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Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, HcG Pills, B12 Shots, South Beach Diet, Grapefruit Diet, Phentremine, Hydroxycut, Nutrisystem….
Been there, done that.
The day I started 7th grade was the day I started my first diet. Prior to that day, my diet consisted of pizza, fried chicken, candy, soda, potatoes and lots of pasta. In my family, the way you showed someone you loved them was by cooking them a great meal. Every Sunday my entire family would meet at my grandma’s house to eat a huge meal and play cards… only we’d eat so much that we would fall asleep after the meal and forget to play cards.
I was always big for my age… I just never realized it until 7th grade. My problem was not a lack of exercise; I’ve played organized sports all my life (my first word was baseball for crying out loud)! My problem was that I had a family that showed love with food. My grandma would keep me after school until my mom picked me up. I’d eat a snack that was probably big enough to be a meal, then go home and eat a large dinner.
The day I realized that I was overweight was when one of the girls I cheered with said to me, “WOW I can’t believe you can touch your toes, you’re so fat.” Thus began my journey through yo-yo diets and failed attempts at losing weight.
I literally tried every single diet out there. At one point, I was starving myself on the “lemonade” diet and only drinking a nasty concoction of hot water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and honey. I’d lose 5 lbs after dieting for months, get discouraged and start eating again.
Finally, it clicked for me (Stick around for my next blog to see what my new “diet/lifestyle” is all about). I got serious about losing weight and lost 12o pounds in a little less than 2 years. But there is still one major problem… Even though I’ve lost 120 pounds and I’m at a weight I would have died to be at 4 years ago, I just don’t notice the difference.
I’ve had body image issues since middle school. The teasing and constant nagging about dieting has taken its toll on my mind. My parents were great… don’t get me wrong. They loved me unconditionally and always encouraged me to be the best person I could be. We very rarely talked about weight (except when my mom and I dieted together). The ridicule came from other kids.
Here’s the take home point I’d like to make: If you’re a parent of an overweight child, don’t make a big deal about their weight. Don’t over analyze everything they eat. Don’t criticize them. Trust me, they get enough teasing from other kids, they do not need it from their parents. Take all the junk food and unhealthy items out of your home and start cooking healthy family meals. Don’t say you’re going on a diet, just say you’re trying new recipes (better yet, say nothing at all). Take family walks together or play a family game in the back yard.
Most importantly… THINK ABOUT HOW YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR WEIGHT AND LOOKS IN FRONT OF YOUR CHILDREN. If your child hears you saying you’re ugly, need a face lift, need to go on a diet, etc. they’ll soon be saying the same things. Be positive about all the great things that make you who you are. If you’ve got laugh lines that you want to get filled in, don’t complain about the laugh lines in front of your children… be thankful that you’ve had a lot to laugh about during your lifetime.
Please check out our health section for more information on body image, dieting and encouraging your children to exercise. In my next blog I’ll discuss how I lost 120 pounds!
Thanks for reading,
Hello readers, as boring as it may be, I’m going to start out by introducing myself to you all…
I’m Brittany and I’m the newest addition to the Hudson Valley Parent family. About 4 months ago, I was hired as the Editorial Assistant. I must say, I really love working here at HVParent. Our entire staff is great and so much fun to be around.
Since I came on board, I’ve worked a lot with our social media sites. If you’re not already our friend on facebook, I hope you’ll take a moment to join us (shameless plug… I know).
Now for some
boring background about me… I’m originally from North Carolina. I moved to New York 6 months ago to be with my boyfriend, Bill. Bill and I met through my baseball-focused, radio show I used to host called “A Show of Their Own.” The show is now archived online, but I’ll spare you the shameless plug.
Prior to HVP, I worked as a high school basketball, softball and volleyball coach… which transitioned me to sports-talk radio and now logically to working for a parenting publication! Working for HV Parent is a combination of everything I love: writing, editing, interviewing, videos, photography, social media, even some graphic design! Not to mention, I get to think up crazy ideas for new things to offer our readers!
Now, I’ll admit, I’ve been putting off blogging for a while. I have several blogs of my own, but couldn’t decided on an angle for this new HVParent blog of mine. BUT I finally figured it out.
Since, I made you read this long blog all about me, I guess it’s time for me to unveil my new blog and what exactly it will be about (drum roll please….)
Gym Class Hero will focus on living a healthy lifestyle. I’ll discuss everything from sports, weight loss, activities for the kids, nutrition… anything. I recently lost 120 pounds… yep 120! I’m still 30 pounds away from my goal weight and cannot wait to share my journey with all of you. I’m a sports nut and have had some great experiences I want to share with
(y’all) you all. My goal for this blog is to have something for everyone… mom, dad, kids, grandparents, etc. I hope you’ll continue reading my musings and comment away!
Thanks for reading,
Cooking for a weekend breakfast is one of my favorite things about a Saturday or Sunday morning. Over time, I’ve collected a number of breakfast recipes that are delicious but sure to get the day started off right, and this waffle recipe always brings rave reviews. It has a number of ingredients, but don’t be deterred– they’re all found in your local grocery store, and the few minutes it takes to assemble them are worth the effort. Recently when making these, I tripled the recipe and was able to make two packages for the freezer in addition to breakfast. We enjoyed these a second and third time around, by popping them right into the toaster to be crisped, and it was nice to have fresh waffles with no mess.
On this particular morning, I added pumpkin puree to the batter, and paired the waffles with spinach and cheese omelets (with egg whites), and fruit salad. However, this recipe stands alone without pumpkin, or it could be made with banana, or another favorite fruit. On other occasions, we’ve added blueberries, chopped strawberries, or even chocolate chips to the batter.
Whole grain (pumpkin) waffles
1 3/4 cups skim milk (low-fat buttermilk can be used instead for a tangy waffle)
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin or other fruit (optional)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup wheat germ, OR wheat bran, OR oat bran
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, applesauce, pumpkin, and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flours, flax seed meal, wheat germ, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Pour dry ingredients into wet, and mix until batter is smooth.
Preheat a waffle iron, and coat with cooking spray. Pour batter into waffle iron in batches, and cook until crisp and golden brown. Yield: Five to six large, round waffles.
In planning family dinners, it is easy to feel that meal is not a ”real meal” if it isn’t, a) hot and b) involve lots of raw ingredients, measuring spoons, and at least a few pots and pans. I’m the first to admit that I don’t always make my life easier, and often ignore the shortcuts out there. With the unusually hectic life we’ve been leading around here lately, I challenged myself to plan a dinner that was still nutritious and desirable, yet quicker, and resulting in less mess than usual. Especially with the warmer weather approaching, it’s nice to have a few meals in your repertoire that won’t heat up the kitchen or cause you to spend lots of time there, and instead allow you to get out and enjoy those gorgeous blue skies.
A recent “No-cook dinner”
This dinner was extremely quick to prepare and one of my favorites of the last few weeks. Starting with a whole-grain sandwich thin roll (any roll will do), I added sliced deli turkey, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach, and fresh mozzarella cheese. I like my sandwiches toasted, so I popped this into the toaster oven, but it could easily have been eaten cold, or even put in a microwave or conventional oven if desired. While the sandwich was toasting, I cut up an apple, pear, and grapes, and tossed them together. I was about to steam some vegetables when I remembered I wasn’t “cooking,” so I decided to slice some red peppers, pair it with baby carrots, and call it a day. In less than ten minutes, dinner was made, I had only a cutting board and knife to wash, my kitchen was cool and clean, and the food was ready to eat. A simple meal, yes, but less expensive than take-out, quicker than a frozen pizza, and healthier than many pre-packaged alternatives. Most importantly, everyone liked it, and I had more time to relax with my family. I’m looking forward to my next no-cook night! Knowing what your crew likes, feel free to try this one using leftover chicken, deli ham, skip the tomatoes (as I did for my children), or add a more exciting cheese.
One of the greatest meals I recently cooked was a seven lb. turkey breast. The reason it was so great was because we ate from it on and off for the next five days! Every time I thought we’d finish it, there was more for the next meal. Enjoying leftovers makes a cook’s job worth it: it gives the opportunity to keep the kitchen a little cleaner, and get a break from dealing with ingredients, pots, and pans. Leftovers, however, are tricky. While some look forward to the marrying of the flavors that occurs overnight, others eye Tupperware with disdain. I have some friends whose husbands won’t touch leftovers, not even if they come from the finest restaurant. The key to not getting bored with leftovers is to do different things with them. If we’d eaten a plain plate of turkey day after day, we’d have gone crazy by day two. If you’re looking for something that will make your life easier for the next few days, get a turkey breast from your local grocer and give this list a try.
A crunchy turkey sandwich
The actual preparation of the turkey breast is quite easy. I’ve made it twice recently- once roasted in the oven, which is the traditional preparation, and once in the crock pot, loosely following the directions of Make it Fast, Cook it Slow. The author recommends a stick of butter and two cups of white wine, but to keep it a little healthier, we did half a stick of butter, one cup of broth, and one cup of wine. The first night we had it with vegetables, mashed potatoes, and fruit, and it felt like a mini-Thanksgiving. After that we got creative. At times it felt like the turkey would never go away, but when it did, I was sad to know the bounty had come to an end.
If you’re feeling stumped, here are the top 10 ways we use up extra turkey:
- Piled on a toasted crusty roll, with melted cheese (as above)
- Chunks of turkey in vegetable/rice soup
- Tetrazzini casserole
- Wrapped in a tortilla with your favorite fixin’s, rice, beans, salsa, and cheese are all good ones
- In between two pieces of bread (my husband’s first choice: All-American with mayo, lettuce, tomato, and bacon)
- Mixed with some ranch dressing and eaten with whole wheat crackers
- Atop a homemade pizza
- Stir-fried with some veggies in a terriyaki sauce
- Added to a bowl of pasta
- Under the crust of a bubbly pot-pie
This past Saturday I had a chance to enjoy a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. My class was The Italian Table with Chef Andrew Moreo. It was the most fun I’ve had in a very long time. There’s no hiding it, I’m not skilled in the kitchen. Chopping, flombaying, and sautéing all scare me. But after taking the class, I know longer have a fear. If you mess up in the kitchen, it’s okay, it’s all part of the fun. I grew such boldness that when one of my classmates asked if she could borrow my “cheese grater” after I was done, I said “Sure, but it’s actually a zester.” Well, well.
There are a number of classes you can take and even a “Parent and Teen” day coming up on April 30th. I recommend trying one, you may surprise yourself. Thanks to the Culinary Institute, Chef Andrew and my classmates for a fun day. Look for my article about my day in the upcoming issue of Hudson Valley Life.
I’ll leave you with a taste of some of the yummy food you can create!
One kitchen time-saver that I’ve relied on heavily since having children is cooking ahead. There are many cookbooks that are suited to this method, two of my favorites being, “Fix Freeze Feast,” and “Dinners in the Freezer.” Beyond these cookbooks, I often cook ahead by doubling favorite recipes, specifically chicken dishes and crock pot meals, then portioning out half before we eat (this is key!), and freezing it for another time. I don’t typically plan these meals into our weekly menus, but rather save them as back-ups for when the afternoon has gone awry and a quick dinner is needed. Mostly, I use them when someone isn’t feeling well and no one has the energy to cook. It has been a healthier and more affordable option than relying on take-out.
Recently, I made this meal when the afternoon got too hectic and I had to abandon my original dinner plans. To have the chicken on hand in your freezer, slice three lbs. of chicken breasts into strips one-inch across. Sprinkle with your favorite mexican seasoning (I use McCormick’s low-sodium taco seasoning if I don’t have time to make my own) and cook on a griddle or skillet on medium-heat until cooked through. Use one lb. in that night’s dinner, and portion the remaining chicken into quart-sized freezer bags of one lb. each. It’s great for burritos, quesadillas, or enchiladas, and can be combined with beans, rice, or whatever you enjoy. In this instance, I mixed one lb. of the thawed, cooked chicken with 1/4 cup each of: light sour cream, light shredded cheddar, salsa, and pureed butternut squash and cauliflower (also from the freezer). Mixing and wrapping are good steps with which kids can help; my daughter loved stirring, and watching all of the colors blend in the bowl. We spooned the mixture into whole grain tortillas, baked at 350 for 25 minutes, steamed broccoli, cut-up fruit, and dinner was done.
Every chef (moms especially) needs a go-to recipe that everyone loves, is quick and easy to make, and doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store. In our house, that has become a garden vegetable soup that can stand in as a lunch or dinner, and range from a vegetarian dish to a balanced and hearty meal.
How to enjoy this meal
I was inspired by Weight Watcher’s zero point soup recipe from the 1990s, and designed a family friendly meal we could eat over and over. In a medium-sized pot, stir together six cups of broth (chicken or vegetable) and four tablespoons of tomato paste. Add vegetables, filling to just over the top of the liquid. Vegetables are the first place where you can really customize this: add a bag of frozen mixed veggies; fresh chopped broccoli, carrots, cauliflower; green leafy veggies like spinach or kale; even onions and peppers if you want a little kick. Stir in your seasonings: a teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano (fresh herbs if you’re lucky enough to have a garden on your sill), kosher salt and pepper to taste, and some chopped garlic and onion powder. Cook on high until the liquids boil, then simmer on medium-low until the vegetables soften. Finally, have fun making this dish your own, and don’t be afraid to tap into last night’s leftovers to round out the meal. Some favorites to toss in:
- Mini turkey meatballs
- A few ounces of leftover grilled chicken or turkey
- Kidney or cannellini beans
- Last night’s cooked orzo, brown rice, or whole grain pasta
- Whole wheat crackers, or even whole grain goldfish crackers to entice a little one
- Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
If your child would balk at the thought of a bowl full of vegetable soup, you can get a little crafty and puree with an immersion blender, food processor, or even regular blender. I’m fortunate that my kids will eat a bowl of vegetable soup willingly, but I know plenty that would not. Finally, don’t hesitate to send this to school with your child in a thermos; mine love when I do so.
All parents of children with disabilities worry about the day when they will no longer be able to care for them. While many parents have figured out ways to make life more comfortable for a child with disabilities while they are around, thinking about a time when they can no longer be personally responsible for their child’s well-being can be stressful.
Many parents believe that they can continue to care for their child with special needs by leaving money to a relative. This seems like a good idea because a relative knows the child personally and parents think they can trust them to care for their children. However, relatives are not legally bound to spend the money left to them on the child. In addition to this, the money can be taken from the appointed relative by a number of different parties, including creditors. Also, the money may be lost in a divorce settlement.
Many parents also make the mistake of leaving money to one of their children who does not have a disability, expecting this child to care for the one with special needs. However, this may be a bad idea because it also does not legally bind the child to use this money to care for the sibling with the disability. Also, doing so can pose undue stress on the sibling. If he or she already has to deal with the pain of losing parents, it may be too difficult for the sibling to deal with the added responsibility of caring for a child with special needs.
Rather than entrusting money directly to a relative or sibling, parents should consider forming a Special Needs Trust. Doing so will ensure that the child will be well taken care of and that the money devoted to this cause will not be taken by any other source and must be used for the purpose for which it was intended. Establishing a Special Needs Trust for a child with a disability is the best way to ensure the quality of his or her care in the future.
It’s not uncommon to come across a new recipe and decide it looks enticing, until taking a second look. Despite the knowledge that whole grains are healthier than refined grains, eating more produce lowers your risk of many health problems, and less sugar is better than more, many cookbooks and magazines are filled with recipes based upon white flour, sugar, and butter. Instead, I often slightly modify or enhance a recipe, so that we can still enjoy it, but know it’s good for us. You don’t have to be incredibly creative and reinvent the wheel, but rather, you can round it out.
A recent day of recipe enhancing
This lovely muffin is a banana blueberry bran muffin, based on a recipe by the Barefoot Contessa. The recipe appeared healthy until I looked closer and saw it was high in fat and refined grains. In order to improve it, I substituted whole wheat pastry flour for half of the white flour, used frozen blueberries instead of raisins, skim milk instead of buttermilk, and omitted the nuts. The calories were almost halved, and it now was filled with whole grains and natural fruits. Serve it with some orange slices and some skim milk, and you’ve got a nice start to the day!
Roasted chickpeas are a healthy treat that I learned about from the Sneaky Chef. These are so easy to make: canned chickpeas are rinsed, seasoned, and roasted on a greased baking sheet at 350 for an hour. They make a crunchy snack, and my kids love them. They’re great in the place of goldfish crackers, and I often toss a handful in my daughter’s lunchbox. I sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on the chickpeas before roasting, but use a little less than recommended in the book. They can also be seasoned with onion powder, garlic, or other spices if you’re looking for a savory snack.
And finally, our dinner for that evening– a peanut butter chicken dish from Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, my favorite crock pot cookbook. This one would be easy to make in the oven or even skillet. It’s a great recipe, but doesn’t call for many vegetables, so that’s where I step in. First, I add 1/2 cup of pureed butternut squash to the sauce along with 1/2 cup of chicken broth– this makes it saucy enough to serve over noodles. Next, once I serve it, I add steamed matchstick carrots and red peppers, along with sides of broccoli and fruit salad. My kids loved it, and it was the type of recipe that was simple to double, and then freeze half for another meal.