Monday, May 7, 2012

Running for Motivation

I did it.  I officially registered for a half marathon.  No more 10k's just to keep myself in shape and running.  A half marathon.  June 30.  I will actually have to train for this one.
As I've said before, my life has become WAY hectic, and it has been close to impossible for me to find time just to cook dinner - let alone write for my blog.  Right now, we have a couple of weeks of state testing at my school, so I have some much needed time to catch up on all my favorite blogs, and even write a few posts myself.  I really do miss cooking and writing HG reviews on a regular basis. 

One thing that has, in a way, replaced my regular blogging is running.  I was in desperate need of a way to get some new motivation.  I am less than 10 pounds away from my original goal weight of 145 pounds, but I can't seem to quite get there.  I am proud to say that, although the scale has gone up and down a few pounds, I have pretty much been maintaining my weight during the past 6 months or so.  But, I want to lose weight, damn it! 

So, I registered for a half marathon.  I've been running a few 10k's here and there, but I haven't done a half marathon since the Disneyland half in 2006.  More than five and a half years ago.  Pre-kids. 

I have been thinking about doing another half marathon for about a year now, but I just couldn't figure out how to find time for the training.  With working late Mondays and Wednesdays, and trying to spend as much time as possible with my two kids and husband, time is definitely limited now.  So, I run at night after the kids go to bed. And I run early Saturday morning before they wake up.  Here is my current running schedule:

Tuesday  - 5 mile speed run on treadmill (9pm)
Thursday - 4 - 5 mile hill run on treadmill (9pm)
Saturday - 8 - 11 mile long run outside (6am - 7:30am)

Crazy, right?  It's working, though, and that's what counts.  And even though it is so hard to run after a full day of work and kids, or to wake up at 5:30am on Saturday to get ready to run 8 - 10 miles, it has been worth it.  I feel like a runner again.  And the weight is starting to come off again. 

For kicks, I pulled out my running file where I have kept all my times from my previous races.  I had forgotten how fast I used to be, and it has given me even more motivation to train for this half marathon.  While I don't think I will get a new PR (personal record), it is something to strive for next time (and there will be a next time).  Here is my race history:

San Diego Rock 'n Roll Marathon - 6/5/05 - 4:44:29
Long Beach Half Marathon - 10/16/05 - 1:57:28
Orange County Half Marathon - 1/8/06 - 1:55:29 - (my personal record, an 8:58 pace!)
Carneros Wine Country Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon - 7/16/06 - 2:26:21
Disneyland Half Marathon - 9/17/06 - 2:01:22

Apple Valley 10k - 10/24/09 - 58:38
Apple Valley 5k - 10/24/09 - 32:14
Calabasas Classic 10k - 11/8/09 - 1:14:43 (with friends)
Universal Studios 10k - 12/13/09 - 56:36
Calabasas Classic 10k - 11/13/11 - 1:04:46
Universal Studios 10k - 12/4/11 - 1:18:17 (with friends)
Victory 4 Victims 10k - 4/15/12 - 59:08

Mojave Narrow Half Marathon - 6/30/12

I'm so excited to be back in the game, so to speak.  I feel good about my running, am comfortable running up to 8 miles so far, and know it will only get easier as I lose more weight.  I just hope my motivation will last this time and I will finally reach my goal weight once and for all!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Colossal Asian Veggie 'N Chicken Pack

Per Serving (1/4th of recipe, about 1 1/2 cups): 5 Points+
222 calories, 1.5g fat, 811mg sodium, 19g carbs, 3.25g fiber, 9.5g sugars, 30.5g protein 

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 170 - 171

As I've said before, I love making Hungry Girl foil packs.  They are quick, easy, and always turn out moist and yummy.  This recipe had TONS of veggies in it, which I love.  You get so much food for so little calories - awesome! 

My main complaint about this recipe was the lack of sauce.  For all those veggies, there was only 3 tablespoons of oyster sauce, along with a little rice vinegar.  I like to be able to taste my sauce!  Plus, when everything is cooked in the foil pack, the veggies release quite a bit of liquid, watering down the already too-small amount of sauce.  In other words, this recipe needs more sauce! 

To compensate, I ended up adding soy sauce to my serving.  Although it adds a lot of sodium, it doesn't really add any calories, and it was worth the added flavor this dish was desperately needing.  If you make this recipe, it might be worth it to add a tablespoon of lower calorie stir-fry sauce to each serving for more flavor.  I have found ones for only 20 calories a tablespoon that taste great.  The portion size alone is a good reason to make this dish, even though it needs a little help!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pow! Sock! Bam! Jambalaya

PER SERVING (1/4th of recipe, about 1 1/2 cups): 6 Points+
256 calories, 5.5g fat, 688mg sodium, 30.5g carbs, 3.5g fiber, 6.5g sugars, 20g protein 

The recipe: "300 under 300", page 242

The other night, I actually had some time to cook dinner for my family!  I chose this recipe because I thought it would be something different for a change - not to mention I love jambalaya.  Unfortunately, the recipe didn't turn out.  The photo above is the giving up point of this recipe.  Sadly, it wound up in the garbage after I rescued some of the sausage from the pot.  I was disappointed to say the least, since it was my first Hungry Girl recipe for the blog in quite some time now. 

My problem was the rice.  When I saw that the recipe called for uncooked rice, and that it was supposed to be cooked for 35 minutes, I had a feeling it would actually take much longer to cook the rice.  My rice NEVER got cooked, though, and I'm not sure what the heck I was doing wrong.  I covered it and reduced the heat to medium low, like the recipe said to.  Perhaps the heat wasn't up high enough?  It was hot enough to bubble the entire time, though.  The liquid in the pot got completely soaked up into the still-undercooked-rice, so I added some hot water, thinking that would help.  Nope!  After an hour and a half - yes, an hour and a half! - I gave up on the recipe and called it a day.  Luckily, I never did add the shrimp, so I didn't waste so much food.  But, I really hated having to throw everything away.  The rice was crunchy, though, and it is almost impossible to eat something with undercooked rice in it. 

I am not saying this recipe is hopeless, though.  The flavors were very good, and I could tell it would have turned into a nice and flavorful jambalaya.  It definitely had some heat to it, but I like spicy foods.  My recommendation is to cook the rice separately, and to use that in the recipe instead of uncooked rice.  There shouldn't be a problem with having too much liquid, since there wasn't enough liquid to cook the uncooked rice in the first place.   

Hopefully I will have more success with the next recipe!  I will try to make this again in the future and do a new review for it.  Next time I will be cooking the rice before adding it to the pot!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spicy Chicken Crunchtastic Supreme

Per Serving (entire recipe): 6 Points +
240 calories, 3.75g fat, 897mg sodium, 33.5g carbs, 7g fiber, 3g sugars, 23.5g protein

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 340 - 341

This recipe is supposed to be an imitation of a menu item you can find at Taco Bell.  I love Taco Bell, but I usually avoid it since there are very few healthy options to eat there.  I was pretty skeptical that this recipe would actually taste like a fast food dish.  Surprisingly, it did! 

I did not have a high fiber tortilla to make this with, so mine was probably an extra 50 calories or so.  But, I made another one a day later, and it tasted just as good with the high fiber tortilla.  I'm not sure if it was the fact that the final cooking process made all the ingredients warm, like the fast-food version you can buy, or the fact that the substituted ingredients are similar to the actual thing, but this really did taste like I was eating a fast-food meal.  I even felt a little guilty after eating it, and had to remind myself that it was not the same as eating the real thing. 

Since making this last week, I have made this two more times - both with a high fiber tortilla.  It tasted just as good each time, and I think this is going to now be on my list of favorites.  It definitely satisfied my Taco Bell cravings, so anytime I feel like Taco Bell again, I will make this recipe.  Yum!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cheesy Pigs in Bacon Blankies

Per Serving (1/8th of recipe, 1 pig in a blanket): 4 Points+
164 calories, 6.75g fat, 877mg sodium, 16g carbs, 0g fiber, 3.5g sugars, 10.5g protein 

The recipe: "300 under 300", pages 178 - 179

Since I have been so busy recently, and am often not home to cook dinner, my husband actually pitched in and made this recipe for me.  Not bad, huh?  One of my kids' favorite lunches is pigs in a blanket.  So, I figured they would love this recipe.  For their pigs in blankies, we eliminated the bacon, but they loved the fact that there was cheese inside.

This recipe was fairly simple, with a nice twist on a classic favorite.  We added broccoli for a side and called it dinner, but you could definitely eat this for lunch or even a snack.  The calories were low enough where you could easily have two of these and not have overdone it.  These were easy to make, and worth trying.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Eggs Bene-Chick Mug

Per Serving (entire recipe): 4 Points+
153 calories, 1.75g fat, 831mg sodium, 15.5g carbs, 3g fiber, 2.5g sugars, 20g protein

The recipe: "300 under 300", page 26

While I avoided the Hungry Girl egg mugs for quite some time (microwaving eggs seemed gross to me), I am now finding they are actually pretty good.  I love eggs benedict, so I gave this recipe a try.  This turned out nice and tasty. 

I was worried that the english muffin would turn out soggy or chewy, but, surprisingly, it didn't.  By lightly toasting it before nuking it, the muffin stays a nice texture.  There was the perfect amount of english muffin, egg, ham and sauce in this recipe.  So good!  I loved the hollandaise sauce as well.  It was nice and tangy, and made me feel as though I was truly eating Eggs Benedict.  A good substitute for a breakfast favorite.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Insanely Irresistible Corn Pudding

Per Serving (1/12th of recipe, about one 3-inch square): 3 Points+
116 calories, 2.25g fat, 235mg sodium, 20.5g carbs, 1g fiber, 6.5g sugars, 3.5g protein 

The recipe: "300 under 300", page 416

While this was definitely tasty, I would not say that it was "insanely irresistible".  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I guess I thought it would be more pudding-like and less corn bread-like.  To me, this just tasted like a moist cornbread.  Good, but I'm not sure if it was really worth the calories.  The serving size was fairly small as well.  While it looks like a nice-sized slice, it was very thin, so there wasn't much to it. 

Overall, I would rather just have a small slice of cornbread instead of this recipe.  Or, even better, save the hundred or so calories and skip it altogether.  If you are a cornbread fan, this might be worth a try, though.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oh Honey! Walnut Shrimp

Per Serving (1/2 recipe, about 8 shrimp): 5 Points+
208 calories, 4g fat, 658mg sodium, 18.5g carbs, 1g fiber, 10g sugars, 24g protein 

This recipe was featured in an email not too long ago, and it reminded me of a chinese food dish my husband loves.  Since I'm always trying to convince him that low calorie food CAN taste good, I thought this would be a good recipe to make.  Unfortunately, he came home late and had gotten fast food on the way home.  Definitely not healthy!  So, I got to eat this dish on my own.

While I am not as big a fan of the Honey Walnut Shrimp dish my husband loves, I did think it was pretty tasty.  This recipe, however, was definitely not as good.  And I don't think it was just because it was made to be lowfat.  The sauce on the shrimp was a little to mayonnaise-y for my taste.  I did taste honey a little, but the mayo overpowered the other flavors.  It ended up having a creamy taste to it, but not in a good way.  I added a little soy sauce to the dish, which helped with the overall flavor. 

Unfortunately, the HG email states that this dish does not refrigerate well, and to consume immediately.  Since I was the only one eating this dinner, there were some leftovers.  With soy sauce, though, the leftovers tasted just about as good as the original meal.  The breading was just a little bit soggy. 

Overall, I was not a big fan of this dish.  I would skip it and try one of the other HG Chinese food recipes instead.  There was even a new HG email out this week for an orange chicken recipe that I might try out in the future.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Morning Waffle Dip

Per Serving (entire recipe): 8 Points+
299 calories, 5g fat, 1,075mg sodium, 43.5g carbs, 3g fiber, 5g sugars, 23.5g protein 

The Recipe: "300 under 300", page 78

On the weekends, I like to deviate from my usual breakfast of oatmeal and a banana, and try something different.  This recipe called out to me because it has both sweet and savory ingredients - one of my favorite combinations.  The idea of using waffles as the bread in a breakfast sandwich sounded like a fun idea as well.

This sandwich was very easy to make, and I was eating my breakfast in no time.  All you need is some Egg Beaters, turkey bacon, fat free cheese, and, of course, low fat waffles.  After you put that together in an already yummy sandwich, you then get to dip it in sugar free syrup.  So good!  And compared to the usual calorie amounts in a restaurant meal that includes waffles, eggs, bacon, and cheese, you can't beat only 299 calories.  Try this and enjoy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Outside-In Cheeseburger Patty

Per Serving (entire recipe): 4 Points+
179 calories, 6.5g fat, 502mg sodium, 1.5g carbs, 0g fiber, 1g sugars, 26.5g protein 

The recipe: "Hungry Girl 1-2-3", page 15

This is one of the rare Hungry Girl recipes that actually calls for ground beef.  Usually, HG seems to use lean or extra-lean ground turkey in her recipes.  Since I don't eat red meat, I made these patties with lean ground turkey, which has similar stats to the extra lean ground beef (just a tad more calories and fat).  The main reason I picked this recipe is because my husband loves mushrooms and cheese.  What could be better than a cheese and mushroom-filled burger? 

To save time, and from having to flip the burger patty, I cooked mine on my George Foreman Grill.  I had quadrupled the recipe, and actually made four patties.  Although the cheese didn't necessarily ooze out of the burgers, you can visibly see the cheese trying to escape out of the patty in the picture above.  I tried my best to completely enclose the cheese into the meat, but it was just a little difficult to do. 

The good thing, though, was that there was a fairly large amount of cheese.  A whole laughing cow cheese wedge in the middle of a burger patty is a good amount to make it nice and cheesy.  The mushrooms and other seasonings made this burger have a yummy flavor.  Everyone in my family enjoyed these, and I would consider making them again.  Maybe next time I can perfect the art of completely enclosing the cheese in the middle!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Scoopable Creamsicle Crush Pie

PER SERVING (1/8th of dessert, about 2/3 cup): 3 Points+
112 calories, 0.5g fat, 284mg sodium, 25g carbs, 0.5g fiber, 15.5g sugars, 3g protein
The recipe: "Hungry Girl 1-2-3", pages 236 - 237

As usual, I was in the mood for dessert the other night, so I picked out this recipe to make.  I liked it because it didn't require any baking, and was easy enough so that my three-year old could help me make it.  His favorite part was crushing up the Nilla wafers.

I love the flavor of orange creamsicle, so I was excited to try this dessert.  The only drawback was having to wait an hour for it to set.  Yes, I am impatient when it comes to my dessert!  This turned out really good.  Everyone in the family liked it, and it was even better the next day.  I think the best bet is to let this sit for several hours before serving it so the flavors get a chance to set.

What I liked most about this is that it is only 112 calories per serving.  What a calorie bargain for a delicious dessert!  It was creamy, tangy, and sweet.  I definitely recommend giving this a try if you like the flavor of orange creamsicle.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cheesy Broc Star Soup

Per Serving (entire recipe): 3 Points+125 calories, 5.75g fat, 796mg sodium, 11.5g carbs, 2g fiber, 4.5g sugars, 7g protein

The recipe:

It definitely feels good to be back writing my blog again.  I have so many recipes to review and notes to go through, that I should be busy for a while!  This soup I actually whipped up for dinner last night.  My husband is sick, so I was in the need of something quick and easy that I knew the kids would like.  Cream of broccoli soup has always been a favorite, so when I saw this email a while back, I made sure to print it up and set it aside. 

Usually, I make a cream of broccoli soup with reduced-fat Velveeta, milk, fat-free cheese, and of course, broccoli - but it is still not as low in calories as I would like it to be.  This recipe is only 125 calories for a bowl - a definite bargain!  While my three-year-old was intent on having cereal and a banana for dinner, I made myself a bowl of soup to share with my one-year-old.  I let the three-year old try a bite, and he then proceeded to tell me that he needed his own bowl.  The nice thing about this recipe is that it takes very little time to make, so I quickly made him another bowl.  And since you blend the broccoli-cheese mixture with cold soy milk (at least mine was cold), it cools it down to a kid-friendly temperature.  No need to wait forever for the soup to cool after blending it.  Just eliminate the final step of microwaving it to get it hot again and it will be a nice warm temperature for little ones.

I ended up blending the soup for about 15 seconds or so, until there were only a few little chunks left.  If I were making it strickly for myself, I might add even more broccoli to it and leave it chunkier.  This soup was a hit with the kids.  The three-year old ate his entire bowl, and the one-year old ate the majority of my bowl.  I ended up having to make myself a veggie burger later because I had hardly eaten any of the soup myself! 

I will definitely be making this again.  It has only three ingredients, take less than 5 minutes to make, and is cheesy and delicious.  A win, win, win situation!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sorry to have disappeared on you like that, but...

Wow, have I missed everyone!!!  I have been thinking about my blog on a daily basis, and it is killing me that I have been unable to write anything.  I wanted to stop in and let everyone know that I am fine, but that my life suddenly got so busy that I have hardly had time to think.  I've alluded to the fact that my husband has been in and out of unemployment over the past three years.  Mostly, it has been great.  He is a wonderful stay-at-home Dad, and I actually enjoy having him home with the kids instead of working all the time. 

However, the financial reality of him being out of work for so long is finally hitting us hard.  As a result, I have had to take an additional night-school teaching position at my work, as well as teach classes on Saturday mornings.  Because I now have a 55 hour work week, that leaves little time for anything other than a few precious hours of family time during the week.  Along with trying to squeeze in the occasional treadmill run at 9pm, and maybe some relaxation time (what's that?!), it has been nearly impossible to write my blog.

Never fear, though!  I am still cooking Hungry Girl recipes, and have several that I will soon be posting reviews for.  My goal is to start posting again next week.  Things are calming down at work now that I am getting settled in, and I should start to have some free time to post reviews again.  I also have a lot of catching up to do with everyone else's blogs!

Although it is challenging being so busy with work, I do have to take a step back and realize how fortunate I am.  Not many people even have the option of taking on extra hours at work.  Most people are lucky to just have a full-time job.  Even though my husband is still out of work, I am thankful I have the job I do, and that the kids do not have to be in daycare right now. 

So, I'm looking forward to getting back into the routine of blogging again.  See you next week!