My Weight Loss Progress

Friday, November 23, 2012

It's not exactly a camera fail, it's just that I'm not thinking blog while I'm making dinner.

While I was napping, leftover gravy and turkey morphed in my mind and became pot pie.  It sounded like just the thing for dinner, so off I went to scrounge up pot pie.

I had carrots, celery, onion, frozen peas, turkey, gravy, liquid to make the crust.  My gluten-free cookbook had a recipe, but what I did was merge my regular recipe with that one, and came out with a pretty good crust.

This was the right size for my 6" square casserole dish, the shallow one.  Just enough for four servings, perfect for the four of us.

My son asked if I was going to share, since it was "MDD" on the menu.  Make-do-day--everyone fend for yourself, there are plenty of leftovers.  However, since I was making pot pie they were lucky and got dinner fixed.  He pitched in and chopped all the vegetables for me (thank you for saving me from onion-eyes, son!) while I made the pie crust.

It came out pretty good, and though pot pie is a lot of work, it wasn't so bad with a partner in the kitchen, and the gravy already made.

Gluten-free Pot Pie Crust (small)^

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 stick (about 1/4 cup) vegan margarine (I used Earthbound Farms)
1-1/2 cups Domata Living Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
abt. 4 Tbsp. Cold Water

Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are crumb-like.* Sprinkle in water, 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing gently until all flour is moistened and will form a ball.

Split pastry into two sections, about 2/3 in one part, 1/3 in the other. Roll out between sheets of plastic wrap.  If it doesn't stick together well enough to roll out, you can add a little water at a time until it will.  You don't want it gooey, but sticking together is nice.

Roll out the bigger piece large enough to cover the bottom and sides of the casserole dish. Take off the top plastic wrap, invert the crust over the pan, then pull off the plastic wrap and gently shape the bottom.**

Fill the shell; put the top crust on the same way, and shape the edges.  Poke a few slits in the top for venting steam, and bake as your recipe instructs.  Mine was 425. 

^For a regular 2-crust pie shell, it's about 2/3 cups butter/oil mix, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 4+ Tbsp water.

*I use the whipping blade on my Mixmaster for this part, then switch out to the paddle blade before I mix in the water.

** It's not very stretchy like regular flour; I ended up having to patch the edges along the top, but it doesn't matter because it all hides under the pretty top crust anyway! 


Not a specific recipe; I diced and sauteed a carrot, a couple of stalks of celery, and some onion, then stirred in frozen peas, leftover gravy, and some diced turkey, about 6 ounces probably.  I could have used a little more of all the veggies, especially carrot, but my son's wife is not a big carrot fan, so I didn't put in too much.  Add a sprinkle of black pepper, about a half teaspoon of minced garlic and some liquid smoke.  Put in crust hot.

Nutrition Comments

This is not a low-fat recipe, but it sure was good.  The key is portion control.  One small pan easily served four of us, with nothing leftover to pick at.  You could possibly serve six if you had other side dishes. We just had a salad to go with it.

My daughter-in-law seemed to like it okay; she ate almost all of hers and I didn't see her picking carrots out.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Care and Eating of a Pear

I love pears but I never bought them because you have to buy them green.  By the time they get yellow, they are all bruised and mushy.  I just haven't had much luck with them.  Until....

Two years ago, I bought a box of mixed fruit from an FFA fundraiser.  It was beautiful, huge, delicious fruit, and best of all, there were instructions in the box for how to ripen the pears.

Since then I have come to greatly enjoy pears, so I thought I would share what I have learned.

First, let them ripen slowly on the counter, preferably at the top of a bowl of apples.  Don't put them out of sight and forget about them.  They can be done in a brown paper bag, but not me, or I'll be pulling them out two months later when I wonder what smells.  So I just do them in my fruit bowl. Always handle them very gently as they do bruise easily.

When they start to turn yellow, gently check for ripeness by pressing gently on the flesh near the stem.  I must stress gently here!  If it doesn't budge, it's not ripe yet.  If it feels soft but not mushy, it's just right.  If it's mushy, eat fast!

You can, of course, push on the flesh anywhere, but if you only check near the stem, then if it does leave a bruise, it's only on a tiny part of the pear, not right out in the middle of the fat body where it spreads to the whole pear.

Now that you are sure it is ripe, cut it with that cool apple-coring tool.  It may not go perfectly on the center, but it cuts nice and evenly without all the bruising of handling the pear.

If you're lucky it falls off the tool in a nice flower shape.  This is really pretty.  Put a dried apricot in the center and you've got a decorative fruit plate.  So easy!

Enjoy the sweet, juicy pear! 

In short:
Handle with care.
Ripen on counter with apples
Test near stem
Cut with apple corer

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

If I can avoid the wonderful good crescent rolls, why do I have trouble with simply eating too much? And here's the yummy roll recipe!

They are hard to see in the picture, but the bowl in the corner is full of wonderful, fresh, homemade crescent rolls, a family favorite for holidays!  They are so soft and light and delicious!

Unfortunately, they are also packed with wheat flour, milk, butter, and yeast, all forbidden foods for me.  I have no problem avoiding such foods, knowing that they will make me sick.

What I can't figure out is this:  the question in the title.  It's easy to say no to so many foods.  I was eating a couple of candies a day at work, and easily decided, no more, and bypass the candy jar. I did not buy any chocolate chips this week, though I had been eating them daily.  But when it comes to overeating, I have trouble just saying no.

If I can control my amounts as easily as I avoid the foods that make me sick, I would lose weight easily.  This is something to ponder, because I realized as I wrote this that the extra weight is making me sick, just not as quickly or as noticeably.   I'll have to give this some serious thought and see if I can make a commitment I can stick to.

Zola Taylor's Crescent Rolls

Makes 32 rolls*

1 cup milk
1 pkg. or 2-1/2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup  sugar
1 cup butter, melted
3 eggs, room temperature, beaten+
1 tsp salt
4 cups flour

Heat milk until hot but not burning to touch.  You should be able to stick your finger in it without getting burned.  Mix in sugar and yeast.  Let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes.)**

Mix in butter, eggs, and salt. Stir in flour.  Stir until dough is very stretchy and stringy.

Cover and let stand overnight.^

Divide dough in half.  Using just enough flour to handle easily, roll out into two large rectangles.  Cut each into four rectangles, then cut each rectangle into four triangles.  Roll from widest end.  Place point down onto ungreased cookie sheet; cover lightly with a towel and allow to raise at least 4 hours.

Bake just before serving at 350 deg. oven until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.^^

Serve on a pretty cloth-lined platter or in a cloth-lined bowl.  Don't stack them too high. You want light, fluffy rolls, right?  

* ** ^ ^^

Hints for the beginning baker

+If you forgot to get the eggs out ahead, it'll be okay.  Just get them out as you gather up the ingredients.  You do gather the ingredients first to make sure you have everything you need, right?

*  I usually double this recipe, depending on how many people we are serving.  For 8 people, 32 rolls makes 4 apiece, but they are small rolls, so that's okay.  They also keep well for several hours or overnight, so extras are always good.

**  If mixture doesn't foam by 5 minutes, it's either too hot, too cold, or the yeast has gone bad.  Test your yeast by putting about 1/2 tsp with 1 tsp. sugar in 1/4 cup warm water.  If it doesn't get bubbly, you need new yeast.  If you want to do this first, then just add it to the mix, reducing milk and yeast by the amounts used in the test.

^I usually put it in the fridge overnight.  The chilled dough is easy enough to work with, and to me seems less sticky.  Use non-stick cooking spray on the lid or plastic wrap to keep the dough from sticking to it as it rises.

^^If you have several pans, you can't bake them all immediately before serving.  You need to allow 10 minutes per pan, so start early or plan on taking rolls out of the oven all the way through dinner. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A New Take on Emotional Eating--and three favorite Thanksgiving or anytime recipes

When I think of emotional eating, I usually think of eating to dull the pain, to make myself feel better temporarily.  For me there is also boredom eating.  If my book's not quite interesting enough, or I am just bored (I can't ever say I have nothing to do) or I am procrastinating, it's easy to turn to food to "fill up" the emptiness.

At a church dinner on Friday, I discovered another kind of emotional eating.  I usually have practically nothing to eat at pot luck dinners, due to the wheat and dairy issues, so I made some gluten/dairy free mashed potatoes and corn bread.  I have to say, they were delicious!  I always label them so if others are in my situation they know they can eat them.

Friday there were many wonderful, safe choices.  There was a lovely green salad, some cranberry sauce, turkey, my two dishes, pickles, sliced oranges....I was so grateful that I filled up my plate and went back for seconds.  Later I realized that my emotions of joy and gratitude were still the cause of overeating. 

Part of a typical Thanksgiving dinner--potatoes, turkey, relish, corn, gravy, apple cider, sweet potatoes.  Turkey must carefully examiined, because it may have stuffing (gluten-laden) or be cooked in an oven bag  (flour added.)  The church provided the turkeys and I volunteered to cook one, as a service, but it is also a way to make sure it's gluten-free.  No stuffing for  me, no gravy unless I  made it myself with corn starch instead of flour (gravy mix usually has wheat in it). Mashed potatoes must be made with vegan margarine and vegetable broth or turkey broth, and no milk. Candied sweet potatoes are good if I know what is thickening them (again, home-made.)  Vegetables are often cooked with butter, so I rarely eat them when I'm not eating at home.

Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes

I wish I had the recipe, but I practice Amelia Bedelia Cooking. I don't have a picture either.

About six to eight peeled potatoes, cut in chunks.
2-3 carrots, cut in chunks.
1/4 onion
1 stalk celery, cut in 3-4 inch long pieces

Cook until vegetables are tender.  Remove celery.  Drain off and reserve liquid; put potatoes in a mixer. Add a chunk of dairy-free margarine, and blend at low speed.  Slowly add hot liquid (from cooking, or use broth of some kind) and blend until it looks about the right thickness. Taste it to see if it needs salt, pepper, or extra margarine. Add if needed.

Turn on high and whip until potatoes are light and fluffy.  Serve immediately.

I cook my turkey with a basil rub, so using turkey broth in the potatoes gave them a wonderful flavor! Or if you want it vegan, you could just add basil and a dash of the other flavors directly to your potatoes.

Basil Rub for Roasted Chicken or Turkey

Make one batch for chicken; double it for a small turkey; triple for a large turkey.

1 Tbsp Salt
2 Tsp sugar
1/4 tsp garlic (powder or fresh minced)
1/4 tsp onion powder or dried onions
1/4 tsp paprika
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp basil
2 T olive oil

Mix all ingredients together and rub all over chicken, inside and out. Roast as usual.

If you really want the flavor to get into the meat, you can put it under the skin of the breast.  If you don't usually use salt in your foods, then cut the salt in half.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cornbread

Servings:  6-9
Pan Size:  8x8 inch square
Oven Temperature:  350

cooking spray
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup gluten-free flour  (I use Domata Living Flour)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup dairy-free milk (I used almond)
1 egg
3 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. dairy-free margarine (I use Earthbound Farms)

Spray pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Mix all dry ingredients and cut in butter until mixture is fine crumbs. Add milk, egg, and honey, stir until thoroughly mixed.  Spread into pan as evenly as possible and bake for 20 minutes.  Serve hot.

Original recipe (with wheat and buttermilk) from; adapted to gluten free by me. 


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tortoise, Turtle, Huddle in Your Shell, and How Was Your Weight this week my dear? A little slow?

In some TOPS groups, they say they "turtled" if their weight stayed the same from one week to the next.  That's me, this week.  I'm a turtle!

I am a person who does not do physical things quickly, and as a child, my sister dubbed me a turtle.  I was also shy and a social misfit, which probably added to it. My sister even gave me a stuffed turtle one year.  As a defense, I adopted the turtle as my mascot, named the stuffed one Toby, and started collecting turtles. I had a hand-drawn turtle poster, a tiny ceramic turtle, and numerous others.  I had a hand-me-down live turtle but sadly, I neglected him and he died.  I think I even had a dress with turtles on it at some point.

Eventually, I decided that I did not want to reinforce myself as the image of a turtle.  I did not want to hide out sluggishly in my little shell, trying to protect myself from the world by being invisible.  I wanted to be bold, outgoing, and if not athletic, at least not afraid to try.  I got fairly good at volleyball, still stink at tennis and baseball, and loved soccer and Speedaway, a popular game at my high school. I also loved crab soccer. The bigger the ball the better I did.

I was a 6th grade cheerleader and had a lot of fun with that.  As a disclaimer, there were only 6 or 8 girls in  my two-room school upper-grade class, so most of us were cheerleaders. Looking back, I feel bad about the girls we left out.  At the time, an immature 11-year-old, I was just grateful to have finally found a way to fit in.

At 16 I ran for Miss County.  As the youngest one there I had an interesting experience, and came out as 3rd Runner-up, which sounds really great until you realize only four of us ran!  But they gave me a giant trophy and my boyfriend of the time told me I was the most beautiful
woman there, and my dad was way proud of me for trying and claims he heard audience members claiming that the girl in the yellow dress should win.  Ah, Parents!

I went off to summer camps, and the first year I got stuck with a terrible group of girls, bawled with homesickness but stuck it out, thanks to a terrific counselor and an older sister (not the one who called me a turtle!) who let me hang out in her tent a lot.  The second year I called home once but stuck it out. There were boys at that camp--worth staying around for!  After that I was home free. I loved summer camp, made some really good friends, organized a skit my last year, and eventually, as an adult, became a counselor.

Now I go out of my way to greet newcomers at church.  I strike up conversations in grocery stores.  I got things organized for the Biggest Loser contest at work.  At times I still want to crawl back into my shell, but weight-wise, no.  I don't want to be a turtle!  I threw out all my turtles!  I want to make quick progress.  And I want to stop writing this blog and go exercise, so ta-ta for now!