Foodie Friday: Blueberry Lemon Smoothie for Weight Loss

In her return to the blogging world yesterday, Amie (The Healthy Step-Mom) posted about willpower against cravings, and how difficult it can be. It was encouraging to read that even someone as fit as Amie battles with willpower every now and again.

When I’m feeling particularly tempted, I like to trick my body into thinking that I’m fulfilling its unhealthy cravings. Evil, I know – but it works! Wednesday, I felt like I was having dessert for breakfast when I replicated a blueberry lemon smoothie that my girl Deborah over at Delightfully Fit so generously instagrammed (yes, instagram is a verb now).

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My version of the Blueberry Lemon Smoothie

Here is her recipe, with my variations in parentheses:

  • 1 banana
  • Greek yogurt (plain) (I used approximately half a cup)
  • Flaxseed (I replaced with 1 tablespoon of chia seeds)
  • Blueberries (I used one cup, frozen)
  • 1 lemon-ring slice sized rind (I put a whole, circular slice in – I wanted it to be very lemony)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I skipped this because my almond milk was vanilla)
  • A splash of unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla almond milk, and put just enough to blend the mixture to my desired texture)
  • Stevia (I used half a packet of Truvia)

The result was a tangy and delicious breakfast that reminded me of a trip to Pinkberry – my sweet tooth was satisfied for the day!

What are your healthy craving alternatives? 

Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe for St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I was a lazy foodie and ordered a Rueben sandwich from the local diner instead of enjoying actual Irish fare. I’m not actually Irish, so I’m giving myself a pass this year. That’s not to say that I didn’t miss the annual feast of corned beef and cabbage with the family.

So, in honor of the holiday, I’m reposting my mom’s recipe for corned beef and cabbageShe’s not Irish either (obviously), but she makes a darn good corned beef. If you’re not married to a recipe of your own, I highly recommend you give this one a whirl.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

(Makes 6 servings)

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INGREDIENTS:
  • 3-4 Lb. corned beef brisket
  • ½ cut shopped onion
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • A dash of ground cloves
  • 6 medium potatoes peeled
  • 6 carrots
  • 6 cabbage wedges
  • Prepared powdered mustard (Coleman’s)
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced

Place corned beef in a Dutch oven and barely cover with hot water. Add onions, garlic and bay leaves. Cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours, or until tender (3 hours is probably enough). Remove meat from liquid; cover with foil and keep warm. Add whole potatoes and carrots cut in 2” or 3” pieces to liquid in Dutch oven. Coer and bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or so and add cabbage; then cook 20 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, glaze meat and spread fat side of meat lightly with mustard powder. Combine brown sugar and cloves and sprinkle over mustard. Bake in shallow pan at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes uncovered. Arrange corned beef and vegetables on a warm platter for serving.

So so good!  Last year we went home with leftovers and I made a great breakfast of it too. Love me some corned beef! What do you eat to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? 

Foodie Friday: Tandoori Lamb Balls Recipe from The Meatball Shop

I’ve been experimenting with The Meatball Shop Cookbook ever since I bought it for my boyfriend for Christmas last year. I guess it’s still a gift for him if he gets to eat what I cook, right?

So a few weeks ago I tried my hand at Tandoori Lamb Balls. In a word? Brilliant. I’ve been participating in a Skillshare class called Show Us Your Balls: Meatball Making with The Meatball Shop, and was able to reflect on having cooked these before watching some of the training videos. There were definitely some pointers that I will use in future meatball recipes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (stems included)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup tandoori spice mix
  • 2 teaspoons salt

First thing’s first: The tandoori spice:969bfaeb

2 teaspoons ground ginger; 2 teaspoons ground cumin; 2 teaspoons ground coriander; 2 teaspoons sweet paprika; 2 teaspoons tumeric (not pictured); 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper. I know I tweaked this a bit, but it was a while ago and I can’t remember what I did.

Question: What is sweet paprika? How is it different from regular paprika? I assume it’s sweeter (duh), but figured I’d ask. I decided that as long as I had most of the basic elements, I’d have something close to the intended flavor, so I didn’t sweat it too much.

I combined all of my ingredients and made a test meatball on the stove, which I’m proud of since I decided to do this on my own before watching  Meatball Shop co-founder and executive chef Daniel Holzman’s training video. He made a good point to flatten the meatball before frying it to test – would have been much faster.

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Once I had my flavor down, it was time to roll the balls. Holzman recommends using an ice cream scoop, this way the meatballs are evenly sized, so they will cook evenly. Roast at 450° for 20 minutes.

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I combined the balls with The Meatball Shop’s Cilantro Yogurt Sauce and a side of roasted Brussels sprouts with apples and honey roasted pecans.

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Next up: I’ve practiced the basics of making meatballs a few times, so I’d like to try to think up an original recipe next.

Question: What are your favorite kind of meatballs? Do you prefer traditional, or do you have a special unique flavor combination? Please share!

Mexican Chickpea Lettuce Wraps

…what? Recipes like the one you are about to endure are what I like to categorize as “fridge fusion.” This cooking style is strictly reserved for nights when I am completely lazy, frugal and overdue for a trip to the grocery store – tonight being one such night.

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I realized that my only immediate food options were carbs: leftover pizza or pasta. To throw myself an extra curveball, I’ve been eating a vegetarian diet since last Tuesday (part of my 101 in 1001 list). As my buyer’s remorse set before even placing a Seamless order, I remembered a lonely can of chickpeas in the cupboard. I quickly shut my laptop and scurried the difficult five steps from my couch to my kitchen (oh, New York apartments), whipped out a pan and searched the vegetable drawer for anything still edible. I found some romaine lettuce, half a red onion and one-quarter of a yellow squash. Perfecto!

I had pre-determined that if I were to cook tonight, it would only be to provide a vehicle for my homemade Mexican seasoning. I’m obsessed – see recipe at bottom of post – so the puzzle pieces had to find a way to fit together.

Start by heating some olive oil in a medium pan and add the yellow squash (quartered) and red onion (diced).

P1010908Give them about five minutes to warm up and then add the chickpeas, and mix in one table spoon of the homemade Mexican seasoning.

P1010910Cook until heated through (maybe five more minutes? I’m sorry I didn’t keep track!), and you’re done.

P1010912I spooned these onto some romaine leaves, but would have preferred iceberg because it’s easier to wrap. I also added a dollop of Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

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And then I got sick of dropping chickpeas on the ground, and shamelessly threw it all into a bowl…and added more greek yogurt…oh yea, and a spritz of lime juice.

P1010918If this recipe had been pre-meditated, there definitely would have been some cilantro and diced tomato.

Here is the Mexican seasoning recipe that carnivore me would use with a pound of meat:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • A dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

I like to double (or triple or quadruple) this, and store it in my pantry so that I don’t have to mix it as often.

Foodie Friday: My New Year’s Grocery List

So it’s that time of year again – time to start fresh with a clean slate, and new goals and ambitions for the next 12 months. I didn’t think that I had a New Year’s resolution for 2013, but today I started to remember a few healthy foods I wanted to try, and it quickly turned into a “New Year’s Grocery List,” of sorts.

I’ve decided that my resolution is the same one I land on every year: to incorporate more healthy eating and living habits into my daily life. I don’t like the idea of crash diets or putting my workout schedule into overdrive for one month – those things just don’t work for me (and I don’t think they work long-term for anyone,actually). I’m beginning my healthy habits with a shopping list of a few items I’d like to try, and possibly keep stocked, in my kitchen this year.

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Here are a few items that make the cut:

Hemp seeds – Just two tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 400 milligrams of gamma-linoleic acid, an anti-inflammatory, two grams of Omega-3 fats and nine essential amino acids. You can put hemp seeds on just about everything, but I’m especially excited to mix them into some post-workout smoothies to help maximize muscle recovery.

Nutritional Yeast Flakes – Nutritional yeast flakes are a complete protein, containing 18 amino acids and 15 minerals, and they are rich in vitamin B. Nutritional yeast can be used as a condiment, and the flavor is described as nutty and cheesy. I’ve also seen them used as a cheese substitute in plenty of vegan recipes around the blogosphere. While I’m not even close to being vegan, I’d like to try my hand at vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, just for kicks.

Jicama – Jicama, also referred to as a “Mexican yam” or “Mexican turnip,” is a scary looking root vegetable. But again, this guy pops up in recipes for all of my favorite blogs, so I’d like to face my fears and give it a whirl. Jicama is low in calories, but high in fiber and anti-oxidants.

In addition to the above items which I have not tried, I’d also like to incorporate more of the healthy foods I love into my daily diet. I need to get back on my kale kick, and I’d like to try to replace regular potatoes with sweet potatoes when possible. I want to get back to juicing at least a few times per week, especially juicing beets.

Do you have any food goals for 2013? I know that sounds like an odd question, hopefully some of you can relate!

Foodie Friday: Tri-Color Cookies (a.k.a. Venetians)

After a long week of shopping, wrapping, shopping, working, eating, drinking, and SHOPPING, I am finally sitting on my couch. This is a big deal, people! I don’t think I’ve seen this couch all week, and this is where my best blogging is done.

I do feel bad for neglecting the blog, but I’m sure you’ve all been just as busy, with very little time to read. I owe you a Foodie post. What better recipe to share right before the holidays than my favorite Christmas cookies?

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Venetians—also called tri-color cookies or rainbow cookies—are a family tradition, and no one in this world makes them better than my grandmother, Mary. They are not too difficult, but definitely time consuming. So if you’re interested in trying to make these at home, make sure you carve out a good half-day. Take your time and have fun!

Ingredients

  • 1 can almond paste
  • 3 sticks softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Food coloring : red, green, yellow
  • 12 oz. jar apricot preserves + 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 large bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  1. Grease  three 13×9 pans (cookie sheets)
  2. Line with wax paper & grease again
  3. Break up almond paste in large bowl, add butter, sugar, egg yolks and almond extract
  4. Beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy – 5 minutes
  5. Beat in flower and salt
  6. Beat egg whites until peaks form in a small bowl.
  7. With wooden spoon stir in almond mixture
  8. Divide into 3  bowls, add food coloring to each bowl: one red, green and yellow
  9. Add more food coloring for a brighter color
  10. Spread in to pans, bake 15 minutes, or until edges are golden
  11. Allow to cool, heat apricot preserves, strain & spread ½ of the warm preserves over green layer, spread to the edges. Put yellow layer on top and spread with remaining preserves. Put red layer on top of yellow
  12. Melt chocolate over hot water, add 2 drops of almond extract a few drops of water to desired consistency, should be on watery side, not thick, so that it’s easy to spread
  13. Spread on top using half of chocolate. Refrigerate. When chocolate is hard, turn upside down and spread remaining chocolate on top. Let dry 30 minutes in refrigerator

Cut into one-inch pieces, and enjoy!

 

The Improvised Flat Bread

Never underestimate the therapeutic value of a girls’ night in – something I view as the ultimate cure for any excess of emotion (anger, stress, frustration, sadness, etc.).

Tuesday, after four hours of sleep and a grueling 10-hour day in the office, I was on my last thread. While I normally would have gone home and slept it off, I felt I needed to do something to replace the guilt I felt for being too tired to hit the gym.

Cue a quick trip to Whole Foods, Alycia and a bottle of wine. By 10 p.m. I was cured. Conversation, vino and our improvised flat bread wound up being just what the doctor ordered.

Whole Wheat Flatbread with Arugula, Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomatoes

I walked into Whole Foods with visions of a gorgeous fig, arugula and goat cheese flat bread in my head. Apparently, and to my dismay, figs are out of season. I grabbed the first suitable substitute I could find – a package of sun-dried tomatoes, and made my way to our foodie date. Here is the final result:

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Ingredients

  • Pizza dough (we used whole wheat dough from Whole Foods)
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan flakes
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375˚F and prep the pizza dough according to directions on the packaging. We rolled our dough out into a nice rectangle large enough for roughly eight square slices.

Toss the arugula in the apple cider vinegar, and place aside for later.

Bake the dough for 5 minutes, then remove. Lightly coat the bread with olive oil, and sprinkle the garlic evenly.

Layer the cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula on top. I know some like to hold the arugula until the flat bread is done baking, but we decided to try throwing it all in the oven.

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Next, return the flat bread to the oven for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the crust begin to brown. Remove from the oven, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

This post is cross-posted from the blog Feel Good Foodies, a collaborative exploration between myself and my friend Alycia Ercums, documenting our love of fine food and our desire to balance a healthy lifestyle.

Foodie Friday: San Diego Food Photos

Happy Friday! I came home Monday night from a long weekend in San Diego, and still have not caught up with my blogging or sleep schedules! I took so many photos with my new camera, and I’m so excited to share them with you. Since today is Foodie Friday, I’m going to post some of my favorite food photos from the trip. I promise to share the rest over the weekend!

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Amazing seafood at Blue Water: grilled calamari appetizer//seared ahi tuna platter//swordfish platter//the best damn tuna melt ever

P1000280P1000287Wedding cake tasting at Babycakes: before and after

P1000276Red velvet pancakes at Babycakes (these were not ours, they just looked so perfect that I snapped a shot while the ‘owner’ wasn’t looking!)

P1000236Taffy in a store in Old Town

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Uhhhmazing Chilean sea bass at Peohe’s on Coronado Island

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…and the obligatory In-N-Out Burger

There are a few more photos still on my camera (including scrumptious pumpkin spice pancakes), but I’m sure I’ve given you enough to make your mouth water at this point.

Awkward & Awesome Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has to be, hands down, one of the best holidays ever. Who doesn’t enjoy a good feast with people you love? Most of my Thanksgivings have been spent at my parents’ or an uncle’s house, with my whole big, Italian family, cousins and all.

This year, I’m doing something different. And on that note, let’s dive into this week’s awkward and awesome.

AWKWARD

  • I’m hosting Thanksgiving today. In my shoebox Manhattan apartment. Ok, it’s just Jamie, his parents and me, so we’re not packed in liked sardines, but when the “what should we do for Thanksgiving this year?” conversation came up a few weeks ago, this was the farthest thought from my mind.
  • There is a 17-pound bird in my “easy bake oven.” Manhattan kitchens are miniature. I have a thin, short refrigerator, a dishwasher one-third the size of the one at my parents’ house, and my oven is…the size of a 17-pound turkey apparently. I’ll let you know how this works out. 
  • There is no hustle-bustle buzz. It feels so strange not being in a big house surrounded by my entire family.
  • No candied sweet potatoes for me. Candied sweet potatoes are my late grandfather’s specialty, and my mom has done a beautiful job of keeping the tradition alive. If there is any food item I am sentimental about, it’s them. Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m expecting you to save me leftovers!

AWESOME

  • I didn’t have to deal with traveling on the most traveled day of the year. After all of my horrendous run-ins with NJ Transit over the past three years, I am so very thankful to not be standing on any trains today.
  • I’m cooking (ok, helping cook) my first turkey – and really putting this kitchen to the test. I love cooking new things, and Jamie’s mom is a great teacher, so today will be fun.
  • I made stuffed mushrooms. Mmmm. Check ‘em out.
  • I’m with people I love, there’s food on the table, and I’m seeing my family this weekend. I’m thankful.

What are your thanksgiving traditions? Give me the awkward family stories, those are the best.

Foodie Friday: Falling Off the Wagon

Raise your hand if you fell off of the healthy-eating wagon this week.

I know I did, and if you did too, you are not alone. Something about a natural disaster makes people binge. I think that it’s partially a testament that eating can easily become an emotional outlet. I think another part dates back to our hunter-gatherer instincts. I watched a documentary during Sandy, which said that humans used to be conditioned to eat food when they could, in preparation to survive for long bouts without it. Maybe knowing that access to food could potentially be cut off makes us load up a little extra? Whatever the case, I know I was guilty of baking brownies instead of making salads during the dreadful week indoors.

Image courtesy of boyfriend’s instagram

The New York Times reported Wednesday on the “Sandy Five,” and the Associated Press also reported on New Yorkers finding comfort in junk food. So just when I was starting to feel down in the dumps for gaining back what I lost with my BluePrint Cleanse, Linda Wagner, one of my favorite bloggers, reminded me that it’s ok. We can’t be perfect all the time, but we can be positive.

Image courtesy of Linda Wagner

So don’t beat yourself up if you’ve fallen down a bit. Get back up, wipe off the dust and start over. Ask for help where you need it, and get back on track.

I’ve had a lot of stress this week, and I know that is another reason that I fell off. But knowing how to identify this, and eating a piece of fruit or drinking a juice instead of going for coffee and cookies is something I am trying to do moving forward. It feels great to scarf down some junk food to feel better, but it never feels great afterwards.

What triggers your unhealthy eating habits? What do you do to avoid turning to junk in times of stress? 

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