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)., 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, 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 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 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" -  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'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.  : )

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lentil & Butter Bean Salad

2.5 cups lentils (I like to use the Melissa's steamed ready-to-eat packaged lentils from Trader Joe's)
1 - 15 oz. can butter beans, drained
1 - 8 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained
2 large tomatoes, chopped
6 green onions, thinly sliced
6 stalks celery, sliced 
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice from 2 lemons
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
1 tsp cumin

Combine the beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, celery together.  Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cumin and mix.  Serve chilled.

Makes 6 - 1 cup servings

I don't have either of these cookbooks, but they look pretty good!

Points Plus Value:  6 points

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Vegan Rice Pudding with Arborio Rice and Almond Milk

It's mid-lent.  If you've been following our Armenian Orthodox tradition of a vegan diet, having something creamy and sweet sounds pretty good about now.  Here's a spin on the traditional rice pudding.  I had some arborio rice (the rice you made risotto with), so I used that.  It tends to be a little sweeter and a little starchier than regular rice.  But you can use any kind of rice (even brown rice) for this recipe.
Here's what you'll need:

3/4 cup Arborio or regular rice
3 1/2 cups almond milk
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar (or less)
cinnamon for the top

Use a heavy pan.  Add the rice and one cup of water.  Cook under low heat for about 5 minutes or so until the rice "opens".  This was a tip from "Auntie Zarouhi" up at summer camp the year I worked in the kitchen.  You want the rice to still be crunchy inside, but be open to receiving the milk.  : )  Add the almond milk and stir to make sure there are no grains sticking to the bottom.  Turn the heat to low and allow it to cook until the rice is totally cooked.  Stir every 5 minutes or so to make sure it's not sticking.  

Once the rice is fully cooked, pour the pudding into a dish.  Top with cinnamon and allow to cool.  Store in the fridge covered.  You can garnish with slivered almonds, raisins, cranberries.  But if you do top it, then count those points (if you're following WW).  I didn't calculate the points for toppings.

Makes 5 - 3/4 cup servings = 3 points a serving

Pudding is the perfect thing to make in those heavy enameled iron Le Crueset (or knock off) pans.  I'm talking about ones like these.  I'm lucky enough to have my grammas knock off....gramma gave it to mom, and mom passed it to me.  Martha Stewart makes her own brand of these which Macy's carries.  I'm just spouting off don't need one, but if you have one, they're a pleasure to use.  I use mine for all sorts of things from pudding, to dolma, to making in.  : )  It's a good investment (tho pretty expensive).  Click for more info.


Checking In: Week 4 - Achieving My First Mini Goal

Ta-Da!  At 4 weeks, I reached my
first mini goal of 5 pounds and change!
At my four week weigh in, I reached my first little mini-goal, the 5 pound mark!  This week I lost 1.8 pounds! bringing my total weight loss to 5.6 pounds.  I tracked my food intake and tried to drink more water, cutting my coffee intake down to 1-2 cups a day.  The rest of the day I drank water and herbal tea.  I noticed a bigger change though.  I am actually happy with a 5 pound weight loss in 4 weeks.  In the past, I would have poo-poo'ed the slow loss.  But this time around, I've been watching the scale slowly and consistently move down an ounce at a time.  I am accepting of the fact that at this time in my life, my body is healthy after having been through a lot of trauma (cancer) and that's what the goal is.  To be healthy.  I am not seeing the weight fluctuation of 2-4 pounds a day that I used to see when I was doing severe dieting.

I am trying something new and I'm excited to see how it's going to work.  Weight Watchers came out with a new little gadget called ActiveLink. it's a small little thingee that you wear on your body, either in your pocket, around your neck or clipped to your bra.  I bought it 5 days ago.  For the first week, you must just wear it as it is establishing your level of "normal" activity.  This week, all I am doing is wearing it and plugging it into the computer to charge.  After a week, it will generate a report of my activity levels - and the it will make weekly challenges to help me increase my activity levels!  I'm not sure how it all works right now, but I'm ready for this preliminary week to be over and to give this a shot!  I'll let you know how it's working!

I hope you're all having a great week.  I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Vegan Mini Kufte Ball Soup

Last week Ani came over for an impromptu visit since Eric was working late.  We were thinking of going out to dinner, but decided to cook together instead.  This is a fun soup to together. The broth has a nice tomatoey, lemony, minty base. It's pretty simple.

Kufta Balls:

1 cup of Cream of Wheat
1 cup of fine bulghur
1 Tbsp mint finely rubbed between your palms (I like it minty, but you can use more or less depending on your own preference )
2 heaping Tbsp of tomato paste
1 cup of water
1-2 tbsp of roasted red pepper appetizer…I used it cuz I had it in the fridge.  You can use Ajvar, or red pepper paste..or more tomato sauce. 
Add salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all together and let it stand a few minutes and then knead it into a dough.  Roll it into small balls, like marbles (maybe a little larger) I counted that it made 108 balls.  Wet your hands if the dough starts sticking to them.

Put these balls in a pot of boiling water and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove after 15 minutes and transfer into the broth.

The Broth:

You’ll need another can of tomato paste
A can of garbanzo beans – OR – about a cup of small pasta
Dried mint
1-2 lemons
One big onion and some olive oil

Brown one large onion in some olive oil.  Add enough water to make broth for the family ( I did about 8-9 cups for our batch).  Add a can of tomato paste plus whatever tomato paste you have left over from the kufte balls.  If you have red pepper paste add some of that and a couple tablespoons of mint powder.  Simmer about 10 minutes this and adjust the seasonings.  Add about 3 big cloves of mashed garlic, one can of garbanzo beans (or you can sub out for some small type of macaroni).  Add the cooked kufte balls, and the juice of one or two lemons and boil for another 5 or 10 minutes.