(157.5) Roasted Kuri Squash Soup


Roasted Kuri Squash Soup

I’ve been on winter squash buying spree lately. I can’t help it. It’s so delicious, easy to make, low in calories … and we’ll only have varieties like acorn, red kuri, and delicata a short while. I’ve been really going overboard with simple roasted delicata, eating it with almost every meal. I’ve made it stand it for chips and topped it with nacho fixings and I roasted it until crunchy enough to be squashy croutons. I have so much squash that I’ve run out of room in my kitchen and stashed a couple kuris on the shelves around my TV. Yesterday Dan said, “Did you put those pumpkins there?” As if some stranger came in while we were gone to decorate for Halloween. “They aren’t pumpkins. They’re kuri squash. And they aren’t decoration. They’re food.” At any rate, one of those kuri squash was molding a bit on the bottom so it had to be handled immediately. Continue reading →

(158) Progress Report


A pretty tree I saw on one of my long walks.

Welcome to this week’s progress report. Some people have asked me why I do this on Thursday. It’s because it’s the most removed from the weekend, which is when I’m the most likely to overindulge. This gives me a few days to mitigate weekend damage. Or, that’s my flawed thinking anyway …


Down 1.5 pounds from last week. Down 8 pounds from day 1. I’m on a stretch here where I’m losing; I know that a run of weeks where the scale seems stuck is probably coming. That’s how it goes.

Body Image

I definitely feel good about the way I look. I am working every day on appreciating my body and making an effort to lose weight at the same time. It’s a balancing act. Yesterday, my Dad told me I looked thinner. “You look different,” he said. And he continued: “You were starting to look a little a puffy before, but I wasn’t going to say to anything.” Continue reading →

(158) Why I Don’t Buy Halloween Candy


East Passyunk Pumpkin (not mine)

Let me open this post with a quote from one of my facebook friends who shall remain anonymous:

“I’m an adult”, I thought to myself at the store today. “I can buy this 3 pound bag of my favorite type of candy and save it to pass out to trick-or-treaters”

Now I’m sitting on my couch surrounded by Tootsie Roll wrappers and shame.

That story could easily be mine, though the candy would be Whoppers and the shame probably more intense. This will be my third year not buying any Halloween candy and shame-avoidance isn’t the only reason why. Continue reading →

(158.3) My Media Diet


Mustard greens from Weavers Way farm

It isn’t just my calories I’ve been paying close attention to these past seven weeks. I’ve also been monitoring the constant stream of data that flows from the various screens in my life into my brain.

When I worked at a regional magazine as the dining editor, I used to joke, “Better not edit the dining guide before lunch!” And it was true: the list of blurbs describing a hundred restaurants and their specialty dishes leaves a person hungry–hungrier than she would have been otherwise. Those were the days my packed lunch from home (maybe a tuna salad on a pita back then) was looking pretty unsexy compared to a 700-calorie tomato, basil, and mozzarella panini or Korean fried chicken wings. More often than not, I’d shove the brown bag to the back of the fridge, pretend I forgot it, and go in search of food “adventure.” Continue reading →

(158.3) Meal Plan Monday


Weekend coffee with a friend

I’m coming off a busy weekend. And looking ahead, next weekend is over scheduled, too. Nothing makes it harder for me to stay on track than consecutive weekends when I can’t dedicate a block of time of meal planning, cooking ahead, and prepping the building blocks of our meals. So this meal plan isn’t showing a great deal of culinary creativity. There’s nothing here that I haven’t made before. I did take to pinterest over the weekend to pin a few recipes I want to make on a future weekend when I have the time for a kitchen project, but it might be a while.

In the recent past, this kind of weekend would have been an excuse to let meal planning slide. “I’ll do it later,” I’d say to myself. Or, “I’ll figure it out on the fly.” Yeah right. What those excuses actually translate to is take out, tacos, restaurants, reservations, and weight gain. So even though Dan and I really did not want to do it, we went to the grocery store. I made this less-than-inspired meal plan. And I’m going to follow it.   Continue reading →

(158) Weekend Reads & Recs


I walked 7.5 miles yesterday through Philly

Welcome to Weekend Reads & Recs. If you come across something related to food, weight, or body image why don’t you send me the link at joymanning at gmail dot com?

Why Keeping Weight Off, Not Losing It, Is the Real Victory

One day earlier this week I got a text from a friend that said, “I’m listening to the Cherry Bombe podcast and Ruth Reichl is saying that she hates to admit it but not getting fat takes up a lot of brain space.” Did I immediately drop what I was doing, download the podcast, and listen to the whole thing? Of course.  A little while later I got another text telling me that Julia Turshen, the food writer and recipe developer who hosts the podcast, had written a piece on the subject of weight for Vogue magazine. That story, linked above, was even more interesting than the podcast. I relate to a lot of what she says in this piece–especially the part about trashing the pastries she’d just made for work–and I hope I can get to the place that she’s in now.   Continue reading →

(158.4) Lentil & Caramelized Onion Croquettes


My speciality: looks bad, tastes good!

It’s been a long time at this point since I was a vegetarian. In fact, I make an effort to eat more grass fed and/or organic beef, chicken, and pork than ever before. Over the years, I’ve transitioned from being a vegetarian, to a vegan, to Almost Meatless, to a real omnivore.

But through all those phases, one cookbook has remained my absolute favorite: Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. A new edition came out last year, but I didn’t buy it. My 1997 copy is too full of notes in the margins, post it notes stuck everywhere, dog eared pages marking recipes I want to try, and places where the spine is broken so the book just falls open to my most-used recipes. One of the most amazing things about the book is that as I change, I am drawn to different recipes. The book has hundreds of recipes and I’ve never made most of them. Every few months, I page through it with fresh eyes and a recipe I’ve never made calls to me. Recently, these lentils croquettes caught my attention.  Continue reading →

(159.5) Progress Report


Roasted delicata squash: a fall favorite

Ok, I’m going to try to structure these weekly progress reports in a way that breaks out the various parts of my wellness project. Did I miss any key category? Let me know.


Down 1.2 pounds from last week. Down 6.5 pounds from day one. It’s a good feeling to be more securely in the 150s! I feel like I’m making progress. Slow progress, but that’s the kind I’m after. I think losing weight slowly improves your changes of keeping it off.

Body Image

This week, I got my second Stitch Fix box, which positively affected my body image (or maybe a more positive body image affected my reaction to it?) even though one thing in the box was a bit small. I’m going to sum this up by sharing something you may have missed that I wrote in the comments of that post. One commenter remarked that she couldn’t understand why I want to lose weight. I think this is a legitimate point. Here’s part of what I said in reply: Continue reading →

(159) Paying Myself First


Breakfast is a good way of paying yourself first.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the idea of paying yourself first. When it comes to actual money, this axiom is practically engraved on my brain. I would never spend money on something like clothes or a vacation or restaurants if I wasn’t saving first. Having some savings is a requirement for peace of mind in a field when you never know when your next payday is. But “pay yourself first” has never registered as meaningful in any other aspect of my life until very recently.

A professional mishap brought this into sharp focus for me. I’m a freelance writer and editor, so I work on a project by project basis for various clients. A shockingly huge part of being able to make a living as a freelance writer/editor/content maker is navigating the rocky terrain of payment, especially in an environment where rates seem to be sinking all the time. Recently, I took on a job without knowing the rate and the rate was not acceptable–but by the time I learned that it was too late. I had already accepted the assignment. It’s true you should always ask up front about payment, but it was for a publication I had contributed to about a dozen times in the last year so I thought I knew what to expect. This was all happening around the time I re-launched this blog. Continue reading →

(159.7) Stitch Fix Review: Box #2

BlueDressOriginally, when I signed up for Stitch Fix, I wanted to get a box every other month. The service is very flexible that way–you can get a box every couple weeks, once a month, every other month or at your request on no particular schedule. I picked every other month because, while my wardrobe is in a depleted state, it seemed insane to go from shopping never to shopping via Stitch Fix once a month. But after my first box arrived and how incredibly pleased I was with everything in it, I wanted to get another box sooner rather than later. Plus, I wanted Stitch Fix to send me a dress to wear to my friend’s wedding next month. I don’t know about you, but shopping for special occasions for me is always really hard. Often I put it off to the last possible minute, which means I’m under pressure to find something I love in a short time frame. This never works out well for me. I loved the idea that Stitch Fix could take care of that ordeal for me and I’d never even have to set foot in a store. Continue reading →