Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Mole

Even though mole is typically high in fat, it's one of my favorite Mexican dishes. Given my sweet tooth, that’s not surprising: Mole incorporates cocoa powder and sugar. My husband was reluctant to try my take on mole, because his mother and aunts prepared mole that was more sweet than spicy. Here, I’ve eliminated nearly all of the fat, and struck a balance between sweet, spicy, and savory flavors, so both my husband and I can enjoy mole.
I'm sharing this recipe with you this week so you'll have time to prepare it for any Cinco de Mayo celebrations you're planning, but it's a terrific recipe for any time of the year. !Buen provecho!

Slow Cooker Chicken Mole

1 (1 ½ ounce) package dried pasilla, mulato, or ancho chiles
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
¼ cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar substitute
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 pound frozen boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins (see Cook's Notes)


Remove stems from chiles, if necessary. Combine chiles and tomato sauce in blender. Puree until chiles are integrated into sauce.

Pour sauce into slow cooker. Add cornmeal, cocoa powder, sugar substitute, garlic, cinnamon, coriander, and cloves, and stir to combine. Place chicken on top of sauce.

Cook on LOW for 6 – 8 hours (do NOT cook on HIGH!), or until chicken is cooked through.

Cook's Notes:

Although mole is usually plated and served with side dishes, I think it's delish in corn tortillas with just a sprinkle of queso blanco. When I prepare it this way, I use frozen chicken breasts, then shred the meat with two forks. It's not as visually appealing as tenderloins, but it's more cost-effective.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mother's Day Is Just Around the Corner...

Just like last year, I received an e-mail with a variety of gift suggestions for Mother's Day. Once again, I like the idea of getting a jump-start on Mother's Day shopping, but I was alarmed by how many of the gift possibilities would hinder, rather than help, with weight management. That's unfortunate! Whether you're thinking about a gift for your mom, or you're a mom yourself, now's the perfect time to start gift-shopping...or start gift-hinting!

You don't need to settle for a bouquet of flowers or set Mom's weight management efforts back by taking her out to brunch. Instead, consider a gift grounded in the basics of successful weight management -- healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, hydration, and adequate sleep. Instead of setting her back, these outside-the-box gift ideas will give Mom a weight loss or weight maintenance boost:
  • Consider color therapy (also known as chromotherapy): Happily, color therapy is gaining more respect, but it's still a novel idea for a unique Mother's Day gift. Here's an example: Check out this LED color-changing light. Want to learn more about chromotherapy? Check out Color Therapy Association's Web site at this link.
  • Experiment with aromatherapy: A student in my online weight loss class recently posted that she relies on aromatherapy. I feel the same way! For decades, my favorite scents have been lavender, rose, frankincense, and nag champa. Whether I need to relax (lavender), feel more centered (rose, frankincense), or focus (nag champa), aromatherapy works wonders for me. Recently, I've added khus (vetiver) to my list of favorite scents, as I find it both relaxing and focusing at the same time. If you'd like to learn more, check out Aura Cacia's Website here.
  • Get peppy: Did you know peppermint is associated with weight loss? I drink a cup of peppermint tea every day for another reason (related to perimenopause), but I drink it mid-morning when I get hungry before lunch, as it acts as a mild appetite suppressant. Treat Mom to peppermint tea, peppermint incense (http://www.gonesh.net/ offers a peppermint-pine incense intended for the holidays, but it's delish all year long), or a peppermint-scented aromatherapy candle.
  • Give Mom a back rub. One of my favorite Mother's Day gifts was a massage mat for the car. I'm grateful for it every time I get in the van! If your mom doesn't drive, spring for a massage certificate.
  • Help Mom enjoy a good night's sleep. If Mom has sinus issues, a wedge pillow can make sleeping through the night considerably easier. Or, spring for a wonderful new set of sheets, pillows, blackout curtains, or another item that will enhance Mom's time in bed. 
  • Pay for a class. Pick up the tab for a fun new exercise class, like kickboxing, bikram yoga, belly dance, or Zumba. Or, maybe Mom's into a self-nurturing activity like painting, perfumery, or gardening. Get her a gift certificate to her favorite craft store or nursery. Many craft stores and nurseries also offer classes.
  • Pick up the tab for a special treat. Treat Mom to a massage, a hair appointment, a spa day, or a mani-pedi. Consider a gift certificate to her favorite store, or donate to her favorite cause.
  • Pick up the tab for new equipment. I'm almost reluctant to include this, because giving one of these gifts can easily be misconstrued. That said, a cool new water bottle, a gift certificate for those expensive workout shoes Mom's coveting, a gorgeous new yoga outfit, a pedometer, or a fancy new scale can give the mom who's serious about weight management a terrific boost. (But don't even think about giving Mom one of these gifts unless she's asked!)
  • Expand Mom's healthy eating horizons. Treat Mom to a meal at a healthy eatery, spend a leisurely afternoon at a farmer's market, or make Mom a healthy meal you know she'll love. Make Mom a basket filled with her favorite treats from her favorite specialty food store.
Now, a question for moms: What's the best Mother's Day gift you've received? Let us know below!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recipe: Cranberry Jezebel Sauce

Cranberry Jezebel Sauce is great with turkey or chicken, but it’s sublime with ham, making it a perfect side dish for Easter dinner. The sauce is a tantalizing sweet-spicy-sour combination; ham contributes the remaining two flavor bases, salty and savory.
I use sugar substitute and sugar-free marmalade to reduce carbs and calories, but if you prefer, you may use sugar or sugar-based marmalade instead. Note that the calorie and carbohydrate content will be much higher.

Cranberry Jezebel Sauce

½ cup water
1 cup sugar substitute
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 (16-ounce) can whole cranberry sauce
2/3 cup sugar-free orange marmalade
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


Dissolve sugar substitute in water in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often. Bring to a boil. Add onions and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add marmelade, cranberry sauce, horseradish, and mustard. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 10 - 15 minutes.

Serve with grilled ham, roast chicken, or roast turkey.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How to Hop Past Easter Treats

Depending on where you are, it may still be cold and snowy, making it hard to believe that Easter is only a little over two weeks away. Happily, Easter is the last big candy day of the holiday season. As the days grow longer and the weather warms up, the focus naturally turns from candy to fresh fruit.

Until then, here's a short-but-sweet list of tips to help you handle the Easter candy deluge:

Donna's Top Five Tips for Hopping Past Easter Candy

  1. If you're not keeping a food record, start! If you're skilled with eating awareness, you may not need to track everything you eat. Instead, you might benefit from just tracking candy, dessert, or whatever food you find most tempting. Write down every sweet treat you eat (or use your smartphone to take a picture). This tip works for soda, alcohol, and other high-calorie beverages, too.
  2. Remember that Easter, like other holidays, will come around again next year. If you don't eat a crème-filled egg, it'll be okay. This isn't your last chance. You can always enjoy one next year.
  3. Make sure you're on track with drinking water, getting enough rest, and managing stress. It's easier to resist temptation when you feel healthy and well.
  4. If you have kids or grandkids, consider balancing candy with non-food treats, or celebrating with non-food treats. Although my kids still enjoy hunting for candy-filled eggs, they look forward to receiving a little gift -- this year, it's a video game for my son, art supplies for my older daughter, and gardening goodies for my younger daughter. My kids will happily give up candy for a treasure hunt that leads them to a gift instead of the traditional candy-filled Easter basket.
  5. If you don't already have a personal or family tradition that includes physical activity, this is the year to start. Go to the park, take a walk, toss around a football or Frisbee with the kids, or get everyone dancing on the gaming system. Get a friendly competition going with friends or family!
Now it's your turn! What do you do to keep the number on the scale from hopping up during the Easter season? Let us know! :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Beat Cravings! Change the Cognitive Distortions of Cravings

Have you noticed that weight management is usually easiest in the beginning? That can be the honeymoon effect: Although making change is challenging, it’s also exciting. It’s when people feel most hopeful and powerful. On top of the honeymoon effect, many people lose weight quickly in the first few months…only to see weight loss slow down, or even plateau. When weight loss slows or stops, it’s easy to feel frustrated with following through on healthy eating, physical activity, getting enough rest, adequate hydration, and managing stress. That frustration can turn into a lapse…and a lapse or two can all-too-easily turn into a relapse.

What can you do to prevent lapses, or keep a lapse from turning into a relapse? For many people, cravings are their downfall. Of course, the occasional craving isn’t much more than an annoyance, a speed bump on the road to weight management success. Cravings aren’t just frustrating, though. A craving can turn into a lapse, which can trigger a relapse.
So, how can you bust cravings? In “Lose Weight” we look at several strategies, including engaging in a nurturing activity, physical activity, and using affirmations. Today we’ll uncover a powerful new tool for your cravings-busting arsenal – the cognitive distortions underneath your cravings.
 Think back to the last time you had a craving. Do you remember what you were thinking as you were craving? Chances are it sounded like one of these cognitive distortions:
  1. The craving is unbearable
  2. The craving is too powerful
  3. This craving will never stop
  4. This craving is making me crazy
When you’re in the throes of a craving, any one of these thoughts may seem true – but, in fact, none of them are. Think back to that craving again. Even as you were thinking the craving was unbearable, you were, in fact, enduring the craving. It wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t unbearable. The same is true for each of the other cognitive distortions. You’ve already been resisting the craving, so it’s not that powerful. The craving may continue for a while, but eventually, it will stop. And while in the moment it does seem as though the craving is making you crazy, it can’t.
So, how can you bust cravings before you give in to them? The next time a craving starts to sing its siren song to you, change its tune! Here’s an example of how you can “answer” each of the cognitive distortions we looked at earlier:
  1. I’ve been successful this long. I can put up with this craving a little longer.
  2. As powerful as this craving is, I’ve been more powerful! I can continue to be powerful a little while longer.
  3. Even though it seems like this craving will never stop, I know that’s not true. Nothing lasts forever – not even the most intense cravings. After all, never is a very long time!
  4. It sure feels like this craving is making me crazy, but I know it actually can’t make me crazy.
When you have the option to nurture yourself, do some physical activity, or deal with the temptation directly (by walking away from temptation, putting away leftovers, giving food away, asking the server to remove it, etc.), I encourage you to do so. Sometimes, though, our thoughts are all that stand between us and giving in to a craving. In those cases, identifying the cognitive distortion behind a craving, and changing it into a positive thought, can give you the power you need to successfully bust the craving.
So, are you ready to put this tool to work? Think back to your last craving again, and come up with at least one or two counter-thoughts. Write them down, and put them where you’ll see them daily. Practice countering your cravings by saying your cravings-busters out loud at least once every day, for two weeks. If you can, post your cravings-busters where you can see them when your cravings are strongest.
Now it’s your turn! What situation or food creates cravings for you? How can you counter your cognitive distortions? Let us know how it goes as you experiment with finding and changing your cravings-related cognitive distortions! J