Potato Skins and Spinach Pizza

Potato+SkinsAlright. This transferring to a new computer scenario went about as smoothly as I expected; worse, actually, since after spending the better part of the day clearing stuff off the old one into files to transfer, we ran into our snag about 45 seconds after turning the new iMac on. Although it detects all of our neighbour’s wireless networks, it won’t pick up ours. At all. And when we pulled out our cord and connected it that way it wouldn’t work either. We tried everything before discovering that they forgot to give us our 24-hour hotline card (an extra $199); apparently you can call at 3am and they will be there to walk you through whatever you need walking through. (Or if you don’t have the number and code you’re screwed at ten after nine.)

Fortunately I got the laptop connected again so I’m back to surfing from bed. On the upside, this whole fiasco has raised my heart rate significantly.

Dinner last night was potato skins and spinach pizza. I dragged myself to the gym at about 4:30 (having procrastinated all day) and didn’t get home until 6, ravenous and with Mike wanting to watch a movie and/or the hockey game with something to munch on the couch. This was one of my biggest obstacles until I found some ways to morph dinner and couch snacks – because I really like something to snack on while watching a movie, and if I’ve already eaten dinner it’s just extra calories. So if I make dinner something I can eat with my fingers on the couch, I can combine the two.

Potato Skins


January 18, 2009

This may seem like an obvious recipe, but cheesy potato skins are a quintessential finger food that you never think to make at home. The spice mixture adds a lot of flavor, and Canadian bacon (back bacon) is much leaner than the breakfast variety. I always use intensely flavored cheeses, like old cheddar, instead of the low fat kind, which tend to be rubbery with very little flavor so you need more of it anyway.

  • Makes: Serves 4.


4 medium baking potatoes (russets work well and have sturdy skins)

1-2 Tbsp. olive or canola oil

1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper

1/2 tsp. each chili powder and curry powder (optional)

1/4 cup chopped Canadian (back) bacon or turkey pepperoni (optional)

2 green onions or a small bunch of chives, chopped

3/4 cup shredded old cheddar cheese

Salsa and low fat sour cream


1Preheat oven to 400F. Poke the potatoes with a fork and bake them (directly on the oven rack) for about an hour, until tender. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

2Cut each potato in quarters lengthwise and scoop out the pulp, leaving a 1/4” thick shell. (Keep the potato for something else – I fry it up in a little oil the next morning with whatever’s left of the spice mixture for amazing home fries!). Place potato skins on a baking sheet and brush with a bit of oil. Combine the salt, pepper, chili and curry powder and sprinkle over top. Bake for another 10 minutes, until crispy.

3Sprinkle with bacon, green onions and cheese, and bake for another 5 minutes, until the cheese melts. Serve with salsa and low fat sour cream.


Today we spent celebrating the January birthdays (two nephews, my brother-in-law, sister and mum) tobogganing and brunching at my parents’ house, which somehow stretched until almost 5. My sisters, mum and I talked and walked up and down the hill, racing each other up sometimes, to get some exercise in. (Using your body whenever you have a chance to adds up to significant changes.) After we had veggies and dip (a low fat peppercorn ranch dressing spiked with lemon juice that watered it down but also made it appealingly lemony) do-it-yourself sandwiches (mine was turkey and a slice of cheddar cheese with mustard, tomato and greens on a whole wheat bun, but I admit I finished W’s grilled-cheese crusts too) cake (our traditional spice cake with penuche frosting and a chocolate one made in a giant cupcake cake mold) and chocolate fondue inspired by Mary Ann – I haven’t been able to get her frozen chocolate fruit chunks out of my head! At family things we typically chop up a ton of fruit to graze on, but my sister suggested we melt some dark chocolate in a Little Dipper (which has been in my basement for eons and I thought I’d never use – it would have come in handy for that sticky toffee fondue too), which worked perfectly and didn’t need to be maintained by a tealight. (Just chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips straight-up – easiest dessert ever.) Having picked at cake crumbs and chunks of icing (and veggies, and fruit) all afternoon we didn’t really need dinner.

Weight update: 206 this morning. My stomach is starting to rumble again now, and I’m letting it – bedtime soon enough, and sleep is my best appetite supressant. After awhile that desperate need for food starts to morph into something more manageable, once my cravings have weakened a bit (like fear and monsters, if you don’t feed them, they eventually back off). Hunger itself is a little more manageable (and far easier to deal with) than cravings – together they tend to kick my ass. I can actually feel when I’ve hit that tipping point; I’ve learned to recognize that hollow feeling eminating from my core as my body burning its reserves – on-board fuel instead of the high test stuff I used to shovel into the furnace.

So really, that feeling is a good thing. It’s progress. I can’t say it’s a pleasant feeling, but it isn’t any more unpleasant as not being able to do up my pants, or catching a glimpse of my Michelin Man back rolls in a full-length mirror. You know the saying ‘nothing tastes as good as being thin feels’ – likewise, is this hollow, empty (temporary) feeling in my gut really that much worse than the pain and discomfort of feeling shackled by your own body and awkward in your own skin?


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18 comments on “Potato Skins and Spinach Pizza

  1. robin
    January 18, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    wow, great call on the potato skins. some really great healthy substitutes happening there!

  2. Heather
    January 19, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Can you not call your internet provider and get them to walk you through connecting your Mac to the wireless network?

  3. Bonnie
    January 19, 2009 at 7:25 am

    Good luck getting your wifi problems sorted out. Probably something very simple — the provider must need info on the computer to recognize it on their system. I have an iMac and LOVE IT! Would never go back to Windows.

    The potato skins sound delish — will try these this week. You inspired me to make my own twice baked potatoes a while back. Now I do up a batch and then freeze them. Way better than the M&M ones I was buying before. Betcha the potato skins would freeze well too. There are only the two of us and doing these things in batches makes life easy. As usual, you continue to inspire me Julie.

    I’ve been on my diet since October and am going the pound a week route — so far right on track even over Xmas with cookies and other goodies. I found that keeping a journal of everything I eat is the best way to go. I need to lose another 10-15 lbs and hopefully I’ll reach this goal by the time summer rolls around.

  4. Fiona
    January 19, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Psst, Julie, we had network troubles too. Try a different channel on your router!

    Good luck! And here’s a good ebook about switching, if switching freaks you out:

  5. pauline
    January 19, 2009 at 8:11 am

    The potatoes look so good, but how do you just eat one or two. Hope you get your mac purring for you soon. Hate all this darn tech stuff.

  6. JulieVR
    January 19, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I did try a different channel on my router. And we called Shaw right away, who said they had nothing to do with it and had never heard of such an issue. And it doesn’t make sense that the computer would need info in order to recognize it, because it recognizes all my neighbours’ wireless networks! and I didn’t put in their info..

  7. Fiona
    January 19, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Hmm. All I can think of is that maybe you have to start from scratch? Like, setting up your network right from scratch – ditching all the old settings and adding your computers again. We had some kind of strange security conflict (with WEP codes), and we had to set up the network differently (with a WEA(?) password instead). I think it came about because our downstairs tenant was running a PC and it didn’t like our 75 Macs, so we were locked out of our own network.

    I feel your pain.

  8. Fiona
    January 19, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Also, seriously, feel free to e-mail me if you can’t get it to work and I”ll ask Mike what he did. I know it didn’t involve punching anything, though he came pretty close.

  9. Pips
    January 19, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I havn’t eaten or even thought about potato skins in years. My family will live you for this one.

  10. Heidi
    January 19, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Your last sentence was so profound! Surely we can overcome that feeling if we know that it’s doing us the most good.
    Another favourite: Cut 250 – burn 250…extra calories every day and lose 1 lb. a week – theoretically.

    Guy on Cityline says: Your body recognizes every pound; either you burn it – or it’s stored as fat.
    165 today. Bouncing the same 2 – 3 lbs since Christmas; not happy. This is the start of year 7 and I’m slowly getting heavier. Will let you know when I’m back at 256!!
    Terry Poulton’s book No Fat Chicks is an eye opener about the diet industry.

  11. Colleen
    January 19, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Boy, your blog is serendipidous. I need the support of others in the same boat. I am not alone! Just reading others comments gives me strength. Tummy rumbles are a good thing 🙂

  12. sue.d
    January 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    love the look of that pizza, and the sound of those potato skins.

    I think health management is really about an accumulation of small things…so sledding with the kids is such a help! I think of what my heart rate is if I’ve been on the couch all night, versus what it is if even just take the dog out for 20 minutes. I think you get ahead not just on the calories expended during the walk, but also the increased metabolic rate for the evening (or morning or afternoon or whatever).

  13. Kathy
    January 19, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Those potato skins look absolutely delish. Plus 8 degrees right now. Think I’ll go for a walk.

  14. Lana
    January 19, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Right on about the good kind of feeling hungry. I was feeling full all the time before Jan 1. Always uncomfortable and tight in the waists of my pants..why did I ignore it for so long?
    Now, smaller, healthier portions and more exercise, means I want to eat smaller, healthier portions and exercise more, which makes me want to…
    You get the idea.

  15. Dana mccauley
    January 19, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Nice looking taters!

  16. jennifer (from ontario)
    January 19, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    those potato skins look awesome!
    so true about that feeling of hunger and i to do believe it is good not bad! just like with overindulgence in anything it takes some time to get over that “withdrawl” feeling!
    this is a great support…thanks 🙂

  17. margo
    January 19, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    I like the comment above about journalling what you eat. A beautiful, elderly lady I know (my sister’s mother-in-law), whenever my sister laments about needing to lose weight, always says the same thing in response: “You know the best way to lose weight… just write down everything you eat.” She, in her late eighties, is lovely, mobile, slender-ish (in a Grandma sort of way), and I think she knows a thing or two! Something to consider while getting on track. No one idea is the magic bullet, just lots of little wise daily choices… the more we make, the more we stack the odds in our favor.

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