Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am so in the mood for soup. So today, I am passing on two of my favorite soups, just in case someone else is in the same mood.

The first is a new fave, which comes form Spark People, which, if you haven’t checked it out, is worth a glance. It’s filled with inspiring thoughts, lots of chatter between members, tips for staying true to a healthy eating plan – and recipes – lots of them.

The second recipe is from Weight Watchers, which I will be making for Thanksgiving. It will be the perfect way to start our feast.


7 large baked potatoes
3 Tblsp. butter, unsalted
1 1/2 cups onion, diced fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup celery, diced fine
3 Tblsp. flour
2 cups chicken stock, low sodium
4 cups skim or 1% milk
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
3 Tblsp. scallions, chopped
1 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded

• Remove skin from the baked potatoes and chop potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
• In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium until melted and frothy. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add celery and garlic to the saucepan and continue to "sweat" the vegetables for 3 minutes. Lower the heat slightly so the vegetables do not brown.
• Add flour to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon and cook for 2 minutes; make sure to scrape the spoon against the bottom and edges of the saucepan to pick up any of the mixture that might of settled on the bottom of the pan. Slowly whisk in the stock until all is incorporated.
• Add diced potatoes to the mixture. Slowly add the milk. Once the milk is added do not boil the mixture and stir occasionally. Cook soup over medium to low heat for about 20 minutes.
• While soup is cooking, cook the bacon until crisp in a skillet. Remove bacon from pan and blot excess fat with a paper towel. Crumble bacon and set aside for garnish.
• If you prefer a smooth soup, puree the mixture using a food processor, blender or immersion blender. Serve in warm bowls with a garnish of chopped scallion, a pinch of bacon, and 3/4 tablespoon of cheese.
• Makes 15 1-cup servings. Per serving: 260 calories; 9g fat; 3.5mg fiber.

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onions, chopped
2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
32 oz. canned chicken broth, reduced-sodium
2 Tblsp. fresh sage, chopped
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
2 Tblsp. fresh sage, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 cups water, or less

• Heat a large nonstick saucepan. Swirl in the oil, then add the onion. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
• Add the squash, broth and sage; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, adding the water 1⁄2 cup at a time, until the squash is very soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool 30 minutes. 

• Pour the mixture through a strainer; reserve the liquid. Transfer the squash mixture remaining in the strainer to a food processor; pulse to a very smooth puree. Add 1-to-1 1⁄2 cups of the strained liquid, 1⁄2 cup at a time, until the soup has a fluid but creamy consistency. (Refrigerate or freeze any leftover strained liquid for another use.) 

• Transfer the soup back to the saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, until just heated through. Garnish each serving with a tablespoon of the sour cream and a sprinkle of the additional sage, if using. Makes 4 1-cup per servings. 4 POINTS per serving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What me worry?

My mom was a worrier, something she would never, ever admit. If I worried about anything as a child, she would always tell me: Worrying is like a rocking chair -- it gives you something to do but gets you no place.

This little tidbit annoyed me to death, and it's something I NEVER told my kids. That's not to say I didn't pass the worrying trait on to them. Unfortunately, it's in our blood.

The last few months I have made a real effort to stop worrying -- at least about the things I cannot control. Sure, worrying gives me something to focus on, but what good does that do anyone, especially me?

For years, I worried about what people thought of my fat tummy and quarterback shoulders. Now, I simply don't care what people think. If they think poorly of me, there is nothing I can do to change their opinion. But this is just one example. There are hundreds of examples I could list, things I used to worry about and now I just let them go. I do acknowledge my worry-item du jour, and then I mentally place the concern in the belly of a bird and let the bird fly away. I let it go, and with that flight, comes a freedom I have never before experienced.


And as this becomes more a part of what I do, I find myself happier with me, my life, and I am making better food choices each day. It really does feel good to be happy. It's time to let go of my worry wrinkles and bring on the laugh lines.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Love those capers!

I love capers, with all their salty greatness, which is a bit surprising since I rarely over-salt anything. But capers, ah capers, with their tangy lemony flavor. There really is something special about these little green pearls, the ripened flower buds of Capparis spinosa, a prickly, perennial plant.

The following recipe is something I have been making for years, but recently forgot all about it. I just came across it in my recipe files this weekend when I was searching for Thanksgiving recipes. I smiled when I looked at the recipe card. Yes, this recipe is just that good. And it's a snap to throw together and really quite good for you. Guess what we're having for dinner tomorrow night?

Lemon Chicken with Capers
3 medium lemons, thinly sliced and seeded
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 Tblsp. drained capers, rinsed
2 tsp. butter
3 Tblsp. chopped fresh parsley, divided

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place lemon slices on paper in a single layer. Brush the lemon slices with 1 teaspoon oil. Roast the lemons until slightly dry and beginning to brown around the edges, 25 to 30 minutes.
Cover chicken with plastic wrap and pound with a rolling pin or heavy skillet until flattened to a thickness of about half an inch. Sprinkle the chicken with pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish and dredge the chicken to coat both sides; shake off excess.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Stir in capers. Boil until the liquid is reduced to the consistency of syrup, 5 to 8 minutes, turning the chicken halfway. Add the roasted lemons, butter, 2 tablespoons parsley, and more pepper, if desired; simmer until the butter melts and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mind games

This month, my book group at my yoga studio is reading Geneen Roth's "Women Food and God." I haven't underlined sentences and dog-eared pages this much since I was in school.

Gradually, what she is saying is sinking in. But when I read the following -- Eat with your body, not your mind -- something hit home, and why I eat is finally beginning to make sense.

That sentence got me thinking about food and its effect on my body. I am allergic to wheat. Not gluten. Wheat. It brings on symptoms of asthma. I know this. And when I start wheezing and begin to feel listless, I know I have to stop eating wheat.

BUT WHY DO I EAT IT AT LAA? I KNOW IT DOES HORRID THINGS TO MY BODY. You would think that that alone would keep me from eating wheat.

And then there is dairy. Too much of it, and my nose clogs up. But that's not all it does to me. Each time I eat dairy, I have to take something to counteract its effects. Same thing for beans: Without Beano you really don't want to be around me.

Monday, I began an experiment.For three days, I have only eaten meat, poultry, fish, eggs and lots of fruits and veggies. I use olive or walnut oil sparingly on my salads, and I eat mindfully -- when my body tells me I'm hungry not at a specific time. (That's another Geneen rule.)

And after three days I am beginning to feel less congested, although my eyes are still watery and red and my nose is still clogged. But I'm beginning to feel a lightness in my chest, and my breathing has definitely improved.

And I have a ton more energy. And this is after only three days.

And did I mention I dropped three pounds. That's a pound a day.

I want to also make it clear that I am not measuring or weighing my food, but eating sensible portions, asking myself after each bite it I am full yet.

I asked Jack this morning if he thinks I can sustain this way of eating, and he couldn't say "no" fast enough. He's probably right, which makes me sad.

But one other thing I am learning from Geneen: It's time for me to stop putting the needs of everyone else before mine. It's time for me to listen to what my body is telling me. And it's time for me to stop listening to my mind, because for some reason, my mind really loves all things wheat, dairy and sugar.

In the old days, I would have been told to write the following 100 times, and then maybe it will sink in. Instead, I think these next seven words will become my new meditation mantra, to be repeated often throughout the day. Eat with my body, not my mind.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Support when you need it

I have to be one of the luckiest women in the world. You would think that after years of being on every diet imaginable, cooking specific foods to eat at specific times, my family would be rolling their eyes whenever I say the word diet. But they don't.

At least, I am not seeing the eye rolling.

Last week, we visited our daughter, son-in-law and two adorable granddaughters in the South, and my wonderful daughter, Caitlin, called me before our visit to ask me what I am now eating. When I told her anything, I'm not sure she believed me, and she asked again, so I finally told her to pick up some eggs and broccoli for breakfast, and I would eat the same as the rest of the family for lunch and dinner.

But this little exercise made me think of the thousands of people who get no support from their families. In many cases, families take great pleasure in sabotaging diets, and that must be the most frustrating experience for the person trying to stay on a healthy eating plan.

All this brings me to today's message: If your family is not supportive, find a diet buddy who you can turn to when you need help. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and often, our non-blood relatives work better than our families.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My reward!

And now for the last of 10 steps to start my wellness plan.

10. Reward yourself. It’s OK to feel good about yourself! And it’s OK, and beneficial, to reward yourself for your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. A meal at your favorite restaurant, a date at the movies, a new outfit, a bubble bath… whatever you wouldn’t normally take the time to do, as long as it contributes to your well being, is a great reward!

I am going big time, planning a weekend at Kripalu, that wonderful yoga retreat in the Berkshires. I think Spring would be best – the time of rebirth and new beginnings. But Spring, I will be ready to be a sponge, embracing all that Kripalu has to offer.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And now for steps four through nine, which according to SparksPeople, will start anyone on a wellness plan.

7. Learn from your setbacks
. Making mistakes and experiencing failure is all a part of being human and living. Rather than getting down on yourself, take that setback and turn it into something positive – something you can use to reach your goals. Sometimes life is indeed two steps forward, one step back! 

I love this advice because it’s all about not beating yourself up. And I really need to stop doing this. My friend Mary Ellen told me last weekend that I am too hard on myself. I’ll try to remember this.

8. Spend some time “cleaning house.” This is intended to be both literal and figurative. When our homes are a cluttered mess, it’s impossible to function well. Ditto for our schedules. Create a list of your activities and decide which ones aren’t contributing to your overall purpose in life. “De-fluff” that schedule and concentrate on those activities that bring meaning to your life, and ultimately to others!

I actually started this last weekend. We finished redecorating a bedroom, my meditation room is complete, and I filed every single lose paper yesterday. When I got rid of that last piece of paper, I looked around the house, took a deep breath, and just smiled. It was such a relief.

9. Stop comparing yourself to others. We’re bombarded by images of “perfect” bodies every day. It’s easy to get caught up in all of it and feel as though we’ll never measure up – and chances are, we won’t. Let’s get real! These images are results of computer imagery, great lighting, professional make-up artists, self-starvation, plastic surgery and really good genes. Stop comparing yourself to a fantasy and just be the best you that you can be. 

Again, I’ll remember Mary Ellen’s advice. I have a lot to celebrate, and I really need to pat myself on the back every now and then.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Steps 4-6 on my wellness campaign

The next three of 10 steps that according to SparksPeople, will start anyone on a wellness plan.

4. Start a journal. Your goals, desires, barriers, obstacles, excuses, solutions and plan should all be a part of your journal. Make your journal yours. Set it up so it’s easy to use so that you will use it. Include space to just let your thoughts flow. Use it to let out your feelings, vent, rejoice, or celebrate. You’ll be amazed at how freeing it is!

This is a hard one for me. I HATE to journal. But I am willing to give it a try. I was going strong with one a few months ago, actually liked doing it, but one day I just stopped.

5. Begin your journey where you’re standing now. Where are you right now, this moment, on your journey? Accept where you are and where you need to be and begin the steps necessary to bridge that gap. If, however, you find that old issues keep popping up, preventing you from reaching your goals, you may need to seek counseling. Sometimes the only way to move forward is to first go backward. 

This one I have to think about a bit. Not sure about the issue thing. And although I know why I have body and eating issues, I am tired of blaming my mom. Enough.

6. Take one step at a time. What happens when a builder forgets an important step in building a house? Or a chef leaves out an important ingredient in a recipe? Doesn’t work so well, does it? It’s the same thing with your life. You must take certain steps in order to reach a place of wellbeing—and make it fit your lifestyle. 

I am so trying this one step at a time thing. So one step it is. For me, I know the foundation is exercise, and in my case, yoga is it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Goal setting

Today, I offer the first three of 10 steps that according to SparksPeople, will start anyone on a wellness plan. Instead of reposting all 10 steps at once, I am breaking them down because I truly think little steps are the best. Our minds can absorb just so much at one time.
We all know what to do – but sometimes gentle reminders and nudges go a long way in helping self-improvement. So here are the first three.

1. Write out your goals and desires. What’s your wellness vision? Where do you envision yourself three to five years from now? Set three-month and weekly goals based on your wellness vision. Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic and Time-oriented.

My wellness vision: To wake up each day knowing the day before I exercised and made terrific food decisions.
Five years from now: A closet full of one-size clothes.
Three-month goal: To lose 10 pounds, do yoga daily, and cardio at least three times a week.
Weekly goal: Drink 8 glasses of water each day.

2. Ask what, when and how. Make a list of the hurdles that keep getting in your way of living a life of wellness. Then determine which ones are true obstacles – things that you need to work around or find solutions to. And the excuses – ‘nuf said! 

My hurdles: Eating tons of meals this week on the road. It’s an obstacle, but if I pay attention to my body, really look for cues that say I am hungry, hopefully I will make good food choices.

3. Have a plan. Rarely, if ever, is any major task or project accomplished without a plan in place. Lay out a plan for accomplishing your goals, as well as solutions for overcoming the hurdles. This is your game plan – it should be flexible, but have fortitude, fun, but not “fluff.” And make it active. Include specific steps you will take to reach your goals. 

• Do a morning meditation to set the tone for the day.
• Do at the very least 20 minutes of kundalini.
• Walk with Ann as much as possible.
• When I want to eat something I really shouldn’t, to remember: Stop. Drop. Stroll. Stop and think. Drop the food. Walk away.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Every Monday I wake up committed to a week of healthy eating. By Tuesday, I start fighting with myself, and by Friday, I've kissed all my resolve good-bye.

So here's my latest attack plan to keep me on track: I have notes everywhere I sit for more than 10 minutes. That means at my desks -- work and home -- in the kitchen, in my car, in my bathroom, in my bag. And all notes say the same thing: Be strong.

For me, this is the simplest way to remind myself often that I need to stay the course. And sometimes, just seeing those two little words are what keeps me from reaching for something I shouldn't eat.

On days when I don't get enough sleep, and I know eating well will be problematic, I take a cue from Sarah Palin -- I write those two words on my palm. Cheat sheet.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Another thanks...

...this time to my friend Susan, who talked me down yesterday. I had decided that this Sunday morning I was going to attend an Overeaters Annonymous meeting, because it is exactly what I need.

Susan suggested I read my past posts instead and really comprehend what I wrote. I did, and I understand what Susan is saying. I think by coming to terms with the fact that I am a compulsive eater, I just might be able to get to the bottom of this compulsion and do something about it.

For years, I knew I binged, but it was something I kept a secret. Binges are horrid in all aspects. I don't even taste the food that's passing my lips, which is a shame, because I really love food. It's all about stuffing as much down my throat as I possibly can without vomiting. I had always said that if someone could identify the switch that takes me from eating normally to eating like a maniac, they would make a fortune. I think I have become to understand what turns that switch on. It is not one thing, but many things.

For some reason, the thought of being a binge eater was a lot easier for me to digest than the thought of me being a compulsive eater. Who me? Compulsive?

Susan, if you are reading this today you have probably uttered at least one "duh!" But self-realization is a hard pill to swallow.

But guess what? It's also a bit freeing. I have been fighting with myself for years, which has made me an angry person -- at least internally. Now that I know the diagnosis, I am going to fight like hell to make me healthy again -- this time from the inside out.

And now a quote from what is becoming my bible, Geneen Roth's Women Food and God. At 2 a.m. today, I read this sentence and a light went off in my brain:
"....eating compulsively is eating without regard to the body's cues; it therefore follows that when you develop the capacity to steer your attention back to your body, are aware of what it says and are wiling to listen to it, compulsuion falls away."


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thanks, but....

Yesterday, one of my friends left a comment and said she is proud of me for resisting the chocolate chip cookies yesterday. And believe me, I loved the comment, but it really got me thinking.

I was proud of me too, but I also recognize that it doesn't take much for those cookies to be sitting in my pantry one minute, and in my stomach the next. And as I am eating those cookies, there is usually a dialogue going on my mind, telling me that yes, once again, I have lived up to my worst fears and given into temptation, that I am no good, that I have no willpower, and that how could anyone love such a wimp?

So now I am tyring to fix myself from the inside out. Yoga is helping tremendously. But I need more. Some would call it mindful eating, others might call it awareness, but what I am trying to do is pay attention to everything I decide to put into my mouth, and take stock of my feelings at the time. If I am reaching for a bag of licorice, I want to know if I am tired, depressed, angry, stressed, etc., etc., etc. One thing I do understand is that when I am reaching for licorice, I AM NOT HUNGRY.

I am reading Geneen Roth's "Women Food and God" with a group of women at my yoga studio, Yoga4Everybody in Fairfield. I am also taking Roth's online retreat that reinforces the book's ideas, all with the hope of discovering what makes me eat. Why can I be perfect on a diet for as long as six months, and then wake up one day, start eating off plan, and before I know it every pound I lost has come home.

I call this blog Diet? Not again! because I honestly don't want to be on a diet anymore. I am so tired of counting POINTS, of counting calories, of marking fat grams, of eating cardboard, and when I do eat something I think I shouldn't -- waiting for the guilt to take over.

Enough. I want to be normal. I want my obsession with food to go away.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2 accomplishments and it's only 6:30 am

First accomplishment: I voted.

And as soon as I exited the polling place, the cutest little girl was asking me if I would like to buy something at the bake sale. Without thinking I told her no, but I would give a donation. Success.

No sooner had I put my contribution in the jar that hubby, Jack, walks out of the polling room and says in his booming voice, "Got any chocolate chippers?" Of course they did. And now, so do we.

But that's OK. A few days ago I probably would have eaten one. Today I stared them down. It's my new game, and right now it's working. I looked at those homemade gobs of chewy goodness and screamed at them (it was a mental scream) "I am better than you. I deserve more."

Then I walked away, whipped up my new favorite breakfast -- coconut milk, a tablespoon of flax seeds, a scoop of whey powder and a cup of strawberries -- drank it with gusto, and am sitting here writing this with a big smile on my face.

Baby steps.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The day after THE day

Halloween is the holiday I love to hate. I outwardly talk about how much I cannot stand to have candy in the house, while secretly my mind is screaming "Bring it on!"

This year, I bought our candy Sunday, because I really could not risk having it in the house any sooner. I put it in a closet -- still in its original packaging -- and I was so busy yesterday, I swear I didn't give it a second thought until it started to get dark. Out came the candy -- but as I was putting it into the bowl, I stared it down while repeating over and over again: "I am better than you. I deserve more"

I now talk to candy. Great. But it worked.

Of course this year, not one trick-or-treater stopped by. The FULL bowl of candy was on our staircase as I was walking upstairs to go to bed last night, and my hand automatically slipped into the bowl and grabbed two pieces of chocolate. I looked at my hand, stared the candy down, and repeated yet again, "I am better than you. I deserve more."

I ate not one piece of candy yesterday. Zero. Nadda. What a feeling of accomplishment.