Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
- Got new running shoes yesterday: my first pair of Asics. LOVE the folks at Marathon Sports who fitted me. Will try them out later today--hope it doesn't rain.
- Dale had to pack his knives and go from Top Chef last night. Too bad...NOT! After all his nastiness to his comrade contestants, I was surprised to see how much affection Stephanie, Antonia, and Richard showed him as he left; made me wonder if the producers really were only showing his bad side and never his good qualities. Hmmmm....
- Remember the post about my having put points aside for a night and going out for a lovely evening at Lala Rokh, the Persian restaurant on Beacon Hill? My story about that night for Misstropolis.com is now live. Check it out.
- I'm having dinner tonight with a friend at Grezzo Restaurant in the North End--all raw food; can't wait to try it and to tell you all about it tomorrow!!
- I'm wearing right now a pair of jeans that 3 weeks ago didn't fit at all, one week ago barely fit, and now, fit just fine.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Here's the rundown of my weekend road trip.
Two friends and my honey--who is also on WW and skipping along quite nicely with it--and I started out on Friday for a 6.5 hour drive from here to Lewisburg, PA where Deb's niece Cordy was graduating from Bucknell (cum laude, too, I might add--we are all very proud!). I knew that food choices along the way were going to be -- ahem slim--pickings, so I planned ahead and brought good healthy food along for the ride: fruit salad, a package of hummus, some pieces of pita, raw almonds, and some whole wheat pasta and vegetables in a 0-points Asian sauce I had made the night before.
First stop: Starbucks. Of course. Now one of the things I am most grateful in doing this whole food reduction game is that I drink my coffee black. I always have. This is a good thing because I have heard from others that giving up sugar and/or cream in one's coffee is harder than giving up anything else in the points paredown strategy. Lucky for me--no points in the coffee.
But, I was hungry because I had been running around that morning trying to pack and do all the things one who proscrastinates as badly as I do must do before leaving on a trip and I didn't eat breakfast. Not to worry: Starbucks--not all, but several--have an array of relatively healthy fresh food choices to go with one's coffee. (Oh yeah, there are lots of high points offerings as well, like muffins, breads, and sweet rolls, but I don't look up anymore, I only look down in the case below the sweet stuff if I'm hungry.) Whola! Yogurt parfait: low fat plain yogurt, fresh fruit, and a little granola. I had to wait until I got home to calculate the points: 6, but I appreciate that Starbucks offers all the nutrition information on their packaged foods so you can choose wisely.
Next stop for lunch: Wendy's. Whoa. Be careful here. Seriously! Points are lurking in places you wouldn't even imagine. I got the Mandarin Chicken Salad. Now, by itself, this salad, which comes with big tender chunks of skinless chicken and mandarin oranges in the bowl, is 170 calories--3 points. BUT!!! They toss onto your tray some stealth ticking time bombs: packets of salad dressing, slivered almonds, and crispy noodles. Now, I'm no fool--I think--I know that almonds are better than fried noodles, so I forgo the noodles and spill that entire little packet of almonds all over my salad. Oh yeah. I opt for about a third of the sesame salad dressing, and I figure I have chosen pretty wisely and I'm feeling quite virtuous for myself.
On our way out, I see the large poster of nutrition information for each of the food items hanging in the dining room. If I had eaten everything: almonds and noodles and all the dressing, that salad would have totalled out at more than 500 calories! The almonds are the worst offender. I came home and did the points: 11. They must do something to them.
Now, I have to give Wendy's credit because if you go online, you can actually create personalized meals with their products and get the exact nutrition information for each one. And, because they allow special orders, if you plan ahead, you'll know exactly what you're getting when you order. Use this in combination with the WW points calculator, and you're golden. The key: plan ahead. (More on planning ahead in a future post.)
That night at dinner--and throughout the weekend--I limited my alcohol intake. A huge challenge, generally for me, but a slight stomach bug kept me in check for the most part. We did find some excellent microbrewed beer at the Selingsgrove Brewery the next day, that, had I been feeling better, I could have indulged even more in. Also there, we had a good healthy lunch of curried chicken salad with fresh vegetables and pita points. We also had nachos, which generally are high in points, but these had more tomatoes than cheese and no chili, so not as bad as they could have been.
My fruit salad was a great snack throughout the weekend--thank goodness for the in-room refrigerator--and, for the most part, staying away from the hors d' oeuvre table--which was surrounded by hungry young graduating people and their friends, so that was good--made the weekend no so bad for points.
Dinner Friday night was the hardest: steak and seared tuna with tempura sushi rolls, amazing grilled romaine salads and key lime pie. Hmm. That was tough. (I'm just remember that I never entered the points for those tempura rolls! Oh well.)
All in all, however, not a bad trip points wise. And we had fun all hanging out together. Biggest takeaway lessons: pay attention, plan ahead as much as possible, bank points throughout the week, and relax. I know that because I'm on WW, I didn't eat as much as I would have had I not been tracking points. And while I definitely went over the limit, I was always mindful of what I was eating--not in a panicked ridiculous and annoying to others kind of way--but just paying attention kind of way. It worked. I'm happy.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
- My honey and I are heading off tomorrow for a 3-day road trip with friends to a niece's college graduation. We will see how well we can stay on the Plan with parties, cocktail receptions, restaurant meals, and road food to contend with. I'll be keeping good notes and taking pictures, so stay tuned next week for the rundown.
- I'm very excited about some raw food recipes in the June issue of Food&Wine (somewhere someone is hearing my call for healthy recipes in the mainstream!!). I'm going to test them out and will report back in a future post.
- Have a great weekend and wish me luck!
Now, give them credit: kids are only following their parents' example, so if the parents are fat, whola. And if the parents aren't encouraging them--or other adults in their lives, doesn't have to just be parents--then how do they know that that is the way life just is?
Some folks are doing good work; gyms for kids and new federal programs to teach kids how to make healthier food choices and to move more. But people today--kids and adults alike--are just so innundated with bad food choices that choosing the few good ones takes enormous motivation--something which kids have a hard enough time with. It's a sad battle, and one that I am very afraid we are losing. Meanwhile, a survey from PeaPod, Inc., showed that employees have a hard time making good food choices for themselves when they are busy at work. And what do they often have to choose from? Highly processed, high calorie foods from vending machines and local fast food restaurants. When you think about it, this is really outrageous.
The winner was Dale, who is my least favorite contestant on the show, but he did come up with an interesting dish that was very healthy and looked like something I would enjoy eating. His originality showed in his use of buffalo meat. I've only had this protein once, and I liked it. I would eat more of it if it were more widely available: it's very lean, high in protein, and tastes like beef. He made what sounds like a tasty mango chili marinade by boiling fresh and dried mango together in rice vinegar and then adding the beef, which he then grilled. Secondly, he added brown rice and then scooped the salad into big pieces of bok choy, which served as a tasty, crunchy, and obviously 0 points bowl. It looked really good--so good, that, despite my not liking him (oh yeah, I said that already) I saved the recipe to try myself. I'll report on the results in a later post.
This challenge was to cook for members of the Chicago Police Academy. What a great view into a slice of everyday life for thousands of working people in this country: people on the go who need a satisfying, even hearty, meal that is also delicious. But, because everyone is getting so fat, they need something that is also low calorie and healthy. Bingo--the producers hit on the crux of the American food problem: sating hunger with healthy food when your options include numerous choices that are filled with fat and calories and more fat. Bravo Bravo! for thinking outside the box on this one.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sauces was one of the first tricks I brought home, adding butter and heavy cream and stock to crispy bits left over in the pan from sauteing. And let's face it, all my dinner guests loved these sauces, too. Oh my god, biscuits and gravy--just another word for sauce, right?
But stop! No sauce, no more. At least not like I used to make it. But thanks to some channel surfing on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I found Ellie Krieger on the Food Network channel, and she made a sauce without cream or butter or flour. She used stock and fresh fruit. I tried it with roasted pork (very lean) and it worked. And it was delicious. Here's what I did:
I browned the pork tenderloin, and when browned, I removed it from the pan and deglazed the pan with a half-cup of white wine and let that reduce. Then I added 1 cup of chicken broth, 1 cup of orange juice, and then a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, and crushed ginger. Let that reduce, and then I added a cup of chopped pineapple. Taste and season. Let it reduce again, returned the pork to the pan, and let the whole thing cook until the porkloin was finished. Really good, and really low in points.
The trick is the reduction technique and the use of good fresh fruit. Ellie used peaches in her recipe, but I think many fruits word work well, as would cherries. The resulting sauce is definitely thinner than a sauce made with fat and flour, but it still has flavor--lots of it. Try it!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
For the purposes of this blog, however, I'm intrigued with Jackie's SkyLab project to bring 10 really overweight--and a few obese--people into shape. It's a fascinating insight into what people need to do to lose weight: this is where the rubber hits the pavement for real. No baby talk. No hand holding. No crying game. No 'why me??' This is the real deal. The formula to losing weight is simple: reduce what you eat; increase your workout. That's it.
But the people in her SkyLab--not all, but a few--whine and cry and say I can't. Hey, if it were easy and could be sold in a bottle, everyone would be doing it. It's not easy. But it is the only way. I'm not being coarse. I just know. Painfully, I know. I also know that if I don't do the formula, there will be no change. And that is not acceptable to me--I cannot not lose weight. That is not an option.
So, I'm going to be staying tuned into Work Out this season because I really want to see how these folks do and compare my own ups and downs, triumphs and heartaches with theirs.
Also, if you haven't check out the Work Out website, do it now. Not just for the drama--which is sizzling and fun--and the eye candy of the trainers (Yowza!), but for the 30-second awesome workout videos. Now, nothing beats getting yourself a personal trainer (I'll write more about my own hottie personal trainer, Mark, in future posts), but these little shorts are well done and get right to the point.
So go, watch some good tv and work out, now!
Monday, May 12, 2008
More later. I have lots of fun ideas to write about, but I have to go sulk for a while at the moment!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I am a budding food writer (I know, the timing is a little off, but I have some fantasy that I can make it all work out one way or another--stay tuned.) Anyway, I got a wonderful invitation / opportunity to write about an art collection / food and wine pairing at a lovely little Persian restaurant on Beacon Hill called Lala Rokh. The brother and sister team who owns this restaurant also collects art, so the evening was as much about viewing a new acquisition, exhibited in the restaurant, as it was about enjoying the cuisine. How could I say no?
Three of us had a very enjoyable dinner with wine, dessert, and lots of laughter and fun conversation--exactly what being at table should be.
I thought about my points before the evening began. I have been diligently tracking them morning, midday, and evening for three straight weeks as well as adding in my activity points (which, I must say, seem to be very unfairly distributed when compared to the food points--but that's another post for another day!). And then, I just made the choice to not worry about points for this one evening. I wasn't going to try to calculate points for foods that were strange to me and that I would have little idea about how they were made. I wasn't going to add up all my banked points and fill them in for this night. I just decided I wasn't going to do it. I was going to enjoy this evening with my wife and one of our good friends, and the delightful service and recommendations of the chef, relax and enjoy. And I can say triumphantly that I did just that!
Now, a couple comments: I did not eat eat any bread from the bread basket, although I did take a bite of the hummus served as an accompaniment. And, Persian food, much like other food from the Middle East, is, from the outset, more healthfully and naturally prepared than food from some other cuisines. The bases are dried fruits and legumes; the techniques are long slow stewing; the meats are lean. There aren't many fats--no butters or heavy creams. Intense, complex flavors come from spice combinations; flavors are intensified by roasting the spices. We all left the table happy and sated, but not full and ill feeling. The biggest indulgences were two thumbnail-sized pieces of baklava and a melon-ball sized scoop of saffron ice cream.
And of course, the easiest way to reduce the amount of food you eat is to share. Plus, it's much more fun to have different tastes and to give and take instead of horde your own plate, I think.
The next day, back to points. I know that I cannot eat with abandon on a regular basis. In fact last night, again out with friends, but this time, I chose the seared tuna steak--and ate half--and greens. Simple, delicious, low in points. I know that my life now--and probably for a very long time to come, if not now forever--will be guided by points. I feel better. I'm losing weight. I'm healthier and happier.
But I also know that, occasionally, I will also be happy to enjoy an evening at table without overly consciously thinking about points. (Dinners with huge bowls of pasta covered in cream sauce, however, are probably never more.) I do believe I can mindfully do both.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Nigiri: 4 pieces = 2 points
Spicy Tuna roll = 5 points
Seaweed Salad = 1 point
There's even room for sake: 3 points for a 1/2 cup.
I'm singing for sushi because I have been working on a food story for Misstropolis.com about the wonderful and inspiring Haley House Bakery and Cafe (check out my story), which is chock full of tasty and healthy sandwiches and plates of roasted meats and sides. Yum. But the killer has been the muffins. I have to try them to be responsible to my story, right? So I do and of course they are delicious. The pumpkin muffin topped with toasted pumkin seeds sends shivers up my spine just thinking about it.
And then the slap of reality when I come back to Jesus and sit before my points tracker and start adding it all in. A muffin: 6 points. Now, seriously, that hurts.
So, it was raw veggies for lunch yesterday and then sushi last night. Eating slowly and talking and laughing a lot helps stretch out a meal and makes you feel like you might be eating more than you really are. All these tricks one must learn.
Monday, May 5, 2008
- Heat, like the kind from chili peppers, creates saiety as well as excitement and full flavor
- I really have no tolerance for bad food--if I'm going to save up my points to eat pizza, it better be damned good pizza
- I'm finding that I actually don't enjoy eating too much: I don't feel good afterwards
- I've lost a total of 6.8 pounds so far
- I'm able to run a 9.5 minute mile pace for a longer period of time
- My total number of daily points has been lowered by 1 point; is this WW's way of telling me they want me to lose more weight?
This really is the beginning of how I will eat the rest of my life.
Friday, May 2, 2008
No, the joy I have discovered for dessert is tea. Really. Try it. I'm a diehard coffee drinker--it's one of the reasons I ditched the South Beach diet early on: no coffee allowed. For me? No way! Double espresso every day... bring it on! But at night, after dinner, I've been making myself a cup of tea. But not just any tea. I'm getting turned on by teas with bold bright flavors: Berry Black, Red Zinger, Lemon, Jasmine Spice. If I'm feeling a little more mellow, I go for chamomile or mint or ginger.
Ending my meal with tea is surprisingly satisfying. The warmth creates a feeling of fullness that is also comforting and very calming. The bold flavors make me happy and delight my palate. And...0 points! I don't kill my tally at the end of the day. What can be better?