Friday, April 30, 2010

Amish Produce Jackpot!!!

So living around all of these Amish has it's perks and it also has it's draw backs.  The draw backs - the huge piles of horse poop on the side of the road and of course the tourists that take pictures (gawking) and slow down traffic.  But today I experienced one of the greatest perks - fresh farmer's market produce for AMAZING prices!!!

We've lived in PA for 3 years now and this is the first time I've ever gone to this flea market called the Green Dragon.  It's located in Ephrata, PA and is only open on Fridays from 9am-9pm.  I had the day off from work, so I went right away this morning at 9am to check it all out.  I knew I couldn't carry everything back to the car myself, so I located all the stands I wanted to buy from and brought Ryan back with me after work.  By the time we got there at 6pm, the stands had discounted their food even more!  I guess it makes sense - they can't really take all of that produce home with them!

We got everything pictured for exactly $40!!!  There is no way I could have walked away with all of this from the grocery store at that price.  They had an amazing meat selection too - but we were a little leary of that because we live just far enough away that we didn't want it to spoil in the 80 degree weather on the way home.  Next time we'll be bringing a cooler and getting our meat there too!  Now I'm going to be brainstorming new recipes for all the yummy goods we got!  Stay tuned....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sugar Free Mini Banana Bread Muffins - YUM!

We had 4 very ripe bananas that I didn't want to throw away - so I started thinking about how I could turn it into a yummy recipe.  I also bought a new mini muffin pan about 3 weeks ago and was looking for an excuse to use it!

1.5 cups whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup melted margarine, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup splenda baking, 4 small-medium overly ripe bananas, 1 large egg, pam spray, cinnamon to sprinkle on top at the end (24 cup mini muffin pan needed too).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin pan with baking spray.  Mash bananas in a medium bowl, add melted butter, egg, baking powder, vanilla, splenda, and baking soda.  Mix until combined (it will be chunky because of the bananas).  Once mixed, add in whole wheat flour and chopped nuts.  Use tablespoon to spoon batter into muffin tin filling each 2/3's to 3/4's full.  Sprinkle tops with cinnamon and bake for 12-13 minutes.  Use toothpick to make sure they are baked all the way through ( toothpick will be be clean if they are done baking).

Serve warm and enjoy! (I can have 2 at a time and plan to freeze the extras and heat up each morning for breakfast, Ryan can obviously have more.)

Buffalo Burgers OR Buffalo Sloppy Joes

So tonight for dinner I felt like getting creative.  We were both in the mood for something spicy, but I wanted to use up some hamburger meat that we had.  It was raining outside - so I knew I was limited to indoor cooking (no grilling).  It didn't turn out exactly as I had wanted - which is why it's a burger OR sloppy Joe recipe.

1 pound of lean hamburger, 1/2 cup Frank's Hot Sauce (Sweet BBQ flavor) and additional hot sauce for topping, 1 cup shredded mexican cheese, 1/2 tablespoon chili powder, 80 calorie Sara Lee Whole Wheat buns, celery sticks and ranch dressing or dip

Mix hamburger, 1/2 cup hot sauce, 1 cup shredded mexican cheese and chili powder together.  Make 6 burger patties and cook in skillet at 300 degrees with lid on for about 6-8 minutes or until cooked through.  Serve with celery sticks and ranch dressing and small side salad if you'd like.

(For some reason, 2 burgers worked and 4 didn't.  So I made sloppy joe's out of the other 4 that didn't stay together.  The first picture is a pic of the burger and the second is of the sloppy joe version. Ryan said they were just as good as the burger version.  I think the 1/2 cup of sauce might have been too much for the burgers to stick together - so adjust accordingly.)

New Hair

So this is my SECOND hair cut of the weekend.  The first one was insane and really bad.  The girl's mom came into the shop and started fighting with her in the middle of my hair cut.  I should of had the guts to say - um, let me out of the chair, but I wanted to be nice.  Well nice got me tears and 24 hours of being pissy about my hair.  So this morning I decided it was time to do something about it!  Went and got my second hair cut of the weekend  - it's SHORT!  I've never had hair this short before.  I'm actually kind of liking the change, but Ryan is not a fan of how short it is.  He was nice though and said that he'd rather have it short than all messed up.  It will grow - but for now, I'm going to ROCK IT!  (Don't mind the no make-up Sunday.  It's the one day of the week that my date with laundry does not require me to put on make-up =)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Birthday cake - yep yep!!!

So it's not my birthday - we're still about 2 months away from that.  But this week was one of those weeks for both Ryan and I.  We were both in the mood for something fresh and I wanted to "spoil" myself with something I thought I'd never have again - birthday cake!

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with strawberry shortcake (the character... and the food!)  Around the age of 9 or 10, I started asking for angel food cake with strawberries for my birthday cake.  My mother happily obliged and it became my go to for special celebrations.  I never knew that there was a SUGAR FREE version of angel food cake, but I found one in the store the other night!  It has 16 sugar alcohols for 1/5 of the cake, but for the tiny pieces I was serving, it was about 1/15th of the cake - so no worries there.

Now that I've discovered this, it will be hard to wait for my birthday in June to have it again.  I'm thinking I might try a truffle of some sort for Memorial Day weekend =)

Store bought sugar free angel food cake, strawberries, sugar free or light whip cream, equal or another sweetener substitute.  (Optional berries to add in: blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.)

Cut cake into small pieces (10 to 15 slices per cake).  Slice up strawberries and mix with other berries.  Cover berries with 6-8 packets of equal and stir.  Layer berries over cake and serve with a dollop of whip cream.

Taco Night at our house

Sorry for all the pictures of this relatively simple meal!  My brain was elsewhere tonight when making dinner and I kept forgetting to take pictures of all the ingredients.  The optional ingredients that didn't make our dinner table tonight would be black beans and shredded lettuce.  I decided it wasn't worth a second trip to the grocery store for those!

For meat mixture: 1 pound of lean ground beef, taco seasoning, 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion, 1/2 cup diced yellow and green pepper, 1/2 cup diced tomato, 8 oz. canned corn and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
For toppings and extras: Mexican flavored shredded cheese, lite or fat free sour cream, salsa, sliced black olives (shredded lettuce if you have it).
Serve with: organic blue tortilla chips or whole wheat taco shells (same nutritional value on each and totally optional). Could also be served with whole wheat soft tortillas.

Brown hamburger and add taco seasoning according to package directions.  In separate pan, saute onions, tomatoes, peppers and corn in olive oil.  Once onions are caramelized, combine veggie mixture with taco meat and let simmer.  Bake whole wheat hard taco shells for 4 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven.  Serve with toppings while hot! (You'll see the blue tortilla chips in my dinner picture - I ended up only eating 1 chip with dinner.  The meat and veggie mixture was great on it's own!)


Before surgery I gave up drinking pop.  I drank at least 2 pops a day before - usually Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Pepsi and of course, my trusted Diet Sprite.  I've now gone about 8 months without a drink of pop, and don't miss it in the least.  In fact - I feel 10x's better without it.  But before surgery, all I could think is "I'm stuck drinking water for the rest of my life!"

This is the furthest thing from the truth.  What it has done is make me read labels on the back of my drinks and really think outside of the box when I'm in the mood for something refreshing that is different than water.  Of course I'm still drinking water throughout the day - but I have 3 new go-to's that I thought I'd share.

1) Gold Peak Diet Tea because this has caffeine, I limit myself to 8 oz. a day.  It tastes like sweet tea, but they also have an unsweetened flavor that isn't "diet" that tastes like regular tea.  Frankly, anything without lemon flavor in it is a go-to for me.  Generally speaking all tea out here has some sort of flavor in it or is loaded with sugar!
2) Sobe Life Water - Strawberry Dragonfruit
3) ZERO Vitamin Water - lemonade flavor (Make sure to get the Zero, there is a 10 calorie and 25 calorie version too).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Local Harvest website for fresh/organic food!

I just found this great website and knew I needed to share!

You can use the search feature to find places near you that sell organic LOCAL food.  Less of an impact on the environment to buy local and a better bang for your buck on your plate.  Not to mention, this time of year - fresh always tastes better!

I typed in our zip code and got 24 hits, I typed in my parents zip code and got over 70 hits.  A-Mazing!

"Breaded" Pork Chops

I forgot to take a picture of all the ingredients when I started making dinner last night and was too tired to put it all back out after dinner was over. We must have been hungry, because we had both started eating before I remembered to go grab my camera for a picture (so please excuse the mess that was already on the plate!).
This meal took about 20 minutes from start to finish - and in my book, that counts as EASY!

Ingredients for the pork chops (makes 4 servings):
Panko Bread crumbs (Asian style found either in the bread aisle or Asian section of the grocery store)
4 thin pork chops
4 tablespoons of flour
1 egg
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Reduced sugar ketchup (optional)

Lightly coat each pork chop in flour, dip in beaten egg, lightly cover with bread crumbs on each side. Heat skillet with medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add 2 pork chops to skillet at one time and flip every 2 minutes. It will take about 7-8 minutes total for the pork chops to be cooked through (remember, I'm using THIN pork chops). Repeat process with 2 remaining pork chops and serve! I like mine with ketchup because I think it tastes like a pork tenderloin sandwich, but Ryan likes his as is.

Our sides were just thrown together. The rice that you see on the plate is about 1/8 cup of Uncle Ben's 90 Second Whole Grain Medley: Garlic Flavor. See it here! EASY PEASY People!

The potato mixture is something I threw together at the last minute and it was good! I cut up 3 red potatoes and steamed them in a steamer bag in the microwave. Took 1.5 cups of my tomato mozzarella salad (see blog post from earlier in the week), added a few white kidney beans, 1 handful of fresh spinach and a splash of olive oil. Heated it all in the skillet for 2 minutes until the mozzarella had melted and serve!

Already looking forward to the left overs for lunch today =)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuna Melts!

These are down right yummy and of course EASY!

Ingredients: (makes 4 open faced sandwiches)
12 oz. of tuna in water
3 stalks of celery - chopped
tomato slices (optional)
Light mayo - approximately 2 or 3 tablespoons or whatever you prefer
4 slices of reduced fat provolone cheese - or whatever kind you prefer
4 slices of whole wheat bread with no sugar added
black pepper or dill spice for seasoning (optional)

In bowl, mix celery, tuna, light mayo and seasoning together (seasoning optional - season to taste). Toast each slice of bread in toaster. Once bread is toasted, spread 1/4 of tuna mixture on each slice of bread. Cover with tomato slices (optional) and 1 slice of cheese. Use griddle or oven to broil for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Make sure the bread doesn't get burned!

I can't eat a whole slice, but about 1/2 to 3/4's at this point works for me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Salad

When the weather gets warm, I crave things that remind me of summer. This past summer Ryan and I went to this pub in Frederick, MD. It had the BEST tomato basil pizza. Obviously I can't have that anymore, but I can still enjoy the freshness of tomato, basil and mozzarella mixed together! This salad is light and full of protein thanks to the mozzarella. I've been taking it for my lunch with whole wheat triscuit crackers. It's an amazing combination and is getting me ready for warmer weather... and best part, it's EASY!

Fresh basil leaves (chopped)
5 RIPE Roma tomatoes
1/2 ball of or 8 oz. of mozzarella cheese (part skim preferred)
Light Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
Whole Wheat Triscuits

Cut tomatoes and mozzarella into the size pieces that you'd like. I prefer whatever would fit on a small fork or a spoon to guide my size while cutting them up. 1 handful of basil leaves (adjust to taste - this works much better with fresh rather than the spice in the jar). Mix tomatoes, basil and mozzarella pieces together in a bowl. Cover with 1/2 bottle of Light Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. Let soak in dressing overnight and serve cold with whole wheat crackers. (Crackers are totally optional!)

Crunchy Ranch Chick Peas

I'm not a fan of chick peas or hummus really - but I am a fan of these! The best part, 3 ingredients total... so we're talking EASY people!
What you'll need:
Olive Oil
Ranch dressing dry mix packet
2 cans of chick peas - drained, rinsed and patted dry.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. After drying the chick peas off, spread them out on a baking sheet (preferably one with a bit of an edge to it) - sprinkle tray with olive oil and mix all chick peas around so they are coated. After all chick peas are coated, sprinkle entire packet of ranch dip across the tray and toss again. Put in oven for 35-40 minutes total - take out every 10 minutes to stir chick peas. If you don't - they'll get stuck to the pan.
When it's all said and done - EASY/High Protein Snack/Tastes like normal food and the CRUNCH is great!
Below are pictures of the before and after of the chick peas on the tray.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I've decided it's time to give back the same way that other people's blogs helped me as I was researching and considering WLS! I was very nervous that my life as I knew it would end - and now that I'm only 3 months out... I'm here to say that is not true!!! This experience has so far been incredible and I can't imagine what else there is along this journey. My goal is to post recipes that are WLS friendly - and EASY! As anyone in my family would tell you, I'm no cook. Part of the reason I ended up being 347 pounds is that I didn't know how to cook and I HATE trying things that I'm not "good" at. So I'm pushing myself out of my comfort zone and I'm determined to help others in a way I never thought I would - advice on cooking (from my inexperienced perspective). Oh, and I'll probably throw in a little sass and attitude too. It wouldn't be my life if there wasn't a little drama here and there =) I've posted my before picture and where I'm at currently. My before is from July 2009 at 347 pounds. My "now" is from April 2010 at 274 pounds. I hadn't looked at these until today - and that was a WOW moment!!!