Potatoes Could Not be Easier

PotatoesHere are some concoctions from my friend Arlene who has this to say about potatoes:

Potatoes are one of my favorite foods. They fit nicely on both CORE and FLEX. They come in a portion that you can buy, see, measure, understand and enjoy.

A 4 ounce bakes down to a 3 ounce cooked potato and is 1 point. Adjust the points for a larger potato. Be honest. Weigh them!

Here are some of my ideas for potatoes…

My favorites are the red bliss potatoes. I usually buy them about 4-5 ounces each potato. You could buy Idaho or Maine potatoes, though usually these are larger, maybe 6-10 ounces. There are also Yukon Gold potatoes, (they even taste buttery) Fingerling potatoes (they are more gourmet and are more expensive) or you could buy an all purpose potato.

Scrub potatoes (I usually bake about 10 of them on a weekend so I can have “encore presentations” during the week). Dry potatoes with a paper towel and then spray with a squirt of cooking spray and rub all over the skin. This makes a crispy skin.

Poke the potato with the tines of a fork. Put in a preheated 400 degree oven, right on the oven rack. Bake about 60-65 minutes until they feel a little flexible when you squeeze them with your “potholdered hand.”

I eat them first as a baked potato. Sometimes I open them, and use a little “I can’t believe it’s not butter” Spray. Sometimes I use a fancy mustard or a little BBQ sauce on my baked potato. I wrap the rest in foil and put them in the fridge. I use them rest of the week.

I use two potatoes at a time. That way I portion control what we are eating. It’s an easy trick and then there are no seconds to tempt us.

I dice up two potatoes, dice a small onion, a stalk of celery, dice a dill pickle and two tablespoons fat free mayo… you have potato salad… Add any seasonings that turn you on. You could also add a chopped hard boiled egg and maybe a drop of white wine vinega

I chunk two potatoes, put in a sprayed microwavable dish, top with my favorite salsa and heat about 1 minute. This is a great side dish. In addition to or instead of salsa, heat some canned beans (vegetarian, pinto, kidney cannelli) and top the potato. This is now a meal that has protein. You could add some cooked chicken or meat or tuna fish to this potato.

I sometimes dice up 2 potatoes and sauté them in a large fry pan with some cooking spray. You could add mushrooms or peppers or onions and sauté them all together. Now add either 4 eggs, or equivalent amounts of egg whites or egg substitutes. Now you have an omelet or a frittata. Top with a tsp of grated parm cheese..Yummy for lunch or dinner.

But my favorite way to make “Special spuds” is…..

Take the baked potatoes and slice them about 1/8 inches thick. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray. Place the sliced potatoes (one layer) on the cookie sheet and now spray the potatoes with cooking spray. Next season with a combo of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion salt, basil, oregano, dill…any or all of the above. Put in a 400 degrees preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes until crisp and golden. Serve immediately. You can serve them with ketchup, mustard, salsa, marinara sauce. This is our most favorite side dish of potatoes. And because I only slice 2 potatoes, we are eating a controlled portion.

You could also slice up your potato, put it on a pizza pan, add your pizza sauce, toppings and some fat free or low fat cheese and have a potato pizza.

Making Menopause Fun

The MusicalNight sweats, hot flashes, memory loss, and other aspects of The Change are unlikely subjects for a musical comedy, but Menopause: The Musical isn’t your average show. I haven’t laughed so much in ages and it was wonderful to LOL with an audience almost entirely of women who really get what this was all about.

Menopause: The Musical is a celebration of women who are on the brink of, in the middle of, or have survived The Change set to 25 songs of the 60’s and 70’s. There are four characters – Power Woman, Soap Star, Iowa Housewife, and Earth Mother – who meet fighting over lingerie on sale at Bloomingdales. They bond on floor after floor, singing and joking and sharing stories about living with and through menopause.

There are songs about vibrators, songs about their mothers who still think these middle-aged women are children, and songs about chocolate cravings and mood enhancing medication like Prozac. And, of course, songs about hot flashes (“I’m having a hot flash, a tropical hot flash” was but one).

I got lost on the way to the theater so I’m glad I built time into the schedule to get lost and found again. The theater is plopped in the middle of warehouse buildings and isn’t obvious unless you know what you’re looking for, which of course I didn’t. My friend stood and waved at her car while we talked on the cell so I could find the right spot after driving around for about 20 minutes. I did find Ikea, though I wasn’t actually looking for it.

Now it’s the day after and I’m still flying high from the good time last night. I bought the CD of the show and am listening to the songs again even as I type. If you ever have a chance to go see this, go for it – and bring a bunch of friends. You’ll have the time of your life.

What to Tell the Doctor

Child’s drawing of a doctorTomorrow is my first appointment with my new doctor here in my new home. I picked my brain and came up with a 4 page set of lists of things that I thought someone would probably either ask me or want to know, such as who my Boston doctors were, allergies, ongoing medical issues, current medications, surgeries, etc. Tho that might be all. My brain doesn’t retain this information for very long and I can’t spell medical words without spell check to fix the mistakes, so it was easier to just write it up in advance.

The purpose of the visit is really to sort out my CPAP situation. You may remember from my Day in Insurance Hell that although I need the machine to help me live with sleep apnea, who actually is paying for the one I’m breathing with now is up for grabs. I need to get this sorted out and quickly.

But this is the first time I’ve seen the doctor. And I don’t know what else she’s likely to ask or want to know. It’s going to be quite obvious that I am obese and I have a sneaky suspicion that she will bring it up – because in my experience, all doctors bring it up. It’s as though they don’t know that I already know this about myself.

Weight is the elephant in the room. The doctor knows that I need to lose weight and I know that I need to lose weight. Who will say something first? Waiting for her to bring it up will make me anxious – already is, actually – and is likely to raise my blood pressure. Or I could take charge of it and raise it myself first, which would give me a chance to say, “I have had a life-long weight problem and although I have more to lose, I have maintained a 70 lbs weight loss for 5 years.”

The trick is being able to do it simply to impart information, not to get defensive or combative. The conversation will happen sometime – it always does – so I think maybe I need to practice. I might need it tomorrow.

It’s not enough to get the food right

Stained Glass PanelWe obsess over our food plans, counting calories and points and fat grams and fiber. We virtuously steam vegetables and chomp carrots when we really want chocolate. We get on the scale and cringe when the numbers stay the same or, god forbid, go up a little bit. We work out or make endless excuses/explanations for not having done hours of intensive aerobic activity.

But you know what? It’s not enough to get the food right, to follow the food plan – whatever it is – to the letter. It’s not enough to get in the exercise and talk the talk.

What we need to do is work on our inside, that hurt, angry, afraid person inside the fat suit of excess layers and skin. This is much harder to do but if we don’t take the time, we will ultimately fail, because this is the self that we carry with us every single day, every moment of our lives.

Do you like yourself? Be honest. Most of the time I do but I’m not always sure, and when I was at my heaviest, I loathed who I was because I equated the body with the inner person. Yes, I carry around the body but I am more than my body. I am a kind, generous, thoughtful, fun person who loves to play. I’m a good friend to those I allow close enough. I remember birthdays and want mine to be remembered. I love music and theater, travel and web design and books.

I am a whole person, not just my body and the shape it takes up. While I work on following my food plan and yes, trying to move more, I also need to take care of that whole person inside. Be kind to her, pay attention to her. I need to listen to the hurt and lonely girl who wants comfort and reaches for food because it’s what I know will help in the short term. Because there are other options.

Sometimes I have to just be hurt or sad or lost or ragingly angry, to really feel the emotions and not try to comfort myself by smothering them with foods that put me in a carb coma and help me forget for a little while. It’s only by actually feeling those feelings and learning new ways to deal with them that I can be truly happy and content with myself and who I am now, at this point in my life.

If I don’t like myself, why would anyone else like me? If people do like me, what do they see that I’m not seeing? Today I can see a lot but sometimes it’s harder. It’s worth the effort and I’m a nice person to be around when I actually care about myself.  I’m worth it.

Halloween Candy Alert

CandyThe last thing I expected to see today was a huge orange and black store aisle display of Halloween candy. I mean, really — it’s AUGUST, people! We’re not even at Labor Day yet, the traditional end of summer/start of fall. And the bleeping bags of chocolate are sitting in the store, just at eye and hand level, luring the unwary.

Over in the office supply store things are hopping with parents stocking up on school supplies for the kids who are basically ignoring it all and running around to get their last bits of summer. They’re not thinking about Halloween and we shouldn’t be either. Oh sure, I spotted kids costumes over at BJ’s and thought that was a bit odd but it didn’t bother me. A costume can just hang in the closet until it’s time to wear (assuming the wearer doesn’t grow out of it in the intervening two months).

But chocolate candy? No one in their right mind is going to buy candy now for The Candy Holiday! It will just sit in the pantry and call to you and before you know it, one of those little mini bars finds its way into a lunch bag or becomes a snack after dinner – because we all know that food eaten standing up has no calories. Then you look at the bag, realize it’s almost empty, and rush out to buy another one to replace it, without stopping to realize that you’re still weeks and weeks away from actually needing it to give away.

There is no excuse, not one single one, for buying Halloween candy this early. Do not succumb to the temptation. For those who are counting Weight Watchers points, print off this great list of candy points values from Dottie’s Weight Loss Zone. In fact, go do it right now. I’ll wait. Once you have it, put it somewhere very visible. Those little fun-size mini boxes are so easy to pick up and nibble and most of them have two points each. Do you really want to waste your points by eating a bunch of them mindlessly just because they’re there? I didn’t think so.

Beware, the temptation is lurking as close as your grocery store. Now. It’s totally not fair or right but it’s happening so be prepared.