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AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (74,443)
Posts: 3,293
12/19/13 1:13 A

Learning to cook is one of the best investments that you can make in your own health and the health of your family. Being able to cook really good food from scratch can also help you to get through some very lean financial times.

Do you have any friends or family members who might be able to teach you a few simple dishes? I love to do this for friends.

Soup can be a good place to start as it is very forgiving. There are lots of good recipes on Spark. One that I like is Southwestern Chicken Soup. You can freeze it with some brown rice for a really satisfying meal.

If you can chop, you can make salads. If you have quart jars with lids, those are excellent for make-ahead salads. Put the heavier things and the dressing at the bottom and lettuce/spinach/greens at the top. Shake and serve when you are ready to eat. These will keep in the fridge for almost a week.

JWOOLMAN SparkPoints: (2,343)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 621
12/18/13 8:56 P

I completely sympathize with the lack of desire to cook. I don't even have a stove and manage with a small convection toaster oven and a small microwave... But frozen veggies are your friend and can be added to any soup or prepared frozen food or potatoes (instant or baked). Likewise rice or pasta mixes (Uncle Ben has ones in a package that stands up in the microwave). Even Hamburger Helper can help (I've used beans instead of meat and even switched out the pasta and added veggies -making at least six individual meals to freeze for later). Asian soup bowls or fresh noodle boxes can make several meals - just add beans and/or veggies before adding water and microwaving. Bagged lettuce blends and bagged baby carrots and matchsticks can get you past the prep hurdle. Mann has excellent bagged veggies, including broccoli slaw which is wonderful. The mixes have directions on how to cook them. So you don't have to become a chef to get more nutrition into your meals without fuss. And you can always divide the results into single meals, packaging and refrigerating/freezing for later.

Edited by: JWOOLMAN at: 12/18/2013 (20:57)
MLEHTO Posts: 734
12/18/13 2:20 P

Eating Chef Boyardee is probably not the best but I totally understand the appeal. I'm not fond of leftovers so cooking isn't something I do when I'm on my own. (I am married.) What others have said about the processed food is correct. What I would add is to supplement the nutrition with fresh veggies and fruit, etc.

MANDIETERRIER1 Posts: 17,285
12/18/13 1:21 P

Chef Boyardee is not the best thing to eat. But as long as you are watching your calories. I don't think it will stop weight loss. It might make it slower because of the sodium content, but it wont make it stop completely.

I googled "easy healthy recipes" and found this website. It looks like some of the items can be made on the stove top.

Google easy crock pot recipes and that way you can batch cook.

I hope this helps out.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,210
12/18/13 8:02 A

want to know my cooking cheat? i buy the things like lipton sides or those campbell's soups that come in the bag and then i doctor them up. for the lipton sides i like to buy the broccoli cheese, mushroom, stroganoff or teriyaki kinds. about halfway through the cook time, i dump a box of frozen chopped broccoli in. when i do feel like cooking i cook beans from dry, then portion them out and freeze them so that i can dump a cup or two of those in those packaged things as well. it probably adds about 3-4 minutes on the cook time to heat all that frozen stuff up. if i have any mushrooms i have cooked before, i'll toss them in as well and if i have the energy i will sautee some fresh while i am doing the other. but by tossing in those first two things i nearly double the yield of the package. and in doing so, each cup of food has around half the calories as what is listed on the side of the package. the sodium and fat also nearly halve. the protein and the fiber go up by doing this as well. for the cambell's soups i like to add broccoli or cauliflower, cubed baked potato, corn, mushrooms or any other vegetables i have lying around. this does the same thing. it bulks out what you are already eating, lowers the calories, fat and sodium per cup and increases the protein and fiber. if you like mushier vegetables you may need to cook them a little bit before adding them, but it's a really low intensity way to start incorporating more vegetables in and getting a little more familiar with cooking.
i do the same thing with the boxed mac i love. when i have it, i dump a couple cups of vegetables in. i'll do broccoli or cauliflower from frozen. or i'll shred fresh zucchini in. one of the newest things i have done is add black beans, salsa, whatever fresh peppers-onions-tomatoes that i have, and mushrooms. so it's sort of like the salsa and queso they sell in the store but with more fiber and protein.
it's not an end all be all solution to cooking, but it's easy and requires little to no skill while getting you used to new flavors, textures and lower sodium content.
i'll also advise you to head to the lunchbox section of your nearest big box store or grocery store. find a somewhat wide mouth thermos that's tall and one that's squat and you can make anything you want like your to go favorites. for the squat one look for a thermos funtainer. they are 10 oz, wide mouthed and will keep foods hot or cold for up to five hours. if you put frozen berries in with your yogurt in the morning at about 8 they won't be thawed enough to eat til 1 or 2 in the afternoon. so all you'd need to do is find a veggie you don't mind with your chef, heat it up at the same time as the chef and dump them both into the funtainer. it makes it one step more of prep, but one step better for you. as you expand your cooking you can find another ravioli or pasta that you like, another sauce, add some veggies and save some money while having mostly the same thing that's just a bit better for you. do the same with the soup and the taller thermos. either doctor an existing one to start or start to make your own soups and reheat and dump them into the thermos.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
12/18/13 5:51 A

Horrible food, but if you consistently eat very few calories, you will lose weight whatever you eat. There are only three concerns.

1) This causes you to binge later, and you don't count the binges. If not, then no issues there.

2 ) That you have to stay so low in calories ( under 1200 ) to lose weight while eating the food that you do, and that isn't sustainable for the rest of your life. Can you lose/maintain weight eating Chef Boyardee at a normal level, like 1600-1800 calories. If not, when you stop starving yourself, you will gain the weight back.

3 ) With this food, you may get to a goal weight, but be very unhealthy on the inside. This may be very convenient right now, but it will make you much more likely to get a disease later in life, which is very INconvenient.

I would add more calories, and try to cook your own meals. Take a cooking class at your local college for a few hundred bucks, and save the Chef Boyardee for those few times that you just have no time at all. As you get better in the kitchen you will find that you can get a meal ready in 15 minutes, versus microwaving some ravioli for 5. The smaller difference between prep length will help you choose better meals.

Chicken stir fries are a great idea. cut up the chicken when you buy it, and then freeze it that way. Pull it down to fridge at night, and in the morning, you can cook it while cooking, or eating breakfast. Just toss a few servings of vegetables in olive oil, with a serving of already diced chicken. It cooks up in about 10-15 minutes, about the time you take to eat breakfast. Then just stick it in the fridge. You can buy Uncle Ben's 90 second wild rice ( brown ), which only has 15 mg sodium, and at lunch microwave both, and mix together. Lunch prep in under 5 minutes. Be careful of the flavored rice though. A package has 1400-2400 mg sodium. Season the chicken and vegetables, and let the rice be plain, and you will have a healthy, tasty lunch with about 20-25 total effort, with 15 being done while you ate breakfast. When you are at lunch, you can get it ready in 5, which is about the same as Chef Boyardee, but much healthier. Change meat and veggies for variety, and if you have time, you can change the pasta. Get 7 go-to meals that you can use instead of Chef Boyardee.

Another option is a can of soup, and the same rice. Look for lower sodium soups like Chunky soup, with the " Healthy Request " heart healthy soup label. Most have 810 mg sodium for the whole can ( 2 servings, HUGE can ). Pasta has no sodium, microwavable plain rice has just 30 mg sodium per bag, and is also 2 servings. Cook up a can and a bag, and split it in half. Less than 5 minutes cook time also. No prep for that one.

Do the best you can, and see if you are losing. Most of us start out making small improvements, and as we get healthier, we have the energy to make more elaborate meals, and find more time to do healthier things. You don't need to be perfect on day 1, just a little better on day 30, and a little better than that on day 60 etc. Make a few small changes, and stick to that for a month, until they are a habit, and then make another 2 changes the next month. In a year, you will make at least 24 healthier changes, and it will show up on the scale, and at your doctor's visits, as your body gets healthier.


Edited by: RUSSELL_40 at: 12/18/2013 (05:52)
SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (241,190)
Fitness Minutes: (41,039)
Posts: 26,441
12/18/13 4:10 A

I agree with the others - it is about calories in versus calories out. The other part of the nutrition is HEALTHY eating. Processed foods are generally very high in one or a number of:
Fat (particularly trans and saturated)

I did have a peek at your Nutrition Page and noticed 2 things in particular - the lack of fruit/veges, and 2 days' worth of recording, but very low calories. The bare minimum for an average weight adult is 1200 cal's. When you factor in being overweight and/or exercise, then you need to eat more.

As far as cooking is concerned, you could get a slow-cooker (Crock-pot) Your food will be succulent and moist, and the risk of burning the house down will be greatly minimized emoticon emoticon .... AND they are fantastic for casseroles and soups, but you can also make roasts and desserts (healthy of course) in them!


JWOOLMAN SparkPoints: (2,343)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 621
12/18/13 3:58 A

Let me admit that a can of Chef Boyardee was often my breakfast in high school and college... Can't stand sweet stuff in the morning and always ate cereal dry as a snack later in the day. Anyway, I survived at a normal weight. Although my friends amused themselves by asking what I ate for breakfast and then laughing hysterically at my answer...

But if the convenience attracts you- consider investing in a collection of good Pyrex bowls with tight fitting lids that can be taken from the freezer into the microwave. Then you can cook up several servings of a simple meal and freeze individual portions. These would be just as convenient as anything in a can but you'll have a lot more variety and control over the ingredients. I suggest taking the lids off and covering with something microwave safe rather than keeping the lids on while reheating, to avoid damaging the lid.

ANARIE Posts: 13,175
12/18/13 12:42 A

My guess is that the "somewhere" you read this information was somewhere that sells or advertises health food or "diet" food products.

There's no food you can eat that magically halts weight loss regardless of calorie intake, just like there's no magical food that will cause weight loss all on its own. There are plenty of people who eat poor-quality food and don't have enough of that; those people are thin. If you eat poor quality food and you have plenty of it, however, you are more likely to be overweight because it doesn't satisfy your appetite or your body's needs as well as healthier foods would. You're more likely still to feel hungry after 170 calories of Chef Boyardee white pasta in sugary salt sauce than you are after 170 calories of fresh vegetables and lean meat. That doesn't mean you won't lose weight IF you can stop yourself from eating more-- but it does mean it'll be much harder to stop.

And that actually matters. You have over 50 pounds to lose, which means you're going to be working on it for over a year. Not many people have the willpower to live with being hungry for a year. On the other hand, you also have a whole year to learn about and transition to healthier foods.

So, in other words, don't sweat it right now. You will lose weight as long as you control calories. But be open and make a goal of finding healthier things to eat for the long run. If you let yourself be relaxed about it and just try things you hear about that sound good and easy, you'll probably find within the next few months that you're able to change your habits pretty easily and happily. As others have said, there are plenty of foods that are healthier AND tastier than Chef Boyardee without being much harder to make, and finding them can actually be a lot of fun if you don't put a bunch of pressure on yourself.

MARLAMICHELLE SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (765)
Posts: 58
12/18/13 12:38 A

Thanks guys; I'm going to cut down on the processed stuff. Maybe grill some chicken and eat some veggie's.

I just found those things to be easiest because cooking is hard for me... I actually set my oven on fire not too long ago trying to cook.

Thanks for the advice :D

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (74,443)
Posts: 3,293
12/17/13 8:21 P

I just took a look at your tracker and it seems like EVERYTHING you are eating is processed--breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So a good goal for you at some point in the future might be to work on limiting these things to one meal a day. We could argue about whether or not this is a problem for weight loss or not (just based on salt consumption alone, it is probably slowing you down), but it is not a great approach if you want to eat in a healthy way in general or to feed your family good things.

Would you like some ideas about convenient foods that you can make yourself?

Edited by: AZULVIOLETA6 at: 12/17/2013 (22:46)
AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (74,443)
Posts: 3,293
12/17/13 8:13 P

It is really one of the MOST over-processed things you could possibly eat Read the label carefully and look at carbs, sugars and preservatives.

There are likely MANY better-tasting, healthier things that would be more filling and more nutritious for the same number of calories. If you are sensitive to carbs it could be a very bad choice for weight loss...if not, it might be OK.

If using something like this is helpful as you are getting started, it is not the end of the world...but it might be something you want to rotate out of your diet as you start eating healthier.

ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
12/17/13 5:19 P

Well, I'm not sure who "they" is, or where you read "their" information, but I'd have to say that it's incredibly incomplete, so much so as to be pretty much useless.

Here's the deal --- if you eat less calories than you burn (that's including your BMR, daily activities, and exercise), then you will lose weight. Bodies aren't calculators, though, so some folks will lose weight faster than others, even if they seem to have the same calorie deficit.

The issue with the canned, convenience foods is not necessarily with the calories or portions but with the nutrition (or lack there-of). Your soup and Chef Boyardee will most likely have extremely high levels of sodium, and rather low levels of nutrients that you actually want more of (protein, fibre, iron, calcium, B-vitamins, etc.). Eating these sorts of things isn't "hurting your diet" by adding extra calories, but it is "hurting your health" by not providing adequate nutrition.

I will note, however, that there are some people who find these types of foods to be "triggers" that will send them on a binge later (which will definitely impact your calories), just as there are many people who would not be satisfied with the portion of these types of foods, so would end up feeling hungry very quickly.

While I understand and appreciate the convenience of these things, you might want to consider doing some batch cooking on the weekends of things that you can freeze in individual portions to microwave and eat on the way to work. This way you get to control what is going in to it, and make sure that you are getting good nutritional values in a food that you like. Another option is to add portions of frozen or prepped veggies to eat along with these so that you get the nutrition, too.

If it's just about the number on the scale, then it really doesn't matter what foods you choose, just that you maintain a calorie deficit. If it's about getting healthier, then the nutrition is more important. Only you can decide which is more important to you.

SONOFCZAR SparkPoints: (7,360)
Fitness Minutes: (5,205)
Posts: 49
12/17/13 5:16 P

Yeah, you'll still lose weight as long as you are running a calorie deficit, but Chef Boyardee is just white pasta (simple carbs) that will make you retain water, as well as sodium. Definitely not the greatest for weight loss. I'm not opposed to canned food though, as there are lots of options loaded with veggies, and low in sodium, you just have to do your research and make good choices. If you love Chef Boyardee though, eat it, just make is an occasional thing.

EELPIE Posts: 2,700
12/17/13 5:09 P

In the end it's all about calories, how you choose to get them is up to you.

Let's say your were given a range of 1200-1500 calories a day, and you decided that most days you would like to keep to around 1300 calories.

You could eat those calories however you wanted. 1300 in potato chips, 1300 in eggs, 1300 in carrots, 1300 in meat and potatoes. Whatever works for you. It's up to you how to get those 1300 calories.

Everyone here has different tastes and needs. Some people find sodium a problem, so they need to avoid/cut high sodium foods. Some people have a problem with carbs and find they do better lowering their carb intake, or are diabetic. Some people have a problem feeling/staying full and try to include a lot of foods high in fiber. Some people are vegetarian. Some people eat clean and avoid processed foods. Some people just want to eat in the most nutritious manner that they can.

If you want, you can use the nutrient info to see if you are getting a "balanced" diet. Look at your totals to see how they fall as far as protein, fats, carbs. You can also add sodium to be tracked if you wish, some people watch sodium (I do a bit) because sodium (especially found in processed/canned food) can cause people to retain water.

MARLAMICHELLE SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (765)
Posts: 58
12/17/13 4:02 P

I read somewhere that if I eat pasta like Chef Boyardee (even if it's the portion controlled kind with only 170 calories in it) that I will not lose weight, regardless of calories. They also said not to eat anything from like a can and stuff... and I get that, really I do, however...

I eat this stuff because it's quick and easy. I love the Campbell's Soup on the Go and the Chef Boyardee mini ravioli in the tiny tub because I can pop it in the microwave and eat it on the way to work. But is eating this stuff hurting my diet?

I was under the impression that If I worked out and didn't eat trans fats and cut my calories then I'd lose weight, but is that not true?

*you can see what I've eaten on my sparkpage I think. I haven't updated it in a while though, just started to again in the past 2 days

Edited by: MARLAMICHELLE at: 12/17/2013 (16:03)
Page: 1 of (1)  

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