Summer Memo

I know its not winter, but by the way Mother Nature has been treating us, I don’t think she got the memo… So on such a cold, rain day as today, I believe a warm, cozy, creamy meal is well called-for.

After seeing this recipe on Pintrest, I thought… I like veggies.. I like cheese… Makeover!!!

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Winter Veggie Casserole

6 servings

  • 12 oz package frozen Winter Blend vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower)
  • 12 oz package frozen California Blend vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots)
  • 1/2 7.5 oz pkg fat free shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 7.5 oz pkg fat free shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 4-5 oz can (2 servings per can) water chestnuts, sliced, drained
  • 1 8 oz can bean sprouts, drained
  • 1 can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup plain non fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup Dijionaise
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Dash of Pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In one bowl, combine the vegetables. In another bowl combine the cheeses, and in a third bowl combine the remaining ingredients (I also added a finely chopped jalepeno for heat). Add half the cheese mix to the bowl of food glue (the soup-yogurt-egg- spice combo). Once well-combined, evenly coat the mixed vegetables.

Spray a 9 x 13 dish with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer the coated vegetables to the dish, and evenly spread into the corners. Top the casserole with the remaining cheese blend.

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Bake for 1 hour, uncovered.

Nutrition: per 1/6

Calories:207, Fat: 1.1g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 1503mg, Carbs: 21g, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 5g, Protein: 24g

I served this with steak, and a doggie bag for pops to take with him. You could probably add the protein to the actual casserole, as well, and then bake it…. Or for a meatless meal, like I did, eat 1 1/2 servings for about 300 calories!

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Whats not to like? The crispy cheese shell? The creamy blend hiding just beneath it? Exactly! Dig in!

I started thinking about how versatile this recipe is. With the water chestnuts and bean sprouts, I began to think about playing on the Asian influences and tweaking this with Asian sauces and seasonings. I think my favorite part of the this were the carrots. I just love how cooking carrots brings out their naturals sugars and sweetness!!

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What’s Your Story?

Another year of a successful Vagina Monologue performances! We raised over a grand for Natasha’s Justice Project, all while empowering others and ourselves. This year, I was in three scenes: Wear and Say, The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could, a moan in Woman.

Wear and Say

Wear and Say

Middle Coochi  (ages

Middle Coochi
(ages 10 and 13)

The Starwars Moan

The Starwars Moan of “Woman”

I tell the girls of the cast the same thing every year, “I’m surrounded by 30 or so females, but this is the one place that I’m not afraid to change my clothes, goof off, be myself, by proud… Its because of you, ladies… ” They empower me. Most of us are complete strangers, but we end each year making new friends, finding common ground, and growing and being inspired by each other’s strengths.

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An Army of Vagina Warriors

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That O Face!

Cast Party Beer Pong

Cast Party Beer Pong

 

Still Friends since High School

Still Friends since High School

This year, a few weeks post the conclusion of the show, we got approval to host another event. This time, its OUR story. Any member that wanted to write and perform their OWN story, was welcome to do so. I knew immediately I wanted to participate.

I wanted to share the struggle and  the fight of perfectionism. The OCD that overcomes our minds. The hidden pain, anxiety, fear, and self mutilation that is experienced.

The following is MY story: Perfection

234 lbs. That was me 4 years ago.

She’s so pretty. Why can’t I be that pretty? She’s thin, and chesty, does her hair, make up… All the guys like her. God, I long to be in a bikini.

I hate going shopping for clothes. Another party? “ Sammy, how do I look,” she asks… “Wow,” I say, “fantastic.” In my mind, I’m crying. Someone hide me. Can’t I just curl up in a ball? Suck it in, Sam! Why am I always the third wheel? Why doesn’t anyone like me? I’m a nice person…

Enough is enough! I can’t be the fat friend anymore! Run, Sammy Run! You can do it. No cookies, veggies please.

Yes! 5 more pounds gone! “You’ve lost the weight of a third grader, Sam! You need new clothes!” my friends say to me.” Sure! Let’s go shopping! No, I’m not hungry, but thank you.

I can’t sleep, I’m going to the gym. “Sammy, this is your second time going today,” she says “ we think you have a problem. You’re scaring us.” I storm out the door and spend the next two hours pedaling a stationary bike.

130 lbs! I can’t believe it!

Suck it Sam! Yes, I do have ribs! Wait! What is that? How can I still have stomach fat? No! No!

Walk everywhere…

150 calories? I think to myself, for one snack bar? No thank you. How many carbs are in this? No only 30 carbs a day for me!

Run! Damn it, Sam! Run, you fat ass!

Why? Why won’t this fat go away?!?!  I wish I could just cut it off!  Cut it off… Cut… It cuts so smoothly through my skin. Ahhh. I can breath. Again. Ahhh, yes.  I watch the blood drip down.

94 lbs.

I’m not eating today. No way. I need to work out.

I’m cooking daddy dinner. I don’t feel well. Oh man… “Dad!” I’m down. On the ground. “How many calories have you eaten today? “He yells to me. “50,” I reply.

Mom watches me sleep, fearing that each shallow breath would be my last.

“Samantha,” my boss say to me, “ You’re late, your weak, you’ve become a hazard to your patients and for the company. You need to resign or we’ll have to terminate you. ” No, not my patient’s. I can’t lose my patients.

12 weeks of FMLA. 12 weeks of crying, cutting, fasting, binging, purging. 12 weeks of no exercise. 12 weeks of denial, realization, bargaining with God, pleading for help, yet unable to actually help myself.

Physically, emotionally, spiritually weak.

140 lbs

I wake up at 3am and write.

From sound asleep, I awaken,          Frantic, Nervous, shaken,

My mind racing a mile a minute,           Pumping the brakes, but its in it to in it.

Memories of my past mistakes flashing before my eyes,            How did I? I could I? How will I survive?

Trembling, ashamed, wanting to cry,            This mind fuck is a game, wishing I would die.

Take me home, Heavenly Father,           I beg of you, please

I’m down here, screaming, crying,             Pleading on my knees

Swallow another handful to numb myself,              Oh God, I’m begging you for your help

This blood I bleed,          These scars I see

This pain I feel,          Shits getting too real

Hearts racing, hearts pounding,          All these thoughts, taunting, resounding

Grit my teeth, fists getting tighter,          Look out world, ’cause this bitch is a fighter

The good I’ve done,         The lives I’ve touched

It must outweigh,          This hatred of self

I am my enemy,          And you are my Savior

With your many blessing, Oh Lord,          My faith should never waiver

I did it once,          I can do it twice

Can’t hold me down,           I’m still alive

Dear Disease,

You don’t make me,          I make me

And your foolish games,          Can only strengthen me

The marks on my body,          I wear them with pride

They’re not a sign of weakness,            They’re proof I survived

That I thrive,          That I strive

To carry on,          Head held high

Watching my world around me crumble,          You reached out, Lord, grabbed my hand

Pulled me from the rubble,          You’re my rock, my hope

The light of my tunnel,            The strength getting me through this struggle.

154lbs

The constant comparison of her to me to her and her and her.  No one can see the pain behind the scrubs and the smile. I ride a rollercoaster. Never sure if the day will bring anxiety, if I can bring myself to have dinner with my family and friends, if I can pull myself out of bed in the morning, if I can control a binge, how many pills I will take, how deep the next cut will be…

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

 

Mama’s Lean-zagna

Meatloaf, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Chicken Noodle Soup, Honey Mustard… just a few of the make-overs I’ve done of my mom’s hit meal! But I cannot forget the lasagna!

Lean-Zagna

24 servings

  • 2 lbs 99% lean ground turkeyWP_007931
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried chopped onion
  • 4 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp granulated Splenda
  • (72oz+4lb3oz) (about 15 cups) your favorite sauce
  • 3 (11oz) bags fat free shredded mozzarella
  • 2 lbs fat free ricotta
  • 24 oz lasagna noodles (no-boil if possible)*
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat grated Parmesan

In a large pot, break up and brown the ground turkey. Make sure there are no chunks of meat, make it a nice fine ground. Over medium-low heat, add the spices and Splenda, and toss to coat the meat. Top with sauce, stir, cover, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Combine the ricotta and mozzarella in a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup of the mozzarella. Coat the bottom of a large pan, about 17 x 12 (this is the one time I choose a disposable pan, like a large rectangular roaster) with sauce. Line one layer of lasagna noodles, with edges slightly over lapping. Evenly distribute some of the cheese mix over the noodles. Ladle another ladle of sauce and use the back of the ladle to smooth and even out the layer. Place another of noodles down and repeat with the cheese and sauce. Repeat this process, reserving a small amount (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup) of the cheese mix, until you’re out of noodles (about 3 or 4 layers).

Top the last layer of noodles with the reserved cheese and the remaining sauce. Smooth out the layer with the back of the ladle and distribute the reserved mozzarella and the Parmesan topping.

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Bake for 90min. Let it rest 5 minutes before cutting (6 x 4) and serving.

*If NOT using no-boil, just ensure you make up for it by using more gravy (and by gravy, I mean sauce), because the noodles will absorb a decent amount of liquid, and no one wants a dry lasagna.

WP_007932Nutrition (per 1/24, 1 piece)

Calories:291, Fat: 3g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 902mg, Carbs: 37g, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 15g, Protein: 28g

**Nutrition info based off using an 80 cal sauce. If you use a lighter sauce, congrats! You cut more calories!

Oh man! All of the delicious flavor of mom’s lasagna without all the guilt!

While waiting for this to bake I put this together for my kitchen… I think after all my hard work I deserve a nice hunk of lean-zagna!

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What Time Is It?

Hey Kids! Do you know what time it is?????

Thats right! Happy Peanut Butter and Jelly Day!!!

You know if its a holiday involving any nut butter, I’ll know about it! A classic side kick to peanut butter is jelly, of course, and one of my favorite collections of such items is Polaner’s Sugar Free with Fiber collection! Well, recently, I’ve gotten on the mason jar bandwagon, and since doing so, have wanted to make  my own jam. Pops brought home a big container of blueberries and JAM, I mean, “BAM!” Don’t have a canner? No worries… Neither do I.

No Sugar Added Blueberry Jam

makes 16oz (approx. 32 Tablespoons

  • 2 cups blueberries or strawberries
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (zest would probably be a nice addition, as well)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp No Sugar Needed Pectin
  • 1/3 cup granulated Splenda

Mash blueberries to your preferred consistency. (I like chunks remaining, just makes it a bit more textured.) Transfer mashed blueberries to a medium pot with the water. Sprinkle with Splenda and pectin. Turn heat to medium high. Continue to stir constantly and you bring the mixture to a boil for 1 minute. Thats it!

Remove the pot from the heat, transfer mixture to clean jar(s). To seal jar(s), tighten the lids to a finger-tightness. If you have a canner, now is the time to use it… If not? Follow along:

In a large pot, place the sealed jars, and fill the pot with enough water to cover the top(s) of the jar(s). Bring to a boil. Check on the jar(s) every few minutes. Use a utensil to poke the center of the lid(s). If the lid dips when pressure is applied, continue to boil, rechecking the lid(s) every few minutes. Once the lid(s) are solid and no longer “pop,” turn off the heat, and carefully remove the jar(s), using tongs, and allow the jar(s) to cool at room temp. Then you can refrigerate.

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Go Ahead… SCHMEAR IT!!!

Nutrition (per tablespoon):

Calories:9, Fat: 0g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 0mg, Carbs: 1g, Fiber: 0g, Sugars: 1g, Protein: 0g

Fun Fact: What the heck is the difference between jelly, jam, and preserves??

The difference between them comes in the form that the fruit takes.

  • In jelly, the fruit comes in the form of fruit juice.

  • In jam, the fruit comes in the form of fruit pulp or crushed fruit (and is less stiff than jelly as a result).

  • In preserves, the fruit comes in the form of chunks in a syrup or a jam.

Thank you, howstuffworks.com!