Sunday, August 30, 2009

Soup's On

I tried a new recipe tonight - curried carrot soup. Yes, it's a Rachael Ray recipe. Yes, it's from a Halloween episode and she made it into a "spiderweb." But I overlooked all that because I'm looking for a good carrot soup recipe.

This is one of those recipes that's dependent upon you having the right, ahem, *equipment* in the kitchen. It requires a good blender, full-sized food processor, or immersion blender. Since I'm becoming a whiz with the blender that's older than me, I fired it up.

Overall, the soup came out really well. It did take more than 30 minutes, of course, since it took longer to bring it all to boil and then orchestrating the puree process in batches takes a while (and is messy) too.

I learned a good lesson - just because you like heat, doesn't mean you need to always lean towards the upper end of the spice measurements. Wow, this had some kick! Next time, I would use less cayenne.

I did not do the "spiderweb" goofball technique, and instead just stirred in some nonfat sour cream before serving. And I skipped the salt and used lowfat butter. But then I did eat the soup with some sea salt crackers... and had to follow it up with a big glass of milk because my mouth was just slightly on fire! :-)

Overall, though, it's a good recipe that's relatively easy to make and I'll just turn down the heat a bit next time. But I've got 2 more containers of this batch waiting for me in the freezer first!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I DID Spend 15 years in DC - Health Care Reform

Has anyone been noticing the subtle (not!) fat hatred going on in the debate about health care reform? Over and over again, by both the right and the left, we hear the same message - you fatties are costing us money! Over and over again we hear how obesity is costing the country trillions of dollars. Yes folks, you fat ass and my fat ass is more costly than the fricking Iraq War. And if only we did more to shrink our fat asses our health care system would be magically fixed. You know the irony of this thinking? It's LAZY. The very thing that society accuses us fatties of. This research doesn't dig deeper to see about co-morbidity factors like lack of exercise. It doesn't look beyond what's on the scale. Because it would actually take EFFORT to look at measures of health like A1C, cholesterol, and incidence of stroke and heart disease.

Real health care reform isn't about numbers on a scale. It's about access. Because when you have access, the other stuff comes together. I spent a study abroad year in England under their "socialist" National Health Service. Because I didn't have to pay a goddamned dime to see the doctor, I went to the doctor every month. I got my teeth cleaned twice during that year and got a pair of contact lenses AND glasses. My doctor spent at least a half an hour talking to me about my health. It was EASY to stay healthy.

For real health care reform to take root, stop telling people to do more. STOP IT. Especially to us fatties. Because are you READING THIS FUCKING BLOG? Or Onyah's blog? Or Laure P's blog? We are working our asses off. We are thinking about this stuff every day. We're cooking healthier. We're getting up early to exercise. Don't tell me or anyone else that we need to work harder.

You want to spend less money on health care? Make this stuff easy. Make cooking easier. Instead of subsidizing Monsanto, why not subsidize CSA programs? Why not allow poor folks to get a box of organic produce the same why Onyah does? Why not spend a couple of million dollars (compared to the $300 million Monsanto gets) to start Farmer's Markets in Anacostia and West Oakland? Why not subsidize programs that get corner stores to replace cigarettes with fresh produce? By the way, this proposal IS BUDGET NEUTRAL. You aren't spending a dime more if you divert a teeny weeny portion of industrial agriculture subsidies to community food access programs.

Make going to the doctor cheap and easy. That means making sure we are guaranteed health insurance and it won't go away because we lose our jobs or because our jobs can't pay for them because the insurance company decided to jack up the premiums. You know what that means? The public option. Let me buy into Medicare. And make sure the insurance covers COST SAVING THINGS like gym membership and nutritionists. The thing is, these things aren't just luxuries for the young and affluent - they can be the determining factor between inexpensive prevention ($100 for a nutritionist appointment) and costly medical procedures ($100,000 surgery).

I find it hilarious that fatties are somehow the scourge of the earth and responsible for the health care crisis. As if the insurance companies don't spend $7 billion a year DENYING coverage. As if those same companies aren't spending hundreds of millions of dollars LOBBYING AGAINST the public option. That's pretty damn wasteful to me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Further Cooking Adventures

I've been getting back into the groove in the kitchen, making easy meals that I can eat for several days as I return to the nutritionist-approved homemade lunch routine during the week.

This week, I tried a very easy low-fat chicken with artichokes recipe. This really was a cinch to make, with several pantry items, and it's very tasty. I've sent the recipe on to Mom and she's going to try it, too.

Here's the finished product, which I served with some Dreamfields low-carb elbow macaroni. It would also be good with rice or just a crusty bread. I used no salt tomatoes in my dish. For those of you who like more seasoning, you might want to add some salt during the cooking process. I'm getting so used to a lower-sodium diet that this was just fine for me, and it made 3 portions I've been enjoying for a few days.

Now, I noticed a few food pics in my folder that I haven't shared yet... so here are a few dishes from the last several weeks.

This is a tilapia dish that Scotte inspired, as I cook the fish with diced tomatoes. I took this pic cuz I loved the look of my own, homegrown fresh parsley in the mix. Alas, the parsley has since fallen victim to the bug invasion on my balcony and I won't have any more to use. :-(

Another tomato dish - which I threw together as a side dish to a steak one night. I halved and roasted a whole package of grape tomatoes (cherry would work too) with just a little olive oil, more fresh parsley, and lowfat feta cheese. Deeeeeeeelicious!

And, one of my successful homemade pizzas, which are a new favorite. Sauteed spinach, lowfat Italian cheese, tomato basil sauce, and a whole wheat pizza crust. SO easy and delicious!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Frank Bruni Interview in Salon - Thoughts?

So I'm reading the Frank Bruni interview in Salon. He gave this little piece of insight to his own challenges with eating.

I think people with eating issues can't imagine the constant temptation of being a restaurant critic. You work out a fair amount. But really, what was the trick in keeping off weight?

Being a restaurant critic helped me maintain weight and not gain weight, because I think my problem is the same as that of a lot of many people whose eating gets out of control in that I really kind of rode a sort of binge-purge roller coaster, and that roller coaster was facilitated by my ability to tell myself the lie that I was going to be really bad today and tomorrow and maybe even the next day because the next week I was going to do a cleanse or a fast. As a restaurant critic, I had to keep eating at a certain pace. By never being able to tell myself with any degree of convincing honesty that I was going to be great and do an ultra-ultra-extreme deprivation next week, I never allowed myself to binge the way I had in the past, because I couldn't tell myself with any convincing honesty or authority that sort of purge was coming up on the far end of it.

I think it does affirm a piece of what we try and say here - it's about the eating and deprivation isn't a great way to approach living healthy. It's a fascinating interview and really makes me want to go out and buy his book.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blurgh. Aaargh. Ugggh.

My rough summer is reflecting itself on my scale, just a great way to start a Monday morning. Aargh. I have gained back 8 pounds since my lowest point, and I can feel it. I can feel it in how my clothes fit and how I move, and it just makes me mad... I have gotten off track, for sure, but I haven't been *that* bad. It's amazing to see just how little slips make such a big difference... or, in reverse, I guess it's amazing to see just how much I had cut out of my diet and what a difference that made.

So, because I don't want to give up and because I know I need to get my rhythm back - and that of all people, Dad was the one rooting for me the most - I have to refocus. I even bought a new little notebook so I can start a fresh food journal and don't have to have the empty pages of the old one taunt me.

I learned so much from the nutritionist, I need to keep putting it to work and I need to find my own feelings of accountability to keep me going.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Everything's Better as a Smoothie

I love smoothies. Mom's always been a big smoothie person, and we spent many a summer night in ye olde 1980's enjoying the bounty of our garden and fruit trees in smoothie form. Yum.

As I've been on my own, I have experimented with smoothies a bit but in all those years without a dishwasher I didn't do much at home and instead paid exorbitant amounts of money for super-sugary, high calorie smoothies on the run.

But, inspired again by several of Mom's concoctions this summer, I am reminded of just how tasty and easy it is to enjoy your fruit in blended form.

Over the past few months, I have used my little 3-cup mini-chop to try to make some good yogurt-and-fruit snacks, but it's always proven to be super messy. So, a few days ago, I dug way deep into the closet and pulled out Mom's awesome (and dishwasher-safe) Osterizer Cyclorama, which dates back to those pre-Stef years of the early 1970's. This baby is awesome, complete with many, many buttons on the front that practically let you set it to stun.

I just fired it up for a really interesting concoction - one fresh purple plum, 1/2 pint fresh red raspberries, 1 little blueberry light Activia yogurt, and about a 1/2 cup of fat-free blueberry-cranberry sorbet. The result is a tangy, bright, fresh snack that I'm enjoying at this very moment.

I'm looking forward to experimenting more with ye olde Osterizer in the coming weeks. Anyone have any favorite combos to recommend?

Monday, August 10, 2009


Anyone have any good stretches for your upper back? With all of the quilting I am doing as well as walking a 66 pound husky twice a day, my shoulders and upper back are getting tight. I'd love any advice on stretching that area of my back as I can't get a chair massage every week.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

In Praise of Cooking

Great Sunday magazine piece from Michael Pollan in the NYT. He offers a historical/cultural viewpoint on the decline of cooking and the rise of food tv, and what it means for our collective health. A great call to return to the kitchen...

The very last paragraph says it best:

“Easy. You want Americans to eat less? I have the diet for you. It’s short, and it’s simple. Here’s my diet plan: Cook it yourself. That’s it. Eat anything you want — just as long as you’re willing to cook it yourself.”

Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch
Published: August 2, 2009
How American cooking became a spectator sport, and what we lost along the way.