Dinnertime Prep: A different sort of stuffed pepper, Chicken Parm Style

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.

Ingredients:

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

Steps:

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.

Weekly Weight: 235.7 Lbs

If you are looking at the scale and thinking, wait a minute, that is the same number as last week, I congratulate you on your excellent memory. It is the same number as last week. I suppose after the more than four pounds dropped last week it should be expected that there would be little change this week. That is generally what happens with me.

More than four pounds in one week is a really big number for me, so I wasn’t expecting a big change this week.

This week i kept on keeping on. I missed a few exercises. due to rain early in the week and yesterday my brain was focused on getting a story out of my head so I shorted pretty much everything, including exercise. But I did manage to keep a tight reign on my food.

I am back in the habit of using the free version of My Fitness Pal. I have started remembering to put in my food and exercise on a daily basis and that has really kept me on track. I wanted to get back into the habit of using the free version of the app before I tried out the paid version. Since I am now in the habit I will be starting my paid month long trial (that is me paying for the app instead of the free version, no one is actually paying me to try the app) in November. I think nit will be quite helpful going into the holidays actually and I am kind of excited to get that started.

Today it wasn’t that exciting to see the same number appear on the scale but it is understandable and not something I am overly worried about. I am hoping that if I keep doing what i know I should be doing, that number will change and I will be slowly easing my way into a healthy weight number.

And that is where I really want to be.

The Stats:

Starting Weight: 246.0 lbs

Last Week’s Weight: 235.7 lbs

This Week’s weight: 235.7 lbs

This week’s Change: No Change.

Lost over all: 10.3 lbs

and so we keep on. I know that I am doing the right things, I just need to have faith that the right things will eventually get me where I need to be. And if they don’t then i will go to my doctor and have a conversation about adjusting what is wrong so that I am doing right again. But for now, I understand why the scale didn’t move, even if it was disappointing. So minor disappointment but no anxiety over this week. It’s not fabulous, but it could be worse. have a great Friday everyone.

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Tea Time with Green Pomegranate from The Art of Tea

You know, there are several things I like about having an afternoon tea during the work day. First off is that the tea gives me a moment of quiet calm to reflect on how the day is going and to look at my schedule. While the tea steeps I can look over my to do list and see what still needs to be done and prioritize the remainder of my afternoon.

In addition, because I don’t really add much, if anything to my tea, it is a very low cal way to fill me up to keep me from snacking mid afternoon. Some afternoons there are snacks, but on the afternoons when i have tea, I tend to skip them as I am full of tea.

I also like having that something warm when it is cold and blustery outside and as the weather is once again leaning away from summer, I think I am going to enjoy that even more.

Plus I get to use some of the pottery and china I haven’t used in a while. (I couldn’t find my exact teapot for sale, but the English Tea shop does have plenty of sets of tea for one if you are interested. They are on sale and were the place with the most variety that I found when I went looking for a version of mine) Today’s pot and cup combo was actually perfect for The Art of Tea’s Green Pomegranate blend. The pot sits on top of the cup making it nice and neat for desk top use.

This Green Pomegranate Tea Blend is described as…

TASTING NOTES: FRESH, SWEET, TART

Sweeten your senses with a tart and tangy rush to the palate from this pomegranate green tea. Select organic green tea is hand tossed in a large wok, dried to perfection, then carefully blended with organic raspberries and essence of pomegranate.

*Due to global supply chain shortages, we are currently unable to source raspberry bits, and therefore, are not able to include raspberry bits in this blend. Please note that the flavor profile will remain unchanged and that we will return to our original recipe as soon as possible. Thank you for your understanding and patience.

The Art of Tea

So alas, my blend did not have raspberry bits in it, however, it did have the distinct taste of raspberry. In fact, the dry tea back smelled very much of raspberry. What was interesting is as the tea steeped, notes of pomegranate began to rise. when I poured out the first cup, the tea smelled of both of the fruits and I thought that it was going to be a little sweet.

It has a tiny bit of fruity sweetness, but the pomegranate has that tart taste to it. The raspberry seemed to provide the greener notes. It was more like the scent you get from raspberry leaves than the actual fruit. While I drank my cup plain today, I could see where a little dab of honey would be a good addition to the cup. We have a local honey in our pantry right now that I think would be a little too strong of a taste to blend with this mix. I think it might over power it. I think a honey from the spring, maybe orange or apple blossom based, would probably work best with this mix. i would again keep the additions light with just a tiny drop of honey though.

I don’t know where you are but here, the spring honey is lighter in taste than the summer honey is. I think yours may depend on what grows in your area (and when). I know the Art of tea sells honey sticks, but I haven’t actually tried them. I love honey sticks and our local producer has honey sticks in the spring and not later in the summer, so I usually stock up then, but I ran out actually. (we also use a lot of honey when we are sick and this summer’s bout of covid sort of knocked out our honey stash as we tried to combat sore throats.)

I didn’t add anything to today’s tea and I really did enjoy the tart, almost dry taste that was left on my tongue. I know that is a strange way to describe it but with really tart fruits, like pomegranate I always seem to have an almost dry sensation on my tongue after consuming. This tea produced that. I know this tea was supposed to have raspberry bits and I think that if they were added it would give this tea blend a sweetness rather than the greenness of the leaves. While I am sure I would like it, I really enjoyed this cup. while the Coconut Crème I can see myself serving for desert, this Green Pomegranate is the sort of fruity but not overly sweet type of tea that I prefer. And at only medium caffeine, it won’t make me jittery as I go back to work this afternoon. All in all a good, well rounded tea blend.

Snacktime: Broth Concentrate

This may seem like a strange snacktime post but I have to say that sometimes a warm cup of broth can be the best thing. A lot of my meal prep and planning go into making certain that I have healthy meals in a certain calorie level. I watch my proteins and my carbs as well when I am planning. This way I get the nutrients that i need and generally my food tastes pretty good.

However because the work week is so hectic and lunchtime so short, there is often a craving for something deeper. Here is where the concentrates really help out. A broth concentrate is basically a flavorful broth that has been boiled down to a gel like consistency.

You can buy them in boxes like this one pictured in a variety of flavors, including vegetarian ones). My personal favorite is the pho Chicken Broth Concentrate. There are not only a variety of flavors but a variety of brands. To be honest i really haven’t found that much difference in taste between the less and more expensive ones. This one happened to be on sale at the grocery store around the corner so I stocked up. I think typically the box sells for around $1.50 and contains four packets.

While I will for a dinner, dilute this into a stock pot and add all the delicious veg and noodles making it a full meal, I often find this is good as either a snack or a lunch time on the go. I take an insulated thermos and pour boiling water over the concentrate, stir and pop on the lid. I find my Teami mug perfect for this actually. It is made for tea but it works really well for broth.

Sipped slowly this broth feels far more filling than it actually is. One packet has only 25 calories. It feels like it should have at least a hundred more. It does have a high salt content so I do then to limit consumption to once a week at most and on the days when I drink it i tend to add several extra cups of water to my personal daily intake level.

For me soup has always had a comforting element to it. I think because the best soups seem to take all day to simmer. For me this is a way to get that comfort with out a lot of extra calories added to the day’s diet. It is also a good way to liven up a dinner that requires broth. While I always watch the salt content, for the occasional comforting snack or lunch break, this is a very good option to have on hand.



Snacktime: No Cow Protein Bar Lemon Meringue Pie

As I am sure i have mentioned before, snacktime is for me, one of the best ways to keep on track with my diet. A small snack around two in the afternoon really helps. I can convince myself to have a lighter lunch because I know I’m getting a little treat later in the afternoon and it keeps me from being too hungry at dinner time. My biggest dietary problem is portion control. I generally eat good foods and cook most of my meals at the house, I just some times eat bigger portions than I should. Snacks help me control my portions.

Part is because of the calories they impart, but part is psychological. I make sure that while the snack i choose has limited calories (I try not to go too far over a hundred) it is also something that is a tasty treat so that I feel like I’ve been bad, even when I haven’t.

With protein bars, you really have to watch the calories, for example this No Cow Lemon Meringue Pie Protein bar that I am trying today has 190 calories in it so I knew going in that I would only be eating half today and half tomorrow. In general I like to slice the bar in half and only talk half with me while the other half ends up in a zip top bag for the next day.

Now I am not a vegan and I am not a vegetarian. I do limit my meat intake to at most once a week (technically red meat we only eat maybe once a month at this point, but we eat fish once a week). My lunches are almost always vegetarian and at least three dinners a week are vegetarian. I love both cheese and charcuterie but i do limit them and make sure when i do indulge I go for higher quality.

The best way to get me to try anything is to make it lemon meringue pie flavored. To be honest I saw the bar in the rack at the grocery and thought “I’m low on snacks, oh Lemon Meringue Pie flavor, you shall be mine.” And then it ended up in the cart. When I put the groceries away i noticed the No Cow part and realized there was no dairy in them. Then I tried to recall if dairy was normal. Then I realized that in bar format I tend to go for the Nature Valley Oats and Honey granola bar which is of course not vegan because of the honey but has no dairy in it, but isn’t a protein bar either. Then I spiraled down a protein bar/dairy internet rabbit hole that I suggest you avoid.

The end result is that I love lemon meringue pie. It is my favorite desert and if you can give me something sweet and tart and reminiscent of that decadent dessert then I don’t care if it is vegan or not. So let’s take a look at the No Cow Protein Bar shall we?

According to the website it is…

Dairy Free, 22g Plant Protein, 1g Sugar, 18g Fiber, 190 Calories, Certified Gluten-Free and Kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified, Soy Free, Vegan, Made with pea and rice protein, stevia, and monk fruit, A perfect balance between tangy lemon and a slice of meringue pie. WE threw in some pea protein crisps for added texture too. Try not to salivate., Sweet as pie … high protein, low sugar pie. No Cow. No Bull. No Whey!™

No Cow

Taking the bar from the pack, it looks and feels like it is made with playdoh. It has the exact same texture as if I rolled a piece of playdoh in my hands to make a snake. it does have a pleasing lightly lemon/graham cracker scent to it which I thought was a good start. Biting into it is a bit like biting into a Fig Newton.

Does it taste of tangy lemon? Is it sweet as pie? No.

Chewing it it remains a fig newton like consistency but it tastes like sand. You know how when you go to the beach occasionally you get sand in your mouth? Delete the grittiness, but keep the taste. Add a slight hint of lemon, as though while you had a mouth full of sand a lemon went rolling by on the beach in front of you and you have the flavor of this bar.

To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Now I knew it wasn’t going to taste exactly like pie. I understand the low sugar aspect. But I figured the worst that would happen would be that it would taste just of lemons. I like lemon, so that wouldn’t be bad.

This was like a cruel joke.

Again, I may not be vegan but I have had plenty of yummy tasting vegan snacks. this simply wasn’t one of them. They should have at least been able to make it taste like lemon. Normally I like to look for the redeeming qualities in something, because most things do have them. I honestly can’t find the plus. It wasn’t good on any level.

Packing something with good for you things only works if you can make it taste good enough to eat. I couldn’t even get through the half that I earmarked for today’s snack. No Cow was a major disappointment.

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Weekly Weight: April No Scale Continues

Today I was actually relieved not to have to get on the scale. We had company last weekend and to be good hosts we brought in things we normally wouldn’t have in the house. Much of the week we have been dealing with left overs just to clear them out of the pantry. One of the things I have noticed though is the sugar intake.

I long ago cut out sodas from my normal day. We will keep a six pack of mini ginger ales in the cabinet, but to be honest, a six pack will last several months and then more than likely one can will be incorporated into a Friday night cocktail (Sometimes even a mocktail I really like taking one of those cans pouring it into a glass and adding a drop of sour cherry syrup to it and calling that my Friday Cocktail.)

We had three 12 can (regular sized) boxes on hand for company. My baby took one box to work just for meetings. I had a couple earlier in the week because they were there but after I realized the sugar was affecting me and my sleep patterns, i stopped drinking it. It is one of those things I simply don’t think about any more. People talk about how sugary drinks are bad for diets, but since I rarely indulge I focus more on salt and fat when I think about diets. Also my big weakness is cheese rather than chocolate so I know I can walk away from the sweets more easily than the savory.

It also helps that we don’t bring it into the house. But this week it was there. and because it was just there I indulged. I had one of those moments where I realized how much grocery shopping affects my diet. Simply put, you can’t eat what isn’t in the house. I know that sounds like a foolish statement to make but it was really brought home to me this week. This week I ate things simply because they were there. Why bother to add a little flavoring to water if the soda is right there taking up space? Why cut up celery sticks if there is a bag of chips right there? Do I know the other stuff is better for me? Of course, but the other stuff can be consumed with no effort or thought. And since we prepared things for company instead of preparing snacks and other things for the week, I hadn’t helped myself out by doing the prep work early like i usually do.

It was a bad week for food, but an eye opening one. even when you realize that what you by matters, sometimes you just need a hard reminder that you are the gatekeeper. You are the one who decides what to bring into the house and you are the one who ultimately decides what you will eat based on what you bring into the house. I knew that. Of course I knew that. But sometimes, it is really good to have that hard reminder. This week more than anything else, that was what I got. Sometimes, I just need things spelled out for me.

Hopefully it helps you too if you are on a similar get healthy journey with weight loss.

Kitchen Kit: Size Matters

Bigger is not always better. Sometimes it helps to go small, especially when you are trying to do portion control. Recently I picked up a set of bowls from Target’s Threshold collection that have proven to be absolutely fantastic additions to my kitchen and helpful in maintaining my portion control.

I do like the design (and they do come in several colors), however it’s main benefit is it’s size. This bowl holds eight ounces of liquid perfectly. It isn’t filled to the very brim, there is a space left at the top so you don’t slosh over the sides, but it is designed to hold eight ounces of liquid comfortably.

This makes it perfect for a cup of soup at lunch time. It keeps bowls of cereal and even pasta in check. It’s eight ounce size makes it easy to figure out exactly how much I am portioning out, even if i don’t feel like weighing out food on the scale or measuring it with a measuring cup.

It’s shape is also a benefit as well. Because it is round, it feels like it is deeper than it is and that it is holding more than it is. One of my favorite afternoon snacks is about four ounces of yogurt measured out of one of those large containers. Sometimes finding the measuring cup takes a bit more time then I am willing to give my afternoon snack. Because I know how full the half a cup of yogurt makes the bowl it is easy to figure out without hunting down a measuring cup.

And some days easy is better.

The shape of the bowl always makes me feel as though I am getting more though. In a bigger bowl, four ounces feels like a small amount. In this bowl four ounces feels like quite a lot. It makes my brain think that i am giving myself an extra large treat instead of skimping myself on a snack. And to be honest, sometimes tricking yourself helps.

I also like the way the shape of the bowl fits into my hands. These were relatively inexpensive bowls to pick up, $5 for a set of two, and they have more than proven their value and earned a spot in my kitchen. These stoneware bowls are dishwasher safe and microwave safe. Although if you do use them in the microwave they can get really hot so get a pot holder or towel handy to take them out.

In my kitchen I tend to keep what works and what I use, while letting go of the rest. There simply isn’t storage space to keep every kitchen Item I want to try out. There have been quite a few things that seemed like a good idea at the time, were used for a little while and then ended up donated to my local charity shop. These bowls however, will be staying with me for quite some time. Their size makes them useful in the kitchen and amazing at helping me stay on track with my portion control. Way to go Threshold and Target.

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Unboxing the Smoothie Box

Smoothie Box sent over one of their monthly Boxes for me to review. It arrived and I can not wait to get started trying them out. This review is for the box itself, but as I try the smoothies out i will review them separately. The box they sent to me is the Variety Box which contains four boxes of Smoothies. Each Box inside the Smoothie Box contains five individual packets of smoothies. So it is a total of 20 individual smoothies in the monthly Smoothie Box. The cost is $129 for the box which breaks down to $6.45 per smoothie.

I love smoothies. For me they are my essential summer time lunch. I like them year round actually, but in the summer when the heat and humidity are both in tripple digits, they are life savers.

the box is insulated with recyclable material

But they can get expensive and time consuming to make. You have to peel chop and dice. You have to measure and add up calories. And I’ll be honest, when I make smoothies at home, I will end up just putting fruit in them because I get irritated trying to figure out if my orange counts as a medium orange or if it is large. So they end up overly sweet and don’t actually feel like a meal. So then I’ll think ‘that wasn’t really a meal’ that was just a milk shake, and then go back to the kitchen to get something else to eat and totally blow my calorie count.

what I like about the Smoothie Box smoothies is that they are a blend of fruits and vegetables. The orange smoothie for example has not only mandarin segments but sweet potatoes, ginger, carrots and pumpkin seeds. The chocolate one also has bananas, kale and zucchini. Which honestly i wouldn’t have thought to put in, but works really well. It’s also the only way I’ve ever seen my babydoll enjoy zucchini.

dry ice, fun to create an atmosphere, just don’t touch with bare hands.

They are honestly a mix of ingredients I like having, but don’t often make the time to put together myself. Each packet contains two portions that are 120-130 calories each. I’ll be honest, If I am having the smoothie for a snack and not a full meal, I will cut them in half. If it is for a meal, like lunch, then I will make the whole bag. You have to add your own liquid. They recommend 8-12 ounces and I find they mix better with 12 ounces of liquid so I use eight ounces of milk and then four ounces of water. They do come with several recommendations of liquid that will work well with the ingredients they put into the bag so if you want to shake it up a bit you can.

Having the smoothies pre portioned makes them quick and easy to blend up. I also like that they are in small sized bags. We do not have the world’s largest freezer. The individual bags are small enough and once taken out of the boxes, flexible enough to fit into the freezer with little trouble. The box, when it arrives, looks enormous, so I was worried. The size is mostly due to the packing. The cardboard box is insulated and there is a bag of dry ice inside to keep everything frozen.

The individual boxes inside the bog box

When it arrived on my doorstep the smoothies were completely frozen and no melting had occurred. And then I got to have my own rock concert moment as I emptied the dry ice into the sink and then filled the sink with water. And the smoke began to rise. I might have gotten a few of the toy dinosaurs we have lying around and spent a few minutes pretending that my basil plant was a paleolithic fern as the dinos tromped through the smoke, but that is all part of disposing of dry ice properly. I’m sure it is in some sort of rule book.

Just remember not to touch the dry ice with your hands.

For me it was a fun little moment. As well as a way to stock my freezer.

There are various smoothies you can choose from or you can order one of their curated boxes. They have two the Variety pack which consists of on box of the Cacao, one of orange, one of Berry and one of Green. Their other curated box contains two boxes of berry and two of chocolate.

the single bag

If you are looking at timing, their shipping depends on your ordering. If you order by Tuesday then the order will ship out that week. If you order after Tuesday then the order will ship out the following week. My order arrived seven days after the order was placed. Shipping is a very variable thing right now but they do try for a really quick turn around.

I love that everything in there is real food and organic. I can pronounce everything in the ingredients list and with the pre measured potion sizes and the nutritional information on each bag I know exactly what I am consuming. They are not only less expansive than I would spend if i corralled all of the separate ingredients myself, but there is no waste, of wither food or time. I am not trying to figure out if this orange counts as medium or large so I can estimate my calories. I am not weighing out fruit and only putting part of the the orange in the blended while the rest goes to the fridge to be saved for later (and possibly get forgotten).

all the good stuff, calorie count, recommended add ins and ingredients

And the smoothie can be consumed at my desk. I know I should take time for a proper lunch away from the desk, but lately things have been kind of crazy so a lunch that is easy to eat while i work on days when i can’t actually take the time off for a proper lunch is really a benefit. Especially when it doesn’t get crumbs in the keyboard. As Spring promises to be a little bonkers schedule wise, it is nice to have quick meals that are also good for me that I can eat for lunch.

Now all I need to do is think about getting a new blended. Mine is due for a replacement. Once the garden really starts producing it gets pressed into heavy service and I suspect it may have seen one season of pesto making too many. But that is a tale for another day. For now it is smoothie time. As I work my way through the flavors I’ll let you know my thoughts and opinions on each. For now, I am simply reveling in a well stocked freezer and the fact that I will not have to peel, chop, measure or add up individual calories for a little while.

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Snack Time: Larabar Lemon Bar

As most of you know, a good mid-afternoon snack is a key part of my diet plan. While I generally try to avoid snacking, mostly because I find when I do my calories quickly escalate without me noticing, the afternoon snack is different.

Most meals, I cook at home. I like cooking. I did even before I started my diet plan. I really enjoy the process. Plus I found out very quickly that I really liked playing around with different spices and flavors. I found this out mostly because my babydoll was diagnosed with high blood pressure and we had to cut out a lot of salt laden products on his doctor’s orders. This knocked out a lot of processed food from out eating habits as well as a lot of restaurant meals.

We still go out to eat, but it is a once in a while treat rather than something we do routinely. Our local grocery store can sometimes be limiting, so we do drive out of town to a larger city for some things. We also use the internet a lot, especially for hard to find spices. In addition places like Vital Source has been a huge help in securing quality product as well (we like to eat fish about once a week).

However life gets busy. Sometimes I will make extra portions of a meal that I know freezes well so that on a day when my schedule is swamped, we can have a great meal in a very short period of time. I know, some of you are thinking it is a good idea and you don’t see the problem (or what this has to do with snacking).

The problem is portion control. It is one of my biggest weaknesses. “This turned out really well. I like this recipie. Oh there is still a lot left, maybe I’ll have just a little more.”

If you are going to make multiple portions for saving then you can’t nibble around the edges of the other portions. Not only will it make your planned meal too large but it will short you on a meal at later times. For me the mid-afternoon snack is a very important tool in making sure I stick to my portion. The snack needs to feel substantial without adding a lot of calories. On days when I know I am making extra portions of a meal I really enjoy and know I will want to take extra, it needs to feel like an extra treat. If it does then i feel like I already indulged for the day and am less like to indulge a second time.

This is also why sometimes my snacks aren’t the healthiest of items. Sometimes a guilty indulgence is what I really need. It is also why I generally pay close attention to the calorie count when I have those indulgences. If I am having cinnamon bears then I am counting each one of those little guys to get the portion correct. And then I am lining them up like soldier and destroying them like a rampaging giant. But that is another story.

Often time my afternoon snack is fruit.

Today we are going to talk about the Lara bar. I picked this up because I know a lot of people who swear by it. I also picked it up because it was not cookie dough flavor. While I generally like the flavor of cookie dough, in a snack bar I often find it too sweet and to cloying in the mouth. Occasionally it is very good, but it isn’t my go to. The lemon bar looked like much better bet.

I do have a confession though. You know how I mentioned calorie count earlier? Well I generally try to keep my afternoon snack around the 100 calorie range. Sometimes it will go up, sometimes down, but that is generally the target that keeps me satisfied and makes me feel like I had a bit of a treat.

My confession: I didn’t read the calorie count on the label.

I picked it up, thinking, Its a three inch long power bar, how caloric could it be? It turns out that little bar is 200 calories. I know, packed with nutty fruity goodness. But still it is 100 calories more than I planned to consume. It wasn’t particular problem as I just extended my walk a bit, but it is something to be aware of. Those proteins bars can be packed with calories, as well as good things.

This one does have good things in it. And the taste was very nice. It is a fresh lemon that is tart enough to make you pucker pared with the nutty almonds. I really enjoyed the flavor. It was very fresh tasting. My problem is actually that some of the lemon peels included in the mix were overly large and rock hard. I couldn’t chew them and had to take them out of my mouth as though they were orange seeds when i was eating an orange. The lemony burst was delicious, but the removal was not that pleasant.

And while I could, in theory break the bar into two pieces and use half of it on one day and half of it the next, there is no natural break. It is a bar that is meant to be eaten in one sitting. It is not like the E3 Bars that are deliberately broken into three pieces so you can decide how much you want to consume. This is one whole thing.

I will say though that the calories mean I will treat the Larabar Lemon bar sparingly and go in with the full knowledge of how many calories the product holds. The taste means that I want to eat it again because it was just plain yummy. The overly large and really hard lemon pieces mean if I do pick up another one of these it will be with caution. I’m just not sure the taste is enough to move me past the lemon peel bits. They are tasty, but at one point, I thought I chipped a tooth. I might go for something tasty, but less hazardous in the future.


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Weekly Weight: 213.0 lbs

Good morning my darlings. I know some of you are looking at the scale at the top of this post and are thinking, That seems to be the same number as last week, I wonder if Mimsy is disappointed? Actually I’m not.

First of all I am sort of reevaluating things. I am using a step tracker to count steps at the moment and instead of estimating my calories, I am keeping a detailed log and even scanning bar codes where available. I’m finding a lot of my estimations were a bit off. So I’m correcting that. I still want my weight to go down, but at the moment I am pleased that it hasn’t gone up during the adjustment.

The second reason I am not worried about my weight staying the same this week is that I am at my heaviest time of month. I always gain a bit of water weight around my period so this leads me to believe that I might be temporarily heavy. It is consistently a one to two pound gain at this time of month and has been since my teens.

And yet today my weight didn’t go up.

So there may not be a happy dance, but there is cautious optimism.

The Stats:

Starting Weight: 246.0 lbs

Last week’s Weight: 213.0 lbs

This week’s weight: 213.0 lbs

Lost this week: 0.0 lbs

Total loss thus far: 33 lbs

I know it isn’t the most exciting weight loss records. There are no dramatic numbers and weight drops, but quite honestly I don’t like the thought of rapid weight loss. First of all rapid weight loss makes me think deadly illness not fitness regime. And second I think if I lost all of the weight quickly and easily I wouldn’t value the loss as much and I would let it creep back up again thinking I could easily lose it again if I wanted.

Don’t get me wrong, if I could wave a magic wand, I would. I would love to have this excess weight off of my bones, if only to spare my knees the effort of carrying it around. But chipping away at it like I am means I value every single little chip of weight that leaves me. It is sweat and effort in every decimal point of weight. In addition, it takes time, which is kind of what I need. As I am progressing on this journey, I am working to build healthier habits.

There are no foods that are completely banned and demonized. I have not shunned bread or sugar or fat. I have very much lowered the amounts I consume, but not completely banned them. Partially because banning them would make me crave them more and partially because I think it is of more value for me to learn to balance things without banning them.

Should I gorge on cookies and cake? Of course not. But a cookie every now and then won’t kill me and having a slice of cake at a birthday party isn’t the end of the world. I want to be able to enjoy treats that might come my way without feeling guilty for enjoying them or without losing all self-control and emptying the cookie jar into my belly in one sitting.

In essence, I am learning moderation.

Overall it is working well. And I think in the end it will be better for me than any crash diet ever could be. Does it mean I won’t be tempted by food fads? Of course not, but at least I am building sensible eating habits to fall back on.

I know that was a long way to go to say I am okay with my weight staying the same this week. But there we go. Welcome to Friday, my darlings. I hope yours is fantastic.