Friday, March 22, 2019

Grab and Go Blueberry Bars

My Fitness Pal is a pretty good source of healthy recipes, so when a good friend of mine told me she was looking for some bar recipes to keep in her car for after work, My Fitness Pal was the first place I turned. These Grab-and-Go Blueberry Bars are a delightful tote-along snack.

Grab and Go Blueberry Bars: 144 calories per bar, 1/12 of an 8x8 pan

For the blueberry jam:

1 1/2 cups blueberries,10 cals per serv
1 1/2 Tbl chia seeds, 8 cals per serv
1 Tbl maple syrup, 5 cals per serv

For the bars:

1 cup oat flour, 41 calories per serv
1 cup old-fashioned oats, 12 cals per serv
2 tablespoons sugar, 8 calories per serv
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, 4 cals per serv
1/4 cup maple syrup, 17 cals per serv
1/4 cup melted coconut oil, 39 cals per serv

Lightly grease an 8x8 pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Cook the blueberries, chia seeds, and 1 Tbl maple syrup in a small pan on medium, smashing the berries with a potato masher as they heat. Stir and cook till mixture thickens. Set aside to cool.

Blend enough oats in a blender or Magic Bullet to make 1 cup of oat flour, or use a commercial oat flour.  Mix  oat flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Blend applesauce, remaining maple syrup, and coconut oil in a small bowl. Add to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside a heaping half cup of the mixture. Spread the remaining mixture in the prepared pan. Spread blueberry jam on top of oat mixture. Spread the remaining oat mixture on top of the blueberry mixture. Bake at 325° for 30 minutes or till the oats are golden brown. Cool completely before cutting. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Rice: A Random Tip

My excuse for not following a healthy eating plan while we lived on our boat was the difficulty in cooking separate meals for me and my husband. My husband is skinny and can eat pretty much anything he wants without gaining weight, and he detests all cooked vegetables, whole grains, etc. I, on the other hand, love cooked vegetables and all things whole grain.

It turns out, after following Noom's psychology lessons about why I overeat and choose the wrong foods and portions, that it was just that—an excuse. There is always a way to accomplish something if you want it bad enough.

So since we've returned to land and I have ton of time to do this, I've found that just some small preparation steps help to secure my success. One of these is pre-cooking rice. I like brown rice, and it's certainly better for you than white rice, but my husband only likes white. So every once in a while I cook up two pots, one brown, one white, and I measure out 1/2 cup servings of each onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Then I flash freeze it and dump them into a Ziploc. When we have rice with dinner, I just pop one in the microwave for a couple minutes on medium heat, and it's done. If I had to wait the 20-30 minutes for rice to cook, I'd be reaching for other, less healthy, alternatives. Score!

Palmini Pasta: A Review (Gluten Free)

Every once in awhile I happen on a good product and I like to pass along the info. I have several friends who are gluten intolerant, and since many GF products are full of starches and chemicals, when I happen on a GF product that is actually healthy, I usually take a look at.

I happened on this Palmini Pasta the other day and bought a can of it. Palmini is just Hearts of Palm in pasta shape. I like things that are clean one-ingredient products, so this intrigued me. After doing a bit of research, I found that there are tremendous health benefits to Hearts of Palm. SELF Nutrition Data has a really great breakdown of the nutrition content.

So I used mine as a base for marinara sauce into which I mixed peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and topped with parmesan cheese. Here is my take on it:

There is a lot of sodium in it because it's canned, so I rinsed it very well and soaked it in fresh water for a bit prior to heating it. This seemed to do the trick.

This stuff is great for soups and stews because it never turns to mush the way traditional pasta does when overcooked.

It has virtually no flavor to it, so it blends well with other flavors.

One can is two very decent servings or one huge one, 20 calories per cup (yes, you read that right.)

It's great for diabetics because it has a very low glycemic impact.

It doesn't provide the nutrients that whole wheat pasta does so it's important to be sure to compensate elsewhere.

I highly recommend Palmini whether you're gluten intolerant, diabetic, or just want a decent volume pasta dish once in a while. Enjoy!

The Emergency Box

One of the reasons that I've succeeded at the Noom weight-loss program is that I've had time to plan and prepare. I'm not working outside the home currently so I have an abundance of time to plan out my meals for the day first thing in the morning. But, occasionally, plans change and daughters need help with granddaughters, and a soccer game goes longer than expected...well you get the picture. So this leaves me hungry, and hungry without planning can lead to disaster when trying to lose weight. Enter stage left: The Emergency Box.

I found one of the many plastic leftover boxes that seem to leap out of my cupboard any time it's opened, and began to measure out chopped vegetables to a total of 50 calories. I keep this box filled at all times, front and center in the fridge, ready to grab. If I'm going out somewhere that there's even the remotest chance we'll be late for a meal, I tuck it into my bag. If I'm home, and I just get really hungry right before dinner, I grab it so I can happily crunch on veggie sticks instead of licking the spoon a hundred times while cooking. I know that I can eat the whole box, and the worst damage I'm going to do is 50 calories. Score!

Emergency Box: 50 calories

The photo above is today's Emergency Box. I put a fork next to it so you can guage the size of the box. It's a 2 cup box. I vary the veggies each day to include some of the following:

Carrot sticks
Celery sticks
Cucumber slices
Red, yellow, or orange pepper slices
Green pepper slices

Dessert Parfait

This recipe is a modification of my Breakfast Parfait to make it dessert-friendly. It makes a very satisfying 12oz glass and is definitely pretty enough for company! I used brand specific yogurt and oats, but any can be used as long as the calories match. Also, I use Earth Balance Organic Buttery Spread a lot of times in place of butter since it's plant based and less calories.

Dessert Parfait: 380 Calories

1 c Fage 0% Greek Yogurt, 130 calories
1/4 c Bob's Red Mill GF Old Fashioned Oats, 95 calories
1 tsp Earth Balance Organic Buttery Spread, 26 calories
3/4 c fresh raspberries, 49 calories
1 Tbl Enjoy Life Semi-sweet chocolate mini chips, 80 calories

Melt butter/spread in small skillet. Add oats and toast on medium-low until golden and fragrant. Add chocolate chips and stir till blended. Add just enough water to fully blend the chocolate and cause the oats to clump together like granola, about 1 Tbl or less.

Put 1/4 of the yogurt in the bottom of the glass. Add 1/4 of the raspberries and 1/4 of the granola. Place 1/2 of the remaining yogurt in the glass and 1/2 of the remaining raspberries and granola layered on top. Repeat with the other half.

Stir-fried Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

I love Brussels sprouts but my husband does not. So when I found a very quick and easy way to prepare them just for me, I jumped on it. This recipe is a conglomeration of a whole lot of recipes I found online, taylored for my taste and the Noom program.

Stir-fried Brussels Sprouts and Bacon: 342 Calories

134 g of shredded Brussels sprouts, 58 calories
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 c of sliced or chopped onion, 24 calories
1 clove garlic, minced, 4 calories
2 slices of bacon, cooked till crisp and crumbled,
108 calories
1/2 c cooked brown rice, 108 calories
Salt, pepper
Smoked paprika

Shred the Brussels sprouts with a mandolin or slice very thinly with a sharp knife. Set aside.  Put olive oil into medium-hot skillet and add onion. Stir till crisp-tender, just a few minutes. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds till fragrant. Add Brussels sprouts and stir just till crisp-tender, about 3 or 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Season with smoked paprika. The smoked paprika is essential to the taste of this dish. Regular paprika will not do it. Add crumbled bacon and serve with brown rice.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Noom-Friendly Restaurants: MOD Pizza

I know, I know...the last thing you want to hear about when you're trying to lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle is pizza. But I'm on a mission to find good places to go out to eat and still stay on track. If you're going out with friends and you need a Noom-friendly place to go, MOD pizza is it. One of the best things about MOD Pizza is your ability to control the ingredients and the quantities. Their menu lists each ingredient in 1/4 cup amounts, a great quantity to judge servings by.

You can start with their basic salad and add toppings, or you can start with greens alone and work your way up to whatever calories you want to spend on the meal.

Their simple salad has greens, roasted red peppers and Asiago cheese for a calorie total of  130, 190, or 370 depending on the size you choose. As a point of reference, the 370 calorie one is a family share size. This does not include dressing.

If you choose to start with just lettuce, you could fill the whole biggest bowl for less than 50 calories.

After you choose your base, you can move on to the list of toppings.


cal per ¼ c
  • artichokes30
  • arugula0
  • basil – fresh chopped0
  • black olives50
  • broccoli – roasted15
  • cilantro0
  • corn – roasted45
  • croutons60
  • garlic – chopped (per tbsp)15
  • garlic – roasted60
  • greek olives70
  • green bell peppers5
  • jalapenos5
  • mama lil's sweet hot peppas50
  • mushrooms0
  • oregano (per tsp)0
  • pineapple40
  • red onion10
  • red peppers – roasted15
  • romaine0
  • rosemary – fresh chopped10
  • sea salt (per tsp)0
  • sea salt & pepper (per tsp)0
  • spinach0
  • spring mix5
  • tomatoes – sliced (5)20
  • tomatoes – diced10
You could build yourself a very nice, very large salad for well within the Noom meal parameters. And if you're really craving that pizza, you can have a 6" pepperoni pizza for 355 calories.

Here's the nutritional info for all their menu items:

MOD Pizza Nutrition Information

And here's the link to their full menu:

MOD Pizza Full Menu