Monday, February 14, 2011

Pretty Pocket Packages

The Saturday before Valentine’s Day I was in Staples and found these huge bags of paper clips for $2.50. I go through a lot of clips at work, and I thought that these would be so much fun. I also thought it would be neat to share some with my
co-workers for Valentine’s Day.  Plus, the clips have way less calories than candy. 
 I started putting them in party bags, but then I decided to try a little craft project.

I made these little cloth pockets out of material from JoAnne Fabrics. I thought about sewing them, but this was a very last minute project, and I didn’t have time to hand sew 11 pockets. Instead, I just hot glued them.

While making them I discovered that I need a good pair of sewing scissors. My scrapbooking scissors left a lot of jagged edges and frayed ends. However, I think pockets still came out really cute. They have a crafty, folksy feel.

I used some pretty, pink ribbon to embellish the front flap (and to hide some super jagged edges). I used Valentine’s Day glitter stickers to close the pockets. These were a last minute improvisation. If I do this again I would use snaps, buttons, or Velcro for closures, so they could be closed again.

I brought them to work today, and they were a big hit!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pasta Salad

Weight Watchers Tip # 2 – Veggies Are A Girl’s Best Friend

One of the few foods I love as much as chocolate is pasta. I could scarf pasta all day long (and then dream about it at night). One of the things I love about WW is that I don’t have to give up pasta. I just have to work it into the program.

One of my favorite ways to do this is to veggie it up. Adding lots of veggies to pasta helps to increase the portion size, while not increasing the points. Plus, it’s really fun to experiment with the variety of flavors that different veggies can add.

This pasta salad is adapted from a dish that a co-worker once brought to a pot luck.

I start with chopped red cabbage. The purple color is so pretty, and the flavor is really fresh.

Next I add green peas. I buy them frozen and de-frost them. I love the snappy texture they add.

Then I add matchstick carrots. I love that you can buy these in pre-cut bags. So easy!

The last veggie I add is chick peas. They do have points value, but they are super healthy. Plus, they add really great flavor to the salad.

Now for the pasta! I’ve tried to use whole wheat pasta, which I like to use with tomato sauce, but the wheaty flavor tends to overpower the other ingredients. Instead I use a whole wheat blend pasta. It has a more mild flavor than the wheat pasta and one more gram of fiber than the plain pasta.

When I boil the pasta I like to take it out while it is still really firm. Mushy pasta does not go well with all of the crisp veggies.  It’s important to let the pasta chill before mixing it in with the veggies.  
After the pasta is chilled and mixed with the veggies it is time to dress the salad. I would love to say that I make the dressing from scratch, but learning how to make home-made salad dressing is a task that has yet to be crossed off my to-do list. Besides, the original pot luck dish I adapted this from used a bottled dressing.

The original dish was dressed with a Bacon Ranch dressing mixed with those crunchy bacon bits that always make me think of puppy kibble. In this pasta salad I’ve used Ken’s Light Creamy Caesar dressing and real bacon bits. In order to keep the calories in check I use a limited amount of dressing and bacon bits. However, the combination of the dressing and bacon bits with all of the veggies creates a lot of flavor (especially, if  it sits in the fridge for a couple of hours before munching).

Currently, I don’t have any exact measurements, because I just throw it all together. However, the next time I make it I will have to measure the ingredients to figure out the points. I plan to add an addendum to this post when I do this.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Return to Weight Watchers

It is Weight Watcher’s time! Heading back to the WW this week after a long absence and a big weight gain. This lifetime member has a ways to go to get back to goal. I am not looking forward to re-loosing weight I have already lost, but I am looking forward to getting back to my former, more fashionable (I mean this only in the sense that my clothing options are less limited) size.

That being said, I’ve decided it’s time to re-visit the tricks and tips that led to my success the first time around (the one’s I shelved after finishing grad school and going to work). I plan on posting these throughout my weight loss journey. 

Tip 1: Don’t Ditch Desert

I love sweets! If I tried to deprive myself of chocolate I might be okay for a week or so, before suddenly finding myself knee deep in Hershey wrappers. Feeling deprived doesn’t work for me.

Instead of making chocolate off limits, I found some creative ways to make low point deserts. The yummy looking brownie below is one of my favorite deserts.

The Brownie is made using No Pudge Brownie Mix. It’s really easy to make.

Just stir the all natural mix in with low fat vanilla yogurt and bake. 


I use half of a serving of slow churned ice cream. Then I add some strawberries. I also find that using pretty plates somehow makes the food taste better.