For Autumn: “Oh My Pumpkin Pie” Frozen Breakfast Smoothie

Quick update for Week 6 of our campus fitness team progress: The Rampaging Regionals —

  • Only 5 lbs of weight loss for the entire group (6 lost by 1 person, 1 gained by another!) Not to worry – increased activity levels and muscle building could be part of the cause (& 1 of the members going on a biker trip to Florida could be another! haha!)
  • 2,281 minutes of physical activity logged. (On a more serious note, 1 of our team members lost someone very close to her this week, yet she tried to maintain physical activity for her mental well-being. Prayers & hugs going out to her.)

With the crisp fall weather and Halloween sneaking up on us, I thought I’d share a “warm” frozen smoothie recipe for those of you looking for ways to get good protein for workouts without sacrificing taste.

Jody’s Honey-Caramel Pumpkin/Banana Protein Shake

/or/ better known as:

Oh My! Pumpkin Pie Frozen Smoothie

Another morning pick-me-up filled with “the good stuff” – only, this time, I’m offering you a warmer taste to your frozen smoothie – Pumpkin Pie!

Pre-Warning from Redd Foxx :
“Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.”

Preparation Preface:

If you’ve ever read my previous recipe comments, you know I take the easiest route possible whenever possible in the kitchen. (So if you’re in my advanced smoothie learner group, you can just skip ahead to the Ingredients section. If not, I’ll clue you in, so you can progress from the beginner level pretty rapidly.)

I use an instant blender cup to mix this frozen fruit smoothie concoction (because I hate doing dishes & this blender cup serves a dual “serve-it-up-on-the-fly” purpose)…but you can use a full-size blender and your own fancy glass, for all I care. 😉

I have taken care to calculate the calories & grams of protein for you (according to the measurements provided & the brands I’ve used use, if specified in any place where I thought these could drastically change). Sorry – you’re on your own if you want carbs, sugars or anything else along those lines.

Hint: When the information isn’t available on a package, I can usually look up almost any ingredient (by portion) through MyFitnessPal, an application I use on my iPhone. You can also log your daily caloric intake and output through exercise here.

I use frozen yogurt for a couple of reasons. First, this is how to get the “smoothness” like pumpkin ice cream – without chunky pieces of ice (along with the frozen banana piece). Next, low-fat frozen yogurt has oodles of protein and isn’t too bad on calories.


This image contains the ingredients from “Oh My Pumpkin Pie” smoothie, including the individual blender cup example.

pp3Here is the main ingredient difference in this protein shake:

I used GNC’s Pumpkin Spice Lean Shake 25 Protein mix (This is simply the brand I’ve found for an acceptable calorie count for me. I’m not promoting particular brands or companies.)

Are you ready for this extra bit of fun info? The scent of Pumpkin Pie has been listed as one of the Top 10 Aphrodisiacs by the Science Channel. Who would’ve guessed?!

So HANDLE this one WITH CARE!!!



Protein (g)

2 oz.  Cranberry juice (organic, pure, non-sweetened)



1 Tbs ground flax meal



2 tsp L-Arginine powder (optional for pre-workout vascularization)

¾ scoop GNC Total Lean 25 shake – Pumpkin Spice flavor



1 scoop GNC Women’s Ultramega Maximum Nutrition – vanilla crème



1/3 small frozen banana (peel it & freeze it the night before- in a freezer baggie)



1 Tbs raw honey (best if gotten from a hive in your area) 60.00 0
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup Yoplait low-fat Honey-Caramel frozen yogurt (1/4 small package)


Fill remainder of blender cup with water
(approximately 4-6 oz. if using large blender)


12 oz = 393.8 calories(8 oz.= 262.53) 22.242 g


pumpkin_smoothieProduces a 12 oz. protein shake that tastes like a delicious frozen pumpkin pie smoothie – oh, that’s because it IS a delicious frozen pumpkin (pie flavored) smoothie! 

(Color variations will occur based on the ingredients used, especially fruit coloring variations.)

…and, yes, once again, I dirtied a real glass for demonstration purposes…just for YOU! 🙂

Quick (and much abridged) health rundown of contents:

  • Pure cranberry juice helps flush out the toxins/waste products in the liver & kidneys, while providing a rich antioxidant/phytochemical (good heart) fruit source.
  • Flax seed – rich in Omega-3 (‘positive’ fat) and lignans (anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, good heart), with the addition of fiber when seed or ground meal. (Of course, you may substitute the flax meal for flax oil BUT in this case, I wouldn’t! The flax meal provides the extra benefit of a pie crust-like texture for your frozen pumpkin pie treat.)
  • L-Arginine – this is one way to get it without consuming meats that will have added fat. Great as a pre-workout for increased vascularization. (More waste product removal, high immunity and good heart.)
  • Protein helps the body to recover more quickly during workouts & rebuild its musculature after being broken down from work-outs.  Protein supplements can also replace other protein sources (e.g., meats) that would come with ‘negative fats.’ I have to go to work a few hours before workouts, so I want to start my day with a good dose of protein at this time and then add some immediately after workouts. You may need to investigate this according to your schedule & daily needs. (i.e., I use less than what many would, especially if you are male and/or a high metabolism athlete, like my teenage son. He uses a much higher caloric product with more grams of protein – and adds peanut butter, to boot. Oh, to have his metabolism – and 8 pack! J) The recommended daily intake of protein for healthy adults is ~0.75 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, or about 45 to 56 g of protein a day. (Some sources will say 1 g per pound; many will argue no more than 0.55 g/lb.)
  • Added nutrients – whether you’re swallowing pills for vitamins, adding in a power (like I do), or adding a liquid multi-nutrient, this is the easiest place to work them in (and a great way to start your day!)
  • Banana – I use the frozen variety for a couple of reasons. First, I can get them all year and store them easily. Secondly, this is how I get a frozen smoothie that’s truly “smooth” – without chunky pieces of ice! You’re already starting your day well on your food chart by adding some fruit!
  • Cinnamon – has been shown to help regulate blood sugar & lower cholesterol (good heart!), reduce flair-ups of arthritis (which athletes often develop in their joints early), and has shown some cancer-reducing and Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s benefits. And it just smells good.
  • Raw honey – besides offering a natural sweetener to your shake, it’s packed with natural nutrients, promoting digestive health, immunity, wound & allergy healing; rich in antioxidants & enzymes, is anti-inflammatory, along with a ridiculous host of other great benefits. (Important Note: Do NOT share your shake with infants less than 1 year of age, whose immune systems cannot fight off any potential botulism that could be present in raw honey.)
  • Nonfat yogurt – rich in calcium, protein & probiotics, oh my! (as well as potassium that can help flush too much sodium out of your body) – and frozen with a little caramel just makes it yummy-delicious!
  • And speaking of flushing…I can’t think of a better way to flush out the body than with H2O.
    Adding Water helps you to control your caloric intake, balances your body fluids, energizes muscles to work out, & helps get the bad stuff flushed out. (You can add some orange juice in place of ½ the water if you want more flavoring, but never just drink OJ alone – else your blood sugar will spike – always dilute it (or chase it) with agua. Oh, and adjust your calories.)

For any changes to the above “recipe,” just remember to make any necessary caloric & protein adjustments, if you’re counting. (Remember, these amounts meet my particular protein & calorie breakfast goals.)

Also, feel free to change around your fruit or go green by throwing in some spinach leaves to add a veggie component.


Important Disclaimer: I am not a Nutritionist, nor am I representing any company. In the case where brand names have been provided, I am simply expressing to you what I am using at the moment in an attempt to fulfill my own personal dietary goal (and so you can make a comparison of caloric and/or protein amounts in any substitutions you decide to make). I also didn’t add what I consider to be negligible calories.

Here’s to your health, -jody


Workin’ It: My Enticement Advisement

Regarding the great hamster wheel of life…

I’m so far behind, I think I’m ahead!!!!

Week 4 of our Campus Fitness Initiative has long passed. I do want to mention that all of our teams received a “progress report” for this particular week.

Our team, the Rampaging Regionals, came in 2nd place for overall fitness minutes. (No one’s officially announcing their weight loss totals yet, though, so who knows how it’s all going to “shake out in the wash” by semester’s end?)

I was never good at that whole secret-keeping thing, sooooo….

As for our team, let me give you a little (belated) update on how it unfolded for us during Week 4:

  • 1,748 minutes (29.13 hrs) of fitness exercise logged, for a total of 128.61 hrs. in the past month
  • and…I THINK only 2 lbs. of weight loss. (I’m not sure if 2 of our members actually reported in.)

The weight loss report may seem discouraging, but it’s not all bad. We’re coming to a time when some may have more muscle mass to gain than unwanted pounds to burn. Fitness & Health are the important key issues here.

However, one of our members was injured this past week and is now in a boot. She’s had to rethink some of her own exercise strategies (such as modifying to upper body weights and feasible core work-outs). It’s also been a difficult week with all of us going in several different directions, without the opportunity to take our 1-month comparison photo or (more importantly) to cheer one another on with encouragement.

That being the case, it’s been more essential than ever for me to think of ways to entice myself to stay on track (literally & figuratively – as in my literal figure!). 🙂

After one month of dietary changes, there are two important issues to address:

  • First, I can’t become complacent, satisfied that what I’ve done is “good enough” (thus allowing poor dietary habits to creep back in). I’ve just reached a habitual threshold of 31 days – when changes have a higher likelihood of maintenance.
  • Secondly, I can’t fall into the trap of being so regimented and legalistic that my dietary changes become burdensome and I resent them. (I have a tendency to be a little rebellious when surrounded in legalistic, rules-oriented environments. Bet no one else can relate to that, huh?)

That’s why I’m going to look for ways to psychologically program myself to maintain good habits. The best part is that, even having a conscious awareness that I’m doing this, it still has great likelihood of success! (As a consumer – of foods, in this case – I’m taking a cue from advertisers.)

Enticement Creates a Powerful Emotive Response.

I’m going to purposefully entice myself with positive visual stimulation designed to build upon my strategies to reach my goals.

Assurance that the minute my refrigerator door opens, I'm tempted by a variety of colorful eye candy!

Assurance that the minute my refrigerator door opens, I’m tempted by a variety of colorful eye candy!

Case A: Having a 15-year-old son who can consume 5,000 calories per day and still manage to unintentionally lose weight can be beyond irritating, exceeding the bounds of exasperating if we weigh in at the same time. It can be downright dangerous. I can avoid his high-calorie protein shakes that remain sealed tightly on the bottom shelf of our pantry. But all those other sweets and treats that he likes to sit on the middle shelf at eye level can become too tempting and tantalizing after a long day at work, a growling belly, and dinner still an hour from being completed.

Exhibit A: This week, I rearranged the pantry. I placed his snacks on a lower shelf, out of my eyesight, in specific deep bins according to what they were. He knows where to find them; my eyes don’t have to be drawn to them. Conversely, I rearranged my refrigerator bins to assure that the beautifully best and most colorful health options sat in the front, where the eye was drawn to them when the fridge was opened. And then…I purposefully took a variety of those fruits from the fridge and moved them into a beautiful dish, front and center, on my countertop – hoping not only to tempt me, but anyone else with a snack craving, to be enticed to have a health-enhanced encounter.

Working it to tempt all passerby tastebuds with tantalizing treats!

Working it to tempt all passerby tastebuds with tantalizing treats!

Case B: We had a church picnic one evening this past week, in which barbecue pork was the main dish and everyone was asked to bring a side dish and a dessert. First, I knew I wouldn’t be eating the pork, so I had to rethink my protein options. Secondly, I know how those side dishes and desserts turn out. Just as I’d predicted, they were full of sugars, dairy, gluten – and plenty of mayonnaise – along with plenty of tempting invitations to try each one. Had I not thought ahead, it would’ve been a frustrating meal.

Exhibit B: I wanted to be sure to entice myself (while also providing for my needs – both dietary & psychological), while enticing others to possibly have some healthier options (thus, providing for their needs – we have many diabetics & other health issues among members of our congregation). For dessert, I sliced a seedless watermelon that was deliciously sweet. It went over big, since everyone knows that melons are leaving us for awhile, as our season changes. For my “side” dish (my main dish), I made a Strawberry Spinach salad, substituting the sugar with Stevia (which no one seemed to be able to tell any difference – I asked).

ss salad

Did I do my job in enticing you to want something better?

If so, then here’s the recipe to get you going!

Sight-Stimulating Strawberry Spinach Salad

SS salad ingredients

Dressing Ingredients:

1/3 cup Stevia-in-the-raw
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs poppy seeds
2 Tbs sesame seeds
3 tsp minced onion
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 cup Olive Oil balsamic vinegar dressing
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Stir together in a bowl, seal & refrigerate(for at least 2 hours, if possible (to set the flavor), though the wait time is not required.

Finishing touches  (these are negotiable, according to what makes your tastebuds tingle!):

In a large bowl, mix together:

2 pkgs. (or 1 very large pkg) fresh spinach
As many strawberries as you dare! (probably about 2 pints)
1 pkg (or less, if you prefer) sliced honey-roasted almonds (these are in the produce/salad section at my store)
~1/2 pkg reduced-sugar Craisins

Add the dressing & mix together for a scrumptious protein/veggie/fruit treat of a dish!

Serving Hint: Once you add the dressing, the spinach will get weighted down & will “compress” in your bowl. If you’re taking it somewhere & want the freshest presentation, you may wish to wait until you’ve arrived to stir in the dressing. Your choice. Either way, it’s going to be delicious!

Serving Size: 1-1/2 cups

Approximate Calories: ~175

Taking the Edge Off of Plateauing Pounds

Our 5-woman campus fitness & weight loss team, the Rampaging Regionals, has finished our third week of logging our progress, registering in with:

1,950 minutes (32.63 hrs) this week   /or/   99.48 hours for the past 3 weeks


5.4 pounds weight loss this week    /or/    43 pounds lost for the past 3 weeks

We’re on the cutting edge of magnificence towards staying on track with our goals. But…

If you compare this week with the two prior ones, you might note that Week 3 doesn’t appear to be nearly as rewarding in weight loss, at least based upon the weight loss numbers. Some of us are dealing with stepping onto the scales of a plateau. Some us may even be feeling more like we’re stepping beyond that – onto a bleeding edge – covered in blood, sweat & tears from our efforts, while not cutting our anticipated weight. Somewhere along the way…

Plateaus generally come with rough edges.

You see, our bodies have been going through an adjustment period, with reduced caloric intake and increased or modified exercise. Our glycogen stores have now been released; our water weight retention has been diminished. Those things had to happen – and, boy, did they look good on the scales while they were taking place! Except now that we can’t count on a continuation of that same progressive rate, we’ve got to either be satisfied with slighter reductions in weight loss (or the dreaded plateauing), or we have to begin reworking our strategies (such as adding 15-30 minutes of exercise daily, even if we’ve maxed the “credit” we get as a team; or changing up our exercise routine to surprise our bodies).

Continuing forward can feel like a double-edged sword.

As we work through our 4th week at this point, our support systems may start getting a little shaky. Family members and friends are tired of us giving so much thought to food preparation (or maybe they’re tired of feeling guilty because they won’t play along). There aren’t as many big (numerical) victories to celebrate at our lunchroom table. Punching meals into my phone to calculate calories every day seems more like a monotonous hassle than it did the 3 weeks before. Yet…

Our team has to be determined to Stay on Track rather than Getting on Edge.

That’s a normal response. It’s what happens after a few weeks of reduced caloric intake, especially when it appears there’s not as much progress. Edginess creeps in, whispering in your ear where you can get a quick pick-me-up snack, throwing tummy tantrums as you try not to succumb to prior bad eating habits, screaming at your brain to either allow you to gnaw off a couple of your fingers or to bite someone else’s head off.

Stay calm. Step away from the edge.

Determine NOT to Edge out of Your Diet

The time you’ve determined to get back to fighting weight isn’t the time to throw in the towel from  the edge of your ring. Let me tell you a pet peeve that I don’t want to negatively impact you (or me!) – – I get a little irritated when looking for healthy diet ideas online, only to come across articles that advise me (and you) to “Stop Dieting!” That’s ridiculous advice! Why? Because the truth is – we’re ALL on some sort of diet. It’s just that some of our diets consist of some not-so-healthy food choices. People who read that tripe are tempted to throw their healthy dietary plan over the edge because some well-meaning “ex-pert” wanted to make what was perceived as a clever point using hyperbole. (That person obviously wasn’t standing on a plateau thinking of jumping over the edge!) If you’ve been working on a healthy diet plan, “ex” out that lame advice. Stick to your plan. Or check to see what revised tweaks may need to be made.

Are you skimping too much on calories to the point where you’re placing yourself in starvation mode? Then adjust with some healthy additional calories.

Are you eating larger meals, when spreading smaller snack-size portions throughout the day would better answer your body’s needs?

Have you had a health check-up with lab work lately to assure that your body is functioning at its maximum health capacity and metabolic rate?

Just remember – regardless of whether you toss out your current eating plan, you’re going to be left on a diet of some kind. Try to make those healthy diet calories maximally count towards enhanced edge-of-your-seat performance towards your well-being!

Supplement Your Edgy Cravings

Dieting is not meant to push you over the edge. First, take a look at your intake & assure it’s adequate. It’s not just about calories. It’s more about the types of food that you are placing into your body for nutritional use. Don’t allow yourself empty, sugary, junk food calories (even if you can stay within your daily caloric intake goal). Replace them with nature’s alternatives – lots of filling fruits & veggies. And be sure to get a protein with every meal, so you can continue to maintain muscle mass, rather than allowing nutrients to be stolen from your muscles. (Flabby may weigh less, but it doesn’t look nearly as attractive.)

Too many empty calories means you’ll be edging up a long, steep road without any fuel to back you – so you’ll soon be running out of gas (before your day’s journey ends)! Need an additional fuel boost?

Add Supplements to your diet – especially natural multi-vitamins & minerals. Take these with each of your meals to get an extra nutritional boost for body sustenance. This should help smooth those frayed edges.

Give Yourself a Financially Inexpensive but Emotionally Fulfilling Reward

Take the edge off by recycling your closet!  During those times when you’d like to be snacking, go to your closet & begin to prune the edges. (You heard what I did there, right?!)  Cull out your closet of all the clothes that no longer fit well because of the weight you’ve lost. If you haven’t worn them in awhile anyway, consider them outdated (for you) & send them to the Goodwill or some other charity for someone else to enjoy. Then celebrate with the fun part! Bring back to “front & center” the clothes that you haven’t been able to fit into for awhile. Find new ways to mix & match them with updated clothing items & accessories you’ve acquired since you last wore them. It’ll be like getting a new (or at least refreshed) wardrobe! (And trying on and sorting these clothes will keep your hands & mind busy – possibly for a couple of hours – as an added bonus, so you don’t feel like you have time to go get a snack.)

Make an Inexpensive Caloric Purchase when you’re feeling like a Spendthrift

Get off that slippery slope and go for an icy edge instead. (Please tell me you caught that one too.) Make yourself a low-calorie, but fulfilling, sweet treat.

skinny shakeI call this my Holy Skinny Cow! Shake (because there’s really no cow’s milk in it). It’s a much skinnier adaptation of a Wendy’s Frosty-type recipe that has been going around on Pinterest.

In a blender, combine:

1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk (I like to use the almond/coconut milk blend)
1/2 Tbs unsweetened Cocoa powder
1 tsp (or a little more) vanilla extract
2 tsp Stevia-in-the-raw
8-15 ice cubes, depending on how much you want to thin the chocolate)

See how you can gain some ground by taking the edge off?!

Calories = 50 or less!

(You could add some yogurt, a banana or protein to thicken & smoothen this, but you’ll also be adding calories, of course. How far you live on the edge is totally your call! No matter – it doesn’t really taste like a Wendy’s Frosty, but it can satisfy the sweet-tooth, chocolate craving, if that beast has been on your back.)

Smooth out those Spiritual Rough Edges

Fly off your Edge – not off the Deep End! Center yourself on spiritual issues, rather than physical demands. Take time for filling yourself with nourishment that comes from other places than food – e.g., meditation, devotion & prayer. You can learn to step out in faith & soar with the eagles, leaving your physical cravings behind. For me, this means spending interactive, meaningful time in God’s Word; talking earnestly with God in prayer; asking God to help me focus on kingdom issues, rather than the things I desire in this world (and don’t need, such as that Reese’s candy bar my son left as a temptation in my cupboard).

Remember, all plateaus have edges –

I’m hoping I can help make all of ours smoother.

At some point, we’ll be jumping off the edge of our scales (in celebration!) when these eventually break (the, um, plateaus – not the scales).  😉

Hoping I haven’t lost my edge,


Awesomeness! (It’s All in Your Presentation)

Week 2 of our Campus Fitness & Weight Loss initiative (okay, friendly competition) has come to an end.

What if I told you that one of our team members lost 1 pound & logged 329 minutes of exercise?
You’d probably politely say, “Cool. Keep up the good work.”

But what if I then told you that our 5-member team, the Regional Rampagers, lost a total of 12.5 pounds this past week and logged 2,009 minutes (or 33.5 hrs.) of exercise?
Now THAT should strike you as somewhat impressive.

Then what if I added in my presentation to you that, in the past 2 weeks, this same team has lost a total of 37.5 pounds & logged 66.85 hours of exercise?!
I hope you’d say “That’s AWESOME!”
Well, I think it’s AWESOME, anyway!

That’s the most awesome thing about looking at the What-Ifs & the Do-It-Togethers of life. Sometimes, difficult things seem less challenging & become more “do-able.”  I’m sure that’s why the challenge was PRESENTED to the entire campus for support teams to be formed – and why so many people accepted!

It’s All in the Presentation.

That’s something I’ve come to recognize in my dietary choices too. I eat much healthier and my food seems much tastier when I take time to consider the presentation. (Well, yeah, the calories too!)

Let’s start with this simple example. I have 70 calories to “spend” on a snack.  Looking around my house, let’s see what I can find to compare for my caloric “purchase”:

quick snacks

Hmmm. Here are 3 readily available choices.
First, there are 2 mini candy bars that I can pop into my mouth and swallow before I’ve even savored much flavor (without much nutritional value – please don’t tempt me by trying to fake me off with that dark chocolate health benefit thingy). I know me. I’ll just go back for 2 more after that. 🙂

Next, there’s this package of fat-free cottage cheese (not a terrible choice for 70 cals) & I also run across a serving size of packaged peaches (not a horrible choice either, but they are processed). Either would be gone fairly quickly, though, because I’ll eat them straight out of their packages. Not too satisfying like that, I’d say…

As I continue to browse my virtual-about-to-be-sentient-in-my-mouth shopping area, it dawns on me that I may have an altogether better option (at least I think so). I can put together a

Zesty Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Parfait.
Can you say from Hmmm to Yummm?!

I grab out 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries (35 calories) and add 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt (35 calories), sprinkle in a little Valencia orange peel (1/2-1 tsp) for some “wang” (I’m out of lemon today for lemon zest), add 1 tsp of Stevia to make it a sweet treat (0 calories), & stir it around to make it like a frozen “ice cream-type” treat. By now, my mouth is watering & I’m ready to enjoy this treat, but…why stop there? I’ve already told you…

It’s All in the Presentation.

Knowing this, I go get a stemmed, fluted glass, spoon my yummy frozen concoction into it, and Viola! I feel like I’m getting a fancy dessert that’s been prepared especially for me with great care!

blueberry yogurt

Here’s the bonus: I have to take additional care while eating, so my spoon can fit down into it as I carefully scrape the sides, – causing me to slow down and ENJOY its special goodness. I truly do get to Savor the Flavor!

Why stop there? It dawns on me that I can make my next lunch meal especially beautiful (and low calorie too) to encourage me to savor it, as well.

The next day, I grab up that small container of no-fat cottage cheese, along with 1/2 of a REAL peach (instead of the processed package, because 1/2 peach is also worth 1/2 the calories of the peaches-in-a-pack & is just as filling). I add a couple of pieces of Romaine lettuce together with it on a simple, white cafeteria plate from work. For 140 calories, I could’ve grabbed up the cottage cheese container & the processed peaches container & have been done with lunch in 2 minutes or less. But look what happens when I use my Yummy Presentation Method:

cottage cheese & peaches

A mere 124 calories of beautiful bliss that I’ll spend more time digesting with my eyes than my tummy because it’s so colorfully luscious! (And I’ll hate tearing it apart after I’ve built it.)

From there, I figure…why wouldn’t I want to share this amazing new presentation talent of mine with my entire team?

So…one of our team members scheduled a Lunch & Learn session this week, where we each brought something healthy to share while receiving a learning presentation. After all…

It’s All in the Presentation, Right?

I decided to bring my EZ LO-CAL SWEET ‘N SPICY CHICKEN FAJITAS (my recipe will follow). However, as tasty as I think they are, I really wanted them to LOOK especially appetizing for my guest partakers. For this, I brought a couple of dishes (made in Spain) to accent our fiesta!

fiesta platter

You tell me…did this make for a great presentation (enhancing the bright colors of the peppers), or what?!

This is even an AWESOME dish to share with non-dieting family members. They can add sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, tortillas (I suggest whole grain), black beans & rice, if they’d like – while you can feel satisfied with your entire serving being filling at only 237 calories!

Here’s my recipe, if you want to give it a try. I’ve added it here because I want you to be sure that its tastiness (and life) is definitely enhanced when you seek to assure that it’s

All in YOUR Presentation!


fajitas cooking


(1)         16 oz. pkg. chicken breast strips for fajitas

10 oz. (~1-1/2 cups) sliced mixed bell peppers (Green, Red, Yellow.    Orange Pepper? Sure. Go for it!)
 Hint: I get these pre-sliced in produce when I want to save time

½ Onion, chopped or sliced
1 tomato (optional)
 Another hint: consider buying pico de gallo, instead, already prepared in produce
½ tsp garlic powder (or use minced garlic to your taste) chopped or sliced
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp ground red pepper
½ tsp Mrs. Dash Southwestern chipotle


  1. In a large non-stick pan, add all of the above ingredients! (Pretty simple, huh?)
  2. Add a few Tablespoons of water to the bottom of the pan & cover.
  3. Heat stovetop to a medium-high setting and allow items to steam for about 10 minutes, stirring around once at 5-6 minutes.
  4. Remove cover & stir fry for about 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until water has dissipated and you approve of the consistency. You’ve seen my version. 🙂

Yields 3 servings

 ~237 calories per serving

(Left-overs can be placed in freezer bags & saved for the near future!)

Hope you’re enjoying your own awesome life presentation!



Related Article:

Rampaging Regionals: Hoo-ah!!

Rampaging Regionals (Week 1) – Hoo-ah!!

The first official week of our campus FITNESS & WEIGHT LOSS Challenge has come to an end.

If you recall (or if you’re just reading it for the first time), one of our team members who is a die-hard competitor has named our group the Rampaging Regionals. That sets the tone for competition, doesn’t it?

I’m happy to report that our 5 member team had the following results to log from this past week (not including those successes of our 1 unofficial member who is walking with us):

  • 20 lbs. of weight loss since weigh-ins (~1-1/2 weeks prior);
  • 2,002 minutes (33.37 hours) of exercise this past week;
  • Various shared plans of determination to succeed; and
  • High fives all the way around!


My own personal plan consists of a reduction in calories for awhile with smaller meals and reducing from vigorous exercise multiple times per week to daily moderate exercise to accommodate both the caloric reduction & fat burning (as well as keeping my water intake around 1 gallon per day). I’m trying to trick my body into jump-starting my metabolism and will work my way back into my regular work-out routine with added calories after a few weeks of making this change.

Dieting Should Never Be Tasteless & Boring.
(That sets people up for failure.)

With that being said, I thought I’d share some of my low calorie recipes on the blog (for both my teammates and anyone else who might be interested). Trust me – I won’t post anything that I haven’t tried (and found suitable for) myself.

My formula for these recipes is simple:

  • Reduced calories (staying around or below 250 calories per meal)
  • Healthy inclusion of a protein, vegetable & fruit (with minimum inclusion of other carbs)
  • Small portions with caloric counts included, so the partaker can choose the number of portions based on calories, either by:
    • doubling the portion, or
    • using a single portion & spreading out more, smaller meals throughout the day to achieve personal calorie counts

EZ LO-CAL Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli


Stepped Ingredients & Directions

  • Lightly spray a stovetop non-stick pan with Pam Olive Oil spray. Stir the following ingredients together, then “stir fry” for 5-10 min on medium to medium-low heat:

 (2) 12 oz. pkg. broccoli florets
1 tsp coriander seeds (or ½ tsp. ground coriander)
1 tsp whole cumin seeds (or ½ tsp ground cumin)
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground pepper
1/8 tsp hot chili powder

  • Heat oven to 425 F.
  •  In bowl with a lid, toss these next ingredients together:

(2) 12 oz. pkg. frozen cooked large/jumbo shrimp (shelled & deveined)
Lemon zest from one lemon
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground pepper

  • Add shrimp ingredients into broccoli mix. Turn off stovetop and mix together.
  •  On a large, non-stick cookie sheet, spread ½ mixture into a single layer and pop into the oven for 10 minutes. (Will need to repeat this again with the other half or use a 2nd cookie sheet.)
  • Roast for 10 minutes at 425 F.

 Yields 6 servings (w/ approx. 5-6 jumbo shrimp each)

~140 calories per serving

(This is a “freezable” dinner. If eating alone, I make 1 immediate serving & freeze the other 5 in quart-size freezer bags for even quicker, easier upcoming meals.)


 Suggested Personal Dessert: 

Make-your-own Frozen Strawberry Yogurt


½ cup Greek plain, non-fat yogurt
¼ cup strawberries (crushed or pureed)
1 tsp (or to taste) Stevia-in-the-raw
½ tsp vanilla extract

  • “Smush” together in freezer baggie.
  • Freeze for as long as needed to preferred consistency (Smush around every 10 minutes or so).

Yields 1 serving

~85 calories


If you decide to try these out, feel free to leave me feedback on what you think or how you might have modified to make the recipe more suitable for your needs.

Here’s to your health! 🙂


Laboring on the Two Greatest Challenges in a Personal Health Challenge

It all began 1 week ago…

Our college began a campus-wide health challenge, calling out the faculty & staff of various divisions to compete with one another in the categories of FITNESS and WEIGHT LOSS.

Our new secretary (yes, the one who puts out surprise flowers on our conference table because she likes to make everything beautiful) distributed an email amongst our department distribution list, sounding the call to respond!

We were allowed to have up to 6 members on our team. By the time the day was over, she had 5 (and one who at least committed to walking with us on days we did it on campus).

By the time we officially registered, one of our team members was adamant about our team name: The Rampaging Regionals. (It’s obvious who the seriously competitive one in the bunch is.) Hoo-ah!

Another of our team members has strictly a fitness goal. Even though I’m pretty sure my group was banking on me to get us some maximum weekly work-out points, I joined the others in deciding to take on both the fitness and weight challenge.  (You’ve, of course, heard of the Freshman Fifteen across campuses. I’ve decided this would be a good time to turn things around before I’m battling the Forty Fifteen!) Of course, I’m a little nervous, in case our Drill Sergeant member decides I’m not performing up to her standards!!

Here’s the thing about this battle – I mean, competition…Between gym workouts and cycling, I do a vigorous amount of exercise during the week. And, truthfully, I’m fairly diligent about keeping up decent eating habits. But I’m better at building muscle than losing weight.

So, I had to rethink some strategies. I thought I’d share them as I revisited some, maybe tried some new ones out, etc. That way, not only can you help me out by holding me accountable, but maybe I can help out my team (if they decide to reference this log) or someone else who ends up becoming an “extended member.”

I’ll try to remember to keep us all up-to-date periodically on how our 5-member team is doing.

Meanwhile, here are my first couple of strategies I’ve begun to implement:

  1. Ingesting 1 gallon of water per day. (That’s 128 oz. /or/ (16) 8-oz. glasses.)  Caveats/Challenges: I will HAVE to commit to keeping water with me throughout the day AND I will probably lose a little sleep in exchange for extra bathroom trips.

A gallon of water weighs about 8 lb. on a scale. Interesting that it’s one of the few things you’ll consume in your body that won’t do the same for you!!

Water keeps the toxins flushed out of your body, helping it to operate more efficiently in claiming nutrients and ridding waste products.

I’m going for the body flush! (and a few extra flushes of the toilet too)

2.   Exchanging vigorous exercise 3-5 days per week for daily moderate exercise 7 days per week.  Caveat/Challenge: I will have to SET ASIDE daily time in my SCHEDULE to assure I exercise each and every day (though the exercise has been spread out – which is better than other things that can be spread out if I don’t exercise – so time commitment can be less per day than I might otherwise need to do on a schedule of less days per week). 

I’ve been studying up on this one after a surprising frustration that, as much body-glistening (girl sweat), heart-pounding exercise as I was putting in, I was being encrusted with salt when my body dried, but my weight wasn’t changing.

Now, it isn’t all that bad. Much of that exercise was building muscle tone – and that’s a good thing.

As a matter of fact, I’ll be transitioning back to more vigorous exercise at some point because that’s just my preferred style that matches my activities (i.e., cycling, circuits).

For a few weeks, I’m going to throw my body off a little, though, and follow some suggestions I’ve been reading – the main one being that MODERATE EXERCISE with reduced caloric intake (yeah, that part’s important) assists with burning fat off the top – the kind of weight loss I’d want) – without eating away at muscle (the kind of weight loss I wouldn’t want).

The kind of moderate exercise I’m after is this:

-60-70% of my maximum target heart rate

-for approximately 35 minutes per day (45-50 minutes if later in the day, because the metabolism slows down as the day progresses).

Want to know how to calculate your own target heart rate? There are several places online, but here’s a step-by-step Wiki link: How to Calculate Your Target Heart Rate.

Now, you can run out and get a fancy heart monitor. There are several styles, from inexpensive wrist watches to extra-pricey EKG-looking contraptions.

But if you haven’t thought about it, let me let you in on a little secret (because I’m a cheapskate) – you can monitor your heart for practically FREE (except you do need to have a device that displays seconds for you – Oh! and someone else to watch it & call time is a Buddy Bonus!).

The easiest method is to pause periodically with your middle and ring finger against the pulse in your inner wrist (most people have more luck finding it on the radial/thumb side) /or/ your carotid artery in your neck (under your mandible/jawbone about 1/3 of the way up towards your ear from your chin). You may have to stop walking briefly to be certain of the beats you’re getting. You’ll definitely want to stop talking. 😉

Now, count the number of beats in your pulse as 6 seconds ticks off. Then multiply that number by 10. That’s your current heart rate.

Once you know what your target rate range is (I want mine to remain between 60-70% of the max rate I calculated), then you’ll know whether to speed up or slow down for the remainder of your time.

Ex: If my target moderate exercise rate is 110-125, and I find I’m only at 10 beats in my 6 seconds, I need to get a move-on. I can recheck within 5 minutes. If it’s up to 14, I know I need to slow down my activity just a bit.

Trail walks make for keeping your heart rate at a consistent moderate exercise rate.

Trail walks make for keeping your heart rate at a consistent moderate exercise rate (and holding hands burns a few extra friction calories!) 😉


I think those are 2 important strategies for me to work.
And, guess what? I have a feeling they might work for some others too, so I thought they were worth sharing (because every once in a while, even when we know what we OUGHT to do, we could use a little push or a reminder).

Feel free to add any of your own insights, successes, etc. on either of these two topics – WATER INTAKE /or/ MODERATE DAILY EXERCISE.

And I’d love to know if you decide to informally join our “team” and report on your progress, as well.  🙂

Here’s to your Hearty Health,


“The Sad” is Bad


When did loneliness happen?

Did it just show up on your front porch one day, ring the bell, and make its way inside? Did it formally announce to you it was here to stay? Was there a particular date when it arrived?

Or was it more subtle than that? Did it skirt around you for awhile, deliberate in taking note of your preferences; glancing for opportunities to sneak into your life the minute you hadn’t filled it with activity?

How deliberate were you in extending an invitation? In allowing its entrance? Me? Oh, I really don’t remember anymore.

Whatever the case, somewhere along the way, I had to resign myself that it wasn’t going to go away. So I named it. Well, I just call it “The Sad.” By being able to tell others “The Sad” is always with me, it helps me not to feel so alone anymore.


This week’s writing challenge from Trifecta is quite DELIBERATE (and I deliberated on how to work in all forms of definitions, one way or another – – one ended up below the piece). However, for the challenge itself, Trifecta only accepts the 3rd definition, with the word in its exact form. So here’s what we’re after to deliberately meet this week’s challenge:

1: characterized by or resulting from careful and thorough consideration <a deliberate decision>
2: characterized by awareness of the consequences<deliberate falsehood>
3: slow, unhurried, and steady as though allowing time for decision on each individual action involved <a deliberate pace>

  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • If your post doesn’t meet our requirements, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone. Please join us.


I would also deliberately encourage you to NEVER invite “The Sad” to reside with you. “The Sad” will work to convince you you don’t need friends, you don’t need help, and you don’t need to keep yourself from sinking further into despair. Deliberately tell “The Sad” it’s time for you to get a new set of friends.