Tag Archives: Vegetable

MAGIC BEANS! For Weight Loss

surpriseTired of snacks that don’t satisfy? Tired of spending a fortune on diet foods that don’t taste good and don’t fill you up? Try MAGIC BEANS!
MAGIC BEANS! come to you in a nifty paper packet. Simply add soil, water, and ultraviolet light to your MAGIC BEANS! and PRESTO! You’ll be snacking on MAGIC BEANS! in no time!
In a store you’d pay four dollars per pound, BUT you can grow a bushel of your own MAGIC BEANS! for less than two dollars!
Email me now and I’ll send you your very own MAGIC BEANS! for only $19.95. But wait! There’s more! If you keep reading, you’ll realize I’m full of crap!
P1010356MAGIC BEANS! are: ta ta ta taaaaa….green beans! Even if you’ve never gardened before in your life, I want you to give growing your own green beans a try this summer. Here’s why:
1. They taste better freshly picked.
2. They are SO cheap when you grow your own.
3. Beans store nitrogen in their roots as they grow; this means that they can grow in relatively awful soil. Most other veggies need good soil, but beans are hard core.
No kidding, when my husband and I bought our house ten years ago, we bought a tree and a shovel and went outside to plant it. Our soil was so hard that we had to buy a pickax to dig the hole. But the very next year we started a garden and our beans grew well.
2013 Summer 605Why am I blogging about this now? Because in a couple of weeks the weather will be gorgeous and you will have plenty of pent up energy and inspiration to do projects like prepping a small patch of dirt for your bean plants. Don’t worry, this is not turning into a gardening blog, but if you’ve never grown your own vegetables, give it a try. You’ll love them even more when you taste them home grown!
“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.” Genesis 2:8


Image of the woman loving her Magic Beans is from http://blog.shelbysystems.com/2011/07/what-reaction-are-you-looking-for/


New Recipe! Fried Cabbage

2014 Feb 070My brother gave me this recipe months ago, but I’m just sharing it now for two reasons.

1. I kept forgetting to buy cabbage.  I’ve never known what to do with it, so I was in the habit of passing it by in the store.  Poor cabbage.

2. After I started making this, I kept forgetting to take a picture of it until it was too late.  It was always long gone before the camera came out.

Do my kids like it?  I’m not sure.  I’ve never shared it with them.  Call me selfish, but that’s the truth.  I offered once, but they said “Ew, what’s that?” and I said, “Cabbage.  You’re right, it’s gross.  Here, let me eat yours.”

I’m sure there are many variations that can be created with the cabbage/bacon base, so let me know if you stumble upon a wonderful new combination.  When your vegetables taste like bacon, you really can’t go wrong!


Fried Cabbage

(Careful: wait until the pan is cool before you lick it clean.)


2 slices bacon or turkey bacon

2014 Feb 0675 cups shredded/sliced cabbage

1 cup onion, canned corn, or both

salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry the bacon.  Remove and cut into little pieces.

2. Add the veggies, cover, lower the heat, and cook 20-30 minutes or until the cabbage is soft.

3.  Add salt, pepper, and bacon.

Be A Better Loser

I’m a pretty good loser, but with help, I’m a great loser.  Help can be an app, a website, a book, an accountability partner, a support group, or a lock on the fridge.  For me, it was Loseit.com.

2013 Summer 605When I first started losing weight, I didn’t want help.  Don’t give me a list of rules.  Don’t tell me any foods are off limits.  Call it stubbornness, call it arrogance, call it refusal to let go of a baking addiction…the point is, I wanted to do it on my own terms.  Also, on my bad days, I did NOT want to have to tell someone how bad I was.  My shame is my own, thank you very much!  But after four months of losing weight and two months of plateau-ing, (P.L.A.T.E.A.U. stands for Please Let my Attempts Take Effect…ARGH!! U’ve got to be kidding me!  Really body?  All this effort and the scale doesn’t budge?) I was ready for help.

P1010980Loseit.com is a free, easy, online calorie diary of sorts.  You know it’s quick and easy if a stay at home mom with four computer-crazy little kids can use it.  When I sit down at the computer, I have about 70 seconds before the boys swarm all over me, asking for a turn.  One of them will actually climb up the back of my chair and onto my shoulders.

Anyways, you create an account, telling them how much you weigh now, your weight goal, and if you want to lose 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds a week.  I love the realism here; notice that you may not choose to lose 20 pounds per week.  They calculate how many calories you should eat each day to reach your goal.  You type in a food and it tells you how many calories that food has and adds it all up for you.  So easy!  No math skills needed!

P1010979You can also create custom foods (such as a favorite homemade soup recipe or how you take your coffee) and name them.  Whole meals can be repeated with one click; useful if you eat the same thing for breakfast five days a week (like coffee, juice, and oatmeal), and previous meals are automatically saved and available to add; useful if you have leftovers for lunch the next day or you cook similar dinners every week.

You can also enter any exercise you do which ADDS calories to your daily allotment.  They even include housework and gardening.  If there’s chocolate in the house, my home gets a good cleaning!

Loseit even has a community feature where your friends and family can join as friends and see one another’s progress and leave comments.  It’s a great way to stay encouraged and be held accountable….as much as you want to be!

P1010981By the way, I am not being paid to talk about Loseit.  I wish I were.  If anyone would like to pay me, I would enjoy that.

So, how does this help?

Imagine that you’ve lost fifteen pounds and need a new outfit to go out with your girlfriends.  You have $80 to spend on clothes and your favorite brand of jeans is on sale for $40. At the store you find a fabulous shirt that you love, but it costs $60.  If you buy the shirt, you can’t buy the jeans.  So, you have to choose: marvelous shirt and mediocre jeans OR spectacular jeans and second rate shirt.  No, put those credit cards back in your pocket!  In this metaphor, debt turns into love handles!

That’s what Loseit does for me; it helps me budget.  I want to eat marvelous everything, all day, all the time.  But that’s how I gained my weight in the first place.  So, a budget example: After entering my breakfast, lunch, dinner, and exercise, I have a whopping 150 calories left for snack time.  I want to have a brownie and a cappuccino, but I can’t do that and stay within my calorie budget, so I have to choose: a brownie and tea OR carrots and cappuccino.

Not so bad, is it?1

Loseit has shown me where my calorie bombs were hiding; those foods that seemed innocent, but in reality have a lot higher count than I imagined.  Muffins, for example, and spaghetti.  The first time I entered my breakfast of muffins into Loseit, I cringed: the muffins used up almost half of my allotment that day!  Score one for the learning curve.  And over time I’ve learned which foods I can fill my plate with and still have room for treats.  (Vegetables!  Not surprised?  What, have you been reading my blog or something?)

Loseit is not the only website out there, but it’s the one I know.  The point is, at some point most of us will need some help, be it encouragement, accountability, or a dose of reality.  So, when you’re ready, don’t be afraid to get help!

“Note this: Wicked men trust themselves alone…and fail; but the righteous man trusts in me, and lives!” Habakkuk 2:4

Slurp This, Not That

P1010196Not all soup is created equal.  That’s like saying all chocolate is the same.  I extol the merits of soup and its ability to help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, but I feel the need to define “soup”.  To avoid confusion and – in the spirit of this blog – to keep a positive spin on things, we’ll call good, healthy, diet-friendly soup “sexy soup” to distinguish it from all the other “soups” out there that are worse for you than an Italian hoagie.  (Note: Italian hoagies are awesome BUT I don’t recommend eating them several times a week if you want to lose weight…unless you bike the five miles to and from the hoagie shop.)

Sexy Soup IS:

Mostly vegetables and water,

Going to maintain a liquid state in the fridge and not congeal into some sort of glop,

Less than 150 calories per 1 cup serving,

Tastes so good your kids will eat it.

2013 october 010Cream of Broccoli Soup, for example, is not Sexy Soup.  If you remove the water, it’s really a block of cheese with one stem of broccoli added for color.  Have you ever seen it when it’s cold?  It’s Jello.   But if you love cheese Jello like I do, then try this trick: Cook a bunch of broccoli and mix it in, about half soup and half broccoli (and water if you need to thin it out a bit).  It won’t be quite as thick as the original, but at least it won’t be misleading to keep the word “broccoli” in the title anymore, and you’ll have calcium oozing out of your pores.2013 october 015

Canned soup is convenient, but it’s not Sexy.  Some of the soup companies have created healthy lines of soup: “100% Natural”, “Light”, “Heart Healthy” and so forth.  Not a bad idea, and these soups are on track calorie-wise, but each ONE cup serving gives you about 700 mg of sodium.  That’s 30% of the sodium you should consume in an entire day.  If they have less sodium, they add more sugar, as much as 3 teaspoons in a ONE cup serving.  I don’t add that much sugar to my coffee, and I like it sweet!

Let’s not forget the main reason we love soup: it’s a warm, comforting, delicious way to eat lots of vegetables.  Most canned soups don’t give you a lot of veggies; you usually get what you see on the label’s picture…a whole three carrot slices per can.

How do you make Sexy Soup that’s satisfying and rich without adding loads of dairy, salt, or sugar?  The trick is to make the water feel like not-water in your mouth.

Option one: when the soup is cooked, pour half of it into a blender and blend it, then return it to the pot.  Your “broth” is creamy, but there’s something left to chew.  Note: this is a great way to get veggies into kids; if they pick out the carrots they can see, they still slurp down the ones they can’t.

2013 october 014Option two: add purees.  Don’t pitch your decorative pumpkins!  Did you know that pumpkins were a vegetable before they were décor?  You can eat them!  Not after you carve them, light a candle in them, and leave them on the doorstep for a month, no, but even in November and December, an unopened pumpkin can be cooked and consumed.  Bake or microwave it, scoop out the now soft insides (not the seeds), puree it in a blender, and freeze it in little ziploc baggies to add to soups.  Purees of cauliflower, yellow summer squash, and carrot also work for Sexy Soup.2013 october 012

Option three: add potatoes or rice.  Potatoes and rice tend to thicken a broth when simmered for a while.  Just make sure most of the soup is made up of colorful plants.

Option four: cheese or milk.  If you add dairy, follow the Rule of Thumb for your veggie:fat ratio.  One thumb of fat/dairy per one hand of veggies.  Choose a strong cheese that you can taste; if a mild flavored cheese blends in too well, you may as well leave it out.

Option five: blend all of the soup and pour it into a large plastic martini glass.  Put on sunglasses, heels, and lip stick, then sit by a pool and sip it through a straw.  Sexy is as sexy eats!

“Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.” Daniel 1:12

Homemade Soup in Twenty Minutes

P1010166A disclaimer before we begin: if you don’t own a food processor, the only way your soup will be ready in 20 minutes is if you use pre-chopped frozen veggies or went to culinary school and earned the nickname Flash for your chopping ability.

Don’t despair!  You can still make homemade soup that is healthy, cheap, and delicious.  You just might take a little longer to get it ready.  Or you can plan ahead and chop the day before.  Or the month before and freeze little baggies of soup-ready veggies.  Or the summer before when vegetables are super cheap at the farmer’s market and you start September with three gallon sized Ziplocs full of chopped zucchini and potato and onion.  You, too, can live like medieval peasants, working from dawn ‘til dusk during the harvest season and then reaping the benefits during the long cold winter.  But I digress.

You have two options.  The first option is Clean Out the Fridge Soup, one of my favorites.  With a plethora of random leftovers, the resulting soup is different every time and you get to wash twenty little Tupperwares when you’re done.  The second option is Planned Soup where you think about it ahead of time and try to match ingredients that will go well together.

P1010196Let’s get started!

Step 1: pull out all of your vegetables and meat, especially the ones that need to be used up because they’re going bad quickly.  (Be brave, but not stupid.  Pull it out from the back of the produce drawer; if it’s less than 50% mold, you can work with it.)

Step 2: Put the soup pot on the stove and turn the burner on to medium or medium high.

Step 3: Chop up a medium onion and mince 2-3 cloves of garlic.  Don’t worry, it’s only raw garlic that make you unkissable; you can still ask your hubby to get you to bed on time!  (See post from August 4th) When the soup pot is hot (no, don’t touch it, just let your hand hover and see if it’s hot), add some fat: oil, butter, bacon, your choice, though olive oil is the healthiest. When the fat is hot, sauté the onion and garlic for a minute.

Step 4: Chop your meat up into tiny pieces and throw it in, raw or already cooked.  Remember that you can mix your meats…one serving of meatloaf, a chicken leg, half a pork chop, etc.

4Step 5: Chop up your veggies; smaller is generally better, but go with whatever you prefer.  Sauté the veggies for a minute or two.  My dad likes to add the veggies by length of cooking required so that the garlic doesn’t burn while he waits for the carrots to cook.  He does carrots, broccoli, potatoes first and onion, pepper, garlic last.  Soup is not an exact science; figure out what works for you.

The vegetables in soup are like a contemporary music band; the right combination creates beautiful harmonies.  Onion and garlic are your lead vocals and your keyboard or guitar, water and salt/seasoning are the sound wave vibrations that your ears translate into music.  Without these, it’s just not a band. (If you’re not a fan of onion and/or garlic, you need remedial eating classes.  You can never have too much garlic!)

Celery, carrots, zucchini, spinach, broccoli, kale, etc are your drums.  You can make a band without it, but why bother?  If the point of soup is to give your body nutrients, don’t leave out the colored plants.

Corn, meat, okra, turnips, etc are the violins and harmonicas.  If you like them, they add a special flare to the band.  If you don’t like them, don’t add them; no harm done.

5Beets are a diva with control over the volume of her own microphone.  I like beets, but I don’t add them to soup unless I want beet soup.  You will only taste the diva.

Step 6: Add water.  Finally, right?  You boil your soup just as long as you need to in order to cook everything in it.  If you chop your ingredients small, they cook quickly.  Ten minutes should do it.  (If you add uncooked lentils or beans or rice, you just added 20-30 minutes to the recipe.  Not a bad thing to do unless you want to eat in 15 minutes.  Leftover cooked lentils or rice?  No problem!)  I add about eight cups of water.  If that feels like too much for your family, start with less.  If your soup gets crowded, you can always add more water later.

Step 7: Add the secret ingredient: salt.  I used to have trouble making soup.  At first I would throw a lot of things into a pot and serve it.  My husband got a few nasty surprises since he was generally the first one to taste it, so I started sampling dinner before dishing it.  If a soup didn’t taste right, I’d add a little of this or that or those and my husband would ask “did you add salt?”  It only took me five years to start listening to him.  Before you despair, add a little salt and taste. Add a little more and taste.  It’s very hard to take extra salt back out! If you over salt, try adding potato.

3The easiest way to do this is to add chicken bullion cubes or packets.  Bullion gives you seasoning and salt all in one easy step.  Just as with the salt, you should add one, taste.  Add one, taste.  This is also when you can add herbs, pepper, or spices.  When in doubt, let Simon and Garfunkel guide you: add “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”.  When it tastes good, soup’s done.

Now I know some of you are panicking right now!  NO recipe?  That’s ludicrous!  Anarchy won’t help me, Katie!  Calm down and start by clicking here.  It will lead you to a recipe for Potato Chicken Cheddar Soup.  Experiment when you feel comfortable.  Anarchy comes with practice!

The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for … I myself will be with you.” Deuteronomy 31:23 (Taken completely out of context!)  Be courageous to change your life!

Two Fisted Eating

Grab a brownie with one hand and a slab of pecan pie with the other…now stuff them in your mouth!  That’s what you pictured in your head, right?   We’re going to keep the joy of eating that you’re imagining, but lose the mess.

Your stomach is the size of your fist…or maybe two fists; depends on who you ask.  Yes, it’s that small, and yes, it can stretch out a LOT! (Do you know how much food I’ve managed to squeeze in there?  I always thought my stomach was the size of a football!)

Your stomach can expand to hold 1.5 quarts (okay, so I wasn’t too far off with the football idea).  One quart = four cups and my fist is about the size of one cup, so I can cram 6 fists into my football, er, stomach.  (Still with me, math majors?)

So what do I do with this information?  Cut a football in half and use it as a plate?  (We can call it the “Foodball”!  What do you think, marketing people?  Weight loss gimmick for men?  Only $19.99 if you call now!)

So, Two Fisted Eating.  At each meal, your goal is to put 4 “fists” on your plate.  TWO fist sized portions of “real food” (as I like to call it) and TWO fists worth of vegetables (remember Veggie Rule #1?).

Let me give you an example; this is the Turkey Curry recipe.

P1010173P1010175The plate on the left is what my plate looked like a year ago.  Notice that the green section looks more like a decoration – an afterthought – than a part of the meal.  The picture on the right is what I ate for dinner this week.  TWO fists of “real” food (rice and Turkey Curry) and TWO fists of veggies.

Now, THIS IS IMPORTANT: RED ALERT! RED ALERT!  Ready?  When your plate is empty, you stop eating.  It’s that simple and it’s that hard.  Drink some water, drink some tea, start the dishes, lick the plate and cry… whatever works for you, just don’t get seconds (unless it’s vegetable soup, then you can go back for thirds for all I care).

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12, NIV)

The math majors have all noticed by now that I said our stomachs can fit 6 fists and we only put 4 on our plate.  We have room for two more!  Yes, yes we do.  But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. (For example, I can post a daily photo of my poodle….)

We’re re-training our brains, not our stomachs.  For years, my brain equated “full” with my stomach being stretched to capacity: 1.5 quarts or 6 fists.  That turned out well for me, didn’t it?  So, now I’m training my brain to say “full” when my stomach has 1 quart or 4 fists in it.  It takes a while for this to happen (like months), but it will happen.  (By the way, a better goal is to stop eating when you feel “not empty” rather than waiting for “full”; still working on that goal.)

Years ago I had my neighbor over for dinner and she said she felt “stuffed” after her second piece of pizza.  Stuffed?  I was doing my best to limit myself to three slices!  I could fit four or five before I felt “stuffed”.  Now I feel “good” full after two slices of pizza and bad “stuffed” if I take a third.  (I normally stop at two.)  Her brain and my brain were trained to say “full” at different stomach capacities.  (And yes, she’s a petite blond bombshell.)

When you look at the food on your plate, especially if it’s less than the amount you’re used to eating, what problem comes to mind?  I’m going to be hungry in two hours! (News flash! I feel hungry two hours later no matter how much or how little I eat!)  Don’t fear the hunger; you know it’s coming, so be ready.  Eat TWO fists of fruits or veggies as a snack.

By the way, I push vegetables rather than fruit simply because fruit has more sugar and therefore more calories.  Fruit is good.  Very very good.  Eat fruit when you crave something sweet, but vegetables are our new best friend.  Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?  My definition is this: if you wouldn’t bake it into a pie, it’s a veggie.

So, a meal is TWO fists of regular food and TWO fists of veggies.  A snack is ONE or TWO fists of produce.  Slow down as you eat and enjoy what’s on your plate.  (More on that later.)

Okay, math majors!  When does TWO plus TWO not equal four?

When they add up to negative numbers on the scale!

Second Week Is Soup

2013 Summer 593Just as sex combines exercise and sleep (read my last post if that came out of nowhere for you), SOUP combines two more elements that I believe are essential for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle: water and vegetables.

Our bodies are 60% water, so let’s start there.  A research study showed that drinking 16oz (one bottle) of water before each meal helped people lose more weight and keep that weight off.  It makes sense, right?  If your stomach is full of water, there’s less room for food.

But water is so boring!  Yes, yes it is.  Dress it up with lemon if you have to, but chug it down.  Because if your pee is still Crayola Crayon Laser Lemon Yellow after lunch, you’re not drinking enough water.

Another great reason to drink water is that if you’re drinking water, you’re not drinking soda, juice, tea, coffee, etc.  Calorie-wise, that’s HUGE!  Now, I love my coffee.  And I love it about as close to melted coffee ice cream as you can get.  So, I’m not saying that you can never drink anything other than water; I am saying that most of what you drink should be water.

 “ You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.” (Nehemiah 9:20, NIV)

And now, the moment you’ve all been dreading…. Time to eat your vegetables.

Yes, your mother was right. 2013 Summer 605

At a family reunion a couple of years ago, I looked around at the plates of all of my skinny relatives and noticed two things when I compared their plates to mine.  1.  They had less on their plate.  2. Half of their plate was covered by veggies.

Vegetables (or “rabbit food” as my siblings and I used to call them) have lots of fiber, nutrients, and vitamins and very, very few calories.  (Which means you can pig out on them and that’s a good thing!) They, along with whole grains and legumes, were the original menu planned by God in the Garden of Eden.

One theory I heard is that your body will continue to crave food until all of its nutritional requirements are met.  That means that if you fill your body with crap, it will ask for more in hopes that it will get the nutrients it needs.  If you fill your body with vegetables, your body gets what it needs and stops asking.

So, here are a few rules for vegetables:

Rule 1: Half of your plate should be full of vegetables at lunch and dinner.

Rule 2: It is ALWAYS okay to snack on vegetables.  10am, 3pm, midnight, I don’t care…eat them until you’re sick.

Rule 3 (The Rule of Thumb): If you can do plain ol’ naked veggies, please do.  I rarely can.  I eat a whole lot more of them when they have a little extra flavor (read that “fat and salt”) added.  So, the Rule of Thumb.  Look at your hand; your palm and four fingers represent the amount of veggies you’re preparing and your thumb represents the maximum amount of “flavor” you can add to it.  Bowl of green beans?  Thumb of butter and salt.  Baby carrots?  Thumb of Ranch dressing.  Keep in mind, the less fat and salt you add, the better.  Perhaps it should be called the “Rule of Half a Thumb”?

2013 Summer 592You will learn to like vegetables, I promise.  After eating them all the time for months, I actually started to crave them.  (Don’t worry, I still like chocolate; the insanity hasn’t spread that far!)

“Better a small serving of vegetables with love
than a fattened calf with hatred.” (Proverbs 15:17, NIV)