Thursday, April 29, 2010

Recipe Exchange

This is the time of year that I eat my weight in asparagus. OK -- I'm exaggerating, but I sure do love those tender stalks.

So much so, that this is the second time this spring that I am writing about asparagus. But that's only because I have a recipe to share, one from the South Beach diet, that is really quite amazing. I'm also including a recipe for Kale Chips, which my lifestyles coach Heather Pierce reminded me are the best crunchy snack on the planet. The third recipe comes from cookbook author/food writer Ronnie Fein.


1 Tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 1/2 lbs.asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
4 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
4 tsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Heat oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add onion, garlic, and asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Do not brown.
  • Add broth, bring to a simmer, and cook until asparagus is just tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and carefully puree with a blender or hand blender. Return to the pan, gently reheat, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle each serving with some freshly grated Parmesan.
  • Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 90 calories; 2g fat; 12g carbohydrate; 9g protein; 4g dietary fiber; 170mg sodium.
1 bunch kale
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a non-insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut off the thick stems of the kale, then tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Wash and dry kale pieces.
  • Sprinkle kale with olive oil and sea salt.
  • Bake about 20 minutes, until kale is crispy.
About the next recipe, Ronnie Fein writes: "I love fish. I am one of those people who actually likes all those fishy fish, like bluefish and mackerel. I think they've gotten a bad rap over the years and people won't even try them! But not only are they delicious, they aren't mercury-laden and most are cheap, probably because of low demand. I would urge you and everyone who follows your blog to try this "sort of recipe" (like yours, it doesn't have to be measured).
Place some bluefish filets on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a small amount of olive oil, lots of lemon juice and some salt and pepper, cover with chopped tomatoes, chopped celery, onions if you like, and some bread crumbs. I also add some fresh chopped dill. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes. This is really good, really healthy and really cheap. Goes great with a baked potato and sauteed spinach.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pick of the Week: Garlic

Six weeks ago I began exploring 13 super foods, identified by Today, it's all about garlic, perhaps the most super of all foods. It is an ingredient I am never without, and one I use practically every day.

Everyday Health chose garlic, pointing to research that shows that garlic lowers total cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels, which helps prevent clogged arteries. The site also suggests that just two to three cloves a day cut the odds of future heart attacks in half for heart disease patients. In addition, garlic also tops the National Cancer Institute's list of potential cancer-preventive foods. Whole baked garlic helps detoxify the body of heavy metals like mercury (from fish) and cadmium. Garlic also acts as an antibacterial and antiviral, boosting resistance to stress-induced colds and infections.

A few years ago, Sal Gilbertie, owner of Gilbertie's Herb Farm in Westport, CT, told me I should only buy organic garlic, because garlic grows under the ground, which makes it a sponge for pesticide absorption. I decided to believe Sal, and since that day, I only buy organic garlic. It's easy to find, and since garlic is pretty inexpensive, I think it's worth the extra money. I never buy elephant garlic, because I find the flavor too mild. But if garlic is not to your liking, try the elephant. In this case, the big elephant cloves are gentle giants.

Store: I used to have a garlic keeper, but it broke in our last move. I store mine in a basket, at room temperature, and it keeps for a long time. I rarely have to throw out a bulb.

1 head garlic
2 Tblsp. olive oil
  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  • Slice 1/4 inch off the top of the garlic bulb. Place in a small baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven, and after 20 minutes, check bulb: The outside should be nicely browned and the garlic cloves should be soft.
  • Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, squeeze each clove to extract the garlic. Use it as a spread for bread.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dressed just right!

When most of us watch our weight, we find ourselves eating salads. And let's be honest: Greens, cukes, peppers, carrots and tomatoes make terrific salad ingredients, but a steady diet of this salad would send most of us reaching for the bag of chips after a week or two.

But add some fruit -- apples, oranges, grapefruit -- nuts, scallions, red onion and ginger , and the salad becomes extraordinary. It's just missing one thing: A delicious dressing. I usually make my own, although I do love Newman's Own's low-fat dressings. There's one to match any of my moods. I avoid dressings with trans fat, and look for ones made with either olive, nut or canola oils. I'm also watching my sugar load, and have discovered that many low-fat or nonfat dressings are loaded with sugar. I avoid these.

Years ago, I devised a dressing that I use all the time. No proportions -- I just keep tasting as I prepare a batch, which I make in the food processor. The ingredients: dark sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, orange juice, garlic cloves, a bit of mustard and some ginger root.

My other favorite is a simple mix of Sherry vinegar and olive oil with a sprinkling of herbes de provence. Yummy. Or balsamic and olive oil, with or without garlic and mustard.

And one more trick: Never pour the dressing on your salad. Instead, put it into a cup, and dip your fork tines into the dressing before spearing your greens. This method will give you more than enough flavor, but so many less calories!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Glorious cheese!

I love cheese. I also know that to lose weight, I can't eat as much of it as I want.

So I grate or shred cheese, Into my salads, my morning egg-white omelet, or to perk up roasted vegetables. What is absolutely fantastic about cheese is that a little goes a long way -- as long as you use cheeses with full flavor. All my graters/shredders are made by Microplane, and come in all shapes and sizes, from the no-nonsense version that resembles a carpenter's rasp, to the box grater, which sports holes from fine to coarse.

Of course, if I am pressed for time, I but already shredded cheese. It's hard to imagine that in the not-so-distant past, those packages of shredded cheese did not exist.

But my biggest problem with pre-packaged cheese is that I use so little, the cheese in the bag often turns into a chemistry experiment. But there is a solution: Store it in the freezer and use what you need without defrosting, because cheese defrosts and melts so quickly. What could be easier? Cheese will keep in the freezer up to six months.

And now for the simplest breakfast or lunch in the world: Spray a saute pan with spray cooking oil, place a flour tortilla in the pan, and heat it up a bit. Sprinkle with cheese -- I like a mix of Cheddar and Jack. For a bit of heat, add a few chopped slices jalapeno peppers. Fold in half and heat until melted. Serve with salsa.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pick of the Week: Fish or fish oil

When it comes to fish, I could devote 52 weeks to the subject. But since I am exploring Everyday's Health 13 most powerful foods weekly in Pick, and have just one week, today I look at fish in general.

We eat fish at least three times a week. Because I am concerned about mercury levels, I avoid those with high levels -- shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and albacore tuna. (Chunk light tuna is okay.) Check out a list on the FDA's Web site:

I also avoid farm raised varieties, because of higher PCB levels. I also like the taste of wild-caught fish better, simply because they taste fresh, not fishy.

The reason Everyday Health picked fish is because it can cut the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, stroke, diabetes and arthritis. Fatty varieties also may help alleviate depression -- but those are usually the one with the higher mercury levels.

Thinking too much really does make you nuts.

Anyway, the American Heart Association recommends that adults eat at least two fish meals a week, especially wild salmon, herring and sardines, because they are the ones that have lots of omega 3s. If you dislike fish, fish oil supplements can be substituted, but it's important to look for reliable and trustworthy sources so you know it is pure.

And one more note about fish: We just joined Costco, and am amazed by the quality and freshness of the fish this warehouse sells. Really terrific. In fact, the recipe that follows is one Costco was using a few weeks ago, to tempt shoppers to buy haddock. Simple, very easy, and it works well with any white fish. Sorry -- no measurements. It's all done to your taste.

Firm white fish, such as haddock, sole or flounder
Garlic infused olive oil
Granulated garlic
Mrs. Dash's seasoning
  • Place fish in oven-proof dish.
  • Lightly drizzle with garlic-infused olive oil.
  • Sprinkle lightly with granulated garlic
  • Sprinkle lightly with Mrs. Dash's seasoning.
  • Allow fish to marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, or at room temperature about 10 minutes.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
Told you it's easy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Snack attacks

I love snacks. Even when I am eating a terrific, good-for-you one, snacks make me feel less deprived. They also keep me from over-eating a meals.

The past few weeks I have started eating two little breakfasts, which easily get me through to 1 p.m. before I even start thinking about lunch. Right after I exercise in the morning, I scramble an egg white with a tiny bit of low-fat cheese. On my hour drive to work, I drink a cup of coffee and a smoothie: 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk, mixed with 1 scoop Jay Robb's whey protein, and about a cup of frozen fruit.

Lunch is always a salad, with some black beans added for protein. It's a 4 p.m. snack that's in need of some help. I've tried a stick of string cheese, but it's too soft, and goes down way to fast. I also tried 1/4 cup of almonds, but my daily nut allowance is better spent tossed into my new nightly dessert: sliced strawberries, a touch of balsamic, and a dollop of nonfat Cool Whip.

Vegetables really do work best, especially super crunchy ones such as celery, carrots or fennel. But that can get boring. So I think I'll add a yogurt-based dip with lots of dill and garlic. Or even some salsa, to spice things up.

Obviously, I need some help, and am open to suggestions. I'm trying to keep my snack at about 100 calories, which if low in fat, translates into 2 Weight Watchers Points.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Need this!

Remember life before the Internet, when research was done in libraries, and a set of encyclopedias on your bookcase were as common as today's Kindle. When we have a question now, we reach for our smartphones or laptops for instant gratification.

And because of the Internet I get all types of e-mails about diets, exercise and losing weight. Most I discard, but every now and then I get something that I think is interesting enough to repost. And recently, I've gotten quite a few about breaking up exercise into small manageable sessions daily. Five minutes here, 10 minutes there. It was also part of a recent Weight Watchers discussion.

For me, this makes sense. Although I'm beginning to enjoy exercise, finding an hour stretch every day is sometimes impossible. But in the morning, I can always find 6 minutes to do the Shake Weight exercises -- one of my middle-of-the-night purchases that I am not allowing to gather dust. At night, if I am really exhausted, marching in place during a TV commercial break is not as daunting as putting in a 45-minute walking tape. And if I start walking during a commercial, chances are I might continue the march into the show. It's getting off the couch that is the real challenge.

I've begun parking at the far end of lots, because those added steps into the store do add up. If I am going to the mall, I park in a spot as far away from the store I am headed for, and sometimes even take an added lap or two around the mall. In grocery stores, I used to get so angry at myself if I forgot an item and had to backtrack. Now, I'm actually happy when I have some backtracking, because that means lots of extra steps.

My goal each day is to reach 10,000 steps on my pedometer. It's become a game for me, a way to challenge myself that's actually fun.

What follows is a list posted last week on, which offers 10 fat-burning tips for people on the go. Here are some of the ones I'm hoping to incorporate into my pattern from time to time to keep things interesting.

1. When you first wake up, commit to 10 minutes of continuous exercise. Choose only three movements and perform each in succession without stopping for 10 minutes. For example, you can perform modified push-ups on Monday, followed by crunches for your abs followed by stationary lunges. On Tuesday, you can perform free-standing squats with hands on hips, double crunches for abs and close-grip modified push-ups (hands 3-inches apart) for your triceps.

2. Perform timed interval walking in your neighborhood or at lunch. If it takes 10 minutes to walk to a certain destination near your office or in your neighborhood, try to make it in eight minutes. You can also do this first thing in the morning before work as well as on your lunch break.

3. If you have stairs in your home or in your work place, commit to taking the stairs a specific number of times. Tell yourself that you’ll take the stairs six or eight times (no matter what).

4. . Double-up the stairs. Every time you take the stairs, simply take a double step or every other stair. It will be just like lunges and the Stairmaster combined. Great for the legs and butt.

5. While seated, perform some isometric exercise to help strengthen and tighten your muscles. For example, while in a seated position, contract the abdominals for 30 seconds while breathing naturally. Or tighten and contract your legs for 60 seconds. Perform about three sets per area. You’ll feel your muscles get tighter in just three weeks if you perform this a few times per week.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Totally stressed....

That's me. Waking up between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. daily. Getting up by 3 a.m., because I can't get back to sleep. My wedding to-do list is growing faster than I can cross items off. A crash is coming. I just don't know when.

For the last two weeks, writing this blog five days a week has been reduced to four. I somehow have not found the time to post the past two Thursdays. Hate this.

Thursday is also our Weight Watchers weigh-in day, and although I enjoy our weekly sessions, my husband Jack and I realized last night that we never remember the topic of our last session. So I've decided that from now on, my weekly goals will be based on the Thursday session.

So my goal next week is hard: journaling what I eat. I hate to write what I eat down. I find it easier to keep a running tally of points in my head, and since most days I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch, this is very easy to accomplish. At dinner, I know how many points I have left, and I eat accordingly.

To write everything down takes discipline. But it just might keep me grounded. And I'm hoping it will help me sleep.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Recipe Exchange

Last week's Pick of the Week, starring cabbage, yielded two recipes from blog readers. The first comes from Ronnie Fein, who tells me unlike my mom, her mother never made cabbage because it smelled to much. Unlike her mom, Ronnie, and her husband, Ed, love cabbage and prepare it frequently. So here's Ronnie's favorite way to prepare cabbage, which she says she cannot believe how easy it is to prepare.

Half a head green cabbage
Vegetable oil
Sliced garlic, to taste
Dozen Sichuan peppercorns
Sea salt, to taste
Shred half a green cabbage.
  • Heat some vegetable oil in a wok. Add some garlic slices and about a dozen Sichuan peppercorns. Cook them until they brown and flavor the oil.
  • Discard the garlic and peppercorns and stir-fry the cabbage, sprinkling in some sea salt.
Ronnie adds: "YUM-O. Try it sometime. I have done this using dried red chili peppers, too. That's good, but I prefer the Sichuan peppercorns."

Ann Blystone also loves cabbage, in all its forms, from sauerkraut, to steamed to fresh! She says her grandmother's old-fashioned cole slaw with its cider vinegar/mayo dressing is a favorite, although not something she would want to eat every day because of the calories & fat!/

Ann has passed on a different take on my Asian Coleslaw recipe, more of a meal since it includes chicken. The original recipe comes from a friend of Ann's, Deb V. I thank them both.

1/2 cup thawed pineapple or orange juice concentrate
1/3 c. good rice wine vinegar
2 Tblsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tblsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground ginger or 1/2 tsp. fresh minced ginger
  • Blend all together and set aside. Refrigerate up to 4 days.
2 pounded chicken breast halves, sautéed in Pam, and cut into thin strips
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (9 oz.)
3 cups shredded cabbage (6 oz.)
1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed4 whole scallions, thinly sliced2 C. raw snow or sugar snap or combo peas, rinsed and trimmed (4 oz.)
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 large head romaine lettuce, cleaned, dried and torn into bite-size pieces (do NOT cut in strips)
  • Combine all. Toss salad with dressing and serve. (Ann has cooked the chicken a day before and then stored in in the prepared dressing. She then tosses all salad ingredients together before serving.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pick of the Week: Cabbage take 2

Last week I talked about plain cabbage -- green and red -- because it is so special, it deserves its own post. But I was so not fair to two of my other faves -- Chinese cabbages, which are bok choy and Napa, and Savoy. Bok choy starred in the March 3 Pick of the Week, so today, it's all about Napa and Savoy.

Napa cabbage looks like celery on steroids, with frilly, veiny leaves. , which even non-cabbage lovers might actually like. It's milder and a tad sweeter than the firm heads you see at the market, with leaves the consistency of Romaine lettuce -- with a bit of a bite. It is a mainstay in Asian cooking.

Savoy cabbage is round like its traditional sister, but is milder, with ruffled and deeply ridged leaves. Like Napa, it is milder than regular cabbage and not as crisp. It is a star in Italian dishes.

Choose: Look for firm heads, with no signs of mold or discoloration or brown spots.

Store: In the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, for about a week.

And remember: All cabbages are one of the 13 foods the Web site Everyday Health calls powerful super foods.

I've picked two of my favorite recipes, one a Savoy Slaw using Savoy, the second, Kim chee. which I first tasted in a nail salon about 15 years ago. I was a regular there, and the owner insisted I try it one day. She shared her family recipe with me, the one that had been passed down through generations. Although I don't know her last name, her first name, appropriately, is Kim. It makes a great side dish with just about everything.

1/3 cup Greek nonfat yogurt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tblsp. minced green onion
3 Tblsp. finely diced English cucumber
Zest of half a lemon
1 Tblsp. fresh dill, minded
2 cups Savoy cabbage, shredded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • In a small bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, onion, cucumber, lemon zest and dill. Set aside.
  • Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over high heat, spray with a light coat of Pam.
  • Add cabbage shreds and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, until it begins to brown.
  • Place cabbage in bowl. Coat with dressing.
  • Garnish with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pickling salt (if you can't find it, use kosher salt)
6 cups water
2 pounds Napa cabbage, cut into 2-inch squares
6 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths, then slivered
1/4 lb. daikon radishes, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tblsp. minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 dried hot red peppers, each about 2 inches long, split
3 Tblsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
  • Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in the water. Put the cabbage into a large bowl; pour salt water over. Weigh cabbage down with a something heavy, such as a plate or covered brick (what I use.) Let cabbage stand for 12 hours.
  • Drain the cabbage, reserving the brine. Mix the cabbage with the remaining ingredients, including the 1 teaspoon salt. Pack the mixture loosely into a large jar. Pour enough of the reserved brine over the cabbage to cover it. Let the kim chee ferment in a cool place -- temperature no higher than 60 degrees -- for 6 days. Place in the refrigerator for 4 days. It's ready and worth the wait. Store int he refrigerator. It keeps for months.

Deep breaths

My life has suddenly gone from calm to chaotic. It happened sometime this weekend, in between the can't-find-shoes-for-wedding crisis and the realization that we are quickly running out of time to refine those last-minute wedding details.

The days are flying by, and my nights are endless because I am not sleeping. The combo is making me cranky and so tired, that I often find myself nodding off around 3 p.m. each day. I need a nap, but can't find the minutes to squeeze one in.

By this point, I would probably be eating everything in sight. I'm not. And it's not because I want to fit into my dress. I just don't have the desire to overeat. What a feeling!

Recipe time

The following spice mix was featured on a CBS Morning Show segment a few weeks ago. I wish I could credit the chef, but unfortunately I pulled the recipe and did not include his name. I mixed up a batch that night, and have been using it to flavor all manner of fish and poultry the past few weeks. It's flavorful and spicy enough to give food a bit of a kick. Of course, if you want it hotter, increase the cayenne.

I love this spice mix so much I wrote the ingredients on the lid of a container, which will never be empty. It's become my go-to spice. And now, it's belongs to you, too.

1/2 cup Spanish paprika
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
2 Tblsp. ground cumin
2 Tblsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 Tblsp. ground cardamom
1 1/2 Tblsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 Tblsp. garlic powder
1 Tblsp. tumeric
3 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. ground cloves

  • Mix all spices together well with a whisk. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, April 9, 2010

4 pounds!

Last week, when I stepped on the scale at Weight Watchers, I almost shed tears of joy because I lost 6.8 pounds.

Last night: I gained 4 pounds. I was back at my Thursday-night group, and our leader, Karen -- with whom I have been sharing this weight loss journey for far too many years -- looked up and asked me if I was mad at her?

At Karen? Never. She is the reason I have been a member of WW for more months than I would like to admit. Karen keeps me motivated. And besides, the new me could care less. OK, that's a stretch, but I really am not upset.

For the last two weeks, we have been weighing in first thing Saturday mornings because we couldn't make the Thursday night session. I always gain weight during the day. We all do. So that accounts for 2 of those pounds.

The other two pounds: Easter, and Mr. Scordo's ricotta pie. I didn't eat as much of it as I normally would have, but I ate enough. How could I not? It really is an amazing special treat made by one of the sweetest men I've ever known. And Mrs. Scordo cookies, ones their daughter, my buddy Susan, has been sharing with us since our kids were in elementary school. They are a tradition. And of course, there were those M&Ms that were plopped in front of me. Impossible to eat just one. Oh -- and the dueling fruit tarts, and Trader Joe's bonbons. It was a lovely Easter.

It was also my birthday this week, and although this year's "cake" was a selection of berries with Cool Whip, it was still my birthday. We also ate out twice, and although I was "good," it's not the same as eating at home.

Enough excuses. I gained 4 pounds, BUT, and it's a big one, I am OK with this. I almost took a pass at the scale last night, but I decided that was the coward's way out, and I needed to see exactly what happens to my body when I am not being WW perfect. I also wanted to see what it would do for my new-found calmness about my weight loss journey.

I'm terrific. I'm feeling great. And unlike past experiences when this would begin an eating rampage, I ate a great dinner last night, decided not to add a glass of wine to my meal, and fell asleep with a smile on my face.

I have one goal this week: To maintain this attitude. I really am liking myself so much better.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pick of the Week: Cabbage

I am so happy that cabbage made Everyday Health's list of the 13 most powerful super foods because it truly is one of my favorite vegetables.It's always part of my noontime mix of greens, along with spinach and arugula, adding just the right amount of crisp snap to my salad.

I decided three weeks ago to begin exploring this list of 13 in my weekly Pick of the Week blog, simply because I am trying to eat better. We've already looked at avocados, apples and blueberries. So far, this list is extraordinary.

Everyday Health chose cabbage because of its nutritional value. It is a member of the Brassica genus, and according to the Web site, of all the members of this family, cabbage is the most impressive.These vegetables, which also include broccoli and bok choy, contain compounds called indoles, which have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Want more reasons to eat cabbage? It also stimulates the immune system, kills bacteria and viruses, and is a good blood purifier. And if you eat red cabbage, you'll also get a healthy does of anthocyanins -- the same pigment molecules that make blueberries blue -- which is another powerful antioxidant.

For me, cabbage screams comfort and my mom. Her red cabbage and sauerkraut recipes graced our dinner table at least once a week. Stuffed cabbage rolls and sekule goulash. a pork, sour cream and cabbage concoction, were two meals I would beg her to make. It was the food from her childhood, and she made sure it was the food of mine as well.

When I am feeling really lazy, I buy already shredded cabbage, but recently I stopped that nonsense and cut it up myself. It takes mere minutes, and it has a fresher taste and definitely more crunch. I happen to be a big fan of crunch.

Choose: Like just about every other vegetable, pick it up. You're not looking for a lightweight here, but a cabbage that feels heavy for its size. The color should be a nice bright green or red.

Storing: At home, wrap it in plastic wrap or place in a bag and refrigerate up to a week. I've been known to keep some heads a tad longer with no bad results.

Today's recipe is not one from my childhood, because honestly none of them qualify as healthy. Too much butter, bacon grease, sour cream and sugar. So I chose a recipe I make all the time, quite often for guests, and I've never had any complaints yet.

2 lbs. cabbage, shredded (and yes, you can use already shredded cabbage)
2 carrots, peeled
4 scallions with green tops, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 8-oz. can water chestnuts, drained, rinsed, dried
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 Tblsp. light soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup unsweetened rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup orange juice
  • Place already shredded cabbage in bowl, or shred cabbage with thin or medium slicing blade of food processor.
  • Shred carrots with thin or medium slicing blade of food processor.
  • Add carrots, scallions and water chestnuts to cabbage. For longer storage, cover and place in the refrigerator.
  • Dressing: Place garlic and ginger in food processor fitted with metal blade. Mince. Add remaining ingredients; process until blended.
  • Toss dressing into into cabbage mixture. Refrigerate at least one hour.
  • Dressing can be made a day in advance and stored separately until an hour before serving, when it should be mixed with vegetables. Makes 10 servings.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

With age....

....come many things. Aches and pains for sure. But also, some insight, and hopefully a sense of peace and contentment.

The past two months I have thought more about my life than I ever have before. Each time someone remarks that my husband, Jack, dodged a bullet, it reminds me how very lucky we all are that he told our doctor about some on-again/off-again pressure he felt in his chest when he exercised strenuously. If he hadn't, today's post would have a much different tone.

Because today, I want to talk about gratitude, and how truly thankful I am for my wonderful family and friends. As I write this last sentence, I think it sounds so trite, something that's easy enough to say, but really difficult to feel. But the last few weeks, I have started and ended each day thanking God for the people that are in my life, the reasons why I have finally started to feel content and so much calmer.

By now, you are probably asking what gratitude has to do with my blog? It's actually quite simple. I think the reason I have seen success at the scale is that for the first time in forever, I am accepting myself, recognizing that I am not and will never be perfect, and that my faults are what make me who I am. But I have made some pretty extraordinary choices in my life, surrounded myself with the most amazing and interesting people, and lead a life that is rich in relationships and love.

My body and mind are in sync, a major change, but one I am more than thankful has finally happened to me. The trick, like anything else, is not to let life get in the way, and to make the time each day to recognize and focus on the good. The bad will always be there, but I am striving to keep it in the rear-view mirror, like those pounds I am shedding on this weight loss journey that is all mine.

Monday, April 5, 2010


A week ago Saturday I almost went nuts at Weight Watchers. The scale had not budged for a week, and then last Saturday, I weighed .4 of a pound more than the week before.

Two days ago, as I tentatively stepped on the scale, I sent a short prayer skyward begging that I lost a bit. When I found out I had lost 6.8 pounds, I nearly fainted. That has never happened to me in a week. Of course, if I averaged that amount over three weeks, it comes out to 2.2 pounds a week, right on target. It also proved to everyone at Weight Watchers that I really had been tracking my food and exercising daily.

A week ago, I was ready to give up my diet. Today, I am more determined than ever to keep going.

I really do not care if it takes me a year to lose the remaining 34.2 pounds. And when I hit my next plateau -- because I know plateaus are inevitable, I will reread this post to gain strength and encouragement.

Like that little engine that could, I can and will reach my goal this time. Lifetime membership in Weight Watchers is achievable.

I've also decided that for every 10 pounds I lose, I am going to reward myself. I skipped the first 10, but 3.8 pounds more and I'll have shed 20 pounds. And for that, I am scheduling a massage. I can honestly say I am worth spending the money on. Bit by bit, my self respect is resurfacing.

I'm not as hard on myself as I have been. I'm almost at the point that I can say I really like myself. Can't wait for the day when I confidently tell myself I'm A-OK!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Analyze this!

Recently, I've really been analyzing the psychotic nature of my eating habits. How can I be so true to healthy eating for months, and then one day, wake up, and start eating everything in sight?

Tomorrow, I get weighed in, but right now, according to the scale at Weight Watchers, I have gained .4 of a pound the past three weeks. Usually, this would send me into an eating frenzy, the trigger that would make me say to myself, "I cannot lose weight," which, for anyone with eating issues knows is the permission phrase to start those teeth a chomping.

Not this time. My choices were simple: I could persevere and hopefully, eventually, break through my plateau and lose a few pounds, or I could give up, start eating, and gain the 10 pounds I have fought so hard to lose at Weight Watchers the past few months.

I chose to keep eating on track. But why this time? Because I am really, really, really tired of gaining weight, reaching a point of disgust with myself, searching endlessly for the diet du jour, trying that for a few weeks, getting bored with it, gaining weight, and starting all over again. Just writing this last sentence makes my eyes glaze over.

I just cannot do this anymore. I am too old. It bores me.

So my goals for this week are simple.
1. I will continue with Weight Watchers, but continue to count sugar grams, and not exceed 15 grams of sugar each day.
2. Except for one day last week, when I logged around 8,000 steps, I have made my 10,000-steps-a-day goal. If I am short steps at the end of the night, I hope on my mini trampoline and make them up. This is my second goal of the week.

And each day, as many times a day as I can fit in, I will say these words: "I can do this. I will persevere." I know, It's silly. But sometimes, I listen to my inner voice. It can be very wise.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Recipe Exchange

The following recipe is from Ann Blystone, and stars this week's Pick: blueberries. It's called Autumn Salad, but personally, I think it works year-round. It also features Gorgonzola cheese, which means it has to be a winner. The recipe says you can substitute goat cheese -- but I have to admit that goat cheese is one of the few foods I really cannot tolerate. It tastes -- well -- too goaty!

Ann is not sure where the recipe originates, but speculates her mother of a long-ago restaurant meal.

4 1/2 oz. baby arugula or baby spinach
1/2 pint (1 cup) fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained, or frozen blueberries, thawed in a single layer on a paper towel for 20 minutes
1/4 cup smoked almonds, coarsely chopped (or slivered toasted almonds if smoked not available)
1 Jonathan,
Jonagold or similar apple, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
Tblsp. Sherry vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or goat cheese

  • Put the arugula, blueberries, almonds and apple cubes in a salad bowl.
  • Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and a few twists from a pepper mill. Pour over salad and toss to blend.
  • Sprinkle cheese on top, or serve on the side. Serve immediately.
The following is a recipe from the latest Weight Watchers cookbook, "Slow Cook It," which really is one of the best WW cookbooks on the market. I made the recipe Monday night for our weekly family dinner, and everyone approved. It is the perfect mix of sweet and spicy, and uses low-fat turkey breast, perfect for a weeknight dinner. It goes together in a snap, and cooks all day, ready to eat after a long day of work. I served it with steamed broccoli, brown rice, and a salad dressed with a Sherry/Mustard Vinaigrette. I also made extra sauce, because it really does perk up the rice.

1/2 cup dry white wine or low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
4 shallots, sliced
3 Tblsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. Asian chili garlic
1 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 skinless, boneless turkey-breast half
2 Tblsp. cold water
1 Tblsp. cornstarch
2 Tblsp. low-sugar orange marmalade
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Combine wine, orange juice concentrate, shallots, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce and chili powder in 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Top with turkey. Cover and cook until turkey is fork-tender, 3-4 hours on high to 6-8 hours on low.
  • At end of cooking time, transfer turkey to cutting board; cover with foil and keep warm. Whisk water and cornstarch in small bowl until smooth. Stir cornstarch mixture into slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until mixture simmers and thickens, about 20 minutes. Stir in marmalade and vinegar.
  • Cut turkey into 12 slices and serve with sauce.
  • Makes 4 servings. Per serving (3 slices turkey with about 1/3 cup sauce): 275 calories; 2g fat; 1g sat fat; no trans fat; 114mg cholesterol; 504mg sodium; 20g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 42g protein; 42mg calcium. 5 Weight Watchers Points.