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Shannon Cooked 7 More Recipes--and Broke Her Plateau

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Editor's note: Shannon is using The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight to teach herself to cook. She is blogging about her progress.

I’d love to be able to say that I made as many recipes as last time, but life got busy again.  Work and a major research paper for school took up a lot of my time.  I did however cook seven recipes and am proud to say we didn’t eat one boxed meal this time around.  There are still a few in the cupboard so I know that I will eventually use them but I am trying to outlast my husband.  I am hoping that he breaks down and makes one before I do.  For today’s blog I made Nutty Fruity Granola, Egg-White Omelets with Spinach and Mushrooms, Spinach Salad with Cherries and Pomegranate Vinaigrette, Lemon Chicken with Spinach Pasta, Roasted Root Vegetables, Herbed Mushrooms with Bacon, and Sweet and Spicy Pecans.  I noticed that I had a spinach theme going on, but that’s OK. I’m getting to that tipping point where I am learning to love and even crave veggies and spinach is one of my favorites.  Raw, cooked, it doesn’t matter!

I love spinach and it is working.  I am happy to say that since the new year I have broken through that plateau of 200.  I have lost 3 more pounds for a running total of 73 pounds.  Only 17 more pounds to go until I am at my goal!  I am excited and oddly nervous about reaching my goal but am confident that day will come.    
Well, back to cooking... 

I’ll start off with the Nutty Fruity Granola (page 87).  It was a very easy recipe to make.  As I spread it out on the cookie sheet I was afraid that it would all stick together and come out as one solid brick because of the honey.  But when I stirred it halfway through I was pleasantly surprised.  It was so nice and easy to stir around.  By the time it was done the house was filled with a nice nutty aroma.  I have been using this as a topping for yogurt, fruit or in some cases yogurt and fruit.  I will definitely make this recipe again. 

The first thing I have to say about the Egg-White Omelet with Spinach and Mushrooms (page 89) is to trust Meg.  My husband was with me when I was making these and we really were not sure when the egg whites were cooked.  The recipe said they were cooked when "set."   We didn’t know what that meant, so my husband suggested flipping it over to make sure that side was cooked.  Don’t do this!  The egg whites will stick.  Since it was his idea, my husband ate that one.  On the second attempt I paid special attention to the egg whites.  As the recipe states. add your veggies once the omelet is "partially set," this is when you touch the top side of the omelet in the pan and just a little bit of white is left behind on your finger.  It is completely set when it doesn’t leave any white on your finger.  It only takes a couple of minutes between the two.  I hope my test is accurate because it turned out great and all in one piece.  It was fluffy, moist and tasty.  I really liked this omelet.  I was afraid it was going to be plain but adding the parmesan to the egg whites added a nice, subtle flavor.  

The only thing that I would do next time is add some red pepper, onions or maybe some garlic, just some extra veggies because as I said I am learning to love them. 

The Spinach Salad with Cherries and Pomegranate Vinaigrette (page 113) was another salad making me long for the warmth of the summer sun.  This salad was very easy to make and my husband absolutely loved it.  It has sweet but sour tastes that go really well together and wake up your taste buds.  When making the vinaigrette, I’ll be honest: I had no idea what emulsify meant so I had to look it up.   A brief definition is: to combine two liquids which normally don't mix easily, such as oil and water.  I did this successfully with the blender.

If you are looking for a filling meal, try the Lemon Chicken with Spinach Pasta (page 263).  This is another meal that makes you feel like you are dining out.  Restaurant taste, but you know all the ingredients.  The lemon flavoring is understated but nice.  I have had so many "lemon" flavors that taste fake, like the artificial taste of a cough drop.  This was not like that at all.  One helping is all I needed to feel full with this recipe for only 354 calories.

I’ve heard so many good things about the Roasted Root Vegetables (page 315) that I had to try making them.  This was the only recipe that I made this week that I was a little disappointed in.  I would like some more spices or seasoning in this.  I am just not sure what else to add, maybe something with just a hint of spice, cayenne?  If I make this again I may try some experimentation. 

My absolute favorite recipe this time was the Herbed Mushrooms with Bacon (page 321).  There were so many flavours that blended so well together.  I don’t even think that it took me the 1/2 hour it states to cook this one.  I used portobello, white, oyster and cremini mushrooms but I think it would suit any mushroom as a mix or even individually.  I can see these as a side dish, an appetizer or if I knew more about cooking I think that they would go well with some kind of light cream sauce over pasta as a main dish.  If you like mushrooms, I highly recommend this recipe.  My husband loved it and didn’t even complain that it was turkey bacon.

On to my husband’s favorite of the week: Sweet and Spicy Pecans (page 335).   I found these quite delicious as well.  What could be easier? Toss some pecans a few spices and some egg white into a bowl, on to a pan and into the oven.  They are wonderful still warm out of the oven or cooled.  I didn’t try it but could imagine them warm over a single scoop of premium vanilla ice cream as a treat, yummy.          
I am not sure what recipes I will make for next time.  I like not being committed to anything in particular because my moods for food can change quite quickly.  I am thinking of trying to sneak one fish recipe in and hopefully not get too many complaints from husband. 

Which fish recipe from 'The SparkPeople Cookbook' do you think is best for a non-fish eater?

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Thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Great post &recipes worth using thank you Report
good article Report
thanks I will try these recipes Report
OMG...thanks...can't wait to use these recipes.... Report
I asked for & got the spark cookbook for Christmas (2016) & made a resolution to cook one healthy recipe every week. I have some it, so far .... yeah! Great recipes, also use those on spark people.com. Report
Thank you Report
Definitely something I need to get into doing...cooking healthy meals Report
I love what you said about the "tipping point" when we start to love and crave veggies. What a wonderful way to tip over! Baby carrots, asparagus, brussels sprouts, red sweet peppers.... Report
Mmmm, the sweet and spicy pecans sure sounded VERY good. Can you substitute and just make the candied pecans with brown sugar instead of the spicy? Report
Once again, Shannon a fantastic blog! Thank you and PLEASE keep doing them! I think you easily graduated out of non cook to cook...keep going for Chef! Just loved reading your husband had to eat the flipped egg White omelet...I laughed out loud! Thanks again! Report
Great blog. There is nothing like a cookbook where you use more than a couple of the recipes. Report
When I make roasted root veggies, I use cayenne and cumin to spice them up. Yumm! Report
Super blog, Shannon! I enjoyed it so much, I plan to go back and read your other entries. I just got my Sparkpeople Cookbook. This weekend I made Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken, a hit with the entire family. I also made Pecan Chicken with Maple Citrus Sauce. WOW! It's delicious. Keep up the great work! Cooking is a skill that not only will contribute to a healthier you, but will allow you to give joy to others! Blessings! Report
Fantastic, Shannon! Congratulations on breaking through that plateau.

Be sure to spread the root vegetables out in a single layer with some space around them. That allows the wonderful carmelizing to occur. Report
My one recipe for roasted vegetables include spinach and beets, carrots, a small amount of sweet potato, parsnips, lots of spoonfuls of minced garlic and lots and lots of onions. If I use brussel sprouts I slit the tops with an X to cook through. The spinach is one of my favourite parts. I toss them in a ziplock with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of rosemary. Then I can freeze what I don't want and the rest are ready to throw in the oven. I cook them 1.5 hours until the onions caramelize. My second recipe goes Maroccan with much the same vegetables but instead of rosemary I used cinnamon, curry, and cumin. You are inspiring. I have enjoyed many of Meg's recipes. Right now though I am exploring coconut flour so will try and blog my experience using that. Thanks! Report
I love the Roasted Root Veggies, but then I like all of the individual veggies on their own too. I didn't have any Rosemary, so I substituted Dill.

Great blog - love the reviews!
Great blog filled with useful tips! I'll have to try the egg white omelet. I have always been apprehensive as it seems easy to screw up but you step by step makes me think I can do it! Report
Wonder blog...thank you so much for sharing Report
I just love your reviews of the recipes, it's like a friend telling me about it. I wasn't going to by the book because I usually scour the internet for recipes, but I'm going to buy it now and cook my way through it. Report
WAY TO GO SHANNON!!! Suggestion...for spicing up the Roasted Root Vegetables...mix together 1cup plain fat free yogurt or 11/2c plain greek yogurt, 1tsp ground curry powder, 1tsp ground coriander (walmart carries new roasted ground coriander that is awesome ), 1tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp salt ( I normally don't use salt but this is needed in this recipe and I use pink Himalayan salt that still has all its minerals ) 1/ 8 to 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1clove garlic( minced)...add diced root vegetables coating all. Then I bake uncovered till slightly soft. Next I place in a covered baking dish sprinkle some red wine diluted with water 1/4cup combined total. Continue to bake till completely tender. This will definitely spice those veggies up. PS some of the veggies I use are diced sweet potatoes & cauliflower. I Hope this helps. Report
You're doing a great job not just trying new recipes, but helping us get excited about trying them out as well. Sorry you didn't love the roasted root vegetables as much as I did, I really loved them - maybe the next day once the flavors had a chance to blend? Or like you said, tweak the recipe to your flavor preferences. Have fun and keep cooking! Report
Great blog! Congratulations, you're making some terrific food and feeling great because of it. Report
I need to get this cookbook ordered this week. The recipies sounds great. Thanks for the awesome blog. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. Report
Vegetarian here - enough recipes for us in this book? I hope so! :-) Report
Way to go on getting rid of those boxed meals! Try the Grilled Spicy Fish Tacos on page 235. The trick is picking a good white fish. Don't give up if you don't like your attempt, just pick a different fish. We like halibut. Report
I am so proud of you! I need to use this method to get my husband to eat healthier. He doesn't eat breakfast and he doesn't like "healthy" foods much. Report
Way to go! Keep it up :) Report
Wow! That is fantastic! Congrats! I just bought the book yesterday and am making one of Meg's slow cooker meals today. I love that you are getting your husband involved. Keep up the great work. Nice job with the pics too. Your enthusiasm really comes through. Report
I don't like to cook but this blog makes me happy that I ordered the SparkPeople Cookbook. I will receive it this week. I can't wait. Report
I hate to cook but am happy that others enjoy it. Report
Think I really need to get the cookbook instead of simply reding about it. Thanks Shannon for the terrific blog post. Report
Nice job, Shannon! Glad you enjoy cooking, too! (I am absolutely in love with spinach, too, and can't get enough of it.) Report
I love your blog, Shannon! I've made a couple of the recipes your talk about already, and you've made me want to try a few more of them. Thanks for that, and congrats on ending the plateau! Report
Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce are amazing in mashed sweet potatoes! It'd be good on the roasted root veggies as well, I'm sure!
Nicely done; thanks for the pictures! For the fish, I would go with a white fish, such as cod. I bake it, as I have no grill, and top with the mango salsa (or just plain lemon). I love the salmon recipes, but then, I like salmon. I think it may have a stronger flavor, and can be pretty pricey if you make it and won't eat it. Report
I made the Roasted Root Vegetables last weekend and thought they were quite tasty (I used plenty of pepper, thyme and rosemary). I would like to try them with some chili powder and cumin as the book also suggested. I think the extra spiciness would be delish!

Those mushrooms look SO good! I will have to try those. Thanks for sharing your experience and pics with us! Report
Wow. Congrats and thanks for going before us! I enjoy reading about your experience with your comments and seeing the pics. Report
Wow, Shannon, you are doing really well. I don't think that you can call yourself a non-cook anymore, although I do hope that you'll keep doing your column because I am really enjoying it. Report
these recipes look very yummy! Report
Thank you for sharing. I am tempted to get this cookbook. It sounds like there are so many yummy recipes in it. Report
I love "The Downies' Honey Ginger Salmon" on page 227. This is the only fish I've been able to get my daughter to eat. Thanks for the great review. Report
Some of these recipes sound really tasty! I love spinach, too...raw or cooked...and the omelet and salad look really good, too!

Thanks for sharing this part of your journey with us. I really appreciate your honesty. Report
I love how you do this with your husband, I wish my boyfriend who lives with me would be more involved in my journey. But at least he isn't like completely absent, he does encourage me and give me compliments and notice my changes in lifestyle and progress.

I really love the part where you say it was his idea to flip the omelet so you made him eat it! Nice work! Report
I love all the recipes in 'The SparkPeople Cookbook' Report
I think I need to buy this book. I feel like I am in a plateau and not losing weight. I need to switch things around. Thanks for your blog, I'm going to go look at other ones you have written. Report
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