Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Me and My Pedometer - A Love Story

I am not ashamed to say it - I love my pedometer. While trying to figure out some way to be accountable for my eating and exercise habits I stumbled across articles about walking for fitness on Prevention Magazine's website. It seemed too good to be true. . . get a pedometer, walk 10,000 steps a day and lose weight. That's it? Wow - sign me up!

I had just been diagnosed with high blood pressure was put on medication. My doctor told me that if I exercised regularly, changed my eating habits, and lost some weight that there was a chance I could reverse the problem. I hated the blood pressure meds. They made me jumpy, gave me frequent panic attacks and if there was a chance that I could get off the stuff - I was going to try everything in my power to do it.

I bought a cheapie pedometer and I was off and walking. It didn't take long to figure out that my pedometer wasn't even close to being accurate. It would log over 100 steps just for using the restroom so I knew it wasn't a good indicator of my accomplishments. I was supposedly walking about 14,000 steps a day and it seemed to easy. I "googled" the name of my pedometer and found out that it was, well, crap. After some research I bought my Omron from It was highly rated by Consumer Reports and by Amazon's customers. Perfect!

The first day with my new pedometer was on a weekend and did my usual housekeeping and laundry routines so I could see how many steps I took in an average day at home. I barely clocked in with about 2,500 steps. That was a real eye opener. My standard day at work ended up being about double that number but no where near that 10,000 I should have been doing.

It took me about 2 weeks to work up to 10,000 steps a day. It was harder than I thought. I started at work by walking around my office complex during breaks and my lunch hour. The Omron pedometer has an aerobic function, so any brisk walking done for more than 10 minutes registers as aerobic walking.

I found that by going to work early and staying a few minutes late I could not only get all my steps in but I could do five-10 minute periods of aerobic walking per day in the air conditioned call center. Climate is a big consideration during the summer here in Arizona. Walking in 120 degree weather on hot asphalt is not my idea of fun.

My coworkers were very supportive and a few jumped on the bandwagon and also started walking. I kept a record of my progress with my weight and the total number of steps I took per day. Keeping a chart made my accountable for my progress. My goal was to walk the required steps on five out of seven days a week.

Walking at work was great but I still had to figure out what to do at home in my tiny house. Life in a 900 square foot home with a 6'6" husband and several pets underfoot is a challenge. Trying to walk 10,000 steps a day in such a small house was darn near impossible, or so I thought. All it really takes is some creativity and incorporating your walking into your regular routines.

Laundry, cleaning and shopping are 3 ways I added to my daily step count. When I do laundry I fold the clothes right out if the dryer and walk them back to the bedroom one item at a time. The same thing with the groceries - each item gets carried in a separate trip to the pantry. Time consuming? Sure! But what would I really be doing with that extra time? Probably sitting down in front of the TV. When the weather is nice I do a few laps around the block.

It was early March 2008 that I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and put on medication. In late April 2008 I was taken off the meds by my doctor and my blood pressure has been fine ever since. I get it checked every 4-6 weeks. My doctor said she'd never seen anyone as determined to get off that medication as I was. It took me seven weeks to do it.

Am I still fat? Absolutely - I started my journey towards fitness and weight loss at nearly 300 pounds in November 2007 and I still have a long way to go. But am I in better shape than I was a year ago? Yes! And I still wear my pedometer everyday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mini Pizza Dinner

Top photo (l to r) Three cheese veggie pizza, Carmelized Balsamic Onion and Ranch Pizza, Veggie Cheddar Pizza.
Bottom Photo (l to r) Rosemary Chicken and Ranch Pizza, BBQ Chicken Pizza.

For standard pizza dough recipe and tips on making grilled pizza - click here.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast

Mix and let stand until it foams - 8-10 minutes

2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Mix in a large bowl with the yeast mixture until dough comes together, then transfer to a board or counter and knead until smooth. Let rise in an oiled bowl (covered loosely) until the dough doubles in size, about an hour.

Divide dough into in half for 2 pizzas or keep dividing to make mini pizzas. You can let the dough rise again at this point or you can make your pizzas if you're in a hurry. Roll out to desired size and add toppings of your choice. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes for the large pizzas or about 10 minutes for mini pizzas.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

PC Potato Salad

Pressure cookers make easy work of potato salad, especially with red potatoes since you're not peeling them. The addition of the Penzeys Shallot Salt and Pepper gives the salad a consistent onion-y taste, even if you're planning to enjoy the salad over a few days. (I hate the taste of day old onions in pasta and tuna salad, etc)

PC Potato Cabbage Salad

5 lbs red potatoes, quartered (halved if very small)
5 Tbs dill pickle juice
2 tsp yellow mustard
2 tsp brown mustard
1 tsp Penzeys Shallot Pepper
1 tsp Penzeys Shallot Salt
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups chopped green cabbage
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery

Place potatoes pressure cooker with recommended amount of water for steaming (consult your owner's manual) Bring to high pressure and cook for 5 minutes, then use quick release method.

Drain potatoes thoroughly, place in a large bowl and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Pour dill pickle juice over potatoes and toss gently. Let cool for about 15 more minutes.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and toss with the potatoes. Chill and toss again just before serving.

Friday, April 03, 2009

More Lemon Recipes

The windy weather has kept my friend Ahmed busy picking up lemons in his yard. I am lucky enough be a frequent recipient of this leftovers. Time to get busy in the kitchen!


8-10 lemons 1 1/2-2 cups of lemon juice
1 cup sugar (or to taste)
2 qts water

Juice the lemons and combine all in a tall pitcher. Serve over ice.

Strawberry Lemonade

Lemon Bars

2 sticks butter
2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioners sugar plus 1 tbsp for dusting on top
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
4 tbsp flour
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp grated lemon peel

Heat oven to 325°. Blend butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar. Pat into ungreased 13x9x2-inch pan lined with parchment paper for easy removal. Bake for 15-20 minutes. For filling, blend together eggs, sugar, 4 tbsp flour, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Pour over first layer. Return to oven and bake at 325° for 20 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes then sift confectioners' sugar over the top just prior to serving.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Yorkshire Pudding

My favorite Yorkshire Pudding recipe, adapted from the recipe in "Tea and Sympathy" by Anita Naughton.

Yorkshire Pudding
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 cups milk
roast beef pan drippings

*** Things to remember - You may need to reposition your oven rack to accomodate the rising of the popovers. Do not open the oven during while baking - this may cause the popovers to fall.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Whisk in the eggs and milk until the batter has the consistency of pancake batter. Cover and let rest for 1 hour.

Put about 1 tsp of roast beef drippings in each well of a large non-stick popover pan. Place pan in the oven until you can hear the drippings make popping and crackling sounds.
Remove from oven and fill each well with batter about 3/4 full.

Bake about 30 minutes or until well risen.

Serve hot.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Easy Apricot Barbecue Chicken

Chicken leg quarters are usually a bargain at Midwestern Meats so I pick some up nearly every week. They're so versatile. This week I made Apricot Barbecue Chicken.

Easy Apricot Barbecue Chicken
4-6 chicken leg quarters
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Mrs. Dash Onion and Herb
3/4 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup prepared barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with Mrs. Dash Onion and Herb Seasoning. Bake in a shallow baking dish at 350 for 40 minutes.

Heat apricot preserves in the microwave for a few seconds and blend with the barbecue sauce. If the mixture doesn't blend easily you can microwave for a few more seconds to thin the preserves.

Spread about half the sauce mixture on the chicken and return to the oven for 10 minutes, remove and coat chicken with the remaining sauce and return to the oven for 10 more minutes.

Serve over rice.