Thursday, July 30, 2015

Zucchini Crust Pizza

It's very exciting to watch my daughter, who does not like anything green to go in her mouth, eat a pizza made of zucchini and actually enjoy it! She even said, get this, that the next time it is pizza night she would not mind eating this kind pizza.

This is really good.  I would so have this again.  

Zucchini Crust Pizza

1 medium to large zucchini shredded
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup cheese, shredded
1 egg
1 cup panko crumbs
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400F. Place a baking stone on bottom shelf of oven.

Shred zucchini on a box grater. Place in bowl and toss with the salt.

Let the zucchini sit for 15 minutes.  Rinse. Squeeze out the excess water.

In a bowl mix egg, cheese and panko crumbs.  Add in salt and pepper to taste.  Also add in garlic powder.

Smooth out into a round and press flat on parchment paper. Transfer the pizza to the baking stone.

Bake for 20 minutes or more. You want it to be golden around the edges.  If you didn't get much of the excess water taken it out, it will take a lot longer.

Smooth tomato sauce on the crust and then sprinkle with cheese.

Return to oven and bake until the cheese is melted.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

My husband and I, well, really, our kids too, have been learning a lot through three movies.  Watching these movies- "Fed Up", "Hungry For Change" and "Forks Over Knives" has been pivotal for our health.  Some of it we knew.  Some of it we thought to ourselves after we heard it- "duh, of course, that makes total sense" and some of it was shocking.  Like, did you know that MSG makes fat cells.  That is how they fatten up rats.

     "MSG stimulates your pancreas to output three times as much insulin as it     does normally. This unnatural amount of insulin converts the sugar in your blood into fat very efficiently; and to make things worse, that excess insulin sends your blood sugar levels crashing down so low that you get hungry all over again—much sooner than you should be." (The Gabriel Method)

Here is a link for the many names of MSG. The blog is called Fooducate.

I am astounded by all this new information.

I know some of you are saying, I am just a "crunchy girl" and I may be over the top.  But, I pretty much guarantee if you watched these three movies you would have some epiphanies yourself.

The MSG alone could explain why so many people are overweight in our country.  This is why they keep saying over and over again, if you want to lose weight- stop eating processed food.  And processed food means diet soda.  YES, DIET SODA IS VERY BAD FOR YOU! It kills brain cells.  Pilots are not allowed to eat artificial sweeteners.  Did you hear that, it kills brain cells and makes you less alert.

Okay, I will stop.  WATCH those movies.  If you or someone in your life is overweight or unhealthy- bad numbers from your labs- then do yourself a favor.  Watch these movies!

So, make your own food.  Eat whole foods.  In the wise words of Michael Pollan, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants."

This recipe is good for a quick morning breakfast.  One of these bars is very satisfying.  This is the second time I made it.  That tells you I like it.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Squares

2 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups milk
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 375F.  Spray an 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray or grease with butter.

Mix wet ingredients separately from dry ingredients.  Combine the two and then pour into the prepared pan.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

5:2 Scape, Broccoli, Carrot Stir Fry

Obviously, you can toss any vegetables into this combo.  Stir fry is really my go to meal a lot of time. If you managed to reserve a good portion of your calories, you can even have it with some quinoa.  A little quinoa mind you because those carbohydrate calories add up REAL fast. But quinoa is worth it because it can fill your belly and has some much, nutritionally, going on.

All of the 5:2 recipes I am posting I try to get it at under 200 calories.  Obviously if you have a lotted yourself  more calories you can up the vegetables or up the fat or add in some quinoa.  Cooked quinoa is a 110 calories for a 1/2 cup. Or you can add in some peanuts- 160 for a quarter cup.

Scape, Broccoli, Carrot Stir Fry

1 teaspoon sesame oil (40)
1 cup broccoli (31)
1 cup carrots (45)
1 cup celery (16)
1/4 cup chopped scapes (50)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee- 9)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Heat a wok or a large frying pan.  Once it is hot add in sesame oil and vegetables.  Keep flame at about medium high.  Keep stirring so that it does not scorch.  Some browning is good because it beings out the natural sweetness of the vegetables.  Once they are crisp tender add in garlic, soy sauce and oyster sauce.

Total calorie count: 191.

Friday, July 24, 2015

5:2 Pepper, Radish, Avocado Toss

Doing the 5:2 - it's just finding the right ideas on how to deliciously fill your belly with goodness that is under 200 calories.  Using vegetables is really key to get the most bang for your caloric buck!  You find stuff to make and then forget about it, which is why I am making a 5:2 category so I can go back and remember delicious and nutritious ways to eat my calories. Plus you can get stuck in a rut of eating the same types of things because you know they are fine.  Its so much better to get some variety in there.  Keeps your interest!

Pepper Radish Avocado Toss
Calorie counts on the side in parentheses.

1 tablespoon flavored vinegar (I used the coconut balsamic for this one) (30)
1/2 cup radishes (9)
3/4 cup orange pepper (25)
1/4 cup (36 grams) avocado diced (57)
1/4 cup garbanzo beans (50)
fresh cracked pepper
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
cilantro would be a great addition to this

Mix all together.  If you can let it marinade for a little while- even better.

Total calorie value: 171

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Things are continuing with my 5:2 diet.  This is what part of my meal was last night and tonite.  I liked it that much.  My husband said the salad tasted like something out of a gourmet restaurant.
Isn't summer great for healthy eating?  There is so much available and it is so fresh and delicious.
Three egg whites and the ribbon salad clock in at about 130 calories.  Can't beat it!

Buy a really nice feta for this salad.  It really relies on the flavor of some good feta. If you are doing the 5:2 then you can spend a little more on it because you are eating way less otherwise. Right?

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

zucchini sliced with a peeler into ribbons
lemon juice freshly squeezed- half of a lemon for two plates of salad
dill, a couple sprigs per plate
garlic powder, just a little bit
basil 1 or 2 leaves sliced thinly for each plate
fresh craked pepper
kosher salt
feta (1 ounce per plate)

Toss the zucchini in a bowl with the kosher salt.  Let stand fifteen minutes.  This will help the zucchini release some of its juice.  Gently squeeze the zucchini and mix in the remainder of the ingredients.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Beef Pho

We had the good fortune of meeting a farmer that raises steer for slaughter.  She is a very knowledgeable person who is very conscientious about her cows. A friend and I decided to go half and half on a cow.  Not sure what the correct word should be here- cow or steer.  Anyway. With all those nice soup bones. I grabbed a few, including a knuckle bone which is especially good for good wholesome bone broth.  I simmered them away.  I simmered them away in the crock pot for 16 hours.  I read that it can be simmered away for 48 hours.  Don't know if that is completely necessary.  I think I need to do a bit more research on that one.
There it is in the crock pot with all of its Pho seasonings.  I have star anice, cinnamon, fish sauce, ginger, cardamom, cloves.... The smell was intoxicating.  It really smelled like that Pho restaurant my husband and I went to  a few weeks ago.
I thought it was delicious.  I used it with some other veggies and such for a lunch during my fasting day as well.  Very nourishing.


For the stock:
2 onions, halved4" nub of ginger, halved lengthwise5-6 pounds of good beef bones, preferably leg and knuckle
water to cover the bones and onions by about an inch1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
5 whole star anise
1 cardamom pod
6 whole cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt 2 tablespoons fish sauce (can add more later to taste)
1 inch chunk of yellow rock sugar (about 1 oz) - or 1oz of regular sugar

Pho Accompaniments
rice noodles (dried or fresh)Cooked beef thinly sliced ( cuts such as flank, London broil, sirloin or eye of round)big handful of each: mint, cilantro, basil2 limes, cut into wedges2-3 chili peppers, slicedfresh bean sproutsHoisin sauceSriracha hot sauce

Cook bones and all the ingredients listed under the stock above.  Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for an entire day. Or you can put it all in a crock pot and let it simmer away for 16 hours or more.

Once stock is done you can serve it heated in bowls.  Guests or family can addin noodles and other accompaniments as desired.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

5:2 Diet and Me

Have you ever heard of the 5:2 Diet?  Most of you probably have not.  If you live in the UK, you probably have heard of it.  Its really taken off their.

Before your withers go up, "like, another diet' really!?!?!".  I sure understand that but listen to the video.  You can find it by looking for Michael Mosley and the 5:2 Diet

The science behind the diet is incredible.  I am going to stop right here and say it is not a diet for me. I have adopted it as a way of life.  I can't begin to tell you the profound freeing experience it has had on me and my psyche.

I am going to get real with you here.  This is my story.  I have been fat since second grade.  I have also been very active my whole life.  It is hard for me to sit.  I have to go - go- go.  Mind you since I am pretty heavy right now, it limits me.  But not that much.  I bike, I walk, I do aerobics, I love Zumba... The list goes on.  There is not a friend or family member around that will tell you that I am lazy. 

Speaking of my family.  And my family life.  Growing up they were all thin.  They didn't do soccer, track and field or basketball like me.  Yes, they moved around a lot.  But they were able to eat more than me and still be thin.  We ate good in our household.  By good, I don't mean junk food.  I mean lots of fruit and vegetables.  My Mother never scrimped on them.  I grew up canning with her and picking them. We had a huge garden.  We frequented the public market often. I knew vegetables inside and out.  My Mother did not use processed stuff at all.

How did I become so fat?  I have no idea.  But I bet Dr. Mosley might have an idea why.  He would probably call it Metabolic Disorder.

I have tried every diet under the sun.  Read nearly every psychological book on how to stop overeating.  I have gone to Overeaters Anonymous, Weight Watchers. Listened to countless podcasts on how to lose weight. Worked with a personal trainer. Nothing has worked.

In February, I really started in earnest (again), counting calories.  About 1500 per day. I was exercising about 5 days a week.  The weight wasn't moving.  It just wasn't moving.  I would lose a couple pounds and it would go right back on.  Because of my age, I thought this was a major factor. Ironically I got the stomach bug in that time and normally you lost a few pounds when that happens.  I gained it.  I freaking gained four pounds.  I have been beyond discouraged but I kept trudging on.  I was pretty determined this time.  I cut my calories back to 1250 and that helped a little but it was a lot of restriction and a whole lot of hungry.

I had gone to the doctors regarding some issues with my hands.  She ordered some lab work.  Since I had not eaten yet that day I fugred I would just get it over with right away.  My labs came back as cholesterol 244 - but my good cholesterol is pretty high.  She feels that kind of balances things out. My diabetes markers- indicated I was prediabetic. At least one of my numbers indicated that.  It really was no surprise.  I had given up most sugar some time ago in this effort to lose weight and felt significantly better.  I also have mostly given up white flour because it seems to have a gluten allergy type affect with me.  So I had really pretty much eliminated them.  Yes, I go back in six months to get labs.  If things don't change she want to put me on meds possibly.

At that time my husband had found Dr. Mosely's documentary online.  He showed it to me.  I had gone on it the next day from my doctor visit.  Even before I knew my labs.  The first two days were a fail.  I ate about 900 calories the first day and 1000 the next day.  But I kept on.  I figured it was my trial run.  The next week I did it!  I stayed on 500 calories for two days totally successfully. I ate lots of vegetables and lean meats.  Like egg whites.  I have been following it since.

The other five days you eat 2000 calores. I have to say for the most part I get to about 1600.  I just don't eat that much because I dont eat that much starch.  At least the white flour variety.  A few days in there though- there was parties and I ate about 2000 calores.  Snacky, crappy food.  Even with that I lost.

That is unheard of for me. I can't eat ice cream or cake and get away with it.  Never!

Now, don't go off thinking that you can eat crap for those five days.  That kind of defeats the purpose now doesn't it?

When I started this journey- about three weeks ago I weighed 302.  My heaviest has been 325.  I have mainly stayed in the 295 to 310 range for the past 12 years.  Obviously I have done a pretty good job of maintaining and albeit grotesquely huge size, I have not gained.  I credit that in large part to the exercise I do.  And really, my blood pressure has been good all this time. 

What have I learned in these weeks since June 21st?  I have learned, from my fast days, that I am not really that hungry eating 500 calories a day.  It mostly has been pretty easy for me.  At meal time I need something don't get me wrong but 100 to 200 calories does it for me.  I am totally able to abstain on those days.  I have learned that most of my food cravings are mental.  I carry that over to my eating days.  I have learned that I obsess about food less. Doing without really helps get you in touch. 

This really has been a freeing experience for me.  I feel like I actually can do it.  That I have the tools for success.  That weight loss is in my reach.  I can't even begin to tell you how excited I feel.  I want to shout it to the world.  To share my good feelings.  But everyones journey is their own.  So I am quiet about it.  But if anyone asks me- as they begin to notice my loss...  Honey! I will be right there telling them and sharing my enthusiasm. 

Thank you so much to Dr. Mosley and my husband for finding that video.

My 5:2 Pinterest Link.
Me and my friend.  I am over twice her size.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Squash Boats

Now for those Squash Boats .  I must say they were equally amazing alongside the salmon. I would make these again in a heartbeat.  I loved it!

Squash Boats  

3 zucchinis
2 tablespoons olive oil
lemon dill hummus
roasted tomatoes or sundried tomatoes, soaked if you are using the dried kind
pine nuts (opt)

Preheat grill to medium.

Trim ends of zucchini, split in half length wise and scoop out flesh (use for something else).

Brush with basting oil, flesh side down for about 5 minutes.

Spread about 2 tablespoons of hummus on zucchini.  Top with dribs and drabs of pesto, feta and roasted tomatoes.  If you like sprinkle pine nuts over top.  If they are toasted already sprinkle on when serving.

Grill uncovered for about ten minutes.
Preheat grill to MED

3 (about 20 oz total)  zucchini or yellow squash
2 Tbsp  Food You Feel Good About Basting Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 container (8 oz)  Food You Feel Good About Lemon Dill Hummus
Wegmans Traditional Crumbled Feta Cheese, to taste
Italian Classics Basil Pesto Sauce, to taste
Roasted red tomatoes, to taste (Mediterranean Bar - See more at:
My friend finished them in her oven as the grill was full of salmon.
I made them at my house yesterday.  I did not have feta- I substituted with some cheddar mix. It was my dinner.  It was good- but feta is betta.

Yes, I took my toaster oven outside.  It was hot.  I hate baking when it is hot- it's counterproductive.  I did not feel like firing up the grill either.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Salmon With Maple Rub On Cedar Plank

What a beautiful table!
My friend had us over for dinner.  It was so wonderfully pleasing to eat.  Every mouthful was packed full of flavor and goodness.  Maple seasoning rubbed on salmon and grilled on cedar planks.

Along side of the salmon were zucchini boats.  They were incredibly flavorful as well.  Lots of different textures in layers of toppings. I will post that recipe in a few days.
She served these on the side.  They were great palate cleansers.

I usually don't mention company names unless it is sponsored but this is what she used and I wanted to pass it along - McCormick Smokehouse Maple Grillmates.

We even had a friend stop by during our amazing dinner.

Salmon With Maple Rub On Cedar Plank

salmon fillets
McCormick Smokehouse Maple Grillmates
cedar planks

Soak cedar planks for at least two hours.  Have water spritzer with you at the grill for flare ups.

Rub the seasoning on the fillets and place on planks.

Grill on a medium flame until you can begin to see the definition of flakes on side of fillets.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Cherry Pistachio Almond Cake

Temperatures here in these parts have been hot and cold.  Mostly rainy.  SO on a cool day I like to bake something.  Warms the house a little and then we have something to eat on the go for the warmer days.

We have definitely been on the go!  Aren't summers always like that.  We are so busy!  When I say all, I don't just mean our family, I know you are busy too.  We vow to slow down a little each year.  But there are so many things to see and do. People to spend times with and enjoy.  Of course I am so entirely grateful for all of it.  I do stop and photograph flowers though.  I will show you a few...

This cake is like, OMG, wonderfully delicious.  Just a little secret, it has some pretty good nutrition too! It's toothsome, wholesome and satisfying, not to mention pretty. 

Cherry Pistachio Almond Cake

Recipe adapted from this recipe at Epicurious- using what I had on hand. Yes I had mahlab on hand.  Only because I love going to different markets, picking up interesting things and trying new recipes... What can I say, I live on the edge... the edge of the kitchen that is.

1 teaspoon ground mahlab
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
3/4 cup sugar
10 tablespoons melted butter
a pinch of salt
3 eggs
pistachios (unsalted)
cherries- canned (drained) or fresh (pitted)

Prehat oven to 375F.  Spray a 9 inch square (or deep round) pan with cooking spray.

Mix all of the dry ingredients: mahlab. almond meal, sugar, flour, baking powder, coconut, pinch of salt together in a bowl.  Pour melted butter over top, stir.  Add in eggs.  Pour into baking pan and smooth the top.  Arrange cherries on top and then pistachios over that.  Then sprinkle with some big crystal sanding sugar.

Bake for about 30 minutes, turn and bake 8 to 10 minutes more.  The center should no longer be jiggly. Cake should be a little golden around the edges.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Butternut Squash Bread

I didn't realize I froze so much squash.  I must have found a bargain on kabocha squash last summer.  What to do with it if you are sick of mashed squash.  Make some sweet bread of course.  This would also be great poured into muffin tins.  I was in a hurry though and about to leave for a trip.  It makes two loaves so I took one with me for my cousin who graciously let us stay with her.

Just wanted to share some pics of our weekend at my cousins.


You could definitely sub pumpkin for the butternut squash!

2 3/4 cups sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 1⁄2 cups flour
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2⁄3 cup water (I used 1/3 water and 1/3 buttermilk)
2 cups butternut squash, cooked and mashed

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine all the wet ingredients and stir in the sugar.  Combine remaining dry ingredients and mix into the wet ingredients.

Pour batter into two 9 x 5 loaf pans. Bake for about an hour or until a tester comes out clean.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Greek Cauliflower Flatbreads

I have been wanting to try this idea for quite some time.  In a way, it is a lot like the concept of a potato pancake but no frying- much healthier.  Cauliflower does not really have that much starch either.  So it is a total score.  When trying to keep your calories low this meal* ranks right up there at the top.  I totally would make it again and maybe even play with some other flavors in it as well.

Greek Cauliflower Flatbreads

*Normally you would use Parmesan cheese.
*The meal above is approximately 220 calories.