Thursday, August 28, 2008

Know What You're Eating....Apricot Lentil Soup

Geez, Louise! Lately I've been doing a much tighter job on calorie counting because it seems as if I've been getting lazy, and a little "wishful" about how much food I eat. It's been time to look closer at the foods, and the amount of food, I've been putting in my mouth lately.

When I was Shopping with Fawn at her grocery store, Mississippi Market, I was cruising the ready made soup section and saw this flavor I had never heard of before and sounded like an interesting combination, Apricot Lentil. I took a picture so I'd remember the name, and I tried to take a picture of the ingredients so I could attempt it on my own, but it was easy to find the recipe online, and so I tried it out early yesterday. Here's a copy from

Apricot lentil soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dried apricots
1 1/2 cups red lentils
5 cups chicken stock
3 roma (plum) tomatoes - peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Saute onion, garlic, and apricots in olive oil. Add lentils and stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes, and season with cumin, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in lemon juice. Puree 1/2 of the soup in a blender, then return to the pot. Serve.

I reduced the oil to 2 tbl., added a few jalapenos and one red bell, with the onions,(I know, I know, kind of predictable, lol), and used some chicken stock I made from the bones of the grilled chicken leftover from this last weekends party. The caloric information was about 250 per serving, 6 servings.

The recipe made only 6 cups of soup, making each serving only 1 cup! WHAT? Who can eat one stinkin' cup of soup? (picture above is one cup of soup inside my regular soup bowl, lol!) Unfortunately I had eaten about 1 1/2, maybe 2 cups, before I realized this, even thinning out my serving with extra stock to increase the volume of soup, without adding calories. The damage was in the 1 1/2 c. lentils @ 170 per 1/4 cup (dry), because the only other ingredients with any calories, really, was the oil, and the dried apricots.

When I make a soup with a carb as a main ingredient, I'll usually use my 'base veggie soup' as a way to extend the serving size while keeping the soup full veggies and flavor without the calories. So, I would combine 1 "carb soup" serving with a couple of cups base veggie soup, that way I could get a little more substance and texture from whatever carb, like beans or grains, maybe even pasta, and satisfy my little tummy! Besides, most soup recipes don't have near the amount of vegetables that I like to include in my meals, this one a perfect example....only 1 onion, and 3 tomatoes....I mean, come on now!

Lesson? Know what you're eating, or admit that you don't, and when you're not losing weight, or not losing fast enough consider that your calories are still too high and you are eating too much food, which is why I did the calorie count on my squash soup in a previuos blog post. I've had to be brutally honest about how much food I've been eating lately, because I say I want to weigh less, and now I mean it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And the Winner is....Quinoa Salad

I hosted a bridal shower for my neice, Dana, on Sunday at my house, I considered making quiches, but at the last minute decided to put into practice the recipes and salad making methods I learned from hanging out with Fawn and watching her prepare food for 2 barbeques she hosted at her home this past summer. She has a talent for creating layers of texture and flavors, making 3 different salads that could easily stand alone. Working as a former professional Chef, Fawn is also well educated and experienced about nutrition, always chosing the freshest organic foods of the highest quality.

The 3 salads I made were;

Quinoa salad with roasted corn, sweet tomatoes, and baby greens. Dressed with cilantro jalapeno and pistachio pesto with a squeeze of lime, topped with queso fresco.

Cabbage and Black Bean Slaw with a spicy chipotle, tomato dressing.

Potato, Spinach and Bean Salad made with purple chinese long beans and white and green string beans, dressed with Fawn's lemon and scallion vinaigrette.

Geez, all that? It's much simpler than it sounds! The favorite was the Quinoa salad, the spicey slaw came in second, but all three were, in my opinion, fabulous!


Quinoa salad (pictured above....sorry it's a day old, lol!)

quinoa (I made mine with corn stock I had in my freezer)
roasted corn
baby salad greens
queso fresco cheese
cilantro pesto....or you could add 1 bunch cilantro chopped fine, and dress it with oil and lime

don't forget to season with salt.

Cilantro pesto

1 bunch cilantro, thick stems removed
1 clove garlic
1 jalapeno
1/4 c. pistachio nuts
1/2 c. olive oil
good pinch of salt

Cabbage and Black Bean Slaw

green and red cabbage, shredded
carrot, shredded
green onions, sliced
jalapeno, diced (of course, lol)
red bell, diced
black beans

Spicy chipotle dressing

2 canned chipotle peppers
1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes in oil (I used 1/2 c. roasted roma tomatoes I had made the day before)

2 tbl. cider vinegar
2 tbl. lemon juice
1/2 c. mayo
3/4 c. plain yogurt
good pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a blender. You can use any ratio of mayo to yogurt, this makes about 1 1/2 c. dressing.

Potato, Spinach and Bean Salad

small red potatoes, or any other waxy potato, blanched
chinese long beans, blanched and cut into 2" lengths
string beans, blanched and cut into 2" lengths (used white and green....I got them in CSA box this week)
spinach, chopped
green onions

Purple chinese long beans are in season right now, and I blanch them for about 4-5 minutes before I cut them into smaller lengths because they're hollow and I find that they get 'water-logged' if cut prior to blanching. Also, watching Fawn make potato salad I was reminded to toss the drained hot potatoes with cider vinegar (about 1/4 c) for an extra flavor boost...I had forgotten about that little secret! Blanch all of the beans first and then the potatoes.

Lemon and Scallion Vinaigrette

1/3-1/2 c. lemon juice
sliced scallion tops (6-8 inches of the green part) from one healthy bunch
grainy mustard, about 1 tbl.
honey, to taste, about 2 tbl.
oil 1 c.
good pinch of salt

I couldn't remember if Fawn used mustard, but I chose to use it for this salad because I like mustard with potatoes!

I served these salads with ribs and grilled chicken, fresh fruit....grapes, red purple and green....sliced pineapple, watermelon and honey dew melon balls! Geez. what a 'copycat'...thanks Fawn!

Life is good, salads are good and friends like Fawn Friday are good! Am I lucky or what?

No More Squash Soup...well at least for a while

Here's my crazy thought process....

Once I found out that summer squash's natural sugars start to turn to starch the moment it's cut from the vine...making it it's sweetest when prepared and eaten ASAP....I could never buy it in a grocery store again, much less get it from any other source but from someones garden or the farmers market, when the blossoms are still attached or the end cut is still freshly seeping.

So, since Wayne's garden is so prolific in summer squash production this year I find myself buying pounds and pounds of it, not wanting it to "go to waste", or missing my opportunity to eat such nutritious freshness. But enough is enough. It's killing me to not "get, while the gettin's good", and although I'm not even sick of it yet, I'm only one person and I've got enough!

Last week I bought fresh squash from Wayne (and about 7lbs of tomatoes too), AND I got squash in my CSA box, AND I traded my big red beets for....what else...more freakin' squash! So I got out my 8qt stock pot sauteed onion, jalapeno and kale stems, threw all of the squash (cut up) with about 6 c. chicken stock and made over 4 quarts of fresh squash, jalapeno and kale soup. I was curious to get an exact calorie count for my own purposes, since I eat so much of it, I was careful to weigh all ingredients.

Here's the calorie breakdown;

5 lbs summer squash 495 cal.
1 lg onion 64 cal.
4 jalapenos 16 cal.
1 lb kale 70 cal.
2 tbl. oil 200 cal.

chicken stock 0 cal.

These amounts made 17 pints of soup for a total of 845 calories, that's about 50 cal. per wonder I eat this way! 4 cups of soup = 100 calories. I froze most of this soup in 1 and 2 pint containers (2 & 4 cups). I love this soup with the addition of roasted corn, but you can add any grain like brown rice or quinoa and any other veg, another favorite is blanched chinese long bean, which I had for dinner last night. Don't forget to add a protein to make it a meal.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sitting on the Fence thinking about Food and Thought while Living my Physical Potential

I can't believe I haven't posted here in over a week. I left for St. Paul last Thursday and I was able to get quite a bit of work done in the airport, editing the photos I took about how to clean and store fresh veggies, and although I never got around to writing that blog post on my trip, it was my intention to get it done when I got home, first thing. Now here it is, Sunday, and as I sit down at 5am to finally cross it off of my "to do" list, and somehow all of the pictures I took are where to be least for now, I'm moving on.

So I guess it's fitting that all week I have been thinking about merging my 2 blogs back together into one. I like my blog to look full and exciting, not to mention I kind of like my life's journal to be all in one place. So why did I seperate them to begin with? ( I started writing this Sunday morning, for my Food and Thought Blog, and just now getting back to it Monday morning deciding to finish it for this Blog)

I started Food and Thought because I wanted to express my thoughts about the craziness of food and eating away from the judgement of some people that read my other blog for the KB training information. I don't consider my eating habits to be a struggle, a fight, or a flaw, more of a mystery than anything, and sometimes I feel like trying to solve the mystery and sometimes I don't. My eating habits are just that...habits. The way I eat food is a habit I'd like to re-establish in another way and I am doing just that, by making different choices that bring me closer, and to, living my life feeling good inside and out.

When I was fat, food never gave me grief, I just ate, and ate and ate, whatever I wanted and as much as I wanted, I accepted the trade off. I was happy, for the time, living in my mouth and ignoring the rest of my body until my body started giving me grief. In the last year before I started regaining my health I thought I was developing IBD (irritable bowel syndrome), and that was no fun! Still I didn't think of the possibilty that it was connected to my obesity or the foods I was eating, I blamed it more on my age...can you believe that? It wasn't until I lost the extra weight that all of my physical ailments disappeared...completely! No aching feet, no knee or back problems, no heartburn, acid reflux or snoring, IBD! Who knows what was going on that I didn't know about, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, etc..

I also started Food and Thought because I love preparing, cooking and eating food. Through some miracle I was able to find ways of cooking and preparing all of my own foods in ways that helped me lose 120 puonds of extra bodyweight in about a years time and I wanted to share my experience. I didn't learn to cook until my 30's, before that I rarely cooked any other meat besides ground beef. I had never roasted a chicken, much less made homemade chicken stock, practically weekly, and my own soups exclusively. I had never made a salad that included anything but lettuce, tomato, maybe some canned garbanzo beans, and bottled dressing. I had never cooked or eaten or even purchased foods like cabbage, kale, brussels, beets (or certainly not beet greens, one of my favorites). I had never cooked a winter squash, much less could tell you what one was. I couldn't tell one fresh herb from another, I could go on and on. I am so passionate about fresh live foods that I want every one to eat this way.

I started Food and Thought because I thought these two subjects were seperate from my training, and now I see they're not. I recently changed the name of my blog from 'Rediscovering Strenth' to 'Living My Physical Potential'......I rediscovered my'm strong, that I it was time to move forward. I originally was going to rename it 'Living My Athletic Potential', and I'm able to live my athletic potential because of my kettlebell training, but also because of the changes I've made in my diet, therefore my health attributing to my ability to establish fitness. It's all connected. It's all me. This is who I am and this what I do.

I have lots to say, based on my experience. I have lots of hope, based on my experience, and I'm living proof that anyone and everyone can realize their athletic potential and live their physical potential everyday. It's never too late to experience your potential.

Potential; the inherent ability or capacity for growth, development, or coming into being.

Potential is not perfection. Potential is not perfection.

I posted this twice, trying to delete it from this blog, but failing and deleting it from my other blog...I know I confuse myself sometimes, anyway.....I'm just going to leave it in both places because it's taken me 2 days to get this out of my head, so I guess it deserves two posts, lol!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Curry Yogurt more time!

I spent alot of time writing the other blog post, but here's the basic dressing recipe for my cabbage salad. This afternoon I will write more about washing, storing and prepping fresh veggies because I'll be picking up my CSA box and can take some pictures to demonstrate, as I'm leaving for the FMS workshop in St Paul tomorrow, and I can't cook or eat my veggies until I get back, so storage is important.

Curry dressing

1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup mayo
2 tbl. honey or sugar
2 tbl apple cider vinegar
1 tbl. lemon or lime juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1-2 tsp. curry powder

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Use it or Lose it Salad

Last Thursday, the day Mark and I left for LA, I didn't have time for any kind of serious workout so I decided to "kill 2 birds with one stone" and take 30 minutes to walk down to the Mexican market and pick up 2 ingredients, Queso Fresco cheese and brown rice, to make a salad of some of the fresh veggies I had in my fridge before I left.

I had forgotten about the 2 bunches of radishes I bought at the farmers market, and radish greens usually don't last for more than a couple of days....and I have a hard time wasting food so I had to use them or lose them!

I pressure cooked the brown rice and when it was done, while steamin' hot I threw the radish greens and the last of the yellow chard in to wilt. I used a splash of olive oil and lime juice, added the rest of the veggies and crumbled some queso fresco cheese on top...voila....I had lunch for the afternoon and plenty that would keep for my return home (in fact thank goodness it was in the fridge, it was the first thing I ate after my Max V02 workout on Monday!)

Salad veggies

radishes and radish greens

yellow chard

tomato (3 small)

roasted corn

green onions


I rarely use cheese, not because I don't like cheese, but because as I do my calorie count per meal I start with my protein, then fat, and then carb, (if I'm using one) those are the calorie dense components. If I have any room for more calories I can add other stuff, but my protein count is 150-250 cal., my fat is almost always 100-150 calories, and the carb 100-170 cal. I count my mountain of veggies as 100 calories, so there you have it 450-650 calories in one room for cheese! In the case of this salad I didn't add protein, but I could have left out the oil (I found it didn't need it) and added some chicken or any other leftover meat protein.

Spanish for "cheese." Queso fresco has a testure similar to farmer's cheese. It's a crumbly white cheese made from partially skimmed milk, lightly tangy and sold in small round cakes. Queso fresco is used for fillings and crumbled into soups and over sauces. Queso fresco is often called queso blanco.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Open Bar

Mark an I spent four days attending the LA RKC, which was held at UCLA. Our accomodations were at the dorms on campus and our main meal source was the buffet cafeteria located in the main building....breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The first night we went to the M&G (Meet and Greet).....buffet style finger foods, (I loaded up and cheese and crackers, but managed to avoid the M&M's.....a great accomplishment actually), and then breakfast the next morning, (Friday), I wasn't hungry, probably because of the cheese and crackers from the night before, lol, and I was hoping to get my Max Vo2 workout in later before lunch, so I didn't want to eat prior to that. I did get my workout in just before lunchtime and then headed to the cafeteria to eat.

I had brought quite a bit of homemade food with me on this trip, and I'll write about that on another blogpost, but with me this first day I had a large container of my veg soup that I added some of their spicey corn soup to, in addition to helping myself to some jicama, cucumber, carrot salad, dressed with, from what I could tell, I'm guessing lime or lemon juice, I didn't detect any oil, or at least not much, brown rice and another salad of seafood (fake scallops and crab), and tomatoes, again dressed very lightly with no or little oil. Not too bad.....I was a good girl! Somehow I must of not seen the brownies, lol!

Dinner that night was of my own food, squash and kale soup w/chicken, and coleslaw.

Breakfast the next morning.......uh oh. Same buffet, different day....a "hungry" day. Let's see.... I started out with oatmeal, oh yes, I couldn't pass up the biscuts, so I took one (I hadn't had a biscut in forever, lol), and then I found the peanut butter and jelly. I've had PBJ's on the brain for a while now and there they (kind of) and all I could I did! Two PBJ's, and then back to the oatmeal. Then on to the granola....not too bad right? first with milk, and then my second and third helpings were granola with yogurt (very small bowls, lol!).

I managed to talk myself into eating fairly descent foods before hitting the dessert section, and by this time I was getting full (notice I didn't admit to actually being full yet). I think I had a small muffin and then I went for the least 3, maybe four, and then I was officially "topped off". Good Lord! I left the cafeteria feeling defeated.

Buffets, "all you can eat" style of resturants did not have me in mind when they created this concept...or did they? What is the point of this concept? To provide tons of poor quality foods in mass and charge more ($12 for breakfast, and $16 for lunch in this case), because a person can only eat so much, right? I mean do they really think I'm going to pay $12 for 2 eggs and some juice, or $16 for a small salad, some chow mein and brownie? No way, I have to get my "money's worth".

After my breakfast binge I walked down to the field to watch the start of the 2nd day, and I met up with Courtney Cheng RKC, (Mark Cheng's wife), that I originally met last April (2007) at her certification in St Paul. Courtney is familiar with my story and we had a chance to talk about KB training , diet and weight loss on our many walks together from the hotel to the rec center where the cert was being held (about 1 1/2 miles). Feeling full, and defeated by what had just happened and knowing I could share this with Courntey I explained that although I've been able to maintain my weight loss for about 3 years that this particular eating right there, just below the surface..... It was Courtney that used the analogy of buffets being like an "open bar" to a alcoholic.....exactly! Wow!

Should I compare my non-binge eating to that of being clean and sober? And everytime I eat compulsively comparing it to that of "falling off the wagon"?

I have so much more to write about this subject, but I have to get to my workout this morning! Lots more to come, as alot has been going on. Lots of food, lots of thought and this month, tomorrow in fact, is my 45th birthday and I want this month, this month of August, to celebrate another great year in this incredible journey I'm on by taking the time to reflect and grow, so I can move past some of this crap by writing, by expressing and sharing out loud what makes me human. To remind myself of what makes me special, special like we all are, but in our own unique ways, and live to my potential.

There is so much goodness to have, I guess it just depends on how you look at things. Buffets or no buffets, my life is good.