Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Weight Watchers Revamping

We all know that fruit and vegetables are essential in our diet and a popular weight loss program has now just reiterated this importance by revamping their program.

I have had a lot of success on the Weight Watchers plan and wanted to discuss it because of this new plan.  If you are familiar with Weight Watchers, you know that they calculate points for each food item.  If you are not familiar with the program, points are calculated by figuring how many calories an item has, how much fiber, and how much fat.  These three things allow you to calculate the points on a food item and then you have daily points based on your current weight.   Weight Watchers PointsPlus Program gives fruit and vegetables zero points.  That means an apple is zero points, grapes zero, cherries ditto.




As you can imagine, lower calorie foods with high fiber and low fat are lower points and vise-versa.  In the past even fruits had points though but thanks to the new plan, fruits and vegetables do not count towards your daily points.  From personal experience, I think this will add more sound nutrition to the program.  People will be more apt to eat fruit and vegetables since they will be "free" on the program which will actually encourage a healthy lifestyle.  


According to Weight Watcher's PointsPlus press release, " While calorie counting is still important, the new plan takes into account the energy contained in each of the components that make up calories - protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fiber- and it also factors in how hard the body works to process them."  This new program also encourages people to eat "real" food and not processed ones.  This means more fruit,  vegetables, and lean protein.  

So I encourage you to try and eat more fruit and vegetables each day and if you want to know more about the new Weight Watchers' plan, check out the above web site or the below link from Yahoo about the program.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cooler Tips

I am sure that a lot of people are returning home today from the long holiday weekend or maybe still out shopping, so I wanted to share a tip that I find helpful.

When I was younger I did not really eat fruit and veggies much but had a bad snack food habit.  Actually I still do but I have learned that if I am prepared with healthy snacks, I will not stop and grab a bag of chips.  So the operative word here is prepared.  Make sure before you go out the door, you stock a cooler with healthy snack items.

I am sure that you probably have leftover vegetables from a vegetable tray that you prepared for Thanksgiving so use these items to stock your cooler. Add carrots, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, celery, peppers, apples, string cheese, Laughing Cow Cheese, nuts, protein bars, ranch dressing, or anything else that you like.  Make sure you add bottled water or some drinks and you will be set.

One hint I will give you is buy a cooler with a plastic insert. This makes the cooler easy to clean.  I purchased mine at Walmart.  The link will take you to one similar to mine which I really like.  Have fun and safe travels!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What's That Smell?

This time of the year there are usually organizations selling oranges and grapefruits and we can end up having lots of citrus fruits in our house.  I have to laugh because I drank Tang as a child which was our orange juice.  I think it was easier for my mom to serve this to us and probably cheaper.  I definitely did not eat oranges when I was younger and actually never ate an orange until about three years ago.  I think I felt they were too much trouble to peel and I really did not know how to do it.  However, now that I have learned the easy way to peel an orange, I eat them all the time.





Last night I was feeling a little sick so this morning I decided to eat some oranges for vitamin C.  After peeling the oranges, I remembered a way to use the peels to make the house smell great.  So I wanted to share peeling oranges and this terrific tip on making your house smell great. Here are the items that you will need.

First, how do you peel an orange.  There are many ways but this is the easiest for me.  You just need to cut the ends off first and then use your knife to slice down towards the bottom center.  Check out the picture, hopefully you can tell how the slice goes down the orange.  Sort of in a quarter moon direction.

















Once you have cut the peels off then you just need to add them to some water in a pan and then add a couple of cinnamon sticks and turn the burner on low heat.  You can leave this burning for hours and just add more water if needed.  Please remember to set a timer though so you do not leave the pan on the burner.  This helps me remember to turn it off.  Your house will smell wonderful and you have used the peels from your fruit.  

Also make sure you save the peels in a ziplock, either in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.  You can even use them to make orange zest. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's Not Delivery, Its Out of the Oven Pizza

Not sure if you got up at the crack of dawn to get those deal breakers or have been putting up your Holiday decorations but I am sure you are exhausted right about now.


If you are and have not eaten, you can pull some leftovers out of the fridge and make a sandwich or you can eat some pizza.  I did not cook yesterday but had the chance to visit my best friend's family for Thanksgiving, so I have no leftovers.  So I am opting for pizza after running errands and cleaning.  Lately I have been making my own but I was tired so just bought a freezer one.  I have to say that my choice was excellent.  I choose the DiGiorno Crispy Flatbread Pizza.  It was wonderful.


The crust was thin and it had lots of pepperoni, sausage, red and green peppers, and onions.  If you are going to have pizza, I definitely recommend adding vegetables to it.  It will give you some servings of veggies.  Another idea is that you could add pineapple to one if you like sweet flavors on pizzas.  I love canadian bacon and pineapple, called a Hawaiian.  Delicious!

I also think this is a good idea for eating today because being tired makes most people crave comfort food and this is one of the most popular comfort foods.  You will get to eat something you love but get some servings of veggies or fruit with it.

Remember though not to over indulge!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks and Enjoying Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a day of community for so many people.  A chance to spend time with family and friends or helping others that are less fortunate.  Whatever you like to do, make sure that you take a moment to sit back and truly appreciate everything around you.

A lot of people equate Thanksgiving with eating and usually overeating.  However here are some tips for getting through the holiday.

The first turkey I ever cooked.


1.  Breakfast.  Start off your day with some fruit or something light for breakfast.  If you know you are going to have a heavy meal for lunch be careful about the calories for the rest of the day.  You need to think of it as a balance.  Below is an average day of eating.  Check out the amount of calories consumed.

Breakfast: 

1 large cinnamon roll: 309 calories, 14 g fat
3 slices bacon: 109 calories, 9 g fat


418 calories, 23 g fat 


While waiting for the meal: 

1 cup homemade eggnog: 343 calories, 19 g fat


The main event: 

6 ounces turkey (white meat, with skin): 214 calories, 6 g fat
1 cup mashed potatoes: 162 calories, 1 g fat
1/2 cup green bean casserole: 148 calories, 8 g fat
1 cup sweet potato casserole: 235 calories, 11 g fat
1 cup homemade noodles: 148 calories, 2 g fat
1/2 cup turkey gravy: 61 calories, 3 g fat
2 dinner rolls: 168 calories, 4 g fat
2 pats butter: 72 calories, 8 g fat
1/2 cup stuffing: 178 calories, 9 g fat
1 slice cranberry sauce: 86 calories, 0 g fat


1,471 calories, 52 g fat 
Second helpings of your favorites: 

1 cup sweet potato casserole: 235 calories, 11 g fat
1/2 cup stuffing: 178 calories, 9 g fat 


413 calories, 20 g fat 
Dessert after the big meal: 

1 slice pumpkin pie: 229 calories, 10 g fat
1/2 slice pecan pie: 245 calories, 13 g fat
1/2 apple pie: 119 calories, 6 g fat
4 T whipped topping: 50 calories, 3 g fat


642 calories, 31 g fat 
Sandwich during the game: 

6 ounces turkey (white meat, with skin): 214 calories, 6 g fat
2 slices whole-wheat bread: 256 calories, 5 g fat
1 T mayonnaise: 90 calories, 10 g fat 


523 calories, 18 g fat 

Late-night snack: 
1 slice pumpkin pie: 229 calories, 10 g fat
4 T whipped topping: 50 calories, 3 g fat 
279 calories, 13 g fat 

Total: 4,243 calories, 182 g fat


This information is from Spark People  So make sure to balance your day.


2.  Be prepared.  Bring a dish that you have cooked that does not have so much fat and sugar in it.  A great dish would be green beans.  You just need a little bit of olive oil, zest of a lemon, salt and pepper and roast them in the oven.  They are delicious!  You will not miss the cream of mushroom soup.  You can enjoy the mashed potatoes instead.  


3.  Ah Moment.  Remember that a lot of us overindulge because we think we will not get this meal again until next year but guess what, you can make the dishes you enjoy anytime.  They do not have to all be at the same meal.  This took a long time for me to realize and I still struggle with this one.  I equate it to clean my plate club.  If I do not eat it, it will be gone forever.  Get rid of this thinking.


4. Portions. Watch your portions.  Enjoy all the dishes but just take a couple bites.  


5.  Exercise.  Make sure that you get some exercise.  Since we see that the average person eats around 4000 calories on Thanksgiving, get outdoors.  Get everyone on the Wii or do something else fun.  Play football in between watching the games that you like.  






6.  Enjoy.  My last tip is probably the most important one to me.  Make sure you enjoy your day.  Enjoy the people you are with, your surroundings, the food, football, or anything else you want to enjoy.  


I have not been able to be with my family on Thanksgiving for 18 years which makes me very sad but I have learned to enjoy the day in many other ways.  I now have the chance to spend time with my best friend and his family which I also consider family.  So as you are going through the day, make sure that you reflect on your surroundings and give thanks!

Pass the Potatoes, No I Meant Potato Soup

For a long period of time I thought corn and potatoes were the only vegetables out there.  Well let me rephrase and say these were the only vegetables I would eat.  Now days I do not really consider them vegetables.

Tonight I was craving potato soup.  If you have never made any soup, this is an easy one.  Below is the recipe and you will be so glad that you fixed it!  It is delicious!

3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces.  Put the potatoes in a medium size pan and cover with cold water then add 2 chicken bouillon cubes.  These cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.  Then pour off most of the water but leave a little and then add some butter. I use one tablespoon or 2.  Then add some milk.  I have used soy, rice, regular milk and they all work great.  Add salt, pepper, and chives.  Then reheat a little bit and mix all the ingredients to your liking, mashing the potatoes to your preference.  You can make this thick, which I like or make it more runny.  Your preference. Add some bacon bits and cheese and voila!  Yum, yum!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tip Me: Pumpkin Spice Latte

This time of the year reminds us of pumpkins and pumpkin recipes.  A lot of people flock to Starbucks because they can purchase a Pumpkin Spice Latte but I want to show you how to make your own.

In order to do this, I used two new products that I purchased recently. The first product is the Keurig B60 single cup brewing system and the second one is Torani Pumpkin Pie Syrup.

First, let me give some basic information about the Keurig brewing system.  If you are not familiar with these products, they are a single cup of coffee or tea maker.  Brewing one cup at a time.  I bought my system at Sam’s Club after doing a lot of research on pricing.  Below is a link to a video of the product.  This is not my video but I thought it accurately showed how the Keurig system works.


The brewing system is an investment and it does cost more to use the K-cups than buying regular coffee, so keep this in mind.  However, if you like coffee or tea and want an easy system, this is great.  

The other fun product is the Torani Pumpkin Pie Syrup.  This can be used in a lot of ways, I even think it would be great over ice cream, wow would that be a sugar rush!

Ok, lets make the latte.  I am using a french vanilla iced coffee K-cup and I brew my coffee over ice.  They tell you to use a plastic cup because glass might break.  This is hard for me because I do not like drinking from plastic cups so I do not really have any in my house except for the ones with my blender.  Once my coffee is brewed, you just need to add the amount of syrup to your liking and I actually add some cream.  That was easy and probably saved you some money if you use your brewing system regularly.  You can also top with a little bit of pumpkin pie spice.  Hope you enjoy!    


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beef and Mushroom Stew, Add Noodles Please

This week I had a chance to hear Ree Drummond speak at The University of Oklahoma.  If you are not familiar with her, she has a blog called The Pioneer Woman.  My parents called me one morning about a year ago telling me about this woman who lived in Oklahoma and had this amazing website.  They had seen her on Good Morning America.

Well since then I have followed her blog off and on but having seen her this week gave me a renewed interest in her recipes.  Here is one from her site, Beef Stew with Mushrooms.  I did not take a lot of pictures while cooking because she has amazing pictures, check them out but here are a few I took.

Here are the ingredients needed.
Also remember to put out all of your ingredients before you start cooking.  This was a tip my dad taught me and it has saved me so many times on having all the ingredients.  Before I did this I would start cooking and realize I did not have something. This really is frustrating, so take it from me, lay out all your ingredients before you start cooking.





Here is the stew when it first starts cooking with all the ingredients added.










Tasty dish, ready to eat. Serve with a green salad.







Also add a side of crusty bread and you will be enjoying this one.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Organizing 101: Grocery Store


Going to the grocery store can be intimidating if you do not know much about fruits and vegetables but the thing that helped me, was trying new things.  Also I learned that you have to try some vegetables and fruits a couple times or in various cooking methods to really appreciate them.

One thing that I have learned when shopping is to bring grocery bags with me so that I will not end up with millions of plastic bags.  Also make sure if you buy reusable bags, you use them and clean them often. They can harbor germs if you put certain items in them. I definitely do not put meats in my bags. I will use plastic bags for any meat.  



It helps when you are eating fruits and vegetables, that you are getting a variety of color in your items.  I actually eat by color a lot of times now. I will have a green salad with red and yellow pepper, and mushrooms. This way I have gotten four different colors into my meal. The colors on fruits and vegetables can represent different vitamins and minerals too. I will talk later about this.


Also make sure you are buying in season or buying vegetables and fruit locally. This helps decrease the carbon footprint on the environment plus it is CHEAPER! However, if you are craving something that is not in season and want it, buy it, and enjoy!

I also wanted to give a plug for the bag in my shopping cart. I just started selling Thirty-One products and if you are not familiar with them, please check out my website, http://www.mythirtyone.com/kristiwright/ and view the catalog.  I would ove to share the products with you and answer any questions. I just found these products about a month ago and have fallen in love with them because they are nice looking, sturdy, and reasonably priced. Make a comment or email me.

What helps you at the grocery store? Let others and I know. I know there are great tips out there.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Side of Cider Syrup with Those Pumpkin Pancakes Please

Everyone has been talking about pumpkin pancakes, so I thought I would give it a try this morning.  Now I know what all the fuss is about, these are delicious.

What made these extra special was the cider syrup that I made.  I think if you give this one a try, you will not be disappointed.  The pancakes become a beautiful golden color.  The bad news is that you will find yourself wanting to eat more and more.



There are lots of recipes for pumpkin pancakes from scratch but I like taking the easy route and used a complete pancake mix and it was so easy.  You just need to make the desired amount of mix, I used 2 cups plus 1 1/3 cup almond milk.  Then I added about a 1/3 cup of pumpkin.  Maybe just a little bit more.  You decide.  Also, I added about a 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie seasoning and this sent it over the top.  Do not forget this part.  If you do not have this seasoning, just add 1/8 of nutmeg, 1/8 of cinnamon, and 1/8 of allspice.



The batter comes out to be somewhat thick and golden in color.  Then just cook your pancakes.

I will say that I am not a big sweet person, especially in the mornings but I also gave this recipe a try with the pancakes and it set them over the top.  I love the site allrecipes.com.  You can find everything on this site and the recipes are from people just like you and me.  Here is the specific link to the Hot Cider Syrup.  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pumpkin-Pancakes-2/Detail.aspx



Make sure you try this delightful recipe.  Also remember to make extra and freeze them for weekdays.  I have been doing this with pancakes and it is wonderful.  I pull them out of the freezer when I am leaving for work and then pop them in the toaster oven.  You will feel like a work day is a weekend day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Spaghetti Please

One of my favorite dishes is spaghetti.  It is extremely easy to make and usually everyone likes spaghetti.  I have made spaghetti for years using the McCormick spaghetti seasoning packets and it turns out delicious and cooks up in minutes.  Well last night I asked myself how can I get some more vegetables into the dish.  I had a lot left over from a recent party and did not want them to go to waste so I added them to the spaghetti sauce.

In order to start the spaghetti, you will need a couple of ingredients,  seasoning packet and tomato paste.  You also need water and spaghetti.  However to make it even more tasty I usually add ground turkey.  Substitutions can include ground beef, soy crumbles, or anything else you would like to add.  This time I also added mushrooms and red bell pepper but lots of vegetables would be great in this dish.



I chopped up mushrooms and a red bell pepper and sautéed them in a little bit of olive oil.  Then I added the ground turkey and browned it.  Once the meat is browned, you just need to add water, the seasoning packet, and the tomato paste and simmer.  




This is your final product.  A pan of delicious spaghetti.  Everyone's favorite.


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