Saturday, March 17, 2012

Making my own reduced-calorie foods

I'm making more of our foods lately, which gives me a lot more control over calories.

For example, I love chicken salad sandwiches at those corner bistros and delis. I just never know how calorific the chicken salad or bread can be unless by chance the company posts nutritional info. But you can't always know those are right.

So I've decided to make my own. I haven't broken down calories, but I know that I'm not putting too much
mayo or fattier dark chicken. Plus I choose to use a tortilla (around 110 calories) instead of a croissant or heavy artisan bread. I'm also adding some flavors that I enjoy.

My latest batch was made with chicken tenders, celery, sunflower seeds, orange-flavored dried cranberries and light mayo. I've used walnuts, apple chunks, cashews, cherry-flavored dried cranberries, carrots and spinach. It's really whatever I have in the refrigerator. Sharing some pics.

I don't really follow a recipe. I just cook up a skillet full of chicken and dice it. While it cools, I chop about two stalks of celery and sprinkle in cranberries (I'll chop them so they aren't so big) and nuts for texture and taste. I add light mayo to taste — for me that just enough so that the chicken is covered, but not dripping out with each bite. I like the jalapeno cilantro tortillas at Fresh & Easy, so I use those to wrap up my chicken salad. Yum!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Seriously, simple healthy meals can be awesome

I have a serious issue with cooking healthy. It seems to be so much easier to cook unhealthy. But maybe I'm not trying hard enough.

And that seems to be my problem. I focus so much on everything else, and I come last. I had to force a change, so I've been experimenting with healthier cooking, and you know, it isn't that hard.

My favorite has been cooking up homemade chicken soup. I called my mom for help. She doesn't cook with recipes. So I just tried stuff. I found I'm horrible at writing down recipes, too, but essentially I use chicken stock (less sodium than broth), chicken tenders (breast is healthier than thigh meat), carrots, celery, a little garlic pepper, egg noodles and cilantro. The amounts can vary to your taste. I'm light on the noodles (they expand a lot) and heavy on chicken and carrots. Cook up chicken with garlic pepper to taste and cube. Return to skillet and add a cup each of celery and carrots and saute to a texture you like (I like a little crisp; my daughter likes the veggies well cooked) with a dash of chicken stock. Meanwhile boil some noodles, don't let them get mushy. About a minute before they are done, drain. Place pot with chicken stock and warm. Add noodles, chicken, celery and carrots. Simmer. Add cilantro for added flavor. Yummy.

This lead me to try making other healthy food. Without cracking a cook book, I pulled out chicken, broccoli and red peppers. I pretended like I was making the soup except with broccoli and red peppers. It was so easy, quick and satisfying to my taste buds. It took about 10 minutes for the entire thing.

All I did was put some olive oil and then some chicken breast tenders in a skillet. Put a dash of garlic pepper on top. Flipped the chicken and then again, to ensure it was cooked by moist. About two minutes before it was done, I tossed in chopped broccoli and red peppers because I had them in the fridge and I like them. You can see the result in the pic. Yummy.

All I need now is to satisfy my sweet tooth with some strawberries and yogurt.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Making room to work out at home

Not having a full-time job means I have less disposable income for things like the gym. But working out doesn't have to cost a fortune, right?
My problem is I don't like exercising in the family room for everyone to see, especially now that my daughter video chats every chance she can. I also hate creating a mess in a room I try to keep clean at all costs.
Go outside then, right? Well, I'm not big on outside exercise, except for walking, given my allergies and general air quality in Arizona.
My solution? Make space in my bedroom. The big problem there was clutter. I was using an exercise machine (remember the Cardio Glide?) as a clothes rack. Plus decorative boxes with papers cluttered up the room. I had no real space for exercise.
Well, thanks to illness and a desire to disinfect/spring clean, I now have space. Enough for two yoga mats. Yay!
I'm storing my exercise equipment in two boxes, so I don't see clutter. And I have DVDs handy to pop in the TV in the privacy of my room. Love it.
I can stretch while watching TV or pull out the weights. My family room stays clean in case I get drop ins. Win-win.
Let's hope this keeps me motivated for a long time.

P.S. The Cardio Glide is gone to the garage. I'm feeling like I'm not ready to part with it. But at least it won't attract clothes clutter.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trying to stay positive about working out

Working out when you hit a certain age isn't easy. And results don't come fast enough. I guess I should be glad that I'm not gaining weight, and my body still wants to move.

I'm trying to look at the positives. Among them:

-I can do more pushups. I couldn't at first, and now I can dip down all the way. I can't do 100, but I can do 10 good ones, and bunches of sloppy ones.

-I can hold myself in a plank without automatically dropping to my knees.

-I can lift more weight.

-I'm willing to sweat if the workout is set to good music. Still hate sweating, but at least I won't stop working out because of it.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Run/Walks: Don't be afraid! Set a goal and do it

The weather is getting nicer, finally! And many cool running/walking/biking events are coming up. The Arizona Republic's Jennifer McClellan pulled together a list of 10 runs, walks and rides in the Phoenix area this fall.

I have my eye on two events. I'm thinking that I should register for one of them, creating a forced commitment. That will help me set a goal so I keep exercising when I clearly would rather sleep in. But...

I guess fear is keeping me from signing up for the October race. Am I ready? Running isn't my thing, and I'm not exactly race ready. The times to prepare for these fall races/rides are short if you're not fit. But I can walk. I could set myself a pace goal, something slightly better than what I do when I jump on the treadmill at the gym. Then again, November's event gives me more time to prepare.

See, I'm talking myself into it. If my husband joins me...OK, gotta make a decision. Can't afford to do both. Or maybe I should look for something more realistic in the winter or spring? Say, isn't there a half-marathon in January? ;)

Will you sign up for race? Does it help you reach your goal?


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Liquid calories

I've been trying the exercise thing for a full four weeks now, getting at least 6 hours of exercise a week. The scale hasn't budged. I could say some of it is gaining muscle (I do think this is true), but I've not seen a real change in my body. Maybe it's too soon? Maybe I've got more work to do.

It's obviously time to seriously look at my eating and drinking habits. My caloric intake has to be growing faster than my workout calorie burn. And I hoped this wouldn't be an issue.

My food habits haven't changed much, with the exception of adding more veggies to my diet and cutting out the occasional take-out dinner. I still need to work on reducing some high-sugar foods, but I'm on the right track.

I'm thinking, with all the heat, I may be drinking too many high-calorie drinks. That smoothie, coffee drink or lemonade that seems so refreshing when it's 115 out isn't exactly without calories. Do I even want to know how many calories they have?

I'm not happy to realize this, but at least now I know where I need to focus my energy. So going forward, drink water first. If I need some flavor, add some lemon or make some green tea without sugar. And remember, smoothies and caramel fraps must be viewed as treats.

Hope this heat mellows out before my resolve falters. Cheers!

Monday, August 15, 2011

My "jelly belly" motivation

So the most troubling thing about working out is seeing myself in the mirror. I HATE it! Surely I'm really not that FAT.

I'm within my "normal" weight, granted at the top. But damn it, I'm not ready to see my belly jiggle so much as I climb up and down from my step or jab at an invisible punching bag.

I'm trying not to be discouraged by my unflattering reflection. But all I want to do is hide. Who wants to see my jiggle? Not me. Maybe if I start wearing baggy shirts...Ugh.

I have to tell myself, I'm far from alone. We all hate parts of our bodies, even when we are skinny. And when we gain weight, we recall those "skinny" days thinking, "How could I think I was fat when I looked so good?" I think this way any time I see a photo from 10 years ago.

So I try to focus on what I like about myself. I like that my legs are strong. I like that my arms have yet to sprout wings. I like my eyes. I like that I'm finally doing something for ME.

These day I'm trying to use "jelly belly" to keep me going to class. It's not like it will disappear by itself. And honestly, I don't work out very hard with a DVD at home. And maybe by the end of the year, the jiggle in the mirror will be a distant memory. We can only hope. OK, I can make a date at the gym to make it happen.