Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dieting and What I'm Eating/Drinking this Week

I don't like to think of myself being on a "diet", but I feel like I have been on a "diet" for the last 10 years or so. Oh the whoa's of womanhood... I have joined weight watchers at least three separate times (it always works), I have run two half-marathons, and one full marathon (lost only 1 f-ing pound), I completed maybe 15 out of 90 days of P90X, and I have tried like every other diet you can think of (South Beach, Atkins, blah blah blah). In college my roommates and I even tried a juice fast! (I do not recommend it, but more on the Master Cleanse below). Am I making it clear what a sucker I am for new products or diet ideas??

Ok, but I'm a smart girl and I am a HUGE fan of the Biggest Loser, so I know that the only real way to lose weight is to move more, eat less. It's weight loss 101 - obviously easier said than done. My best weight loss success was a summer in college when I did weight watchers and didn't exercise at all. For some reason, I seem to do better if I don't exercise a ton, cuz exercising seems to really increase my appetite. So I am trying this again, counting WW points (not actually going to meetings or anything) and not feeling guilty about not exercising. I am still active, love going to yoga and hot yoga, golfing, tennis, any chance I can get to play volleyball, but I don't go to the gym and I don't make myself go running anymore.

For those of you who haven't noticed the "Tweet Tweet" to the right - I recently joined Twitter! I know, me and everyone else on the planet right? I mostly like following the celebrities and by following Giuliana Rancic I was led to her website which led me to her Meal Plan. This woman is tiny, but she is dedicated and has definitely earned it. Which I appreciate cuz I feel like I have to eat sooo healthy just to not gain weight and the people who eat like crap and are still tiny make me furious. I have taken a few of her recommendations and this leads me to....

What I'm Eating/Drinking This Week!!!

The first new habit I have adopted is drinking 16 oz of water with the juice from half a lemon and a pinch of cayenne pepper. G drinks this early in the morning to get her metabolism going, but I just try to drink it as early in the day as I can. It tastes pretty good, and hey why not? This may sound familiar to the Beyonce version of the Master Cleanse. I did some research on this and the Master Cleanse includes the above recipe plus maple syrup and you drink like 16 glasses a day or something crazy. Based on the book I looked at, it is recommended that you do the Master Cleanse for 10 days to see results. I love food, so I'm gonna pass on trying this one (did I mention that the college juice cleanse was a disaster? Have I ever mentioned that my college roommates once had a bake-off and went to Skyline Chili afterwards?)

The second recommendation is drinking a kombucha everyday. What is this you may ask?

"Kombucha is alternately known as a Chinese tea, a plant, or a mushroom. But it's not really any of these. It's a living culture of beneficial microorganisms, and in Kombucha's case, the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of its parts! Kombucha is delicately cultured - some liken it to fermentation - for 30 days. During this period, essential nutrients form like active enzymes, viable probiotics, amino acids, antioxidants and polyphenols. All of these combine to create an elixir that immediately works with the body to restore balance and vitality."

This is a much pricier habit than lemons and cayenne, but I have been drinking it this week and I feel great! It is a little strange tasting, and smells like vinegar, but so far so good!

The third recommendation has been the largest change. G claims that coffee makes your body hold on to fat. Well, I'm not really convinced that true, but I do think I was getting a little addicted to my morning cup and I was using way too much non-dairy creamer which I'm sure isn't a good thing. So I have stopped drinking coffee and switched to tea. Mostly green and oolong, sometimes black. I have also tried to stop using splenda or eating any artificial sweetener (read: no more diet pop) I bought that new truvia sweetener made from the stevia plant, and its not nearly as sweet, but I'm sure its better for me overall. This is not to say I have completely given up coffee or pop, I'm just trying not to have them on a daily basis anymore.

So that's what I'm drinking this week. I have been loving eating oranges and grapes this week. The pickled grapes I mentioned in the last post were not really worth making, but the flank steak recipe I provided a link to is AWESOME and totally recommend it - thanks to Ruby!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What I'm Eating This Week

I had quite the food-filled weekend - which is definitely my favorite kind of weekend.

Friday night, Ruby, Red, CC and I went on a total double date. We started with dinner at the Greenhouse Tavern and I cannot say enough good things about this restaurant. Oh wait - I have to mention that about 5 seconds into this double date, I tripped on my pointy shoes and long pants and fell flat on my face. I am seriously bruised, ego and all. Anyways, we got there early, around 5:30 or so and it was already filling up, so we were sat in the basement. The basement is similar decor to the bar at Bar Cento, but I kept thinking it reminded me of something else.... I realized that something was the hatch from Lost! which sounds weird, but it really really works. Unfortunately my dinner-mates do not watch Lost, so if you do and if you go to this restaurant, please let me know if you feel the same.

The kitchen is in the basement and is very open, so we got to watch Chef Sawyer calling our food order, so cool. The reason I am such a huge fan of Bar Cento (Chef Sawyer's previous project) is that you can get a great meal, drinks included, in an amazing atmosphere for a ridiculously low price. Well Greenhouse is the same way. We got drinks, apps, entrees, and dessert for under $20 a person on E. 4th Street - it is just unheard of.

And the food... Oh my gosh we were raving. We started with breakfast radishes with butter and salt. This might sound strange, but Ruby and I both purchased radishes on Sat to recreate this simple and delicious starter. We also started with the red wine braised olives which are served warm and are making my mouth water just thinking about them. For dinner, CC and Red both got the burger (typical dudes) which comes with the fries very similar to Bar Cento's (aka awesome and infused with rosemary). Ruby and I both got the chevre salad whose combination of mint and cilantro made this the freshest tasting salad. And for my favorite course, dessert, the boys both got the chocolate pot de creme and Ruby and I split the apple tart. I am not doing this meal justice, please go check out this restaurant for yourself, and let me know when you go because I would love to join you. Did I mention it is certified green?

After dinner we headed to the State Theater to see my favorite musician, Ray LaMontagne. He is so amazing live. He doesn't say much on stage (literally all he says is hello, introduces the band, and thank you), but his voice is unbelievable. Such a perfect evening (minus the face plant).

Saturday morning, we headed over to the Westside Market. I mentioned the radishes already, but I also got a flank steak to make this recipe and a bunch of grapes that I want to pickle like Smitten Kitchen. Sat evening, Skids and Verno came down to hang and go bowling at Corner Alley. We made individual pita pitas with chicken sausage, banana peppers, and basil.

Sunday, CC and I went to Siam Cafe on the near eastside. They offer a chinese, vietnamese, and thai menu. CC went chinese with General Tso's chicken (snooze), and I went vietnamese with a hot and sour soup to start and beef vermicelli. I also tried the ginger tea which was like drinking warm Vernors, in a good way. Overall, I was very pleased and I think CC was unimpressed, but he wasn't really feeling adventurous anyways. The restaurant was filled with families and birthday parties, which is the perfect Sunday afternoon kinda place.

Blog News: I have decided I want to start writing a weekly segment in my blog called "What I'm Eating this Week". I tend to get really into one food for about a week or so, eat a ton of it, get sick of it and then move on to something else. Two weeks ago it was the Elvis Chill smoothie from Liquid Planet (banana peanut butter and honey heaven), last week it was no sugar added fudgsicles (only 40 calories each!), and this week it is.... cottage cheese or vanilla yogurt (I alternate) with blackberries or blueberries (superfoods). It is my new favorite way to start the day!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

It's Always Sunny In...

I recently received my first perk of blog writing. Now - writing the blog and having people actually read it is perk enough for me, but I mean that I received my first opportunity via blog. After my post on using the Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cheesecake recipe for H's b-day cake, TKTC offered me the opportunity to do a product review on Philadelphia's new flavored spreads. From what I can gather from her blog, TKTC has the world's most rockin' job for anyone that is interested in writing about food and she works on the PR campaign for Kraft. So she overnighted me a lovely package of with Philadelphia's Tomato Basil and Spinach and Artichoke Cream Cheese spreads, two boxes of crackers, and a cheese spreader and all I had to do in return was write about eating it! Seriously, not a fair trade on her part. Especially because as I have mentioned before, trying new products is one of my greatest joys in life (behind eating of course).

Needless to say, last week I ate cheese and crackers for dinner every night and I did not share. The tomato basil spread on its own tastes a little too much like pizza flavor to me. But I think it would be perfect for making a little cracker hors d'oeuvres with a piece of chorizo or an olive. Oh but the spinach and artichoke... yum yum yum. This one I could eat plain out of the tub - it is so good. I didn't have time to think of any other ways you could use it because it was just so good I couldn't stop myself from eating the whole container. I would defintiely use this to entertain with. I'm not sure if these are sold in stores yet or not, I haven't seen them, but I also have only looked at one very shady grocery store I visited over the weekend.

Why would I visit a shady grocery store you ask? I have this habit of stopping at the grocery store in nearest proximity to whatever random place I happen to be. I think I have shopped in the majority of grocery stores in the greater Cleveland area. I find that most people go to the same one or two grocery stores for the most part, but I am seriously all over the place. This weekend I was over on W. 117th and just needed some butter so I could make some banana muffins for Easter brunch (recipe below - turned out very nicely) so I stopped at this shady establishment that I cannot remember the name of.

Anyways, after a week of eating cream cheese for dinner and eating only sugar on Easter, I have put myself on yet another diet. This blog is gonna be taken over by healthy recipes!

Banana Muffins
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (I omitted cuz I don't like nuts in baked goods)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and lightly butter 2 muffin tins.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together like you mean it, for a good 3 minutes. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill them about halfway. Give them a rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
Bake until a toothpick stuck in the muffins comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before turning the muffins out. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fish for Friday

As I read through my last post I realized I wasn't very specific on some things. To clarify, the movie Tyson is about Mike Tyson - not sure if you could infer that or not. And I wore a flower in my hair which is why we are into headgear for dance parties. I need to re-read before I post, sorry! Anyways...

My little monster friend had us girls over for dinner a long time ago and made a very delicious* coconut crusted tilapia. I made it once shortly after this dinner and it did not turn out anywhere near as good as hers, but tilapia was on sale last week so I took another shot at it. And hot dog! (that is for you G-Bone) it turned out awesome! So I made it again this week and it is still awesome and very quick and easy. All you have to do is marinate the tilapia filet in coconut milk, then dredge it in panko breadcrumbs with a bit of S&P and shredded coconut and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. The coconut comes out lightly toasted and the fish is flaky and delicious*. And it is so sweet you don't need dessert! (yea right)

A quick note on current commercials: Have you seen that Lincoln MKX commercial with that 80's song 'Major Tom' covered by Shiny Toy Guns? I want to download that song, please let me know if you find it. I also love that t-mobile commercial with the Little Miss Sunshine lookin girl who says, "she thinks your super delicious*" and that Visa commercial where everyone is singing "Super Freak".

Is anyone attending the Rock Hall Induction stuff in Cleveland this weekend? Do you think we will see Eminem out and about?

* I re-read my post and I used the word delicious 3 times - I need a thesaurus.