Thursday, June 18, 2015


As many of you know, my sweetheart is from Tonga and he often craves Tongan food, or at least something from some islands.  I have a wonderful Filipino friend, Mildred, who brought Pancit (a dish of rice noodles, veggies, and chicken) to a barbeque once, and my husband almost left me for her (which would have made things awkward, since she's happily married ...)  

A couple of friends have asked for directions on this recipe, which I learned from Mildred.  She very graciously took an afternoon to teach me how to make this wonderful dish.

This picture is not mine (because I didn't get a picture of it before my family ate it all), but it is very similar to when I make it.  I did grab a few pictures while I was cooking, but didn't get the whole process.  I'll do my best to describe it!

You can customize this to suit your tastes; my husband and I prefer more meat and veggies than the above picture, so I use a lot.

I'm not cool enough to make a printable version of this, so you're on your own there.  :P

We're going to start by boiling our meat and creating the stock we'll cook everything else in.  This time, I used chicken leg quarters, because that's what was cheapest.  Bone-in meat gives a better flavor, but the skin adds to the fat content of the dish.  I boiled them with skin on and then removed and deboned the meat.  Boneless skinless thighs are easier and still have a great flavor; I usually prefer eating white meat chicken, but this dish is so much better with dark meat.

In a large stock pot, place your meat and cover with water.  You're going to need 2-3 quarts of stock at the end, so don't be shy about the water.  Add about 1/4 cup of GOOD dark soy sauce and 2 chicken flavored Knorr cubes.  Don't use Kikkoman, it doesn't work in this recipe (we tried it once, blech).  Turn on high and boil until chicken is cooked through.

While chicken is boiling, in an extremely large skillet or electric skillet, put about 2-3 Tbs of vegetable oil and heat over medium heat.  Smash 6-8 garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife, peel the skin, and put them in the oil.  Brown the garlic until slightly caramelized.  

While waiting for the chicken and garlic to cook, we're going to cut up the rest of the veggies.  

We cheat with the carrots; you'll use about half of a pound of shredded carrots.  I sliced up 2 or 3 onions for this.  You can add more if you like, or less if onions aren't your thing.  You need some onion flavor though.  Also roughly chop half a head of green cabbage and 3-4 stalks of celery.

At this point, your chicken should be done.  If it's not quite cooked through, it's OK because we're going to cook it again in a minute.  So pull it out to cool and let the stock cool as well.

When the garlic is starting to caramelize, add just the onion and cook until it starts to brown.

At this point, your chicken should be ready to handle.  Chop it up and add it to the garlic and onions, cooking it long enough to get a little crispy brown.

When the chicken and onions and garlic are brown and delicious, start adding the other veggies, in this order:  Celery, cabbage, and carrots.  Then add about 2 cups of stock (this doesn't need to be measured).

Now, the stock we made should be pretty tasty, but the sweetness in the veggies sometimes reduces that flavor.  After the veggies have cooked for a couple minutes, grab a spoon and taste the stock that is in the skillet.  If it's not salty enough, add a little more of the dark soy sauce, then taste again.  You'll need to taste again after we add the noodles, so keep some clean spoons nearby.

After the veggies have cooked 5-6 minutes and are about done, pull out about half of the contents of the skillet and set aside.  It's time to add the noodles.

This brand was just what the Asian Market had; I buy whatever is cheap.  Take it out of the package and, if yours has string holding it together like mine, take the string off.  Put the noodles into the skillet and add more stock, about 2 cups.  

This is the part I wish I had pictures of -- the noodles soak up that stock and cook in it and, as they do, the "ball" of noodles starts separating.  Help them along with a large spoon.  Taste the stock again and make sure it is salty enough.  Add a little stock at a time (1/4 cup) until all the noodles are separated and cooked.  You don't want them swimming in the liquid, but there does need to be enough so they aren't dry or sticking to the pan.

The noodles are just a long mess, so now we'll grab a pair of kitchen shears and cut them into smaller, more manageable pieces.  Pull them up with a spaghetti fork and start cutting!  You only need to make 10-12 cuts.  Mix the noodles and meat and veggies in the pan as best you can.

Add the reserved veggies and meat to the top, serve, and enjoy!

Pancit ingredients (serves 4-8 depending on hunger)
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 Knorr cubes, chicken flavor
Dark soy sauce
6-8 cloves garlic
2-3 onions
4-6 stalks celery
1/2 head of cabbage
matchstick carrots

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

That Magic Spot

So, when I was working out hard a couple of years ago, I never lost a pound.  I was lifting heavy (could squat 135 pounds, which was amazing for a fat 30-something woman) and was hungry all the time.  So even though I was burning calories like crazy, I was also eating a LOT.

Here's a vulnerable thing:  I have binge eating disorder.  So my previous pattern while working out was eating well for a day or two, and then bingeing (up to 5000 calories in one day) for a day or two, or a week.  It was impossible to make progress with losing weight.  Over the last year, I've been much more aware of what I'm eating because I worked with a health and nutrition coach at the school during fall semester.  So the binges got fewer and farther between, until I really wasn't cyclical bingeing anymore.

That's why, when I decided to start making changes this year, I started with my diet.

I started adding veggies and fruits to get 3-5 servings a day.  This has been made easier with Thrive freeze dried foods, because they don't go bad before I get to them.  (If you need a consultant, let me know, I have an amazing one.)

Then after I had added more fruits and veggies, I started weaning off of Pepsi.  I'm completely and totally addicted to it, and I know soda isn't really all that great for my body.  So I started weaning off of it.  I have about 8-12 ounces every 3 days now, which is much better than 32-64 ounces a DAY.

After I had a better handle on the Pepsi, I started tracking my caloric intake.  I use an app from , where you can plug in your goals and it gives you a daily calorie target, and I started actually measuring foods.  Half a cup of cold cereal is a lot less than most people think.  I haven't worried so much about WHAT I'm eating as much as exactly how much I'm eating.  If I want a cupcake, I'm going to eat a cupcake, as long as I'm staying within my calories and eat plenty of fruits, veggies, and protein.

The first few days were the hardest, and they weren't even that bad.  After I successfully stayed at or just under my calorie target for a week, I started exercising again.  At that point, I double checked my basic metabolic rate with the calorie counter from to make sure I was getting enough but not too many calories.

The last few days have been rough on an emotional level for me.  I've wanted to binge, but I haven't.  And I'm so proud of myself for that.  I skipped yesterday's workout but did it today, and will count yesterday as my rest day.

I am not working out so much that I am STARVING all the time, and I'm still able to stay within my calorie range.  It's what I'm calling that magic spot, because I'm getting stronger, my muscles are getting more defined, the fat is melting off of me, and I feel satisfied and full.  It really is like Magic.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Not to jinx myself or anything ...

I'm working out again and rather enjoying it.

It started a few weeks ago, when the teen and I went to an event where we had to climb about 95 flights of stairs without stopping (OK, it was more like ... 4 very tall flights).  We got to the top, sat down for a short presentation, and I ... well, the thought that flashed through my mind was, "Great.  I'm going to pass out.  The only nurse in the room, and I'm going to pass out."

I was having a hard time catching my breath.  My breathing was so labored and noisy that I couldn't even hear the speaker.

About the time I caught my breath, it was time to go down all those stairs again.  Going down was much easier, but I was still a bit short of breath at the bottom.

I knew I was out of shape.  It did not hit me until that day just how not in shape I was.  Even though I'd worked with an awesome health coach over the course of last fall semester, and even though I knew it was hard keeping up with some of my nurses, and even though I'm in the biggest size I've ever worn in my life.  I didn't realize how bad off I was.

I started by trying to eat less.  I'm not sure if it worked, because I wasn't keeping track.  But I was much more aware of what I was putting into my mouth.

At swimming lessons with my kids the last two weeks, I've been in the pool with the toddler for half an hour a day, helping him swim.  I remembered how much I love swimming, and if someone at the pool is going to judge me for being fat and wearing a bathing suit, they can go to hell.  I LOVE swimming and my kids love it and we get to have fun together, regardless of what other people might think of my body!

The same two weeks, I discovered some free kettlebell workouts that I love, and did them 5 or 6 times over the course of those same two weeks.  I've gone walking instead of bingeing when my emotions are out of control.  And I started tracking my calories with an app on my phone.

All of this started one step at a time.

I've tracked calories here and there, and I've worked out HARD for quite a while, and I've gone walking and played with my kids and ... something is different this time.  Something inside me said, "No more!  You ARE taking care of you, or you won't be around much longer!"

Those kettlebell workouts on Youtube are done by the couple behind Fitness Blender.  So I signed up for their free website and free smart phone app, and got started this week with an 8-week fat loss program.  I'm surprised I can type today because I did a brutal upper body workout this morning!  I'm looking forward to tomorrow's workout, and the day after that and the day after that ... because you know what?  I deserve to feel good about myself and feel good physically!

As of yesterday, I am 15 pounds below my highest weight (pregnant or not, it was the same).  I still have a long road ahead, but I'm on my way.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Shame, Shame, Shame

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed today and came across a post from a friend who linked a recipe to a dessert.  Two friends commented it looked good.  The third?  "Fattening ladies ..." with a passive-aggressive smiley face.

Sorrynotsorry, that triggered something in me.

So I replied.

"Eat a cookie. It won't kill you. Or make you fat. Eating more calories than you burn is what is fattening. Sure, there are more nutrient dense foods to eat, but uh ... it is possible to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight and be fit and still have the damn cookie."

Because I'm at a point in my life where I just have to say:  STOP THE SHAMING.  Who gives a rat's ass if someone else decides to eat a cookie?  Really?  If you have that much time to worry about other people's food choices, you have far bigger issues with your life.

Food shaming, fat shaming, behavior shaming, parents shaming other parents, parents shaming their children ... it all really amounts to the same thing: It is all bullying. And it needs to stop.  Now.