Friday, July 29, 2011

Mission: Eat Right, Get Tight - Entry #5

Hey Glories!

Cooking myself thin has been going well.  I've lost 6 lbs and I've got 27lbs more to go before Carnival 2012 (as you can see in the little countdown I have going in the right hand column).  The even better news is I should be able to meet my goal by December 4th 2012 (just in time for Christmas too!), according to  I signed up for an account yesterday, not really conducive to the downsizing of online sites that I'm signed up for, but it's pretty useful, so I think I'll keep it.

Right now, I'm signed up for Blogspot, Flickr, Facebook, Youtube, Forumspring, Beautylish, Twitter, and Tumblr (feel free to click the links and follow any of those btw)!!  Way too much to keep up with, hence the reason I'm trying to downsize.  My 3 passions are: makeup, writing, and photography, so that leaves me with Youtube, Blogspot, and Flickr.  Facebook connects all 3 passions, because that's where I post updates.  My Twitter is connected to my Facebook and My Loseit is connected to both.  I guess that knocks out Tumblr, Forumspring.. and.. ah feeling hard to give up Beautylish, because I adore the website!  I guess I'll keep it for now and see what happens.

Anyway, back to  It's just like Weight Watchers (which I've been a part of before), but instead of counting points, you count calories.  The site allots you a specific amount of calorie intake for the day, depending on weight, height, BMI, and even calculates a date for when you'll reach your goal!  My calorie intake is 1317, which is 67 calories more than I allow myself with Cooking Yourself Thin.  It's like a food journal, where you enter what you eat daily and try your bestest not to cross over into red (that means you've went over your calorie intake for the day).  You could use it throughout the day to keep track of your calories, but I prefer to use it in the morning to plan out my day (exercises and all!), which is mighty convenient.

It has a database of foods to which you can also add your own if it's not already there.  You can also calculate in any exercises that you've done for the day or plan to do for the day, which makes more calories available to you.  Every time you log in, you can record your weight loss or gain, so it's ideal for keeping track of your diet, exercise, and progress.  I'm telling you, it's just like Weight Watchers, but for free!  *[bbm dance icon] for freeness* You even have the option to add and make friends, but that's not something I'm really interested in.

So, this entry is going to focus on some of the foods I've been cooking utilizing the Cooking Yourself Thin Faster cookbook (that means, it's the meals that I remembered to photograph).  I'm gearing it towards folks who are interested in purchasing the book and cooking the meals, as I'll be discussing substitutions I made, issues I ran into, and of course, TASTE!  Since it's just a fraction of what I've been eating, you can check out my Loseit account to peep my daily meals, if your interested.

Cooking Yourself Thin Faster... Trini Style!

Violet Morning Smoothie:
Easy and quick to make!  I tend to have this in the morning.  It's made with blueberries, pomegranate juice, and yogurt.  It's high in antioxidants, yummy, and gets me to eat my fruit!  The colour of it is a gorgeous violet, which the picture doesn't do it any justice to.

Almondy Joy:
Not the best picture, I know, sorry!  This is another quick and easy, delish smoothie!  It made with frozen naners (bananas), almonds, and yogurt.  It's a great way to utilize those naners that are over-ripening to the point where you don't want to eat it, but you don't want to waste it either, which always ends to happen when I buy bananas.  Because who want to eat a whole bunch of bananas all d time, all d time.  If I don't nyam it in time, just before they go bad I cut em up, freeze em and make this smoothie whenever I'm in the mood for it.

Chicken Cordon Bleu:
This thing is SO freakin delicious.  The most yummiest thing I've made thus far!  The great thing about it is you can use different cheeses as stuffing (you can even add olives), so it won't get boring.  Wrapping it might look difficult, but it's a breeze.
I didn't have twine, but I had a long piece of this stuff that I used instead. Looks like shoelaces, dunnit? It didn't hamper the cooking process much, and shoot! a girl gotta improvise!  The recipe called for a piece of boiled ham, which I didn't have either, so furthur improvisation called for me to use frozen deli slices that I had in the freezer.  This one in particular is beef pastrami.  The fun part about this meal is you get to flatten the chicken breasts with a meat mallet or bailna (rolling pin).  Talk about taking out your frustrations.  Don't beat too hard though, else you'll tear the meat.  The recipe didn't instruct me to tuck in the sides, but common sense says that the cheese stuffing inside would melt if I didn't.  After you brown them on each side in the frying pan, you have to add water to the pot, so it can simmer and finish cooking.  Watch those babies!  The cheese starts to bubble out the sides.  If you see cheese I loss!  Ah get so vex, ah added some extra cheese on the top to make up for it!

The main herb (or seasoning) the recipe calls for is rosemary.  Eek GAD!  I used rosemary in another meal I made and I hated it.  It has this strong, bitter, licorice taste.  Dale liked it, but I can live without it.  I seasoned my chicken as normal with my blend seasoning (shadow beni & garlic) and I added a few sprigs of rosemary. All yuh know American's doh season their meat!  I limed those chicken boobies down prior to seasoning them as well!  Rosemary isn't something that's easy to find in Trinidad and for good reason too, it's yuck!  But for Corpus Christi, Dale planted some herbs for me; rosemary being one of them.

 Buffalo Wings & Stuffed Mushrooms:
These are the most DELICIOUS low-fat buffalo wings you'll ever eat in your life!  Mind you, this picture is when I didn't have the buffalo sauce and ended up making my own (so it was more like BBQ wings), but I've made it several times after with the proper sauce and it's finger lickin good!  The recipe calls for Frank's Buffalo Sauce, but good luck finding that in Trinidad.  My mom had brought down a ready made buffalo sauce from NY once and I noted the ingredients.  Now, I'm talking about the kind of fluorescent orangey-red, tangy, not so spicy buffalo sauce (kinda like the one you get in Ruby Tues or Fridays).  I like my wings sauced down in this vingary goodness!  The key ingredients to buffalo sauce, at least the type I like, is cayenne pepper and vinegar.  If you go by colour alone, your likely to buy something that tastes like traditional Trinidadian pepper sauce and that isn't ideal for coating your wings in (unless you boss like dat and can take that kinda hotness, but even my hot mouth cyar handle dat) and then you'd probably have pepper wings, not buffalo wings.  The ready made buffalo sauce would be a no-no since that already comes with butter in it, but I found the PERFECT sauce in Xtra Foods in Grand Bazaar.  It's called Louisiana Hot Sauce (mmhmm, that foreign stuff) and you don't even need a lot, so a whole bottle can make me about 3-4 batches of wings.
These stuffed mushrooms are made with panko bread crumbs (which you can also find as Xtra Foods), Parmesan cheese (which I noticed is a big staple in a lot of these recipes), and parsley.  You just cut up the stems, mix in the rest of ingredients and you literally have to hold the mushroom in your hand and stuff them.  If you just sprinkly some from up top, it won't pack in, and you'll have a lotta extra stuffing to shrooms.

So I basically had cutters (appetizers) for dinner one night, but it was darn good!  The buffalo recipe suggests celery sticks to go with and advises that you mix blue cheese with yogurt to get a lighter sauce.  Genius idea!  I didn't have blue cheese, but I had some horseradish sandwich spread thing that I used instead.  By itself, it would of course be thick and creamy, but mixed with the yogurt, it was light and still tasty!  I'm sure you can do the same with garlic sauce if you prefer (or have) that instead.

Pasta with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes:
Ehh, these meal was ok.  I'll admit, I had to put some ketchup and pepper sauce to make it more appetizing to me, but that's just because I like saucy things.  Dale on the other hand, didn't mind the fact that it was dry.  It calls for an array of simple, easy to find ingredients that you might even have in your kitchen right now: sausage, parsley, cherry tomatoes, and whole wheat pasta. The recipe called for pork sausages; I used whatever breakfast sausage I had in the freezer (which had maple syrup in it, so maybe that accounted for the mediocre taste).  I didn't have cherry tomatoes, so I just cut up normal tomatoes instead.  When it comes to the herbs, use whatever herbs you like.  If you know you hate parsley, try something else or just omit it altogether (though you'll be omitting flavour as well).  I must admit though, the pasta was light and it satiated my appetite without leaving me feeling overstuffed.

Chicken Meatballs & Creamed Spinach:
This might look a lil funny, but I think the colours are charming!  Red and green!  These were two separate recipes that I paired together.  You could, of course, pair the meatballs with whole wheat pasta instead, but this combo was pretty good.  It was similar to the veggie lasagna recipe I made, just without the lasagna layers.  The creamed spinach is okay.. it likes flavor for me.  Dale really likes it though.  I ended up using a extra cup of milk to make the sauce, because that one cup just disappeared into my roux and left me with lumpy flour (kinda look like parsad haha)!  I used more spinach than the recipe called for, so I guess everything sorta evened out. *shrugs*
The recipe called for canned tomatoes (preferably fire roasted).  All I has was tomato sauce, so I added some flavour to it (ketchup, garlic, herbs, and pimento) and fired roasted my own tomatoes!  Tomatoes choka, anyone?

Quick Jambalaya:
This meal was a complete FAIL.  And ironically it was the very first recipe I tried out!  If I had let this recipe set the bar for the rest of the recipes, I would have been in shambles!  That would have been a bad pre-mature decision, for sure.  This jambalaya is made with turkey meat and I just had happened to have roasted a turkey a couple of days before, so I thought what a perfect way to get rid of the rest of the meat.  BLEH!  I already don't like rice, but I tried to give this a chance, but even Dale couldn't eat the remainders (and he eats anything).  It's sour and tasteless.  NEVER making this again!

Raspberry Lemon Tea Cake:
This is the 2nd dessert I tried making.  Prior to this, I made the Fudgey Brownies, which were yummy.  Those were easy to make, so I'll make it again and snap photos.  Now, straight off the bat, my measurments are a bit off.  Your suppose to measure dry and wet ingredients with different measuring tools, but I only have a measuring cup, so that's what I use.  It came out edible though.  Not sure if the center was entirely cooked, but as you can see it already started browning on the edges, so I didn't want to keep it in longer.  And somethings up with my oven, so it could have been that too.
Your suppose to put it on a cooling rack, but I couldn't find mine, so I put it on the grater.  What?! It does the same thing!  The holes allowed the air to pass through just the same!  This recipe was an AWESOME way to use the raspberries that I bought in Xtra Foods (as you can tell by the pattern, that's where I do my groceries), that were already spoiling.  I saw that they were leaking juice profusely when I bought them, but I was so missing my blackberries and raspberries that I had to buy them.  But they were already on the verge of going mushy.  The berries weren't that sweet, so the cake was a bit tangy as well.  And I used lime zest rather than lemon, because that's what I had!

Ok that's  all the meals for now folks!

Let me make a quick side note before I go.  I think I mentioned this in my last entry, but just to reiterate, I don't really buy low-fat or fat-free products.  So if the recipe calls for skim milk, I'm using whole milk.  It's important to look at the ingredients and nutritional info on the back of your foods, so get in the habit!  A lot of the fat-free/low-fat products make up for the lack of fat with other garbage like extra sugar or might even contain trans fat (which you want to stay far, far away from).  There are such things as 'good fats' and your body needs fats to be healthy (check out this article - it's short, so don't worry).  So that's something to consider when calorie counting.  It's not just about the calories, because if your only consuming empty calories, your body is going to lack the nutrition it needs to be healthy.

If you have any questions about these recipes or any questions at all.. feel free to ask in the comments below.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Mission: Eat Right, Get Tight - Entry #4

Cooking Myself Thin

Hey Glories!

After a couple of redundant weeks of working out and still feeding my addiction to fast food, my weight was fluctuating up a down by a couple of pounds.  I decided I needed to take the weight loss issue into the kitchen.  Last time I lost weight, my mom was doing the cooking for me.  She was making traditional Trini dishes, but since she's somewhat health conscious, so it was working out just fine.  Now, I had to take the cooking into my own hands, which is perfectly fine, because I love to cook.  If my family members read this they'd be like "Gasp! What?!" because they don't see me cooking often.  I like to try out new recipes and things, so I'll quicker make something I saw on Food Network than make Dhal and Rice or something.  Not something I'm too proud of, because I'd hate to see the culture die with me and I become one of those women who can't make home cooked food as good as mom did, but for now since I have so many aunties and tanties to make it for me, I really don't see the need.  But cooking is something I really enjoy.  It's relaxing and freeing.  I put on my "A true Trini loves doubles, slight pepper" apron, turn the radio up on 103.5 FM where I can hear all my favorite classics and I rock out with my knife out!

I've seen a couple of episodes of "Cook Yourself Thin" and I always come across the book in the bookstore, but I never really take it on... in terms of, I never thought I've actually end up attempting to cook myself thin.  My current living circumstances changed all that!  There are a couple of recipes on the website, but I went out and got the "Cook Yourself Thin Faster" cookbook, because the bookstores in Grand Bazaar were out of the original book.

The first week, I real plan out my meals and put down the calorie count and scheduled days to eat leftovers (because the recipes usually make a 4 serving size) knowing to myself that this probably wouldn't go exactly as planned, which it didn't.  I didn't take into consideration the times when I'd have guests over who would eat my leftovers for the next day or when Dale's mom would send over something tasty to eat, which are things that you can't really schedule in anyway.

I'm in the middle of the 2nd week and when planning the meals, I was a bit looser in doing so, which is ideal for a # of reasons:

  • I can't be spending so much time planning everything to a T, this is tedious and impractical.
  • If it starts to feel like a chore, I won't want to do it.
  • For me to integrate this kind of cooking into my lifestyle, it has to be something that comes a bit more naturally, where I don't have to count everyyyyy single calorie of what I eat, because that gets.. annoying.
  • It would take the spontaneity out of life.. like when me and Dale ups and decide we want to go out.
I've lost 3 lbs since I've started and that's inclusive of a couple of cheat days. I haven't been working out a vigorously, but that's because Tanty Flow visiting.

According to the book, you should be eating your ideal weight in calories x 10.  So, I want to be 125, so I'm allotted 1250 calories for the day.  I usually plan my meals a bit under 1250 to cater for any substitutions I may make (using whole milk rather than skim) and for any unplanned cheats that may occur (Dale's mom sent over coconut bake last week), so lil treats and cheats are ok, which also helps me feel like I'm not dieting.  I don't deny myself anything!  It's everything in moderation, which keeps me happy and not feeling deprived of goodies.  Also, since exercise burns calories, it makes more calories available to me.  Keeping my meals slightly under 1250 allows for me to have lazy days as well, so I don't feel the pressure to have-to must-to work out everyday.

  • Ingredients aren't difficult to find, so the recipes are "Trini Friendly" in that you don't need a health food store or specialty food store to find what your looking for.
  • Things can be swapped.  They give you alternatives to use, which is economical (so you don't have to run out and buy what the recipe calls for, you can use what you have) and it keeps it exciting, because you can try different variations, rather than have the same thing over and over again.
  • The recipes in "Cook Yourself Thin Faster" aren't as time consuming as the recipes from the 1st book, so it caters to people on the go.
  • I get to have "fast food" in my house, but better because I get to control what I put in it and know that the burger cart man didn't just take a wizz without washing his hands or the i-hate-my-job cashier/cook didn't spit in my food.
  • Eating healthy is expensive!  Not as expensive as eating out, but more expensive than making regular groceries - whole grains and whole wheats just cost more!
  • Having to plan my meals out to come capacity, because without planning, I may not have all the ingredients that I need.
  • Sometimes I started to feel hungry in between meals (which is inclusive of healthy snacks) and I feared my body going into starvation mode.  Now, I just snack more to prevent feeling hungry, even though they suggest only 2 100 calories snacks for the day.
The next entry will be what I made for Week 1 along with commentary.  I tried to take pictures, but sometimes I forgot.  I will be more conscious of this for Week 2.