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My Kitchen is for Dancing: Cheesy Alfredo Spaghetti Squash

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

....and so begins my quest to find yummy vegetarian recipes.

Last night's first try was Spaghetti Squash. I've never had it before, but it comes up everywhere as the new suggestion for a healthy and light alternative to pasta. It's low-carb and gluten-free, but even if you aren't concerned with your carbs or gluten, spaghetti squash is a low-calorie alternative to pasta. It's not heavy and holds up well with sauces and toppings without getting soggy. It's a beautiful veggie and delicious too, with a slight sweetness to the squash noodles that compliments any savory flavours you put on it.

I love my pasta. And since becoming a vegetarian I find I eat more and more of it. Which can be dangerous if you over do it. I'm not so concerned about my intake of carbs, as long as it's within range, but I am on a journey to get the very most out of my meals. Who wants to eat pasta every single day?

Okay, maybe I do.

But when you're watching your caloric intake, one serving of pasta isn't exactly the same as what you're used to. The days of sitting down and eating a bowl of nothing but Fettuccine Alfredo are gone. I know, it's sad. Thinking about saying goodbye to those creamy's just, no I'm not crying I just have some bad eating habits in my eye, ok?

Spaghetti Squash could be everything I need to turn my frown upside down. So I was pretty excited to get cooking when I got home.

I started by putting my squash in the slow cooker before I left for work in the morning. 6-8 hours on low with a 1/2 cup of water in the bottom. When I got home I had a fully cooked squash. I let it sit for 15 minutes to cool.

Once it was cool, I cut it in half - which was a lot easier than I thought it was would be. I scooped out the seeds and guts, careful not to take much of the actual squash. It know it smelt good because my cat, Tiny Monster, was pretty vocal in her desire to get at what I had.

Once the squash was cleaned out, I took a fork and shredded the pumpkin. What you end up with is squash noodles.

I put Alfredo sauce into each half and mixed it with the squash noodles, then sprinkled in some shredded parmesan, salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste. I topped each half with mozzarella cheese and set the plate inside the oven under the broiler until the cheese melted and got a nice brown to it.

The results were excellent! Definitely a make-again recipe. Next time, my husband will get to have some too. It was bubbly, hot, creamy and gooey. What would have been easily a 600 calorie bowl of noodles was cut down to 375 calories. And best of all, vegetarian, without being boring!

If you haven't introduced meatless meals into your week, this is one to try. Reducing your meat intake is better for your health, for the environment and for the animals. Check out #MeatlessMonday online for more ideas!

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NOWYOUDIDIT 7/19/2014 2:49PM

    YUM!!! Thanks for sharing! Great pictures too! I will make this! emoticon

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A Few Personal Points of Honesty.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

This post will serve as a venting and a healthy dose of reality for myself. These are just a couple of things that have been weighing (get it?) on my mind lately that need to be expressed - like a slap in the face!

1. I'd always heard that getting married could really derail any health and fitness goals you had if you weren't careful. The new marriage 15, honeymoon weight gain, the blissful packing-on of pounds (people don't really say those phrases, I just made them up.) I swore to myself I wouldn't let it happen to me, because I was so dedicated to my new lifestyle I'd had for 2 years, so motivated by how happy my new body and new confidence made me. But surprise! My husband and I have both easily gained 10 pounds. If not more for me. I'm too scared to weigh myself. The most embarrassing part about it is that nothing has changed in our relationship - we're still long distance and only see each other on weekends, so how is that we've both completely stopped working out and eating healthy meals when literally all that's changed is a signing of a marriage license? Oy Vey. At some point we'll just stop having sex and rub our bellies together instead, I'm sure of it.

2. I keep telling myself I haven't gained that much weight. But between looking at my wedding pictures from October and the pictures we took at the zoo this past weekend I'm no longer able to deny the reality of the situation. Ignorance was blissful. Alas, the love handles are back; that bulge of fat that pops out under my bra strap is back; my legs are getting cellulite-y again. Things are not looking promising and if I don't stop it now I'm going to be overweight again in no time at all. And since I already tossed out all my fat clothes I really have no choice but to get back into my healthy shape. I just can't bring myself to spend good money on fat pants. Fat pants aren't worth it!

3. But the trouble is I'm finding it so hard to find any motivation. I suppose that brings me back to honesty point #1 - I've been long distance wil my husband for 2 years, married for 9 months of that time and the longer we're apart (waiting and waiting and waiting for immigration paperwork to be processed) the more depressed I get. The only time I perk up is Friday because I know I get to see him. How pathetic to admit. My independant feminist side that my husband fell in love with is being buried in jogging pants and eating ice cream from a carton on a Wednesday evening. What is HAPPENING to me? All I can do when I get home in crawl under the covers and watch Netflix until my eyes start to burn. All the while munching on anything I can find in my cupboards. I used to cook, like really cook, and be excited about trying new recipes and new foods to elevate my healthy lifestyle...last night I had poptarts and a bag of tortilla chips for dinner. Who AM I? Only college freshmen and bachelors eat like this.

4. I hate to admit it, but I think part of my problem with not cooking as much is that in May I decided to become a vegetarian. Emotionally, morally and physically I just cannot eat animals anymore. It was the right decision for my life and I don't miss eating meat at all. I only ever really ate chicken anyway. But now that I'm without chicken, I've realized what a big staple it was in any meal I made. It was my dinner with a salad, or the meat on my wraps for lunch. Since ditching meat, I'm finding it so difficult to plan meals. Every recipe out there is either pasta or tofu or pasta with tofu. Okay, not every recipe out there,but it starts to feel that way. On the bright side, I do really enjoy tofu and I've learned how to make a pretty tasty crunchy version.

So to combat all of these things I've decided to start using this blog as a creative food and life journal rather than using it for the random occasional posts I've been doing since joining. I think I'll call the series "My Kitchen is for Dancing." Feeling healthy makes me happy. I'll post the recipe I tried for dinner, a little bit about my day and pictures to accompany it all. It should be fun :)

Feeling like I have things to accomplish makes me feel fulfilled. And being creative gives me motivation and energy and a sense of who I really am as a person. If I can combine all these things into this new journal style I think I'll be able to reach my goals in a way that is fun and exciting, not daunting and depressing. And maybe no one will read the posts, but that's ok. It's the creativity and the push towards my goals that counts.

Because if I've learned anything recently, it's this:

So, now that I've slapped myself in the face with a heavy dose of what is going wrong in my healthy lifestyle commitment, it's time to get back on track! Bye bye under bra strap fat!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NOWYOUDIDIT 7/10/2014 3:36AM

    emoticon Makes me think of the song "Don't Worry- Be Happy"!! LOL!! O.K. very simplistic- BUT you'll figure it out! :o) If life was so simple we'd probably get bored. I've been married 38 years, known him 44 years. ( I was 13 and he was 16 when we met) He stays thin and watches my weight go up and down. I eat good for you foods- he eats crap!

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    Thank you, Evie4Now for the comment :) Yes I definitely eat when I'm down in the dumps. But I also eat when I'm happy. LOL classic emotional eater I suppose? I think I get it from my mother. But it's all about breaking those habits, right? Definitely need a busy schedule during the week to keep me busy and motivated. Before I got married my hobbies were working out and cooking and some art (I love to draw), but I've let my bad moods override any motivation I've had to do those things. Funny thing though, when I do them I'm instantly happier. Must be the chemicals releasing in my brain. Gotta get back into the groove! I think combining those three things is really going to help perk me up.

Comment edited on: 7/9/2014 11:47:03 AM

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EVIE4NOW 7/9/2014 11:27AM

  I read your post lol. You are probably going to hate my reply. I have found over the years (and yes, I'm still married for the first time, as is my husband a first timer too (for almost 43 years) that when I'm happy, I eat. When I'm content, I eat but better and when I'm depressed I don't eat. When we were first married, I gained. Along came son #1 with birth defects and I lost. Same pattern over the years. Now, I am not telling you to be depressed, just look back and understand how your body works. Everybody and every body is different. You say you eat when you are depressed, well, talk to yourself and demand you treat yourself to a treat of a wholesome meal. One other thing, it might help to draw you out from under the covers if you find a hobby. There are many classes at craft stores or local colleges that will teach you how to knit, crochet, embroider, sew, quilt or even woodworking or soldering. Find you niche. Good luck.

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New Season. New Change.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

“Now I can look at you in peace; I don't eat you any more.” ― Franz Kafka

For as long as I can remember - and even for as long as I can't - I have had a deep emotional attachment to animals.

My father took a video of me as a 3 year-old girl watching Alice in Wonderland and running up to the TV when Alice falls down the hole. I'm crying and slapping the TV with tiny toddler hands because Alice's cat is sad that she can't go with Alice down the hole.

I had the same reaction to Peter Pan when Nana, the family dog, is sprinkled with fairy dust and starts to float float float up to go to Neverneverland with everyone else only to be yanked back down because she's leashed to her dog house.

As an adult, things haven't changed, although I refrain from slapping the TV and crying around my husband.

I made a choice as a ten-year old that I wouldn't eat cow or pigs. At the time, it was mostly because I didn't like steak or pork, and because as a ten year old I really though cows and pigs were super cute so I didn't want to think about eating them. I've mostly stuck to that decision since then - aside from the occasional burger, usually around that time of the month.

I adopted my pets from shelters, I've signed 100s of animal rights petitions. And for 18 years I only ate chicken and fish and the occasional turkey leg. I felt like I really love and understood animals more than other people. That I cared more and so I was doing good.

When I met my husband 2 years ago he opened my eyes to "factory farming", the reality of what all animals are subjected to because of a human culture that wants as much food as possible as fast as possible. Torture, pain, indignity, abuse, fear and sadness. I've slowly, since then, educated myself more and more to what it means to be a meat-eater and I decided I simply can't live with myself any longer if I don't change.

The catalyst for me was really a bull by the name of Boris. If you don't know his story, please take a few minutes out of your day to watch this video:

Sick and dying, Boris cried. I'd never seen a cow cry before. It has changed everything for me. Can you imagine, if a cow can cry because he's sick and knows he's dying, how a cow in a slaughter house feels? How a mother cow who's had her baby ripped away from her feels? I can not participate in this culture of murder and pain any longer. It is too gut-wrenching.

So today is my first step on my journey to become a vegetarian and leave my hypocritical ways behind. I cannot love animals the way I do and continue to eat them and support their murder.

“Animals are my friends...and I don't eat my friends.” ― George Bernard Shaw

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” ― Paul McCartney

“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.” ― Leo Tolstoy

“By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

“People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.” ― Isaac Bashevis Singer

“Whether we change our lives or do nothing, we have responded. To do nothing is to do something.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer

“Do you eat chicken because you are familiar with the scientific literature on them and have decided that their suffering doesn't matter, or do you do it because it tastes good?” ― Jonathan Safran Foer

If you're interested in educating yourself on why, even if you don't want to be vegan or vegetarian, you should be buying local and organic, please watch Food Inc., Death on a Factory Farm, A River of Waste: The Truth about Factory Farms, Earthlings or Meet Your Meat - all available on Youtube. Or check out the undercover investigations that have been done by Mercy for Animals. They have brought attention to the realities of factory farms and fight for the humane treatment of animals every day. It's really amazing and deserves to be known.

Do yourself a favour.


Food. A Special Reminder.

Monday, February 10, 2014

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NOWYOUDIDIT 2/10/2014 3:49PM

    emoticon So true!! emoticon

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VK2Z10 2/10/2014 9:32AM

    this is SO true. I try to remember this.

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"An Open Apology Letter to All of My Weight Loss Clients"

Monday, August 19, 2013

Originally posted by Your Fairy Angel's blog. Struck a nerve with me. Take some time to read it. Enjoy.

"I worked at a popular weight loss company for 3 years. I loved my job there. I LOVED my clients. I loved making a connection and sharing my knowledge. And I learned a lot about nutrition, about dieting and weight loss and what works and what doesn't. My job was to be a weight loss consultant, and I learned that job very well. I can design a 1200 calorie meal plan, tell you which activities are most likely to make the number on the scale go down, and how many carbs are in a cup of rice. I can talk the diet game like it's my business...because it was. Volumize with vegetables. Don't go too long in between meals. Start with a bowl of broth-based soup. Are you drinking enough water? Did you exercise enough? Did you exercise too much? Let's look at your food journal...

This is not an anti-weight loss company post (although I could write that too). It's a letter to each and every woman that I unknowingly wronged. My heart is beating a little bit faster as I write this, and so I know this needs to be said. The words have been playing in my head for months. Sometimes it just takes time for me to get up the courage to say the right thing.

So here goes:

Dear Former Weight Loss Clients (you know who you are):

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry because I put you on a 1200 calorie diet and told you that was healthy. I'm sorry because when you were running 5x a week, I encouraged you to switch from a 1200 calorie diet to a 1500 calorie diet, instead of telling you that you should be eating a hell of a lot more than that. I'm sorry because you were breastfeeding and there's no way eating those 1700 calories a day could have been enough for both you and your baby. I'm sorry because you were gluten intolerant and so desperate to lose weight that you didn't put that on your intake form. But you mentioned it to me later, and I had no idea the damage you were doing to your body. I'm sorry because I think I should have known. I think I should have been educated better before I began to tell all of you what was right or wrong for your body.

I'm sorry because I made you feel like a failure and so you deliberately left a message after the center had closed, telling me you were quitting. I thought you were awesome and gorgeous, and I'm sorry because I never told you that. I'm sorry because you came in telling me you liked to eat organic and weren't sure about all the chemicals in the food, and I made up some BS about how it was a "stepping stone." I'm sorry because many of you had thyroid issues and the LAST thing you should have been doing was eating a gluten-filled, chemically-laden starvation diet. I'm sorry because by the time I stopped working there, I wouldn't touch that food, yet I still sold it to you.

I'm sorry because it's only years later that I realize just how unhealthy a 1200 calorie diet was. I stayed on a 1200-1500 calorie diet for years, so I have the proof in myself. Thyroid issues, mood swings, depression, headaches...oh and gluten intolerance that seemed to "kick in" after about a month of eating the pre-packaged food. Was it a coincidence? Maybe.

I'm sorry because you had body dysmorphic disorder, and it was so painful to hear the things you said about yourself. You looked like a model, and all of my other clients were intimidated by you, asked me why you were there because clearly you didn't need to lose weight. And yet you would sit in my office and cry, appalled that a man might see you naked and be disturbed by the fat that didn't actually exist. I'm sorry because you should have been seeing a therapist, not a weight loss consultant.

I'm sorry because you were young and so beautiful and only there because your mother thought you needed to lose weight. And because there were too many of you like that. Girls who knew you were fine, but whose mothers pushed that belief out of you until you thought like she did. Until you thought there was something wrong with you. And the one time I confronted your mother, you simply got switched to a different consultant. I think I should have made more of a stink, but I didn't. I'm sorry because you were in high school and an athlete, and I pray that you weren't screwed up by that 1500 calorie diet. Seriously, world? Seriously? A teenage girl walks in with no visible body fat and lots of muscle tone, tells you she's a runner and is happy with her weight...but her mother says she's fat and has to lose weight and so we help her do just that. As an individual, as women, as a company, hell, as a nation, we don't stand up for that girl? What is wrong with us? There ain't nothing right about that. Nothing.

I'm sorry because every time you ate something you "shouldn't" or ate more than you "should," I talked about "getting back on the bandwagon." I cringe now every time someone uses that phrase. When did the way we eat become a bandwagon? When did everyone stop eating and become professional dieters? I'm sorry because I get it now. If you're trying to starve your body by eating fewer calories than it needs, of course it's going to fight back. I used to tell you that then, when you wanted to eat less than 1200 calories a day. The problem was, I thought 1200 was enough. I thought that was plenty to support a healthy body. Why did I believe that for so long? I'm sorry because I wasn't trying to trick you or play games to get your money. I believed the lies we were fed as much as you did.

And it wasn't just the company feeding them to me. It was the doctors and registered dietitians on the medical advisory board. It was the media and magazines confirming what I was telling my clients. A palm-sized portion of lean chicken with half a sweet potato and a salad was PLENTY. No matter that you had "cravings" afterward. Cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Yeah, sure they are. I'm a hypnotherapist with a past history of binge eating disorder. I KNOW cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Except when they're not. Except when they're a sign that your body needs more food and you're ignoring it. Then they're a sign that your 1200 calorie diet is horse****. Then they're a sign that you've been played.

And that's mostly why I'm sorry. Because I've been played for years, and so have you, and inadvertently, I fed into the lies you've been told your whole life. The lies that say that being healthy means nothing unless you are also thin. The lies that say that you are never enough, that your body is not a beautiful work of art, but rather a piece of clay to be molded by society's norms until it becomes a certain type of sculpture. And even then, it is still a work in progress.

I owe you an apology, my former client and now friend, who I helped to lose too much weight. Who I watched gain the weight back, plus some. Because that's what happens when you put someone on a 1200 calorie diet. But I didn't know. If you're reading this, then I want you to know that you have always been beautiful. And that all these fad diets are crap meant to screw with your metabolism so that you have to keep buying into them. I think now that I was a really good weight loss consultant. Because I did exactly what the company wanted (but would never dare say). I helped you lose weight and then gain it back, so that you thought we were the solution and you were the failure. You became a repeat client and we kept you in the game. I guess I did my job really well.

And now I wonder, did I do more harm than good? When I left, you all wrote me cards and sent me flowers. I still have those cards, the ones that tell me how much I helped you, how much I cared. But I'm friends with some of you on Facebook now, and I look at your photos and you look happy. And beautiful. And not because you lost weight since I saw you last. But because I see YOU now. You. Not a client sitting in my chair, asking for my assistance in becoming what society wants. But you, a smart and lovely woman, who really doesn't need some random company telling her there's something wrong with her.

So I'm sorry because when you walked in to get your meal plan, I should have told you that you were beautiful. I should have asked you how you FELT. Were you happy? Did you feel physically fit? Were you able to play with your kids? There were so many of you who never needed to lose a pound, and some of you who could have gained some. And maybe sometimes I told you that. But not enough. Not emphatically. Because it was my job to let you believe that making the scale go down was your top priority. And I did my job well.

I am sorry because many of you walked in healthy and walked out with disordered eating, disordered body image, and the feeling that you were a "failure." None of you ever failed. Ever. I failed you. The weight loss company failed you. Our society is failing you.

Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It's really just that. Nonsense.

And I can't stop it. But I can stop my part in it. I won't play the weight loss game anymore. I won't do it to my body, and I won't help you do it to yours. That's it. End game."


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NOWYOUDIDIT 8/19/2013 2:53PM

    Thank You for sharing that- all I can say is Wow! too!
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TRIXIETEXAS 8/19/2013 1:38PM

    Wow. That is really, incredibly powerful and honest. Thank you for posting that.

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