Free Greek Yogurt?

Just mentioning a cool giveaway on Danica’s Daily blog.  Want to win a case of #WeightWatchers 2 #pointsplus @Yoplait Greek 100 Yogurt? Enter this #Giveaway hosted by @danicasdaily

Personal note:  Greek yogurt is excellent.  If one of my readers can get some free, that is even better!  One of my favorite snacks is some black cherry Greek yogurt with an ounce of dark chocolate chopped and an ounce of chopped walnuts added. And of course, some whipped topping is a must!

Low cal?  Not really.  Incredibly tasty and satisfying?  Oh, yeah!

The “Ps” of Long Term Success, Part 4

You’ve got PASSION. You made your PLAN.  And you are physically PREPARED. The next step?


Pick up your posterior and proceed toward your goal. In other words: Get going!

This logo and its associated tag line says it best.
Your goal won’t come to you. It won’t be any easier if you wait to start tomorrow, or next Monday, or the sixth Tuesday of next month. If you wait until “The time is right”, I can predict two things:
  1. when you finally begin your weight loss journey, you will weigh more than you do now, and
  2. you probably won’t start at all.

Procrastinating a difficult challenge is common. The reality is, successfully changing your life will be one of the greatest challenges you will ever face. And it can be scary! What will people say as you make progress? What will people say if you don’t make progress?

It’s a lot easier to stay where you are. But is that what you really want? (That question is answered by your level of PASSION for your goal.)

“If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad. then Muhammad must go to the mountain.” Healthy weight loss will not happen spontaneously, just as smoking cessation will not simply just “happen”. You need to take specific steps to achieve your goals.

This step is pretty simple. Get started. That’s all. Nothing can happen until you begin.

What are YOU waiting for?

Keep coming back for more “Ps” of success. (There will be 3 or 4 more!) And, don’t worry, I will continue to post more recipes here.

BBQ Sauce, Pan Fried Chicken Thighs and Two Side Dishes

Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs, topped with Homemade Barbecue Sauce and sides of Cheesy Mashed Potatoes and Cheesy Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4

8 chicken thighs (or 16 ounces chicken breast)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced
Barbecue sauce (recipe follows)
Your preferred seasoning (I used Penzey’s Arizona Dreaming.)

  1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Season the chicken.
  2. Saute onions and garlic until the onions begin to turn translucent (3-5 minutes). Remove from heat.
  3. In the same skillet, add the seasoned chicken. Cook on one side until it begins to brown (6-8 minutes.)
  4. Turn chicken. Layer onions over each thigh and spread the barbecue sauce evenly over each.
  5. Cook until the thighs are done (6-8 minutes.)

Nutritional data, including the sauce:
                    For 2 thighs                For 4 ounce chicken breast
Calories:         409                            157
Fat:               22.7g                           3.6g
Sat fat:            6.7g                           0.7g
Chol:             200mg                          65mg
Sodium:         191mg                        189mg
Carbs:            8.3g                            6.2g
Fiber:             1.2g                            0.9g
Protein:        42.9g                          23.7g

Barbecue Sauce (sweet style)
Makes about 1/2 cup
In a sauce pan, combine and heat to boiling:
4 ounces dark beer
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar (I used brown sugar/Splenda)
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dehydrated diced onion
1 teaspoon dehydrated diced garlic

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until thick.
Nutritional data for 2 tablespoons:
Calories:            35
Fat:                     0g
Sat fat:                0g
Chol:                  0mg
Sodium:           8.8mg
Carbs:             6.3g
Fiber:              0.5g
Protein:           0.4g

Cheesy Roasted Broccoli
Serves 4

3 heads broccoli, florets cut off into bite sized chunks
1 onions, but into 1/4 inch slices and then quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pepper (and salt, if desired) to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Place all ingredients into a 9/13 baking pan.
  3. Bake 40 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  4. Top with cheese. Put pan back in the oven until the cheese melts (about 5 minutes.)

Nutritional data:
Calories:         94
Fat:                7.2g
Sat fat:           2.2g
Chol:             7.4mg
Sodium:          65mg
Carbs:           5.4g
Fiber:            1.8g
Protein:         3.6g

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes
Serves 8

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded cheese

  1. Place potatoes in small kettle, boil until the potatoes are soft. (Check with a fork. When the fork slide into the potato easily, they are done.
  2. Drain water off. With a potato masher, mash the potatoes coarsely.
  3. Add yogurt.
  4. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
  5. Top each portion with 1 tablespoon of cheese.

Nutritional data:
Calories:         148
Fat:                 2.5g
Sat fat:            1.5g
Chol:              7.4mg
Sodium:           66mg
Carbs:           24.9g
Fiber:              2.6g
Protein:           6.6g

The “Ps” of Long Term Success, Part 3

The continuing thoughts on how to achieve long term success.
So far, you have or are developing a PASSION for your goal and you have mapped out a PLAN to achieve the goal. But isn’t planning the same as preparing? They are related but not the same.  From (highlights are my own):  
Plan: a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc. developed in advance:
Prepare: to put in proper condition or readiness 
To go back to yesterday’s comparison to our trip to the East coast, the plan was the mapped route, and the various stops along the way. The preparation is everything we did to be ready. Some of the basic preparations were making reservations at the bed and breakfasts and hotels in each city as well as the reservations to go fishing and whale watching. We packed our suitcases with clothing and other necessities. We packed food in a cooler, to maximize our driving efficiency and save some cost.
We also made sure that the summer classes we were teaching would be completed by our departure date. We made sure that our eldest son knew all the day to day activities needed to care for Ozzy and the garden.  We took many steps in preparation for a successful execution of our plan. And it was successful!
 What steps are necessary to be prepared for long term success, especially in weight loss? After you have your plan (primary and intermediate goals) and the specific route (calorie counting, Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast, etc), you need to prepare for success.
Do you have cookbooks?  I use many different cookbooks, but the most commonly used are my Cooking Light–Fresh Food Fast and  Cooking Light Comfort Foods. I also have a subscription to the magazines Eating Well and Food Network Magazine. However, you do not need a lot of cookbooks. Many online sources including and (and many, many more) are excellent places to look.
Do you have time to cook and maybe even add exercise? That can be the killer. I have been asked how I am able to work full time (and my wife work full time), blog, walk, lose weight, and still cook five or six nights a week? My answer, not surprisingly is, “Preparation.” My wife and I are busy but we both want to eat healthy and stay at a healthy weight. I cook good meals and we eat them together when our schedule allows. After dinner, one of us will clean up the dishes and the other will assemble the lunches for the next day. And since we both try to be on the road well before 7am, we get our school clothes ready at night.
In fact (and I am incredibly lucky) Sunday afternoon, Tammy will organize an entire week’s dress clothes for class. She wants me to look good and my ability to put colors together is, well, let’s just say “challenged.” So she organizes them for me. Like this:
That week I only had four days of class. Two pairs of pants, each paired with two different shirts. She also gives me options for my ties, usually two or three per shirt. (I can figure out which shoes and socks to wear all by myself!) 
She will do the same for her clothes, too. Working ahead of time saves even more time every morning, and makes for a more efficient day.
We put together our menu at least a week in advance. When we plan our meals, we consider the entire family’s schedule so we know who will be home and eating on any given day. We shop together every Saturday, using a preprinted shopping lists to keep us on track and on budget. Sunday afternoon, while Tammy is organizing our clothes, I am preparing food for the week. I like to cook one or two dishes that are able to keep well in the fridge (soup, stew, pasta dishes.) If I have recipes that call for a lot of prepped foods (especially chopped veggies) I will prep everything, package and label it for the day I make the recipe. Sometimes I will make a meal with extra portions. That will either provide lunches or dinners as leftovers (useful on a day when we are especially busy) or I will pack them tightly, label them and freeze them for future days. Sometimes things come up and we don’t have time to make a whole meal, but when we have our own home-made frozen dinners, we can eat just as fast, and far healthier, and much less expensive, than eating in a restaurant. 
Our preparation has become our routine. We no longer need to really think about these preparations. They are part of our normal daily lives. And that has made our successes more likely. Not any easier, because our journeys are anything but easy, but having a routine that includes preparation allows us to focus on the truly important activities that bring greater success.

Fall Bounty

I love autumn! It truly is my favorite time of year. The air gets crisp and fresh. The leaves turn colors and then fall to the ground. The aroma of the fallen leaves immediately brings me back to my childhood when I would walk in the woods with my father, trying in vain to hunt rabbit and grouse.

I love the sight and sound of huge formations of geese flying overhead as they migrate from Canada to points far south. And the autumn season also brings a bounty of food harvest and associated feasts.

In the USA and Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated, but at slightly different times. (It’s the first Monday in October for Canadians, and the third Thursday on November in the USA.) But both as a celebration of the season’s harvest. And I LOVE the Thanksgiving Feast. It is my favorite holiday meal of the year.

But let’s talk about one specific part of that feast.

The wonderful cranberry.

Without going into all the good health properties of the cranberry, they taste great! They are very tart and acidic, and that tartness is why they blend so well with the rich and fatty foods on the Thanksgiving table. The acid buts the heaviness of the gravies, sauces and stuffings. However, I grew up with cranberries that slid out of a can and were then cut into circles of red gel.

 Traditional in my family.

But If you want the real taste of cranberries with all their health benefits in addition to texture and great flavor, here is an exceedingly simple recipe. You can have it made in a matter of minutes. It can be served immediately, or kept in the refrigerator in a covered container. You can vary the ingredients to your taste and preferred level of sweetness.

Cranberry Relish
Serves 8

1 bag of raw cranberries, washed. (I think the bags are generally one pound)
2 medium apples, cut into quarters with the cores removed
1 orange, peeled
1/2 – 1 cup sugar (or Splenda)

Put the first three ingredients into a food processor. Process until evenly chunky. Add sweetener to taste.

Nutritional data (approximately 1/4 cup per serving):
Note: I used Splenda. If you use sugar, the calories and carbs will be accordingly higher.

Calories:    44
Fat:          0.1g
Sat fat:        0g
Chol:          0mg
Sodium:   1.1mg
Carbs:    11.6g
Fiber:          3g
Protein:     0.4g

An alternative to this recipe that I really like is to add one jalapeno.  Tart and hot!

The “Ps” of Long Term Success, Part 2

Continuing my series on how to achieve long term success.

2.  Plan

So, you have passion for your goal. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe your goal is something you would like, but don’t know if you can commit to it forever. In either case the next step is to make a plan.

What is your priority goal?
What are your intermediate goals?
What will be your path to reach your goals?

But you say, “I know what my goal is. I want to lose weight.  Isn’t that enough?”

Not really. Think about the last time you went on vacation. Did you just pile into the car (train, bus or plane) and VOILA you were at your destination? Oh, I know people can do that. My wife and I did that once, early in our marriage. But that was just for a weekend, and we did not go far away.

No, most vacations require planning. When Tammy and I drove east earlier this year, we spent days planning potential places to stop. We knew we wanted to include Boston and Portland, Maine. Those were our priority goals. But that was the easy part. And your main goal in weight is also the easy part to plan. You pick a number and say, “I want to lose X pounds.”

But we Googled a lot of different routes and other destinations en route, all through Ohio, New York, and Canada. We wanted to see what we could do on our way through the vacation. We hit our two primary goals first (four days in Boston and then two days in Portland.) Upon leaving Portland, we then planned out three intermediate stops while on our drive home to Green Bay.  And at those three destinations, we had fun, explored new regions (and drank a LOT of wine.) We had fun at our intermediate goals. This applies to your weight loss plan, especially if you have a large number as your primary goal. You should set intermediate goal while always working towards your final destination. And then, success you reach each of those steps to success, you should celebrate! Have fun while making progress!

Finally, we had a set path to our destinations. We not only printed out Google Maps directions, we also bought a GPS unit. That was our predetermined map to success. Did we stay on track? No, not completely. There were a few times when we deviated from the plan by taking a detour that was not planned due to road construction. But even though we were not following our exact plan, we were still driving towards our intended destinations.

You need to make a route to your weight-loss goal, but in this case, “a route” is all about what you will do. Will you eat low carb? Will you eat no wheat? Will you do a program that provides you prepared meals? Will you join Weight Watchers? Will you simply count calories? Will you join a gym, or run, or do P90X, or yoga? Those are all aspects of your route to success.

And like our vacation, you will also have detours. Maybe you will get ill. Maybe you will have surgery. Maybe the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years trifecta of parties will result in a weight gain. Those are all temporary disruptions to your short term plan, but they will not–should not–cause you to stop your journey. (If we stopped our journey due to a detour, we’d still be in Ohio, continuing to drink wine!)

You need to find your PASSION (what do you really need?) and then sit down and carefully make a PLAN (how will you get want you really need?)

Come back tomorrow for step three!

The “Ps” of Long Term Success, part 1

This is going to be a series of posts about how to find success, primarily in weight loss, but I believe that these ideas will be universal in application. These tips really do apply to everyone (it’s just that not everyone will apply them.)


No, not that passion. I mean, what do you really want? What is most important to you? What is all-consuming in your life? What do you most enjoy?

It is very hard to complete a project if your heart is not into it. Think about an assignment in school or a project at work that you’ve had. Maybe it was in a class you didn’t like, or the project was something that you believed to be useless.

Oh, I’m sure you submitted the assignment or completed the project. We always try to finish what is required of us. But what was your end result? Were the results satisfying to you, to your teacher or manager? Were you proud of your accomplishment?

The chances are that while you finished the work, you either did the bare minimum or cut corners to save time and get the “stupid thing” off your “to-do” list.

How does this apply towards weight management? Isn’t everyone obviously passionate about losing weight? Sure, most people really want to lose weight. But most people do not have the inner drive, the absolute hunger (well, generally we all experience hunger!) for success. It takes that level of commitment to complete a difficult and long term goal. And successful weight loss is a long term goal–a life long change. It is not a quick fix for a problem, but a permanent modification. And that long term reality is what cause most people’s problems. They want to lose 10 pounds for their vacation, but that need is not great enough, not powerful enough to carry them through to lasting success.

I said that most people don’t possess that passion, and without that passion success is unlikely. Am I suggesting that everyone who reads this is doomed to fail? Not really. Passion, drive and commitment can be learned. It is not a genetic thing, but a learned reality. And just like anything else, it will not come easily, but anything worthwhile will rarely be easy.

But it is almost always worth it. So, how do you gain passion?

Come back tomorrow for the next “P” of success.

Asian Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs

Asian Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs
Serves ?  (Depends on how many racks you prepare. Plan one per person.)

I made this with a pressure cooker. It cooks faster and creates tender meat. You could do this in the oven by roasting with same liquid, but it will take 2+ hours.

4 racks of beef short ribs
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
2 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon Hoisin sauce
8 ounces beer (a lager is best–try Tsing Tao, Kirin or Sapporo)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

  1. In the pressure cooker, heat the oil.  Season meat.
  2.  Brown on both side. Remove the cooker, set aside.
  3. Add garlic and ginger to the residual juices, turn the heat to med-high and cook until they get fragrant (1 minute.)
  4. Add all remaining ingredients. Stir to dissolve. Add meat. Seal and cook 20 minutes according to your pressure cooker’s directions.
  5. After 20 minutes, let the pressure drop naturally.
  6. If you want, you can take the braising liquid and cook it down (reducing it by half or more) to make a think sauce.  (I didn’t do that.)

I served this with jasmine rice and sesame grilled broccoli. (I drizzled toasted sesame oil over broccoli spears and then grilled them over a hot grill until they were hot and beginning to get some dark brown color.

Nutritional data for one rack of ribs:
Calories:        339
Fat:              20.6g
Sat fat:           8.8g
Chol:         105.4mg
Sodium:     165.8mg
Carbs:           1.3g
Fiber:               0g
Protein:       34.9g

Pork Schnitzel with Sauteed Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts

Pork Schnitzel with Sauteed Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
Serve 6

This is ridiculously easy to make.

24 ounces boneless pork chops (thin-sliced if possible)
1 egg white
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Seasoning of your choice (I used 1/2 teaspoon of Penzy’s Krakow Nights, one of the rare salted seasoning blends that I use.)

  1. Separate egg, placing white in a bowl large enough to hold a pork chop.
  2. Mix seasoning with panko in a shallow dish.
  3. Dip pork chops in egg white.  Dredge through seasoned crumbs.
  4. Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-high.  Place chops in skillet, turning when then begin to turn golden brown (4-5 minutes).
  5. Serve on the sauteed cabbage and Brussels sprouts. (I topped mine with a teaspoon of sweet and coarse German mustard.)

Nutritional data:
Calories:        286
Fat:              15.6g
Sat fat:           5.3g
Chol:              94mg
Sodium:       187mg
Carbs:           3.2g
Fiber:            0.2g
Protein:       30.6g

Sauteed Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts
Serves 6

1 tablespoon bacon grease (the fat from 3-4 slices)  Other oil can be substituted if you prefer.
1 cup onion, diced
3 cups shredded cabbage (I used red. You can use green if preferred.)
3 cups shredded Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 ounces beer (optional, but I used it.)

  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat.  Add bacon grease.
  2. When melted, add onions.
  3. Saute until they just begin to get translucent (3-4 minutes).
  4. Add cabbage and Brussels sprouts.  Toss together.
  5. Mix beer, vinegar and sugar together in a bowl until sugar dissolves. Add to cabbage/Brussels sprouts.
  6. Continue to cook, tossing occasionally. The goal is to heat them without frying them.
  7. Optional:  top each serving with crumbled bacon. I didn’t do that because my son ate the bacon while I was out of the kitchen at one point.

Nutritional data (about 1 cup):
Calories:        119
Fat:                3.6g
Sat fat:           1.3g
Chol:                3mg
Sodium:          43mg
Carbs:         18.2g
Fiber:            4.6g
Protein:         3.7g

Of course, serve all this with a good German beer!