Thursday, June 18, 2009

Holey Moley!

I’m relatively new to the world of food blogs, and one thing which has struck me is the speed with which a new food item can “take off.” Take Amazing Meal products for example. Among the proponents of the Green Monster smoothies, Amazing Meal has recently become such a raging phenom that I felt compelled to run to Whole Paycheck (ahem… Whole Foods) to grab a couple packets for myself. I plan on trying my first GM this weekend… stay tuned as I step into the truly healthful world of DRINKING my greens! Anyway, Amazing Meal, Adora chocolates, whey protein powder, Mix my Granola, and other pricey (but healthful, interesting, and TASTY) items have gone through spurts of popularity and sometimes stick around (other times they disappear into the food fad world of oblivion).

While I may sound a bit cynical, that is not my intention. I think it’s wonderful that there are all these fantastic healthful products being created. It shows that more people are starting to value their health in new ways. And when these products are local (or at least available at a local supermarket!), it makes me all the happier!

This leads me to one new product that I’m seeing crop up more and more frequently that does NOT make me happy. Holey Donuts. The premise of Holey Donuts (“great tasting donuts without the fat and calories”) sounds amazing. And I am not faulting them for coming up with new ways to remove fat, especially trans fat, from these notorious treats. I am all for the removal of trans-fats.

But I do take issue with their means of distributing these miraculous donuts. According to the website, these donuts must remain frozen until you eat them because they don’t have the same preservatives as shelf donuts. On the website, it describes how, “one by one, we then gently hand package and freeze the donuts before shipping them to you with our carefully designed frozen FedEx delivery system.”

Yikes. I live in California and these donuts are only produced in New York, so if I wanted to order these donuts, they would have to be FLOWN OVERNIGHT in special little freezer box thing. The carbon footprint of flying across the country like that? 2.5 TONS of CO2. At least.

Second thing: are these donuts REALLY that much healthier? I rarely ever eat donuts, but when I do, I like chocolate frosted. A chocolate frosted donut from Dunkin has 230 calories and 11 grams of fat (4.5 of which are saturated fat). A chocolate frosted Holey donut has 149 calories and 3 grams of fat (less than one gram of sat-fat). So I would save 81 calories and 8 grams of fat by buying the Holey version, yes? WRONG.

Holey Donuts has a minimum purchase amount of $35!!! Thirty five bucks just on donuts! Even if I do the cheapest and least caloric choice to add up to $35.85 (3 packages of the chocolate-vanilla-and caramel combo), I end up with 18 donuts, 2670 calories, and 54 grams of fat. OUCH. I'd much rather buy one donut than get roped into buying EIGHTEEN!

Oh and in addition to the $35.85 you spend on 18 donuts (already almost $2/donut), I looked up the FedEx charges for overnight shipping from NYC to California. Between 40-70 dollars!!! So basically, I could drop as much as $105. ON 18 DONUTS.

I don't want rain all over Holey Donuts' parade, so I will mention that they are trying to open up franchise stores, in which case I would be happy to walk on over to my local Holey Donuts to give low-fat donuts a chance. But until I can get to them without a special-frozen-mass-packaged-airplane approach, I am staying far away from Holey Donuts!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Formatting Issues

Hmm.... very puzzled on the strange fonts in the previous post. Computer is going LOOPY!
Well this was quite a prolific weekend for me in the kitchen! Sadly, being new to the whole “photograph my food” concept, I often forgot to get pictures, but I’ll be more diligent in the future, I promise. I work T-W-T, so I am very fortunate to have F-S-S-M as my weekend! WOO HOO!

My cooking began in earnest on Saturday. For dinner, I made chicken with homemade BBQ sauce, succotash, and salad. The BBQ sauce turned out great! The basic elements were:

1 cup ketchup

5 good shakes of onion powder

2 cloves of crushed garlic

3 tsp. of Worcester sauce

¼ cup of brown sugar

1 drizzle of molasses

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

10 good shakes of cinnamon

Sounds extremely bizarre, but tasted great! I kind of mashed two recipes together (one was a sweeter, more Carolina style BBQ recipe and the other had some more spice to it).

The succotash was another hit! I had never had succotash until a week or two ago when I ordered it at the Station House Cafe in Pt. Reyes and LOVED it. I had always thought succotash was some kind of squash (my brother thought it was a root vegetable!) but turns out, “succotash” means a mix of corn and beans.

Station House CafĂ© Succotash (Katy’s Recreation)

3 ears of sweet corn

1 can of black beans (rinsed)

½ red bell pepper, chopped into one inch pieces

15-20 fava bean pods

The trickiest part of the recipe for me was the fava beans! I have never cooked them before, so I was a little unsure. I shelled the pods (about 4-5 beans per pod) and put the beans into boiling water, and after 10-12 minutes, took the beans out and removed the thick bean skin. BUT next time I cook fava beans, I think I will de-skin the beans before boiling! The beans turned out a little mushier than I would have liked, because I wasn’t able to monitor their texture while cooking. I looked it up and there seems to be no difference between cooking with/without the skin.

For the rest of the succotash, simply mix some cooked corn with the beans and bell pepper and add the favas when done! I didn’t cook the bell peppers, because I wanted something in the salad to have some good crunch. It was excellent and very colorful! (Next time there will be pictures!)

But I must say, Sunday was my day of cooking. I began the day with a wonderful bike ride to the Farmer’s Market for some yummy produce. I had been visualizing a trio of vegetarian appetizers as a meal: one soup, one salad, and one smaller veggie based dish so I knew I would need lots of fantastic produce to keep the meal fresh and interesting.

On the menu, I had:

Fresh Pea and Mint Soup (served chilled although the recipe and my brother recommend it hot):

2 cups diced yellow onion

2-3 cloves of garlic, diced finely

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 cups of fresh or frozen peas (I personally think fresh made all the difference!)

Handful of fresh spinach

4 cups water

10 sprigs of fresh mint (used mint from our garden!)

First sautee the onions and garlic in the olive oil, then add the spinach, peas, and water and then simmer the peas until they turn bright green. Pour it all into the blender with the mint and just blend until smooth. Garnish with a mint sprig if you're feeling festive!

Summer Fig Salad

Combine the following in a big bowl or compose them prettily on individual plates:

Spring greens

Walnuts (roasted in a few pinches of brown sugar and salt)

Cherry halves

Fig slices

Pear slices

So this salad was YUMMOLICIOUS. My brother and I kind of threw it together with whatever fresh fruit we wanted to use up. FAB results!

And my personal fave of the evening:

Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

2 medium zucchini

½ cup quinoa

15 oz (1 can) of cannellini beans

1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

¼ cup crumbled herb goat cheese

2 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the quinoa to 1 cup of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 10-12 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all water. Meanwhile, cut the zukes long-ways and then scoop out the seeds to make little zucchini boats. When the quinoa is ready, fold in the cheese, olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, almonds and beans. You can use any cheese you like (the recipe I got it from had 3/4 cup of shaved Parmesan instead of the goat cheese I used but I loved the goat cheese flavor and highly reccomend it!) Then simply fill the zukes, cover in foil and bake for 30ish minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10ish minutes. SOOOO delicious!

Finally came dessert!

Light Strawberry Ice Cream

5 cups of 1% milk

1 cup of whole milk

¾ cup of organic cane sugar

1 cup of strawberries

2 capfuls of vanilla

Simply mix the whole milk and sugar and then add in the berries, 1% milk and vanilla. Pour mixture into a homemade ice cream maker (fill the bucket with layered ice and rock salt). Crank that ice cream for 25 minutes and you will end up with 2 GIANT Tupperwares of ice cream (probably 15+ servings!).

This one was SUCH a hit with the Dad and brother. I was worried they wouldn’t like the texture since it is NOT creamy and thick like usual homemade ice cream. But everyone agreed that even though the texture was different, the taste was still distinctly homemade. Dad and the brother went back for seconds and were seriously contemplating thirds (especially after I told Dad how few calories were in it).

Well, time for bed so I can be up bright and early for a pre-work workout. Yoga tonight was FAB! More on that later...

Friday, June 12, 2009

The best laid plans...

Well I had plans to be extremely productive this afternoon. Which promptly went out the window as soon as Dad and Robby asked if I wanted to go hit a bucket of balls at the driving range. Of course! So I had a fun afternoon with the guys. Before I left, I had a great big salad for lunch.

Sauteed kale (in a bit of EVOO) with celery, carrots cherry tomatoes, and cannellini. I had been envisioning garbanzo beans with kale, tomatoes, and TONS of cucumber. But we were out of garbanzo's and I have a sneaking suspicion that Dad threw out the rest of the cuke on one of his fridge-purges. (My mum keeps every last bit in a tupperware and Dad periodically has to just get all the junk out!)

It wasn't the best salad ever, but the last minute addition of some dried cranberry added a fun sweet element that was surprisingly delicious! Kale and cranberries... might have to explore this!

On the side were some yummy raspberries in Mum's pretty bowl.

After the driving range, I needed a little afternoon pick-me-up. Whole wheat bread with almond butter and sprinkled with some dried coconut and raisins was the PERFECT afternoon snack! Yummers.

Pictures of food are actually quite difficult! I'll have to work on some artsy camera angles :-)

Well, heading out to the beach and dinner! Later gators...

A Yoga-Oaty morning

Good morning! Today I will embark on the exciting world of food photography! Yes, it will probably look a bit strange to take photos of my food--especially in restaurants!-- but I think food can be so beautiful! I laughed out loud (but definitely agreed) with Jenna (EatLiveRun blogger) when she dubbed pictures of her vegan chocolate cake drizzled with warm almond butter "food porn." It's a recipe I want to try one of these days! Yum-0!

Well, my morning is off to a good start. One of my goals for this summer is to improve my ability to cope with stress in healthy ways so that my upcoming senior year will be less stresssful than my 24/7 high-stress junior year. Part of this I hope to achieve through a balanced, healthy approach to food and nourishment, but I am also very interested in strengthening the mind-body connection. Soo... in pursuit of this, I am beginning to give yoga a chance. As a cardio junkie (running, elliptical, kickboxing, spinning, and killer workout DVDs being my preferred method of exercise), I have never had much patience for yoga. Anything where lying down and breathing is part of the plan seemed very wimpy to me.

HA! When I was in Bath, I decided to take a yoga class. MAJOR humbling experience. Because of years of running, I am about as tightly wound as can be. I can barely reach my toes. And while running will always be therapeutic for me, I have realized recently that my body needs some exercise that's a little less harsh than the constant pounding my joints endure when I run.

Currently, I am taking a few weeks off from running to let my IT band rest. I had been having problems with excruciating knee pain on my runs, and so I've cut the running for a bit to let it heal. I am running a half marathon in September, so I need my legs to be good and strong!

This morning, I started off with 15 minutes of yoga from my mum's Gaiam DVD. I am thinking of starting every day with just 15 (or 30 minutes) of yoga. It left me feeling energized, but I can tell I have a LONG way to go until yoga can be a good, solid workout for me! I'm just not flexible enough yet. Well, practice, practice, practice!

For breakfast, I had a delicious bowl of Overnight Oats (YAY Kath from KathEatsRealFood) for coming up with this fabulous concept. The night before, simply mix 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup vanilla soy milk and 1/3 cup whole oats together and pop it in the fridge. Overnight, it becomes kind of mousse-like and then in the morning, you can top it with whatever yummy ingredients you want. Obviously, the yogurt and milk types are flexible: you can use soy milk, hemp milk, almond milk: whatever floats your milk boat!

This morning I topped mine with strawberries, banana, peach, and Kashi GoLean Crunch for some good, crunchy bits.

I've gotten both my parents hooked on overnight oats. My mum likes them so much that she brought little mini bowls to her book club for all the ladies to try! Well, I have a busy day planned, and then this afternoon my parents, brother, and I are going to the beach and our favorite restaurant in Half Moon Bay: Mezza Luna!

More later!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My blogging debut!

Well, looks like I am joining the blogosphere. I am a strange candidate for the term "blogger" as I usually avoid technological advances until I absolutely MUST deal with them. I still listen to the radio every day. I have an iPod but it's four years old and held together with Scotch tape. The battery life is good for about a nine-mile run but no more and usually I forget to charge it. I check out books on tape, DVDs and VHS tapes (along with wonderful-smelling books) from the library-- even my parents are cooler than me and use Netflix. I can't stand text message abbreviations: as an English major, I cannot help but object to such mangling and distortion of words.

I think I just find it all a bit overwhelming: we can "friend" people or "tweet" to them; we can post, comment, log, blog, email, IM, skype. All of these were at one point nouns, but now as verbs, they are an active part of our existence. I can be "googled," "facebooked," or "skyped." There are probably even more tech-y means of communication which I cannot properly parody as I haven't the faintest clue what they might be. But I think I might be able to adjust to this blogging thing. Especially when I figure out how to load pictures. Pictures make everything better!

Well, now that I've established myself firmly in your minds as a crotchety anti-tech 70 year old, let me introduce myself more accurately. My name is Katy and I'm a 21 year old college student. I go to school in Virginia at the College of William and Mary, but I grew up in the Bay Area of California. I'm currently home in CA for the summer and interning three days per week in Berkeley. I won't be mentioning the job much here, as I find blogging about one's workplace to be rather unprofessional, but suffice it to say, I really enjoy the people I work with and it is a fabulous opportunity for me.

Now on to more interesting things!

Today was one of those days where I was excited ALL MORNING for my lunch. I had packed it the night before, so I knew it was going to be good. I wish I had a picture, but I'll start to add those as soon as I get more adept with this.

I had a yuumolicious salad for lunch and some raw fruit and veggies which I ate for my morning and afternoon snacks. The secret to the salad was one fun little trick with walnuts!


2 cups spinach
handful of raspberries
handful of chopped apple pieces (with a bit of lemon juice on them to give them a lemony twist and keep them from getting brown)
1/2 cup chopped chicken breast
about 7 walnut halves given the "royal treatment"

Okay I admit it, I completely invented the "royal treatment" stuff, but here's the trick:

Take about 7 walnut halves and snap each one in half to increase the number of yummy bits you'll sprinkle on your salad. Then toss these pieces into a small non-stick pan and-- on high heat--warm up the walnuts until they start to release some oil. Then throw about 1.5 teaspoons of brown sugar and a good sized pinch of kosher salt in the pan. Push the walnuts, sugar, and salt around (using a spatula) until the sugar melts and coats the walnuts. This should happen pretty quickly. You won't get a full coating with this small amount of sugar, but you don't need to use more. The full flavor of brown sugar stands up well to the walnuts and the small amount of sugar keeps it calorie-friendly and not overly sweet. And the salt/sweet combo is BRILLIANT. Simple and perfect. Maybe I should call it the Jackie-O treatment :-)

Anyway, I think that's it for now. Not sure what dinner will shape up to be but I'll keep you "posted." Warning: I frequently crack myself up with puns. Please ignore the silliness.