November 30, 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly of recent foodie encounters

It's been a while since I posted - given that little Thanksgiving thing last week, ya know - so I thought I should write up a little post tonight.

Lately, I've had mixed emotions about eating, dieting, cooking. It's a mix of being inspired to cook non-healthy things for the nurturing fun of it, but then also wanting more than ever to drop a couple of the pounds that I've gained back since moving to Atlanta, and re-joined the real world. ("Real World" meaning a life that is shared with other people - a boyfriend I see and cook for on the weekends, cooking for fun, and actually going out to eat with friends - rather than sticking to myself, working out and barely eating.)

I'm still not sure I've figured out the right balance or the right routine to make sure I don't put on weight. Maybe it's just that I am super concerned since it's the holidays and I am coming off of a week where I indulged, but it's been weighing (no pun intended) on my mind lately.

But if there's one thing I've been doing right, it's this:

My trusty, HUGE tupperware full of raw veggies and fat-free T. Marzetti's ranch veggie dip. It's so filling, and I think pretty tasty. If there's one thing I need to keep doing, it's filling myself up on stuff like this.

If there's another thing I've been doing right, it's this:

Enjoying things like fresh flowers, instead of food-things. Oh, and generally enjoying life and other people.

What I need to do more of:
  • Work out. This means stop wasting time in the evenings. Which probably also means working late, and then coming home and wasting time on the computer. If I can't control the working late part, I can't keep making excuses for letting it affect the routines I know are good for me.
  • Stay focused. You see, it's the eating, stupid: during a dinner party, at work when someone brings in a baked good, at home when I get a recipe I want to try that I know I'll over-indulge in. Regardless, it all starts with just NOT eating it (or cooking it) in the first place. Not sure if that's something I'll ever truly master, but I can try.
In the meantime, I should probably just work out more. Which means I should go to bed, so I will wake up in the morning and get on the trusty elliptical machine.

Good night!

November 16, 2009

Grilled chicken salad with lentils, feta and shallots

I wanted to share the salad I made for lunch today, because it's a new winning combo for my lunches of late.

I - like a lot of people - typically only like salads when they have a lot of stuff on them. The usual suspects are cheese, croutons, chicken, hard boiled egg, and creamy dressings. I've tried using the low-fat versions of all of these items, but at the end of the day, even the lowfat condiments and toppings "add up" to sometimes not be worth it in my diet book.

For instance:
A salad with lettuce, cucumber, tomato = O points
Add 1/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheese = 2 points
Add a hard boiled egg = 2 points
Add 3 oz grilled chicken = 3 points

= 7 points total

And that's not even counting dressing.

Now, that's not an unreasonable amount for most dieters - about the same as your average lean cuisine meal - but it's still close to half of my daily points value. For me, I've always needed enough budge room in my points or calories to be able to "play" throughout the day, whether that's a mid morning snack, a little candy, a latte, etc.

So, in the end, I've experimented with different kinds of salads, but more often than not, I defer against them because I'd rather get veggies a different way.

But this salad.... this salad was a keeper. And for what I calculated was a 4-5 point total.

Baby spring greens, grilled chicken, 1/4 cup lentils, 1/4 cup reduced fat feta, shallots.

Shallots = o points
1/4 cup lentils= 0 points (60 cals / 4 g fiber)
1/4 cup reduced fat feta = 1 point
Lettuce = o points
3 oz chicken cooked with spray (no oil) = 3 points.

I had brought some lemon and garlic herb dressing that is 25 cals per 2 Tbsp. which would have been 1 point, but I had enough going on with the salad that I didnt even use it. It was really yummyand I think the lentils were a great way to add stuff with hardly any additonal points or calories.

Before this salad topping magic-maker, I had really been enjoying grilled veggies, like red onions and peppers, but they were not as good leftover as they were freshly cooked.

What are your favorite salad toppers?

November 15, 2009

Low Fat Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

I was excited to make these low fat chicken enchiladas that I had found through, since I'm always looking for guy-friendly meals.

These were a delicious change of pace, and about 8 Weight Watchers points a piece (454 calories). Both Ben and my roomate's boyfriend liked them a lot, which begs the question: if these pass the "not-so-diet-conscious-guy" taste test, why would you make them with full-fat ingredients?

(I also just noticed the Cooking Light picture has these in a green casserole dish as well!)

These call for normal flour tortillas (medium sized), but I was wondering how they would be with low-carb flour tortillas? Maybe it would compromise the taste. I may experiment at report back. Normally I'm a sucker for cutting out the calories of normal flour tortillas since they can be so "expensive" calorically.

A serving is one enchilada, and this makes 8. Here's the recipe from Cooking Light below. Enjoy!


  • 2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 2/3 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup (such as Healthy Request), undiluted
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Remove 1 cup chicken mixture; set mixture aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, brush oil over both sides of tortilla. Add tortilla to pan; cook 5 seconds on each side or until toasted and soft. Remove from pan; arrange 1/2 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla. Roll jelly-roll style; place filled tortilla, seam side down, in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 7 tortillas, remaining oil, and remaining chicken mixture. Spread reserved 1 cup chicken mixture evenly over enchiladas. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese and green onions; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 454
Fat: 20.3g (sat 10.4g,mono 6.7g,poly 1.5g)
Protein: 30.8g
Carbohydrate: 36.6g
Fiber: 2.2g
Cholesterol: 73mg
Iron: 2.3mg
Sodium: 757mg

November 8, 2009

A Not So Healthie Birthday Celebration (Plus Dinner by Kevin from Top Chef!)

First, let's just start with this picture:

That's right, in the middle there you'll see a man named Kevin Gillespie. You might recognize him from this season of Top Chef. (We're all such huge fans! We're rooting for you Kevin!)

Yesterday was my sister's birthday, so Erin and her boyfriend Richard decided to come to Atlanta last minute to head to Kevin's restaurant, Woodfire Grill. Ben and I of course willingly joined them :).

It was so decadent and delicious, although a little pricey for a standard Saturday night.

I had a champagne cocktail, with elderflower and oregano syrup which was such a delightful addition to the normal bubbly. Then, we did the 5-course tasting menu. Since we did the tasting menu, everything was a surprise, so my apologies that my descriptions of what we ate are not exactly on point.

  • Compliments of the Chef: A sort of Amuse Bouche that was a play on waldorf salad. It had braised apple and celery, with a mixture of creme freche and some kind of aioli.
  • First Course: Sous vide egg with micro black eyed peas and tomato broth (and other fancy stuff I can't remember...)
  • Second Course: Caramelized Georgia Diver scallop with an olive tapenade, local Georgia butter beans and a lamb jus.
  • Third Course: Raw oysters from Washington state (can't remember the formal kind we had) and they had diced pepper and red onion on top (again, can't remember the fancy components!)
  • Fourth Course: Roasted duck, over a pink lady apple and parsnip pure with firewood roasted gala apples and an apple cider reduction on the side.
  • Fifth Course: Braised pork belly with a watermelon radish and fresh herb salad on top, with roasted carrots dusted with cumin.
  • Dessert:Toasted sponge cake with apple-pear gelato with a banana chip and an apple-balsamic reduction and apples tartin on the side and a dark chocolate stuffed crepes with cocoa nib streusel, whipped cream and latte sauce.
I can't believe how good it all was! Since we decided to go kind of last-minute, we could only get a reservation for 10:15, which means we had to have a few things to snack on earlier in the evening to help us make it to such a late dinner!

First, I put out the classic veggies and dip to snack on:

Then - because it was a special occasion, I also made a baked brie. I think this is by far one of my favorite things in the world. I don't think I could ever get tired of it:

(Clearly we devoured this... truth be told, I probably ate a little too much of this before such a nice meal! I was a little too full for the rest of the evening...)

We had some wine and beer, and watched some football for the evening while we waited for our dinner reservations. Overall I think Erin had a pretty good birthday and we were glad we could help her celebrate.

November 2, 2009

Highlights from Halloween

Well, it wasn't a completely "Healthie Halloween" ... mostly just cute. My caloric intake was not a total disaster that day, but let's just say I was hardly on track...

But back to the cute part! Here are some pictures and recipes of the treats I made on Saturday, which I dare say were the highlight of my holiday.

Pumpkin Cheese ball....

Recipe from Southern Living

I thought this was so cute!! I didn't even care if people ate it, I just wanted to make it. Just because... and let me tell you it was so easy! As easy as forming cheese into a ball and making divets with your fingers. We'll call this playdough for big kids. Hungry, big kids.

Next up, sausage balls:

If you look close up, you'll see I decorated some of them as bats, trying to mimic this adorable recipe for Bat Bites from All You Magazine. Basically I shmeared some cream cheese lightly on the sausage balls to provide some stick, rolled them in poppy seeds and stuck in some broken tortilla chips. I unfortunately did't get an up-close pic of them, but they were cute :)

(As for the sausage ball recipe itself, it was 1 lb. hot sausage, 1 lb cheddar, 3 cups biscuick and 1/2 cup of water. cook sausage and let cool, combine ingredients, form the bite-sized balls and cook on ungreased pan at 400 for 12-15 minutes.)

And finally.... Ghost cupcakes!

Idea based off of this recipe from All You

So - were there any "healthie highlights" from Saturday? Actually, yes.

You'll be glad to know that those chocolate cupcakes were made low-fat by substituting the oil for applesauce. In truth, I was going to make them the regular way, but realized we were somehow out of vegetable oil. I was forced to be healthy, but they were delicious in the end so I was glad! Because the ghosts were made with cool whip, I saved some significant fat and cals from regular icing.

Also, I had a strategy on Saturday that some may not agree with, but it was realistic for me. Basically, I knew I would be snacking as I cooked, and snacking throughout the party. So why bother eating a formal lunch or dinner? It was basically a landslide of snacking, but at least I didn't waste calories on additional meals when the snacking would have occurred anyway :) When possible throughout the day, I did snack on veggies and yogurt ranch dip to help fill up on the good stuff.

How was Halloween for everyone else?!