Traveling through life with a timer and sneakers

Posts tagged “food

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!


Hitting the reset button on weight management: Week One

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post talking about gaining weight over the last 16 or so months while training for three different marathons. I kept jumping into cycles of trying to lose weight during these months, only to end up gaining, as I would find myself needing more nutrition during training, but rather than control the needed increase, I would just eat whenever I wanted. It wasn’t planned nutrition, it was just eating to eat. And this failure to plan meant the scale just kept going up.

The NYC Marathon is over. I finished and will write more about that amazing adventure later. But as I promised myself weeks ago, I hit the reset button on November 9. And I will be sharing this journey with you in an effort to hold myself publicly accountable.

One of the realizations I have had over the last 18 months is that I did not have a system in place to track my food that worked for me. There are dozens of ways of keeping a food diary and I had tried many of them – from various apps on my phone to paper logs. I loved the HMR Program application for my phone, but it became difficult to track outside foods, and so I would only track the meal replacements and fruits/veggies. Which meant lots of outside foods would creep in. With other applications that tracked calories, I would find myself looking for the lowest calorie options, and not the most nutritious or filling options. And with paper, I would forget it at home or wouldn’t take it when I went to social events because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself (and would inevitably forget to log). But I loved the paper log because it allowed me the freedom to just write everything I consumed, and not have calorie anxiety or the judgement of many of the free trackers to causing me to avoid logging.

You will find a new tab on the top of this blog that is a page with a Google document embedded in it. I have this linked on my phone, where I can have the ease of electronically logging, while having the freedom of my paper log. And I have chosen to make it public – because I think sharing food logs is helpful for accountability but also to share ideas with each other about what works and what doesn’t work.

I am taking this reset in stages, recognizing going cold turkey doesn’t always turn out well for me. So the public log is part of this first week’s steps. And I will continue to add in healthy behaviors each week and share them with you as I commit to them. Most of the nutrition based will revolve around the healthy behaviors I have learned in my time with the HMR Program, because they work.

The second goal of this first week is to work on crowding out calorically-dense foods by intentionally increasing my fruits and veggies. I am shooting for nine servings (using HMR measurements) of fruits and vegetables per day, every day this week.

I will also be adding in new physical activity programming in the coming weeks and can’t wait to tell you more about it along with the dietary changes. Step-by-step, day-by-day, week-by-week – using what I have learned along my journey to get rid of this excess weight while also recognizing and celebrating the significant weight loss I have managed to maintain. I also promise to try to post some pictures here (although you can also follow me on Instagram where I definitely love to share pictures!)

What works for you to maintain your weight loss? Do you have a secret strategy for success? And if you are struggling to lose weight, what is something that you are finding difficult? I’d love to hear from others about your successes and struggles!

 


Enchilada Bites: An HMR Decision Free Recipe

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With the first couple days of summer vacation under my belt, I finally feel like I can come up for air and reflect on my first year teaching new classes in a new department (and drastically reducing my work travel!). Over the course of the last year, many things have changed, including the HMR enchilada entree! (Bet you didn’t see that transition coming, did you?)

I am trying to reconnect with my HMR meals – in Phase Two it is easy to forget about focusing on high-volume foods or on portion-control. And increasing my use of HMR meals has allowed me an opportunity to reeducate myself. But I don’t have a microwave at home, which means getting creative with entree prep.

In honor of my Decision Free Chips & Dip recipe made with the beef enchiladas, I decided to attempt another “finger food” recipe with the new chicken enchiladas. Super easy and still something people on decision free can have in their rotation!

(Warning: I used a toaster oven, so times and temps may vary)

Enchilada Bites

  • 1 HMR Chicken Enchilada entree
  • Hot sauce, salsa, FF sour cream (your choice!)
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover mini cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Scrap sauce off enchiladas and cut into 6-7 “coins” each. Lay on side on cookie sheet so it looks like a coin (as pictured above). Will produce 12-14 “bites” total. Put in oven and bake 8-12 minutes until tops and sides have started to brown.

While bites are baking, mix the sauce from the entree with your choice of hot sauce, salsa (if you are allowed to have it in your program), and/or fat-free sour cream. I just used Frank’s Buffalo Sauce for the bites pictures above to add some additional heat to the dipping sauce.

Enjoy! And then share how you like to prepare the chicken enchilada entree… I could use some new ideas!

 


Stress Management and Weight Management – what is in your toolbox?

I have been sitting on this post for about a week. I wrote it in my head and then rewrote it about 60 more times before I finally opened up my computer and started writing. So what you are getting now is a stream of conscious thought that has been overthought. And that’s about where I am with this topic right now.

I had a very stressful series of incidents occur recently in my life. Without going into detail, I will leave it as one of the more stressful moments in recent history. And now, in the aftermath of the initial fallout, I am left reflecting on what I did well and where I need to continue to work on my stress management strategies.

First, a good practice, is that I exercised. A LOT. I worked out every day for at least an hour and on top of that took long hikes several days with friends. This physical activity helped me to relieve a lot of the physical anxiety I was feeling about the events that had unfolded. For an hour, I could just run, bike, row, kick, jump, sing loudly to music and leave my stress at the gym door.

I also tried to ensure I met my minimum intake of vegetables and fruit each day. I didn’t alway make it. But I kept it in the front of my mind and would opt for produce if it was available and in front of me.

But then there was the bad. And if you have been reading my posts for awhile, you can guess where I am going with this. I ate and drank just about everything in front of me after consuming that produce. I didn’t shovel food nonstop, but I did not make conscious choices about what I ate or when I ate it. I ate to comfort myself from the emotional and mental stress that I was facing. I would go out with friends to avoid facing the stress and would drink (in mostly restrained quantities) but this loosened my inhibitions which resulted in even less restraint about food choices. And it was a holiday week which meant those bad choices were everywhere around me.

I didn’t stop to think. I didn’t stop to evaluate how those food choices would impact my weight management. I didn’t consciously, in most cases, even realize I was making decisions about food. And now in hindsight, I can see where I didn’t use my other tools to manage my emotional and mental stress.

I am trying to regroup. I have meal plans and have food prepped. I am preplanning in order to reduce my choices about food. Which will help me continue to work through the current stress factors in my life. But I want to continue to build my stress management toolbox. And I think there are some pretty awesome people reading my ramblings. So I am throwing it out to you.

If you are still reading this post, please take one minute to reply. Share one way you manage stress. Or one way you combat emotional eating. What’s in your Stress Management/Weight Management toolbox?


Habits: Emotional Eating and Food Substitutions

Definition of Habit

Last night in my HMR Phase Two class, we talked about habits. What they are. Discovering our motivation behind the habit. And how to work to break bad habits while establishing supportive habits.

A topic that was almost too timely for me.

Earlier in the day, I had fallen into an old habit that was surreal but vaguely familiar as it is one I thought I had broken but found myself rediscovering recently. The habit of eating until I was sickening full with no real hunger preceding it.

I have had several recent occasions where I have found myself falling into this habit and I have been journaling to figure out the triggers. It was thus interesting to participate in last night’s discussion as it solidified what I had been realizing about myself.

The eating starts when I am tired and stress. I feel rushed with too much on my scheduling plate and what seems like too little time. I know I need to eat, so I grab supportive foods.

This falls in line with what some people suggest. That when you want to eat, you should replace non-supportive foods like potato chips with supportive foods like carrots. Because then you can satiate your hand-to-mouth desires.

However, what I am slowly learning about myself over this past year, is that this doesn’t satiate my emotions and I end up stuffing myself until I am sick to my stomach. Even with supportive foods that might not cause too much damage, I feel gross and still unsatisfied.

Which means I feel gross. I am unsatisfied. And now I still want unsupportive foods. And while feeling full should keep me from eating those unsupportive foods, I still go for them. And maybe right now it is just small bites. But it’s small bites of high calorie foods on top of the massive bowl of beets and the banana and the bowl of cherry tomatoes and it all adds up.

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But it’s not all gloom and doom. Because as I reflect on my successes this past year, I realize that the times I have wanted to eat and I didn’t take the first bite, I was able to alleviate my stress and anxiety in other ways.

When I have been angry and stressed, I have found that dropping down and doing 5 push-ups (or more) immediately gives me a physical relief that is far more satisfying than a bowl of lettuce. And if I have more time, lacing up and going for a walk or run allows me to process my thoughts away form food.

When I am sad or feeling more of a low-energy emotional need to eat, journaling about why I want to eat helps me find the trigger without pulling it. And then I can figure out a solution to this need – do I need to feel pampered? Do I need a hug? Do I just need to cry without a reason?

While some people may be able to find a solution through replacing high calorie foods with low calories foods when they have an emotional trigger to eat, I am realizing that this won’t work for me.

So the new habit I am working to develop it to not take the first bite. To continue to work to recognize my triggers and to use my non-food toolbox to process my emotions.

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Stepping Outside the Box

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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.


HMR Thai Curry in a Kabocha Squash Bowl

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The fabulous folks at HMR have a new entree! And after 300 days of being in the HMR box, I was super excited to sample a bite of this delicious new vegetarian entree!

The spice level is great – not to overpowering for those who don’t like spicy foods but with enough flavor development for those who do. I could see amping it up more with some crushed chili flakes or a chili salt if I was on Decision Free. Or perhaps adding some broth and making it a curry soup with a tablespoon of fat free sour cream!

Because I am now in Healthy Solutions, I decided to amp up the volume of the meal (and the cuteness) by utilizing a vegetable in my preparation.

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Kabocha squash is an Asian varietal of winter squash. It’s green on the outside but orange like a pumpkin on the inside and has flavors reminiscent of pumpkin. It’s super easy to prepare too!

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash and scrub the outside of the squash and then puncture it with a knife or fork multiple times to allow steam to escape. Then place it in a roasting dish with a half in to inch of water and bake for 30 to 45 minutes until the squash is soft/tender when you apply pressure. Cooking times vary based on your oven but also the size of the squash.

I used a knife to carefully cut a “lid” out of the top and then scoped out the seeds (if the squash is fresh from the oven be careful to avoid escaping steam!). A perfect bowl! I sprinkled a little flake salt inside the bowl to season the squash a bit.

I microwaved the curry entree for the requisite minute and spooned it into the bowl. It was AWESOME and incredibly filling.

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HMR Decision Free Diet – Nine Month Review and Progress Pictures

I swore I wasn’t ever going to post progress pictures on my blog. When I first started writing about the HMR Diet, I wanted my experience to be anonymous. I just needed a place where I could explore what I was learning, thinking, and feeling. However I realize now that I can’t be anonymous at this point. Not because so many people I know read this blog now, but because it would be selfish of me.

When I started HMR, I craved success stories. I wanted to see progress pictures. Even now I buy magazines like People touting normal people losing weight because it inspires me and shows me we can all do it. So at the end of this post I will share my nine month pictures.

First, I want to explore my thoughts. I am officially down 122 pounds at nine months and one week. I have also begun my transition to Healthy Solutions (started last week at the nine month mark). When I started this program I gave myself one year to be on Decision Free. My mental framing that it would take this long kept me going — knowing there would be an eventual end. However a year seemed too long so I think the desire to transition earlier motivated me to stay in the box and to seize every fitness opportunity I could.

I have been in the box every day since starting the program. I have had a few emotional eating days but used meal replacements when other tools like journaling or exercise weren’t cutting it. I have had two or three weeks where I didn’t lose weight (also didn’t gain) and I missed two weeks of weigh ins for travel (one week in June and one a couple weeks later in July). I can say from experience that being away from class made it harder to stay on the program because those in person accountability points aren’t just to keep up in check but also have me leaving class feeling refreshed and motivated.

When I started this diet walking at 3.0 on the treadmill was fast and there were days where walking at 2.0 for 40 minutes while watching an episode of Scandal was a big workout. I swam laps but only a couple and very slowly.

This past Sunday, just a couple of days after my nine month anniversary, I ran my first half marathon since starting HMR. And by ran, I actually ran and killed my previous PR by over 50 minutes! Super proud of this picture because I feel like it captures how far I have come:

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Was it easy? Never. But did it become habit? Yes. When you reframe away from what you can’t have and focus on what you can, it makes it so much easier to manage Decision Free. When you focus on each day as becoming the best person you can be, the days pile up into making you an awesome person. When you seize every opportunity for fitness and give it everything you have rather than make excuses then you find yourself seeing physical results even when the scale moves slowly or not at all.

You can make excuses or you can make your move. I had ALL the injuries. Bad knees. Sciatica. Lower back pain. Asthma. I work 40+ hours during the week and 20+ weekends a year. I am traveling ALL the time. I am not wealthy. I don’t live alone. I spend time around temptation EVERY day. And I HAVE found success but it wasn’t handed to me. I had to fight for every single pound and while I have had people tell me I “make it look easy” — it hasn’t been. But nothing amazing is easy.

Now I am transitioning to Healthy Solutions and although I am loving the produce and I am trying to take it slowly, I won’t lie that I am also scared. I have confidence in myself but I am anxious and I can’t articulate why, other than I am constantly entering new territory and that keeps me on my toes.

I teach public speaking – it’s one of the biggest fears in America. Thus I understand having unexplained anxiety and trying to manage and overcome to the best of our abilities. I practice positive visualization (ordering a Healthy Solutions option at a restaurant when I inevitably go out) and I carry a touchstone to keep me grounded when I need to make a decision. I journal my food and exercise. I practice tricks like always keeping a zero calorie beverage in my hand in social settings. And I expel the rest of the nervousness through exercise. I will manage my anxiety like I will manage my weight. One day at a time with mindfulness and positive energy. And no excuses.

A rather lengthy post. And I feel like I have so much more to say. But tomorrow we meet up with our students for the first time this school year so I am off to bed. But as promised, here are my nine month progress pictures. I am proud of my hard work and continue to motivate myself every day to excel so that the work I have done is honored and not destroyed.

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HMR Creole Caps – A Healthy Solutions Recipe

 

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I kicked off my transition from HMR Decision Free to HMR Healthy Solutions on August 13th and have been busy crafting all sorts of new dishes incorporating veggies and fruits into my diet! Hoping to share many of them here, however I will also be back to posting at Uncovering Food with any recipes I create that don’t use HMR products. I am also starting a new tab off of the main page of Healthy Academic which will include Healthy Solutions friendly recipes from Uncovering Food to make it easier for anyone in need of something new to try but who don’t want to surf through recipes that are outside of the box!

Speaking of being outside of the box… If you are on Decision Free, you can filter to only get posts and recipes about Decision Free so you aren’t tempted with the produce posts by clicking on the tags to the right! I COMPLETELY understand the temptations that exist outside of the Decision Free bubble and hope that helps make life easier for you as I imagine it would have for me.

THIS was one of the first things I played with and it was SUPER filling and only added 40 additional calories (20 per portobello mushroom cap) to the Chicken Creole entree! The hot sauce soaks into the cap and the seasoning flavors the outside of the cap, contributing to the overall flavor of the dish.

Creole Caps

  • 1 HMR Chicken Creole entree
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps – cleaned off and stems removed
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle Cajun seasoning on the inside and outside of two portobello caps and then pour some Louisiana hot sauce inside the cap. Divide up a Creole Chicken entree between them and sprinkled on more Cajun seasoning.

Bake for 25 minutes.

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Mini Meatloaf Muffins – an HMR diet recipe to delight!

20140804-134317-49397140.jpgI have mentioned before that I love my HMR Core and On-Going classes. We share recipes and stories and I absolutely love the support we give each other. One of my classmates loves to play around with the HMR products and made an awesome meatloaf that she shared on her blog. I have also played with the chili and oatmeal to make burgers which I shared in December as well as submitted to the HMR Web site.

Over the summer I have been to a lot of cookouts and I wanted a way to enjoy BBQs while staying in the box on the Decision Free diet. So I took the meatloaf recipe and played around to create my own portable mini-meatloaf bites!

Mini Meatloaf Muffins

  • 2 HMR Turkey Chili Entrees
  • 2 HMR Oatmeals (I keep the fruit in the recipe for bites of sweet bbq sauce flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1.5 tsp Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie’s vegan version of the sauce)
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 4 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini muffin pan with cooking spray (you will want a pan that has 24 muffin wells).

Mix chili and oatmeal. Microwave for one minute. Add in remaining ingredients. Divide into the 24 mini-muffin wells. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (my oven took 27 but my convection toaster oven only took 25). You want the muffins firm but not burnt. They will be moist in the middle so be careful removing them from tin.

I made a dipping sauce of 1 tbsp no-sugar ketchup, 1/2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, and 1/2 tsp sriracha sauce. I also used mustard. Play around with your favorite sauces or try my classmate’s special sauce recipe included on her meatloaf blog post!

One half of this recipe is 12 mini-muffins and is one entree and one oatmeal for calculation purposes.


Tastes like pizza? Doctoring HMR Chicken Pasta Parm

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I love pizza. It was a major weakness pre-HMR because I could polish off a whole pizza without thinking. And while I miss pizza and am spending time during my HMR journey thinking about how I can approach this food in the future, I have been working to attempt the flavors while staying in the box.

I think I have done a pretty good job capturing the flavor profile (or I have been in the box too long!). I posted a picture above with the condiments I used but you can probably find different brands that are HMR friendly.

This entire dish revolves around the chicken pasta parm entree which already has the Italian theme going on. It has a tomato sauce with a cheesey taste, a carby component, and chicken. You can amp up the sauce with fresh or dried herbs if you want.

I add the cheese powder to amp up the cheese flavor. I add the bacon salt because it adds a mild smokey taste that reminds me of a pepperoni or bacon garnish. I also love heat and pile on the chili flakes on a real pizza so I add this and then add some drops of Sriracha which has a sweet and spicy taste that I think rounds out the pizza. If you hate spice then you can turn those down or leave them out but in addition to heat I also think these two additions help amp the tomato flavor.

I prepare the dish by microwaving the entree and then sprinkling the condiments on top. Then I get the layered flavor with each spoonful of the entree.

Did you enjoy pizza pre-HMR or some other favorite dish? Have you attempted to find that flavor profile and how did you do it?


Curried Mustard HMR Bean Cakes

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After spending months of eating cold HMR Five Bean Casserole at debate tournaments, I was determined to find a new way to enjoy it. I have been playing with this recipe for almost two months trying to find a balance of flavors and while these pack a flavorful punch, I am sure there are still ways to play with it even more. This is the entree of the month at my clinic and I am traveling a fair amount in July, so I will continue to tweak it and will add modification suggestions if any turn out. I have also frozen two batches for upcoming trips, so I will also post how it travels.

I have made these to enjoy at parties and on road trips. They are great warm and cold!

Curried Mustard HMR Bean Cakes

  • 1 HMR Five-Bean Casserole
  • 1 HMR Oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheet with a silpat/silicone baking mat lightly sprayed with cooking spray. I use a small baking ring to form my cakes and I also lightly spray the inside of the ring with cooking spray.

Mix all ingredients *except* the casserole in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 90 seconds. Add in casserole and mix well.

Spoon mixture into ring molds or make small mounds on your cooking sheet. If using ring mold, press down lightly to pack the mixture together before gently lifting the ring mold.

Bake for 25-35 minutes depending on your oven. You want the cake to be relatively firm. You do not need to flip over the cakes, however it is optional after 25 or 30 minutes depending on the thickness of the cake if you want it browned on both sides. The cakes pictured were not flipped over during the baking process.

This recipe made about 8 cakes. On my prescription it is a shake and an entree. Please remember this is a low-volume preparation for the shake, so drink lots of fluid to help with the volume/fullness!


HMR Diet: Spiced Rum Muffins Recipe

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As I have worked to increase my physical activity, I have found myself needing to fuel on-the-go. This combined with the travel demands of the job have left me playing with ways to increase the portability of the HMR shakes and cereals. This is one of my go-to recipes. It’s important to remember that these would be a low volume food — I make sure to have at least 8 ounces of water with each serving in order to help with the volume of the meal.

Spiced Rum Muffins

3 HMR Oatmeal packets

3 HMR 70 shakes – vanilla

1/4 cup DaVinci Sugar-Free Chai syrup

1/2 cup DaVinci Sugar-Free Butter Rum syrup

1 and 1/2 cups water

2 tsp baking power

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees. Use nonstick cooking spray quickly over mini muffin tins (I find the silicone mini muffin tins to be the easiest).

Begin by mixing the oatmeal, syrups and water in a large microwave safe bowl. Heat for two minutes. Stir and let cool for about five minutes. At this point the oatmeal will have cooked and soaked up much of the liquid but will still be warm. Add the shakes and baking powder by folding them in. The heat from the oatmeal will begin to activate the rising agents and over stirring will deflate the batter. You want those air bubbles being created in order to have fluffier muffins!

Gently spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on your oven calibration – you want a nice brown color on top and a slight firmness to the muffin when you gently touch the top. After removing the pan from the oven, you will want to work to release the muffins from the pan relatively soon after baking or you risk the temperature issues between the heat of the pan and the cool air above causing the muffins to collapse. I like to use a butter knife if I have trouble just popping them out and then I put them on a rack to cool.

After muffins have cooled, I divide the muffins into 9 equal servings. Depending on which pan I use, I either get three or four mini-muffins per serving. I am on HMR Decision Free 3/2 with the 180 shakes, so 1/9 of this recipe counts as half of a shake for me (1/9 of the recipe is like a half an oatmeal or one 70 shake calorically). I then put the servings into snack bags and put them in either the fridge or freezer depending on when I plan on consuming them.


Savory HMR Mustard Chicken

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Walking through Whole Foods today I was hit by a delicious smell. Suddenly I wanted whatever that delicious smell was. However, now that I am on the HMR Decision Free diet, that wasn’t an option. So instead I decided to dissect the smells and see if I could make an “In the Box” option.

I have no idea what the actual dish I smelled was but the underlying scents were vinegar and mustard. Thus, this dish was born!

Warning: if you don’t like vinegar or mustard, this probably isn’t your cup of tea.

Mustard Chicken and Rice

HMR Savory Chicken Entree
1 tbsp German mustard (or your favorite spicy mustard that meets HMR guidelines)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp capers, drained
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp smoked salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp flake salt

Heat savory chicken in microwave.

Whisk all other ingredients together.

Plate entree with rice on the bottom of the bowl topped with the mushrooms and carrots and finally the chicken. Pour sauce over chicken and enjoy.


Thai Steak & Potatoes – HMR Style!

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One of the women in my HMR classes have been making a version of this for months (you can find her version here) and I have been using her recipe as a base to create my own version. I make the sauce in single servings ahead of time and keep them in the fridge. You can toss an entree in the microwave and then add the sauce but if I have the time and patience, I like to throw the entree in a saucepan and cook it low and slow with the sauce for a deeper flavor.

I make this with the HMR Steak & Potatoes entree but I bet it would be good with a few others!

HMR Decision Free Thai Peanut Sauce

1 tbsp PB2

1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp powdered garlic

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

1/4 tsp imitation coconut extract

Whisk together and let sit for the flavors to meld.


60 Days on HMR

It has been 60 days since I last ate sushi. Sushi was my go-to food. It was my friend. My comfort. And let’s face it… it was really really good!

I won’t lie. I miss it like crazy. So much that I bought nori to try to make my own out of HMR entrees. Well, until I found out nori wasn’t in the box. So now the nori sits and waits.

Every time I crave sushi, I think about why. Do I miss the texture? The flavors? The feelings that I associate with sushi? I swear if I were ever to fall out of “the box” it would probably be into a sushi boat.

The truth is I miss everything. But I know it will be there for me when I meet my goal. And while I feel deprived now, I know I am learning so much more about myself. I know that I eat for comfort as well as nourishment. I eat for flavor and texture and not just because I am hungry.

And while 60 days may seem like a long time, it will be a lot longer before sushi and I can sit down and enjoy each other’s company. Until I not only get to a healthier weight but also have learned to control the yearning for nigiri and maki and sashimi, this reunion will not occur.


HMR Thai-Inspired Spicy Peanut Chicken

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My HMR Core class is full of awesome people who love to play in the kitchen. I look forward to our classes, but I also love the clinic time before when we have time to casually share how life is going, and even more exciting? What new creations people have made in the kitchen!

The following is inspired by my class and a couple of similar combinations that people have shared with me. I like to mix and match, so I didn’t combine the three components in the end, but you could just as easily toss it all in a bowl. This was perfect post-gym today and was my best take on this combination of flavors so I had to share!

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Thai-Inspired Peanut Chicken

  • HMR Savory Chicken Entree
  • 1 tbsp PB2 original
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili garlic sauce (use less if you want less heat!)
  • 1/2 tsp (or more!) powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp (or more!) powdered garlic

Heat a large frying pan on high heat. Spray lightly with canola cooking spray.

While pan is heating, it’s time to dissect the entree! Start by taking the chicken pieces out and chopping them into small pieces. Set aside. Then put the rice into the hot pan. Finally, take the gravy with the carrots and mushrooms and put in a small bowl.

The rice will take awhile to cook and due to the moisture levels in the rice, you will end up flipping it over like patties in order to get them brown and crispy. Don’t push down! You don’t want actual patties!

While the rice is cooking, add the remaining ingredients to the reserved gravy. Mash the carrot while mixing all of the sauce ingredients together to increase the creamy texture. I think it might be even better if you mix all of the other sauce ingredients in advance and store in the refrigerator. The flavors will meld and really develop.

When the rice is nearing finish (your desired crispiness – can take several minutes on each side and may require multiple flips), move rice to the outside of the pan to keep cooking. Add the chicken to the center (where the pan is the hottest) and allow chicken to brown, stirring occasionally. With the hot pan and the chicken already being cooked, this should only take a couple of minutes.

Finally, when the chicken has started to brown and the rice is ready, it’s time to plate and enjoy!


Am I Powerless?

Everything I have read and heard about addiction says that the first step is admitting you are powerless to your substance. Whether it be food or an illicit substance, you are supposed to admit and accept that you have no control and these substances control you.

I disagree.

You see, I am a food addict by every definition I can find. I love the way food makes me feel. It is a comforting blanket on a stressful day. It is a celebration when something exciting has happened. It keeps me from being bored and it entertains me when I cook. When I feel lost or when I feel found, food is there with me.

I don’t think I had this addiction my whole life. I don’t remember food always being the comfort it is today. I have spent a long time reflecting and trying to figure out where my relationship with food changed. It’s a worthy exercise if you are as overweight as I have become.

It started in high school. Between the stress of overcommitting myself to a bajillion activities to the insecurity of transferring midyear, I found comfort in comfort foods. There was nothing more comforting that a bowl of potatoes, microwaved until baked, and smothered in butter and cheese. When I felt lonely, cheese was there.

When I entered college, the comfort I had found became something I needed. I did not always have the best choice in significant others and the first guy I dated in college was a doozy. Without reliving the pain, let’s say that I quickly turned to food and the need for comfort lasted over two years. Looking back, I know all of the mistakes I made, but at the time the pain of the day was minimized by a two cheeseburger extra value meal.

After this extended period of bingeing to comfort, my relationship with food was secure and my weight battle was full-force. This is reflected when I lost a significant amount of weight early in my career, only to pile it back on in what seemed like the minutes after a family member was critically injured in a car accident.

I acknowledge now that I have a sordid relationship with food. I have an addiction to the way food makes me feel. And that addiction has significant power.

But I am not powerless.

Admitting you are powerless is a cop-out. It means you can never interact with the substance again because you cannot control it. And that would mean that I could never eat again… something that is actually impossible to do and survive.

However, I can reduce the number of decisions I have to make about food. Stepping away from our complex relationship in order to exam it and correct it. We will always have a relationship. However maybe our relationship could improve.

I am not powerless. Recognizing and acknowledging I am addicted to food and doing something to change this addition is the opposite of powerless. It takes strength and motivation. It takes desire and action.

I am not powerless. I am empowered.