Little Mama On The Prairie

A life and weight-loss journey.

Keeping it simple

Hey! I know, its been a while again. Glad to say I’m mostly over whatever that was, still waiting for the sinuses to fully clear up but that may never happen given my history for sinus related stuff. I also re-lost whatever weight that was hanging around on the weekend.

So I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how the different fads seem to take over the weight-loss and health worlds. About 15 years ago it was all about Atkins and cutting all carbs from your diet because carbs make you fat. So you could eat a dozen eggs and a pound of bacon for breakfast but don’t dare go anywhere near that banana loaded with sugary carbs. Makes a whole heap ‘o sense, right?

These days, it seems to be all about going gluten-free. I have not yet had the desire to join that bandwagon. What is it about cutting out whole food groups that makes people think they are going to magically lose weight and keep it off long term? Only about 1 in 100 people have true celiac disease where they literally become sick and in pain from eating gluten and need to remove it from their diet. Most of the rest of us aren’t fat because we eat gluten. We’re just fat because we eat TOO MUCH gluten! We’re not fat because we eat sugar. We’re fat because we eat TOO MUCH sugar. We’re not fat because we eat carbohydrates, we’re fat because we eat TOO MUCH carbohydrates! Besides, many “gluten-free” products are loaded with extra calories and sugars to make up for the taste and texture difference of “the real deal.” Gluten-free, Carb-free, Calorie-free…none of those necessarily mean HEALTHIER.

Since working on losing weight, I have cut back on a whole lot of foods, but I can’t say I have totally eliminated them. I will steal an occasional chip when my hubby is snacking at night. Two weekends ago we went on a date and I budgeted my points to allow me to enjoy popcorn at the movie and pizza afterwards. In my personal experience, cutting out an entire food group, or depriving yourself completely of foods you really enjoy is setting yourself up for failure.

So before you consider hoisting yourself up on the next fad-wagon, maybe try simply cutting back on the sugars, glutens etc vs. eliminating them. That along with a healthy dose of exercise and you just might be surprised at the results.

You know, I would LOVE to see my weight loss tracker moving faster, I do want this weight gone. But at the same time, I know going at the slow and steady rate that I am, doing what I am doing is preparing me to eat and exercise like this for a lifetime. What I am doing is something that I can keep on doing and not feel like a failure when I give in to the occasional pizza or cookie.

 

WEIGHT-LOSS TIP OF THE DAY

When deciding whether to buy certain products, remember that a small amount of a “natural” product is usually healthier than any, especially a large, amount of a manufactured product. Example: Butter vs. Margarine. Sugar vs. Artificial Sweeteners.

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Baked Eggs!

When I fall in love with something, I usually fall hard and fast. Just ask my husband. A while ago, I fell in love with baked eggs. This week, I fell in love with them all over again. Don’t worry whipped oatmeal, I’m still in love with you too.  So I am going to do a bit of a recipe post for you today and share the few forms of baked eggs with you that I know, and maybe you can comment back with some ideas of other varieties!

First off, I have tried both baking at a lower temperature and broiling. At the moment, I am preferring broiling since I’ve had more success at getting the whites cooked but keeping the yolks runny this way. And I like runny yolks.

I first tried Italian baked eggs from the Weight Watcher’s website. The recipe is simply to place about 1/2 cup of pasta sauce (use a “light” version if you can) in the bottom of a small oven-proof dish. Make 2 wells in the sauce and crack an egg into each, or just one well and one egg if you don’t want two. You can keep the same amount of sauce though. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and 1-2 Tbsp of grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until the whites are almost set. They will continue cooking after you remove it from the oven. You can also add fresh herbs to the sauce before adding the eggs like basil or oregano. Basil is really nice.

Next, I tried a more southwestern baked eggs variety, substituting salsa for the pasta sauce and topping with a light sprinkling of cheddar cheese. I have tried with both baking and broiling and I preferred the broiled ones over baked. To broil, place your salsa in the bottom of the baking dish, place under the broiler for just a minute or 2 to heat it up. Crack the eggs into a bowl then gently pour over the salsa, careful not to break the yolks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cheese. Broil 5-6 minutes until the whites are almost set and remove from oven.

Mexican Baked Eggs in the cutest mini cast iron skillet you've ever seen.

Mexican Baked Eggs in the cutest mini cast iron skillet you’ve ever seen.

 

On the same note as Mexican/Southwestern baked eggs, I decided to it using leftover chili one morning and that was super yummy. There was only about 1/2 cup of chili leftover anyway, not really enough for any of us to enjoy as a meal so it was perfect to use with the eggs. Just use the same steps as with salsa.

The latest version of baked eggs I’ve tried is Herbed Baked Eggs. First, in a small bowl, combine 1-2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese, 1 small clove of garlic, minced; Chopped herbs of choice (I used rosemary and loved it). Place 1 and  a 1/2 tsp of cream + 1 tsp butter in the bottom of your baking dish. Place under the broiler just until bubbly. Swirl around to combine. Crack your eggs carefully into a bowl and gently pour over cream/butter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cheese mixture. Broil for about 5-6 minutes, until the whites are almost set and remove from oven.

Herbed Baked Eggs.

Herbed Baked Eggs.

So try some baked eggs today! Come up with new varieties and share with all of us so we can enjoy your creativity too.

 

*WEIGHT-LOSS TIP OF THE DAY*

EAT BREAKFAST! It is a well-known fact that people who skip breakfast gain more weight than those who eat a healthy breakfast. Fill up on protein and/or whole grains and watch your morning go by without hunger pangs or major temptation for every donut that walks past. For myself, I know if I have a hearty, healthy breakfast, I can make better food choices all day long.

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Two things I MUST share…

OK, so I have discovered (and fallen in love with) two recipes that I just have to share with you. One I discovered online, the other was shared with me after my Red Velvet Mug Cake confession.

So first, how about a 2-point version of mug cake as compared to the 22 I consumed a couple of weeks ago? Yes please! A friend shared this recipe with me over on Facebook and it is quite good. I have to admit, its not quite as rich and decadent as the Red Velvet I made but its definitely a worthy substitute and much easier on the waistline. You simply mix 1 box of Angel Food Cake mix with 1 box of any other cake flavour mix (I used chocolate fudge) and store the combined mixes in a ziploc bag or airtight container. Whenever you’re in the mood for some cake, place 3 Tbsp mix + 2 Tbsp water (or coffee like I did) in a coffee mug, microwave for 1 minute and you have cake! Top with some frozen yogurt or fat free cool whip and you’ve got yourself a treat. I made this last night for my family as well as my sister-in-law and her girls and everyone loved it. I dropped a few chocolate chips in the kids cakes. And some of my leftover homemade truffles from Christmas in the adult ones. I’ve also heard you can drop a few Tbsp of pre-made pudding on the top, don’t stir, microwave as directed and it will turn into a lava cake. I love recipes like this.

The other recipe I discovered is Whipped Oatmeal, which I found over at Can You Stay for Dinner?  I thought I was in love with oatmeal before! Fluffy, creamy and packed with protein without a ton of fat, this stuff was sooo good. Add the banana and peanut butter I mentioned previously and its just this luxurious bowl of steaming comfort first thing in the morning. Oh my grits and gravy.

Speaking of grits and gravy…I could really go for some Cracker Barrel right about now…good thing they’re all thousands of miles away.

oatmeal-19

*WEIGHT LOSS TIP OF THE DAY*

It’s usually not too hard to lighten up your favourite recipes with a few tips and tricks. Using less fat to cook, switching to lower fat versions of items, adding higher fibre ingredients in exchange for low fibre. Bulking a recipe up with chopped or grated veggies. Take a look at how you usually prepare certain foods and figure out ways you can lighten it up. Or, send me your original recipe and I’ll send you a lightened version that I promise will be equally as tasty, if not better.

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Visualizing the fat…

I have no idea why, but when I visualize the weight I lose, I visualize in pounds of butter.

Butter

When I think of losing 1 lb., it seems so small. Just one measly pound. BUT if I visualize a block of butter missing from my hip, somehow, the pound seems so much more significant. Now when I think of a pile of 100 blocks of butter…well, I wonder how I ever fit that many under my skin! I think once I’ve lost 100, I will buy 100 lb. of butter and take an interesting picture…or maybe I should just take my camera to the grocery store and not buy 100 lb. of butter.

On the topic of butter, by the way, I DO use butter, not margarine. Margarine is a [disgusting, tasteless] man-made, one-molecule-away-from-being-plastic fat, butter is a natural fat. I’m all for natural. 🙂

On a completely different note, I am totally on an oatmeal kick these days. Who knew you could make oatmeal in so many different ways? I was actually staying away from oatmeal for a while because I thought the only way I liked it was loaded up with brown sugar and milk. My latest addiction? Rolled oats cooked the old fashioned way on the stove-top (did you know instant oatmeal, even plain, is loaded with sodium?), stir in 1/2 a mashed banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter and a bit of milk. Slice the other half of the banana on top. Mmmm, and so filling its ridiculous. I’ve seen ideas for carrot cake oatmeal floating around…I just might try that next.

I’ll be back tomorrow morning with the week’s results!

 

*WEIGHT LOSS TIP OF THE DAY*

Try oatmeal! It’s good for your heart, cholesterol, that sort of thing and keeps you feeling full and satisfied.

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Best “diet” foods…

We got quite the dumping of snow yesterday so I guess I’ll switch up my workout routine for the day and do a little shovelling instead.  I cannot believe the amount of snow we have this year. There are some areas of our yard that are close to chest deep on me. I know, I’m only 5′ tall so maybe that’s not really so deep but still, its plenty deep enough! I have a feeling this is going to be a wet, wet, spring in Saskatchewan.

Back to the topic. I don’t like a lot of “diet” foods but there are certain things I like to keep on hand that help me stay on track. One of my favourites being Silver Hills sprouted grain breads. These flour-less loaves are full of fibre and good stuff. They make one variety called “Little Big Bread” , which is a low-calorie, only 1-point-per-slice bread that is super tasty. Sooo much better than the sandy yucky diet breads you can get out there, sorry Weight Watchers, your bread doesn’t even come close. I love to eat it as toast, sandwiches, toasted sandwiches… I eat a lot of sandwiches actually, you can put a lot on a sandwich for minimal points. The Big 16 is my other favourite, it’s 2 points per slice but they are big, hearty slices. I buy Silver Hills breads at Costco in Saskatoon – the same price for 2 loaves as a single loaf costs at Safeway.

On the subject of whole grains, I also like to use whole grain pastas and rice. However, not all brands are created equal. Some whole grain varieties of pasta are just gross. My favourite is President’s Choice Blue Menu for pasta. I enjoy brown basmati rice, no particular brand, it can be a little harder to find in smaller grocery stores. My kids eat the whole wheat pasta and have never once noticed that its not white.

I also love fat-free yogurt that is still sweetened with sugar. I’m sorry, but I just can’t stomach artificial sweeteners. Up until recently I enjoyed Activia Fat-Free yogurt…but then they went all gross and switched to artificial sweeteners. Yucky, yuck, yuck, yuck. Now I have to go to a separate grocery store than usual just to pick up yogurt because my regular store carries a limited variety of yogurt, either full of fat and sugar, or no fat and no sugar. Nothing in between. Thankfully Yoplait Yoptimal still comes in a fat-free, sugared variety and is pretty good. I also noticed Safeway carried a generic brand and some organic brands that were fat-free and not artificially sweetened.

Skinny Cow. Need I say more? During strawberry season last year, I loved putting a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich in a bowl and topping it with freshly picked, sliced strawberries. Felt so indulgent and was so guilt-free.

 

Blog Food Pic

* WEIGHT LOSS TIP OF THE DAY*

Next time you’re at the grocery store, take time to browse products and find some guilt-free indulgences you can bring home with you to help you stay on track. Or even just switch from white bread, rice and pasta to whole grain, the added fibre helps keep you fuller longer, even when you eat less of it.

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My relationship with food…

I survived another weekend and made sure to carefully track my food. There were a few indulgences, seeing as we were invited to dine with friends of ours who always make fantastic meals, but I made sure to record each bite and I know right where I stand this sunny Monday morning.

I love food. I love GOOD food. Food has played a pretty major role in my life. I grew up as the youngest in a family of 10 children, our kitchen table was huge, we cooked in really big pots and had an enormous water pitcher on the table for meal times. I can remember feeling like I had to hurry and eat my plateful if I wanted any chance at seconds, with 4 older brothers at the table too. My sisters taught me to cook and bake at quite a young age. I can remember going to friend’s house when I was 8 or 9, we were bored so I suggested we bake cookies. I was shocked beyond belief when she told me she wasn’t allowed to use the oven. Even at that age, I couldn’t imagine not having freedom in the kitchen.

We entertained a lot in our home as I grew up. The meal and dessert were always a big part of the hospitality my parent’s showed and taught us to show. The week was often spent planning what desserts to prepare for Sunday “Faspa,” a meal consisting of homemade bread, cheeses, meats, pickles, jams, and of course, desserts. Everything was always delicious. The females in my family took great pride in preparing meals that would be raved over. I am sure I have heard more than once in my life, “Those Klassen girls sure know how to cook!”

By the time I came along, my mom was mostly retired from the kitchen. I had 5 older sisters who could do the job for her and she had already had many years in the kitchen as the oldest daughter in a large family herself. But there were some things that nobody could make like Mom did. Homemade “verenikje” (cottage cheese filled perogies), homemade noodles for chicken noodle soup, bread, among others.

I also had the neat experience of growing up in a home with the influence of 2 ethnic backgrounds. My parents were descendants of Mennonites who had come to Canada from Prussia I believe, or somewhere near that corner of the world, but both sets of my grandparents moved and lived in Mexico for many years where both of my parents were born. So we had both the influence of the Mennonites; the verenikje and borscht, as well the influence of the Mexicans with the beans and tortillas. There was never an end to good food in my house growing up.

What has turned me off from “dieting” in the past is the emphasis on eating low-fat, low calorie (artificial sweeteners = blech)  or other such foods that just do not have the taste to appeal to me. I cannot go long term eating “diet” foods and stay in a positive mindset. I have to enjoy my food. It has to taste good. Someone on a diet once said something to me along the lines of, “it really doesn’t matter what food tastes like, just eat what’s good for you.” I never could wrap my head around that one. It matters 100% what food tastes like! There is almost no point to eating at all if you don’t enjoy it. I mean, other than keeping you alive. I’m pretty sure God didn’t make us with those senses if we weren’t to enjoy the food we put in our mouths.

What I have discovered over time is that good food CAN be both healthy and taste good! Learning to cook with fresh vegetables and fruit and preparing meat without frying are 2 key elements that have changed my eating style. I tend to stay away from foods and drinks that have been artificially sweetened, over-processed and when it comes to dairy I compromise and use the reduced fat variety, not low/no-fat, I just can’t bring myself that far. I even grind my own locally grown wheat to make bread. Yes, you can roll your eyes at me. When it comes to the diet version of food and drinks, I would far rather have a tiny portion of the real deal and enjoy it than to have a huge portion and wonder, “what am I eating this crap for?”

So I wonder, what is your relationship to food? Do you eat to live? Live to eat? Somewhere in between?

Most of the family at our wedding in 2008. We’re a food-loving bunch.

*WEIGHT LOSS TIP OF THE DAY*

Fill your fridge and fruit bowl with fresh produce. When I have lots of fruits and vegetables on hand, I am far more likely to snack on them than junk food. An apple or banana with some peanut butter makes a perfect snack.

 

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