Monday, January 31, 2011

Snack Attack

I had one of those hungrier than usual weekends.  I stayed within the Weight Watchers Points Plus Program, but I still just felt like I could eat all weekend.  I believe it was something mental rather than physical because I was eating plenty of food.  Do you ever just have days/weeks/weekends like that?  What do you do to curb your hunger?  Are there foods you eat to satisfy your hunger and/or cravings?  One of those snacks for me is my newest favorite snack-peanut butter banana toast.  When I say "peanut butter," I mean Trader Joe's peanut flour mixed in with a little salt, Truvia and water to make it like peanut butter.  It's delicious!  When I need to get my 2 teaspoons of oil in for the day, I will mix some oil in too and then it tastes like the peanut butter from the middle of Reese's Pieces candy (or what I remember it to taste like).  It keeps me satisfied when I get home from work during that time I work out until I can cook dinner.  It's one of those snacks that actually lasts awhile.  I am trying to pay closer attention to that because I know that's one of the keys to being successful with healthy eating and weight loss.  If I am not satisfied, I will just keep looking for more things to eat until I am satisfied.  Eating snacks that are not filling, will just lead to binge eating.  This is something I really have to work on, especially during the week, because I start my day at 5:00 a.m. and I typically go to bed between 9-10 p.m.  I really have to be strategic about the food I eat.  I know this is super easy, but I thought I would include a recipe for how to put together my favorite snack.

Peanut Butter Banana Toast
-22 grams (about 3 TBSP) Trader Joe's Peanut Flour or Bell Plantation's PB2
-1 packet of Truvia
-a pinch of salt
-water (1 TBSP at a time until the peanut butter is the right consistency)
-oil (optional-I only use if I need to get my oil servings in for the day)
-1 slice of whole wheat/whole grain bread
-1 banana

Put the bread in the toaster while you are mixing up the peanut butter. 

For the peanut butter: measure out the peanut flour and then put in the Truvia, salt and oil (if using).  Add water 1 TBSP at a time and mix up.  Keep adding water until you get the desired consistency for your peanut butter.  Once your peanut butter is ready, spread on your toast.  Then slice up the banana and put on top of the peanut butter.  I usually have 3 or 4 banana slices left over.  I leave a little bit of the peanut butter in the bowl and eat with the leftover bananas.  Once the peanut butter banana toast is assembled, enjoy!

Saturday, January 29, 2011


It’s kind of funny that I am writing the “chocolate edition” blog entry right after doing a blog entry on not being obese anymore!  Oh well....chocolate  is what life is all about (in moderation, course).  I eat chocolate almost daily.  When Bitchcakes did a blog entry on different types of chocolate, I decided it was such a good idea that I would also do a “chocolate edition.”  Fortunately, chocolate is something I can usually have in the house without going crazy.  I just keep it with the baking supplies and just get out what I am going to eat.  I never leave it out on the counter because then I would eat it all of the time for sure.  But keeping it put away doesn’t really tempt me unless I know I have the points to have some chocolate after dinner.  I have tried all different kinds of vegan chocolates.  Some of them are very expensive and some can actually be quite affordable.  It’s taken some time, but I have navigated my way around the “accidentally vegan” chocolate market.  I live in a small, rural area in North Carolina.  I am very lucky to have a wonderful grocery store that carries basically everything I need, however, when it comes to chocolate bars, they mostly have Snickers, M&Ms, Milky Ways, etc.  You get the point.  Not a lot of vegan chocolate options in the town I live in.  But I have found that CVS has a pretty good selection of dark chocolate bars and many of them happen to be vegan and even the two grocery stores I shop at have one or two chocolate bars that just so happen to be vegan.  This is what I go to in chocolate emergencies.  However, if I am well stocked, I will have the IKEA dark chocolate bars on hand.  Right now, it’s my favorite chocolate.  It’s vegan, cheap and delicious.  You can’t go wrong.  You can get 3 bars for $2.49!  That’s a steal in the world of dark chocolate.  So, I have compiled a list of all of my favorite chocolates I have found.  Some are easy to find at most stores, while others may be a little more difficult.  I will try to provide as much information as I can about the chocolate.  So, here’s the list:

IKEA dark chocolate bar—As I mentioned before, this is currently my favorite chocolate for three reasons:  vegan, cheap and delicious.  The fact that it’s cheap is great!  Chocolate can be such a splurge sometimes (with calories and money) but the IKEA chocolate is very affordable.  I live about 2 1/2 hours from Charlotte and that’s where the closest IKEA is.  I don’t make it to Charlotte often, but I have made it a routine stop to go by IKEA to buy up a lot of chocolate when I am in town.  Last time we went to Charlotte we bought 45 of the chocolate bars.  Which brings me to another thing I love about this chocolate—the packaging is airtight so the chocolate doesn’t dry out and get brittle and nasty.  I get so mad when I buy a $5 chocolate bar just to have to throw it away b/c its all dried out.  I hate that!  I haven’t had that happen once with the IKEA dark chocolate.  Try it if you are near an 

Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips—I have been using these chocolate chips for several years now.  Ghirardelli is one of the more expensive chocolate chip brands you can buy at the store, but I think they are the best.  What I love about these is that I can bake with them or just measure some out on my scale and eat them as is for dessert.  They have a great taste for just being chocolate chips.  You can find these at almost every grocery store.  Just be careful, not all of the Ghirardelli chocolate chips are vegan.  I think this might be the only one that turns out to be vegan. 

Ghirardelli Intense Twilight Chocolate Squares—I think what I like about these the most is that they are individually wrapped (wasteful, yes, but very helpful with portion control).  It’s so much easier to just be able to eat one of these b/c they are individually wrapped as opposed to a chocolate bar that you can go and break more off of.  Once again, not all varieties of the squares are vegan.  Just check the ingredients.  I have found these at CVS and other major grocery stores like Target. 

Lindt 70% dark chocolate bar—This might come in second to the IKEA chocolate-I’m not sure.  I really like this chocolate.  I found this chocolate at my regular grocery store on the candy isle with the other “fancy” chocolates.  It’s also reasonable in price.  I think I paid less than $2.50 for one bar.  (Not as good as the IKEA deal but beggars can’t be choosers in the town I live in!) 

Starbucks dark chocolate bar—This was a surprising find while traveling on the road this holiday season.  They sell these up at counter.  Once again, check the labels.  Starbucks sells quite a few chocolates so make sure what you are getting is vegan.  This chocolate bar is smaller than most dark chocolate bars and comes in at less than $2.  It is a nice, sweet dark chocolate-not bitter.  Some dark chocolate s are a little too bitter for me.  This one is not.   ***I wasn't able to find a link directly to this chocolate bar so I just did a link for Starbucks.***

Honorable mentions

-Trader Joe’s chocolates (They have so many vegan varieties!  If you are near a Trader Joe’s, go check them out.  They even have a website that lists all of their vegan items.  You could do your research before you go so you would know for sure and could narrow it down.  I have loved every chocolate I have tried there.)

-Green & Black’s Maya Gold-This chocolate bar has some different spices in it.  It has an orange taste mixed with some other spices.  It’s exotic and delicious.  It’s more expensive and harder to find.  I usually buy this one at Whole Foods or Earth Fare. 

-Chocolove’s Cherry and Almonds-Chocolove brand has a lot of great vegan chocolate bars.  I have not tried all of them.  I love that this brand also has some unusual flavor combinations.  It’s exciting to see some of the chocolates they come sell!  I typically find this brand at Whole Foods and Earth Fare. 

-Divine brand dark chocolate-I have only had this kind of chocolate a few times but it’s really good.  It’s a more expensive chocolate and it’s harder to find.  However, it’s very tasty if you can find it. 

-Endangered Species Brand chocolate-Once again, not all of these are vegan.  However, many of the varieties are.  A portion of the proceeds goes to protect endangered species.  When I buy this brand of chocolate, it's usually the individually packaged kind at Target or at a health food store such as Whole Foods.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No Longer OBESE!

(My weight last night was at 184.6 which now puts me in the "overweight" instead of "obese" BMI category!)

I have been waiting for this to happen for a long time now!  I know it still seems kind of discouraging to think that I am now "overweight" instead of "obese" but I am choosing to look at it in a positive light.  Yes, I am still overweight, but I am one step closer to being in the "normal" weight range.  I am no longer in the BMI 30s.  I have been working at weight loss and health for over a year and a half and it has taken me a long time, but I am getting there.  At my Weight Watchers meeting last night, it was one of those special milestones that only I celebrated.  A very important milestone for me.  I have probably been "obese" my whole life-even as a kid.  I have always been the "fat" kid and then the "fat" adult.  I am changing that one step at a time!  I am going to keep working hard and making health and fitness a priority so hopefully one day in the near future, I will be able to make a post about no longer being overweight!  I look forward to that day......

(I'm holding my PointsPlus weight tracker giving a thumbs up b/c I am no longer obese!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hungry Girl's Expanding Oatmeal Trick

I like to eat.  I guess that’s not really a surprise since this blog is about my weight loss journey.  I also like to eat a lot of food.  At my Weight Watchers meetings, this is called being a "volume eater."  I feel conflicted about this sometimes.  Sometimes I think that this is a big part of my eating issues.  If I would learn to cut myself off and just be satisfied with smaller amounts of food, then I wouldn’t struggle so much with my weight.  But then another part of me feels like I can still eat a lot of food, just a lot of healthier foods.  Fruits and vegetables bulk foods up so much and are so healthy.  It’s kind of a win-win situation.  I am getting so many more vitamins, nutrients, fiber, etc. by “bulking” up almost every meal with a lot of fruits and veggies.  I guess the point of all of that is Hungry Girl also seems to be on the same page about getting a lot of food for the number of calories you are taking in.  I get the Hungry Girl newsletters everyday.  Although Hungry Girl is not a vegan (not even vegetarian) site and they often have recipes that use quite a few processed ingredients, I have also discovered a lot of great foods, tips and recipes from their site. 

Hungry Girl had sent out a few different e-mails mentioned the “expanding oatmeal” trick.  I kept reading about it thinking that I would have to give it a try.  I finally did last weekend and I have been hooked every since!  The idea is that you double the amount of liquid you use and double your cooking time.  That’s it.  So instead of using 2 cups of almond milk, I use 1 cup of almond milk and 1 cup of water.  I use the same amount of oats but just cook it twice as long. 

Also, if you are following the Weight Watchers new Points Plus program, oats have gone up in points.  Oats used to be 2 points for 1/2 cup but now they are 4 points.  However, someone on the vegetarian message board, mentioned that the Country Choice organic oats/grains blend is only 3 points for 1/2 cup.  I was finally able to find this last weekend at Trader Joe’s.  I am sure they sell it other places, but that’s where I found it.  I am sure there are other brands and grain blends out there that would work, but for this recipe, Country Choice brand is what I used. 

Gigantic Bowl of Expanding Oatmeal Recipe

-1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or other nondairy milk of your choice)
-1 cup water
-1/2 cup oats or oat/grain blend
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 packets Truvia (or other sweetener of your choice)
-pinch of salt (optional)
-blueberries and banana (or any other fruit of your choice)

In a small to medium sized pan, bring the water and almond milk to a boil.  When it comes to a boil, add the oats.  Stir in well and keep at a medium heat.  Set your timer to 10-12 minutes.  (I cook mine for about 12-14 minutes.)  Every few minutes give the oats a stir.  Keep an eye to make sure they don’t boil over.  During the last 3-4 minutes of cooking, add in 1 packet of Truvia and the vanilla.  Stir in well.  When the liquid is mostly absorbed, your oats will be finished.  Add in your fruit and sprinkle the other packet of Truvia over your oats.  Enjoy your gigantic bowl of oatmeal! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (Small Batch)

I love baking cookies, cakes and other sweet treats (big surprise I ended up on Weight Watchers) but I have discovered that if the baked goods stay in the house, I will eat them until they are gone.  I can keep chocolate bars, ice cream, chips and other “junk” in the house and I will leave it alone (for the most part) but there’s something about baked goods.  It’s probably the smell when it fills up the whole house.  I’m not really sure what it is, but I know my weaknesses and that’s definitely one of them.  So I have learned to make small batches of cookies that make about 2 servings.  If I eat the entire batch, I know it won’t completely derail my healthy eating for the day.  This batch of cookies made about 8 cookies last time I made.  Although I do not need to be eating 8 cookies, I know if I do, I will still be okay for the day.  Or maybe I do want to eat all 8 cookies and just plan for that.  These cookies also have a lot of healthy ingredients.  It’s not just a cookie recipe filled with crap.  If you want to make a larger batch of these, just double or even triple the ingredients.  It’s a pretty simple recipe. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

-1/2 TBSP ground flax seed
-1 TBSP warm water
-1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
-1/4 cup old fashioned oats (instant should be fine too)
-1/4 tsp baking powder
-1/8 tsp baking soda
-1/8 tsp salt
-2-3 TBSP sweetener (I use Organic Zero but you could use Truvia or regular sugar)
-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger)
-1/2 cup canned pumpkin
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-2-4 TBSP semi-sweet chocolate chips (I measured out about 22 grams on my food scale)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the ground flax seed with the 1 TBSP of warm water.  Whisk together and set aside.

Mix the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sweetener and spice in a medium to large sized mixing bowl. 

Add the flax mixture, pumpkin and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix well.  (If the mixture seems too dry, you can add more pumpkin or a little nondairy milk to it.)  Once the mixture is mixed well, fold in the chocolate chips. 

On a nonstick cookie sheet, scoop out the mixture into cookies.  My batch made 8 smaller cookies.  If you make larger cookies, just allow for it with the cooking time. 

Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the cookies are starting to brown and are firm to the touch.  As long as I can’t stick my finger through the middle of the cookie, that’s usually good for me.  I like mine pretty moist. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tofu Shirataki Noodles Adventure #1

I have been hearing about these noodles for a long time now and I have also been avoiding these noodles for a long time too!  You might wonder why I have been avoiding noodles that have this kind of nutritional information and the reason is that I have heard mostly terrible things about them.  So many people on the Weight Watchers Vegetarian Message Board said they were horrible.  I trust their opinions, so I didn’t even mess with it.  But then I started receiving the Hungry Girl newsletters and recipes and they LOVE the noodles, so I started THINKING about giving them a try.  But what sealed the deal was when my friend Megabeth, tried them and said that she liked them.  Then I knew they were worth trying.  So I pulled out the Hungry Girl recipe for Lo Mein that I had saved, and decided to give it a go. 

I would recommend following the Hungry Girl directions for the noodles.  I think a big part of the problem that people have with the noodles is the way they smell.  When you purchase them, they are in water like a cube of tofu is.  The noodles can smell a little fishy if you do not wash them.  So I followed the Hungry Girl directions and I rinsed them very well and then I dried them between two towels.  They were just fine.  In fact, I really enjoyed them and I definitely plan to cook with them again. 

Tofu Shirataki Lo Mein

One 10 - 16 oz. bag frozen Chinese-style stir-fry mixed veggies (with broccoli, water chestnuts, etc.)
1 cup of edamame (You could also use tofu or another vegan protein)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 container mushrooms
1 cup broccoli
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup reduced sodium or light soy sauce
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. vegan veg broth powder
2 no-calorie sweetener (Truvia)-You could also use agave nectar or regular sugar

Rinse and drain Tofu Shirataki noodles VERY well. Dry them thoroughly, and run a knife or kitchen shears through them a few times (so noodles aren't as long). Set aside. To make sauce, combine soy sauce, cornstarch, veg broth powder, and sweetener with 1/2 cup of hot water. Stir well and set aside. Bring a large pan or a wok sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Add all the veggies (the frozen and the fresh ones). Stirring frequently, cook for 5 - 7 minutes (until frozen veggies are heated and all other veggies are cooked). Pour sauce into pan/wok, stir well, and continue to cook until sauce has thickened. Lastly, add in the noodles, and cook until entire dish is thoroughly mixed and heated.

Final thoughts on this recipe:  If I made it again, I would probably use more cornstarch because the sauce didn’t really thicken up much.  I would also add more spice to the sauce mixture.  Other than the veg broth powder and the soy sauce, there wasn’t much “pazazz” to the lo mein.  I would want it to be a little more flavorful.  With that being said though, the noodles turned out great.  I really liked them.  I think with a little tweaking, this recipe would be excellent. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good Deal Alert!

I LOVE using canned pumpkin.  I use it for muffins, french toast, cookies, etc.  I love it because it's good in so many things and it's so healthy.  I also love to buy organic as much as possible.  Organic canned pumpkin can often be very expensive.  Sometimes it's $2.50-$3.00 a can for the organic kind.  But Amazon has a good deal on the Farmers Market brand of organic canned pumpkin.  It's $16.00 for 12 cans OR it's $13.60 if you do the "Subscribe and Save" option.  That makes it out to be just a little over $1 a can.  I love the "Subscribe and Save" because you automatically get 15% off the product and free shipping.  I have it set up for Amazon to send me the pumpkin every 6 months, but it's no big deal if I change my mind.  I can change how often I want them to send it, skip a shipment or just cancel the "subscription" all together without having to pay a fee.  I use "Subscribe and Save" for a lot of different things such as vegan vitamins, agave nectar, Organic Zero sweetener and vital wheat gluten.  I thought you might be interested!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

3 Ingredients Smoothie

This smoothie is so easy to throw together and it makes me think I am drinking a milkshake!  The only drawback is that you have to be sort of prepared when you make this because the bananas need to be frozen.  But if you always have frozen bananas on hand, then you are in business!  On the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program, fruit is no longer any points.  This is very exciting, however, when I have this smoothie, I usually make sure that I don’t eat anymore bananas for the rest of the day.  I try to keep in mind that “free fruit” doesn’t mean I should eat 4 or 5 bananas along with apples, grapes, oranges, etc.  I try to keep a limit on my “free fruit” because I know it’s not really “free.”  It’s not magic, I am still taking in calories.  :) 

Also, I use Trader Joe’s Peanut Flour instead of peanut butter.  I do this because the peanut flour has a lot less fat than regular peanut butter.  If you do not have access to a Trader Joe’s, you can also use Bell Plantation PB2 or just plain old peanut butter.  I would just use regular peanut butter if I wasn’t concerned about the fat.  I LOVE peanut butter but I tend to abuse it because it’s so delicious and so easy to eat right out of the container.  I recognize that so I try to use peanut flour most of the time. 

With that being said, here’s my recipe for the 3 ingredients PB Banana Smoothie:

3 Ingredients PB Banana Smoothie
-2 small or one large frozen banana(s) (I freeze them in small pieces so they are easier to blend.)
-22 grams of Trader Joe’s Peanut Flour (This is about 3 TBSP)-If you want the smoothie to have a really peanut buttery flavor, I would use more peanut flour
-1 cup almond milk or non-dairy milk of choice
-1/8-1/4 cup water (optional)

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  If the smoothie seems a little thick for your taste, add a little water to thin it out.  I usually do this.  That’s it!

Another note: It seems only natural to want to make this a chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie.  I am on board with that!  However, I have tried making this with some cocoa powder mixed in and I didn't like it as much.  I might try some experimenting with that again to see, but right now, I like it just how it is.  

Monday, January 10, 2011

Samosa Casserole

Last year, Vegetarian Times posted a recipe for a Samosa Casserole.  I can’t call this recipe my own, but I have made a few changes to the original recipe posted here.  This recipe is filling and satisfying.  I decided to add chickpeas to the original recipe to make it feel more like a complete meal.  Also, I have found that I need to increase the spices in many of the Vegetarian Times recipes.  This is definitely one of those recipes.  I have increased the amount of spices and added a couple of extras to add to the flavor of the recipe.  We cut this casserole into 6 servings but those are VERY generous servings.  You could easily do 8 (maybe even 10) servings.  This is a great recipe to make on the weekend and have for the busy week ahead.  Here’s my modified version of this recipe:


-1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour
-1/4 tsp salt
-2 TBSP vegetable oil

-1 TBSP black, brown or yellow mustard seeds
-1 heaping TBSP of curry powder (or more if you like a strong curry taste)
-1 tsp ground ginger
-1-2 tsp cumin
-1/8-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/4 tsp turmeric
-1/4 tsp salt


-1 1/4 pounds of potatoes (I just use what I have on hand-you can peel or not peel-whatever you want to do)
-1 onion (diced)
-1 cup chopped carrots
-1 head cauliflower (chopped into small pieces)
-3-4 cloves of garlic
-1 cup frozen peas
-1 cup cooked chickpeas
-1 cup low sodium veg broth
-1/2 TBSP agave nectar or sugar
-2 TBSP non-dairy milk

1.     First step is to make the crust.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk together flour and salt in a bowl.  Stir in oil until clumps form.  Add 6-10 TBSP cold water-1 TBSP at a time until dough holds together.  Shape into ball, cover with a damp towel and set aside. 

2.     Mix spices together in a small bowl and set aside. 

3.     Cook potatoes in boiling water with a little salt for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Drain, return to pot and mash with potato masher leaving a few small chunks. 

4.     While potatoes are cooking, cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes with a little veg broth.  Once onions are starting to brown, push the onion/garlic mixture aside in the pan and throw in the spices to the other side of the pan.  Let them toast for about 30 seconds making sure they do not burn.  Once you can smell the spices toasting, mix the spices with the garlic and onion.  Add the carrots and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Then add the cauliflower.  Cook for about another 5-10 minutes or until the ingredients are getting tender.  Then add the peas, the rest of the veg broth, chickpeas and agave nectar.  Cook for another 5 minutes or until all ingredients are tender.  Add in the potatoes and mix all together.  Transfer ingredients to a sprayed 9 x 13 casserole dish. 

5.     Roll out crust dough to fit a 9 x 13 pan (on a floured work surface).  Cover filling with dough, pressing down to make sure no air pockets remain.  Cut X in the center to vent steam; brush with non-dairy milk just before baking.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until crust is golden.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Exercise TV

I REALLY don't like working out inside.  I hate gyms, treadmills, stair masters, etc.  But the winter in the mountains of North Carolina can be quite a challenge.  I took the winter weather in Oklahoma for granted.  Most days were sunny and fairly mild.  If you bundled up, you could get outside almost every day.  You only had to miss a few days outside due to the weather.  Western North Carolina is a different place.  In the winter, we get snow weekly and sometimes daily for several days in a row.  Last year, we had almost 100 inches of snow.  So as you can imagine, getting outside is nearly impossible on many days.  Although I hate this, it has forced me to look at indoor workouts in a different way.  Quoting Tim Gunn, I have to "make it work."  Last year, my mom got us a Wii for the holidays and I still use it almost daily between workouts and Netflix instant streaming.  I LOVE the Wii.  I have several workout games (I will post about those later) that I switch up to keep from getting bored.  But recently, my spouse discovered Exercise TV and it has been WONDERFUL! This gives me the opportunity to try out different workouts without having to take a chance and buy them first.  It seems like buying workout DVDs can be hit and miss.  There are a few workouts and trainers that I go back to again and again on Exercise TV.  One of those trainers is Jennifer Galardi.  I really like her style of working out.  It's fairly fast-paced but not incredibly difficult.  This is good for those days when I still want to burn a lot of calories but I don't want to push myself to the extreme.  I discovered I liked Jennifer Galardi a few years ago when I purchased her DVD called 10 Minute Solutions: Fat Blasting Dance Mix.

This workout DVD is fun b/c you can do as little as 10 minutes if you are in a hurry or you can do all 5 of the workouts.  I typically do the Simple Slimmer, Calorie Meltdown and sometimes the Fat Burning Party.  Then I will do something else for the rest of my workout.  Jennifer Galardi is one of the main trainers on Exercise TV.  These are some of her workouts I have tried on Exercise TV:

Cardio Groove and Burn-This workout I have done the most.  It's a little over 30 minutes and you are constantly moving.  It's not too difficult but you still feel like you are working hard.  

Ballet Strength Workout-I have done this workout a couple of times.  It's around 20 minutes.  Still, a lot of movement but not too difficult.  Maybe you could do the ballet workout to channel your own Black Swan....just kidding!  :)

Dance Jam Calorie Burn-I have only done this workout one time.  This is a good workout to do when you are trying to get a short workout in or you want to switch it up with a lot of shorter workouts.  This workout is only about 11 minutes.  

Another trainer that I really like is Cindy Whitmarsh.  I have only tried one of her workouts but she kicks my ass!  It's getting much easier, but it's still quite an intense 30 minutes.  I sometimes wear my heart rate monitor when I do this workout and I burn over 300 calories in 30 minutes.  

The workout I do with Cindy Whitmarsh is called "Less is More."  The idea is that you don't have to spend so much time working out but you maximize your workout in a short time.  That way you still burn a lot of calories and get a good workout, but you don't have to spend all day doing it.  

Some of the other workouts I have done:

I think those are all of the workouts I have tried.  It's fun to just browse what they have.  When I open up the Exercise TV webpage, I go here to check out the free full length workouts.  Then I am only looking at the workouts I can do for free.  I love being able to try new things risk-free!    

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cookbook Review: Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

I have been a big fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz for a long time now.  Shortly after I became vegan, I bought a copy of Vegan with a Vengeance.  I loved this book from the start.  Since then, she has published many more excellent vegan cookbooks.  Her list of cookbooks include:

I don’t think I have ever made a recipe that I did not like.  Every recipe has been a hit.  Also, many of her recipes are “crowd pleasers.”  These are the recipes I choose to make when we have non-veg*n friends over for dinner.  Her Blackeyed Pea Quinoa Croquettes and mushroom gravy recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance has made its way on to our dinner table many evenings when trying to please the pickiest of our omni friends.  Her recipes are always a hit.  What I love the most about Isa’s recipes is that they are never boring.  There is always a ton of flavor in her cooking but it’s never too complicated.  So many vegan recipes can be boring and lack flavor and then others can be too complicated with hard to find ingredients.  That’s never the case with Isa’s cooking. 

I have been on my weight loss journey for over 1 ½ years now.  This means that I have to be very selective about the recipes I choose to make now.  I also have to modify recipes quite a bit now.  If there’s too much oil, margarine, sugar, etc., I have to cut it way down if not eliminate it from the recipe all together.  This can be a hassle and it can also compromise the taste of the recipe.  However, I have still been able to cook with Vegan with a Vengeance, Veganomicon and Vegan Brunch without too much difficulty.  I am so thankful for this because I love Isa’s recipes too much.  But when I found out that she would be publishing a low fat vegan cookbook, I was super excited!  At first, I thought it was just a rumor.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up and then for it to not be true.  (Yes, I am a nerd.)  But then I found out it was true!  It felt like I had to wait forever for the book to be published.  So, needless to say, I was very excited to receive my copy at the beginning of December. 

I have been working my way through different recipes, and everything I have tried has been excellent.  Full of flavor, as always.  Plus, it’s so nice to cook with recipes that call for 1-2 teaspoons of oil (if any at all) instead of 2 tablespoons.  I don’t have to modify ingredients due to them being fattening and the nutritional information is even included for each recipe.  If you watch what you eat and you are trying to make better food choices, I highly recommend Appetite for Reduction.  I can’t wait to cook more recipes from it!  Below are the recipes I have made from Appetite for Reduction.  If I have any notes on the recipes, I will include them. 

Recipes cooked:

OMG Oven-Baked Onion Rings-We have made these twice now.  They are great!  I would make sure to follow all of Isa's directions for preparing the onion rings.  Also, we use less salt and more bread crumbs than what the recipe calls for. 

Butternut Coconut Rice-Lots of flavor-this made an excellent side dish for the jerk asparagus and broiled blackened tofu. 

Jerk Asparagus-A great way to cook asparagus.  It was nice to mix it up a bit-we tend to cook our asparagus the same way every time. 

Broiled Blackened Tofu-This turned out pretty spicy.  If you can't handle much spice, I might modify the spices in the recipe a little bit. 

Tempeh Helper-We made this back when it was just a recipe posted on the Post Punk Kitchen website.  I made it without the cheesy sauce.  It still turned out delicious-very much a comfort food!

Spinach Linguine with Edamame Pesto-We also started making this recipe back when it was just posted on the Post Punk Kitchen website.  We have made this countless times.  In fact, we had basil growing in our garden this summer and decided to make several batches of this pesto and freeze it.  We still have a few batches left in the freezer and it's always a treat to eat this! 

Quinoa, White Bean and Kale Stew-This was a delicious, wintery stew.  It also makes a lot of left overs so it's a good recipe to make over the weekend and you will have it for the week ahead.  I had a bunch of collards that needed to be used, so I used collards instead of kale in this recipe. 

Smoky Tempeh & Greens Stew-I made this recipe just yesterday.  This was the first time I used smoked paprika because I was just recently able to find it.  It's been one of those spices I have been trying to find for awhile now and finally did on my trip home over the holidays.  This was a very filling stew with a lot of great flavor.  I loved it!