Tag Archives: budget

The Trouble With Food Tracking and My Wish List

I learned a valuable lesson today. It’s a lesson I’ve been forced to learn about 187391092779 times over, and I hope this time the true meaning will stick in my mind so that I’ll quit making the same mistakes.

If you are monitoring your food intake, ALWAYS TRACK YOUR MEALS.

I know, it seems obvious. It is obvious. It’s also the cornerstone of the Weight Watchers philosophy. But I am the laziest tracker in the history of the world. I spent the month of March being really lazy about my tracking habits- partially because I was fasting, and partially because I’m just really freaking lazy. As a result, when I stepped on the scale two weeks ago, I wasn’t very surprised to be pissed off by the number it gave me. However, I was a little surprised to be even more upset by the number I saw last week. In my defense, I was on my period and I always weigh really heavy when I’m menstruating. But I also didn’t track very well last week. I always start the week strong, and then I taper off toward the middle of the week. When I stop tracking, it becomes infinitely easier to impulsively eat the foods which sabotage me and my goals.

This week, however, I really focused on my tracking- even when I didn’t feel like it. And I saw definite results on the scale this morning. I need to maintain this momentum- sometimes tracking my food is just such a F-ing hassle. But I have to remember that the long term goals are worth the extra five minutes of effort.

In other news, I’ve been accumulating a wish list of items which will improve my blogging/cooking/athletic life. While the list grows steadily every day, there are a couple of items that are really key:

canon rebel1. New Camera- I love my camera. I really do. It’s small, and I can take it everywhere. But I need to get serious about my photography, especially in regard to my blogging. I mean, I’m well aware that a fancy camera does not create great photos- there’s no substitute for good lighting and composition. But I want the quality of my photography to increase, and I don’t want to invest more money in another point and shoot when I’m pleased with the point and shoot I’m using. I need to upgrade to dslr. My ideal model is the Canon Rebel– of course, it’s really expensive. I’m looking for a used canon, and I’m actually looking primarily at older models. I spend quite a bit of time scouring ebay for viable options. At this point, it’s just a little too far out of my financial grasp. But I’m hopeful- if you know anyone who is upgrading to another model and wants to get rid of their dslr, let me know!

garmin heart rate monitor2. Heart Rate Monitor: I think I need to be monitoring my activity level more vigilantly and I think a heart rate monitor will really help with this goal. I’d like to kn0w exactly how many calories I’m burning while exercising and I’d like to get more precise heart rate calculations. This will help me determine how I should be increasing/decreasing my exercise levels, especially as I reach weight plateaus and finish couch to 5k. At this point I’m battling between a garmin and a polar– price is an obvious factor, but I’m still just trying to decide between the two brands. As always, I’m really open to any insight you guys might have.

running shoe fitting guides3. Running Shoes: I actually already talked about this, but it’s become a true necessity. I don’t know how I’ll make it through the summer running season (especially since I definitely plan to run/race when I’m in Boston) wearing the shoes I have right now. These are great sneaks for general exercise, but I need to take better care of my tootsie wootsies if I’m going to keep up this hobby. I’ve received some great running shoe store recommendations in both GSO and Winston-Salem, but I still can’t quite decide between Fleet Feet and Off’N Running. In fact, I might have to get fitted after Saturday’s race– but maybe I’m being too impulsive. Thoughts?

citrus reamer4. Citrus Reamer: Self-explanatory. I bite my nails, and citrus juice+ bitten cuticles= LAME.

All this talk about running has made me pretty pumped about my run tonight. It’s weird how I’m sort of starting to like it.

…I hope I didn’t speak too soon. Smile

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Filed under blogging, body issues, couch to 5k challenge, exercise, food, goals, money honey, races, running, shopping, weigh-in, Weight Watchers

Eating as a Non-Vegetarian- Lime and Garlic Marinated Porkchops with Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

Ok, I admit it: I like meat.

I don’t eat it very much. In fact, I eat it pretty infrequently. I rarely purchase it.

But I like it. I like the way it tastes. And there are very few photos of piglets that will make me feel guilty about enjoying a slice of bacon.

However, what I can’t come to terms with is what happened to the meat before its arrival at my dinner table. It arrives after inhumane mammalian brutality, hundreds (if not thousands) of travel miles, and undocumented harm to food workers.

All because I wanted a slice of bacon.

Yeah…that’s not ok.

I’m reaching a point in my life where I can’t bear to purchase meat that’s been produced in ways I can’t stomach. I mean, my ancestors ate meat- but the meat they ate is not the meat I buy at my local grocery store.

As regular readers of this blog know, I can pontificate on this topic for pages and pages. But all I really need to say is that in order for me to eat meat, I need to be prepared to find meat that was harvested from animals who were raised humanely.

Yes, it will be expensive. But that’s the price of being an omnivore in the 21st century first world.

ANYWAY, since yesterday was the most beautiful day ever (seriously, anyone who wasn’t in the North Carolina triad yesterday missed out on a gorgeous Southern spring day), I decided to make my girlfriend a spring-y dinner of pork chops and quinoa.

So where does an ecologically conscious Winston-Salem resident go when they want fresh meat?

Whole Foods Market, of course.

Whole Foods has a remarkable devotion to the sale of sustainably produced food items AND (probably most importantly) to crafting and maintaining solid relationships with farmers and ranchers. Since the food chain from farmer to consumer grows with every congressional bill and ‘science innovation’, it is more important than ever for us to support companies who strive to cut out the millions of middle men who get in the way of Americans eating food which doesn’t go against the evolution of our bodies.

As far as meat sales go, Whole Foods adheres to the stringent guidelines of the Animal Welfare Rating Standards, which are produced by the Global Animal Partnership. Basically, they have a 5 step standards list which details the requirements for a livestock animal’s living conditions. It looks like this:

Step 1: No crowding
Step 2: Enriched environment
Step 4: Pasture centered
Step 5: Animal centered: No physical alterations
Step 5+: Animal Centered: Entire life on same farm

As you probably noticed, there’s no step 3 for cattle. There are separate charts for poultry and pigs. And at Whole Foods, all the meat options are labeled with the number which corresponds to this chart. It’s another way of letting you know where your food came from.

Since I was making pork chops, here are the five steps I looked at:

Step 1: No crates, stalls or cages
Step 2: Enriched environment
Step 3: Enhanced outdoor access
Step 4: Pasture centered
Step 5: Animal centered: No physical alterations
Step 5+: Animal Centered: Entire life on same farm

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I ended up buying some very pretty chops from a local farm with a 4 rating. There were other options, but the fact that the meat came from a nearby farm means that the journey from farm to table was very short, and it insures the freshest ingredients possible.

It does not, however, insure the cheapest price.

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But here’s the thing- I can’t pretend to not know what I know about factory farming. And if I want to eat meat in spite of that knowledge, I need to be prepared to pay the price.

Plus, the flavor of this finished dinner was more than worth the money. I’m not a huge fan of lime and/or cilantro, but both of those flavors keep popping up in my recipes recently. I’m blaming it on Chipotle– I mean, who doesn’t love their cilantro-lime rice? But instead of making rice, I decided to try out the same flavor combo with quinoa. I’d say it was a success- Kate basically licked her plate clean.

(Ok, so she didn’t lick it clean. But she probably wanted to lick it clean.)

Both of these recipes are unbelievably simple, and can be whipped up very quickly. They can be served together, or paired with other dishes. For example, substituting cilanto-lime quinoa in a homemade Chipotle burrito bowl is a healthier option than eating mounds of fluffy white rice.

(I mean, don’t get me wrong- I LOVE fluffy white rice. But quinoa is just as delicious, and packs an unbeatable nutritional punch.)

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Lime and Garlic Marinated Pork Chops

(Adapted from Gina’s Skinny Recipes)

Yield: 2-4 servings (depending upon size of pork chops)

Ingredients:

4 (6 oz) lean boneless pork chops ( for the record, I made this recipe using 2 super thick bone-in chops, and the proportions still worked perfectly)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1/2 lime, juice of

lime zest

salt and fresh pepper

1. Trim off extra pork fat.

Basically, go from here:

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To Here:

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2. In a large bowl season pork with garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Squeeze lime juice and some zest from the lime and let it marinade at least 20 minutes.

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I always recommend long marinade times, but if you need to make this in a hurry, 20 minutes should get the job done. I had to whip up this meal pretty quickly, and I think 20 minutes was long enough to get a good flavor infusion.


3. Line broiler pan with foil for easy clean up. Place pork chops on the broiler pan and broil about 4-6 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.

While that’s cooking…

Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup dry quinoa

1 1/4 cup Water

1 lime, juice of

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1. Follow my instructions for fool-proof quinoa.

2. While quinoa is cooking, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, and remaining oil in a medium bowl and toss until completely mixed. When quinoa is finished cooking, add it to cilantro-lime mixture and toss until coated.

Bam, dinner is served.

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Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you: Kate and I also ate French fries with our dinner. But those French fries are extra special, and will be reviewed in a separate post. However, just for the record, they were absolutely delicious. Smile

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Food, Inc., Corporate Farming, Online Farmer’s Markets, and Backyard Produce- An Exercise in American Consumerism

Last weekend- remember  when I went on a pilgrimage to Charlotte and lost my mind at Trader Joe’s? Remember when I mentioned that I didn’t buy very much produce, but that the reason would be explained in the future?

Well, the reason is about to be revealed- but first, let me give a little back story.

(STOP: By reading below this disclaimer, you are allowing yourself to read a stream of conscious and potentially nonsensical rant. You were warned.)

I don’t know how clearly I can state this- I am a cheapskate. I hate paying more money than is absolutely necessary. It’s not just because I hate spending money- it’s because I don’t have a lot of money to spend. There’s never been a point in my life when I haven’t been on a very restrictive budget.

One of the biggest problems with the Western food industry is that it is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive to eat whole foods than it is to eat processed foods, from potato chips to factory farmed “Idaho Potatoes”. I’ve spent the past three years actively trying to resolve my budget issues with a healthy balance of organically produced food and cheaper options. Up until about four months ago, I thought I’d finally struck the perfect balance.

That was before I saw this:

food, inc

If you are able, rent/buy this film. It’s on netflix instant right now- when you are done reading this entry, WATCH IT*. As one of my friend’s recently said, Food, Inc. should be broadcast on CNN 24/7. EVERYONE needs to see this film.” I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told to watch Food, Inc. who’ve told me that they’ve held off on watching it because they don’t want to feel guilty about or grossed out by their eating habits (i.e.- they will feel guilty about eating meat). I understand this dilemma. But here’s the thing- the movie does not seek to shame anyone. It is not very visually graphic. It doesn’t promote vegetarianism, or any specific diet. It puts the food industry into colors so vivid that you can’t help but wonder why we’ve become so complacent in our food choices.

Here’s the truth- if you didn’t buy your food directly from a farmer, you probably have absolutely no idea where it came from and you CERTAINLY don’t know what’s in it. I’m not just talking about the center aisles of your grocery store- you know, “foods” that come in boxes, or that arrive to your store frozen. I’m talking about the “healthy” fruits and vegetables, the dairy products, and every piece of “fresh” meat and fish homogenously wrapped in plastic for your enjoyment. There is a deliberate veil between food manufacturers and food consumers, and when you start looking behind the curtain you’ll be repulsed by what you see. It’s not just about the literal ingredients of your food- this film exposes all of the unseen costs of producing the food you eat, from distorted food laws and travel costs, to the horrific exploitation of ALL food industry workers. We’re not just talking about exploitation in other countries- the things happening to our American brothers and sisters (hell, our NORTH CAROLINA brothers and sisters) will make your head spin.

And we support them. Every time we go to the grocery store or a restaurant, we support corporations which deliberately try to mislead us. Every time you buy fruits and vegetables produced in far-reaching parts of the globe (which is more than often the case), you are directly furthering deep set afflictions between farmers, workers, governments, and the international oil industry. It is important that, as consumers, we make ourselves aware of the real decisions we’re making, and change our actions in order to affect a balanced economy and work-force.

The balance I struck in my personal eating/buying habits was not where it should be. I was perfectly happy purchasing food that wasn’t produced in an ethical fashion simply because it made my wallet feel less pain. However, the source of pain I feel now has much less to do with money and more to do with the power of my individual dollar. It is much more important for me, as a tax-paying American consumer,  to buy foods which do not support unhealthy corporate farming, which are organically produced, and (whenever possible) support my local economy. In my opinion, this is the most important decision I can make as a consumer. I know how easy it is to say, “I can’t afford to do this” or “I can’t afford to do that”. And it’s true- there are millions of Americans who simply can not afford to make the necessary changes to their lifestyles. BUT I AM NOT ONE OF THEM. And I have to lead by example.

Anyway, one of last week’s groupons was $18 for delivery of one box of local and organic produce from Backyard Produce, a North Carolina online farmer’s market. I have read extensively about online farmer’s markets, and was already well aware of Backyard Produce- but, to be frank, I’ve always thought fruit  and vegetable delivery was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Though this groupon deal was a steal, the typical price of a medium box of produce is $23.49, not including the $12 annual packaging fee. However, after critically looking at my produce buying habits, I decided it would be worth it to try out Backyard Produce with this groupon.

Here’s how it works:

You choose from three different sizes- small, medium, and large. Each package size equates to a certain number of points- 20, 40, or 60. You then use the points to choose from their weekly selection of food options. The options rotate every week, and are subject to availability- while not all selections are locally produced, they are organic, fresh, and arrive to your front door the following Wednesday in refrigerated boxes to ensure freshness.

Sign-up is really simple, and you have up until Sunday night to decide which fruits and veggies you want in that week’s delivery. I made my choices, sent in my order, and waited with bated breath until Wednesday.

Yesterday, after a very stressful day, I was pleased to see this waiting on my front porch:

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I gave very specific directions on how to reach my apartment (which can be a little confusing), and I was super pleased to see that the delivery person had no trouble figuring it out.

As promised, the produce was protected by refrigeration insulation:

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Just in case you were wondering, the annual $12 packaging fee helps them reduce the amount of packaging they use. Every week, they pick up your packaging from the previous delivery and reuse it. Great system.

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Let’s see what I ordered, eh?

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Granny Smith apples, organic WA – 2 count- 4 points

Baby Carrots, organic CA – 1lb- 5 points

Navel Oranges, organic FL – 3 count- 5 points

Tommy Atkins Mango, organic Ecuador – 2 count- 3 points each  (6 points total)

Salad Mix, Cottle Farm NC organic – 1/2 pound- 4 points

Kiwifruit, organic Chile – 2 count- 3 points

Bibb Lettuce, Green Haven Farms hydroponic NC – 1 head- 7 points

TOTAL POINTS USED: 34

As you can see, I only used 34 of my 40 points, leaving 6 points for a future delivery. I was extremely pleased with the quality of my items- bruise free, chilled, and clean. The mangos are nice and large (which is not always the case with mangos), and everything smells great.

At this point I can’t decide if it will be worth it to use Backyard Produce in the future. I still think it’s a little too expensive- but is it really?

I mean, I spend a lot of money on produce every week. In fact, I’m probably spending more than $23.49, not including the gas to/from the grocery store/farmer’s market. Though I’ll keep going to these spots for the rest of my items (and any incidental vegetation I might want), it is really awesome to have fresh, local, organic produce arrive at my door and ready for the week without having to judge by sale prices. I can change up my order every week, depending upon my weekly meal plan. Hmm.

All in all, I’m very pleased with my Backyard Produce experience thus far. This particular company only services the North Carolina Triad, Triangle, and Charlotte area. However, there are online farmer’s market delivery services all over the country- I’ve heard about them in urban centers, and in other parts of America. At the very least, they are worth a try-the convenience factor is unbeatable, and the price might be in your ballpark.

*And yes, that was an inadvertent plug for netflix. I love netflix- and so should you.

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An “I’ve Learned The Hard Way” Recipe Review: Hungry Girl’s Cinnamon Rolls! (A Lesson In the Ancient Art of Mistake Making)

I actually wrote this entry several months ago when I was writing under another blogging alias, The Frugal Student. However, I recently found the entry, remembered what a RIDICULOUS cooking experience this was, and decided to share it with all of you. I wrote this entry write after my undergrad graduation (about eight months ago), and I was cooking in my old apartment kitchen- which just makes me appreciate my new giant kitchen. Seriously, my new kitchen is a palace compared to the shoebox I cooked in for a year.

So in the weeks since graduation, I’ve been indulging in some of the finer things in life. Basically, I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping and eating. Mostly sleeping. But I’ve also been doing a fair amount of culinary exploration. Which brings me to my next point: Have you met the Hungry Girl?

Hungry Girl is the pen name and brand created by Lisa Lillien. From what I can gather, Lisa is just your average girl who’s been trying to create delicious, healthy food which tempt the taste buds without killing diet plans. Then, after becoming really successful on the internet(z) she decided to take her dog and pony show on the road, and voila! She’s created an internationally known brand. Since The Frugal Student is a true fan of the DIY spirit and all it entails, Lisa’s story is not just inspirational, but a good jumping off point for new recipe ideas. With that in mind, I decided to take a little bit of my grad cash and buy the Hungry Girl’s cookbook “200 Under 200: 200 Recipes Under 200 Calories.”

Ok, before I go any further, let me just say that anyone who knows me is well aware that I am the modern definition of a book worm. I actually collect copies of “The Joy Of Cooking”, and have a fiction collection which requires the purchase of a new bookshelf. However, while I absolutely adore large, franchise bookstores like Borders and Barnes and Noble (c‘mon, who doesn‘t love sipping overpriced coffee while looking at wall-sized imaginings of Oscar Wilde?), I would not recommend that the average broke student/person patronize stores like this when money is tight and there are so many other options available for the purchase of books. For example, your local used bookstore is the best source for new books and, depending on the store, movies and music as well. I mean, think about it: why buy a new copy of a book when you can just wait for someone else to read it, and buy their gently used copy? Used bookstores are basically the ‘middle man’ version of putting up posters around town saying, “Hey! I read this book and don’t need it anymore. Do you want it?” For example, I got my barely used copy of “200 Under 200” for the bargain price of 8.00, including tax.
Now let’s say I couldn’t find a copy of “200 Under 200” that day, and/or I didn’t live in an area with a rockin’ used bookstore. This a time for the wonderful world wide web, specifically half.com or Paperback Swap. These are basically the internet examples of getting used books on the cheap. Paperback swap is especially awesome, as you gain credit by trading your own books.
Wow. Even for me, that was a pretty ridiculous tangent. Anyway, back to the Hungry Girl: so a few days ago I decided to try out her recipe for cinnamon rolls. Now, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but every once in awhile I enjoy a bite of something very sugary. The Hungry Girl swears by a number of products I don’t typically use, but I decided to stretch my mind so I could try this recipe while maintaining some of its integrity. But of course, because I’m The Frugal Student, I did make a few adjustments.

HG’s Gooey Cinnamon Rolls With Cream Cheese Icing

For Dough

1 package Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls refrigerated dough

16 sprays I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Spray

For Filling

¼ cup dark brown sugar (not packed)

¼ cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)

½ tablespoon light whipped butter or light buttery spread, room temperature

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

For Icing

¼ cup Cool Whip Free, thawed

3 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese, room temperature

1 tablespoon Splenda No Calorie sweetener (granulated)

Ok, FIRST OF ALL: I don’t believe in only buying name brand products. And trust me, it’s not just because I can’t afford them. Ok, that plays a giant role. But also, there are many house brands which taste just as good as big name products. For example, I found the Harris Teeter brand crescent rolls to be just as tasty as Pillsbury, for a fraction of the price. Also, for those of you who don’t know, splenda is really F****** expensive. Also, I don’t typically buy no-cal sweeteners (I prefer to use honey and/or agave nectar.) But I did invest in a giant bag of Great Value  no-cal sweetener. And I’m not convinced splenda is that much better*. The point is, there are some house brands (Great Value, Harris Teeter, Fit and Active**, Trader Joes) which rival the most commercialized products out there. So even if a recipe calls for a very specific brand, don’t be afraid to try out the less expensive alternative. Just for fun, I’ll include which brands I actually used as I go through the recipe so you can see what worked (and what should possibly be upgraded*.)
*Um, we’ll revist this topic later in the recipe review.
**Fit and Active is a great house brand at Aldi. There are a wide variety of Fit and Active products, and they are all really awesome (especially the dried fruits, and whole wheat pasta.)
Ok, so STEP ONE in this recipe: “Preheat oven to 375 degrees.”
Yes, I included this step because this is something I tend to forget about until I’m ready to start baking. Anyway, preheat your fracking oven.
STEP TWO: “To make filling, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well to make sure the butter gets mixed in evenly. Set aside.”

Ok, prepare yourself for my first screw up (the first of many, might I add.)
Now, in my opinion, I have a very well stocked kitchen and “pantry” (the term pantry is being used loosely to define the singular cabinet into which my roommate and I cram all of our dry ingredients.) I have multiple forms of sugar, but guess what I don’t have? Dark brown sugar. However, I do have light brown sugar. Which, of course, is hard as a rock because it’s been sitting in the back of a cabinet for several months. Hm. What to do? Well, I’ve actually read extensively about salvaging crunchy brown sugar from a life of crystallized rock-hood, and after a bit of reconstructive work (hyperlink), I brought my bag of sugar back from the dead and was able to use it in this recipe. The result? Um, I’m not a pastry chef or any sort of food scientist, but I am of the personal opinion that there’s a distinct reason why recipes call for a specific type of ingredient. In fact, this is not the same as substituting store brand ranch for Hidden Valley- ultimately, light and dark brown sugar are molecularly different and can’t be used interchangeably.  I’m not saying this caused a huge problem, but in the future I will definitely be using the correct type of brown sugar.
Also, I made this recipe before I invested in my bag of no-cal sweetener. I’m sure you can guess that the results of this recipe had something to do with my decision to buy a new product. Just for the record,

DOES NOT EQUAL

However, my filling did eventually come together, in spite of my haphazard ingredient renovations.

STEP THREE: “To make icing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until smooth and blended. Place in the fridge to chill and set.”
Time for the second screw-up- No, the problem wasn’t the Harris Teeter fat-free whipped topping I used (which, in my opinion, is just as good as Cool Whip brand.) It was the DEFINITELY NOT room temperature cream cheese I attempted to beat with it. If a recipe calls for something to be room temperature, take it out of the fridge more than five minutes before you need it. Also, again, agave nectar is not the same as splenda. Texture is more important than I can say. Now, after my very interesting experience with the filling, I knew I couldn’t get away with the agave method again. So instead I decided to use ½ tablespoon regular sugar combined with ½ tablespoon agave nectar. First of all, the addition of agave nectar and regular sugar dramatically alters the caloric intake of this recipe. But also, the texture of the icing was slightly off. Not really ‘bad’, but definitely different.

STEP FOUR: “Prepare a dry surface by sprinkling it with a small amount of flour to prevent sticking. Remove dough from package and kneed into a ball. Using a rolling pin dusted lightly with flour, very firmly roll out dough into a thin sheet about 8 inches by 12 inches. Spray the dough’s surface evenly with butter.”

This went smoothly enough. Since our kitchen space is about 5’x3’ (I wish I were kidding), there’s not nearly enough counter space for me to roll out dough without risking the dough touching other non-dough items. Therefore, I always use these awesome, super cheap cutting boards from ikea as a rolling surface. Oh, and my rolling pin? Definitely came from target, at the price of $2.50. I’ve had it for quite some time, but before that I’m not ashamed to admit I swore by the canned food rolling pin. I have to say, though, an actual rolling pin is a serious upgrade. Also, I used Parkay spray instead of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! and couldn’t tell a definite difference.

STEP FIVE: “Spread filling out evenly over dough, leaving a ½ inch border around the edges.”

STEP SIX: “Starting with a long side of the dough, roll it up tightly, forming a log. Once dough is completely rolled up, pinch the long seam to seal.”

STEP SEVEN: “Turn the log over so that the seam is facing down. Using a very sharp knife, cut log into 8 even pieces, being careful not to squish dough.”

STEP EIGHT: “Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray and arrange pieces of dough in the pan with swirl sides facing up. Use your hands to firmly press down on the tops of the pieces. Pinch the side seams to seal, if necessary.”
So do these look a little extra gooey to you, like maybe the filling is oozing out of the top a little too enthusiastically? Uh, yeah. Once again: don’t use agave nectar AT ALL.

STEP NINE: “Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil and return pan to oven. Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until cinnamon rolls have risen and are slightly browned on top.”
During step nine I whipped up an easy egg white omelette to enjoy with my cinnamon roll.

STEP TEN: “Evenly distribute icing over cinnamon rolls and then enjoy!”
Finished product?

All in all, I thought the rolls tasted pretty delish, even with my slight recipe malfunctions. But trust me, the fun wasn’t over after I’d put my cinnamon rolls in some regifted tupperware and stored them in the fridge. Then I had to deal with this:

I don’t know if you can tell, but the pan is absolutely coated in cinnamon roll filling which oozed from the rolls into a hardened glaze on the baking sheet. Damnit. Damn, Damn, Damn.


I bet the Hungry Girl doesn’t have to put up with s*** like this.

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Double Product Review! Chobani Pineapple Yogurt and FlatOut Wraps

As I mentioned earlier, Greek yogurt is one of my great loves- it’s thick, creamy, low fat (depending upon the brand), and an excellent addition to a multitude of dishes. That being said, can you BELIEVE today was the first day I ever tried Chobani Yogurt?

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In my defense, I’ve always been hesitant to buy Chobani because, for a broke grad student, it’s pretty pricey. However, due in no small part to my new food resolution, I decided that the time had finally come for me to try out one of the most talked about Greek yogurts in the blogosphere.

I’ve got to say: this was true love at first Bite. Chobani is everything I dreamed (and read) it would be. It’s super smooth and creamy, with delicious nuggets of pineapple just waiting to be scooped into your mouth. Unlike other fruit on the bottom yogurts, Chobani doesn’t have a weird syrupy fruit base. It tastes like…well, like fresh pineapple added to a creamy treat.

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So delicious, I basically had to lick the container clean.

At 4 wwpoints+, it is a great mid day snack or an addition to a green smoothie. I don’t typically put dairy items in my Green monsters, but I bet Chobani would taste delicious. Chobani comes in a number of flavors, so I also picked out mango and honey. If those flavors taste anything like the pineapple version, I will have truly fallen in love.

I also finally tried Flatout Flatbread.

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I had two reasons for not trying Flatout wraps- first of all (of course), I thought they were slightly overpriced. That problem was solved because they are on sale at Harris Teeter this week.

Second problem is that I have had some bad ‘wrap’ experiences. In my opinion, wraps are either really delicious and perfect, or dry and flavorless.

I am happy to say that I was way too quick to judge Flatout Wraps- I bought the Multi-grain with Flax, and they are absolutely delicious. The texture of the wrap is surprisingly moist, especially considering that they are sold in the bread section and not the freezer section. They are nice and floppy, so they don’t twist, break, or crack when you wrap them in whatever filling you choose.

Speaking of which, I decided today was a perfect day to make a tuna wrap. What are the secrets to Jessamyn’s Tuna Wrap?

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First of all, for the record, I HATE FAT-FREE MAYONNAISE. I’m sure you’re thinking, “why the hell did she put it in her tuna?” My response? “Because I’m ridiculous, that’s why!” It’s really just because I have trained myself to eat mayo in tuna- when I realized that (BIG SURPRISE) mayo is bad for you, I decided to fill my pantry with jars of fat-free mayonnaise. However, what I failed to recognize during this pantry revamp is that

a) fat-free mayo tastes awful.

and

b) the ingredients are worse than regular mayo ingredients.

Plus, I’m a Southern Girl- I should know not to buy anything other than Duke’s Mayonnaise.  Speaking of Official Condiments of Southeastern USA, Texas Pete is a required ingredient in most dishes- when I was high school, we had an (informal) contest to see who could eat the most Texas Pete (FROM PACKETS!) in one sitting.

(Yes, I did go to a liberal all-girls boarding school. How’d you know? Winking smile)

I also really like to add dijon mustard to most things- I definitely prefer to pass the Grey Poupon, but Great Value is no slouch either.

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I set the tuna mixture on a bed of greens, and at the last minute I decided to thinly slice a radish on top of my wrap. Radishes have such a delicious crunch and a very refreshing flavor- they taste good with pretty much everything, ESPECIALLY tacos.

The whole wrap?

Tuna- 3 wwpoints+

Mixed greens- 0 wwpoints+

Flatout Wrap- 3 wwpoints+

Dijon Mustard- 0 wwpoints+

Fat-Free Mayo- 1 wwpoints+

Radish- 0 wwpoints+
TOTAL: 7 wwpoints+

Verdict? Get thee to your local grocer and buy Flatout wraps and chobani yogurt. DE-licious.

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Product Review: Udi’s Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread

I don’t have any major food allergies- I mean, there’s a very great chance that I might have undiagnosed lactose intolerance, but that has yet to stop me from eating cheese like it’s going out of style. And while I don’t have any (known) gluten allergies, reducing the amount of gluten in one’s diet has a number of health benefits, including better digestion.

Anyway, when I saw that Udi’s Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread was on sale at Whole Foods, I got really excited to try out this really reputable brand.

Udi’s started making gluten-free products after their master baker was asked by a friend with celiac disease to come up with a new recipe for gluten-free bread. He ended up developing Udi’s “secret” recipe, and the rest is history.

In my opinion, this bread stands above other gluten-free breads I’ve tried. It’s a little mealy, but not too mealy, and it has a delicious bite as well as a really mellow flavor. I tried the original recipe, and I think it’s really good for every day sandwiches and toast. However, be aware that gluten-free does not mean THE HEALTHIEST FOOD IN THE WORLD OMG- I mean, it’s still bread. And the last time I checked, bread is a carbohydrate. That means two slices of Udi’s Gluten Free White Sandwich Bread is 4 WWpoints+. Basically, as long as you don’t eat the entire loaf in one sitting, I think eating Udi’s bread is perfectly fine for a Weight Watcher.

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For lunch, I ate my Udi’s in a sandwich made with a Boca Chik’n Patty, lettuce, mustard, and an egg white (look, don’t act surprised- I said I like eggs).  The whole thing was 8 WWpoints+.

Tonight my brother and I are having our first WW meeting together. Since we’re both doing WW online, we’ve decided to meet up once a week and have our own version of a WW meeting. I think it’ll be a great way for us to spend a little more time together, and support each other.

Do you have any unconventional support systems? Also, how do you feel about gluten-free diets?

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Filed under food, product review, Uncategorized

Say it Ain’t SNOW: A Recap of New Purchases, and Why Corporate Farming is Destroying My Judgement

Today I was reminded of one of the side effects of living in a world dominated by corporate food manufacturing: it’s very easy to forget that weather directly affects farming opportunities. I mean, when you can buy peaches and strawberries in the middle of December, why the hell would anyone be thinking about the fact that those items are out of season and didn’t come from a farm nearby?

(It’s probably because we live in the Matrix. Or America. You know, semantics.)

Therefore, if there’s been an unusual amount of snow and ice in your area, there will be a very meager selection of produce at your local farmer’s market.

Let me make this a little more simple:

This:

(Source)

+This:

(Source)

=

Whatever, I’ll hit up the market later in the week. Anyway, while I was at home with my parentals and little bro, my mom and I went on a mother/daughter grocery shopping expedition and I found steel cut oats at ALDI:

Um, what? I had difficulty finding a selection of steel cut oats at Harris-Teeter, and there’s a giant display at ALDI for half the typical price? I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but that strikes me as slightly amusing. Now, these oats are quick cooking, so I don’t know how they will compare to these oats:

I’ll be sure to let you guys know how the taste testing goes down with these two items. Whole Foods versus Aldi– this ought to be very interesting.

Also, my mom hooked me up with a new kind of tahini:

I’m pretty excited to try it- Mama Bear got it for a great price using amazon.com, but some of the reviews say it’s kind of bitter. Do you eat tahini? Do you have a favorite way of preparing it? I, for one, am about to embark on a series of hummus experimental adventures.

Also, when I arrived home in Cancer City, guess what was waiting for me?

And Yes, I did pose these photos on top of my record player.

🙂 🙂 🙂 I love new purchases, especially when they come in the form of an Eat Smart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale and an Omron GoSmart Pocket Pedometer.

Because I’m Jessamyn and I have the patience of a two year-old, OF COURSE I had to immediately start weighing everything in my kitchen using my lovely new scale. I won’t bore you with all my testing, but I was very impressed with the scale’s accuracy and ESPECIALLY the great convenience of the tare function. By using the tare button, I can easily place a plate/bowl on the scale and zero out its weight before measuring my actual food. There’s no silly math involved at ALL. It’s a REVELATION, y’all.

Plus, doesn’t it look so pretty next to my coffeemaker? Now my kitchen is semi-color coordinated.

(Ok, I’m making an ass of myself.)

I’d have taken more photographs of my pedometer, but I immediately adjusted all the settings, clipped it to my shirt, and walked around my kitchen like an idiot for ten minutes. Things I’ve learned so far? Apparently I have a very short stride, and walk too slowly. I’m sure more lessons will be learned as soon as I start walking and acting like a normal person again. Ok, that’s probably asking a bit too much- everyone knows I’m nowhere near normal.

How was your Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? Did you act more or less silly than I did?

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Filed under farmers market, food, grocery shopping, grocery stores, meal planning, product review, shopping