Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bye Bye Baby Weight

Hello! Long time no see! I’ve been off the map for a while…a long while. But I had a baby! Aint she cute?

I suppose she was worth taking a break from blogging and well… dieting too. Now that she’s nearing three months old and I’m getting ready to go back to work, I’m trying desperately to loose these lovely 19 pounds that feel the need to hang out and over stay their welcome.

I’ve been having trouble getting motivated. It’s winter and I’m spending most of my days in the house with a newborn. I’ve been following Weight Watchers for 5 weeks now and haven’t lost a single pound! What the hell? I guess I should be glad I haven’t gained a bunch of weight, but that’s a pretty small positive for 19 pounds of negative.

I started writing this blog to share recipes with people who basically always ask me to send them healthy recipes! But it also helps me to pump myself up and feel like I’m working towards something. Why not get back into the swing of it in hopes that writing will boost my motivation? I’m certainly never at a loss for words! Once a blabbermouth, always a blabbermouth.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on the computer reading other blogs. I’m not sure if this blog has been around 100 years and I just missed the boat, but check out www.skinnytaste.com. She’s got great ideas and the photography is beautiful.

I’ve been on a baking kick and made these Banana Nut Oatmeal Cookies this afternoon. I’m munching on two of these little beauties as we speak and I’m floored by how moist and chewy they are even though the recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons of butter for 30 cookies! Crazy. On Weight Watchers these are 5 points for 2 cookies and entirely worth the investment. 

My batch came out with a fairly subtle banana flavor. Your best bet is to wait for the bananas to reach the point when they’re just about to go bad. Super ripe bananas maximize the banana flavor. Also, don’t be tempted to over bake! You don’t want all your hard work to dry out in the oven.

I’ll keep this short and sweet. I’m back on the healthy bandwagon. Hop on with me!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Move Aside and Let the Mango Through

I recently took a trip to Cape Cod with the hubby as a last-ditch effort to relax before the little peanut arrives. Relax really isn’t a word that frequents my vocabulary. I operate on two speeds…STOP and GO. Between 15-mile bike rides, whale watching and dragging Joe through tons of shops, I actually managed to sit on the beach for a few hours and read a book. A miracle! (Speaking of books, everyone should go out and read the Hunger Games series RIGHT NOW. Ignore the embarrassing “young adult” label on the spine. It rocks.)

Doesn't every pregnant woman bike 15 miles in a sun hat?

A main vacation priority of mine is to hit up any and all delicious eateries in the area. Cape Cod is the perfect locale to find fresh seafood prepared in a casual, no-frills style. And boy did we eat! We stopped by The Beachcomber for fried clam strips, The Squire for oysters on the half shell and sampled a few different varieties of chowder and fish & chips.

All this seaweed made me constantly think of eating sushi. 

I’ve been on a major seafood kick lately and with baby on board, I ate my fill of all things fried. I may have over indulged a bit. When we got home, I wanted to keep the seafood trend going, but on a much lighter note.

Trying to zoom-in on the boats to see what fish they might be dragging in.

We picked up some fresh tilapia filets, but you could certainly use any flaky white fish for this. Season the fish with salt and pepper and sear the filets in a skillet on medium-high heat. I usually cook in olive oil, but I did add about a tablespoon of real butter to the oil in the pan. After much trial and error, I find that even a touch of butter helps the fish to develop a crunchy, golden brown sear on the outside. Without the sear, it’s just too mushy for me.

I topped the fish with a FRESH MANGO SALSA that I whipped up. While shopping around the adorable little Chatham Village, we stopped in an olive oil and vinegar shop called Gustare. The store lets you sample an impressive variety of different flavored oils and vinegars. I picked up an apricot-infused aged white balsamic vinegar and one of the suggested uses was for mango salsa. I used the vinegar in place of lime juice. The subtle hint of apricot gives the tart vinegar a little extra sweetness.

This gorgeous plate took only 15 minutes to whip together!

This took about 15 minutes to put together. It’s light and fresh and satisfies the need for something from the sea.  Summer might be drawing to a close, but who says you can’t have a beach-inspired dinner any time the mood strikes? Put a mini-cocktail umbrella in your drink. Relive the moment. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Yum-balaya, The Anytime Soup

I haven’t written since May. Before you get on my case for being a lazy slacker, I must announce…. drum roll please… I’m pregnant!

I’ve had a bit of a tough time sticking to my usual Diet It Up routine. Spending time cooking means taking precious hours away from my new favorite pastime… sleeping!

Now that I’m into the second trimester, my energy is slowly making a comeback.  I even found a full hour to cook a real meal this weekend that wasn’t covered in cheese, peanut butter or pickles. The husband was thrilled.

I was flipping through my recipe binder and found this JAMBALAYA recipe that I saved. I don’t even remember making this. But, if I went through the effort of three-hole punching, I must have liked it. Getting the three-hole punch treatment is a pretty big deal.

Jambalaya is a soup-meets-stew concoction that we can thank our good friends in Louisiana for popularizing. It’s a great way to use up leftovers. Got some chicken lying around? Throw it in. Want to use crab instead of shrimp? Go right ahead. Shoot to include a seafood, poultry and smoky sausage element in your own version.

To avoid using a really greasy pork sausage, the supermarket had these neat little turkey/chicken andouille sausage bites that taste exactly like the pork version. I’m completely going to buy these again and turn them into pigs-in-a-blanket for football season.

I topped each bowl of Jambalaya off with a big ice cream scoop of brown rice. Don’t be turned off by making a stew in the middle of August like your crazy pal Trish. The sauce/broth is light enough that it’s perfectly appropriate any time of year.

I will try my best to post up delicious words of healthy wisdom on a weekly basis. One the managers in the office just referred to my growing baby belly as “huge” so I’ll be making a conscious effort to stay on track!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

By the Beard of Zeus! - Greek Stuffed Chicken

Three things I’d like to use this blog as a forum to selfishly brag about:

1 – I ran my first ever 5K race a few weeks ago. (Even though a few moms whizzed by me with their jogger strollers, I didn’t do half bad!)

Pre-race. This smile was later replaced with the look of utter exhaustion.

2 – I finally lost the 10 pounds I put on after college (The fact that college was almost 10 years ago, is not an important detail to note).

3 – Constant blabbering about healthy eating choices is starting to pay off. Friends and family are calling and texting with their healthy ideas and I love it!           

Let me introduce you to my friend Diana. You may remember her from the Last Horrah Greek Cookout. Although she’s getting much more adventurous in her old age of 30, she’s still not a huge vegetable eater (unless you consider ketchup to be a vegetable).

Di called me one day with a recipe she loves that also gets some greens into her diet. Was there a full moon? Had she gone completely mad? I like to think my healthy cooking antics are rubbing off on people!

This BAKED GREEK CHICKEN makes plain old chicken breast something much more special. The spinach and feta mixture creates a creamy, cheesy stuffing and the panko topping gives the chicken a crunchy crust. I’m not sure where her original recipe came from, but the references to “EVOO” and “two turns of the pan” scream Rachael Ray.

I adjusted the recipe to give each piece of chicken even more spinachy stuffing in each bite. Go big or go home I always say, unless we’re talking about tequila. Then go small, go very small.

Give this a try on your vegetable leery friends. They'll be spinach converts in no time. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hall & Sloats: Whoa-oh here she comes. She’s a slow cooker!

I should preface this post by explaining that my husband Joe and I have been around each other for so long, we speak our own language. I don’t mean a cutesy sort of lovey-dovey language. I mean we have a weird habit of making up our own abbreviated words for things.

If you hear us talking to each other in public you might think we sound like a couple with “special needs”. Somehow Italian garlic and oil sauce (aglio e olio) has become alool. Ice cream is affectionately called screamies, and scrambled eggs with salsa and cheese has somehow morphed into crazy eggs. In some instances we abandon the spoken word all together and resort to hand signals. It’s bizarre, I agree. But look at us, would you expect anything else?

So now you can understand why this SLOW COOKER OATMEAL came to be called “The Sloat.”

I really like having a hot breakfast in the morning and oatmeal is a welcome departure from Egg Beaters and turkey sausage. The instant packet oatmeal isn’t the greatest. To make it quick cooking and microwave friendly, a lot of the packets contain artificial flavors and sweeteners.

This oatmeal took two failed attempts before I realized you have to use steel cut oats. Rolled oats just don’t work. Take one was more of an oatmeal-flavored soup. Take two woke me up in the middle of the night with the smell of burning brown sugar cementing to the sides of the pot.

By take three I switched to steel cut oats. They take longer to cook and stand up perfectly to slow cooking. The pellet shaped grain is closer to bulgur or al dente cous cous than it is to what American’s typically think of as oatmeal. It maintains a chewy texture even after being slow cooked overnight.

Selling points for The Sloat
  • It cooks while you’re sleeping and the whole house will smell like cinnamon.
  • Sweeteners and dried fruit mix-ins are interchangeable for different flavor combinations.
  • It’s super creamy despite being cooked in water.
  • Leftovers can be brought back to life in the microwave and enjoyed for the next few days by adding a splash of water to the bowl, covering it in plastic wrap and reheating.
  • The Sloat is just really silly to say and bound to make you laugh at least once. 

Oats on Foodista

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Come to the Dark (Leafy Greens) Side!

Three healthy eating challenges:

#1 = being bored to death with steamed vegetables.

#2 = finding a side dish that feels exciting enough to serve guests (or the guests I’d like to have over if I could fit more than four in my kitchen. Anyone who’d like to come over and eat from a “kids table” kind of setup in my living room is more than welcome).

#3 = having to eat my two foot Easter bunny at a rate of one nibble per day.

I’m solving number one and two with BAKED SPINACH. My normal preparation of baby spinach is wilted in olive oil and garlic. It’s getting a little stale. It feels boring. When I’m bored with a vegetable, I want French fries, or mashed potatoes, or forget the side dish and just give me a slice of cake, NOW!

If I can keep my veggie options varied and interesting, I don’t miss the bad stuff. This baked spinach is similar to a gratin except it’s cream-free and uses only a small amount of gruyere cheese (I guess what I’m saying is that it’s nothing like a gratin but comes in the same nifty baking dish).

The sautéed spinach is mixed with creamy gruyere and topped with crispy breadcrumbs. The cheese flavor is mild, so the spinach can taste like spinach and not be forced to drown in a river of cream. 

I served this alongside a roast beef and the plate could have easily been served for Easter dinner. It’s just as appropriate for a quick weeknight meal. It’s low in calories but high in specialness, far superior to (insert generic steamed vegetable here).

Don’t treat your greens with a lack of enthusiasm. Don’t toss them on the plate as an afterthought. You’ll look forward to this. Embrace the power of dark leafy greens. Welcome vitamin K and antioxidants into your life with open arms!

As for the Easter bunny, I guess I have no choice but to share it with my husband. Maybe he can resist the enticing stare of those sugary eyes!

Spinach on Foodista

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spoiler Alert: This is Not a Cookie

I don’t want to eat much before I’m bouncing around on the treadmill Yes, bouncing. I’ve been called a lot of things, but graceful never seems to make the list. What I really need before my clumsy workout is a little bite, just enough to reenergize.

Luna Bars are my staple snack. They’re formulated with essential vitamins and minerals specifically for women’s health. It’s not like they’re going to boost your bra size (darn), I just happen to like the flavors and appreciate that they’re made from all-natural ingredients.

At 180 calories a bar, they’re a little big for a bite. The company does make Luna Minis, but the flavors are limited and get pretty boring. So, I cut the full size bars in half and pack them in little plastic baggies.

I whipped out one of my plastic baggie snack packs on the train the other day and the guy next to me looked at me like I was completely bonkers. The resulting conversation went something like this:

 “Is that half a granola bar?”
 “Yeah, and?”
 “Lady, go wild. Eat the whole bar.”

Get a load of this guy. Apparently grabbing slivers of food from baggies hiding in the depths of your purse is NOT the norm around here. I came across these CARROT OATMEAL BITES on Chiot’s Run. I thought they might take the place of buying a store bought granola bar and chopping it to bits.

Please note: The recipe is actually intended for pure maple syrup but I only keep
sugar free in the house. The bites turned out just fine anyway. 

Don’t be fooled by their signature cookie shape. These aren’t overly sweet and really taste more like a granola bar than any cookie I’ve ever tried. But, I love how hearty and filling they are. Plus, I got to experiment with coconut oil, which I’ve never used before.

By using coconut oil instead of butter and eggs, these cookies are vegan approved. The original recipe calls for unrefined coconut oil, which I couldn’t find. But, the refined oil (processed to remove any impurities and eliminate the coconutty taste) was right in the organic aisle of the regular supermarket.  Unrefined (unmessed-with) is always better, but I couldn’t get my hands on it the day I needed it.

Either way, this is pretty cool stuff. It looks like beeswax in the jar, but you can melt it and pour it right into your baking in place of the butter. Just make sure you melt the oil right before you want to incorporate it into the rest of your ingredients. Once it cools off, it’s back to beeswax consistency.

I’ve been eating one of these cookies before each workout this week. They’re packed with trail mix-like energizing ingredients. They’re nutty with little bursts of sweetness from the dried fruit. I went light on the ginger since I didn’t want this to turn into a gingersnap, but I thought the ginger added an interesting spicy element.

I had fun with these. You can easily change up the mix-ins and create a completely different tasting bite for the next batch. Hiding carrots in there is a pretty sneaky way to get some extra veggies in. I stashed half the bites in the freezer to have again next week. If you’re looking to avoid a confrontation with strangers on the train, give these “cookies” a try. Add your own spin. Go wild. 

Carrot on Foodista