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Posts Tagged ‘Fatblogging’

Recipe: Low-Fat Black Bean and Sausage Stew

Posted by Fred on February 19, 2008

Nutrition Facts
Recipe Serves 6 people

Amount per Serving

Calories 310 Calories from Fat 81

% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 55mg 18%
Sodium 560mg 23%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 12%
Dietary Fiber 13g 52%
Sugars 2g
Protein 28g 56%

Est. Percent of Calories from:
Fat 26.1% Carbs 46.5%
Protein 71.0%

We picked up a new Crock-Pot at Target over the weekend – if you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the slow cooker, which is convenient and allows cooking with far less fat.  The new Hamilton Beach has a programmable timer, which is nice (basketball practice night often results in overcooked food, even in the slow cooker), and a temperature probe, which I doubt will ever be used (except, perhaps, by one of the kids upon the other).  Here’s the inaugural meal cooked in the new pot, from Phyllis Pellman’s Fix It & Forget It Lightly, a tasty black bean soup with smoked turkey sausage.  Be sure to use a hot sausage, bump up the cayenne or add some hot sauce (I used Day of the Dead Habanero).  Add salad and some fresh bread and you’re in for less than 500 calories, with leftovers for the next day.

Black Bean and Sausage Stew

3 15-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
14 1/2-oz. can fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup celery, sliced
2 4-oz cans diced green chilies
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
3/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 lb. smoked turkey sausage, thinly sliced

1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker except sausage.
2. Cover. Cook on low 5-7 hours.
3. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the bean mixture and puree in blender. Return to slow cooker.
4. Add sliced sausage.
5. Cover. Cook on low 30 minutes.




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Fatblogging: Maria from New Mexico’s Southwestern Chili

Posted by Fred on January 14, 2008

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1/4 cup dry / 38g
Servings Per Container 6

Amount per Serving

Calories 456 Calories from Fat 120

% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g 20%
Saturated Fat  5g 25%
Trans Fat  0g
Cholesterol 150mg 50%
Sodium 570mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 10%
Dietary Fiber  1g 4%
Sugars  5g
Protein 53g  

Vitamin A 10% Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 5% Iron 37%

Est. Percent of Calories from:
Fat 26.3%    Carbs 21.0%
Protein 46.5%

signature_family_rec_logo_g.gifI’m always on the lookout for fast, easy, tasty and healthy meal ideas as a recovering Fat Guy with a full-time job and two kids. Between work, basketball practice, basketball games, homework and PTA meetings, it’s just a little to easy to fall into the burgers and pizza trap, and there’s only so much damage one can counteract with lunchtime at the YMCA.  One of our local Krogers has started carrying three varieties of Signature Family Recipes crockpot meal starters from Trinidad Benham, a Denver-based private label distributor of dried beans, rice and popcorn products.

I’ve tried the chili mix, which contains pinto beans and various spices, as well as the Louisiana Cajun Red Bean mix, red kidney beans with cajun-style seasoning.  Of the two, the chili is superior. Mix it with a couple of pounds of cubed bottom round beef, 4 cups of water and a can of diced tomatoes with chilies, and the crockpot does the rest.  The packaging calls for diced tomatoes with green chilies, but Del-Monte’s Diced Tomatoes with Zesty Jalapenos adds a necessary extra kick without being ridiculously spicy (I add hot sauce to tip the balance toward ridiculously spicy).

As with all dried bean mixes, cooking the chili on low results in significantly undercooked beans in our crockpot, so be sure to cook on the high or time shift setting. This wasn’t a huge problem with the chili, but the red bean entree was inedible until it had cooked a while longer cranked up to high.

As with most chili, it’s even better the next day.  Unfortunately, many of our Krogers don’t carry the mixes at all, so planning ahead is a must.  I used to get an even better southwestern bean bake mix from Ukrop’s, but they’ve stopped carrying it, so Maria is a good substitute.  With the added ingredients but without cheese or sour cream, one good-sized serving is less than 500 calories, perfect for a fatblogger.

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Fatblogging Recipes: Beef and Broccoli Stir-fry

Posted by Fred on December 5, 2007

[haven’t done a fatblogging post in a while, so here goes]

One of the biggest problems on the fatblogging train has been how to reconcile (a) eating healthy, (b) eating tasty food and (c) not having any time to cook.  So, here’s a recipe that is good, good for you and quick.  This one comes from The Healthy Firehouse Cookbook:

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry (serves 6)

3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
3 T. dry sherry
2 t. grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t. ground red pepper
1 T. cornstarch
1 lb. round steak, cut into 1/2 by 2-inch strips
2 T. vegetable oil, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
2 c. 99% fat free beef broth
4 c. hot cooked rice

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sherry, ginger, garlic and ground red pepper.  Whisk in the cornstarch until dissolved. Add the beef strips, mix well and marinate at room temperature for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 (or marinate in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours).

In a large nonstick skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat.  Remove the beef strips from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet or wok. Add the onion and broccoli and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the broth, cover and cook for about 3 minutes, until the broccoli is crisp-tender.

Add the beef strips with the reserved marinade and cook until the sauce thickens.  Serve over rice.


Calories 275 (20% from fat)
Protein 15g
Carbohydrates 39g
Fat 6g
Saturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 814mg
Fiber 3g

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Fatblogging: Quiznos adds nutritional information

Posted by Fred on November 7, 2007

quiznos_logo2.gifFor a long time, toasted sandwich vendor Quiznos refused to provide nutritional information for its menu, other than for the subs billed as low-fat, for which they were required by law to provide nutritional data. Thus, you were allowed to know the calorie content of the Honey Bourbon Chicken sandwich (310 for a small), but not the Black Angus Steak (520, as it turns out). This has now changed. In the stores, they still only post nutritional information for items under 500 calories, but the info is available online, if you dig for it.

There’s no link from the Quiznos home page, but if you go to the main menu page and scroll to the bottom, you’ll see a link for “Show Nutrition Information”.  Click that, and through AJAX-y goodness, you’ll get new links for Nutritional Information for all menu items.  Why they make you jump through these stupid hoops is beyond me, but at least the information is available.  Just stay away from the Regular and Large sizes (the cheesesteak is 1220 calories for the regular and 1770 for the large).

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Fatblogging: The Feedback Loop

Posted by Fred on October 26, 2007

fatblogging.pngPart of an occasional series. See here for more fatblogging entries.

Wikipedia has this to say about feedback:

Feedback is both a mechanism, process and signal that is looped back to control a system within itself. This loop is called the feedback loop. A control system usually has input and output to the system; when the output of the system is fed back into the system as part of its input, it is called the “feedback.”

In the Fatblogging Non-Diet, it is important early on to establish a feedback loop.  This is the justification for near-daily weigh-ins and meticulous recording of caloric intake. Seeing the numbers on the scale go down are just a bonus.  As discussed in an earlier post, determining resting metabolic rate at home is an inexact science. There are formulas that can approximate RMR, but the same input into two 6-foot men can yield decidedly different output.  By tracking the calories you take in and your daily weigh-ins, you can determine how many calories you need to consume to lose or maintain weight (or gain weight, for that matter, but then you would be Skinnyblogging, which is boring).  So you establish a simple feedback loop:


If the output (change in weight) is positive, you have negative feedback, and you reduce input (calories). If the output is negative, but at too high a rate (unhealthy weight loss), you increase input.  It’s all fairly simple: if 2,000 net calorie intake doesn’t result in weight loss, reduce it to 1,750. Repeat until you reach equilibrium.  But it can be time consuming to track and chart the data inputs. Which is why I was excited to see The Daily Plate change the default weight chart. What used to be a simple line chart showing weight vs. time now charts both weight and net calories (using Open Flash Chart).  Here’s my current chart, which is skewed a bit by my recent trip to Disney (Donald’s Breakfastasaurus at the Animal Kingdom’s Restaurantasaurus didn’t help).


I’ve already got a pretty good feel for my RMR, but tools like TDP’s calorie and weight tracker make it much easier than how I did it (using a kludgy spreadsheet).

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The Fatblogging Series: Convenience and Necessity

Posted by Fred on October 12, 2007

fatblogging.pngThis is part three of an ongoing series.  Check out parts one and two.

Paradoxically, two of the biggest obstacles to the aspiring ex-fattie are too much time and not enough time.  Most of us lead busy, but sedentary, lives.  We spend 10+ hours a day at a desk, and then go home and work from there, too.  We spend our down time surfing the web and channel surfing.  Part of the reason we gained weight in the first place is that we filled the extra time with food.  We eat salty snacks from a bag at our desk, eat breakfast from the drive-through in our car, and accompany YouTube with fried tubers.  We know we should eat better, but cooking lean meats and veggies is certainly more time consuming than picking up an Extra Value Meal, a pizza or a platter of General Tso’s Chicken.

Cutting out the snacks is relatively simple, if not exactly easy.  Make sure you eat at least 1-2 healthy snacks during the day.  I’m partial to fresh fruit and 100 calorie granola bars.  Also, as much as possible, follow the Eat Only At The Table rule, which cuts down on unhealthy chips-and-the-remote time.  Finally, remember that deprivation is bad and moderation is good, so a few chips or pretzels go a long way.

crock-pot.jpgYou’ll get most of your calories at meals, however, so what’s a busy netizen to do? Embrace convenience. Your tool comes not from the 21st century, but the 1950s – the slow cooker.  It sounds hokey, but one of my best weapons against fatty meals has been the Crock-Pot.  Chop up a bunch of stuff in the morning, let it cook all day, and dinner is waiting when you get home.  We have a well-loved copy of a Better Homes & Gardens Crockery Cookbook (published in 1994 and now out of print, but available used from Amazon).  The White Chicken Chili and Tex-Mex Beef Fajitas are both good and less than 500 calories for a filling amount.  There’s also a surprisingly good meatloaf recipe.

Precooking chicken breast and chopping onions still too hard? There are some really tasty mixes now available that do most of the work for you.  Chop some meat, add the mix and water, and you’re done.  Avoid the Banquet kits from the freezer section.  They’re horrible.  Wouldn’t-feed-it-to-your-dog horrible.  These are better:

Canterbury Naturals La Comida Del Dia Chili Mix: Canterbury Naturals,  produced by Medina, WA-based Conifer, Inc., makes several quick-cook soup mixes.  These can be prepared in 30-45 minutes on the stovetop, but they work really well in a slow cooker as well.  This chili mix is no longer produced, but still stocked at Ukrop’s in Richmond, and readily available at Whole Foods.  It’s a vegetarian chili made with a base of Spicy V-8 juice.  About 170 calories per cup, and really good.

Canterbury Naturals Roasted Garlic Potato Corn Chowder Mix: another soup mix from Canterbury Naturals.  This one takes more work, as you have to chop onions and garlic and fry some bacon.  I usually either skip the bacon or use pre-cooked bits (not the fake ones, thank you very much). Pre-minced garlic from the produce section works well, too, as it’s just going to simmer all day with the roasted garlic in the mix.  make it with half half-and-half and half skim milk, for less than 200 calories per cup.  The mix makes 12 cups, so be prepared for leftovers.

Purely American Santa Fe Chipotle Southwest Bean Bake: Purely American, based in Norfolk, VA, makes eight meal kits as part of its Slow Cooker Gourmet line.  They’re all available online, but I can find three or four of the flavors at Ukrop’s.  The bean bake is a chili-like combination of beans, stew beef and spices.  You add the beef, some chopped squash and tomato sauce.  The leftovers are especially good rolled in a tortilla with some low-fat cheese and salsa.  310 calories as prepared, plus another 100 for a tortilla.

Purely American Italian Bistro Bean and Pasta Soup Mix: a combination of beans, barley, carrots, onions, potatoes, peas and bell peppers with tri-colore pasta. You add your own chicken breast, chopped zucchini, wine and canned tomatoes.  This is pretty good, but not as good as the bean bake.  With any of the Purely American kits containing lima beans, be sure to soak overnight per the label instructions, or else the limas won’t cook all the way through.  220 calories as prepared, so you can add some crusty bread and a salad for a nice meal.  It pairs well with the Ecce Panis Roasted Garlic loaf most grocers carry.

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The Fatblogging Series: Searching for a System

Posted by Fred on October 12, 2007


Part two of an ongoing series

In yesterday’s post, I suggested  that the most important dieting lesson I ever learned was Don’t Diet.  That is, the ultimate goal is not to lose x pounds through deprivation, but to make small lifestyle changes intended to lead to a healthier self.  If you do that, you will lose weight, and hopefully you’ll keep it off.  Losing through a “diet” all too often leads to gaining it back, as once you reach your goal you stop depriving yourself.  That’s a nice lesson, but not a lot of structure. So today we’ll look at structure.  From personal experience, I suggest that you ignore fat grams, ignore carb counts, and focus on total caloric intake.  If you do this, you will still cut fat intake, as fat is more calorie-dense than are either carbohydrates or protein. Thus, to reduce caloric intake, you by necessity have to either reduce fat intake or go hungry.  Recent research suggests that total calories are more important than merely reducing fat intake (via Reason’s Hit & Run).  On to the ordered list…

  1. Calculate your resting metabolic rate and figure out how many calories you should be eating.  Your RMR  is an estimate of how many calories your body consumes during a day of rest (note: many people use the phrase “basal metabolic rate” for this purpose, but proper calculation of BMR requires strict conditions, and the RMR is probably more accurate).  There is a formula for calculating RMR – the Mifflin equation – which for men is equal to (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age) + 5, but why do the math when the internet can do the work for you?
  2. The RMR will give you a pretty good indication of how many calories your body requires, but unless you’re lying in bed all day doing nothing, you actually burn more calories than your RMR.  The calories Per Hour calculator linked above will give you some activity factors based on your lifestyle – i.e., if you are sedentary, multiply your RMR by 1.2.  When I started, I was a sedentary 240, so my calorie bank was about 2,456 calories per day.  These are rough estimates at best.
  3. To actually lose weight, create a calorie deficit.  A pound of body fat contains about 3,500 calories, so to lose two pounds a week, you need to consume 1,000 calories per day less than you burn.  In my case, that means I could eat about 1,500 calories per day if I didn’t exercise at all.
  4. Track everything you eat. Keep a journal, or better yet, use an online calorie and exercise tracker that calculates everything for you.  You can’t create a calorie deficit unless you know what’s going into your body.  It’s not enough to eschew fat – most low-fat and fat-free foods replace fat with sugar, so the caloric content can be nearly as high or even higher than their artery-clogging counterparts.  Atkins proponents would tell you it is enough to dump the carbs, but counting calories will allow an omnivorous diet, which can lead to less of a feeling of deprivation of approached properly.
  5. Exercise. This really should go without saying, but it is easier to burn 400 calories on the treadmill than to cut out another 400 calories from your diet. Beware the control panel of your exercise machine, however.  They are notoriously inaccurate, and probably vastly overstate your energy expenditure. Use an online calculator or a heart rate monitor.
  6. Track your weight.  Here is one place I diverge from the weight loss gurus. I weigh myself every day and I chart my weight.  Yes, weight varies from day-to-day, sometimes by several pounds.  Yes, eating salty foods can make you retain water, and caffeine can act as a diuretic, making you lose water content.  Keep an open mind and get neither discouraged nor ecstatic by weight gain or loss.  What you want to do is look for the overall trend – is it down or up?  Statistically, a five or ten day rolling average is a more accurate measure, but I’m too lazy to code the spreadsheet, so I just look at the overall trendline.  Tracking weight is important because it can be a check on the RMR calculation.  For example, if I consumed 2,400 calories per day (my supposed RMR x 1.4), I would gain weight. Your metabolism is likely different than the Mifflin equation as well, and could be faster or slower (if faster, I don’t like you).  If you’re tracking what you eat and how much you exercise, the scale will tell you if the equation is accurate.

That’s it. No counting fat grams or carbohydrates. No Grapefruit Diet.  if you stick to the routine, you’ll lose weight. maybe not as fast as on A Diet, but it will work.  And after a while, it will seem routine.

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Fatblogging: Overview

Posted by Fred on October 11, 2007


I noted yesterday that i reached my longstanding weight-loss goal.  Now that I’m in a maintenance phase, this will be the first in a series of posts describing how I did it, just in case it works for you, too.  It is worth noting, again, that there is nothing special about me, and nothing special about losing 80 pounds.  Lots of people have accomplished more.  With that disclaimer out of the way, here are some general suggestions – my “system” such as it is.

  1. Set an achievable but ambitious goal.  Nothing motivates quite like a good goal, and nothing will discourage you faster than an unachievable one.  So pick something objective and quantifiable and figure out a reasonable path to get there.  Don’t say “lose some weight.”  That’s not quantifiable, and it will be too easy to fall off the wagon.  Instead, say “lose 20 pounds” or “fit into my old jeans again.”  In my case, I set a series of goals – first, to get below 200 pounds from 240, then to get to a size 34 waist.  As I achieved a goal, I set a new one.  Now my goal is to maintain.
  2. Slow but steady wins the race.  Virtually all dieters lose a lot of weight at the beginning, as their bodies purge excess water.  Five, six, seven pounds the first week is not out of the question. Enjoy this, but ignore it.  It’s not sustainable, and if you try to sustain it, you’ll just be crash dieting, which will not work and is unhealthy to boot. Most experts suggest 1-2 pounds a week. I found that a slightly accelerated pace is sustainable, more like 2-3 on average.
  3. Don’t diet.  This sounds counter-intuitive, but it is an important, if semantic, point.  Don’t think of it as a diet, but as a lifestyle change.  You are not really just trying to weigh less, but become healthier.  If you think of it as a diet, then when you reach your goal, you’ll go back to old habits.  That’s what happened to me the last time.  So now, I realize that I’m not giving up pizza until I reach a goal weight; I’m recognizing that I need enjoy pizza only in moderation. Instead of half a pie, I have a piece or two and a salad.  Deprivation is your enemy, moderation your friend.  A corollary of this is “avoid fads.”  And I’d argue that every diet is a fad. Reduce your caloric intake and increase your exercise.  You won’t lose as much as fast as you would on Atkins or South Beach or the Zone, but you also won’t be tempted to throw the system out the window if you do lose some weight.
  4. Keep a journal.  Write down everything you put in your mouth.  Everything.  This serves two purposes. First, you’ll be able to track calories and make sure you’re eating the right amount in order to shed pounds.  Second, you may be surprised just how much you eat without knowing it.  If you keep a journal, you’ll learn to track portion sizes and avoid grazing.  20 peanuts is not a harmful thing, but 10 handfuls can be.  I found it easier to use an online journal, which allowed me to track calories without looking everything up.  there are lots of choices here, so shop around.  The Daily Plate is good because users have contributed lots of data not in the standard USDA tables, but the site has been (and should be) criticized for scraping data compiled by others.  Other websites are more ethical in this regard, but their data is less complete.  Also, many of the sites are geared toward people following specific diets – if you’re following the Don’t Diet plan, this is less important.  Track the calories you eat and the calories you burn.
  5. Exercise. Watching what you eat without exercising can work, but you risk losing a lot of muscle mass, and it’s a harder and longer road.  Find some cardio you like and do it when you can.  I use an elliptical trainer at the gym because it’s easy on the knees, but running is good, biking is good, anything that increases your heart rate and burns calories is good.  Don’t stress about how much you exercise, however.  If you obsess about reaching an hour a day or five days a week, you may find yourself giving up entirely.  Any amount of exercise is better than none.
  6. Be Patient.  This is the most important tip of all.  Some weeks you may not lose anything, or may even gain a couple of pounds.  So what?  As long as you’re healthier and making general progress, it doesn’t matter.  If you get discouraged by minor setbacks, you’ll be more likely to say “screw it, pass the cheesecake.”  It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet, remember?

Next up: how to embrace convenience without a McDonald’s drive-through.

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Fatblogging: goal reached

Posted by Fred on October 10, 2007

weight_chart_goal.pngToday marks a milestone – I long ago set a goal weight of 170 pounds, which puts me squarely in the ideal weight range of most statistics for a 6′ male of medium build. It’s perhaps a bit on the light side, but it’s where I wanted to be. 80 pounds later, and the scale this morning showed 169.4. I’m actually going to try to keep it above 170 as a maintenance weight. In addition to the 80 pounds, I’ve lost about seven inches off my waist size and gone from a 48 regular to a 40. Most importantly, I feel great. Over the next couple of days, I’ll put up a few how I did it posts – not because there’s anything special about me or particularly special about losing 80 pounds (lots of people have dropped a lot more) – but because maybe what worked for me will work for someone else. After all, that’s what Fatblogging is all about, right?

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Posted by Fred on October 4, 2007

fatblogging.pngI haven’t done a Fatblogging post in a while, so here you go. The scale shows a slight tick upwards, what you might call the Annual Fred’s Birthday Weight Gain – Tuesday I turned 39 (Happy Birthday to Me), and the family took me to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate. It’s kind of hard to find a place that is (a) convenient to the far West End such that we can get there after work and still get the kids to be at a reasonable hour; (b) has a menu with stuff on it that the kids will actually eat, given that their approved food list is quite short; and (c) doesn’t suck. So we ended up in Short Pump. The Cheesecake Factory does now offer a series of Weight Management Salads (590 calories or less, including dressing), but I went with the Jamaican Black Pepper Shrimp – jumbo shrimp in a spicy sauce, served with rice, black beans, mango salsa and plantains. It could clearly have been healthier, but at least nothing was fried. Plus, I was celebrating, so I splurged.

Unlike the entrees, nutritional content for the desserts is actually easy to find. Thus I know that the Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake slice that I spread over two nights packed in 930 calories and 59 grams of fat. Yikes. Yesterday was a little better – lunch of tilapia and veggies at the Capitol City Brewing Company in DC and some homemade Pad Thai. I did finish the cheesecake, but overall not a horrible day nutritionally. Today it’s back to oatmeal, Lean Cuisine and a trip to the James Center Y.

Oh and by the way, kudos to the staff at the Short Pump TCF – they did originally interpret the kids’ pizza improperly (it was supposed to be plain, half without sauce, and we got half plain and half sausage), but brought us a new one that they didn’t charge us for, plus brought a couple of baskets of fries for the kids to munch on while we waited. Mistakes happen, but the mark of a well-run operation is how they recover.

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