Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie "Protein" Pancakes

My Thin Mint Shake, Samoa Shake and Tagalong Shake are perfect examples of turning the foods I crave into healthier options.  This is my mission!  As you might know, I detest the word "diet."  A diet deprives you, a diet ends; a healthier lifestyle should never end but it should also be manageable.  A healthier lifestyle is something you can live with the rest of your life without feeling deprived.  I promote living a healthier, HAPPIER lifestyle.  You want a cookie?  Then lets make a cookie that is healthy for you!

Lately, I have been craving oatmeal raisin cookies.  So, I decided to make a healthy pancake that tastes like one instead!  And it is delicious, in fact I would prefer to eat this pancake over an oatmeal raisin cookie any day.  It is packed with protein and satisfies that sweet tooth inside me.  Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie "Protein" Pancake

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 scoop protein powder (any flavor)
1/2 cup plain low fat greek yogurt
2 egg whites
2 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup raisins
Optional (for topping): 2 Tbs chopped walnuts, 2Tbs raisins

1.  Put all of the ingredients into a blender (except the raisins) and blend until smooth.  Stir in the raisins.

2.  Over medium heat, spray a nonstick griddle with cooking spray.  The raisins tend to sink to the bottom of the bowl, so keep that in mind when spooning out the batter.

3.  Flip pancakes when the tops are covered with bubbles and the edges look cooked.

4.  Top with raisins and walnuts if you choose but I think the pancake taste awesome on its own!

Happy Guilt Free Eating!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Healthy Banana Cream Pie with Almond Crust

I made this delicious dessert for Easter.  It was Yum to the O.  My mission was to use a more low Carb, high protein crust.  I am a HUGE almond fan.  Almonds have so many health and weight loss benefits.  Plus, they are just plain tasty.  So get out your hand sanitizer, here is my recipe for banana cream pie with an almond crust. Enjoy!

Banana Cream Pie with Almond Crust

2 cups almonds 
2 Tbs agave sweetener
 3 bananas
12 oz plain greek yogurt (frozen)
1 package sugarfree/fat free banana cream pudding mix
1/2 cup fat free milk


1.  Blend up almonds.  I used my Ninja kitchen system blender to blend them into a crust like consistency.  Make sure to remove any big chunks.

2.  Add the agave sweetener.  Stir with fork until it is well mixed with the almonds.  Add a little more if need be.

3.  Form the almond mixture into a crust.  And..Wah-La! You have your almond crust!

4. The night before I froze 3 bananas.  I then chopped them up in my handy dandy Ninja blender and added the rest of the ingredients for the filling.  This was a little runny, so I placed it in the freezer for an hour before I served.

An easy, healthy version of banana cream pie.  Now go make this for Mothers Day!  Happy guilt-free eating!

Friday, April 20, 2012

How do you spell VICTORY?

I spell victory with a capital B-E-L-I-E-V-E. 

When I first entered the body transformation contest I set a goal for myself.  I wanted to lose 10% of body fat in three months.  Yes, that goal seemed unrealistic but I wanted to shoot for the stars. As the date approached, that number declined to 8%, then 6%...  The number might have declined but my determination did not.  I exercised, I ate right (most of the time) and I kept on going. Yesterday was "D" Day, the moment of truth.  This is when I find out if all my hard worked paid off.

When I walked into the dunk tank room, the tank operator started preparing me for a let down.  "6 % is the percentage to beat. That is pretty impossible to do, especially for someone that has a larger amount of weight to lose."  Thanks.

I hopped up on the scale.  18 pounds lost!  18 pounds lost in three months is terrific.  Even if I do not win the contest and the IPad2, I worked my butt off and am proud of what I have accomplished.  It was time to get into the dunk tank....

Unfortunately, I am not writing this post from an IPad2.  That is correct, I am not a new owner of the winning prize.  That is because the winner isn't officially announced until May19th.  Gotcha! Ha!

Now it is time to reveal my results.  I lost 10.6% body fat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Can you B-E-L-I-E-V-E it?!?!  In 3 short months I've lost 30 pounds of body fat and gained 13 pounds of muscle.  I am not 100% sure but I B-E-L-I-E-V-E I won the contest.  (If not, these results are the best prize yet!)  I B-E-L-I-E-V-E in myself, I am convinced I can do anything I put my mind to.  The battle of the bulge has always been the most difficult struggle in my life, I B-E-L-I-E-V-E I can conquer it.  And I if I can do it, I B-E-L-I-E-V-E anyone can... they just need to B-E-L-I-E-V-E in themselves.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tomorrow is "D" Day.

Three months ago, I entered a "body transformation" contest at my gym.  You can read more about it at my Weight Loss Competition thread.  And tomorrow is "D" Day, as in Dunk tank day.  I am nervous.  I look back and remember all the times I should have gone to the gym and made an excuse instead.  I look back and remember every bite I SHOULD NOT have eaten. Regrets fill my brain....

Then I remind myself...  "Self, look at all the things you HAVE done in the past three months."

To begin with, I lost (and kept off) 17 pounds and I lost it without starving myself.  I am embracing the art of cooking healthy.  Delicious meals using healthy ingredients instead of pizza and fries are now a norm in my household.  I am learning the importance of protein, "good carbs" and the right foods to fuel my body.

I am stronger.  Every trip to the gym, I push myself to do a little bit more than I did the time before.  And I can feel the progress.  Others have noticed.  And  Wow, I have muscles...  Now, I want to get ripped!

Another accomplishment I have made in the past three months is right in front of you.  My blog.  I am really proud of this blog.  I have put a huge effort into improving it and spreading the word. Obesity is a rising epidemic.  Over 30 percent of people are considered obese compared to 11 percent 20 years ago.  I do not believe this is because people simply do not care.  I believe most lack the "know how" tools for living a healthier lifestyle.  My goal is to help guide myself and others to better health through this blog.  If this fat girl can do it, then anyone can.

Regardless if I am walking around tomorrow with an IPad2, I am proud of what I have done in three months.  And if I can do all this in three months, think of what I will accomplish in a year! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gastric Bypass Surgery (the things you don't hear)

As I sat in Pod 3, waiting for my 6th round of intravenous iron, a commercial popped up on the television.  It was Carnie Wilson promoting her new Wilson Phillips reality show.  She was talking to one of the Wilson's or Phillip's (I can never remember who is which) about having weight loss surgery for a second time.  The nurse assisting a patient receiving chemotherapy next to me made the comment  "She is getting that surgery again?  Well, it sure doesn't seem like it worked for her the first time."  She continued to talk about it as she walked over to insert my IV, "Do you think it will work out for her this time?"  I reply, "Maybe, pretty brave of her though."  I guess that response was unexpected... she says, "Oh?"  I know, I opened myself up for this but her condescending tone on a subject she seemed to know so little about bothered me.  "Well, if I would have known then, what I know now... I might not have been brave enough to go through weight loss surgery the first time, much less a second time. (a quiet pause)  It is why I am sitting here today, after all."  Ironic.

For those of you who are not familiar with my weight loss journey, you can see some before and after photos and read more about it here.  It's been almost 10 years since I had gastric bypass surgery.  I had a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.  This entailed the cutting of my stomach to make a smaller stomach pouch about the size of an egg.  The new smaller pouch was then directly attached to the middle part of my intestines, "bypassing" the larger portion of my stomach and upper part of my intestines.  This is done to decrease the amount of food one can take in and also to decrease the amount of sugars and fat that can be absorbed into the body.  I know this seems drastic but this is usually done on severely obese patients that are on the road to an early grave. I believe I was.  I believe it saved my life.  But with any surgery and manipulation of the body comes complications.

The first complication began immediately after the surgery.   For some reason, I was vomiting everything I ingested... even water.  Doctors had never seen such a case.  Of course, I had to be one of those "weird cases."  Story of my life.  After an additional week in the hospital and extensive tests, doctors concluded I had a "swelling in the portion of the stomach that led to the intestines."  This swelling caused a blockage.  The swelling finally subsided and everything was "good"... for awhile.

It wasn't until about 4 or 5 years later when more complications arose. I began having excruciating pain in the upper part of my abdomen.  The pain was debilitating.  I often could not catch my breath and wondered if  "this is it, I'm coming Elizabeth." (Props to whoever got the Sanford and Son reference, I know my hubby did) This led me to a Gastroenterologist.  Turns out, with having a much smaller stomach pouch, one is more at risk to develop stomach ulcers.  I did. Good news is... they can be prevented by taking Nexium, the little purple pill.  Bad news is... I have to take it daily for the rest of my life.  And believe me taking it daily is crucial for warding off the ulcers.  There have been times when I had forgotten to take my pills or ran out without reordering them in sufficient time... I paid the price.  So, if this is what I have to do... so be it.  Things can always be worse.

Things seemed to be stable again... for while.

I look back now and see there were many of signs of anemia.  Fatigue, dizziness, being cold ALL THE TIME, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath... but it wasn't until I started getting illness after illness when my doctor suspected something was off.  After having pink eye and strep throat twice... doctors ran blood test suspecting I had mononucleosis.  Mono test came back negative.  But my blood and iron counts were extremely low.  Apparently, my iron levels were under a 4.  Apparently, individuals with iron levels under a 4 are usually passed out.  Apparently, the multivitamin and iron supplement I take daily was not being absorbed.  I was sent to a Hematologist.

The Hematologist gave me two options, an iron infusion or an iron infusion.  I was given the choice between two forms of iron I would had administered.  The first is called "Infed."  It is administered over a period of 6 hours, this is because a "test dose" is first administered... what are they testing for?  Allergic reactions. The allergic side effects from this form of iron is very common and cases of death have even been reported.  "I will take what is behind curtain number two... Zonk!" (Who guessed Let's Make a Deal?)  The second option was a 2 hour treatment of a form of iron called "Venofer."  These treatments are done three times over a three week period.  The good news is... patients being administered Venofer have a much lower risk of developing an allergic reaction.  The bad news is... I developed an allergic reaction. 

It wasn't until about 4 hours after receiving the Venofer when I started to get a head ache and just feel "blah."  Then... the fever hit and chills.  I was under a heating blanket and shivering.  I started to have pain in the arm I received my infusion and it started to swell.  I first thought this might be normal but after suffering for an hour or so, I did what I usually do when I am feeling bad.  I called my mommy.  She is a nurse so she does have some insight on the situation.  She thought I was having an allergic reaction and gave me prompt orders to take some Benedryl.  I did.  Sure enough... about 30 minutes later, I started to feel better.

I called my Hematologist first thing Monday morning.  I was scheduled for my second round of iron on Friday and I did NOT want to go through that again.  She ordered a steroid to be administered before and after each iron treatment.  This seemed to do the trick.  My next two treatments ran smoothly.  I was feeling much better, I had so much more energy... I was cured!

Not quite.

A month later I had a follow up appointment to check my blood count and iron levels.  It was not up to the level it should have been.  I had to schedule another round of iron infusions.  Another three weeks of infusions.  I was also told that this will now be my "norm."  I am to come in periodically to have my levels checked.  If they are too low, I am to have iron infusions.  My body does not absorb iron like it should due to having gastric bypass surgery.  I guess... I had not thought of it this way before.  I was disheartened.  And on top of that, since I am still menstruating, I have to watch it even more closely due to losing blood/iron every month.  This led to the discussion about having an Endometrial ablation...

An Endometrial ablation is a procedure that destroys the uterine lining.   Basically, a patient is under anesthetic and boiling water is inserted into the uterus to destroy the lining.  The endometrium heals by scarring, which usually reduces or prevents uterine bleeding.  Thus, reducing my loss of blood/iron every month.  I am scheduled for a uterine biopsy on Monday.  Hopefully, I am a good candidate for the procedure.

I also just completed my 2nd round (6th treatment) of receiving Venofer.  All went smoothly once again with the help of the steroid.  I HOPE I do not have to get another round of iron any time soon.  I will just have to wait and see what my counts are in a month or so.

But as I sat there receiving my last treatment.  I glanced around the room called "Pod 3."  Next to me stood the "Carnie Wilson nurse" assisting a patient, another woman (which seemed to be in her early 40's) surrounded by worried family members and a few other patients lying in hospital beds.  All were receiving chemotherapy treatment.  All were fighters.  All were brave.  And the only thing I could think about was... how blessed I am for my health.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spinach Mini Pies

I am not a huge fan of spinach, especially cooked spinach, so I was a little reluctant when making this recipe.  I am glad I did!  Not only did I enjoy it but so did my anti-healthy eating husband.  However, I did have to withhold the part about this recipe containing cottage cheese (still haven't told him, hope he doesn't read this) or he would have hated it from the start.  We had these for dinner but they would also make a great appetizer... and I think they turned out to be one of my prettier dishes!  Without further ado... here is the recipe for:

Spinach Mini Pies

12 wonton wrappers
1 cup non fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup chopped onion
8oz frozen spinach (thaw and drain well)
3 eggs
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1.  Spray with Pam (non-stick spray) and line muffin pan with wonton wrappers.

2.  Combine the rest of the ingredients and split evenly into the muffin cups.

3.  Bake for 30-40 minutes in a preheated oven at 375 degrees.

4.  Eat with no guilt!

The BEST part of this recipe?  The calories!!!  
Makes 12 Mini Pies
1 serving = 68 calories (7g Carbs, 2g Fat, 5g Protein) 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Running is Not For Me.

I have come to the conclusion that I am not a runner. Matter of fact:

If You See Me Running, Call the Police!

Yep, I will not be running unless there is someone chasing me, a fire or some other huge emergency.  I had good intentions, I had GREAT intentions.  I had thoughts of running through the neighborhood with birds singing lovely songs, neighbors waving and cheering me on, wind blowing swiftly through my hair... as I glide through the streets.

These illusions quickly vanished as I laced up my tennis shoes and hit the pavement.  As soon as I stepped out of the house... there seemed to be some sort of bug cloud that followed me. Maybe if I were able to actually out run the bugs, I could have gotten rid of them but they followed me the ENTIRE time.  I must have gotten a work out with running and flapping my arms around to shoo them away.

And yes, I even swallowed one. Standing in the middle of the street, coughing up bugs from the back of my throat was NOT part of my running fantasy.

All I can say is, these bugs better be low calorie!  If the bugs were my only complaint, I would have sprayed some Off bug repellant on me and jumped right back into the saddle.  But it wasn't. And a little Off would not deter the blood thirsty dogs out there either.

Around every corner there seemed to be dogs barking, growling and trying to lunge after me with blood stained teeth.  And i was SURE that I could not have out run them if they had gotten loose.  And if that was not bad enough...

You guessed it, I fell.  And this was not just any type of fall.  This was one of those falls where you start to stumble at first... trying to catch yourself... then you know you are going down, so you kind of roll up in a ball.  After rolling in a ball, I did a few rolls on the ground and landed right on my back. Luckily, there was not a scratch on pride took the worst of the damage.

There are many exercises that I really enjoy.  My absolute favorite is Yoga.  Boot camp.  And my newest obsession is strength training.  But I have come to accept that running is just not for me and I am OK with that.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Un-Devilish Eggs

With Easter right around the corner, what will you be doing with all those hard boiled eggs you dyed?  Well, I can tell you what I am going to do... make bunches and bunches of these bad boys!  I love me some deviled eggs!  Now for the challenge, to have our deviled eggs pass the H.E.Y. test.  (Remember H.E.Y. stands for Healthy. Easy to make. and Yummy.)  You can not go wrong in the yummy department when it comes to deviled eggs but let us work on making a healthier, easier version!

Un-Devilish Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs
2 Tbs of plain yogurt (or honey flavored yogurt if you prefer a sweeter egg)
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 Tbs dill relish (or sweet relish)
paprika (to sprinkle over top)
optional: 1 tsp hot sauce if you want to spice it up

Now, I am going to reveal the EASIEST way to make a deviled egg.  Once you learn this technique, you will never revert to your old ways again. It is simple, cleaner and just makes the eggs look pretty!  

Once you have split the eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and place them in a zip-lock bag.  Crush the yolks inside the bag.

Add all your ingredients to the yolks in the bag, seal and continuously squeeze the bag until all ingredients are well mixed.

Cut a corner of the zip lock bag.

And squeeze contents into each egg.

Wah Lah!  You now have a healthy, easy, DELICIOUS new way to make your deviled eggs.  Simply Un-Devilish!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Healthy Crock Pot "Wendy's" Chili

Doesn't that look DELICI-O-SO?  Well, this meal has become a staple in my household so I thought I would share it with you all.  Now, if you know me... you know that I look for three things when making a dish. I call it the H.E.Y. (Healthy, Easy and Yummy) and this dish definitely covers my H.E.Y. criteria.  Another reason why the H.E.Y. name is perfect for this dish?  When I walked into the house today, after the chili had been cooking all day on the crock pot, the first thing my little boy said was "Hey, what's that good smell?"  Gotta love crock pot meals! 

Healthy Crock Pot "Wendy's Chili"

1.5 pounds ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 (16 oz) jar salsa
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans (drained)
1 (16 oz) can pinto beans (drained)
1 (16 oz) can corn (drained)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbs chili powder

1.  Cook turkey meat and onion on stove top until meat is brown.  Drain and add to crock pot.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients to crock pot and stir together well.

3.  Cook for 4 hours on high heat or 8 hours on low heat.  Vegetables will be soft and translucent when done.

Makes 8 servings
1 serving = 190 calories 

This recipe originated from website, I love that girls recipes!