Book Club: Initial thoughts on Salt, Sugar, Fat

I’m a little way into the book I bought a few weeks ago, Michael Moss’s Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. The introduction shows us the heads of massive food corporations, in a closed-door meeting where a vice president of Kraft presented information about the childhood obesity epidemic. While acknowledging responsibility for the problem, the companies’ economic competitiveness outweighed their concern about their “users.”

The first chapter of the first section (Sugar) deals with the targeting of children and adolescents, whose preference for sweet is at a much higher level than that of adults. One researcher accuses the food giants of exploiting the biology of children with highly sweet—and salty—products. What do you think about this? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!


Recipe: Lasagna Soup

This is another standard. My S.O. Roy found this online, and I modified it further so it’d become even more PPV-friendly (7 PPV/serving, 8 servings per recipe).

adapted from Culinary in the Desert

1 pound uncooked spicy Italian chicken sausage
2 cups onion, diced
2 cups carrots, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried red pepper flakes
29 oz canned crushed tomatoes in tomato puree, preferably fire roasted
14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
10 oz tomato sauce
8 ounces uncooked whole wheat pasta (fusilli work well)
4 cups fresh baby spinach, loosely packed
4 Tbsp basil
6 cups fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth
2 oz parmesan cheese
2 cups Weight Watchers Shredded Cheese, Four Cheese Italian Style Blend


In a Dutch oven over medium-high, add sausage and cook until browned—crumble the sausage as you go with a wooden spoon. Add the onions and carrots—cook 3 minutes. Mix in the garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper—cook 1 minute. Pour in the broth, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil* and add in the pasta. Simmer soup until the pasta has cooked. Mix in the fresh spinach and cook until wilted—about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To serve, place ¼ cup of shredded Italian cheese in the bottom of 8 bowls. Evenly divide the soup between the 8 bowls. Sprinkle each serving with ¼ oz. Parmesan and basil.

*NOTE: If you will be planning leftovers, do NOT add the pasta and spinach before taking out the soup cooked to this point. The pasta will soak up all the broth and get mushy, and the spinach will get stringy. Add the pasta and spinach when you reheat, one ounce per serving.

The Leader Living this Month’s Routine: Pre-Tracking PointsPlus Values, Part 3

There’s no place like home

I am always sure to have the things I love close to me. The dogs get beds everywhere in the house that I spend time, and everywhere I look there is art and music that makes me happy. I have a large collection of exercise DVDs and equipment for rainy days and the super-hot summer months when going out for a ride or run isn’t feasible, and there’s plenty of room just to move when I want. Last week’s meeting topic got me thinking about something else that’s been helping me on my way.
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Recipe: Garlicky Shrimp with Broccoli and Toasted Breadcrumbs

I am putting this on the menu for next week… looks fantastic and FAST. I’ll serve it with some brown long-grain rice—3/4 cup for 4 PPV.

3 cups uncooked broccoli, small florets, or broccoli rabe
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp olive oil, extra-virgin, divided
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp table salt, divided
1 pounds uncooked shrimp, large, peeled, deveined
3 cloves (large) garlic, sliced
1/3 cup canned chicken broth
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice


Put broccoli and water in a microwave-safe bowl; cover and microwave on high until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain well; set aside (be cautious when uncovering bowl).

Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape toasted crumbs into a bowl; stir in lemon zest and 1/8 teaspoon salt.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat; add shrimp and sauté until shrimp turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add garlic; sauté until very light golden, about 1 minute.

Stir in broth, pepper flakes and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring to loosen bits from bottom of pan, just until shrimp is cooked through, about 1 minute.

Remove skillet from heat and add cooked broccoli; toss to mix and coat. Drizzle with lemon juice and remaining teaspoon oil; toss again. Serve shrimp and broccoli sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs. Yields about 3/4 cup shrimp with broccoli and 4 teaspoon breadcrumbs per serving..


The Leader Living this Month’s Routine: Pre-tracking PointsPlus Values, Part 2

My sipping solution

I may have told you that a big part of why I found some of the weight that I lost the first time I got to Lifetime with Weight Watchers was my discovery of the world of fine wines, microbrews, and craft cocktails. My loving partner and I went to tastings together, where we discussed the complexities in a mouthful of Mouvedre. He and I regularly shared a bottle of decent-but-not-astounding wine on weekday evenings, and we enjoyed nice 2- or 3-pint outings to the pub on the weekends. We swooned over the talents of our local mixologists. In the back of my head, I knew how those beverages could affect my weight, but I figured I was running, cycling, and eating right, like I did when I was losing. I was drinking water and never drank sugary sodas. What harm could a little drinking do, even if I “forgot” to track it?
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Book Club: Salt, Sugar, Fat

Recently, a “Fresh Air” episode featured Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Moss, author of the book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. His writings explore the methods food manufacturers employ to ensure strong sales—methods that may be fueling the obesity epidemic. Moss spoke with hundreds of food-industry experts in his research, many of whom were eager to share information and regretted the effects their companies’ profitability has had on the bottom lines of millions of eager consumers (“heavy users” is the term they use for their customers). Are you interested in reading this book? I am going to order it today and will give you my thoughts in future posts.

The Leader Living this Month’s Routine: Pre-Tracking PointsPlus Values Part 1

When I started Weight Watchers ten years ago, I was completely unfamiliar with the idea of managing my food intake. If I saw something that looked tasty, I usually ate it. Becoming aware of the effect food had on my size, in a way that was more concrete than “Ice cream can make you bigger,” was weird, but also exciting. It seemed like a game. It wasn’t long before I realized that my old way of deciding what to eat and when was not going to serve me well in the future. No problem! I was pretty creative with finding food substitutes that would fit right into my daily Points allocation (this was way before PointsPlus). As I lost weight and my Points allocation shrunk as well, however, I discovered that I was going to have to get even more strategic about my eating. Why? Well, because I wanted my cold, creamy dessert, of course! There were days, after I reached a specific goal, and my Points decreased again, that I found I needed to make more changes in order to fit in the treat I wanted. I started mourning those “missing” Points until I started really thinking ahead. I HAD the Points…I just needed to reserve them. I started just taking those out of my day, at the beginning, and I stressed out a whole lot less. Also, I started getting creative with the choices I made for the rest of the day so I would stay satisfied. I learned how to make the most of my allocation for the whole day, adjusted to eating more healthy foods, and found a whole new layer of living the plan. So, just making the space for the choices I wanted helped transform my experience and helped me build the habits I rely on today for maintenance.

How does having a plan help you? Talk about it below.