Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Feast in Cave Creek Arizona

That's me on the left with my BFF

I've said many times before how much I appreciate that I can follow Weight Watcher's guidelines and still enjoy my life.  To that message, I wanted to share an article with my blog  followers so I can prove this to you! I wrote the article after celebrating my BFF's birthday with a shopping trip that ended in lunch in the rustic, quaint town just north of Phoenix, Cave Creek, Arizona.
Goat Milk Soaps is just one shop you can visit in Cave Creek

 We had fun and the food was delicious! The best part? I stayed within my weekly points allowance and still lost weight that week after sharing this "Smokehouse Platter" with her.
Hard to believe, huh? I kept my head and didn't overdo my portions (we split the leftovers and took a bunch of food home!), plus I wouldn't do it every week, but it's nice every once in a while to bust out of the diet routine! I was right back on the plan next day.

For more pictures of Cave Creek and our fun, check out my article at HubPages.  Start here:

Tour of Cave Creek, Arizona


 

Cave Creek is a small town full of Arizona's Western history and ambiance, and just a short 30-minute drive Northeast of Phoenix, As you reach the town limits, you'll think you've gone back in time to the Wild West. You almost expect to see two outlaws shoot it out at the O.K. Corral at any given moment! Warning to visitors: Be sure to slow down or you might meet up with the Sheriff!

Cave Creek Road is lined with quaint shops filled with eclectic and rustic furniture and decor, each item an imperfect treasure full of character and charm. If you are an art lover, look for the galleries which offer paintings and sculptures. There are also lots of restaurants serving delicious food, some with sawdust on the floor and mason jars on the table.

During the week-end nights you'll find the town bustling with a variety of party-animals; twenty-somethings doing shots at an outdoor bar in shorts and flips flops, Harley bikers in leather and bandanas, and cowboys in wranglers and boots.
If you visit Phoenix, be sure to save an afternoon or evening to visit the Town of Cave Creek. It will be worth the gas to experience this small Arizona town in the Southwestern desert. Be sure to take your camera!

For more pictures of Cave Creek and my article, continue here: "Tour of Cave Creek, Arizona"

Friday, May 25, 2012

Weekly Weigh-in Update: Lost a Pound

I'm happy to report that I finally hit a milestone with my weight loss....thirty pounds! I lost 1 pound this past week in spite of another celebration: My granddaughter's High School graduation and the after-party. 

I made meatballs and marinara in the crock pot for meatball subs.  The meatballs were pre-cooked and the marinara was in a jar, so I cheated in cooking effort, but stayed within my daily/weekly allotment...and lost weight!

The sandwich was 12 points, which may not seem low in points, except that it was a very large and satisfying meal! The 4-inch hoagie was 5 pts, and 6 meatballs were 7 pts. I served melon and a salad, plus a Jello Poke Cake (using sugar free Jello) of which a 1/12 serving was 7.5 pts (but I  had a 1/2 piece and sent the leftover cake with my granddaughter). 

All in all, I indulged in the celebration and used 16 of my daily points.My life hasn't stopped because I am a Weight Watcher...it's only gotten better!

Thanks Weight Watchers!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TopChips - Microwave Chip Maker


I saw an advertisement on TV this week for "TopChips", a product made by Mastrad that I think would work great for those of us watching their fat and calories, i.e. points, in their diet. It jogged my memory of watching an episode of Dr. Oz that showed it in action too. 

TopChips includes a slicer on which you slice vegetables, and a cooking tray that cooks them into "chips" in 3 to 6 minutes....all without oil!

I'm considering buying this product and thought I'd share this idea. If you have one, please give us the scoop on your experience with it.  I hope it works!

Here's the link to this product:
TopChips by Mastrad

Update 6/15/2012:  I have used the TopChips tray several times and like it.  I'm still getting the cooking times down, but think it will be a useful tool for me.  The vegetables shrink during cooking, and you don't get a huge serving with one batch, so you'll want to plan to make several.

I've tried carrots, zucchini and apples so far....the carrots came out crunchy, but the apples were closer to the dehydrated kind you buy in the bag...I couldn't seem to get them crispy. (but they were still good to snack on!) Today I made the Zucchini chips and they came out pretty good, although they weren't  crispy after 3 minutes. Next time I'll add 30 seconds to see if they turn out better.  I love the slicer...it makes very nice, thin slices....be careful of that blade though...it's sharp!

Hints:
Slice smaller vegetables like carrots on a diagonal so they are larger.
Season lightly and after cooking....I've made mine a bit too salty by seasoning raw.
For the zucchini chips, try seasoning with Land'O'Lakes Parmesan Herb seasoning.

Carrots Chips
Cut carrots and zucchini into a diagonal for larger chips


Zucchini Chips (This is one medium sized zucchini)


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekly Weigh-in Update: Minimal Weight Loss but Huge Loss in Inches!

I had a celebratory week last week (two birthdays and a graduation) so was a little worried about my weigh-in this past week, even though I stayed within my weekly bonus allotment. (I only had 18 of my weekly bonus points left on Thursday night and that is the most I've used to date).

So, I was elated when I stepped on the scale Friday morning because I hadn't gained weight, but actually lost 3 ounces! I am thrilled to have found a weight loss program that allows me to participate in the special life events that happen around me.  Sure, 3 ounces isn't anything to write home about, but I maintained my weight loss trend this week, without skipping parties or feeling deprived.

Additionally, I updated my measurements this week and discovered that I've lost a total of 21 inches since I took my measurements January 13th! I've lost 1 1/2 inches around my arms, 2 1/2 around my hips, 3 1/2 around my thighs, 4 inches in the bust-line,  and....big drum roll... 5 1/2 inches around my waist! I was amazed at these results.  Now I know why I'm fitting into clothes I never dreamed I would be able to wear again!

I'm into a new week and moving forward feeling positive that I'll reach my goal which is only 15 pounds away! Thanks Weight Watchers!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup for Weight Watchers

If you need a quick, low point lunch or dinner , try making this easy  chicken noodle soup.  It's tasty and the cream of chicken soup adds a satisfying creaminess to the broth. Sometimes I make it when I have leftover cooked spaghetti or noodles, or cooked chicken breast, which saves several steps:

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Makes 8 - 1 cup servings
WW pts+ per serving: 3

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup frozen Peas and Carrots
  • 1/2 cup uncooked celery, sliced
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can low-fat cream of chicken soup
  • 1 teas. garlic salt
  • 1/8 teas. black pepper
  • 1 cup sliced chicken breast
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 oz. noodles (1/2 of 12 oz box or 3 cups cooked)
Directions:
  • Add large chicken breast or 4-5 chicken tenders to 2 cups water and simmer until tender.  
  • Remove chicken from pan and cube.
  • Add 4 additional cups of water  to broth in pot and bring to boil. (if using leftover chicken add 5 teaspoons chicken bouillon to water)
  • Add noodles, soup, celery, onion, peas and carrots and cook 5 minutes.
  • Return cubed, cooked chicken back to pot. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer on low for 15 - 20 minutes until veggies and noodles are done (not mushy).
Enjoy!

Ramen Noodle Cabbage Salad Light for Weight Watchers

Yesterday I went to a girls-only poolside party at a friend's home.  I was asked to bring a salad since she knew I was being diligent about my food choices.  I immediately thought of a favorite warm weather salad that I love - Ramen Noodle Cabbage Salad!  As soon as I thought of this side dish, I almost decided it was not a good choice because of the dressing and Ramen noodles. (Did you know that a bowl of packaged ramen noodles is 10 points?)

However, it sounded so good I moved forward. I have been determined to learn ways to eat the foods I love within the Weight Watcher's guidelines, so I found several recipes online and developed a "lighter" version of this tasty salad.  The changes I made involved less oil, sugar substitute and leaving out the seasonings from the package (which some recipes call for and adds 2 pts).  The best part is that it didn't taste any different to me and was a hit with my non-dieting BFFs.  Here's it is:

Ramen Noodle Cabbage Salad Light

Makes 6 large servings (approx 1 1/2 - 2 cups)
WW points+: 5

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 head medium cabbage, shredded (or cole slaw mix)
  • 1-2 tender celery stalks (pieces) sliced thinly
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 oz. sliced almonds
  • 2-3 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 uncooked package chicken Ramen noodle mix (without the seasonings), crumbled
Dressing:
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  • 5 teas. baking sugar substitute (such as Splenda)
  • 1 teas. low sodium soy sodium
 Directions:
  •  Mix cabbage, onions, carrots together in large bowl. 
  • Make Dressing -  In separate small bowl mix oil, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar substitute. Stir and refrigerate.
  • 1/2 hour before serving, add almonds, sesame seeds and crumbled dry Ramen noodles (without the seasoning packet) to salad and mix thoroughly.  Pour dressing mixture over salad and stir again. 
  • Refrigerate 1/2 to 1 hour and serve
Note: The Ramen noodles will soften after a few hours, so leftovers won't have the crunch like the salad did when fresh, however, that doesn't stop anyone from finishing them off!  :)



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Almost All Veggie Spaghetti Sauce for Weight Watchers

I called this my "almost" all veggie spaghetti sauce because it is made primarily with veggies but does have a small portion of ground beef for flavor. I cheat a bit by starting with one of my favorite store bought marinara sauces and doctor it up with the fresh veggies.  It's tasty and easy to make too!

Makes 10 - 1/2 cup servings
WW Points Plus Value per serving: 2

Ingredients:
  •  6 ounces ground beef (or turkey), browned (I keep cooked portions frozen in a freezer bag.)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small eggplant, cubed
  • 1 - 26 ounce jar of low point marinara (the one I used has 1.5g fat, 13g carbs, 3g fiber, 2g protein)
  • Optional: Mushrooms
Directions:
  • Brown ground beef and drain off any remaining oil, or use precooked from your freezer
  • Spray skillet with olive oil
  • Saute onion and green pepper
 Add eggplant, stir into onions and peppers and cook additional 5 minutes, covered.
Add ground beef and spaghetti sauce. Simmer 15-20 minutes, adding a little water if it gets too thick



Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Food Discovery: Sara Lee 45 Calories and Delightful Bread


Even though I don't eat a lot of bread, I made a terrific discovery on my last grocery shopping trip:  Sara Lee has a bread that tastes great and is only 2 points for 2 slices of bread!

Sara Lee offers their "45 Calories and Delightful" brand in white, wheat, whole wheat and multi-grain.  Be sure to run the calculations because I found that a serving of whole wheat came out to 2 points (2 slices) while the multi-grain was 3 points.  Either way, it is quite the point bargain for 2 slices of bread!

Now I can make my big fat turkey sandwich (2 slices of bread, 3 ounces of turkey breast, low-fat mayo, low fat cheese, green pepper slices, tomato and lettuce for 5 points!

Sara Lee's 45 Calories and Delightful bread is very light and fluffy in texture, and tastes great too. Score!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lunch at Sweet Tomatoes Restaurant

Image courtesy of Maderibeyza/morguefile.com
Today I made the mistake of having lunch with my daughter at Sweet Tomatoes without doing my homework ahead of time.  Our lunch was for her birthday, so she chose one of our favorite restaurants, and the choice was made spontaneously after shopping. It did sound good to me too, since I hadn't eaten there in quite a while!

When I got home with their nutritional guide, I began adding my points to my tracker and once I was done I was disheartened that I had only 7 points left for the rest of the day, and it was only 2:00 PM.  Yikes!

Here's how I used up my points so fast:

1 cup Wonton Chicken Happiness Salad = 4 points
1/2 cup Joan's Broccoli Madness Salad = 5 points
2/3 cup Four cheese Alfredo = 4 points
1/2 cup Steamed Veggies with Lemon Herb butter = 2 points
1 cup Smokey Pinto and Brown Rice Soup = 4 points

Grand Total = 19 points!

Better choices might have been:

Minestrone Soup - 1 cup for 3 points
My own salad creation with only greens and free veggies and either Champagne Pear, Poppy Seed Orange or Honey Mustard Dressing, all just 1 point for 2 tablespoons of dressing!
Sweet Potato or Skin-on Mashed Potatoes - 4 points each

This alternative lunch would have only set me back 9 points!

The moral of this story is to plan ahead or at least calculate points before eating anything! I proved to myself once more that it's not easy to determine what foods are the most healthy and lowest in points using estimation alone. There are low point foods you can eat wherever you are but you have to find them!

On the other hand, I kept my portions in check and didn't indulge in desert, so even though I could have chosen better, I'm still proud of myself.  I enjoyed the celebration with my daughter and I have been satisfying my hunger since lunch with fruits and veggies. I know I could use some of my weekly bonus points, but so far I still have my 7 points available and it's almost 7 PM.  Time to eat dinner (Lean Cuisine Steak Tips Portobello for 4 pts)!

Souplantion & Sweet Tomatoes Nutritional Guide


Weekly Weigh-in Update: AND Computer is Back!

Well I finally got MY computer back and gave back my loaner from Staples.  Before I got the loaner, I learned a lot about what my iPod can do, but I don't want to have to be without it ever again for a month!

Today I weighed in 2 pounds lower than last, a drop I am very excited about for several reasons.

1. I am now at the weight I reached a while back when I lost weight on Mediweightloss Program.  THIS time, I know I won't slip and gain a bunch of weight back like I did after quitting that program!

2. I am now in the NORMAL range on the height/weight charts (albeit on the high end) and only one point off of being considered in the healthy BMI range.  I still have another twenty pounds to go to be in the "ideal" or "healthy" weight range range, so I'm not stopping!

Thank you Weight Watchers!




Monday, May 7, 2012

Weight Loss Progress


I'm back after being without a computer for over a month! Talk about withdrawal...and right now I'm actually using a loaner.  You don't realize how much you rely on your PC until you don't have it!

This last Friday, which was my weigh in day, I lost another 1/2 pound, and over the past month that adds up to an additional 4.5 pounds for a grand total this year of 27.4 pounds.  This weightloss journey has not been a quick drop, but a steady decline and one I'm sure I can sustain until I reach my ultimate goal.  Originally I set a goal that I blew past and reset a second goal.  I am now 5 pounds from that goal and plan on re-establishing another goal then that is 20 pounds lower.  If I can reach that goal I will be at the weight I was in my thirties!

I've got a computer, my weight is steadily dropping, and I'm fitting into cute clothes.  Life is good! Thank you Weight Watchers!