Black Bean and Corn Salad

Black Bean and Corn saladThis recipe is another of the staples of my food routine. I sort of made it up after watching my sis-in-law make a variation in her Texas kitchen. The deli-style salsa comes with cilantro and other seasonings that give this a bit of a bite. I eat this almost every day on a salad.

Yield – approx. 6 1-cup servings = 4 points/each. May make more if you add more tomatoes and salsa

Black Bean and Corn Salad

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can yellow corn, drained
3 tomatoes, coarsely chopped (I remove the seed parts – works better and keeps longer)
1 ripe avocado, cut into medium sized chunks
1 C. deli-style salsa (I buy mine in tubs from Costco- and sometimes use more)

This is sooooooooooo easy to make! Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and chill at least 4 hours before eating. Do not store in a metal container (doesn’t interact well with the tomatoes).

Great as a side dish or as a layer in a big salad – adds some carbs and helps fill you up.

I’m ready for spring now

Shivering in the coldYou would think that after living in New England for 17 years, I would have figured out that it gets cold in winter. I always get lulled into thinking I won’t freeze to death but it doesn’t work that way; the heater barely starts to work by the time I get to my destination, unless it’s about 30 minutes away. It doesn’t help that we had a balmy early winter and then got hit with Arctic blast after blast – we had no time to get used to it!

I’m ready for spring now. Here in Boston we’re counting the days until the pitchers and catchers report to spring training; the Red Sox are our favorite team and we seek out and destroy Yankees fans who try to slip through our ranks. We don’t care about the Super Bowl really; well, I like the commercials. But since our Pats aren’t playing, I can really live without it.

The big question going to work is, “Will the heat be on?” I work in a not-new building that has a quirky HVAC system and big windows that leak both air and water, though hopefully not at the same time. Everyone else in my department has a space heater to keep warm since they can’t rely on the real heat. But when I try to use one, I manage to blow the fuses up and down the whole side of department, cutting power to five people.

So they stay warm and I stay in limbo, not knowing if I should dress for a cold office or a hot one (temperature swing big time). Makes life confusing. Today started warmer than I expected but ended up cold, especially for my feet. And if my feet are cold, I’m cold all over. It didn’t help that I’d brought a cold lunch. Duhhh …. I am cold so I’ll eat food from the fridge and feel … cold. Tomorrow I’m bringing soup in case my lunch date at Noodle Street falls through.

I had plans to work on a writing project today, preparing talking points for the board to use for presentations this spring. But I got distracted by other projects that were more immediate and ended up staying late to deal with a board-related issue that involved phone calls to places in different time zones. I didn’t leave the office until 7pm and elected to just come home instead of going to the gym. Tomorrow is another day.

I commited yesterday to recording my food here. It looks like a lot but I get a lot of points and I ate my range + 3 flex points – and recorded it in the online tracker, the only way I actually do it regularly.

Breakfast: 1 C. steel-cut oatmeal, 1 TB. brown sugar Splenda, 2 tsp. reduced fat margarine, 1/4 C. fat free milk (5 points total)

Morning snack: 1 medium apple + 1 low fat string cheese (3 points)

Lunch: Lettuce, 1C. black bean/corn salsa, 3 oz. chicken, 1/2 C. roasted vegetables, 1 tomato, 1 TB. blue cheese, 1 TB. craisins, 10 sprays Wishbone Spritz dressing, 1 C. pudding yogurt with raspberries (12.5 calories)

Afternoon snacks: 1 snacksize bag of 94% fat free popcorn, 1 Chocolate Fudge with peanut Butter chips Vitatop (2 point)

Dinner: 1 1/2C. spicy vegetable beef soup, 1 potato roll, 2 Laughing Cow Lite wedges, 1 C. chocolate fudge pudding yogurt (10 points)

Total: 32.5 points

What I wore today: raspberry boucle Coldwater Creek turtleneck sweater (like the one I wore yesterday but a different color), charcoal gray knit pants, black and gray warm socks, black Birkenstock clogs

Random thoughts on my Weight Watchers meeting

Weight Watcher ChickensOn Sunday mornings I go to my Weight Watchers meeting. Every week there is a topic that’s discussed at all meetings around the country, to keep us in synch, and as a Sunday group that meets at 10am, we are among the first to check out the new material.

But sometimes the lesson doesn’t fit with the things the group wants to talk about. Today was one of those days. Our meeting was an hour long and we didn’t once cover the topic of the week, which was Winter Foods. Interesting but not enthralling – especially when people had topics on their minds. Those are always more pressing and more essential to address than a topic picked from a lesson plan book.

Today our leader just put aside the plan and talked about what we wanted to talk about — how to exercise when our schedules are already full and our bodies hurt; whether we can count walking or other things we do in our regular routine, not at a gym, as part of our exercise points; how to get up and keep going when the weight loss is stuck; how often to weigh ourself.

It’s not very surprising that when we “take over the meeting” with our own agenda, there is more active listening and participation.  We all want to help each other over the bumps because we’re not all down at the same time.  And there are lots of lifetime members there who can offer support from the “after” perspective – and show the rest of us that “after and maintaining” is possible.

One thing that someone mentioned that stuck with me was that sometimes we just over-analyze what we’re doing. That instead of turning ourselve inside out trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it, maybe we should just DO what we know will work. The WW plan works if you follow it. It may not show up right away but it will work if you stick to it. The energy and focus I often put into analyzing everything could go far if I just turned it towards working the program.

So beginning tomorrow I will use this space to record what I eat as way of public accountability. Not today because I don’t want to be terribly public about today’s food choices – I have problems, as many of us do, on days I get weighed. It was easier to deal with when I was weighed at 5:30 and only had a short time to “go crazy.” Now that I weigh in at 9:30, the whole day stretches out with temptations all around. I try taking things to my WW meeting so I can eat something whole and healthy and try and get off to a good start, but I often derail myself.

But, as Scarlet said at Tara, tomorrow is another day. I think I’ll go plot out my food so I’m prepared.

Oh, and Frances? Today I wore black pants, a black sweater, and a garnet suede jacket with oddly shaped pearls (see Flickr). When I got home from my meeting and shopping, I changed into stretch jeans and a cranberry boucle turtleneck from Coldwater Creek. Now I’m in my bright red robe and fuzzy pink slippers.

Cooking for one

Weight Watchers New Complete CookbookWhen I cook, I have problems getting all of the separate foods ready at the same time. It’s a good thing I’m not cooking for a family who expects to have everything on the table all at once for a sit-down meal. I’ve never had that pressure and I don’t really care if I eat in stages as things happen to be done. It extends the meal and forces me to take more time eating, which gives my brain time to register that I’m getting full in ways that don’t happen so much when it’s all on one plate at one time.

Usually I start with a salad or the vegetables because they steam faster than anything else cooks. Then I have a carb, maybe a sweet potato or couscous or a potato roll, and then the meat. Sometimes I’m smart or lucky and get two things done at once and can enjoy them together. In the summer I do a bang-up job of timing things with the George Foreman grill, steamed veggies, and sliced tomatoes. But that’s not a hard meal.

I also do a lot of one-pot things in the crockpot, which is my best friend. Well, okay, maybe not my BEST friend but I do love it. I make big pots of soup (Taco Soup or Vegetable Beef or Bean Soup are my favorites) or stew or meat sauce, though the meat sauce I only make on the weekend because it doesn’t need to cook all day and my crockpot doesn’t have a “keep warm” setting. I can cook a single pot of whole wheat pasta, drain it, and divvy it up into single-serving containers that are perfect for portion-controlled pre-made meals, then divide up the sauce on top. This usually gives me six meals, one to eat while it’s hot, a few to put in the fridge for the next few days, and the rest to go in the freezer for later.

I like to cook but I’m basically pretty lazy and not terribly adventurous. There are things that I’ve tried and simply adored – steel cut oatmeal, sweet potato and apple casserole, pudding yogurt, and roasted vegetables are all staples of my food plan and I haven’t been eating them all that long. I’m on the Hungry Girl email list and try to incorporate one new food or recipe a week for variety. The problem is that if I buy or make it and it’s terrible, there is no one to help eat it and I hate “wasting” food and throwing it away after taking the time to decide to buy/make it. If it’s horrible instead of just bleh, it’s easier to make that decision.

My cookbook shelf contains almost all the new Weight Watchers cookbooks that come out and I love to read the recipes but sometimes they seem more complicated than worthwhile. Maybe we should start posting names of recipes we love and the cookbooks they came from so others can dig into the resources they already have but aren’t using (*raises her hand guiltily*). I think I’ll spend some time tonight checking out one or two and picking something new to try that won’t make pots of food. Recommendations would help so much!  Do you have one to share?

Hiding behind Anger

Angry womanI stayed home sick today and watched Oprah, something I rarely do even though I like the show. The topic today was creating a spiritual relationship and started by having the audience write down 5 words to describe their marriage or whatever relationship they were focusing on. They were then challenged to go home and ask their spouse or partner to do the same thing, writing down 5 words, and then comparing their list and talking about what they wrote.

From there guest Gary Zukav began talking with couples about what they learned and how they would move forward from this point. I got distracted by one thing he said to the first couple — that lashing out in anger at each other was acting out of pain and that the pain came from fear. Basically where there is anger, underneath it all is fear. It’s a cue to pay attention to the things in yourself that need to be fixed, not about fixing your partner.

I found myself thinking about how this applied to me as an AngryFatGirl. After all, “angry” is part of the name and it represents so much. I find myself lashing out in anger far too often and I knew that it was coming out of pain but I don’t think I’ve allowed myself to focus much on the fear that is underneath it all. Fear of being alone, fear of being rejected, fear of dying early, fear of being the butt of jokes, fear of being ugly, fear of failure, fear of success and not being able to handle living as a thinner person after all the work to get there. That’s a lot of fear to hide.

It’s a lot easier to just bury it and not try and address those really deep, elemental emotions. Acknowledging them, facing them, trying to FIX them, leaves me very vulnerable and drained. But not doing that means they are still there and they don’t go away by themselves. I haven’t dug deep into my emotional stuff lately because I haven’t had time for the introspection that requires, but it does need to be done.

One thing I’m afraid of is not being able to get back in the groove of comfortably following my WW foodplan and exercising regularly. I did it for a long time so I know that it’s possible, but I’ve had trouble getting back to it. But it’s important not only for my body but for my spirit. I think this is the first fear I will address because it’s manageable. I can deal with the other fears in turn but with some success in facing this one, I’ll be able to do so feeling more confident which is a better place to be in dealing with powerful emotions.

I didn’t get fat or angry or fearful overnight; they are intertwined and grew with time. So it will take time to face them. But by recognizing the reality of what’s going on inside and how it’s all connected, and not giving myself a deadline, I can do this. The first thing was just to understand and recognize what was hiding behind the anger.