Day 11 of South Beach

Late in the week, a little fishie swam up to my doorstep.

Actually it was a big fish, a very big King Salmon fish all the way from Alaskan waters to Dallas courtesy of my folks who wanted to share a little early summer seafood with all of their kids and grandkids who live in Dallas. So….my sibbies and I all had a fabulous treat the likes of which we don’t regularly enjoy (turns out King Salmon who swim all the way fresh from Alaska don’t come cheap!)

Thanks, Mom and Dad for the wonderful gift!

With the help of my four little darlings, I managed to chop this headless fish into steaks for everyone to enjoy. My brother Pete introduced me to the beauty of cedar plank cooking, and I am happy to say that for the first time, I managed to grill fish without overcooking it. Overcooking such a nice fish would have been tragic, no?

We used a little bit of EVOO, garlic, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary….slapped the fishie on the cedar planks

and they cooked up beautifully.

For the first time in over 16 years of marriage I attempted to cook artichokes for us to try…I thought they’d go nicely with our salmon.

Despite following directions to the “T”, my chokes were not nearly done when it was time for us to sit down to supper, so we had to put off tasting them till the next night, but no matter. We had some other leftover veggies on hand which subbed in nicely.

Everyone enjoyed their fish. Some of us loved it so much, we had four helpings’ worth! And still managed to clean our plates!

I gotta say, even if the fishie had NOT been “approved” South Beach fare, we’d have happily dug into such a wonderful supper anyway…in actuality, not only did it fit into our diet, it may be the yummiest meal we’ve had so far in Phase 1!

South Beach Goes to the Symphony!

Day 10 of South Beach was my little sis’ birthday…in honor of her special day, I want to do a shout out to Sandra, who has a fun, new blog starring my youngest nephew, Jacob, who is of course, one of the most adorable babies in the world.

Day 10 (also known as Friday) wrapped up a week of swim lessons for the youngest Horne, Acting Camp for our girl, and Wrestling Camp for the three boys. Whew, busy week! Who ever said summer was full of long, lazy relaxing days spent at the pool? Hmmm…maybe next week we’ll try a slower pace.

I got the harebrained idea mid-morning on Friday to take our kiddos over to Fort Worth in the evening to enjoy an outdoor concert put on by the FW Symphony in the Botanical Gardens. Called the hubby to see what he thought, and he loved the idea. We managed to surprise the kids, who had no idea about the evening plans. There were a LOT of questions during the car ride over. They’ve been to the Dallas Symphony several times, but we’ve never gone to hear the Fort Worth Symphony. The program was right up their alley, and part of the reason I chose this concert: all the music was from major motion pictures, including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and others. The music was really beautiful, and once the sun went down, there was an amazing laser light show set to the second half of the program, and the final piece of the evening included a fantastic fireworks display. Definitely a fun family night.

Supper was a picnic in the beautiful Botanic Gardens while we waited for the music to begin. I was so tempted to just drive through and grab food somewhere since the outing was a rather last-minute decision on an already-full day, but am thankful that in the end we managed to save money on eating out and stick to our diet.

For our meal, I whipped up two very simple salads which I packed into our cooler for us to enjoy. The first was a variation on an old favorite: Tomato/Basil/Mozzarella Salad with extra greens to stretch it farther:

Those little white things look a lot like marshmallows, but they are actually tiny fresh mozzarella balls! I used my favorite summer tomatoes: Camparis, which have a lovely sweet flavor. To these three wonderful ingredients i added some EVOO, splash of balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper, and a huge bunch of salad greens. All the various flavors melded beautifully together by the time we enjoyed our salad.

Our other salad was a Chicken Caesar which I threw together using a breast from a rotisserie chicken, a bunch of romaine, some gratings of parmesan, and a bottled Caesar dressing.

The salad supper was perfect considering the very hot evening, and neither of us were hungry at all after enjoying such wonderful fare.

What a lovely start to the weekend this was! My handsome hubby and my beautiful girl together:

Sweet boys chomping on supper while they waited for the performance to begin:

This cute little guy actually spent much of the evening in my lap despite the hot and sweaty temps!

He amused himself by trying to take the perfect self-portrait of the two of us…I deleted close to 50 of his “masterpieces” much to his dismay, but here is one that I kept:

along with one more sorta artsy-looking one:

Seven Months on the Wait List

Several folks have asked about adoption updates…thanks to all our family and friends who love us so much, and have shown such kind support to us throughout our adoption journey so far. I apologize for the amazing dearth of posts on our adoption in these last couple of months.

Part of the reason I haven’t posted much about our adoption recently is because things are currently changing in Ethiopia regarding the process and timelines, and there just isn’t much news to share. I wish that was not the case, but it is. At this point, we continue to wait with faith in God’s timing and with hopeful hearts. In reality, we do not know at this point what our timeline for a referral and court dates will look like anymore. Which is admittedly, hard. Really, really hard.

There have been a fair amount of tears, questions, and wonderings about what the future holds, not just for our family but for many other families in various stages of the process to adopt from Ethiopia. Our agency, Gladney is just one of several who work with the Ethiopian government to facilitate adoption and other forms of aid and support to the people of this country. As adoption processes appear to be growing more lengthy and possibly more complex, there is also the question about what is in store for the 5 million plus orphans that currently live in Ethiopia.

Today marks 7 months for our family on the wait list for a referral. I told our children about the date this morning, and Josiah asked excitedly, “Does that mean we get to bring Little Sister home today?” Yeah, so at 5 years of age, he still doesn’t truly comprehend the intricacies of the process, including the two trips we’ll ultimately be making to Ethiopia! But I love, love, love his enthusiasm!

While we continue to wait, there are little encouragements along the way. We enjoyed a very sweet encouragement this past Sunday at church. Every six weeks we serve as teachers in one of New St. Peter’s Worship Training Classes; the highlight for me of our class this past week was welcoming a new student: a beautiful little girl all the way from Ethiopia who was recently adopted by sweet friends. Oh it did my heart good to see her. She was precious: so eager and ready to participate in everything, an enthusiastic singer during worship, an attentive listener to everything that was said, and she has a smile that warms my heart. So glad she is finally home.

But even as I think of her being home with her family, I know that the road that brought her to them was full of hard, hard things. Because the sad truth is that for there to be a need for adoption to take place, it means that huge loss has already occurred. For every adoption, there is first pain, heartbreak, and loss. Loss beyond what many of us can probably fully comprehend. To see God taking such loss, redeeming a little one from a hopeless situation and bringing them into a family where they are loved so deeply is beautiful. It doesn’t remove the loss, but it redeems it, providing a future and a hope. A family.

The following is one of my favorite verses about adoption…I pretty much cannot even read it these days without tears filling my eyes as I think of those who are lonely, and who continue to wait. My heart hopes and prays for a day when there are no more orphans, no more lonely ones. Praise be to God for redemption, seen so beautifully in the miracle of adoption.

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.”

– Psalm 68:5-6

 

 

 

Re-Creating the Chipotle Burrito Bowl…on Day 7 of South Beach

Well, I decided that our Burrito Bowls Jay brought home from Chipotle yesterday were so wonderful that I would do my best to create an in-home version for our next supper time meal. I tried out a new recipe which cooked the chicken in the crockpot while we were away in the afternoon.

While not quite as amazing as Chipotle’s burrito bowls, these were really good!!

We had chicken and refried black beans (which are a fun change from both plain old refried beans as well as the simple black beans) topped with sauteed onions and peppers

 

Avocado

 

Lowfat cheese

 

Lettuce

 

 

and a little fresh cilantro to finish it off:

 

We had plenty of our favorite salsa

But sadly, no Tia for Jay or I. Oh Tia, how I have missed you these last 7 days!!

Certain parties might have had a bit of fun with us over our inability to consume copious amounts (or actually, any amount!) of our dearly beloved corn chips.

I gotta say, our improvised burrito bowls were really yummy as South Beach meals have gone, but I miss either some rice to go underneath it all, or a wonderfully carb-filled tortilla to wrap around all of it. Sorry if I sound like a Debbie Downer, I’m just keepin’ it real, folks!!

So….

After a week on South Beach, Phase 1, did we see any results? Or should I clarify, any quantifiable results? The answer is “yes”, definitely, but you will have to wait till the Day 8 Post to hear what they are.  I will be back tomorrow to say hello to our blog, but I will not be writing about South Beach.

So….with that little bit of a teaser, I would like to close out Day 7 by sharing the following recipe which I found and modified to suit us…and which resulted in some nice ‘n’ spicy chicken to use in our burrito bowls:

 

Chipotle Chicken:

1 (7 ounce) can chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons oregano
4 cloves garlic
1 red onion, quartered
1/8 cup oil (canola/vegetable/olive)
4 chicken breasts chicken (note: Chipotle actually uses dark meat, I’m pretty sure)

Combine chipotle pepper and remaining ingredients except for chicken in a bowl, and puree with a hand blender.

At this point, the recipe suggested marinating the chicken for several hours or overnight and then grilling or cooking inside on a grill pan…

OR

Throwing all the ingredients into a crockpot, cooking on low for 10-12 hours or high for 4-6. Which is what I did, given I knew I’d be away from home during the last few hours before suppertime.

You will have meat that falls off the bone because it’s so tender and the consistency is similar to a stew! You can add 1 cup of a stock or broth to keep it from drying out.


Day 6…Chipotle on South Beach

Day 6 was more eventful than I would have liked, and not because of our South Beach diet. Late in the afternoon, while on the way to purchase a quick drive-through supper for my children, so I could grab eldest son from wrestling camp and allow him to eat/change in the car while we drove across town to his last baseball game of the season, which we’d hoped to enjoy as a family….I had a “fender bender” of sorts. I will not go into detail other than to say this was one of my more traumatic car accidents I’ve been in, and I’ve been in two others which qualified as pretty serious. We are all ok, and the other party involved appears alright, and for this I am incredibly thankful.

The evening didn’t turn out the way we’d planned, and the hour was late when Jay finally returned home with our ballplayer, whom I personally think looks adorable in his uniform, but you can’t tell a 10 year old boy that to his face.

 

My dear husband was kind enough to bring supper for the two of us since I was in no state to cook.  We each enjoyed a Chipotle burrito bowl, which I hear can actually be more healthy than their salads depending on what you choose to put in yours!

 

 

None of their wonderful rice (which we LOVE!), since that’s off limits right now. But we enjoyed chicken or beef (depending on which one of us you talk to), black beans, a sprinkling of cheese, fajita veggies, salsa, and lettuce. Jay nixed the fajita veggies in favor of adding sour cream to his. All very delicious, and even in line with Phase 1 requirements.

Personally for me, after a less than relaxing afternoon, it took an awful lot of willpower to pass up enjoying a relaxing glass of wine with our meal, but I contented myself with water (and a lot of prayer!).

For future reference, a Barbacoa Burrito Bowl at Chipotle with their delicious beef, black beans, cheese, lettuce, and tomato salsa has only 410 calories and 17 grams of fat. This in comparison to their Chicken Salad with chicken, lettuce, black beans, red salsa, cheese and chipotle honey vinaigrette which packs a whopping 720 calories and 41 grams of fat. As most of my readers likely are aware, salad isn’t always the healthier choice!

Day 5 on the Beach…

Day 5 on the beach went well. Since it was Sunday, I had my diet partner around for the second day in a row which is great because we can commiserate  together keep each other accountable to stay on track. After church in the morning, swimming with friends in the afternoon, and a baseball game for our oldest son in the early evening, we wanted something cool and fresh-feeling for supper.

I grabbed some already-cooked shrimp, threw together a garden salad with some fresh veggies and low fat blue cheese, and we reheated our asparagus from Day 2 for our second side. Once again I forgot to take the picture before we began to eat, so you get to enjoy seeing my plate partway full of food!

As you can see from my hastily-snapped photo, we enjoyed cocktail sauce with our shrimp. Which raises the topic of sauces: ketchup and other condiments often have too high of a sugar content to earn the “South Beach” stamp of approval. I purchased a low sugar ketchup to use in making our cocktail sauce

added a goodly amount of horseradish and lemon juice, and voila! we could dip our shrimp!

Last night as we sat down to watch the Mavs win the Championship (YAY Mavs, you ROCK!!), it hit me: no wonder I can lose weight on this South Beach diet: every time I feel an urge to reach for a snack of something I love, I am immediately struck by the thought that “I can’t eat that, because it’s not on the diet!”. ARGH!

Almost everything I would eagerly reach for to snack upon is forbidden for now. I would expect all the sweet stuff to be off limits: the wonderful yummy things like ice cream and cookies, cake, brownies, pancakes dripping with maple syrup, french toast. Sure, ok. The challenge for me with South Beach is that even healthy snacks like fruit, popcorn, wheat crackers and cheese, apple and peanut butter…none of it is allowed right now in Phase 1. I can still have the cheese (low fat) and peanut butter (low fat, no sugar) but they seem sad and lonely without their carb-ful sides/dippers. And so far I have not learned to love veggies and cheese or veggies and peanut butter.

Well, I have learned one thing about myself at least: I enjoy my carbs, and I enjoy my snacking. I think it’s safe to say that both Jay and I are practically fantasizing about the healthy carbs we will finally be able to enjoy again in exactly 9 days (not that we are counting!) once Phase 1 of the diet is complete.

In the meantime, we like what our scales read in the morning, and I am greatly encouraged by feeling like I fit in my clothes again properly. When you are 5’4″, a few extra pounds really do impact you quickly, and they can make everything feel so uncomfortable! I am also thrilled to report that my energy levels continue to feel very, very good even, really much better than they’ve been in months. Almost makes saying “no” to some of my favorite things completely worth it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being grumpy about missing some of my favorite snackie foods for now. Well, I gotta run…I hear a tomato calling me. DELISH!

South Beach Hits the Road

Day 4:

We spent Day 4 of South Beach: Phase 1 on the road as we had an out of town funeral to attend in honor of a friend. We left our house shortly after 6 am and returned around 6pm. I commented to Jay that given we planned to be on the road, we probably shouldn’t attempt to hold ourselves too strictly to South Beach, because it would likely prove challenging, and we were already in for a rather long day. Remember how I told you that he has tremendous will-power? He would hear none of my waffling. He responded that of course we were going to stick to our diet, we could absolutely make it work, even if we did plan to spend eight hours of the day in the car, driving!!

So…I am here to tell you that following South Beach on the road is actually doable, at least in our very, admittedly, isolated experience of one day!! Given our tummy troubles from the day before, we limited veggie consumption early in the day. Breakfast consisted of coffee with non fat half ‘n’ half and splenda, plain lowfat yogurt and hard boiled eggs, all of which I packed from home.

For our morning snack we enjoyed a handful of nuts.

I assumed we’d try to find some restaurant for lunch that would serve meat and veggies. As Providence would have it, the flat tire from last week, which had been repaired, began leaking air again during our drive. It had to be repaired before we attempted to drive home. Immediately after the funeral we checked our maps for the closest Discount Tire store, and mapped the location of the nearest restaurant to the store. (Since we’d have to walk to lunch in 100 degree Texas heat, with one of our party still sporting a severely broken toe, something farther away just wouldn’t do.)

And thankfully there was a Wendy’s right next door. Yay!

After looking over their menu (keep in mind NO starchy carbs are allowed these first 2 weeks: that means no bread, nothing with a bread coating on it, and no potatoes) I chose a small cup of chili, a small side salad, and their grilled chicken sandwich minus the bun and sauce (since sugar is out, so is honey mustard). Oh, and I had a lowfat milk. I finished only half my salad and chicken, packing the rest for home. That chili was about the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted!

Jay also had a cup of chili, and opted for one of their Cobb salads.

In all honesty, neither the blue cheese nor the bacon in his salad was lowfat, so he did cheat a bit, but all in all I think we did very well!

Our afternoon snack (the creator of South Beach strongly suggests enjoying both a mid morning and mid-afternoon snack) was again, a handful of nuts. Admittedly, had I found time to pack a cooler we would have had more cold options available as snacks.

We arrived home just in time for supper. To keep things easy, we threw tuna “burgers” on the grill, and I popped a “steam in the bag” pack of Edamame into the microwave. Meanwhile, for our second side, I tried another “South Beach” recipe I have seen in my cookbooks.

Surprise South Beach Mashed “Potatoes”:

  • 4 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 ounce “smart” butter (I used Smart Balance)
  • 1-2 ozs fat-free half-and-half
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch cracked pepper
  • thyme, to taste
  • lowfat parmesan cheese (just a sprinkling!)
  •  

    Steam or microwave cauliflower until soft. Puree cauliflower in food processor and add butter, half and half, and all spices to taste, mixing to blend. Finish off with a sprinkling of the cheese.

    (Notes) I added the thyme and cheese to enhance the flavor of the dish. I also didn’t want to bother with the food processor, so ended up trying first the hand-held mixer, and then the hand-held blender to mash the cauliflower. Small bits of cauli flew all around, so the folks who suggested using the processor seem to have known what they were talking about. Just saying.

    Everyone says this recipe “will fool people” into thinking they are eating mashed potatoes. While we did not agree with this conclusion, we really did enjoy this dish, and I will plan to make it again.

    I forgot to take a picture before we ate, so had to use the empty box to represent our tuna burgers!

    I am happy to report that our tummies did indeed recover from the ickiness of Day 4. We’ll see how we do from here on out.

    Days 2 and 3 “on the Beach”

    Day 2:

    Day 2 on the beach went alright. We successfully stayed away from the carbs and sugars we are eliminating for right now. Supper looked like this (from my point of view, it was missing a nice baked potato or other equally delicious rendering of this most beloved starch, and maybe in general was a bit heavy on the green veggies, but all in all very tasty!):

    And after supper the two oldest children helped me bake a “delicious” Lemon Ricotta Creme Souffle, an SB Phase 1-approved dessert. Now, if I’m being completely honest, only the book claimed it was delicious. I personally give it a rating of “so so”, but admittedly, I am a fan of the white flour, sugar, and butter!! Still, this was interesting and I’m glad we tried it. But in the future I will likely spare myself the work to bring about this end result.

    With that rave review and since I am now posting the recipe, I know you are going to race straight to the kitchen and whip up some of this souffle for you and the ones you love….but before you do that, check below for the Day 3 report.

    Creamy Lemon Vanilla Ricotta Souffles:

    1 cup part-skim ricotta

    2 large eggs, separated

    3 tbs granular sugar substitute

    2 tsp grated lemon zest

    1/2 tsp lemon extract

    1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    pinch salt

    Preheat oven to 375. Coat 4 ramekins with cooking spray.

    In a large bowl, whisk ricotta, egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of the sugar substitute, lemon zest, lemon extract, and vanilla until combined.

    In another bowl, with an electric mixer (I used a handheld) at high speed, beat egg whites and salt till soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes. Add remaining 2 tbs sugar substitute and continue beating till stiff peaks form. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into ricotta mixture till combined. Repeat with remaining egg whites.

    Spoon ricotta mixture into prepared ramekins

    and bake till souffles have risen and are set and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

     

    So yes, these are the finished product. Please note that the dark spot in my picture above is not a roach, but a little section of our countertop which has peeled away from the rest of the formica. And yes, those are a set of goggles and some sunscreen in the photo; I am trying hard to just capture a slice of real life here.

    After tasting my souffle, I decided a sprinkle of cinnamon and some very light whipped cream (has less than 1g of sugar per serving so I don’t think I am cheating too awfully) added something to the overall enjoyment.

    Day 3:

    Day 3 on the beach started out just fine. Despite fantasizing hourly about gooey chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven, I was greatly encouraged by my morning weigh-in (actually the creator of the diet really discourages weigh-ins, but on this point I really do not listen well). Feeling more comfortable already in my clothing was quite encouraging, and Jay said he could tell a difference at his weigh-in too. So in spite of our cravings for the carbs we missed, we felt motivated to press on.

    And then around midday, our tummies began rumbling in a most unpleasant way. I’ll spare you most of the details, but let’s just say that for the remainder of the day there were plenty of strange gurglings and many other unpleasant symptoms we experienced. Due to our little woes, supper on Day 3 consisted of a couple of spoonfuls of plain yogurt. With a side of Immodium.

    Frankly, this was the hardest stage of the diet for me so far. When my tummy is sad, all I want are some saltines and then maybe a nice plain 1/2 a bagel, slightly warm from my toaster. Even a plain frozen waffle feels comforting (after it is toasted, and no longer frozen, of course). I google searched for “what to eat on South Beach Phase 1 when you have _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ” but found nothing helpful. I did learn that we are not the first South Beachers to experience this most unpleasant side effect. Some attribute it to possibly the extra fiber in one’s diet during this first phase, while others believe it to be a combination of the fiber and the consumption of some sugar substitutes which are known to cause stomach upset in some people.

    Regardless, I give Jay credit for helping me to stay “on the beach” on Day 3. I feel certain I would have just given up and grabbed myself a saltine or two had he not held firm. Let’s hear it for awesome hubbies!

    Accidental Recipes and the Best Broccoli Ever!

    A couple of days ago we returned home from a trip to Target to discover

    1 – We had a flat tire

    and

    2 – The large freezer in the garage was apparently defrosting inside, despite the door being firmly shut.

    The tire had to wait till the next day for my sweet husband to attend to it (thankful both that Jay saw to the tire, and that he kindly switched cars with me so that I could ferry the rest of us to our appointment we needed to keep that morning).

    The freezer worried me a little (had it stopped working suddenly?) but after a thorough questioning of the troops, I discovered that a little blonde-headed tyke had come upon the door slightly ajar earlier in the day (likely thanks to the youngest member of the family) and had dutifully shut it immediately, but didn’t realize he should maybe let the Momma of the house know.

    The only food greatly affected other than my beloved Tin Roof ice cream appeared to be a package of pork chops near the opening, which I snatched out of the (mostly still) icy box, and took to the kitchen for a thorough inspection. Deeming them still slightly frozen and safe to cook with, I rinsed them with water, then dumped them into a ziplock bag with the following hastily-concocted marinade:

    Grilled Pork Chops (aka the main supper course on Day one of South Beach Phase 1):

    7-ish pork loin chops

    1/2 cup remaining white balsamic vinaigrette in the fridge (Wow, I just learned how to spell “vinaigrette” been doing it wrong for years!)

    splash of low sodium soy sauce

    few more splashes balsamic vinegar

    couple splooshes of dijon mustard (yes, I did say “Sploosh”…if you are wondering, I think a “sploosh” is just a tad larger than a “splash”.)

    Toss into fridge overnight. Heat grill, and plop the pork chops on the rack. Cook till done, give yourself bonus points for nice dark grill marks in special patterns on either side of the lovely chops.

    You can see that we also enjoyed broccoli that first night. Shout-out to my friend Chrys, mom to four boys ages 5 and under (God bless her) and the wonderful woman who shared this recipe with me. It is absolutely my favorite way to enjoy this delicious vegetable.

    Oven-Roasted Broccoli:

    About a pound (maybe 2 heads?) of broccoli, cut into pieces

    2-ish cloves of minced garlic

    2 tbs olive oil

    sea salt to taste

    fresh cracked pepper to taste

    Fresh lemon juice (use half a lemon)

    (optional) small sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese

    Toss broccoli with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. You careful cooks will do this in a bowl, me, I hate to get one more dish dirty so I just toss it all together on the cookie sheet I’m going to roast with. Pop the broccoli into a 425 degree oven, and roast about 10 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges. It will smell wonderful!! Remove from oven, spritz all over with the lemon juice, and if you like, sprinkle with parmesan. Now: try to keep from eating the entire panful before supper starts!!

    Note: I will sometimes add cauliflower to the mix for fun, and to change the recipe up a bit. Ina Garten also has a wonderful take on this recipe, it makes about four times the amount listed here, and adds some additional ingredients which look delicious. I see Ina tosses her broccoli with the garlic and olive oil right there in the pan, too, so I consider myself in very good company!