Tricking My Sweet Tooth

I had a high metabolism. I could eat anything I wanted and not gain weight. Life was good until I went to the dentist.

“Which is worse on my teeth, Mountain Dew or Hershey’s Kisses?”

“Both!”

All the fun ended when I hit that birthday beginning with a 4. The metabolism slowed down, and even worse, I had to take regular rounds of Prednisone. When you take steroids, you don’t feel hungry but starving!

I will never forget the day I went to the doctor and the nurse told me I lost 5 pounds. I replied, “It only took 10 years.”

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

My mom loved to bake. We had dessert at lunch and at dinner – or is that dinner and supper. Anyway, I liked having something sweet at the end of a meal.

When I stepped down from my job and my clothes no longer fit, I had two reasons to give up Mountain Dew: 1) I couldn’t afford it, and 2) I couldn’t afford new clothes. I switched to sweet tea instead.

I took my coffee with 2 scoops of sugar and 2 creamers for years. I cut back there by using a dollop of whipping cream and 1 teaspoon of sugar. (There are natural sugars in the cream.)

Now that I had my drinking under control . . . ( No, wait, I never did acquire a taste for alcohol – just sugar) . . . I decided to curb my desserts. I switched to eating dessert at lunch and a few pips of a Hershey’s candy bar at supper. That took self-control that I didn’t really have.

I started making homemade trail mix. There are enough M & M’s in it to satisfy my sweet tooth and I measure it out, one-fourth a cup, in snack size bags for portion control.

My biggest weakness – well after chocolate – is ice cream. I loved having a big bowl at lunch, preferably on top of a banana! I started getting ice cream cones and reduced my consumption by two-thirds.

I was also buying yogurt, but it would spoil before I could get it all eaten up. I came up with a plan. I scooped one-fourth cup of Yogurt into muffin tins and froze them.

Freezing Yogurt in Muffin Tins "Tricking My Sweet Tooth" frugalfish.org

Then I removed them from the pan and placed them in a plastic ziplock bag.

Individual Frozen Yogurt "Tricking My Sweet Tooth" frugalfish.org

I put one in a bowl in the refrigerator 3 hours before lunch to partially thaw. Then I make a frozen yogurt cone! It is much cheaper freezing it myself and healthier than eating ice cream.

Homemade Frozen Yogurt Cone "Tricking My Sweet Tooth" frugalfish.org

Last night I made David some green tea. I brewed it on the stove and my son suggested I add honey to it. That could be my next step!

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Combine Leftovers for a New Dish

I hate hot dogs!

I feel the same about bologna. My kids try to trick me into eating hot dogs as a joke. I will buy them and serve them along with several hamburgers. They can have the hot dogs, but I will stick to the burgers.

It’s crazy how those who manufacture hot dog buns do not make the same amount as found in a package of hot dogs. Sometimes, I make mini sub sandwiches with the leftover buns. Last week I had a leftover hot dog bun and leftover taco meat. I combined them to make a taco sub sandwich.

Taco Sub "Combine Leftovers for a New Dish" frugalfish.org

When you have leftover taco meat you can make taco soup, taco salad, burritos, enchiladas, taco casserole, or taco pizza. You can make garlic bread out of leftover hot dog buns, cut them up for stuffing or reduce them to bread crumbs.

Look in your refrigerator. There are probably leftovers that you could combine to make a new dish or a new sandwich!

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Leftover Candy

I grumbled to myself when I saw the Valentine heart-shaped box on the kitchen table. “When will my son ever learn to take his stuff to his room?” When he came home for lunch, he came back to the office and said, “Here, Mom, this is for you!” #eatingcrow

His father brought home an even larger Valentine heart and white roses. (I baked him his favorite – my famous cherry pie.) While he spoiled me by making pork chops, cheesy potatoes (in a muffin tin), and mixed vegetables, I pondered what to do with all that chocolate! I decided to share a few ways to use up leftover candy.

Valentine's Day Candy

Serve It

My daughter gave me a box of Russell Stover’s chocolates on my birthday at the end of October. I put it in the freezer and served it with the other desserts at Thanksgiving.

Bake It

Those “Hershey’s Chocolate Hugs and Kisses” would be great on top of peanut butter cookies or thumbprint cookies. Cut the “Russell Stover’s Candy” up and use in place of chocolate chips or to decorate a chocolate dessert.

Craft It

Two weeks ago, I showed you some Valentine pins my friend Whitney crafted out of Conversation Hearts. Those are a few years old!

Conversation Hearts Pin

Split It

When I got down to the last handful of “Mike and Ike’s,” I split them into single servings. I placed them in a muffin paper and left it in the cup holder of my husband’s recliner. It was an early Valentine!

Candy in a Cup Holder

Accent It

Last week, I wrapped my niece’s birthday gift in wrapping paper covered with desserts and candy. I taped “Mike and Ike’s” over the jelly beans in coordinating colors. I taped “Lifesavers” over the “lifesavers” on the paper. When she got the present she started eating the candy right away. My package was a hit!

Birthday Gift

Candy Taped to Package

Hide It

The last thing you want to do is eat the candy all by yourself. I have a large bag of lifesavers in the ottoman in the living room with the quilts. My hope is that others will eat one or two each time they get out a quilt. If I leave them on the counter, I will eat them all – one at a time. Right now both of my Valentines are sitting on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Chocolate freezes well, too.

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Rename It

Today I will do my favorite thing . . . tell on one of my kids!

I received a text from my son telling me he and his girlfriend would be there for dinner a few hours later. The only thing thawed out was one cooked chicken breast. How would that feed four people?

“Chicken à la King”

I shredded the chicken breast and made “Chicken A La King.” I have made this dish before and he didn’t like it. Once when I made it, I called it “Chicken and Gravy.” He still wouldn’t eat it.

This time, I said, “You like beef stroganoff, this is chicken stroganoff.” He had three helpings!

Renaming a dish does not always work. David’s grandmother tried to get his sister to eat rice by calling it “Shredded Pizza.” I guess you have to choose a name that is close to what you are serving. “Shredded Pizza” would have shredded pizza crust, not rice.

Anyway, my tip for the day is to rename a dish your child refuses to eat. I don’t have a picture because I finished it off for lunch. (Sorry.) But you can see what the first step looks like above.

Chicken à la King

  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1-1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1-1/4 Cup Turkey or Chicken Broth
  • 1 Can Mushrooms
  • 1 Cooked Chicken Breast, Shredded
  • 6 Cooked and Mashed Potatoes

Melt butter; blend in flour, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk, broth, and liquid from the can of mushrooms. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and chicken; heat through. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Rename it “Chicken Stroganoff!”

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Resolved: More Weight, Food, Spending; Less Organizing, Travel, Reading

You read that title correctly. My resolution this year is to eat more food, gain weight, and spend more. I also plan on less organizing, travel, and reading.

More Weight

I can thank Jenny Kuhn for this resolution. Here is a picture of Jenny and me, with her daughter Kathryn, around 2005.

Jenny, Katie, & I "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

She moved to Arkansas and opened Jenny’s Gym. Last October, she competed in the World Powerlifting Alliance competition in Portland, OR. She is now the WPA-APA World Powerlifting record holder in the squat and the deadlift for the 45-49 age group in the 132# weight class. She also broke the previously held accumulative world record (squat+bench+deadlift), see here.

Jenny lifting in her gym "Resolved . . " frugalfish.org

 

Jenny regularly posts clips of her clients lifting. Most of the clips are of middle-aged women who are strength training. Sometimes she posts informational clips. When she explained the proper way to do a push-up, it changed my life.Jenny Kuhn "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

I usually tried doing push-ups from my knees, but that does not use all the muscles correctly. You need the same form as you would use to plank. Now I do them off of the kitchen counter and will move to the ottoman when my arms are stronger. If I do not keep control of my arms, I bump my forehead! I know I am using the correct form now.

Since muscle is heavier than fat, I plan on gaining weight this year. I want to gain muscle, not fat, and will concentrate on that instead of my bathroom scale!

Eat More

For the past few years, I would weigh myself on Monday and plan my meals based on that number. It didn’t work! I would gain a pound and then try to cut way back on my food. Of course, that pound stubbornly stayed.

This year I am going to work my body and feed it what it needs. I will eat bigger servings of salad, vegetables, and more meat. I never have been a big bread eater, but my sweet tooth is my downfall. That is where I will cut back.

More Spending

I am a saver and try to buy everything on sale. That is not always possible. This year, I want to buy things when I need them and not do without. I have lived under the poverty level during childhood and as a mother. I have no problem telling the difference between a need, a want, and a desire.

In my wallet now are 2 months worth of allowance! I also have a note of a few things I need to order. (Hello, sports bra!) I have watched the sales for over a year and have the money. I just need to get online and order it!

Less Organizing

Marla Cilley, aka The FlyLady, says over and over, “You can’t organize clutter.” But I can, and that is the problem! I organize things that I should send to Goodwill or pass on to family members.

There is a box with “Graduation” written on it in my pantry. My youngest graduated in 2015. I am hanging on to it for my sister-in-law, Melinda. I need to just give it to her, even though Brayden doesn’t graduate for another year.

Less Travel

I will no longer feel guilty for staying at home. There are many opportunities to go places and do things, but if I have to take a round of Prednisone to go, it is just not worth it! (Or worse, go without Prednisone and then fight a flare for two weeks.) I don’t care that I only go out 3 times a week for four hours. I have so much I love to do right here at home.

I know my Facebook page is boring, but I refuse to compare myself to others. I will travel vicariously with my friends. (Sorry, Jill, I have no desire to go clear up to the Arctic Circle. Enjoy your trip!)

I really enjoy the posts from Australia on the travel blog, outan’about.com. It was interesting reading about celebrating Christmas during their summer!

Less Reading

I can speed read. It is a blessing and a curse. I would normally go to the library and fill a large bag with 18 books every other month. (No, that is not a typo; it is eighteen books.) We have a great library that is always getting new books and the community buys books in memory of loved ones.

Obviously, I don’t watch TV at night, in fact, I will only watch a movie once. My family will put in a movie, and if I have already seen it, I go to bed and pick up a book. I can read a 300-page book in 2 or 3 days. The problem is, I get close to the renewal date and I speed read through my stash. That is not as enjoyable as slowly reading, savoring, and even taking quotes from books.

This year, I will only check out 8 books at a time and will make sure one of those books is nonfiction. I am on chapter 2 of the book, “Smarter Faster Better” by Charles Duhigg. There are many things I would like to do, but I get bogged down in laundry and cooking. I want to make those tasks more efficient to allow time for fun stuff!

Smarter Faster Better book "Resolved . . ." frugalfish.org

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” Dave Ramsey

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Last Taste of Summer

“Summer-in-October Record Warmth,”

weather.com, 10-20-16

It sure felt like summer at the beginning of this week. I was grateful we have central air and do not rely on window air conditioners! The thing I will miss the most from summer is the fresh strawberries!

My sister, Michele, has a thriving strawberry patch. (I did not get that gene. I planted and killed 2 strawberry patches and the plants that were supposed to grow in a “strawberry pot!”) Michele made jam with just strawberries and sugar. I could eat it with a spoon.

This week I got to the bottom of the last jar. Sigh.Empty jar of jam "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

I wanted to stretch that jam as far as possible. There were still some pieces on the side. I was making sweet tea and decided to fill the jar with the hot concentrated tea.Tea in jam jar "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

My last taste of summer was strawberry tea!Strawberry tea "Last Taste of Summer" frugalfish.org

You can see other ways I flavored my tea here.

Another way I am squeezing the last of summer out is by using a fan in my front window to blow the warm air into the back of the house, see here and here. For other ways to delay running the furnace, see here.

What is your favorite summer treat?

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What’s in the Frig?

We had just returned from a weekend away, where we ate at really nice restaurants. We even tried new foods! I wanted something fancy for dinner. I asked the all important question –

“What’s in the frig?”

There was pork thawed out and fresh peaches. There was also some fresh kale the mysteriously turned up. (Sometimes, my daughter leaves things she decides she doesn’t like, but this time, it was from my son’s girlfriend.)

I went online and found a recipe for “Pork with Peaches” and another one for “Sautéed Kale.” I followed the directions a felt a bit like a chef. I baked a potato to go with those dishes. I was pleased with the results. My meal was just as colorful as the ones in restaurants.Potatoes, Pork, Peaches, and Kale on a plate.

The next time you want something fancy, start by asking the question, “What’s in the frig?”

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Where to Store Ice Packs in the Freezer

Last week I cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer. I keep my freezer organized by using baskets. One is for frozen fruits and two are for meat.

I used to keep my spices and vegetables in the door but ended up moving the smaller spice bottles because they break when frozen. I hated having cilantro spread across the floor of the freezer. You can see my former spices storage here. With fewer spices stored in the door, I am able to keep the shredded cheese there.

One thing that I hated to see taking up space was the ice packs. They take a lot of space and they are worthless unless they are frozen. I decided to line them up along the back of the freezer behind the baskets. There was plenty of room and the baskets did not touch the door. When stored in the back, they stay frozen solid.Ice packs in back of freezer.

Now if I could only get rid of the contraband that my son put in my freezer…”State Fair Corn Dogs.” Why? 1) A frozen corn dog can never compare to a hot one served at the fair. 2) I hate hot dogs. 3) He never shares anyway. (Sigh)

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Bacon Cheeseburger Macaroni

This casserole has been a hit at my house. I use the Cheap Cheese Sauce recipe for the macaroni and cheese.

Bacon Cheeseburger Macaroni

1 lb. Ground Beef

1/2 lb. Bacon

1 Tablespoon Dry Diced Onion

Salt and Pepper

7 Ounces Macaroni Shells

Cheap Cheese Sauce

1 c. Sliced Pickles

Ketchup and Mustard

Cook bacon until crisp, dice. Cook ground beef with the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Make the cheese sauce. Combine the macaroni and cheese. Add the hamburger, bacon, and pickles. Drizzle with ketchup and mustard. Fold together. It’s best if you don’t combine them completely. Then you are surprised when you taste ketchup or mustard.Macaroni and cheese with beef and bacon

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Stretching Syrup

Monday was David’s birthday and he asked for homemade waffles for breakfast. I reminded him that we still had some blueberry syrup left, but when we got out the jar, it was almost empty.

I was not going without blueberry syrup on my waffle!

I added a tablespoon of corn syrup to the bottle. Corn syrup and blueberry syrup

I shook the bottle well,  to get the bits of blueberry off the sides, and turned it upside down. Upside down jar of blueberry syrup

By the time I finished making the rest of the waffles, the syrup and blueberry bits were down at the bottom of the bottle. There was plenty!Waffle on a plate

I used a spatula to scrape the batter off of the measuring cup and bowl. I used my finger to scrape the extra batter off of the spatula and found there was enough for one more waffle. Waffle

Always use every last drop!

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