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March 2013

My latest, greatest smoothie

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Green mango smoothie

I've been putting my Ninja Mega Kitchen System through its paces the past couple of weeks making monster smoothies for many of my meals. I've been using a lot of recipes from Harley Pasternak's "Body Reset Diet" book, and what I love about his recipes is that the complete-meal smoothies are full of protein, healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants.

I went "off the book" to come up with this smoothie, which I adore. It's loaded with good things and doesn't need any additional sweetening. The ginger puree and lime give it a really zippy, fresh flavor and you can't taste the spinach at all. Plus, the avocado incorporates healthy fats and adds a little extra fiber.

And did I mention the smoothie was HUGE? You can either use it as a meal or split it in two for a snack for two. You’ll need a pretty powerful blender to emulsify all the ingredients, which is why I’m a Ninja 4 life!

Hmmm … what to call it?

The Green Monster Smoothie

  • 6 ounces almond milk
  • ¼ avocado
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (about 100 calories’ worth)
  • 140 grams frozen mango chunks
  • ½ frozen small banana
  • 2 packets True Lime crystallized lime juice (or a couple tablespoons of lime juice)
  • 1 tablespoon Gourmet Garden ginger puree (or 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger)
  • 2 big handfuls baby spinach
  • ½ cup or more crushed ice

Cram everything into a blender container and go at it until you achieve the desired consistency.

Here are the nutritional stats, calculated at SparkRecipes.com, for the entire thing – drink the whole thing as a really substantial meal or split it in two for a great snack.

Entire smoothie: 384 calories, 11 grams fat, 58 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams fiber, 20 grams protein.

It also provides more than 100 percent of your daily allowance of vitamins A and C and calcium, plus more than 1,200mg of potassium.

Told ya it’s a monster.


Will walk for food

Last night's dinner was a 4,000-step round-trip excursion to the local park for a food truck roundup.

Food truck invasion
Hey, it's March, it's below 80 degrees and we're taking advantage of the great weather.

(By the way, for you locals, the Food Truck Invasion is every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Plantation Heritage Park, on the corner of Peters Road and Fig Tree Lane.) 

Chicken paillardThe selection didn't really lean toward healthful fare. Burgers, fried calamari, lobster mac and cheese, burritos, ice cream ... you get the picture.

As much as I wanted to dive into a dish of lobster mac and cheese, I found an Italian food truck that offered a chicken paillard topped with salad and an olive-caper dressing.

Not as much fun as lobster mac and cheese but it didn't blow my eating plan to smithereens either, and that made it taste even better.

San pellegrino soda
Actually, it was a good thing I went light on dinner because the San Pellegrino I ordered was actually a 150-calorie Italian lemon soda (and thoroughly delicious).

And for dessert? A sweet close-up photo on one of Plantation's goofy, gnarly trees.

Tree closeup


The Points not taken

Big news -- the scale went down 3 pounds this week!

It hasn't budged in weeks and weeks -- unless you count the psycho see-saw up and down a pound.

But this was a nice chunk o' weight.

What did I do this week that I haven't been doing? Taking those extra Weight Watchers bonus Points (apparently I don't need them). 

I thought I needed them, thought I'd staaaaarve without them.

StrawberriesNope -- I don't. What I needed were more fruits and vegetables.

I spent most of the week making produce-packed, huge smoothies from Harley Pasternak's "Body Reset Diet." I highly recommend the book -- even if you aren't looking to lose weight, the smoothie recipes are worth the cost of the book.

And since fruits and non-starchy vegetables are zero Points, they didn't figure into my allowance for the day. 

Another surprise -- I wasn't hungry, even though I ended many days at or a couple Points below my limit.

Another thing I enacted a few nights ago was shutting down the kitchen at night. I used to allow myself a nighttime snack but I found that I didn't need it this past week. 

Yay for fiber and water!

Disclosure: Weight Watchers is providing me three months' online membership, but really, I've been an online member for the past few months, so bonus! People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.


Live-blogging a late-night food craving

Because, why the heck not?

It's 12:15 a.m. Friday night/Saturday morning. Husband went to bed hours ago, teenager is killing mythical creatures on the office computer and I'm watching college basketball.

I had a bowl of oatmeal at 9 p.m. as my nighttime snack and that seemed like it'd be a good craving crusher. 

But no. Around 11 p.m. I had a serving of pistachios. 

Now it's past midnight and all of a sudden, a voice inside me said "EAT." 

That's all -- no "eat a bowl of ice cream" or "eat a carrot." Just "EAT."

Before jumping up off the chair, I checked in with my head and my gut.

"Eat? Are you hungry? Nope? Sit down. Power through it."

I moved my jaw around and back and forth in a chewing motion to see if it would give me a sign. What? Crunchy? Chewy?

Oddly enough, the phantom chewing short-circuited the craving. 

Stomach isn't growling but it's definitely shooting off signals. 

Cant hear you
La-la-la-la-la! Can't hear you!

I took a big swig from the water bottle on the side table, looked up at the clock and figured that it was more than time for bed.

The more I fight with this urge, the better I'll get at beating it.

Good night!

 


I really need to get out more

Funny thing happened last Friday. I spent the morning running errands, and after trucking through the outlet mall and Ikea, I got home and checked my Fitbit -- 10,000 steps and I hadn't even worked out!

I finished the day at 14,492 steps. Whaaaa?

Fitbit calories burned
Check out that flurry of activity!

 As a work-at-home-mom (WAHM, or as I like to say WHAM!), I often don't venture far from the house. Because of that, I can't get up over 10,000 steps unless I go for a 3-mile walk.

I really need to get out more!

That graph shows a healthier way to rack up the steps -- a little somethin-somethin' all day instead of hours in a chair, one hour walking, then more hours on my butt. 

Calories burned 2
The graph above was Wednesday -- a typical day for me, although I had a big morning out for a dental cleaning (whoo hoo!). Somewhat similar steps but most of the "good stuff" was concentrated in that patch of yellow.

So, how to build in more steps throughout the day ... 

I'm considering becoming an obsessive vacuumer and running the Hoover through the house every day.

Perhaps I'll take the dog out for a walk instead of just letting him do his business in the back yard -- he would LOVE that. That dude lives for walkies, but he's a lousy workout partner: he's terrible on a leash and always decides to drop off a giant steamer about halfway through. Then I have to finish the walk with a special package. 

I'm thinking about this more after reading Harley Pasternak's new book, "The Body Reset Diet" (Rodale Books, $25.99). The fitness aspect of the first part of his plan is simple -- walk 10,000 steps. And on days when I do a different type of workout, I often don't get up to 10,000. 

I also love the smoothie ideas in the book. Last night, I made one with pear, banana, fresh ginger and JJ Virgin's chai-flavored vegan protein powder -- his recipe called for similar spices but JJ's protein powder had them mixed in already. The first five days of his plan you have three smoothies and two crunchy snacks (think celery and almond butter, not Cheetos). Then every five days you replace one of the smoothies with a meal until you're having a smoothie, two meals and two snacks a day. 

I still am tracking my food with Weight Watchers Online, because I need that accountablity -- the day can sneak up on you if you're not keeping track. 

I like this Harley/WW combo -- it feels familiar and really doable. It may be Harley's plan, but what he doesn't know is it's also "my" plan -- and it's my way or the highway.

Hey, I talked with Harley last week about his new book -- check out the video below:

 Disclosure: Weight Watchers is providing me three months' online membership, but really, I've been an online member for the past few months, so bonus! People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.


Ask me about my colonoscopy!

ColonCheck_ShinyHappyColon
Just watched a segment on the "Today" show about two women living with late-stage colon cancer. One important thing that was mentioned was that people don't talk enough about the issue because it's "down there" and chatting about colon health isn't as fun as talking about George Clooney or ice cream.

Allow me to talk about it!

I try not to do too much oversharing on the blog but this is important, especially if you are 50 and older and haven't had a colonoscopy. 

I had a physical around this time last year and my doc wrote me a referral for a colonoscopy. I held onto that referral until last month, when my husband actually beat me to the punch and had his colonoscopy.

Seeing that the entire process was far less treacherous than I imagined, I made an appointment, and this past Tuesday I had my colonoscopy. 

Here are some things that no one will tell you about the process -- consider me your "colon whisperer":

There's more than one way to empty a colon: You can go the prescription route or you can use grocery-store preparations. Of course, you should ask your doctor, but Cleveland Clinic Florida (where we had our colonoscopies) uses a Dulcolax-Miralax combo. I heard awful things about some of the prep solutions, so I went with the colorless, odorless, tasteless Miralax. It’s the MOST. BIZARRE. THING. EVER. to dump an entire bottle of Miralax powder into a half-gallon jug of Gatorade (I chose blue).

Chicken broth is awesome: I bought a quart of Kitchen Basics unsalted (yep!) chicken broth, which tastes absolutely homemade, and you won’t miss the sodium at all. I added a squirt of lemon juice to it and pretended I was having Greek avgolemono soup. It was so good that I’m going to keep it around all the time for a nighttime craving crusher. Hot liquids tend to satiate better than cold ones.

Get your workout in before you “prep”: There is no way in heck you’re going to be able to exercise during that festival. And frankly, the next day you might feel a little worn out – probably from the dehydration and lack of sleep. Why lack of sleep? Read on …

Your feet will turn into icebergs: The night before my procedure, when it was finally safe to go to bed, I couldn’t sleep because my feet were PAINFULLY cold. Not just throw-on-a-pair-of-socks cold – they were ice cold, and then my nose and hands started chilling down. I mentioned the phenomenon on Facebook and my pal Susan mentioned that the same thing happened to her (you can read about her colonoscopy here). When I mentioned it to the nurse at Cleveland Clinic, she explained that the chill can come from a fluid shift. That’s also why it’s good to use Gatorade instead of something like Crystal Light, because the Gatorade will replace all those lost electrolytes.

Buy the good toilet paper: Do I need to explain? Cottonelle has an aloe and vitamin E one. Buy it.

Weight loss isn’t guaranteed: Damn! I thought I’d lose a bunch of weight with this thing. Turns out, if you’re a “regular” person, there won’t be a bunch of stuff hanging around in your colon. My net loss was probably a half pound.

You’ll have the best nap of your life during the procedure: Y’know that stuff that killed Michael Jackson? That’s what they use to knock you out during the colonoscopy (at least that’s what I got). It’s amazing – the nurse told me “OK, this might burn a little going into your system,” to which I thought “OK. Hmmmm, don’t feel any …” Next thing I know, the nurse is waking me up in the recovery area, and I felt like I had the best night sleep ever.

You’ll find out right away how the “fantastic voyage” went: I didn’t have any polyps but I did learn that I have diverticulosis – what the what? I looked it up and was frankly insulted by the diagnosis of the tiny pockets scattered throughout my colon (hey, you can never have too many pockets).

Cue the old “Saturday Night Live” sketch:

Apparently you get it from being inactive and eating a highly processed, low-fiber diet. I am neither! But I’m also 51, and it also comes with age (cue the sad trombone). How do you keep it from flaring up into diverticulitis? Exercise and eat a high-fiber diet – check and check!

Resist the urge to “eat all the foods” afterwards: Remember, you took enough laxatives to make an elephant regular. They may not be completely out of your system, so take it easy the first day.

You’ll be able to find out how quickly food travels through your system: “Transit time” varies from person to person. The average is 1 to 2 days. I am above average and was rewarded in about 12 hours. (If only my jogging speed was that fast!)

It’s really not that bad at all and can save your life: Need a better reason? 


I {heart} fiber

Veganville
Bring it on down to Veganville! NBC photo

In the words of Justin Timberlake dressed as a block of tofu:

Fiber – it’s a dope ingredient

The things you want to make your bowels expedient.

Great timing on that Saturday Night Live sketch, since yesterday, in preparation for Tuesday's colonoscopy, I was to eat a low-fiber diet. The sheet said:

Try to eat a low-residue diet (avoid seeds, popcorn, corn, fibrous vegetables). Discontinue fiber supplements.

Whaaa?

I'm the kind of person who drinks Metamucil for kicks. Our produce bin is stuffed to the top with leafy, green things. I have containers of chia, hemp and flax seeds in the top shelf of the fridge ready to be ground and sprinkled into smoothies, oatmeal and anything else I can think of. I put oats and shredded carrots in turkey burgers.

My birthday was Friday, and we celebrated at my favorite restaurant, Sublime in Fort Lauderdale, which just happens to be vegan. Lots of fiber in that place (and the best cauliflower on the planet).

So when you tell me to eat a low "residue" diet ...

I DON'T KNOW HOW!

Believe me, I'm ready for today. I have the green and the yellow Jell-o ready to go, a freezer full of lemon Italian ice, chicken broth and a half-gallon of blue Gatorade, which will be chugged down this afternoon with an entire bottle of Miralax in it (yikes!).

But Sunday was tough. What do you eat when you want to avoid fiber? I've been eating a high-fiber diet for so long that the thought of not eating that way is alien.

I figured a Power Crunch bar and coffee for breakfast would be good. Later I had a chicken and avocado sandwich on gluten-free bread because, face it, gluten-free bread isn't usually a fiber-packed powerhouse. But Canyon Bakehouse breads do have 2 grams of fiber per slice, which is pretty decent for GF bread.

Did you know that avocados are loaded with fiber? There are 10 grams of fiber in an entire avocado. I had a half at lunch, but it turns out that while it's high in fiber, it's low in residue. (I found THIS article at WebMD, which explained the difference between fiber and residue.)

Had another Power Crunch bar in the afternoon and a chocolate-banana smoothie for dinner.

And yet, I still wound up with 25 grams of fiber.

I'm calling today Jello Shot Monday in preparation for tomorrow. And I'm writing this before this afternoon's laxative festivities begin, so I have no idea what kind of fun I'm in for. (Well, I have some idea ... !)

All I know is I can't wait until this whole process is done on Tuesday.

And for all y'all 50-and-over types who haven't scheduled your colonoscopy, what are you waiting for? Think of the benefits! Weight loss, a heavy-duty nap, a sparkling clean colon and the peace of mind that comes from turning your colon into reality TV.

I'll let you know how it all came out (LOLZ!) tomorrow.

And now, for more Saturday Night Live fun with fiber: