Posted by: Hallie | August 4, 2009

Papa Protein and Baby Protien

Happy Tuesday (is it really only Tuesday…ugh). Thanks to everyone who commented (and read, you lurkers you!) my last post about my new diet/fitness adventure. Today I was really challenged at work because there were donuts everywhere (literally…we had a busy day in museum-land so a coworker brought like, 15 dozen donuts for the break rooms on every floor) as well as chocolate cake.

Normally a fresh donut or good cake goes in my “worth it to splurge” list (along with Mexican food and homemade peanut butter cookies and…). I didn’t have either (ok…I might have picked a speck or two of glaze from the bottom of the box. Am I the only one who does that?) so I was happy that I kept my goals in mind every time I walked past the goods.

Then I went to dinner with a friend and while she got sushi I had plain chicken with vegetables (although I asked for steamed and I think there was some oil used. boo). And I had a great workout this morning…lots of abs!

Some of you asked to see my daily eats, and I have to figure out how I can do that. The plan I’m on is the intellectual property of the trainer I’m working with. But I think I can do things like, “a day in the life” or “packing eats for work” (which is way more involved than it used to be!), things like that. Sound good?

One of my requirements to join this program was to purchase certain supplements. I was worried they were going to give us some scary carb-blocker caffeine-stack thing, but it turns out I was already using the supplements he required, like fish oil and a daily multivitamin. He doesn’t like the generic Costco kinds I use but I’m not about to waste what I already have.

I buy new protein powder, which Mitch and I were using for smoothies (and he still does). I bought a type called J.S. Nitro Nitro XP because that’s what was recommended. It’s NOT cheap, so hopefully it’s awesome. While I was waiting for it to come in the mail, I picked up some Pure Protein Vanilla Whey Powder at Target. I think my new protein powder is going kill the Pure Protein in its sleep. Check it out:

DSCF3001

(Sorry the photo is less than…good. I can’t decide if I need a new camera or photography lessons. But how pretty are heirloom tomatoes? They needed some time in the spotlight.)

Doesn’t the XP look so hard-core? I mean, it’s 400% better than other kinds. That’s totally provable right? It says so right here:

DSCF3003

That made me laugh. All I care about is that is tastes better than the Pure Protein, which is fine for smoothies, but not so hot on its own, the way I have to have it most of the time.

Do you use protein powder regularly or occasionally? What is your favorite brand? How do you use it? (I need to know since now my house has 8 lbs of it.)

Posted by: Hallie | August 2, 2009

Getting to my “After” photo

I’ve been hinting for awhile about starting a new diet/fitness program. This past week, I began this new adventure, so I wanted to share it with my blog buddies. This is a bit of a long post (per usual, right?) because I feel like I really have to explain it.

I joined a program called the Body Transformation Club after hearing about it from a friend who went through the program and lost weight and increased confidence (things I wouldn’t mind for myself!). I applied for the program a few months ago and didn’t get selected, but they called me a few weeks ago and said if I was still interested, I was in.

Basically, this personal trainer/former bodybuilder here in town runs bootcamp-type workout and nutrition programs and has been doing so for years. A few years ago, he began working with fitness-equipment and product manufacturers who needed testimonials for their products—I guess they aren’t allowed to lie on those infomercials where the girl says, “I lost 15 pounds and 20 inches using the {insert product/contraption} and I feel great.” But as well all know, there’s no way any of those crazy machines or plans will work without a strict diet and cardio/strength program as well. So that’s what this trainer does. Finds the “before” people and gets them to the “after” results, 12 weeks of hard work and dedication later.

Honestly, I was NERVOUS to start this program. I am no stranger to a good workout, but given my past issues with restrictive eating, I was really afraid that the diet I was to follow would bring up some old demons. I was also afraid I’d be hungry all the time, because he would want us to go on some crazy low-carb plan.

I’m happy to report that 4 days into the program, I’m feeling great! The workouts are a lot of fun (think “30 Day Shred” style of cardio mixed with weights). I’ve been working out at 6 AM, and it’s nice to have my workout done with. The sessions are tough and I’m definitely working hard, but I think my fitness base has prepared me well for the sessions. (Oh and the product I’m supposed to demo? Let’s just say it’s not something I would ever use normally or suggest you buy, but since I’m getting $1500 worth of fitness and nutrition support for nada, I’ll play nice).

While I don’t love having a very specific meal plan (I have to turn in a food log every day), I haven’t been hungry because I’m eating 6 times a day, almost every day. Also, the meals are fairly balanced. Higher in protein and lower in vegetables than I’d probably choose for myself, but I think a few months of this type of eating won’t leave me vitamin-deficient (especially since the plan includes supplements like multivitamins, flax, and fish oil). I’m even trying new things, like pita pizzas:

pita pizza

This was lunch today. Whole wheat pita, 1 oz lowfat mozzarella, 1.5 oz shrimp, two tablespoons of tomato sauce, and some sliced onion and oregano/red pepper. A small meal, yes, but it’s only supposed to sustain me for 2.5-3 hours. The problem with the plan for me is that it calls for a fair amount of cottage cheese and eggs, neither of which I particularly care for. The nice thing is, though, that we’re allowed to make swaps as needed, so I’ve been eating lots of Greek yogurt for protein snacks. Twist my arm on that one 😉

The rebel in me, and the know-it-all, is fighting the urge to question everything I’m told to do, but I’m giving it a shot. This is a 3-month program, and this trainer charges a lot to join his programs under regular circumstances. It’s intense (I have to go in every other week to get weighed and body-fat tested) but I feel like since I was chosen for this program, I owe it to the trainer, to the sponsors, to the other girls who were picked, and most of all to me to give this all I can. This trainer has helped so many people, that I feel honored to be given this opportunity.

I know I won’t be perfect on my diet 100% of the time, but I’m hoping to lose one pound a week for 12 weeks. I’m proud of my success in this short time so far (example: I’ve switched completely from coffee to green tea! Wasn’t even too hard.) These next 3 months are going to be a true test of what I can do when I put my mind to something.

Wish me luck; I’ll keep you updated on my progress/thoughts on this experience! And if you have any questions about my plan, please email me at healthytwists@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to answer.

(Sidenote: I’m not sure what yet this will do to the blog, since my cooking will be rather boring while I’m on this program. I think I’m going to test out some different types of posts; please let me know what you like, love, and hate with a passion).

Posted by: Hallie | July 31, 2009

Testing the Hypotheses with Friendship Bread

Hey ya’ll, thanks for reading/commenting on my last post. It made me feel a lot better to know that some of you get jealous of other people sometimes too, and I especially appreciate the encouraging words about my weight loss efforts (and yay for a few lurkers coming out! Hope you stick around!). I started my new program last week, and I’m going to take some time over the weekend to process my thoughts about it so far and give you guys the scoop. I’ve never done anything like this before, and I know I’ll need all the support I can get!

So yesterday, we had an all-staff meeting, and it was my department’s turn to bring in treats and coffee. I was working on a baking project and, knowing I wouldn’t be able to eat the fruits of my labor on my new program, I decided to bring in my experimental baked goods for my coworkers.

I baked two loaves of Amish Friendship Bread after I was given a starter by a coworker; her bread was delicious! It tasted like a cinnamon muffin. When she gave me the recipe and I saw “one cup of oil,” I knew I was going to try to give it some Healthy Twists. And oh man, Twist I did!

Never heard of Amish Friendship Bread? I consulted the Google about it, and it turns out Mrs. Healthy Blogger Tina (Carrots N Cake) made it awhile back herself, so you can read her post for details. I also consulted this blog that gave me some great tips.

I made a ton of substations to the original recipe. I used half whole-wheat pastry flour and half cake flour (all I had), I used 1/2 cup of applesauce instead of 1/2c of oil, I used sugar-free Jello pudding mix, and cut the sugar to just over half a cup (um, I ran out). Oh if that’s not enough, in one loaf I threw a ton of blueberries, and in the other I added half an apple, chopped, and about 1/3c chopped walnuts.

The result of my experimentation? Check it out:

amish bread

Yeah…pretty, it’s not. It was all sunken and when I took it out of the pan, it almost totally fell apart, it was so moist. As in, I thought I undercooked it. As in, I almost threw it out. Then I remembered that my coworkers will eat just about anything, especially if it’s homemade. At least, that was my theory. I decided to test this theory out, rather than waste the ingredients by throwing it away.

I brought in the two loaves and watched people devour my crazy concoction.

Folks, it wasn’t bread. It was like bread pudding, or French toast that was left in the batter too long. It was actually pretty tasty (I sampled it at work…whoops) but the texture was SO weird. And not a crumb was left at the end of the meeting.

Do you bring in your cooking/baking experiments to work? Do your coworkers (or friends, or family) prove or disprove my theory, “free baked goods will never go uneaten, regardless of quality.”

Posted by: Hallie | July 27, 2009

The Other Green Monster

No, not this one! Keep reading to see what I’m referring to.

So remember when I said I wanted make my new Trader Joe’s whole-wheat cinnamon rolls into French Toast? That’s exactly what I did Sunday. I sliced the roll into thirds, dipped in a mixture of almond milk, egg whites, vanilla, and cinnamon, and cooked on the stovetop. I didn’t have any maple syrup, which obviously makes French toast, but it was pretty delicious nonetheless. I had some blueberries on the side for a great Sunday breakfast.

flax french toast

I almost forgot! I’ve seen Caitlin sprinkle flaxseed on her French toast so I did the same. Not bad! I don’t think I really tasted the flax, but they definitely added some nutritional value. I love how French Toast can be as decadent or as healthy as you want to make it.

What is your favorite “Sunday” breakfast treat? I think I’d take some quality French toast over pancakes or waffles any day. Especially if there is cinnamon and raisins involved!

Jealous, Much?

Ok, honesty time! I would call myself a jealous person, and lately, it’s been getting worse. I’ve been working out a lot, eating *fairly* healthy, and not seeing any results as far as weight loss (remember when I posted about how I wanted to lose a few pounds…yeah…). Honestly, it’s really affecting my self-esteem and my motivation. It’s hard to bust my butt in the gym and feel like it’s getting me nowhere.

And, it doesn’t help that Mr. Mitch is kicking butt at his goals. He’s lost almost 30 pounds (THIRTY!), he can run 5 miles, and he is in his best shape since I’ve known him. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am NOT complaining that the man looks F-I-N-E, but it’s a little hard to watch him be so happy every time he steps on the scale when I get so bummed when I do the same.

I know, realistically, that he is working harder than I am, partly due to the fact that he has more free time and a more flexible schedule than I do (ah, student life). I also know that he is naturally more athletic and genetically blessed than me, so he will always “do better” than I. I know that I should just be happy for him and shouldn’t compare his (or anyone’s) success and abilities to my own.

But sometimes, I just want to stamp my feet and throw a temper tantrum like a little kid (actually, there might have been an incident this weekend when he wasn’t home that we won’t talk about). I want to be happy with the work I’m doing and the results I’m getting, and I’m just…not.

A few things to break me out of my jealous funk:

  1. My toe feels better, so I’m going to pick the running back up. Sunday I did 3 miles without stopping, which was big for me. I realized that if I CAN go out there and have victories, whatever they may be, it helps me to be truly happy when I hear about his running success.
  2. I’m probably starting a new fitness/diet program (I know, I’m cryptic. I just want to wait until it 100% is happening). This new program will give me a support system outside of my boyfriend, and I think right now, I need his support as well as the support of others. Again, making it about ME.
  3. I’m beginning to realize that there is something on a deeper lever that is hindering me from reaching my goals. I’m not sure what it is yet, but I’m determined to heal myself from the inside out, if that makes any sense.
  4. I had something else…but now I can’t remember. I think the smell of our dinner cooking (Mitch is making shrimp and chicken fajitas…delicious and healthy!) is making me lose my mind. So I’ll throw it to you: do you feel “jealous” of other’s fitness abilities or people meeting other goals that you can’t? Do you consider yourself jealous? How do you deal with feelings of jealousy or low self-esteem in general?

Mmm…you know when your house SMELLS spicy, the food is going to be good. I’m so hungry…almost time to eat…

Posted by: Hallie | July 23, 2009

Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls Review

Happy Almost-Friday!

I think I mentioned before that a volunteer at my museum often brings in Trader Joe’s goodies that he gets for free because they are at thier expiration date so the store can’t sell them. Yesterday, when I saw the “Come get bread in the Volunteer Room,” I decided to scope out the loot. I saw a bag of Whole Wheat Raisin Cinnamon Rolls and I thought, “Score!” Man, I love free stuff.

These rolls are vegan and have no refined sugar (they’re sweetened with fruit juice). The first ingredient is whole wheat flour, but the second is enriched wheat flour, so I know they aren’t 100% whole wheat. Each one is 230 calories, 2g fat, 7g protein, and have a fair amount fiber (not sure how much and I’m too lazy to look!), so it seemed like a fairly healthy choice. I had it for breakfast this morning with some almond butter and a banana (not pictured).

wheat cinnamon rolls

Verdict? Not bad! Actually, they tasted just like a cinnamon raisin bagel. I was hoping for more of a hearty wheat flavor, but no dice. I actually think they would make great French toast, Tales of Expansion-style. I’m not sure if I’d purchase these, but if they showed up at work again…

Thanks for everyone who left me nice comments on my last post. Since then, I’ve decided to book a little getaway for me and the boy. We’re going to the Grand Canyon in a month! Now, I know, it’s going to be crazy hot, but I’m still stoked. We’re spending two full days and three nights in the campground, then heading to southern Arizona to visit an old coworker of ours before heading back home. 1500 miles over 6 days…good thing we have a portable DVD player 😉

I should probably be more fiscally responsible then to take a trip like this right now, but camping is a relatively inexpensive vacation, as they go. And after the hectic summer I’ve had at work, I really need something fun to look forward to. Plus, once Mitch starts school and football season starts, I will never get to see my boyfriend, so I think it’ll be good to spend some quality time with him.

Are you a city girl or a country girl (or guy, I suppose) when it comes to traveling? I love being outdoors and hiking and nature…but I also like city vacations (hotels, restaurants, museums) as well. Basically, if it’s travel, I’m there!

Oh, and in more “Hallie hearts free stuff” news, here are some contests around blog land:

  • Soap and Chocolate is giving away Holey Donuts (yum)
  • Fruit.Veggies.Life is doing a cool 100th post giveaway
  • Hop, Skip & a Giant Leap is giving away Amazing Grass!!
  • Posted by: Hallie | July 19, 2009

    Fake it Til You Make It

    Hey all, I need to be honest. I haven’t had the greatest weekend. It started well, with a lovely (and pricey/indulgent, which actually might have triggered the pity party) anniversary dinner with my boy and ever since then my stomach hasn’t felt great, I’ve been really tired and generally pretty mopey, a family member landed in the hospital, etc. etc. I’ve pretty much done nothing this weekend but exercise, grocery shop, and lay around watching TV. I think my body needed that rest, but I also hope this funk is lifted soon.

    I want this blog to have a happy tone, so instead of lamenting further about all the reasons I feel blue, I decided to make a list of the things in my life that are good. Being reminded of the blessings that I have always helps keep my bad moods in perspective and reminds me that while I feel blah, there’s lots of happiness around too. I really believe in “fake it ‘til you make it,” so here is my list for today:

    • I have a good job that’s stable. And more than that, I work with cool people and for a great, worthwhile organization.
    • I have an awesome boyfriend—things are probably as good between us as they have ever been. He helps me through my blah days and makes kick-ass smoothies, which I’ve been having for breakfast almost every day.
    • I have awesome friends that are always there for me. I went for a walk with my bestie today, and I’m so happy she moved back home after spending a few years away.
    • I’m going to two weddings in the next few months, which is always fun! The first one is a Mexican-Jewish wedding, and from what I hear, it’s going to be QUITE the party.
    • Two of my best friends from college are coming out to San Diego over Labor Day. I’ve never had college friends come out to Cali, so I’m REALLY excited to share my awesome home town with these girls. I can’t wait.
    • I might be starting a new fitness program that might give me the shake-up that I need to finally get the results that I want. (I don’t want to elaborate in case it falls though, but it’s a pretty cool opportunity. Stay tuned.)
    • My bruised toe is starting to get better. I’m hoping to get back into running. I have lowered my expectations for November’s 10k (old goal: don’t walk; new goal: do my very best) and I’m actually really looking forward on training for it, because it feels good to have a goal unrelated to weight loss.
    • I may have a lost a few blog readers lately (I think for lack of updating) but in general, being a part of the blogging community makes me happy. I feel like I have friends who understand me, maybe sometimes more than “real-life” friends do in some ways. So “blogging and blogging friends” goes on this list!

    I made a lentil/brown rice dish with caramelized onions from Veganomicon yesterday that I was going to show ya’ll, but as you can imagine it’s not very photogenic, and actually not that tasty. (I think I overdid the allspice) I love how vegan food keeps for days, so it’s nice to have lunch for tomorrow all ready. I’m just going to have soup and toast for dinner in a little bit, because I think that’s all I can handle right now.

    I listed eight good things that are going on for me right now; eight reasons I have to be happy with my life. Friends, what are two good things going on for you? I need some positive energy up in here!!

    Posted by: Hallie | July 15, 2009

    Rocking and (Spring) Rolling

    I had FUN in the kitchen last night! Awhile back, Mitch’s stepmom (does anyone besides me hate the term “stepmom”? But “father’s wife” is longer and contains far too many apostrophes) gave us a package of spring roll wrappers when I mentioned I couldn’t find them in my grocery store. Since I took yesterday off from the gym, I was home early enough to prepare dinner at a decent time and decided to try my hand at making Vietnamese-style spring rolls.

    spring roll wrappers 

    I don’t have an actual recipe for my spring rolls, especially since this was my first time out. I do have a few recommendations, if you want to try making them yourself.

    Spring Roll-Making Tips from a Beginner

    1. Make your dipping sauce first so the flavors can blend while you prep everything else. Mitch doesn’t like peanut sauces so I mixed equal parts low-sodium soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and chili-garlic sauce together with sliced green onions. Plus a ton of Sriracha. It was a little salty so you’d probably want to consult the Google for a better one.
    2. Fresh herbs and vegetables are essential! We had cilantro, basil, and mint, as well as organic carrots, cucumber, and lettuce. For protein, we used chopped, cooked chicken breast and baked tofu, but shrimp would have worked well too.
    3. Enlist help! After making my first spring roll, I told Mitch if he was any kind of hungry, he better come help me. We have “one-butt” kitchen so we rarely cook together, so the team effort was a fun change of pace.
    4. Fill a BIG bowl or (if you don’t have one) a wide casserole dish with hot water (not too hot though, since you have to stick your hands in it). Put a new spring-roll wrapper in the bowl when you take one out to assemble.
    5. Don’t stress if your spring rolls aren’t as perfect as, say, those made by a Vietnamese cooking expert who has been making them her whole life. They’ll still taste good!

    Before:

    spring roll veggies tofu and chicken

    And after:

    finished spring rolls

    I was surprised that 6 wrappers are 200 calories (this would vary depending on the brand, of course). I only used one chicken breast and half a block of tofu for the two of us, so overall the meal was fairly light, considering I usually use way more protein when making stir fry. And after having far too many “this is ok, not spectacular” cooking adventures lately, it was a refreshing change to whip up something that was really good, healthy, and inexpensive! Can’t beat that.

    Have you had any “cooking successes” lately? Or any good “cooking FAIL” stories to share?

    In other news…Mitch and I had our 3-year anniversary on Monday. We’re going out to eat on Friday to celebrate, so that’s something to look forward to. We couldn’t go on Monday because my boss got me sneak-preview tickets to the new Harry Potter movie, so that was fun. I’ll admit that I haven’t read the books but I do like the movies (some nerd I am, right?).

    Oh hey, want some free stuff? Check out Kelly Turner’s giveaway on Twirlit! Or if you just want some light reading, read her awesome article Your Scale is a Liar (or as I call it, Why You Shouldn’t Weigh Yourself the Day after Eating Taco Bell).

    I’m off to watch Bobby Flay and Throwdown: Fish Taco. They filmed this is San Diego (really, where else?) so I’m hoping my hometown can represent! If we can’t win a fish taco challenge, we might as well turn in our “So Cal” card right now 🙂

    Posted by: Hallie | July 12, 2009

    Swapping the bad(ish) for the better

    Are you a label-reader?

    I am an obsessive label reader…it started when I was losing weight for the first time, I would look at the calorie and fat content of everything that had a nutrition label. When I did Weight Watchers for a stint, I started paying attention to the fiber content of my foods (fiber = lower points, but I know now that adding fiber powder to ice cream doesn’t make it a health food. Right, Gina?).

    These days, I read labels with other purposes, maybe not instead, but in addition to the calorie count. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals awhile back, I started paying more attention to the food I was eating, and began making efforts to eat less “Franken-foods” made with crazy chemicals. I also try to avoid trans fats when grocery shopping, because trans fats are just bad news.

    Yesterday, I hit up Whole Foods to swap out some items in my kitchen for healthier counterparts. First up…peanut butter.

    I buy nut butter from Trader Joe’s because it’s cheap and all-natural, but a few weeks ago, I snagged (don’t judge!) some single-serving cups of Smucker’s peanut butter from a hotel’s breakfast buffet. I figured they’d be great for camping, or oatmeal breakfasts/snacks away from home. It wasn’t until later that I read the ingredient list and saw “partially hydrogenated soybean oil,” which means it contains trans fat.

    I bought a single-serving pack of Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter, which I’m sure will be MORE delicious than the Smucker’s, with a much more desirable ingredient list.

    peanut butter

    Next…steak seasoning.

    I made this swap because I realized that the Montreal Steak Seasoning we had at home contains partially hydrogenated soybean oil and even though it’s a tiny amount, is that really needed in SPICES? Me thinks not.

    My harping on the evils of hidden trans fat finally convinced Mitch (or he wants me to shut up, one of the two) so he asked me to find trans-fat-free steak seasonings for tomorrow’s planned grilled dinner. Of course, I found it at Whole Foods. It’s basically the same thing, with less sodium per teaspoon and NO trans fat!

    WF seasoning Montreal seasoning

    At the store, I didn’t get why WF called it “Toronto” seasoning…and then I got home and put the two side by side. Toronto, Montreal…I thought that was hilarious and called Mitch to tell him, but he didn’t pick up his phone, which was probably for the best. I doubt he’d find it as clever as I did.

    Seasonings

    And finally…sweets.

    I tried, I really did, to cut out my post-dinner treat…and then Mitch started buying Jello pudding cups and that was the end of that. Now, I’m not even that wild about the sugar-free (aka Splenda-filled) cups, but they were somewhat chocolaty and 60 calories a pop, so I was breaking into the boy’s stash. To keep myself away from the Jello and its less-than-natural ingredients, I bought two portion-controlled sweet snacks.

    desserts

    On the far right is a So Delicious dairy-free mint “ice cream” sandwich. I’ve had the full-size flavor so I know how, well, delicious, these are. They taste like mint chocolate-chip ice cream, and the mini size only has 90 calories apiece. Three bites of heaven (very processed, but better than the Jello, I’d say).

    The item in the middle is probably new to you. These are ChocoPods, a 60-calorie serving of gourmet chocolate developed by Chuao Chocolatier, based out of San Diego. I picked the Picante flavor, which Chuao describes as “delicate dark chocolate shell filled with a blend of Cabernet wine caramel seasoned with pasilla chile and cayenne pepper.” Does that not sound amazing? I’ve tried their Spicy Maya flavor of chocolate, which is HOLY YUM so I have high hopes for this flavor (they make chocolate without chilis too).

    The “healthier” swaps I made are all more expensive than the original (free versus $1.39 a pop for the peanut butter, for example). But I fully believe in “doing what I can” as far as making the best food choices for me (and Mitch, when he’ll let me!).

    Have you made any product swaps recently due to the nutrition label/ingredient list? Do you have any “never-buy” ingredients that you don’t allow in your kitchen? I’m certainly not perfect, and I don’t do all our grocery shopping, but I think every little swap I can make is a step in the right direction!

    Before I head out, I have two items to report:

    1. For two days in a row, I did 45 minutes on the stair climber at the gym! I’m nursing a toe injury so I can’t run or walk hills outside, so I’ve been sticking to stairs. I used to not be able to do more than 5 minutes, so this is huge for me!
    2. Nina seems to be doing better, after an expensive trip to the vet for x-rays showed that she didn’t have any more bones in her digestive tract (sorry if TMI). The worst seems to be behind us, as long as she’ll stay out of the damn trash.
    Posted by: Hallie | July 7, 2009

    Not Again, Nina!

    Hola! So first things first. Remember when I thought Nina ate a chicken bone awhile back? Well today, Mitch went out for a run and when he came back, our girl had gotten into the trash and eaten an ENTIRE chicken carcass from the rotisserie chicken we had last night (oh, the things you vegetarians don’t have to worry about!). I called the vet and the receptionist said that while Nina has a few uncomfortable days ahead (and we should schedule our carpet cleaning now) she’ll probably be ok; we just need to keep an eye on her. So I’m pretty freaked out, once again. If I’m this worried about my dog, I can only imagine how I’ll be when I have human children to care for…yikes!

    Anyway, parenting issues aside, I wanted to share a yummy meal I made on Sunday. I guess I was still feeling patriotic or all-American, or I knew I’d need comfort for the week ahead.

    meatloaf and cauli

    Looks decadent, no? Looks can be deceiving!

    This was my BBQ Bacon Meatloaf with a few “edits:"

    • One heaping Tbsp of nonfat Greek yogurt instead of milk (KEY change!)
    • Center-cut bacon instead of regular
    • Jarred roasted red peppers instead of fresh
    • No Cajun seasoning (a sprinkle of garlic salt instead)
    • Instead of the BBQ sauce, I mixed 1 Tbsp of hoisin sauce with 1 Tbsp of chili-garlic sauce and topped it off with a ton of Sriracha. SO GOOD, and lighter to boot!

    And what did we have on the side? Mashed cauliflower! Remember when this popular on the blogs awhile back (or have none of you been reading food blogs that long, lol)? I’ve always wanted to try this but was a little scared. I wish I’d tried it sooner!

    I tried to be all fancy and make this buttermilk mashed cauliflower thing, and it was a big FAIL (buttermilk curdles when heated, who knew)? So make Jenna’s recipe if you want to try it. It tasted like cauliflower (duh) but TOTALLY had the consistency of whipped, creamy potatoes! I’ll definitely make this again. I found this (don’t laugh!)packet of organic gravy mix at the store that only had 25 calories per serving, so I made that to have on the cauliflower. Speaking of servings, what you see above was Mitch’s serving; here’s what I ate:

    my serving meatloaf

    Lest you think I gorged myself on turkey meatloaf and mashed cauliflower 🙂

    And the ADD Girl Strikes Again…
    So, I’m thinking (again!) of making some tweaks to the style/content of my blog. Basically I want to talk more about more than food/recipes. Not sure yet where I’m going, but my blogging idol is Roni of Roni’s Weigh, so I think something more along the lines of what she writes about (significantly less awesome though, of course).

    So I’m wondering:

    1. Would a “change midstream” (haha) turn people off? Would I lose readers?
    2. What makes a good blog? What makes a “bad” blog (and we know those exist!)
    3. Who is your blogging idol? Or am I the only one who has one?

    Thanks, Ace Research Team! Have a good night all.

    Posted by: Hallie | July 4, 2009

    Baked Beans for a Lazy Independence Day

    HAPPY 4th OF JULY!

    I hope everyone has been out having fun today. Me? I’ve been a total lazy bum 🙂

    I know, I live 2 miles from the beach, but honestly, going to the beach, with the tons of people and drunken antics just wasn’t appealing to me. Instead, I stayed home with my sweetie and our puppy. We napped, watched the Padres game (they won! woo hoo) and watched Amistad, which I had never seen before. It was a REALLY good movie, and fitting to watch on Independence Day. I don’t really think about slavery, or the dark times in our nation’s history, all that often, so it’s a good reminder that while this country is certainly not perfect, we’ve come a long way as far as human rights go.

    Anyway…

    Last night, Mitch’s mom came over for an early holiday feast. We had her amazing ribs, salad, apple pie, and my contribution, baked beans. (They also had grilled corn, but I wanted to save a few calories for dessert, haha. And I wonder why I’m not really losing weight…?)

    I had only tried baked beans for the first time a few months ago, and I was surprised how much I liked them! I’d only had the kind with bacon and sausage, so I wanted to create a lighter version. I learned from Mara on I Made Dinner that center-cut bacon is lower in fat, so I used that, and drained off all the grease before I browned the onions. I also cut the sugar a tad, and was happy that my version has no HFCS and is lower in fat than other recipes.

    Homemade Baked Beans
    Adapted from Epicurious (couldn’t find the full link, sorry!)

    baked beans ingredients

    Ingredients

    • 4 slices center-cut bacon
    • 1 chopped onion
    • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
    • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
    • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
    • 3 tablespoons sucanat (or brown sugar)
    • 2 tablespoons dark molasses
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon mustard
    • 1 15-ounce can white kidney beans, rinsed, drained
    • 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
    • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed, drained

    Directions

    1. Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels. Chop bacon; reserve.
    2. Pour off all the drippings from skillet. 
    3. Heat drippings in same skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute.
    4. Add tomato sauce, broth, sucanat, molasses, vinegar and mustard and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring often.
    5. Stir in all beans and bacon and bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors.
    6. Uncover and simmer at least one hour. Season with salt and pepper.

    baked beans

    Delish! I highly recommend trying this recipe. Of course, you could leave the bacon out to be even healthier and vegetarian.

    Today, we grilled artichoke-garlic chicken sausages for lunch, and I had leftover beans on the side. (I thought I’d be all-American by using a non-wheat hot dog bun, and it was so not worth it. Should have just used a slice of ww bread…)

    4th of july lunch

    I just tried to spot fireworks on our balcony, but I could barely make them out. I can hear them though, which is such a tease. I could have gone out to watch them…but did you read when I said I was lazy? I’m making Mitch take me to the KGB Sky Show in September, so I’ll get my fireworks fix.

    Hope you had a fun and safe holiday! And I hope you don’t think I’m a loser for blogging at 9:15 PM on the 4th of July…but I had a GREAT day being a bum! (Mitch said I was going to lose the respect of my readers if I posted tonight. Clearly, I disagreed.) Tomorrow it’s back to normal with a hill walk with the puppy followed by a trip to the gym, grocery shopping—a lovely Sunday in my mind!

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