Monday, January 13, 2014

Chicken Soup: Low on Calories and Full of Flavor

Chicken soup is my go-to meal on days when I realize that my earlier choices were crap and that I'm staring a major overage in the face.  The secret behind chicken soup is the broth which can be extremely flavorful and filling, but has little to no calories (depending on the kind you purchase).  The recipe is also super versatile and can include almost any vegetable you have in the house, noodles or rice, and may or may not even include chicken - depending on your preference.

So staring a major overage (and a  belly ache) in the face, here's what I made last night
Not the soup I made, but looks identical
soup photo courtesy of Brandi Jordan

Homemade Chicken Soup
1/2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp salt, divided
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 chicken breast, cleaned

Melt butter in a stock pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions and celery to pot, sprinkling in 1/2 Tbsp salt.  Cook until onions and celery are soft (approximately 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add carrots, broth, onion powder, remaining salt, and garlic.  Next, add chicken (which can be whole or in bite sized pieces).  Boil the soup for 30 minutes and check the chicken to see if it easily breaks apart or pieces easily flake off (this means it's ready to shred).

In another pot, start your noodles or rice if you want either.  While this pot is cooking, if you used the whole chicken in the soup, take it out on a plate and use two forks to shred the breast.  After the chicken is shredded, add it back into the soup.  When the noodles or rice is complete, measure out your desired calorie amount and place it in the bottom of your bowl, then, use the ladle as your measuring agent for soup and add as many as you desire.  In the end, you can determine the amount of ladle-fulls possible in the soup and then divide the total calories by the number of ladles to determine the calories per label.

If you need help on how to shred chicken, here's a tutorial:

Here's how we broke down our calories last night.

Noodles: 180 calories for 1.5 cups noodles (which is a LOT of noodles - I only needed 3/4 cup to get a good soup/noodle balance)

Soup: Total calories in soup = 384.  Divided by number of ladle-fulls (10) = 38.4 calories each.

To get a filling serving, I used 3/4 cup noodles with 3 ladles of soup = 205.2 calories for a serving of soup!!

Obviously, if you used less butter or just cooking spray, you could cut out a significant portion of the calories, or if you used less chicken or no chicken.  But for hardly any money and only a tiny hit on my daily calories, I made a filling dinner for three!!  Next time you know you need to eat, but don't want to eat something heavy or fatty - try this simple and convenient dinner!

What's your low-calorie go-to?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Everything's a Competition

A lot of people in life like to throw around the phrase "it's not a competition", and while I understand the impulse to reassure those who so clearly might not win, in my opinion, if something isn't a competition - it should be.  I LOVE games!!  I am so much more motivated to do something if I know I'm competing against others (or myself - high score much?).  Maybe I'm a product of the gamification generation, but turn it into a game and even the worst chore becomes fun.

So in that vein, my fitness group and I are undergoing a 'friendly' competition to win a $15 gift certificate to a store of our choice and mad bragging rights.  The competition involves maintaining a food/exercise diary, trying at least one new fruit/veggie, trying a new fitness activity , and making a top 10 workout songlist.

I know what you're thinking. Amanda, that sounds pretty easy, where's the competition in that? Well it would be easy, if being fit were already a part of our lifestyles.  If Thanksgiving wasn't just around the corner. If I didn't just have two teeth removed.  But changing your life - I mean really changing it in spite of all of the other stuff that comes up and makes you want to revert to old patterns and hold tight to your meat and potatoes diet until death do you part like the dysfucntional lovers you are - is hands down the hardest thing you will ever do.  [NOTE: having never been married or had children I'm not sure how qualified I am to make that statment, but meh.]

So we're trying, and who knows if any of us will make it, but I know one thing for sure - I will enjoy the ride as much as I possibly can.  Because otherwise, what's the point?

Top 10 workout songs

1. Starts With Me - Tim Timmons

2. This is the New Year - A Great Big World

3. Numb - Usher

4. Applause - Lady Gaga

5. Fist Pump Jump Jump  - Ying Yang Twins feat. Greg Tecoz

6. Remember the Name - Fort Minor

7. All Night - Icona Pop

8. Indestructible - Robyn

9. My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark - Fall Out Boy

10. Feelin' Alright - Joe Cocker

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Thousand Miles

There is an ancient Chinese saying found in the Tao Te Ching, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".  Over the years, this has become somewhat of a mantra of mine as I find myself stopping and starting, stopping, and then years later starting again.  When I feel the most like a failure, I try and take the opportunity to ask myself some careful questions, Why was this unsuccessful? What could I have done differently? Who was I really doing it for?  And let me tell you, that last one is a doozy.

The truth is, we do a lot of things in our lives because we think we 'should', or because we think they'll make other people happy.  The flip side of that coin is that we often give up on the things that are important to us because we don't have time or because we're not willing to sacrifice someone else's happiness for our own. Which inevitably leads to conflict and failure.  Or at least that happens in my life a lot.

Which leads me to two months ago.

As an overweight woman, I've dealt with my fair share of issues.  Self confidence issues from a culture that says fat = ugly, space issues because everywhere I go I'm too large to be comfortable and always feel out of place, and emotional issues because food is how I connect with people, but it's also how I hide myself.  In August, I had my first major health issue related to weight - and it was a huge wake-up call.  I injured my knee badly trying to get in and out of the backseat of a 2-door coupe, and it continued to hurt weeks later.  I looked up knee injuries online (because insurance isn't really a thing I have right now) and found out that it's most likely the combined result of moving my body in the wrong way, and a long-term issue because of my excessive weight.  Aside from weight loss, the only major treatment for this condition is only 31.

Don't get me wrong, I try really hard not to buy into the whole thin is beautiful bull that the magazines and tv shows sell us.  I spent my life trying to make good choices but refusing to let my size dictate the rest of my life.  I didn't want to become like my mom, aunts, and grandmother - generations of women obsessed with calories and exercise, yo-yo-ing between extremes and hating themselves for every minute of it.  I also fill with rage every time I visit a doctor's office and instead of offering a helpful solution for my cold or UTI, the doctor focuses on my weight as though it defines my ability to be healthy.  Screw everyone who thinks they know anything about me based on my size.  I am a product of our culture and I refuse to apologize for a lifetime of indoctrination that puts someone with my metabolism and medical history at a serious disadvantage.

But my body was telling me that something needed to change.  It wasn't about advertisements or clothes in the mall.  It wasn't movie theater seats that never fit or amusement park rides not made for me.  It wasn't even the way people looked at me when I walked in the store or a restaurant - like I should be ashamed of myself and hide in my home rather than show my ugly fat ass in public.  It was about me.  And that day, with the fear of permanent damage to my knees and the knowledge that this wasn't going to be easy but that it was necessary, I started my journey.  Who knows, maybe this time I won't give up.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Back in a (not so) Big Way

As evidenced by my previous posts, it should come as no surprise to you guys when I announce that I unabashedly love food. And despite my long posting hiatus, it should also not be surprising that I have continued to love food very publicly other places online in the past few years :). But, after all this time, what should truly be of note to you, dear reader, is that I am finally getting paid for it!!

Recently I got a new job as the Content Coordinator and Social Media Manager for an online blog: I love my job, I love my boss(es), and most of all, I love that I got to write a blog post about some gorgeous and delicious food posts from other bloggers...and I got paid for it!!

So check out my post Ten Best Healthy Eating Blogs and give me a shout out!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Apology

Dear Readers,

I owe you an apology.  

It seems that in my zeal to share with you the bounty of beautiful images I find on the Internet, I mistakenly committed one of the most common and insidious errors of a new blogger: failure to attribute material to the original source.  Not realizing that just because I could copy and paste an image into my post and make it beautiful didn't mean I should do something like that, I did it over and over again - and eventually I was called to task by my readers.  Had I saved any information about where I originally retrieved these pictures, it would be no great effort to simply add tags to each photo and give credit where credit is due.  Unfortunately, I did not keep records of the origins of the images (mostly I really did just copy and paste) and therefore am unable to fairly rectify the situation.  So to you, dear readers, I offer an apology and a compromise.  Starting today, all pictures that are not mine will be labeled as such, and if you recognize the location of a given picture, please let me know and I will adjust the caption accordingly.  Please know that I was not intentionally misrepresenting myself and meant no ill will towards those whose images I 'borrowed'.  It was a stupid mistake made by a green blogger and one that has humbled me tremendously.  

Thank you so much for allowing me to share my life with you and in turn, sharing yours with me.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

And Now....Guest Bloggers!

Although most people wait until their blog is famous to ask other people to join in the fun and gain notoriety, however, I am lazy, and would willingly allow just about anyone to post on my blog as long as the material was somewhat relevant and my general guilt at my complete posting inadequacy was assuaged for a while. That being said, I am going to be featuring two guest blogs in the coming week. Each are very different in tune and style, but each deal firmly with the matter at hand: the consumption and criticism of food. Our first guest blog comes from 'Cultural Laureate, Cecilia' from Stars, the Moon, and Missing You. So sit back, relax, and open wide :).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Restaurant Review: Ichiban

As previously mentioned, this is a guest blog written by Cecilia of Stars, the Moon and Missing You. Thank you Cecy for your thoughtful and delicious contribution!!

Highlights: Yum Yum Sauce, Lunchtime prices (even on Saturday!)

Lowlights: Playing seal

Price: depending on time of day: lunch (11), dinner (20)

The first time I ever went to Ichiban, it started with a number of missed phone calls. I had been reprimanded openly at work for something I had done months prior was communicated about at the time. I was furious and drove a co-worker to their home while considering my options.

"I'm going to quit." I demanded in the car. My co-worker only looked at me and then looked ahead, waiting anxiously to finally be dropped off. As I drove from the home, I checked my messages and found that my sisters were waiting for my at a restaurant that had recently opened, a local hibachi grill very close to where I was.

I pulled in very soon and walked in, finding our group of eaters surrounding one of the eight grills, waiting for the cook to come. I sat and received a delicious salad with a mayonnaise sauce, a theme followed throughout the meal. The hibachi chef arrived and made the meal into an altogether experience with lay and some involvement of the spectators. My least favorite of the events was when we were meant to play seal, and catch vegetables with our mouth. The best part overall of that experience I could not define- perhaps it was the spectacle of our meal, perhaps it was the mayonnaise that accompanied our shrimp (yum yum sauce), perhaps it was just being around the people I love on an extraordinarily difficult day.

very low-res picture of steak hibachi - we could really use a better flash :(

I have been back countless times, for lunch mostly, on bad days, rainy days, and even my birthday. I have had a range of experiences, none altogether disappointing, and would recommend to anyone to try out their lunch and DEFINITELY try the yum yum sauce (seafood sauce).

Actual level of excitement re:yum yum sauce