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 you...it'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.