Thursday, February 23, 2012


I've discovered that when you have to cut food out of your diet because of restrictions for weight loss or because of food allergies and intolerances, the best way to keep from feeling totally deprived (We've discussed at length and ad nauseam how difficult it has been to give up foods which contain gluten especially when you are dining out or preparing a meal for guests...and I haven't even attempted a meal at a friend's home yet.) is to make the foods you can eat not only as fresh as possible but also as interesting as possible to stave off boredom....which we all know leads to over eating. The problem that presents is, how do we make the foods delectable and interesting without adding unwanted calories?

Well, I discovered a recipe this week which I think answers both of those criteria. First, I have to say that I love roasted vegetables. The way the flavor is not only enhanced but changed constantly amazes me and I'm always in search of new vegetables to roast. I do love to pour on the olive oil though and I know I add tons of calories and fat grams because I mix olive oil with minced garlic, seasonings and parmesan cheese which I pour liberally over the vegetables before putting them in the oven. I have to admit, it is always soooo good but not necessarily the healthiest preparation. Still, I'm not a huge fan of steamed vegetables and I probably eat three times as many vegetables when I roast them than I would steamed. Here however is a way to prepare our old standby potatoes and probably any vegetable that sounds not only luscious but low fat and healthy. I would suggest substituting the precooked and leaner bacon that you can buy at the store. Other than that just prepare, cook and enjoy!

Bacon Ranch Foil Packet Potatoes
adapted from Mrs. Ca Cooks

3 sheets of heavy-duty foil
10-12 baby red potatoes, thinly sliced
6 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon
1 packet ranch dressing mix
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
Sour cream for serving, if desired

1. Spray each sheet of foil with cooking spray. Top each piece with equal portions of potatoes, bacon, and ranch dressing mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to each serving. Wrap securely.

2. Grill for 20 to 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve in foil, topped with sour cream if desired.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Informative Article on Belly Fat

From LOSING IT! With Jillian Michaels
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Reasons to Whittle Your Middle

I think we can all agree that "muffin tops" — the fat hanging over the waist of a too tight pair of pants — and beer bellies aren't attractive. Still, when it comes to excess belly fat, the situation is more serious than how you look. Excess belly fat has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and stress.
When you have stress, your body releases certain "fight-or-flight" stress hormones that are produced in the adrenal glands: cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine. When you first get stressed, these hormones kick into gear. Norepinephrine tells your body to stop producing insulin so that you can have plenty of fast-acting blood glucose ready. Epinephrine will relax the muscles in your stomach and intestines and decrease blood flow to these organs. Once the stressor has passed, cortisol tells the body to stop producing these hormones and to go back to digesting regularly. It's normal for your cortisol levels to go up and down throughout the day, but when you are chronically stressed your cortisol level goes up — and stays there.
When your stress and cortisol levels are high, the body actually resists weight loss. Your body thinks times are hard and you might starve, so it hoards the fat you eat or have present on your body. Cortisol tends to take fat from healthier areas, like your butt and hips, and move it to your abdomen which has more cortisol receptors. Hello ab flab! In the process, it turns once–healthy peripheral fat into unhealthy visceral fat (the fat in your abdomen that surrounds your organs) that increases inflammation and insulin resistance in the body. This belly fat then leads to more cortisol because it has higher concentrations of an enzyme that converts inactive cortisone to active cortisol. The more belly fat you have, the more active cortisol will be converted by these enzymes — yet another vicious cycle created by visceral fat.
So what if you have belly fat? Lose weight by following the best nutrition and lifestyle strategies that support you in times of stress, like the ones in my program. When you limit your caffeine to 200 milligrams a day, avoid simple carbs, processed foods, and refined grains, and get plenty of high-quality protein, in addition to de-stressing yourself, you'll automatically help your body keep your stress hormones, especially cortisol, lower. It's a day by day choice you'll have to make, but the results will be worth it. Think how good it will be when you are as healthy on the inside as you look on the outside.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

One Chip at a Time

It is often extremely overwhelming when I look at all of the work that I need to do on myself with my weight and fitness (or lack thereof), with my house (which is almost literally falling down around us), with my horses (who haven't been ridden in so long that I don't know if they or I remember how...and then there is the young one who needs to begin ground training...), with my business (too complicated to even go into).....let's face it, my entire life is a wreck at the moment. Most days, I start off with such good intentions and even with a plan of what I'm going to accomplish by day's end but when the end of the day arrives, I've done little else but worry about where to begin and all that needs to be done. I think this is a matter of not seeing the forest for the trees. I have a mountain in front of me and I'm working at it with my chisel and hammer. What I need to remember is that Mount Rushmore started with just one chip knocked away. I'm going to do my best to concentrate on what ever task is at hand and chip away at it, on chip at a time until it is done. I've got to stop it with the lofty goals that I'm never going to achieve in the time allotted and which only stop me from accomplishing anything and I need to concentrate on one task at a time. If I can do this, maybe by the end of this year, I can have my own Mount Rushmore of sorts but instead of dead president's heads, it will have a fitter, healthier me, a clean and finished house (or at least started), five happy, contented and exercised horses, and a business which is running like a well oiled machine and making some profit for help finance some of the other goals.

My first doable goal involves my health and fitness. I have been making small but forward moving strides in this area since the first of the year but now, I need to get serious so I'm starting to journal my daily food intake and exercise. It really helps for me to be able to see my progress or even my setbacks on paper and this method has worked in the past to help me shed pounds, eat healthier and work out more.

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Resolution

Me twenty years ago and me this past Christmas. I hope that
by the end of this year, I'm at least closer in size to the 
"before" me.
For over a year, I've been receiving daily email updates from Jillian Michaels. This would probably have been one of those "very good things" if I'd ever bothered to actually read them. Instead, I stuck them into an email folder with the promise that one day, I get around to it. You know how it goes with things you plan to get around to, you just keep passing them by as you spin around in your busy life. Now I shudder to even think how many emails are stored in that folder and I'm a bit afraid to even look. I did open this morning's email from Jillian, appropriately titled Losing It With Jillian Michaels, and it had so many great informative and inspirational stories. I learned so much in a few moments that it made me wish I'd been reading them all along. Maybe, if I had been, I'd be a little fitter and a few pounds lighter by now but we can't look back so I've decided to look forward and promise myself that I will start opening those emails each day and starting my day with new healthy tips and encouragement.

Today's email newsletter dealt with both motivation with a helpful quote from one the posters to her message boards which offered advice and encouragement to someone who was discouraged with their lack of pounds lost. "If you are following a meal plan, counting calories and exercising, you may just need to be patient. Some of our bodies are a little more resistant to change, even if it's for the good! Sometimes it can even take up to 3 months to see changes on the scale. I found it very helpful to take my measurements along the way (arms, chest, waist, hips, thighs and calves). Anytime the scale wasn't showing the results, my measurements usually would!"

Another article dealt with foods that actually make your metabolism work for you. Jillian discussed our busy lives and how often we rely on fast food and how much better home-cooked meals would work for us. I've been forced off of a take-out and fast food diet and back to cooking all of our meals myself because of my issues with gluten (the little demon is hiding everywhere!) but although thinking of healthy, gluten free and still appetizing meals is challenging, I must admit that, for the most part, I've enjoyed it. I'm reminded of the early days of our marriage when I cooked most of our meals out of necessity (and here I am again) and how much I enjoyed it then. Of course that was nearly 37 years ago and I had tons more energy, too! Do you enjoy watching a juggler? Well you should have seen the one that I use to be. I was always in perpetual motion and trouble with a capital T!....sorry, I kind of slipped into a Jim Croce song there,haha. Anyhow, back to the subject at hand, I was able to manage work, school, family, art, fun, gardening, house, crafts, sewing, party planning.....sheesh, I'm getting tired now just thinking about it and it's just 5:42 in the AM. That was twenty something and now I'm fifty something and it is a different world. Now, I can barely manage one task at a time, the tiniest of wrenches throws my day off completely (and I tend to say, "What's the use. Why don't I just fix some popcorn and lie down and watch a movie?"), I tend to get overwhelmed instead of challenged by what needs doing, and it seems that all areas of my life are suffering by my current inaptitude with life....BUT there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I think I'm starting to see a twinkle now. My resolutions to lose weight and get in shape are off to a bumpy start but still moving forward. My plans to finally whip this house back into livable condition keeps hitting road blocks but I am finally making progress. Intentions to spend more time with the horses, ride more, and work Danny's naughty little butt off (as well as my own hefty one hopefully) has been deterred by weather and good intentions but I am making progress. So I'm moving in the right direction with most of my life goals even if it is an inch at a time. I think I need a real Life Plan that I will stick to or at least attempt to follow most days. Organization has to be at the top of the plan list because none of the other areas will work smoothly if I'm not organized at the base of them. This organization needs to be on a day to day track because I know that the long lists that are weeks and even months long do not work and only leave me more frustrated and overwhelmed. I need to think each day exactly what I want to accomplish today and keep it real and doable. And I need to start each day by reading the newsletters I get whether they are from Jillian Michaels about my health, Mary Brophy about my business or Julie Goodnight about my horses. It wouldn't hurt if I worked harder at my own newsletters and business. A tip from me, these blogs are a great way to get your message out. You can add a "subscribe to" option on your blog and you can actually subscribe to your own blog. Your new posts will be emailed to you with photos intact and you can in turn (change the subject so it doesn't look like a forwarded message and be sure to remove the "unsubscribe" message at the bottom or add one of your own that directs them back to you.) mail the beautiful news letter out to your friends, fans and that is a good thing!

Well, back to today's Jillian Michael's newsletter and those 5 metabolism boosting foods. Here they are: red beans (this is what Jillian had to say about beans,""Resistant" starch — a key starch in beans— known as resistant starch, repairs the lining of your intestine to help you fight inflammation, cancer, and harmful bacteria; in addition, it’s been shown to help lower insulin levels. The hefty fiber content of beans also helps you feel fuller, and store less fat, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, and improves insulin sensitivity.
The B vitamins and zinc in beans boost testosterone, which is a good thing! Testosterone helps to increase our energy and build more calorie-burning muscle." She also suggests buying dried beans instead of canned so that you can control sodium and other additives."), garlic (from Ms Jillian,"Garlic and other foods in the allium family (onions, leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions) work to stimulate the production of glutathione, an antioxidant that is especially important in the liver, where it helps remove hormone-disrupting chemicals.
Alliums also lower total cholesterol while raising the level of HDL cholesterol (the "good" kind)."),  berries ("If you really need an excuse to indulge in these delicious berries, then I’ve got a couple. These juicy red berries contain anthocyanins, which some studies have found stop individual fat cells from getting larger, while also encouraging them to release adiponectin, a hormone that helps reduce inflammation, lower blood sugar, and reverse leptin and insulin resistance. Certain polyphenols found in raspberries and strawberries block the digestive enzyme activity of specific starches and fats, reducing your body’s absorption of them."), broccoli ("Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage pack serious nutritional power in just a few calories per bite. They have high water and fiber content; this combination helps you feel full AND increases your body’s ability to burn fat by as much as 30 percent. "), whole grains (Ok, much harder for me to get these days but I do eat lots more oatmeal and rice thanks to going gluten free).

Friday, February 3, 2012

Gluten Free Crab Cakes

Many, many thanks to Rollin Watson-Walker for this recipe!!! Since I discovered my gluten intolerance, I've had a difficult time focusing on what I can eat and not thinking about all of the foods I love dearly that are now off limits. I announced on Facebook a few days ago that I am trying my best to live a gluten free lifestyle and since I made that announcement, so many friends, like Rol, have offered me advice, tips and recipes, and encouragement. I have been mourning the loss of crab cakes since the day I discovered my intolerance of gluten. I couldn't imagine anyway that I would be able to enjoy one of my favorite dishes again....until now!!! Rol, I am eternally grateful for this one and I can't wait to try it!

Gluten-Free Chesapeake Crab Cakes
Submitted by RecipeDirect, Sunday, 01 May 2011
Gluten-Free Chesapeake Crab CakesCreated by: Chef John Csukor
At a glance
Main Course
  • 1/2  cup almond aioli
  • 1/2  cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon flaxseed, ground fine
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, rough chop
  • 1/4 cup almonds, natural sliced
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crab
  • 32 lemon wedges
  • Canola oil, as needed
  • Parsley, finely minced, to garnish
In medium bowl, combine aioli, almond meal, Old Bay Seasoning, egg, flaxseed and mustard. Mix until well blended.

Gently fold in sliced almonds and crab. Form mixture into 16, 1 1/2-ounce cakes. Sear in an oiled sauté pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, 1 1/2 minutes per side.

Finish in 375°F oven for 2 minutes.

To serve, stack two cakes on a plate and garnish with 2 lemon wedges and a sprinkling of parsley.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Walking After Midnight

Well, not quite but it was after dark by the time we made it back to the house. Still, I'm happy to report that I'm feeling better (I really think it was the microwave popcorn that was the gluten culprit this time. I had a bag three afternoons in a row and I've felt progressively worse all week. ) and we've started walking again!

We actually walked across carrying the horse feed tonight but we didn't start our "health" walk until after the horses were fed and given their hay for the night. Then we walked down the hill, around the woods, up the long hill and around the woods until we reached Hoover's fence. Then we turned around and backtracked but turned off when we got to the upper horse pasture and walked the fencerow out to the woods and then up the steep hillside, around the top and back down to the gates again where we picked up the feed buckets and turned the electric fence back on before walk the quarter mile back to the house. We walked 1.21 mile in 30 minutes. We averaged a pace of a 30 minute mile but that was much faster on the flats and downhills and much slower, 36 minute mile, on the steep uphill grades. All in all, I am pretty pleased with those numbers as a first effort....or at least a re-start. I hope we can keep this up until it becomes a habit and our days start feeling off if we can't walk.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More Great Gluten Free Goodies

I'm receiving Kind bars
 on auto delivery
Gluten free and good
for you and your
waist line....also
My weight is fluctuating between a two pound difference, up and down on the scale like a yo-yo. I know that I can't expect to lose weight at the moment because I'm eating far too much as I try to adjust to a gluten free life. I also know that I should be exercising more, at least walking several miles a day like I was at the first of January but each day I find a new, it is raining. As for the eating too much, I received some great gluten free goodies in the mail yesterday. I love the Udi's vanilla granola; I have three bags of it. It is delicious topping blueberries and cottage cheese and I can't wait to try it with Greek yogurt. The cottage cheese, blueberries and granola has been my lunch for two days. And last night, I tried out the Gluten Free Bisquick that I also received 3 boxes of. I fixed cheesy and garlicky biscuits for dinner to accompany sautéed mixed greens and fried potatoes and onions. Too much fat, I know. Especially too much if you consider the eggs and oil in the biscuits but I did use olive oil which is healthier than the butter the recipe calls for. My husband wondered if I couldn't use just the egg whites in the biscuits but I think the eggs in the biscuits and called for in yesterday's muffins are to serve the purpose of gluten in the recipes and not only act as a binder but add tenderness. I know that they were all delicious even if they are far more fattening than what I'm used to eating. I do need to stop eating so much but's hard when I've been denying myself any bread products.

I hope that I can soon find the balance that I desire so much in my life as well as my diet. I'm slowly working on the house and my wish is that by mid February, I can finally be back to work on my art and my new creative pursuits. I do hope to also be back to exercising and working more with my horses and spending more time with those I love....besides the horses, there are a few people, haha.

I borrowed the following list from a friend on Facebook. I agree with most of these as they apply to any creative pursuit but I can't say that I agree with number 11. I lived number 11 for many years and my work eventually lost it's joy because it did just become work and no longer pleasurable. I eventually became burnt out and exhausted both physically and emotionally, especially emotionally. I realize that we creative souls must be a bit obsessed with our work in order to enter the state of mental flow from which the best work, the best of us emerges BUT we must save time for the people and things that we love and for ourselves outside of our art. If I have any regrets in my life so far, it's all of the missed opportunities, the squandered moments and experiences, the time lost with people I love whom I no longer have and no amount of time, money or effort can get that back. It's time that is lost forever. So, as I start a new creative chapter in my life, I hope that my first priority will always be to find that balance and not to squander another single second of my life.

Henry Miller's Commandments, from Henry Miller on Writing:

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can’t create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it–but go back to it the next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.