Monday, February 29, 2016

Progress



I thought I would give a little update on my progress as it has been awhile and people have been inquiring.  I am now down a total of 67 pounds, about 15 of those since the first of the year.  I would really like to be down 100 in total by my one year anniversary in July so still an obtainable goal.  I have dropped 2 pant sizes and 1 top size.  My first 50 pounds were lost at an average of about 10 pounds per month.  I have seen that decline a bit the last couple of months losing 7-8 pounds per month.  This is still perfectly acceptable to me.  I recognize my body is adapting as I get lighter and I will hit stalls every now and again, it is just part of the process.  What has been important to me as the weight loss has slowed a bit is remind myself why I am doing what I am doing.  I have also started allowing myself to be photographed again.  I really hate having my picture taken but I also want to document my journey and how I am doing.  Sometimes I see myself in a photo and it doesn't feel like me.  I also sometimes step into pants which I am sure won't fit and they do.  It is a strange feeling when you're body starts to become smaller than you are used to.  This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago.  It was a nice angle so don't let it fool you, there is still a double chin under there! 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Low Carb Cheese Danish


I have a great recipe to share today.  It isn't often that I can eat things like cookies or pastries because they are typically not low carb.  I found a recipe online for Low Carb Cheese Danish so decided to spend my Saturday morning attempting to make them.  I wasn't disappointed in my efforts.  These definitely have a different texture from the normal Danish dough but I actually really liked the texture.  I doubled the recipe since I figured my girls would want to try them as well and if I was going to the effort may as well make some extras for later! 



Low Carb Cheese Danish Recipe.

Makes 3 danishes.  I doubled the recipe in the pic above.

Dough
1 1/4 C of full fat grated mozzarella cheese
6 Tbs Almond Flour
3 Tbs Coconut Flour
4 Tbs Sugar Substitute - Erythritol, Stevia, Truvia are all good options
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tbs Oat Fiber (optional but I like the flavor and texture this adds)
4 Tbs melted butter
1 large egg

Filling
6 oz Full fat cream cheese
1 Tsp Lemon juice
1/2 Tsp Vanilla
1/4 c Sugar Substitute
1 Egg Yolk
Optional - Sugar Free/ Low-carb Jam or Jelly

Frosting
3 Tbs Powdered Sugar Substitute - you an turn your sugar substitute to powdered by running it through the food processor
2 Tbs Heavy Cream
2 oz Cream Cheese
1/2 Tsp Vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Filling
Add all ingredients other than jelly to mixing bowl and mix on high speed until fully mixed.  Set aside.

Dough
Add almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, oat fiber, and sugar substitute to large microwave safe mixing bowl.  Whisk ingredients together. Mix melted butter and vanilla together and then add to dry ingredients.  In a glass dish, melt mozzarella in microwave slowly ensuring it doesn't burn.   Add fully melted mozzarella and egg to bowl as well.  Using your hands, start to mix the dough, working it together until fully incorporated.  If the mozzarella becomes difficult to work with, heat the mixture up in the microwave again.  Wetting your hands with water may also help in combining.  Once the dough is fully mixed get out a cookie sheet.  You can either grease your cookie sheet or use parchment paper or a silpat to keep the danishes from sticking.  Separate dough into 4 parts.  Start to work each quarter into a Danish shape making the edges a bit higher to "hold" the filling in place.  Add the filling to the danishes by filling the "wells" you have created in the danish.  Do not add jelly at this time.  If you want to use jelly it is best to add in the last few minutes of the cooking time to keep it from burning and then closely monitor as the Danish completes the cooking process.  Bake danishes for 10-13 minutes until edges are slightly brown.

Frosting
Melt cream cheese in microwave until soft.  Add additional ingredients and mix well.  Put into a sandwich bag.  Once the danishes are done, clip the corner of the bag and pipe frosting across the danishes as desired. 

Let cool a few minutes and then enjoy.  I had mine with a nice cup of Chai & Mighty from David's Tea.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Keto Cinnamon Toast Crunch

I have another discovery for you -- Keto Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  I admit, cereal is one of the things I miss quite a bit.  The crunch of cereal in milk is something I just couldn't imagine being able to re-create on keto.  Until today.  I whipped this up in a couple of minutes and while not exactly the same as Cinnamon Toast Crunch, it satisfies the craving.  Now the pork rinds -- I know they aren't for everyone and even weirder as a cereal.  I was a bit on the fence myself but went for it and wasn't grossed out.  It's amazing the things I'll try now that I've been on a bread-pasta free diet for 8 months!


Keto Cinnamon Toast Crunch Recipe

1 serving of plain pork rinds - broken into bite size pieces
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 Tbs sugar substitute
2 Tbs heavy whipping cream

Directions:  In a cereal bowl combine first thing ingredients mixing well to cover the pork rinds in dust.  Add cream and mix together.  Eat quickly so pork rinds don't turn mushy. 


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Goat Cheese Stuffed Sweet Peppers

I have another great keto side or snack to share today.  As you know, I am on a goat cheese kick right now and was trying to think of ways to incorporate it with other foods I can eat.  I sometimes struggle to find a creative snack or side to go with my meals as the same old cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels get old.  While at the grocery store the other day it hit me... Goat Cheese Stuffed Sweet Peppers.  So tonight, I made that thought a reality.  It is super easy to make and turned out awesome.




Cut sweet peppers in half, rinse and remove seeds.  My grocery store sells sweet peppers in bags.Stuff goat cheese inside each half of pepper, as much as you like.  Place on baking sheet.  Bake in oven on 425 for about 12 minutes or until peppers and cheese start to brown.  Once removed from the oven, sprinkle lightly garlic salt over the top.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Deadpool



Over the weekend my husband talked me into seeing Deadpool.  Well to be honest, it was more of a negotiation.  He help me with some cleaning and I go see the movie with him.  I fully expected to dislike the film. In fact I negotiated seeing it in the balcony so I could eat at the same time in case I did hate it, I would at least be fed and occupied. I'm not into superhero films and it just didn't strike me as something I would enjoy.  I was so wrong. The film was awesome. Full of snark -- great writing.  It was R-rated so I don't recommend for children but if you aren't easily offended, love pop culture, and may have grown up in the 80's and 90's, you'll likely love it too.  They are already making a sequel and I can't wait.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Low Carb Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana

I recently went to dinner with a friend and she chose Olive Garden.  I've never been a huge Olive Garden fan but since my diet, I'm not so finicky about where I eat out at as long as I have some keto options.  Strange how that is, give me fewer options and I care less!  I checked the menu ahead of time to determine what options I would have and ended up not being disappointed.  I skipped the bread sticks (the horror) and ordered the Zuppa Toscana to start. Olive Garden's version comes with chunks of potatoes but I figured out I could just eat around them, so I did.  I could also have done the salad but I eat a lot of salad already so wanted something different.  For my entree I got some baked talapia with a side of steamed broccoli. It wasn't the only option I had either but a good choice.  The soup was the best though.  In fact my waiter told me if I had told him up front he would have just got me more broth and skimped on the potatoes.  Next time.  As I was eating the soup, I thought, I bet I could make this low-carb at home.  And so I did.  Below is my recipe for my low-carb version of Zuppa Toscana, which turned out so good that my family had a hard time staying out of it.  Next time, I think I'll double the recipe.  Also to note, my version has more veggies and sausage... I had to make up for the potatoes somehow.



Low-carb Zuppa Toscana

Ingredients:
2 Tbs Real Butter
1/2 Chopped Onion
1 Tbs Minced Garlic
1/2 Tsp Red Pepper
1 LB Sweet Italian Sausage
1 Pkg Frozen Spinach
5 C Chicken Broth
Heavy Whipping Cream
Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste


On the stove in a large soup pot, add your butter and chopped onion.  Stir until onion is translucent.  Add frozen spinach and mix together with onion until spinach breaks down.  Add garlic and red pepper.  Add sausage and cook until sausage is fully cooked.  Add chicken broth, salt and pepper.   Let cook on stove for at least 30 minutes.  Ladle soup into serving bowl and a splash of heavy whipping cream and stir together.  Top with grated Parmesan.

Believe me, you won't be disappointed.

I did consider adding cauliflower as a potato supplement. My family isn't big on cauliflower so I decided not to this time but will probably give it a try next time.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Goodbye Harper Lee

A Southern literature legend, Harper Lee, passed away today.


"You never really understand until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." -- To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Another Keto Find


I love goat cheese.  I especially love goat cheese with fig, red pepper, honey, freshly baked bread, and dropped onto a pizza.  Sigh.  Unfortunately, I am fairly limited these days in what I can eat my goat cheese with.  While at Target doing some grocery shopping I found these individual servings of goat cheese that were perfect for snacking.  I will likely use them to add to keto pizza or to top off a salad.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

John Hughes: A Life in Film




Lately I've been a bit nostalgic, thinking back to those great movies from the 80's that today's films just don't measure up to. In my opinion, John Hughes films epitomize the 80's and take me back years.  For Valentine's Day this year, my other half bought me the book, John Hughes: A Life in Film.  I had also recently bought the John Hughes Yearbook Collection on DVD that includes The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Weird Science which are three of my favorites.  I admit, I love the Brat Pack! For some reason I always connected with Ally Sheedy's character, Allison Reynolds, in The Breakfast Club.  Yes, she was the frumpy bag lady, so what....


So I was really happy to receive the book that talks about the amazing John Hughes and his talented writing and directing abilities.  Apparently he wrote some of these films in a matter of days.  Ferris Bueller's vacation supposedly took him only 2 days to write. The book is full of great images from the movies and I've included some below.  I find it amazing that he worked on so many of my favorite films. I miss the days of these films when the music was on point, the plot was simple, full of teenage angst, and the laughter was high. Sadly, John Hughes passed away in 2009.


 
The Breakfast Club is my favorite of the Hughes films.


 My dad loved The Great Outdoors and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  I remember watching them with him growing up and the continuous laughter they provided.  And who can forget Long Duck Dong from Sixteen Candles, another great great film.

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation is still my favorite Christmas film and I watch it EVERY year.

A list of must see John Hughes films:

National Lampoon's Vacation
Mr. Mom
Sixteen Candles
European Vacation
Weird Science
Pretty in Pink
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Some Kind of Wonderful
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
She's Having A Baby
The Great Outdoors
Uncle Buck
Christmas Vacation
Home Alone
Career Opportunities


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Keto Friendly Meal



While at Target this past weekend, I found some new items from Healthy Choice in the frozen food section.  This Grilled Chicken Broccoli Alfredo meal is low carb.  It looks like they've replaced the noodles with broccoli and it sounds like a great quick meal to take to work for lunch.  I also saw a few other varieties such as Grilled Chicken Pesto and Veggies and Southwest Chicken that were lower carb.  The Alfredo one was definitely the lowest carb but all were within reason to stay under 20 net carbs per day.

Monday, February 15, 2016

DAVIDs TEA



I've talked about David's Tea before but after my last trip to MN, I figured it was time I did a big ol' post about it.  David's Tea is a chain of stores, much like Teavana, that sells different varieties of loose tea.  I discovered David's Tea a couple of years ago online. I started with a sampler of tea and was hooked.  While shopping in the Mall of America last week, I was finally able to visit a store.  Call me crazy but tea gets my really excited.  Perhaps it is because tea has become a treat for me more these days and the variety that David's Tea offers is impressive.  Previously, I had been a fan of Teavana and still think they have good tea but David's Tea is excellent tea. 

When you walk into David's Tea you will find a fairly small store with a few tables of tea accessories and sachets.  It is at the counter where all the loose teas sit; a large wall of canisters of every flavor you could imagine.  As you ask to smell the teas, the employees behind the counter pull them down and flip the lid on the canister so you can inhale the aromas.  At one point during my visit, I had nearly 30 canisters on the counter.  It was hard to choose but I did manage to make my selections.  I bought canisters of the first two as these were ones that I knew I loved and would want the most of.  The last 3 I bought 2 oz. bags of so I could try them and see what I think before buying a canister.






Chai & Mighty - A rich blend of warm spices, with a sweet hint of licorice root and vanilla.  This is my absolute favorite and is excellent with a splash of heavy cream.  Breathing in the warm smells is soothing.









Forever Nuts - Nutty jumble of almonds, apples and cinnamon. Also contains beet root so it turns pink as it steeps.  This is a nice hearty tea that anyone who isn't adverse to nuts would love.  I think it is actually their bestseller.










English Toffee - Decadent, all natural blend of tea, cocoa, and caramel.  This one smells amazing and will definitely be a dessert. 









The Spice is Right - Sweet and spicy blend of green tea, cinnamon, and orange peel.  Smells a lot like Constant Comment that my mama was a fan of as I was growing up.








Peanut Butter Cup - Yes, you read that correctly.  This one I have wanted to try for awhile but they stopped selling it online so I had to get it in the store.  It smells exactly like a Reese's.







I stopped there and believe me, spent way more than I had planned to.  But there more flavors that I still really wanted to try: Birthday Cake, Cardamom French Toast, Honey Bee, Butter Rum, the list goes on and on.  There are quite a few matchas and fruit infused teas as well.  Those really aren't my thing but thought I would mention it for those who like those flavors. 

I also bought some filters so I can take my tea to go.  I love the filters that David's Tea sells because they don't fall apart and I can usually get two steeps out of bag.


I still do love my coffee but tea is my favorite.  If you are interested in checking out David's Tea, right now is the perfect time, they are offering 2 oz. of tea free with any $35 purchase.  I might have taken advantage of this deal myself.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

I'm back....

I've missed blogging the last week but work while traveling tends to be a lot more demand on my evenings than when I am home. I am now back and ready to get back to it.  My trip was ok.  Minnesota is miserably cold this time of year. The heat in my room was turned up to 75 and I still froze the whole time. There was at least a foot of snow already on the ground and it snowed almost every day.  In fact my last day there, it snowed a couple inches overnight.  I will say, Minneapolis does a good job of keeping the road clear so at least getting around wasn't difficult.  I did manage to do a little shopping before my flight back and stopped off at the Mall of America.  The mall is impressive but not nearly as big as I expected it to be. I hit up a couple of stores that I had been wanting to check out. 

When I got home on Friday, I picked the girls up and spent the evening celebrating Valentines Day early.  The girls and their dad are going to visit family for a few days without me so we wanted to get out time in.  There was a Japanese-Kawaii store that I went to in the MOA and was able to add to their Valentines Day gift bags.  This year, I did a bunch of gashapons from Japan and some snacks.  I did Star Wars, Pok√©mon, Inside Out, and My Melody.  I also did Tsum Tsum blind bags and Pusheen plus blind boxes.  The girls really really like the whole mystery and excitement of blind bags, boxes, and balls.  We got some carryout and spent the evening playing board games.  It has been so long since I have played Operation or Trouble... we had a great time.  And we all might be a little competitive!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Business Trip and Keto

I'm headed to Minnesota for work next week.  I've been up to Minneapolis quite a bit lately.  I hope that I get some time explore more this time.  Last trip I had time but MN was hit by a snow storm as soon as I arrived so I really wasn't wanting to get out in all that any more than I had to.  The prior trip, I did manage to make it to the Mall of America. It was in the evening and I really didn't get much of a chance to look around.  I know that they have a Kawaii store in the mall so I hope to make it there to check it out this time.  I am getting myself prepared for travel by making sure I have some keto-approved snacks/treats to take with me just in case. 

My favorites to travel with are:  Quest Bars, Tea Bags, Mio (flavor for my water which is what I drink at the hotel), Jerky, Slim Jims, sugar-free sweetener (to add to tea, etc.) and Tuna packets.  The last may sound a little strange but if I need something with more substance, the new flavored tuna packs are great.  Just tear them open and eat with a fork.  My favorites that I've tried thus far are Mexican, Deli Salad, and Ranch.

As far as eating out goes, I try to find places that I know I can eat dinner and stay on track.  For breakfast I usually eat at the hotel and stick to eggs and bacon.  For lunch, there is a great cafeteria in the building that has a lot of options -- salad bar, burgers, grilled chicken, even some green veggie sides.  They also have a deli section with cheese, chicken salad, peanut butter, and such.

The area I travel to really doesn't have a lot of options close by for dinner. Last time I found a sub place called Jersey Mike's where they did a "sub in a tub" which was great.  In fact, it would be really great if sub places in Wichita took the hint!  Boston Market is always a safe bet too since they have meat & green veggies.  I'm not limited budget-wise on dinner but I do have a hard time sitting in a restaurant by myself so I will sometimes find a place that does call in to-go or delivers to the hotel.  Looking ahead and having a plan always help so I try to have some backups planned if I get in a tough situation.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Stranger Beside Me

For some reason, I've been on a true crime kick lately.  I'm not feeling especially morbid or anything but they are holding my attention quite a bit. I suppose it is my fascination with what prompts people to behave in certain ways... what would made someone want to become a serial killer?

 I had heard about Ann Rule's book, The Stranger Beside Me through a book suggestion.  I had heard of the serial killer Ted Bundy but never really knew the story behind his crimes so I gave The Stranger Beside Me a shot. The book is a personal story of Ann Rule (famous crime writer who past away a couple of years ago) and her friend, Ted, who turned out to be the infamous Ted Bundy.  When Ann first started working on her book, she had no idea her friend, Ted, was a serial killer.  In fact, he was a nice guy who volunteered with her on a crisis line.  She was volunteering in the evenings and writing crime stories for magazines and newspapers during the day while raising her children on her own.  She had wanted to get into writing books and when the killings started happening in her home town, she was able to get a book deal. As the story unfolds, the reader is exposed to Ann's thoughts and judgements about the crimes and slowly begins to understand how so many people were easily deceived by Ted Bundy. The idea that women were so infatuated with him, sending him letters and attending his trial and weeping... crazy!  I especially enjoyed the take this author had on the crimes, coming to terms with each horrific thing that her friend had done, initially in disbelief but ultimately acceptance that he was not the nice guy she knew. 





Ann Rule went on to be one the biggest crime writers of her time writing about many other criminals and this book is what gave her her start. I find her life extremely interesting, maybe because of journey as a writer but also her ability to get inside the mind of a killer and expose how he must have thought.  I just started reading Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer -- Americas Deadliest Serial Killer.  It also has some personal connections with Ann's life including near her hometown again.  I'll let you know what I think of it once I am done.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Dinner 1/31/2015

Last night's dinner was an Italian seasoned chicken breast stuffed with asparagus and provolone cheese baked in the oven.  I also made a batch of mashed garlic cauliflower topped with bacon and cheese.  I made extra of each so I'll be eating on this all week.  Yum!