Not Going Out Like That


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The Last Five

It’s been so long since I’ve written a post, that I almost forgot how to do it. I pretty much gave up on this blog thing because I was too busy, it had become a chore rather than a fun, creative outlet and did I say I was too busy ? But rather than close up shop, I just let the blog sit there until I felt the urge to write a post again …. and here I am.

This post is about that 5-7 lbs that are so hard to loose. After googling countless articles on the topic, I wanted to share the “tricks “that few people talk about. Most health & wellness magazines, sites and experts will tell you to drink more water, control your portion size, and exercise. Stuff we all know. For me, the hardest part is not snacking or stress eating. I can eat a healthy dinner, it’s the chips & hummus I decide to have after that are a problem.

I never really had to diet my entire life because I like to be active and I like to eat healthy foods. After my 2nd child was born, I did have to REALLY discipline my eating habits. And then this summer, work took on a stress level of 11 for me and I gained 6-7 lbs by just stress eating or by mindlessly inhaling my lunch, while I tried to get through my 92 unread emails. So here are some “tricks” that I hope to employ again and have helped me in the past:

  • Vitamuffins: My friend told me about these 100 calorie muffin tops that are sold in the frozen, breakfast section of most grocery stores (except Trader Joes). They have 9g of fiber, taste great and are a perfect afternoon snack to keep me full till dinner time. This prevents me from coming home and having a 500 calorie “snack” because I am starving and have not eaten in 5-6 hours.
  • Brush Your Teeth: I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and have little control over my sugar cravings. When I was trying to loose baby weight, I would brush my teeth immediately after dinner which would keep me from snacking or eating sugary treats.
  • Chew Gum: Similar to the tooth brushing trick, this gives you the sweet taste of dessert and gives your mouth something to do.
  • Go for a Walk: If stress or boredom is what triggers eating, go for a walk. A 10-15 minute walk will clear your head, get you away from your pantry and even burn some calories.
  • Drink Black Coffee: Simply by cutting out the half & half or milk and sugar from your coffee can save you 80-150 calories a day. I was using one packet of “sugar in the raw” and half & half in my coffee daily. I am now trying to drink my coffee black, with a half packet of Splenda.
  • Salad Dressing: I’m sure you’ve heard that there are a lot of empty calories in your salad dressing. Your salad may only be 400-500 calories, but you are eating 250 calories in dressing. Ask for olive oil & vinegar on the side or buy your own low-cal dressing from the market and use that when you make or order a salad.
  • Skip the Cheese: This is another item that adds a lot of calories to a salad & sandwiches. Going without can save you 100-150 calories. If you skip the cheese and drink your coffee black, you’ve already cut over 200 calories out of your daily intake.
  • How much to eat ? If you are active, try to eat 12-13 calories per pound (of your current weight) to loose weight. If you are not exercising, cut that down to 10 calories per pound.

Writing this post has been a good reminder how a few simple changes can result in weight loss.

Let me know what tricks you may have 🙂


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Moments

A colorful selection of cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery, which is dangerously close to our house.

cupcakes

As mentioned in a previous post this week, we re-landscaped both the front and back yard toward the end of last summer. One of the things we added is climbing Jasmine plants along our fence. I said I would have a yard with Jasmine when I first moved to LA. It smells so delicious & velvety on a warm evening. Makes me want to camp out in the yard

jasmine

Adventures in K-Town. If you don’t live in LA, you might now know that LA has one of the largest Korean populations outside of Seoul. Our friend took us out on an authentic food adventure which began with this dish that is basically the equivalent of Korean lettuce cups. Slice pork placed atop a lettuce or cabbage leaf of some sort with kimchi,  pickled cucumbers and radishes along with some other acoutrement. I lost track of what I was eating by the 4th or 5th round of soju & beer.

korean


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Healthy Buffalo Chicken

If you like (love ?) buffalo chicken wings but don’t love the calories, this easy recipe is for you. To be honest, I found it on another blog but didn’t bookmark it, and cant’ for the life of me remember the blog name, so this is my disclaimer that I did not come up with this on my own.

buf chicken 3

All you need for this recipe is 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders (regular chicken breasts are fine too, it just saves you some cutting time if you get the tenders). A bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce. Blue Cheese dressing and some Romain lettuce leaves. Below is a pic of what the wing sauce looks like.

buf chicken 2

All you need to do is throw the contents of the wing sauce bottle in a big pot or dutch oven. I used a Le Creuset. Cut up the chicken into about 2 inch chunks and throw them in the sauce. Get the sauce & chicken to a simmer, cover with lid and let it cook on low (simmering) for about an hour. You can stir it around a few times to make sure all pieces cook evenly. Then remove the chicken chunks and shred on a cutting board. The chicken will be so tender you can use a fork to shred it. Put the shredded chicken back in the sauce (see pic below) and let it sit in the hot liquid a few minutes.

buf chicken 1

Once that is all done, prep your Romain lettuce leaves by washing and drying them. Scoop the shredded chicken in each leaf and then drizzle with as much blue cheese dressing as you’d like. I used a slotted spoon for the the shredded chicken because I did not want it to be too saucey on my lettuce leaf. I used about 1 teaspoon of dressing per leaf. ENJOY … without the guilt.


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Easy Snacking

avocado

By the time I get home from work, most days, I am hungry. To avoid over eating at dinner time, I try to have a healthy snack around 5:30pm to get me through two more hours, until I can sit down and eat dinner. One super easy and tasty snack I was recently reminded of is avocado with some hot sauce. It might sound strange but it’s really the same stuff you would eat during most Mexican meals. I love avocado and always have several at the house. I also love hot sauce, and if you don’t already know, there are lots of benefits to eating hot sauce. It revs up metabolism, and keeps you satisfied longer and tastes oh-so-good. You can eat this tasty snack on a slice of toasted bread or Wasa, or even on it’s own.

If you’re counting calories, or trying to slim down, make sure to only eat 1/3 or no more than half a medium avocado as they are full of calories. One medium size avocado can pack as much as 280 calories !

And to be a total dork. the title of this post is a play on one of my favorite musicians of all time – Bob Marley. Most of you have heard the song “Easy Skanking” but just in case, you haven’t, here it is.


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Moments

Some images I captured over the past few weeks. All things that made me stop and pause to enjoy the beauty that life is so full of, sometimes.

mini moments

Love all the color of this outfit. An awesome Spring time rain jacket from Old Navy, my JCrew matchstick jeans, and some green flats, along with a pop of orange from my bag.

moment beach cafe

A beautiful, warm, Spring day in Los Angeles, that brought us to the beach. We walked and played with the kids along the shore, threw rocks in the ocean, and looked for pretty shells. This awesome cafe is right on the sand, and appropriately named Back on the Beach.

IMG_0965

I was so charmed by this coffee set-up I used when we had some family & friends over for brunch. Wish I had the time & energy to set this up every weekend for my husband and me to enjoy.

moment daffodil

The little things I notice when going for a walk around the block. Because I am with two toddlers, a walk “around the block” can take 30-40 minutes as they stop and pick up rocks, examine flowers and the bark on trees. It’s a nice way to slow down and take in all that is around us.


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Mini Moments

These are just some random mini-moments I captured of things that make me happy, and wanted to share in one post, as there was not enough time to make each one a dedicated post.

Nothing says Spring more than the arrival of Daffodils. They are so bright and cheery, I have to buy several bunches each time I see them at the market.
daffodils

I don’t know how Trader Joe’s does it but they come up with some amazing products. Who doesn’t love bacon (vegetarians aside) ? Now your whole house doesn’t have to smell like the stuff because this pre-cooked bacon takes 15 seconds to warm up in the microwave. I sprinkled some in my potato salad and my egg frittata this weekend.
mini moments bacon

I did a blog post with these plaid (tartan) pants and love the contrast of the print with my leopard Be&D bag.
mini moments plaid

Always wanted a house with a red door and love this red front gate that I walked by in my neighborhood. If you have read up on Feng Shui, you know that a red door brings good luck.
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That’s it for today folks. We are experiencing some unusually warm weather in Southern California this week. Wednesday promises a high of 81 so I have to start applying the self tanner now, before I let my winter legs out for show.

Linking up with Real Girl Glam


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Beef Bourguignon

Something about the uber French sound of this dish makes it seem like a big undertaking, but after watching the movie Julie & Julia a few years ago, I have always wanted to try this rustic dish. Now that Spring and warm weather are around the corner, I figured I better make this hearty dish now, before I start thinking about shorts and bathing suits! I used Ina Garten’s (Barefoot Contessa) recipe and tweaked a little based on time and the cooking tools I have available to me.  Below is the recipe as it appears in her cookbook but I added some of my own notes to let you know how I made it.

Beef Bourguignon

What YouWill Need:

1 3-pound filet of beef, trimmed

Kosher salt Freshly ground & 3-4 tablespoons of black pepper

Good olive oil ( I bought a large bottle that was $15 at the store, so I considered that “good”)

1/4 pound bacon ( I used some diced pancetta that Trader Joe’s sells)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 cups good dry red wine, such as Burgundy or Chianti

2 cups beef stock

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 sprig fresh thyme

1/2 pound pearl onions, peeled ( I used some diced yellow onions I had on-hand)

8 to 10 carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch-thick slices

3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick ( I used a bag of pre-cut Crimini mushrooms, again from TJ’s)

With a sharp knife, cut the filet crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Salt and pepper the filets on both sides. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan on medium-high heat, sauté the slices of beef in batches with 2 to 3 tablespoons oil until browned on the outside and very rare inside, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove the filets from the pan and set aside on a platter.
In the same pan, sauté the bacon on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon and set it aside. Drain all the fat, except 2 tablespoons, from the pan. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine and cook on high heat for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Strain the sauce ( I DID NOT DO THIS PART) and return it to the pan. Add the onions and carrots and simmer uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and the vegetables are cooked.
With a fork mash 2 tablespoons butter and the flour into a paste and whisk it gently into the sauce (my version wasn’t really “whisked” but it turned ouf fine anyway)  Simmer for 2 minutes to thicken.
Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms separately in 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil for about 10 minutes, until browned and tender.
Add the filet of beef slices, the mushrooms, and the bacon to the pan with the vegetables and sauce. Cover and reheat gently for 5 to 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Season to taste and serve immediately.

My Wrap Up:

It seems like a lot of sauce / liquid when you are cooking but it reduces down and the addition of flour really does thicken it quite a bit. Although the dish did take some time, it was pretty easy and made for a great, hearty meal. Tasted just as good the next day with leftovers. I served with some french bread that I toasted slightly for some crunch.