Monday, January 24, 2011
The holidays were not good to me. I'm pretty much glad they are over, and I'm looking forward to a clean slate with the new year.
Between holiday food, holiday depression, general depression, and just plain lack of motivation, I've discovered I've gained 8 pounds since November.
What's done is done. All I can do is dust myself off, and start again. I've gone back to what's worked for me in the past. Exercise 30 minutes a day; 400 calorie meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I wasn't exercising for the past couple of months, and I was skipping breakfast. I know this is bad, but attitude really is everything. Depression is a destroyer of motivation. I just didn't care enough.
Well I'm starting to kick myself out of my funk. Things will just get worse if I don't. Fortunately, I'm not really big on sweets or desserts, so avoiding the sweet treats generally isn't a problem for me. I just need to get myself back into a routine that feels normal, and I know I'll be fine.
So this is going to be my routine.
1) 30 minute workout 6:30am every day, except maybe weekends. I do other things on the weekends, like a stroll on the beach or park.
2) Breakfast standard of yogurt, blueberries and cereal.
3) 400 calorie lunch of my choice. Lately I've been enjoying noodles and a poached egg.
4) 400 calorie dinner. Mostly protein and veggies, small portion of starch.
5) Snack on fruit/veg all day, as much as I want.
And of course, tracking my progress on Spark.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
When I say 'Ramen Noodles", what do you think of?
Did you think of this?
Ramen noodles is the 'national food' of Japan. It's healthy, and delicious.
Ramen noodles is THE fast food of Asia. If you ever visit Tokyo, you will see very busy noodle shops and stalls. On some busy streets, you might see markets where people sit down on a chair at a sushi-bar like table, put down money, then someone takes the money and puts a noodle bowl in front of them. There's no hostess to seat you, and no ordering. Just sit down, pay and eat.
So what if you want a chicken noodle bowl instead of a beef bowl? You go to a different vendor, but it's the same deal. Sit down, pay, and a bowl is handed to you.
There's no spoon! Pick up the bowl and drink it. This might seems weird for westerner because it's usually considered rude. It's acceptable in Asia. You can even slurp. (Mom doesn't need to know.) The only thing that is considered rude is not eating/drinking the entire bowl. It's probably a throwback to wartime when food was scarce, but it persists in modern Asian manners.
When I was in the Tokyo airport, I stopped at one of the noodle bars for lunch. They had plastic replicas of the food they served in a glass counter next to the register. I didn't speak any Japanese, and the cashier didn't speak any English. I just pointed at the bowl of eerily realistic replica of udon noodles with an egg in it. She nodded her head, punched it into the register and I handed her my money. In 2 minutes, I had my udon with egg noodle lunch.
If the only ramen noodle you've ever had is the one pictured above, you're really missing out. It's the broth that makes or breaks a bowl of ramen/udon noodle soup. The competition is so fierce among noodle restaurants, that their broth recipes are jealously guarded, handed down only to family members. Many of these broth recipes are generations of years old.
While I can't give you an authentic ramen noodle soup recipe, (because no one will give me a recipe either - sniff) I can say you can make way tastier noodle soups than a package of Top Ramen and the 'flavoring packet' (which is really just a ton of salt).
Here's how to make a tasty lunch with a regular package of ramen noodles. In my case, I'm starting with an udon noodle soup bowl.
1) Open up the package of noodles. Immediately throw away any 'flavoring packets' or 'soup base'. They are just full of sodium and mystery powders that sound like chemistry experiments.
2) Cut up some veggies you like. I like onions, zucchini, and carrots. I sauted them inside my saucepan.
3) Use chicken or beef broth instead of water. Once veggies are heated and slightly softened, I added 3 cups of chicken broth. Liquid mixture is brought to a full boil.
4) Once water is boiling, I crack an egg and drop it in. The egg is now poaching inside the broth mixture.
5) I poured boiling water from my tea kettle over the noodles inside the bowl. It is soaked for about 2 minutes, then water is drained.
6) After the egg is poached to desired doneness, the whole mixture is poured over the noodles in the bowl. I let it soak for about 1 minute more. I squeeze a lemon wedge over the soup - it gives it a wonderful lemon zesty 'brightness' to the soup. Just don't use too much.
7) Noodles are topped with Korean kimchee. Boiling water from the kettle makes a cup of green tea.
Here's my healthy, delicious lunch.
Yes, that really did come out of the prepackaged noodle soup bowls!
I finish it off with just a little splash of soy sauce.
This works great with a package of Top Ramen too. It doesn't have to just be for poor college students. It can be a wonderful base to a healthy asian style lunch.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Easy. Fast. Not two words that are usually combined with "lasagna".
Many of us have the stereotypical image of the Italian mother/grandmother simmering sauces and taking all day (and all the dishes in the house) to make lasagna. Most of us that made our first lasagnas remember it as a similar all-day affair.
It doesn't have to be that way. Really.
How about lasagna that took 5 minutes to prepare in a baking dish, and 1 hour to bake? Eight dishes used: bowl, baking dish, fork, and spoon; two dinner plates and two forks.
The sauce is normally what takes the longest to prepare. I made the bolognese sauce for spaghetti last night. Who doesn't end up with a ton of extra sauce after making spaghetti? Instead of day 2 or 3 of spaghetti, make lasagna!
I reserved the rest of the sauce for today's lasagna. If you don't make your own sauce, then the store bought stuff like Prego or Ragu is just fine.
Cheese mixture of cottage cheese, mozzarella, and an egg were combined in a bowl.
My short cut tip: don't cook the lasagna noodle first. Seriously. If you're baking lasagna, you do not need to cook the lasagna noodle! You end up with one less dish to wash, and the finished lasagna comes out 'al dente' rather than mushy with a pre-cooked lasagna noodle. Just make sure to use a generous portion of sauce on top of your noodles. Give it a try!
In my baking dish, I started off with a layer of sauce on the bottom, an uncooked lasagna noodle, cheese, and sauce. Repeat 2 more times. End by adding mozzarella on the top.
Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, covered with foil or lid. Then remove foil or lid and bake for another 15 minutes for a browned top. Let cool 10-15 minutes. Serve with salad and favorite house wine.
Who said lasagna is hard and time consuming? The hardest part is the growling stomach waiting to chow down!
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Sometimes I think back on my old life, and I just shake my head in disbelief. I didn't know how to cook for the longest time because I had this image in my head of cooking taking a long time and a lot of preparation.
There certainly are meals that require more time and process than others. I make them on special occasions or if I'm just feeling adventurous. But my daily life demands quick eats.
One of my favorite quick meals is rotisserie chickens you get from the grocery store. I absolutely love Costco rotisserie chickens. $5 for a 5lb cooked bird. We'll usually eat a half for a meal with steamed veggies and mashed potatoes. Then there's a whole half bird left for me to make something else with. I'll usually tear the meat off the bones, then make a wonderful chicken broth/stock with the bones.
Today with leftover chicken meat from the rotisserie chicken, I'm making a chicken chili. I just shredded the meat and put it in a crockpot with a can of tomatoes, diced onions, bell pepper, and my own southwest seasoning mixture containing cumin, coriander, ancho chili powder, garlic powder, and chipotle chili powder. I also added some red and black beans.
It's simmering in the crockpot right now, and smells so good! I'll serve it later with lime wedges, rice, and sharp cheddar cheese.
If I had only known how easy it was to make these kinds of meals back when before I started gaining weight...
Friday, October 15, 2010
Steak and ale pie is one of the British classics. It's my fiance's favorite food. Having a dish reminds him of home.
British food, like American, doesn't have a reputation for being top tier cuisine. If you said you were going out for "Fine British Dining" they would joke you were going to a French or Indian restaurant.
Celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Olivier have made a lot of progress in recent years. Even they haven't completely broken the stigma.
British and American food have reputations for being fatty, poor nutrition, and heavy calories. I bristle at the stereotype that American 'cuisine' is burgers and fries. We do actually have regional cuisine that is healthy and delicious. Similarly, my fiance bristles that every American asks him if England has good fish and chips.
Those are topics for another blog. Today, I'm breaking the diet stereotype that you can't have your favorite foods when trying to lose or maintain weight. Even ones that are traditionally thought of as high calorie beasts.
Taking the idea of steak and ale pie, I made the steak and ale in a crockpot. Super easy. Just throw everything in the pot. Stew meat, onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, beef stock, thyme and a pint of beer.
Instead of making a pie, I served it with a slice of multigrain bread.
The verdict from a British native? Delicious! Tastes just like steak and ale pie! Except with more veggies! I guess steak and ale pie doesn't usually have so much veg, so I made it healthier. It has a serving of vegetables in each bowl.
The nutrition information for each serving:
Grand total with bread and a pint of beer: 470 calories.
Steak and Ale Stew recipe: recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
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