Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Epic Plan

I turned 29 this month. It's my last year in my 30s and like many people at this mile marker, I'm feeling as though I let myself down. In the days following my party I had a great conversation with a friend about who we used to be and how awesome those people were.
Then one day on my long drive home from work I devised a multi-part plan on how to make this next year a truly epic one.  I pieced it together here and as you start thinking about your plans for the new year I hope this inspires you to create your own plan for an Epic Year.

Part A:
Live like it’s 2001 all over again.
I will remember 18 year old me and how epic she was. That person is still inside me. She was able to do everything and be everywhere and kick ass the whole while. The 18 year old me knew that the world was within her grasp. She was afraid but refused to show it. She had doubts but never doubted her ability to do anything she set her mind to. When she lacked self confidence she found a way to restore it.
She has worked hard all her life and juggled multiple jobs at a time alongside high school and college. The 18 year old me never would have let one of those responsibilities be done in a half-assed way.

18 year old me had drive and determination that nobody could take away.

18 year old me wouldn’t let anyone slow her down.

18 year old me kicked ass.

Part B:
Appreciate Scars
Falling hurts, and I will not discount that pain. I will however learn to appreciate the scars, the lessons and the knowledge that came from the fall. I will approach each imperfection on my skin and on my heart as though they are trophies.

I survived THAT!

My failures are not to be hidden.

I had the opportunity to fall flat on my face and I was able to get up.

I moved on.

I am stronger and wiser because of these scars.

Part C:
Be a healthier me.
I am not a cactus. I cannot sit in the blazing sun all day. I will seek emotional shade from friends, family and
those who can help. I will not let myself burn and fade away to nothing.
I will eat food that nourishes both my body and my soul. I will share these foods with others and encourage them to be better.
I will move. Everyday I will appreciate my ability to move.
If I can run I will run.
If I feel like leaping I will leap.
And on the days where I can barely move one foot in front of the other I will...

I will because I can.

Part D:
I will live with a thankful heart.
I will not let anger and jealousy take root. I will appreciate every smile and every tear. Everyday I am alive is a reason to be thankful and I will not go another day without appreciating those days.

Every breath.

Every moment.

Every thing.

May this next year be an epic year for you as well.
Happy New Year everyone!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pie Waffles

I've been obsessed with making waffles since I got my waffle iron two years ago. I make them nearly every weekend and I have a steady freezer supply to hold me over during the week.
This obsession has lead to some really great waffle flavors like my Cinnamon Roll Waffles, Gingerbread Waffles, Apple Pie Waffles and the popular Mango Waffles with Raspberry Sauce.
The version I began making since my diet modifications is egg free and made with whole wheat. Sounds like cardboard I know, but trust me they are moist and full of flavor.

This flavor is perfect for the holidays and will tide all your guests over until your big holiday meal.

Whole Wheat
Pumpkin Pie Waffles

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 stevia packets
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tbsp pumpkin pie seasoning
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another. Then slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix lightly. (Warning: Over mixing the batter will lead to coasters and doorstops.) Pour this delicious batter into your preheated waffle iron. I feel like I don't need to tell you this, but you should take the waffle out of the waffle iron when it is done...this ranges based on your particular waffle iron. Just don't forget about them or you'll have wasted deliciousness and that, dear friends, is a holiday crime.

Top each waffle with sugar-free fat-free whipped topping and sugar-free syrup or 100% pure maple syrup. I love this waffle so much that I make it on a weekly basis. Even though we only make it through one or 2 of the 4 waffles, I use up all the batter and freeze any uneaten waffles. This makes having a quick breakfast in the morning a breeze because I just toss a frozen waffle in the toaster.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Smoked Cream Cheese

There are a few things in this world I can't live without:

Grilled Sandwiches

But right at the top of that list is CHEESE. I love cheese!
I love cheesy jokes!
I love cheesin it up in front of the camera!
I LOVE cheese!

Now I'm not sure if you know this, but cheese isn't very healthy. Sure a 1-ounce serving can supply up to a third of your daily calcium, plus protein and vitamin D, but there is a lot of fat in most of it. And while I'm thankful for the fat-free American singles on my grilled cheese sandwiches (THANKS KRAFT!!) it doesn't always do the trick for me.  Sometimes you need something creamier...a little richer...with more flavor...something completely indulgent.

I was at a friends house recently and was introduced to smoked cream cheese. Immediately I was depressed  knowing something THAT amazing existed and I couldn't have it. I also tasted it to confirm my misery.

Well in a style very typical of me, I was consumed by a stubbornness to recreate the magic.  I spent the next few days researching cold smokers and temperatures, along with the durations and tools needed to accomplish this feat.
It wasn't until I was on my way to Home Depot to pick up the supplies that it hit me. LIQUID SMOKE!? Could it work? Would it be nasty? How expensive is it? How long will it take me to get to the grocery store from here traveling at approximately 60 miles per hour and assuming there is no traffic?
Truthfully none of that mattered, I had to try it.
After a measly $3.50 I realized that I had created something magical. Completely...utterly...magical. It was so magical that I remade it for blogger night with Three and a Half Stones To Go along with my Turkey & Stuffing Meatballs.

Let me introduce you to your new friend:
Smoked Cream Cheese - Hypo Style
2 tbsp liquid smoke
1/2 cup water
1 block fat free cream cheese
garlic powder
Tabasco sauce
Montreal Steak Seasoning
ground black pepper
Find a dish that will fit the cream cheese with only a little room for liquid. (I used one of those Hillshire Farms lunch meat containers.) Mix the liquid smoke and water into that container. Add the cream cheese block. Allow this to sit for 20-30 minutes. The longer it sits the smokier it will taste. After your desired time is up drain all the liquid off the cheese. Drizzle the block with a little Tabasco, then coat it lightly with the seasonings. Press those seasonings gently into the block and serve.

This tastes amazing on everything from cucumbers to crackers to my coworkers breakfast sandwich. I didn't actually try the sandwich, but the sound effects he made after each bite lead me to believe that I am awesome.
I'll also be using this in my Baked Jalapeno Poppers to bribe people in the near future...I just have to find the right victims  things to ask for  people.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Turkey & Stuffing Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce

Blogger nights are so much fun for me. I get to see a great friend, make delicious food, enjoy (a few too many) drinks and share our great discoveries with you lovely people. This month was all about appetizers and while we wrestled with the names (all of which are too horrible to repeat) we dominated on the dishes. far as the name of our event, I think we settled on Skinnytizers...don't judge, the other ones were much worse.

Bree over at Three and a Half Stones to Go made these spicy garlic shrimp things that I am remaking for dinner one night this week. She also made this delicious veggie cup with low fat feta and basil. Be sure to stop over and give her some blogger love.

In honor of my love of Thanksgiving food (and holiday food because to me the holidays are just an excuse to make more Thanksgiving food) I decided to mix all the flavors of the meal into an easy to share appetizer. I also made this AMAZING smoked cream cheese which you'll hear about later this week.

Anyway on to the deliciousness...

Turkey & Stuffing Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce
1 cup low sugar cranberry juice
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 packet plain gelatin

3 egg whites
1 package cornbread stuffing mix
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup celery
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 lb. ground turkey
For the sauce:
Bring cranberry juice to a boil. Dissolve brown sugar into juice. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin, then the orange juice. Put in the freezer to get a nice quick chill and allow the mixture to solidify slightly.
Preheat oven to 375˚F. In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Shape into 1" balls or take the cheater route and use an ice cream scoop. Place these on a greased cookie sheet. (I like to cover the pan in tin foil to make clean up easier.) Bake for 20-30 minutes until browned. Serve the yummy balls topped with the cranberry sauce or alongside it like I did for easy dipping.

It tastes like the holidays but waaaaaay fewer calories.
This recipe made about 60 meatballs and each meatball with sauce counts for about 40 calories. The best part is how incredibly low the fat content it. Total fat is .4 grams per meatball and only .1 grams of saturated fat. You'd also count this as a carb and protein serving so make sure you mix in a side of roasted veggies if you are looking for the full meal effect.

What sort of meal revisions are you making to help you survive the holidays in the same pant size?

I take part in Simply Indulgent Tuesdays.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Banana Bread Makeover

Around my house there is always a poor pathetic banana that doesn't get eaten when it should. Those bruised and neglected bananas get peeled and put into the banana bag in the freezer. Once the banana bag has grown to contain 3 discarded bananas I get excited for bread, but not just any bread, my mom's super moist and flavorful banana bread. Her recipe is so good that I've given loaves out for Christmas many years in a row.  Now that I write this I realize how sad it was that it took 6 bananas (6!?) for me to realize I could revamp her recipe into something I could enjoy without guilt.

Now I just need to name it...

Butter Free Bread
Nearly Fat Free Banana Bread
Best Most Healthiest Banana Bread
Better Than Mom's Banana Bread
Banana Bread so good you could cry
I dream of Banana Bread

I've got about we stick with
Banana Bread
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin
4 egg whites
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c white flour
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking soda
3 overly ripe, then frozen, then thawed bananas
1 extra ripe mashed banana
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter extract
Preheat oven to 350. Using an electric mixer, blend the sugar and pumpkin together. Then add in the flours, salt, and baking soda. Don't over mix. Next add in the remaining ingredients and beat until just combined. Prepare your loaf pans or muffin tins by spraying with olive oil and dusting with flour. Pour mixture into loaf pans or muffin tins and bake until a toothpick comes back clean. Depending on what you are making (loaf, mini loaves or muffins) this can take anywhere from 20-50 minutes.

So here is the comparison:

When I first calculated all of this I was pretty disappointed. The calorie count wasn't that greatly reduced, and the amount of sugar actually went up! How could I tell other people about this amazing recipe and honestly endorse it?!?! Well I'll tell you how:
1) Do you see what happened to the fat content? One serving lost 5 grams of fat, 3 of which were saturated.
2) Heeeelllloooo added nutrients!
3) The makeover dropped 32.1 grams of cholesterol.
4) 4 WW+ points before. Now only  3 WW+ points.
And lastly 5) Because it is really really really good!

Try it, you won't be disappointed, and if you are I will totally take the stuff you don't want. Actually, could you make it and just send me one or 2 samples please?

Shared at: Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Healthier Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Fried Onions

Green Bean Casserole is hands down my favorite thanksgiving food. Thanksgiving dinner could contain all sorts of weird things, but as long as the casserole was there I would be happy. Because of this I knew I could tackle a makeover for Skinnygiving with fellow blogger Bree from Three and a Half Stones to Go.

Up alternative to french fried onions. While not as crispy as the store bought brand, these onions are loaded with flavor and missing all the fat. 
Baked -not- Fried Onions

2 Medium Onions, sliced thinly
2 cups fat free milk
4 tbs whole wheat flour
Olive oil spray
Slice onions into tiny little pieces. Soak them in milk for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450. Spray a pan with olive oil.  Drain milk from onions. Add flour to bowl and use forks to toss them until they are covered. (trust me on the forks thing, otherwise your hands will be covered). Add more flour if they look soggy. Soggy = bad.
Add to pan making sure they aren't crowded. Bake for until the onions are crispy. Sprinkle with salt to season. You can make these ahead of time and store them in an airtight container until you are ready for them.

Mushroom Gravy
1 tbs olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
3 tbs cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup fat free milk
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
In a skillet, saute sliced mushrooms in olive oil until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and add broth to the mushroomy pan. Bring to a boil, while scraping bottom of pan to include all that delicious mushroomyness in the gravy. Whisk together cornstarch and water until all clumps are dissolved. Slowly add this mixture to the pan, be sure to whisk constantly while it thickens to form a smooth sauce. Add milk, cooked mushrooms and seasonings. Return to a boil and allow the mixture to thicken.

To serve, top the freshly steamed beans with the mushroom gravy. Sprinkle with fried onions. While this is not the same as the casserole I grew up with, it does satisfy the craving. Plus, at the end of the meal I feel much better about a plate full of this than the alternative.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spinach & Walnut Chicken Roulades with Pan Gravy

Roulade... that sounds fancy doesn't it. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I have never tried to roll anything inside meat before. It sounded delicious and it looked beautiful, but it seemed too intimidating.
I am now educated.
Had I known how easy this really was I would have been rolling meaty things long ago. It starts with violently beating an innocent piece of meat, and turns into something delicious... how can that be bad?! I know it sounds wrong, but I think this process will be my new mental coping mechanism for dealing with difficult people. Just imagine turning that mean spirited neighbor into a beautiful roulade. I feel better already!

This month I joined up with my friend and fellow blogger from Three and a Half Stones To Go to prove that holiday fare doesn't need to be filled with fat. Skinnygiving was a huge success!!

We limited our event to 4 dishes to prevent obnoxious amounts of leftovers. She created an amazing Brown Rice Stuffing with chicken sausage and apples and was so good. She also made a Crustless Fat Free Pumpkin Pie which I remade for a group tonight and they DEVOURED it. The bowl was literally scraped clean.

I tackled the green bean casserole and a dish to rival any turkey.
Spinach & Walnut Chicken Roulades with Pan Gravy
4 chicken breasts
1 package spinach
1 tbs garlic
1 tsp oil
Crumbled blue cheese
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Place chicken in plastic wrap and use a rolling pin or saute pan to pound the chicken nice and flat. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a saute pan add the oil and garlic, add spinach in handfuls and allow to wilt.
Then you start the fun assembly.
Divide your spinach into 4 segments. Each flattened breast gets one quarter of the spinach, some blue cheese and walnuts. This next part seemed intimidating before, but it's so simple. All you need to do is start rolling one end and secure with a toothpick.

Add the rolls to a heated pan (that you sprayed with olive oil) and allow them to get nice and golden on all sides. Cover and let cook an additional 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. Remove from pan and add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and be sure to scrape the pan so your gravy will include all the delicious flavor left from the chicken.
In a cup whisk the cornstarch with cold water. Slowly add this mixture into the boiling stock. Whisk constantly until thick. Serve chicken topped with gravy.

The other dish I tackled that evening was a skinny green bean casserole. It was delicious and I promise to share it soon. For now I'll be dreaming of excuses to make these dishes again.

Have you made a roulade before?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Curried Butternut Bisque

I love this recipe because it is uses a lot of free exchanges. You can read more about it in my original post about butternut squash. In the meantime you must try this cold weather escape.

It's weird to look back and see how much I trouble I had with butternut squash, and compare it to how much I crave it now.

Curried Butternut Bisque
1 cup leftover roasted butternut squash
1 cup water
1 tsp chicken boullion powder
2 tbs shredded unsweetened coconut flake
3 tsp chopped ginger from the jar
1/2 tbs curry
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp olive oil
Combine leftover squash and water in a blender. I used the Magic Bullet and it was indeed magical. Blend until it resembles baby food and there are no visible chunks. Heat the ginger and coconut in olive oil in a small sauce pan for a few minutes. Pour in the squash blend. Add boullion, curry, cumin and stir until heated through.

Serve with 1 tbs fat free sour cream (free exchange) and enjoy.

What other ways do you enjoy butternut squash?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Latin Inspired Quinoa

What is Quinoa?
Well I just learned how to say it recently. It was rather embarrassing and the grocery store clerk looked at me as though I was speaking another language. For the record the correct way is ˈkiːnwɑ. I know this because she said it several times...and looked it up to make sure she wasn't a trickster.
Quinoa grains contain essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. It's an ancient "grain" native to South America and was once called "the gold of the Incas," who recognized its value in increasing the stamina of their warriors. It has been shown to do many things including reduce migraines (due to it's high vitamin B content) and provide cardiovascular health. It's also gluten free!
Moral of the story is that it's good for you! Don't believe me read more here, here, and here.

Latin Inspired Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup chopped cilantro, fresh of course
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons lime juice
Salt to taste
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped green chiles
Chopped cucumber
Soak quinoa for 5 min (or longer if you forget about them) in the pan. (Soaking helps quinoa to cook evenly, and loosens up any residue of saponin, which can give a bitter taste.) Return to the pan, add broth and salt. Bring to simmer, cover and cook 20-25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Add cilantro, scallions and lime juice to the quinoa; mix and fluff with a fork. To serve, allow people to add their own tomatoes, chiles and cucumber. This would also be a great way to add in your leftover shredded carrots or chopped green peppers.

What's your favorite way to enjoy quinoa?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fighting the War on Sugar

I have a major sweet tooth. Anyone around me can attest to that. The weird thing is that my daughter doesn't really like sweets. Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise given the fact that I ate cake every day during the last 5 months of my pregnancy. The point here is that I LOVE cake... and sweets... and maybe I love them a little too much. It's the kinda love that has me dreaming about vacations together on an island in the sun. (Sorry family it's just me and the cake this time.)

So there are moments (a lot of moments) that I'm jealous of my daughter. I wish I didn't like sweets. There are many days when it feels like an addiction. In fact, research shows that sugar activates some of the same parts of the brain as heroin does. Heroin! So it's no wonder that when I get that hint of refined white sugar the gates open. Then I spend the next few days (sometimes weeks) trying to kill that craving.

We all get it I'm sure...maybe with different foods. Sometimes cravings are healthy and serve to tell us what our body needs. In the case of these sweets... well we just don't need them.

Here are a few tools that I found to help me get over the call of the sugar:

Infrared Sauna:
An Infrared Sauna uses infrared heaters to emit infrared radiant heat which is absorbed directly into the human body, unlike traditional saunas which heat the body indirectly via air or steam. Since saunas increase perspiration, they are able to liberate "toxins." For those of you in the Seattle/Tacoma area Eco Chic Salon & Spa is a great place to enjoy this type of sauna. When I was first diagnosed this really helped. I went about once a week for the first month and would encourage anyone I know to give it a try. It is by no means an instant fix, but it helped.

If I get plenty of sleep the cravings aren't as intense. However, I'm not good about getting enough sleep...not at all. On average I get about 6-7 hours. By no means is it reason to see a doctor, but I'm being honest in that I know it helps. Sometimes, something as simple as a quick nap can keep me from being waist deep in homemade marshmallows.

This goes back to that whole "your body will tell you what it needs" philosophy. If I'm not getting enough potassium, my body should give me that you need a banana craving. Vitamin B has been particularly helpful, but I am also deficient on several B vitamins.  When I stay current on my vitamins (and I take a lot of them) cravings aren't deafening.

Healthy Snacks:
As a hypoglycemic it is important to eat every few hours. Skipping snacks causes blood sugar levels to dip which signals a craving that you need sugar. Each snack should contain a whole grain and a protein. This takes planning and it is important to keep emergency snacks on hand for when you might forget to pack something.

Recipe Makeovers:
Sometimes cravings are very specific. For example a few weeks ago I wanted pumpkin raisin cookies. I wanted them sooooo badly. Luckily I knew I could tweak it into a healthier version. Which I did, and it was exactly what I needed. If it's something you can't shake, and it has been around for days, try to reinvent it.

This is my final line of defense. At this point I have the plate of cake in hand. It is nearly the point of defeat. However, if I can reach for a glass of water (or sometimes 2) I might be able to put it down and walk away. For me the odds are 50/50. That's not a great percent, but in all those cases where I still had the sweet, I ate much less of it. Give it a try sometime... it really does help.

Fighting the War on Sugar isn't easy
It's about finding what weapons work for you. It's about understanding your triggers and learning to avoid them. But more than anything it is about taking care of your body. You can read more about other options in fighting the war on sugar here.

What tools do you use to avoid sugar?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fat Free Pumpkin Raisin Cookies

Nothing says fall like pumpkin. I love the smell, the taste and the anticipation of all the pumpkin flavored foods. This year I resolved to make a healthier version, and I nailed it!

It took me awhile to make sure I could call these fat free. With only 70 calories and .2 grams of total fat I was certain it had to count as something. So I looked it up, and according to the FDA a food may be considered fat-free, if it has 0.5 g of fat or less per serving. A saturated-fat-free food must contain less than 0.5 g of saturated fat and less than 0.5 g of trans fats.You can read more about that here. But basically it means that 2 cookies still count as fat free!

These cookies are really more of a muffin texture. If you decide you'd prefer muffins just pour the batter in the muffin tin. Personally I hate cleaning out the muffin pans, so I went the cookie route on rounds 2 and 3 of this recipe. You also have to admit that eating a cookie for breakfast is much more fun than eating a muffin. Enjoy!

Fat Free Pumpkin  Raisin Cookies
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie seasoning
3/4 cup canned plain pumpkin puree
3/4 cup raisins
6 tablespoons egg whites
1/3 cup apple juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray. Whisk dry ingredients together. Add in the remaining ingredients. Stir until no traces of dry ingredients remain. Drop the batter by level tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, spacing the cookies 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until firm to the touch and lightly golden on top, 10 to 12 minutes. Store in an airtight container or pop into the freezer for later.

Calories    70.4
Total Fat   0.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg,
Sodium     105.0 mg
Potassium     99.4 mg
Total Carbs     16.1 g
Dietary Fiber     1.3 g
Sugars         5.1 g
Protein     2.0 g

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Baked Crab Rangoons

I've said it before... but there is nothing like cooking with friends. I met up with Bree for our much anticipated Hypo/Three Stones Asian Night and it was a HUGE success! She made these amazing Fresh Rolls that were filled with sprouts, shrimp and other goodness. If I hadn't seen her make them I would have thought they were impossibly difficult, but they weren't so TRY THEM!
For this event I decided to give one of my most requested dishes a healthy makeover. Crab Rangoons are typically deep fried and super fattening, but I proved that they don't have to be fatty to be delicious.

Practically Fat Free Baked Crab Rangoons
1 package imitation crab
1 package fat free cream cheese, softened
3 stalks green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 package wonton wrappers
In medium bowl, combine all ingredients except wonton wrappers. Mix until well blended. Place a glob of this amazing mixture in center of each wonton wrapper. Using your finger or a pastry brush, moisten just the edges of the wrapper with water. Fold in half to form triangle, pressing edges to seal. Arrange on baking sheet that has been coated with vegetable spray. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with strawberry jalapeno pepper jelly. Here's a quick recipe in case you aren't the type that makes batches of this to freeze: Combine 1 cup sugar free strawberry jelly with enough jalapenos to give it a good heat. Put this mixture in your food processor until it is nicely evenly mixed.

Each time I make these the amount I get varies based on how much filling I stuff into them. This time it created 36 delicious rangoons. Each one is about 36 calories and .2 grams fat with NO saturated fat. While that doesn't give you the excuse to finish the pan by should remove the guilt of treating yourself to a few extra.

I also decided to whip up a few Brown Rice California Rolls. I love love love sushi and making it is much more affordable than picking it up from the store. Be sure to check out my instructions here.

Join us next month for Skinnygiving as we tackle our favorite holiday feast foods.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays for 10/4/2011.

Monday, September 26, 2011


Goodbye Summer. I feel like I barely saw you this year. Now suddenly I feel your cold breeze and I know you are leaving me. I'm not going to hide these tears, because maybe... just maybe they'll bring you back to me sooner. I'll miss you, and I'll always remember the treasured afternoon moments reading a book and enjoying a nice cold cup of gazpacho.

Summer Lovin' Gazpacho
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 ribs celery, quartered
1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced
1/2 cup vegetable juice cocktail
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Combine everything but the tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Blend only a few seconds, until the vegetables are finely chopped and well mixed, but NOT smooth! Add the chopped tomato; chill. Serve very cold.

So one might think that because there are only veggies here that it must only count as veggie servings. That is right and wrong.  Anytime you have more than 1 1/2 cups of cooked vegetables or 3 cups or more of raw vegetables in a meal, count them as one carbohydrate exchange.
Generally one veggie serving usually contains 5 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of protein, no fat and only 25 calories. So it works out to 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 1 cup raw vegetables for an exchange.
This recipe, divided into 5, makes your dinner veggie servings. If you choose to make it more of a meal and divided into anything less than 5 portions be sure to count it as a carb.

Nutrition based on 5 large servings.
Calories    53.52
Total Fat   0.4g
Saturated Fat  0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 192 mg
Potassium 529.7 mg
Total Carbs 11.36 g
Dietary Fiber 2.64 g
Sugars 3.92 g
Protein 2.16 g
Vitamin A 36.6 %
Vitamin B-6 8.3 %
Vitamin C 87.4 %

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cottage Cheese Enchiladas with Cilantro Pesto

The best part about having friends that hold you accountable to a diet or lifestyle change is sharing the tips and tricks that you've both learned along the way. If you are lucky enough to have one of those friends, send them a cyber hug right now! If you are not that lucky, I am for hire...send me your name, and aspirations and I'll torment you with tips and advice. I might even send you pictures like this one below that make you go "Huh?! No way is that healthy!" But I'll be right (as I usually am) and it will be chock full of flavor and low in calories and saturated fat. You'll thank me.

Cottage Cheese Enchiladas with Cilantro Pesto

10 whole grain tortillas
2 cups fat free cottage cheese
8-10 oz fresh spinach, wilted slightly over low heat

For the Cilantro Pesto
2 cups cilantro, leaves only, chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup slivered almonds
¼ cup garlic, chopped
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Mix everything together in a mini blender or magic bullet until it forms a paste. Set aside.

For the Red Sauce
1½ cups tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup tomato purée
½ teaspoon chicken bouillon
Mix everything together in a blender. Transfer to a sauce pan and cook for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Using a brush (or your preferably clean hands), cover tortillas with the pesto. I found it easiest to cover and stack until all the tortillas were covered. Then it’s filling time! Make sure to have your glass baking dish nearby  so you can fill and drop them into the pan. Each tortillas gets about 2 tablespoons of cottage cheese and a handful of spinach. Basically the name of the game is to make sure you have enough to fill all the tortillas evenly. No one wants an all spinach enchilada, or just cheese. In the words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work people, make it work.”
So once each tortilla has been filled, you roll it and put it in the pan. Once the pan is full, top all that amazingness with the red sauce you cooked up. Move the dish into the oven for 10 minutes or until it is heated through.

These were soooo good! Even the leftovers were good cold. And check out that Tequila Chicken and Pico and Baked Onion Rings and SKINNY Margarita made by Bree of Three and a Half Stones to Go. She is seriously amazing and these recipes were perfect for our Hypo/Three Stones Mexican BBQ.  In fact the whole event was so much fun that a tradition has been started and we'll be meeting next month for an Asian twist.

In case you don't believe me that these are pretty darn healthy... take a look. The biggest win here is in the saturated fat content. A typical cheese enchilada contains 21 grams of fat, with 12 of those being from saturated fat.  I'm not willing to sacrifice 12 of my 15 allowed grams of saturated fat to a single enchilada. Here it costs only 2.7 grams, and the nutritional boost is something your mother would be proud of.

Nutrition Facts
Makes 10 Enchiladas

One enchilada is equal to 10 Weight Watchers PointsPlus
Calories    361.1
Total Fat   17.1 g
  Saturated Fat              2.7 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat     2.4 g
  Monounsaturated Fat   9.8 g
Cholesterol      7.8 mg
Sodium        707.3 mg
Potassium    322.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate     38.0 g
Dietary Fiber      4.0 g
Sugars        6.1 g
Protein      18.5 g

Vitamin A          47.5 %
Vitamin B-12       7.8 %
Vitamin B-6       11.1 %
Vitamin C          20.5 %
Vitamin D            0.0 %
Vitamin E           10.6 %
Calcium                9.2 %
Copper                8.1 %
Folate                15.4 %
Iron                    13.4 %
Magnesium         10.0 %
Manganese         26.0 %
Niacin                  3.7 %
Pantothenic Acid  2.8 %
Phosphorus        11.5 %
Riboflavin           11.6 %
Selenium             11.2 %
Thiamin                 5.4 %
Zinc                      4.9 %

So there you have it. Forward this to your mother so she knows you eat well (occasionally), and get your friends together for a healthy night of cooking.  Your waist line will thank you!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Polenta Party...take 2.

A few weeks ago I had one of my besties visit from Kansas.
Having seen the original Polenta Party published on this blog (Oh yeah! I got followers woop woop!), she was excited to be a part of another. Here are some of our creations and some great ideas for party food. The next person to visit and request a Polenta Party will get the honor of deviating from the pre-made packages of polenta (which are still delicious and very convenient) and graduating with me to a baked home made dish.

Obviously not all these versions are hypo/Swank friendly, but the best part of a Polenta Party is allowing people to make versions that they like and can enjoy.

Polenta cream cheese, ham and dill pickle
Polenta, ham, dill pickle, pepper jack and spicy mustard

Polenta, cream cheese, chicken and jalepeno

Polenta, cream cheese, bacon and cheddar

Polenta, chicken, pepperoni, cheddar, pizza sauce, parmesan

Polenta, chicken, mango salsa and jalepeno

Monday, August 15, 2011

Breakin' the rules

When is it ok to break the rules? Is it ok to cheat on your diet occasionally?
I've convinced myself that enjoying a toasted marshmallow, or allowing portion control to fly out the window occasionally is ok.
90% of the time I follow the Hypo Rules but I allow myself that 10% to enjoy special occasions. Is that wrong? I'm really not sure what to think at this point.

This weekend we stopped at a Mexican restaurant before our long drive home, and a friend made a comment that really stuck. After reading every item in the 6 page menu I was very frustrated. I signaled to the husband that I needed help finding something "safe". That's when the friend chimed in with "Why don't you just cheat like you did last night with the marshmallows?"
Wow...what do you say to that?  I know it was meant to be "You are on vacation, relax with all the rules." But it really got me thinking. Obviously cheating is bad. The rules that I follow are there for a reason, but here's how I look at it:

1) Some rules are more important than others. If I don't eat my required veggies and fruits at each meal it will not effect me the way that Pop Rocks and a can of Coke will.

2) Occasionally portions can be thrown out the window. If 90% of the time you follow the strict 1200 calories a day, allowing yourself to splurge is ok every once in a while. Sitting in a restaurant and portioning out food leaves me feeling deprived and jealous and angry. If I go into the meal thinking that I am allowed to eat until I am full like everyone else...well I feel better about my situation. That does not mean that overindulging is ok, however I am guilty of that this weekend as well. (Lesson learned after the most uncomfortable 4 hour car ride ever!)

3) Hypo rules and MS rules are not equal. Both sets of dietary restrictions are important. But if given the choice between a marshmallow (can you tell I love marshmallows) and buttery popcorn. I will choose the marshmallow (I love them sooo much). Breaking a hypo rule will have me feeling different right away...and I know how to fix it. Breaking an MS rule, with red meat, or butter or other fatty food isn't something I feel right away. I avoid those things actively because I do not want to have another MS episode, and because I believe that these changes will make a difference in my long term health. 

4) Use small cheats to avoid big binges. Let's talk about marshmallows again. My willpower could allow me to resist the deliciously toasted gooeyness, but I promise you that my mind will stay on them for weeks. You might be talking to me about family, boy drama or work woes but all I see is a giant talking marshmallow in front of me. It won't take much longer for me to bust out the Weber grill at home and toast till the bag is gone. Same with hand full can prevent me from sneaking the bag out to the garage for some solitary snacking.

I guess this is all boiling down to tracking and accountability. After the most disappointing weigh-in since starting this new lifestyle I feel the need to prove to people that I follow the rules. I'm aware that I don't need to literally show people what I eat constantly, but it would be nice to say "I am allowed this treat and I can prove it." I was once great about documenting everything I ate, but as I got comfortable with my food choices, I stopped. So back to the tracking I go...but I'd love to know your opinions on diet cheating.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Grilled Swordfish

It was a case of the confused dinner. He thought I said grilled chicken for dinner, I said grilled chicken for tomorrow night (duh, it has to defrost). How we ended up with a swordfish fillet is a mystery...

Ok, it isn't a mystery. The husband was picking up milk after a phone call revealed our confusion and on a creepy walk-by of the meat department he saw it was on sale.

It all worked out in the end, and it turns out swordfish is pretty darn good.

There are a few reasons why I sit here in adoration:
1) Tastes like chicken, but is super moist.
2) Absorbs flavor very well.
3) Low in calories, high in protein.

Here's what the magician whipped up:
 Grilled Swordfish
1 tablespoon garlic
1/4 tablespoon basil or 1 tablespoon fresh, finely chopped
1/4 tablespoon dried mint or 1 tablespoon fresh, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup lemon juice
2 swordfish fillets (about 12 ounces total)

Heat the grill to a nice medium-high heat. Whisk garlic, basil, mint, oil, and lemon juice together in a medium bowl. Brush the swordfish steaks with the mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, put that side face down on the grill. Brush and season the remaining tops and flip once while grilling. This takes about 3 minutes per side. Enjoy!

By the way, the FDA recommends that young children, pregnant women, and women of child-bearing age not eat swordfish because the high levels of mercury.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Vegetable Mind Games-Eggplant

When I picked up my CSA basket and saw purple I wasn't sure if I should be excited or bummed out. Eggplant was something I had been hoping for... but I didn't think that through. What on earth do you make with this stuff?!? So after several days of staring at the alien looking bulb that hid in my fridge and scouring the internet, I devised a plan. Ratatouille. Not knowing what eggplant would taste like on it's own, I figured hiding it in with other veggies I already liked would be smart. (Aka; I could pick it out if it was nasty and eat the rest of the veggies.)
Now, I'm not the type of person to carefully layer veggies and wait while it bakes so I knew that I needed something easier. In fact, if I was gonna make ratatouille, it needed to be quick enough to make during the week, and tasty enough that I would want to. After consulting a co-workers wife, Regana, who is not intimidated by alien looking vegetables, the Weeknight Ratatouille was born.

Weeknight Ratatouille
1 eggplant
4 zucchini (or 2 zucchini and 1 large yellow squash)
1 onion
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 package sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 tomatoes (depending on size)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Chop the eggplant and zucchini into bite sized pieces. Slice the onion into strips.  Add olive oil to a very large skillet and add the eggplant, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, garlic and seasonings. Saute until the eggplant is brown. Chop the tomatoes into bite sized pieces. Add those tomatoes and the can of stewed tomatoes to the pot with the veggies. Cook another 10-20 minutes. I personally like to eat this over rice, couscous or on a piece of whole wheat toast, but it is really good on its own.

There is nothing in this dish that is considered a starchy veggie, all the veggies in this dish actually count as veggies! One word of caution though... it is REALLY easy to overeat on this because it's so good. One serving is 1/2 cup. If you have it for dinner you can get away with 1 cup to fulfill the 2 veggie requirement. If you manage to eat 1 1/2 cups don't beat yourself up...just count it as your carb for that meal.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vegetable Mind Games - Creamy Spinach

Back again with spinach, why? Because it is super healthy. Duh.
When someone first mentioned Creamed Spinach to me, I have to admit that I turned up my nose. It didn't sound appealing in anyway and I honestly have no idea what made me decide to try it.
Perhaps I figured that it wasn't a big loss if it failed. After all a bag of spinach is fairly cheap, so if it bombed I could throw it away guilt free.

Well, we definately did not throw it away. In fact, my husband stole my test version so I made another batch. Plus I picked up more spinach to make it again this week. Let me introduce you to my new comfort food:

Creamy Spinach with Garlic
1 tbs garlic, minced
1 tbs olive oil  
1 bag (10 oz) fresh spinach
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1 tablespoon garlic power
2 tbs Parmesan
1/8 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute garlic and add in handfuls of spinach, allowing them to wilt before adding another. Once all the spinach is in the pan, reduce the heat, add in sour cream, seasonings and Parmesan. Remove from heat and let rest a minute before serving.

Compared to classic Creamed Spinach that can cost you as much as 280 points and 23 grams of fat, 15 of that are from saturated fat, this is so much better for you. I do have the benefit of not ever having the calorie laden version, so I'd love to know how they compare and if this really can quench that craving.

This recipe was divided into 3 one cup servings. One cup of cooked spinach is equal to 2 vegetable servings.
A serving of this delicious Creamy Spinach will also cost you 1.5 fat and your free exchange.
Calories     123.5
Total Fat     7.1 g
     Saturated Fat     2.7 g

     Polyunsaturated Fat     0.8 g
     Monounsaturated Fat     3.3 g
Cholesterol     6.7 mg
Sodium     312.4 mg
Potassium     550.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate     9.3 g
     Dietary Fiber     2.9 g
     Sugars     3.1 g
Protein     8.4 g

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Low Fat Chicken Gyros

I love gyros but my favorite restaurant ones are not allowed anymore because of the fat content. I've wanted to make a healthy Chicken Gyro for a very, very long time, and I haven't. That was a mistake. I am sorry.
To make things right you, I will eat these Gyros every day this week. What, you want a bite? No, I'm not sharing with you! Are you nuts?! Make your own!
Ok, fine... just a bite though...

Chicken Gyros - Hypo Style
Tzatziki Sauce
1 large seedless cucumber
1 cup fat free sour cream
2 tablespoons Greek seasoning
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dill

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 white onion, diced
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons Greek Seasoning
salt and pepper

Other Stuff
3-4 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/2 white onion, sliced
6 whole wheat pita bread circles

Shred cucumber and squeeze all liquid out using a cheese cloth or towel. Mix cucumber and remaining sauce ingredients together. Chill in the fridge at least 30 minutes, overnight is best if you have that sort of planning ability.
Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Combine the chicken, onion, parsley, Greek seasoning and olive oil in a skillet. Cook on medium heat until the chicken is done.
To serve, warm the pita in the oven or microwave. Slice in half and fill each pocket with chicken, tomatoes and cucumber sauce.  If your pitas fail to open into a nice pocket like mine did, just make them taco style by piling the ingredients on top and folding the pita in half.

As you can see from the picture, I clearly did not follow portion control. Normally (if I behaved) this meal will provide you with 1 carb, 2 protien, 1 veggie, 1/2 fat. Mine looked more like 2 carb, 4 protien, 1 veggie, 1 fat.
I'd feel bad, but at a whopping 353(ish) calories, it didn't break the caloric bank.

When behaving you can round out your dinner with a Spinach and Strawberry salad with light garlic vinaigrette and sunflower seeds to add on the remaining 1 1/2 allowed fat, the 1 fruit serving and another veggie. This meal was so incredibly good and healthy that I had to share the nutrition as calculated by the Spark Recipe Calculator.
(Please note that this makes 12 hypo servings. If you are feeding real people, increase the amount accordingly.)

Nutrition Facts  12 Hypo Sized Servings
  Calories 176.5
  Total Fat 1.9 g
       Saturated Fat  0.5 g
       Polyunsaturated Fat  0.5 g
       Monounsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Cholesterol 34.8 mg
Sodium224.7 mg
Potassium 322.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 22.9 g
     Dietary Fiber  2.9 g
     Sugars  1.9 g
Protein 17.6 g

Vitamin A               6.0 %             Vitamin B-12               3.6 %
Vitamin B-6           21.2 %            Vitamin C                     9.3 %
Vitamin D              0.0 %              Vitamin E                      2.3 %
Calcium                 4.5 %              Copper                         7.4 %
Folate                    5.0 %              Iron                              8.6 %
Magnesium            10.8 %            Manganese                   30.3 %
Niacin                    36.9 %            Phosphorus                  20.3 %   
Riboflavin               5.5 %              Selenium                      34.7 %   
Thiamin                  11.2 %            Zinc                             6.7 %

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Vegetable Mind Games - Zucchini Fries

I've wanted to like zucchini for awhile. Ok, let me rephrase, I've wanted to like zucchini in a form other than Zucchini Bread for awhile. (Note to self: Hurry up and make a whole-wheat, low-fat, sugar-free zucchini bread...or cake.)

Anyway, the first time I tried this method I cut the zucchini into rounds and breaded them shake and bake style by tossing them in a bag. It didn't really work, the coverage was less even and more clumpy. I also tried a higher heat for a shorter time, and I had to force feed myself the mess I made.

I had all but given up on the idea of zucchini chips when my CSA tossed them into my weekly fruit and veggie basket. Not one to waste food, I knew I had to give them another chance. I'm seriously glad I did. Maybe I should start giving all veggies a second chance.

Zucchini Fries
4 zucchini, cut into wedges
3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tablespoon Greek seasoning
1/2 tablespoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
2 egg whites
Preheat the oven to 425. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan and seasonings on a plate. Crack the egg whites into a bowl. Dip zucchini wedges into the egg whites, then dredge through the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip them and bake another 10 minutes.

You can't shouldn't have fries with out a dip, it's just weird.
And speaking of weird, you gotta try this sauce with your zucchini fries.
Zucchini Fry Sauce
1/2 cup Vodka Sauce (or leftover spaghetti sauce)
2 tablespoons Frank's Hot Sauce
Mix. Heat. Dip. Eat. Smile.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Whole Wheat Mango Waffles with Raspberry Sauce

When I first considered making waffles for my friend who was visiting from Kansas, I didn't think I could pull off an egg-free, sugar-free, whole wheat waffle. I was also convinced we'd have to break out the syrup to combat the dry whole wheat texture. I was so very, very wrong. These waffles were amazing!

 Whole Wheat Mango Waffles
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stevia packet
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 cup vanilla flavored almond milk
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter extract
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 large mango, chopped
Mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another.   Then slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ones and mix lightly. (Over mixing the batter leads to tough waffles that can be used to defend against home invaders.) Once everything is combined. Add in half of the chopped mango. Before you pour this delicious batter into your preheated waffle iron, make sure your raspberry sauce is ready and waiting.
    Raspberry Sauce
    1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
    1 tbsp honey
    1 tbsp butter extract
    2 tbsp water
    Add all ingredients to a small sauce pan.  Bring to a boil. Stir frequently to break apart berries. Remove from heat when it's hot and looks saucy.

    Top each waffle with raspberry sauce and the remaining mango. This same recipe also tastes great with Strawberry Sauce (same ingredients as above, only change the berry). Not to brag or anything, but they are my new favorite waffle. For those of you who love sugar and don't need to part with it...try this recipe served with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

    This recipe makes 4 large waffles with toppings. If you eat the whole thing you'll take in 394 calories, 8.8 grams of fat (of that, only 1.2 are saturated), 253.6mg of Potassium, 7.9g Fiber, 10g Protein and more vitamins than I have time to re-type.

    The MS Badge

    Oye vay! I finally get my head wrapped around the hypoglycemia lifestyle and now it's changing. After a stressful month of doctors and tests and waiting, I get to add the Multiple Sclerosis Badge to my medical sash. Well...technically I don't get the badge yet. You see, the MRI and the spinal tap confirmed MS but I've only had an isolated episode.

    So now I wait and pray the next one isn't bad.  Thankfully I have a great neurologist who isn't pushing me to medicate at this point. If I wanted the medicine, it would involve daily shots of Copaxone. (, not with the estimated 30% success rate. Seriously, would you go to Vegas with those odds?) Instead the doctor suggested that I try the Swank Diet. This is a low saturated fat diet that is backed by a 34-year study of people with MS who followed his diet and how it helped. So I'm thinking, 'Diet? Yeah, I know how to do that, bring it on.'

    Here are the rules:
    1. Saturated fat should not exceed 15 grams per day
    2. Unsaturated fat (oils) should be kept to 20-50 grams per day
    3. No red meat or pork for the first year; after that, a maximum of 3 oz. (85 grams) of red meat per week
    4. Dairy products must contain 1% or less butterfat
    5. No processed foods containing saturated fat
    6. A good source of omega-3 (oily fish, cod liver oil, cod liver oil tablets, etc.) along with a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement are recommended daily
    7. Wheat, gluten or dairy product quantities are not restricted. But foods which cause allergies or reactions to an MS sufferer should be avoided.
    This seemed easy enough at first. However, I quickly learned that I had no idea how much saturated fat was in anything I was eating. The first big change came with my cherished cheese and crackers. They had come to be my safety snack at work, but they can no longer be a regular visitor because of the saturated fat found in most cheeses. That same day my family accidentally tortured me with their dinner of hot dogs and french fries. The meltdown that followed resembled one of a teenager losing her car. "But I LOVE hot dogs, and everyone else gets to eat it. It's not fair!! What am I gonna have nooooow!?"
    Clearly I wasn't taking this well. By no means was this like the meltdowns I had when I was diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia, but it still made the books.

    In all fairness, I'm sure that anyone wrapping their head around one restrictive diet, and then having to integrate another has probably had one of these moments. It's confusing and frustrating. Hopefully there isn't anyone out there struggling to learn both of these diets, but in case there are, I will share what I learn as I go. Future recipes will still follow the hypo rules but also be lower in saturated fat, and will be beef and pork free for the year. Perhaps I'm being naive, but if this could help me avoid an episode it is worth the struggle. And perhaps, after a year of this I'll have totally earned a Swank/Hypo Badge.
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