Winning Cherry Bells

I am not actually speaking of food when I say Cherry Bells.  But I did find a Cherry Bell Recipe you might find enjoyable.  I am referring to these kinds of Cherry Bells.

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Yesterday evening, after a long day including a great workout with Mom and  a winning Saint’s game (Who Dat!!) Mom and I decided to go to a fair being held at my local elementary school.  Each October, they hold the annual Cochon de Lait (translated as pig in milk or suckling pig) where on Saturday Night they have a real pig roast and dinners are sold the following day.  The main purpose of the fair is as a fundraiser for the parochial (private Catholic) school.  They sell all kinds of fair foods, have game booths, and rides.  Additionally, a band plays each night for adult entertainment, though the kids enjoy it also. 

Mom and I started with some grub.  I ordered some jambalaya, seafood pasta and Mom got the pork po’boy. 

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I enjoyed the pasta more, but did not finish it all.  The jambalaya was a bit salty, but I ate all of the rice and left some of the meat including whole pieces of bacon and sausage.  I have never had bacon in jambalaya before; and it was not a welcomed addition in my opinion plus it was undercooked.  If I  am going to eat bacon it at least needs to be crispy.  I also prefer more of a Creole, red jambalaya opposed to a Cajun, brown jambalaya which they served.  After finishing our dinner, we found a spot near the stage to listen and dance to the local band called the Topcats.

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They put on quite the entertaining show playing songs from the 80s like Bon Jovi’s “Shot Through the Heart” and music from the 21st century including Lil Jon’s “Get Low.” 

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After listening to the band for a while, we headed over to the Cherry Bells Booth.  I put up $2 and Mom $5 for seven tickets.  We won $8 dollars from the seven cherry bells so we traded them in.  We then won $10 from the eight.  And then Mom split the ten cards evenly.  On my third card, I think I’ve never screamed and been more excited/shocked in my life.  I hit the big one.  FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!

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So I was led to a secret back room in the school rectory (church office) and given my money.  We headed back to the band for a little while longer before heading home.

Seriously, I have been on a lucky streak.  I also one $25 yesterday from the Saint’s pool I am on with my coworkers.  That was my fourth time winning the pool and out of 100 squares, you would think I wouldn’t be so lucky. 

As for today, I started with peanut butter and plum on a whole wheat English muffin sprinkled with cinnamon.

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Plus a side of Mango Black Tea.

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Lunch included a turkey wrap with baby spinach and smoked creole mustard.

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With a Yoplait Strawberry Greek Yogurt and a Banana.  I prefer Fage or Chobani over this greek yogurt.  It was more like regular yogurt with the pink and strawberry pieces distributed throughout.

After work I had a babybel cheese round on my way to the gym.

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Before starting my cardio, I grabbed a Tropical Sunrise Smoothie at the Cafe.  It was made with Orange Juice, Pineapple, milk powder, and protein powder.  It was cold and refreshing.

My cardio included thirty minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes on the bike, and ten minutes of stretching and abs floor work.

Finally arriving home, I heated up some braised cabbage from the freezer and  cooked some brown rice. 

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Braised Cabbage + Pickle Meat—it looks quite mushy, but it was very tasty.

I added corn from the fridge to my bowl of rice and cabbage.  I left all but one small piece of pickle meat for the Hub.

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I also ate some leftover rotisserie chicken on the side.

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Most of this went to the dogs.  I ate my fair share as I was picking the bones waiting for the rice and cabbage to be ready.  I ate one wing and about half of a breast plus a few bites of dark meat.

I’m off to enjoy a few mini peanut butter cup chocolates Mom got me from Trader Joe’s in her first round of goodies from Chicago.

Question of the Night:  Have you had any good luck lately?  How so?

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Portion Contortions

At times I find myself trying to contort my portions of food so that my brain thinks that I am getting more food than is actually on my plate. To start, let’s take a look at breakfast.

 

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For breakfast I completely enjoyed my toasted sandwich thin topped with sliced banana, cottage cheese, honey drizzles and cinnamon.  This meal was oh so sweet and satisfying.

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Instead of making the sandwich closed, I left it open faced topping each half with a half of the banana.  Then I topped each half with 1/4 cup of cottage cheese rather than having a 1/2 cup serving all in one scoop.  Ultimately, making the sandwich this way takes up more of the plates surface area, which deceptively makes my mind think I have more food to indulge in rather than one small sandwich that barely covers my plate.  Ideally I could have opted for a smaller plate aiding in that perception. 

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For lunch today I had some leftover brown rice that was mixed with veggies from Sunday Night’s Slow Cooker Chicken and Veggies.  On the side I lapped up some Greek honey yogurt.

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Side note—For Sunday’s dinner, to a crock pot I added three chicken breasts atop one chopped potato, a sliced onion, minced garlic, sliced squash, and corn removed from the ear.  I seasoned it with salt and pepper and poured a can of reduced sodium cream of mushroom condensed soup on top.  I set the cooker on high for four hours.  Two hours in, I poured about a cup of water over the top of the mixture.  Once the slow cooker went off, I cooked brown rice and steamed some brussel sprouts  to add to the slow cooker.  I let the rice absorb the liquid mixture by setting the crock pot to warm setting and letting it rest for about 20 minutes longer.   Here is the picture from my Sunday slow cooker meal.

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The appearance is not the most appeasing, but it was much like a rice and chicken casserole.  My hub enjoyed it thoroughly! 

Back to lunch—I chose a small container to fill my fair portion of rice and veggies (one chicken breast was eaten by me, two others were eaten by hubby for two meals so none was left in the rice).  I often see people bring very large containers for their food and it is sometimes more than a serving but other times they have a whole lot of empty space making it appear to be too little food.

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I found these smaller containers of greek yogurt that are only 90 calories per serving as opposed to the normal 150 calories in the larger containers.  All in all, my rice + veggies combined with the side of yogurt kept me full all the way until dinner.

For dinner tonight, I made a variation of Christina’s Orzo and Shrimp Bake which can be viewed at Hungry Meets Healthy.

9-21-10 009  I did not have tomatoes so I used store-bought tomato and basil sauce instead.  I began by cooking the orzo according to the package.

Shrimp and Orzo with Feta

1 lb. orzo, cooked

1tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Salt to taste

2 cups tomato-basil sauce

4 ounces reduced fat feta cheese

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350*.  Heat oil in skillet.  Add onion and sauté until softened.  Add shrimp,  garlic, red pepper, and oregano.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Pour shrimp into greased glass casserole dish.  Add orzo, sauce, and salt to shrimp and mix to combine.  Crumble feta over the top of the entire casserole dish.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until heated through and shrimp are cooked.

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For dinner, I used a salad plate.  To bulk up my portion I plated a cup? or so of steamed vegetables and added a cup of the orzo shrimp mixture on top.  I first read of this portioning technique on Julie’s blog at PB Fingers.  I like this idea of manipulating your brain to enjoy the full flavor of the pasta dish, but filling the belly with healthy veggies at the same time.

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Shortly after dinner I felt the munchies settling in.  So to satisfy my sweet tooth I ate a bowl of cereal which contained a mixture of shredded wheat puffs, blueberry flakes, and apple cinnamon o’s.  I actually have a bowl from a chip and dip set that I use for small portion eats.

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Often people trying to lose weight will begin making healthy changes to their diet; however, they do not watch portion sizes.  I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.  No matter what foods you eat, you can’t lose weight if you consume the same or more calories than your body burns. 

For example, if you make the switch to brown rice or whole wheat pasta, that in itself will not make you lose weight.  A cup of brown rice has the same number of calories as a cup of white rice.  The point of doing that is more about the nutrients your body gains from brown versus white.  In regards to losing weight, perhaps cut back from your normal 2 cup serving of rice to 1 cup or even less.

The bottom line is that you have to be honest with portion sizes.  Use the tricks listed above including using smaller containers and plates, spreading your food out over the plate, or bulking up portions with healthier options like steamed vegetables.

If you have trouble eyeballing portion sizes, take some time to actually measure out portions.  I go through several measuring cups and measuring spoons a day.  But from doing it so much, I do have a better idea of portion sizes.  The list below is a guide for portion sizes if you prefer to manage your portions without measuring.

Serving Size Compatible Object
1 teaspoon 1 dice
2 tablespoons Golf ball
1 cup Tennis ball
4 ounces (meats) Deck of cards
1 ounce (cheese) 4 dice

Questions of the Night:  Do you watch portion size or just eat what you want?  What tips do you use to manage portion sizes?

Rainbows In Waiting

I am really getting used to waking up early.  Or is it the fact that I’m excited to make breakfast so that I can make sure it looks decent enough for the blog?  Or is it that I started taking a different route across the river cutting my travel time down and eliminating the constant stop of red lights which pumps  up my adrenaline making my drive to work all the more exciting and something I have been looking forward to this first week of school?  I think it has to do with all three!

So to start my day I jumped out of bed (literally and then jumped back in after hitting snooze) and got up on the second sound of the blaring radio which I’ve been forced to use during the no phone zone week.  Hopefully I’ll have a phone by the weekend, but may continue using the actual alarm clock anyway.  Now for breakfast, I felt like a simple banana and peanut butter sammie on a Pepperidge Farm deli flat.  Though the remnants of the Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter remain in the fridge I really am not a fan of that brand, so went with almond butter instead.  Also had a cup of hot chai on the side.

After breakfast I got ready for work and headed out for my 35 minute drive.  At about thirty minutes out, in the distance over the expressway I could see a beautiful rainbow. Truly, it could not have been prettier as the prisms sparkled in the sky.  I thought about pulling out my camera, but didn’t think it was the brightest idea going 60 miles an hour on the expressway.  Seeing the rainbow this morning uplifted my mood and clearly was a sign that I would have a good day.  Do rainbows have that effect on you?  What else would there purpose be?  It seems they just sit in the sky waiting for passer-byes to take in their beauty.  Many cars did appear to slow down to take in the view; I know I did. 🙂

I enjoyed a rainbow of foods in my lunch box today.  I had some spring mix of greens and purple leaves topped with yellow corn, red grape tomatoes, brown rice, black beans which left the rice a slight shade of blue, tomato red salsa, and orange shredded cheese.  On side I had a fuzzy peach.


Once home from work I just couldn’t cool down with it being so hot and my house having outdated ’70s crank windows allowing all of the cool air to seep out through the cracks.    Thank goodness we are getting some new, updated energy efficient windows in a couple of week.  I know it will make a huge difference.  My hot flash enticed me to make something cold and sweet for my afternoon snack–a chocolate banana smoothie.  To the blender I added a frozen banana, a half cup of Arctic Zero Chocolate Frozen Dessert, a cup of plain almond milk, four ice cubes, and a few leaves of baby spinach that were left in the fridge.

After blending and tasting, I added a tsp.? of cocoa powder to add a bit more chocolate flavor.

And Then She Was Done

I caught up on some reading (of blogs), then went for a ten minute jog/5 minute walk session around the neighborhood and came home to do some of this.

Look Mom!  I’m using the Ab Lounger.  Thanks!  Mom is de-cluttering her house so I inherit her clutter.

And then some of this.

BBQ Scallop and Mushroom Pasta

I was trying to recreate the BBQ Shrimp Pasta sold at many restaurants as a spin off on regular BBQ Shrimp with French Bread, which is a well known dish in the New Orleans area.  Although it is called BBQ shrimp there is in fact no BBQ sauce in the dish.  The famous Pascal’s Manale BBQ Shrimp recipe is supposedly all over the net, but I doubt it is the tried and true.  It is a mix of white wine (I’ve heard it could be beer), worcestershire sauce, butter (I used olive oil instead), garlic, and spices.  But I wanted a healthified version without all of the butter and mounds of french bread for dipping.  So I modified a couple of recipes I glanced at on the WWW creating a BBQ Scallop and Mushroom Pasta dish using these ingredients + mushrooms.  I don’t think the Italian dressing is really needed, but saw it in one recipe so added some.  Though I think I would prefer it without.

Also, I would do fresh scallops instead of the miniscule ones I purchased in the frozen section.  Again, I did not measure.  Sorry, I try to go on taste rather than measuring.  And I can’t even give a good estimate so I won’t even try, but my ingredients included olive oil, minced garlic, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, thyme, oregano, rosemary, onion powder, salt + pepper, white cooking wine, spaghetti, scallops, mushrooms, reserve pasta water as thickener, and italian dressing (to be omitted due to it’s tanginess; the worcestershire and wine give enough tanginess).  Oh, I even added a squirt of honey to balance out some of the tang.

I ate a cooking spoonful of the pasta, a simple lettuce salad with Light Italian dressing, and a half of Pepperidge Farm whole wheat deli flat with a schmear of Brummel & Brown.  Thinking about the original BBQ Shrimp made me want bread, so I satisfied the craving.  Oh yeah, see those little things that look like chickpeas; that is what my grocer is calling frozen scallops.

Whew! That was a long post and I am feeling hot (28 with hot flashes, hmmm?) and tired so need to get some R&R.  Good night!

Honey, Where Are You?

When I awoke this A.M., I was feeling something warm for breakfast.  So I heated up a packet of Kashi Instant Honey and Cinnamon Hot Cereal.  I topped it with a sliced banana, a handful of blueberries, and a teaspoon of almond butter.  I had some hot chai tea on the side.  It hit the spot though my oatmeal wasn’t very warm once topping with cold nut butter and frozen blueberries, oh and snapping a couple of photos.

Lunch was similar to dinner last night– a turkey wrap.  But I did not go the mexican route.  I had two slices of Hormel Oven Roasted Turkey, L.C. Light Swiss Wedge, and spring mix all rolled up on a whole wheat tortilla.  On side I had some grape tomatoes and Chobani Non-Fat Greek Yogurt with Honey.

I bet you thought my title had to do with my hubby.  Nope, I was actually talking about my Chobani Greek Yogurt with Honey.  Side note:  I do not call the hubby “honey.”  Generally, he is either babe or boop, or Chris/Christopher.  He really hates when I call him Christopher though.  But seriously, where is the honey?  I do not taste it!  I do not see it!  I want more of it!  I need to contact the Chobani peeps and let them know they can’t call it “with Honey” if there is no inkling of honey.  If not I am going to have to stick with Fage Honey.  It makes my experience so much more tastier when I can scoop up some of that sticky, thick honey on the tip of my spoon and then scoop some of the yogurt on top.  Then I have to use my teeth to scrape the honey off of the spoon due to its gooey texture.  Mmmm, it is making my mouth water thinking about it.

After work I enjoyed a couple of snacks–a Kashi Dark Chocolate and Cherry Chewy Granola Bar and a handful of sweet, crimson-colored cherries.

After snack time and a short visit to the computer to catch up on some reading, I headed to the gym to pump some iron.  I did 15 minutes on the elliptical machine, 30 minutes of strength training on the weight machines, and ended with 15 minutes on the treadmill.  Felt good to get a full hour.  I feel like I’ve been slacking since going back to work last week.

Tonight I intended to fix beef fajitas with a corn and black bean side salad.  But I decided not to use my store-bought fajita kit and instead make up a Mexican Fiesta Bowl for dinner.

I started by browning the thinly sliced angus beef chuck in a tbsp. of olive oil.  Once browned I drained off the liquid/oil and added half a packet of store bought taco seasoning and 3/4 cup of water.  I also added 1/2 of a sliced onion and a small sliced bell pepper from the garden.  That simmered away until the veggies were tender.

Meanwhile, I cooked some whole grain brown rice.  Once the rice was cooked I added a bag of frozen corn that was sitting out for about fifteen minutes or so and a can of rinsed reduced sodium black beans.  Next I added a diced hot, red chile pepper from the garden and some grape tomatoes cut in half lengthwise.  Naturally, some seasonings were needed.  I used approx. 1 tsp. of ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. of chile powder, and salt and pepper to taste.  To be honest no measuring was done, but I did taste a couple bites as I added the seasonings.

For my Mexican Fiesta Bowl, I layered a large cooking spoonful of the rice mixture, a few slices of beef, a spoon of onion/bell peppers, about a tbsp. of Sargento Reduced Fat Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend, and a dollop of light sour cream.  I was satisfied with how well and easily this meal came together.

Question of the Day:  First, what is your favorite type of yogurt?  Secondly, have you ever contacted a food company to make a suggestion about their product?

My favorite regular yogurt is Yoplait Light White Chocolate Strawberry ( probably not the greatest due to the aspartame) and my favorite Greek Yogurt (which I am currently on a Greek Yogurt Fix only) is Fage Honey.  And I have never contacted any food companies about their products.

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To

Today is the day I was born back in 1982.  Gosh, I feel like I’m so old being so close to thirty, but when I see kids in high school and college I don’t feel that there is that much of a difference.  Woke up for work and had some b-fast before heading out–greek honey yogurt, handful of blackberries, handful of blueberries, and a handful of peanut butter granola.  Cold and refreshing!

Berries + Yogurt + Granola = :0)

Before the start of our faculty meeting, the entire faculty sang Happy Birthday to me.  As a kid that is the best thing ever, but as an adult a little bit embarrassing.  But it definitely brightened up my day!

After of a mornings of meetings (Umm, have I been drinking? No! Just got done exercising; I should be more clear-headed!), it was time for lunch.  I enjoyed turkey, laughing cow light swiss, and dijonaisse on a bagel thin.  On side I ate some celery and carrot sticks dipped in jalapeno hummus and a dark chocolate square.

Bagel Sammie Made by the Hubby--Thanks Chris!

Picture Snapped Before Anyone Else Entered Lounge

Since it was my birthday, another teacher bought me a cake, which I didn’t think to snap a picture; and that is something I should be snapping without being all secretive about it.  It was a marbled cake with fluffy white and purple icing.  I did bring a couple pieces (smashed) home, so took a picture of them so you could get a sneak peek.

Sorry Cake, I didn't mean to treat you so poorly!

I probably ate a piece about the size of the smaller one.  But might have more in a few.

Sweet Marbled Goodness

Ate a handful of these chips with salsa while I heated up dinner.

10 or so Chips with Don Pablo's Hot Salsa

After Dad visited for a while, I heated up some red beans I had in the freezer to enjoy over brown rice.  (The hubby is working late so we will celebrate with the family another day.)  I had a cup of the beans over a cup of rice with bits of pickled meat and one piece of smoked sausage.

Always Fresh...Never Frozen...Not!

Next, I decided to hit up the gym for some cardio.  I did 30/5/20 on the elliptical, stairmaster, and bike.  Then decided it was 10 minutes to 9 and I needed to get home.

So that’s how I rolled on this fine day of the year!  Not exactly a party, but I don’t really see a need to cry about anything.  I did get some fab things out of the deal:

1. A Happy Birthday Song

2. A Delish Cake

3. People Being Extra Nice

4. Over 30 Messages on My Facebook Page

5. A Check From Dad (and visit from Dad)

6. A Call From MawMaw Stating She Had My Bond

7. Several Texts From Hubby

8. Coupon For a Free Smoothie When I Checked In At the Gym

9. A Bunch of “Thank You’s” For Sharing the Cake

10. A Comment on Yesterday’s Blog Post

11. Goodies For My Classroom from the Account Clerk

12. A Sony Cybershot Camera from Hubby (got it Saturday though; he can’t ever wait for the actual day)

13. A Shopping Trip and Lunch with Mom (took place Sunday)

14. A Call From Sister (we’ll be meeting up tomorrow evening and Sunday)

15. Several Compliments throughout the Day

Thank you to everyone for making my day special!  I would say it’s been a good day! 🙂 And in the words of Martha Stewart, “it’s a good thing.”

Question of the Day:  What is one thing that brightened up your day today?

The Verdict Is In

Yesterday I decided to eat dinner since my stomach was feeling hungry.  The verdict–I took out some penne and turkey meat sauce I had in the freezer from a previous meal.  I ate about 1/2 cup of the pasta/sauce mix and a cup and a half of steamed broccoli.  Since I ate such a late lunch, I didn’t want to eat too much for dinner.  

  However, that did not satisfy me, so I had a Chobani Greek Honey.  To be honest, I could not find the honey.  They forgot to put it in.  It wasn’t on bottom, on top, or in between.  So I added a drizzle of my own to the top.

I also had a juicy, fuzzy peach and called it a night.  (Picture not posted.)

“Beef–It’s What’s For Dinner”

Dinner tonight was quick and easy–Beef Terriyaki. 

Beef Terriyaki Recipe

1 pound beef sirloin tip steak

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 onion sliced

1 bell pepper sliced

4-6 tablespoons of beef terriyaki sauce with about 15 calories per tblsp. (low sodium)

salt and pepper

Marinate beef steak in 4 tblsp. sauce for at least an hour or overnight.  Heat oil in pan over medium/high heat.  Place beef in pan and brown for 3-5 minutes.  Flip and brown 3-5 minutes more or until desired doneness.  Remove cooked beef to serving plate.  Cover with foil and let beef rest 15 minutes before slicing into thin strips.  Next, add onion and bell pepper to pan to cook down until tender.  Add 1/4 cup of water if more liquid is needed.  Also, add 1 or 2 tablespoons more of terriyaki sauce if desired.  Salt and pepper onions and bell pepper to taste.  While veggies simmer, slice the beef into thin strips.  Pour veggies and sauce over sliced beef steak.  Serve over brown rice with steamed broccoli or veggie of choice on the side.

Beef Terriyaki Over Brown Rice

My plate is above:  I ate 2/3 cup of whole grain brown rice, about 4 ounces of beef, 1/2 cup of onion and bell pepper with tblsp of sauce, and about 1 1/2 cups of steamed mixed vegetables.  Yum, yum!