Opinions on food, drink and articles/TV shows involving them

Posts tagged ‘health’

Sunday Breakfast

One Sunday morning, my husband and I made breakfast together, consisting of potatoes and an omelette. My husband made the potatoes. He got them from a farmer’s market near his work and they were various colors. He chopped them into about 1-inch cubes, added salt and other spices and baked them at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes until done. They were delicious.

I made a spinach omelette and it was also delicious. For those that don’t know me, I am not the biggest fan of eggs. In fact, I was slightly traumatized by eggs as a young child. When I was 4 years old, i was forced to eat hard boiled eggs that they were serving as a snack in pre-school. I had to stay and eat my eggs while everyone else was playing. I came home from school and said “I’m never going to school again!” which is very unlike me because I love learning.

After that, I never really liked eggs. In fact, growing up, the smell made me nauseous most times I smelled them being cooked. As an adult, I’m committed to trying almost anything, if only a small bite. So, I’ve been trying eggs, but they still don’t really appeal to me. However, I’ve been on a healthy eating kick and eggs provide an excellent source of protein, so I’m determined to find a way to like them! Granted, the omelette is probably more spinach than omelette, but at least I can tolerate being in the same room with it and eating it!

To make the omelette, I took out a package of frozen spinach the night before and let it thaw in the fridge. I squeezed out all the water and added it to several eggs. I put in some cherry tomatoes, ginger, Spicy Mrs. Dash, and other spices. A good trick to test whether you’ve added enough salt and spices is to take a small amount of the mixture and cook it. Then you can taste that and re-season without having to have a whole omelette under-salted!

Here is the finished product:


Easy and delicious!


No Sugar September

Ever since I was little I’ve always been a sugar fiend. I would always try the latest confections and candy treats. If there was a new candy advertised on television, you could be sure that I was one of the first to try it.

This mentality continued into my teenage in adult life. Anyone who knows me knows that cupcakes are one of my all-time favorite foods. Desserts were often a typical part of my daily routine. However, I started to realize that after 30 minutes of consuming sugar, I would feel extremely tired. Several repetitions of this pattern made me realize that it was definitely sugar that was causing these ill-desired effects.

I’ve been wanting to try to revise my thinking about sugar, so I decided to do a no-sugar September. I am still eating fruits, but avoiding sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, artificial sugars etc. To prepare for this expedition, I made the most of a few days before enjoying desserts and other sugar-laced foods: creme brulee, candy, and chocolate chip cookies, trying not to go overboard.

I’m on my 6th day and so far have made some observations:

1) Fruit makes a good dessert. In the evenings, instead of grabbing for cookies, I’d enjoy an orange, berries, a banana, or other fruit. Eating fruit instead of desserts has made me be more mindful of the wonderful sugars I am eating in the fruit.

2) It’s amazing what foods have sugar in them. Some foods are hard to find without sugar. I was recently searching the bread aisle for sugar-free and corn syrup-free bread. I looked through the whole aisle and was about to give up, when I found one without sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. Foods like beef jerky, nacho cheese chips, cheddar cheese bratwurst, and many others unexpectedly have sugar in them.

3) Social events are a bit harder, but being prepared is important to successfully navigating a party or pot luck. My husband and I are on a getaway with several friends. As mentioned above, there are many sugar-laced foods that you wouldn’t necessarily expect, so it’s been important for me to be prepared. I made sure to bring plenty of fruits on the outing so that I would have a sweet treat if cravings set in.

All in all, it’s not extremely difficult, but is definitely taking some self-control and reading the labels for me to stay sugar-free this month. Anyone else have any sugar-related experiences? I’d love to hear them.

MyPlate and Other News

I can’t help it, I’m interested in nutrition. So, you’ll get the occasional “sorry I haven’t cooked anything, but have something else to say” post. The government came out with a new symbol for dietary guidelines: MyPlate. More information can be found here: http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/usda-food-pyramid-is-out-food-plate-is-in. I like the new design.

I just started reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” and I’m wondering how much his book may have influenced the look of the plate. I’m only on the 4th chapter of the book, but I’m not giving anything away when the first couple sentences of the book are: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The USDA’s new plate symbol embodies just that as it depicts fruits and vegetables taking up half the plate.

I won’t give away any more of the book and I haven’t formed an opinion regarding Pollan’s other claims, but they are certainly things to think about. The way that food and what you should and should not eat has changed over the years is a very interesting topic to me. I will say that before I started reading the book, I thought it was written by someone in the dietetics or nutrition field, but finding out that he was in neither was somewhat surprising to me. I supposed because there is lettuce on the cover, I was immediately thinking nutrition. If you’ve read Pollan’s book, what is your take?

Jumping into another topic that Pollan addresses in book is the debate about fat and low-fat diets. I found this article and was intrigued by it: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/food/is-skim-milk-making-you-fat-2479492. I try to stay on top of nutrition trends and, was glad when many of my family members made the switch from (gasp) 2 % milk to skim milk. And, now this article tells me that we might be wrong?!

I can see how our conceptions of what is right and wrong in the food world can be so ingrained in our culture after being told something for so long. The articles sites that skim milk might actually make you fatter than whole milk. It sounds odd because it’s counter-intuitive, but that’s just the way some things are until somone else comes along and proves or disproves it.

The fact is that for every nutrition trend of what is healthy for the moment, there will be several other foods that could lead to a slow death if enjoyed too frequently. There must be some sort of healthy balance between enjoying food without overindulging (or at least, not overindulging too often). The key is certainly to eat a variety of foods. That way, we can know that maybe we haven’t eaten too much of the latest food that’s thought of as a contributor to cancer, heart disease, or other diseases.

Thai Tastiness

My friends and I occasionally have themed pot luck meals. One person made Thai summer rolls that were so good I had to make them myself. I loosely used the recipe below; however, I did not use lettuce or cilantro, but instead used mint, basil, avocado, and green onions in them. I also added Sriracha to the sauce. Here’s the recipe: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/fresh-spring-rolls-with-thai-dipping-sauce/Detail.aspx. I like these because they have a lot of vegetables, so they are healthy!

Soak each rice wrapper until it looks like a little bit like a jellyfish (as in the above photo). Layer the chopped ingredients in it horizontally.

Wrap it up like a burrito: fold one side two thirds of the way up, then fold the sides in, and finally, fold it over the rest of the way. It took a couple of tries for me to roll these and actually make them look pretty, so don’t give up if they look like a sloppy mess on your first attempt. Here’s the finished product:

Some modifications that can be made are to squirt some Sriracha inside these for some extra spiciness, use a peanut dipping sauce instead of the one listed here, as well as adding any combination of meat or vegetables to suit your taste. I wrapped some to have for lunch for a couple days, but I wouldn’t recommend making them more than a day before you eat them. I learned that the rice wrapper tends to pull apart and then things just get messy! I’ll give these 3 stars: tasty and simple.

A very simple breakfast

Here’s quick, easy, and good for you breakfast:
1 cup oatmeal
1 cup milk (I used soy milk and it turned out really good, but regular milk is great with this recipe too!)
1 cup water
1 egg
sweetener of your choice (optional)
fresh fruit
nuts (optional)

Combine oatmeal, milk, water, and egg in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until cooked and mixture thickens. Add sweetener of your choice. I decided to use applesauce, which I haven’t done with this recipe before, but it turned out great! The applesauce added sweetness without adding too much flavor. Put the mixture in a bowl, add fresh fruit (I used blueberries), nuts (pecans were my choice), and serve! So simple and it usually allows me to have breakfast for a few days! You can change it up by using other sweeteners, such as maple syrup and brown sugar; cinnamon, sugar, and chopped apples; or any other combination you can think of! I’ve also used raspberries, blackberries, and bananas for the fruit component.

Pumpkin bonanza

The truth is that soup is really hard to photograph. Taking pictures of liquids in general is just boring. Soup also comes in a bowl, so you can’t exactly take pictures from that many angles. You definitely need to add garnish to make it look better, which I tried by adding the cilantro in the above photograph. I’m not really sure that this photo does it justice to make it look as good as it tasted, but I’ll move on to discussing food.

This Thai Coconut Soup is from Better Homes and Gardens http://www.bhg.com/recipe/soups/thai-pumpkin-soup/. I used 2 jalapenos instead of one and thought the spiciness was perfect. The soup was a nice blend of sweetness, spiciness, and creaminess. The vegetables give it a little bit of texture, but this soup could also be pureed into velvety goodness. I’ll give it 3.5 stars.

Next, watch this soup magically transform into something completely different: Thai Tilapia.

The day after I made the soup, I decided to make tilapia. I found this recipe and made a few modifications to it: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/thai-style-tilapia/Detail.aspx. I pureed the Thai Pumpkin soup from the above recipe and added some turmeric to it. Then, I cooked the tilapia in the pureed soup mixture according to the recipe. It can be served alone or with some basmati rice and Sriracha sauce. (Note: the vegetables pictures are simply from a frozen steam bag). I’ll give the pumpkin tilapia 3 stars.

Pizza Hut’s pizza bites pizza

I saw this article the other day about foods that speed weight loss and was very happy to see that cheese was on the list: http://health.yahoo.net/experts/healthieryou/7-foods-speed-weight-loss. I know that the amount of cheese recommended here is quite small (1 oz.), but at least it’s something. I think of the other foods on the list, such as coffee, green tea, peppers, and almonds as typical weight loss foods that one often hears about in the media. In this article, cheese seemed to be the fully loaded outlier.

I often choose cheese as a snack and now I have more of an excuse to eat it, not that I needed one. I don’t believe that people should deprive themselves of the foods they crave, but moderation is key to anything in life, including food. That being said, I definitely have some weaknesses when it comes to food and cheese is near the top of that list. At any rate, this article was a good excuse to get pizza!

Pizza Hut has a new pizza that I wanted to try: the Cheesy Bites Pizza. I had to try it after a long week. The crust is nice and garlicky, but a bit dry. The sauce that comes with it is definitely necessary to combat the dryness.

When I saw this pizza, I thought, why not just get a stuffed crust pizza? At the same time, food in small portions is incredibly cute and trendy, so why not market it. One thing that sets this pizza apart from a regular stuffed crust pizza is that the cheese is coming out of the cheesy bites and is a little bit charred on the edges. I think that characteristic is what makes this pizza better than a stuffed crust pizza.

I also tried the pizza as leftovers the following day and found that the crust softened, so that it was not as dry as the first day, which improved the taste. Overall, I’ll give it 2.5 starts….pretty good for a commercial pizza!