Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good,Old-Fashioned Counting Calories

One of my favorite people (although I don't know her personally, ) is Dr. Laura. (Dr. Dora-my daughter calls her, the second I turn it to her show on the radio while I run errands) She gets right to the point. When callers call in and lament about how they have tried to lose weight and haven't succeeded, she says quite bluntly that in order to lose weight you have to eat less and move more. Yes, that is exactly right, but I needed something more specific. I had no idea where to begin. I did a lot of research on the Internet about counting calories. It really does make the most sense to me out of all the diets out there. As I have learned, you have to burn more calories than you take in if you want to lose weight. Well, I think my other attempts had failed because I didn't know how many calories I was taking in. It's time consuming and it takes patience to add them all up and keep track of everything you eat, but it's worth it. If you google BMI, (body mass index)enter your height, weight,desired weight and activity level, it will tell you exactly how many calories you need to eat to lose the exact number of pounds you want to lose. It will also tell you how many calories you need to maintain your current weight if that is what you are looking to do. (shape.com has a great BMI calculator) More tips I learned and liked are to keep your diet simple, overestimate your calories by a few 100 if you are guesstimating the amount. So, I'm just an average girl that found something that worked! So, here are my tiny little pearls of wisdom to dispense, hopefully it helps!

The Basics of Weight Loss
(another gem I found on the Internet, some of them might seem obvious, but the specifics are helpful in making your weight loss plan a success)

1. Choose fruits
2. Choose snacks low in added sugar (lean meats,low fat cottage cheese)
3. Choose snacks high in protein (reduced-fat yogurt,slices of turkey,mozzarella cheese,skim milk with berries,hard boiled eggs, raw almonds)
4. Choose snacks high in fiber/low fat (cherry tomatoes,baby carrots,celery sticks,raw broccoli or cauliflower dipped in fat-free ranch, 2 dill pickles,add dried cranberries to yogurt, scrambled eggs with whole wheat english muffin)
5. Keep portions small

Another nice thing about this method I have found is that you can keep it simple, but you really don't have to just eat celery all day long in order to lose weight. I found a few sample 1200-1300, calorie diets that I have gotten many of my ideas from. The nice thing about these sample meal plans is that they use everyday foods. They are simple, realistic and easy to follow. You don't have to experience burn out by eating the same thing every single day. I started out simple and then later added some different dinner recipes, that fit into however many calories I had left for dinner. The good news is that you really don't have to eat boring stuff for the rest of your life in order to lose or maintain your weight! You can still have choices! I used to think that was the case, and it frustrated me because I knew there was no way I could do that for the rest of my life. Cooking and eating good food is supposed to be fun! I think it's best when you decide to lose weight, not to "feel" like you are on a diet. I tried the deprivation method and I totally sabotaged myself!

Day 1

Breakfast: 1 plain waffle,1 t. maple syrup, 8 oz.water,1 tsp, butter or margarine

Lunch: 1 c. skim milk,1 salad with romaine lettuce, 1/2 c. each carrots,green peppers, cabbage, celery. 1 tbs. light dressing,1 whole grain roll

Afternoon Snack: 1/2 c. sliced strawberries,6 oz. fat-free flavored yogurt

Dinner: 3 oz. sirloin steak, lean only, broiled or grilled w/out added fat. 1 c. rice, 1 tsp.butter or margarine,1/2 c. cooked carrots,1 mixed green salad,2 t. fat-free dressing

Evening Snack: 1 Orange

Day 2

Breakfast: 2 pancakes, 4 "round, 1 t, fruit spread or maple syrup

Morning snack: 1 c. skim milk, 1 peach

Lunch: 1 salad with mixed greens,1 t. fat-free dressing,6 saltine crackers,3 oz, tuna fish-albacore,water packed. 1 apple

Afternoon Snack: 1/2 oz. chocolate (about 4 chocolate kisses)

Dinner: 1 c. cooked pasta, 1/2 c. spaghetti sauce,meatless,1 mixed green salad, 1 t. fat free dressing

Evening Snack: 1 c. skim milk, 1 whole graham cracker

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Give Me A Piece Of That Sweet Potato Pie!

I've heard many times that sweet potatoes were good for you. I know that Oprah endorses them on her show when talking about weight loss. I've always really liked them, ever since I was little and my mom made her traditional Thanksgiving Yam Apple Casserole. So, I decided to just do a little research about why these sweet potatoes are good for you. I found out that they have Vitamin A as well as Vitamin C, which contain antioxidants to eliminate free radicals. What that means is (I think I have ever only heard of free radicals on Neutrogena commercials up until now) free radicals contain chemicals that damage cells and are associated with conditions such as: diabetic heart disease and colon cancer. So, the antioxidants in sweet potatoes, obviously, can help protect against those conditions. Sweet potatoes also contain Vitamin B6 which can help protect against stroke and heart attack. Plus, they taste good and 1 cup is only about 180 calories. Which can be better than that? I started incorporating the idea of sometimes having a Progresso light soup and 1/2 a sweet potato for lunch. (yes, I got the idea when I looked up different celebrity diets, which I sometimes do when I am bored, and Tori Spelling has that for lunch-just an interesting, not that important side note) They are easy to bake in the oven, 350 degrees for about an hour, or what my sister-in-law does is put them in boiling water until they are soft and once they have cooled, she just pulls the peels right off. So, I found a few fun sweet potato recipes I have used for dinner, that I thought maybe some of you out there might like to try! Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

(Yes, even Ron liked these! He thought they sounded a little weird at first, but he was pleasantly surprised. These are actually quite high in calories, so I added a few modifications to help with that)
Serves: 6


5 sweet potatoes
1 8 oz. package cream cheese (I used reduced fat)

4 green onions

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp. ground oregano

1 tsp. dried sage

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

12 (7 inch) corn tortillas

1 can (19 ounce) enchilada sauce

1 (8 oz.) package shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I use fat-free cheese if I can, although it's pretty expensive, so If I use regular I just use half as much


1. Bring a large pot and water to boil over medium heat and boil the sweet potatoes until tender, about 30 minutes. Cool and peel the sweet potatoes.

2. Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl and mash them with the cream cheese,green onions, chili powder,cumin,oregano, salt and pepper until well mixed

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray

*This fourth step I skipped to make it lower fat

4. Heat 1/2 c. oil in a skillet over medium heat. fry the tortillas, one at a time, for about 30 seconds per side. Remove tortillas with tongs, and drain on paper towels.

5. Place about 1/3 cup of sweet potato filling down the center of each tortilla,roll it up, and place filling side seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Pour enchilada sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.

(Since I find that corn tortillas are hard to roll up without breaking, I just cut them into strips first and later like you would a lasagna-tortillas,filling,sauce,cheese, repeat)
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until the enchiladas are bubbling and the cheese begins to brown

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
2 servings, 2 cups each Calories: 374

2 tsps. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion
1 small sweet potato,peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic
2 tsps. ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground chipotle chili (I just used regular chipotle seasoning)
1/8 tsp. salt.or to taste
1 1/3 cups water
1 15-ounce can black beans,rinsed and drained
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
2 tsps. lime juice
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and potato and cook,stirring often, until the onion is slightly softened,about 4 min. Add garlic,chili powder, cumin,chipotle, and salt and cook.stirring constantly until fragrant,about 30 seconds. Add water,bring to a simmer. Cover,reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add beans,tomatoes and lime juice;Increase heat to high and return to simmer,stirring often. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.