Although my progress has slowed way down, I am still feeling pretty upbeat about where I am at. I know what you are thinking, “Maybe you shouldn’t bake so much!” But seriously. I can’t. I love it. Baking makes me feel human. Taking simple, everyday ingredients to create something that makes other people happy. That is my calling. So I can’t stop baking and I refuse to make tasteless, expensive Paleo desserts that aren’t even yummy, but are still not that good for you. I would rather have a tiny slice of heaven than a big bite of bleh.
So it might not be fair to call my extremely slow weight loss a plateau because I did stop doing PiYo 6x a week and that is one of the main differences. I also know that exercise isn’t a surefire way to lose weight. Nutrition is really where weight loss happens. Als0, it is spring and beautiful out!!! I would rather invest energy into working in my garden or walking my dog. As much as I liked the way I felt during and after PiYo, with the school year exhausting me and so much to do around the house and yard, it is not the healthy habit I want to establish this year. I would prefer to live a more active lifestyle overall, not for 25 minutes a day. Maybe I am being weird about this, but when I look into my future, I don’t envision myself getting in yoga pants and a sports bra everyday after work. I see myself going to the park with babies, weeding the garden, running errands and cleaning the house with Ryan, and going for nice long walks with my beautiful dog. Yeah, maybe I could do both, but as a woman of many hobbies, I would rather focus on the things I am truly passionate about.
So I feel as though I can’t whine about not losing weight this past six weeks when I did make one pretty major lifestyle change. I did finally get back down to 165but breaking that is going to be the toughest. Last week, I had lemon water and green tea every morning. I also took my vitamin D, fiber supplements, and probiotic daily (first week ever not forgetting a single day. Loving the bullet journal! It really helps me.) Sipping black coffee in the AM. I am back on Shakeology for lunch and eating a 1/4 cup of nuts for a snack at work.I discovered Salt and Vinegar almonds and Jalapeno Cashews last week so not exactly your typical boring snack of nuts. After work, I snack on some leftovers from the night before (if I could eat dinner earlier, I would, but Ryan has been getting home pretty late). For dinners, I have been killing it with menu planning and actually following it!
Monday– Pork ribs with dry spice rub (pressure cooked for 30 minutes) and steamed broccoli (bought the Trader Joes kind you microwave inside the bag)
Tuesday– Lettuce wrapped burgers with caramelized onions, bacon, and guacamole. Cruciferous crunch salad
Wednesday– Chicken satay (new recipe, loved it! Will post later as I forgot to take photos…again) and cauliflower kimchee fried rice
Thursday– Taco salad (refried beans, a little cheese, sour cream, guacamole, ground turkey, salsa and tons of lettuce (I used the butter lettuce from my garden! It was so perfect I almost cried)
Friday– Bibimbap (mixed Korean veggies, spicy marinated pork, fried egg, cauliflower rice) and miso soup
Saturday– Steak, caesar salad, and sauteed red wine mushrooms. It was incredible. Recipe to come.
Sunday– It was Ryan’s grandma’s birthday! I got really lucky and there were tons of healthy protein and salad options over at Ryan’s aunts house. Thanks Brenda! I am the one that brought the sugar and carbs to the party… ironic.
Monday– marinaded cod from Trader Joes, spicy roasted bak choy, and leftover bibimbap
Tuesday– We are going to Bark in the Park! Mariners game where we can bring our Teddy Bear. So excited, but eating at Safeco field will mean one heck of a treat meal. Two words: garlic fries.
Wednesday– Fajita steak salad
Thursday– Caramelized onion soup (TJ’s) and chicken cobb salad
Friday– Day off work. Should mean I spend my day cooking an elaborate meal, but I think day off means eat out. I am thinking a gyro salad might be a good way to end the week and start a 4-day weekend.
So back to baked goods. It was Grandma’s birthday so of course I wanted to bake her cupcakes. I picked mandarin orange pretty quickly because I know grandma likes fruit flavors and whipped cream. What I love about this cupcake is everything. There are tons of variations of this cake and I have probably tried a good 90% of them. And I am done searching. The cake recipe itself came in the holiday Costco cookbook that comes out once a year during the holidays. I have 3 seasons worth and there are usually quite a few gems in there. This recipe is super easy because it uses a cake mix as the base.
Now, before you judge me for using a cake mix, know this: don’t fix what’s not broken. I doubt anyone would guess a cake mix was utilized in the making of this cake. I have a personal weakness for yellow cake mix from a box though. Add chocolate frosting and you have my requested birthday cake. This was the only form of baking my mom did when we were kids. Not that she would ever buy us canned frosting. We had one whisk, one mixing bowl and one bundt pan. She would let me mix it all up and Julie and I would fight over who got to stir. We almost always overmixed and overbaked it because I wanted to draw out the baking process as long as I could. It tasted more like cornbread than cake but when my mom did make it, it was such a treat. I think that yellow cake is still the only thing she has ever truly “baked” in her life. So yellow cake mix specifically has a special place in my heart and my memories. So don’t knock it 🙂
Now trust me, there are a lot of versions of this cake out there, but this one reigns supreme. The original frosting calls for Cool Whip. The first three years I made this cake, I followed the instructions exactly, but it didn’t always turn out the same way. It wouldn’t pipe right, the texture was off, or I didn’t thaw the Cool Whip by the time I needed it. Once I got a real job with real money, I was ready to buy some ingredients and experiment. Real whipping cream was the game changer. Now it always whips up perfect and pipes well. I love how you can see the little bubbles of mandarin orange pieces in the whipped cream. I also prefer this in cupcakes vs cake form because it is easy to eat and with the homemade whipped cream, it pipes beautifully. PS. This one is another crowd pleaser. I made these for a baby shower back in December and I also made pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and chocolate with chocolate. Well, we were out of the mandarin orange before anyone even picked up a pumpkin… rude..
Mandarin Orange Cupcakes
- 1 box of yellow cake mix
- 1 cup of vegetable or canola oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 cans of mandarin oranges, 1 drained and 1 with the juice
Mandarin Orange Whipped Cream
- 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
- 1 large package of instant vanilla pudding
- 2 cans of mandarin oranges, drained well
- Optional Garnish: an extra can of mandarin oranges and mint leaves
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake pans with liners. (30 cupcakes)
- In one large mixer bowl, add all the ingredients for the cupcakes. Use the paddle attachment to combine ingredients well for 2 minutes, going from low to medium high speed. The mandarin orange pieces should be well broken up.
- Divide the batter into 30 cupcake wrappers. Bake for ~15 minutes. Let cool on racks all the way before frosting. (Now is a good time to put your bowl and whisk attachment in the fridge or freezer)
- While your mixing bowl gets cold, take your 2 cans of drained mandarin oranges and put it in a bowl with the vanilla pudding mix. Using a hand mixer or sturdy whisk, mix well until the mandarin oranges have broken up completely (can also do this in a KitchenAid with paddle attachment). Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
- Using your chilled bowl and whisk attachment, beat the heavy whipping cream into stiff peaks.
- Carefully fold the mandarin orange pudding into the heavy whipping cream. Adding a few spoonfuls at a time until well incorporated. Chill for about 10-15 minutes before piping. This is just to ensure that the pudding mix is doing its job and holding it together.
- Using a piping bag or just spooning it on, decorate your cupcakes! Garnish with a mandarin orange and/or a mint leaf.