Maintain, Don’t Gain: Week 4

How was indulgence week? I NAILED IT…not. You guys, I couldn’t make it 3 whole days without sugar. I might have overstepped by restricting bread, pretzels, basically all baked goods and sweet sauces. It was misery. And I went overboard and ate candy corn. It felt terrible, not only because of the sugar and insulin spikes and crashes, but the disappointment.

However, failures are the way to success, right? And I learned a valuable lesson: moderation is key, even when talking about restricting something. So I took the cheat day easy, and allowed myself a couple of sugar-sweetened items each day. It staved off the crazy crackhead bingefest, and I actually came out of the week feeling pretty good.

But hold onto your hats, kids, because this week is a mother effer.

This week’s challenge: No more than TEN DRINKS for the whole WEEK!

Hang back from alcohol this week.

Cheers, you fellow lushes!

(Mark how many you have in a day). 1 drink = 1 beer, 6 oz wine, or 1 oz liquor. Martinis are 3 drinks, y’all!

KILLJOY! WET BLANKET! PARTY POOPER! No, I’m your guardian angel. You’ll thank me when you second-guess that glass of homemade egg nog. Which, by the way, can have 850 calories! EIGHT HUNDRED FIFTY! Wouldn’t you rather get a hamburger and small fries? Or you know, a full nutritious meal and then some? No? Well, that’s one drink you need to mark off this week.

A reason for this week’s challenge is I realized several years ago that boy, do I love my tasty adult beverages. I mean LOVE them. And when it comes to the holidays, I tend to enjoy them much much more. And it’s not the calories in the alcohol that are necessarily the problem, it’s the lowered inhibitions that come along with excessive drinking. I’m not talking spring-break-style-flashing-the-family-and-the-neighbors-style-inhibitions, I’m talking about scarfing down on extra food you don’t necessarily want or need.

This challenge is tough. I’m not gonna lie. Especially with the stress of the holidays, standing on your feet all day, cooking all day, snacking all day. But that’s why it’s a challenge. You can take it a step further and pour yourself a glass of water every time you think of reaching for the bubbly (or mulled wine, or spiked hot chocolate…).

I hope you’ll join me this week and try to have a healthier holiday.

So, if you haven’t already, Print out your pdf and keep track of your bevvies for the week.

Feel free to comment here, tweet, or pin your progress!

Cheers!

Please note: I am not a health professional. I am not a trainer or dietician. I am a fitness enthusiast. If you embark on a new fitness or diet regimen, please consult your doctor and pay attention to your body and health. This is a social challenge to encourage health and fitness through the holidays. Your choice to participate is not the responsibility of Committed LLC. 

My Milkshake Brings all the Boys to the Yard

“Just get the perfect blend
Plus what you have within
Then next his eyes will squint…”

Read more: Kelis – Milkshake Lyrics | MetroLyrics

If those boys were interested in healthy living, and liked chocolate, they’d totally come to my yard for these smoothies.

I saw a Dr. Oz once where he added avocado to his breakfast smoothie. Gross? Good? I had to try it. I have to say, pretty good. What’s great about it is that it adds a nice creamy texture. Cutting back on how much you add helps tame the avocadoey flavor (if that’s not your gig).

AND THEN. I started following Liz Dialto for fitness tips. She had a great tip: use coconut water and almond milk in smoothies instead of milk or yogurt. WHAT? I’m not a huge fan of the taste of either, but let me say, together they are okey-dokey.

Anyway, I have to share this because it’s fucking delicious. And around, 200 calories.

Smoothie ingredients

Bring in avocado and ice, and you’ve got a party in your mouth.

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No More Balking at Chicken

I was a breast gal. A chicken breast gal. But I got tired of the dried-out, one-note grossness and switched to thighs. While these have more flavor and tend to be juicier, I really wanted to go back to breasts. Mostly because they’re easy to cook. Tonight, I think I unlocked the secrets to making UNREASONABLY JUICY and delicious chicken breast.

You will need:

  • A good pan (cast iron was what I used)
  • Olive oil
  • Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice (bottled is fine)
  • A bowl or freezer bag for marinating
  • Paper towels
  • Tongs
  • Cutting board
  • Chicken breasts
juicy chicken

This was so. damn. good.

1. Marinate

      – I use a combo of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce (that’s really how it’s spelled–I had to look it up), and lemon juice. No recipe, just equal amounts of the sauces, then some lemon juice for good measure.

      – You can marinate as long as you like, but I actually only had about 8 minutes.

2. Heat the pan

      – I used a cast iron skillet, and heated olive oil to just below medium on our gas stove (between 3&4). Heat for a few minutes so the oil and pan are evenly hot.

3. Dab your chicken dry

      – Thanks to Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible, I had the forethought to use paper towels to dab and squeeze most of the liquid out of the chicken. Robert’s tip was actually to do this with scallops. The reasoning was that removing the moisture allows the meat to sear, rather than steam. When it steams, the moisture INSIDE cooks out, and you end up with a dry, chewy blob of yuck. I thought I’d try it with chicken. Holy crap, I’m glad I did.

4. Cook it

      – I learned this tip from Gilles LeFort of Ecole de Cuisine Le Fort outside of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. To get a nice sear without charring your meat, turn it every few minutes. I know some people think this is a sin, but I’ve done this for every steak since his class and it’s been carnivorous perfection. Basically, cook 2 minutes on each side, then turn every minute until it’s done. The amount of total time depends on how thick each piece is, but the breasts we made were on the thinner side, and it took about 12 minutes total. (FYI, a medium-rare filet takes 8 minutes over medium heat).

5. Rest it

      – Once the chicken is cooked through (no pink jelly in the middle, juices run clear), take it out of the pan and let it sit on a cutting board for 2 minutes. This allows the juices to stay inside. If you try to cut it right away, all the juicy goodness runs out, and you dry out your meat, yet again.

6. Devour it!

We went Mediterranean with it this time, piling the plate with homemade hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, capers, olives, and roasted red peppers. MMMMM!

hummus and veggies

So good, even a toddler will eat it!

Cupcakes and Pipe Dreams

I had simple visions of my daughter’s second birthday. A small gathering of friends, a song, some bubbly and cupcakes, hugs, and bedtime. What instead happened was a mysterious chickenpox-like outbreak on the kiddo’s legs, a trip to the doctor, and a day home from daycare. Not to worry, we’re getting through it, and made the best of a day cooped up in the house. However, I still have cupcake envy.

Had I had the afternoon to do it, I would have loved to make cupcakes like this:

Trophy Cupcakes in Seattle

Samoa from Trophy Cupcakes

Or this:

Cupcake Royale in Seattle

Triple Threat from Cupcake Royale

But instead, we went with the box kind. And you know, they don’t taste great, but it was fun to make together. I’d love to whip together my own organic, hand-picked, single origin, roasted-chocolate-salted-tamarind-pink-peppercorn-caramel whatever, but who am I kidding?

Toddlers can help cook

Boxed stuff: easy mixin’

I did make my own frosting. Mmm…butter…
I used this recipe from Martha Stewart. I halved the recipe for one box-worth of cupcakes, but kept the full amount of vanilla. I added in food coloring to get the purple color. And voila!

Chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream

Fake it ’til ya make it.

Frozen vanilla buttercream frosting

Genius idea for leftover frosting: freeze it!

I did have a moment of redemption. I had a little frosting leftover in the piping bag, and figured, why waste it? So I lined a little tray with parchment paper and piped small florets. I have to say, the ones with the chocolate chip on top were the perfect treat! I mean, it looks less pathetic popping these in your mouth than scooping spoonfuls of frosting, right? Right?

Anyway, all’s well that ends well. We had a nice little celebration and will get together with friends once the threat of contagion has lifted. Happy birthday, kiddo!

2nd birthday cupcake

Happy birthday!

Gingerbread House Party Guide

It’s sadly belated, but I’m finally posting my guide to hosting a successful gingerbread house party for grownups.

As I mentioned in this post, I revived my mother’s holiday tradition of hosting gingerbread house decorating parties for me and my friends by creating a grownups-only version 5 years ago. I don’t know if it’s the nostalgia, the tradition, or the few uninterrupted  hours of just-for-fun crafting and hanging out with friends that makes it something I look forward to every year.

2008 Gingerbread houses

First party: A friend and I pre-made all 16 houses and guests decorated. I’m never doing that again.

There’s quite a bit of prep, however, so I figured I’d share my tips and tricks with you in case YOU lovely readers decide to someday host your own version of this party. Now that I have 5 parties under my belt, I’ve got it down to a pretty efficient science. Continue reading

Fruit Stand. Sit. Stay.

On our way back to Seattle from Yakima, we stopped at one of the many fruit stands dotting the Highway 82 landscape.

This one boasted “Fruit Antiques”. Well, probably Fruit AND Antiques, but I don’t think the sign painter had the room. Anyway, it was a good stopping point, so we headed in. They did not disappoint. The fruit was fresh, the antiques old, and the wines local. I snapped a few pics around the lot. Enjoy!

Committed Fruit Pears, peaches, and apples are in season! Continue reading

Goldilocks and the Three Bowls

One of the constant battles in our marriage is how to fit dishes into the dishwasher.

Seriously, this is a topic of discussion nearly every other day. Do we need to get a life? Maybe.

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