Work in Progress

By the end of Chef AJ’s 21-day program, I was down ten pounds. Encouraged and excited, I decided to continue on, re-joining her Ultimate Weight Loss program. I stuck to her guidelines, listened to lecture after lecture from her, Dr. Doug Lisle & Dr. Alan Goldhamer, learning about calorie density & the pleasure trap. I just kept eating veggies and starches, walking and learning. I was laser focused, only allowing myself an occasional “slip” in the form of my beloved movie theater popcorn and a couple of (vegan) desserts for a birthday or on vacation. Honestly, when I did/do go off program, I feel kinda gross and am more than happy to get right back on track with the next meal!

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May 30, 2019

By July 1st I had lost 14 pounds total. By early August, 20 pounds was gone! I now weigh less than I have since my early 40’s!  I just bought a dress for my daughter’s upcoming wedding, had ordered both a size 10 and a (hopeful) 8. Well, guess what? The 8 is too big! I had to get a 6, and even that will need some alteration. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever see single digits again, I am shocked & thrilled, and the best part is truly how easy it has been. This was once my goal weight, the top end of the range on WW, and yet now that I’m here I realize that I still have pounds to lose, that I can do better. So, I’m going to continue on, go for another ten pounds, see how I feel with that number.

So, you’re probably wondering what exactly DO I eat, right? Well, it’s so simple. No weighing, measuring, or counting necessary. No fancy recipes, ingredients, smoothies or supplements. I eat food. Real food. Whole unprocessed food, ad libitum! As many servings as vegetables, potatoes, rice, etc as I want. In fact, not only is there not a limit on these foods, there’s a minimum! Chef AJ requests that we eat at least two pounds of vegetables a day, preferably a pound of them raw, followed by as much starch as possible to feel satiated. That’s it. That’s what I do. As I wrote yesterday, this program is abstinence-based, so it’s more about what you don’t eat than what you do. Avoid those SOFAS, eat the veggies & potatoes, watch the pounds fall off.

More on the specifics next time..

Have a beautiful day,

Michele

Getting off the SOFAs

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Now that the birthday celebrations are over and I’ve had a minute to catch my breath, I’ll take some time to explain how I’ve lost these most recent 25 pounds.

I discovered Chef AJ back in 2015 and became a member of her Ultimate Weight Loss program. It was great, I lost some weight, but I wasn’t able to stick to it for one main reason: alcohol. I’ll dive more deeply into this at a later date, but for now I’ll just say that while I wasn’t an alcoholic nor even a “problem drinker,” my beloved chardonnay had taken up too much space in my life. I wasn’t willing to give up my lifestyle that included happy hours & wine tastings, and the subsequent poor food choices that inevitably followed. I’d follow my whole food, plant-based, oil-free meal plan all day long, and then blow it every evening. I lost a couple of pounds, but grew frustrated and gave up.

For the next few years, I maintained my weight, losing a couple pounds here & there with the help of WW, but it was so freaking hard! I was restricting calories, counting Points, walking my proverbial butt off, and still I couldn’t lose consistently. I was beginning to think I was doomed to be a size 12/14 forever. Then, something changed.

Last July, growing tired of the cycle of drinking/eating/anxiety/headache, I decided to quit drinking. Again, more on that later, but this decision proved to be one of the best I have ever made for my health, both mental & physical. The lack of booze didn’t immediately result in weight loss, but it was a turning point, a launching pad for more positive changes. By eliminating the wine, I was able to make better food choices. My emotions stabilized. My mood improved. My brain got sharper. I felt amazing! Not only physically, but emotionally, and I wanted more. I wanted to get the other monkey off my back. Literally, the 25 pounds that was causing aching joints and back pain.

In May of this year, Chef AJ offered a mini program, a 21-Day challenge called Lose Weight with a Full Plate. It was affordable and offered two things I really needed: accountability & support. There was a group Facebook page, weekly Q & A sessions, recipes, tips & tricks and just so much feedback from Chef AJ and her coaches. I jumped in with both feet. The pillar of this program is abstinence, and the things to abstain from are as follows: Sugar, Oil, Flour, Alcohol & Salt, which go by the acronym SOFAS. So, I cleaned up my environment, tossing my non-compliant food and moving Chip’s to hidden drawers & cabinets where they wouldn’t tempt me.  I’d already stopped cooking with oil years ago, so that was easy. I didn’t eat a lot of sugar but there was some vegan chocolate lurking around. The alcohol was gone, and while I enjoy salt it wasn’t a deal breaker. My biggest problem was the flour. Sigh. I’m a bread-a-holic, and rarely did a day go by where I didn’t indulge some form of it. As much as I love it, I knew it was an issue for me, a red light food that I had a hard time moderating. So, out went the pasta, baguettes, buns & rolls. Even the “healthy” sprouted grain version got bagged up and donated to my daughters. With a clean kitchen, I was now ready to fill it back up again, but with what? What could one possibly eat after eliminating so many foods?! How could I possibly live on such limited options? Well, quite nicely as it turns out!

For 21 days I kept it very simple. Two to three meals a day, depending upon how hungry I was, and a couple of snacks. My days looked like this:

Exercise while listening to Chef AJ podcast. Veggies for breakfast. Potatoes. Fruit. Salad. Potatoes. Fruit. Steamed Veggies. Potatoes. Fruit. Sleep. Repeat. 

The weight started dropping off, sometimes as much as one pound per day! While we were discouraged from obsessing over the scale, I couldn’t help but jumping on because the dropping numbers kept me motivated! I was in shock, honestly, could not believe that I was actually doing this! It was hard sometimes, yes, especially when dining out with family, watching them eat the decadent vegan meals I’d enjoyed in the past. But I kept at it, and it got easier, to the point where I actually preferred my simple food over the highly processed ones. I was on a roll, and it felt amazing!

This is where I’ll leave you, for now. I’ll be back tomorrow to continue the story and share some resources.

Have a beautiful day

Michele

 

New (Birth) Year

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Wow, it’s been over a year since I last posted! So much has happened, where do I even start?! 2019 has been chock-full of beauty..births and engagements and so many happy moments! Our family has grown and I feel so blessed. 

I’ve met some personal goals as well, the most significant is losing another 25 pounds! I did this with the help of Chef AJ and her Ultimate Weight Loss program, which I’ll expound upon more in the future.

I just turned 55 years old which both shocks and delights me! I’ve been reflecting on my life, past and future,and honestly have few complaints. I am in a good place. My children & grandchildren are happy and healthy. I have a wonderful, loving partner. A safe, comfortable home. Excellent health. Security. Loyal friends. So, now what? Where do I want to be, this time next year? What goals do I want to meet? I’ll be spending more time on this, but for now, here are some areas I’d like to work on, this 56th year of life:

  • Mind: I’d like to sharpen this aging brain, maybe take a class. Do more crossword puzzles. Read (even) more books.
  • Body: Lose another ten pounds, see how I feel at that weight. Use my gym membership to tone up & build strength. Continue my eating/wellness program, mentor others if there’s a need.
  • Spirit: Connect more with my community. Discover volunteer opportunities. Travel a little. Learn to meditate. Garden. Create. Grow. Improve. 

So, that’s where my head is today as I plan my weekly menu, organize my desk, and channel the fresh back-to-school feelings of the young friends & families around me.

How about you? Anyone else doing some deep thinking today? Share with me your goals and aspirations!

Have a wonderful day!

Michele

 

 

 

 

 

The Daily Dish: Chickpea of the Sea Salad

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Well, hello, everyone. How’s your summer going so far? A lot has happened since I last wrote, but I’m not quite ready to elaborate just yet, so I’m going to just share a quick, cool recipe that’s perfect for toting along to the beach or pool!

There are so many delicious chickpea salads out there, but this one happens to be the easiest and tastes most like the tuna salad of my childhood.

Chickpea of the Sea

Chickpea of the Sea Salad

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1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans, cooked (or 1 can, rinsed & drained)
2 medium celery ribs — chopped, to taste
1/8 cup onion — chopped, to taste
1/4 cup dill pickles — chopped, to taste, or dill relish
2 tablespoons Reduced Fat Veganaise
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon kelp granules — to taste
2 cups romaine lettuce — shredded, to taste

Using food processor, pulse chickpeas to desired consistency, or mash with a fork.

Chop onions, pickles & celery, mix in which chickpeas & other ingredients down to lettuce.

Place lettuce and any other desired raw veggies on the center of your favorite bread or wrap, or inside a pita pocket. Top with a scoop of chickpea salad. Enjoy!

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Makes 4 Servings; Nutritional Info Per Serving as calculated by Mastercook: 117 Calories; 2g Fat (13.3% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 20g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 300mg Sodium.

1 Weight Watchers SmartPoint (not including bread) as calculated using the online recipe builder.


Have a wonderful day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, allowing for a bit of oil here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat. At the moment I am also using Weight Watchers to help me reach goal weight.

Menu Planning Monday: Regroup & Recup!

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I am still recovering from several whirlwind weeks of family celebrations including my beautiful daughter’s wedding!

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It’s been a wonderful Spring so far and I have managed to maintain my weight despite too many decadent meals and glasses of wine! Today is the day to get back to “normal,” though, and that starts with a proper meal plan. 

Once again, I’m featuring recipes from my favorite blog, FatFree Vegan Kitchen

What’s on your meal plan for the week?

Michele~

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

 

The Daily Dish: Vegan Lasagna Rollups

Here’s a well-known fact about me: I am enamored with all things Italian.  The language, the culture, the art, the fashion, and of course, the food. It’s my favorite way to cook, and I learned to do so from my wonderful ex-family who was half Italian (and half Irish, but more about that later). My “signature dish,” the one I’m known for, the most requested for not only holidays but birthdays & other celebrations: Stuffed Shells Florentine.  Served right after antipasto and  before the salad (to help digestion, they say), with a hunk of good Italian bread to soak up the sauce….delizioso! I’ve delivered this to many a potluck & dropped at the doorstep of several new mamas, so I knew I had to make it for my daughter’s Babymoon Meal Train.

Now, since going vegan I have been experimenting with a dairy-free version of this recipe, trying many different recipes calling for various vegan cheeses, both commercially-produced and homemade, in attempt to replicate the gooey cheesy goodness of the original.  I’m sorry to say, I have not yet experienced complete success. I came close, and wrote about that on my old blog, but there’s still some work to do. In the meantime, I found Brand New Vegan’s amazing recipe for Lasagna Rollups and they are now the go-to meal for all of the above occasions, including the birth of my sweet granddaughter.

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In progress…

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THIS is why a meal train is so important! What new parents have time to clean up this mess?

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Voila! I broke the recipe into two platters so that one can be frozen for a later meal.

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I love the cute labels that Meal Train provides!

Of course I included extra sauce and the ingredients to make our favorite bread, Grandma’s Garlic Bread, recipe by The Jazzy Vegetarian.

Someday maybe I’ll perfect those Stuffed Shells, but in the meantime, everyone is quite happy with the scrumptious substitute.

What’s your favorite Italian meal?

Michele~

Cook’s Note: A typical serving of this meal for my family is two rollups, one serving of sauce, and 1 hunk of Italian bread. This would “cost” you 11 SmartPoints which is a bit higher than I like but certainly worth it, especially for a special occasion!

Nutritional Information, as calculated by Mastercook:

Fat Free Marinara Sauce: Per Serving: 85 Calories; trace Fat (2.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 16g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 722mg Sodium; 2 Weight Watchers SmartPoints 

Vegan Lasagna Rollups (sans sauce): Per Serving: 389 Calories; 6g Fat (13.9% calories from fat); 17g Protein; 67g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 104mg Sodium; 4 Weight Watchers SmartPoints

Grandma’s Garlic Bread: Per Serving: 75 Calories; 8g Fat (89.9% calories from fat); trace Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 99mg Sodium; 5 Weight Watchers SmartPoints

 

Menu Planning Monday: Spring Cleaning!

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This week I’ll be focusing on recipes that use up ingredients on hand. It’s time to clean out my pantry & freezer and make the transition from warming winter dishes to lighter springtime fare! That being said, I love my soups & stews so much, you’ll still be seeing those on my meal plan year round. This is Florida, after all, where we often have to “create” our own seasons or it would be all the salads, all the time. Ha!

As usual, I’ll be spending a morning or two prepping and cooking, because I do love a refrigerator full of prepared meals, and would much rather my kitchen look like this a couple times a week rather than every day! 

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Tell me, what’s on your meal plan for this week?

Have a beautiful day,

Michele~

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

 

 

 

Babymoon

Wow, so much has happened since my last post, I’m not going to try to catch you up all at once! These pictures should give you an idea of what’s been taking up my time & energy the past couple of weeks!

Yes, I’ve become a grandma once again! She is Rosemary Phyllis, the middle name to honor my mom. Of course, we are all over the moon and completely in love with this little angel and I can barely stand to be away from her, Angelo, and of course my amazing daughter. Chip and I have been driving back & forth to visit a couple times per week, bringing goodies for the little family & helping out where we can. When I’m away from them, I have been doing my part by cooking meals, contributing to their “Babymoon” Meal Train.

There have been some important happenings in other areas of my life, but for now let’s just focus on the good stuff, ok? When life is hard or sad, a cuddle with a precious newborn or sweet toddler makes everything better, if only for a moment.

Today I’ll be making Scottish Vegan Cottage Pie and Irish Soda Bread to deliver tomorrow, both veganized versions of family favorites and a nice way to extend the St Patrick’s Day festivities.

I did a test run of the soda bread yesterday, and while the taste was exactly like the original version I know & love, I need to work on size of loaf and cooking times as the outside was done way before the inside!

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Alas, I’ll have to enjoy that “failure” all by myself. *wink*

Have a beautiful day!

Michele~

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

 

 

 

Menu Planning Monday: Spooky Good Meals

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Autumn has finally arrived here in North Florida, and I couldn’t be happier! The temps have dropped enough so that we can don a light sweater and actually enjoy the outdoors once again.

While most of us were just inconvenienced and uncomfortable by the blistering hot summer, it had a more serious impact on our poor farmers.  Between record heat, tropical storms and a major hurricane, they had their work cut out for them! All the more reason to buy local. 

So, this week I’ll be focusing on local veggies from Front Porch Pickings , dusting off some old favorite recipes as well as new ones I’ve been dying to try.  Assuming that the crisp fall air and cool breeze will hang around for a bit (pretty please, Mother Nature!), I’ll be cooking up warm & comfy meals, perfect for a cozy night in front of the fire or, at the very least, a pumpkin-scented candle!

My order includes: mini cukes, black garlic, ginger, collard greens, mustard greens, okra, white acre peas, purple sweet potatoes, radishes & roselle. Several of these ingredients are new-to-me so I’m really excited to get cookin’!

Without further ado, here’s my menu plan for the next week or two, depending upon how many ghosts or goblins join us for dinner!

Happy Halloween!

Michele~

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!

Monday Menu Planning: Goodbye, July!

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I seriously can’t believe that today is the last day of July! Where has the summer gone? We’ve enjoyed our beach & pool time, but it’s been so ridiculously hot, I’m actually glad there are a few rainy days on the forecast that will hopefully cool things down a tiny bit and give us an excuse to stay inside. (Of course, my adorable grandson doesn’t agree; he can’t get enough of the outdoors!)

With that in mind, I’m planning a couple of rainy day comfort food meals this week, featuring a few of my favorite bloggers.

I’m also cleaning up my “diet” a bit since the past couple of weekly weigh-ins have been disappointing. Groan..

Here’s to a fresh new week and a whole new month! Have a great day!

Note: I follow a WFPBNO (whole food, plant-based, no oil) diet most of the time, deviating a bit here & there when dining out or when I just want a little treat.  When the recipe calls for oil, I substitute vegetable broth or plain water when appropriate. If the exact recipe I’m using isn’t published online, I will post a similar recipe.

P.S. For other great menu planning bloggers, please visit Organizing Junkie!