1.29.2011

Oven-Roasted Kale


Holy yummy! I made a super healthy dinner tonight since last night we gorged ourselves on Mexican food and margaritas {so worth it}. We're also trying to use up some of the perishable items we have in the fridge before we jet off to Oahu on Wednesday. My main dish was pretty lackluster, but the Oven-Roasted Kale side dish really blew my mind!

Seriously. Consider my mind blown.

Also, to explain the KitchenAid shot. Well, that is exactly what it may or may not look like - a KitchenAid version of a Slap Chop. You know, the "you're gonna love my nuts" ridiculous infomercial Slap Chop. And it is the bomb diggity. I pretty much forgot about my garlic press. It makes life easier and more glorious.

Oven-Roasted Kale
{serves 2}


1 bunch kale, stems and tough ribs removed, leaves coarsely sliced
2 medium sliced cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon (or less) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds*
Pepper and salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss kale, olive oil, garlic, sesame seeds, salt and pepper until well mixed. Pour mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes or so, for 10 - 12 minutes until the kale is crispy and starting to brown.

*To toast sesame seeds, just dump them into a pan on medium heat and stir until they are slightly browned, about 4 minutes or so. Be careful the heat isn't too high or else those sneaky little buggers will try to escape the pan by popping out! Don't believe me? Try it -- it's actually kind of fun.

Um, seriously. YUM. I've tried kale a few times in the past couple weeks and I haven't been wowed by it. I know it's incredibly good for you, though, so I've been working at it. This, my friends, is the holy grail of kale {I so just went there}. It tastes like it should be bad for you, but it's ... KALE!

i really have a happy!

My daily happy is {drumroll, please}

...

My new blog layout, facebook page, and twitter designs...LOVE!

www.facebook.com/fleckbites
www.twitter.com/fleckbites

And, more shameless {sort of} self-promotion - my uber talented hubby did it all!

and I may or may not have "project managed" him the entire time.

<3

1.28.2011

I Have a Happy

I'm going to start doing this every day to help me appreciate the little things!  Feel free to share yours in the comments :)

Daily Happy - Pink Sky at Sunset Yesterday

Sooo purrrrrrty
 Bonus Happies!

  • Putting on a pair of pants that haven't fit for over six months and finding them the perfect size
  • Purple stilettos
  • Sequined shirts
  • 60 degree weather...in January...in Seattle!
  • Being able to give my seat to an elderly woman on the bus (especially since no one else would)
  • Hawaii in 5 days!
What's making you happy today?

1.25.2011

Roasted Portabello Sandwiches with Rosemary Aioli

Just need to document this yum-tastic dinner I whipped together last night (no pictures...again...I promise to be better)!

Roasted Portabello Sandwiches with Rosemary Aioli
{serves 2}

Sandwiches:
2 large portabello mushrooms, stemmed and dark gills removed
1/2 small sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Maui), sliced into 1/3 inch wedges
Spike seasoning and pepper to taste
4 slices whole wheat bread or 2 whole wheat buns

Rosemary Aioli:
2 tablespoons low-fat mayo or Veganaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary (or dried)
pepper to taste

Pre-heat broiler to high and lightly spray a cookie sheet or broiler pan with cooking spray. Wash mushrooms and pat dry. Season onions and mushrooms with Spike and pepper, and arrange on pan. Broil for 6 - 8 minutes, then stir onions and flip mushrooms over. Continue cooking until the onions start to brown and the mushrooms are tender when pierced with a knife.

To prepare the aioli, mix all ingredients together until well blended.

Toast the bread slices or roll halves. Spoon the aioli onto the bread and lay the onions and mushroom on top.

I served this with roasted lemon garlic broccoli and asparagus. While the mushrooms and onions cooked, I steamed the veggies until just tender.  Then, when I pulled the pan out of the oven to flip the mushrooms, I took the veggies and mixed them with a tiny drizzle of olive oil, a bit of minced garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice and added them to the pan. I broiled the whole thing for another 6 minutes or so.

So simple, but so flavorful and so delicious!

My Secrets to Losing Weight

Just a nice little status on the current sitch.

Weight Loss Statistics:
Weight Loss Last Week:  -2.5lbs.
Weight Loss to Date:  -12 lbs. 
Left to Goal:  -1lb. (wedding day weight)
Left to Stretch Goal:  -5lbs.

Woop! I'm so there! BooYAH!

For those of you wondering how I managed to lose 12 pounds (and over the holidays, no less) here's my secret -- I have no idea! Just kidding. Actually, it started out just counting calories and taking them down a bit. That worked for the first month or so. I also started doing Pilates three times a week. I'll post more about Pilates another time - it's my love (besides Keith, of course)! Now, I've learned quite a bit about eating healthy versus "eating healthy" and adjusted my habits accordingly. I do not count calories at all, and I don't miss it one bit! I'm actually losing more weight, and I have more energy! Here are the keys:

  • Cut back on the salt! Try not to eat anything that has over 350mgs of sodium. Buy low or no sodium canned foods. Try other seasonings besides salt, like Mrs. Dash, Spike, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, lemon juice, etc. Get creative! It's better for you and it'll get you to experiment.
  • More fruits & veggies! Eat a salad a day with low sodium dressing (or make your own). Try a smoothie or piece of fruit for dessert. Add berries or bananas to your cereal in the morning. Slice up carrots, celery, cucumbers, red peppers and have them in your fridge for an easy snack.
  • Sugar is bad. Don't eat it. Try freezing a banana and blending it with some vanilla soy milk and a bit of ground flax seed. It's like ice cream! You can do this with just about any frozen fruit. Experiment! Also, try date sugar in baking. All natural and it sweetens things up.
  • Switch to whole grains. Bleached white flour is bad. Plus, whole grains fill you up more. Try a whole grain bagel with almond butter for breakfast. Have your turkey on a sprouted whole wheat wrap. Only buy whole wheat - this is an easy one and definitely makes a difference.
  • Snack on unsalted cashews, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Cut a whole grain pita into triangles, dust with garlic powder and bake at 350 degrees until crisp - homemade "chips!"
  • Cheat. Do it. Have crab cakes, a big juicy burger and fries, a beer (or several), a milkshake. If you tell yourself that you can't have these things ever again, you'll be unsuccessful. When you cheat, make it count, and then move on. Try not to cheat more than once a week. This is super important if you want to maintain your weight loss and be an all-around happy person.
  • Exercise. Do I really have to put this in here? There's NO way to be healthy unless you exercise. Your body needs it. It's good for you. It creates endorphins. Find something you like and DO IT. It can be speed vacuuming, dancing around your house to loud 90's music, bench pressing your dog. Whatever it is, it's going to make a difference.
  • Educate yourself. For a long time, I thought I ate pretty healthy. I've come to find out that many, many things I ate were not healthy at all. It's important to learn about different ways of eating and see what works for you.
I hope this helps anyone out there who is trying to lose weight. It's been working for me!

My last weigh-in before Hawaii will be this Saturday. Wish me luck!

1.20.2011

Top 30 Foods According to Some Scientists

I thought I would share this, since it's basically a list of all the foods I'm trying to incorporate into my daily meals for weight loss and improved health. You should, too!

A - Aggregate
N - Nutrient
D - Density

I - Index

FoodANDI
Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens1000
Kale1000
Watercress1000
Bok Choy824
Spinach739
Broccoli Rabe715
Chinese or Napa Cabbage704
Brussels Sprouts672
Swiss Chard670
Arugula559
Cabbage481
Romaine Lettuce389
Broccoli376
Red Pepper366
Carrot Juice344
Tomatoes and Tomato Products164–300
Cauliflower295
Strawberries212
Pomegranate Juice193
Blackberries178
Plums157
Raspberries145
Blueberries130
Oranges109
Cantaloupe100
Beans (all varieties)57–104
Seeds: Flaxseed, Sunflower, Sesame52–78
Pistachio Nuts48
Tofu37
Walnuts34


Know it, love it.

Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and Red Chard

Trying to incorporate more veggies into the daily grind is challenging, but it's getting a lot easier! I'm finding lots of new ways to do it and while I'm still doing the 28-day Challenge, I'm not following the meal plan exactly, either (it got a little boring and VERY time-consuming). With a little creativity, though, I'm able to apply the principles of Nutritarianism and still have fun with cooking.

Yesterday, I wanted to eat kale. Kale is considered to be nature's perfect food, rating a 1000 (perfect score) on the ANDI scale. But...it's weird. Or at least, it's weird if you haven't ever really eaten it before. It's not bad, it's just a bit of a struggle to find a good way to incorporate. I decided to use my dependable fallback, pasta, and give it a go.

Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and Red Chard
6 - 8 ounces whole wheat penne (or any other whole wheat pasta)
1 bunch kale (tough stems removed and sliced into 1" pieces)
1/2 bunch red chard or rainbow chard, stems sliced into bite-sized pieces and leaves roughly sliced)
1 cup sweet onion (Vidalia or similar), chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon (or less) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon (or to taste) red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Grilled Chicken (optional)
2 organic boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
1 1/2 tbsps. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. basil

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions; drain and reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil on medium high in a heavy deep pot. Add the garlic and onions and saute until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the kale, chard and red pepper flakes and mix well. Saute until the kale begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low and continue cooking until the chard stems begin to soften but are still crisp, about 15 minutes. If the mixture starts to get too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time to moisten.

If you are using chicken, season well with the Italian seasoning and basil and grill (or use a George Foreman) until done, about 8 minutes. Slice into strips.

Transfer pasta to a large bowl. Combine with the kale / chard mixture. Add the lemon juice and mix well. If the pasta is too dry, add the cooking liquid one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Serve with the chicken strips on top.

Simple, super healthy, and yum-tastic!

1.17.2011

Just Keep Swimming

Aloha! (I'm practicing for my inaugural visit to the Aloha state, commencing in 16 days)

Just a quick update on my life's work at the moment.

Weight Loss Statistics:
Weight Loss Last Week:  -1.5lbs.
Weight Loss to Date:  -10 lbs. 
Left to Goal:  -3lbs. (wedding day weight)
Left to Stretch Goal:  -7lbs.
Left to My High School Weight: -18lbs. (hahahha, this is just in there for perspective - sad, self-loathingesque perspective)

Not too bad, considering I cheat on my diet at every opportunity, and I only do cardio once a week. Ugh, I'm bad! I need to get into a habit of incorporating cardio into my daily routine, but it's sooo hard. I HATE cardio. I would do Pilates every single day - and I wish I could afford to - but cardio, blah. It's free and it stinks.

However, that is my goal for this week. Cardio. Every. Day. I mean it. I think I can devote 20 minutes a day to my potentially smokin' hot bod health, right? I mean, a girl's gotta have priorities. Anyone have any tips? Please?

Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.

Mahalo! 

1.13.2011

Eat Right America 28 Day Challenge

I've been slowly evolving my diet toward the healthy end of the spectrum over the past few years. I LOVE fast food (McDonald's fries, Burger King's burgers, Wendy's chicken sandwiches, Taco Bell's...well, everything, you get the picture). I used to be able to eat all that crap like every day and never gain a pound, but now, things are a little different. I'm not just changing the way I eat because I don't want to be fat, though. There are also tons of health concerns that arise when you eat a diet full of sodium, fat, sugar, etc. I have a family history of many things, like heart attacks, blood clots, cancer, diabetes, the list goes on, and I want to do what I can to try to keep myself and my husband healthy.

Since we're off to Hawaii in 3 short (but painfully long) weeks, I've decided this is a great time to take the Eat Right America 28-day Challenge.  You can read more about it and join it for free by going here, but basically, you take a survey and then based on the survey, you're given a personalized health prescription and a meal plan for 28 days. The style of eating is based on a concept called "Nutritionarism" - simply put, a person who naturally gravitates toward a supremely healthy diet. The cornerstones are pretty basic - don't eat fried foods, barbecued or canned meat, or full fat dairy - but some other main focuses are on lowering your sodium intake dramatically and increasing your consumption of beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables. It uses the ANDI system to determine which foods are the best for you and gives you tons of recipes that help you incorporate as many of them as possible, daily. I found that a noble endeavor, and so we decided to embark on the journey of Nutritionarism on Monday, January 10th.

We set out for our preparatory grocery shopping trip on Saturday, and quickly found that this was no joke. About $300 later and more vegetables and fruit than I had probably consumed in the last month, we were ready to get started. Monday dawned bright and hungover (for me, since Sunday was my birthday and I thoroughly enjoy pink champagne), and I dutifully cooked up the breakfast in our plan. As I was making everything, I realized that the "Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal" I was making had two entire chopped apples and a quarter cup of blueberries in it. That's a LOT of fruit for two people. But, I made it according to the recipe and we noshed on bowls full of apples with a tiny bit of oatmeal :) By lunch, I was realizing the full extent of what we had gotten into.
 
Keith's Facebook status on Tuesday morning.


He actually forgot mushrooms in his above list, and he's not participating in the lunch portion. So, I had all of the above, plus avocados, pears, and spinach. To be sure, I felt great about eating all of these fruits & veggies. The recipes are actually quite flavorful and filling, and it's nice to know I'm doing the right thing for my body.

Today was the first day I cheated at all, and by cheating, I mean I had a Spinach, Feta & Egg White Wrap from Starbucks for breakfast and yellow curry with brown rice for lunch. I was running late this morning and didn't have time to pack anything. This is day four, and EVERYTHING TASTES SO SALTY. It's incredible. I've drank about 48 ounces of water already today and I'm still drinking water like crazy because my mouth tastes like salt. I'm actually craving a salad. So, I'd say the diet is working.

I'll keep you posted on it as things progress, but I wanted to explain the lack of recipe posting. I am cooking what's in the program and I don't have the rights to redistribute the recipes. Don't want a lawyer coming after me! But you can access all the recipes and get your own plan here. One last quick note, you definitely don't have to spend $300 on groceries to do the plan. I just went a little crazy, plus I bought everything at Whole Foods, PLUS, I live in Seattle, and things are pretty pricey here as the nationwide average goes :)  Just had to throw that out there!

1.06.2011

Handy Freshness Guide

Ever wonder if that ham you've had in the fridge for 6 months is really still OK to eat?  I came across this handy guide and thought it would be useful!

Make sure you note the date somewhere on the food item that you are freezing so that you don't have to try to play "remember what I did in April." If you are using tupperware or reusable food containers, just take a piece of masking take or even invisible tape and write the month (or the month's number) on it in permanent marker.  That way, you can easily remove it for the next use!

1.03.2011

Crunchy Coffee Cake

Deciding on what to make for a New Year's Day brunch, especially since I knew we'd be drinking a LOT, was tricky.  I finally settled on a menu of quiche, bacon, and coffee cake.  This cake is great because you can make it the night before and its crunchy topping just gets a little crunchier, which is a good thing.  It's got a simple flavor that's slightly addicting if you aren't looking for anything complex.  I tweaked it just a bit to make it healthier (just a tiny bit though!).

Crunchy Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
Topping:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8-inch cake pan with butter and dust with all-purpose flour.
  2. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Beat in the butter one heaping 1/4 teaspoonful at a time, using an electric mixer set on low speed, until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Beat in the sugar a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture resembles fine damp sand. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. Add the vanilla, lemon extract, and milk, beat on medium-high, just until blended. Do not over beat.
  4. Set aside 1/2 cup batter. Bake remaining batter in an 8-inch cake pan at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
  5. Make the topping: Cut the 4 tablespoons of butter with the granulated and light-brown sugars, the cake flour, and the cinnamon, and mix with reserved cake batter. Sprinkle over the baking cake and continue to bake until a skewer tests clean and the topping is bubbling — about 15 more minutes.

Herbed Shrimp Dip

I wanted to have a seafood dip for our New Year's Eve spread, and after looking through dozens of recipes, I finally settled on this one.  Simple, and healthier since it calls for reduced-fat sour cream and light mayo.  The flavors came together beautifully in a way that lets you taste the ingredients individually and yet is still harmonious.  Yes, I am gushing about this silly dip.  It's that good.

Herbed Shrimp Dip


  • 1/2 pound peeled deveined pre-cooked frozen shrimp (any size), thawed

  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise

  • 2 scallions, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish (optional)

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper

  • Crostini, crackers, or crudites, for serving


  • Thaw the shrimp under cold running water until defrosted, about 5 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels and finely chop.

    In a medium bowl, combine shrimp, sour cream, mayonnaise, scallions, parsley, and lemon zest and juice; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate shrimp dip until chilled, at least 30 minutes (and up to 2 days). Serve shrimp dip garnished with scallions, if desired, alongside crostini, crackers, or crudites.


    It's like crack.  Seriously.

    Bombay Sliders with Garlic Curry Sauce

    For New Year's Eve, we decided to go with heavy appetizers instead of a sit down dinner. Of the things I made, these were my favorite. Incredibly flavorful, they are definitely not your ordinary run-of-the-mill sliders! The flavors go together very well and the sauce is delish! Serve with onions, lettuce, and cucumber for something different.

    
    Yummy sliders!
     Bombay Sliders with Garlic Curry Sauce
    • 1 cup mayonnaise, divided
    • 6 1/4 teaspoons curry powder, divided
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons plain yogurt
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons ketchup
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 2 pounds ground turkey
    • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1/4 cup minced green onions
    • 2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 3/4 teaspoon hot chili powder or Hungarian hot paprika
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 12 small dinner rolls, cut horizontally in half, lightly toasted
    Mix 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 1/4 teaspoons curry powder, and next 3 ingredients in small bowl for sauce. Let stand at room temperature while preparing sliders.
    Place turkey, next 6 ingredients, remaining 1/4 cup mayonnaise, and 4 teaspoons curry powder in large bowl. Mix with fork or hands just until blended (do not overmix). Divide mixture into 12 equal portions. Using wet hands, form each portion into patty about 1/2 inch thick.
    Preheat broiler or heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. If broiling patties, brush rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil and arrange patties on sheet. Broil (or cover patties in skillet and cook in batches) until cooked through, pressing patties down lightly with spatula before turning over, about 3 minutes per side (or 4 minutes per side if cooking in skillet).
    Place patties on bottom halves of rolls. Top each patty with sauce. Cover with roll tops.