Thursday, October 27, 2011

Starbucks, Grilled Cheese, and Spark People

These are a few of my favorite things!  I have been a huge fan of the Lose It! program in terms of logging calories, but I have always been frustrated that the application doesn't let you plan ahead.  I have often used to look for recipes and calculate my own recipes, but I just recently discovered how much I love their nutrition planner.  You can either eat the plan they give you, make substitutions, or create your own plan.  You can log as you go or plan ahead.  Planning ahead is so crucial.  I have learned through experience and the Made to Crave study that planning is a must.  Instead of feeling deprived it makes me feel empowered.  I have been using Spark People all week long with some success.  I love it so far, because the food database is extensive. You can search the custom foods that other Spark members have already plugged in.  Plus you can access the extensive recipe database (including your own spark recipes) to plan your meals making calorie counting streamlined.  It also pulls together your grocery list for the week based upon your plan (even if you change it to your own recipes!).  You can pull it up on your mobile app, Ipad, or computer.  I prefer using the nutrition tracker on the computer and printing out each day so I can just eat the same thing in the future.  You can track your exercise as well.  The best part is that it's all free! Next let me tell you how the day is going so far.

This morning I had a delicious waffle with blueberry and raspberry compote, topped with a dollop of Cool Whip Free.  I also had my Starbucks Espresso & Cream Double Shot Light.

Mid morning a friend needed some moral support, and it called for comfort food.  I stopped and picked up a Starbucks Pumpkin & Cream muffin and two tall skinny vanilla lattes.  Even though we split the muffin it was still a calorie splurge (a deliciously, sinful one!).  It was my first taste of pumpkin for the fall season.  I'm waiting until closer to Thanksgiving to make Eat Yourself Skinny's mini pumpkin cheesecakes.  Perhaps I should have ordered a tall nonfat pumpkin spice latte instead for only 200 calories, but tears cry out for comfort food.

Since I splurged on a decadent snack I decided I had better show some restraint for lunch.  I tried to stick to half a cup of cream of tomato soup with 4 saltines and half a grilled cheese sandwich.  However, I went back for seconds on the soup.  It was delicious.  I was able to cut calories, rather than flavor, on the grilled cheese by spraying the bread with Parkay spray.  I sprayed the pan with PAM.  I know it seems odd to make half a grilled cheese sandwich, but I knew I could not withstand the temptation if I made a whole sandwich.  I literally cut the slice of bread and cheese in half before I grilled it.  I saved 110 calories so there is a method to the madness.

Low calorie eating does not mean starving so I carefully planned out a balanced meal for dinner.  I don't think a fish fillet and half of Amy's Mac & Cheese will fill me up enough.  I know I will be tempted to eat double the serving of mac & cheese so I plan to round out the meal with steamed green beans.  If you feel deprived trying to eat a lower calorie intake, then chances are you are not getting enough fruits, vegetables, and water in your diet.  I know it's tough.  Vegetables aren't necessarily at the top of my list either, but they are loaded with nutrients.  If you want to feel good and feel satiated, then vegetables are a must.  Now I'm off to get my workout in.  I need to make sure that muffin doesn't go straight to my muffin top!

Here are all the nutrition facts on my meals for today thanks to


Calories Fat Carbohydrates Protein
Eggo Homestyle Waffle, 0.5 serving 95 4 15 3
Agave Nectar syrup, 0.34 tbsp 20 0 5 0
Blueberries, frozen (unsweetened), 0.25 cup, unthawed 20 0 5 0
Raspberries, 0.33 cup 20 0 5 0
Cool Whip Free, 1 tbsp 8 0 2 0
Doubleshot Espresso Light, 1 serving 70 0 0 0
Meal Totals 233 4 31 3


Calories Fat Carbohydrates Protein
American Cheese, 1 slice (1 oz) 106 9 0 6
Milk, 2%, 0.37 cup 45 2 4 3
Saltine Crackers (Saltines), 6 cracker 77 2 13 2
Campbell's Tomato Soup, 0.75 cup 135 0 30 3
Bread, Sara Lee Delightful Reduced Calorie 100% Multi Grain, 0.5 serving 45 1 9 3
Meal Totals 408 13 56 17


Calories Fat Carbohydrates Protein
Green Beans (snap), 12 beans (4" long) 20 0 5 1
Costco's Sea Cuisine Tortilla Crusted Tilapia with Chipotle & Lime, 1 serving 180 10 6 16
Amy's Kitchen Macaroni & Cheese (9 oz.), 0.5 serving 205 8 24 8
Meal Totals 405 18 34 25


Calories Fat Carbohydrates Protein
Starbuck's Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin, 0.5 serving 245 12 32 3
Starbuck Skinny Vanilla Latte (tall), 12 oz 90 0 14 9
Meal Totals 335 12 46 12
Daily Totals 1,382 47 167 57
Daily Goal 1200 - 1550 32 - 56 163 - 236 60 - 127

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Praline Pecan Oatmeal & Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

My breakfast was so delicious yesterday that I had to have it again today.  I'm on a really big kick of flavoring my own oatmeal.  I used to buy the packets that were already flavored, but then I read that ingredients.  I think it was after reading something like "banana flavor" that I thought, "I can do a lot better than this."  I wish I had made that discovery a long time ago.  I am still buying instant oatmeal, though.  Here is my recipe:

Praline Pecan Oatmeal

1 packet instant oatmeal, 100 calories
1 tsp. Agave Nectar, 20 calories
1/4 cup boiling water or to desired consistency
5 Praline Pecans, crushed, 88 calories

Total calories = 208

Boil the water in the microwave on high for 1 minute.  Put the pecans in a plastic sandwich bag, and crush with a rolling pin. 

Add oatmeal, agave nectar, pralines, and water to a bowl.  Mix, and top with the fruit of your choice.  I like to top it with 1/2 a banana, because it tastes like banana nut bread.  It would be good with apples or dried cranberries, too.

P.S.  You have to check out my girl, Kelly's guest post on Colourful Palate.  She posted a recipe for Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes, no baking involved!  You have to check out Kelly's blog too, Eat Yourself Skinny.  She has her recipes listed by Weight Watcher's points!  She was kind enough to guest post my Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze recipe.  (Big thanks, Kelly!)

Felice a basso contenuto calorico mangiando!  (Italian for happy low calorie eating!)


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Month's Worth of Low-Cal Dinners at Home

Before I get to the juicy bits about recipes for dinner I would like to brag on the breakfast I ate this morning and the surprisingly, decent lunch I ate yesterday.  I had to get up super early this morning to meet with a client so initially I started the day with a can of Seattle's Best Coffe Iced Mocha (130 calories).  It is unfortunately loaded with sugar (Boo!) but so tasty.  After meeting with my client I made a quick, easy breakfast of 1 frozen pancake (100 calories).  I thawed it out in the microwave for 10 seconds and finished it in the toaster to get it crispy.  Meanwhile, I measured out a half a cup of frozen wild blueberries (35 calories) and added 1 tsp. of organic, real maple syrup (22 calories).  I stirred the mixture to coat the blueberries with the syrup, and then I heated the blueberries in the microwave for 30 seconds until they were warm.  I topped the pancake with the blueberry compote, poured myself 4 oz. of O.J. (55 calories), and voila!  Breakfast was served!  Total calories added up to 342 if you include my morning mocha.

Now let's go back to yesterday's lunch.  I do not typically eat a lot of frozen, processed entrees.  When I do eat processed foods I usually stick to Amy's Kitchen items, because they are natural and organic.  I strayed yesterday on a whim.  Sorry, Amy's.  I went to the grocery store hungry, which is a big no, no.  I found myself distracted by the Weight Watcher's Smart Ones.  I couldn't peel my eyes off the Pasta with Ricotta and Spinach.  That sounded fantastic, and I was hungry!  I thought, "how bad could it be, and it's only 280 calories!"  I nuked it for lunch and added 2 tsp. of grated parmesan (20 calories) to kick up the flavor.  Much to my surprise it was delicious!  It was a modest portion, but each bite tasted like heaven!  It reminded me of a recipe that I have been meaning to try for dinner sometime, Penne and Asparagus with Ricotta Cheese.  I think I got the recipe from the book, I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening by Devin Alexander.

Dinner is by far the hardest time to eat low-calorie.  It takes some planning.  I would also like to point out that it is really easy to be famished by dinner time if you don't eat a well-balanced afternoon snack.  Dinner should be a healthy balance of good carbs (think high-fiber!), protein, and a little bit of fat.  I would suggest eating  a little bit lower calorie for breakfast, lunch, and snacks so that you can have a substantial dinner of 500 to 600 calories.  Since this is the most tempting meal to overeat it just makes sense to plan to eat a little more at dinner but with restraint.  I researched some of the highest rated recipes from some great recipe websites.  I haven't tried every single one of these, but they all sound fantastic.  Feel free to post recipe links and reviews in the comments.  Here are my picks for meals to try at home in no particular order:

(Click on the links for the recipes.)

Sauteed Chicken Breast with Creamy Chive Sauce, 1 breast, 244 calories
Sauteed Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes, 1 cup, 71 calories
Mashed Potatoes, 3/4 cup, 178 calories
Total Calories = 493

4 oz. Filet Mignon, seasoned with sea salt & pepper, grilled, 202 calories
Mashed Garlicky Potatoes, 3/4 cup, 217 calories
Portabella Gravy, 44 calories
Green Giant Steam in the Bag Green Beans, 3/4 cup, 25 calories
Total Calories = 488

Mushroom Gorgonzola Soup, 275 calories
4 oz. Filet Mignon, seasoned with garlic salt & pepper, grilled, 202 calories
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus w/Balsamic Glaze, (My guest post on Eat Yourself Skinny!), 103 calories
Total Calories = 580

Alfredo Pesto Chicken, 1-6 oz. Breast, 231 calories
Whole Wheat Spaghetti, 1 cup cooked, 176 calories
Frozen Peas, boiled or steamed, 1/2 cup, 62 calories
Total Calories = 469

Healthy Chicken Parmesan, 1/2 recipe, 402 calories
Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta Cream, 1/4 recipe, 156 calories
Total Calories = 558

Spinach and Mushroom Veggie Lasagna, 1/12 recipe, 337 calories
Pepperidge Farm's Frozen Garlic Texas Toast, 1 slice, 150 calories
Total Calories = 487

Pork Chops w/ Gorgonzola & Pears, 618
8 Asparagus spears, steamed or roasted, 19 calories
Total Calories = 637

Pulled Pork, 2/3 cup, 220 calories
Sara Lee Whole Wheat Bun, 200 calories
Oven Sweet Potato Fries, 1/2 large sweet potato, 122 calories (or Alexia Sweet Potato Fries, 10 pieces)
Pickles, 2 sandwich slices, 10 calories
Total Calories = 552

Broiled Center Loin Bone-in Pork Chop, 3 oz. yeild, 204 calories
Barbecue Sauce for basting, 1/4 cup, 50 calories
Cheese Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, 324 calories
Wilted Spinach (fresh), season w/nutmeg, salt, pepper. 1 1/2 cup (measured raw),  20 calories
Total Calories =  598

Lemon-Rosemary Chicken w/Potatoes, 285 calories
Green Giant Baby Brussel Sprouts & Butter Sauce, 1/2 cup, 60 calories
Baby Carrots, cooked, 1/2 cup, 27 calories
Total Calories = 372

Pea and Pesto Soup, 1/4 recipe, 163 calories
Rotisserie Chicken Breast, no skin, 5 oz., 172 calories
Whole Wheat Spaghetti, 1 cup cooked, 176 calories
Classico Alfredo sauce, 1/4 cup, 80 calories
2 tsp. Grated Parmesan, 20  calories
Total Calories = 611

Blue Cheese Burger, 2 oz. patty, no bun, 335 calories
Bacon, 1 medium slice, 46 calories
Wilted Spinach (fresh), season w/nutmeg, salt, pepper. 1 1/2 cup (measured raw),  20 calories
Alexia Rosemary & Garlic Oven Fries,  8 pieces, 110 calories
Total Calories = 511

Bacon Cheeseburger, 1/6 recipe, 498 calories
Zucchini Oven Chips, 1/4 recipe, 75 calories
Total Calories = 573

Arroz Con Pollo, 3 oz. or 1/6 recipe, 196 calories
Steamed Brown Rice, 1 cup,  216 calories
Kuner's Southwestern Refried Beans w/Roasted Chiles, 1/2 cup, 130 calories
Total Calories = 529

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, 2 enchiladas, 392 calories
Kuner's Southwestern Jalapeno Black Beans w/Lime Juice, 1/2 cup, 130 calories
Total Calories = 522

Easy Veggie Quesadilla, 274 calories
Green Rice, 1/4 recipe, 153 calories
Total Calories = 427

Chicken Fajitas (with all the fixin's), 1/8 recipe, 278 calories
X 2  (Make sure you click through to the measurements of the condiments.)
Total calories = 556

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken, 2/3 cup, 155 calories
La Tiara Taco Shells, 3 shells, 120 calories
2% Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, 1/4 cup, 80 calories
Fresh Tomato, diced, seeded, 1/4 cup, 8 calories
Romaine Lettuce, shredded, 1/2 cup, 4 calories
Kuner's Southwestern Pinto Beans w/Jalapenos, 1/2 cup, 130 calories
Total calories = 497

Fish Tacos with Black Beans, see my October 6, 2011 post.
Total calories = 446

Giada's Pasta Ponza, 1/6 recipe, 414 calories
Breaded Tilapia Fillet (frozen), 1 fillet baked, 200 calories
Total calories = 614

Breaded Tilapia Fillet (frozen), 1 fillet baked, 200 calories
Lemon Caper Mayo, 2 Tbsp., 71 calories
Chef Meg's Simple Quinoa and Vegetables, 1/2 cup w/2 tsp. viniagrette, 293 calories
Total calories = 564

Lemon-Artichoke Chicken, 1 breast, 437 calories
Whole Wheat Spaghetti, 1/2 cup cooked, 88 calories w/2 tsp. Grated Parmesan, 20  calories
Baby Spinach (fresh), season w/nutmeg, salt, pepper.  Wilt.  1 and 1/2 cup (measured raw),  20 calories
Total calories = 565

Spaghetti Carbonara, 412 calories
Garlic Bread, 78 calories
Total calories = 490

Jamie Oliver's Proper Bloke's Sausage Fusilli (Madeover),  1/4 recipe, 569 calories
Total calories = 569

Hungry-Girl Pizza Swap, 1 pizza, 290 calories (I prefer to sub in Turkey Pepperoni for the Sausage.)
Cajun Chicken Caesar Salad,  196 calories (Use pre-grilled or leftover chicken to make it super easy.)
Total calories = 486

Baked Glazed Ham, 4 oz., 160 calories
Reduced Fat Scalloped Potato Gratin, 1/6 recipe, 260 calories
Steamed Broccoli, 1/2 cup, 25 calories
Total calories = 445

Sirloin steak, seasoned with sea salt & Montreal Steak seasoning, broiled, lean, 4 oz., 212 calories
Loaded Baked Potato, 382 calories (I prefer the broccoli on the side.)
Total calories = 594

Sirloin steak, seasoned with sea salt and pepper, broiled, lean, 4 oz., 212 calories
Sauteed Peppered Mushrooms, 1/4 recipe, 56 calories
Hungry Girl Hustle N' Brussels Foil Pack (at bottom of the newsletter), 1/2 pack, 182 calories
Total calories = 450 calories

Oven-Baked Crispy Chicken Tenders w/Coleslaw, 519 calories
Tartar Sauce, 27 calories
Green Giant Steam in the Bag Green Beans, 3/4 cup, 25 calories
Total calories = 571

Penne Alla "Not-Ka," 1/4 recipe, 371 calories
Large Shrimp, broiled, 4 pieces, 22 calories (Serve with the past or the salad.  Your choice!)
Alton Brown's Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing, 1/4 recipe, 118 calories
Total calories = 511

Pepper and Lemon Crusted Salmon, 1 fillet & 1/4 asparagus, 459 calories (This recipe if from a BBC blog so be sure to convert the oven temp to 350 degrees.)
Sunshine Rice, 1/3 cup, 180 calories
Total calories = 639

Easy Salmon Cakes, 1 patty, 324 calories
Creamy Dill Sauce, 1 Tbsp., 28 calories
Balsamic & Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower, 1 cup, 149 calories
Wilted Spinach (fresh), season w/nutmeg, salt, pepper.  1 1/2 cups (measured raw),  20 calories
Total calories = 521

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Santa Fe Chicken Salad

230-Calorie Breakfast on the Run
I am making a really solid try to get more fruits and vegetables in my diet.  Yesterday I think I did a pretty good job.  I started the day early so all I had time for in the morning was my Starbuck's Espresso & Cream (the light version this time! 70 calories) and a chocolate protein shake (160 calories).  I planned out my lunch the night before using Lose It! on my Iphone.  Unfortunately the app doesn't let you plan ahead a day in advance so I just log everything a day behind.  Part of the Made to Crave study that I am doing is making sure to plan ahead.  Anytime I have been really successful at weight loss this was crucial.  Planning ahead keeps me from just eating how I feel, and I continue to look forward to the next planned meal.  It makes me feel empowered instead of deprived just like the book suggests.

400-Calorie Veggielicious Lunch
I had bought Santa Fe Chicken Salad prepared from the deli so I do not have an exact calorie count for it.  However, I only ate a small portion of about 2 ounces (estimated 174 calories) with romaine lettuce on a whole wheat roll (96 calories).  It was delicious, and I know I could make a lower calorie version at home.  I ate the sandwich after my veggies which included 1/2 cup of carrot chips (25 calories) with 2 Tbsp. cucumber hummus (50 calories), and a cup of broccoli/cauliflower salad (27 calories) tossed with 1 Tbsp. of lite Italian dressing (28 calories).  With all that fiber I was stuffed!

Check out this low-cal version I just posted on  I haven't tested it out yet so be sure to add your reviews.  We can tweak it together if it needs something.

Santa Fe Chicken Salad Sandwiches


    12 oz. of Grilled Chicken Breasts
    1/4 cup canned Black Beans, drained and rinsed
    1/4 cup yellow sweet corn, thawed
    1/4 cup low fat sour cream
    1/2 cup of prepared Pico de Gallo (or make your own fresh tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice)
    4 Romaine lettuce leaves
    4 Whole Wheat Slider-size Rolls


Chop the chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes. Mix with the beans, corn, sour cream, and pico de gallo. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with romaine lettuce on whole wheat rolls. Add some veggies on the side for a well balanced lunch.

Serving Size: 4 servings,
  • Calories: 224.9
  • Total Fat: 4.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 55.2 mg
  • Sodium: 234.6 mg
  • Total Carbs: 20.8 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.9 g
  • Protein: 24.3 g
After lunch it was time to get my exercise in between clients so I took a walk in Kansas City's beautiful Loose Park.   It was gorgeous, and I think I stopped too many time to take pics to really get my heart rate up.  I stopped to check out the fountains, the ducks, and the roses. 

I enjoyed the 77 degree weather.  It was glorious.  I took lots of lovely pics of the rose garden, but I think this one was my favorite.  I love roses with hot pink just on the tip of the petals.
186-Calorie Decadence
After the walk it was back to work and then later it was time for my mid-afternoon snack.  Since I had skipped the delicious breakfast I had planned the night before I decided to have the breakfast--more like dessert--as a snack.  I warmed 1/2 cup of frozen organic raspberries (35 calories) and 1/4 cup of frozen wild blueberries (15 calories) on the stove with a 1/2 Tbsp. of Light Agave Nectar (30 calories, you can sub in honey).  Since I had basically created a compote I decided I needed something to soak up all those lovely juices.  Next I toasted a frozen homestyle waffle (95 calories) and topped it with the berries and 2 Tbsp. of Cool Whip Free (15 calories).  It was so deliciously decadent!!!!

I paired that with my doubled up Bigelow Vanilla Chai and Stash Green Chai Tea (zero calories) for a perfect afternoon treat.

446-Calorie Dinner
I squeezed in a little more cardio on the elliptical, and then I was off to meet with another client.  In the evening I stuck with my plan to have fish tacos.  I baked a frozen breaded tilapia fillet (200 calories) and sliced it cross-wise to serve with pico de gallo (10 calories) and romaine lettuce on two soft corn tortillas (105 calories).  For a high fiber side I heated up Kuner's Jalapeno Black Beans (1/2 cup, 130 calories).  Delicious!!!  I came in under my Lose It! budget between diet and exercise, and with meals like this I did not feel deprived.  All it took was about 10 minutes of planning and stocking up on healthy items at the grocery store.  Now I'm off to get my exercise for today!

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On-site Personal Training & Nutrition Coaching in the Kansas City metropolitan area. I offer personal training at your home or work site. I also offer personalized online nutrition plans and corporate wellness programs. Contact me at with any questions.