Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dinner For One

dinner for one

I like living alone. I think everyone should try it at least once. I can watch all the Degrassi: The Next Generation that I want, eat ginger snaps for dinner, stay up until 2 am playing The Sims, have full-fledged conversations with my cats, do jumping jacks in my living room, so on and so forth. Granted, I don't do all of these things all of the time (especially the ginger snaps thing, I promise!). But the fact of the matter is, I can.

This can work against me, though. I've found that my biggest hurdle in keeping the weight off is eating when I'm at home alone. I am, more often than not, my own worst enemy. I usually stock my cabinets with good, healthy food. But one thing I've learned is that even healthy foods are only good for me in moderation. One thing that always prevents me from overeating is portioning my food out on a plate or in a bowl. I don't like eating foods from large bags or boxes. Snacks and meals feel much more official when on a plate. I rarely go back for seconds once I've plated my food.

Dinner for one is always so difficult for me. Most nights I end up making an omelet and veggie for myself. I was stockpiling one big meal for the week for a while, but found that it bored me too much and I'd wind up eating out more than I should. So, with my trusty new cookbook on hand, I've been taking on grocery items like a mad scientist.

what's for dinner? // curried turnips & summer squash

Tonight's meal, for example, was a bit of an experiment. I found this recipe and built on it, adding a little coconut oil, summer squash, and rice sticks at the end.

The result was relatively delicious. And if it wasn't, no one would have been around to make fun of me for actually eating it!

Monday, June 8, 2009

How To Cook Everything

Today was uncomfortably warm. I live on the second and third floor of my apartment building, and it gets pretty stuffy in here. So, I figured the logical thing to do would be to crank my oven up to 450 degrees and roast some veggies.

To be honest, I wasn't thinking when I found a recipe for stuffed tomatoes in Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. I just saw a delicious and easy way to use up a tomato and teeny zucchini that's been hanging out in my fridge for far too long.

This book was a gift from my thoughtful boyfriend. He has the regular edition and I often leaf through it while he makes me breakfast on the weekends. There's a lot in there, and I'm pretty sure the title is no exaggeration. What I like about these books is that the recipes are more just basic guidelines for preparation. It practically begs you to be creative with your meal, and also helps you figure out how to use all sorts of pantry items.

With the whole weight loss and maintenance process, I can't stress how important it is to communicate with friends, family and significant others what your plan is. Today I was reading a post over at 344 Pounds and it reminded me of how lucky I am to have such a strong support system. It makes having a healthy lifestyle that much easier because you feel like everyone is in it with you.

The cookbook is just an example of the support I get from my boyfriend, who also leads a healthy and active lifestyle. He also helped me muster up the courage to get on a bicycle and ride around the city this summer. Throughout all of this I have found so many sources of inspiration. I can't even begin to list them all. My sister-in-law Jess was right there with me on PeerTrainer when I decided to change my life in 2007. My dad got on board and successfully got his Type II Diabetes under control through diet and exercise. My mom lost the twenty pounds she put on after we kids left home (sorry!) and looks younger than any 50-year-old mama I know. My sister-in-law Sue lost 60? 70? 80? lbs and inspires me every day with her status updates about spinning classes and workouts on Facebook. When I started all of this, a few of my co-workers would eat salads with me in the lunchroom instead of going out for fast food. I also correspond with countless flickr contacts who were or are in the same boat as me and find so much motivation in their successes.

I could probably go on and on. But I think what it boils down to is that constant communication of our successes (and failures!) creates accountability.

At any rate, today I used my new cookbook to make a delicious dinner. I stuffed the tomato with couscous, fresh basil, and a little parmesan cheese. Then I stuffed the zucchini with couscous, mushrooms, olives, and goat cheese with a little sriracha sauce in place of the harissa Mark Bittman recommended. I took some creative liberty with the recipe and made it my own. I look forward to using this book again and again. Hopefully it will inspire me to learn to trust myself in the kitchen.

Next time I roast vegetables, however, I'll make sure my air conditioner is installed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Curious Kohlrabi

As mentioned a few days ago, I purchased some kohlrabi at Headhouse this weekend. It's purple bulb jumped out at me from beneath the leafy greens that surrounded it on one of the produce tables. I have honestly never seen one and looked it up in Josh's copy of How To Cook Everything upon returning from the farmers' market. I had to figure out what it was before figuring out what to do with it.

I took it home, examined it and then did a little more research on preparation. Eventually I found an article from The Kitchn and opted to follow suggestion #4:
4. Roasted. When roasted in the oven, the outside of the kohlrabi caramelizes, and the flavor sweetens and mellows. You can slice the kohlrabi thin for toasted "chips" or cube it.
This seems like a cop out because it's so easy, but I really wanted to prepare it simply so I could taste the vegetable. I just peeled off it's pretty purple skin (which I now think I should have left on), sliced it really thin, tossed it in some olive oil and salt and threw it in the oven. I made sure to taste a little bit of it raw as well. After trying it both ways, think I like it better au naturale than baked.

My kohlrabi chips turned out slightly deformed and a little dark around the edges, but they tasted really great. At 36 calories per cup (excluding the olive oil), I think it's a good alternative to potatoes. If it's still available at the market next week, I'm going to pick some up and try making kohlrabi slaw for lunch. I'd like to experiment with this purple oddity it as much as I can while it's still available locally!

Peachy Keen Muffins

Yesterday I picked up one single peach from the grocery store and figured I'd bake it into some muffins instead of eating it raw. The little fruit went a long way. These muffins have a lot of flavor.

Here's a quick recipe that was inspired by one I found on I made a very small batch but still plan on sharing. The recipe calls for a lot of sugar, which I think can probably afford to be halved. I'll definitely make these again, maybe next time with fresh berries or dried fruit.

Whole Wheat Peach Muffins
Makes 8 Muffins
  • 1 1/5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c canola oil
  • 1/4 c soy milk
  • 1 extra large egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 c organic cane sugar
  • 1 peach with skin pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 c chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp unbleached white flour
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F and place muffin liners in cups.

  2. In a large bowl, mix whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In smaller bowl, mix canola oil, soy milk, egg and cane sugar. Stir well and then pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix just until moist. In another small bowl, toss chopped peaches and pecans with white flour and then fold into batter. Spoon mixture into muffin cups.

  3. Bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in muffin pan for at least 10 minutes before placing muffins on wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I talk to my mother on the phone every weekday morning. More often than not, the weather is a topic of discussion. More often than not, I also make a lame joke that involves me saying "Well, you know they say It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia..", followed by the inevitable I can't believe I said that AGAIN sigh.

But really - this weekend's weather could not have been more perfect. This was evident as Josh and I rode our bicycles over to Headhouse Farmer's Market to pick up some fresh local produce for the week. There wasn't a cloud in the sky as we rode through the cobblestone streets in Old City. Here are two prime examples of things I would not have imagined myself doing pre-weight loss, providing further evidence that losing weight is not attributed to diets so much as an overall shift in lifestyle.

I vividly remember first purchasing a bicycle back in 2005. I attempted to take it for a ride through York, where I was living at the time. At my highest weight, I could barely go two blocks without stopping to catch my breath. Everything about bikeriding was uncomfortable. I try to remember that feeling as I effortlessly zip through the city nowadays. There is something liberating about getting on a bicycle at almost half the size I was and being able to go anywhere I want.

I guarantee if I could easily get anywhere I wanted to go, it wouldn't have been to a farmer's market. But today we went to Headhouse, where I purchased apples, spring onions, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries and a very alien-like purple vegetable called kohlrabi (It's my wildcard, if you will). I am mystified by the kohlrabi and any suggestions on how to prepare it would be greatly appreciated.

Not only was I able to pick up fresh fruits and veggies without driving a car, but I burned a few calories making my way over there and back on two wheels. These are the little shifts in lifestyle that I think are helping me maintain my weight happily. And thinking beyond myself, these lifestyle changes are environmentally friendly.

After riding back from the market, Josh made a cheeseless frittata for us to share along with a few slices of a sourdough baguette also purchased at the market. It was a healthy, satisfying brunch that I can't take credit for, but certainly enjoyed.

I'm looking forward to what I'll find at the market throughout the summer. Right now everything is green, but soon we'll be seeing lots of colorful fruits and veggies. I might need a bigger backpack.