So Long, Twenty Eleven

I feel like the end of such a great year deserves a post all of its own.  A fine salute to one of the best years in my adult life is in order.  

I must say, the fact that I’m starting off the year about 60 lbs. lighter is the icing on the cake (or should I say the dressing on the salad?)  

So without further ado, I present you with my greatest hits for 2011!

My Favorite Posts of 2011

ONEderland, I’ve Arrived - I was SO proud to create this post.  Achieving that “below 200 lb.” weight was a huge landmark this year.  PS…Having Hannah Curlee (Biggest Loser Runner Up, Season 11) leave a comment left me truly starstruck.  
 

365 Days Later - Successfully achieving my first year of healthy living in November and being able to reflect upon this awesome journey is what this post is all about.  There’s some awesome before/after shots too.  I love those!

Travel and Dining Out Tips - This was probably my biggest challenge this year.  I honestly didn’t know how in the heck I was going to maintain my travel schedule and still lose weight.  This post is powerful to me because it shares how I figured it all out!

My Favorite Recipes of 2011

New Recipe: JC Chicken Fajita Quesadilla -  An overwhelming majority of you guys loved this recipe, making it my most popular post of 2011!  For those of us on JC, volumizing can be the key to staying on track!  If you haven’t tried this recipe yet… You totally should!

New Recipe: Sinful Peanut Butter Tagalong Trifles - This recipe may sound like a mouthful and looks complex, but I promise it’s super-easy.  I’d also say it was one of the most fun things I made all year.  

New Recipe: Crusted Honey Mustard Chicken - This is one of those recipes where you feel like you’re cheating, but you’re definitely not.

New Recipe: Lowfat Red Wine Tomato Vinaigrette – I love this one because everyone needs a good lowfat salad dressing.  This one surprised me by being AMAZING and is one of my all-time faves now.


My Favorite Trip Posts this Year

 I was VERY lucky to get to travel to MANY different places this year.  It would be impossible to pick just one, but I’d have to say that my trips to Montelucia and the Cape were some of the most relaxing. 
 

And trips to Chicago, OhioNashville, and Florida offered me great time with friends and family. 

I also had a lot of my favorite people visit ME in Colorado!  It was such a fun friend-and-family-filled year… the best!

As I wrap up the year, for the first time in MANY years, I’m proud of how I spent my 2011.  I’m also so happy that all of you have spent the year with me as well.  Losing weight isn’t easy; I gain so much support from your comments and the tips you share.  “Weighing in” with you guys a few times a week helps keep me grounded and on track.  I can’t thank you enough.

Wishing each of you a fantastic New Year’s Eve.  I can’t wait to see what’s up next in 2012!  It’s going to be another big year for all of us!  CHEERS!

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Yesterday was MUCH more in line with what I expected to get done during my time off.  I always take a lot of time off this time of year, and this year I believe I set a record.  My last day of work was December 21st, and I’m not headed back to work until January 3rd.

I made a list of to-do’s that I never have time to get around to.  I happily checked off quite a few items on the list.

Install wireless internet at home.  CHECK!

Meet with a trainer at the YMCA to learn how to use the weight machines.  CHECK!

Take down the Christmas tree.  CHECK!

Today’s list is not nearly as fun (as it involves me getting dressed and wearing make-up – - the horror!!!)  In the end, my list will get smaller, so I suppose I’ll suffer through it.  Besides, it always feels so great to start the year with everything organized, so it’s worth it.
I also have an AWESOME new recipe to share with you today.  You’re seriously going to love this one.  It comes from Weight Watchers’ All-Time Favorites cookbook and is yet another recipe that my sister-in-law Beth shared with me.

This one is soooo good.  The balsamic vinegar you add at the end makes SUCH a big flavor difference.  So good!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

From Weight Watchers’ All-Time Favorites
Serves 8

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 pound boneless beef bottom round (or london broil)
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 lb. new potatoes, quartered
1 (16-oz) bag baby carrots
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup fat free beef broth
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crumbled
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt

INSTRUCTIONS
1.  Mix the beef and flour together in a zip-lock plastic bag. Shake the bag to coat the meat.

2.  Place the beef and flour mixture, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, wine, thyme, and garlic in the slow cooker.

3.  Cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours, until all is tender. Stir in vinegar and salt for the final finish.

PER SERVING (1/8 Recipe Serving):

CAL: 213; FAT: 4g; SODIUM: 147mg; CARB: 22g; PROT: 2g; WW Points Plus: 7

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What’s in My Fridge?

Yesterday was one of those days that I wouldn’t exactly call productive.  

I did some grocery shopping and laundry, but other than that there was a lot of time spent on the couch and a little too much time spent in the bed…

I’ll also say that coming back from the holidays is NOT the easiest.  Meaning, I’ve had a few bites of fudge and eaten Beth’s famous braciole. I even ate biscuits and gravy on this trip home!  Admittedly, I’ve crossed over to the dark side temporarily, but I’m home safe now. 

The best way for me to get back on track is to get together a plan of action – - and make sure I have plenty of healthy snacks on hand!  While I did VERY little yesterday, I knew I needed to peel myself off the couch and get my butt to the grocery store.  I think I have a LOT of good ingredients for healthy eating this week.  So, I’m giving you an exclusive peek!

Inside the Fridge

Knowing that I was inviting people to visit, I should have straightened up the fridge a little… but knowing we’re all friends, I’m assuming you won’t judge.
 

Top Shelves:

  • Honeycrisp Apples – Is there a better apple out there?  I think not!
  • Reduced Fat Buttermilk – You should see this guy featured in a WW recipe over the next few days. Stay tuned!
  • Skim Milk – A staple – - A girl needs her calcium!
  • Brita Water Pitcher – Another staple.  It’s been in my fridge since college.  Seriously.
  • Marinating Chicken – I’m going to grill this chicken up for salad lunches over the next few days.  I have it marinating in Fat Free Italian Dressing — Yum-o!
  • Very old Red Bull – From my housewarming party 2.5 years ago.  Do you think it’s expired? (Throwing it out immediately)
Middle Shelf:
  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray – Great alternative to butter, and delish on Mashed Cauliflower!
  • Cherub Grape Tomatoes – I bought these for salad, but I bet they get eaten before they ever swim amongst lettuce.
  • Roasted Garlic – Because it’s the best and is added to everything I eat.
  • My Favorite Veggie Dip – I’ve posted the recipe here.  It’s my go-to for veggies and dip!
  • Israeli Vegetable Salad – I found this recipe for a tasty cucumber and tomato pico de gallo-like salad on Pinterest and made it tonight.  So tasty!  Planning to eat it with that marinated chicken I mentioned above.
  • Sugar-Free Jello and Natural Applesauce cups – Again, great handy snacks.
  • Laughing Cow Cheese – Excessive amounts in the drawer, but you REALLY need all flavors on hand at all times, don’t you??
Bottom Shelf:
  • Thomas 100 Calorie Multi-grain English Muffins – This sounded like a fun alternative for breakfast.
  • Cut Cauliflower and Cucumbers – These are for that veggie dip.  I’ve already enjoyed some tonight!
  • Crockpot Ready to Fire Up This Morning- I pre-prepped my dinner for tonight.  I’ll add a few ingredients this morning and then voila!  This is an old fave WW recipe.  Stay tuned for details….
  • Diet Sodas – I rarely drink them, but they’re there….
In the Crispers:
  • Onions – Again, they go in everything.
  • Tomatoes – Because I always have good intentions with salads, even though most are just butter lettuce and dressing. 
  • Brussels Sprouts – For roasting this week.
  • Butter Lettuce – I bought 2 bags because I love it so.
  • English Cucumbers – If you love cucumbers, try Costco.  Their prices are so great on the English variety!

With all these healthy options on hand, I know that I’ve set myself up for success and I’m planning to bounce back nicely from the holidays.  I’ve got my eyes set on my 75 lb. reward, which hopefully will be here in time for my birthday next week!

QUESTION:  What’s in your fridge these days?  What do you need to get back on track post-holidays?

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Holiday Travel Fun – Westbound Edition

Oh, I enjoyed my Eastbound travel SOOOO much more than the Westbound travel.  Even with the flight cancellations and 18 inches of snow, round one was SO much better than round two.

Leaving King Hayden behind didn’t make it any easier…
 
 

It started early.  I was at the airport by 8:45am and ready to fly.  My plane, however, arrived late.  This created a super-tight connection in Dulles – - 18 minutes.  The gate agent was “sure” I could make it because the gate was “just down the hall.”

When we landed in Dulles, we literally had 15 minutes to get off the plane and get to the gate.  I decided to run for it, thinking I could surely make it.  Um, that was the longest “hall” of my life.  I arrived at D15 out of breath and there was a plane I could see out the window but couldn’t get to.  

That meant I had an additional 3 hours in Dulles to kill.  What to do, what to do.  After I caught my breath, it became entertaining.

It was about 12:30pm, so it was time to get my lunch on.  Airports have TONS of choices, and conveniently there was a Subway RIGHT next to the gate I ran to.  That seemed like the right thing to do, but I really wanted this….

Beth’s Famous Patriotic Turkey Dinner Leftover Panini.
Just one more bite of stuffing is all I wanted!
 
 
I even debated walking down the concourse to see what other healthy options were around.  Surely, there was something.  I think we both know that would have led me astray.  So, I walked back down to Subway and ordered a sandwich. 


I splurged a little and got the Chicken Teriyaki sammie instead of my usual Veggie Delite.  It was AWESOME.  I also added a local topping to the sandwich that I’m now officially in love with.

Check out that hot pepper relish!?  How do I get that in Colorado?  
Must find a recipe!
 

After lunch, I had 2 hours and 40 minutes remaining.  Hmmmm… How convenient that the Subway was right across the hall from this place…

HOW CONVENIENT!
 

Now, I certainly didn’t need a 10 minute manicure, as I was trying to kill time.  I went with the “Travel” manicure and got it done in Essie’s Barefoot and Topless color.  Just a light natural pink.  So cute!

The crazy part about the quick mani is that the guy who did my nails was totally a psychic!  So fun!  We talked about my future and Chinese New Year.  Apparently, I’m a Dragon after YEARS of believing I was a Snake per chinese restaurant placemats.  Also, per his prediction, this blog should be peppered with info about my new man in the new year (when he decides to appear.)

It’s the year of the Dragon this year…. quite appropriate if you ask me!
 

I finally caught my flight and arrived happily in Denver about 5:00pm.  Hmm…. but where-o-where was my bag?  Apparently 3 hours wasn’t long enough to get my bag on the plane, so United put it on a later flight.  

The “good” news was that they would deliver it to my house between 9pm-1:30am.  My bag arrived at 3:45am.  

I stayed up until 1:30am to open the door, but there was no way I’d have made it until 3:45am.  The good news is that my bag is here, the laundry is spinning, and I’ve got these folks on the TV.

Thanks, USA, for expecting me to need chick flicks today!
 

I do have plans to get to the gym at some point today as well.  I look like I’m up 1.5 lbs from vacation, and it’s time to work those off!!!

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