Weighty Matters

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Recipe Calculations

As I anticipated, I woke up this morning with too much chest congestion to go to Zumba class.  😦  I slept in a little, had breakfast, caught up on a few things and, eventually, went out to do a few errands.  Since Monday, when I was disappointed by the Portugese kale soup I had up on Cape Cod, I’ve had the proverbial bee in my bonnet to make kale soup on my own.  I’ve had some potential ingredients rolling around in my head so I decided not to search for recipes on line.  Instead, I decided to wing it and see if I could invent something tasty and nutritious all on my own.

I already had the kale that I bought at the farm market yesterday and a couple of containers of low sodium vegetable broth here at home.  At the supermarket I picked up a large onion, a large rutabaga, some fresh thyme and some chorizo.  I partially cooked the cubed rutabaga and then added it to the pot in which I was lightly sautéing the chopped onions. I sliced the chorizo into half circles and then let it cook in with the veggies which gave everything more flavor and some color.  After rinsing and patting dry the kale, I tore the leafy goodness off of the ribs and gave it a rough chop before adding it to the pot along with the broth and a couple of cans of drained/rinsed cannellini beans.  I tied up two bundles of thyme, stirred them in along with some black pepper and brought the whole concoction up to a full boil.  After a good stirring, I reduced the soup to simmer for 90 minutes while I went out and cleaned the pool.

When I came back in, the house smelled terrific.  There is something special about a house infused with warmth and the aroma of a pot of deliciousness simmering on a stove.  I am delighted to say that I guessed right on the ingredients.  The slight smoky heat of the chorizo married well with the slight sweetness of the onions and rutabaga.  The thyme provided another layer of flavor that sparked up the kale and beans.  All in all, I give the flavor of my creation two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Taste is one thing, but I wondered about the nutritional value of my new soup.  I went online and found a site that calculates the nutritional numbers for recipes if you enter the ingredients.  According to that site, here’s the breakdown for my Kale & Rutabaga Concoction, based on a one cup serving size.  (Although I rarely eat an entire cup.):

Calories-210; Total fat-4.7g; Saturated fat-1.7g; Cholesterol-9.4mg; Sodium 631.1 mg; Potassium 83.9 mg; Total carbs 31.6g; Dietary fiber 7.4g; Sugars-4.5g; Protein 11.6g.

In the grand scheme of things, this soup fit in great with my total daily numbers.  Although I’d love to reduce the sodium even more, I don’t get much sodium in other foods, so I’m okay for the day.  The fiber from the beans helps to reduce the impact of the carbs and I’m really happy about the protein grams.

Isn’t it cool that there are ways to calculate the values of recipes that we create?  The internet is such a terrific resource for helpful information.  I’m half tempted to revisit the site and type in the ingredients for my famous brownies.  Then again, maybe I don’t really want to know the truth about those particular treats. 😉  For right now, I’ll be happy to have the number for my soup.  I’ve already entered it as a food in MyFitnessPal so that I can call it up easily any time I serve some up.  The overall recipe made a lot.  I have a container in the fridge that will feed me at least three more times as well as three additional containers in the freezer for coming months.

In other news, as the day went on I felt better and less congested.  I started getting antsy from lack of exercise.  Even though cleaning the pool took some energy, after drying off a bit and testing the soup, I figured I’d give that 7 Minute Workout a try.  I love the app I found for my phone.  It not only provides the timing for the 30 second exercise periods and 10 second rest intervals, but it also gives the user a head’s up on which exercise comes up next.

In the interest of honest disclosure, I cannot perfectly do all of the exercises on this workout.  I sort of suck right now at jumping jacks.  I need to do the slightly easier versions of the pushups and planking.  Frankly, I can’t correctly do the side plank either.  However, I gave everything my best shot for the full 30 seconds and I improvised on the exercises that gave me trouble and made them as challenging as I could.  When I was done the 7 minutes, believe me, my heart rate was up and my body knew that it had worked.  I think it provided a good pop of intensity and exercise to the day.

Coincidentally, I had the Dr. Oz show on this afternoon.  One of his guests was Chris Powell, the trainer from Extreme Weight Loss.  They were tackling the problem of people who are doing their best to diet but who aren’t seeing the results.  Chris pointed out how many people think that they’re eating less than they are in reality.  He provided the basic calculation for the basal metabolism rate.  (Your current weight X 12 = Number of calories you burn just in living every day.)  He also offered great suggestions on how to cut back, how to use your hand to estimate the right serving sizes of protein, veggies, carbs and fat, and explained something to the audience that I blogged about a while back.  Keep the snacks at 100 calories and measure them out into small bags or containers so that you plan, have what you need available, and know that you’re not eating too much.

He and Dr. Oz also demonstrated a five minute exercise boost that mixed low intensity with high intensity in 30 second intervals.  Basic steps that you can do anywhere.  I can’t see that the five minutes burn too many calories, but it was further evidence that it can be helpful to incorporate these short periods of exercise into our busy days.   They add up!

All in all, I’m feeling good about getting myself back on track.   There are roughly 19 weeks left in the year.  My goal is to be down another 20 pounds by the end of 2013.

Putting everything into the mix, I’m confident that I can do this, based on my calculations.

Anyone else have a goal they’d like to share?

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Achoo

Quick.  Anyone have low carb crackers and cheese to go with my whine?  I developed a cold while away on my trip.  Now I’m home to finish out with a little staycation but I feel like crap on a half shell.  Every hour or so I experience a sneezing fit.  I’m concerned that by tomorrow it will have moved from my nose into my chest and the congestion will clog my breathing somewhat which will make it damned difficult to do Zumba as planned.

Yes, I believe I just poured another glass of whine.

Oh well.  It could be worse.  At least I had a really good time while away and, when I’m sick, I don’t have as much of an appetite.  On the drive home this morning, I stopped at a famous fruit/vegetable market and picked up some yummy produce.  In addition to strawberries and pineapple, I picked up a mamey sapote, Asian dragonfruit, and something called a black sapote which I’ve never had.  I have to wait for it to develop before I can taste it but I promise to report back after sampling it for the first time.  The kale was fresh and bright so I bought two bunches.  They also have an incredible selection of Florida-harvested honey in different varieties with a tasting bar.  After much deliberation, I chose the Tupelo honey to bring home.

This place makes fruit shakes and smoothies too, so I treated myself to an absolutely scrumptious strawberry-banana-dragon fruit smoothie for the ride home.   This drink was a bright, lovely magenta color from the dragon fruit.  Ever hear the expression that we eat with our eyes?  Well, I love love love that color, so maybe it tasted extra yummy.

Now I have fruit for smoothies and to make a platter for our extended Tai Chi class on Saturday morning.  (Surely I’ll have stopped sneezing by then!)  I am also determined to make a kale soup this weekend.  While up on the Cape earlier this week, we all went out to a beachside seafood shack.  I ordered the Portuguese kale soup. While the flavor was good, the soup lacked oomph.  For one thing, there wasn’t as much kale in it as I expected and it was heavier on the broth than it was on other filling ingredients.   I’ve decided that, surely I can do better.  I’m thinking something with white beans, parsnip or rutabaga, onion and plenty of kale in a vegetable stock, perhaps with some diced tomatoes.  Sometimes I like to wing my recipes.  Other times I’ll research at Epicurious.com or Foodnetwork.com.  If  find a recipe that really rings my bell, I’ll use it but I often use one as a starting point and go from there.  We’ll see.

I’m totally focused on eating healthy and on plan now that I’m home.  It isn’t that I ate unhealthily while away, except for the overabundance of carbs, but I feel like I’m rejuvenating.  I have a goal to absolutely lose a minimum of a pound a week and shoot for more.  I might have to wait a couple of days to get over the cold before I can jump on the increased intensity of my exercise efforts, but I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

I’m giving up on the home Pilates machine.  I’ve tried it and it just isn’t for me.  I posted an announcement on Facebook today offering it at a reduced price to any of my local friends.  If I don’t get any takers, I’ll ask one of the guys I know if he’ll list it for me on Craigslist.  (I’m leery of doing it myself and then having to set up potential meetings with strangers.)

In the meantime, while away, a friend told us about the 7 Minute Workout that was written up in the NY Times.  It includes 12 exercises, each of which you do for 30 seconds with 10 second breaks in between.   I walked in when two friends and my sister-in-law were in the middle of it so I didn’t do it, but four of the exercises are the ones I’ve been doing from that “Four Essential Exercises” article that I read.  The beauty of this 7 Minute deal is that the only equipment you need other than your body is a chair and a wall.  I don’t need a lot of extra room either.  I’m not sure about the jumping jacks.  I haven’t been able to do them great at Zumba, but I’ll give them my best shot for 30 seconds.  As far as the step up onto a chair, I might need to start with a footstool instead and work my way up.  Whatever the case, I am more determined than I am discouraged.

I even found a free app for it for my phone and a short time ago, found a website that offers a timer so that I don’t need to keep resetting the timer on my phone.  Honestly, the tools are all available to make this as easy as possible.  All I need to do is supply the body, the coordination, and the actual willingness!

This makes a few things that I need to try and report back to you on.  Stay tuned!

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