Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Garlicky Eggplant and Garbanzo Bean Skillet

This recipe happened.  I came home from work.  I didn't have a plan for dinner, but I had two eggplant.  I looked up vegetarian eggplant recipes and I found one that looked good but it involved lentils.  I didn't have lentils, but I did have garbanzo beans.  And that worked.  I had made bulghur pilav for mom the night before, so we heated the leftovers up and served this over it.  It's a quick dinner.  Start to finish takes about 30 minutes.
 I hope you enjoy it!

1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 large Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/4" sliced into wedges (cut eggplant lengthwise, and then cut each half lengthwise again...then cut the wedges into 1/4" slices
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp Herbs d'Provence (or Italian seasoning)
1 15.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
pepper to taste
Salt to taste
1 15 oz can diced tomato (with basil)
1 tsp paprika
a PLOP of greek yogurt to top off each bowlful

I use my wok for this, but a large nonstick pan would be great too.
Satue the onion in the skillet until it goes translucent.  Stirring.  Add a pinch of baking soda and your onions will start to brown.  Add the minced garlic and cook another couple minutes.

Add eggplant, water, seasonings and cover.  Let the whole thing cook down for about 10 minutes.  Stir frequently.  Eggplant should be soft.  Add all the rest of the ingredients .  Cover and cook about 15 minutes til the eggplant is saucey.  Add salt, pepper.  

OPTIONAL:  Add a heaping tbsp of greek yogurt on top of each bowl.  Serve on top of brown rice or bulghur wheat pilav.

Serves 5-6

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lentil & Barley Soup (Vegan)

I used yellow, red and orange carrots, but any carrots will do.
Now that the weather's cooling a bit (okay, seriously, it's 88 degrees outside!), I like to start making soups for dinner (and to pack for lunch).  This lentil soup is easy, filling, and totally inexpensive to make.  It cooks up in an hour, and is delicious.  Since I always have lentils in the cupboard, onions, carrots and celery in the fridge, it's my go-to soup when I can't think of what to cook.
This receipe makes about 5-6 good-sized servings

1/2 cup pearl barley
1 cup lentils
1 medium onion, chopped
6 carrots, sliced
6 medium stalks of celery, OR the inner part of the celery with the leaves and such, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp of olive oil (or 1/4 cup water to saute)
8 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes (optional) and/or bouillion
Salt and Pepper

Rinse and wash lentils and barley, checking for little stones.

In a soup pot, add oil or water and saute and chopped onion, garlic, celery and sliced carrots until onions are translucent.  Add lentils and barley, stir.  Add water.  Cover, and simmer for one hour.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until lentils and barley are soft *but not mushy - about an hour.  Serve with lemon wedges.

NOTE:  I have added diced tomatoes and I have also added vegetable bouillion...but I like it just as described above.  It's not overly salty, the flavor of the onions, garlic, mushrooms is not overpowered by the broth.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant with Rice, Tofu, Onion and Sprouted Adzuki Beans

On Thursdays in Downtown L.A., right in the plaza of my work place, they have an organic farmers market.  It's always great to see what's fresh, and I get to pick and choose a lot of great produce.  Today, I found these beautiful mini eggplants, about the size of a navel orange.  I bought three of them and spent my commute home thinking of ways to stuff them.  With what?

I had about 3 ounces of silken tofu in the fridge.  I've always got rice, onions, and the sprouts for the this week were some experimental adzuki beans that I started on Saturday.  So here's what I did:

3 small (orange size) eggplants
2/3 cup basmati rice
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3 oz silken tofu
1/2 cup sprouted adzuki beans (or any other type of bean sprout)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup bottled reduced fat spaghetti sauce (or you can use tomato sauce)
salt and pepper

  • Use small eggplant - the size of a navel orange. Wash and cut the top off and discard top. Using a spoon, hollow out the eggplant. Keep the insides and put in the bottom of a large pan. Once eggplants are hollowed, add a little salt on the inside and set aside and allow to weep. 

  • In a bowl, add 2/3 cup basmati rice (rinsed), 1/2 medium onion finely chopped, 3 oz silken tofu, 1/2 cup sprouted Adzuki beans (or other bean sprouts), minced garlic, and mix together. 

  • Rinse the salted eggplant and dry. Fill with the rice mixture. equally among the 3 eggplant. Stand the eggplant in the pan with the eggplant insides (the parts you removed) on the bottom. Spoon about a tbsp of the sauce on top of each eggplant, pour the rest of the sauce over the eggplant. Put an inverted plate over the eggplant to keep them from floating. 

  • Add water to the pan to about 1/2 way up the side of the eggplant. Cover the pan and cook on the stove under medium low flame for about 45 minutes. You can serve with plain yogurt on top (but count those points). 1 eggplant = 1 serving  About 8 weight watchers points plus per serving (without the yogurt)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Heart Healthy Garlic, Mushroom & Kale soup (with barley)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mardi Gras Salad - A festive salad with cauliflower, broccoli, quinoa and garbanzo beans

I went to Sprouts Farmers Market today and they had the most beautiful yellow and purple cauliflower for sale.  I didn't know what to make with it, so I experimented and this is what I came up with.

1 head purple cauliflower, cored and broken into small florets
1 head yellow cauliflower, cored and broken into small florets
1 1/2 cups red quinoa
3 cups water
3 tbsp white miso paste (or any type of broth)
1 large broccoli crown, cored and broken into small florets
1 15.5 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained
1 oranges, juiced
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp ume plum vinegar
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp garlic powder
Blanch the cauliflower seperately, then plunge
in cold ater to stop the 
1 tbsp Trader Joe's everyday seasoning
1 tbsp no salt seasoning
Salt to taste

Cook quinoa in 3 cups water with miso paste added (or you can use 3 cups of any type of broth). Uncover, move to bowl and cool.  You'll be adding this to the vegetables.

Clean both heads of cauliflower and broccoli and cut into small florets. Boil a large pot of water. First, drop in the yellow cauliflower. Boil about 2 minutes til tender but not mushy. Remove with a slotted spoon and put into colander. Run cold water over it to stop the cooking process. Drain and put in bow. Next, do the same first with the purple cauliflower, and then with the broccoli. Combine the cauliflower, broccoli, and drained garbanzo beans, and onion. Add seasonings, vinegar, juice,, stir and chill. Adjust seasoning to taste. Chill.

Note:  If I had lemon, I would have used it instead of the orange juice...but all I had were 2 oranges, and that worked .  I didn't add any oil to save on the points values.

Makes 14-15 cups
Points Plus Value =  4 points per 1 cup serving
I just thought this was pretty 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Thoughts on Success

Last week, my WeightWatchers leader approached me saying that we were beginning a new unit in our meetings.  The topic for the next month was going to be about Success.  All of the WW's meetings were asking various members to speak on this topic about their own personal success with WeightWatchers and she asked if I would speak at our meeting.  I questioned this.  Surely he had me confused with someone else.  I have been anything but successful with my following plan.  I told her so.   "Why me?  I'm not a success.  I've been here since February, and I've only lost 15 pounds.  I've been up and down for months.  Why not choose someone who is actually successful?"   "But you are successful.  Because you keep working at it.  You keep trying.  You keep coming back."  She handed me a sheet with 4 questions on it and asked me to write down my answers and present them at this past Wednesday's meeting.

I thought about success all week.  I was on the Avon Walk.  I felt that was a success.  I mean how many of my friends can walk 39.3 miles in 2 days?  I thought about the fact that I was walking with my brother, and my sister-in-law by my side...and my sister and my husband were working on crew.  I had success in my family because we all loved one another.  We have close relationships.  I thought of my past history with breast and colon cancer....I was walking and I am healthy.  I'm successful in that way.  So all was good.  

Last Wednesday, I went to my WW meeting ready to speak.  I had answered my questions and was ready.  But at weigh in, I got on the scale and my weight was up 1.8 pounds.  Really???  I mean after walking over 40 miles this past weekend.  After all the training.  I was even careful not to eat too much junk always asking myself through the weekend, "Is it worth it?"  Not only that, but I hadn't been feeling well since Saturday evening and had only eaten a little soup and crackers for the past several days.  And a weight gain???  And then to add salt to the wound, my friend who started the same week as I did back in February, hit her 40 pounds lost...and I just felt so low and defeated.  I have worked so hard to track my food, drink my water, stay active, eat healthy.  And now I'm supposed to get up and speak about success?

So our leader gets up and introduces the new topic.  And she invited me up to speak.  I wanted to share with you my thoughts on Success:

1.  How did you feel before you joined WW?  I had lost a lot of weight in the past.  I used to weigh 60 pounds more than I do now.  But I have been 20 pounds less than I am now as well.   Being that I have always been an emotional eater, when my daughter got married last year, and then after that, dealing with my empty nest, my weight started coming back on.   I was feeling really out of control.  I thought that I had to do something.  And that "something" always ends up being WW because the plan is a lifestyle change.  It's healthy, and it fits in well with my life.  So I re-joined...again...with my friend.

2.  What helped you believe you could succeed?  Believing in success in one thing.  Believing in fighting for what I want is another.   I am a fighter.  I am a 3 X cancer survivor.  I'm all about determination and believing.  This past weekend I walked 39.3 miles in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Santa Barbara.  Training for that walk was all about giving up Saturdays for 12-15 mile walks.  And I made it all 39 miles.  But despite all the training, despite the 39 miles, the scale is not moving.  I have been plateauing for over 4 months.  And it's very difficult to sit here week after week and hear about all your successes when I'm working so hard for mine...and nothing's happening.  (At this point, I lost it and started crying...so embarassing...but it was just all coming out.  I went on.) So when Sandy asked me to speak today about my success, I asked her, "What success?  I'm not a success."  (Then I really start blubbering...and my nose is running...I feel stupid.  I'm standing up there, and I'm looking at my paper.  And I keep reading ). But there are other sucesses that are important too.  And I guess that's what it's about.  I'm like the Little Engine That Could.  I keep saying, "I think I can, I think I can."  It's not easy.  I have a lot of stresses in my life.  Dealing with cancer, follow ups and check ups, family, taking care of my mom, running a homeless outreach, trying to build my own business, holding down a full time job.  (At this point, I look up up, and half the members are standing up...giving me a standing ovation.  Which was so sweet.  Once I saw them and smiled, they started applauding. My leader brought me a tissue.)

3.  What did I accomplish once I started believing success was possible? Again, I'm not seeing the big successes on the weight loss front. But staying on plan has definitely made me feel more in control.  it's definitely curbed the mindless eating.  I am more balanced in the way I am eating.  I'm getting a grip on the emotional eating as well.

4.  How do you keep nurturing that belief so that it stays strong?  Life is short.  I have this image that I keep in my head a lot.  When I was at y heaviest weight, I went in for a stress test.  i did the treadmill and then I got the chance to see my heart on the screen, pumping, with all the infrared colors.  That was my ah-ha moment.  I remember being very emotional thinking that I was looking at my heart...this amazing organ that has been pumping to keep me alive since the day I was born.  And I was thinking about all the abuse I had put it through, through all the mindless eating, fast food, high fat, no exercise...stuff that wasn't good for me.  I keep that image close to me.  

I am on this journey.  The goal is to be healthy.  I know what I need to do.  I need to track, stay on plan to the best of my ability.  I need to move.  But above all else, I need to be honest and take responsibility.  If I can do my best, if I can track and truly know in my heart that I did the best that I could, then I can call that a success.

For me, I wish I could just drop the pounds.  But it's not what my body is doing.  y body has it's own individual agenda.  As much as I wish I could measure my success by the scale, my success has to have a different measure.  It has to be measured in knowing that I am eating right, that I am well for now, that I am being honest, accountable and doing the est that I can on the road to being healthy.

What are your thoughts on success?  How do you measure your success?  I'd love to hear from you. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Catching up - a Few Month's Worth

Can you see me up there...on my plateau?
Hi Peeps.  Believe me when I tell you that I have been "meaning" to get on here and write, it's just that there's been nothing to write home about.  I just noticed that my last post was from June.  JUNE!!  And here we are at almost September!

"What happened?," you ask.  "The last we heard, you were up and down.  Are you still going to your Weight Watchers meetings?"

And the answer is......::::drumroll::::  YES!  I have faithfully been going to meetings.  But the reason I haven't written or posted, is that I am still just plateauing.  Seriously!!!  And it's very discouraging.  Up one, down one.  Up .4, down .6, up .2.  This is what it's been like.  A couple weeks ago, I had a mini little emotional breakdown at our meeting, and our leader asked me to stay after so we could talk and see what's going on.
Am I tracking everything I eat?  Yes.
Am I drinking enough water?  Yes.
Am I staying within my points?  Yes.
Do I eat my bonus points?  Maybe a couple here or there.
How many bonus points are left at the end of the week?  Around 30 to 35 (out of 49)
Am I getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  No.  Haven't done that in years.  In fact, with my life, it's just not possible.

She didn't really say that was the problem, but they did devote a whole meeting to getting enough sleep recently and how that really is conducive to weight loss...and lack of sleep to overweight.  ::sigh::

So anyways she looked at my weight record and guess what she found.  I have been plateauing for FOUR MONTHS.  Ridiculous, right?  I mean, I thought so.  In the meantime, my friend has now lost 35 pounds to my 15.  :::womp womp::::

So what am I doing about it?  Well, this all happened a few days before we left on our vacation to Oregon. So my leader told me to just go and have fun.  Get away.  While on vacation, try to relax and get more sleep.  Don't track, but just ask myself..."Is this food worth it?"  And that's what I did.  

I did make some good choices, and I also had ice cream...even though it wasn't a good choice (but it was good!)  I always asked, "is it worth it.." and if the answer was "Yes" then I had it.  And amazingly, there were times when I said no too.  Well, I got back from the vacation and my first self-discussion:  I'm not going to the WW meeting this week.  I'll wait til next week when I'm back on track and then go back."  I hate when I do that.   But remember when I started WW back in February, I told myself I was in it for the long haul.  So I went.  I had a weight gain of 1.6 pounds after vacation.  And today, one week later...after tracking everything I put in my mouth...I lost exactly 1.6 pounds.  Hello again plateau.

Oh and all this is while I'm walking and training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, which is only 9 days away.  I am walking about 25-30 miles a week.  

Anyways I don't quite know what to do.  Some people have told me to eat more in order to reset my metabolism  (uh, i don't think so).  Other's tell me to life weights...do weight training.  How much weight would I have to lift in order to reap the benefit?  I don't know, do you?  Let me know, please

So this is where I am.  Today at the meeting, the leader passed out a 3x5" card to each of us.  We were to write on there a bit of advice of our weight loss journey to a new member.   I heard from a lifetimer "WW is so easy...and it works." I have to agree with it...the program is easy.  Working, on the other hand...ummm.... I think it works for most.  Surely it worked for me on my first 15 pounds.  So what did I write?  I, on the other hand wrote the following.  "Do not measure your success by someone else's journey.  Everyone is different.  Your journey is different than your neighbors.  And don't listen to other's stats.   It's not a quick fix.  It's a lifestyle change.  Be prepared for the long haul."    So that's it.  That's where I am.  

All I can do is the best I can do.  So I will keep going to the meetings.  I'll keep drinking my water, tracking...and making good choices.  In the long run these are the changes that are going to keep me healthy.  The weight loss is just the icing on the cake!  ::::hmmmm, did someone mention cake?:::::

How are you doing on your journey?  I would love to hear from you.  Or if you have suggestions on how to break the plateau, please drop me a line.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Recipe: Healthy Oatmeal Bars

I recently had a bunch of tests run, and despite the fact that I'm a vegetarian, my cholesterol levels came back high.  I was totally shocked by this.  I do eat eggs and cheese, but not in an overabundance.

So my doctor suggested a few things to help me lower the cholesterol.  The first is that I must exercise daily about 1.5 hours.  Doing so will lower my cholesterol 5-10 points.

And the second is to eat oatmeal EVERY DAY!  He said that doing so will lower my cholesterol 5-10 points.  Now that can be as cereal or in the form of a "healthy" cookie.

So I started looking at cookie recipes.  As you know by now, I follow Weight Watchers.  And with only 26 points to eat in a day, the last thing I want to do is waste too many on a cookie.  Most recipes were filled with sugar and nuts.  So I decided to try my own recipe.

This recipe will make about 20 oat bars.  They do NOT taste like your typical oatmeal cookie.  They're not sugary sweet but have a natural sweetness.  Each bar has only 2 points plus.

Healthy Oatmeal Bars

3 cups oats (I used Quaker Oats but any good oatmeal is fine.  You just don't want to use instant.
1 ripe banana (ripe, like yellow skin wih a few brown freckles)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup egg whites (Or I suppose you can use a whole egg or two but i'm tryin to cut cholesterol.
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped unsweetened organic turkish apricots (I bought these at Trader Joe's)
1/2 tsp salt  (I didn't use any, and I felt that it needed it)

OPTIONAL: Now, if you would like to add sugar, I'm guessing that 1/2 cup brown sugar would probably be plenty.  You can also add chopped walnuts.  Because I'm trying to keep these low calorie/low points, I didn't.  But feel free to experiment.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray.
Use parchment paper and cut it to the size of the bottom of your plan.  Place parchment in pan.
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl until moist.   Pour on top of the parchment and press into the corners, keeping the whole thing even.  Bake for 30 minutes or golden.

Remove from oven.  At this point, I free the whole thing from the pan and remove the parchment backing placing the whole slab onto a cooling rack.  When warm, use a large knife to cut into 20 pieces.  Enjoy.
Cut into 20 pieces - 2 points plus
Cut into 16 pieces - 3 points plus

Checking In: What week is it again???

Hi Everyone!  I haven't been on here for a long time and I guess it's because I don't have anything exciting to report.  I have been staying on plan, but actually plateauing for about 5 weeks now.  I lost 1.8 pounds...and then the following week the scale went up 1.8 pounds (though I have really no idea (honestly) why.  Then the following week I was down .6, and then up .4 and then down .2.  Ridiculous!!

What have I been doing wrong?  And what have I been doing right?
Okay, wrong things first:  So I can't reallly think of anything that I've been doing wrong, per se.  One thing I tried was to cut down on my fruit consumption.  Even though WW says fruit points are 0, the reality is that they still do have calories and carbs...and I started thinking that maybe I was eating too muh fruit.  It's summer, and I love the stone fruits of the season, like peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums.  So I told myself that I would limit my fruit intake to 2 a day. So for that week, I did lose!!!  Woohoo...I thought I had solved my problem.  The following week I did the same thing....and I gained.

Things I'm doing right:  This list is easier:
1.  Showing up to meetings.  Do you weigh at home?  I know we're not supposed to, but I do!! I have to.  So when Wednesday comes along and I don't see that the scale has moved, it's my first instinct to tell myself that I'm not going to the meeting that afternoon.  But I talk myself into it.  it's more than the number on the scale.  This is an investment in my health, in myself, in my progress.  So showing up to my meeting is the first thing I've done right.  I make sure I go.

2.  Tracking.  I track.  I track it all, even when I go over my 26 points for the day. (This is okay because we still have the 49 bonus for the week).  So I do track...everything that I put in my mouth.

3.  Drink!  I lots and lots of water.  Throughout the date at work, I fill my water bottle at least 4 times.  So that's not the problem.

4.  Stay active.  I have the active link monitor...and I am averaging getting to 97% to 100% of my weekly goal.  So that aint it either!!!

But the thing that I'm telling myself is this:  It's all about the journey.  Seriously....this time around it has to be a lifestyle change for me.   I have been to WW so many times in my life.  If I had just stuck with it, I'd be at lifetime.  But no.  I got discouraged.  I stopped showing up to meetings.  I started thinking I could do it on my own.

Sooooo....I'm still here.  And while I'm waiting for that scale to move, I am still going to stay on plan, eat healthy, exercise, and do what's right for me.  I'm still better off that I was 16+ weeks ago!   And I'm enjoying the ride.

How are you doing?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Checking in: Week 16: Life Happens!

 I can't believe I haven't posted in 3 weeks!  So much has happened.  First off, I had this incredible loss (1.8 pounds)  at week 13...and hit my 15 pound mark.  Yay!  Well, that victory was short lived.  So here's the story of the journey.

Week 14:  We took a girls weekend trip to Vegas...me and some of my work friends. I have to say that I don't understand my weight gain because even though we went to Vegas, I was still very moderate in my eating and I walked A LOT.  I even reached 150% of my activity goal for both Saturday and Sunday that I was there!  "Must be the alcohol," you say.  Nope.  I wish (now) that I could attribute it to that, but Friday evening I had one beer.  Saturday night at dinner, I had one mojito.  So I was okay with going to weigh in on Wednesday (I returned on Sunday)...and was not happy...and totally surprised to find I had gained 1.8 pounds (exactly what I lost the week prior!)  Grrrrr!!!!

At the meeting, we discussed mini goals....small little plans that we were going to work on during the week.  Week 15 was going to take us to Chicago for 5 days to visit family and our beautiful granddaughter Grace.  So my goal for week 15....."try to track my food as much as I can.....and SHOW UP TO THE MEETING!!!"  Why is this a big deal, you ask?  Because in the past, I have been very scale oriented.  If the scale moved down, great!  I'm so there.  And if the scale move up...or if I feel the scale is going to move up that weigh in day, I've not shown up, thinking, "I'll make up for it this week on my own, and go weigh in next week."  So showing up to meeting, after gaining the week prior...and after having 5 days on vacation is a big deal for me.

Week 15:  Chicago.  I went armed for battle.  I bought a few WW snacks at the meeting for
Me and Grace...she's so yummy.
She's looking very contemplative here!
the plane...(at least I'd know what I was tracking).  I packed fruit and snacks for the airplane so I wouldn't be tempted to buy the snacks.  We had a great time playing with the baby in Chiago, and visiting with my step-daughter, brother-in-law and cousins.  We hosted a BBQ for the family on Memorial Day.  I made some WW recipes (no one knew they were low cal).  Tracked as much as I could, walked a lot....both on our own and with Grace in the stroller!  Got back on Tuesday night.  With weigh in on Wednesday, already, when I went to bed on Tuesday night, I was making the excuses why I wasn't going to go to weigh in.  Seriously.   I didn't even get on the scale on Wednesday morning.  On the busride in to work, I was talking myself into it.  "It's not about the scale...it's about the journey....you need to go the meeting....good or bad.  Own up to it.  Life Happens!!"

Lunchtime came and I went to weigh in.  Stepped on the scale...and I had actually lost.  Not much, mind you, but I didn't gain!  I lost .4 pounds!  So, like almost a half pound.

So here's the lesson.  It's all about the journey.  Repeat after me.  "It's all about the journey."  Life happens.  There will be times when you are right on the money as far as being on your weight loss plan.  And there will be times when you'll just have to do the best you can given the situation at hand.  Own up to it.  No one is perfect.  We are on this journey to get healthy together.  If you're following Weight Watchers:  Remember that the meeting is not there because things are going perfectly;  They're there for support....and to hear what's working (and what isn't) for other people on the same journey.  So it's important to go when things are not going well.

Okay, I'm getting down off my soapbox now!!!
I hope you're all having a great week!

P.S.   I'll share the recipes I made for the BBQ!  Stuffed jalapenos and Asparagus/Tomato Salad!  Yum!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Checking in: Week 13: 15 pounds!

TA-DA!!!  I hit another Mini Goal today!
Another 5 pound marker and a total of
15.4 pounds lost!!
This will be short and sweet.  Today was weigh in....and I couldn't stay for the meeting but I did go check in.  And I lost 2.8 pounds this week hitting and surpassing 15 pounds!  I'm at 15.4 pounds gone! YAY!
Made some changes this week.  Tried to change things up a bit and it worked.  I did try to move whenever possible.  I even got off the bus when it broke down and walked home two miles.  I did bathroom counter pushups throughout the workday to combat my jiggly arms.  More big salads too.
So the moral of the story is (after last week's slight weight gain), don't lose heart on small set backs.  Be consistent and keep your focus!
Now for my next mini goal....another 4.6 pounds by Memorial weekend!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Black Eyed Peas Salad

I first saw this recipe in Vegetarian Times Magazine.  I changed it up a bit, buy using dry beans instead of canned and changing up the seasonings/dressing.  I was really happy with the look of it (it's colorful!) and it tastes great!  Only 3 Points Plus for a full 1 cup serving.

1 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup dry black eyed peas
3 large carrots, chopped
4 medium green onion, sliced
8 ribs celery - use inner stalks and leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped bell pepper (red or green)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped) (optional)
15 oz can stewed tomatoes (moderately drained) and chopped  coarsely
1 tbsp Tapatio hot sauce.

Use 1 cup dry black eyed peas. Put in a heavy pot, add 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover and let stand for one hour. Drain and rinse. In a large bowl combine peas, carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion and green onion together. Add drained (oka if they are still saucey) stewed/chopped tomatoes. Add olive oil, hot sauce, and stir, mixing it all up. Refrigerate for an hour, stir. Adjust seasoning and hot sauce to taste. Serving size - 1 cup
1 cup = 3 points plus
Make 8 one cup servings

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Zucchini Pancakes

Zucchini pancakes are easy to make, low calorie, light and healthy, and they cook up really quick.  You can serve this with a tossed green salad and some fruit and it makes a perfect lunch or dinner for a warm day.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Checking In: Weeks 11 & 12

Wow...I don't know if I should post a "ta-da" picture or a "womp womp" picture.  First of all, I totally missed last week's check in here on Pudgy Pomegranate.  Life has been busy....so last week, I walked, tracked, and did great with my plan, but hopping on the scale at last week's weigh in I was disappointed - but okay with it - with the .2 pound loss.  Yep, only .2 pounds.  My justification was that the week prior, I had lost 3 big ol' pounds...and hey, the scale moved downward so who was I to complain, right?  

So I vowed that I would, in week 12, go for a loss to hit my 15 pound mark.  So I did great this week.  I walked (even on Saturday!) I earned 16 activity points for the week (that's really good!), I tracked, I kept within my points.  But I managed to get sick with a cold. And I don't know if it's the cold, the meds, or what, but today I went to weigh in and for the first time in 12 weeks, the scale was UP!!!!  WHAT????  Yep, it was up.  .6  And the thing is, I seriously don't know why.  I can own up to it if I had screwed up, not exercised, not drank water...etc.  but I did all those things.  So why the gain?  So today, I am feeling like I get the big "womp womp".  
Ta-Da!! It's week 12 and I've made
positive life changes even though
the scale didn't show me the love
this week.
But it's just a number, right?  And I'm so much more than just a number.  I have lost 12.6 pounds in 12 weeks.  That's still a pound a week (YAY).  My clothes are fitting better and my energy level is okay (if I didn't have this cold!)  

So the goal for this week is to try to change things up a bit.  Maybe have more points for breakfast and lunch and less for dinner - I usually save more for dinner since that's when I'm with my family.  So we'll see how it goes.

So for now, I'm giving myself the "ta-da" because in the long run, I'm doing well, enjoying life, eating a healthy variety, and making positive changes!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms with Quinoa and Feta

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pasta with Sprouted Lentils, Mushrooms and Sun-Dried Tomatoes


1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (moist pack, not in oil)
2 cups sprouted lentils
4 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 medium onion, sliced
4 large cloves garlic, chopped fine
Salt & Pepper
8 oz. pasta
1  1/2  Tbsp olive oil
Parmesan cheese (optional)
red pepper flakes (optional)

This recipe just "happened" because it's what I happened to have in the fridge at the time.  The result was very yummy and light, and a great way to use your sprouted lentils.

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add a tsp of salt.  Add the pasta, and cook until tender.  Drain.
Add the spinach and lentils last to keep
lentils crunchy.

Heat your wok.  Add olive oil til heated, then add onion and garlic.  Cook til fragrant.  Add mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.  Stir cooking until soft.  Add spinach leaves next and stir til wilted.  Lastly, add your sprouted lentils.  You don't want to cook them too long because they have a nice crispy crunch that you'd like to keep.  Stir, turn off heat.

Add the drained pasta to the vegetable mixture.  Stir together.  Serve in bowls with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes, if desired.  Makes 4 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each)

It's best to get everything prepped ahead of time.

I use my walk for all kinds of cooking.  It's my favorite pan in the kitchen.  Here are a couple nonstick woks in case you're looking.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Catching up: Week 10 - Pinch Me!

Ta-Da!!  Three whole pounds down
this week!!  13 pounds down!
I had a busy week.  Over the weekend, Neddy and I stacked over 600 bricks and created two big raised beds in our yard.  I planted veggies.  My friend and I walked on our lunch break a few times.  So I go to my Wednesday lunchtime meeting, get on the scale and what NEVER happens, Happened!!  I LOST THREE (3!) POUNDS this week.  Notice the caps!  Yep!  I'M SHOUTING!

This brings my 10 week total weight lost to 13 pounds!  That was yesterday.  This morning I hopped on the scale, kind of as a "pinch me...I must be dreaming" kind of thing, and it was still there!

So it makes me wonder what's different?  Why the sudden weight loss.  Yes, we stacked bricks and worked out in the yard, but my active link monitor didn't even register that as activity. I've been trying to evaluate the difference and the one thing I can think of is that now that lent is over, I started back on dairy and therefore, higher protein foods, like greek yogurt, cottage cheese and eggs.  I'm still keeping within my points and tracking.  But i'm wondering if that's what's responsible for my numbers this week.

But whatever it is, I'm good with it!!!

Here's a picture of the work we did this weekend.  It starts in the lower right bottom  with our terrible soil garden space...and progresses up to the raised bed, the new soil, Neddy filling the boxes and then finally, up top, the finished and planted garden.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Checking In: Week 9: I Did It!!

I did it!  I met my first mini goal!  10 pounds lost!!
Well, it finally happened!  You know how it is when you get up first thing in the morning, go about doing your morning "stuff" and right before you get dressed for work, you hop on the scale for your weigh in.  Well, for the past week, I have more than hit my 10 pound mark, but weigh in is not until 12:30 p.m.  And in that time between 5:30 in the morning and 12:30, there a lot of life that goes on:  There's the morning coffee, a little something for breakfast...some water...you get the idea.

So if you read my post last week, I had 1.4 pounds to lose to make it to my 10 pound mini-goal.  And come Wednesday morning, I didn't think it was going to happen because my home scale had not moved significantly enough from the week prior.  So it was totally unexpected when I went to my meeting and the leader said, 'Oh, good, you lost again...."  The loss was EXACTLY 1.4 pounds making my grand total loss in 9 weeks to be 10 pounds!  Woot!!

So what did I do differently this week than last?  Want to know?  The answer is NOTHING.  I did nothing different.  I stayed consistent.  I tracked, I stayed within my points and I walked (and walked and walked...and still did my bathroom counter pushups).  (I'm averaging about 70 pushups a day now!!)

My friend Karen and I (the one that's lost 18 pounds in 9 weeks, thank you) have been doing what I call the "Green Light Walk" on our lunch break.  We walk until we hit a red light.  And so we have to turn and follow where the green light takes us. Anytime you stop at a red, you must change direction and go to the green.  I work at 7th and Fig.  This week we ended up taking Hope all the way down to Pico, and then walking all the way around the Convention Center and back to work.  It was a 3.6 mile walk. 

So I'm happy. One mini goal down, and the next mini goal is set.  Losing another 10 is already under way! 

What's working for you?  Let me know how you're doing.  I'd love to hear from you.

Do you use a pedometer? It's fun to see how far you're going.  Pedometers have come a long way and you don't need anything fancy.  Here's a basic one from Timex, but nowadays, if you carry your phone with you, there are pedometer apps that keep track of your miles and calories burned.  Still, if you don't want to carry your phone with you, the classic pedometer will clip onto your waistband.     

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Week 8: Impatience!

YAY???  Another .6 down.  :::grumble:::
8.6 down in 8 weeks.  Did I mention
being patient is not my best virtue?
Yesterday was my WW meeting and weigh in.  I worked hard all week.  I made sure I reached my 100% activity goal every day sometimes surpassing it up to 125%.  I earned 17 activity points for the week (2 a day was the target).  I tracked, a drank.  In the morning, when I woke up, I did my usual hop on the scale.  I read it, rubbed my eyes and read it again.  I actually hit my 10 pound mark and surpassed it by .2 of a pound.  YAY.  But my excitement was shortlived.

On came the clothes for work.  And remember, weigh in is not til lunchtime...and before then there's the morning coffee...and a little bit of breakfast (I get up at 5:00 a.m. so not eating til 12:15 can be done, but not a good idea).  Okay....so, weigh in time comes, I get on the scale.  "Oh good you lost again.  .6"  Yep..."point six".  :::sigh:::  

Okay, that makes the total in 8 weeks, 8.6 pounds. Which is good...but it's not commensurate with the amount of work that I feel like I'm plugging in, y'know?  And okay, I know I wrote a thing about not comparing and such, but REALLY???  I won't go there.

So anyways, I'm reveling in the fact that I DID see the number on my scale yesterday morning.  And I'm willing it to hit it by next week!!  

Goals for the week:  Drink, drink, drink more water.  Use my 5 pound weights at least 3 X this week to work on my arms.

How is your week going?  I hope you are having a good one.  Wishing you all a very happy and blessed Easter!!


Monday, March 25, 2013

How to Sprout Legumes (and Make Your Own Sprouting Device)

If you know me, you know that I have really gotten into sprouting lately.  I have ready sprouts in my fridge, I just finished the lentil sprouts that have been sprouting 3 days, and I have mung beans and seeds in the works right now.

Last Friday, my daughter came to pick me up from work.  I asked her to make a quick stop at OSH so we could figure out how to make our own sprouting jar.  We walked out with some mason jars and some plastic screening.  A simple contraption that works great.

Here's all you need for legume sprouting (you will need a much smaller mesh for tiny seed sprouting).
1 mason jar (1 quart size) with ring top
1 piece of plastic mesh screen.
Cut the screen to go over the mouth of the jar and get held down by the rim.
Here's what it looks like:        

Grab a bag of lentils from the market.  Any ol' lentils will do (dry).  Put about a 1/2 cup of dry lentils into the jar.  Fill with water, and allow to stand for 12 hours.  The next morning, when you wake up, drain the water through the screen, add clean water.  Agitate lentils a little, drain, add some fresh water and drain again.
Once you've got all the excess water out, tip your jar into a bowl to keep it draining...and throw a dishtowel on it to make the lentils dark.

In 8-12 hours, repeat the rinse and drain process.  After the first
day you'll notice sprouts.  After that it seems like they really take off.  You'll want to harvest your sprouts in about 3 days when the roots are about 1/2 " long.

When they're the desired length open your jar and dump the lentils into a bowl. Fill with water and allow the hulls to come to the top.  Remove the hulls, drain, and now you're ready to eat them raw (very nutritious and high in protein) or use them in your favorite recipes.  Let me know if I wasn't clear or if you have any questions.  Happy Sprouting!

Anush's Sprouted Lentil & Garbanzo Bean Curry with Ginger/Cilantro/Lemon Sauce

I have been having a lot of fun sprouting my own sprouts.  On Friday, I started my first batch of sprouted lentils.  The sprout really quickly, and "GROW" (from 1/4 cup dry to 2 1/4 cups in just 3 days).  So once I had the sprouts, I needed to figure out what to do with them, so I started searching the web.  I found the basic idea behind this recipe at www.thenourishinggourmet.com, and though I did modify the curry recipe, the sauce - which is what makes the recipe - came from the Nourishing Gourmet site.

2 1/4 cups sprouted lentils (sprouted 3 days) - tails are about 1/2 " in length)
1 - 15 oz can garbanzo beans
1 tsp. Olive Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp. red pepper paste (you can purchase this at the Middle Eastern store)
2 tbsp curry powder
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp allspice
3 large cloves garlic (pressed)

1 bunch cilantro leaves (removed stems)
1 clove garlic
Juice from one medium lemon
salt, to taste
Fresh Ginger, peeled and grated to a heaping 1 Tbsp

I started out sprouting 1/4 cup dry lentils (for 3 days) creating 2 1/4 cups of fresh sprouts.  Rinse and drain sprouts.

In a wok, or deep nonstick pan, add 1 tsp olive oil and saute the chopped onion.  Stirring, cooking about 4 minutes.  Add chopped or pressed garlic.  Add curry powder, allspice and 1 1/2 cups water.  Mix and cook about 2 minutes.  Add the sprouted lentils and one can of drained garbanzo beans.  Cook stirring every few minutes to get the flavors to mix.

In a food processor, process one bunch of cilantro, 1 clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon or more of fresh grated ginger, salt (to taste) and the juice of one medium lemon.  If you like spicy food, I added about 6 fat slices of jalapeno slices.  Process the whole thing.  It's going to be very pungeant, tart, tangy, garlicky...but a perfect combo to the creamy lentil/garbanzo texture.  Serve on top of your bowl of curry.  You may want to make extra of this sauce because i

One serving - 1 2/3 cup = 7 points plus (I know it seems like a lot of points, but it's very satisfying.).
Makes 3 servings

Serve with a salad.
Please let me know how your recipe turns out.  I'd love to know if you liked it as much as I did.

I found this interesting:  There are so many different types of garlic presses.  You don't need anything fancy, but you do need something good and sturdy.  I have one I picked up at IKEA....uh, not too good...but then again, it was only $3.  I'd be more inclined to get the one of these on the left...the one on the righ looks a little nut crackery, and the ones in the middle?  too hard to clean.  Click if you're interested in seeing more.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Checking In: Week 7 - Activity

Ta-Da!  Lost a full pound this week!
8 pounds in 7 weeks total!
We're at week 7 of following the Weight Watcher's points plus plan.  This week, I had a lot of fun with my ActiveLink monitor.  It's addicting.  It kept me pushing myself throughout the week.  Walking to and from the bus stop is gets the monitor to about 23% of my daily activity each way....so if I did only that, I'd be close to hitting 50%.  But it takes into consideration your walking around, daily activity, etc.  So I've been upping that.  Instead of getting up from my desk and walking straight to the kitchen or bathroom, I've been taking the "scenic route" and walking all the way around the office floor (we occupy the entire floor).  I've seen people I never see on that side.  And yes, you say, but that takes a lot of time.  The way I think of it is that if I were a smoker, I'd be able to take a couple breaks throughout the day at 15 minutes a pop, so why not a walk around break?  I've also being doing push ups using the counter at work in the bathroom (when no one is there...sshhhh!)  I'll do a quick ten before heading back to my desk.  My friend that I'm doing the program with, says that all if this sounds like extra pressure to her, (says the girl who loses weight like crazy, right!), but everyone is different....and for me, I'm going to need the activity to get the weight off and keep it off.

One of the fun things that we got back into doing, because of all this activity stuff, is the WiiFit.  We had bought the system a couple year's back when my daughter was at home.  And we did it for a while.  Well, Friday evening, I was still only at 75% of my daily total...so I asked Neddy if he'd be up for a challenge.  We had a lot of fun playing all the WiiFit sports together.  We were hoolahooping imaginary hoops, dodging soccer balls, pandas and shoes, and skiing down hills.  A fun way to get off the couch.

So even though it wasn't anywhere near going to the gym and doing intense work out, it was just about upping my daily activity and getting more active.  Moving. The challenge on the activelink this week and last was to earn 2 activity points a day...and I met that goal with 16 points last week, and I'm good so far for this week.

Oh, and on a different note, I have some great recipes coming this week: Golden beet salad with fresh ginger dressing and  Vospov Kufte (Armenian Red Lentil Kufte).  I just need the time to post them.  Hopefully tonight!

Yesterday was weigh in, and guess what?  I actually lost one FULL Pound this time.  Another 1. pound closer to my goal.  Grand total:  8 pounds in 7 weeks!!   Yay!
Today is Thursday, and the day I read my weekly blog entry on ePostle's weekly podcast, the Next Step with Father Vazken.  I'm doing a weekly reading from my other blog - This week's topic "The Journey Continues" -  www.pomegranateandeye.blogspot.com  Take a look, or a listen!

Here's the Wii fit bundle.   And the console.  It may seem costly for "games" but there are other programs that go with it that you can use to up your activity.  I do have the Just Dance disks which are really fun, and the Zumba as well.  It's good for someone like me that doesn't have time to get to the gym.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Week 6: There's No Comparison!

Ta-Da, another .8 pounds down
Week 6 total lost: 7 pounds
There's something that needs addressing - WITH MYSELF - about this whole thing about weight loss, getting healthy.  And that "something" has to do with comparisons.  When I first started this journey 6 weeks ago, you heard me.  I was all gung ho about embracing every ounce, and sticking with it and blah, blah, blah.   I'm not throwing in the towel by any means.  I'm still in it for the long haul - BUT - would it be so hard if the scale dropped a whole pound instead of ounces?  Really?  This week's weigh in brought me .8 (that's 8/10th's) of a pound closer to my goal.  Okay that ALMOST a whole pound, but not quite.  Still, it's a movement in the right direction, and I am grateful, don't get me wrong.  But still......

Okay, here's the big picture.  The truth of the matter is that doing this with friends is great (i.e. great to have a buddy to share the journey with), but on the other hand, I'm constantly comparing my loss with hers.  She started a week after me and has already lost 13 pounds!  I am at 7 pounds in 6 weeks.  She is not exercising nor active.  I, on the other hand, have been doing my ActiveLink challenge since I got it and always pushing myself to reach 100% of my activity goal.  We both track.  We both drink our water.  So how come the scale is moving for her and not as much for me???  (Can you hear me whining?)

This goes back to something I taught my daughter when she was but a baby birdy in the nest.  "LIFE IS NOT FAIR!"  That's it in a nutshell.  But stepping back to the bigger picture in hand is the reality.  Why should we compare ourselves to one another?  Not just in weight loss but in everything?  God has created us uniquely.  Different bodies, different metabolisms, different strengths and weaknesses.  When I think of it this way, it seems silly to compare.  I am who I am.  And I am good as I am...I just want to be better.

When it comes to my friend, the reality is that she is younger than me (faster metabolism).  She is a totally different build than I am...she's a head taller than me and a muscular build.  I've had endless surgeries (cancer(3x thank you) gallbladder, salpingo-oophorectomy (look that one up) and have had more things removed from my body than have been left in (or so it feels sometimes).  So OF COURSE my body is going to react differently than hers, right?  

I have to say that another thing that's  helped me put this in perspective is the WW site and my eTools.  Because I've been tracking my intake and my weight, it produces progress reports for me.  And when you look at the big picture, I have been averaging a 1.2 pounds loss per week.  So all those 10ths are adding up.  And 7 pounds in 6 weeks is pretty good.

So I am plugging right along!  It's lunchtime and I have already hit 50% of my activity level for the day.  I am walking home from the bus stop this afternoon with Farmer's Market groceries in tow...that ought to give me a few extra calories burnt.  And this weekend, I'm hoping to do either a hike, or digging up the garden.  We'll see.

I hope you are all having a great week.  I'd love to hear from you. Let me know what's working for you, and what isn't.

Check this out right here.  It's called a Weight Watchers Body Analysis Scale.  I have never seen it, nor is this something they weigh you on at a WW meeting, but it looks like it measures all sorts of things from your weight, body mass, fat, bone, etc.  Who knew?  I'd want to know that info...but I don't think I'd want to know if every time I hopped on the scale.  I'm already obsessed with the numbers as it is  : )

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Week 5 update: Getting moving

Week 5: Another .6 pounds down!
I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with my little weight loss this week.  I did follow plan but the scale only showed a
.6 loss.  But that's okay...it's going in the right direction, AND I'm appreciating every ounce lost this time around.  Still, it's natural to get a little disappointed when others are losing so much faster.  This time around, I'm understanding this a little better though.  Case in point, I am going to WW meetings with two of my coworkers.  My one friend started a full week after me and met her 10 pound mini-goal this week!  (in 4 weeks).  And that was after spending the weekend on vacation and eating.  But the reality is that no two people are alike.  There are other factors too:  the amount of muscle mass, age, height, metabolism.  We're all different, so why should our weight loss be the same?  6.2 pounds lost so far.  Woohoo.

On Wednesday (weigh in day), I completed the 7 day assessment wearing my ActiveLink monitor, and I've started this week, trying to meet my daily challenge of earning 2 activity points.  The way it works is this:  I wore it for a week and it assessed my activity (or lack of).  Now that I'm in the actual challenge portion, I wear the monitor every day and it counts all the activity I do.  I can check where I am throughout the day.  It lights up when I place it on the counter. Each light lit is 25% of my activity goal for the day.  So this has gotten to be "fun" for me as I try to make my monitor go up to 100%.  So I'm doing all sorts of things to up the activity. This evening, I was only at 75% of my goal.  So I asked Neddy if he'd like to play with me...and we hooked up the Wii and did Wii Fit for an hour. It was fun!  (Yep, you heard me!  Activity was fun.) I have surpassed my goal today...I'm at 111%

So that's it for this week.  I'm going to continue on with my activity and tracking and we'll see what Wednesday's weigh in brings.

Hope you're all having a great week!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Marinara with Mushrooms

I distinctly remember the day my mom brought home our family's first spaghetti squash in the late 70's. .  It was big, yellow, hard and the size of a football.  We didn't really know what it would be like, but mom had heard that once cooked, the inside flesh would make strings like spaghetti.  She had also learned that you should eat this squash with lots of butter and brown sugar. And so that's what we did.  She cooked it in the oven, fluffed up the strings, mixed all kinds of butter and brown sugar in it and served it up in its own halves.

The strings may look like spaghetti, but the texture is not soft like pasta but still firm.  I remember thinking that I didn't particularly think the taste was that big of a deal, but hey, put butter and brown sugar on anything and it will taste good.

Once I grew up and got married and had my own household, I didn't pay much attention to spaghetti squash.  And then now that I'm following Weight Watchers, I'm experimenting with low cal/low points alternatives and I thought I'd revisit spaghetti squash given that it has 0 points (yes, you heard me right....0 points!!) as opposed to 5 points for a cup of spaghetti.

So this time I made it with traditional spaghetti in mind.  Using very few ingredients.

Here's what you'll need:

1 spaghetti squash
Pre-made spaghetti sauce (I found one for 2 points per 1/2 cup)
1 box sliced fresh mushrooms
1 yellow onion, chopped
salt, pepper, garlic powder &  red pepper flakes

I started with my oven at 400 degrees.  Baking your squash is going to take about an hour.  Line a pan with foil, use a sharp knife to poke some holes in your squash.  Put it on the pan and stick it in the oven for about an hour.

When it's done, it should yield to gentle pressure but still be holding it's shape.  Heat up your sauce.  In a nonstick pan, spray your pan with PAM (or the like).  Saute your onions and mushrooms...and then put a little water in it and cover to steam.

When your squash is ready, pull it out of the oven, carefully cut it in half lengthwise.
Allow to cool a little so you can scoop out the seeds.  Once you've got the seeds out, fluff up the squash with a fork keeping the strands long like spaghetti.  (This is the point where my mom would put on the butter and brown sugar.).  If you'd like to toss in some olive oil, this is the point to do it.  I am trying to cut the oils out so I didn't add any oil, but I did season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Serve on each plate with a ladle-full of spaghetti sauce.  Top with a spoonful or two of your mushroom and onion mixture.  That's it!

Serving size:  1 cup
Points plus value - 2-3 points depending on your sauce
The rest has 0 points.

Do you have a way you like cooking spaghetti squash?  I'd love to hear from you!
Here's a book that looks interesting.  I can up my squash intake if I knew what to do with it.  : )