Monday, April 30, 2012

What's For Dinner?

It's that time of year again. Steve is in the middle of hay season and he hasn't been getting home until very late which means that we are eating late as well. He came home for lunch today and told me that he wanted about half what I usually serve him for dinner because he'd gained two and a half pounds when he weighed this morning. He's attributing the weight gain to our meals right before bedtime every night. So, I came up with a plan to cook the same amount but divide it into two meals instead of one large one. That will give me a bit more free time as well.

Chilaquiles Casserole Recipe at Cooking.comI'd planned on shrimp stir fry tonight and that still might be the meal plan with a tossed salad on the side so that cutting back on the portions doesn't leave us feeling deprived and fresh cantaloup for desert. I still think I might make a run to the grocery store this afternoon to buy the ingredients I lack for the following vegetarian casserole that sounds delicious. I bought some zucchini last week that we need to eat and this would be the perfect dish for them.

Chilaquiles Casserole (from Eating Well Magazine)


1 tablespoon  canola oil
1   medium onion, diced
1   medium zucchini, grated
1 19-ounce can  black beans, rinsed
1 14-ounce can  diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups  corn, frozen (thawed) or fresh
1 teaspoon  ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon  salt
12   corn tortillas, quartered
1 19-ounce can  mild red or green enchilada sauce
1 1/4 cups  shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini, beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are heated through, about 3 minutes.
Scatter half the tortilla pieces in the baking dish. Top with about half the vegetable mixture, about half the enchilada sauce and half the cheese. Repeat with one more layer of tortillas, vegetables, sauce and cheese. Cover with foil.
Also vegetarian, this is Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins.....can we get a yummy! from the congregation?:-D
Bake the casserole for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the casserole is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes more.

Nutrition Facts per Serving
Yield: Yield:  10 servings
Fat. Total:10g
Carbohydrates, Total:31g
Fat, Saturated:4g
% Cal. from Fat:37%

Just when I was going to call it a day...or at least a morning...and head toward the grocery store, I found another Mexican dish which looks delicious. This one comes form and I can't wait to try it.
Mexican Sweet Potato Skins
Healthy Mexican Sweet Potato Skins
4.9 from 17 reviews

Author: Pinch of Yum
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 60 mins
Total time: 1 hour 20 mins
Serves: 6
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 can corn, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2-4 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced or pureed
  • 1 ounce light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt (+ more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 6 tablespoons shredded cheese (Pepperjack, Cheddar, Colby Jack… anything will work)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the sweet potatoes for 45-60 minutes.
  2. While sweet potatoes are baking, place corn in a heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat with no butter or oil. Sprinkle with salt and other Mexican seasoning (as much as you want). Do not stir! Let corn roast for several minutes before stirring. Let it roast for a few more minutes before stirring again. Continue this for about 10 minutes, until corn is browned and roasted on the outside. Set aside in a small bowl with the black beans.
  3. Saute the onion in the butter over medium heat until soft and translucent. Set aside.
  4. Remove sweet potatoes from the oven when fork-tender. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut the sweet potatoes in half. Scrape the flesh of the sweet potatoes out, leaving the skins intact. Sometimes leaving a thin layer of potato inside of the skins helps them hold together better.
  5. Mix the flesh of the sweet potatoes with the cream cheese, sour cream, chipotle peppers, and salt. You can use a mixer or just a spoon, depending on how soft the potatoes are. When well-mixed, gently stir in the black beans, roasted corn, sauteed onions, and cilantro.
  6. Scoop the filling into the skins and top each with 1 tablespoon shredded cheese. Broil for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. the Chair

Coincidentally, todays DHC challenge was to dance to a song while seated in your desk chair. This was a lot of fun and I discovered that I'm a much better dancer when I'm seated. Why is this such a coincidence? ...Because I danced to the Bonnie Raitt song and video that I posted yesterday. It was an energizing and smile inducing three minutes and fifty-one seconds!

I posted on Facebook that I'd completed this challenge and that I'm much more graceful seated than on my feet. My friend, Rollin Watson-Walker, replied, "We are fools whether we dance or not so we might as well dance. :-D" Rollin, I certainly agree......but I still will do my most dancing solo, alone in the house. What can I say, I'm shy....and I evidently was born with two left feet although there are times I get all tangled up and it feels like more. Celebrate life today!!! Isn't it wonderful just to be alive?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The title of my last post got me to thinking about Bonnie Raitt's song, Something to Talk About. It was always a favorite but this video has stuck in my memory for twenty plus years. Bonnie said about acting in this video,  “I said that if Dennis Quaid, who was a good buddy of mine, would star in the video as my boyfriend, then I could act more flirty than if I tried to act like that in front of the camera. Because I’m not an actress, and I wasn’t used to videos. The way the song sounds so sexy, I said, that would make me more comfortable and relaxed.

“He said yes, and all my fears went away. Basically I was blushing the whole way, throwin’ it back at him, and he was suckin’ on a toothpick….” Bonnie, it worked! 

Something to Talk About

A reprieve from my usual talk of food, weight loss, health, food, celiacs disease, gluten, food....I think I'm beginning to realize why I can't lose weight..hmmmm....No, today, I'm giving you a movie review. Steve and I made a rare excursion to the movies last night. It would have been more fun if we'd been able to eat out, too, but I'm still skittish after my last "glutening" so we ate at home (roasted chicken salad with tossed greens, parmesan cheese, green pepper, walnuts and dried cranberries with a no fat-no gluten Greek dressing.) And then we proceeded to the theater to watch the worst movie I've ever sat all of the way through (and I saw Eyes Wide Shut in the theater on the day it premiered.)

I will start with a warning, DO NOT go to see Cabin in the Woods. Why did we go to see it? I had some movie bucks that needed to be used before the end of this month. It's slim pickin's at the movies at the moment. I kept wavering between Cabin which got great reviews and Safe, an action flick, and Raven which stars John Cusack and that is enough recommendation for me. But those last two had enough bad reviews to make me waver and we ended up going to see Cabin because it got a "Must See!" by both fans and critics on Fandango. Steve started laughing as we were leaving the theater and not because he was amused. 

"Please," he asked, "Don't ever tell anyone that I actually paid to see that movie because I don't plan on telling a soul." So, don't tell him I told, okay?

 For all the "talk" about an original premise for a movie...the plot was ridiculous. Hey, I love movies like X-Men, Spiderman, Iron Man and others. I can stretch my imagination far enough to believe that the Myers kid in Halloween just won't die. I enjoy a "good" horror film more than most people but this film was just outrageously unbelievable on all levels and the actors were chewing up the set....some of them literally by the end of the film. I kept waiting for the "surprise twist" at the end I was promised and when it arrived.....well, I'll just say, what a let down and little surprise. I mean the entire concept is so ill formed and ridiculous (yes, I know I'm repeating myself but there is no better word for it) that the ending does at least fit right in with the rest. As for scary, I was startled a few times but I heard people laughing more than gasping. There was a comedic character but this wasn't amusing on the same level as Scream. Anyhow, I'll shut up but I hope I've said enough to warn you away from this lemon. I don't even think it's worth a watch on dvd.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Flavored Waters

From, delicious & refreshing!
Quick and easy flavored water
© David Loftus

quick and easy flavored water



It only takes a second to turn a plain jug of water into something much more exciting. Chuck in a few handfuls of ice then try any one of these simple things: 

• Add a few slices of fresh lemon or lime.
• Quarter an orange, squeeze in all of the juice, then toss in the squeezed quarters for color and extra flavor.
• Mash up a handful of strawberries or raspberries with a fork then add to the jug and stir through.
• Scrunch a handful of fresh mint in your hands to get the flavor going then add that to the jug with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, add a few slices of cucumber too. It might sound strange, but it is seriously refreshing. 

Today's daily health challenge,
 Name a positive health change you made in the past, and reflect on how you overcame any challenges.
Okay, I know that the obvious answer to this challenge for me would be my recent diagnosis of celiacs disease and me giving up gluten. I've spoken often over the past few months about both the struggles and triumphs. But, just a few minutes ago, my husband and I were talking about our struggles losing weight. I had a miscarriage at 30 and both my husband (sympathy pounds) and I put on a lot of weight afterwards. We struggled for a few years and tried every trendy diet but the scale went down and up and down and up, over and over. The change came after I tried a diet pill that was evidently all stimulant. After a few hours of feeling as if I was crawling out of my skin, I tossed the rest of the bottle and headed for the grocery store. I started in the produce section buying healthy, natural food. I started making certain that vegetables always took up the most room on our plates. Each meal started with a tossed salad with some sort of low fat/low calorie dressing and then we ate plenty of steamed veggies with our meal. I measured everything and I also journaled every bite we took. I kept track of not only fat and calories but sodium and fiber. I not only monitored our calories but made certain that our fat was kept under 30 grams per day max and tried to keep it below 24 grams. I also started an exercise program that was added to my journal so that I was aware of how much I was doing and how many calories I was burning. In a few months, I had easily and quickly lost the weight I needed to lose, I was full of energy and all of my health "numbers" were superb!

So now, twenty plus years later, we definitely need to lose weight again. We are eating a lot healthier because of cutting out the gluten and eating much more fresh produce but I'm roasting and stir frying way more than I'm steaming. I am finally cutting back on the gluten free substitutions but they are still an occasional indulgence and although they don't contain gluten, they seem to always contain a lot of fat, sugar and sodium. Also, neither of us is exercising on a regular basis but we walk or work out when we have a spare moment which lately, isn't that often. What we were discussing this morning was the fact that we know how to do this, we just aren't doing it. So, this is what we're going to do.

The plan:

1) JOURNAL, keep track of every bite we eat. Monitor not only our calorie intake but fat, sodium, sugar and fiber. WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: it makes us not only aware but responsible for our diet. So often, we eat out of habit. We eat when we're bored instead of when we're hungry. We eat mindlessly. Awareness is the first step to change.

2) LOAD UP ON THE VEGGIES, the salad before and the half the plate in veggies to follow is a great plan because you fill up on low calorie, low fat, and nutrient rich veggies and you don't have much room left in your tummy for those higher fat foods. WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: I think I just said that, ha, but what I found before when we were so successful losing weight eating this way, was that I had to practically force myself to eat all of those fiber rich veggies and I lost weight but never felt hungry or deprived like I had on other diets.

3)MAKE TIME FOR EXERCISE, at the moment we are exercisers of convenience and that just doesn't work. If we begin to schedule the exercise and make it a necessary daily task, pretty soon it will become a habit and then we will start feeling deprived when we can't exercise. We'll start doing like we did years ago, if we missed our exercise session during the day, we'd do it late at night when we did have the time. I remember many dark, stormy nights when these two crazy fanatics were out there on our bikes peddling away. WHY IT'S IMPORTANT: we all know the answer to that:)

4) DON'T DIET, I know that sounds crazy but diets don't changes do. When the healthy changes above become part of your life, you discover that you no longer crave unhealthy food, you're bored sitting in front of the TV in zombie state and what you really want (FOR REAL) is a broccoli stem and a good walk.

I have to add that I had a very bad episode with hidden gluten yesterday. The culprit was turkey bacon which I'd bought without even checking the ingredients. I know that the steadfast rule for avoiding gluten is no processed food. Sadly, it was only after three hours of excruciating pain and then the exhausted aftermath that I thought, there is no such thing as turkey bacon....not naturally occurring anyway. After I finished my major whine and feeling sorry for myself fest, I thought, "How lucky you are!" Why would I consider pain and other very nasty reactions lucky? I do because unlike diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, celiacs disease is not silent. No, eat something you shouldn't and it shouts to the roof tops....and sometimes you do a bit of screaming, too, even though it is occasionally silent it is always loud in your head. So, as painful and unpleasant as the reaction to gluten is, it happens quickly and it posts a warning in your head to not only never eat that food again but to be more cautious next time and read that label before you buy. Still, talk about finding a silver lining on a storm cloud....I am the eternal optimist ;-)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

For dinner tonight, oven roasted brussel sprouts:

1 pound Brussels sprouts 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
Salt and pepper to taste 
2 tablespoons shaved Pecorino Romano cheese
I LOVE roasted veggies and you know I'll be adding some garlic to the mix. 
Found this recipe on a wonderful blog called The Forest Feast which is written by a NYC food photographer who moved to the woods. You can find the blog by clicking HERE.
And here is her recipe for roasted red carrots. As much as I love roasted veggies and carrots, you would think that I would have tried this already. I love her seasoning combo, too!

What Day is This?

Do you all recall how I use to label each day? When did I lose track of that? Life has been a bit crazy lately but I'm beginning to get a handle on it. I have been losing weight over the last few weeks. After I had to cut pasta, bread and pastry out of my diet along with lots of other convenience foods because of the celiacs, I thought that I would lose weight quickly. That didn't happen. The reasons why it didn't happen are most likely two: one, gluten free substitutes which I was eating like crazy for at least the first couple of months, are very high in fat and often sugar (I guess they have to do something to keep them all from tasting like cardboard) and two, depriving myself of one food group just seemed to drive me toward other usually unhealthy fare as a substitute...such as gelato (a monthly, sometimes weekly substitute for the ice cream I only had once or twice a year before,) Hershey kisses (virtually the only gluten free chocolate which is readily available,) tortilla chips and cheese when I crave "bread" (a double whammy of high sodium and high fat,) and although I love my stir fried and roasted veggies, one is loaded with olive oil (I could cut back a lot) and one with sodium (although I try to use low sodium Tamari and I make my own Teriyaki sauce.) I am starting to get that all under control but it is taking a lot of effort and thought. I just found out today that the canned chile beans and packaged rice that I've been packing for Steve's lunches for YEARS is loaded with sodium....I mean like a week's worth each day! So, today, I'm making him a pot of beans and I'm going to try the new rice cooker again and hope for better results. Steve let me sleep in this morning because I didn't sleep well last night....sweet guy. He fixed his own breakfast and when I got up, I waited about three hours before I decided to eat. So, I had breakfast for lunch...saute'ed spinach and garlic with three scrambled eggs and a little bit of pre-cooked bacon pieces...I know, I know, I was doing good until I got to the end there but it was delicious. I'm hoping to get some decent rice out of that new fangled rice cooker for dinner, roasted brussel sprouts (this time less olive oil) and chicken breast for Steve. I figure that the three eggs at breakfast/lunch are enough protein for my entire day. I also guess, since we usually eat late because Steve has been working on the farm every free minute, that I'll most likely have a protein shake later this afternoon. I have been more active lately. I'm not only starting Danny's ground training but I'm working his "uncle" horse, Riley, too. There's a long story about all of that over on Danny's blog but I will say that it is a pretty good workout. The long and short of it, I'm beginning to balance out my diet, I'm more active and I am losing weight. I told someone this morning that it's a very gradual weight loss so far. I compared it to a slow snail trying to climb a hot slide pace...down one pound, up two, down two, up one...but it is coming off at the rate of about a pound a week. Over the last month, I've lost a bit over four pounds but I'm still not down into the 100's yet. Ooooh, I can't believe I admitted that one! It's been so long since I've told anyone besides Steve and my doctor how much I weigh....and I didn't really tell the doc, he just insists on weighing me every time I drop in for a visit. That accounts for my infrequent doctor visits and why I didn't go two months ago when I fell out of the hay trailer and I'm pretty certain, that I broke something in my foot and ankle. Sad, that I'd rather suffer than admit that I've put on weight since I saw him last. Still, four pounds is four pounds and I may still have 73 to go to reach my goal but I am headed in the right direction...just wish this snail could learn how to slide uphill.

WOW! This article was EYE Opening

I really thought I was doing good with sodium intake. Because of the celiacs, I don't use a lot of highly processed packaged or canned foods. I don't add salt to my food after it's cook and very little while cooking. I had not idea however where the salt was hidden until I read this article.


High Sodium Foods List
Photo Credit brezel image by Christian Jung from
The body needs sodium to function properly, but too much sodium increases the risk for stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure and kidney disease. The Mayo Clinic says healthy adults should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Those with high blood pressure, kidney disease or risk factors for heart problems should consume 1,500 mg of sodium or less each day.


Fast food restaurants offer quick and relatively inexpensive meals and snacks. This convenience comes at a price --- many fast-food items contain high levels of sodium. One apple pie from a fast food restaurant, for example, contains 400 mg of sodium, according to Colorado State University Extension. A chicken dinner from one of these restaurants contains approximately 2,243 mg of sodium. A fish sandwich from a fast-food restaurant has 882 mg of sodium.


The use of spreads and garnishes can turn low-sodium choices into high-sodium foods that increase daily sodium intake substantially. The Mayo Clinic advises anyone trying to reduce sodium intake to limit use of condiments, sauces and other garnishes. Ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, salad dressing and sauces contain sodium. Soy sauce has nearly half the recommended daily intake of sodium, with 1,029 mg of sodium per 1 tbsp. serving, according to Colorado State University Extension. Ketchup has 156 mg of sodium per tbsp. This represents more than 10 percent of the daily sodium intake recommended for someone following a low-sodium diet of 1,500 mg per day.


In addition to high levels of fat and sugar, some baked goods also contain significant amounts of sodium. Washington University St. Louis reports that a 3.5 oz. doughnut contains 500 mg of sodium, which accounts for more than 20 percent of the recommended daily intake. The same serving size of bread contains 300 to 500 mg of sodium, depending on the ingredients and preparation methods used. Other high-sodium baked goods include biscuits, muffins, baked pie crust and sweet rolls.


Canned goods contain salt, which preserves the vegetables and prevents them from spoiling quickly. Salt also adds flavor to canned goods. High-sodium canned foods include canned kidney beans, pickled vegetables and sauerkraut. Colorado State University Extension reports that 1 cup of canned corn contains 384 mg of sodium. In contrast, fresh and frozen corn contain less than 10 mg of sodium per serving.


Luncheon meats contain sodium for flavor and preservation, making it necessary to eat small serving sizes or limit the consumption of these meats. Palo Alto Medical Foundation explains that processed poultry, bologna, ham, salami and pastrami contain high levels of sodium.


Oklahoma Cooperative Extension explains that processed cheeses contain disodium phosphate, which increases their sodium content. Cheese spreads also contain high levels of sodium. Examples of high-sodium cheeses include cheddar, Parmesan and American. About 1 oz. of American cheese, for example, contains 406 mg of sodium, according to Colorado State University Extension. Lower-sodium choices include cream cheese, Swiss cheese and mozzarella cheese.


Some snack foods have salt for added flavor, making it necessary to choose salt-free varieties or limit the consumption of salted snacks. Salted nuts, pretzels, tortilla chips and potato chips add sodium to your daily diet. Just two sourdough pretzels, for example, contain 490 mg of sodium, according to Rice University.

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