Finally, an all natural alternative to chips that actually taste good!

I love potatoes, all kinds, shapes, sizes and preparations of potatoes.   If I suddenly woke up and found myself allergic to spuds I don’t know what I would do.  I seriously doubt I  could survive without some type of potato in my life.  I sound a bit melodramatic I know, but I seriously love potatoes.  They are my ultimate comfort food.  Some people go for mac & cheese, but I would take a big mound of mashers any day.  My obsession with potatoes has gone so far as to crush up potato chips and sprinkle them on chocolate ice cream.  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  It’s the ultimate sweet and salty combo, but I digress.

Have you heard about Popchips?  I had seen a huge bag at my local Costco, but was not willing to buy a ginormous bag of something I had never even tried before and I would always forget to look for them in the grocery store.  Lucky for me they were a key sponsor at Fitbloggin’11.  Wow!  What a great alternative to your standard potato chip.  None of the grease of kettle chips and way more flavor than the baked kind.    I sampled the original, sour cream & onion, cheddar potato and sea salt & vinegar.  The sea salt & vinegar was my favorite by far.  They also offer barbecue, salt & pepper and parmesan garlic.   Needless to say I bought the ginormous bag at Costco the last time I shopped.  I really can’t wait to try the parmesan garlic variety.

Popchips are an all-natural chip.  They are not fried or baked.  They use a pressure/heat process to “pop” the potatoes.  The texture reminds me of Munchos, but the flavor is so much better and they don’t have any of that artificial crap.  They are just this great little vehicle for all your favorite toppings.   My sister’s family was in a few weeks ago and they were a huge hit.  I put them out with cheese slices, salsa, guacamole and onion dip.  I really think the sky is the limit for the original/plain flavor.  The chip itself is super sturdy so you could lay them out and top them as quick finger snacks at a party.

The single serving bags  contain about 18 chips and have 100 calories, 3.5 g of fat, no cholesterol, 16g carbs, 1g fiber and 1g of protein.  The sodium content varies by flavor but rages from 210mg to 240mg.   Each bag is 3 WW+ points.

So I’m curious, have you tried Popchips?  What’s your favorite flavor and your favorite way to top them?

Fine print:  Popchips has agreed to send me a free sample case in exchange for writing this blog.  That being said, I think you all know me well enough to know that if I didn’t really love them I would not write about them. 

Kiwifruit….who knew?

I was logging my weekly weight on Weight Watchers this morning (3 pound loss…thank you very much!) and I saw they had an article on kiwifruit.  Last week I went to Costco and bought way too may kiwis so I am desperate for ideas.  I was surprised by the stats.  Did you know that kiwifruit only has 56 calories per large fruit and is packed with vitamins C and E and loaded with potassium?  I guess I never really thought about it.  I was most surprised to learn that the skin, once washed, is edible as well.  Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever acquire a taste for the rough fuzzy skin, but good to know.

Kiwi’s are best when they start to soften.  You can leave them on your counter for up to 5 days to ripen, but then it is best to store them in a plastic bag in your chill chest.  They will last up to 2 weeks in there.  I could not believe how many uses they have.  The enzymes found in a kiwi act as a natural meat ternderizer, so remember that the next time you are smothering your favorite animal flesh with chemical tenderizer.  🙂

At this point I have so many, I’ve just been adding one to my morning GNC Lean Shake protein smoothie, but I’m excited to try some more adventurous options as well.  Weight Watchers has some great ideas so be sure to check them out.  I’ve created my own variation from their No Bake Fruit Tart recipe.  WW version has 4 points and mine only has 2.  I hope you enjoy it and let me know how it goes.

2 Point No Bake Fruit Tart
serves 2

2 whole graham cracker rectangles (that’s 8 smaller rectangles)
1 Tbls apple juice
1 large kiwifruit
4 strawberries
1 peach
1/4 cup blueberries

Pulverize the graham crackers into a fine crumb and add the apple juice.  Find a tin can out of your recycling and clean it really good after removing the top and bottom.  Use the can as a mold for the crumb base.  Press 1/2 of the crumb mixture into the can and press to compact.  Once you have made the base remove the can. 

Peel the kiwi and peach, hull and wash the strawberries and wash the blueberries.  Slice the kiwi, peach and strawberries into thin slices.  Layer the fruit over the base.  I think this order works best:

Kiwi on the bottom
Strawberries next
Peach on top of the strawberries
Blueberries on the top

I suppose you could add a small amount of whipped cream, but remember that adds calories, fat and POINTS. 

Enjoy and let me know how you love it!

Weight Watcher Wednesday – Mindful Eating

I said that Wednesdays were going to be when I talked about how Weight Watchers is helping me, so here it goes.  My name is Carrie and I’m a food addict.  No kidding.  What I’ve learned in the past three weeks is that I have very little control over my eating.  Sometimes I eat out of boredom, sometimes for stress and sometimes it’s just because I like the way something tastes.  I don’t even really think about eating.  That’s just scary.  Weight Watchers has made me super aware of the fact that I eat mindlessly.  Food is not nourishment first for me, it’s comfort first, at least it was in the past.

I’ve been logging my food for at least two years, but the points system really makes me see how the food I was eating was high in fat and low in nutritional content.  Just because something is low in calories doesn’t mean it’s good for you.  I know that seems like common sense, but in today’s world of 100 calorie packs, it makes it very easy to justify eating 4 of those packs over the course of the day and that can add up.  I was so focused on pre-portioned foods that when I tried self-control without them….up went my weight.

I honestly think this is because I wasn’t being mindful of my choices.  I wasn’t looking at how nutritious something was and how filling something would be.  If I had a choice between a 100 calorie pack of cookies or a bag of carrots, I picked the cookies and then I was hungry an hour later.  Now I know the carrots would have been much more filling and much healthier.  Again, I know this sounds like common sense, but when you have an enormous sweet tooth, common sense takes a giant leap out of the window.   

So my first “aha moment” on Weight Watchers is that I need to learn a little more about the practice of mindful eating.  I need to respect myself and food if I want to achieve my goal weight and live a long and healthy life.

Winter Blues

Here we are in February and I’m way off track again.  Luckily there was no weight gain in January, but there wasn’t any weight loss either.  I don’t know what is wrong with me.  It’s been almost two years since I started my weight loss and I’m still only at my half way goal.  BOO! 

For the past six months I’ve been struggling with bouts of depression and high stress at work and home.  I’ve lost all drive to focus on the positive aspects of life and healthy living.  I’ve sought comfort with my food choices only to end up being more depressed after eating.  It’s a vicious cycle.  I will admit that at times I have said “Who cares if I’m overweight and unhealthy?” I know that’s just me feeling sorry for myself and I know that I care.  I don’t want to be obese again and I don’t want to develop heart disease.  I deserve better than that.

I’ve stuck to my personal training routine, but I’ve gotten off track with my cardio.  I’m not running at all anymore.   Maybe a fitness goal would help get me going.  I dread the scale, but perhaps if I try this whole 5k thing again I’ll find the motivation I am lacking.  I just know I have to do something.

I want this to be my last “pity me” blog post! Scratch that, this will be my last pity me blog post.  Today I am taking back control of my life and I will not let stress or anxiety rule my choices.  Life is too short to waste it feeling sorry for myself.  I sorta miss the healthy and happy Carrie.

Recovery

Lately it feels like I’m sick all the time.  I keep getting this nasty stomach virus that is going around.  I was down for the past two days again.  At first I thought I was having a gallbladder attack, but once again it was the stomach bug.  You feel like crap for 24-48 hours and then you feel like a new person.  It was not at all how I was hoping to jump-start my 2011 weight loss, but it worked.  I actually listened to my body this time and just rested.  I think I must have laid in bed for 24 hours and that is not like me at all.  I was going stir crazy by dinner time last night.

I decided to make the best of my down time and read my new copy of Vegetarian Times.  Wow did they have some great recipes.  I’m going to try the Goat Cheese Asparagus Crustless Quiche tonight…I hope.  You blend the goat cheese with shallots and garlic and then blend in 2 eggs and 5 egg whites.  You pour this all over grilled asparagus and bake.  I’m not a big Quiche person, but I love goat cheese and love asparagus.  I’ll have a full report for you later in the week..with pictures.

What do you do when you are sick and trapped at home?

Enough is enough…..

   

I can pretty much sum up my mood with song lyrics on any given day, but I was not expecting the 1979 Summer/Streisand duet to come flooding into my head this morning when I stepped on the scale.  I was hoping to be singing Halleluiah , but it just wasn’t in the cards.  So today I will live with Donna and Barbra singing No More Tears (Enough is Enough) in my head.  I deserve it.

Once again I am back up over 190 pounds.  192.5 to be exact.  I should not be surprised.  I was sick all of last week and spent the weekend traveling to and from my sister’s.  I never do well in the car.  I love going back home to eastern PA and remembering my childhood so fondly.  Unfortunately, I love the food of my childhood a bit too fondly.  There was no Shoo Fly Pie this trip, but we did stop at Tom Sturgis pretzel bakery, Tack’s Sandwich Shop and Little Anthony’s Pizza.  That’s quite a lot of food to pack into 48 hours.

I’ve been losing/gaining the same 3 pounds for far too long, so enough is enough.  I am going to start tracking my progress each week again.  I have to be accountable to someone other than myself.  Clearly I am not hard enough on myself.  LOL  I have to weigh in on Monday or I won’t stay on track over the weekend.  So here it goes.

Starting Weight April 2009:   230 lbs
Current Weight:  192.5 lbs
Total Weight Lost:  37.5 lbs 

Current Body Fat %:  33%

Enough is Enough Week 1 goals:
1.  Lose 2 pounds
2.  strength train Tues & Thurs
3.  Yoga Wednesday
4.  330 minutes of cardio this week

What are your goals this week?

Friendship and Pride

Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.– Mark Twain

I know this blog is supposed to be about my journey to a healthy weight, but that journey really got started with the help of my friend Vicki.  My journey would not be as successful without many of my friends including Vicki, Jen, Linda and Dawn, but today I’m especially proud of Vicki.   Vicki is an exceptional woman on many levels, and I wanted share with you her first work for Keppler Speakers.  It’s a fitting piece about Chef Jeff and how he overcame adversity by developing a healthy relationship with food.  Enjoy and hooray Vicki

http://www.kepplerspeakers.com/New_Exclusive_Chef_Jeff_Tells_His_Story_from_The_Streets_to_the_Stove.aspx

My pre-workout boost….

I always feel better after a good workout and after a good healthy session in the kitchen so I decided to mix them together and spend time in the kitchen making a healthy treat for my trip to the gym.  The result was a very tasty energy bar without all that processed crap.  The best part is that I already had everything in the pantry and I bet you do too.

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No Bake Energy Bars (vegetarian recipe)

1.5 cups puffed rice cereal
1 cup uncooked quick cooking oats
2 Tbls ground flaxseed
1/4 cup chopped nuts (raw nuts are best)
1/8 cup raw pumpkin seeds
2 prunes
2 dried mission figs
1/8 cup raisins
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbls brown rice protein (you can use your favorite protein powder…or none)

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Heat the brown rice syrup, peanut butter and vanilla until the peanut butter is slightly melted and the mixture combines.  Careful not to burn the peanut butter mixture.  This only takes about 30 seconds.  Add the peanut butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon.  Eventually you will  need to mix with your hands to get all the dry ingredients combined with the wet.

Press the mixture into an 8×8 brownie pan and chill for 30 minutes to set.  Cut into 9 equal squares.  Each square contains:

240 calories, 12 g fat (1.5 g sat. fat), 0 cholesterol, 101 mg sodium, 133 mg potassium,
29 g carbohydrates (4 fiber & 12 sugar), 8 g protein

Let’s talk Vitamins & Supplements

I will be the first to admit that I resisted the benefits of vitamins for a very long time.  Let’s face it, I was 65 pounds overweight and obviously not too concerned about my health.  The decision to lose weight was a personal one and a very well planned one at that.  I knew that I needed to make lifestyle changes and not just drop the pounds by starving myself.  I was getting sick on  a regular basis when I was at my heaviest and I was eating all the wrong foods.  I knew that a change in my diet was going to be a shock to my system and my immune system was already weak so I talked to my doctor and did a lot of reading on vitamins.  In the beginning I was taking a multi-vitamin, Fish Oil, CoQ10, Fiber and Echinacea and I was buying whatever was on sale without much research on the product.   I was making better food choices, exercising and losing weight.  I was feeling great.

When I made the move to a vegetarian diet six months ago everyone was worried that I was going to be missing vital nutrients like protein, calcium, B12 and Omega 3 Fatty Acids.   I’ll admit that I did get a very bad cold during the first month of my vegetarian diet, but I expected my body to react that way.  I was shocking my system again and it was ridding itself of all the animal toxins.  After two months I really started to see the difference in how I felt and looked.  My skin was clearer, my hair was stronger and I wasn’t suffering from those nagging digestive issues.  I want to be truthful and tell you that the first 3 months I was very strict about not eating much dairy or eggs, but in the past two months I got lazy and have eaten more dairy.  The results are clear that I need to continue to limit dairy and egg products.  In the two months I’ve been adding more of these products to my diet I’ve had numerous stomach issues and had gained two pounds.  YUCK!

So how does this tie in to vitamins and supplements?  I know…get to the point Carrie!  A strict vegetarian or vegan diet may cause deficiencies in your intake of protein, calcium, B12, Iron, Zinc, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Iodine and Riboflavin.  It takes careful planning in the variety of foods you eat and how you consume them.  I’m still learning all of the ways in which I should combine greens, beans, fruits,etc.. to maximize my nutrient intake, so I take a vegetarian dietary supplement from GNC.  The Maximum Greens Vitapak provides me with all the important nutrients that I might be deficient in except protein.  I get my protein from soy, legumes and occasionally I use a brown  rice protein powder.

I’m confident that my current vitamin regimen is giving me what I need…are you?  What vitamins do you take and how do you decide which products are right for you.

Natural Cholesterol Management – Kardea

Several weeks ago I received a sample pack of Kardea Nutrition Bars.  The sample pack included Banana Walnut, Chai Spice, Cranberry Almond and Lemon Ginger.  The bars are vegetarian and two of them are even vegan.  I reviewed the ingredient list and nutritional facts and gave them a try.  The Lemon Ginger was my favorite, which is funny because I didn’t like the sound of the combination and saved it for last.  I love the fact that they use brown rice syrup as a sweetener rather than processed sugar.  The texture was very nice and they all tasted good.  I was actually surprised by this.  How many companies hit on all of their flavors?  I love Lara Bars, but some of the flavors are just way too sweet for me.

Three years ago I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and high triglycerides.  My numbers were not so high that I had to go on medication, but given my family history of heart disease I was determined to get back into healthy range.  I started exercising and adding more fiber to my diet.  I very carefully monitored my fat and cholesterol intake.  I lost 45 pounds and had the blood work done again after 18 months.  I am happy to report that my numbers are now in the healthy range and I am no longer considered obese.

I wish I had know about these bars 2 years ago.  It would have been great to incorporate these into my breakfast choices.  Oatmeal gets a bit old every day no matter how many things you add to it.  So what’s the science behind Kardea?  The following is taken from their website www.kardeanutrition.com:

Nutrition can play one of three roles in regards to cholesterol levels:

  1. Positive Nutrition actively reduces LDLs, VLDLs and triglycerides. It also can increase HDLs. Positive nutrients include plant sterols, viscous soluble fibers, good fats such as monounsaturated fats and Omega-3s, and niacin from nicotinic acid.
  2. Negative Nutrition actively raises LDLs and triglycerides, or decreases HDLs. Known negative nutrients are trans fat and saturated fat. A high level of processed carbohydrates also has been shown to negatively affect your HDL cholesterol levels.
  3. Neutral Nutrition neither positively nor negatively affects cholesterol levels.

At Kardea, we focus on developing natural foods and dietary supplements that provide meaningful levels of positive nutrients while minimizing the negative ones. We classify these nutrients in terms of level of scientific support.

Tier One nutrients are defined as those for which there is significant scientific agreement resulting in a broad consensus within the medical community. For cholesterol management, this consensus is embodied in the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) “Treatment Panel III” of the National Institutes of Health.

How do these potential results compare with many of the cholesterol medications now being prescribed? According to the NCEP, “The amount of LDL cholesterol reduction compares well with many cholesterol lowering drugs.”

Participants in the NCEP include the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, American Dietetic Association, National Institutes of Health, Food & Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Click here to view NCEP report “Lowering Your Cholesterol with TLC”).

Tier Two nutrients are based on strong and extensive scientific evidence, but the very broad consensus defined by the NCEP has not yet developed.

*Higher doses of niacin from nicotinic acid can raise HDLs by 35% while significantly lowering LDLs. Consult with your physician if considering these higher levels.

I want to thank Kardea for sending me the sample pack and I plan on ordering some more bars to incorporate into my diet.

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me.  At times I do accept and keep free products, services, travel, event tickets, and other forms of compensation from companies and organizations.   The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog.  I am not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely mine. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

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