Monthly Archives: May 2013

That One Time I Went To Paradise…

Guess who’s back!

It’s been about 2 weeks since I’ve posted anything at all.  Thanks for the concern, but no… I didn’t get kidnapped or go into witness protection.  I went to Hawaii.IMG_1351I work for a TV show, and my bosses actually paid me real money to help shoot on location for a few days.  It was gorgeous.  It was warm.  It was scenic.  I’d like to say I got a chance to enjoy the beach, but I’m pretty sure I came back with less of a tan than I had when I arrived.  That’s because this is where I spent most of my time.  A tiny conference room with no windows.  Say hi to my coworker Melissa!

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Most days, we were so busy, we’d have to decide whether to eat or sleep.  Luckily, I didn’t mind losing a few winks over good food.  And… full disclosure… I went full-on carnivore on this trip.  Anthony Bourdain says he admires vegetarians and vegans who are willing to put their routines aside as they travel to be more respectful to their hosts.  I say when you’re in a place you’ve never been before, all bets are off!  Food is part of the experience!  My body is still recovering from the incredible ribs I had on the first night.  Here are a few of the other things I ate while work-cationing in Oahu:

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My daily continental breakfast courtesy the Hilton Hawaiian Village: Fresh fruit, a little guava juice, some of the awesomest coffee I’ve ever had at a hotel, and oatmeal with toasted coconut, raisins, walnuts, and tropical marmalade!

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THIS MONSTROSITY!  Take a minute.  Soak it in.  This is a lobster dog.  Sausage made from lobster.  Real lobster.  I regret to say I choked half of one down during a short break in taping.  I didn’t get a chance to really savor it, but I’ve been dreaming about it ever since.  In case you were wondering, it came from Hank’s Haute Dogs in Waikiki.  The owner, Henry Adaniya, left Chicago and an illustrious culinary career to start a hot dog joint in Hawaii where his parents were born.  We featured him on the show.  He might be one of the most laid back, interesting people I’ve ever met.  GO TO OAHU.  GO TO HIM.  ORDER A LOBSTER DOG.

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One night, I actually had time to eat a real dinner, so my afore-mentioned coworker Melissa and I spent as much of the company’s money as we possibly could on cocktails, raw oysters, and sushi.  We didn’t realize until after we were back at the hotel that we were at Morimoto’s place.  The guy from Iron Chef?  Yeah.  Had no idea.  But I did pay $14 for one piece of sashimi!  Great success!

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And finally, a tasty souvenir for my buddy Dexter.  Pineapple doggie biscuits!

Oh, and remember how I was doing the whole Bob Harper Jumpstart to Skinny thing before the trip?  I ended up losing a total of 6.2 pounds… and I gained back almost 4.5 of them in just two weeks while I was on the road.  WHOOPISE!  Not sorry.  I’d never take back those ribs.  Or that lobster dog.  Besides, it’s probably just water weight, right?

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Recipe: Crunchy Green Bean “Fries”

There’s nothing wrong with an order of fries now and then.  Sweet potato fries are my kryptonite… Jesus Lord in Heaven.  When the craving for something crispy, starchy and fried strikes, it’s hard to ignore.  However, if you’re looking to stay on the lower calorie side, these green bean “fries” just might hit the spot.  They mimic the french fry experience, because they’re basically the same shape… and the salty, carb-y coating is really more satisfying than I expected.  The best part?  No self-control required.  The entire batch is only about 400 calories.  If you’re a dipper like me, make sure you take into account the calorie content of your condiments.  They can sneak up on you!

Crunchy Green Bean “Fries”

Serves 2-3

GREEN BEANS

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, washed & trimmed
  • 1/2 c. bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

  1. Toss green beans with olive oil in a large bowl until evenly coated.
  2. Dip each green bean in the bread crumbs.
  3. Arrange coated green beans on a baking sheet so that they don’t touch.  This will help them crisp up a little.
  4. Cool slightly before serving.  They’re tasty paired with everything from ketchup to Sriracha mayo to teriyaki sauce.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy belated Mother’s Day, all you hot mamas!  How’d you spend the day?

I trekked back to Ohio and spent a spectacular afternoon with my mommy, my 92-year-old grandmother, my “little” brother, and my beautiful baby niece!  The day couldn’t have been more perfect.  We drove down to see the Cincinnati Reds play the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park.  My brother and I were raised on this team, but this was baby’s first baseball game.  Thanks to a few gentle suggestions, we had her saying “Go Reds!” from the outfield.  How adorable are those hand-made-by-grandma hair bows?!

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During the car ride, there were three generations of women in the backseat.  Grandma kept the baby busy with a book.

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Before the game, we went totally wild with a pub-style lunch.  Fresh brews, burgers and pretzel bread with beer cheese!  I had the Greek flatbread pizza with kalamata olives and goat cheese.  YUM.

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I packed some healthy snacks for the stands… and the Reds won in a blow out!

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On Sunday, I had to say goodbye to Dexter for a while because I’ll be traveling and he’ll need to eat while I’m gone.  Mom is doing the babysitting, and she’s the cool one with a yard.  Does he even look a little bit sad?  I think he’s faking it.

DEXTERHope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day!  Go, Moms, Go!

Recipe: Better Than Bob’s Eggplant Chili

Update!  I’ve survived 2 whole weeks on Bob Harper’s Jumpstart To Skinny plan!

BOB HARPER JUMPSTART

I outlined the basics about a week ago HERE.  It’s a 3 week diet aimed at getting you to a better body fast before a big event, or to “jumpstart” a longer weight loss journey.  My big event happens to be a work trip to Hawaii (I’m serious).  800 calories a day for women.  12oo for men.  It’s temporary, yes… but that kinda of starvation takes some getting used to.  I’ve remained mostly on track, minus a premeditated trip to my favorite sushi buffet last Saturday.  I don’t even feel guilty.  There was mackerel.

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The Jumpstart To Skinny plan never really tells you how much weight you should expect to lose, which I actually appreciate.  Everyone’s different.  Heavier people will lose more.  Fitter people will lose less.  That’s just how our bodies work.  In 2 weeks, I’m down almost 5 pounds, and I’m totally thrilled.  I feel lighter, my clothes fit better, and I could be hallucinating… but I think I see an ab or two trying to come up for air.

I will say that I’m not following the diet exactly the way Bob outlines it in the book.  I’m not taking fish oil.  I’m not, for the most part, working out in the morning.  I’m not drinking espresso first thing out of bed.  I have, however, stopped pretending like coffee with sugar-free creamer and stevia isn’t important to me.  It just is.  Yes, the creamer is artificial.  No, it’s not accounted for in the daily calorie limit.  I don’t care.  It makes me happy.  Just like that sushi buffet did.

The plan has gotten a lot easier as the days press on, mostly because I’ve been repeating recipes that I like and finding ways to make them actually taste good.  In my last post about Jumpstart To Skinny, you’ll remember that I mentioned that Bob’s recipes are bland.  Total understatement, so I decided to get creative with his Eggplant Chili dinner recipe.  First, I’ll post Bob’s version.  Then, I’ll post mine.  It’s 100 times tastier, and the changes do not compromise the rules of the diet.

Eggplant Chili (Bob’s Recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 c. diced eggplant
  • 4 oz. lean ground turkey breast
  • 1 c. roasted tomatoes
  • 1 c. low sodium veggie broth
  • 3 c. finely chopped fresh spinach
  • cracked black pepper (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and the eggplant and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the turkey and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the meat, until browned.
  3. Add the tomatoes and broth and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.
  5. Turn off the heat, add black pepper if desired, stir in the cilantro and serve

Nutritional Info:

279 calories, 24g protein, 23g carbs, 7g fat, 7 grams fiber.

Okay, time for my version!  Before we move on, it’s important to note that all the meals in the Jumpstart to Skinny book adhere to a strict 40/40/20 rule.  That’s 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 20% fat.  I’ve taken some things away, but added other nutritionally similar ingredients I think are a better use of the calories (i.e. they taste better).  I’ve also replaced the turkey with canned tuna.  I know.  Sounds gross.  But that’s only because I’m a sometimes fish eater and not a meat eater.  Tuna, I decided, was a better idea than tofu.  It tastes better than it sounds, I promise.  Oh, and one more thing.  All of the veggies in this recipe are UNLIMITED, so go crazy!  I added as many as humanly possible while still keeping a chili-like consistency.

This version makes four pretty large 3 cup servings, so you can make a big pot and eat it all week.

Eggplant Chili (The Hungry Tortoise Version)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 whole eggplants, peeled and diced
  • 2 zucchinis, sliced
  • 2 c. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 c. spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1 c. low sodium veggie broth
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (I used 28 oz.)
  • 2 cans of chunk light tuna, water packed
  • Garnish: green onion, plain non-fat greek yogurt, avocado

Directions:

  1. Add garlic, eggplant, and a little bit of the veggie broth to a large pot, stirring frequently over medium heat.  Cook until tender.
  2. Add the zucchinis and mushrooms.  Again, cook until tender.
  3. Add the rest of the veggie broth, the entire can of crushed tomatoes, the spices and the tuna/choice of lean protein.  Stir and simmer until heated.
  4. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted.
  5. Divide batch into 4 servings, about three cups each.  Garnish each with exactly 1/4 of an avocado, a dollop or greek yogurt, and as much green onion as you want.

Because we’re not using olive oil, we can have the avocado.  Because the protein is spread out over more servings, we can add a little extra with the greek yogurt.  Tomatoes are on the list of unlimited veggies, and the crushed variety adds to the heartiness of the meal.  The spices, in my opinion, are an obvious addition.  This is a low-calorie dinner I actually look forward to… and it keeps me full!

Do you have any healthy tricks up your sleeve to make bland foods taste better?  Let me know!  Comment in the section below or e-mail me at thehungrytortoise@gmail.com.

Daily Dexter

The dog is officially SEVEN!  The very happy Cinco de Mayo birthday was spent on the beach.  OLE!

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Music Monday: Mother’s Day Edition

There may be other Mother’s Day songs, but I think we can all agree that this is the only one that really matters.

Friday Favorite: MAC Studio Finish Concealer

Make-up favorites?  I have too many to count.  But this is something I’ve bought time and time again.  It’s always in my bag, and it’s never let me down.  Studio Finish Concealer by the masters of make-up… MAC!

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In my opinion, the consistency is perfect.  It’s creamy but lightweight, so it provides a great medium-level coverage without looking like spackle.  I routinely use a little around my nose and on my chin.  It also works great to cover blemishes and dark spots.  For maximum camo, I’ll dab a little on, dust the spot with translucent powder, then apply a second thin layer of concealer.  It’s like a magic wand.  For reals.

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Ready for the bonus?  MAC’s Studio Finish Concealer contains SPF 35!  One pot is $18, but mine lasts me almost an entire year.  Worth it.

There are 15 shades to choose from.  If you’re not sure what color to order, find a MAC store near you, and ask for help.  You’ll thank me later.  Or maybe you won’t, because you’ll probably leave the store with way more than you meant to.  I mean, isn’t their make-up just the best!?  Bright pigments.  Professional quality.  SWOON.

Do you have a go-to brand or product when it comes to beauty?  Let me know in the comments section below, or e-mail at thehungrytortoise@gmail.com  I’m always listening!

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