Stuff happens sometimes. Sometimes you make a cake to help celebrate a friend's special event. Sometimes you have gobs of gorgeous whipped cream left over. Sometimes what you planned to have for breakfast morphs from an egg white and turkey sandwich to a Belgian Waffle. Hey - don't judge me. Life is for living. But guess what? This super good finger food is only about 350 calories. Really. I mean the beauty of freshly whipped cream is that it only takes a few tablespoons of liquid to yield a nice big dollop. So here's what I did: toast 1 Frozen Organic Multigrain Waffle. As soon as it is crisp remove and spread with 2 tablespoons of Smucker's Sugar Free Peach Preserves. Top with 1/2 cup of Fresh Blueberries, 1/4 cup of Whipped Cream and 1 tablespoon of chopped Macadamia Nuts. Enjoy with a steaming cup of fresh, strong coffee, no fork required.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
I am NOT a creature of habit. Left to my own devices I might wake at 6am or 10am. I could spend an hour in bed, watching tv or listening to the radio or I might hop immediately into the shower. Is this too much information? What I was trying to get at is that I like flexibility. Always have. I've never been one to do the same thing at the same time all the time. I like being able to open the fridge and whip up a meal based on what's in there and what is going on in my day. I like to be able to mix and match any meal at any time - breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack. I can have Egg and Avocado Toasts for breakfast or dinner. A Yogurt Parfait can be an easy brunch or mid-afternoon snack. When I get up late on Saturday I might have breakfast around 10, a quick lunch while I'm shopping, an early dinner and a late night snack. Work days I'm up and out early so I might grab a couple of Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins for the ride to work, have this Hummus Platter spread at my desk, add a snack to break up the afternoon and enjoy a quiet dinner after I wind down around 8. My fridge is always full of a few basic items (whole wheat pitas and english muffins, reduced fat cheeses, salad veggies and avocadoes, Applegate Farms' sausage, turkey bacon and ham, Morningstar's meatless meatballs and Boca's veggie burgers) while the cupboard always has a selection of nuts and dried fruits, some whole wheat pasta, olive oil packed Italian goodies. The basics: mix 'em up however it suits you. That's the 4-4-4 way!
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
I made these muffins the other day. I made a dozen. I ate a dozen. No - not all in one day. But two at a time, nearly everyday for - well - a week. I wasn't expecting them to be so good - I got the recipe from Prevention Magazine, part of their 400-calorie meal promotion. They are tasty, tender and sweet. They are not, as you can see, particularly bulbuous or inflated. They are modest. I can grab 2 of these muffins and pop them in a paper bag to eat in the car, on the go, with my morning Starbucks' and that is, by my reckoning, a great start to the day! Most of the meals I prepare are "assembled" - no recipe required. I choose a few of my regular ingredients and throw them together in different ways for a little variety. I do however like to bake a treat each week that #1 satisfies my emotional sweet craving and #2 gives me a no-preparation alternative for those mornings when I am running out the door with one shoe on my foot and one in my hand! Fresh sweet blueberries and lots of lemon zest (I doubled what the recipe calls for and substituted vanilla extract for the lemon extract since I hate lemon extract) make these muffins fragrant and tasty. Canola oil makes them moist, providing enough fat to deliver the flavor and keep the crankies away!
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
I've been sharing with you the meal plan I have been enjoying for the last few weeks. As you might have noticed each of these posts has featured what in the recent past was referred to as a "small meal". The plan's premise is rather simple - enjoy 4 small, well-balanced meals - at about 400 calories each - per day. The theory is that eating smaller meals at regular intervals, no more than 4 hours apart (the 4-4-4 plan) prevents blood sugar spiking and keeps you satisfied, avoiding cravings and that "too-hungry-to-wait-for-anything-other-than-a-candy bar" feeling! The menus that I create also rely heavily on whole grain, natural and organic choices. Finally the real reason I love and can easily follow this plan is that full flavored fats are allowed - actually required - in rather generous quantities. Each dish includes a small serving of a monounsaturated fat, generally about 100-150 calories. Foods that fit that category are considered staples of a Mediterranean-style diet: avocados, dark chocolate, olive oil, canola oil, high-oleic safflower oil, olives and nuts. Well, yum! Once you get your pantry stocked with a few go-to staples it's easy to create new dishes, or tweak existing favorites. This dish was inspired by the polenta that used to be a regular treat in my house when I was growing up - before it was served in every Italian restaurant not called a pizzeria. Cut 3 slices from a tube of prepared Polenta (4 oz) and grill, preferably on a ridged, non-stick griddle coated with a bit of cooking spray. When heated through and crisp, arrange on a plate. Top each with Black Olive Tapenade (3 T), Marinara Sauce or Tomato Bruschetta (1/2 c), Fat Free Ricotta (1/2 c), Low Fat Mozzarella (1 oz) and some Fresh Herbs. Buon appetito!
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
My weekends can look like one of 2 things - watching tv from bed, my recliner or my desk while thinking about as little as possible OR driving all over 4 counties visiting, shopping, running errands etc! When it is the former I usually manage to rouse myself long enough to trudge into the kitchen and assemble a simple meal. When it is the latter I am challenged to stay out of the Burger King drive through and find a healthy-ish alternative to over-salted, pre-frozen fast food and fat-saturated casual dining menus. Lately it has been Starbucks to the rescue. This might not come as much of a surprise to my friends and co-workers who know that I am on a first name basis with everyone in my local branch. But much as I am a sucker for their always-fresh, bold brews and beans, I never used to think of them for a decent meal. That changed when I discovered their Bistro Boxes. Each of the pre-packaged snack platters run about 400 calories (from a low of 270 to to a high of 480). Some are more nutritious overall while others can be rather high in saturated fat or sodium. But as an occasional on-the-go meal they will do fine. The "Chicken & Hummus" box is the leanest, with carrot or tomato and cucumber, grilled chicken breast and a mini whole wheat pita with hummus dip. The most decadent variety in my opinion, is the "Salumi & Cheese" which is chock full of cheese, salami and prosciutto plus crackers, grapes and a bit of lettuce. No matter how many times I read the label I am still shocked it weighs in at only 360 calories! Try them all - find your favorite and know, if there's a Starbucks nearby (and really, where is there not?) - you're covered!
Monday, July 9, 2012
Here's a fun craft project that I first found on Pinterest. It was posted all over the web but I ultimately tracked the link back to here. It's a super easy and quick project. The transformation from recycled jar to quirky vase or pencil cup takes only some store bought bottles of enamel glass paint. The best part, I think, is in choosing the colors. I started with one light grass green (middle) and one pale blue (2nd from left). I then mixed the 2 colors, sometimes with ivory, to get a nice range of related tones. Experiment with your paint colors and bottle shapes. I want to do shades of pink, coral and magenta next. These jars look a little country/salvaged and I kind of like the honesty of that. You could certainly do the same thing to store-bought clear glass vases and bowls and get a sleeker, more sophisticated look. That might be cool to try in elegant shades of gray with a little silver metallic thrown in. Directions: Working over a protective surface pour a generous amount of the pre-mixed paint into a clean and dry jar or vase. Carefully swirl the paint around until the vessel is fully coated. Pour the excess back into the paint container. For a neat and professional look make sure to remove all paint from the neck and top edge of the opening. Clean up any spills or smudges on the outside of the glass before the paint sets. Let the jars stand open and unused until all the paint fully sets. By the way I would not recommend using these for any food substance - reserve them for decorative uses.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Oh my - this is one of my favorites! A great weekend breakfast or lunch, this open-face sandwich is a picture of contrasts - crunchy and smooth, warm and cool, green and red, well - you get the idea. It all starts with 2 slices of Ezekiel Sesame Sprouted Wheat Bread, nicely toasted. This means watch the bread closely and - if you are toasting in an oven like me - turn the slices halfway through! While the bread is toasting, hit a non-stick skillet with a light coating of cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Crack 3 egg whites and up to 1 yolk into a bowl. Add a dash of cayenne pepper and a few very thin slices of red onion. Fork scramble and pour this mixture into the hot pan. While the eggs cook, spread one wedge of The Laughing Cow's Light Garlic & Herb Cheese on the warm toasts. Once the eggs are just set, place atop the cheesey toasts. Top with a chopped plum tomato, 1/3 of an avocado and some shredded romaine. Add a bit of fresh herb and enjoy immediately. Guess what? This filling and rather elegant dish is just over 400 calories. Yeah, remind me to tell you about that next time!
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Heh heh heh. Don't really need to say much more than that. Pugly Pixel - powered by pastries. She's funny. I had tongue firmly in cheek when I first found this blog. Not in the mode of sarcasm or irony but smugness. Yes I am guilty of that sometimes. I expected PP's Photoshop tutorials to be, well, amateur. But guess what? They are not. She spends a lot of time writing great, very clear how-to's on some pretty specialized PS tools. I was impressed. And she posts them for free. And she shares all kinds of other cool graphic resources with us. Her graphics are young and a little quirky and definitely quite fetching. Check her out and score some virtual swag!