Week 2! If you’re new to the series, welcome and settle in; this one is lengthy.
If you’re new to the series, I’m putting my mom on a diet (because she asked me to, and I’ve lost 135 pounds myself (naturally). So here’s what you need to know: Part 1, here is the plan I designed for her, and here are her weekly updates: week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5, week 6, week 7, week 8, week 9, week 10, week 11, week 12, week 13, week 14, week 15, week 16, week 17, week 18, week 19, 1 month eating on her own, 1 year later.
Breakfast: 2 Kashi 7-Grain Waffles (140) + 2 teaspoons butter (~60) + 1 cup 1% milk (110) = 310
Lunch: Chef Salad: vegetable base (3 large handfuls mixed greens, ½ cup chopped bell pepper, ½ cup chopped cucumber, ½ cup shredded carrot, 6-8 cherry tomatoes=50 calories) + 2 ounces roasted turkey breast deli meat (2 thick slices or 3 thin slices=60 calories) + 1 ounce smoked ham deli meat (1 thick slice=30 cals) + 1 ounce provolone cheese (2 thin slices=100) + 1 hard-boiled egg (70) + 2 tablespoons Ken’s Light Caesar Dressing (80) = 390
Snack: 2 cups fruit salad (100)+ 12 almonds (~80) = 180
Dinner: 4 ounces grilled steak tips (240) + 1 ½ cups roasted potatoes (200) + 2 cups steamed green beans (60) = 500
Breakfast: 1 ½ cups Cascadian Farm Honey Nut O’s (150) + 1 cup sliced strawberries (50) + 1 cup 1% milk (110) = 310
*Andie note: I’d been excited to begin incorporating fruit into Mom’s morning cereal, and I had high hopes for how it would turn out, but that night after dinner, Mom told me, “I don’t like the fruit in the morning. I usually do fine with just my cereal, but I think having a taste of that fruit sugar made me crave more and more. Today, the strawberries were so good—so sweet—and I was full after breakfast, but then, just two hours later, I had to eat my afternoon snack because I felt like I couldn’t even make it to lunch.” I was startled by how wise she’d been to understand her own sugar cravings and crashes. But I also wanted to remind her that the cereal alone is rather light; it might not have been entirely the strawberries’ fault. We discussed either switching brands of cereal or adding some healthy fat to help keep her feeling balanced in terms of blood sugar. She told me, “Skippy, that all sounds good, but let’s not waste. I’ll finish this box first because I do like it, and then we can find another good brand.”
For now, we’re just trying to rotate other breakfast options to find one that might naturally suit her better. I don’t want to force her away from cereal; I want her to find on her own out what she a) likes best and b) feels most satisfied eating.
Lunch: Turkey Avocado Wrap (this recipe without the bacon = 300) + 2 cups pineapple & cantaloupe (100) = 400
Snack: 1 cup grapes (100) + 1 cheese stick (80) = 180
Dinner: Bunless cheeseburger (4 ounces 93% lean ground beef (40 calories per ounce=160) + ½ ounce cheddar cheese (50) =210) + Strawberry Pecan Salad (150) + 1 ½ cups Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower (120) = 480
Make the salad: For 2 servings, toss 4 handfuls of baby spinach with 3 tablespoons Ken’s Light Honey Dijon Dressing. Add 2 cups sliced strawberries and ¼ cup chopped pecans and toss once more. Serve immediately.
Make the Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut 1 head cauliflower into florets and place in a large bowl. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat all of the pieces. Add 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese and toss again. Spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle the cauliflower evenly with ½ teaspoon salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and golden in color.
Breakfast: 1 Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin (160) + 2 teaspoons butter (~60) + 1 hard-boiled egg (70) + 1 cup raspberries (65) = 335
Lunch: Chef Salad Salad base (3 large handfuls mixed greens, ½ cup chopped bell pepper, ½ cup chopped cucumber, ½ cup shredded carrot, 6-8 cherry tomatoes=50 calories) + 2 ounces roasted turkey breast deli meat (2 thick slices or 3 thin slices=60 calories) + 1 ounce smoked ham deli meat (1 thick slice=30 cals) + 1 ounce provolone cheese (2 thin slices=100) + 1 hard-boiled egg (70) + 2 tablespoons Ken’s Light Honey Dijon Dressing (70) = 380
Snack: 12 almonds and 1 ounce raisins (180)
*Andie note: Nuts and dried fruit are proving to be Mom’s favorite snack. When she ran out of one of them mid-week, she called me immediately, and with a desperation in her voice, asked, “What do you think we should do about the raisins?!”
Dinner: 3 ounces Lazy Girl’s Chicken Sorta-Marsala (1 thin cutlet = 150) + 1 ½ cups Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower (150) + 1 ½ cups roasted carrots (120) = 420
*Andie note: Mom RAVED about this meal. Stars and moons were in her eyes, I’m telling you. And that is why I’m not going to be able to share the recipe for the cauliflower and carrots: because they will be going in the cookbook. The chicken, however, is pretty great, too, considering that it’s terribly simple and so easy to make.
Make the chicken: (To serve 4, you’ll need 1 pound chicken breast cutlets- if you don’t have pre-sliced cutlets, slice each of the breasts in half lengthwise to create two thin cutlets. Season the cutlets generously with salt and pepper on both sides.) In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add 3 or 4 of the chicken cutlets (depending on the size of your pan; do not overcrowd) and cook, undisturbed, until the underside has crisped and browned, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer the cooked cutlets to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and repeat the cooking process with the remaining cutlets.
Once all the cutlets have been cooked, add 2 teaspoons olive oil to the pan along with 2 minced cloves garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 2 cups marsala wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly to medium, and simmer until the wine is reduced by half (to 1 cup). Return the chicken cutlets to the pan along with any juices that may have accumulated on the plate, and stir to coat in the wine. Simmer until the chicken has warmed and the marsala has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Serve cutlets along with a drizzle of extra wine sauce over the top.
Breakfast: 2 cups Cascadian Farm Honey Nut O’s (200) + 1 cup 1% milk (110) = 310
*Andie note: Old habits die hard.
Lunch: Red, White, & Blue Salad (click here for the recipe = 350)
Snack: 12 almonds + 1 ounce raisins = 180
4 ounces mesquite grilled pork tenderloin (pork is 40 calories per ounce, so 160 for the pork itself + 40 for the marinade, proportionally = 200) + 1 ½ cups cinnamon-dusted sweet potatoes (200) + 2 cups steamed green beans (60) = 440
*Andie note: The amazing thing about adding a touch of cinnamon to sweet potatoes (and pumpkin, butternut squash, etc…) is that it helps to bring out the natural sweetness of the vegetable. Mom remarked that “it tasted like there was maple syrup added to the potatoes.” And it did. They were fantastically warm, mapley, and fragrant, like the whole fall season, without any added sugars.
Make the cinnamon sweet potatoes: For 2 side-dish servings, you’ll need 1 extra-large or 2 small sweet potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and dry the potatoes. Leaving the skin on, cut the potato(es) into uniform, 1 ½-inch pieces. Place them in a bowl and add 2 teaspoons olive oil; toss well to coat all pieces. Add ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and toss to coat once more. Spread the pieces on a large, rimmed baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt evenly over the top of the pan. Bake until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 40 minutes.
Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cinnamon-Raisin English Muffin* (160)
*Andie note: Mom told me she was running late on Friday morning so she grabbed a dry English muffin to go and ate it plain on her car ride to work–to which I asked, “Seriously?”
Out to lunch: Chicken salad sandwich (1 cup chicken salad prepared traditionally with mayonnaise = ~400 (average of most recipes)) + 2 slices marble rye bread (200) = 600
I’ve talked to Mom pretty extensively about two things: mayonnaise and butter—both of which she loves fiercely—and in those conversations, I’ve mentioned that tuna salad and chicken salad tend to be very high calorie sandwich fillers. “Try to remember that just 1 measly tablespoon—a spoonful—of mayo has 100 calories. Then think about how much of it there might be in the tuna salad you’re being served. Often times, it’s upwards of 3 tablespoons—300 calories—just for mayonnaise alone,” I said. She swallowed hard, likely thinking back to all the times she made chicken salad. The way she plopped at least ½ cup of mayo into a bowl of shredded chicken, along with ½ cup of chopped pecans, chopped dried cranberries, and scallions. She might have been thinking about how her idea of a serving of that chicken salad was much more than 1 cup. “I know,” I told her, “I love mayonnaise, too. And it’s not like you can never have it; it’s just—let’s try to use a little less, OK?” She nodded, deflated.
Now, you’ll have to imagine my surprise, then, when she told me on Friday night that her lunch had not been a salad and instead was a chicken salad sandwich. I wanted to hear her reasoning. “Francie, it was the only option at the nursing home that seemed healthy. I didn’t even want it; I just tried to make the best choice.” I could tell she was being honest by her eyes, her tone, the fact that she genuinely seemed bummed to have had to order the sandwich at all.
The sad thing is, after we discussed the number of calories the sandwich likely contained, she said that she had felt hungry for the rest of the afternoon—despite the hefty hit of fat in the chicken salad. The sandwich—at 600 calories—was small in size, she told me. When I reminded her of the fact that her dinners are only between 400 and 500 calories each, and that they often look and feel large, she seemed to nod gently, letting me know she understood that volume goes a long way toward fullness.
Dinner: Grilled bunless cheeseburger (5 ounces cooked 85% lean ground beef (60 calories per ounce = 300 total) + ½ ounce American cheese (50)= 350) + ½ cup Bush’s brand Boston Recipe Baked Beans (150) + 2 cups mixed green salad (30) + 2 tablespoons Ken’s Light Raspberry Walnut dressing (60) = 590
*Andie note: I had recommended grilled chicken for dinner (with wheat pilaf), but Mom wanted another burger instead. She chose 85% lean ground beef rather than 93% lean at the market, which added more calories to the burger itself, but overall, her choices seem reasonable to me. What I’m more happy about than anything is that she can create a “wing it” dinner–one that’s unplanned, on-the-fly, and still in line with her commitment to health.
Dessert: Peach (70)
Breakfast: Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin (160) + 2 teaspoons butter (~60) + 1 fried egg (70) + 1 sliced peach (70) = 360
Out to lunch: Barbecue chicken (8 ounces chicken breast, butterflied, grilled, and brushed with a thin coating of barbecue sauce = ~400 (240 of that accounts for chicken alone; 160 calories is my estimate for added oil and bbq sauce) + 2 cups steamed broccoli (50) = 450
Pasta and Meatballs: 1 ½ cups penne tossed in olive oil (family tradition to toss the hot pasta in oil after draining so that it never sticks together or hardens as it cools. This serving of penne alone would be 300 calories + 2 teaspoons oil (60) = 360) + 2 meatballs and ½ cup marinara sauce (Recipe for PJ’s Meatballs and Sauce = 320) + 1 ½ cups mixed salad and 1 tablespoon Caesar dressing (80) = 760
*Andie note: This was a big family dinner and, as you can see above, Mom did really well considering we also had fresh baked bread and butter, chicken cutlets, and more. I asked her to “please eat only what you truly, truly love, and know that you can have the rest another time.” It’s about making a choice. Meatballs are a favorite of hers, so meatballs it was.
Late night snack after going to the movies: 1/2 ounce pistachios + 1 ounce raisins (~200)
Brunch (eaten at nearly noon): Greek omelet (1 egg, 2 egg whites, 1 ounce feta, 1 small handful baby spinach = 180) + 2 cups watermelon chunks (100) + 2 small slices of toasted white mountain bread (90) + 1 teaspoon butter (30) + 2 teaspoons Bonne Maman raspberry preserves (~30) = 430
*Andie note: Remember how Mom didn’t like eggs in the beginning? Well, she still doesn’t. But she’s warming to them.
Snack: 12 almonds + 1 ounce raisins = 180
Out to a family dinner at Legal Sea Foods: Wood-grilled haddock with blackened seasoning (Mom ate about 4 ounces because she didn’t like the blackened seasoning = 200 (estimate includes added oil/butter)) + 1/2 of an extra-large baked potato (rubbed in oil or margarine before baking–a typical restaurant practice; I’d estimate the calories of 1/2 plain XL potato + margarine at 250) + 1 tablespoon butter added to the potato by Mom (100) + 1 cup steamed spinach (this, unfortunately, seemed as though it was drenched in oil. Just covered in the stuff. My calorie guess: spinach (60) + 2 tablespoons oil (200) = 260) = 810
*Andie note: When we got to Legal, I wanted to see what Mom gravitated to on the menu. Ordinarily, Mom orders fish and chips because a) she loves it, b) it can be made with haddock, and c) she dislikes all fish except for haddock and canned tuna, and even those are iffy at times. After scanning for a minute, she looked up at me and said, “Maybe the wood-grilled haddock?” It sounded like a great, healthy option. Menu items that are grilled and broiled tend to be prepared in fairly simple, healthful ways. For her two sides, I OK’ed the baked potato, and she selected the spinach. When the meal came out, it looked good, but I knew that Mom had made a sacrifice. She tried to muster enthusiasm, but I could tell it wasn’t what she’d like to be eating. The blackened seasoning that the waitress suggested turned out to be a bit spicy for her, and the potato was bland and boring, even once she added a tablespoon of butter (Mom typically adds 3 tablespoons of butter to a baked potato).
Tonight, after I tallied the calories in her dish, I came to the conclusion that Mom would have been better off ordering fish and chips and simply eating roughly half of the plate. For the amount of calories she “spent” on a meal that she felt rather “blah” about, she could have had a smaller serving of something she craved—something truly delicious. No one wants to feel the stinging regret of having sacrificed flavor and happiness for the sake of health by ordering a salad at a restaurant only to later realize it was a calorie bomb—the equivalent of what you really wanted: a cheeseburger.
We’re working on this lesson little by little, because it might be among the hardest to navigate and to master—for her and for me.
Week 2 Weigh-In:
Starting Weight: 210
Week 1 Weight: 201.4 (down 8.6)
Week 2 Weight: 199.4 (down 2.0)
Total Pounds Lost: 10.6
Mom’s thoughts on progress so far:
“Hello to my friends at Can You Stay For Dinner!
I just finished my second week of dieting, and truth be told, I feel great. I am so much less bloated and my clothes aren’t so tight anymore (and I am talking about the ones I just purchased due to weight gain!). I really feel like I’m eating too well to say that I am dieting.
Andie is making me amazing meals that incorporate what I love and I am able to eat breads and pasta (not candy) so how can I ever complain? I know in my heart and soul that if I were walking with this diet plan I would be so much better off, and I actually will begin that this week. I will walk aim to walk for 45 minutes at night after work (without DeeDee, who moves at a snail’s pace and stops to sniff each blade of grass).
I must admit that my hardest struggle is going out to eat. I know that I would like to have a cheeseburger and fries at every restaurant, followed by an iSCREAM vanilla frappe with extra vanilla. I also find it hard to visit the grocery store and not stock up on cookies and chips in case someone stops by the house. The jelly beans that my friend gave me last week are now gone and poor Andrea thought that I had been having a handful each night in secret, but I wouldn’t have done that because I would only be sabotaging myself, no one else. My husband has been eating them, and I never even knew he liked jelly beans. Once again I can’t emphasize enough how lucky I am to have Chef Andrea. She shops for me, she cooks (and wow, I can’t believe how amazingly she does it).
For everyone out there doing this, keep it up, it truly is worth it. The time will and does go by, and next thing you know you will be buying a smaller size. Follow Andrea’s recipes, they are so tasty you won’t believe they are low in calories. I keep hearing that I am only eating 400 calorie meals and I am blown away by this. I had a chicken marsala meal the other night that I would expect to eat at Capital Grille! Andrea made carrot fries, mashed cauliflower and chicken sauteed in marsala wine, unbelievable. Try her recipes and ask yourself, Is this is diet food?”
*Andie note: Mom, we can’t make this into an infomercial for my cooking skills or this place will get really weird.