Sunday, December 30, 2012

Resolutions, anyone?

If you've got 'em, I want to hear them!

I'm really not one for resolutions ordinarily. I think that the word carries a certain stigma that you'll drop off what you say you'll resolve to do within a few weeks. However, that being said, I do think the new year is a time to refocus on goals, and revive motivation toward accomplishing fitness challenges.

So, I'm going to try to make a few this year:
  • I resolve to get back into the habit of logging everything I eat on Myfitnesspal.com! While I log onto the site everyday, and usually log my breakfast and lunch, I've started to not log dinners or close out for the day. It's a bad habit and I'd like to break it and get back into my logging routine.
  • I resolve to floss daily! I floss a few times a week, but I really should do it daily
  • I resolve to cook more! Life has been very busy, but my recent Indian/tofu experience made me remember just how much I love to cook. Plus, I feel better about what I'm eating when I cook it myself.
  • I resolve to get back to the gym! Between college, and getting all the paperwork sorted for my apartment, there was a period of months that I wasn't working out on a regular basis -- and it sucked! Now that I have a gym at my disposal, I need to get excited and motivated about using it!
  • I resolve to have a bedtime! I get up early, so in theory, I should be going to bed early. Nope, doesn't normally happen. Even though I've graduated, I'm still living my college hours -- and it's really a disservice to my body. In the new year, I want to be asleep by 11, so that I'll have a good 8 hours of sleep when I get up at 7. 
Anyone else want to share?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Seeking Advice: Weight Watchers?

Hey fellow Fitness Enthusiasts!

First of all, Happy Holidays to all. I had a lovely Hanukkah with my friends and family. And per tradition, my  family celebrated Christmas by having cheese fondue. Usually. we make it from a mix. This year, however, we made homemade fondue from a recipe. It was different than previous years, but also quite good.

Second, I turn to my readers for advice. As you all know, I lost twenty pounds by using the free online fitness/nutrition logging website, myfitnesspal.com. Now, I love MFP, and clearly, I have advocated the website several times on this blog. However, I have been plateaued for several months, and I'd like to break this plateau.

I've been thinking of joining weight watchers. Can anyone give me some of their experiences with the weight watchers program? Pros? Cons? Anecdotes? I'd love to hear them all.

Wishing everyone a continued happy and healthy holiday season,

Stephanie

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chocolate Cures Coughs

Apparently, Professor Lupin's home remedy does have some validity! 

According to a recent study by the British National Health Service, theobromine, a chemical compound commonly found in chocolate is very effective cough suppressant -- and is believed to be more effective for treating coughs than codeine!

The study says that unsweetened dark chocolate has the highest concentration of theobromine -- eating just two ounces will help with that cough. Sweetened dark chocolate, though, requires six ounces.

Milk chocolate has the least amount of theobromine. You're going to have to consumer a pound -- twice daily for the cough suppressant effects. 

Alyn Morice, MD, the study's leader adds a word of caution: "Eating chocolate on a daily basis may have other unwanted effects, including weight gain."

.........

Say it ain't so. 

My verdict? It's a fun fact, but I'll stick with Ricola  cough drops.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Trying my hand at Indian

Hey foodies!

So awhile ago, I reported that I was afraid of trying Indian. Well, I still haven't tried it, but I'm attempting to make it.

I know, I know, I make no sense. Surely my first Indian experience would be better if I tasted food made by someone who actually KNEW what they were doing. But I'm in an adventurous experiment mood, so I'm going to go for it.

Tonight's menu will consist of: Roasted Brussels Sprouts...... not really "Indian" but we all know I'm an addict.... and Pan-seared Tofu and Chick Peas in a canned Tikka Malasa sauce.

I'll let you know how it tastes. Perhaps my attempt at Indian will be a bridge into actually trying the real stuff.


UPDATE:

SO SO GOOD!

I seared the tofu so it had a little crust on it, added the chick peas so that they came to temperature, and then added some tikka masala sauce. Obviously not the most complicated dish, but definitely a nice bridge into Indian food!



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fat People Only -- "Skinnies" Need Not Apply



Thoughts, guys? Would you work out in a gym like this?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving!

Wishing all of my readers a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

I'll be posting my menu and pictures later this evening. As always, let me know if you'd like the accompanying recipes.

We all have so much to be thankful for. I hope you are all spending the day with your friends and family.

UPDATE:

I really should have predicted that I'd be too busy eating to take real pictures.

However, here are some shots of the Naked Pear and Cranberry pie I made. It was quite delicious, but I think in the future, I may use Granny Smith Apples and Raspberries instead.





Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Recipe: Naked Pear and Cranberry Pie

This is not an original recipe. Rather, it's one that I'm reposting from a blog I follow -- http://www.snack-girl.com/. The author is absolutely brilliant, makes great food, and we share a very similar food philosphy.

She posted this recipe a few days ago, and I am absolutely trying it this Thanksgiving. It looks positively divine -- and super healthy!


Naked Pear and Cranberry Pie Recipe

(serves 8)
  • 4 large ripe green pears (Bartlett)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup sugar plus 2 teaspoons
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 375. Slice two pears and layer in bottom of pie plate. Add ½ cup cranberries. Slice the last two pears and layer onto the cranberries. Add final ½ cup cranberries to the top.
Mix the ¼ cup sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a small bowl with the water. Pour over the pie. Cover the pie with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar, and bake for 10-20 minutes uncovered or until pears are tender.
Can be served warm or room temperature.
106 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0.0 g saturated fat, 27.9 g carbohydrates, 18 g sugar, 0.5 g protein, 4.0 g fiber, 2 mg sodium, 3 PointsPlus


Friday, November 16, 2012

Hostess Closes its Doors!

Official Hostess Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Hostess Brands is closing its doors for the last time
New York, New York, United States – November 16, 2012 – Today, CEO Gregory Rayburn announced that Hostess Brands will have to close down its entire company due to bankruptcy. The company has been battling with bakery strikers and cannot keep up their operation without those employees contributing to production. More information on the continual battle with strikers can be accessed here:Strike Information.
“The closing will result in Hostess’ nearly 18,500 workers losing their jobs as the company shuts 33 bakeries and 565 distribution centers nationwide, as well as 570 outlet stores. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union represents around 5,000 Hostess employees”. For the entire story, please visit: Hostess Brands Closing.
The Hostess empire will be auctioned off to the highest bidder throughout the next several months. The president believes that this will be able to give the popular Hostess products, such as Twinkies and Wonder Bread, the opportunity to still be available to consumers. That choice, however, remains with the winner of the auction.
At the close of business on Friday, Hostess released numbers indicating they had been the Number 2 manufacturer of bread in the entire country. A list of other top bread producers can be found at Top Bread Producers. Being a top bread production company helped Hostess reach nearly 2.5 billion dollars in income throughout the last year.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jennifer Lawrence, Khloe Kardashian, and the Ideal Female Body

I don't know about you, but I LOVED Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. I think the woman is incredibly talented, and very down to earth. 

And now, I have one more reason to love her: Jennifer Lawrence REFUSES to diet for movie roles. In fact, by Hollywood's standards, she is obese -- but that doesn't faze her at all. 

In a recent interview, Lawrence was quoted saying, "I’m considered a fat actress. I’m Val Kilmer in that one picture on the beach. I eat like a caveman. I’ll be the only actress who doesn’t have anorexia rumors."

In a world where young girls are looking up to anorexic models as pillars of beauty, I find this particularly refreshing. 

Lawrence's newest film is the Silver Linings Playbook. According to celebrity news, the director of the film, David O. Russel, told Lawrence to "eat normally" to prep for shooting -- so that she would look like a normal person. 

We all know that Hollywood and the Media hold this image of the ideal woman as stick thin with insane curves, and we all have heard about the reports that these images can cause self esteem problems in young girls -- but who is really to blame for this stigma, AND who has the power to end it?

Another celebrity, Khloe Kardashian, gets flack all the time for her weight. Prior to her X-factor debut weightloss, Khloe went on the Ellen show:


A size 6 and she's being called fat?? According to 2012 statistics, the average American woman weighs 162.9 lbs and is a size 14. So why are the women of the media held to such stricter standards of beauty, physical fitness, and perfection?  Something needs to change when it comes to America's perceptions of the ideal female.  

I'll leave you to ponder with another quote from Jennifer Lawrence's recent interview. Perhaps this new generation of young Hollywood talent will follow in her footsteps. 

I’m never going to starve myself for a part. I keep waiting for that one role to come along that scares me enough into dieting, and it just can’t happen. I’m invincible. I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner.’ That’s something that I was really conscious of during training, when you’re trying to get your body to look exactly right. I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong, not thin and underfed.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Breaking My Plateau in November!

Hello Fellow Fitness Enthusiasts!

As I mentioned earlier in this year, I worked very hard to lose 20 pounds over the course of 9 months. Yes, it was slow going, and yes, there were ups and downs, but I am so proud of myself for this achievement.

That being said, I have been plateaued for the last few months. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to shift any more weight. It's been incredibly frustrating.

Part of the reason why, I believe, I've been plateaued is because my workouts have been limited. I have a weak knee that often pains me, and since I was in the middle of moving, it didn't make sense to join a gym. However, I reasoned that weight loss is 80% diet, and 20% exercise, so I should still be losing. And yet, I wasn't. The scale yo-yo'd, but only 2-3 pounds in either direction.

It was time for a change.

Since the beginning of the month, I have started to do free weight strength exercises for 20-25 minutes every morning in hopes of both toning up my body, and breaking through this very frustrating plateau. I alternate upper body, lower body, and then an intense abs/back day. Right now, I am just using a set of 5 lbs dumbbells  and my own body resistance.

I invite anyone to join me in this endeavor, and I plan to post before and after pictures at the end of the month.

If you'd like me to post specific exercises to follow, just let me know.

Good luck to anyone who is joining me!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scream for your Calorie Burn!

Happy Halloween, fellow foodies! I'm not going to tell you to stay away from candy and treats, but if you are trying to lose weight, indulge in a smart way. 

If you're looking for a different sort of burn this 'Fright Night', try a scary movie --a new study has shown that watching scary movies and horror films burns calories!

According to the study, you burn around 200 calories, just by watching a scary movie -- unless you're already desensitized to the gore and adrenaline rush.

A 90-minute horror movie can burn 113, which is about equivalent to the calorie burn that a 150 pound person would experience walking at a leisurely pace for 35 minutes. 

The study found that the scarier the movie, the more calories were burned.  Top three calorie-burning horror flicks were as follows:


  1. The Shining -- Average viewer burned 184 calories
  2. Jaws -- Average viewer burned 161 calories
  3. The Exorcist -- Average viewer burned 158 calories
According to researchers:

     "Each of the ten films tested set pulses racing, sparking an increase in the heart rate of the case studies. As the pulse quickens and blood pumps around the body faster, the body experiences a surge in adrenaline. It is this release of fast acting adrenaline, produced during short bursts of intense stress (or in this case, brought on by fear), which is known to lower the appetite, increase the Basal Metabolic Rate and ultimately burn a higher level of calories"

Happy Halloween, Foodies!



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Recipe: Spinach Bake

We made this recipe parve on Rosh Hashanah by using soy sour cream and soy cheese. It was great parve, and I tend to think it was taste incredible with the regular varieties as well.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 2 TBS dry onion soup mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) carton light sour cream
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella or Monterrey jack work best)
To Make:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • combine spinach, onion soup mix, soup cream, and water chestnuts.
  • Pour mixture into baking dish (we used a 9 x 9 pan)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes
  • Take out of the oven and sprinkle cheese over the top. Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts.

Serves 12
Each serving: 62 calories, 5 g carbs, 2 g fat, 4 g protein

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fittest Man of All Time

Michael Phelps has officially been crowned Men's Health's "Fittest Man of All Time" -- beating out fitness legends like Jack LaLanne, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Lee.

Here's a completed list of the top 50 picks. Do we agree, folks? Disagree?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dirty Kitchen Secrets

The social news site has been ablaze with one user's response to the question: "What's your secret that could literally ruin your life if it came out?"

Take a look at the net's most popular response:



I had to laugh -- because I do a similar fake! 

My signature dish is one I learned from my father -- a cheesey rice and vegetable dish, made by adding ingredients from a box of Near East rice pilaf.

However, I REGULARLY pass it off as a risotto! 

haHA!

What are your dirty kitchen secrets? I'd love to hear!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Recipe: Moroccan Tagine

Sorry for my absence. Here is the recipe one reader, Valerie, requested from my "Scenes from our Rosh Hashana Table" Post. Please note that my family does not cook with a lot of salt, so please adjust to your own taste preferences. We also made quite a quantity of meat and vegetables, so the meat was stewed in our tagines, and the vegetables were cooked in the same spices, but in the crock pot. Before serving, we combined them.

Key Ingredient:

  • Stew meat (we used 5 lbs but the recipe works better when you use 1-3 lbs), cut into 3/4" chunks or cubes


Spice Ingredients:   

  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp chili powder 
  • 2 TBS olive oil 
  • pinch of salt (if meat is not kosher, i.e., was not salted before purchasing, use 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon date syrup (if no date syrup, use 1 tsp brown sugar)
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup semi-sweet wine (rose or red, type and amount up to you)


Vegetables (cut into chunks 3/4" cubes or so):

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut
  • 2 or 3 parsnips
  • 2 or 3 potatoes
  • 2 or 3 carrots
  • 1/2 lb cauliflower (optional)
  • 1 large onion, thin sliced to allow for easier caramelization


Fruit:

  • handful of raisins
  • 10 dried apricots, quartered
  • handful of dried cranberries (optional)



To Make:


  1. Marinate the meat overnight in a mixture of cumin, coriander, chili powder, olive oil, minced garlic, pepper, salt, cinnamon sticks (break up into small pieces). Use similar marinade to marinate the vegetables -- which can be cooked on the low setting of a crockpot while tagine meat is stewing. 
  2. Heat tagine pan on medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil.  When it is hot and coats the tagine bottom, add onions.  Cook until caramelized, then remove from tagine. 
  3. Add beef and reserved marinade.  Cook until lightly browned all over.  Add the now caramelized onions.  Cover and cook on lowest heat setting for 1 1/2 hours.  
  4. Add wine and date syrup.  Recover tagine and cook another 1 hour on lowest heat setting.  Add raisins, apricots and cranberries.  Recover tagine and cook another 30 minutes at lowest heat setting.  
  5. Combine with crock pot vegetables in a large serving bowl.  Dish can be served as a full main course with couscous  
A picture of a tagine courtesy of Google Images.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Scenes from our Rosh Hashana Table

Listed below is a menu (and pictures) of the food we served over the past two days. Please let me know if you'd like recipes.


  • Appetizers
    • Homemade Gefilte Fish
    • Matzoh Ball Soup
    • Homemade Lentil Soup 
  • Main Courses
    • Herb Roasted Chicken 
    • Tagine-stewed Beef
    • Whole Roasted Turkey 
    • Round Roast Beef
  • Side Dishes
    • Tagine stewed root vegetables, apricots, raisins and cranberries
    • Parve Spinach Bake
    • Roasted Vegetables 
    • Glazed Carrot Coins
    • Roasted Ranch potatoes
    • Noodles 
    • Sauteed mushrooms and onions
  • Desserts
    • Fresh Fruit
    • Vanilla cake with vanilla icing
    • Chocolate cake
    • Chocolate silk pie
    • Apple cake
    • Selection of teas and coffees












Sunday, September 16, 2012

Shana Tova!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy Jewish New Year. Over the next few days, I'll be posting pictures from my family's table. Please let me know if you'd like me to post recipes for any of the dishes featured.

-- Stephanie

Saturday, September 8, 2012

To Tip or Not To Tip

I was a waitress in a bar for a semester in college. Without a doubt, it was the most miserable time I've ever had. Not only because it was a rather questionable job, but also because my income was dependent on someone else's attitude and perception of my service and speed. Because of that experience, I try to be a very good tipper -- the hard part is knowing how much to tip for other services.

Huzzah (once again) for internet info graphics!

http://visual.ly/tipping-guide

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

McDonald's to Open Vegetarian Location

For the first time, fast food giant McDonald's will be opening up a vegetarian location. According to new reports, the meatless Golden Arches will be located in Northern India, near the Golden Temple in the Sikh city of Amritsar.

The fast food chain has previously been sensitive to Hindu and Muslim culture in that part of the world - altering their menu to substitute chicken instead of the beef or pork in items. 

What do you think of the Veggie McDonald's? Would you try it?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Weird One-Job Kitchen Gadgets


(From Buzzfeed.com) 


I invite you to add any others you've seen at the bottom.  The list begs the question, whatever happened to good, old-fashioned knives??


Pineapple slicer. Don't slice your 'napples like a Neanderthal.

Pineapple slicer. Don't slice your 'napples like a Neanderthal.

Source: amazon.com

Another pineapple slicer

Another pineapple slicer
Source: amazon.com

Strawberry stem remover, duh.

Strawberry stem remover, duh.
Source: amazon.com

Single cherry pitter

Single cherry pitter
Source: amazon.com

Multi-cherry pitter, for a true pitboss.

Multi-cherry pitter, for a true pitboss.
Source: amazon.com

Banana slicer

Banana slicer
Source: amazon.com

Banana slicer - this one slices whole 'nas at once.

Banana slicer - this one slices whole 'nas at once.
Source: missionrs.com

Peach wedger. Not for apples, mind you, just peaches.

Peach wedger.  Not for apples, mind you, just peaches.
Source: amazon.com

Avocado pitter/slicer combo. Dang those pits!

Avocado pitter/slicer combo. Dang those pits!
Source: amazon.com

Mango splitter. What, you split your mangoes with a knife? Get the fuck out of my office.

Mango splitter. What, you split your mangoes with a knife? Get the fuck out of my office.
Source: zappos.com

Strawberry slicer

Strawberry slicer
Source: amazon.com

Starberry slicer with irresistably cute strawberry shape:

Starberry slicer with irresistably cute strawberry shape:
Source: amazon.com

File folder-style tomato slicer. I guess you still have to use a knife like a rube, though.

File folder-style tomato slicer.  I guess you still have to use a knife like a rube, though.
Source: amazon.com

Lettuce knife - I have NO idea what this even means

Lettuce knife - I have NO idea what this even means
Source: amazon.com

Dessert knife. Wait, isn't this just the lettuce knife in pink?

Dessert knife.  Wait, isn't this just the lettuce knife in pink?
Source: amazon.com

Tomato huller. Did you know tomatos had hulls? Me neither, but I'm disgusted by them now.

Tomato huller.  Did you know tomatos had hulls? Me neither, but I'm disgusted by them now.
Source: amazon.com

Melon tickler

Melon tickler
Source: amazon.com

Herb scissors. Not regular scissors. For herbs.

Herb scissors. Not regular scissors. For herbs.

Kiwi guard. Protect your 'wis.

Kiwi guard.  Protect your 'wis.
Source: amazon.com

Lemon wraps. Like a condom for your lemons.

Lemon wraps.  Like a condom for your lemons.
Source: amazon.com

Lemon squeezer. Actually, I have one and use it all the time. Great tool.

Lemon squeezer.  Actually, I have one and use it all the time. Great tool.
Source: amazon.com

Lime squeezer. No, you cannot just use your lemon squeezer, idiot.

Lime squeezer.  No, you cannot just use your lemon squeezer, idiot.
Source: amazon.com

Orange squeezer. Do I have to explain everything?

Orange squeezer.  Do I have to explain everything?
Source: amazon.com

Apple corer/medieval torture device. This won't look weird at all on your countertop.

Apple corer/medival torture device.  This won't look weird at all on your countertop.
Source: amazon.com

Spiral vegetable slicer. Only a jerk would cut straight carrot slices.

Spiral vegetable slicer.  Only a jerk would cut straight carrot slices.
Source: amazon.com

Jalepeno corer

Jalepeno corer
Source: amazon.com

You'll need the jalepeno corer for your special jalapeno popper roasting rack, of course

You'll need the jalepeno corer for your special jalapeno popper roasting rack, of course
Source: amazon.com

Grapefruit sectioner. Get rid of your serrated spoon, n00b

Grapefruit sectioner. Get rid of your serrated spoon, n00b
Source: amazon.com