Traveling through life with a timer and sneakers

Posts tagged “HMR Healthy Solutions Diet

Disneyland and HMR Healthy Solutions

In 2014 I traveled to Disney world and wrote about staying in my Decision Free Box. Well this weekend I was chaperoning our Senior Trip in Southern California and I wanted to share my day at Disneyland because I wanted to record how I stayed in the HMR Program box while in the “Happiest Place on Earth (with the most delicious smells!)”

I started my morning at the hotel with two big cups of fresh cup fruit and a mug of plain black coffee. The goal today was to eat supportive foods whenever I felt hungry, so I also grabbed a banana and an apple and two cups of grapes to throw in my bag. I was carrying all of my supplies in a super light collapsible pack that prevented me from feeling weighed down or burdened by bringing my own food. In addition to my hotel fruit, I had also brought:

It was a lengthy drive to Disneyland from the city we were staying in, so I enjoyed a chocolate shake and a packet of cookies during the commute.

Once through all the shuttles and security, we started out at California Adventure. I skipped the Soaring ride (I get a little extra queasy on it) and enjoyed my chili and the banana. This helped keep me full since I had been up for quite a few hours at this point in the morning and I could eat the entree without feeling watchful eyes of coworkers, most of whom did not know about HMR.

A little bit later in the morning while my friends enjoyed soft serves and root beer floats, I ordered a Diet Coke and poured it into my shaker bottle. I added a vanilla shake and had my own Diet Coke Float! (Note I shake in the Blender Bottle carefully but then slowly unscrew the lid to release the carbonation rather than pop open the top which causes liquids to fly!).

After traversing California Adventure including riding Guardians of the Galaxy (oofta that one shook me up!), we went over to the Magic Kingdom to grab a Fast Pass for Space Mountain and to have lunch. My friends grabbed pizza in Tomorrowland while I grabbed a plain side salad. I topped it with my Walden Farms dressing and donated the high-calorie dressing to my friends to dip their breadsticks in. Once I finished my salad, I ate my two cups of grapes. I don’t eat a lot of grapes because of the sugar content (they are really sweet to me) but there is something to be said for keeping your hands busy with those little buggers. I also enjoyed sipping on a diet lemonade.

Then we were off to the Matterhorn and then on to Adventureland. At this point in the day it was getting quite warm. I grabbed some fresh mango after we rode the Jungle Cruise to enjoy while in line for Haunted Mansion. It was delicious topped with some Tajin. The line was about an hour, so I finished off my second serving of cookies as well.

After the Haunted Mansion, my friends wanted to get Dole Whip. I wasn’t super hungry but I did feel tempted as it was close to when I would normally eat dinner (but we still had many hours left in the park)… so I ordered a fresh pineapple spear. At this point I was quite full.

Some shows, some more rides, and then we had just an hour left before we left to go back to our hotel. There was a pizza party when we got back to the hotel and some of my coworkers wanted to get a real meal instead of the pizza. So we left the park in search of food. I enjoyed a massive spicy fruit salad at a restaurant in Downtown Disney as well as my 5 Bean entree.

On the bus ride home, shortly before heading into the pizza party, I ended my day of dining with my chocolate Benefit Bar. This special treat left a sweet chocolate taste in my mouth and was the perfect topper to keep me full while in a room full of one of my favorite foods.

I didn’t end up going to bed until about midnight, so it was an incredibly long day. However I stayed in the box (and walked almost 22,000 steps!) which helped keep me motivated to stay in the box during the remainder of the trip.

Have you been to a theme park while in Phase One? Would love to hear how you stayed in the box during your visit!


Healthy Solutions Spaghetti and Fried Ravioli

This recipe can be made with or without the ravioli entree, but after a heavy activity day  it’s super filling and the ravioli feels like a special treat! You can also just make the spaghetti and top it with an entree to save time. I will sometimes batch cook the spaghetti and portion it out to use over the course of a week – sometimes making it with the ravioli, sometimes eating alone, and sometimes topping with another HMR entree like the penne or lasagna.

NOTE: There is no salt/sodium in the spaghetti without the HMR entree sauce added, so if you are having it by itself, you may want to add some salt to amp up the flavor.

Fried Ravioli

  • HMR Ravioli Entree

You will need an air-fryer for this part of the recipe. You could also bake the ravioli or pan fry it if you want. It’s relatively simple! Just scrape the sauce off the ravioli (save it for the spaghetti) and place the ravioli in a single layer in the air-fryer. Cook for 10 minutes at 390 degrees, flipping over once during the cooking process.

Healthy Solutions Spaghetti

Heat a large frying pan to medium-high heat. You may want to use a quick spritz of cooking spray depending on the pan you have chosen (you can also just occasionally sprinkle water as you cook to keep things from sticking).

Cook the onions for several minutes in the hot pan, stirring frequently, until the onions start to soften and start to become translucent. Add the spaghetti squash and Penzey’s spices. Stir to combine and cook for another two minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to combine, cook for one more minute. Finally, add the sauce from the raviolis and stir, cooking for approximately one more minute.

Enjoy the spaghetti with the raviolis on top or on the side. You end up with 4 cups of vegetables and an entree as your incredibly filling meal.


HMR Healthy Solutions Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Bars

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A couple of weeks ago I went camping and trail running – all while staying in the HMR Program Healthy Solutions Box. However I had to plan ahead and prepare foods that would be supportive of both the HMR program, but also of the endurance activities I would be participating in. With no way to heat up my normal oatmeal in the morning, I got creative!

These bars are a higher calorie food that are relatively compact in nature. While I wouldn’t make them every day, it was a method of combining foods I use to fuel before long runs in a portable manner. My normal oatmeal with a tbsp of PB2 and a side of banana would have been much higher in volume, and I honestly wouldn’t have had the shake because I would have already been full. However this worked for me for fueling for the trail half and also gave me some additional snacks to enjoy during the weekend when other people were recovering with bagels and beer.

HMR Healthy Solutions Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana Bars

  • 1 HMR Oatmeal
  • 1 HMR 70 Chocolate Shake
  • 1 tbsp PB2
  • 1 tbsp Fat-Free Sugar-Free Banana Pudding Mix
  • 1 small ripe banana
  • 4 ounces water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mash the banana in a mixing bowl and add the dry ingredients to it. Slowly add the water in until you get a cookie dough consistency (you may not need all of the water depending on the size and ripeness of the banana – both of which will impact overall moisture of the batter).

Scoop out dough on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat. I shaped the dough like bars, but you could easily just put scoops out and end up with cookies.

Bake for 15-20 minutes (will depend on your oven calibration and moisture content of your dough) until your bars are baked through. They may still be slightly soft on the underside, but I found flipping them on to a paper towel will allow them to cool while the steam escapes. Leaving them on the hot pan could cause textural issues as the steam tries to escape and is trapped.

One recipe made 4 bars. I doubled the batch for the weekend I went camping and it was plenty for fueling and recovery (it was super delicious to pair a bar with a shaken HMR chocolate shake over ice post-run).


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:

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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!


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!


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.

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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!

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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.

Cauliflower Tortilla – a #HealthySolutions experiment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HMR Healthy Solutions Cauliflower Tortilla/Wrap

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

Making HMR Cauliflower Tortillas


HMR Healthy Solutions Shepherd’s Pie

One of the lessons I learned in my weight loss journey has been the bigger you cast your support net, the easier it is to stick with a weight loss program. From my original Core class starting our own Facebook group to finding fellow health-seekers to follow on networks like Instagram, from having conversations with friends and loved ones about what is supportive for me to seeking out like-minded individuals in my community, I have cast a very large net. I am also in a number of social media groups where I also find support and inspiration. And today’s recipe came from such a group – where a photo of a shepherd’s pie inspired me to play.

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The concept itself is very simple. Mash some cauliflower and spread it over an HMR Lentil entree and bake. I played around with it a bit and would encourage you to do the same. I’ll include a list of ingredients I used at the end, but you should have fun with it and try different profiles. And if you really hate the lentils, I bet this would also be awesome with the chili entree!

For starters, I don’t fancy the lentil entree plain. So I added some salt, pepper, Penzeys Bavarian spice blend, and a dash of red pepper flakes. Mixed in two lentil entrees and spread evenly along the bottom of a silicon pie pan.

Then I steamed a bag of frozen cauliflower. There were five cups of cauliflower in the bag. After it was reasonably soft (about 5 minutes in the microwave), I drained the cauliflower and put it in the food processor. I added HMR-approved butter seasoning, smoked paprika, and Penzeys roasted garlic. Then turned on the food processor. I added fat-free vegetarian broth to help make it a thick but creamier consistency (you only need a couple of tablespoons – I recommend adding only one tablespoon at a time to avoid making it runny!).

I put the creamed cauliflower in a pastry piping bag. Because I felt like it and for no other reason. But it did allow me to make a fun spiral design and create a consistent layer relatively easily. You could also just spoon and spread the cauliflower on top.

Bake for 20 or so minutes until the cauliflower has started to brown and has a light crust. You could continue baking, or broil to brown the top more to increase the texture variables.

I let my pie rest overnight in the refrigerator, which made for easy portioning in the morning. Half of the pie is an entree and 2.5 cups of vegetables (and very filling!) but you could portion it into quarters or have the whole pie if you wanted!

Ingredients I used: 2 HMR Lentil entrees, 1 5-cup bag of frozen cauliflower, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, Penzeys Bavarian seasoning, Penzeys roasted garlic, smoked paprika, Molly McButter, one vegetarian bouillon cube made into broth


HMR Healthy Solutions: Butternut Squash Beef Stroganoff

After my first Core class last week, I went to Sprouts to stock up on vegetables and fruits to bulk up my meals. It was going to be a stressful couple of days and I knew I didn’t have time to prep a lot of ingredients, so I went in search of pre-cut produce to save some time. And I discovered spiralized butternut squash!

Now I have a spiralizer at home but I’ve never thought to use it on butternut squash! So I had to pick up a package to try as I was struck by inspiration.

I’ve made the following recipe a few times this week. I like the texture of the squash to be a little crunchy, so cook longer if you want softer noodles.

Also, if you are extra hungry, you can double everything but the entree for extra bulk and minimal calories (I’ve done both!).

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Butternut Squash Beef Stroganoff

  • HMR Beef Stroganoff Entree
  • 1 cup butternut squash noodles
  • 2 tbsp chopped onions
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (depending on how strong you want it)
  • 1/2 tbsp FF sour cream
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat sauté pan to medium high and cook chopped onions using either a spritz of cooking spray or water for 1-2 minutes until they start to soften. Add noodles, paprika, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes. You will want to add a little water to keep things from sticking (I keep a little bowl with a tablespoon in it nearby while cooking to add as needed without adding too much).

Add Beef Stroganoff entree and mix well. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and fold in sour cream. Serve and enjoy!


Creamy HMR Penne Pasta Bake

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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.

Enjoy!

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Spicy HMR Lentil Soup

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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

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!


Peanut Butter Cookie Shake – An #HMRDiet-friendly recipe

Girl Scout cookie sales are in full swing – and I refuse to buy a box of those little scale-busters. Instead, with the sun shining again in California, I thought I’d try out my Torani Sugar-Free Belgian Cookie syrup out in a cold shake. The result was a peanut butter cookie shake that was quick to go into my blended shake rotation!

Peanut Butter Cookie Shake

  • 8-10 ice cubes
  • 2 ounces SF Torani Belgian Cookie syrup (I bought it on sale at Cost Plus World Market but you can also find it online and possibly at a store near you!)
  • 10 ounces cold water
  • 1 Vanilla HMR Program Shake (I used the 120 for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp PB2

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Drink and enjoy the cookie flavor in a filling shake without the density of a tiny little calorie-bomb of a cookie!


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.


HMR Healthy Solutions Pineapple Mint Magic!

I am loving returning home from a workout and throwing together a giant blended shake! And adding in frozen cauliflower and a blend of other ingredients helps bulk it up and make it more filling.

To make it easier, I do mass prep. I happened to have color sandwich bad and have measured out a cup of frozen cauliflower plus whatever other produce/herbs I use. Now I can grab a color coded bag, add water and shake mix and blend! No thinking required!

the door of my freezer!

This blend reminds me of Hawaii for no reason other than the pineapple. The amount of mint will vary based on your tastebuds.

  • One cup frozen cauliflower
  • One cup frozen pineapple
  • 4 to 8 mint leaves
  • HMR Vanilla Shake (I use the 800)
  • 1 to 3 cups of water depending on desired consistency (I usually use two)

The first three ingredients can be packed together in a freezer bag until ready. Put all ingredients in blender until smooth. Enjoy!