I heart my grill.

I did some grilling this weekend. Well, I’ve been doing a lot of grilling this week – mostly salmon, but on Friday I hosted a dinner party and grilled some chicken from Trader Joe’s. And my little electric grill? Amazing.

I’m still working on getting the grill marks, but this meal (I think it was on Tuesday) was delicious. Grilled salmon and grilled asparagus… how could that be wrong? Oh! And iced tea! I made that myself. Oh so summery.

I figured it was apropos to blog about grilling, since it is Labor Day, the unofficial last weekend of summer. I also had homemade frozen yogurt for breakfast. It just felt right. It is a holiday, after all. I think I’ll spend today doing some residual grocery shopping – I went to Target for much of my weekly food supply on Saturday, then walked to Uwajimaya for the remainder yesterday – but I went into cleaning-out-the-cabinet-by-baking-sweets mode last night, so now I need more lemon juice (I took my first shot at baking lemon bars). I also baked some cookies. Don’t worry, I won’t be eating either of these concoctions. I will be donating them to a very special cause, the My Coworkers Need Snack Food Fund.

It’s almost 10:30 am. Guess I should get dressed and go walk around in the sun while we still have it!

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Healthy foodie remembers how to eat healthy food.

I haven’t been eating that badly this week. Sure, there was a lot of cheese, and there were those apple crisps, and there was all that frozen yogurt… but they were made from good things! Still, I feel guilty. So tonight, I ate what I was supposed to be eating:

Asparagus with goat cheese and pesto, sauteed spinach with garlic, mushrooms, onions and sun-dried tomatoes, and sesame teriyaki salmon… mmmm.

I really enjoyed the sauteed spinach… I just made up the recipe. You saute the garlic and onion in olive oil until the onion has started to brown, then throw the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes in there and saute for a few more minutes, then wilt the spinach. Super easy. I also topped it with bacon bits, which probably wasn’t super healthy, but oh well.

They provided free lunch at work today – Chinese food! Yum. Except here’s what was on the menu: almond chicken, Mongolian beef, chow mein, and egg rolls. Oh, and fortune cookies. Notice something conspicuously missing? Oh yes – vegetables. Seriously! They didn’t serve any veggies! After I ate all the protein and fried goodness, I had to go to the salad bar downstairs and put something together. It was too much food, for sure, but I’d rather eat too much and know my meal was somewhat balanced than not get enough nutrients.

Tomorrow… I leave to meet my mommy in California! And Sunday we leave for Buenos Aires! I think I must stop blogging and start packing now…

The cure for impending illness? Japanese food.

My throat is getting scratchy. My head is foggy. Miso soup? Yes, please!

I’ve been craving sushi all day anyway, so a Japanese dinner seemed the only possible solution. I also didn’t want to go grocery shopping again (I went yesterday for the quesadilla accoutrements), so I did something I rarely do: I used ingredients I already had. And after a day of perusing food blogs working really hard, I was ready to get creative.

The end result:

The menu:

Wild Salmon Cakes with Ponzu Sauce (I didn’t have kaffir leaves or wasabi paste; I used Splenda instead of brown sugar for the ponzu sauce, and shoyu for the soy sauce; I used a 14.5-ounce can of wild salmon instead of fresh. It still ended up being nothing short of amazing – good thing I have leftovers!)

Spinach Gomae (again, used shoyu; made half the recipe for the sauce, since I am only one person; used about half a clamshell case of spinach, which was all I had left. Also delicious, and really very easy to make.)

Japanese Sesame Noodles (with shirataki noodles instead of soba – have you tried them? They are little zero-calorie miracles! I get them at Uwajimaya, an Asian supermarket in the International District.)

Miso Soup (also from Uwajimaya)

It was a lovely meal – both pretty and tasty. It helps that all my plates have a Japanese-influenced design. I don’t know why, but I’ve always preferred Asian food. Don’t get me wrong, I will scarf down spaghetti with Italian sausage (on spaghetti squash, of course) and you know how I feel about Russian food, but there’s something about Asian flavors that really appeals to me. Except Indian. For some reason, it’s always been my least favorite.

Then there was dessert, which was not Japanese at all…

That’s a baked apple concoction, with Splenda instead of sugar, gluten-free flour instead of all-purpose and almond milk instead of whole milk. And right next to it is cottage cheese with vanilla extract, cinnamon, and Splenda. Oh, and the cinnamon almonds. Clearly there was a cinnamon theme.

And then I had a piece of 72% Godiva dark chocolate… because dark chocolate is good for you. What? It’s true!

Tonight’s Latin-themed dinner.

As planned, I made these shrimp and avocado quesadillas for dinner tonight, using the spicy shrimp, extra thin yellow corn tortillas (no gluten, low carbs), and a combination of cotija cheese and a low-fat Mexican shredded cheese blend from Trader Joe’s. Photographic evidence:

I tried to flip them fearlessly when instructed to do so, but I think they were stuffed a little full and some of the innards decided to flop onto the pan. I then learned that cheese cooking directly on the pan smells delicious – not sarcasm. I think next time I’ll not-so-accidentally sprinkle some cheese between the pan and the tortilla for some crispy cheese tortilla action.

This lovely quesadilla was accompanied by Cuban black bean bisque, fresh pico de gallo, and the remainder of the avocado and tomato (the portion that wouldn’t fit in the quesadilla). More photographic evidence:

It was almost Perricone-friendly… except for the tortillas and the cheese. But you can’t make quesadillas without tortillas and cheese… it would be foolish to attempt such an endeavor.

Earlier today, I treated myself to smoked salmon from Pike Place Market. I watched the guys throw my fish to each other behind the counter as French-speaking tourists looked on in amazement. I love buying my groceries at Pike Place – I always end up getting something for a discount. Today, I asked for – and paid for – 8 ounces and got 10. When I went on Saturday, I managed to get $17 worth of berries for $15. The only problem is that I usually have to fight my way through slow-moving tourists to get where I need to go, and I don’t usually have the patience. Today was special.

I also picked up a few more cookbooks at World Market on my way home, and finally got the copy I ordered of Nothing Beets Borscht when I arrived at home. What an exciting day of food-ing I’ve had…

And now, to peruse my new cookbooks. Yay!

Day 12.

Breakfast

On the menu: Scrambled eggs (3 egg whites and 1 yolk) with a little chopped onion and green bell pepper; 2 slices turkey bacon; 1/2 cup strawberries.

The reality: Scrambled eggs with a little chopped onion and green bell pepper; 2 slices turkey bacon; 1/2 cup strawberries.

Summary: This was fun. I kind of like chopping in the morning. I do wish I’d utilized less of the onion and green bell pepper, because there ended up being a high veggie-t0-egg ratio, but the flavor was still good. Lots of protein happening this morning! Hopefully it will help me stay awake at work today.

Lunch

On the menu: 3 to 5 ounces of chicken salad (made with 2 ounces chicken saved from last night’s dinner, mixed with chopped red onion and celery, and dressed with 1 tablespoon olive oil and lemon juice) served on a bed of romaine lettuce; sliced tomatoes; 1 cup chicken-vegetable soup.

The reality: 2 ounces Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken (yep, still eating those leftovers); romaine lettuce salad with chopped red onion, celery, and sliced tomato, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice; 1 cup chicken-vegetable soup.

Summary: I like my protein warm. Also, the salad wouldn’t have been quite right with that particular chicken recipe.

Afternoon Snack

On the menu: 1/2 cup plain yogurt; 1/2 cup blueberries; 3 almonds.

The reality: 1/2 cup plain yogurt with cinnamon and Splenda; 1/2 apple; 3 wasabi soy almonds.

Summary: Due to the sudden lack of blueberries, I had to do some substituting. The only fruit at the little convenience store in my work building consisted of fresh apples and canned peaches, so I went for the former. The apple was fairly large, so I chopped it in half and cut it into little pieces (with a plastic knife, I might add). I ended up adding a little more cinnamon and Splenda to the apple pieces and mixing them up with the yogurt. The result was reminiscent of an apple crisp, minus the just-out-of-the-oven part.

Dinner

On the menu: 6 ounces grilled salmon; salad of romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, and avocado, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice; grilled zucchini and mushroom kebabs.

The reality: 6 ounces baked sesame salmon; salad of romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, and avocado, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic; zucchini and mushrooms sauteed in olive oil and garlic.

Summary: The sesame salmon is from Safeway, and it was delicious! They have these individually packed frozen salmon portions (they have lots of other fish, too – I swear, I stared at the freezer case for ten minutes in overwhelmed awe trying to decide how much I could carry home). I don’t have a grill, aside from the George Foreman, so I decided to try a saute, which was also a success.

Bedtime Snack

On the menu: 2 ounces tuna salad (water-packed tuna mixed with onion, celery, pepper, and a touch of mayonnaise); 4 almonds; 1 pear.

The reality: 2 ounces tuna salad; 4 Tuscan almonds; 1 pear.

Summary: I was more in the mood for a cottage cheese dessert, but this ended up being yummy. I probably added too much mayo to the tuna salad, but oh well… it was delicious anyway.

Today’s Exercise

I walked to and from work, then I walked to and from Safeway – two miles round trip, one of which is uphill, the other of which was while carrying at least 10 pounds’ worth of groceries. True story. Then I got back and made that ikra, which required chopping and standing.

Summary

I may have snuck a little bit of ikra while I was cooking… and maybe a little parmesan cheese while I was making my lunch for tomorrow… and maybe a little more ikra. It’s going to be a tasty batch, I can tell.

I loved dinner tonight. I was surprised the saute turned out so well, considering I was improvising and that’s usually when my cooking goes awry. I was very pleased with the salmon as well. Definitely a happy food day. I think I’ve been feeling so tired because of the cold, because it often hits me after my walk to work. I wish it would get warm here already. It’s springtime… maybe Seattle didn’t get the memo.

Day 9.

I woke up at around 4:30 this morning ready to start my day. This is extraordinary behavior for me, considering I usually feel the urge to sleep right through my alarm until about 6, when I crankily and sluggishly arise from a peaceful slumber only to realize that I have less time to get ready for work than I had initially planned.

Breakfast

On the menu: Omelet made with 3-4 egg whites and 1 yolk (add a few sliced mushrooms, if desired); 1/4 cup steel-cut oats; 3 almonds.

The reality: Omelet made with 3 egg whites and 1 yolk, plus one sliced mushroom, a few spinach leaves, and a little feta; 1/4 cup steel-cut oats with Splenda and cinnamon; 3 cinnamon almonds.

Summary: To me, omelets are just wrong without a little cheese, and I really like spinach. Both feta and spinach are on Perricone’s happy list, so it should be fine.

Lunch

On the menu: Scallop salad (2 ounces scallops from last night’s dinner), dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, chopped red onion and dill; 1/2 cup three-bean salad.

The reality: 2 ounces leftover scallops; 1/2 cup three-bean salad with chopped red onion.

Summary: The scallops were still yummy, but the three-bean salad had too much chopped red onion. Also, I was so distracted by work that I forgot to take a picture. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Afternoon Snack

On the menu: 2 ounces smoked salmon; 3 endives; 4 almonds.

The reality: 2 ounces peppered smoked salmon; 3 endives; 4 wasabi-soy almonds.

Summary: Trader Joe’s didn’t have plain smoked salmon, so I got the peppered kind instead. Yum. The endives were a fluke; that chopped salad I got from TJ’s happened to contain 4 endives and I ate one yesterday, so that worked out well for me. However, I am still on my never-ending quest for endives – stopped by the IGA on my way to work this morning and they weren’t there, either. Why must they be so elusive?

Dinner

On the menu: 6 ounces grilled salmon; 1/2 cup Cuban black bean soup; romaine salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice; 1/2 cup berries.

The reality: 6 ounces baked Trader Joe’s chimichurri salmon; 1/2 cup TJ’s Cuban black bean soup; TJ’s chopped salad with feta cheese, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic; 1/2 cup strawberries and blueberries.

Summary: Trader Jose (yes, Jose) took over my dinner with his delicious Argentine-flavored salmon and his organic black bean soup. Once again, I managed to avoid the non-Perricone-approved ingredients in the pre-made salad, although I did add some feta (just a little). I was really happy with the meal.

Bedtime Snack

On the menu: 1/2 cup cottage cheese; 1/2 cup strawberries; 4 almonds.

The reality: 1/2 cup cottage cheese with cinnamon and Splenda; 1/2 cup strawberries; 4 cinnamon almonds.

Today’s Exercise

I really only walked to and from work, then spent 10 minutes on the elliptical – it was another lazy day (although not as lazy as yesterday). I got up so early that I was absolutely wiped out by the afternoon and all I wanted to do was lay down on the couch and watch season 4 of Mad Men. That came later.

Summary

I wish I had slept a little more today. I’m starting to get excited about Sunday, when I finally get a day to eat whatever I want – not that I’m not eating exceptionally well right now, but I’m starting to feel like I need a little break from this routine. Or maybe I’m just sleepy. I’ll probably feel better tomorrow, provided I get a little more sleep tonight.

Day 4.

One of the first things I did this morning was measure my waist, just to see if there was any difference. I seem to have lost 0.5″ (from 24.5″) since Saturday, which I wouldn’t believe if my mom hadn’t told me how quickly she shrunk last time she did this. So, yay! I won’t weigh myself until this is over, or at least until my waist gets down to its smallest, which would require losing another 0.5.” At this rate, that should be Saturday… haha.

Breakfast

On the menu: 2 slices turkey bacon; 2 poached egg whites with one yolk; 1/4 cup steel-cut oats; 1/2 cup blueberries.

The reality: 2 slices turkey bacon; 2 poached egg whites with one yolk and a little salt and pepper; 1/4 cup steel-cut oats with Splenda, cinnamon and a tiny bit of coconut oil; 1/2 cup blueberries.

Summary: I had to look at the menu about four times to make sure this was actually what I was supposed to be eating. I mean, seriously – this was a huge breakfast with a lot of protein. Alas, there were no misprints – this was, in fact, the Day 4 breakfast. I learned how to poach an egg, too, so that was fun. I wasn’t even 100% sure what a poached egg was before I Googled it this morning. Oh, and I mixed the blueberries in with the oatmeal because that’s what my mom does, and my mom is always right.

Lunch

On the menu: 4 ounces grilled chicken salad (made with fresh dill, chopped red onion, garlic and olive oil); 1/2 cup steamed asparagus; 1/2 cup strawberries.

The reality: 4 ounces grilled chicken salad (made with dried dill, chopped red onion, garlic and olive oil); 1/2 cup steamed asparagus; 1/2 cup strawberries.

Summary: I know I didn’t steam the asparagus right. I think I more shriveled it than steamed it… I really didn’t know what I was doing. Sigh. It tasted okay, but I won’t be doing that again.

Afternoon Snack

On the menu: 2 ounces sliced turkey breast; 4 cherry tomatoes; 4 almonds.

The reality: 1 ounce sliced turkey breast, 1 ounce chicken breast; 4 cherry tomatoes; 4 almonds.

Summary: The turkey breast came in a container with 3 1/2 servings, which is kind of ridiculous, so I had to supplement the turkey with some chicken to get enough protein with this meal. I think they’re roughly equivalent anyway, so shouldn’t make a huge difference, if at all.

Dinner

On the menu: 6 ounces filet of sole, cod or scrod; 8 oven-roasted brussels sprouts with apples; romaine lettuce salad with 2 ounces chickpeas, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.

The reality: 6 ounces leftover misoyaki turbot; 8 microwaveable brussels sprouts with coconut oil; romaine lettuce salad with 2 tablespoons three-bean salad, dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.

Summary: The impractical thing about this meal plan is how much food it wastes if you’re living alone and following it to the letter. I do have cod; however, I have 12 ounces of it in the freezer and if I defrost any of it, it has to be all of it. Anyway, my reasoning is that the turbot is also a white fish. As for the chickpeas (a.k.a., three-bean salad), I think 2 ounces is roughly equivalent to 2 tablespoons (about 1/8 cup), so that’s why that happened. As for the brussels sprouts… I didn’t feel like using the oven. So there.

Bedtime Snack

On the menu: 2 ounces salmon; 2 tablespoons three-bean salad.

The reality: 2 ounces baked salmon (from last night’s leftovers); 2 tablespoons three-bean salad.

Summary: What, no almonds? Sadness. I am, however, glad I got some salmon today… yum.

Today’s Exercise

Walking to and from work. Oh, and wandering around Nordstrom Rack. What? My legs are still sore from yesterday’s workout, I needed some retail therapy.

Summary

I think this is working, but I was cranky today (largely because of work), so it’s hard to tell. I was friendly to my coworkers, though – or at least, tried to be – so that was new. I’m glad I took a day off from exercise, but I’ll get back to it tomorrow. Poaching the eggs was fun. And dinner was really easy, but it made me quite happy… I love brussels sprouts. I like that I don’t feel hungry… ever. That’s a plus. Hopefully this works for me the way it worked for my mom. If so, I think it would be fairly easy to continue eating this way.