Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Marking 1 Year of a New Way of Life!!!

This is me. Hi! This was Christmas 2010. This is the fattest picture of me that I could find. I don't really even recognize this girl. She is smiling but . . . I know that she is dying to go home and take off that dress and peel off the Spanx that she is wearing underneath it that have surely left deep, painful, red grooves all over her lumpy, chunky body that she hates. Her hair is frizzy and her skin is blotchy. The smile is hiding A LOT! I went away to college in August of 1994 weighing 130 pounds and wearing a size 6 pants. I came home that Thanksgiving break wearing a size 12 pants! NOT GOOD! So, I made a commitment to exercise and I went vegetarian and I lost weight. This was the beginning of the Yo-Yo dieting that would be the next 19 years of my life. I tried everything. Weight Watchers Points, Deal A Meal, Fit For Life, Tae Bo, Walk Away the Pounds, the 6 Week Body Makeover, Visalus . . . And guess what? They all worked . . . as long as I stuck to it. But who can stick to some of those things all the time. And so the weight would come back and then some.  Also, during that time I had a baby, got married, moved to a new state, bought a house, had a second baby, lived on no income for 9 months, had a third baby, started homeschooling, started working at a school, became the administrator of the school, buried my grandmother, bought a new house while still owning the old one, finally sold the old one after 8 months of 2 mortgages . . . LIFE . . . you get the idea. During all this time, I cooked and baked from scratch, I joined a produce co-op. If it was healthy, I did it. Yet here I am at the end of 2010 . . . fat and unhappy and very unhealthy.

SO . . . It is after midnight, which officially makes it July 29, 2014. 1 year ago this very day, my husband and I decided to make a life altering change. In early July of last year, Michael told me that he thought he was having a heart attack and asked me to take him to the ER. He had just turned 38 years old. When we arrived at the ER, they took him back right away and did an EKG. Good news! His heart was perfect! Bad news . . . he was still in pain and they made us wait in chairs for 3 hours before putting us in a room. UGH! Well, when we finally saw the doctor and had blood work and a chest x-ray, we were told he had severe GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease) or Acid Reflux. They gave him a GI Cocktail to numb his esophagus and neutralize the acid in his stomach. He began to feel better. Great! The doctor sat there and basically told us that there was nothing that could be done. Michael would have to take Prilosec for the rest of his life. He told us that losing weight might help and it was a good idea because he was overweight but, there was no guarantee that the acid reflux would get better. I knew that could not be right so . . . after returning home at 3 AM and sleeping in, I started scouring the web for answers from wherever I could find them. In the middle of all of this mess, a friend of my mom's had started changing her eating habits after reading a book called Trim Healthy Mama. My mom had bought the book also and was going to start making some changes and she suggested to me that it might help Michael and me to lose weight and be healthier. So, I ordered the e-book and I read the book in 2 days. I am a freakishly fast reader. I noticed that a lot of what I read in the book lined up with what I had read about healing the GI track and reversing GERD. Interesting! I am also a perfectionist so it was all or nothing for us. So, we jumped in on July 29, 2013 and have not looked back. I started doing this to help my husband and in the process found that it was something that would work for me as well. I lost 7 pounds the first week! Michael was also losing weight and after an initial 2 week course of Prilosec to get it under control, he has not had to take it again.  This is a picture of our family from the end of May 2013, right before we started our new way of life.  Aren't we cute?  Aren't dimpled elbows, kankels and Michelin Man rolls attractive on grown adults?  No?  Only babies?  Yeah, I know . . .

  Here is another picture . . . just for kicks and giggles. This was July 2012. We were SOOOOOO excited to drive all the way to Columbus, Ohio to see Michael's family and have portraits done with the whole family. We had lost 30 pounds each doing Visalus!!! Look how heavy we still were!!!  We can't even get close to each other because our bellies are too big!

Back to the story . . . we changed our lifestyle and weight melted off even over the holidays! I threw myself into figuring out how to make everything we liked "on plan". We had a ton of success with the scale but, we also had a LOT of NSV (non scale victories). Our middle son, who was a little chunky lost 8 pounds. I was not making the kids eat totally on plan but, it was a happy by-product. Our oldest son was able to come off his ADHD meds after 12 years! Our youngest became less hyper. We had more energy. My husband stopped snoring. I could wake up easier in the morning. I didn't need a nap in the afternoon anymore. I had to buy a WHOLE new wardrobe (including underwear). I had to get rid of some shoes which were mysteriously TOO BIG. I had to have a sales associate bring me a small to the dressing room because the mediums I had grabbed were too big! I can stand in one leg of my old shorts. My husband needed a whole new wardrobe. I have actually reversed tooth decay. My dentist was so happy. I tried on my sweet 16 dress from October 1993 and it fit! I go to the gym and lift weights I never thought I would be able to lift. There are so many more things but, I just can't list everything! All this to say . . . we have changed our lives . . . we are never going back. We have learned a lot about ourselves. We have customized THM to fit our lives and our bodies. For example. I found out pretty quickly that E meals did not cut it for me. I tried. I would make this great meal and make sure it was E. I WAS STARVING AN HOUR LATER! AND . . . I would be 2 pounds heavier the next day. So, like Pearl and Serene say in the book, you have to listen to your body. Along the way we learned what foods triggered acid reflux attacks and cut them out. I stuck to S and FP and had great success. My husband however, does better with an E breakfast and an S dinner so that is what he does. We are completely sugar free. We don't eat rice, potatoes, corn, or grains (except oatmeal for Michael). That is what has worked for us. We are happy. We are NEVER hungry. We never feel like we are on a diet. We are more fun now. So here I am again . . . I have lost 64 pounds and 50+ inches. I have gone from a tight 16 to a 4 in pants and skirts. I have gone from XL shirts to Smalls and Mediums. The dress I am wearing in the picture is an 8. BUT . . . the girl in this picture is not wearing Spanx under it!

See the difference in the hair and skin and lack of chins? LOL! That is naturally curly and now healthy hair and healthy, radiant skin because I am healthy on the inside.

So, HAPPY 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY, Honey!  Michael has lost 50+ pounds and has gone down in his clothes as well.  I am so proud of him.  He does not like change so this was not easy for him.  However, he likes pain even less than change so . . .  Here is a picture of Michael and our boys.  That t-shirt was tight on him when he got it.  You can really tell a difference.  You might have to click on the picture to see it better.

We are still a work in progress. Neither one of us is were we need to be yet but, we are miles away from where we were a year ago. I hope that our story encourages someone. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. We all need to help each other.

Stay tuned! I plan on posting some of our favorite recipes and fun stuff like that.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Red Velvet Cake Batter Protien Shake

So, it has been a really long time since I posted on my blog.  So much has happened since my last post.  We sold our home and bought a house in town.  It is closer to everything and we really love it.  I will have to post pictures soon.  We did a lot of work before we moved in and I have a tone of pictures of all of that.  We moved in at the end of April so it has almost been a year in our new home. 

Over the summer, we changed our eating habits . . . drastically.  I have so far lost 43 pounds and My husband has lost 50.  I will post more about our journey soon but, people have been asking me for the recipes for some of the protein shakes I make.  The other day I made a Red Velvet Cake Batter Protein Shake that was absolutely amazing.  I took inspiration from this shake that I had found on Pintrest.  It is very good.  I tweaked it a bit and I added this amazing product to get the cocoa flavor and the red color with out all the bad for you food dyes.  So here is the recipe.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Red Velvet Cake Batter Protein Shake

Load the following ingredients into your blender and blend well for 30 seconds or so:
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I use Silk brand as it doesn't contain Carrageenan)
¼ cup cottage cheese (I use Friendship 1% as it doesn't contain Carrageenan)
⅛ tsp Celtic sea salt
¼ tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
⅛ tsp butter extract
⅛ tsp pure almond extract
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 TBSP xylitol (I use NOW Foods brand non-GMO)
1 scoop Cocoa Cardio
1/2 tsp Gluccomannan
Add crushed ice to your blender to the 4 cup line and blend again until it is nice and smooth and slushy.
Add 1 scoop of a good quality whey protein isolate.  I used Jay Robb chocolate protein powder.  Blend until all your powder is mixed in and your mixture fluffs up to about the 7 cup line.
This makes 1 super big serving and is a nice filling breakfast.  Sometimes I will split it with my hubby after a workout.  Sometimes we split it 4 ways among the kids as a "milkshake" treat.  Here are the nutritional facts: 275 calories, 3g fat, 4g net carbs and 36g protein
It is packed with protein, low fat and low carb.  If you are THM, this counts as a Fuel Pull.

Friday, July 27, 2012

We Are Selling Our House!!!

This is our home and has been since December 2000.  We have made so many wonderful memories in this house.

Below is one of my favorite pictures of our home . . . in the snow!  We don't get a lot of snow here but, it reminds me of when I was growing up.  We always had snow every winter in NY.

 Click here for the real estate listing for our home.

We are selling our home in order to move into a home closer to town, work, church . . . well . . . everything really.  If you know anyone looking to buy, it is move in ready.  It has many desireable upgrades and many things are new.  Many things we did ourselves and are chronicled here on this blog.  Feel free to search the posts to see what was done.

Some features I would like to mention:

The roof is new (2009) with architechural shingles and new tempered glass skylights in the baths and kitchen.

The HVAC was completely replaced with an energy star rated unit (inside and outside units) in 2008

Monitored security system

Home Warranty to cover all systems and appliances

New Laminate (hard wood look) floors and baseboards in all the living areas and kitchen (2010)

Both baths have been remodeled with new sinks, fixtures, paint, subway tile, floors, lighting, mirrors, toilets

New lighting, flooring and cabinets in the mudroom/laundry room

All lighting has been updated throughout the house including outside fixtures

7 ceiling fans (1 in each of the 4 bedrooms, 1 in the office, one in the formal living room and 1 in the family room)

Wood burning stacked stone fireplace in family room (can be converted to gas logs)

Kitchen remodeled with glass tile backsplash, Brazilian granite countertops, new cabinet hardware, lighting, 10 foot long island and new over the range microwave

Gas range and either gas or electric dryer hookup

Water heater was replaced 2007

9'x23' front porch and 12'x12' back deck

Asphalt driveway and concrete sidewalk done in 2007

2079 sq ft home on a little over 1 acre
Mount Pleasant Schools (elementary, middle and high school)

Open concept living areas and kitchen

The rooms are as follows:

mud/laundry/utility room

Family room with fireplace

kitchen with huge island with seating

Formal dining room

Formal living room


Master bedroom with master bath and huge walk in closet

3 other bedrooms and a full bath

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Photo Card

Classic Damask Frame Christmas
Personalize your Christmas card at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lots 'O' Chicken Stock

I know it has been forever since I posted to my blog but, I have been super busy. The biggest change is that I am working. Not that I didn't work before . . . what I mean is, I got a job teaching at a new private school. My children are now attending the same school and we are all doing really well. I finally have time to sit down and post something. It has only taken me 3 months!

The other day after church, we had a couple over for lunch. I made roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and our guests brought a salad and a dirt cake (which my kids loved!!). I didn't take pictures of that meal but, I make roasted chicken alot so here is a picture from another time I made roasted chicken. YUM!

I made two 4 pound chickens at one time in my turkey roaster. They cooked while we were at church - 250 degrees for 5 hours. We had the equivalent of 1 whole chicken leftover so, I picked the meat from the bones and made some stock. That's nothing new. I always make stock after I make roasted chicken but, this time was different. It was different because of this beauty!

My mother bought me this wonderfully heavy 22 quart stock pot for my birthday back in October and I broke it in tonight. THANKS, MOM!!! I put all the bones and drippings from my roasted chickens into the pot with a few cloves of garlic, a few onions, a couple of carrots, a couple of celery stalks (with leaves) and a handful of grape tomatoes. I filled it up to within 3 inches of the top with cold water and left it on low heat for a few hours. I then strained the stock. I put the veggies into the blender with some stock, pureed the veggies and added it back into the stock. I measured out 6 cups of stock to make homemade Chicken and Dumplings. I used the leftover chicken meat and made a dough of flour, milk, baking powder and salt for the dumplings. It was delicious! This is what was left after we ate . . . just enough for me for lunch tomorrow! I put a little shredded cheese on it!

Including the 6 cups I used for tonight's dinner, I made 49 cups of chicken stock!!! That's a little more than 3 gallons! I measured it all out into containers in recipe sized portions. I just hope I have enought room in my freezer for all of it. I will be using some of it fairly soon. I will use some on Thanksgiving for my stuffing and for basting the turkey.

I plan on posting more often now that we are used to our new routine. If not sooner, I will post all of my Thanksgiving recipes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Week in Food . . . Well The Highlights Anyway

So the past couple of weeks have been really busy but I thought that I would post a "best of" of what I cooked for you to see.

First, we had a Wednesday night potluck at church last week and I made this pasta salad.

So, I boiled a pound of elbows in salted water until done and drained them. Then I added a batch of roasted tomatoes like the ones I made HERE. Next, I added a 15 oz portion of cooked cannelini beans (drained and rinsed if using canned). Then I added 3 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves and tossed so the heat from the tomatoes and pasta would wilt the leaves a little. I then added a little grated cheese. This can be served hot as a pasta dinner or room temperature as a salad. It was well received by everyone who tried it.

On July 2nd, our middle boy, Jeremy, celebrated his 9th birthday. Instead of making treat bags loaded with candy, we opted for these homemade goodies as our party favors. Kids and parents really liked these . . . ALOT!

I prepared Rice Krispie Treats according to the recipe on the box but, I added 3/4 cup of creamy peanut butter. Then I divided the mixture into 24 equal sized balls. (HI, GINA!!!) I stuck toothpicks in the the balls (HI, AGAIN!!!)and dipped them into melted chocolate and then into rainbow sprinkles (UH OH!!!). I let them chill in the refrigerator on a baking sheet. We wrapped them in green party bags and gave them to all who attended the party.

On July 4th, we had another potluck after church but, it was at the park so I decided to bring fruit salad, Pumpkin Gingerbread, Zucchini Pie and Loaded Mashed Potato Pie to share with our church family. (Sorry, I did not take pictures of the fruit salad or the gingerbread.) There was alot of good stuff at the picnic including red velvet cupcakes (MMMMMM!!!!) and chicken curry (YUMMMMM!!!!). We ate our weight in food that day. This is a picture of the mashed potato filling. I had some leftover mashed potatoes and just doctored them up with dill weed, pepper, sour cream, cream cheese, shredded fiesta blend cheese and real bacon bits. I tasted it and adjusted the seasonings. Then I added 3 eggs so it would set as it baked.

I poured it into a greased pie plate and topped with more cheese.

I baked both pies together in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until set. The pie on the top rack is a zucchini pie.

This is something we ate alot in the summer when I was growing up and zucchini was in abundance. All you do, is mix the following ingredients together in a large bowl until fully combined and then pour it into a greased pie plate and bake as directed above.

3 1/2 cups finely chopped or shredded zucchini
1 onion finely chopped
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 tsp dried parsley or 3 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour

This is what it looks like when it is done. It is light and delicious.

This potato pie was also delicious but . . . not so light.

Although I failed to photograph it, the Pumpkin Gingerbread was devoured and several people asked me for the recipe.

15 oz can of solid pack pumpkin
4 eggs
3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 1/2 cups flour

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until completely incorporated. Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake for 50 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven. Do the toothpick test and bake until done.

I went to an antique store with my friend Sarah today. I will post pictures of our adventure tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mexican Dinner From Leftovers and Crazy Hair Day!

Tonight we had a wonderful Mexican inspired meal made from leftovers and freezer/pantry staples. On Sunday night, I made some chicken thighs in the oven and had 2 leftover. I picked all the meat from the bones and shredded it up for Chicken Quesadillas. I was going to grill some veggies to add to the quesadillas but Michael was working late and I didn't want to deal with complaints about veggies so, I steamed one of the zucchinis from my friend Tanya's garden pureed it. I mixed it into the shredded chicken and tasted it. It needed something else.

I had a little bit of homemade salsa left in the refrigerator so I add a couple of tablespoons to the chicken and stirred. That was just what it needed. The Salsa Recipe can be found here.

Next, I laid out 6 soft taco sized flour tortillas and topped each with a thick slice of Colby-Jack Cheese.

Then, I evenly divided the chicken mixture between the 6 tortillas.

We like things really cheesy and I noticed that my entire tortilla was not covered in cheese so I added an extra slice of cheese to each tortilla. I broke each one into 4 equal strips and framed the chicken to achieve full cheese coverage.

I then covered each one with another tortilla. It was then that I realized that there were only 4 tortillas left in the bag so I made 2 cheese only quesadillas. I set them all aside and preheat the oven to 350 degrees and started on my side dish.

I pulled a bag of red beans out of the freezer. I usually make 2 pounds of dried beans at a time and then measure them out into can sized portions for recipes. Black beans and red beans can always be found in my freezer. These beans were prepared in the crock pot with a ham bone and other seasonings.

I also prepared 1 cup of regular white rice and added it to the reheated beans. My boys love red beans and rice as a side but will also eat it topped with cheese for lunch or as a burrito filling.

While the rice was cooking, I heated the quesadillas until the cheese was melted and then let them sit for 5 minutes cool a little before I cut them into quarters. The cheese only ones are stacked at the top of the picture. The rest of the platter was chicken and veggie quesadillas.

Mmmm! A Mexican dinner that everyone ate without complaints! We had about half the rice and beans leftover and 7 wedges of quesadilla. I know what we are having for lunch tomorrow.

This baby ate without complaining or trying to walk around the table! YAY! Today was crazy hair day so he has red hair glue in his hair. He kept checking his hair all day giving me updates like, "Yup, Mom! My hair is still red!" Thanks, Judah! I was really worried about that!

Tomorrow night we have a cookout at church but, I will post more on Thursday night as our mealtime adventures continue.