Friday, May 9, 2014

More Skinny Eats

A friend and I met for coffee yesterday at the infamous Target Starbucks. This time things went off without a hitch. Except for the part when we sat down at the table, and my three-year-old said to me, 

"Do NOT spill your coffee, okay?"

Thanks. At least she didn't offer me her sippy cup.

Dinners this week have been tasty (my tastebuds say so) and healthy (my poops say so).  

Tuesday night we had roasted chickpeas, avocado, and fresh veggies in collard wraps.

I used some leftover cashew crema (see yesterday's post for the recipe) mixed with lime and a little honey to dress the filling. Collard greens, while a bit unorthodox, make great wraps for cold preparations. Besides the health benefits, they're big and sturdy and hold a lot more than more typical romaine or iceberg lettuce wraps. Their giant stems have troubled me in the past (I've tried removing them completely, but that wrecks the leaf and makes it difficult to wrap up), but this time I found a way around them. I gently folded each leaf in half (dark green side facing in, light green side out) and (holding the collard in one hand and the knife in my dominant hand) used a knife to remove about 3/4 of the thickness of the stem. Then I used a vegetable peeler to shave off most of the remaining thickness until the stem was pretty much level with the rest of the leaf. You could skip the knife step and just use the peeler to shave down the stem, but it will take a little longer.

Shaving down the stem yields an intact leaf that's easy to chew and ready to roll. 

Roasted Chickpea-Veggie Salad Wraps


1 can chickpeas (or other canned bean), rinsed, drained, and dried on paper towels
1 Tbs chili powder
nonstick cooking spray
1/2 bunch collard greens
2 Tbs cashew crema (see link above), or 1 Tbs mayo + 1 Tbs greek yogurt
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 Tbs honey
large pinch of kosher or sea salt
1/2 of a jicama, peeled and chopped
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small Japanese or English cucumber, chopped
1/2 of a bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 small jalapeño, minced (optional)
1 small avocado, chopped
handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and line a pan with nonstick foil (for easy cleanup). Add the dried chickpeas to the prepared pan, season with the chili powder, and spray with nonstick spray. When the oven is hot, roast the chickpeas for 20 minutes, shaking the pan after 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes.

While the chickpeas roast, prepare the collards by trimming off the protruding stem and shaving down the remaining stem (as described above). In a large bowl, combine the crema (or mayo/yogurt), lime zest and juice, honey, and salt. Add all the veggies to the bowl as you chop them. After you add the avocado, fold the whole mixture together. Add the chickpeas and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro. 

To fill the collards, spoon about a cup of the filling into the center of the wrap. Fold the top and bottom sections over the filling first, then starting at the wider side, roll the collard up the rest of the way. 

This amount of filling made enough for 4 big collard leaves. Serves 2-4 depending on serving size.

Wednesday night's dinner was not only healthy and delish, 
but also super quick - it was on the table in less than half an hour.

Pan-Seared Moonfish w/ Green Onion-Cilantro Gremolata, Cauliflower-Avocado Puree, and Sauteed Greens

*Cauliflower-Avocado puree... what? Not the usual combo, I know. I'd never had it or even heard of it  prior to that night. (I just looked it up just now on the google, and I'm not the only one to think of it.) But I wanted something mashed-potatoey without wrecking the calories/nutrition of the meal. I had frozen cauliflower on hand that I could puree (frozen cauliflower doesn't mash well - too watery), and I thought, why not use an avocado to richen the flavor (instead of butter or cream)? And it worked! The creamy puree was perfect against the firm fish.*


4 fillets moonfish, salmon, halibut, or other fish
salt and pepper
nonstick cooking spray
1 bag frozen cauliflower
1/2 tsp garlic powder, divided
1 lemon
1 small avocado, roughly chopped
1 large bunch kale or collard greens, stemmed and chopped
pinch of nutmeg
1/3 bunch green onions, chopped
large handful cilantro, chopped
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature. Steam the cauliflower in the microwave until fully cooked, about 5-6 minutes. While it cooks, preheat  a nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and spray each fillet with nonstick spray. Reserve the fish while you prepare the cauliflower puree. 

Zest the lemon and reserve the zest, then halve the lemon. Add the juice from one half of the lemon to a blender or food processor, then cut the other half in half again. Reserve both quarters for later. Add the cooked cauliflower, a generous pinch of salt, a little pepper, 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, and the avocado to the blender/food processor. Puree until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Transfer to an oven safe bowl, cover, and keep warm in the oven. 

Steam the greens in a microwave-safe, covered bowl for 2-3 minutes in the microwave to wilt them. While they cook, add the prepared fish to the hot pan and cook until just opaque in the center, about 3 minutes on the first side and 2 on the second (depending on the thickness of your fillets). While the fish cooks, prepare the gremolata. 

In a small bowl, combine the chopped green onion, all of the reserved lemon zest, the cilantro, a pinch of salt, and the olive oil. Reserve.  

When the fish is done cooking, remove it to an oven-safe plate (keep the pan on the hot burner), squeeze the juice from one of the reserved lemon quarters over top of the fillets, then tent the plate with foil and keep warm in the oven.  

Spray the hot pan with a little nonstick cooking spray, add the wilted greens to the hot pan, season with salt, pepper, the remaining garlic powder, and nutmeg, and sauté until tender but still green, about 2 minutes. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon quarter over top.

Spoon a little gremolata over each fish fillet and serve with the greens and cauliflower puree.

Serves 4

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Spontaneous (and Skinny!) Foodgasm

In my quest to fit (comfortably) back in my skinny jeans and put the inner back in my Inner Fat Girl, I've been eating more healthily and reintegrating exercise back into my routine this week. Breakfasts have been coffee with a tablespoon of sweetened condensed milk - because it's my favorite thing and makes my day better, and it's nonnegotiable! - followed by (when I start to feel hungry) a fruit smoothie :

1 cup almond milk + 1 serving fruit [i.e. blueberries, banana, pear, etc.] + ice.

 Lunches have been a green smoothie with a nutritional powder (I use Vega One) added:

1 cup almond milk + 1 scoop powder + 1-2 cups greens (spinach, kale, etc) + 1 pitted date

If I'm craving more calories at lunch, I'll add a serving of fruit to the smoothie, as well.

If I'm hungry in between, I snack on something with protein and fiber (like a Think Thin bar or leftovers from dinner). I've also upped my water intake throughout the day quite a bit. I'd completely fallen off the exercise wagon for more weeks than I'd like to admit, so I'm easing back onto it with walking and some beginner-level Tracy Anderson muscular structure and cardio. 

I save my bigger meals (and foodgasms) for dinner, when I can share them with my family. 

Yup, food-orgies around the table. That's how we do.

I've never been a big eater throughout the day - my appetite doesn't really kick in until around 2pm, especially if I have a few cups of coffee - so this week's breakfast/lunch routine hasn't been much of a challenge. It works for me. If you're the kind of person who needs to eat breakfast everyday to feel sane, then it probably wouldn't work for you. I don't do diets anymore, but I can recognize when I need to rein things in (and when I need to really rein it in... like NOW). So for the next few weeks, for 5-6 days a week, the reins will be really tight...

What with my almond milkshakes bringing all the boys to the yard for a couple meals a day...

 And dat ass will get tight (I hope) from all the exercisions.

Giving me hope to get through each day without running out for a tub of Ben & Jerry's will be dinners like this...

It was deeeee-rishous!!! Okay, Ben & Jerry's it is most definitely not, but it also won't leave you wanting to kill yourself if you eat the whole thing! Spicy, tangy, slightly sweet, comforting, and full of texture. The veggies still have a bit of crunch to them, which is balanced by the soft shirataki noodles. The ginger adds a some warmth, but the real heat comes from the garnish, so you can control how hot (or not) you want it. The honey and the crema balance out the spice. Other than the healthy fat added by the spoonful of crema for garnishment and the marginal amount found in the shirataki noodles, this is an extremely healthy dish, chocked full of fiber, protein, and antioxidants.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup


For the soup
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
handful each of cilantro and mint
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
1 large zucchini
1 small or 1/2 of a large red bell pepper
1 tbs honey
1 package shirataki noodles (found in the refrigerated Asian noodles section), rinsed, drained, and microwaved for 1 minute
2 big handfuls fresh spinach, roughly sliced
salt to taste

For garnish
cilantro and mint, roughly chopped
pickled jalapeño,
sriracha sauce
peanut crema or vegan cashew crema (optional - recipe to follow)

Add the chicken breasts and broth to a soup pot and bring to a boil. While it's heating up, zest the lime and reserve the zest for later. Cut the lime in half, squeeze the juice directly into the soup pot, then add both lime halves, the garlic, and the ginger to the pot, as well. Pick the leaves from the cilantro and mint and reserve for garnish. Bundle the stems together and tie them with kitchen string, then add the bundle to the pot. Once the broth comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

While the soup cooks, prepare the veggies. For the celery, carrots, and zucchini, using a mandolin, knife, or julienne peeler, julienne the veggies into long, noodle-like strips. Alternately, use a vegetable peeler to create wide, long ribbons of veggies. Reserve. With a knife, julienne the bell pepper and reserve it.

Once the chicken is cooked, carefully remove it from the broth and move it to a plate to cool. Remove the lime halves and stem bundle and discard them. To the broth, add the julienned celery, carrots, and bell pepper and simmer them for 10 minutes. Reserve the zucchini - don't add it yet! Shred the chicken breast and reserve that, as well. Roughly chop the shirataki noodles (if they have retained a bit of their "authentic aroma," worry not - you won't taste it in the soup).

After 10 minutes, the veggies will have softened in the gently simmering broth. To the soup pot, add the honey, the reserved lime zest, and the noodles. Just before you're ready to serve, add the spinach and stir it in to wilt. Add the shredded chicken. Taste the broth and season with salt as necessary. Remove the soup pot from heat. ATHEVERYLASTSECOND, add in the zucchini "noodles" and gently stir in. (Tongs may work better than a spoon at this point.) Zucchini has a very high water content, so in this delicate noodle state, heat and salt will make it break down very quickly. Adding it at the very end, off the heat, will keep it from turning to mush. The residual heat in the soup will soften it perfectly.

Use tongs to remove the noodles and chicken to your serving bowls, then ladle the broth over top. Garnish with crema, sriracha, jalapeños, and the herbs as desired.

To Make Peanut Crema:
Combine 2 tbs PB2 (or warmed peanut butter) and a pinch of salt with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt - whisk well until completely combined. Add more peanut powder or yogurt as necessary for your desired consistency. 

To Make Vegan Cashew Crema:
Add 1 cup toasted cashews to a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add 2 tbs water, a pinch of salt, and 3 tbs apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the nut puree, and process until it becomes very smooth, adding more water, vinegar, or lemon juice as necessary for the smooth consistency and to suit your taste.   

*In my Vitamix, it took about 2 minutes on high, scraping the sides periodically. I added a couple extra tablespoons of vinegar and no extra water, but I like the acidic flavor of vinegar against the rich cashews.*

Store leftover crema in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It's a great swap for mayonnaise in salads and salad dressings.

Monday, May 5, 2014


It's Cincur de Mayur again, which for white people means an excuse to eat spicy food and get loaded on tequila. 

This was my twist on the food from Bobby's Flay's Mexican brunch episode of Brunch at Bobby's, and it was ERMAHGERD! amazeballs good. Spicy chorizo hash with chile lime hollandaise and pickled jalapeño, fruit and veggie salad with a chile-lime-honey sauce, and sweet corn pancakes with caramelized bananas and a tangy-sweet crema. Highly suggest it. We had it for brinner/dinkfast instead of brunch. I added some baby kale to the chorizo hash for a little nutrition, pickled my own jalapeño (because I didn't want to buy a giant jar of them), used macadamia nuts instead of walnuts in the pancake sauce (because I already had them), and I subbed some different fruit in the fruit salad. I also used less heavy cream in the crema and replaced it with sour cream for a bit more tang. Greek yogurt would have been delicious, too, but I was out. The meal was rounded out with some mango margarita mimosas. And some shots of tequila... 

We had all that fun on Saturday, though. I'm celebrating the actual holiday by declaring my independence from my inner fat girl (who for the last few months has been trying to eat her way to becoming my outer fat girl). Normally my IFG only rears her chins when I have the menses, during which time I crave all things junk and particularly mass quantities of BJ's (Ben & Jerry's, duh), and as I shovel in the first bite, I exclaim, "I call period!" 

Because then the calories don't count. 

Well apparently I've been abusing that power (calling period even when the white pony has long since ridden over the horizon), because my ass and thighs are calling bullshit. So for the next few weeks, I'll be putting a chokehold on my IFG and eating much more restrictively to reset my palate and appetite. Lots of water, veggies, and plant-based proteins, and some fruits and lean animal-based proteins thrown in, too. In other words, Imma be a cranky bitch for the next couple of weeks while IFG learns her place in life (and I can stop needing an elastic waistband). My goal is to get back to the 80/20 rule - 80% of the time, I'm in charge, and 20% of the time, IFG can come out to play. For now, she's grounded. And so are my skinny jeans. 

My foodgasms, however, will remain a top priority, so don't worry your purty mouths about that. I'll be playing around in the kitchen this week with some healthy meal ideas and turning them into healthy meals that will come with a complimentary O-face.

Asian chicken soup is on the menu tonight. I'll be experimenting with shirataki noodles for the first time. We'll see if they're a guilt-free, slurpable sensation or just another limp noodle.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cheese For That Whine?

Yesterday was fun...
if fun is spilling an entire venti latte across the table at the lunch-rush-crowded Target Starbucks. 

And let us add to the fun: 

My toddler and girlfriends are seated at said table. 
One girlfriend's phone is now drowning in coffee. 
The baristas are pretending they didn't see it happen and that they don't hear my 3 year old daughter screamsobbing at her shoes being soaked with coffee.
Starbucks napkins are as effective at cleaning up a spill as cheap toilet paper.

But hey, I saved my girlfriend's purse. Priorities. Dur.

Everything worked out, though. We got it cleaned up. My amazing friends cleaned up while I stood there with my mouth open, in shock from all the fun we'd just had. The baristas eventually brought towels and a new drink for me. My friends asked if they could put it in a sippy cup. The drowned phone is in a bag of rice waiting for tiny asian elves to come and fix it while we sleep drying out. 
There's an Amber Alert out on my pride - let me know if you've seen it. My guess is it's buried in a landfill within a mushy mass of Starbucks napkins.

By dinnertime, I was whiney and tired from a long day. And what goes better with a good whine than some cheesy comfort? 

A spontaneous foodgasm is born.

Romano Chicken with Lemon Broccoli Alfredo
serves 4


For the chicken
4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
3/4 cup finely shredded or grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup ground almonds or Italian style breadcrumbs (or a combination of both)
zest of 1 lemon (reserve the 1/2 the zested lemon for garnish, and use the other half for the pasta)
2 tbs canola oil
1 tbs olive oil

For the pasta
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk (or half and half)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
4 tbs butter
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 crowns of broccoli (preferably with long stalks)
1 cup finely shredded or grated parmesan (preferably parmigiano reggiano)
14 oz fettucine noodles (I used GF brown rice fettucine)

Preheat a large nonstick skillet to medium/medium high heat, and set the oven to its lowest possible temperature. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment - for easy cleanup - and set a cooling rack over top. Reserve. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. 

Prepare the chicken breasts by pounding them out (that's what SHE said) between two sheets of plastic wrap. You want them about 1/2" thick. Start pounding in the center an work your way out.(That's what SHE said.) Season with salt and pepper. Combine the Romano, almonds or breadcrumbs, and the lemon zest in a shallow dish. Add the oils to the hot skillet. Place one chicken breast in the cheese mixture and press it in to adhere the cheese. Flip and repeat, and flip and repeat again until the breast is entirely covered with the mixture (That's what SHE said).

Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil and cook about 4-5 minutes on the first side. After about 3 minutes, use tongs to move the chicken back and forth in the pan a little. Try not to lift the chicken while doing this - the goal is to loosen the coating from sticking to the pan without picking the chicken up - just give the breast a little jiggle (twSs!). While it cooks, coat the next piece of chicken so it's ready to go in the pan when you're ready for it. After 4-5 minutes on the first side, use the tongs to carefully but firmly (that's a technical term) grab the edge of the chicken and flip it over. Hopefully you'll have a beautiful cheesy crust that sticks to the chicken. (On my first go, I didn't wriggle on the first side, and the coating didn't stick - no biggie, I just used the tongs to pick up the bits and piled it on top of the chicken - that piece went to our toddler. The wriggle yielded crispy brown loveliness for the the remaining pieces.) Cook the second side for about 3 minutes and do the wriggle again, then let it finish cooking about another minute. Once cooked, remove the chicken to the prepared rack and keep warm in the oven while you repeat the whole breading/cooking process for the remaining pieces. Remove the skillet from heat and reserve it.

*If you have leftover cheesy crumb mixture, you can put it in a nonstick skillet and brown it to crunchy goodness, or bake it in a 400 degree oven on nonstick foil for the same crunchy result. (The cooking process will get rid of any raw chicken funk.) The crunchy bits make great croutons!

Aggressively salt the boiling water, then add the pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente. 

Add the heavy cream and milk to the reserved skillet, then whisk in the lemon juice. Add the butter and set the skillet over med-low heat, stirring occasionally. Just when the butter melts, remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt as the parmesan you'll add later is very salty).

While the butter melts, prepare the broccoli crowns. Cut off the stalks to separate the crowns into large florets. If you have large stalks, peel them with a vegetable peeler to remove the tough exterior, then julienne them into long, skinny sticks (twSs!). With about 4 minutes remaining in the pasta cooking, add the julienned stalks to the boiling pasta. The cooked stalks will be like broccoli noodles. With about 2 minutes remaining, add the florets (you can add them sooner if you like your broccoli more cooked - I prefer them al dente). Drain the pasta and broccoli and add to the skillet with the cream mixture. Add the shredded parmesan and toss well to combine everything. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Serve the chicken over the pasta with a little squeeze of lemon for garnish, and drown (out) your whiney woes with the naughty sounds of foodgasm.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pucker Up & Say I Love You

Say hello to the holy grail of lemon bars.
Actually, a simple "Hello" doesn't really do these babies justice. Something like, "Hey there, you sexy motherpucker!" would be more appropriate.

Sweet and rich, creamy and crunchy, and then a zing of sour that's so often missing from typical lemon bars. These are LEMON bars, not lemonish bars. These are IT.

I've tried a lot of lemon bar recipes over the years (including Ina's and Carla's), and while they've provided a road map to putting me on the right track, they never quite did it for me. They fell flat of that bright, tart, sour note that hits you in your cheeks and makes you salivate. I liked Ina's aggressive use of lemon zest and how Carla upped the salt ante for a more balanced flavor, but both recipes overpowered the lemon with too much sugar. I'm using 1/3rd less sugar without sacrificing flavor. I'm also adding pine nuts to the shortbread crust (thanks for the trick, Whole Foods!) - they add a great crunchy, yet creamy texture.

Cheeky Lemon Bars

For the crust
1/2 lb unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs lemon zest
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup pine nuts

For the filling
7 eggs
2 (scant) cups sugar
2 tbs lemon zest
1 cup FRESH lemon juice (5-8 lemons, depending on their size)
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 cup flour

confectioners sugar for topping

Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the vanilla and zest. Add the flour and salt and stir to combine. Stir in the pine nuts. Press the mixture into a 9x13" baking pan, then put the pan in the fridge or freezer while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, remove the pan from the fridge/freezer and bake 15-20 minutes until the crust just begins to turn light brown. Cool on a rack. Leave the oven on.

While the crust cools, zest your lemons and then juice them. Whisk the eggs, sugar, zest, juice, and salt together until well combined. Slowly and gradually whisk in the flour. Once the mixture is fully combined, pour it into the semi-cooled crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until just set. Cool to room temperature, then cut into squares or triangles. Dust the tops with confectioners sugar.

Keep refrigerated, but serve at room temperature for the best flavor.