Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Meatspiration

Crown of Beef:



Thursday, July 29, 2010

Who Needs Pasta When You Have Rutabagas?

MIU France Julienne Slicer:


plus rutabaga:


equals rutabaga "pasta":




How cool is that? I heard about this little gadget from Maria Emmerich's blog, and I drooled over her zucchini "Garden Spaghetti" so much that I couldn't wait to try veggie pasta for myself.

This rutabaga version had a firmness and slight crunch that shirataki noodles lack, which is great for me, since I prefer my pasta al dente and not gelatinous. I boiled the "noodles" for just a couple of minutes, tossed them with a some butter and garlic, and added a little Ragu to make it quick and easy. While Katie is here this weekend, we'll feast on Rutabaga "Pasta" with Meat Sauce. It's only too bad I can't make a Rutabaga Johnny Marzetti.

What methods do you use to help you get your pasta fix?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getting the Healthy Taste Off

I don't have much of a problem eating low- or no-carb meals. As much as I hate salads, for instance, I can choke one down at the end of the day if it means getting some vitamins and losing some weight. The problem is that I do it assuming that I'll then reward myself for my "good" behavior with something I don't hate. Like ice cream! Or a cupcake! Or even an all-fruit smoothie! But that's not possible on a carb-restricted diet like Atkins or the Belly Fat Cure.

But I need a palate cleanser. It's not just that I haven't lost my taste for sugar, as is magically supposed to happen in the first two weeks of a low-carb diet. It's that I just can't stand to have a savory taste lingering on my tongue.

At home, I mix unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze almond milk with a scoop of Smucker's natural peanut butter and a packet of Truvia, but those aren't things I have access to at work. Things I've tried there include:

• water
• diet soda
• sugar-free candy
• dark chocolate
• sugar-free gum
• coffee with heavy cream

All of these are fine, but they don't leave me feeling as if I've satisfied my need to stop tasting my lunch. I'll end up digging through the freezer later for some Ben & Jerry's left over from the last company birthday, telling myself that just one scoop is fine. But it's not, and I always feel bad about it afterward.

What do you follow up your meals with? Or am I the only one with this problem?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Vintage Ad: "Sugar Makes You Skinny!"

On my feminist blog, I often post vintage ads to poke fun at the rampant sexism in advertising throughout history. Today, I came across an ad worthy of deconstructing here:


The unnecessarily long copy reads:
If sugar is so fattening, how come so many kids are thin?

Next time you pass a bunch of kids, take a look. Kids eat and drink more sugar than anybody. But how many fat kids do you see? The fact is, if you constantly take in more food than your body needs, you'll probably get fat. If you eat a balanced diet in moderation, you probably won't. And sugar in moderation has a place in a well-balanced diet. For kids, eating or drinking something with sugar in it can mean a new supply of body fuel. Fuel that can be used in not too many minutes. There's a useful psychological effect, too. The good natural sweetness of sugar is like a little reward that promotes a sense of satisfaction and well-being. The thing is, good nutrition comes from a balanced diet. And a balanced diet means the right amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals, fats, and carbohydrates. Now, what's one important carbohydrate? Sugar.

Sugar. It isn't just good flavor; it's good food.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fun with Granola and the Benefits of Oats

While Yoni Freedhoff was exposing the 12 different sugar sources hiding in Kellogg's new faux-healthy FiberPlus Antioxidants cereals, guess what I was doing?

I was filling my cereal bowl with my first ever batch of homemade granola!

Unless you know that granola = raw oats drizzled with something sweet and sticky and then baked until crispy and dry, the stuff seems like some sort elusive substance that can only be made by commercial means. Or it seems like something that occurs naturally in nature, like my husband thought. "You can't just make granola! You have to grow it!" Needless to say, making my own granola made me feel like a wizard.

Not all low carbers may feel comfortable eating granola, especially in early phases of diets like Atkins or South Beach. Looking at the carb count on a package of oats might cause a little bit of sticker shock for someone who's limiting net carbs to 20 or 30 a day. However, I'm beginning to regard oats as one of those exception foods (like yogurt) that should be sought out as part of a healthy diet rather than avoided. Jonny Bowden deems oatmeal a nutritional superfood in his book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, and he has this to say about it:
Oatmeal has a place on virtually everyone's "best foods" list. It's the Muhammad Ali of foods -- everybody loves it, no matter where you stand in your dietary philosphy. Even those who are stringent about keeping carbs low soften a bit when it comes to oatmeal. The "guru" of diabetic diets, Dr. Richard Bernstein, who, one might say jokingly, "never met a carb he didn't dislike," allows oatmeal once a day for his diabetic patients.
He also goes on to discuss all of the amazing benefits of eating oats (whether in oatmeal form or not), including their extremely low glycemic load and their high level of beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar. A low-carber's dream, right?

For the granola, I did the slightest low-carb hack on this amazing recipe from Shauna James Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, omitting the dried fruit and substituting the regular maple syrup with sugar free. I also used plain old Quaker Oats instead of the special gluten free kind. I halved the recipe since I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but my second batch just came out of the oven, and this time I made it in full, because damn. In a bowl with some almond milk poured over it, this stuff tastes like a mapley, gingery version of Honey Bunches of Oats. And I just found my new favorite breakfast.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Louis C.K. on the Differences in the Way Fat and Skinny People Think About Food

In case you're like me and don't ever actually watch the videos people post, here's the part I like:

I hate skinny people, because they don't empathize with fat guy problems. You ever have a skinny friend, and you try to tell him, "I just wish I could have one doughnut and fuckin' walk away. I wish I could do that. I wish I had the power to eat a doughnut"? And your skinny friend's like, "Well, just eat the doughnut, then. What's the big deal? Just have a doughnut if you want one. Totally go ahead and have one. Just enjoy yourself and have a doughnut if you like them." Fuck you! You don't get it. It's a whole spiral that begins with a doughnut and later I'm killing hookers and don't even remember what happened.

It's not just that I hate skinny people for not understanding why I want to eat a lot; I hate them for not wanting to eat a lot themselves. I really do have a co-worker who buys a two-pack of wrapped doughnuts every day at lunch, eats one, and offers the other one around. Sometimes he doesn't even finish the first one. I really hate him. And then my other co-worker always takes the second one but also goes to the gym every morning for two hours, so I don't have to hate him as much.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why I'm Doing This

I don't mind being fat most of the time. I'm pretty, I'm healthy, and I don't feel bad being in my body. I have plenty of really worthwhile friends who actually think I'm smart and funny and don't seem to mind that I'm overweight. If the world was just, I could eat what I want to and look how I do, and like my friends, no one would think anything of it. But the fact is that according to a big chunk of society, I'm not attractive simply because I'm fat.

And I wouldn't care what society thinks, except that I have a few very personal blogs that right now seem pretty impersonal to me, because I rarely post photos of myself in them. My friends and I gallivant all over New York City, dining at the best restaurants and vacationing in the Hamptons and drinking on rooftops, and I take literally hundreds of pictures a month on a really fine camera that I spent a whole hunk of a paycheck on, but almost none of them end up anywhere public. I don't want to be judged.

I'm hesitant to add my blog readers to Facebook, because my blog is full of photos I've carefully selected to show me at my best, while my Facebook albums are full of the life I actually live and the way I look living it. I don't want anyone who's read my writing and liked it to have a different opinion of me when they see I'm not "normal". I hate having to hide all of pictures my photographer friend took of me in 50s pinup poses on the beach that made everyone laugh. I hate not being able to be myself.

I want to look good in photos. That's my number one motivation for losing weight. I want to never have to worry about hiding a double chin or belly fat or sausage arms. You sometimes see these things on thin people in pictures, and you don't even think about them, because you know it's just the angle of the camera or some awkward lighting. I want that to be me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kitchen Musings and Recipe Links

Remember how when you were a little kid, you never wanted to take a bath, but once you got into the tub, you stayed until you were all wrinkly?

I'm beginning to realize that I'm exactly that way with the kitchen. I feel like getting started is like pulling teeth, but once I'm there, I'm usually content to whip up some low carb muffins, hard-cook some eggs, and clean and chop fruits and veggies so that I'll have a stocked fridge for the next few days when I need a meal or snack. There's nothing I hate more than feeling hungry and then realizing that I have to go through a million steps in the kitchen in order to make sure I have something fresh and nutritious instead of another microwaved hot dog covered in cheese. When I'm not in the mood to cook, getting into my car and driving to the nearest drive-thru is much more enticing than turning on my stove or chopping up a single cucumber.

Sometimes it's hard to convince myself to stop living like a college student and take charge of my health.

I'm working on making those long sessions in the kitchen more frequent, though, since they really do make my life so much easier all the rest of the time when it comes to eating.

Lately, I've spent a chunk of my kitchen-time on recipes I found on nutritionist Maria Emmerich's blog. I'm loving her recipes, because they so often consist of ingredients I happen to already have in my fridge and pantry, which means I can go straight to the kitchen, set the laptop on the counter, and follow her instructions. The last two things I made from her recipes turned out especially well:
Sunflower Seed Crackers:


1 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup water
*Extra sunflower seeds (optional for topping)

Preheat the oven to 325°F-160°C. Put the sunflower seeds and Parmesan in a food processor and process until the sunflower seeds are a fine meal. Add the water, and pulse until the dough is well blended, soft and sticky. Cover a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough out onto the parchment, tear off another sheet of parchment, and put it on top of the dough. Use a rolling pin or your hands to press the dough into as thin and even a sheet as you can get. Take the time to get the dough quiet thin--the thinner the better, so long as there are no holes in the dough. Peel off the top layer of parchment, then use a pizza cutter to score the dough into cracker shapes. Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until evenly browned. Peel off the parchment, break alone the scored lines, and let the crackers cool. Store them in a container with a tight lid. *Option: Before baking press additional sunflower seeds into the batter for an extra crunch.

Fudge-cicles (Extent of phallic shape depends on mold.):


2 ounces cream cheese
1 cup chocolate (or vanilla) unsweetened almond milk
2 packets of Truvia
3 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix all together and place in popsicle makers. Serves 4

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Vacation Food Dilemma

Ohdeedoh is featuring the sweetest little guide on how to make a "budget" vacation special, and I normally wouldn't think to share something like this, but this little gem of advice caught my eye:
Splurge on food. You might think a good way to save is to eat hotdogs and Fritos for the whole trip. Don't do that. You should come home from a vacation feeling physically better than when you left. If your kids are picky eaters, this is a great time to introduce new foods as part of the adventure. If your kids are pretty good eaters, then now is the time to push the envelope. At the cabin where we stayed last summer, a gourmet 4 course dinner was included with the lodging. Holy Walleye en Papillote, I told you it was heavenly. A year later and my kids still talk about the palate cleansing sorbet like it was magical elf food from Lord of the Rings. Plus, if you're doing dishes each night, what kind of vacation is that?

This is the line that hit me, and it's amazing to me that it's something I've never really considered before. "You should come home from a vacation feeling physically better than when you left." My mind is blown.

I'm still at the point in my venture into healthy eating that "vacation" for me also means a vacation from having to work hard to figure out fresh, low carb, balanced meals everywhere I go and a chance to go crazy and eat whatever the hell I want. And even though I sort of philosophically agree with the notion that "vacation calories don't count", I don't think I have ever come back from a vacation feeling physically better than when I left. I usually come home feeling in need of recovery.

So my question is this. What's the best way to negotiate that in-the-moment desire to eat something delicious-but-really-bad-for-you while on vacation with the knowledge that it will make you feel crappy, thus keeping you from truly enjoying the non-food aspects of your trip? While this question might sound like a no-brainer to people who don't care much about food, for me, the food wins out nine times out of ten. It's easier at home, but when I'm out enjoying myself, I still haven't shaken that feeling that sugary, starchy food in mass quantities is a crucial component of my good time. When I scrapbook my vacations, pictures of the food and of my friends and me eating usually take center stage. And scrapbooking healthy food does NOT excite me. I mean, if you replaced my fried cheese with a celery stick, would it look as cool?


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A First Thyme for Everything

Pardon the pun, but I'm excited to share that today, for the first time in my life, I used a fresh herb in some food. And it just happened to be thyme!

Making it almost 30 years without ever using fresh herbs may sound completely insane to your average home-cook, but for some reason, these things have just somehow never been on my radar screen. Not only am I pretty new to preparing fresh food in general, but I don't remember ever seeing a fresh herb in my house growing up. Sure, I've seen them in the grocery store, but I've always just passed them by, knowing that if I bought them, they'd be doomed to rot away at the back of the fridge.

I'm glad to say that all that has changed due to the easy indoor herb garden I started just a few short weeks ago. I've never had a green thumb or known what to do with plants, but I am capable of pouring water on dehydrated, fertilized soil bricks and sprinkling seeds on top, so my fragrant little windowsill forest came out a success:


The fresh thyme I harvested today is currently hanging out in the Crock Pot along with some veggies waiting to become broccoli cheddar soup (adapted from a cauliflower soup recipe in Leanne Ely's Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way). Broccoli Cheddar Soup is one of my favorite menu items at Panera, but did you know that a 12oz. serving of the stuff has 24 carbs and contains wheat, processed cheese, and modified cornstarch?! Hopefully this homemade version will fill the void.

The Great Blog Revamp: Complete with New Author!

If you visit this site directly rather than view the posts in a reader, you may notice that there have been some changes around here, the most important of which is summed up by the new subtitle for this blog, which now reads:

two twentysomething best friends combat carbs in a delightfully sugary, starchy world

That's right, folks. With the addition of my extremely talented and bitingly witty best friend Katie (posting here as plumpdumpling), Unbreaded has officially become a two-author blog!

Not only will Katie's presence here be the ultimate antidote to my general blog-laziness, but I'm super excited for us to be able to offer our perspectives on struggling to eat healthfully in very different environments. You see, while I live in an Ohio suburban sprawl filled with a million fast food chains and Wal-Marts, retreating to the kitchen to try to keep my carb-consumption in check, Katie lives in the Big Apple, practically kitchenless and relying on restaurant food for nearly every meal. Together, we're the perfect example of how low carb isn't one-size-fits-all, and we hope this blog can become a great forum for discussion on how people can individualize low-carb/low-glycemic eating and make it work for them.

I'll let her introduce herself properly when she posts, but I am so pants-peeingly excited to share the news of her arrival here that I had to let the cat out of the bag. Welcome, Katie!