Saturday, November 15, 2008

Back on the Beach

I know, you guys are totally sick of hearing about my latest diet/exercise/weight loss program. sigh. I'm sick of it, too. But bear with me, I'm doing lots of soul-searching in addition to the basics of weight reduction, trying to lose some mental baggage along with the stuff that's settled around my hips. As a result, the process is slower but I'm hoping it'll be permanent this time.

So, after baking loaves of bread that I totally can't resist, spending a couple of weeks in comfort-eating mode, stuffing down my emotions with whatever tasty, carb-y treat was around the house, I took a good hard look at myself and what I was doing to myself. I know that bread and butter won't bring Salem back, cherry pie won't cure Mom's cancer, and cake does not improve the situation with my "stepchildren." I've got to deal with all of that on my own, sans food.

From past experience, I have learned that I just can't eat the "white stuff" and expect to lose weight. Maybe it's genetics from my Native American ancestors, I don't know, but I find that I do much better when I stick to lean protein, veggies and nuts, healthy carbs. The freedom of Weight Watchers was fantastic, loved being able to eat anything in moderation, but it didn't work for me. If I can eat bread, I will. If chocolate is allowed, I'll take it. Pretzels? Bring 'em on. And once I start, I simply can't stop. I don't know why it's taken me so long to learn this lesson, I guess it's pure stubborness because damn! I want the goodies! Who doesn't? But what I need to remember is that I want a healthy body more. That's hard to recall at midnight when Beren decides to open a bag of chips with his famous dip, when Bambi brings home leftover cinnamon scones from her place of employment, when Lily taunts me with chips and salsa at her boyfriend's restaurant. But, come on now! I'm a grown woman who's strong enough to resist such temptations! Aren't I? If not I'd better damn sure find the strength or willpower or whatever you want to call it because time is passing and the scale is continuing to go up, not down and that is absolutely not ok.

So, with that in mind I pulled out my dusty copy of the South Beach Diet and read through it again, realized once again that this way of eating really does work for me. It's easy, it's healthy, and it can be tasty...with a little bit of help from my friends. You see, one of the reasons I give up on these types of diets is that I love to cook and with limited ingredients comes limited menus and I get bored! I don't want to eat the same bland chicken night after night, I need variety & excitement! I want to enjoy my meals, not dread them. That, to me, is the quickest route toward failure. Knowing this about myself, I have spent the last couple of days over at Kalyn's Kitchen, gaining inspiration and motivation. She is the best for that; her recipes are delicious, easy and definitely South Beach friendly. I made a list, ran to the grocery, planned my meals and am completely committed to my new way of eating. For real this time, I promise. I won't be perfect, but I can surely do better than I have lately!

Psst...please note that the above picture is actually me when I was 17 and while I will never ever get into that teeny weeny bathing suit again, the shot does provide a certain amount of motivation!

Tonight I'm going to whip up this delicious Chicken Piccata Recipe, can't wait to taste those fried capers! Please see Kalyn's site where the original recipe, along with some tips and other amazing recipes, are posted.

Chicken Piccata with Fried Capers
(Makes 2-3 servings, but could easily be doubled. Recipe adapted slightly from Fine Cooking Annual.)

2 or 3 very large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T nonpareil capers (or less if you don't love capers like I do)
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to season chicken
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning (optional, not in the original recipe)
1 clove crushed garlic or about 1/8 tsp. garlic puree
1/2 cup homemade chicken stock (or use canned chicken broth, but be sure it's low sodium)
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. Splenda or honey (use Splenda for South Beach Diet)
1 T butter, cut up (original recipe called for 2 T, but I thought 1 T was plenty)
1 T chopped fresh parsley

Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken breasts. Cut each one in half to make two pieces about the same size. One at a time, put pieces inside a heavy ziploc bag and pound chicken to make it an even 1/2 inch thick. Season chicken with a small amount of salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning if using. Chop parlsey and set aside.

Rinse the capers and pat dry with paper towels. In a 10-inch nonstick frying pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add capers and fry until they open slightly and crisp a little, took 60-90 seconds for me. Remove pan from heat and use a spoon to transfer capers to paper towel, letting the oil drip back into pan.

Get oil hot again, then saute chicken on top side until nicely browned, about 3-4 minutes. Turn over and cook on other side until chicken is done, probably only 1-2 minutes on the second side. Arrange chicken on serving dish with browned side facing up. (You can cover them to keep warm if you want, but I didn't and they were fine.)

While chicken browns, measure out chicken stock, garlic, butter, and lemon juice so they are ready. Add garlic to hot pan and saute 15-30 seconds. Add chicken stock, and scrape pan to dissolve browned bits. Cook until stock is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and Splenda or honey, then turn off heat and add butter, stirring until butter is melted. Add half of capers and parsley to sauce, then pour sauce over chicken, garnishing with remaining capers.

P.S. I am crossposting this over at my other blog, hope you don't mind the duplication.


linda said...

I hope you don't mind if I share with you what works for me :)

the reason it works for me is because it's so simple....when I put food on my plate, I cut out 1/3 of what I would normally eat and that's it. I don't deprive myself, I practice portion control. It's true I can't eat sugar or white flour without paying for it with blood sugar problems but I still eat good pasta(Italian) and have tea with sugar and a bit of milk each morning. I don't feel deprived, which is doom for me if I do...I feel nurtured and over time, I have gotten used to the slightly smaller portions and have lost 25 pounds.

One of the reasons you might be craving the white stuff is because the simple carbs trigger seratonin release in the brain, a natural tranquilizer...that's why it's so addicting. I use an antidepressant instead because I have depression. But before bed, if I can't sleep, I will have a small glass half full of lo-fat milk with a small biscuit(le's butter biscuits), about 35 cals, and I sleep well, feel soothed and all's well with the world....try it if you can, it might help when you feel frazzled and need some nurturing :)

they are also great with tea in the afternoon, for a little pick me up that is lo-cal but tastes GOOD! (key for me or I will feel unloved...go figure...)

Aurora said...

I want you to know I support your efforts! You have set your intent, now let the majick begin.

I didn't notice you mentioning exercise. For me, it kills two birds: it improves my mood, and it burns calories. Plus it gets me out in nature, which is important to my authentic witchy self. I am currently aiming for an hour a day. I gained seven pounds last May and never lost it again. I'm shooting for 10!

I highly recommend the book "Bikini Bootcamp" - maybe you can find it at the library. The menus and workouts in this book helped me lose a lot of weight last year.

Anywho, let's motivate each other! If you need a cheerleader, I am here for you.

Rapunzel said...

Linda, of course I don't mind! Thanks so much for your input and suggestions, and congrats on your weight loss!

Rapunzel said...

Aurora, thank you for your support! Yes, exercise is *key* to weight loss, at least for me. I think I mentioned recently that I bought myself a treadmill (with the help of my parents' early birthday money) and have been using it regularly. I love the convenience, no excuses for not working out when you can do it from your very own living room! :-)

kim said...

Saw these hand towels and thought of you!

(I cross post all the time!!)

Rapunzel said...

Oh, Kim! Those towels are adorable! Perhaps I'll put them on my Santa list? ;-)