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HMR Healthy Solutions: Butternut Squash Beef Stroganoff

After my first Core class last week, I went to Sprouts to stock up on vegetables and fruits to bulk up my meals. It was going to be a stressful couple of days and I knew I didn’t have time to prep a lot of ingredients, so I went in search of pre-cut produce to save some time. And I discovered spiralized butternut squash!

Now I have a spiralizer at home but I’ve never thought to use it on butternut squash! So I had to pick up a package to try as I was struck by inspiration.

I’ve made the following recipe a few times this week. I like the texture of the squash to be a little crunchy, so cook longer if you want softer noodles.

Also, if you are extra hungry, you can double everything but the entree for extra bulk and minimal calories (I’ve done both!).

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Butternut Squash Beef Stroganoff

  • HMR Beef Stroganoff Entree
  • 1 cup butternut squash noodles
  • 2 tbsp chopped onions
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (depending on how strong you want it)
  • 1/2 tbsp FF sour cream
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat sauté pan to medium high and cook chopped onions using either a spritz of cooking spray or water for 1-2 minutes until they start to soften. Add noodles, paprika, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes. You will want to add a little water to keep things from sticking (I keep a little bowl with a tablespoon in it nearby while cooking to add as needed without adding too much).

Add Beef Stroganoff entree and mix well. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and fold in sour cream. Serve and enjoy!

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Experiencing failure in weight management: Examining lessons learned in order to become successful

As the semester wraps up at the school where I teach, and I enter final exams into the grade book, I notice some familiar occurrences. Students figuring out the minimum work they need to do in order to maintain their current grade in the class and those who worked extra hard on the final in order to compensate for missing work earlier in the semester.

I used to be one of those students. In middle and high school, I hated turning in homework for many of my classes. It wasn’t that I didn’t love learning, it’s just that the process of doing homework seemed silly to me and I felt like my time was better spent in other areas like extracurriculars or reading some non-course literature. I always attempted to learn the material, often scoring incredibly well on exams, which balanced my grades much to the chagrin of my teachers and parents.

However over time those bad habits began to take their toll. Now as a teacher, I have come to realize that homework is an important component of learning, providing continuing opportunities to strengthen your knowledge and skills in an area. And I learned that lesson the hard way, when in one high school class I fell so far behind that I eventually needed a tutor to help me learn the material so I could pass the final exam.

Why did it take getting to near failure before I caught myself? It wasn’t until a recent HMR class, when an instructor said something relating to weight management, that I made the connection. I had become complacent in my success. With every slip in my grade, I would readjust my goals, lowering the bar to make the falling grade more acceptable. Until eventually it got so low, I couldn’t figure out how to do the work by myself to bring my grade back up to where it needed to be to pass the class.

As a teacher, I have made it a goal to ensure students I work with don’t fall into these same bad habits. And as a student entering the HMR program in 2013, I was determined not to let myself slip. I did every homework assignment. I studied my own behaviors as well as paying close attention to every lesson my teachers and fellow classmates shared. And I found myself excelling at something I had failed at so many times in my adult life. I lost weight. And a lot of it.

I had successfully practiced the behaviors of the Decision Free Diet to the point it had become second-nature. My brain learned to appreciate and thrive in this structured environment full of homework and accountability. And I eventually “graduated” to the next step, Phase Two. Managing my weight and maintaining my new lighter body.

It was in Phase Two where I met my own personal nemesis again. I found myself slacking off on healthy behaviors, choosing to skip a serving of vegetables and having a an unmeasured serving of fried rice instead. And as I saw small gains on the scale, I kept readjusting my healthy weight range. When I got worried about the gains, I found myself holding “cram sessions” where I would jump headfirst into weight loss behaviors in an attempt to adjust for gains, without making a plan to sustain that loss (much like a student crams for a test and then forgets all of the material the day after). And over time, I became complacent. Until I had gained so much of my lost weight back, that I felt like a failure.

This has not been an easy post to write. Nor has it been an easy lesson to come to terms with. Through my complacency with the ever-upward creeping scale and my desire to focus on “extracurriculars” instead of foundational lessons, I have found myself failing in weight management. I made choices to ignore the lessons I learned in Phase One and Phase Two classes that would allow me to be successful, and instead I felt shame and a loss of so many health benefits I had worked hard to earn, like climbing stairs without feeling winded or sleeping without feeling acid climbing up the back of my throat.

Maintaining weight loss is a course you cannot graduate from. It is a course you are enrolled in for the rest of your life. There isn’t a final exam you can hire a tutor to prepare you for, where you only need X% in order to pass your class and maintain your weight on your permanent record. And this has been a difficult lesson for me to come to terms with. In order to be successful in this lifelong lesson, I will need to be consistent in practicing my healthy behaviors. I will need to stop adjusting up what is a “passing grade” for a healthy weight range to justify continued weight gain. And I will need to stop being complacent in the world of the gap.

Much like a student who struggles in an advanced academic class, I am going back to my foundational coursework. I have accepted that I need to work on my relationship with fruits and vegetables. And I need to lose the weight that I have allowed myself to put back on my body. So I have started again as a student in the Core classes of Phase One, enrolled in Healthy Solutions this time from the beginning. I know this means I will be faced with making more decisions during weight loss, which I found difficult in my transition to Phase Two. So this will be important for me to focus on during the weight loss phase. It also will mean I am eating a higher calorie minimum prescription, which will mean I lose at a slower rate, but will also mean more time to practice these behaviors during weight loss. I am back in my late night Wednesday classes and surrounded by a number of new and returning HMR students. I am determined to be successful again, this time not just in weight loss but also in the lifelong class of managing that loss. I know the HMR Diet works. I just need to make sure I am also doing the work.

With this in mind – I’d love to hear your favorite HMR Phase One recipes. Decision Free and Healthy Solutions. Please share or link in the comments!

Creamy HMR Penne Pasta Bake

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The new HMR Program Penne & Meatball entree is great on it’s own but sometimes you just want to shake things up to keep it interesting. Adding the soup and some additional spices can make for a delicious and easy pasta bake.

Creamy Penne Pasta Bake

  • HMR Penne & Meatball Entree
  • HMR Chicken Soup packet
  • Penzeys Roasted Garlic (several dashes worth – you can also use your favorite garlic powder or crushed garlic or leave this out)
  • Crushed Red Pepper (1/4 tsp optional for a nice kick)
  • 3 ounces water

Mix all ingredients together in a casserole dish until fully combined. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until top has browned. Oven times may vary depending on how shallow or deep your baking dish is as well as your oven’s calibration.

Enjoy!

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Spicy HMR Lentil Soup

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When I was in Phase One of the HMR program, I rarely ate soup. Odd because it seemed like that’s what all of my classmates were doing – turning entrees into soup. But it just didn’t appeal to me.

Since entering Phase Two, I have realized how useful broth-based soups are as high-volume, low-calorie meal options. And so I have tried to increase my soup intake.

This is a very simple but delicious Decision-Free way to use the new HMR Diet Lentil Stew. If you don’t want the spice, cut the Green Dragon Sauce.

Spicy Lentil Soup

Stir all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally while heating. Once soup comes to a boil, turn off heat and enjoy while it’s still steaming!

Toffee Apple Cider – a warming HMR shake on a cold day!

The weather has turned colder in sunny California and that means more hot HMR shakes to stay warm and full during the holiday season.

This one is easy and perfect to sip from a thermos while heading out in the evening to see holiday lights.

Toffee Apple Cider

  • 1 ounce Torani Sugar-Free English Toffee syrup
  • 1 packet Alpine-Spiced Sugar-Free Apple Cider mix
  • 1 serving HMR Diet Vanilla Shake
  • 15 ounces hot water

Put everything in the blender and blend on low to help everything dissolve and come together (always be careful blending hot liquids). Pour into a large mug or thermos for a warm and filling beverage!

Pumpkin Spice Tea Latte – An #HMRProgram #DecisionFree Recipe

Pumpkin spice is EVERYWHERE – seriously I must have seen at least ten different brands of pumpkin spiced tea in my local shops. But I finally caved and bought a box because I wanted to mix things up and my other dessert teas were running low.

I realized today after making a tea latte, that I had never posted about these before. But it’s a great alternative to coffee while giving you a warm shake any time of day. I make tea lattes with all sorts of flavored teas but this week have been enjoying a little something extra with the addition of pumpkin spice seasoning added to my shake.

Pumpkin Spice Tea Latte

  • Pumpkin Spice Tea (I used the Sprouts Grocery brand black tea)
  • Vanilla HMR Shake
  • Pumpkin Spice blend (you can find this in most baking aisles)

Boil 14 ounces of water and then brew tea. You can double the bags or reduce the water if you want the flavor extra strong, but I don’t think it’s needed. Once the tea has brewed, add it to your blender with the vanilla shake and a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Blend to froth (you can also use a travel milk brother if you are on the road). Pour back into your mug and top with a half-dash of spice. Enjoy! SUPER easy and perfect for sipping during your morning commute.

A URL update!

For a few years I have been paying for several domains to allow people to get to the correct Web site – however I have decided to let all but the primary Web address expire.

To reach this blog, please make sure to bookmark http://www.healthyacademic.com

More posts coming soon! It’s been a long break but I am reading to start writing again!