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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Product Review: Sweet Little Chocolates

Altoids Dark Chocolate Dipped Mints, Peppermint, 1.76-Ounce Tins (Pack of 12)I love to find fun and yummy snacks that are low in sugar and can carry in my purse, but it seems they are so hard to come by! My latest find is Dark Chocolate Dipped Altoids and Sweetroit nibs.

The Dark Chocolate Dipped Altoids are basically a smaller version of regular Altoids covered in a layer of dark chocolate. A really nice combination I think. The little mints are 1gram of sugar each with an S/C Value of 1/0, so they are perfect for little sweet something and to share with a friend. That is pretty much the same S/C Value that other Altoid flavors have, with the added bonus of CHOCOLATE) I found mine at Trader Joes, I apologize if they are hard to find! Even Amazon has them backordered. Unfortunately my first tin melted together when I had my kids at the park and my purse was in the sun!

SweetRiot was suggested to me over on twitter by Anthony. They are dark cocoa nibs covered in chocolate (do you detect a theme here?) I found mine at Whole Foods near the registers, but they are also available at Cost Plus World Market and REI. Flavor 70 means 70% cocoa, which is the highest they make. They come in a really cute tiny tins and have an S/C Value of 6/1 for the entire tin. So of course, don't eat the whole thing! Just a few nibbles at a time is perfect. These were about $4 per tin.

Do you have a favorite sweet low sugar snack you carry in your bag?


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Iced Tea For Me

Iced and hot teas have really helped me kick the diet soda habit. Without them, I don't think I'd have been able to do it. I also think getting rid of diet soda and artificial sweeteners are the one big key to my weight loss success. Does is seem stupid to post a recipe for Iced Tea? I thought it was pretty obvious how to make it, but you would be surprised how many people don't know how.

There are three ways which I make iced tea: cold brewed, sun tea or regular brewed. The advantages of the first two are that you don't have to boil water and the tea is less acidic when the water isn't hot.

Sun Tea
Cold brewed is very simple, but takes longer. Use a clear glass pitcher and completely fill it with filtered water room temp eater. I use a Brita to filter it. Place 2 tea bags in the pitcher and place it in the sun (in a window, on your deck pr porch).  Remove the bags when the tea has seeped, probably about 1 hour. Some teas are made especially for brewing this way, but I haven't ever used them. This works with any tea.

Cold Brewed
Fill your pitcher with water, add the tea bags and leave in your refrigerator over night. In the morning remove the tea bags and your tea is ready.

Hot Brewed
Boil at least two cups of water, add tea bags and let steep for 5 minutes. Some people add a little soda to remove any bitterness (I don't) at this stage. Remove the tea bags and pour into pitcher. Fill will cold water to immediately cool down. If you are serving immediately you can add ice right to the pitcher to further cool it down. I also make a version of this where I fill up a reusable water bottle and put in a tea bag if I'm going to be out for a awhile. By the time I get the kids soccer practice or the park, I have a lightly brewed tea.

Making Your Iced Tea Special
Regular black iced tea is pretty boring, so I brew up flavorful batches and mix and match the tea bags. All the flavor is great since I don't use any sweetener in it. Here are some of the combos that I like and that get compliments from visitors:

1 Bag Regular Black Tea + 1 Bag Cinnamon Tea                
1 Bag Regular Black Tea + 1 Bag Ginger Peach Tea
1 Bag Mint Tea + 1 Bag Green Tea
1 Bag Green Tea + 1 Bag of any fruity tea

I always use just two bags for a whole pitcher. It is nice and light, not too strong but you can certainly add another bag or more. Iced Teas don't keep very long and if you notice it getting cloudy, dump it out and make a new pitcher.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Belly Fat Cure Sugar & Carb Counter Book by Jorge Cruise

Jorge has a new book out this week that is a companion guide to the Belly Fat Cure. The book is small, 5x7 inches and slim. It's the perfect size to keep in your bag for shopping and dining out. This book was really necessary, since most nutritional value books don't list the sugar content. A sure sign that most people are not concerned with their sugar intake.

The Sugar & Carb Counter lists the Serving Size, Fiber, Sugar, Carbs and S/C Value for thousands of items and brand name products. There is even a section for popular restaurants, like Burger King, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC and Starbucks. Sadly I can now confirm my old favorite Cinnamon Chip Scone with a Vanilla Latte has an S/C Value of... drumroll... 61/5! No wonder I weighed so much!! But hey, on the bright side I had 1 carb serving left for all my meals for the day. So for anyone who thinks they aren't eating that much sugar (which I hear all the time), check out one of your favorite stand-bys. Wow!

This book would be perfect for any dieter keeping track of sugar and carbs, not just those on the Belly Fat Cure. When I was at Jorge's office recently I even heard talk of the long awaited BFC iPhone app! But until then you can use my S/C Value Tracker and the awesome CalorieKing.

If you have already ordered your book from Amazon (which has the best deal by far at under $8) then it should ship this week. If you haven't already ordered it, I would recommend pre-ordering the Fast Track book at the same time (or maybe some Jay Robb protein powder) to get free shipping. I have had an advance look at that book too, and it is full of content and information to back up the original BFC and the additional restrictions of the Fast Track.

I have one issue with the book the new Sugar & Carb Counter book: it doesn't indicate products that contain artificial sweeteners (which are not allowed on the plan) and simply lists them as an S/C of 0/0. A simple asterisk or notation would have been enough. For example Diet Coke, not allowed, but still listed as 0/0. Most of us recognize the products with artificial sweeteners, but newbies to the diet really don't. I'm a stickler for details, but keep that in mind when looking up values.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Weigh In: Week 39 on the Belly Fat Cure Fast Track

This week has been really fun and totally out of the ordinary for me! First, let's start with my weight: I am down 3 lbs in the last two weeks for a total of 5 lbs lost in July on our BFC Challenge. And while I pick my chin up off the floor I'll tell you I am surprised by my loss this month. Making simple changes while sticking a good plan really does work! That puts me at 143 lbs with a total of 53 lbs lost. I am 1 single pound from my goal weight! I promise, you and myself, no new goals. This is it!

Monday Jorge invited me down to San Diego for a BFC whirlwind day. I was able to spend the day with two people I have featured here on the blog, Jessica and Anthony. I had never met Anthony in person, and I was really looking forward to it. I have made a great friend in him. Jessica has lost 63 lbs and has just graduated from high school and Anthony has lost 210 lbs. Yes, that is what he LOST. Both are so inspiring and if you have a young person in your life who is looking lose weight, their stories are great. So two very motivating people to spend the day with, right?

I had my hair and makeup done and professional photos taken for the Belly Fat Cure Fast Track book that comes out at the end of the year. Jorge is putting the three of us on the back cover of the book, which is a really neat opportunity. It was fun having people ooh and aah over me for a few hours, I won't lie. But I really loved spending time with Jessica, Anthony, Oliver and Robbie (who work for Jorge). Being surrounded by people with the same goals and interests is so easy.

When my family picked me up at the airport I still had all the makeup on and the kids and Husband declared they didn't recognize me. I now know, pancake really settles in your wrinkles and lines! The kids and I head out for a long vacation this week to spend time with my family in Oklahoma. They are going to fish, swim and play with cousins, which they don't get to do very often. I'm going to sit in the shade, read, and enjoy some free Grandparent provided babysitting.

How are you all doing on the July Challenge? I hope you have been able to stick with the plan and not give into cravings. I am a little worried I won't have my normal foods around and we will camping in the Ozarks (=middle of nowhere) so I hope I do okay.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Belly Fat Cure Party Food

Gathering with friends and neighbors is a big part of summer. But when you are on a diet, these situations can be stressful. Whether you are hosting a party, eating at a party or expected to bring along a dish, I have a few ideas for you!

If you are invited to a party and are really worried that you won't find anything you can eat there, then just bring your own! Bring a platter of your favorite thing from the list below, most hostess would welcome the help. Bring your own Sobe 0 Calorie Lifewater to make into a martini and tell the hostess you wanted to share a new drink with her. Don't be shy, tell her you don't want her to go to any extra trouble for you, but that you are on a sugar restrictive diet. Or you can keep it on the Down Low and sneak in your supplies. In the very worst case, just eat before you go and don't stand next to the food tables.

Backyard BBQs are a dream come true on the Belly Fat Cure and are the easiest to handle. If you are planning your own party, stock up on proteins and green veggies. If you still can't be trusts with sugary desserts or chips, ask a guest to bring those potluck style, so your exposure to them is minimal. Or choose items that you don't like. I know that sounds weird, but it works for me in case there are any leftover. Also, don't over buy - specifically so there won't be a lot of leftovers. Lovingly send home leftovers with your friends who could use a little fat around the middle! ;-)
Belly Good (low sugar and carbs):
Hot Dogs, Brats, Cheeseburgers (skip the bun or bring along Thin Buns)
Ribs (seasoned,without BBQ sauce)
Chicken Wings
Grilled veggies
Deviled eggs
Veggie Tray
Salads (be careful with the dressing choice)
Anti Pasta tray (sliced meats, salami, olives, marinated artichokes, hard cheeses)
Cheese tray
Tomato/Mozzarella/Basil stacks drizzled w/ EVOO (see photo)
Nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds and macadamia nuts are best)
Spinach and Artichoke dip (recipe below)

White or Red wine

Fresh berries with cream
Sobe Popsicles

Belly Bad (high sugar and carbs):
Most buns, breads, rolls, crackers
Chips (you could have a few)
Pasta Salad
Fruit Salad
Cold Slaw
Potato Salad
Cocktails made with sodas, diet sodas or fruit juice
Hot Toddys
Most all desserts

You can tell I've been doing the BFC for awhile, because my good list is longer then the bad list. But I think you get the gist of it! I am having a little backyard BBQ myself tonight, and this is pretty much exactly what I am serving. I'd love to hear how you handle parties and social situations on a diet.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip:
1 can artichoke
2 cups Fresh Spinach
8oz cream cheese
Hot sauce - to taste
1/4 Mozzerella cheese
1 Cup Parmesan cheese

Saute the spinach until its cooked down. Drain the canned artichoke, chop into smaller pieces. Add chopped artichokes and cream cheese to saute pan. Stir and heat through. Mix in hot sauce to your liking and Parmesan cheese, spoon into small baking dish. Sprinkle Mozzarella on top. Cook for 25 minutes at 325 and serve with celery, sliced cucumbers or very low sugar/carb crackers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Milk Replacements on the Belly Fat Cure

One of my proudest moments on this diet was way early on a Saturday morning and my boys came in jumping on our bed. "Mom! Dad! Breakfast!" "You can make your own cereal this morning, you're big boys" came the Husband's groggy answer from underneath a pillow. "Daaaaaad! Milk has too much sugar!" as they jumped to the kitchen. "What are they talking about, milk doesn't have any sugar?" asks the groggy milk guzzler. "14 sugars Daaaaad!" came the answer from the other room. And I officially had one less milk drinker in my household.

Milk (skim, low fat and full fat) is out on the Belly Fat Cure. For the options below be sure your container says "UNSWEETENED" and check the refrigerated milk and non-refrigerated soy areas in your store.  Here are a few good milk substitutes:

Unsweetened Almond Milk (USAM) - Jorge Cruise mentions this as a good substitute in the book. Several stores carry the Blue Diamond brand, Target even carries it as a half gallon the refrigerated section. I like to by the unrefrigerated smalled boxes and stock up when I find them on sale. It is available in Original, Vanilla and Chocolate. Whole Foods carries all flavors, while most stores only carry the Vanilla

So Delicious Coconut Milk Unsweetened - I think this milk replacement tastes a little better than the USAM. Although, every now and then it reminds me of tanning oil, must be the coconut! I have only seen this at Whole Foods next to the regular milk. Turtle Mountain, its maker, has a few other items which are good on the BFC. If you like European drinking yogurt you could try their unsweetened Kefir too.

Unsweetened Soy Milk - There are a few brands of soy milk that have sugar/carb contents that are low enough for the BFC. Silk unsweetened, for example. Many grocery stores carry Silk in the refrigerated section. Just check the cartoon of the soy you want to make sure. Trader Joe's has the Essential Soy Unsweetened that the Husband is now addicted to since giving up milk and it is extremely low in sugar. So why does Jorge push the Almond and not the Soy? He said in class that is because of the GMO in Soy, so limit its use.

Hemp Milk - Hemp milk is a great option if you can find it at 0g Sugar and 1g Carbs. Whole Foods carries a variety of Hemp Milks in the refrigerated section, but I really haven't seen them anywhere else.  I also found the Hemp Milk to be a little pricier then the other options. But according to Dr Andrew Weil it may be a great option for those with nut allergies. My husband also like this one a lot since he is Vegan and recently "off milk". Tempt is the brand we prefer and I'll stock up for I find it on sale. It comes in regular and vanilla unsweetened flavors.

I met Diane over on Jorge's Facebook page and she even suggested making your own from powered milk. You can't make it exactly as directed, because it would still have a lot of sugar, but you can modify it a bit and be okay.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Weigh in: Week 37 on Jorge Cruise's Belly Fat Cure

I haven't done an official weigh in quite awhile, but this month I have set a new goal and want to lose 6 more lbs. I have lived in my new body for a bit, and I think just a little bit more will be a more comfortable. My weight this week was down 2lbs to 146, which is a new low for me AND officially puts me at a 50 lbs loss on the BFC. I have to say I am shocked, for not the first time, at how well this plan works for me!

I made some changes to my regular Belly Fat Cure eating and have cut out all grains (except Benefiber) and really increased my green veggies. Jorge Cruise is calling this new program the Fast Track and has book coming out at the end of the year on it. I felt like I needed to switch it up again, as my weight was stagnating a bit. Can I keep up no grains for life? Who knows, and I don't want to think that far ahead or put that kind of pressure on myself. But I think it was an easy transition after about 8 months on the BFC. Changes I have noticed are that I am sleeping better... way better. And I just feel much less hungry this week. This is photo of my grocery haul this week - super green!

I think there are two secrets as to why I have lost my 50 lbs:

1. I just stuck with it, not withstanding a few afternoon chip binges
2. I eliminated artificial sweeteners

I think #2 is the most crucial, because it is what has allowed me to do #1, stick with it. I would love to hear from others who also quit artificial sweeteners or are interested in doing it for the month. I have been trying to convince one of my sisters to do it, but she can't understand why a 0 Calorie additive would effect her weight. I truly believe it has made all the difference for me!

This week I have stumbled across a few great articles that really support Low Sugar diets and giving up artificial sweeteners. Here is a video with Dr Mark Hyman (article is HERE) that really is useful. And then another article about artificial sweeteners HERE.

How are all the July Challengers doing? Leave an updated here and let us know! It was a tough week with the long weekend and holiday.  If you leave your email here or in the last #BFCJuly post, I will email you all and see if we can get a buddy system going. The main point of the challenge is to choose a diet plan and stick with it, no excuses, for a month. I am shaking up my diet a little bit too!

I like how they have color-coded the new books. But we all know Jorge only wears blue! ;-) I noticed the new book is also more pricey too.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Belly Fat Cure Quesadillas

I really love Jorge's tacos and I like to find ways to work the high fiber tortillas into my diet. So I started making Quesadilla! They aren't anything fancy at all, but I thought I would share it with you since we all get bored with "diet food".

A funny story about this Quesadilla: I did a photoshoot recently for Woman's World magazine regarding my weight loss on the Belly Fat Cure. I was asked to prepare a meal for the photographer that exemplified what I eat on the diet. When he asked what I was going to make and I said "Quesadilla!" and he said "Why in the world would you make that, you can't eat that on a diet". Umm, you can on this diet.

So this is the actual Quesadilla I made for the photoshoot, I ate it as soon as he left and saved the other half for dinner! I'm curious to see if they use any of those photos in the magazine when it comes out in late August.

What you need:
2 La Tortilla Factory Smart and Delicious tortillas (I use the large ones)
1 large chicken breast
1/4 Cup Cheese - Cheddar/Mozzarella combo is good
Sour cream
Salsa (lowest sugar you can find, I get mine at Trader Joes)
1/2 Avocado (or guacamole is fine too)
Chopped Spinach (or any green leaf)

How To:
I grill the Chicken, then chop it up. Place 1 tortilla in the bottom of a large skillet put half of cheese on top, then add all the chicken. Add the rest of the cheese and place the other tortilla on top. Let it get the bottom get crispy, the cheese melt and then carefully flip the entire Quesadilla over so the other side can get crispy too. Press down on the top tortilla as it cooks.

With a big knife or pizza cutter, cut Quesadilla into 6 pieces, place onto 2 different plates. Add the sour cream, salsa, avocado and lastly top off with a big handful of spinach. Makes two servings (so only eat half of this for one meal to stay with in 5/2 S/C value!) You could add a serving of low sugar Cottage Cheese on the side too if you needed a little more food.

What makes this a low sugar/low carb Belly Fat Cure Quesadilla instead of a regular one? The choice of a great tortilla that is high in fiber, ingredients that are low in sugar and portion control.

I would love to see your variations on Jorge's creations!

ps. Currently I am 1 week into a No Grain version of the BFC, so I can't have this right now. But I thought I would share this with you all anyways, it is still a favorite! For now I just make a salad version of it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

They Say It's My Birthday

Today is my birthday and I have reached the ripe old age of 41. 40 was awfully good to me, but gosh 41 sounds old. I am IN my 40s, not just 40. I feel like it has been a year of change. My Sister M says that this diet has really changed me, and more then just my weight. She told me it made into the woman she always knew I was. I could get all defensive and weird, but I think she might be onto something.

Seems I learned not to sweat the small stuff or try to constantly control and worry about the uncontrollable. I learned to put myself first, so that I can take better care of those that need me. That sounded so selfish at first, but makes perfect sense now. You know how on an airplane they tell you to put on your own air bag and THEN put on your child's in case of an emergency? I learned that the more I put out there, the more I get back. I now know that if I open myself up with a positive attitude, good things start rushing into my life. I learned that we are all mentally and physically fragile, and being hard on myself year after year was taking its toll.

Granted, it isn't all sunshine and puppies (right Dave?). But the clouds and pitbulls have a certain charm too... and they will pass. They may rain on you and bite before they do, but they will. It may flood and get infected, but they will pass. They will, if you let them.

I would like to leave you with this video that Jorge sent out a few days ago. In the middle he shows off the back cover of his new book, and yours truly is right there smiling back! That, is me. Unadulterated, non photo-shopped me. I don't think I ever looked as bad as the BEFORE photo, and I certainly don't think I look as good as the AFTER photo. But there I am, in all my glory, as it is. My favorite response to this video was my sister saying "Who's that fat lady they put next to you?" Ummm, that was me.

But I want to tell you this, if I can make changes so great that someone wants to advertise them on the back of their weight loss book, then YOU can do anything!

Thanks this awesome unintended birthday gift Jorge, this re-motivates me to be the best I can be.

And yes that is my friend Anthony and Jessica that I have profiled here on the back cover too! How completely cool is that? I get to meet Anthony in person thanks to Jorge in a few weeks, but more on that later...

And no, I am not having any cake. Not a bit, sniff or lick.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Holidays and Dieting

I am so excited that so many of you decided to join me for a July Weight Loss Challenge! I have already had a great three days sticking with my slightly altered eating plan - Belly Fat Cure Fast Track (basically BFC with no grains).  I have counted 20+ of us actively participating so far! Which is a great number, but if you are on the fence, please just jump right in! If you would like a buddy, there are lots of emails on my last post. So grab one or two and say "Hello!".

For the 4th we did a roadtrip up to the Muir Woods and watched fireworks from Sausalito. I don't eat out much anymore, but we ate at restaurants for both lunch and dinner. I was able to make good choices and feel full and satisfied. For dinner we were at an Italian restaurant and I almost felt I had no choices (except for the obvious salad) when I went for an Antipasto appetizer plate instead. It was perfect and even came with crustless artichoke quiche! The kids had ice cream and hot chocolate was we watched the fireworks right on the bay and I had a Venti Drip Decaf with Half & Half. It was perfect (until we got stuck in 2hrs of traffic to get home!).

Kris is blogging about doing the challenge at Fit is the New Black. I love her blog and she has already lost an incredible amount of weight! Check out her Sassy Water recipe, it is a great idea if you are trying to give up sodas (diet or regular). Let us know about your eating and exercise decisions over the big holiday weekend. It was a touch weekend to start a new commitment!

Friday, July 2, 2010

July Weight Loss Challenge

I've been in a bit of funk for the last week and I decided it was time to just end the funk, instead of letting it decide when it was done with me. I noticed lots of you are in a diet funk as well and I thought it might be fun to do little weight loss challenge for the month of July! I have lived at/near my goal weight for about two months now, and I would like to lose a little bit more. I'd like to get to 142, which is only about 6 lbs away.

Want to participate? I mentioned it over on Twitter and 13 people pretty much immediately said "I'm in!" as did my Mom and both Sisters. I am hoping some of you will too!

Rules: No rules, just maybe some guidelines.

* Be supportive. It would be great if you could reach out to someone you meet here or on twitter participating.

* Twitter: Use the hashtag #BFCJuly in all your posts. Be sure to create a filter for #BFCJuly so you can see people you don't follow yet too. Tweetdeck and Seesmic are great twitter interfaces if you are ready to take it to the next level. If this sounds like Greek, stick to comments! My twitter name is @meandjorge.

* Leave an introduction comment with as much information about yourself as you are comfortable revealing. I recommend first names only, emails & twitter names would be nice. I have found this blog to be a safe place to share and never had a rude or mean comment, ever. I read every comment I get here.

* Send a daily tweet or leave a comment about something you overcame, ate, resisted, accomplished, lost or gained. You don't have to reveal your weight, but if you want to please do! If you are a blogger, please blog about it and I will link back your blog in the next post if you let me know. At the end I would like to add up all our pounds lost for a grand total.

* Don't quit! No quitters allowed ;-) It's less then a month, you can commit to that! I truly believe a big part of my success has been that I simply just didn't quit. At the end you may have changed a habit, lost a few pounds, made a friend, or learned something new. They say it takes 21 days to make a real change. Let's make a change in July, 2010.

* You don't have to do the Belly Fat Cure diet, do whatever diet you like. I will be doing Belly Fat Cure Fast Track, which I haven't talked a lot about here because frankly there isn't much info released on it. I will be grain free (no GG Crispbreads even!) and loading up on the green veggies and protein!

* I would love to see some of you using artificial sweeteners to give them up 100% for a month. Anyone willing to do that? I think you will be truly so surprised at the results and an important part of my success is due to this.

Are you excited? Because I am!