Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dining Out with the Fitness Fashionista

Last week I went out to eat with my real life friend and fellow blogger Char from The Fitness Fashionista. We hit up a local favorite, Gratzie Italian Eatery, to talk and catch up on life. Ours are both extremely busy, so it's not often we get a chance to actually see each other in person! Char brought along the camera to document our trip for her blog and wrote a great article about it called "Eating Out Tips: Dining Out Without Ditching Your Diet". Catchy title, isn't it? :)

Char from TheFitnessFashionista.blogspot.com and myself. (Ok, not my best photo, but forgive me!)

It was great fun and I think we might do it again soon, so stay tuned there may be more dining out tips in the future!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Adventures in Cooking: White Beans and Greens Chicken Skillet

Yesterday I did something I never do--I cooked! I was so proud of myself that I had to document the experience. Now first off, I have to mention that I absolutely hate cooking. While I was in San Diego visiting my friend and fellow blogger, Mrs. Myers from Eat Move Write, I was given the five star treatment. She cooked every single night and I was absolutely blown away by not only the aesthetically pleasing presentation of her food, but also the taste.

The recipe I made yesterday was my favorite of all the meals she cooked. However, being the unprepared person that I am, I had to make a few adjustments to the recipe. First off, I only had one chicken breast so I cut up the chicken breast into little pieces and cooked that first. I had to scale down the recipe, so I added only half a cup of the chicken broth and half a can of the white beans. Since there wasn't a lot of chicken the white beans definitely made up for it. After letting that cook for 10 minutes as the recipe suggests, I still had a lot of broth in the pan so I added approximately a cup of pre-cooked brown rice. I let this simmer for a few more minutes. The brown rice did exactly what I wanted and soaked up the remaining broth! This amazed me because as I mentioned before, I'm SO NOT a cook. :)

I also made a side salad, like Mrs. Myers suggests, to pair with the meal. I used romaine lettuce, strawberries, mandarin oranges, and chopped up one of my leftover apricots and tossed that in there as well. Then I topped the salad with a few walnut pieces and Consorzio's Mango Fat-Free Dressing (10 cals per tbsp). The end result was a delicious and healthy meal that was not that time consuming or difficult to make! If anything, next time I might add some herbs to the chicken or mix a little soy sauce into the chicken and rice to add a bit more flavor but that's just personal preference. I also want to add that even with one chicken breast it made about 3 servings, meaning there was plenty leftover! I will definitely be making this recipe again. :)

White Beans and Greens Chicken Skillet:


2 Whole Chicken Breasts, sliced into large bite-sized pieces
1 can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1.5 -2 cups Chicken Broth (I use low sodium)
3 cups fresh Spinach, rinsed and washed
1 small tomato, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


In a large skillet, heat oil and minced garlic. Brown chicken slices until almost cooked through. Add 1 cup of your chicken broth (reserve the rest) and the Great Northern Beans. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Watch carefully and add water or more broth if the pan becomes dry. Add Spinach and the remaining chicken broth. Cover and simmer again until spinach is wilted, adding water if necessary. When spinach is wilted, add tomatoes and serve. Serves 4. Excellent with a garden or fruit salad on the side.

Source: Mrs. Myers @ Eat Move Write

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Key Lime Pie

For my work's summer pitch-in, I wanted to make the perfect summer dessert--one that was both fruity and light on the stomach. While perusing through one of my favorite recipe sites, MyRecipes.com, I came across a light version of key lime pie from Southern Living Magazine. I instantly knew I had to try it! While making desserts is certainly a passion of mine, finding a healthier version of my favorites is equally exciting. It just proves that you can cut a lot of the fat and sugar and still end up with a dessert that is just as delicious.

Key lime pie is a favorite of mine, but I honestly can't remember the first time I had it or even recall anyone in my family making it when I was a child. I remember ordering it once from Red Lobster and being sorely dissapointed. It was most likely the pre-frozen kind, no better than what you get in the freezer section at your local grocer. I made sure to garnish my pie with key lime wedges and rind so that everyone would know it was NOT a frozen pie :) I also used one of my decorating tips and a border technique I learned in cake class for the whipped topping.

This recipe is pretty simple and self-explanatory. It takes very few ingredients which is both a time and money saver. I will note that it calls for 1/2 cup of lime juice but is not specific. I assumed fresh, so I went out and bought a bag of key limes. Having never made a key lime pie, I had to return back to the store in order to buy a lime squeezer seeing as my fingers were not a very effective tool! Squeezing the juice out of the key limes does take quite a bit of time, so if you are looking to save even more time you might want to opt for a bottle of Nellie & Joe's Famous Lime Juice. Their website includes a list of retail locations.

Key Lime Pie:


  • 1 (14-oz.) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime rind (about 2 limes)
  • 1 (6-oz.) reduced-fat ready-made graham cracker crust
  • 1 (8-oz.) container fat-free whipped topping, thawed
  • Garnishes: lime wedges, lime curls


1. Process first 4 ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour mixture into piecrust.

2. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Let pie cool completely, and top with whipped topping. Garnish, if desired.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per slice.


Makes 8 servings

Nutritional Information

Calories: 290 (12% from fat)
Fat: 3.7g (sat 0.5g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.0g)
Protein: 7.4g
Carbohydrate: 55.1g
Fiber: 0.1g
Cholesterol: 3mg
Iron: 0.4mg
Sodium: 185mg
Calcium: 143mg

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Food Finds!

Yesterday I dropped another insane amount of money on groceries! Every week I swear I'll spend less, but I think healthy eating ends up costing me a LOT. I guess that's better than the alternative! I bought the usual, a ton of fresh fruit (apples, bananas, plums, strawberries, nectarines, cherries, and apricots), canned fruit (pears and mandarin oranges), and frozen fruit (raspberries for smoothies). Ok, so call me crazy, but I'll seriously get through all of that fruit in a week.

I also picked up a couple new items to try! For my morning snack I had a nectarine, cherries, and I finally got to try Kashi's new Dark Chocolate Coconut Fruit & Grain bar. I'm not going to lie, it was super delicious! Dare I say, better than their Pumpkie Pie bar.

I also picked up a new flavor of Peanut Butter & Co.'s The Bee's Knees. My friend Char, the author of Health and Fitness with Char turned me onto this brand of PB last year, and I've never ate anything else since! I always get the White Chocolate Wonderful and it is seriously to die for! Last fall, I tried their Mighty Maple but was left disappointed. It may have been good had I never tried the white chocolate, but it didn't so much as compare. I still haven't had a chance to try the honey flavor but I cannot wait! I think I see a peanut butter and apple sandwich in my future...

All this good food and somehow I still managed to avoid a binge last night! It's weird because I rushed through my dinner and felt guilty and unsatisfied afterward. Normally that would cause me to binge, but I didn't. I kept thinking about OA and how they use a plan for meals. I already ate dinner, so that was my last planned meal for the day. I didn't need to eat anything else and I especially shouldn't binge because it wasn't physical hunger I was feeling, just emotional hunger. I wanted to punish and numb myself with more food for eating the dinner too quickly and not taking the time to enjoy what I was eating instead of just shoving food into my face.

The only thing that stopped me from binging is my commitment to working the program. It's funny because if I were on a "diet" I most definitely would have rebelled, but having a food plan while essentially the same thing, feels like something I could allow myself to follow. Anyway, just an after thought.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My First Fondant Cake and Randy's Birthday Cake!

I'm finally getting around to getting some pictures up of last week's cake lesson. We made our first cake using fondant and I'll be the first to say--it's not as difficult as it looks! I really enjoyed working with fondant. If you like making cut-out cookies, then you might like it too. Essentially you are just rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes and strips to put onto the cake. Even the bow, which looks extremely difficult, was actually quite simple. I suppose the only downside is time because it is rather time consuming, but when I think about it--what cake doesn't take a lot of time?

As my friend Darcy quickly found out this weekend (when I came to help her make a cake for her boyfriend's birthday) cake decorating is 70% prep work and 30% actual decorating. Before I even came over, I had Darcy bake the cake and buy the ingredients to make the buttercream icing the night before to save on time. Making the cake on the day-of would be way too stressful and your cake would suffer as a result of having to rush through everything!

At the earliest, I recommend baking a cake three days prior to the event and icing and paper-towel smoothing it the night before. You could decorate the cake that night or put the finishing touches on the following morning as long as you make sure to give yourself plenty of time to play around with ideas and get creative!

I showed Darcy how to make homemade buttercream icing, how to ice the cake, paper-towel smooth it, and use the various decorating tips. She chose a cake out of one of the Wilton cake books my mom bought. She wanted something to tie in with her Hawaiian/Tropical theme and with the tropical looking flowers on the cake, I think it was the perfect choice. We had a few issues with the cake--it came out lopsided and at one point Darcy nearly dropped it, but luckily with my mom's cake leveler and Darcy's catlike reflexes, the cake managed to pull through in the end. And apparently it tasted good too because the entire thing mysteriously vanished by the end of the night!

Next week will be the end of Course 3 in cake class and I'll have pictures of my graduation cake--my first tiered cake made out of fondant and covered in fondant roses. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cherry Triffle with Amaretto!

I've been meaning to post a picture of the Cherry Triffle with Amaretto I made for a cookout a few weeks ago when my friend Garrett was visiting from San Francisco. I found the recipe on MyRecipes.com, a new favorite website of mine, which carries recipes from various magazines. This one in particular happened to be from a 1999 issue of Cooking Light.

The dessert was a hit! I received several compliments on it and nobody seemed to notice it was a "light" recipe. The boys, myself, and Nicole nearly finished it off completely, but enough was left over for me to enjoy as part of my lunch the following day :) The recipe itself was a bit time consuming because you had to make the custard yourself. You definitely want to make this at least a day in advance because the custard seems runny at first and you'll need to chill it awhile for it to thicken up. Also, it's a little on the pricey side because it calls for Amaretto liquore. As long as you don't go for the uber-expensive Disaronno brand you should be able to buy a 5th for ~$10.

Me & G at the cookout.

Cherry Triffle with Amaretto:


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)
  • 15 ladyfingers
  • 1 (20-ounce) can light cherry pie filling


Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. Set aside.

Heat milk over medium-high heat in a medium, heavy saucepan to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat. Gradually add hot milk to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan, and cook over medium-low heat until thick (about 8 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 25 minutes or until egg mixture comes to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Stir in sour cream and vanilla.

Combine orange juice and amaretto. Split the ladyfingers in half lengthwise. Arrange 10 ladyfinger halves, flat sides up, in a single layer in the bottom of a 2-quart soufflé dish. Brush 2 tablespoons orange juice mixture over ladyfingers in the dish. Spread about 1 cup pie filling evenly over ladyfingers. Spread about 1 cup custard mixture over pie filling. Brush 10 ladyfinger halves with 2 tablespoons orange juice mixture, and line dish with ladyfinger halves standing upright. Arrange 10 ladyfinger halves over custard mixture, and brush with the remaining orange juice mixture. Spread remaining pie filling over ladyfingers. Spread remaining custard mixture over pie filling. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours.


6 servings

Nutritional Information

Calories: 269 (29% from fat)
Fat: 8.6g (sat 3.9g,mono 2.8g,poly 0.7g)
Protein: 6.5g
Carbohydrate: 44.9g
Fiber: 0.0g
Cholesterol: 185mg
Iron: 0.8mg
Sodium: 177mg
Calcium: 130mg
Source: Cooking Light, JUNE 1999

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

VitaTop Muffin Parfait, Finally!

So this morning, I made a DELISH VitaTop Muffin Parfait! One of my favorite Bloggers, Danica from Danica's Daily included this lovely concoction on this blog post. I'd been dying to try it ever since, and just happened to see VitaTop Muffins at Kroger's when I was doing my grocery shopping last night. I knew I had to have myself a parfait this morning!

Ok, so my picture, obviously not as beautiful as Miss Danica's (I gave all my margarita glasses away to Darcy) and I didn't have almond butter so I put a teeny tiny bit of natural peanut butter on top. But I have to tell you, it was absolutely YUMMY! Those darn little things are expensive, but quite good. About $5 at Kroger's and I think it only comes w/ 4 in a pack. I had the CranBran VitaTop, but they have a ton of different flavors on their website.

Trying to follow Danica's Recipe, I used:

1 CranBran Vitatop (ONLY 100 cals)
1 Oikos Organic Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1 tsp of White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter
A handful of chopped strawberries and blueberries
A sprinkle of Bear Naked Granola

Yummy! (Just me being silly... Pay no attention to the bed head.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

In Unity There is Strength

"It does not matter how deep you fall, what matters is how high you bounce back." -Unknown

Yesterday I mentioned how I went to my first Overeaters Anonymous meeting. After a lot of thought, I decided this would be the best way for me to go about tackling my issues surrounding food. I have to say, it was a great decision. A few years back I had considered going after a brief relapse, but I was able to sort through my issues in individual therapy.

For newcomers, it may feel a bit awkward, but I'm no stranger to group therapy. For two semesters in college, I was a part of an "eating disorders" group offered through the student health center. I found it extremely useful. By the 2nd semester, after abstaining from binging and purging for a considerable amount of time, I was able to leave the group early. This fact alone gives me a lot of hope, both in my ability to overcome my issues surrounding food and in the "group process".

As for the meeting, it went really well. It was comforting to know there were others out there feeling the same feelings, thinking the same thoughts, and acting out on the same actions. I no longer felt shame and guilt because I wasn't alone. The best part was, I could take away at least one thing from what each person had to say and relate it back to myself. Also, they did a great job of making me feel welcome even though it was only my first time there. As I was leaving, one woman hugged me! Normally, I'm all about being contained in my little "personal space" bubble, but it was actually very sweet. A few of them thanked me for coming and said they hoped to see me again. There was a definite sense of warmth and unity in the group, and some of that feeling rubbed off on me as I left. The drive home was great--I felt very uplifted.

So, I'm going to continue with this and see where it takes me. The best part is that when I move, I'll be able to find meetings no matter where I go.

Well, I gotta leave work soon and finish up packing. I'll be in San Diego for the next week taking 2 of my summer intensive courses for the Events Management program and also looking for housing! Wish me luck!

*Side note: After being frustrated last night w/ packing, I resisted the strong urge to binge! Instead I had a hot glass of tea. Also, I threw out all my diet books filled w/ hopes & false promises. GO me!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

First step towards "recovery"

Every day is a new opportunity. A new opportunity to right the wrongs, forgive yourself for the mistakes of yesterday, and start over again.

Sometimes if we play close attention "God" (as you've come to understand it) or Life is sending us signals. Last week at work, when I was searching through the candy dish up at the front desk, I noticed our administrative assistant reading a book. I asked him what he was reading, to which he held up the complete text of Alcoholics Anonymous also known as The Big Book and assured me it was something I wouldn't be interested in. Then when I asked him what happened to all the "good candy", he instructed me to go to his desk and open the bottom drawer where I found a huge bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Jackpot! If you recall, I referred to this binge in yesterday's blog.

Well, what I did not mention in yesterday's blog was that the binge didn't end there. When I got home, I binged on whatever I could get my hands on. I think when I tell others I am an emotional eater, anyone can relate because who doesn't want to eat a big bowl of ice cream when things are going wrong? But, I don't just eat the ice cream. I eat whatever's in sight or within hands-reach. I've eaten english muffins w/ buttercream icing on top and food out of my own garbage after attempting to get rid of it. How appealing does that sound?! I've eaten when I'm upset, bored, lonely, because I felt guilty, or simply to punish myself. When I say that I have an emotional eating problem, that's a simple way of putting it because it's sooooooooo much more than that.

That night, I ate several bowls of cereal until my stomach was so full that I wanted to puke, and then I did. Words cannot explain the loss of control one feels on top of the guilt, shame, and complete disguist. I felt so lost in that moment and in the moments leading up to it. I realize that this problem is no longer in my control at this point. I need to do something about it and quick because I can't keep doing this to myself. I've tried reading my books on intuitive eating, binge eating, and eating disorders. I've tried talking about it in therapy. I've tried asking others for advice and writing about it in my blog--but nothing I've tried has worked.

So, inspired by my co-worker, I went to my first Overeaters Anonymous meeting last night. Had I not seen the AA book in his hands that day, I don't know that I would have spent the entire next day on the OA website researching the program and looking up meetings. For the first time, I made a decision on my own without asking someone else what they think I should do (not even my therapist!) and for that I am proud. Sure, I could talk about this more with my therapist, but honestly he doesn't have experience in helping people with eating disorders. On top of that, I'm getting ready to move soon and OA is free, which will give me some time before I leave to pay off my therapy debt.

I look back at last week when my co-worker held up the AA book and said it was something that I wouldn't be interested in and think, "Wow, how wrong was he!" It's exactly what I needed. The meeting went great, but I will give up the details tomorrow in a new post. xoxo!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Is food the enemy?

Last week started out fine, but somewhere in between the days I lost my marbles. Continual problems w/ a co-worker made me justify my right to a slice of chocolate cake. A piece of Dove dark chocolate and two homemade chocolate chip cookies later, I was drowning in a chocolaty pool of self-pity. The thing about using food for emotional comfort is that it never works--the problem doesn't go away and you actually feel worse about yourself in the end because not only is the problem still there, but you created a new one.

At that point, I began to beat myself up mentally and was feeling down in the dumps for the next couple of days. The funny thing is, I know this is what's holding me back from losing the weight and I also know that coping through food is partially why I put on as much weight as I did to begin with (about 15 lbs higher than my normal weight). So anyway, I took some time out to collect my thoughts and figure out how I wanted to tackle this issue. More on that in a bit...

Fast forward to the weekend. My friend called me to join her at the Y to work out. I hadn't worked out in several days, so I went begrudgingly. She left before I got there, but I decided to work out anyway since I had already made the effort to get over there. By the end of the workout, I felt great. I felt like I was able to "sweat out" a lot of the stress in my life. Looking back, I'm actually glad I took those few days away from the gym because honestly the guilt inside was killing me and I was in no mental state to work out. Also, I don't want to force myself to work out when I'm not in the mood. Then it begins to feel like an obligation and I don't want to attach any negative feelings towards exercise.

Yesterday when I went to the gym, I tried to take it easy because of my foot problem. I started on the StepMill, then walked on incline on the treadmill for half an hour. I could have been done after that, but I never did break a good sweat and my body was craving it. So I decided to hop on the Elliptical for 15 minutes and did my HIIT routine--2 minutes normal, 2 minutes at high intensity, high resistance. That brought my workout up to a full hour of cardio! GO ME! I actually didn't want to leave the gym and could have stayed a lot longer, but I had other things to do.

I immediately felt much better and all because my body was trying to tell me something--it likes to sweat. It made me think that maybe there is more to working out than just trying to lose weight. I'm starting to notice other benefits as well. Working out is a stress releaser. Also, my body craves working out. When I work out, not only do I feel good, but my body feels good too.

So anyway, I've had my highs and my lows, and I accept that there are going to be challenges in my life that may occasionally slow me down. The important thing is that I recognize and do something about it now, instead of letting it get the best of me. Later this week, I will post more about my little "solution" for how to go about addressing my food issues, so stay tuned!

Wilton Course 2 Completed!

I completed Course 2 of my cake decorating classes last week! In Course 2 we learned how to make seven different kinds of flowers out of royal icing. For those who don't know, royal icing is a lot thicker consistency than the regular buttercream icing I used to ice and decorate my cakes in Course 1. I still iced my cake and did borders w/ the buttercream, but after making a batch of royal that turned out too thin, I quickly learned how important the consistency of the icing you use for flower making is. I had to re-do all my flowers from that class since my flowers turned out to be one globby mess.

The flowers we learned in this course included violets, daisies, pansies, primroses, victorian roses, daffodills, and crisanthamums.

We also learned a new border and how to create a basket weave around the cake. I especially like how the cake pans we bought w/ Course 2 were oval because it definitely added to the basket look.

Close-up view of the flowers.

The birds are 100% edible. The markers used to color in the eyes and beaks are even special edible markers. These were made out of color flow icing. Similar to royal icing, it's just powdered sugar and water, however I think you use a bit more meringue powder than what's required for the royal icing. Basically you create an outline for your pattern, in this case a bird, and fill it in with the already colored icing. We let them dry for a couple weeks before using them. It's totally safe though! These will never go bad unlike the buttercream which will go bad after 2 weeks due to the shortening that is used to make it.

Today after work I'll start Course 3! I'm excited, I finally get to learn how to work w/ fondant which I am a HUGE fan of! Can't wait!