Friday, November 28, 2008

Guilt-Free Holiday Treat

I love pumpkin pie. It's absolutely one of my favorite things about fall, and all these great holiday celebrations. I did have a slice of pie earlier this week when we received a pumpkin pie as a gift from a vendor at work - woohoo! - but I was totally craving more pumpkiny goodness over the long holiday weekend.

Rather than buying a whole pie, which would've been so bad, I remembered that Scotte has a great figure-friendly pumpkin puddin' recipe from his friend The Kara, which I've sampled at previous Thanksgiving feasts. So, I checked the recipe and made my way to the store to buy almost an entire basket of ingredients I've never used before. Exciting!

Look at all the guilt-free-ness! Fat free evaporated milk, fat-free/sugar-free vanilla pudding, reduced fat nilla wafers. Yum! (Actually, the regular nilla wafers are a lot better. I could've gone for those and still been happy with this overall.)

Scotte's recipe called for pumpkin pie spice. Shocker, the store was all out on the day after Thanksgiving. A quick call to Mom assured me that I could buy allspice instead, and that seemed to work just fine along with an added sprinkle of cinnamon.

The mixture was kinda lumpy, and I don't have an immersion blender (though I want one for Christmas!) so I am just living with it. This made a HUGE batch of pumpkiny fun, and I'll be eating it all weekend. Yum!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


T was asking about whether I use snacking to help control the kinds of crazy-hunger that can lead to overeating on big meals. I try to!

Although I do think the portion control problem isn't always related to hunger -- I have very big eyes, and I've never had any problem polishing off big plate of food if it's really tasty. I've been successful before at monitoring my portions when I just plan to cook for smaller dishes -- literally, use smaller plates and bowls instead of the big ones in the cupboard. So I can easily get back to doing that.

But this is a post about snacks. Another one of my favorite things. :-)

I snack when I'm hungry. I snack when I'm bored. The worst - and what takes me down more often than not on a workday - is that I snack when I'm stressed. My snacking varies whether it's a workday - and I'm planning for either what I have at my desk or what I can buy nearby - or if I'm at home, where I'm limited to what I allow myself to keep in the house. You can guess when I'm more successful!

Good Things I Like As Snacks:
apple sauce
little fruit bit bowls
60-cal pudding cups
baby carrots with light dip

** I need to eat more of these things. I have raisins at my desk at work and when I am really hungry I do slam a box or two, which helps. Overall, as T suggested, I am better at sticking to a healthy eating plan when I incorporate regular healthy snacks into my day.

Bad Things I Really Like As Snacks:
chips, both potato and tortilla, with salsa or bean dip
cookies, any kind homemade, but the store-bought workday temptations include half moon (also called black & whites) and Teaism's salty oat variety
Starbucks pastries or Teaism's ginger scones
ice cream

** I need to cut back on these things, or work to eliminate them as much as possible. That's where the compromise snacks below come in.

Compromise Snacks -- in between good and bad:
low fat popcorn
baked Lays, etc.
unsalted nuts
100 calorie pack cookies
frozen yogurt and Weight Watchers ice cream bars (they are pretty good)

** These do satisfy cravings and fit much better into a low-cal, low-fat dieting plan. But they don't always fit the bill, which is why I do try to limit the *really* dangerous stuff - like sweets and baked goods - to outside of my home. As long as I have only healthy snacks stocked at home, then I'm setting myself up (see T!) for success and only have to really fight temptations, urges, boredom, whatevs when I'm out in the world. That's half the battle. (Yo Joe!)

New Thanksgiving Traditions

My repetoire is being expanded this Thanksgiving. In response to the diabetes diagnosis, I will be eating turkey like a mofo and eating stuffing like a mofo (10 grams of carbs per 1/2 cup dry serving!). There are two delicious additions I will be making to the fmamly Thanksgiving menu.

1. Caufilower-rutabaga mash:
You know, I actually like these vegetable mashes BETTER than mashed potatoes. They have a nice texture that isn't as gluey. They also take on flavor a lot better than potatoes. Here's what I do.

Peel the rutabaga and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks. Also, cut the cauliflower into large chunks. Dump into boiling salted water and cook until tender. In the meantime, gently simmer four cloves of garlic in olive oil for five minutes. Once the vegetables are cooked, puree in a food processor with the garlic. Add a little of the olive oil as needed and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. For extra richness, mix in 1/4 cup of sour cream or even lowfat yogurt.

2. Pumpkin spice panna cotta. I am realizing yogurt dishes do very well with sugar substitutes. The tang of the yogurt masks the weirdness of the Splenda. I use this recipe substituting the sugar with Splenda and adding a cinnamon stick and cloves while heating the cream. There's no lowfat version of this, just low carb.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Oh my gawd. I finally bought something from a bakery. It wasn't a croissant or a cookie or a loaf of bread. But a delicious bag of organic stuffing mix. I bought it form a vendor at the Sunday Farmer's market and got a hug from her when I explained how awesome it was to have stuffing.

The nutritional label said that 1/2 a cup of dry stuffing mix was only 10 grams of carbs. Half a cup doesn't sound like much but when you add all of the veggies, I added, it turns into about 2 cups of carby goodness that won't break the carb bank. The key is to choose vegetables that can take on the flavor of the chicken broth and not necessarily taste like vegetables.

Here my recipe. It makes four large servings or eight side dish servings. You can easily halve this

1 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, shredded
2 stalks of celery
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 red bell peppers, chopped (or an equivalent amount of poblanos or any other mild pepper)
Stef, you can throw all of these in the food processor and whir until coarsely chopped
2 cups of stuffing mix (I think Trader Joe's even has a cornbread stuffing that is 9 grams of carb per half cup)
1 cup of low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup of egg whites
salt and pepper to taste

In a teaspoon of olive oil saute all of the veggies until soft and translucent, about 15 to 20 minutes. You should add a touch of salt to the veggies to draw out the moisture. Add the stuffing mix and sature until teh stuffing and veggies are well incorporated. Add the chicken stock and sautee for one to two minutes until stock is absorbed. Take off the heat and add the egg whites and mix thoroughly. Dump into a greased baking dish and bake at 350 degree for 20 minutes. For an extra bit of protein throw in a chopped up chicken sausage (they are usually precooked).

A Little Plug

As you all know, one of my goals this fall has been to become more adventurous in the kitchen and work towards making more of my own healthy meals myself. It's a great way to control what kind of things you're eating (ie lower fat and sodium) and to make sure you're getting the freshest ingredients. (Side note: I still need to work on portion control. Aaargh!)

Well, one of the best decisions I've made to help me in this adventure - one which I really hemmed and hawed over for a while - was to finally get myself a cute little mini food processor. Since any decision to shell out 50 bucks or more for a new appliance is one you should consider seriously, I asked for advice before purchasing and my co-blogger and several other good bloggy friends provided great insights.

I am so glad I brought this little mini chop-chop home! (That's what I call it, cute eh?) It's a KitchenAid food processor, and I love its stylish little chrome look. The 3-cup size was perfect for me, cuz I don't cook giant meals for entertaining. And it's dishwasher-safe, my two new favorite words!

So far, I have used it to chop a lot of garlic, and to make my own garlic and cilantro vinaigrette. I plan to follow T's advice to use more carrots in my cooking, so this little baby will come in handy for that, too. I want to try making my own salsa, too. I'm still looking for great suggestions on other ways I can use this little cutie, and so far I'm very happy with my purchase!

Next up? I'm hoping to get an immersion blender so I really can make some tasty, healthy and smooth soups.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quick Check-In

Hello my blog friends,

Sorry I've been out of touch. My parents have been visiting this week and it's been a very busy time overall recently. There have been some ups and downs, lifestyle-wise, that are all pointing to me really needing to work a little harder -- and as my motivating co-blogger reminds me, better set myself up for success -- once the parental visit is over tomorrow.

The good news is I've been walking a lot (in these freezing temps) and I finally have made my inaugural visit to my new gym. I've also had some very real (and painful) reminders that stress is my number #1 enemy, and I have some ideas to start working on that, too.

The bad news, frustratingly reflected on the scale, is that whatever good I'm doing isn't resulting in any weight loss. I think that as I'm enjoying more cooking adventures and working better and better quality and diversity of food into my life, I have to be more mindful of portions and overall intake. But when the food is so good it's hard to just eat a tiny bit of it!

So I just wanted to take a moment to let you all know that I haven't disappeared, it's just that the "life" part of the "lifestyle" has kept me from having enough time to sit down at the blog. I promise I'll be back soon!

Take care,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Set Up

I’ve said this before, but I think this healthy living thing is less about self control and discipline and more about creating supportive environments. The dark side of all of this healthy living is that the root of it is fear. Fear of going into a diabetic coma. Fear of losing my eyesight. Fear of amputating a limb. For all of my rah-rahing, that’s the underbelly of this.

One of the things I am most afraid of is deviating from the routine. Since I got diagnosis, I’ve been lucky not to have to travel for work. That is coming up and it scares me to death. I am scared that any deviation from my routine of eating and exercise and the wheels fall off completely. That’s been the case all of my life. I would have three weeks of healthy living and I get injured, work gets crazy or I get sick and I just stop. Stop working out. Stop eating right. Just stop.

This is my exercise routine:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Running for 4.5 miles at a 9 minute mile pace

Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
Strength training and running up the stairs after breakfast and lunch

Tennis or do nothing

I’ve been really happy that I’ve had hiccups in these six weeks and just continued on. First I had a case of tendinitis where I couldn’t put weight on my foot. I skipped a day of running and substituted with a spinning class. I also did an extra set of weights. Two days later, I was back to running. I got the stomach flu last week and had to miss a day of running. Once I got better, I just started up again.

Tonight is my running night but I have a meeting for a board I am on. I ran this morning instead. That act was not simple. It wasn’t about forcing me to do it. It was about setting me up to do it. I didn’t decide to do it. I had to make sure I took my meds, packed my workout clothes, and get to bed early. The getting out of bed and working out is the easy part.

For me, taking the whole idea of discipline and control out of the equation has been invaluable. It’s a whole lot easier to exercise discipline and control when you’ve got the house on your side. That includes grocery shopping after you eat and going to the grocery store with a list. That includes going to restaurants where you know you’ve got options that aren’t just steamed vegetables. That includes having a measuring cup out to measure a realistic portion of cereal, crackers, and ice cream. I’ve been lucky to have the house on my side from the get go.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Per your request: Carrots

So carrots are kind of a wonder food for a diabetic. It’s a root vegetable but unlike a potato or a winter squash (ok not a root vegetable), it’s very low in carbs. My diabetes class said that carrots are so low in carb you don’t need to count them in your carb allocation. The great thing about carrots is how filling they are. A side dish of roasted baby carrots (olive oil, salt, pepper and a couple tablespoons of balsamic in a 425 degree oven), is a filling, hearty and tasty starch that really isn’t a starch.

Since the diagnosis I’ve been throw grated carrots into everything. Stef, since you have the carrots sticks, you can chop them finely or run them throw a food processor until they are the consistency of grated carrots. The “grate” thing about grated carrots is that they just blend into whatever dish you’re a cooking. For example, when I’ve made pasta with meat sauce, I’ve cut back on how much pasta I am serving myself and added ¾ a cup of shredded carrots into the sauce. On a lazy night, I will heat up a can of Trader Joe’s turkey chili with sautéed onions and ½ a cup of grated carrots. That served on top of ½ a cup of brown rice and a sprinkling of lowfat sour cream and green onions FEELS like a meal. It’s warm and filling and totally satisfying.

As you can see anything that requires a tomato-based sauce is an ideal vehicle for shredded carrots. Curries can also be a great vehicle for carrots and in a curry you don’t need to grate them. I’d brown some cut up chicken thighs (skinless of course!), set the brown chicken thighs aside. Cut the carrots into bite-sized pieces, sautee them with onions and celery (ah the blessed trinity!), add the chicken and a couple of tablespoons of Thai curry paste and then ½ cup of chicken stock and half a cup of lowfat coconut milk and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Finally grated carrots bulk up ground meat like no one’s business. Meatballs, burgers all get a boost from grated carrots. You could easily get away with using a ¼ less meat (ground turkey or chicken rocks!) and substituting with grated carrots. So I am leaving you with a recipe for Southwest turkey burgers.

Makes 4 hefty burgers

½ pound ground turkey
½ cup of grated carrots
2 scallions, chopped
2 clove of garlic, minced
1 jalepeno, finely chopped
¼ cup of egg white
2 tablespoon of bread crumbs or almond flour
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt

Throw everything into a bowl, mix with your hands and form into 4 patties. In an nonstick skillet, fry the patties in Pam on medium heat for 5 minutes each side.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Changing the pantry

With the diabetes diagnosis, what's in my pantry and fridge has changed a lot. Here's my inventory of the ins and outs.

What's out:

White flour
Flour tortillas
anything from a bakery
gatorade (you might as well just write a higher glucose level into my meter)

What's in:

Splenda (embrace the fake!)
Almond flour (awesome for low carb baking!)
carrots (great for bulking up dishes)
homemade chicken stock (flavor without carbs!)
eggs (omelets mmmmmm)
egg whites
diet soda (never thought THAT would ever happen)
yogurt (I need to get calcium in somehow but milk does ever make me feel full. Yogurt on the other hand can be a great meal with fruit)
berries (15 grams of carbs per 1 1/4 cups!)
bagged salad mix from the farmer's market
muscat or reisling vinegar

What's in that's kind of surprising

White rice (you never think that a half a cup of rice will fill you up but really it does)
Pasta (same as the rice)

I'm not gonna kid you, the eating is radically different and I've said before, I miss things. I miss the baking. The sad thing for me is changing my thinking from what tastes delicious to what will keep me full. The lucky side is that I can make things taste delicious. Nevertheless, I am surprised how much I have been able to retain in my eating habits.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I ate a croissant!

And it didn't raise my blood sugar beyond the targeted levels! There's a woo hoo moment right there. So work brought in breakfast for a staff meeting that had fruit and breakfast croissant sandwiches stuffed with eggs and ham (or eggs, bacon and cheese). I was going to hold firm and deny, deny, deny, but I did a little research and found out that the carb content of a large croissant is 31 grams with 14 grams of fat. I should eat between 45 and 60 per meal.

There's this thing about baked good for diabetics, you trade carbs for fat. If there is a low-carb baked food, most likely it's loaded with fat. For example, a Starbucks marble pound cake has 69 (!!!) grams of carbs and 21 grams of fat. On the other hand a slice of low-carb poundcake made with Splenda and almond flour has 5 grams of carbs but a whopping 50 grams of fat (usually we should have around 40 grams of fat per day). You really do pay one way or the other.

So in the end I ate half a croissant sandwich and fulfilled the rest of my carb allotment with fat free plain yogurt sweetened with splenda and a big handful of raspberries. A nice, filling breakfast. The baby steps for me are coming from starting at a completely restrictive diet when I was first diagnosed (no white flour, white rice, white food whatsoever) to adding a moderate portion of conventional starches once in a while. While I won't be eating croissants with abandon, half a breakfast croissant once a month feels pretty damn good.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fresh and Flavorful Swaps

I'm still experimenting in the kitchen, trying a new trick or two every week. Lately, I've been finding lots of ways to use cilantro. If you have to buy it by the bunch, it means you've got to be creative in finding ways to use it up! I have been putting it in my Egg Beaters omelets in the mornings, which has been fantastic.

Tonight, I decided to jazz up one of my usual recipes and try some new flavors in the mix. I've been doing a tilapia-and-tomatoes thing for a while, thanks to the advice of Scotte back when I was attempting a low-carb diet. (That lasted about 2 weeks. Not good.)

For the past few years, this recipe has evolved to include a tilapia filet cooked on the stovetop in a little olive oil and jarred minced garlic, then adding no-salt diced tomatoes in their juice and dried Italian herbs. It's always good, and have a hearty Italian taste to it, which works well when I sometimes serve it over whole wheat pasta with parmesan cheese on top.

Well, tonight I changed it up. I still cooked the tilapia in a pan, sprinkled with black pepper, but used just a spritz of no-stick canola spray instead of about 2 tbsp of olive oil. The no-salt diced tomatoes stayed the same. But, instead of the dried Italian herbs and the minced garlic from a jar, I diced up more of the fresh cilantro and chopped 2 full cloves of fresh garlic.

Look at how pretty it was in the pan!

The result was a really light, fresh, and flavorful new version of what had become a familiar dish. The cilantro and garlic worked beautifully together, and since there was no oil in this the "sauce" was just so light and crisp. I did serve it over whole wheat fusilli pasta, and the sort of sweet nutty tasty of the pasta went with the fish and the sauce so well. I only made a few little changes, but now this dish had no fat and fresher, more nutritious ingredients. YUM!

Dining Out

For us diabetics dining out can be a minefield. Cooking at home means you can measure everything and calculate the carbs and know you're safe. My problem eating out is actually that I totally overestimate everything and end up having a low blood sugar moment. That's a train to Shelbyville (Steel Magnolias reference!). For example, I went to a great restaurant near our house and ordered the lamb sliders (Mmmmm!) and I estimated the carb content of the mini buns to be around 15 g of carbs per bun. It turns out they were much less than that because my blood sugar level went down to 65 (it should go below 80) and I was all shaking and bitchy.

But dining out has been a joy when I realize there are things I CAN eat and things I can enjoy. Here's the cuisines I've been partaking as well as the ones I'm avoiding:

The Good:
The Classy High-End places - These are awesome because the portioning is usually a decent sized piece of protein (roast chicken, steak), a great vegetable, and a starch that is fairly well defined portion wise.

Chinese - There are many things on a Chinese menu that fills my tummy and are low carb. Mu Shu! Hot and Sour Soup! Things to avoid are those General Tso's type of of batter fried. But most of the menu is a cavalcade of fun for this diabetic.

Indian - Naan may not be your friend but the basmati rice is easy to portion out and the curries and tandooris can be eaten to your heart's content.

The many organic diners in the Bay Area - tasty omelets and salads along with toast is killer(in the good way)! I'm blessed to be fairly indifferent about french fries so the salad substitution is great.

In and Out - a double double has 30 grams of carbs. I can have 45-60 per meal. If I do take out and make myself a salad I am SOOOOOOO set.

The Not So Good:
Vietnamese - sugar is a pretty integral part of of the sauces and marinades so I have been hesitant to try. I have made a splenda nuoc cham at home and that is some tasty eating.

Thai - Do you know what the carb content is for 1/2 a cup of pad thai? 98 grams. At most you should have 60 grams per meal. What the hell? Are they dousing it in sugar and deep frying? A Kripsy Kreme donut is less than that!

Mexican - Beans have carbs. Rice has carbs. Tortillas have carbs. Avocados are teeming with fat.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Kicking some diabetes ass

So I got my blood tested today. Less to check the progress and more to check whether I need to adjust some medication that regulates my blood pressure and the protein in my blood (called an ACE inhibitor). I guess since they were drawing blood, the lab decided to run a whole bunch of tests including my lipid panel (fats and cholesterol in my blood) and my fasting blood sugar.

As it turns about everything went down, except for my HDL (the good cholesterol) which stayed the same. But the overall cholesterol level went down 100 points, the triglycerides went from six times the normal level to normal range, and the fasting blood sugar went down 150 points. WOO!!!!!

Yes, you can get your body chemistry under control by writing down everything you eat, exercising like a mofo, and regulating your carb intake. The upside is that I've made sure to eat regularly and not get hungry. Getting hungry is the worst thing to do because your liver thinks you're starving and dumps glucose into your blood. I've been lucky to have a regular enough job to eat snacks and do brief spurts of exercise to keep my blood sugar down.

Speaking of staying full, the meal I had tonight has been a mainstay of my post-diabetes cooking.

Seared ahi tuna with salad

1 1-inch ahi tuna steak (about 3/4 of a pound. This will be expensive but worth every penny)
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (optional)
3 cups of salad greens
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
a mustard-muscat vinegar vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons muscat or riesling vinegar (Trader Joe's has a good orange muscat vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat a nonstick pan or cast iron skillet to smoking hot. Brush one side of the tuna steak with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sesame seeds. Place oil side down on the smoking hot skillet and let it sear for two minutes. Brush the non-oiled side down and repeat the sprinkling. Flip over and let sear on the other side for one and a half minutes. Take off the grill and put on a plate and cover with foil to the the tuna steak rest. While the tuna is resting, assemble the salad. WIth a sharp knife slice the tuna into 1/4 inch slices on the bias (agaisnt the grain of the meat). Artfully place on top of the salad. Eat with abandon and remember to eat a few slices of bread for carbs.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Quench That Thirst

Here's something pretty simple that could be a major positive change for me. I need to drink more water.

Reasons why I should drink more water:
- It's good for you, period, and everyone should drink 8+ glasses a day.
- My blood pressure medication is dehydrating, and the warning labels say to make sure you're getting enough water.
- Drinking water helps fill you up and you tend to eat less.
- I have IBS (mmmm, yeah, fun) and keeping yourself hydrated is a very key strategy for keeping things normal and comfortable
- Water is good for your skin and helps get rid of all the oogy toxins and stuff we don't want anyway

I do drink a lot of fluids during the day, but they're not all good for me or helpful in my constant monitoring (but inconsistent addressing) of my health issues.

On a normal weekday, here's what I consume:

- a 10ish oz glass of orange juice with breakfast, if I've bought groceries recently. Orange juice is high in sugar and calories, but I drink it anyway (and love it) on doctor's orders. Why? Because OJ is also high in potassium, and my blood pressure medicine has the negative side effect of leeching potassium. So I need to make sure I get it in my diet, from multi-vitamins, OJ, and bananas. I always buy the OJ-with-calcium, too. If I haven't bought groceries, I drink Crystal Light with breakfast. So that's good and counts toward the water total.

- About 4 out of 5 days, I stop at Starbucks on the way to work and get a grande skim chai latte. Lots of caffeinated sugary goodness! But, pretty much the benefit of the nonfat milk is negated by the black tea, cuz from what I've read black tea "bonds with" (or something) the dairy molecules and it just flushes from your system. And caffeine dehydrates. And there's a lot of sugar and calories in my favorite drink. I should cut back...

- During the work day, I *may* drink about one 20 oz bottle (refilled from the office cooler) of water. It's not enough, and I should make myself drink more. I do love cold water, I just like other things better.

- If I did not stop at Starbucks in the morning, I'll need a caffeine fix in the afternoon. So that's when I often make a run for a Coke Zero, preferably Cherry. I almost never do both chai and a Coke on the same day, cuz the caffeine would do me in. But I usually have either one or the other every week day, and for many reasons I need to tone down my caffeine intake. I should be drinking water every afternoon, not soda.

- At night, I probably have another 2-3 glasses of Crystal Light or, if I have the fridge stocked, a can of diet lemon-lime soda. I don't drink a lot in the evenings, cuz I don't want to be up every hour all night long...

So, there's definite room for improvement here. I'll stick with the juice, try to cut back on my purchased caffeine treats, and drink more water overall. There are just so many reasons to do it, and none not to.

The Downside

Sometimes I want to say suck it to this healthy living and make a nice batch of cookies with sugar and white flour. I could make a nice batch of cookies with Splenda and almond flour. While each cookie would have a carb content of 3 grams as opposed to 15, they would probably have a meal's worth of fat. That's the tradeoff I have to live with when it comes to sweets - low carb, high fat or high carb, moderately fatty. I've opted for the former because my nutritionist told me I was probably burning more calories than I took in so it's not like the fat, protein or carb calories were staying in my body anyway.

The downside of all of this has been baking. I've been avoiding watching cooking shows and reading cooking magazines because my GAWD does baking come up a lot. That is a void in my life because I really don't want to have a ton of baked goods I can only eat a half ounce-serving of. I'd much rather make a batch of sugar free jello (which has neither carbs nor fat!) and fulfill my sweet tooth that way. That doesn't fill the void of being able to bake. Throwing stuff in the stand mixers and have a nice big batch of cookies, muffins, or cake. or pies! Giving up the killer pie crust recipe! It's sad that's for sure.

It's nice being on track, keeping my blood sugar down and generally being physically fit but there are days, especially now when the weather is chilly, I'd like to whip up a dessert and not worry about portions.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Beyond Mortification

Okay, this is as tangible a sign as I've ever gotten that I need to change my lifestyle.

This morning, I broke my office chair. Good Lord.

Now, it's true that I kinda twisted and fell into it -- I didn't sit down normally, and I fell at an angle that was different than normally sitting. But still, I snapped the edge of a hard plastic chair.

That's doing wonders for my self-esteem right now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

MLK Jr. - Good for Civil Rights and Healthy Living

In the wake of the passage of California's Prop 8 I had to post this (which are good words of encouragement for those of us changing our lives in any way):

"I must confess, my friends, the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will still be rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. We may again with tear-drenched eyes have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil-rights worker whose life will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Getting In Touch with My Inner Bugs

I've been cooking again! Lately that's my weekend hobby, which works well in this economic slowdown, I guess. Anyway... today's cooking experiment was a long time coming.

This summer, a group of us girls celebrated Brunette's bachelorette party in a most unusual - and awesome - way. Rather than the typical Adams Morgan bar crawl (which, let's face it, we're all way to old to do) we took a cooking class! For about 3 hours on a Saturday night, we hung out in the kitchen of Figs, a great little Mediterranean cafe right here in DC. We were taught how to make a full dinner, with I think 5 or 6 different dishes. My absolute favorite recipe of the evening was the carrot salad, immortalized in the pic on the right amongst its other salady friends from that night.

And, even though my gal pals would probably say I'm the *last* person they'd expect to try to recreate any of our dishes from that night... that's exactly what I just did! AS was good about writing down and sharing all the recipes, so I used her notes as a basis for my carrot salad but tweaked it a little bit (to reduce the salt and, um, cuz I forgot one ingredient but I don't think it matters much.)

So, here we go...

I started with a bunch of carrots fresh from the farmers' market. It's been a *long* time since I've peeled and diced carrots, since I've become one of those people who rely on those bags of baby carrots. I don't know if this bunch I bought would qualify as heirloom, and I can't remember how they were labeled, but it was still great to see carrots that didn't look like mass-produced clones.

All clean and ready.

I loved the color variations, they were really were so pretty. From this point, I attempted blanching for the first time in my life. I don't know if it is an exact science --- what I did seemed to work. I boiled them for about 5 minutes, then drained them and dropped them into a pan of cold water for a few minutes. Later, I chilled the whole thing before eating. They were soft yet still structurally intact, not mushy.

While the carrots had their bath, I made the vinaigrette.

Another first -- I've never used fresh cilantro before! I opted out of using salt as stated in the original recipe, and used black pepper instead. I forgot the cumin, but it doesn't seem to need it. I rough-chopped the cilantro, then added 3 cloves of garlic (yes, I cheated and got pre-peeled after my last rough go of it with fresh garlic), about 2 tsp of white vinegar, and about 2 tbsp of olive oil all into my baby chop-chop.

I wish this was scratch-and-sniff, cuz the smell is FANTASTIC. So much better than the picture.

Here it is! My finished carrot salad! Doesn't look that different from the original pic, eh? Guess what? It tastes pretty dang close, too! It's a teensy-bit too garlicky, but I'll keep eating anyway. This recipe is a keeper.