Sunday, December 9, 2012

Flour-less Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Delights

These delicious little cookies are adapted from a recipe winner from today's LA Times Magazine. To make any recipe your own, just alter it a bit and voila! 
Note: if you eat a gluten free diet you must find gluten free chocolate to work with. Other wise, most chocolate is produced on equipment that has been shared with wheat, dairy and nuts. I don't think these cookies would taste as good without the chocolate, but I am a chocoholic and almost everything tastes good with chocolate! ps..the house smells like a little bit of heaven right now! :)  
Portion Control!!!!!

Preheat Oven to 325 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
Makes 24 Cookies

1 Cup Organic Sugar
Pinch of Kosher Salt
1 Cup Organic, Creamy, Unsalted Peanut Butter
1/3 Cup Egg Whites, shaken or whisked
1Tsp Organic Vanilla Extract
1, 12 ounce Organic 72% Dark Chocolate Bar Cut in Half

Cut up 1/2 of the chocolate bar into small chunks and save the other half to grate over the cookies before baking,

In a large mixing bowl , beat first four ingredients with a wooden spoon until well blended
Add the chocolate chunks and mix
Place by teaspoon on cookie sheet and press down with a fork in a criss-cross pattern
Top with grated chocolate
Bake for 12-14 minutes
cool in pan for 2 minutes and cool completely on racks
After cooled divide up for snacks so you don't go overboard.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cranberry~Tangerine Relish

This recipe is so simple! Make it ahead of time and garnish with fresh Clementine wedges

1, 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries, picked over
1 cup fresh Clementine (mandarin oranges) juice
3/4 cup organic sugar
2 T honey
2-3 fresh Clementine's peeled and segmented

Combine first 4 ingredients and bring to a boil
Cook until the cranberries "pop"-about 10 minutes..maybe more
Place in a decorative serving dish
Garnish with fresh Clementine wedges

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pumpkin~Cranberry Bread Pudding

Just messing around with the ingredients I had on hand and it turned out a winner! Cooking times may vary and don't be worried if the center still looks too moist when it comes out of the oven. It will all be absorbed when cooled~This recipe is higher in fat than I usually call for since it is the "comfort food" time of year and I used 2 eggs and Almond Milk in the batter 2 Tbs Earth Balance in the topping. All of these may be omitted from the recipe, but make sure 2 egg whites are used to replace the whole eggs. The result is a very moist Bread pudding. Also, I used dried Cranberries and the next time I make this I will use fresh ones so they don't end up on the bottom of the dish when baking~
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Grease large casserole dish with 1 tsp coconut oil or butter

1- 1 gallon zip lock bag full of ends of bread that have been frozen (High Fiber Bread)
1 pint egg whites
2 whole eggs
1 quart unsweetened, vanilla almond milk 
1 can(15 oz) organic pumpkin
2 Tbs dried cranberries (or) 1/2 cup fresh 
1 Tbs vanilla
1Tbs ground cinnamon
1 Tsp nutmeg
1 Tbs ground ginger
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs honey
1 cup Organic Old Fashioned Oats
1 Tbs Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tsp Cinnamon 
2 Tbs Butter (Kerrygold)
1 Tbs Honey

Thaw out bread and cut into 1" cubes and place into a large bowl
Lightly Whisk together all of the other ingredients and pour over bread and stir together
Pour into greased casserole dish, cover with foil and put in fridge overnight for the bread to soak up the liquid mixture.
Make the Topping by mixing dry ingredients together , adding the butter and mix with clean hands.
Place topping on top of bread pudding. You may add chopped walnuts at this phase, but it adds fat to the recipe, so be stingy with nuts. Sprinkle honey on top and bake @ 425 for 15-20 minutes until browned. 
Turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake for 1 hour~partially covered with foil. Check at end of cooking to see if topping is still crunchy. If not, turn the heat up to 450 and uncover for 5 minutes.
Serves 16, very small portions or 8-10 medium sized. Be careful...Very high in carbs :)
May be served with a whipped topping or coconut cream...that would make it yummier :)   



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New Day, New Life, Revisited

It has been a little over 7 years since I decided to change my life forever and a little over 6 years since I lost 75 pounds. Looking back, it seemed as if it was a breeze to lose the weight and stay on top of the intense work-outs I gave to myself. I didn't have a personal trainer, however I watched the best ones at my local gym to evaluate them to see what makes them the "best" and researched a variety of training sites on the internet and did it myself. I transformed myself from a frumpy, premenopausal 47 year old in the body of a 54 year old who wore men's baggy clothes to cover up to a Vibrant 48 year old in the body of a ahh,, let's say 35 year old who's wardrobe consisted of high end workout clothes :) I was driven by my goals and supported by my family and friends. I inspired myself to become a Personal Trainer. I studied in our sweltering home office for most of a year and became Certified with The International Sports Sciences Association. I promoted myself and I worked in-home with my clients and even made the September 2008 Success Story for Prevention Magazine. I also made the Personal section in Muscle & Fitness Hers Magazine the same year. I turned 50 and it was fabulous!!!!! I felt better than I had felt all my life. I felt attractive again to my dear husband who loves me through thick and thin, literally!
When I began my journey, I was scared. I was scared to lose weight. I was scared my life would change. I was obese. It was easy being fat. Then I got to the point where I horrified myself by looking into the full length mirror, naked. I always told myself, every time I got to that point of self disgust, that I would diet and exercise and I did and I usually would lose between 20 and 40 pounds and then gain it back every Holiday Season. Back then, Holiday Season began at Halloween and ended after Easter.That is three quarters of a year of Chocolate Season!
Absolutely the hardest part of the weight loss success is maintaining it. How do I stay motivated? Well, I have had some set backs. I think all of us have set back now and again.  It's all part of being human. In May of  2010, I came down with diverticulitis and ended up in the hospital for 2 days. It took the Dr 6 hours to figure out what was wrong with me. At first she thought I had an ectopic pregnancy. The internal ultrasound was brutal at best and the concoction they gave me to drink (contrast) before the cat scan made me sicker than the disease. That was the sickest I had ever been and I was scared that I was dying. Nothing changes your life like lying in a dark hospital room for 2 nights. I though about my family and I thought about all of the friends I had made through my weight loss. I though I might never see them again and I fell into a deep depression. The hospital fed me red jello (idiots) and salty broth and overloaded my IV with vitamins and didn't come I to check me or clean up. What a horrible time of my life. Physically I have never been the same. I feel scar tissue in my lower GI. Since I had a pin hole in my intestine, that's what I figure that aching is. I was given 2, very powerful antibiotics for 10 days and that was also worse than the disease. And I cannot forget to mention the white diet I had to eat since when healing. White Bread, White Rice, yogurt, meat...all stuff I do not usually eat. The meal they sent to me before my release was a Steak Sandwich and apple pie.. For crying out loud all I wanted was tea and toast and maybe a banana! If you do not know about diverticulitis, it is small pockets in your intestine that can collect foods like nuts and seeds and then become infected. It is an "old persons" disease, usually. At the age of 50 everyone should get a colonoscopy. It's a test where they put you out (thank God) and stick a hose up your rear end to see your intestines and removes polyps sometimes. When I had mine done...yet another horrible experience with the same health care provider, I had to find out the results myself and they told me I had diverticulosis and that most people had this and there is nothing you can do about it. I beg to differ. Stay away from Seeds and nuts and do not let yourself get dehydrated or too stressed out. It re-occurred with me a week after my dog died. I was so sad with grief that I forgot about myself and got very dehydrated and it struck me again.
Through this set back, I gained my strength and continued with my fitness, but not at the same pace. I lost my clients at this time too which was not so great, but that is the life of a trainer. I am still my best motivator and when I put my headphones on and have no time restraints, I get lost in my cardio and weight training. I did do a 9 month stint working at the cafe at my gym, which in retrospect was a mistake, but at least I made some tips!
So now, here it is in July and our daughter posts a photo of an adoptable (adorable) puppy. At first I strongly said No! I then slept on it and looked again at his pictures. He was so cute that we took him in. He was found on the streets of downtown LA and my heart broke. Getting him acclimated with our other dog was (is) tough and they still "play" with their teeth showing and it's been such a handful having to watch 24-7...but I wouldn't give it up for a thing, not even fitness! I have managed to work out at home in my tiny little office in a tiny little space with the music on loud and the doggies sleeping on the bed. I have fallen off a little, but every time I get a chance to go to the gym I do and I am greeted by so many of my beautiful friends who make me feel like a million. There is no better feeling than that and that's what keeps me motivated!
I do believe that I have changed my diet forever. I eat 6 small, well balance meals a day coupled with at least 8 glasses of water. I eat chocolate every day and I confess sometimes too much, but then I pull in the reigns on myself. It is a mental thing that no one else can give you. Once it is grasped, don't ever let it go! Life is so much better with self esteem instead of self conscious and it all comes from within, not from some multilevel marketing product or video or surgery. Optimal Fitness is Achieved Through the Infinite Power of your Mind and maybe a few books out there! :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rewarding "Good" Behavior

Ever since we were children, our society beckons us to be "good". As parents, we sometimes label our children this way as our parents did tous. Since we live what we learn this is what most of us do unless we break the chain of judgement..  Each and every one of us has a different definition of  what is good and and what is bad. Linking this to a fitness quest or journey in our life, everyone is very different. For instance, when I was 210 pounds I thought only 2 slices of Pizza instead of my usual 3 or 4 was being good and oh, the Diet Coke was the beverage of choice and at a 6 pack a day, I was being exceptionally good! Now, I just shake my head at how I used to think.
This June is my 11th Anniversary of joining my local gym. 11 years ago I decided wholeheartedly to change my life forever and my definition of good and bad has done a complete 180 degrees in my mind and in my life. Every day I ask myself, "what did I do today that was good for my health and fitness"? Ask this question to yourself. My answer to myself is usually, "I ate a healthy breakfast with a balance of protein and carbs, I drank 8 glasses of water, I worked out, I had a post workout shake, I hugged a few friends, I had a low carb lunch of chicken and veggies, I took an hour nap, Just about to have string cheese and an apple,  I am going to eat a healthy dinner and get some more water in me I am definitely going to skip desert tonight. What do I do to reward this "good" behavior? I look at myself and say thank you :) During my weight loss journey, I never rewarded myself with food or a cheat day. I bought more workout outfits! And nothing, absolutely nothing beats the size 6 jeans that still are a bit baggy on me. When I was a 16+ I was miserable..How could I let myself go that far? I am so happy to have come to my senses and I will continue the good words and advise I have for people like you who read my blog. I am sincere about my concern for others and love to help and inspire those around me...this is what they are telling me..Me, Karen Brennan, Obesity Survivor, an Inspiration to others!! WOW, my greatest reward for weight loss success :)
The first thing I rewarded myself with was new running shoes...The photos above are just some examples of what I did. When going out to dinner, which is a rarity, I order healthy foods, or as healthy as I can get. I am pretty sure that most of the Salmon that is served in restaurants are farm raised which is basically fish swimming in small pools in their own excrement. I am a little (haha) obsessive about what I consume now and I feel so much better than how I used to feel at 210+ and at a size 16+. Needless to say have replaced my food rewards with some material items, but when I became a Certified Fitness Trainer that was my biggest reward of all. I had 4 steady clients for a couple of years and I could help out around here with the finances. I was so proud of myself when I was published in Prevention magazine and also Muscle and Fitness Hers in the same year. I was on a roll!. For over a year now I have been out of the gym. Oh, the gym, that will be another saucy story and it will be a book, indeed! I have some very crazy stories coming out of that place.
I Over-trained for 7 straight years and ruined my hips, so now I stay at home, stretch and meditate and do too much housework and gardening to live a pain free life, but I take one day at a time and try my best to stay positive. I am OK! :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Home-Made Granola

One of my favorite things in life is the smell of baked goods baking and especially on a Sunday Morning. I have come up with a lower fat version of a typical Granola. I omit the oil and add chopped nuts and banana chips for this particular recipe. Changing your lifestyle to portion controlling your food intake is the most successful "Diet Plan" out there. So, be cautious with this recipe because it has a lot of sugar, so it is high in carbs. It is also high in fiber, good fats and when joined with 1 scoop of Protein Powder and some Almond Milk and 1/2 fruit of your choice...It is HEAVEN!
*****Portion size is 1/2 cup*******

5 cups organic rolled old fashioned oats or multi-grain oats
1 cup toasted oat bran
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup chopped banana chips
1 cup sugar in the raw
pinch kosher Salt
1/2 Tsp + cinnamon
1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Stir together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl
Add honey and stir with Plastic Spatula until coated and clumps form (may have to add a little more honey)
Spread on Cookie Sheets and Sprinkle some cinnamon and drizzle some honey on top
Bake for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until browned and toasted
Cool Completely on racks..Optional: Add Dried Fruit such as Cranberries or Blueberries once the granola has cooled
Store in air tight containers