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April 2014

It's all good: Gluten-free sweet potato-sorghum-oat-flax muffins

Sweet potato sorghum oat flax muffins
AGA-ambassador-badgeCarrington Farms sent me a few of its products to try, as part of its All Good April celebration. I had heard of the brand before, as I have a basketball-sized jug of their coconut oil in my pantry (bought it at Costco for a really good price).

You can check them out at, and its Facebook page for special deals and discounts on its products.

As a #CarringtonAllGoodApril ambassador, they sent me a smaller container of coconut oil (which my sister gladly took home), a package of milled flax and a bottle of coconut cooking oil, which remains liquid and is less "coconutty" than traditional semisolid coconut oil. This makes it convenient for using in things like baked goods, stir-fries and even salad dressings.

Muffin ingredients

These ingredients couldn't have come at a better time. I've been amassing quite the collection of interesting flours, which have been piling up in my pantry. I was going through the stash and was determined to come up with a recipe that included a variety of gluten-free flours.

I've never, ever, ever experimented with winging it on gluten-free baked goods. It can be really tricky to get the right consistency and you can easily end up with a muffin tin full of hockey pucks.

But experiment I did -- eek!

Muffin batter fingers crossed
Well, the batter looks normal -- fingers crossed they come out good!

I also had a can of sweet potato puree that I've been itching to use, so I came up with this simple breakfast muffin. It's slightly sweet and makes a great base muffin recipe for add-ins, like raisins or walnuts, which I am totally going to do next time.

I was really happy with the consistency of the muffin -- I think the flax meal and oat flour contributed a lot. And they smelled fantastic while they were baking.

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato-Sorghum-Oat-Flax Muffins

Sweet potato sorghum oat flax muffins1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 can (15 ounces) sweet potato puree

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup almond milk

1 cup oat flour

1 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup flax meal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together egg, oil, sweet potato puree, sugar, vanilla and almond milk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oat and sorghum flours, flax meal, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, stirring until just combined.

Spoon into a 12-muffin tin and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Remove muffin tin from oven and let cool on a baking rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Nutrition info: 190 calories, 6 grams fat, 2 grams sat fat, 29 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 9 grams sugar, 5 grams fiber.

Disclosure: I wrote this as part of Carrington Farms' #AllGoodApril campaign. I received products to review and develop recipes for the campaign.

We are all Lindsay Lohan

Oprah and lindsay
Photo: Oprah Winfrey Network

Anyone else watch that Lindsay Lohan reality show on OWN? I was strangely transfixed as I followed her attempts to live like a normal human in the aftermath of being a catered-to child star and later, an addict.

As I watched the final two episodes, I thought about her plight and how all addicts deal with temptations, whether it's tequila, cigarettes, crack or crullers.

The struggles are the same -- relapsing, self sabotage, having to live your life around people who either don't have a problem with [fill in the blank] or have no desire to change, coming up with new coping skills instead of using, trying not to swap one addiction for another.

  • Some substances are illegal (cocaine)
  • Some substances are legal but deadly (tobacco)
  • Some substances are legal and in small amounts may be perfectly fine or even healthful (red wine)

Then there's food.

You can live without booze, cigs and drugs but you can't go "cold turkey" on food.

Instead, the food addict has to come to an understanding with their substance of choice. 

It's tough.

(It's why you will never see a box of Girl Scout cookies in my house.)

Back in my "bad old days" -- actually, just a few years ago -- I thought I was doing OK because I wasn't compulsively eating food late at night, while I ate ketchup off a spoon while standing in front of the fridge. (Yeah, really.) It wasn't food food -- it was a condiment.

Hey, even Oprah Winfrey, Lindsay's executive producer, had those moments. She famously talked about dousing a package of frozen hot dog buns in maple syrup

I worked through that nonsense with a therapist, and now I've got Retrofit advisors peering at my activity and food logs and Skyping with me regularly.

It's taking a while -- a long while -- but slowly I'm making progress. I had to buy a dress this week because the two I had in my closet were too big. And I'm happy to say that in dresses at least, I'm the smallest size at Lane Bryant and Avenue.

One small victory yesterday -- I had to wake up early to take the kid to school and I was going straight to the gym after that. I wanted to get something in me before I worked out so I gulped down a cup of coffee and ate a Kit's Organic fruit and nut bar in the car on the way to the gym, totally violating my rule of "no food in the car."  After my workout, I grabbed a Greek yogurt while running an errand at Target.

So what's the victory? In the past I would overthink the whole thing -- I'd eat the bar as a "pre-breakfast snack" then workout and eat a regular breakfast, because that's what I'm supposed to do. Wednesday I called it a "split breakfast" and didn't label it pre-breakfast, breakfast or mid-morning snack.

It was just fueling before and after. No rules, just right. (Yes, I know it's the Outback Steakhouse slogan but I'm co-opting it to make my eating less neurotic.)

While I've been working on this post (it's taken a few days, then my blogging platform went down for a few days so I had extra time to stew), I came across a few outstanding items on the Internet.

The first was an article on, written by novelist Valerie Frankel, titled "4 Ways to Cure an Unhealthy Relationship With Food." Here's a little:

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be slim. But depriving yourself of crucial nutrients (or eating only a select few) — whether through cleanses, fasts or cutting out food groups — and pretending it's all for the good of your health is a dangerous game. Ironically, it can backfire and set off the "starve, binge, hate yourself" cycle that makes you gain weight instead.

I especially identified with Problem No. 1 -- being ruled by rules:

"Some people feel lost without structure," adds Mary Pritchard, PhD, professor in the department of psychology at Boise State University. "Walking into a restaurant or opening a fridge kicks off an algorithm of counting."

(Raises hand.)

 Another article at basically confirms what I've already known probably since I was 10 years old:

Food addicts often have the same impulsive personality traits that predispose people to abuse drugs and alcohol.

... The scientists also noticed an association between being food addicted and being unable to follow through on boring or challenging tasks, which would suggest that those suffering food addiction might have a hard time sticking with a diet or exercise plan.

(Oh, geez. Hand goes up again.)

And because I have jacked-up hunger hormones from decades of dieting, I'm particularly susceptible to feeling hungry all the time -- thanks, leptin!

The Men's Health article "8 Reasons You're Still Hungry -- Even After You Just Ate" explains the reason why you can't tame the hunger beast. Some of the reasons: dehydration, not eating a big enough breakfast, even -- get this -- cereal viscosity.

So, all that. Some rules but flexible rules. Food but not a lot of food. Good, normal, healthy food, not "anti-food" (I'm looking at you, ketchup). Keeping an eye on things, not playing human calorie calculator with everything you see. And following through, not dicking around.

I used to laugh at people who baked Quest bars until I tried it ...

(This is NOT a sponsored post. I bought the Quest bars with my own cash money -- but I did have a coupon.)

I've had a conflicted relationship with Quest bars over the years. I tried them when they first came out and had, uh, gastric issues with them. I also wasn't thrilled about the artificial sweeteners, which, frankly are in a lot of bars.


I revisited the bars a couple months ago. I was stuck at the mall and really hungry, so I ducked into a GNC and bought a Cinnamon Roll Quest bar, part of the line that is sweetened with stevia and erythritol. 

That bar and an iced green tea quelled the pangs and I was back to being a mall rat.

I happened upon a nice coupon to my local GNC, so I splurged on a box of Cinnamon Roll Quest bars

They're 170 calories and 20 grams of protein, so they're a great post-workout afternoon snack.

But today, after eating a bigger breakfast, I just wanted a small lunch so I grabbed a Quest bar out of the pantry. I've seen many bloggers baking or microwaving their Quest bars so I tried that today, and ... wow!

Baked cinnamon roll quest bar

Only 5 minutes in a 350-degree toaster oven and it got warm, soft, toasty and a little crisp around the edges. My toaster oven is a convection oven so I think that may have sped the browning process.

I really had no idea what to expect but it was great -- kind of like a snickerdoodle, but without all the bad "doodles."

'Do you think this is your fate?': A brain dump in 1 act

I had someone ask me the other day, after telling them my weight-loss life story:

"So do you think this is your fate?"

To which I replied:

Aw hell no

I mean, while heredity, age, thyroid function, tortilla chips, metabolism, prior dieting all figure into the equation, making things harder, there is no "This is my fate" towel throwing.

Although I am going to make an appointment with an endocrinologist because ...

This ish is ridic.

brb ...

Dang! Just tried to make an appointment with an endocrinologist but they only see HYPERthyroid people, not HYPO. What's up with that?

Anyhizzle ... (I'm listening to Snoop Dogg on Pandora.)

Losing weight isn't impossible, but for some of us, the weight doesn't just fall off, like it does in teevee commercials.

Who are these people who decide one day to lose weight, buy some broccoli and running shoes and -- boom! Fifty pounds gone.

(Sorry this is turning into a brain dump.)

So, getting back to the question at hand:

Fat is not my fate.

But, geez! I'm mad at the scale right now because I was going guns ablazin' then I stepped on the scale this week and GAINED 4 POUNDS, which must be in my toes or something because my clothes fit exactly the same. 

I delved deeper into my Withings scale stats to make sense of it and my fat mass dropped a bunch while my lean mass increased a lot, so maybe it's that, but still ... grrrr.

I'm just throwing this out to the universe:

I would like just for once to see some consistent weight loss for a few months. 

Review: BoomShop is not your Mama’s online store

Being of a certain age, I’m keenly aware of products, ads and websites geared toward Baby Boomers.

I have not fallen and yes, I can get up.

I also am not in need of elastic-waist clamdiggers, Velcro-strapped sneakers or jazzy canes.

So I liked what I saw when I headed over to The site has a clean design with sections geared toward home, kitchen, health, vision, nutrition, fitness, intimacy, sleep, on-the-go, and a sale section.

OK, yeah, they do have jazzy canes, but they also have weight benches, yoga tools and, ahem, intimacy devices.

Jillian-michaels-dumbbellsI like that the site is geared toward promoting wellness, not dealing with illness.

I got myself a new set of Jillian Michaels hand weights – very sleek and matchy-matchy, which is important when hand weights are part of your bedroom décor.

Aqua zingerAnd because drinking more water is an ongoing issue for me, I also ordered an Aqua Zinger, a stainless steel water bottle that allows you to infuse your drinking water with herbs, fruit or veggies. I threw some lemon, peppermint and cucumber in the bottom compartment, smushed them up a bit, screwed on the top compartment, added water and – voila! I like that all the parts easily come apart and that the bottle is stainless steel.

Want to check it out for yourself? Shipping was very speedy and orders over $50 get free shipping.

Even better, you can get a 15 percent discount with the coupon code 96121.

Disclosure: I was given a discount to shop at so I could tell all y’all about it.

tweak, tweak, tweak ...

Miley tweak twerk

... that's the sound of my Retrofit advisor and me tweaking my eating plan.

While a few weeks ago, I took a flying leap off my stubborn plateau, my weight has, ahem, stabilized again lately and we're looking for ways to get the fat loss going again.

Sometimes I feel like I'm chipping away at a concrete wall with a shrimp fork.

But chip away I will.

The calorie level is fine -- 400 at each meal with two 200-calorie snacks. But she suggested that since I'm hypothyroid we limit starches to the daylight hours -- breakfast only if I'm feeling especially virtuous.

Apparently, people who are hypothyroid can have issues with grains. It's more complicated than metabolizing them or utilizing them. To get ridiculously scientific on y'all, it's impaired glycogenolysis from the skeletal muscle, or something like that. (Once again, I'm not a doctor, just a nerd with a journalism degree.)

So, yay, big salads! 

Don't get me wrong -- these are great salads, full of lean protein and healthy fats. I jokingly call them my "fatty, fat, fat salads" because I can add an avocado half, some kalamata olives and a can of olive oil-packed tuna to the pile of leafy greens and other nonstarchy vegetables and barely get over 350 calories.

I don't miss the starches at all as long as I have avocados!

(I loooove avocados.)

I use the Florida variety for smoothies and the California one for everything else. Florida avocados are just too watery and sweet for things like guacamole but they're aces in smoothies. I keep a bag of frozen Florida avocado chunks in a bag in the freezer to plop into smoothies. 

Remember back in the day when avocados were "OMG-so-fattening"? We'd avoid them while stuffing our faces with nacho cheese rice cakes. So glad we've straightened that misconception out. Fat does not make you fat (unless it's caressing a french fry).

In addition to healthy fats, avocados are also loaded with fiber and even have some protein.

I haven't weighed myself yet, but my ab area is feeling smaller, despite the lingering PMS (TMI? This is a blog, so deal...), so I'm sorta kinda looking forward to getting on the scale this week.

Crazy, huh?