16th Jun2013

Taco Soup

by Dana

I found this recipe on Pinterest and loved it! It was so good. I must share it. I used it multiple times as taco soup, but then varied it up another night as toppings for nachos (just use less of the liquid).

Not the best picture, but I promise it's tasty!

Not the best picture, but I promise it’s tasty!


Just a few simple ingredients.

  • 1 can of beans (I used Luck’s low-fat pinto beans, but you could use what you’d like, 110 per 1/2 cup) (~363 cals)
  • 1 can of corn (I used Del Monte unsalted whole kernal corn, 60 calories per 1/2 cup) (~210 cals)
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes (Kroger diced tomatoes, 25 cals for 1/2 cup) (~88 cals)
  • 1 can of rotel (Rotel is the brand? 25 cals for 1/2 cup) (~63 cals)
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (McCormick 40% less sodium taco seasoning, 20 cals for 2 tsp) (~120)
  • 1 packet of ranch seasoning (Hidden Valley Ranch mix, 5 cal/2 tbsp) (~80 cals)
  • 1 lb of browned ground beef (I used 96/4% at 140 cals/4 oz) (~560 calories)


  • Brown meat in skillet
  • Drain any grease and add to sprayed crockpot
  • Sprinkle seasoning packets on top of meat
  • Drain the beans and add to the crockpot
  • Add the entire contents of the corn, tomato, and rotel
  • Stir

If it doesn’t look like enough liquid, add some water or low-sodium chicken broth to the mixture. I added probably ~1/4 cup of water and 1/2 cup of low-sodium chicken broth (10 cal).

You could also add more cans of whatever you’d like if you have a bigger crockpot, but this is the largest I could fit in mine.

Cover and cook on low for 7-10 hours. Mine was deliciously ready after about 8 hours. I checked on it at lunch during my work day to make sure it had enough water and gave it a stir. If you were in a rush, you could do it on high for 4-5 hours, but I would bet low would give you a better result.

I served it with shredded cheese and small amount of sour cream on top.


Total Calories of entire mixture: 1484 calories

Servings: 6

Calories per Serving: 248 (without any toppings)

Enjoy your future Taco Soup!

09th Oct2012

“Bullion Soup”

by Mandy


Here is what “maintenance” has looked like for me so far:

 As you can see, it’s been a rocky road. That big spike is when I went to Maine, so I knew that one was coming. What concerns me more, though is the slight positive slope of the line at the end. Since it’s No-Scuses-Tober, I know I’ll be bringing that slope back down. But it’s amazing how that gradual increase in weight can affect my mentality about my whole self. Right now I feel only moderately in control, whereas I felt totally in control back in February when I was at 140 lbs.

Now that it’s getting colder here in Ohio, I figured it’s time to share one of my winter staples! I call this “Bullion Soup.” I originally started making soup after making this 0-Point Weight Watchers Soup. I modified it and adapted it over time so that I was only using items that I usually have around, like bullion cubes instead of broth. But this soup is a great illustration of why I don’t follow the Weight Watchers Plan anymore: my version of this soup is lower calorie, but still totals about 80 calories per serving. On Weight Watchers, this would be 0 of my 26 total points plus per day! Imagine eating what I eat and only having about half of your foods actually count for anything! I mean, this was my whole lunch today!

Anyway, without further ado, here is my Bullion Soup:


  • 1/4 of an eggplant, cubed
  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 zucchini slices, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bullion cubes (any flavor)


  • Heat saucepan over medium heat with non-stick spray.
  • Sautee garlic, onions, and eggplant for 5-7 minutes, until eggplant is a little brown
  • Add zucchini and sautee for 2-3 more minutes
  • Add water and bullion cubes, bring to a boil
  • Remove from heat and serve!


  • 1/4 of an eggplant- 33 calories
  • 1/2 cup onion- 32 calories
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 zucchini slices, thinly sliced- about 5 calories
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bullion cubes (any flavor)- 10 calories
  • Total- 80 calories

And viola! I love using eggplant because it really takes on the texture of a potato in this soup. I also used to add spinach or cabbage when I kept that on hand. I’m sure if you’re a carrot person those would be really good in this soup as well!

26th Jul2012

Danger Zone

by Mandy

I have found that the most effective strategy for me to stay at 1,000 calories in a day is to eat every two hours. My daily food plan definitely is not a three-meal-a-day kind of thing. Sometimes this gets me into trouble when I find myself running errands around Cincinnati, which is about 30 miles away from my house. Since I eat every two hours, I get hungry every two hours. And when I’m hungry, I get hangry.

Before hangry was a thing, I had a term for this feeling: the Danger Zone. I call it the Danger Zone because I am liable to do some dangerous things if I ever reach this state. I might make very bad choices just out of desperation for food, or to eat things that I don’t even WANT!  I thought this was pretty normal, but turns out it’s linked to my previous post on carbs.

It comes down to that little piece called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance requires meticulous moderation of your blood sugar. I figured out that I have insulin resistance by comparing my Fasting Blood Glucose Level when eating fewer sugars and other carbohydrates (81 = normal) to when I was consuming a more balanced diet that included sugars and carbohydrates (109 = “pre-diabetic” according to my workplace health assessment). Since I eat every few hours, I am able to maintain a relatively stable level of blood sugar. When I don’t eat every few hours, my blood sugar drops and I can’t see straight. I’m not going to lie: I get pretty bitchy when this happens. It’s like that scene in Aladdin when Jafar turns into a huge cobra and snaps at everything. That’s me after a few hours of not eating, especially if I had any sugar or carbs during that day which causes a more drastic dip in blood sugar for me.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about planning ahead for these situations. At Weight Watchers meetings, people would refer to the snacks that they kept in their car or purse for exactly these scenarios. Unfortunately, this does not work for me at all. Mainly because of the relationship that I have with food, which I’ll talk more about later. A short summary: if it’s there, I’m going to eat it. So if I have a protein bar in my car, it would never last until when I actually hit the Danger Zone. I know it’s there, which means I’m going to eat it the next time I get in my car.

I’ve approached my Danger Zone problem  by knowing the places and foods that can satiate me and where I can get them. Recently I discovered that I like Beef Jerky. Beef Jerky is a great option because gas stations sell 150-calorie bags, they are high in protein so I feel full, and they are one of the few snack foods that isn’t primarily sugar. I wish I could get a banana for $3 cheaper and 50 fewer calories, but I know that it would just make me hungrier and even more Jafar-like.

I also have a few go-to places for eating out when I am doing errands, like Subway, Dunkin Donuts, and Panera. More on this later, too! But I have learned from too many Danger Zone slip-ups that I have to keep tabs on my hunger levels when I am away from home, because once you are out of control of your environment, your environment will control you.

04th Jul2012

Vacation Mentality

by Mandy

Ever since I started college, my state of being has been “deprivation.” I have never felt comfortable enough to eat what I actually want at all times. In fact, when I do eat exactly what I want, I feel guilt. I started buying groceries for myself when I moved off campus my junior year of college, and never once do I recall buying exactly what I want when at the grocery store. Even when I was in my upswings in my weight continuum, it is never that I eat whatever I want on a daily basis. It’s that my stumbles become more frequent and I forgive myself more readily.

So what exactly are these stumbles? Well, I am a control freak. I like to have control over everything, including my food choices. My approach to eating is deliberate, and in most cases I’m not eating what I want to eat, but allowing food to serve as a means to an end as opposed to something to really enjoy.

There are moments in time when I feel like I can stop controlling things and just go with the flow. It’s like a mental vacation. Usually, it is a real vacation, and my mentality translates into food. When I’m living out this vacation mentality, it’s not that I’m not counting, it’s just that I’m not caring. I don’t care that my burrito is 500 calories, because I’ve decided to stop being in control for a minute and to enjoy food. To me, this is a stumble.

This invariably results in one thing: stomach distention; being full to the point of extreme physical discomfort. Because once I give up mental control, I lose all sense of how to eat if not to finish everything I’m given or everything that’s available. I’ve always struggled with going to visit my mom, because food is abundant, and I am on vacation: a very dicey situation for me. I have never learned how to stop eating when I’m full. I’ve never learned how to eat to the point of satiation.

So when I get myself into this vacation mentality, it’s doomsday. I have a compulsion to eat everything I want, because I know that the next day I don’t get what I want. There is obviously a big problem with functioning in this way, but I don’t know any other way. When I started Weight Watchers, I had a system to deal with it, and it was to eat whatever I wanted after I went to the Weight Watchers meetings once a week. I never felt fully deprived, because I knew that if I really wanted something, then I could have it on Thursday night. That stopped working for me when two things happened: 1) my weight got low enough that the extra calories were too much for my BMR, and 2) I started allowing multiple dinners/desserts, because I was fully into vacation mentality. Every. Thursday. Night.

The truth is, now it’s easy for me to be controlled and restrictive. I never have to figure out when to stop, I already know because I’ve already counted calories and portions. It is hard for me to maintain weight loss, because I don’t know how to find the happy medium between eating 1,000 calories a day and eating 3,000 calories a day in my brain.

So on Sunday when I was driving from Michigan back to Ohio, I had already decided I blew it for the day, and I was fully settled into vacation mentality. At 9pm when I got home, I was still full from breakfast and lunch. But I stopped at Taco Bell and got nachos and a burrito. I have no idea how I talked myself out of ice cream and fries at McDonald’s as well. I also drank wine that I didn’t need. I was exhausted from a tiring weekend and a long drive, and I should have just gone to sleep. But vacation mentality made me feel like I needed to eat as much as possible while I could.

As I begin to think about my upcoming transition to maintenance as opposed to weight loss, I really, truly fear my vacation mentality causing me to gain all the weight back I worked so hard to lose. I am thinking about introducing a Food Vacation Day once a month, and rotating the meal that is the “vacation” (meaning that I only get ONE meal a day rather than allowing a whole day or weekend). But I’m not sure I can strategize my way out of this one without some serious therapy.