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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Dinner


I had never made a boneless New York Strip roast before, and I broke my cardinal rule of party planning (never make a dish for the first time the day of the party.)

Fortunately, as you can see above, all went well. That was a six pound roast, rubbed with my garlic-olive oil paste, onion and fresh cracked black pepper. I placed the roast in an foil baking pan, because I wanted to roast this, not grill it I preheated the grill on high for about ten minutes. My grill has four burners so when I put the pan on the grill, I turned off the two burners directly under the roast, and adjusted the remaining two so that my grill thermometer read 300F (This would be the same if you did this in your oven. If you do this in your oven, start with your oven at 500F for 10 minutes, then turn is down to 300F.)

I used a meat thermometer, the type that stays in the meat while it is cooking, and is connected to a meter outside the grill or oven. If you do any amount of roasting, either grill or oven, I really recommend that you use a thermometer like this. You can set it to ring at your desired finished temperature and you will never overcook your food again.

The roast was the main part of the meal, and the part I was most stressed about. Everything else went smoothly. Tammy would pop into the kitchen from time to time, just to make sure everything was progressing. I made a loaf of bread which finished at the perfect time for me to start roasting the carrots. They take about 25 minutes under 450F and then another 10 minutes after adding the peas to the pan.

The bowl mixed greens and chopped pears was ready to be topped with the maple-mustard vinaigrette (with bleu cheese and walnuts on the side for those who want the full salad.)

The roast had just reached it's finished temperature (143F) and I had pulled it off the grill. The carrots were about 10 minutes away from needing the peas to be added when Tammy pops in to ask "How are the carrots and potatoes going?"

Potatoes?????

Oh, no!!!!!

I dumped two pounds of fingerling potatoes onto a shallow jelly roll pan, drizzled olive oil, tosses with some salt and pepper and put it on the bottom rack of the hot oven. When I added the peas to the carrots, the potatoes were sizzling, and when the carrots were ready, so were the potatoes! Whew!

Everything works out!

I hope everyone enjoys your new year! I will still be here!

(P.S.: Next time, I will take the roast off the grill at 140F for a little closer to medium-rare.)



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Just a Quickie Today--Do You Like Good Cocktails?

Sorry, I know you are waiting for that epic multi-thousand word post from me (or not!) but today is a busy day, prepping for Christmas #2. I just have a quick note here today.

If you, or someone you love, appreciates high-quality cocktails and you need to find something new, check out Bittercube bitters.




A six pack variety box, each is a one ounce bottle with a dropper for dispensing. Each bottle will make up to 30 cocktails. A recipe card comes with it (try the "Of the Older Fashioned") as well as a link to more recipes on their website.

This is a small Wisconsin-based company who hand-crafts these wonderful products. Since I appreciate small-batch and hand-crafted items (beer, cheese, sausage, whiskey) this sort of company fits my personality.

So. If you like good cocktails, stick with Angostura. (It is a very good bitters.) But if you want incredible and unique cocktails, flavors that none of your neighbors can match, check out Bittercube.

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My podcast, Make Your Someday Today is a twice-weekly show, where we talk to successful people in all walks of life and around the world on Monday, and then on Thursday, I take a specific message from the previous guest and give my "Trevitorial", where I help you apply that message to your life. The entire purpose of the show is to help all of us overcome our challenges and fears and become the person we want to be, the person we deserve to be. I hope you give it a listen! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Caramel Cashew Chex


Caramel Cashew Chex Mix
Make a lot! Assuming 1 ounce by weight, this will make about 50 portions

12-14 ounce box of Chex, Crispix or similar breakfast cereal
12 ounces cashews
2 sticks butter (unsalted is best)
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup corn syrup
½ teaspoon baking soda
Large paper grocery bag

1.    Pour cereal into grocery bag. Add cashews.
2.    In a saucepan, melt the butter.
3.    Add brown sugar and corn syrup.
4.    Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
5.    Add baking soda, stir to mix. This will make the syrup foamy.
6.    Pour over nuts and cereal.
7.    Scrunch the bag down so it will fit into your microwave, and microwave on high for 2 minutes.
8.    Carefully stir everything, and scrunch the bag down, microwaving on high for 2 more minutes.
9.    Carefully pour mix onto buttered cookie sheets. (Wax paper does NOT work, even if buttered. Peeling shreds of paper off the candy is less fun than it sounds.) Spread into an even layer, let cool and harden.
10.  Break into small pieces and store in an airtight container, preferably not where I can get at it.

Nutritional data:
Calories:        151
Fat:                7.8g
Sat fat:           3.2g
Chol:           9.8mg
Sodium:     52.6mg
Carbs:          19.3g
Fiber:             0.5g
Protein:          2.6g

My First Ever Interview!

Yes, I know, you are surprised to find out that I have not had many interviews. You probably think that someone as awesome as myself is probably in high demand for interviews and speaking engagements. After this interview hits the Internet, Dr. Phil and Oprah are probably having their assistants find my contact information so that they can talk to me!

(Psst! If you work for Dr. Phil or Oprah, you can contact be by email from my profile page.)

However, lasts Saturday a LoseIt friend interviewed me for her blog. It was fun and considering that I am not real good at spur-of-the-moment questions (Dr. Phil, have your assistant send me your questions in advance, okay?) I think it went very well.

Here is a link to her blog post.

http://fromfluff2fit.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/how-trevor-lost-90-lbs-and-kept-it-off/

If you don't know my history, this is a good snapshot of where I was, and how I got where I am.

Next up from me: recipe for Caramel Cashew Chex mix. (Watch for it soon!)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Year's Resolutions!

Pop quiz: This year, my New Year’s resolution is: ___________

How many of you already have an answer for that question? I’m willing to guess that many of you answered that question by saying one or more of the following:

·         More Exercise
·         Better Calorie Control
·         Eat Healthier Foods
·         More Water
·         Quit Smoking

You may even have resolutions to:
·         Start That Blog
·         Write Your Book
·         Start a Business
·         Start Your Own Cold Shower Therapy Challenge (Okay, probably not that.)


Those are very good goals. I wish power and success for you to help you reach your goals in that you will start in 2014.

Wait. What?

As I write this, it is Tuesday, December 17.  The New Year is 15 days away. Why are you waiting until January 1 to start working on your resolutions, which is really only another word for “goals”?

Are you going to magically have more strength, willpower and decision-making skills in 2014 that you don’t already have? Will it be any easier to buy healthy foods in 15 days than it is now? Is 2014 the “Year of Guaranteed Success” but only for journeys that are started in that year?

Pretty ridiculous ideas, aren’t they?

No, the real reason is that right now, for the next two weeks, you will be bombarded with feasts, parties, events, meals and gifts of foods. The temptation of food will be omnipresent. You will be focused on all those activities for the next 2 weeks. Those temptations will steal time from you and you will be unable to go out and walk in the morning, or up a flight of stairs at work. You won’t have the opportunity to say “No, thank you” to that second (or third, or fourth) cocktail at the office party. You won’t have the budget to drink water instead of your daily  Caramel-Mocha-Mint-Latteccino (venti size, of course.)

Pretty ridiculous excuses, aren’t they?

You will have the same time, energy, budget in 2014 that you have right now. However, in you will be missing one thing that you currently have: 15 more days to work towards your goal, if you start right now! That is two weeks toward reaching your goal, two weeks toward creating a new habit, two weeks closer to success.

Additionally, in 2014, you probably will have an additional 1-3 pounds around your midsection from all the eating that you will do. (Great--more weight to lose!)

But here is what will happen to most people. You are going to wait to start your resolutions. And then, on New Year’s Day, you are going to wake up, and say, “Well, today is a holiday, and all the college bowl games are on, so I’ll start my resolution tomorrow.” The next day is a Thursday, and you all know that the best day to start anything is a Monday, so let’s just wait until…2015?

I am optimistic by nature, but a realist by experience. Most people quit on their goals. Many never even start. And that is too bad, because I believe that anything is achievable, as long as you start and never quit.

By the way, for any goals/resolutions such as weight loss, increased activity, smoking cessation, do you know the absolute best to start working toward that goal? No? The best time was any time before right now, so that you wouldn’t have as far to go before reaching success.

But since I don’t have a time machine, I can’t send you back into the past to let you restart, so the next best day is today. Right now.

If not now, when? If not you, who?


But even I have a resolution, effective today. I will avoid eating the delicious Caramel Cashew Chex Mix that I made last Sunday in preparation for upcoming holiday parties, and now stored in a 2.5 gallon Ziploc bags out in our freezing garage. And, like many people working toward goals, I am going to remind myself of that resolution/goal every day. (Because this morning I was unsuccessful in holding myself to this resolution.)

What is YOUR goal (not a "resolution")? When are you starting?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Green Beans and Butternut Squash


Green Beans and Butternut Squash
Serves Variable

This is a wonderful cool weather meal. It is very well-suited to pork dishes, but hearty fish (salmon), lamb or venison would be equally good.

On my podcast, Make Your Someday Today, many guests talk about need to make adaptations to changing conditions. When you make a side dish like that, you have automatic flexibility. You can prepare whichever meat you have in your freezer or is on sale at your local market. And this dish simply looks good!

Fresh green beans
Medium butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil

I didn't weigh the ingredients, so I don't know how much to tell you to use. I used about 4 cups of beans and 2 cups of squash and got 4 large portions from it.

  1. Put a large pot of water on the stove, and turn to high
  2. Peel the squash. 
  3. Cut into approximately 1/2 inch (10mm) slices. Then cut them into cubes.
  4. Trim the ends off the beans, and wash under cold water.
  5. Heat a large non-stick pan over med-high heat. Spray with cooking spray.
  6. Place squash in pan. Let them saute a bit until the first side begins to brown, then start to toss every minute or so to evenly brown them.
  7. When the water comes to a boil, place all the beans in. Prepare a colander in the sink.
  8. After one minute, pour the pot of beans into colander. (You just "blanched" those beans.)
  9. Let them drip dry for a minute, then add them to the large skillet. Continue to toss until the beans are heated through. 
  10. When done, the squash will retain its shape, but be easy to piece with a fork, and the beans will be hot, yet still have crispness. (If you want the beans softer, keep them in the water for an additional 2-3 minutes.) 
Nutritional data:
Calories:           96
Fat:               3.8mg
Sat fat:             0.6g
Chol:                0mg
Sodium:         9.4mg
Carbs:             15.8g
Fiber:                4.4g
Protein:             2.7g

This is excellent with grilled pork chops, by the way!
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My podcast, Make Your Someday Today is a twice-weekly show, where we talk to successful people in all walks of life and around the world on Monday, and then on Thursday, I take a specific message from the previous guest and give my "Trevitorial", where I help you apply that message to your life. The entire purpose of the show is to help all of us overcome our challenges and fears and become the person we want to be, the person we deserve to be. I hope you give it a listen! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Cold Showers: Why DO I Take Them?

Today was Cold Shower, Day 52, and the water temp is down to an even 48F/9C.

At a neighborhood party last Friday, a few neighbors wanted an explanation of my practice, and I tried to give them one. A few were polite and made comments of semi-understanding, but one guy was blunt and said, "No offense, Trev, but that is just stupid." We all laughed. I wasn't offended at all. I realize that my cold shower habit is "non-standard". That's okay, I can live with that.

But do you know what else is "non-standard"?

Losing 87 pounds and keeping it off for 22+ months in definitely “non-standard.” Statistics (I don’t have the reference in front of me) show that only 5% of people who achieve a weight loss goal maintain their goal weight for more than 12 months. That means those people are truly “non-standard.” Losing weight and then maintaining that loss requires a different mentality. It requires a different type of focus. It needs drive, determination, and the internal motivation to defer short-term immediate pleasure for long term success.

Am I saying that you can't lose weight and maintain if you don't take cold showers? Hell no! (THAT would be a stupid statement!) But I am saying that continued success needs a constant and definite focus, and for everyone that will take different forms. One of the LoseIt moderators, Eve, is a marathon runner (she ran in the most recent Boston Marathon.) The ability to run 26.2 miles also requires drive, determination, the willingness to accept discomfort, and internal motivation. (She has also been maintaining a successful weight loss for 11 years.) Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida in 2013. Philippe Croizon swam the English Channel in 2012 as a quadruple amputee. Erik Weihenmayer climbed Mt Everest in 2001. He is blind. Those people and many more, live the “non-standard” life. All chose a task that was truly challenging and something that most people would probably not encourage anyone else to do, let alone try themselves.

I am not comparing my success to climbing Mt Everest, nor saying cold showers are the same as the English Channel. But I am saying that to achieve goals, sometimes one must be willing to accept discomfort, difficulty and the willingness to stand up and say “I am non-standard, because I will accept nothing less than success!” My cold showers, in a small way, are my daily reminder that a little discomfort is a fair price to enjoy for ongoing success.


So, find your own personal "non-standard." Everyone can succeed. We can change that statistic to a number more than 5%. But you need to go outside the norms to achieve a goal that it not the within the norm. Embrace it. Color outside the lines—in fact, to hell with lines, draw your own picture! Use it to fuel your motivation, to keep your eyes on the goal and to never, ever quit!

What is YOUR "non-standard"? How is it helping you reach your goals? Please share your thoughts here so that others may learn from you.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Only Way To Stay On Track


That is how I planned for our Thanksgiving feast. Yes, it is old-school paper and pencil, but it worked. The right column is the menu, how each food item is prepared, the time it will take and the temperature needed. The left column is the critical "timing" plan.

Was it perfect?

Nope. You will notice that nowhere does it list "trigger smoke detector--not once, but twice". It doesn't tell me to use "bread dough that won't rise" or "under cook the pecan pie."

But it all turned out! The smoke alarms were noisy and annoying, but didn't do any damage, because in both cases they happened when I not as busy as at other times. The bread didn't rise because (as I discovered later) I mis-measured my water by about 10% which is just enough to prevent good yeast activity. And the pecan pie? That truly was unfortunate, because it is a really good pie. However, I still had a perfect pumpkin pie so all was not lost!

That's how I plan for a party. 

And that's just for something as fleeting as a party. What about life after the party?

Do you plan your life? 

Do you know what are you going to do this week? This month? This year?

Are you making progress toward your goals every day?

Is your plan written down? Is it detailed, showing you all the necessary steps? 

Do you set a timetable?

If you tend to "wing it" through life, are you as successful as you want?

But back to festivities! Next up for parties: we host the neighborhood holiday bash on December 20th, followed by the Christmas Eve brunch for the family. More planning! More excitement! Fewer smoke alarms!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Overnight No-Cook Oatmeal (Blueberry Variation)

This is the same basic recipe as yesterday except instead of bananas and almond butter, I used frozen blueberries and whipped topping.

Again, I used 1/2 cup each of oatmeal, yogurt and skim milk, and 1/4 teaspoon allspice (I omitted the cinnamon) and then after mixing those together, I stirred in 1/2 cup frozen blueberries. If I had fresh, I would have used that, instead, but sometimes you need to adapt to the current situation.

After resting in the fridge overnight.

Stirred and warmed lightly in the microwave. 
I tried both versions cold and warm, and I prefer them warmed.

With all honesty, this variation was not as good as yesterday's. I think the berries were much more tart than I had expected. When I make this again, I think I will probably use a blueberry yogurt in the first step instead of a plain yogurt and then add blueberries if needed. I will also taste it and add sugar/sweetener as needed.

However, this recipe is a great start to the day. It is a hearty breakfast, and one which is very easy to make. It is also very inexpensive, important for anyone who lives with both calorie and monetary budgets.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Overnight No-Cook Oatmeal


Overnight No-Cook Oatmeal
Serves 1

Basic recipe is equal amounts of:
Yogurt
Milk
Dry oatmeal (not instant)
Spices

I used 1/2 cup of each of oatmeal, skim milk and Fage 2% Greek yogurt, and a half teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon allspice.

Mix together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, add your fruit of choice, and (if desired) a source of healthy fats.

I used a small banana and 1 ounce (32g) almond butter.

Mix together. You can serve this cold, but I preferred it warm.

The texture is incredibly smooth. It looks like "normal" oatmeal, but it is silkier and softer from the overnight soak.

Nutritional data (for just the basic recipe, not adding the banana or nut butter):
Calories:         305
Fat:               5.6g
Sat fat:          2.7g
Chol:          9.6mg
Sodium:  100.4mg
Carbs:         40.3g
Fiber:            4.8g
Protein:       23.8g

You can certainly reduce those numbers by using only 1/3 cup of each ingredient and using fat free yogurt. I just used what had on hand.

The variations are limitless. You can use different yogurts, fruits, butters (optional) and spices. 

Note: Thanks for this recipe go out to a follower, Andrew Carpenter, for giving me this suggestion. This was an excellent and seriously simple breakfast. I will make and post variations as I try them.






Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pumpkin Pie


Traditional Pumpkin Pie
Serve 8

2 eggs
3/4 cup Splenda (or the same volume of granulated sugar)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 can (15oz/425g) of 100% pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 can (12 fl oz/360ml) evaporated skim milk
1 unbaked deep dish pie crust

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Prepare your crust.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together Splenda and spices.
  4. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light, yellow and frothy.
  5. Stir pumpkin into eggs, mix until incorporated.
  6. Add sugar/spice mix, mixing until incorporated.
  7. Gradually stir in milk, until well mixed.
  8. Pour into pie crust.
  9. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F. Bake another 40-50 minutes. The pie is finished when a knife tip inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.
  10. Serve immediately, or refrigerate.
  11. Do not freeze this pie. (The filling will separate from the crust and lose much presentation appearance--but not flavor.)
Nutritional data:
Calories:         183
Fat:                8.4g
Sat fat:              3g
Chol:         59.8mg
Sodium:      213mg
Carbs:             23g
Fiber:             0.7g
Protein:          6.1g

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How To Survive Thanksgiving (And Other Feasts) And Still Enjoy Everything!

I LOVE the Thanksgiving Feast. I always have, and always will. It features all my favorite foods in one meal. It is one very large, very delicious, seemingly never ending meal.

In the past, I would be busy all morning, with my breakfast and lunch consisting of coffee. Then I would serve our feast, which in our family is traditionally around 2pm. (That allows the hunters in the family to spend 6-7 hours in the woods and make it back in time to eat.) Then I would clean up, watch some football (American style, not soccer for you Europeans) and eat some more. I would loosen my belt, take a nap, wake up and eat some more. Then, later in the evening, I would just snack on a little more.

But why am I hungry? I clearly ate a day’s worth of calories in that first meal. In total, I probably ate 5000 calories or more (I never logged a Thanksgiving feast before I started LoseIt so I am not sure. I might have to test that theory—not actually eat it, but log the food as if I ate it.)

A lot of the reason I ate that much was the old enemy: habit. I always ate like that, as did everyone around me. It’s easy to get sucked into a mindless morass of endless eating, when you are acting and reacting mindlessly. When you live with your eyes open—living mindfully—you can break those habits.

Another problem was what I was eating, and how it works in the body. At my traditional feast, I have turkey, dressing/stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, a green vegetable like Brussels sprouts, gravy, cranberry relish, homemade bread, wine and beer, pumpkin and pecan pies, and homemade whipped cream. In other words, the meal is protein, carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs/fat, carbs, carbs, carbs/fat, and fat.

Do you see the problem? Carbs—starches—metabolize quickly, usually within 2 hours of eating. Eat a coffee, donut and OJ for breakfast and see how you feel 2 hours later. You crash and are hungry again. The same happens with this feast. Sure, I eat some protein, but most of the feast is variations of carbs. When you eat carbs, your body will pump out insulin to help move the sugars out of the blood and into your cells. (This assumes you have a healthy insulin response. I am simplifying the process a lot. I don’t want this to be a metabolic physiology lecture.) And those are burned off quickly. So about the time I have everything cleaned up and maybe watch a bit of the game, I am hungry again. Not because my body needs calories, but because the available sugar in your blood is low, and your brain only runs on glucose as its fuel. (Your body can make glucose from non-starch foods, so eating a diet high in protein and fat will still give your brain it required glucose. That is called “gluconeogenesis”.)

After you eat, you get hungry again. You will go to the leftover food, and eat more of it. But since most of it is carbs, the cycle continues. Eat, wait, and get hungry again.

How can you fight that? With proteins and fats! Make the turkey the center of your meal. Eat a larger portion of turkey, and then reduce the portion sizes of the carbs. If you make sweet potatoes don’t put marshmallows on them (ugh) but instead top them with real butter, or high quality coconut oil. When you make your mashed potatoes, add butter, or sour cream or heavy cream, or buttermilk. Adding those ingredients will make for creamy mashed potatoes, but also hide some extra fat to help mitigate the starches. (But let’s be real. If you make a mound of potatoes like Richard Dreyfus in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” you are still getting too many carbs at once.)

If you are going to serve bread, choose whole grain bread with a lot of fiber. Pies? I’m not sure how to work with the pies. Just eat a smaller slice.

Yes, I know. These tips to hide fats in foods fly in the face of calorie reduction concepts, but I am not teaching calorie reduction here. I am teaching you how to control your eating for this type of meal. You will be challenged to eat within your budget, and as long as you log it, I believe that it’s okay to exceed your budget. But you need to do it with your eyes wide open and with an understanding of eating over budget is not the same as a feeding frenzy. These tips are designed to help prevent that out-of-control binge feeding.

Here are other hacks to help with this meal and the aftermath:
  1.   Use a measuring cup or scale to accurately portion your food. Eat controlled quantities of the foods you love, even if the total calories are more than normal.
  2. Use a plate smaller than usual (instead of the common 10-11” plate, use 7-8” plates.)
  3. Fill it with your favorite foods, but only once. You really do not need a second portion, even with the smaller plate.
  4. Wait 20 minutes before serving the pie. A simple way is to announce that dessert will be served when the coffee is ready. Start making the coffee only after everyone is finished eating. While it is brewing, you can either whip the cream (ideally) or thaw some whipped topping (it works, but isn’t as good). This will take about 15-20 minutes if you time it correctly, and that is how long it takes our minds to realize that our stomachs are full. If you wait the 20 minutes, you and your guests will be less likely to want a lot of dessert.
  5. Do not serve alcohol before the meal. Alcohol will stimulate our appetite.
  6.  Do not skip breakfast. Eat a modest breakfast, but one that is high in fats and proteins. You certainly won’t need toast or cereal grains at breakfast prior to this feast. But getting enough slow-digesting proteins and fats will help prevent uncontrollable hunger, which is common when you decide to “not eat breakfast and lunch so I have room for dinner.”  That practice will frequently lead to that accidental binge, because by the time you eat, you are so hungry that self-control is lost.
  7. Log the entire meal and any other eating. The number will probably be large, but not logging the food won’t make it not affect your body. Your body logs everything you eat, whether you acknowledge it or not.
  8. Don’t serve any alcohol. The meal is caloric enough, and these are truly empty calories.
  9. After eating pack the food it in take home containers for your guests, or put it in your freezer for future meals. If it is not easily accessible in the fridge, you are less likely to graze on it.

The last thing is how to handle family issues.  When a large family gathers together, conflict is inevitable. When compared to eating habits, this is a real challenge. Following my suggestion #8 (above) is a start. Try to find a universal focus. Discussion the merits of the Affordable Care Act, or who may run for President in 2016 would not be suggested topics of discussion. In our house, the focal point will be the Green Bay Packers/Detroit Lions football game. In other homes, maybe you can go “old school” and break out a deck of cards or a board game. Seriously, sometimes lighthearted family fun goes a long way in maintaining happiness. Maybe you want to take advantage of all the hands available and decorate for seasons that you celebrate. If you are crafty (I’m not) you can use the afternoon to create holiday greeting cards as a family.

Or maybe take a nap. I will be up late tonight preparing the meal. I have a detailed timeline if what goes in the over, at what temperature and for how long. I lay out the food on our kitchen island so I know how much room I need. And I will make the inevitable last-minute grocery store run, sometime tonight before I go to bed. I NEVER go to a grocery store on Thanksgiving morning. Insanity! By the time I am done cooking and cleaning, packaging, labeling and freezing food (and sending more home with our son who is living on his own) I will be tired. And when I get tired, I get the “munchies.”


Do I have all the answers? No. But I think these ideas will help. But in the end, you need to enjoy life. And regardless of how large the meal is, it is only one meal out of the year.  That is 1/100th of 1 percent of the total main meals you eat in a year (assuming three meals a day.) One large meal will not wreck your weight plans. In fact, learning how to live with this situation will give you a greater chance to succeed in the long term, because we will always be confronted with feasts. If we panic and act improperly, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

What tips would you recommend, for this and other feasts? What worked for you this year? Let us know below!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Big Feast Is Three Weeks Away!

Thanksgiving. (The US version, for any Canadian friends who are reading this.)

My absolute, number one, most favorite meal of the year. (Okay, maybe it comes in second to any meal with my wife.) But I love cooking and eating my Thanksgiving feast.

And while I have a calorie budget and log everything I eat, this is one meal where I really don't care. Oh, I don't eat to the point where I am physically ill (like I used to) but I also do not avoid really good food. I log it all, and then move on.

What do I mean by good food?

Turkey. Stuffing/dressing. Mashed spuds. Sweet potatoes, but only dressed with some butter, no ridiculous marshmallows in mine, thank you very much. (Yes, I serve both tubers in one meal.) Gravy. Cranberry relish (probably the healthiest part of my meal.) Crusty bread with butter. More gravy. Maybe a vegetable, but something simple like steamed green beans.

And pies. Always the pumpkin pie, but lately I've added a fantastic bourbon pecan pie. And the crusts are made from scratch, using lard as the fat. The pies are served with real whipped cream or a high quality vanilla ice cream. Or both.

For beverages, I have sweet and hard ciders available, both of which go well with the meals. And coffee, hot, black and rich. I make my coffee in a stainless steel percolator (vintage early 1960s), and believe it or not, that is some of the best coffee you will taste.

But I have a dilemma. Do I roasted my turkey in the oven, like I did last year (delicious and juicy) or do I buy a smoked turkey and reheat it?

Roasting is traditional and delicious, but takes hours. The smoked turkey is equally tasty, and only needs to be warmed through.

What would YOU choose? Let me know in the comment section below.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

These Are Sandwiches?

Today is a brief departure from the usual form of my recipes. Usually I give a specific ingredient list, detailed instructions and nutritional data. Today, I am just going to give you an idea.Where you take it will be solely up to you. The possible ingredients are infinite. I will let you create your own versions.

So many people seem to be careful about their carbohydrate consumption. Others are also trying to eliminate gluten from their diet. Sandwiches, in their traditional form, are not on option on their menu.

Well, these are also not traditional sandwiches, but they are fun, easy, healthy and fit the low-carb, gluten-free needs for those diets.


Yes. Cucumber sandwiches. The first step for each is to cut them in half the long way and seed them. Then you fill them with the ingredients of your preference.

I made three different versions, just to see how they turn out. And the results are pretty good!

On the right is the smoked turkey version. It also had a small wedge of Laughing Cow cheese, some jalapeno and tomato wedges.

In the middle is the more traditional tuna salad. I make my tuna salad with a small can of tuna, two tablespoons (28g) of light mayonnaise, and about a tablespoon of minced onion. I also used some mixed greens for the lettuce.

The left is....odd. It was a challenge from a facebook reader. This is a breakfast sandwich: peanut butter and honey with bacon.

The first two sandwiches are excellent! The peanut butter one needs some work. It's not bad, but maybe some sliced strawberries instead of the honey and bacon would make it better. I will see if modifications improve it. (Trial and error is one of the foundations of creative cooking!)

Other options:
any type of sandwich meat, or shredded meat from a roast or chicken
smoked salmon or lox
any cheese, spreadable or shredded
hummus
refried beans
egg salad

Monday, November 4, 2013

Smoked Salmon, Cucumber and Yogurt Bites


Smoked Salmon Cucumber and Yogurt Bites
Makes approximately 30-40

1 loaf cocktail rye bread (2" square slices)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (non-fat, if you want, which is what I had on hand)
1 -2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced into thin wheels
Smoked salmon thinly sliced (you can also use Swedish gravadlax)
Dill weed
  1. Lay out the bread slices.
  2. Top with one cucumber wheel.
  3. Top with 1 teaspoon yogurt.
  4. Add small slice salmon (1/4 ounce).
  5. Lightly sprinkle dried dill.
Nutritional data (per piece):
Calories:       45
Fat:            1.1g
Sat fat:       0.1g
Chol:          5mg
Sodium: 66.7mg
Carbs:        4.1g
Fiber:            1g
Protein:      3.5g

Roasted Eggplant and Feta Dip


Roasted Eggplant and Feta Dip
Serves: 24 (2 tablespoon serving)

Eggplants (enough to equal about 1 pound)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup onion, finely minced
1 jalapeno chili, seeded, finely minced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely minced
1/4 cup feta cheese

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (or preheat the grill on high)
  2. Roast the eggplant (either method) turning every 5 minutes or so, until the skin begins to char the the fruit is soft.
  3. Remove and set aside to cool.
  4. When cool, slice and scrape into a bowl. Add oil and lemon juice.
  5. Mash with a fork until mixed but still lumpy.
  6. Add all remaining ingredients. Mix to combine.
Nutritional data:
Calories:        34
Fat:              2.5g
Sat fat:         0.7g
Chol:         2.7mg
Sodium:   35.3mg
Carbs:          2.7g
Fiber:           1.4g
Protein:        0.9g

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bacon-Cheddar Popcorn Salad


Bacon-Cheddar Popcorn Salad

Seriously?

I saw this in the deli at my local grocery store. I normally don't shop the deli, because there is little to choose from that meets our caloric and sodium menu plans. However, they had a healthier version of potato salad that I wanted to try. (I didn't buy it. It was made with yogurt--which I like--but in this case, the recipe wasn't very good.)

But as the deli worker was getting my sample of the potato salad, I saw a bowl of this salad. Here is a little how my brain went:

"Hm.  This potato salad is not very good. And I think I need to get...wait. Is that bacon?  And cheese?  And popcorn?  All together????"

I left the deli without potato salad but with a container of the Bacon-Cheddar Popcorn Salad in my cart.

It was really good. A definite ranch-ish flavor, built on fresh popped popcorn, a lot of bacon chunks mixed with shredded cheddar cheese and diced scallions, all in a mayo-type base.

I don't have a recipe yet. And I don't know if I want to toy with this. Maybe the secret will be to use this salad as a reward on rare occasions and just limit how much I eat. I don't know. But it is fun to find such unique combinations of favorite foods.

Now, here is my question:

How can I make that recipe, but make it healthier?  (In other words, low sodium?) I can use low-sodium bacon (that is the bacon of choice here at home), but the cheese and mayo is sodium heavy. Would it be worth making my own mayo from scratch and leaving salt out?


Friday, October 25, 2013

You Can't Do That! It's Impossible! It's Crazy!

"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure." Paulo Coelho

For those of you keeping track (you know who you are!), today was day 7 of my Cold Shower challenge.

My what????

Joel Runyon, entrepreneur and adventurist, founded a company based on the idea that nothing is impossible and to reach their goals, people need to be willing to endure some discomfort on the way to success. Part of this is a challenge to take a 5 minute cold shower, every day for 30 or more days.

Yes. I know. I am crazy. That has long been established. Now that we have that label applied and out of the way, how do I survive the shower? I fire up my iPhone, get some music pumping, and turn the shower on cold. No hot water at all. (Currently, the water temperature is about 63F/17C.)  That's the key. Start cold. Don't start warm and then turn it down. Just get in and confront it. (I would say “Man up” but as a nurse educator, I teach my students to always be gender inclusive.) Climb in. The first 30-60 seconds are terrible. Seriously. It’s cold, but it burns, too. It will take your breath away. If the phrase “WTH am I doing????” doesn’t repeatedly go through your head, then you probably don’t have the water on ice cold.

Then what? Jump around (safely). Pump your arms. Shadow box your ice cold opponent. Maybe let loose a Norse battle cry. (Or whatever.) Do whatever you need to do to get through that first minute. Because at about that time, your mind’s voice gets tired of shouting obscenities at you, and your body starts adapting. It becomes less cold. It will never get warm, but it becomes tolerable. Really. That is not my hypothermic brain talking, you really will begin to get used to it.

Actual water temperature

It is cold. It is not impossible. In fact, it is incredible how you feel when you climb out, NEVER having turned on the warm water. I am energized! I think the reason hot showers are relaxing is that they sap energy away. Cold brings it on!

But it is not about the cold water. The cold shower is the merely vehicle through which you begin to train your mind and body. Enduring the cold is about making a decision to purposely do something that is uncomfortable. We all avoid things that we know are uncomfortable. We postpone writing that paper (or grading one.) We avoid the dentist or doctor. We decide to sleep in instead going to a walk/run.

Every time we make that decision to remain comfortable, regardless of the context, it makes avoiding discomfort easier next time. And sometimes, the discomfort is the price of success. Likewise, the longterm price of immediate comfort can be devastating (increased stress on the job from an ever-increasing workload, poor health, and weight gain.)

I tell my students that you cannot learn by staying within your comfort zone. Learning and growth occurs when we step beyond what we have already mastered and risk failing at something new. I try to "walk the walk" and lead by example.

We purposely eat less than we want and less than we have in the past (which causes some discomfort) and we exercise more (which may be major discomfort). However, because we voluntarily endured discomfort, we lose weight. If you are in sales, making cold calls can be very uncomfortable, but if you don't do it, you won't sell anything. No sales means no income and that can be even more uncomfortable! We stay up late into the night when we would prefer to be sleeping so that we can finish an important assignment. We are frequently given choices, and sometimes the temporary discomfort is the price we must pay for longer term happiness.

Avoiding pain and danger makes sense, but cold water isn't painful nor is it dangerous. And it gives you the frame of mind that says "What else can I conquer today?"

Has it been a dream of mine to take cold showers? No! (What are you, nuts? I LOVE hot showers.) But I also want to grow beyond my current limits, and I want to help others grow, too. That WILL require me to step outside my comfort zone. I am training myself now so that I am mentally prepared for my future challenges. And we all experience challenges.
  • Why not start learning to face challenges head on, right now?
  • Why not show yourself that discomfort is temporary but conquering it is empowering?
  • What impossible challenge are you going to attempt today?
“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.” Tommy Lasorda

For more information, go to Joel Runyon's website:

************
By the way, I learned of Joel Runyon and his Cold Shower Challenge on Meron Bareket's "Inspiring Innovation" podcast #29 http://meronbareket.com/how-to-do-the-impossible/

If you haven't listened to Meron's podcast, you should give it a try! He interviews entrepreneurs who we may not have heard about (yet), and reveals their success stories, providing weekly life lessons that we can use to improve our lives and empower us to achieve greatness. (Yeah, I am a fan!) 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Mushrooms
Serve 6

Served here with roasted fingerling potatoes and a baked Atlantic cod.

1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts (approximately) halved it they are large
1 pound mushrooms, any type, washed and sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Seasoning of your choice (I used Penzey's Sunny Paris)

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Place the Brussels sprouts in a large Ziploc baggies.
  3. Add half the oil and the seasoning. Toss to coat.
  4. Empty the baggie into a 9x13 pan or other roasting pan.
  5. When the oven is ready, place on top shelf.
  6. Using the same baggies, place the mushrooms in it.
  7. Add remaining oil.
  8. After 15 minutes, stir the Brussels sprouts and pour the mushrooms on top.
  9. Roast for 15 more minutes, stirring half way through.
Nutritional data (1/6 of the pan, approximately 1 heaping cup):
Calories:       145
Fat:             12.9g
Sat fat:          3.7g
Chol:        13.3mg
Sodium:    20.6mg
Carbs:           7.1g
Fiber:            2.5g
Protein:         3.1g

To roast fingerling potatoes, toss with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and your preferred seasoning. (I used Penzey's California Style Seasoned Black Pepper, which is black pepper, red and green bell peppers, onion and garlic.) Place in a roasting pan at the same time you start the Brussels sprouts, tossing them half way through. The potatos will be done with the sprouts and mushrooms.

To bake the cod, spread 1-2 tablespoon butter in a 8x8 or 9x13 baking pan (depends on how much you are baking). Lay the cod on the butter in a single layer. Sprinkle with pepper (and salt, if desired.) Place in the oven when you add the mushrooms to the Brussels sprouts.

The entire meal will be done at the same time.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Poached Egg on Pulled Pork Chili


Poached Eggs on Pulled Pork Chili
A hearty breakfast for one

Pulled Pork Chili
Serves 8

8 ounces prepared pulled pork
6 medium tomatoes diced (or 2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained)
One 6 ounce can low sodium V8 (omit if using canned tomatoes)
3 cups kidney beans (I used dried beans that I cooked in my pressure cooker) You can substitute 2 cans.
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper (sweet or hot)
Spiced and herbs to taste (I like Penzey's Chili Powder

  1. Mix together in a soup pot. Heat until evenly warm.
  2. Serve alone or with other toppings like cheese, sour cream, and extra jalapenos.
Nutritional data for the chili (each serving is approximately 1 cup)
Calories:       235
Fat:               5.9g
Sat fat:             2g
Chol:        48.2mg
Sodium:       52mg
Carbs:          21.6g
Fiber:             5.9g
Protein:        23.7g

Note about the chili: this is a very simple and delicious recipe. You can alter the meats however you would like (chicken, beef, sausage, etc). I like to use this recipe as a vehicle for leftover meats. Or omit the meat altogether.

How to make a poached egg:
Bring 1 liter of water and 1/8 cup white vinegar to a rolling boil.
Turn the heat down.
Crack each egg into a small dish. Set aside. You will make one egg at a time.
When the water stops boiling, swirl the water until you get a small vortex in the middle of the kettle.
Gently and slowly pour the egg into the middle of the vortex. If done correctly, the whites of the egg will quickly thicken and solidify. (The vinegar helps speed that process.)
Cover the pot and let simmer for 4 minutes, and then remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve with toast, or as the topping for this chili. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fried Chicken with Sauteed Green Beans and Squash


Buttermilk Breaded Fried Chicken 
6 pieces

I have NEVER deep fried chicken at home before, only when I worked at a fast food restaurant 26 years ago. I don't know why I have never done it. I will certainly do it again, because that chicken was incredible. The coating was crisp and crunchy, but it did not all fall off with the first bite and the meat was tender and juicy.

6 pieces of chicken (I used skin-on thighs and drumsticks)
1 cup buttermilk (I used low fat version) 
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour 
1 tablespoon corn starch (increases the crispiness of the breading)
Seasoning of choice (I used garlic and onion powder, and black pepper)
Oil for frying
  1. Season the chicken and let sit in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  2. Pour buttermilk into medium bowl and add egg. Whisk together.
  3. Put flour, corn starch and seasoning into a shallow dish.
  4. With your left hand, pick up one piece of chicken and coat with buttermilk mix. Lay it on the flour.
  5. With your right hand, toss the chicken until it is completely coated with flour mix. Remove to a clean plate. (I really don't care which hand dips into the buttermilk and which does the flour, but if you keep your hands separate, it won't be a messy.)
  6. Preheat the oil in a deep kettle or stock pot. I used a large cast iron Dutch oven outside on the side burner of my grill. You want the oil to be 375F. If you have one, use a thermometer. How much oil depends on the size of the pan, but you need at least an inch of oil.
  7. When it is hot, carefully place 3-4 pieces into the oil, or as many that will fit leaving room between them.

  8. Turn them when they begin to get golden brown (3-5 minutes). Let the second side cook an equivalent time and remove to a cooling rack to let excess oil drip off.

  9. Serve! It goes well with a full bodied beer.

    The side dish is simply a butternut squash, peeled and cubed, with fresh green bean. I sauteed the squash in a tablespoon oil tossing frequently until just starting to get brown. Then I added the green beans (I didn't measure or weight. Use at many as you want.) Again, toss frequently, and serve when the beans are hot.

    Nutritional data: per piece of chicken, with the skin on
    Calories:         270
    Fat:              16.5g
    Sat fat:           2.6g
    Chol:       115.6mg
    Sodium:       96mg
    Carbs:           7.7g
    Fiber:            0.5g
    Protein:          22g

    Note: Use that nutritional data with a "grain of salt." Every piece of chicken can be a different size. If you remove the skin before eating, you will get less fat and cholesterol. If you use a salted spice, you will have more sodium. This recipe is more about how to do it, rather than about the exact end result.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Update on Oatmeal Muffins

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Oatmeal Muffins that my wife made. I want to tell you about a few modifications that we tried which were successful. (See the earlier blog post for the specific baking instructions.)

We made the most delicious pumpkin muffins, by swapping out the applesauce for an equal amount of pure canned pumpkin. (Not pumpkin pie mix, but 100% pumpkin.)  We also added about 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (more or less to your preference.) If you do not have a premixed jar of pumpkin pie spice, it is approximately 4 parts cinnamon, 2 parts ground ginger, and 1 part each of allspice and nutmeg.

For those this recipe, you would need approximately 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon each of allspice and nutmeg. Vary to your preferences.

Then we tried a variation that I didn't list on the earlier post. Instead of applesauce, I put 1 cup whole kernel corn in my food processor and processed it until it was smooth. Then I replaced half of the whole wheat flour with corn meal, and added onion powder, chili powder and chives. Incredible!

The next variation will be a cranberry muffin, using my fresh Cranberry Relish to replace the applesauce.

This basic oatmeal recipe is so versatile! And it is delicious, especially when warm from the oven. My wife, Tammy, did a great job when she found this recipe and mastered it!


Monday, October 7, 2013

Change is an Ongoing Process

If you want to change something, there is a defined process or set of steps. Everyone takes all the steps. Sometimes the time lag between steps is brief, and sometimes the duration of one step can be very long. Some people repeat a few steps, but every step is always part of the process. Since I--and many others--are in the "weight change" process, my examples will all refer to that decision.

Step 1: Pre-contemplation
At this point, you don't even think about a change. Life is happening and you are riding along. You rarely consider your weight, because it is not interfering with anything. Changes only occur when someone decides that an improvement can be made. At this point, you are content.

Step 2: Contemplation
Something has happened. You had an "a-ha!" moment, and it might have been an unpleasant finding. Maybe you were invited to a nice event and when you went to try on your favorite slacks, you found that you needed to coat your legs with bacon grease (why do you have so much bacon grease on hand?) and stand on the dresser while your significant other holds them open so you can jump in. In my case, my blood pressure was up to the point where the Red Cross started deferring me from donating blood. And since I worked in an ER, and knew what happens to overweight guys with very high blood pressure, I suddenly saw the problem and realized the gravity of it. In this phase, you do nothing, but you understand that something needs to happen.

Me, at about 290 pounds, in July 2006

This is a step that many people linger on. It is easy to say "I need to..." but making the decision to do something and acting on it, is much harder. And scary.

Step 3:  Preparation
At this point, you have decided what to do and have started. This can be the most exciting step! You finally are addressing the problem and very often, you quickly see initial results. Maybe you join Weight Watchers. Maybe you join a gym. Maybe you buy a bicycle. But whatever you choose, you decide a course of action and begin. In my case, I found a diet plan (The Sonoma Diet) which was very Mediterranean and looked like I could do it. I started eating the Sonoma/Mediterranean way. And I started to lose weight! In the first eight weeks, I took off 47 pounds. Then....

Step 4: Activation
This is where the action step you chose is in full swing. You are firing on all cylinders. You are making progress, and continuing to follow the plan. You may develop a support system around you, finding strength in numbers. At this point, success becomes a self-supporting machine. It gets easy. Until...you...begin...to falter.

Maybe the action plan becomes boring. The food--the same foods every day--becomes tasteless. The bike ride becomes a chore, and now the seat really starts to hurt. You start finding reasons to skip the gym. The losses slow down, and maybe you stall. These are all the mental obstacles that pop up because you have lost the excitement of the Preparation step and forgotten the "a-ha" event that sparked your Contemplation step. This is where the support system is critical. When you find yourself standing in front of the donut display, and you are thinking "will anyone notice if I lick the display case?" you can send a text message to your supporters and gain the resolve to walk past.

But without that team effort, progress can stop. Regression begins at this point, and again, without a cast of supporting characters in your life, the regression will gain speed.

April 2009, after losing 70 pounds.

For me, this did not happen until I was nine months and 70 pounds into the plan. I just sort of stopped. I thought, "Huh. I guess I'm done now." I didn't know about the next step, which is...

Step 5: Preservation
I thought that once I reached my goal, I was done! But in this step, you will continue to learn new habits to lay on top of your bad habits so that you can preserve your success. That takes time. And effort. And you need to keep your focus now, just as when you were beginning your action plan in the Preparation step.

Me? Over the next eight months, I put most of the weight back on. This is not uncommon, and was another "a-ha" moment, which made me re-enter the change process at the Contemplation step and restart from there. Again, this is a common detour that many people make. And like me, many people enter into a repeating loop at this point. I restarted three additional times over the next 13 months, until May 2011 when I found the LoseIt application on my iPod. Once I had my fourth "a-ha" I found a method that has served me well into the Preservation step.

May, 2011, back up to 265. How did THAT happen???

July 2012, about six months at my goal weight, about 185. 
I am still at or under my goal, 15 months after than picture was taken.

Step 6: Termination
This step applies to many changes, but not all. If you are building your home, eventually the builders give you the keys and you move it. Or you find that your retirement fund is large enough that you can stop working, so you turn in your retirement papers and move into the next phase of your life.

Weight loss is a different change, because we keep adapting our thought process. We don't get a hair cut just once, in the style we like and never get it cut again (unless you are my oldest son), because other changes happen around you, and your hair doesn't stop growing. We might continue to work, even into retirement, but the definition of "work" may change.

When we reach our goal weight, the Preservation step may need to become permanent. You may need to carefully consider what you eat for the rest of your life. Or, maybe you can stop being so vigilant. We are all different. Personally, I have been at or under goal weight for 19+ months, and I still measure my food and log everything I eat. It is not a burden, so I have no issues continuing. And my LoseIt app is my security blanket. I know that as long as I am able to log my foods, I can keep the weight off. I worked too hard to go backwards. Might that change? Probably. But I am in no hurry to move to the true Termination step.

Where are you? How many times have you looped back? We need to always remember that restarting is not a failure. Failure is when you never loop back and never restart the change process.

Question: What change you working on? Where are you in this process? Give us the answer below so we can all gain more confidence and success.

Also, go to my Make Your Someday Today podcast and stay current with my changes by clicking HERE.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Asparagus and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts


Asparagus and Bleu Cheese Stuffed Grilled Chicken Breast
Serves 4

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (approximately 6 ounces each)
1 cup asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 ounce bleu cheese
1 ounce cream cheese
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Spices and herbs of your choice (I used Penzey's Greek Seasoning)

  1. Preheat your grill on high.
  2. Carefully cut into the side of the chicken breast, making a pocket. Do not cut all the way through.
  3. Combine the cheeses and herbs.
  4. Spread 1/4 of the cheese mixture in each pocket. 
  5. Fill the pockets with the asparagus.
  6. Use a toothpick to keep the pocket closed.
  7. Rub the chicken with the olive oil.
  8. Clean the grill's grates with your grill brush. With additional cooking oil, a paper towel and long tongs, rub oil on the grates.
  9. Lay the chicken on your prepared grill.
  10. Let cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip and grill another 4-5 minutes.
Nutritional data:
Calories:      290
Fat:             12g
Sat fat:       4.9g
Chol:      109mg
Sodium:  176mg
Carbs:        2.3g
Fiber:         0.7g
Protein:    41.9g

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sauteed Asparugus with Shallots


Sauteed Asparagus and Shallots
Serves 4

1 pound asparagus (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 large shallots, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Trim woody ends from asparagus (either cutting the ends off, or picking up one stalk at a time, and bending it until it snap, discarding the base of the stem.)
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add asparagus. Saute for 3-5 minutes, until they get hot.
  4. Add shallots, salt and pepper. Toss ingredients occasionally. Serve when the shallots begin to brown. (If you don't have shallots, you can use onion instead. Shallots have a lighter flavor than onion, but onion would work.)
Nutritional data
Calories:       75
Fat:             3.4g
Sat fat:        0.3g
Chol:           0mg
Sodium:  2.4gmg
Carbs:         4.9g
Fiber:          2.6g
Protein:       2.7g

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Relaxing Weekend

Just a quick update. I am halfway through the first semester, and so far my students are all successful! It has been a very busy two months, but life is good.

Life is very good.

On Saturday, my wife and I went to a fantastic little place, The Bottle Room, a craft beer and wine bar. In addition to very nice food menu, they offer an astounding collection of craft beers from around the country as well as excellent imports. We both ordered warm sandwiches, but the real reason for the stop was the beverages. Tammy enjoyed a four wine sample flight, and I had sample flight of three single malt Scotches, with about 20ml poured for each.


From right to left, the Oban 14yr was the lightest. A lot of honey in the nose, with some grassy flavor with hints of citrus fruits. It was good, and I had been very curious about trying a bottle of it, but now I know that I won't bother with it.

The Highland Park 12yr was very nice with smoke in the nose and the flavor. There was definite pear flavors and it was much less sweet than the Oban. it was good, and I would consider buying it.

The youngest of the flight, the Laphroaig 10yr was like being hit in the face with a bale of smoked peat wrapped with fresh seaweed. It had a powerful smokey flavor with a medicinal character (in the brewer-speak of a beer judge, it was "powerfully phenolic" and also a distinct saltiness. It was bold. It was really "in your face." And I will buy that again, because that was incredible!

Sunday morning was a relaxing day. I decided to make Baked Egg with Feta and Spinach. Unfortunately, I didn't have any feta cheese, but I did have some crumbled bleu cheese, so I subbed out the Greek feta for some American bleu.

And discovered that bleu is too pungent for this recipe. The flavor overwhelmed everything else, even only using two tablespoons (1 ounce/28g) for a batch of four eggs.

Oh, well. It was a learning experience. Not everything will always go perfectly, and that is okay. If you never try, you won't learn and grow. As for the remaining eggs, we threw them out. In our world, if the food is not "worth the calories (or points)" then we simply won't eat it. We eat well because we only eat food that is good enough to justify expending my food budget calories.

And the next two times we go to the Bottle Room (and we will go again) I am going to try the Scotch Top Flight (Glanmorangie 12 yr, Lavagulin 16 yr and Glenlivet 18 yr), and the Bourbon Flight (Buffalo Trace, Angel's Envy and Booker's.)

Question for everyone: Of the various liquors I mentioned, which have you tried, and which is your favorite? Let me know below.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Walnut-Pear Bleu Cheese Salad


Walnut-Pear Bleu Cheese Salad with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 2

A double-handful of mixed greens
1/2 of a ripe pear, thinly sliced
1/2 of a cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon walnut pieces
1 tablespoon bleu cheese crumbles

  1. Place greens in a bowl.
  2. Add dressing, toss to coat.
  3. Divide lettuce and place on two plates
  4. Add equal amounts of pears, cucumbers, walnuts and bleu cheese to each.
  5. Note: You can make this vegan by either removing the bleu cheese completely, or replace it with something else savory. (Maybe wasabi-coated tofu crumbles? I haven't tried it, but I think it would work.)
Nutritional data:
Calories:        131
Fat:                 9g
Sat fat:         1.9g
Chol:       12.5mg
Sodium: 154.1mg
Carbs:          8.4g
Fiber:           2.4g
Protein:        5.8g

Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 2

2 tablespoons white balsamic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Nutritional data:
Calories:        104
Fat:                 7g
Sat fat:            1g
Chol:            0mg
Sodium:   62.5mg
Carbs:        10.1g
Fiber:              0g
Protein:           0g