Saturday, May 9, 2015

Eat Small To Be Small

I just returned from vacation where I was fairly active - hiking almost every day - but I ate a lot of restaurant meals, which is not the norm for me. Because of that, I'm pretty sure I gained weight on this vacation rather than getting fitter... which was the original plan.

In any case, I bought a size 12 pair of pants when I returned because I'm tired of my pants being too tight. This is truly disappointing since I was a comfortable size 8 for most of my 20's and 30's. Slowly over the past five years I've gained weight - partly to blame on getting older and having a desk job, but also partly to blame on not controlling my meal portions better.

And sadly, many of our pets suffer this same issue of being overweight because they are at our mercy for controlling their portion sizes. 

Charlie is lucky that I feed her a high-quality diet and limit her treats. Every meal is weighed on the kitchen scale to make sure she's getting the right-sized meal and her treats consist of Kanine Kitchen treats, freeze-dried meat treats, fresh fruits and vegetables.

For this reason, she is a very lean dog and able to run very fast! If she were overweight, she would most definitely be slower and do more damage to her joints from the excess weight. Hopefully she'll live a very long life from the combination of a healthy species-appropriate diet and tons of exercise.

I get quite a bit of exercise keeping up with Charlie, so that isn't as much of an issue for me, although I do need to start incorporating some weight-lifting into my routine to counteract the loss of muscle tissue that happens when you get to middle-age.

I also only drink water, tea and coffee - no soda or juice, so I don't "drink" my calories; I eat really healthy food, especially a lot of fruit and veggies; I don't eat a lot of meat, but when I do it's very lean; and I don't eat a lot of bread.

But pizza used to be a BIG problem for me - I loved it and I could eat a lot of it. Since I found the Cauliflower-Crust Pizza Recipe, I feel like I can enjoy pizza again without the guilt - and I really love it.

For me, I need to work on limiting my portion sizes. So along with the size 12 pants, I also purchased some really cute SMALL plates and got rid of all my old plates.

I read somewhere that your stomach is the size of your fist. This is really helpful in visualizing how much food to eat without counting calories all day long. Basically if you eat mostly whole healthy foods and visualize your fist over your plate every meal, you should start seeing some results!

Summer season is just around the corner and this time of year always inspires me to eat a lot of healthy colorful fruits and vegetables. They're available almost everywhere (even airports!) and because they're in season now, the flavor is awesome. Here's to healthy eating!

...and remember to limit your dog's calorie intake as well by consulting with your vet or pet nutritionist. Keeping them lean will help them live a longer and healthier life - what more could you want.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cucumber Water

I had a mini spa moment last week and decided to put some cucumber slices in my bottle of water before Charlie and I headed out for a hike. With Charlie safely clipped into her harness on the front seat, I sipped on my water as we drove. As soon as I took that first sip, Charlie's head whipped around as she caught a "whiff" of my water.

Suddenly she was VERY interested in what I was drinking and practically stuffed her snout into the top of my water bottle!

Charlie LOVES her veggies, so it came as no surprise that she'd want her own cucumber water. I made a mental note to "infuse" her water dish with some cucumber slices when we got home.

At first I wasn't really sure what she would do with these delicious green circles floating in her dish.

But after a few sniffs, she took a drink... and then she went snorkeling for cucumbers!

I love how you can see bubbles coming up out of her nose as she dives in for the yummy veggies!

Within a few seconds, all three cucumber slices were gone and all that was left was a wet floor and plain water.

I love how she's looking into the water as if she could make more cucumber slices appear just by looking long enough.

Sometimes making a "game" out of veggies helps get your dog interested in them... why not try cucumber water next time and see how your dog likes it!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Veggie Pizza (for you and your dog!)

I love pizza. Charlie loves pizza. A recipe for BOTH of us to love? You bet!

So last weekend I ran across this pizza recipe on Facebook that uses cauliflower for the "crust" instead of regular pizza dough. I've heard other people talk about this before and since I was in a "baking mood," I figured this was a good time to give it a try.

First, you must know that I've NEVER eaten cauliflower. Or at least not knowingly. So I was a bit skeptical about how this would taste.

And while the recipe had some unusual steps (squeezing the cooked cauliflower in a towel to remove moisture), it was actually quite easy... and surprisingly fun! I made a couple of substitutions - feta cheese instead of goat cheese and spinach instead of basil. The recipe was very friendly for substitutions so I highly recommend experimenting with your own favorite toppings.

It took longer to bake than the recipe stated, so I ended up putting it on broil towards the end... I was getting hungry!

Broil + parchment paper = don't do this. 

Instead of a yummy pizza aroma filling my kitchen, I had burnt paper smell. Yeah... just be patient and let it bake.

How do you like my classy Corelle dinnerware?

My impression of the first bite:  it's definitely different than regular pizza. But by the second bite, I was addicted!

It's a much lighter meal than regular pizza and I didn't feel sluggish and "heavy" after eating it. I was also full after 3 pieces, whereas a normal pizza... well, I could probably eat the whole thing.

Even an hour after eating, I still felt comfortably full, but lighter somehow.

The other "bonus" about this pizza? I feel comfortable sharing a couple of bites with Charlie as a special treat. I gave her pieces with the least amount of cheese and she was more than happy to sample this recipe!

In fact, she gobbled up her portion so quickly, I couldn't even get a decent picture of her enjoying it.

Overall, this is my new favorite recipe and I plan on making it at least once a week. I heated up leftovers for lunch the next day and it was just as wonderful. I highly recommend stopping by the grocery store on your way home from work tonight and picking up a head of cauliflower.

Go on... you know you want to try it!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter + Sweet Potato Dog Chew Recipe


What a surprise ~ the Easter Bunny left us an Easter basket this morning!

Last year, Charlie received a yummy Easter basket from me, and this year we got one from my mom!

Charlie and I are so lucky that my retired mom lives with us. She often leaves us fun treats and helps take care of Charlie during the day when I'm at work.

Mom's dog Peanut lives with us too, providing Charlie with a "sister" of sorts.

Mom is also a much-appreciated kitchen helper for Kanine Kitchen, doing all the little things that add up to a lot.

It's good to have a Mom-Helper; we're very lucky and thankful for all she does!

Even though this Easter basket was mostly filled with goodies for me (no chocolate for dogs!), there was a brand new squeaky ball on top for Charlie. So thoughtful!

Charlie was so excited about her new toy, I could barely get her to hold still for a photo!

I also made Charlie some homemade sweet potato dog treats for a special surprise today. So while I'm snacking on sweets, Charlie gets her own "sweet" treat.

I purchased several small to medium sized sweet potatoes at the Dubuque, IA winter farmer's market a couple of weeks ago. These were homegrown with no pesticides or fertilizers, so I left the skins on. If you use regular grocery store potatoes (non-organic), make sure to remove the skins - they're usually covered in hard-to-remove fungicides and pesticides (yuck!).

Boil potatoes for 10 minutes and then transfer to a bowl of cold water to cool.

Once cooled, slice the potatoes and lay flat in your dehydrator. Dehydrate for 12 hours at 150 degrees or until desired crispiness.

Happy Easter and Enjoy!