Tag Archives: clean eating

Recipe: PB&J Chia Seed Pudding

As you all know, I’ve been experimenting with chia seeds lately. They’re low PP and high nutritional value and surprisingly versatile. I’ve been racking my brain for low-PP recipes, and came up with a winner.

Because I’m on WW, I generally avoid processed carbs and useless sugars — which means that peanut butter and jelly, delicious though it is, is a no-go for me these days. It would be one thing if the sandwich had ANY nutritional value, but it doesn’t. (Oh, spare me the peanut butter argument. We both know that’s like saying “Well, chocolate cake has eggs in it! And milk!” A high-fat butter between slices of bread does not a healthy lunch make.) it would be one thing, too, if PB&J made me full. But it doesn’t. It would be one final thing, then, if PB&J were low-PP. And it is not. Three strikes and you’re out, delicious childhood confection!

That is, until now.

I tried this two times, and the second time through got the recipe right I think. It won’t taste exactly like a sandwich — no bread and a softer texture for the PB — but it’s pretty close and kicks a craving, tastes decadent and is actually good for you. Everyone wins!

Ingredients:
— 2 TBSP dried chia seeds
— 1/2 cup water
— 4 TBSP PB2, unprepared (PB2 is a powdered peanut butter; for this recipe, I’m asking for four scoops of the powder.)
— Sugar-free jam

Steps:
— Whisk seeds, water and PB2 together. Allow to set. Setting can take anywhere from ten minutes to overnight. Wait for the seeds to congeal.
— Dollop 1 TBSP of sugar free jam of your choice on top.
— Enjoy!

PP value: 4 PP, depending on what jam you use. Mine is 0 PP for 1 TBSP.

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Gripes About Grains

Guys, here’s the thing.

Like, the real thing.

The thing is: I just don’t believe I MUST have grains to have a balanced diet. I am open to being told I’m wrong, but I have done not a small amount of sleuthing on the subject and here’s what I’ve learned:

1. All the “YES EAT GRAINS” people indicate that grain is a necessary thing, because of its fiber content. On the flip side of the equation, many others wrote that I can get all the fiber I need day to day from my fruit and vegetable intake, which is significant. I don’t mess around with my veggies.

2. Yes, some grains are very filling and pack much more protein than, say, white rice. Meanwhile, they still don’t pack as much protein as, say, my protein shake in the morning or my greek yogurt at lunch.

3. YES, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, I AM AWARE THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROCESSED CARBS AND WHOLE GRAINS. YES I KNOW. YOU DON’T NEED TO TELL ME. YOU DO NOT NEED TO MANSPLAIN. YOU DO NOT NEED TO CONDESCEND. I GET IT. That being said, I know there’s some grains that are far better than others — but they’re still quite a bit of points for not all that much punch, compared to my other alternatives. So why would I eat them? Isn’t that counter-intuitive if my fiber content is already high?

This is a serious quandry for me. I don’t believe in diets that are so restrictive that entire food groups are missing. I also don’t believe in weight loss that isn’t sustainable. I also want to make sure my body has every single thing it needs to be healthy, happy and strong. So I’m not trying to be ignorant, here, or obstinate.

But my thinking is this: If a cup of bulgur, cooked with some alfalfa sprouts and spinach, is 4 to 6 PP and leaves me feeling semi-hungry, was it worth all that hassle? Especially when a greek yogurt gives me more protein, and once I add flax seed, some Omega-3’s to boot?

Further — I’ve really taken a shine to that crock pot oatmeal I posted about. However, that gives me WAY less protein and nutrients than my breakfast shake, which contains protein powder, spinach, kale stems, flax, banana, and almond milk. So sure, I got some godforsaken grains in. But I didn’t get all that other stuff. And isn’t that other stuff more important than grains?

ANOTHER key point — I’m aware that not all grains are wheat-based; I know it’s possible to eat “gluten free” without eating “grain free,” and I am not confusing the points. Certain types of whole grain do not have gluten. And I cannot stress enough that NONE of my dietary concerns are about what gluten-free or grain-free means — but I want to add, also, that people survive JUST FINE without grains on many grain-free diets. If I’m very conscious about my veggies, fiber and nutrients otherwise, why must I have grains?

I’m saying this as someone who LIKES grains — who enjoys quinoa, who made bulgur for the first time today (that’s a post for another day though), who misses her breads and pastas. I have nothing taste-wise against them; quite the contrary.

But as someone on WW who gets a specific amount of cash to throw around, so to speak, is it really worth it to cash in entirely on stuff like oatmeal and forego my spinach smoothie?

NOTE: I can’t fit everything into a day and still lose weight. I can’t have the smoothie AND the oatmeal AND the yogurt, etc. I can’t. I am ALWAYS looking for smart ways to use my points so I’m not lying and flailing like Kim Kardashian when confronted by her failing career. I’m not making an excuse. I can’t have 6 points of oatmeal, 5 points of smoothie, and four points of yogurt and still have enough flexibility left to have dinner. Cannot. So don’t come at me all D0 b0tH GrrRRrLllL itZ fiNeeeee! Because I can’t — and it isn’t — or maybe it is.

I’m trying hard to figure out the best way to eat and the best way to keep losing weight. I’m working out regularly – 4 to 5 times a week. I’m eating right. And this past week, I only lost 0.5 lbs — which isn’t acceptable, to me. I had eaten more grains last week, and now I’m concerned they’ve had something to do with it.

Do I really need grains to be well? Or can I carry on with my whey protein shake, my yogurt, my bread-free soups/dinners and my healthy oil intake and still be just fine?

Recipe: Berry-Infused Dessert Quinoa

I have two words for you:

Blueberry. Quinoa.

I made some last Thursday night (and again last night) and let me tell you: dessert will never be the same.

Here’s the general recipe (though I’m barely going to attempt getting the proportions right, since I wasn’t counting them anyway):

You’ll need:
– 1 or 2 containers of fresh blueberries
– A carton of almond milk (we used an organic almond/coconut hybrid that was unsweetened)
– Cinnamon
– Vanilla extract
– Brown Sugar Splenda
– Corn Starch
– Sugar Free Maple Syrup (it does exist, and it’s good!)
– One cup of uncooked quinoa
– Any other seasonings that sound good to you.
– Ground flax seed (optional)
– Fat Free Cool Whip (optional)

 

What You Do:

– In  a small pot, boil blueberries and a half cup of water/maybe a little more. Add some cinnamon and a little brown sugar Splenda. When they’re boiling, mash ’em up. Then, add a little bit of prepped cornstarch to thicken the mixture.
– In a nonstick pan/pot that has a lid, make the quinoa using the milk in replacement of water. Season appropriately with as much cinnamon, etc. as you’d like.
– When the quinoa is nearly done (with like 3 or 4 of the 20 minute cooking time left), add in 3-4 tablespoons of the sugar free syrup and stir in the berry mixture. Let the cooking time finish, then turn the heat off but leave the quinoa covered so it’ll soak up as much moisture as possible. Let it sit for 20 minutes.
– After the moisture is absorbed, top with some flax seed (tastes like graham cracker crumbs!) and fat free Cool Whip.

 

General total PP, depending on brands etc: Between 12 and 14.

Introducing my best friend, Quinoa.

I’m getting increasingly mad at my vegetarian and vegan friends, because I made ANOTHER discover that they never told me about.

Quinoa.

I have discovered quinoa, and am forever changed.

I type before you as a different woman than who I ever was before I met that round, crunch grain.

I did some research, and wouldn’t you know, Weight Watchers describes quinoa as a “Most Valuable Ingredient.” This pleased me. I discovered that one cup of quinoa is 5PP, which is a lot (to me, with only 29 PP a day), but if paired with low-point ingredients may well make things worthwhile. I further investigated, and word on the street is that quinoa is filling, tasty, and can be paired with, like, anything. My life flashed before my eyes.

Quinoa instead of barley in soup.

Quinoa in oatmeal.

Quinoa and fruit.

Quinoa and vegetables.

Quinoa in smoothies?

Quinoa by itself.

Quinoa with chicken broth.

Quinoa with beef broth.

Quinoa with NUTRITIONAL YEAST (a match made in heaven).

Quinoa forever, always and all ways.

There are so many possibilities and I, apparently a latent Pokemon believer, feel like I’ve “gotta catch ’em all.” I’ve made the grain twice so far — both times totally winging it, recipe-wise.

Attempt One:

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
A bunch of parsley, salt and pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 can of spinach, drained
1 can of artichoke hearts, drained

Makes two bowlfuls.
Each bowlful: 13 PP

(Kind of a lot, but if it’s dinner, then it’s a full dinner.)

Attempt Two:

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups beef broth
3 teaspoons garlic
1 tablespoon oregano
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (yeaaaaah baby, Austin Powers-style)
1 can of spinach, drained
1 can of low-sodium tomatoes and okra

Makes two bowlfuls.
Each bowlful: 10PP.

(Not bad, PPwise)

Obviously, I just kinda wing it with the spices. I put in whatever “smells right” to me, and so far, I’ve not been led astray. I can tell you though in all honesty that both dishes were tasty, filling, full of protein and iron and nutrients, and very satisfying. There’s definitely a powerful spinach taste, when one uses the full can of spinach, but I don’t mind and neither did Chelsea.

I’m particularly interested in quinoa and in making dishes with it where all the ingredients are nonperishables. Yes, Chelsea and I eat incredibly clean most of the time and usually opt for fresh produce, but there is A LOT to be said for knowing how to quickly prepare a satisfying, healthy, and nutritious meal using things that can exist in the cupboards whether or not I get to the grocery store that week, whether or not I have time to chop and prepare, whether or not there’s room in the fridge for the veggies. You know? That’s not nothing.

And so, friends, I have come to deeply love quinoa. It’s delicious, gives me a lot of bang for my buck, can serve as a rice or barley substitute, and is easy to cook.

Welcome to my life, dear sweet little crunchyful grain.

PS: Check out this HILARIOUS blog, whose namesake is the topic of this blog post.

Gray Matters.

Well, I’ve decided to post again anyway since I’ve been doing some thinking and as far as I can tell, the whole purpose of this blog is to be able to “think out loud” about the WW process. 

There are very few things about WW that frustrate me: one of the reasons I espouse the program’s values and am glad to be living them is that there is nothing ridiculous or out of control or unhealthy about the way the program encourages me to eat and cook. Some folks gripe that they should be  more forgiving about healthy fats — I say, no, you can still have healthy fats, you just can’t have a ton of ANY types of fats and still lose weight.

So I don’t mind doing low-fat and non-fat stuff when applicable. I also roll my eyes at the haters who are all like “WEIGHT WATCHERS IS DEATH LIKE ALL THEY WANT YOU TO DO IS EAT THEIR SHIT PREPACKAGED PROCESSED FOOD WHICH IS SO CHEMICAL AND BAD FOR YOU.” The people who say these things clearly have no concept of ANY of the rules, suggestions, or successful methodologies employed by WW. If you’ve been reading along with me, you’re already aware that the program places huge emphasis on what is basically “eating clean.” Fruits, vegetables, non-processed stuff. So no, WW doesn’t encourage you to eat their crap boxed foods. That’s just laziness and ignorance making a stupidbaby, to which your mouth is giving birth.

The thing I DO struggle with about WW — Okay, so they don’t want you to count calories. Okay, fruits and vegetables are free/0PP. Why, then, if you combine fruit in the “Recipe Builder” feature, do those 0PP items become 5PP or whatever? I looked into this, and found that WW needs to count caloric content of all that stuff so their recipes can be standardized. Now, that does make sense — in a way — but isn’t that somehow misleading when the exact same foods, tracked separately, net you 0PP? The article goes on to say that if what you’re eating truly IS just veggies or whatever to track the items separately. 

Which is what I do. And for about like, five seconds, I was content with that answer.

But then I got to wondering: How much “free” food is really too much? The greens I put in my smoothie — should they be tracked? What about the kale itself in my kale chips, instead of just the nooch? (Apparently, right then, I decided I liked the word “nooch” for the yeast better than “hippie dust.”) My afternoon cauliflower, that’s made with all 0PP ingredients? 

Certainly — certainly — I know that fruit is not always free. Last summer, I was eating a lot of apples and grapes. And by “a lot,” I mean two apples and like three cups of grapes a day. My weightloss slowed to a crawl. I cut out eating one of the apples and it got me back in the game.

So despite WW saying “Don’t Count Calories,” the obvious bottom line is that calories DO COUNT. 

What I’ve been doing, then, to combat this fear of mine, is counting each fruit or veggie serving as 1PP. Apples and bananas, I count for 2.

I think what I’m getting at, here, is that despite WW’s intentions of being helpful by allowing certain foods to be “free,” they’ve created — for me, anyway — a vacuum of anxiety where I’m always concerned that THERE AIN’T NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH. Mind you, I’m not eating obscene amounts of anything — my veggie and fruit consumption is appropriate in conjunction with my non-plant food consumption. But I’m always worrying. Kind of like that Sting song — “Every move you make…. I’ll be watching you.” I always feel like perhaps I shouldn’t even eat some of the “free” things I eat. Even when it’s ridiculous for me to think that. Even when CLEARLY I can’t live off a protein powder smoothie, a yogurt cup, and a bowl of soup a day. 

My gripe, in sum: The program is supposed to breed a sense of self-control and self-direction, enhanced in no small way by understanding what your body needs and consumes. However, the inclusion of “free” foods undermines that sense of control and understanding by rendering all fruits and vegetables into a meta-consequence-free gray area; it takes away control from the Weight Watcher (me) by telling me to trust in gray area. 

The entire PROGRAM is based on the doing away of gray areas! COUNT the mayo on your sandwich. COUNT the handful of pretzels you absentmindedly ate. COUNT your Jolly Ranchers. COUNT the cream in your coffee. Stop overlooking things that aren’t convenient, and COUNT them. 

So many people get into a bad spot with their weight because of that philosophy’s reverse: Oh, avocados are healthy so I’ll have extra guac on that, thanks. Chips and salsa? GIMME, nevermind that the chips are fried, salsa is so healthy. This big ole piece of chicken is appropriate for dinner — it weighs 16 oz? Awesome, think of the protein! Oh, these trail mixes are so delicious and nuts are so full of healthy fats so I’mma eat it ALL. Frozen yogurt is YOGURT so it’s okay, guys! I’m eating a salad for dinner — withmeatandeggsandcheeseandagallonofdressing — ’cause I’m watching my weight, you know? THESE ARE THE FLIPPANT, THOUGHTLESS, “SHEEPLE” STYLE GRAY AREAS THAT MADE ALL OF US (or at least those of us who are like me) FATTER THAN WE WANT TO BE.

The misconception: that all dieters used to eat 3 Big Macs a day and gorge on cookies. FALSE. So many people — myself included — nickled and dimed ourselves into this position by thinking we were eating the RIGHT things, but overlooking the gray areas and overlooking portion size. That’s how a lot of us got here. 

That type of thinking, applied to vegetables, certainly isn’t going to get us back.

And so, from now on, all my fruits and veggies will be 1 or 2 PP that get tracked in my tracker — even if I delete them at the end of the day to avoid needlessly snatching up flex points (WW’s formula for weightloss says I don’t need to count them, so I ain’t gonna fix what ain’t broken). I want to be conscious of just how much of them I am eating, and I want to know what WW would say if it hadn’t given itself a gag order about it. 

Being ignorant or willfully oblivious about what we eat doesn’t help, guys. Even when we delightedly indulge in fresh fruits and veggies. I’ve calculated the points for that stuff using nutritional info and, you know what? Most of it IS pretty guilt free (veggies anyway — fruits, not so much. They’re usually 2 PP). But I only know that because I dared to calculate and dared to look, and tried to live within my boundaries while tracking those foods.

What aren’t you tracking? What’s your gray area?

You might want to start thinking about it.

Gray matters.