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So I’m having a good week, although I still haven’t exercised much. I did do a quick Yoga wake-up video on Thursday, but that’s it. We planned to go to yoga on Friday but the boss kept us in a meeting too long and we missed the beginning. Angela (a colleague) has worked out a room for us in our building that has a TV & DVD player so that we can exercise on our lunch hour. We plan on doing this twice a week until it is warmer outside and then we plan on running outside, all with the goal of running a 5K this year. Yes, I know that was part of my goals for last year, but now I have a training buddy, so I’ll be more inclined to complete this.

I’ve had good food days this week. Last night was a snacking struggle. I wanted mass quantities of something sweet, but that’s hard to find for very low points. I ended up making some sauce out of peanut butter and chocolate syrup and pouring it over a bag of light popcorn. 7 points. Not terrible, but more than I wanted to spend on a snack.

Today’s recipes are three of my oldies but goodies: Two chili recipes (one complex, one easy) plus a family favorite that I make all the time, Spicy Cabbage. Even non-cabbage eaters will like this, guaranteed.

Cajun-inspired Chili
1/2 lb. pork loin, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 links of andouille sausage
1 green pepper, chopped
2 banana peppers, chopped
3 small or 1 large onion, chopped
2 cans of kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can condensed tomato soup
3 cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
3 c. of water
2 packets of chili seasoning, whatever kind you prefer
1 tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot
salt & pepper, to taste

Throw it all into a crock pot and cook on high for six hours. Makes 10 cups at 4 points per cup.

Chili
2 tbsp. light butter
1 c. chopped onion
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded & sliced
12 oz. 95% ff ground sirloin
12 oz (1 bag) frozen cubed squash
29 oz. chili-seasoned canned tomatoes (I used Del Monte)
16 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz. mushrooms, drained

Seasoning:
Chili powder
Paprika
Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions & celery and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Add jalapeno. Allow to soften, about 5 mintues.

2. Add the ground beef and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the beef to brown with the vegetables, stirring frequently.

3. Add the squash, tomatoes, bean and mushrooms. Add seasoning at this point. I don’t measure seasoning, I season to taste, so this might take some experimentation on your part. Allow to come to a full boil, then turn the heat down and let the chili simmer for 20 minutes.

The whole pot is 25 points. Makes six 1 1/2-cup servings, for a total of 4 points per serving.

Spicy Cabbage
1 small head of cabbage, sliced
2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsps. cajun seasoning

Put all ingredients in a big ole soup pot and cook for 20 minutes or so on medium, stirring occasionally. 1 point per cup.

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Let’s start with the food…

Daily Points Goal: 20

Yogurt 2
Apple 1

Lean Cuisine 5

Salad made of all veggies 1
Low-fat Sweet & Sour Dressing 1
Hamburger 5 oz cooked, 95% lean beef 5
English Muffin Bun 1
White Beans & Rice 3

Popcorn 3
Chocolate & PB Chips 4

Total Points: 25
Remaining Weekly Points: 20

Exercise: 0

Still no exercise. My knee is a mess and I haven’t been sleeping. Although, if I could exercise, I would sleep better. The old Catch 22. I guess that part of the plan will start next week. Food is going well this week though, I’ve cooked every night and returned to eating more veggies, so I feel good about the food (and the food makes me feel good.)

I made terrific, perfectly cooked hamburgers last night. They were completely juicy and tasty. The key to this is to get your heat at a perfect medium-high, then let them cook for 5 minutes on each side and DON’T FLIP THEM, OR SQUISH THEM OR ANYTHING. Seriously. Leave them alone. As usual, I served them on a 100 Calorie English Muffin (1 point instead of 3 or more for a hamburger bun.) I’ve also become a giant fan of Tony Cachere’s various Rice & Beans mixes. They have less than 175 calories per serving, more than 5 grams of fiber and taste AMAZING. You can eat any of them for less then 3 points per serving. Add beef, or sausage and have yourself a delicious high fiber main dish. His seasoning is the bomb, too, and I thank Natalie for that. You should all thank her, too.

Hamburgers

12 oz. ground sirloin (95% lean)
2 tbsp. light bbq sauce
2 tbsp. Italian-style breadcrumbs
Salt & Pepper

Mix beef, bbq sauce and breadcrumbs together by hand. Pat into two super giant patties. Heat a grill pan on medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes each side. Salt & pepper to taste.

Serve on a 1 pt English Muffin with relish, mayo, mustard, etc. but don’t forget to add the points for these things!

Burger Patty: 5 pts.

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So although New Years was a complete food-a-thon, I’m feeling the power of a new year and am ready to get off this 7 pounds or so.  I actually haven’t ben on a scale today, so I’m not quite sure what I weigh.  On New Years Eve, I was only up 4 and was okay with that.  I’m guessing now that I’m up 7.  I’m still okay with that. 

Today’s food feature is ground beef!  Yay beef!  A lot of people avoid beef when they are dieting because of its high fat content.  But extremely lean beef (less than 7% fat) is only 1 point per ounce, just like ground turkey breast or chicken breast.  Oh and by the way, watch out for ground turkey.  If you already don’t know this, anything simply labelled “Ground Turkey” can be made up of all sorts of parts, dark & light meat and possibly organ meat and is full of fat and is 2 points per ounce.  Only things labelled Ground Turkey Breast are low in fat and points. 

Anyway, today we’re having Whole Wheat Pasta with Meat Sauce.  I’m really lightening this up by putting a carrot and celery through the chopper and adding them to the meat.  It’s great filler and I think it makes the meat taste fuller and better. If you’re a real bulk eater (like I am) add another stalk of celery or more onion.  I’ve been making this for years (since I was in high school) but I’ve recently modified the recipe to be lighter, eliminating wine and some of the fat.  It’s still not very light but I couldn’t make more changes without seriously compromising the flavor.  This is a time-consuming one, it takes over two hours with all of the chopping.  Most of the time is spent just letting the sauce simmer though. 

Meat Sauce

1 tbsp butter
4 tbsp olive oil
1 c. onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp ham, finely chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
2 stalk of celery, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
16 oz. 5% fat / 95 lean ground beef
salt & pepper
1/2 c. skim milk
1 14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes with their juice (I like the fire-roasted, makes it spicier)
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp. thyme

1.  Heat the butter & oil in a big saucepan.  Add the onion, cok for 4 minutes.  Add the ham and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the carrot, celery & garlic.  Cook another 4 minutes or so.

2.  Crumble the beef into the veggies.  Cook until no longer pink.  Season with salt & pepper.

3.  Pour in the milk and cook until it evaporates.

4.  Stir in the tomatoes and the herbs and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer, uncovered for about 1 1 /2 hours. 

7 points for 1/ 4 of the recipe.  Serve over 2 oz. whole wheat  pasta for a 10 point dinner.  Add some brocolli or something to make it a veggie filled meal.

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