Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Soup's On!!

Creamy, Cheesy Cauliflower Soup.

That's right. The words "cheesy" and "creamy" can be used in your healthy lifestyle!

I bought a large head of cauliflower one day (not at my beloved Farm Boy, but at another store), and the very next day it had that not-so-fresh rubbery feel to it .. (Serves me right for cheating on Farm Boy!) So I knew I needed to use it ASAP to avoid wasting it. And I despise wasting.

So I was browsing through Skinnytaste for some apple recipes and happened to come across a cauliflower soup recipe. It looked so simple and I had all the ingredients .. So I went for it. But I made it mine by kind of making up my own version as I went along. Here is what I came up with!

All you need:

- One large head of cauliflower, chopped
- Four cups of water
- 3/4 cup of diced onions
- one cube of Knorr reduced-sodium chicken stock (you can also use bouillon or even  chicken broth!)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 4 pieces of light Laughing Cow cheese*
- a one-inch cube of sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated

*if you prefer using an all-natural cheese, substitute for sharp Parmesan cheese and adjust the WW+ points value accordingly.

All you do:

Put the cauliflower, onions, water, garlic, chicken stock and water in a large pot and cook on high just until it starts boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cover, leaving it to simmer for about 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is softened to your liking.

Take an immersion blender to the mix, until all the pieces of cauliflower and onions are completely puréed (if you don't have an immersion blender, just use a regular blender or a food processor to blend!)
Cheese, please!
Add in the Laughing Cow cheese pieces and the grated cheddar and mix well until the cheese has completely melted. I used the immersion blender for a few minutes here also to fully blend in the cheese.

Salt and pepper to taste and away you go! Lunch is ready!
I added mushrooms in for lunch!
This soup is delicious on its own, or you can add some broccoli or mushrooms to it (cheesy broccoli soup?! Heck yeah!!). I even used some to add into my kids' pasta (sneaking in some extra veggies and calcium into your kids' food is never a bad thing!) and again in our mashed potatoes at dinner.
Homemade mac and cheese with the cauliflower soup blended in!
Enjoying her cauliflower and not even knowing it ;)
Cauliflower soup added to the mashed sweet potatoes!

The points value per serving varies on how large a serving you have. The only thing that had a points value in the recipe is the cheese! My servings of one cup each were only worth one point ... And considering the fact that it tastes like a 12pts kind of soup, I'd say it's worth the one point! :)

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dear WW: I'm baaaaaaack!

So Saturday was the day!

I finally got to rejoin WW! The stars had aligned, and I was finally able to get back to my weekly meetings.

I was SO excited Friday night that I had the hardest time sleeping. I was just like a kid on Christmas eve, I tell ya.

Getting up to a 7am alarm after barely getting four hours of sleep kind of sucked - but it was for ME, and well, I'm learning to remember that I'm worth the effort :)

Such a bright red tree!!
The walk to the meeting was beautiful and cool and crunchy! (yay Fall leaves!). When I got there, I was SO happy to see Leslie, my regular leader - and she was happy to see me too! It was such a nice welcome back!

And get this - in my 3 month absence, I lost 9.5lbs (bringing my total loss to an official 59lbs!!)!! This is a HUGE victory for me. Normally if I knew I wouldn't be attending meetings for a while, I'd totally fall off the wagon. Or fly out a rocket ship - it was that bad. Cheezies for an after-breakfast snack?! Why not?! Pizza after dinner, two nights in a row?! Sure! I had that mindset, "Once I go back, I'll commit myself to it again. Until then ..."

Not this time.

I'd worked so hard to lose my first fifty pounds and I did not under ANY circumstances want to see even one pound come back on!

But it wasn't just about the weight loss maintenance this time. There was more to it, as I've come to learn along my joirney that the numbers on the scale are so minimal in the grand scheme of things. I'd worked very hard to train my mind to where it happily is now (healthy vs skinny, how I feel body-wise vs what the scale says), and to develop my good habits vs my old bad habits (apple slices after dinner instead of panzerotti, ground turkey vs ground beef, yoga vs couch-potato'ing). Did I really want to risk having to go through that again? To have to detox my body of all the garbage I was putting into it, suffer for days on end through the sluggishness and the enormous cravings?

Not even a tiny, Cheezie-sized little bit.

I'm so committed to my healthy lifestyle. I feel so good both physically and mentally. I have SO much energy!

I'm not going to lie - I did indulge along the way, maybe even sometimes more than I should have. Maybe I could have lost more than the 9.5lbs had I not treated myself as much as I had.

But y'know what? I'm totally thrilled with how my three months away went. I LOST 9.5 lbs instead of GAINING thirty. Total win.

I was able to prove to myself that I can be and will be successful on my new path, for good! I was able to keep at it on my own, even while I was away, and being able to prove that to ME, my harshest critic? A total confidence booster. I can't tell you how happy I am! As long as we make that commitment to ourselves - anything is possible! We can all do this!!

I'll tell you more about the meeting in another post. It was a great one!!

Have an amazing Sunday, everyone!
Our leader passed out Halloween goodie bags and this paper was in it - Good to know for the trick-or-Eaters!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

SNT October!

Welcome to October's Edition of Something New Thursday! 

For any new readers, SNT is the act of trying something new (food, recipe, meal at a restaurant, etc) and sending in a picture to brag about it! I always encourage trying new foods to keep us active and interested in our healthy lifestyle and to keep us out of food ruts (I'm sure I'm not just speaking for myself when I say, food ruts make me bored which then usually leads me to eating baaaaaaad things!)

Any time you have something new, send a picture to me via FacebookTwitter, or email me mama_lego@yahoo.com .. I'll include your pictures in that month's SNT post and even include links back to your blog / page! :)

So without further delay .. Here's what was cooking this month!

Christine A made Stew Good To Be True. She said she liked it, but she's thinking she'll stick to her usual stew recipe.

Curried Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup. We made this for lunches on those cooler autumn days. It is so full of flavor and just delicious! It's rich and creamy (without cream added!) and so low in points (3 pts / cup! Yum!). Recipe to come :)

I love sweet potatoes yet I've never had them mashed ... Until now!! I doubt I will ever make regular white mashed potatoes again, the sweet potato mash was SO good!! And knowing that sweets are so loaded with nutrients is an added bonus. So yum!
Since making these, we haven't had white potatoes once. I'm obsessed.
Daddy Lego loves to experiment with different pancake variations, and I love tasting them! This here is a whole wheat - flax light pancake made with chopped pecans and a swirl of homemade caramel. Oh ... My ... Yummm!!

I made a big batch of pumpkin yogurt for the family. They loved it! And I loved how nutritious this dessert was!

Christina made a fried rice made with all sorts of ingredients she had laying around. In it you'll find bok choy, eggs, onions, red pepper, and bacon. Doesn't that look delicious?!

Christina also bought these k-cups for her keurig .. Cheaper and healthier than buying from a specialty coffee shop! She says they're SO yum!!
Yeah .. I need these in my life.

Country Harvest w/ flax is my favorite whole grain bread .. And now it has quinoa in it!!! So happy to have found it!
So moist, tasty, and nutritious!
Now that the Fall / Winter season is upon us, Daddy Lego and I have been wanting warm, hearty meals. He made a rich and delicious ratatouille and it was SO good!! The best part was that it felt as though we were eating something "bad" but it really wasn't. It's basically vegetables (mushrooms, zucchini, turnip, carrots, onions) marinated in a homemade tomato sauce with fresh herbs. He made a large batch so we have lots left over to make into a pasta sauce!

Christina made cabbage rolls for the first time and really liked them! She said the hardest part about making them was peeling the cabbage leaves off the head without breaking them. Will you be making them again?

I made a shepherd's pie - instead of beef, I used half lean ground pork and half lean ground veal (they were both on special and way cheaper than beef!) and I used mashed sweet potatoes (because I'm obsessed with them). A-ma-zing. Took an old favorite, leaned it up, and made it taste 500 times better!! :)
I must have been married to a brussel sprout in a past life because WOW do I ever love that veggie!!
Christine made these peanut butter, banana and oatmeal squares. She said they were good, but she'd make a couple of changes to make them great!

Christina made a soup with leeks, potato, bacon and cheddar .. Is it a "cheat night" kind of soup? Looks sssssooooo amazing. I could just imagine how great your house smelled while this was cooking!

After hearing from many people about how great coconut water is, I really wanted to try it! So when I saw it at my local Rexall, I immediately grabbed one to take on our morning walk. Oh my. I wish I could say I loved it - or even liked it. A little. It tasted like really old, past the expiration date kind of juice. Maybe it was just this brand?

And that wraps up October's Something New Thursday! Doesn't seeing all these delicious foods inspire you to get cooking?! :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Less Than Stellar?

*This post was written on Saturday*

I got a good reality check today!

I was having a good day. I made some kick-ass apple cinnamon whole wheat pancakes with flax for breakfast. The pears I bought a week ago were finally ready for eating and omnomnom those were good! The kids were in good moods and the sun was out.

I wanted to run.
I'm so lucky that my running path is SO gorgeous!
Another shot of my path.
So I busted out my new headband and tank top ($3 at Old Navy!), got the Lego Kids bundled into the double, and out we went.
Pre-run silliness!
My goal was to get the first day of week 6 of my C25K program wrapped up. It was simple - 5 minute warmup walk, and two 10 minute runs separated by a 3 minute walk. Easy! I'd just run a 5K the night before in 37 minutes!

... Yeah.

The first ten-minute stretch sucked. My legs were aching with every step. I just couldn't get my breathing right. My left-side hip injury kept nagging me. I really had to force my way through it. I was so unbelievably relieved when the announcer told me to start walking. Yes please!!!

Those three minutes walking just FLEW by and it was time to get running again. I pushed myself to it and oh Lordy ..

I started seeing spots in front of my eyes. My head began to spin and I knew I needed to stop. I had my babies with me and I didn't want to pass out or be unable to make my way back home. So with five minutes of scheduled running left, I had to slow it down to a walk and headed home. 
Yeah, she had the right idea!
I was frustrated with myself. I was angry. Why couldn't I do this simple run?
Sad Mama.
I got back home and tweeted about how I was trying not to beat myself up over my less-than-stellar run .. And an amazing sweat pink sister got back to me.

Isn't she amazing?! (by the way, her blog is amazing too, and she's up for one of the Top 25 Circle of Moms blog awards - vote for her here!)

She was totally right and made me feel 842% better. Sure, I didn't complete my run - but I RAN. I did my best and for that I am proud and happy. And I stopped when I knew I needed to - smart me!! :)

Not every run will be like my blissful run. Some of them won't be great. But ALL of them will be 100% better than sitting on the couch and will ALL be done with pride!

Day One, Week Six - we shall meet again .. With a great big ol' smile on my face!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Bucket List

Fall is definitely underway. The cooler weather has arrived, the leaves are changing colors, that gorgeous fireplace scent is in the air, and my flip flops are packed away where my comfy sweaters once were :)

(and oh, hello, last year's jeans that are falling off my butt!)

One of my favorite bloggers (Hi Tara!) posted her bucket list for Fall. I've been wanting to do a bucket list for the longest time and figured, why not start now?!

So here it is!

You can see Tara's bucket list here (she has some great ideas!).

Is there anything you really want to do this Fall?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cupcake Classic 5K

My first virtual race is in the bag! What a fun experience it was - no starting pistol, no crowds, no onlookers, no finish line, no medal. Just me, my pedometer, my timer, my asthma inhaler and my favorite running partner: Daddy Lego.

We made the night special. We got a babysitter and planned to make it a date night. A running date. Definitely a first for us, and definitely not going to be the last!

Daddy Lego and I met down town (he had worked earlier in the day) and made a big mistake: we went for dinner before our run. We went to our favorite restaurant and I was so proud of myself for choosing healthy options: a turkey burger with avocado and a side salad (instead of the normal "cheat night" meal I would have had while treating myself to the rare restaurant meal!). In any case, though I ate well, I ate too much.

To burn off some of that "too full" feeling, we walked around the market and explored the mall (we so rarely get to go down town anymore!) for about an hour, then made our way to the canal for our run (but not before going to Lululemon for the first time ever and coming out with a new non-slip running headband!).

What a gorgeous night. The ducks were sleeping in the canal waters, the wind was perfectly breezy, and it was cool and dark but just perfect for a run.

We began our run and I was SO proud of how much faster our pace was (when compared to the sloooooow jog we had at the Army Run!). We were actually running!

So we get about eight minutes in and oh, crap .. I have a horrible cramp. Shouldn't have eaten so much before running!

We had to slow our pace to a jog and then a fast walk. And we had a total blast. We splashed through puddles, joked, laughed, reflected on our lives (totally in love with that man!).

Daddy Lego: "Come on Lulu, move your Lemon!" lmao
When we got halfway through the 5K, we turned around and began jogging again, and made a running boot to the finish. I couldn't believe we had run 5Ks in 37 minutes! Totally beat our old PR of 45 minutes!

So we headed to the bus stop and home we went .. To eat our cupcake reward (as was customary for the Cupcake Classic 5K - hence the name!). Daddy Lego had an Oreo cupcake (it was amazing!!!!) and I had a maple cinnamon cupcake (sounds better than it tasted).

The cupcakes were a little bit destroyed on our run / way home .. But were still cupcakes :)
We had a totally relaxed approach to our run and had so much fun. That's what running is all about, though, isn't it? Having fun!

The eating cupcakes part didn't hurt, either :)

Thanks so much to Jess at Run With Jess for working so hard to organize the run, and for inspiring us all to get up off our butts and race for US! We'll see you next year!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Week Two - Oct. Fitness Challenge

Week two is in the bag! Had a great week of fitness, the only thing I wish was that I got more running in (although I did have one blissful run)!
Wore this on my run to keep pushing harder! :)
Now that I'm halfway through my October challenge .. Any suggestions for November?!

One thing I really had to fix this week: my attitude. I'd get so mad at myself for not hitting my daily plank target - then I realized, why?! I'm not going to beat myself up about it. No pressure. I'll push myself as hard as I can and I know that my dream 90-second plank will come. My hard work and determination will pay off!! No more putting myself down, no more pressure :) And what do you know .. As soon as I lost the negative mindset, I met my goal for the week: one minute!!
Who says you can't work out at work!?
Day One, Week Two. Not bad.
Day Two, Week Two! This is where I started to get mad at myself for not hitting 50 ..
More negativity. 
Once I stopped putting myself down and lost the negativity, my 50 seconds happened!
Cant even tell you how PROUD I am to finally be in the one-minute plank club!! :)
Day Seven, Week Two. Awesome progress!!
I really made sure to incorporate some form of activity into every single day. If I was cleaning the house, I was dancing. As always, I walked to work instead of taking the bus (40 minutes walking!). There were even a couple of days I got to work early and went out to keep walking! I bought a 5lbs weight to lift while at my desk at work, and I got my plank on every day. I was even able to get a yoga session in every two days! I feel so much stronger!
Just me and my mat. 
How are your October fitness goals coming along? Excited to hear about it! There are two weeks left .. Make 'em count!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dream Come True!

When I found out that Janet and Greta Podleski were coming to our local Costco to sign copies of my bible, The Looneyspoons Collection, I think I peed a little.

Holy. Moly. Macaroni.

I would get to meet the two ladies who showed me how much fun healthy eating and cooking could be? The ladies whose show I watched regularly (even the repeats!) and whose cookbook I used constantly? The ones who changed my attitude towards healthy eating? Who took the word "diet" out of my vocabulary? Who changed my life?

Want a little back story here?

About eight months ago, I was on a diet. I was about twenty pounds down and borrrrrrred of all the 100-calorie snack packs, Lean Cuisines, baked chicken and salads I was eating. That boredom contributed to LOTS of binge eating of the unhealthy kind.

One night after the kids were tucked into bed and I was tucked onto the couch with a small bowl bag of cheezies tucked into my paws, I fell upon a show on the food network called Eat, Shrink and Be Merry!
Drop everything and go watch the show, NOW! You won't regret it! :)
Little did I know, that show would change my life.

The two sisters with beautiful smiles punned their ways through the half-hour show that featured a competition: them vs. a popular, fatty recipe. Their goal was to transform that yummy fattening recipe into a nutritious and healthy meal, then battle against the original recipe in a taste test. Nine times out of ten, their recipe came out on top!

The competition and taste test were fun to watch, but the part that got me hooked was the grocery shopping / recipe developing part. The sisters were hilarious while buying their groceries and offered so many incredibly fascinating nutrition facts about the foods they were picking out. Their passion and positive attitude when putting together the recipe was so contagious. How inspiring.

They showed me that eating while losing weight didn't have to be blah. It didn't only have to be processed foods and salads. I could eat the foods I loved and craved - and I could make them nutritious and just as tasty!

I was hooked on the show and for my birthday that year, I bought myself their most recent cook book, the one you always hear me recommend, The Looneyspoons Collection.

Best purchase I've ever made.
Cindy and I patiently waiting to have our books signed!
Not only are the recipes to die for, but the book is filled with tons of nutrition facts about foods and dietary options. I often find myself flipping through the recipe pages just to read all the articles! This sparked something else within me - a passion for nutrition! To the point where I now want to become a nutritionist. I will be starting school this coming March :)

My husband and I are now hooked on transforming old "cheat" meals into new healthy favorites (as you all know from reading my blog!) and learning about the nutrients that fuel our body. We now make 95% of our meals at home and massively minimize the amount of processed foods we bring into our home. I started my blog shortly after changing my ways and have not been on a diet since.

My weight loss is now at the 55lbs mark and going strong!! My lifestyle has changed 100% for the better and I can't thank those wonderful Podleski sisters enough for opening my eyes. Their positive disposition and passion for healthy eating changed my life.

So getting to meet them, my idols, this past Saturday? Pretty frickin' cool. They are such beautiful women, both inside and out, and are SO friendly and funny!

I was too shy to tell them my whole story (and paranoid about sounding like a gushing fan girl!) but I was able to thank them for helping me see the positive sides of healthy eating. They both gave me a big hug when they heard of how much weight I lost! Tears of joy!! :)
My prized possession.
Biggest smiles!! :)
To Janet and Greta: I love you both so much and can't thank you enough for all that you've done for me! If ever I can repay the favor ..! ;)

So .. That was my Saturday. How was yours?!

Ps. I went home later that day and baked their pumpkin spice muffins. Another incredible recipe!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Blissful Run!

This post was written on Monday night :)

Daddy Lego and I had a run scheduled for tonight after dinner. We aren't usually home together in the PM because of our work schedules, so going for a night run with the kids while it was cool and dark out was something we both really looked forward to. The two things I weren't looking forward to were the facts that 1. This was the first run post the Friday Night Running Incident and 2. This run was the last day of week 5 of my training program - which meant a 5 minute warmup walk, a 20 minute run, and a 5 minute cool down. TWENTY minutes of non-stop running. I'd only ever done that once before, at the Army Run a few weeks ago. And when that happened, I was pushing myself hard and going with the momentum of the crowd. Could I really do that again?

My nerves were getting to me and I started to doubt myself, so I sat back on twitter and started reading (you guys really know how to get my motivation going!!). Hearing all about your successful runs and workouts this weekend inspired me and reminded me that I could do this run. And reading over my previous blogs really gave me courage when I saw how far I've come!

So I dressed for the occasion (it was cold out) in my Army Run shirt with my Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope t-shirt over top, and I wore my 5K Dog Tag Medal from the Army Run (to grip on to if the going got tough!). I remembered my inhaler and my trusty bottle of water. Bundled up the kids in the double (we still really need a double jogger) and off we went.
Wore this for motivation :)
What. An. Amazing. Freakin. RUN!!!

I stretched my legs during the 5 minute warmup walk and then started running. I started telling Daddy Lego about this beautiful blog post I'd read earlier in the day (thank you for sharing your story, Lena!), and how I needed to make an appointment with my Dr to check in (he has no idea about my 50lbs+ weight loss or the fact that I'm running now). We started chatting about how much my fitness level had changed over the summer. And this really hit home:

Daddy Lego looked at me and said: "Look at how amazing you are. Five months ago you wouldn't have even run for a bus. And now you're seven minutes into a twenty-minute run, you're talking through it, and all while pushing a stroller that weighs about sixty pounds. I'm so proud of you."

Talk about a reality check. Hello, me from five months ago who couldn't walk and talk at the same time!! You're running AND talking at the same time!!! And you're loving your running!!!

I really have come such a long, happy way. I can't even begin to tell you how much running has brought to my life.

So anyhow, we're about thirteen minutes into the run and we turn around in our path (so that we're closer to home to get our tired kids to bed sooner) and I was able to push that stroller while running up a hill and holy crap I didn't feel the desperate need to stop, I was able to keep going and in fact, speed up!

The second half of our run was much faster than the first and though I wasn't able to chat quite as much, I was feeling fantastic. The sweat felt great, the warmth was great, the burn was amazing. I wasn't feeling the need to check the time every ten seconds to see how much longer we had to go. I just enjoyed myself. What a cool feeling!
Rosey cheeks after a cool and energizing run!
The timer went off to announce our last minute and I clapped my hands together in delight because I had made it to this point! I started to get a small stitch and had to slow my pace a little, but when our little app lady announced that we were done, I'll admit, I was disappointed and wanted to keep going! But, my common sense kicked in (I didn't want any more "Friday night" experiences!) that reminded me that I needed to pace myself, so I slowed to a walk and enjoyed the cool Fall weather on our walk home.
Post-run silliness!
What a great run :)
Ever have that blissful running experience?