Saturday, November 26, 2016

Slip Sliders Away

After Thanksgiving most years there are always a lot of leftovers.  But since it was just my husband and I this year, with a dear friend invited over at the last minute when we found he had no place to go, we went simple.  There was a small side of roasted meat, lots of veggie trimmings. but no turkey and we did brownies for dessert because you all know how I am on that whole pumpkin spice thing.

So there wasn't much in the way of leftovers  though we did have some of those yummy little King's brand Hawaiian Rolls, which weren't homemade like most of the bread around here -  but are addicting. If I have time I make them from scratch with a recipe from King Arthur flour, but this week was crazy busy and  I just bought mine.

Recipe is here:

(just cut and paste that in your browser - they are SO worth it).

So lunch was Oriental Meatloaf sliders.

First the sauce:

1 tablespoon molasses ● 1/2 cup soy sauce ● 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar ● 1 teaspoon ground ginger ● 1 clove minced garlic ● 1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper ● 2 teaspoons cornstarch ● 2 teaspoons water

Place everything but the water and cornstarch into a saucepan and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water until combined. Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the boiling liquid and reduce to a simmer. Allow the sauce to thicken for 2‐3 minutes, then set aside. I  usually double the amounts so I have extra to drizzle on the leftovers or chicken on another night.  But the amount listed make enough for the meatloaf to have a nice glaze.

1 pound ground sirloin (my veggie friends can use TVP)
1/3 sleeve reduced fat Keebler brand Club crackers, placed in a plastic bag and crushed
1/2 tsp. Braggs herb seasoning blend (or your favorite all-purpose seasoning)
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
A heaping 1 Tablespoons of the sauce mixture above.
1/4 cup water

Mix meat and other ingredients in a large bowl.  Do not overwork the mixture.

Shape into a  loaf and place in a slow cooker. (spray bottom of pot with some non-stick spray) Spread just a thin coat of sauce on top of the meatloaf and put remaining sauce in fridge to add later in cooking. Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 (160Finternal temperature). Add remaining sauce the last 30 minutes.

If using oven -  350 F. checking internal temperature at 50 minutes.  Pour remaining sauce over meatloaf the last fifteen minutes of cooking, to warm through.

Serve on rolls.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Easy Eggs in a Microwave

Having low blood sugar I try and avoid the high carb breakfast. My younger pilot days of two Pop Tarts and a pint of coffee are over. (For what it's worth, I didn't have blood sugar issues until menopause).

My husband and I do eggs 2-3 days a week, with a slice of whole grain, or sprouted grain Ezekeil toast. But on work days, I don't want to take the time.

I'd heard of doing a scrambled egg in the microwave and finally tried it. Holy cow - what a simple way to prepare eggs and I don't have to soak, then scrape clean, a pan from the stove (scrambled eggs seem to stick to my cookware like glue). Directions are for a 700-watt microwave - different wattage may mean you need to adjust your cooking time.

2 eggs whisked with:
a splash of milk 
a dash of Braggs herb seasoning mix
in a cereal bowl.

Nuke 1 minute
Nuke 1 minute
add precooked additives (in this case some chopped Morningstar Farm Veggie Based "Sausage")
Nuke30-40 seconds.

Perfectly cooked fluffy egg already in its serving bowl!

But in this case, I put it in a single gluten-free tortilla I had left from enchiladas with friends with a sprinkle of cheese and some Scoville Brothers Cowboy Crooner hot sauce (my favorite of all time) and it was breakfast burrito time!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Week With a Personal Trainer - A Little Humor

I had a great experience with my personal trainer - down 17 pounds and wearing sleeveless shirts again. But a gal friend sent me this and it was too good not to share, especially for my friend that refers to her trainer as f(#)ing Alex.  :-)

Dear Diary,
For my birthday this year, I  purchased a week of personal training at the local health club.
Although I am still in great shape since being a high school football cheerleader 43 years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try.
I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer named Christo, who identified himself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear.
Friends seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.
Started my day at 6:00 a.m. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Christo waiting for me. He is something of a Greek god-- with blond hair, dancing eyes, and a dazzling white smile.  Woo Hoo!!
Christo gave me a tour and showed me the machines... I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which he conducted his aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring!
Christo was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time he was around. This is going to be a FANTASTIC week!!
I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door.  Christo made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air then he put weights on it!  My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile.  His rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT!  It's a whole new life for me.
The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it.  I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals.  Driving was OK as long as I didn't try to steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot.
Christo was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club members..  His voice is a little too perky for that early in the morning and when he scolds, he gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying.
My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Christo put me on the stair monster.  Why would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by elevators?  Christo told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life.  He said some other crap too.
Butt face was waiting for me with his vampire-like teeth exposed as his thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl.  I couldn't help being a half an hour late-- it took me that long to tie my shoes.
He took me to work out with dumbbells. When he was not looking, I ran and hid in the restroom.  He sent some skinny witch to find me.
Then, as punishment, he put me on the rowing machine-- which I sank
I hate that jackass Christo more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic, anorexic, little aerobic instructor.  If there was a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat him with it.
Christo wanted me to work on my triceps.  I don't have any triceps!  And if you don't want dents in the floor, don't hand me the darn barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich.
The treadmill flung me off and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher.  Why couldn't it have been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?
Satan left a message on my answering machine in his grating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today.  Just hearing his voice made me want to smash the machine with my planner; however, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel..
I'm having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over.  I will also pray that next year my husband will choose a gift for me that is fun-- like a root canal or a hysterectomy.  I still say if God had wanted me to bend over, he would have sprinkled the floor with diamonds!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Homemade Energy Bars

I was wanting a cookie or bar that had whole grains, and enough sugar and fat to hold me pre-workout, as I do some intense cardio and strength training.

I came up with these, adapting a couple of different recipes on-line into one and really liked how they turned out.  They are NOT super low fat or low sugar, but they are choc-FULL of good grains and fiber, perfect before a run or workout, and sturdy enough you can tote one with you just wrapped in a little foil. Plus my husband really liked the taste and asked for one in his lunch each day this week. The texture is almost a cakey granola bar, but the taste is  very much like a blondie (butterscotch brownie).

They are also super easy and quick to make.

They will also go gluten-free quite easily, just replace the pastry flour with gluten free flour and add 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum, ensuring your oats are also gluten free.  Oats themselves are but they might be prepared in factories where cross contamination can occur.  When I'm doing gluten free with oats for my friend, I use Bob's Red Mill brand.

Energy Bars - makes 16-20 depending on how big you cut them,

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (it retains all the nutrition of whole wheat but has a texture like regular white flour).
3/4 cup plus sugar
2 teaspoons Molasses
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1⁄2 cup butter melted and cooled
2 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant packet kind, the sturdier ones)
1 and 1/4 cups raisins (or dried fruit of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 8 x 8 pan with nonstick spray.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and spices in a large bowl.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in vanilla, molasses,egg and melted butter until smooth. Stir in oats and raisins.  Replace some of the raisins with chopped walnuts if you wish less sugar and more protein.
Before Baking

Pour dough into prepared pan and spread into an even layer with a spatula or your fingers. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the center no longer looks wet (center will still be soft though).  Don't overcook, if you cook until the center is really firm, they will dry out. My oven is very old and the temperature isn't always exact, so check yours at 22 minutes and then every few minutes.
When cool, cut into bars and leave out until completely cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Think Ingredients, Not Leftovers

My parents were alive during the Great Depression and thus raised me not to waste anything.

Mom could make a meal out of what seemed like scraps  - leaving money for the occasional store bought treat  for my brother and I and a cold beer for Dad on the weekends.

I'm much the same way. Our kitchen is quite small as is our 1940's refrigerator but we have a HUGE chest style freezer in the walk out basement and lots of cupboards of storage space down there as well, where the temperatures are never too warm or too cool, perfect for storage of canned goods. So for today, just some tips on adopting some of the same practices in your home if you're not already doing so.

For today's recipe selections there are several recipes involving ethnic dishes. Meat and potatoes are the start of our leftovers but with what we make from them we try and create dishes that normally we would go OUT to eat to enjoy, such as Mexican, Chinese, Thai etc.  Making the dishes ourselves, out of leftovers with just a few exotic ingredients all available on Amazon, saves us a TON of money.

Here are my basic guidelines, please share your own in the comments if you have any you'd like to.

(1)  Think ingredients not leftovers.  If baking a chicken or other large cut of meat, plan on enough for your meal, and maybe lunch or another meal tomorrow (I simply vary the sides so it's not too boring) with enough remaining to freeze a bit.

Chicken is great in wraps, in soups, in stews, or on a salad during garden season.  Other cuts of meat are the same and all leftover protein makes a great stir fry.

If making pasta sauce, I double the recipe and freeze it for spaghetti, lasagna, or a stuffing for a baked potato or biscuit dough placed up the sides of a muffin tin, then topped with sharp cheddar and baked.
Leftover coney dog sauce makes some really tasty nachoes. OK, it's not really healthy but it sure was tasty.
If making rice or vegetables, make extra and freeze.  Even leftover grits from breakfast can be made into dinner with some leftover bacon (if that rarity should occur) salsa, and sour cream
and Fried rice is a great way to use up leftover rice, veggies, and protein.

This was stir fry with leftover rice and protein, fried up with 1 Tablespoon Thai roasted chili paste or “Nam Prik Pao” and 1 teaspoon Red Boat fish sauce per 1/2 cup of rice (plus protein). Topped with carrot, basil. and lime it was as good as the restaurant stuff.

(2) Dedicate two nights a week to leftovers night, so your fridge and freezer don't get too full. Make sure you rotate foods from oldest to newest in the freezer.  Sometimes we just do a "leftover buffet" and bring it all out of the refrigerator and make up our own plate of our favorites to microwave.  Kids too, are less picky if you let them chose from an assortment of items.

(3)  Forget the Tupperware - if you store most of your leftovers in freezer bags (which can be washed and reused) you can better see what the leftover is. Otherwise, you may end up with a science experiment in a couple of weeks. The only Tupperware I use in the refrigerator is soup (in case of leaks) and muffins - so they don't get squished.
(4) "Mexican" night is way cheaper than eating out. To use up leftover rice, beans,or bits of meat and cheese.  Grab some lettuce and hot sauce and the corn or flour tortillas for tacos or burritos or make enchiladas by rolling the ingredients in a tortilla and placing in a 8 x 8 inch pan. Simply cover with a can of cream of chicken soup mixed with a can of Rotel, and a little cheese and bake til heated through (about 30 min, at 350 F.)

(5)  Leftover vegetables? Keep a bag in the freezer to which you add those little bits that don't seem worth saving on their own.  With that make soup, or soup stock, add it to eggs for a frittata or with some red sauce to make pasta sauce.
Guinness Stew

If you wish, separate them by type.  Zucchini and squash winds up in spaghetti sauce. Broccoli and cauliflower go into beer-cheese soup. Green peppers and onions wind up in sloppy joe's or spaghetti. All other veggies can be soup or "shepherd's pie," which is also a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes
Pate Chinois

Small bits of diced veggies, especially onions and peppers, are great mixed into hamburger for the grill, and you can always top whatever goes on a bun with whatever assorted bits of lunch cheese, breakfast meats, or salad that's in the fridge.  Here's some pulled pork topped with bacon and coleslaw on a homemade roll. If you don't eat meat, Gardein ntsmf does a really yummy saucy "pork" tidbits that also makes a great "Carolina" style sandwich with coleslaw.

To make vegetable stock, dump the gallon bag of leftover veggie bits in a big pot when it is full, cover with water, simmer on low for a couple of hours and strain.  This is great for making a stock that's very low sodium, compared to the store bought stocks which are loaded with salt.

(5)  Roasting vegetables.  Those make great, tasty soup.  In a blender puree the leftover roasted veggies, or a variety and blend in a blender with 2-4 cups of broth, then warm in a pot. Since they're usually seasoned as they roast, simply serve the soup with salt and pepper and some croutons.

(6) Have a juicer?  Juicing can be a bit pricey as you're using lots of fruits and veggies to make one big glass, but it's a great way to get a whole bunch of enzymes and phytonutrients and I do a juice or smoothie daily during cold and flu season.  So how not to waste all of the pulp  that remains in the juicer after you are done?  I add  a bit of veggie juice pulp to stews or soups, stir the fruit based pulp into a fruit salad or yogurt and my favorite - with the 4 carrots/half a cucumber/2 granny Smith apple juice that is my go-to juice,  I make muffins out of them with whole wheat flour and just a few other items. They taste like little healthier versions of carrot cake without all the white sugar and flour and they are a favorite around here.

Juicer Pulp Muffins

Makes10 high fiber/low fat muffins

1 and  1/2 cups plus 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Cardamon (substitute nutmeg if you wish)
1 cup fresh fruit/veggie pulp from your juicer (remove any bigger pieces)
1/4 cup vanilla flavored Yogurt
1 egg or 1/2 Banana
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons milk
1/4 cup  plus 1 Tablespoon maple syrup or honey
Note:  If using a pulp that's high in fruit (and thus water content),  you may wish  to omit the extra 2 Tablespoons of "milk"   You want it thick, but not with dry bits in the batter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and cardamom together. Then add in the pulp followed by the yogurt, banana (or egg) almond milk, maple syrup (or honey).  If you use plain yogurt add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix until just combined and  moist adding more milk if needed.
Add batter to lightly sprayed muffin tin. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes. Muffins will be done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the bottoms and sides are just starting to brown.

(7) Stale bread -  if it 's it's just starting to get old - make french toast out of it.  If it's harder than that, cut the loaf crosswise, drizzle it with some good quality olive oil, rub it with the cut side of a halved ripe tomato, sprinkle with a little garlic salt and parmesan, wrap in foil and bake til warm.  Stale bread is also great for French Onion Soup,

If you have a single or small household and can never get through a loaf of bread before it starts getting old, put a third of it in the freezer to use for more sandwiches or some homemade breadcrumbs.
(8) Leftover Spaghetti - Spaghetti and meat sauce is one of my favorite dinners and we eat it every couple of weeks.  But sometimes I end up cooking more noodles than I have sauce for.  Try making a spaghetti frittata with eggs and cheese with the pasta.  I also will use leftover spaghetti cut into smaller pieces in a stir-fry with veggies and protein and some sort of leftover oriental sauce, adding it in the last couple of minutes of cooking.

Thai curry soup is an easy-to-find recipe on the internet and great for using leftover bits of meat and noodles.
Leftover pizza - Partner in Grime is more than happy to eat it cold for breakfast if it's my homemade pizza.  But if Pizza night is a busy Friday work night and delivery veggie pizza we normally do pancakes in the morning.  You can pull off the toppings and add them to an omelet on Sunday morning, or ad them to egg dishes.

Got a "buy one get one free" bread or rolls or tortillas? Place a sheet of waxed paper between the portions, wrap and freeze.  With the family packs of meat, save what you will use this week and freeze the rest.
Just a little bit of juice left in the container.  I make DIY energy drinks out of it.  In reusable glass bottle mix 1-2 Tablespoons of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/4 cup fruit juice and add mineral water.  It makes a tart, refreshing drink that will give you a boost of energy with the B Vitamins and the Enzymes in the ACV.  This is especially good with stronger, unsweetened juices. If using OJ, you may wish to use more juice and less mineral water.
Eggs that are close to or just past the "best by" date make great scrambled eggs or mini frittatas to freeze.
I found eggs for .49 cents and cooked up an extra dozen for single-serving-sized instant breakfast burritos for my husband, who eats before going to work.  (I usually am chugging a smoothie as I drive to get out the door as quick as possible).  All he has to do is microwave. and wrap in a tortilla with the sauces of his choice.

I hope this gives you some ideas.  You'll find, not only that you aren't throwing out food, you are eating less convenience food which usually isn't as nutritious AND you are saving a lot of money.

Which can be used for important things.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Lifestyle Changes - Not Dieting

I was blessed growing up with a metabolism that allowed me to eat pretty much anything I wanted and I was still a size 8 (which back in the day would be about a size 2/4 now.)

Then I hit 40 and menopause early.  I gained 20 pounds.  I was tall and full busted, and I'd been really skinny before so I carried it well.  Then I was on prednisone for a while for irritable bowel which packed on another 30 pounds as it made me constantly hungry.  OK, I'm starting to get a bit round here. That was about 8 years ago.  Then I blew out the knee in a fall with a 100 pound lab walking on ice, and getting the weight off was even more of a struggle.

First I got off the prednisone before Green Peace showed up to roll me back in the water.   I weaned off it gradually under a doctor's supervision adding, turmeric, ginger, and licorice root to my diet as an anti-inflammatory.  I quit eating white flour except for my cheat day and switched to limited amounts of whole grain (Einkorn flouror gluten-free), and I cut back on caffeine and sugar.  That helped both the gut and also immensely in not gaining MORE weight, but didn't make me lose any.

I was back to a healthy weight before our wedding simply by changing not just WHAT I ate but HOW I ate.

Instead of a sweet roll for breakfast or worse, skipping breakfast, I had Greek yogurt sprinkled with a tablespoon of  gluten free granola and some chopped almonds or Kefir with a small slice of gluten free high protein bread. The key was protein, not simple carbs in the morning (carbs are great if you are a runner - but if I was a dog I'd be a Setter).

Making sure I ate something every 3-4 hours, I'd get a Quest or RX protein bar, and cut it into halves or fourths and have one morning and afternoon with a large water or unsweetened herb iced tea which satisfied my sweet cravings.

On Faturdays (yes, our eat what we want day) I use a small salad plate.  This looks like a mound of pancakes, but they are only a bit bigger that silver dollar sized and mentally I felt full though I'd eaten a total of probably only a single restaurant pancake and even then didn't finish them.

Then if you're going to have a higher cal dinner (yes, we're doing pizza and Caesar salad), juice or smoothie your lunch and snack just on some dry roasted almonds.
Today's juice - four carrots, two granny smith's, half a cucumber, and some ginger, made enough for husband and I.

Instead of fast food for lunch at work, I'd go to Panera and get a half salad with lean protein and unsweetened tea, or Chick-Fil-A for a grilled chicken salad nd diet lemonade Instead of a small portion of high-fat food, I was eating a big portion of low-fat food and was actually FULL, not getting into the chips at 4 o'clock because my Filet O'Fish, small coke, and child -sized fries had worn off. Unfortunately,Panera changed the two salads I loved:the Caesar and the Asian Chicken Salad (seriously powdered Parmesan on the salad and mandarin oranges and cashews on your previously low sugar/ low-calorie salad - EWWWW!) and I haven't eaten there in a year but that year, I was eating there for lunch four out of five work days.

My afternoon snack was sometimes in place of the protein bar a low fat Vega protein shake and dinner was  mostly vegetarian unless cooking for my sweetie, usually half a baked potato or sweet potato and lots of veggies or some Thai, heavy on the veggies and very lean on the rice.  On the weekend I ate what I wanted, but made sure to have five servings of veggies a day and two pieces of low sugar fruit and I drank lots of water.

Without counting calories or exercising (other than walking the dog), I lost over 40 pounds in a year.

Then I added some serious strength and weight training.

What surprised me was not just the effects that healthier eating had, as it certainly made me feel better.  It was adding strength training and cardio.  In six months, eating quite well, with the occasional dessert and wine (Store Clerk: "So how much do you spend on your wine?  Me:  "Oh, about 30 minutes"), I lost another 20 pounds that I had figured were a permanent part of us after we turn 50.

I got a personal trainer for the first six months until I could maintain on my own.  It was hard, I had no muscle tone and no endurance, but she paced me so I would be slightly sore the next day but not so much I wasn't active and walking and moving. Having her pace and structure made a tremendous difference in not giving up and her verbal encouragement as I started out kept me from just throwing in the towel. It wasn't cheap at $50 an hour but it was an investment in my health that will more than pay for itself in health care costs as I age.

Essentially we do a warm up, then five different exercises (all using weights), each for 1 minute.  As she said "you can do ANYTHING for one minute" so even if I felt I was going to fall over or drop the weight I could do it one minute. Then we'd do a minute of cardio and two minutes of rest with water. Then 2 more sets of those exercises, following by  two sets of some different strength exercises with cardio and then a short rest in between reps, followed by 15 minutes with the punching back downstairs after she was done with me. We focused a LOT on the core (planks are NOT my friend, but we do it anyway).

We tripled the weight I could lift in just four months of working out 1 hour per week with her and doing a 30-minute walk with hand weights on 5 other days a week.

After three months I had muscle definition.  After six months I had the arms of my 30's and I never thought that would happen.  My heart health was better as I wasn't getting "out of breath"winded during the workout, just sweating a lot and I was sleeping better.  Plus after a stressful day I can come home and beat the heck out of the bag which is much better for me than opening a pint of ice cream.

Now I work out for either 45 minutes a day five days a week or do an hour and fifteen minutes three days a week, depending on my work hours and what writing and marketing is going on.  When I'm out and about I park my car further away from the store in the daytime, take the stairs instead of the elevator and such.  Anything to keep MOVING and if the weather is good, I'll grab some hand weights and go do a power walk. I have added some heavy duty military style exercises as well, and found that I can actually do "non girl" pushups and sit ups, and even with the bad knee, I can run fast if I need to get out of danger in a hurry.

I know I built muscle which adds weight but still lost another 20 pounds  in these six months of the training while eating normal sized meals, heavy on fruits and veggies and still having the occasional bread and butter and bacon and brownie and a glass or two of wine a few days a week.

So - if you are still struggling, even if you are active, consider strength training.   Cardio is great, but I didn't see a huge difference until  I started building muscle mass and thereby burning more calories.

I will never be super model "skinny" and I'm fine with that, but I'm leaner and I'm stronger.

I wish I had done this 10 years ago.