Monday, April 30, 2012

Easy Lunch Recipe: Chickpea Pasta!

Clearly, I love chickpeas. I pretty much throw them in whatever I can, and I think a pretty good portion of my easy lunch recipes have involved my beloved garbanzo. But you know what? They're so easy! And they're beans, so you don't need to fuss with meat. And they're filling. And they're delicious. Shall I go on?
I'll spare you.

This is truly a great pasta substitute!
Today's recipe is something that I actually threw together in a moment of inspiration, using my very own brain, and no influence from Pinterest whatsoever (very unusual)! I know that most people probably could have thought this up in their sleep, but I'm new to this putting-food-together game, so I'm proud nonetheless!

What you need:
1 can chickpeas, drained (about 243g)- 233 kcal
200g marinara (ours is homemade)- 55 kcal
50g mozzarella, diced- 127 kcal
16g spinach, chopped- 4 kcal
21g mushrooms, chopped- 5 kcal

total calories: 424!

How to make it:
Throw everything in a bowl or seal-able container, except for the mozzarella. Shake it up. When it's time to eat, throw it in the microwave for about 2 or 3 minutes. Stir in the mozzarella chunks, let it cool down a little, and enjoy! This could be split into 2 servings, but I gobbled it up in one;) I paired it with one of my favorite desserts, frozen strawberries drizzled in chocolate syrup- 110g strawberries +10g choco syrup= 65 kcal! Winning!

Have you created a new recipe lately? Share it in the comments!
(You should follow the friend Libby is WAY better at recipes than I am!)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Today I Feel Love

Since we've started getting quite serious about our exercise routine, Mr. Light has gotten really into running. Last weekend, JD created a weekly regimen for improving his speed and endurance, and on today's agenda was a 30 minute run. When this plan was first presented to me, I told him that I didn't know if I would be able to run the whole time, but I would love to head out with him.

Welcome to our part of the world
At the ripe hour of 7:30 this morning, we got up, took our little puppy Light outside, I ate my oats and he his protein shake, and we were out the door. (Our love for early mornings has seeped into our weekends.) It was a perfect day, too, which we haven't had many of yet. JD and I walked to the river path, turned on our music, and started pounding the pavement. I keep a pretty slow pace, at about a 10 minute mile, but for me, I'm much more concerned about the doing than the speed. I know these short little legs and asthmatic lungs aren't going to make me much of a speed-racer. (But Mr. Light is quite good, himself. I think he's what we'd call "a natural") And you know what? I never stopped! I didn't even start thinking about wanting to stop until about 26 minutes in, which is unusual for me.

I can't tell you guys enough how crazy it is to have gone from what I was to what I am in just one measly year. Being able to run for 30 minutes straight, and not hating every second of it? Being able to hold crow pose in yoga? Having muscles in my upper arms, and muscular, cellulite-free legs? Every single second of this journey has been worth it. Every struggle, stress, worry, and craving withheld. Every single bit of it. And to be honest, this journey has actually been fun. Watching all the changes in my body, my lifestyle, my inner self, and my's been fun. Knowing that I can finally truly enjoy the youthfulness in my body before it's too late; feeling like dancing at the very same time that I'm running...that's priceless. That's incredible.

Today, I'm feeling a-whole-lotta love.

What are you loving, lately?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Plan Ahead

A few years ago, I was discussing with a friend/coworker what he and his wife always did to budget for their groceries. He explained that they would make a menu and plan out what they wanted to eat for two weeks, that way they would know exactly what they needed to get when they went grocery shopping.
At the time, I thought that was crazy. "What if you crave pizza on a night that you're supposed to have tacos?" I asked him. Unfortunately, I don't remember his response. All I know is that idea stayed around in the "this could maybe be a good idea one day" compartment in my mind.
overnight oats recipe here!

It wasn't until recently that I started putting this technique into practice, and for completely different reasons. Now, I don't plan that far ahead. Not even close. But I always plan at least one meal ahead.
I didn't start out doing this, but feel I came into it gradually. It wasn't even until recently that I noticed this IS what I am doing, but in evaluating my practice with it, I have realized that I don't crave things like I used to. Not only have my eating habits changed, which have made my taste buds change, but I don't really give myself time TO crave anything.

I always plan my breakfast, and usually my lunch, the night before so that I can prep anything that night that needs to be prepped, saving me time in the morning. Especially since overnight oats have made their way into my heart life.
Dinner isn't always as premeditated, but Mr. Light and I usually discuss it the night before or at lunch that day.
When I plan it, I make sure I enter whatever I can into my MyFitnessDiary app, so that it's ready to go, and kind of official.

Do you pre-plan your meals? What's your technique, and how far ahead do you plan? If not, I challenge you to give it a try, and tell me how it works for you!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Anniversary!

This is the worst haircut I've ever had...grow out already!
In the beginning, because of the amount of weight that I needed to lose, paired with my belief that my weight problem was purely genetic and no real fault of my own (so wrong!), it was hard for me to understand how real this journey could be for me. All I knew was that, if I really did want to be successful, I couldn't set my hopes too high. I didn't want to become completely consumed (heh, that backfired, eh?) by my journey...I wanted it to feel as natural as possible, so I kept myself solely focused on calorie counting. I didn't even write down the day that I started. I didn't write down anything! I knew that the "important things" were stored on my Wii Fit, so it could be referenced there if needed.
I've known I was close to having completed 1 full year of my new self, so this morning, as I was enjoying my (way too protein packed) breakfast, I turned on my Wii Fit to check the date. "Welcome, Jamie! This is your 373 day." 373! I could have sworn I started late April, but perhaps that is when I started to get really, really serious about this whole thing?
So here it is, finally in writing (of sorts): on April 15, 2011, I got my butt in gear.
Tax day will never be the same for me.

On day 1, I weighed in at (what my Wii declared was) 223 lbs.
On day 365, I weighed in at 140 lbs!

8 days later (April 23), I'm down to 138.8 lbs, and only around 3 lbs to my goal weight!

Today, I feel good.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dinner Doesn't Always Have to Make Sense

Shrimp, salmon, french fries, and fruit puree? Don't mind if I do.

What's your favorite "these things don't really go together, but I don't care" combo?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Protein and Fiber- It's What's for Breakfast

I was asked by my dear friend Libby today to write about ways I get my protein and fiber. In a sense of being honest, I seem to come up short in protein on the majority of days, and my most of me doesn't care. I usually come up high on sodium, and my most of me doesn't care (though I recognize I should, so no need to lecture. I'll get there when I get there.) I take a multi-vitamin that makes me feel pretty confident that I'm getting nearer to other nutrient goals, but I couldn't tell you what those are or why I need them. (Except, I hear iron deficiency makes you tired...?)
There are basically only 4 categories I really focus on for meeting the daily requirements, and they are:

1. Calories
2. Veggie servings
3. Fruit servings
4. Fiber
(If you haven't figured it out by now, I love fiber. I NEED fiber. I mean, everybody needs fiber, but I am certain I need it more than most;) )

You see, I need these healthy habits to be flung at me gradually. When I started counting, I only looked at calories. Then veggies came in the mix, followed by fruits, and lately it's been fiber. So who knows...maybe protein will be next, and sodium to follow?

Anywho, my breakfast this morning was jam-packed with both fiber AND protein, so what an appropriate day to write this post, eh? Good timing, Libby!

brownie batter cereal is the business
What I had: 
(c= calories, p= protein, f= fiber)
102g potato- 94c, 2g p, 2g f

brownie batter cereal, consisting of:
 100g Pure plain yogurt: 65c, about 5g p
 3/4 scoop Dymatize protein powder:  88c, 18g p
 25g Kashi Go Lean cereal: 70c, 7g p, 5g f

Microwave oatmeal mug muffin, consisting of:
 1/4 scoop quick oats: 75c, 3 p, 2 f
 1 large egg, whole: 74c, 6 p
 70g strawberries: 25c, 1g f
 2T skim milk: 11c, 1 p

As you can see, protein was the all-star of my bfast, coming in at a WHOPPING total of 42g! That's already almost half of my daily allotment! My fiber count comes in at 33% (10g), but I packed on another 16g at lunch *ding*.

My favorite sources of fiber, in addition to veggies, potatoes, and beans (per serving):

Fiber1 bars (they're my equivalent to candy bars. I don't even WANT candy bars anymore. Fiber1 is where it's at.)- 9g
Kashi Go Lean cereal- 10g fiber
Oatmeal- 4g
Quinoa- 3g

My favorite sources of protein, in addition to beans, seafood, and meat (per serving):

Kashi Go Lean cereal- 13g
Dymatize protein powder- 24g
tofu- 20g
egg whites- 14g

What are your favorite sources of fiber and protein, other than the usual suspects? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

SWAP: Bran!

It is not uncommon for foods that are made with healthy ingredients to be given the stigma of "low calorie". The words "healthy" and "low calorie" are often synonymous, so in those times when they are not, it can leave us in a bad position if we're not paying attention.

The not-so-low-calorie food I want to bring forth today is: granola.
Even though it is made with healthy ingredients like oats and wheat and nature's sweetener, honey, these items combined make it a calorie-packed snack...which is great if we're, say, climbing a mountain or running a 10k (because it is an excellent source of fiber and protein). But how often do we grab for it on a normal, non-mountain climbing day, thinking we're making a responsible calorie decision?
I know that for me, before my journey, I would often opt for a yogurt with fruit and granola, and eat something else as well (probably a bagel, tbh), thinking that I had saved myself a lot of calories.

Because my main reason for eating granola in the first place was the crunch, I've started swapping the crunch, grains, protein, and fiber (oh, the fiber!) for none other than...bran flakes!
It took me a long time to give bran a chance. I remember being young and staying with my paternal grandma always made us the most warm and wonderful breakfasts. She would fill up a tiny glass of orange juice, and serve us something wonderful like eggs and sausage. I will never forget sitting at their little table they kept in their kitchen, anticipating my breakfast, and studying the food storage tins on the counter. For some reason, I distinctly remember my grandpa's tin, full of his fiber-rich cereal. I remember the way I would look at it, being unable to think of anything other than rat poison. I was out. I didn't even need to taste it to know that Lucky Charms kicked the pants off of that blandness.
It's better than this looks;)
And now, here I am, shy of 30 and looking forward to dumping my bran flakes into my yogurt every morning. I love it! And I don't miss granola; not even one little bit.

Bran (B) and granola (G), side by side, per 3/4c*
Calories- B: 92 kcal, G: 329 kcal
Fat- B: 0.6g, G: 9.9g
Cholesterol- B: 0mg, G: 2.2mg
Sodium- B: 207mg, G: 39mg
Carbohydrates- B: 22.9g, G: 55.5g
Fiber- B: 5.1g, G: 5.3g
Sugars- B: 4.9g, G: 19.8g
Protein- B: 2.9g, G: 8.0g

Things we should learn from our grandparents: keep the OJ
small, and the bran tin loaded!

Next time you're craving a low-cal crunch, give this swap a try!
(I even like to munch on dry bran flakes from time to time!)

*figures based on Wheat Bran Flakes by Kellogg and 100% Natural Granola by Quaker Oats, courtesy of

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ultimate Goal: Success!

When I first started my journey, I had a really hard time determining what I wanted my goal weight to be. If I got down to 123, I would have lost 100 pounds, which seemed pretty exciting! But the number 123 itself seemed a bit ridiculous...I wasn't sure that was what I really wanted, but that's what I decided to shoot for, tentatively. However, the further down I dropped, the more I started paying attention to BMI figures. It was then that I realized that my end goal really wasn't to be 123 pounds, but simply that I wanted my BMI to reflect how I've felt for most of my life: normal. I knew that I wanted to be well enough into the "normal" range that a little bit of fluctuation wouldn't bump me up into the "overweight" range again.When I finally settled on a number for my end goal weight, 135, I also set for myself my ultimate goal: 141.0. That is the exact point where my BMI officially drops from "overweight" to "normal".

Well guess what I weighed in at 141.0!!! What the WHAT?!

I am officially of a normal BMI for my height and age. Every pound after this is a bonus. Like extra lives achieved in a video game...I can manage with what I've got, but anything extra will certainly help;)

I want to take this time now to encourage those of you who might be starting your journeys, and are not believing they can succeed: you can do it! You really can! Just find what works for you, and dive in. Don't beat yourself up, and keep moving forward. One step at a time. For me, my biggest help has been setting little goals along the way. The excitement that comes with reaching those goals have been motivation enough to continue on. The end goal isn't what's most important. The most important thing is the process...and the progress! Focusing on the little things along the way is what is going to get you to that end goal.

Good luck!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Curried chickpeas: A Dinner of Champions

Because I'm so in love with chickpeas lately (and found a store that seems to have a rapid's hoping they keep that up!), I've searched for various ways to feast on these delicious little legumes. I found this one a week or two ago, and finally cooked them up last Thursday. I had put it off for awhile, sadly, because I thought it might be a little annoying, but you know what? It was so easy! (I'm so not a cook. I don't enjoy the process, but man do I love the end result). When I started getting my ingredients together, I realized that I didn't have onions or ginger, and I only had curry paste, rather than powder. (Do American grocery stores carry curry paste and instant curry packets? I love them! I'll be posting an easy lunch recipe with them soon, and I'm really hoping the answer to this question is yes. If they don't, I'm sure your local Asian market might?) But my heart had already set on this meal, so I proceeded without.
I pretty much followed the recipe listed to a T, except for totally spacing on the garlic, and it was ready before I knew it! We threw the mixture into lettuce leaves for wraps (clearly, we love lettuce wraps. Mess or no mess.) and paired it with some boiled peas (I'm quite amused by themed meals), and you know what?
It ruled.
Eat this, you guys.

1c quinoa- 340 kcal
1can diced tomatoes- 70 kcal
1can chickpeas- 158 kcal
1 packet curry paste- 120 kcal
2-3  shakes cayenne pepper- 0 kcal

Basically, just throw all these ingredients into a pan, and let it simmer, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

total= 688 kcal for 585 grams.

I ate 240 grams, which only cost me 282 calories! Add 2 corn tortillas @ 112 kcal, 30 grams lettuce @ 5 kcal, and 1/2c peas+1/2tbsp I can't believe it's not butter @ 102 kcals, and you get an entirely delicious and filling meal for only 502 calories!

And who says eating low cal is boring?

Have you tried any recipes that blew you away lately? Leave them in the comments and I'll try them out!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easy Lunch Recipes: Turkey wrap

Hey everyone! I meant to post this on Monday, but got crazy super sick, and have been playing a bit of catch up since then. I'm really hoping to get in a groove on here...posting Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, but alas...perhaps it will happen next week.
Nonetheless, I spent the majority of my lunches last week trying to perfect this dish. It's so simple, but I just couldn't seem to get it right! I got the idea from Pinterest, but the turkey we had on hand tasted way too much like bologna in this (our deli meat options are incredibly limited here. Sad face.), and I found that the hummus on it's own was just a little bit on the boring side. So then I tried it again, the next time with shrimp and hot sauce. Much improved! Although, this dish is MESS-Y. So I tried it again by wrapping it up in a corn tortilla.
Forgive the blur here. I think blog goal #2 is to start usin my DSLR
In the end, I would have to say: buy lettuce large enough to let you wrap it up like a burrito. The corn tortilla was good, but the lettuce on it's own was much more refreshing. Just bring a napkin...or be better at wrapping it than I am;)

Here it is!
60g frozen shrimp: 49 kcal
30g green leaf lettuce: 5 kcal
2tbsp hummus: 54 kcal
41g cucumber: 6 kcal
1/2 tsp Franks Red Hot*: 0 kcal (I'm pretty sure)

optional: 2 corn tortillas:  74 kcal

The final product!
Thaw the shirmp (I just throw it in some hot water and let it sit for a few minutes. It's precooked, of course)
Place 1/2 the ingredients in a lettuce leaf, wrap, and eat! It's really that easy!

w/out tortillas, the total for BOTH wraps is only  114 kcal! With the tortillas, you're still only looking at 188 kcal. Craziness, right?!

I paired mine with some Pringles, because I'm a rebel like that. If you're looking for a healthier route, I often replace the crunch of potato chips with the crunch of carrots or celery. 110g of carrots will only cost you 47 calories, and 173g of celery will only set you back 24 calories! But with celery, I always dip, so carrots are an easier way to go:) 

Do you have a low cal easy lunch recipe you think I should try? Leave it in the comments!