Friday, July 30, 2010

Juuuuust Right!

I've been reading a lot about the benefits of oatmeal, specifically the steel-cut variety. I am a big fan of hot cereal for breakfast, have fond memories of my Mom serving me Cream of Rice as a child, so I didn't need much encouragement to give them a try. The only deterrent to steel-cut versus regular oatmeal is the time factor: they do take longer to cook. This is where I put my slow cooker to good use! I tweaked Alton Brown's recipe ever-so-slightly and came up with this warm & tasty goodness.

Overnight Oatmeal

-------- ------------ --------------------------------
1 cup oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup raisins
4 cups water
1/2 cup half and half

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients and set to warm heat. Cover and let cook for 8 to 9 hours.

In the morning, turn heat to "low" for about an hour. Stir and remove to serving bowls. This method works best if started before you go to bed. This way your oatmeal will be finished by morning.

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 301 Calories; 6g Fat (18.0% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 56g Carbohydrate; 6g Dietary Fiber; 11mg Cholesterol; 25mg Sodium.

Oh, my goodness! This was fabulous! I managed to grab one scoopful before my kids swooped in and gobbled the rest right up, I will definitely be making this again...tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Little Engine that Could

I am still so tired today, not sure what's up with that. Beren had to be on a job site at 6 am so we rolled out of bed early (thank the goddess for automatic coffeemakers!), had our morning java together and then he was out the door. I eyed my treadmill, reminding myself that since I was up earlier than usual I had no excuse not to hop in there. Oh, I was fighting a serious case of the don't wanna's, believe me! I was searching for some other reason excuse to avoid working out..something, anything would surely be better than sweatin' it out on that hateful contraption! Well, I'm happy to report that I bit the bullet, forced myself on there and am so glad I did! Even though I was moving a bit slower than the other day, I still logged 30 minutes, 1.7 miles, burned 212 calories. I'm pleased with that especially since halfway through I wanted to give up but pushed on despite the discomfort.That little Thomas Train mantra kept rolling through my head...I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! And guess what? I did!

I'd better get my caboose to the office but before I do, here's a little recipe for you  It's Tuesday which means Pizza Night here at the Castle. I'm still recovering from my weekend indulgence so I will be having my own dinner, something quick yet hearty and satisfying. I found this recipe here, modified it slightly to use what I have on hand.

Brown Rice and Black Bean Salad

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1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
14 1/2 ounces tomatoes with green chilies
1/2 cup green bell pepper -- finely chopped
1/2 cup onion -- finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
15 ounces canned black beans -- rinsed and drained

Cook brown rice according to package directions.

Mix all other ingredients together, stir in rice until well combined.

Serves 6

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 235 Calories; 6g Fat (22.9% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 39g Carbohydrate; 5g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 675mg Sodium.

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Monday, July 26, 2010

Just Another Manic Monday

Ugh! Is anyone else absolutely dragging today? I had such a lovely weekend but it was, as always, much too short.

Beren and I spent Sunday afternoon enjoying all that the area had to offer, starting with a nice walk on the beach...

followed by lunch....mmm...that Ahi Tuna was to die for!

then we stopped by a local biker hang-out to hear a new-to-us band...

came home and relaxed in the backyard for a bit....

and sharing some margaritas with friends & family...Yes, I admit to having a couple and paid for it this morning..groan...but ate very clean today so I don't feel too guilty.

How was everyone else's Monday?


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Beat the Heat

I had a wonderful walk on the beach this morning despite the blazing heat. The weather bulletin says it's "only" 88°F but it feels hotter, even with the light breeze from the ocean wafting by. Still, I did my usual 30 minutes, about 1.5 miles but I think it counts as more of a workout since I'm barefoot on the hard Daytona Beach sand. Don't you agree?

Hard as I tried, though, I couldn't keep up with this older gentleman..I'd speed up and pass him yet within a few minutes there he was, leaving me in the dust! Either he's in amazingly good shape or he just has an advantage over me with those long legs. Yeah, that's it!

We got home, unloaded the car and then I started planning a menu for the rest of the weekend. Since some of my kids & their friends are on the road, heading this way...

I'll be feeding the "normal" amount of people instead of just little ol' me & Beren. We will definitely be doing a BBQ tomorrow, happened to find this interesting-looking salad from Real Simple, never would have considered this combination of produce, what do you think?

Since I have everything on hand, I'm gonna give it a try, will let you know how it turns out.

In the meantime, I'm going to go play with my dog..he apparently knows his friend's on the way and only wants to sit in front the window and wait for her!

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Baja - Ahhh.....

You know I try to cook for myself whenever possible, and when I'm unable to I aim for the freshest, healthiest restaurant fare available. However, there are those occasions when for whatever reason that's not possible. Last night was a perfect example. We were in the car headed to Ormond, already late in our departure. It was dinnertime, there was nothing portable at home to tote along, and I was hungry. Oh, and we had a wolfdog in the car, thereby limiting our dining out options considerably. Beren grabbed a bologna sandwich (ewww!) and some potato chips (groan) but I wasn't going to settle for that so I waited, and pondered. After about an hour on the road I asked him to pull into Wendy's. I'd seen ads for a new line of salads and wanted to give them a try. Perusing the drive-thru menu while holding back an overly-friendly dog who wanted nothing more than to greet the terrified attendant, I settled on the Baja Salad.

Looks pretty good, right? Until you check out the nutritional content: 740 calories and 47 grams of fat! Whoa, Baby! That's quite a bit of calories & fat for a "healthy" salad, don't you agree? Fortunately I was able to make some alterations. Since they forgot to include the packet of tortilla strips (maybe Loki had something to do with that) I didn't add those, nor did I eat the chili. I'm not a big meat-eater anyway, and honestly couldn't imagine dumping a bowl of hot chili on top of the cool crispness. By eliminating those items and only using half of the dressing, I brought the calories down to only about 450 calories. Still a bit high but avocado is good fat and I thoroughly enjoyed this salad, would definitely purchase it again should I find myself in a similar predicament.

Now, what I'd prefer to do is make my own (similar) version after a tiny bit of research I've found that I'm able to do just that! Thanks to Cooking Light, they never let me down!

Southwestern Cobb Salad

Other Time: 20 minutes minutes
Yield: 4 servings

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

3 slices center-cut bacon
Cooking spray
8 ounces skinless, boneless turkey breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 cups torn romaine lettuce
1/2 cup refrigerated fresh pico de gallo
1/2 cup diced avocado
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained

1. To prepare vinaigrette, combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add oil, stirring constantly with a whisk; set aside.

2. To prepare salad, cook bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Wipe pan clean with paper towels. Increase heat to medium-high. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle turkey with salt. Add turkey to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until done.

3. Arrange 2 cups lettuce on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with about 2 teaspoons bacon, 5 tablespoons turkey, 2 tablespoons pico de gallo, 2 tablespoons avocado, 2 tablespoons queso fresco, 1 tablespoon onions, and about 1/3 cup beans. Drizzle vinaigrette evenly over salads.

CALORIES 293 ; FAT 13.6g (sat 2.5g,mono 7.2g,poly 3g); CHOLESTEROL 44mg; CALCIUM 117mg; CARBOHYDRATE 19.9g; SODIUM 455mg; PROTEIN 22.4g; FIBER 6.6g; IRON 3.1mg

Cooking Light, JULY 2010

With all of those calories I saved, I'll be able to enjoy a low-cal margarita for Happy Hour! Olé!!

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Will Walk for Wine

After a long absence, I dusted off my treadmill this morning (which also included lifting the 20 pound feline who's made it his bed) and hopped back on. I didn't want to, had all kinds of excuses not to, but then I remembered a game I played when I used to exercise consistently. It's called "walk for wine" and consists of staying on the treadmill or walking path until I am sure that I've burned enough calories to equal a glass of wine..or two. Now, you all know how much I enjoy my chardonnay yet I feel guilty indulging in empty calories so this is the perfect solution! No walking? Then no wine. Ha!

So I turned up my i-pod and kept in mind how lovely a nice cool glass of vino would taste during happy hour tonight...worked and walked and focused and before I knew it 30 minutes had passed and lookie here!

30 minutes, 1.7 miles = 212 calories burned, enough for 3 glasses of wine if I so choose! No saying I'm going to drink all three, but you know...just in case...wink..

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Curds and Whey

"Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey,
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away."

Does anyone out there know what "curds and whey" actually are? I didn't but a quick google soon provided the answer...from Cheesaholics blog I discovered that today's curds and whey are comparable to cottage cheese. Huh. And all this time I thought it was a type of oatmeal! You learn something new every day.

Now, I happen to love cottage cheese..heck, I love cheese of any sort. Since my dogs also enjoy the stuff, I try to keep a Costco-sized vat of it in my fridge at all times. In addition to eating it straight, I also top it with fruit and use it as a substitute for ricotta cheese in recipes. I'd never thought of combining it with eggs, though, until I saw the recipe below from the Eat-Clean website:

Eat-Clean Egg Salad

Egg Salad is the perfect school lunch! It’s hearty, tasty and takes no time at all to prepare. Trade the fatty, mayonnaise-laden version for this Eat-Clean recipe from my latest book, The Eat-Clean Diet for Family and Kids! Make sure to pack it in a cooler.


• 1/4 cup / 60 ml fat-free cottage cheese
• 1 Tbsp / 15 ml skim milk
• 1 tsp / 5 ml mustard
• 4 hardboiled egg whites, diced
• 1 hardboiled yolk
• 2 Tbsp / 30 ml chopped green onion
• 2 Tbsp / 30 ml chopped celery
• Dash curry powder
• 1/4 tsp / 1 ml sea salt


1. Whip cottage cheese and milk until smooth in medium-sized mixing bowl.
2. Blend remaining ingredients except egg whites with cottage cheese mixture.
3. Add diced egg whites to cottage cheese mixture. Mix well.

SERVINGS: 1 cup of egg salad
Calories: 170
Calories from Fat: 30
Fat: 3.5g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Trans Fat: 0g
Protein: 17g
Carbs: 18g
Dietary Fiber: 3.5g
Sodium: 528mg
Cholesterol: 106mg

Mmm...guess what I'll be having for lunch today? Perhaps Miss Muffet would like to join me? *wink*

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Eye Candy

Some more eye candy for you..enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Menu Planning ~ Week of July 19

So, here we are again, Monday morning. *groan* I don't know about you guys, but I sure didn't want to get up and go to work this morning! I'd much rather be sitting by my pool sipping coffee planning a shopping trip! Alas, if Mama wants new shoes, she's gotta earn the bucks to pay for them, right?

Before I head to the office, I'm going to plan my menu for the week so that I can stop by the grocery store after work for necessary ingredients. We all know that planning is the key to success and I intend to have a successful week!

Meatless Monday ~ Pasta with Eggplant and Mushrooms (recipe below)
Take-Out Tuesday ~ Pizza for Beren & the kids, leftovers for me
Weigh-In Wednesday ~ Grilled Breast of Chicken Marsala with Grilled Carrots
Thrifty Thursday ~ Chickpea Curry
Fishy Friday ~ Cajun Shrimp Stir-Fry
Slow-Mo Saturday ~ Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Stew
Social Sunday ~ Grilled Portabella Mushroom Sandwich for me, BBQ burgers, etc for the family

Pasta with Eggplant and Mushrooms

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1 medium eggplant
8 ounces mushrooms -- sliced thin
1/2 large onion
14 ounces diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
sweet basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 pound whole wheat pasta

Cut eggplant into 1 inch chunks. Saute in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add diced onion and mushrooms and onions and garlic. Saute for approximately 10 minutes, until onions and mushrooms are soft.

Add salt and pepper to taste, along with crushed red pepper, bay leaves and sweet basil. Add canned (or fresh) tomatoes. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.
Simmer for approximately thirty minutes.

Cook whole wheat pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and top with eggplant mixture.

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Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 351 Calories; 6g Fat (14.5% calories from fat); 13g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 16mg Sodium. Exchanges: 4 Grain(Starch); 2 Vegetable; 1 Fat.

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Sunday, July 18, 2010

On a Roll

Happy Sunday morning! I hope everyone's having a great weekend so far. Yesterday was rather gloomy and overcast so I took advantage of the dreary weather, stayed inside and did some major housekeeping.

The biggest thing on my "to-do" list was a complete pantry clean-out. I have the worst cabinet system in my house, very deep shelves which makes it nearly impossible to find anything in there! My solution is to make wise use of Tupperware but still, things often get pushed to the back and lost. So, yesterday I took every single thing out, wiped down the shelves and examined every item before putting it back. If it was outdated, it obviously got tossed, same thing with open items that weren't stored properly (ahem..thanks, kids!) but I also cleaned out some "junk food" that nobody needed. I know it might have been wasteful to toss the stuff, but much better for my waistline, you know?

This clean-out not only benefited my kitchen and my body, it also allowed me to take a good inventory of what I have on hand, making menu planning much easier. I'll be writing about that tomorrow, plan to gather some recipes tonight and make a grocery list.

So, as I was working yesterday I was thinking about the question Mark asked on my last post, wondering how I can work 5-6 meals into a busy day. As I told him, the way I do it is to pack a cooler. Since I have a desk job with a refrigerator and microwave nearby, it's not as difficult for me as some but I still think it's do-able in most working environments. Since I'm only bringing lunch and a couple of snacks, I am able to pack everything into this cool lunchbag I bought from Costco (I paid about $18 and it included containers!), but if you are a bigger eater or need to bring more meals, a little Igloo-type cooler would be perfect.

In here I packed a salad with chicken & olive oil, cup of Green yogurt, blueberries, string cheese, apple, sliced cucumber and an ounce of cocoa-almonds for when the afternoon sweet craving hit. Because the bag expands it really holds a lot of stuff!

So, there you go. I'd love to hear how everyone else plans their meals & menus! As for me, I have some more chores to do before I head out to the pool, better get to it!

Have a Beauty-full Day,

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Big Easy

For a couple of years now, I've been asking Beren to take me to New Orleans. With my passion for all things French combined with my appreciation of burlesque (and sexy ladies in general), I just know I'd love it! He's already been there and though he enjoyed it, he would prefer to visit somewhere new on vacation. Well, now that we've been living part time in North Florida, it's "only" about a 9-hour drive from our doorstep to his favorite bar, a much more do-able trip. So, we just might be taking a little vacation sometime in the very near future! In the meantime, I'll start planning and getting into the spirit with some Canjun cooking!

Let me tell you, my man loooooves his Jambalaya. He's been tweaking the recipe for years, taste testing from various restaurants in order to perfect his own version. Honestly, I couldn't share the recipe with you even if I wanted to, it's such a mishmash of ingredients which of course he doesn't measure or weigh. I know that he starts with this basic recipe which as you can see is pretty high in calories & sodium, yikes! I admit, it is delicious but not very healthy and certainly not "clean."

So, while Beren's in the kitchen cooking up his dinner, I'll be alongside him whipping up this healthy version:

Shrimp Jambalaya

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1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 clove minced garlic
16 ounces stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup water
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp red pepper
1 dash pepper
1 pound shrimp -- Shelled and deveined
2 cups cooked brown rice
Pam cooking spray

In a saucepan coated with Pam, cook onion, pepper and garlic until tender. Stir in stewed tomatoes, water, bay leaves thyme, basil, red pepper, shrimp, and cooked rice. Bring to a boil and reeduce heat. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Stir frequently.

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Serves 4. Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 276 Calories; 3g Fat (9.7% calories from fat); 27g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 173mg Cholesterol; 201mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 0 Fat.

NOTES : Note: If you don't like shrimp you can substitute chicken breast.

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Half a Pound..

That's what I lost this week. Well, .60 actually. You know, I'm pleased with that! It shows that I'm on the right track and know that next week will be even better.

In doing more research on "clean eating," I found that some people give themselves one meal a week to "cheat." I think that's a great idea for me, will prevent deprivation and give me something to look forward to. (Pizza night comes to mind!) And one meal is no big deal, I can certainly bounce back from that.

I'm finding this way of eating to be easier than I'd imagined. I tend to be a "healthy" eater anyway, my issue has always been portion control and giving into temptation for the dreaded "white stuff." The less I eat of that, the fewer cravings I have. Loading up on good protein helps, too. Beren grilled me up a bunch of chicken breasts over the weekend, I cut them into 4 oz portions and separated them into ziploc bags, ready to go for lunch or dinner. I'm going to ask him to do some fish for me next, perhaps a nice mahi or salmon..yummy!

I've been taking pictures of some of my meals, will try to share them with you tomorrow. Thanks to my ex-husband the computer guru I finally have my laptop back, yippee!!

Off to work..hope you all have a beauty-full day!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cleaning Up

Photobucket's wonderful what a day on the couch will do to a girl! I only left the house for an hour yesterday, just long enough to pick up books & dvd's from the library and dinner ingredients from the gourmet market. It's so hot here, 93 degrees after sundown last night, that holing up in the a/c was not a hardship at all. I'm feeling a little better this morning, thanks to all of you for your well wishes!

One of the books I checked out from the library is The Eat-Clean Diet by Tosca Reno. I've heard a lot about "clean eating" and wanted a bit more information. Have any of you read this and/or follow this diet? The author is in her late 40's and looks amazing. Yeah, ok, she's probably had a bit of work done and yeah she works out a ton but still...what would I give for those abs?!

I skimmed through the pages yesterday and thought, "wow, this is the way my ex-husband the bodybuilder used to eat." Protein powder. Oatmeal. Egg whites. Chicken Breast. Whole grain. 6 small meals a day. Very popular way of eating for the gym rats and, yes, I can attest to the fact that it works. My ex and his buddies had great bodies with very little fat and had a lot of energy.

More importantly, though, is whether or not it's do-able for me. Here are the basic principles:

• Eat 5-6 small meals, everyday
• Eat every 2-3 hours
• Combine lean protein & complex carbs at every meal
• Drink at least 8 cups of water, everyday
• Never miss a meal, especially breakfast
• Avoid all over-processed foods, especially white flour and white sugar
• Avoid saturated and trans fats
• Avoid sugar-loaded colas and juices
• Consume adequate healthy fats (EFAs) everyday
• Avoid alcohol
• Avoid calorie dense foods that contain little nutritional value
• Depend on fresh fruits and vegetables for fiber, vitamins and enzymes
• Stick to proper portion sizing

Sounds pretty easy, right? The only thing I'd have a problem with is, frankly, the avoidance of alcohol. You all know how much I enjoy my vino! So, I'm going to do my best with that part.

If you want to learn more and don't necessarily want to purchase the book, check out the Sparkpeople Team Forum for Clean Eating. Lots of information and support there!

I did a quick grocery run this morning, came home and made breakfast. Following the basic principles, ate: 3 egg whites scrambled with diced green peppers, 1/2 a cup of oatmeal with raisins, a teaspoon of unsweetened applesauce and a splash of almond milk. Filling and delicious!

I'll keep you posted on how the rest of the day goes..hope yours is Beauty-Full!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Quiet Time

No moment on the scale this week but since it's "that time of the month" I am grateful. I know that next week I'll have a loss, will just keep plugging along as I have been. I'm also fighting a summer cold, feeling rather miserable, so today I'm going to spend some quiet time on the couch with a good book, a bottle of Advil and a big pitcher of mint-infused ice water.

I've been making some changes in my diet, focusing on "real" food and avoiding processed stuff as much as possible so this recipe from Real Simple magazine really appeals to me. (pasta is "real" food, isn't it?) I am changing the portion size, no way am I eating a 600+ calorie dinner and using whole wheat pasta to make it more healthful. I can't wait to use the fresh-picked tomatoes from my garden!

Pasta With Marinated Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Serves 4
Hands-on Time: 15m
Total Time: 25m


* 1 1/2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, diced
* 1/2 small sweet onion, roughly chopped
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 8 ounces bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella), quartered, or fresh mozzarella, cubed
* kosher salt and pepper
* 1 pound dried fettuccine
* 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn


1. In a large bowl, gently combine the tomatoes, onion, oil, bocconcini, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside and let marinate at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Add the drained pasta and basil to the marinated tomatoes and toss to combine. Divide among individual bowls.

Tip: The longer the tomato mixture marinates, the more flavorful it becomes. Keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Spoon it over chicken or warm bread.

Nutritional Information

Calories 688; Calories From Fat 27%; Fat 21g; Sat Fat 9g; Cholesterol 40mg; Sodium 891mg; Carbohydrate 95g; Fiber 5g; Sugar 6g; Protein 26g

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

You Tube Tuesday: Girth Control

I like this 1940's way of exercise, if only it were that easy!

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

Hope everyone has a safe & happy Fourth of July!