Monday, October 22, 2012

Recipe: Corn Chowder with Chicken

I am always looking for a different recipe that I can make for my family.  This is not low fat, so you'll want to be sure to eat in moderation since it uses heavy cream.  But I can tell you, even my five year old loved this one! I made a homemade beer bread to have with it, and it went perfectly together (comfort food).

Corn Chowder with Chicken
yields 8 servings

5 strips thick cut bacon; sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 sweet onion, diced
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (I left this out and it was still delish!)
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon chipotle seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you like some heat)
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
6-8 ears corn
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken; I use rotisserie chicken from the local market
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
green onions; sliced for garnish

1. In a large soup pan, cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp; remove bacon with a slotted spoon and allow to drain and reserve for garnish.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, jalapeno and thyme to the bacon drippings and cook until the vegetables are soft; about 8 to 10 minutes. Dust the vegetables with flour, chipotle seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and stir to coat well.
3. Cook vegetables, flour and seasonings for 2 minutes; stir frequently.
4. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the cream and the potatoes, bring to a rapid boil. Allow soup to boil hard for about 7 minutes, until the potatoes break down. This process will help thicken the soup.

5. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add in the cooked chicken. Simmer until the corn is soft and chicken is heated through; about 10 to 12 minutes.

6. Stir in the parsley. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the reserved bacon and green onions.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Recipe: Lighter General Tso’s Chicken

 Another fabulous recipe I found here.  Kelly, from No Thanks To Cake only posts the best recipes, and I have to say, there hasn't been one I've got from her site that I haven't enjoyed immensely!  I have a hard time eating regular Chinese food since having bariatric surgery.  I think they must add too much fat to it, I am not sure, but it makes me sick as a dog!  So, I have found some lighter alternatives to it and boy does it taste better too!  I think the only thing I will change (for my daughter's sake) is use a smaller amount of red pepper flakes, it was too spicy for her.  I used the full 1/2 teaspoon.  My husband & I loved it spicy, but when cooking for the family, I will tone it down a notch so she'll eat it.  I made rice for the family, but you really don't even need it with all the extra veggies giving it so much volume. DELICIOUS!  You need to try it...super easy!
Lighter General Tso’s Chicken

Adapted From No Thanks To Cake
Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (1TB of it for sauce, the rest (3TB) for chicken mixture)
  • 1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 3 cups of broccoli cuts
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, (I tried using PAM Spray but it kept sticking and added a TB of oil for each batch of chicken)

Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce & red-pepper flakes, set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).

Add onion to skillet and cook until cooked, then add snow-pea & broccoli mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a min or two.  Stir in sauce mixture. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice for the family.

Enjoy! ~ Mara

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Recipe: Easy Butternut Skillet Shells

My photos are stuck on my camera that I can't get on (will add them as soon as I can)... so I am going to show you the photo that inspired me to make this the other night (below).  I can't even tell you how simple this was to make and delicious it was to eat!  The recipe made enough for 4 of us to have large servings, and then 3 lunches from it, and I still have a little bit left for a late night snack tonight!

photo & recipe from here

I LOVE butternut squash, my hubby...not so much. I normally do not make things I know he does not like but I saw the photo above and thought to myself, I NEED to make this asap!  Glad I did. I made this exactly as the recipe recommends.

 Butternut Squash Shells and Cheese Skillet
Yield: serves 4-6 Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 45-50 minutes


3 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta shells
4 cups 1/2-inch cubed uncooked butternut squash (I bought it already peeled)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups skim milk (or unsweetened almond or coconut)
6 ounces freshly grated fontina cheese
2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted brown butter
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
fresh chopped herbs for garnish (sage, basil, cilantro, thyme)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare water for pasta and once it comes to a boil, cook pasta according to directions, then drain.  While water is boiling, heat a large cast-iron (or oven-safe) skillet over medium-low heat. Add olive oil, then toss in squash with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add stock and cover skillet, cooking for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is soft and can easily be mashed. Remove cover and reduce heat to low. Mash squash with a potato masher or forks, smoothing it out with a spoon to remove all of the chunks. Add in milk, 4 ounces of fontina and all of the Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. If mixture still seems way too starchy, add in additional milk 1/4 cup at a time, stirring for a while. Stir in brown butter, again mixing for a minute or so until incorporated. Taste and season additionally if desired.  Fold shells into the sauce, taking a few minutes to fully toss the shells so they are all coated. Top with remaining fontina cheese (or as much as you see fit) and breadcrumbs and bake for 15 minutes. If a bubbly, golden topping is desired, broil for 1-2 minutes on high after cooking. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve!

To brown the butter:
Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add butter. Whisking constantly, cook butter until bubbly and until small brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan – about 5-6 minutes. Watch closely and immediately remove the butter from the heat, whisking for an additional 30 seconds or so.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Recipe: Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Recipe adapted from

Who doesn't LOVE Peanut butter cookies??!!

These are so simple, delicious and even my full sugar eating hubby loves them!  I also love how quick you can whip these up, if unexpected company is coming over. 



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Thoroughly mix together the peanut butter, sucralose, and eggs in a bowl. Drop mixture by spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until center appears dry, about 8 minutes.

Nutritional Information
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 145 | Total Fat: 11.7g | Cholesterol: 18mg
Powered by ESHA Nutrient Database

Enjoy! ~ Mara

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Article: Women’s Self-Defense Techniques That Actually Work

Therefore, whenever I teach self-defense, I emphasize three things: knowledge of human anatomy, accuracy and commitment to executing the technique. Mastering these elements will increase the likelihood of thwarting an attack on the street.

The human body has vulnerable areas, as well as parts that make excellent weapons. Therefore, to mount an effective defense, you must know exactly where to strike, how hard and with what.

Overrated Women’s Self-Defense Techniques

In general, punching someone in the ribs is an overrated self-defense technique because most women haven’t learned how to punch hard enough to have much of an effect. Elbow strikes and knee strikes are right on the borderline of being overrated because if you’re not accurate when you throw the shot or if you don’t choose a vulnerable target, it won’t cause much damage. On the other hand, both moves are wonderful close-range tools, and they can be devastating when done properly.

Most kicks are also overrated. At the top of the list is kicking to the head. If you’re not flexible and haven’t had extensive training in kicking, or if the surface you’re standing on is unstable, your chances of pulling off a high leg technique are slim to none. Unless you’re very familiar with anatomy, even kicks to the solar plexus are iffy. Kicking or kneeing an assailant in the groin is a wonderful strategy if you actually hit the target.
Regardless of the technique—the front kick is good but the side kick is tougher—there’s a chance the stress will make you inadvertently hit him in the thigh, and that kind of contact won’t stop a man who’s used to physical aggression.

Use Self-Defense Techniques to Strike Vital Targets

Rather than kicking, I prefer to rely on my hands for striking vital targets because they’re designed to execute tasks with accuracy regardless of whether the technique involves gross or fine motor skills. For example, I know that if I palm a man in the groin, I can grab and crush his testicles with my fingers without having to use much strength. There will be no question of whether I’ve hit a vulnerable target, and the comfort of that knowledge is highly underrated. Similarly, open-hand strikes to the windpipe are better anchored and more likely to hit their target than are punches.

In general, I don’t recommend that women grapple with an attacker. Once you’re on the ground, you’re sacrificing yourself and any advantage you may have had while you were standing in terms of incapacitating him and/or running away. It’s also a lot easier for two assailants to overcome you when you’re down. However, if your attacker manages to get on top of you, you can still fight back. Go for his eyes, windpipe and groin, all which are vulnerable while his hands are occupied.

In a life-threatening situation, you can bite a vital part of your assailant’s body to get him off you and buy yourself a few extra seconds to escape. Weigh this option carefully, though: If he’s HIV-positive or has some other contagious disease, you’ll risk contracting the illness.

Commit to Your Self-Defense Techniques

One element of self-defense training that can’t be overrated is learning to commit to your techniques. Many women are put off by the “gross factor” of gouging an eye; others are reluctant to hurt the person who’s trying to rape or kill them. The only way to overcome these feelings is to practice the self-defense techniques over and over on a willing partner. Teaching a woman to pull a strike in class is not recommended because it lulls her into believing she’ll be able to use it to incapacitate an assailant, even though she’s never used it on a training partner.

The best way to learn self-defense is to slowly introduce a few basic, realistic self-defense techniques into your repertoire without using power, speed or strength. Practice them with a partner who’s pretending to be an attacker. Once you’re comfortable doing that and see the other person isn’t upset or hurt, gradually increase the speed and power of your blows as he comes at you full speed and with full power. Experiencing the way he reacts to your defense will increase your confidence, bring out your animal instinct and open all kinds of wonderful options for your counterattack.

(Kathy Long is a five-time kickboxing champion, a kung fu san soo expert and a member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ways to add Balance and Simplify

  • Take twenty minutes every few days to turn up the music and dance with your kids.  (cardio and play time all at once)
  • Only touch your mail once.  Pick a time of day that you can spend going through it, and file it, toss it or deal with it.
  • When you make dinner double the recipe and freeze half of it for a later date.
  • Commit to five minutes a day to do your make-up.  Seriously that is all you need.
  • Know what you are going to have for dinner by noon everyday.
  • Create a menu plan each week before grocery shopping (saves $, time & energy)
  • Make your kids laugh at least once a day.  Not just a giggle, but a full belly laugh. 
  • Find something you love to do, and just do it. 
  • Try to go to bed with a clean kitchen.  You’ll thank yourself in the morning!
  • Make packed lunches the night before (include am & pm healthy snacks)
  • Stop doing what you no longer find joy in (if it doesn’t add to your life, let it go)
  • Clean up the bathroom counter after getting ready each morning
  • Sing while you cook.  Even if your husband laughs, it will be one of your children’s favorite memories.
  • Light a scented candle each evening
  • Eat dinner as a family (or with close friends) a few nights a week. 
  • Have a weekly/monthly date night with your husband.  Even if you can’t leave the house, set aside one night a week for each other with something planned.  It could even be a picnic and movie on your living room floor.
  • Allow yourself imperfections.  Then except them.  Then embrace them.
  • Make the bed every morning, even if it’s just pulling the sheets and blankets up & neatly stacking the pillows
  • Have your children set out their clothes & shoes for the next day before bed
  • Unload the dishwasher (take 5 extra mins in the morning to do so before work – you’ll be thankful that evening!)
  • Make time for the people in your life that mean something to you, listen, and just be together
  • Take 15 mins out of your nightly tv time and tidy up a bit
  • Fold laundry while you watch tv
  • Plan quarterly night out with your girlfriends
  • Sit and listen to how your loved ones’ day went when they (or you) arrive home.
  • Put all bags, backpacks, keys, etc near the door for the morning

How do you find balance in your life?  Please leave a comment… I know you want too! ~Mara

The Eggface BIG 10,000 Giveaway!!

The Eggface BIG 10,000 Giveaway!!


Eggface’s website was one of the first sites I had found when I was first looking into weight loss surgery.  I read around her site (and others) for a year before I had the surgery.  She was a huge inspiration to me and has had many years under her belt living her new life after weight loss surgery successfully and had awesome recipes too!  She does some really cool giveaways on her blog… check it out! ~ Mara


Her site hit 10,000 friends mark on The World According to Eggface Facebook page! To say thank you for taking this journey to better health with her and for always sharing the blog and Facebook page with your pals. She’s doing a HUGE GIVEAWAY!

The Prize: A Nike Gym Bag Hit the gym, pool, or dance class in style and it's jam packed with some of my post weight loss surgery bariatric favorites...

Celebrate Vitamins Calcium Plus 500 (Chewable Berries and Cream) 90 ct.
Celebrate Vitamins Multivitamin (Chewable Pineapple Strawberry) 60 ct.
Celebrate Vitamins 30mg Iron + C (Chewable Grape) 30 ct.

3 single serving packets of Celebrate Vitamins ENS in Vanilla Cake Batter, Chocolate Milk, and Strawberry flavors (each delicious shake contains a high potency multivitamin, 500 mg of calcium citrate, 4 g of fiber, and 25 g of whey isolate protein in each serving)

5 single serving sticks of Celebrate Vitamins Multivitamin and Calcium Drink Mix (Cranberry Grape flavor)

1 30 ct. Box Calcet Lemon Cream 500mg Calcium Citrate Creamy Bites

1 tub of CLICK Espresso Protein (Mocha Flavor)

2 single serving packs of Syntrax Chocolate Truffle and Vanilla Bean Torte Protein Powder

1 Oh Yeah Ready-to-Drink Vanilla Creme Shake

3 Quest Protein Bars (Wild Berry, Apple Pie, Vanilla Almond flavors)

2 Premier Titan High Protein Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2 Sample Packs of PB2 Peanut Butter Thins

Chike Nutrition 6 packet Protein Variety Pack (1 of each flavor: Chocolate Bliss, Very Vanilla, Strawberry Burst, Banana Magic, Orange Creme and High Protein Iced Coffee)

1 Mini Sampler Set of Sugar Free Torani Syrups (4 - 150 ml mini bottles in SF Caramel, SF Raspberry, SF Vanilla, and SF Hazelnut)

Big Train 5 packet Fit Frappe Protein Variety Pack (1 of each flavor: Chocolate, Espresso, Mocha, Vanilla, Vanilla Latte)

Big Train Reusable Tumbler Cup

1 Blue 28 oz. Blender Bottle Shaker
 Go to her site to find out how to ENTER!!
Contest periods ends: Sunday October 7th, midnight (Pacific time)
 While there, check out all the awesome recipes and tips for weight loss surgery patients.  Even if you aren’t a weight loss surgery patient, you will just LOVE her recipes and great weight loss tips and tools!  You won’t be sorry!!