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Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal – An #HMRDiet #HealthySolutions Recipe

This is one of my favorites – so easy and quick but flavorful and filling! It doesn’t actually have jelly in it but the berries soften up during the cooking process making them gooey in the peanut butter oatmeal.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal

  • HMR Oatmeal
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp PB2
  • 2 pumps Torani sugar-free Belgian Cookie syrup

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and microwave for two minutes. Stir and enjoy!

Celebrating Pi Day with an #HMRProgram In-The-Box Decision Free Pizza Pie!

Yesterday was my birthday. I was born on Friday, March 13. And to me, it’s always been the BEST day of this particular week. While others might get excited about the Ides of March or Saint Patrick’s Day, I had my own special day to celebrate.

It wasn’t until later in life that I found out Pi Day was even a thing people celebrated. 3.14   – sure I guess that makes sense. And I have some friends and students who REALLY celebrate Pi Day. They go ALL OUT. So as an adult, I have become accustomed to celebrating it as well. Pizza pie, shepherd’s pie, and all the dessert pies you can imagine (which is only funny because I really like cake a lot more than pie, but hey it’s the holiday for pie so it’s a good thing I could have cake the day before!).

Well if you are like many of my friends and students and plan to celebrate PI DAY but are looking for an HMR Program-Friendly option, there’s always the Healthy Solutions Shepherd’s Pie or my Decision Free Pizza Pie! I make this pizza with a BBQ chicken entree, but you could top it with your favorite entrees (or veggies if you are in Healthy Solutions!).


This recipe’s crust is based on my Savory HMR Biscuits – I halved the recipe for the crust and picked out all the big chunks of fruit. Yes it might have a little residual sweetness, but that’s why I top it with the BBQ Chicken Entree – the sauce masks the teeny bits of fruit I might have missed. And no need for cheese! There’s some in the crust which helps extend the flavor!

HMR Diet Decision Free Pizza

  • 1 HMR Oatmeal
  • 1 HMR Chicken Soup
  • 1 TBSP Molly McCheese
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup of water and 2 tbsp of water (added at separate times)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pick out big chunks of fruit from oatmeal.

Mix oatmeal and 1/2 cup of water. Microwave for one minute. Stir and let stand for several minutes.

Add in soup, cheese powder and the remaining 2 tbsp of water. Stir until combined.

Once dough is mixed, add baking soda. Carefully fold in without losing the air bubbles.

Gently pour onto baking pan covered with a silpat mat or parchment paper – gently spread out without letting any breaks occur.

Bake for 15 to 25 minutes until the center is cooked through. Cooking times will vary significantly based on how thick you make it and your personal oven calibration.

After removing from oven, carefully flip onto a plate. This will prevent the underside from getting soggy from the damp heat but will also allow the harder side of the crust to be on the bottom when eating the pizza for a better hold.

My pizza was a BBQ Chicken pizza. I heated up the entree per normal instructions. Then removed the chicken and diced it up. I spread the sauce on the pizza and topped it with the diced chicken. I also added a drizzle of hot sauce and a sprinkle of smoked salt as well as some dried crushed peppers and dried basil. Then I used a pizza cutter and cut the pizza into four slices.


Traveling on the #HMRDiet – Healthy Solutions Style!

When I was on the medically-supervised HMR Diet Program (Decision-Free), I traveled 20+ weekends a year for work. And I blogged about it. I even traveled to Disney World and stayed in the box!

However as I am working to make vegetables and fruit the major portion of my diet, I realized I would need a new approach to traveling on the HMR Diet Healthy Solutions program. So I spent several weeks thinking about this, not only because I knew I would be traveling in March, but also because I needed to find a way to manage my weight during the long summers I teach at residential programs away from home, where I don’t have a kitchen and live in a dorm.

This weekend was the first test of traveling in the box and I wanted to document what I did so I can reflect on it in the future (and maybe help others out too).

I should also add that this week’s homework assignment for our Phase One class was to eat one more entree that our previous highest entree total for a day. In the first week in Phase One in January, I had two days where I ate 5 entrees (and still lost!), so I had to pick my most challenging day and eat six entrees. I’ll write more about that later but I do have to give a special shoutout because it meant I had to pack even more entrees for a three day trip than I had planned, but it actually served to be a very useful tool I might have otherwise not considered because I *didn’t* want to pack tons of extra entrees!

What I packed

So what did I pack for my 3 day trip?


  • A minimum of 3 entrees for each day of travel (well in this case I packed 13 instead of 9 because I had that special assignment) – most of these needed to be entrees I could eat cold in case plans changed (although I did have a microwave at the hotel and my HotLogic Mini packed). I may switch this to having 4 a day on hand after my experiences this weekend – front-loading with a double-entree for example really made the day a lot easier!
  • 6 packets each of chocolate and vanilla 800s (they travel easier than the 120s)
  • 2 packets of 70s for emergency pudding
  • 2 batches of pudding cookies (divided into 4 snack size bags equivalent to 1 shake each)
  • 3 benefit bars for emergency treats
  • 4 pieces of fruit pre-washed that stand up to the jostling in my backpack
  • 1 carton of blueberries with 1-cup snack bags packed to divided up upon arriving at the hotel (the fact the snack bags have measurements on the side make it easy for portion control!)
  • 15 1-cup baggies of vegetables pre-washed and sliced that could be eaten alone or used as chips to eat the lentil and bean entrees
    • Jicama
    • Cucumber
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Snap Peas
  • 1 diet soda can (stored in my BlenderBottle) for an emergency mix-in

Equipment (don’t worry, I don’t use affiliate links! just sharing where I bought them):

  • eBags Crew Cooler – after a lot of research, I settled on this bag with a removable liner. The top portion is where I store tools, the front pouch is condiments and my food journal, the side pockets for bottles (they zip up when not in use), and the main compartment for food. It looks professional, has a loop in back to slip over a roller suitcase, and has an easy to carry shoulder strap.
  • HotLogic Mini – this fits easily in the top pouch of the cooler and is perfect for heating up food while I am in meetings (and in case the hotel didn’t have a microwave).
  • BlenderBottle – Easy to use and clean, I picked one that matched my cooler.
  • Bottle Brush for cleaning the shaker bottle.
  • Travel cutlery for easy dining.
  • AeroLatte Travel Frother – perfect for mixing hot shakes (and soups when I take them)
  • Extra quart-sized ziplock bags. I actually also had travel ice blocks for this trip because we weren’t flying. But I keep extra ziplock bags to make ice packs on the road – getting ice from the hotel or a restaurant – to keep things cold.

I have also successfully purchased fruits and veggies at local spots, like having a bowl of fruit when taking my students for ice cream. But I didn’t want to rely on those options being available.

And yes, I will most likely have food left at the end of the trip. My students and coworkers also enjoyed munching on some of my vegetables when they were hungry so packing more was a great idea!

I won’t get home from my trip until this evening, but so far so good. I have survived a pizza party, an ice cream social, and a number of other temptations. And I haven’t suffered any anxiety about making a decision or not having options when I am hungry. I’ve met my minimums (and then some) and I have rather easily stayed in the box!

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup – an #HMRDiet Healthy Solutions staple

Whenever I post a recipe on my blog, you can safely assume I’ve made it a few times to ensure I not only think it’s good enough to save for reference but that I have worked to perfect all of the measurements and prep methods. With this in mind, this recipe is one I have been enjoying multiple times a week for several weeks, but because I’ve been playing with all of the different spice combinations, I couldn’t pick just one to share!

So while I have finally settled on my favorite version, know that there is a lot of wiggle room to find your favorite spice combination. I will also add that if you don’t like butternut squash, I have also recently discovered broccoli makes a great substitute to change things up.

I’ve included a photo collage below of the step-by-step process as well as the nutritional information for my favorite bouillon cubes.


Perfect in a mug on a cold winter day!


Creamy HMR Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 2.5 cups chopped butternut squash (I cheat and buy it pre-peeled and chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp Penzeys Bavarian seasoning (yes the same seasoning from my Shepherd’s Pie recipe)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bouillon cube (I am sharing a picture of my favorite brand Massel below!)
  • HMR Chicken Soup packet

Saute onions in a pot over medium high heat until they start to become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add squash and seasoning and mix, cook for another 2-3 minutes to allow some browning of the squash and toasting of the spices.

Add water and bouillon cube. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer as long as you can stand it (I’ll admit I only let it go 15-20 minutes). Your goal is to have softened the squash and let the flavors steep.

Put contents of pot into blender and add soup packet. Be really careful when blending hot liquids! I have a Vitamin which has the ability to vent on top to release the steam. Blend until smooth and creamy.

This makes a MASSIVE portion – I usually make it and pour some in a mug to enjoy while grading or doing meal prep. I keep going back to refill my mug until it’s all gone. It keeps me warm, full, and out of trouble. In fact it’s what I’ll be enjoying tonight while I grade and pack for my school trip this weekend!


Visual steps for making HMR Diet Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

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 entree.

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.