South Beach Diet ~ Here we go Again!

Good day, dear readers!

weight-loss-cartoonWell as we all know, a new year usually signals the time to get back to proper eating and for me, it’s no different.  As many of you know, I’m an avid follower of the South Beach Diet (SBD) and am the first one to promote its wonderful, healthy way of eating, but over the past few months several months year an a half, I’ve completely slipped off the wagon as if it were covered in grease.

When I was following it back in 2010, I managed to lose 28lbs.  I felt great, I dropped 3 sizes, I had more energy, my clothes weren’t tight and it wasn’t a struggle to bend over and tie my sneakers!  I hit a plateau in my weight…something I’m sure all of us who have ever dieted before knows all too well about.  After a while I slowly started to eat things I shouldn’t have and the weight has slowly crept back on to me and I managed to gain back 20 lbs….sigh.

DietscaleMost of last year I kept telling myself that I needed to get back to proper eating (I never refer to it as going on a ‘diet’) and would always say I would start on Monday.  Obviously, that never happened as Monday would roll around and I’d be repeating the same mantra again.  Each time I stepped on the scale; maybe once a month or so, my weight would increase by a pound or more.  Sometimes it would actually stay the same and I would be quite thankful.

As the recent holidays approached, I started psyching myself up that I was going back to SBD after the new year and I have kept that promise to myself.  I didn’t start exactly on Jan 1, but on Jan 5 as I wanted to make sure I had all the proper foods in the house and also to get rid of all the junk such as all the crackers, cheese, canapes and especially the chocolate.

In the past two weeks, I’ve lost nearly 5lbs. and even though it’s a slow start, at least the numbers on the scale are going down and not up!

Many of us try to lose weight in the new year, and even though I’m sure you’ve heard most of the following before, it’s always good to get a refresher as it becomes engrained in our brains and hopefully stays there!  Breaking old eating habits can be tough, but here’s a few tips to help you on the way and hopefully keep your (and my) motivation high…

* Get rid of everything that will tempt you into unhealthy eating.  This includes cakes, cookies/biscuits, pies, chips/crisps, chocolates, candies, sweets and any other junk food you might have sitting around.

*Have some healthy snacks handy.  An apple with a small amount of sugar-free peanut butter or low-fat cheese, some wholegrain crackers with low-fat cheese, a few spoonfuls of fat-free Greek yogurt with some berries and artificial sweetener.  Celery sticks with a small amount of low fat cream cheese.  A small handful of nuts; almonds and walnuts are great choices.  You get the idea.

*Try to find a friend who also wants to lose weight and you can do it together.  Going along with a friend will help you achieve your goal as you are there to push each other along.

*Start an exercise program if you haven’t already.  You don’t need to spend hours (or money!) at the gym.  Put on a pair of walking shoes and head outside.  Start slow if you’re not used to doing a great deal of walking.  Even 10-15 minutes of walking is better than sitting down in front of the TV.  Get yourself a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day and work your way up to that.  A 10-minute walk is around 1,000 steps. Remember, the more you move, the more calories you burn.  You need to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of weight.

*Be realistic.  Keep your ultimate goal at the back of your mind, but focus on the small bites that will help you get there, such as a certain amount of weight to lose each week.

*Keep focused and motivated by reminding yourself why you want to lose weight.  Whether it’s for health reasons or to fit into your wedding gown or swim suit this Summer, it’s easier to do something when you’re clear about why you’re doing it.

sugar1*Lower your sugar intake.  Many foods have hidden sugar such as ketchup, peanut butter, canned soup, bread and salad dressings.  Try to avoid ‘light’ products such as mayonnaise as they compensate for the lower fat by adding more sugar. Too much sugar can play havoc with your blood glucose levels and increase your risk for diabetes. It may also cause obesity, and increase your risk for high cholesterol and heart disease. It has even been linked to cancer.

*Avoid white foods: potatoes, rice, pasta and bread.  A sweet potato is actually better than a white potato, swap white rice for brown or wild rice and go for whole wheat pasta and whole grain breads.  They all provide more fiber which is digested more slowly and doesn’t give you that sharp spike in glucose levels which leaves you feeling hungry.  You can also replace rice with grains such as whole wheat couscous, bulgar wheat, quinoa or barley.  Oats are a great way to start your day, but avoid the instant oats.

*Try to limit your eating of the starchy vegetables such as green peas, parsnips, beets, corn, pumpkin, turnips and carrots as these all contain a higher level of carbohydrates than other veggies.

*You should also limit yourself on the following fruit for the same reason as the starchy veggies: canned fruit, all fruit juice, raisins, pineapple and watermelon.

So there you go.  There are so many more ideas and thoughts that go along with all of this, but I figured this is enough for now.

Maybe it’s time to go build a snowman….

♥  Terri  ♥

Oat, Millet and Nut Bars

A while back, I did a post on Quinoa and thought that I would do another one on a different grain; Millet.

Although millet is most often associated as the main ingredient in bird seed, it is not just “for the birds.” Creamy like mashed potatoes or fluffy like rice, millet is a delicious grain that can accompany many types of food. As with most grains, millet is available in markets throughout the year.

Millet is tiny in size and round in shape and can be white, gray, yellow or red. The most widely available form of millet found in stores is the hulled variety, although traditional couscous made from cracked millet can also be found. The term millet refers to a variety of grains, some of which do not belong to the same genus. – http://www.whfoods.org

I do make millet rather often and usually use it in place of rice or potatoes.  I simply just boil it up for about 30 minutes and add a bit of salt and olive oil or a small bit of butter and eat it that way…but I was looking for something different to do with it.

Rather than make them into a porridge-like breakfast cereal, I was looking to make them into bars, something like a granola bar or a flapjack.  Some recipes I came across used puffed millet.  I inquired about trying to make them puffy at home, but from what I read, that’s nearly impossible as a high pressure system is used which could not be replicated at home.  I also read that eating grains in their ‘puffed’ form reduces their nutrition value and also really isn’t that good for you due to the chemicals used to puff them up.

I did some searching and came across a couple of recipes for millet bars and decided to combine some ingredients from each to make up my own bars.  I will say that most bars of this nature do call for some fat (butter) and sweetener (agave nectar, brown sugar, maple syrup) although it doesn’t appear to be a great deal of either.  I will also say that at the moment I’m typing this, I haven’t yet made the bars, although by the time you get to the bottom of this post, I will have done so.  I started typing this last night, just to get a bit of a head start considering all these words were in my head at the time and didn’t want to lose them, especially since I knew I was about to have either a glass of wine (or two) or a martini!

So until tomorrow….

************************

Well here we are again (in case you’re wondering…martini) and the millet bars have been made, although they didn’t quite come out as I hoped.  They taste OK, they just didn’t stay together like they should, so they’re in chunks rather than bars.  I’m not sure why that is, perhaps I need to add a bit more liquid stuff or less dry stuff.  (side note:  I’m a day late in posting so these were actually made yesterday – today they’re a bit more set and held together and they taste pretty good!)

If you’d like to try your hand at these, please do.

*For the wheat bran/oat bran/wheat germ, I used a mixture of wheat bran and oat bran.  I didn’t have any wheat germ, but I saw recipes that called for it, so am including it here.  Use any mix of them you wish, or just use one or two of them – the choice is yours!

~~OAT, MILLET AND NUT BARS~~

DRY INGREDIENTS

1 C rolled oats (not instant)

3/4 C millet seeds

1/2 C wheat bran/oat bran/wheat germ*

1 C nuts, chopped (any combo of what you like – I used pecans, walnuts and almonds)

1/2 C seeds (again, any combo – I used sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, linseed/flax and hemp)

WET INGREDIENTS

1/2 C dates, chopped

1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp natural peanut butter (no sugar added)

2 Tbsp agave nectar

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.  Grease a 9″ X 13″ baking dish or line with parchment paper and set aside.

Put all the dry ingredients onto a dry baking sheet and stir around with your fingers.  Place in oven and toast for 15 minutes.

While this is in the oven, combine the wet ingredients and the salt in a sauce pan large enough to hold all the nuts/grains. Heat gently and stir until warm and dissolved.  Do not let it boil or it will start to burn. (do as I say, not as I did!)

Remove the nuts/grains from oven and turn temperature down to 150C/300F.  Add the grains to the saucepan and stir to combine.

Pour into prepared baking dish and with wet fingers, press mixture down and flatten.  Be careful as the mixture will be quite warm.  If it’s too hot for you, use a pallet knife dipped in water.

Bake for 25 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan.  Cut them when just warm.  When completely cooled, store in a plastic bag or airtight container.

*********

I put the chunks into a plastic bag.  Whatever crumbs I had left, I put into a bowl and added milk.  It makes a nice cereal too!

♥ Terri  ♥♥

Homemade Peanut Butter – Sugar Free

I love peanut butter, but it has to be creamy, not chunky.  I always had a jar in the cupboard of one of the many name brands, whether it be the one you could jump rope with or the one that mothers chose, it was always there, ready to be slathered on whatever; a banana, slice of toast, cracker, bar of chocolate (think Reese’s) or of course, a soft slice of white bread with jelly…yum.  I’d even just grab a spoonful out of the jar and eat it like that.

Several years back, I attempted to try the natural peanut butter, you know, the one without…SUGAR!  I tried it by the spoonful first and wasn’t too crazy about it.  It was missing something; oh yeah, the sugar (and salt).  So I tried it on bread with jelly.  That wasn’t as bad as I was getting the sugar hit from the jelly.  After I managed to get through the sugar-free jar (luckily it was a small jar) I went back to the sugared PB…whew!

Then I moved to the UK….

Talk about culture shock!  I couldn’t find my favorite brands of PB, let alone many other products.  I had to make do with brands I never heard of.  They were OK, but they weren’t what I was used to.  Don’t get me wrong, it got the job done, but I guess I was just homesick for what I knew.

A couple of years ago, I decided I need to embark on a healthier way of eating and went back on South Beach Diet, which of course, restricts your sugar intake (something we should all do).  As I didn’t want to give up my PB, I thought I’d try (again!) a natural sugar-free brand.  This time, it wasn’t so bad and I didn’t really miss the sugar…but it was rather pricey.  A 454g/16oz jar of brand name all natural no-sugar added PB was £3.19 (U.S. $4.59).

I found a recipe for making my own peanut butter that seemed really easy and now I make it myself all the time and it’s much cheaper.  I can get a 400g/14oz bag of store brand roasted salted peanuts for 96p (U.S. $1.38).  I usually buy two bags and that’s enough to fill a 454g jar and then some.  The only other thing I add to it is about a 2-3 tsp. of peanut oil.

So what will you need to make your own peanut butter?  Well, of course you’ll need salted roasted peanuts, whatever quantity you want, a food processor and some nut oil…and a clean jar to put your peanut butter in.

Put the peanuts into the food processor and start pulsing a bit…it’s going to be really noisy when you first put it on.  Pulse about 10-15 times then put it on full blast.  Check it every 20 seconds or so.  After a bit, the nuts will start to creep up the sides of the processor bowl.  This is when you want to add the oil.  Start off with about a teaspoon of oil, then turn the processor on again for about 20 seconds. Check it and add a bit more oil and process again about 20 seconds.  Depending on how much peanuts you used, you shouldn’t need more than a tablespoon of oil.  Continue to process until it reaches your desired smoothness.

The longer you process, the smoother it will get.  Let it rest for about 5 minutes and then continue to process.  This lets the oil settle into the nuts and also gives the processor a break.  It doesn’t come out completely smooth, but it’s close enough for me.

♥♥ Terri  ♥♥

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES FOR SOUTH BEACH DIET

Why do toasters have settings that burn bread beyond recognition??

\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

Good Day!

I’m glad to hear that my family and friends made it through Hurricane Irene safely and hope that my other readers did the same.  Mother Nature can be a real b!tch if she wants to!

As most of you know from a previous post, I’m attempting to be back on the South Beach Diet (SBD), although I must admit, I haven’t been such a good girl as of late.  I haven’t been a real brat, but not as good as I should be.  In other words, I haven’t lost any weight since that post, but I haven’t really gained any either.  Maybe this is the weight my body wants to stay at and refuses to let go of any more…grumble, grumble.

However, I shall still carry on since, even though I may not lose weight, it’s much more healthy to be eating properly.  I’ll really get to see how I’m doing as I’m going for a health check next week.

Now, getting back to the subject at hand…Peanut Butter.  The SBD has a recipe for peanut butter cookies.  I had tried it a while back, but I ended up tweaking it a bit more to my liking.  Many of their desert/baking recipes call for Splenda to be used as the sweetener.  Granted, I do use it, but only in my coffee.  I do not like the taste it gives to baked goods.

In doing some research, I found that I could actually use Agave Nectar in lieu of artificial sweeteners.  It has a lower Glycemic index and is sweeter than sugar, so you can use less.  I had to experiment a few times to come up with the perfect (and least) amount I could use and still have a bit of sweetness in the cookies.

I started out with using a bit more than a 1/3 cup (about 6 Tbsp).  The next batch, I went down to 5 Tbsp.  I’m currently at 1/4 Cup/4 Tbsp.  I may drop it to 3 Tbsp. to see how that works.  Remember that this is spread out over the whole batch of cookies and I usually get around 23-26 cookies.  I eat 1 cookie at a time, once or twice a day.  They take care of the sweet craving and it gives me some protein and even a bit of chocolate.

I also make my own peanut butter.  I could buy natural/organic/no sugar peanut butter in the stores, but this is much more economical…in other words, cheaper!  I buy a 400g/14oz. bag of store brand roasted, salted peanuts and throw them into my food processor.  Whiz them around a bit until they’re almost a chunky paste, and then put in about a Tbsp. of peanut oil.  You have to put that in to give it the proper consistency or else it will be too dry.  Whiz it around some more until it’s as smooth as possible.  Mine doesn’t come out as smooth as you would think, but it’s not really chunky like the store bought either.  Let’s put it this way….it gets the job done!  You can hopefully get the idea from the picture below.

I spread it on an oatcake and I then proceeded to eat it after I took the picture. 🙂 (Well you didn’t want me to waste it now, did you?)

Now you don’t have to make your own PB, but at least you know what’s in it if you do.  If you don’t want to make your own and you’re trying to avoid sugar, then get the natural PB without sugar.  If you’re not worrying about the sugar, then by all means, get regular PB, chunky or smooth.  I don’t normally like chunky PB, but for this recipe I would use the chunky as it give some depth to the cookies.

Now that you have your peanut butter, here’s the rest of the ingredients and directions.  And remember, there is no flour in these!

PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3-4 Tbsp. agave nectar
3/4 C. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
20g/1oz. dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

Preheat your oven to 165c/325f.  Chop the chocolate into small pieces and set aside.

In a medium bowl, put the egg, vanilla and agave nectar.  Beat with an electric hand mixer for about 20 seconds on low, then for about one minute on medium, and then two minutes on high.  You want the mix to be really frothy.

Then add the peanut butter

and mix thoroughly to incorporate it.  The mixture will stiffen up once it’s mixed in properly.  (As a side note, it appears that 4 Tbsp of agave nectar should be the amount.  I’m finding that only 3 Tbsp is making the mix too stiff.  I added a Tbsp. of milk rather than add more agave, but that is up to your personal discretion.)

Add the cocoa powder and salt and mix again.  Start off on a low speed so that the cocoa powder doesn’t go flying all over your kitchen counter!  Then add the chocolate pieces.  You may want to mix them in with a fork instead of the electric mixer as it will be easier.

Drop walnut size pieces onto a non-stick baking sheet. With a clean, wet fork, press down on the dough to flatten a bit.  You may need to wet the fork every 2-3 cookies or else you’ll find the dough sticking to the fork.  Just dip the fork into water and shake off the excess.

Bake for 10 minutes then remove cookies to a rack to cool.  Store in an airtight container.

ENJOY!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
RIP Margaret
87 years
August 24, 2011