On the road again

One chapter in our lives has ended. My husband retired from the Air Force in February after 22 years of active service. Being an Air Force family was an adventure we wouldn’t trade for the world but I am glad that we will have my husband back full-time. We counted up the time he’d been gone and it turned out he spent just shy of eight years away from home. Eight of our eighteen years of marriage. It’s a little surreal to think we’ll never have to cycle through the emotions that come before, during, and after a deployment.  We are all so proud of him.

Retirement Ceremony, Nov 2012

His ceremony was in November 2012 and his last day on active duty was January 31, 2013. He had been looking for a job pretty much all over the southwest and decided to take a job-hunting trip in February back to his hometown area of Midland, Texas to meet with some people face-to-face. We thought he’d be gone a few weeks. But to our surprise and delight, he got a great offer less than an hour after he landed and in spite of taking other meetings, the first offer was the best. They asked, “Can you start Tuesday?” which really threw a wrench in the works because he thought he’d be back in California waiting to hear about a job. We had to decide fast and with the end of his active duty pay looming and the honestly awesome job offer, it seemed like the smartest thing to say yes.

His mom welcomed him home (temporarily) and he started his new job in mid-February. He started looking for houses and I started getting ready to move. We have put in a couple of offers on two different houses but for one reason or another (roof is shot, foundation is cracked, property title can’t be insured, etc) we haven’t finalized any permanent housing. The school year is ending soon so we went with plan B which was to rent a temporary apartment in Midland so we can reunite the family after what we hope will be our last separation and look for a house together.

I freely confess I’m not super-excited about moving back to west Texas but I am looking forward to being close to his family. My own parents are considering a retirement move to central Texas so we will be close enough to visit them often and my kids will get something I never had as a second-generation military brat: all their grandparents will be close enough to participate in their lives on a regular basis. I see this like any other assignment. It is what you make of it and you can choose to be happy and find things you like or you can choose to be miserable and grouse all the time. I’d rather bloom where I’m planted and be happy.

It is not going to be easy living out of my element culturally but I’m already looking for ways to find my own community. A friend of mine recommended I get involved with the UU congregation in Midland because she is quite certain that I’ll find an oasis of like-minded people where I won’t feel as disconnected as I did in Abilene. I’ve also gotten in touch with the Midland County Democrats and hope to stay active politically with them. They told me there aren’t enough of them to make a separate women’s group which is just fine. We will turn Texas blue sooner or later.

Moving day is a month away and I still have so much to do but I know it will get done. It always does. Besides prepping the house and our things for the move, I’ve got a list of things in the city that we haven’t done that I’m trying to squeeze in before we go. Russ is flying out here the day after the packers leave to load the little u-haul with what we’re taking to the apartment and we’ll spend the next few days driving back across country with a stop in Tucson to visit my co-workers whom I haven’t seen since 2007. I have a new boss and an old teammate I’ve never met in person, not to mention the whole company moved to an office I’ve never visited. I’m looking forward to seeing the people I knew and meeting the new folks face to face. Come July 1st I’ll be officially a transplanted Texan!

 

Easy Flatbread Pizza

I’m always on the lookout for easy and low-point meals that can be prepared quickly and enjoyed by everyone in the family whether they are on Weight Watchers or not. This is a recreation of a dish I had out at lunch which is simple, delicious, and surprisingly low in points. The crust is a thin whole wheat lavash flatbread that comes in at 1 point for half the bread. If you’re really hungry and have the points, the whole piece of flatbread (about 9″ x 12″) rounds up to three points. I usually split the pizza with my husband and pair it with a nice big salad.

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Lavash Pizza

  • 1 piece whole wheat lavash (use your points plus calculator to find one that comes out to 1 point per serving)
  • 2 tbsp pesto sauce – homemade or from the store
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ounces chevre goat cheese
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup basil, cut in thin strips (chiffonade)

Preheat a pizza stone or a baking sheet in the oven to 425 degrees. While that is preheating, grill the vegetables quickly in a skillet with one tsp of the olive oil. You want them browned, not burned, and crisp-tender. Make sure the pan is wicked hot before you put the veg in there. When the vegetables look nice and browned, put them aside until you’re ready to top the pizza.

Take the remaining 2 tsp of olive oil and brush both sides of the lavash lightly with the oil. You can also use olive oil spray but using real olive oil will help get in a healthy oil for the day. Spread the two tablespoons of pesto evenly across the bread and crumble the goat cheese on top. Distribute the vegetables and sprinkle the sliced basil across the pizza.

Transfer the pizza to the hot pizza stone and cook for about 8 – 10 minutes. This bread is so thin that it doesn’t take long at all so watch the pizza closely to prevent incineration. When the edges of the bread are browned take it out and let it cool before slicing.

Feel free to use whatever ingredients you fancy. Chopped sun-dried tomatoes, bits of chicken or ham, pepperonis, mushrooms, asparagus, any cheeses you want to try. Just keep the pointy ingredients under control.

The way this is written, the points break down like this for one serving (1/2 the pizza):

  • 1 point – lavash
  • 1 point – pesto
  • 1 point – goat cheese
  • 2 points – olive oil
  • 0 points for onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and basil

     = 5 total points plus

This pizza also meets several good health guidelines: 2 healthy oils (pesto sauce and olive oil), 1 dairy serving (goat cheese), 1.5 fruit/vegetable checks.

Ingredients:

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Lavash I used, found at Fresh and Easy:

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You want the veg to be nice and browned, not burnt.

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It’s done! Edges are browned, cheese is melty, basil is wilted:

IMG_5877It’s truly delicious not just for a points-friendly meal, but delicious, period. Enjoy!

Weight Watchers 5 Point Taco Salad

I’ve been on Weight Watchers just over a year and I’ve lost a total of 55 lbs. I’m really pleased with my progress and now that I’m less than 10 lbs to goal, it hardly seems real.

Haven’t posted in a while but wanted to get this out there as an example of a low-point lunch that is very filling. It is a good example of how to use foods to fill in a meal with things that are zero points but very filling. This is a very fast lunch for me because I usually have most of the elements already made in the fridge. I usually cook everything on Sunday or Monday and then make my week’s lunches each day from the ingredients I cooked up previously. The ingredients make a nice wrap which is what I usually have each day. The salad is a nice change of pace and saves me two points on the tortilla to use later in the day. Like on wine maybe. :)

Taco Salad

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Lunch as pictured is five points which break down like this:

  • 3 cups mixed greens – zero points
  • 2 ounces Stupid-Easy Bean Dip – 2 points
  • 2 ounces lean ground beef, browned with sauteed onion and spices – 2 points
  • 2 tbsp of Lowfat Spicy Ranch Dressing – 1 point
  • 10 grams shredded lowfat cheddar cheese – zero points
  • Sauteed red bell pepper and onion – zero points
  • 1 chopped tomato – zero points
  • 1/3 cup salsa – zero points

Enjoy y’all!

Progress is a good thing

It’s been a long while since I updated but I wanted to get this all down someplace so if I ever feel like falling off the wagon, I can come back and look at it all and hopefully buck up and stay on track. I hate hate hate the phrase ‘weight loss journey’ so I’m never going to call it that. For our family, it really has been a sea change in the way we eat and live. I don’t even buy food the same way I used to.

This is where I started, a size 22/24 and 235 lbs. I am pretty sure this photo was taken sometime in 2007.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma is what really got me motivated to make serious changes in how I fed my family. We joined a CSA, stopped buying commercial meats, cleared the pantry of every food with HFCS and most other processed foods. I started exercising some and lost about twenty pounds.This was taken in October 2009.

But my weight loss stalled. I wasn’t gaining, thankfully, but I was no longer seeing the scale move downward. I started working from home after we moved to Texas, couldn’t seem to fit working out into my new schedule, and I was moving less than I ever had. We moved again, this time to California.The new house was two stories and when I got winded (and dizzy!) climbing the stairs in my own house, I knew it was time to get serious.

I joined a gym and started working out, lifting weights and doing a couch to 5k program on the treadmill. I realized after a couple of months that in order to reach the fitness goals I set for myself, I was going to have to lose actual pounds, serious weight, or I’d never be able to do that pull-up I wanted to do. I joined Weight Watchers in October of 2011. Ten months later, I have lost 43 more pounds and am finally out of the plus-sized category. I am still considered overweight and I have about twenty more pounds to go before I reach my goal but I feel so much better. I probably won’t ever be the thinnest girl in the room and I have accepted that my body will always have flaws and parts that are squishier than I’d like but I can do so much more than I could a year ago. I used to sit on my couch and wish I weighed less. “I’d be happy if I could be 180. That’s not thin but it would be great.” Now I’m 169 and still dropping and the truth is that you can’t sit and wish. You have to get off the couch and do it.

Two last pictures. 169 lbs, size 14 petite. Taken July 2012:

UPDATE: 8 lbs from goal! 158 lbs, taken November 2012:

 

Sun Tea

sun tea in “upcycled” one gallon pickle jars

It’s finally warm enough here to get my pickle jars out of the back corner of the cabinet. Sun tea is just something special and I look forward to it every year. I make my tea the same way every time:

  • 1 gallon pickle jar filled with cold water
  • 3 Luzianne family sized tea bags
  • 2 small bags of 100% spearmint leaf tea

I’ve had these pickle jars for about twelve years. When we lived in the Azores, our landlord ran a small coffee and sandwich place and the pickle jars were from his cafe business. They were in the house when we moved in and we took them when we left. I’ve lost one of the lids so I just use a square of foil to keep the bugs out. I’ve thought about getting spigot jars to make my tea but now I can say my jars are “upcycled” instead.

Weight Watchers 5 point lunch

I’ve been on Weight Watchers for a few months and have been averaging 1 lb per week loss. Pretty awesome! The program is easy to follow and if you do it right, you’ll never be hungry. The new points plus program is very similar in principle to Volumetrics. You eat more of foods that are nutritious and filling, less of foods that are calorie-dense. Sensible and easy to do for life.

My daily points allowance is 26 points which seems like nothing when you realize that one slice of regular whole wheat bread is 2 points and 5 points if you eat two of them in a sandwich. (Rounding – it’s not always in your favor!) But in an average day I eat about 25 points and I am literally never hungry nor do I feel deprived. How does one do this? You take advantage of the zero-points foods on the plan. Most fruit and vegetables are zero points so they do not count against your allowance. Here is a typical lunch for me with the points breakdown of each ingredient:

Vegetarian Wrap – 3 points

  • 1 low-carb tortilla : 2 points
  • 2 ounces mock refried beans : 1 point
  • 2 ounces sauteed onions and bell peppers : 0 points
  • 1/2 cup torn greens : 0 points
  • 10 grams of low-fat cheddar cheese : 0 points
  • 1/4 cup fat-free salsa : 0 points

It is easy to fill out the wrap with vegetables and other additions that are zero points. Adds bulk and flavor and nutrition without adding too many additional calories.

And to complete the meal, I usually have a “dessert” of 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese (2 points) topped with 1 cup of mixed berries. (0 points) This large meal is five points and will keep me going all the way until dinner.