Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Bye-Bye, Sugar!


The next three blog entries were previously written in October & November, but were never posted. The truth is, I wanted to document my attempt at the 21 Day Sugar Detox (21DSD) and talk about getting fit and healthy but I was scared I would fail and I only wanted to post them if I was successful (I know, I have issues, but I also have a high failure rate when it comes to eating healthy). I wrote them as I went along and saved them to my computer….only to be completely ignored as life (and grad school) got in the way! Now that I have a few weeks off from school I felt like working on my neglected blog and I thought it was important to share some of the stuff I’ve been doing over the past few months.

October 12, 2014

My blog has been sadly ignored and abandoned. I am back today because I am about to do something extremely crazy (ok not really!) and just felt the need to write about it.

But first, over the past few months I have made some important changes in my life. Somewhere along the way I had this epiphany….I need to exercise (DUH!)! A new gym was being built close to our home and Hubs expressed an interest in joining. We thought for sure we’d be successful if we joined a facility that we had to drive past every day and was only a 2 minute drive from home. We both got excited and were ready to get our exercise on…we checked it out and I suddenly had a premonition…I would go for a month or two committed and enthusiastic…I would get on the treadmill one day, the bike the next day, I would be afraid of the weights and weight machines and then I would be bored and discouraged from lack of progress….just like every other gym experience I’ve had. This gym really had nothing to offer besides location and I just didn’t feel it was a good investment….but I wanted to do SOMETHING!

I started to give some thought to CrossFit, which is a popular trend right now. Although I hate being a conformist, it seems that I always end up on the latest fad bandwagon, whether it’s a new popular diet (pretty sure I still have some nutrisystem food lying around, which will come in handy for the end of days, that stuff will never go bad!!) or some new exercise fad (anyone need some P90X DVDS…only used one time!). That’s not to say everything that is a fad is bad and it’s important to  objectively research and learn what you can about it; which is just what I did.

Crossfit Humor

It was difficult to find objective information on Crossfit. The internet is overflowing with two types of Crossfit articles: those that are anti-Crossfit and those that are overzealous about Crossfit. Despite this, I was able to come to my own unbiased conclusion and started to look for a Crossfit program in my area. I recognized that Crossfit is not for the faint of heart…that it wouldn’t be easy…but it just felt “right” to me (try listening to your instincts some time…they work!). For the first time I felt excited about making a commitment to getting my body in top shape. So when Hubs asked what I wanted for my 35th birthday (please don’t tell anyone I’m not 24!) I told him “Crossfit!” I know he was skeptical because he knows me…Oh. So. Well. I’m sure he was thinking “here we go again…another thing for her to start and quit after a few months.” However since he is a rockin’ husband he supported me and said “of course dear” and paid for me to take the two week introductory class. I survived “On-Ramp” where I learned a lot of the basic moves and we focused on proper form….and although I literally could just barely walk for two weeks (and did you know your elbow muscles can get sore?) I knew I had made the right decision.

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I have been doing the regular Crossfit classes for about a month now. I feel good. And strong. And sometimes sore….well most of the time sore…but it has been worth it. Hubs calls me his “Little Meathead” and I take it as a compliment. I ran a half mile without stopping for the first time ever in my life (I couldn’t even run 200 meters when I started)!! I am actually starting to get a butt (bye-bye flat ass!) and my hour glass shape is slowly making a reappearance. I have more energy and actually exercise on my “off-days” by walking/running with Gemma Pooches. This may not seem like a big deal to some people who do not struggle to exercise (or just to get off the couch!)…but to me it is huge! My small victories are what keep me going. In the next year I intend to be in the best physical health I have ever been. Nothing’s going to stop me now!!

Well…maybe one thing…

My bad eating habits and love of junk food.

eating habits ecard

The strange thing about getting fit and exercising regularly is that it actually makes your body want healthy foods…but then your brain and your emotions take over and say “ignore your body; you NEED that second slice of pizza!!” “You had a salad for lunch. You can have ice cream for dinner (or a cupcake, which I’ve done…more than once).” Even since starting Crossfit I just cannot get my act together and eat right. A lot of people in the CrossFit community eat a “Paleo” diet and so I started to look into it. Although I am not sold on following it completely I am definitely in favor of eating “real food!”

cookie dough ecard

That’s what brought me to what I am about to do in few days…the 21 Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo. When I came across it I remembered a friend’s sister had done it and blogged about it. I went back and read her blog post and I was sold! Since I’ve known her as an acquaintance I felt that if she can do it then I can too. I purchased the book, read it in one sitting and started to prepare. The thing that I love is that the book validated all the things I suspected about myself….that my body cannot handle processed food and my blood sugar levels are on a constant roller coaster ride and as much as I do not want to admit it “I am a sugar addict.” I used to think part of me was crazy…how could I possibly eat a large McDonald’s value meal and be hungry 2 hours later…it had to be mental…but it wasn’t. I was genuinely hungry! After reading the book I understand how these processed and unnatural foods work (or actually don’t work) in the body and are keeping me overweight and still hungry! I highly recommend this book. It is written in a way that is easy to understand and you can really see the effect sugar has on the body.

I am excited, but anxious at the same time….the same way I felt when I made the decision to start Crossfit. It’s a good anxiety because I just know this is something that is going to be the start of a new me!

So with that said, I will be back with my experience and hopefully my success. In honor of healthy new habits here is a quick and yummy smoothie recipe.

Cinnamon Pear Smoothie

1 pear

½ banana (frozen optional)

½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or add up to 1 cup for a thinner smoothie)

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1 pinch nutmeg

Ice

In a blender combine all ingredients and blend well.

Serve immediately.

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Microwave Zucchini Chips « Slimming Down


Check out these yummy zucchini chips that you can make right in the microwave!

 

Microwave Zucchini Chips « Slimming Down.

via Microwave Zucchini Chips « Slimming Down.

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Grilled (Baked) Apples


Looking for something sweet, light and easy to make to top off all those 4th of July hamburgers & hot dogs? Try making this delicious dish.

Grilled Apples…which taste exactly like the baked apples from Cracker Barrel. I usually make these as a side dish to pork, but they are great as a dessert or for topping waffles, pancakes, crepes, etc. If you don’t have a grill, you can also make this recipe on the stove.

Grilled Apples

(Makes 2-3 servings)

2 apples, sliced

2 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup water

1 tsp. corn starch

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

  1. In a foil pie pan (or any foil pan) add all the ingredients and cover with foil.
  2. Place on a medium-high preheated grill and allow to cook for about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the foil from the pan and stir. Allow to cook for 10 more minutes or until apples are tender. 
  4. Serve warm.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies


Ahh, good old chocolate chip cookies. So many different types and I still have yet to find one I don’t like. Crispy & thin, moist & chewy, cake-like…I could go on and on.

This is my go to recipe for chocolate chip cookies. They are pretty thin so sometimes if I’m making them for other people I’ll add a little more flour. The recipe below makes a thin cookie, crispy around the edges, and chewy in the middle. I love cookies like this!

Chocolate chip cookies should be something everyone knows how to bake. And although I like to try out other recipes, you should always have your favorite “go to” recipe for these cookies. If you can produce a good chocolate chip cookie, you’ll make a lot of people happy!

Of course, I love many types of cookies, but I have to say that chocolate chip is by far my favorite. What are your favorite cookies? How do you like your chocolate chip cookies?

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies (Yields 2 dozen cookies)

½ cup butter

¼ cup sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup flour

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chocolate chip cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Using a mixer, mix the butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add vanilla extract and egg and mix until well combined.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add this a little bit at a time to the mixer. Mix on medium speed until well combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto parchment lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes.
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Chocolate Nutella Cookies


So a few weeks ago I finally gave in and bought a little sample pack of Nutella to see what all the hype was about. Even though I was a little scared of it…it turned out to be pretty good. I ended up buying a jar at the grocery store, but it had been sitting in the cupboard unopen for about two weeks. I had seen tons of Nutella recipes and decided cookies would be good. I went to the  Weight Watchers website to find a recipe (thought that would be a good place to start). So my inspiration for this recipe is from the Community Boards on WW which were a thumbprint cookie.

Now, if you’ve made thumbprint cookies before you know that they typically call for egg yolks and that just seemed like to much work for me at the time.  Plus, I didn’t want a huge batch because the last thing I need sitting around the house is cookies! It doesn’t really matter if they are only 1 or 2 WW points plus when you eat 12 by yourself…at one time! So having to reduce the ingredients in the recipe meant I had to figure out the egg yolk…and I just didn’t want to do it, so I used egg beaters instead because that was the easiest and quickest way to get the amount of egg I needed. I knew this would change the consistency of the cookie, but I thought why not be a little experimental.  Lastly, I was not really in the mood to be patient with having to refrigerate the dough and then roll the cookies into balls…I just wanted to get it all done at once. So I just scooped them out into the best round shape I could and made an indentation in the middle with a spoon.

When they came out of the oven they looked nothing like thumbprint cookies, but they looked and smelled good, at least.

Once they cooled and I was able to test them out I was pleasantly surprised. They were really rich and chocolatey and the Nutella on top added a nice dimension to the flavor.

Chocolate Nutella Cookies (Makes 15 cookies; WW Points Plus = 2/cookie)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter

2 tbsp. refrigerated egg substitutes (i.e. Egg Beaters)

1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

7 1/2 tsp. Nutella

  1. In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt with a whisk.
  2. Using a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla and Egg Beaters and beat for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until well combined.
  5. Scoop cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pressing down in the middle with a spoon to make a small indentation.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool. When cookies are completely cooled top each one with a 1/2 tsp. nutella.

 

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D.I.Y. Microwave Popcorn


Ok, so why am I just now finding out that you can make your own microwave popcorn?  When I saw this on the Dr. Oz Show I was so surprised that this wasn’t a well known fact (or maybe it is & I am just behind the times?). I immediately tried this out and now that I have, I will never buy microwave popcorn again.

After a little research I did come to learn that this is considered “air popped” popcorn and so if you don’t add any oil or butter it is an extremely healthy snack. In regards to Weight Watchers, this version of microwave popcorn is actually less points (well only 1 less, but every little bit counts when you’re trying to lose) than the 94% Fat Free microwave popcorn available in stores.

As for taste….I can honestly say it tastes freakin’ awesome!!  So much better than the chemical-laden kind I’m used to buying. I do actually like it completely plain, but for a little added flavor I sometimes add a little bit of salt and  some “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Buttery Spray.

As for my recipe below (you really don’t need a recipe, but for those of you who feel better with one…which is ok, trust me I’ve been there….I’ve included it) it should make about 3 cups, but depending on your microwave and if all the kernels actually pop or not will make the difference, so you may need to adjust the amount of kernels you are using. I chose to only try to make 3 cups because 3 c. equals only 2 WW Points Plus. Which is a decent size snack for such a small points amount. If you use ¼ cup of kernels you’ll have about a regular size bag of microwave popcorn (5-6 cups).

One last note…this is an official “Hubby-Approved” snack! Made it for Hubby (with the salt and buttery spray) and he thoroughly enjoyed it. No more store bought, chemically altered, fattening microwave popcorn for this family!!

Microwave Popcorn (WW Points Plus = 2)

2 tbsp. popcorn kernels

1 brown paper lunch sack

Salt, to taste

10 sprays, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” Buttery Spray

  1. Add popcorn kernels to the brown paper bag and fold over 2-3 times.
  2. Place bag upright and set microwave for 3 minutes on high. Popcorn will probably be done within 2-2 ½ minutes, but it’s best to set it for longer and pay close attention to when the popping stops. When popping is down to 1-2 seconds between pops, remove from microwave. (If you leave it in too long it will burn, just like the store bought kind.)
  3. Add salt to bag and shake.
  4. Spray 5 sprays of the buttery spray on popcorn and shake. Spray 5 more times and shake.
  5. Pour in a bowl and serve.
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Celebrate Good Times with Slimmed Down Milkshakes


Today is a good day. “Why?” you ask. Well I’ve lost 10 pounds over the last four weeks! Only 30 more to go! Initially, when I weighed-in this morning, all I could focus on was that I only lost 1 pound this past week. I felt totally disappointed because I had been losing 2 to 2.5 per week. But then I told myself to get a grip and look at the big picture. I then realized I had lost 10 lbs. in one month, thus making me feel much much happier.

So to celebrate, today’s Slimmed Down Sensations are some easy and tasty milkshake recipes.

No celebration is complete without cake & ice cream, right?! I had been seeing cake batter this and cake batter that all over Pinterest and did an internet search on my own to find a cake batter milkshake. The one that looked the best to me was this one from Betty Crocker.

Of course, it had way too many calories for me to be able to enjoy and still stick to my diet, so I played around with it and came up with the version in this post.

And speaking of cake…has anyone tried the special edition Birthday Cake Oreo?

As soon as I saw them I knew I had to try them, but I put it off because I am trying to be a good girl and Oreo’s are not only one of my favorites but are one of my biggest weaknesses. To have a pack of Oreo’s in the house would not be pretty (could probably eat half the pack in one sitting, at least!). Today, however, I gave in and decided to pick up a pack anyway. These are 2 WW Points Plus per cookie, but soooo worth it!  Sooo goood!

I already make an Oreo milkshake, which is basically made the same as the Cake Batter Milkshake with a few minor modifications. Decided I would just substitute one birthday cake Oreo for the reduced fat one I normally would use. This bumped up the WW Points Plus from 4 to 5, but still not bad for such a yummy treat!

So here’s to shedding my first 10 lbs!  Yummmmmmmm!!!

Slimmed Down Cake Batter Milkshake (WW Points Plus = 4)

½ cup almond milk

1/3 cup fat free vanilla ice cream

2 tbsp. vanilla (yellow or white) cake mix

2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla syrup (i.e. Torani or DaVinci)

1 cup ice

1 tbsp. rainbow sprinkles

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1.  Combine all ingredients except for sprinkles in a blender and blend until smooth and ice is crushed.
  2. Pour into a glass and stir in half of the sprinkles.
  3. Top with whipped cream and remaining sprinkles.
  4. Enjoy!

Slimmed Down Oreo Milkshake (WW Points Plus = 4)

½ cup almond milk

½ cup fat free vanilla ice cream

2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla syrup (ex. Torani or DaVinci)

1 cup ice

1 Reduced Fat Oreo Cookie

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until ice is crushed and desired consistency is reached.
  2. Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Slimmed Down Birthday Cake Oreo Milkshake (WW Points Plus = 5)

½ cup almond milk

½ cup fat free vanilla ice cream

2 tbsp. sugar free vanilla syrup (ex. Torani or DaVinci)

1 cup ice

1 Birthday Cake Oreo Cookie

2 tbsp. fat free whipped cream (optional)

  1.  Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until ice is crushed and desired consistency is reached.
  2. Top with whipped cream, if desired.
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