Monday, July 29, 2013

Iced Coffee Concentrate. You know you want it.

There are a few giant coffee chains out there you can get a semi-decent cup of iced coffee from. However, it hurts to spend so much money on one cup. One. Cup.

There is a local grocery chain around the Phoenix/Scottsdale area called Aj's that does a great iced coffee concentrate. The large is a 32 oz cup and the cost is about $3.00.  Not bad, but still not worth the inconvenience of stopping every morning for one and more or less blowing $15 bucks into the wind.

I was talking with my former office mate about how much I adored iced coffee but didn't want to spend the money on buying it all the time. My office mate was what I referred to as Kyle-i-pedia -if he didn't know the answer he'd find it in seconds, usually with statistical data that he had stored long ago with the purpose of knowing one day he would need it as backup for another not yet known fact.

Kyle told me about a bunch of different cold brew systems but said that I would be able to make it at home pretty easily. I tried his suggestions.

It worked.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The truth about fad diets

That cool thing that everyone is doing.

You know you want to do it, because it seems like everyone else is. Then, given a certain amount of time, you find it was a fad. 

Like this. 

Remember Slap Bracelets?

And this.


Who can forget?

But I saved the best for last....

The Rat Tail Pony Tail. This took some serious commitment.

Fads. They come and go in every facet of what we do. This includes in our dietary habits.... Cabbage Soup Diet anyone? There are quite a few out there now that I wanted to specifically talk about.

First and foremost I want to encourage you to never use the term diet. Psychologically, when you are telling yourself you are on a diet, you are mentally restricting yourself. You are unknowingly setting yourself up for failure. If you consistently tell yourself you cannot have anything because its not on your diet plan, you will eventually give in to your craving most likely binge eating. I never tell myself I am on a diet. Eating better is about changing your lifestyle. If I want something, I will have it, in moderation of course. I've maintained the weight loss that I sustained for over 5 years with this method of thinking. Try thinking of what you CAN have and not what you CAN'T have.

The Atkins Diet
With this diet, they frown upon carb ingestion. They say you can eat as much meat as you want, as much cheese as you want as long as you stay away from the carbs. Sounds too good to be true? It is. Why? Meat and cheese are incredibly high in fat. In this, you are also limiting the amount of nutrients you get by eating vegetables and fruit. Do you lose weight? Sure. Is it good for long term weight loss? No. Why? The human body runs on carbohydrates. It takes them and turns them into ADP. Thats what fuels your muscles. Its the gas to your muscle 'engine'. Temporarily it may help, but it is not something that overall is going to be beneficial for you as you are likely to gain the weight back that you lost in addition to raising your cholesterol. 

The Zone Diet
This diet they recommend you follow a diet of three meals a day with two snacks. Each of these meals should consist of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent healthy fat. How does one determine how much of what to eat? Its all about measuring with your hand and your eyes. There is no scientific method to breaking this down. They do have books and recipes to assist you. The good part? You can choose what foods you like to eat.... as long as it follows the guidelines. This diet doesn't restrict you as much as some of the others, for instance, Atkins. It does allow you to eat more or less the daily allowance of what you should be consuming to remain healthy. The downside is the preparation time to make the meals. 

Lastly I wanted to talk about the diet that most people are following these days. 

The Paleo Diet. 
This was created as something that goes back to human ancestry. Basically, you are to eat what cavemen ate in the Paleolithic era by eating meats and vegetables that our hunter/gatherer ancestors did. This sounds relatively easy. Eat meat, eat vegetables. It sounds good, in theory. However, I think that a lot of these 'Paleo' recipes that they've come up with get lost in translation. After all, I am in serious doubt that cavemen had access to items in some of the recipes I've seen such as Sriacha, fish sauce, sesame oil, etc. In doing a search online, I have found '100% Paleo' recipes that include ingredients like sun dried tomatoes packed in oil and herbs as well as ...canned enchilada sauce. I thought the idea of eating Paleo was to stay away from canned items because of the amount of preservatives in them. What people are doing is creating these recipes to try to conform today's lifestyle to what they want to consider a diet. Sriacha is mostly hot peppers, sugar, vinegar and salt. . . Fish sauce? Did the cavemen use rocks to beat the fish and make a paste before they lightly sautéed their meat? 

There are sites you can order 'Paleo approved' desserts. Such as a bar that contains coconut oil, almond flour, vanilla, and many more items that I find hard to believe that a caveman would have in his pantry. This diet does have good principles. It helps you to strive to eat more vegetables, better grains (such as quinoa) and quality, lean cuts of meat. But is it truly 'Paleo' to be eating the items in the recipes I mentioned? People want to believe that it is. I personally think its no more than eating a gluten free diet. The similarities are striking. However, removing say, taco night from your normal routine to just replace it with fish sauce and Sriacha doused meat in the long run isn't going to get you anywhere any faster. 

The one thing that people always do is believe. They want to believe that what they are doing is working. They want to believe that if they make a change to their dietary habits that it will make a difference. And they want to believe that whatever new thing that is coming up the pike might be the one thing that helps them. 

I have an answer for you. It won't. 

You know what will work? A healthy approach to eating food and exercise. Thats it. That is the magic bullet. I worked my ass off for several years, learning along the way what did work and what didn't. I learned to slowly remove the things that I once loved out of my daily eating habits and moved them into my 'once in a great while' eating habits. I learned to make the things I love, just a little bit healthier. I learned healthier substitutes for the items that I liked to use. And I exercised. A lot. 

You can get to where you want and its your choice on how you get there. I am by no means a nutritionist or an expert when it comes to these things.

I'm just a girl who lost 132 lbs doing it my way.

You can read US News and Weekly's report on the most popular diets and their rankings at

Thursday, January 31, 2013


There are quite a few things that I use a lot. I like flavor in my food. I loathe eating things that are bland.

For instance, I have a jar of crushed red peppers in my desk that my office mate and I use on everything. I buy the big jar from Costco and refill it from that . . . I love spicy food. I think at last count we have around 8 jars of hot sauce in our refrigerator. I'm that girl.

I discovered the Bragg products last year when I was attempting to go Gluten Free.  I purchased some of the Nutritional Yeast Seasoning and decided to try it. I put it on pizza, popcorn and salads. To me, it tastes a lot like Parmesan cheese. My favorite way to eat it is on a kale salad. There is something about the flavors together that I adore.

After I liked that, I tried purchasing the Apple Cider Vinegar and integrating that into my diet. Apple Cider Vinegar as a lot of health benefits, if you buy the one with the 'mother' in it. It isnt filtered out and thats what makes it beneficial for you. I usually will do one shot of it a day (about two tablespoons) before I eat dinner to help aid in digestion. From my research, some of the benefits include helping lower blood sugar levels between 4-6% in diabetics, slowing cancer growth and can help contribute to weight loss. For more information click here.

Given that I liked the first few products that I tried, I bought the Liquid Aminos to see if they were all they were cracked up to be. I use it just like soy sauce. And you know what? You can't tell the difference. I've been trying to get my husband to try it, but he says that the Nutritional Yeast looks like fish flakes and he isnt interested in trying the Liquid Aminos.

He thinks some of this nutritional stuff I buy is voo doo. But, if I like, it, he doesn't really care that I purchase it. I've read some people like taking raw almonds and spraying two or three sprays of the liquid aminos on them instead of using salt.

There are lots of products out there that tout health benefits. I don't buy a lot of it unless I can find some type of substantive information on it.

I wasn't paid to write this about Bragg. I really wanted to share what I use to try to supplement flavor on my end without sacrificing quality and my health.

I also take health supplements from Hi-Health. I typically do a sub-lingual B-12 tablet (2 a day) and I take 5 HTP. It has B-6 and St. John's Wort in it as well. I've found it to be the best form of a carbohydrate craving suppressant that I can take that also helps with my mood. If I find myself getting up in the morning with crankypants and a snarky shirt on- this helps me regulate my mood. On and off, I like taking an adrenal supplement to try to get them functioning on a good level again. It also contains probiotics which can help with your immune system.

Do you have any favorite products you use all the time? Any supplements you rave about? 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lazy Dinners

You ever get home from work after a long day. . . so tired and exhausted. All you want to do is sleep. Then, your husband looks over at you and says, "Whats for dinner?"

Usually, my response is something like this
Courtesy of

  I do most of the cooking in our house.  Its not that my husband doesn't like to or isnt decent. Its just that I am usually pretty particular with the way I like stuff so its easier to make it myself. For instance, I don't like soggy french fries. Or bacon. To me, they aren't worth the calories. If I am making the choice to eat them, I want it to be good. GOOD. 

So, for those nights that I don't feel like cooking I have some staples in the house that we can usually throw something together fairly quickly. 

A few ideas for you:

Flat outs pizzas

I use either the italian herb or the regular ones. I usually will parbake these for 5 minutes on one side and 4 on the other (at 375) so the sauce doesnt weigh it down. Take two tablespoons of organic marinara/pizza sauce and spread out- you don't want too much sauce because its going to eep through the flatout and won't get a crispy consistency. We add about a 1/4 cup of mozzarella then our toppings vary. One day it might be olives, one day it might be pepperoni. The last time we made it, it was hot italian turkey sausage and kalamata olives. Pop it in the oven (just keep the oven on during the time you're assembling) and put it in there for about 7 minutes. Check to see if the cheese is melted to your liking. I will always take the last two minutes or so and put it on broil so the ends get crispy on the edges. This is usually enough for me, but I've been known to serve it with a small side salad occasionally.

Boca Spicy Chick'n Sandwiches with Cottage Cheese

I know too much overprocessed food is bad for you, but I dig these things. They are fantastic. I even got my beef loving husband to eat them. Our oven is a little different, but for us, I just bake them at 390 for 15 minutes, flip then bake the other side for the same time. They get crispy and remind me of the McChicken. I serve them on 100 calorie thins with fat free mayo and pickles. We normally will have cottage cheese on the side. I personally have a love for a little bit of low cal italian dressing and capers on the cottage cheese with a little fresh cracked pepper.

TLT's with Cottage Cheese 

Much to my husbands dismay, I stopped buying regular bacon a while ago. I buy the Oscar Meyer turkey bacon (bonus: its $2.79 a pack instead of $5.99) because I like the fact that its much less greasy than pork bacon. Less cleanup. We bake it on a rack over a cookie pan for about 15 minutes at 400 (in our oven- yours might be different) then flip it and it takes about 5-7 minutes more on the other side to get crispy. Once its done, I serve the sandwiches on 100 calorie thins with fat free mayo. Cottage cheese is an easy side. 

Spaghetti with Turkey Sausage

Spaghetti is always an easy meal. I try to make it a little healthier by using two/three of the hot italian sausage links (I take them out of the casing) and sauteeing those before adding to the sauce. I adore the quinoa pasta and use this whenever I can sneak it in. Bonus: if you use the other two links of turkey sausage on your flatout pizzas, you have two meals off one 5 dollar package of meat. 

Grilled chicken and veggies

This is fairly hard to mess up. Grill chicken with your favorite seasonings and serve with a veggie on the side. I like the Steamfresh veggies and stock up whenever they are on sale. This way, we can have decent tasting corn all year round. I also have recently discovered McCormick's cajun seasoning. It tastes great on grilled chicken- I used that for a salad the other night. 

Veggie Burger and Cottage Cheese/veggie/side salad

I love the Morningstar Farms 1/4 pound griller burger. My husband, does not. On the days that I want one of these, he will usually take out a small round steak and grill that alongside my burger. I typically don't eat a bun with it only because its a little higher in calories than I normally have with dinner along with a side. We do either cottage cheese, a side salad or a veggie for that. 

Newmans Own Thin and Crispy Pizza

This is one of our favorites. Its a really thin crust, so it tastes better than the other frozen pizzas. It also cooks in 12 minutes, just enough time for me to prepare a side salad. 

Morningstar Farms Veggie Corndogs and Crispy Crowns

If you don't follow me on myfitnesspal and see my diary daily, you are probably coming to the conclusion I like the veggie products. This is by far the easiest (and probably least healthy) of what we'll have a few times a month. A veggie corndog along side crispy crowns (like tater tots, just thinner) ... put it in the oven for 30 minutes and you have dinner. Voila. 

Do you have dinner staples you make?  What's your favorite dinner to make??