As I have chronicled my weight loss journey that started in January in my bimonthly food column, I have appreciated numerous people in the community encouraging and cheering for me along the way. Initially I set the goal to weigh what I did before I got pregnant with my first child before my 20th anniversary in May.

I am happy to report that I have exceeded that goal. I have hit what I weighed when we got married and have lost 50 pounds since January with Dr. Phelps at Hometown Healthcare in Salem keeping me accountable, cutting white sugar and white flour from my diet six days each week, eating healthy and exercising.

Along the way, I have found a few favorite food items that have kept me sane and on track along the way. Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt has been my daily treat especially mixed with fresh blueberries, strawberries or blackberries. With zero added sugar, artificial sweeteners or fat, the yogurt exceeds my dietary needs. With 13 flavors possible, Coconut Creme, Salted Caramel, Mixed Berry and Peach are among my favorite varieties.

The desire for a hamburger has never gone away, but I have found a creative way to fulfill the craving without derailing my weight loss goals. At In-N-Out Burger, I can order my hamburger with onion protein style where the burger is wrapped in hand-leafed lettuce instead of a bun. I order a cup of water to go with it instead of fries.

Occasionally, I really have the desire to have something sweet. Just recently I discovered a yummy protein bar manufactured in Springville. Luke Tolley, who has a PhD in chemistry and a talent for cooking, was challenged by a friend to make a better protein bar. After Luke sampled most of the protein bars on the market, it was apparent to him that he could improve it. He aimed to improve the protein bar by using a high-quality whey protein isolate and by fluffing up the proteins. The result was fluffy and sticky, similar to a marshmallow’s texture with a flavor similar to milk. He purposely avoided using soy proteins and nut proteins. He began adding coconut or fruit and covering the bar in high quality chocolate or Greek yogurt. He named it The Other Bar, because it is in a class of its own.

Compared to other protein bars on the market,The Other Bar matches or exceeds them in protein per calorie and per dollar. The chocolate-covered coconut bar, which is sold at Reams in Springville and Momentum Climbing Gym in Lehi, is my favorite of the four flavors that offered online at theotherproteinbar.com. I feel as if I am indulging in a candy bar instead of a protein bar whenever I eat one. It helps me get over my craving for sweets while meeting my goals for nutrition.

During the time that I was eating mainly lean meats, veggies and fruits, I discovered Heath’s Blends gourmet seasonings, which have become a staple in my kitchen. The seasonings, created Artisan Style in Spanish Fork, are designed to replace bland or unhealthy seasonings currently on the market. Heath’s Blends are all natural, non-GMO, with no MSG, gluten or fillers of any kind. The pure concentrated flavor makes the seasoning much stronger than others on the market that have fillers added. There are 10 different blends of seasonings that can be purchased from any Harmons Grocery store or online at heathsblends.com. I especially love the Peppery Lemon on fish, chicken or steamed veggies. The most popular of the Heath’s Blends is Mark’s Masterpiece, which can be used to season most anything.

Mark Heath, the creator of the seasonings, has been cooking for over 25 years, working in several restaurants from a sous chef to executive chef. Tasting foods twice for perfection and passionate about cooking, Mark found himself eventually weighing 527 pounds. After developing type II diabetes and struggling with his health and dieting, he committed to get the Duodenal Switch operation, for which he spent two grueling years to qualify. Since the surgery in December 2014, with a start weight of 480, Mark has lost 240 pounds. Since then, he has worked hard to develop healthy, delectable seasonings that are low-sodium, pure and natural. “Simply Gourmet, Everyday” is his slogan.

“Everyone deserves quick and easy gourmet meals, that can be both flavorful and healthy, no matter what the diet,” says Heath.

I agree. In my journey to lose weight, I have found that I do not need to give up tasteful flavor with my meals to eat healthy. Today Mark shares his recipe for Cuban Pork Roast which features his trademark Havana Heaven seasoning. Havana Heaven is his most unique blend, which brings the taste of Cuba to pork, lamb, chicken, venison, antelope, elk or rice. This is Mark’s favorite seasoning for making sausage or jerky. Enjoy!

Cuban Pork Roast

Serves: 10

Prep Time: 70 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ready In: 85 minutes

Ingredients

3 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 tbsp Heath’s Blends Havana Heaven

3-pound quality pork loin roast

Directions

1. In a small bowl, combine the first three ingredients; rub over pork roast. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Place roast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees, basting occasionally with pan juices. Let meat stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Stephanie Ashcraft, author of 23 cookbooks including her newest

101 Things to Do With Rice

and best selling

101 Things to Do with a Cake Mix

, lives in Salem, Utah, with her husband and 5 children. Cooking is her hobby gone out of control. She and her books have appeared in numerous television programs, radio shows, newspapers, and magazines nationwide. She loves sharing how to save time and money in the kitchen. Stephanie has a bachelors degree in Family Science from Brigham Young University.

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