That’s right my darlings it is snack time once again. For me to stay on track and not reach dinner time starving and ready to eat far more than what I know my allotted portion should be, I need an afternoon snack. Now here is the thing. I always make sure there are minimal limitations on my snacks.
The one real limitation is that I try to stick to under 150 calories. I prefer around 130, but I don’t want to go over 150 at all for my afternoon snack. This calorie range makes me feel like I am getting something substantial, and when I start to make dinner I am not snacking on some of the ingredients as I cook and thus adding unknown calories to my plate.
Snacking is actually one of the most useful dieting tools I have come up with. One snack with 150 or less calories in it. That it my only restriction. I know some of you are thinking, well if those are the only restrictions then what’s to stop you from reaching for really bad candies and other empty calories?
Oddly enough, i did worry about that when I first started adding the snack in. Then I realized it is almost self regulating. Around Easter one of my favorite treats are marshmallow peeps. I don’t know if you have ever looked at the container but a box of five is listed as one serving and the calorie count on that is 140 cal. which means it technically fits. And there will be at least one time every spring where I will roll in a box of peeps and call it a snack.
I will only do it once a year though. Not because it is a special treat, but because after that one treat my stomach really doesn’t want to take in that much sugar again for a whole other year. I don’t feel satisfied, I feel vaguely ill. After a while of snacking, i will find myself reaching for things that I know are good for me even if the junk stuff is available simply because that is the stuff that I want.
So snacktime is anything I want to eat that will fill me up in a way that makes me feel satisfied but has less than 150 calories. After a while of doing this you learn what falls into that category and what doesn’t and automatically reach for the things that have the right calorie count but won’t satisfy you until dinner. At least with me. it did take a while and occasionally something sneaks through but for the most part. Once I start paying attention I will crave an apple over a sugary sweet.
But sometimes, my body wants meat. We generally have one meal per week that uses meat (and it is usually a weekend thing and often it is in the colder weather, fish and chicken dominate the warmer months for our ‘meat’ meals). Occasionally though I just get a meat craving and when i do I want to make sure that I go with good quality items.
I have been ordering from Righteous Felon for a while. Their quality is top notch. I tend to stick to the pouches of meat snacks so I can measure out what I actually want to eat in that moment. This is my first stick from them. Even though it is only 100 calories per stick I generally find myself satisfied with only about half of the stick. But with the sticks I will eat the whole thing.
I know I could go the protein bar route, and sometimes I do, but a lot of the protein bars are just too sweet for me. This is not sweet. It does have a little sweet tang from the pineapple, but it also has a little bit of a spicy heat. the heat is mild. The spices don’t make it spicy, they make it spiced. and it is spiced exactly like a really good al pastor taco.
It is delicious and the only thing wrong is that it makes me look around to see where the chips and guacamole ran off to. It is fully flavored and tastes exactly like what it is, pork with pineapple and al pastor seasonings. It is a winner. The flavor is great, the protein is enough to keep me going and to let me prepare dinner without snacking on the elements as I cook and the calories are sitting at a lovely 100.will this unseat Darth Garlic as my go to Righteous Felon treat? Probably not, but it will be added to the list of Items I will purchase again on my next order.
I was pleasantly surprised by this morning’s weigh in. I may have gained weight over the holiday but it was only about a pound. Please excuse the hair in the photo by the way. I brushed my hair before pulling the scale out and didn’t realize there was hair on the floor until later. I saw it after I put the scale back in it’s out of the way place and cleaned up the floor but until I sat down to post this I didn’t realize it was in frame. It is the curse of a clear glass scale. well that and the reflection of me taking the photo.
Anyway, while a weight gain isn’t something I would normally celebrate i have to say I am pleasantly surprised that it was only one -ish pounds. I was expecting a lot more actually. Especially after yesterday’s realization. I posted about this on my daily post, but to sum up, I realized that Each time I didn’t really feel like doing my indoor workouts I would lower the reps that I did and then later forget that i lowered them so the lower number became standard. Until the next time I didn’t really feel like doing them and so I’d knock off another couple. It was a bad cycle.
I’ve fixed it by creating a spreadsheet actually. It’s a simple Excel sheet with the numbers clearly marked on the page. Like my food journal it is helpful for me to write everything down. And if I have to see the numbers I can’t fake them to myself. I have the bad habit of thinking, Oh I’m sure I only planned to do twenty of these squats today. If I have marked down on the paper that it was in fact thirty, it is harder to think twenty because I’ll know I am lying to myself. It is the same with food actually. Measuring and weighing are a bit of a pain, but it keeps me from saying things like, sure that looks like only half a cup. And then only counting half a cups worth of calories when i actually consumed a full cup.
Which I actually started recording my food again this week as well. during December I did pretty good with recording the meals I prepared. The problem was that I had a lot of meals that I didn’t prepare. Which is why I was expecting a lot more of a weight gain. So, pleasantly surprised. Let’s get the official stats for the first weigh in for the new year then.
Starting Weight: 246.0 lbs
This week’s weight: 235.3 lbs
Lost thus far: 10.7 lbs
I know there is still a long way to go but I am committed to reaching a healthy weight. And I think I have set myself up with the tools to accomplish this in 2023. At least that is the plan. It is one I hope to stick to. As it is January, hopes are high. I think that if I can stick with the plan, I can manage it. I suppose we have twelve months to figure that out.
Well I seem to be recovering from the holiday fairly well but the weather it seems is in for a relapse. The sun started out late as though it too wanted to sleep through the alarm and then it rallied for a bit. Now, clouds are moving in and the sun is nowhere to be found. It is days like this that make me just want to crawl back into bed. However I actually had my eyes flutter open around three am this morning and refuse to shut again. They would blink but as for actual sleep, that was a no go.
I am still oddly awake and not the slightest bit sleepy now even though it is mid afternoon. I thought that lunch time would see me start to drowse, which is why I went in hard this morning on all the things I needed to do. . I figured there might be an urgent nap time in the afternoon. Thus far, no call for napping. Which I am okay with. If I can stay awake and non drowsy for the rest of the day there is a good chance that I will sleep well tonight. I know, a bit more than you probably care to know, but i find it a bit strange.
Between the weather and the sleep it is throwing off my exercise game though.
I think that has been heavily on my mind since I got back. December was filled with more gatherings than I think we have had in the past few years. I think part of it is that most of my friends are extra cautious and so any get togethers have been very much social distanced. I think there is also a desire to get together and I think there were also family issues this year. Some people weren’t traveling for various reasons but still wanted to get together. Or maybe I am just more aware of it this year. My mother declared this was a minimum Christmas this year. My brother’s birthday was on December 29th and so his birthday and Christmas were always linked and the first year after his death was hard on all of us. It is also why we made such a big deal about Thanksgiving this year. No one was going to be in the mood for a big Christmas. And if there weren’t little kids to celebrate i think my mother would have called the entire Holiday off this year.
Food wise I was okay with the snacking. I managed to limit myself. But i also noticed that as the month went on and more and more non-standard affairs went on, the less I kept track of things. i also took time out for doing the extra holiday things. I have no complaints about that. I enjoy wrapping presents and decorating for the holiday and all the other things that have to do with the holidays but there is no denying that they do take time. And if work still has to be done then it is exercise time that gets shorted.
It also didn’t help that when the temps dropped to single digits, the sunroom where I do my indoor workouts became positively frigid so several of those workouts got skipped. And on the 29th I celebrated (if that is the right term) my brother’s birthday with Pizza and the WWE’s Royal Rumble. As did all of the family actually. I think a couple of people deliberately signed onto a streaming service to be able to see it. My brother adored both the WWE and pizza so it seemed a fitting thing to do. I am glad I did it. There was laughter as well as tears and it was good.
It has also been a really long time since I mindlessly ate in front of the television. Usually i separate food and TV. I ate far more than I needed to.
All of this means i am pretty sure i gained weight over the holiday. I will find out Friday morning, but I wanted to put this here. It is sort of to brace myself. I have already admitted to myself that I gained weight and acknowledged why. I know it isn;t a normal thing and can thus move on, accepting what Friday’s scale tells me.
I know, sorry to pull you into my personal therapy but I am guessing that in this wide world I am not the only one who is facing January realizing that the indulgences of December did not magically disappear when the calendar turned on New Year’s. For me it always helps to sort of sit down, face what I did and why I stepped out of my plan. It helps me let it go so that when I step on the scale Friday morning i can face the numbers knowing that I have already addressed the issue. I find separating the addressing the issue and the stepping on the scale helps me out. Perhaps it will help you too.
Which was heavier than I planned to get on a Tuesday. We’ll chalk it up to low sleep and move into something lighter.
Primer: Marc Jacobs Under (cover) primer (discontinued- from the January Use Up Box)
The Mar Jacobs Primer is from my use up box and is discontinued. I’m hoping to use it up this month and clear it out. I really like it but alas, it is no longer being made.
I love this Yensa Foundation. I enjoy their other foundations, but this is my favorite. in fact at the moment it is my hands down favorite foundation in my collection It is half empty at the moment and I am trying to hold up repurchasing it. i think that I might have to make a deal with myself. If I clear out two foundations from my collection I can repurchase this one. It is just my favorite go to foundation and it always looks good on my skin.
This Real Her Cheek Trio I actually took with me traveling. It is slim and compact and the product work really well. I tend to lean more heavily on this in the summer because of the shades but if I dip lightly into the pan it works well in the winter time as well. The highlighter is the one product I don’t like in the winter. In the summer when i am tanned it blends really well with my skin but in the winter when i am a bit pale it tends to look a little brassy on the skin. So I avoided the highlighter. As I like the natural glow of the Yensa foundation it worked out well.
I went for the Becca powder today because I am so close to using it up. It is part of my use up box and I actually think that with this week and possibly next weeks worth of use I can actually use it all the way up. It is a great powder but discontinued and the packaging is quite bulky. I know I won’t reach for it once i order a new pink powder (and will probably end up trying out several pink powders to find one I like which will also take up space) so I want to clear it out before i look for a replacement. So for the next week or so, I will be using it a lot.
I tend to forget eyelid primers a lot and so this one is getting a little on the old side which is why I put it in my use up box. It is my favorite eyeshadow primer though so once it is used up I will probably reorder it. I have a few shadows that really need a primer underneath. The Urban Decay isn’t one of them, but it didn’t hurt anything and I am trying to get in the habit of using it. It works well and creates a nice even colored canvas for the shadow.
I love this Naked Honey eyeshadow palette. It is easy to work with and instead of just slapping on a shade (which I can do with this palette) it always calls me to play. which is fun with eyeshadow. I just really like playing with this palette. i know i have several palettes i need to test out (and am looking forward to testing out) but this is just one of my favorite eyeshadow palettes and I figured if i was using one of my favorite foundations then i might as well use one of my favorite eyeshadow palettes. It is just such a fantastic palette. I just couldn’t resist it today.
This is a brand new tube of mascara opened for the first time today. However the name sounds familiar and makes me feel like I have tried it as a sample at some point. However I can’t recall it at the moment. The wand is thin and I usually prefer thicker wands. It works well. It is supposed to volumize, lengthen and lift if you are wondering the three threats. There is no volumizing but it lengthens pretty decently and it lifts well. The lifting is it’s strong suit. It is a decent mascara but it is one i will use and let go of not one I will repurchase. I am happy to use it though.
This year seemed to be the brow gel invasion. I tried not to take it as a personal commentary, but I do have a lot of brow gels to try out. In general I love Grande cosmetics. when my ill fated attempts to use false lashes ended up ripping out most of my natural lashes I turned to them and they did an amazing repair job with their lash serum (Highly recommend, btw). I tried their liner yesterday and need to practice and continue using it as it went on really well and lasted all day. it is just my application of a liquid liner that needs to improve. So I ad no trouble deciding to pick this out of my stack of brow gels to try first. This is a clear gel which I like and it locks my brows into place without feeling like I have superglue on my eyebrows. Thus far I am rather enjoying it. The volumizing did have me worried I would end up looking a bit Neanderthal but thus far we are doing just fine. We’ll see how I feel as use continues.
This is one of the two lipsticks in my use up box, mostly because there is not a lot of product left in the tube and the tube is aging. I love the color but it is a little bit of a drying formula. It does cause it to crumble a little after mid day, but for a morning meting it is really good. I just add lip balm over it post lunch.
I will be honest i do tend to forget to use setting sprays. I have a bunch of them I need to use so I chose the Ciate to start with. Mostly because it came in a Boxycharm recently (December I think) and it was at the front of the shelf. It has a nice mist to it and a nice watermelon scent which is kind of nice and summery. I figure if the weather can forget the seasons so can my setting spray. It works well and I will be using it every day in January. At the end of the month I will see how i feel about it and if it is worth repurchasing. For the moment though I really like it. The scent is really not much of an issue. It is the spray that gets me. this has a fine mister which is what I look for as it means fewer chances of splotches of wet on my makeup. Thus far it is also locking in the makeup well so that is also a good thing. I am more than happy to use this setting spray for the month. Plus in winter a good setting spray helps me from looking dry and powdery as the day wears on.
And that my darlings is me today. I started with a fabulous foundation and used my favorite eyeshadows so personally I am happy. And now, it is back to work for me. I’m doing my best to stay a head of things this year. It’s not exactly a new year’s resolution, just an understanding that things happen and if I am always a little ahead, the things that happen might not take as dramatic a chunk out of my schedule. I know it is a vain hope but as I spent the last few months trying desperately to catch up after my schedule was torpedoed, I rather enjoy the thought of actually being slightly ahead. It makes me happy.
This morning I woke up feeling like the end of the year was just steamrolling towards me. I know, I am anxious for this year to finally be over and done with. I am so ready to just turn the page. At the same time I have a long list of things that needs to get done not only before the end of the year but before I take off for Christmas. I’m leaving late, but staying a few extra days after to help with the putting away of everything. As my Mom is now working with one hand she needs someone to take down the tree and put things away. we got everything out while we were down over Thanksgiving and even though she likes to extend her holiday tree time she wants us to take it down before we leave.
I think part of that is practicality, but part of it is also this bad year. My brother died in May and this is the first Christmas without him which is hard in general but because his Birthday was December 29th Christmas and his birthday were always so intertwined that we all just want to skate through it this year. I admit it has been one of the years where the festive cheer is a little low, but family is all the more treasured.
This week starts the first of the holiday parties. Well actually the first was on Friday. It was fantastic. I indulged a little but before I left home I had a big bowl of minestrone soup (and then brushed my teeth before walking out of the door so I didn’t blast anyone with minestrone breath).Having the relatively low calorie but incredibly filling soup in me meant that I could take a few of the items that I wanted to taste without eating a lot of the highly caloric foods at the party because I was hungry. It meant that I got the treat without completely torpedoing myself with calories.
I know, it sounds like a strange consideration because you want to partake of all of the holiday delights but I sat down with myself and thought about it and there were only a few items that I really enjoy eating and a bunch of things I eat simply because they are there and because I don’t want to be the person who takes all of anything so if I am hungry I tend to graze, taking one or two things from each tray rather than just focus on my favorites. With a bowl of soup in me, I can take one of each of my favorites without the grazing on things i don’t particularly want, maybe even indulging in a second item I really enjoy.
As most of the gatherings I am going to this year have the patter style grazing so that people can move openly in a relatively large space, this is a trick that really helps me out. And why I now have soups ready to go for the week. I don’t know what sort of holiday gatherings you are going to this year, but if you are trying to watch what you eat, I highly suggest going for a soup that feels hearty and filling. This is not the time for a light consume. This is actually the time for mushrooms to shine in my opinion. They give a depth to soup, but you also have to chew them so both flavor and texture wise it feels like you are consuming more than you actually are. Just stick to the broth based mushroom soups rather than the cream ones if you are looking to cut those calories while still getting that satisfied belly.
This is the last week of this primer. By the end of the week it will be no more. The primer is a good one, but it has been discontinued and so I will use it and even though the refills are still available, I will let it go. It is a really good product though so the temptation to pick it up on amazon is strong. But I will resist.
As for the foundation stick. It too was fabulous. It too is discontinued. Amazon still has it but the brand has gone under. I loved this stick and have been trying to use up the last of it. Today was the last day of use. It is now off to the land of empties and as good as it was, it will not be returning. Let’s all have a moment of silence. Thank you.
Moving on. The Iconic London Contour pot. Love the powder, hate the cream. I have tried and while I will break it out in a review with pictures, the cream just doesn’t work right for me. I do love the powder though and the size makes it perfect for travel. I think after the review is posted I will forget the cream exists and just use the powder. For now I feel compelled to keep giving it a try to see if I can make it work. It didn’t today and I had to take it off, redo the foundation and then use the powder. At least the foundation touch up used the very last dregs of the foundation so I feel even better about letting it go.
This blush I haven’t used enough to know if I like it or not. It needs to be warmed up before it can apply right and when I tried applying it with a finger tip it blended away pretty quickly. After warming up I could apply it with a makeup sponge and then it worked really well. I think I will have to play with it more to really decide if i like it or if it is a cream blush i don’t want to bother with. At the moment I am kind of on the fence.
What can I say, I love this setting powder. I know, I’ll start switching them out soon as I rotate through products, but i really like this. The slight tint keeps it from looking blinding on me. and it really sets my makeup well.
I could not resist the Tresluce palette. Well more accurately speaking I couldn’t resist the gold foil shadow. I will admit that I just sort of slapped on the other colors so the gold would have something to play against. I really just wanted to see if it went on as fabulous as the finger swatch, and it did. I also made a little bit of a mess. I think these shadows will need to be applied with a damp cotton swab because they are thinner than my fingers and i have more control that way. But as messy as i was the shadow looks amazing in person. Like I gold leaf-ed my eyelid. I am so going to have to play around with that.
I was going to go for something more neutral with the lips but that gold just yelled “Grab the red lipstick!” And so I did. I went for the Guerlain because I really just love the lipstick. And because the gold felt luxe. And so does the lipstick. So it worked out.
And yes for those following along i completely forgot the mascara. I didn’t realize it until about an hour ago and then just said oops. I will survive.
And so that is me today my darlings. The light is strange on the photos as the sun is no where to be found and I used the ring light on my makeup mirror to keep the shadows from making the pictures pointless. I like to take the photos in natural light so they show the makeup in real life. But alas real light was hard to find today.
Paperwork however is easy to find. The race to the end of the year has arrived and I must join in to clear my desk before I take off. I suspect many of you are doing the same so I will leave you to it. Thanks for taking a little break with me.
For those of you looking to stock up, No7 has 60% off selected makeup items. The sale is from today until the 19th of December. The Perfect Light Pressed powder and the Lift and Luminate Serum Foundation from No 7 are staples of my makeup bag. I highly recommend both. Happy Shopping.
This may seem like a bit of a strange gift suggestion idea but for my family it actually works really well. First off Righteous Felon Craft Jerky is really good quality Jerky. If you go to their about pages you can not only read about how they source clean ingredients with no added hormones. In addition you can also check out the 44 Roseda Farms where their beef is sourced. I am a big fan of knowing where things originate, especially with food.
In addition to being well sourced, it is absolutely delicious.
Beef Jerky has always been one of my favorite snack items. I know, it is kind of amusing since as a rule I don’t actually eat a lot of beef. I like it, but it is a once in a while treat not an everyday or even every week sort of meal for me. It never really has been.
But I love my beef jerky.
During the week I will have a bag and portion out a few pieces here and there as an afternoon snack. It has great protein and it really takes so little to make me feel like I had a really big snack.
At this time of year though, i stock up for road snacks. While the gas station stop is inevitable because no matter what people snacks I take with me, the car still needs to fuel up too. But having good snacks in the car means that i am not stocking up on some not so great for me snacks when we pause to feed the car.
And as my family is scattered, I am not the only one with a road trip both before and after a holiday. These make the perfect stocking stuffers as I can order a large pack and split it out depending on who likes what. There are flavors to suit pretty much every taste. I am partial to the Darth Garlic and the Habanero Escobar. My babydoll loves the Voodoo Chile (that one is slightly too spicy for me which means he gets the bag to himself which makes him happy).
If you are going on a road trip or have family that is traveling for the holidays this is a great addition to the holiday gift giving, or personal stash. It is also great for those who just enjoy good quality Beef Jerky. While the image here is from the large variety pack that lets you sample all of their varieties, they have many different packs this year, some single variety for those who know exactly what they like. And for those who don’t want the beef jerky party to end, they offer subscriptions as well. That’s right jerky that arrives like magic upon your doorstep for all of your snacking needs.
Well, maybe the subscription isn’t magic. but it kind of feels like it.
For me, it is a great high protein weekday snack and a fabulous road trip supply to stock up on. At this time of year, Righteous Felon also becomes an amazing stocking stuffer.
That’s right it is time for the prep work for dinner. This is one of my favorite easy weeknight meals. While I work from home now, I used to make this all the time when I was working. It is a simple recipe and when I have a busy day ahead, I can prep all of the ingredients the night before and then just put them into the crockpot in the morning and forget about it for the day. It is a longer list of ingredients but many of them are staple pantry items that I almost always have on hand. So making it only requires a little shopping for fresh veg.
1 can coconut milk (928 per can)
1 coconut milk can’s worth of water (0 cal)
a head of broccoli (60 cal in three cups, which was what my broccoli head yielded)
1 can chickpeas, drained (506 cal per can)
1 sweet potato, cubed (I go with larger cubes so they retain their texture over the long slow cook (114 cal)
1 yellow onion diced (115 cal)
2 cloves minced garlic (8 calories)
2 tsp grated ginger (2 cal)
1 tsp red pepper flakes (6 calories)
1 T ground turmeric (24 calories)
1T cumin (22 calories)
1T paprika (19 calories)
2 tsp salt
28 oz can diced tomatoes (254 calories)
and rice for serving (make separately)
Without the rice the calories for this entire slow cooker’s worth of food is 2058 calories. It gives me and my babydoll four meals. There are two of us so this is eight portions. Each portion is approximately 258 calories without rice. I usually have half a cup of cooked white rice with my portion which adds 121 calories so for me a portion would be about 379 calories. You might separate it differently so I put the calories for the whole thing above. Hopefully that helps you out with your math.
Are you ready for the directions?
put the sweet potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker.
Add everything except the broccoli
If you are home when this is cooking, leave out the broccoli at this point and turn the slow cooker on low for 8 hours or high for four.
If cooking for eight hours add one additional cup of water.
In the last hour of cooking, add the broccoli and allow it to finish cooking.
If you are not home to add the broccoli for the last hour, layer it on top of everything else and don’t mix it in before setting it on to cook. It will still be okay if you add it earlier it will still be good, just softer. Sometimes I like to have left over broccoli (pre cooked) that I just add in the last few minutes to warm up with the rest of the curry. It is something to play with, depending on how you feel about broccoli.
This is really a super simple recipe to make and I find it really delicious. I personally like the heat level on this but my babydoll does add a squirt of siracha to his bowl. In addition, when I make this, it does make enough for use to have four meals. (there are two of us). I only make enough rice for us to eat with that night’s portion and we mix the rise with the curry in our bowls. This mix does freeze very well actually. The broccoli suffers a little with the reheat, but over all it is great to have extra meals ready to go when things get hectic so I will take a little broccoli wiltage for that.
We eat this as a nice hearty vegetarian meal. You an of course add chicken to it if you wanted. Occasionally I have added chicken to use up left overs. However I don’t think that this meal needs the addition. It is hearty and filling and feels far more caloric than it actually is. (In case you are wondering what the speckles are in the picture, we had a little quinoa left in the bag that wasn’t enough for a portion so to clear the cabinet I added it – you can put it in raw and it cooks with everything else, just add about half a cup more water. It mostly breaks down and thickens the sauce) I find it especially satisfying on a cold evening when the wind is icy and I need warming from my bones outward.
I’m sure if you have read my posts for any length of time you will have realized that I love to garden. And while I simply do love to garden, I also find that it helps me with my weight loss. I know the activity part is helpful, but once the summer fades and the garden is munched over for the winter, the physical activity is minimal.
Where gardening mostly helps me, is in the kitchen. If you have ever watched a lot of cooking shows then you have probably heard the phrase fat is flavor. Sadly this is true, however you know what else has flavor? Herbs and spices.
For me fresh herbs especially make something potentially very bland feel somewhat decadent, especially in the cold winter months. Think about rice, Plain old boiled white rice. On it’s own not so flavor packed. It is a blank canvas, usually to spoon something dripping with sauce on to. However, a little bit of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon mixed in and it becomes a little less boring.
When you are trying to loose weight food can feel dull and flavorless. Everything it seems is taken out in the name of calorie reduction. Fat is removed, salt is removed, sugar is banned and sauces are kept to a minimum. For me fresh herbs are just a fantastic way to bring back some of that flavor. And in the winter I rely on indoor gardening. The herb bundles of fresh herbs you can get in our grocery over the winter are usually very pricy for what you get and the herbs are not always the best quality. They look like they sat in their little plastic boxes for far too long. which they probably have.
So I like to keep a few potted plants around to not only cut costs but because having plants around makes me happy. In addition if they are there I feel obligated to use them which in turn makes my dishes taste better without adding a lot of calories. The calories you add from fresh herbs is minimal. It is surprising how much fresh basil you can get on the plate for only three calories.
And for easy shopping they now have gift bundles available. They have the chef’s herb garden for a general array of the more classics cooking herbs. There is a bundle for those who want to grow vegetables in containers. There is even a bundle for those simply obsessed with chilie peppers.
these bundles are well thought out collections and a great way to start your own indoor garden, help someone else on their way to gardening or surprise your gardener in the family with something unexpected in their Christmas stocking. I really like these bundles and actually ordered the Butterfly Banquet Bundle for my mother this year. She has this one space in her yard that the plants included in the bundle will fill out nicely and with luck attract butterflies in the spring. which I know will make her happy to see well after the holiday decorations are put away and hopefully for several years to come. And that Makes Botanical Interests a great place to visit when filling out your holiday gift list.
I have been slowly working my way through the Starter Kit Box of teas from The Art of Tea. This Pacific coast Mint is the fifth tea out of this mixed pack of eight tea bags. The first tea I pulled out of the box was one that I had wanted to try for a while. The other three were more or less picked because they interested me.
I intended to pick the teas out of the sampler box at random, but instead I went for the ones I was ninety percent certain that I would like. And all four of the ones I tried prior I loved. This Pacific Coast Mint was one that I wasn’t really sold on.
I love peppermint. I actually adore almost anything peppermint. I stock up on peppermint scented products as soon as they are available each winter. I am pretty sure that my love of plumping lipstick is mostly because they usually smell of peppermint. I also grow peppermint and each year we dry bunches of it and drink it through the winter. It is my favorite thing to drink when my stomach is feeling a little unsettled actually. Not only is it great when you are sick, but it really helps with digestion and settling a belly too full of rich holiday foods.
Do you know what I don’t like?
I absolutely despise spearmint.
The two ingredients in this Pacific Coast Mint are organic peppermint and organic spearmint.
So you can see why I was a little on the fence. Luckily my babydoll likes both. So I made up the tea when he was home. This blend is listed as sharp and smooth as well as caffeine free. The teabag, when taken out of the pouch was predominantly of spearmint. When brewed according to the suggested time, the scent mellowed out. The peppermint rose and the spearmint faded back a little.
I took a sip of the tea and found it was far to spearmint in flavor for me. So I passed it to my babydoll to drink the rest of the cup. After all what may not be to my taste may be to his and we order things for both of our palettes. I will say that the taste was both sharp and smooth in flavor from my taste.
My babydoll’s take on it was that it was a good blend of the two mints and was a good mint tea. I asked him if he would like me to order a canister of it and he said that if we didn’t grow our own mint it would be a good mint to order. Because we do grow and harvest our own mint (mostly because we planted it in a small bed and it ended up taking over completely so it is harvest the mint or watch it take over the world) this is not something we would order.
If you don’t grow your own mint and like both peppermint and spearmint then this might be a tea for you. we grow peppermint and I don’t like spearmint so this is a tea I will pass along to someone else. My babydoll will drink it if it is here, but we will not be adding a canister to our order.
This is the time of year where I crave the warm and rich flavors of large meals. And I have to admit that I love a good chicken parmesan. I know there are ways to reduce the calories in a traditional chicken parm but I also have to admit that whenever I use them I feel like I am eating a chicken parm substitute.
So for me, the best way to get my brain shifted is to think stuffed peppers with a twist. While I like stuffed peppers, I never really crave stuffed peppers. For me at least, they are not in the same crave-able category. I find that if I say stuffed peppers with a twist my brain doesn’t have the gooey chicken parmesan expectations so instead of being disappointed that this isn’t a traditional dish, I am pleasantly surprised by the flavors.
And I am surprised by the lowered calories. Because the one thing this recipe does, is limit the amount of cheese used. There simply isn’t enough space to put the same heaping mounds as I do with the traditional dish. For this recipe I used four peppers (two red Bell and two Poblano). I like both actually. For a light dinner I generally find that one half of the bell pepper is the perfect size for me. My babydoll likes both poblanos or one entire red pepper). The peppers are still good the next day so we have the left overs for lunch. They reheat pretty well the next day. I have never had them last longer than one day so I am not certain how well they keep long term.
The reason that we make this number of peppers is because when we purchase chicken we break it into one pound portions and freeze it that way. If we use four bell peppers it uses up all of the one pound of chicken, with the poblanos it leaves a little left over chicken that I use in a salad.
If you don’t eat chicken, feel free to leave it off. (You will also be able to leave off the egg.) Instead just use the seasoned panko as your crispy element)
It is a pretty simple recipe all told and fun to play around with. I broke out the calories for each item and put the full count for the whole recipe as I made it as well as for my portion size at the bottom of the ingredients list. This is how I make it, but hopefully the break out will let you tweak it to your individual needs)so let’s get into it.
4 peppers (bell, poblano or a mix of your choice) – 24 cal per bell pepper (whole), 48 calories per poblano pepper)
one cup of marinara sauce (131 calories for the whole cup, 8 per tablespoon)
half a cup of grated parmesan cheese (216 per half cup, 22 calories per tablespoon)
four ounces of mozzarella cheese (316 for four ounces, 79 cal in one ounce)
one pound of chicken cut into small pieces (can use breast or thigh as is your choice) (breast:748 in one pound, 62 calories in one half pepper full thigh:802 cal per pound122 cal per half pepper
once cup unseasoned panko bread crumbs (you will have some left over, (640 cal per cup/ 80 cal per half pepper which I use for the final count but I never use all of the crumbs)
one egg (78 cal 8 cal per portion)
two tsp dried oregano (6 cal per whole recipe)
1 tsp dried rosemary (3 cal per whole recipe)
2 tsp garlic powder (3 cal per recipe)
1 tsp dried onion flakes (17 cal per recipe)
eight fresh basil leaves (if you have them, if not add 1 tsp dried basil) (three cal per recipe)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (83 Cal)
Approximate Calories for the entire recipe: 2,438 calories for the entire dish
Approximate Calories per portion size (one half of a bell pepper) apx 305 calories for one portion
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Chicken or crispy bits (if no chicken):
In a plastic container with a lid add oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes and if using dried basil (if using fresh, set the leaves aside for now).
Add in the panko bread crumbs.
Put the lid on and shake the mix to combine all of the ingredients. Then taste the bread crumbs and adjust, if you need more salt or pepper, add it now. This is the seasoning for your chicken so make sure it suits your taste.
in a separate bowl, whip your egg with a fork.
Then we bread. Dip your chicken in the egg and then into the bread crumb mix. I like to add a few pieces to the mix, put the lid on and shake, then put the coated pieces on a plate until everything is done. I find it stays neater this way.
Discard whatever bread crumbs remain after this as they are now contaminated with raw chicken.
If not using chicken, make the mix as above.
To the Stove top!
Take your breaded chicken bits, or seasoned bread crumbs if not using chicken, to the stove.
Heat the vegetable oil in the pan on medium heat and when a bread crumb dropped in sizzles, start adding the chicken. You are trying to get a crisp on the bread crumbs. You are also cooking the chicken somewhat (about 80%). If there are some pink bits when you are done, that is okay as it is going into the oven. This is to start the cooking process so everything is done at the same time and to crisp the bread crumbs.
Work in batches so that you get all of the chicken crisped up and at least partially cooked through.
If not using chickee, heat the oil on medium heat and then add the bread crumbs to toast in the hot oil. When they are golden brown remove from the heat and set aside (I like to put them on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil – i do this with just the bread crumbs as well as the chicken bits)
Once the chicken is done I set it aside and clear away the breading station and sauté pan.
Preparing the peppers
Slice in half and take out the seeds.
put the peppers in a glass baking dish. I like to line them up so they help keep each other upright like little cups.
Add a Tablespoon (more if you like) of marinara to each pepper half.
Add a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese to each pepper half.
Add in your chicken or a heaping spoonful of your toasted bread crumbs. (The part that touches the sauce below and the cheese above will loose some of it’s crispness, so don’t try and be neat with the laying out of the crispy bits. it is the center part that will stay crisp so sort of mound the chicken or bread crumbs.)
Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese (you are welcome to use grated if you like, just make sure you have a thick layer. You need the moisture inside keeping the chicken from drying out and you want the bread crumbs protected so they don’t burn. I find it easier to have a block of mozzarella and slice it into the appropriate amount. If you find mozzarella difficult to slice, put it in the freezer for ten minutes and then slice. you don’t want to actually freeze it, you just want to get it firm with the cold.)
Once everything is assembled put it into the over for 45 minutes. Or until the mozzarella is bubbling with brown spots and the pepper is kind of wrinkly and saggy looking and cooked all the way through. Serve hot.
I love this recipe because it reduces both the amount of chicken and the amount of cheese I consume in a sitting, yet still makes me feel like i am having something just a little bit decadent. I actually use this technique for a lot of heavier dishes I like. I will make Chicken cordon bleu peppers for example. The trick is to take the key elements of the heavier dish and shrink down the portions while still retaining the flavor. It also helps that I live with someone who loves stuffed peppers regardless of what is stuffed into them. For me this is a quick and easy dinner with left overs that can be eaten the next day.
If you are on your own or find that this portion is too much for your household, you can prepare the recipe as above. If leaving out the chicken just toast a smaller amount of bread crumbs for your portion size. If using the chicken make sure to cook it all the way through if reserving for another night, or just cook a smaller amount of chicken, one breast or thigh instead of one pound. When I lived on my own i would just make this as a single pepper meal. and used one chicken thigh. I ate one half for dinner and ate the second one the next day. It is a very scalable meal
The colder weather brings out the yearning for some old school comfort foods. with a little adjustment this is one of the recipes I use to give me that comforting flavor, while keeping the calories in check. I hope it helps you as you move from fall to winter as well.
When I was little we had a family friend who made Matcha flavored gelato. At the time Matcha wasn’t something that was very common or well known. It wasn’t something you could get at Starbucks. Of course since this was the early 1980s Starbucks was still something you could only get in Seattle (I think their first location outside Seattle was in 1987).
For me this was an eye opening experience. While I liked the occasional sweet as much as any other kid, there were a lot of things that i always found too sweet for my taste. This Matcha Gelato was delicately flavored. The gelato part was rich and creamy but the mix was only lightly sweetened. The grassy notes came through and I thought it was amazing. She made it only once a year and it was a treat that i always looked forward to when she brought it over. Each portion was a small rounded mound of gelato served in a small blue porcelain bowl that I’m pretty sure spent the rest of the year being used to serve soy sauce.
Time of course passes and not only did Starbucks spread through out the land (and many others) Matcha became much more available and began turning up everywhere. In many places where it is served cold, it is also served far too sweet for me to enjoy and so I switched to the hot version.
After being introduced to Matcha in gelato, it took me a little while to adjust to the flavor in a hot beverage, but now it is one of my favorite teas.
This Matcha from the Art of Tea came in the Sampler kit i am working my way through and contains just two ingredients: Organic Matcha and Organic Sencha Green Tea. It is listed as having a bright grassy flavor and medium caffeine. For me the medium caffeine is the perfect level for an afternoon treat. It is enough of a pick me up, but not enough to make me feel jittery.
the flavor nots are spot on it has those clean grassy notes that i love so much. With only a one minute brew time it was a quick and easy treat. After a sip of the Matcha tea straight, I added a pinch of sugar and a dash of cream. The additions were enough to take me back to that first Matcha Flavored Gelato, although with far fewer calories.
While I appreciated the flight of memory, the slight additions made me think of the gelato and so the cup of tea felt like so much more substantial and decadent. While I would definitely enjoy this tea as simply as an undoctored cup of tea, I did enjoy the touch of sweetness and creaminess. Although to be honest, a part of me wants to get several packets of this tea and break out my gelato recipe and infuse the cream with the matcha from the Art of Tea, recreating a childhood favorite. As a hot tea or a later gelato infusion, I can honestly say I will be ordering this tea again. I may even order the matcha tumbler or even the ceremonial matcha set they have on offer on the Art of Tea site. While the Ceremonial set plays into my love of glassware, I really do think the double glass walled tumbler with the on the go matcha packets will also be a purchase in my near future.