Overnight Oats – HMR Decision Free Portable Breakfast!
It’s been a short stint since I’ve posted (despite having dozens of things I want to share!) – but since I’m up past my bedtime watching election results, I thought I’d share something quick and easy I’ve been enjoying during this stressful time of year (end of the school year is crazy for teachers!).
You can switch up the flavor of pudding, but I like the cheesecake flavor combined with the thick texture of the overnight oats – awesome for breakfast but would also make a great last meal of the night!
HMR Diet Overnight Oats
- 1 HMR Multigrain Cereal
- 1 tablespoon fat-free, sugar-free cheesecake flavored pudding mix powder
- 1 cup water
I mix everything up using a fork (to prevent clumps of powder) in a portable container with a lid. Put in the fridge overnight. The oats and pudding mix absorb the liquid and create a thick, almost solid, oatmeal. Perfect for the post-morning workout meal and easy to transport (I’ve been eating it on my walking commute this week).
You can play with the amount of liquid to get the texture you want. I like it thick and rich, so one cup of water is perfect. And yes, I eat this cold – I have never tried to heat it after soaking it all night.
Savory HMR Porridge
When you have been enjoying HMR meals for over four years (yes I used them in Phase Two and Phase One) and nine of those months were an exclusive relationship (Decision Free), sometimes you try out some combinations that don’t necessarily sound appealing to the causal observer.
I have said before that I never post a recipe in this blog that I haven’t tried several times to ensure it’s reasonably accurate and worth sharing. Well today’s post is a recipe I have been making for years but is just strange enough I haven’t shared because I know it’s going to sound odd to almost everyone. But I finally had to confess to my secret love for savory porridge.
Traveling and exploring different cultures through food meant this concept was not new to me. I have had savory porridges in a number of countries. However this unique combination of HMR food puts a special spin on this dish.
Savory HMR Pudding
- HMR Oatmeal (I pick out the biggest chunks of fruit)
- HMR Soup
- 2 tbsp Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce
- 2/3 cup of water
- HMR BBQ Chicken Entree (I chop up the chicken into little pieces)
Mix oatmeal and soup together in a large microwave safe bowl. Add in wing sauce and water and stir until it all mixes together. Microwave for 3 minutes.
When you remove from microwave, the porridge will have thickened but upon stirring you will still find it is oatmeal-like in consistency. Add in the BBQ chicken entree (yes the whole shebang) and stir. Microwave for another 90 seconds.
Remove from microwave and enjoy. Warning it will be hot!
You can microwave for longer to thicken the porridge into almost a savory bread. You can also add more water initially if you want a soupier consistency. I have found the measurements above to be perfect for the consistency I enjoy which is a thick savory porridge with a little heat from the wing sauce, sweet from the bbq sauce and tiny bits of fruit, salty and almost a little cheesy from the soup.
This dish sticks inside of me and keeps me full for hours. I will often eat it the night before a big run or eat it right before heading off to a social event as I know it will fuel me and keep me away from temptations for hours.
Let me know if you try this and what you think! Or if you have your own HMR savory porridge recipe!
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
- HMR Chicken Soup
- HMR Penne and Meatball Entree
- Chicken bouillon cube
- Italian Herb Seasoning Blend (I use Penzey’s but feel free to sub in your own!)
- 1 cup of water
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
- HMR Chicken Pasta Parm entree
- HMR BBQ Chicken entree
- Franks Buffalo Sauce
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!
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 powder. 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.
Creamy HMR Penne Pasta Bake
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.
Spicy HMR Lentil Soup
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
- HMR Lentil Stew Entree
- 1.5 cups broth
- Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Sauce (I use about 1.5 tsp)
- Garlic salt, just a dash
- Black pepper, just a dash
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!
HMR Diet Hack: Starbucks Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate
Let’s start with a confession. Outside of making lattes with my HMR Program shakes, I have had very few hot shakes. I would occasionally try a hot chocolate, but that was about it. However, as I have made it a goal to focus on losing my marathon weight gain, this means incorporating more shakes and entrees to off-set outside foods and one of the ways I was successful in Phase One, was playing with my HMR food to try new things, often trying to hack a food I might have eaten pre-HMR, in order to keep it interesting (while still staying safely “in the box”). So I am trying out a variety of hot shakes in an attempt to stay warm and full this winter.
During the holiday season, I had a chance to try a kid size Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate at Starbucks. It was super sweet and a fun treat, but the calories were insane! Even for the tiny thimble they call kid size. Well I loved the flavors so much, I asked if it could possibly be turned into a latte to amp up the volume. But I was told it was just made with milk, white chocolate syrup, and cinnamon dolce syrup, and that it wouldn’t translate well into a latte.
However this week I decided it would translate very well into an HMR shake! And while I haven’t had a Starbucks version to compare it to (nor do I plan on it) — this is a sweet and filling beverage that only has the calories from the shake. It’s in the box for both Decision Free and Healthy Solution folks while being the perfect cold weather pre-portioned meal for Phase Two folks too!
HMR Snickerdoodle Hot Chocolate
- 1 HMR Vanilla Shake (I used the 120)
- 1 tbsp Torani Sugar-free White Chocolate syrup
- 1 tbsp Torani Sugar-free Belgian Cookie syrup
- 10 oz. hot water
Mix hot water and syrup together. Slowly whisk shake powder into the liquid. I use an Aerolatte travel milk frother (it’s inexpensive, comes in a travel case, and prevents clumping!). Enjoy! You could even shake a little cinnamon on top for a pretty garnish.
Spiced Chocolate Cake Pudding (An HMR Diet Decision Free Recipe)
Holidays are full of food-filled memories. The association of flavors and smells with specific events can make it difficult to practice supportive behaviors during this time of year.
I have found it helpful to isolate the flavors and smells to try to figure out what I really miss and if it is really food, trying to find a way to enjoy these things in a new way. The holiday spice blend in many baked treats was one flavor profile I just couldn’t shake, and thus this pudding was born.
HMR Chocolate Spice Cake Pudding
- HMR 70 Chocolate Shake
- 1/8 tsp Penzeys Cake Spice
- 2 oz water
Whisk all ingredients together. Enjoy! I have tried it with slightly warm tap water which made it even more comforting, but it also tasted great chilled in the freezer.
Processing Phase Two: An Academic Exploration of Life Outside “The Box” and the Creation of a “New Box”
I lived inside of a bubble for almost a whole year.
It wasn’t a real bubble. That would be a little bit strange. But it was a world where I had protection in the form of a very strict diet called HMR Decision Free. For those who have been reading for awhile, you probably already figured that out. But it still amazes me that for a whole nine months, I lived in such a confined world of food choices and after so long inside my bubble, I think I had forgotten what existed outside of that world.
As I transition from my bubble world to the real world, I have found that a lot of academic texts that were shared with us in health class have become much more salient for me. I wanted to use my journal (blog) today as an opportunity to explore my transition while linking some of these texts as well as next texts to help me connect my personal experiences with broader research. Because I have learned a lot in the last several months but it helps me know that I am not alone in this world full of food that we call “The Gap.”
Cornell researchers Brian Wansink & Jeffery Sobal found that we make more than 200 decisions about food every day. While we learned about this study in our HMR health classes, I dismissed it at the time, because those were not choices I needed to make at that moment. My choices were much more limited. Did I meet my daily minimum of shakes and entrees? Which of the limited selection was I eating next? Since everything was tasty and nutritionally calculated, it was rare I really felt compelled to make a clear decision.
When I transitioned to Healthy Solutions, the number of decisions increased. Suddenly I needed to decide how to get my fruits and veggies in. I needed to go into grocery stores to acquire said produce. I needed to prepare them and write them down and it became more complicated that just jotting down the same several items in my journal each day.
And because I thought I missed variety, I quickly delved into produce diversification. However, perhaps I should have stuck with buying only what I needed each day to minimize choice and over-consumption. Pierre Chandon and Brian Wansink found, in the Journal of Marketing Research, that stockpiling food leads to over-consumption. And so while I thought I was saving money and time in buying in bulk, I have since realized that I consumed even more produce just because it was there, not because I was hungry.
Fruits and vegetables are not the worst things in the world to overeat. However, the habits created could possibly transfer to other items. And so by discovering this in Healthy Solutions, I was able to minimize the total amount of food in the house and as I transitioned to Phase Two, I had to keep this in mind. Because even frozen dinners, that would soon supplement my HMR meal replacements, could be abused.
As I have transitioned to Phase Two, I have worked hard to keep my home environment and work environment as clean as possible. But I have learned a lot in the transition.
I learned quickly that I couldn’t be trusted to just show up in the school cafeteria to select a meal on the fly. The temptations of everything around me would add up. And even if I grabbed small portions of lots of healthier options, it would still add up to way more calories than I needed in a meal. And because I was now socializing at lunch instead of eating in my classroom, I found that I consume far more despite the fact I could have done with less. And I am not alone. According to John M. De Castro, a professor at Georgia State University, in the British Journal of Nutrition, “Simply eating with one other person increases the average amount ingested in meals by 44% and with more people present the average meal size grows even larger.” And so I either have a shake about an hour beforehand and strategically plan which stations I will go to and which I will avoid, or I bring my own meal and bypass the cafeteria entirely.
The social pressures to consume “normal food” have led me to stray from guidelines we are encouraged to follow in Phase Two of HMR. While traveling, I worked to fill my plate with mostly vegetables. I used shakes and produce and entrees to offset hunger, and I walked when I could. But eventually, I found myself caving to the pressure to consume the “special homemade meals” that were offered near where we were sitting. The food was free and the families were so eager to share. And it was delicious. But I have struggled to pull myself back into real life day to day living. It is so easy to justify everything as something special. And yet I lived for nine months where nothing was special enough to eat and I had a few events that probably were once in a lifetime events where I resisted!
I know it is easy to justify my choices. Not just because I teach debate, but also because in the Gap we are handed justifications to make bad food choices every day. However, although I may have had trouble with defining my life after Phase One, I am able to bring myself full circle. Brian Wansink writes in Physiology & Behavior:
“This Laboratory of Life experience – trying to change mindless eating in the real world – brings lessons of both discouragement and encouragement for those of us interested in helping change eating behaviors. On one hand, some results are discouraging because they show how some of our most robust academic findings are often not implemented by people because they do not recognize their relevance, they lack the motivation to make them work, or they lack the step-by- step encouragement and direction they might need. If we fear we are often talking only to other academics, perhaps we initially are.”
While I had some trouble with motivation during some of my initial weeks in Phase Two, I think my health educator helped me assess what a bigger problem was for me. I still hadn’t figured out what my new box was. I had done so much work to stay in the HMR defined box, and now that I “could have” things, I was having them because there wasn’t a box I had clearly laid out.
In the past few weeks, I have figured out my triggers. I also know that severely limiting myself forever won’t work, and I do need to eventually allow for life events to happen. But I also need to write out a box for myself that I can stick with day to day.
I am writing out my Phase Two box here. In published form. To hold myself accountable. While I know that eventually it may change, this is how it need to be for the moment. In order to continue my weight loss efforts and prevent the Gap from consuming me.
I will continue to allow shakes and entrees be a part of my life. The definition of a meal replacement being 300 or fewer calories with more than ten grams of protein. I will allow myself one bar a day but bars must be under 200 calories with at least ten grams of protein and cannot be consumed in my house (in other words, bars should be used as portable meal replacements when necessary, not a daily requirement). I will continue to enjoy fruits and vegetables as these are important for my nutritional health but also to practice “more is better” with. And I will limit myself to no more than one serving of lean protein outside of prepared meal replacements each day. Finally, I will allow myself no more than 200 “other” calories. This might be popcorn. It might be a small cookies. It doesn’t have to be limited in scope (variety) but it does have to be limited in magnitude (calories) and I must ask myself “is this worth it? will it keep me full? if it won’t, why am I eating it?” and if I am satisfied with the answers, I can have it.
I was asked as I transitioned where I saw myself in five years. What is my five year plan. And the truth is, I am still thinking about it. But I know I don’t want to regress. I want to move forward. To better understand and support my health with healthy behaviors. And I will continue to contemplate this as I learn to live inside the box again. The white board has returned. And I look forward to building up those numbers because I am #HMRStrong!
Stepping Outside the Box
I have a number of things I want to write about. But I promised myself I would write about this first. And I clearly didn’t want to write it. So I didn’t write.
But a quotation from the 90’s TV series Dawson’s Creek kept running through my mind these last two weeks as I contemplated what I would write.
“The reason why I was unfaithful is preposterous. I have no reason. I woke up one day a few months ago and I realized that my life was perfect. Everything I’ve ever wanted from the time I was six, has been realized. I’ve discovered that perfection obtained is a discomforting state. And I got restless. What do you do when everything in your life is right? When everything is just what you wanted it to be? I have the perfect home, career, the most gifted child, a husband who stimulates me mind, body, and soul every day of my life. I wanted more for nothing. And I guess that made me feel empty not wanting. I justed wanted to “want” again. Anything out of life. So, I set out to achive it. And… oh boy oh boy, did I succeed. But what I want now, I want back everything I’ve lost.”
And while that quotation may not exactly fit, it does a decent job summarizing what occurred after 312 days of being “in the box” on the HMR Diet. That’s right, I went out of the box.
I could make a dozen excuses. For example, I was beginning the transition to Phase Two and introducing outside foods already. But after two weeks, I have come to realize, I was just tired of doing it right. And there really isn’t an excuse for it. But there is a lesson.
I was in New Haven for a debate trip and had done everything right all weekend. My students went to Shake Shack, and I went to Subway for a veggie lover salad. I met with some coaches at Buffalo Wild Wings and ordered a plain garden salad w FF dressing on the side. I made myself run in the middle of the day around campus while my debaters were in a round so I could fit in PA. And I had even planned team dinner at a place I could find supportive food at and had something to eat before we went so I wasn’t starving.
What I didn’t predict was a special event at the restaurant that would force us to alter our plans. And while we walked past several pubs and fried food joints, my mind was racing. So when we happened upon an Ethiopian restaurant, all I could think about was the fact I knew they would have vegetarian dishes.
After explaining to the kids what various dishes were and making recommendations, I went to order my own. I got the vegetarian combination and selected three items that seemed to only have lentils and vegetables and spices. I asked for no butter but clearly forgot to say no oil and no bread. The waitress said “oh don’t worry, it’s vegan” and I didn’t respond. I didn’t explain my diet like I had been doing so carefully. I was tired. Tired of explaining things. Tired physically because of travel and chaperoning. And honestly tired of feeling constrained. I was a negative nancy if ever there was one.
And so when the dish came out clearly cooked in oil and served on the injera bread, I ate it. I savored it. And later that evening, I got really sick.
Am I sorry I left the box? In short, yes. Not because the whiteboard would be erased. But because I knew better and I chose to leave the box and eat unsupportive food.
Diet fatigue is real. But knowing I can make choices is also real. And as I have transitioned into Phase Two, I am forced to make more and more choices. Most have been good but some have not. This is going to be a long process but I can take the lessons I have learned in Decision Free and Healthy Solutions and apply those in Phase Two.
So what would I have done differently in New Haven now that I have had time to reflect.
First, I would have stopped outside of the original restaurant and asked the kids what they wanted. Most of them would have probably been okay ordering a couple of pizzas and hanging in the lobby. Which would have allowed me to just have another shake and some fruit that was in my hotel room.
Had they wanted to go out, I could use the mobile apps I had used to find the first place to find a new one that would be just as supportive. A couple of minutes of thoughtful planning could set me up for success.
Third, I should have consumed a glass of water at the restaurant and reflected and just taken some deep breathes. I was tired and stressed and anxious all at once which left my judgement cloudy.
Fourth, I should have ordered off menu. Some steamed vegetables would have been tasty without the stomach ache. And thoughtfully explaining my diet might have allowed the server to make suggestions.
Finally, since I have transitioned, if I had wanted a special meal that was a little more indulgent, I could have planned ahead for it. Maybe a small indulgence would prevent a larger one in a world where boundaries are becoming less strict with an even higher level of self-accountability.
I am proud of myself for the 312 days I stayed in the box. It is proof to me that I can stick with something. It is also something that will keep me in check because I know how hard it was. I lost a lot of weight very quickly which has been hard to process sometimes. But every day was a struggle and I know it will continue to be a struggle. But learning from those struggles is the only way I can recover from the mistakes I make. Then I just have to stand up, dust myself off, and get back in my own Phase Two box.