Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Sunday 2011

Back in the frozen tundra, five more inches of snow fell overnight and this was the scene on Sunday morning.  So pretty but it's a good thing I didn't have to go out and shovel.  Instead, my sister and I  made a lovely breakfast of shirred eggs and fruit salad and started the Oscar Party food prep.

But not before I got in lots of time loving up on my gorgeous nephews!

We made dessert first, Nigella's Lemony Fruit Tart.  Lots of fresh berries atop a luscious, creamy mound of cream cheese blended with lemon curd, spread over a lovely crust made from digestive biscuits and butter.  It was amazing!

 We planned a "steak house dinner" which included my favorite creamed turnip greens.  

Along with Steak Diane and baked potatoes.

This was my plate, though I did go back for more greens.  I love them!  And every good steakhouse dinner deserves an amazing glass of red wine.  We chose a 2006 Barolo from 90+ Cellars that was out of this world.

And of course, we started off with something pink and fizzy, Chambord and Cava!

So, what did you think of the actual Oscar show?  To be honest, I found it a little boring.  Anne Hathaway could have carried the show on her own, James Franco really tanked apart from the drag gag.  Apparently he *can't* do everything as previously believed.  Some of my favorite moments of the night included Randy Newman's acceptance speech, Mila Kunis' gorgeous lavender dress, seeing Colin Firth win an Oscar and my favorite quote from one very bright four year old..."Auntie Girlie, maybe I can make a time machine out of paper!" 

All in all, we had a wonderful time.  Although my sister wasn't impressed with the show...


Saturday, February 26, 2011

February Check-Up

I know February isn't over just yet, but since I'm en route to Boston as this post goes live I'm calling it a month.  So as of this morning...

Fresh juice~17 days
Exercise~20 days
Restaurant food~ 3 days
Indulgent treats~3 days
Alcoholic bevvies~Zero!
Days of no/low added sugar~ most days this month

I'm officially on vacation for the next two weeks, so my routine is going to be a little different to say the least.  We do have some workouts planned, my sister got me a pass to her gym so we'll weight train and Zumba together as well as taking some walks at the beach, bundled up, of course, but who cares?  THE BEACH!

I'm going to cook some healthy meals for the fam as well as enjoying some of my favorite treats.  There is a cannoli up there with my name on it.

I can't believe that I have not had a drop of wine since January 1st.  That first sip is going to taste so good with my arm entwined with my sister's...

like this!  It's what we do.

I have some posts ready to go for when I'm gone along with some great guest posts.  I'll get in a couple of real time posts, too, so watch this space. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February Food Porn

Here's some of the nutritious and delicious things that we at this month...

Behold, the pizza we made on Super Bowl Sunday.  Oh, it was so good.  I used whole wheat flour in the dough and made the sauce which was so easy; canned organic San Marzano tomatoes whizzed up in the processor with some good quality olive oil and garlic and that's it.  Topped very simply with fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, my favorite.  The Zojirushi made excellent dough, it had a the perfect crisp-chewy crust.  I finally cracked the code of good pizza!

The totally transformed broccoli, roasted then drizzled with balsamic vinegar

Creamy Hungarian mushroom and potato soup, Rob absolutely LOVED it

The veggies for my favorite salad...

Thai Beef Noodle Salad

Work supper~ pink grapefruit, almonds, sweet baby peppers and a steamer bag full of shrimp, broccoli and snow peas dressed in sesame oil and rice vinegar.  It was a delicious stir-fry from the microwave.

Beef and Guinness Stew

Sunday breakfast~ mango and blueberries with fluffy scrambled eggs

Vegetarian supper~ sauteed cauliflower and artichoke hearts with garlic, walnuts and feta

Another work supper~ a meat loaf "muffin" from Trader Joe's, 
veggies, fruit, hard boiled eggs and a treat.

Lunch wrap~ spinach, turkey and cheese with a pumpkin pie spiced red pear

Jamaican spiced beef fried rice and tangy collards

Sunday breakfast for one~ lemon plum, cantaloupe and medium boiled eggs, look at those gorgeous golden yolks!

Supper for one and it was a winner~ chicken breast topped with a slice of light Lorraine cheese (this is one light cheese that melts like the real thing and tastes amazing) with lots of mushrooms and roasted asparagus.  There is one good thing about dining alone, I get to eat ALL the asparagus! 

What you been cooking good?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: The Carb Lovers Diet

The Carb Lovers Diet: Eat What You Love, Get Slim For Life

This book is from the editors of Health magazine, to which I subscribe.  It's heavily featured in just about every issue so I wanted to see what it was all about.  I picked up a copy a the library.  It's a very fast read.

The title is misleading and the messages are mixed.  The study they quote in the first chapter states that the slimmest people ate the most carbs (oooooh!)   In the form of whole grains, vegetables and fruit (awwwwww!)  That's a pretty big caveat for a booked titled "The Carb Lovers Diet" especially when it's released in a country where many people are addicted to carb-laden, processed convenience foods.  But as I read further, it seems that the book is aimed at people who have been programmed to fear carbs since the Atkin's craze.

The kick start plan is just 1200 calories a day, which I find extremely restrictive, especially during the transition to a healthier way of life when small steps, not drastic changes are much more effective in the long run.  

Not much new information here; eat more "good carbs" from vegetables, fruit and whole grains.  The information on resistant starches seems fairly gimmicky.  I don't think it will come as a surprise to anyone that a slightly under ripe banana makes a filling snack, especially when paired with a slice of whole grain toast and schmear of nut butter.

There is a whole section on working out, which is often lacking in many diet books, so that's a plus.  There is also emphasis on portion control, which is especially important when eating carbs such as pasta and rice and any plan that encourages eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can't be all bad.  The recipes seem very easy, but awfully high in sodium and they rely heavily on "grab and go" foods, which when trending toward healthier options are best left as a last resort.

If you're truly interested in reading The Carb Lovers Diet, do like I did, hit your local library and save your money.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Chit-Chat

Happy Saturday!  It's been a gorgeous day here, sunny, breezy and it hit 70 degrees so I had all the windows open.  Rob's away working so I've been trying to keep myself busy.  The first couple of days were rough with boredom/lonely snacking but I got that in check.

Despite the snacking, I'm able to pull on my closet goal jeans and actually button them without having to do that jumping up and down thing that we women do when the jeans get a little tight.  I know you know what I'm talking about.  I couldn't even button or zip them when I bought them, so this is a big deal!  They are still snug, not sure if I'll be ready to wear them for the trip, it's going to be a close call.  Either way, I'm heading in the right direction.

I started the day with a refreshing fruit salad and coffee with real cream.  Nothing is more delicious in coffee than the very topmost layer of the cream that rises to the top of the farm milk.  As for the salad, the cantaloupe and citrus tasted so good but the blueberries were awful.

Before lunch I went for a nice walk because it was just too gorgeous to stay inside.  Look at that bright blue sky...

There are signs of spring everywhere you look...

The Japanese magnolia is covered in fuzzy little buds.  Won't be long before the tree bursts in an explosion of pink.  I can't wait!

The daffodils are getting taller and the first buds are starting to appear.  I hope a few of these sunny yellow flowers pop before I head north to more winter weather.

And my camellias are in bloom.  It makes me eager for planting my herbs and tomatoes.  Not long now!

Lunch was just a big green salad with turkey and blue cheese crumbles, then I had a mug of chai tea for a snack.  Hot milky tea is very satisfying.

I made an especially delicious supper, eating alone on Saturday night deserves special culinary attention.  Yesterday I blanched a bunch of broccoli rabe and chopped it up, cooked up 1/2 cup of red quinoa and stashed them in the fridge.  This evening, I sauteed the rabes in garlic and olive oil, tossed in some cauliflower florets that I quickly steamed then stirred in the quinoa, some sweet cherry peppers and a few chopped walnuts then topped it with a few feta crumbles.  So quick, so delicious!  And there is plenty leftover to take for supper to work on Monday night.  

This evening's festivities include a phone call from Rob, painting my nails with my new China Glaze black crackle polish and reading book reviews.  I'll want something good to download for the flight.  I treated myself to a Nook Color yesterday but have yet to decide on what books to purchase, there is just too much to choose from. Maybe you can help with that!

What you been reading good?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Revolutionary Act

Have you joined the Revolution yet?

This is a great website with links to articles about health and wellness, healthy eating, non-toxic living, fit living and balanced living.  Contributors include Mark Bittman (if you're not already reading his Opinionator articles on New York Times, you really must,) among other experts leading the charge to help change the way we think about health and wellness.  The article by Dr. Mark Hyman called "Why Eating Quick, Cheap Food is Actually More Expensive" is right on point.

There are 10 truths to the Revolution, my favorite being "Forget About Quick Fixes."  Hop on over to the site to see the other nine along with the fantastic application "101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy."  I have too many favorites to list but I'm partial to numbers 12, 20, 24, 34, 67, 93 and 101.  Go on over to see what they are and come back here and tell me which ones resonate with you.

Join the revolution!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Goodie: Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS Enabled Sport Watch

When Rob and I were on vacation on Hilton Head taking long walks on the beach, I had mentioned that it would be very cool it we could see how far we walked on a map.  Thus planting the seed for Rob to go investigating for GPS watches.  Fast forward to Christmas...

 The model Rob chose is the Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS-Enabled Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor.  It's cute with pink accents and very lightweight for its size, not that it's really that big.  It's quite comfortable to wear, which is good because I need to be comfortable and unencumbered when working out.  It comes with a USB cable to charge the watch and link it to the computer so you can upload your completed workouts.

It also comes with a heart rate monitor...

The strap secures around your chest and "talks" to the watch.  It definitely took some getting used to but once I figured out just the right spot to place it, it's not too much of an annoyance.

The watch was easy to set up and is easy to use.  You input your age, weight, height, sex and level of fitness activity and then it gets the information from satellites to measure and track your position, date and time.  When you start the timer, it measures your time, distance, pace of each mile (this unit is customizable,) heart rate if you're wearing the monitor, estimated calories burned and the elevation lost and gained during workout.

If you want an accurate measure of calories, be sure the height and sex are input accurately.  Our first two mile hike came in at almost 1000 calories burned, which seemed high to me.  When I checked the settings, it had my age and weight correct, but had me as a 5'10" man.  I adjusted the settings to a 5'2" female and the next walk of similar time and distance came in under 600 calories.  Doesn't seem fair, does it? 

It can be used indoors, too.  I wore the watch and monitor once during a weight lifting routine and was amazed at the spikes in my heart rate during my sets.  Unfortunately the watch locked up when I got home and when I reset it all the information was lost.  So this is the one problem I have run into.

The Garmin Connect website allows you upload and save all your workouts so you can compare them.  You can also set goals, which is a really nice feature.

Here is the information for our hike at Red Top Mountain last month...

If you click on the details, you can see everything the watch and monitor records.

Unless you're a serious runner, this watch isn't a necessity.  But it was a thoughtful gift and I love using it.  It's going to be a great tool for tracking my training progress for the charity walk later this year.
If I haven't covered anything you want to know, feel free to ask!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Silly Cupid

Unless you've been wearing blinders and ear plugs for the past six weeks then you know it's that time of year again.  I have nothing against Valentine's Day, j'adore the sight of red hearts and pink roses just as much as the next person, but the media's shoving it down our throats (along with cakes, cookies, and those enticing  pink-foiled wrapped heart-shaped chocolates) gives me pause.  

You know me, I'm never above celebrating with cupcakes, chocolate and Champagne, but forcing it on us since early January is excessive.   I had to work last evening with the sight of pink frosted sugar cookies on every surface and the scent of chocolate cake in my nostrils (better than the alternative, but I digress) but I held fast to my commitment to indulge sensibly and on MY TERMS.

As I mentioned on the blog's Facebook page, if you're going to have a Valentine's treat, make it something you really want, something worth splurging on.  Don't nickel and dime yourself with drug store junk and avoid the day-after sales when all that candy is almost free.  It may not cost you much on February 15th, but you'll pay for it in other ways.  Build the treat into your day and pair it with a bit of vigorous activity (indoors, nudge/wink) or outdoors to give yourself a holiday glow. 

Have a big, wonderful, heart-shaped Monday!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Bone to Pick with Oprah

Did you happen to see Jennifer Hudson on Oprah yesterday?  I started watching my recorded episode and right off the bat I screamed out "Eff you Oprah!"  Really, I did.  Ms. Hudson hadn't been on the stage more than a couple of moments when Oprah reduced her to nothing more than a number on the scale.  Ms. Hudson was very reluctant to reveal the "magic" number.  Apparently Queen Oprah doesn't like to be told no because she was actually demanding a number.  Badgering and demanding.  Needless to say, I was thrilled with Ms. Hudson did not give in.  (At least not at this point in the show, though she did reveal that she went from a size 10 to a size 6.)

What sort of message does this send to the millions of Oprah viewers?  That if you're carrying any excess fat, unless you lose x number of pounds nothing else matters.  What matters is Jennifer Hudson is many things;  a great singer, a good actress, an Oscar winner, a survivor of a horrific family tragedy, a mother, a fiance, a strong woman who worked to get control of her food issues and improve her health.

It's no wonder Oprah has poor body image and food issues.  She should know better, she's always babbling about "living your best life, finding your best self." But it seems that best is only measured by the Almighty Scale.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guest Bloggers Wanted and a Review

As you know, I'm going to be out of town from February 26th until March 12th.  Rob's not going to know what to do with himself, poor guy.  I've been stockpiling posts in preparation for my being away because I probably won't have too much time to blog other than some restaurant food porn or me and my sister's tomfoolery.

If you would like to write an article that would fit nicely on this blog (tried juicing and loved it, favorite fitness activity, recipe with food porn, healthy restaurant review, how healthy eating changed your life, etc.) please contact me.  I'd love at least 3 articles.  Click the contact tab above to send me an e-mail.  Don't be bashful, I look forward to hearing from you!

I took advantage of a $12 Groupon last month for $24 worth of fresh produce from My Produce Guy delivered right to my door.  I redeemed it yesterday afternoon and this morning this was on my doorstep...


The produce was well packaged and insulated with a freeze pack inside.  I ordered...

A four pack of red anjou pears
A pound of cauliflower florettes
Four pounds of carrots
Two bunches of celery
One bunch of broccoli rabe
One bunch of baby bananas
One red bell pepper
One pound of zucchini
One bunch of fresh cilantro

Everything was perfectly fresh and gorgeous.  I can't wait for those little bananas to ripen!  I'd say it was a really good value with the Groupon and an excellent resource for fresh produce if I was unable to get to a store for whatever reason.  Have you ever tried a grocery home delivery service?

I have Santa Fe Chicken working in the slow cooker, it's one of my absolute favorites.  It reheat so well, which is a big plus since I'm working this weekend.  Gotta have nutritious and delicious food at the ready to keep me on track.

Don't forget to contact me if you'd like to submit a guest post!  I hope you're having a fantastic week.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nutritious and Delicious Recipe Makeover: Hot Wing Dip

Have you ever had Buffalo Chicken Dip?  It is awesome, but is also a calorie bomb that's loaded with saturated fat and sodium.  I really wanted to make it for the Super Bowl but thought a few healthy tweaks were in order.  I replaced canned chicken for fresh, organic chicken, swapped full fat cream cheese for Neufchatel cheese, and replaced bottled salad dressing with kefir and raw milk blue cheese crumbles.  We certainly didn't miss all that extra fat and sodium, it turned out absolutely delicious!

Hot Wing Dip

1 package (8 ounces) Neufchatel cheese, softened
6 ounces plain lowfat kefir
2 ounces Wing Time hot wing sauce
2 ounces blue cheese crumbles
6 ounces of cooked chicken breast, diced

Mix Neufchatel cheese with a whisk until soft and creamy.  Stir in kefir a little at a time until incorporated.  Stir in wing sauce until combined.  Gently fold in blue cheese and chicken. 

Pour into baking dish and bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.  It won't brown too much on the top.  Serve with a platter of fresh, crisp and colorful vegetable dippers.


I plugged all the ingredients into Nutrition Data and here is how the recipe breaks down:  two tablespoons (one ounce) contains just 50 calories, 3 grams of fat and 75 grams of sodium in addition to being a wonderful way to get in lots of veggies. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Bowl Makeover

It's a cold, dark and rainy Friday, but that won't dampen my spirits nor squash my joy at seeing the green tops of some of my daffodils starting to emerge.  

If that isn't a hopeful sight, I don't know what is.  

I had a great workout and week two of the 28-day shapeover is complete.  I'm starting to see some positive changes to my body and that was reinforced by a compliment from Rob yesterday.  Hubba hubba!  But I'm vexed that I still can't do a proper push-up.  I'm stuck at 30 degrees.  But I'm getting stronger and I'll keep at it until I get there.

I had a full-on vegetarian day yesterday but meat is back on the menu tonight.  I'm making my favorite dinner salad, the Thai Beef Noodle Salad.  A bit of grass fed-skirt steak on a bed of sesame scented rice stick noodles, shredded cabbage, herbs and mixed greens studded with mango, avocado, cucumber, snow peas, red pepper, scallions and sauced with that super hot, tangy and sweet dressing.

Moving on to the title topic, while Rob and I aren't generally football fans, we do like to watch the Super Bowl.  The commercials, the fanfare, the tradition and oh, yes, the food!  I don't really consider the Super Bowl a holiday, though I know many people do.  And you know what "holiday" translates to (especially one that is so uniquely American)?  Gorging on lots of heavy, unhealthy food. 

So I've planned a healthy menu that will hit all the notes that a sports party should.  I'm going to give that delicious but deadly Buffalo Chicken Dip a nutritious and delicious makeover.  The original carries almost 300 calories for one small serving and nearly 600mg of sodium.  Multiply the calories and sodium if the dippers include pretzels and chips.

I'm going to swap canned chicken (gag) for fresh, organic chicken roasted in the oven and diced, swap cream cheese for neufchatel cheese, swap blue cheese dressing for kefir mixed with raw-milk blue cheese crumbles, and after reading lots of labels, I found a hot wing sauce that is absolutely delicious, hot and tangy but has no added sugar and is low in sodium.  I'm going to serve it with celery, cucumbers and mini-peppers.  I will let you know how it turns out.

I'm also going to make homemade pizza.  I haven't tried the dough feature on my new bread machine yet.  I'll up the nutrition by swapping some white flour for 100% whole wheat.  As for the toppings, very simple; San Marzano tomatoes, lots of fresh basil and few globes of creamy, fresh mozzarella.  The kind in water, not the rubbery shreds.

And because we'll be cheering on Green Bay, I'll be giving my nails a fun, green manicure.  It's going to be a great day!

Who are you supporting in Sunday's game? Are you planning healthy snacks or will your healthy lifestyle fall by the wayside?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hump Day Food Porn

Spicy three bean and grass-fed beef chili  served with...

Fresh turnip greens with garlic, spicy red pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar

Turkey panini with baby greens and vinegar peppers, crisp pink lady apple

Frozen chopped turnip greens, prepared with Indian spices (a nutritious and delicious riff on saag paneer), 1/2 cup basmati rice, grilled veggie masala burger and 1/2 garlic naan

Turkey and roasted red pepper panini with steamed veggies

Nutritious and delicious  ingredients for Asian inspired hot pot (vegetable, noodle, beef and shrimp soup)...

if you're wondering how to cram a massive amount of veggies 
into one amazing meal, this is the way to go!

Vanilla glazed lemon scented coffee cake with cinnamon struesel for Afia's baby shower, enlightened using kefir instead of butter or oil

Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans aka pasta fazool) with broccoli rabe (rapini)

New sparkly nerd glasses

Swarovski crystal detail, squee!

Today's quick lunch, leftover rotisserie chicken with a bit of HP brown sauce, crunchy, sweet baby peppers and a rather flaccid Roma tomato.  I can't wait for tomato growing season, this one just didn't do it for me.

I hope the pics I post inspire you to try new ingredients and recipes.  Keeping meals interesting and delicious wards off boredom, which makes staying healthy easy and pleasurable.

I'd love to see your food porn!  If you'd like to submit photos of your nutritious and delicious meals, please don't hesitate to contact me.