Friday, October 26, 2012

Lentil Soup

It's been a while since I've posted any recipes but I must tell you, I have had some of the BEST, healthy food  in the last few months! I can thank Pinterest, The Food Network Magazine, and Cooking Light Magazine for majority of the recipes that I have tried recently.

Near the end of the summer, I made a deal with my parent's that I would come over in the afternoon and cook the meals, if Abigail and I could eat with them. I hated cooking for just two people and it was lonely eating by ourselves all the time when my parent's were just down the road. It has worked out beautifully. I must admit though that in the last few weeks, I haven't done as much of the work as I had been doing because my mom and I have been doing the C25K in the afternoons so it's been more of a group effort.

One of the things that we began to incorporate into our meal plans was Meatless Monday's. Every Monday we go the entire day without eating meat which means that we have to get our protein from other sources like quinoa or beans. Going meatless once a week is not only good for our health but our wallets as well! :) Some weeks it's a challenge to come up with new meatless recipes and we are always on the lookout for new things to try but we've quickly discovered some meals that are our favorites and we've tried a couple of things that we won't be eating the supposed "Best Mushroom Soup You'll Ever Eat in Your Life" (gag) or the "Broccoli and White Bean Soup" that was supposed to a healthy twist on Broccoli and Cheese soup (disgusting). One of the things that constantly comes up in rotation is Giada De Laurentiis' Lentil Soup.

I had only ever tried lentil's a few times and I had only cooked them like you would regular beans and ate them over rice or quinoa but my parent's had a bag of lentils in their pantry and wanted a different way to cook them so I took to the Internet and searched out recipes. One of the first one's I came across was Giada's and I'm a huge fan of hers and the recipe was simple and didn't require a ton of ingredients. So on a Meatless Monday I made Giada's Lentil Soup. It was so good! It only needed a bit of spice, so I turned to my trusty bottle of Texas Pete Hot Sauce and a couple of dashes did the trick. We didn't waste any of that soup!

A few weeks later I took it to church for one of our Senior Sunday meals. My dad's church feeds the senior adult members every first Sunday of the month. It's usually a soup, salad, and sandwich deal and since my dad has been teaching a health and nutrition class on Sunday nights we try and make the meal as healthy as possible. So I took the lentil soup but this time with an addition of a can of mild Rotel tomatoes. I knew the senior adults might not like it too spicy but the soup really did need a kick. The mild tomatoes gave it just the punch it needed without being too spicy. It was a hit! After everyone took leftovers home, there wasn't any left for me to bring home! :)

So as the weather is about to cool down and the first part of next week is supposed to be pretty chilly I would suggest making this hearty but meatless meal! It will be easy on your wallet and your waistline!


Lentil Soup – Giada De Laurentiis

·         2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
·         1 medium onion, chopped
·         2 carrots, peeled and chopped
·         2 celery stalks, chopped
·         2 garlic cloves, chopped
·         Salt and freshly ground black pepper
·         1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
·         1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups)
·         11 cups low-salt chicken broth
·         4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
·         2/3 cup dried elbow pasta
·         1 cup shredded Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

*For additional spice and taste, you may add a can of Rotel tomatoes to the above recipe.
*I use a bit of dried thyme instead of fresh sprigs.
*I use a whole cup of dried whole wheat elbow pasta
*I omit the extra drizzle of olive oil. It really doesn't need it. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Choose Your Hard

My life has been utterly crazy this year. A lot of changes occurred that I honestly didn't expect to happen as last year drew to a close.

I was telling a friend the other day how last year during the holidays I was able to stay completely focused and on track with my healthy lifestyle but sometime after the first of the year, everything came to a stand still. Most people struggle during the holidays to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I mean, we are overwhelmed with parties and family gatherings, and the central theme is usually food. This food is often high fat, high calorie, and highly processed! But I stayed strong, I ate as healthy as I could and only tasted dessert if it was something I just couldn't pass up. I actually managed to lose weight in November and December last year.

About mid-January I ran smack into a brick wall and it didn't budge. I made several feeble attempts at tearing down the wall or at least climbing over it in the coming months but in the end I had nothing to show for it. I actually gained some weight back. Thankfully it was less than 10 pounds but still, that it so disheartening after so much progress. What happened? happened! My husband enlisted into the U.S. Army, he quit his job, we moved to Florida only about three weeks before he had to report for BCT, I said goodbye to him, missed him more than words can say, learned how to solo-parent while he's away, began watching my niece on a daily basis, started home-schooling both my daughter and my niece, took my first airplane flight to see my husband graduate BCT, said goodbye again, had to deal with the heartache and loneliness again, dealt with issues with my rental house and my husband's vehicle, etc, etc, etc.... I really could go on but you get the idea. Life has been a little on the hard side this year and I let some of these things control me instead of taking charge of the situation. I ate poorly, rarely exercised, and barely slept! Again, I made some attempts to get back on track but none of them lasted very long. Truth is, although I wanted to lose more weight, my heart wasn't in it and eating the food made me feel good (until I was finished and regretted it).

Sometimes, it takes an eye-opening situation to get you over the brick wall. And I had one. It happened after I saw my husband again for the first time in over 2 months at his BCT graduation. I had told him before he left that while he was away, working so hard, that I would be doing the same thing at home. I had for a bit. I did about a month of P90X and then gave up when I didn't see the results that I had expected. There he was looking so handsome and skinny and I felt awful and disgusting. Honestly, I did. I feel yucky when I've been eating junk for too long and I really felt gross. I know my husband loves me no matter what size I am but I wanted to look as good for him as he looked and I knew I didn't. It still took me a bit after I came home to get back on track because I was still letting my emotions control me. I was tired, lonely, and depressed. Seeing him for only 2 days was awesome but torturous at the same time!

I finally realized that if I want to feel better about myself the next time I see him, I have to get my act together. Now, my healthy lifestyle is all about health, how I feel, etc but there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve yourself for your spouses sake if you are doing it in a healthy way. So I decided to do what worked for me before...The Couch to 5K. I also decided to give up sweets and processed sugar until my daughter's birthday party in  November. It was 55 days until her party on the day I decided to do it. I started C25K the same week. I am now 6 weeks into my C25K training (I still have 2 days left to do of week 6) and I only have 16 days left of no sweets! And I have made progress! Major me anyway. I hit one of my big weight loss goals a week or so ago. I'm super proud of myself for sticking with it. I have about 4 more pounds to lose to hit one of my major goals and as soon as that happens there will be a blog post about it.

I'm sort of feeling stuck again. I don't know what it is about making progress that makes you a little more lax in your eating but some how it happens to me over and over again. I'm still not indulging in sweets but I feel like I've allowed more and more other stuff into my diet over the last week or so. I'm all for having allowances in your diet but only every once in a while. So if I want to get to meet that major goal, I've got to continue to buckle down and do the hard things. Because let's face it, no matter where you are on your journey, living a healthy lifestyle is hard, life itself is hard. Choose your hard!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Monday, October 1, 2012

#progress #accountability #nosweets

Things are going great.

 It feels so good to be making #progress and to be losing weight again.

I'm really enjoying using Twitter for #accountability. I feel less stress. I can be straight and to the point without worrying about an entire blog post and then worrying over how many people have viewed it, if they liked it or not, why no one is leaving comments, etc. Let's face it, blogging can add pressure more than being  the outlet I wanted it to be. I still enjoy writing and getting my story out there but Twitter is less stressful. Maybe no one is reading my posts over there but for some reason, I really don't care. I tweet about what I've eaten for the day or when I've completed my workout. I retweet helpful, healthy tips from other sources and I've been able to encourage other family members on their journeys as well. So all in all, it's working out for me. Do I wish you guys would get at Twitter account and "follow" me? Of course! But I'm not stressing.

So for those of you who've missed out on the tweets and are wondering about my #progress and the use of hashtags, here ya go...

First of all, the use of hashtags over on Twitter is for making points without using up too many words or characters. You only get 140 to make your point. Second, hashtags can be used to track what sort of things people are talking about or what's "trending" at the moment. If a lot of people use the same hashtags then that particular thing starts to "trend" and you can see other people's viewpoints on the subject. So why am I using them in my blog post? Well the words that you see that has the hashtag in front of it are the words that I am using when I tweet. These words are what set apart my healthy living #accountability from my everyday musings!

As you know from my last blog post a couple of weeks ago, I started doing The Couch to 5K running plan again, along with getting my eating under control, and giving up sweets or processed sugar until my daughter's birthday party in November. Today is day 15 of my 55 day #nosweets challenge! I am doing awesome! The combination of these three things has really done wonders for my body. I am FINALLY and I repeat FINALLY, out of the rut, plateau, whatever you want to call it, that I was in. Since last Monday, I've lost 5 pounds. I'm sure the total for the last two weeks is a bit more but I never weighed the first week. My scales weren't where they were supposed to be and I kept forgetting to find them and weigh. But I did weigh last Monday and know that I'm 5 pounds down since then! Hallelujah! That's #progress!

I'm so close to one of my weight loss goals that I'm really hoping that I meet it this week! I plan to work hard and continue to use Twitter for #accountability!

C25K has been a bit harder this time around. I'm running with my mom and her pace is faster than my natural pace but I try to stay up with her as best as I can. Maybe when it's said and done my 5K time will be much faster than the last time. That would be great!

#Nosweets has been harder than I thought. One thing about giving up sugar has been coming face to face with the reality of how much sugar I was consuming and some of it without really realizing it. Before starting this challenge, I would have said that I didn't eat much processed sugar and that it wasn't really a problem for me. But now, I know differently and I'm pretty sure that I can thank #nosweets for my weight loss this week. Along with the eating healthy and exercise, of course! Even if you aren't doing the #nosweets challenge with me, I want to offer you another challenge. Try and go 3 days with #nosweets and by this I mean no sugar in your coffee, fake or otherwise, no sodas, no candy, no cake, no cookies, no prepackaged products with added sugar, no peanut butter with added sugar, etc. Just try it. As you become more mindful of what you are putting into your mouth, you'll realize that some things that you consume absentmindedly or things you eat on a daily basis, have sugar or much more sugar than you thought. This challenge has been really eye opening for me!

We MUST be #accountable for what we put into our bodies! If we won't, no one else will!

If you want to be apart of my journey on a more daily basis, join me on Twitter, and follow me. I'm @jsfoster83

Otherwise, I'll meet you back over here on the blog soon!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,