Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday Menus: July 30

Here is this week's menu, with recipes to follow. I often simplify or rearrange things in the actual cooking, as events come up, but this gives me a plan for my shopping list and prep-aheads. I usually only end up making 5 or 6 of the entrees, because of going out or over to someone's house for dinner, or eating leftovers some nights when the kids are all out and it is just DH and me.

I usually have a protein shake for breakfast, or some kind of eggs. For lunch, I rotate a few basic 'lunch of the week' ideas. In that way, things stay simple and uncomplicated.

For dinner, I try to make a basic meal the whole family can eat, with variations.
I add the higher-carb, higher-calorie menu items for my non-Kimkins family [in square brackets].

B: Chocolate Peanut Caramel Protein Shake
L: Instone Banana Cream Protein Pudding
D: Fabulous Chicken Fajitas, [Tortillas, Rice, Beans]

B: Strawberry Protein Shake
L: Ziploc Omelet
D: Sweet Mustard Tilapia (or Salmon), Bibb Lettuce Salad with Red Onion and Roasted Asparagus, [Steamed Baby Red Potatoes]

B: Cappuccino Protein Shake
L: Tuna Salad on 'Revolution Bread'
D: Egg Foo Yung, Fried "Cauli" Rice [Fried Rice, Seasonal Fruit Salad]

B: Ziploc Omelet
L: Chocolate Cappuccino Protein Pudding
D: Vegetable - Beef Soup, [Dinner Rolls]

B: Hazelnut Cream Protein Shake
L: Vegetable-Beef Soup
D: Meat'za [Pizza]

B: Cherry Lemonade Protein Shake
L: Tuna Salad on 'Revolution Bread', Celery Sticks
D: Buffalo Chicken Tenders, Broccoli Slaw, Mock Margaritas, [Seasoned Potato Wedges]

B: Double Chocolate Protein Shake
L: Easy Brunch Frittata, Spinach-Mushroom Salad, [Potatoes O'Brien, Croissants, Seasonal Fruit]
D: Root Beer Float Protein Shake

Drinks: Water, Coffee, Iced tea/Sugar-free Lemonade, Green tea, Peach tea
Snacks and Desserts: Sugar-free gelatin, Sugar-free slushies/snowcones/popsicles (homemade)

Fabulous Fajitas

Fabulous Fajitas


4 breasts Chicken, boneless, skinless, cut into thin strips
1 Tbs Corn oil (or other, like cooking spray)
2 Tbs Lemon juice -- (or lime juice)
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Seasoned salt
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1/2 tsp Oregano -- ground
1/2 tsp Thyme -- (opt)
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/8 tsp Liquid smoke flavor (Adds a nice touch!)

1- 2 lg Bell pepper , thinly sliced (mixed, red and green pref.)
1 lg Onion, cut into thin wedges
1/2 cup Salsa (homemade or purchased is fine – check carbs)

Options For the Family
1 med Tomato -- chopped or wedged (opt)
1 med Avocado -- peeled, chopped (opt.)
1/2 cup Sour cream -- (opt)
8 fajita Tortillas -- warm


Earlier in day or day before:
Combine chicken strips with corn oil, lemon juice, and spices.
Marinate in refrigerator 8 to 10 hours. (May marinate shorter time.)

Heat generous amount of nonstick spray in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.
Saute onions and bell peppers until almost tender, about 8 minutes.
Remove onions and peppers; set aside.

Spray skillet again, and heat over medium-high heat.
Saute chicken (discarding marinade) until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Combine onions and peppers with chicken, stirring to heat.

Delicious as is or over finely shredded lettuce or wrapped in lettuce leaves for Kimkins. Serve with salsa.
For family: serve with warmed tortillas, tomato, avocado, salsa, and sour cream on the side.

May use thinly sliced beefsteak instead of chicken.

Note: For QUICKER version, omit lengthy marinade. Saute onions and peppers; add marinade ingredients EXCEPT corn oil and lemon juice, cooking 1 minute; add 1/4 cup broth with the chicken, and cook all together.

Sweet Mustard Tilapia (or Salmon)

Something different, and easy to make! You can vary the sweetness, spiciness, and seasonings to taste.

Sweet Mustard Tilapia


fish fillets, about 6 oz. per serving (tilapia, salmon, or whatever you like)

butter substitute spray (opt.)

2 Tbs. mustard per 6 oz. serving (dijon, yellow, or combination, as you like)

1 Tbs. sweetener, or equivalent per 6 oz. serving (1 Tbs. granulated splenda, or 2 packets, or 2 drops of liquid sucrolose) or to taste

1/2 - 1 tsp. other seasonings, as desired, such as parsley, dill, basil, paprika, pepper flakes, tarragon, etc. (per 6 oz. serving)

lemon slices or wedges, if desired

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray a baking sheet lightly with non-stick spray. Cover with foil, and then spray foil. (Makes clean-up a snap!)

2) Place fillets on foil-lined baking sheet.

3) Spray lightly with butter substitute spray, if desired.

4) Mix together mustard(s), sweetener, and any desired seasonings, to taste.

5) Brush on fish fillets.

6) Bake at 400 degrees F. for 12 minutes.

Can be pan-fried, instead.

I use a combination of mustards, for more flavor.

Egg Foo Yung

These quick little Chinese egg pancakes are a great way to use up little bits of leftover meat. Try chicken, turkey bacon, pork, ham, shrimp, beef, or a combo - whatever you have will work! Just about any combination of vegetables you have on hand will work, too. Very versatile!

Egg Foo Yung
Makes 4 Servings, 2 Patties Each


8 eggs
1 - 2 cups cooked meat, shredded or diced
2 - 4 cups of low-carb vegetables, sliced or diced small
(examples: 1 cup diced celery, 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 1 cup mung bean sprouts, 1 cup sliced green onions. Also good with julienned green beans or snow peas or asparagus, diced bell peppers, shredded zucchini or cabbage, chopped fresh baby spinach, bamboo shoots, etc.)
salt and pepper, to taste
ginger, 1 tsp. (opt.)
soy sauce, as desired


1) Spray a skillet with non-stick spray, heat, and stir fry vegetables just until heated through.

2) Add meat and continue to stir fry until heated through. Remove from pan; drain in colander if needed. Set aside.

3) Wipe out pan, spray and heat again.

4) Lightly beat eggs, ginger, salt, pepper and 1 - 2 Tsp. of soy sauce, if desired.

5) Combine egg mixture evenly with veggie/meat mixture, stir together and drop by large spoonfuls in medium hot non-stick skillet. Brown on both sides, like a pancake. (This should make 8 large patties.) Serve with soy sauce (or foo yung sauce for family).

Foo Yung Sauce (for family)
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 teaspoons corn starch (or ThickenThin not/Starch thickener - low-carb!)
1 teaspoon vinegar (opt.)
1 teaspoon soy sauce - or to taste

Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small sauce pan.
Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat and continue cooking until slightly thickened.
Serve over the egg foo yung.

Fried Cauli-Rice

Grated cauliflower is a low-carb stand-in for rice in this fried 'rice' dish - at about 5 carbs per cup!

I like to keep my dinner carbs to 6 - 8 per meal. Depending on how many and which vegetables you put in the Egg Foo Yung, very much of this fried cauli-'rice' might put your carbs up too high for a meal. In that case, you can go lighter on your foo yung veggies, if you need to.

With enough added protein, this dish can also make a nice meal of its own. (Another good use for those leftovers!)

Fried Cauli-'Rice"
Makes 6 - 8 servings

1 head cauliflower (grates to about 7 cups)
4 - 6 green onions
1 - 2 cloves garlic, or 1 tsp. garlic powder (opt.)
1 tsp ginger (opt.)
4 Tbs. light soy sauce, or to taste
4 eggs, beaten (or 1 cup Egg Beaters)
oil spray

To make it a main dish:
cooked meat, diced (chicken, pork loin, turkey bacon, ham, beef, shrimp, etc., or a combo - leftovers work well)
any other low-carb veggies, as desired


1) Using a food processor, process fresh cauliflower until it is the size of rice, either using the plain steel blade or the shredder blade.

Lacking that, you can shred it with a hand-held grater, or just chop it finely with a knife (if you are very patient!).

2) Microwave it in a covered dish. Do not add water; use just the moisture in the cauliflower. Cauliflower will become mushy or gummy if too wet.

This can easily be done ahead of time.

3)Spray a wok or large skillet with non-stick spray and heat. (You can use a small amount of oil, but be sparing, because the cauliflower will soak it up and not taste good.)

4) Fry minced garlic (or garlic powder) with finely diced white part of onions for approximately 1 minute.

5) Add grated cauliflower and fry for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly.

6) Add soy, ginger, diced green onion tops, and pre-cooked diced meat. Stir to mix well and brown a bit.

7) Push mixture to one side of pan. Spray with more oil as needed, and scramble eggs in empty side of pan until done but still moist.

8) Stir eggs into 'rice' remove from heat, and serve.

Stores and re-heats beautifully.

Low-Carb Vegetable - Beef Soup

My husband and I have a tradition from our early days as a young Navy couple, namely Day-Before-Payday soup! It usually involved whatever meat was lurking, some onions and canned tomatoes, and any likely veggies lingering in the crisper drawer or freezer, along with Italian herbs. (He is still convinced I always forgot to take the bay leaves out on purpose, and somehow always snuck them into his bowl.) It was always a little different, but almost always wonderful.

Well, when low-carbing, we have to leave out potatoes, barley, corn, carrots, peas, and pasta, but that stills leaves us a delectable soup base to work with.


Low-Carb Vegetable-Beef Soup
Serves 12 (Great for freezer!)


3 lbs. beef roast or steak (rump or round), cut up for soup
6 - 8 cups water (adjust as needed for thickness you like)
6 - 8 beef bouillon cubes or powdered bouillon
(or, use beef stock or packaged beef broth in place of water and bouillon)
1 large can tomatoes, diced or chopped the way you like them
1 onion, chopped
3 - 4 celery stalks, sliced (I like to use the leaves, too - good flavor)
1/2 head cabbage, chopped small (or more - I really like cabbage!)
1 bag (1 lb. or so, to suit) frozen green beans (or you could use chopped spinach or sliced zucchini, etc., or a combo)
2 bay leaves
2 Tbs. Italian Seasoning, or to taste
1 tsp.pepper
few shakes of garlic powder, to taste (opt.)
1 - 2 Tbs. of Worcestershire sauce (opt.)


Two options here.

1) You can brown beef in small amount of oil in big non-stick sprayed pot, then add onions and celery to saute till limp, then add the rest and simmer for hours on the stovetop until meat is tender and flavors are mingled. Adjust seasonings near end of cooking.

2) Throw it all in a big crockpot, and cook on low 6 - 8 hours, until tender and good. Adjust seasonings near end of cooking.



Well, honestly, there may be no tasty way to get these counts as low as I might like. Nevertheless, when the family has called for pizza delivery, and you REALLY want some pizza, it is worth it!

Instead of a dough crust with meat topping, this uses a meat crust. Hey - it works!

Makes 8 servings


1&1/4 lb. ground meat - lean beef, or white turkey, or lean pork, or combo
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or to taste)
1 tsp. fennel seed (opt. - gives a sausage taste)
few shakes of red pepper flakes (opt. - likewise)

1 cup sugar-free spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce (like Hunt's canned sauce - check label)
8 - 12 oz. cheese (I like a combo of low-fat part-skim shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan/Romano)
1 - 2 cups low-carb, low-fat pizza toppings such as mushrooms, green pepper, onions.
(If you use canned mushrooms, be sure to drain very well.)


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2) Mix the meat, salt and spices together. Spread the meat out on a baking sheet with sides to catch the grease. Pat the meat thinly and evenly, without any holes, in an oblong with rounded corners. (It does not need to cover the whole pan.)

3) Bake in a 375° F. oven for about 10 minutes. Pour off/blot off the grease.

4) Cover the meat with sugar-free pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce.

5) Cover with cheese and your choice of pizza toppings. (You may want to saute the veggies first in non-stick spray, or microwave-steam them briefly, if you like them very tender and well-cooked on your 'meatza'.)

6) Return to oven briefly to melt the cheese to desired doneness and color.

7) Let sit for a few minutes before slicing.

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

When it is a lazy family game night, and everyone else is digging into heaping piles of Costco's buffalo wings, it sure is nice to have an easy, pleasing low-carb. low-calorie alternative!

Buffalo Chicken Tenders
Serves 4

1 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken breast tenders
2 tbsp. butter or butter substitute (opt. - still good without it)
1/4 cup hot pepper sauce, like Frank's Red Hot Sauce


1) Combine butter substitute, hot sauce, and chicken (like in a ziplock bag).
Marinate in refrigerator for 20 minutes. (Marinating is not necessary if you are in a hurry - just makes them a bit spicier, I think.)

2) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray for easy clean-up.

3) Bake 12 - 16 minutes, until done.

4) Serve with extra hot sauce, to heat it up, and/or with celery sticks, to cool it down. (If you can spare the calories, a lighter ranch or bleu cheese dressing is customary, but not essential.)

Leftovers go well atop a salad.

Easy Brunch Frittata

A frittata is a laid-back Italian version of an omelet, and can be made with almost endless variety, depending on what you like and have on hand.

This one just couldn't be much more simple. You can whip it together quickly when you walk in the door, and it will be just about ready to serve by the time you've set the table and poured the drinks!

Easy Oven-Baked Frittata
Serves 4


1 cup (or more) of diced low-carb vegetables (onions, green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, etc.)
6 eggs
dash of pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar, mozzarella or other cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

1) Sauté the vegetables until soft. Alternately, you can steam the vegetables in the microwave until they are tender.

2) Beat the eggs, pepper, salt, and Parmesan cheese together. Spray a heavy, oven-proof skillet with a generous coating of non-stick spray. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and scatter the vegetables on top.

3) Bake for 15 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Immediately sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top and let it melt.

4) Slide your frittata onto a plate and serve.

This is so good with leftover roasted asparagus, shallots, and yellow and red bell peppers! It would be easy to include some prosciutto, Canadian bacon, lean ham, etc., too. You can vary the seasonings, also, with a smidge of parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme.

Although it can stand up well as the centerpiece of an elegant brunch, a lovely frittata really doesn't need much besides a simple salad (and maybe some bread for the non-low carbers).

Master the frittata, and you can always have a satisfying repast on the table with little fuss.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Butter Substitutes?

It can be problematic to find a balance between wholesome, real ingredients and less-than-ideal ingredients that serve to help get the weight off now. The butter substitutes like Parkay spray are a good example of that compromise.

Parkay Spray claims to taste like butter (though it is more like margarine to my taste), no cholesterol, no trans fat, in fact no fat at all --- or so claims the product label.

But, what's in it? Water, Soybean Oil, Buttermilk, Salt, Soy Lecithin And Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids (Emulsifiers), Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate And Sodium Benzoate (To Preserve Freshness), Lactic Acid (Acidulant), Artificial Flavor, Colored With Beta Carotene (Source Of Vitamin A), Vitamin A Palmitate.

Well, despite the scary names, most of those ingredients are kinda/sorta OK. But, how can it really be zero calories and zero fat with oil and buttermilk in there?

Once again, we run afoul of labeling loopholes. Yes, in the serving size listed on the package ( 1 - 5 sprays) the product is legally zero. But, it is not actually zero in any quantity.

In fact, Parkay Spray has .8 calories in 1 spray and 4 calories in 5 sprays. Fat content is .085 grams in 1 spray, .4 grams in 5 sprays. That means that in the entire bottle there are 832 total calories from 93 grams of fat.

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
is similar.

So, a few sprays for cooking gives a good calorie savings over larger amounts of butter or oil, and is probably worth the 'real food' compromise during the weight loss phase. Don't be fooled into thinking it is really 'free', though!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Winning Weight Loss Newsletter to Debut

First, thank you to all who have subscribed to the new Winning Weight Loss newsletter! I really appreciate the interest!

I am at work on our first edition right now, so you will get it soon!

Just a reminder --- if you did not find an email asking you to confirm your subscription, please check your 'spam' or 'bulk' folder in your email program.

Even if you clicked the button on here to subscribe, I cannot send you a newsletter unless you also click the link from the email you should have received. Otherwise, I'd be guilty of spamming, and I don't want to do that. It's a simple click, no hassle, and you can always opt out at any time.

If you can't find it, please try subscribing again. I don't want you to miss your first edition! Right now, we have 12 subscribers pending confirmation, 3 whose email addresses were somehow undeliverable, and 20 who are good to go. Not bad for a week! Thanks so much!

I used to publish a monthly print newsletter, so a weekly ezine is a new venture but not totally alien to me. It should be fun and helpful, I hope. It will help me have an outlet and focus in reaching goal and then maintaining, and I will do my very best to make it helpful to you, as well! I will probably experiment a little bit, as I learn my way, but we can enjoy the process together.

My intention is to share a menu and recipes for the week, along with a few good tips, tools, strategies, or thoughts. I will post most of these later to the website, but newsletter subscribers will get first peek, in case you want to include a few of my ideas in your planning and shopping for the week.

Hey, just a weekly reminder to stick to plan (or jump back on) might come in handy some day --- for all of us! We're all in this together!

Be watching your inbox!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Virtual Model (Tuesday's Tips and Tools)

Have you tried

It lets you make and save models of yourself at different sizes.

Here is my virtual model at 222 lbs., 136 lbs., and 118 lbs.

You can even 'try on' various outfits and swimwear, and rotate them to view from different angles. Fun and motivating!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sonic Drive-In, Low-Carb Style

Though hardly fine dining, Sonic is one of those places just about anyone who lives with driving distance of one ends up at sometimes. It's just so convenient when you are out and about.

We stopped there for a quick bite this weekend, and I was glad I had prepared myself with a handy guide to what-to-order-where.

Lots of low-carbers know to order a burger or grilled chicken, and just toss the bun and any carby go-withs. I have often done that. I am often skeptical of what might be injected into or sauced onto some of the meats, though. I will usually get a salad if I can, just because I do like my veggies, and appreciate the fiber and the freshness. Many fast food salads can cost hundreds of calories and 13 - 19 carbs or more, though, so do not assume that just because it is a salad it is safe diet food. A fully dressed Caesar with croutons and cheese is not much different from a cheeseburger, by the time you add it all up.

Here is an online nutritional guide to Sonic Drive-In.

I ended up choosing the Grilled Chicken Salad, listed at 19 carbs. However, that includes the crouton packet which I tossed, the onion ring which I gave to my teen, and the grated carrots which I scooped out and left alone. I got it with a packet of Light Ranch Dressing, which I didn't bother to use, because the warm chicken had semi-melted the grated cheese, and it actually tasted quite 'dressed' enough just from that. Altogether very satisfying!

I ordered iced tea, because it is normally my stand-by when at a restuarant, but the diet limeade or diet cherry limeade would also have been decent choices.

So, if there is a Sonic near you, plan ahead!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

Body image is a funny thing. I wonder how many of us truly perceive our appearance in the same way as others see us. More to the point, I wonder how many of us are content with our body image.

Some people always think they are fat, even when they are so painfully thin that they are unhealthy. Clearly, that is disordered thinking. Yet plenty of others, especially women, are just never satisfied with their appearance, and don't seem to know exactly when to quit losing weight. After focusing on losing weight for so long, their imperfections are all they see when they look in the mirror.

On the other hand, some people always seem to carry a very positive self-perception, or at least a realistic one. Statistics say this is more likely to be the case with men.

I have experienced it both ways. I have had times of perceiving myself as both smaller and larger than I actually was, and I am working to adjust my perceptions to match reality.

I remember many years and many babies ago, in an earlier post-pregnancy weight loss effort, getting down to the weight I had set as my goal, yet thinking I needed to lose more off my hips and thighs. When I look back now at pictures, I can see that I was at a good weight, maybe even too slender in my upper body, but, yes, a little bigger on the bottom. I realize now I needed more toning, not more weight loss. In fact, had I worked out more, I probably could have carried a few more pounds very successfully. But, in truth, I will probably always have more than my fair share of curves in some places, so I might as well accept and enjoy that. I gave up the quest for ideal perfection years ago!

Even now, though, as I have lost weight, I have been surprised at the sizes I end up buying. I still tend to reach for clothing a size or two too big. I have gotten used to my bigger body in baggier clothes, and just can't quite wrap my mind around being small yet. But, I'm getting there!

But, the reverse was also true as the scale was on the way up. I would bruise my hips bumping into things, because I just did not realize I was that big! The pounds piled silently on while I wasn't watching.

I guess, for me, it is not a disordered body image, as much as it is lag time. Whether I am getting bigger or smaller, it takes a while for my mind to match the mirror.

For now, I can see myself much more objectively in a photograph than I can in the mirror. I suppose that is because I can remove myself a little farther from the moment, and take a 'big picture' view.

So, my 'reality check' is to wear clothes that fit, instead of being baggy, and to take more frequent pictures of myself, which is something I studiously avoided at my higher weights. The camera will be a more objective set of eyes than the ones looking back at me in the mirror.

For those struggling with body image, here is some helpful advice from Improving Body Image © by Judy Lightstone:

Developing a Healthy Body Image

Here are some guidelines (adapted from BodyLove: Learning to Like Our Looks and Ourselves, Rita Freeman, Ph.D.) that can help you work toward a positive body image:

1. Listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry.
2. Be realistic about the size you are likely to be based on your genetic and environmental history.
3. Exercise regularly in an enjoyable way, regardless of size.
4. Expect normal weekly and monthly changes in weight and shape
5. Work towards self acceptance and self forgiveness- be gentle with yourself.
6. Ask for support and encouragement from friends and family when life is stressful.
7. Decide how you wish to spend your energy -- pursuing the "perfect body image" or enjoying family, friends, school and, most importantly, life.

Think of it as the three A's....

Attention -- Refers to listening for and responding to internal cues (i.e., hunger, satiety, fatigue).

Appreciation -- Refers to appreciating the pleasures your body can provide.

-- Refers to accepting what is -- instead of longing for what is not.

Good advice!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Coleslaw with a Kick

Here is a lighter-tasting, non-mayonnaise variety, for a nice change of pace.
The calories and carbs are a little high for a salad, so it goes well with a low-calorie, low-carb entree like fish.

Coleslaw with a Kick
Makes 10 servings.


1 head Cabbage -- shredded
1 med Bell pepper, Red (pref.) -- cut into matchstick-thin strips
1 med Onion, Red -- thinly sliced
3/4 cup Cilantro -- chopped

1/3 cup Lime juice
1/2 tsp Cumin
1 clove Garlic -- minced
1/2 tsp Hot pepper sauce -- (Tabasco or similar)
1/2 cup Olive oil


Up to 8 hrs. earlier:
In medium bowl, whisk lime juice with seasonings.
Gradually whisk in oil.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Chill, covered.

In large bowl, combine vegetables for slaw.
Re-whisk dressing
Toss slaw with enough dressing to coat. (Lightly - not too much!)
Season with salt and pepper, etc., as desired.

Nutrition Info
For entire recipe (all dressing used): 1307 calories, 112 g fat, 78 carbs, 17 g protein
Per serving: 131 calories, 11 g fat, 7.8 g carbs, 1.7 g protein

Notes: The olive oil is high in calories, but healthy in moderation.
The cabbage is surprisingly high in protein.
For Maintenance, add 3 medium carrots, peeled and grated, for extra color, flavor, and nutrition. (Carrots are too carby for our purposes now, though.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Italian Beef

Some foods have a memory with them. My grandfather was an Italian immigrant, and I spent a lot of my formative years in Illinois. This sandwich was the house specialty of the restaurant where I worked when I was 16. It was my first real job, and I wasn't a very good waitress, but my now-husband thought I was cute, and persuaded the boss not to fire me. A taste of this Chicago-area favorite always takes me back in time.

(This is a lazy, short-cut version. Someday, I'll post my original, old-style recipe.)


* 1 (4 pound) boneless sirloin tip roast, halved
* 2 (.7 ounce) packages Italian salad dressing mix (like Good Seasons)
* 2 cups water (or low-sodium beef broth)
* 1 (16 ounce) jar pepperoncini peppers (pre-sliced into rings is nice!)
* 16 hoagie buns, split (for the family - we'll skip that part for weight loss)


1. Place roast in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Combine the salad dressing mix and water; pour over roast. Add half (or to taste) of the pepper rings, including some juice. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until meat is tender.
2. Remove meat; shred with a fork and return to slow cooker. If desired, add more peppers, or adjust seasoning; heat through.
3. To serve, we will have it with or over romaine lettuce, like an Italian Beef Caesar Salad.
For the family or guests, spoon 1/2 cup or so of the meat mixture onto each bun, spooning a little juice in there, too. Serve some of the meat broth au jus as well, along with any remaining peppers.

This makes a BIG batch, 16 servings, so you may want to cut it in half. I like having some in the freezer, for an easy Saturday night or Sunday afternoon.

Nutrition Info
For entire recipe (meat and all peppers, no bun): 2424 calories, 67 g fat, 37 g carbs, 386 g protein
Per serving (meat and all peppers, no bun): 151 calories, 4.2 g fat, 2.3 g carbs, 24 g protein

Faux Fish Tacos

These may sound weird, but if you've ever had and enjoyed a fish taco, Baja style, try it my way, too.
Traditional fish tacos are firm white fillets deep-fried in beer batter, served in soft corn tortillas (usually 2, because it can get messy) with shredded cabbage, crema, salsa of choice, and squeeze of lime. Salsa options generally include pico de gallo, chipotle salsa, tomatillo/ avocado salsa, etc. This is typical example:

As an ex-San Diegan, I was hankering for fish tacos lately, and tried to think of a low-carb, low-cal, Kimkins-friendly alternative. This was the best I could do, but we all liked it. The key is serving and eating it freshly made, for that interplay of contrasts between hot and cold, soft and crisp, spicy and mild.

Mix up a little white sauce, and set aside. (Recipe below.)

Mix up (or buy) a batch of salsa of choice. (Recipe below.)

Get a head of green cabbage, and wash and trim some nice big leaves. Drain and set aside. (I cut a little inverted V-shape to get out just the tough part of the ribs.)

Pan-grill or bake tilapia fillets (or any mild white fish you have) with a little lemon pepper and garlic powder.

Place hot cooked fish on cold crisp cabbage leaf, drizzle with white sauce and salsa, squeeze on a lime wedge, then wrap it up, and enjoy!

I served it with lime wedges, pico de gallo, extra cilantro, chopped onion, and radish and avocado slices (plus corm tortillas) for the family.

Here's my old recipe for the sauce. I made it this time with light mayo and Calorie Countdown dairy beverage.
(You can also make it with equal parts mayo/ yogurt or mayo/sour cream.)
I sometimes like to add a smidge of horseradish. Tabasco, or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You could add some sugar-free relish, too.

Becky's Fish Taco Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise (I used light mayo.)
1/4 cup milk (I used Hood Calorie Countdown.)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Becky's Salsa:
1 (or more) garlic cloves, peeled and minced (I like more!)
6 tomatoes, ripe, diced
1/2 onion, minced
2 Tbs cilantro leaves, chopped, stems removed
2 serrano chilies, seeded and chopped (or jalepenos)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

I might try the egg crepe 'tortillas', or the versions with a little natural whey powder for some texture.

Or, I might also just serve the fish atop finely shredded cabbage with sauce and condiments and call it close enough.

Chicken Piccata

Tender, thin chicken breasts are served in a lovely sauce of lemony garlic butter, with capers. If I go to an Italian restaurant, this is almost always my pick. In most cases, the chicken is dredged lightly in flour, so I always ask for them to skip that. I have adapted this recipe to be both low-cal and low-carb.

Chicken Piccata
Serves 4 - 6. depending on portion size


2 lbs. (about 4 pieces) boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
3/4 tsp. paprika (optional- for coating and color since we are not dredging in flour)
2 tsp. olive oil OR some olive oil cooking spray
1 tsp. butter OR some butter-substitute spray
1/4 cup white wine (opt.- or use additional 1/4 cup chicken broth)
1/2 cup chicken broth (or 3/4 cup if omitting wine)
1 - 2 tablespoon lemon juice (depending on how you like it - start with 1 and taste)
1 - 2 Tbs. capers. drained (to taste - start with 1)
1 Tbs. fresh flat leafed parsley, chopped (optional garnish)
lemon slices (optional garnish)


Flatten the chicken breasts (between waxed paper or plastic wrap) so they are about 1/4 inch thick. Use a meat mallet if you have one. (If not, try a rolling pin or even the side of a soup can.)
Measure and combine the dry spices.
Measure out and have everything else at the ready.
Chop the parsley and slice a few slices of lemon, if using garnish.

1. Sprinkle and rub combined dry spices evenly on chicken.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. (Or, use olive oil spray in pan.)
3. Add the chicken breasts in a single layer and cook for about 4-5 minutes on the first side, until golden brown.
4. Turn the chicken to the second side. Add butter (or spray with butter flavor), white wine, and lemon juice, swirling around chicken to combine and scraping pan to deglaze (get up all the flavored bits). Cook about 1 minute.
5. Add chicken broth and capers. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes until chicken is no longer pink in the center (internal temperature should be 170 F.) and pan gravy has reduced.
6. Plate the chicken breasts. Spoon sauce over the top. Garnish and serve.

Variations: Make this picatta recipe with veal or pork instead of chicken. (Adjust cooking times.)

Nutrient Info
For entire recipe: 1181 calories, 35 g fat, 6 g carb, 189 g protein
Per chicken breast (1/4th recipe): 295 calories, 8.75 g fat, 1.5 g carbs, 47 g protein
Per 4 oz. portion (1/8th recipe): 148 calories, 4.4 g fat, .75 g carbs, 23.6 g protein

Using chicken broth in place of wine would save 36 calories for the entire recipe.
Using flavor sprays instead of oil and butter would save 88 calories for the recipe.
Combined savings from both changes would be 124 calories overall, 31 cals per chicken breast, 16 cals per 4-oz. portion.

Italian Wedding Soup

From Wikipedia: Wedding soup consists of green vegetables (usually endive and escarole or cabbage, lettuce, kale, and/or spinach) and meats (usually meatballs and/or sausage) in a clear chicken-based broth. Wedding soup sometimes contains pasta, noodles, cavatelli, lentils, or shredded chicken. The term "wedding soup" is a mistranslation of the Italian minestra maritata, which is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meats go well together.

I made a Kimkins-friendly variation with Honeysuckle ground white turkey and spinach.

Italian Wedding Soup
Servings: 8

2 pound extra-lean ground white turkey
1 Tbs. garlic powder
1 Tbs. dried parsley
1 Tbs. Italian Seasoning
4 Tbs. dried grated Parmesan/Romano cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste (maybe 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper)
dash of dried red pepper flakes, if desired

8 cups chicken broth
1 10 - oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained,(approx. 1 cup) OR 6 cups fresh spinach, washed, and chopped (I used a 16 oz. bag, because we like spinach!)
more Italian cheese for topping (opt.)

1) Mix all meatball ingredients, handling lightly. Adjust to taste. (You can sample by cooking up one little meatball first.)

2) Form into small meatballs. (I used a measuring spoon to scoop meatballs.)

3) Brown meatballs in skillet or in 350 degree oven on foil-lined baking sheet.

4) In large pot, heat broth to boiling.

5) Reduce heat. Add meatballs and spinach. simmer at least 20 minutes.

Use other green vegetables, like broccoli rabe, escarole, kale, zucchini, etc.
Use other meats, like Italian sausage.
Scramble one or two eggs (perhaps with 1 - 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan/Romano cheese) and pour slowly through a fork into boiling broth for an egg drop effect.

I served this with extra cheese for my family to add on top, and also a McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder for a flavor boost.
Reheats beautifully!

Nutrient Info
For Entire Recipe: 1504 calories, 37 g fat, 28 g carb, 254 g protein
Per Serving: 188 calories, 4.6 g fat, 3.5 g carb, 32 g protein

Adding more spinach or other greens will boost the carb count slightly, but also add more nutrition.

Spicy Pork Stir-Fry

This dish is a little more trouble and higher in carbs than what we might normally do for Kimkins, but it is a lovely meal for a special occasion or company!
(Go low on carbs the rest of the day, to make up for it. It's worth it)

Spicy Pork Stir-Fry
Serves 4


1 tablespoon medium-dry sherry (optional)
3 tablespoons soy sauce (reduced sodium suggested)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3/4 lb boneless pork tenderloin, thinly sliced,then cut into 2 by 1/4 inch strips
1 packet Splenda (or liquid equivalent)
2 tablespoons peanut oil (can reduce or eliminate by using non-stick spray)
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch thick strips
1/2 lb snow peas, trimmed
1 cup salted roasted cashews (for Maintenance only)

Ahead of time, if possible: Prep major ingredients.
Rinse veg. Trim ends off snow peas; slice peppers. Peel/mince ginger. Press garlic.
Slice meat into slices, then strips - best done when meat is slightly frozen.

Begin: Prep ingredients, if not done earlier.
Start rice for family, if needed.
Gather wok, knives, measuring cup and spoons, and ingredients.
Spray wok with non-stick spray.

1. Stir together sherry (if using), and only 1 Tbs. of the soy sauce, then stir in sesame oil.
2. Add pork, stirring to coat well, and let stand 10 minutes.
3. Stir together sweetener and remaining 2 Tbs. soy sauce.
4. Heat a wok (sprayed with non-stick spray) or large nonstick skillet over high heat until a bead of water dropped on cooking surface evaporates immediately.
5. Add only 1 tablespoons peanut oil, swirling wok to coat evenly, then stir-fry only 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes until fragrant, about 5 seconds.
6. Add bell pepper and stir-fry 2 minutes.
7. Add snow peas (and cashews, if using) and stir-fry until snow peas are crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes.
8. Transfer vegetables to a bowl.
9. Heat remaining 1 tablespoons peanut oil in wok until just smoking, then stir-fry remaining ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes until fragrant, about 5 seconds.
10. Add pork and stir-fry, separating strips, until browned and barely cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.
11. Add vegetables and sweetened soy sauce, then stir-fry until vegetables are just heated through, about 1 minute more.

Serve with rice for the family, and maybe cauli-rice, if you can afford to spend the carbs (maybe Maintenance?).
For those in Maintenance, add 1 cups of cashews in Step 7.(Or, cook them separately at that point, and add only to family/company portion.)

You can save calories by skipping peanut oil or reducing to 2 tsp. for flavor.

Nutrient Info:
For entire recipe, made with liquid sucrolose sweetener, without cashews:
923 calories, 49 g fat, 34 g carbs, 82 g protein
Per serving: 230.75 calories, 12.25 g fat, 8.5 carbs, 20.5 g protein

Using packet Splenda would add 3.5 calories and 1 g carb per serving.

Old Bay Baked Tilapia

Here is a quick meal that's easy on carbs and calories, and easy on the cook, too!

I bought SeaBest frozen tilapia fillets in a big (4 lb.) blue box from my WalMart SuperCenter. Each fillet comes individually wrapped, and thaws quickly. The box lists a serving size as 4 oz., approx. 1 fillet, but the fillets I have weighed generally run from 2.5 to 3.2 ounces. (If they are small, I have 2.)

2 (or more) tilapia fillets per person
Spray olive oil or butter replacement
Old Bay Seasoning
lemon slices or wedges, if desired

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spray a baking sheet lightly with non-stick spray. Cover with foil, and then spray foil. (Makes clean-up a snap!)

2) Place fillets on foil-lined baking sheet.

3) Spray with flavoring spray of choice, if desired, just enough for seasoning to adhere nicely.

4) Sprinkle with desired amount of Old Bay Seasoning.

5) Bake at 400 degrees F. for 12 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges and/or low-carb, low-cal tartar sauce, if desired.

I like it with my Coleslaw with a Kick.

The flavor spray and seasoning list 0 cals and carbs per this serving size. They actually have a tiny amount, not exactly zero, but not much.

Nutrient Info per 4 oz. tilapia, with 5 sprays of butter flavor:
102 calories, 1.4 g fat, 0 g carbs, 21 g protein

Add any counts for tartar sauce, etc.

Basic Egg Muffins

A batch of these long-time low-carb favorites make for a quick and handy out-the-door breakfast, packed lunch, or brunch.

They can be made with whole eggs, Egg Beaters - type products, or some combination.
With use of flavored Egg Beaters, they can go together really quickly, and be very low in fat and calories as well.

Basic Egg Muffins
Makes 18 muffins.

12 large eggs or 3 cups Egg Beaters

Optional additions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray.

2) Scramble 12 eggs in a large bowl, seasoning to taste (or use 3 cups Egg Beater-type product).

3) At this point, you can add any desired variations, such as:
chopped extra-lean ham or Canadian Bacon, etc.
finely-chopped and sauteed vegetables like onion, bell peppers, green chilies, etc.
grated cheese
hot sauce

4) Pour or spoon evenly into greased muffin tins, filling cups about 3/4 full.

5) Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

Muffins will rise while baking, but deflate slightly when removed from oven. This is normal.

Can be eaten warm or cold, or reheated briefly (30 seconds) in microwave.
Stores well in refrigerator. Packs nicely.

Nutrient counts will vary greatly depends on ingredients used.

For Basic Recipe, whole large eggs, no additions, 18 muffins made:
Entire recipe: 864 calories, 60 g fat, 7.2 g carb, 72 g protein
1 muffin: 48 calories, 3.34 g fat, .4 g carb, 4 g protein

For Basic Recipe, Egg Beaters, no other additions, 18 muffins made:
Entire recipe: 360 calories, 0 g fat, 7.2 g carb, 72 g protein
1 muffin: 20 calories, 0 g fat, .4 g carb, 4 g protein

Add the counts for any additions.

Texas Two-Step Chicken Recipe

This popular recipe couldn't be easier, and all my guys ate it up!

2 lbs. (or so) boneless chicken (I used skinless breasts for me, and skin-on thighs for my husband, to accommodate different tastes)

1 1/2 cups of Pace Picante Sauce, or similar

1 tbs. Dijon mustard

3 Tbs. granulated Splenda or equivalent (I used 6 drops of Sweet Water liquid sucrolose)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick spray.

2) Put the chicken in pan.

3) Mix the salsa, mustard, and sweetener together, and pour it over the chicken.

4) Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes or so.

That's it! Easy!

The sauce is great over salad (for Kimkins) or over rice (for the family).

Nutrient Info:
Per whole recipe: 936 calories, 16 g fat, 32 g carb, 152 g protein
Per 4 oz. portion: 117 calories, 2 g fat, 4 g carb, 19 g protein

With 4 bnls/skls chicken breasts, assuming 1 breast = 1 serving:
234 calories, 4 g fat, 8 g carb, 38 g protein

(Tip: If you use liquid sweetener, count the drops into a spoon first, and then add, so you do not accidentally oversweeten.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wednesday: Weighing In

Today, for the third day in a row, I weighed in at 130.5. That puts me at 1.5 lbs. down this past week. I know this close to my goal weight, I can expect it to be slowing down a little.

I was REALLY hoping to see the 120s! But, I often seem to get treacherously hung up at the threshold of each new lower decade. I do not really think that my body conspires to leave me lingering in the doorway of every new set of numbers . . . . but it feels like that when I step on the scale sometimes!

I guess some numbers just make me a little more impatient than others.

From 222 to 220 was easy, actually!
From there to the 210s was not too bad.
But, crossing that magical border from TWOderville to ONEderland --- now, that seemed to take FOREVER!

Oh, what a happy day that was! I celebrated in a healthy non-food way, with a professional bra fitting and an appointment with a hairdresser.

I have tried to do something positive to reward myself for each new transition. I wanted to enjoy the journey, and to develop a new self-image as I moved from morbidly obese to slim and trim.

190s? A bra-fitting, pretty new undies, and a trip to the hair salon.
180s? A manicure and tooth-whitening kit.
170s? T-Tapp exercise DVDs and a skin-brushing kit.
160s? New smaller clothes! (Up until then, I was 'shopping' in my storage boxes.)
150s? An inexpensive microdermabrasion kit for pretty skin.
140s? More new clothes, even smaller!
130s? A Needak Rebounder, and adorable new pajamas, in a size SMALL!
120s? We'll place a deposit on a cabin for the upcoming Kimkins Cruise in February!
Goal? (118) The rest of the Kimkins Cruise, and some MORE new clothes!

Bring it on!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How Many Calories? (Tuesday: Tips & Tools)

I have long heard the idea that we must all have a certain number of calories a day (usually 1200 or more for women, 1500 or more for men) to prevent going into starvation mode. I am just not sure that is the same number for everyone.

I am, it turns out, a little person. (Who knew?)

When I go to The Daily Plate Calorie Calculator and type in my age, height, and weight, then select the setting to lose a standard 2 lbs. per week, the program tells me that I would need to eat 687 calories a day to achieve that.

When I go to and use the standard Harris Benedict BMR (basal metabolic rate) equation to tell me how how many calories a day I will need to maintain my weight at goal, it generates a number of 1199 calories per day to maintain my body at rest.

That is usually how they calculate how many calories to give to someone in a coma.

My only offset option is to add activity and exercise, which I do. If I burn 400 more, I can eat 400 more, but the underlying physiological equation remains.

I think a great deal of what an individual needs will depend upon individual variables, like muscle mass and activity levels. Other things like thyroid function and so on are also personal variables. It seems that a given individual might actually use 10% to 30% more or fewer calories, depending on those factors.

A good rule of thumb for dieters is to start at the calorie level of your calculated BMR, adding in moderate exercise as able. After a while, you can see for yourself if that is an accurate level for you.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday: Menu for the Week, July 16

Monday is the day I write out my menu for the week, so here it is!
I often simplify or rearrange things in the actual cooking, as events come up, but this gives me a plan for my shopping list and prep-aheads.
For breakfast and lunch, I am listing my own ideas here, though I swap and change these freely. (I am not listing my family's breakfasts and lunches.)
For dinner, I try to make a basic meal the whole family can eat, with variations.
I add the higher-carb, higher-calorie menu items for my non-dieting family in [square brackets].
I intend to post and link some recipes and a shopping list later in the week.

B: Chocolate Protein Shake
L: Strawberry Protein Shake
D: Texas Two-Step Chicken, Spring Mix Salad, [Rice, Corn]

B: Cappuccino Protein Shake
L: Ham and Green Chili EggBeater Muffins
D: Baked Tilapia, Slaw, Roasted Asparagus, [Seasoned Potato Wedges]

B: Chocolate Peanut Caramel Protein Shake
L: Instone Banana Cream Protein Pudding
D: Spicy Pork Stir-Fry, Cauli-Rice,[Rice, Melon]

B: Fuzzy Navel Protein Shake
L: Ham and Green Chili EggBeater Muffins
D: Italian Wedding Soup, [Italian Rolls]

B: Mochaccino Protein Shake
L: Italian Wedding Soup
D: Chicken Piccata, Caesar Salad, [Angel-Hair Pasta, Rolls]

B: Cherry-Vanilla Protein Shake
L: Ham and Green Chili EggBeater Muffins
D: Faux Fish Tacos with Pico de Gallo, Mock Margaritas, [Tortilla Chips]

B: Pina Colada Protein Shake
L: Italian Beef [Sandwiches], Tomato-Basil Salad, [Garlic-Rosemary Potato Wedges]
D: Frappuccino

Drinks: Water, Coffee, Iced tea/Sugar-free Lemonade, Green tea, Peach tea
Snacks and Desserts: Sugar-free gelatin, Sugar-free slushies/snowcones/popsicles

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Chipotle! (This is how I get in trouble!)

Creamy, rich foods! My downfall. I would take that over sweets any day!

We decided to go to Chipotle this afternoon, so the kids could spend time with friends after church.

Now, I know what to get there - a simple and delicious salad, just lettuce and delectable meat and grilled fajita veggies and yummy green salsa, no dressing.

Then why, oh why, did a "Yes" suddenly come out of my mouth when the server pointed to the guacamole?!

I mentally toted up the calculations at lightening speed. I told myself what a healthy fat it was, and that I had been eating quite lean lately. I convinced myself I 'needed' it. At least I did ask for only a half-portion. But, it pushed me up near my personal limits.

I will do it differently next time. *It was good, though!*

If you have a fondness for Chipotle, check out these calculators to help you choose what to order:

BMI Calculator

From the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person's weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems.

BMI is not an infallible guide, especially for musculars types like body-builders, or for the elderly who might have comparatively little muscle to body mass. For most of us looking to lose weight and get healthy, though, it is a fairly good indicator. So in addition to the scales, try tracking your BMI from time to time. (Just click here to calculate your BMI.)

When I ran my recent weight through the calculator linked above, I was thrilled to see that I was finally in the 'healthy' range for the first times in over a decade, at least! (Of course, whoever made that chart hasn't seen my thighs and tummy, but at least I am not in the danger zone that I was at 222 lbs, and 5'1".)

However, an even better, more accurate way to measure dangerous overweight is the waist-to-hip ratio — and all it requires is a measuring tape, and maybe a calculator!

Take your waist measurement, and divide it by your hip measurement. The classic 36-24-36 hourglass figure would work out as 24 divided by 36, or .67.

For women, a healthy waist-to-hip ratio would be no more than 0.8.
For men, a healthy waist-to-hip ratio is 0.95.

Anything higher means that too much fat is stored in the middle of the body, and that is the kind of fat associated with heart disease, diabetes, and other health hazards. That's because abdominal fat causes changes in hormone levels and inflammation, which in turn leads to clogged arteries and a host of other problems.

So, in addition to your scales, take stock with a tape measure and a calculator. Chart them out. It is so gratifying to watch all the numbers move down to a healthy (and attractive) range!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Dining Out

One of the earliest pitfalls I ran into while low-carbing was the difficulty in dining out.
My husband and I had a Date Night on Friday nights. We found it a pleasant way to get end the work week enjoying one another's company. Plus, let's face it --- we both enjoyed really good food, and plenty of it! (Maybe that's why he had to lose 40 lbs. and I'm 90lbs. down and still counting!)

When I began dieting, we kept up the weekly (or more frequent) dining out, just trying to make better choices. It didn't take long for me to realize I was usually sabotaging myself. The temptation to dive into the breadbasket or Blooming Onion was pretty strong! The familiar habits, the sense of celebration, the smells, the menus - it was hard to walk the straight and narrow path. Plus, even when I thought I had made good choices, it sometimes backfired. I found out some restaurants add sugar and starch to items you would never suspect! When I would step on the scales the next day, even when I had thought I was so careful, I would usually gain, or, at best, not lose. I soon realized something had to change!

In the interest of saving you the trouble I had, here are a few tips I learned the hard way:

* 1) Go out less often. You'll not only save carbs and calories, but also save money, too!

If all you want to do is get out of the house and spend time together, consider dinner at home (where you can be sure of what you are eating), and then go out after just for coffee, maybe. Or, just go for an activity, like a walk, bowling, dancing, browsing a bookstore, or whatever appeals to you.

* 2) Before you go out, check the menu online. Most restaurants post their menus online, and many include nutritional data. You can usually find it googling the restaurant name, nutrition. For instance, Outback, nutrition will lead you to this.

Other good sources for restaurant nutritional info are and You can find almost anything in one of those places.

That way, you can make food decisions with calm focus, not in the heat of the moment! Jot your selection down, and stick with it.

* 3) Grill - the server, that is! Ask questions about whether the dish uses any added injections, marinades, sauces, sugar, etc. (Yes, some places add sugar to salad dressings and vegetables!) Do not be afraid to specify exactly what you want, or to send it back if you don't get it. After all, they are in business to serve you, and they are used to accomodating special requests.

* 4) Reduce and limit unnecessary temptation.
~ Don't gaze longingly at the appealing photos in the menu; you've already chosen before you arrived.
~ Ask that the usual bread or chips not be brought, if that is acceptable to your dining companion(s). Otherwise, set that out of reach, preferably out of eyesight.
~ Ask for a to-go box or doggie bag to be brought with your food. Most restaurants serve portions far too large, so simply box up half your meal when it is served, and take your time savoring the rest.
~ If your companions order dessert, order a nice cup of coffee or something for yourself, add sweetener and creamer to your pleasure, and sip that instead.

* 5) Make it about the moment, not about the food. Don't fret about what you can't have. Rise above the food, and focus on the occasion, the experience, the people you are with, the conversation. Behave like the gracious host or hostess at your own dinner party. Make it an event, not a meal. Enjoy the moment!

That way, you'll also enjoy the weigh-in the next day, too.
Do you have any dining tips to share?