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Posts Tagged ‘food’

celebration

We’ve hit the time in the summer that is both a blessing and a curse for me.  A blessing because celebrating special events with friends and family is always fun.  A curse because these memory-making events always come with indulgent foods and drinks. Still, I feel lucky to have so much to celebrate over the course of these two weeks:

  • Italian Heritage Night at the SF Giants (Tuesday night)
  • My dad’s birthday (Wednesday night)
  • A Silpada party (last night)
  • Impromptu BBQ w/ my parents (tonight)
  • SJ Giants baseball game (tomorrow night)
  • Dinner out with a friend for my birthday (Tuesday)
  • My birthday (next Wednesday)
  • 4th of July
  • My friend’s annual 5th of July party

At each of these events, I’m going to make the best choices possible.  For example, Wednesday night at my dad’s birthday dinner, which we had at a local bocce court and restaurant, I ordered steamed clams and mussels in a white wine/tomato/garlic broth.  Healthy and very delicious, but we also had red wine. Which is fine, and wouldn’t affect my weight loss, except that I had a beer at the Giants game the night before, and I had cucumber sangria at my party last night.  See what I mean?  None of these choices alone are bad; but together they make it hard to lose weight.

Which is honestly why I didn’t weigh in on Wednesday.  I’d had an Italian sausage (no bun), beer, and a bit of kettle corn the night before at the game, and I knew it would put me up on the scale, even if it is just water weight.

Now I’m not saying that during this next week and a half I’m going to throw everything out the window and eat with wild abandon while lazing around at home inactive. That’s just not me anymore.  I’m still making good choices, I’m still eating small portions, and I’m still working out as much as ever.  But at this point in my weight loss journey, indulging a bit and working out equals maintaining my weight, not losing. 

Which I’m fine with – until July 6th.  I’ve decided that I’m perfectly happy to maintain my weight loss for the next week or so.  I’m actually really happy with the way I look and feel right now.  I’m proud of all that I’ve accomplished and enjoy seeing the person who looks back at me in the mirror.  But I still weigh more than I’d like to, so I’m not quite ready to call this my goal weight.  Not just yet.

So beginning on July 6th I’m going to get back to my weight loss mode.  I want to drop another 30 pounds, and while I know it’s going to be a lot harder to do it now that I’m at this weight, I know I can do anything I put my mind to.  Those 30 pounds aren’t going to come off in just one summer, but I can lose 1/3 – 1/2 of them if I get back to being a bit stricter with my food choices.

Which is not to say that I can’t have fun this summer, but I want to keep my ultimate goal in mind. My journey isn’t over just yet, and I’m excited to continue on with it after this brief rest stop.

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reverb13-blog-button Throughout the month of December, I’ll be participating in #reverb13: Reverb is a way to reflect on the past year and project into the next year with a prompt a day for 31 days.  December is the perfect time to reflect on 2013 and start to create intentions for 2014.

Day 15: Anchor
What kept you tethered in 2013?

This prompt was a difficult one for me to answer, because I don’t really feel like I was “tethered” in 2013.  The concept of being “anchored” can mean many things – being grounded, of course, but also being forcibly kept in place.  I don’t feel I was either of those things in 2013.

2013 was my year to soar.  It was my year to accomplish my dreams, or at least get really far with my goals.  I don’t think I’ll ever fully accomplish my dreams, because there’s always something new to aim for, otherwise, what’s the point of life?

This year will go down in my memory as the one where I was able to live out so many things that I’d only dared to wish for previously.  Each time I reached a new milestone, I felt a surge of pride, power, and thankfulness.

soar

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reverb13-blog-button Throughout the month of December, I’ll be participating in #reverb13: Reverb is a way to reflect on the past year and project into the next year with a prompt a day for 31 days.  December is the perfect time to reflect on 2013 and start to create intentions for 2014.

Day 14: Feast
What was the best meal you had in 2013?  Was it slurped standing over the kitchen counter?  Was the menu written in a language you understood?  Were you alone?  Or at a table filled with family and friends?

My best meal of 2013 was on my birthday. My parents, sister, and I went to Steamer’s Grillhouse. Since it had only been just a little over a month since my surgery, I wanted to stick to seafood because I knew I would be able to handle it well, and Steamer’s is a really fun, lively restaurant.

Because my portions are so small, I ordered an appetizer:

Ahi Tuna Tartare
Sesame Crackers with Green Onion, Julienne Red Pepper Wasabi Crème, Cilantro & Oriental Dipping Sauce

tartarAfter 6-7 weeks of following a very strict post-op diet, it was perfect timing that this meal was my first in a restaurant since surgery.  And the thing is, everyone on the plate was within my dietary guidelines.  The tuna tartare was delicious by any standard, but especially impressive because it had been so long since I’d enjoyed a meal like this. Plus it was nice to know that even after having 80% of my stomach removed in surgery, I could still enjoy a meal out with family or friends like a “normal” person.

Besides the food, the meal was special because I was celebrating my birthday with my parents and sister.  This year’s birthday wasn’t a major one in terms of age (I turned 42), but it was monumental because it signified the beginning of a whole me.  I healthier, slimmer, happier me.  The me I’d been hoping to become for so long.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget this meal.  It was incredibly delicious, but also so symbolic.

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Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!  I am loving the time change – the extra hour yesterday, the shorter days, the cooler nights – fall is a great time of year.  This weekend was a nice balance of work, errands, working out, and fun.  Saturday I had a great dinner with my parents and sister where I made a fantastic, low cal recipe that’s perfect for this time of year.  Then on Sunday a couple of girlfriends and I went to one of my favorite wineries to do some tasting and celebrating my 100 pound loss.  I can’t ask for a better weekend.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Food Matters

1. Are you familiar with GMO’s?  Is it an issue that matters to you?  Yes.  In fact, I’ve taught a unit on it in my classes.  I think it’s really important for us to eat locally and in season.

2.  List a few items that are typically on your grocery list.  Lately it’s all about the protein, so chicken, ground turkey, shrimp.  I also like to have a variety of veggies like butternut squash, mushrooms, and Brussel sprouts.

3.  What is your favorite place to shop for produce?  Lately I’ve been going to either Sprouts or Whole Foods. I do get produce at Trader Joe’s too, but usually only bagged lettuces.  I don’t find most of their other produce very good.

4. Do you eat processed foods?  Yes, but I try to eat as much whole food as I can.

5.  Do you look for the “organic” label when you shop?  I do when it comes to produce, and sometimes other items, as well.

6. What did you eat for breakfast this morning?  I made my own version of Yummy Life’s pumpkin pie oatmeal. In my version, I used splenda brown sugar and sugar free caramel Torani to cut down on calories/sugar.

7.  How many meals per week do you cook at home?  I don’t eat out much at all.  Last week I went to sushi with an old friend, but otherwise, all of my meals were ones I cooked for myself at home.

8. Do you think that foods that have been genetically engineered should be labeled? Absolutely.  People need to make informed choices.

9. What matters most to you when you’re choosing a restaurant?  The food, the reputation, and the atmosphere.

10.  What is your favorite meal to cook at home?  I’ve been making a lot of soups lately.

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions!   And also be sure to go back to Kenlie’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments!  I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM.  You never know who you’ll meet today.

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Happy Monday! Happy Tuesday!  My day got away from me yesterday, but I was really interested in the topic, so I’ve decided to write it, even if it’s a day late.  Now let’s get on with this week’s topic.

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Foodie Questions

1. Do you make grocery lists?  In the past I only made lists when I had a specific recipe that I was making, but I’m working really hard to stick to a budget, and to do that, lists help.  Plus, now that I’m  eating so much less thanks to the wls, I tend to overbuy without a list.

2.  Do you have a routine when shopping in your favorite grocery store?  I start in the produce section and move my way around the store.  This is going to sound very OCD, but I’ll just say that I organize my grocery list by the department of the store, that way I can get in and out quickly and efficiently.

3.  What is your favorite seasoning?  Anything that adds a bit of spice to my meal.  Sometimes it’s cayenne pepper, sometimes it’s Sriracha, and sometimes it’s Tabasco.

4.  What is the healthiest food in your fridge right now?  I just finished making my version of Eggface’s Breakfast Bites, and I have tons of nonfat Greek yogurt, and produce.

5.  What is the most unhealthy food in your fridge now?  Butter.  But I’ve decided that since I eat such tiny portions now, I’d much rather enjoy butter in my cooking rather than margarine.  More bang for my buck.

6. What is the most exotic produce you’ve ever had? I’m not sure how exotic it is, but it’s the first one that comes to mind: lychee.  I actually don’t like them at all, but my sister and her kids LOVE them.

7. Tell us about your favorite local restaurant. I don’t eat out very much, but one of my recent favorite places was the restaurant that my friend took me to for my birthday.  It’s called Dry Creek Grill, and they have a great menu.  It’s mostly a steakhouse, but they also have great salads, and a carpaccio to DIE for.

8.  What kind of pasta do you prefer (regular, whole wheat, etc.?) I haven’t been eating pasta at all, and it will be at least four more months before I try eating pasta again.  In which case I’m going to try fresh semolina flour pasta.  Might as well eat the good stuff, since I’ll be eating a small amount (if I can tolerate it at all).

9. If you could make one food calorie-free for an entire week, which food would you choose? This week I’d choose almonds, because I’ve been enjoying them as a snack.  They’re so good for you, but they sure are high in calories/fat. 

10.  If you had to choose would you rather give up french fries or chocolate? Chocolate.

Now it’s your turn to answer the questions! And also be sure to go back to Kenlie’s blog and leave a link to your FMM post in the comments! I really encourage you to comment on as many people’s posts as you can – I’ve met some fantastic people through FMM. You never know who you’ll meet today.

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Throughout the month of December, I’ll be participating in #reverb12: celebrating the successes of 2012, honoring the challenges of 2012, and planting the seeds for a rich and rewarding 2013. December is the perfect time to reflect on the year that has passed and start to manifest dreams for the new year.

Day 15 – What was the most extraordinary dish you sampled in 2012? What made it so magical? It needn’t be the most extravagant dish, just the one that knocked your socks off with its flavor, texture, aroma, freshness, color, significance, timing… whatever. Relive the magic and help us savor it with you here.

The best dish I created in 2012 was the evening I had my parents and sister over for a seafood feast.  I indulged on the ingredients, but it was worth every penny to experience their enjoyment of the meal.  Here’s a repost of my original one:

Originally posted on August 28, 2012, as part of a #WIAW post.
It all started when I saw this lobster salad recipe on Skinnytaste. I’ll get into the details of that meal later, it’s a good one. Ever since school started I’ve been in the mood to try new recipes. Summertime is always really laid back, and I go with the flow in terms of recipes. Now that school’s back in, I find myself craving the creative outlet that trying new recipes gives me. It’s strange, you’d think that I’d do more innovative cooking in the summer, when I have nothing but time on my hands, but I guess I like to keep it flexible, even with cooking.

First up is a delicious baked crab cake recipe from Skinnytaste. (Can you tell I love her site?) I tried the recipe out earlier in the week, because it was my first time making it, and I didn’t want to serve it to my parents and sister at Saturday’s dinner party without trying it first. I modified the recipe just slightly, and although mine don’t look half as appealing as hers, they tasted great.

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The diner party was designed around Skinnytaste’s Chilled Lobster, Sweet Corn, and Tomato Salad. There’s quite a story behind making this dish, but I’ll save the details for the actual Bella Cooks blog post. One thing I will say is that this is one time that living on the West Coast puts me at a disadvantage. Lobster is expensive here – two lobster tails were $50! But my family is worth the splurge, and the salad tasted so fresh and healthy that it was well worth it.

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I wish this photo wasn’t blurry, because the dish really looked gorgeous.

I wanted to start off the dinner with a nice accompaniment, and my sister actually suggested an avocado salad. I searched, and found this Chilled Avocado Soup on EatBoutique. This was the surprise hit of the evening. Everyone raved about it, and I agree. I’ll absolutely make this again. I don’t like cilantro, so I substituted Italian parsley, and it was simply divine. And it only took about 15 minutes to put together!

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Here’s a shot of the seafood feast. One of my FB friends said that this angle makes it look like you’re sitting with us at the table, so I thought I’d include it. My mom, who is an amazing cook in her own right, was incredibly impressed by my planning and execution, and I think she was really touched that I put in all this effort for my family.

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This month I’m participating in 30 Days of Thanks (#30DaysofThanks) by writing a blog post about 30 things I’m thankful for. To join in, go to the link above. The best part is, you don’t need to have a blog or even be on social media to take part in the project; you just need to be thankful. I can’t wait to see how my life might change by spending the 30 days in November giving thanks for things in my life — every single day.

I’m incredibly thankful that I was able to spend Thanksgiving with my family. This year my nieces were with their father, so it was “the original four” – my parents, LC, and me. Though there were few of us, we filled up the house with smiles, laughter, and our passionate personalities. I love my family, and enjoy spending as much time as I can with them.

I’m also really thankful for the bounty we had at dinner, and that this year I was able to indulge, but not go overboard. I enjoyed all of my favorites, but I also tracked everything. Moderation was the key. I loved how I felt – in control.

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This was the appetizer I made – from Martha Stewart Living (found on Pinterest) – blue cheese and walnut spread. Adding the pears was my idea. It was delicious!

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My sister made these cheese straws from puff pastry, and they were so light and flaky.

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My mom’s tables are always the best because of her attention to detail. Gorgeous!!

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We took some fantastic photos of the family, too, which I’m looking forward to printing and putting in frames this weekend.

It was a beautiful day.  A day spent with family.  A day to be grateful.

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Happy Monday, Everyone! I’ve had a fantastic weekend!  I got to see friends, spend time with family, and enjoy what life is really about.  Today it’s all about nose to the grindstone and getting lots of grading done.  Wish me luck!  Before I get into all of those papers, though, I thought I’d participate in this week’s FMM.

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If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: What’s in Your Fridge?

1. List a few common items that can always be found in your fridge.  Veggies, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese sticks, salad dressings, mustards, sauces, coffee creamer, and water (sparkling and flat).
2. What kind of milk do you drink? I don’t drink milk, and rarely keep it in the house.  I really only buy it if I’m making a recipe that calls for it.
3. Do you prefer fresh or frozen vegetables?  I never buy frozen vegetables.  Living in California, I have access to fresh vegetables year round. I eat seasonally so that I can eat fresh veggies (and fruit) throughout the year.
4. What do you currently have to drink in the fridge? Water, sparkling water.  Since I’m on Jenny Craig, and I live by myself, I have the luxury of not keeping things that I don’t need in the fridge.

5. How often do you clean out your refrigerator? I keep it clean and organized every week, but truly deep cleaning where I take out the shelves and wash the bins happens about once every month or so.

6. What’s the healthiest thing in it right now? Everything in my fridge is healthy. See #4.
7. What’s the most unhealthy thing in it right now? Nothing is unhealthy. See #4.

8. What do you wish you had in it that you don’t have now? I have everything I need for my current diet.

9. How often do you shop for groceries? I shop about once a week.

10. What’s the weirdest thing in your fridge right now? I don’t think anything I have in there is weird, although maybe some of the veggies would seem weird to some – red kale, rainbow chard, etc.

Bonus:  If you could choose one thing to put in the fridge and make it calorie-free what would it be? White wine. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve had a nice glass of chardonnay or pinot grigio, and I am looking forward to Thanksgiving for that reason.  (I’ve  decided that I’m going to go sensibly off Jenny Craig on Thanksgiving).

Now it’s your turn to share. Don’t forget to go back to Kenlie’s blog to link up in the comments!

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temescalmarketbig With summer approaching, I know that many of us will start (or continue) frequenting our local farmers markets to buy fresh, in-season produce and unique items that you can’t find anywhere else.

There are several farmers markets in my area, but once summer begins, I plan on making a weekly trip to one that I’ve never been to, which is actually really close to my house.  It’s every Friday from 10am-2pm (which is the reason I normally can’t make it there), and it’s close enough that I can ride my bike there really easily.  The cool thing is that I’ll be able to use the basket on my bike (which is detachable) to carry all of the goodies I find.  I really can’t wait to start frequenting this farmers market, because it’s one of the larger ones in my city.

I recently read an article that was originally written for the Chicago Tribune, which gave some great tips about shopping at farmers markets that I thought I’d share with you.

11 tips for shopping at a farmers market

By Monica Eng

Chicago Tribune

Posted: 05/21/2009 11:56:23 AM PDT

Outdoor farmers markets have returned at a time when interest in sustainable produce has never been stronger.

But whether you are a market newbie or a market veteran, we’ve got some tips that will help you get the most from your farmers market visit.

1. Tear out/print out a schedule of your local farmers markets and keep one copy on your fridge and one in your work bag so you can keep track of which days markets happen near your job, home or commute path.

2. Know your priorities — minimal pesticides, organic, in-state farmers — before you go so you can find the right market for you and ask the farmers the right questions. “I don’t limit myself to certified organic farmers,” said Jeremy Lycan, a veteran of Bay Area and Midwest farmers markets and chef at Niche restaurant in Geneva, Ill. “I go with sustainable farmers whom I trust and who often practice organic methods but don’t have the resources to get certified.”

3. Make a menu plan before you go based on how many nights you are going to be home to cook. “This way you know how much you need to shop and you don’t end up wasting things,” says Shelley Young, who teaches farmers market cooking classes in Chicago.

4. Bring a cloth bag that has plenty of room and can hang over your shoulder. For frozen meat or delicate greens, consider an insulated bag.

5. Be an early bird. Get to the market early if you want the best pick of the market.  “They will often run out of things later in the day,” said Rebecca Reis Miller, leader of Slow Food Orlando.

6. It ain’t cheap. “This is not a place to go for bargains necessarily,” Young said. “But I think it’s worth it for the quality and the freshness.”

7. Scope the place out. If you have time, walk the market once through before you purchase so you can get an overview of the offerings. “I usually get a snack as soon as I arrive and then walk the whole market because I don’t want to shop on an empty stomach, and I want to know exactly what’s available that week,” Lycan said.

8. Talk to the farmers. Don’t be afraid to ask the farmers or even chefs you see at the market for recipes and tips on preparation. “I get asked that all the time,” said Lycan, who tours the market in his chef jacket. “And I am happy to talk to people about what they can do with the produce.”

9. Bring cash, “especially ones and $5 bills,” Lycan said. “The farmers really appreciate that.” Although a few vendors can take credit cards, you will be limiting your options.

10. A pricey secret. Some farmers charge different prices at different farmers markets. It’s true. See if your favorite farmer at an upscale market also sells in a less fancy part of town. Chances are the prices drop there.

11. Buy local. Some markets sell non-local produce. If this is a concern, ask. “Some areas have laws about this but others don’t, so just ask if it’s grown locally,” Reis-Miller said.

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One of the things I love buying at the farmers market, besides the fresh produce, are beautiful bunches of flowers.  Remember when I used to post Fresh Flower Fridays on my life blog every Friday?  Whatever happened to that?  I’m actually not sure why I stopped posting them, except that things started getting busy once school was back in, and the last thing I wanted to do on Friday afternoon after a long week of work was to stop by the store to buy flowers.  So my “be good to myself”  tradition stopped.  I’ve decided that beginning June 12 (my last day of school!), I’m going to revive that weekly post, only I’m going to post it here, and I’m going to call it Friday Farmers Market Finds.  Look for it next week!

What are your favorite tips when shopping at the farmers market?  What are your favorite items to buy?

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Today is the first weekday of my week-long vacation, and I decided that I was going to make a delicious salad for lunch.  Last year, I ate a salad for lunch everyday, but lately I’ve been bringing leftovers, homemade wraps, and a Lean Cuisine thrown in every so often.

So since I had some time on my hands, I went to Safeway and thought I’d let inspiration strike me.  I used to buy a pre-made Mexican chicken salad from Trader Joe’s that I enjoyed, so that was what influenced today’s creation:

download-4 It was so filling, and all for only 7 points!

2 cups of romaine hearts
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup canned corn
1 cup of jicama
10 grape tomatoes
3 strips of Trader Joe’s Just Chicken strips
1/4 cup of 2% Mexican four-cheese blend shredded cheddar
2 TBSP Salsa
2 TBSP fat-free ranch dressing

This salad was so delicious!  Much better than the salad that I used to get from Trader Joe’s, and probably cheaper to make, too.  I’m definitely going to make this again, because the combination was just so fresh and satisfying.

The hardest part of the whole salad was cutting the jicama.  If someone knows an easy way to go about it, please let me know.  The skin was too tough for me vegetable peeler, so I ended up using a knife and cutting it up.  It worked fine, but just took a lot of time and effort.  This is whyI usually buy the pre-cut jicama when they have it.  (Today they didn’t).

What are your favorite salad creations?

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