Recipe: Quick Salsa

I have been on a Mexican food kick lately and have been going through a LOT of salsa.  This quick salsa is a cinch to make.  Just throw a few things in the food processor, blend, and enjoy!

Quick Salsa

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained (Recommended: Hunt's)
1 can Rotel, drained (Mild, Original, or Hot will work)
1/2 jalapeno, seeds and veins removed
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
Juice of half a lime
Handful of fresh cilantro
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. 

Prepare salsa a couple of hours prior to serving for the best flavor.

Yield:  About 2 cups (8 servings)
Approximate Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 23
Fat: 0 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Protein: 0.8 grams
Carbohydrates: 5.5 grams
Fiber: 0.9 grams


Weigh-In: Week 8

Thank you guys so much for the support this week!  After my lackluster weigh-in last week, I was feeling pretty low.  I was surprised and really touched by how many people reached out to me and egged me on for this week.  It really helped me to say, "So you had a bad week.  So what?  This is a new week!"  It was a great week.  Even though I still haven't seen a huge loss on the scale, I will take any loss.  Plus, I know I had a great week this week because I feel great!  I woke up this morning with a ton of energy and can't wait to tackle this next week head on.  I'm so close to losing that first 10 pounds!

Beginning Weight: 279.0
Week 8 Weight: 276.4

Week 8 Weight Loss: 2.6 pounds

Total Weight Loss: 9.8 pounds 


Setting Mini-Goals

For those of you who have been reading over the last couple weeks, you know I have been struggling with trying to really get myself into the weight loss mindset.  I will do great for a few days and think I am on the right track just to fall right back into my old habits.  I mentioned last week that I think it is because I have such a large amount of weight to lose.  I'm not trying to make excuses, but it really is hard to focus on weight loss when losing so much weight seems like such a huge, insurmountable hurdle to get over. 

Realistically, I need to lose about 120 pounds to be at a healthy weight.  I could probably lose even more (closer to 150 pounds) to be at the weight that is supposedly "ideal" for my height.  This number gets a tad overwhelming to me when I think about the last two months of struggling just to lose 8 pounds.

So...I have decided to take a different approach.  I am going to try to stop thinking about the big picture for a while and just focus on some mini-goals.  I want to break everything up into manageable goals so that I feel like I am really working toward something and achieving something every week.  Sometimes you just have to play some mind games with yourself.  :)

My goal for this week is going to be to work out at least 30 minutes a day 5 days this week (which I did already today..Yay!) and to lose 2 pounds at this week's weigh-in.

Are any of you setting any mini-goals this week?  Have you recently reached any of your goals?  Tell me about it!  I would love to hear and celebrate with you. 


Recipe: Pico De Gallo

A low-calorie salsa or sauce is a great way to add a punch of flavor to an otherwise bland dish.  One of my favorite fresh salsas is pico de gallo.  I put this stuff on everything and love to just eat it with baked tortilla chips as a healthy, quick snack.  Be sure to prepare the pico a couple hours before you want to serve it.  The flavors need time to come together.

Pico De Gallo

5 Roma tomatoes
1 medium red onion
1/2 a jalapeno (or more if you want it hotter)
1 large clove of garlic
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar (unnecessary if you're using homegrown tomatoes)

Dice tomatoes and red onion.  Remove seeds and ribs from jalapeno and dice the jalapeno very finely.  Mince the garlic clove or press through a garlic press.  Roughly chop the fresh cilantro. 

Combine tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro in a bowl.  Add lime juice, salt, and sugar.  Thoroughly mix all ingredients. 

Allow the flavors to combine in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Enjoy!

Yield: 6 servings

Approximate Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 25
Fat: 0.1 grams
Saturated Fat: 0.0 grams
Protein: 0.8 grams
Carbohydrates: 5.9 grams
Fiber: 1.2 grams


Recipe: Fire-Roasted Shrimp Linguine

What could be better than a big plate of linguine smothered in a homemade fire-roasted red sauce?  Well, how about throw a bunch of shrimp in it?  You could even use any other seafood you've got on hand...scallops, clams, crab, lobster.  I like using the smaller size shrimp for this so you get one (or two) with every bite.  This dish comes together quickly, so it's perfect for any night of the week.  It's also fancy enough to entertain with.  Serve with a salad or a green vegetable, and you've got a very satisfying meal.

Fire-Roasted Shrimp Linguine
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  Healthified by Shrinkella.

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (14 ounces)  Recommended: Hunt's
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounces) Recommended: Hunt's
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 pound 51-60 size shrimp (thawed if you're using frozen), peeled and de-veined
1/2 pound linguine (half a 16-ounce package)
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 Tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)

Cook pasta half of the recommended time on the package in a large pot of boiling and salted water.  Drain and set aside. 

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Saute garlic for about a minute.  Be careful not to burn it.  Add tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper, sugar, and red pepper flakes to the skillet and simmer about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. 

Throw your shrimp in the skillet and stir to coat them with sauce. 

Combine half-cooked pasta with the fire-roasted red sauce and shrimp in an oven-safe baking dish.  Top with fresh parsley. 

Cover the dish and bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes.  Enjoy!

Yield: 4 servings

Approximate Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 404
Fat: 5.9 grams
Saturated Fat: 0.9 grams
Protein: 32.6 grams
Carbohydrates: 55.8 grams
Fiber: 3.8 grams


Weigh-in: Week 7 (!@#*&!*#)

This week did not go well at all.  I don't know what happened.  I just completely lost my focus.  Every day I got up and said to myself, Okay.  This day will be good, but then I went crazy with food pretty much every day.  Then I blinked and it was time for another weigh-in!  I was so scared to step on the scale this morning.  Luckily, it wasn't that bad.  I need to get it together though and make this happen.  I think once I have lost a few more pounds and actually start seeing a real difference, it will get a little easier.  Right now, I just think about how much weight I need to lose and feel completely overwhelmed sometimes.  But...next week is another week.

Beginning Weight: 277.8
Week 7 Weight: 279.0

Week 7 Weight Loss: 1.2 pound GAIN (Boooo!)

Total Weight Loss: 7.2 pounds


Recipe: 100% Whole Wheat Freezer Waffles

Just because you're eating healthy doesn't mean you have to give up all of the comfort foods you love.  These waffles are made with a combination of whole wheat pastry flour and white whole wheat flour to produce something nobody would ever guess is 100% whole wheat.  The coconut oil adds some good fat to the mix.  Serve with a pat of butter and some real maple syrup or any other topping you can think of (peanut butter and bananas come to mind or strawberries and whipped cream).  These filling waffles make a quick breakfast, lunch, dinner or even dessert.

FREEZER FRIENDLY:  These waffles are so easy to make ahead of time and freeze.  Once the waffles are cooked and thoroughly cooled, place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for about 4 hours to flash freeze them.  Once they are frozen, individually wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer storage bag.  Waffles should last for 3-6 months in the freezer.

To reheat:  Toast in a toaster or toaster oven for about 5 minutes or until heated through and crisp on the outside.

100% Whole Wheat Waffles
     A Shrinkella Original

2 eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil (Recommended: Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl.  Add milk, vanilla extract, applesauce, sugar, and salt and stir to combine.  Add both kinds of flour to the milk mixture and mix until just combined.  Don't worry if it's still a little lumpy.
Melt the coconut oil in the microwave and add it in.  If your mixture is cold, the coconut oil will start to harden up again and make the waffle batter thick.  That's fine.  It will not affect the deliciousness!

Don't overmix the batter.  Stir until the coconut oil is just incorporated (a wisk is helpful).

If you have a Belgian-style waffle maker that makes huge waffles (like mine), use about 3/4 cup of batter per waffle.

Yield: 5 Huge Waffles (1/2 waffle is 1 serving) 10 servings

Approximate Nutrition Facts Per Serving (Based on 10 servings):
Calories: 182
Fat: 7.6 grams
Saturated Fat: 5.5 grams
Protein: 5.3 grams
Carbohydrates: 23.4 grams
Fiber: 3.3 grams

Note: Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, but not all saturated fats are created equal.  This saturated fat is actually GOOD for you.  Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats you can eat.  Plus, it gives a really yummy hint of coconut to these waffles.  If you don't like coconut, try these!  The coconut flavor is very subtle.


Pea Shoots

I will admit it...I love peas.  I really do.  My mom said when I was a little kid, I would always say, "More peas pweas."  I even eat them frozen right out of the bag.  Is that weird? 

Anyway, the past couple of gardening seasons, I have been growing shell peas, sugar snap peas, and snow peas.  The problem is that fresh peas are in season for only a few weeks and...well, I want peas all the time.  A few weeks ago, I read somewhere that you can actually eat the pea plant itself, aka pea shoots.  I decided I would throw some of my leftover pea seed in a disposable pie dish with some dirt and see what happened.

In less than 2 weeks, I was awarded with pea shoots about a foot long that were ready to harvest.

So what did they taste like?  Well, they tasted just like yummy fresh peas!  It's amazing.  Who knew?  I didn't have very many, so I just sauteed them up with a teeny bit of butter and a clove of garlic.  Yum!  Perfect super healthy side dish.  You could also add them raw to a salad or throw them in with some pasta. 

I'm getting ready to plant some more right now.  Growing pea shoots is fun!  Have you ever seen pea shoots available at a store or the farmer's market? 


Weigh-In: Week 6

It was yet another week of slow and steady progress.  I am just praying that I get through February right now so I can step it up in the spring.  This winter has been hard on me physically and especially emotionally, and I am very ready to see the sun again.

Beginning Weight: 278.6
Week 6 Weight: 277.8

Week 6 Weight Loss: 0.8 pounds

Total Weight Loss: 8.4 pounds


Freezer Find: Chung's Spring Rolls

Photo courtesy of Chungs.com

I am SO excited to share this yummy find with you guys!  Anytime I visit my family in Kansas City, I always go to the "big city grocery store" and look for new products to try.  While I was browsing the freezer section this week, I found some of Chung's Vegetable Spring Rolls. 

I LOVE spring rolls (the fried kind) and love Asian food in general, but spring rolls are not something I've mastered cooking from scratch, so I thought I would have to cut them out of my new healthy life.  Well, not so!  These are baked without thawing in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.  They are AMAZING!  They are super crunchy, just like the fried ones from the Chinese take-out place, but with no added oil. 

Now, normally I am not a fan of frozen foods at all, but these do not taste like something from a box.  To me, they are right up there with the best I've gotten from a restaurant.

And check out this ingredient list: 
Crust: Unbleached natural wheat flour, water  (Yeah, that's it!)
Filling: Cabbage, carrots, soy powder, mung bean vermicelli, onions, celery, palm oil, soy sauce, raw sugar, natural flavors, sesame oil, sea salt.
Dipping sauce: Water, raw sugar, pineapple juice, tomato paste, fresh lemon, corn starch, salt, citric acid.

I personally wasn't a fan of the dipping sauce, but I loved the rolls just on their own.

And the best part...2 spring rolls are only 190 calories and 5 grams of fat!  This is my new go-to quick lunch paired with some steamed or stir-fried veggies on the side.

For more information or to find out where you can find these little gems, visit Chung's website.  Just as a disclaimer, they are NOT paying me or compensating me in any way for this post.  I just found these spring rolls and really loved them, so I thought I would share.  :)


If you can't find it, grow it yourself

I live in a very small town.  The nearest grocery store is a 40-minute round trip.  And let me tell you...the grocery store SUCKS!  Anytime I travel to Kansas City to see my family, I always hit all the local grocery stores and stock up on some hard-to-find items.  Lately, though, I've been experimenting with growing some of the more expensive and hard-to-find things myself.


I love all kinds of Asian cuisine and absolutely adore bok choy.  If you've never tried it, bok choy is in the cabbage family and has a hint of mustard flavor.  It's amazing in soup or stir-fry.  The only kind of bok choy I can find at my grocery store is a huge honkin' monster, but I've found that the best bok choy is baby bok choy.

Since I can't find baby bok choy anywhere, I decided to experiment with growing it myself.  News flash!!  Bok choy grows SO fast.  I started seeds about 3 weeks ago, and I now am the proud mama of some baby bok choy.  It is so cute, too (and I'm not just saying that because they're my babies).  I'm going to let them grow for another week or two.  Then they'll be turned into a healthy and fabulous baby bok choy and shrimp soup.  I'll be sure to post the recipe.

Lettuce and most culinary herbs are super easy to grow indoors as well, whether under grow lights or just in a sunny windowsill.  It will save you tons of money (herbs are expensive!!).

Do you grow your own produce or herbs?


Weigh-In: Week 5

Well, this picture pretty much sums up the week.  We've been digging out from 2 feet of snow, the most I can really ever remember getting at one time.  On top of the crazy weather we've been having, the next few weeks are going to be brutal for me.  I've been completely swamped with work and the two night classes I'm taking are getting the best of me.   I have been focusing on eating right and trying to squeeze in exercise whenever I can.  I just feel like I'm getting pulled in a million directions right now, and the scale shows it.  I'm not giving up, though.  I will lose the weight for good this time...little by little!

Beginning Weight: 279.8
Week 5 Weight: 278.6

Week 5 Weight Loss: 1.2 pounds

Total Weight Loss: 7.6 pounds


Creating a Shrinkworthy Kitchen: Part 1

I am a big believer that in order to lose weight and get healthy, you have to take charge in the kitchen and start preparing your own meals.  Sure, you can find healthy-ish choices when eating out.  The problem is it is just so hard to really know what you're getting at a restaurant.  And for me, I need to avoid temptation at all costs!  If I go to a restaurant, I'm definitely not going to be thinking about the grilled chicken and steamed veggies.

Cooking gets a lot easier when you have a well-stocked pantry and some basic kitchen tools.  Making meals can turn into a relaxing and stress-free experience.

Quick note:  Everything I recommend is something I bought through Amazon myself and have used and love, love, love.  I am a self-diagnosed Amazon junkie!  If you are interested in getting FREE Amazon gift cards using Swagbucks, find out more here. 

Kitchen Prep Helpers

A Good Knife
  • This is my #1 most important kitchen tool.  I LOVE this knife!  Chopping veggies goes so quickly and effortlessly with this knife.  I've had mine for over two years, and it still slices easily through whatever I throw at it. 

Paring Knife
  • I use my Santoku knife for almost everything, but there are some jobs that need a smaller knife.  This paring knife is great for peeling oranges or slicing fruit like apples and strawberries.  You can even peel veggies with this great knife.  I absolutely love the Victorinox brand because the knives are high quality, but the price is affordable!

A Cutting Board
  • What's a great knife without a cutting board?  This board is big enough to hold a lot of chopped veggies and sturdy enough to stay in place while chopping (great for a clutz like me), but it's not too heavy.  Plus, it looks great on the counter!

Garlic Press
  • This garlic press makes life SO much easier.  I use a ton of garlic in my healthy cooking and having fresh garlic with one quick squeeze is much faster and less messy than chopping it.

  • I never knew how essential tongs were until I got them.  I use them all the time.  They are great for grilling or tossing veggies and salads.