weigh in monday {plus a dinner party}

i am pretty sure for every year that i have made resolutions, losing weight has been at the top of the list.  not this year.  don’t get me wrong, i still have plenty of weight i want to get rid of.  i just don’t want the scale to be my gauge of health.  health is what i am after.  not a specific number.  and i am not yet where i want to be.  my goal: to have at least 30 mins of heart rate raising, conscience exercise every. single. day.  i have aspirations to do much more but decided that consistency is really what i am after and instead of more mins in less days, less mins every single day.  i want to create an active lifestyle where going for a walk isn’t a chore but something i am looking forward to doing.

this morning i woke up and rowed 5000 meters in 24 mins on our new rower.  we are adding a very small home gym {more on that once complete} and waking up and walking downstairs to exercise was wonderfully easy.  i watched good morning america with my pups cheering me on.

since counting calories is essential for this food loving lady, i decided to start the new year with a new app.  my dad and brother highly recommended Lose It! and i have been giving it a try since last thursday.  i love it!  it is SO MUCH easier than pen/paper then uploading to sparkpeople.  to start you put in your starting weight then your goal weight.  you set how many pounds you want to lose each week {maximum is 2} and it sets how many calories you can eat each day to lose 2 pounds per week.  i am using the husband’s new ipad {birthday present to him, from yours truly} and with the camera, i can scan barcodes to calculate the nutritional information.  it is a breeze.  plus, i can upload my daily exercises which directly impact the daily calories allowed.

since thursday, i have lost 2 pounds.  the thing i love most is the emphasis on exercise.  it is hard to eat 1400 calories a day with no exercise logged.  but after my morning 400 calorie rowing, it adds 400 calories to my daily intake.  for this foodie, the opportunity to eat more is definitely motivation to go for a run.

switching gears, saturday night we hosted two of my favorite couples for a dinner party.  the challenge, 3 people with no diet restrictions, 2 are vegans, and me, celiac disease lady.  i LOVE learning about new cooking techniques and ingredients.  i am not going to lie, i was nervous about serving recipes that i have never tried before.  luckily, it was a huge hit!

i found a great blog, oh she glows and used primarily her recipes only.  i served: pear and cranberry salad with homemade cranberry and raspberry vinaigrette {recipe uploaded soon}, shepherd’s pie with brown gravy, dinner rolls, and a double chocolate torte.  plates were clean and seconds were served.  the best compliments to a cook :)

click for source.

here is the recipe for the shepherds pie: {adapted from oh she glows}

mashed potatoes:

3 lb. potatoes i used red potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp Earth Balance, or equivalent
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp non-dairy milk (i used almond)
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder

vegetable filling:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, peeled & small dice
3 butternut squash peeled & small dice
4 celery stalks, small dice
1 cup, full sodium vegetable broth (or more as needed)
1/4 cup red wine (or more broth)
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2-3/4 tsp kosher salt, to taste + black pepper
3 tbsp flour (i used gluten-free all-purpose flour)


1. preheat oven to 425F and lightly oil a casserole dish. place peeled and chopped potatoes into a large pot and add water, 2 inches above potatoes. bring to a boil and then simmer on low for about 30 minutes until very tender.

2. meanwhile, prepare the vegetable filling. chop the onion and mince the garlic and add to a skillet along with the oil. cook on low for about 5-7 minutes. now add in the chopped carrots, squash, and celery. cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.

3. when the potatoes are done cooking, drain and add back to the pot. add the Earth Balance (or butter), milk, and seasonings and mash well. set aside.

4. in a small bowl, whisk together the liquid ingredients (broth, red wine (optional), thyme, and flour). add this liquid mixture to the vegetables in the skillet and stir well. add your salt and pepper to taste. cook for another 5-10 minutes or so until thickened. season to taste.

5. scoop vegetable mixture into casserole dish. spread on the mashed potato mixture and garnish with paprika, ground pepper, and thyme. bake at 425F for about 35 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. mixture will be very hot in the middle so be careful!

the dessert was delicious and i was a HUGE skeptic when i first read the ingredients.

first photo with my new light box! {more about that later}

recipe for double chocolate torte: {adapted from oh she glows}

crust ingredients:
1 cup + 6 tbsp whole grain spelt flour (i used gluten-free all-purpose)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup white sugar OR 1/2 cup sugar + 1/3 cup Sucanat
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp kosher salt
4 tbsp + 2 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup almond milk
3 tbsp pure maple syrup

2 cups avocado flesh (approx 4 medium avocados), pitted and scooped out
1/3 cup almond milk
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tbsp smooth peanut butter (or almond butter) – next time i will omit because the peanut butter flavor took away from the chocolate a bit.
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tbsp chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

1. preheat oven to 375F. in a large bowl, sift together the dry crust ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, arrowroot powder, sugar and salt). in a medium bowl, whisk the wet crust ingredients (oil, maple syrup, milk). add wet to dry and stir well.
2. in a 10 inch springform cake pan, scoop on the crust batter and spread out with a wet spoon or wet hands. the batter will be very sticky so you will have to keep wetting your spoon/hands. spread out as evenly as possible and bake for 22-25 minutes at 375F.
3. meanwhile, prepare the filling by placing all filling ingredients (except chocolate chips) into food processor. process until smooth.
4. once the crust is done baking, remove from oven to slightly cool off for about 5-10 mins. now melt your chocolate chips in a small bowl and place melted chocolate into food processor mixture. process until smooth. scoop this filling into cake pan on top of crust. smooth out as much as possible and then place in the freezer for 1.5-2 hours to firm up.
5. remove from freezer and allow to sit on the counter for about 10-15 minutes before serving chilled. serves 10-12. place leftover torte in the freezer wrapped and placed in a seal container. note that this torte should be served chilled as it loses it’s firm shape when at room temperature.


things i learned from baking/cooking vegan and will carry on:

- vegan “butter” is really yummy.  i really liked the earth balance and will continue using it.

- you can still have a comfort meal {mashed potatoes, tons of yummy veggie broth soaked veggies, and gravy} with no meat or gluten.

- avocado instead of cream and eggs is a WONDERFUL replacement for chocolate.


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I know the app you are using, because I am also using it, and love it :)