Friday, March 26, 2021

Eating All the Stuff


“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

--Steve Jobs


Two years ago, I started my weight loss journey with WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) with these goals in mind:

Walk without pain in my knees and hips

Fit in an airline seat without a seatbelt extender 

Fit in any seat

Not be over the weight limit for activities, outdoor chairs, inexpensive treadmills, etc.

No high blood pressure medication needed

Buy clothes in any store

Feel confident in my body

Lose 130 pounds

During this crazy past year, I reached a weight-loss total of -84 pounds. And then, I started to struggle. My weight had reached the lowest it had been in 30-plus years, which was unknown territory for me and a little scary because I didn’t quite know how to feel about myself. Also, I got tired of trying to adjust every recipe to be more WW point-friendly. (Sometimes you just want a cookie to be a cookie!) But, most of all, I was tired of feeling good or bad about myself based on what the scale said or how many points I did or didn’t eat in a day.

Old habits started to return. Instead of only eating a cookie or two, I was eating the whole box. A couple of scoops of ice cream became the whole container. Most of all, I was back to mindless eating—putting food in my mouth without actually tasting it or enjoying it, and doing it a fast as I could so I wouldn’t think about it. The pounds started to return and I started to panic. I’d watched many WW people I admired on social media gain back all the weight they lost…and then some. It reminded me that 95 percent of people who lose weight gain it back. That’s always been my story in the past.

There has to be a better way!

I have accomplished all my goals except for one. My weight.

Do I have to reach a certain number on the scale to be successful in my wellness journey?

Is it possible this is where my body is meant to be? 

About 6 months ago, I remembered the concept of intuitive eating. The focus is on letting your body eat what it wants, and learning to trust that it will tell you what it needs. I’d first heard of this idea back in the 1980s through the writings of Geneen Roth, primarily her book Breaking Free from Emotional Eating and When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair. I also recently came across Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, and The F*ck It Diet by Caroline Dooner. 

The key components to intuitive eating are listening to what your body wants and no food is off-limits. When I first started eating this way, I was binging. It was like my body was saying, “So, I can have anything I want? Prove it!”

Still, I continued to allow myself to eat what I wanted. Sweets after dinner…or any time, and anything off the take-out menu. I kept jars full of chocolates, cookies in the pantry, and the freezer well-stocked with ice cream. 

Over time, I noticed I was happy with just a small bowl of ice cream. Or 2-3 cookies. Or 2-4 pieces of chocolate. Not all of the above all the time

One evening, as I was watching TV, my tummy full and happy after dinner, I didn’t even think of eating anything sweet. The thought didn’t enter my mind until it was almost bedtime! No trying to talk myself out of it. I didn’t have to! Wow.

I’ve also stopped gaining weight. As of today, I’ve regained 15-20 pounds from my lowest weight, and I’m okay with that. I’ve decided to write my own well-being story. I would like to drop about 10 pounds, and then stay put. But I’m not going to count points or calories. No food is off-limits. I actually believe as the weather gets warmer, and I’m more active and inclined to eat fruits and veg, some of the weight I’ve gained will drop off naturally. 

Let me say, I’m grateful to WW for helping me get this far. I don’t know if I could have lost this much weight without the program. Most of all, the best gift I received during these past 2 years is the knowledge that self-care is not selfish. It’s necessary for achieving any other goals in life.


Now, speaking of goals, my new ones are:

Keep walking—and doing 5Ks—because I like it! 

Practice yoga twice a week

Find ways to add other movements into my life—golf, hiking, etc.

Trust my body to tell me what it needs.

Pay attention to how my body feels about certain foods

No food is off-limits

Balance

Enjoy life!

If you’d like to follow along with me while I blaze my new path, you can find me on Instagram and Facebook. I promise to be real with you, no matter what happens. Plus, I’ll post longer updates here from time to time, along with more tasty recipes!

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”

--Mark Twain 


Thursday, March 25, 2021

Crustless Coconut Custard Pie



If you're looking for a dessert that is both easy and delicious, this crustless coconut custard pie is just the ticket. It's adapted from one I found in Marion Cunningham's book Learning to Cook, which was published in 1999.

Let me introduce you to Marion Cunningham, one of the women who helped Americans cook better.  A life-long resident of California, she went from homemaker to cookbook author and columnist. She is perhaps best known for updating the iconic The Fannie Farmer Cookbook in the 1970s. 

However, first and foremost, Marion Cunningham was a teacher. She made the most clueless cook feel capable of creating a meal to feed themselves, family, and friends. Learning to Cook provides step-by-step instructions so there is no question as to how a dish should be made. Her Cooking with Children book opened the door to life-long cooking. And all of her cookbooks featured ingredients that can be found in any supermarket. 


In the introduction of Learning to Cook, she told about the experience of teaching Saturday cooking classes to beginners. “Every time we cooked, we sat down around my dining-room table and looked at the results of our lessons. Cooking in my kitchen, then enjoying each other’s company over a home-cooked meal, helped introduce (or re-introduce) these adult beginners to the social pleasures of cooking and eating together, pleasures that are often missing in busy lives. They tell me how they learned that going home at the end of the day, after busy work pressures, to a quiet time of cooking can be the best kind of therapy. That feeling is one of the best gifts that cooking at home can give us, and I hope that all of you using these recipe and sitting down to enjoy a meal with your friends, family, or even alone will find the same kind of satisfaction.” 

The ingredients for this Crustless Coconut Custard Pie are quickly whizzed together in a food processor. Serve it dusted with confectioner's sugar and toasted coconut on top, as I have here, or with some whipped cream and berries on the side. 





Yield: 6 to 8
Author: Linda Ditch
Crustless Coconut Custard Pie

Crustless Coconut Custard Pie

This recipe was adapted from one found in Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham. A creamy, refreshing dessert for the perfect ending to any meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup unsweetened or sweetened packaged coconut, plus more for garnish
  • Powdered sugar, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the milk, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, sugar, and vanilla into a food processor and whiz for three minutes. Add the 1 cup coconut and whiz again for 3 seconds.
  2. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Check to see if the pie is done by sticking a sharp knife into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If not, bake for an additional 5 minutes and check again. You want there to be a slight wobble when you remove it from the oven. It will firm up as it cools.
  3. Serve at room temperature or cold, cut into wedges. Dust with powdered sugar and sprinkle with toasted coconut if desired. Also nice served with whipped cream and/or fresh fruit.
  4. To toast coconut, sprinkle 1/4 cup coconut onto a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until toasted, about 3-5 minutes. Keep an eye on it, since the coconut can burn quickly!
Created using The Recipes Generator

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Ginger-Lime Marinade

 

No matter the temperature outside, when March arrives, I’m ready for spring. My thoughts automatically turn to flower gardens, fresh vegetables, and grilling.

This ginger-lime marinade is easy to assemble and gives either chicken or pork a satisfying Asian-citrus flavor. Since my grill is stored in the shed, I broiled this chicken breast. Next time, I’ll break out my grill pan until warmer weather lets me move to outside cooking.


Yield: 4
Author: Linda Ditch
Ginger-Lime Marinade

Ginger-Lime Marinade

An easy to assemble marinade that gives either chicken or pork a satisfying Asian-citrus flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • Zest of two limes
  • 2 teaspoons dried ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or pork chops

Instructions

  1. Place all the marinade ingredients into a gallon zipper bag or a baking dish large enough to hold the meat of choice. Whisk together until combined. Add the meat, making sure each piece is coated.
  2. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 4 hours, turning the meat over halfway through to make sure it is evenly coated in the marinade. When ready, cook the meat either by grilling, in a skillet, or under a broiler.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Friday, February 19, 2021

Food Travels: Ginger Carrot Tea Cake with Orange Glaze



I miss traveling. Since the Covid pandemic started last year, I've daydreamed about all the places I will visit once things get better. Top on my list is a return to the United Kingdom. My last trip there was in 1992. 

Mom and I have spent the past year streaming a variety of British television programs like Great British Baking Show, Land Girls, Midsomer Murders, Shakespeare and Hathaway, Call the Midwife, Inspector Lewis, Death in Paradise, and Father Brown. (We're also fans of Australian shows My Life if Murder, 800 Words, and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.) Add to that numerous PBS Masterpiece shows, such as the current All Creatures Great and Small and Miss Scarlett and the Duke, and it’s easy to understand how we’ve become proper anglophiles in this house.


I find myself drinking a lot more tea. Maybe because anytime a crisis happens in these programs, someone always says, “I’ll put the kettle on.” A pandemic is a crisis, right? 

I’ve always enjoyed the occasional cuppa, but now it’s an almost daily ritual. However, my tea time is a cup in the evening after dinner, with just a random cup in the late afternoon. 

Tea cuisine is also a favorite of mine. I love scones loaded with strawberry jam and clotted cream, buttery shortbread cookies, and crisp cucumber or watercress sandwiches. 

However, tea cakes are my number one selection. Also known as loaf cakes, these sweet treats are just the right size for my small household, and they aren’t loaded with frosting. In the past, I’ve posted recipes for Walnut Apricot Tea Bread, Honey Spice Loaf, and Orange Marmalade Teacake. 

This recipe for Ginger Carrot Tea Cake is now my favorite. Moist and flavorful, with a hint of ginger and the brightness of orange—perfect!  You’ll notice I’ve listed the measurements for the ingredients by weight first, then volume. Paul Hollywood and Mary Barry have made me a food scale convert. Trust me, using a scale is soooo easy, more accurate, and with less clean-up! 

I’ve also posted in the past instructions on how to make a proper pot of tea. You’ll find them here.

Are you a tea fan? What kind do you like most? And are you streaming shows from across the pond? I’d love to hear about your favorites so I can get some new ideas for my next binge-watching venture.

Cheers!
 


Yield: 1 9 x 5-inch loaf
Author: Linda Ditch
Ginger Carrot Tea Cake with Orange Glaze

Ginger Carrot Tea Cake with Orange Glaze

A flavorful tea cake, with just a hint of warm ginger and a bright orange glaze.

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 225 grams (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 225 grams (1 cup packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 medium carrots, grated (165 grams/1 1/2 cups packed)
  • For the glaze:
  • Zest and juice from 1 medium orange
  • 100 grams (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs by hand for two minutes until light an and silky. Add the oil, cinnamon, ginger and salt, and whisk until smooth and combined. Add the dry ingredients and combine together with a rubber spatula until smooth. Fold in the grated carrots.
  4. Pour the now thick batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top. Bang the pan on the countertop a couple of times to allow any air bubbles to rise to the surface. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the cake is golden and a tester comes out clean.
  5. Remove the loaf pan from the oven and set it on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan onto the rack and allow it to cool completely.
  6. To make the glaze, place the confectioners’ sugar and orange zest into a small bowl. Wisk in the orange juice a bit at a time until the glaze ins pourable but still thick. Place the cooling rack on top of a piece of waxed paper or foil. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to ooze down the sides. All the glaze to set for a few minutes before slicing the cake.
  7. Store cake wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Cheesy Broccoli Corn Potato Chowder with Ham

What do you do when cravings collide? 

Recently, I was enamored by a social media post for ham and potato corn chowder, but I also was longing for a cheddar broccoli soup. Plus, I had some fresh broccoli that wasn’t going to stay that way for much longer.


So, I combined two soups into one. Boy, was it good—even though the name is a little long!

Full of healthy veggies and sharp cheddar, with just enough ham to give it a smoky taste. 


Best of all, this recipe is perfect for the slow cooker. Put in the bulk of the ingredients at the start of the day and by dinnertime, all you have to do is blend the mixture to your desired chunkiness (I used a stick blender), and stir in the cheese, cream (if using), and ham. 

Dinner is ready! 








Yield: 6 to 8
Author: Linda Ditch
Cheesy Broccoli Corn Potato Chowder with Ham

Cheesy Broccoli Corn Potato Chowder with Ham

What happens when broccoli-cheddar soup combines with a corn chowder? Add some ham, and this soup is the result.

Ingredients

  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen corn
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound fresh broccoli florets
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 32-ounce carton low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces Velveeta, diced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces ham, diced

Instructions

  1. In a large slow cooker, add all of the ingredients except for the cheeses, cream, and ham. (Add more water if necessary.) Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the vegetables are tender.
  2. Using an immersion (stick) blender, whizz up the soup in the slow cooker until it reaches your desired consistency. (If you don’t have a hand-held stick blender, ladle 2 to 3 cups of the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. Then pour the blended mixture back into the slow cooker.)
  3. Add the ham to the soup, and then the cheeses, a handful at a time, stirring until melted and blended into the soup. Then stir in the cream. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.
  4. Serve and enjoy. (FYI: Like most soups, this one tastes even better the next day!)

Thursday, January 28, 2021

NYT Whole-Wheat Banana Muffins


I’m obsessed with these muffins! 

From the moment I read this recipe for Whole-Grain Banana Yogurt Muffins on the New York Times Cooking page, I was intrigued with the idea of a breakfast/snack treat that sounded both delicious and healthy. I made a batch for Christmas breakfast, and haven’t stopped making them since.


Actually, I goofed the first time I made them and forgot to add the honey. Didn’t matter—they were still delicious. I remembered the honey for the second batch, which made the muffins even more flavorful and, dare I say, moist. Don’t be put off by the whole-wheat flour-only in the recipe. The muffins are still light and fluffy. I also used fat-free Greek yogurt since that’s what I had on-hand, and it worked fine. Now I also add dried cranberries or raisins to the mix. My next go-around will have dried blueberries. And I top them with chopped walnuts for a bit of crunch. 


The original recipe says you can keep the leftover muffins in an airtight container for up to 3 days, but mine lasted 5 and 6 days in a zip bag just fine. You can also freeze them, but I haven’t tried that yet.

If you’re sick of banana bread, or just want something different, give these muffins a whirl. You won’t be sorry.




Yield: 12
Author: Linda Ditch
NYT Whole-Wheat Banana Muffins

NYT Whole-Wheat Banana Muffins

Adapted from a NYT Cooking recipe by Genevieve Ko, these muffins are simple to make, healthy, and delicious. A great way to use up really-ripe bananas.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4-cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large mashed ripe bananas (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 to 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
  • Chopped walnuts for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. (Or line with paper liners.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, yogurt, egg, brown sugar, oil, and honey until smooth. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in the dried fruit, if using.
  4. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin.
  5. Store muffins in a zippered bag or another air-tight container. Leftovers can be frozen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

"Here we Come a Wassailing..." with Wassail


Have you ever had wassail? I grew up with the smell of my mom's recipe for this holiday drink wafting through the house as Christmas approached and the weather turned colder. A warm mug full of spicy cranberry and apple goodness epitomized the meaning of "comfort and joy." 

In other words, this beverage is perfect for Christmas 2020. 

The word “wassail” comes from the late-21st century English toast “was-hail,” which means “be in good health.” To go wassailing was singing carols from door to door in hopes of a warm beverage and treats. The drink itself was a warm spiced ale or wine garnished with roasted apples.

Mom’s wassail recipe is very simple. Just wrap the whole spices into a cheesecloth pouch and pop it into a pot full of apple cider and cranberry juice. Add a little brown sugar depending on the sweetness of the juices. Mom never spiked hers, but I’ve found adding a bit of brandy to be very tasty. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator. Then, when the wassail craving strikes, just fill up a mug and warm it in the microwave.


Cheers to you and joyous wishes during this unique holiday season! 




Yield: 10 to 12
Author: Linda Ditch
Print
Wassail

Wassail

A warm mug full of spicy cranberry and apple goodness epitomized the meaning of "comfort and joy."

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts apple cider (or apple juice)
  • 1 1/2 quarts cranberry juice
  • 8 to 10 whole allspice
  • 10 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 20 to 25 whole cloves
  • 1/2 to 1 cup brandy (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cut a piece of cheesecloth and place the whole spices in the center. Pull up the edges to make a pouch and tie with butcher’s twine.
  2. Pour the cider and juice into a large pot or slow cooker. Add the spice pouch. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. (Or heat in the slow cooker on low for 4 to 5 hours.) Before serving, taste for sweetness and add 1/2 cup brown sugar if necessary. Also, add the brandy for a more adult beverage.
Created using The Recipes Generator