Thursday, December 31, 2009

I don't like my doctor

I went to the doctor today to make sure some weird pains I've been having aren't something serious, like cancer. She told me that "women on a certain age" get this sort of thing, and that if I want to minimize it I should do a couple of things, including changing my diet.

After explaining that I've lost 50+ pounds and am exercising a whole bunch, she said, "Yes, well that's very interesting, but I want you to cut out caffeine, alcohol, sugar and wheat."



Why not just meat and dairy too? This is the lady who told me not to eat anything white when I was pregnant--so she could have this time said to cut out all brown foods or something.

When I was done wanting to kick her in her doughy, 40+ inch waist (talk about the pot and the kettle), I realized this wouldn't be a terrible thing.

So for 2010, I'll work at weaning myself off caffeine, alcohol, sugar and wheat.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Menu

We're having an open house again this Christmas, and it's a buffet with all my favorite foods:

Slow-roasted pork with garlic, sage and rosemary
Roasted root veggies & fingerling potatoes (pots for my niece who can't have cream)
Bubble & Squeak
Minted Fennel & Orange Salad
Seafood Tetrazzini
Christmas Soup (I haven't figured that one out yet....)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My beautiful family

My new Igigi dress and my handsome guys!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Whiner Has Left the Building

Okay, the whining is officially over.

Don't know what was wrong with me last week. Let's chalk it up to hormones and move on, shall we?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Food Fetish

I feel stuck. I'm so close to having lost 50 pounds. I don't seem to ever have enough time during the week to exercise during the week. I crave, oh, how I crave. I crave things I never used to really care about: cheesey Hawaiian pizza, chocolate mousse, quesadillas....I'm craving a lot of melted cheese. Other things too--fried chicken. Cookies. Macaroni salad. Stupid stuff. Food I didn't seek out when I ate anything I wanted--and anything I didn't want.

And in the end, I don't give into them. Not really. Well, sometimes I do. But I've been trying to stay in control. Because being out of control, and not caring about what I did to myself, is what got me in this state to begin with.

I used to wake up and think, "What am I going to eat today?!" with excitement. I'd watch cooking shows and cook with abandon. Though even I knew to stay away from Paula Deen.

Now, I wake up and I think, "What am I going to eat today?" with trepidation. Will I stay strong? Will I stay in control? Will I make wise, nutritious choices? Sometimes I don't, but many times I do.

It's not just about eating fattening foods. It's also about controlling portions. I like BIG food. When I moved to California I was introduced to the two-pounds taqueria burritos and never did I question the enormity of them. It was Fleagirl-sized food. No need for seconds.

Am I an overeater? Yes. Am I a compulsive overeater? Yes.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Apple Salad

My parents came for a short visit last weekend. That prompted me to spend a week figuring out what to make for dinner. I knew one night we'd have Chinese food, as they live on a small island and never go out to dinner. Chinese food seems to be one of the few things my mom really misses since moving there nearly ten years ago. But for the other two nights, I didn't know what to do. I decided on my "angelic" sweet & sour pork for Sunday dinner and Apple Salad with sandwiches for Halloween night, after they arrived.

Apple Salad is a light and decadent way to celebrate Fall. The sweet and crisp honeycrisps are perfectly offset by the pungent, creamy cheese. And the glazed walnuts bring it all together.

Apple Salad
All amounts are approximate and should be adjusted to meet your taste and nutritional needs (ie., throw in more/less cheese and walnuts to make this more/less healthy)

8+ Cups Mixed salad greens--spring mix is great with this. You want the deep, dark lettuces, not the light iceberg/romaines.
1/4 to 1/2 Cup crumbled Roquefort
1/2 Cup glazed walnuts
2 Large or 3 medium Honey Crisp apples, cored and sliced thin
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Newman's own light Italian vinaigrette, just enough--the lettuce should not be dripping with dressing
Salt & pepper

Toss lettuce with salt & pepper. Toss apples with lemon juice. Combine all ingredients, then lightly toss salad with dressing. Serve immediately.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sweet & Sour Pork

Chinese food is a "red light" food for me, meaning, if I start eating it, I won't stop. Deep fried meat covered in sweet, garlicky sauce? Pork fat and meat mingling with ginger and garlic, wrapped in pasta dough and pan-fried? Who would not eat a great potsticker put in front of them? Even green beans can be deep fried and still appear to look healthy.

On a completely different note, I'm about a pound or so away from hitting forty pounds lost. I'd gotten really close 10 days ago, then gained a bit (.8 lbs). Today I got on the scale to find I've gone up even I need to get my nose back to the grindstone.

So why on earth would I make sweet & sour pork for dinner? Oh so many reasons. Because pork is a nice, sweet meat. Because I could. Because I wanted to take something really bad, and make it good. And I did.

Angelic Sweet & Sour Pork

2.5 lbs Pork Top Loin Roast, trimmed of fat
4 large red bell peppers (substitute up to one yellow or green)
1 large yellow onion
20-oz can pineapple chunks in sweetened juice
4 scallions, sliced in 1" pieces
Garlic powder
Dried ginger
Soy sauce
cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp ketchup
Red pepper flakes

Heat oven to 325; season pork with salt & pepper, cook in roasting pan, dry (no liquids, lid, etc), about 25 minutes a pound, until meat thermometer is about 143. Allow meat to rest, at which time thermometer will rise to 150-160 degrees.

While meat roasts, chop peppers and onions into large chunks. Heat pan on medium-high, add 2 tsps canola oil. When hot, add the onions. Stir fry until fragrant and still crisp. Remove (adding to roast pan is fine); add peppers to pan and stir fry, keeping crisp. Add a generous dash of garlic and ginger powders, and a liberal shake of soy sauce. Remove the peppers to the same pan as the onions. Add approximately three tablespoons of cider vinegar to pan, ketchup, sugar, and chili flakes, heat to boiling. Remove from heat, add pineapple with juices. Heat through. Add scallions.

Adjust sauce seasonings to taste, and salt onions & peppers. Toss with pineapple. Slice pork into generous slices (no wimpy thin pieces!) and serve.

Goes well with brown rice or quinoa.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Eating for life

Fall is finally here. I'm wearing a fleece jacket and am thinking the Baby needs to put on his sweater. Today I'll take him to the playground and I'll think that if I were on the East Coast, the leaves would be starting to change. Here by noon it will be in the 80s and blindingly sunny. Am I complaining? No, just procrastinating.

I need to make a meal plan for the week. One that Juiceboy can make some of the dinners, and not one where we will resport to going to Subway every night to avoid. Real food, healthy, easy to make. And I've got writer's block. Cook's block.

I look at all the recipes I've tried here over the past few years. No wonder I got to be the size I am. My eating habits were horrendous. In the past for Sunday brunch I'd have made a huge calorie-laden dish, like chilaquiles, and had two servings. Today, I had 27gm of Crunchy corn bran with 1% milk and 67 gm of strawberries. I know the weight only because I don't trust my eye in determining what an appropriate portion is.

I've lost 33.8 pounds total. I'm 28% to my goal--so I'm obviously in this for the long haul.

So--look for some changes in the future. I'm going to reorganize the blog to include the old, really successful recipes (I get hundreds of people every week just here for the into on how to make cream cheese wontons), but it's going to now focus on light, fresh, healthy foods. Organic whenever possible, and as seasonal as I can get.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Before & After

So I tried to post a weight loss simulation of me losing 28.4 pounds, but all I could get to post was my "current" look. See below.

I don't know how accurate this is. I mean, it looks somewhat like my body, if I were a Barbie doll, with fully-molded vinyl and all that.

And my goal weight image? Well, that Fleagirl just looks anorexic. What's WRONG with her? No boobs, no curves. Considering I've been nothing but curves since I was ten, I can't picture that. It's got to be wrong.

Then again, I haven't been 143 since I was in 9th grade....

Monday, September 07, 2009

Avgolemono Soup

As I mentioned in another post (Growing Up Greek), I love Greek food. However, I rarely cook it. Don't ask me why I don't. Maybe it's because this past year I haven't really been doing much cooking at all, though that's changing as I am re-training in how I look and think of food.

As I make my 100+ pound weight-loss journey--I have mentioned I'm fat, haven't I?--I'm looking for ways to satisfy my lust for food, while being healthy.

Which brings me to today's recipe. I was sitting in my backyard enjoying a good murder mystery while The Baby enjoyed an episode of Sesame Street. Juiceboy soon joined me. He pointed out some lemons that were hiding amongst the leaves of the lemon tree, and I knew what I was having for lunch. It's light, fast, and incredibly satisfying. And in this transitional time from Summer to not-warm-enough-to-swim-Summer, the fresh lemon was a terrific burst of sunshine.

Avgolemono Soup

6 Cups good Chicken Broth, low sodium preferred
1/2 Cup jasmine rice
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 C Egg Beaters/egg whites
Juice of 1-2 large lemons
1 T cold water
Salt & Pepper to taste

Bring the chicken broth to a boil; add rice. Simmer for 20 minutes. In the meantime, beat the eggs and Egg Beaters in a large bowl or 4-Cup measuring cup. Juice the lemons, straining out seeds. Add lemon juice and water to eggs, stir. After 20 minutes, check the rice for doneness, and remove from heat. Add broth & rice to egg mixture a ladle at a time. Do not bring to a boil, or even return to heat until burner is cooled down--otherwise your soup may break or curdle. This is NOT egg drop soup; it should be smooth and creamy.

Season to taste and serve immediately. I like mine very lemony, so I have sliced lemon in the bowls.

Serves four if accompanying salad or sandwich/serves two as a main dish.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Linguine & Clam Sauce, Healthy

Did I mention I'm doing WW? I am. I'm doing it. I'm breathing, eating and living it. I'm losing for life, losing for good. I swear, I will be the Weight Watchers poster woman in a year. No one will recognize me, god knows, I won't recognize me.

I'm at -24lbs, and hope to hit -26 on Wednesday. Blow negative calories my way if you're reading this.

One of my problems has always been my love, my passion, for food. Good lord, I'm sitting here typing with a can of smoked oysters propped in front of my keyboard for no good reason! I've cooked a lot of yummy things in the past, usually things that could compete with Paula Deen or Two Fat Ladies for calories, if not pizazz.

The Bug's favorite dish that I make is Linguine and Clam Sauce. So I decided to trim it down, and make it work with my WW. Here's a recipe from 2006, lightened up, but true to it's roots:

Linguine and Clam Sauce--Healthy
Measure all amounts, adjust only pepper to your taste.
Since you'll cook the sauce on low heat, go ahead and use that non-stick saucepan.

Put lots of fresh water, dosed with kosher salt, onto boil.
When it boils, add and cook 10-16oz of Whole Grain linguine.

In the meantime:

  • In a non-stick saute pan heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.

  • Add three cloves of finely chopped garlic and turn heat to medium low.
  • Sweat garlic until fragrant and supple.
  • While garlic softens, open two tins chopped clams (I like the ones in the yellow tuna-sized tins. You'll find them with the tuna in fact.) RESERVE THE LIQUID.
  • When garlic is softened, add half a teaspoon red pepper flakes. Go easy on this, you can always add more. Heat for 30 seconds.
  • Then add the clam liquid, plus one whole bottle clam juice, which is also found in the tuna section. Be sure to shake the bottle.
  • Turn heat up to medium high and bring to a boil.
  • Add about a two cups of well chopped parsley. (This is a great use for parsley.) Don't worry about the stems--just wash the parsley, shake it, and chop away. My mom uses scissors, I just use my knife.
  • Immediately turn down to medium/medium-low. Check your pasta.
  • Now, shake out 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a measuring cup and add enough cold non-fat chicken broth or water to liquify. Mix till smooth.
  • Turn the heat up again till it's simmering and add your starch mixture. But be careful! Add a bit at a time, as this will thicken your sauce faster than you can imagine. Stir like crazy as you add it.
  • Once thickened to your liking (we like it THICK), turn off the heat and add lots of freshly ground black pepper and the clams. Please don't cook the clams unless you like Linguine and Rubber Bits.
Add-ins to consider: fresh basil, finely chopped white onion, fresh clams.

Serve with a great salad.

Serves six (or a man & boy with hearty appetites and a woman on a mission with lunch left over for her husband).

When did THAT happen?

Well, shoot. I turned away and my kid turned into a pre-teen on me. He's going to junior high and collecting beer bottle caps (at parties, not beers he drinks himself, yet) and in my dreams he's asking girls to marry him. Where did time go?

And now the little one is saying things like "apple juice" and "one two three five seven eight nine" and knowing if we take the long way home when we're out walking.

I refuse to have another kid just to feel younger. The process takes too much out of me. And I'm too old. And tired.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Venti Non-Fat, No Whip, Caramel Mocha

My SBX drug of choice has been a Venti Non-Fat, No Whip, Caramel Mocha for a long time. I thought I was being pretty good. Non-fat milk. No deadly whipped cream. Just a couple of squirts of flavor....

Until I found out I was getting TEN quirts of sugared-flavor, which worked out to a whole lot of calories. At the same time, I was getting tall non-fat lattes for a co-worker. You know the kind. She's 23 and if she doesn't get to go running at least four times a week gets physically sick to her stomach. She's a size two, smart, and super sweet. Some times I want to throttle her.

Especially when she'd order her angelic latte each morning.

Well guess what? I'm wearing a coffee halo thanks to her! I started cutting back the squirts in January and by February was having the non-fat lattes. I do get grandes, simply because I like a second shot of espresso (I figure I have kids & a husband who keep me up at night and she can get 14 hours of beauty sleep if she wants to).

I really do enjoy the non-fat lattes. And that's something I NEVER imagined I'd say. In fact, I'm going to bed RIGHT NOW so I can wake up and have one in the morning!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

21+ Pounds....

Weighed in today, holding my breath, hoping our silly Wii was right when I told me my weight.


I lost 5.8 pounds this week.

For all you diet and Weight Watcher naysayers who say the big losses are in the first three weeks and that it's all water weight...well, I'm in week eleven.

What worked this week? Measuring & tracking what I ate. Planning what to eat. And a teeny bit of exercise.

We had a lot of multigrain pasta with veggies and chicken this week. But we ALSO had NY Strip Steak this week...and MAN was it delicious!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

On my way

15+ lbs gone, it's working well.

Last night I made a mango/jicama/black bean salad after seeing Daisy Martinez make it on Viva Daisy. It was the first time I prepared a jicama, and cut myself peeling it, and then didn't know how far down the "thin, fibrous layer" went that the Joy of Cooking told me to peel away.

It was okay--though next time I'll add two mangoes and cut the jicama into smaller pieces. And I'll probably add more cilantro and maybe a bit of cumin.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bathing suit time

Well, folks, I'm back in the game. This past spring I took a vacation from all the things I normally enjoy: knitting, cooking, writing. I've been reading a lot, and getting a lot of take-out, and nursing a sore knee.

But all of that's changed.

I bought a bathing suit that I swear used to be my mother's. It's black and it has a skirt, and I look like I should be 60 years old wearing it. But I wore it, and actually got into the pool with in-laws--which I've never done before. Of course, my sister in-law who is 16 years older than me and in her mid-fifties was wearing the cutest red and white polka dot bikini...and looked smoking hot.

So I'm back at Weight Watchers (but losing slowly...only 8 pounds so far). I'm walking. I'm cooking again (tonight we'll have grilled chicken, brown rice, and asian broccoli). And I'm starting a pair of socks for Juiceboy today.

The plums from the farmer's market are in the icebox and are just as William Carlos Williams says...juicy and delicious. But the nectarines and peaches are on the counter to ripen warmly in the summer sun.

I might not be ready for a cute new bathing suit this summer, but as soon as I hit a certain milestone, I'm getting myself a polka dotted one!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Spring Fling

It's springtime in California. The asparagus is tender. The fennel is sweet. The cherries are fat and juicy.

Why does Safeway import all of this from Mexico when it's in our veritable backyards?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Festival Food

Went to the Sonoma Jazz+ Festival last night to see Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. We were running late, so skipped a nice dinner in a restaurant (boohoo--Juiceboy and I never go out to dinner alone), and went straight to the festival.

The sun was setting behind the stage, and folks were milling around in the warm Sonoma evening enjoying local wine, Sweetleaf tea, espressos. We were hungry and decided to get dinner out of the way--I wasn't expecting much in the way of quality. I was wrong. For festival food, this was good!

For $15 we shared an Asian Noodle Bowl with udon noodles, chunks of chicken, fresh snow peas, etc. The amount of garlic and ginger was pleasant, and while I would have liked the noodles a little less cooked, it was good. I loved that they served it in an Asian-take out box with chopsticks...silly, I know, but it played up of what it was supposed to be. We also had mesquite-grilled beef skewers with cole slaw, red-potato salad, and a little salad of fresh julienned veggies (carrots, zuchinni, squash). The cole slaw and potato salad were obviously *not* out of a can or box or whatnot. The flavors were bright and fresh and balanced.

They had honkin huge chocolate cup cakes for $5, but I was being very, very good, and just sampled the organic chocolate instead.

Who knew that you could get a decent meal from a booth at a festival? And not a bit of fried dough to be seen!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So little time

I haven't been blogging. I've been knitting, reading, swimming, writing, bike-riding, walking, playing with my kids, watching "The Closer", and so on. I haven't been cooking much either.

I'm looking for the ultimate Greek Salad. One from my youth, that I remember having after spending a day at the Acropolis. Crisp, cold iceberg. Red, ripe tomatoes. Salty, pungent feta. Warm, soft kalamata olives. Oregano, lemon juice, olive oil. Salt. Pepper. Was it really that simple?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

100 days, 14 Changes

I've had it. That's it. I'm done. I'm fed up with being fat. Diets never seem to work (I lost 55 pounds and found it again, rather quickly).

So, I've started changing the way I look at food. And to change my habits, I'm...changing my habits, week by week. Here's what I've done so far:

Week 1: Stopped consuming sugar.
Well, cut down drastically. No more ice cream (light or not), no more Christmas candy, etc. Also, have cut my Venti Non-fat, no-whip Caramel Mocha down (360 cals, 61g of sugar) to a grande non-fat, no-whip, two-pump mocha (180 cals, 22g of sugar).

Week 2: Stopped consuming alcohol.
Okay, no alcohol the first week, but I did enjoy two glasses of red last night with Top Chef.

Week 3: No take out.
This is a big one. Lots of times when I'm coming home from work I'll swing past the Hawaiian take-out or the giant burrito place. No more. And I'm trying very hard to bring my lunch to work, as well.

I haven't decided what Week 4 will bring, but I think it might be salad with every dinner or fruit with every meal.

I haven't weighed myself. I'll do that when I start to notice a change in how my clothes are fitting. I *will* take my measurements. Okay, back to work.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Meat Pies for My Love

I don't know why I never have my camera when I make something that looks just as it should, this being one of those times.

For New Year's Day I like to make something special, especially because we normally don't do anything fancy for NY Eve (this year I managed to stay awake till midnight, but just barely). This year, Juiceboy had mentioned that I never make meat pies, or pasties, which he loves. And it's true, I don't.

I guess it's memories of horrid, little, cheap pot pies with gummy crusts and gloppy centers, and dry meat and frozen chunks still floating around in a tasteless sauce. Doesn't that sound dreadful?

I tried to envision a meat pie I'd like to eat: thick chunks of meat, potatoes, fresh and fragrant vegetables, all held together with a flavorful gravy. And on top of it, it needed to be fast, as I seem to have no time these days, even though I am on vacation (till tomorrow).

This dish was a big hit with all concerned. The Bug had two slices! Serve with salad to make up for the lack of peas or corn in this recipe.

Beef and Lamb Pie
(Makes two pies)

2 boxes Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts
1 pound quality beef cut in stew sized chunks (about 1.5-2"). Stay away from cuts like shoulder or pot roast which need to cook a long time to be tender. This won't spend long cooking.
1 pound ground lamb.
1 large yellow onion, rough chopped
2-3 large carrots, rough chopped in quarters
3 large celery ribs, rough chopped
2 pounds russet potatoes, medium-thick sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
Splash of red wine
1-2 teaspoons Lea & Perrins Worchestershire Sauce
Crushed red pepper to taste
About two cups of your favorite beef gravy (I used the kind in a jar)

Heat your oven to 400 and let the pie crusts warm to room temp. Season both meats with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Brown the lamb, reserve the meat and keep any fat in the pan. Brown beef cubes, taking care not to cook through (they'll cook in the pie and won't be overcooked and dry). Remove the beef to a bowl to rest. Pour off all but three tablespoons of fat.

Brown the onion, carrots, and celery in the same pan with the fat (if the meats were very lean add butter, not oil).

While veg are browning, cover potatoes with hot water and cook for five minutes in microwave (or on stovetop). Drain potatoes on paper towel.

When vegetables are brown and fragrant, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add a splash of red wine to deglaze the pan. Then, add the gravy. Mix well, adding the juices from the beef. Add red pepper, Lea & Perrins, and adjust seasonings to taste. Mix in ground lamb.

If beef cubes are large, cut in half. They should be about two bites large. Be sure to add the juices to the lamb/veg mix. Also, don't be alarmed that the meat is raw in the center. It will cook.

Next, unroll one pie crust and press into ungreased pie plate. I like a large one with very sloped sides. Arrange potatoes on bottom of crust, then put beef on top of potatoes. Add lamb/veg mix over top, shaking slightly to fill in holes.

Unroll second crust, and place over top. Pinch edges together, making a strong seal. I don't worry about crimping the edges--this is a rustic pie. Cut three slits in center to allow steam to realease and repeat for second pie. At this point, pies can be frozen (defrost before cooking).

Bake for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees, checking your crust periodically. If the edges brown to quickly, cover the edges with tin foil. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown.

IMPORTANT: Let your pies sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing into them, or you'll have pie disappointment.