Helen

I firmly believe everything is an ebb and flow…much like the waves in the ocean. Good things wash ashore and give the beach the sacrifices of the ocean. I often wonder when I see a shell how far it traveled to get to shore. Miles? Yards? Feets?

 

So when you think of an ebb and flow, you must honor the fact there is good and bad. Positive and Negative.

I think I have been ebbing for quite sone time. Feeling pretty good about myself. Somewhat invincible. 

Today was the flow. Helen.

I feel defeated. Shaken. Disappointed in my body.

 

 

But instead of focusing on the negative, I will focus on the positive.

Today reaffirmed my choice in gyms.

Thank you Jenna for running the end with me. Thank you for helping me find my breathe. And thank you for not talking, so I didn’t cry.

Thank you Dan for running with me too until the end.

Thank you Tim for meeting me at the landing of the stairs.

And thank you to the whole class that stayed with me and counted with me and cheered me on. 

 

Even though I came in dead last.

 

I found my breath. I finished. 

 

Always finish what you started…

 

 

 

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Re-Invent

I have been doing a lot of cooking again now that the holidays are packed up for a year(well the tree is still up, but only because it literally has been to cold to walk it to the trash!). And last week, I was able to stretch one WHOLE ROASTER CHICKEN in to 4 separate meals. I’m pretty proud of that! Here’s how I did it:

1. I made this Moroccan roasted chicken from a Williams Sonoma Cookbook. All you do is make a paste with some olive oil and spices, and run it on the bird and bake it. We roasted the chicken with cauliflower, red onion and sweet potato. Seems like an old vegetable combo, but it works!!! Trust me!

2. We has so much left over chicken, and we also freeze that extra container of rice they give you with Chinese food, so I thawed on out, cut up the extra chicken, and made THE BEST chicken fried rice ever. I’ll post the recipe next blog.

3. Think again before throwing out that carcass- there’s chicken stock to be made! And this stock has the subtle flavor of the Moroccan spices in it, so there is a ton of depth. I used some of the broth for a butternut squash stuffing the recipe called for.

4. There was lots of stock left over. I could have frozen it for a later date, but the weather was sooooo cold, chicken soup was a must. I had baked some chicken breasts, and sautéed some veggies and in an hour- soup!

In the end, all of these dished took, at most, 30 minutes to prepare for. And many of the ingredients were basic staples in the home- garlic, onion, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, spices, etc. I won’t say this happens every week, and that a little thinking ahead didn’t happen, but this can work with all sorts of things- pasta, sauces, casseroles…endless possibilities! Here’s my advice- start with a dish you REALLY want…and then go from there. Satisfying the urge to eat what you really want first, so that everything else is like a bonus.

I have realized from my eating changes that when you force yourself to like something, you’ll never like it. So if it’s chicken park you want, make that sauce! But bread the chicken in almond flour, or even ground oats. USe spaghetti squash instead of pasta. The reason you like that dish so much anyway is the sauce- it’s the strongest flavor of the dish. So cut 500 calories out of the rest of it- I swear you won’t taste the difference!

15 Days of Christmas Cookies- Day 1

Last year I did this and it was quite a hit. So of course, I must deliver and bake 15 batches of cookies before the big day!!!! Some will be new, some will be old, but either way my Kitchenaid Mixer has been training all year for this event!!!! I will admit that I’ve already started…

This year is a little different though. I’ve made some lifestyle changes, and can honestly say I probably won’t be eating any of these cookies- although the biscotti gets me every time!!!! I know many of my followers are health conscious, so along with each cookie post, I will also add a health tip keep us all in check this holiday-eating season. I know that for people that struggle with weight and dieting despise this time of year…I’m one of them! However, there are so many GOOD choices we can make each day to at the very least MAINTAIN our weight during this time.

Today is the first real snow of the season. School’s closed, and I’m going to bake my little heart out. There is nothing I love more than sipping coffee with a biscotti and watching the snow from the couch. The tree is lit, the Yankee Candles are burning. You can’t get more Christmas than this…

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So to kick this countdown off, I’m going to start with the biscotti. This year I’m making my usual Pistachio Cranberry and a new one- Chocolate Malted Milk Biscotti. Last year I didn’t care for the gingerbread as much and I found it lingered in the house for a while. The new ones are definitely not sticking around!!!!!

Chocolate Malted Milk Biscotti

(as seen in Better Homes and Gardens 2012 Christmas Cookie Magazine)

1 3/4 C Flour

3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 C malted milk poweder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3 eggs

1/4 C butter, melted

1 C sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 C coarsely chopped malted milk balls

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, malted milk powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until the dough starts to form a ball. Stir in malted milk balls and chocolate chips (dough will be crumbly). Knead the dough until it comes together.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half and shape each half into a 10 inch log. Place the logs onto the parchment paper and flatten the logs so they are 2″ wide. The logs should be 3″ apart from each other.

4. Bake for 25 minted. Cool on cookie sheet on a wire rock for at least an hour.

5. Transfer flattened rolls to a cutting board and slice rolls diagonally about 1/2 inch thick. Place slices cut side down back onto parchment paper and bake for 8 minutes. Take out of oven, flip, and bake for another 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Biscotti will crisp as they cool.

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

( As seen in Christmas Cookies: 50 Recipes to Treasure for the Holiday Season by Lisa Zwirn)

3 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)

1 1/4 cup shelled pistachios (do not chop)

1 cup dried cranberries ( I use Cherry Craisins)

1. preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper

2. In a medium bowl whisk the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking powder together.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until creamy. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat until fully blended. Beat in eggs, the vanilla and orange zest. On low speed, mix the flour mixture just until the dough starts to clump together. Mix in the pistachios and cranberries. Using your hands or rubber spatula, gather the dough into a ball and divide in half.

4. With lightly floured hands, form each half of dough in to a log that is 13″ by 2.5.” Make sure each log is 3 inches apart.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the sheet from front to back (I never do this! :P) halfway through baking, or until the loaves are golden and the top feels firm when gently pressed. Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Reduce the temp of the oven to 325F.

6. Peel the loaves off the parchment and slice them diagonally on a cutting board. Be sure to use a SHARP serrated knife, as the loaves are crumbly. Slice the cookies 3/4 inch thick. Place them back on the cookie sheet, cut sides up. Put back into oven for 10 minutes. Flip cookies to other side and bake for another 10 minutes.

7. Take out and transfer to wire cooling rack. Cool for about 20 minutes. They keep for 2 weeks. If they get a little soft, you can perk them up in a 350F toaster oven for 5 minutes.

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***Healthy Tip

If you’re GOING to eat a cookie, or two, or three…be sure to take a brisk walk- around 30 minutes. Or maybe clean a room. You will burn off what you just ate.

Coca Cola et al.

Have you seen this commercial yet?

What do think about this?

Many people will find this as a company being responsible- without saying it outright, Coca Cola is basically saying Coke is major cause in obesity. And in some regards I could respect that- except that’s only half the problem. What they’re promoting instead are their “180” beverages that are low or no calorie. Because God-forbid Coca Cola looses money off this.

Do you think this is being responsible? On one side of the coin, they are finally admitting that their product does have high amounts of sugar in them and is a major contributor to obesity.

But Coca Cola has been around for 100 years….. why NOW is it part of the obesity problem? Why not 50 years ago? Even 20 years ago….

I got really mad when Mayor Bloomberg in NYC tried to ban super sized soda in the city. His intentions were good, but the approach was all wrong. Instead of just banning large sodas, why not use that money for education instead of lobbying?

Is the problem really the food?

I’m sure everyone saw the documentary “Supersize Me.” Or at least heard of it. If not here’s a link. After watching that, I vowed that fast food was the reason everyone was getting fat-including me-even though fast food was never really part of my diet to begin with. Growing up, fast food was a treat. It was something we had only when my mom was sick with a cold and couldn’t cook, on a road trip or at a birthday party (having your birthday party at McDonald’s in the 80s meant you were the coolest kid in the world BTW). Even when I got old enough to make and purchase food on my own, I never let fast food become the forefront of my diet.

And then I saw Fat Head. This documentary has the same idea as Supersize Me, but the goal was to debunk the notion that fast food companies are to blame for our obesity epidemic. And it did.

And there lies the problem:

WE ARE MAKING BAD CHOICES. NO ONE IS TO BLAME BUT US.

Not that I’m letting fast food companies off the hook. They aren’t truthful with their nutrition facts, they lobby the FDA to design the food pyramid to boost consumption of corn and wheat to profit agribusiness, they pump up their serving sizes to make you eat more so you buy more…it’s bad. However, none of these companies tie you down and force the food in your mouth! And I’ll save the whole GMO debate for another time.

So even though I want to be mad a Coca Cola for putting out these healthy commercials- because NOTHING they produce is healthy- including their zero calorie drinks (another blog), I can’t be. They’re doing something responsible- they are educating people. And they really don’t have to.

Snow Days

With every endeavor comes challenges. I guess when one makes a lifestyle change, anything out of the ordinary brings a new road block. It’s up to you to decide to jump over it or stay where you are and go back- only to never know what lies ahead.

I felt this way when I had the flu a couple weeks ago. Could I get through without bread? And I did…

Snow days are also a time when I want to bake and snack and my culinary goddess is alive and well. And again, I jumped over the hurdle and kept running!

Yesterday I tried to hit up this gluten free bakery for the second time. However their hours suck! and they weren’t open. I REALLY wanted a cupcake. I made gluten free ones from a mix- I really need to try and find a recipe. This sh@t is expensive!!!!!!!!!

This morning I made a quiche with a sausage crust. I got the recipe from Paleomg.com. I love this girl Juli. I wish I was as creative as she is. She rocks! This afternoon I’m going to bake her Chai muffins.

So diet…I kicked your snow day ass!!!!

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White Bean and Escarole Soup

Day 5- Hanging tough! First day back at work, and dreaming of spring break already… cuz Baby It’s COLD Outside!!!!!!

What wouldn’t be better than a hot soup and some crusty bread? Well, I’ll just be having hot soup…

White Bean and Escarole Soup

1- yellow onion with a coarse chop

2- heads escarole loosely chopped

2- cans while cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2- cloves of garlic smashed

8- cups of beef or chicken broth**

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1-2 parmesan cheese rinds (can be purchased at supermarket)

salt and pepper to taste

1. Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and turn heat to medium.

2. Add onion and red pepper flakes and saute until the onion is translucent.

3. Add escarole and let escarole wilt down, but still remain that bright green color

4. When the escarole is wilted, but still is bright green, quickly add the stock.

5. Add two cans of cannellini beans.

6. Add the parmesan rinds, but be careful about adding salt, since the rinds will eventually release salt( I add salt toward the end for that reason).

7. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about 45min to an hour.

8. Sprinkle fresh parmesan cheese on top and serve with crusty bread.

*There’s a few modifications you could add if you want. like small turkey meatballs or even a can of diced tomatoes.

** A quick and easy broth is to throw some chicken bones or necks into a pot with some celery, carrots, onion, parsnip and parsley. Boil for an hour or so.

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Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

A lot of my friends on Facebook, and some of Mike’s, have asked for this recipe after posting a picture of it for dinner one night. I can honestly say it is ONE of the best meals I’ve ever had. And the hardest part is chopping the vegetables, I swear! I can’t take credit for it though. It’s a recipe I got from Cooking Light Magazine, which if you don’t subscribe to, you should. I love EVERYTHING about that magazine, especially the editor’s note. Scott Mowbray has an amazing way of setting the tone of the recipes in every issue much like setting the tone for a epic novel. It’s simple, eloquent and always hits home for me. 

Anyway, here’s the recipe as promised! Let me know your thoughts!

Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

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