Did I Say I Hate Kale?

Never say never. Never say hate. It’s what I learned growing up and as an adult I became arrogant enough to think I could be so definitive in my position. Such is the moment that I ate crow – I mean kale.

Heading out tonight to do some last minute shopping for our RV vacation and the hangries came on. Lo and behold, Wegman’s was right across the shopping plaza with their seemingly endless buffet of goodies. I could be really bad and throw healthy living to the wind by loading up on the mac and cheese or Asian bar. Instead I sought out the vegetarian options.

kale-and-quinoa-patties-everydaydishes_com-HSitting in front of me were these cute little cakes. The sign above said Quinoa and Kale Cakes, 150 calories. At first I moved past them to inspect my other options as the word kale just brought me to bitter, muddy, indigestible memories of my attempts to eat kale. I mean, putting it in a green apple smoothie didn’t even help. But, options at the food heaven were crowding out my choices and I turned back to those cakes and bravely placed one in my clam container. The reasoning, great protein source and packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

Here’s the thing, it was delicious. Flavorful, creamy, great texture from the quinoa and perfect with some Asian vegetables and gyoza. The perfect substitute for rice or noodles, and yet it didn’t feel like a substitute.

I didn’t taste the kale. Or, maybe I did. But, the fact is, I ate the kale and I liked it.

So, I found the recipe for Wegman’s Quinoa and Kale Cakes. I also found another from Everyday Dishes. Check them out. So yummy.

Chubby Girl Tackles Dieting in an RV

Dieting is such a dirty word to me right now, but it seems like the only way to describe the day in and day out effort of losing weight and getting healthy even when traveling. Vacation season is upon us and our summer is a combination of mini RV weekend getaways and a big 2-week road-trip starting on Saturday. So, while I talk a lot about getting and staying healthy while on the road for work, I haven’t quite gotten around to the other part of living on the road.

First, living on the road. We have our RV, Bertha. She is named as such due to her big rear. Just about every weekend we pack her up and head to the beach or mountains. bertha.jpgIt’s our summer cottage on wheels. We can stay at a state campground right on a state beach (Salisbury or Scusset in MA), or head up north to the White Mountains and stay at Echo Lake in Franconia NH. On Saturday we will be trekking down to Ashville, NC and stopping along the way at state and national parks in PA, OH and KY for hiking, kayaking, and seeing the caves. A little bypass from nature to the city (Columbus) should bring biking and a beer crawl. Have you seen how many breweries are in Columbus? Then we’ll head back up and stay at a resort in VA before making it home.

Anyway, for the most part, having a built in kitchen is perfect for me. I control my meals. However, there are times when I want a vacation too and being the full-time chef is not on my list of an awesome vacation. This weekend was the great saboteur. A rainy cold day on Saturday down on the cape meant we needed to get out of the spacious, but still tight RV quarters. We headed to Fisherman’s View in Sandwich. My downfall? The manager let us order off menu to let us have a Fisherman’s Platter. It was filled with fried fish, shrimp, scallops, clams and oysters. Not to mention the fries. Even splitting this massive plate, I couldn’t even begin to figure out how many calories I ate. Add to this the Fisherman’s View Summer Ale and life couldn’t have been better.  The guilt afterward was crushing.

How did I handle this lapse of judgement and debauchery? I made sure I ran every morning and toned it down the day before and day after with clean eating. Results? I was down a 1 1/2 this week. I’m officially in the teens now!

But, I feel lucky. That was a single day. It was also right after a horrible 3 week plateau where I seriously considered calling it a draw with my body and going into maintenance mode. I’m still cringing at how I wolfed down that amazing seafood. But, let’s be clear, I regret the act. I absolutely enjoyed every bite! Too much!

It’s the road trip where things are going to get interesting. Yes, I can cook. But, there are a number days where we have 6-7 hours of driving. That is a lot of sitting. I also haven’t a clue how I will get my runs in. I’m leaning on, and looking forward to, getting out on the local trails, but I’m also nervous that I don’t know the area and a little girl out in the woods by herself could run into a big bad wolf. I’m not a big pond and lake swimmer. I like clear water and clean beach. Some places we stay have pools, but I’ve typically found RV campgrounds (even the cushiest) have highly chlorinated pools that kill my eyes (too much peeing going on in those pools).

So, this week I’m building my plan to offset the days when we do go out and have some local grub and watch our butts spread across the RV seat. Not sure how this will work, but I’ll report during and after the trip. I’m hoping I can pull off at least a pound if not two over the next two weeks. We’ll see. Wish me luck.

Need My Veggie Hash

I’m not sure why we don’t see more hash recipes out there. I don’t mean the corn beef and potato hash from your childhood breakfast. Or, even that hash always has to have potato in it. I’m talking about the throw the kitchen sink of vegetables into a hash and chow down.

My biggest problem with vegetables growing up was that they were always overcooked to the point of mush and bitterness. The ultimate was when Mom would put a can of asparagus in a dinner serving dish and call that vegetables. In all honesty, the only time I bought canned asparagus was to make kitten food which seems like the only thing canned asparagus is good for. You can’t get any grosser than that.

How I learned to love vegetables (not kale, don’t love, never will), is to cook them only as long as you have to. Keep them a bit crunchy. They keep their color, flavor, and fill you up better. So, my new food obsession is the veggie hash.

Veggie hash is basically any mix of chopped and/or riced vegetables with a chopped up veggie burger or other protein thrown in. Think:

  • Riced cauliflower, riced sweet potato, riced broccoli, corn, chopped tomato and chopped mushrooms  with chopped veggie burger mixed in.
  • Chopped beets, corn, black beans, celery, tomato, avocado and chopped egg (or fried egg on top).
  • Chopped grilled eggplant, chopped olives, chopped zucchini, chopped red onion, chopped tomato, toasted pine nuts and lean ground turkey. Sprinkle with parmesan if you like.

It’s kind of a warm twist on the boring salad. It can be completely vegan, vegetarian or the lighter side of carnivore. The best part is that this kitchen sink approach let’s you use up those leftovers. Got left over grilled veggies? Chop up and throw in. Got left over corn on the cob? Scrape down and throw in. That left over burger? Its hash tonight. And yes, those left over potatoes can be added in to.

Seasonings I tend to do simple salt/pepper/garlic (SPG), soy sauce, pesto, or some random sauce in the fridge. I can even throw in some fresh herbs like cilantro and mint for a little kick.

Anyway, for meals under 300 calories that fill you up, are healthy and tasty, can’t beat a veggie hash.

Oh Wow – Cauliflower Hash with Marinara and Fried Egg

Not sure if it was because I had just finished my workout, was hungry before my workout, or if I just outdid myself, but my dinner was sooooo gooood!

I have a confession, I have an obsession with cauliflower rice. I don’t even think of it as a substitute anymore. I’ll take cauliflower rice over real rice, couscous, pasta or potatoes any day. My other recent obsession if going full on Beyoncé but instead of putting a ring on it, I put a fried egg on it. Well, tonight, I put these two obsessions together and I ate it so fast I couldn’t even take a picture and share.  But, I will share my recipe.

Michele’s Cauliflower Hash with Marinara and Fried Egg

I made this for one, but you could easily multiply this for four based on my measurements. I am also using some leftovers but you can substitute for fresh.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 head of cauliflower (will make about 5 oz ‘rice’)
1 oz baby spinach
2 T pine nuts
1/4 cup marinara sauce (scooped from a half used jar)
1 large egg
1 1/2 oz cooked hamburger (took a quarter from a portabella swiss burger made the night before)
1 T chopped garlic
pinch kosher salt
pepper from pepper grinder

Directions:

Cut cauliflower roughly and add to food processor. Pulse until it is chopped. Add in spinach and pulse again until spinach is chopped and cauliflower is the consistency of rice.

Place pine nuts on a aluminum foil and toast in the toaster oven for several minutes until pine nuts become a toasted color. Keep an eye on them as they easily and quickly burn.

Cut up a cooked gourmet portabella and swiss burger into quarters. Take one quarter and chopped up. You can use any other pre-cooked leftover burger or simply cook up some fresh ground beef.

In hot pan, spray with cooking spray and add in cauliflower and spinach mixture. Sprinkle in the kosher salt and grind the amount of pepper you like. After about two minutes, add in garlic, pine nuts and chopped burger. Saute until cauliflower is tender and then pour onto a plate. Then add the marinara sauce over the hash.

In same pan, spray again with cooking spray and fry the egg. If you like, sprinkle egg with a bit of kosher salt and grind pepper over ( I do ). When egg is starting to brown at the edges, flip over to form a fast crust over the yolk. You want the the yolk to still be saucy.

Remove egg and lay over the top of your hash, then prick the yolk to allow it to flow over. Then eat!

Nutrition: 306 calories according to MyFitnessPal log

Ideas:

I could easily have changed out the burger for shrimp, chicken sausage, or ground turkey.

If you don’t like pine nuts, I’ve also added chopped cashews and pistachios. But I’m sure walnuts could also be good.

Chubby Girl in Philadelphia

Just got back late last night from Philly with mixed results. I started off strong before I left with a run up the hills of Hopkinton. The challenge then began by a combination of lack of preparation and going outside my typical travel routine.

philly

My daughter had college orientation so I traveled down with her with the intent on working in my hotel room for two days. Seemed simple enough. But, I decided to stay at the Hotel Monaco in Old City so I could get out later in the day and check out a few sites or do a running tour in the mornings. That was the downfall.

I learned this week how breakfast has become such a key success factor in my healthy living journey. The Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton, and Intercontinental hotels all have great buffets. I’m guaranteed a fast breakfast with lots of healthy options. Not so with Kimpton. You have to order up  to your room or at the restaurant. Where I am used to getting food in me within fifteen minutes and then running off to my day, the sit down experience meant that I either ordered up food that I wasn’t quite sure was fitting into my diet or I skipped breakfast altogether because I didn’t have time. Having ate my Skinny Girl bar I always have handy, the day I missed breakfast meant I didn’t eat until after 1:00p.

That starts the downward spiral of food obsession and hunger. The fact that I was still running these two days also meant that my hunger was stronger and my mind weaker. Day one I did a loop through the Old City and then headed to Penn’s Landing to run up and down the bridge stairs and outdoor theater stairs. Then headed to the hotel gym for upper body weights. Great workout, hunger inducing. The next day I stuck indoors to the treadmill as it was already 80 and humid in the morning. Then rushed back to my room to shower and hop on a call. Thus, when lunch and dinner rolled around, I was more focused on getting rid of my hangries and not thinking as much about good choices.

I had a bag of chips from the mini bar. I had a hot dog. I ate a turkey sandwich on a massive whole grain roll (only half, but still!). I had hash browns and a full chicken sausage along with a scrambled egg. I had two hunks of fresh mozzarella cheese (200 calories worth). I even stole some French fries from my daughter’s dinner on the way back to Boston. One of these choices in a week is one thing. To slide at almost every meal over two days was horrible. Yes, I had a crazy good roasted vegetable salad at a brewery. Yes, I grabbed a yogurt and red grapefruit at Temple U while waiting for my daughter at pick-up. Yes, I kept to my workout schedule. But, the scale told me all I needed to hear. Up a pound.

I know I’m paying for it in more ways than the scale. I had my go-to favorite this morning, an egg sandwich (Thomas Light Whole Grained English Muffin, Canadian bacon, fried egg, ultra thin swiss, and spinach). 250 calories of goodness. Instead, my stomach is in knots. I have not had enough plants in my diet and the heavy sandwich that normally satiates me as I go mostly vegan or vegetarian the rest of the day, feels like a rock. I’m also exhausted which is probably from poor eating too.

So, the chubby girl made her way back for a time. I now have to get back on the wagon and push the chubby girl off.

Philly Old City

What I will say is that my goal of doing a running tour was definitely worth it. I didn’t make it to the Rocky stairs this time, but it’s on my list for August when I send my little girl off to college. Instead, running through the historical parks, ducking into the alley where the Ben Franklin Museum was, and catching glimpses of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and a mock up of the original White House, along with a fun challenge at the river amphitheater, was well worth it.

Maybe not all was lost.

 

 

Top Ten Food Leaps of Faith

As a kid I was read Green Eggs and Ham a lot, being a very picky eater. It didn’t help me then. Not to be discouraged, I read the book to my ultra picky eater son. It didn’t help me then either. Even the Life cereal commercial where Mikey likes it, was more funny than educational on trying new foods.

As an adult and putting on a healthy lifestyle, picky eating is definitely not an option. I take a leap of faith almost every day if I want to both get the nutrition I need and not cause me to do into food boredom. For all of my love of and addiction to food, there is still a lot of stuff out there that I crinkle my nose at. Vegetables are high on that list.

So, here is my top 10 leaps of faith that turned into the love of a new food (from easier to hardest):

  1. Zucchini: It isn’t that I didn’t already eat zucchini, but it was always the slimy food. no matter how I cooked it (usually stir-fry or pan-fry) it mushed.  The spiralize craze is what helped me turn yuck attitude into a love attitude.  Zoodles only need a light pan fry so the zucchini keeps its crunch with zero slime. I also found a great recipe for veggie pancakes where zucchini is grated with onions and potatoes for a twist on latkes (Jewish pancakes). I’m now going through 3 big zucchinis a week.
  2. Eggplant: Here is another yuck vegetable that unless my mother-in-law had made it, I was not a fan. I had tried to do a vegetable lasagna in the past and slide the eggplant thin to use as the noodles, but I still wound up with too thick slices that were chewy and strangely textured. The trick was to get a mandolin. I purchased an $8 hand held that let’s me slice the eggplant really thin like real noodles and it gave me an amazing lasagna. The mandolin also helped with zucchini, and I shave off “noodles” to create eggplant and zucchini layers.
  3. Jicama chips: Over the years I tried veggie chips. In truth, unless the veggies are incorporated into a corn chip, I couldn’t handle it. But, I saw these 100 calorie bags of jicama chips and one was cinnamon sugar. So, I brought a bag home to try. I actually liked it. They look like potato chips but are a big chewier. But, once you get over the hurdle that these aren’t going to be crunchy in the same way as a potato chip you start to enjoy them.  I went back and got other flavors like chili lime. Turns out, hubby and daughter like them so I need to get more bags so I can still have a snack too.
  4. Spaghetti Squash: Long ago I had seen recipes where spaghetti squash was a substitute for noodles.  That seemed to be a fad, but recently I am bumping into spaghetti squash again.  I never really liked the taste of squash, but these new recipes looked really good – burrito filled squash, squash carborna, pizza squash, etc. Well, tried it again and now I have a spaghetti squash around all the time.  I keep my recipes low in fat and calories, but still use the calorie intense recipes for ideas.
  5. Portobello mushroom caps: These meaty things always brought me back to both the time I hated mushrooms to the awful vegetarian meals of the 70s restaurants of my youth. At a recent client advisory, there were caprese Portobello mushroom caps drizzled with balsamic glaze. It was eat this, or have the killer meal of meat, potatoes and pasta. I went with a salad and mushroom. Best thing I ever did. Loved it so much I made it for myself when I got home that weekend. SOOOO EASY!
  6. Ancient grains: How pretentious can you get, right? I am still convinced the name is more marketing gimmick than nutritional reality. But, when at Whole Foods, how can you not grab the craziest fad power food ever and proudly show yourself buying it at the checkout? So vanity wins out and it turns out that throwing these grains in soup with tons of veggies is delicious. And, if the hype is to be true, I get more fiber and nutrients.
  7. The fried egg: I never had a problem eating eggs per se, but the runny yoke thing always icked me out. Then one day at a restaurant I got a pulled pork sandwich with a fried egg on top.  I was converted. At issue is that the sandwich was during my truly chubby state and not something I can really eat now. However, this experience has carried over to healthy living and I’ll throw a fried egg on almost anything. It’s starting to be a running joke with my hubby.
  8. Kale sprouts: I’m always throwing on spinach to a sandwich rather than lettuce to add to the nutritional value. It might be small, but it makes me feel better. I recently stumbled upon kale sprouts at the market. I’m not a big kale fan but these sprouts seemed a better option to the big thick woody leaves. Now I take the kale sprout and sprinkle them on sandwiches, add to salad, and even atop seafood and soups for that extra nutritional kick.
  9. Paneer: I can’t stand tofu, so when I go for Indian buffet and see the paneer floating in sauce I have to walk on by. Last week I instead decided to try paneer out after looking it up online.  It’s cheese! Well, it was wonderful and I might even try to make it at home.
  10. Shirataki noodles: Remember when I said I can’t stand tofu? Well, it turns out that in noodle form I found a great pasta substitute.  Shirataki noodles are somewhat like rice noodles but a bit chewier. I don’t miss my pasta when I have these 10-15 calorie noodles. They are wanting on nutritional value, but when I load a ton of veggies and lean protein on top or throw into a soup, its perfect.

Living with a food addiction

I’ve lived healthy, and I’ve lived in indulgence. When traveling it is easy to indulge with the plethora of top notch restaurants and chefs we learn about in travel magazines, on foodie channels, and the internet. I have to wonder how it is that you can get through travel without manifesting a food addiction.

This chubby girl is taking hard looks at herself on this journey.  I have to be introspective and honest about when I eat, why I make my choices, and overall, what triggers bargaining.

Here is what I found…

Eating as I do is an addiction pure and simple. When I was younger and more active, I burned enough calories that it didn’t necessarily get me in trouble.  When work and life took over, my butt was in a chair more often than my feet were moving and the pounds come on easily. In my late forties and now hormones are finishing the job for me. I can take this as some life changes, but it doesn’t address my food choices. I can’t, nor should I, sit down with a freshly made box of Kraft Mac-n-cheese. Eating a single serve Uno pizza, even a Spinocolli, is another bad choice. Treating myself on work-from-home days to my local Chinese buffett trying to hide my unhealthy eating by loading up on veggie dishes and no rice or noodles doesn’t hide the fact that I still have filled half my container with dumplings, chicken fingers, and crab rangoons. Hungry coming home, no problem, McDonalds has a drive through and I can scarf down a BigMac with fries and tell myself I saved on calories and sugar by getting a bottle water to wash it down instead of a soda.

That is the bad eating, but then I go to great restaurant, especially on the road and absolutely have to indulge in the signature dish, a steak, kitchen made pasta, or the artisan breads with olive oil dipping sauce poured over grated parmesan. I make meals for the family and I’m thinking more about how delectable it can be and fancy myself as an iron chef by throwing huge chunks of butter in the pan to brown my meats.

I am addicted to food. I don’t have control. And, food is going to kill me. What addiction could be worse than one that is tied to being able to live.  I quit smoking when I was 23 (I was a social smoker), but smoking isn’t something that if you stop you would die from. Food is a necessity. I suspect that for many people with weight issues, food is an addiction for them too.

Addictions aren’t just habits. They are hardwired behaviors. Yet, diet programs (and I hear this in my WW meetings and community) talk a lot about breaking bad habits. If this is just about breaking bad habits, why is it that only about 5% of people that lose weight keep it off? Yes, there are aspects about metabolism and physiological memory. But, no commercial weight loss and exercise program out there is talking about how to overcome the brain’s wiring for food addiction and living with that.

I can’t bargain my way out of this.  I can’t use cheat points. I can’t have cheat days. I can’t think about what I will do when I hit my goal and can incorporate back in what I deprived myself of. And, this finally dawned on me when two things happened this week.

  1. A hockey mom friend asked if I ever wanted a burger. Didn’t I ever eat pizza? My WW meeting leader showed concern that I might never indulge and was that sustainable? I thought a lot about this and realized that, for me, this is the first time that I am looking at the fact that I may never eat another Five Guy’s burger if it is a trigger to my addiction. I may never have another bagel with cream cheese and lox for the same reason. Certain foods are for me what cigarettes, alcohol or drugs are for others with addictions. Abstinence is the only way to survive.
  2. My diet is verging on vegetarian. The times I do have meat, chicken or seafood it is in small amounts and very lean. There might be 2 ounces at most. My husband calls this the Asian diet. My stomach calls my new recipe concoctions heaven! So much so that the day this week when I had two little smokie links my stomach revolted with discomfort. The piece of pizza I had last week almost made me throw up I was so nauseous. The fat and grease is just too much. My digestion has changed. I am living in detox.

Sorry for the lengthy point. But, when I finally had this realization about myself it all started to fall into place and I could begin to accept the real issue I have with food and healthy living. I can approach this is a more effective way and get me to sustain healthy living.