Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chocolate granola bars are a godsend!

I’m feeling so incredibly tired tonight. I had an amazingly insane day at work. I don’t think I got much actual work done as much as I was on the phone with the help desk for about half of the day. I couldn’t get into the folders I needed to get into; somehow I kept disconnecting the internet (even though I was nowhere near the land line) which prevented me from sending or receiving e-mail; I was unable to connect to the internet which also prevented me from going into the network folders. Ugh! It felt like I was going nowhere, in circles. The WIM (Wine Industry Module) program that I live in had its issues of its own and it was fairly slow. My God, could this day have gotten any slower? I’m glad I didn’t have enough coins to buy something at the vending machine; otherwise I would have gotten Fiber one chocolate barssomething to munch on! However, I did manage to eat a couple of Fiber One Oats & Chocolate granola bars (deliciously amazing!) and completely demolished my Salvadorean candy, leche de burra, a.k.a. donkey’s milk (which isn’t actually made from donkey’s milk). The candy was hard and kept me distracted from all my stress and frustration. The more I chewed, the softer it got. It was divine. I was about to call the help desk yet again, for the 5th time, when I realized it was 4:50 p.m. Was I willing to risk those last precious ten minutes and spend them with the help desk? I think not. I was glad I’d taken a slightly shorter lunch because boy was I ready to go home!

I stopped by the pharmacy, picked up a prescription and off I went to my Weight Watchers meeting. Meetings used to be uplifting, beneficial and worthwhile; lately they’ve been more of a Debbie downer bitch session, mainly from the newbies. There’s this guy (the only guy, I might add) who attends our meetings who’s been on program for about 20 weeks now and talks about things he shouldn’t be eating and only eats about 10 things. OK, really, nothing is off limits, just pick your food wisely, dammit!! And to me, only eating 10 things sounds like a road leading to a plateau. Even if you’re not on a weight loss journey, you still need some variety in your food; otherwise you’ll get bored with it and it’ll lead into food that’s unhealthy and can potentially lead into some bad weight gain. Anyway, this guy seems to take over the meeting and it’s getting pretty damn annoying. I’ve seen the leader try to ease into getting him off his ranting and getting back on topic, but she needs to step it up, take charge and talk about his personal crap after the meeting. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike newbies, as I used to be one, but I didn’t talk about what bad stuff I’d eaten, or what I felt was completely off limits. I now know that I shouldn’t eat potato chips because it’s difficult for me to control portion sizes at times. But c’mon! Meetings are supposed to be encouraging; and like a classroom, there’s a topic/subject, and ways to approach the topic; then there’s a possible, “has anyone had this problem, and if so, how did you go about handling it?” Ugh. I’m so glad I’ve got a buddy who’s on the same boat as I am. She’s been a WW member for a while and like me, is getting sick of this guy. Every time he talks it’s a “oh boy, here we go again” look. I’m going to talk to the leader early at next week’s meeting and let her know she needs to step up the pep factor; I really don’t want to go into some more Debbie downer crap. I’m sure that’s why some people stop going to meetings. If you have some smart, insightful ideas, then by all means, go for it, share those ideas with the group. If you’re struggling with an issue, spill the beans, but not in some 10 minute monologue where at the end of it you’re asking, “What was the question again? or what was the point of that?”.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Who says you can’t make Latin food healthy?

I went on a quest today to make my own Latin food, specifically Salvadoran, healthier.  We all know that fried food taste better, but shouldn’t there be more than one way to do things?

A few weeks ago I went into San Francisco and surprised MigL on a Chilean empanada quest.  I directed him to the most awesome little empanada place called Chile Lindo (beautiful Chile).  039

These delicious Empanadas de Pino are filled with ground beef, black olives, raisins, onions, cumin and hard boiled eggs.  Glazed with egg wash, they’re baked (and can be fried) in an oven until they’re golden brown.

I’m determined to recreate these in a couple of weeks and hopefully the turn out as well as I remember.

But I digress.  I know most of my culture’s food is fried.  However today I decided to try the unfried side of things.  There is a flower (which also happens to be a vegetable) in El Salvador called Flor de Izote that happens to be the national flower. Yes, we eat it – all of it including both the flower and bulb.  This vegetable is delicious.


The flavor is like nothing you’ve ever tasted.  It’s a tad bitter.  You eat both the flower and the But pop some egg whites in there and voila, you’ve got an incredibly low cal meal.  It’s only 10 calories for 1/4 cup!

008 Here’s the egg white wash beaten into submission until stiff peaks form and then the Izote mixture is added into the egg white and placed into the pan.


I did substitute the oil for some Pam and it still tasted equally delicious.  I still got that golden brown crust.  Yeah!


I paired the Flor de Izote with tomato sauce alongside some rice and steamed veggies.  Delish!


Pancake disaster

Today has probably been one of the most saddest, semi-disastrous breakfasts ever.

003 I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that I stopped by the grocery store, right?  I also picked up some pancake mix, because we were pretty much out and figured that it’ll last us a lot longer – one less fast food item we have to buy, right?

004 For some reason I felt a bit ambitious, mainly because Raley’s didn’t carry the Bisquick pancake mix I normally would have bought.  Hmph!  So I decided to grab a more healthier option for pancake mixes and picked up a box of Fiber One Buttermilk pancakes.  New product that can help increase my daily fiber intake?  Sure, why not.

I wasn’t impressed at all with this pancake mix.  I wish I’d stayed with my Bisquick mix.  I trust it.  It works.  It doesn’t stick.  It doesn’t make my life impossible.  I know that when I place the batter onto the griddle it will turn into perfectly golden-looking pancakes.  When the bubbles begin to pop out, I know that my batter will not be undercooked.  When I take a bite, my mouth melts.  They leave me with a “now THAT was good” happy feeling.

002 Instead when the bubbles began to come out the pancakes came out sticky, gooey and began to fall apart completely when I began to flip them over.  They looked awfully distorted and I began getting frustrated with this pancake mix.  They also tasted a bit dry.  I even decided to substitute the milk for water because I felt that would give it a better taste.  I’m so glad I did!  This was supposed to be a really nice Easter breakfast.  Well at least the scrambled eggs turned out as well as I expected them to, so breakfast wasn’t a complete flop.  I made sure to add some honey and strawberries for an extra kick of moisture and flavor.

Perhaps the next time I’ll try using this mix for waffles?  Now I just need to be creative and find ways to get rid of this stuff.

Anyone have any ideas?

Hope you have a Happy hoppity Easter!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Buy one, get one free

I got so excited when I stopped by the grocery store tonight and read that sign.  I’m being more frivolous with finances more than I’ve ever been before.  We’re on an abnormally tight budget, so when I see things that say buy one, get one free, that’s definitely a steal, especially when it comes to produce, specifically strawberries.  I normally don’t shop at Raley’s, but it’s the closest grocery store near my house, and in my opinion they’re probably a tad bit overrated on their prices.  I’d normally shop at Lucky, but that’s about 10 minutes away.  You be the judge – driving 2 minutes versus 10 for a quick grocery trip?  Plus I only needed to get a couple of essential things.

So yes, I was completely ecstatic when I saw the buy one get one free offer for strawberries at Raley’s.  It was unfortunately the best and only deal that I got during my shopping trip.  I had to pick up some juice, bananas and some pancake mix.  I also decided to pick up some plantains and re-create a recipe that my parents used to make.  I’ll be sure to post that when I make it.

I’ve come to the realization that I’ve bottled my feelings. Not to the extent of blowing up when everything’s up and over my head, thank goodness. Having said that, as of today I’ve started writing down my thoughts about how I’m really feeling about things that are going on in my life.  I need to feel the freedom to be raw.  In the past I used a journal, but that hasn’t seemed to work out very well.  I’ll write in it one day and the next thing you know an entire year has passed by.  Who knew?  It’s so interesting to read about what you’ve written when you’re going through at the time that it’s being written, forasmuch to laugh about the “major drama” that’s been going on.  Other times it’s a reflection about who you are as a person.

I feel like I’ve never been one to completely connect with people and I’ve disliked that part about myself and am determined to improve that.  This week it came to light that I have a disconnect with people.   As I unfolded and talked about it with MigL I was getting very upset at the way that I grew up.  I wish my parents could have done more to enhance my social skills.  I grew up as an only child and had a father who didn’t like to socialize; a mother who wanted to be more sociable, but because it was up to my father when and what time we left functions, she was never really able to truly connect with people.  And because my mom and I are very alike, I think I’ve inherited a bit of her personality.  I’ve sworn to be a better parent to my kids than mine were to me.  Growing up I felt like I never had an opinion of my own and didn’t come to that realization until I went to college.  I slowly started figuring out who I was in college, but I’ve really come to figure out who I really am and want to be since I graduated.  Ugh, so much to figure out and I sometimes hate growing up!  MigL and I got a good laugh out of the conversation – my social skills must be good enough to have at least gotten married!

Welcome to Socialization 101.

Don’t tick off a woman

"Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of...."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hooray for Easter weekend and a food revolution

I’m so glad for Easter weekend – not only because it’s the weekend, but because I had a day off from work today!  It was so relieving knowing I didn’t have to wake up at 6 a.m. and I didn’t have to be anywhere today.  I did attempt, however, go to Starbucks, specifically aiming to get their spinach and feta wrap, but the Starbucks near my house didn’t have a stove to be able to make them and so off I went to the next Starbucks in town.  When I got there they told me they’d run out.   What the heck?!  I’ve been craving the wrap probably about 6 months and haven’t had a chance to try them yet.  Whyyy!  So, I came home, made an egg-white in a mug dish, toasted an english muffin and had some sips of the Starbucks latte and still have an unopened container of the Greek yogurt and honey parfait sitting in my fridge, out of disappointment for the spinach wrap I was so desperately looking forward to.  I’m sure I’ll have some of the yogurt concoction for breakfast tomorrow.

I have been really touched recently in watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.  As I’ve watched each episode, I’m realizing more and more that our country has really become a fast food nation.  I acknowledged it before, but the concept never really sunk in as much as it has now.   Looking back at my childhood meals in school, they really did serve us processed food.  However, I don’t remember the other school kids being as overweight or obese as some of these kids in West Virginia.

Have we really become a workaholic nation?  Looking into my own life, I’ve been consumed by work, immediately heading to the gym for a workout and coming home, spending about an hour winding down before I go to bed.  This leaves me no virtual time for cooking.  I thought I was eating healthier – and in certain ways, I am.  However, before I went on my weight loss journey I did use to cook a lot more at home – because I had much more free time in my hands and didn’t work out at all.  But now that I have my schedule set, I unfortunately don’t have as much time as I used to, leaving MigL to pick up food for himself – mainly Taco Bell.

Shopping Basket Series I definitely want my kids to learn the names of fruits and vegetables.  I was  completely APALLED when Jamie asked one classroom full of kids to name some fruits and vegetables he was showing them.  They could not name a single one!  One kid thought tomatoes were potatoes; they had no clue where their favorite food, french fries, came from.  They could, however, quickly pick out chicken nuggets and pizza without thinking it twice.  Really, have we become that busy in our lives?  I know how easy it is to just pick up something at the grocery store from the frozen foods section and voila, 4 minutes in the microwave, it’s done.  Don’t get me wrong, I do that too.  Or it’s even more easy just to go through the drive-thru and pick something out from the menu without even getting out of the car.  But I think that companies should be thinking of ways to make some of their food healthier.  I really don’t need or want to eat something that has 20 grams or more of fat or has 1200 or more calories in something that’s devoured in less than 10 minutes, thank you.  How many more minutes of exercise will it take to burn that stuff off to maintain a healthy weight??  I hadn’t realized that chicken nuggets were made of the inedible leftovers from a chicken, mixed in with fat.  What I found a bit funny but sad, was when Jamie performed that experiment (and before he said that, he mentioned that it was fool-proof), the kids still ate that kind of garbage.  I guess we all eat what we know looks and is familiar and lean towards items that will leave us feeling happy even when we know what we’re eating is bad for us.

MigL and I have vowed to eat more home cooked meals and less take out; to really know what’s exactly in my food and know that I can eat a balanced meal that will fulfill not only my nutritional needs, but will leave me feeling satisfied and healthy.  And eating at home will definitely help us save more money.

Click here to start your own food revolution where you live and help improve school foods!  If you can’t help at a school, start by eating healthier foods and making better food choices at home.  I know it’s helped me become happier with myself and have noticed I have way more energy than I’ve ever had in my entire life!

Eat your vegetables!

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