Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Healthy Obsessions

I'm obsessed with the new vegetarian place near my job "Herbal Flavors," don't worry folks -- I love chicken & bacon far too much to become a big V -- I'm digging their chocolate macadamia nut cookies and soup of the day.

Their menu's kind of pricey, but the food follows my "fresh is best" mantra, so it's worth it to me. Lots of veggies, interesting smoothie blends, and really, really delicious "hippy-ish" cookies. I also like the fact that they let me sample things without buying them. Who doesn't like that?

Check your hood for a local, new place. They genuinely are starving for business much like you're starving for food. Since it's not a chain, but a local place, they may cater to you in hopes that you bring in business. You can find a new, healthy favorite and lord it over your co-workers.

I also spotted a Teavana infuser there! Boss!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Healthy Obsessions Tidbit

Teavana's has a free shipping order valid until April 26th if you join their Facebook fan page, and click on the fan offer link. If you get a lb of tea, you also get 10% off. The tea is pricey, but everything now-a-days is.

Here's me healthily obsessing about Teavana.

Here's the FB page.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

DIY: Fruit Smoothie

The perfect fruit smoothie is usually a combination of 4 key ingredients: fruit, duh, a thickener, frozen items and liquid. There's also the optional items, sugar and spice, but a perfect smoothie can stand alone without those items.

Smoothies take a lot of practice, and even with practice, don't always come out right, but man are they tasty even when it's a mess.

Proper prep + key items = jamba what? jamba who?

First, wash/peel/dice your fruit. Take half of it and freeze it overnight.

Next, chill your liquid for 30 minutes up to an hour. You want the top of the liquid to freeze, but you don't want an ice cube.

Now, you take out your frozen fruit, allowing it to slightly thaw.

Break out your blender and add your liquid. Here's where you also can add your sugar and spices, if your like, and now you add your thickener and set it on the lowest speed that provides continuous motion (i.e. no need to press or pulse). If you have a blender with a feeder, add your fruit, frozen fruit, and lastly ice, gently as the blender goes. Once the last ice cubes is smashed you should have a nice, thick fruit smoothie.

Here I have spent hours.....researching......compiling.....the ultimate smoothie list:

Liquids Frozen Items Thickeners
for 16 oz, keep liquid at 6-8 oz

Ice yogurt
Liquid - Acidic
frozen yogurt
mango blueberries instant shake packets
orange strawberries (such as carnation instant
100% juice blends

Frozen - High sugar Items

Low -cal liquids
pudding mix

bananas protein shake powder
Unsweetened almond milk mangos peanut butter

crystal light Spice Accent

Trop 50 mint lemon juice
skim milk cinnamon canola oil
tea nutmeg vanilla extract
silken tofu
rum extract

chocolate syrup

lime juice


Artifical sweetners
agave nectar
fruit nectar

I really didn't spend hours, but I find it a pretty solid list. The first 3 columns are essentials (liquid, frozen item, thickeners), which I placed in bold. The last 3 are accessories (spice, accent, sugar), which I put in italics. You can add all 3 from the bottom, or one, or none at all, but either way it makes a healthy, delicious smoothie. You can even adventure with more items, such as spinach, kiwi, soda (smoothie to float), the idea is the same, although with soda you have to adjust for the carbonation.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Throw it in a bag!

Plastic zip-loc bags are a must. Again, not eco-friendly, but if you're trying to eat healthily but at work for hours, pressed for time or trying to dismantle a bomb, you may not have the time to cook a meal.

So, just throw it in a bag.

If you haven't read my entry about flavor building, shame! Read it! Basically, take the main components of a favorite high-calorie meal and transfer it to a lower-calorie dish. Then, put that dish in a bag.

I was talking with my Neg, and this idea came to me when I suggested she make her own granola. Basically, take a high protein bran-like cereal, freeze-dried or dried fruit, roasted lightly salted nuts, and a bit of spice for added flavor, and you've got portable granola. Kind of like making your own chex mix.

Salads are also easy tho throw in a bag, and you're not limited leaf based. I've bagged mixes using broccoli slaw and pasta. Rice could work as well. I also like squirting a bit of lemon (acid!!!) on my salads, fruit salads in particular. Lemon juice is an excellent alternative to salad dressing, doesn't add extra calories, adds vitamin C and keeps produce bright (retards oxidation)

Obviously, there are things you should avoid bagging: usually liquids, cut tomatoes, things that need heavy refrigeration. But, I've found that if I take a smaller bag or, tiny container, I can bag that stuff in my plastic bag. Things that need cold are often bagged with a mini-ice pack to keep them cold.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ubiquitous Must Have Item #6



Real cinnamon is very complex therefore worth the extra pennies. It's one of the spices that does sweet and savory equally well, lending it's great complexities to desserts, beverages and numerous ethnic dishes. It also has antioxidant credentials. You also don't have to be cook to enjoy it: a pinch or sprinkle on the right food and you're good to go. It's flavor ready.

I also think it smells awesome. I have a really poor sense of smell and when I smell something (pleasant), I'm elated.

Here are some random math/food equations starring cinnamon (NOT CASSIA):

cinnamon + chili powder = awesome

cinnamon + nutmeg = classic awesome

cinnamon + garlic powder + salt + pepper + sweet potato = odd, delicious awesome

cinnamon + spicy chili = yummy in the tummy

cinnamon + me = scratch this one...

cinnamon + cinnamon = kind of gross, there's a you tube video...too much cinnamon dries out the mouth

Cassia can't do the math. It's okay in basic desserts, but it lacks the notes (just like vanallin compared to real vanilla).

No fakes allowed. Cinnamon's a must must must have.