Weight-loss Plan before Vacation

Yesterday was my brother’s birthday. Yesterday we had pizza, breadsticks fried Chinese chicken wings, and honey bun cake. Yes, honey bun cake. I ate about two slices of cake, two slices of pizza, a breadstick, and, I am not over exaggerating here, at least ten chicken wings.

I think I might have gained five pounds.

Now I’m a week and a day out from my cruise to Alaska, and while a pudgy stomach will surely keep me warm for the cooler temperatures, especially when I’m climbing that glacier, I still want to look and feel my best for my trip. Believe it or not, I want some of the pictures I take to actually feature me (proof that I actually went because, you know, it still hasn’t sunk in yet—eh, poor choice in words…). I don’t want to have to edit myself out of all the pictures because I look like the whale on the whale-watching expedition.

So I’m going to attempt something drastic. No I’m not going to starve myself, skip meals, pop weight loss pills, or get plastic surgery. But I’m going to try a diet experiment.

You’ve heard of the keto diet, right? High fat, low carb, moderate protein, supposedly meant to transform your body into a fat-burning machine. A co-worker of mine is on this diet, and he’s really shredded the pounds—not that he needed it; he was already skinny.

Anything low carb I’ve always been skeptical, because who are you to tell me I can’t eat my spaghetti and bread and potatoes and oatmeal and bananas? While I do try to watch my carb intake because diabetes runs in my family, I also know that not all carbs are created equal. Fruits are carbs, vegetables are carbs, whole grains are carbs, and they’re good for you, much better than that stuff that comes in a box.

But then one week I ate creamy broccoli cheese soup for lunch for four days straight . . . and I lost 4 pounds. Maybe there’s something to this keto. . .

So here’s my plan for this week:

  • Drink more water to detox from the binge eating and sabotage of yesterday
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day
  • Increase natural “healthier” fat intakes— avocados, full fat Greek yogurt, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, eggs, nuts and seeds, fresh natural cheeses, whole organic cow’s milk, plant milk (I make my own hemp milk from raw hemp seeds), cooking with vegetable oils like olive, grapeseed, and coconut
  • Stop snacking and candy picking
  • Track meals to hold myself accountable
  • Lose between two and five pounds by next Monday (Tuesday I leave for Alaska!)

Today for breakfast I made a triple berry smoothie with raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, half a banana, a quarter of an avocado, and half a cup of milk. Not much for low carb, but I’m not trying to be too strict on those. I feel with the increase of fat, it’ll keep me full longer and I’ll naturally eat less of everything else. But to intentionally eat 20 net carbs in a whole day sounds like death!

Mid-morning snack to hold me over to lunch was sixteen shelled unsalted peanuts. That’s a serving. Yes, I counted them out and put the bag away, because I tend to go overboard when snacking on peanuts.

Lunch is a homemade chicken club sandwich with whole wheat toast, lettuce and tomato, the another quarter of that same avocado, and sharp cheddar cheese (Did you know a serving size for the Sargento ultra thins is actually three slices? The 45 cals. is in the one slice, but it’s something to keep in mind the next time I make a sandwich and need more fat). Tonight, I’m making a creamy corn chowder for my lunch the rest of the week, and maybe a small romaine lettuce salad with an oily balsamic vinaigrette for the dressing.

For mid-afternoon snack, I’m having an apple—skin on because skin has fiber—with homemade natural peanut butter (just peanuts and coconut oil).

I haven’t decided on dinner yet. I was thinking spaghetti, but, carbs . . . so maybe I’ll dust off my¬†spiralizer and make some zucchini noodles with meatballs. Yum!

I really hope this diet plan works out (and I pray I stick to it). It’s not totally keto, but hopefully it’s keto enough that I can get rid of this pudgy stomach. If nothing else I hope to lose some water weight with all this water I’m drinking (and with the number of times I’ve gone to the bathroom already).

I follow a dieter who posts a lot of keto videos on YouTube, and she said a sure sign you’ve gone into ketosis is that you feel a little fatigued in the beginning, and you may also get the occasional headache. Well currently, I’m experiencing both, so that gives me hope!

We’ll see what happens. I’ll let you know next week my results. Wish me luck!

#WeekendCoffeeShare: Coughing Fits, Healthy Baking, and Superhero Movies

If we were having coffee, I would tell you no espresso for me today. I need tea with honey and lots and lots of lemon. In fact, I’d tell the barista to slice me up a whole lemon and serve it to me on a saucer. I’ll be sucking the juice from wedges between sips while we chat.

You see, I have a horrible cough. And I can barely speak without erupting. Lean in close because my voice is a bit hoarse, but I’m not contagious, or so I hope. You see, it’s only the cough; nothing else ails me. There’s sniffles in the morning, but that usually clears out by noon. But the cough . . . the cough gets worse as the day progresses, to the point that my throat is raspy, dry, irritated, inflamed, and I feel like a dying old woman exhaling dust.

Medicine doesn’t seem to work. I drank a whole bottle of Robitussin DM, THE cough syrup, in three days with no relief. In fact, I think medicine has made me sicker—how ironic. I’ve resorted to home remedies, sucking on lemons, drinking tea with honey, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, and ginger mixes. The natural remedies have helped more than the drugstore varieties, which to this point have only made my pee smell funny . . . too much information? I know, we’re eating.

I’m a bit of an overreacter. Whenever something goes wrong, I think the worst case scenario. When I first started my period at age ten, I was so excited to be a woman, especially since the girls in my class with boobs teased me for being flat-chested. But when 28 days passed and the little red dribble didn’t return on schedule, I freaked, thought I was pregnant! There I was, ten years old, never even kissed a boy, and I thought I was pregnant.

So of course with this cough, my worrisome mind has suggested lung cancer (though I’ve never smoked a cigarette), pneumonia, tuberculosis (probably should be in quarantine if that’s the case), Ebola (though I haven’t experienced bleeding or vomiting yet), an irritant in my vocal chords (because my cousin had that a few weeks ago). Notice how I still haven’t mentioned the cold or flu, which is probably the most likely cause.

I see you’re getting squeamish. I know I should probably go to the doctor, but with healthcare jacked up, and a family cruise in July, I really don’t have the funds for a visit to a doctor who will probably only prescribe me pills that’ll knock me out cold.

I’ll stick with my natural medicines for now. Maybe take a day off work (although I can’t afford that either) to get some much needed rest. And if I don’t get better then, I promise I will go see a doctor.

One Bowl Hemp Banana Bread by HealthNut Nutrition

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I went to another bake sale at the bowling alley with my granddaddy, and managed not to cough on the sweets. This time, my mom and I decided to make some healthy varieties. Mom made sugar-free brownies and apple oat bars using Splenda sweetener, and I baked banana bread based on this recipe from HealthNut Nutrition. I made a few alterations. First, instead of using almond flour and spelt flour, I used half and half all-purpose and whole wheat. While I did have almond flour at home, you never know these days who’s allergic to nuts, so it’s best not to take the risk. I also substituted unsweetened applesauce for the honey (even though I still added about a tablespoon of honey after I screwed up on the baking soda measurement). Since we were making these treats with the intentions of selling them to our diabetic friends, I wanted to control the amount of sugar, and a fourth cup of honey (although a natural sugar) seemed like a lot. When I think about it, I adjusted this banana bread recipe so much, it’s really nothing like the original. But it tasted damn good, so I just might post the recipe if you ask (and remember to take a picture too!) ūüėČ

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I finally got to see Wonder Woman! It was good, not great like some people have been saying, but the fight scenes were awesome, and I might have cried at the end, because, well, I can get emotional sometimes—shoot, I even cried during Toy Story 3! But I won’t spoil the ending for you. In comparison with the last two DC movies, Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman, Wonder Woman is definitely a redeeming quality for the DCEU, but I’m still worried about Justice League. That trailer looked like it was all CGI, and so dark! I think they’re trying to put too much into one movie. I know they’re rivals, but DC should definitely take a page out of Marvel’s book. That formula seems to be working. Speaking of Marvel, there’s one Marvel movie I can’t wait to see . . . BLACK PANTHER! Oh-My-Gosh, have you seen the trailer?! All that melanin, all that black beauty and power and sophistication. YASSSS, HUNTY, YASSSSSSSSSS!

Oh, you haven’t seen the trailer yet? For shame! Here’s my phone. Check it out!

Can’t wait for 2018, can you? Yea, me neither.

If we were having coffee, you would noticed I haven’t coughed for several minutes. Maybe the excitement over superhero movies was all I needed, but I won’t jinx it. So I’d tell you it was nice chatting with you again. And no, you cannot watch the Black Panther teaser on repeat, I kind of need my phone. Thank you. I’d take my plate of lemon wedges and dump them in a to-go cup. Say toodaloo for now and scurry out to the door because I’m late for work!

Single Lady’s Cookbook: Sunday Meal Prep

[Disclaimer: I am not, nor will I ever be a professional food blogger. I don’t cook with the intention of sharing, so rarely do I make note of measurements for my own inventions—unless baking. I don’t take photos; I don’t have a $500 professional camera, only my cracked android phone. I have no idea what a ring light is, nor do I want to because they probably cost more money that I am willing to spend, and as I said before, I am not a professional photographer, videographer, vlogger, etc.¬†

But sometimes I cook food, and sometimes it tastes fairly decent, and sometimes I want to tell people about it. So here’s me telling people about it: my Single Lady’s Cookbook.]

This past Sunday was all about meal prep! I’ve hit a plateau in my weight loss journey, hovering around the same number I reached on Thanksgiving of last year. ¬†While it is possible that this is the weight I’m supposed to be at, it was only four years ago that I was another twenty pounds lighter, and that’s the eventual goal. For now, my short-term goal is to lose ten pounds in five weeks, just in time for my cruise to Alaska. And yes, I understand that an Alaska cruise isn’t really the best reward for finally obtaining the coveted bikini bod, since average temperatures for Alaska in mid-July range from mid to upper 50s, but I would prefer not to look like the Michelin man in a winter coat and gloves while on vacation, thank you very much.

So I’m kick starting my weight loss diet 2.0. The main reason why I’ve stalled at this number that once brought me great joy is because I’ve stalled on my eating habits. About a year ago today, I dedicated myself to an all natural, whole foods diet. I was almost vegan, but I still ate chicken and eggs and fish. I stopped buying dairy products, most of my groceries we from the fresh produce aisle, I started making my own plant-based milks for smoothies, I started making more foods from scratch to avoid the added sugars, added preservatives, added God knows what else, that often come in package foods. This also helped me to save money, because I stopped emptying the store shelves of package and frozen dinners, and I also stopped eating out. On top of all that, I went to the gym at least four to five times a week. Those pounds were flying off. Before I even realized, my clothes were hanging off me as if off a coat hanger. I couldn’t believe it! I don’t think I’ve ever lost weight that fast—except maybe when I was a broke college student. And I did it in a healthy, sustainable, balanced way.

In the past several months, I’ve gotten lazy, almost settling for the weight that I’m at. While I’ve thankfully managed not to gain any weight back, I do eventually want to lose those last twenty pounds. That was my original goal, and I won’t change it.

So what has helped me to successfully lose weight and keep it off? Meal prepping.

I work a Monday-Friday, 9:00-5:00 office job, and while we do have a cafeteria, I started packing my own lunch to save money. That’s when I realized how beneficial making meals ahead of time can be for weight loss. For one, it keeps you from mindless snacking, which has always been my problem. I typically pack breakfast (smoothie, peanut butter banana toast, oatmeal, etc.), a mid-morning snack (usually fruit or nuts), lunch (usually soup and salad), and a mid-afternoon snack (again, usually fruit or nuts).

So on Sunday, as part of my meal prep, I made a big pot of chicken noodle soup. That day, I was also reaping a harvest of fresh, fragrant herbs from my herb garden, so I also decided to make homemade spaghetti sauce with the fresh, Italian flavors of basil, thyme, parsley, and marjoram.

But first I had to make the base for my soup.

Homemade Vegetable Stock

Yes, you read that right. I make my own veggie stock. Seriously, once you realize how easy it is to make it at home, you’ll wonder why you ever bought the stuff at the stores.

You’re probably asking why I decided to make veggie stock for a chicken soup. Seems counterproductive right? Why not chicken stock? The short answer: veggie stock is just easier for me, plus if I have any left over, I can use it to season other non-meaty dishes like rice or my spaghetti sauce.

So how does one make homemade vegetable stock? It’s really quite simple. I start by roughly chopping up onions, peppers, carrots, celery, and a couple cloves of garlic (no need to mince them) and tossing them into a large soup pot. I also add one tomato because I like my stock a little sweet. I let these cook for about five minutes or until the delicious flavors start to smell. Then I add what ever vegetable scraps I’ve stored in my freezer. I make a lot of salads, so this is usually cucumber and tomato ends, carrot and onion peels, the leafy stems of celery, plus any other scraps or ends of vegetables I might have cooked that week. I mix everything together in the pot, let the frozen scraps thaw down a little, then add about ten cups of water. This may change depending on how much vegetables you use and how big your pot is. I try not to add too much water, because I want a stock with a robust flavor and deep color. I also don’t want to be left with too much because I only use between six and eight cups for my soups.

As far as seasoning the stock, I add a teaspoon of salt and a tea spoon of whole black peppercorns. Next I toss in my fresh herbs, a few leaves of basil, some parsley sprigs, and some thyme sprigs as well. No need to chop these up; I just throw ’em in whole. Occasionally, I’ll add a bay leaf, but this time I forgot and the soup turned out just fine. So it’s really your choosing what herbs you want to use. I used what I had, but the flavor combinations are endless!

Bring your stock to a boil then let it simmer (covered or uncovered—I typically leave it slightly uncovered) for about an hour and a half to two hours. When it’s done, strain out your vegetables, and you’re left with a flavor packed, richly colored vegetable stock you can use in soups, sauces, whatever you like! If you don’t use it right away, you can keep it in the refrigerator, and try to use it within the week, but there’s always the option of freezing it as well.

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture, because of the above disclaimer, so you only have my word for it, but I promise the next time I make stock, I’ll be sure to snap a picture with my beat up phone to share with you.

By the way, my stock never made it to the refrigerator. I used it all that day. Most of it to make my chicken noodle soup.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

I did manage to take some pictures! ūüėČ

Chicken noodle soup is probably the easiest soup to make. It’s so simple, yet mouth-watering and so satisfying! I started my soup by sauteing onions, carrots and celery in some olive oil. I didn’t do exact measurements, but if I could guess I would say I used about a quarter of an onion and then one whole carrot and one whole celery rib with about a tablespoon of oil.

While the vegetables were heating up, I cut two freakishly large chicken breasts into strips, seasoned them with salt and pepper, then chopped up some fresh thyme, parsley, and marjoram and tossed them into the chicken to coat it. I let it marinade for a while, then added it to the pot and poured six cups of my stock over it. I cooked it covered over medium heat for about an hour. When the chicken was done, I scooped it out and cut it into smaller pieces, added it back to the pot, along with about half a package of Barilla fettuccine pasta.

I will say that at first it’ll look like you don’t have enough pasta. DO NOT ADD MORE! Half a box might be a little much, but I like to know I’m eating noodles. Besides, who doesn’t live for slurping and flapping noodles in chicken noodle soup? Trust me, when the pasta cooks through, it’ll swell up and fill the pot. I learned this the hard way the first time I made homemade chicken noodle soup. I added about 3/4 of a 16oz bag of extra wide egg noodles and ended up with more noodles than I had soup. I learned my lesson, and I pass it on to you.

I surprised myself with how little I seasoned this soup, which is to say I didn’t season it. All the flavors came from the stock, plus what I put on the chicken, which other than the herbs really wasn’t much. No additional seasonings is always a plus, especially if you’re trying to watch your salt intake. This soup makes between 6 and 8 servings, depending on how large or small your bowl is. I try to get at least five servings out of every batch of soup I make for a five day work week. Although, if the soup for that week is particularly tasty, I may have a little helper at home eating it for me, and it may not last quite to five days. In any case, if I did my math right, you’re looking at between 300-400 mg of salt (of course, this may be slightly more or less depending on your serving size), which is well in range for the heart conscience dieter who wants to eat no more than 1500 mg of salt a day (the recommended amount of 2300 mg is rather high).

I would say that this soup is definitely great for someone trying to maintain a healthy diet, because you know exactly what’s in it. From the ingredients, to the stock base, to the flavors, and if you’re trying to watch your carbs, you can always cut down on the pasta.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

The picture is a little deceiving; I bought those tomatoes after I made my sauce. ūüėÄ

Last but certainly not least, I made a batch of my homemade spaghetti sauce. I’ll try to make this quick since my word count is approaching 2,000, and part of me wonders if you’ve even stuck around this long without the abundance of pictures.

I started my sauce by sauteing about a quarter of an onion and a quarter of a green and red bell pepper in a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the vegetables start to become fragrant, I dumped a whole can of tomato paste into the pot (I think it’s either 6 or 8 oz.) along with a can of no salt added diced tomatoes (around 15 oz.). Sometimes I use fresh tomatoes if they look good in the store. If not, I just pick up a can; sometimes a can is easier.

I poured in the rest of my stock and stirred everything together. I use tomato paste because I like my sauces to be on the thicker side, but not too thick, which is why I thin it out with the liquid stock.  After that simmered a bit and had a nice, not too thick, not too runny, consistency, I added my fresh Italian herbs, basil, parsley, thyme, and marjoram. I also seasoned it with some dried oregano, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes for a little kick, and salt and pepper.

And that’s it! Homemade spaghetti sauce is done! I usually put my sauce in an old Prego jar or mason jar. This batch made about two and a half jar fulls. More than enough! My mom just used one jar last night to make a pan of baked spaghetti. I also use this sauce for chili recipes. Store this in an air-tight jar in the refrigerator, and it’ll last you several weeks.

And that was my Sunday meal prep, guys! I hope you’ll give these “recipes” a try and tell me how it turned out for you. Also, does meal prepping and homemade meals work for your weight loss? What do you do to stay on track? Let me know in the comments. By the way, do you like posts like this? I’ll try to post more single lady recipes that I’ve developed along my weight loss journey. Though, let me reiterate, I am not a food blogger, so the posts and especially the photos (when I remember to take them) won’t always look as pretty and polished. I’ll leave that to the pros, who obviously have more time on their hands!

#WeekendCoffeeShare: 25 Going on 90, Herb Gardens, Bake Sales, and New Ventures

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you to pass the cream and sugar, chuckling as I pour them into my cup, because the barista always manages to put too much expresso in my milk, and I¬†probably shouldn’t be ordering¬†coffee anyway, since I never liked the¬†taste of it, and adding more sugar to anything cannot be¬†deemed healthy. I’d consider ordering tea on my next visit to the caf√©, since the only coffee I ever¬†drink are flavored lattes and frappuccinos, and¬†maybe I’ll lay off the sweets next time too—trying to lose weight and all.

If we were having coffee, I would proudly tell you that I finally listened and responded to God’s call for me to be a teacher,¬†using my natural talent of writing to¬†offer biblical teaching and insight to¬†as many people as I can. Teaching doesn’t always have to involve standing in front of a group of people, which has always terrified me. And I’ve always been more eloquent in my writing anyway. So, after sporadically sharing it on this blog and others, and even on a short-lived Hubpage, my project, Sunday Morning Word, finally has a home, and it’s looking quite welcoming and homey on¬†a new¬†clean, quiet blog. I’m so excited to share its content, starting ¬†with my first post, “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People,” which should be an inspiration to anyone who is currently going through a hard time in life.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that at age 25, I fear I’m getting senile. Last night, I forgot I had a load of clothes in the washer, and I’ve only just now put them in the drier. Thankfully¬†the weather is not too hot or humid, and the clothes don’t smell moldy, so maybe I can get away with not washing them a second time and wasting water, energy, and detergent.¬†Another “senior moment” happened when back to back¬†two phrases that should’ve easily come to mind, like “activate a credit card,” and “engage with an audience,” completely escaped me, and I sat there frozen for minutes (I am not exaggerating), thinking, “What’s the word. What is that word?!” Dementia runs in my family, and it terrifies me that I could be losing it already when there’s still so much to do. So maybe I should pay¬†closer attention to what I’m putting in my body, i.e.¬†drink more water, eat more “brain food”—salmon, carrots(?)—get more anal stricter about my diet again because that belly pouch is starting to come back and the number on the scale is going in the wrong direction. Plus¬†it’s¬†just over two weeks before the start of bikini season, and I’ve got to get in shape!

If we were having coffee, I would show you pictures of the herb garden I planted—because I finally got fed up with paying $4.00 a pop for herbs and spices at the grocery store, and fresh always tastes ten times better that freeze dried, store bought, or picked too damn early anyway. The basil is looking delectable, and the marjoram, parsley, and thyme I can’t wait to eat, but my cilantro is struggling and hanging on for dear life, and I’m so bummed about it because I was really hoping to use it to make some authentic Mexican guacamole, or salsa, or cilantro lime rice for a southwestern dish. So if you’re a foodie or¬†you¬†have a green thumb, I could really use some advice on how to save my dying cilantro. My dinner plans are in a crisis!

If we were having coffee,¬†I would tell you that while watching a kids show on qubo tv (don’t ask), I heard a little girl, maybe five or six, say she wished she was 25, and immediately I said, “No you don’t,” because I’ve been at it a little over two months now, and this 25 shit ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, and how exactly do you “adult” anyway, because I’m pretty sure I’m not doing it right, in fact, nine times out of ten, I have no idea what I’m doing, but somewhere in the nonsensical definition, it’s called “adulting,” so I just BS and roll with it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my granddaddy is selling cakes for $2 a slice at the bowling alley to raise money for the cancer foundation at our local hospital. It’s just one of many fundraisers he has leading up to the¬†annual bowl-a-thon he hosts in honor of his second wife, who died of breast cancer. We had five cakes (four of which¬†Granddaddy made himself) on display—lemon, five flavor (vanilla, almond, butter, pineapple, and coconut)¬†plain and with icing, chocolate, and¬†almond—plus a dish of¬†banana pudding. Twice I had to resist the urge to smack some people. The first was a lady who stuck her nose all up in the cake, like she couldn’t smell it from 10 feet away. Don’t you hate it when people do that? The second was when a man paid for his cakes with a $2 bill. I would’ve kept that! They don’t make those anymore; in a few years, they could be worth more than two dollars!

Despite minor setbacks, we made $119 this weekend and will¬†be back again next Saturday.¬†Of course, I’ll probably be doing all the work because Granddaddy and his lady friends just sat off to the side, gossiped about Trump, and occasionally¬†yelled at people waking by who tried to pretend they didn’t see our delicious cakes (diabetes the excuse). But¬†it doesn’t bother me—hey, I¬†used to work in food service, I’m a pro at it—I only ask that somebody pay attention to take the money because I don’t want to be handling the¬†desserts and touching dirty¬†dollar¬†bills¬†too. That’s just nasty.

If we were having coffee, I would glance down at my watch and say I have to run, because there’s always something urgent on my calendar that completely slipped my mind until now—me being so forgetful and all. I would thank you for this lovely chat, and promise that I’ll let you speak next time, but you’re such a good listener and I just get so¬†carried away sometimes. I’d sneak a wink at the barista on my way out the door, and halfway down the street, I’d spin around and rush back in to get my cup of milk with too much coffee that I absently¬†left on the table.

Holiday Temptations while Counting Calories

Everybody knows calories don’t count on Thanksgiving . . . or the day after, or Christmas . . . or the day after, or New Year’s . . . or the day after . . . Let’s face it, you can forget about sticking to your diet plan until at least January 3rd.

But if you’re like me, and you’ve been busting your butt all year (technically, I started this journey in June, when I disappeared from writing), you don’t want to toss all of your hard work down the drain by overeating during the holidays.

Then again, that mac and cheese sure looks scrumptious . . .

Via Steve Johnson -- Flickr Creative Commons
Via Steve Johnson — Flickr Creative Commons

Thanksgiving morning, I made the mistake of stepping on the scale. I wasn’t expecting to see a number I particularly liked, I just wanted to measure the damage I’d have to recover after feasting out later that day. Imagine my surprise when the number flashed and the ten pounds I’d been struggling to lose since September were wiped away! I had to weigh myself again just to make sure my mind (or the scale) wasn’t playing tricks on me. The number flashed again and it was no joke. I nearly screamed.

I am now only 2.5 pounds heavier than my skinny as a twig brother, who is about 7% body fat. Don’t know how that’s even possible unless all of his weight comes from his height and his bones, and his muscles are just denser than my fat, but I’ll accept that. I’ll probably keep this news to myself for now. My brother can be a total dick sometimes, and he is skilled at crushing a girl’s spirit when it comes to body image and appearance, even when he doesn’t mean to. That’s a man for you. Sometimes they don’t know when to shut the fuck up, keep a compliment a compliment without following it up with a backhanded slap across the face.

I went into Thanksgiving dinner with that number burned into my brain. I tried to be conscious about what I was putting on my plate. It wasn’t hard to skip certain foods. After all, our Thanksgiving dinner was catered this year, and half that shit I didn’t want (I’m very picky about foods other people cook).

The dressing looked like raw liver pudding with bits of egg white in it (we still don’t know what he used to make that shit, it was just gray mush). I heard the green beans were good, but the casserole on top was a lumpy, soupy, “don’t know what that white stuff is” mess, so I had to pass (I will never understand people’s obsession with green been casserole. I so much prefer my veggies cooked PLAIN). The ribs were more fat than meat. I skipped the gravy because he didn’t make it with the turkey giblets (Grandma has spoiled me with her giblet gravy). In fact, the turkey was actually bought from the Honey Baked Ham store (or so it tasted), along with the ham! On top of that, the man forgot the bread and pie. (may all low carbers dance and shout for joy!)

belly-body-calories-diet-42069

So what did I eat for dinner? A little turkey and ham, mac and cheese, of course (though not as much, because it wasn’t Grandma’s mac and cheese), some sweet-ass yams that my brother didn’t think were¬†sweet at all (have I cut my sugar intake that much?), some cabbage my mom cooked, some clean (meaning NOT seasoned with bacon grease!) black-eyed peas that I cooked, along with rice (because you can’t have beans without the rice, especially when the gravy ain’t Grandma’s giblets), my homemade tart cranberry sauce (that my brother kept calling “that pure shit” like I’d cooked him up a pound of coke. No, chile, it’s just fresh), and some turnip greens that were surprisingly delicious. I usually eat my leafy greens by pinching my nose and gulping them down, but these turnips were so good, I had to get myself a second helping!

I think I did pretty well keeping myself under control this Thanksgiving. But I was still stuffed afterwards, falling asleep like a Thanksgiving pro on Granddaddy’s couch while watching football. It’s going to be tough seeing that number again with all these leftovers in my fridge. Thankfully, my mom portioned out most of the food and put it in the freezer, and my food vacuum cleaner brother should take care of the rest before the week is out.

My sabotage actually came a few days after Thanksgiving, when my mom and I went to a church fellowship at a restaurant called Class E, supposedly fine dining (so it says on the door), but it’s really an overpriced soul food buffet. I ate more mac and cheese than I should have and had banana pudding for dessert. However, in my defense, it was $16 a person—I was trying to get my money’s worth!

Now that it’s back to the ol’ grind (it was so hard coming into work yesterday, I had to write this story for some comedic relief), I need to dive back into my normal eating routine¬†so I can see that magic number again, and maybe one lower than that. But it is officially the holiday season now, and avoiding certain foods is only going to get harder. As long as I have a few “clean” dishes of my own to add to the potluck, I should be OK. Hey, maybe I’ll even share some of my recipes with you. ūüėČ

Let me know if you want the recipe for these pumpkin spice pancakes!
Let me know if you want the recipe for these pumpkin spice pancakes!

Food. Family. Football

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17; NIV)

I love Thanksgiving! I love being around family and friends,¬†pigging out on good food, watching my Cowboys whip some Deadskin ass on my granddaddy’s big screen TV (because I haven’t met a grandparent or great aunt/uncle¬†who didn’t have a big screen TV in the living room, as if they don’t only watch the news, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy!).

This year, we’re having Thanksgiving dinner catered, so I don’t know how “delicious” the food will be, I just pray it isn’t canned. My mom and I have decided that we’re going to cook some extra sides to go with dinner just in case it’s not good—black eyed peas, wild rice, cabbage, saut√©ed zucchini &¬†yellow squash, spinach dip¬†(I’ve convinced her to make it with plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Shhh, don’t tell my brother), and I’m going to venture out and make some homemade cranberry sauce for my brother who literally drinks the stuff, and try my second attempt at¬†hot for food’s¬†pumpkin spice muffins now that I have all the ingredients.

Click image for recipe
Click image for recipe

I actually wanted to make the muffins¬†with fresh pumpkin instead of canned because 1.) fresh is always better, and 2.)¬†I¬†recently watched a¬†YouTube video¬†(Is there anything you can’t learn from YouTube?)¬†on how to puree a pumpkin. It’s much easier than I thought (now that I know you don’t use Jack-o-lantern pumpkins)!¬†For now, I’ll¬†stick with the canned, but¬†in a future “pumpkin” recipe (because it’s the holiday season, and I’m gonna be cooking pumpkin til New Year’s), I may use sweet potato or butternut squash (my new favorite vegetable . . . even thought it’s really a fruit) because they’re sweeter than pumpkin, and I won’t need to add as much sugar (but who’s really counting calories this time of¬†year?¬†ūüėČ ).

I have a food obsession—can’t you tell? Since changing my diet and focusing more on whole foods and made from scratch meals, I’ve discovered a new appreciation for food and fresh ingredients. I feel like an artist every time I cook now—combining all the ingredients, like paint on a canvas, the intoxicating fragrances filling the kitchen as the meal comes together. So this is how it feels to be Italian!

But before I gnaw off the inside of my cheek with all this talk about food, I want to take the time to remind you what this holiday is truly about . . .

Food. Family. Football.

Kidding! But seriously, guys,¬†while the story we all learned in elementary school about Pilgrims and Native Americans coming together for the first Thanksgiving may have been fiction, the message is very real. Be thankful today. Eat with gladness in your heart. With the breath¬†from your lungs, be appreciative of what you already have—the love of God, of family and friends, that you have¬†a roof over your head, clothes on your back, a hefty meal in your stomach. Give your dinner time to digest before your break down the doors to Belk, or¬†JC Penny, or Macy’s, or Wal-Mart for something you don’t¬†need that’s really not on sale.

There are so many people in this world who aren’t so lucky. Even as I type this, Native Americans in this country are fighting for basic human rights, and they are getting shot at with teargas and¬†rubber bullets, sprayed with water hoses in subzero temperatures, reminiscent of the attacks African Americans historically suffered¬†while fighting for¬†their civil rights (a fight that continues today).

Enjoy what you already have, and pray for those who have less.

The only plans I have for today are¬†prepping for dinner¬†(even though we won’t actually be cooking that much food), stuffing my fat face, enjoying quality time with my hilarious family, and trying to stay awake as¬†I lie on¬†Granddaddy’s very comfortable couch and¬†attempt to¬†watch the football games.¬†Tomorrow, I’ll probably start my¬†morning with a run in the park, come home and avoid the¬†leftovers (hey, I have all week for that), and get to work on Christmas plans. It is the kickoff to the holiday season, after all.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:20)