Mar 23, 2015

Homemade Mayonnaise

This recipe and photo comes to us from key-friends Andrea and Emily. Use this homemade mayo the same way you use jarred mayo. Andrea kicked things up a bit by adding garlic and grey poupon and dill to add a little more flavor to her egg salad.
Garlicky grey poupon mayo topped with dill.
Photo by Andrea
Important Tip: about 1.5 hours before you're going to make this mayo, set out your eggs, lemon, and mustard, so they are reach room temperature when you begin to make this recipe.

  • 2 whole pastured eggs
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. prepared mustard
  • 2 cups light olive oil (not a vegetable blend)
  1. Blend eggs, vinegar, salt, and mustard in a food processor or an immersion blender
  2. While machine is running, VERY SLOWLY add oil.
  3. Continue until all of the oil has been added and the eggs and oil have formed an emulsion or Mayonnaise. 
  4. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.
  5. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Photo by key-friend Emily who followed Andrea's recipe.

Original recipe source: Homemade Mayonnaise

Mar 19, 2015

Foodies Beware

Watch and learn—or in the case of food television watchers: watch and gain. This morning I watched a segment of the Today Show about a new study that suggests a correlation between watching TV cooking shows and weight gain. What?
To top it off, NBC’s Kerry Sanders reports (in the video above) "social media doesn't help because people pass around recipes and the pictures of all the food." Pictures which he refers to as food porn. OMG.

After watching this story, I ran upstairs to my computer to do a little research. Sure enough, I quickly found a handful of articles (see excerpts and links below).

Prior to seeing this story and these articles, I thought watching cooking shows was a healthy indulgence. The thought that these shows may increase my appetite crossed my mind, but I pushed such thoughts away.

Seeing non-key foods on social media doesn't bother me. However, I prefer not to read the details about food dreams or specific food cravings from key people in my social media environments. It just seems wrong to talk about non-key foods, especially deserts, in a group where people are not eating those foods.  They don't trigger me to go off my program, but why put others at risk? Share the dream, but leave out the food descriptions.

The bottom line for me, after seeing this story and reading a handful of articles, is that I'm going to think twice about watching cooking shows. Foodie that I am, I don't need to put my weight loss journey at risk.

Article Links and Excerpts

According to a Cornell University survey of about 500 women in their 20s and 30s, there's an 11-pound difference between the "doers" (the women watching and cooking) compared with the "viewers" (the women who watched but didn't cook). The bottom line: "Being a doer may put you at risk for packing on extra pounds." Do TV Cooking Shows Make Us Fat?, NPR March 18, 2015

Lizzy Pope of the University of Vermont, suggests “Food show executives and hosts need to realize they are social role models and have a role to play in battling obesity and health care costs. They can be part of the solution or continue contributing to a major problem.” —Food TV Could Be Harmful to Your Health, Newswise, March 17, 2015

Mar 18, 2015

To Refresh or Not Refresh?

The question for today is: To Refresh or Not Refresh? Many of you want to know "is it required to go to a refresher?" and "why should I go to one?" The later is a question that only you can answer for yourself. There are various opinions on this--but no, it is not required. I've written a handful of blog posts about my experiences, so today we'll hear what our key-friend Elise has to say about refreshers.
Elise in her before size 16/18 and today size 02 -- look at that smile!
I definitely think refreshers can be useful for folks. For many, I think just hearing Julie's powerful voice is helpful. For others, hearing a repeat of the rules and making a re-commitment to the process is necessary. I even think that, sometimes, making the appointment and committing the funds is enough to keep folks on track.

Here's an elaboration on why I haven't been to one:
  1. I'm lazy. Booking it, waiting for it, and then going all take energy.
  2. It is kind of expensive, although that's OK with me.
  3. Julie said she gave us everything in the first sessions.
When I have had questions or doubts, I sit down and think it through. I decided that if I am ever going to resolve my yo-yo weight, I need to get to a place of peace with myself. I have to learn to read my body and I have to learn to make my own decisions.

So, I have very consciously and deliberately worked through struggles and quandaries with the goal of using the tools Julie gave me to get to the end.

Here's an example: my first year on Key, I was at a plateau. I was frustrated and upset. In the past, I would have handled this by saying 'screw it' and bingeing. But, this time, I thought about how my body needed to heal and reabsorb blood vessels and extra cells that had been necessary when I had more weight on me.

I looked at my eating and thought through the rules and whether or not I was following them. I found some areas that I was being excessive in (um, like drinking a 1/2 gallon of whole milk every day)!

I changed my routine, stopped obsessing...and started losing weight again!

Getting through that was empowering. It made me feel like, yeah, I really can do this! That, in turn, fed my confidence and good behavior.

Ultimately, each cycle and each time I worked through my issues I was creating new habits. In other words, each time I work through something I am practicing Julie's principle of example. If I had gone to refreshers, I would have been relying on Julie for that power instead of believing in myself.

 For little things, it was helpful to also work through it in my head...
Was I really hungry or was I just eating because it tasted good?
Was I really using cheese like a condiment or was I pushing the envelope? 
I didn't want someone telling me the answer. I wanted to retrain my body and my mind to work together, honestly and in synchronicity, to reach the same answers to all the questions I had (and I will continue to have).

But, I also think I've had it easy compared to others. I barely have cravings and I've been lucky enough to escape super long plateaus.

To refresh or not's a personal question custom to each person's experience.
Elise in
Elise in February 2015
Hmmm, I don't know about you, but I can relate to Elsie's comment about finding "areas that I was being excessive" far more than I care to admit. This in of itself is a reason you may be on a plateau. Proceed with cation if this is the case. Elsie's suggestion to "stop obsessing" is also wise wisdom!

Related Stories

Mar 14, 2015

Fish Cakes

Key-friend Gail Ann, who made up this recipe, says "With this diet we have to become creative. Play around with the recipe. I may use turnip next time." It's this kind of willingness that helps us succeed on this program. Thanks for sharing your recipe and your photos Gail Ann!
Fish Cakes
  • 2-1/4 lbs of uncooked cod chopped in blender
  • 1 head of cauliflower steamed and mashed with a pat of butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • A bunch of fresh dill chopped
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg white whisked
  • Salt, pepper, celery salt, paprika
  1. Mix all together and make little patties. 
  2. Bake 375 on greased cookie sheet for about 20 minutes per side until nicely browned.
Steamed and mashed cauliflower with butter and fresh dill
Mix all ingredients together and make little patties

Mar 11, 2015

Shrimp Scampi & Noodles

This is a recipe I've been making for over a year now and I can't believe I haven't posted this recipe before now. I take a shortcut by using frozen shrimp that comes with pats of herb butter. I know I could make this completely from scratch, but this shrimp goes on sale a lot, so I use my shortcut. I've perfected this recipe and highly recommend it.
Shrimp Scampi with zucchini noodles. Photo by Theresa
You may want to double this recipe, as I eat this all by myself. Also, be mindful of your protein to veggie ratio and adjust the recipe accordingly or have additional meat on the side.
  • 1 package of Bumble Bee Lemon Shrimp with Garlic & Herb - see image below
  • 1 medium sized zucchini (or yellow squash)
  • 2 cubes of frozen basil (or 2 teaspoon of fresh basil) - see image below
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Black pepper
  1. Use a spirooli to turn your zucchini into "noodles" (see image below) and keep them nearby to add later to the shrimp. 
  2. Place shrimp in skillet or wok - do not pre-heat pan - and set burner to medium-high. Do not add the butter to the pan yet.
  3. Cook shrimp for 4 minutes, turning frequently.
  4. Leaving the liquid from in the pan, pull the shrimp out of the pan and place in a bowl and put to the side for now.
  5. Add the 4 pats of butter to the liquid in the pan, as this will turn into a delicious broth.
  6. Add red pepper flakes and black pepper on top of the butter.
  7. Stir frequently as the butter melts.
  8. As the butter is melts, peel the skin off the shrimp.
  9. When the butter is almost all melted, add the zucchini noodles to the pan.
  10. Continue to stir for about a minute and then add the shrimp.
  11. The shrimp only need to cook about a minute longer, until they are no longer pink, and the noodles should be done about the same time as the shrimp.
  12. Pour shrimp, noodles, and broth into a bowl with the broth.
  13. Optional: sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top.
Use your spirooli to make noodles from zucchini or yellow squash.
Photo by Theresa
Bumble Bee Lemon Shrimp with Garlic & Herbs
Cubes of frozen basil

Watch Your Step

I'm not referring to icy walking conditions when I say watch your step. I'm taking about not stepping on the scale, because that one step can lead to a major slide on your weight loss journey. The urge to get on the scale can be as strong as the urge to eat sugar (or any non-key food). Avoid getting on the scale using the same technique you use to avoid eating sugar: push away urges to get on the scale.
Watch your step. Photo by Theresa
I kept my scale scale all these years because it was because the most beautiful and the most expensive scale I'd ever owned. Sad, but true. Once in a while I was aware of my scale resting between the bathroom cabinet and the wall, but I never stepped on it once I started this weight loss journey.

That beautiful scale, by the way, is no longer in my bathroom and guess what? I have no memory of who I gave it to or when. None. Zippo. Once in a while I look at that empty space between the bathroom cabinet and the wall and I wonder: why on earth did I keep that scale for so long?

There were many times that I was dying to know my weight and I was fortunate my home scale never tempted me. I coached my nurse practitioner and her staff really well, so they never accidentally told me anything weight related. I really wanted to ask two questions, but I didn't dare ask: Am I under 200 pounds yet? and Have I dropped a hundred pounds?

A recent 'incident' answered both questions for me. Trust me, you are better off not knowing such answers. If you stumble or fall and suddenly the number is in front of you: don't share it with others and forget it as quickly as you can. This sounds easier said than done, but if you don't repeat the number you don't see the number over and over. This is especially true if you post the number in social media- don't share the number with anyone.

By the way, you will not lose all the knowledge you learned from Julie because you saw your weight, whether you sought the number out or it was revealed to you accidentally. It's what you do after knowing the number that determines what happens next in your weight loss journey, so don't repeat the number - just move on. Use the situation as a reminder as to why you should stay off the scale.

Why shouldn't you get on the scale? Because seeing how much you weigh messes with you head and can lead to a big setback on your weight loss journey. There are more reasons than this, but do you really need more reasons than this? No you don't, but let me simplify this for you...

Step on the scale and you risk telling yourself one of two things:
I'm doing so well, I deserve a treat!or
I may as well give up, no matter what I eat this weight isn't coming off.
Regardless of what the scale reads, the truth is this:
if you stay on the course you are on - you will continue to lose weight.
Watch your step - don't get on the scale. If you have a scale in your house and it's calling your name, do something with that scale right now.

Push back on those urges to get on the scale and they will go away--or as I like to say: tap, tap, tap. Share your non-scale victories - these are the stories to share with others - stories of you success. See earlier blog posts of non-scale victories in the related stories list below.

Allow yourself to reach your goal size and to live the rest of you life focusing on living instead of worrying about a number on a scale. You can do this!

Related Stories 

Mar 10, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust

Veggie crust pizzas are the rage these days, so I'm posting yet another pizza recipe. This one uses spaghetti squash for the crust. I've only made meat crust pizza, but one fine day I will try making these other pizzas, so I'm posting this recipe for easy reference.  You'll need a knife and fork to eat this pizza.
Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust with meat topping.
Photo by Megan
Key-contributor Megan made this recently and here's what she had to say:
Definitely tasty. I added lots of meat to offset the spaghetti squash and small amount of sauce that I used. It was crisp around the edges but the middle was mushy. I'd definitely make it again and hopefully get it more crisp. I flipped the crust, but I think I made it too thick in the middle.
Megan and her husband Lou teamed up and make this pizza again and here's an update from Megan...
Lou's pesto was the key! I sautéed onion and red peppers in olive oil. Added cooked grilled chicken and pesto and warmed it through. Brushed the crust with pesto, added the topping and some cheese. OMG, this is the most delicious meal I've had in a long time! I have to make myself stop eating!
Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust with Chicken, Onion, and Peppers.
Photo by Megan and Lou
See additional photos of Megan and Lou's pizza preparations below recipe.

Cook Time
1 hour 15 minutes

Crust Ingredients 
Modify herbs to suit your taste

  • 1 medium/large spaghetti squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (or you may use 2 egg white)
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano, dried
  • 1 tsp parsley, dried
Topping Ingredients
Modify ingredients to suit your taste
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 diced onion
  • 1/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 1 cup fresh torn spinach
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Bacon
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  2. Cut spaghetti squash in half with a large, sharp knife. 
  3. Remove seeds and stringy guts, and brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. 
  4. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. 
  5. Place spaghetti squash, cut side down, on an aluminum-lined baking sheet and roast until tender, about 45-60 minutes. 
  6. Test if your squash is done: scrap the flesh with a fork and if the strands come off easily, it's done. 
  7. Let the cooked spaghetti squash cool for about 5 minutes, then scrape all the flesh into a beautiful pile of spaghetti strands. 
  8. Taste and season with some more Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper if needed. 
  9. Measure out approximately 3 and ½ cups of spaghetti squash. Reserve the rest for another use. 
  10. Wrap measured-out squash in a cheesecloth, clean kitchen towel, or several layers of paper towels. 
  11. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Let sit for a few minutes. The drier the squash, the more crispy the crust can get.
  12. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the squash, egg, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and season with salt, black pepper, minced garlic, oregano, and parsley.
  13. Press squash in a thin, even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and form into an approximate 10-inch circle.
  14. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. 
  15. Remove from oven, carefully flip, and cook for another 10 minutes. Note, some recipes don't flip the crust, they just cook it longer.
  16. Spread the pizza sauce over the crust and add toppings.
  17. Bake another 10 - 15 minutes - until cheese is bubbly and edges of crust are browned. You can place under the broiler for a minute or two if you really want to brown things up. 
  18. Let sit for about 5 minutes before cutting. 
  19. You can use the parchment paper to slide it off the pan to make it easier to cut. Run a butter knife around the edge to loosen from the sides of the pan.
Additional photos from Lou and Megan of their recipe process:
Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust with Pesto.
Photo by Megan and Lou
Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust with Pesto.
Photo by Megan and Lou
  Sauteing toppings: chicken, onion, and peppers.
Photo by Megan and Lou
Ready to serve Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust with Chicken, Onion, and Peppers.
Photo by Megan and Lou

Original recipe source: Yummly.

Roasted Cauliflower

I made roasted cauliflower a few days ago and it's now one of my favorite key-friendly foods. The original recipe is called "cauliflower popcorn," but I agree with my key-friends who make this all the time — cauliflower popcorn sounds too misleading — it's not at all popcorn-like. Call it what you like, but make this soon and make it often! It was so delicious I didn't event take a photo.
Roasted Cauliflower
  • 1 head of cauliflower (or equal amount of commercially pre-cut cauliflower)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • salt to taste (1⁄2-1 teaspoon, optional)
  1. Turn oven on to 425 degrees.
  2. Trim the head of cauliflower, discarding the core and thick stems; cut florets into pieces about the size of ping-pong balls.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil and salt, whisk, then add the cauliflower pieces and toss thoroughly.
  4. Spread the cauliflower pieces onto a baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, turning 3 or 4 times, until most of each piece has turned golden brown. 
  5. The browner the cauliflower pieces turn, the more caramelization occurs and the sweeter they'll taste.
Other Suggestions
  • For easy cleanup line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Sprinkle granulated garlic or roast fresh garlic along with the cauliflower.
  • When it comes out of the oven sprinkle lightly with Parmesan.
  • Make a cream of cauliflower soup using cauliflower, chicken stock, and shallots, and just before serving add caramelized cauliflower.
When I cooked the roasted cauliflower I put these these bacon-wrapped sirloin medallions (from Target - see package below) in the oven too. The meat was delicious, but the medallions were so thick that by the time they were cooked well enough for me they weren't visually appetizing because the meat was so black. I'll make this from scratch next time and when I do I'll cut the meat thinner and use better bacon.
Bacon-wrapped sirloin medallions

Photo and recipe source for cauliflower popcorn: Food

Mar 2, 2015

Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash Bake

This recipe looks delicious. Adding sausage or your favorite meat is an even better idea. Otherwise, serve this as a side dish with meat.
Tomato Basil Spaghetti Squash Bake
  • About 3 cups cooked spaghetti squash
  • 2 large garden tomatoes sliced
  • Kosher Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Basil (dried or fresh)
  • Parsley (dried or fresh)
  • 5oz of fancy shredded Mexican cheese blend
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 11 x 9 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Spread about 1 cup of spaghetti squash on the bottom.
  4. Top with a layer of sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with kosher salt and spices.
  5. Top with 1.5 oz of cheese.
  6. Add another layer of squash, then tomatoes, spices, and cheese. 
  7. Top with a final layer of squash.
  8. Add the last 2 oz of cheese on top of the squash and sprinkle with more spices.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes uncovered.
  10. Top with fresh cut basil.

Photo and original recipe source: Simplex Food

Spicy Shrimp

This recipe comes from key-friend Barb, whose family thoroughly enjoyed this dish right along with her. Blog contributor Jennifer jumped right on this recipe and made it her own by adding soy sauce (see her photos and recipe alterations below). I had every intention of making this for dinner last night, but it turned out to be one of those nights where I skipped dinner. Skipping dinner never happened before I started this program!
Spicy Shrimp
Prep Time: 16 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 6

  • 3 pounds (21-26 count) Unpeeled Shrimp (more or less works too)
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 3 whole Lemons (juice Of)
  • ¼ to ½ cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • Tabasco
  • 1 stick Butter
Preparation Instructions
  1. Thoroughly rinse raw shrimp w/shells still on. I use 21-26 count (that means 21-26 shrimp per pound) but I’ve certainly used bigger. Any smaller than this, and it’s difficult to peel, so stick with 21-26 or bigger. 
  2. Place the shrimp in a large baking pan in a single layer. 
  3. Drizzle about ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil over top of shrim.
  4. Generously sprinkle black pepper over top of the shrimp and then sprinkle salt (I use kosher). Be very generous with the salt and the pepper.
  5. Squeeze the juice from about 3-4 lemons over top of all of the shrimp.
  6. Drizzle ¼ to ½ cup Worcestershire sauce all over the shrimp. 
  7. Drizzle Tabasco sauce over the top to your desired heat/temperature.
  8. Cut the stick of butter into pats and then evenly distribute the pats on top of the shrimp.
  9. Place the pan of shrimp under the broiler for just about 10 minutes until the shrimp are no longer translucent. 
Blog contributor Jennifer Churchill made this recipe and here's what she had to say about her spicy shrimp with soy sauce:
"The only addition I made was about 3 tbs of soy sauce added after the pats of butter. Just amazing.."
Jennifer's spicy shrimp with soy sauce
Left: before putting in oven, Right: ready to eat!

Original recipe and photo source: The Pioneer Woman

Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole

This Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole recipe looks delicious, but right now I'm seriously restricting the amount of cheese, so I won't be making this any time soon. It calls for heavy cream, which you may want to substitute with whole milk and also cut back on the amount of cheese. When I make this, I will update this recipe to reflect my adjustments and I'll add my own photo.
Pepperoni Pizza Cauliflower Casserole

For the Puree
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 8 slices pepperoni
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper
For the Casserole
  • 12 slices pepperoni
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

For the Puree
  1. Clean and trim the cauliflower, breaking it into medium sized pieces.
  2. Place in a microwave safe bowl with cream and butter.
  3. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir to coat cauliflower with cream/butter mixture.
  5. Microwave for another six minutes on high (or until tender.)
  6. Remove from the microwave and put into a high speed blender or food processor along with the 8 slices of pepperoni and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.
  7. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Adjust the cream and butter to your preference for consistency. 
For the Casserole
  1. Spread the cauliflower puree into an 8 x 8 oven proof casserole dish.
  2. Cover with 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, and layer with pepperoni.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes (or  microwave for 5 minutes).
  4. Serve hot. 

Photograph and original recipe source: iBreathe I'm Hungry

Cauliflower Ham Hash

Here's a recipe for the cauliflower and ham hash, which is similar to the description Jennifer gave me after I had this at Earlee Mug last week.
Cauliflower Ham Hash, Photo by Theresa
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (5 cups) 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped 
  • 1/2 pound baked or deli ham, chopped (2 cups) 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt 
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper 
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 
  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add the cauliflower and onion and cook until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. 
  3. Add the ham, season with the paprika, salt, and pepper, and cook, tossing, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes; transfer to a plate. 
  4. Reduce heat to medium and heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. 
  5. Fry the eggs to the desired doneness, 2 to 3 minutes for slightly runny yolks. 
  6. Serve on the hash and sprinkle with the parsley. 
Recipes for the other foods I had last week at the Earlee Mug:
Breakfast at the Earlee Mug. Photo by Theresa

Cauliflower and Ham Hash recipe modified from: Real Simple