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First Week and Lots of Meal Planning

8 Jan

As I said last post, I want to find new ingredients to cook with — trying to keep things healthy and fresh!

Through all of my dieting and all of my ups and downs in weight loss, I’ve learned one thing pretty well about myself. If my tastebuds are bored, I’m just not going to stick with it. Indian food or Mexican food or just my grandma’s pasta will tempt me with its deliciousness. I used to wish I could be one of those people who just shovels down food, knowing that it is merely fuel for the body. I’m not one of those people (which is fine! Everyone is different) — I adore good food, I love to cook it, eat it, and I’m pretty sure it’s my love language. If you are someone I love, chances are I’ve cooked for you at least once.

So, in some ways it’s been somewhat liberating to just flip through old Cooking Light magazines or food I’ve pinned and instead of thinking “oh, that has flour so I cannot eat that” or “ughhh, how many Weight Watchers points is that?,” I get to just see how many calories it is and decide to make it. So simple!

One new ingredient I cooked with tonight is wonton wrappers, as part of a deconstructed wonton soup recipe. It was a huge hit, even for a not-super-into-wontons lover like my husband. Recipe is forthcoming, as I have a few more tweaks to make it perfect.

When I’m doing this thing, I know I’m doing a good job because my meal planning is on point and I’m looking forward to cooking some bad ass tasty dishes.

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This is from a few weeks ago, and my grocery store image isn’t great, but I love to really accomplish a great menu for the week (critical since Chris and I tend to eat leftovers for lunch), and I feel less stressed about dinner when I plan ahead.

Plus, the geeky foodie in me loves to spend Saturday night looking up yummy recipes for Sunday’s grocery trip.

My weigh in is on Wednesday, and I’ve done pretty well so far this week with my eating, with the exception of my grandma’s 80th birthday party (it’s progress not perfection), but even there, I didn’t eat til I was stuffed, which is a good thing.

I haven’t been feeling defeated recently, which is awesome. I know I’ve ate healthy, worked out and lost weight before, and I can feel it — I definitely will do it again. I’m planning on enjoying this journey, hopefully with more dinners like tonight’s delicious meal:

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I might pretend I am on The Biggest Loser on Wednesday — intense weigh ins going on this season ohmygoshhh.

Trying Something New

3 Jan

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(from pinterest… how I feel about New Year’s Resolutions right now.)

So, I’ve done something rather radical. I quit.

Yep, I quit Weight Watchers, after being a card-carrying online member since August 2011. I’ve seen great success on Weight Watchers. I’ve also felt unmotivated, uninspired, and just generally, underwhelmed with it recently. And by recently, I suppose I mean since the summer when I started trying different things — no white stuff included. I don’t track as much as I should anymore, and I haven’t been finding their recipes to be that exciting.

I really loved Weight Watchers originally, and it helped me lose a lot of weight. And who knows, maybe I’ll go back one day? For now though, I’ve decided to go back to counting calories. I am working with My Fitness Pal — I got the app on my iphone, and so far, it’s okay. I don’t really like their recipe builder, so I might switch to another calorie counting app.

I feel sort of free at this point. And a little uncomfortable. I guess it will take me a while to get over “how many points is this worth?!??” mentality. Hopefully this will be a good jump start for me this year.

(In my honest opinion– there is nothing wrong with Weight Watchers! I really loved the program at first, I just wanted something new. I still highly recommend it to anyone who wants to lose weight.)

My husband and I are trying to save money… I had the thought that trying to cook more frequently, no matter how tired I am, might help us save some money. We spend a TON of money on both groceries and eating out. It’s insane. Today I made a stir fry with baby bok choy — first time cooking baby bok choy, and it was delicious! I’m excited to find new healthy ingredients to cook with:)

Some things on my radar:
*cooking with quinoa or other whole grains
*making more vegetables
*making my own cheese (possibly a ricotta?)

Quick Dinner Ideas (and Cobb success!)

4 Dec

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I’ve been so busy recently, and outside of trying to fanatically plan my meals for the week and making something hearty on Sunday to last for a good part of the week, I’ve been trying to develop an arsenal of quick meals.

While hopped up on Benedryl last night after an unfortunate incident with an eggplant, I made an easy cobb salad. Now, the husband was categorically opposed to salad-as-dinner before last night. Another quick meal is fajitas, which I make pretty frequently as a two in one meal, meaning he gets fajitas and I get a salad — chicken sausage, quickly sauteed bell peppers and red onions, some shredded cheese, some romaine lettuce, some black beans, a little sour cream/greek yogurt… voila! He can make tacos, I can make a salad, and we are both content (plus it usually makes 4 servings with one package of chicken sausage). So, while I am fully a fan of salad for dinner, he believed that he would be hungry.

Not so, with this quick, easy and SUPER FILLING Cobb salad.

What you’ll need:
rotisserie chicken
1 avocado
cherry tomatoes
1 can pitted black olives
1 English cucumber
1 head of romaine lettuce
2 hardboiled eggs
blue cheese crumbles (mine had dried cranberries in them – yum!)
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 lime

1. Peel all chicken from the skin and put in a bowl. I usually get between 2-3 cups of chicken out of one rotisserie chicken (tip: get the kosher chicken; not sure why, but it always tastes better). There will be leftover chicken, you only need maybe 1/4-1/2 cup of chicken per serving.
2. Rinse the tomatoes and rinse/drain the olives.
3. Chop: the cucumber, the avocado, the cherry tomatoes, the lettuce, the hardboiled eggs. Put them into their own little containers if you have a picky husband. (Chris dislikes olives and uncooked tomatoes, and is indifferent towards any avocado). Put the juice of half a lime over the avocado to prevent from browning.
4. Assemble! I put the romaine down first, and then make little segments with everything, as seen in the photo.

Husband’s verdict? He liked it and definitely said he would eat it again!

Love a good, quick meal that is so easy a girl hopped up on Benedryl can make it ūüôā

Besides fajitas, I like to make a quick stirfry, breakfast for dinner (with chicken sausage and eggs), burgers or quick gyros. Any other ideas?

How to Cook While Juggling

17 Nov

After I came back from our honeymoon, I started studying almost immediately. I am trying to get into grad school, so I started taking prep classes for the GMAT and working on my applications to school. Pairing that with a crazy work schedule, my husband having to work several weekends, and trying to get enough sleep every night, I have been neglecting not only my little blog but also my kitchen.

The first week of classes and studying, I was totally overwhelmed. We ate out most nights and I totally was transported back to college where I had the munchies and just ate whatever. Obviously I’ve gained a few pounds since my honeymoon, and it became quite clear to me that the goal this month should be to not gain any weight (and to be honest, that’s usually my goal around the holidays).

By my second week, I had some new ideas about what to do to eat well and not get carry out every night. We have been doing lunchmeat for some lunches (usually I cook enough that we have leftovers for lunch and I make something new for dinner) and eating leftovers for dinner. I’ve been making quick meals — chicken sausage fajitas, gyros, roasting some veggies while studying for a bit — and I started buying yogurt with fruit already in it to save me time in the morning.

(If anyone else has any time saving suggestions, I’d be happy to see them!)

One thing that has helped me immensely is my slow cooker. And with that, I give you my slow cooker cassoulet (inspired by a Cooking Light recipe).

*warning: this doesn’t taste like cassoulet whatsoever; picture a hearty and flavorful chicken stew and that’s what this realllllly tastes like

Serves: 6
10 WW points plus (but super filling!)

Ingredients:
2 parsnips, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2 carrots, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1.1 lb of chicken or turkey sausage, mild flavoring, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 15 oz cans of Great Northern beans, rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste

For breadcrumbs:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 oz Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a pot or pan (I used my trusty Dutch oven) and throw in parsnips, onion, garlic and carrots. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Take cut sausage and put into pot, cooking until browned (a few more minutes). Put into slow cooker.
3. Add thyme, bay leaf, canned tomatoes and beans into slow cooker. Add salt and pepper to taste and combine everything.
4. Cook on low for 8 hours.
5. Melt butter in microwave and add cheese and breadcrumbs. Stir until combined.

Serve 1/6 of stew and top with 1/6 of breadcrumbs. Enjoy!

And some pictures:

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Cooking in my Creuset pot.

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Getting cozy in the crock pot.

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Deliciousness!

Food Culture in Italy/Paris

23 Oct

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(In Paris, outside the Louvre)

Obviously, as a self-proclaimed foodie, I was looking forward to trying all sorts of dishes during our honeymoon in Italy and Paris.  After months of dieting, I was ready to let loose and let my food-obsessed flag fly high.  And to be honest with you, in Italy especially, it seemed like everyone we met wanted to talk about food, eat food or make food.  What a wonderful country!

Our itinerary included: Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome and Paris.  We spent the most time in Florence, and we were in Europe for a total of two weeks.  Each city had some high notes and low notes in terms of food, and we loved being tourists in every city.

 

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(In Venice… the canals here are breathtaking)

Since 10 out of our 14 days were spent in Italy, I felt like we really got to participate in Italian love of food.¬† There is a whole romance about it. Everywhere you go — at any time of day — Italians were smoking (everyone smokes there!), sharing a glass of wine, and eating something delicious. Beautiful cafes and wine bars lined every block — none of them chain restaurants — and even the humblest of cafes still had amazing food. I could seriously relate to those food sensibilities; my Italian-Hungarian family very much shares those ideas. Food should be lingered over, savored, never rushed and always delicious.

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(from a small cafe in Florence)

Everything was delicious there, almost decadent.¬† Everything was also portion controlled (Chris and I joked that we couldn’t find a decent cup of coffee anywhere — the cappacinos, although delicious, were miniscule).¬† No super-sized fries. It seemed like almost every restaurant had extreme pride in their food (the only exception we found was in Rome; however, although we couldn’t find a good restaurant there — except for this random amazing Indian restaurant — that doesn’t mean that there aren’t good restaurants, we just could not find any!).

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(Croque madame sandwich in a Parisian cafe/bar)

There is a real celebration of local cuisine and fresh ingredients. We had the best pesto in Cinque Terre smothering a bed of freshly-made gnocchi and an amazing carpaccio in Venice surpassing anything I’ve ever had before.¬† There was this life-changing burrata in Florence (check out La Giostra if you’re headed to Florence any time soon!) served with honey and nuts and jams. We found pear and pecorino raviolis in multiple restaurants in Italy and fell in love with the salty-sweetness.¬† We had amazingly flaky croissants in Paris, and delicious crepes at 10pm in our quirky Marais neighborhood.¬†

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(pulled burrata — best 40 euros ever spent)

I reconsidered the obvious, but rarely utilized in the US, pairing of salad with almost everything in Paris (quiche, egg dishes, sandwiches).  I thought about how sometimes we rush through dinner, even eating it while multi-tasking (I am especially guilty of multi-tasking while eating lunch at the obvious). I thought about how gelato should be present at every meal (only slightly kidding). 

(deliciously fresh pasta with simple ingredients at a small restaurant on a square in Florence)

My goals: to savor food more every day, living in the food moment. To consider lighter sides with heavier entrees. To continue to eat locally and in season. To get back to Europe as soon as possible. To spend longer with loved ones over dinner.

My elopement, picnic and honeymoon were literally the three most magical weeks of my life. I hope to continue to travel and be romantic with my husband for all the years to come.

Easiest Salad in all the Land

24 Aug

When I get lazy (all the time) I make this salad. It’s filling, different, delicious.

I’m talking one bowl, baby. One knife, one cutting board.

Customize as you see fit:

Greek yogurt (I use one container of Fage 2%)
Tomatoes
Some red onion if desired
Cucumbers if desired
A little bit of fresh herbs (basil? Thyme? Possibilities are endless!)
A splash of white wine or balsamic vinegar
A little bit of olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

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First, cut your veggies and toss them with salt and pepper and oil and vinegar in a bowl.

Then, dump your yogurt and mix it up.

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Easiest salad ever. Never gets old. Big on flavor, little on effort… My kind of meal!

No Sugar Added Frozen Yogurt

21 Aug

Yummmm. Nothing I like more than ice cream or frozen yogurt during the summer time. But how to make it healthier? Simple! Use frozen fruit!

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Ingredients:
1/2 container of no sugar added jam (the key is in the ingredients– it should be fruit and juice!)
Some frozen berries
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Large container of Greek yogurt (my favorite is fage 2%)
Some vanilla for flavor — I use about a teaspoon
(Optional) some stevia

1. Mix your yogurt, vanilla, lemon, and stevia if using in a large bowl.
2. In a food processor, crush the frozen berries.
3. Add berries to the yogurt mixture and combine thoroughly.
4. Add it all to the ice cream maker and let it do it’s thanggg!

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Whip it reallll goodddd.

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And enjoy!!!! Here I used raspberry jam and frozen raspberries — but the possibilities are endless! Next I will try fig jam! Yum!