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Bridget S. Smith

Radio Personality. Nonprofit Leader. College Instructor. Author.

Lunch it, Punch it Program

I love dining out.  Love it.  I should be more specific- I love dining out at locally owned restaurants.  I recently started a desk job that has me doing little activity during the day.  Add to that our location- just outside of Detroit’s Mexicantown in Deaborn.  Within 5 minutes we have amazing Mexican AND Middle-Eastern Food.  Its fresh.  Its sometimes healthy.  But it can be expensive. We also have an amazing Italian Restaurant that has such good bread, the office has dubbed it ‘crack bread’ because its impossible to eat just one piece.

I stumbled on this through Michigan’s healthy lifestyle initiative, a Healthier Michigan.  They have tips for creating a brown-bag lunch habit.

You can read the full article here.

The lunch it, punch it program is pretty simple- printable punch cards.  Think of it like a loyalty card.  After 10 punches, then you get lunch out.

lunch it punch it

Here’s a link to a PDF version: http://lunchitpunchit.com/LIPIcards.pdf

Here’s more on the program: http://lunchitpunchit.com/cards/

Finally, a weight loss challenge I might be able to follow!

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A blog and video for anyone who has struggled with weight loss

Its funny in a lot of ways just how many things I was told about my thirties have come true.

I do have a much stronger sense of self and understanding of my self identity.

My maternal instincts, absent for the duration of my twenties, have kicked in.  Children still terrify me, but for the first time I can see myself having them- in a few years.

I’ve learned the best financial practices and like most of my generation, regret some of the decisions I made in my twenties.

Finally- I’ve gained a better understanding of my weight problems and struggles to lose weight.  I started dieting later than most girls- around fifteen.  I was a cheerleader, and looking at those photos now, I would do almost anything to look like that again.  I was a size 12 but I was very active.  I rode my bike for miles every day in the summer.  I worked out with the cheerleaders.  I wasn’t a star athlete by any means- but I was healthy.

But then one day a mean boy that I had liked said to me, “Ever heard of slimfast?”.  And that was it.  I started dieting on and off for the next 17 years.  At one point poor habits combined with a morning drive radio job had my weight all the way up to 250 pounds.  That was combined with every diet known to man.  I did weight watchers but lived off their pre-packaged meals.  I actually gained weight- probably because all of the carbohydrates.  I did medical weight loss- and lost a lot of weight- only to gain it back again.

The only solution that seemed to work for me was rather simple in concept- watch what you eat, and exercise.  If I went out to lunch, I’d eat a salad for dinner.  If I knew I was going out the bar after work- I’d make sure I was light on the calories during the day.  I worked out almost every day.  When I moved on campus at school, I worked out after my air shift- because there was a gym on the ground floor.  When I took on my promotions job- that meant long hours I went to the gym on my lunch.

Then life happened.  I’ve struggled with the same 20 pounds for the last seven years now.  I go up- I go down.  Last year- convinced I needed to get thinner than I’ve ever been in my adult life I got help from my doctor.  This wonder drug- combined with diet and exercise, helped me lose nearly 30 pounds.  I did weight watchers, and found myself obsessed with food- and trying to control it.  And then I sprained my knee.  Then I stopped the pill.  Then after months of restriction from my doctor, I gave up working out.  Then I took in a foreign exchange student who’s favorite meal is pizza and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  It started out as little indulgences here and there. It was no big deal- because after-all I was going to  start a diet the next week.  Then I started a new job and was trying to balance working 4 part-time jobs on top of caring for an exchange student.  When I wasn’t at work or taking care of the house, I was grading papers.

Well I started a diet.  Its not so bad.  Its healthy- clean eating with calorie restrictions.  But I cheated already.  Let me tell you I’m not even the slightest bit upset that I did either.  I was hungry for something beyond veggies- and it made me full quickly.  Then, I had a salad for dinner.

I think this video makes a lot of sense.  They say that successful weight loss is centered around a balanced lifestyle.  Certainly my indulgences since our exchange student moved in are not part of a balanced lifestyle.  But, restricting myself only makes me want things more.  In fact, I read an article about a woman who successfully lost weight- but was miserable.  She obsessed over food.  She was happy heavier.

I’m not happy at my current weight- and that’s my own feeling.  But I was happy 20 pounds lighter- still in the obese category.  I think life, in general, is all about balance.  So as I transition back to exercising- at home for now, and eating healthy- thanks to the meal plans that are sent to me, I need to stop obsessing over the pounds and focus more on being mindful as the video suggests.  I read that the magic percent is 80.  80 percent of your intake should be healthy.  That leaves 20 percent of your meals, or 2 per week, for “cheating”, within reason.  This “cheating” is 2 meals, not two days.  (Many of us eat healthy all week, and fall apart on the weekends.)  I’m focusing on being mindful and bringing balance back to my life.  I think this video makes some really great points.  Anyone who’s ever struggled with their weight should watch it.

Sandra Aamodt: Why dieting doesn’t usually work

 

 

Two Clean Eating Life Hacks- Vegetarian Friendly

There’s nothing quite like a new year to kick your butt back into a healthy lifestyle.  Or try to anyway.

To my surprise I found two clean-eating life hacks- in one day:

  1. Steel Cut Oatmeal is WAY better than packaged.
  2. Adding Greek Yogurt to a broth based soup makes it creamy like the unhealthy version- without the fat and calories. 

I’ve seen all of those “refrigerator” oatmeal recipes on Pinterest.  They are loaded with all sorts of goodies.  I wanted to dial it back.

I used steel cut oats that I purchased from a bulk foods store.  (Metro Detroiters- Bulk Food Warehouse is in Dearborn; 23151 Michigan Ave).  I find that the bulk food store has a ton of clean eating basics- including my brown rice, couscous, whole-wheat pastry flour, rice flour, and just about everything else.  Most of the items are cheaper than you can find in local stores too.

My attempt at overnight oatmeal was a success- and easy too.

steel cut oats

Simple Overnight Oatmeal

Prep Time: 1 minute

Cook Time: 2-3 minutes

*1/3 cup steel cut oats

*1/2 cup plain unsweetened Almond Milk

*1/8th teaspoon vanilla extract

*light drizzle of honey

Combine ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Place in fridge.  When you wake up in the morning pop in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.  AMAZING- Better than anything I’ve ever had from a package.  You can dress it up with fresh or dried fruit or nuts. Want more flavor?  Add some cinnamon and nutmeg.

 

 

broccoli

Broccoli Cheese soup is amazing- but not healthy.  Most home-made soups use Velveeta cheese, which is anything but clean and is packed with sodium.

This is my lighter version.

Simple, Light, Broccoli Soup.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

*2 Crowns Broccoli- chopped small

*1 Shallot Chopped Small

*1 tablespoon butter or olive oil

*3 Cups Water

*2 Tablespoons Vegetarian Better Than Bouillon Chicken (Alright- not clean, but I cheat sometimes)

better than bullion

*1/2 cup cheddar cheese

*4 tablespoons nonfat Greek Yogurt

Heat a stock pot on the stove.  Add olive oil or butter followed by shallots and broccoli.  Once the vegetables soften and 1/4 cup water.  Steam vegetables in pan.  When broccoli is steamed through (dark green but before it gets mushy), put 3/4 of broccoli and shallots, along with remaining liquid in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Meanwhile- add the water and Better Than Bouillon to the pot and bring toa boil with remaining broccoli.  Return processed broccoli back to soup pot.  Simmer  and stir until well incorporated (10 minutes or so).

Divide into 4 equal portions.  Stir one tablespoon of nonfat Greek yogurt into each bowl.  Then top with cheese, divided between four bowls.  By mixing the cheese in last you get the flavor without the extra fat and calories.

Want more flavor?  Add some calorie free kicks add fresh ground pepper or garlic.

Want a thicker soup?  Steam cauliflower with your broccoli and process it.  The texture will be smoother than the broccoli and increase soup texture.

2013 in Photos

Everyone has a year-in-review these days.  Instead of a long drawn-out blog about the year that was, I’ve opted for a more fun photo collection instead.

Nashville, 2013

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Knee-gate

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New Kids & Concerts

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Happy 60th Anniversary Grandma & Grandpa

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Bathroom Remodel

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Pure Michigan:

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FOX 2:

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The Walk with Hanson

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Pelee Island, Ontario

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Head Shots:

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Radio:

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Life with an Exchange Student:

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Just say no to Tim Ho’s- Pumpkin Muffins

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I almost lost to Tim Horton’s today.  Talk about effective advertising.  As I’m dropping our exchange student off at school I hear the ad- pumpkin season at Tim Horton’s.  Muffins and doughnuts that are so sweet and so good.  It seems we are obsessed with pumpkins this day in age.  Pumpkin spice latte’s are among the hottest in fall beverages- even if most of them contain no pumpkin.  The problem is they are loaded in fat, sugar, and calories.  This isn’t to put Tim Horton’s down.  I love pretty much everything on the menu.  Its just that I can’t afford the extra fat and calories these days.  Plus I give kudos to any restaurant that has a nutrition calculator on their website so you can calculate your meals.

nutrition information

By their calculations the pumpkin spice muffin has 430 calories, 140 of which are from fat.  It also has 16 grams of  fat. One serving also contains 470 milligrams of sodium and 64 grams of carbohydrates.

My version has a pretty similar flavor and only a fraction of the fat and calories.  My version is 183 calories and 9.2 grams of fat.  I chose to use Extra Virgin Coconut oil in mine, which is high in “good fats”.  Mine also has 11.4 grams of sodium and 22 grams of carbohydrates.

Bridget Pumpkin Muffin

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I buy mine at a bulk food store. Red Mill also offers a variety at most grocery stores.)
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sucanat (dried cane juice) or sugar
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil
  • 3 large eggs (replace with banana or apple sauce if vegan)
  • 1 can pumpkin

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When it comes to making muffins, I’ll admit it I’m lazy.  I just dump all the ingredients into a bowl, stir until smooth, and plop into muffin pans.  If you feel like following traditional rules; combine wet ingredients before adding dry ones.

I use a gravy ladle to help keep consistent size muffins.  I yielded 20 muffins, and the nutrition is based on that.  If you can get the full 24, the calories will be less.

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These are a softer muffins so I recommend spraying the liners with a little cooking spray.

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Optional: Garnish with pepitas. (Shelled pumpkin seeds)

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

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Shortcut Warm German Potato Salad

 

                                                                  ockstadt

 

I recently subscribed to a meal planning service.  The concept is great, the reality has been anything but.  Then again, I’m a picky eater.  I did however find with some adaptations some of the recipes can be pretty good.

One of those adaptations is for a shortcut German potato salad.  I love German Potato salad.  My Grandmother’s version takes over an hour for me to make.  It involves peeling potatoes, making hard-boiled eggs, boiling potatoes on the stove top, cooking bacon, adding onions, vinegar, and sugar.

This recipe is a shortcut version.  While it lacks some of the elements of my Grandmother’s, its a nice shortcut for a weeknight.  You save a lot of time by using redskin potatoes and microwaving them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small bag redskin potatoes (2-3 pounds)
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

1. Start by chopping redskin potatoes into bite sized pieces.  Place into microwave safe bowl and add 1/4 cup water.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in microwave.  Cook 8-10 minutes until soft.  (I prefer my potatoes soft enough to mash, you can shorten the time if you prefer a firmer texture.

2. Chop 6 slices of uncooked bacon into bite size pieces.  (I prefer center cut, it has less fat).

3. Chop 1/2 large red onion into bite sized pieces.

4. Place bacon and onion in large skillet.  Cook until bacon is crisp (about 10 minutes).

5. Turn off heat.  Add vinegar stir.  Then add sugar and stir.

6. Remove potatoes from microwave and pour bacon/onion/vinegar/sugar mixture over potatoes.  Stir and serve immediately.

The whole process took me about 20 minutes which is much less than the 1-1.5 hours to make Grandma’s.   If you have hard boiled eggs on hand, chop a couple up add them just before serving.

salad

 

7 ways to save money during summer concert season

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A Summer night with your favorite band… or boy band, it doesn’t get much better than this.    Do you see Jordan Knight pointing at the camera (right).

One of the best parts of Summer is outdoor concert season.  In Metro Detroit We have Meadowbrook Music Hall, DTE Energy Music Theater, and even Comerica Park that offer summer concerts.  In addition many local cities have picnic pops and other local acts.

July was a busy concert month for us, we saw a ton of shows.

  • July 4th– Counting Crows & The Wallflowers
  • July 6th– Matchbox Twenty & The Goo Goo Dolls
  • July 18th– Gavin Degraw, The Script, and Train
  • July 20th– Jimmy Buffett
  • July 21st– Under the Sun Tour with Fastball, Vertical Horizon, Gin Blossoms, Sugar Ray, and Smashmouth.
  • July 23rd– Lynard Skynard and Bad Company
  • July 29th– New Kids on the Block with 98 Degrees.

Believe it or not, we stayed within our budget.  There are some simple tricks to saving money during outdoor concert season.

1-      Plan ahead.  Prioritize concerts.  Do you really need good seats?  Consider the lawn option and save up to 75%.  Is this one of your favorite acts?  Consider a pre-sale to make sure you get good seats in your price range.

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This is what pre-sale can get you, 4th row for New Kids on the Block, $60.
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98 Degrees was part of the NKOTB tour. Not bad for an opener!

2-      Utilize Groupon and other daily deal sites.  They often list shows before they go on sale at a discounted price.  This is how we bought tickets for Matchbox Twenty, Train, and Lynard Skynard.

3-      Procrastination can be a good thing. When shows get close and have a lot of extra tickets, they often go on sale at dramatic price cuts.  For example, we got the Under the Sun Tour tickets for $10 two days before the show.  Sometimes venues will use Groupon.  Other times, they will send special offers through email.

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Counting Crows July 4th, 2013.  Only $15.
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1990’s best pop-rock bands, for $10.

4-      Carpool.  Many venues charge for parking.  If you ride with friends, you can split the cost of parking.

Suspenders Guy
DTE’s legendary ‘suspenders guy’.

5-      Pack your dinner.  This is one of the most important steps to saving money during concert season.  A pasta salad can be whipped up for around $4.00 and can feed 4-6 people.  Use whatever veggies you have on hand, create your own dressing, and toss with some whole grain pasta.  For extra flavor add feta cheese or blue cheese.  My favorite uses olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian Dressing seasoning.  Not a pasta fan?  Consider sandwiches which can be made almost as cheap.  Most venues, including DTE and Meadowbrook in Metro-Detroit allow you to bring in picnic dinners.  Make sure you double check, many allow food but not beverages.

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A picinic dinner with friends, followed by your favorite bands, can be a great affordable night.

6-      Tailgate.   Part of the summer concert fun is being outdoors.  Pack a cooler with your favorite beer and mixed drinks.  Just don’t forget the plastic cups.  An eighteen pack of beer from Costco is around $14.  For the price of two beers inside, $10 a beer, you can share an eighteen pack with your friends.   Instant savings of around 70%.  Do you like mixed drinks?  Pack a flask or chill a bottle on ice.  You will still save lots of cash.

Tailgating before Jimmy Buffett
Tailgating before Jimmy Buffett

7-       Be prepared.  Outdoor concerts can bring all types of weather.  It’s a good idea to pack rain ponchos for summer storms.  Poncho’s at a concert can cost more than $10.  A plastic paint tarp from the dollar store, can act as a barrier between wet grass and your blanket.  Sweatshirts are a good idea, summer evenings can get chilly.  Concert sweatshirts often run around $70.  A recent concert was so cold they were selling woven Mexican blankets, for $20.  (These are the same ones you can by for $2 in Mexico, and $5 at the flea market.)

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Rain Poncho’s are a great thing to keep on hand for summer shows.

Planning and preparation are key.  It’s important to know what you are allowed to bring, and what you are not.  You may want to consider having a ‘tailgate kit’ packed and ready to go, like many of our friends.

Rain Poncho's can also double as blankets when desperate
Rain Poncho’s can also double as blankets when desperate

Shortcut Spicey Summer Paella

Summer Shortcut Paella
Summer Shortcut Paella

I first fell in love with Paella at a Cuban Restaurant in Detroit.  Rice, veggies, and seafood are usually the major components of this dish.  (I have a seafood allergy, so I omit the seafood).  My favorite part of paella is that its dynamic, you can modify it depending on what is in season.  I’ve also heard it called the Spanish version of fried rice, which seems fitting in this case.

Paella is often considered complicated and uses ingredients that many people do not keep on hand.  This version uses ingredients that are easy to find. I do recommend using a white rice for this dish.  While I use brown rice in almost everything I make, I feel like the white rice absorbs the flavors better. I used zucchini and string beans in my summer version of this dish because they are in season.  In season produce tastes better and is cheaper.  Use what you have on hand or what is in season.  You can even substitute frozen veggies.  Keep in mind the more veggies you add, the more you bulk up this dish.  (This means you can have more!)

This can easily be a vegan or vegetarian dish.  Substitute ground chicken, veggie crumbles, or even white beans.  (Make sure you have protein to keep this a one pot meal!)

Prep time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 45 Minutes

Servings: 5-6

To eat well on a budget, its important to keep a stocked pantry and spice cabinet.  This recipe contains Saffron, which is expensive.  If you don’t already have it- don’t buy it just for this recipe.  It does make a difference but the other spices make up for it.  Calories and cost are based on 85% lean ground beef and 5 servings.  (Using beans instead will cut costs and calories.)

Cost Per Serving $2.06

Calories Per Serving 383

 Ingredients:

1 Cup Jasmine or White Rice

2 cups water plus 2 tsp ‘Better than Bullion’ OR bullion cubes

OR 2 cups chicken stock

1 14oz can diced tomatoes- no salt added

1 chopped red bell pepper

1 chopped zucchini

1 and 1/2 cup string beans cut into thirds

1 chopped medium yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, grated

2 sprigs saffron (optional)

2 tsp tumeric

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 pound seasoned protein (see below).

1/4 cup dry white wine

Seasoning for meat/ chicken/ veggie crumbles

This is similar to Chorizo seasoning, you can substitute the sausages instead if you prefer.  

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp garlic powder

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1- Prep Your Protein

  • 1- Start by browning your protein.  (I use grass-fed beef because we buy it in bulk from a farmer.)
  • 2- Add your seasonings and mix in so that your protein absorbs the seasonings.
  • 3- Add your vinegar
  • 4- Cook until browned or until most of the vinegar is absorbed, remove from pan, drain excess liquid

seasoned meat

2- Start your rice

  • 1- Add 1 cup rice to 2 cups water (or chicken stock)
  • 2- Add 2 tablespoons Better than bullion, if using water
  • 3- Add 2 sprigs saffron
  • 4- Bring water and rice to a boil, then reduce to a simmer
  • 5- Cook 20 minutes or until water is absorbed

rice pot

3- Begin your Paella

  • 1. Add olive oil to the pot you cooked your protein in
  • 2. Add chopped onions and red pepper
  • 3. When the onions start to soften add other veggies; zucchini and green beans, etc. Cook 3-5 minutes
  • 4. Add garlic, canned tomatoes, and seasoned protein.
  • 5. Add 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 5. Simmer for 10-15 minutes
  • 6. Add cooked rice and stir.  (Fluff rice with fork before mixing)
  • 7. Add tumeric
  • 8. Simmer an additional 10 minutes

veggiescombinedfinishsimmer

Shortcut tools I used in prep:

Microplane for garlic

Onion ‘Hold ‘n Slice’

Can Strainer for tomatoes

Better than Bullion- Vegetarian Chicken Base

For more information on products, please contact me.

onionCan strainerbetter than

How to Enjoy the World Series in Detroit

With Games 3 and 4 of the World Series to be played in Detroit, the city is getting ready for the onslaught of visitors this weekend. While you are in town, take some time to get to know the city from a local’s perspective. Our local pubs and restaurants are what give the city its heart. Here are your best bets while in Detroit.

Here are some of the best places in Detroit to celebrate.

http://voices.yahoo.com/a-detroiters-guide-world-series-11836414.html

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