a 15 X 10 X 1-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes; turn.  Bake 5 to 8 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Here’s the dirt on this recipe:
12 slices

Per slice:
147 calories
1 g. fat (trace saturated fat)
trace cholesterol
359 mg. sodium
28 g. carbs
1 g. fiber
5 g. protein