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Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

In the past week since I’ve really begun to focus on living a healthier lifestyle, I have seen a rapid shedding of pounds again. In fact, I’ve lost three pounds this week. That’s not a pace that I can, or should, keep up but it always amazes me how fast it comes off whenever I start to pay attention to my lifestyle. Here’s what I think the biggest factors in this rapid loss are.

  • No HFCS – Once again, I’m not drinking soda. I am a horrible soda junky and love Root Beer and Mt. Dew. I have no idea how many calories I was consuming every day in High Fructose Corn Syrup but it had to be in the high hundreds. I don’t care what the commercials say, High Fructose Corn Syrup is liquid death. By cutting out sodas and other things with HFCS in it, I’ve greatly reduced my caloric intake without a significant change in what I’m actually eating.
  • Eating better – I’m making it a point to eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast again. It’s very good for me and I actually enjoy eating it. I had gone back to skipping breakfast or grabbing a really yummy but totally unhealthy baked goods or bagels with cream cheese.  Instead of sticking with me like the oatmeal does, I would be hungry sooner and stronger than I am when I eat oatmeal. I’m also eating salads for lunch again. That’s two meals a day with little to no unhealthy ingredients.
  • Exercise – As I said in an earlier post, we got a new dog this past week. We were fostering her to see if she would be a good fit for our family. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the right dog for us so had to return to the shelter where she will wait for another family. However, having her around meant that I had to walk her in the mornings and evenings. Just because she’s gone doesn’t mean I can’t keep up the schedule I’d set for walking. That’s exactly what I did this morning and what I’ll continue to do. It’s nice to be moving again.
  • Medication – I’ve written about it over and over again here and still I could write more. I have problems with depression and food addiction. I had stopped taking my anti-depressant and I’m sure that some (a lot) of my eating was caused by those two factors. I am on a new medication now and I can already see it helping me to not have urges to eat.

And, of course, I’m making sure to work on my practice as much as I can. There’s something about being sincere and committed to your practice that is conducive to a healthy lifestyle. When I am focused and clear, making better decisions about what to eat, think, say and do all come much easier.

We’ll see how long this rapid loss phase goes this time. Last year when I started this journey, I lost 20 pounds in what felt like no time at all. I don’t think that will happen this time around but at least I’m prepared for the loss and I know what to expect. I’m feeling healthier already.

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Well not really but sort of. I guess I need to preface this with the news that we finally have a Trader Joe’s here in Maine. Now that the crowds have died down (a bit), I ventured over there last night. It was great to see all the old familiar Trader Joe brands along with low prices on all kinds of great things. One of the things picked up was the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie spice mix. It came highly recommended from another blog that I read a while back and don’t remember the address of right now. That blog included a few recipes for what to do with this spice mix. One of the recommendations was to put it into oatmeal. I tried this today and am pleased with the results. It’s a little odd at first but pumpkin pie flavored oatmeal works. Now, if I only had any coffee left at home I could try making my own pumpkin-spiced flavored beverage. I guess that will have to wait for another day.

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Apparently I had a mis-reading on my scale yesterday. Before I got on it today, I noticed that it wasn’t aligned correctly and fixed it. It turns out I’ve lost more than I thought and I’m now down to 289. That means I’ve lost 41 POUNDS!! I’m now over halfway to my goal of getting down to 250. That was the best surprise I think I could have gotten since my birthday when my family got me an awesome birthday cake. It could also be that since I’m back on track with my eating and exercising I may be getting added weight loss from that. Regardless of why, I’m happy about it.

Instead of oatmeal for breakfast this morning, I’m enjoying a smoothie made with kale, mixed berries, vanilla soy milk, silken tofu, whey protein and ice. It’s a really tasty and very good for me. The only problem with it is that I used too much ice and it’s more like a berry sherbet than a smoothie. I’m eating it with a spoon instead of a straw. If you would like to try it, here is the recipe.

1/2 cup kale or spinnach

1/3 cup silken tofu

1/2 cup vanilla soy milk (or any flavor of your choice)

1 scoop of whey protein

4-5 ice cubes

1/2 cup frozen mixed berries or your favorite berry

Add all ingredients to a powerful blender. Blend until smooth and all of the kale or spinach has been chopped up and thoroughly mixed into the smoothie.

I got this recipe from my mom who was too afraid to try it herself. She’s also on her own weight loss journey and is using the South Beach diet. It is working well for her and her weight and blood sugar are coming into healthy ranges (she is pre-diabetic and has to keep a close watch on her sugar levels).  I had one of these smoothies with dinner last night and reported back to her that she should try it. I hope to hear back from her later today on her impressions. She has a couple of other smoothie recipes and I’ll be trying them to see if I can find more options. If they’re good, I’ll be sure to share them here.

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We had a great Labor Day weekend at Lake Winnipesaukee. It really is a beautiful place. We took a 2 hour cruise on the lake yesterday and I faced off with my sworn enemy in mortal combat: The Breakfast Buffet. This buffet threw everything it had at me: bacon, sausage, ham, eggs (scrambled and in cheese omelet form), potatoes, bacon, freshly baked muffins and breads, coffee, French toast, orange juice and bacon. This is the type of thing that Old Me lived for. I could destroy a breakfast buffet’s food costs whenever I had a chance. Especially one with food as nice and well prepared as this one. Instead of allowing my habit energy get the best of me, I only went up one time and I kept my portions small. I had 2 slices of bacon (OH MY GOD I LOVE BACON!!!) and one piece of sausage (it was SOOO good) and only one piece of French toast with the smallest amount of syrup I could pour over it. I also enjoyed eggs and a few potatoes. Since I was already eating all this stuff I also got a nice cup of coffee a little sugar in it. I broke all of my food rules in this one meal and I didn’t care. I sat at my seat enjoying the view and feeling the breeze and eating each bite slowly and mindfully. I was totally engaged in each and every moment and savored every bite. My wife was impressed with me because Old Me would have gone back to the buffet multiple times and the plate would be full to overflowing every time. This time, I kept it to one trip and you could easily see the plate beneath the food. I have obviously shrunken my stomach quite a bit because all of that food was almost too much for me to eat. I would have never believed that I could fill up on such a small amount of food but I did. I got off the ship at the end of the cruise feeling wonderful and victorious.

I also made a point to be as active as I could for the rest of the day and only ate salads for my remaining meals. We walked in the woods and toured the Castle In The Clouds on the north end of the lake. That is an amazing and beautiful place. The story behind it is interesting as well: a self-made millionaire builds a castle for himself and his wife and then dies penniless because of bad investments and overspending. The home is still in great condition and is being lovingly restored by a non-profit society dedicated to preserving the house as a historical landmark. The beauty of the land and the house was a wonderful thing to see and to walk through. It made me very aware of how wonderful the things that I have are and reminded me of how impermanent everything is. A man built this huge monument to himself and still lost it all in the end. Wealth does not bring happiness and it won’t do anything to extend your life. It enhanced my desire to end this year with fewer possessions than I began it with.

I also got to go to geek heaven: The Funspot Arcade. It’s the largest arcade in the world and is home to the video game museum. They have hundreds of old-school pre-1988 video games. I played games I hadn’t seen in years. I saw games that I had forgotten about. It was a total trip down memory lane for me. I felt like a Jr. High School kid again. I remembered all the quarters I dumped into different games and I had a smile on my face from ear to ear. I can’t wait to go back next year.

Experiencing the beauty of the lake and the mountains and the clouds and the architecture and sharing a wonderful time with my family was exactly what I needed. It reminded me that I need to keep living in each moment and focusing only on what I am doing when I am doing it. We went with no set schedule of itinerary. Our only goal was to go and have a good time. We succeeded in that beautifully. Tonight I plan on meditating and then spending some time with my wife. We want to watch “What About Bob?”

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Every morning, I try to make a ritual of mindfulness. This has become really helpful to me in getting my day started on the right track. I thought I’d share a bit about what I do each morning. This schedule isn’t set in stone and I’ve only recently started getting up at 6:00 A.M. In the past, I didn’t get up until 6:30 or later and didn’t exercise at all.

6:00 A.M. – The alarm goes off (if you’re not up already). When you turn it off, perform the Waking-Up Meditation from Savor It’s in chapter 7 of the book. 

Breathe three in-breaths and three out-breaths, repeating the following verse silently for each in-breath and out-breath.

Breathing in I fill my new day with joy/faith/love/gratitude/mindfulness/ease/harmony.
Breathing out, I smile

 
For the in-breath, choose one of the words that most appeals to you.

6:01 – Out of bed and into the restroom to begin getting ready for the day. When brushing teeth, go slowly and deliberately not thinking about whatever else has to be done in the day.  Take a few breaths and do the teeth brushing meditation. This takes a few minutes to make sure all teeth are properly brushed (doesn’t everyone get this obsessive about dental health?)

Breathing in, I am aware of my teeth and gums.

Breathing out, I look after my teeth and gums.

6:04 – Repeat the teeth brushing meditation, this time while flossing (doesn’t everyone get this obsessive about dental hygiene?)

6:08 – This is a family friendly blog so I’ll leave it up to you to figure out how to use the restroom mindfully

6:10 – Step on the scale. Try not so shout “YES!” while doing a fist pump if it shows that you have lost another pound. Remember, your wife is still sleeping and she’s grumpy in the mornings.

6:12 – Having gotten dressed in appropriate attire, head downstairs to begin exercising on the Wii Fit. Once again, try not to shout if the more accurate Wii Fit scale shows you’ve lost more weight than your bathroom scale indicated.

6:15-6:45(ish) – Begin exercising. This includes step aerobics, rhythm boxing, super hula-hoop, rhythm parade and whatever else you need to fill 30+ minutes and burn roughly 310 calories. Remember to keep a smile on your face as it is “mouth yoga” and will keep your mind from getting negative about the complaints coming from the various parts of your body as you force them to move in ways they don’t like to do. Try to find a phrase to repeat that will keep your mind focused. The mantra from the Heart Sutra is good for its rhythm. The Jogging Meditation from Savor is also good (though too long on the out-breath portion).

Breathing in, I keep moving

Breathing out, I thank my body for its strength, endurance and coordination

6:50 – Back for a shower to get ready for the day and remove the buckets of sweat from your body. Showering is done slowly and deliberately. This is one of the last times you’re going to have to yourself today. Focus on the warmth of the water, the smoothness of the soap and the frothiness of the shampoo as you wash your hair. Don’t think about the day or what lies ahead, that will only rob you of a moment of serenity.

7:00 – Get dressed for work. Remember to pet the cats since they want their breakfast and they’re mad that you haven’t filled their bowls even though you’ve been up for an hour. Come on, what is it with you humans? Can’t you tell a hungry cat when you see one? Don’t you care? Maybe if we headbutt you for a few minutes and pounce on your pants as you try to put them on you’ll get the picture and feed us. PAY ATTENTION TO ME! I’M A HUNGRY CAT!!

7:03 – Feed the cats. Keep hands out of their bowls as there will be sharp teeth in there and they don’t care what they snap shut on.

7:05 – Go to the pantry and grab the large canister of oatmeal from the middle shelf in the back. You know, the one oriented so that the top is on the right  and where the Quaker man is always turned so that you can see his face. (Doesn’t everyone like to keep things in order?) . On the way out of the pantry, grab the cayenne pepper and the cinnamon. They should be easy to find because the spices on the spice shelf are alphabetized and arranged according to size. They’re right between the basil and the coriander. (Doesn’t everyone alphabetize their spices?)

7:06 – Grab a bowl from the cabinet. If there is no clean bowl, wash one. If washing, do it mindfully and intentionally. Don’t think about the oatmeal that you’ll be having later, just wash your bowl. Grab a 1/2 cup measuring cup and a 1/4 cup measuring cup from the cabinet on the right where they always sit on the bottom shelf right between the blue bowl and the stainless steel mixing bowls. (Remember to be thankful for a well-organized cabinet). Grab the measuring spoons (the metal ones, not the crappy plastic ones) from the drawer underneath the cabinet. Don’t forget to grab a spoon to eat with while you’re there. You’d hate to have to go back to the drawer a second time.

7:07 – Grab a packet of Truvia and then measure out 3/4 cups of oatmeal into the bowl. Add the Truvia, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and as much cayenne pepper as you can stand. Mix everything together using the spoon you so wisely grabbed earlier. Add 1 & 1/4 cups water to the bowl using the time that the water is coming out of the sink to wash the measuring cups.

7:08 – Put the bowl of oatmeal into the microwave and cook for 2 minutes. While the oatmeal cooks, put away the measuring cups, the measuring spoons, the oatmeal and the spices. Remember to make sure everything is in its right place with the correct orientation. You wouldn’t want to have something misplaced tomorrow would you?

7:10 – Pull the oatmeal from the microwave and stir well. Grab a Sobe Lifewater or tap water with ice (depending on what you have that morning) and sit down at the table.

7:10 – 7:20 – Even though it only takes 3 minutes to make the oatmeal it takes much longer to eat because you are eating mindfully, aren’t you? Put the spoon down after each bite. Chew each bite slowly. Remember to enjoy the sweetness of the Truvia and the flavor of the cinnamon and the kick of the cayenne. Let each bite linger in the mouth as you slowly chew it and take in the sights and sounds around you. Don’t forget to focus on your breathing.

7:20 – 7:30 – Assist your son who came downstairs at the same time as you and who has been pelting you with questions and comments and bizarre non sequiturs for the past 20 minutes while you have carefully addressed him without allowing it to disrupt your mindfulness. It’s harder said than done, but most morning you can pull it off.

7:30 – Put on shoes and leave for work. This is the last time you’ll be alone until tonight so remember to drive mindfully. Try to do the driving meditation from Savor.

Breathing in, I am driving my car

Breathing out, I am mindful of all that is around me.

7:50 – 8:00 (depending on traffic) – Get to work and start your day. Finally allow yourself to think about what you have to accomplish and come up with a plan of action. Keep the peace and mindfulness you’ve cultivated with you throughout the day. Good luck, you’re going to need it!

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I’ve been eating healthier than I ever have in the past month and this had meant that I was greatly limiting my food choices. While I have been OK with this for a short time period, there are only so many mornings that one can eat oatmeal before it starts to get unbearable. I haven’t reached that point yet but there have been some mornings where I have skipped breakfast only to regret it at about 10:00 A.M. (I’ve also used those opportunities to practice self-compassion and self-forgiveness). Before I get to a point where I cannot continue with my dietary changes, I have started to look around for some healthy and delicious breakfast recipes that will allow me to add variety to what I am consuming. The website delish.com recently had a slide show of 10 healthy breakfast recipes and I was able to find and modify a few of those to fit my desire for recipes that were low in salt, fat, sugar, carbs and meat-free. Here are my versions of three of these recipes.

Herb and Onion Frittata

A frittata is an Italian egg dish. Kind of like an omelette. They are very versatile and a quick and easy to make. This is really good if you dump a bunch of tabasco sauce on it when done.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup water plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute or egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs or 1/2 teaspoon dried (this can be any herb you like. Try parsley, dill, chervil, marjoram or rosemary or some combination of them)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Bring onion and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until the onion is slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the water has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle in oil and stir until coated. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes more.
  2. Pour in egg substitute, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring constantly with a heat-proof rubber spatula, until the egg is starting to set, about 20 seconds. Continue cooking, lifting the edges so the uncooked egg will flow underneath, until mostly set, about 30 seconds more.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle herbs and pepper over the frittata. Lift up an edge of the frittata and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon water under it. Cover and cook until the egg is completely set, about 2 minutes. Slide the frittata out of the pan using the spatula and serve.

Quick Breakfast Taco

 I used to love getting breakfast burritos filled with sausage and cheese and potatoes and salt. This is my new way of getting my mexican fix in the mornings.

Ingredients

  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon salsa (whatever low-sodium salsa you can find or make your own)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute or egg whites

Directions

  1. Top tortillas with salsa and cheese. Heat in the microwave until the cheese is melted, about 30 seconds.
  2. Meanwhile coat a small non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat, add egg substitute and cook, stirring, until the eggs are cooked through, about 90 seconds. Divide the scrambled egg between the tacos.

Savory Breakfast Muffins

These are a little higher on the carbs and fat side of things but they are still low in sugar and salt. The recipe does call for salt and you can’t leave it out since it is integral to forming the texture of the muffin. The original recipe calls for Canadian bacon but I have omitted this to keep it meat-free

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 1 bunch)
  • 1/2 cup grated low-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup(s) finely diced red bell pepper

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Combine whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, pepper and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, oil and butter in a medium bowl. Fold in scallions, cheese and bell pepper. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula until just moistened. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan (the cups will be very full).
  4. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges and turn the muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

If you make any of these recipes, let me know what you think. As someone who went to culinary school (I told you food was a big issue in my life!) these recipes seem quick and simple to me. However, everyone’s skill levels and experience varies so if you need more information about healthy recipes I’ll be happy to share more of what I find. I’m nowhere near done looking for new things to cook.

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