25 May 2009

Weight Loss Weekly

Weight Loss Weekly is a weekly collaboration between me and two other bloggers who are trying to lose weight.  Join us as we discuss tips and strategies, as well as our successes and failures on our weight loss journeys.

Last week, the girls and I decided to take Weight Loss Weekly in a slightly different direction by setting specific exercise goals for ourselves to achieve during the week.  

One of Sunny's goals amazed me, one minute of push-ups!  Let's see how she did!  "I guess I don't hate exercising as much as I thought I did. I did pretty darn well this week, for me..." more at www.ThatExtra20Pounds.blogspot.com

Bernie was trying a varied approach to exercise with both walking and elliptical training planned but got sidelined by inclement autumn weather in Australia.  Did she make her goal?  Find out at Yo-yo No More.

My goal for last week was to take four 20 minute walks during the week.  I had planned to walk in the mornings as my evenings often get busy and had planned to walk Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday with a one day cushion of Sunday if plans got sidelined during the week.  Monday morning came bright and early last week.  Let me share with you my inner monologue.  "Six o'clock already?  No, no, no, no, NO!  Whhhhhhyyyyy????  Okay, you just made this goal YESTERDAY, you cannot bail already!  Oh, all right...."  After dragging myself our of bed, I actually had quite a pleasant walk.  The weather is getting warmer, the sun was shining brightly, birds were tweeting and there was hardly anyone out in the morning.  I thought to myself, "Hey, this isn't bad!  It's actually quite nice!"

Tuesday morning came and although I hadn't planned on walking, I decided to get out of bed and go anyway.  It's a good thing that Monday had been so nice because Tuesday was windy and cold!  If it had been this way on Monday, I definitely wouldn't have gotten out of bed on Tuesday to walk, but again, the walk was nice and now I was two down for the week.

Wednesday morning came too soon.  I didn't get out of bed this day but because choir practice was short on Wednesday evening, I decided to use the extra time to my advantage and went on a 20 minute walk.  3 down!  I can do it!

On Saturday, I did not walk, but used one of Sunny's ideas in vigorously cleaning the house to exercise.  I cleaned the bathrooms, cleaned under the bathroom sinks, swept and vacuumed the floors and ran about 5 loads of laundry.  Not walking, but I felt an accomplishment at the exercise and the clean house.

Sunday afternoon I did finish my goal although it wasn't formal exercise.  I need a new area rug for under my kitchen table and spent about 4-5 hours walking through furniture stores.  Although I didn't get my heart rate up, I was walking and count this as an achievement of my goal!

My goal this week is to again take four 20 minute walks throughout the week.  I will again try to walk in the mornings on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  This week however, I was inspired to add on a little bit of exercise by Sunny's push-up goal from last week.  Having two small boys, I actually have pretty strong arms from lifting them up.  However, when contemplating the push-up goal, I realized I can't do push-ups not because I lack the arm strength, but because after having kids, I lack the core strength to hold the plank position during a push-up.  This week, in addition to my four 20 minute walks, I am adding 10 crunches, 10 reverse crunches and 10 push-ups (against the bathroom counter.  Easier when you lack the core strength) on the days when I walk.  Oh boy, that does mean tomorrow doesn't it?  I'm a little panicked, but I can do it!

Would you like to join me in my goal?  Just e-mail me at joiecancook(at)gmail(dot)com and we can cheer each other on!  Also, if you have been inspired by Weight Loss weekly and would like to set your own exercise goal and post it on your blog, just link to this week's weight loss weekly post (all of ours) leave a comment with your post URL, and we will link back to you.  We can cheer each other on towards our goals!  Good luck this week!

22 May 2009

Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix Review

A few weeks ago, I conducted a pantry purge ridding my pantry of products containing "faux" ingredients such as hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.  The products I had the most trouble eliminating were convenience mixes such as chocolate pudding mix and my favorite, Bisquick.  After a trip to my local health food store, I was able to find an all purpose baking mix that did not contain hydrogenated oils, Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix.  At $7.25 a box, it was quite an investment for me (I have since found it in the $4 range in the health food section of my local Fred Meyer grocery store).  On the good side, the batter and the waffles were fluffy and browned very nicely.  The mix came together extremely easily and quickly.  The waffles also had a faint anise flavor that was quite pleasant and they smelled wonderful.  On the bad side, the waffles had a slightly gritty texture.  They seemed dry but I think that was the lack of gluten that made them feel slightly powdery in the mouth because physically they weren't dry, they just seemed that way.  The bottom line is that if you are gluten intolerant, this product was perfectly acceptable as a replacement to Bisquick, it was quick and had nice flavor.  If you are not gluten intolerant however, the gritty and "dry" texture of the waffles was off-putting enough to keep looking for a more acceptable alternative.  The search continues...

20 May 2009

The good and the bad of the Pasco Farmer's Market

The Bad

Two weeks ago our local farmer's market opened.  As it has been an unseasonably cool spring, the pickings were pretty slim.  However there was a new vendor there selling Old Iron Wine, a label specifically bottled for the Pasco Farmer's Market.  The vendor called it a "young, farmer's table wine" and at $6 a bottle, I was willing to give it a shot.  Buyer beware!  For $6, all you are getting is a cute label on a bottle.  The wine was completely undrinkable.  For starters, when I opened it, it fizzed out like a champagne which has been uncorked improperly.  A carbonated red?  Still, I was willing to give it a taste test (stupid me!).  Upon first sip, I immediately spit it out.  Unfortunately, despite the offending wine being ejected from my mouth, the sickly sweet aftertaste kept building.  The whole bottle was dumped down the drain.  What a waste of the farmer's time and of a good $6.  If you frequent the Pasco Farmer's Market and come across Old Iron Wine, skip it!

The Good

On the upside, the farm I buy my eggs from slaughtered some of their chickens on Saturday and I bought a few.  I had never had fresh chicken before and I was curious to taste how they would differ from grocery store chicken.  Boy, the taste was incredible!  They were so much meatier than store chickens and cleaner too.  The juices of store chickens often get slimy feeling, but the fresh chickens were clean and soft feeling.  I put them on the grill and they were just wonderful.  After picking the carcasses clean, I put them in a stock pot and now have a good 10 cups of wonderful stock on hand as well.  Nothing goes to waste!  If you are living in Southeast, WA and are interested in fresh chickens or eggs, Greene Hills Farm has it going on!

18 May 2009

Weight Loss Weekly

Weight loss weekly is a weekly collaboration between me and two other bloggers who are trying to lose weight.  Join us as we discuss tips and strategies as well as our successes and struggles on our weight loss journeys.

This week, we are taking weight loss weekly in a slightly different direction.  In the past, we have been asking each other questions in order to gain tips and insights into how the others approach weight loss.  This week, we are each setting a goal for this week pertaining to exercise and next week we will be discussing the strategies we used to achieve those goals (hopefully not excuses why we couldn't!)

First, let's find out what the goals of the other girls are this week:

Bernie says:

"For me exercise comes and goes, I go through stages where I feel like I've got it all worked out, and then for no obvious reason I hit a wall and just can't seem to get into it. I've smashed up against said wall these last few weeks and I'm determined to get out of my rut and back on the wagon" read more at Yo-yo No More

Find Sunny's goals at That Extra 20 Pounds

My goals this week are to walk for 20 minutes for four days this week.  This may seem like a small goal, but I haven't accomplished this feat in over a month!  I need a kick in the rear to jump start my walking routine again, but I also want to set myself up for success.  I know that accomplishing this goal will not be without difficulty, but I feel this is a realistic goal for myself.

My plan is to walk Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  I know this is lame, but Tuesday evening is the finale of American Idol so I KNOW I will not want to walk then (go Adam!) and Wednesday evenings are devoted to church choir, so that really only leaves me those four days with a cushion of Sunday if I miss one.  Also, I am trying something a little different this week, I usually walk after dinner, but after dishes, etc. often I am too tired for a walk.  This week, I am going to get up 20 minutes early and walk in the morning.  I think getting up 20 minutes early is doable, I'll let you know next Monday!

Is anyone up for taking this challenge with me?  We can cheer each other on!  E-mail me at joiecancook(at)gmail(dot)com if you are up for it!

11 May 2009

Weight Loss Weekly

Weight Loss weekly is a weekly collaboration between me and two other bloggers who are trying to lose weight. Join us every Monday as we discuss tips and strategies as well as our highs and lows on this crazy weight loss journey.

This week we are down one blogger as Nurit has decided not to continue with Weight Loss Weekly. We'll miss you Nurit! However, Bernie, Sunny and I decided to continue as the process of thinking through my weight loss and this column every week helps keep me accountable. I hope you all are enjoying it as well.

This week, Bernie from Yo-yo No More asks:

Exercise is something everyone should be doing for general health and fitness. Do you have any tips for keeping your exercise routine fun and most importantly sustainable?

Let's hear what the other girls have to say first:

Sunny says:

"Exercise... that is a subject I've been trying to avoid and not think since I began my weight loss journey a few months ago..." keep reading at www.ThatExtra20Pounds.blogspot.com

Bernie says:

"Friends, flexibility and reality are the three things I try to keep in mind when exercising. I don't really have a routine to speak of, and this, I am learning, is actually my exercise style." Read more at yo-yonomore.

I say:

It seems that no matter how fun I make exercise, I have trouble with the sustainability part. Is it a momentum thing?  For my birthday, my husband and sons got me some walking poles.  I love these as they up my heart rate during my walks and add muscle tone in my arms as I'm walking as well.  They boost the benefits of my walks without increasing the impact level of my walks.  I love these poles and I do love walking.  It is easy for me to get into the walking habit and just going for a short jaunt in the evenings after dinner.  

However, even though it is easy for me to get in the habit, it is equally easy for me to fall OUT of the habit.  I'll usually walk consistently for a few months, then something will happen, I'll get sick, we go on vacation, whatever, then BOOM!  I'm out of the habit for a few months.  I just wish that someday it wouldn't be a daily struggle to get myself to go for a walk and that it is something I just do despite life getting in the way.

Currently, I am out of the habit.  I got sick about a month ago and haven't gone for my evening walk.  Wow!  Has it been a month!  How is it so easy not to exercise?  I need to get back into the habit.  Here's the goal, three 10 minute walks during the week.  That is not a lot but since it has been so long, I need to start slow.  Will you all keep me accountable?

How do you keep momentum going in your exercise routine?  Please share, I need ideas!

08 May 2009

French Friday on Holiday

Happy Friday to you gorgeous French people!  If the weather is not yet warming up where you are take heart, spring is here!  French Friday will be taking a little summer holiday from the book reviews.  Don't be sad, everyone needs a little holiday and the French are famous for taking theirs.  I will still be posting recipes on Fridays in the French spirit, but I just need a little break from the book reviews.  If you have any ideas for books that would make a good read during French Fridays during the fall, e-mail me at joiecancook(at)gmail(dot)com.  I will take the summer to read them and start again fresh at the end of summer.

In other French news, Mirielle Guiliano's new French Women Don't Get Fat website has now launched!  This used to be a site for members who bought a paid subscription but is now free to all.  Check it out at frenchwomendontgetfat.com!  When I used to subscribe to this site, one of my favorite events was something called "Bombshell weekend".  For those who want to play, you must channel the spirit of a famous "Bombshell".  For some it was Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Catharine Deneuve, Lauren Bacall, Princess Grace...etc.  Then, in the spirit of being a "Bombshell" spend the weekend channeling that person's beauty and ease.  Then turn everyday events into the stuff of romantic movies.  For example, this weekend, I shall channel the spirit of Audrey Hepburn in the movie Roman Holiday.  Tonight, Gregory Peck (my hubby) is taking me out to see the new Star Trek movie.  Star Trek is not the stuff of romantic movies, but when you're sitting next to Gregory Peck, who cares!?  And what would Audrey wear to a movie where Gregory Peck would hold her hand?  Certainly not a pair of ragged jeans!  She would probably wear a nice skirt, a blouse, perhaps some pearls?  Also, red lipstick is a must!

Are you up for playing along?  Let me know how your weekend goes being a "Bombshell".  Oh, it is such hard work, but someone has to do it!  Hee hee!

Double cheeked kiss to all of you,

05 May 2009


Isn't it wonderful that a cookie with one of the best names out there, is also one of the most simple and delicious?  Who can resist these wonderfully crisp, cinnamony cookies with the whimsical name?  Mix up a batch and your family will be sure to smile!

Snickerdoodles by Joie de vivre

Yields:  About 6 dozen

1  1/2 c. sugar
1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbls. sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon


1.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
2.  Beat the butter and 1 1/2 c. sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs until combined.  On low speed, or by hand, beat in the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.  
3.  In a small bowl, combine the 2 Tbls. sugar with the cinnamon.
4.  To shape:  scoop out a teaspoon full of dough using a teaspoon cookie scoop.  Roll the dough into balls between your two hands.  Then roll the balls into the sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Place the balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets
5.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  When finished, remove cookies from cookie sheet and place on cookie racks to cool.

04 May 2009

Weight Loss Weekly

Christmas buffet at the in-laws

Weight loss weekly is a weekly collaboration between me and three other bloggers who are also trying to lose weight.  Join us as we discuss our weight loss tips and strategies, as well as our successes and failures along the way.

Today's weight loss question comes from Nurit from 1 family. friendly. food.  Nurit asks: 

You’re about to go to an event - party, wedding, potluck, etc - where there’s going to be lots of (free) food. What are you doing about it? What is your strategy?

Let's hear what the other three have to say:

Bernie from Yo-yo No More says:
"Lots of free food did you say? I'm there. That about sums up my love of the event/party/wedding/potluck food related scenario. Lots of free food is like, well, lots of free food, does it get any better? But is it really free? (see where I'm going with that.... ohhh the witty intelligence is too much)" read more at yo-yonomore

Nurit from 1 family. friendly. food says:
An imaginary scenario: you go to a party, you see all the wonderful food, you either decide “I’ll only try just one bite of some dishes that look good”, or you don’t even think about it and just go with the flow. The result – you feel over-stuffed, you think “I ate too much. Why did I do that?” Does this sound familiar? Read more on 1 family. friendly. food.

Sunny from That Extra 20 Pounds says:
"When it comes to free food, forget it! My strategy? Unfortunately it's Eat, Eat, Eat..." keep reading at www.ThatExtra20Pounds.blogspot.com

I say:

I wish I could tell you that I always behave well at potlucks or buffets, but sadly, I can't. There is a reason why I am overweight! But I do have some tricks to help my best intentions along.

Strategy #1:  The Snack.  When facing an endless eating situation, have an apple and a glass of water before you go.  I once talked to someone who tried this same strategy with a tablespoon full of flax seeds mixed into a glass of water.  Just have a little something so that you are not raving hungry when you face the endless dishes.

Strategy #2:  The Mental Rehearse.  Before you go to the party, imagine the buffet.  Then imagine yourself with your small plate in hand, reviewing all of the options before carefully making the wisest choices.  When you get to the party, your mind is already prepared for what you are going to do.  

Strategy #3:  The Anchor.  Do you have a little red dress in your closet that helps remind you of your goals?  The anchor works in the same way, just away from home.  You wear a bracelet or ring or necklace that reminds you of your goals when you face temptation.  Theoretically, I smile because this one doesn't work so well for me, when facing the endless buffet, you touch your anchor item and it reminds you of your goals so you do not overindulge.

Strategy #4:  Do your best, and forgive yourself.  This strategy accepts your weakness and acknowledges that you do not face these situations everyday (THANKFULLY!).  In this strategy, you make the best choices you can make for yourself, and then forgive yourself if you do overindulge.

As crazy as it sounds, I do heavily rely on Strategy #2, the Mental Rehearse.  For me, overindulging is a matter of habit, so to change those habits, I need to mentally rehearse them over and over.  When they are practiced over and over, even in my mind, they become part of what I do.

Do you have any ideas to help us through the crazy wedding/summer/back to school/fall festivals/Christmas buffet season?  Do share!

01 May 2009

French Friday

Bonjour to you beautiful French people!  I apologize for the lapse in French Friday last week.  My excuse?  I've been embracing my inner French girl.  French women revel in the changing of the seasons and alas, the weather has been too nice to sit inside.  After weeks and weeks of cold, dreary weather, the sun has finally peeked through the gray, the weather has warmed, and blossoms have erupted all over, signaling the beginning of spring.  I just could not let this passage go unnoticed.  The boys and I have been going to the park daily, we have planted our tomatoes, cleaned up our strawberry plants, and planted our herbs.  Ah, spring!

Today, I will be reviewing Steps 6 and 7 from The French Don't Diet Plan by Dr. Will Clower.  At the rate I am going with this book it will take me through mid-May, but sometimes, it is nice to slow the pace down every once in a while.  A few of you have also e-mailed me with suggestions for future French Fridays, merci beaucoup!  If you have a book you think would lend itself well to French Fridays, please let me know.

Now, back to the French Don't Diet Plan.  

Step 6:  Don't Eat and Drink at the Same Time

When you think of the beverage that French people eat with their meal, the majority of us will think of a nice glass of wine.  Do we think of the French as a country of sloppy drunk people?  Of course not, the French think of wine as food, appreciate it as an accompaniment to their meals, and sip and savor their wine.  A serving of wine would be about 4-6 oz.  When we think of the accompaniment to an American meal, what do we think of?  A 20 oz. bottle of soda?  A 16 oz. glass of water?  Dr. Clower uses these drink portions as another way to point out American over-consumption.  Even in something as calorically innocuous as water, Dr. Clower says that we train our bodies to over-consume when we drink this much.  He suggests eating meals for a few weeks without anything to drink.  Then re-introducing beverages back into the meal in small portions to sip with meals, not gulp, as a way to enjoy your meal more.  (and I'm sure he would tell you to throw the soda in the garbage as it is chock full of faux ingredients)

I would agree with Dr. Clower up to a point, but water consumption is one way to trick your stomach into feeling it is full.  When you are cutting back on portion sizes, this is an important part in the arsenal of not being hungry.  Again, everything in moderation and everything gradual.  Cut back on your drink portions gradually.  Start by sipping your drink, not gulping.  Naturally, your portions may cut themselves down on their own!

Step 7:  Eat All You Want (You'll Just Want Less)

In this step, Dr. Clower discusses what he calles the "ender", a small, calorically dense nibble of food that signals to your brain that the meal is finished.  French enders consist of cheese, a square of dark chocolate, coffee or tea.  The ender is what helps the French avoid snacking between meals by creating a mental bookend to the meal.  Dr. Clower also discusses strategies for getting over the hurdle of between meal hunger.  Have you noticed how hunger is a progressive feeling.  Between meals, it starts out small, may get raving for a moment, but then after a few minutes disappears?  Your body is telling you that it is starting to get hungry, but it is not starving.  In order to make it to your next meal, be sure to eat three meals a day and on time.  Then, to survive your hunger blips, Dr. Clower suggests either waiting out your hunger blip, drinking a small glass of water (slowly!), or perhaps having a small snack if you can't take it anymore, but it is merely a small snack, something to help you make it to your next meal, it is not a meal unto itself.

Homework for this week:

1.  Sip and savor your beverages with your meals.  Do not gulp.  Drink in small portions.
2.  Eat regularly and healthily to control between meal hunger.
3.  If you are struggling with between meal hunger, try some of Dr. Clower's strategies for making it through between meal hunger blips.

Next Friday, I will be discussing Steps 8-10 from the French Don't Diet Plan.  Until then lovely French people, enjoy the beautiful spring weather!