1. December 2014

PLAN OF THE MONTH: The Start Here Diet by Tosca Reno



Monday, December 29, 2014

I confess! I confess! I had 6 Zeppole and 2 slices of Panettone over the holidays – I’m sooooo weak *sob*.

I was feeling pretty cocky for the first 23 days not touching a single chocolate or potato chip – I looked at them longingly, but I didn’t touch, sniff, lick or taste a single morsel of my delectable, non-seasonal, hidden foods. But then I caved and had those tempting Italian holiday treats that make my mouth water and knees buckle (man, I’ve been single too long!).

I don’t know what I love most about Zeppole and Panettone – the yumminess, or the taste of tradition. Unfortunately, we are losing a lot of our customs and old country practices, so I asked my Mother to teach me how to make Zeppole from scratch this Christmas so I can carry on the tradition in the years to come.

Zeppole can either be sweet or savory. If you prefer the sweet ones, you can sprinkle sugar, or a combination of sugar and cinnamon on them while they’re still warm. I’ve even seen some filled with cream and garnished with cherries. However, my hands down favourite is the savory, anchovy stuffed, Zeppole.

I’ve enclosed the recipe below – measurements aren’t exact – my Mother does everything ‘by eye’ and the only way you know if you’re on the right track is by how it looks, feels, or tastes. If you require exact measures, I’m certain you can find recipes online.

Zeppole with Anchovies


  • 1 heaping teaspoon of yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. flour (adjust according to consistency)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Egg
  • Anchovies
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Sugar


In small bowl combine:

  • 1 teaspoon of yeast
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Set aside until the yeast rises and gets foamy

In large bowl add:

  • Flour
  • Pinch of saltimage

Add the yeast mixture and mix in by hand, add:

  • Egg


Keep working the dough by hand until it’s a sticky consistency. Cover and set aside until the dough rises – approximately 45-60 minutes.

In a medium pan add vegetable oil and heat to medium/high.

Add anchovies to the batter, and with your hands (or using 2 tablespoons) scoop a walnut sized piece of dough and gently drop it into the oil and fry until it is golden brown on both sides – approximately 1 minute each side. Regulate temperate so the Zeppole don’t brown too quickly. They will expand slightly.



Drain the Zeppole on a paper towel and sprinkle a bit of sugar while they are still warm – yes, even on the savory ones!


Zeppole are best eaten right away.  They tend to get rubbery when they get cold.  Should you have leftovers, reheat them in the oven for a few minutes.




Link to Food Journal: Week 4 (Monday, December 22 to Sunday, December 28, 2014)

Monday, December 22, 2014

I knew starting 12 in 12 in December would be a challenge given all the Christmas goodies tempting me at every turn, but my strategy was to capitalize on my early resolve. So far, my strategy is paying off as I’ve already turned down countless chocolate, baked goods, and alcoholic beverages, and the month is more than halfway over. And it doesn’t hurt having all of you cheering me on and keeping me honest!

A few days ago a co-worker caught me taking two individually wrapped chocolates from one of the many boxes of treats in the office. He shook his finger at me and said, “Aren’t you supposed to be off those things?” I turned about 50 shades of red and stammered, “It’s not what you think!” (It really wasn’t!) I went on to explain that I hosted a function for my house guests last week and I had all sorts of food out – pizza, veggies and 3 types of dips, cheese and crackers, fruit, pies, my mother’s Rice Pastiera http://www.panoramitalia.com/en/food-wine/recipe/rice-pastiera/243/, my daughter’s decadent homemade marshmallows and Bakewell tarts, and several types of beverages.

Homemade Marshmallows
Telli’s famous homemade marshmallow
Telli’s delicious Bakewell Tarts – a family favourite!

Even with that spread, my sister asked me if I had any chocolate. I apologized and said I didn’t because they’re my hidden food and I had to give them up for December, to which she retorted, “You may have given them up, but I didn’t!”

Although it helps me tremendously not to have my hidden foods in the house, that isn’t always realistic if you live with others. I live alone, but I will be hosting more houseguests over the holidays. My daughter and her boyfriend will be staying over and I know that they might enjoy a treat, so that’s why I took 2 individually wrapped chocolates for them. (I’m sure my co-worker is sorry he asked, because I ALWAYS give a long-winded explanation).

These delicious treats are currently sitting in a bowl on my coffee table taunting me. I hear their muffled cries of, “eat me!” from within their brightly coloured wrappers. I may have gone 22 days (and counting!) without my hidden foods, but during the holidays they’re coming out of hiding, desperately trying to lure me back. Must. Stay. Strong.

Link to Food Journal: Week 3 (Monday, December 15 to Sunday, December 21, 2014)

BTW, your votes for giving up Panetone (my holiday hidden food) came back as 6 Yays vs. 7 Nays. So my friends, I have not had one bite of my favourite Christmas treat this month 😦 I look forward to next month’s plan which will allow me to have it so long as I weigh and measure it first… but let’s see what my month end figures turn up – I may be motivated to continue keeping my hidden foods buried a little while longer!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The formula for losing weight is fairly straight forward: eat less, exercise more. However, I’ve come to realize the equation is missing a key variable for keeping the weight off, and that is the whys. I have gained and lost more weight than I care to think about and it was always based on the simple, less in/more out rule. I never took into consideration the whys – this includes our mindset, emotional triggers, motivations, fears, stresses, etc. So, the formula should really read:

Weight Loss Formula

Step 1 in The Start Here Diet by Tosca Reno asks us to Dive Inward. Tosca asks tough questions to get to the mental and emotional reasons as to why we gained the weight, and why we’re hanging on to it.

No diet will ever be successful if you don’t go to that place inside of you, a place usually wrapped in pain, discomfort, shame, self-defeating habits, and fear.  –  Tosca Reno

These are the first three questions she asked herself when she was ready to get out of her ‘prison’.

Coming out of Hiding: The First Three Questions

  1. Do you have the courage to face your reflection in the mirror?
  2. Is that reflection really you?
  3. If not, then why are you hiding?

If you’re wrestling with your weight, I challenge you to ask yourself these same questions. These are my answers:

  1. I didn’t have the courage to face myself until now.
  2. Yikes! Who is that Rubenesque chick looking back at me?!
  3. Hiding is passive and it’s safe. However, now that I’m searching for my after, I’m sure I’ll find out the root cause.

If you are ready to take this first step, I recommend getting Tosca’s book where you will find many more questions that will help free us from the mental and emotional traps we have set for ourselves.

Link to Food Journal: Week 2 (Monday, December 8 to Sunday, December 14, 2014)

Monday, December 8, 2014

This month I’m testing The Start Here Diet by Tosca Reno: http://www.toscareno.com/2013/10/16/start-diet/


Tosca doesn’t ask that we weigh and measure food (yay!), but rather “replate” our meals by using the following guidelines:

  • 30% fat
  • 30% protein
  • 40% carbohydrate: 20% leafy greens, 20% whole grains and fruit

I aimed to do this, but haven’t mastered it yet. Tosca also recommends that we don’t eat while we’re distracted, which is something else I have to work on.

As for the exercise, I did move a little but not as much as I would have liked. I injured by back just a few days before my start date and have been dealing with sciatic nerve pain – something I would have treated with medicinal chocolate prior to starting 12 in 12, but am now taking anti-inflammatories instead.

Below is a link to my Week 1 food journal. I have also posted a few photos of what I ate, as well as what I passed up on – sigh.  It won’t be hard to figure which ones they were as my pout gives it away. Boy, was it tough avoiding chips and chocolate this week! I found myself on autopilot looking for treats after meals – I hope I get through the withdrawal soon : (

Link to Food Journal: Week 1 (Monday, December 1 to Sunday, December 7, 2014)







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Be sure to check out my Hidden Food Funeral video on the main page!

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