Archive for May, 2012

Hello and good morning. Today is my wedding anniversary and we are going to a nice italian restaurant this evening.  Having lost 15.4 pounds in 20 days, I am not scared at all for dinner tonight.  The hardest part is the damn bread at little quaint Italian joints.  I came in 14 points underneath my daily allotted point value yesterday and am feeling really great.  I think the key to all of this is moderation and eating tons of fruits and veggies.  I have not been as active as I would like to be and weight is just falling off of me.  I have been very strict with my diet and it goes to show that it doesnt matter if you work out or not, just being cautious with food can benefit a ton. Of course I want to be working out, but I just have been struggling to get to gym 🙂  Have a good one

4 Fresh Ideas for Fish

A New York City chef shares healthy ways to cook this protein-rich swimmer.
Article By: Weight Watchers Magazine
4 Fresh Ideas for Fish

Looking for some easy and delicious ways to prepare fish? We asked chef Kyle Shadix, MS, RD, a meetings member, instructor at the New York Restaurant School, and director of Nutrition & Culinary Consultants to provide us with some additional recipes to supplement the article in the July/August issue of Weight Watchers Magazine.

Pick up some fresh fish, and try one of these ideas tonight.

Soy and Honey Glazed Salmon

Makes 4 servings
PointsPlus™ value | 9 per serving

Ingredients

  • 4 (6-ounce) wild salmon fillets, skinned and cut into 3-inch squares
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, combine soy sauce and honey, mixing well, and bring up to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add garlic slices, and arrange salmon pieces flat on the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and cook 10 minutes. Uncover; turn salmon pieces over and cook until the salmon is just opaque in the center, about 2 minutes longer. Serve over rice.
Optional: Top with a handful of freshly chopped scallions for added freshness and crunch.

Serving size: One piece salmon and about 2 Tbsp sauce, without rice

Tilapia with Pico de Gallo

Makes 4 servings
PointsPlus™ value | 7 per serving

Ingredients

  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless tilapia fillets
  • Table salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
  • 2 cups pico de gallo, store-bought

Instructions

  1. Season fillets with salt and pepper and pat all over with flour. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillets and cook until golden-brown and just opaque in the center, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer the fillets to serving dish. Top with pico de gallo and serve at once with the lemon wedges.
Serving Size: 1 fillet with ½ cup pico de gallo

Mediterranean Swordfish

Makes 4 servings
PointsPlus™ value | 7 per serving

Ingredients

  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless swordfish or grouper fillets
  • 1 serving olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt (Greek-style)
  • 1/2 cup red onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled
  • 20 medium olives, kalamata, pitted and chopped
  • 4 medium sun-dried tomatoes, without oil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a large baking dish with olive oil nonstick spray. Combine yogurt, red onion, cheese, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon zest in a bowl. Place fillets in 1 layer in baking dish; top with cheese mixture. Bake until the fillets are just opaque in the center, about 10 minutes.
Optional: Top with chopped basil and fresh grape tomatoes.

Serving Size: 1 fillet and 1/4 cup yogurt mixture

Mahi-Mahi Marinara

Makes 4 servings
PointsPlus™ value | 10 per serving

Ingredients

  • 4 fillets mahi-mahi skinless, or another firm-fleshed fish (6 oz each)
  • 1/2 pound uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti or linguini
  • 1 spray cooking spray
  • Table salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 16 oz marinara sauce, store bought

Instructions

  1. Cook the linguini according to package directions, omitting the salt if desired. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper; place in one layer in baking dish.
  2. Spoon the sauce evenly over the top. Bake until the fillets are just opaque in the center, 15-20 minutes. Spoon the fillets and sauce over the linguine and serve at once.
Serving Size: 1 fillet with ½ cup sauce and 1 cup linguine

So after a long weekend and a baseball game, I lost 3.2 pounds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I asked my WW leader, ” Are you shitting me ”  She looked at me in disbelief and said, ” Nope, I don’t lie about these things ”

So thrilled.  To date, I am down 15.4 pounds.  15.4 pounds in less than 30 days!!!  When the mind is at work, anything is possible.  Thanks WW

 

If you’re trying to lose weight, last week brought headlines that, at first blush, seemed thrilling: Weight Watchers is twice as effective as following a doctor’s guidance on national weight-loss treatment guidelines when it comes to shedding pounds, a European study found. Sounds great, right? Well, before you sign up for Weight Watchers, there are a few things you need to understand about the study—and about the realities of losing weight and keeping it off.

Roughly 800 overweight and obese individuals in Australia, Germany, and the UK were recruited for the study (which was funded by Weight Watchers, by the way). Half the participants were instructed to follow their doctor’s advice about shedding pounds, while the other participants were told by their doctors to start using Weight Watchers.

After 12 months, the Weight Watchers group had lost more than double the weight of their counterparts—11 pounds compared to just 5 pounds, on average, among those who completed the study. However, only 58 percent of the participants finished the study, and the dropout rates were similar for both groups. Furthermore, while food diaries show the Weight Watchers group did consume fewer calories, carbs, and sugars, weight-loss gains had plauteaud for both groups after just six months.

More from MensHealth.com: 9 Weight-Loss Rules That Work

Those dropout rates and pound-shedding patterns are a common characteristic of weight-loss studies, explains Walter Willett, M.D., chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health. “We need to find a new way of eating that can be sustained for a lifetime, not something that is done for a few months or a year and then stopped,” Willett says.

And therein lies the rub. Two U.S. studies found that other commercial weight-loss programs like Jenny Craig or diet books like The South Beach Diet outperformed national weight-loss treatment recommendations and triggered weight reductions similar to the Weight Watchers study. But follow-up reports proved keeping the weight off for 5 years or 10 years presents a much more daunting challenge.

“The data are quite clear,” says David Levitsky, Ph. D., a professor of nutrition at Cornell University. “When people complete their dietary treatment, they gain most of the weight back within one year.” The reason for that is complex, Levitsky says, and has to do with losing motivation once the weight stops dropping away, becoming bored or complacent about your new diet, and a host of other factors.

But don’t throw in the towel. There are ways to improve your odds of losing weight and keeping weight off for the long haul:

Find Strength in Numbers
Weight Watchers, like many commercial diet programs, involves community support groups and member meetings, which the European study concluded was a significant factor for weight-loss success.

The Weight Watchers group met with other members three times each month, while the doctor-advised groups averaged just one visit with a doctor or nurse per month, the study says. Dropout rates spiked to greater than 60 percent among the participants in the U.K., where acquiring monthly access to health-care professionals was most difficult.

A Marywood University study also found that those who received group therapy while dieting lost 17 percent more weight—a difference of roughly 4 pounds—compared to individuals who followed the same diet but did not meet with support groups during the six-month study period.

“The more times a person meets the provider, the more effective the program,” Levitsky says.

Diet Alone Won’t Cut It
“Everyone needs to incorporate daily physical activity into their life to be successful in the long run,” Willett says. That’s because exercise not only helps you lose weight, but also improves your motivation and leads to the type of broader lifestyle changes—like improving diet and becoming more active—that are necessary to keep weight off.

A Harvard School of Public Health review of 25 weight-loss studies ranging from 3 months to 2 years found dieters who also exercised lost 50 percent more weight—an average of 4 more pounds—than those who changed only their eating habits. Those dieters who exercised were also more than twice as likely to have kept the weight off after two years.

If you’re getting started on a new diet, incorporate a routine of high-intensity resistance training to get the most weight-loss benefit. A Penn State University study found adding resistance training to your diet boosts fat loss by 35 percent.

But be ready: At some point the amount of weight you’re losing will taper off, and that’s when you need to focus on maintaining your new, lower weight. To do that, you need to practice a consistent workout routine and combine it with a low-calorie, high-protein diet, says another Penn State study.

Make Health—Not a Number—Your Goal
Most dieters become fixated on the image in the mirror or the number on the bathroom scale. But ultimately, dieting should be about improving your health, and weight isn’t as important as eating right and exercising, according to a recent study from Canadian researchers.

After 14 years of tracking the eating and exercise habits of 6,000 obese individuals, the Canadian team found that those who ate the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables and exercised regularly showed no increased risk for heart disease when compared to the rest of the population. They also were less likely to experience massive weight swings, the study says.

“Focusing on one aspect of your health will naturally increase the attention you give to other aspects of health,” Levitsky says. Meaning if you’re focused on eating properly for health reasons, you’ll be more likely to exercise and practice other healthy habits that prevent weight gain. In fact, a UK study found that focusing on the health benefits of weight loss helped motivate people to stick to healthier diets and active lifestyles.

To keep your heart healthy, regardless of your weight, make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, the Canadian study explains. And aim for at least 15 minutes of exercise every day. A new study from Taiwanese researchers found that 15 minutes of daily physical activity reduces your risk of death by 14 percent and tacks on three years to your life.

Spice Mixes for Grilling!

Posted: May 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Rub it Down: Spice Mixes for Grilling

Dry rubs add tons of flavor without adding fat.
Article By: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
Rub it Down: Spice Mixes for Grilling

There’s no need for oil, bacon, or other fat-heavy additions when you’re grilling meat. Dry rubs add tons of flavor without any added fat.

Getting started
Here are six dry rubs for pork, beef, chicken, fish, or even tofu. Whisk any one of them together in a large bowl.

All-American Barbeque Rub
2 tablespoons mild paprika
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sweet and Spicy Rub
1/4 cup chile powder
1/4 cup mild paprika
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Southwestern Rub
2 tablespoons chile powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon mild paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons salt
Jerk Rub
1/4 cup dried crushed rosemary
1/4 cup dried thyme
2 tablespoons dry mustard
4 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons ground black pepper
4 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon cayenne
Curry Rub
3 tablespoons yellow curry powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon mild paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Szechwan Pepper Salt
2 tablespoons coarse-grained or kosher salt
2 tablespoons ground Szechwan peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin

What to do
Use the best spices you can find. Only freshly ground black pepper, please.

Dried herbs have a shelf-life, usually about a year. Don’t use dried ones that have taken on a bland, tea-like smell.

To grind Szechwan peppercorns and the like, use a cleaned-out coffee grinder, a mini food processor, or a spice grinder.

Use between 1/2 tablespoon and 1 tablespoon per cut, whether steak, fish, or chicken thighs. The only problem: how do you get it to stick? Rub each cut with about 1 teaspoon unsweetened apple juice, lemon juice, cranberry juice, balsamic vinegar, or white wine vinegar. Pat the rub in place to make a thin coating on all sides and you’re ready to roll.

For a deeper taste, coat with the rub, then cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

And after that? You’re ready to roll. Fire up the grill and cook the meat, fish, or tofu until done.

And the leftovers? These rub recipes make a lot, more than you’ll need. Store the rest in a jar with a tight-fitting lid for the next time you’re over the heat.

Last night, my buddy I grew up with was in town scouting for the Durham Bulls.  We met up at the Indians game and had a great time.  But man, being on WW really blows when you are at a ball game.  I walked what felt like miles to find something healthy.  Victory Field has a “Build your own” section with chicken breast, hot dogs, nachos.  I built my own 12 point chicken sandwich with tons of veggies stacked on top of it.  That is key when there aren’t many good options.   Pack veggies on top of whatever you eat and you won’t feel as bad about yourself!  Weigh in, t – 4 hours.  A touch scared about the weigh in today.  Not that I did bad this past week, but I didn’t do as good as I could have.  We shall see.  Have a great day

Spits, Skewers and Kebabs

Spear your way to culinary succulence
Article By: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
Spits Skewers and Kebabs

Cultures all over the world have used spits, skewers and kebabs to cook over an open fire. Brazilians have their churraco; the French, their brochettes; the Lebanese, their shawarma. By spearing food over the heat, they can grill it evenly, keep it moist and get the most flavor per bite. So let’s start spearing.

Hand Cranking

There are old-fashioned hand-cranked rotisseries for open fire pits, campfires and even fireplaces. These require patience and forbearance — you’ve got to sit to the side of a hot fire, turning the meat slowly over the flames. These yesteryear gadgets are best for enormous cuts: baby goats, boars, pigs and the like. Look for solid construction: no wobbly legs! And one thing’s for sure: Even the best of these devices are not for the novice.

Spits
Don’t think Robinson Crusoe. Basically, we’re talking about the rotisserie attachment for your grill, an electric motor that slowly turns a steel rod over the grate.

In essence, the meat is self-basting. As juices come to the surface, they spill over the rotating cut, bathing it in what will become crispy goodness.

Which is why the primary meat for a rotisserie is anything fowl: chickens, turkeys, pheasants and game hens. They’re full of subcutaneous fat that melts and bastes the beast on the spit.

But the fat’s not the only reason birds are the first choice for spits. They’re also hollow — which means you don’t have to puncture the meat to get a bird on the spit. And even more important, they’re equally balanced around the spit: one wing on one side, one wing on the other.

A leg of lamb or a prime-rib roast can be poor choices for the spit because neither are balanced. A leg of lamb has a thicker, meatier side — which will cause it to turn unevenly. A prime rib has all those heavy bones.

What’s more, you don’t want to skewer the meat itself.

So what to do with these “uneven” cuts? Roast two side by side and back to front. Secure the two cuts tightly to either side of the spit with butchers’ twine, then use the prongs to hold them in place. This two-for-one technique works for pork loin, beef tenderloin or whole fish.

In short, on a spit, you need to think about:

  1. Balance. Make sure the cut is evenly balanced side to side.
  2. Security. Tie cuts tightly with butchers’ twine. In general, more twine is better. Yes, the rotisserie will come with clamps to secure items to the spit, but you still need to secure wings to birds and cuts to each other.

You’re almost ready. Now for a few last tips:

  1. Indirect heat works best. In other words, the rotating spit should not be directly over the heat of the grill.
  2. Make sure the fire is low, around 325°F. “Low and slow” are the rules of the rotisserie.
  3. Make sure there’s a drip pan directly under the turning meat to prevent flare-ups and save you a big cleanup.
  4. Want more flavor? Wrap long spears of rosemary or branches of bay leaves around the meat once it’s secured onto the rotisserie spit.
  5. Salt draws moisture to the surface. Add a little to the outside of the cuts before they go on the spit to get the most juice bathing the meat as it turns.

 

Skewers and Kebabs
When you shrink those metal spits down to size, you end up with bamboo and metal skewers.

Unlike spits, skewers and kebabs go right over the heat, preferably high heat. If spits are “low and slow,” skewers and kebabs are “hot and fast.” You want these babies to singe — mostly to get good flavor on the outsides of the smaller bits of meat or veggies before they dry out inside.

And keep this in mind: It’s easier to marinate or spice things up before you skewer. Toss everything in a bowl, add the marinade or rub and stir well. Then refrigerate for a couple hours, stirring repeatedly. Once skewered, nooks and crannies can be difficult to reach with that added flavor.

First, meat and fish.

  1. Put only a single kind of protein on a single skewer. Don’t mix tuna cubes and pork loin, for example. Proteins cook at different rates.
  2. Choose firm-fleshed, thick-fleshed fish. Think tuna, swordfish or mahi mahi. Think about fish that can be cut into “steaks.”
  3. In general, consider 1-inch cubes the rule. (Boneless, of course.) Practice good knife technique, making sure meat cubes are evenly sized for even cooking. (Our one exception: shrimp. Leave themwhole and thread them in two places on the skewer.)
  4. Don’t forget fruit. It grills great with beef, pork, chicken or turkey. Use pineapple cubes, apple wedges or halved apricots on those skewers!
  5. Finally, for mixed meat-and-veggie skewers, cook them until the meat is done, not the veggies. To know for sure, take the internal temperature of the meat with an instant-read meat thermometer.

 

Now the veggies

  1. Tomatoes and mushrooms should go on their own skewers. They cook quickly and turn soft fast, soon becoming a mess on the beef-and-veggie skewer.
  2. Firmer vegetable chunks — zucchini, peppers, yellow squash, fennel and onions — can be interspersed among chunks of meat, fish steaks or shellfish.
  3. If you’re making mixed meat-and-veggie kebabs, put chunks of meat rather than vegetable chunks at each end of the skewer — vegetables can turn soft and fall off.
  4. Forget roots and hard winter vegetables. Butternut squash and sweet potatoes will never get tender on a skewer.

That’s about all you need to know. With a little advance planning and some good technique, you’ll soon be a pro, cooking meat in one of the oldest ways imaginable.