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Archive for February, 2018

HMR Diet Hacks – Easy and Filling Healthy Solutions Combos

I am told some of my recipes are a little complicated. That part of the joy of the HMR Program is how simple it is. And I agree. Not about my recipes being complicated, but about the simplicity of the HMR Diet. And while I started this blog initially for accountability and also to record some of my creations to reference later, I don’t take time to write up some of the simple hacks that keep me full and help me meet my minimums.

So here are a few of my current Healthy Solutions entree & veggie combos. I will often add salt and pepper and maybe some hot sauce or roasted garlic powder to help extend the flavors, but otherwise it’s pretty basic.

I would love it if you could share some of your favorite combos as well – I am truly inspired by other people’s ideas and success, and sharing it as a comment allows others to be inspired by your ideas as well!

Cauliflower Rice – This is a staple in my household. I buy frozen bags and also fresh ones. Just about every store and brand has their version, just double check to make sure there are no added out-of-the-box ingredients.

  • Steam up a bag of cauliflower rice, cook up a Chicken Creole entree, mix together and add some creole seasoning and/or hot sauce.
  • Also great with the Mushroom Risotto entree. Sprinkle with some truffle salt if you want to get fancy.
  • Cook it up on the stovetop and use salsa instead of water or cooking spray – let the salsa reduce in the rice (the liquid cook off) and you have a spicy rice perfect to serve under a Chicken Enchilada┬áentree.

Zucchini – Spiralized as noodles (again fresh or freezer aisle) or just cut using a veggie peeler or slicer, this vegetable is versatile and takes on the flavor of many entrees.

  • Toss with some tomato sauce and Italian seasoning and serve under the Lasagna or Ravioli entree.
  • Steam it up and mix it in with the Penne Pasta and Meatballs entree.
  • Slice it thin like noodles and insert it in the middle of the Lasagna entree before baking.

Jicama or Carrot or Cucumber Chips – these are great crunchy snacks that are perfect to dip in salsa. Or how about blending a 5 Bean Casserole entree with some salsa. I like measuring out the vegetable slices into one cup portions – although I usually use two with my bean dip!


Hitting the social circuit while on the HMR Diet (and a recipe for Chocolate Fudge cookies)

One of the most important practices for weight management is Environmental Control. Numerous studies have been introduced in my HMR Program classes that demonstrate how a controlled environment can lead to successful weight loss and maintenance.

The easiest way to control my environment has been avoidance. Our house is arranged to support weight management, with my husband having his own cupboard and shelf in the fridge where his favorite foods go that are less supportive of my weight management needs. So he eats what he wants, but I can avoid exposure to it. And my classroom is set up to be supportive as well.

But what happens when I want to go to a social event? There are dozens of strategies that can be utilized in this less controlled environment but avoidance is a lot more difficult. However one of the ways I have found to be supportive is to not only pack my own food and beverages, but to have a special in-the-box food I get to enjoy during these social occasions that I might not otherwise get to enjoy.

When this weekend packed a double-slam Social Saturday with both a work retreat and a girl’s night, I knew I would have to pull out all the punches. I had proportioned fruits and veggies that could be noshed on whenever needed, both of my insulated drink carriers loaded with shakes, a couple of flavored sparkling waters, an entree loaded in my HotLogic Mini (btw they are having a sale the next couple days if you want to go in with a friend!), and these Chocolate Fudge cookies portioned out into smaller servings to be pulled out if and when I needed a special snack. They were perfect with a cup of coffee when my coworkers were eating fancy catered desserts, and also excellent paired with a sparkling water when my friends were drinking champagne. Note that I tried to pair them with beverages to help with the fact they are a low-volume food. It made the cookies last longer between sips of a drink, but also helped keep me full longer.

I would love to hear from you. What tips do you find most useful when hitting a social event while trying to stay in your weight management box?

Chocolate Fudge HMR Diet Cookies

  • HMR Oatmeal
  • HMR 70 Chocolate Shake
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp fat-free chocolate fudge pudding powder (the instant mix powder!)
  • 4 to 6 ounces of water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix first four ingredients together until blended.
  3. Pour water in slowly, mixing, until a desired cookie dough texture is obtained. I found 5 ounces to be about right, but the thickness of the batter with vary the texture of the cookies as well as baking time, so the choice is personal.
  4. Spoon tablespoonish size portions of dough onto a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet and bake 8 to 12 minutes (depending on the thickness of your dough) until cooked.
  5. Let cool and then portion out. It makes between 10 and 14 cookies.

Almond Joy Hot Chocolate

I have fallen into a morning routine. Every morning I turn the kettle on and fill a giant Contigo with a white herbal tea. I have a second Contigo where I pour a hot shake. And then I blend up a cold shake for my morning commute. Then throughout the day, regardless of how hectic it is, I have several warm drinks I can sip on. My cold morning shakes all week have been the Decision Free Butterfinger Shake (but made with the 120 Vanilla since I am in Healthy Solutions and only about 6 pumps of syrup because my sweet tooth has subsided).

And my hot shakes have been a take on an Almond Joy bar. I like mixing up the syrups and using the extract because the flavors build on each other. If you like it less sweet, I bet you could easily use coconut extract instead of syrup, but I haven’t tried it personally.

Please note that my ratios are for a large Contigo thermos that holds 24 ounces, adjust proportions accordingly if you need a small fit.

Almond Joy Decision Free Hot Chocolate

  • One HMR chocolate shake
  • 4 pumps Torani sugar-free Almond Roca syrup
  • 3 pumps Torani sugar-free coconut syrup
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 20 ounces hot water

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy! I find blending super fast at smoothing it all together without lumps, although you can use whatever method you use to make hot shakes.


Creating Community to Stay Supported

Sometimes when I am home alone, I have an urge to eat. I might not even be hungry but I want something to fill a void. This is a conscious battle I have fought for a long time, and during my Phase One Decision Free experience, I found success in avoiding boredom eating by hitting the HMR Diet online message boards. Talking with other people, reading about their success and struggles, and reading through recipes they had tried was all very motivating and kept me out of the kitchen.

When I transitioned to Phase Two, I found other supportive venues, both online and in the real world. However I have discovered when going back into a Phase One box, how they aren’t as successful in helping me because the suggestions and recipes aren’t supportive of the behaviors I am trying to practice.

I recently discovered the format of the HMR Program “boards” has changed more to discussion threads, and a sense of community has been lost for me. It’s still an awesome resource for referencing, but it lacks some of the back and forth chatter I remember.

There are a couple of unofficial groups I have found on Facebook for HMR, but when people of all stages from Decision Free to Phase Two are hanging out together, the suggestions and advice and photos don’t always support my Phase One behaviors either.

So after talking with a couple of other people who felt the same way, I created two unofficial HMR groups on Facebook and I wanted to share them here in case anyone else is looking for support and trying to practice Environmental Control.

These groups are closed – which means you can find them in searches but the posts are only visible to group members. You are invited to join one or both if you are interested, just please be respectful of the spaces being created. There are also other fabulous mixed program groups on Facebook if you are looking for support in other stages or variations of HMR’s programs!

Unofficial HMR Diet Program – Decision Free Community (Please note that this group practices *strict* environmental control – no pictures of food other than HMR products are allowed – fruit and veggie posts are totally welcome in the Healthy Solutions community)

Unofficial HMR Diet Program – Healthy Solutions Community (This group welcomes fruit and veggie posts! However we still ask that you refrain from posting food outside the Healthy Solutions box – so just keep it to the produce, HMR products, and approved condiments)

While I openly recognize that eventually we will all have to transition to Phase Two and be exposed to the outside world, I also support having safe spaces where we can seek support and not worry about those temptations and decisions. I want to be able to open the Facebook Groups app, and just open my HMR support group and not be overwhelmed with GAP foods.

Final note – since these are supposed to be communities, I’d love some admin or moderator help. I started them after chatting with a few folks who also expressed needs for these groups, but I don’t want to run the show ­čÖé So if you join a group and like the vibe and want to help, all hands are welcome to build these safe spaces!


Cauliflower Tortilla – a #HealthySolutions experiment

I was watching Top Chef this week and was impressed with a challenge where contestants had to replace an ingredient with cauliflower. It was fun to watch because cauliflower is in my Healthy Solutions box and I was inspired to play…

The Internet is full of cauliflower “bread” recipes, most of which require oils and cheese, which aren’t in my HMR Diet Healthy Solutions box. And thus I was motivated to create my own.

I’m still playing around with this, but after several variations (I’ve eaten a LOT of cauliflower this week), I have a version that makes a pliable wrap/tortilla-like product that can easily hold other ingredients.

One note of caution if you are a volume eater is that by processing the cauliflower in this way, you are making a low-volume food that may not be as filling. I try to keep my low-volume foods to a minimum so that I can stay full, which is why although this is “in the box,” I won’t reach for it all the time.

Cauliflower Day
HMR Healthy Solutions cauliflower tortilla filled with a stir-fry of cauliflower rice and the HMR BBQ Chicken entree (only part of the entree – saved some filling for later) served with a side of air-fried buffalo cauliflower. I declared the day “Cauliflower Day” ­čÖé

I have included pictures of the steps at the conclusion of this post to help with visualization since it’s a bit more complicated than most recipes I’ve posted.

This recipe uses something called aquafaba. Its the water that chickpeas are cooked in (there’s a chemical reaction that occurs giving it a viscosity that works like egg whites). You can just open up a can of chickpeas and take a tablespoon of this water/aquafaba. It serves as the binder for the ingredients.

Final note – the soup gives more than enough salt for this recipe. After several trials, I’d recommend checking any flavorings you add do not have additional salt in them (I used Penzey’s seasonings but you could change things up).

HMR Healthy Solutions Cauliflower Tortilla/Wrap

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Steam cauliflower in your favorite method. I just throw a tablespoon of water and the cauliflower in my large Pampered Chef Micro-Cooker and microwave for 5 minutes. Let cool so you can handle it.
  2. Use a food processor to blend it. You could also mash with a potato masher. I will warn you that I tried making a version with pre-riced cauliflower and it did not stay together very well – so definitely start with florets and get them nice and smooth.
  3. Scoop the cauliflower into cheesecloth and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
  4. Add remaining ingredients to the cauliflower and stir to combine.
  5. Spread evenly on a baking pan either lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. I actually would make three smaller tortillas next time, the larger one was too big and didn’t crisp as well in the middle.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Check doneness. Mine were still soft in the middle but had browned on top, so I used a spatula to flip them over and baked for another 10 minutes. Baking times will vary based on how big and how thick you make them as well as your oven’s calibration.
Making HMR Cauliflower Tortillas

Making HMR Cauliflower Tortillas


Reevaluating my Phase Two “nibbles” #InTheBox

One fantastic thing about teaching high school is that I get to cover the same material over and over each class period, and at about the same time each year. Some people might think that sounds boring, however I have come to learn it makes me a more successful teacher as well as a lifelong learner. I am constantly looking for new ways to teach the same topics and skills to keep things current and interesting, while reinforcing the core purpose and content for myself. And in the process, I make new discoveries about both the content I am teaching but also the ways my students learn and apply knowledge.

Just like getting to revisit a time period in history or a component of American government, as a student retaking the HMR Core class, I am getting a chance to revisit information and practice skills in new and old ways, reinforcing behaviors and expanding my knowledge base both about health and nutrition, but also about myself. And in the process, I get to make new connections.

Last night’s HMR Core class was a perfect example. One of the slides presented demonstrated how a person could “cheat” and go out of the HMR “box” of foods, while still losing weight. This could potentially reinforce bad behaviors because “hey I still lost even after I had that one handful of chips” or “I can add a Snickers bar and can still lose weight because the math shows that.” However our instructor continued on, showing that even if that math works sometimes, it will take significantly longer to lose the weight because it will be slower. And once the floodgates are open to outside foods, all bets are off on how long you can continually follow the program and stay motivated.

The first time I learned this information in 2013, it compelled me to stay in my Decision Free Box. I was paying too much to not be successful and wanted to lose fast. And I stayed in the box for the entire time I was in Decision Free (over 9 months)!

However last night I took away a different lesson. I already know that staying in the box in Phase One works. I know how motivating it is to lose quickly and how that success continues to build upon itself to some serious big weight loss. I watched people over my tenure make choices to leave their HMR box in Phase One, and I have said goodbye to some as they lost the motivation to continue.

Last night I realized that “cheating” can also happen in Phase Two where the world is my oyster. And that I allowed those unnecessary choices corrupt my box and disrupt my success cycle. By allowing lots of small extras, I lost my calorie balance needed to maintain my weight. But for the longest time, those gains were small. A half of a pound or a tenth of a pound, or “just a pound but I can lose that by tightening up my diet this week.” Except once you make exceptions a habit, they are no longer an exception. And nibbles outside of my Phase Two box became a part of an unsupportive open world while my box fell to the wayside until eventually those small gains became an overwhelming large gain, and I struggled to stay motivated to maintain or to begin the process of losing weight again.

As I relearn those habits that made me successful in Phase One Decision Free in 2013-2014, I am also learning to apply them to how my world will be once I transition to Phase Two again. My first time in Phase One my head was in the sand. My only goal was getting the weight off. But this time I realize how that’s the easy part. I need to create positive behaviors that support my health beyond just this phase. Which means I need to stop allowing exceptions to be the norm in my diet.

Sure I could make excuses and leave my box, or I could recognize my need for consistent positive weight management behaviors. #InTheBox #HMRStrong