Sunday, July 22, 2012

90/10 Week 5

Two more weeks until the "after" picture!  Time to step it up and start getting serious.  Like cramming for an exam in college: same concept.  Now it's time to do the things you should have been doing all along.  More sleep.  More ab ripper.  More yoga.  Less wine.   Maybe it will be more effective than cramming for an exam. 

Monday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peach Chutney, Steamed Green Beans, Steamed Brown Rice

(for 90/10, substitute 1/4 C. agave nectar for the brown sugar)

Tuesday: Lime Grilled Chicken with Black Bean Sauce, Steamed Mexican Corn on the Cob

Lime Grilled Chicken with Black Bean Sauce
3 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. olive oil
1/4 t. ground red pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
cooking spray
2 C. water
1/2 c. diced sweet red pepper
1 T. chopped purple onion
1 C. dried canned black beans
1/2 C. unsweetened orange juice
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large heavy duty ziploc bag, add chicken and seal bag.  Marinate in refrigerator 8 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade.  Place marinade in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.  Remove from heat; set aside.

Coat grill rack with cooking spray.  Grill chicken at med heat (350-400 degrees), until chicken is done, basting chicken occasionally with reserved marinade.  Set aside and keep warm.

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan; add pepper and onion, cook 30 sec; drain.  Plunge into ice water; drain well, and set aside.

Add beans and next 5 ingredients to food processor.  Process until smooth.  Pour mixture into saucepan; cook over medium heat until heated.

Spoon bean sauce evenly onto 4 dinner plates.  Place chicken breast halves on sauce; top evenly with diced pepper mixture, and serve.

Wednesday: Roasted Ratatouille, Whole Wheat French Bread

Roasted Ratatouille

1 1lb eggplant, cut crosswise into 3/4 inch slices
2 t. olive oil, divided
veg. cooking spray
3 med. zucchini, cut crosswise into 3/4 inch slices
1 1/2 cups vertically sliced onions
1 1/2 cups red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
1 1/2 cups green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 C. seeded tomato, chopped
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper

Cut each eggplant slice into 4 wedges; place in a bowl.  Drizzle with 1 t. olive oil, and toss well.  Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Broil 5 1/2 inches from heat 14 min or until browned.  place eggplant wedges in a large bowl, set aside.

Place zucchini in a large bowl; drizzle with 1 t. remaining oil, and toss well.  Arrange zucchini slices in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Broil 5 1/2 inches from heat 7 minutes or until browned; add to eggplant and set aside.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; place over med heat until hot.  Add onion and next 3 ingredients.  Saute 10 min or until tender.  Add tomato; saute 5 additional minutes.

Add eggplant mixture, parlsey, and remaining ingredients to skillet; stir well. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer `15 min.

Thursday: Salmon Cakes with creamy dill sauce, Spinach salad

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Amazing French Toast with Maple-Peanut Butter Sauce, Fresh Berry Medley

Amazing French Toast with Maple-Peanut Butter Sauce

What makes this french toast amazing is that it is healthy and tasty at the same time.

8 slices Ezekiel 4:9 bread
1 1/2 cups egg beaters
2 T. pure maple syrup (avoid maple flavored syrups or table syrups)
1/4 C. natural peanut butter
2 T. fat free milk (more or less to taste)

Soak bread slices in egg beaters until most of the eggs are absorbed.  Cook over med heat in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, 4-5 minutes on each side or until browned and cooked through.

Mix syrup and peanut butter until well combined.  Add milk, 1 t. at a time, to reach desired consistency.

Sunday: Onion Smothered Pork Tenderloin, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

90/10 Week 4

I'm trying not to be snobby about food, even though I really have developed quite the attitude --or is it an obsession?-- about food choices, but I'm trying to keep in mind that these are MY food choices, and that each person must make his or her own.  So, when I go to Starbucks and my friend orders a Mocha Chocolate Chip Frappuccino with whole milk and extra whipped cream, and I order a coffee with skim milk and honey, I buy both and bite my tongue and try not to preach calories.  No one wants to hear it.  After all, it's a personal choice.  It's a personal choice based in education, but if you're not ready to be educated, all you hear is lecture.

So, imagine my surprise when I opened a Martha Stewart Magazine, a magazine I've long since abandoned due to its unhealthy and unobtainable ingredients, and found several 90/10 compatible recipes, containing ingredients that are commonly found at my local store.  What a weird, fun, surprise!

I'm quite eager to try them out, as I'm feeling a little stuck and finding it difficult to come up with new stuff every week that I can eat and stay true to my commitment.

Tuesday: Chicken and Pineapple Skewers, Tomato and Parsley Quinoa

Wednesday:  Supreme Nachos

(for 90/10, I will be eating the ground chicken version and omitting the chips and the cheese)

Thursday:  Grilled Portobello Caps with Spaghetti Sauce, Romaine Salad

Friday: Flank Steak Stir Fry, Brown Rice

Saturday:  Black Bean Burgers with Pineapple-Cranberry Relish, Kale Chips, home fries

(90/10 skips the fries)

Black Bean Burgers

1/2 Green Pepper, seeded, roughly chopped
1/4 med. onion, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinse
1 t. italian seasoning
1 t. dried basil
1 1/4 t. salt
2 T. sugar free pizza sauce
1 large egg
1 C. whole wheat breadcrumbs
cooking spray

Puree pepper, onion, garlic and half the beans, ital seasoning, basil, and salt and pizza sauce in blender until the consistency of guacamole.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and add remaining beans, egg, and breadcrumbs.  Divide into 7 balls and flatten into patties.

Heat in pan coated with cooking spray.  3-4 minutes on each side until deep brown.

Serve on whole wheat buns with pineapple cranberry relish, lettuce, red onions, and coarse ground mustard.

Pineapple Cranberry Relish

3 C. fresh pineapple chunks
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 c. honey
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1 T. grated orange rind

Pulse pineapple and cranberries in blender several times until coarsely chopped.  Pour into 2 qt. saucepan and add honey.  Mix well, bring to a boil over med high heat.  Reduce heat to med low and simmer 15-20 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in almonds and orange rind.  Place in storage container and bring to room temperature.  Cover and chill until needed.

Sunday: Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Glaze, Brown and Wild Rice Mix, Steamed Green Beans

To alter the recipe to make it 90/10 Compatible, substitute agave nectar for the sugar and reduce to 1 1/2 Tablespoons.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

90/10 Nutrition Challenge, Week 3

Tomorrow marks the start of week 3 of my second 6 week 90/10 nutrition challenge.  Whoa that is a lot of numbers in one sentence.  My Jr. High English teacher is cringing right now.  All that means is that for approximately 9 weeks, I've been following, to the best of my ability, the 90/10 nutrition challenge, eating ninety percent of my total calories from the top two tiers of Michi's Ladder.

It hasn't been that hard.  Some situations are harder than others, of course.  And, I've found that my relationship with food has changed.  I no longer think that everything I eat has to be a treat.  I no longer think everything I eat has to be great, or even good.  I have come to the conclusion that everything I eat has to be first a conscious choice: why am I putting this in my mouth?  What are its calorie sources?  What nutrients or vitamins will this food provide for me?  How much of it should I have?  (Notably, "how could this taste better?" or "is this the best --fill in the blank-- that I've ever had?" are not questions I ask anymore.)  And second, it has to satisfy a need.  (It's important, here to distinguish between NEED and WANT.)  It has to satisfy a NEED.  If it's hunger, it has to make me not hungry anymore.  If it's thirst, it has to make me not thirsty anymore.  And if it's fuel, it has to provide me with enough energy to get me through my workout without me feeling drained.  (Again, taste does not factor into the primary criteria.)

So, it doesn't have to taste good?  Really?


Of course it has to taste good.  But it doesn't have to taste great.  At least, not all the time.  Good is good.  Palatable for sure.  But tastes for foods can change just as tastes for fashion can, and as habits change, so does taste.  In other words, one who prefers unhealthy foods, when substituting health foods consistently, can come to prefer healthy choices.  (Yes, prefer them.  Not tolerate them.  Not get used to them.  PREFER them.)

There are so many healthy choices out there, one can certainly find ones that work in the taste department as well as in the right-choice department.  But sometimes it takes a search.

Welcome to your search engine:

Monday: Buffalo Burgers, raw carrots and celery, steamed corn on the cob

Tuesday: Red Beans and Rice

Wednesday: Pineapple Lime Grilled Chicken, Grilled Pineapple, Citrus Quinoa, Spinach Strawberry Salad
(grill the pineapple in long strips, and place the chicken on top of the pineapple on a plate.)

Thursday: Egg Bake, Fresh Berry Salad

Friday: Salmon Ginger Meatballs over steamed brown rice, steamed edamame

(For 90/10, make meatballs as directed, but place on parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through.  Omit oil.)

Saturday:  Veggie Fried Rice

Sunday: Pesto Chicken, romaine salad, baked sweet potatoes

Pesto Chicken

4 chicken breasts, boneless skinless

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, divided
  • 5 cups arugula
  • cloves garlic, peeled and divided
  • lemon, halved
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • Grill the chicken breasts. 

  • Add the arugula and 5 cloves of the garlic to a food processor fitted a blade. Pulse 3 to 4 times, then add 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, squeeze in the juice of 1/2 lemon and pulse 3 to 4 more times. Add the pistachios, and with the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Scrape down sides and pulse a few more times. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Spread pesto onto chicken and serve.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Taking 90/10 On the Road

Good intentions have a way of getting derailed as soon as the slightest change in routine occurs.  This is no more evident than when taking a diet or fitness plan on vacation.  On a long drive, the food choices are abundantly limited, the fitness opportunities are fewer, and the energy and motivation decline faster than the gas gauge.

The attitude changes as well.  "I'm on vacation, I'm going to enjoy myself" or similar mantras are easy to adopt and make one's own.  It's easy to justify a binge eating or drinking fest.  It's easy to justify sleeping in or opting against an exercise session.  In other words, it's easy to become a victim of the circumstances.

It takes hard work to keep the momentum, and a good deal of planning and forethought.  And, if there is a lack of support, it's even more difficult. 

The good news is it can be done.  Road trip food, for me, has become hard boiled eggs, raw almonds, fresh berries, dried apples, and sunflower seeds.  No chips, no drive through, no candy, no Starbucks mocha frappuccinos.  The difference is, I arrive at my destination feeling fresh, not drained, energetic, not lethargic.  And, most notably, encouraged, not discouraged.

I help my host plan the meals, and if I allow that they don't want to eat my way, they are more likely to allow that I don't want to eat their way, and we manage to present a meal that works for both.  If I'm going to a picnic, cookout, or potluck, I bring something I can eat, so I know there will be at least one thing on the table that works toward my ultimate end.

Anyone familiar with weightloss efforts knows that it takes weeks to come off and days to put on.  I'm just not willing to take those steps backwards and start over right now.  I'm too close to my goal!

Sunday: Sliders, Sweet Potato Fries, Corn on the Cob, fresh peaches or pineapple

(If you're a 90/10 participant, make chicken sliders and eat them bunless or make whole wheat buns.  Eat baked un-sweetened sweet potatoes instead of the fries, and eat your corn plain.)

Monday: Spinach and Feta Frittata, fresh fruit, turkey bacon

(90/10 variance: omit bacon)

To make the frittata cook faster, divide it into 4 individual au gratin dishes.

Tuesday: Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

(90/10: no change)

Wednesday:  Grilled Chicken Breasts, Simple Green Bean Salad, Baked Sweet Potatoes

(90/10: no change)

Hint: make extra chicken to speed up tomorrow night's meal

Thursday: Chicken Fried Rice

(90/10: use olive oil instead of vegetable oil)

Friday: Zen Salmon, Steamed Brown Rice, roasted asparagus

Saturday: Pizza

(90/10: make this pizza, without the mozzarella cheese blend, and use a whole wheat bagel instead of the storebought pizza crust)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Back on the Wagon

Ladder, wagon....whatever.  I've had my break, and the scale has shown me just what happens when I do.  So, it's back on the wagon.  Back up the ladder.   Here we go!

Monday: Zen Salmon, Steamed Edamame, Steamed Brown Rice

Tuesday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Roasted Applesauce, Steamed Green Beans

Roasted Applesauce

4 Honey Crisp or Fuji Apples
4 Granny Smith Apples
2 T. olive oil
2 T. honey
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. orange zest
1/4 t. cloves

Oven to 400.  Peel, core and dice apples into large chunks.  Toss apple chunks with remaining ingredients until well-coated.  Spray jelly roll pan with cooking spray.  Spread apples evenly into one layer on jelly roll pan.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until apples are soft.  Using large fork or potato masher, mash apples until desired consistency is reached.  I prefer large chunks in mine.  Serve warm.

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken Breasts, Strawberry Salad, Baked Potatoes

Strawberry Salad

4 cups torn romaine lettuce
1 cup quartered fresh strawberries
3 T. fat free raspberry vinaigrette
1-2 T. raw walnuts

Combine lettuce and strawberries in a large bowl.  Drizzle with dressing and toss well.  Sprinkle with nuts.

Thursday: Lemon Pepper Tilapia, Citrus Quinoa, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Sprouts

1-2 lbs brussels sprouts
1-2 T. olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Stem and halve sprouts.  Toss with remaining ingredients, to taste.  Roast at 450 10-12 minutes or until beginning to brown and tender-crisp.  Serve warm.

Friday: Chicken Salad Pita Pocket, Kale Chips  (If you're doing 90/10, skip the pitas)

Saturday: Pizza (for the fam), Mock-Pizza (for me)

Mock Pizza:

1/4 lb ground buffalo or venison
a few mushrooms, sliced
1-2 T. red onion, finely chopped
a few black and green olives, chopped or sliced
1 c. spinach, wilted
1/4 C. sugar free or reduced sugar pasta sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 bell pepper, halved lengthwise, stems, seeds, and membranes removed
 1-2 T. parmesan cheese

Preheat broiler or grill.

Brown meat, drain and set aside.  Wipe pan with paper towel.  Add mushrooms and onions to pan, saute just until mushrooms are starting to soften.  Add meat, olives, pasta sauce, and spinach.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir well.  Heat until contents are hot.  Divide meat mixture between the two pepper halves; sprinkle with cheese.  Broil or grill until peppers start to brown and cheese melts.

Sunday: Honey Jalepeno Chicken Wraps (eat it "naked" for 90/10)

Honey Jalepeno Chicken Wraps
4, 4oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 t. coconut oil
1 t. garlic powder
4 T. honey
4 T. dijon mustard
4 T. finely minced fresh jalepeno
2 t. garlic powder
8 5-6" whole wheat tortillas
8 tsp. grated low fat cheese

Cut chicken breasts lengthwise into strips.

Place coconut oil in skillet over med. heat; add chicken and sprinkle with garlic powder.  Thoroughly cook chicken, remove from skillet, and set aside.

Combine honey, mustard, and jalepeno in a small bowl.

Heat fresh skillet over med. heat and place tortilla in pan.  Heat tortilla 30 sec, flip, and add 1/8 of chicken and 1/8 of cheese.

When cheese is melted, remove from pan, roll up, and serve with dipping sauce on the side.

Repeat for remaining tortillas.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Taking a Break

After 6 weeks on the 90/10 Challenge, I've memorized Michi's Ladder.  I don't know who Michi is, but at times I've wished she would fall off that damn ladder and have a horrible concussion.  Denying myself food has never been my favorite thing, and I've never been all that good at it.

Committing, though, is something I'm good at.  If I say I'll do it, I do it.  And this resolve has been my saving grace the last month and a half.  I think I had one cheat day.  One thing in 42 days that I knew wasn't anywhere on the allowed tiers.  It was a bag of Snyder's 100 Calorie pretzels, and I regretted every bite.

And here's what my results are: In 42 days, I've lost 6 pounds and over 5 percent of my total body weight.  I've dropped a clothing size.  My wedding ring falls off and my shoes are too big.  My attitude about myself has changed, in a positive way.  People are noticing these differences, especially my husband who claims I am "getting more and more beautiful every day."

In summary: it was worth it.  6 weeks is a blink.  Day to day it was tough to continue not just making good choices, but making EXTREMELY good choices, but after awhile it got easier, and looking back it went by so fast.

And now it's time for a break.  It's time to re-introduce myself to what junk food feels like.  I expect I will regret it, and re-learn the difference in how I feel after a binge versus how I feel after a responsible day.  And, come Monday next, I will embark once again on Michi's Ladder.

So, here it is: Dinner Diva's Down and Dirty Doggone Damn Good Dinners (that will make you feel ill the next day)

Monday: Grilled New York Strip Steaks, Steamed Green Beans, Home Fries

Tuesday: Perfect Fried Chicken, Buttermilk Biscuits, Corn on the Cob, Roasted Applesauce

Wednesday: Flank Steak Stir Fry, Rice, Egg Rolls

Thursday: Raspberry-Balsamic Glazed Chicken, Steamed Pea Pods, Rice Medley

Friday: OUT TO EAT

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Graduation Day

My niece is graduating from High School next week.  In her honor, I will be visiting her in Florida.  It is, truly, a time to celebrate.  She has worked hard for this achievement, and it is one of life's big milestones.  It also gives me a chance to reflect on my own high school graduation (a mere 21 years ago) and where, exactly, I've come from there.

In some ways, I've stagnated.  I haven't achieved many of the goals I had back then.  I'm not a pilot, like my dad.  I haven't become a published author.  I only completed one year of college sports.

In other ways, I've come far.  I've been married for 15 years, I have 2 lovely children.  I've run two marathons and many half marathons and triathlons.  I've trained 4 service dogs.   And I have a life of which I am proud and in which I am happy.

Life takes you where it takes you, there isn't always a plan, and the path seldom follows the plan that is set as of completion of 12th grade.  I've learned to cook.  I've learned to snowboard.  I've become a women's breastfeeding consultant, and a doula.  I've learned some life lessons.  I've learned to live in the now, and not wish the time away.  I've learned to live a healthy lifestyle.

I'm fitter now than I was then, even as a varsity athlete.  I'm thinner now than I was then, and I make much healthier choices.  And I still have room for improvement, as we all do.

This menu will only go to Wednesday.  Then Dinner Diva Menus is taking a vacation until June.  Cook well, my friends.

Sunday: Leftovers

Monday: Sweet Orange Salmon, Steamed Broccoli, Steamed Brown Rice

Tuesday: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mango Salsa, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Red Bell Peppers

Wednesday: Stir Fry Asian Veggies, Steamed Quinoa

Stir Fry Asian Veggies (adapted from P90X2 Nutrition Guide)

1 T. sesame oil
3 t. bottled minced garlic
1 T. bottled minced ginger
8 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 med. red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
1 C. shredded cabbage (or coleslaw mix)
1 C. shelled edamame (I've learned this is called Makimame)
2 T. lime juice
2 T. soy sauce
3 T. orange juice
1 T. sesame oil
2 t. pure maple syrup
1 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 C. cooked quinoa
sea salt, to taste

Heat sesame oil in large skillet or wok over med heat.  Saute garlic and ginger about 1 minute.

Add mushrooms and saute 3-4 minutes.

Add bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, and edamame.  Cover, turn heat down to low, and steam veggies for 3-4 min.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine lime juice, soy sauce, orange juice, sesame oil, maple syrup, and cornstarch and whisk together.

Pour lime juice mixture over veggies in skillete and let cook 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.  Sauce will begin to bubble and thicken.  Don't over cook veggies; they should be crisp and brightly colored.

Season with sea salt and serve over quinoa.