Archive for January 2011

Veggie Dish #2 – Savory Sweet Potato Chips

Sorry that I’ve been a little blog MIA this week. Not sure what happened, because this hasn’t been a particularly crazy week. I guess I just got a little caught up in the “is it snowing yet” anticipation that I really should have outgrown once I graduated high school. My gym etiquette series is not over, but I am taking a brief hiatus. In the meantime, read this post on gym etiquette by the awesome Jody at Truth2BeingFit who has logged WAY more gym hours than me and knows WAY more about fitness than I do, too!

As I stated last week when I reported on my veggie dish, I decided to change it from an entirely vegetarian meal into just a new vegetarian dish. That means it may or may not be the entire meal. My main reason for wanting to do this is to expose myself to new and interesting vegetables and dishes.

This week, I chose to make a concoction of my own creation – Savory Sweet Potato Chips!

I eat sweet potatoes at least once a week, so this isn’t a new meal for me. However, I’ll admit I usually eat them in a sweet manner. They have nutmeg or cinnamon or sometimes just plain. I’ve never made them savory, however, so I decided to try that tonight.

The result – delicious. I think I may like them better this way. Try it yourself; it couldn’t have been easier.

Start off with a sweet potato. Oh, and go ahead and preheat your oven to 450 degrees, because it really doesn’t take long to get them prepped.

I washed and peeled mine because this one was trying to start a sweet potato family and I wasn’t sure how that would taste.

After washing it, I sliced it into 1/4″-ish slices like chips. This could just as easily have been done as fries, but tonight, I thought chips sounded better. I then put them in a large microwave safe container and nuked them for three minutes to help with the speed of cooking. If you don’t mind waiting longer, you can bake the entire time. I wanted to expedite the process. (Side note – if you nuke your potatoes a bit before you bake them, they cook a lot faster but still taste from-the-oven baked.)

Then drizzle a small amount of olive oil (less than a tablespoon) and a small amount of cornstarch (around a tablespoon) on your nuked potatoes. They’ll be hot, so carefully toss them around to cover them with the oil and cornstarch.

At this time, you need to add some seasonings to make them savory. The cornstarch will make them crunchy but otherwise won’t add any flavor. For my batch, I used a little garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. You could add smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder… the sky is truly the limit. (And if you wanted to do sweet instead of savory, just toss in some cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice or the like.)

When they are fully tossed, lay them out in a single layer on a sprayed cookie sheet. You want to spray the cookie sheet with some non-stick cooking spray or they are a beast to try and get up.

Slide them in the oven for about fifteen minutes, pull them out, flip each one, and put them back in the oven for ten to fifteen minutes. Watch closely and pull them out before they burn.

When they have turned nicely brown, remove them from the oven and serve. Simple as that!

The verdict – very good, but I should have used more spices. This dish will definitely be made again.

How do you like your sweet potatoes?

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A Professor Trelawney Weigh-in

I have followed Weight Watchers PointsPlus Program for the last week. I ate tons of fruits and veggies, but I’ll also admit I had some processed foods as well. I got in plenty of exercise, including three different Zumba classes.

How did I fare?

I weighed in on January 9, 2011, at 360.7, which is 1.5 pounds less than last Sunday! Woo hoo!

January 9, 2011
Last Week’s Weight: 362.2
Today’s Weight: 360.7
Change from All-Time High: 42.1 pounds
Change from Last Week: -1.5 pounds

I am also going to take a few body measurements so I can report on those changes as they occur as well.

Chest: 53 1/2″
Stomach: 62 1/4″
Bicep: 17″

It is a little jarring to realize that my stomach is wider around than some people are tall. That is a truly honest measurement, because I purposefully “let it out.” I didn’t suck it in like I do most of the time. I can’t wait until it is smaller around than 5 feet. I probably won’t record my inches every weigh-in, but I definitely want a record of them so I can see them change.

Regardless, I am happy today, because I weigh less today than I did on January 2nd!

I am dubbing January 9th’s weigh-in a Professor Trelawney Weigh-in!

Why Professor Trelawney? Well let me explain.

I’m a HUGE Harry Potter geek. Seriously, absolutely, completely love the entire series. One of my probably unattainable goals in life is to be the next J.K. Rowling. No, I don’t want to be a blonde Scottish woman, but I do want to have created an elaborate, magical world with in-depth rules.

In Harry Potter, there is a divination teacher named Professor Trelawney. She is the direct descendant of a famous seer, but sadly, Professor Trelawney’s skills in the area of divination are quite limited. She just isn’t very good. She’s only made a tiny handful of true predictions, and she goes into a trance when she made those, so she doesn’t even remember them.

Just the same, she reads tea leaves, keeps detailed dream journals, and looks into crystal balls like it’s no one’s business. It’s even her career! So even though it does her no good whatsoever, she is always consulting her various mediums to see how the future is going.

I’m equating crystal balls with getting on the scale every day. I’ve done it for the majority of my “dieting” life. I’m always trying to see the future of my weight loss efforts, even just one day in. This week, I didn’t. Here’s the difference it made.

1.5 pounds of weight loss and a much better attitude.

In the past, I’ve weighed daily, sometimes multiple times a day, and seen my weight fluctuate. When you see your weight change sometimes five or six pounds in a single day, a loss of 1.5 pounds in a week seems worthless. But you know what 1.5 pounds every week means? It means that in a year, I’ll weigh 78 pounds less. That’s amazing. But if I weigh every day, then I’ll get discouraged, and I’ll just quit. Because while it’s exciting to see the scale drop eight pounds suddenly, it is very discouraging to watch the scale leap eight pounds when you know you did everything right.

For me, that needless self-inflicted discouragement can lead me to jump off program and my weight will keep going up.

For the rest of my life, unless a doctor orders me to do so otherwise, I am never going to weigh in every day.

I am going to set a weekly weight loss goal of three pounds for next week. I’m still aiming for 350 by my first February weigh-in, and while that may be tough, I’m going to keep shooting for it. Three pounds is a tough goal but it’s not impossible. And you know what? Even if I don’t lose but one pound next week, I’m still going to celebrate.

Oh, and in between shooting the video and writing this blog post, I ran out and bought my lottery tickets for weight loss. For every pound I lose, I buy a $1 scratcher. I won a free ticket, but that free ticket was a loser, so I came out with no extra Vegas money this week.

And as always, my video blog for the week.

What weight loss plans do you have for the next week?

P.S. – More posts in my gym etiquette series coming soon!

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Veggie Dish #1 – Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

I want to thank those of you who have had comments on my first two posts in my gym etiquette series. That series is going on a very tiny hiatus but will be back. The reason for the brief hiatus – tonight is my first post about one of my 2011 Resolutions!

At the end of 2010, (in other words – last week), I made a resolution to eat one vegetarian dinner a week. Well, guess what? We’re going to change that.

Tina and I are meat eaters. We’re carnivores. We’re like dinosaurs, apparently.

Whenever I cook a meal that is vegetarian, we often find ourselves feeling physically full but immensely unsatisfied, even if the meal was tasty. No, I don’t think we have some deep seated physical need that can only be fulfilled with meat, but I have to face facts. I have an eating disorder. It is easy for me to mindlessly eat. Even if I am physically full but I do not feel satisfied, then I will overeat to get that satisfaction, diet be damned.

I have come too far on this eating disorder journey to allow a vegetarian dinner a week to mess me up. Because I know me, and it could. One evening of “let me nibble a bit of this and this to try and satisfy me” could easily wipe out the two pounds a week I hope to lose.

So for those of you who are vegetarian and vegan, I say “kudos!” But until a doctor tells me, “If you eat animal proteins, you will die! And go to hell,” then I will continue to eat animal protein.

However, please note that Tina and I are not anti-veggie. In fact, we both want to get in more veggies. So this resolution is NOT being tossed out the window. It is being modified.

Instead of eating one vegetarian meal a week, we are going to have one completely NEW vegetarian dish a week. That will more than likely mean a side, and I think I’ll probably have more fun with this one.

But I do still have tonight’s vegetarian dinner to report on. We had Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas with Brown Spanish Rice.

My thoughts? It was excellent – but Tina and I both agreed it would have been better with a little shredded chicken…

I was on the phone while I was cooking and forgot to take photos, but it couldn’t be easier to make. Sauté an onion in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil until it turns brown. Dump in a can of corn, drained, (I used Mexicorn), and a can of black beans, also drained. Throw in about a quarter cup of salsa. I used some Peach Salsa from Harry and David I had leftover from Christmas. Let it heat through.

In a skillet with just a little butter, lightly brown two tortillas.

When both are browned, put one on the bottom, sprinkle cheese, fill it with the black bean and corn mix. Sprinkle with a little more cheese and top with your other tortilla.

Slide onto a plate, slice as you see fit, and serve with a dollop of sour cream.

It was very tasty. I truly do think it would have been even better with a little chicken or steak added.

Any other die-hard carnivores out there who have experimented with vegetarianism or veganism? How did it go?

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Gym Etiquette #2

Yesterday I had my first post in my Gym Etiquette series. I was very pleasantly surprised with the various comments that post garnered in such a short time, so apparently, this is definitely an issue for a lot of us. Common courtesy just doesn’t seem to exist anymore, sadly, even though there are clearly a lot of us who would like to see it make a comeback. In that vein, I will continue with this series with this tip.

Rule #2 – Please wipe down the equipment!

This one is just gross. You are in the gym to workout. You are going to sweat. You will sweat on the equipment. This is acceptable. It is unavoidable.

What is NOT unavoidable is not doing anything about it!

I’ve trained in two different gyms and they both had their policies for how to deal with sweat. One gym had large five-gallon bucket dispensers of sani-wipes that you could grab, wipe your sweat off with, and leave it nicely clean for the next patron. My current gym has a bottle of hepacide spray and paper towels that you can wet and then wipe down. Both take a matter of seconds.

Please note that it is also acceptable to simply use your towel and give the equipment a quick once-over. No one is expecting you to bust out the Chlorox and make it clean enough to perform surgery on. It is just simply not fun to go for a bench press and find yourself lying in someone else’s sweat.

This is also the same reason why many gyms have a mandatory shirts policy. Some dudes are crazy buff and want to show off. Well, I’m sorry, but if your naked upper body is lying on the exercise equipment, that is a LOT of sweaty flesh touching something that I am going to need to use next.

Of course, some guys get around this by wearing the barely-a-shirt shirt. You know the one, it’s kind of like a string tank top, but they made it by ripping up an old t-shirt all the way down to the waist?

Okay, we get it. You have muscles. That’s fine. I’m very proud of you for having nipples. Just please wipe down the benches and other equipment when you are done with it!

And probably the most confusing part of the entire wipe-down process – what do you do with cardio equipment?

Easy. Wipe it down. If you touch it with your hands, wipe it down. This is for two reasons – one, you may touch yourself sweating and then transfer said sweat to handles where the next person has to touch it. Gross. And two – you may have a head cold or the flu, and I don’t want to touch your elliptical handles or treadmill heart rate sensors for the same reason I don’t want to touch the door leading out of the bathroom.

Just grab an antiseptic wipe if your gym has them and wipe it down, or at the very least, get a towel (bring your own or use one of the gym’s) and wipe the equipment down that you used. Those of us who don’t want to touch someone else’s sweat or get your germs thank you.

What are your thoughts? Are those of us who are insistent on wiped down equipment just too anal about it? Given that some people NEVER wipe down equipment, it seems that some people feel that way.

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Gym Etiquette #1

A lot of weight loss bloggers offer tips. A lot of them are qualified to offer tips. My weight has been largely stagnant for a long time, and for the most part, I am not yet in a place where I am truly comfortable telling people how to lose weight. In a few months, maybe, but not now.

There is one area I do feel qualified to give some info out though, and since it is the new year and the gyms are overly crowded right now, I’m thinking there may be a few people even searching for this info. So, if you are here because you googled Gym Etiquette, well pull up a virtual chair and I’ll give some pointers.

To give a little background, I am probably one of the fittest obese people around. I’ve been going to the gym hard for about two years now, and I was working out at home about four years before that. So even though I have 350+ pounds of body to sling around, I have a pretty strong cardio endurance and I’ve logged HUNDREDS of gym hours, both on my own and with a personal trainer. In this one area, I truly do feel qualified.

Please note that these opinions are no one’s but my own. Every gym has rules, and you should follow them. You’ll probably see them posted here and there. But there are other rules that some people don’t seem to follow. There is a gym etiquette. I’m sure I’ll leave something off of this list, but this is what is important to me. I’ll post one tip at a time for the next several days. Please feel free to chime in the comments section if you think of any I’ve left off, haven’t gotten to yet, if you agree, or even if you disagree.

Rule #1 – Gyms are to work out in, not loiter and talk. If you want to loiter and talk, go to Starbucks.

Seriously, this is probably the one that irks me the most. I’m okay with taking a workout buddy with you and talking while you work out. That’s no problem. In fact, that’s awesome and is definitely preferable to working out alone if you can swing it.

However, there are a LOT of people who come to the gym and just hang out near the equipment, never lifting a finger, maybe doing one set of something every ten minutes or so, and generally monopolizing the equipment.

Don’t do that! Seriously. Someone should not have to ask you to move your conversation away from the only unoccupied bench press when you have not even used it in about fifteen minutes. And I wish I could say I am exaggerating, but I am not. I have literally seen people come to the gym for an hour, do two or three exercises TOPS, and spend the rest of the time just standing around in people’s way.

In the same vein, if someone is on the piece of equipment that you need, it’s okay to ask to work in. People who know how to lift weights won’t mind, and it’s been my experience that people who don’t know what they are doing will usually back away pretty quickly.

So again, I’m okay with sharing the gym and I’m okay with people not quite sure of how to use certain equipment. What is rude gym behavior is to get in the way of people working out if you are just going to hang around and talk.

What are your thoughts?

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12-31-13 - 412.0
1-3-14 - 407.0 (-5.0 pounds total)