Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Walking Between the Towers

This morning I didn't forget my breakfast.  I had a ham, egg, and cheese sandwich on Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats (Whole Wheat). 

Breakfast of Champion Teachers and Former Couch Potatoes
Now I am sipping my coffee, getting ready to face the day.  I am getting ready to go and read one of my favorite books, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers to a class of 5th Graders.  This book is amazing.  It is about Phillippe Petit, a French tightrope walker who did a high wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974.  It's an amazing story of courage. Every time I read this book to a class, I get many gasps, oohs, ahhhs, and more hilarious sounds.  The kids and I both love this book.  I've been reading this book every day to groups of kids for the past 2 weeks.  And I think this book is one of the things that gave me the courage to start this blog.  I've always been interested in doing it, but I needed something to give me a push. So, thanks, Phillippe, for the push. 

A funny thing happened at work today.  A water line burst and they had to shut off all water at 2:00 p.m.  So that made things a little interesting.  Now think about this... no water means no toilet flushing... so I immediately stopped drinking water...

For dinner, we had Hungry Girl's Cheesy Beefy Quesadillas.  YUMMMMM... so delicious.

I added a cup of leftover chili, just to round it out.

So, here's the recipe for the quesadillas:

1 high fiber low fat tortilla
1/3 cup beef style soy crumbles
1/4 cup FF or light shredded cheddar
1/2 wedge Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss flavor
1/4 tsp. taco seasoning
1 Tbsp. sliced green onions or chopped scallions
1 Tbsp FF or Red. Fat Sour Cream

Combine cheddar, sour cream, onions, taco seasoning, and crumbles in a bowl.  Stir well.  Microwave on high 30 seconds.  Then stir again and set aside.  Heat a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat.  Spread Laughing Cow cheese over half of a tortilla.  Then lay the tortilla on the skillet for about 30 seconds.  Then, spread the "beefy" mixture on top of the Laughing Cow.  Fold the tortilla over and press to seal.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side-- just enough to get the tortilla nice and crispy.  Serve with sour cream and salsa-- or whatever fixins you like!

The husband is always complaining about low fat foods, but he raved about this one.  Even went back for seconds... that means it was a winner!

Ok, well, I am off to the salon... going to get my hair done!  Can't wait!  


Monday, August 30, 2010

A Case of the Mondays!

I don’t REALLY have a case of the Mondays… it’s actually been a fairly calm Monday.  I did forget my breakfast, though.  I didn’t leave it on the counter—I forgot to MAKE it.  OOPS!  I know some people don’t like to eat in the morning, but I do NOT skip breakfast.  EVER.  So I had to scrounge around at work and see what I could come up with.

I “borrowed” the string cheese from my lunch bag.  I love light string cheese.  This one is only one POINT. And I keep oatmeal at work for occasions like today.  Of course, there was coffee—that’s just a given.  By the way, I drink my coffee black.  Most people think that’s weird.  How do you take yours?

For lunch, I transformed the leftovers from last night's Buffalo Chicken Wraps into a Buffalo Chicken Salad.  (Basically, I just omitted the tortilla and added chopped carrots to the salad.)

Also, the ranch dressing is made from a Hidden Valley packet mixed with one cup of skim milk and one cup of Duke's light Mayonnaise.  It tastes like the real thing but has way less fat and calories-- it's only 1 POINT per serving.  I also had a Fiber One Bar-- the Oats and Chocolate flavor really taste great and they really are filling!

Now, this Bubba Keg... that is the best way I have found for getting all of my water.  I fill it with ice and water in the morning and sip it all day.  It is still cold when I get home around 5 p.m.!  And I don't know why, but the straw helps me drink more. 

I did a Zumba class for some of my fellow teachers today!  We rocked it and had fun together... then I boooked it across town to get to a Zumba class at the Y.  Fun... but my knees are paying the price now.  Note to self... two Zumba classes in one day are not good on the knees! 

Dinner was leftovers-- Buffalo Chicken Wraps-- but I did make dessert.

I had high hopes for these cupcakes, which are a recipe from Hungry Girl (http://www.hungrygirl.com/). 

They tasted GREAT, so in that way they were a success, but the tops were kind of concave and they fell apart easily.  Oh well, I ate two and even the hubby said they were good, and he's super-picky!  The cake tasted very moist and definitely had good, sweet banana flavor.  And the frosting was awesome-- light and peanut-buttery, without being too heavy.  If you're a fan of the peanut butter and banana combination, then you'd like these!

Here's the recipe:

2 cups moist-style boxed cake mix
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup water
1/3 cup pureed bananas (as a shortcut, you can use baby food-- I did!)
1 mashed banana

3/4 cup Cool Whip Free
1/4 cup Reduced Fat peanut butter (I used Peter Pan Whipped, which is about the same as reduced fat)

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix Cool Whip and peanut butter.  Set aside.  Mix all items for cakes.  Pour into 12 cupcake liners or 12 muffin cups sprayed with nonstick spray.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Then, spread icing over cupcakes.  Top with sliced bananas if desired.

Ok... this Former Couch Potato is hitting the couch for the rest of the evening... I think we have an episode of True Blood on the DVR!  Yay!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

From Birthday Cake to Buffalo Chicken Wraps

Today we celebrated my sister-in-law's husband's birthday.  Does that make him my brother-in-law-in-law?  I am not sure... Anyway, I love birthdays, but it uaually means that I am going to blow my POINTS budget.  Plus, we had lunch at my in-laws' house, which is also brings a strong likeliness of eating the not-so-healthy snacks.  Today, we had pizza from Donato's, which is a chain restaurant here in Rock Hill.  I have to say-- YUM.  Their pizza is very good.  I tried barbecued chicken pizza, which sounded strange to me, but was actually delicious.  I think I am going to try to make my own "healthy-fied" version soon.  Of course, there was cake, and it was wonderful.  I never used to like cake, but have become a cake-fan over the past few years.  Sadie definitely enjoyed her cake... most of it ended up on her hands and face!

Made it to Yoga today-- yay!  It's something I am trying to make a regular part of my week.  It's a great Sunday-afternoon activity.  It makes me feel more ready to face the week.

So then, I got to come home and make these amazing Buffalo Chicken Wraps.  I have to thank Hungry Girl for these.  They were in her book 200 Under 200, which has (you guessed it) 200 recipes that are 200 calories or less. This book is AMAZING.  The foods satisfy your cravings for unhealthy foods and are usually really easy to prepare. 

These wraps are spicy (hence, the "buffalo" in the name), but the lettuce and ranch dressing help to cool them down and keep them light.  These make a great lunch or dinner meal-- or even a snack!

Buffalo Chicken Wraps:

Close-Up View

Plate View

Chopped cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 oz. per person)
shredded or chopped lettuce
chopped tomatoes
2 Tbsp light ranch or bleu cheese dressing
1-2 tsp Frank’s Cayenne Pepper Sauce
1-2 tsp light Parmesan Cheese topping
tortillas (1 per person)— I used one that has 120 calories and 11 grams of fiber

Mix chopped chicken with hot sauce and parmesan cheese. Microwave until warm. Then, lay tortilla flat. Spread ranch or bleu cheese in a line down the middle of the tortilla. Over dressing, pile lettuce and tomatoes, and finally the chicken. Eat “taco-style.”

Variations: You can swap the dressing for light sour cream. You can also add cheese or avocado if you like.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chili, Anyone? It's Starting to Feel Like Fall...

It was a pretty nice little Saturday today.  Started off the day a little earlier than I would have liked, but a little one in our house woke up around 7 a.m.  Unfortunately, it was MY morning to get up.  Coffee definitely helped...  A little later I headed to Zumba, but I had to make a stop at Walgreens first to get a knee brace and some Glucosamine Sulfate!  I am hoping this helps with my knee problems!  Does this mean I am getting old???

Went to the grocery store and spent too much money!  I have not been keeping up with my coupon clipping!  I paid $83 today.  :(  I usually try not to go over $50 each week.  Oh well.  I had some recipes that I am really wanting to try this week, like a BLT Wrap, a Buffalo Chicken Wrap, Beefy-Cheesy Quesadillas, and more.  (Do you notice a pattern?  It's WRAPS WEEK!)

We hit the pool today to try to enjoy it while we still can.  Next weekend is our last chance!  Sniff, sniff... That means that summer is truly ending...

In honor of fall approaching, I made a nice batch of "Easy Chili." This is one of my favorite meals, and I always eat too much! It's so easy to make.

"Easy Chili" Recipe:

1 lb. lean (90% lean or higher) ground beef
2 cans diced tomatoes (I use the Del Monte ones with onion and green pepper added)
2 cans of beans-- choose the ones you like. I used light red kidney beans
2 Tbsp Cumin
1Tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp onion flakes
1/2 bottle of beer (one you like-- I used Corona Light)

(for topping)
reduced fat shredded cheese
light sour cream
pico de gallo
baked tortilla chips
Preparation: Brown the beef and drain fat. Add the dried spices and stir well. Then add the tomatoes, beans, and beer. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Simmer 20-30 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream, cheese, crushed chips, and pico de gallo.

Simmering away...
Finished product... with the fixins..

I also whipped up some homemade ranch dressing.  It will thicken up in the fridge overnight and then tomorrow it will be awesome with my Buffalo Chicken Wraps!  Stay tuned for that recipe tomorrow! 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Small Victories

So, I just haven't been able to post the past couple of days. I got overwhelmed, but now I am back.  This morning I couldn't help myself and I had a Dove Dark Chocolate Promise.  I love these for the candy AND the messages.  Here was mine for today...

So... I am celebrating small victories today. For example, I got up and got myself ready in time to make my favorite breakfast-- a ham and egg sandwich for only 3 points!  See the picture and recipe below...

This recipe is so easy...

1 egg
splash of milk
Arnold Whole-Wheat Sandwich Thins (or other Sandwich thins)
2 slices of deli ham
salt and pepper to taste

Spray a small microwaveable with nonstick spray.  Beat egg, milk, salt, and pepper together in the bowl.  Microwave on high for about 1 minute and 30 seconds (varies, depending on the microwave).  Meanwhile, toast your break.  (If your house is like mine, you probably can't do both at the same time!  :)  Then, slide your egg "round" onto the bread.  Top the egg with the ham slices.  (This tastes really yummy if you add either a slice of low fat cheese or spread a wedge of Laughing Cow Light cheese on the bread.  De-Lish!)

Got to work and had to unload about a million bags to take them to my classroom.  I was grumblingh and complaining about how far I had to walk between my car and my classroom, BUT... as soon as I got done unloading, the sky exploded and down came the rains...

...so that's a small victory I am celebrating. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

You know what they say about assumptions...

So today started off crazy, just like any Monday.  Rush, rush, rush to get out the door!  I was pleasantly surprised when I got in the car that I was actually 5 minutes ahead of schedule!  I silently high-fived myself.  Just as I was about to make the turn to take Sadie to child care, it hit me.  I forgot my lunch.  I had to make the call: go back home and get it and risk being late... OR... leave it on the kitchen counter to spoil and take my chances with the school cafeteria.  I turned around-- caught every red light on the way-- and grabbed the lunch bag off the counter.  Which made me 12 minutes later than normal, but I at least I had a low-points lunch that I wouldn't have to pay extra for.

Breakfast and lunch were nothing exciting.  But I did have a tasty treat after Zumba!  I had to make a run to the grocery store to get milk.  (Chocolate milk is my new obsession.  It's the best post-workout treat! )  So I grabbed the milk, and you know how it's impossible to get just ONE item at the store, so before long I found myself gazing longingly at the ice cream section.  I spotted the Whole Fruit bars.  Thinking, these are so yummy and only 60 calories, I grabbed a box of the coconut flavor.  As soon as I got in the car I opened one.  O.M.G... it was like having a Pina Colada on my drive home.  As I pulled in the driveway, I checked the label and found that NO-- these bars are NOT 60 Calories-- but 140!!!  Turned out to be a 3-point treat instead of a 1-point treat.  Oh well, live and learn.  It was still very refreshing...

Got home and whipped up a fast dinner for the hubby and Sadie: pan-seared garlicky chicken breasts.  I decided to slice mine up into a little southwestern salad.  I just piled some chicken and some of my leftover southwestern veggie salad over a bed of lettuce and voila!  A healthy, tasty, satisfying dinner!

One last pic for the day: I am so excited about the "Extreme Makover" I am doing on my classroom.  I'll post before and after pics soon.  But I will share the quote I painted on my closet doors today... one of my favorites!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dinner: Liz's Creamy, Cheesy, Baked Penne

If the name doesn't entice you, it will definitely excite you to know that this meal cost under $10 to make and has only 4 ingredients! 

12 oz. uncooked whole-grain penne pasta
1 10 3/4 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup (98% fat free)
2 1/2 cups pasta sauce (I used a chunky one with mushrooms)
1 1/2 cups of 2% shredded mozzarella (mine had added calcium)

Directions: Boil noodles until al dente.  Then, in a 13 by 9 inch dish, combine hot noodles with the mushroom soup.  Mix until noodles are coated.  Top with pasta sauce.  Then top with shredded cheese.  Bake 15-20 minutes covered, and then uncover for the last 5-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown on top.  YUMMM!

Here's the "Before Baking Shot"

And here's the "After" shot. 

Gotta go now, time to enjoy diner with my little munchkin and my hubby, who is on his way home.  A nice way to end the weekend.

Oh, and can't forget dessert! Check out these delish fruit bars I found!  Only 60 calories per bar-- 1 POINT!

Looks like a Baked Spaghetti Night!

This is what I call a "Lazy Mom Meal." The great thing is, this recipe only requires these 4 ingredients. But it is such a warm, melty, creamy meal! And better still, it has almost 7 grams of fiber per serving and is low in fat and points! Best of all, it cost me less than $10 to purchase these ingredients! Stay tuned for a picture of the finished project!

Southwestern Summer Salad/Salsa! YUM!

Liz's Southwestern Vegetable Salad
This is one of my favorite recipes!  And it only cost me $3.00 to make it today.  This will be my lunch for at least 3 days-- or I might eat it for snacks!  It's so delish that it won't last long around here.  If you are following Weight Watchers "Simply Filling," it will work for that, too!

Here's the recipe:


1 small to medium avocado, diced

1 can of black beans, drained

1 1/2 to 2 cups frozen (thawed) white corn

1 cup fresh salsa or pico de gallo

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp lime pepper (or regular black pepper will work)

1 tsp Frank's Cayenne Pepper Sauce

Directions: Mix all ingredients together. Serve with pita chips or tortilla chips as a dip. Or, pour over lettuce for a spicy salad! Enjoy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My On-Again Relationship with Weight Watchers

So, over the years, I have had an on-again-off-again relationship with Weight Watchers.  I think I have joined three or four different times.  However, I rejoined "for real" in January of 2009 and vowed that I would make changes!  And I did!  I lost 40 pounds over about a year.  Here's a before and after, just so you can see the difference...

This is before WW...

And this is "After." 

I feel great about my progress so far.  But I really want to lose about 40 more pounds.  It will probably take 50 to make the Weight Watchers recommended goal.  I am just coming off a super-exciting and fun summer where I gained back about 10 pounds.  So it's back to counting points for me!

One thing I really struggle with is finding foods that are:
1.  Easy to prepare
2.  Quick to prepare
3.  Somewhat healthy (i.e. lower in POINTS)
4.  Tasty-- because everyone else in the household has to eat them, too!

As I come across food finds, I will share them here!