This is a little pasta salad side dish that you can serve on a steamy summer night. I love the fact that you can incorporate fresh garden veggies! Enjoy!
½ box 4 oz. corkscrew pasta
½ bottle or so Italian dressing
Broccoli florets, handful
Chopped zucchini or summer squash
Chopped fresh basil
Handful chopped pepperconi peppers
Parmesan cheese to taste
Listen to me…I’m no expert nor do I pretend that I know what the right practices for your lifestyle will be. I’ll tell you what I do know and what I’m 100 % confident about as it pertains to my life. If you want to lose weight and become fit, you need to throw away the word diet from your vocabulary. Once you commit to a diet it solidifies pressure on many aspects of your life such as your eating habits, social eating, your exercise regiment, etc. This kind of deep hold on your life works but what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t last. Eventually it fizzles out!
My weight loss journey unexpectedly was launched through a stressful situation. I don’t wish this on anyone but it catapulted me into a different version of my life. It was a negative that transformed into a life changing positive. ( Thank you God) I was living from one sweet to the next with an overload of non-nutritious foods on the menu. I didn’t exercise nor did I wish to. I was sick for weeks every winter with a run down immune system. Lastly my emotional and mental well being went haywire, thrusting me into rough waters to try to swim out of.
One day I woke up…really emerged and I asked myself, is this the way I want to truly live, to exist and not thrive? That day I set a mini goal on the horizon, that I lose a little weight for my son’s wedding. Then I started eating healthier and lighter. Instead of eating a whole sandwich at lunch, I cut back to a half. I snacked on almonds, pistachios, fruit and veggies and hummus. I walked a few times a week with my neighbor Anita, not only experiencing a great workout but a mental strengthener from our enlightening conversations.
As my journey progressed, I maintained active in my garden and did yard work. I stacked wood with Tom while sucking my abs and bottom in. ( This sounds wacky but I feel it helped) I practiced my old Denise Austin aerobic/ exercise/ weight training dvd a few times a week. I journaled( and still do this) all the meals and snacks I ate so that I would see what I actually shoved in my mouth on a daily basis. It’s a fantastic way to stay accountable to yourself. This has been quite an eye opener as I didn’t realize how much I was eating. Journaling goes hand in hand with meal and snack planning. Jot down what your meals and snacks will be for the week and use this for a generated grocery list. Try a variety of foods so you don’t tire of your choices.
One trick that worked for me was not weighing myself. In the past on my weight loss journey, I would get upset if the scale didn’t favor me so in turn I ate. This time I went for months not weighing myself but gauged my progress through how I felt physically and how my clothes fit me. As they got baggier and bigger I knew that I was getting favorable results. Now I weigh myself once a week at school for The Biggest Loser program, which isn’t a competition but an individual track of your personal weight loss.
As of yet I have lost 33 pounds and feel unbelievable! I feel healthy, fit and in turn that helps me emotionally and mentally. Knock on wood, I haven’t caught the flu or even a cold this winter! Proper sleep at night and a multi- vitamin has its benefits as well.
Here are some of my tips that may help you:
Start small without huge expectations and pressure
Downscale your meals at first, focusing eating a variety of fresh vegetables, a protein every meal and limited carbs like potato and rice
Eat two snacks a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. That would put you at five times a day of eating( three meals and two snacks)
Drink lots of water and stay hydrated
Start exercising a few minutes at a time every day or every other day. I started at three times a week with the dvd and now I practice it four to five days a week, 50 minute workouts every time
Walk with a friend twice a week to start. Make sure you stretch first to avoid painful Charlie horses at night. This happened to me last summer! Ouch!
I skip eating bread all but maybe a piece of toast a week and sometimes a half a sandwich at lunch. It’s been a tough adjustment as I love bread! But I’ve done it and sometimes I treat myself!
Try to not talk too much about your new lifestyle, unless it’s collaboration with a friend who is doing the same thing. Sometimes talking about a diet to everyone puts pressure on yourself.
Try simple body moves while washing the dishes or brushing your teeth. I do a stretch where I try to keep my heels up tall and squeeze my legs, calves, thighs, inner thighs, bottom and abs as I go up and down a few reps. While washing dishes I kick my legs up on each side six reps while sucking my abs and bottom in.
My great snack ideas that have worked for me:
Carrot or celery sticks with hummus ( I love red pepper and the garlic flavors)
celery sticks with peanut butter
10 whole cashews, 15 almonds,or 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
apple slices and peanut butter ( sometimes I sprinkle dark chocolate chips and granola pieces on them)
pretzels with hummus
roasted chick peas 1/4 cup a serving, a great source of protein!
Avocado slices and ak- mak sesame crackers
one orange, two clementines, half a banana, one cup berries are all one serving for me
one mini box of raisins
One piece of whole grain toast ( I buy loaves of freshly baked bread from a bakery in Vermont that sells to Shaw’s) with two tablespoons peanut butter, a half of banana or apple slices
An overnight oatmeal cup, 1/2 cup steelcut oats, 1/2 cup milk, one tablespoon peanut butter, place in a small mason or jelly jar, set in fridge overnight. The next morning add apple chunks or banana slices and more milk if needed. You can eat this hot or cold, I enjoy it cold.
1/2 cup Grape Nuts or Kasha Shredded Wheat cereal with fruit
1 cooked egg with spinach and garlic, one or two slices bacon
2 small homemade pancakes with fruit one tablespoon maple syrup
One important aspect of my new eating lifestyle is treating myself! I have always savored chocolate and have adamantly decided that I will still eat it in moderation. Most of the time I treat myself three times a week, mostly on weekends so I can workout to limit the damage. Sometimes I indulge in a cup of Haagen Daas almond milk ice cream or a homemade cookie or two. Other times I have a few squares of dark chocolate or dark chocolate raisins. Don’t feel guilty if you go off track, after all you are human! Maybe a rigorous walk or workout will offset your treat intake.
I will post on this topic again as I try new things in my new life and will communicate my strengths and shortfalls. All I know now is that as a 49 plus woman ( a few months shy of the big 50), I currently feel the best that I have ever felt physically! I wish this success for you as well! I feel women need to support other women during the journey instead of tearing each other down!
Believe in yourself for you are worth changing your routine! It may take a few weeks of trial and error with building confidence, but stick with it until it becomes a positive habit.
Let me know how your eating/ exercise regiment is going. Are you committed to feeling the best you ever have? If so, take a chance and make small changes that could grow into an amazing positive lifestyle!
I made these low fat Chocolate Chip cookies with banana yesterday. All they have is two ripened bananas mashed, 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 tsp. Vanilla. Mix together. Place in tablespoons on cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake at 350 F for ten or twelve minutes. They will be soft and need to be stored in the refrigerator.
All My Best,
Heart and Soul 💕
For many years cooking for my family unfortunately was one of my disliked chores. It’s not that I didn’t love serving my family but every day and night I had to rack my brain of meal ideas and then magically throw them together for their consumption. It was the constant pressure of having it done by 5:30 or 6 and no matter what was happening with the kids, it just had to be on the table for all. I can imagine many of you busy moms feel the same way, right?
With that said, the last six months I’ve noticed a change from dread to excitement with a burst of creativity. It may be because there’s just the two of us now or the fact that I wanted to transform these feelings from dread to desire. It happened slowly at first. My flourishing garden produced fresh herbs, greens, carrots and tomatoes ( to name a few), kindling my interest in cooking. As you may know, mastering delicious and healthy meals depends on fresh ingredients!
I would pick the ingredients in the afternoon for supper that night. It was straight from our rich soil to the dinner plate. This excited me beyond belief that I was homesteading in some ways! The food started tasting more delicious, for with freshly grown ingredients and locally raised meat how could you go wrong? I experimented with pungent Basil, sassy Cilantro and lemon Thyme.
My youngest son was greatly influenced by this, learning the herb names and cutting his own for his cooking creations. His interest intensified mine and my love for cooking grew even more! There were a few summer meals we co- cooked, which was so much fun!
With a positive and creative outlook, my disliked chore is a loved one now! I think I got tired of the dread hanging over me and I wanted to feel good about creating dinner! Now I plan ahead with the ingredients, read cookbooks, browse Pinterest and borrow recipes from my blogging friends, all to craft delicious meals for my family. I’m truly grateful for making this change and turning meal time into love! Wow, the food tastes more delicious because of my new passion!
Is there a household chore you dread and dislike? Could you put some imagination and creativity into it to make it fun and rewarding? Can you make a game of it? Is there a way you can have fun doing it by listening to a podcast or your favorite music? Whatever it is, I do hope you can beautify this chore to something incredible!
All My Best,
Heart and Soul 💕
This Sunday morning I woke to yet more snow on the ground and chilly temperatures. After loading up the stove with trusty hard wood, I ventured to my kitchen to create a warm wholesome breakfast! My husband was out snow plowing while I happily cooked. One of his favorite breakfast foods is crepes, a thin pancake made with flour, salt, milk, an egg, and oil. ( I use coconut oil and added a few tablespoons of Oat flour to the white.)
I try to use up what I have in the fridge and freezer and since I had a few frozen whole strawberries, I tried my hand at making strawberry sauce. My first time, other than making blueberry sauce! I put the strawberries in a small pot, added honey, cinnamon and water. It took a few minutes to boil and then I turned down the heat to a low simmer. It smelled like homemade jam and tasted so delicious with a bit of New Hampshire maple syrup and crepes!
Below is the Crepe Recipe I took from my aged Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.
1 cup flour ( I added 3 Tbls. Oat flour for a healthy nutty taste)
1 1/2 cup milk ( I used Lactose free Milk)
1 Tbls. Oil ( I used Coconut oil melted)
1/4 tsp. Salt
Combine dry ingredients. Add milk, eggs and oil. Beat until blended. Heat a skillet or electric skillet. I brush it with butter. Spoon about 2- 3 Tbls. batter for crepe. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with blueberry or strawberry sauce and top with maple syrup.
I hope you enjoy your Sunday morning breakfast and savor every delicious bite!
All My Best,
Heart and Soul
A few weeks ago we celebrated the union of family when my son’s girlfriend came to visit. I thought it would be fun to get our family together on a Friday night to make our own pizzas. To start, I made my father- in- law’s pizza sauce a few days before. Next I bought Boboli crusts, different cheeses such as Mozzarella, Extra Sharp ( my favorite because I can eat it being lactose intolerant), Monterey Jack and Parmesan. I sliced peppers, broccoli, onions and black olives. Unfortunately the pepperoni stick I bought smelled bad so I ditched the pepperoni idea. ( Next time I won’t buy the Bridgford brand)
While we chatted, everyone made their own pizzas. Once we were done we sat at the dining room table and ate much to our hearts’ content. Lexy brought bacon maple cupcakes for us to enjoy for dessert! It was fun to play card games after, screw your neighbor ( it sounds naughty but it’s not, you just trick your neighbor) and Emma Jo’s version of Trash.
All in all it was a special evening of family connections. It’s these times that bring joy to a mother’s life. I value the moments we can unite, talk and laugh. How could anything else be more important, than family?
Here’s a thought…create your own pizza night. Maybe you’ll want to make your own crusts! Next time I’ll invest more time to make my own pizza dough, which involves more time. Invite family or friends. Do your research ahead and ask your guests what they prefer for toppings so you’ll be prepared. Plan on games or conversation starters after dessert. Enjoy the memories you’ll make!
All My Best,
Heart and Soul 🍕🍕🍕
If you live in the wintry Northeast of the United States, you know that many January activities involve the cold, snow or inside venues. I compiled a little to do list for you New Englanders to try this month. If you live elsewhere ask yourself if any of these ideas would work for you.
- Go sledding with your family and friends! We have a long Tobaggon that I won at work many years ago. It can hold two or three bodies and goes like the wind!
- Host a Saturday lunch for friends. I’m hosting my two friends Laurie and Michelle in a couple of weeks. Serve hot or cold sandwiches or homemade soup. Have tea, coffee or hot beverages available.
- Organize desk drawers or cluttered countertops. It’s easier now while the weather is colder outside. Once spring comes, you’re going to want to be outside instead.
- Organize your printed photographs or digital thumbprints. Label folders such as Christmas 2018 or Summer 2018.
- Take an afternoon hike in the woods. Tom and I hiked about a mile to check on his game camera and feed the local deer. It was simply magical with snow falling while we were in the midst of the stand of trees. Animal tracks spiraled throughout the woods like a crazy maze.
- Build a cozy fire in the stove or fireplace and cuddle up nearby. Watch a good movie, Mr. Church on Netflix. It’s a heartwarming story of a mother and daughter who have a cook who becomes part of the family. Read a good book! Right now I’m reading The Divide by Nicholas Evans about a family facing a tragic loss of their daughter and the search to find out what happened to her.
I hope you all enjoy the month of January and everything that comes with it!
All My Best,
Heart and Soul ❤️
My kitchen has turned into my sweet little refuge lately. It is huge now with plenty of space to cook or bake. Since I have ample room, I have decorated it with inviting elements that speak to me. As I cook or bake, the winter light seeps into my tall windows. My twinkly lights play their magic as I enjoy the calm space. Glorious heat from the oven makes the kitchen toasty, especially welcoming in chilly January! Being in my kitchen brings me tremendous joy!
In our last house our kitchen was a tight galley space, one that I adapted to, but never really loved. That lack of space, especially counter space, made any cooking or baking task a huge challenge. Now I have a 26 x 14 sized room, enough room to host a family cooking and talking. I have plenty of counter space as well as a bar top, where sometimes I cool baked goods on.
If you feel like your kitchen space isn’t welcoming or peaceful you may want to change that. There are simple things you can do to create a kitchen that you love. I’m working on another post focusing on kitchen ambience so be on the lookout.
Lately I’ve noticed some quick and easy baking and cooking tips that I’ve started using and have aided me as I work.
Try covering top of mixer with a dish towel, when adding puffy flour, otherwise flour will sift all over counter.
Store all your Kitchen Aid attachments in the bowl where they are easy to access. I have my bowl lined with a dish cloth as well.
Place spoon rest next to work area and have paper towels handy.
Cool cookies on racks. I have one with legs and one flat one, a double decker.
Place in airtight plastic containers instead of cookie jars. That keeps them fresh. Instead stash packaged candy in the jar or your cookie cutter collection.
Place a fresh piece of bread with cookies to maintain moisture and soften cookies. This works great for me!
Place brown sugar in air tight container. It’s so annoying to try to soften it while you are immersed in a recipe!
Have soapy dishwater ready for cooking and baking dishes, pots and pans.
For a busy family holiday meal, call upon the guys to help with heavy pots and lifting. Tom and my brother-in-law Chris were a great help to Bev and I at Thanksgiving. They helped lift the big pot of gravy.
I found that having the oven on to help dough rise helps. Place on top of stove with damp kitchen cloth.
Plan your baking times, if needed, bake on different days so items don’t rest too long waiting for the oven. On Christmas Eve my cinnamon rolls rose too big ( they still came out delicious but they rose out of the baking pan) while I was baking the chocolate cake. It would have been handy to have two oven chambers!
I am curious what valuable kitchen tips you practice often. Please share with me, for I’m always looking for cheats to make cooking and baking easier.
All My Best,
Heart and Soul 😀
We are fortunate to spend under $50 a month on television entertainment. Years ago we were fortunate enough to have our employer pay for our satellite tv. Back then cable wasn’t available in our neck of the woods and that was the best you had. Now many tv watchers are rethinking the high cost of cable and satellite services and are resorting to downstreaming apps such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime to name a few. We have those three services as well as YouTube available on our PlayStation console. I’m happy to report my avid tv watching husband is completely satisfied with all the shows, something that worried me in the beginning.
Here are a few Netflix suggestions that are downstreaming currently.
Wonder ( this is on the dvd plan but also available on Amazon’s Prime)
A sentimental family film featuring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson. It’s about fifth grade Auggie who has facial deformities and his loving family who supports him throughout. It’s based on the book and years ago I read it in school with fourth graders.
The Holiday Calendar
This movie is about a motivated photographer who is gifted a magical advent calendar. The calendar could lead her right to love. It’s a sweet holiday story with that Hallmark feel.
El Camino Christmas
This movie drew me in and I don’t usually like robberies or violent movies. I’m not sure if it was the acting and their interesting characters or bonds that are formed…all I know is that it was a good movie and very entertaining!
Julie & Julia
An oldie from 2009 but a great movie. It is about a woman who cooks up all of Julia Child’s recipes. Meryl Streep is fabulous in this! I would recommend this to you if you love to cook!
This flick is also an oldie from 2010 starring Drew Barrymore. She is a reporter who writes about stranded whales in the Article Circle. Based on true events, the US and USSR work on rescuing the whales. A good family movie!
This time of year I get my Christmas movies out to compliment Netflix. Every weekend and some week nights I choose one to watch in front of our Christmas tree. Yesterday I chose A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott. I remember long ago as a teenager watching it and loving his acting. It’s a calming way to indulge in a hot cup of coffee in my comfy armchair. Within the next few weeks I’ll view It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone and I’ll Be Home for Christmas.
What movies do you watch this time of year?Are you also bypassing cable tv and opting for downstreaming apps?
All My Best,
Heart and Soul
On the last snow day from school, I decided to bake this delicious looking version of pumpkin bars from Together as a family site and will post the link to the recipe. I apologize for not having a picture of these but take my word, THEY ARE DELICIOUS! Check out the original recipe at https://togetherasfamily.com/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-bars/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=pinterest&utm_campaign=tailwind_tribes&utm_content=tribes&utm_term=433083832_14813236_267507.
Who doesn’t love pumpkin, especially in late fall? Chocolate is a huge favorite of mine too. A short time ago I discovered both together in a recipe on Pinterest. The pumpkin has a bold taste and sweet and creamy chocolate compliments it, much like with peanut butter.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies
adapted from Together as Family Blog, Jessica is the author.
My version is going to host semi- sweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate chips. I used One- Pie pumpkin filling.