Resolve to Try Again

Who says resolutions belong exclusively to the new year?  I think I resolve to do something every few days to be perfectly honest.  Every day is a fresh start to me, a new opportunity to make myself better, fix something that's not working, change an attitude that's doing me a dis-service.  So it is in my relationship with food.  Ever changing, always being fixed, refined, tuned up.

As a nearly 20 year veteran of media, my work is insanely demanding on the best of days.  Fold into that running my home and taking care of my wonderful children, and thoughts of taking care of myself are usually the first thing to make the cut.  Shamefully bad decision on my part, especially now that I'm a single, working mom.  

Despite working out regularly, taking the stairs where I can, walking instead of riding where I can, etc., etc., etc. - all the stuff I point to in my blogs, food is always where I find the greatest difficulty.  And did I mention I have chronic fatigue?  It only gets better!  With all these demands in my life, and knowing that I have thyroid and potentially adrenal problems, you'd think I'd try a little harder, but I find it easy to neglect myself.  Which is why on the rare occasion I get sick, it's of epic proportion.  Rewind back to my 43rd birthday this year when I was deliriously sick for 2 days with a fever and a sore throat that felt as though I swallowed Draino.

What's the answer?  Planning.  It always comes back to planning for me, which is why I stopped off at the grocery store on the way home from the dojo tonight to pick up some fresh produce.  What for?  Well, I invested some time in myself this evening, and cooked up enough lunches for the week, and bagged up portions of cereal, veggies and fruit to take me through the end of the week.  If I plan ahead, take my vitamins (which I did tonight!), eat nutritionally balanced meals, I know I'll feel better, shake my brain fog and tame the crankiness that everyone around me is suffering because I'm not taking care of myself.  How much time and effort did I invest?  An hour, if that.  That's all it took to make a batch of lunches for the week.  What did I make?

  1. Breakfast - Raisin bran with fresh blueberries and goji berries - approximately 250 calories in total.  Bagging up a cup of raisin bran, a 1/4 cup of blueberries, and 2 tbl of goji berries will give me fiber to keep me full & regular, and plenty of antioxidants!
  2. Lunch - Brown Rice & Squash - I like to think of this as my "idiot's delight" since it's so easy to make! Check out my recipe below.  It's not pretty, but it packs a great nutritional punch in the combination of everything.
  3. Snacks - Fresh Veggies - As I sliced up my squash, I saved a few extras, along with the excess mushrooms, some grape tomatoes and fresh carrots with a tablespoon of hummus for dipping.  Yum!
  4. Dinner - Usually planned out ahead of time with my kids.  I "back fill" the meals for the rest of the day based on what I have going on for dinner.  

Shaking my nutritional neglect and taking control of my meals will definitely help me to feel better, clear my fog and hopefully make me a bit more pleasant to be around!  There's always an opportunity to make another attempt, our bodies are more forgiving and will fix and repair if given the chance.  Putting some efffort into planning my meals can only make me feel better and make my body function better.  An investment in time and effort with great dividends!  

Here's my own "idiot's delight" recipe (so named since it's simple enough for an idiot like me!) if you're interested in giving it a try.  Not pretty, but packed with fiber & nutrients!

Lisa's Idiot's Delight

  • 1 Cup Brown Rice
  • 1 Yellow Summer Squash
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 Chopped White Onion
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 2 Cups Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup Seedless Raisins
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Salt
  • 2 Tsp Dried Parsley
  1. Cook or steam brown rice according to instructions.
  2. Slice & quarter squash & zucchini, along with onion and bell pepper.  Place into a pot with about 1/4" boiling water and "sweat" the vegetables down for about 15 minutes before adding in the sliced mushrooms and raisins, add in garlic salt and parsley and cook for about 15 more minutes.
  3. After the brown rice and vegetables are finished cooking, mix together in a large bowl, and voila!  You have a healthy & nutritious meal with only 133 calories per serving




Hi-Ho Cherries!

For whatever reason, I've had a massive craving for cherries this summer.  It's a wonder my skin hasn't developed a cherry colored blush as a result.  Cherries are another fruit (of many in my own person experience) that just don't get enough play.  They're sweet, tart and tasty, and pack a really great nutritional punch.  For such a small fruit, they really are incredibly beneficial to our bodies.

Densely packed with antioxidents, I was amazed to discover all the health benefits of this fruit.  So, I ran out to grab a half pound of cherries, and sat myself down to extoll their virtues!  According to medical research cherries are one of the best multi-taskers of the fruit world.  They ease the aches and pains of arthritis and gout, as well as reduce risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.  Because of their high levels of melatonin, they aid in regulating the body's regular sleep patterns, aid with memory loss and ease jet lag!  (hmmmmn, I wonder if they could do all this and pick up after my kids?)

But wait, there's more!  For those of us on the weight loss track, a diet that incorporates cherries may serve to lower total body weight, and could help to reduce that pesky weight around our mid sections (yeah, that one stopped me in my tracks too!).  According to the American Heart Association, cherries reduce inflammation and cholesterol, factors directly linked to heart disease.  One to two servings of cherries daily is all it takes to reap their benefits.  And if you're looking for a way to incorporate fiber into your day, look no further.  Cherries are an excellent source of dietary fiber.  How much is a serving?

  1. 1/2 Cup of dried cherries
  2. 1 Cup of frozen cherries
  3. 1 Cup of cherry juice
  4. 1 oz (or 2 tbsp) cherry concentrate

Before the summer's over, go red and grab some cherries while they're in season.  They're not just for pies anymore!  Here are some nutritional facts on cherries:

  • 1/2 cup Sweet Cherries provides: 46 calories, 0.7 g protein, 0.1 g fat, 9.3 g sugar, 1.5 g fiber
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cherries provides: 39 calories, 0.8 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 6.6 g sugar, 1.2 g fiber
  • 1/4 cup Dried Cherries provides: 136 calories, 1 g protein, 0 g fat, 27 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 30% DV vitamin A.
  • 1 Maraschino Cherry, canned, drained provides: 8 calories, 0 g protein, 0 g fat, 2 g sugar, 0.2 g fiber
  • 1/2 cup Ontario Red Tart Chilled and Pitted Cherries provides: 63 calories, 0.7 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 15.7 g carbohydrates, 0.8 g dietary fiber.

A Dieter's Muffin

Coming back after a long holiday weekend is always a drag - and I mean that more than metaphorically speaking.  I'm usually a bit more tired after all the running around associated with my rest & relaxation!  Which is why when Taste of Home Magazine posted this recipe, I jumped on it.  First of all, a friend of mine once caught a quote that "if it weren't for the 'word' muffin, I'd be eating cake for breakfast."  Let's be honest, isn't a muffin really a topless cupcake?  (topless meaning, no icing)

Here's a muffin recipe you can feel good about.  The calories are really low at 203, and there's lots of nutritional value that won't make your blood sugar soar.  I'll be making up a batch of these for myself!

Wheat Germ Streusel Banana Muffins


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce


  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts


  • In a large bowl, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat the bananas, egg, oil and applesauce until well blended. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  • Coat muffin cups with cooking spray or use paper liners; fill two-thirds full with batter. For streusel, combine the brown sugar, wheat germ and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in walnuts. Sprinkle over batter.
  • Bake at 375° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 10 muffins.

Nutrition Facts: 1 muffin equals 203 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 24 mg cholesterol, 242 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein. 

Moments of Diet Insanity

Anyone with an inclination to slim down passes through at least one moment of weakness.  30 lbs later, and I'm no more immune to them then anyone else.  Those knee quivering moments when that bag of M&Ms suddenly seems the just reward for all the progress and self controlled we've exercised.  In reality, it's clutter we're sticking under our skin ultimately.  When you consume foods with little to no nutritional value, there's very little for your body to do, other than convert it into stored fat.  For me, it was stuffing the upholstering I wore all over my body - I looked like an over-stuffed couch at the worst end of it.

Here are the top 5 moments of my own diet insanity ....

  1. Zombie eating - It's come in all shapes and sizes for me.  I could clear out a pint of ice cream before you could say Haagen Dazs!  And plop me in front of the TV with a bag of M&Ms, and in a few short moments, I'll be looking around for what happened to all the M&Ms.  
    SOLUTION:  Portion control and sticking to it!
  2. Grazing - This usually strikes at parties, holidays and family get togethers.  We're such a food centered culture in the US, everything is an occasion for eating.  Calories in all these cute little finger foods accumulates quickly, so best watch out!
    SOLUTION:  Grab a reasonable bite to eat before you head into the land of the food pushers!  Having something like an apple or small salad before you head out will give you the strength to resist.  And if you do feel compelled to eat, stick with raw fruits and veggies if at all possible - be a good guest and bring a plate of your own to share!
  3. Eating Sprawl - This is something that I fall head over heels into if I don't plan out my week's meals.  Sprawl occurs when I'm not paying attention to what I've eaten through the course of the day.  Unplanned meals wreak havoc on my waistline!
    SOLUTION:  Planning ahead for my daily eating - and I work backward from dinner, when I eat with my children.  After I figure out what's for dinner, calculate out the calorie potential, I can figure out what I can afford to eat the rest of the day.
  4. Workout Denial - Now this may sound funny, but stick with me on this.  When the number of calories I consume is in excess of what I can realistically burn off in activity.  It's a matter of unbalanced logic - "wow, I've run up 50 steps, that means I can eat "x."  Inevitably, my eyes are bigger then then my calorie burn.
    SOLUTION:  Being more reasonable about what I can realistically burn off compared to what I've eaten during the day.  A good way to keep this in check is my "Losin' It" application on my iTouch.
  5. High & Dry:  I have a big problem staying hydrated through the day.  Yes, I pontificate about the virtues of drinking water, when I could be doing so much better about it myself.  Water is so important to many metabolic processes, I'm short changing myself by not drinking nearly enough.
    SOLUTION:  Keep it coming!  I have an application on my iTouch called "8 Glasses" that is a fun way to track how many glasses I've downed through the day.  

At the end of the day, dieting is really behavior modification.  Exchanging one set of behaviors for another.  Now, any way you look at it, change is a difficult proposition.  But take a moment to close your eyes, and think a moment about this.  Isn't it worth a little bit of effort to make changes over the short term, to improve your quality of living across the rest of your lifetime?  Now there's some food for thought! 

More Parfait!

Donkey in Shrek had it right, parfaits are just about the world's most perfect food.  Well, in my point of view anyway!  Here are a few delightful parfait recipes I picked up from First Magazine recently.  They're quick to make, and light on the calories.  These are a perfect breakfast or lunch on the weekend when you're dashing about.

Peachy-Keen Sunrise
(Makes 4 Servings)

  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) sliced peaches in light syrup
  • 2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup thawed frozen whipped topping
  • 1 tsp chopped crystallized ginger
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Drain peaches in colander, but reserve 2 tbs. of the syrup.  In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, whipped topping, ginger, cinnamon and your reserved syrup.  Thinly slice 1/2 cup peach slices, set aside.  In food processor pulse remaining peach slices 3 times, or until finely chopped; divide evenly among 4 parfait glasses.  Divide yogurt-connamon mixture evenly among glasses and top with thinly sliced peaches.  Garnish with fresh mint if you like.

Per serving:  216 Calories, 5g protein, 39g Carb; 2g Fiber; 5mg Chol., 79 mg. Sodium;  4g Total Fat, 4g Sat. Fat; 0g Trans Fat

Bonus:  Ginger helps alleviate heartburn, and can calm the intensity of acid reflux by up to 40%

Razzmatazz Raspberry Mousse
(Makes 4 Servings)

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, divided
  • 2 containers (8 oz. each) nonfat raspberry yogurt
  • 2 oz. low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbs. granola

In food processor, puree 1 cup berries and yogurt 1 minute.  Divide yogurt mixture evenly among 4 parfait glasses.  In bowl, combine next 3 ingredients; divide evenly among glasses.  Top with remaining berries, honey and granola.

Per serving:  221 Calories; 5g Protein; 40g Carb; 3g Fiber; 4 mg. Chol.; 75mg sodium, 5g Total Fat, 4g Sat. Fat; 0g Trans Fat

Bonus:  Raspberries may aid in reducing sun-induced age spots & freckles

Cool & Slim

How can you keep your cool and your waistline at the same time when the summer sun cranks up the heat?  Here's a few ideas from Medicinenet to stay cool yet slim during this summer.  According to their suggestions, if you allot yourself a treat of 100-150 calories (keep an eye on those calorie counts!), you're more likely to strengthen your resistance against the higher stake goodies out there.  Here are some quick ideas to keep you cool in the summer heat...

Frozen unsweetened fruits: Blueberries, grapes, strawberries, and raspberries are great by themselves or topped with a little low-fat yogurt.

Homemade fruit and cream pops: Fill small, Dixie-style, cups or a Popsicle mold with a blend of fruit and low-fat vanilla yogurt.

Banana chips: Slice and freeze bananas, 12 slices to a bag, to enjoy a cold, creamy treat.

Chilly chocolate chips: A tablespoon of chocolate chips has about 70 calories and offers a cool, quick chocolate fix.

Cold S'mores cups: Place a graham cracker, one large marshmallow, and a few chocolate chips in a small cup and microwave for a few seconds, then freeze.

Diet-friendly floats: Mix a scoop of low-fat vanilla ice cream with diet root beer for a root beer float.

Coffee Coolers: Blend ice with coffee, cocoa, and low-calorie sweetener to taste for a 15- rather than 500-calorie coffeehouse-style cooler. 

Chicken Enchiladas with Kid Appeal

Kids can present a unique challenge when it comes to weight loss.  While it's easy to deny yourself, change what you're eating, how do you continue to feed your family while you go through your own transition?  It can be tough, especially if you have picky eaters like my two little guys!  Generally, when I look for something to cook for my kids, I know what the deal breakers are.  Here's a good compromise.  If you pick up some cooked chicken from Perdue at your supermarket, this recipe can be made really quickly and easily.  


Speedy Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 enchiladas, 1 tablespoon sour cream, and 1 tablespoon cilantro)


  • Cooking spray
  • 1  cup  prechopped white onion
  • 1  cup  prechopped bell pepper
  • 1  (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
  • 2  cups  chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) preshredded, reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 8  (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1/4  cup  fat-free sour cream
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro


Preheat broiler.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and pepper; sauté 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add enchilada sauce; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

Combine chicken, 3/4 cup of cheese, and cumin, tossing well.

Wrap tortillas in paper towels; microwave at high 30 seconds or until warm. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up. Place tortillas, seam sides down, in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour sauce mixture over enchiladas; broil 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese evenly over enchiladas, and broil for 1 minute or until cheese melts. Serve with sour cream and cilantro. 

Lite & Lemony Cake

My five year old is just about to graduate from Pre-K, and this is the cake I'm planning to bake for the celebration in her honor.  Another winner from Taste of home magazine.  Light and luscious, this cake has only 161 calories per serving!

Light Lemon Cake


  • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant lemon pudding mix
  • 1-3/4 cups water
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup cold fat-free milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 package (1 ounce) instant sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 carton (8 ounces) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed


In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, lemon pudding mix, water and egg whites. Beat on low spread for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.

Pour into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 23-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the milk, pudding mix and vanilla for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in whipped topping. Spread over cake. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 20 servings.

 Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 piece) equals 161 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), trace cholesterol, 289 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein. 

Load Up on Strawberries!

There's nothing better than the summer time to me. Of course, I've spent the last six months panicking over my weight relative to the looming prospect of wearing a bathing suit. Well, now that the sun has emerged and melted offf all the ice and snow from a rather harrowing winter, I can't help but smile as the sun shines down on me.

Summer is a great time of the year for foodies - especially those of us who are particular about what is going in ultimately against our waistlines! Fresh summer fruit and produce beckons. It's a great time for berries in particular. If you check out my blog this week you'll find a tasty recipe for strawberry salad. As a matter of fact, my kids and I had a 4 lb. haul of strawberries from a pick it yourself farm in Wayne, NJ. With temperatures in the mid 80's and a nice breeze cutting across the field, we couldn't have a better day! Not to mention all the delicious strawberries we brought home!  And at 49 calories per cup, strawberries make for a tasty summer indulgence!  AND, besides a naturally low calorie content, strawberries are a great source of Vitamin C, a good dose of the oh-so-important dietary fiber, and a satisfying burst of sweetness.
And the best part about upping your consumption of summer fruits and vegetables is that it really does very little to your calorie count. If you check out the Weight Watchers points system, you'll see that many vegetables have very low point counts. Best of all, they're a great way to fill full - it's easy to get away with eating a larger quantity of fruits and veggies, without sending your calorie counts off the charts. Not to mention, all the good you're doing your body in terms of fiber, hydration and nutrition.

My thought for this week? Get thee to a farm market for some fresh produce this summer season!

Strawberry Salad Forever

Strawberry season is about to kick off with the beginning of June, so here's a recipe to take advantage of this wonderfully sweet and delicious fruit!  Taste of Home magazine has plenty of really great, low calorie recipes that are bursting with flavor.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Romaine Salad


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 bunch romaine, torn
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups halved fresh strawberries


  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds


In a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat, cook and stir the sugar until melted and caramel in color, about 10 minutes. Stir in almonds until coated. Spread on foil to cool; break into small pieces.

In a large bowl, combine the romaine, onion and strawberries. Combine the dressing ingredients; drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with coated almonds. Yield: 10 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 3/4 cup equals 112 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 2 mg cholesterol, 35 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1 fat, 1/2 starch.