Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Week Six - Re-program Your Brain

A diet is saying yes to the skinny jeans 
by saying NO to the donuts.     

Blake Lewis and I danced in a flash mob
performance last Saturday at 
The City Market on Commercial.Street.
We will perform the same dance again
this Saturday, 
at The City Market on Commercial Street.
with 10 other couples, 
Sept 14, 2:45 pm, 
 Springfield CultureFest

This week I put on a pair of jeans that I have not been able to wear for a very long while. And also a top that did not pucker at the buttons.  Boy was that exciting.

As you can see from my picture, I am still quite thick in the mid section, but I AM losing inches around my waist, chest, and hips, slow but sure.

I have lost just 1 more pound in the last two weeks, for a total of 10.5 lbs.  I need to stay focused and not lose my way.

Phil McGraw said, "Successful weight loss takes programming, not willpower."  I agree.  Getting our head on straight is the most important factor in changing our habits.  We must have a clear vision of what we really want to accomplish.

"When it comes to ideals of beauty and body image, we are incredibly hard on ourselves.  We need to program our minds to believe that we are healthy, thin, and beautiful already.  Now we can go out and make healthy choices that will keep us beautiful.

Stop eating mindlessly and start eating mindfully
Plan your meals in advance
Organize your kitchen
Eat more protein
Use smaller plates… and bowls
Serve yourself 20% less
Cut your food into small pieces
Eat with the wrong hand
Eat Slowly
Go for a Walk
Don't eat in front of the TV
Switch your snacks.  Even water and chewing gum can be an appetite suppressant. Choose 100 Calorie snack packs.
Keep a journal - Food, emotions, cravings, thoughts, etc.

We must use our conscious mind to reprogram our subconscious mind. THAT IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS. 

We need to re-focus on WHAT WE WANT, on our NEW desire, new behavior, and on our new CHOICES. Here we need a real REASON, a DESIRE which drives us to make different choices.
A WHY that is so much bigger than that piece of cake or processed junk food…….
  • Is it better health?
  • Is it being better looking?
  • Lighter? Sexier?
  • More mobility?
  • More energy?
  • More confidence?
  • WHY do you want to lose weight?
  • In what way will your life be different after you achieve your desired weight? 

Are you aware that only 10% of your day is governed by your conscious mind? That means 90% of your daily choices and behavior come from the stories, or the neural pathways already carved in your brain, making choices FAST.

Our job is to create the new programming that will manipulate our choices when will-power runs out. To do that, we use the power of our imagination.

YOU CAN Live the life of your dreams NOW. 
You can see it. 
You can CONSCIOUSLY start taking steps to turn that vision into your new reality.
You can visualize yourself being a smaller size, feeling elegant and attractive.  Go ahead and visualize that you are rich as well.  And we should remember always that we truly are rich in Love, friendship, intelligence, etc.  The things we can't put a price tag on.

Imagine how you FEEL buying new clothes. FEEL how they touch your healthy elegant body. 

Tell yourself positive affirmations.
I nourish my body with healthy food.
I enjoy going for daily walks to help my body become strong, fit, and healthy.  
I LOVE my body.
I am strong.  I am powerful.  My arms are not flabby, they enable me to achieve my goals.
I am strong in mind and body.
I am living a healthy lifestyle which enables me to…………..OR so I can………..

To reprogram you MUST
  • See these affirmations regularly.
  • Post these affirmations on Post-it notes around the house, in the car, OR
  • Set these messages as daily reminders in your phone.
  • Read it and FEEL IT.
Repetition is the key to creating new neural pathways so when you go to make a decision around food or exercise, your subconscious programming will start to take over, helping you move forward to a successful outcome!!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This homemade butternut squash soup is the best I’ve ever tasted! This recipe is super creamy (yet cream-less) and full of delicious butternut flavor. Leftover soup tastes even better the next day. Recipe yields about 4 bowls or 6 cups of soup.


  • 1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), halved vertically and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ cup chopped shallot (about 1 large shallot bulb)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Up to 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, to taste (substitute olive oil for dairy free/vegan soup)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash on the pan and drizzle each half with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the squash on the inside (about 1 teaspoon each). Rub the oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
  2. Turn the squash face down and roast until it is tender and completely cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes. Set the squash aside until it’s cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Then use a large spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into a bowl and discard the tough skin.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet (or large soup pot, if you’ll be serving soup from that pot), warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped shallot and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and is starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  4. Transfer the cooked shallot and garlic to your blender. Add the reserved butternut, maple syrup, nutmeg and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth, being careful not to fill the container past the maximum fill line (you can work in batches if necessary, and stir in any remaining broth later).
  5. If you would like to thin out your soup a bit more, stir in the remaining cup of broth (I used the full 4 cups, but if you used a small squash, you might want to leave it as is). Add 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, to taste, and blend well. Taste and stir in more salt and pepper, if necessary.
  6. Serve immediately (I like to top each bowl with a little more black pepper). Let leftover soup cool completely before transferring it to a proper storage container and refrigerating it for up to 4 days (leftovers taste even better the next day!). Or, freeze this soup for up to 3 months.

Garnish and Variations

Classic garnishes for Butternut Squash Soup include a dollop of sour cream, plain yogurt, or crème fraiche.  A sprinkle of minced cilantro or thyme is also tasty.

  • Creamy - Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream after blending and gently heat until warmed through.
  • Spicy - Add 1 chopped jalapeno and 1/4 tsp. cayenne with the garlic.  Stir in up to 1/4 cup brown sugar at the end.  If you like, cream is also a nice addition to this version.
  • Roasted - Roasting concentrates the flavor of the vegetables.  You can use this method with any of the other flavor combinations you like.  Put halved and seeded Squash cut-side down in a large pan.  Arrange halved and peeled onion and garlic around the squash.  Pour in 1 cup of broth and roast in a 375 F Oven until very tender, about 30 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Scoop out the squash flesh from the peel and put in a blender, along with the onions, garlic, and remaining broth.
  • Gingery - Add 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon ground ginger along with the garlic.  Make it even gingery-er by melting 4 tablespoons butter in a small frying pan.  Cook until it turns light brown and add 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger.  Swirl the ginger butter on top of each serving.
  • Warm Spices - Add a combination of 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves, cardamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, cinnamon, and/or black pepper along with the garlic.
  • Many Squash - Switch out up to 2 lbs. of the butternut squash with acorn squash.
  • Protein Packed - Whirl up to 8 oz. of soft or silken tofu into the soup.  Be sure to whirl it in the blender or food processor for a full minute or so to fully incorporate the tofu.

Shelly's Green Tomato Relish

Is it just me or is Sunday made for cooking? This past week I picked up about 20 green tomatoes.   I LOVE green tomato relish. I used to help my mother-in-law make it every fall in her kitchen, using a recipe handed down from her mother and grandmother. We would use a food grinder and it was really messy. Today I use a food processor and, although I am still a pretty messy cook, the process is way faster and easier.

Here is my recipe, which is cut down from the original.

Green Tomato Relish
20 Green Tomatoes
3 Large Red Peppers
3 Large Green Peppers
2 Large Onions

Grate vegetables in a food processor. Cook slow about 15 minutes. Drain if too much juice.

In another pot, mix together and bring to a boil;
2 Cups Cider Vinegar
3 Cups Sugar
1 TBL Salt
½ Tsp ground Cloves
½ Tsp Allspice
½ Tsp Cinnamon
½ TBL Mustard Seed
½ TBL Celery Seed
(I really love spicy relishes also and always consider adding Jalapenos, but then I don’t. I bet it would be really good though, if you like spicy)

Add to Vegetable mixture and boil another 15 minutes.

I have Mason Jars and we sell Mason Jar LIDS at Harter House. (At least for sure at 1500 E. Republic Road)

I boiled the jars to sanitize then. Then filled then full with the relish mixture. My Mother-In-Law always let the full jars stand upside down on the counter to cool, to help seal the jars. So I will do that also, because that’s the way I learned. My kitchen smells SO GOOD! A mixture of sweet and sour.

And Barbara Kauffman, you’ve got a big jar of Shelly’s Homemade Green Tomato Relish with your name on it!

This batch really made a lot too. Three large jars, three medium jars and three small jars with just a bit more that we will serve with dinner tonight. Jars do not need to be refrigerated till opened.

By the way, our dinner tonight is Harter House Baby Back Pork Ribs with Big John’s Homemade BBQ Sauce ~ Fresh from the Ozarks ~ available at both Harter House locations in Springfield.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Week Five - Don't give up

You may think that I am writing these blogs for you.  (And of course, I am.)  But I am also writing these blogs for myself.  I need to keep reminding myself that the end result of healthy eating, will be a happier, healthier "Me".  But those old habits want to creep into my daily life.  Like a Labor Day party with friends bringing dishes, and fun mixed drinks.  Just one can't hurt, right?  And then one turns into two, and all restraint takes a back seat to fun. 

It's time for an attitude check. 
It's another new day. I don't have to be perfect, I just have to keep moving in a positive direction.

Focus on water, again.  Focus on healthy, quality foods.  MORE vegetables.  I did make this delicious Southwestern Vegetable Medley for my Labor Day party.  And it was really a hit.

Focus on tracking again with MyFitnessPal.

Focus on activity.  Sometimes all it takes it getting myself out the door.
Remind yourself, "You've got this, keep going."
Positive Self-talk is good. 

I love eating out, but cooking at home ensures that I know exactly what going into my meals and how much I am actually eating.  Did I say, more vegetables?  And less carbs.

Keep some healthy snacks around like nuts and fruit.  Fruit can satisfy a sweet tooth, but don't eat too much. 

Stop eating in front of the TV.  Be aware and mindful of the delicious food you're taking in. 

Instead of rewarding myself for walking three days in a row with a pizza and milkshake (which pretty much negates the work I've just put in), I will get a new outfit or buy a new book I've been wanting. 

Make sure we are sleeping well.  This usually isn't an issue with me, but lack of sleep certainly affects us in a number of negative ways.

Review possible ways to decrease or better handle stress in our life.

Take a multivitamin and probiotic every day.

I need to remember to be kind to myself and my body.  Have patience.   I know that I am still focused and not willing to quit this journey.  I need to focus on tweaking my lifestyle and making subtle changes to my daily routines.

Paula reminded me this week, "If you don't have the environment you want, go about creating it.  There are things we cannot control, but we can influence our environment and our circumstances.  We can change.  We can try new things.  And we can start right now, right where we are.  No matter our age or our circumstances."

It's possible

Monday, September 2, 2019

Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

Well, I'm obviously ready for some spicy grilled jalapenos today.  So I thought I would share!
Of course, you'll find everything you need at Harter House and Harter House World Flavors, along with whatever your choice of grilling meats may be!!

Cheese-stuffed jalapenos are always popular when I serve these as appetizers. There’s a flavor explosion in each crisp and tender pepper.   There are many ways to spice them up.   I also have made a bacon-wrapped version.  If you scrape the jalapenos clean, they won't really be spicy, just a little heat afterwards but definitely not 'burn your mouth run screaming for a glass or five, of water'. The trick with these is to grill them slowly. If you try to cook them over the hottest part of the grill, you'll end up with crispy bacon and raw peppers.

If you're not into grilling, (But who is not into grilling?) you can bake these in the oven, I'd say about 15-20 minutes at 350, then you can finish them under the broiler if you want. 
You could also cook them in the smoker.


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or paprika
  • 10 jalapeno peppers


  • In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Cut a lengthwise slit down each pepper, leaving the stem intact; remove membranes and seeds. Fill each pepper with 1 tablespoon cheese mixture.
  • Prepare grill for indirect heat. Place peppers in a disposable foil pan. Grill, covered, over indirect medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until peppers are tender and cheese is melted. Serve warm. Yield: 10 appetizers.
 Note: You may want to wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.


Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Peppers
5 large jalapenos (or more if they're smaller)1/2 c cream cheese
1 c shredded cheddar
1 teas salt
pinch of pepper
3/4 teas smoked paprika
1 clove garlic, crushed
5 slices bacon

Slice your jalapenos from stem to tip of the pepper. Carefully open the peppers, and scrape out the seeds and white membranes. Gloves again recommended. Set the cleaned peppers aside. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic. Stuff each pepper with as much cheese mixture as you can. Wrap each pepper tightly in a slice of bacon, and secure with toothpicks or on a skewer.
Grill on the side of the grill, where it's not too hot, for anywhere from ten to twenty five minutes, depending on how hot the grill is. You can grill them on foil, so you don't ruin your grill grate with cheese. These peppers need slow heat and a little time. Let them cook so that the peppers are cooked.
Serve with ranch dressing. Or just eat as is, they're perfect.


Here's a different idea;

Beth took a few recipes and combined them to make these. She mixed cheddar cheese and cream cheese to stuff in some Jalapenos and put a little smokie in some of the others and then covered them with cream cheese. The first picture was taken before the ones with smokies had cream cheese on them and they were wrapped in bacon. She grilled them and then put them under the broiler for a bit to crisp up the bacon.

Grilled Jalapeno Poppers
cheddar cheese
cream cheese
little smokies
bacon (cut each slice in half)
Cut jalapenos in half, taking seeds out. Mix equal parts of cream cheese and cheddar cheese and 'stuff' into peppers. Wrap with bacon. For the ones with smokies: Put the smokie in the pepper, cover with cream cheese and wrap with bacon. Grill until bacon is crispy.

 OK, so this isn't grilled Jalapenos exactly, but it looked SO GOOD I thought I would share it also.

Grilled Jalapenos and Corn
with ParmesanThis is an extremely easy yet tasty side dish to prepare. This is only fun on the grill, when you can just toss all the ingredients into a strip of tinfoil, wrap it up and toss it on.

  • 1-1/2 cup corn (frozen corn works great)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon diced scallions
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper
Cooking Directions
  • Heat a grill to medium heat.
  • Add all ingredients to a long strip of tinfoil and fold the foil up around the ingredients. It should look like a big Hershey’s Kiss.
  • Set on the grill’s top rack and grill 12-15 minutes, until ingredients are nice and hot.
  • Stir and serve!

Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti

Creamy alfredo sauce, savory chicken, hearty pasta,
two delicious kinds of melty cheese — what’s not to love?!
There’s a reason why this one will always be a classic.


Chicken Baked Ziti Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces uncooked ziti (or any pasta shape)
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
  • 1 batch alfredo sauce (see below)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • toppings: lots of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, finely-chopped fresh basil or parsley

Alfredo Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


To Make The Chicken Baked Ziti:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Mist a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of well-salted boiling according to package instructions. Drain. Return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and alfredo sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.
  3. Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of cheese. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and serve immediately, sprinkled with additional toppings if desired.

To Make The Alfredo Sauce:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute one minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Sprinkle with flour, and stir to combine. Saute for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.
  2. Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Possible Variations:

There are so many ways to customize this chicken alfredo bake!  For example, feel free to…
  • Add in veggies. Broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, cauliflower, and any number of other veggies would be delicious added to this chicken alfredo recipe.  Just note that they won’t get cooked much during the 20 minutes of baking time.  So if whatever veggies you add require a longer cooking time, feel free to toss them into the boiling water with the pasta for a few minutes or sauté (or roast) them for a few minutes before adding them to the casserole.
  • Add in extra Italian herbs. If you would like an herbier chicken alfredo pasta, feel free to add some dried Italian Seasoning or chopped fresh Italian herbs into the alfredo sauce.  (Or, you can also sprinkle some chopped fresh basil on top of the pasta after baking.)
  • Nix the protein.  Not into chicken?  Feel free to use shrimp in this recipe instead.  (Or make it vegetarian and add in some extra veggies instead.)
  • Make it spicy. I really love sprinkling lots of crushed red pepper into (and on top of) this casserole to give it a bit of a kick.
  • Make it cajun. To give this recipe a Cajun twist, feel free to stir 1-2 tablespoons Cajun seasiing (to taste) into the alfredo sauce.
  • Make it gluten-free.  Just use your favorite certified gluten-free pasta, and my gluten-free alfredo sauce recipe.

This recipe comes from GimmeSomeOven.com

St. Louis Style Pork Steaks


Having been partially raised in St. Louis, Missouri I grew up on pork steaks. St. Louis pork steaks are "steaks" that are cut from a pork butt. One recipe calls for the meat to be seared over a hot charcoal fire and then braised in a mixture of beer and barbecue sauce. How can you possibly go wrong with that?  ~~Shelly

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

These are really simple, but the results are spectacular. I use a basic salt and pepper seasoning with a little garlic. I'd urge those of you that are barbecue masters to resist the urge to over-complicate things by adding a bunch of extra ingredients.

Start with steaks from Harter House.

4 large Pork steaks
3 Tbs Kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbs Black pepper, ground fresh
2 tsp Granulated garlic (not "powdered")
16 oz Beer (I used Bud Light)
18 oz Your favorite barbecue sauce (I used KC Masterpiece)

Note: You’ll also need two 9×13 disposable aluminum roaster pans.

Combine the salt, pepper and garlic in a small bowl and mix well.
Season both sides of each steak liberally with the seasoning, then place them in zip-top bags and refrigerate at least three hours, or overnight.

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Start your grill and prepare for direct cooking over high heat (450-500º). Sear the steaks on each side.

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

While the steaks are searing, combine the beer and barbecue sauce in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

 Put the steaks in a single layer into the disposable aluminum pans and cover them with the beer mixture, putting half of the beer and barbecue sauce mixture into each pan.

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Cover the pans tightly with foil.

Move your coals to one side of the grill for indirect cooking. Put the pans on the side of the grill opposite the coals and cook, indirect, for 90 minutes.

Note: Add charcoal as needed to keep the temperature at about 350º throughout the rest of the cooking time.

Remove the steaks from the pans and quickly sear them over direct heat (about 2 minutes per side). Remove to a platter and let rest for about five minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

St. Louis Pork Steaks (via patiodaddiobbq.com)

Makes about 6 servings