Previous month:
June 2014
Next month:
August 2014

July 2014

From Carol: Meal delivery from my sister?

Hey, remember when I called this blog Shrinking Sisters? Here's one from my sister, Carol, who will be weighing in every Monday, because I'm making her food.


Staring me right in the eyes. Mentally, I'm ready; already started my membership to AARP, wearing reading glasses, inordinate numbers of "non-pigmented" hair appearing on my scalp. But physically, I'm not where I want to be.

Chef gail delivering foodMy "diet" has always been, well, very unplanned. Unlike my sister, Gail, I do not plan my meals. If I remember to take something out of the freezer for dinner the next night, that's a big deal. I want to eat well and that requires thought.

When Gail told me she was test-driving another food-delivery meal plan, I was jealous. How awesome would it be to have meals magically appear at your door! No thinking, no prepping. Just eating! But those programs are always cost prohibitive for me. With Gail bring an amateur chef, I posed this to her: When cooking for her family of 3, why not throw another serving in, pack it up in a reusable container and do the cooking for me?

I suggested lunches and dinners, and I'm looking forward to what this could bring me.

Yoga Saturday: Baladea Calm, with Holly Perkins

Yes, it's technically Sunday on the East Coast and I am up way too late, but wanted to get in the review of my workout, which actually wasn't a workout at all. 

Some months back I bought the very lovely and expansive Baladea fitness and wellness system. I don't even remember how I found out about it but I was entranced by its orange and pink color scheme and its "girls day at the spa" vibe.

The set consists of 8 DVDs, which includes interval training, strength training, aerobic dance, another slower dance DVD, power yoga, yoga and relaxation. It also comes with an eating plan, recipes and a resistance band.

I thought I popped in the yoga DVD, but it was actually Calm -- which is done flat on your back, eyes closed in corpse pose.

But I needed it, since I worked out hard the past two days and was sore as heck. I took the opportunity to slowly stretch my wound-up neck muscles to the left and right during the 20-minute DVD. 

I also did what you're not supposed to do and opened my eyes so I could see what was going on. The images in the DVD are lovely -- women in coordinating yoga outfits on orange yoga mats beside an outdoor pool with a firepit and flickering candles. Very spa-like. But you'll never know since your eyes are supposed to be closed during the practice. So now you know.

There was lots of deep breathing, lots of exultations to "let it go" (and not in the shrieking Disney way) and lots of visualizations, which I really liked. 

Holly Perkins leads all the workouts and her friendly, calm persona was nice to follow while my eyes were shut.

I really need to explore the whole Baladea set.

Strawberry-Banana Cheesecake Smoothie

Strawberry banana cheesecake smoothie labeled
It's no secret that I love smoothies of all stripes, and my goal is to come up with ways to pack in as many nutrients as possible without breaking the calorie bank or having to resort to protein powder. 

Friendship cottage cheeseDon't get me wrong, I love me some protein powder. A large swath of my pantry is devoted to tubs and bags of protein.

But I had bought a tub of low-sodium cottage cheese (yes, it exists!) so I thought it would work great in a smoothie. Friendship makes the cottage cheese, and as a bonus it's also higher in protein than most cottage cheeses (16 grams per half-cup serving). Though it's not a salty tasting food per se, regular cottage cheese is surprisingly high in sodium, and this low-sodium variety feels more like ricotta cheese than lumpy cottage cheese.

Wymans strawberriesI figured the cottage cheese would make a great cheesecake-like base for a smoothie, so I grabbed my bag of Wyman's frozen strawberries (I talked to the Wyman's folks at BlogHer Food and they were generous with their coupons) and went to work. I like Wyman's frozen berries because they're less humongous than other brands of frozen fruit so they're more flavorful and less like fruity ice cubes.

I ended up with a thick and creamy Strawberry-Banana Cheesecake Smoothie that packs in a fair amount of protein and fiber without a lot of calories.

You'll find that I add half a frozen banana to pretty much all my smoothies -- they really help thicken the smoothie and they add sweetness without having to add much sweeteners.

Strawberry-Banana Cheesecake Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries, slightly thawed
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup Friendship no-salt-added cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave
  • Crushed ice, if you still have room in your blender cup

Blend and enjoy!

Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition information: 273 calories, 4 grams fat, 1.6 grams saturated fat, 124 milligrams sodium, 41 grams carbohydrates, 4.4 grams fiber, 28 grams sugars, 21 grams protein.

If you'd like to read more recipes from me as well as other fun contributors, check out Shrinking Kitchen. I contribute a couple times a month.

Giveaway! Using my other noodle, the Veggetti kind


(It's noodles! From zucchini! So they're zoodles!)

Long zoodles

I amuse easily.

Because this made me giggle -- long, neverending strings of zucchini that I made with a Veggetti, which turns vegetables into noodly things.

Last summer I bought myself a spiralizer, but the Veggetti is much easier to use, store and clean. It's also small enough to stash in a drawer. You can toss it in the dishwasher, too, just be careful of the blades inside. 

The zucchini noodles I made were made on the thick side of the Veggetti. There's also a thinner side for making angel hair-sized noodles.

The thinner side works great with carrots, which work better in their raw state, for salads and sandwich toppings.

The first time I tried it, it didn't work well because my zucchini wasn't big enough.

Thats what she said

All jokes aside, the Veggetti works better with bigger vegetables so they can get a better connection with the blade.

And you end up with cool, cone-shaped leftovers!

The Veggetti also comes with a protective holder that you attach to the short end of the vegetable and a recipe booklet.

Vegetti remains

So what do you do with zucchini noodles? First off, you need to sweat out their extra moisture, or your dish will end up watery. Just stick 'em in a large skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes to steam off that moisture.

I put two zucchinis worth of noodles in a ceramic dish, covered them a cup of marinara sauce and 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella and made kind of a baked spaghetti pie.

Since the zucchini was cooked from steaming out the moisture, I baked it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until the cheese started to bubble and brown.

Zucchini veggetti pie

(There are zucchini noodles hiding under all that.)

Want to win your own Veggetti plus a $25 Visa card to buy all the zucchini you want? Then check out the Rafflecopter below and do as it says!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: The Veggetti, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Ontel.

Before I can inspire anyone else, I need to inspire myself

I really, really, really want to be a weight-loss success story. As in DONE, maintaining, happy weight success story.

I have done a great job of losing nearly 30 pounds but it has taken 16 years to do that.

(Holy crap, I don't think I've ever written that before.)

That's really slow, isn't it?

This past year I got down to "pre-baby weight" and have stayed at that number for a couple of months now. I am assuming that this is a weight that my body is very comfortable with. 

But I'm not comfortable with it, because it's 235 pounds and I am not 6-foot-8.

I have a very realistic target weight -- 199.9. All I want to be is below 200. Then, when I get there, I'll reassess. 

I have admittedly been kind of half-assed about my food and exercise, despite the fact that I have been faithfully logging NEARLY everything on My Fitness Pal, drinking MORE water and working out three times a week at the gym, once a week at Jazzercise and OCCASIONALLY on Thursdays and Saturdays at home.




Kind of half-assed words, aren't they? 

What doesn't make it onto My Fitness Pal? Oh, the stuff on the spoons, a couple slices of turkey breast (hey, it's pure protein!), a few almonds, a gulp of kefir, etc.

Et cetera et cetera et cetera

More water is good, but it's really not a lot -- it probably comes out to about two-thirds of what I should be drinking. The water bottle I bring to the gym needs to be empty by the time I get home.

The days I'm not at the gym need to be my cardio days. I work from home, and if I don't do any exercise, I'm barely moving -- not good. That Jazzercise Groupon I bought gets me 20 Jazzercise sessions, which is great but I can't slack off on Thursdays. I totally can carve out time for a workout, be it 30 minutes or an hour. I'm good with my Yoga Saturdays because I committed to it for the blog.

I dabbled with carb cycling but I could never remember if it was my higher or lower day, so I set that plan aside. I want to make this whole process less "crazy making" so I went back to my pal Robert Ferguson's Diet Free Life system, because ultimately, don't we all want to be diet free?

I think better planning is going to help me get the ball rolling faster downward. Last night I prepped dinner for tonight -- everything is in the fridge. Plus I pre-logged my food on a sheet of paper so I know what to grab the rest of the day. And I got new running shoes over the weekend so I'm going to push myself a little harder at the gym today.

And not be so half assed.

Yoga Saturday: Yoga for Surfers Presents Baby on Board

Prenatal-yogavideo-coverYes, I know it's a prenatal yoga DVD, and no, I'm not pregnant. But Baby on Board Prenatal Yoga (Yoga for Surfers, $29.95) has been sitting in my office awhile and the cover was so darn cute I just wanted to give it a try. 

And I'm glad I did. Aside from the pregnant belly stuff that totally did not pertain to me, the 25-minute Energizing Sequence was a nice and easy practice that was practically all done standing. Most of the moves come out of mountain pose, and there's even a little aerobic action -- mind you just a little.

Yoga for Surfers creator Peggy Hall does the intro and the voiceover instruction as fellow instructor Melinda Ferriera does the actual yoga. 

Melinda uses a pile of beach towels for a couple of moves, but if you're not pregnant, you probably won't need them, as it's OK for us non preggos to lie on our backs.

You can't beat the scenery on the DVD -- it's all palm trees and beachy structures, and it's nicely shot.

In addition to the Energizing Sequence, there's also a 25-minute Soothing Sequence that's done on the floor, as well as yoga breathing to ease discomfort, and a meditation sequence that's geared toward moms-to-be.

The last (and only time) I was pregnant was in the late 1990s, and I wish I had something like this when I was carrying the kid. It's a nice little vacation for the body and mind.

Fresh Meal Plan review: You had me at 'pork waffle'

FMP fontina pork waffle

See that magificent creation? That, my friends, is "diet food," more specifically, it's a Fontina BLT Pork Waffle from The Fresh Meal Plan, a meal-delivery service available in South Florida and Orlando.

I had the opportunity to try out a few days of the plan this week and I was pretty happy (and satiated) with the three days of meals.

The nice thing about the plan is that you don't have to commit to a large, expensive plan. You can get two meals a day on a five-day plan for $79 a week, which is a good idea if all you want is someone to make you lunches and dinners. There are 5, 6 and 7-day plans and you can go all the way up to three meals and three snacks a day if you really want to make it a no-brainer. The maxed-out plan is $270 a week but you really won't have to buy any groceries at all. This isn't one of those plans where they ask you do supplement with your own produce or dairy products -- everything is included.

And even if you're doing the two-meal plan, you can still add on snacks or desserts if they strike your fancy, and if you do, may I suggest the Fontina BLT Pork Waffle. It's listed as a snack but I ate it for lunch this week and it was fantastic. It's basically pulled pork and cheese on a waffle with lettuce and tomato, all for around 300 calories.

The plan features free-range chicken, wild-caught fish, grass-fed bison and natural meats, and, as I found, the vegetables and fruits are equally fresh. I chose meals from the traditional plan, but there also are vegetarian and Paleo plans, if you're so inclined (but you won't be getting any pork waffles -- just sayin').

FMP sample day

Above is a sampling of what you'll eat on a typical day. Clockwise from top left is a breakfast pizza made with potatoes, cheese, eggs and turkey bacon on a thick foccacia-like base, a big turkey meatball with marinara sauce over pasta with garlic bread and spinach, a couple of gluten-free, Paleo snickerdoodles (all the desserts are Paleo and gluten free) and chicken with paella rice.

Truth be told, while the snickerdoodles were good, I'd prefer to have a more protein-rich afternoon snack. I also sampled a hazelnut cupcake and a blackberry bar. There was a little dessert labeled "Twix bar" but it was nearly 200 calories and I didn't feel like it was worth the calories. 

But the meals were all definite winners. I would heat them in my microwave in their BPA-free containers and then transfer the meals to a plate. Whether you're doing meal delivery or frozen meals, don't eat them out of the plastic container -- it's just a much better dining experience.

A couple other meals that were worth raving about:

FMP blueberry french toast eggwich

This is a blueberry French toast eggwich. I would have never thought to put egg whites, mozzarella cheese and turkey sausage between two pieces of French toast but it totally works. It's topped with fresh berries and nuts and comes with a couple of orange wedges.

FMP bison burgerAt right is a bison burger topped with cheese and served on a pita half with arugula and potato wedges, for around 400 calories. The burger was big and juicy and the arugula had a nice kick. It was a great lunch.

And as you can see, there's not a salad to be found. It's not stereotypical diet food. In fact, the company serves as the official pre-and post-game meal provider for the Miami Dolphins, and they work nutritionally with some of the players on and off season. They also work with Orangetheory Fitness and I AM CrossFit, the largest CrossFit group in South Florida.

Along with the meals, snacks and desserts, they also have a line of organic cold-pressed juices, which you can add to your meal plan. I tried the Beet Down, a mix of apple, beet, carrot, ginger and lemon, and the Green Power, a blend of kale, cucumber, apple, romaine lettuce, spinach, parsley, celery and lemon. Both juices were great -- the beet one was definitely sweeter than the green one, but the green one had a nice balance -- not too sweet, not too "lawn-clippy." 

So there you have it. My philosophy on meal-delivery services is that they're great if you're single or want to bring a healthy, balanced meal (or two) to work every day. It's a little trickier if you're in a family setting because you end up making meals for everyone and eating your own food. But it's also good if you want to jumpstart your healthy eating for a few days and want to reset your brain as to portion size and meal ideas.

Disclosure: I was provided three days' of meals from The Fresh Meal Plan. All opinions are my own. And I love BLT pork waffles.