What's the draw of almond milk?

Last night I stopped by Trader Joe's on the way home (which is rare because the closest one to my house is 45 min) and saw that almond milk was only $1.99 AND I had a $1 coupon so I decided to try it. I see a lot of weight loss/food bloggers eating this stuff so I thought I'd try it.

I don't get it. I mean, it's okay. It tastes pretty similar to vanilla soy milk if you ask me. It was much better in my oats this morning than drinking it out of a glass, but still. I like oats just fine plain with a little splenda so I don't know why I'd add the extra calories just to have some almondy-ness in my oats.

So if any of you out there just LOVE almond milk, please tell me why. Are you allergic to something that prevents you from drinking regular milk? Lactose intolerant maybe? Let me know.


lacking motivation

We are going on vacation soon and I'm finding it hard to stay on track before we go. The fridge is getting bare of perishable items, meaning less of my favorite fruits and veggies, more frozen/canned junk. It means more cereal for dinner to use up the milk.

Work is getting insane with things that need to get done before we leave, and I know the million-bajillion emails waiting for me when I return will be even worse.

How do you balance summer vacation and motivation?


Flavored Vodka

Making things at home, without preservatives, also applies to adult beverages in my household.

Here, we have some orange flavored vodka my hubs is "cooking" right now. He made pineapple a few years ago and this weekend decided to try a new flavor. He loves pineapple orange juice, so his goal is to make pineapple orange vodka eventually, but he wanted to try plain orange first.

If any of you out there want to try this at home, just cut up your favorite fruit and throw it in a jar with some vodka for a week or so in the chill chest. Then strain it through some cheesecloth and voila!


I broke up with WW today.

The hubs and I have been looking for ways to shred the fat in our budget lately and I finally decided that spending a monthly fee for me to input my food online is one thing we can cut. I've been using the online tools for a year and half now, with minimal results. I haven't really been using all of the tools for a while now. I just put in my foods and don't even need to look up the points. I know what I'm eating. I know how many points I go over, and I know why that is reflected on the scale. The best way for me to get results is to get off my butt. Let's be honest, no web site is going to make me do that. I have to want it on my own.

So I broke up with WW today. They said they'd take me back if I call them.


This is B-A-N-A-N-A-S

The other day, I saw on some foodie blog a recipe for ice cream that was literally just a banana and a splash of milk. THIS I had to try. I love bananas. I love milk. I love ice cream. Basically you wait until said banana turns super brown. Peel it and put it in the freezer. When you are craving some ice cream, pull it out, chop it and throw it in the food processor. Add a splash of milk. Process.

It turns out very like the consistency of ice cream. It does have a very strong banana flavor, so I put a bit of chocolate syrup on mine, it was delish!! Definitely worth the 2points a banana is alone. I didn't add enough milk to make it more than 2 points, but the chocolate sauce is extra.


How to make spaghetti sauce from scratch

I waited until my 'maters were fully ripened before trying this. I promised I wouldn't make this a recipe blog, but you know I love photos, so how about a photo-recipe?

Grab some tomatoes, an onion and some garlic. Score and chop.

I browned ground turkey breast, but you could use any other meat of your liking.

Boil the tomatoes.

Give them an ice bath.

Throw some EVOO, and the chopped onions in a hot pot.

Add the tomatoes after their bath and chopped.

Blend with a stick blender. We call it the motorboat blender.

Add the meat and simmer for a while. Throw in some herbs and sugar.


This was my first ever attempt at making spaghetti sauce, from either can-scratch or real-scratch. I also bought my first onion ever for this recipe. That's how often we eat onions. This was even better the next day too, so make sure you have enough for leftovers. The hubs gave my first try as a 7 out of 10. I'll take it!


Our first trip to the ER as parents

Last night was a scary night for the hubs and me. We came home to find our dog-child bloated and wimpering in pain and he shivered when we touched his belly. We rushed him to the vet ER where he was poked and prodded and x-rayed. He was a little bloated too, but the x-ray said not enough to be concerned about.

It turns out that our baby is becoming an old man (he'll be 6 in December) and has a slipped disk in his back.

So he has some pain meds and steriods to help, but the real struggle will be the 6 weeks of no jumping or running... How do you tell a dog he can't play?


My new goal

My new semi-obsession is to make things from scratch instead of buying jars of it from the store. Since I have a plethora of tomatoes (we planted 7 plants for 2 people, one of which does not like tomatoes in their raw form) and hate buying canned stuff, I'm going to attempt to make spaghetti sauce from scratch. If you are a cook or chef, or can manage somewhat decently in the kitchen, you are probably laughing at me. But I am a complete klutz in the kitchen. If I stray from a recipe, things taste awful. I forget about them when they just need a few more minutes in the oven, and it ends up being charred.

So my new goal is to make an edible, made-from-scratch spaghetti sauce. My very-Italian coworker has provided me with her family's recipe. We'll see how it goes.



During the week, I do try to limit my carb intake, focusing more on lean protein and veggies. I'm sure most people who care anything about their diet probably do something similar. My problem is the weekends. I tend to "carb up" a la Michael Scott before the 5k run. I don't do fettuccine alfredo, but for example, today I ate cereal, a half blt sandwich, vitatop, yogurt, bagel and cream cheese (for dinner) and a G2. I didn't count points today, but you can tell that most of it is carbolicious.

Aside from feeling a little over-carb'ed today, I do feel really productive! We moved into this house about 15 months ago, and I finally cleaned out the boxes that were thrown in the 3rd bedroom closet. I even cleaned out our file cabinet that lives in that closet. I don't know about you, but I always feel better when I get rid of some clutter.


Easy dinner

I brought home a ready-made meal from work the other night. It came with the chicken, tomatoes and sauce. I added the green beans for a healthy and tasty dinner!


diet brownies

I have yet to find an acceptable brownie recipe to please my brownie-loving husband that isn't out of a box. I've tried box mix + can of pumpkin, using applesauce instead of oil, and tonight I tried this recipe from Jillian. It's just barely edible and they are going to work with me tomorrow.

Does anyone have a really good "diet" brownies recipe?


Presto change-o!

I promise, this will not become a recipe blog. Mainly because I suck at cooking. Good thing the hubs can do wonderful things in the kitchen, because his wife cannot. I can bake though. So the other day, I took this guy and made him into some yummy muffins!

I used a Weight Watcher's recipe to turn that medium-sized zucchini (from the hubs' grandma's garden btw) into mini muffins, I'm estimating them about 1.5 points per muffin.

So I basically followed this recipe, but I only have 1 loaf pan, so I through the rest of the batter in the mini muffin pan. I actually ended up liking the little bite-sized ones better than the loaf. They were easy to grab and go for breakfast and cooked more evenly, so if I were you, I'd skip the loaf pan business and go straight to the mini-muffin pan. WW calls this a dessert recipe, but who doesn't love to eat dessert for breakfast?

POINTS® Value:  3
Servings:  20
Preparation Time:  15 min
Cooking Time:  60 min

Level of Difficulty:  Easy


2 serving(s) butter-flavor cooking spray   
2 cup(s) whole wheat flour   
2/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour   
1 tsp table salt   
1 tsp baking soda   
1/2 tsp baking powder   
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon   
3 large egg white(s)   
1 large egg(s)   
1 cup(s) sugar   
2 tsp vanilla extract   
1/3 cup(s) canola oil   
2/3 cup(s) unsweetened applesauce   
2 cup(s) zucchini, peeled, grated, and drained*   
1/2 cup(s) chopped walnuts   
1/2 cup(s) raisins, finely chopped
  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat two 8- X 4-inch loaf pans with cooking spray; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, sift together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon; set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, in a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Add egg, sugar, vanilla extract, oil and applesauce, and beat until thoroughly combined; beat in zucchini.
  • Add sifted ingredients to egg mixture and mix well; fold in nuts and raisins. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake in middle of oven until a toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes. Slice each bread into 10 pieces and serve warm or at room temperature. Yields 1 slice per serving.  


Turkey talk

Did you know there are different levels of ground turkey - similar to ground beef? I was having a conversation this weekend with someone who didn't know you can buy 99 percent fat free ground turkey, as well as the regular ground turkey, which I think is 93/7. There might even be a lower grade, but I've never touched it.

Most of the time, the hubs and I buy 99 percent, which is ground turkey breast. It's a lot more dry than the 93/7, especially if you are making turkey burgers. But if you are going to make any soup or sauce, like spaghetti with it, it's great and so much better for you! I want to tell you that it's good for meatloaf, but the only recipe I've tried for meatloaf was horrible, so I can't.

What is your favorite way to cook ground turkey?


How big is your heart?

This is a semi-disgusting picture, but it's eye-opening and I promise that is not bacon.

This is a photo I took for work of actual hearts (I work at a hospital) at a seminar given by a dietitian. She was teaching people the difference between what a healthy heart looks like (on the right) and an unhealthy heart (the big guy in the middle). Your heart should be the size of your fist. The heart on the right was bigger than my fist, but I have pretty slender hands, and I don't know what that person looked like. The unhealthy heart is obviously that of an overweight or maybe even obese person. When you are overweight, your heart has to work harder to pump the blood because your arteries are full of junk and the blood can't flow freely. So it is forced to get bigger to work harder which is not a good thing, folks. Also, that whitish stuff on both hearts is fat. Keep that in mind next time you want to order fried food.


Saturday mornings

When I get up to run before work, it's basically an angel v. devil debate on my pillow. Angel says "Get up and go work out. You'll feel better and you won't have to worry about it tonight." Devil says "sleep in some more. You can always work out tonight after work."

And that's why I love Saturdays. I can sleep in AND still go run - usually much farther than I do on weekdays because I don't have to watch the clock to go get ready for work.


FIL's house: the bees

Can you tell my other love is taking pictures? I had a really good time walking around the FIL's house with the pup and taking pics.

The other shot I had of the beehive had several bees swarming it, but you couldn't see the "door" and I thought that was more important.

The bees are just one more way the FIL "lives off the land" out in the country. I'm not sure if he actually does anything with this hive, but I know someone* comes and makes some delicious honey out of it. A jar of that honey is sitting in my pantry right now. The hubs has terrible allergies and we've heard that eating local honey can help prevent some seasonal allergies. While this honey is not made in our backyard, it's closer than that bear in the supermarket, I promise.

*someone = the hubs' dad's friends' father. 

Things that prevent me from working out suck.

This is my "I hate traffic" face.


FIL's house: the garden

One thing I wish we had more of at our house is more land so we could plant a bigger garden. At our house in Carbondale we had room to plant a row of corn and could have expanded if we really wanted to. Here, my garden is shoved into a corner of the deck meets the house triangle.

My FIL has tons of land, though, and puts it to good use! He has a LARGE garden with a variety of plants. The things I know he's growing: asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, green peppers, grapes and green beans. Last year he grew cantelope and pumpkins, but I'm not sure if they are there or not this year.

The awesome part about all of these tomato and pepper plants is a little process called canning. Later this summer the hubs and the FIL and I are going to pile up all of our tomatoes and peppers to "can" together.
That's what I call a green bean tee-pee.


Back in the day

Proof that I'm smaller now than I was in 8th grade. This shirt used to be tight on me.

Also proof that my mom keeps everything. 

FIL's house: the eggs

Taking a page out of one of my favorite blogs, I'm house-crashing, at my father-in-law's. This is different because I'm not so much looking in the house, but outside and around at the way my FIL lives and eats. My FIL lives out in the country on several acres of land, giving him plenty of room to garden and really "live off the land." One of the ways my FIL he does that is by raising chickens for their eggs. The hubs and I aren't sure but we think this building was always used for chickens. It's on the land next to my FIL's house - he bought it when the little old lady who lived there passed on. So the chicken coup is actually a building with plenty of room for them to cluck around. Only one cock lives there to take care of his ladies. He's the guy in the middle below.

I went timidly into the coup to grab the eggs from the weekend while we were there. I think my FIL had grabbed a few days before, but I found 14 eggs. The chickens were interested in me, but seemed to flock to the corner once they saw I was just there to get some eggs.

The great thing about these eggs is that they are made from those lovely chickens who have plenty of room to move around, and are not fed any steroids or other drugs.

And those are just some of the benefits. The true benefit for me is the taste. The yolks are more yellow than the store-bought eggs we have to buy when we can't get to my FIL fast enough, and they just taste much better.

Do you know where the chickens lived to produce the eggs you eat? Something to think about.


Waist-to-Hip Ratio

All of you readers- I challenge you to comment (and de-lurk) and tell me your waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). Don't know what that is? Wikipedia knows everything. Here's what "they" say:

"WHR is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips. It is calculated by measuring the smaller circumference of the natural waist, usually just above the belly button, and dividing by the hip circumference at its widest part of the buttocks or hip. The ratio is applied both to women and men, and is used as a measurement of obesity, which in turn is a possible indicator of other more serious health conditions.

A WHR of 0.7 for women and 0.9 for men have been shown to correlate strongly with general health and fertility. Women within the 0.7 range have optimal levels of estrogen and are less susceptible to major diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and ovarian cancers.Men with WHRs around 0.9, similarly, have been shown to be more healthy and fertile with less prostate cancer and testicular cancer."

One of the things I kept track of in the 12 weeks of Biggest Loser is my WHR. It went from .82 to .77.

I have the first number of that decimal, but I think I still need to work on this one.


Beef. It's on the grill

I know what you are thinking. Those are big steaks. How can they be healthy? Well, part of my lifestyle change is eating foods locally and that includes boeuf.

This here cow part was raised somewhere in southern Illinois by some dude and it went from him to a friend to my fridge.

The squash is from my backyard.

Final Weigh In

My stats from the Biggest Loser at work after 12 weeks (and I found a handy percentage calculator online so you can see percent changes):
  • Lost 10 lbs or 5.1 percent of my weight
  • Lost 0.4 percent body fat, an improvement of 1.6 percent
  • Dropped my BMI by 0.4 or 1.5 percent
  • Decreased my hips by almost 2 inches or 4 percent
  • Decreased my waist by more than 3 inches or 8 percent
Not everyone has weighed in yet, so I don't know the winner.