Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I know I have put this in my status updates, but I thought I would blog about it so that you would have more complete information: I have started a group on Facebook that has turned into exactly what I was hoping it would- It is a warm and friendly place for people of all fitness levels to come for advice, inspiration, and sharing. There is some GREAT information to be had, and I am so pleased with the way it's come along. It's called "Better Body" and is a closed group, because some members had issue with people like spouses and trainers (yikes!) see posts about their struggles that they would have rather not been out there for non-group members to read. But, if you click "Request to Join", I or one of my my co-leaders will add you as soon as one of us sees it.
Here's a link: //www.facebook.com/groups/1643755269
If the link doesn't work, go to FaceBook and search "Better Body". The group with the dinner plate, fork and knife as an icon is ours.
I have made it a point that I don't want members to be bombarded with advertising. Heck, I don't even advertise my OWN services there! I don't mind if people post useful links, or progress pictures (please do!), or like things. But if you are looking for a place to sell your companies protein bars or personal services, please find another group because you will find yourself removed from mine in pretty short order.
We would love to see you there.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
After trying many recipes for protein pancakes and finding nothing I considered short of gag-inducing, I came up with my own recipe in sheer desperation of wanting a different way to combine my traditional oatmeal-and-eggs breakfast.
The two key differences in my protein pancakes is that I cook the oatmeal first, and I add baking powder. I think this helps the texture a great deal.
I will be the first to tell you that I am not a purist when it comes to clean eating. It's probably because I am lazy. At any rate, if this recipe does not measure up to someone's clean-eating standards, I apologize in advance, but making a super "clean" recipe wasn't my goal: Making a quick high-protein low-fat thing I cooked in a pan like a pancake and could put sugar-free syrup on was.
One more note, before I share the recipe: This is NOT going to taste like anything like the fluffy white pancakes you get at IHOP. This is simply something I consider edible that won't ruin your dietary goals.
Now that I've completely slammed my own recipe , here it is. I hope someone else can use it!
Nancy Anne's Oatmeal Protein Pancakes:
Cook 1/2 C oats in just enough water to make them really thick.
Next, spray a pan with non-stick spray and heat on Medium-high. (My burner goes from 1-10 and I put it on an 8.)
While the pan is heating, mix into the cooked oats:
- 1 scoop whey protein powder (I use Syntrax Nectar in Chocolate, which has no carbs, but I'm sure whatever you have on hand will work)
- 1/4 C liquid egg whites (or a whole egg, if you aren't concerned about the yolk)
- Small splash of vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of baking powder
- I guess if you wanted you could stir in some sweetener, but I don't.
- You could also add cinnamon and/or some kind of fruit, if you want. I personally don't think cinnamon or fruit belong in pancakes, but whatever floats your boat- It's your taste buds!
By now your pan should be good and hot. Pour about 1/3 of the above mixture into the pan. It should spread out by itself, but if it doesn't push it around until it's a round shape. Cook until the edges look dry, then flip and brown a little on the other side. (At this point it is mostly done, so no need to leave it sitting as long on the second side. You are just trying to make it un-gooey.)
Plate the pancake, take your pan off the heat, spray with non-stick spray again, and repeat two more times. (If you spray it on the heat your spray will scorch and make the pancake taste not as good, never mind make the pan more difficult to clean.)
When you are done, you will have three Oatmeal Protein Pancakes- it's a good sized plate of food! You can top with whatever you want. I use sugar-free syrup and sometimes Smart-Balance light margarine.
Here's a pic of my finished product:
Let me know what you think!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Recently both of my adult daughters, one who is in college and the other who is married to an enlisted Marine (in other words, not much money right now) told me that they try to eat healthier, but it's expensive. And you know what? They're right. Since being more selective about my food choices my grocery budget has gone way, way up. I've been thinking about blogging about this for a while, but I've hesitated because it's a difficult blog to write. First of all, while I am very good at saving money (I was the broke single Mom of four- I can pinch a penny til it squeals!), I am not by any means a guru of all the healthy foods out there, so I certainly don't know every tip available to mankind.
My daughter Alex, however (the one married to the Marine), encouraged me to blog about it so I'm going to give this a shot. But I'm doing it with the warning that this is NOT a blog on how to eat cheap and super-healthy. It's a blog on how to eat healtiER on a budget. Because if your income is severely limited the sad fact is that you probably won't be able to eat 100% clean or have an optimal food supply. There is no way I could afford to eat grass-fed organic meat (expensive!) with every meal.
Having said that, here are some tips you can implement to help reduce your grocery budget while making healthier choices. Pick and choose as they apply to you:
- Eggs! They're usually less than $2 a dozen, and are packed with all sorts of good things for you. Also, a whole egg will usually keep you feeling full for a long time. If you eat two whole eggs with toast and a salad or a piece of fruit, that's a filling and quick meal that costs very little. Also, egg-based dishes like quiche can be made crust-less and poured into a greased pie pan for relatively little money. I have a recipe that uses canned skim evaporated milk (store brand very cheap), cheese (I use 2%- this is a couple of buck), and ham (I buy the cheapest cubed store brand they have). Lots of protein, and the whole thing goes together for about five bucks and lasts at least a couple of nights. More if you are not feeding other people.
- I've done the math and liquid egg whites, while they appear to be expensive per container, are usually less expensive per white than separating the white from a whole egg. Plus, it's a lot more convenient. Having said this, if you want the most nutritional value for your buck, eat two whole eggs and forget about separating whites. You'll get a little more fat and calories, but you'll be full longer for less money.
- Turkey bacon is less expensive than pork bacon and lots lower in fat.
- Frozen veggies, particularly store brand, are economical, usually more nutritious than fresh (fresh usually loses nutrients in shipping and shelf-ripening), and keep better so there is less waste. Make sure they don't have pasta or sauces added. When you see a sale on them and have a few extra bucks, stock up! Then on those days when you are flat broke you can have a veggie omelet and fill your tummy with nutritious food.
- I know everyone touts the benefits of Ezekiel bread, but at $5 a loaf it's almost a mute point to even suggest it to someone on a limited budget. If you can, get double fiber bread. Or at least 100% whole grain. And don't feel guilty about eating packaged bread- You know how much better whole-grain bread is for you than the white junk most Americans consume? Which reminds me: No matter HOW broke you are, don't buy white bread. Bad, bad, bad. It's completely and utterly nutritionally void, and I don't care what kind of stuff they've sprayed in there to "fortify" it. This is one place you need to spend an extra buck.
- Keep in mind that lots of things, like bread and even milk and cheese, freeze. So if you find a really good deal on something, toss it in the freezer until your current supply has run out.
- Skim milk is usually lower priced than other milks that have fat in them. And look for the store brand of milk! It's usually less expensive than name brand. Often people don't realize more than one brand of milk is on the shelf.
- Forget soy, almond, and any other non-milk "milks". First of all, they're expensive, and second of all, their calcium count is usually far below that of cow's milk. Furthermore, I've found that almond and soy milk, while lower in calories, are higher than fat than skim milk (Which has no fat)
- If you are military and have access to a base commissary, USE IT! Particularly for perishable items. Produce, meats, dairy, and frozen foods are almost always significantly less expensive in base commissary's. If they are a bit of a drive away, go once a month or every two weeks to stock up on the staples. On canned items, though, you can often do better price-wise if you buy the Walmart brand.
- If you have an Aldi near you, peruse the aisles of it to see if there are any healthy options. Their milk and produce is usually quite a lot less expensive than a regular grocery store Be sure to bring your own bags and be prepared to fill them yourself after checking out!
- For canned items, get the store brand. The truth is that they are often made in the same facility as the more expensive stuff.
- Check the price of ground turkey breast against the price of lean ground beef. I've been surprised to find in some stores that it is less expensive.
- Speaking of ground beef, be aware of which level of fat is REALLY the best deal. Sometimes the leaner cuts are more expensive by the pound, but when you figure that 1/4 of the bulk will cook out of the cheapest kind in the form of fat, sometimes the leaner beef actually winds up being a better bargain. On the other hand, if you are making a recipe that calls for cooked and drained ground beef and the fattier kind is significantly less expensive, go ahead and get it, making sure to buy 1 1/3 pounds of 75% lean ground beef for every pound of beef called for in your recipe, since 1/3 a pound will cook off as fat. Then after it is done browning rinse it REALLY well with hot water for several minutes in a colander (keep the hot water going after the beef is drained, to keep the fat from clogging up your sink), before proceeding with your recipe. You will be left with beef that is just about, if not as, lean as the 95% lean beef.
- Work beans into your diet frequently. They help take up bulk and stretch meat dishes farther, and are really good for you! And are they ever cheap! Canned are inexpensive (rinse then first to reduce their sodium content), but dried are cheaper yet. You have to soak the dried kind, but they are a wonderful dollar-stretcher.
- If you have a local Farmers Market USE IT! You will get very fresh produce that tastes better and is healthier than anything you can get in a store for a lot less money.
- Buy in bulk. If it is something you know your family will eat a lot of and the price is less per ounce (you need to check), go ahead and stock up. But make sure it won't go bad before you can eat it all.
- Don't buy in bulk. Yeah, I know I am contradicting myself, but if you are trying something for the first time and not sure you will like it, or if you can't eat it before it goes bad, or if the container isn't going to fit in the space you have to store it, buying in bulk is risky business. You could wind up paying $8 for that big box of cereal that you are never gonna touch again, or have to throw away because it spoiled, or your roommate throws away because they are tired of it sitting on the counter since it won't fit in your dinky little dorm cabinet. That eight bucks coulda gone in your gas tank. Better to spend half as much for a much smaller size.
- Fake crab meat. It's an inexpensive and low-fat high protein food that tastes pretty good. With it I make crab enchiladas, crab omelets, crab quiche, and crab salad.
- Canned Tuna in water. It keeps for a ga-zillion years on your shelf and when you're hungry and low on money it's a good, lean source of protein.
- Before you go shopping make menus and a list of everything you will need to cook them, and then stick to it. The one exception here is if you find a great deal on meat in the store- Then it's okay to swap out for one of your more expensive meat meals on your menu list. For this reason, bring your menu list to the store, too. (Mine is typed right into my shopping list- After I get back it hangs on the fridge.)
- Eat in! It's really hard to find a meal you can eat out for less than the price you can eat at home.
If you found yourself saying "I don't like that!", or "My family won't eat that" to all of my above suggestions, then I am sorry, but I can't help you. Sometimes to compromise and save money while eating healthier you just have to eat what is not your favorite. My kids and I learned to like beans when I was a broke single mom. You can, too. What's more important? Your taste buds, or your health?
Additional suggestions would be appreciated! And if you see comments on this blog below, be sure to read them: You might pick up even more tips!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
This is gonna be a real quick blog, and one that most of you probably don't need, thank goodness! But I thought it was worth a mention, because occasionally I have seen on the boards that people don't feel they need to count the oil that they cook food in, such as for a stir fry, on top of the stove. They seem to think it either evaporates, somehow doesn't soak into the food, or the calories go away some other way. This is simply not true! Those calories soak right into your food and are what keeps it from sticking to the pan! Then it goes right into your body.
Also, I've run across more than one person who take copious amounts (I'm talking tablespoons) of coconut oil a day, thinking it will somehow magically make them thinner. Some even eat it right off of the spoon. They don't count the calories, then wonder why they are not losing weight. At 120 calories a tablespoon, these calories can add up very quickly and absolutely stall your weight loss. Just because a fat is a "good fat" does not mean it's good for you if you eat too much. You really CAN have too much of a good thing!
Count your oil in your daily foods!
Thursday, August 04, 2011
I waited until I knew the final verdict of the Gold's Gym Transformation Challenge on a national level before I posted this letter for anyone besides me to see. I guess I didn't want to jinx it. I didn't win nationally but I did win locally, which got me a years free gym membership, which was pretty cool!
I believe I am done with these kinds of challenges for quite a while now. I'm kinda challenged out, I guess. Now I need to just settle into figuring out how to maintain at a body fat percentage I am happy at. But I learned a lot through the process. Here is the letter:
When I initially began the Twelve-Week Transformation Challenge I was focused on the word “Transformation”. I truly wanted to get the last of my excess weight off and transform my body into something I could maintain for the rest of my life. But instead it became more about the word “Challenge”, and in the process I transformed so much more than my physical self: I transformed my attitude. I never realized I was a tenacious person until this challenge, and having that self-belief has helped me to truly transform from the head down. Through this process I have become convinced that true and permanent change takes place between the ears before it takes place in the body.
The biggest obstacle I had to overcome during the past 12 weeks was sticking with it when I found out that our son, who is in the Marine Corps serving in Afghanistan, had stepped on a land mine and was injured. I was at Gold’s getting ready to start a workout when I received the news. I sat down on the edge of a treadmill to get my emotions under control. I had my keys in my hand, ready to go back home. But as I sat there it occurred to me that going home would solve nothing for our son, and would leave me with time to worry about him. On the other hand, if I stayed at the gym and did my workout at least I could channel the energy of my concern for him into something positive: Heaven knows there was nothing I could do to help him at the moment. So I put my keys away, stood up, stepped onto that treadmill, and began my workout- First a light warm-up, then hitting the weights. Let me tell you- there is nothing like lifting heavy to help burn off the jitters and get my head into the healthiest place possible. And I believe finishing my workout kept me from going home, mixing up a big bowl of cookie dough, and eating most of it.
Other obstacles came up in my way over the course of the challenge, as well: I had knee and foot issues and found out that I have arthritis in one and nerve damage in the other. Then I pulled a muscle in my scapula, which led to not being able to exercise for a week. As result of this I had multiple tests and doctors visits and found out I have slightly bulging disks in my neck and consequently a pinched nerve. To accommodate the additional time demands of my medical needs I had to get creative about not only the way I worked out while I healed, but also the time of day I went to the gym.
The entire 12-week period I stayed fastidious with my eating plan, weighing, measuring, and logging my foods. I ate mostly clean, whole foods, and most of the time was careful about balancing my carbs, fats, and protein.
It’s been a wild ride, but I stuck with my goals and I did not give up. I am really proud of myself for that! I believe that’s a bigger accomplishment than any changes that took place in my body.
While I wouldn’t want to go through any of the above again (or put my son through it, thank you very much), I am grateful that through the challenges of the past 12 weeks this shift in attitude has taken place inside me. I genuinely feel better equipped now to take care of my family through all of the challenges life is bound to hand us because of my internal growing process of the last 12 weeks.
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