Sunday, December 20, 2009

Get your soup on

Soup is the quintessential sick day food. But, it's also just as versatile when you're well. Broth based soup is low in calories, and can be easily filled with vegetables so that you're getting some servings of your 5-a-day with minimal effort. (Creamy soups aren't so much, but I have a few tricks I use to turn my broth based soups into creamy ones without the fat, to be revealed at another time.)

To make soup is pretty easy, I just made this today, sans raisins because I hate them. I now have a bucket of soup in my kitchen! I can eat it cold, heat it up, pair it with bread, add meat to it, strain it and use the veggies as a sandwich filling..the soup is mine!

Had to do it.

I also had soup earlier, and I was equally proud of this mash-up. Last week, I took a canned soup, Progresso light Homestyle rice & vegetable, strained it --- by straining it you aren't eating all the sodium in the liquid -- and put in the fridge. Today, I took the leftovers and added some leftover seafood sausage from Trader Joe's and shredded green cabbage, then microwaved it to piping hot. It was quick, tasty, veggie pack and low in calories. I also had leftover, homemade buttermilk whole wheat biscuits, but really the soup mash up was so good, I could have done without them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Timing's everything

I was just thinking about time management, and how I've improved. (Allow me to say, I am terrible at time management, but I've learned how to do it through trial and error.)

Meal planning and time management can actually be very good friends. A chief complaint I find that people make with healthy eating is the time, convenience will often trump price, and this slippery slope leads to poor eating choices or over reliance on processed/fast foods.

Time management to me used to be the idea of setting side a fixed time, say an hour, to do an activity and then, do another activity afterward, right? Problem was, I didn't do the activity, because I'd procrastinate. Or, I actually would do it, and then it took longer than expected. Now, I choose to think about what I need to do & what I need to finish over the course of a longer fixed time (week usually) and just pick one or two things to get me started. So, for example, if I wanted to bake something for a get together Saturday, I don't shop and bake on my late nights (Mon or Thursday), I pick up the items midweek and bake Friday, and while I'm baking, I can make quick meals like pasta dishes or salads.

So, think about your week, and sort of highlight things like family dinners, dinners out with friends, late work nights, errands & food shopping days. Once you've analyzed strengths and weaknesses, you can center in on making better decisions. If you work late, survey your work area for healthy take out choices so that when you're hungry, you have a plan. On lighter days, combine food shopping with a friend or family member and prepare meals together. Twice the work, twice the meals, but not twice the time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Thanksgiving is usually the time to pack it on. It's gluttonous glory! That being said, I actually lost weight for thanksgiving. I've been on a streak, too, with last year being the only time I maintained weight vs losing weight.

I'm the anti-thanksgivingier, da da dum!
How do I do it? I really don't know, but here's some of my food for thought.

Run around a lot. If you're occupied, the natural push or high you get from dealing with things or getting things done propels you. Once you come back from this wondrous 4-day break, it seems to me that stuff piles up because everyone was in a hurry. If you actually finish a task, project or chore, it won't be waiting for you Monday.

Eat some orange things. Seriously. Comfort food can be fattening, but I've found a lot of starchy veggies that can cut the fat -- carrots, sweet potato, pumpkins and butternut squash. They are often high in fiber, high in Vitamin A and have natural sugars that can really add a mellow sweetness to dishes. This is before of course you bake them, fry, or lard and load them up with stuff.

For lunch last week I made my first Sheppard's pie, which combined leftover turkey, fresh veggies (you could use frozen but I opted fresh) and store-bought butternut squash I had leftover. It was seriously comforting, and it totally used up all my leftover turkey.

Innit purdy? It was goooooooooooooood, too.

Be happy. Holidays usually lead to get-togethers which usually lead to some sort of distress -- it can be travel plans, store-lines, not enough time off, traffic, the family members themselves -- all very stressful in bad wats, but what about the eustress?

What is eustress?
Eustress is happy stress. (Even my spellchecker doesn't know what eustress is) I was happy for the freaky, apocalyptic weather of the week, the day off to sleep in, cyber monday deals, and just generally feeling so-so or okay with the world.

Hope your holiday was happy, and slimming.

This is also a shout to my brother. He enjoyed the day, and is slimming down as we speak. Good job, bro!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Trading Post Basics

Remember the Oregon trail?

Ahh, they days were you were supposed to be learning to type, word process or research, you were on the Oregon Trail, finding fruit with Indians (there were no Native Americans in 2-bit land) or caulking your wagon across the river and watching all your friends die of cholera and dysentery? Fun times!

Remember the very start of the game? Where you had to ration out supplies and goods? Basically, let's go back to that. This is a simple cash & calorie saving idea that EVERYONE can do, from chef to foodie.

Talk to the people that make your food. I went to the farmer's market in Jamaica last Friday, as well as the Friday before. I picked up yellow tomatoes, and some Crispin (a.k.a. Mutsus) apples to try out. I was also checking out some baby pears and local greens, but I passed on buying them.

I really dug the Crispins, so I went back. I'd spied the baby pears I from the week before and the farmer noticed this, and remembered me from that other Friday. Since I'd asked him questions and bought some goods before, he let me try the baby pears for free. He originally offered me one, but I ended up with four.

Now, before you run off to become BFFs with your local corner store guy, be mindfl that this won't happen each time. They need to sell their food to live, and stuff. However, I find that I get really good fruit when I talk to my produce guy. I have 2 regular ones I visit. They like that I actually buy stuff, that I often come back for more stuff, and that I tell people their stuff is good. In exchange, I get good, well priced seasonal fruit and monthly samples.

What's also cool about talking to the people is that you get it straight from the source. If you want something in particular, they'll be happy to tell you when they'll have it since you come back. You'll also be rationing out because you're buying what you need -- I love strawberries, but I won't buy 4-5 cartons if I can't take them home easily.

My main fruit man is on the corner of Parsons & Jamaica Avenue in Queens. I call him my little strawberry man because he once told me he only gets strawberries as sweet as him. To this day, I cannot get him to repeat that message to anyone else, because I used it once to help him with a sell. Heh.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Foodprint - Flavor Transfering Lesson One

I want to talk to you about flavor transferring.

Flavor transferring, well what I call "flavor transferring", is taking a combination of food and spices and either adapting it to a method or translating it into a dish.

It's one of the many ideas that helps me maintain my weight. I identify what I like about a food and then try to either make my own version at home, which is lower in fat because I'm controlling the ingredients, or I make a new dish out of a favorite by incorporating new flavors. (Like when I cheat on my PB&J sandwich.)

When I think about what I eat, I kind of categorize it into meals. These are the categories:

starch & meat
quick breads and cakes
veggies & fruit sides

There's no hard rule to this list. You could add tons more categories, but I feel like this encompasses pretty much all the food I eat. Thinking about the food in categories allows me to think what flavors I'd like to transfer from one dish to another.

Here's how this works: take the one category of food, such as a sandwich, and insert it into another, like a salad.

Example: Pizza. Okay, so pizza isn't technically a sandwich, but it has the basic idea of a sandwich, just stay with me..

Pizza is basically bread, cheese, tomato sauce and toppings. To "flavor transfer" pizza into a salad, take the cheese, toppings, spices and "remove" the sauce. Make yourself some whole wheat pasta, toss it with cheese and toppings. Add a good quality oil for flavor and heart healthy fat, then top it off with a pinch of Parmesan cheese for extra flavor. Real Parmesan. Not the can, I love the can, it's cute and small, but it's not the real thing!

Not only have you used the flavors of a pizza to make a "new" dish for yourself, you were hopefully smart enough to add in veggies with your favorite toppings. This flavor transfer also doubles as a pasta salad (see, it's a salad, but a pasta salad) when served cold.

Now, go forth and transfer!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Everywhere you look, there's a heart...

If you've grown up watching full house, I'd like you to close your eyes and remember the music they played whenever one of the kids learned a lesson. The really, really saccharine one.

Yeah! That ONE. Okay, ready?

Inspiration is important. What inspires you does not inspire me in the exact way. It's also important to be inspired because it's harder to deem the value of things as the world changes. Is your health important? Sure. Is money important? Of course! Are friends and family worthwhile? I ponder that last one a lot. (Kidding.) But, who tells you what or who is more important than the other when it comes to you?

I saw this last month on Rachael Ray. I think this man is super awesome. Not just awesome, but super awesome. It's proof positive that whatever you want, even the unlikeliest of the unlikely, it's always possible to achieve it.

Or, this man totally sold his soul. I haven't decided yet.

(Okay, tying this in now to the whole food thing.)

R.D. or R.D. no degree, I can't make you eat anything healthy, exercise, make good decisions or good judgments. That's up to you and inspiration. It's so easy to be demotivated, I get it. The world is a big, bad scary uninspiring thing.

But, if you find yourself uninspired, then what are you doing?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Self-Audit! It's April in November!


If you ever wanted to be a tax auditor..this isn't your chance. But it's kind of the same. If you really buy into the metaphor.

Now, how extensive you want to be is up to you. But, what I like to highlight it just writing down all the things you eat for a few days, then dissect it. Here's a small survey to help you.

  1. Did I eat something new each day?
  2. Am I getting enough fruits and veggies?
  3. Did I eat breakfast?
  4. When do I eat my biggest meal?
  5. When I am hungry?
  6. Did any special events occur?
  7. How many meals were take-out?
  8. How many were on the go?
  9. How many licks does it take to get to the center of the tootsie pop?

That last question is vital. The world may never know.

Anyhow, these are some questions I ask myself. Anytime I read or hear something new in the world of dieting and food nutrition, it's something I can tie back to one of these questions. For example, "how many meals were take-out and on the go" pertains to the article I posted about the calorie counts on menu items. Which is also related to the obesity epedimic.

You know the obesity epidemic. I'm sure you've heard of it, it's very bad.

You probably eat a lot of your meals outside your house -- coffee in the morning, Chinese for lunch, McDonald's for the kids, the new place uptown that's doing discount, etc -- you get my point.

Food is everywhere, everywhere except your house!

This may not be a bad thing, but it should be a thing you keep under wraps. The price I pay for a 12 oz bag of Starbucks coffee (and I buy it on sale -- sometimes with a coupon) will buy me maybe 3 1/2 tall REGULAR non-Starbucks coffees. My point is, obviously I get much more out of one bag I brew at home. The extra money that I can save I could shift to buying maybe the healthier, yet more expensive option at my favorite restaurant. Making better food choices doesn't always mean that you have to immediately go back to cooking at home. If you hate cooking, don't do it. But, it doesn't mean that you can't audit and budget your food calories and your food dollars.

So, try and audit yourself. Seriously, there's nothing to lose. If you fail your audit, you won't lose your job and the IRS won't take your house, so stop fretting and try it already. If your feeling extra bold, you can email me your answers to with "Food Audit" in the subject line, and I will post them and mock you. Or, I will extract bits, make some jaunty remarks and observations that are ...disclaimer coming .. no way substitute for medical advice. Happy auditing!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Foodprint - Quickies

Eating well on the go is an art form. It's a shame that there aren't any medals or awards I could earn for it. I suppose health is the reward. Sigh.

Since obesity is common, healthful options are becoming common. There was a time when I'd asked for a dish steamed, and would get a look for the server that would lead you to believe that I asked for the heart of their firstborn. In Russian.

I don't get that look quite as often. I've also stop asking for people's firstborn, coincidentally.

  • Fruit stands. These are the best option for healthful snacks, especially semi-portable ones like apples & bananas. For the less portable, toss a small Tupperware-like container in your purse to make the unportable portable. You could also invest in a fruit guard.
The banana one is very, interesting looking.
  • Coffee & Tea. Basically, drinking this unsweetened, and piping hot can sometimes stave off hunger without adding calories to your day.
When it's hot out, I ditch the coffee or tea, sometimes the iced varieties have sugar blended in, and I get a low-cal Slurpee, Italian ice, or diet green tea Snapple. Things with citrus and ice refresh & cool you off. The feeling of "refreshment", that tart puckering citrus kind, can potentially keep you from gobbling excess calories.
  • Steamed vegetables or vegetables with minimal prep. Chinese fast food places have steamers, that's often how they prepare your broccoli & brown sauce item, y'know, before they entrench it in the sauce. You can still have the sauce, just have it on the side. Other good items, broth based soup, plain baked potato, crudites & salad w/ dressing on side.
  • Usually healthy food is considered to be boring or bland, but really good food is often made from the simplest, freshest ingredients. Sometimes, that's the healthier option for you. I went to a good-bye dinner where the menu was "french" inspired. I got a Cobb salad with side dressing, thinking it would be drab. It was actually one of the more delicious items I've had in a while because the egg was fresh -- the lettuce, tomato & ham -- all fresh and chopped & lined up soooo cute. It definitely had the "eat with your eyes" factor going for it.
  • Lastly, Duane Reade. If you have to have something "junky" this is a good place to hit. Why? They sell a lot of single served items, spec K snack bars, baked lays, and my favorite Popchips. Some of the items, like big cookies, are not so great, but I find that Duane Reade also has a lot of gimmicky health foods, soy chips, 100-cal packs, that you could randomly sample for on the go snacking and could fit into a very well-balanced diet, when consumed in moderation.
I love Popchips. <3

Well, waiting are you waiting for? Go and go eat!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Spread the love

Here's a new thought for you: surface area.

Yes, I realize that's not new...

Let's begin slowly. Remember the phrase, "eat with your eyes first?" Well, you do. (I'll keep repeating that, so if you don't know, you will.) You can also play tricks on your eyes, and use optical illusions to make better eating choices.

I don't know if you heard, but I love PB. PB can be very addictive, and I shamelessly love two of the junkier PBs out there (Jif & Skippy), so it's a really sordid deal for me.

Sometimes, I like to spread the love onto another beloved food. PB + muffins= <3. But, this combo can really rack the calories in, so what did I do?

I kept eating the muffins as is for a while. What did you expect? It's really good.

Then I got hip to VitaTops. Basically, it's the same standard sized muffin -- standard normal size is 2 oz, not the monster cakes you see in the bakery, folks -- but flattened out. It's a muffin top in that the bottom and sides get crispy like a muffin and you get all the toppy goodness. If you click on the above link, they also sell muffin top pans, so if you don't like the product, make muffin tops with your favorite recipe. Back to the love, though because there's more!

I got a loved appliance involved: my microwave. If your microwave has a "melt" or "soften" function, get to know it. I use that function to melt down hard chocolate, but to also warm up & thin out high fat spreads & toppings for drizzling & spreading. The advantage is, same tasty product but using less, thus ingesting less calories. In conclusion:

Increase surface area.

Smaller portions but same size to the eye.

Major love affair. Spread it around, folks.

Also, spread this:
If you become a fan of EA on FB, you get free dipped chocolate fruit. So much love!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cent Dreams, Oh mercy, mercy meeeeee

Did you ever think you could link dollar stores with a better diet?

I really, really like a bargain. While I was teaching myself to cook, I didn't realize that I had a lot of these items already in my home and that using them could lead to healthier eating. If I didn't have the item (the whisk, for example), I could go out a buy one. Healthy eating can be very affordable, you just have to be creative with it.

These are my top ten 99 cent store items.

(This is a long post, if it helps, imagine me as Dave Letterman, but cuter and non-adulterous.)

  1. Vegetable Peeler - Self-explanatory. But, the real bargain here is "ribbons." You can take any tuber, root or oblong vegetable and cut cool patterns around them. Or, even better -- make "noodles". Veggie peelers are awesome at making zucchini ribbons, cucumber noodles, orange curls. This can not only add more veggies to your meal arsenal (spaghetti + veggie shreds), but bulk out your meals, too! More on this in posts to follow.
  2. Grater - I love my microplane, but it took me FOREVER to find it. Now that I have it, I'm actually reluctant to use it. I continue to use my hand grater. I can lay it on top of my mini food processor or a bowl, and grate & zest to my heart's content.
  3. Kitchen Shears - Long before I had my mediocre knife skills, I had my kitchen shears. I can open things, duh, but also rough chop vegetables, and other items so that they're evenly sized. It also reduces the number of knife nicks to my fingers. Yay!
  4. Paring Knife - Good for paring, and also for quickly slicing small items like grape tomatoes or strawberries.
  5. Basting Brush - Get a couple of these. You can use one traditionally, with marinades. You can use another one for egg washes. And, the last one, use together with bonus item to coat your metal pans with minimal oil, but with widespread flavor.
  6. Whisk - Great for whisking together an omelet, or meringue. Incorporating air into certain foods adds not only volume, but cool texture effects. And, the air is free!
  7. Cutting Boards - Acrylic is a must for food safety. Wooden, so you can chop all your fresh items without ruining counter tops. It's your own little workspace.
  8. Plastic bags - These make me a little sad because they aren't eco-friendly. But, they're so cheap and useful. I use them for marinating, porting food, storing food, salad in a bag and portioning out food.
  9. Measuring cups - If you bake, you want to have these. Generally you want a set w/ 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 & 1 cup measures. It's a good way to learn the (volume) of portion sizes. The more you use them, the more use you get from them. I leave a set on the counter for everyday use -- 1/2 c cereal, c of pasta, etc -- I recommend buying 2 sets.
  10. Strainer - That thing that looks like a hairnet. Or a fisherman's net. Anyhow, this is a great bargain. You use it for straining pasta, and what else? I use my strainer to dry my washed produce, and strain out excess liquid from canned goods. How about as a grease guard? The flat ones are often sold that way (splatter covers), and can be used a strainers for small amounts of food. What about as a steamer? A large, metal strainer can actually sit on top of your pot, covered, and effectively steam your food. Just make sure if your using it for cooking or with heat, get a large enough metal one that can sit nicely on top of your pots.
BONUS: Mister/Spray bottle. You can buy in this in the cleaning/plant section. Or, if you use any of those spray salad sprays, save that bottle, wash & rinse completely and load it up with your go-to oil. I keep olive oil in mine. I keep it in a dark place so the oil does not turn rancid. This came to me when I wanted to make a stir-fry, but my wok is all copper, PAM is not that woks friend, and as much as I love PAM, it does leave a residue (lecithin may be the culprit) if not washed from your cookware completely.

So, it was a top 11. I sneaked that last one in there, but you get the idea. These are items I use frequently, and while at first it seems cumbersome, it really becomes a breeze when you decide to improve your food attitude.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New! Ask me stuff!

I added a Q&A box. I have no idea how this works, but I'm guessing if you join blogger, you get to ask questions. Anyhow. Ask me stuff! Unlike in person, where I tend to mumble, you will actually understand my answer.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Foodprint - You probably think this meal is all about you, don't you?

I am really superficial with my food. What does that mean exactly?

It means that I am in love with my food, and go great lengths to eat the best food available to me.

Breaking it down even further, if I don't like the taste of it, I don't eat it. I only get so many calories a day, why should I waste it on something that's rubbery, over salted, and just plain so-so? If I'm getting fast food -- it's made to order. If it's fresh fruit and vegetables, it's peak season and rightly priced. You get the idea; you don't have to be as "selective" as I am, but don't just eat anything because it's in front of you.

My food it also really pretty. It's probably the most inane detail, but it's very important. When you watch TV ads, do you ever see an ad for mushy, overcooked food? You eat with all your senses, even your ears, why not appeal to each one? I find the easiest way to achieve this is to add color to your food. How? For starters, eat an array of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Chees-y tag line: Nature's rainbow is your natural vitamin! (Or cocktail, depending on how you roll, I guess.)

Warning: music is terrible, but overall point is good.

You can also choose to eat off of great stuff. You don't have to hire a violinist or have dinner by candlelight. Functional & cool items can also make your food pretty. This is my lunch bag:

People at work love my lunch bag. It's a, *ahem*, conversational piece. Haha. Honestly, it's so weird looking, so they often ask what it is and I end up blabbing about it. (I had this one before hand, but I destroyed it :/) My point, it's okay to be a little vain about your food. In the long run, it can be worthwhile. You'll eat better, feel better, move better, etc. You'll be better.

However, I wouldn't recommend vanity for other aspects of your life.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Series: The Foodprint - Food Attitude 101

Instead of just sputtering random tidbits, I'm going to try and organize some of my thoughts & tips. When, I'm not doing that, see previous sentence.

This first (and perhaps only) series is centered towards revamping your food attitude. I really believe that if you tackle this head on, all the other elements of good health and nutrition fall into place. It's analogous to having that relaxing breath in yoga -- a good food attitude will center you no matter what you do.

I don't know if you heard this, but stop me if you haven't: you have to eat.

Shocking, right? And, food tastes really good. So, why not enjoy eating good things? And bad things, too? You just have to learn how to weave it into life.

So, if this interests you at all, search for "foodprint" or "food attitude." And, that's that.

In the meantime, here's an article from the Washington Post about all those new calorie counts you've seen, and how you may or not be ignoring them. It's time to check your food attitude, people.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

PB&J, it's not's me

I'm kind of in love with peanut butter & jelly. It was 1 of 4 of my favorite sandwiches that I took for school lunch.

But, sadly, I've strayed from PB&J. In all sorts of ways. I'm a sandwich adulteress.

I invite you all to embrace your inner adulterer. (Just with sandwiches.) There's a bunch of lovely butters waiting for you to run off with them and eat them in secret! Or, in public! But, away from PB&J, because despite our cavalier-ness, we love it too much to just leave them.

Right now, I'm into almond butter. It's great, very pricey, but considering the nutritional powerhouse it can be, it's well worth the price. It's got the good fat - 10 or so grams of monounsaturated, about 17 grams total. It also has 4 g protein per tablespoon. I find the combo of fat, protein and fiber a real component of staying satisfied until lunch.

I get the salted, creamy version from Trader Joe's, for about 4.99. I also get it's compliment, Pumpkin butter, also available at Trader Joe's seasonally. Soooo goood on English muffins and whole wheat bread.

I've also used Nutella and strawberry jam for a sort of dessert-crepe like spin on PB&J. Very, very sweet. I'm planning on sneaking away with cashew butter next, mixing it with blueberry jam, a little CB&J action.

Dear John,

This is the initial post of my food blog. Hurrah!

Yes, a food blog, just like the many trillions of blogs out there. Perhaps, as I continue to write, I'll be able to deliver very specific, un-trillionish content. But, one thing I do know that this blog will not have is a "Required Food List." For two reasons: one, I'm an R.D. hopeful, not an actual R.D., so you should not be steadfastly taking my advice. Two, required food lists are restrictive and just plain ineffective.

With that said, welcome to the newest food blog!! Until another 2-3 minutes...then it won't be the newest, but it was a short while ago.