Category Archives: D.C.

Je-diet Mind Tricks

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelette

Hi, friends. It’s the weekend. Woo hoo! Finally some time to catch my breath. It’s been a busy week. Let me catch you up in a hurry. Oh, and the photo at the top is a teaser. I’ll tell you about it in a minute. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • I’ve just finished 10 days of level of one Jillian’s notorious 30 day shred workouts. So far so good. I’m trying to shock my body a bit with some new tricks in my weekly routine, so I’m replacing 20 minutes of my usual cardio with 20 minutes of shredding. I’m still working out with my trainer, and I’m not shredding on those days. I haven’t worked out without resting days in between in a long time, and I’m only planning to do it for a few weeks. I’m not out to create any overuse injuries, but I am trying to shake things up a bit. So far, I feel stronger and I have more energy. The workouts are tough, but I like a challenge. Have you shredded?? What did you think?
  • I just finished the second week of participation in a stair climbing contest at work. One of my favorite co-workers organized us into teams of five, and, each week, we compete to be the team to log the most flights (only ascending flights count). Prizes are awarded weekly. Last week, my team won the contest with nearly 700 flights!! This week, I wasn’t a very useful team member since I was out for training on Thursday and Friday, but I’m sure my team rocked it again this week anyway! They are awesome. Getting a little exercise throughout the day has given me a real boost. It has also made me realize how easy it is to park in front of the computer for hours at a time without moving. Honestly, I’ve also realized that it’s pretty easy to get up and move around too. I hope I can keep it up when the contest is over. 
  • Last Sunday, I went to the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show here in D.C. I attended Tyler’s Ultimate Food and Wine pairing, and had some very tasty nibbles.

The Stage is Set

TylerOk. So, Tyler wasn’t a nibble, but he is rather tasty. Yes? We were also treated to a visit by another Food Network favorite…

SamplingTyler has started making wine, and he was giving Paula a little sample of his wares. 😉 I had a great time at the show, and I sampled a ton of stuff at the expo too. I’m definitely going to try to go again next year!

Now that I’ve given you the quick catch up, I want to talk a bit about the title of this post “Je-diet Mind Tricks.” Over the past few years, I’ve looked for ways to make my food more enjoyable without piling on lots of extra calories. I’ve learned a number of tricks. For example, I’d always heard that serving your food on a smaller plate or in a smaller bowl would make you think you were having more. I’m sure I’d read that in magazines in the past and dismissed it with an “Oh please!! I’m way too smart for that” kind of attitude. The thing is, it does work. I have lots of small bowls, and I use them often. I like eating smaller meals off of smaller plates, and I tend to eat ice cream out of tiny little heart shaped bowls I picked up at Crate & Barrel.

My Heart is Empty?One fourth of  a cup of ice cream really does look like a lot more when it fills up my small bowl than it would if it were sitting in a little blob in the middle of one of my big oat bran bowls. These bowls are also great for little nibbles of granola, trail mix, almonds and that sort of thing. I’m a fan!

Another trick I’ve learned comes into play in my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelettes. I could just call them muffins, but they are much sweeter and more like cake. Truth in advertising, right? 🙂 Have you ever made a lightened up recipe involving chocolate chips? Often, these just seem to involve using a smaller portion of the chips you might use in a regular recipe. That’s not a bad strategy, but it can lead to a treasure hunt type scenario for the three little chips that might have made their way into your muffin. There is an easy solution to this, and I think it makes a huge difference with regard to the satisfaction factor– mini-chips!

Mini YummiesLook inside this muffin. See all those brown specks?

Chocolate Bonanza!Those are the mini-chocolate chips. There are several bits of chocolate in each bite, and a great deal of satisfaction. Employing another je-diet mind trick, I also used turbinado sugar in the topping because the crystals are bigger and add a nice crunch. I’ve made this with granulated sugar in the topping, and it doesn’t maintain its character nearly as well. It certainly seems like a bigger treat when I see the sweet little crystals and feel them crunch in my teeth. Tricky? You bet!!

I started with a recipe I’ve used for a long time, and I gave it some pretty significant tweaks. I love remaking an old favorite. The cinnamon and chocolate combo gives it a slightly Viennese twist, and the pumpkin just tastes like fall. Here’s the recipe:

YUM!!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelettes

Ingredients:

Dry Team:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup teff flour (or 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour) 

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Wet Team:

1/2 cup egg beaters (or two eggs, beaten)

8 ounces (1 3/4 cups) of canned pumpkin

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. canola oil

Team Chocolate:

1/2 cup semi-sweet mini-morsels

Topping:

1 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a 12 unit muffin tin with cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients in the “dry team.” Make a well in the center.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the ingredients in the “wet team.” Pour the wet mixture into the well in the center of the dry mixture, and mix until the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the mixture evenly among the 12 muffin cups. 

Mix the turbinado sugar and cinnamon together to form the topping, and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when pressed lightly in the center. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Based on my calculations, these come out just below 150 calories a piece. Not bad for a sweet treat in my opinion!

You could bake the batter in a 9×9 inch baking pan for 20-25 minutes if you would prefer to serve it like a cake. I kind of like the built in portion control I get by using a muffin pan, but I’ve made this as a cake many times. I’m also positive that cream cheese icing would be great on top if you were feeling more decadent or serving these to a festive crowd. 

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Do you love pumpkin as much as I do? 🙂

Now, it’s time for me to take my first run at doing level two of Jillian’s shred. Wish me luck! I may need it!! Ciao for now, y’all!

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, cooking, D.C., Fitness, Food, Pumpkin, Recipes, Squash, Uncategorized, Weight Loss Success Story

Making My ‘Scape

I finally made my ‘scape…. my garlic scape concoction! Hi!! I hope you had a great fourth of July!! My weekend has been quite busy, but I’ve had lots of fun. Here’s a recap!

Friday:

Having a Friday off is such a lovely thing. I got up, had a leisurely work out, and then I finally got around to mixing up a batch of garlic scape bean dip. You might recall that I bought some garlic scapes at the farmer’s market a long time ago, and I promised to share my favorite recipe. The original recipe was published in the New York Times last year, and the recipe can be found here. I’ve lightened it up a bit by using only 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, and I don’t think it’s missing a thing! The Times also had a very interesting article, that I really enjoyed. You can check it out here if you’d like to read more about scapes.ScapesScapes are the stems that grow out of the top of a garlic bulb, and they are the part of the garlic that would flower if left intact. They have a very strong garlic flavor, and can be used much as you would use garlic. The tips of my scapes had gotten a bit dried out from all of the time spent languishing in the crisper, but otherwise, they were good to go. 

I removed the dried out parts, and then chopped up 1/3 a cup of scapes. Those went into the food processor with 1/2 tsp. of sea salt and 1/4 tsp. of black pepper. The scapes have a pretty serious heat on their own, so it doesn’t take a lot of black pepper to spice it up. I also added the juice of a lemon. I whirred it around in the food processor until the scapes were pretty finely chopped.

BlitzThen, I added a can of great northern beans that I had drained and rinsed. I didn’t have cannellinis in the pantry, and I knew that these white beans would work just fine. Hooray for the pantry!!

BeansI continued to puree the mixture. When it was pretty well blitzed, I drizzled in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil with the processor still running and continued to puree until it was smooth.

Mmmm....I love this stuff and eat it as I would eat hummus! The scent of garlic really hits you when you take off the lid. Scapes are amazing!! If you can’t find scapes, you could make a similar mixture with a few cloves of garlic in place of the scapes. 

I put some scape dip into a La Tortilla Factory wrap (I was so excited to finally try these!!), along with some sliced cucumbers and Cabot 75% Reduced Fat Cheddar, and voila! I had  a tasty wrap to take to a little pre-National’s game tailgate. 

It's A Wrap!

I was wearing a new dress, and you can see part of it in the photo. It loved it because it had a lot of crazy colors, but… it might look like a tablecloth. 🙂 

I also made a batch of butterscotch blondies (sitting in the chair in the above photo), using a recipe from an old Cooking Light cookbook, “Low-Fat Ways to Cook Family Favorites,” and took some to share with my friends. Sadly, the recipe isn’t on-line and it isn’t my own, so the best I can do is tell you about the cookbook. It’s a good one, by the way!

Butterscotch BrowniesThe Nat’s lost to the Braves, but the game was still fun. The racing President’s are always a highlight.

Poor Teddy!Poor Teddy Roosevelt never gets a break. At least he keeps trying! Way to be a role model, Teddy!

Saturday:

Saturday morning, I went for a walk with my friend, Mrs. W, and then she and I went to the farmer’s market. I loaded up on berries this week, as well as cherries, summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, and some chive cheese. Yum.

After our walk and our visit to the market, we lunched on leftover gratin, garlic scape and white bean dip, farmer’s market cucumbers and tomatoes, and some Berry Cherry “Ice Cream.” It was a tasty lunch. I love having leftovers that I feel good about serving to a good friend. She happens to be a vegetarian too, so it was awesome that I had my vegetarian gratin to share. Yum!

Last night, I had another friend, MG, over for dinner. I “griddlered” a farmer’s market pork tenderloin, basted in a bit of barbecue sauce, along with some zucchini and yellow squash. I made some oven fries– both sweet and regular potatoes, and boiled up a couple of ears of corn.

Happy Fourth!It was a healthy dinner, but I think it had a fourth of July feel to it. Oh, Griddler. I love you! Did you eat something festive on the fourth?? I forgot to get watermelon, and I was bummed about it!

For dessert we had more blondies and more Cherry Berry “Ice Cream.” Then, we headed up to the roof of my building to watch the fireworks on the National Mall. There is a clear view of the mall and the monuments from our rooftop, and it’s fun to see all of the smaller displays along the banks of the Potomac as well. I wanted to show you my view, but I never figured out how to take a good photo. This should give you some idea:

Boom!!Directly below the fireballs, you can kind of make out the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building if you try. We have a great view, just not an awesome photographer. Ahem. 

While MG was over, I also made an overly gooey batch of brownies to repay him for watering my plants while I was in Alaska. I do have my kitchen flops, from time to time, and I shouldn’t have tried to do a minor tweak to a previously untested recipe! Silly junior mints. The brownies tasted good, but a spoon might not be a bad choice of utensil. 😦 Sorry, MG. I say– microwave them and top with with ice cream. Yes. I’d eat that for sure!

Sunday:

I woke up with a serious hankering for French toast. I haven’t had it in ages! I mixed 1/4 cup of eggbeaters, 1 1/2 T. of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, 1/4 tsp. of sugar and 1/8 tsp. of vanilla extract together. I soaked two slices of multi-grain bread in the eggbeater mixture, and then I cooked the slices in a nonstick skillet coated with butter flavored cooking spray. I had some lovely raspberries that I bought at the farmer’s market yesterday as my side dish, and there was a little bit of maple syrup on the top. I love that I could taste the vanilla in the egg mixture. I didn’t completely drench it in syrup, the way I would have back in the old days, and I like that it stayed a bit crisp as a result. It really hit the spot!

French ToastAfter my special breakfast, I decided to take Coby out for a ride on the Custis Trail. Get ready for a quick switch from French toast to feet. I thought I’d warn you. There was no good segue that I could think of for this one! 

Along the way, I did something rather ungraceful while turning abruptly onto a little wooden bridge on the trail. Yes. My toenail is purple. Coby is fine, and the rest of me escaped unscathed, but I’m just not sure what this purple toe is going to do. I guess we will wait and see. I strongly suspect the toenail will not be with me much longer. Ewww, right? I hope I didn’t gross you out too much. At least I didn’t post a photo. I thought about it. 🙂

Ok, back to food…

I wanted to use the rest of my garlic scapes as well as two eggplants I bought at the farmer’s market so I decided to make a quick stew for dinner. I had to improvise a bit to avoid taking my purple toe to the store, so I used things from the pantry. Here’s what I came up with:

Din Din“Not Going to the Store” Garlic Scape, Eggplant and Red Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

1 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

cooking spray

1/2 medium sized onion, chopped

1/4 cup of garlic scapes, chopped

2 medium sized eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (undrained)

1/3 cup dried red lentils

1 1/2 cups of water

Salt to Taste

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a deep sided skillet. Add the cinnamon, chili powder and cumin, and heat the spices, while stirring, for thirty seconds. They should become fragrant. Add the onions, garlic scapes and a few sprays of cooking spray. Cook over medium high heat for seven minutes, or until the onions start to soften.

Add the eggplant to the pan, along with 3/4 tsp. of salt, stirring well to incorporate the onions, and let the mixture cook down for eight minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the can of tomatoes, the lentils and the water. Stir well. 

Increase the heat as needed to bring mixture to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes, testing to be sure the lentils are tender. If the lentils need longer, make sure that there is still some liquid in the pan, adding a splash more water if necessary, and let it simmer a bit more. Mine were done in 20 minutes.

Give it a nibble and add extra salt, if needed, to suit your tastebuds.

Red lentils are key in this dish when it comes to using dried lentils. They cook the fastest of all of the lentils, and they will get tender in the time it takes for your veggies to nicely stew. If you wanted to substitute any other lentils, I would recommend cooking them first. If you decide to do that, I would reduce the water in the stew to 3/4 a cup.

Makes approximately 6 one cup servings

FinThis stew made a yummy dinner atop a bowl of rice, and my apartment smells amazing!! I’ve used the rest of the scapes, and my eggplants have been saved from a few more days in the crisper drawer. Hooray!

I worked out with my trainer this evening, despite the purple toe, and I think I may need to put some ice on it now. The pain wasn’t bad during class, but now it is not feeling so happy. I’m off to find an ice pack.

Thanks for making it to the end of this very long post. I had a lot to tell you about!

I hope you have a great week!! Ciao for now, y’all. 🙂

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Filed under Cooking Light, D.C., Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Griddle Me This, Griddle Me That…

…Griddle Zucchini and Sausage (low-fat…). Summer is here, and I don’t know what I’d do without my Griddler!! More about that later. Let’s begin at the beginning. Here are yesterday and today’s brekkie bowls. The only difference is the shape of the bowls.

Yesterday:

Square MealToday:

Well Rounded MealI did it, friends. I ate Mr. Banana Man. I finished off the last two crazy banana locks this morning! This is the same bowl as usual: oat bran, five grain cereal, Jay Robb’s Vanilla Whey Protein Powder, bananas and TJ’s Peanuts, Berries and Almonds. Yum! 

I snapped photos yesterday, but I didn’t have time to post. I hope you won’t mind seeing double today! I hate to waste my photos! 🙂 Yesterday’s lunch was another picnic special. Yogi would approve! I even ate outside with friends, so it was a real al fresco picnic instead of a picnic of the fake desk variety.

Hey, Boo boo...I love my picnic lunch!!! I was so glad to hear that several of you have nice memories of Yogi and Boo Boo!! What fun!

Today’s lunch was different, since I was working at home, but it shows a similar approach to lunch.

Tuna Fish and Tater Totties... sort of...What’s the same? Well, aside from the obvious mini pitas, this is another meal made up of lots of little things. I love little bits of this and that. Yes, I am a fan of tapas! Both of these lunches involve some fresh produce and some protein. That’s a typical lunch formula for me. If you think you have nothing healthy to toss into your lunch bag, consider making a little snack plate like this one!

Today’s plate includes a Dr. Praeger’s Potato Pancake. One of my mother’s favorite little lunches involves tuna salad and tater tots. I thought of her today. This is no tater tot, but it is pretty darn close! I also have some Trader Joe’s triple layer hummus on the side. If you have a TJ’s nearby, and you haven’t tried this hummus, trust me. It’s GOOD!! It’s one of my favorite hummus flavors for sure!

The tuna salad has hardboiled egg, sweet pickle relish and dijon mustard along with a tiny bit of light mayo and some Greek yogurt mixed in with the tuna for a bit of creaminess. There’s just enough mayo for a mayo flavor, but it gets most of its creaminess from the Greek yogurt. That’s one of my favorite salad tricks!

Yesterday, I snacked on a few graham crackers with peanut butter (as usual), and I also had an afternoon stroll to Tangy Sweet where I tried a bowl of their strawberry fro yo. 

Berry Yummy Fro YoSigh. I do love Tangy Sweet.

This afternoon, I had some sweet and creamy treats too. I sent some skim milk, blueberries and half a packet of Weight Watchers vanilla chai smoothie mix for a little ride in the Magic Bullet, and was rewarded with a yummy and brightly colored smoothie. 

True Blue

After that, I had a blueberry Oikos with some coconut on top. I don’t know why I’ve never added coconut to my Greek yogurt before. Umm…. yum! It was a nice addition. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I put this pair together!

Berry CoconuttyThis afternoon, I also had a tiny little snack bowl:

Snick SnackA few chocolate almonds, a smidgen of granola and a few butterscotch chips made the perfect snack close to dinnertime when I just needed a little something to tide me over until dinner.

So…. Dinner. My title pays tribute to my favorite summertime dinner making gadget: my Cuisinart Griddler. It’s great for me, since I don’t live in a place where I am allowed to have an outdoor grill. It also makes dinner preparation SUPER quick. I love grilled veggies, and this is a nice way to grill them right in the kitchen.

I took a package of TJ’s chicken sausages out of the freezer yesterday, and I had zucchini and other veggies in the crisper. Those ingredients are definitely the makings of several dinners for one. Last night’s plate:

Din DinI’m now out of my Dr. Praeger’s Potato Cakes. 😦 Last night’s dinner was good. Tonight? Well, not to get all Emeril on you, but I kicked it up a notch. Should I say it? I shouldn’t say it, right?

Bam!It has to be said. BAM! Yes, inspired by Mara, I whipped up some quick polenta for one, and it made this one of the best quickie dinners I’ve made in a long time. The whole thing was done in ten minutes!

I only made half a serving of polenta, which was plenty for me. I mixed in some cheddar, and saved some to put on top. I also topped it with some griddlered red bell pepper (yes, the same one I’ve been eating all week… it was big!) and some fresh basil from the balcony. I love polenta when I eat it in restaurants, but I really never think to make it for myself. This was so good! I can’t believe I’ve been missing out!! It took no more time than making my morning oats. Easy peasy!! It was so delicious alongside my grilled zucchini and my chicken sausage. Not to be boring, but I’m pretty sure I know what I’ll be having for dinner tomorrow evening!

I also have some visions of future polenta breakfasts. Oh yes. I have some ideas for sure. Grits are grits, right?

In addition to my evening griddling, I’ve also been diligent in my Holey Donut sampling duties. Last night, I tried the vanilla coconut donut.

Coconutty!Sorry the picture looks sort of electric. I love my blue plates, but they sometimes make for crazy photos!

Tonight, I tried the vanilla crumb donut (and a different camera angle).

D'oh-nutWhat can I say? Not surprisingly, they were both really good. I prefer the coconut donut over the crumb donut, but that’s just because I really love coconut. I’ve had to make a “one per day” rule for these little gems, but I think that just makes me enjoy them more. It would be easy to eat the whole box! “Wholey Donuts?” They are THAT good!

I tried one other new thing today:

RefrescanteThe package says that it is “like sticking a straw in a coconut.” I have tasted coconut milk straight from a coconut before, and, yes– that is what this was like. It was good, and it was refreshing. It wasn’t, however, a taste that captured my heart. I would have it again some time, but I’m not going to be making emergency runs to Whole Foods for a Vita Coco fix. It’s kind of sweet, and it does taste sort of like coconut. I don’t know. It was just a little… weird. I may have to try another one soon just to verify my feelings about it. Hmm. Yes. I think there may have to be a second taste test on this one. The jury is still out.  

This has been quite a day. I’m not really one who keeps up with celebrities, but I was certainly saddened by the loss of both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. I remember watching Charlie’s Angels as a kid, and I have nice memories of singing “We Are the World” in my elementary school music class. Along with the metro crash this week, and the turmoil abroad, the news is even more depressing than usual. Here’s hoping for some happy news in the days to come!!

I can offer you this bright spot: I want to remind you about the opportunity to save $$ on Jay Robb products purchased from his on-line store using a special promotion code exclusively for Just Sweet Enough readers. For more info, check out yesterday’s post. I have a little Jay Robb in my bowl every morning! If you can’t find these products in a store near you, this is a chance for you to save a bit of money and summon some Jay Robb’s love right to your door. 

Now, I’m going to turn off the television, and finish the book I’m reading. I love knowing that I get to start a fresh new book in the morning! Here’s wishing you a very happy Friday and lots of happy news! Ciao for now, y’all!

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Filed under Bananas, cooking, D.C., diet, Food, Frozen Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Sweet Watermelon Sorbet, Peruvian Chicken and a Leftovers Pizza

Hi! I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth, but I have been super busy! It was so nice having my parents here last week. We had a great time, and we had some yummy eats too. 🙂 I didn’t snap photos of all of my food last week, but I did take pictures of a few of the highlights. I mentioned a sweet frozen treat that we whipped up in my last post, and here it is:

Sweet Watermelon SorbetWe made a big batch of watermelon sorbet using my long neglected ice cream maker. Why haven’t I been using this kitchen gadget on a regular basis??? I vow to put it to good use this summer for sure.

A large watermelon arrived in my vegetable box last week, and if I hadn’t been expecting guests, I’m not sure what I would have done with a whole watermelon! I was so glad to have company here to help me eat it. Unfortunately, when we cut it open, we found out that it was already a bit on the “super ripe” side. It was a little mushy, and, even though we are all watermelon fans, it wasn’t very appealing. My mother suggested freezing it and using it in smoothies. Food waste avoidance definitely runs in the family! I remembered the ice cream maker lurking in the back of the cabinet, and we hatched a plan.

Sweet Watermelon Sorbet

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups of seeded and pureed watermelon

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. lemon or lime zest

The juice of one lemon or lime

Directions:

Place 1/2 cup of the watermelon puree and the sugar in a saucepan. Heat it to a simmer, and remove it from the heat. This creates a simple syrup. Stir in the lemon/lime zest and the citrus juice. Allow this mixture to cool for 20 minutes. Add the sugar mixture to the remaining 4 cups of watermelon puree. Place the mixture in your ice cream maker, and follow the machine’s instructions. It took about 30 minutes in my Cuisinart ice cream machine, and then we put it in the freezer to firm up some more overnight. 

Freeze-o-matic!Inga’s parents (you know… Inga, my favorite dog…) invited us over for dinner on Thursday evening, and we had this sorbet for dessert, along with some cute little lemon cookies from the store. Inga’s parents made some awesome steaks, tasty Israeli couscous, yummy asparagus and a nice fresh salad for dinner. It was a delicious meal– as always, and it was nice for my favorite parents to meet some of my favorite friends! 🙂 

As you can see from the photo at the top of the post, this sorbet wasn’t smooth like a sorbet that you might buy at the store. I let it sit out a bit before serving because it was quite hard, and I kind of broke it up with a heavy spoon while I was dishing it up. I think it would have been smoother if I had let it sit out a bit longer, but I was too impatient! Maybe I’ll experiment with letting it warm up a bit more the next time I make a batch. At any rate, it was a sweet, clean and refreshing end to a nice meal with family and friends. 

On Friday, I decided to take my parents to check out one of the Peruvian chicken joints in the area. We went to Super Pollo in Ballston, and it really hit the spot!

Peruvian ChickenI had 1/4 of a chicken, white meat only, with some chickpeas and fried plantains. Yum! The green sauce was nice and hot, and it was the perfect contrast to the creamy yellow sauce. I love stewed chickpeas, and the cumin flavored chickpeas might have been my favorite part of the meal. The plantains were sweet and tasted, well, pretty sinful. They were nice and caramelized, and there were even a few super sweet little crispy bits. So good! I decided to go crazy and try an Inca Kola with my meal, and I was a bit disappointed to discover that it tasted just like cream soda. I do love cream soda, but I guess I was hoping for something a bit more… interesting. 

Super Pollo has moist, tender and delicious chicken worth standing in line for, and the price can’t be beat. It was less than $25 for three plates like mine and three drinks. Around here, that’s pretty amazing! If you live in my area, this place is well worth a visit.

After our tasty lunch, we did a bit of shopping and made a quick stop at Trader Joe’s. While we were at TJ’s, I decided to grab one of their whole wheat pizza crusts (out of the refrigerator case) so that we could make a quick pizza for dinner. We did a bit of a fridge clean-out, and it made for a pretty tasty pie.

Pizza PieFirst, I put some Country Bob’s sauce on the crust. Then, I topped it with some spicy ground turkey leftover from the taco salads we had on Tuesday evening. I chopped the leftover grilled veggies from our Wednesday night meal and added them to the mix. Finally, I crowned the pizza with the rest of the ball of smoked mozzarella (leftover from grilled veggie night) and a bit of low-fat cheddar. After eight minutes in the oven on my hot pizza stone, we had a yummy dinner— and a bit of breathing room in the fridge! 

Din DinI had a great time with my parents. We didn’t really do anything very touristy during this visit, but we did see quite a bit of Arlington and Alexandria. They are pros at visiting DC now, and I guess we’ve hit most of the hot spots! I have to say that the leisurely pace they set for the week actually suited me just fine!

I enjoyed lots of delicious food during their visit, but I made plenty of reasonable choices along the way too. I really tried to make sure to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and I tried to exercise a bit of moderation when it came to the sweets. There was an impulse Moon Pie purchase that could have been a problem, but I made it through. Perhaps it was easier given the fact that I’ve never seen a Royal Crown cola in these parts. If you are a southerner, you know that those things DO go together! 🙂

I know that my posts have been super sporadic lately, and I think I’m in the process of finding a good balance. I love posting (and reading other blogs!!!), but the warmer weather has me spending more time outdoors away from my computer. Things may continue to be sporadic for awhile, but I’m still here! I hope you will keep reading! 

Now, I need to get to bed. Ciao for now, y’all, and have an excellent week!

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Filed under Arlington, D.C., Food, Peruvian Chicken, Recipes, Sorbet, Uncategorized, Washington, Watermelon, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Little Brown Box

What do you think is in this little brown box? 

Little Brown BoxIf you want a hint, just check out this earlier post. As for the specifics– I’ll get to that in a minute! 🙂

First of all, I have to say that I’ve done a pretty good job of healthy eating this week. Usually, when I’m in vacation mode (mine or my parents’…) I tend to eat waaaaay more than I should. My parents arrived on Saturday, and I’ve had some treats but not gone completely bonkers. That’s something I’m proud of! I’ve found a decent balance this week. 🙂 Woo hoo!

Yesterday’s little indulgence came in the form of a trip to The Pita House in Old Town Alexandria. I’d been once before, and I remembered how good it was. We weren’t looking to have a heavy lunch, and this was perfect. First, we started off with an appetizer:

Fool M'DammasWe shared a bowl of Fool M’Dammas, which is simmered chick peas and fava beans flavored with garlic and lemon juice topped with olive oil. We had some delicious warm pita bread to go along with it. 

Then, we each got some sort of sandwich and shared a plate of fries.

The Pita House

I ate my share of fries for sure. I think it’s funny that “back in the day,” before I started really paying attention to what I was eating, I would have shnarfed down some fries without thinking too much about them. Now, I have them so rarely, that they really are a treat. I’m happy that I’ve moved them into the appropriate category– “treat”!  Along with the fries, I had chicken shawarma, my dad had beef shawarma, and my mom had a very tasty chicken and cheese combo. Delish!

Lunch was lovely, and then we just sort of strolled our way up King Street popping into random little stores here and there. I had planned to get a cupcake at a nearby cupcake place, but realized I was too full so I decided against it. Progress!

I was still thinking about cupcakes today (… not unusual really… I do love cupcakes…), and I decided that, while I was at Tangy Sweet with my friend, G,  during lunch, I’d pop over next door to Red Velvet and get a little box of treats to bring home and share with my parents. G and I split an amazing peanut butter cup cupcake while we were there, but I forgot my camera so I can’t show you a photo. Trust me when I tell you that it was quite good! 

I can, however, tease you with this one:

Carrot Cake!Before I tell you all about the rest of the tasties in the box, let me show you the much more virtuous dinner we enjoyed before we got to the sweets. 

Din DinI grilled some green and yellow zucchini and an eggplant on the Griddler, with cooking spray, salt and pepper, and piled them up on a platter. Then, I grilled some sundried tomato and basil chicken sausages and tossed them on top. I added some roasted red peppers, for a bit of color, and my mom snipped a little sprig of basil for a garnish.

Pretty PlatterI love all the pretty colors, and I love the flavor that grilling gives to these humble veggies. If you are on Weight Watchers, I have to tell you that this kind of meal was a common one for me when I was counting points. It’s a great and filling low point meal– and it’s beautiful too! I drizzled a bit of balsamic vinegar over the top of my veggies. I love them that way!

I also toasted up the last two pieces of Trader Joe’s naan from the freezer, topped them with bruschetta sauce and smoked mozzarella, and then popped them under the broiler. Smoked mozzarella might be one of the best foods ever!! 🙂

Cheesy BreadAfter dinner, it was time to open our little brown box. Here’s what was inside:

Cupcake QuartetThe obvious chocolate one is called “b-day” and the website describes it as American yellow butter cake and milk chocolate ganache. In the bottom corner, we have “summertime,” which is a lemon cake with coconut frosting. The next cupcake, moving counterclockwise, is a carrot cake cupcake. They don’t describe it on the website, but I can attest to the fact that this is a pretty classic carrot cake. Finally, there is “key west,” in the top corner, which is a key lime cake topped with white chocolate buttercream.

We had a whole quartet of cupcakes to sample, and we decided to make a little contest out of it. We split each cupcake into thirds, and had a tasting party! My dad and I polished off each section as we went, but my mother kept a little nibble of each so that she could do a more proper job of judging. She was thorough when it came to the frosting. She took her duty seriously!

Serious JudgingLuckily, I didn’t need to taste any of them a second time. My number one choice was a very easy one to make! My mom decided pretty quickly too. My dad, well, he said that they were all good. We tried to get him to pick a favorite, but  he resisted until the very end. I’d say that his desert island cupcake choice would be a magical cupcake with carrot cake, lime cake, lemon cake and b-day cake sections in each one. Come to think of it, that might be a pretty smart way to go!

If my mother and I found ourselves stranded on the proverbial desert island and could only have one cupcake (although, I would prefer a dessert island if given the choice…), we would choose…. drum roll please…

The Champ!“Summertime”

The cake was dense and moist with a lovely citrusy tang, and the icing was rich and sweet. I like just about anything that includes coconut, and this cupcake did not disappoint. It really did taste like summertime. Not only is it my favorite of the four we sampled this evening, I’d say that it beats the peanut butter cup, red velvet, and vanilla bean cupcakes I’ve tried from Red Velvet too. 

Now, of course, I need to figure out the best way to make a healthier version of this little gem. 🙂

So, that’s what we’ve been up to the last couple of days. Tonight, we whipped up a batch of a summery frozen treat, but I’m going to save that for my next post. I hope you are having a great week, and that you’ve enjoyed a special treat and lots of healthy eats today too. 🙂 Ciao for now, y’all!

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Filed under Cake, D.C., Food, Washington, Weight Watchers

Weekend Recap

Hi, y’all! I’m having a great time with my parents, but I haven’t taken time to post since they got here. I just uploaded the photos I’ve snapped  over the last few days, and realized that I haven’t taken very many! So, get ready and hold on tight. Here’s a quick recap. Really. It will be quick. I’ve got parents to hang out with! 🙂

Saturday, I met up with some friends for brunch at Le Pain Quotidien. I need to be a “lovely lady who brunches” more often. It was such fun! You might remember that I tried LPQ for the first time back in April, and I loved it! The food was awesome, and I always appreciate places that provide me with calorie counts for Pain au Chocolat. Hee hee!  I was excited to go to LPQ again and to try a couple of different things from the menu. First, I had coffee:

CoffeeThe coffee was followed by an Apple Pear Turnover. Yes, I had dessert first!

TurnoverThen, I had the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad with avocado, bacon, Fourme d’Ambert and lapsang souchong vinaigrette. YUM!! 

Sweet Salad LoveThis salad has tons of things on it that I love, and it had very reasonable portions of each one. The dressing, which I couldn’t wait to try, had a distinctive flavor and was sweet and tangy. This salad was yummy, and filling. It was the perfect pick since I had been for a run and was HUNGRY! I needed some protein and some volume to fill me up. Check and check! 

Now, here’s where things start to get scattered. My parents’ flight was delayed a bit, and I took the opportunity to make a quick pasta salad for them to nibble on if they were hungry and for me to have for lunches this week. I’m not taking the whole week off, since I used so much leave during my recent vacation, and I needed something to go in the lunchbag. 

Pasta SaladI cooked up six servings of dried tricolor cheese tortellini that has been in the pantry for… awhile. Then, I added a small chopped onion, some chopped roasted red bell pepper from a jar (as usual!! ), as well as a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. Then, I dressed all of that with 3/4 cup of nonfat plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1 Tbsp. of rice wine vinegar and a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix. Not fancy– but quick and yummy. Sometimes that’s the way to go! I had 1/12 of this big bowl for my lunch today, and it was even tastier than when it was fresh. Using Greek yogurt in place of mayo makes a HUGE difference in the fat and calorie count, but leaves you with a delightfully creamy dressing nonetheless. If you haven’t made that switch in your salads, I want to encourage you to give it a try!

On Sunday, I woke up and decided to make a batch of muffins using one of the Southaven Farm Baking Mixes from the pantry. If you aren’t familiar with these baking mixes, let me just tell you that they are all natural, whole grain and VERY versatile. I first learned about them on the Weight Watcher’s message boards, and I’ve been a fan for a couple of years now. The mixes are unsweetened, which gives you the opportunity to decide on the type and quantity of sweetener. There are also suggestions for the moisture component including non-dairy suggestions on the back of the package.

Southaven FarmThe most basic recipe suggested on the package involves sugar, yogurt and milk. I like to mix up a box of sugar free fat free chocolate fudge Jell-o pudding and use that in place of the yogurt and milk, and then reduce the suggested amount of sugar down to 1/2 cup. I usually toss in a couple of Tablespoons of sugar free Torani syrup too, and a bit of instant espresso is a great addition to the mocha mix. I’ll admit that these muffins are pretty heavy on the artificial sweeteners by the time I’m done with them, which is not ideal. However, the smaller calorie count per muffin made it possible for me to enjoy some of the bacon that sat alongside the fruit and hardboiled eggs on the little buffet I laid out for Sunday breakfast!

BrekkieThese could be made with all natural ingredients and tweaked to suit whatever your particular dietary preferences might be. As far as I know, the mixes are only available for purchase on-line, but I think these mixes are a worthwhile purchase. In addition to the mocha flavor, I really like the cinnamon mix and the ginger spice. The ginger spice is awesome made with pumpkin in the fall!! As you can see from all of the recipes on their website, people get creative with these mixes. Have you tried them? Do you have a favorite recipe? I’d love to know!!

After our little brekkie, we decided to go and walk around at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill.  I love going to the market, which was built in 1873, and strolling through the flea market held on Sundays in conjunction with the usual array of permanent vendors selling fresh produce, exotic meats, beautiful flowers, yummy baked goods and a host of other items. There are also many craftspersons with a huge variety of cool creations for sale. It’s a lively and fun place to spend a sleepy Sunday afternoon. I don’t know why I didn’t snap more photos of the market itself, but I promise to do better next time!

When lunchtime rolled around, we decided to keep it simple, and we grabbed sandwiches from a little Italian deli. I had ham with provolone on a fluffy white sub roll. Yes, I had mayo too. I was indulging a bit, and I enjoyed every bite! 

SandwichI also got a cookie with oreo cookie in it, which I split with my parents. It was only so so. I wasn’t that impressed with this cookie in a cookie, but it was still a nice bite of something sweet. 

Cookie CookieWe also nibbled on cherries and surprisingly luscious peaches from the market.

Cherries

PeachesAfter our little al fresco lunch, we walked around a bit more and eventually found ourselves at one of my favorite little used bookstores: Capitol Hill Books. I caught my dad posing in front while we were waiting for my mother to make a couple of purchases:

Looking LiteraryThis little bookstore is packed from floor to ceiling with books, books and more books!

Just a Few Books...The books are organized, and, while chaotic, it still makes some sort of sense. The shelf tags are the key to this organizational system, and I love the humor in many of them. Check out this one:

Tag, you're it!We had a great time poking around the bookstore, and checking out the market. I think that Eastern Market may be one of my favorite Sunday destinations. I’ve never had a bad time strolling through the market on a sunny Sunday, and I have to recommend it if you are looking for something to do on a weekend in D.C. 

Those are the highlights of my weekend. As for today? Well, it was a Monday. There wasn’t anything very noteworthy, although I did make a homey dinner:

Din DinPlease ignore the hotdog. I bought a pork tenderloin at the farmer’s market on Saturday to go along with one that I had in the freezer. I forgot to thaw out tenderloin #2, and I didn’t have as much to go around as I would have liked. I decided to let my guests have most of the pork, and to supplement my tenderloin sample with a Hebrew National 97% fat free beef hot dog. They are my very favorite low fat hotdogs. I love them!

There are also some roasted turnips (LOVE) on the plate, along with their tops, which I cooked down yesterday. I’ve always LOVED turnip greens. Just the smell makes me happy! 🙂 I also steamed some red potatoes and fresh peas from the farmer’s market, and then tossed them in a bit of peppery milk gravy. I made my gravy with a small amount of butter, flour and skim milk and then seasoned it with plenty of salt and black pepper. I’m sure that bacon grease would have been tastier, but this was definitely a healthier version of an old favorite. Having my parents here must have put me in the mood for some southern fare! This was also a quick dinner to throw together once I got home. Perfect!

I worked all day today so that I can take all day Friday off. I’m working a half day in the morning, and I need to get to sleep so I can get an early start (and an early finish.)

I’ll apologize once more for my sporadic blogging. I think I’ll get back in the groove eventually! This week, I plan to enjoy my parents and not worry about it too much. I’m sure y’all understand! 🙂 Ciao for now, y’all and have a great week!!

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Filed under D.C., Farmer's Market, Food, Salad, Washington

If you like Pina Coladas… and Getting Caught in the Rain…

Hi, y’all! You know that song, right? It seemed like a good title for this post. You will see why in a bit.

Well, I’m not doing very well with keeping up with my blogging lately. That’s for sure! Other things seem to be taking a bit of priority, but I’m hoping that everything will settle down soon, and I’ll get back in the kitchen. I haven’t been cooking much lately either, and I’m missing my kitchen therapy time! Cooking is so relaxing! I’m sure that many of you would agree. 🙂

I thought I’d do a quick “two fer” of a post– two days for the price of one post. I’m not going to post all of my eats from yesterday and today, but I am going to give you some highlights.

I’ve had the same breakfast the last two days:

Gritsy BranI love my “gritsy bran!!” I have really been enjoying it with some vanilla whey Jay Robb’s protein powder, agave nectar, almonds and a crisp pink lady apple on top. I mentioned this before, but I realized, during my cruise, that I really like crisp apple or pear on top of my bowl even more than when I cook the fruit in with the oats. It’s kind of like gritsy bran apple dip! Yum!!

Yesterday’s lunch and today’s lunch have a component in common: Refried beans. I opened the can the other night when I made a frittata to feed a craving for Mexican, and I’ve been enjoying the rest of the can over the last couple of days. Yesterday’s lunch:

Lunch #1I topped a bowl of beans with some feta and salsa, and had a quick salad made of cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh basil from the pot on my balcony. I topped it with salt, pepper and rice wine vinegar. Basically… I was out of lettuce, and needed some veggies in my lunch bag. This salad was quick, easy and fresh!

I also tried yet another Clif bar, my third this week, and the Chocolate Chip bar was yummy! You might recall that I tried the Carrot Cake bar a couple of days ago, and I had the Maple Nut bar on Tuesday. If this was a race, Carrot Cake would be winning. It is still my favorite so far. 

Today’s lunch:

Bean BowlI cooked  a big batch of brown rice this morning, and topped a serving with the leftover veggies from frittata night. I sauteed twice as many as I needed on Tuesday, thinking that I’d make another frittata. Instead, I made a bowl with brown rice, veggies, refried beans, feta and salsa. I added a dash of chipotle Tabasco too for a little more flavor. Yum!

Yesterday’s snacks included a bowl of Greek yogurt with berry jam and strawberries as well as a bowl of afternoon instant oatmeal. I think you know what they look like by now. 🙂 Today’s snacks, however, were a bit more interesting. I tried two new things, and I also had a smoothie in the mix. 

SmoothSmoothie: half a pack of chocolate Weight Watchers smoothie mix, 3/4 cup of milk, strawberries and two ice cubes. 

New thing #1:

MojoI liked this Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel bar! It was a little bit salty and a little bit sweet. The best part was the peanut butter chips! Chippy goodness aside, it also packed a nice amount of protein, and made for a satisfying snack.

New thing #2:

Pop Goes the ChipI’ve been trying new salty snacks lately, partly because I’ve been trying not to eat so many sugary snacks. I tried the barbecue flavor of Pop Chips the other night while I was watching my movie. Today, I decided to try the Parmesan Garlic flavor. My opinion? These were good, but the barbecue flavor was better. These had more garlic flavor and less parmesan taste than I was hoping for. They were good, but they probably won’t be my first choice the next time I’m at the store. I do think they make for an interesting photograph!

Now, hopping back to yesterday (I really hope I’m not making you dizzy going back and forth!), I had dinner at a new place and loved it!! I met up with my friends AW and JB to grab a bit of dinner before heading to a reception for alumni of our law school. AW suggested Sandella’s, which is a cool new flat bread place at 19th and I. She mentioned that they have their nutritional information on-line. Score! I checked it out, and it looked amazing! I decided to order the Brazilian Chicken Grilled Flatbread– grilled chicken and mozzarella on top of a Brazilian sauce. Now, I know where I’ll be going if I have a craving for pizza!

Sandella's LoveI had already eaten about 2/3 of my flatbread before I remembered to snap a photo. I was having too much fun talking to AW and JB. Oops!

I’m not a fan of really thick pizza crust, so a grilled flatbread is perfect for me. Yes, I eat my pizza for the toppings. I’ve been known to just pick the cheese and other yummies off the top and leave the bread alone. Do you like your pizza crust thick and doughy or thin and crispy? 

This flatbread was thin and chewy, and the Brazilian sauce was sweet and spicy. The cheese was perfectly melted, and the chicken was nice and tender. For 459 calories, it might be a little heftier than a dinner at home, but it is certainly a better choice than many other pizza options I could choose. Plus, I got to eat the whole thing! JB got the Aloha flatbread, and when I saw the pineapple, I knew what I’d be having on my next visit. I kind of wanted to steal his, but I restrained myself. 🙂

After dinner, we started walking to the reception and got caught in a major rainstorm. AW and JB were both in suits and serious lawyer shoes, and I was wearing a silk dress and sandals. Running clothes and rain panchos would have been preferable. We found ourselves trying to huddle under a tree at one point, because we were in a park near the White House with no building for shelter, but this rain was no joke and no match for a tree. Just imagine a wall of wind and water. Umbrellas were no use, so we finally just made a run for it. Unfortunately, there was a fatality:

R.I.P.I borrowed this book from Inga’s mom and dad, and it is demolished! Ugh! Getting caught in the rain while trekking around the city is a definite hazard of city life. My work papers are all crinkly and weird too.

Getting caught in the rain was an unexpected twist to the day, which might be part of the reason it made me laugh. I’m not sure that my friends would agree, but it was actually… kind of… fun. I splashed in some puddles, and laughed and squealed as the water soaked me through. It isn’t every day that I show up to an event with the ability to wring water out of my hair, my sweater, my dress and my book. There were no pina coladas, but I had definitely earned a bit of wine. I don’t have any photos, so just imagine a plastic cup full of sauvignon blanc and you will have the picture. If you imagine me looking as if I’ve had a bucket of water poured over my head, you will have an even better idea of the scene. 🙂

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t followed by a frolic through the rain, although, it has been raining all day. I’m hoping that the rain will be over by the time my parents come to visit. Sometimes I really do like the rain, but sunshine is much better for playing tourist! I had a simple salad with grilled chicken and feta. I also whipped up a quick dressing with mustard, honey and lime juice. I got a veggie box last night so I have lettuce in the fridge again. 

SaladI had a little bowl of gelato for dessert after that. Then, I made the executive decision not to work out tonight. I made a deal with myself that I will go to the gym tomorrow night, and I’m sure I will unless last minute cleaning preempts it. Fridays are usually a night off, but it is always good to know that I have Friday in case I do need a back up day.  

I just didn’t feel like going tonight. That’s all I can say about it. My upper body, and especially my shoulders, are still quite sore from Tuesday night’s work out. I also feel sort of tired today. Going to the gym sounded like torture, and, uncharacteristically, I just didn’t go. I know I mentioned my bad workout on Tuesday night, and the fact that I don’t think I always allow time to recover properly between workouts. I’m hoping that I will feel awesome tomorrow, and I suspect I will have a better workout after another rest day anyway. 

So that’s about it for me. I’m tired and need to get to bed. I’m so glad that tomorrow is Friday! I hope to post regularly while my fam is visiting, but I guess we’ll see what happens. I can at least say with certainty that I’ll be able to spend some time in the kitchen. I’m looking forward to it!!

Here’s wishing you all a great Friday and an awesome weekend. Ciao for now, y’all!

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Filed under Beans, D.C., diet, Fitness, Food, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story