the food bitch

people call me a food bitch. not because of any gourmet tendencies (i go on a weekly fridge-sniff to see what needs to be thrown away), but due to my healthy lifestyle know-how and big mouth. i have a big mouth when it comes to food.

part healthy living, part recipe showcase, part food review - i do a little bit of everything.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

apples, pears, and raspberries! (and pumpkins!)

Today was a fruity day.

Today was a lazy day. A lazy and fruity day.

Why I took an hour and a half nap after doing absolutely nothing is beyond me. But when I woke up, I had to leave the house.

So I went and got myself a pumpkin, and a few groceries for dinner.

I haven't carved a pumpkin in years. Honestly, I've never really carved a pumpkin. I was so bad at it as a child, that I ended up throwing in the towel, and my Mom bought me a nice set of poster paints. I could barely even do that right.

But you know what, I wanted to carve me a pumpkin. And I did, more or less. It's actually outside right now, and it I wasn't pretty cold, I'd go grab a picture. But I'm cold, and stepping outside might kill me. It probably wouldn't, but you never know.

I carved a bat into it. A bat that's missing a chunk of ear. I was able to slip the little bit of ear back in there, and you'd never even know that it's disconnected. Let's just hope a small animal doesn't carry it off in the middle of the night.

After carving a pumpkin for an hour and a half, I was pretty hungry. So I got up off of my kitchen floor, and started on dinner. On the menu tonight was Caramelized Onion Chicken and Apple Pear Slaw.

Caramelized Onion Chicken
Servings: 2
WW Points: 3

8oz uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup sliced onions
1/4 cup Smuckers sugar free red raspberry preserves
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp peeled, minced ginger root
1/4 tsp dried rosemary

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 2 minutes. Add chicken to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove onion and chicken from pan.

Add jam and remaining ingredients to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return chicken mixture to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.



This was absolutely delicious. It was quick and easy, and I made barely any mess (which is incredible - I am the world's most messy cook). The original recipe called for regular raspberry preserves, and that would have made for a stickier, sweeter sauce, but I think the sugar free preserves did the job. The ginger and rosemary made it smell amazing. This is definitely something I'm making again, and soon.


Apple and Pear Slaw
Sevings: 3
WW Points: 1

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp poppy seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 cups thinly sliced apple
1 cups thinly sliced pear
1/2 (12oz) package cabbage and carrot coleslaw

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine apple, pear, and coleslaw in a large bowl; stir in dressing. Chill up to 2 hours.



My slaw, on the other hand, not so good. The regular coleslaw mix that I found was looking not so hot, so I picked up a bag of rainbow slaw. This was probably a good move on my part, because at least the mix of veggies added some flavor. The vinegar marinade was.. very vinegary, but not much else.

Hey, but my roasted potatoes were good!

I thoroughly realize that I need better lighting in my kitchen. Just looking around, I realize that my kitched does actually look yellow. The sun was actually out today, and my kitchen looked, you know, white. It kind of messed with my eyes.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Part 2!

I haven't had one of those bagels yet.

I have, however, made dinner. I had made pinto bean burgers not too long ago, and they were good, but kind of crumbly and mushy (at the same time!). They were good, mind you, but the texture left something to be desired.

So I found a recipe for black bean burgers. black bean burgers with cucumber and red pepper relish, to be exact. I've got nothing better to do, so why not make 'em.

They were actually incredibly quick to make, and they turned out quite a bit better than the pinto bean burgers. The breadcrumbs bound everything together and kept them moist without the crumbly.

Black Bean Burgers with Cucumber and Red Pepper Relish
Servings: 2
WW Points: 5

Relish:
1/3 cup cucumber(s)
1/4 cup bell pepper(s)
2 Tbsp red onion(s)
1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dill
dash of salt
dash of ground red pepper

Burgers:
1/2 of a 15.5oz. can black beans
2 Tbsp dried bread crumbs
2 Tbsp red onion
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp Egg Beaters
2 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
2 Country Kitchen Light Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

To prepare relish, combine first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill 2 hours.

To prepare burgers, place beans in a large bowl; partially mash with a fork. Stir in breadcrumbs and next 5 ingredients (breadcrumbs through egg beaters). Divide bean mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty.

Prepare grill.

Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 5 minutes on each side or until thoroughly heated. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise on the bottom half of each bun; top each with a patty, 1/4 cup relish, and top half of bun. Garnish with dill sprigs, if desired.


Obviously, it's pouring out so I just cooked them on the stove. Nice and crispy on the outside, mushy and hot on the inside. The honey and lime in the relish wasn't overpowering, so you were able to taste a little bit of everything. This recipe's a keeper, for sure.


Chi-chi-chipotle!

So I was supposed to go apple picking this weekend.

So it's been raining in New York a lot lately.

So I got up really early, went to the gym, hit the grocery store, and came back and made Chipotle Chicken Stew. I guess if I can't pick apples, dreary day cooking is the next best thing.



This is a beautiful soup for the current weather. Actually, it would have been great for after apple picking. Maybe I'll remember that for next time. Considering the fact that I have not cooked with meat in a good six months, I think it came out pretty well.

Chipotle Chicken Stew
Servings: 8
WW Points: 3

1 1/4 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup onions
3 garlic cloves
1/2 pound uncooked red potatoes
3/4 cup carrots
2 Tbsp canned tomato paste
3/4 tsp ground cumin
24 oz fat-free chicken broth
22 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 1/2 items Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/4 tsp table salt
1 Tbsp cilantro

Place a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add the chicken; sauté 7 minutes or until browned. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

Add oil to pan. Add onion; sauté 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add potato and the next 6 ingredients (potato through chiles); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chicken and salt; cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro.

Serving size: 1 cup

Chipotles in adobo, how i love you.

At the grocery store, I found Thomas Mini Caramel Apple Bagels. The "Made with real apples!" and festive ghost and scary tree on the package made me unable to resist. I'll be into those later.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I Didn't Even Have To Use My AK

Oh, what a good food day.

Breakfast - pancakes with sliced apples and syrup.

Lunch - veggie sausage quesadilla (which got rudely interrupted by a phone call - but at least it was to confirm that I'm going apple picking next weekend!)

Dinner - oven baked breast of tofu (yes, it was successful!) and an obscene amount of mashed potatoes

And for dessert.... Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies



Oh, and they were good. They are good, as I'll be munching on these for a few days. These are a really moist, light brownie and the smell is just amazing. I've been craving everything pumpkin lately, and by adding chocolate to it, well, I'm satisfied.

Pumpkin Chocolate Brownies
16 servings
2 WW points

Ingredients:

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking cocoa
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat 8-inch-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine sugar, pumpkin, egg, egg whites and oil in large mixer bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Add flour, baking powder, cocoa, cinnamon, allspice, salt and nutmeg. Beat on low speed until batter is smooth. Stir in morsels. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into 2-inch squares.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Elle-an Can Cook Tofu!

I love tofu. Yes, I love tofu a lot. I have a favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Albany, and man, can they cook tofu. The seared tofu steak is amazing, as is the tofu curry. However, I did not go to Vans tonight. No, I had a chunk of tofu in my fridge.

I always buy tofu and have great expectations for it. I've tried barbecue tofu, I've tried honey baked tofu, I've tried five spice tofu burritos. They all have one thing in common - disaster. After each disaster, I always admit defeat and swear to only stick to being spoiled by the people who know how to cook it correctly. But always, after a couple of months, I decide to try again. This past weekend, I bought a chunk of light extra-firm tofu at my local Price Chopper. As I was checking out, the kid bagging my groceries said, "Hey, I didn't know they made light tofu." I laughed and said something dorky along the lines of, "Hey, they sure do!" But then he said it again, this time to the cashier, "Hey, I didn't know they made light tofu!" The cashier ignored him. So he said it again. I was ready to say, "Yeah, I bet there's a lot of things you don't know, which is why you're bagging my groceries," but instead I just laughed nervously and turned away from him.

Anyway, I made it home with my light tofu (hey, did you know they make light tofu?), and decided I should just start with a simple stir fry (or something like a stir fry, considering the fact that I cook with minimum amounts of oil). Very simple. I started with a teaspoon of oil, almost a teaspoon of ground ginger, and a small onion. After cooking that for five minutes, I added in two cups of sliced zucchini, my light tofu (!), a tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce and a tablespoon of water. I mixed it very, very gently (my main problem is that my tofu usually falls apart and becomes mush) and let the zucchini cook up. And you know what, it was good. It was very good! My tofu did not fall apart, it was spicy and salty and.. my tofu did not fall apart!



Okay, so it may not look like the most delicious dinner ever, but I strongly believe in the appearances are decieving thing. Now I have another half-chunk of tofu in my fridge, and I'll be back to report my breaded breast of tofu dinner on Saturday. Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ode to Snacking on a Dreary Day

So it's Columbus Day, the end of my three day weekend. What have I done with myself? I've cleaned my apartment, or am in the process of cleaning my apartment (the living room and entry way are the only parts left, and really there isn't much to do other than pick up some newspapers and vaccuum. I'm a little apprehensive because I found (and lost) a rather large spider that was on my front door last night. I have no idea where it went, and am content in thinking that I may just have imagined it, because it was 2am, and I was very tired when (I thought) I saw it. I've also hung up a few Halloween decorations. A very few, I need to get more.

I always have trouble cleaning up because I get so distracted. I took an 11am break to watch the Price is Right (a home on a weekday tradition that goes all the way back to staying home with my Nannie when I was in elementary school and sick), and am taking another break now. My stomach felt a little bored and rumbly while I was watching ol' Bob, so I went through my cabinets.

I love snack food. When I considered myself as being "on a diet" I never wanted to snack. Now that I've made permanent changes in the way I eat, well, if I didn't snack, I'd probably die. The thing is, though, I love buying new healthy-ish snack foods so much that my cabinets get full and I have more food than I know what to do with. So I found a bag of Guiltless Gourmet Chipotle Tortilla Chips.



I've tried other varieties of Guiltless Gourmet chips, and they've all generally been good. Nice amount of flavor coating, crisp, and fresh tasting (without the stale, kind of foamy taste that Baked Tostitos leaves in my mouth). However, these chipotle tortilla chips are the best flavor I've tried yet. They're not overly spicy, however they do pack a tangy, slightly cheesy punch that left me licking the plate I put them on.

As far as the nutritional information goes, a serving of 28 grams (I'm a slave to my digital food scale), you're getting 120 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 2 grams of dietary fiber. That's 2 weight watchers points, pretty typical for a baked chip. They also contain no trans fats, and 200mg of sodium. They do taste less salty than a lot of baked chips, but they also have what a lot of baked chips don't have - a good, strong flavor.

I haven't even showered yet today, and should go back to cleaning. I may require another snack break shortly...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Before & The After

So, a little introduction is in order. I'm Ellen. I'm 24 years old, live in upstate New York, and I love food. You'll see how much I love and have loved food in a second.

We'll start our little introduction by way of my trusty time machine, otherwise known as the box of fat photos that I keep under my bed so that no one (no one unwilling to brave the dust bunnies, anyway) will see. Let's take a trip back to September, 2002. Ah, September. I remember you well. Well, I don't, the only thing I do remember is that this is the month my sister got married. And I was selected to be the maid of honor.







So here I am. Just barely 21 years old, and clocking in at 260 - 270 pounds. My college diet consisted of taco bell express, veggie melts with fries dipped in mayonnaise, and lots and lots of swedish fish. I'm not exaggerating, I would sometimes even eat two two-packs of poptarts for breakfast. And the soda, oh the soda.



I wasn't terribly unhappy, but I just didn't feel well. I didn't feel like a normal young person, socially or physically. I had friends, I had had a boyfriend (who loved me very much before he cheated on me), but I still didn't feel right.



Fast forward to the winter of 2003. Things had reached a head for me. I was miserable, and hated the state I had put myself in. I tried diet and exercise, but my diet was more like starvation and my exercise was extreme. I had no idea why it wasn't working. New Year's came and went, and it finally dawned on me - Weight Watchers!


I had joined Weight Watchers with my mother while I was in high school, and lost about 80 pounds (which yes, I gained back in college). I talked to my mother about it, and she figured if it had worked once, it might as well work again. I was feeling apprehensive, I knew I could follow the program, but could I really do it? For good? By the second week of January, I was willing to at least try it and find out.



So my first weigh-in had me at exactly 260 pounds. I received my plan materials, listened to the meeting, and went on my first week's journey towards feeling more like I thought I ought to feel.



What surprised me most was how much food I could eat. I could eat! That first week, I had a hard time even getting all the points I was supposed to be eating. I didn't realize at that point that I didn't have to eat a small veggie salad with fat free cottage cheese for lunch. I could eat decent-sized portions of foods I actually liked (though I have come to like cottage cheese very much since then - it makes me feel like a grandma), I could eat real food as long as I put the effort into controlling my portions and keeping track of what I was putting into my mouth.



I hate to say it was easy. I hate to tell people it was easy, because I know it isn't for most people. But to be completely honest with you, for me - it was easy. It made so much sense! I eat sensible portions of healthy, balanced foods, I exercise, drink my water, and what?! I'll lose weight?! Imagine that. I found that I had self control, and that discovery alone was almost as good as losing 135 pounds.



Yes, folks. I lost 135 pounds. I weigh somewhere between 123 - 125 on any given day. I have so much energy, so much more stamina, and heck, I even went to Disney World!







Yep, that's me. As of September, 2005. Ah September, I remember you well. That's because you were only a month ago.