Monday, April 30, 2012

Our own farmer's market

I love the farmer's market.

Every weekend during the summer, my kids beg to visit the town square.

My son, the messy one, loves the fountain - and getting his shirt soaking wet.

My daughter, the crafty one, likes the homemade jewelry, headbands and other treasures she finds.

Hubby likes the tomatoes, green beans and potatoes.

I like it all. But, mostly the fresh vegetables.

What I don't like about it? The hit to my wallet to purchase all of those homemade treasures and fresh veggies (in addition to my ridiculous weekly grocery bill).

So, in an effort to teach my daughter something AND to reduce how much we spend at the farmer's market, AM and I have started a garden. It's a small little plot - 4X4 to be exact, thanks to a kit from Walmart. But it features two tomato plants, zucchini, cucumber, squash, basil, green pepper and jalapeno. And, in just one day, my kids swear the plants have already grown.

I can't tell you how excited we are to sink our teeth into our work by mid-summer.

Well, at least I am.

Who knows, maybe the involvement will help to coerce AM and JB to try some cucumber.

Probably not.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's like butter (finger)

My hubby has an insatiable sweet tooth.

You can imagine how well this goes with a Weight Watchers lifestyle.

Actually, it's not all that bad to manage. I'm just constantly on the lookout for tasty, low-Points Plus dessert recipes. The fact is, our recipe box is full of them!

Recently, though, I found a dessert on Pinterest that I just had to try. It's made with crushed Butterfinger, Angel Food cake, vanilla pudding and Cool Whip.

To quote Joey from FRIENDS, "What's not to love?"


What. Is. Not. To. Love? And for only four Points Plus per serving, I recommend you get to loving it now.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Flat out awesome

Action Alley at Walmart is my enemy.

You know what Action Alley is - the shelves of goodies that are stuffed in the middle of the aisle.

Why is it my enemy?

1. Because those shelves are taking up precious space that I need to push my overloaded cart with two monkey-like children hanging off of it.

2. The product on those shelves entices said monkey-like children to gasp and shriek "MOMMMMMMMY! Can we get THIS?!?!" In other words, the featured products are usually not on our grocery list.

You get the picture.

This week, though, during my Saturday grocery trip, it was me who was shrieking as a result of an Action Alley product display.

Individual sized serving of Flat Out bread?! Flat Out bread in individual servings featuring olive oil and rosemary?!

I can make pizza... or turkey sandwiches... or breakfast sandwiches... or toast them and cut them up to eat with my avocado and orange salad...

I was so excited, I almost started weeping.

And then I realized: where are the monkeys?

Gotta go.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Avocado and orange salad - oh my!

Even though they're pretty yummy, sometimes I get tired of eating Smart Ones for lunch.

So you can imagine how I excited I was to find a new idea on Pinterest. Salad in a mason jar? What a great concept!

There are all sorts of possibilities to try.

Lettuce, chicken breast, light honey mustard and tomatoes.

Lettuce, green onions, tomatoes, green peppers and light Italian. new favorite. Behold the avocado and mandarin orange salad.

Oh my, it's good - and supposedly only two points, if you believe the recipe on Pinterest.

I highly recommend. In fact, I may be obsessed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What is muenster cheese?

For the past three months, I've been trying to find the world's best WW breakfast casserole.

I haven't found it yet.

But this morning's attempt wasn't too bad. In fact, what ended up as more of a souffle, it was pretty tasty and very filling. Using an altered recipe from Pinterest, this was a fairly easy six point meal.

It's rated fairly easy due to one small issue.

Muenster cheese.

What in the heck is muenster cheese?

Thank goodness for Google because I had no idea. While shopping at Walmart for the ingredients to make the casserole/souffle, I drug poor AM all over the SuperCenter trying to find this special cheese. It was nowhere to be found. After finally resorting to using the iPhone to find a Google image, a helpful associate located the German cheese in the fancy cheese section at the front of the deli. Problem solved.

So, this morning before Mass, I decided to suprise JJ with the casserole/souffle for breakfast.

I had no idea it was going to take me almost an hour to prepare, cook and serve it.

And, while it was good, I'm not sure I'd invest the time again.

For me, the search continues for the world's best breakfast casserole.

For you, here's the recipe so you can make up your own mind.

6 eggs
1 1/4 cup Eggbeaters
1 ½ slices bread (torn into pieces with sides removed)
6 ounces muenster cheese, cut into cubes
4 stalks of green onions, chopped
1 cup of milk
¼ cup of fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup of fresh parsley leaves
A dash of salt
A dash of ground pepper
1/3 cup of water

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
Coat an 8X8 baking dish with cooking spray
In a bowl, crumb the bread and soak in milk
Stir together the eggs and Eggbeaters and add them to the milk/bread mixture
Also add the salt, pepper and water
Chop onions, cheese, cilantro and parsley leaves in the food processor
Pour the egg mixture into skillet and cook while stirring until soft, not set completely
Scoop half portion of egg mixture to the baking dish, sprinkle with cheese mixture and cover with the remaining half of egg mixture
Bring to room temperature before baking for up to 25 minutes

It makes six servings, each six WW points plus.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The devil's eggs

It's so hard to be good during the holidays.

(Happy Easter, by the way.)

I've been saving up all of my 49 bonus points for today's celebration at my grandmother's house, where not a single food item served will be categorized as "healthy."

As it turns out, the Lord had other plans for us. My four-year-old son, JB, has been running a high fever most of the weekend. After the doctor diagnosed him with strep throat, JJ (hubby) and I made the executive parental decision to skip this year's big family celebration.

That meant I could work with a blank slate for Easter dinner.

It also meant I had to cook every single dish.

I'm a good cook, but holiday meal preparation belongs to the more experienced women in my life - my mom, mother-in-law or grandmother.

So, I did what I always do when looking for Weight Watchers-friendly meal ideas: I started surfing the web. With the assistance of AM, my very opinionated seven-year-old daughter, it didn't take long to outline a somewhat healthy Easter meal:

As we were outlining the shopping list, AM throws me a loophole. If she's not going to get to see her Nana on Easter, then she wants to know if I'll at least make deviled eggs.

Um... sure.

Despite the fact that I've never made deviled eggs and they're not exactly healthy, my biggest concern is probably silly to most of you. I absolutely cannot boil eggs. It's impossible! I either over-cook them or under-cook them, and regardless of the cooking method, the shell always sticks to the eggs. JJ and I have asked advice on how to perfectly boil eggs from both of our mothers; we've read instructions online; and we've consulted cookbooks. Nothing has ever worked.

Nonetheless, my daughter wants deviled eggs and I want her to have a happy Easter. So, I find a recipe online and decide to give it a try.

As usual, the shells stick. After thirty minutes of trying to peel a dozen boiled eggs, I'm so frustrated I could throw something across the room (an egg, maybe?). In the end, the full dozen eggs didn't survive, but we had enough to enjoy for our dinner. The low-fat filling was really yummy, and they looked pretty good too.

My first Easter dinner wasn't exactly my best Weight Watchers meal attempt, but it was a heckuva lot better than what I would've consumed at my family's gluttony fest.

Want to know more about the eggs? Find the recipe here:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

There's a fat girl inside of me...

I've struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.

At age 10, I noticed my cousins - who were my age - were much smaller than me.

At age 12, on the odd occasion that I didn't hit a home run (I was a good batter), my softball coach would put in a runner for me once I made it to base. I was too big. I ran too slowly.

At age 14, my friends were all wearing two-piece swimsuits and I barely squeezed into my size 16 misses one-piece.

At age 15, I weighed 172 lbs. I was 5'4" tall.

I was no longer just chubby. I no longer could chalk up my outer cushion to “baby fat.”

I was overweight – and it was the peak of my teen years.

My dad one day suggested we sign up for NutriSystem. Mom, Dad and I all needed to lose weight. The program worked, and I was dedicated. I faithfully ate my "puff burgers" (just add water to this piece of styrofoam!) and yogurt. Through my dad's hospitalization, a horrific bike wreck that stole my summer, my parents' divorce and a new school, I stuck with it. By the time my sophomore year began, I weighed 135 lbs. (Thanks to a growth spurt, I also had reached my final height of 5'7" – which helped a lot.)

1-3-5. Those three little numbers became my lifelong barometer for my own personal definition of "fat." Whatever you do, Shannon, don't go above 135.

Except I did....eventually.

After graduate school, I landed a great job in Corporate Communications for a Tulsa, Okla.-based energy company. I also had a sparkly ring on my finger and a wedding date on the calendar. Unfortunately, the extra pounds had crept back up. It was time to get them off again, and I didn’t want to eat anymore “puff burgers” to make it happen.

My employer offered a Weight Watchers at Work program, so I decided to attend a meeting. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. In 16 weeks, I was back to the magical numbers of 1-3-5, and I had achieved WW “Lifetime” status. More importantly, I had learned how to manage my portions and pick the right foods. Have I fallen off the wagon? Sure. But I always know how to get back on.

And I have never had to eat a “puff burger” again.

My battle with my weight began during childhood. My devotion to the WW program began 12 years ago.

Today, I’m starting this blog to share my WW tips with anyone who is interested.

Because someday, when I'm all grown up, I would love to become a real WW leader. In the meantime, I'm hoping I can share my tips, recipes and experiences through social media.

Come join me. Let me be your online WW leader!