Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fresh Foodie's Easy Low Fat Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I'm snowed in again. I knew the snow was coming this time, so I was prepared. Since I was craving something pumpkin, I got a can and some evaporated milk to see if I could come up with a low fat pumpkin recipe.

I went online and saw several recipes for pumpkin bread pudding. It sounded delicious, but most were complicated to make and full of rich ingredients. So I decided to try and make a easier, healthier version with the ingredients I had in my cupboards. After a long distance phone call to Mom for ideas about how to prepare bread pudding, this is what I came up with.  (I'm not much of a measuring cook, so there aren't many measurements.  But you can prepare according to your tastes and dietary needs.)

Enjoy! :)

Easy Low Fat Pumpkin Bread Pudding

5-6 slices of Bread of your choice, 2-3 days old (I used cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread from the freezer, defrosted and toasted)
I can't believe it's not butter spray
3 eggs
1/2 can pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
Pumpkin pie spice
agave nectar
1 can fat free evaporated milk
dried fruit and/or nuts of your choice (I used dried cranberries)**
coconut flakes **
cinnamon sugar**
Caramel syrup **


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toast bread in toaster or toaster oven.

While bread is toasting, mix eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, evaporated milk, agave, spices and coconut in a bowl.

Spray Glass baking dish with ICBINB spray.

Cube toasted bread and spread evenly in pan.

Spray bread with a generous layer of ICBINB Spray.

Top with nuts and raisins.

Pour egg mixture evenly over bread mixture.

Make sure bread mixture is completely saturated with egg mixture in the pan and soak for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick entered into center comes out clean.

Cool at least 5-10 minutes.

Serve warm or cold and drizzled with caramel sauce.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fresh Foodie Finds: Whole Foods Faves and a $1 Workout

Need something new to spice up your workouts? Can't afford the gym? Weather not cooperating? Try an inexpensive workout DVD from a local discount store. This one is from Dollar General. It was $1. And boy does it work!

I love shopping at Whole Foods.  But buying groceries there is a rare treat for me, not only because they tend to be more pricey, but also because the closest Whole Foods is an hour away from my house (all you Trader Joes fans, the closest TJ is about 2 hours away). 

Below are a few of my favorite things to get when I shop Whole Foods.  I've included pictures of the front label so you can recognize it in the store.  I have also included the "Nutrition Facts" labels.  All of us look for different things when we look at the nutrition facts.  Some are watching their sodium, others their carbs, others their fat or calories.  This way, you can find out exactly what you want to know about the product.  

I hope these "finds" can help you "keep it fresh" by adding variety to your healthy diet. Let me know if you have any questions!

Fresh Foodie :)

Also comes in Blueberry, Strawberry, Plain and Honey flavors.

I mix it with granola, nuts and dried cranberries for a quick and easy breakfast.

These Pretzel Crisps are "Everything" flavored. They also come in Plain, Garlic and other flavors. Tastes great with Hummus and other dips.

Also comes in Mango Green Tea and various Black Tea Flavors.
I sometimes put lime juice in the Mint and Honey for a Mojito flavor.

Whole Foods has a great variety of Organic and All Natural Salad Dressings.
This is cilantro and Mild Green Chile Flavor. Comes in Tomatillo, Chipotle, and other flavors.
See other flavors under "Try 'Em All" in the photo at left.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blogging the Jogging ~ Entry #2

THE Shoes

Notice the emphasis on "THE".  These shoes are the perfect shoes for my feet.  How do I know?  I was fitted by Rich, a fit expert at my local Fleet Feet Sports.

Fleet Feet isn't a regular athletic shoe store. They are a store that specifically caters to runners of all levels. They have shoes, clothes and other items for people who run marathons and do triathalons. Or, somebody like me: an overweight, out-of-shape beginner of beginners.

The first thing Rich asked me to do was take off my shoes and socks so that he could see my bare feet. (Yikes! Good thing I'd just given myself a pedicure a couple of days before!) He said they looked very good, no protruding bones, blisters, corns or callouses to be concerned about. He then asked me if I had any concerns; I did: I sprained my left ankle last year while getting off (ok, falling off) a ski lift and I was on crutches for six weeks. He assured me I'd get a shoe with the best support possible for my foot.

He then proceeded to reach for the foot measure that we use on a regular basis as children with growing feet, and not so much after we're "sure" of our adult shoe size (see picture at left). Surprisingly, he told me he'd measure both feet while I was still seated.  He explained that this was so that he can mark the difference between a seated measurement and a standing one, so as to tell how much each foot stretched when I stood.  He grabbed a pen and made a marking on both feet. Then he asked me to stand so that he could do it again.  There wasn't too much of a difference.

Rich asked me to walk to the far rack and back in my normal stride, "Like you're in your kitchen; nobody's watching." But, in fact, he was. Very carefully, in fact.  Head turned sideways, cheek close to the ground, watching every move my feet made. "OK, have a seat", he said as he went into the stock room and emerged with three pairs of shoes.

He handed me some synthetic, fitted socks to put on while he explained something to me about the shoes. (See picture for the benefits of synthetic vs. cotton sports socks.) All three pairs of shoes were right for me according to the preliminary assessment he had just done.  The rest was up to me and my personal preference- how I like for my foot to feel in my shoe.  They welcome you to go outside, walk (or run) around in the shoes and see how they feel on.  But first he put a support insole in one shoe and not the other. 

The first pair felt a little funny.  There was slippage in the back and the subtlest of rubbing on the side. On to pair number two, this time with the insoles in both shoes now that I could tell the difference that extra support brings.  Way better. I felt good on my short-lived, brisk outside jog.  I was sure these were the ones.  Until Rich told me to at least try on the last shoe and compare.  So I did.  Each shoe had it's pros and cons. After trying different ways of lacing and "test jogging" a different shoe on each foot, I came to a conclusion: Shoe 3 was the winner.

I was informed that the shoes had a life expectancy of 300 miles, a lot for a beginner like me.  The insoles would last even longer: 3 pairs of shoes! "Don't forget to take them out and put them in the next pair," Rich kept reminding me.  Apparently it's a common mistake; people donate the used shoes to Goodwill and forget their perfectly good insoles inside them.  Some Goodwill shopper gets a great bargain! (See chart at left for benefits of support insoles)

After deciding to buy the insoles and a pair of synthetic socks, I made my purchase and waited to talk with Stacie.  Her business card says "Running Coach and Motivator" and I was hoping she'd be willing to do an interview for my blog.  She was!

Fleet Feet was very busy that night, customers waiting patiently to get their custom fit. The store was hosting a 5K training program that would start soon, so people were coming in to sign up for it and to get fitted for running shoes.  I looked around the store while I waited for Stacie to finish tending to customers.  I didn't mind at all.  I found the store fascinating.  It was a whole new world to me.  There were energy bars, sports bras, reflective clothing, books, magnets, mp3 holders, fancy watches that record calorie burn and heart rate and much more. 

When the last customer had made their purchase, the front door was locked and as the rest of the staff closed the cash register and put away shoe boxes, Stacie was kind enough to sit down for a few minutes for my interview.  I was nervous; I had scribbled a few questions on the back of a piece of paper and I'd forgotten to bring my tripod, but she was nore than happy to oblige.  She is so friendly personable, she put me at ease almost immediately. It's obvious that she is very enthusiastic about running.  And it's contagious.

(At left: Karlyn, who custom fit my insoles to my new shoes and Rich, who helped me find my perfect fit)

Final review: I love Fleet Feet sports!  Their personal attention and customer service is amazing. They take time with each customer to assure that they are properly fitted and comfortable with their purchase.  (Even those who were waiting to be attended to were not neglected. They were apologized to and asked to please be patient, and they understood- it was worth the wait.) Even though they and many of their customers are veteran runners, they explain the basics to a beginner with the utmost respect and cheer them on in their new endeavour. They sell high quality products, and offer training classes for runners of all levels.  I definitely recommend Fleet Feet Sports to runners of all ages and levels of experience. Even aspiring runners, like me.  The trip to Fleet Feet may just be what you need to hit the ground running.

To find a Fleet Feet Sports near you:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Progress Report- Week 25

My editing software hasn't been working for several weeks now, and so I haven't been making progress report videos.  I really think I need them to help keep me on track. So I've decided to put my progress stats and pictures here on my blog every few weeks.

Here are comparisons of my intro video from YouTube and today's stats:

August 4, 2009           January 18, 2010


 Body Composition                    Aug 2009     Jan 2010       Difference
Weight (in pounds)                         220.6               206.4              14.2
Fat %                                                   45.4                  43.8               1.6
Water (Hydration level)                   39.8                  41                  1.1

Measurements (in inches)
Bust                                                47                    44.5                 2.5 
Waist                                              39.5                 36.5                   3
Lower abs                                       45                   43.5                  1.5
Hips                                                48                     45                    3
Right Arm                                       17                     14.5                2.5
Right Thigh                                      28                     27                    1

Although I feel that the progress is very slow and sometimes get discouraged, I do see progress.  I have to keep a positive outlook and remember why I am doing this: fighting back against obesity, heart disease, diabetes and depression.  I usually gain a lot this time of year and the fact that I am maintaining or even losing a little keeps me optimistic about the months ahead. 

I will meet my health and fitness goals. "Slow and steady wins the race"...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Blogging the Jogging ~ Entry #1

Jogging: My Memory...

I gotta admit, I have a love-hate relationship with running. I love the idea of being a runner but I hate doing it. It all goes back to my elementary school days and the dreaded "mile". It was something we had to do every year and was always at the top of the list of my absolute least favorite gym-class activities. I had a horrible experience of it every year, huffing and puffing my way thru so as not to get a low grade and bring down my all "A" average. I was the overweight, outta-breath kid that always came in last. Usually the coach would have pity on me and grade me on my sincere effort and not my pathetic results. They could see that I really did try.

The culmination of my aversion to running came in high school. My coach despised overweight kids and punished us for our excessive girth. She knew I was an "A" student and would threaten me with a fail grade if I did not meet minimum standards for the "Presidential" testing we had to do that year. We had to run the mile in 12 minutes or less to pass gym exams that semester and passing meant a "D" grade on my final. The shorter the time, the closer to the "A" bracket, the longer, the closer to the "F". Until that day, my best time for the mile was a 15 minute mile I had done in the 4th grade.

We could repeat the test as many times as we wanted to that week in order to get our best time, but we must complete it in 12 minutes or less to be able to accept the grade and go do archery with the rest of the class. I was determined to do my very best. The first day, when I ran with the entire class, I came in last, with a time of 16 minutes and 50 seconds. I was exhausted, frustrated and devastated. It seemed like it was gonna be impossible. I stopped several times to walk and catch my breath. My coach insisted that I hadn't even tried and I would need put forth more effort the next day if I was going to get a passing grade and be able to participate in the archery segment of class.

I got some rest and tried again the next day with about 5 other people that had failed or wanted to retake the test. I ran my heart out. Literally. OK, not literally, but I pushed myself until I felt like I had. Once again, I came in last. But as I crossed the finish line, my coach yelled out my time: 12 minutes and 20 seconds. I dropped to the ground as soon as I finished and proceeded to have my first and only exercise-induced asthma attack. While I was lying there on the ground, in pain and unable to breathe, my entire class was standing over me with fear in their eyes, and I had tears in mine. Not because of the pain, not even because of the humiliation. It was pure joy. I was so proud of myself. I had pushed myself to the limit and I had triumphed. It had just gotten the best time on the mile in my life. I had just beat the previous day's time by over 4 minutes. As I was lying there, struggling for air, I saw my coach push her way through the gathered, hovering group of my concerned classmates...

'I knew you could do better than what I've been seeing from you. You were only 20 seconds away from a passing grade. You were so close, I'm positive you'll be able to do it tomorrow.'

She proceeded to tell everyone that I'd be fine if they gave me time to catch my breath and they should leave me alone and hit the showers. I was crushed. I was the only one that continued to do the mile the next 2 days of school. I was so physically weak and in pain from my exertion the previous days, that my times got higher and higher as my morale got lower and lower. I finally told my coach that I had reached my physical and emotional limit and I would just accept the failing grade. She begrudgingly agreed, but added that if I was too weak to complete my running test, that I was too weak to carry the bow and arrow for archery, so she insisted that I sit on the sidelines and watch.

The fact that I remember that event in such detail over a decade later shows how much of an effect it had on me. I haven't done much running since. I can do spinning, kickboxing, or boot camp classes for an hour or more, but can't jog for more than a minute without feeling that awful tightening in my chest. Maybe the reaction is psychosomatic; I'm almost positive that it is.

In order to reach my goal of completing a 5K this year (3.1 miles! Am I crazy?!), I'll need to start my training soon. I have already started looking for the proper running shoes and sports bra for an overweight beginner. I have "favorited" my online Couch to 5K training program and I've chosen a race. I watched a documentary on running recommended by my brother (Spirit of the Marathon--- and I am inspired.

My goals are simple:
1) to complete the "Couch to 5K" training program;
2) to volunteer at a 5K race;
3) to complete a 5K race in 35-40 minutes (about 12 min. per mile); and
4) to NOT come in last place! (OK, so maybe that'd just be a bonus.)

I am determined to win this lifelong battle with running once and for all, kick my weight loss into high gear and be the fittest, healthiest version of myself that I have ever been. I am fighting back against diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. This isn't gonna be easy.

I've got a long, hard road ahead of me. And I'm taking you all along with me. Step by step.