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Snack-a-lackin

I’m not going to lie, I feel pretty proud of myself whenever I pack snacks for the day.  It’s such a small thing but it makes me really pleased that I planned ahead!  Also, I really look forward to those snacks alllllll day. 

Today’s snack menu: 0% Greek yogurt with 2 teaspoons honey and a sliced granny smith apple.  Yum!

Weigh In Thursday - Hesitantly Happy

I always love the first week back on plan because the weigh ins are usually awesome.  I realize that most of the weight coming off is water weight as you adjust to eating healthy and drinking lots of water, but it still makes me happy. 

Seeing a 3.4 pound loss was not surprising, because I had been keeping an eye on the scale, but it sure did make my day!  I’m sure a lot of that is water weight, but it provided the motivation to keep going. This brings my total pounds lost to 28.8. 

Last time I started WW on prednisone (back in April) I had a great first week followed by several crap weeks of gaining and maintaining.  I’m hoping that since my dose is so much lower (I’m on 10mg currently instead of 40mg) I might actually be able to lose weight?  The crazy intense hunger has calmed down but I’m sure my metabolism isn’t back to where it was pre-prednisone. 

So yes, I’m happy, but very hesitantly.  I’m not really sure what my future weigh ins will look like since I’m still taking prednisone, albeit a much lower dose, but I’m going to continue on plan and hope to keep the scale moving in the right direction!

Some Pre-Weigh In Musings.

Well, my first week back on Weight Watchers is coming to an end.  Tomorrow morning is weigh in and I’m curious to see what it will show.  I’m hoping for a loss, even if it is mostly water weight. 

I think I did pretty well this week! I planned to the best of my ability, adapted to surprises, and made some good choices. I stayed within my points and have about 15 weeklies left over to cover for any incorrect calculations.  Unfortunately today I had quite a lot of salty food (darn culinary students over salting my salad!) but I tried to drink a lot of water to help counteract the water retention. 

Today I planned my meals for the coming week and went grocery shopping.  I’m going to be spending most of the weekend with my girlfriends so I had a few less meals to plan for.  We always eat really delicious and fairly WW friendly meals when we are together so as long as I have decent portions, I should be good to go.  I do have a few awesome meals planned for the coming week that I’m really looking forward to trying and then sharing with you all!

In other news, I got the sweetest note from a reader today!  I love reading your comments and notes….it makes me so happy!  Thank you to all you wonderful people who support me from afar! 

Cheeseburger Hash Brown Cups with Arugula Caprese Salad
I had three different delicious components to last night’s dinner, but this post will only cover two of them.  The pickles, that I’m completely obsessed with, require a dedicated post just to themselves. 
First let’s talk about the main course. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand time, Emily Bites does some amazing work. And this recipe is no exception. The cups were hearty and flavorful and not difficult to make.  Head over to her post for the full list of ingredients and recipe.  
I followed the recipe pretty much to a T.  The only thing I did differently was add chopped up pickles to half of the cups. My husband is not a fan of pickles (Appalling, I know!) so I left half of them plain.  The consensus among the rest of us, (Chris, Laurie, and myself) was that the pickles were an awesome addition.  If you are a pickle fan, DEFINITELY add some chopped up dill pickles!  I added about 1.5 tablespoons to half the recipe, so the full recipe would require about 3 tablespoons.  
Ok, next up is the side dish!  I love a yummy caprese salad.  The flavor combination of tomato, basil, mozzarella and balsamic is just perfection.  This salad is one that I have pretty regularly if I have the ingredients on hand.  It’s super flavorful, gets in a couple servings of vegetables, at least one serving of oil, and can be adapted easily.
I usually don’t use any lettuce in the salad, just tomatoes and basil, but I was short on tomatoes last night.  So I added a few handfuls of arugula to beef up the salad.  Definitely a good choice!  
The only mozzarella I had around were a few fresh mozzarella sticks from Trader Joe’s (think string cheese but made from mozzarella!) so I chopped those up and threw them in.  

Quick side note: A few weeks ago I asked my parents for a random request.  I wanted a basil and a mint plant in olive oil tins. The Greek’s from the island often grow their basil in used olive oil tins…I think there is some old wives tale about the leftover olive oil helping the plants grow?  I’m not sure. Either way, my parents’ screen porch is full of basil planted in tins. My wonderful father obliged  my request and gave up two of his olive oil tins for my plants.  Now I have a little silly garden of herbs growing on my balcony.  I think I need to Instagram them asap.  

Annnnnyway, long story short, I picked the basil for the salad from my very own basil plant! I felt very domestic.  Let’s hope I don’t kill the plants! 
Back to the salad…..tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella, basil.  Oh, and the dressing. I sprayed everything with some olive oil, added some salt and pepper, and drizzled it with balsamic vinegar. I thought (very briefly) about making a balsamic reduction, but I didn’t really have enough time, energy, or vinegar to make it happen.  
I really loved this meal.  I was very pleased with how everything came together and how delicious it was.  I know its a good meal when there aren’t any leftovers! As far as the PointsPlus are concerned, it was really solid.  The cheeseburger hash brown cups come in at 7 PointsPlus for two. I planned to eat three and ended up eating four because they were so amazing. Thank goodness I had a few spare points leftover from a small lunch! The side salad was only 3 PointsPlus and the pickles were 0! Not too shabby! 
Add this to Pinterest HERE!

Cheeseburger Hash Brown Cups with Arugula Caprese Salad

I had three different delicious components to last night’s dinner, but this post will only cover two of them.  The pickles, that I’m completely obsessed with, require a dedicated post just to themselves. 

First let’s talk about the main course. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand time, Emily Bites does some amazing work. And this recipe is no exception. The cups were hearty and flavorful and not difficult to make.  Head over to her post for the full list of ingredients and recipe.  

I followed the recipe pretty much to a T.  The only thing I did differently was add chopped up pickles to half of the cups. My husband is not a fan of pickles (Appalling, I know!) so I left half of them plain.  The consensus among the rest of us, (Chris, Laurie, and myself) was that the pickles were an awesome addition.  If you are a pickle fan, DEFINITELY add some chopped up dill pickles!  I added about 1.5 tablespoons to half the recipe, so the full recipe would require about 3 tablespoons.  

Ok, next up is the side dish!  I love a yummy caprese salad.  The flavor combination of tomato, basil, mozzarella and balsamic is just perfection.  This salad is one that I have pretty regularly if I have the ingredients on hand.  It’s super flavorful, gets in a couple servings of vegetables, at least one serving of oil, and can be adapted easily.

I usually don’t use any lettuce in the salad, just tomatoes and basil, but I was short on tomatoes last night.  So I added a few handfuls of arugula to beef up the salad.  Definitely a good choice!  

The only mozzarella I had around were a few fresh mozzarella sticks from Trader Joe’s (think string cheese but made from mozzarella!) so I chopped those up and threw them in.  

Quick side note: A few weeks ago I asked my parents for a random request.  I wanted a basil and a mint plant in olive oil tins. The Greek’s from the island often grow their basil in used olive oil tins…I think there is some old wives tale about the leftover olive oil helping the plants grow?  I’m not sure. Either way, my parents’ screen porch is full of basil planted in tins. My wonderful father obliged  my request and gave up two of his olive oil tins for my plants.  Now I have a little silly garden of herbs growing on my balcony.  I think I need to Instagram them asap.  

Annnnnyway, long story short, I picked the basil for the salad from my very own basil plant! I felt very domestic.  Let’s hope I don’t kill the plants! 

Back to the salad…..tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella, basil.  Oh, and the dressing. I sprayed everything with some olive oil, added some salt and pepper, and drizzled it with balsamic vinegar. I thought (very briefly) about making a balsamic reduction, but I didn’t really have enough time, energy, or vinegar to make it happen.  

I really loved this meal.  I was very pleased with how everything came together and how delicious it was.  I know its a good meal when there aren’t any leftovers! As far as the PointsPlus are concerned, it was really solid.  The cheeseburger hash brown cups come in at 7 PointsPlus for two. I planned to eat three and ended up eating four because they were so amazing. Thank goodness I had a few spare points leftover from a small lunch! The side salad was only 3 PointsPlus and the pickles were 0! Not too shabby! 

Add this to Pinterest HERE!

Honey Lime Chicken Salad
Oh man.  This salad was awesome.  So awesome, in fact, that I made it twice.  Once for dinner on Friday and then again for lunch on Saturday.  
Let’s start with the chicken.  I have made this recipe before and loved it.  You can check out my original post HERE.  But go HERE for the awesome Honey Lime marinade and original recipe. It is super easy to throw together and so incredibly flavorful.  
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon oil
juice of one lime (I added two because I wanted more zest and my limes were fairly small)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I only had a jar of minced garlic so I tossed in large teaspoon…I like my food garlicky!)
1-2 teaspoons Sriracha (I went with two!)
red pepper flakes, to taste 
2 tablespoons cilantro (I left this out because I HATE cilantro, but you can add it if you want!)
I bought chicken tender pieces to cut down on my cutting of raw meat. (Because, EW.) Anyway, I threw the marinade ingredients together and let the chicken chill in the fridge for about an hour.  I wanted to have more time but I totally forgot about it! 
This time I didn’t put the chicken on skewers and grill them.  It was muggy outside and I just wasn’t feeling it.  So I just threw them in a pan and cooked the pieces on the stove. Since the pieces were so small, the chicken cooked up really quickly….just enough time to put together the rest of the salad!
Ok, let’s chat the rest of the salad.  I used a big stainless bowl to mix all the deliciousness together.  So into the big bowl I added: a bunch of arugula, a handful of halved cherry tomatoes, another handful of cucumber, 1 ounce of goat cheese half of the chicken pieces.  For the dressing I sprayed the whole thing with about 2 teaspoons of olive oil, juiced a whole lime over the top, and added salt and pepper.  Then I mixed it all up!
I looooved the addition of the lime juice as salad dressing paired with the honey lime flavors of the chicken. I often use lemon juice as dressing but I had never tried lime before.  Definitely will be doing this more often!
PointsPlus wise, this meal came to 11 PointsPlus.  Marinades are kind of tricky but I estimated 1 PointsPlus for the amount of marinade that was actually absorbed and cooked into the chicken.  I got a few servings of vegetables along with two servings of oil so it definitely helped my GHGs. The best part was that this salad filled me up and really satisfied me!
Add this to Pinterest HERE!

Honey Lime Chicken Salad

Oh man.  This salad was awesome.  So awesome, in fact, that I made it twice.  Once for dinner on Friday and then again for lunch on Saturday.  

Let’s start with the chicken.  I have made this recipe before and loved it.  You can check out my original post HERE.  But go HERE for the awesome Honey Lime marinade and original recipe. It is super easy to throw together and so incredibly flavorful.  

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • juice of one lime (I added two because I wanted more zest and my limes were fairly small)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (I only had a jar of minced garlic so I tossed in large teaspoon…I like my food garlicky!)
  • 1-2 teaspoons Sriracha (I went with two!)
  • red pepper flakes, to taste 
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro (I left this out because I HATE cilantro, but you can add it if you want!)

I bought chicken tender pieces to cut down on my cutting of raw meat. (Because, EW.) Anyway, I threw the marinade ingredients together and let the chicken chill in the fridge for about an hour.  I wanted to have more time but I totally forgot about it! 

This time I didn’t put the chicken on skewers and grill them.  It was muggy outside and I just wasn’t feeling it.  So I just threw them in a pan and cooked the pieces on the stove. Since the pieces were so small, the chicken cooked up really quickly….just enough time to put together the rest of the salad!

Ok, let’s chat the rest of the salad.  I used a big stainless bowl to mix all the deliciousness together.  So into the big bowl I added: a bunch of arugula, a handful of halved cherry tomatoes, another handful of cucumber, 1 ounce of goat cheese half of the chicken pieces.  For the dressing I sprayed the whole thing with about 2 teaspoons of olive oil, juiced a whole lime over the top, and added salt and pepper.  Then I mixed it all up!

I looooved the addition of the lime juice as salad dressing paired with the honey lime flavors of the chicken. I often use lemon juice as dressing but I had never tried lime before.  Definitely will be doing this more often!

PointsPlus wise, this meal came to 11 PointsPlus.  Marinades are kind of tricky but I estimated 1 PointsPlus for the amount of marinade that was actually absorbed and cooked into the chicken.  I got a few servings of vegetables along with two servings of oil so it definitely helped my GHGs. The best part was that this salad filled me up and really satisfied me!

Add this to Pinterest HERE!

Smoothies

I’ve decided to make smoothies a priority in my breakfast schedule.

When I first joined Weight Watchers (and was actually losing weight) I was drinking smoothies almost exclusively for breakfast.  They were definitely hearty…think oats, chia seeds, PB2, etc. and kept me quite full in the mornings.  So I’m going to bring that back! I will still have omelettes and other yummy goodies on the weekends. But during the week I’m going to try to stick to smoothies.  

Today I made a delicious smoothie with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, raw oatmeal, chia seeds, pb2, honey, spinach, banana, frozen strawberries and blueberries, and dark cocoa powder.  The whole thing came in at 5 PointsPlus. I meant to add in a teaspoon of olive oil to help out with my GHGs but I totally forgot! Oh well…tomorrow!

Day One Done

Yesterday went really well!  I found out early in the day that my friends wanted to go out for Indian food.  Since my husband is out of town, I was definitely on board for getting out of the house with friends!  I pre planned my meal and then roughed out the rest of the day.  Since I don’t eat breakfast on weigh in days I had a few extra points to work with.  My Daily PointsPlus also went up with my epic gain, so I had even more than “normal.”

I had lunch in my school’s restaurant (quesadilla, rice and beans, side salad, and chicken tortilla soup), a couple snacks (hard boiled egg, kiwi, Greek yogurt with honey) and then had Indian for dinner (rice, chana chicken, paratha).  For dessert I had two delicious plums!  

I also tracked my GHGs and came up severely short in a couple areas. I did not get nearly enough fruits and veggies, and only one oil. But overall, for day one, I’m pleased with my day!

Weigh In Day

Phew.  That’s done.

I was awkwardly nervous about going back into my Weight Watchers meeting this morning.  And really I had no reason to be at all.  The receptionist was great  She didn’t make me feel bad for the gain (more on that in a bit) but asked how my health has been (she knew I had been sick) and cheered me on for coming back.  She asked if I wanted my current weight to be my new starting weight and I said no thank you.  

The new leader seems fantastic.  He is animated and funny and I think I’m going to like this meeting.  I never liked the last leader I had (the one after my normal meeting was canceled) so I wasn’t sad to see her go.  I’m hoping this new meeting/leader combo will be a good fit for me.  And if it isn’t, I’ll move on and find another one!

So, the gain.. Woof.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. My estimate from checking the scale earlier in the week was at least a thirty pound gain. Luckily (I guess?) the scale showed a 23.2 pound gain.  While this is not a good thing AT ALL, I had mentally prepared to see 30, so 23.2 was not so bad.  Unfortunately, this brings my total amount of weight lost down to 25.4 pounds. 

This gain is not cool.  Not cool at all.  But it happened and I need to move on from it.  

And I’m already feeling better about things. Yesterday I planned my dinners for the upcoming week and then went to Trader Joe’s and did an epic shopping trip.  I now have a fully stocked fridge, fruit bowl and pantry for the entire week!  I’ve done my best to plan today’s food and have a snack packed for work.  

Let’s do this!

I’m here?

I’m alive.  I’m here.  Well, I wasn’t here, but now I’m back.  

Life has been……okay?  Weight Watchers has been…….nonexistent. Sarcoidosis has been……better? Then worse. Then better again. 

This is going to be a long post……you have been warned.  

Let’s start with sarcoidosis….since so much of the other stuff stems from that.  I’m doing better! I’m not in remission yet, but I have been successfully been tapering.  

I had a few scares about a month ago and I definitely panicked.  My cough got worse for a few days one week and then a couple weeks later I started having some elevated temperatures.  I’ve a few bad days where the fatigue is just, well, exhausting.  But most days I feel pretty good.  I have a mild cough that most likely will stick around awhile/forever.  

I’ve been training myself to put myself and my health at the forefront of my thoughts.  It took some work but I am finally to a point where my mind registers when I’m in a situation that needs to be changed. For example, I used to be able to be around cigarette smoke.  And while it was annoying, I would just deal with it.  Now I realize that I can’t be around the smoke and I remove myself from the situation.  It doesn’t sound difficult, but it really has taken some adjustment. And its still a work in progress. This past weekend I was around campfires and fireworks and I thought I avoided the smoke but my cough definitely was worse the next day so I wasn’t as on top of things as I thought I was.  But I’m learning!  

The prednisone still blows.  I’m down to 15 mg a day from 40 mg.  I can definitely feel the difference! I’m not nearly as jittery as I was before.  And the hunger has started to calm down.  Every time I taper to a new dose my symptoms show up for a few days and then go away.  That is when the panic of a relapse kicks in.  Luckily my pulmonologist is great and has been super helpful in talking me off the ledge. He also believes in a slow taper so it is giving my body time to adjust to the new dosage before continuing on.  This means I’ll be on the meds longer, but it won’t be such a shock to my body.

The side effects are still terrible. I still have some crazy mood swings and I learned the hard way that I shouldn’t spend time in the sun. Oh, and not only do I still have a moonface, but I also developed the dreaded buffalo hump.  Don’t google it…..it will give you nightmares.  Just trust me when I say that I have a small hunchback at the base of my neck.  Thank goodness I have long hair to cover it.  I’ve been avoiding getting a haircut for this very reason.  It has gone down slightly with the taper, but it still has a ways to go before its back to normal. Ugh.

All of this, plus the weight gain has caused some pretty terrible body image issues. I will find out the exact number tomorrow, but I’m fairly certain I’ve gained over 30 pounds since I started on the prednisone. Yes, you read correctly….thirty pounds.  It’s no wonder I feel like shit.  My clothes don’t fit and I hate the way I look.  I’m pretty miserable.  I know I should have continued attending meetings and tracking my food, but I gave into the emotions and just ate my feelings.  You would think after 3+ years on WW I would know better.  

So tomorrow I head back to Weight Watchers.  I’m going grocery shopping tonight to stock up and fill my kitchen with good food.  I’m going to get to WW early to weigh in and have time to chat with the leader. I’m really glad I never canceled my membership. It was kind of a waste of money, but I think it would have been much harder to come back if I had actually canceled it.  

Other than all that negative nancy jazz, things have been ok.  Work is busy but good.  The summer is finally here in Chicago and I’ve been enjoying the nice weather.  Jeremiah and I took a couple weekend trips to visit family, celebrate a friend’s wedding, and unfortunately attend a funeral.  We also had a fantastic long weekend over the Fourth of July at my parent’s summer cottage in Michigan.  All in all….not too shabby.

I need to get back in the habit of posting here.  I think journaling really helps in the weight loss process so I should be more proactive about it.  I also think it will help me process this disease better if I put pen to hypothetical paper. 

It’s been a minute.

I have been avoiding my blog.  But while I have been avoiding writing, I haven’t been avoiding Weight Watchers.  I’ve been doing WW (counting points, trying meet my ActiveLink goals, meal planning, cooking, etc.) but it hasn’t been working very well.  I haven’t posted about my last three weigh in because I haven’t been happy with the results.  

But let’s back up.  

So, the last three weigh ins.  My weight has gone up 1.2, 2.4 and then down 0.2.  Not cool.  And like I said, I have been tracking, staying within my points, etc.  

I can’t even begin to describe how frustrated I have been over the past few weeks. I’ve been trying to eat healthy and make smart choices and it just isn’t doing anything.

I almost didn’t go to my weigh in today because I was sure I was going to be up about five pounds. I finally convinced myself to go and I just wouldn’t weigh in.  Well, after a lot of back and forth in my head, I decided to just say screw it and face the music….and I was SHOCKED to see a 0.2 pound loss on the scale.  I seriously have no idea how that happened.

Like I said, I stayed within my points this week, but my body has been so bloated its ridiculous. My pants are tight and they haven’t been tight in a LONG time. Several of my shirts that I normally wear are too small.  To say my body image is at an all time low is a serious understatement.

The worst is the moonface I have developed. I had read about the prednisone moonface online and was hoping I could avoid it since I  hopefully won’t be on the meds for a terribly long time. But over the last couple of weeks it has appeared. I looked in the mirror the other day and broke down crying.  My face looks like it did 50 pounds ago. Ok, maybe not quite 50 pounds, but it definitely isn’t the face that I have grown used to over my weight loss journey. Logically I know that the puffiness in my face is just water weight and not fat, but it just scares me so much. I do not want to go back to the person who looked this way.  

I know the meds are necessary….and more importantly, they are working. I just want this whole ordeal to be over.  I hate having to take medicine every day.  I’m only 30 for crying out loud! 

Most days I feel really good. I almost forget about the sarcoidosis sometimes. But then I have a day where I cough a few more times that I would like to or the fatigue is really bad and I start to worry that I’m relapsing. I take my temperature more times than I would like to admit. (During the sarcoidosis flare ups I get an elevated temperature so whenever I get hot I’m worried its a temp……so far I haven’t had any fevers since being on prednisone.)

I’ve had a few sarcoidosis ‘firsts’ the past couple of weeks. Last week I met someone with the disease!  She is actually a coworker of mine!  She has pulmonary sarcoidosis and has been in remission for over 10 years. It sounds like my symptoms are very similar to hers.  It was great to meet someone who has the disease and really understands what I’m feeling.  It also was great to hear that it doesn’t affect her day to day life. 

The other first that I experienced was not as positive.  Most people that I tell about my diagnosis have never even heard of sarcoidosis. I don’t blame them at all…I hadn’t heard of it either.  Well, this past week I met someone who had heard of it…because she had a friend who died from it. The look that she gave me when I told her is one that I won’t soon forget.  It was kind of a combination of pity and fear. I know that my diagnosis is not a fatal one, but it still makes me sad knowing that people do die from this disease.

I’m sorry if this post was rambling and random.  I’ve been processing life as best a possible lately and needed to get some thoughts down.  I don’t mean to complain or whine but just needed to write. Oh, have I mentioned the ridiculous mood swings the prednisone has brought on?  No? Well, they are bad, and I hate them. Add in the constant hunger, joint pains and dry eyes and I’m just a ball full of fun.

On that note….let’s get on with the week! I hope you all have been having great weigh ins and are kicking butt!

Shepherd’s Pie
I made this yummy dish on Sunday night for Chris, Laurie, Jeremiah and myself.  This was actually the second time making it and it turned out even better than the first time!  Unfortunately once it is served, it photographs TERRIBLY!  It just looks like a pile of yuck. But it looks really lovely before it’s served! 
But let’s back up and chat about the recipe.  I found this recipe on the Trader Joe’s website. The first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly, but I found it to be a bit bland.  This time I made a few changes and it only added 1 extra PointsPlus per serving and really upped the flavor.  Go check out the original recipe if you want, or see my variation below.
I want to point out one particular ingredient that may be difficult if you don’t have a TJ’s near you. The mashed potatoes that this is made with are frozen Trader Joe’s brand that come in small pellets. (See a picture of the bag here.) I was absolutely shocked at how great they tasted considering they started off as frozen pellets!  I calculated the PointsPlus for this dish using the TJ’s mashed potatoes, so be sure to check your nutrition and do your own calculations if you use a different mashed potato (or make your own!).
Ingredients:
1 package Trader Joe’s Frozen Mashed Potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey (99%ff) or beef (95%ff)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper 
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 can whole kernel corn
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Prepare mashed potatoes according to package instructions and set aside. I microwaved them for about 10 minutes and then stirred them up. 
In a skillet, sauté onions and ground turkey in olive oil, seasoned with garlic powder, crushed garlic, chipotle pepper, salt and pepper until turkey begins to brown. 
Layer the bottom of an 8x8 casserole dish with cooked turkey. 
Add corn to a food processor and pulse until somewhat creamy with some chunks of corn remaining. 
Place pureed corn over turkey. 
Top with mashed potatoes. 
Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown around the edges.
I tested the internal temp after 25 minutes and it was plenty warm but I wanted more color on top so I put the dish under the broiler for about 3 minute to get it to brown up a bit!
Serve!
It may look like a lot of directions, but I found this meal to come together really quickly.  Both times I made it I served it with roasted vegetables that I baked at the same time as the pie. The first time I made it I browned the meat and prepped the corn in the morning and stored it in the fridge all day. I then added the mashed potatoes and baked it after I got home from work for a quicker dinner prep.  It worked fantastic but needed an extra 10 minutes in the oven. 
PointsPlus wise, this is a pretty solid meal.  It served four people very well along with a small side salad and roasted veggies.  One quarter of the dish came to 9 PointsPlus with turkey and 10 PointsPlus with beef.  I found the beef to be more flavorful and plan on only using beef in the future. The portion size is quite large so if you wanted to have 6 smaller portions the PointsPlus go down to 7 per serving.  I found the dish to be very filling and the PointsPlus value to be worth it.  
Add this to Pinterest HERE!

Shepherd’s Pie

I made this yummy dish on Sunday night for Chris, Laurie, Jeremiah and myself.  This was actually the second time making it and it turned out even better than the first time!  Unfortunately once it is served, it photographs TERRIBLY!  It just looks like a pile of yuck. But it looks really lovely before it’s served! 

But let’s back up and chat about the recipe.  I found this recipe on the Trader Joe’s website. The first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly, but I found it to be a bit bland.  This time I made a few changes and it only added 1 extra PointsPlus per serving and really upped the flavor.  Go check out the original recipe if you want, or see my variation below.

I want to point out one particular ingredient that may be difficult if you don’t have a TJ’s near you. The mashed potatoes that this is made with are frozen Trader Joe’s brand that come in small pellets. (See a picture of the bag here.) I was absolutely shocked at how great they tasted considering they started off as frozen pellets!  I calculated the PointsPlus for this dish using the TJ’s mashed potatoes, so be sure to check your nutrition and do your own calculations if you use a different mashed potato (or make your own!).

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Frozen Mashed Potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey (99%ff) or beef (95%ff)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper 
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 can whole kernel corn

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Prepare mashed potatoes according to package instructions and set aside. I microwaved them for about 10 minutes and then stirred them up. 
  • In a skillet, sauté onions and ground turkey in olive oil, seasoned with garlic powder, crushed garlic, chipotle pepper, salt and pepper until turkey begins to brown.
  • Layer the bottom of an 8x8 casserole dish with cooked turkey.
  • Add corn to a food processor and pulse until somewhat creamy with some chunks of corn remaining.
  • Place pureed corn over turkey.
  • Top with mashed potatoes.
  • Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown around the edges.
  • I tested the internal temp after 25 minutes and it was plenty warm but I wanted more color on top so I put the dish under the broiler for about 3 minute to get it to brown up a bit!
  • Serve!

It may look like a lot of directions, but I found this meal to come together really quickly.  Both times I made it I served it with roasted vegetables that I baked at the same time as the pie. The first time I made it I browned the meat and prepped the corn in the morning and stored it in the fridge all day. I then added the mashed potatoes and baked it after I got home from work for a quicker dinner prep.  It worked fantastic but needed an extra 10 minutes in the oven. 

PointsPlus wise, this is a pretty solid meal.  It served four people very well along with a small side salad and roasted veggies.  One quarter of the dish came to 9 PointsPlus with turkey and 10 PointsPlus with beef.  I found the beef to be more flavorful and plan on only using beef in the future. The portion size is quite large so if you wanted to have 6 smaller portions the PointsPlus go down to 7 per serving.  I found the dish to be very filling and the PointsPlus value to be worth it.  

Add this to Pinterest HERE!

WIT
I really didn’t know what the scale would show when I went into today’s weigh in. I knew I wouldn’t see a major loss but there is always a chance of a gain these days.  But the scale was kind and showed a .4 pound loss!  I will 100% take it.  It brings my total to 52 pounds lost. 
This week’s meeting topic was about plateaus. We discussed about ways to bust through a plateau but also about times plateaus can be a good thing. Interestingly enough, I’m in the middle of a plateau that I’m ok with.  Well, I’m not thrilled about it, but it’s better than gaining.  I told myself that while I’m on this super high dose of prednisone for 2.5 months, I’m ok with maintaining.  The meds make me hungry all the time and I’m doing my best to eat lots of fruits and veggies when I snack as well as upping my activity levels.  But I have to face the fact that I’m on a medicine that makes me hungry and lowers my metabolism…so if I maintain, I’m happy.
In another related note, check out my ActiveLink week!  Last week I earned 9 APs so 12 is a definite improvement!  And while I didn’t make it to 100% every day, my average for the week was 105%.  Boom! I need to focus on moving more on the weekends.  I’m so exhausted during the week that by the time Saturday rolls around I just want to bum.  
This Saturday will be a different story as I’m coordinating a wedding.  I will be moving a LOT.  I can’t wait to see how it reflects in my ActiveLink and APs.  Also, I’m just SUPER excited for a wedding weekend!  They are my favorite! This is my first official client since starting my wedding coordinating business so I’m extra pumped.  Wish me luck!
Non Scale Victory
Since I am not looking for major losses on the scale at the moment, I wanted to start focusing each week on at least one non scale victory (or NSV).  While the scale is important in a weight loss journey, there are so many other extremely important factors that people tend to push by the wayside.  Sometimes we focus completely on the numbers and don’t pay attention to all the smaller ways we are changing our lives for the better!
So, my NSV victory for the week was getting my engagement ring sized!
Long story very very short….my engagement ring broke (like the band cracked all the way through) while we were on vacation last month.  I had it repaired and two weeks later it broke again.  So we found a new jeweler and filed an insurance claim and we are getting the ring melted down and rebuilt with the same stones in an almost identical setting.
When I started losing weight and my ring size changed I knew that I would have to get my ring rebuilt at some point.  The plan was to do it after I reached goal.  But if insurance is going to pay for it now rather than me paying for it out of pocket in a few years….I’m going to let insurance cover it.  
Soooo, the exciting news is my new ring size! When we got engaged four years ago my ring was a size 8.5. I had a hard time when we were shopping for rings because I couldn’t try on any of the sample rings in stores. Most of them only came to my first knuckle.  
About a year ago we had small beads added to my engagement ring and wedding band to keep them from falling off my hands.  And now, my new ring will be a size 6.75!! Almost two whole ring sizes!  I’m really excited to have a “normal” ring size! Yay!
I would love for you to share a Non Scale Victory from your week in the comments below! 

WIT

I really didn’t know what the scale would show when I went into today’s weigh in. I knew I wouldn’t see a major loss but there is always a chance of a gain these days.  But the scale was kind and showed a .4 pound loss!  I will 100% take it.  It brings my total to 52 pounds lost. 

This week’s meeting topic was about plateaus. We discussed about ways to bust through a plateau but also about times plateaus can be a good thing. Interestingly enough, I’m in the middle of a plateau that I’m ok with.  Well, I’m not thrilled about it, but it’s better than gaining.  I told myself that while I’m on this super high dose of prednisone for 2.5 months, I’m ok with maintaining.  The meds make me hungry all the time and I’m doing my best to eat lots of fruits and veggies when I snack as well as upping my activity levels.  But I have to face the fact that I’m on a medicine that makes me hungry and lowers my metabolism…so if I maintain, I’m happy.

In another related note, check out my ActiveLink week!  Last week I earned 9 APs so 12 is a definite improvement!  And while I didn’t make it to 100% every day, my average for the week was 105%.  Boom! I need to focus on moving more on the weekends.  I’m so exhausted during the week that by the time Saturday rolls around I just want to bum.  

This Saturday will be a different story as I’m coordinating a wedding.  I will be moving a LOT.  I can’t wait to see how it reflects in my ActiveLink and APs.  Also, I’m just SUPER excited for a wedding weekend!  They are my favorite! This is my first official client since starting my wedding coordinating business so I’m extra pumped.  Wish me luck!

Non Scale Victory

Since I am not looking for major losses on the scale at the moment, I wanted to start focusing each week on at least one non scale victory (or NSV).  While the scale is important in a weight loss journey, there are so many other extremely important factors that people tend to push by the wayside.  Sometimes we focus completely on the numbers and don’t pay attention to all the smaller ways we are changing our lives for the better!

So, my NSV victory for the week was getting my engagement ring sized!

Long story very very short….my engagement ring broke (like the band cracked all the way through) while we were on vacation last month.  I had it repaired and two weeks later it broke again.  So we found a new jeweler and filed an insurance claim and we are getting the ring melted down and rebuilt with the same stones in an almost identical setting.

When I started losing weight and my ring size changed I knew that I would have to get my ring rebuilt at some point.  The plan was to do it after I reached goal.  But if insurance is going to pay for it now rather than me paying for it out of pocket in a few years….I’m going to let insurance cover it.  

Soooo, the exciting news is my new ring size! When we got engaged four years ago my ring was a size 8.5. I had a hard time when we were shopping for rings because I couldn’t try on any of the sample rings in stores. Most of them only came to my first knuckle.  

About a year ago we had small beads added to my engagement ring and wedding band to keep them from falling off my hands.  And now, my new ring will be a size 6.75!! Almost two whole ring sizes!  I’m really excited to have a “normal” ring size! Yay!

I would love for you to share a Non Scale Victory from your week in the comments below! 

Crock Pot Kalua Pork
I’ve made this recipe many times before but it is so fantastic I feel the need to post about it every time I make it! It literally is the easiest recipe to make and gets the best compliments! I’ve made it for guests a few times and even took it to a new mom and all around it has received rave reviews.
The recipe is courtesy of Skinnytaste and literally could not be easier. Check out the full recipe here.
But to save you some time (and encourage you to make this recipe ASAP!), the ingredients are pork roast, salt, and liquid smoke. That. Is. It! Seriously!
Just add the pork to the crockpot, stab it with a knife a few times, rub it with salt, pour the liquid smoke over it all, and cook it for 8 hours on high. If you have the time you can do 16 hours on low but I haven’t noticed any major difference in the final product.
I usually serve the pork with hamburger buns (and I did last night for my guests) but this time I decided to make mine with lettuce wraps. I’ve been trying to cut back on gluten so this was a great alternative. I love butter lettuce for lettuce wraps! So much better than iceberg or romaine! I also added some matchstick carrots to bulk the wraps up a bit. I have to say, the lettuce wraps turned out great! The meat is so flavorful that I didn’t miss the bread! You don’t even really need the BBQ sauce!
As a side dish I served Alexia spicy sweet potato fries. These are my favorite and I hadn’t made them in a while. Definitely a nice addition to the meal.
PointsPlus wise, this whole meal is just fantastic. The pork comes out to 4 PointsPlus per 4 ounce serving. I was able to make the two pictures wraps plus another smaller one with just four ounces of meat! I added 2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce total for another Point and then had 3 ounces of fries for 5 PointsPlus. That brought my whole meal to 10 PointsPlus! And it got a serving of veggies!
Another thing that I love about this recipe is how great the leftovers are. The pork reheats really well! I’ve even frozen it in the past and it does really well. It is a pretty large amount of food if it’s just me and my husband. I try to make it for guests but even then I get leftovers. I couldn’t resist it this morning so I had a non traditional breakfast!
Add this to Pinterest HERE!

Crock Pot Kalua Pork

I’ve made this recipe many times before but it is so fantastic I feel the need to post about it every time I make it! It literally is the easiest recipe to make and gets the best compliments! I’ve made it for guests a few times and even took it to a new mom and all around it has received rave reviews.

The recipe is courtesy of Skinnytaste and literally could not be easier. Check out the full recipe here.

But to save you some time (and encourage you to make this recipe ASAP!), the ingredients are pork roast, salt, and liquid smoke. That. Is. It! Seriously!

Just add the pork to the crockpot, stab it with a knife a few times, rub it with salt, pour the liquid smoke over it all, and cook it for 8 hours on high. If you have the time you can do 16 hours on low but I haven’t noticed any major difference in the final product.

I usually serve the pork with hamburger buns (and I did last night for my guests) but this time I decided to make mine with lettuce wraps. I’ve been trying to cut back on gluten so this was a great alternative. I love butter lettuce for lettuce wraps! So much better than iceberg or romaine! I also added some matchstick carrots to bulk the wraps up a bit. I have to say, the lettuce wraps turned out great! The meat is so flavorful that I didn’t miss the bread! You don’t even really need the BBQ sauce!

As a side dish I served Alexia spicy sweet potato fries. These are my favorite and I hadn’t made them in a while. Definitely a nice addition to the meal.

PointsPlus wise, this whole meal is just fantastic. The pork comes out to 4 PointsPlus per 4 ounce serving. I was able to make the two pictures wraps plus another smaller one with just four ounces of meat! I added 2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce total for another Point and then had 3 ounces of fries for 5 PointsPlus. That brought my whole meal to 10 PointsPlus! And it got a serving of veggies!

Another thing that I love about this recipe is how great the leftovers are. The pork reheats really well! I’ve even frozen it in the past and it does really well. It is a pretty large amount of food if it’s just me and my husband. I try to make it for guests but even then I get leftovers. I couldn’t resist it this morning so I had a non traditional breakfast!

Add this to Pinterest HERE!