Portion Control

Alright, here goes; the part where I talk about something no one wants to talk about. Food, and how to eat it the right way.

I need to back up first though. You’ve seen some of my recipes. Going forward you will see plenty more. You’ll also see they wouldn’t all fit into a diet book of any sort. Because, here’s the thing: food should be enjoyed. I truly believe that, and throughout my journey and my experiences, I have continued to harp on this idea. If you are miserable because you’re starving all the time, you’re not fueling your body the way it deserves to be fueled. If you’re undertaking any sort of physical fitness regimen, this is even more important. Food is what keeps you moving, it is your energy source and it should be respected and treated as such.

But, don’t worry, it can also taste great!

Because I recognize that food has a purpose, but also love to eat it (and at one point, I ate a whole lot of it), I’ve learned a lot about portion control. I think that finding foods that are good sources of energy and essential nutrients (with some fun ones thrown in!) and combining those foods with proper portion sizes are essential for healthy behaviors that last.

People ask me about how I eat a lot. I will admit that going gluten free has helped with limiting what’s available. I don’t load up on breads with dinner anymore, carbs are no longer my biggest struggle and I’ve been forced to come to terms with the fact that I need to eat a lot of whole foods to keep moving. But, my biggest secret has been portion control.

Check out the tool found at this link to learn more. By finding ways to relate food portions to real items (think baseballs, computer mouses, etc), it’s easier to understand what’s an appropriate serving size. Paying attention to what’s on the label is equally important, but, I think it’s more important to lean more heavily on items that aren’t in packaged – therefore processed – boxes. I’ve also started eating off of a salad plate. I fill my dish with appropriate portion sizes, allow my family to fill their plates…then I put the food away. By enjoying what’s on my plate, knowing the hassle it will be to go back for seconds…thirds…fourths (you get the picture), it’s easier to enjoy the moment. Can food be linked to positive experiences? Absolutely. But, portion control must be  a part of those experiences. Give it a try!

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Beef Korea with Quinoa and Brown Rice

beef korea

I love Chinese food. I also recognize that eating out is not a great way to make sure your body is receiving the right nutrients, not filled with, well, fillers. This recipe was a hit with the whole family, kids included!

Ingredients:

Beef

  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef (I use 96-4%)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (you can substitute agave)
  • 1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 TB sesame oil
  • 1 heaping tsp fresh minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp dried ginger
  • 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes

Quinoa/Rice Mix

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes

Directions:

Beef

  • Brown the beef over medium heat with garlic, sesame oil and ginger.
  • Drain the fat.
  • Add remaining ingredients and simmer.

Quinoa/Rice

  • Combine quinoa, rice, water and bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until the water has been soaked up.
  • Pour the beef mixture over the quinoa.

Does it get easier than this? No. Is it a good way to get a leaner protein with essential grains? Yes. Try it out and share your thoughts/modifications/etc!

Gluten Free Soft Pretzel Balls

Soft Pretzels

So, here’s the deal. I miss soft pretzels. On some days I would do just about anything for some fresh Auntie Anne’s goodness. I’d say it borders on the realm of desperation.

Having said that, I set out to make my own, gluten free pretzel creations. For those of you new to the gluten free lifestyle, it can be difficult – for me impossible – to roll out dough that’s made with gluten free flour (think Stromboli’s, pretzels, etc). Because of this, I went with pretzel balls. To me shape wasn’t an issue. I wanted the smell and the taste. To cut down on unhealthy factors, i did not coat with melted butter and I did not add additional salt, but those are viable options if anyone is interested.

Here we go.

Ingredients:

  •  2.5 cups warm water (aim for 105 degrees)
  • 4 TB light brown sugar
  • 1 pkg (2.25 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 1 stick melted unsalted butter (or 1/2 a stick and 1/4 cup applesauce)
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt
  • 4.5 cups gluten free flour (I mix white rice flour with Pamela’s all purpose gluten free flour)
  • 2 TB honey
  • Greased bowl (use canola oil)
  • 12 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 TB milk

Directions:

  • Combine water, brown sugar, yeast and butter. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Add the salt, flour and honey, knead with a mixer’s dough hook or your hands until it’s smooth. If consistency is an issue, add more water or flour.
  • Form a ball with the dough and place it in the greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to allow the dough to rise. It should double in size. Hint: heat the oven to 200 degrees. Turn it off and place the dish inside. Gluten free doughs take longer to rise, mine took about 2 hours.
  • Preheat your oven after the dough has risen: 425 degrees.
  • Pull pieces of the dough apart to form balls, and flatten them slightly with your hands.
  • Bring the water to a boil. Add the baking soda SLOWLY: it will fizz. I had a mess with round one.
  • Once the water is boiling, drop in your pretzel balls, allowing them to simmer for 30 seconds, pushing down to make sure they’re completely immersed, I did about 5 at a time.
  • Pull each pretzel out of the water with a flat spoon and drop onto a greased baking sheet. They can be close together since they will not rise after this point.
  • Combine your egg and milk to make an egg-wash and coat each pretzel.
  • Bake for 18 minutes.
  • ENJOY HOT.

A few notes: this was my first attempt. We had company and they were impressed, not knowing they were gluten free. Were they Auntie Anne’s quality? No. But, would I recommend them as an acceptable substitute? Yes!

My Journey

I think that to get to know someone, you must learn about their journey, how they got to where they are and what motivated them…their story. Because of this, I want to share mine. I want to share that I’ve been where you might be, and I get it. I really really do.

I grew up as an athlete. Dance, basketball and softball were driving factors in my life. I took them seriously and my life revolved around them. Then, freshmen year of high school, I had a devastating leg injury, a compound fracture of my tibia/fibula that left me wheelchair bound for 6 months and on crutches for another 6. 1 year and 5 surgeries later, I started to rebuild. But, that year away messed with my athletic skills and left me on the sidelines, the rehab process was long and painful.

In high school I continued eating how I had when I was playing sports, then in college it multiplied. (During this time, I started dating my husband, John. You know how that goes…I ate to keep up with him…not the best plan ever!). We made it through college and the weight came on. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun, I enjoyed life, but, I was also hurting myself with my decisions. Below are a few photos from that time.

Wedding

On our wedding day, one of the best days of my life!

Before 1

Within 6 months of our wedding, I hit the 220 pound mark.

Before 2

Before 4

I want to be sure I am clear on this part. I still had value, I was important and I was loved. Like I mentioned above, some of the best moments of my life happened when I was not living healthily. But, I was also holding myself back. You see, when I was at that place, I felt insecure in what I had to offer (even though there was a lot!). I let negativity override my thoughts and I lost track of what was important to me. I hid from pictures, I knew how to angle myself to minimize my own discomfort. I avoided doctor visits because I didn’t want a weight lecture…I hid myself from the world, and put on a happy face…but inside, I was crumbling.

Fast forward a little bit. In 2010, I got pregnant with my first child, Colin. He was born in December and the pregnancy wasn’t easy. I actually finished the pregnancy 4 pounds lighter than I started it. After having him, I committed to exercise and started running with my husband.I got myself down to 188 lbs, but didn’t change my eating habits. 10 months after Colin was born, I was pregnant again with number 2. The day I found out, I was back up to 200 lbs. My food choices didn’t reflect my life goals.

In June of 2012, Lucas was born. This pregnancy was more difficult than Colin’s, and I lost 35 lbs by the midway point. I gained a little and finished the pregnancy at 178, the lightest I had been since high school. But, I still wasn’t living up to what I could be. I wanted fitness to be a focus as well as eating right. I signed up to run a half marathon in October of that year. I started running with my husband once getting the clear from the doctor and hired a personal trainer, Sam, who became a lifesaver. Here are a few photos of that time.

During 1

My first 5k. I finished in 40 minutes flat and couldn’t have been prouder. This is John crossing the finish with me.

During 2

Enjoying family time!

During 3

I finished my first half marathon (The Hershey Half) after intense training in 2 hours, 14 minutes.

Since then, I’ve taken a lot of turns! I’ve continued the training and started training in a power lifting regimen. I’ve also struggled a lot. Eating and moderating it became an obsession for which I needed outside help. I obsessed over numbers and was terrified for the scale to go up; I realized quickly that being at a healthy weight does not mean you’re living a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve learned to break away from the unhealthy habits, to focus on my family and on living life the way it should be. I’ve also learned that the scale is just a number, fitness is more than that.

Here’s where I am today:

After 1

Mother’s Day with one of my favorite little men.

After 2

My second half. I won my age group and finished in 1:50.

After 3

My first tough mudder, with two of the best sisters and supporters a girl could ask for.

After 4

Enjoying life is what it’s all about.

A few things I want to close with: I want to be sure I drive home the fact that happiness should not be equated with the number on the scale. Every single person is here for a reason and their importance should be celebrated and recognized. But, fitness should be acknowledged. Eating right and getting the right amount of activity lead to less stress and overall health; these ARE important.

Regardless of where you are on your journey, I want to take the time to encourage you. There’s an awesome future ahead of you, and it might take some work, but even taking the time to read this shows that you’re motivated. Find your passion and set ACHIEVABLE goals. You’ve got so much to offer and so many experiences to share…so follow along with me and take the time to share your own journey.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Bites

Strawberry Goat Cheese Bites

Strawberry Goat Cheese Bites

Recently I hosted a Java and Jewelry party for Premier Designs. I love brunch food, but, wanted something with a little bit of a bite that still fit the theme. These were perfect!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 TB sugar OR Agave
  • 1 package of gluten free crisps (check out the selection of Schar offered in your local store).
  • 4 ounce package of goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 TB extra light olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Putting it Together:

  1. Combine the strawberries and sugar, allowing them to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Combine the goat cheese, sour cream, basil, oregano and black pepper until smooth.
  3. Spread a layer of the cheese mixture over the crisps, top with strawberries.
  4. Mix the oil and vinegar, sprinkle over the crisps.
  5. Serve immediately to avoid allowing the crisps to get soggy.

4-Step Circuit

Setting up a circuit is an excellent form of cross-training. In fact, I find I’m able to get more out of a 20 minute circuit than a 5 mile run when I commit to putting everything I have into it…here’s my most recent.

What you need:

  • Muscle Ball
  • Small stepping block
  • Yoga Ball
  • 2 Hand Dumbbells

The Steps:

  1. Muscle Ball Slams: Standing with feed a little wider than your shoulders, hold the muscle ball in both hands over your head. With total effort, while keeping your core tight, slam the ball down on the ground in front of you, catching it as it bounces back up. Repeat x 10.
  2. Side to Side Push-ups: Start in a push up position (or modified position with your knees on the ground), with one hand on the ground and the other on the block. Do a push up. Switch so your other hand is on the block and do a push up. Repeat x 10.
  3. Dead Bugs: Lay flat on your back holding the muscle ball in the air with both hands and both feet (think: dead bug position). At the same time, bring your left foot and right arm down to the ground while your other hand and foot keep the ball above your body. Switch sides. Repeat x 10.
  4. Walking Lunges: Hold a dumbbell on each side hanging down by your legs. Lunge, making sure to keep your knee above your ankle on your forward foot, not over extending. Repeat with the other side, moving forward. Do 10 out and 10 back (for a total of 20).

Repeat the circuit 8 times (or work with where you are).

Goal: Do it faster than the last time you did it, do not let yourself get slower. I try to add this circuit into my routine once a week, try it out!