Tag Archives: food

The Best Burger

14 Jul

  
Dan and I love entertaining especially over the summer when the BBQ is involved. Last weekend we had my sister and cousins and their kids over for dinner. When planning my grocery list and menu I decided that although all the kids are under 10 and we were making easy peasy burgers and dogs I would get some more adult toppings for our burgers. I decided on caramelized onions, balsamic roasted Roma tomatoes and arugula. The result? Totally delish! 

   
    
    
    
    
   
My Gourmet Backyard Burgers

Here’s what I did:

Dan seasoned the burger patties with Meat Magic spices and made a well with him thumb and filled the well with Worcestershire sauce. 

I took 5 Roma tomatoes and sliced them in half lengthwise, I placed them in a baking dish and sprinkled them with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, then drizzled it with about three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and then about a tablespoon and a half of balsamic vinegar. I roasted the tomatoes in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes, flipped them, then another 35-40 minutes. I then squished them lightly with the back of a wooden spoon to just break their form.

I caramelized the onions by slicing some sweet yellow onions thinly, adding them to a pan heated with olive oil. I added salt lightly and about two-three tablespoons of white sugar. I carefully made sure to move the onions around the pan so they wouldn’t burn. I cooked them over medium low heat until they turned golden brown. 

I then build the burgers. With mild cheddar cheese, the tomatoes, onions and arugula on a sweet roll. There  was no need for any sauces because the meat and toppings were all so flavorful and juicy. So excellent! 

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A Breath Of Fresh Air

18 Mar

If you’ve been reading along, you will know that I’m trying to change my relationship with food and to do that I have to retrain my brain. My automatic response to stress is to eat something, my response to sadness is to eat something, to an exciting event- to eat something in a celebratory fashion, and so on (you can see where this is going). And this is a very hard task to tackle. Today I woke up already exhausted, even though I fell asleep on the couch at 9 pm last night. The husband was out of the house as soon as my alarm went off at 6 am, the kids both woke up early making it extremely difficult to get ready and out the door on time, the cat barfed all over the place- you get the picture. So feeling rather BLAH and having to much to do to take lunch at my normal time I was drawn to go get something cheesy, maybe salty, maybe carbolicious, maybe greasy… but instead I took a short drive to a nearby regional park and got some fresh air for my lunch hour. It may be less satiating than a juicy burger but I get to feel better about my choices. 



Resetting Expectations – Clean Eating Challenge

24 Feb

So I started this year out with a big goal of losing the baby weight, but not just that: getting my strong, lean, muscular body and energy back. Unfortunately I did not do measurements when I started so it’s difficult to track my progress that way, so I rely on two factors to tell me how I am doing. 1. the scale (my natural foe) and 2. the way my clothes fit – or don’t fit… So although I have kept up with my resolution to be a better stronger version of myself this year and hit the gym with consistency each week, there were definitely some times when I fell off the wagon with eating right. Like Valentine’s Day weekend when I fell off the wagon into a ditch on the side of the road then rolled into a lake full of dark chocolate covered peanut butter sea salt caramel truffles and cream puffs… and champagne… and steak… and ok, we’ll stop there. So with that being said (and done) I began my 10-day Clean Eating Reset Cleanse on the Monday after Valentine’s Day. I am on day 9 today.

I was first introduced to Clean Eating Reset Cleanse (the name I have dubbed it) by a good friend of mine, Amy who had been given it by a friend. Now compared to The Whole 30 my little reset is kids stuff. This is not a cleanse where you eat nothing for days on end and pretend like you wouldn’t murder your closest friend for a candy bar. This is not a juicing cleanse where you get nothing solid and am supposed to be ‘totally fine’ with that. This is a 10 day return to what is good and healthy and what your body is meant to consume. It is an elimination diet of sorts and that means it’s going to be hard, you are going to miss the foods that you eat all the time, the junk, the bread, the candy, the coffee, the alcohol, etc. You are going to crave them, your nose is going to linger as pass by the bakery at the market, the neighborhood Starbucks, heck, the burger joint your family is going to eat at that you simply does not coincide with your diet plan. I have done this cleanse twice, both with great success, I felt great, I lost weight, and I learned about what eliminating some food categories from my diet could do to help me feel like this all the time.

To help me with my goals, I set myself (silent) alarms on my phone as little reminders at different times of the day, like “make good choices” (keeping myself accountable), “your willpower is stronger than your craving” (for encouragement), etc. Sometimes you just need a little affirmation to help you get past that moment or hour of wanting something that you shouldn’t have. And because I believe in the saying “A goal without a plan is just wish” so I also made sure to make myself a meal plan on excel a couple days before I began the cleanse so that I would know exactly what foods I needed to buy and what I was going to be eating, this allowed me to think outside the box on what different foods I could eat and get some variety. One of the most important things to me is not getting caught in a situation where I don’t have any ‘cleanse friendly’ foods and either lose my mind because I am starving and cannot eat anything, or worse, eat things that are not in the plan. I was able to use the plan to effectively grocery shop in advance to be sure I had all the items I need on hand, since getting to the market after working all day and commuting with two kids under 5 at their dinner time, in the dark – is pretty much my nightmare.

Rules: Never: alcohol, dairy, caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed food, wheat
Day Rule
1,2,9,10 Eat only: white meat, fish, beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, & whole grains
3,4,5,6,7,8, Eat only: fish, fruits, vegetables, & whole grains

Here is a sample of my plan: Day 3:

Breakfast Hard boiled egg(s)
Lunch carrots/celery and plain hummus, banana
Snack natural popcorn- no butter
Dinner Oven baked salmon with roasted brussels sprouts

The original cleanse called for 20 minutes of low impact exercise- such as a walk each day, but I am working out in the gym with cardio and weight lifting as well as doing some videos of no-equipment workouts I’ve found online (thanks Pinterest!)  like this Bikini Belly Bootcamp video from Pop Sugar (fitsugar.com).

For me, the processed foods (i.e. bread and crackers), candy, cookies, and cheese were by far the hardest. I have offered the cleanse plan to friends who are interested in doing something more regimented than just ‘cutting calories’ but often they cannot part with their coffee or soda habits, my very lactose intolerant friend ironically cannot part with cheese for 10 days. I’ve found though that it’s not that your body cannot take the withdrawal, it’s your mind setting up limitations for you. Do I want a grilled cheese sandwich right now? O my, yes! But I know that this is a challenge I can complete and I will.

I know that I can live without these things that are not good for my body, I know that I can be a stronger, healthier me without them. I feel proud that I have not swayed, even though I was so tempted to (with my hubby eating all the remaining  truffles and my niece selling us 5 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies). I hope that you can take a challenge, this challenge perhaps and feel as good as I do.

Here are some of the meals I have made:

Baked eggs with sauteed spinach, garlic, & red bell peppers.

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Oven baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts and a quinoa vegetable pilaf.

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Chicken seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne powder sauteed with green beans.

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The Journey Begins

28 Dec

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My lil snuggler is 3 months old now and my heart could not be full of more joy with my little family. But there is one thing that is weighing on me quite a bit and that is the extra 20 pounds I’m toting around with me. It is true that I just recently had a baby and that’s a great reason to have gained the weight and to still be carrying it around but it doesn’t make it any easier to look in the mirror or to fit in my jeans. I’m not planning on having any more kids in the future and I’m dreaming of the day when I’ll be back in my prepregnancy clothes.

I was pretty tired and frankly cold this afternoon and all I really wanted was to take a nap during the kids’ nap time but I was reminded that whether I went to the gym or took a nap- I would probably regret not doing the other, but if I went to the gym, I might wish I had taken the nap but would probably be happy I got a work out in. I took that gentle reminder to heart and laced up my new hot pink and black running shoes and hit the gym.

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The gym was delightfully empty so I had my pick of machines. It’s hard to admit just how out of shape I am, I was definitely moving at a much slower pace and had to shorten each of the times on all of the machines. Having a difficult pregnancy and skipping about 11 months worth of workouts will do that to you. I was definitely sweaty when I left and proud of it, it wasn’t the best workout or probably the most successful workout I’ve ever had but the time has come to reclaim my body and take action to improve my situation.

I’m setting new goals and am going to be implementing all the strategies that I have been successful with in the past. After recently turning 30, I know that it’s only going to get harder to stay in shape from here but I owe it to myself, my husband, and my kids to embody and promote a healthy and fit lifestyle.

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Beating my bad habits is going to be tough. As I type I’m reminding myself, ‘you’re not hungry, you’re just bored’ and resisting my very strong urge to go for the dark chip chocolate gelato that is calling my name from the freezer. I am an emotional eater, a boredom eater, an overeater, a salty food lover, a sweets lover, a carb lover, a veggie lover, a comfort food lover, you name it- I love it. So portion control and cutting out certain foods will help steer me in the right direction. I’m trying to avoid looking at this like a diet but as a lifestyle improvement. Because, let’s face it- diet is an ugly four letter word.

Good Morning Smoothie

4 Aug

Pretty much in no uncertain terms my OB is not pleased with me. She let me know that I am 7 weeks away from my due date and 2 lbs away from the maximum amount that they wanted me to gain of 25 lbs (probably would have been good for them to set up expectations prior to me getting close to that amount). So of course my husband starts joking asking if ‘eating cookies while lounging on the couch is a recommendation for that’, which she laughed at but was like ‘no, I’m pretty sure that no one recommends that.’

Ok, so I have to do better. I know that although I have gained a few more pounds than I planned I am not too far gone and whatever I do and put in my mouth now is going to effect my ability to get back into all my cute pre-pregnancy clothes which I miss dearly. It’s a little tough thinking about getting up and getting out there to get more exercise since I have hit that 3rd trimester wall of being exhausted by every activity, from things as small as walking downstairs from my office to refill my water bottle to a full hour long grocery shopping trip with my three year old. Not to mention that it is just about a million degrees in Southern California as we have started the month of August. My body is revolting against me when I even think of going outside. But I know that I need to get more exercise to be able to have a smoother delivery and recover more quickly from the birth. But besides getting outside and taking a walk or a jog, or hitting up the gym during lunch while I am at work I know that I need to still keep working hard (much harder) to sustain making healthier choices when it comes to what I am putting in my body, and no I don’t spend all day or evening eating cookies on the couch. I often have to wait to eat breakfast until I get into work since I usually choose sleep over getting up a minute sooner to do anything extra in the morning. Which means that sometimes my breakfast selections are influenced by what I see on the way to work, like fast food etc. Now I only do this maybe one to two times a week but I know it’s not good and I need to start somewhere. So I am issuing myself a little challenge to eat a healthy breakfast at home each work day this week.

To kick things off this week I made my Good Morning Smoothie. I am pretty picky when it comes to smoothies and I am definitely not on the level of most of my friends with their green smoothies. To me, I don’t really care how good whatever crazy ingredients are for you, I care about taste. But with this smoothie I am able to incorporate lots of good healthy ingredients with great antioxidants and the taste is still great! It has a great berry flavor but with a slight citrus tang and is hearty and healthy! It’s very refreshing and I especially love this smoothie in the summer even though with the use of mostly frozen ingredients I can have it any time of the year.

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Good Morning Smoothies

Ingredients:
1 cup frozen Strawberries
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 fresh banana, sliced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup 2% milk (could use another kind of non-dairy milk if desired)

Empty all ingredients into your blender and liquefy to desired consistency. *If it needs more liquid, I recommend adding more orange juice. Enjoy!

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Sickly Bickly

13 Jul

My mom used to always call us ‘sickly bicklys’ whenever we were under the weather. Unfortunately this weekend (and the good majority of all week) my whole house has been full of sickly bicklys in it’s entirety. For those of you who have never been sick at the same time as you child and spouse- you don’t know how lucky you are. Add on being 7 months pregnant to the mix and you can imagine how delightful it’s been all week. My three year old has an ear infection with a cold, which she passed to my husband and I. I must say chasing her around the house threatening to take stickers off sticker charts and toys away if she did not take her medicine was quite exciting, this of course was after bribing her with ice cream at 8 am, extra stickers, etc. thank goodness this morning was the last that she would need to take the liquid version of a Z-pack. I would love to have gotten to curl up and die (more like collapse on the couch with my sage green fuzzy blanket and watch 8 hours of tv-o’d cooking shows with some nice herbal tea) but being mama means I can’t. So we watched 3 hours of Sesame Street instead.
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Yesterday we came dangerously close to running out of tissues, I mean we were about 4 tissues away from having a shortage crisis on our hands. It was time for a grocery trip. So I mustered the troops and we made it through a sneezing, sniffling, slowly shuffling through the aisles shopping trip. I knew that I was running out of options for delivery (which are already quite limited where I live) and frankly nothing was appealing. So let’s face it, mean fall apart when they are sick, they completely shut down so I knew what my guy needed to feel better: Jewish penicillin. And while I was at that, I wanted one of my Jewish food favorites- noodle kugel.
Whenever I make someone else’s recipe I tend to change it to my tastes- which I did with these, however I have made their original recipes and they are fabulous as well!
I made Dave Lieberman’s Noodle Kugel recipe, but instead of raisins I substituted two golden delicious apples peeled and chopped and sautéed them with 2 tablespoons of butter, juice from half a lemon, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and a healthy dash or two of cinnamon until tender. Then constructed the recipe as depicted.
I love the lightly sweet creamy custard with the slightly crunchy top noodles, it’s delicious and satisfying.

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I also made the chicken noodle soup with matzo balls. I love Ina Garten’s recipe except I didn’t have the time or energy to do everything myself, so I made my own recipe which takes some help from the store with chicken stock and rotisserie chicken rather than roasting my own and taking 12 hours to produce my own stock- however if you have that availability, by all means you should use her recipe.

Chicken Noodle Soup & Matzo Balls
Recipe
48 oz Chicken stock (I used Swansons)
3 ribs celery, rinsed and chopped
5 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 small yellow onion finely chopped
Salt & ground black pepper
6 oz wide egg noodles
1/2 a rotisserie chicken, skin off and shredded
Matzo balls (I used and prepared the Manischewitz mix)

Instructions
Prepare matzo balls, remove from water and set aside in a bowl.
In a large saucepan heat chicken stock over medium heat, add cut up vegetables and bring to a simmer for appropriately 6-7 minutes. Add egg noodles and cook 10 minutes. Add shredded chicken and matzo balls and heat through.

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It may not be a perfect cure for a cold but it definitely is delicious and easy to make.

It’s Been A Long Time

5 Jun

We’ve been pretty busy in the past 6 months prepping our little house for a big new edition- a lil’ dude will be coming soon. We’ve been in each of our busy seasons at work as well so time is passing as quickly as it can when you’re growing a tiny human in your belly.

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I had a rough go at it in the first three months but fortunately the last couple have been much easier for me. However not feeling sick all day, everyday means that I have had plenty of time to do what pregnant women do best- eat. I’ve gained more than I would have liked to by now so it’s time to get better about what and how much food I’m putting in my body. Of course cooking and eating comfort food is more fun (at least for me) than ‘healthy’ food. So now it’s become important to me to try and reincorporate my healthy meals into my routine. Making eating healthy into something enjoyable is my new challenge (oh and getting the house ready for baby #2).

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Last night we grilled chicken breasts (that we marinated in Italian dressing for 30 minutes in the fridge) sliced some fresh mozzarella and Roma tomatoes sprinkled it with kosher salt and pepper and drizzled it with balsamic vinegar. I served it roasted asparagus that I had drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, and dashes of kosher salt and pepper. It’s quick, easy, doesn’t require too much prep, and is pretty healthy.

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This morning I had some leftover egg whites from a new recipe I made earlier in the week so I decided to make us an egg white scramble. I took a good assortment of vegetables in my refrigerator and chopped them into small pieces. I used carrots, asparagus, zucchini, and spinach (which I wilted whole rather than chopping).
I heated extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a medium frying pan and added the carrots, asparagus, and zucchini and sautéed them till just about tender, I added a clove of minced garlic and the spinach and sautéed until it had wilted. Once the vegetables were cooked, I added salt and pepper and poured in 8 egg whites. I cooked the eggs with the vegetables until cooked through. It was simple and light but filled me up on good stuff rather than my usual carb heavy breakfasts. This vegetable scramble can easily be made with any kind of vegetables you have on hand.

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For lunch today I made a spinach salad with sliced strawberries and sliced roasted almonds with a light honey Dijon dressing (I like Ken’s Steakhouse).