Category Archives: Food

How I Lost 15 Pounds

One year ago I got fed up. I had had enough.  After nearly five years of “trying” to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight i was at my heaviest weight since bringing Noah into this world.  I was not satisfied with the look of my body but I honestly didn’t know what to do.  The more I “tried” the more it seemed like I gained weight.  I always thought it would be easier to maintain my weight once I became a stay at home mom.  No more sitting in a desk eight hours a day.  But all the running around after toddlers doesn’t erase all the snacks you find yourself eating with them and the secret pieces of chocolate you sneak into your mouth during nap times. Moms, you know what I’m talking about.  I knew that my next step needed to be serious.  I knew that this was a journey that I couldn’t do on my own because I can talk myself into eating any fun size candy bar, scoop of ice cream, or buttered biscuit.

The next step that I chose lead me to losing fifteen pounds over the past year!  I will be the first to admit to you that I was not overweight but keep in mind that I was not satisfied with the state of my body.  But when you are 4′-11″… (one inch shy of needing a booster seat) fifteen pounds is a LOT of weight and requires diligent effort.  Here’s how I did it.

Weight Watchers!

Yep, twelve months and a success story later and I have no shame in telling you that I followed in the steps of Oprah and joined Weight Watchers.  The only difference is that my success story doesn’t include personal trainers and chefs helping me on my journey.  My story is simply my life lived out normally while feeding and caring for my family of five. I’ve eaten out, vacationed, and occasionally splurged all while getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight and continually working towards my final goal.

 

So how did Weight Watchers help me?

It opened my eyes to that while I wasn’t eating a ton of food I was eating more than my body needed.  Unfortunately, my small little frame just doesn’t need a lot of food.  That fact is still a little sad because I LOVE food.  But I’ve learned to just enjoy a few bites of everything instead of feeling the need to consume everything offered me.  I have the Weight Watchers app and use it to calculate and budget my points for each day and week.  I get a certain amount of Smart Points each week that I can use whenever I want.  Generally, I save those for a special dessert sometime during the week. If I know that a party or big meal is coming up I’ll try to get some extra steps logged on my FitBit because it syncs with my Weight Watchers app and earns me extra Fit Points that can be used like Smart Points.

The beauty of the system is that I honestly don’t feel like I have been denied anything.  I’ve eaten mys share of sweets over the past year… they’ve just been balanced out with loads of fruits and veggies (0 Smart Points) and healthy cooked main meals.  Weight Watchers publishes a magazine and cookbooks throughout the year.

Most of the recipes that I have tried from these have been a huge success with my family with the girls begging me to cook some of them over and over again.

I haven’t attended a single Weight Watchers meeting, instead I chose the online membership route.  The catalyst that really got me motivated and opened my eyes to yummy treats like Halo Top Ice Cream is their social media platform Connect that is integrated into the Weight Watchers app.  Connect is filled with encouraging people, success stories, and endless motivation.

I’ve purposely taken time off from Weight Watchers while we were in China and during our Disney Cruise but it didn’t mean I wasn’t mindful of the food choices that I made.  My go to meals for dining out are grilled fish and vegetables.  I generally skip the salads and rolls because the dressing and wheat does nothing but eat up points that I would much rather use on something fun like dessert or an extra cup of coffee with creamer.

I’m the final five pounds away from my weight loss goal and I’m here to tell you that these five will be the hardest I have to lose.  Sometimes it’s not easy staying focused… especially now that I’m feeling confident in my body and loving how my clothes fit. I’m not giving up though and I don’t plan to stop using Weight Watchers once I hit my goal.  Budgeting my food is the way to go for me.  For years I have managed our grocery, clothing, and various other budgets for our household.  I understand and love the concept of using only what you have enough for and saving for something special.  Basically Weight Watchers speaks a language that I understand.  It may not be for everyone but I love it!

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Kneading More Bread

4-tips-for-baking-breadThe other week I posted a picture of fresh sourdough bread that I had made. My friend asked for some tips and recipes so I thought it would make a good topic for a blog post.

It all started with biscuits early this summer.  I’m not sure what prompted me to make biscuits one morning but knowing me we were probably low on everything else that would have been acceptable to eat at breakfast time and after flipping through a cookbook I realized I had enough ingredients to make some biscuits… from scratch.

bread-03

The recipe said Fast… which is totally not true the first time around but after almost three months of cooking biscuits for breakfast it has definitely turned into a fast recipe.  The Baking Powder Biscuits from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook Bridal Edition require about 10 minutes of prep and 12 minutes baking.  I make it even quicker because I add more milk to my batter which allows me to skip the rolling and biscuit cutting step. I just spoon the batter onto the baking sheet for easy drop biscuits.

One batch yields 12 biscuits lasting us three days.  Each morning I fry eggs to go with the biscuit and make an extra egg to place in the refrigerator for ML to eat the next morning. He leaves too early for me to fix him fresh eggs each morning so this is as close as he gets.

When I blogged about my summer reading a couple months ago I mentioned falling head over heals in love with Lauraine Snelling‘s books.  Seventeen books in and I am almost through with the Red River Books  These books are set in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s on the Dakota Plains.   A time when farming was the way of life and baking fresh bread every day was the norm.  Well, I fell so in love with the characters and got so wrapped up in their way of doing things that I decided to try my hand at making Traditional White Bread from the same Betty Crocker Cookbook.  I don’t consider myself an expert at bread making by any  means but I do have a few tips to share.

bread-01

Kneading is key.

To avoid super thick and hard to chew bread KNEAD.  Knead that bread like you are mad at.  Knead the entire time the recipe recommends. It really is a good workout!  I put so much force into kneading my bread that my Fitbit actually counts it as steps and I don’t mind at all because it really is an arm workout.

My first loaf of bread wasn’t as soft as I was expecting but after a few tries I learned that the secret to soft bread is in the hands.

Start your bread early in the morning.

There’s a reason why in Lauraine Snelling’s books the women start the bread first thing in the morning… it’s because it takes a good portion of the morning to prepare and bake the bread.  This isn’t some toss it in a bowl and forget about it recipe.  While there are definitely times the bread is just “sitting” there you will discover much of your morning is spent working on the bread.  For me I find time for all that kneading between teaching different subjects in school to the girls.

Give it more than one try.

If your first loaf could easily place in a #pinterestfail competition don’t give up.  Don’t.  Give it another try. Reevaluate and take note of where you could improve. Maybe it needs less flour, more kneading, or longer to bake. Think of it as a science experiment and you are the scientist.

Store Tight

This isn’t your store bought bread that’s made to sit on a shelf for weeks at time.  This is fresh, simple ingredient bread so don’t expect it to last more than a week.  Store your bread tightly wrapped in cellophane in a cool, dark place.

My girls have fallen head over heels in love with fresh bread.  They love a slice for lunch with a little fruit and cheese on the side, a slice for breakfast with a banana, and a slice for supper to help sop up the leftover spaghetti sauce.

bread-02Esther claims that its the best bread.  I enjoy it too but most of all I enjoy the smell of it baking in our home and the feeling of accomplishment when I take the loaves out of the oven.

Much of the food we buy in the stores these days contains chemical after chemical and I just don’t have the time to research it all. Thankfully, there are sites like Positive Health Wellness who provide a variety of resources for people who are enthusiastic and passionate about being positive and healthy. Michael Luke and I believe there is a strong correlation between diet and health.  We believe it because we have seen radical changes in our own lives and in the lives of our children by gradually changing our diet over time.  I don’t know much but I do know that for centuries people have baked fresh bread from simple ingredients.  For a short while in the span of history bread has been mass-produced and traditional recipes have been altered to keep production easy and efficient and prices low.  During this time we have also seen a huge increase in gluten intolerance and a host of other gut issues.  I can’t fix everything from scratch for my family but I can at least bake them fresh bread.

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Frozen at Five

Earlier this month we had a big celebration … Esther turned FIVE.  Like most little girls she had been counting down to this special day for months.  So much so that we had put a ban on talking about her birthday until after Christmas.

As a child there aren’t many times that you get to make BIG decisions but choosing your birthday party theme is one of them.  For a while she was leaning towards a Barbie party.  Michael Luke and I were almost positive her choice would have been Frozen.  Sure enough though with a few weeks to go before the big day she decided her party should definitely be Frozen.  I had to pull my mom card at that point to make sure this was our final theme.

After searching around town for party decor it appears we may be riding the Frozen birthday party train out of town.  Decorations were few and far between but I found some good stuff and had fun transforming our dining room into her Frozen fantasy land.

Frozen Birthday PartyEsther and I found the Frozen streamers on sale at Target.  Back in December I had an inkling that she would choose Frozen for her party theme so I went ahead and bought these Elsa and Anna plates and napkins.  Frozen Birthday PartyFor the backdrop I considered drawing a scene from the movie like I did with Noah’s Belle birthday party but I really didn’t feel like I could execute a good ice castle. Instead I bought a couple of table cloths from Dollar Tree to hang from the ceiling.
Frozen Birthday PartyI couldn’t find any Frozen cupcake toppers…except on Etsy and  I didn’t have enough time for those to arrive. Etsy has lots of cute party supplies though. Maybe I can plan ahead more for Noah’s party this fall and order some decor from Etsy.

I got creative though and bought an Elsa figurine doll for the cupcake topper.  I stuck the bottom of her feet into one of Chloe Coscarelli’s chocolate cupcakes and then piped the icing around it to make the skirt of her dress.

The most exciting part about the day for Esther was getting to wear her Elsa dress.
Frozen Birthday PartyThe week before you would have thought we were shopping for a prom dress.  She absolutely loved going to the mall and picking out her dress. I don’t know what it is but when Noah and Esther pass a window display or rack full of formal dresses they immediately stop and gawk.  I’m afraid it gave me a glimpse into the future!Frozen Birthday PartyNoah was more than happy to play the part of Anna for the party.  I honestly don’t understand all the fascination with Elsa. Sure she gets an ice castle but in the end she’s the one that is single.  I guess you could say I’m a part of #teamanna.

We added cute little Frozen touches all around the dining room and living room like this Olaf tablecloth and Olaf doll for the gift table. .Frozen Birthday Party Frozen Birthday PartyCookies were adorned with Frozen blue sprinkles and flavored with Citrus Fresh essential oil. Flavoring the dough reminded me of my grandmother because she always flavors her cookie dough.
Frozen Birthday PartyEveryone had such a fun time eating multiple courses at Noah’s birthday party that we decided to do the same thing for Esther’s party.  Between each course the kids would dance and singalong to Frozen songs.

We served hot chocolate with melted snowmen (marshmallows).  Frozen Birthday PartyI laugh thinking back to this part of the party because I set a bowl of marshmallows out so that the kids could grab a few to add to their hot chocolate. Many felt like the ratio should be around 50 marshmallows to half a cup of hot chocolate.  They ended up needing spoons to finish their drinks!
Frozen Birthday PartyAfter singing along to Love Is An Open Door where Hans and Anna realize they are perfect for each other because they “finish each other’s sandwiches” we served ham and cheese sandwiches.Frozen Birthday PartyWe also had Frozen Pops. While these may not be the best looking chocolate covered Oreos they were made with love and PAIN.  Let me just say melted chocolate is HOT and BURNS. I’m talking burns so much you need the lavender afterwards to soothe the skin.  It was hard to dip those things and I couldn’t get the chocolate at the right consistency so I got the best that I could under the circumstances.  Oh, and if you want to recreate this make sure you buy the double stuffed Oreos because the stick does not fit in a regular Oreo.
Frozen Birthday PartyParties are fun but dressing up as your favorite princess for parties is even more fun!  We had a few Elsas grace our presence that day.  Esther asks me occasionally if I used to play dress up when I was little.  I really don’t remember having dress up clothes besides cheap dance recital outfits.  Do you remember having dress up clothes when you were little?

Frozen Birthday PartyEsther’s party was so much fun and I’m thankful for our sweet family picture that we captured before the fun begin.

Frozen Birthday PartyI’m not sure when children grow out of themed birthday parties but for now we are having fun planning one each year!

Oh, and that’s another thing… I don’t remember having decked out themed birthday parties either.  They were loads of fun but I think this whole “theme” thing is somewhat new.  At the most I remember having Big Bird cupcakes one year with a mountain of icing on top and an Easter Egg Hunt party another year because my birthday fell on Easter. What do you remember about your childhood birthday parties?

 

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