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Asian Steamed Shrimp

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1 pound raw shrimp
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 clove minced garlic
1 T raw sugar
1 t Truvia
2 T orange champagne vinegar
1 T Tonkatsu sauce
cilantro
fresh spinach
fresh pea pods
fresh mushrooms

mix soy, ginger, garlic, sugar, Truvia, vinegar and tonkatsu sauce. Heat in microwave or saucepan until sugar disolves. reserve 1/3 of liquid.

Layer shrimp on bottom of steamer and vegetables on top rack of steamer. Pour liquid over both layers. Steam for 5-8 minutes. Serve over rice and pour extra liquid over mixture. Let the feast begin.

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Twisted Grunders Suck

I think the last few weeks found me with my big girl panties knotted around my ankles. Two-year-old tantrums kept good behavior at bay.

Exercise has been great, but whether I was throwing too many parties in my mouth or kicking and screaming about how unfair life was that my pants are too tight, I found myself a little irked goals weren’t being met.

I’m irritated I didn’t take full advantage of the personal training for the last three months. Friday was my last session with my trainer – she’s moving out of state. I’m bummed. I didn’t meet the food/weight loss goals, but I suppose there was progress, which gives me another opportunity to think about where I want to go from here.

I have a lot of ideas swirling around in my head, but haven’t voiced many as of late, which is probably why I haven’t seen much progress, doh. It’s hard to meet a goal, which just swims in silence when I’ve spent more time aligning myself with a couch and a bag of chips.

I had hoped weight loss, eating and exercise would all be in line by now, but the problem is action needs to follow hope. Not all is a wash though. Exercise is in a good place and I definitely feel stronger than I did three months ago. Instead of beating myself up over what is NOT, I may want to build on what IS working.

A couple weeks ago, I realized I was eating an unmentionable amount of food under the disguise of an evening snack. I’m not sure what the exact caloric intake of a snack should be, but I’m pretty confident it’s less than a Big Mac. Seeing this proof written in a food journal was good feedback even if it did make me squirm.

So, one of the new strategies I decided to employ was to journal backward, beginning with my evening meal. First, it really throws off my mojo and makes me think about what I’m putting into my mouth, but more importantly, it makes me look ahead to the remaining 24 hours, which requires a plan if I want to eat more than the bruised and wilted cucumber laying in the back of my fridge.

This morning and afternoon will require a little creativity given the fact impromptu pizza found me last night. But my new strategy might just work. Last night as I skulked around my kitchen telling myself that I’d already blown it with the pizza, I remembered I still had the morning and afternoon to recover. I grabbed a peach and turned off the kitchen light.

I’m still searching for answers and finding more questions, but at least I’m thinking again. It’s funny how certain things work like magic for a while, but then all of a sudden, not so much. For now, I’m yanking up my big girl pants and concentrating on the here and now… how about you?

Speedy and Spicy Dinner

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I almost didn’t take a picture of this meal because I was embarrassed by the quantity of food on the plate, but if you check it out closely, you will notice it’s half full of veggies.

Weekends have been tough for me lately so I wanted to make sure I ate satisfying meals. We ate lunch on the late side; no one was home when I wanted to eat dinner so I snacked on some Kashi cereal. When Lyle and Russell arrived, I wasn’t hungry so we delayed yet again.

I started nibbling on pretzels that Lyle left out and then looked up at the clock and realized it was pushing 7:30 p.m. Holy crap, where did the time go? I started skulking around the kitchen and eyed Russell’s Poptarts. Normally, they don’t taunt me – too many empty calories, but my resolve was quickly fading as true hunger rumbled in my gut.

Tensuke came to my rescue. I visited the little Japanese market yesterday to treat myself to some carry out sushi, which I ate on the spot. While I meandered around the store, I found some kimchee and chuka ikansansai (pickled squid) and dropped it in my basket along with some brown sushi rice.

I knew I would gnaw off my arm or eat the entire box of Poptarts if I waited for rice to cook so I whipped up some whole wheat couscous to accompany my little Asian feast. The green beans are staples in my house, and also make a great dish to take to a potluck. From thought to table it took 10 minutes – my kind of meal.

What do you like to throw together in a hurry when you are too hungry to plan a meal?

Keeping the Tank Topped Off

Today I was running from one meeting to another, and the temptation to eat junk in between venues was great, especially since I missed my regularly scheduled lunch time.

My morning started off pretty typical. I grabbed a banana as I left the house and packed a cup of leftover cream of wheat to eat in the office. This may seem like a weird leftover, but I’m always looking for ways to do more with less; in this case time. I made a pot of cream of wheat yesterday morning, and quite frankly, I thought it equaled one serving, but I decided to measure it to see if my eyes were in line with a reasonable portion. Yikes, it was double what I would have estimated.

The goo was a little stiff this morning, but I mashed it up before I nuked it, tossed in some over-ripe pear slices and drizzled a bit of honey on top. It was actually pretty tasty, and it stuck with me for a good three hours.

I had hoped that in between meetings, I would be able to hit the Y for a Pilate’s class so I crammed a protein bar in my pocket before heading out the door. Fast forward two hours and I had just enough time to grab a small handful of almonds and an apple before my next appointment. So far, so good. When I got back to my desk, a colleague needed to catch me up on a project while I munched on a salad that I had thrown together, which included another leftover – grilled mahi mahi.

Lyle called about 4 p.m. to see if I wanted to meet him for a beer, which I happily agreed, but knew I better eat something before to keep what few remaining brain cells I had after a busy day from falling out of my head at the first gulp of an oatmeal stout. I slurped down a half cup of cottage cheese before I walked to my car, but then I missed my exit and decided to come on home.

I was tired and a little cranky when I walked in the door and too hungry to put any thought into dinner, but I remembered the leftover chicken and noodles that I made this weekend. It was pretty similar to this recipe. I stir fried some veggies to bulk up the meal and was good to go.

I feasted on a day of leftovers, and I have to say, I’m pretty damn happy about it. I know some people refuse to eat anything twice, but these kinds of meals stretch my time in ways that are invaluable. Most importantly, they help me stay in control when I feel my emotional tank sputter from lack of willpower. What little tricks do you employ to help keep you in control?

Is Moderation Overrated?

Moderation. Growing up, I didn’t have good role models to learn this skill. I love my mom and dad dearly, and today I’m blessed to count them both as two of my very best friends, but it is more than fair to say that moderation was not a word or activity that any of us shared any expertise.

It’s pointless to blame. It is what it is. While my dad takes offense to the notion that I often refer to my childhood as a dysfunctional jacked-up mess, I’m not sure what else you would call a place overshadowed with years of addiction. I don’t intend to delve into the crazy-ass effects of growing up in an alcoholic family, but only mention it to give some perspective on the idea that of course we didn’t know anything about moderation.

I remember going to Lyle’s family on Christmas Eve when we were first married, and they broke out the homemade vino, and immediately, I thought, “oh no, there’s going to be trouble here tonight.” But these people were quite frankly a little easier to take in those early years once they had a nip or two, and it stopped at exactly that. What a novel approach.

Thankfully, my family is mended, not like any of us would imagine, but that’s ok too. Once chemicals were out of the way, everyone simply threw themselves into being the hardest working, best whatever a person would ever see. This isn’t entirely bad, in moderation. Most days I can even reflect on that time in my life and pull life skills from the experience in which I’m very thankful. I can for instance read a room better than a bona fide clairvoyant.

But I’m wondering if moderation is overrated or just unattainable. I had a really good week last week… I ate appropriately, exercised and even worked in a few yummy treats. I didn’t feel deprived and I practiced what I think is probably, normal, moderate behavior. It felt good. Yesterday evening though, I teetered on the edge – really wanting to let loose and binge.

Had I just been too good throughout the week? Was I still hungry? Was I really pissed at my husband for some stupid, undefined reason? Did my life and eating need to be all good or all bad?

I managed to let it go, but I wonder how long I will practice this moderation gig before I’ll get the hang of it. Will it ever become like a second skin? Even today, I was still edgy and wanted to gnaw off my arm. I didn’t, but took a lot of energy not to.

From the outside there are others around me who seem to have a grasp on moderation, but is that only from outward appearances, and what if these apparently calm, even-keeled souls are also having the same convoluted conversations with themselves as I do to keep everything in order?

I can choose to eat some junk, but if I let go and give in totally, a whole crap-load of stuff starts spiraling out of control. Implementing even just a small amount of planning seems to yield exponential payoffs.

I wish I didn’t have to put thought into this weight thing to be successful. I wish I could just wing it, but I can’t. For whatever reason – general weakness, lack of will power or just a strong desire to medicate emotions with food, I need a plan. The idea of planning shouldn’t shock me. After all, spontaneity is another thing I suck at. I seem to need a freaking plan for everything from pooping to going on vacation.

Just like my struggles with body image, I wonder if I stop fighting moderation and the idea of planning if acceptance might just arrive, which ironically enough would certainly simplify the plan.

Yummilicious Food Choices

It’s new and the same all at once.

I’ve been feeling pretty bored with my food lately so this weekend I decided to put a little effort into meal and snack planning. Weekend is tough because I have the tendency, especially in the winter months, to call my bedroom aka. cave home as I carry in rations that will last until the April thaw.

Saturday afternoon, I enjoyed lunch with friends at Akai Hana, my favorite Japanese restaurant in Columbus, and then I took Russell shopping. We ended up stopping at Chipotle before we headed home. I usually get a salad, skipping the cheese, guacamole and sour cream, beefing up instead on the veggies, beans, lettuce, salsa and a little chicken. But I was having a weak moment and opted for a burrito. No worries though, I cut the monstrosity in half and threw its mate in the trash before I nibbled it away. I felt pretty good with the choice and the accountability.

Sunday afternoon Lyle grilled a bunch of pork chops and chicken quarters. Yummo. For lunch, I ate one of the small pork chops and then filled my plate with a veggie stir fry. I wanted to keep it light given the fact I ate a cinnamon roll for breakfast. For dinner, I reheated chicken and drizzled Bulldog Sauce over it. The sauce is really for tonkatsu, which is a fried Japanese pork chop, but we use the condiment for anything that you would pour barbeque sauce over. It’s pretty tasty and can be found in Asian groceries like Tensuke Market. I rounded out dinner with whole wheat couscous and some sautéed green beans.

My life doesn’t feel complete without an evening snack, but I was looking for something healthy that was sweet and satisfying. I can’t remember the last time I made a parfait; I know it was long before I discovered Greek yogurt. Trader Joes has a great store brand that is quite a bit cheaper than the Fage, which is my all-time fave. I layered it with Kashi Go lean Crunch and frozen raspberries. In between layers, I sprinkled a little Truvia, my new-found favorite sweetener. Delicious.

The entire weekend I was in control and felt content, which led to a good Monday of food choices and a great reminder that a little planning goes a long way toward satisfaction.

What is your best tool for making good food choices?

2011 Resolutions – Be Like a Beagle

I caught a cold while I was in Florida last week. It didn’t seem nearly as annoying when the bright rays of sunshine warmed my soul and the salty gulf breeze lifted me from the doldrums of winter. Back in Ohio, I’m sniffly, a little too grumpy and more inclined to comfort myself with food as I snuggle in waiting for spring.

It got me thinking this morning about what I hope will come of 2011. I can’t say that I’m all that disappointed to let 2010 go here in a few days. There was a lot to be thankful for, but even with an incurable case of optimism, I readily admit that much of the year was pretty damn challenging. It leaves me wondering or perhaps hoping if some of it will be alleviated once I turn the page on the calendar.

I am, however, pragmatic enough to realize that I will likely be presented with many more challenges in the coming year and beyond. Perhaps it’s an age thing as much as I hate to admit it. Even as my posse discussed the official end of the bad run, another potential heartache looms with my father-in-law. Life is hard much of the time, and you get through it the best you can.

Spending time with my dad last week reminded me that we all are getting older as minutes are marked by the second hand on the clock whirling by entirely too fast. Fight it, accept it and hopefully embrace it before it’s too late, which made me recall a little nugget that my that my mom shared several years ago as I struggled with body image – today is as good as it’s ever going to be.

It sounds kind of negative at first glance, but upon inspection, it can be inspiring. I take it to be an affirmation of grabbing onto all that is positive. Sure, there are challenges, sadness and profound loss, but today and tomorrow if we are lucky enough to see them, can present joy and camaraderie with those close to us if we choose that to be so.

In that vein, I’ve been thinking about what I want for the coming year. My top 10 list started out with a weight loss goal – of course, but I hope the list also gives me a place to recharge should I sway, which is bound to happen from time to time in the coming months. So, here goes:

1. Lose five pounds in steady increments until my pants are once again loose and comfy.
2. Exercise four days a week and walk 10,000 steps per day.
3. Keep a written food journal – commit to it for at least three months.
4. Focus on healthy behaviors.
5. Practice a brief meditation every day.
6. Give of myself in a way that helps others who are less fortunate.
7. Express daily affirmations toward myself and my family.
8. Put aside savings every month for a trip to Italy.
9. Lead by example.
10. When struggling, look to my beagle for clues – sleep when tired, eat when hungry, chase butterflies when bored and wag my tail even when it’s cold outside.

Write it down, tuck it away or share it here…What is it that you would like to accomplish in the coming year. I think I’ll get a head start today.

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