Traveling through life with a timer and sneakers

Health

Celebrating 4/20 the HMR Healthy Solutions Way!

Did you know April 20th was a day recognized around the country as a very special day? It’s true! On 4/20, people around the country gather together to recognize National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day!

What better way to celebrate than with an HMR muffin! These won’t quite replicate the cake itself (but to be honest I have forgotten what that cake tastes like), however reading through a number of recipes and descriptors, I have crafted what I think is pretty darn tasty.

I have to thank one of my HMR Program classmates who mentioned making muffins with canned pineapple for the inspiration behind this recipe. (She also recommended what our class calls “The Rosé” – a double entree mixing the Penne and Alfredo – SO GOOD) I LOVE being inspired by my classmates – their stories and experiences motivate me going into rough weeks as I reflect on the lessons I have learned from them.

HMR Pineapple Muffins

  • HMR Oatmeal packet
  • HMR 70 Vanilla packet
  • 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple in it’s own juice
  • 1 tsp rum extract
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 pumps Torani Sugar-Free Coconut Syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare your baking tins. I use a silicone mini muffin tin which expedites cooking time while making it easy for quick release – I also use a quick spritz of cooking spray in the tin before filling it with batter – this also helps with release of the baked muffins.

Mix all of the ingredients together. Fill batter tins. It’s really that easy. The liquids from the pineapple, extract, and syrup are enough to moisten the batter. If you don’t like rum and coconut extract you could easily sub those out. I’m thinking the brown sugar syrup and vanilla extract might be nice as well. Or a brandy extract and a cherry syrup. I was going for a bit of tropical flair after being inspired by my classmate, but the possibilities are endless!

Bake for approximately 15 minutes until the tops of the muffins have browned. Then pop them out of the muffin tins to cool. Your baking time may vary based on oven calibration and muffin tins used.

 


Beet & Bean Burgers – Camping on HMR Healthy Solutions

This weekend I am stepping out of my comfort zone and going to a weekend trail-running festival. I’ll be attending alone, and will be surrounded by a community of runners. I am a ball of nervous excitement with dashes of social anxiety.

It will also mean a lot of calories being torched as we run 14ish miles with 2700+ feet of elevation gained, in addition we will do yoga and hiking. But the festival provides food all weekend, most of which is outside of my HMR Healthy Solutions Box.

My box is my safety net. And to reduce my anxiety, to settle my nerves, I did a lot of meal preparation and recipe testing. This is what I plan to enjoy when the menu is burgers on Saturday night!

I read several dozen recipes to create this Healthy Solutions Beet & Bean burger that is delicious but is also transportable and can be tossed on a grill or eaten cold.

I made it earlier this week and grilled up some of the patties after refrigerating them overnight. Then I topped them with fresh basil and chopped tomato to create bruschetta burgers!

I make smaller slider patties because they cook quicker and can be easily eaten with a lettuce “bun” – I haven’t tried full size patties but will warn you may want to lower the temperature in the oven and cook significantly longer to allow the burger to cook through (otherwise it will be soggy in the middle).

You will find photo step-by-step below. Also note you could sub out a different beet. Might change up the color and flavor a bit but I know beets can vary region to region.

Beet & Bean Burgers

  • 2 medium-large golden beets pre-roasted (I just wrapped them in foil and baked them earlier in the week when roasting vegetables) and cooled
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans
  • 3 tablespoons aquafaba (the liquid from the canned garbanzo beans)
  • 1 tablespoon Pasta Sprinkles (you can use a general Italian seasoning – I happen to love this blend of herbs and garlic – just avoid blends with added salt – the soup is salty enough)
  • 1 HMR Chicken Soup

Preheat oven to 375.

Using a food processor, grind up beets and beans into a coarse riced texture. Scrape down sides. Add pasta sprinkles seasoning and aquafaba.

Process for several more minutes until you have a paste-like substance. Then scoop out into patties on a cookie sheet covered with a silicone mat or parchment paper, sprayed with a small light cooking spray mist (I use a biscuit circle to create the shape – but it’s not necessary).

Bake for 25 minutes. Flip over (be careful they are still soft!). Bake for an additional 25 minutes. Remove and let cool on a rack or paper towel.


An HMR Diet Review: Reflecting in my Twelfth Week of Healthy Solutions Diet

After struggling in Phase Two, especially while dealing with the aftermath of an abrupt medical emergency, I recognized I needed to get my weight management act together. More specifically, I needed to focus on practicing the healthy behaviors I had learned while in Phase One in 2013-2014 as well as introduce some new behaviors. I had only spent a few weeks in the Healthy Solutions transition between Decision Free and Phase Two, and I needed to work on my relationship with fruits and vegetables.

In January of 2018, I committed to following the Healthy Solutions Diet offered by HMR at Palo Alto Medical Clinic. 12+ weeks of HMR meal replacements and unlimited fruits and vegetables. More decisions that the faster weight loss program (Decision Free) but still effectively limited food choices and thus decreasing my decision anxiety about food.

After 11 weeks on the program, I have lost over 30lbs, all while embracing the “More is Better” philosophy to help me stay on the program. My minimum prescription each day is 3 HMR shakes (or soup or oatmeal), 2 HMR entrees, and 5 servings of produce (the program offers guidance on serving sizes) – however most days I have extra fruits and vegetables, and maybe an extra meal replacement or two (or three or four) to keep me full and away from temptation for minimal calories!

After some conversations with other HMR patients on social media, I am sharing my data for the first 11 weeks (I am in week 12) publicly because I have come to realize it helps shape the reality of this “More is Better” concept at HMR:

Screen Shot 2018-04-09 at 3.00.13 PM

In a seven day week, my MR (meal replacements) minimum would be 35, as would my V/F (veggies and fruit), however you will notice I never eat “just the minimum” because it would not keep me full and thus I would faced increased temptation. And yet I have lost weight every week (and I peeked at my personal scale this morning at home and am feeling pretty awesome about this week as well!).

I have had struggles while I have been on Healthy Solutions. Making choices on going out to eat. Preparing for travel. Making sure I have a variety of options available to keep me full and away from temptation. But I have learned some valuable lessons too:

  • If you don’t like a vegetable or entree, try a different preparation method. I rarely ate the chicken soup in Decision Free unless it was a cracker or savory muffin. However I have been making all sorts of soups in Healthy Solutions (and actually still haven’t made a cracker or savory muffin with the mix!).
  • When in doubt, double the vegetables! This seems silly, why eat more than you had planned? Well you can usually sneak in an extra serving of vegetables when preparing a meal and while the calorie cost is minimal, the extra fullness can’t compare! When I add cauliflower rice to a chicken creole entree, I add two cups instead of one. Extra bulk. Extra fullness. And only 40 extra calories that is going to offset something higher calorie later!
  • Always keep easy-prep produce around. You never know when you are going to have a bad day (or days), so having a couple go-to standards is always a good idea. Every week I make sure to order a couple of easy-prep items in my Imperfect Produce delivery (apples, carrots, baby tomatoes, citrus). But I also have a few standards in my freezer – riced cauliflower (awesome to mix into most entrees), frozen cherries (perfect for snacking), small frozen bananas (throw one in a shake or make an ice cream), and frozen mixed peppers or grilled asparagus (something fun that’s quick to prep and can change up an entree or be blended into a soup). Finally, I always keep an onion and either a potato or hard winter squash on hand. The onion can transform lots of things from entrees to soup to veggies. The potato or squash might take a little longer to prep but they are carbalicious treats that are a better choice than something out-of-the-box.
  • Plan for more than you think you are going to eat. If it’s in my plan, I am not afraid to eat it and it’s already prepared and easy to grab. If I am not hungry, it can be stored for the next day when it’s the first thing on my list. For example, Monday was my first day back from Spring Break where my eating was less regimented. I also had a 5am OrangeTheory Fitness so I knew I’d be starting my day early and with a lot of activity (which can sometimes leave me hungry all morning). So my post-workout commuter breakfast was a blended 120 vanilla shake (with some PB2 and sugar-free salted caramel syrup from Torani) as well as a chicken soup blended up with my “green soup base” (which is really just whatever looks like is near it’s end in the produce bin getting simmered with broth and spices and blended into a greenish broth). Then my snack and lunch bag had: 1 cup of baby tomatoes, 2 cups of roasted broccoli, 1 cup of berries, a chicken creole cooked with peppers, 1 cup of cucumber-tomato-basil salad, a diet soda, a giant Contigo with herbal tea, and another giant Contigo with a 120 chocolate shake turned into a hot cocoa. When I got home from work, I still had the broccoli (which I snacked on while preparing dinner) and the tomatoes, which are back in the lunch bag this morning and will be my first snack of the morning.

Overall, I think Healthy Solutions has helped me to embrace fruits and vegetables as filling and delicious foods. I realized before that they could offset calories, but I never truly practiced incorporating them into my life, making them the main focus of snacks and meals instead of side dishes and afterthoughts. And while my weight loss has been slower on Healthy Solutions than on Decision Free, I do think spending more time in Healthy Solutions will help to prepare me for Phase Two. I wouldn’t trade the fast weight loss initially because I think Decision Free helped me reduce decision anxiety and find success and motivation in the HMR Program. It taught me invaluable lessons that I am not sure I personally could have found if I had started in Healthy Solutions.

But I was definitely in a rush to get to “normal foods” in Phase Two and forgot along the way the fruits and vegetables are the staple of the “normal foods” – a foundation that needs to be solidified in order for the house of weight maintenance to be steady when the earthquake called life might hit. And now my foundation is getting that strengthening it needs so that my weight management practices can be strong in the Phase Two world.

 


Easy Healthy Solutions Meal Prep: Chicken Creole

As Spring Break winds to a close, I’m back to prepping multiple grab-and-go meals for the week. I wanted to share this one because someone who reads my blog told me they don’t like cauliflower (what?!?) and was looking for fast ways to add vegetables into their diet.

This one is quick and cheap. So easy I can’t believe I haven’t shared it before!

This bag of fire roasted veggies from Trader Joe’s has no added oil and approximately five cups of veggies! So I throw the whole bag in a large hot frying pan and stir while it defrosts and starts to warm up.

I add in two HMR Program Chicken Creole entrees into the pan and sprinkle in my favorite Creole seasoning. Continue to stir for several minutes until all the flavors have come together.

I divide the mix into two half for two quick meals that are easy to reheat and contain 2.5 cups of veggies already cooked in!


Creamy Penne and Meatball Soup – An HMR Decision Free recipe

A few weeks ago we had a homework assignment to combine the HMR Program chicken soup with an entree. This increases our fullness level which makes those calories last longer. Plus it’s delicious!

I’ve been doing this a fair amount after finding success with it during that homework assignment. This is one of the recipes I’ve been enjoying that helps up the fullness factor.

Creamy Penne and Meatball Soup

Microwave water and bouillon cube in a large bowl for 90 seconds. Whisk in soup packet and a couple dashes of Italian seasoning blend.

While you are whisking the broth, soup, and seasoning; microwave the Penne entree for one minute.

Whisk the entree into the soup and enjoy!


Double the Trouble, Double the Fun, Double the #HMRDiet Entree!

A few weeks ago I mentioned having a homework assignment to increase my entrees during a challenging day by one higher than my highest. That meant having SIX HMR Program entrees in addition to the rest of my Healthy Solutions prescription of 3 shakes and 5 servings of fruits/vegetables.

That number seemed outlandish. Grotesquely outlandish. But I was determined to complete the assignment and to learn from it.

So I started my morning with a double-entree. I figured if I had two in the morning, I would already be well on my way to completing the mission. And then I could continue my regular schedule, inserting a few more entrees in throughout the day.

I ate a combination of turkey chili and chicken creole that morning. It was an odd but not off-putting combination. I had a microwave handy and knew I wouldn’t eat the creole entree cold, so I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. I threw on some cajun seasonings and a couple dashes of hot sauce, and ate it while sipping a cold brew coffee.

A couple of hours passed, and I was scheduled to have a snack. Veggies with a lentil entree as a dip. Only I wasn’t hungry. I was still full. I realized I wasn’t even close to hungry until significantly later than I normally would be. And I normally eat more food in the first half of the day than in the second. It was amazing!

Upon reflection, I realized I had never tried a double entree in the morning. I often have entrees in the earlier half of the day, I don’t have an issue with a lasagna for breakfast. But because I wanted to space entrees out in the day, to ensure I had one in the afternoon or evening, I would refrain from front loading my day with entrees. However, since I had been challenged to fit so many into my day, I didn’t hold back. And I was pleasantly surprised with the results!

The extra fullness was powerful. I was able to power through my day in such a manner that when the next day began, I started it with a double entree too! I walked thousands of steps that weekend and never had anxiety about food or felt a tinge of hunger. When faced with environments full of out-of-the-box temptation, I didn’t feel tempted because I wasn’t hungry.

While I probably won’t eat six entrees in a day again, or if I do it will be rare, pushing myself out of my comfort zone allowed me to find a new comfort zone. I realize a double entree is still fewer calories than a couple of slices of pizza, and a heck of a lot more filling. That the crowding out effect is real and that I shouldn’t be afraid of an extra entree to kick start my day.

With this in mind, I wanted to share my current favorite double-entree combo. And I would love for you to share yours as well. I know there are a lot of them out there I haven’t tried and I’d love to hear about them!

HMR Decision Free Buffalo BBQ Chicken Bowl

You will need a bowl big enough for two entrees (I learned this the hard way!). You may include optional seasonings like Molly McCheese or an in-the-box ranch dip seasoning mix (just a 1/4 tsp of the powder on top of the bowl after cooking) however I like this one pretty simple.

Begin by scooping the chicken pasta parmesan entree into the bowl. Add the rice & beans as well as all of the BBQ sauce from the BBQ entree. You will want to scrape the sauce off the piece of chicken.

Dice the chicken breast up and mix it into the bowl with the other ingredients. Cover bowl and microwave for two minutes. Top bowl off with a healthy dose of Franks Buffalo Sauce and enjoy! INSANELY filling!


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!