Category Archives: Weight Loss Journey

World’s Best (Only) Cheeseburger Meatloaf: And, You Can Eat It with One Hand Tied Behind Your Back!

kathi-and-alan-eating-cheeseburgers-in-paradise-lahaina-maui-hawaiiI love eating juicy cheeseburgers with all the trimmings, don’t you?  cheeseburger-in-paradise-lahaina-mauiHowever, sometimes they’re too big to eat, even with both hands.  tray-of-cheeseburgers-at-cheeseburger-in-paradise-lahaina-maui-hawaiiSometimes they’re even hard to carry, like this platter of specialty burgers…waiter-with-triple-cheeseburger-in-paradis-mauior this triple-decker monster they serve at Cheeseburger in Paradise on Maui. I’m certain I’d be sick if I ate their 1.5-pound glutton-stuffer, wouldn’t you?  huge-hamburger-africaOr, how about this amazing burger Alan and I ate (shared) in South Africa?

cheeseburger-in-paradise-bar-and-grill-lahaina-mauiAnyway, much as Alan and I love burgers, I’m always in pursuit of fewer calories per dining pleasure, and an extra 200+ calories for a big deli-style onion bun is something I’m willing to forego when we’re at home. Still, how do you eat a cheeseburger with all the good stuff and no bun? It was in that mindset that I developed my personalized recipe for one of the best meatloaves you’ll ever eat!

Your Favorite Cheeseburger Meatloaf:
(serves 4)

hamburger-and-egg1 pound ground burger
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs (which you can leave out if you don’t mind the meatloaf crumbling a bit when you serve it; I leave them out, because I don’t mind). cheesburger-meatloaf-adding-veggiesNext, add everything you love to put on top of your burger (except lettuce)…like:
Pickles, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, tomato, pineapple…get creative, it’s your meatloaf!cheesburger-meatloaf-adding-condimentsAdd all your favorite condiments…no need to go easy, because they won’t be dripping down your arms! Relish, mustard, ketchup…?mayonnaise? etc?cheeseburger-meatloaf-adding-cheese-and-spicesMix thoroughly and then add a generous amount of salt, pepper, and your favorite seasonings. Top with your favorite cheese (or else whatever cheese you have around the house).cheeseburger-meatloaf-extra-ketchupMound into a pan and add more ketchup (if you like ketchup as much as we do),cheesburger-meatloaf-adding-cheese-on-topthen cap with an ample supply of cheese (if you like cheese as much as we do). cheesburger-meatloaf-after-bakingPop it in the oven for an hour at 350° (done when golden brown on top). Enjoy!

cheeseburger-meatloaf-1Actually, if you don’t have an hour to bake it as a meatloaf,
you can do the same thing in your frying pan cheeseburger-meatloaf-3and have it cooked in no longer than it would take
to grill the veggies and burgers.
You get all the flavor and save enough calories for dessert! (Did I say that??)

cheesburger-meatloaf-served-with-sidesFurthermore, you can eat it with just a fork and one hand tied behind your back. See?  What’d I tell you? No more embarrassing dates where you end up with ketchup on your nose and mustard juice running down your arm staining your new outfit! (Of course, you might still have an issue with the corn on the cob…)

I will praise the name of God with a song,
and will magnify him with thanksgiving
” (Psalm 69:30).

An Avocado Boat of Ideas, Especially Fantastic Guacamole with an Orange Twist

avocadosAvocados (also known as “alligator pears” because of their rough, green skin and elongated shape) have won their way up from southern Mexico to America, where their consumption rate has more than tripled in the last 15 years! salad-pine-nuts-guacamoleAlthough technically a fruit (and they are used in fruit smoothies and as flavored milkshakes in some countries), their most common use in America and Mexico is in guacamole, used as a dip with tortilla chips or as a flavorful topping on various dishes. Because of their high fat content, avocados are sometimes used as a meat replacement in vegetarian dishes, although they are not high in protein. (They are high in fiber, however: Half an avocado is about 130 calories and will provide 20% of your daily fiber need.) tossed-salad-with-avocadoAvocados are also used as a garnish, eaten plain as a healthy snack (way better for you than a doughnut!), and are a common additive in vegetable salads, where they are especially useful in providing necessary oil for proper vitamin absorption. If you’re not familiar with avocados, please try them! fruit-bowlChoose firm, green ones with no dents or dark spots but are the least bit giving if you touch them. Keep them on the counter until they are slightly soft (not dark), and then use them immediately or store them in the refrigerator (Ideally, no more than a week). avocado-pit-being-removedTo use, cut lengthwise, and then take the pit out by stabbing with a knife and twisting gently. The California Avocado Commission recommends the “nick and peel” method of slicing the avocado into length-wise, quarter-inch slices and peeling like a banana. avoocado-sliced-in-halfI prefer to use a spoon and scrape off the entire inside lining, which is richest in carotenoid antioxidants. (However, this doesn’t produce the best looking bites, so if you want fresh slices, use the CAC’s method). discoloration-of-avocado-exposed-to-airAvocado does discolor quickly when exposed to air, so either serve it immediately after cutting or protect it with a little citrus juice and plastic wrap. (The first time this happened to me, I thought I must have cut my finger…)avocado-boat-with-ahi-tunaOne clever, simple entrée is to fill half an avocado with shredded meat (chicken breast, tuna, etc.). ahi-tuna-and-avocado-boatI also enjoy them as a simple side dish, known as an avocado boat (best by far with salt and lime juice). Just for the record (studies funded by avocado growers, of course), it’s been found that people who eat avocados tend to be healthier and have less heart disease. (I sometimes wonder if such studies are confounded by the economic status/social class of those studied, as avocados aren’t exactly cheap. [I always wait and buy them on sale.])

At any rate, I want to pass along my all-time favorite recipe for guacamole. Alan and I first fell in love with guacamole when it was made table-side at a little Mexican restaurant along San Antonio’s River Walk, and then we fell in love again in San Diego’s Gaslamp District last year. However, once when we were out of limes, my son Joel altered my recipe (gathered from watching these “bests” being made), and I think his is actually better than the best!

Fantastic Guacamole with an Orange Twist

guacamole-01-17-171 entire orange, peeled and cubed (this is the difference; everybody else uses fresh, squeezed lime juice, which ends up with a thicker guacamole but doesn’t taste as amazing) garlic-cloves1 cup cherry tomatoes cubed
2 garlic cloves peeled and pressed (worth the bother, so don’t substitute garlic powder unless you can’t afford fresh, although you can substitute both garlic and onion powder as needed)
guacamole-with-orange-garlilc-onion-and-tomato1 onion finely chopped
2 avocados peeled and well mashed
Salt (preferably coarse-ground seasalt) and pepper to taste (start light and add)avocado-into-guacamoleThe result is so flavorful that I could eat a bowl for lunch (and have been known to do so). However you serve them, though, I hope you enjoy avocados!

 “Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah,Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.” (Daniel 1:11-16) (I’m not a vegetarian, but I do believe in the high value of a largely vegetable and fruit diet with less meat, diary, and grain products.)

P.S.—Although I sometimes add avocado to omelets (just enough to heat through at the end), I’ve read that cooking avocados not only destroys the vitamins but can actually be toxic for some people. Also, guacamole can be frozen, but slices don’t freeze well, so enjoy them fresh!

P.S.S.—Got a favorite way of using avocados? Please share with us!

Wedge Salads: Something Old and Something New

wedge-saladI’m not sure when wedge salads became popular, or why, but they are, and it’s not uncommon to see them listed for $6.98 or more on a menu. To me, they’re just an old-fashion tossed salad made from iceberg lettuce with one step saved: you don’t have to tear up the lettuce! So, they’re fast, easy, delicious, healthy, and trendy. Can’t beat that, can you? The basic idea is to wash a crisp, compact head of iceberg lettuce and slice off a round chunk. Depending on the size of your head and your table, you can get four to eight wedge servings from one iceberg lettuce. wedge-salad-copyClassic toppings include crisp bacon bits and blue cheese crumbles, preferably drizzled with a little buttermilk dressing, salt, and pepper. However, what really makes them remarkable are additional taste points such as avocado, dried cherries or cranberries, toasted almonds (or other nuts), and some finely sliced red onion. But, the list of possibilities is pretty much limited only by your imagination and taste. So, when you’re looking for a healthy way to begin your dinner and are a little tired of the tossed salad look, try a wedge salad!wedge-salad-with-brie-peppers-tomatoes-greek-olives-pepper-rings

And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.” (Genesis 6:21)

Perfect Kale Chips Every Time

roasted-kaleFor a nutrient-rich snack to replace potato chips with only half the calories and oodles of vitamins (A,K,C, B6) and minerals—and even a little protein thrown in for good measure, try baking kale chips. They’re actually a lot tastier than they look! If you haven’t already discovered this simple treat, here’s how:kale-chips

  1. Wash, take out the stems, and break into bite sized pieces
  2. Coat very lightly with olive oil and spread on a cookie sheet in a single layer. (A heavy coat=soggy chips 😦  )
  3. Sprinkle with seasoning salt and pepper (or your favoring flavorings)
  4. Pop in a preheated, 300°F oven for 10 minutes. Turn and bake for another 10 minutes at 275°F. I think the real secret is in then turning off the oven and leaving the kale to dry additionally until you’re ready to serve. This also keeps the chips warm.
  5. Enjoy right from the pan! (They’re very fragile.) For whatever reason, we never have any left over!     🙂roasting-kaleBetter is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Proverbs 15:17).

Banana Crepes…Extraordinaire!

banana-pancake-dessertFor 40 days I was on a strict diet, eating only fruits, veggies, meat, and dairy products. It worked great, and I lost some weight as a bonus, although it made celebrating my birthday a little more tricky. banana-pancake-dessert-2Cindi and Susan were more than up for the challenge, however, and came up with a birthday dessert that looked and tasted totally yummy! Just in case any of you are looking for a nutritious way to have a spectacular gluten-free, dairy-free, pie-in-the-sky yummy treat, this is what they did:banana-pancakeThey made a stack of 4 banana pancakes. These were made from mashing 1 banana and two eggs together. That’s it! Well, the more pancakes you want, the more batter you need, but the ratio stays the same: 1 banana+2 eggs (for 4 pancakes they used 3 bananas and 6 eggs). You can also add a dash of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla if you want, but that’s not crucial.banana-pancake-flipThe batter looks something like crepe batter once it’s nicely whipped. They poured it out onto a hot, well buttered skillet, and let it brown until it bubbled.banana-pancake-brownedThen, they flipped them over and browned each banana cake until golden. Cindi and Susan made “whipped topping” from whipping coconut cream until frothy. It’s mildly sweet (and because I was on a sugar-free diet, it really tasted sweet). Each banana crepe was frosted with whipped coconut cream and then ladled with some type of fruit: fresh raspberries, blueberries, peaches, slivered almonds (or use whatever you love best). After the concoction was so loaded with fruits and nuts we weren’t sure how we’d ever  divide it up, we did…and it stayed pretty intact. banana-pancake-dessert-3It’s filling, but it didn’t make us feel overfull or sick, the way some extravagant desserts do. In fact, we felt delightfully virtuous in our decadence because it was made from “guilt-free” ingredients and was really quite nutritious!   🙂  What great friends to go to such bother to make a birthday treat I could eat!

A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
(Proverbs 17:17)

To Toss or Not to Toss: If You Like It, Try It!

tossed-salad-veggieWhen I was a kid a million years ago, tossed salads were usually made from leaf lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and celery. Do you remember? About thirty years ago, salads became a little more exciting, and extras like onions, olives and avocado brightened the flavor considerably.tossed-saladHowever, today anything goes, and salads have become major flavor feasts! This salad has spinach, shredded red cabbage, corn on the cob, apple, and mixed nuts, but there’s virtually no end to what can be thrown together in a tossed salad and made into a healthy dish full of protein and flavor as well as all the usual suspects (vitamins and minerals). If you like it and happen to have it on hand…don’t be afraid to add it and see if you like it in the mix!

Suggested leafy bases: all types of lettuce, kale, spinach, and shredded cabbages

Veggies: carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, celery, avocado, cucumber, zucchini, any leftover cooked vegetable such as peas, beans, asparagus, corn, chick peas, black beans, beets, Brussels sprouts, etc.

Fruits: apples, pears, berries of all kinds, mandarin (or fresh) oranges, pineapple, mango, peaches etc. I personally prefer crunchy fruits to more mushy ones like bananas, but taste is one of those wonderfully unique pleasures, and some may just love the addition of juicy/mushy fruits.

Extra credit taste points: pickled beets or peppers (or other veggies), capers, olives (of all varieties)

Proteins: any type of nut or cubed cheese you happen to have around. (To make it a full meal, you can also add chopped hard boiled eggs, tofu, crumbled bacon bits,  cooked, cubed meat or a piece of grilled meat on top.)

Dressing: your favorites. Also, I’ve invested in some flavored vinegars and olive oils that really provide a variety of flavors.

What else? Tried anything different that you really love?

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (Genesis 1:29). (Obviously, some fruits and herbs are poisonous today! The Lord’s original gift and this statement was made before the fall.)

 

 

Grilled Veggies

grilling-veggiesBefore it gets too cold for grilling, I want to put in a plug for throwing some veggies on your grill along with any meat you might be planning for dinner.roasted-corn-in-husksThe first veggie I started routinely grilling was corn on the cob,
which is nicely insulated by the husks corn-roasted-and-peeling-cornso it retains excellent moisture, color, and flavor.

grilling-zucchini-and-egg-plantThis summer I’ve gotten more and more adventuresome, however, and now I grill eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, summer squash, carrots portobello mushrooms, onions (only turn once), asparagus, Brussels sprouts…you name it! If it can be sliced into pieces too large to fall between the grate (keep asparagus cross-wise) and won’t disintegrate (green tomatoes work, but not the mouth-watering, juicy red ones), they turn out great!summer-squash-on-grill I usually dress the veggies with a little flavored olive oil or Italian dressing and sprinkle some spices on top, and so far we’ve been fans of everything, although Alan’s personal favorite is summer squash, which he says tastes sweet.bowl-of-grilled-veggies-and-potoatoesIf you try it, let me know what you think, and if you’ve found some other veggies that I haven’t thought of yet, please let me know, will you? My theory is that every extra vegetable is one less empty carb on our plates!   🙂

“God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations” (Psalm 67:1-2).