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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

20 What I ate today, and more of your frequently asked questions

We’re just around the corner from the 1st of the month and you know what that means…a new Cottage of the Month to look forward to! It is purely delightful, I’m sure you’ll agree.


I’ve received nothing but love and support from you guys in my continuing weight loss journey, for which I am very grateful. I have also received a good measure of questions from you guys, many of the same questions actually. Everything from “What do you actually eat every day?” to “What the heck do you do with the apple cider vinegar?” I’m hoping this post will round up all your questions and curiosities.


Let’s begin with some of your Frequently Asked Questions:


Q: How many calories do you consume per day?

A: Because there are many varying factors in determining one’s caloric intake for weight loss, such as age, height, current weight, goal weight, activity level, etc, I advise you to calculate this on your own to find out what suits you best. There are some great sites out there, such as this site, and also this site I’ve found helpful too.

Q: What do you do with the apple cider vinegar, how much do you use, and how do you consume it?

A: ACV (apple cider vinegar) is some pretty nasty tasting strong stuff. I highly recommend taking it with something instead of drinking it straight. The recommended amount is 1 Tbsp, 3 times per day. I like to have it before each meal. I simply have a glass of cold water and mix in one tablespoon of ACV and one tablespoon of honey. Works for me. I’ve heard it can also be used as a salad dressing (I haven’t tried this personally) or it can be mixed into a glass of juice, which is how my mom prefers to have it.

Q: Do you lift weights?

A: Yes! I lift weights three to four times per week and I use 3 – 5 – and 10 lb weights. I want to tone, not bulk, so I do light weights with many repetitions. In the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD, hand weights are required. And I also do machine-type weights at the gym I belong to. Same thing applies there too - light weights, numerous repetitions.

Q: Before and after pics?

A: As you may have read before, I’m waiting to reach my goal weight before I step in front of a camera. Truth is, when you’re feeling heavy, the last thing you want is photographic evidence, or reminders!

Q: Have you thought about starting a weight loss blog?

A: Heck no! Keeping up with my online store, this blog, and Cottage of the Month keeps me pretty occupied 24/7 thankyouverymuch.


My Food Diary:


I received tons of inquiries from folks about what I eat on a daily basis. Since I keep a daily food journal of everything I eat (which I highly recommend to anyone serious about losing weight) I pulled out three random days from my journal. Please keep in mind, in addition to my daily meals, I drink large quantities of water and tea, and also enjoy organic 70% dark chocolate (2 tiny postage stamp squares) every day. I have a major sweet tooth and this really helps cut my sugar cravings.


Day 1 

Breakfast: organic hot oatmeal w/ 2 Tbs ground flax seeds, 2 pcs turkey bacon (nitrate-free)

Snack: seedless cucumbers and peeled baby carrots

Lunch: 5 oz canned tuna in olive oil, spinach salad w/ low-fat shredded cheese, baco’s and balsamic vinaigrette

Snack: 2 Tbs hummus and 4 crackers

Dinner: 7 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast w/ 1/4 c. mustard for dipping, 2 c. steamed asparagus


Day 2


Breakfast: 1/2 c. egg beaters, low-fat shredded cheese, 2 pcs turkey bacon (nitrate free), whole wheat english muffin

Snack: 1 light laughing cow cheese wedge, 4 crackers, handful of strawberries

Lunch: huge spinach salad w/ shredded carrots, 1 Tbs raw pumpkin seeds, balsamic vinaigrette

Snack: cooked/peeled beets w/ 1 oz soft goat cheese

Dinner: 8 oz pan cooked cod, 2 c. steamed broccoli


Day 3


Breakfast: 1/2 c. scrambled eggs (egg beaters), 1 whole grain waffle w/ light drizzle of honey

Snack: 1/2 c. legumes, 1/4 c. chopped avocado, 1 c. cherry tomatoes

Lunch: turkey wrap (turkey breast, lettuce & tomato, whole wheat tortilla, 2 tsp light mayo, 1 Tbs low-fat shredded cheese)

Snack: 1 Tbs raw pumpkin seeds, 1 pear

Dinner: 7 oz grilled chicken cooked in 1 Tbs olive oil, 2 c. red peppers




Hey, may I get your opinions? I have something I’d like to ask YOU!


What is your favorite kind of sweetener?


I’ve been a long time Splenda user, but I have been wanting to get off that stuff and find something more natural, non-artificial. I tried using agave nectar for several weeks. That was before I started reading some pretty scary things about it and what it does to your body. Not good. I’ve also tried Stevia but didn’t find it too palatable. Then there’s honey, but I’m afraid of all that sugar, and sugar is on my no-no list. For example, I drink hot tea every morning and I HAVE to have it sweet. Do you have any tried and true sweetener recommendations that are natural, non-artificial?



  1. I like sun crystals. They are natural and only 5 calories a packet. They are part stevia and part sugar but taste much much better than pure stevia.

  2. I couldn't find a sweetener substitute! Switching to jasmine tea (unsweetened) helped a bit, but those little yellow packets I rashly bought in bulk keep being used up...

  3. Hey Jennifer,

    Thanks so much for sharing your menus, it was fascinating. I think all the food sounds so healthy and actually delicious! I love that you still get to have your chocolate every day. As far as sweeteners, i use splenda, didn't like stevia either, no agave, and honey is so strong. You know what you might try is real maple syrup. It's light and tastes wonderful and it's good for you too!


  4. I started using Stevia in the raw packets..... not as "nice" as Splenda... but I am making myself look at the benefits of "getting off of artificial sweeteners" !! Terri

  5. I really like coconut palm sugar. Yes, it is a sugar, but it's also quite healthy...especially if you're only going to use it in a cup of tea. You can read about it and order it here: http://www.essentiallivingfoods.com/low-glycemic-sweeteners/organic-coconut-sugar.html

    By the way, (and not that I'm an expert), but I noticed your diet is very low fat. Have you thought about adding in more good fats, like butter, coconut oil, and more olive oil? There is a book called Mary Enig called Eat Fat, Lose Fat that talks about getting our fats right for weight loss. Just a thought!

  6. that should say a book BY Mary Enig, not called Mary Enig! Grrr!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing more of your weight loss journey with us. Keep up the good work! I really need to get started this month myself! I usually don't like tea w/o sugar, but I have found two teas that have so much flavor I promise you they are really good plain. My favorite is Good Earth brand, Organic Original Sweet & Spicy Herbal Tea (there's a drawing of a deer on the box). Another good one is Celestial Seasonings brand, Bengal Spice herbal tea (there's a Bengal tiger on the box). Here's to your continued success!

  8. I use pure Stevia. Sweetleaf is the brand. They carry the powdered form and the liquid form. The liquid comes in regular flavor, along with other ones such as Valencia Orange (which is amazing in green tea), English Toffee (great with coffee)and a bunch of others. 100% natural and it sweetens with just a touch.

  9. We as a family have started on a healthy eating plan, more vegetables, sweets on w/e. We are starting to use stevia. My son made lemonade with it and it was great. An 1/8 tsp in 2l of H2O and 1/3 c lemon juice and it was on the sweet side. This is an all natural sweetener.

    I make a homemade dressing with approx 1/2 c oil and 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar and or lemon juice. I add some basil, oregano and minced garlic. This makes a delicious dressing for salad!
    Wishing you all the best with your weight loss!

  10. I've started using a bit of agave nectar in my iced coffee as well as using it to cook. For me, it is a perfect substitute. I've also been able to find big bottles of it at wholesale clubs like BJs.

  11. I like Xylitol. It's good for keeping blood sugar stable and doesn't cause tooth decay. I enjoy it in my hot tea, especially!

  12. I use sugar for sweetener but only sparingly. I don't like artificial sweeteners at all. I always put sugar in my coffee and tea. I'll use a bit on oatmeal when I have it. It works for me.

  13. Jennifer,

    I have been eating whole/clean foods for quite some time. I've never used artificial sweeteners or drank diet soda. The bottom line is that sugar is sugar. Too much sugar—whether it’s marketed as “natural” or not—can harm your health. Even sweeteners touted as natural or nutritious, like the ones suggested, don’t typically add a significant source of vitamins or minerals to your diet. But in moderation, there’s nothing wrong with the sweetness that a little sugar adds to life. So if you’re going to eat it, eat the good stuff...just not too much of it.

    Your Friend,

  14. I have a B.A in Food and Nutrition and have always eaten natural, organic as much as possible, and homegrown. I've never used artificial sweeteners and I love to have my cup of tea in the morning and sweet...so I use organic sugar. I know sugar is not good for you, but I believe it is better than all that fake cr*p (pardon my language). While studying for my degree in college, we were taught that eating healthy, wholesome foods, meals in small portions and the sweets and fats in moderation is the best way to go. Your diet is very similar to how I eat. Try a little organic sugar and see how you like it. P.S My mom had a brain tumor the size of an orange removed when she was 50 yrs. old. The Doctor said he truly believed it was from all the diet soda she consumes and that it grew so fast from all the hormones she was taking(menopause). First thing he said to my Dad was to go home and throw away all her meds. And no more diet soda. Did she listen. For about a year. She is still alive and almost 70, healthy, active, but drinking diet soda again.

  15. Like another blogger/commenter (Kim) above, I use xylitol in my coffee or tea...and lately, I've been using Truvia, another natural sweetener. Please, get off the Splenda!

  16. I am wondering if you might re-visit your meal plan again! Your eating plan is one that I really love. So I'm using the first three days as a model. Just wondering if you might share 3-4 more days with your readers! I appreciate all your tips. I've yet to drink the ACV but plan to do so tonight before supper.

  17. Hi Jennifer,

    I know you said you weren't really liking the taste of Stevia very much, and I must agree that most of them are pretty bad tasting. However, Trader Joe's has Stevia in packets, just like sugar or Sweet & Lo or Splenda, and it is the only one I can use. It really is good stuff, doesn't leave that nasty aftertaste. I've been known to buy 2 or 3 boxes of it at a time.

    I'm so glad to hear you are getting off of the artificial sweeteners! I call them "cancer and Alzheimer's in a can" whenever I see someone drink a diet soda. You probably know to avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) at all costs as well, but I heard that it is being labeled as plain corn syrup these days, so it is harder to find it on food labels. You will also want to avoid agave nectar or syrup ... not good stuff.



  18. I am addicted to diet coke; having said that, I rarely use sugar (artificial or otherwise) at home; I don't drink tea or coffee, and don't need sugar on fruits or cereal, for example, so it's not often that I think about sugar. Good luck with finding something that works for you!

  19. Jennifer, what do you use to track your food? Is it simply a notebook or do you use an online program? I read these posts last year but am just now getting myself into weight loss mode again. Thanks for sharing your amazing lists. What I love the best is that your "Do" list is so much longer than your "Don't" ~ so much more positive!!!

    1. Shannon - I write every thing down on paper, and occasionally the "notepad" app on my iPhone. I'm planning on writing a new post about my diet, weight loss, before & after pics, and recipes. Stay tuned...



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