Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Archive for October 2012

As I’ve already said, we got hit by Hurricane Sandy.  Fortunately, I live one block into Zone B, so we didn’t have to evacuate.  On Monday night, however, the tree in front of the house got uprooted, and took three light posts, with power lines attached, down with it:

The house with the tree branches obscuring it is the house across the street…fortunately, being late at night when it came down, no one was hurt.  Even more of a miracle, there wasn’t a car in front of the house (parking spots around here are generally hard to find).  Also fortunate, although the power lines went down, very few of them actually snapped, so I have had light and power, with just a few flickers.  Until last night, that is.

I was working on a post for the knitting blog when the power went down at around 9:05 pm.  Using the roomie’s landline, I made a few calls to let people know what had happened.  The first of those calls was to my ex, who lives about 20 minutes away in Flatbush.  He had been trying to call me to tell me that his power had gone down again, but T-Mobile went down for a bit at the same time as the power, so he couldn’t call me (I have a cell phone, and VOIP, neither of which were working).  We got power back shortly after midnight, and it turned out that Con Edison had shut down electricity in Homecrest, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, and a huge chunk of Flatbush because a transformer had blown, and they wanted to fix it, while preventing further outages from system overloads.

Not knowing this at the time, the roomie and I sat for a few minutes, and discussed what we had in the pantry that we could use, so that we didn’t have to open the doors of the refrigerator or the freezer, so we could keep the stuff inside them as cold as possible.

Of course, keeping the fridge door closed was probably the best way to stay on program for me.  Seriously.  There wasn’t much we could do, during the blackout, though, so I took a much needed nap.

I won’t say it’s been an easy few days, though.  It hasn’t.  Like most people, I have been raised with food as a major comfort mechanism.  (In fact, I think I noted last entry that one of the things I cooked was a large pot of my favorite childhood comfort food – my mother’s split pea soup.)  I have been using my weekly points — something I usually don’t do, preferring to save them for dinners out or for special occasions.

I am not sure if I will gain or lose this week, and frankly, I’m not worried about it.  I am doing my best to not go off course, but — honestly — there are a lot more important things to deal with this week.  The roomie and I are trying to make sure all our financial stuff for the month is in order — no easy task when her credit union’s main office is in lower Manhattan, and my credit union’s main office is out on Long Island.  I have been mostly sticking to program, and am very glad that I’ve been able to keep using eTools to track my food.

As for emotions — I think I’ve experienced them all over the last few days.  And, for the most part, I’ve just sat and experienced them, rather than shoving them down with food.

I’ve also kept busy.  I’ve done some writing, some knitting, a lot of chatting with friends online and making sure that folks I know in real life were safe and out of dangerous areas.    I even got a short walk (around the block) in on Tuesday morning.

I only have one question today:  What do you do to “keep the fridge door closed” during a time of major stress?

See everyone Friday, Lord willing and the water don’t rise again!


Like many others on the East Coast, we are in the throes of Hurricane Sandy.  At least the highway is a berm between my place and the water, but it’s still being pretty bad up here in NYC.  The big story here in the five boroughs right now is that, over in Manhattan, there is a 90-story building being constructed, over on 57th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.  Unfortunately, there is a crane at the top of the building.  The crane has partially collapsed, and the “arm” is hanging straight down.  Police have blocked off the area, and are evacuating the nearby buildings, because there is no way they can secure the crane, and they are afraid it will actually fall.  Con Edison is also talking about shutting down power in some sections of Manhattan and Brooklyn if the tides overtop the seawalls, which would pose greater dangers (like downed power lines electrifying flood waters in some areas) if the electricity is left on.

Since I can’t go out in this, I did some cooking.  A friend from Weight Watchers, Maddy, had given me a recipe to try for a fruit pie:

“Peel & dice two good size apples.  Add frozen or fresh strawberries and blueberries and any other fruits you choose.  You can use canned and drained fruit diced as well.  Mix with a capful of vanilla , cinnamon and sugar free sweetener to taste.  Add sugar free maple syrup – not too much.   Put the mixture in a frozen pie crust that you bake @ 350 degrees  until crust is done.  Refrigerate for the next days dinner.  The fruit mixture forms sort of a jell in the fridge so it will not fall apart.    The only points are for the crust since the fruit has no point value. It runs 2-3 points per slice.”

I used two apples, a can of pears in juice rather than syrup (drained & rinsed), 2 Tbsp of Splenda , 1 Tbsp sugar-free vanilla syrup instead of vanilla extract, and 2 Tbsp sugar-free caramel syrup instead of maple syrup.  Sprinkled with 1 Tbsp cinnamon & 1 Tbsp nutmeg, and baked it for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and refrigerated it overnight.  Ran it through eTools recipe builder and got a Points Plus value of 2 for 1/8 of the pie.

And I managed to make a reasonable version of my mother’s split pea soup today:

I took a 1.14 lb. package of cubed chuck steak, a 1 lb. bag of La Cena Green Split Peas, 1 medium potato (cut into chunks), 10 cups of water, 12 baby carrots, and a medium onion (roughly diced), and tossed them all into my soup pot. I then added 2 Tbsp of Goya Recaito, 2 Tbsp of minced garlic, 2 tsp of salt, and 1 tsp of black pepper.  Brought the whole thing to a boil, then simmered for 1 3/4 hours.  This made 15 cups of soup, with a Points Plus value of 5 per cup.  Froze six cups, fridged six cups, the roomie had one cup, and I had two cups.  Great comfort food for a rotten day, and kept me just busy enough that I wasn’t worrying.

Also got some knitting done, but that will be for the knitting blog tomorrow.

No questions today, just a wish for everyone to be safe and well, most especially those in the path of the hurricane.



Not the greatest report this week, although there was some really good news along the way.

I gained 1.2 lbs this week, mostly due to the stupid physical problem the surgeon caused in 2008.  I’m not too worried about this, because I know what it is, and that it’s the one part of this process that I have no physical control over.  It does cause me to have bumps in the road of anywhere from one to five pounds, but those bumps usually get resolved fairly quickly, so they are not worth worrying about.  The thing I hate about these flare ups, though, is just that:  that I have no control over this one thing, and that it feels a lot like my body is betraying me when it does happen.

Be that as it may, there is another part to this week’s issue:  I had some kind of bug, so I did almost no walking at all:

  • 10/19:  2,344 steps
  • 10/20:  289 steps
  • 10/21:  717 steps
  • 10/22:  0 steps
  • 10/23:  9 steps
  • 10/24:  0 steps
  • 10/25:  5 steps

However, there is some very good news involved:  I can now walk up to six blocks without my cane — at my normal rate, if the neuropathy doesn’t kick in while walking; more slowly if it does kick in, because I have to be very careful to not walk out of a shoe I can’t feel, and how I place the affected foot on the ground.  Still, I was afraid I would end up cane-bound or worse, so this is significant progress for me.

Food wise, I found a great dessert:  Hungry Girl’s Red Hot Apple Pie in a Mug.  Since I couldn’t find any red hots (she uses them in her recipe), I made a significant variation, but the base is still hers.

Herewith, my variation:

In a microwave -safe mug, put one diced up apple (and dicing the apple is the hardest part of this recipe), either 2 tbsp of cooking Splenda or 2 tbsp of sugar-free syrup (my favorites for this purpose are the sugar-free DaVinci syrups – notably the spice and the caramel flavors).  Crumble one 4-part graham cracker over the apples and syrup.  Microwave for one  or two minutes.  Top with a bit of fat-free whipped cream, and enjoy.  For the one portion, it’s a Points Plus value of 4.

Today at the meeting, we sort of half tossed the standard agenda to discuss planning and readiness for emergencies.

You see, most of the members of our meeting live either in Brooklyn, or on Long Island, both of which are in the path of the upcoming Hurricane Sandy.  So, we discussed what to have on hand to keep from letting the anxiety (and the possible power outages and flooding ), from derailing us.

We also discussed doing something new for just 10 minutes a day, which is a great plan, and how sometimes it’s our own “I can’t” that holds us back from learning a new skill.

The third thing we discussed was the difference between looking at what we are doing as a diet, and looking at it as a plan or a lifestyle.  Diana noted that looking at it as a diet encourages people to think of it as something you do until you reach goal, whereupon you stop doing it, while looking at it as a plan or a lifestyle encourages you to keep going and acquiring the skills to keep the weight off once you have lost it.

The fourth thing we discussed was a handout with some Asian recipes:  So Low Mein, Fully-Loaded Egg Rolls, and Sweet & Sticky Sesame Chicken.  All three recipes are from Hungry Girl, so I didn’t take the handout, since I have all her cookbooks at home, and know how to find recipes on her website.

Today’s questions are:

  • Are you prepared for emergencies that might leave you without power, gas, or other resources?
  • What foods do you keep on hand for such situations?
  • What methods do you use to keep from getting derailed when you have a bad week?
  • Do you think of your weight loss method as a “diet” or a plan or lifestyle?  What do you perceive the differences to be?
  • What do you do when your regular method of exercise is unavailable, so that you don’t lose momentum? (Note:  This is what initially tripped me up when I went off-program in 2010.)
  • What could you do for just ten minute a day that would help you master some new skill?

So, that’s today’s news.  I hope that anyone in the path of the upcoming hurricane stays safe and on plan!

…and many of us either have kids, or live where we have a ton of trick-or-treaters coming to our doors, so we buy candies to give them.

Therefore, this was one of the things we discussed at meeting last week.  I do not know the actual author of the list that we received from our leader, the lovely Diane C., but I did promise I would post it here for those who want the information, so here it is.


Don’t be Tricked by Halloween treats!

Use this list and have a plan. (1, 2, 3)

  • Almond Joy, Snack Size, 2 PPV*
  • Baby Ruth, Fun Size, 2 PPV
  • Bit-O-Honey, 1 piece, 1 PPV
  • Bit-O-Honey, 6 pieces, 4 PPV
  • Butterfinger, Fun Size, 3 PPV
  • Candy Apple, 5 ounce, 5 PPV
  • Candy Corn, 20 pieces (41 grams), 4 PPV
  • Caramel Apple, 10 PPV
  • Charms Blow Pop, 1 pop, 2 PPV
  • Crunch, Fun Size, 2 PPV
  • Dots, Fun Size, 2 PPV
  • Gummi Bears, 14 pieces (38 grams), 3 PPV
  • Heath Bar, Snack Size, 7 PPV
  • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, Snack Size, 6 PPV
  • Hershey’s Miniatures (any flavor), 5 pieces, 6 PPV
  • Kit-Kat, Snack Size bar, 3 2-piece bars, 6 PPV
  • Lemonhead, Fun Size, 1 pouch ( 11 grams), 1 PPV
  • M&M’s Milk Chocolate, Fun Size, 1 package, 2 PPV
  • M&M’s Peanut, Fun Size, 1 package, 3 PPV
  • Mounds, Fun Size, 3 PPV
  • Nerds, 1 box (12.6 grams), 1 PPV
  • Oh Henry!, Mini, 2 PPV
  • PayDay, Fun Size, 3 PPV
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, 2 pieces, 6 PPV
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Fun Size, 3 PPV
  • Reese’s Pieces, 1 bag (51 pieces/40 grams), 5 PPV
  • Skittles (Original Fruit), Fun Size, 2 PPV
  • Snickers, Fun Size, 2 PPV
  • Take 5, Fun Size, 6 PPV
  • Tootsie Roll Midgets, 6 pieces (40 grams), 4 PPV
  • Twix, Fun Size, 2 PPV
  • Twizzler Twists, Fun Size, 4 PPV
  • Whoppers, Fun Size, 4 PPV
  • York Peppermint Patty, Fun Size, 1 PPV

* PPV=Points Plus Value (for those on Weight Watchers)


In other news, I have been sticking to program, although I haven’t been getting much walking in due to the crappy weather.   There is good news though:  what walking I have gotten in has been without using the cane since last Friday, when I managed to walk six blocks without using a cane for the first time in years.  I cannot begin to describe the joy this brings, since I was afraid I would be stuck using the cane for the rest of my life.

I have also been looking through the new Hungry Girl cookbook, Hungry Girl to the Max, by Lisa Lillien.  Lots of recipes I want to try, as always.  In fact, I’m going to try one for dessert tonight:   Red Hot Apple Pie in a Cup (5 PPV) (p. 432).   

I have also been working my way through the food I made before my roommate went to visit an out-of-town friend.  I must say, it made it a lot easier — when plans got scuttled by weather — to be able to just reach into the fridge or freezer, and have something that I could have ready just by using the microwave.  I also found that the veggie mashup I made (cauliflower/broccoli/carrot) works excellently as a cold spread on bread with some lox.  Just like lox and veggie cream cheese.  I used 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Light, and then spread one or two teaspoons of the veggie mash over it.  Much less expensive than buying brand name veggie cream cheese, or veggie cream cheese from the local deli.

So, my questions for this week are:

On Halloween Candy:  What do you do with leftover Halloween candy?  Do you eat it yourself?  Bring it to the office?  Save it for snacks for your family?  How do you portion it out?  Do you stick to one serving if you have it yourself?  Do you consume multiple servings at one sitting?

On Walking:  Does weather stop you from walking?  If you do walk, do you need something to help you keep your balance?  If you do, do you notice that you need it less frequently as you progress toward your goals?  What plans do you have to not lose your walking benefits as winter rolls in?

On Cooking in Bulk:  Do you cook in bulk (“in bulk” defined here as cooking more than you need for one or two meals)?  If so, what foods do you like to cook in bulk to have food ready when you want to eat?  Are there foods you make in bulk that you discover other uses for?




1.  PPV=Points Plus Value (for those on Weight Watchers)

2.  They note that you can use the eTools calculator or the Points Plus calculator [and I add the Bar Code Scanner application] to calculate the Points Plus Value for any candy not included here.

3.  Please bear in mind that this list is not all-inclusive, and that if you have any questions about a particular candy not on the list, I would be happy to research it if you leave a message in the comments.

I seem to have some kind of bug, and the brain is not coherent enough to do the post I wanted to do, which was on  the Points Plus values of various Halloween candies.  I will do that post Wednesday.

Meanwhile, I received a copy of Curry: A Tale of Cooks & Conquerors, by Lizzie Collingham, which was recommended by my friend Debbie Baker.  I’m looking forward to reading it one my brain defogs, and will report bak on it one I have done so.

I have managed to remain on program, even with a memorial for a friend held in a chocolate shop in Manhattan (I had one small cup of dark hot cocoa, and made it last for the whole time I was there).

Here’s a great post by wwearlybirds on eating after dinner:  After Hours Munchies? In Control!.

See everyone on Wednesday!

Today went well.  My friend, C, and I went to the Weight Watchers meeting at Kings Highway & East 12th Street this morning, because the weather predictions were for downpours, making travel into Manhattan and walking to the meeting messy.

I was very pleased with my results: 2.4 lbs. down, for a total of 18.2 lbs.  My new weight is 244.2.  I got the glitch in my eTools fixed today, so it now accurately reflects my weight (it was showing my starting weight from the last time I did the program).  C also lost a bit, but the details are her story to tell, not mine.

My walking for the month needs a little work, but that happens.  This week’s figures are:

  • 10/12:  2,865 steps
  • 10/13:  1,916 steps
  • 10/14:  1,030 steps
  • 10/15:  0 steps
  • 10/16:  0 steps
  • 10/17:  2,932 steps
  • 10/18:  1,709 steps

The good news is that I have been able to walk as much as six blocks at a stretch, although I have had to stop to catch my breath at least once.  Still it’s a longer distance than I have been able to achieve in a while.  Today, I also walked part of it without a cane, since it was raining and I was using my umbrella as an umbrella for that part of the walk.

Today’s meeting was about eating late at night — not a late meal because one is hungry, but the kind of mindless eating so many of us indulge in. Suggestions for dealing with this ranged from tracking the noshes so we can see what our patterns are; finding other things to do to keep us from eating because we are bored, or angry, or frustrated; and choosing something better to eat than what we were going for (say, have an apple instead of a handful of cookies).  We also discussed habitual eating versus emotional eating, and the eight week challenge designed to prepare us for the winter holidays/social season.  The leader gave us two recipes, one for an apple brown betty (using the WW raisin and honey bars) which I wasn’t terribly interested in, and one for a mini-cake (using cake mix, water, and the microwave) that I was interested in.

Herewith, Diane C.’s recipe for 3-2-1 cake:

  • Mix together one box of angel food cake mix and one box of chocolate cake mix in a large jar and keep in pantry or cupboard.
  • Mix together in a microwave safe mug or bowl three tablespoons of the powdered cake mix and two tablespoons of water.
  • Microwave for one minute, then let cool.
  • Eat.

According to Diane C., this recipe makes a mini-cake that has a Points Plus value of 2.

Her apple brown betty was made by:

  • Put a cup of unsweetened applesauce into a microwave safe bowl.
  • Break up one WW Raisin and Honey bar and mix into the applesauce.
  • Mix in one teaspoon of cinnamon.
  • Microwave for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, then let cool until it’s at eating temperature.
  • Eat.

According to Diane C., the Points Plus Value for this is 3.

So, that’s it for today except for some questions to thin about:  Do you consistently eat after dinner is over?  Are you eating because you are hungry, out of habit (or boredom), or to stuff down emotions?  If you are on a food program, are you tracking those noshes?  What can you do instead of noshing?

…and let me tell you, carrying the book around should be considered part of an aerobic workout!  Lisa noted that the book weighed 3 1/2 lbs.  Lisa answered questions, raffled prizes (with help from Charlie the Tuna), signed books, and took pictures.

The goodie bags were nice — pink plastic Hungry Girl bags, filled with the following:

  • a 5.6 oz bag of Hershey’s Simple Pleasures Smooth & Creamy candies
  • a sample of Simply Snackin Dried Beef Sirloin with cranberries and blueberries
  • a Vitalicious Mini VitaCake in Fudgy Chocolate
  • a Weight Watchers Chocolate Pretzel Blast mini snack bar (I’ve had these, and they are delisious)
  • a 1 oz. pouch of Funky Monkey Freeze-dried Fruit in Jivealime (Pineapple with lime – I found them to be too sweet after the first few pieces
  • a 2.6 oz pouch of Starkist Tuna Creations Sweet & Spicy Tuna
  • a mini cookbook from House Foods for their Tofu Shirataki Noodles
  • a .8 oz bag of popchips (I got sea salt & vinegar potato chips)
  • a package of 6 Flatout Foldit Flatbreads
  • an 18 oz. plastic bottle of Bai5 Antioxidant Infusion (mine was Panama Peach), which claims to have natural caffeine, and to be Kosher, Vegan, Gluten & Soy free.  That needs to be chilled before drinking, so it’s in the fridge, waiting to be tested.

The extra goodie for being a Weight Watchers member was a note pad

Raffle prizes included tee shirts, a basket from Weight Watchers filled with goodies, a years’ supply of Vitalicious products, a Hungry Girl thermos, and a case of Bai5.

I promised  pics, so here goes:

The evening was fun, I got to do some walking, meet some nice folks while on line, and I got home at a reasonable hour What more can you ask?

If you get a chance to meet Lisa, you should definitely go.

Freelancers Union

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