Oktoberfest

Breaking news: dieting while traveling is hard. Dieting while traveling during Oktoberfest season is just plain rough.

20120930-164535.jpg

This is the best time of year, if you’re a beer-lover like myself. Coffee drinkers know that it’s the fall season when cafes start selling Pumpkin Spice lattes. Beer connoisseurs know that autumn is imminent when they see the Oktoberfest hit the shelves.

20120930-164747.jpg

When I was going to school up in Oshkosh, we had a grocery store with a liquor department that was – quite literally – the size of a Walgreens. Aisles and aisles of wine, not only separated by “red” and “white,” but by grape and by country. Amazing. Every kind of liquor from the boku bucks top shelf stuff, to the $8 – 1.75L of Aristocrat vodka. Pure class.

A few times during the fall, I’d find myself drawn to the wall of beer: 6 bottles for $6. Twist my arm. I’d pick out 6 different Oktoberfest beers and enjoy them over the next few days. A few of my favorites: Sam Adams (Boston, MA), Leinenkugel’s (Chippewa Falls, WI), and Sprecher (Glendale, WI).

So far, we have been to and stayed in Wichita, Dallas, Texarkana, Tulsa, and Amarillo. Most things are either deep-fried, barbecued, or slathered in the restaurant’s “world famous homemade sauce.” Sometimes all three. I’ve been skipping the homemade sauce (or getting it on the side), and doing my best to estimate portions. Licking the plate clean is not advised on the Weight Watchers plan.

There are lots of local brews on tap, with different regional takes on the autumn seasonal beer. As traveling musicians, a part of our payment for performing is food and drink. I haven’t had my first Oktoberfest yet — a pint averages 5-8 points (or a 6 inch Subway sub…). A girl’s gotta eat.

20120930-171455.jpg

I have decided that today is the day. The Packers are playing. We have a show tonight at a place called the Dirty Bourbon Western Dance Hall & Saloon. I’m going to order my first Oktoberfest of the year, and officially kick start the fall season. Better late than never. 😉

Pictured: New Belgium Hoptoberfest

20120930-172516.jpg

On the road: first stop, Kansas!

6:07am — I left the house this morning, protein bar in one hand, luggage in the other. The sun is coming up later and later these days, which makes it easier to sleep in. Not today. 🙂

I got to the airport by 6:30am (thanks, mom and dad!), and boarded a flight to Kansas City to meet up with Tony for 3 weeks out west.

20120924-103814.jpg

20120924-103831.jpg

I weighed in before I left the house, and I’m happy to say that I have lost 17 pounds so far. I’m working hard at it, but I’m starting to feel really optimistic that I will actually do it this time. A handful of people have started to notice. There are few sweeter words than, “Have you lost weight?” Thank you all. 🙂

I’m curbside, waiting for Tony to pick me up. It’s a gorgeous day. Day one of the tour, and day one of the diet on tour. So far, so good. We are playing at a place in Wichita, KS tonight called The Pumphouse. Part of the deal is a free meal. Thank God for online menus. I’m planning my day in the back corner of my mind, but mostly, I am just so excited to see Tony and to see a whole new part of the country.

20120924-105435.jpg

Now the challenge will be to have an awesome time, maintain the self-control and determination I’ve kept for the past 7 weeks, but not erase all the progress I’ve made.

My posts will probably be shorter. More focused on food, travel, and one of my favorite things: regional food. Photos to come. 🙂 Until then, thank you so much to everyone who’s been reading and encouraging me — it means so much!

Cheers!

Lesleigh

a few of my favorite things: travel, food, and music

Hello all. 🙂

I haven’t kept to my weekly post regimen, as it’s been an exceptionally busy few weeks. Before I get into this, let me happily announce that I have passed the 15-pound mark. 🙂 In all the blogging about food, I haven’t talked much about anything else that I do. In my intro blog, I mentioned that I am a registered nurse. I am also a musician. My husband (Tony) is a singer-songwriter/guitarist, and I play keyboard and sing in our band. A big part of my life revolves around music and travel.

Twice each year, Tony and I hit the road for several weeks and tour the country in support of our music. This is my favorite time of year. I work 7 days on, 7 days off at my full time job, so if I save up my vacation, I can have 3 weeks off in a row. It’s pretty awesome.

Tony and I have been to 33(ish?) of the 50 states so far. We’ve toured up and down the east coast 7 times, with stops in between. We’ve been to the south. We have never gone west… until next week. 🙂 Tony and I will be going as far south as Texas, all the way out to California, north as far as Oregon, through Colorado, the Dakotas, and back home. (Please check out the route here!)

Traveling and dieting are not always an awesome combo, especially when you are a traveling musician. Tony and I love to sample the local cuisine. Philly Cheesesteak. A New York slice. For a splurge, a little Maine lobster. We also try to eat as frugally as possible, since dining out for 3-5 weeks tends to add up. I’ve never been “dieting” while we’ve been on tour, so I’ve been working on strategy and trying to figure out how this is going to go. We’re going to be in some completely new parts of the country on this tour, and I want to experience it fully. Nothing says “Welcome to Fisherman’s Wharf!” like a Special K protein bar and some lukewarm grapes. There will be seafood. It’s also fall, which means a few things. Oktoberfest. Microbreweries. Pumpkin Stout. So long, Miller 64. See you in a few weeks.

Also… I will be away from the scale for 3 weeks, and my daily routine will be completely different. Long drives in the car. Camping. Playing music. Being paid partially in bar food and drink. This will be a big test, as I won’t be able to track my progress, and that first weigh-in when I get home might be interesting. We shall see…

My next blog will probably be from the road. Until then, I leave you with a recipe. Thanks for reading! 🙂

Egg Roll meets Wonton

You will need:
— wonton wrappers
— one bag of cole slaw mix
— one can of mushrooms
— minced garlic (as much or as little as you want. I used 1 tablespoon)
— 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
— soy sauce (one teaspoon or so)
— salt and pepper (to taste)
— cooking spray or olive oil (cooking spray = zero points)
— a muffin/cupcake tin

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine cole slaw, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper in microwave-safe bowl, cover, and heat for 3-5 minutes.
3. Open microwave. Your kitchen will smell of egg rolls.
4. Stir up the mixture until seasonings are evening blended. The cole slaw should be soft and “wilty,” like the innards of an egg roll. See where we’re going with this?
5. Spray each muffin/cupcake compartment with cooking spray until coated.
6. Place one wonton wrapper in each compartment and press down to form a “cup,” if you will.
7. Spoon the cole slaw mixture into each wonton.
8. Top off with another spray of cooking spray.
9. Place in oven. Cook for 10-15 minutes until edges become golden brown and crispy.
Sidenote. You can purchase actual egg roll wrappers and roll ’em up. You can add more soy sauce. You can use less soy sauce. You can pretty much do whatever you’ d like. These are your egg rolls now. Enjoy. 🙂

Wisconsin weekend

This past weekend was a quintessential Wisconsin weekend. Tony and I were invited to attend the wedding of a friend and former co-worker of mine. We drove “up north” (which is a term that can loosely describe any and all parts of Wisconsin about 45 miles north of Milwaukee) and spent the weekend with great friends. A beautiful wedding for an awesome couple, and a day at Lambeau Field for the Packer game. Polka, cream puffs, Packers, beer, brats, cheeseheads, the Frozen Tundra (not frozen yet. Probably by next month). I couldn’t have made this weekend more quintessentially Wisconsin, unless I would’ve ridden up the shores of Lake Michigan on the back of a 30-point buck, or a large badger.

Of course, now that my focus is primarily on food, I have been budgeting for this weekend since last Monday. How can I have a great time and not pass on all the ‘good stuff,’ and at the same time, not gain 13 pounds? I exercised a lot of restraint. I saved room for the good stuff. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes at the wedding reception. Yes, please. I skipped the cake. I drank in moderation. And oh, how we danced…

I did really well at the game, too. I did partake in a few adult beverages from the homeland. There are few things better than an ice cold Miller at Lambeau Field. It wasn’t a particularly active day, sitting in the stands. If I could earn activity points or burn calories for screaming at referees, I’d be in pretty awesome shape.

Monday: weigh-in day. Up 3 pounds.

@(*$#&%@)!*#%

That’s ok. Probably water weight, right? And I haven’t had that kind of food in a while, so I knew I’d have to backtrack a little. Still, 3 pounds? Not an awesome way to start the week, but I wasn’t completely discouraged. I went back to my normal routine, and I drank a ton of water yesterday. I didn’t let that setback kick me into the panic mode: I’m only eating lettuce today. I made shrimp scampi for dinner and had a glass of wine, and called it a day.

It’s only recommended that you weigh-in weekly, instead of daily. The fluctuation that occurs on a daily basis can either make you think you’re doing more awesome than you really are, or it can be completely discouraging. Still, I weighed in today, just to see…

Down 3.5 pounds.

@#(*#*%!_*!!!!!!!! (that’s good)

I had a great time this weekend, and I am happy to say that I’m almost at the 15 pound mark. I was hoping that I didn’t speak too soon, stemming from my last post of the whole “everything in moderation” mantra. It’s actually true! Who knew.

So now that I’m in a good mood, here are a few more pictures from the weekend. Tony says he can already tell that I’m “looking more trim.” God bless him.

substitutions and non-negotiables

I’m not a rocket scientist, but it seems like the common denominator in all healthy and successful weight loss plans boils down to moderation and balance. In order to walk that line of moderation and balance, you have to get creative. When you can’t get creative enough, you have to prioritize what you want, and what you can’t live without. As I said in my last post, I’ve been experimenting and trying to define my non-negotiables, and I’ve been getting creative and finding substitutions.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me just give you a brief rundown on the Weight Watchers plan. The name of the game is low fat, low carbs, high fiber and protein. Each food holds a “point” value, and you are allotted a certain number of points per day, depending on your weight, gender, activity level, etc. There is a reserve bank of points each week, in case of those “Surprise, we’re going out for pizza tonight” nights. Fruit and vegetables are zero points, with a few exceptions. Ok, here we go.

Let’s start with the substitutions. These are not ironclad. They just help to make room for the non-negotiables that I’ll talk about in a few minutes (depending on how fast you read).

Faux-tatoes. Now hear me out. I love potatoes in every way, shape, and form they come in. I just wiped a tiny bit of drool from the corner of my mouth. HOWEVER… an average potato is about 5-6 points, and that is without any of the trimmings. Time to get creative. Believe it or not, cauliflower is pretty awesome. If you bust up a head of cauliflower into 1″x1″ pieces, cover with cooking spray or olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake at 400 for about 45 minutes, they taste like tater tots. If you boil cauliflower, puree in a food processor, and add salt, pepper, garlic, chives, and margarine (or “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray, which is ZERO points), mashed potatoes. Better yet, bake this concoction until it starts to brown on top: twice-baked faux-tatoes. It’s not totally the same, but in a pinch, it can work as a nice substitution.

Cheese. Sidenote: like I said, I live in Wisconsin. Cheese is sacred and not to be messed with. However, hear me out. If we are talking melted cheese to accompany a mushroom swiss burger, I have discovered that Laughing Cow cheese wedges work nicely on sandwiches, and things of this nature. They are one point per wedge, vs. 4 points for a slice of actual real life cheese. Just think it over. That 3 points may make or break you at the end of the day.

Goat cheese. Speaking of cheese… this is a quick one. If you like vodka sauce (1/2 cup = 4 points) with your pasta (1 cup = 5 points), try combining plain Hunt’s tomato sauce (zero points) with one tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese (1 point). Delicious. You’re welcome. 😉

Cocktails. This is a tough one. A shot of your typical liquor is 4 points. Yikes. Skinny Girl makes a few types of margaritas, as well as pina colada, cosmopolitan, and sangria, at about 1 point for 4 ounces. Not too bad. Still, you’re out of luck if the Dirty Martini is your drink of choice (6-8 points).

Now, the non-negotiables. These are the things that you need to budget/prioritize for. At least I do…

CHOCOLATE. Stereotypical female, yes. But there’s really nothing better than a good piece (or 12) of chocolate. My latest weakness is Dove dark chocolate Promises. A serving size of 5 pieces will cost 6 points. The vaguely-empowering and sometimes awkwardly-cryptic sayings inside the wrappers are zero points.

Pasta. Pasta isn’t sooooo bad for you, but it does add points up quickly. One cup of your average pasta is 5 points. Add sauce and cheese, and it can turn into a 10-point entree that’s not super filling. Measure carefully, chew slowly.

Bread. I haven’t found a good substitute for bread. Usually if it’s of the “low carb/high fiber” variety, it tastes nothing short of a ceiling tile. Sometimes you just want a warm french baguette: 4-6 points, sans beurre (without butter.. haha?).

Potatoes. My name is Lesleigh, and I like Carbohydrates. Other than a quick fix of transformative cauliflower, there really is no substitution for an actual potato. Baked. Fried. Hashed and browned. My advice: plan accordingly, and have the potato.

Craft beer. Again, Wisconsin. We make good beer. My husband and I travel a lot, and we love to try new beers. Your standard amber is about 7 p0ints for 12 ounces. That’s the worst news I’ve typed all day. When the makers of Skinny Girl bring us Skinny Boy Oktoberfest, I will give it a shot. However, the season is upon us, and I will be planning accordingly for that beer.

Long story short: don’t completely eliminate the good stuff. See if you can improvise. If you can’t, then make room. Do it wholeheartedly, and don’t regret it. Everything in moderation…