Saturday, January 31, 2009

Low Cal and Healthy on a limit

So I've been crashing at Jordan's house, sleeping on the couch in an apartment full of boy. To say that the kitchen is up to par would be an understatement, but I make it work.

Now I don't expect his kitchen to be spotless, or even have half the utensils I have, but the boy uses plastic red cups and paper plates. His pots don't have lids and you'd be hard pressed to find any Tupperware or even plastic wrap. In fact, spices are few and far between. But these are all reasons I love him and fodder for making fun on him on a constant basis.

The upside of Jordans humble abode, is that he lives ACROSS THE STREET from Vons! Vons is just a basic grocery store, like Ralphs, or Kroger, or Publix, but the fact that it is so close, means FRESH fruits, veggies, and meats!

It's very hard to keep dieting and eating healthy on a "budget" and even more so in someone elses house. I did my best.

Blackened Lemon Chicken, with brown rice and black beans.

On a whim, I grabed a medium sized pan, added a small amount of olive oil, and threw in a VERY seasoned chicken breast. I coated the chicken in lots of yummy spices, I used a chicken rub, a Montreal seasoning, and also some Mrs. Dash. I worked with what I had at my disposal, gimme a break people. I threw the chicken into the hot oil, and used the juice from one fresh lemon, 1/2 half squeezed over each half of the chicken. I then added about 1/3 a cup of water to the pan and covered with foil since I didn't have a lid. I cooked the chicken for about 7 minutes on each side or until cooked and the "sauce" I made had reduced.

I made some "boil in a bag" brown rice and a can of low sodium black beans, and arranged them on my very sexy paper plate. I assume that Jordan and Shaun's carbon footprint is pretty high.

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Friday, January 30, 2009


I was up in LA this weekend for work and some hang out time with my friends Jordan and Shaun. They met me on the Westside and let me choose the restaurant this time, so I didn't have much choice but to pick Gaby's Mediterranean in Culver City.

Three years ago, I discovered this shining little gem while looking for a place to cater my 25th birthday party. We showed up, ordered one of this and that, and sat in food heaven for a few hours. So I feel like I have an obligation to share my find with everyone I meet.

Gaby's has 3 locations on the Westside, but the Culver City one is my favorite. Parking totally sucks, but they have a great outdoor covered dining patio.

We started off with some pita, and zaatar. I've tried to make my own zaatar, and it didn't turn out so well, so if anyone has a recipe for it, let me know!!

The boys ordered "Mountain Dew" but instead got "Mango Juice". I suppose the term "lost in translation" is fitting here.

Anyway! I've tried a lot of hummus in my life. I'm a bit of a hummus freak, if you will. I even attempted making my own, which wasn't nearly as good as this lil puppy.

Gaby's hummus is so amazing that we had to order two. Seriously. After we ran out of pita bread, Jordan was eating it with a fork, which kinda grossed me out, but it really is that good.

While we waited for our food, we ordered an Apple Hookah. We are HUGE Hookah freaks, and I usually don't smoke hookah unless I am with the boys. The fact that they had hookah made both Jordan and Shaun VERY happy.

For all those hookah lovers out there, the apple hookah had a nice sweet flavor, and a spicy tang at the end with almost a licorice aftertaste. It almost tasted like I was smoking absinthe!

I ordered my favorite thing, Lemon Chicken and I substituted a Greek Salad for the house salad.

Personally, it had a bit too much feta cheese for my liking, but after I picked most of it out, it was really yummy. They have a great Greek dressing.

The Lemon Chicken was a total cheat on my whole "eating healthier" thing, but OMG isn't this so worth it?! The chicken was uber tender and the rice is so yummy with the sauce on it. I didn't inhale too much of that sauce so I still think I am pretty ok.

Shaun got the beef kabobs, with rice and house salad.

And Jordan got the Salmon kabobs with rice and house salad.

Everyone pretty much finished their plates. We sat around for about another hour finishing the hookah, paid the check and headed home. We were all stuffed and the whole meal, drinks, hookah AND tip was only around $25 each. I love that Gaby's has such great filling meals but not too much out of pocket.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sammies for lunch!

I had yet another sandwich at the San Fransisco Saloon, but this time I opted for a side salad and not the black beans. I asked for a Italian or a vinaigrette but instead got some creamy mustard dressing. It wasn't bad, but unexpected. A few too many veggies on the salad for my taste, so I picked off the ones I wasn't too keen on. Carrots FTW.

Super good, as always.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blueberry Muffin in a Bowl

It's been a few days without a post, but I've been really busy in my real life! Good thing I've been taking lots of pictures so I'd have a lot to blog about when I got back to the interwebz.

Last week, we got hit with a cold spell in Southern California. It was the worst. To combat my coldness, I took advantage of the fact that I had a huge new bag of Coach's Oats in the pantry!!

Lately I've been trying lots of new ways to cook oatmeal, and this recipe has definitely an instant fave.

What you need:

1/2 cup Coach's Oats*
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tbsp I can't Believe it's not Butter Spray
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans (optional)

* If you don't have Coach's Oats, or any other Irish, or Steel Cut oatmeal, and just wanna use plain ol' Quaker of the like, use 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/2 cup water.

Steel-cut oats are the inside of the oat kernel which have been cut into only two or three pieces, so they are a lot more coarse. They have a lower glycemic index than instant oats, but take longer to cook, thus needing more liquids. They tend to be a bit more "grainy" but I think their extra texture adds a nice touch.

Combine the oats, milk, water, butter spray and blueberries into a med sized saucepan over medium heat.

When the liquids and oats thicken, add spices, vanilla, and sugar. By now the blueberries should have expanded and gotten all warm and yummy, some might even have popped creating a bluish purple colored oatmeal.

At this point I added a handful of pecans for some crunch and protein, but this is totally optional, but totally worth it. If you don't like pecans, almonds, or walnuts work fine too.

All in all it was super yummy and delicious and totally hit the spot. It stuck to my ribs all morning and kept me really full til lunch.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Pat & Oscars

Today the family went to the Mall to go see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Usually my mom and I have movie/lunch dates and we go see something really mushy or girlie together. It makes me feel like less of a sap if I'm taking my mom, plus I don't really enjoy super girlie movies now that I'm older and have taste. But since Benjamin Button got such great reviews, and so many award nods, my dad wanted to tag along.

It's hard to eat out at the mall, especially "healthy". Sure there is subway, or salad bars, but those get old quick. We had an hour to kill. We wanted to sit down. We wanted GOOD food.

Enter, Pat & Oscars! It's a Southern Californian chain and in my opinion an institution. I have been noshing at Pat & Oscars since high school, and it's always so good.

It's the kind of place where you ask your friends, "Where do you wanna eat?", and someone will say, "Well.. there is always Pat & Oscars." and everyone says,"OMG PAT & OSCARS OMG YES!".

My dad had never been there, but my mom and I had been to many events catered by them. I've mentioned before that my dad is VERY PICKY when it comes to what he believes is "good food", and folks, I think we have a winner.

They have these really great meal combos for 1,2 or 4, and be warned, they are HUGE.

We got the Lemon Chicken meal for 2 which came with a WHOLE chicken, a medium greek salad and 8 breadsticks.

I had a plate full of salad,2 breadsticks with their YUMMY House Mustard Dressing, (makes it taste like a hot pretzel! OMG YUM!!) and a chicken breast, skin removed.

Anything my mom and I couldn't eat, my dad finished. I thought with the amount of food we had we would have at least a few leftovers, but that idea quickly faded. It was more than enough for 3 people for lunch. Even the meals for one are pretty big. The whole meal cost under $20, and I'm sure the next time any of us are in the area, be it for a movie or just shopping, that we will stop in for lunch again.

On a side note, the movie was pretty good. Kind of a tear jerker if you see it with your mom, but still cute. The makeup and CGI was amazing. A bit different than the short story, and longer than needed, but still a nice movie.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

I LOVE the Wii Fit!!

Lil Wii Fit!

Seriously! I got it, and in about 3 days, I've lost 3 lbs and a point off my BMI! It's pretty inspiring!!

If you own a Wii, and wanna get fit, I recommend getting the Wii Fit. It's really easy to use and it's totally motivating.

This is the step aerobics, one of my favorites. As you use it and get better, you unlock the Advanced, and Free step programs.

I prefer the Advanced cuz it's got more fun moves and the Free Step is pretty rad cuz you basically set how long you wanna go for, switch over to TV, and just watch it while the Wiimote takes over as your trainer, keeping track for you as you step on and off.

Also, my personal trainer like totally flirts with me all the time.

It's also got a great competitive edge with a high score board.

Mombo even created a Mii and works out after I do. She beat my basic step aerobics score, and has been having a lot of fun unlocking new yoga poses and advanced menus.

The boxing is pretty rad, and I LOVE the yoga. I've noticed more flexibility, and my skin being tighter, plus I'm pretty much sore all over. I love it!

This is my daily set up. Water bottle, Luna Bar, Laptop (with plurk omg) and my sweat towel. Oh and also my wiimote and nunchuck!

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Low Cal Microwaved Peach Cobbler (a la mode!!)

Tonight my sweet tooth was calling my name, as it does most nights, and I looked around the kitchen for some ideas based on what we had lying around.

It struck me.

Peach Cobbler, in the style of Hungry Girl, but an Original by ME!

I googled the calorie counts of "Peach Cobbler a la mode calories" and found this, and this.

Roughly 660 calories for a slice of pie and a scoop of ice cream. Eesh.

Want peach cobbler without the guilt and all the taste? Follow me...

What you'll need is,

* 1 small fresh ripe peach, halved and pitted
* 1/4 cup granola
* 1 tsp brown sugar
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 1 tsp vanilla extract (remember what I said about that imitation crud)
* I Can't Believe it's Not Butter Spray
* Breyers Double Churn Free Creamy Vanilla fat-free ice cream (optional)

Place peach on a plate and spray with butter spray to cover. In a small bowl mix granola, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla, and a few extra sprays of the butter spray. Mix well. Sprinkle on top of peach halves and microwave for 2-3 minutes.

Take out the Breyers Double Churn Free Creamy Vanilla fat-free ice cream to slightly thaw.

Remove from microwave (careful it's hot). Scoop 2 1/4c scoops of Breyers Double Churn Free Creamy Vanilla fat-free ice cream on top. This part is optional and adds about an extra 90 calories.

Total calorie count for this is around (with ice cream); 240!

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Hungry Girl Hot Cocoa!!

So, this is interesting to find out...

A tall Starbucks Hazelnut Signature Hot Chocolate, packs a WHOPPING 450 calories, 47 grams of sugar and 23 grams of fat!

Check for yourself.

And as someone who thoroughly enjoys hot cocoa, and drinking chocolates, this totally bums me out. I used to make my hot chocolate with hot steamed milk, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and pure semi sweet chocolate (chips, or bar; shaved). Try it, it's to die for.

But seriously, for those of us on diets or at least trying to watch what we inhale, I have found a solution, and I have brought it to you.

Enter; Hungry Girl's "That's Hazel-NUTS! Cocoa Supreme"

Granted, it's not as delicious as drinking 450 calories, 47 grams of sugar and 23 grams of fat, but if you're craving chocolate, and you need a cocoa fix, it works in a pinch!

Start with
* 1 packet Swiss Miss Sensible Sweets Diet Hot Cocoa Mix
* 2 tsp. Coffee-mate Sugar Free Hazelnut creamer (powdered kind will work too)
* 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
* 2 tsp. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Add hot water and stir allowing everything to melt and become smooth. Boiling works best, but a microwave would do the trick as well. Hungry Girl recommends 1 cup of water, but if you like your cocoa a little more creamy, and thick, I'd say it's closer to 3/4 c.

Top with 4 tbsp. Fat Free Reddi-whip (I used the Cool Whip Lite from the banana splits) and sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa powder. This version should run you about, 114 calories, 8g of sugar, and 5g of fat, and compared to Starbucks, INSANELY guilt-free.


As an extra treat we split 2 100 calorie packs in Oreo Mini Cakesters, and Mini Fudge Stripes.

Both were SUPER YUMMY and made our special treat that much better.

Total dessert calorie watch; 214!

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Taco Soup

Yet another suggestion from Brian and his family! The original un-tweaked recipe can be found here at RecipeZaar, but mine is a bit different.

When I first looked at the soup recipe and saw the calorie content in that sucker I was incredibly hesitant to try it. I ran down the list of ingredients and figured I could make a lower calorie version of this without much effort and decided to give it a go. My tweaked version can be found below.


* 1 1/2 lb ground turkey
* 1 white onion, diced
* 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can tomato sauce
* 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can corn
* 2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans ranch style beans
* 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 1 ounce taco seasoning
* 1 ounce powdered ranch dressing mix
* 1 tsp paprika
* 6 ounces diet cola, I used Coke Zero, but Diet Dr Pepper will also work
* 1 tsp garlic powder
* 4 cloves of garlic, smashed and added whole
* 1 tsp oregano
* 1 tsp cumin
* 1 tsp seasoning salt

I started off by browning the turkey with the onions. You can also opt to add the garlic at this point. The whole cloves were an after thought for me, so I didn't add them until later, but if when I do this recipe again, I would add them now.

The best way to dice onions is to cut in half, and then make long slits without going through the onion entirely. It makes it much easier to keep the onion from slipping around and you get a nice uniform cut.

While that cooked up, I added everything else into the crock pot, starting with the canned items. Beans, corn, tomato sauce and tomatoes, and then the special secret ingredient...

Yes! 8 ounces of soda. The original recipe called for regular Dr Pepper or Coke, which adds an extra 100 calories to the dish. If you don't like diet, or soda, you can also use beer, the alcohol will cook off I swear. I didn't even taste the diet soda in the soup honestly, but it did add a nice sweetness.

Next I measured out the spices in my little kitchen scale.

Below are my tweaks and additions to the soup; fresh garlic, oregano, seasoning salt, and cumin.

Next I drained the grease from the mean and onions (there wasn't much on the turkey, but I can imagine how much there is in the beef version), and added it to the soup, stirring and mixing it all in the crock pot.

I let it simmer for most of the day on low for about 6 hours, and served it with mini pepper jack quesadillas on the side, which are very easy to make and just require some cheese, and 2 corn tortillas. They were great for dipping.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Yogurt. A run down.

Pinkberry Small Pomegranate Frozen Yogurt

Frozen Pomegranate Yogurt
Pomegranate seeds
Yogurt Chips


The remains of Coffee Bean's Yogurt cup.

Berry Yogurt
Strawberries (not fresh...)
Blueberries (in some sort of syrup)


Homemade snack

Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt

$1.50 (approx.)

Homemade breakfast

Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt

$1.75 (approx.)

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I got this recipe off of Hungry Girl. It's a great website for those of us who HATE to cut out the good stuff while also trying to eat better.

This is my first attempt at one of her tweaks and I followed it to the best of my ability with what was available to me at the store.

You can find her recipe here.

1 small banana
2 ripe strawberries, roughly chopped
1/4 cup Breyers Double Churn Free Creamy Vanilla fat-free ice cream
1/4 cup Breyers Double Churn Free French Chocolate fat-free ice cream
3 tbsp. Cool Whip Free, thawed
2 tsp. Hershey's Lite chocolate syrup
4 tbsp. Fat Free Reddi-whip
Optional: 1 no-calorie sweetener packet

A few hours before you're ready to dig in, mash the strawberries into a puree. In a small dish, mix the puree with the Cool Whip until completely blended. For a sweeter flavor (optional), mix in half or all of a no-calorie sweetener packet. Place mixture in the freezer until just frozen.

I personally planned on using the entire tub of cool whip so I could make these a few times, so I just took 8 strawberries, 4 packets of nutrisweet and blended it into a puree using my trusty, you guessed it, food processor!

Next I placed the thawed cool whip and gave it a few good pulses to mix it in.

When mixed, put into a bowl, cover it and put it into the freezer to freeze.

For the life of me I couldn't find Hershey Lite or Fat Free Reddi Whip so I got the regular old syrup and new cool whip lite whipped cream.

To assemble the splits I used one large banana, cut into half and then sliced down the middle. Then placed 1/4c scoop of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, drizzled 1 tbsp of chocolate sauce and 3 small squirts of the cool whip lite.

This banana split has around 250 calories, and .05 grams of fat compared to Baskin-Robbins' Classic Banana Split with a whopping 980 calories, 34 grams of fat.

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