Natural and Whole foods – Looking ahead to lifelong habits

One of my challenges in losing weight is battling my tendencies to get more food for each point in the Weight Watchers food plan. Those zero-point foods become more attractive, and that’s the way WW intended it to be. If we focus on lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables, we will become healthier and lose weight.

However, a problem arises when we start manipulating foods with artificial flavorings and sweeteners in order to stretch out those WW points. When we start doing that, we aren’t learning to be satisfied with smaller portions, and we aren’t learning to rely on whole, natural foods.

17 Best images about Fresh & Healthy Food on Pinterest ...

A few days ago I bought a diet lemonade (sweetened with Splenda) from Chick Fil A. Within a little while I had a headache. I’ve noticed that several times recently – a headache and usually stomach upset not long after drinking or eating something with artificial sweeteners. Yesterday I made a dozen muffins using a sugar-free cake mix as the base. “Sugar-free” typically means “sweetened with artificial sweetener,” and that was the case with these muffins. I ate one of the muffins for lunch, and all afternoon I’ve had digestive issues as a result. The rest of the muffins are going in the trash.

When I consider the fact that I started this WW health, fitness, and mindfulness journey in order to become healthier, then I don’t want to eat or drink anything that doesn’t foster that. Every now and then, I will still enjoy a Diet Coke. However, rather than a multiple-times-a-day thing, it is now something I consume maybe two or three times a month.  And that is okay for now. I may cut them out entirely at some point.

Cartoon thinking man with question mark in think bubble ...

My mother is 97 years old, and one of the reasons (I believe) that she has led such a long and mostly healthy life is that she sticks to healthy food: lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grain bread. She almost never eats pork, and she has lots of meatless meals.

No major insight for this post – just a reminder to myself of the importance of natural, whole foods. That will continue to be one of my focuses for my daily life.

Recipe: Vegetable Beef Soup (WW Blue – less than 1 point per serving)

I made a WW-friendly vegetable beef soup today, and it is delicious! The video will walk you through how to make it. The recipe is below.

The soup base is:

1 lb. 96% lean ground beef (10 WW Blue points)

2-3 can diced tomatoes (0 points)

1 can tomato sauce (0 points)

1 quart beef broth (0 point)*

approx. 1 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped celery (0 points)

Salt and pepper, to taste (0 points)

Directions: Brown the ground beef in a large soup pot. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beef broth. Salt and pepper, to taste.

Now add your vegetables – I usually buy a bag of frozen soup vegetables. However, you can use fresh, frozen, or canned (drain canned vegetables) – corn, carrots, peas, beans, garlic, peppers, potatoes (count the points for potatoes).

Bring to a boil. You can add more beef broth if the soup is too thick. Let the soup simmer for a couple hours to thoroughly meld all the flavors.

This soup will keep in the refrigerator for several days, and it freezes well.

POINTS: I add additional beef broth, if needed, to bring my total amount to 18 cups – which equals 18 servings.

10 total points divided by 18 servings – .555 points (which rounds of to 1 point.

*Some beef broths scan as 0 points for a quart, and some scan as 1 or 2 points for a quart. It depends on the fat content of the particular broth you buy. Scan the broth you use to figure your points. However, even at 2 points a quart, the total still equals less than 1 point per cup/serving.

 

October Goals

September has come and gone, and a new month has begun. Here are my goals for October:

  1. Make a list of meals that work for me. I want to plan ahead so I don’t waste so much food. Those plans will be food that I like.  I started on this last night – writing out meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with snacks and desserts. I plan to convert them to pdf and post them on this website.
  2. Build on the exercise routine I started in September. That means doing circuit work in my exercise room, along with having the goal of at least 5K steps each day.
  3. Continue with self-care routines – skin care, bedtime herbal tea, prayer and meditation time each day.

I will stop there. My tendency is to go overboard on plans, but the reality is that they need to be kept small and do-able.

Baked Cheesy Biscuits with Eggs (4 points each, WW Blue)

The idea for these came from my sister, Janice, who posted the recipe on Facebook.  It’s a White Lily Flour recipe.  I revised it to better fit in with the WW Blue Plan, and I actually came up with a couple of variations. These are 4 points each (WW Blue Plan) if you use the Velveeta slices, and 3 points if you use the Canadian bacon. I had one for dinner tonight, and I am stuffed!

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Cheesy Biscuits with Eggs

1 cups self-rising flour (11 points)
4 eggs (0 points)
1/2  teaspoon yeast (0 points)
1/4  cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt (0 points)
1/4  cup warm water (0 points)
1/2 teaspoon salt (0 points)
Pam cooking spray, butter flavor (0 points)
4 slices Velveeta cheese (6 points) OR 4 slices Canadian Bacon (1)  OR a combination of both. Just figure out the correct points.
Pam Cooking Spray, No-Stick, Butter Flavor (0 points)
salt/pepper, to taste
Other toppings you might want to add: spinach, onion – whatever you like.
  • In a large bowl, mix 3/4  cup of the flour with the yeast and salt. Reserve the extra 1/4 cup of the flour for later.
  • Add the yogurt and stir until it starts to form a ball.
  • Add the warm water and mix well. You should have a sticky ball of dough.
  • Sprinkle some of the reserved flour on a clean counter or pastry mat. (I actually used a paper towel).
  • Dump out the dough onto the floured mat.
  • Sprinkle more of the reserved flour on the dough, gently fold it over, and repeat until a good ball of dough is formed.
  • Spray your hands with Pam, take the dough and form it into 4 biscuits of equal size.
  • Take a small round cookie cutter and cut out a hole in each biscuit. Place the cut out rounds and the larger biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You can push on the inner circle to widen it.  Trust me, you want that circle to be big enough to hold an egg!  Those circles that look so big in the photo close in a lot when they cook!
  • Spray the tops lightly with butter-flavored Pam.
  • Let rise for about 30 minutes.
  • Bake at 475 degrees for about 6-8 minutes until puffed but not browned.
  • Remove baking sheet from oven.
  • Either drape a slice of cheese over each of the large biscuits – using your finger to press it into the opening to form a deep cup, OR make four cuts on a slice of Canadian bacon (see photo) and overlap the edges to tuck it into the opening to form a deep cup. 
  • Crack an egg into each biscuit cup. If you look at the photos below, you will see that the egg white flowed over the edges of the biscuits. I worried, but when I took them out of the oven, they were fine. I even had a yolk roll over the edge of the biscuit. I just scooped it up with a spoon and put it back. LOL!
  • Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle other toppings – grated cheese on the ones with Canadian bacon (measure and count the points), chopped spinach leaves, etc.
  • Return the baking sheet to the oven and continue baking until the biscuits are golden and the egg whites are set, about 10 minutes more.
  • Serve immediately.

Notice in the photo above, the egg white that flowed out into the pan. It was fine! The top two have the slice of Velveeta, and the bottom two have the Canadian bacon. I liked the ones with the Canadian bacon best – and they were one point lower! Both were delicious, though!  A serving includes one of the large biscuits with the egg in the middle along with one of the smaller cutouts.

Zero-Point Taco Soup

The weather has turned cooler, and I saw something on Facebook about Zero-Point Taco Soup. I didn’t need persuading – that immediately became what I would make for dinner. I didn’t have taco seasoning on hand, and so I made a quick trip to Kroger to get some.

Within ten minutes of getting home, the soup was simmering on the stove. What could be simpler than opening a bunch of cans, a package of chicken breasts, and some seasoning, and dump it all in the cooking pot! The only other step was to shred the chicken after it had cooked.

I served it with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) and a little grated Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Both of those are 0-points, too. If I used more (half ounce +) of the Cabot cheese, it would move to a point, but I kept it under 1/2 ounce. It was both tasty and filling. It tasted so good, I had a second bowl – and I counted the cheese as 1 point since I had two helpings of it!

The soup freezes well. So I will put some in the refrigerator to eat over the next couple days, and I will put some in the freezer to enjoy again in a few weeks.

Here is how I made it:

Zero-Point Taco Soup

  • 4 cans beans (black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, great northern beans – whatever kind you like or a combination of beans. I used Kroger’s Tri-Bean Blend)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can tomato sauce OR pureed tomatoes
  • 1 qt. chicken broth (you can use less if you want your soup to be thicker)
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (add more or less, depending on your taste)
  • 1 lb. boneless/skinless chicken breasts
  • diced onion, peppers, garlic – to taste (can use fresh or dehydrated)
  • salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Dump everything into a large saucepan (or crockpot)
  2. Bring to a simmer
  3. Once chicken is cooked through, take it out, shred it, and add it back into the soup.
  4. To serve, you can top with sour cream or Greek yogurt, grated cheese, corn chips – whatever toppings you like

Zero Points on WW Blue Plan. Be sure to add points for any toppings you choose.

Fast Food – Low Points

I had fast food after an appointment today. Fast food for lunch – and it was only 3 points.  I ate AFTER I made the video, and I ended up eating only half the salad.  So , in the video I say it’s 4 points. However, my actual points were:

sauces for dipping chicken (1/2 barbecue packet & 1/2 zesty buffalo packet) = 1 point

1/2 of side salad = 2 pts

Everything else was 0 points (grilled chicken, and lettuce, tomatoes in salad, and less than 1/2 of the light Italian dressing packet)

It was a filling lunch. I’ve really enjoyed Chick Fil A’s grilled chicken nuggets lately!

 

 

Chick Fil A to the Rescue

Chick Fil A has become my go-to for fast food. I can get a 12-piece grilled nuggets (0 points), barbecue sauce packet (2 points), a small fruit cup (0 points), and I usually have my own Yeti tumbler of ice water with me. If not, I can get a Diet Coke or diet lemonade. It provides a tasty 2-point lunch (or dinner).

I got out of the house today, and after running my errands, I did my Chick Fil A run, and I’m good to go till dinner time. I will likely enjoy some frozen grapes when I get home, and I want to make some low-point muffins, too.

Ron will likely stop by Whole Foods on his way home and get fish for us to grill for dinner. Ron eats fish on a daily basis. I can eat it several days week. Halibut, especially, is my favorite.

 

Eating well and losing weight affects one’s blood pressure

Today I have not been feeling well – headache and a little light-headed. Oh great, I thought, I’m coming down with Covid-19. However, one of my sisters advised that I take my blood pressure since a low BP could cause one to feel light-headed. So I did – four times over the course of about 30 minutes because I’m compulsive like that. Here are the readings:

117/58       98/57       110/58      110/59

It’s a fairly consistent reading – especially for the second number.  And all four are too low. That could easily account for the light-headed feeling I’ve had – and maybe for the headache, too.

I take BP meds each evening. It’s a fairly low dose, but I’m thinking that with my healthy eating the past 7 weeks, plus losing some weight, that it has affected my BP.  So tonight I will cut my dose in half. I will continue to monitor my BP, and hopefully it will be better after a day or two.

What does “mindfulness” look like?

For the tagline to this blog, I wrote: “A journey of health, fitness, and mindfulness after the age of 70.” So far I’ve written a lot about health via all my WW posts. However, I haven’t written much at all about fitness and mindfulness. So today I will talk about mindfulness.

With all that’s going on in the world today, it is easy to have one’s mind full to bursting with all the news about riots, diseases, unrest, quarantines, etc.  “Experts” weigh in with opposing views on just about everything. That makes it all the more important to deliberately be mindful and to foster mindful practices in everyday life.

Mindfulness can be defined as the nurturing practice of being aware of one’s environment, thoughts, emotions, and experiences “in the moment” while remaining kind and nonjudgmental to oneself and others.

Being mindful is no small accomplishment! How am I kind to myself?  How do I nurture positive behaviors in order to take care of myself?  First – back to the other posts I’ve made in this blog – I am being nurturing and kind to myself by taking better care of my body via eating well and following the WW plan.

Mindful eating is really what WWs is all about.  One unhealthy habit I have is that I quickly eat most of my meals sitting in my recliner either watching TV or scrolling through my phone or laptop. I would like to replace that habit with a more nurturing one – sitting at a table with soft music playing – slowing down and being mindful of taste and texture – drinking plenty of water along with the meal.  TODAY I will start with dinner each day – at the dining room table, music from my iPhone, talking with my husband.

What does mindfulness look like right now in my life?

  1. I’ve recently started a skin care regimen. I’m fortunate in having a good inheritance when it comes to my skin. I’ve never had to do much to have good skin. However, now that I’m in my 70s, the wrinkles are more apparent. Rather than going to bed without removing my makeup first (something I’ve always done!), I’ve started washing my face with a good skin care product (Rodan + Fields), using a toner, and then a face cream.  In the mornings, I apply a sunscreen before applying makeup. I consider it a soothing and relaxing way to prepare for bed.
  2. In the mornings, I’ve started back having my quiet time. I did this for year before, but in the past couple years, I’ve let it slide.  During my quiet time, I read the Bible, keep a prayer journal, and read a devotional – all while enjoying my morning coffee. It is delightful way to start the day, and it’s a “centering” practice.
  3. I make my own healing skin cream. I am a “picker” – meaning if there is any blemish on my skin, I tend to pick at it. It is a habit that is SO hard to break! There’s something about the lack of smoothness that makes me feel compelled to try to make it smooth by scratching at it. So I made my own healing cream that I put on any blemish to help it heal quickly.   I mix it in a bowl and put it in small 2-oz. cosmetic jars. And I’m making a concerted effort to stop the picking! I have made my own regular skin cream for the past year, too. I prefer both the skin cream and the healing cream over any commercial cream I’ve found. It’s not only a self-care practice, it helps to foster my creativity.
  4. I do mindfulness walks around our yard. That was something I started at the beginning of the Covid-19 quarantine in March 2020.  We are fortunate to have some acreage where I can walk. I try to get outside in the sun on a daily basis and just walk around, breathing deeply, for a few minutes each day.
  5. I’m working on more regularly keeping my home clean and neat because a clean and organized environment fosters calm and peace. Yesterday I cleaned out my closet (again!). The pantry is next. Then my art studio. The rest of the house stays fairly clean and neat.
  6. With SO much discord in the world right now, I have avoided the news as much as possible for a long time. I get most news via the internet – but I can select news outlets that don’t have obvious biases. I want to form my own opinions rather than be told what to believe – which is what most news outlet do. That way I can be informed without being manipulated into getting upset or angry.
  7. My Apple watch is set to regularly remind me to breathe deeply throughout the day. Sometimes just taking a deep breathe is calming.

Balance is another aspect of mindfulness, and I think I do a pretty good job of that. I work around the house or paint or cook or whatever, but I also take breaks, I write, and I visit family and friends.