Sunday, September 25, 2016

8 Ball Zucchini mini pizza's and egg in a hole

If you've ever been on a low carb diet - you are familiar with the almighty zucchini. This versatile little green vegetable can be used in so many different ways, it's amazing. Zoodles, zucchini fritters, sugar free zucchini chocolate muffins, zucchini hash browns, you name it. A few weeks ago at a local farmers market Bj and I found these odd little round zucchini's. We asked the owner of the stand what they were - and they are a new breed of zucchini from what we were told. Curious, we bought a few to experiment with.

I immediately went home with ideas in mind. Two of my favorite things on the planet. Pizza and Egg in a hole. I knew these little gems would be the perfect substitute for my favorite gluteny treats.

I sliced the zucchini into 1/2" round slices - and seasoned them with salt and pepper. Into the oven they went. 350 degrees, approximately 10 minutes. I took them out of the oven, and with two of the zucchini's I cut round holes in the center to fill with eggs. The rest I topped with a low sugar marinara, and cheese. Back into the oven until the eggs were set.

These turned out beautiful, and they stood up to their toppings. Zucchini is also incredibly low in calorie, and lower in carbs. If you like pizza, or even egg in a hole - you will truly enjoy this simple recipe.

I mean... look at that egg!

And if you're a pizza lover, this should get your motor started!

Needless to say, we keep 8 ball zucchini's on hand, now. In fact, next year I intend on growing my own to ensure we have an ample supply of them on hand at all times!

Sugar free Low Carb Pumpkin Bread

It's that time of the year. Pumpkin. Everything. And, it so happens to be my favorite time of the year. Fall has always had my heart. It's a time for reflection, and comfort, family and friends - and of course - baking. Finding a tried and true "Bread" recipe on this low carb journey I've been on has been a trying venture. This one is too crumbly. This one is too eggy. Well, this recipe here? It's just right. Into this life, a little pumpkin spice must fall.

The thing about this recipe is that I sort of just threw a whole bunch of shit in a bowl, and crossed my fingers that it turned into something edible. To my very pleasant surprise - it did. Possibly the best low carb bread I've had to date (not just because it's my own) but seriously - it tastes like bread. I've found that 90% of the recipes I've had on the LCHF diet is all trial and error. It takes a good amount of risking ingredients to understand how to bake without gluten. It takes patience, which if you know me... I have very little of. I have the attention span of a gnat.

And cutting this bread? Oh lawdy, lawdy. No. Crumbles. At all. One of the things I detest about most gluten free / low carb breads is how grainy and crumbly they are. Like, it just disintegrates right under the knife. This bread though? Like cutting through soft butter. I even cut it while it was still hot (Because I'm impatient) and it still cut beautifully.

What about the texture, right? Does it tastes like you're eating some form of really dry bread crumbs mashed with egg whites? Oh heavens, no. This is soft, and supple, and it holds together as bread should. No eggy taste, no weird dry crusty bits that make you go "wtf was that?".

But enough about all that. You're here for one reason, right? You want the recipe. So, here it is my lovelies. Enjoy!

4 eggs - egg whites separated into one bowl, yolks in another
3 ounce cream cheese
1/4 cup unsweetened organic pumpkin puree
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup swerve (Reserve 2 tbspn for egg whites)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/3 cup oat fiber
1 tbspn psyllium husk powder
1/4 cup almond flour
1 tbspn coconut flour
1/2 cup isopure protein powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp xantham gum

You will need three bowls. 1 for egg whites, 1 for the yolks, and 1 for the dry. You will also need a sifter, whisk, hand beaters, and a spatula.

Into the yolks combine 3 ounces of cream cheese (softened), pumpkin puree, coffee, almond milk, swerve (minus the 2 Tbspn for the egg whites), vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk all these ingredients together. Set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients except the cream of tartar, and sift together. 1/3 at a time add the dry to the yolks and whisk until JUST combined. Do not over mix. Do this until all the dry has been incorporated. Set aside.

To the egg whites, add the cream of tartar and beat with hand beaters, slowly adding the reserved 2 tbsp swerve to them until stiff peaks form.

With a spatula, take 1/3 of the egg whites and gently fold until just incorporated into the yolk batter. Continue this until all the egg whites are incorporated. Again, do not over mix.

Spray a standard side bread pan with coconut oil. Scrape batter into the bread pan. I used glass for this. I do not know what using a silicon or metal bread pan will do to the cook time.

Bake 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes - or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I ended up putting a tinfoil tent on my bread about half way through to ensure it didn't get too brown on top.

I cooled in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing it from the glassware. Store in refrigerator. I enjoyed a slice with a maple walnut cream cheese that I whipped together. I used 2 tbspn whipped cream cheese, 1 tsp sugar free maple syrup, and 2 chopped walnuts mixed together. So delicious.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

New Tattoo - what it means to me

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned here before that I've been planning on a new tattoo. To this point I've only had one tattoo done - it's the bumble bee holding a heart on my wrist. I got this tattoo in 2007 a year before my wedding. It's a representation of my husband BJ - as my nickname for him is Bumblebee. He'll kill me for this but - the full nick name is Bumble Butt Booey Bear. Bumblebee for short. So, the tattoo is of a bumble bee - representing BJ - holding my heart. Awww, I know. So cute.

I put a lot of thought into what I wanted next. I find tattoo's to be beautiful, and an outward expression of our inner self. I didn't just want any tattoo. I wanted something that meant something to me, to inspire me, to lift me up - to remind me of who I am.

I am. Two words that can start the most beautiful sentence, or the most destructive. For many years I put very negative words after "I am"... I am fat. I am selfish. I am worthless. I am stupid. I am ugly. I am unlovable. Such ugly, negative words that were an energy inside my body that kept me from achieving the great things I know that I am capable of. "I am" almost destroyed me.

I still struggle some days with what to put after those two little words. But, I wanted a reminder that it doesn't matter that I'm not perfect - I just need to remember that I am enough. I am enough of love, of compassion, of beauty, of peace, of friendship, and most importantly - I am enough for myself. My self worth is not reliant on the approval of anyone. I am enough. Period.

I wanted more than just the words to be inked on my body. I wanted what they represent to me. I am enough is my freedom from my past. It's transcending the hurtful thoughts and emotions that overpowered my self esteem for 30 some years. What is more free than a bird? So, to go with my words, I chose a feather. This symbol is not just about the freedom I've found from making peace with my past - but the courage and strength that it took to do so.

I have learned through everything I've been doing this past year and a half is that I am anything but weak. I am stubborn, and resilient, and confident, and powerful. I am determined, and I will not give up on myself. I already know that I will not be perfect, and will fall at times - but I am capable of achieving my goals. I am. The two most powerful words you could ever start a sentence with.

These past few weeks Bj and I have continued with our Low Carb cooking, working out at Planet Armstrong - but, I know I've not been following as strictly as I should be. I do believe that the sugar substitutes can cause stalls, and sometimes even gains. With the fall upon us, my favorite thing about fall is anything pumpkin related - and of course - baking. So, there has been a lot of baking going on in my house, which is fine - but we've over done it the past few weeks, and I ended up gaining about 5 lbs. Now, Bj is under some delusion that it's me building muscle - but I've been more focused on cardio the past few weeks (especially since I have a new toy - my gazelle! yay!) and not so much on weight training. I need to back off the sugar substitutes and focus more on eating lean proteins, with the addition of high fat healthy foods such as butter, avocados, bacon, etc, dark leafy greens and vegetables.

My new toy. It was free, too. Love it!

So, to motivate us into working out - my brother in law Don (from DD Decals - look him up on facebook!) made us this awesome wall decal to put in our gym area. I love it. It makes me want to put in 100%. It reminds me of what I'm achieving every single day.

So, those are my updates for now. New tattoo, gained a few pounds, got a free workout machine, reconstituted motivation for working out, got a game plan to get back on track. Until the next time - be kind to yourself, to others, and keep moving forward. Peace out!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Getting out of my own way

This was posted on one of my introvert forums tonight, but it applied to me more from a health standpoint than an introvert one. I got into my own head last night. I wasn't in a good place. I WAS in a good place, then I set up the phone to take a video so Bj could see his kick form, and of course I was in the video. And I felt so disgusted with myself. I actually got a physical sickness type reaction that made me want to quit. And that old voice came back telling me I was disgusting, that I wasn't making any progress, that I should just give up.

I HATED what I saw in that video. I saw flabby arms that I am ALWAYS covering because I'm ashamed of them. I saw a fat face, and fat legs. I saw all the things that voice wanted me to see because that voice doesn't want me to succeed. Last night, it won. I was half assed with my work out. I had no desire to do anything but go to bed and sleep (Which didn't happen, either, btw).

That one video derailed me for a good 24 hours. I can't say, honestly, that I'm totally out of that head space - but it's better than it was last night. I am my own obstacle. My head is. I see the things that I want to see, depending on the mood I'm in. And that is so self sabotaging. It was one video, at a really bad angle (videoing from below us) and I made it out to be a bigger deal than it really was. Last night I wanted to quit. Last night... I wanted nothing more than to say fuck all this shit, I'm just destined to be fat forever.

Today, I'm fighting that voice, and those thoughts - because I still believe I'm worth the work it will take to get completely healthy. Every day is a battle - and every day I learn something new about myself, and about my goals. Today my goal is simply not to quit.

I can't stress enough how much of this journey is mental. It's not just about the food, the eating habits, the exercise. So much of this is getting right with yourself. Not believing in yourself is the #1 reason we fail. Telling ourselves that we can't do it, that it can't be done. This is why we fail. Changing your attitude about yourself, about your weaknesses, your strengths, your dreams, your goals... that is the most key point to all of this. Without a positive attitude - NOTHING will change. NOTHING will get better. I would know - I've been living it! Every single day for 90% of my life - I've been LIVING it. I've WANTED to change. I've WANTED to lose weight. But I didn't want to change my attitude. And it went on for so long, that I started believing the lies I would tell myself. That I wasn't good enough. That I wasn't strong enough. That I didn't deserve to be happy.

Last night was both a good reminder of how much work I still need to do, but also a testament to how strong I really am. Did I go binge eat the entire kitchen? No. Did I give up? No. I put a work out in tonight. I was enthusiastic about it. I wanted to do it. I didn't just want to get it over with. I was in the moment, and you know what - it felt good. Were my flabby arms flapping about? You betcha! Was my fat jiggling around like a water wave? Yep, it sure was. And you know what? Who. The. Fuck. Cares. Unless you're here to help motivate me - your opinion of my flab is meaningless to me. Unless you are here to put in the work, too, your comments about my body are void. The only thing I have room for in my life are people who lift others up, and people who motivate me and challenge me to better myself.

Not every day is going to be a good day, I realize that. Does it get frustrating? Of course it does. Seriously, right now, I just want to cry. Not because I'm in a really bad head space right now - but because I didn't fully grieve last night the feelings I had about myself. But, I know that tomorrow the sun is going to rise, and it's another chance to do better than yesterday. Tomorrow is another gift to push myself further, another step closer to my goal.

I'm no longer fixated on a number, or a size, or skin removal surgery - which were things that I (Secretly) still had jogging around in my brain as important. But they're not. The only thing that is important is that I'm healthy, I'm happy, that I'm helping others, that I'm being positive, and that I don't give up. The rest will fall into place when it's time.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Poached eggs atop sauteed leeks, baby bella mushrooms, and zucchini - Plus, updates!!!

With my new found refocus on my weight loss goals - my inspiration in the kitchen has also come back full force, which I am grateful for, as it's been a while. Bj and I have been continuing on our low carb path - and this past week I lost another 6.6 lbs. I am officially 109 lbs down from my starting highest weight.

This past week I have absolutely been ** killing it ** at Plant Armstrong (home gym). I've been doing a mix of kick boxing, weight training, cardio/aerobic. I really like the kick boxing the best. There is something really satisfying about punching the strike bag and kicking the crap out of the pads Bj holds for me to practice with. The best part is - I WANT TO work out. I look forward to it. I look forward to feeling how hard my heart is pumping that I can HEAR IT in my ears. I look forward to the sweat, and the heat, and the static energy in my veins. And, yes, I'll admit it... I've turned into quite the self absorbed self loving narcissist. I am fascinated in the ways my body and face are changing. And, while I may be a good stones throw from my end goal - I love how I'm looking. I feel that I LOOK healthier. And happier.

I never in a million years ever thought I'd be ok with having my picture taken during a work out - let alone posting them on line. But, I'm proud of these. They are progress. They are proof that I'm keeping to my word, and I'm following through on the promises I'm making to myself. So what if my hair is messy and I have fat arms? Who gives a shit? I'm a work in progress.

During the times that I'm not absolutely rocking it in my jammies and home gym - Bj and I have been cooking deliciousness squared. The exercise we do means absolutely NOTHING if the food we put in our mouths is garbage. We make sure to spend a good amount of time being picky about what we make. Tonight, I have to say, was some of the best food I've ever tasted. Not just because I made it - but because the simple ingredients are what truly make a dish.

Poached eggs atop sautéed Leeks, Portabella mushrooms, and Zucchini

1 large leek - out leaves removed, tops removed, and the roots removed. Keep just the white bulb just into the green part of the leaves. I sliced the leeks into rounds, then cut in half to make half moons. Separate and soak the chopped leeks in a bowl of water. Leeks grow in very sandy dirt, and grit will get in between the rings. You will want the dirt to settle to the bottom of the water bowl, and with a slotted spoon, remove the leeks and dry on a paper towel. Use about 1/2 cup for this recipe. Save the rest for another dish.

3 Baby portabella mushrooms - chopped into bite size pieces

1 small zucchini - chopped into bite size pieces

In a sautee pan, spray with coconut oil - and sautee veg until the leeks take on a nice caramelized flavor, the bellas have shrunk down in size, and the zucchini is fork tender. Be sure to season with salt, pepper, and parsley.

While the veg is sautéing, bring water to a boil in a small sauce pan. GENTLY place two eggs in the boiling water, making sure to not move the eggs around to cause the whites to separate. Let them sit, and turn the heat down to low. Gently spoon water over the tops of the eggs to ensure they cook properly all the way around. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the whites are no longer jiggly.

With a slotted spoon, remove the poached eggs and allow them to strain on a paper towel. Plate the vegetables, and top with your two poached eggs. Sprinkle with additional salt, pepper, and parsley.

I like my yolks to still be soft... so that it creates a sauce over the vegetables. This dish is creamy, rich, and comforting.

Eating these real, whole foods makes me feel better... and I don't have any guilt after I'm done. I don't think to myself "I just ate such and such, and now I have to work out twice as hard because of it". Make what you put in your body work for you and your goals. Make it delicious, make it fun, and make it healthy. Healthy doesn't mean flavorless and boring. Be creative in the kitchen, and just have fun. You'll be surprised at what you can come up with.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

What a difference a year and 4 months can make

I don't really take many "progressive pictures". But tonight I was going through old photos of when my husband and I started our journey and I can't believe how different I look from when we first started a year and 4 months ago to now. I still have a ton of weight to lose... but that's ok. The scale is going in the right direction - even if it is slow. I'll take what I can get.

Having PCOS has caused a lot of road blocks and plateaus, but I haven't allowed that to completely derail where I'm going, and what my end goal is. So, here is a "before" or starting picture - a "Sweaty selfie" we took on one of our work out walks - the other picture is from a couple days ago.

I feel like I'm not even the same person as the old picture anymore. I'm someone that is more confident, happier, healthier, and much more positive. The changes weren't just the food addiction and making healthier choices - but it has also been an exhaustingly mental, emotional, and spiritual journey for me as well.

I'm 36 years old, and for the first time in my life I finally like "me". Not just the physical me - but the person I'm becoming by adapting a healthier life style. In the beginning, it wasn't easy. I wasn't always nice to myself. I was critical and worried (constantly) about making the wrong choices. I'd sometimes get into my own head, and I'd derail myself from making progress. It wasn't until I stopped (mostly) caring about the scale that I started to see movement again.

Getting healthy has to be a personal choice that you make for yourself. You can't do this for someone else. Not your family, your husband, or even your kids. You have to love yourself enough to say your life is worth more to you than that donut, or cheese burger, or that addiction. You have to WANT to be healthy. You have to want to live.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you I've been a perfect Angel for the past year and a half. I haven't been. I've had temper tantrums and ate my donut out of spite for myself. There were days that I wanted to say "fuck it" and throw in the towel. You know what haunts me, though?

That burning, searing pain in my leg that prevented me from walking. The idea of leaving my husband, my family, and my friends behind in my wake if I were to die because of my poor choices. The thought that I will some day become a burden to a care taker who won't be able to move me because of my size. Those things strike fear in my heart like you can not even begin to imagine.

But I'm worth enough to myself to want to be healthy. To WANT to live. Because what I was doing for 35 years before all this wasn't living. I existed. I was miserable, and cranky, and had nothing to look forward to in my life. Now, I have goals, and dreams, and I want to see the world. You can't do that (Easily) as an obese person.

Anyway, I'm sorry I'm long winded. If you're ever in a place where you think you're not getting anywhere - KEEP PUSHING. The scale doesn't dictate your life, who you are, or where you're going. It's just a measure of mass - but it can't measure your heart. Keep fighting - you're worth it - and I can finally say with full confidence - I believe this to be true for myself, too!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Poached egg and Artichoke salad

Poached eggs has to be my second favorite way to have eggs - my first being fried over medium. Poached eggs, when done correctly, are positively divine. I find bringing salted water to a boil, with a splash of vinegar helps to prevent the egg white from separating from the yolk in the cooking process. I also swirl a large spoon to make a whirl pool in the boiling water before (Gently) dropping an egg in the water. Continue to swirl the water to keep the egg whites nicely tight together. Once the whites are set, strain the eggs on a paper towel.

To assemble I used a small jar of marinated artichoke hearts, sliced cherry tomatoes, and two pieces of crumbled bacon. Low carb, low calorie, fully satisfying meal for brunch.