Sunday, December 30, 2007

Keep on rollin' through ick-ville

I ended up taking Friday off from the gym because when I woke up my throat was raw and I was quite achy. However, I slept for nearly ten hours Friday into Saturday (a record in recent history) and the sore throat was gone, but the achiness remained. That did not stop me however, I went and hit it at the gym. I came away feeling pretty great for a sick person. Please note, if I were running a fever (a.k.a. potentially contagious) I would not have gone, because that is just plain wrong. Also, ick or not, I ALWAYS wipe machines when I am done, because anything else would be rude, oh and dirty.

Trainer Traci is awesome for many reasons, but one of the wonderful things she does for me is write up workouts for when she is gone. You see we normally workout Monday-Wednesday-Friday, but she is gone until Wednesday. That means Friday and tomorrow I am without her, so she knocked routines for me. Since I didn't go on Friday, I did that workout yesterday. Today I will do my own thing and then tomorrow it's another Traci workout.

Yes, I am working out on New Year's Eve Day and New Year's Day too. Not doing it would start the New Year off all wrong for me, so I am going to make the most of the fact that Fitness World West will be open. By the way, if you have resolved to get healthy in the New Year, this would be a great time to stop by, they have a joining special. Let them know I told you. :)

Well, speaking of the gym, if I am going to make it and then get to my mother's for dinner, I better roll.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pictures of Me - Christmas Edition

I got a surprise in my e-mail yesterday. My sister-in-law Annette sent my a copy of a picture from this Christmas and one from last Christmas. She titled the e-mail "What a difference". Man was she right.

I looked it up, Christmas 2006 I weighed 213 pounds, or about my half way point in this journey. This Christmas, 151 pounds. It is only a difference of 62 pounds and it looks like so much more. I am stunned. In fact very often I am stunned by pictures I see of me, because there are so few.

But these pictures, while they make me feel a little sad from what I did to myself; they also make me feel empowered. They let me know how far I have come. And if I have made such great progress thus far, I can definitely finish the transformation and maintain my body in a proper way for the rest of my life. Because the other thing seeing these pictures does is solidify my resolve - I will NEVER go back.

So, here they are:



Yours in health, Kate

Friday, December 28, 2007

Traci's Tips - 12/28/07


Here's trainer Traci's tips for the week. She is off to Colorado to do something I find fascinating - snow boarding. I find it so interesting since I do not believe I have the grace for that or skiing. But for the first time ever, I believe I have the fitness. As I am sure that the skills can be learned, if not the grace, I will put this on my list of things to try in 2008. There are more, but I will cover those next week, as I am sure you will as well.

Traci's Tips of the week:

1. If possible, trade out the old office chair for a fit ball or physio-ball. This will help with your posture and will also keep you more alert. This also has several other benefits!

2. Get up and walk around when you get a few minutes of free time. This will get your blood pumping and flowing a little bit. It will also help you burn a few extra calories!

3. Make yourself a new playlist to workout to. You will find that it pumps you up just a little bit more than your last one and may give you that extra kick you were looking for!

4. When celebrating the new year pick the drinks that are not as high in calories but contain fruit! Real fruit, like smoothies.

5. Moves of the week: 3 x 20
Ski Jumps- side to side with 2 feet
Reverse Crunches- pulling the knees to chest using abs
Do some extra cardio as well to help burn those holiday treats off! :)

Yours in fitness, Kate

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ick and Caucuses

I woke up this morning with a small sore throat. Now I am achy and tired.

I blame Fred Thompson. All right, I can't really blame a guy running for president for my apparent cootie. But I can put the fact that I didn't get to the gym today squarely on his shoulders.

Instead of going to the gym I drove to Osceola and interviewed him and moderated a town hall meeting. It has been a long time since I have looked at the caucus process up close and personal in a small town. Even with people's deep concern about issues, there was a warmth in the room because they felt a real part of the process. They are you know and you can be too.

It's a week to the caucuses here in Iowa. There is still time to get to an event, ask your question or listen to a candidate speak. Then on Thursday, January 3rd at 6:30 p.m., go to your caucus and be a part of history. It is as great an honor as regular voting and just as important, if not more so. If you need to know where your precinct caucus is - click here for Democrats and here for Republicans.

Besides, people who are involved in their community and vote, are sexier than those who stay home and watch TV. It goes back to a rule I have learned these last 17.5 months - it is much more fun to 'do' than it is to 'be'. That applies to working out AND doing your civic duty.

Yours in (pseudo)health, Kate

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Food Hangover - Part Duh

I seem to remember, after indulging at Thanksgiving, swearing to hold myself accountable and not do it again. Well, I've said it more times than I can count - I am a food addict. And yesterday I slipped.

It wasn't the meal that did me in, no, I ate a small sandwich with just turkey on whole wheat, some roasted sweet potatoes, some steamed broccoli and carrots and a dollop of cheesy potatoes. No the meal was fine.

The endless "tastes" of sugary treats afterward, extremely not fine. By the time everything was said and done I had easily eaten two cookies, a piece of fudge, a bar of some kind (maybe two, I was starting to have an eating blackout - o.k., not really, but it's quite the visual isn't it?) and a piece of my mom's magnificent chocolate cake left over from Sunday.

Yep, it was old school Kate. No stopping. The thinner me was being held in a small closet inside while the evil "Luci" (my inner demon) was running amok and even eating peppermint kisses! (Not a big fan of peppermint.)

So today, I feel like 'normal' people do when they've tied one on with a bottle of Jack Daniels or a 12 pack of Leinie's. I've been nauseous most of the day and if I even look at anything sweet, I get a little erpy.

I swear, if I don't learn my lesson after this one, well... I guess I will have to stop regarding myself as "A relatively intelligent woman", because I will have proven my inane mediocrity.

In the meantime, it's been all healthy today. But I expect it to be days before I completely 'detox'. I am due to interview Senator Fred Thompson tomorrow in Osceola at a town hall. I hope none of his supporters bring cookies - sorry Fred.

Yours in ugh, erp, health, Kate

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are having a great Christmas! So far I have worked; put a load of wash in at my mom's; retrieved Starbuck's for me, my mom and Bruce; thrown said laundry in the dryer; put sweet potatoes in the oven; prepped broccoli and carrots; all gifts are ready in the car. Whew. Now that I have typed that, I see I have been busy. The elves have nothing on me.

Now time for the blog entry while the sweet potatoes bake and the laundry dries.

Today we are just going to have a little fun here, because I have already spent the season giving you tips, recipes and condoling on attempting make it through the holidays without losing your healthy side. So, I swiped this from Annette's blog. These are my answers, feel free to share yours.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Depends on my mood, neither is particularly healthy. ;) But... if it's egg nog, it's AE and cocoa, it's Ghirardelli at Disney World. Ah, yes, I have to complicate everything.

2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree?
Wrapped. And when my brothers were little, sometimes double wrapped to foil guessing.

3. Colored or white lights?
LOTS, don't really care what color.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
I haven't met a reason to yet. Yet.

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Thanksgiving at my mom's. At home, well, we are waiting until we have more room for a real tree. So, the front door is the only 'festive' area and frankly, it looks sad.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Grandma's oyster stuffing, anything my mom makes.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
That's hard. Any time when my brothers were really little. I remember their faces so well when they were opening gifts. They both tended to get warm in their footie p.j.s and their cheeks would get crimson. They looked like china dolls then, they were so sweet.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
Annette asked, "What truth about Santa?" on her blog. I am down with that. Santa is the magic of Christmas, he is eternal and everyone should keep the idea of him all year long. As far as the physical manifestation perhaps not existing on this plane, I was 10 and I gave it up quite begrudgingly.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Depends on whether I am at a parent's house. If not, then no, I LOVE to wait.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
My mom's is in red & gold, I mention that one, because I am in charge of getting it up every year. (Though mom rocked and put up the tree this year, I just had to lead on decorations.) The tree that Lori and I fantasize about will be Star Wars - I have been collecting for years in anticipation.

11. Can you ice skate? Well, I've only been once. But I also only fell once, so that is something.

12. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Hmmm. Apparently no. I am finding during these answers that my childhood memories are a bit blurrier than I might like.

13. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Telling family and friends the things I put off all year. While I try to make it clear throughout the year that I love them and appreciate them, I make a point of also saying the things you don't say during the year. For example that I respect them and know the sacrifices they have made.

14. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Well, the options are naturally endless. The Archway Nutty Nougats only come once a year, so that is nice, Aunt Linda's sugar cookies, almost anything mom or Lori create and of course - Stam's chocolates.

15. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Time with Caelen.

16. What is on top of your tree?
Well, when we do the tree we want to do... Millennium Falcon? Death Star? We'll work on that answer for next year.

17. Which do you like best giving or receiving?
Giving. Honestly, I need nothing, I love to give.

18. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
Silent Night. I know that is a trite and pat answer, but done well, it gives me goose bumps every time.

19. Do you like candy canes?
Yes.

20. Do you like wrapping gifts?
If I have time, I love to make them very neat and they always have an extra flourish. This year as I am still trying to figure out how to schedule my new life, if it couldn't be put in an envelope or bag, it probably didn't get given.

21. Special wants for Christmas?
Peace. But then again, that's what I always want. Every time I see the first star it's what I ask for as well. This year I will add - more time with Caelen. (Then again, I should probably address that in my resolutions in a week's time.)

There it is, more about me than you probably wanted to know.

Merry Christmas, Kate

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Fantasy

I am lacking motivation today. It is why I am blogging at the moment instead of, well anything else.

Really, only two things I MUST do today - Go to workout at Fitness World West; buy a gift for my brother-in-law. Other than that (like the rest of the world) if I accomplish anything else, well bonus.

Oh, and there is one other thing I must accomplish, getting these freaking little candies off my desk. Excuse me for a minute... All right, that's better. They are now in the candy dish at the front desk. At least if I want them I have to move to get them.

By the way, I noted the Asian food festival we have at my Dad's every Christmas Eve. Well, it started with a burned dinner and emergency call to have Chinese food delivered like 10 years ago and then became a tradition. It is also our Easter tradition. Odd since we are neither Chinese or traditional. Tonight I will have to miss out though, I have to work at 5:45 in the morning, so I will go to bed instead.

That's all right though, I'll get to hang with my furry children AND I will not ingest all of the lovely fat and calories of Americanized Asian food. Hopefully my healthier dinner will give me visions of sweet things to dance in my head - "On Gerry, on George, on Jon and on Viggo... Dash this way, dash this way, dash this way all..." (For those keeping track that is - Gerard Butler, George Clooney, Jon Bon Jovi and Viggo Mortensen.)

As a typical woman, you know what I want them doing -

A nice massage, home cooked meal, a little deep house cleaning, ooh, oh yeah and my car could use some work. (Slow anti-freeze leak, which one of you can twist a wrench?) Mmm. Thoughts like that will keep you warm on a cold winter's night.

So, whatever your fantasy, may it come true when the big guy drops down the chimney tonight.

Just a note regarding Santa: he may be big, but he is totally in shape and has amazing heart health. This is because he is constantly in training to withstand his annual night of magical world-wide travel. there is nothing like messing with the space-time continuum to give you a workout.

Yours in merriness, Kate

PS - Here are my little elves to help motivate you (and me):




Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fudge

Let me be clear - I LOVE the holidays! I love to give gifts, I love the lights, I love the fun, I love the goodies... the last one is the problem. That last one is why I can't wait for the holidays to be over. I hate the holidays.

I had pretty much been able to avoid all of the pitfalls of the season until this last week. Then everyone, even people you could never imagine making treats, decided to share the wealth and bring in candy, cookies, bars, breads and yes, fudge.

They all do it with the same intention my mom has when she cooks to much, they want to show they care. Please, just tell me, don't bake for me.

I don't mean to seem like an ingrate, but you see, I'm a food addict. Just knowing those treats are in the building is almost too much to take. It has lead me to the break room far too often. Now, that being said, my overeating has eased - somewhat.

Now when I grab something, it tends to be half of one or just a corner cut off. But that adds up too. Especially if there are six things sitting there that look desirable.

The next three days will be the ones that truly try my soul. Today it is Christmas at Mom's. Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, work treats and our annual Asian food festival at my Dad's. (Funny story for later on how that started.) And then of course the big one - Christmas day.

First, the gym is closed, so I won't even be able to partially offset any damage I might do. Then there is the celebration at my Aunt and Uncle's with my Dad's family. Then, if my mom makes it back we will hang with her in the late afternoon.

I am approaching these days with trepidation because if this last week has taught me anything, it's that - I still harbor a number of the same food issues I had before and a compulsion to act on them.

Now, I am going to type advice for fending off the urges and hope I follow my own advice:

*Moderation. Anything except lard is o.k. in moderation.
*Take just a taste and savor it.
*Be satisfied with just one - no matter how good something tastes.
*Drink a big glass of water before, during and after dinner to help fill you up. (Water causes everything to expand.)
*Also drink water after anything sweet to try to get the sugar out of your mouth, if you still taste sugar you will want more.
*If all else fails, brush your teeth with peppermint toothpaste, nothing tastes good after that.
*Fill up on the veggie tray that will be out before dinner, very few calories and full of fiber so you will feel fuller longer.
*Eat the meat. Turkey breast is lower in calories than most meats and it is a rocking source of protein. Protein makes you feel full and lasts longer in your stomach.
*Try to use what has worked for you before. Just because it's a holiday doesn't mean all of your new habits have taken a break. (Or at least I hope not or I am in trouble.)

Well, I better get it in gear, I have things to finish up and get ready for mom's.

I'll check in tomorrow with a report on how I did.

Yours in health, Kate
That's just a few

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Final Side Dish (#5) and more snow

Man, let me tell you, if I skied I would be rockin' this Iowa winter. Yes, it's coming down like the background of a bad holiday movie again. This time, the world isn't panicking though and there are very few delays and closings, it helps that school is out.

Me, I am getting ready to take Lori out to dinner at Dos Rios and to the play "The Santaland Diaries". I finally told her what her gift was this morning. She really liked it. But she liked it more that it turned out not to be too weird. I had her a little freaked out by asking her to dress nice.

The recipe today is mine. Everyone is a little suspect about the sour cream in this classic, but it gives it a nice zing. I throw in the peppers and mushrooms to sneak in extra veggies. The onions are not fried, my apologies to the traditionalists, but get real, there is NOTHING healthy about fried onions.

I do not have the nutritional break down on this, because I made it up. But it's not too bad, if you don't eat half a pan.


Kate’s Green Bean Casserole

Ingredients:
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (98% Fat Free)
1/4 cup milk
1 container low fat sour cream (if you’re in Iowa it can only be AE)
1 tsp. Worcester sauce
½ teaspoons ground black pepper
5 cups cooked cut green beans (start with fresh and blanch them or go with frozen and thaw them, because canned beans are full of sodium and frankly, soggy)
½ red pepper chopped
1 cup white cap mushrooms chopped (the ones you typically find in the produce section)
1 medium yellow onion thinly sliced or chopped very small

Directions:

For the onion topping:
Use parchment paper or spray pan onto a cookie sheet, spread onion thinly. Bake in 400°F oven until they begin to brown and crisp. Pull out and put aside.

For casserole:

MIX soup, milk, sour cream, Worcester sauce, black pepper in bottom of casserole pan until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add beans, mushrooms and peppers and stir until coated completely.
BAKE at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until hot.
Pull out and sprinkle onions on top. Bake 5 more minutes.

Yours in health, Kate

Friday, December 21, 2007

Traci's Tips - 12/21/07


Trainer Traci is headed out on the road for the holiday, but she sent her tips before she left:

-Clean your house! This helps increase self-esteem and decreases stress.
-Add some fresh flowers to your home. Helps decrease anxiousness & increases happiness.
-DANCE!!! To your favorite songs for 15 minutes and burn 112 calories.
-Adds weights to your routine because stronger muscles equals stronger bones!!
-Exercise: *Physioball push-ups 4 x 15
*Bridges 4 x 30 sec

I am running shirt on time today because I haven't done a lick of Christmas shopping. (We got paid today.) So I am off and running. I promise you a final side dish recipe tomorrow.

And if you are wondering, yes, I worked out with Traci this morning - I will ALWAYS make time for that.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dish #4 & Tired

Sorry I am not posting much tonight. It's getting far too late for me to be up. I worked, visited my dad, worked out (those last two were of course the highlights of the day) and I volunteered. I love to volunteer, but tonight it was at a union hall where smoking is allowed, it made my throat sore - that makes me cranky.

Oh well, this recipe makes me happy. I am a big believer there should be a green veggie at every meal, even at the holidays.

Broccoli and Peppers

Ingredients:
1 pound broccoli, cut into florets
1 red or yellow sweet pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons reduced-calorie margarine or regular margarine
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions:
1. Place broccoli and pepper in a steamer basket over simmering water. Steam, covered, for 8 to 12 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain.
2. Arrange on a serving platter. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt the margarine. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice, and pepper. Drizzle over broccoli mixture. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition facts per serving:
(Servings Per Recipe 6 servings)

Calories 42
Total Fat (g) 2
Saturated Fat (g) 0
Cholesterol (mg) 0
Sodium (mg) 63
Carbohydrate (g) 5
Fiber (g) 3
Protein (g) 2
Vitamin A (DV%) 23
Vitamin C (DV%) 131
Calcium (DV%) 3
Iron (DV%) 4

Yours in health, Kate

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dish #3 & Pictures of me

I met with trainer Traci at Fitness World West today. After my nice hard workout, I lent her a hand with her new brochure. She is looking for new clients in the new year and after everything she's done for me, I was glad to knock out a quick testimonial. However, she also wanted new pictures - of me. We took them with no protest from me, but it got me thinking.

I've mentioned before that the second most asked question of me is a request for my "before" pictures. I have also mentioned, I can't find any. That's because no one wanted to take my picture before. People weren't trying to exclude me or be mean, it just wasn't a priority for anyone, including me. Especially me.

I had let myself become someone I did not recognize, nor particularly like. Neck-up mirrors were plenty for me and only necessary if I had to adjust my hair. The idea of putting what I was seeing into a permanent record of film or megabytes was simply too much to consider.

It was one of the things that led me to photography as a hobby - I could control the image, I was behind the camera. The number of times I have been able to insist, "No, you get in the picture..." and send someone else before the lens is innumerable and yes, sad. Photographically there are years missing in my life. Times I might now like to recall with pictures to help me suss out the details of the memory. They're gone.

Gone, like the times I had to not climb that hill because I couldn't breath or my knees hurt. Gone, like the times I missed chasing Caelen as a toddler because I couldn't keep up. Gone, like the friendships I missed having because I was too closed off to start a simple conversation.

Yet now, like the sun squeezing through the clouds after a storm, all of that is gone as well. The pain, the self-retribution, the lack of confidence - G-O-N-E. And like the 109 pounds I have lost so far, those negative things that held me back are gone and I will never let them come back.

So, take my picture, I want to remember this moment.

Now, on to the recipe of the day. Healthified side dishes being our theme, nothing vexes more people than stuffing or more to the point, dressing. I say dressing, because the chances you are actually going to bury your broken bread in a fowl's behind are slim. I like to avoid salmonella as a general rule anyway.

Dressing with Cranberries

Ingredients:
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
10 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted and cut into cubes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup whole water chestnuts
1 cup chopped apple

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet, heat the chicken broth over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and saute until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, parsley, tarragon, paprika, nutmeg, cranberries, water chestnuts and chopped apples. Add the onion and celery mixture. Stir to mix evenly.

Spoon stuffing into the prepared baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Nutrition: (Makes 6 servings)
Serving size: 1/2 cup
Calories-147; Total fat-2 g;Saturated fat-0.5 g; Monounsaturated fat-1 g; Cholesterol-1 mg; Sodium-263 mg; Carbohydrate-29 g; Fiber-5 g; Protein-5 g; Potassium-256 mg; Calcium-51 mg.

Yours in health, Kate

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dish #2 & A Chorus of Angels

All right, let the hallelujahs begin! The scale has moved! I lost two pounds this week! After two months on the rocky plateau of 153, I am down to 151.

I can't thank trainer Traci enough. Last week we talked about how to get through this brick wall I was sitting at. While I have understood for some time that I was putting on muscle and getting leaner, (losing inches) I am also brutally aware there is still fat.

So, we took a hard look at my food, back to basics with whole foods and hardly any protein bars anymore. They had become a crutch anyway. And the workouts needed to be broken up more, a little cardio, a little strength, etc. I am so grateful it is working. I will maintain this pattern of not having a pattern from now on, or until I hit another seemingly insurmountable plateau and have to figure it out again.

Funny thing, Traci was just asking yesterday if I would do a testimonial in her pamphlet at Fitness World West. I told her it was the least I could do, now I have more reason than ever!

Today, the recipe is for one of the ultimate comfort foods and a holiday staple - Mashed Potatoes. Here they are "healthified". (I love that word.)

Mashed Potatoes

3 lb unpeeled red or Yukon gold potatoes - I highly recommend these as they have a naturally 'buttery' taste (about 8 medium), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil - a seriously healthy oil instead of butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 2/3 cup buttermilk - despite its name, very little fat
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, if desired

Directions:
1 In 3-quart saucepan, place potatoes; add just enough water to cover. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender; drain.

2 In same saucepan, mash potatoes, oil and salt with potato masher just until lumpy. Gradually add buttermilk, mashing until combined but still lumpy. (Amount of buttermilk needed to make potatoes creamy depends on variety of potatoes.) Season to taste with pepper. Stir in chives.


Nutritional Information
1 Serving (it doesn't say what the serving size is, but usually with mashed potatoes it's 1/2 cup):

Calories 130 (Calories from Fat 15); Total Fat 1.5g (Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 135mg; Total Carbohydrate 25g (Dietary Fiber 3g, Sugars 2g); Protein 3g % Daily Value Vitamin A 0%; Vitamin C 15%; Calcium 4%; Iron 15% Exchanges 1 1/2 Starch, 0 Fat Carbohydrate Choices 1 1/2

Yours in fitness, Kate

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Migration

Today I am beginning the merge on my two blogs here on Blogger. So you will notice some very old posts begin to surface. I find them fascinating because of how far I have come and how far I have left to go.

Enjoy!

Yours in fitness, Kate

Dish #1 & Eat This, Not That

Sorry I was lazy over the weekend and did not post. I kept myself pretty busy with work and the Winter Market on Saturday and family stuff and baking with Lori on Sunday. Both days I worked out hard at Fitness World West.

Especially important since Lori made pralines yesterday. Thank god we shipped all but four of what was left after we ate too many to friends on the east coast. They are pure sugar, butter and pecans. Not a single redeemable quality. There is even the chance that they are the devils work - but they are damn tasty.

Speaking of tasty, you will find our first side dish recipe of the week for the holiday. But first, I wanted to share a quiz with you that actually had me saying, "really?!" and shaking my head a lot. It is called "Eat This, Not That" and it is from one of my favorite magazines "Women's Health". It puts two foods in front of you and then asks you to choose which one is healthier. After you choose, it gives the proper answer and a nutritional break down of the options.

Now there are common sense decisions like - pumpkin pie or pecan pie - pumpkin of course, very little fat in the core ingredient there. But it also has a 'course' on fast food - you will truly be frightened into not eating a number of your quick fix and comfort foods after you see them broken down. So give the quiz a quick spin.

As for the side dish - I like my sweet potatoes roasted or mashed solo, no additives except maybe a little salt or pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. But, especially this time of year people want to sweeten this nearly perfect vegetable. Here is a way to avoid coating it in corn syrup or marshmallows and still get your sweet side.

Apple Sweet Potato Bake

Ingredients:

5 cups thinly sliced sweet potatoes (or yams), about 1 1/2 sweet potatoes
2 cups thinly sliced apples, such as pippin or Granny Smith (about 2 small)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons reduced-calorie pancake syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup apple juice or orange juice
1/4 cup walnut pieces or chopped walnuts

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes, apple slices, and brown sugar together. Spoon into a 9x9-inch or similar-sized baking dish.
3. In a small bowl, blend syrup with cinnamon. Stir in the apple juice. Pour evenly over sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.
4. Cover baking dish with lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 15 minutes longer (or until apple and sweet potatoes are cooked throughout).

Yield:
6 servings

Nutritional Information:
Per serving: 128 calories, 2 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat (0.2 g saturated fat, 0.7 g monounsaturated fat, 2 g polyunsaturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 2.2 g fiber, 24 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.

This is from MedicineNet.

Yours in health, Kate

Friday, December 14, 2007

Party Recipe #5 & Traci's Tips

We will start with trainer Traci's Tips for the week:

1. Drink some water every hour to help keep you alert.
2. Give yourself a posture check once a day. This will keep those back muscles from getting weak.
3. Listen to music while driving a little louder than normal. This helps decrease stresses in the body.
4. Add a little avocado to your diet. Great nutrients in it for the body and much healthier than mayo, or sour cream!
5. Exercise of week:
Side lunge---Front Raise with dumbbells 4 x 15

Our final party recipe of the week is one of my FAVORITE foods of all time. There used to be a little Chinese place in what is now the East Village that had the best ever. But this recipe is pretty darn good as well. It's from the Food Network.

Note that only makes 6 rolls, so for a party you will have to adjust for your number of guests.

Soft Asian Summer Rolls with Sweet and Savory Dipping Sauce

For the summer rolls:
2 ounces Vietnamese or Thai rice noodles
6 rice paper rounds
1/4 cup, or 12 fresh Thai basil leaves (or regular basil leaves), rinsed and dried
6 medium shrimp, cooked and halved
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup, or 12 whole large fresh mint leaves, rinsed and dried
3 red-leaf lettuce leaves, leaves, spines removed, leaving 6 halves

Bring water to a boil and cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and cool (makes about 2 cups).

Line up ingredients in small bowls before beginning to make rolls. Fill a large bowl or saucepan with very warm water. Place a rice paper round in the hot water. Soak for between 30 seconds and 1 minute, or until rice round is pliable and pattern on the round is barely visible. Remove and place on a clean, slightly damp kitchen towel.

Place 2 basil leaves on the inner edge of the rice round, about 1-inch from the edge and leaving about 1-inch on each side. Top with approximately 1/4 cup cooked rice noodles. Place 2 shrimp halves on top. Top with about 2 tablespoons carrots, then 2 leaves of mint. Fold 1 piece of lettuce leaf and place on top of pile.

Bring the edge over filling and tuck underneath. As you continue to roll, fold in the sides. Finish rolling, repeat with the other rolls, and reserve under a damp cloth or paper towel. When ready to serve, slice in half and serve, cut ends up, with dipping sauce.

Vinegar Dipping Sauce:
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons warm water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili sauce (recommended: Sriracha)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon fish sauce or low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely shredded carrot
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Dissolve sugar in warm water, combine with other ingredients, and chill until ready to use.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving Calories 90
Total Fat 0g Cholesterol 9mg
Sodium 100mg Carbohydrates 18g
Protein 3g Fiber 1g

That's it for another week of recipes. Next week healthy side dishes for the "big" meal coming on the 25th.

Yours in health, Kate

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Party Dish #4 (Shalom) & She said it would be like this

LOL. I was just thinking back to my workout with Traci yesterday. She was really busting my butt, literally. I did tons of leg work, plus abs and stairs, etc. Well, at the third set of step-ups I was like, "I think you're going to get your way, I bet I really feel this tomorrow." She says, "No, you'll probably come in saying, 'Actually, I feel fine, not sore at all' and I will have to start plotting again."

She was right. Tee-hee. I like being in shape. I am looking forward to leaving here in an hour and get even more so. Seriously, Traci and Fitness World West - Rock the house!

Now, on to today's party recipe... I wish I had found this at the start of Hanukkah. I'm not Jewish, but well Latkes are my friends. I just can't eat the ones fried by the ladies at the synagogue anymore - too much being bad there.

This is a nice alternative with a few more veggies to kick them up.


Vegetable Party Latke

Use the shredding blade attachment on a food processor to shred the vegetables.

Ingredients:
1 pound shredded peeled baking potatoes
4 ounces shredded peeled sweet potato
4 ounces shredded zucchini
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 medium onion, shredded
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine the first 10 ingredients in a large bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add potato mixture. Press mixture into an even layer in bottom of pan; cook 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Place a large plate upside down on top of pan, and invert onto plate.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Slide latke, uncooked-side down, into pan; wrap skillet handle with foil. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut latke into 8 wedges.

8 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 146(25% from fat); FAT 4.2g (sat 0.7g,mono 2.7g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 3.7g; CHOLESTEROL 26mg; CALCIUM 16mg; SODIUM 252mg; FIBER 2g; IRON 0.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 24.1g

You could always cut the fat further by using less oil. This is from one of my favorite magazines: Cooking Light.

Happy belated Hanukkah, Shalom!

Yours in health, Kate

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Party Dish #3 & The measure of a woman

When I was working my butt off, at work, yesterday (and don't we wish that was literally possible) people didn't understand my being disturbed by one day away from the gym. I don't want to come off as obsessive, but I do want to be diligent when it comes to my health - I spent many years ignoring it and I am still paying.

When I was last at Fitness World West on Monday, Trainer Traci and I did measurements again. It's been about 7 weeks since we did them last. My weight hasn't changed - 153. But my inches have - down by at least 1/2 inch everywhere and in my arms and my thighs, even more.

However Traci and I talked and I want more. I truly believe there is more fat to be removed from my body, I want to be leaner and more athletic. While I have made great strides in these areas, it's time to try some different tricks.

My food - Traci believes and I concur, I have gotten in a rut. Now I am going to do smaller snacks throughout the day and make my way to more whole foods. I have become too dependent on protein bars. While they are great for convenience and portion control, Traci thinks my body is used to burning them and isn't challenged to use extra calories for digestion. I can proudly say, I only had half a protein bar yesterday.

My workout - Traci thinks my body has become used to that as well. It's not that I don't trade out on cardio or that she doesn't give me a different set of exercises each time we train, it's that I am not surprising my body anymore. I guess it's like any relationship - you have to shake things up once in a while to keep the fire.

The fire is the key. I need to require my body to burn my stored fat to both get the most from my food and my workout. So, I am going to do more interval training. 5 minutes of cardio, some weights, 15 minutes of cardio, core work, etc. Each time will be different. I am looking forward to this next step. I want that silly scale to move.

Please note, while I have said that the number on the scale is not important, it is in so far as it taunts me knowing I am not getting at the last of the fat stores. Once I have my body shaped the way I want it, I truly will not care what that number on the little machine that provokes us all says.

As for a party dish, this is uber healthy and you can have half a cup!

Zesty Corn Salsa
Serve at a party or as a condiment with your favorite Mexican meal.

Servings: 4
Yield: 2 Cups

1 1/4 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons chopped seeded jalapeƱo chili

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Per Serving: 53 Calories; trace Fat (6.3% calories from fat); trace Saturated Fat; 2g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 3mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain (Starch); 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 0 Fat.

This is from Lowfatlifestyle.com

Yours in health, Kate

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Party Dish #2 & Stupid Snow

Urgh. Third time in three weeks the snow has impeded me from going to the gym. I am disgusted. I want to be sweating right now. I want to be working out my aggression toward this precipitation by creating my own. Instead I am at my desk waiting for closings and delays. Good thing I love my job.

I do plan to do some core work when I get home; it's better than nothing. You see, you don't need equipment to get started, just an urge to make it happen.

Now, on to happier things like your holiday party. You need healthier dishes and I am here for you. Today it's White Bean Hummus. One way to make this even healthier is to cut down on the olive oil. On the other hand, olive oil is exactly the kind of fat we want in our diet. So maybe cut the fat for the day somewhere else. As Lori always says, "Hummus is yummus."

White Bean Hummus

Ingredients:

1 - can small white beans (drained)
1/4 c - extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp - lemon juice
2 - peeled cloves garlic
1/2 tsp - fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp - salt (always use sea or kosher, more flavor, less sodium)
1/2 tsp - fresh-ground pepper

In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Whirl until smooth.

Spoon into a bowl and set on a platter. Around hummus, arrange colorful vegetables such as sliced bell peppers, sliced carrots, and blanched asparagus spears and broccoli florets.

Makes 1 cup of hummus.

Per tablespoon hummus: 46 cal., 70% (32 cal.) from fat; 1 g protein; 3.6 g fat (0.5 g sat.); 2.7 g carbo (0.7 g fiber); 189 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

This party option comes from Sunset magazine a couple of years ago. Enjoy.

Yours in health, Kate

Monday, December 10, 2007

Party Dish #1

All right, all cookied out? No? Me neither, in fact I am not entirely sure it's possible to be such a thing. However, I did actually get candied out this weekend. We had gone to Lori's Christmas party for work and it was a candy exchange and ended up bringing home to wholly addictive things: caramel corn and peanut butter balls with pretzels. Both came from her friend Rachel's kitchen and were WAY too damn good.

I looked at Lori last night over my handful of caramel corn and announced, "You can keep some of this candy for you, but I have to get it out of the house." It was a bit of a frustrating moment. To know I had come so far and was still staring down an old demon.

But you'll be proud to know, I did the right thing, I brought it all to work. Maxwell took the corn home to his 13 year old son and I passed the candies out one at a time, as not to overload anyone. I hate to be a food pusher, but seriously, it HAD to leave my house. My plan regarding self-respect needs to include honesty, sometimes I don't care enough to keep my hand out of the bag. I have to work on that.

Now, on to this week's project: Healthier options for party events. Whether it's an office potluck, a friend's buffet or an event at your place, finding healthier options can be hard. I am going to find you easy, tasty and yes, healthy versions of the classics.

Today, it's one of my all time favorites and it leaves out the ingredient I hate anyway - mayonnaise. Greek yogurt is the perfect substitute and oh so healthy.

Thick and Creamy Artichoke-Spinach Dip, with Big Pretzels

Ingredients:
1 (14-1/2 oz.) can quartered or whole artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 (7 oz.) tub 2% fat Greek style yogurt, such as Fage or Trader Joe's
¾ cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
2 tablespoons light sour cream
1/8 teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground black pepper and freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups baby carrots or large carrot chips (packaged in the produce section)
1 head Belgian endive, end trimmed, separated into leaves
16 pretzel rods

Preparation:

Heat oven to 400°F.

Finely chop the artichoke hearts and place them in a medium bowl. Add spinach, yogurt, ½ cup of the cheese, sour cream, pepper and nutmeg.

Mix well and spread into a 9-inch pie plate or quiche dish. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup cheese over dip and bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

Serve warm or at room temperature with carrots, endive leaves and pretzels for dipping.

Substitutions:

Baked pita chips or Kashi crackers may replace the pretzel rods if you prefer.

Nutritional Analysis:
Servings: 8 (Makes about 3 cups dip)

Total fat (g): 3
Fat calories (kc): 32
Cholesterol (mg): 8
Trans fatty acids (g): 0
Saturated fat (g): 2
Polyunsaturated fat (g): 0
Monounsaturated fat (g): 1
Fiber (g): 2.5
Carbohydrates (g): 24
Sugar (g): 4
Protein (g): 10
Sodium (mg): 580
Calcium (mg): 160

Mmm, this one is coming out for the next football game. This came from ChefMD, by the way.

Yours in healthy, Kate

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rockettes

I am running late this morning, that seems to be a theme for the weekend. I am headed to the gym here in just a couple of minutes, but I wanted to post for the day before I go.

I am taking Caelen to see the Rockettes today as part of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular playing at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines. I am looking very forward to the show. It's something I have always wanted to do - go to New York during the holidays and see the show.

While I will still do that someday, it's wonderful that this year I do not have to. Jeff Chelsvig at the Civic Center does an amazing job of landing us shows that have never even played other major cities, this is just another one.

One of the reasons I am so into seeing the Rockettes is their fitness. These women have to be top of their game at all time from being able to continuously high-kick to staying slim for their costumes. I am in awe.

Tomorrow I will report back about the show and also my interview with the Rockettes. They are coming in tomorrow morning to appear on my morning show and I am excited about that as well.

Well, I better get to Fitness World West. There's a treadmill with my name on it. Yes, I am going to try to run again today.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Short Workout

I put in 30 minutes today. I did the elliptical for 20 and then did crunches and arms for the other 10. I was running short on time because I actually slept in for the first time in a long time.

I was in a hurry to get out to Jordan Creek Town Center. No, not to shop, though I did that later. I was helping my friend Marianne, who is their senior marketing manager, with an event. I got to help babysit some kids while their parents shopped. It was really fun. It's the first time in quite a while that I have had to corral more than one child (Caelen) and they were all well behaved. Well, within reason, there was no one over 7 in the room and they were left with strangers, there's going to be a few pains.

But overall, very positive experience. And I got a kind of secondary workout from lifting kids in and out of seats and scooting around behind one very adorable and active 2 year old.

Afterward I walked the mall and found a few nice bargains. All and all a nice day during the holiday season. And not based on food, who would have thought?

Yours in fitness, Kate

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cookies - Day 5 & "Back" at it

Worked with Trainer Traci today. She took it easy on me, because my back was still a little sore. I did not run because that would have been too jarring on my back. I did the elliptical instead. Then I did the workout she had planned, except for the jump roping. We both laughed, she had put it in there "just in case". It was a nice workout, but not the butt kicking kind I like to do. My goal is to have my body ready by Monday.

Now, time to share another, healthier version of a cookie for your holiday season.

Peanut Butter Fudge Cups

This one is from Cooking Light. I love their recipes because they have been thoroughly tested and are generally VERY tasty. I like this one because it's a nice twist on something that has been my downfall on numerous occasions, the peanut butter cup. (Darn you Reese's)

Ingredients

Crust:
1/4 c - chunky peanut butter
3 Tbsp - brown sugar
2 Tbsp - chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp - corn syrup
1 c - all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp - salt
3 Tbsp - cold water
Cooking spray

Filling:
2/3 c - packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp - unsweetened cocoa
2 Tbsp - semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp - butter
3 Tbsp - 1% low-fat milk
2 Tbsp - all-purpose flour
1 - large egg
2 tsp - powdered sugar

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare crust, place first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour and salt to peanut butter mixture; cut in flour with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle surface with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time; toss with a fork until combined.

Shape mixture into 24 balls. Place 1 ball in each of 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Press dough into bottoms and up sides of muffin cups.

To prepare filling, combine 2/3 cup brown sugar and the next 4 ingredients (2/3 cup brown sugar through milk) in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons flour and egg until well blended. Divide chocolate mixture evenly among muffin cups.

Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until the pastry is lightly browned; cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Run a knife around outside edges of cups. Remove cups from pan; cool completely on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Yield
2 dozen (serving size: 1 cup)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 92(33% from fat); FAT 3.4g (sat 1.4g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 1.7g; CHOLESTEROL 13mg; CALCIUM 13mg; SODIUM 48mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 0.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 14.6g

Yours in health, Kate

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Stress

It has been a long day. I have been here at work since 4 a.m., it's now 4:27 p.m.

The weather is not cooperating and being the news director, I have to stick around and get the closings and delays updated.

But other things have come to bear over the last few days as well. I am in the business of communication, but I have two situations where words have failed me and terse discussions have ensued. I am not that person.

It has lead me to want junk food. I have held back simply by being too busy to find my way to the junk. The only upside to having no time is I can't run away to the pastry shop. I don't like thinking I would do that. I thought I was past that.

But that urge and one to drink have both held sway in my mind the last couple of days. I don't drink because they told me it would increase my acid reflux, but weeks like these, I am awfully tempted to "take the edge off" with a shot. It wouldn't even have to taste bad because since I quit imbibing 8 years ago, they have created some wonderfully fruity (read: girly) liquors. Hopefully blogging about it will be enough.

Well, I am going to go work on my MySpace page. Yes, due to networking needs, I have succumbed. I still don't know where I sit with that decision.

Best always, Ms_H
Weight - 153 pounds (Yes, I seem to forever be at 153, I'm working on it)

Ouch

Well, trainer Traci yesterday had warned me, she was gonna make me sore. This of course stems from the fact that I recover much better than I used to. So now, even after the hardest workout, I might be slightly sore the next day, but I barely notice. She, being a trainer, took that as a challenge.

So we were working away yesterday and it was hard, but I am not afraid of pushing myself, when a band I was using gave way. It snapped my body in kind of a wave motion and all of the pain landed in my lower right back. And it was searing.

Of course, I decided to "walk it off" - something I tried once with a shredded ACL, but alas, that story is for another time. I was able to go back to my workout, though not that move. The only thing that bothered me was crunches on the ball with my feet on the wall, so we finished up with my feet on the floor.

Last night it was a warming pack and ibuprofen, same today. But now, 24 hours later, the spot is officially sore. I expect a lot of that stems from the fact that I have spent way too much time updating websites while sitting at my desk.

Alas, between the ouchiness (a 4 year old word) and the weather (I probably shouldn't traverse the freeway anyway, we've had about 4 inches of snow so far) I am skipping a workout today. It makes me very sad, I do NOT like to go a day without.

Reality is though, if I give my back a day of rest, I can probably get right back at it tomorrow. That's good, I am set to be with trainer Traci and I think she's going to try to make me sore again - in a good way this time.

Yours in fitness, Kate

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cookies - Day 3

I will give you the healthier cookie of the day in a moment but first...

Hi, how are you?

I am good, I have been busy working and working out. The two things came gracefully together yesterday as I met with the ladies from the 801 Power Climb. I have mentioned it before, it is my next fitness goal, it happens February 24th. Trainer Traci at Fitness World West keeps that in mind when she is planning my workouts. That's one of the awesome things about FWW, no two people's goals are the same, but they can accommodate everyone.

As for 801 Power Climb it is going to be a ton of fun. Now, I admit most people don't think of scaling 41 flights of stairs as a whole lot of fun and almost 17 months ago, I would have been one of them. However, I am now ready for the challenge and am looking forward to helping the American Lung Association with this great fundraiser. But it's not just about raising funds, it's about raising awareness.

Medical science has moved forward by leaps and bounds in the last 100 years, yet people are still suffering from asthma, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer and other breathing related illnesses. From the smallest child to the oldest person, air quality effects our lives. We need to educate and protect everyone and that's where the American Lung Association comes in. If I can be a part of that in some small way, I am honored.

So, on Friday, look for a link here to my page at the 801 Power Climb. You will be able to donate to help me raise money for the ALA. Or, if you want to join me, you will be able to do that as well. If you want to sign-up as an individual now, follow the link above.

All right, from a good cause to a good cookie...

Cranberry – Honey Spice Pinwheel Cookies

No holiday season is complete without a red cookie of some kind. This recipe also addresses one of the biggest concerns most people have about healthier options – they think they are bland. All of the spices in this make it anything but bland and the cranberries give it a nice tang. I highly recommend Penzey’s Spices, by the way. They have a store in the Toys R’ Us plaza off 86th & University in Clive or you can find them online. But their spices (especially their cinnamon and vanilla extra) are simply more flavorful – IMO.

The bonus is, as they noted at Eating Well, you can make them ahead and bake them fresh when you need them. The house will smell amazing for your guests, no scented candle necessary.

Filling:
1 1/2 c - sweetened dried cranberries
1 c - cranberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
1/2 c - honey
2 tsp - freshly grated orange zest
1/2 tsp - ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp - ground cardamom or allspice

Dough:
2 1/3 c - all-purpose flour
1 c - whole-wheat flour
1 1/4 tsp - baking powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp - baking soda
1/2 tsp - ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp - ground cardamom or allspice
1/3 c - canola oil
3 1/2 Tbsp - butter, melted and cooled
1 c - sugar
1/3 c - honey
2 - large eggs
3 Tbsp - low-fat milk, plus more as needed
2 1/2 tsp - freshly grated orange zest
2 tsp - vanilla extract
1/2 tsp - almond extract

To prepare filling:

Combine dried and fresh cranberries, honey, orange zest, cinnamon and cardamom (or allspice) in a medium (stainless steel, enamel-coated or glass) saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and cook, stirring, until the fresh cranberries burst and soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Transfer to a food processor and puree. If the mixture seems dry, stir in up to 2 teaspoons water. Transfer the mixture to a (stainless steel, enamel-coated or glass) container and refrigerate while preparing the dough.

To prepare dough:

Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cardamom (or allspice) in a large bowl.

In another large bowl, combine oil, butter, sugar, honey, eggs, milk, orange zest, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat the wet ingredients with an electric mixer first on low speed, then on medium speed, until well combined.

Add half the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until evenly incorporated. If the mixture is too dry to hold together, stir in up to 1 tablespoon more milk.

Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 to 45 minutes to reduce its stickiness.

Next:

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a 6-inch-long log. Working with one log at a time, center it on a 16-inch-long sheet of baking parchment or wax paper. Cover with a second sheet. Press and then roll into a 12-by-15-inch rectangle of even thickness, inverting the dough occasionally to roll out any wrinkles and patching it to make the sides as even as possible. Transfer the dough, in the paper, to a baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining log of dough and transfer to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the dough is slightly firm, about 15 minutes.

To prepare pinwheel rolls:

Place one sheet of dough on a work surface. Peel off the top sheet of paper. Spread half the reserved filling evenly over the dough (it will be a thin layer). Working from a 15-inch-long side, tightly roll up the dough jelly-roll style, leaving the bottom sheet of paper behind. While rolling, slightly stretch out the center to yield an evenly thick roll. Wrap the roll in a clean sheet of wax paper, twisting the ends to prevent unrolling.

Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough and place on the baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 3 to 4 hours.

To bake cookies:
Position racks in the upper third and center of the oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with one pinwheel roll at a time, trim the uneven ends. Cut the roll crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices using a large serrated knife; periodically turning the roll to maintain a relatively round cookie shape.

Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Bake the cookies until puffed and barely golden brown, 12 to 16 minutes, switching the pans back to front and top to middle halfway through baking.

Immediately transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cut and bake the remaining pinwheel roll.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: (Makes about 90 cookies) Per cookie: 54 calories; 1 g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono); 6 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 0 g fiber; 24 mg sodium.

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Cover and refrigerate filling for up to 2 days. Tightly wrap pinwheel logs and freeze for up to 2 months. Do not defrost before slicing. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Enjoy!

Yours in health, Kate

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cookies - Day 2 + Frosting

One of my favorite cookies in the fall and well, truthfully anytime is molasses. And I endlessly annoy my family saying, "I wonder how many mole-asses it takes to fill the bottle?" I think it may have been cute the first 111 times. Anyway, I found a healthier version on Cooking Light's site. FYI - A sprinkle of powder sugar adds minimal calories and looks like snow, I'm just saying.

(By the way, as promised yesterday, you will find a fat free and lower calorie frosting.)

Alaska Molasses Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 c - applesauce
1 1/4 c - sugar, divided
6 TBSP - butter, softened
1/4 c - dark molasses
1 - large egg
1 c - all-purpose flour
1 c - whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp - baking soda
1 tsp - ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp - salt
1/2 tsp - ground ginger
1/2 tsp - ground cloves
Cooking spray

Preparation:

Spoon applesauce onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels; spread to 1/2-inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl using a rubber spatula.

Combine applesauce, 1 cup sugar, and butter; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 3 minutes). Add molasses and egg; beat well.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours and next 5 ingredients (flours through cloves), stirring well with a whisk.

Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating until blended.

Cover and freeze dough 30 minutes or until firm.

Preheat oven to 375°.

With moist hands, shape dough into 32 (1-inch) balls. Roll balls in 1/4 cup sugar.

Place 3 inches apart on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 8 to 10 minutes.

Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

Nutritional Information: (Makes 32 cookies - Serving size is 1 cookie)
CALORIES 88(25% from fat); FAT 2.4g (sat 1.4g,mono 0.7g,poly 0.1g); PROTEIN 1.2g; CHOLESTEROL 12mg; CALCIUM 16mg; SODIUM 141mg; FIBER 0.7g; IRON 0.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 16g

The frosting... I do not have nutritional information, but the biggest bonuses are no trans-fats (like in commercial brands) and no saturated fats.

Beat and Eat Frosting - From Flora's Recipe Hideout

Ingredients:
1 - egg white
3/4 c - sugar
1/4 tsp - cream of tartar
1 tsp - vanilla
1/4 c - boiling water

Directions:

Mix egg white, sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla in a small, deep bowl. Add boiling water. Beat to stiff peaks. It's ready to spread.

Hope these help.

I am headed to a meeting about the 801 Power Climb right now, then on to the gym. I'll report back tomorrow about the Power Climb meeting.

Yours in health, Kate

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cookies - Day 1

I promised cookies yesterday, so here we go. The first set appear to be about as goody two shoes as you can get. Appropriate because I snagged the recipe from Good Housekeeping. By the way, their recipe search engine is pretty cool. You can find recipes by calories, different lifestyles and more. Use the advanced search option and you'll be surprised at what you find.

The only problem I see with this recipe is that (despite using whole wheat flour) there is no fiber content. On the other hand, most sugar cookies have 75-100 calories AND no fiber, so I should count my lucky sugar crystals. Speaking of counts, the nutritional ones are below the recipe.

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:
1 c - all-purpose flour
1 c - white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp - baking powder
1/4 tsp - salt
1 c - sugar
1/2 c - trans fat-free vegetable oil spread (60% to 70% oil)
1 - large egg
2 tsp - real vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
On sheet of waxed paper, stir together flours, baking powder, and salt.

In large bowl, with mixer on low speed, beat sugar and vegetable oil spread until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and creamy, about 3 minutes, occasionally scraping side of bowl with rubber spatula.

Reduce speed to low; beat in egg and vanilla, then beat in flour mixture just until blended.

Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or until dough is firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough 1/8 inch thick.

With 2-inch cookie cutters, cut out as many cookies as possible; wrap and refrigerate trimmings.

With lightly floured spatula, place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet.

Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. With thin metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (Serving size = 1 cookie)
Calories 35
Total Fat 1g
Saturated Fat --
Cholesterol 3mg
Sodium 20mg
Total Carbohydrate 5g
Dietary Fiber --
Sugars --
Protein 1g
Calcium --

Now remember, these are unfrosted, as soon as you decorate you pump up the calories and fat. I will try to find a low-fat frosting recipe for tomorrow. Beware, every store bought brand I find is wholly unhealthy. In fact, read the label and you will be shocked. Then again, I say that about many products that are boxed, jarred or canned.

Well, more cookies tomorrow. I am headed to Fitness World West.

Yours in health, Kate

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Holiday Eating

After my overindulgence at Thanksgiving I am dead set on doing it "right" at Christmas. (And every day in between, man food is EVERYWHERE right now.)

So I have been looking for inspiration and I just ran across this brilliant thinking on the Cooking Light site: "If you want to sample something, go ahead. The key word is "sample." If you really like a particular dish, ask the host or hostess for the recipe. There's no need to overindulge if you know you can enjoy it again later."

I had honestly NEVER thought of that before. But then again, that's a food addict for you. If he tastes good, you must need more - NOW!

There's a bonus to this idea, by the way, nothing compliments a host more then being asked for a recipe. Good food and good feelings, going together in a healthy way; it really is brilliant.

This does bring up the subject of "healthing" (not a real word, I checked, but frequently used in conversation by people) up recipes for the holidays to make eating easier. I will be seeking out recipes to share over the next two weeks. This week, starting tomorrow, it will be cookies. Next week - party dishes and the week after that side dishes. No need really to share main dish recipes, because generally people do turkey or ham and frankly, it's pretty easy to keep those healthy. (However, if you need help or your main dish is usually enchiladas and you need a healthier take on it, let me know.)

Yours in health, Kate

Saturday, December 1, 2007

My Heart is Broken

Late this morning I had to say good-bye to one of the best friends I have ever had, my dog Trixie. She was technically my dad's dog, we had even adopted her specifically to travel with him over the road in his truck. But she was my baby - from the moment we met.

In the summer of '96 my dad decided he needed companionship during his long trips for his trucking business; he wanted a dog. I was living with dad and Lorie (my step-mom) then, coming off a bad job situation in Washington state. I was working as a temp and desperately needed something in my life. Lorie, ever the one to want to add to her menagerie (they already had two dogs and three cats), she was all for it.

We grabbed the ads and started looking. Dad wanted a "real dog", something tough. He really loved Teddy who was a Chow, but Teddy couldn't get up into the truck. So, we needed someone who could climb into the cab without being lifted. He wanted a puppy so he could train it properly and it would grow-up in the truck. (Yea, that training thing never happened, she trained us, but I digress.)

With those guidelines we searched. We made a couple of stops at low rent houses and wanted to rescue them all because the situations seemed less than conducive to being healthy. But we kept looking. Then we spotted an ad for rottweiler puppies. Lorie was skeptical, "They get awfully big". But of course, we went to look anyway.

When we arrived at the woman's back yard there were ten strapping rottie puppies running around. We stepped inside the fence and the woman began talking about the parents - he was a bruiser who weighed in at 225, she was a slight 3/4 rottweiler with 1/4 doberman and weighed in at just 90 pounds. The 12-18 pound puppies were running a muck, jumping on each other and constantly rolling into piles. They were cute, but I wasn't that moved.

That's when it happened. I felt this little tug on my tennis shoe string. I looked down and there she was, all two pounds of her - Trixie. I leaned down and picked up one of the ugliest puppies I have ever seen. In fact, before Trixie, I don't think I had seen an ugly puppy; I didn't know they existed.

The two pound ball of fur sat in the palm of my hand, tongue hanging out, thrilled to be off the ground and eye to eye. Oh yea, the eye - she had one that was kind of wandering or crossed or something. Seriously, she wasn't cute. Suddenly she kind of pounced forward, ended up on my shirt, licked my face and frankly, it was over. I had to have her.

I showed her to Lorie who, whether she realized it or not, kind of flinched at this little, almost misshapen dog-like thing in front of her. She shook her head and said what I was already thinking, "I don't think that's what your dad has in mind". LOL. Uh, no. He wanted a strapping pup, a manly dog and well, not Trixie.

That's when the lady started telling us Trixie's story. She had been born when the sack game out after all of the other healthy and two or three pound puppies had come out. The lady just happened to spot that there was another body inside and broke it open. Trix was not breathing, so she massaged her a little and she came to life. All 8 ounces of her kind of whimpered and rolled into the crook of the woman's arm and made her cry. She fed her with a bottle for the next six weeks and kept her away from the other puppies for fear they would hurt her. She had just been let out to play with them for people to come see them all.

I looked at Lorie and my heart was so full I started to cry. She nodded and said we would try, so we headed to grab my dad and bring him back.

An hour or so later we returned with dad in tow. I had not prepped him, I just planned to surprise him. He strolled into the yard and reacted exactly as I expected, he loved the strapping puppies and immediately honed in on the very scrappy males. The lady told him the boys were spoken for, but all of the girls were available. I turned to look for Trixie, but she had already found me and was trying to crawl up my leg.

I picked her up, kissed her and took her to my dad. I said, "Actually dad, I was thinking about her" and put her on his chest. He shook his head, "Honey, I don't think so, she's too little." She snuggled up to his neck, licked him and fell asleep - it was over. There's no battling that.

We took her home and for the next several weeks she slept with me, followed me, spent quality time on my lap. I was 'getting her ready' to go on the road with my dad. She gained weight quickly. After just 6 weeks with us, she weighed 18 pounds and the ugly was gone. She was cute on her way to being, as an adult, beautiful. No wandering eye, no patchy fur. She was one of the best looking dogs ever. (Yes, I am aware I am biased.)

She also ended up weighing 95 pounds. That was a problem being she never got over being a lap dog. Up until the last six months or so when she couldn't make it on to the furniture, if you were sitting down, she wanted to be on your lap in some way. 95 pounds of big, docile, drooling, love. Rottweilers are actually some of the biggest, daffiest dogs you will find and gentle as all get out. There's a reason why there is a set of children's book about a rottie name Carl who takes care of a baby. Rotties, like any other dog, can be mean, but there are only two ways - they are raised wrong and made that way or they are chemically imbalanced, just like some people. Otherwise, I cannot recommend them highly enough, they are pure love.

Trixie loved the Farmer's Market, I took her often. She loved to go for walks. She was one of my exercise partners every time I tried to lose weight over the past 1.5 years. This time around, she couldn't. Even 16.5 months ago when I started this journey, she was showing signs of age, as she couldn't walk as far as she used to. But she never lost a thing mentally. She was smart and sweet as hell.

By the way, if you are wondering how this big dog got her little name, that would be dad. He named her for Trixie Norton on "The Honeymooners". Lorie and I wanted to name her Josephine Bakker, after the dancer - Trixie is black you know. But dad overruled us because she was his truck dog. Oh, about that... Once she became too big to lift in and she didn't like to climb in, she tended to be timid, he stopped taking her on the road. LOL. But she never stopped being his baby and mine for that matter.

She was my baby. Until the very end as I petted her with long, deep strokes as they gave her the shot to stop her heart at the ARL. I watched intensely through sobbing and tears to make sure her breathing stopped right away, I didn't want her to suffer anymore. It did and she reclined onto her side and died. I kissed her and rubbed her ears one last time. She loved to have her ears rubbed in little circles, it calmed her.

Nothing as hurt me so deeply in so long. I am crying again now as I write this. Trixie taught me so much, but unconditional love was the top.

Even after I stopped living with dad, every time I went for a visit she would stop whatever she was doing and come see me, her little nub going for all it was worth. When she was a puppy she would get so excited that her nub would so fast her butt would vibrate and she would suddenly sit because she couldn't control her excitement.

When I got the call this morning that she was dying and hadn't really moved in two days, I knew we had to let go. When I arrived I expected to find her on the floor nearly lifeless as Lorie had described on the phone. Instead she somehow made it up on all fours and headed toward the kitchen to greet me. My dad was floored, but Lorie acknowledged that if anyone could get her to move it was me.

And that's just it, she was pure love for me until the end. I will miss her so much.

Right now I want more than anything to numb my pain. I have done so all of my life with food. That's why I am blogging here now. Food is not going to cut it. I have come too far to try to dull this with cookies. Besides, Trixie would not want me to be self destructive, she loved me. Now, on the other hand, if I wanted to eat Kleenex or paper towel in her honor, she would be quite pleased. (Yep, those were two of her favorite things to steal and eat - eww. But it was funny too.)

Yours in health, Kate