Story last updated at 1/7/2009 - 10:52 am
This has been quite the year in my life. I love where this health journey has taken me. I feel so good and full of so much energy every day.
I have changed on the inside, as well as the outside. In the past, so much of my identity and creativity was expressed through my cooking and anything to do with it. It was something I made a daily priority and where I focused most of my energy. Then one day something happened and I realized I couldn't continue the fun, but unhealthy path I was on, dragging the husband along with me. We decided we had to get healthy and that meant losing weight and exercising. Yikes, scary thoughts and they required a lot of work and dedication. What if I failed? Exercise was a bad word as I hated to sweat.
After drastically changing my eating habits and becoming the exercise crazed person I have evolved into, I have found my waistline again, discovered exercise is something that feels good to do and is fun, makes me feel good about myself and is absolutely essential in order to lose and maintain a healthy weight. I also remembered that in order to make something taste wonderful, you don't need to add cream and butter.
Our changed eating habits require little cooking, but rather more food preparation. This process involves pre-planning meals, (something I did not do real well before) more frequent shopping for fresh veggies and fruits, lots of washing, cutting, dicing and rethinking conversions of fattening recipes to healthy versions. It's been fun and a great challenge, as I am my best competition to myself. The Other Fisherman has fallen in beside me and we are much healthier than we were a year ago at this time.
My mind, body and spirit are in alignment with each other, as they seem to be tied together to have me running like a fine-tuned machine. These three key parts of me take a lot of time and work to keep chugging along at the incredible pace they are, and it is worth every moment of it.
My priorities are no longer focused in the kitchen, but rather in how and when I will get in my daily exercise. Then I think about my nutritional needs of the day and plan for the meals I will eat. Another priority is to keep the motivation up, and I enjoy exercising and yacking it up with my health-oriented friends. They have all added to my success and motivation in some way. One has helped me develop a weight and strength training routine. One is my walking partner. Various others have shared their success through their learned and continued practices of living an active lifestyle and how it is key to good health. Lots share their low-fat recipes and serve them to me at our dinner parties. I visit Web sites, read books and magazines and attend meetings on weight management.
Everything and anything that can help me continue on this path is absorbed like a sponge, just like when I buried my nose in cooking magazines and cookbooks to fuel my foodie passion.
Things are different now for me and I feel like a new person. I want to share my new lifestyle with you through healthier recipes and things I enjoy doing to stay active and happy. I look forward to 2009, as I envision it to be a year of continued and better health for me, as well as a time to discover and explore new ways to have fun. I hope you want to come along with me, as you have only better health to gain.
Coq Au Vin
This timeless French classic preparation of chicken is a new favorite I discovered last year. Slow cooker size - 4 or 5 quarts. Serves 6. 230 calories per serving.
4 slices turkey bacon
1 ½ frozen pearl onions
1 cup fresh sliced white button or cremini mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
¼ tsp ground black pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
½ cup dry red wine
¾ cup chicken broth
¼ cup tomato paste
3 tbsp flour
1. Cook bacon in medium skillet over medium heat. Drain and crumble.
2. Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the following order: onions, crumbled bacon, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, pepper, chicken, wine and broth.
3. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours.
4. Remove chicken and vegetables. Cover and keep warm.
5. Ladle one-half cup cooking liquid into small bowl and cool slightly.
6. Turn slow cooker to high. Cover.
7. Mix removed liquid, tomato paste, and flour until smooth.
8. Return tomato mixture to slow cooker.
9. Cover, cook 15 minutes or until thickened. Serve over egg noodles if desired.
Hot and Sour Soup
My absolute soup favorite with spicy, warm oriental flavors. Slow cooker size - 3.5 quarts. Serves 4. 240 calories per serving.
4 cups chicken broth
8 ounces can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
1 carrot, cut julienned (thin, tiny strips)
8 ounces water chestnuts, drained and sliced
3 tbsp quick cooking tapioca
6-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained, or 1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
1 tbsp white vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes to your taste preference
8-ounce package peeled, frozen medium-size shrimp (optional)
4 ounces firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 egg, beaten
1. Combine all ingredients, except shrimp, tofu and egg in slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low 9-11 hours or on high 3-4 hours.
3. Add shrimp and tofu.
4. Cover and cook 45-60 minutes or if you are in a hurry, transfer the soup mixture to a soup pot, add the shrimp and tofu and cook until shrimp are done and hot.
5. Pour egg into the soup in a thin stream.
6. Stir the soup gently until the egg forms fine shreds instead of clumps.