Christmas decorations already?

Wow.  My CVS is already carrying Christmas decorations. I haven’t even ordered my Halloween costume yet, people!  I don’t know if I should be sad that this doesn’t surprise me.

Yeah,  yeah, yeah.  It’s been a while.  Here I am, alive and well.  Disappointed? Muahahahaha!  I’m back just in time for fall, a season I dreaded as a child (who wants to go back to school when they’ve spent their summers lounging by a pool and antagonizing the mean old lady next door?), but LOVE as an adult.  What’s not to love (other than the monsoon-like conditions in Boston lately)?:  A chill in the air, pumpkins and other squash, soups, stews, brussel sprouts, New England foliage, the heralding of ski season, Frye boots, tights…the list goes on.  Oh, yes, must also mention the fact that in less humid weather my hair stops looking so much like this:

So, late this summer I have made some serious changes and I’ve been away for so long because I was implementing those changes.  When my dad died three years ago of complications from Type 1 diabetes, he made me promise that I would take better care of myself than he did.  I promised.  I lost 80 pounds and kept it off for a year and a half.  Then I got sick and gained a significant amount back. Even when I got it under control, I continued with unhealthy habits and kept gaining.

I’ve been ashamed since I started this blog and I think that’s what’s prevented me from being the kind of dedicated blogger I would like to be.  I felt so out of control and like a hypocrite calling myself a “healthy food blogger.”  Can you be overweight and be a health food blogger?  I wasn’t eating chips or junk food.  I was eating copious amounts of homecooked food- bread, cheese, etc (remember this post?).

This summer I took control.  I just made the decision and didn’t look back.  Since August 17, I’m down 22 pounds.  I’ve set my goal a bit lower than last time, so I’d like to lose about 38 more.  You know what, though?  It’s just a number.   Maybe I’ll lose 25 more and feel great.  Maybe I’ll lose 40 more.  Who knows?   I’ll let my body decide where it wants and needs to be.  I’ll trust it.   I already feel so good about what I’m doing- good about myself, the choices I’m making.  With the help of a truly wonderful friend, I’ve made strides in ending the “fat talk.”  I don’t cringe when I look in the mirror.  It feels as though the final piece of the puzzle is snapping into place.  It feels like I’m coming home- to me.

One of the things that I sometimes struggle with is last minute dinner preparation.  I often get home really late and as a general rule of thumb, I try not to eat past eight.  So, what’s a girl to do when she’s spent the night after work buying fabulous shoes buying things she desperately needed and doesn’t get home until 7:15?  Here are some tips for quick, easy and painless healthy cooking:

  • If you don’t already have one, invest in a convection oven (it doubles as a toaster).  I haven’t turned my stove on in months and it cooks incredibly quickly. You can bake or broil.  Roasted veggies are a CINCH! I’m partial to brussel sprouts this time of year.
  • If you have a Trader Joe’s, they have ready made brown rice, wild rice and lentils.  I can’t tell you how easy it is to throw together a grain salad with this stuff.
  • Keep ready made salad dressings for grain salads and salads handy.  Try this recipe (I’ve been subbing agave for honey lately and adding a splash of cider vinegar for extra oomph)and this little tool is a fabulous investment.  Mine’s always ready to go in my fridge!
  • Two words: polenta cakes.  Use quaker five minute cornmeal, stir in whatever spices you may desire, a little parm if you’d like, form patties and then in a non-stick pan (this part is very very important), pan fry in olive oil until crispy.  These can be topped with just about ANYTHING.  One of my personal favorites?  Salsa, black beans, soy cheddar and fat-free plain greek yogurt!
  • Keep grains handy- cous cous cooks in three minutes in the microwave.  I always have cooked bulgur, wheatberries, etc. handy.  You can toss in all sorts of veggies, make a faux risotto, or sautee up some mushrooms and onions and do a “rice pilaf.”
  • Batch cooking.  Some people shudder at the thought of this.  Sometimes I find it less daunting to just throw my leftovers in the freezer without even thinking about it.  My planning never works out, so sometimes I just have to wing it.
  • Beans, beans, the magical fruit…These little guys pack a huge punch and cans of beans can be used to make everything from a quick falafel to two minute bean burgers.  You can also use them to bulk up all manner of salads.
  • Keep frozen veggies handy- my staples are spinach, corn, edamame and broccoli.  I must admit that these don’t hold a candle to fresh, but you’ll find that there are some that are a-ok.
  • Don’t beat yourself up.  Some nights I feel like Martha and some nights I feel like turning on a stove burner could send me to the looney bin.  It’s perfectly ok to heat up a can of soup.  I LOVE Amy’s soups.

There are lots more things I can think of, but some are just obvious- fresh fruits and veggies, veggie/bean burgers, salad fixin’s, hard boiled eggs, etc.  These are all terrific options for quick, easy, and healthy meals.  I do have one last thing to share- a gadget I recently rediscovered that’s been very helpful to me.

Personally, I think this is worth the small investment.  I have quite a liberal hand with the olive oil bottle (I’m Italian.  I bleed this stuff).  This gadget not only really helps me keep the oil spillage and my portions under control, it also helps get a nice even coating on the pan, veggies, popcorn or whatever else I’d usually be dousing with the stuff.

It feels good to be back in this community that I love.  Now, who’s going to Fitbloggin’11?  Yours truly will be there and so many others I’m truly excited to see/meet!  And do tell- what’s your favorite thing about fall??


About annenglish

I often think my the right side of my brain dominates- I live to create things. Color is one of the things that brings me great joy and in everything that I do, it is a theme that takes on great aesthetic importance. I am a jewelry designer, metal artist and writer (wanna-be.) During the day I work in an office, and while I like it, I spend my days dreaming about the next thing I want to make. As a result, I am the post-it queen- design ideas are always strewn about my desk, waiting for me to gather them up and take them home at the end of the day. Oh, yeah. I'm also a tremendous slob, which is unfortunate because I love to cook and washing dirty dishes is my least favorite chore to tackle. I'm a healthy food enthusiast and amateur chef. Cooking is a tremendous creative outlet for me- experimentation is my hallmark...whether it's surprising color combinations or flavor combinations.
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4 Responses to Christmas decorations already?

  1. YAY! You blogged 🙂
    Thanks for the hints, you know i need them about now 🙂

  2. debby says:

    Good hints. And so good to hear that you have gotten back on track and sound so enthusiastic. That is a goodly amount of weight to lose in that short a time period.

    Welcome back!

  3. kasha2010 says:

    You are a sight for sore eyes, my dear! Thanks for sharing all your cooking tips. I know first hand how great you are in the kitchen, and look forward to more!!!

  4. Dawn says:

    I am going to fitbloggin’ hope to see you there. I will also add you to my “must read” list.

    Congrats on the weightloss…keep doing things to promote a healthy lifestyle and your body will love you for it.

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