Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gotta run!

This is going to be a quick post. I was procrastinating about making food for the party tomorrow and now I'm kind of against the wall, so I have to go to the grocery store and do some serious prepping so tomorrow isn't too overwhelming before the party. So let's go straight to breakfast!

1/3 c of rolled oats, 1/3 c skim milk, 1/3 c water, 1T cocoa powder + 1/2 banana all microwaved for a little over 2 minutes. Then I topped it off with a serving of TJ's trek mix. Nice and warm (and chocolatey!) for this super cold morning. Sorry it looks like a brown mess...

I had an early workout today so there was no need for a pre-workout snack. I couldn't decided on whether I wanted to do 2 workouts again, but figured it was maybe a little too obsessive so I had one workout that's slightly longer than usual (75 minutes). At the gym I took a "Butts & Guts" class, which is kind of like an interval training boot camp style class - a mix of cardio and lifting. It was great! I then jumped on the elliptical for 15 minutes and finished my workout with a 15 minute abs class. I was done after that!!!! And I was hungry...

Lunch: leftover risotto from last night.

And a clemantine:

Then I got a craving for chocolate so I had a few squares...

And then I wanted to eat my second planned snack (hummus + crackers) but I couldn't find the crackers anywhere!!! I know I brought them to work, but I looked absolutely everywhere with no luck. It's funny because I planned to have the same thing yesterday but forgot the hummus at home. Today I had the hummus but no crackers. Hmm. I seriously considered eating the hummus with a spoon (I know, classy!) - I love hummus, but instead decided to raid my desk drawer for other goodies. I found this bad boy:

Nectar organic cranberry, apricot and almond fruit & nut bar. It's basically kind of like a larabar. How cute is my paper clip holder?!

Here is what it looks like on the inside:

I ate about half of it and decided that it's not what I really wanted to I put the rest away. (btw, it wasn't very good). The search for more food continued. The whole missing crackers thing really threw me off! I found a bunch of instant oatmeal packets in the drawer and a packet of barney butter. So I made it!

There was more almond butter added after I took this pic (I ate the whole packet = 1 tablespoon). This stuff was just ok. I thought it would fill me up, and it did. I think what I really wanted was haloween candy everyone complains about but these are nowhere to be seen in my office. If we had them, I'd be complaining too because of all the temptation, but we didn't, so I wanted some. I'm weird like that. Anyways, we didn't have any halloween candy so I stopped eating... until dinner.

Dinner was pretty awesome. I've been smelling steak lately, every time I pass by a restaurant. So a few nights ago when we were at a grocery store we picked up some super lean beef. I marinaded it last night with some canola oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and some thai red curry paste. Today I grilled on on an iron grill pan for about 4 minutes on each side. But before that, I made some sweet potato "fries." Cut one large sweet potato into wedges, spray with olive oil spray, bake in the oven at 500 degrees for about 25 minutes. I tossed it with some garlic and parsley when it came out of the oven and served myself a 1/3 of the fries (my husband had the rest). For another veggie, I sauteed some spinach with garlic and a tiny bit of chicken broth. It was super garlicky and delicious :) So here is my plate:

The marinade was amazing... the whole meal was amazing actually! I have some of the beef (same portion as pictured - a little over 3 oz uncooked) left for a salad tomorrow. It was hard not to eat the whole thing but I know I'll be happy tomorrow! :) And then, even though I was probably out of calories for the day, because I knew I wanted some real dessert, I made 2 chocolate chip cookies (from TJ's frozen isle). I figured if I didn't have dessert tonight I would just pig out tomorrow, and that would be worse.

Here they are + a decaf vanilla tea.

Super buttery! They are 120 calories each, so it's not that much damage. My husband stole half a cookie and saved me 60 calories right there :P My belly is happy now so I'm happy :)

Ok, I'm off to the grocery store! I'm making the spinach artichoke dip I made for the last few parties (it was requested by the hostess!) and a few other goodies. Stay tuned for the update on those!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sweet leaning tower

I wanted to start this post by thanking everyone for their really nice comments. I am really out of the funk I went through the last few days. Dinner was super delicious, which makes the end of the day (well it's no over, but it's getting there) that much better! Yay for awesome healthy food!

I was so full last night before going to bed that I just could not stomach the idea of making food for today. Nothing seemed appealing at all. This morning as a result was kind of rushed. I wanted to keep chocolate, nuts and peanut butter (my offenders last night) out of the menu for the day. This made for a pretty bland breakfast :(

This combo was a cup of TJ's nonfat yogurt, a bunch of strawberries, some kashi golean cereal, flax and a bit of strawberry sauce. It was "eh."

A few hours later I had my first cup of coffee with half and half and some agave nectar, and this guy:

How cute is the picture? I like zbars a lot, but aside from the picture, this flavor didn't excite me much. Here is a shot of the bar inside (I guess they all kind of look the same though):

Then I went to the gym and made up my 4 mile run. I started at 6.5 mph and worked up to 7.2 mph. Not bad. I also did about 0.15 mile walk at 4.3 mph before I started running and the same distance and speed to cool down. I wanted to take a stability ball class after that, but there was a substitute instructor there so I pretended like I just walked in to grab the jump rope and left. Sorry, I don't want to waste my time. This woman (substitute) is no good, and I just could not deal with a boring workout. So I took a quick shower and went back to work. I decided I'd come back for a sports yoga class offered later in the day. This class is soooo good. This is the only yoga class I think I ever truly enjoy. The 45 minute class just seriously flies by.

Anyways, since I knew my yoga class wasn't that far off, I kept the lunch on the small side. I just ate the leftover bulgar and butternut squash medley I made on Sunday.

It was still very good, but I think different from when it was fresh. I brought a HUGE apple to have with it but held off on eating it until after yoga. I had it with a lite string cheese as you can see here:

Hmm, that apple doesn't look as big in the picture, but trust me it was!

Sorry up until that point my food was kind of boring, but let me tell you dinner was the bomb! I usually have an ingredient in mind when I look for a recipe (unless I just randomly come across something I just have to make). Tonight's dinner came from a search for a meal with fresh mozzarella. We bought a bit hunk of it a few weeks ago when we made a roasted tomato and fresh mozzarella pizza for my husband's parents and I noticed a few days ago that a bunch of the mozzarella was still in the fridge. We can't let it go to waste! So yesterday for lunch, I used an ounce of it in my sandwich and today I made Risotto with Fresh Mozzarellla, Grape Tomatoes and Basil from Cooking Light. I made just 4 servings worth, substituted some spinach for leeks, and used almost 1/3 more chicken broth than the recipe called for (I wanted it to be super creamy, not at all crunchy so it just took more liquid to get it there). Oh, I also "made" my own half and half by combining cream with skim milk, and I only used 1 tsp of oil instead of 2 tablespoons. There is just no need to use that much oil sometimes. It was super creamy and dense as is.

Man, this stuff was good! Here are a few shots of the ongoing process for you. It's hard to take pictures when I cook, because either my hands are dirty or it just doesn't look appetizing. But here we go:

A lot of stirring involved here. This was super easy to make but I basically was stirring the broth into the rice for maybe 40 minutes (adding a little bit at a time until it absorbed). It was surprisingly relaxing, although maybe if I were in a different mood it could be frustrating. Today it was no problem because I wasn't that hungry and was in a yogi mood after that yoga class :)

Here are some of the mix-ins waiting for the rice to be ready (basil, grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and s&p):

And my first bite of the final product:

Yum!!! Again the picture completely does not do this justice. It had melty cheese, fresh tomatoes, creamy rice and quality balsamic vinegar. Seriously decadent. My husband said it was one of the best meals I've ever made and also the best risotto he's ever had in his life. Not a bad review, heh? :D

Here is a close-up of the risotto before it was drizzled with the balsamic vinegar:

I may just have to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow...

And then because I felt really good about myself (no more being moody!) I had dessert. I can't go a day without eating some real chocolate! (that zbar didn't count)

A dark chocolate "lollipop." How can you resist this? I couldn't :)

And that's it for today's eats.

Oh, I'm going to a Halloween cocktail party on Friday. The hostess said to bring some food since she bought too much candy already. Any suggestions? I want to make/bring something savory and healthy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stressful day :(

UGH, today was just awful awful. I'm sorry I'm not much fun today. Work was stressful and busy so I never made it to the gym. This in turn stressed me out even more, which led to some bingeing. Boo! Before the final fall, I did have some yummy (and healthy!) food. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking and will resume this blog tomorrow on a more positive note. Hopefully I won't lose any of you...

Breakfast: 2 kashi golean waffles with Barney Butter almond butter packet, 1/2 banana and 1/2 peach + coffee of course. One of my favorite breakfasts!

Pre-workout snack (the workout never happened): 1/2 TJ's European nonfat yogurt, some sliced strawberries and sliced almonds + a few chocolate and pb chips:

Lunch: chicken (from the deli), fresh mozzarella, pesto and roasted red peppers + a simple mixed greens and shredded carrots salad and the rest of the peach from breakfast:

I also finished the brownies (there were 2 left) as my second snack of the day.

And here is dinner: ww pasta, grilled chicken, asparagus, sun dried tomatoes with vodka sauce:

This tasted better than it looks :)

Then was my first dessert for the night: some TJ's chocolate covered edamames:

And then I broke down and ate everything in sight... for hours, while watching the Biggest Loser. Productive I know!

No workout today. So much for making up for this past weekend. Bluh! I'll do better tomorrow. Seriously! Good night!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Back on track

Oh I feel so much better today... and my belly is happy :) Here's the recap of today's eats:

Breakfast was banana themed: 2 leftover whole wheat banana pancakes with a tsp of maple syrup on the side, 1/2 cup of TJ's nonfat European yogurt with 1/2 sliced banana and raisins + a cup of coffee with half and half and 1 1/2 sugar packets. I need to buy some agave nectar for the office. I hate consuming white sugar (that's not part of baked goods) and thankfully I've weaved myself off of Splenda. Sorry, this picture is not appetizing, but it was pretty delicious :)

My stomach was still freaking out a bit (I've decided I ate something bad this weekend and that's why I've been feeling weirdly full) so I had a pretty late snack. It was super simple and made me feel a little better.

The fresh peach paired very nicely with the creamy ricotta. I used 1/4 cup to fill this peach. Good stuff!

Onto my lunch workout. Due to lack of exercise over the weekend, I've decided to make it up over the last 3 days. I will double my workouts for the next 3 days (well, 1 day is down already :D). So here is the schedule:

Monday - lunch - spinning class; after work - Group Power class
Tuesday - 4 mile run + pilates class (not sure if I'm going to split this into 2 workouts or just bang it out in one notch)
Wednesday - lunch - spinning class; after work - weight lifting workout
Thursday - lunch - 8 mile run
Friday - lunch- Journey to the Core class
Saturday - TBD - some kind of cardio
Sunday - rest day

A little while after spinning I put together my delicious lunch: 1 1/4 oz of smoked salmon and a wedge of light laughing cow cheese on Ezekiel english muffin with grape tomatoes and an apple on the side.

Sandwich close up:

The apple was meant to be for dessert but I actually really enjoyed eating it with the sandwich. It was a nice sweet and salty combo!

And a little while later I ate my last pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. They're finally gone! I'm actually happy about that.

Man, my manicure is looking rough already! Seriously I think my nails reject nail polish. I got my nails done just 2 days ago. Anyways, I digress...

As planned, after work I took the Group Power class at my gym. This class is the best! After 60 minutes of good old lifting to the music, I finally felt back to my normal self. Yay!

Dinner came from the Cooking Light September 2008 issue. I knew I'd be home a little later so I looked through the "superfast" section of a random magazine I had lying around. I've made a few things from Cooking Light's superfast section before and they are always (as the title implies) superfast and always delicious. 100% of them have been amazing! Tonight we made the smoky shrimp and parmesan polenta cakes and served it with some steamed asparagus. It literally took less than 10 minutes and was super delicious!

Fresh asparagus:

Polenta cakes topped with spaghetti sauce and parmesan cheese:

And the final product:

Make this! :D

And to finish this wonderful meal off, I made a quicky dessert: about 3/4 serving of Stony Field's vanilla frozen yogurt, 3 sliced strawberries and 1 square of dark chocolate melted. Perfection!

I'm very happy right now and am looking forward to another healthy day tomorrow. Yeah!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kitchen experiments

This weekend is coming to an end but it was definitely a really good one so I feel like I at least took advantage of it :) Today was absolutely gorgeous out. It was the perfect weather, combined with beautiful fall foliage - it's easy to love fall when it's this nice out.

We went to the open house this afternoon, except on the door bell there was a hand written note saying it was canceled for today. I was happy it got us out of the house, but it made me angry they were so irresponsible about it. Oh well, we made the best of the day anyways. We walked around all over Boston and eventually before heading home stopped by P.F. Chang's and Whole Foods. I didn't want anything, but my husband got a cup of their hot and sour soup (it's only 80 calories and is really good) and a Blue Moon. All the food around us looked really good, but I just didn't feel like having another meal out today. P.F. Chang's is really great, though, despite being a chain. Some chains are ok, I guess. I put the Cheesecake Factory in the same category. It's good food, so no wonder they have so many of them - people love them! Another good thing about P.F. Chang's is that they post nutritional information online for all of their food (very cool!) and are also very flexible with "special orders." You can ask them to not use any oil, or saute instead of frying, etc. Ok, enough with P.F. Chang's promotions :)

When we finally got home I was pretty hungry. This was many many hours after breakfast, so I had to throw something together quickly! I feel like I've been making a lot of quick meals lately, hopefully it doesn't make it too boring for you readers. This was a very satisfying lunch, though, despite not being as fancy as my breakfast.

This was kind of a Mediterranean salad: mixed greens, grape tomatoes, green olives, roasted red peppers and the star of the show, 1/4 cup of Sabra hummus (this is only 2 tablespoons in the picture... I went back for more later!). I used just some lemon juice to dress this up. As I was making the salad, I toasted 1 1/2 of TJ's low carb wraps. I cut them up into little triangles, sprayed them with Pam and sprinkled them with garlic powder and some parmesan cheese. I dipped these into the hummus as I was eating the salad. It was very satisfying.

And for dessert I had a serving of TJ's american nutty trek mix. Seriously, this is the best trail mix ever (and very versatile)!

Then I watched a bunch of TV and did a whole lot of nothing. Oh and I ate some more brownies and pumpkin choc chip cookies. Yup, I'm totally bad this weekend. These things must be out of my house by tomorrow morning because apparently I've lost all self control. No workout either. I need a break. Tomorrow is a new day.

After eating all the sweets I got into a negative/self destructive mood. I got an urge to stuff my face and go out for pizza. I knew this was really bad thinking, especially since I've been very unhealthy for the past few days. This is what happens to me when I fall off the wagon. I want to continue sliding down until I feel sick and sorry for myself. At times like this I try to remind myself of how great it feels to be healthy (and how good it is for my body!) but it usually takes a little bit of time to snap out of it. Thankfully I listened to my husband (he's the best!) and stayed away from the cookie jar. Instead I started to think about what to create for dinner.

Tonight's dinner was the first time I ever just threw things together that I thought would just work. I don't mean throwing a salad together or making a sandwich. I mean cooking a real meal without a recipe to follow. I am new at cooking and so far have followed directions with some success, but tonight there was no recipe to follow. I had an idea of what I wanted dinner to taste like, and I decided to just go for it. It came out wonderfully! I was really REALLY proud of myself!

Here is how it all happened. A little over a week ago I made turkey lasagna. This required some butternut squash, the rest of which has been sitting in our fridge, waiting patiently to be prepared somehow. Also, I asked my husband today what he wanted for dinner and he said he wanted fish since we haven't made that in a long time. Hmm, fish and butternut squash. These did not sound like they'd go together but I was willing to give it a go.

Inspired by today's walk, I wanted to make something that would feel and taste like fall. Butternut squash was a great base for that, and I thought that some cranberries and hazelnuts would be a nice addition to that. So here is what I did...

I cubed and steamed some butternut squash. While that was going, I made 2 servings of bulgar accroding to package directions. If you haven't tried bulgar yet, it is a really great whole grain. It's also great because while being exceptionally nutritious, it only takes 15 minutes to cook (unlike brown rice which tasted you know, for-ever!). I also bought a really interesting dried fruit mixture at TJ's the other day: dried cranberries, golden raisins, dried sour cherries and dried blueberries. I threw a little over a tablespoon of them right into the bulgar while it was cooking and saved a bit to add into the final product.

We also purchased some tilapia at Whole Foods today, so I simply sprinkled it with some S&P and bread crumbs and broiled it on high for maybe 10 minutes (just until it was flaky). I added a bit of parmesan cheese to it a few minutes before finally taking it out of the oven.

Ok, on to the side dish. I toasted some hazelnuts on a skillet, then added a tsp of EVOO and garlic to it, followed by the steamed butternut squash and a sprinkle of brown sugar. I let it caremelize a bit and then added the bulgar mixture into the pan. I salted and peppered it and then added a bit of parmesan cheese (to tie it to the fish... but you couldn't really taste it) and squeezed some lemon to it. This tasted super complex - sweet and savory. Seriously amazing. I loved it, but more importantly my tougher critic, my husband, loved it too! He said he's starting to like butternut squash and pumpkin now... I'll take the credit for it :D This was also pretty low calorie but extremely filling. I highly recommend this concoction, or some sort of combination to this. It really tasted like fall... Mission accomplished!

Mmm, sweet whole grains...

Time to catch up on some blog reading and get ready for tomorrow. Thank you all new readers for tuning in. I really appreciate all your comments and look forward to checking out your blogs (if I haven't already).

So fancy

Wow, I feel like a real chef this morning. And here is why:

Yes, I made this this morning and it was really easy! Is your mouth watering yet? Mine did the second I put this together and I couldn't wait to dig in :D

Let me backtrack a bit. As I mentioned yesterday I watched Ellie Krieger's latest episode of Healthy Appetite and it was chocolate themed. This meant that every entree had some chocolate in it and this chocolate and strawberry stuffed french toast looked like something I had to try for breakfast this morning. I even had all the ingredients on hand. It was fate! :)

This seriously took just a few minutes to make. You can check out the link for the recipe, but you basically take two slices of ww bread, put some ricotta cheese, some sliced strawberries and choc chips inside, dip in a milk and egg mixture and pan fry. I topped it off with some extra strawberries and even sprinkled it with some confectioner's sugar for you guys :) How fancy does that look?! Stuffed french toast is my favorite brunch item ever, and if I see it on the menu I can't help but order it. Now I know I don't have to go out for a greasy breakfast but instead can make it at home. Awesome! I had it with some homemade strawberry sauce on the side. Surprise, surprise, it was Ellie Krieger's recipe too (you can find it here, just scroll down). I made this awhile back.

I had it with a large cup of coffee, with skim milk and a tsp of agave nectar. What a great breakfast! Aerial view:

And a close up:

Before this yumminess I had a pumpkin choc chip cookie (see previous posts for picture + recipe). The choc chips were calling my name and I was weak. It's ok, I woke up late so there will be one less snack today.

Last night, btw, I totally fell off the wagon again. Boo! We went to the Bleacher Bar at Fenway for our first round of drinks. I had a bottle of Magner's hard cider. I love this stuff! This was my first time at the Bleacher Bar and this place was pretty cool. It is right in the park and would be super cool during a game. It was very tastefully decorated too - modern yet appropriate for a Fenway sports bar - lots of Red Sox memorabilia and what not, but not in a tacky way. We'll definitely be back! We then headed to the Cask'n Flagon for the rest of the night. This is where things turned for the worse (healthy choices wise). I had a really early dinner so I was starving by then (it was probably 5 hours since I've last eaten). We ordered a pitcher of Stella (to start things off) and some friends ordered french fries for the table (btw, those french fries were amazing and only $3 -wow!). I wanted food, I wanted drinks (without counting every calorie) so I just gave in. This is where the "sane" part of this blog comes into play. I don't want to feel deprived because that just comes back to haunt me. I just know myself. My husband and I ordered the boneless buffalo wings with their buffaque sauce (buffalo + bbq = buffaque). The "wings" were really like chicken breasts - they were huge! Here is the plate that contained 4 "wings."

I had half of this (no blue cheese, I hate blue cheese). And more beer of course. It was one of those "self-refilling" glasses night :)

And when we got home I had some brownies and pumpkin cookies (2 of each, I think). BAD!!!! Oh well, I am seriously back on track today!

Another thing I decided is that I am no longer going to have the "all bets are off" days. Friday was just too much and I didn't feel well until Saturday afternoon. Putting myself out of commission like that is just not healthy (and honestly not fun) so I'm done with that. Instead I'm going to eat healthy at least 5 days a week and allow myself a few meals (not days!) of splurges. A night like last night when we were hanging out with friends and having fun would qualify as a "worthy occasion."

Ok, I'm done rambling for now. We're off to check out an open house and then I don't know, maybe enjoy the nice weather we have in Boston today. Have a great rest of the weekend. Hopefully it's nice weather wherever you are!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Parish Cafe

Today was another one of those unsuccessful shopping days. We went to a lot of stores (my poor husband) but nothing just jumped out at me. I hate when that happens! Oh well, at least lunch was good :)

Almost 6 hours after breakfast, I finally had a snack: an almonds & apricots KIND bar. These things are awesome!!!!

These bars are just full of nuts. They are all natural and super delicious. They had a little tasting of them at Whole Foods the other day and I picked this flavor. I think I'm a little obsessed now :) Here is a close-up:

Then I had a large banana. No picture of the banana, because we all know what a banana looks like :)

And then after a bit of shopping my husband wanted to go to the Parish Cafe for one of their "famous" sandwiches. At first I wasn't going to get anything, but then one of their salads looked pretty good and seemed healthy enough so I got it so I wouldn't just stare at my husband while he's eating :) I got "The Boss" salad: arugula tossed with carmelized almonds, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, goat cheese and a lemon-arugula dressing. I got my salad without the onions, of course, and ordered the dressing on the side. Here it is:

I had just a little bit of the dressing, but it was really good! I ate every bite of the salad and right after finishing it, realized that they forgot the goat cheese! I bet it would have been good too. Anyways, obviously it was still excellent without it since I practically licked the plate clean and this saved me a few calories :)

A post lunch "snack" was the tropical white tea from Tealuxe. Wow, this was my first tea from Tealuxe and it was the best tea ever! The tea is described as rare Fujian white tea from China infused with pineapple and coconut, and it tasted very complex but yet very soft. Good stuff! :D

After a few more hours of shopping with nothing purchased we got home. Somehow I was starving again. We didn't plan anything for dinner so I wanted something very quick. I grabbed a packet of Annie's white cheddar mac & cheese, added some peas to it and microwaved it for 3 minutes. I then added 1/2 can of albacore tuna and voila, awesome quick delicious dinner.

Then there was dessert (1/2 serving of TJ's chocolate covered edamames) ...

And I was still hungry so I ate an apple, which finally filled me up. I love fiber!

Oh, looking through the camera pics, I just remembered that I also ate one of those brownies I made last weekend. I won't bore you with the picture of it again. It was really good though :) Anyways, I'm finally full (but not too full!) and we're about to go to a bar. I think there is some hard cider in my future. See you tomorrow!