Happy @&%$!*^ Holidays, Merry Christmas, etc.

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The Real Meaning of Christmas

What the…?

Gentle Readers,

Well, it’s that special time of year again. Yes, that’s right. The time of year when a lot of us go back on Prozac. Contrary to cultural brainwashing, most of us DO NOT ENJOY the Holiday Season. The reasons are numerous, and range from “I lost my __________ [fill in the blank with family member and/or loved one’s/pet’s title or name] at this time of year, and it’s never been the same. I always get a little sad,” to the “Holy-sh@t! How-am-I supposed-to-pay- for-all-this-Christmas (Hanukkah, whatever)-stuff!!??What-am -I? Made-of -money??” Blues.

Well, don’t look for any ‘cheer up’ garbage here. I love Christmas…but not the forced nature of the Season, nor the commercialism, (when did we stop thinking it was better to GIVE than to RECEIVE, pray tell?), but the actual, real Christmas. The part about the gaudy decorations, the cool reindeer (whoa flying reindeer! What child-loving maniac thought THAT one up? It’s FABulous!), and watching other people sink into their own personal pits of despair. THAT Christmas is what I live for all year. Oh, and since I’m in Texas, a little cooler weather helps. And God, if You are listening, by ‘a little cooler’ I do not mean 80 degrees. Nor do I mean 30. Can we just have it NORMAL for a change, please? Thank You. Gracias.Blessed Be. And Amen.

So here’s the thing: When your brain starts worrying you about ‘The Holidays,’ and all that ‘bad’ food you’re about to consume, remember one thing, and one thing only. Okay, remember two things. Two things only.

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. This, too, shall pass. Soon it will be January, with a whole new set of reasons to be depressed.
  3. Portion control is more important and useful than total abstinence.

Okay, so that’s three things, but even I can remember three things. Usually.

So as you go about your various Holiday Cheerful activities with a fake smile plastered on your face that makes you wonder if it’ll ever return to its natural shape (it will, trust me–soon you’ll look just like you did in November. Almost), and Christmas wreaths plastered on your door and the cow-catcher on your truck (Texas, remember?), chant the mantra above: Don’t panic. This, too, shall pass. Portion control is more important than total abstinence.

I recommend chanting inwardly, to oneself. If you’re me, you don’t give a flying rat’s patoot about what people think of you as you wander around aimlessly chanting to yourself out loud, because you are old, and you’ve realized no one is paying any attention to you anyway–because you are old. But if you’re a normal  regular-aged person, you might want to either chant completely silently or at least keep it to a quiet mumble. On second thought, mumbling is actually worse than speaking to oneself out loud. So chant silently when possible. And if you live alone or with pets, chant to the TV or your pets. Neither will judge you. Unless you have a TV where there’s a camera facing into the room, secretly watching your every move and recording everything you do. But hey, how many of us does that apply to? Ha ha.

Let me break it down for you, Sparky. As you walk through the storm hold your head up high…no wait, that’s a different song. As you go through the Season with everyone at work bringing in ‘health’ food, aka cookies, pies, cakes, grandma’s Heart Attack-inducing Macaroni and Cheese, etc., use your mantra, and remind yourself that these people are your friends the rest of the year. Mostly. And they don’t really want YOU to fail in your attempt to become a slimmer, lovelier version of yourself (although that’s an unexpected and often welcomed by-product for these menaces to all things eatyourselfslimblog.com), they just want company as THEY blimp themselves into yet another 10 pounds that will probably never leave them for the rest of their lives. Because they do this same thing  every year, don’t they? And you know who they are. You want to look like THEM? Okay then. Mantra. Portion control. Have a LITTLE bit of whatever and make sure you have protein with you AT ALL TIMES.

Think survival. OF THE FITTEST not the FATTEST! How many old, fat people do you see, truthfully. See? I’m not saying growing old is all that horn-blowin’ special…but it seems to beat the alternative.

So…Happy Damn Holidays, Merry Effing Christmas, etc., and look for some exciting new recipes coming to eatyourselfslimblog.com soon! Not in time for the holidays of course, what am I, made of money? Ha!

Love,

Carla

PS: Here’s a little ‘old school’ Merle with a cheerful little ditty–have a listen!

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M-m-m-my Mojito!

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Summertime can still be FUN for you sots! 🙂

I know, it’s counterintuitive. One would not think that it’s okay to drink when attempting to lose weight. Those of us who live in the Real World, however, know that an occasional indulgence is necessary to maintain one’s zest for life. Meaning hey, have HALF a Snicker’s ® bar once in a while. Don’t go on a Snickers ® diet for gosh sake–but if you eat half of one and toss the rest, you’ve just ‘cheated’ for only about a hundred calories.

Alcohol and losing weight also do not always combine well. Alcohol contains calories, it’s true. And no matter how ‘skinny’ a cocktail claims to be, trust me, it ain’t ‘skinny’ enough. I know, I’ve read the labels (you should too). Solution? Discover the caloric content of various alcohols, know which ones to completely avoid and which ones are slightly ‘better’ as far as weight loss is concerned. Here is a chart showing the caloric and carb value of each types of adult beverages. Calories are the problem–since most spirits contain no carbs it is the ADDITION of things such as sugar, fruit juice, etc. which cause the most difficulty for those trying to lose weight while still trying to have a drink before dinner. Or after. Or during. Whatever. Here ya go!

NOTE: Remember that CALORIES are NOT the same as CARBS

In order to make a ‘carb-friendly’ Mojito, a drink which is popular, especially in the summer months, I made a simple syrup from sucralose, which we all know is generic Splenda. And they said it couldn’t be done! Ha!

To make the calorie/carb-free simple syrup:

Using a ration of two to one, (two cups of sucralose to one cup of plain water), stir together and bring to a boil. Let cool, and if desired, spend a lot of time straining the resulting clear, sweet liquid through a coffee filter (yawn). Why? Because allegedly there is ‘sediment’ in it. I didn’t see any, and if I can’t see it, it ain’t there. So take that, purists!

For the My Mojito, grab hold of a whole lotta mint leaves, a few limes, and some light rum (and of course your simple syrup). Using about 12 mint leaves and two lime quarters, muddle them together in a tall, sturdy glass. Once your muddling has been properly achieved, add in about two tablespoons of the simple syrup (but yes indeed, do add to taste–some don’t like too much sweetness in their drinks), about an ounce and a half of light rum, add ice and top the whole business off with club soda. Oh, and if you wanna be all fancy schmancy, of course do garnish with a sprig of mint. Serve and enjoy!

Cwazy Wabbit

Aside

Rabbit Drink–not drink MADE from rabbit!!

 

I had a weird uncle. Not a ‘funny’ uncle, though Ed surely did have a sense of humor. Nope, he was just weird. A “health nut,’ who ran five miles a day long before it was called “jogging” and people were writing books about it. He was eating brewer’s yeast and scarfing down homemade yogurt while the rest of America was chowing down on Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip.

Anyway, My late uncle Ed was weird, not just because of his strange culinary proclivities and his addiction to vitamins and working out, but because he spent nearly his entire adult life building a boat. Yep, just ONE BOAT. It was called the SOHO, and it was the bane of our existence throughout my formative years. I liked my uncle; aside from the familial love, I mean…I thought he was a cool guy, growing up.

He used to take me to Kaiser Health Foods in Santa Barbara, California, where he would order me a ‘Rabbit Ear.’ Easy to make; a lot of folks think it sounds gross, but…they’re fun, and very, very good…The carrot juice HAS to be fresh–no substitute is acceptable, and in fact will ruin the drink.

What you need:

  • At least 12 oz. fresh carrot juice (NOT canned!! yikes!) and well chilled
  • Sugar free vanilla ice cream
  • Carrot sticks

Fill a tall glass with about 6 oz of the carrot juice, then place a scoop of the vanilla ice cream on top, making a ‘carrot juice float.’ Garnish with two carrot sticks and…voila!  “The Rabbit Ear!”

Enjoy!! 😛

Old-fashioned…With a Twist

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Mama's...and mine

Gotta make it your own… 🙂

So today I was feeling quite under the weather, having had a bad reaction to a perfectly good flu shot (yeah, right). I needed some comfort food, and, of course, nothing comforts ME like…that’s right PASTA

I wanted to make my mom’s spaghetti sauce, and I did, but with just a few minor little itty bitty changes…For some reason, ever since my gallbladder decided it no longer wished to reside in its former spot near the rest of my innards I’ve had some trouble with beef. Nothing else, just beef. And I LOVE beef–go figure. So for this recipe I substituted ground chicken thigh meat–and before you scoff, you scoffers, let me just say…YUMMIFICATION!

Wow. Who knew? Good stuff. I tossed in a can of roasted, diced tomatoes as well, along with the previously verboten fennel (just a pinch) mentioned in the I Remember Mama post where I give my mom’s original sauce recipe. AND I used cappellini, which I prefer over ‘regular’ full-size spaghetti.

Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday, and she will be 85. She says she still feels like she’s 16 on the inside, but does not, however, claim this is a good thing.

God bless moms everywhere, who managed not to kill us in our cribs (MY mom blames the ‘cuteness factor‘) and who did the best they could with the information they had…

September 29, 2012   Austin, Texas

Colorful Cauliflower Soup

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Just for today...

Words to remember…

Hat Tip on this recipe to J, my friend from the law firm of Forman, Adcock and Stir (NOT their real name of course) as well as to the Pioneer Woman.

Cauliflower has a lot of health benefits.  It is high in fiber, and as a cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli), it is thought to have many good health benefits for the intestinal system and the bod in general. Feed the Temple, peoples! Feed the Temple! 🙂

As a non-starchy veggie, it has a Glycemic Index load of 1. Which means you get a lot of bang for your buck with this stuff. An entire head of cauliflower contains about 145 calories and has 14 grams of fiber.

But the main thing about this soup, aside from the health benefits, is that it ROCKS! Cooler weather is on its way, and this is just the kind of thing we begin to crave as we eat ourselves slim into the Fall season.

This soup calls for a white sauce, and I have given you a recipe which is modified to be low-fat, not non-fat, and low-cal. You can tweak this sauce to use corn starch if you are a non-gluten person. I use a little butter in this recipe; as always, feel free to leave it out if you wish–just please, if you’re tempted to Paula Deen it (no disrespect here, she’s totally awesome!), try to control yourself.

What you will need for the soup:

  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 heads of cauliflower, cored and cut into florets or relatively uniform pieces
  • 1-2 carrots, diced fine
  • 1 yellow onion, diced fine
  • 1-2 medium stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf (aka Italian) parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp grape seed or canola oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 32 oz. reduced sodium or no sodium chicken stock
  • 1-2 large bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter and the oil over medium heat until the butter begins to just turn brown. Toss in the onions and stir for about 3-4 minutes, or until they just gain a bit of color. Add in the carrots and celery and toss with the onions to mix. Add in the cauliflower and the parsley, stir together, then reduce heat and cover. Allow vegetables to simmer together, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes. Then add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and keep pot covered.

Meanwhile, prepare your white sauce.

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup of white flour
  • 3/4 cup of non-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup of non-fat sour cream (optional)
  • 2 cups of non-fat half and half
  • 1/4 tsp  ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (you can also use mozzarella if you prefer, just use an easy hand, yes? 😛 )
  • 1 tsp butter

In a medium saucepan, add the flour and whisk to remove any lumps or bumps. Slowly add in the 3/4 cup of non-fat milk, and whisk together well until smooth. Turn on heat to medium and slowly whisk in the 1/2 cup of sour cream, then add the 2 cups of half and half, still whisking. Add in the nutmeg and whisk thoroughly. Increase heat slightly, and, stirring or whisking continuously, allow mixture to thicken. Once you see it begin to boil even slightly, remove from heat quickly. Whisk in the cheese and the small amount of butter. You may, if you wish, leave the butter out, as this soup will have a nice, rich flavor whether you add in that extra fat or not.

Slowly add the white sauce to your soup, stirring to blend. Add in the bay leaves, cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and your soup is full of soupy goodness. Add your salt and pepper sparingly–there is some salt from the white sauce already in the soup due to the cheese, remember.

Suggestion: Garnish with non-fat sour cream placed in the bottom of the bowl or on the side, and a bit of parmesan or mozzarella cheese for an even richer flavor.

yummification!

Mmmmm….good stuff for a cool fall evening!

Bon apetit!

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: The Simple, Complex Truth

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This carb stuff is CONFUSING!! Help!

“Good carbs,” and “bad carbs.” What’s the difference, and why should you care?

You should care because eating properly is about BALANCE. As Mr. Miyagi points out in the REAL Karate Kid, balance is not just for karate; balance is lesson for whole LIFE!  You cannot have a balanced diet without carbohydrates. You CAN, however, have a balanced diet without simple carbohydrates. There are two kinds of carbs: Simple (example: Snickers bar), and complex (example: baked potato). One is like a straight snort of crystal meth to your brainstem, and the other is, well, not. Complex carbs ease into your bloodstream and give you longer-lasting energy and satiety (satisfaction, including a “full” feeling), along with fats and proteins.

When you feel that urge to snack on simple carbs like candy and cookies, try something different. Combine protein (low-fat cheese, like a mozzarella string-cheese stick) with some crackers such as Pecan Nut Thins (by Blue Diamond, found in the Nut Thins aisle at your grocery store). SOME, I said, not ALL. Take it slowly, and give your body time to realize you’ve fed it. Most of us who overeat do so because we either don’t get the same signs from our diet-damaged brains that our slim brothers and sisters do, or we’ve lost touch with the signals our bodies give us. Or, maybe we eat because we’re bored. Whatever, we need to CHANGE the way we think about food, and the best way to do that is…

Eat your way into a new way of thinking. Don’t try to THINK your way into a new way of eating. Your tastes will change, your cravings will diminish, but you have to be patient, consistent and disciplined. Okay, you don’t HAVE to…but if you want to see a new you in the mirror, I suggest that you try another way. ‘Cause if you’re like me, the way I was doing it…wasn’t ‘doing it’ for me, if you get my drift.

And one more time, check out the Glycemic Index and let IT be your guide when it comes to carbs. You won’t be sorry, I promise you! 🙂

Lovely Lentil Soup

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nope! not river rocks!

Beautiful before, yummified after!

What is a lentil, you ask? Lentils are legumes. As such they are high in protein and fiber and are considered to be an ideal weight-loss food due in part to their treasured low spot on the Glycemic Index. They look a bit like split peas, but do not be fooled. These are special little sprites, and will spice up your soups and stews with satisfying, stupefying, savory, yet simple splendor. (ha! Take THAT, alliteration fans!) 😛

They are, like many legumes, not particularly flavorful on their own, thus they will take on a lot of spicing up or combining with other foods with good grace. The following recipe is quick and easy, (and cheap!) and will make a satisfying addition to your eatyourselfslimblog.com collection, I guarantee!

What you will need:

  • Lentils, about 16 oz. You will find the green variety in the market near the beans and rice, and they come packaged in 12 oz. bags. The lentils pictured above were obtained as pre-mixed from Whole Foods, and were found…you guessed it! In the Lentil Aisle. Which is near the Chickpea Aisle, for those of you who are fond of the Hell Yeah, Hummus! recipe.
  • 1 onion, yellow, white or red, diced
  • 2-3 large carrots, coined or diced (or however you prefer, so long as the pieces are relatively uniform in size
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 32 oz. chicken stock, low or no sodium
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1-2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 tsp salt (I prefer kosher)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Suracha sauce (for heat)
  • 1/2 Tbs grape seed or canola oil
  • Plain, non-fat yogurt (optional)

What you do:

Lentils are very easy to prepare, and do not require soaking. Toss ’em into a colander or strainer and rinse those puppies well, then be sure to check visually and with your digits for small stones. No one wants to lose a tooth to the cause of slenderization. It’s not worth it, man. Trust me.

So rinse your lentils, make sure they are stone-free, and in a large pot or Dutch oven:

Heat the oil over medium high heat, then add the prepared vegetables, garlic, curry powder, garlic powder (if you so desire), salt, pepper (I grind in about three to four turns), and turmeric. [click HERE for some interesting and fun facts about this spice! :)] Sautee together until the onions soften. Add in the wine, stir, and when the alcohol scent has disappeared add in the lentils, chicken stock, water and bay leaves. Use one or two bay leaves, depending on how much you enjoy the flavor of bay. I use two. Stir together and allow to come to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally and re-season as needed.

NOTE: Check your seasonings by tasting the broth while the lentils are cooking, and add in Suracha sauce to taste, adjust your salt, curry powder etc. Doing this periodically while cooking will ensure that you get the seasoning level YOU want, and that you do not over-season your fabulous creations.

Suggestion: To serve, add a dab of non-fat yogurt and stir well. This gives a bit  of acid ‘bite’ to the soup and increases the richness of the color as well, without adding a lot of calories. It also helps as a ‘cooling’ agent just in case you happen to have gotten a bit too free with the Suracha (hey, it happens to us all, no worries!). Lots of ‘good’ carbs in this dish means you’ll be satisfied and happy–give these lovely lentils a chance to work their magic–you’ll be glad you did!

Bon apetit!