Monday, April 30, 2012

Yes, I haven't posted anything here in a while now... BUT NO, I HAVE NOT FAILED AT MY DIETING / WEIGHT-LOSS PLAN!!

I've actually just been keeping myself busy by working out A LOT. I still haven't figured out how to balance time to exercise and time to really cook for myself. When I don't have a lot of extra time (like lately) there are foods that I tend to prepare that are simple, fast, and healthy, but I still haven't had time to post anything here. And I still eat out once in a while if I need something to eat and don't have time to stop at home. Today I had an In N Out protein-style burger with no spread for lunch and Pho with reduced fat broth and I tried to avoid eating the noodles.... I know terrible, but at least I was a little careful with what I ordered. Usually I'll go for a salad when I eat out, but today I wasn't really feeling salad. Most of the salads at restaurants near by me today had way too much sugar in their dressings so I wasn't feeling that. Anyways.... I still have to learn how to balance all of this, but for now I'm doing pretty well and getting really strong!! Time to sleep :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Look what I found!!!!

Look what I found!!! South Beach Safe Soymilk!!!! I really shouldn't be THIS excited about it, but I am for some reason...

It's low-fat vanilla soymilk that is sweetened with Spenda instead of sugar. I'm slightly lactose intolerant, so I normally try to consume non-dairy beverages like soymilk, almond milk, rice milk, etc instead of regular milk. But now I can't have rice milk because of the low-carb thing, I can't have vanilla soymilk because it's always sweetened with sugar, and plain unsweetened soymilk really just tastes terrible. I've been resorting to using unsweetened vanilla almond milk because it still tastes good without added sugar, but I don't want to have it too much because it has a little more fat in it since it's made from almonds. And I just like the flavor of vanilla soymilk better anyways. Since this Soy Slender brand soymilk, is sugar-free I can drink vanilla soymilk again!!! Woohoo!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Trader Joe's trip!

Mostly all I've had in my fridge lately is lettuce, veggies that need to be cooked, and frozen chicken/fish that needs to be thawed then cooked, so I needed more foods that require quick prep and some healthy snacks. Of course, that means a Trader Joe's trip! Here's what I bought (and why):

- sugar snap peas: yummy, healthy snack with a satisfying crunch; probably one of my favorite veggies to dip into hummus
- hummus: for a snack with the sugar snap peas, of course =P ; also sometimes I will mix this with a little lemon juice and olive oil to thin it out and use as a protein-rich salad dressing
- kale: an awesome superfood!! for soups, sautees, massaged kale salads, and KALE CHIPS (my boyfriend's fav right now haha)! I like to buy it in the pre-chopped in the bag like this, so we can quickly toss it in olive oil and salt then throw it on a baking pan to quickly make some kale chips
- brussel sprouts: have lots of fiber and vitamins and taste AMAZING when roasted
- canned marinara sauce: just to have on hand to add to veggies, fish, or other meats I may be cooking
- sundried tomatoes: pretty much same as above... just to have on hand to add flavor to something I might be already cooking... it's important to me that my food still tastes really good or I wouldn't be able to keep this up!
- goat cheese with kalamata olives: definitely broke my rules on buying this.... because it's not reduced-fat.... but I LOVE goat cheese and I LOVE kalamata olives, so I thought I'd give it a try. I just need to make sure to eat very little at a time. I'll probably throw little chunks of this in to my salads.
- chicken sausages (I bought a pack each of spicy italian and andouille): this is just to add flavor and some lean protein to something I may already be cooking. I'm planning to stick to only using half a sausage chopped up per serving of whatever food I add it to
- steamed lentils: already cooked and ready to go! I love these lentils because of their texture - they stay more in whole pieces compared to when you cook them yourself. plus they are rich in protein, fiber, and vitamins. one of my favorite ways to eat this is to sautee it with garlic, onion, cumin, and cayenne then top with fresh cilantro - tastes kind of like ground taco meat!
- plain non-fat greek yogurt: I use this in place of mayo for tuna, egg, chicken salads, etc. or I just eat it plain (sometimes with a little splenda) for breakfast or a snack. I bought a few of the smaller sizes with added fiber, so I can take it to work and feel satisfied for longer.
- lemon pepper grinder: just because that stuff is awesome
- artichokes: one of my weaknesses... LOVE anything with artichokes.
- red wine vinegar: for salads
- peanut butter: all natural with no added sugar or weird ingredients... be careful when buying peanut butter!! most have a bunch of sugar in it!!! I honestly bought this JUST for making flourless peanut butter cookies... lol. I still need something to satisfy my sweet tooth! when I get to phase 2 and reintroduce fruits, I like to mix a little bit of peanut butter with some plain nonfat yogurt, vanilla extract, and a little splenda to make a peanut butter dipping sauce for apples. you still get lots of yummy peanut butter flavor, but not as much fat and calories compared to apples with straight peanut butter.
- pork florentine (frozen): bought this for nights when I don't feel like doing too much cooking. it's pork tenderloin stuffed with spinach, tomatoes, and a little cheese. it's not THE BEST thing to eat, but it's something that's still decent that I can leave in my freezer until I have a night where I want a meal with little effort. you pretty much just throw it in the oven - I think I remember it takes about 45 minutes to cook.
- canned salmon: bought this so I have some protein that I can easily just open up and throw on salads. I was also thinking of making a salmon salad type of thing (by adding plain greek yogurt, lemon zest, capers, and dill) then using that in lettuce wraps.
- low carb dark chocolate with almonds: to satisfy my serious chocolate cravings! this is still probably not the best thing to buy, but I know myself... and if I can't have at least a little bit of chocolate when I have a craving, I'm doomed... instead of sugar, it's sweetened with sugar alcohols - which are OK for South Beach Diet as long as you limit yourself to 75-100 calories per day. the biggest problem I have with these is limiting myself to just 2 little squares of chocolate (there's 12 squares per bar).
2 squares have 73 calories, 6 g of fat, and less than 2 g of net impact carbs.
- seaweed snacks!!!: in wasabi and plain flavor. LOVE these for when I just crave something salty with a satisfying crunch. there are 2 servings per pack and each serving is only 30 calories.

So that's it!! I usually go to Trader Joe's for more snacks or food that's fast to prepare. I get most of my produce from Sprout's and most of my fish and meat from Costco. I pretty much do all of my grocery shopping at these three places - I LOVE all three of them and luckily they are all close to or on my way home from work. Anyways, I just thought I'd post some yummy and South-Beach-Diet-phase-1-friendly foods that are good ideas to buy. Thanks for reading! :D

Sunday, April 8, 2012

More fish.... My Mom's Grilled Pompano

You may have noticed my last several posts all involved fish. You might think this was all because of Lent, but nope... I just really love fish.

This pompano, however, WAS for a Friday night meal during Lent. This is actually my mom's cooking, but I love it. In the last several months this has become one of my favorite things she makes.

She stuffs whole Pompano (scaled and gutted, of course) with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and green onion then grills it on the barbecue until fish is cooked through and the skin is crispy and lightly charred.

Pompano already a pretty yummy fish, but what really makes this amazing is the dipping sauce my mom makes. I think it might be somewhat of a secret recipe of hers because every time I've asked her what is in it, she doesn't really seem to talk much. And when I tried to make it myself with what she told me, it didn't taste the same :( - it was still good, just not the same as hers. She told me it's a mixture of soy sauce, fresh calamansi juice (Filipino citrus fruit), fish sauce, fresh cilantro, green onions, and chopped tomato.

MMMMMMM I seriously LOVE this fish. I'm craving it now.... Flavorful fish with DELICIOUS crispy skin dipped in that awesome sauce... YUM YUM YUMMMMM I'M SO HUNGRY NOW. I hope she keeps making this often even though Lent is over - or at least REALLY teaches me how to make it :P

Simple Sole Fish with Beans Baked in Garlic and Wine

Another simple recipe made with things I happened to have in my fridge...

 Sole Fish with Beans

- whole sole fish, scales and guts removed
- dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
- several cloves smashed garlic (adjust depending on your taste)
- canned chopped tomatoes
- canned white kidney beans, rinsed
- green beans (I really have no idea what kind of beans I used... I know they're not exactly green beans, but I don't know what they were called... they were frozen from Trader Joe's, in a pack with both green and yellow beans, and are pretty wide sized beans)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Marinate whole fish in wine and several cloves of smashed garlic (I marinated for about an hour).
3. Place whole fish and all of marinade in a deep dish baking pan.
4. Lightly salt and pepper the fish.
5. Arrange the white kidney beans and green beans (or whatever kind of beans they are) around the fish.
6. Arrange canned chopped tomatoes on top of the sole fish.
7. Pour a little more wine into the baking dish so all of the fish and beans are sitting in a shallow pool of wine.
8. Salt and peper the whole dish and lightly drizzle with olive oil.
9. Bake until the center of the fish flakes easily.
10. Eat! Scoop out a little bit of fish, a little bit of the beans, and a lot of the yummy sauce from the bottom of the dish :)

This was one of those dishes that I surprised myself with. I just made it with things I already had and didn't expect it to taste that amazing, but it was pretty good. I had it with a grilled vegetable salad I had made a few days before - grilled eggplant, grilled zucchinis, grilled bell peppers, grilled tomatoes, lots of chopped fresh parsley and mint, a little fresh cilantro and oregano, red chili flakes, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Quick & simple, healthy meal: Blackened Hake Fillet with Seasoned Italian Squash

I used to make quick, simple, and delicious meals like this all the time in college. But for some reason, in the past few years I've started trying to get all complicated with my cooking. But a lot of times, simple meals made on a whim are the best - quick to cook, less cleanup, more time to relax, and still tasty food.

This was a simple meal I made with things I found in my fridge. My mom and I almost always buy frozen Hake fillets from Costco. They aren't the most tasty fish... just a pretty plain, white fish... but they're cheap (under $10 for a large bag of frozen and individually wrapped fillets at Costco; sometimes they have a coupon and it's around $7), have very low levels of mercury, easy to always have in stock (because they are frozen), and Costco always has good quality products. I blackened the fish (blackened as in the method of cooking rather than the typical spice blend) then lightly sauteed some seasoned squash in the same pan to pick up some of the flavor - plus easy clean-up. For some freshness, I topped the squash with fresh cilantro and the fish with pico de gallo salsa I found in my fridge (my mom makes AWESOME pico de gallo). Dinner done in about 10 minutes!! You can tell this was a fast meal because there's actual sunlight in the picture. I usually get home from work so late because of working extra and of a long commute.... then on top of that, long prep/cooking time = eating dinner late and dark, bad quality pictures (and these are all pics from my iPhone, so they already aren't the best).

Blackened Hake Fillet with Seasoned Italian Squash (serves 1)

- 1 hake fillet, thawed (or any simple, white fish)
- chili powder
- 1 yellow italian squash or zucchini, sliced
- taco seasoning blend (check for no sugar in the ingredients)
- a few stems of fresh cilantro, chopped roughly
- pico de gallo salsa
- olive oil
- butter (I used Earth Balance buttery spread with Olive Oil for a healthy option that still has the buttery flavor)
- salt

1. Dry the hake fillet thoroughly with a paper towel. It is important to dry the fish, so you get a nice browned crust on the outside of the fish.
2. Season both sides of the fish with a little bit of salt and a generous sprinkling of chili powder. After sprinkling, press the seasoning in to the fish with your hands to make sure they stick well.
3. Heat a heavy, cast iron skillet to medium-high.
4. When hot, add a light drizzle of olive oil and a pat of butter. Move the pan around so that the melted butter and oil mix together and coat the pan evenly.
5. Put the fish fillet in the pan and cook until each side has a nice, dark-brown crust and the thickest part of the fish flakes easily. Remove from pan and set on a plate.
6. Add a little more olive oil in the pan and throw in the squash.
7. Season with store-bought taco seasoning and salt (if salt is not already an ingredient in the taco seasoning blend).
8. Sautee until squash is just barely soft, remove from pan, and add to your plate.
9. Top the squash with cilantro and the fish with pico de gallo.

Grilled Squid with Thai-style Dipping Sauce

OF COURSE I failed at posting in here... I've taken so many photos of meals I've cooked in the past few weeks meaning to post them here.... I was going through them today and honestly forgot what was in a lot of them... Oh well... We'll see what I can do...

I'm rarely ever home, so I never have time to sit down at my computer. I've downloaded the Blogger app on my phone, so I can try to keep up with this and do quick posts on the go :P

Anyways, here is one of the AWESOME dishes that I do remember. I remember everything that was in it because it tasted amazing and was so simple. My boyfriend came home with a GIANT squid to cook for dinner. Honestly, I was kind of scared of it.... So he gutted it for me and we sliced off the tentacles and cut the body into rings. I think this could also be done with smaller squid, but the large, meaty, giant squid did taste pretty good. :) We went for Thai flavors and served it with a dipping sauce similar to the flavors in Thai larb.

Grilled Squid with Thai-style Dipping Sauce

- squid
- dry vermouth (or white wine)
- fresh ginger
- fresh lime juice
- fish sauce (Thai fish sauce would be best)
- splenda
- serrano chili (or Thai chili would be better, I just had serrano already)
- cilantro

1. Marinate sliced squid in vermouth (or white wine) and 1/2 to 1 inch of chopped ginger, depending on how much you like ginger - I love a lot. I marinated it for less than an hour.
2. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Squeeze lime juice and mix with several dashes of fish sauce, a light sprinking of Splenda, 1/2 of a thinly sliced serrano chili, and a few leaves worth of chopped cilantro. This can all be adjusted to taste. If you want more saltiness or savory flavor, add more fish sauce. If it needs more freshness or something to cut the flavor, add more lime juice. This came out very, spicy - and I have a pretty good tolerance for really spicy food - so if you have a normal person's tolerance for heat maybe only use 1/3 or 1/4 of the serrano chili. If you know you have a weaker spiciness tolerance, then maybe only put a one or two thin slices of the chili.
3. Let the sauce sit in the fridge while you cook the squid to allow the flavors to come out.
4. The squid is cooked simply and in a healthy way - GRILLED! Make sure to stand next to the squid and check often for doneness while you grill. Squid cooks quickly and overcooked, chewy squid is probably one of the worst things ever...
5. EAT! Dip grilled squid in the sauce, so you get a very thin coating - the flavors are very strong, so you really don't need anything thick.

Since I actually have some free time today, I'll post a few other things that I can remember a little bit about  :) but this squid was definitely the most memorable.