Monday, December 28, 2009

A Side of Confidence

This Christmas my thoughtful brother George and his thoughtful (and shrinking!) wife Sue gave me some new workout clothes. Let me tell you, nothing gets me motivated quite like shiny new sportswear. Typically I'm the girl at the gym with the oversized sweaty black tee and pants intentionally purchased a size too large, but this new ensemble forced me to show myself off today. I'm not perfect... but is anyone really? I think I looked pretty OK for a girl who used to weigh almost 300 lbs. It was nice to look in the mirror (especially after Christmas!) and actually feel good about what I saw. I had a little extra pep in my step on the elliptical. Surely I had to burn one or two extra calories for exuding self-confidence.

Here's hoping everyone is having a safe, happy, and healthy holiday! I plan on really trying to keep up with this blog in 2010. Until then..!

Friday, December 11, 2009

2009, in photos and words

I reflect on 2009 as one of my favorite years to date. It was my first full year at goal weight and I can truly see how my life has been transformed by my weightloss. However, I want to focus on things that happened outside of that part of me, so here's a brief visual summary of my adventures.

the aftermath

2009 was a clean slate. No joke. I worked on wiping it clean all throughout December and somehow emerged a new person once the clock struck midnight. I was uncertain but optimistic about what this year would bring. I spent the month learning be alone and looking inward so I could move forward. I did.

conversation hearts

A month of firsts. Josh and I went on our first date at the end of January and by Valentine's Day we decided to we'd call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. After spending January convincing myself I needed this time alone I was completely caught off-guard by Josh. Everything felt right immediately. This really was a magical month.

good afternoon

I think that March is when my love affair with Philadelphia began. I got called to Jury Duty this month and was picked for a trial that lasted a week and a half. I woke up early in the mornings and waited for the El to take me to City Hall. I wandered Reading Terminal and discovered new things about the city on my lunch breaks. After this experience, I felt totally ready to explore on my own.

new bike!

I purchased my bike this month and got up the courage to ride it in the city. It was a triumph of sorts, as I was positive I'd be too nervous to actually do it. I'll never forget the feeling I got when zooming past cars sitting in traffic while I test rode my Huffy (later dubbed "Betty").

year two // day 228

Picnics and craft fairs. Getting lost and found in the city. Farmers' markets. Sunshine. May was quite a lovely month. I feel I really capitalized on the city's offerings and got to see a lot more of it up close and personal because of my new bicycle. Also: Josh and I went to see Animal Collective together, which was so very fantastic. I had purchased the tickets back in January before we had met in hopes I'd have someone to go with me.

road conditions

Hot, uncomfortable June. I refused to install an air conditioner because I was rarely home. With Josh on summer vacation, most of my time was spent at his apartment (which has central air). I dealt with a lot of stress this month with Rosemary my cat. The uncertainty of where I'd be living after my lease was up in combination with some money struggles made for a taxing month.


There were lots of summery things involved in July. I was happy again, having figured out my moving plans so I enjoyed the month. We spent the fourth in my hometown and then I went on a family vacation to Myrtle Beach at the end of the month. Mom, Dad and I went parasailing at the beach, which is something I'd never dream of doing at my heaviest. I ran on the beach with my brother and took a bike ride when I needed some alone time. By this point in the year I had realized I needed "me" time to be happy. This is something I didn't have much of in 2008, and in 2009 it became so very precious. My beach trip with the first half of my two week vacation extravaganza, which continued in August.

year two // day 299

The latter half of my vacation was, of course, Portland. It was my first flight (more firsts!) and first trip with Josh. It was the sort of trip that changes your perspective on things a bit. My favorite part was the nature. This particular photo, however, was taken on our stop at Skidmore Bluffs where we watched the sun set over the train yards and Willamette River. Again, I challenged myself to do and try things I've never done before. Upon my return to Philly, I moved into my new apartment. I feel like this is really where the slate was clean from 2008. I was so happy with my new life and ready for more new things to experience.

Jessica & Geoff // 013

My entire family spent September waiting anxiously for the arrival of our new family member, who decided to bless us with his presence on September 27th. His name is Harrison Wayne and he was the complete star of the year for the Rittenhouse clan. We all love him so much.

let's go away for awhile

I happily turned 24 this month and found much to be thankful for since my 23rd birthday. I celebrated with so many new friends that are all wonderful. Freelance picked up this month and it flew by so fast. I cherished my downtime, but was glad to have something so productive to keep me occupied.

philadelphia tweed ride // 017

Philly Tweed Ride was a highlight of the month. It's something I would never have joined in on a year previous. I swapped the tweed for a big red bridesmaid gown for my cousin's wedding in the middle of the month. It was sort of surreal to see my childhood best friend all grown up and saying her vows. Seeing my brother as such a great father has also been eye-opening as to how mature we've all become. The month ended with a bang, as we had an unconventional Thanksgiving involving an ER visit and some supermarket take out. I think all in all, it made me appreciate my family even more.

mini ornaments for a mini tree

We're not very far into the month and I can tell already it's going to be busy. I'm not sure how to define it yet. We'll see how the holidays go. I've been very reflective and happy with how this year's turned out. It's safe to say it's one of the best. I feel so lucky and loved and optimistic for 2010.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Comfort Food and Part-Time Vegetarianism

what's for dinner? // vegan chili over polenta

'Tis the season for sharing home-cooked meals! After Thanksgiving weekend's indulgences, including turkey, I decided to cook up some vegan chili to share with my boyfriend on Top Chef night (Go Kevin!).

I threw together some chili and opted to serve it on top of polenta. I never really thought to do this with chili, as it's always been a bit of a standalone meal for me. The addition, however. added another dimension of texture and flavor to the meal. Being nutrient-dense, comforting, and quick I suggest this meal after a long, cold day.

1 onion, diced
2 T olive oil
2 t chili powder
1 t salt
15 oz can of diced tomatoes
15 oz can of kidney beans, drained
15 oz cooked lentils
1 c corn
1/2 c vegetable stock
1 c diced cilantro

In a large lidded pot, saute onion in olive oil until soft. Add salt and chili powder and cook for an additional minute. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, lentils and corn and let simmer until hot (about ten minutes). Add vegetable stock as needed if it's too thick for your liking. Stir in cilantro and serve over prepared polenta.

I ate leftovers for lunch the next day and it was even better so make sure you save some!

Sidenote: On the subject of vegetarianism—or, in my case, pescetarianism—I've fallen of the wagon. I still do not consume any beef products, but have slowly been re-introducing other meat into my diet when dining out or eating with family. I still cook vegetarian at home and would say that I eat a vegetarian diet about 90% of the time, but am no longer restricting myself from the occasional slice of bacon here or Thanksgiving turkey there. I lost all of my weight while consuming lean meats regularly, so don't think this will affect my maintenance. It might even be a good thing as it'll add a little more protein and perhaps prevent me for over-doing it on carbs. I don't feel like I need to justify my decision, but I do feel like I should make it known that I am no longer able to be labeled (which is a relief!).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

YOU turn

year two // day 364

If there's one thing I learned in Dr. Oz's YOU on a Diet, it's that nobody's perfect. No diet is perfect. Sometimes you stray or go off-track, but there's always a route back to the road you were on.

A few weeks ago, I decided to make a YOU turn after a dress fitting that went horribly. I haven't gained a lot of weight, but I was making excuses for the little extra pudge I saw hanging out in my mid-section and most definitely my face. I decided to re-assess and re-evaluate my eating and fitness habits. Life is a series of causes and effects. One red flag for me was eating out at lunch. When I eat out at lunchtime, I don't go to the gym at lunchtime. I prefer lunch workouts because I have no real excuse not to go. I'm still full of energy at that time of day unlike after work when I'm hungry and tired. So I set a goal of getting to the gym at least 4/5 days a week. This ensures that I'm also eating my planned lunches 4/5 days a week.

I also made a few more minor adjustments to my diet. I cut out night snacking completely. The only thing I allow myself after dinner on weeknights is broccoli which can hardly be called a snack food. Additionally, this means that I'm cutting back on baking because it's too much temptation at the moment. I have also cracked down on my water consumption (or lack thereof!). Hydration is key in weight management. Often we confuse thirst with hunger and eat instead of drink. I've been downing 64+ oz every day and it feels great.

Another thing I've re-introduced was logging my food. I stopped because I thought I was getting to be pretty good at estimating calories etc. I've started back up consistently at PeerTrainer and have also been using the LoseIt App on my iPhone (I love it! The little graphs are so very encouraging!).

It's been a little over two weeks since my restart and I've already dropped over five pounds of what I can only assume is water weight. My pants are fitting me better. I can see my cheekbones again. I look forward to stepping on the scale in the morning. It's a good feeling that I forgot about.

I turned 24 last week, and would love to reach my goal of 140 lbs by my 25th birthday. I can definitely do this if I just keep working at it. I'll be sure to keep this blog updated.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Here and There

This past month has been wonderfully busy. Relaxing and running on the beach, biking and eating my way through Portland, boxing up my belongings and putting them all back together in my new apartment and squeezing all the fun I can out of summer as it winds down into what is sure to be a similarly busy autumn and winter.

Because of all the madness, I have been eating out much more than usual. Some food highlights:


Crabs in South Carolina from Harrelson's Seafood. Dad and I went on a hunt for whole fresh crabs while staying at the condo near Myrtle Beach. I asked two teenage boys at a produce stand (where I bought the juiciest peach I've eaten) if they knew where we could find them and they tipped us off on this little fish market at Murrell's Inlet. This was my first time cleaning the insides of crabs and, though I sustained minor injury, it was worth the hard work.

pdx // day 4 // freshpot soy latte

Stumptown Coffee in Portland, Oregon. House made udon, waffle sandwiches, vegan cupcakes, mountains of Pad Thai, sustainable sushi, sweet potato pancakes, vegan pizza... We planned our days around food in Portland. However, nearly every morning we woke up and walked up the hill to Freshpot where we jotted down notes for the day over a hot cup of Stumptown Coffee. Smooth and strong and perfectly brewed. I left the city with the inability to continue happily consuming Starbucks' muck (and a bag of fresh roasted beans to hold me over until my Stumptown Coffee subscription kicks in).

pdx // day 7 // snack time!

Oregon's bounty. Everything is so perfectly fresh in the Northwest. We drove out along the Columbia River Scenic Byway (Mt. Hood.. wow) and stopped at Cody Orchards Market, where we bought fresh cherries, pears, apricots and apple cider. We also checked out a co-op in the city, finding healthy, local and fresh snacks after a long walk in Washington Park.

Upon returning from vacation, I immediately moved into a new apartment. My fridge was empty and my cookware was packed, so more eating out ensued. After a long break from cooking and baking, it felt so wonderful to turn the stove back on. Though I did a good job of eating well while on vacation, there's something about making my own food that puts me at ease. Just yesterday I made Thai Style Corn Pancakes, a recipe that I found in (again) How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. I made a few substitution, cut back on oil and enjoyed these little cakes with a side of Tofutti Sour Cream. I found a recipe for this blogged at Recession Recipes

what's for dinner? // thai style corn fritters

Thankfully I was able to keep active throughout both trips. In SC I was able to run on the beach, swim in the ocean and go for a few bike rides. In OR, we rented bikes for a few days and relied on them for transportation. My legs felt like jello after the first day. We also did a lot of walking and hiking. As we were hiking up to the top of Multnomah Falls, I kept thinking about how before the weightloss what I was doing would have been absolutely impossible. This made our arrival at the top that much more triumphant.

Hiking is interesting for someone who has undergone a body transformation of sorts. I still feel like my center of balance is not exactly what it should be. I also tend to feel like I won't fit through passage ways or that logs/rocks would not hold my weight. I've been a lot more adventurous lately because I'm starting to trust my body. Hopefully I can get a few more outdoor adventures in before the end of the summer, though thus far it's definitely been one to remember.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Phantom Fat

And every morning when she looks in the mirror while getting ready for the day, she sees her former, heavier self. “My brain says, ‘Yep, still fat.’”
I have been struggling a lot with body image this week, so when I found this article from MSNBC on so-called Phantom Fat, I felt a little less crazy for being so hard on myself. What is Phantom Fat, you ask? The article explains it as continuing to carry around and perceive the excess weight that is no longer there after significant weight loss. This has been something I can remember trying to figure out as far back as last year, right before reaching my goal weight. When shopping, I still grab clothes that are too large. I still get nervous about taking too much room in the back seat of a crowded vehicle.

When I look in the mirror and honestly don't see an enormous difference. I still have a belly. My cheeks are still chubby. I won't ever have a "bikini body." Sometimes I wonder if what I see is anything similar to what I look like physically. Last week, a friend exclaimed "You're so skinny!" after not seeing me for about six months and internally all I could think was She's just saying that to be nice.

When I was 270 lbs, I'd look at pictures and not recognize myself because what I saw in the mirror was actually smaller than what I saw in photos or videos. It was always shocking to me, so I avoided looking at photographs displaying my full body. (Note: I remember being thoroughly upset by the photo to the left, taken on a family trip to Gettysburg with my mom.) These days, the opposite is true. I see photographs of myself that others have taken and still don't recognize my body, but now it's because my self-perception is much larger than what I'm assuming I look like in reality.

I always feel like I'm looking in a fun-house mirror. My body is constantly changing and I still don't have a solid sense of what sort of space I'm taking up. The summer before beginning my weight loss venture, I vividly remember breaking not one, but two folding chairs while on on the beach. This was mortifying and has always been something I keep in mind when I don't think I can do another rep or run that final mile. Yet, the other day I found myself stressing out about my upcoming vacation, hoping that my family brings along beach chairs sturdy enough to hold my significantly smaller frame. This can easily be attributed to Phantom Fat. I spent about 20 years of my life being overweight and it's hard to break certain ways of thinking and feeling.

“We become numb to how mean we’re being to ourselves,” Ressler says.

I hope to learn to be a little nicer to my reflection in the future. I'm sure it'll take some work and time, but I think it can be done.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In Need of Rest

year two // day 84

On average, I sleep about 6 hours every night. This is 2 hours less than the recommended 8 hours of rest I should be getting. That's 14 hours of sleep I'm missing each week. I know I should be sleeping more, but life gets so hectic that I feel like I want to use as many hours in the day as I can. When I woke up this morning, I knew it was catching up with me. I biked to my apartment from Northern Liberties at 6:30 am at a snail's pace. My legs felt like jello from yesterday's run. On the car ride to work, my body practically begged for more rest. My eyes were heavy and my arms were getting tired just holding the steering wheel.

This is a problem. I work so hard to stay healthy. I eat nutritious foods and I exercise regularly, yet I can't seem to force myself to retire to bed at a decent hour. When I was losing a bulk of my weight, I was also getting a full 8 hours of sleep every night. I've read countless articles about the correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain, so I know better. This week I'm going to make a conscious effort to make it into bed at least an hour earlier. Well-being goes way beyond eating healthy and exercising. I am at my best when I'm well-rested and free from stress. The stress portion will take care of itself in three weeks when I leave for my long and much-needed vacation (!!!!).

My apologies for infrequent posting here, too. If I can make time for an extra hour of sleep, I can certainly make time to keep up with this blog. I honestly haven't concocted anything pretty or healthy enough to post lately. Last night I created an ugly (but tasty!) golden beet & rutabaga mash for dinner. In the past few days I've also made a slightly experimental cupcake to share with friends at the Lawn Chair Drive In. Mostly, though, I've been keeping it simple by eating favorites.

For breakfast:

what's for breakfast? // there are flax flakes under there!


what's for lunch? // black-eyed pea salad

and dinner:

what's for dinner? // goat cheese & scallion omelette

I'll report back as soon as I come up with something more exciting. Perhaps this extra 7 hours of sleep will aid in creativity!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dinner For One

dinner for one

I like living alone. I think everyone should try it at least once. I can watch all the Degrassi: The Next Generation that I want, eat ginger snaps for dinner, stay up until 2 am playing The Sims, have full-fledged conversations with my cats, do jumping jacks in my living room, so on and so forth. Granted, I don't do all of these things all of the time (especially the ginger snaps thing, I promise!). But the fact of the matter is, I can.

This can work against me, though. I've found that my biggest hurdle in keeping the weight off is eating when I'm at home alone. I am, more often than not, my own worst enemy. I usually stock my cabinets with good, healthy food. But one thing I've learned is that even healthy foods are only good for me in moderation. One thing that always prevents me from overeating is portioning my food out on a plate or in a bowl. I don't like eating foods from large bags or boxes. Snacks and meals feel much more official when on a plate. I rarely go back for seconds once I've plated my food.

Dinner for one is always so difficult for me. Most nights I end up making an omelet and veggie for myself. I was stockpiling one big meal for the week for a while, but found that it bored me too much and I'd wind up eating out more than I should. So, with my trusty new cookbook on hand, I've been taking on grocery items like a mad scientist.

what's for dinner? // curried turnips & summer squash

Tonight's meal, for example, was a bit of an experiment. I found this recipe and built on it, adding a little coconut oil, summer squash, and rice sticks at the end.

The result was relatively delicious. And if it wasn't, no one would have been around to make fun of me for actually eating it!

Monday, June 8, 2009

How To Cook Everything

Today was uncomfortably warm. I live on the second and third floor of my apartment building, and it gets pretty stuffy in here. So, I figured the logical thing to do would be to crank my oven up to 450 degrees and roast some veggies.

To be honest, I wasn't thinking when I found a recipe for stuffed tomatoes in Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. I just saw a delicious and easy way to use up a tomato and teeny zucchini that's been hanging out in my fridge for far too long.

This book was a gift from my thoughtful boyfriend. He has the regular edition and I often leaf through it while he makes me breakfast on the weekends. There's a lot in there, and I'm pretty sure the title is no exaggeration. What I like about these books is that the recipes are more just basic guidelines for preparation. It practically begs you to be creative with your meal, and also helps you figure out how to use all sorts of pantry items.

With the whole weight loss and maintenance process, I can't stress how important it is to communicate with friends, family and significant others what your plan is. Today I was reading a post over at 344 Pounds and it reminded me of how lucky I am to have such a strong support system. It makes having a healthy lifestyle that much easier because you feel like everyone is in it with you.

The cookbook is just an example of the support I get from my boyfriend, who also leads a healthy and active lifestyle. He also helped me muster up the courage to get on a bicycle and ride around the city this summer. Throughout all of this I have found so many sources of inspiration. I can't even begin to list them all. My sister-in-law Jess was right there with me on PeerTrainer when I decided to change my life in 2007. My dad got on board and successfully got his Type II Diabetes under control through diet and exercise. My mom lost the twenty pounds she put on after we kids left home (sorry!) and looks younger than any 50-year-old mama I know. My sister-in-law Sue lost 60? 70? 80? lbs and inspires me every day with her status updates about spinning classes and workouts on Facebook. When I started all of this, a few of my co-workers would eat salads with me in the lunchroom instead of going out for fast food. I also correspond with countless flickr contacts who were or are in the same boat as me and find so much motivation in their successes.

I could probably go on and on. But I think what it boils down to is that constant communication of our successes (and failures!) creates accountability.

At any rate, today I used my new cookbook to make a delicious dinner. I stuffed the tomato with couscous, fresh basil, and a little parmesan cheese. Then I stuffed the zucchini with couscous, mushrooms, olives, and goat cheese with a little sriracha sauce in place of the harissa Mark Bittman recommended. I took some creative liberty with the recipe and made it my own. I look forward to using this book again and again. Hopefully it will inspire me to learn to trust myself in the kitchen.

Next time I roast vegetables, however, I'll make sure my air conditioner is installed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Curious Kohlrabi

As mentioned a few days ago, I purchased some kohlrabi at Headhouse this weekend. It's purple bulb jumped out at me from beneath the leafy greens that surrounded it on one of the produce tables. I have honestly never seen one and looked it up in Josh's copy of How To Cook Everything upon returning from the farmers' market. I had to figure out what it was before figuring out what to do with it.

I took it home, examined it and then did a little more research on preparation. Eventually I found an article from The Kitchn and opted to follow suggestion #4:
4. Roasted. When roasted in the oven, the outside of the kohlrabi caramelizes, and the flavor sweetens and mellows. You can slice the kohlrabi thin for toasted "chips" or cube it.
This seems like a cop out because it's so easy, but I really wanted to prepare it simply so I could taste the vegetable. I just peeled off it's pretty purple skin (which I now think I should have left on), sliced it really thin, tossed it in some olive oil and salt and threw it in the oven. I made sure to taste a little bit of it raw as well. After trying it both ways, think I like it better au naturale than baked.

My kohlrabi chips turned out slightly deformed and a little dark around the edges, but they tasted really great. At 36 calories per cup (excluding the olive oil), I think it's a good alternative to potatoes. If it's still available at the market next week, I'm going to pick some up and try making kohlrabi slaw for lunch. I'd like to experiment with this purple oddity it as much as I can while it's still available locally!

Peachy Keen Muffins

Yesterday I picked up one single peach from the grocery store and figured I'd bake it into some muffins instead of eating it raw. The little fruit went a long way. These muffins have a lot of flavor.

Here's a quick recipe that was inspired by one I found on I made a very small batch but still plan on sharing. The recipe calls for a lot of sugar, which I think can probably afford to be halved. I'll definitely make these again, maybe next time with fresh berries or dried fruit.

Whole Wheat Peach Muffins
Makes 8 Muffins
  • 1 1/5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c canola oil
  • 1/4 c soy milk
  • 1 extra large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 c organic cane sugar
  • 1 peach with skin pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 c chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp unbleached white flour
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F and place muffin liners in cups.

  2. In a large bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In smaller bowl, mix canola oil, soy milk, egg and cane sugar. Stir well and then pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix just until moist. In another small bowl, toss chopped peaches and pecans with white flour and then fold into batter. Spoon mixture into muffin cups.

  3. Bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in muffin pan for at least 10 minutes before placing muffins on wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I talk to my mother on the phone every weekday morning. More often than not, the weather is a topic of discussion. More often than not, I also make a lame joke that involves me saying "Well, you know they say It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia..", followed by the inevitable I can't believe I said that AGAIN sigh.

But really - this weekend's weather could not have been more perfect. This was evident as Josh and I rode our bicycles over to Headhouse Farmer's Market to pick up some fresh local produce for the week. There wasn't a cloud in the sky as we rode through the cobblestone streets in Old City. Here are two prime examples of things I would not have imagined myself doing pre-weight loss, providing further evidence that losing weight is not attributed to diets so much as an overall shift in lifestyle.

I vividly remember first purchasing a bicycle back in 2005. I attempted to take it for a ride through York, where I was living at the time. At my highest weight, I could barely go two blocks without stopping to catch my breath. Everything about bikeriding was uncomfortable. I try to remember that feeling as I effortlessly zip through the city nowadays. There is something liberating about getting on a bicycle at almost half the size I was and being able to go anywhere I want.

I guarantee if I could easily get anywhere I wanted to go, it wouldn't have been to a farmer's market. But today we went to Headhouse, where I purchased apples, spring onions, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries and a very alien-like purple vegetable called kohlrabi (It's my wildcard, if you will). I am mystified by the kohlrabi and any suggestions on how to prepare it would be greatly appreciated.

Not only was I able to pick up fresh fruits and veggies without driving a car, but I burned a few calories making my way over there and back on two wheels. These are the little shifts in lifestyle that I think are helping me maintain my weight happily. And thinking beyond myself, these lifestyle changes are environmentally friendly.

After riding back from the market, Josh made a cheeseless frittata for us to share along with a few slices of a sourdough baguette also purchased at the market. It was a healthy, satisfying brunch that I can't take credit for, but certainly enjoyed.

I'm looking forward to what I'll find at the market throughout the summer. Right now everything is green, but soon we'll be seeing lots of colorful fruits and veggies. I might need a bigger backpack.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sweet Success

Is it really fair to devote my first entry in a supposed weight loss maintenance blog to decadent (albeit vegan) dark chocolate, cookie-filled, buttercream-topped cupcakes?

No. Not at all.

But there is a method to my madness. You see, when I started my weight loss venture back in October 2007 I couldn't even successfully prepare brownies from a box. In fact, I think a big part of how I got to be 270 lbs was because I didn't know how to cook real food. And the lovely little cupcake up there is (just about) as real as it gets. Much of the food I'd down in front of the television or hunched over my computer doing school work was from a box or a bag. The produce aisle was a colorful, mysterious jungle to me. And baking? With all the patience and precision involved, I just didn't understand why one wouldn't just run out to Sheetz and buy a package of Tastykakes.

So, I guess a big part of this blog is to depict and promote progress. The me that weighs 150 lbs and can run a 5k also knows how to bake and cook dinner that was not once frozen, stuffed into a pastry pocket, or delivered magically to my front door. I'm learning to love the process of making something from nothing and being able to enjoy eating it as well.

That being said, I only ate one of these cupcakes and maybe a few spoonfuls of batter (shh!). Thankfully, when I do try my hand at baking, I have hungry friends and family eager to consume my experimental sugary snacks. We can all enjoy a pretty little cupcake every once in a while, but one key thing I've picked up throughout the past two or so years is that moderation is key to successful weight loss and maintenance.

Now, onto the cupcakes!

Vegan Oreo Mint Cupcakes
with butter cream frosting

I baked these after a busy day. Half the batch went to my very busy boyfriend and half went to my very pregnant sister-in-law. It's the basic vegan chocolate cupcake recipe from Chow with the addition of some chopped up fresh mint leaves and crushed 365 Sandwich Cremes mixed into the batter.

I hand mixed a vegan butter cream frosting (recipe). It could probably be logged as exercise of some sort. Then I piped on some frosting with a Wilton 104 petal tip, dusted them with cookies that I crushed up with the bottom of a shot glass (ha!), and topped them with mint leaves from my little window herb garden.