Category: health food

Twinkie Conundrum

So Hostess has closed.  We have all heard that.  Another American brand down the drain, no bailout for those 18k workers, no recourse for a union that flushed workers down the drain.

Here’s the funny thing since the news came out I have heard basically this same conversation from almost all of my friends/family (even my Dad!):

“I’m not going to miss all those unhealthy foods.”

or  “America is sure going to be healthier with out all the trans-fats clogging their arteries”

but then the statement is almost always followed by ‘I will miss those cupcakes though’, or ‘I wonder how much longer we can get a snowball?’ or ‘hard to imagine no more wonder bread or twinkies’.

What makes me laugh is that almost everyone I know plays the part of the healthy eater, glad Hostess is gone and ridding America from its guilt-ridden treats but secretly are lamenting the loss.  I guess it is the definition of a guilty pleasure!

I wonder if part of the remorse is like watching Saturday morning cartoons. They are syrupy and stupid but you kind of like them.  They remind you of being a kid again and for those of that had pleasant childhoods the remembrance is pleasant.  Perhaps we like such food because when we were a kid we didn’t have to worry so much about carbs, organic food, clean eating or any of that crap? We could just eat a twinkie if our Mom told us it was okay.

Perhaps we like things like hostess because we secretly LIKE THEM! In one Washington Post article about the mass selloff of twinkies on ebay a vendor described the situation well:

“If buyers do not bite, Mr. Edmonds is not sure what he will do with his supply. He does not even like Twinkies.

“I do like to have a Ding Dong every once in a while though,” he said.”

(I swear that same caveat is being said by nearly every American)

I remember when I saw Martha Stewart making her own peeps and I felt tired and a little disgusted.  What a waste of time when the original are delicious. I’m sure she would be insulted at the idea of store bought peeps but at Easter I wouldn’t want them any other mixed up, gussied way, just gooey, crispy peeps.  I like gourmet food but I also like familiar food where I know how it will taste and what it will be like.  I think that is the appeal of a lot of foods like Hostess. They are easy to eat, absorb and enjoy.

What foods do you like that you are slightly embarrassed to admit liking?  Come on, let it out.  I can think of some:

1- Chicken Nuggets- not fancy chicken strips (although those are good too).  I’m talking about crunchy little chicken pieces of manufactured yumminess and I get all the sauces I can muster.

2- pizza- This is really a guilty pleasure but I like all variations of pizza, not just the bubbly gourmet kind with fancy cheeses but the greasy pepperoni from Little Caesars (and I love Crazy bread!)

3- Movie popcorn- I love popcorn in general but I like the salty, yellow, intoxicating smelling popcorn at the movie theater.  I do! (With extra butter of course).

4- Sweet/Sour candies. When I went on my sugar fast the thing I craved the most was sour patch kids.  Strange but something about that lip puckering sweet and sour sounded so good.

5- Ice Cream- I’ve never met a flavor or brand of ice cream I don’t like.  I love the fancy gourmet kinds but also the big buckets of generic vanilla.
I also love ice cream novelties like drumsticks and fudgicals

6- Popsicles- I love those double popsicles in cherry, root beer, grape, banana, orange, etc.  You know the one’s?

7- Ramen noodles- I don’t like canned soup- ever, ever, ever!  I don’t eat it unless I’m forced and if I’m sick I’d much rather have ramen than canned soup.  I just don’t like the tecture of it.

8- Really hot fresh french fries.  They just aren’t the same baked.  Need the deep frier.  I love sauces.

9- Pillsbury- I think those crescents and biscuits are delicious.

10- Slurpees- Love all the favors, all the time.

11- Donuts- I love chocolate, maple donuts, simple glazed, powdered, whatever!  The smell makes me crazy.  Even those little powdered one’s make me happy.

12- Crackers- I love Chicken n’ biscuit, ritz, saltines, club crackers whatever.  YUM!

13- pudding snacks- not fancy kind.  Just standard pudding cups.

14- On same line lunchables.  Ah the decadence!

( I could keep going…)

What about you?  What do you have to talk yourself into getting a salad for?  What transfat nightmares do you linger over in the market and then head for the whole wheat section…

Be honest!  Who out there is secretly going to miss the twinkie?

Two Perfect Foods

My trainer says if you are going to cheat make sure it is ‘Oh heck yeah’ cheat.  No lame brownie from a store.  No dime ice cream.  Something that is really good! Being on day 5 of Jenny Craig this becomes even more important as my cheats are few and far between.

Here are 2 recent discoveries and the best thing is they aren’t necessarily that bad of cheats but oh are they good!

1. Cocoa Metro Drinking Chocolate

For years I have been on the hunt for the perfect chocolate milk.  Almost all chocolate milks have corn syrup and corn starch added in- yuck!  It has a gritty, chalky taste to me.  I am perhaps hyper-sensitive to that kind of taste.  Most people probably don’t even notice it, but it is like runny glue to me. It’s why I hate protein drinks or bars.  I have tried so many different kinds and they all set my gag reflex off.  (And  please don’t tell me that I will like your kind…Heard that before!).  I figure people were healthy decades before protein drinks so I can go without!

Anyway, I have tried just about every kind of chocolate milk and hot chocolate concoction out there and so far nothing has been able to beat good old Hershey syrup and milk…until today .

I found the Cocoa Metro Drinking Chocolate- yes, its not only chocolate milk but drinking chocolate.  Look at the ad:

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Holy cow was it good! I like one reviewer said ‘this stuff is crack for chocolate fans’. Another said ““It actually tastes like chocolate—not some weird amalgam of chemicals—with a touch of vanilla to balance it out.”.  That is so true.  It is strong but still a milk chocolate flavor. The vanilla does come out but mostly it is just chocolate deliciousness.  It is thick but not so thick it feels goopy. You can tell the milk is really good too.  Some chocolate milks have a background sour milk taste.  Not this.  Its fresh and creamy. Perfect.

Seriously one of the best things I have ever eaten (or drunken. Is that a word? ). I wish I could get the liter jars but it will definitely be in my Harmons shopping cart again. Wish I could buy in bulk! (Luckily I can see the Harmons from my apartment!) Wow!

2. Honeycrisp apples.  Every year I live for these apples.  Some apples claim to be ‘like honeycrisp’ (Envy, galla, you know who you are) but alas nothing can beat my honeycrisp.  They are a perfect food.  Crisp, tart, sweet, delicious. I have literally been dreaming about them for months and anxiously awaiting their return, looking longingly at the apple section but none until today!

Last year I gave them away as gifts to friends and once they tasted one they eagerly awaited my next visit and the presentation of the honeycrisp.  They are expensive.  I spent over $10 on a bag today but worth the price.  Holy cow! I literally yelped in the supermarket when I saw them.

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So while I’m eating my frozen meals I will be supplementing them (its part of the program) with fresh veggies and my delicious honeycrisps! What more can a girl ask for?

Oh and I might get a drinking chocolate every now and then (doesn’t that sound sophisticated?)

Seriously hunt these products down.  You won’t regret it!

(And yes, if either Metro Chocolate or the honeycrisp people want to send me samples I will gladly accept and plug their fabulous products 🙂 )

Aren’t the simple joys the best?  Whoever said you can’t be excited about food and really love it while dieting is crazy!

Foods I Fantasize About

So today I am starting Jenny Craig.   You see,  I’m a tricky dieter because I love to cook but 60-90% of the time I don’t have time to cook.  Plus, I spend all my day at home which means I want to be out, not tempted to work, in the evening.  I finally decided I needed to find something that was easy.

I had always been skeptical about meal diet plans but what sold me is that with JC you get to supplement the meals with your own dairy, veggies and fruit from the very beginning.  You also only eat exclusively JC meals for about 4 weeks and then you reduce to 6, 5, 4 days ect.  I can still have the bountiful baskets with fresh fruits and vegetables along with the packaged meals. A nice combination.

I also thought the weekly consultations was very attractive, at a great price (for a 8 weeks consultation at my gym you get a year at JC).  The meal is personalized.  Like because of my goals and exercise regiment I’m actually eating 1800-2000 calories a day.  This surprised me but gels with what my trainer has been telling me (my reflex is to starve myself when I get diet desperate).

We will see how things go but I’m pretty determined.  I am still going to eat socially but you work that out with your consultant.  Like I had a treat at the wedding I went to tonight but that was discussed and worked into the plan.  Next Saturday I will have breakfast with book club and we will work that into things.   Love!

So, in the meantime I thought I’d tell you about some food I routinely fantasize about when dieting.

1.  Any food from New York including bagels with shmeer, greys papaya hot dogs with grilled onions and sauerkraut, deli sandwiches, pizza (one time I had a thin crust pizza with homemade mozzarella ricotta and sliced meatballs! Been dreaming about it since)

2. Hawaii food- shaved ice…., Ted’s Bakery, Dole whips, anything at grass skirt grill, or cafe haliewa. Shrimp truck shrimp,  fresh pineapple, mangos and coconuts cut open from the stand, thai food, more dole whips

3. All food Italian- maybe it was going to Italy when I was 17 but I love Italian food.  I love pizza, spaghetti and meatballs (my favorite food and they kind of saved my life at one point…), stuffed shells,just good pasta with butter and garlic, caprese salad…sigh

4. Indiana food- pork tenderloin sandwiches that the pork is twice as big as the roll, Mug-n-bun, frozen custard, homemade noodles, chicken and noodles, sweet cream pie, tomatoes with cottage cheese and salt, goulash, cheesy potatoes, lots of potatoes! Love really hot crunchy french fries (and yes Dad I’ve occasionally dipped them in my ice cream!)

5. Other favorites- asian noodles (ramen, pho, whatever), Bombay house Indian food (where I’ve always wanted to go on a date and haven’t to this point), crispy moist fried chicken (harmons is so good),  Cafe Rio pork salad, good sushi (love this place in Midvale called Nagoya Sushi), good barbeque that isn’t too fatty with a good tangy slightly sweet sauce, biscuits and gravy, perfect grilled cheese, light fluffy buttermilk pancakes, fresh baked bread with butter, tacos in almost any form, Maryland blue crabs, all thanksgiving food, my Mother’s pie- any flavor, greek food.  A really good burger or sandwich.  I think I could eat jamba juices every day of my life and never get sick of them.   Our German Christmas meal, pastries, good cheese and ice cream.

6.  A really good steak medium with herbed butter and a baked potato, perfectly roast chicken, turkey.  Love me some meat (could never be a vegetarian).

Oh and I love the scotch kisses at See’s.  Could do without everything else but I love those scotch kisses…

Ok.  Those are some of the best things I’ve ever eaten. There you go! That was fun and I didn’t eat a thing…

Fruit Trays

So everyone knows I love entertaining and making food look beautiful.  The item I’ve probably had the most practice on over the years are fruit and vegetable trays.  I used to work for BYU catering where we made hundreds of fruit trays.  It was there I learned how to cut a pineapple and could get a pineapple cored and cut in about a minute.

Soon after college I got introduced to the Barefoot Contessa and her amazing fruit platters always filled me with glee.  They just looked so pretty :).  Granted she has food stylists and a bevy of helpers (not too mention quite the budget) but I think if you invited Ina Garten to a party she’d bring about as pretty a fruit tray as shown in the pictures.   Incidentally I wonder if Ina Garten’s friends are terrified to invite her over to eat.  How could you measure up?

Anyway, I started a diet on Monday and had to bring a treat to activity days for the young girls at church.  (Age 8-10).  I couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t derail my diet and as I had been a slacker leader the last few months store bought seemed too lame.  So I decided to put together a fruit tray with my famous chocolate yogurt dip (so good!).

I must say I think it is my finest fruit tray creation yet:

Isn’t it pretty? White platters are easy to use for any occasion. The best entertaining tip my Mom gave me.

The fruit tray included strawberries, cherries, envy apples, banana and just for fun star fruit.  I had my chocolate dip (recipe below) and some store-bought caramel sauce (I’ve never quite mastered homemade caramel sauce).

I didn’t know if the girls would like the dark chocolate sauce but I think you can tell from this after shot that they liked it!

That’s what you call a plate licked clean!

Here are Ina Garten’s fruit tray tips:

“Once the base is set, you can add any kind of fruit that’s available.

I like to have one thing that is taller than the rest, such as a large bunch of grapes or a decoratively cut papaya, to give the platter height.

Then I add raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and fresh figs in casual but organized groups. The platter can look like a bowl of M&M’s if there are too many colors scattered with no order.

Visually, your eye needs to have a focal point and to be able to see each type of fruit.

After all the fruit is arranged, I add flat green leaves around the outside of the fruit, to set off the colors. Use lemon and galax leaves from your florist, or fig leaves and grape leaves  from your garden. Make sure they are pesticide-free and well washed.”

Some day I will be so on the ball I have lemon leaves on my trays but I’m proud of my attempt.  I think even kids respond better to something that is presented beautifully and it really doesn’t taken any more effort than throwing it on a plate.   Ok maybe a tiny bit more effort but hardly anything.

Here’s the recipe for the chocolate sauce.  Its super good.  This makes a lot of sauce.

Chocolate Yogurt Sauce

3 Lindt Dark Chocolate Bars- Lindt has tons of flavors including roasted almond, sea salt, chili, mint etc.  They are the best!

1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt

2-3 tbsp whole milk

heat chocolate over double boiler until melted.  Add milk, mix together over heat.   Will get a little thicker as it heats up.

Add yogurt once its cooled down.

Since I was making this for kids I added about a tsp of agave to make it a little sweeter.

You can add chopped nuts, toffee bits or whatever you like.  Can dip anything in it.  Shortbread is amazing!

ingredients for sauce

I made enough this time that I am setting little servings of it aside and freezing them for a quick treat.

single servings of sauce

As best as I can calculate on myfitnesspal.com these servings have 120 calories, 18 carbs, 8 grams fat, 6 grams protein, 11 grams sugar.

Enjoy!

I love sauces and dips. It makes me very happy

The Food Trifecta

So here’s the deal with food.  Over the years I’ve learned that all foods and recipes fall into three categories- it is either fast, cheap or healthy.  What I’ve found is you can usually get 2 out of 3 but the 3 out of 3 foods are very rare (egg dishes almost always fit all 3 but its still hard to find)

For instance, ramen noodles are fast and cheap but definitely not healthy.  A salad is usually fast (depending on chopping time) and healthy but isn’t cheap.  Homemade veggie burgers may be healthy and cheap but not fast.  Macaroni and cheese is fast and cheap but not healthy. Seafood like crab and mussels are healthy and fast but definitely not cheap. You get the idea.

In the end I think you have to pick which 2 areas you are going to focus on most.  If you have the budget than you can focus on fast and healthy.  If you don’t than focus on healthy and cheap.  If health isn’t as big a deal focus on fast and cheap.  Etc.

I just find this type of prioritizing to be helpful. You cannot focus on everything.  Perhaps with kids there is a fourth factor of ‘kid friendly’.  I’m not sure.

For me, I focus more on fast and healthy and less on cheap. Not that I’ll be buying caviar or lobster daily but its just where your focus is. To make things faster I may pay more to buy some salad bar items or prepared items from the deli.

I guess my trifecta doesn’t apply to deserts because let’s be honest 2 out of 3 would rarely apply.  I would just focus on taste for that category.

Taste is a given for anything I eat.  Above all it should be tasty! This is true except for protein drinks which I detest but drink anyway because they are good for me.  (And yes, I’ve tried ALL the brands…). Aside from protein drinks,  I prefer to not have an instant gag reflex when I swallow food. 🙂

What do you think of my trifecta?  Where do you fall on it?

Btw, I’m going on a diet tomorrow.  Not looking forward to it at all.  Please forgive me if I’m a bit grumpy.  Stupid diets…

Rachel’s Favorite Things

So today I am playing Oprah and am going to share some of my favorite things. Unfortunately I can’t give you free stuff so it might be less exciting but always fun to share.

Nantucket Bike Basket

First item I’m excited about is my new bike basket from LL Bean.  Isn’t it so cute and nice and deep to carry a bag of groceries or some mail 🙂

The Nantucket Bike Basket Co (talk about specialization) makes several baskets for LL Bean but this was my favorite.

http://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/69236?feat=69237-ppxs&dds=y

The description on the website says “This durable bike basket is made from very fine rattan cane, woven for a classic, retro look. A replica of the style originally made in Nantucket during the whaling era of the 1920’s. Leather straps attach to your bike’s handlebars.”

What can be wrong with that?
It was actually hard to find a good bike basket so I’m thrilled with this find.

It is $39 with free shipping.

 

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I rarely find a new book that I love.  It’s just hard to get through all the sludge to find something that is clean, engaging and that excites me. Certain genres are harder than others, romance and comedies being the most difficult. Recently I found a book by local author, Julianne Donaldson, called Edenbrooke, that totally won me over.

It is about a girl named Marianne who in the 18th century (Jane Austen era) is bored and lonely with the society at Bath and is sent to the estate of Edenbrooke where she faces some startling situations and a dramatic romance with the flirtatious Phillip.

I was expecting it to be fan fiction but I was engrossed.  It really had great momentum, fantastic romantic tension and wonderful character development. I think Donaldson did almost the impossible by writing a believable Austen-like story that is not over the top romantic but engages the reader.  It was certainly a bold undertaking and I think she totally pulled it off.

It actually had one thing Austen never has- romantic dialogue.  We get it in spades but not so much that it feels like a dime romance novel.  To me it was perfect.  (You know its a good book if you stop listening to the audiobook and start reading because you are dying to know what is going to happen).

Go find it! Read it!

                                                                                  GoPicnic.com

One of my biggest challenges is finding meals that are easy and healthy, especially when I’m exhausted. I need things to be fast, healthy and delicious.  Recently I discovered the gopicnic meals in a box.  They have 9 different boxed meals, 6 of which are gluten free.  Most are under 400 calories and loaded with protein.

I’m not going to say they are the most substantial meal but in a pinch they will do fine.  An example of one meal is:

Turkey Stick and Crunch Meal

  • Old Wisconsin Turkey Snack Stick
  • Popchips Barbeque Potato Chips
  • Niagara Natural Tropical Fruit Bites
  • Sweet Perry Orchards Baja Blend Fruit & Nut Mix
  • Enjoy Life Double Chocolate Cookie

Sounds pretty good hah? I love them as a replacement for fast food or after a work out.  They also worked great for a road trip.

On the gopicnic website you can sign up for a subscription and get them for as low as 3.30 a box.

 

The Middle

I’ve mentioned it briefly on this blog but I love the show The Middle. It has just finished up its 3rd season and I think it gets better and better each year.  The show tells the story of the Hoosiers middle America, Heck family, and their hilarious struggles with everyday living.

The family has a stressed out mom played by Patricia Heaton (much more likable here than in Everybody Loves Raymond).  The level-headed but not stupid Dad is played by Neil Flynn from Scrubs. They are a very realistic couple who  seem to enjoy one another.  It is not a continual complain session by the wife over the husbands dumb antics.

The real stars of the show, however, are the children in the Middle.  The oldest son Axel is played by Charlie McDermott and he is basically my brother as a teenager but maybe more athletic.  Most of the show he is in boxer shorts.  It is a great performance.

My favorite performance is by Eden Sher as middle daughter Sue.  The costume department gets the tween fashion look right and she is perfectly eager. Sue tries out for things and never makes them. (I can certainly relate to that!).  She is also eager to make friends and fit in but that eagerness makes her not fit in and make friends.  I love her!

The youngest Heck is played by Atticus Shaffer as oddball kid Brick.  It is another funny nerdy performance.

In the end the Heck’s feel like a real Hoosier family and they get all the Indiana details right from Colts shrines to trips to Brown County to Tasty Kake and Steak N Shake (regional specialties). As an honorary Hoosier I love the all the details.  Watching The Middle is like being back in Indiana with my friends. 🙂

Lands End Swimsuits

Yes, that’s me in a swimsuit and yes, I have no issues with that.  I’m a big girl and I look good in a swimsuit. Deal with it!

The reason I can say this is thanks to Lands End Swimwear.

They have a wide range of swimwear both casual and active and the thing I love the most about their suits is they have active wear for plus size.  All 3 of my suits are from Lands End.  I don’t know what I would have done without their unique suits.  It is so hard to find active wear for plus sizes and I appreciate their presence in the market.

This month I got my first non-plus size suit from them because I wanted a tankini for longer swims.  I don’t think I’ve ever looked better in a suit. Hurray!

I also like that Lands End has suits that are modest with a low leg line and without being super tight.  Thanks!

 

So there are some products I’m mad for at the moment.  Will keep you posted as I find more.

Smoothie Cubes

So recently I made an exciting purchase.  I finally got a blendtec fancy blender. I’ve been watching craigslist for years to try and find a deal and finally last week one came up.  The lady selling it had only had it for a year but said she never really used it and so she gave me a deal.  I got about a $450 blender for $285.  It’s still a lot of money but well worth it.

My new toy. Blendtec!

But as I started to use my blender I came up with a problem because I couldn’t drink an entire blender of smoothie without going crazy on the calories.  However, I didn’t want to throw away half a pitcher of smoothie.  (Since I live alone I must solely consume all of the food I make unless I have company.)

Hmmmm…what’s a girl to do?

Here’s my solution-

Smoothie Cubes

Pour some for a snack/lunch. Still have a lot left over? What to do?

Take leftover smoothie and put it in silicon ice cube trays

Use silicon ice cube trays to put the smoothie in. The silicon ice cube trays I got at TJ Maxx 2 for $9.95

Takes longer than regular ice to get solid enough.Once it is frozen, press cube out of silicon and put into ziploc or other freezer container.

Smoothie cubes!

Then they are perfect for a quick treat or to make a new smoothie with a little bit of orange juice or coconut water added.

Perfect for a little poppable frozen summer treat!
Delicious!

Ah, best idea ever!