Pineapple Corn Chicken Curry

My cute cousin Laura (who is also the best babysitter and Olivia just loves her!) was telling me about this curry dish and I said you have to get me the recipe! She laughed and said there really wasn’t a recipe but told me how to make it. I made it the other night and it was really tasty, we all loved it. Even Olivia ate a few bites. It is super simple and if you put the rice on to cook before you start the rest of it you can have this meal on the table in 30 minutes. Now those are my favorite types of recipes.

Pineapple Corn Chicken Curry

2 chicken breasts
1 T red curry powder
1 can crush pineapple (undrained)
1 can corn (drained)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooked Rice

Dice up chicken into bite sized pieces. Place in skillet and add salt and pepper and curry powder. Stir it around and cook chicken. Once chicken is cooked add in the crushed pineapple and corn. Heat through and serve on top of rice.

If you aren’t sure about curry you can add less and taste it when it’s done and see if it needs more. It is all done to taste so add as much or as little as you like!

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This recipe reheats well. It was dinner for Rob and I one night and then he had another two lunches out of the leftovers and thought it still tasted great.

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Culinary Arts And My Food Addiction

I started cooking at a very young age. My mom had us helping plan the weekly menu and helping with dinner from when we were pretty young. Oh and just in case you were wondering, whenever I was asked for my input for the menu my top choice was bean burritos. Just refried beans and cheese in a tortilla. It was my fave and yes I still love that simple food item today.

But back to me cooking. When I was 10 years old and my sisters were 8 and 3, my mom was put on bed rest for many many months while she was pregnant with my youngest sister. I don’t remember if I cooked meals completely on my own or exactly what the circumstances were but I remember I had a big part in getting dinner ready.

My specialty for many many many years that I would make on Friday nights while babysitting while my parents went out was chicken nuggets and french fries. I don’t know how we didn’t get sick of them and we all still love them. Chicken nuggets and french fries and we would eat on a blanket in the backroom and watch TGIF on TV. Full House, Family Matters, Step by Step, all those good shows. So my cooking was simple but I was doing it from a young age.

When I was up at Ricks and was trying to figure out what I was going to do after that I decided well I like to cook so why not do culinary arts school? Boise State had a program and that was only 30 minutes from home so I could save some money by moving back home. It is (was, apparently they don’t offer the program anymore) a small program and they only accepted 20 applicants. I applied and crossed my fingers and was excited when I got accepted!

That first day was a little overwhelming just with the lists of clothing and tools we would need. I had to buy knives and garnishing kits and the whole chefs uniform and aprons and neck handkerchiefs and bakers hat and thermometers and notebooks and huge texts books…culinary school isn’t cheap! I don’t think a single picture was ever taken of me in my uniform. It’s sad that I can’t show you how amazing I looked in my white chefs coat, black and white hounds tooth pants, hard black shoes, white apron, handkerchief around my neck and a tall chefs hat. I felt like a pirate chef…not sure why, I think it was the shoes, but I always felt part pirate. Just needed an eye patch. But let’s be honest, I was unhappy with my size and the way I looked. I didn’t like seeing myself in pictures so I probably never allowed a picture to be taken.

Culinary school was like heaven for me. Well the eating food part was heaven, the rest was a lot of really hard work. We started at 7:30 in the morning and had class and then were on our feet for hours getting food ready. During the semester we rotated through positions. You were either in the kitchen being a line cook, running the cafe, a waitress in the restaurant or in the bakery. We had one week of class before they just threw us in making food for people. I had always thought it would be fun to be a chef and have my own restaurant but this cured me of that! I was immediately put in the kitchen as a line cook. Usually you didn’t do that until second semester but there weren’t enough people in that group and apparently I had impressed someone with my mad knife skills or something, even though I was the first casualty while doing a tourne on a potato. I wasn’t used to such super sharp good knives! But they aren’t lying when they say sharp knives don’t hurt when they cut you! But it was stressful, I was brand new and had to time things perfectly and maneuver around all the other line cooks and it was just stressful.

 

Just in case you are wondering, this is a tourne cut. It’s a seven sided football shape. It’s really tricky to do, you have to cut towards yourself. But apparently it is super fancy and looks nice when a dish is plated. So there you go…back to my story…

 

 

Back to the being in heaven part. We were required to make food all day long, till 4:30 or later every day. We had to taste all of the food we made, obviously, but we also had to taste everyone else’s food. So we were eating all day long. When you were the Garde Manger you were safe because you were making all the salads. But when you were the Boulanger or in the bakery you were in trouble because you were making bread and desserts all day every day for 4 weeks straight and had to tasted everything that was being made. The tasting part was fun, the fact that EVERY SINGLE PERSON gained weight during that time was not so fun. So me, I was overweight before I started and just gained more and more and more.

School was hard, it was stressful, tons of hard work and hours on my feet. I was living at home, didn’t have friends, didn’t know what to do with my life, was just unhappy and school gave me the perfect venue to eat my feelings away. I was good at what I did, impressed a lot of chefs and was asked to help with a huge 12 course dinner the graduating students put on one night. But none of that fixed my unhappiness and tamed my emotional eating and I just kept gaining weight.

It took me many many years but I was finally able to take all that I had learned and put it to good use. I didn’t end up doing anything professionally with my schooling (which made it a really expensive hobby) but I learned the skills to be able to pretty much do anything when it comes to food. If it wasn’t something I actually made or learned about in school I have the knowledge to be able to figure it out pretty easily. Somewhere along the way since 2000 I realized how good good food tastes. I started figuring out ways to take the foods I love and make them a little healthier. I learned to love all sorts of vegetables that I didn’t like before. I learned that I can be happy with just a couple of bites. I learned that unhealthy foods are ok at times, just not ALL THE TIME. Culinary school initially was probably the worst thing I could have done for myself but over the years I have been able to transform it into something that has truly benefited my life, is benefiting my family and hopefully I can benefit others because of it as well.

So when you see me putting recipes up on here it’s because I know food. I have eaten SO much food. I am always baking, cooking and experimenting with food. I want to share what I know, what I have learned and show the world that you can eat what you want and still be healthy. You can learn to love vegetables. You can make dishes with nothing unhealthy in them and they will taste amazing. You can still love food and enjoy food and have the healthy life that you want. It’s possible. I am living proof. I did it the hard way for all of you and hopefully that will prevent you from having to learn it the hard way too.

Healthy Tips…Are You Ready?

I periodically want to throw some healthy tips your way. The little, random, sometimes silly things that I do that have helped me along the way. You can laugh at me, take it with a grain of salt, but maybe try some of these tips out. They work for me and I know they could work for you too! But don’t get too excited, I am not going to put them all in one post…I have to give you some reason to come back here! But little by little I will let you in on even more of my secrets.

So here is my first tip for you. Brush. Your. Teeth.

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Go ahead, laugh, I know it is silly and I know that you already know you should be brushing your teeth. But brushing my teeth was one of the big things that helped me to lose weight. I hate having to brush my teeth more than I need to. I am anal and meticulous and am scared of the dentist so I always do a thorough job brushing. But I learned that if I brushed my teeth right after I ate dinner (and a treat) then I quit eating for the night. If a roomie made cookies, I didn’t eat them. If a friend called and wanted to go get ice cream, I didn’t go. If someone had a big huge bowl of buttery popcorn or a big bag of chips, didn’t touch it. Now it wasn’t easy, I really really really had to talk myself out of it a lot of times, but it got easier. Once I was satisfied from dinner and a little treat I headed straight to the bathroom to brush my teeth. It honestly works. Before I would just keep eating and snacking because I was bored or watching something or was with people, but that all stopped. Even now, Rob and I will be watching something and I will be done and make him pause whatever we are watching so that I can brush my teeth. Silly yes, but it works. I am living proof.

Some times it’s the small things people. Just remember that. Not everything has to be huge and life shattering. Some times it is the little, tiny, simple things that make the biggest difference.

The Hardest Part

I am often asked what the hardest part of my journey was or should I say is. I am still on this journey and it will be a lifelong one. Now my journey is just maintaining, figure out how to live my new life as a stay at home mom where there are days that I don’t have time to take care of myself. But that is ok and how it should be, I waited a long long time for this little baby girl and am happy to forget about myself and put her first. As hard as it is at times I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But up until the point when I finally lost all 95 pounds, the hardest thing was sticking with it. Sorry if you were hoping for something big and life shattering but that was it. Sticking with it. It’s what every person, diet, article, anything you read on losing weight and getting healthy, sticking with it will be what they tell you the hardest part was.

I had an awesome roommate at Ricks who was on the volleyball team. She often got me to go ride the exercise bike with her in the morning and when I kept that up I felt better. But then life happened or probably the snow happened and we didn’t get up in the mornings to go anymore. I also took a weight lifting class with some friends and saw some great results that block that I had the class but then that all went away after the class was over. I didn’t keep it up.

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When I first moved to Provo I lived pretty much across the street from a Gold’s Gym. Don’t get me started on that type of gym and my loathing of them. But I told myself I had to get up every morning or go every evening and work out. Some weeks I was perfect at it and other weeks I really struggled. It was too easy to turn off my alarm in the morning and sleep a little more. It was too easy to not have the energy for it after a long day of nanny-ing. Or to talk myself out of it because there was something more fun going on than spending time in a sweaty stinky gym.

I had an awesome  group of guy friends and one summer we went and played basketball or volleyball pretty much every single night and ultimate frisbee on Saturdays. It was great and I felt a little healthier. But then fall came and everyone was back in school and that meant no more sports at night.

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Back to the gym…I would go there with every intention to get some cardio in on the elliptical or treadmill or stair climber, then go do some weights afterwards. It was a great plan. But then I would start doing cardio and I would be bored out of my mind. That 20 or 30 minutes felt like an eternity! I often got off before the time was up and went home. Still better than nothing but not good enough for me. I couldn’t stick with it.

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I have an amazing aunt who has me by 30 years and is in WAY better shape than I am. Seriously, she is amazing and bikes like a mad woman. She bikes and does spin classes and I don’t remember exactly what the conversations were but in 2007 when I was home after graduating from UVSC and trying to figure out what in the world I wanted to do with my life, my mom and sister and I started going to the YMCA to spin classes. Those classes were hard and my rear was so sore but after a couple weeks that pain went away and I loved them! I was only working part time that summer and I had been through some really hard situations and honestly I was depressed. Life wasn’t turning out how I had thought. So that summer spin classes became my drug. I will tell you all about why you should be going to spin classes some other time but the point is that I loved them and I stuck with them. I went most days. I even got up super early some days and went. I missed the feeling I was having after a great workout on those days when I didn’t or couldn’t go.

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I moved back to Utah at the end of the summer and was living in Orem so I got a membership at the Orem Rec. Those of you who have been there know it is the most ghetto gym but I loved it. They had spin classes and I kept going. I stuck with it. Now don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t perfect at going every single day but I was pretty good. I was finally really seeing the results I had wanted and needed for SO long that it motivated me to keep going.

So believe me, I know how you feel. I know how hard it is to make yourself get up off the couch and do something active. But I discovered the secret and that secret is to find something you love! That thing may evolve and change over time and that is ok. But try a lot of different things out whether it’s yoga or a spin class or jump rope or swimming or long walks outside. Just find something you love and that will help you to stick with it. It works, I promise. Just look at me, I am living proof of that. And I am willing to be your biggest cheerleader to help you find what you love and to stick with it. It will still take some time and it will still be hard but loving what you do makes all the difference!

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Comparison

So the other night I was having a conversation with a good friend. She was telling me how much she was enjoying my blog. That floored me first of all, like I have said and will keep saying, I did this for myself and figured no one would read it. But I am SO happy people are reading and that is making them think, making them feel. And I hope all of that will continue and that if something touches you that you will share it with someone. We are all fighting the same battles just in different ways and that allows us to help each other. I finally started blogging because I felt very strongly that something I might say, something I have been through, something I have learned might help someone else.

This good friend said that she thinks I am saying things that a lot of people feel. She said, “and that’s why I love your blog… because if you just looked at you… you’d think you had it made… but it’s a daily struggle at times to be yourself”. (Honestly, it’s a daily struggle most of the time.)

What she said really struck a chord with me. We walk around daily being the only person that knows what is going on in our head. What we are struggling with. All of those things that we hide from the world and no one else sees. Sometimes we are dying in side needing help but we don’t want to ask for it. Yet we compare ourselves to the version of our friend, our neighbor, our family member that we do see. We think it isn’t fair that they have it made, have no struggles, aren’t fighting any battles, don’t have issues, that they don’t need help. Why do we have to deal with all that we do and they have the “perfect life”. But that is 100% NOT true. Inside they are battling their own demons, fighting their own fights, needing help. No one is exempt from this.

I was a pro at comparing myself with every single person on the planet. Why am I the size I am and she gets to be skinny? I wish I had her hair. Why does she get to go on all the dates while I sit at home? I wish my arms were toned like hers. I wish I had her skin. I wish, I wish, I wish…I still compare but try hard to tell myself to stop it and appreciate the things about me that are different from others. This planet would be so boring if we were all the same! Our strengths and weaknesses complement each other, we have those differences so that we need each other. So that we seek relationships with people that will benefit both of us. We were all made different and individual for a reason.

It has taken me a long time to figure this out. And I still struggle with remembering this but am constantly reminding myself and trying to be better about it. People, STOP COMPARING!!! It’s too bad we can’t just all try our hardest to be kind to ourselves. To lift up others the best we can and to just be happy and celebrate our differences, our strengths and weaknesses. That is part of what makes life so great.

My Childhood

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out when my food issues started. If it was a person or a situation that started me off down the path of over-eating but for the life of me I just can’t figure it out. Oh believe me I have tried, but nothing.

I have two amazing and loving parents and three great younger sisters. (It was just weird to type “younger sisters”. Two of them are taller than me and all four of us are great friends and get along so well, I forget sometimes we range in ages over a span of ten years.) We had a great home growing up, lots of great experiences, we had what we needed and never went without food. We were really blessed. We didn’t eat out much and my mom was a great cook and cooked for us most nights, like I said, I was really blessed.

But I do have some memories of food from my childhood, some that make me feel a little embarrassed to share. I remember sneaking into the fridge and eating leftover macaroni and cheese from the container cold. Yes you read that right, COLD. Ewww, that lovely blue box isn’t my favorite now even when it is warm but cold? What was I thinking?!? I also remember we had tan Tupperware cups from my mom’s glory days of selling Tupperware. They were skinnier and taller and I would fill them up with cereal and milk and sneak them to my room to eat. I also knew where my mom hid the candy, it was in her closet on the right side underneath the clothes that were hanging, just sitting back under there on the floor. I don’t remember how many times I got caught because my mom would notice candy was missing, but that didn’t stop me. I kept on sneaking it. Laffy Taffy, I loved when she bought the big container of those from Costco. Remember when they used to be big squares? Not the skinny rectangles they are now, still good but they used to be so much better!

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I have memories that still break my heart a little bit, even after all these years. Not really because they still hurt me but I still remember all too well the girl that was hurt. Memories such as sixth grade where I was taller and bigger than everyone by a long shot. A group of girls who I thought were my friends came over to me on recess, by the big tires, and told me they couldn’t be my friends anymore because I was too “tall”. That hurt. And I remember basketball games where we would be doing our warm up and boys from the opposing school that were on the front couple of rows near us, I would hear them talking about me and my size and my uniform. That hurt. I wish I could go back and tell that girl that it would be ok. That what they said or thought didn’t matter in the long run. That one day she would figure it all out and she would be happy and content with who she is. I would wipe those tears away and just hug her. Those situations weren’t what caused my over eating, I had been doing it long before then, but they definitely didn’t help the situation.

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My family was active. We played outside all the time, rode bikes, roller skated. My parents took us to the park and we would throw around our green and black Nerf football or shoot hoops with my dad. I was a clogger for a couple of years and had practice for that at least once a week. When I was in 6th grade I started playing basketball and in Junior High started playing volleyball. From my memory I enjoyed being active, it wasn’t something forced upon me. I just can’t figure it out.

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I don’t know if this blog is the answer to helping me figure that out and then maybe this journey, this healing process, will have a little bit that is complete? I know it is a never ending journey but maybe I can find some answers. Only time will tell…

 

 

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

I went a  little crazy the other day at Sprouts. They were having an amazing sale on strawberries and I walked away with 10 pounds for $10. Yes 10 pounds and yes it is just Rob, Olivia and I in our house. I have been eating fresh berries like there is no tomorrow but don’t want to let any of them go to waste so had to find some other things to do with them. Rob and I made a couple of batches of strawberry and strawberry blackberry freezer jam. SO good on homemade wheat bread that was toasted. And after I put Olivia to bed tonight I still had 5 pounds of berries staring me in the face when I looked into the fridge. So I hopped online and came across this recipe for fresh strawberry muffins from Yammies Noshery. I have tried a handful of her recipes and liked them so thought why not, they sounded like a good after dinner treat. I made some adjustments to her recipe, switched up some ingredients and some amounts and loved how they turned out. Soft and tender and oh so fluffy, little bursts of strawberry and just the right amount of sweetness. Take advantage of strawberry season and try these out. They came together quickly and were delicious while still warm!

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Fresh Strawberry Muffins

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted and cooled to room temp)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt*
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup strawberries, diced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl combine sugar, coconut oil, egg, vanilla, milk and yogurt. Use a whisk and mix until combined. Add in flour, baking powder, salt and strawberries. Gently fold the wet and dry ingredients together just until they are combined. Don’t over mix.

Grease muffin tin or use cupcake liners. Fill each cavity about 3/4 full. I used a regular muffin tin and got 9 muffins. Put into oven and drop temperature to 350 degrees. Putting muffins into a hot oven and then dropping the temp allows the dome to form and you get a nice muffin top, also filling the cavities 3/4 to completely full helps you have a better muffin top. And let’s be honest, the top is the best part!

Bake until tops are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Insert toothpick in the top and when it comes out clean they are done. Transfer to cooling rack so that the bottoms don’t get soggy. I am sure they will be delicious tomorrow for breakfast but make sure you enjoy one hot out of the oven!

*Any type of yogurt will do, regular, lite, Greek, anything. The original recipe called for vanilla I think but I was too lazy to haul my baby to the store to buy some and just used what I had in the fridge, strawberry cheesecake. It worked great. I bet lemon would add delicious flavor and vanilla or plain will work great too.