Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Goal : Be a Loser!

So, today is the last day of January and I am determined to have better weight loss in February than I did this past month. I really need to work on burning more calories than I consume, because I know that the key to losing weight should be eating less and moving more. This article from sparkpeople explains this pretty well, I think, so check it out if you’re wondering how to do this.

 To facilitate this better-than-last-month-weight loss, I’m really going to focus on making sure I log my food, water, and exercise every day during the month of February by using the myfitnesspal Ap on my phone.  I plan to keep detailed notes of everything.  I am also going to exercise everyday in February and log it, even if that simply means a walk around the block. I will also vary my exercise routine a little more, including not only activities I do, but also times of day that I do them.   My lofty goal is to lose 5-10 pounds in February. No gain though, that is the most important thing.  What I want my scale to say to me next: Hello Loser!

What My Scale Said Wednesday 2

Ahhh, the importance of words...Wouldn't it be great if all scales had messages of support and motivation?
Trust me, when my scale #s aren't moving much, I'm glad my scale says stuff like this to me

Photo by Shannon Recktenwald/2013

Truth: The number on my scale was not my friend this week. I didn't gain weight so that's a plus, but I didn't lose anything either.  I'm trying very hard not to be so number-on -the-scale dependent, but it's hard, especially when that number fluctuates up and down and down and up. I'm half expecting it to move sideways now!

I feel thinner this week which is what I'm trying to focus on, because my strubborn scale # just isn't budging! I'm feeling thinner whether my scale # agrees or not, and that is a good thing.

So I guess that just means working harder. yuck. I'm just glad that when my scale decides to talk, she says nice things to me. Her motivational words are what will help me get through this day.  I hope your scale says nice things to you today.

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's been awhile since I've participated in Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Mostly, I can't participate because I haven't planned my weekly meals in time. Not so, this week...I am on the ball. nCheck out Laura's Site. It's very cool.
Monday:  Stir fry and Leftovers
Veggie Stir fry by Shannon Recktenwald/2013
I used the sauce from this old Cooking Light recipe: Garden Vegetable Stir fry with Tofu and Brown Rice .  I doubled the sauce ingredients, mixed them together and set it aside. Next I water "sweat sauteed" a variety of fresh stir fry veggies. I got Trader Joe's Asian Vegetable Stir fry, a bowl full of fresh pre cut stir fry vegetables. I added sliced green onion as well and 1 tsp minced garlic, and shook ginger over the top of all the veggies. While the veggies were cooking I  boiled some authentic Asian Ramen noodles, then drained and set aside in a serving bowl.  When veggies were done, I poured sauce over it and boiled for 2 minutes to thicken. then I poured the veggie/sauce mixture over the noodles and mixed all together. 4 out of 5 of us liked it. I will add more veggies next time.
Tuesday: Big salad for DH and I. Turkey clubs for the kids.
Wednesday: Vegetarian  Lasagna and salad
Thursday:  Homemade quesadillas and salsa
Friday: LO quesadillas and salad for DH and I. Pizza for kids
Saturday:   Black bean soup for DH and I.  Fish sticks, veggies, fruit, and mac n cheese for the kids.
(current plan anyway)
Photo by on the web
wings for the kids
homemade football sugar cookies
pizza bites

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Self Love Sunday . . . Start Today

Spurred by the one of the latest posts on Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans called How Do I Love Me?, I decided to make that the focus of this blog entry. The questions asked on Shrinking Jeans are good ones and worthy of some deep introspection. It is easy for all of us to get bogged down in negative self talk. What we need is a positive self image playbook, a list of positive affirmations we can read each day and focus on.  It can be as easy as a list.

Start with five the first day. Think about positive affirmations (general and/or personal) and either come up with your own or find some on the web and write them down or type them onto your calendar on your smart phone.
For example:
I am beautiful inside and out.
I have a good mind and use it to make good decisions and choices.
I have a wonderfully inviting smile.
I am a work in progress.
I am enough.
The next day, read the first 5 and then come up with 5 more. The idea is to find positive things to write about yourself and to remind yourself how great you are. Hopefully, if you do this every day for awhile, you will not only feel better about yourself, but hopefully, you will eliminate some of the  negative self talk that we have all succumbed to at some point or another. Hopefully, you will do it long enough to really enjoy it and make it a habit rather than just an activity or exercise. And hopefully, you will learn to love yourself a little more. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Day Without Peanut Butter...

Yesterday was National Peanut Butter Day, and I didn't think it would be right to let this week pass without acknowledging the lunchbox favorite.

I have always liked peanut butter. I think it stems from the fact that, as a child, when we went camping or when we took long car trips, my mom would always pack peanut butter crackers. There was never a point, it seemed, when one of the five of us kids wasn't eating the crackers and pushing the crumbs onto the car floor as we tidied ourselves up afterwards. It was a great snack for us: quick and easy to make, filling, and extremely portable. I  found as my own kids were growing up, I'd always take peanut butter crackers with us as snacks too. Sometimes, if we take a long car trip, I still do. All I can say is that my mother is a wise, wise woman.

Peanut butter crackers or PB & J sandwiches were also great to take to school for lunch. Back then, all we had was peanut butter. Other nut butters were not in fashion yet. My dad LOVED and STILL LOVES peanut butter. His motto is

A Day Without Peanut Butter is Like a Day Without Sunshine.
It was nothing for him to just go get a big ol' spoonful of peanut butter and nothing else. I can't do that, but my peanut butter loving son (and my dad's namesake) does it almost every day. His favorite way to eat it though is with pretzels or in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. 
Thankfully, my PB loving son does not like peanut butter toast. For some reason, the smell makes me want to hurl. In fact, when my dad comes to visit, he is forbidden to make peanut butter toast unless I'm gone from the house, and even then there are aromatic traces of it for days.  I love peanut butter, but not warm peanut butter; or worse, broiled peanut butter. Yuck!
My favorite way to eat peanut butter in a recipe is  +The Wannabe Chef's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Dessert Hummus .  If fact, I do believe it's on our super bowl party menu. It's great with sliced apples and graham crackers and is totally delish!
Another good memory I have about peanut butter is a story I used to tell my little brother when I baby sat for him. The Peanut Butter King, I called it. I was demonstrative when I told it and even used sound effects, and as I pretended to be that king, my little brother would belly laugh...and it was the sweetest sound. I'll always be grateful to peanut butter  and +Shel Silverstein for that. I was retelling +Shel Silverstein's wonderful poem, Peanut-Butter Sandwhich.  which I have retold to my own kids too, and it was just as loved.
As I mentioned earlier, it seems that nut butters are all the rage these days . Healthy grocery stores even have bulk bins of peanuts and other nuts that you can grind (with the store machine) into a "butter" for a truly natural product. Despite the many choices now for nut butters, I am a Jiff girl through and through. I like the flavor of lots of other peanut butters, but Jiff is creamy and easy to spread and does not need to be refrigerated which I love. I also don't like having peanut butters that I have to stir. All I want to do is spread it and eat it. No rigmarole for me.
      What is your favorite kind of nut butter?
 and Do you have a favorite peanut butter
memory or recipe to share?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What My Scale Said Wednesday 1

Well today is Wednesday, weigh in day. I am down 1.2 pounds which makes up for my 1 pound gain last week. So, basically I broke even. I'll take it. Any loss is better than any gain. In my mind, instead of a number, this is what my scale really said this morning:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Weigh In Jitters

Tomorrow is weigh in day...dum, dum, dum, dum, dum...
My goals last week were

*to drink more water - check
*to exercise more - check
*to keep blogging and logging my food and exercise - check

Weigh in day makes me nervous, indeed, but I will persevere no matter what the results. I am in this for the long haul. I feel thinner this week whether I lose anything or not. I will keep these goals for next week as well. 

One thing I have loved this week is the MyFitnessPal ap for my iPhone. It's been so handy to log my food, water, and exercise with it. I love the convenience of it because it only helps me to stay on track and keep logging. It helps me remain accountable, and I love that.

I tried 2 new recipes over the past few days, both from Happy Herbivore. One was a hit with 4  out of 5 of us,and that one is the Cinnamon Bun recipe.My picture is below. They were easy to make and relatively quick since you don't have to let them sit to rise. I did make extra glaze. My three sons all liked them.Only DH did not.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Almost There...

Well, while my +Shrinking Jeans challenge is in full swing, my +21 Day Vegan Kickstart is coming to an end. Two days from now it will be over and I will have a decision to make: stay vegan or just go back to vegetarianism. I'm really not sure yet what I want to do.

My head says that I should probably stay away from dairy. As a child I was allergic to milk. I grew out of that, but to this day, if I have had too much dairy, my stomach will give me problems: bloating, nausea, and pain. Early in life,I was diagnosed as having too much acid in my stomach and I even had an ulcer because of it. The funny thing is that they told me then (30 some odd years ago mind you) to drink milk to coat my stomach...that drinking milk would actually help, not hurt my stomach. Funny since milk itself is acidic, but then that is what they told me. So I have to ask myself: Do I really want to intentionally put more acid into my body when I already naturally have too much? I mean I wouldn't overfill a glass with liquid if it was already full, so should I do that to my stomach? Probably not.

I actually thought that going vegan would be harder than it has been. Maybe if I had not already been vegetarian the change would have been harder for me, but it really hasn't been that bad. There are things I have missed like sour cream, real half and half in my coffee, milk with cereal, blue cheese salad dressing, and cheese. Mmmmmm...cheese. Now, I may try fake sour cream and fake coffee creamer, but cheese is one of those things to me that should just be real. If I'm going to choose to eat it, then I want the real thing, not some flavored not-so-natural knock off. I realise that not everyone feels this way, but I'd rather eat no cheese than fake cheese. I feel the same way about bacon. As much as I love and miss the flavor of bacon, there will be no Fakon Bacon for me. No sir, not ever. That's just me.

And I just don't trust that all organic milk is organic, or that it comes from grass fed cows who were given no hormones or antibiotics. That is, I believe, the real problem, not necessarily the dairy itself, but the unnatural things we have done to the dairy. If I had my own farm and owned my own cow, it would be different..To me, the dairy problem is one that we,ourselves created, sadly. And then I have to ask myself, why should I use fake butter when I believe real butter is better. Not only do I think Earth Balance tastes nothing like butter, on toast for example, but it has way more ingredients. The butter in our fridge that my family uses has 1 ingredient: cream. I have always heard the less ingredients the better. The difference is that EB is plant based and butter is animal based. I am not a moral vegetarian/vegan so I don't have problems with dairy because it comes from animals. I am only concerned about health. That's not to say I think that everyone should go out and use butter everyday or at every meal...of course I don't . Health risks are still health risks, but these issues are some of the things I question in my quest to be healthier.

And so I am struggling with the should I remain vegan? question. My guess is that I will remain vegan most of the time, allowing myself cheese only once in awhile, but striving not to have it as a general rule. I guess we'll see. One good thing about the kickstart challenge is that it has forced me to give up the cheese and to know that I can do it and still enjoy my food. And much like a detox, I am not craving it like I did when I first started the challenge. In fact, I don't crave it at all.

I am very proud of myself for sticking with it though. My little sister, Tricia, will be proud of me I think since she got me into this no milk mess in the first place. I know I am strong, because DH brought home some Robusto cheese, my favorite, from Whole Foods 2 days ago. When he asked if he could cut me a piece I said matter of fact but emphatically, no. I have not had any, and I'm not sure I will even after Monday...we'll see, It is quite delicious, and is readily available to me, and I have not wavered...I am stronger than I know!

I am menu planning tomorrow for next week and am planning to stick with the vegan thing for my meals. We'll see where it takes day at a time is probably how I'll choose to proceed.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What I am Loving This Week. . .

I am loving my blender.  It’s an Oster, and my my sister was right: the reversible blade is the bomb!  It really pulverizes those frozen fruits. My old one did not.

Yesterday I had a smoothie called the Neapolitan Smoothie from The Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon. The only change I made was that I used ½ Tbsp cocoa powder and ½ Tbsp chocolate whey protein powder rather than just cocoa because I ran out. It was yummy, and I will definitely make it again. This one gets 4 spoons.

I am loving my Earthbound Farms Organic  power greens mix: baby chards, kales, and spinach. It is totally yummy and I feel good eating it knowing all the goodness that is going into me. I swear I can almost feel the good nutrition sweeping through my body as I eat it. Delish!  Believe it or not, now that I am plant strong, there are times when I actually crave greens.  I never saw that coming.

I am loving Once Upon a Time on TV. DH and I tried it one night through Netflix and we are hooked. I must admit that we actually bought a Grimm’s Fairy Tale book recently and I never knew there were so many of them.  The show is really intriguing.

I am loving the Godiva White Chocolate Truffle Bar with tiramisu filling.  I've never
been a chocolate girl except during my monthly cycle, so I hardly ever eat chocolate. I know, I know, crazy, right?  However, when I do get the craving, I love one of these bars if handy. They are melt in your mouth pure heaven, and they really hit the spot. I blame Santa for getting me hooked since he brought me one in my stocking this past Christmas.

I am loving our new Prepara Tabletop Oil Mister from William Sonaoma.  It spray a perfect amount of oil every time, and it's a fine spray, not heavy. It is also non-aerosol, BPA-free, and very user friendly. Now that we have one, I can't believe we ever lived without it. Best $ 19.95 I've ever spent for a kitchen gizmo.
I apologize that I cannot yet put photos up of any of these items. Hopefully Blogger will soon fix their photo dowload problem.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nannie's Rice Makeover

Last night, I had a real blast from the past.

When I was a little girl, I remember eating my Nannie's rice.I am sure it was probably originally born out of a way to extend the life of leftover rice so it would not go to waste, I don't know...I've never asked my mom. Regardless, I loved it. It was complete comfort food to me. the original recipe called for 1 c warm cooked rice, 1 beaten egg mixed into the rice, sugar to taste, about a cup of milk, and some nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp). After it all was mixed together, you put it in the fridge to let it get cold. Once totally chilled, it was ready to eat.

Last night I wanted to eat something, but didn't know what. I decided to do something with some leftover farro that I had in the fridge. I was telling my DH that morning that I planned to eat it warmed up the next morning instead of oatmeal. I guess that thought about making the farro a sweet breakfast treat must have been in my head because I looked at the farro and a light bulb went off inside my head: Nannie's Rice. And so I threw it together. I used about 1-1 1/2 c of farro, about 3/4 c of Lite Silk Vanilla Soy Milk, stevia to taste, and a couple shakes of nutmeg. Except for the fact that it didn't sit in the fridge and some of the soy milk didn't soak into the farro, it tasted exactly like I remembered.  I finished the whole bowl and thought about my Nannie.  Definitely, a healthier, lighter version of a childhood favorite dish. Yum.

Monday, January 14, 2013

So I have been trying lots of new recipes over the past week, and I am anxious to tell you about them. Unfortunately, the pictures I took will have to be posted later due to a problem with Blogger, but I didn't want to wait any longer to tell you about my  new edible discoveries.

First, I had only moderate success last Monday when I cooked a spaghetti squash for the very first time. I followed the directions to a tee, and while a knife inserted easily into each half that I oven baked, I still found the "spaghetti" to be not soft enough for my liking. The taste was great though. I ate it with and without sauce and like it both ways. For me though, it is more of a side dish. I would never serve it as an entree with spaghetti sauce because I didn't find it hearty enough. Working with it was interesting though, because when I cut it open, the insides really smelled like and resembled pumpkin guts which I did not expect. I plan to look up a couple of other recipes for spaghetti squash so I can try it again in the future.

On Friday, I made my  delicious Homemade Grain-ola . It is so good and made the house smell wonderful. 

Also on Friday, I tried 2 new recipes from Lindsay Nixon, The Happy Herbivore.  I got her Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook for my birthday and The Happy Herbivore cookbook for Christmas. I am loving both of them. From EHH, I made Lindsay's Quick Burgers. DH and I both liked them, but I wouldn't call them a burger. The word "burger" to me is specific to the meat eater I used to be and insinuates a certain robust consistency which every vegetarian, vegan, or black bean burger recipe I have ever tried to cook has never ever had.We liked the recipe a lot, but we call it a black bean "patty," not a burger. I will make them again as they were easy peasy to put together and only took a short time to cook.  DH and I each ate 1 patty on a whole wheat hamburger bun and I froze one. The other fell apart as I was  handling it, so I used it as a topper on my next salad Yum on all accounts. Lindsay's Quick Burgers get 4 spoons from me.

The other recipe of Lindsay's that I made, Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins,  gets 5 spoons. We all loved it and I could not believe there was no milk or eggs in it. It is a definite keeper and a recipe I will make again and again. The ginger added a really nice flavor to the muffins that I wasn't sure I would like, but I did. The next of Lindsay's muffins I  plan to try are her Carrot Spice Muffins. Her  Chocolate-Zucchini Muffins are already a family favorite. So Far, Loving both of my Happy Herbivore Cookbooks.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dear Me letter

Based on an activity for a weight loss challenge that I am currently participating in at Sisterhood of The Shrinking Jeans, I have written a letter from my 2014 self to my 2013 self.  The purpose of the letter is motivation to be a better me this year, and the 2014 me will tell me how awesome I am and offer kudos to me for all I have accomplished. I like this exercise. I think I will reread the letter monthly to keep me going.  What would your 2014 self say to your 2013 self about all you've accomplished?

Dear Shannon 2013,

Wow! I can't believe it's been another year already! Time flies, and the older I get, the faster it seems to go. It makes me realise how important it is to make time matter.  I must say congratulations to you because you really embraced time this year.

First of all, you look fabulous. Losing weight and toning up has not only made you look even better on the outside, but also on the inside. You are much happier with your body now, and your self esteem is soaring. You feel better knowing that you're comfortable in your skin and that your size doesn't really matter as long as you're healthy and feel good. And, as someone who has never liked to shop, you have certainly enjoyed shopping this year for new clothing. You are embracing your curves, and it works for you.

You also feel healthier than you did last January, and I know you didn't think that was possible. Between regular exercise and eating right, your insides are cheering for you and the pom poms are shakin'.  You have changed some eating habits of your family as well and added a whole  bunch of new  healthy recipes to your recipe binder. Good for you, and good for your family!

Personally, you've also been successful. You have sharpened your key boarding skills and found a way not to kill a plant. You have become more involved with your NOW group and are working toward real change that will help us all. You're more organized than last year, and you have actually finished reading 2 books (I know: wonders never cease!) And you've found a way to enjoy belly dancing again. You've missed it, and now it's back. You're exercising more and watching tv less. Needing to move each day, even in some small way, has become more important than ever to you, and it shows .

You've had challenges this year that have changed you in many different ways, but what hasn't changed is how awesome and beautiful you are. In short, you simply ROCK!

You've had a great year.  Makes me excited to see what's in store for you in  the next year.

Shannon 2014

Happy New Year a Few Weeks Late

January 5, 2013

Like a lot of others people, after the holidays, I felt a need to detox. Too much white flour (which I never have) and too many sweets ( which I have only on occasion). I can't blame anyone but myself. I ate the food...heck, I cooked a lot of the food, and, yes, it was delicious. I think I ate my weight in bourbon balls. I had more heartburn and bloating over the holidays than I usually do...carb overload, I suppose.

My sister, Tricia, emailed me about starting a 21 Day Vegan Kick Start Challenge shortly before the New Year, and it was just the motivation I needed to detox and get "back on track."  I have been vegetarian for a couple of years, and vegan just seemed way too "out there" for me, but because I knew I needed something to jump start me back to more healthy eating after the holidays, I decided to give it a whirl. As a milk girl, an avid egg eater, and a cheese mistress, I  thought it would be the worst thing ever. To my surprise, it hasn't been that bad.  I have only been doing it for 5 days, but I already feel more heartburn, bloating, and way more energy. I'm not sure I'll do the vegan thing past the 21 days of the challenge, but I'm going to stick with it, at least till the 21 days is over. Wish me luck.

January 11, 2013

I lost 3 pounds on week one. I'll take it. Now that I'm more used to eating vegan, I'm going to work over the next couple of weeks on eating fewer calories(actually "dieting" and getting back to the gym. I honestly don't think I'll stay vegan, but it is interesting.