Calorie Counting

Back in 2009 I began calorie counting in an effort to lose weight.  I continued counting my daily calories for about a year and a half stopping for about a month at one point, but soon began again.  In the summer of 2011, as I began reading daily food blogs and shortly thereafter starting my own blog I decided that a daily diary of my meals was sufficient enough as I now had a better understanding of portion sizes and a general idea of the calories those portions were worth.  Ultimately, I gave up inputting my meals into the online database hosted by www.411fit.com.

Don’t get me wrong; calorie counting is the “bible” so to speak when it comes to losing weight.  It works if done honestly.  I am just no longer at a point where I want or need to lose weight; however, I do want to maintain my current weight.  Though I could certainly afford to lose some fatty tissue on some areas of my body, in particular my thighs.  At some point in my lifetime, I want to feel comfortable in a swimsuit without covering up with shorts.  I’m just not sure that will ever happen.

Anyway, today started in a rush since I awoke late once again.  I haven’t been sleeping all that well.  My dog and Mom’s dog (I’ve been babysitting since last Friday) keep me up all hours of the night wanting to go outside.   Needless to say, breakfast had to be FAST.

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Muenster cheese and seedless black raspberry preserves on a whole wheat tortilla with a banana and hot earl grey green tea on side.

Lunch consisted of last’s nights leftover steamed chicken and vegetables with light garlic sauce that Chris picked up from the Chinese takeout place.

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I ate jus about all of the vegetables, but left most of the chicken.  I was bothered by its texture from the steaming.  The Chobani Black Cherry was saved for my pre-cardio snack.

Today’s cardio session included 15 minutes on the bike and 6 miles on the elliptical for 30 minutes while watching 5 Ingredient Fix on the Food Channel.  I concluded with stretching and abdominal floor work.

Dinner was super tasty.  I made Gorgonzola Chicken Alfredo over Spaghetti Squash.

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The evening light was going dim as I was trying to get a good photo from real light.  So I had to move indoors.

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I was shooting for a healthier version on this chicken alfredo, so I was curious to figure out how many calories this was.  My mind immediately thought to log onto www.411fit.com to calculate the stats.  So that is just what I did for all of today’s eats.

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A cup of squash, with two tenders, and two tablespoons of the sauce came out to 322 calories.  I did have a third chicken tender with a third tablespoon of sauce so my dinner was about 460 calories.  Still, 500 calories seems reasonable to me for a meal.

My grade on today’s nutrition came out to a B+—Good.  My calories are slightly low and my protein was more than needed, but overall a good day.  Just to be clear, the database does not contain every single thing I ate.  I found compatible items for things like the raspberry preserves and my leftover Chinese chicken and veggies.  For my dinner, I did actually upload the recipes into the site so that is pretty accurate.  And I owe you the recipe.  It’s a keeper. :0)

Question of the Night:  Do you count calories?  Does that seem obsessive to you?

Taste Test Tuesday: Crispy Oven Baked Fries

I do have weaknesses when it comes to eating.  Give me some fries and I will devour them in o.2 seconds.  As a child, my family would head over to the ballpark to watch my sister play on the softball or basketball all-stars team.  I would sit in the bleachers and not five minutes after arriving I would ask Mom if I could have $2.00 to get fries and a coke.  Surely I got my fries topped with lots of ketchup most nights and would sulk when I didn’t.

Still, at times I crave the crispy fried sticks and will eat them occasionally from a fast food joint, but I try to avoid them when eating out by swapping the deep fried salty goodness for a vegetable.

Last night I was on a mission to find the “best” crispy oven baked french fries to go alongside our pork sandwiches.  So I did what any normal foodista would do, and searched the net.  I found three techniques  that had potential, yet I wasn’t sure which method to use.  So I thought, “Why not test them all and see ‘which reigns supreme’?”  Iron Chef anyone!?!

Technique 1: Emeril’s egg white coated fries involve whisking an egg white until foamy, coating the fries in the egg whites, and baking on a greased non-stick pan.  I did not use the Essence seasoning as stated instead a simple salt and pepper shake and also chose to spray my pan with cooking spray instead of using vegetable oil.

Technique 2: Parboiling the fries was required in this method prior to coating with oil, salt, and pepper.  The baking was a bit more technical requiring not only baking, but also broiling.

Technique 3: A preheated oven and a preheated pan is required in the third technique.  The fries are coated with olive oil, salt, and pepper then they are layered on the preheated pan and baked in the oven.

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Fries three ways are shown above in the order of techniques listed previously—1, 2, then 3.  All three techniques took more or less thirty minutes with flipping fries half-way through cooking time.  And for the results:

1. The egg white coated fries had a nice french fry flavor and a crispiness that Chris related to a beer batter coating on the outside.  The coating wasn’t that evident to me.

2. The parboiled fries had me hesitant half-way through cooking time when they appeared limp and soggy as I flipped.  In the end after broiling, they did come out crispy and tender on the inside though not as crispy as #1.  Chris and I both agreed some of the potato flavor was missing with the pre-cooking of the potatoes.

3. The preheated pan did leave the fries super crispy.  Thirty minutes was not necessary as the recipe calls for.  Also, I had my oven set for 425* not 450*.  I was slightly disappointed because these fries were overdone and crisp almost to the point of being burnt.  It may have also been due to the fact that I cooked them on the second to lowest shelf in the oven since my parboiled fries were above.

Outcome: My preference for taste and crispiness were the fries cooked using…[drumroll please]…technique number 1-Emeril’s Oven Crispy Fries.  Chris actually preferred the third technique using the preheated pan which resulted in near charred french fries.

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And to summarize today’s enjoyable eating:

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Whole wheat tortilla topped with peanut butter, banana, and nutmeg + Earl Grey Green Tea

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Next up, lunch.

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Spinach/arugala mix, a roma tomato, a tbsp. gorgonzola cheese, and sesame almonds topped with raspberry vinaigrette + chobani peach greek yogurt.

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Banana Bread Larabar for an after school snack–

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And breakfast again for dinner (x2)–

1st Up

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A veggie sausage patty, laughing cow light swiss, and a fried egg on a wheat bun.

2nd Round–

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Chocolate Almond Oatmeal

1/4 c quick cooking oats

1/4 c water

1/4 c lowfat milk

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1/8 tsp almond extract

pinch of salt

1 tsp brown sugar

10 bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions:  Combine oats, water, milk, cocoa powder, almond extract, and salt in a small pot over medium low heat.  Bring to a simmer and stir continuously until desired thickness is reached.  Top with brown sugar and chocolate chips.  Enjoy the chocolaty almond flavored oatmeal.

Oh yeah, I also exercised prior to eating my 2nd breakfast of the day.  I headed straight home from work since severe weather was on the way.  I took advantage of free Exercise TV On Demand and did three workouts.  The first was the Metabolism Booster which was about 20 minutes of strength training mixed with spurts of cardio.  The second was a 10 Minute Buns and Thighs video, and lastly 12 minutes or so of 6 Pack Abs.  By the end I was hot and sweaty and in dire need of water.  I also came to the realization that I need to invest in some weights that are less than Herculean because I couldn’t do all of the moves with the 10 pounders I have.  Regardless, workout accomplished!

Blackened Redfish Tacos

Hi friendly people!  I hope you had a nice, relaxing weekend!  I know I did.  I managed to read an entire book; I couldn’t put it down it was that good.  Now if you have an aversion to animal cruelty you may cringe at some points in the story, but it is totally worth the read.  The author thoroughly captivated me with her descriptive writings and believable storyline.  And I can’t wait until April 22nd for the movie to come out with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. 

Reading and lazing around didn’t consume the entire weekend.  I cut grass and did far too many loads of laundry.  Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike doing laundry?  It is not getting it to the washer.  Nor is it putting it in the dryer.  It is; however, the part that involves folding, hanging, and the most disliked of all is finding a drawer or empty space in the closet to stuff it into. 

Like I said, some things were enjoyable though.  Like these blackened redfish tacos.

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Blackened Redfish Tacos

Ingredients:

4 (6 ounce) redfish fillets, skin on

1 tbsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. ground red pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

4 whole wheat tortillas

1 cup broccoli slaw

2 tbsp. wholy guacomole

2 tbsp. 0% plain greek yogurt

optional toppings: reduced fat cheese, lettuce, tomato, salsa

Directions:

1. Combine thyme and next 6 ingredients through salt in small bowl.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet to medium high heat.  Make sure you let it get hot; this is essential to the blackening process.

3. Meanwhile, brush filets with 1 teaspoon olive oil and rub each with spice mixture.

4. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to pan.  Add fillets skin side up and cook for 3 minutes.  Flip skin side down and cook 3 to 4 additional minutes until fish flakes easily.

5. While fish cooks, mix broccoli slaw, guacamole, and greek yogurt in a bowl and set aside.

6. Remove fish from skins.  Top tortillas evenly with fish, 1/4 cup of broccoli slaw, and optional toppings if desired.

7. Roll up the taco and enjoy!

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I stayed up way too late last night finishing Water for Elephants, so I totally wanted to play hooky from work but that is unlike me so I went in after a bowl of cereal.

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Kashi Vanilla Island Wheat Squares, Praline Granola, Apple Cinnamon Baby Cereal, Cinnamon Almonds, and Sliced Banana with 1 % milk.  Plus I drank some hot mango green tea.

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I grabbed lunch in a jiffy from the cabinet—a can of Amy’s No Chicken Noodle Soup + Apple.  Here is a sneak peak into my lunch kit.

lunch Can you tell I was in a hurry?

After tutoring I had an apple pie larabar and a colby jack cheese stick.  Yesterday’s intended dinner turned into tonight’s since it wasn’t ready in time.  Chris slow cooked a boston butt pork roast on the grill yesterday for about 8 hours.  We ate it on sandwich thins topped with Hungry Girl’s Not- So- Secret BBQ Sauce, lowfat mayo, and spinach/arugula mix.  On side we shared some crispy oven baked fries.

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Currently, I am thinking about grabbing some hot tea as I watch “Bethenny Ever After.”  She cracks me up!  Have a good one!

Blogger Envy

Reading numerous blogs each day can cause one to be envious of others. I’m sure it happens to many of us.  Kailey over at Snack-Face wrote a post regarding this same topic just the other day.  I am not going to go into great depth as to whose lives I find to be close to perfect  because I know their “perfect worlds” are a mere fallacy  made up in my mind and the grass is not always greener on the other side.  However, I will tell you that I do envy the foods and the activities that other bloggers eat and do in their day to day lives.

Some of those include, but are not limited to:

~Adding chia seeds to my yogurt or oatmeal.  I have yet to do that because I can’t find those things anywhere.  Maybe I should just go buy a ch-ch-chia (pet).

~Taking an exercise class like zumba or yoga or body pump.  I am just too darn intimidated and I’ve never been a dancer or coordinated in that manner.  Any advice for a novice who is interested in adding some variety to her workout routine?

On the other hand, there are some things I have mimicked  or tried after seeing it on other blogs like…

this morning I made my breakfast smile. 

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I’m telling you I literally smiled back at my plate.  I felt like Tom Hanks with Wilson, the volleyball, there for a minute.

And I had some hot Nutcracker Sweet Tea Holiday Edition with a splash of milk.

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For lunch I added some broccoli slaw to my wrap for some crunch; it was such a nice addition.

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So yeah, I saw the slaw and the muenster cheese on a blog and had to have them.  I added them to my whole wheat wrap along with turkey, mustard, spinach, and sliced roma.  I added a wacked looking nectarine for some sweetness.

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And dinner included another item I saw on a blog, Vodka sauce.  I browned some lean ground beef and added the sauce to heat through.  Spaghetti and fresh baby spinach was topped with the meat sauce.

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Tonight was a first time having Vodka sauce and it was a nice twist on the usual tomato basil sauce.

Finally, I ended the night with another blogger-induced craving–apple crisp.  The crisp was made from sliced apples and granola along with some flavorings and sweeteners, but I didn’t love it so won’t be sharing a recipe.

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Do you find yourself envious of other bloggers?

Taken As A Sign

When I opened my webpage last night I got a page error saying WordPress was a Read-Only website and nothing could be posted to my personal webpage, so I took it as a sign that I wasn’t supposed to blog and relaxed the night away. 

I woke up bright and early and was able to cook breakfast and pack my lunch without it being a random mix of items thrown together.  Breakfast was a fried yolky egg with a whole wheat English muffin with a tad of Brummel & Brown.  I also had a Chobani Strawberry Banana Greek Yogurt for some additional staying power.

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My salad for today’s lunch was similar to a Cobb salad in the way I lined up everything, but it was missing a few essentials when it comes to being compared to one like boiled egg, avocado, blue cheese, and bacon.  Though that didn’t keep me from enjoying it.  It turned out to be more of a club salad instead.

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I started with a bed of butter mix lettuce and iceberg.  The lettuce mix was topped with grape tomaters, sliced turkey, reduced fat colby jack, and broccoli slaw.  I topped the salad with 2 tablespoons of light ranch dressing.  Gotta have ranch on a club salad.  I had a large apple on the side.

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The snacks of the day included a Cherry Pie Larabar and tortilla chips with some spicy salsa.

After tutoring I headed home, did a few chores then made my way to the grocery.  I picked up a couple portabellas to roast for dinner, but turns out I am not a fan of them. 

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I baked them at 400* and I think they would have been better grilled.  Anyway, my sandwich thin was smeared with dijon mustard, low fat mayo; and the mushroom was topped with muenster, spinach, and roma tomatoes before being removed from the bun.  I only ate a little more than half of the shroom before its removal only to finish the toppings and cheese.  Leftover corn from last night’s dinner was enjoyed on the side.

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I made Chris a portabella sandwich as well.  Before I even sat down and finished up snapping pictures, he had finished his sandwich and he said, “It was just okay, but I don’t want it ever again.”  A few minutes later [laughing] he pulls the entire mushroom from a bowl that was holding his garlic-buttered corn.  He did not even eat but one tiny bite of the portabella.  I’ll take that as a sign and skip the portabellas next time. 😉

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

When I stopped at the grocery store last Thursday on my way home, I had my mind set on cooking chicken lettuce wraps.  Instead, I ended up fixing a quick breakfast-style dinner—fried egg on a whole grain English muffin.  So this weekend, I knew I had to fix my lettuce wraps since I had the chicken and broccoli slaw ready to go in the fridge just waiting to be used up. 

I did not follow a recipe per se; however, I did read an Asian pork recipe a few weeks back in a  food magazine at the gym and thought the combination of sauce ingredients would be perfect for these lettuce wraps.  Additionally, I wanted some crunch so I thought to use broccoli slaw (instead of traditional water chestnuts found in many lettuce wraps) and peanuts for texture and flavor of course.  Furthermore, pork could just as well be used in place of the chicken in the recipe below.  The chicken mixture could also be eaten over rice or Chinese noodles, or on tortillas (like a mu shu pancake) for a more substantial dinner.  This Sunday lunch turned out crisp, refreshing, light and delicious.

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Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs. chicken breast, chopped

1 small white onion, sliced thin

1/4 c. lite soy sauce

1/4 c. rice vinegar

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tbsp. light brown sugar

1 tbsp. minced garlic

8-12 oz. bag broccoli slaw

1/4 c. dry roasted peanuts

1/4 c. green onions, chopped + more for garnish if desired

salt and pepper to taste

1 head of iceberg lettuce leaves

Directions:

1. Spray nonstick saucepan with cooking spray.  Add sliced, white onion  and cook on medium-low for 10-12 minutes until tender.  (You may want to add 1-2 tablespoons of water after 5 minutes of cook time to prevent  burning.)

2. Meanwhile, mix soy sauce with next six ingredients through garlic in a bowl and set aside.

3. After seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper to taste, add the chicken to the pan and cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

4. Next, add 8-12 oz. of broccoli slaw and pour in soy sauce mixture.  Stir to combine and cook until broccoli is tender for 3-5 minutes.

5. Pour in peanuts and green onions, stir, and cook 1-2 minutes more.

6. To serve, add a tablespoon or two of the chicken mixture to the lettuce leaf.  Sprinkle on some additional chopped green onions if desired.  Roll up like a wrap and enjoy!

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