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Sweet and Sour Chicken A La Kathie Lee Gifford

Properly corralling my passions is something I sometimes struggle with. Take cooking for example. My love of creating at the stove leaves me more than a little vulnerable to the swirling vortex of recipes that are available EVERYWHERE, from magazines and cookbooks to television and the blogosphere. Even before the internet was invented, organizing the recipes I collected was a challenge. I’d hear an idea that appealed to me, scratch it down, and tuck it away somewhere for future trial.  Nine times out of ten, I’d forget the hastily-written-down recipe existed. Either that or life got in the way and the would-be creation got back-burnered, so to speak.

When I began, ten years ago, a healthier way of eating which led to a 180-pound weight-loss, I decided it was time to take a look at the recipes I’d clipped from magazines or scratched onto a piece of paper during a talk show. The ones that were largely dairy, sugar, fat, and white-flour based got the heave-ho. After a lifetime of emotional eating, binge-eating, and comforting myself with food as an escape, I’d found more effective coping techniques. But I still adored cooking. So I transfigured that love into three cookbooks filled with recipe makeovers of foods such as New England Clam Chowder, Meatloaf, and Chocolate Cake, that I don’t want to entirely give up. Even with my pared down collection of recipes, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I probably won’t get to them all in my lifetime, but I’ll sure give it a shot.

Yesterday, as I was rifling through my cookbook collection, I found a slip of paper from 1993. It was an entree recipe scribbled out while watching Regis and Kathie Lee one morning, and it was Kathie Lee Gifford’s recipe, presumably one of her family-favorites, for Sweet and Sour Chicken. The ingredients were fairly simple and while not exactly health-food, certainly weren’t on the damaging end of the spectrum. Regular readers know my policy: diets and ‘never-again’ directives only backfire, so I vacillate between ultra-healthy, semi-heathy, and decadent food choices. It works for me and I’ve kept my weight off for nearly a decade!

 

An amazing recipe, courtesy of Kathie Lee Gifford

For my take on Kathie Lee’s recipe, I chose sugar-free apricot jam, canned pineapple in its own juice, and the best quality Russian dressing I could find. Actually, I couldn’t find any Russian dressing in Fresh Market’s refrigerated dressing section so I chose French and it worked fine. Since I didn’t write how much chicken or what variety, I winged it and used about two pounds of boneless breasts, cut into chunks. It yielded plenty of extra sauce, which is perfect if you’d like to serve this over pasta or rice. Yesterday was a watch-the-starch-intake day for me so I presented it to Chef Bill with sauteed spinach and it was fantastic! Bill adores Asian cuisine and he declared this a viable option for when he’s got a craving for Chinese. My philosophy is, sure I love eating at restaurants (it’s part of how I got to 345 pounds!) but there’s nothing better than food made at home with love. And homemade food has a much higher likelihood of being healthier than restaurant food. Chef Bill is also a veteran of the restaurant business and assures you that in most high-pressure commercial kitchen, the food’s rarely imbued with amore.

 

 

 

An aside: I’m coming to terms with clutter, and be default, deferred dreams, hopes, and decisions. Besides chucking out recipes I know I’ll never use, I’ve done the same with clothing, books, photographs, and general knick-knacks. Weight-loss and general health and balance are about the entire picture of one’s life – not just calories in/calories out.

Extracted from the vault of would-be dinners…

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

A wise teacher of mine pointed out that clutter and weight are related burdens. The state of our closets, drawers, basements, cupboards, and refrigerators are a reflection of our mindset.  It hit home for me. And Thank God I was ready to take an honest look at my habits. I love getting emotionally charged with what sounds like a great idea. New recipes often seem like a great idea, so I acquire them, one way or another. But follow-through is often a different story. So what I end up with is actually not great ideas that are brought to life and lived out, but a collection of wishes and what-if’s.

 

Have no idea what this fragment is, but it’s emblematic of my former frantic recipe-capturing practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I was astounded to realize it’s kind of hereditary. A few months ago I sifted through an entire bag of paper scraps that were my grandmother’s recipe collection. They were scrawled on the back of bridge tournament score sheets, calendar pages, school bulletins. They were, in essence, a mess.

A classic Grandmother Morris recipe from her ‘catalog.’

 

I spent an entire afternoon looking through them, throwing most of them out, and selecting a few I intend to recreate. I’m glad I did it.  My grandmother died when I was three, so I never got to know her. After this marathon session with her recipe collection, I felt imbued with her energy and left with a feeling of spending time with her. It was nice, but also exhausting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I decided I’ve got a little more work to do in terms of being unburdened and more focused with follow-through. So when I came across this extremely appealing recipe courtesy of Kathie Lee, I didn’t hesitate. I made it for dinner that very day and it felt marvelous to not only follow-through, but serve the fruits of my labor with my beloved.  Hope this inspires you to do the same.

 

…the flip side

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is my version of Kathie Lee’s recipe, amended to be lower in sugar. So glad I found it, and more importantly, TRIED it before entombing it back into its hiding place for another 25 years.



Gluten-Free Crab Cakes

There’s seldom a time when Chef Bill and I aren’t in the mood for his crab cakes. He reinvented them several years ago when a craving struck. On the spot, he morphed a Ritz Cracker-heavy recipe into a palatable, gluten-free masterpiece.  We both adore these as a dinner because they’re light, but also filling. And they go perfectly with a side salad or cooked vegetable such as Clean Cream of Cauliflower Soup or sauteed green beans.

Cook’s note: Chef Bill says fresh bread crumbs work best. One of our favorites is Goodman’s gluten-free white bread. If you can’t find that brand, use whatever spongey gluten-free bread you can find.



 

 

Sizzle-Sizzle!

 

 

 

 

Think of these as an elegant, lower-in-fat version of the hamburger patty. The mustard sauce adds a lovely contrast. Crab cakes are easier to make than you think…just follow the simple steps below, don’t overcook, and serve asap. Keeping them in a warm oven for a few minutes is fine.

Hope you enjoy – Bon Appetit!

My New Book Is Out!

…and it’s all about the inside job it takes to not only get the weight off, but find lasting peace and confidence.

 

 

 

 

Ask any sailor and they’ll concur: when a ship is in distress, it’s of absolutely no use to fuss about the deck, mopping up the puddles of water and rearranging the deck chairs. Better to put energy into the bowels of the ship’s epicenter and fix its engine and/or patch up the gaping hole that’s taking on water and causing the vessel to lumber and sink.

Sounds perfectly logical, right? Then why, do we continue to fuss over the exterior of a person rather than look inward to discover what the real problem is and how to solve it? The short answer: it’s less painful to prescribe a diet, or new hair color, new wardrobe, or a quick touch-up at the plastic surgeon. Less painful and probing for sure, but far less effective.

I can tell you for sure that dieting as a remedy to weight gain has zero efficacy. Zero. Worse than zero because everytime I’ve undertaken it it has resulted in regain plus more. So, after sheer burnout which left me with an utter inability to give dieting one more chance, I put the ship’s engine in reverse and headed in another direction. Specifically, I dove inward. I had to. How else would the wounds of bullying, size bigotry, and isolation heal?  Not via calorie-counting or counting fat grams, I can assure you.

And that, my friends, is how my fourth book came to be. My first three works were about cooking (healthy, delicious food, BTW). “The Untended Soul” is all about coping.

 

 

I’ll be the first to admit the content may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Heck, it wasn’t mine for many years. But if you’ve A) had enough of the dieting hamster wheel, and B) suspect you may have been taken for a ride by the industry and have wasted unquantifiable amounts of time and money on a pile of nothing-burgers, you may want to crack my latest book. Or at least read the back cover. One of the reviews on Amazon describes it as “required reading for emotional eaters.” If you feel this may be you, well, you know what to do. All it takes is a little willingness to try a different approach. Self-Inquiry is easier than you think…once you’ve agreed to let your guard down.

My weight-loss success story is well documented, and includes a gluten-free and dairy-free revamping of my eating habits and plenty of DDPYOGA workouts. But guess what preceded all of that? Yup. The dive inward. And you know what I found. Gold…pure gold that can’t be found in the world of externals. It’s yours to have…

 

She was in there all along…and I finally found her

 

 

And a BIG Thank You to the very talented Robert McLearren, who put this book together, designed it, and gave it FLAIR! He has created the look of every one of my books and I absolutely would have no books without him. He’s also an amazing artist and painter of pet portraits. Send him an I-Phone photo of your dog or cat, you’ll be astounded at what he can do. Makes a great Christmas gift!  Thank You Robert.

 

 

Our Sophia: I-phone photo left; Robert’s rendering on the right – phenomenal!

Women’s World Magazine Telling My Transformation Story!

Hello World! After a much-needed summer hiatus which included, travel, relaxation, and some lake-side teaching of DDPY, I’m back with a BANG! After months of planning, writing, primping, plotting, and prep…THIS happens today! 

🎉
❤️
💃
👏🏼
🧚🏼‍♂️
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Women’s World Magazine is telling my transformation story! The issue is on newsstands today through Sept. 12 – so excited and grateful! A big thank you to Bauer Publishing, Alayne Curtiss of Make Me Fabulous in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and Find Your Moxie and Gusto for making the magic happen!

The main thing I want to get across here is: it is never too late, and there is always Hope! Run to your nearest supermarket or bookstore and get your issue today. Thanks for reading! XO

Want the weight off yesterday? I know…

“But I want to get the weight off…now! Or at least soon. As soon as possible. What can you do for me?”
 
It’s a very common request from clients and readers and believe me, I not only understand it, I have LIVED it for decades.

Me doing an existential WTF to the Universe…

During the years I was awash in binge-eating and ignoring the messages my heart and soul was valiantly trying to tell me, I’d emerge from a year or so of unmitigated eating and running from reality with a resolve born of both panic and disgust: I’VE GOT TO GET THIS FREAKIN’ WEIGHT OFF!

Loading Up on Food, Tamping Down on the Anxiety

 
The problem was, I hadn’t a clue how to go about it in a rational and lasting way. The strict diets and food trends I grabbed onto (low-fat, high-fat, no-carb, low-carb, all liquids…you get the picture) left me feeling sad, confused, and more stuck. So I went back to binge-eating to feel better. And 6 months to a year later, I’d ricochet back to the other extreme. In the interim, I’d do whatever I could to heal the inner wounds and pay attention (as much as I would allow a the time) to my heart and soul and what they really needed.
 
Turns out, they needed me to be present to, well, the present. And deal with whatever’s going on in as forthright a manner as I could. This is the abridged solution and it’s an existential artform I continue to perfect. Over the two decades I spent at 300 pounds +, I got better and better at being in the present moment and with being honest with myself and others.
 
And as cliche as it sounds, when my student-self was ready, the teacher, in the form of Diamond Dallas Page and #DDPYOGA, appeared. I knew what was required of me and I was ready to do it. And I knew what was required to keep the weight off and I continue to agree to do it. Not perfectly because that was never the goal anyway. 
 
But when I stopped pinning all hopes for happiness on #weightloss and began to pay attention to which way the compass was really pointing, the self-esteem went from a sapling to a beanstalks that would have made Jack proud.

The Lotus begins in the mud, deep beneath the surface. It takes a long time to reach the light and bloom, but once it does, it is a beautiful and immutable strong blossom.

If I can convince one or a few of you not to be hard on yourselves and find ways to appreciate and nourish yourselves, a little at a time, then my journey will have been that much more worth it.

Happy and Healthy

This one is for Great Lakes Collagen: