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Gluten Free Lemon Meringue Tartlets

GFP-Perfect-Pie-Crust-US_7-37880-96055-0-250x250An Easy Gluten Free Recipe for Lemon Meringue Tartlets

This will make 24 tarts.

Use one half of the box of the Glutino Gluten Free Pantry Pefect Pie Crust Mix to prepare the shells. Follow the directions for the pre-baked crust. You will cut circles with a cookie cutter roughly 2.5″ diameter from the dough, and place in greased mini cupcake/tart tin, and bake as directed.

INGREDIENTS

  1. For lemon curd
    • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter (I think real butter is best, but feel free to use a substitute you like baking with)
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
    • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup sugar (you can substitute stevia or even agave here for a sugar free version)
    • 3 large eggs
  2. For meringue
    • 3 large egg whites
    • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 3/4 cup sugar (you can substitute stevia here for a sugar free version)

PREPARATION

  1. Make lemon curd:
    1. Cut butter into pieces and in a heavy saucepan cook with zest, lemon juice, and sugar over moderate heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and mixture just comes to a simmer. In a bowl whisk together eggs and whisk in lemon mixture slowly until combined well. Transfer lemon curd to pan and heat over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until it just begins to simmer. Pour lemon curd through a fine sieve into a bowl and cool slightly. Chill lemon curd, its surface covered with plastic wrap, at least 2 hours, or until cold, and up to 3 days.
    2. Fill pre-baked tartlet shells in baking cups with lemon curd. Chill tartlets, covered, 1 hour.
    3. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Make meringue:
    1. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat whites with a pinch salt until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat whites until they hold soft peaks. Gradually add sugar, beating until meringue holds stiff peaks.
    2. Transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tip and pipe meringue 2 inches high onto each tartlet, completely covering lemon curd.
    3. Bake tartlets in middle of oven 3 minutes, or until meringue tips are just browned, and cool in cups on racks. Chill tartlets in airtight containers at least 2 hours, or until cold, and up to 1 day. Keep tartlets chilled until ready to serve.

lemon+meringue+bitesThese came out delicious at our recent party where we screened the video of the musical I just performed in – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. People were asking for the recipe and there were none left when the party was over.  I used a French Riviera/Casino theme for the party as that is the setting from the play. I will post some of the other recipes here because it seems it was all a hit.

Cheese & Chocolate!

I was watching GMA yesterday and they referred to a study recently done about the addictive qualities of cheese. Well I feel like a study was not necessary. I know many people (myself included) who can tell you with out a doubt that they are addicted to cheese.

Now, like everything else if you are actively trying to loose weight full fat cheese needs to be eaten in moderation. But, cheese is one of those things I refuse to give up entirely (kinda like chocolate). I have had to give up quite a lot on a gluten free diet, so cheese and chocolate are staying.

I think you need to remember that dieting should not be about deprivation, but about moderation and healthy choices. You need to still enjoy food, just not eat it for comfort or distraction, but when your body is hungry. Eating mindlessly is a very easy trap to fall into. Before getting on the computer or watching the television it is probably a good idea to fix a healthy snack to keep nearby (this especially goes for computer time at work).

Finding other comfort, pleasure and distraction is key. I can’t tell you what will work for you. I can tell you what works for me: ANYTHING creative. I write, draw, paint, sing, act, and design… This refocuses me and brings me joy. Here is our mantel decorated and ready for Halloween.

2015-10-17 18.33.49

I like to visit with friends who understand that I like to make healthy choices and just talk, and share stories. Find what distracts you from stress and sadness – a walk outside, your pets, your children, solving problems or puzzles? It’s different for everyone.

I have a callback for that show tonight that I mentioned in my previous blog: Four Weddings and an Elvis at Rover Dramawerks in Plano, TX – and I am very excited. This in and of it self helps me stay on track. If I know I am going to perform, or even audition, I need to look my best that helps me stay motivated.

A bunch of friends went out to the 2105 Halloween Block Party on Cedar Springs. Now being gluten free I can’t drink beer and try hard not to drink too many of my calories. I now enjoy some hard cider, and can still have some party time with friends. We dressed as a bowling team (team name The Gutters and the Udders) and each couple had their own couple name. This was my mom’s idea and it was a huge hit as our photos appeared in Guide Live and on Flashy Foto’s Facebook page. Here we all are:

Halloween is hard on a diet, especially for a chocolate lover (and worse if you have kids). When purchasing candy for your trick-or-treaters try and buy stuff you are just not that crazy about. Kids will pretty much enjoy any candy you give them. You could also bag them individually if you have the time, which may avert you from breaking into the candy. Don’t deprive yourself entirely just don’t overdo it. One Resees Peanut Butter Cup will not destroy your life or pack on 5 pounds, but a whole bag of them might.

Let me know how your Halloween goes, and remember to HAVE FUN!

 

Before and After… with or without Boy George!

Normally this would probably be a combination of embarrassing and humiliating with a touch of pride and, wow – go me!  But, some of these have already been seen on national television this summer so much of my visceral reaction has been permanently eliminated. I’ll include that crazy life story here because it too has been part of the journey.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, DO take a before picture – total body.  I didn’t really let myself be photographed from head to toe when I was at my biggest.  So doing a true juxtaposition of before and after was a challenge.  I don’t really have a photo of myself at my largest, but these are pretty close.

Another motivator for me was taking photos of my scale when I stepped on it and saw progress.  I still have many of them – and used the first below 200 pound shot for the party invites.  I don’t have them all, but here are some that kept me going.  Each goal attained within the larger one made it easier to keep moving forward.

Believe me each and every time I watched Biggest Loser or Extreme Weight Loss Makeover after the weight loss I’d kick myself and say…that could’ve been me. It never dawned on me to try to get on one of those shows – though I watched them for inspiration.  So karma caught up with me this summer on our vacation. I was raised in New York and miss home each and every day.  So as often as I can go back I do. This trip was particularly special because we took our nephews who had never been to New York before, and have grown up in Wichita Falls, TX (population: 104,898) There were three must do’s on their list (BTW they are 14 and 9):

  • Eat a hot dog from a vendor cart
  • See the Statue of Liberty
  • Be on television on the TODAY show

Now none of these things for a native New Yorker are unattainable, however I simply had no interest whatsoever in waking up around 4 AM to be at Rockefeller Plaza before daybreak to ensure a spot at the front for the TODAY show.  I don’t even watch the TODAY show, LOL – I am a GMA girl.  But, being the good aunt that I am – I made sure to work our TODAY show appearance into the itinerary.

During vacation preparations it came to my attention that a surprise concert was being held one of our mornings in New York – at the TODAY show – by Boy George.  Well, this changed my entire outlook on our 4 AM wake up.  As a child of the 80’s (and a member of the GLBT community) I LOVE Boy George.  Now I was equally determined to get there on time to be front and center so that I could see my teenage idol.  I pre-registered with the TODAY show to get the “special passes” to be closer to the front, the boys colored their home made sign, we rose bright and early and arrived at the crack of dawn that morning.

We were ushered right into the front pit where the stage was and had a spot up against the railings where the boys could rest their poster.  I was an AMAZING aunt.  After a long time waiting for things to get started the warm up band came out and began playing some of Boy George’s oldest hits.  The whole audience was singing and my nephews were like: “Who’s Boy George?”

Various NBC employees and affiliates were working the crowds – asking them if they knew the lyrics, etc. (I know all of them!)  There were two particular individuals who approached us with an entirely different question.  They asked me if I had heard of their Thursday Ambush Makeovers.  Not being a TODAY show watcher (which I certainly did NOT mention), I had not.  I was quickly informed that Thursday’s in the summer they come out into the public and choose two women for a head-to-toe makeover, and would I be interested?  Well, hell yeah I was interested in having a makeover.  I had just lost all this weight and it was going to be my 5 minutes of fame.  They told me to wait a few minutes and they would come back to me to let me know if I had been chosen. Well about 5-7 minutes later I was being rushed back stage to be interviewed and then completely made over.  Here is the link to my makeover for those of you who have not seen it.

TODAY SHOW AMBUSH MAKEOVER

 

Needless to say it was an amazing experience.  Here is the reaction shot edited by friends:

Jans reaction

This was all well and good – and I was thrilled with the results, BUT… I never heard or saw Boy George (the one reason I actually woke up at 4 AM).  But guess who DID get to not only hear him, but meet him and get photos?  You got it, my family…none of whom are the big fan that I am.  So if you are out there anywhere @BoyGeorge – I cannot believe that I missed you.  Maybe I’ll have another opportunity before I die.

Let me tell you how hard it was being in New York around all my most favorite trigger foods and having to stay focused on the comfort and pleasure I was getting from being with my loved ones and in the city I love versus the comfort and pleasure of a real bagel.

In New York it is MUCH easier however to eat a gluten free diet, but I had to forgo the vendor hot dog in Central Park, the pretzel, real pizza… the list goes on.  I have learned to make the company and the environment my focus and not the food.  It is not an easy transformation – it takes time and will power, but it is achievable.  It is more easily achieved when you have the support and encouragement of those around you.  Make it a point to surround yourself with people who will lift you up and help you move forward, not those that bring you down and/or sabotage your efforts.

In my next post I will include my thought process when making choices off of menus.  Just remember do not let one bad day, or one bad choice define you or break your will.  No one is perfect… even those whose bodies look like they are.

How I Lost 135+ Pounds…

No Biggest Loser, no Extreme Weight Loss Makeover and no gastric surgery….

People ask tattoome this question almost every day since December of 2014. How did you lose all that weight?  How did you stay motivated? How are you keeping it off? Did you have gastric surgery?

I am going to try and answer everyone’s questions here, and by starting this blog I hope to motivate and continue to help people.

MOTIVATION

This was actually the hardest part of the process, and continues to be.   I cannot put my finger on the exact moment I basically cracked, but I do remember this – stepping on the scale sometime towards the end of April of 2014 and seeing the number 287.  I freaked out. I thought OMG I am closing in on 300 pounds, the prior month at my yearly physical my doctor told me I was prediabetic, I am going to be one of those people who can’t get out of bed without the assistance of a hydraulic hoist!  Something snapped.  I can’t tell you what, I can’t tell you why… all I can say is that I realized at that moment that I was going to be 45 years old in just under a year and I felt like I was 85.  I needed to act quickly because it was only going to get worse and only get harder to do something about it.  So that’s basically how the journey began. I vowed to reach my goal weight by my 45th birthday.

I had lost weight after babies in the past with the help of Weight Watchers and to this day still believe it is the ONLY healthy way to lose weight as it is truly a life style change and not a diet.  Not having time for the meetings, and not wanting the initial humiliation of that first weigh in, I joined online, and began immediately counting points and getting rid of all the trigger foods in the house.

Going into a public gym feeling as self-conscious as I did was not remotely an option. So I began slowly moving at home.  I walked the dogs every day. Then (being the crazy off kilter person I am) I started doing Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies II (I still love that workout – just the music makes it fun). I couldn’t do it with all the gusto of my youth or even make it through the whole work out at the beginning – but I was determined to not give up. Still too embarrassed to enter a gym I purchased an inexpensive exercise bike/elliptical machine.  I began alternating my friend Richard with my new friend Elliptical every day.  At that point I was only exercising once a day, but I tracked how many steps I took with a pedometer and roughly how many calories I thought I might be burning during a workout.  Believe me accuracy was not critical to me, just approximates to stay motivated.

When you ask people about weight loss they tell you don’t weigh yourself every day, do it once a week.  I firmly believe that that needs to be a personal choice for your individual psyche.  I weighed every day.  It never discouraged me, it kept me on track and kept my eye on the prize so to speak.

The first few weeks if you are doing it right, you always see some impressive results – its sticking with it afterward that’s so hard for so many.  The first two weeks I dropped roughly 8 lbs.  This was encouraging enough for me to keep going. I stuck with Weight Watchers for about three months – till my body learned portion size and healthy eating.

Having suffered with IBS since my early teens I believed that managing it was going to be a lifelong commitment.  During my weight loss journey I had come across a few different articles online which indicated that individuals with IBS may actually benefit from a gluten free diet. I had been checked for celiac disease in the past and was told that my blood work did not indicate such an allergy. I figured at this point I had nothing to lose and everything to gain if it worked.  So another round of removing food from the house began.  (I did keep a stash of real bread, etc. for Jan as this gluten free thing was not something she could get on board with.)

I also read that sugar calories were much harder to burn off than fat calories. So I began eliminating almost all refined sugar from my diet and increasing my protein intake to help build muscle and burn calories.

After three months on Weight Watchers, and exercising on my own, I had lost roughly 46 lbs.  I could now face a gym with pride – I had come this far – certainly I could do even better with real equipment and some guidance.

Eating was now more or less simple for me.  I drank ONLY water and a ton of it all day. I ate the same basic things daily:

  • Breakfast:

Steel cut oatmeal, with blueberries and toasted flax seed – [Occasionally I changed up the fruit and/or added some nuts])

  • Mid-morning snack:

A very low sugar cup of Greek yogurt (I recommend Siggi’s if you can get it) and a cup of Naked Juice’s Green Machine

  • Lunch:

Gluten free protein bar, some low-fat cheese cubes and an apple

  • Mid-afternoon snack:

A handful of cashews and/or a protein shake

  • Dinner:

A normal dinner like a medium sized steak, some rice or potatoes, a salad with sugar free dressing or some cooked green vegetables (asparagus, green beans…)

I’d try to eat dinner by 6:30 the latest so I wasn’t going to sleep on a full stomach when burning calories is more difficult. I also tried very hard not to eat after dinner.  This was hard, but when I did succumb to temptation I chose something healthy or in the very least refined sugar free (a fruit, some sugar free pudding, popcorn etc.). Being a chocoholic I stuck with dark chocolate during my weight loss, and still try to reach for it when given the option.

It’s all about movement, portion control and healthy choices.  It’s NOT easy.  Becoming gluten free has been really difficult, but also the best choice I have ever made.  I miss real pizza, real bread and real CUPCAKES!  The gluten free alternatives are not bad, but it’s still not the same. Before I fully understood what the family of gluten was comprised of, one night I made a huge vat of mushroom barley soup for my family and after having two large servings wound up in the hospital with an intestinal infection.  Needless to say – I’m staying gluten free.

So – over the next 7 months I stuck with all the above.  I went to the gym every morning for an hour (half hour of cardio and a half hour of strength/resistance training), and then again at lunch for 30 minutes of cardio (walking, elliptical, bike…).  In those seven months I lost roughly 90 pounds.

I set smaller goals throughout the journey and had a karaoke party when I dropped below 200 lbs. making sure there were healthy choices on the table along with regular “party” foods for all our guests.  We had a blast and it helped me stay motivated.

At the gym I found a trainer who would occasionally take some of her personal time to help me learn to use the machines properly, and rotate through my muscle groups: using muscle confusion and interval training.

In just under a year and right on time for my goal I had lost 135+ pounds, and weighed in at 150 lbs. I fluctuate within a healthy range of 5-6 lbs now.  Between 147 and 153.  I don’t weigh in everyday, but I do keep constant tabs to be sure I am staying on track, as my eating behaviors are not as stringent anymore.

One day while I was on the elliptical machine at the gym, I continued to stare intently at the décor on the wall to my right.  Skinny, muscular people in a variety of workout phases and activities.  There were words superimposed on these figures.  One word stuck in my head – resonated, and has never left: PERSEVERE. When I reached my goal I had this word tattooed on my body in both English and Hebrew in a design I created. It’s on my calf where I can see it at all times.  It reminds me what I went through to get here, and reminds me to keep moving forward.

Everyone says I am an entirely different person now –and honestly they are right. I do feel like an entirely different person… I feel like the person I was meant to be.

I hope this has been helpful to those of you who have asked how I got where I am.  I will answer anyone’s questions, and I will support anyone who needs help finding their motivation.  Just ask….(it’s a good place to start!)

Oh, and for those of you who have no idea why my blog is named theassofdeath, read my next post and it will become clear!

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