Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another year passes

The past year has been an 'up and down' affair. Sometimes you get so busy with life you can forget to stop and take stock of the important things. After losing forty pounds, eating righteously and exercising routinely I fell out of practice. I saw an old episode of Gillian McKeith's 'You Are What You Eat' television show on my DVR and it snapped me back into reality. Thanks Gillian. Looking back over many of the recipes we've tried and photographed makes me want to eat well once again. Time to get to work and do it all over again. I will post more photos and recipes over the next few days. There are several I'm anxious to try.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Checking back in

It has been a long time since my last post. Lost some more weight...then gained it back. Sigh. Oh well. I am getting more and more into cooking again. One thing unrelated to cooking but also important is a great resource for rental homes in Tampa, FL. If you are in Tampa you should check out for finding your next rental home.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Healthy(ish) no-sugar added chocolate chip scones

My wife came across a recipe for healthy scones and I'm here to tell you that it just doesn't get any better than these.  The ingredients are simple:  1 egg, oatmeal, butter, honey, whole wheat pastry flower and grain-sweetened chocolate chips (from the health food market).  It took about fifteen minutes to prepare and another fifteen in the oven.  Scones are supposed to be evil but these are actually quite reasonable.  They taste out of this world good!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gillian McKeith's incredible 'Mediterranean Sweet Potato Pizza'

This is NOT fast food but it is delicious, filling and incredibly healthy.    Even the kids go wild for this pizza.  The toppings are entirely up to you but it is wise to be careful with what you choose.  If you are like me and love meat on your pizza, I'd recommend using lots of mushrooms.  it gives you a hearty flavor and a pleasing 'mouth feel'.  

You have to start with preparation of the crust.  Olive oil, baking powder, oregano, basil and whole wheat flower.

It is a good idea to carefully peel your sweet  potato before boiling or you'll end up (like me) fishing out the skins for a lot longer time than you'd think.   I chose to go with some frozen veggies to include in the topping.  Normally, I'd prefer to use fresh but I was feeling like I needed to rush (Sunday afternoons always seem to get away from me).  The trick to keep in mind is to thaw and thoroughly dry your frozen veggies or you'll end up with a soggy crust.  

One of the most satisfying parts of making this pizza is the sauce.  It is easy and really adds flavor and character to your pizza.  When it is this easy and tastes this good it seems almost criminal to use a pre-made (and preservative-laden) pizza sauce.  You can even do like I did and use canned, diced tomatoes.  Add in some onion, garlic, some oregano and a few other spices (to taste) and you've got a sauce you'll not soon forget.

The crust must be blended and you should not be afraid to add as much wheat flower as necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands too much.  Working the crust is probably the most trying part of the recipe.  It loves to stick to your fingers and anything else it comes in contact with - until the flour mixture is right.  Trial and error will tell you when it is right.  

The fun is just about to begin.  You have to first pat out the crusts into pizza form.  Next is adding the sauce onto the crust.  You don't have to use too much sauce to get lots of flavor.  Just ladle it on and tamp it down slightly and you are ready to add toppings.  Be sure to put lots of veggies all over the pizza.  I find red, green and yellow peppers give tremendous flavor and make this pizza have a very 'up-market' sort of feel.  

One of the most surprising things is you don't need to use any cheese whatsoever to make this thing feel and taste like a pizza.  I find that using just a small amount of shredded (fresh) romano cheese is enough to give you the taste of cheese without having tons of the stuff that your stomach is forced to digest.  Words don't do this pizza justice.  It isn't fast to make.  I recommend making a double-batch so you can freeze some left-overs and enjoy the luxury of healty pizza over and over again.  It is very dense so you will probably not be able to eat even half the amount of this pizza that you would with something you'd order from a pizza shop.  It fills you up and gives you super nutrients that will give you the fuel you need to feel good for hours afterward.

This recipe will take about an hour or so to make once you are familiar with how it works.  A food processor is likely to be a way to make your preparation time faster.  I bought some nice knives and enjoy chopping and doing everything by hand.  I admit it is an unnecessary step but there is something very rewarding about bringing out the personality of this recipe with your own two hands.  

I hope this very lengthy discription helps to encourage you to get off the couch and into the kitchen.  Gillian McKeith is the owner of this recipe and I am all too happy to give her all the credit for this wonderful family-favorite.  Her show has made a huge difference in my life and I would encourage anyone who is interested in living a healthy (and satisfying) lifestyle to set their DVR to record every episode of her show and check out her books.

Healthy Pumpkin muffins

My wife found a recipe on a website (not sure which one) that was dedicated to cooking with honey.  She's an awesome researcher!  She uses honey as a replacement for sugar, whole wheat pastry flower and pumpkin puree.  These things are so good that I could easily chow down on a half-dozen.  That might not be advisable though because these muffins are packed with fiber.  Hard to believe it could be so loaded with nutrients and fiber when it smells so wonderful and tastes so light and fluffy.  How can this actually be good for me?! 

It doesn't take too long to make and is absolutely worth the effort.  Easy for me to say, of course, because my wife always makes it.  I just look on and pace nervously as they cook in the oven.  I don't enjoy waiting.  I am the cook and she is the baker - it is a very good balance.  Cooking rewards the curious whereas baking is much more demanding and precise.  Definitely not my strong suit.  

Why I moved away from Atkins and an awesome salad

For most of my friends, they'd probably be shocked to see me eating this kind of food.  After watching Gillian McKeith in BBC America's show 'You are what you eat'   I just couldn't bring myself to continue eating a high-fat, low-carb Atkins-style diet.  I enjoyed eating Atkins but the part I hated was the cravings for sweets and the way my body would rebel once in a while and make me feel awful because I wouldn't give in to my cravings for fruit, carbs, sugar, etc...  If I didn't give in, I might lose more weight but I felt irritable until I succumbed to whatever it is that I felt I just had to have.  Once I gave in, my body would punish me and absorb a lot of weight in record time.  What is worse is that if I ever would go off the diet for a while and say, enjoy a holiday, I'd come crashing back to reality when I stepped on the scale and discovered I had gained ten pounds or perhaps even more.  That just cannot be healthy.  I knew it but didn't know what else to do.  Enter Gillian and her butt-kicking ways with English fatties.  It is great fun to sit back and watch the sparks fly when it is on television but the awful truth is that I've been every bit as bad as most of her guests.   The one other reason I felt I had to move away from Atkins was the constipation issue.  There's no gentle way to put it other than just tell it like it is.  No matter how much water I drank and salad I ate, I still was constantly battling constipation.  No longer.  

It is amazing what eating lots and lots of fresh, whole foods will do for you.  I am feeling significantly better now.  My wife and kids are likewise, feeling the benefits of eating well.  We have a lot still to learn but it is fun and tasty.  I am still going to enjoy steak every once in a while but I just don't want it the way I used to.  I used to be slave to my vices.  They are gone and the weight is steadily leaving my body.  

More tasty (but healthy) food

My daughter calls these, 'Rockin' fruit kabobs'.  Fresh mango, strawberries, green grapes and canned pineapple tidbits.  Easy to make and the kabobs add lots of flair that makes the kids really want to love 'em.

A simple meal of seasoned, grilled chicken and a salad of romaine lettuce and fresh grated parmesan cheese.  Easy and delicious.  I will confess I am a slave to McCormick's Grill Mates® Mesquite Marinade.  It never fails to get appreciative 'wows' from my family and guests whenever I use it to marinade my chicken.  I do try to limit my use of sauces but this is the one I love to grill with whenever I get the chance.
A lovely sandwich prepared with Boars Head Black Forest turkey, Boars Head pickles (the absolute best pickle on the planet), diced fresh tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano and organic balsamic vinagrette dressing.  This turkey is one of the best-tasting and healthy meats I've ever found.  Don't take my word for it, Calorie Count is a great independent resource for verifying many of the foods you eat.  An astute observer will likely notice that the bread of this sandwich is white.  I'm guilty as charged.  My deli was out of wheat hoagie rolls so I went with white instead. It would have been much better for me had I even used regular wheat sandwich bread.  Oh well, what are you going to do?  We live in an imperfect world and sometimes certain sacrifices are made.