Don't worry, if you haven't RSVPd, you can still come! I have plenty of utensils!! See you tomorrow!
Don't worry, if you haven't RSVPd, you can still come! I have plenty of utensils!! See you tomorrow!
I am expecting around 40ish ppl for the potluck. You do not have to prepare food for that many!
I will bring some chafing stands and there is an oven there.
I will be making some sort of braised meat product, and a giant tub of mashed potatoes. I'm hoping other sides and desserts will be taken care of...
I'll probably make a salad or something, depending in what I find at the market.
Wines will ne provided by Columbus' own Signature Wines, beer will be from the Elevator Brewing Company!! I will add links when I am at the computer (I'm in my iPhone, so I'm sure there are tons of typos).
Please let me know if you have any questions!
If not, I'll see you Sunday! Woohoo!
Orders must be placed by Friday! Pickup will be Wednesday, February 10th. Location tbd. If you were counting in having things faster, please don't hesitate to let me know.
Okay, kitties. I am trying to get a feel for how many people are coming and what you are bringing. I hope everyone is excited! I know I am!
If you are new here and have no idea what I'm talking about, here are the details: I will be hosting a free potluck at Wild Goose Creative this Sunday, January 31st, at 7pm. Wild Goose is an open creative space (think blank store front) in SoHud - that's my 'hood!! (map) (read about last year's dinner)
Who can come: Absolutely anyone. Doesn't matter if you don't know anyone. For my first few dinners, I didn't know anyone who was coming and I am very shy and it was just fine. Lots of single people come, and there is always lots of diversity, so you can come no matter who you are, who you bring with you, or if you come solo. I think you will be surprised to find how awesome everyone is.
There are lots of people coming who I don't know, so don't think this is just something for my friends!
What should I wear: whatever you want. I'm super casual.
Can kids come? If they are cute. (just kidding, all kids are cute). I do believe there are some toys and the like at Wild Goose, so if you can't find a babysitter, don't let that stop you from coming.
What if I can't cook? No worries! You can bring your favorite beverage or a favorite carryout item from a grocery (the Hills, Carfagna's & Weilands are both good for this sort of thing), whatever.
What if I can't cook "gourmet?" will people be snobby? Let's face it - 7 layer salad and buckets of chicken are delicious. They might not be gourmet, but they're potluck staples for a reason.
What are we going to do? um, eat! and talk. that's it. no agenda.
Does this cost? Nope! Although it would be nice if you brought some cash to donate to Wild Goose, because they are super awesome and need to put in a cushioned wood floor so they can host dance parties and yoga classes.
What if I can't bring anything? Then don't! Just come. I don't mind
What should I bring? Whatever you would like. If it is your signature dish, and you would like to tell the world about it, please feel free to bring the recipe with you.
I just took a tour of the Elevator Brewing Company and they are donating beer! How awesome is that?! I am pretty sure I have some wine lined up as well!
So, what now?
Please let me know if you plan to come. I will be buying plates and the like and would love to have a good idea of how many to buy! If you don't plan to come, no need to reply.
Please let me know also what style of dish you are planning to bring - you don't have to tell me what it is if you don't want to, but I'd love to know if you consider it a main, side, salad, or dessert. This will help me inform my decisions on what to make big enough for everyone.
Okay! So, your assignment, should you accept it:
Leave a comment or email me with:
your number of people
what you are bringing.
If you don't drink alcohol, what non-alcoholic drinks should I supply?
Yay! I'm so excited for the potluck!
It's a great time to be a meat lover in Columbus. And for all of you who became vegetarians for the New Year, well, you made your bed.
My Twitter followers already know my strong feelings for Smackies BBQ. My bbq sauce stained fingers are compelled to share my love every time I find myself cramming my kisser full of their glorious porky goodness.
Last week Husband brought some pork sandwiches for lunch on Saturday. Sunday, when it was my turn to procure lunch, I rather sheepishly admitted that I wanted more Smackies. He just laughed and said he'd been thinking the same thing.
So let's start with the basics. James Anderson, aka Smackie, sets up a trailer in the parking lot of a carryout at the corner of High & Pacemont in Clintonville Thursdays - Sundays at noon. The smoke was rolling this Thursday when I drove past at 11 in the morning and my car began turning on its own. Alas, some of you might remember that I am in the process of losing weight (6 pounds down!) and I can't be running around eating ribs and mac and cheese and the like without consequences. *sigh*
I knew there was going to be a long love between Smackies and me the first bite I took of the pulled pork sandwich. The buns are of the nice, soft, white variety; typically I am not a fan of soggy bread, but when you start to get towards the end of the sandwich (which is messy, and must be eaten still wrapped in the foil), the whole thing has turned into this glorious bbq-y, porky, soft bready mound of deliciousness. Hm. Have I used the word deliciousness twice already? Well no matter. It's good stuff. The pit boss chops the pork all together so you have a great ratio of fat to meat without getting any undesirable fatty hunks. Oh drool.
A tweep had suggested getting the ribs dry with sauce on the side, advice I took. The ribs really are amazing. I mean seriously, the best I've ever had by far. The dry rub is perfection, and you have to keep eating them, because they are so good the way they are, but the homemade sauce is so great that you have to keep alternating between dry and dipping.
My mouth is watering as I write this, and I just ate dinner.
The collard greens (sometimes kale, and sometimes a blend) are of the smoky variety - I believe they are only meat, onions, and greens; they don't seem to have either sugar or vinegar added (I know there are many different positions on this topic). Some have told me they find the greens undersalted, but every time I have had them, I ponder drinking the pot likker directly from the little styrofoam cup. With a pinch of tabasco, the only thing these greens are missing is some cornbread.
Lest you think I'm just slobbering and drooling all over this place, delirious with my love for fatty porky smoky spicy yumminess, I am not super excited about the mac n cheese. This might be a personal thing; this is the bechamel based soft baked kind of mac and cheese, and I kinda prefer a gooier mac and cheese with lots of salt and sharp cheese.
The first time I had the brisket, I wasn't completely sold that it outweighed Weiland's on their best day (the brisket at Weiland's runs the gamut from glorious to meh, with most times settling on very good), but I must have had a rare misfire because I just received this tweet from Armando the Crimson Cup coffee roaster: "@lisathewaitress Raised on Texas Pit BBQ. I know good brisket. Smackies is the best i've ever eaten. Need to try the ribs next." Yeah, that's some pretty serious praise, just in case you don't want to take my word for it.
The less expensive rib tips are pretty tasty, too - they have a chewier texture, but are still tasty, and you burn more calories chewing them. So, there's that.
Sauces are homemade - there's sweet and tangy sauce (awesome), a spicy sauce (awesome), and a habenero sauce, which is delicious and has a very slow, creeping heat that you don't notice until you're halfway through your sandwich and find yourself guzzling beer to cut through the heat.
So, what have we learned today? Smackies is worth abandoning your silly vegetarian resolutions.* I promise its worth the guilt.
Hm. If I were really mean I would post this review Sunday night at 9pm, just when Smackies had closed up for the week, and make everyone wait until Thursday. But I'm not mean. I love you, and I want you to enjoy the best BBQ our fair city has to offer.
Info: Smackies Pit BBQ, corner of Pacemont & High in Clintonville
*dear vegetarians, I love you. I don't understand you, but I love you. So please, spare me the lecture. You can take my pork when you pry it from my cold, dead, cholesterol-riddled fingertips. Along with beer, pork is proof that god loves us and wants us to be blissfully happy all the days of our lives. Amen.
Hi everyone! I am going to extend bulk club an extra week, and I might add a fee things since some have expressed interest in dried fruits and the like.
Orders will be taken until Friday, January 29th. If you need your items sooner, please let me know and I'll get it to you.
U hope you're enjoying restaurant week.
That's right, folks!! It's the return of everyone's favorite weekly feature, the Weekly Things to Do List! Woohoo!
Do you have events to add? Leave them in the comments, and have a fun week here in our Fair City!!
As you can see, this apron features a lovely applique of the beautiful state of Ohio and a fancy pocket for the most important tool in the kitchen, the beer bottle in your right hand (or other yummy beverage, root beer, for example).
How to enter? Simply leave a comment with your favorite small business; it doesn't have to be local. Just let us know about them and where they are located, and maybe help them out with a link.
We'll take entries through Thursday, January 21st at midnight, and announce the winner on Friday the 22nd.
AmyD will offer a consolation gift to non-winning entrants - a 15% discount on any apron in her shop!
So, I'll start. I love Yeah Me Too coffee. Yeah Me Too is located in a tiny storefront in Clintonville at 3005 Indianola ave near studio 35. I wrote about them here. Yeah Me Too roasts their own beans and they are always deliciously yummy. It's one of the most perfect small businesses around. No pretense, no frills, just great people roasting beans very well and selling them. That's it.
*update* I fixed the missing sugar prices and made the form more easily downloadable.
I am so excited about this month's bulk club. I have found some really great things; one thing I am looking into for the next order is bulk olive oil and vinegar. I think I have found a great source for olive oil, and I am ordering a sampler pack of extra virgin olive oils and vinegar so that we can taste through it together and see if it is worth the investment. It would be a significant layout on my part so I would like to feel out how much interest there is. I will say that it would be far, far less expensive than anything you can buy in a grocery store.
If you would like to order some things in smaller quantities than I have listed, please let me know; I will be able to do that for some things but if I get too many requests, I might not be able to get everything on my list.
Please place your order by Friday, January 22nd (that's this Friday!!)
Below is the order form. I have gussied it up a bit this time. Add your name to the sheet, then just enter the quantity of whatever you'd like in the "quantity", and it will automatically add up. There is a link to PayPal under the total where you can pay; save the excel sheet to your computer, then attach it to an email and send it to me at LisatheWaitressATgmailDOTcom.
Pickup day will be at the potluck on January 31st. If you aren't able to make it, please let me know in the notes to the seller and we will arrange another time.
After the order form is a list of descriptions of each item we have this time around. If there is anything you would like to add, please let me know and I will make every effort to get it in time for the pickup.
Fragrant Jasmine Rice - The rice of Thai cooking. Jasmine rice is long-grained and has a very fragrant and nutty aroma
Arborio Rice - a short-grained, Italian rice variety used for making risotto. Arborio becomes very creamy when stirred and cooked slowly.
Kala Jeera Rice - This is a new one for me, and I can't wait to try it! Kala Jeera is a tiny rice similar in aroma to a very intense basmati (which is known for its popcorn-like aroma). Kala Jeera is so fragrant and delicious it is best eaten on its own with a little salt.
Flageolets - are immature kidney beans. They have an ethereal greenish-white color and a very light and delicate flavor. They are the standard bean for cassoulet.
Beluga lentil - tiny black lentils which retain their shape with just a bit of bite. I love belugas because they cook in under 20 minutes and are meaty. excellent with just a little olive oil and salt.
French Green lentils - another great firm lentil which retains its shape and cooks in a flash. I love these as a mild counterpoint to rich sausages (they are frequently paired with foie gras), and they make great cold salads.
Rainbow Couscous - I thought this would be a fun thing to try. This is traditional Moroccan-sized grains, which are flavored with tomato and spinach, making a pretty blend.
Yellow Popcorn - usually has large kernels and a strong corn flavor.
White popcorn - smaller kernel with sweeter flavor
Pumpkin Seeds - these are roasted and salted. A great snack and very good for you - they have lots of good minerals, protein, fatty acids, and vitamin K.
Chia Seeds - they may or may not be a miracle food. Chia seeds have a ton of omega 3 fatty acids - as much as flax seeds, yet chia is easier to digest. These seeds also hold 9 times their weight in water, so they fill you up. They have tons of fiber. I like to add them to smoothies - they don't have very much taste, so you won't even notice them - for the fiber boost and the fullness factor.
Spirulina powder - a blue-green algae which contains lots of vitamins and minerals, as well as a good amount of protein. Some people even think the legendary lifespans of Okinawans are due in part to the longstanding use of spirulina powder.
Soy Protein Isolate Powder - this vegan powder is 90% protein and can be added to just about anything; you can make your own soy protein shakes, flavored your way, instead of paying out the nose for the yucky ones at health food stores.
Whey Protein Isolate Powder - 80% protein, can be used as you would use soy protein powder
Textured vegetable protein - a tasty vegetarian source of protein. Can also be used as an economical way to stretch meat-based dishes.
Organic Cane Sugar - this sugar still contains some molasses, giving it a richer flavor, especially when used in baked goods.
Vanilla Extract - Great true vanilla extract at a fraction of the price at specialty stores. Price includes repackaging in a nice glass jar.
Ugandan Vanilla Beans - bourbon-style beans from Uganda; they are plump and juicy. Flavors are stronger than Madagascar beans, very rich and complex.
Madagascar Vanilla Beans - long considered to be the best vanilla bean, very expensive with a complex flavor
India Vanilla Beans - Haven't tried these yet! apparently they have a rich and exotic flavor.
Guittard Dark Chocolate chips - a great and affordable dark chocolate
Guittard Milk Chocolate chips - a great and affordable milk chocolate.
Valrhona cocoa powder - widely considered to be the best chocolate currently being made, you have to see it to believe it. I have a great recipe coming from Pistacia Vera using this powder. You will never, ever go back to hershey's.
Valrhona 40% Milk Chocolate - will make you rethink milk chocolate. One disc will take you on a tiny little vacation. Valrhona simply gives chocolate a whole new meaning. Expensive, and worth every penny.
Valrhona 64% Madagascar - simply amazing with complex flavors. will make you stop in your tracks. Again, it's expensive and worth it.
Vac Bags - available in 3 sizes, pint, quart, and gallon. these are compatible with FoodSaver and other vacuum sealer bags, but are at a fraction of the price. They are 4mm thick and can withstand extreme temperatures (even a blast chiller) and boiling.
Everything will be packaged in a sealed, heavy-duty zip-top bag which is freezer safe. Exceptions are vanilla beans, which will be packaged in test tubes or wrapped in wax paper and vacuum-packed. Vanilla extract will be packaged in an 8oz glass bottle.
I will be prepping another bulk order very soon. I plan to everything packages and ready for pickup by January 31st, also the day of my potluck!
Please let me know if there ate any specific products you are interested in and I will do my best to source them! I will have an order form ready to go tomorrow.
I find the best way to keep myself on track when trying to lose weight or eat healthfully is to keep track of everything I eat, every day, no matter what. The only day I don't is my free day.
I used to do this in an actual notebook, with paper, and a pen. Imagine! These days, there are endless applications for tracking your diet. Once upon a time I used the WW platform, but it was expensive and it was maddening trying to find nutrition information for anything but processed foods. WW seems to be geared to people who eat everything from the freezer to the microwave, and at that time one couldn't easily input their own recipes for nutritional value.
Of course there are lots of journaling services, but the one I've been loving lately is the Daily Plate via the LiveStrong website. It's kind of shady because they put a TON of irritating ads all over the free version of the site, and you have to upgrade to see it ad free. Nonetheless, they have the most amazingly complete list of nutritional information that I sprung for the fee. They even had Carfagna's pasta sauces in their list! That pretty much sold me. It's also nice that there is an iphone application so that you can update your journal on the run; the two sync with each other automatically.
I think it's helpful to write a few sentence or two about your emotions, stresses, or unusual cravings of the day. This way you can see if any patterns develop.
Keep track of everything, even if you go over your calorie budget. Don't judge yourself, just keep track. You will probably learn some things about yourself.
Above all, be honest. You are only cheating yourself if you tweak the numbers!
Because of something I learned today, I feel compelled to share with everyone a very personal story. A fellow blogger, Karissa Gindling, took her own life yesterday. Karissa wrote a blog on green living, full of amazing secrets and recipes for green household and beauty products. She was amazingly beautiful. Unfortunately, her radiant smile was hiding inner turmoil. She was doing a great job of faking it.
I didn't know Karissa personally, and I don't know what her specific situation was; in her last post, she did allude to taking a break to make some changes in her life, although she was not specific.
We need to take the stigma out of depression and get help. I am writing this, completely unrelated to my usual topic, because I have a lot of readers out there, and I feel the need to use what influence I have to make others' lives better, whether it be the food they eat or their fear of flying, or their feelings about life.
Here is my story....
For a long time, I suffered from the "winter blues." I didn't really believe in Seasonal Affective Disorder. During the summer of 2007, I started to notice that I was incredibly, inexplicably anxiety-ridden. I had seemingly no reason for there to be anything wrong: I had recently lost 25 pounds and looked great. I was exercising all the time, walking everywhere, and eating right. My website had just begun to take off; I was invited to give cooking demonstrations, do some freelancing, and judge competitions. I had a great relationship with a great person, and although I wasn't super happy in my working situation, I was making good money.
It was after doing a cooking demonstration that I realized something was really wrong with me. Although people were coming up to me and saying all sorts of nice things, complimenting me and telling me how much they enjoyed my writing, I felt like everything was a lie. I started to feel as though everything about my life was a lie; I can't really explain the feeling beyond that, it was very strange. All I wanted to do was curl up in bed, sleep for weeks, and drop out of life. I wasn't feeling suicidal, but I felt ambivalent about my future.
Every day when I woke up, I felt like I was staring into a void. But I kept going, and I kept faking it.
One thing that seemed so strange to me was that no one seemed to notice. Now, being a server, we all must know that I'm a great actor, but I felt as though everything I said had a hollow ring to it. My emotions went from despair to indescribable rage to crushing anxiety for no reason. But still - I was doing a very convincing imitation of myself.
Finally, around the first of November '07, I felt like I was going to crack. I knew I was being completely irrational and that I was on the verge of sabotaging my relationships and what success I had started to realize in my writing. I saw sadness and despair wherever I looked, instead of the beauty I used to see. No matter how many pep talks I had given myself, it became clear that I wasn't going to talk myself into feeling "normal." The prospect of enduring another endlessly gray Ohio winter seemed almost unbearable. I finally faced my discomfort and went to my doctor for some anti-depressants.
Depression can take many forms. While women are frequently able to identify their depression, men have a tendency to bury themselves in work instead of realizing they "feel sad."
As much as I had always considered depression to be - for me, not for others - a "weakness," and didn't want to admit to my doctor or anyone how I was feeling, I simply didn't have the energy to fake it anymore. Deciding to confront the stigma was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Although I never felt suicidal - rationally speaking, I knew my life was pretty great, and that I had nothing to complain about - but who knows what might have happened if I had kept going on the path I was on?
Now when friends tell me about their anxiety or SAD or depression, I tell them my story and encourage them to get help. I don't hesitate because I know how much better it made my life, and I want others to know there is help.
So, please. If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression, get help. Nothing horrible has to happen for depression to come on; it can be a simple chemical imbalance. You do not have to go to a psychiatrist and talk it out of you don't want to. Your family doctor can prescribe anti depressants if that is the route you choose.
Be aware of how the medications are affecting you; at first, you might feel strange, but stick with it for at least a month. The day you decide to see your doctor, write how you are feeling in honest detail - how you see your future, how you see yourself and your relationships and how you see your success. Don't look at that again until you have been taking medication for a month. There isn't an "a-ha" moment, typically. You just suddenly realize you aren't clenching your teeth, you aren't getting panic attacks, you aren't flying into pointless rages, you don't feel helpless or hopeless.
Just get help. Don't wait. And if you know someone who needs help, help them. You'll never know if you will have another chance.
Helpful information on depression can be found here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/depression/
disclaimer::I am not a doctor, of course. Your views might be different than mine, and I appreciate that. I encourage you to share your own opinions and experiences with other readers if you would like to. That being said, I discourage anyone who would decry chemical antidepressants or suggest that religion will help your depression. It won't, and it only makes matters worse to tell people that, because when it doesn't happen, they feel like they have failed.
One of the easiest way to get off track with eating for health or weight loss is with quick food. When we don't feel like working for our meal, the temptation to run through fast food can be very high. It just seems so easy!
This is why I like to keep lots of natural ready-made products in the freezer. For these I frequently turn to Asian grocery stores. I like to buy the bags of IQF tiny shellfish at the Korean grocery store on Bethel Rd - it contiains mussels and clams, squid, octopus - all sorts of things and can be tossed by the handful into a pot of broth or some whole wheat spaghetti.
Another thing I love to buy are potstickers. I just love them. They can be a healthy steamed treat or a deep-fried, not-so-great snack. As with all premade foods, check the ingredient labels; you should see vegetables, meat, and maybe a few spices. You shouldn't see long lists of things you can't pronounce or can only identify by chemical composition (this doesn't go for you, people working at Chemical Abstracts - don't start with me).
This is another example of viewing your meals in a different way. Here I took an easy, ready-to-heat item from the freezer, ate only the serving on the package, and then added a ton of fresh vegetables to bulk up the meal. If you are thinking about having seconds (left to my own devices, with nothing else on the side, I can easily take down 9-10 potstickers), finish all of your vegetables, wait 5 minutes, and then decide if you still need another bite. Chances are, once your brain catches up with your stomach, you will realize that you don't need another after all.
Try to choose things which can be prepared in the same pan. For example, postickers are placed in a nonstick pan, water is added, and then they are steamed for a few minutes. I let the potstickers steam on their own for 4 minutes, and then added the broccoli. Steam for another 4 minutes and then uncover and continue heating until the water is gone. I know it's scandalous, but I even added 1/2 tbsp of butter. Why? because broccoli tastes amazingly delicious with a pinch of butter and a few red pepper flakes. This lunch was 375 calories, even with the butter. It came together in under 10 minutes.
You could do something similar with potstickers or other Asian steamed dumplings, and even some lighter raviolis (believe it or not, they exist, just read the label or make your own with ricotta and spinach).
Sometimes I will even make a cupful of vegetables to eat while I am cooking dinner for others; that way I have a headstart on filling up, with vegetables first.
One of the most important things when trying to lose weight is to always have healthy food options on hand. These should include fresh, canned and frozen items. Some of them should be what I like to call "lazy foods." I don't know about you, but when I'm lazy the desire to order a pizza or get carryout is almost overwhelming.
The best way to combat faltering is to always have great options on hand. I'm going to list a few of my favorites; feel free to chime in!
First of all, a personal guideline. I am not fond of super-processed foods. For this reason, you will never see "Lean Cuisine" or anything similar in my list. Those frozen meals are full of artificial nonsense and preservatives, they never taste good, and they never fill you up.
That is not to say there isn't room for ready-made foods. Trader Joe's can be a gold mine for those looking to lose weight without doing a ton of cooking. Many of their heat-and-serve frozen meals are made with no preservatives and other detritus. I really like the stir-fried options in their frozen sections. They are complete meals with meat and vegetables. Most contain 2 250-calorie servings (or thereabouts); for a guy or a hungry person, however, one package will serve one with just a little extra, which you could easily pack in your lunch the next day.
Here are a few things I love to have on hand:
Fresh vegetables that I like - if you aren't used to having lots of fresh produce on hand, go easy in the beginning. produce is expensive and doesn't last forever. I love broccoli and cauliflower, because they are delicious cooked or raw.
Frozen vegetables. It's good to have lots of vegetables of all sorts on hand, because you are going to be relying heavily on vegetables as the foundational source of your meals. Of course, the ideal situation is that we will freeze all of our veggies at the height of the growing season so that they are available year round. But of course, it's January, and we can't rewind. We can plan for next year, but for now we have to do what we can. I was shopping at Costco the other day and purchased giant bags of green beans and stir-fry vegetables. Now I can throw a few cups of veggies in the steamer and make sure I'm getting my 5 servings a day.
Frozen vacuum sealed seafood. Trader Joe's and the Anderson's are both great resources for finding these items, which can usually be found individually packed, so they are perfect when cooking for one. Salmon, Tuna, and Swordfish are great fish for this option because they all recover well from freezing and are easy to prepare, even for those who aren't savvy cooking fish. You can thaw them very quickly under cold running water (or in the fridge overnight, of course, which is what the health department would want me to say.)
Frozen chicken. I like to purchase frozen tenderloins, because they are smaller and again, good for cooking for one.
Frozen lean meats: pork tenderloin, flank steak, and shrimp - especially shrimp, because they cook in 3 minutes and can be added to about anything. And shrimp cocktail is one of the easiest and healthy snacks or light dinners.
Fresh and Frozen fruits! For snacking and smoothie making
Lentils. I like beluga and french green lentils, because they quick in about 20 minutes flat.
Whole wheat pasta and soba (buckwheat) noodles.
Canned fish. I love good Italian tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil and the trout filets from Trader Joe's. They are my frequent super-lazy food, and I like to top them with a few olives or relish or a little giardinera.
Yogurt. lots and lots of yogurt. It's what I eat first thing in the morning and it's my go-to snack. I love Greek yogurt because it's thick and creamy and wonderful and can be used in sweet or savory applications. Greek yogurt can even be topped with a little chocolate syrup to satisfy your sweet tooth. Here again is an item which can contain tons of artificial ingredients. Look for yogurts with fewer than five ingredients. Avoid anything with artificial sweeteners and thickeners. You might have to look in the "organic" section of your grocery store, and Whole Foods has a dizzying array of very tasty and natural yogurt options.
Popcorn. It's one of the few salty snacks which is both delicious and low calorie. Plus it's a whole grain!
Dried fruits & nuts. They make great snacks and last forever. They're also great to pack for the car and your desk. I love them because I frequently have to work long periods of time without food and they are quick pick-me-ups.
When losing weight, I try to think of everything I eat, evaluating it for nutritional value. This helps to consider if you really need that extra whatever. Truth be told, it's usually the bread I end up thinking "no, I don't need that. darnit."
Consider this: the burrito wrapper used at Chipotle contains nearly 300 calories. I don't know about you, but if I'm eating 300 non-nutritional calories, I want some ice cream. The only thing the burrito wrapper does is hold your burrito together.
Here's another example: a Hebrew National hot dog has 150 calories. A Wonderbread bun has 110 calories. You might look at that and say "both of those things are junk food," but at least the hot dog has protein! I'm just using that as an example.
So, let's think about things. I like to use salad as an example. Salad can be a win or a fail, depending on how you approach it. I like to use a salad to get in tons of vegetables in one meal. Usually when I am having a salad, it is the only thing I am eating for that meal. I like to start with a crunchy green, and then add shredded zucchini, sprouts and microgreens, pickled things like beets or olives, maybe some avocados - whatever is on hand. I like to make salads when I'm at work, because everything is already chopped and ready and I only have to toss it in a bowl. The problem comes with the salad dressing. Salad dressing is simply nothing but fat. Let's face it.
This is where things will probably get controversial, but I like to add cheese and olive oil to my salad instead of dressing. But Lisa! How can you lose weight and have cheese and olive oil?! Well, 1 ounce of crumbled bleu cheese has about 50 calories, and half a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil has 60 calories - I never need to use a whole tablespoon. The cheese has 30% of your daily calcium requirement, and extra virgin olive oil is very good for you. You need to have fat. It makes everything more satisfying.
When you have a salad with all these vegetables and a smattering of cheese, toss it all very lightly with a whisper of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper - it's amazing, and good for you. Blue cheese and olive oil have about 100 calories, half of full fat salad dressings with even more flavor. A half slice of bacon (which clocks in around 25 calories) can be cooked crisp, crumbled, and tossed in and you will still be under the calories of a regular salad dressing.
And don't give me that "what about fat free salad dressing?" Fat free salad dressing is gross and you know it.
If you love creamy dressings, never fear! Add a packet of ranch seasoning to low fat Greek Yogurt, allow it to sit for an hour, and thin with just a pinch of milk. You won't believe how delicious this alternative is.
Another example is a sandwich. I like sandwiches, but they can be a huge downfall when considering the mayo and the bread. This is another chance to think about the healthier option. Instead of using a big sub bun, choose thinly sliced bread, whole wheat wraps, or a new product I'm fond of called Sandwich Thins. They have 100 calories and perform the function of holding your cold cuts while also providing a good amount of fiber and a pinch of protein. Now it's time to choose your flavoring agent. Unfortunately, you might have to let go of mayonnaise. I'm fortunate to prefer my sandwiches with mustard, but whole grain bread can be a little dry. This is when I look to avocados, which I like to think of as nature's vegan answer to butter. Yes, avocados have fat, but they are also loaded with Vitamins C & K, omega 3 fatty acids, and a good amount of fiber as well. This makes it a much better choice than mayo.
These are the questions I like to ask, when in doubt: am I getting protein from this? am I getting fiber from this? is this a whole grain? If I answer yes, then I will eat it. Obviously, fruits and vegetables are no brainers: they are good for you. Usually these questions come out for calorie-dense items, typically carbs, which are of unclear nutritional value. this is why I choose whole wheat pasta over plain white, and whole grain bread over white.
Any tips? any questions? critiques?
****diet disclaimer***** I am no dietitian or nutritionist. This series only documents things which have worked for me. Things are different for everyone, and your opinions will surely differ from mine, and that's fantastic, it's what makes the world go round! I love to hear your opinions, so please leave comments! Even opposing viewpoints!
The purpose of this survey is two-fold. First and foremost, it's to continue to get to know you fabulous folks. Also, well, I am putting together a media kit for potential advertisers.
If you are so inclined, I'd also love to hear if you read RW online or through a feed reader.
You results are completely anonymous.
There is a small chance - although greater than I might have ever believed - that I might one day become a domestic goddess. Today I had a stroke of brilliance. Brilliance I tell you!!
Yesterday I made myself a smoothie. I had lots of frozen fruit and thought "it's frozen! I don't remember buying it, but how bad can it be?" oh, how wrong I was. My smoothie tasted precisely like freezer burn. I had a bit of a lazy summer and only managed to freeze a few peaches, sour cherries, and rhubarb. I needed some frozen fruit.
I was headed to Costco today, and it seemed like a good idea to stock up on some frozen fruit. I bought 5 pound bags of frozen wild Maine blueberries (which are amazing) and strawberries, along with lots of bananas and a giant carton of plain yogurt. Throw in a few bottles of Bolthouse Blueberry juice and I'm in business.
That's when I had the stroke of genius! I could avoid inevitable freezer burn by making smoothie packs. I could divide the fruit into individual, one smoothie bags, and would be free from freezer burn forever! I am brilliant. Seriously.
I placed 2/3 of a medium banana (cut into 2-inch chunks), 1/2 cup of blueberries, and 5 strawberries (these were huge) into a pint zip top bag. I squeezed out as much air as possible, and then packaged 4 bags to a larger foodsaver bag. Now, every morning I can grab a one-serving bag of frozen fruit, all ready to become breakie. I made the foodsaver bags large enough that I can reseal them each time I remove a smaller bag. Of course, you could freeze each serving in its own foodsaver bag, but they are expensive.
Whenever I need a smoothie, I grab a bag and throw it in the blender along with 1/2 cup of plain yogurt and about 3 ounces of juice. Blitz in the blender and yummy yummy. I usually let the frozen fruit and juice sit in the blender for 5 minutes to soften; alternatively, sometimes I add just a little hot water - 3 ounces or so. I like my smoothies full of fruit with a little yogurt; not too sweet and a little tart. While I was drinking today's concoction, I was thinking that many people would probably want it a little sweeter. I would recommend adding a little honey, or apple or white grape juice for sweetness versus just dumping sugar in. And I'm not super crazy about artificial sweetener, and try to keep them to a minimum.
The smoothie, as I've made it, contains three servings of fruit and one serving of dairy. It boasts a full 40% of your daily fiber (which can be difficult to get from food alone) and is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin C. All of this for just around 260 calories. Compare that to a commercial smoothie, where a small clocks in a over 400 calories, and I think the proof is in the pudding. The nice thing about smoothies, aside from their fruit and fiber content, and the way they can soothe your sweet tooth, is you can sneak all sorts of additional healthy additives in. You could add a scoop of protein powder, some spirulina, or a few tablespoons of chia seeds for a really good boost of fiber.
Furthermore! These smoothies cost around $1.50 per serving (I got 20 servings). The small smoothie, full of sugar, from the smoothie chain, costs about $4.50. And I promise you: mine is better.
The smoothie, with 3/4 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 5 large strawberries, 1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt, and 3 ounces blueberry juice has 258 calories; detailed nutritional information after the jump.