Recipe of the Week

Tosca Reno's Chicken and Barley Soup

This hearty soup is perfect for those days when you don’t feel like cooking at all. Simple, tasty and nutritious, this soup will hit you in all of the right spots!

YIELD: 10 cups
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Nutritional Value for One-Cup of Soup:

Calories: 134
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 0.5 g
Total Carbohydrates: 14.5 g
Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 11 g
Sodium: 200 mg
Cholesterol: 24 mg


  • 2 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approximately 1 lb / 455 g), cubed
  • 2 Tbsp / 30 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch coins
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large tomato, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp / 5 ml dried thyme
  • 1 tsp / 5 ml dried celery seed
  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml pearled barley
  • 2 qt./2L of low-sodium organic chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp / 2 1/2 ml sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp / 2 1/2 ml fresh ground black pepper

  • Place barley in bowl with just enough water to cover it.
  • Heat olive oil on medium heat in an 8-quart stockpot.
  • Add the chopped onion and garlic to the olive oil, cooking for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken to stockpot, along with the salt and black pepper. Brown for 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock, vegetables, and spices to the pot.
  • Drain the water from the barley. Add the barley to the soup.
  • Let the soup boil for 30 minutes on medium heat.
My children and I LOVE this soup! I have a pot simmering on the stove as I type!


"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss

Wordless Wednesday


"I'm going to trust that taking care of and truly loving myself will be the gateway to creating fulfilling relationships and life circumstances." Mastin Kipp

The Biggest Loser Diary - Season 9

So, who's excited about TBL9? Here are a few exclusive videos courtesy of NBC to help kick on Season 9 next Tuesday, January 5th!

The Biggest Loser Season 9 Preview
Bob and Jillian give you a peek of what to expect with the new season of The Biggest Loser: Couples
Season premiere Jan. 5 8/7c

Reclaiming Lives
In the ninth season, The Biggest Loser continues to change lives.
Season Premiere, Jan. 5, 8/7c

The Players Arrive
The season nine players arrive on the ranch and meet Ali.
Season Premiere, Jan. 5, 8/7c

Welcome to The Biggest Loser
Jillian and Bob introduce the new players to the BodyBugg.
Season Premiere, Jan. 5, 8/7c

Bob and Jillian's Challenge
Bob and Jillian are challenging the players to face their community.
Season Premiere, Jan. 5, 8/7c

The Heaviest Player
The heaviest player weighs in on season nine of The Biggest Loser.
Season Premiere, Jan. 5, 8/7c

The Biggest Loser: Couples Preview
Meet just one of the teams from this season's The Biggest Loser: Couples.
Season premiere Jan. 5 8/7c


"Keep pushing through your next barrier. Never give in, never give up, no matter what it takes ... move on. You are worth it!" RT @LivinLean

Mental Monday

Tips for Eating Healthy When Eating Out

  • As a beverage choice, ask for water or order fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or other drinks without added sugars.
  • Ask for whole wheat bread for sandwiches.
  • In a restaurant, start your meal with a salad packed with veggies, to help control hunger and feel satisfied sooner.
  • Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side. Then use only as much as you want.
  • Choose main dishes that include vegetables, such as stir fries, kebobs, or pasta with a tomato sauce.
  • Order steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sautéed.
  • Choose a “small” or “medium” portion. This includes main dishes, side dishes, and beverages.
  • Order an item from the menu instead heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
If main portions at a restaurant are larger than you want, try one of these strategies to keep from overeating:
  • Order an appetizer or side dish instead of an entrée.
  • Share a main dish with a friend.
  • If you can chill the extra food right away, take leftovers home in a “doggy bag.”
  • When your food is delivered, set aside or pack half of it to go immediately.
  • Resign from the “clean your plate club” – when you’ve eaten enough, leave the rest.

To keep your meal moderate in calories, fat, and sugars:

  • Ask for salad dressing to be served “on the side” so you can add only as much as you want.
  • Order foods that do not have creamy sauces or gravies
  • Add little or no butter to your food.
  • Choose fruits for dessert most often.
  • On long commutes or shopping trips, pack some fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, low-fat string cheese sticks, or a handful of unsalted nuts to help you avoid stopping for sweet or fatty snacks.



"You're an individual, with your own quirks, interests, pet peeves and adored foods. A one-size-fits-all approach won't and shouldn't have to work for you. Knowing who you are will go a long way toward know what will work for your nutrition plan."

Recipe of the Week

WW White Beach and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

POINTS® Value: 3
Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 14 min
Cooking Time: 8 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Works with Simply Filling
Whip out the food processor for this easy winner: a creamy, garlicky dip made with white beans and sun-dried tomatoes.


  • 6 medium whole wheat tortilla(s), cut into 8 wedges each
  • 3 spray(s) cooking spray
  • 1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
  • 30 oz canned white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup(s) sun-dried tomatoes, without oil, or less to taste
  • 1/4 cup(s) fat-free sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  • Arrange tortilla wedges on a large baking sheet; coat with cooking spray and then season with salt. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine beans, tomatoes, sour cream, lemon juice, garlic powder, cumin and onion powder in a food processor (or blender); process until smooth and then season with salt. Serve dip with chips on the side. Yields 6 chips and about 1/4 cup of dip per serving.
My friend brought this over to my house over the weekend, and it was so yummy! I'll probably keep this for potlucks only as it's too tempting to overeat if I made it at home, just for us!


"One's dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered." Michael J. Fox

Mental Monday

Holiday Sips and Savings

Aside from all the cookies, cakes and treats you'll be offered at holiday parties and family get-togethers, you'll also probably have to face down the temptation to have a glass of wine or cocktail. There are many good reasons to either avoid alcohol or limit your intake. Alcohol is loaded with calories, provides no nutrients, can cause you to choose less-than-healthy foods and may even slow your metabolism. Try these tips to curtail drinks during the holiday season.

Go prepared. Have plenty of water and maybe even a light meal before you leave for a party. When you're full, you'll feel less like drinking.
Be ready to say no. You know that you're probably going to be offered a drink, so be ready with a quick and polite, 'no thanks.' The faster you turn down the offer, the easier it will be for you to stick to your decision.

Try a look-alike. Mix seltzer with a little cranberry juice. Add a lime wedge and you're all set. It's fizzy and colorful, people won't know you're not drinking.

Choose wisely. A single drink can be as caloric as a meal or snack. To give you a rough idea, a 5-ounce glass of wine has 100 calories, a 12-ounce beer has about 150 calories and a small 4 ½-oz pina colada has more than 260 calories. So choose low-calorie alcoholic drinks, like light beer or a wine spritzer.

Dilute your drinks. Use less liquor by adding non-caloric liquids, like water, tonic or other mixers, to your glass. You could also try to alternate drinks by having a glass of water or club soda with lime in between cocktails.

From Bob Greene's Best Life e-Newsletter
Originally published 12/14/09

With holiday celebrations fast upon us this week and next, be sure to have a game plan in place to ensure your success! I hope the above article helps you get a few ideas to stay on track!


"Every problem is just an opportunity waiting to be made use of." Unknown

Former Fat Girl of the Week

Oh how I've missed my Former Fat Girl of the Week featurette! I'm excited to say it'll be back for good on January 2nd! You're going to LOVE all of my January Former Fat Girls of the Week!!!


"I find the great thing in this world is, not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving." Goethe


Recipe of the Week

WW Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

POINTS® Value: 2
Servings: 12
Preparation Time: 8 min
Cooking Time: 120 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

These cookies are the perfect combination of vanilla and chocolate. If you prefer chewy meringues, make them the day before you plan to eat them.


  • 1 spray(s) cooking spray, flour-variety recommended
  • 1 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 large egg white(s)
  • 1 cup(s) sugar
  • 1/2 cup(s) mini chocolate chips, semi-sweet
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 200ºF.
  • Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray and coat with a light dusting of flour; shake off excess flour and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form; gently fold in chocolate and vanilla.
  • Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart, making 24 cookies.
  • Bake until lightly golden and no longer sticky on the surface, about 1 hour. Turn oven off and let cookies sit in oven for 1 hour. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Yields 2 cookies per serving.

You can make these cookies mini if you prefer. Just use heaping teaspoons of batter; not tablespoons.
I plan to make these cookies this weekend for my annual Christmas cookie exchange. I'll let you know how it goes!


"The difference between holding on to a hurt or releasing it with forgiveness is like the difference between laying your head down at night on a pillow filled with thorns or a pillow filled with rose petals." Loren Fischer

Wordless Wednesday

[Photo from]


"Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows." Michael Landon

Mental Monday

Remember to Reward Yourself - How to Pat Yourself on the Back

Everyone likes a pat on the back every once in a while. And there’s no better time to get one than when you’re out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself to improve, nervous about whether you can succeed.

Most people approach changing their health habits from a position of "pain". They constantly nag themselves, berate themselves and expect nothing but perfection, no matter how much progress is made. Tools of the trade are guilt, doubt, shame and self-flogging. Instead of celebrating the 24 pounds they’ve lost, they see the six they still haven’t lost. Sound familiar? To people used to beating themselves up, it may seem like the best way to get motivated. But consider this: if you attempted to motivate an employee like that, how long do you think they’d stick around? How successful would they be?

Let’s do it differently this time. Try to approach your goals from a position of "possibilities" instead. Find ways to use regular rewards to pat yourself on the back and give a word of encouragement. Instead of focusing on what you do wrong, try paying more attention to what you do right. While straight talk and brutal honesty are often good for getting your butt moving, for sustained motivation, the positive approach will keep you from burning out.

Rewards create a feeling of doing something you want to do, not just what you’re forcing yourself to do. Even the smallest of rewards can work wonders as you travel from milestone to milestone, pound to pound, and mile to mile.

Here’s how to set up a good rewards system:

  • Choose some benchmarks and reward levels. You can also reward yourself for levels of consistency.
  • Make the reward meaningful to you. As a reward, a new pair of shoes may not hold as much motivation as a simple night alone with a book. Then again, it might.
  • Choose two or three options from the Reward Roster below or come up with a few reward options of your own. It doesn’t take much. Sometimes, the best rewards are those you can’t buy.
  • A lot of small rewards, used for meeting smaller goals, are more effective than relying solely on the bigger rewards that require more work and more time.
  • Don’t use food as a reward. Even good food. It’s just too much of a slippery slope. Don’t even mess with it.
  • Plan to celebrate. Figure out now how you’re going to celebrate reaching your health, fitness or nutrition goal. Involve other people, tell them about it. Create a celebration that you can anticipate and then keep it within sight all the time.
  • Be honest with yourself. Fudging the numbers mentally, or "borrowing" against the next reward hurts the cause of building a lifetime habit. Remember to keep your focus on building a habit, not just figuring out how to get the reward.

  • Compliment yourself. Write down what you would say to anyone else who accomplished what you did.
  • Create an actual plaque or trophy.
  • Give yourself badges of honor for different levels of accomplishment.
  • Take a vacation or weekend getaway.
  • Take a day off from any goal activities.
  • Put $1 in a jar every time you meet a goal. When it gets to $50, treat yourself.
  • Create a Trophy Scrapbook, where you keep mementos from your accomplishments.
  • See a movie.
  • Make a grab bag of little prizes. When you reach a significant goal, reach in and get your reward!
  • Go for a spa treatment or massage.
  • Buy yourself a gift certificate.
  • Take a limo ride.
  • Subscribe to a magazine you always wanted.
  • Go canoeing or do something outdoorsy.
  • Watch your favorite TV show.
  • Buy something for your hobby.
  • Read a funny book.
  • Celebrate "100% Days". If you reach 100% of your goals that day, choose two rewards.
  • Find some time to be by yourself.
  • Pay someone to do the yardwork or house cleaning this week.

Written by Mike Kramer, Staff Writer

How do you reward yourself? What kind of reward would most motivate you?


"When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out." David Weatherford

Positive Affirmations

Hey everyone :) I'm easing back into the blogging life after my hiatus. The time off was desperately needed, and I'm in a really good place right now :) More to come on that later ...

I wanted to share the following positive affirmation ...

What is Life but an opportunity to wake up, open up, stand up and BE YOURSELF!! It takes the courage of a Hero to be who you are! This is YOUR life to live, not someone elses! BE BRAVE!

I don't know how to describe the feeling I get when I say this out loud to myself. While on hiatus, I realized I had fallen astray, and really wasn't focusing on the things that were important. I realized I had fallen into my old habits of trying to be something for everyone, and not saving enough of me for me. As much as I love helping people, and giving encouragement and motivation to others, I think I gave too much, and stretched myself too thin. It was wrong for me to just shut down the way I did and leave people hanging, but it was almost a case of going cold turkey for a while, and just taking care of me.

I'm excited for the future, and appreciate all of your support and emails during my hiatus. You have no idea how much it meant to me! :)

My plan is to have this blog back up to "normal" on December 28th, but will be blogging here and there until then. I hope all of you are doing well, and can't wait to catch up with you!


"The ends you experience are the beginnings you've been waiting for!" @TheDailyLove

Recipe of the Week

Chef Devin Alexander's Pumpkin Pound Cake

Note from Chef Devin: I’ve been throwing you all new recipes in recent months and plan to continue that trend…except this month because I had to share this Pumpkin Pound Cake from “Fast Food Fix”, which is an all-time favorite of mine and my entire staff, especially during the holiday season!

It’s perfect for holiday baking because the batter is so versatile – I often make it into little teddy bear shapes for kids, or put them into my mini brownie pans as bite size desserts for holiday parties. If you are a pumpkin lover and have not yet tried this recipe, do it! (Please!) :) Trust me, you’ll never want to eat a full fat pumpkin pound cake ever again!

Starbucks’ Pumpkin Pound Cake (1 Slice)
Makes 8 1-piece servings.

Each piece has: 246 calories, 5 g protein, 57 g carbohydrates, trace fat, trace sat. fat, 2 g fiber

Original Starbuck’s Pumpkin Pound Cake: 310 calories, 5 g protein, 47 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 1.5 g sat. fat, 2 g fiber

Save: 64 calories, 12 g fat, 1 g sat. fat


  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
  • butter-flavored cooking spray

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a standard loaf pan (approximately 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 2-1/2 inch) with spray.
  • Sift the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, baking powder cloves and nutmeg into a medium mixing bowl. Set it aside.
  • Using a sturdy whisk, mix the sugar, yogurt, and eggs in a large mixing bowl until they are thoroughly blended. Stir in the pumpkin. Then stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake the load until a toothpick inserted into center comes out dry (it may have crumbs, but shouldn’t be wet), about 55 minutes-1 hour. Let the cake cool 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack. When it cools completely, slice it into 8 slices, each approximately 1-inch thick.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers. (Baked goods made with yogurt need to be stored in a refrigerator).
I have been a HUGE fan of Chef Devin Alexander for a long time, even before I had the pleasure of meeting her in person for a workout date in Chicago last summer. I swear by all of her cookbooks, and urge you all to go out and pick up at least one (my personal favorite is "The Most Decadent Diet Ever")! Chef Devin has a new cookbook in the works, "I Can't Believe It's Not Fattening" which will be released in March! I've already pre-ordered my copy! You should too!


"For every person who doubts you, tell you you will fail, try twice as hard to prove them wrong." Unknown

Wordless Wednesday

Did this not make you cry, or what? Congratulations Antoine and Alexandra!


"It's not where you're from; it's where you're going. It's not what you drive; it's what drives you. It's not what's on you; it's what's in you. It's not what you think; it's what you know." Gatorade commercial

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