Friday, February 28, 2020

Pumpkin Pasta in a Parmesan Garlic Sauce

We were walking through the grocery store when we saw the most interesting display of squash.  So many different kinds of squash! What did they all taste like?  How did you prepare them!  We took a chance and picked out a few different (new to us) varieties and we went home to research!  This recipe is the result of that grocery trip!   It is good and we have had made this a few times since that first time!

Pumpkin Pasta in a Creamy Parmesan Garlic Sauce

1 squash- kabocha works well
1 TVs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz pasta
1/12 cup fresh spinach leaves.

1.  Preheat oven to 400°
2.  Cut the squash in half and remove seeds.  Peel the squash.  
3.  Cut the flesh of the squash into bite sized pieces.  Transfer to a baking dish.  
4.  Drizzle with olive oil and too with salt and pepper to taste.
5.  Roast squash at 400° for 40 minutes, stirring the squash after the first 25 minutes.
6.  Cook pasta as directed on the packaging.
7.  In a medium sauce pan add 1/12 cup heaving cream and garlic.  Allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until slightly reduced.   
8.  Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese to milk and garlic in sauce pan.  Stir.
9.  In a large bowl add cooked pasta, spinach, pumpkin/squash and garlic sauce.  Stir until well combined.
10.  Serve immediately.   Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

This recipe takes time.  It is not overly labor just takes time to wait for your items to simmer and roast.  But the taste is well worth it!!!  

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  We have certainly enjoyed the taste in our kitchen!

For more recipes visit my recipe page!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

We love our hot and spicy foods....buffalo wings included.   In fact, buffalo wings were one of the food items that we were concerned about missing when we talked about going to a more meatless diet.  However, a conversation that I had with a coworker kept coming to my mind.  She had talked to me about the  most delicious cauliflower recipe.  I was skeptical, but willing to give it a try.  Why not.  I began to search the internet and somehow I stumbled upon this recipe. 

Oh my word!  When I tasted this recipe for the first time, my eyes widened in surprise. They were actually quite tasty!  I was hooked!
Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

  • 1 large head Cauliflower
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup Hot sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp Lemon juice
  •  1 tbs butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 cup Water
1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2  In a large bowl whisk flour, water, garlic powder and paprika in a bowl until batter is smooth.  Add the cauliflower and toss to coat.
3. Spread the cauliflower on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping the cauliflower halfway through.
4.  In a small bowl, whisk together the hot sauce, melted butter and lemon juice until well combined.
5.  After the 25 minutes bake time, brush the cauliflower with the hot sauce mixture and return the cauliflower to the oven for an additional 15 minutes
6.  Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing and celery sticks.

I am telling you, you will be scratching your head and wondering where the meat is in this recipe.  They taste that much like buffalo wings!   This recipe is a winner.  It is so good, that within two or three days of making this for the first time, Jason was asking for it again!
For more recipes visit my recipe page!

Monday, February 24, 2020

A week from.........

OH my word...this past week had it all!  Fun, pain, bad food choices and .....victory.... yes, victory!  It was a week of craziness for sure and it ended with my normal weigh in.  How in the world was I going to do on the scales after all that crazy in my life?

We started our week out with a little trip away. We decided to go down to Front Royal for a little overnight trip.  We have spent a fair amount of time in that area hiking the trails in the surrounding mountains.  We actually had plans to hike, but well....we got sidetracked with roaming through small towns.   We started by stopping in Harpers Ferry, WV on the drive down to Front Royal (VA).
It was COLD!
  It is always fun to walk through that town and stroll through the quant shops.
Every time we go into tis one store, I stop to admire the door handle.
 After our Harpers Ferry stop, we headed down to Front Royal and we roamed through that town.
They have cool shops also!
 We explore and visited the general store....which is a store that has just about anything!  It's always  fun place to explore!  (I even bought a nightgown!)

Of course we tried on cowboy hats!
 We had a nice relaxing time in Front Royal but on Sunday we decided to change our plans.  We decided to make the drive to Manassas, VA to visit a candle shop....and the other stores also.
Actual mailbox in Manassas
 Yes, we went for a candle shop.....they have really nice candles!
 While in Manassas, we visited the Manassas Museum.

 And roamed through more shops.
 On the way home we even had time to check out a mountain bike trail system.

It was a a great little getaway!   But shortly after we arrived home my back started to hurt a little bit.  Within an hour it was not a 'little pain'.  It was an all encompassing pain that left me quite immobile!  Oh it was a bad flare up of my lower back issues.  I babied my back all night and hoped that a good nights rest would do the trick to get me back to normal.

But alas.....Monday morning I woke up and I could barely move (I didn't sleep well all that night either)   I didn't go to work because of it!  Luckily a day of laying flat brought me to a point where I could at least navigate....slowly and carefully a day at work.  So back to work I went on Tuesday. I was moving gingerly for sure.  But I made it!  

I even made it outside on Wednesday for a walk!

While I remain tender and achy, each day I can see some improvement in my back!

My food.....holy moley!  Let me tell you that while we were away I blew through my daily points....AND my weekly points!  A day at home on Monday didn't help. When I got up off the couch at lunch I started with a healthier option for lunch..but the pain and boredom drove me to make some reallly bad choices!  OOPS.  So by the time Monday night was done I had not only eaten all of my weekly points......I was in the negative!  BADLY!

On Tuesday I stepped onto the scales and my jaw dropped!  My weight was down.  WHAT?   I got back on track on Tuesday with my eating (So much easier to do while I'm at work......less temptation...I just eat what is in my lunchbox!).   And I started to hope for fantastic things on the scales..   All week long I hoped and prayed!

Friday morning rolled around and I stepped onto the scales.  I was so nervous!   But that nervousness changed to elation!

Why yes....I actually lost 2.8 pounds! I have no clue how.   However, I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth!  I'll take it....and I'll keep my eating in check this week because I am SOOO close to my next reward AND regaining my 100 pounds lost status!   That happens in 2 pounds!   I can do it!!!!!

I won't lie.  This week was rough.  But the scales were kind!  It doesn't always happen that way.  Sometimes it's the exact opposite (the previous two weigh ins). There is no rhyme ot reason.  That is why we have to stay the course and not let those numbers define our efforts!  Take the losses when the come........and keep doing what is right when the numbers don't show up!  

Friday, February 21, 2020

Mexican pizza

Sometimes in life we need that ultra quick meal to get on the table.  It might be because you are just stone tired and can’t fathom making anything complicated.  Or it just might be that life got in the way and you have no time.  No matter the reason, this recipe is the perfect recipe for a quick meal to throw together.  Even better, it is delicious.

Just the other night I made this recipe and Jason asked me what we were having.  I answered “Mexican Pizza” and he asked skeptically, “Do I like it?”.  I assured him that he had told me he liked it before.  A few minutes later he walked into the kitchen and saw what I was preparing and his reaction had me grinning.  “Oh yeah!,”  He happily exclaimed.   “I remember this meal now!  I like this!” 

So you see….winner!  What’s better, I can have this meal prepped and ready for the oven in about 5-10 minutes….TOPS!  

Mexican Pizza


3 flour tortilla
1 can (14 oz) refried beans
2 cups fat free salsa
2 cups Shredded Cheddar cheese

1.        Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.       On a baking sheet place one flour tortilla. 
3.        Spread 1/3 of refried beans over the tortilla.  Cover the beans with 1/3 of the salsa and top with 1/3 of the cheese. (making sure to get beans, salsa and cheese completely to the edges)
4.       Repeat with two more layers.
5.       Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
6.       Serve immediately.   Can be served with Sour cream and salsa (I also have used taco sauce)

You can add onions, green peppers,corn or any veggies to your beans….just saute them in a pan before adding them to the beans.

Spreading the refried beans can be easier if you heat them in a pan.  (I am usually tired and strapped for time so chose to just spread them straight out of the can!)

Enjoy this recipe…it really can’t get any easier or more delicious!  

For more recipes, visit my recipe page!  For a printable version of this recipe, you can click here.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Believing in myself

I have come to a realization recently that my mind is my worst enemy.  Ok, maybe that’s not a new realization…but it was brought to the forefront (again) recently.   My mind is a strong tool that can be used for or against me in this weight loss journey….and really in life.  Yes my mind!

I have always known that my imagination is strong and can affect me in so many ways.  Seriously, if someone around me talks about how they were sick and throwing up all morning before they came to work…. suddenly my stomach starts to hurt and I’m convinced that I’m coming down with whatever ails them.  I have to mentally talk myself off the ledge of panic, because I KNOW that it is a trick that my mind is playing.   So it should come as no surprise that this kind of thing happens in weight loss also.  But it shocks me every time!

A few weeks ago I decided to join Weight Watchers (WW).  I was so excited and I knew that WW was going to be the solution to my struggling journey.  Of course it was!   I started so strong.  I was excited.  I lost over four pounds.  WOO HOO!  Go me!  I was on fire!   I was secretly excited because I was sure that I could make it into the 220’s by the end of the month of February.  Easy peasy, nothing was going to stop me as I rolled into my second week on Weight Watchers!

I had day one of my second week planned out and I was strong.  Ok, I was strong until the unexpected arrival of pizza for our team.  Oh yeah, pizza.  You can read about it here  but if you don’t’ have time, let me just say that I caved…and I had two pieces of pizza.  Yup.   Now, I know that there are weekly points to account for these little extras.  I know it.  That is what makes the program work.  It allows for those extras….those days…those moments in life.  It allows us to live.

So why in the world did I begin to almost immediately panic.  Why indeed?   I know that I typically use some of my weekly points (eat higher calories) on the weekends but I had blown so many of my weekly points on the first day that I knew that I wanted to keep my points low for the weekend.  I worked that plan!  I managed.  I ate zero point foods.  I didn’t have any sweet treat.  I was doing it.  I was actually showing great success….in my actions.   However, in my head I was sure that the pizza had totally annihilated my good efforts.   Oh yes, I was sure that the two pieces of pizza on that first day of my weigh in week was going to totally mess up the numbers on the scales…..numbers that I would be looking at a full 7 days later.  My mind was convinced, even as I counted my points and managed and worked to stay within my lower points.   I just knew it in my mind.

All week long I talked about the mental warfare.  Seriously, I knew I was battling this in my mind!  I tried my hardest!  I really did.  Yet when it came time to weigh myself for my official weigh in I was up about a pound. 

Self-fulfilling prophecy maybe?  I don’t know if my mind has that much capability, but isn’t it interesting?  And yes, there may have been one or two other things at play (hormones from the monthly ick for one) so I can’t say it was all a gain caused by my mental status.  But it sure made me think!

There is a reason that I named my website, “Belief in Myself”.  You see, I realized a long time ago that I really need to believe in myself.  I need to have faith in my abilities and my efforts.  I need to believe that I can do it.  Because if I believe that I can not do it……I will not be able to do it!


This applies to so many areas, not just losing weight.  I have to believe that I can climb these mountains when we are hiking.  I have to believe that I can ride these trails when I’m biking.  I need to believe in myself.  Our bodies are amazing things and we need to start believing in them!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Weekly weigh did I manage that?

Another week has passed!   I headed into this weight loss week with a positive attitude.  I was not going to let the mental warfare beat me down.  I was going to persevere!

The week was....well....wet.   We had rain...we had more rain...and then it rained some more!   So there went my lunchtime walks.  But by some miracle we had clear skies on Saturday and Sunday and we made the most of our time by hiking on both days!!
The first day close to home....

And the second day at a state park a bit further from home.

I did ride the exercise use bike......once...

My food was in line too!   I didn’t kill my weekly points and my daily points were right in line!   I had a great week!

But the scales were not working with me for most of the week!   Seriously...not!   All week long I held onto that one pound gain from the week before!   Thursday I showed up by a pound and a half!   I still had belief that it would right itself by my official Friday weigh in though....but did it happen???  Let’s see!!!

I lost!  Not much, but it is a loss!   0.6 pounds.   So roughly a half pound.  I’ll take it.   I’ll take any loss!   I was sure I was going to gain!  What a relief!

My weight loss is not fast.  It’s not amazing...but it is happening...freakishly slow, but it’s happening!!!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Banana pancakes

Sometimes ideas come to you randomly and out of the blue.  This is exactly what happened a few weeks ago to me.    It came in the middle of the day, and not even in themiddle of a conversation.   I received a text from my friend Shantel.  Shantel and I do text each other frequently, so receiving a text was not that random.  However, the text read, “You need to try 4 ingredient banana pancakes for a foodie Friday video on Youtube.”   Yeah, I was hooked just from that line!

Of course I made the pancakes. (although I now add a fifth ingredient!)  Of course I made a video!   And now it is time to share with you!  It’s easy, tasty and choke full of nutrition!

1 banana
1 egg
¼ cup oatmeal, uncooked
¼ tsp baking powder
Dash of cinnamon (optional)

1.        Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until ingredients are well incorporated (the longer you blend the more the oatmeal will break up and create a smoother batter).
2.       Heat a skillet on the stove.  Spray with non-stick spray (I use an Olive Oil spray).
3.       Pour a generous amount of the batter into the pan and allow to cook on one side until golden brown (large bubbles will appear on the top to help indicate that it is ready to turn)
4.       Flip the pancake and cook the other side until golden brown.
5.       Eat immediately.  
I have eaten these with butter and maple syrup. I have had these with butter and chocolate syrup.  And oh my, I just thought about maybe trying them with peanut butter!  That sounds delicious also doesn’t it?   Oh the possibilities!

Thank you Shantel for a winning recipe!  These are as delicious as you said in your text!

For more recipes, visit my recipe page!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Weekly weigh in: I hate scales

What in the world????   It can’t be true!   Noooooo!    Yes, I am shocked and appalled at my weigh in for the last weight week!

I did it all right!   I counted my WW points.  (Green plan). I tracked.  I measured!  I did it!  I did it right too!  I was spot on!  

We hiked...I rode my exercise bike...I walked!  

But apparently it was wrong!   I showed a one pound gain!   

Seriously, this is the most frustrating thing!   How do I go on?  What do I do???

I am not changing anything.  I’m going to continue to count my points.  I’m going to continue to track my food.   I am going to keep on moving!   I’m on a journey to get healthy and fit.  My actions last week were in line....I can’t help it that the scales apparently took a vacation!  All I can say is that I am not giving up!!!

Monday, February 10, 2020

Really? It’s already February???

It is that time of the month!   Time to end out January and talk about my goals...and time to set my goals for February!     How can January already be gone?  It’s crazy!  But there are no complaints from me, I’m ready for spring!!!

So let’s get right to it!  January goals:

1.        Track Every Bite. This one was easy!   I had no problem whatsoever with this!   Done and done...every day every bite!

2.       Build my Savings. Also a victory.   It is slowly recouping after the purchase of the I’m feeling better about my savings...but I will be continuing to save!
3.       Weigh less at the end of the month  (who cares how much as long as it is less!) I didn’t think I was going to make this one....but due to my change in plans and my recommitment to this journey (thanks to the new plan) I nailed this one!
4.       Be active at least 3 times a week  (This may be bumped up to 4  in an upcoming month).  Victory!!!!   Oh I was on fire!   At least three times a week...and most weeks four or five times a week!  No problem!
5.       Keep my eating in check at least 6 days of the week!  This is where I fell apart.  The first part of the month I stayed ‘close’ to my goal...but not so much...maybe 4 days a week I was on target (at the top end of my range).  So the first part of the month was a colossal failure!   The second part of the month...after I made my on!!! 
6.       Average 5,000 steps a day!  this was no problem!   I made my average of five thousand steps easily!   Thanks to the long hikes on the weekends.  However, when I reviewed the stats I see that it really is the hikes...most weekdays I did not hit 5k steps!   So while I am happy I made my goal, I am going to try to focus more on getting my steps up each day!

So there you have it!  My goals....I love the monthly goals because it is the time to reflect and see what went wrong and what I did well. (For example the steps...where I made  my goal but I identified a weakness that I need to correct!).  

I’m sure your asking what is on tap for February!    I have for many months kept my goals the same...but in February I need to alter and adjust.  Some of this is to accommodate the change in my weight loss plan.  But also there is a need to grow and push myself..  

1.        Track Every Bite
2.       Build my Savings
3.       Weigh less at the end of the month  (who cares how much as long as it is less!)
4.       Be active at least 20 minutes four times a week! 
5.       Keep my eating in check at least 6 days of the week (Allowing one cheat meal) and never never never go over my limit in weekly points in a week!  (And currently I am not swapping and using my fit points!)
6.       Average 5,000 steps a day!  (While this is still an average, I will be looking more closely at my daily totals  to try to avoid the hikes carrying the rest of my slacker days!

I can do this!!!

Friday, February 07, 2020

Mental war

Happy Friday!  Another week of weight loss efforts is coming to a close and I am excited and nervous to see the numbers on the scales.   I actually held steady and I followed the plan.  I worked this plan!   Yet the mental aspect of this game really got to me this week.  REALLY got to me.


It started with last week this time.  I had my meals and food intake planned for the day.  I was on top of the world.  I was rolling!  And then they arrived at work with Pizza for all of us.  Now there are two things wrong with this picture.  Number one, this pizza arrived at 1PM and came with no warning.  So I had no idea that I would be offered pizza, thus my lunch was already eaten!   Secondly, my points (calories) had already been planned out for the whole day.  Dinner was not something I could easily adjust.    I sat there and I stood firm.  “I am not eating any pizza,”  I boldly declared.  

I was strong.  I was amazing. I was doing this!

And then my coworkers made the comment “Get your pizza and we will share your pieces between us.”   Sounds like a reasonable plan right?  Sure it does!  I thought it was a great plan, except that I know myself.  I know that if it sits on my desk that I would eat it.  Plain and simple.   I knew it.  I was accounting for it.  I was holding strong.  I was on fire!

And then I saw the pizza.  And then I smelled it!   I decided to have one little piece.  That wouldn’t throw me too far over my points right?   But then the old fat voice in my head started screaming, “get a second piece”   and before I knew it, I had two pieces of pizza in my stomach!  Oh yeah, I ate two pieces of pizza!


I went WAY OVER my points for the day.  Sure, I have the weekly points that I used (and I used more than half of them with that pizza).   BUT, let me tell you this, the rest of the weekend I was there and I was watching close what I ate.  I didn’t want to blow it and the pizza put me behind the eight ball and I didn’t like it.  

So with that story out in the open, my mind started to play HORRIBLE tricks on me.  Oh those voices and conversations in my head (I swear I’m normal and I don’t hear voices) were really vicious this week. “Maryfran, the 4 pound loss was a fluke….you are going to gain this week….all because of that pizza!”   and “Why bother trying, that pizza already messed you up!”  Ohhhh it was tough.  I wanted to dive head first into a vat of chips and cheese!  I wanted to gobble up everything in sight!   But at the same time I was also hearing the calm reasoning voice telling me that “two piece of pizza at the very beginning of your weigh in week are not going to derail you….stay strong.”  


Mental wars!  Let me tell you….they are REAL in this weight loss journey!.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Weigh in time: first week back at WW

So my first week of being back on weight watchers has passed.  And the big did I do!!!!

I worked the plan.  I stayed within my points!  I did exactly what the plan called for in terms of my food!

I exercised!  I got in morning stationary bike rides!  I walked at lunch!  We hiked!

I lost 4.4 pounds!  

I am absolutely tickled! That is a fabulous weight loss!  Now to just keep that downward trend going!  I’m still on the plan and working it!   The nerves are here as I worry about my weigh in this upcoming week and my ‘performance’.  Oh heavens...I have performance anxiety about my weigh in!   Hahaha

A weight loss journey isn’t easy...but this last week was a winner!!!