Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stuffed Greek Chicken

I’m a pretty big fan of the stuff-it-and-roll-it method of cooking.  Just collect some ingredients that go well together, pound a piece of meat thin, stuff it, roll it, bake it.  Perfection!  Today for lunch I made stuffed Greek chicken (I decided to eat a bigger lunch because I’ve got plans tonight and don’t know when or where I’ll be able to eat…I don’t want to resort to bar food!).  This is definitely one I’ll try again!

Stuffed Greek Chicken

  • chicken breasts
  • frozen chopped spinach
  • sundried tomatoes, diced
  • kalamata olives, diced
  • minced garlic
  • lemon juice
  • feta cheese

Pound the chicken thin between two sheets of Saran wrap, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, olives, garlic, and lemon juice.

sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, garlic, lemon juice

Thaw out the spinach and squeeze a small amount dry; lay it across the chicken like so:

chicken and spinach

Spoon some of the olive mixture on top, then top with crumbled feta.

ready to roll

Starting with the stuffed end, roll it up and secure with a couple of toothpicks (also use toothpicks to close up the sides so all the good stuff doesn’t squish out!).  Bake in a lightly sprayed pan for ~45 minutes at 350°.

stuffed greek chicken

Awesome.  I served my favorite green bean recipe on the side – some EVOO, salt and pepper, and fresh green beans cooked on low in a skillet for a couple of hours.  AMAZING.

green beans

Double awesome.

lunch

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Just because I “never do” doesn’t mean I ever should

I was doing awesomely well on exercising and eating, and then Tuesday night trivia happened.

Beer #1

 Reuben sandwich

Beer #2

Beer.  Reuben.  Beer.

I went in there having looked at the menu, having decided to order a salad and have just one beer…and then I got caught up yet again.  Why make a bad decision “in the moment” if I planned for a good decision?  It’s so easy to say “screw the salad, I want a giant nasty sandwich that I NEVER have,” but was it really worth it?  It was really good, but it was over quickly (the water retention, however, stayed around a day and a half).  Was the splurge worth the setback?  No!  I need to tattoo this on the back of my hand.  In the moment, I think “my friend is eating X, Y, Z, I should be able to, also,”  or “I NEVER have reubens! It’s ok to have one now!”  Yeah, I might never have reubens, but if I say “I never have this, this, or this” with numerous things, I’m still eating a lot of different crappy things fairly often.  Logic FAIL.  Instead of a tattoo, I’ll try this:

  • Go in with a plan.  Don’t even LOOK at the menu, because the temptation will sway me from my plan.
  • Order water or Diet Coke first, spend a lot of time picking which beer I want, and savor the one.
  • When I’m done with my beer, switch to 100% water or Diet Coke and DON’T LOOK BACK.

I was faced with challenges yesterday, too, and I did better but I’m still not calling it 100% successful.  Mom had the day off, so instead of working on things that I needed to do, I spent the day gallivanting with her.  Responsibilities put off for another day.  [shakes head]

We did go to the gym where I did try to run, but I think the residual effects of my beer/reuben bender were still messing with me.  I made it 12 minutes, felt too heavy and blah to continue, and left the gym dejected and pissed off.  For lunch, we went somewhere I hadn’t been in years – the Flight Deck.

Flight Deck

The decor and menu are aviation-themed.  So cute!

Flight Deck

Flight Deck

I had the Avenger - “hot buttered pita bread topped with strips of grilled marinated chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and Greek cucumber yogurt sauce” – sans tomatoes (because they’re a thing of the devil) and butter (because it was unnecessary!).  With green beans on the side.  Yay good choice!

Greek wrap and green beans

Their dessert case is insaaaayne, and I wanted something from it so badly but decided against it.  Yay another good choice!  Instead, I got one of these little chocolate squares when I picked up a couple of things from World Market.

Dark chocolate square 

I will mention that later that evening, we saw Despicable Me in 3D – such a good movie!!  But I won’t mention we shared popcorn and Reese’s Pieces.  I sound like a broken record, but I never get snacks at the movie.  So why did I this time?  Who knows…

Do you have any tricks for sticking to your guns in a high-temptation situation?  How do you balance feeling good about your choices and possibly feeling deprived when others are indulging?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eggplant Parmigiana Lasagna Stacks

As I mentioned in my last eggplant-themed post, sometimes they pose a real conundrum for me.  The skin, the seeds, the texture…they’re not things I’m used to.

eggplant slices

I was intrigued when I saw Katie’s recipe for Eggplant (Non) Parmesan, so I decided to give it a whirl with my own tweaks.  It ended up being way higher in calories than it should’ve been, but I know what to do next time!

I dipped each eggplant slice in egg + milk and then coated in panko + corn flour, then I pan-fried it.  Here’s my mistake…I don’t think the oil got hot enough to do its thang.  It ended up tasting ok, but it soaked up way too much oil, and we had a smoke situation when the little crusty bits fell off and spent too much time in the pan.  Oops. 

I layered the eggplant slices with low-fat ricotta cheese, homemade spaghetti sauce, and low-fat mozzarella to make an eggplant parmesan/lasagna hybrid.

eggplant parmigiana lasagna stack

Lesson learned?  Lightly coat the eggplant slices in spray oil and bake them next time, don’t fry.  Other than that, it was a neat concept I’ll definitely repeat!

Other things I did this weekend?  Put these together…

pinup Catherines shower invites

…for a bridal shower I’m throwing for this chick:

Catherine

I hope everything turns out like the vision in my head, because I’ve got some neato stuff planned!  We got together on Sunday at a marina near my house to see Catherine’s fiancee’s band play, and a good time was had by all.  smile_shades

DSC_6068 DSC_6069

What’s the most fun bridal shower you’ve been to?  Do you like to play dorky games?  I’m open for some planning ideas!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Every breath you take

Here’s a picture I took of myself today in the locker room (with my horrible Blackberry camera)

Kat, post-run

…icky and sweaty but happy and excited because I ran for 30 minutes, side stitch free!  I attribute this accomplishment to:

  • A trick Kendra told me about – apparently you should try exhaling when your left foot strikes if you’re prone to side stitches. 
  • I breathed in slowly through my nose and purse my lips when I exhaled through my mouth.
  • I gave myself permission to stop running in order to catch my breath as I needed.  While I don’t have asthma, sometimes it’s hard for me to catch my breath, even during normal daily activities.  Sometimes I have to stop and adjust my posture in order to get a full, satisfying breath, and that’s what I did today while I ran. 
  • I employed deep yogic breathing as best I could (though I sometimes resorted to the flailing, gasping fish method I’m so accustomed to), and if I felt my breathing was too shallow, I walked a few seconds until I could satisfy a breath to the bottom of my lungs.

Rambling possibilities aside, the take-home message here is that today I concentrated on my breathing instead of my speed or my distance, and my lungs carried me as far as my legs could take me.  I probably could’ve kept going, but I set my goal for 30 minutes (the longest I’ve ever run is about 25 minutes, and that was in the spring!) and quit while I was ahead.  My legs felt like jell-o afterward…they’ve got some catching up to do!

Have you had to re-adjust your breathing during a certain type of exercise?  Did you find it hard to concentrate on something that habitual?  After awhile, did your new breathing patterns become second nature?

Raving about Recipes

For dinner last night, I wanted to do something simple and clean, and I had some chicken breasts I wanted to use but couldn’t decide what to do with them.  In swoops Christie at the right moment with this fabulous recipe for Pomegranate Chicken!

Pomegranate chicken

I marinated it for an hour before throwing it on the grill.  It was herby and flavorful, and I’ll totally make it again!  Alongside it, I made a salad but was a little heavy-handed with the gorgonzola.  Oops.

Salad

In other recipe news, I was honored to be asked to contribute a recipe for the Woman’s Day website!  They wanted a lightened-up version of a classic comfort food, and it just so happened I made pulled pork the day I got the request.  What goes better with pulled pork than lightened-up coleslaw?  Check out the page – my humble little recipe is in good company alongside some tasty-looking fare from some other fab bloggers!  Thanks, Woman’s Day!

What’s your favorite simple foods dish or comfort food?  Have you ever tried to make a healthified version of a typically calorie-dense recipe?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Creating logical arguments with myself

I’m trying to keep an objective view of what I’ve done right in the past 24 hours instead of dwelling on what I’ve done wrong.  Hopefully seeing this logical argument “on paper” will help me realize I’m not as bad off as I think.  Since yesterday, I have:

  • Kicked ass at yoga once again, feeling strong and sexy in the process.  Kat: 1, Funk: 0
  • Started the 100 Pushups program Kat: 2, Funk: 0
  • Made an awesome meal I haven’t made in awhile – Moroccan Spiced Pork with a gorgonzola sauce, sauteed squash, and I threw together a garlic parmesan risotto at the last minute (if you can even say that about risotto). Kat: 3, Funk: 0

squash, risotto, and Moroccan-spiced pork

  • Had a doctor’s appointment; lost 2 lbs, and my blood pressure was 125/75 Kat: 4, Funk: 0
  • Went to Fresh Market to buy coffee, resisted bulk bin junk food  Kat: 5, Funk: 0
  • Brought cupcakes to Mom and her co-workers, ate one myself  We’ll call this one a draw – karma wins, diet loses
  • Went to the gym Kat: 6, Funk: 0
  • Took pictures of myself at the gym because I thought I looked ok Kat: 7, Funk: 0

back sidefront 

  • Could only focus on my arms/stomach/hips trouble spots and how goofy I look when I don’t smile  Kat: 7, Funk: 1
  • Ran for only 9 minutes, got angry that I couldn’t push through a stupid side stitch and tried to do the elliptical.  Only made it 5 minutes due to sore quads, got even angrier and went super fast and furious for 5 minutes on the rowing machine until my back hurt.  this one’s probably a draw, too.  I ended up letting the mental barriers get in my way, but I did try to get around them first
  • Went to the grocery store for various staples and dinner components, resisted chocolate. Kat: 8, Funk: 1
  • Realized I was super-hungry and ate a Publix Cuban sandwich as big as my head ON THE WAY HOMEKat: 8, Funk 2

Good behaviors won out over bad, and yet I’m still having trouble not letting the bad take over.  Seeing it written down helps put it into perspective, though!  I’m doing ok, I didn’t fall off the wagon, I went to the gym and am making an effort to make exercise a daily routine again.  I’ve got mantras repeating over and over in my head, and I’ll be ok if I keep reminding myself and practicing.

Have you ever had to logically argue your way out of irrational worry/guilt?  Have you done the 100 Pushups plan?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Crack-laced hummus and mental hurdles

Saturday night was one of those nights where I opted to live instead of blog, and I definitely regret that decision.  My friends Deidra and Arthur had a lowcountry boil at their house, and I only took 6 pictures, and all of the same thing…WTF?

Lowcountry Boil

I wanted to document them dumping out the shrimp/corn/potato/sausage concoction, but then I was too befuddled by my own plate (or my social anxiety) that I didn’t pick my camera up the rest of the night.  Too bad, because the food was good and the beer pong table was rockin’.

Last night, Mom and I went out to dinner at a local Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant, Al-Amir.  They’ve got tons of different dishes to choose from, but I’ve got a go-to favorite I rarely veer from.  I started with a feta cheese salad

Feta cheese salad

…before having the orgasmic Damascus Hummus.

Damascus hummus

It’s topped with chicken and roasted veggies and tahini and crack, I’m sure.  The bread they serve it with is so soft and amazing and…ahhh I want some more.  Sadly, I ate my leftovers for breakfast this morning (I just couldn’t wait for lunch).  The only reason I even had leftovers is because I knew we wanted gelato which they make in-house.  I had the dulce de leche, and they certainly added some flair to it.

Dulce de leche gelato

Snazzy, right?  Yesterday after writing my emotionally intense, neurotic post, I headed to the gym to run it off.  I cranked up my angry rock and ran hard and fast; too hard and fast, because I only lasted like 12 minutes.  I don’t understand what my hang-up is about running.  Do I get bored?  Can I try harder to push through those exhausted legs and side stitches that seem to plague me every time I try?  Why can’t don’t I ever make it past 10-15 minutes, even when I slow my pace?  Running is so mental – when I decided I’d take a break to walk, I had no hope of starting up again because my iPod kept acting up and there were several other people on the track by that point.  I can’t stand running when there are others on the track.  What can I say?  I’m an only child – we don’t share well.

Today Lofton and I went to Zumba for the first time in a month or two, and we tried a different class and teacher.  I still sweated a lot, but I didn’t get nearly the workout I have from Zumba in the past.  I miss my old class and favorite teacher, but it’s SO crowded during her class nowadays that I’ve avoided going back.  It’s funny the excuses I use to talk myself out of trying harder, huh?  But seriously, the teacher makes ALL the difference in the world, right?

I’m going to yoga tonight and I’m SO excited.  I haven’t been in about 2 weeks and I miss it so much.  My body feels tight, I’m not breathing as easily, and I’ve felt so on edge lately that it’ll be therapeutic to just move and stretch and breeeeeathe.

When you’ve had a mental hangup in the past about exercise, what did you do to get past it?  What are some of your favorite angry running songs?  Paramore and Linkin Park made a few appearances during my fast-and-furious stint yesterday.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What if it’s not the weight?

What if it’s not the weight?  What if I reach my goal weight/size/feeling and am still not confident?  What if it’s not my weight that has turned people off, but my personality?  What if I’m still socially awkward and single forever?

This whole battle-with-weight thing has so many vicious cycles; you’re fat, you’re depressed, you eat more to seek comfort, you avoid people because you’re embarrassed, you resent that people don’t reach out to you more (can you blame them?) and you end up digging yourself in deeper.  You lose weight, you gain confidence, you start dressing better because suddenly clothes look better, you let your real personality shine through, and people should gravitate toward you, right? 

When I weighed 270 lbs, I was ok with social situations because I didn’t have to be a part of them.  I just assumed I wasn’t worthy of being an active participant in society, so most of the pressure was off.  I could be wacky and loud and obnoxious and not care what people thought, because – since I didn’t consider myself an active social participant – I had nothing to lose.  Now, my veil is gone (or at least it’s not as thick).  This is ME now.  I can’t blame social shortcomings on my weight anymore (well, I still do because I’m still overweight, but it’s not as bad as it was).  I used to say, “oh they don’t want to hang out with me because I’m fat,” or “he might be into my personality, but I don’t blame him for not wanting to date a fat girl.”  Now…it’s just me.

So if people who knew me then are more interested in me now, does that mean that they’re shallow?  Does it mean that I truly act different than I did then, liberated from the fat shield I hid behind?  If new people don’t initiate or continue conversations or want to hang out now, is it because they don’t like ME as a person?

It’s a very strange thing to re-evaluate your place in society when weight is no longer (as big an) elephant in the room and to try to figure out who you really are again.  I’ve been hiding or trying too hard for so long that I don’t know what I’m really like, so how can I expect others to gravitate toward my personality if I haven’t found it yet?

I’ve been trying to be more social lately, going outside of my comfort zone to initiate activities and putting myself out there a little more.  As a result, I’ve been dealing with a dull roar of anxiety for a week or two.  I’m hoping that if I keep practicing, the discomfort will go away, but in the meantime my stomach is so full of butterflies I feel I could float away (or just pass out).  I want to get to the point where I don’t overanalyze every little thing that happens, where I don’t need to chug two beers before deciding I can strike up conversations, where I don’t choke back tears at the thought of following through with plans, where I can just be NORMAL.  But in the meantime, I’m still contributing to the anxiety by wondering “what if it’s not the weight?”

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Italian stuffed eggplant

As part of our CSA, we’ve gotten several eggplants in the past couple of weeks.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve had eggplant in my life, so I’m ashamed to say I’ve been avoiding them just a tad.  I even had to toss out a squishy moldy casualty last night.  Monsieur Aubergine, I do apologize for failing you.

Thinking back to the stuffed zucchini I made last week, I decided to try my hand at adapting the recipe for eggplant and making an entire meal out of it.

 

Italian stuffed eggplant

I sauteed some diced chicken in a skillet with EVOO and garlic and set it aside in a big bowl of tomato sauce and fresh chopped basil where I’d eventually mix everything together.  I started out with one small can of sauce but had to add another.

diced chicken, basil, and tomato sauce 

I used two smallish eggplants, removed their little hats, and sliced them lengthwise.  Using my trusty grapefruit spoon, I removed the insides and chopped some of them up to include in the dish. 

eggplants

halved and hollowed eggplants

In a skillet with EVOO, I sautéed baby bella mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, and the diced eggplant.

veggies to be sautéed

sautéed veggies

I threw the sautéed veggies into the bowl with the basil, chicken, and tomato sauce and added a healthy sprinkle of dried oregano and a handful of mozzarella cheese.  I spooned the mixture into each hollowed eggplant half and sprinkled with even MORE cheese.  Mmm…cheese.

stuffed eggplants ready to be baked

They went into a 375° oven for 30 minutes and came out beautifully!

stuffed eggplants

stuffed eggplant

I ate the whole thing, skin and all.  Do people normally eat the skin?  It was a little tough, but a sharp steak knife took care of it.  Plus, most of the fiber and nutrients are most likely in the skin, right?  I’m glad I used two eggplants, because now I’ve got leftovers for lunch!

What’s your favorite eggplant recipe?  I’ve got another one or two in the fridge and I need some ideas on how to use it!  I might attempt some eggplant fries if I’m feeling confident enough…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wherein I totally nerd out on a metaphor

Clearly I’m stalking Roni, one recipe at a time.

DSC_5848

I’ve gotta say, that cabbage recipe is BALLER.  I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of cabbage (unless it’s sauerkraut on a brat or reuben sandwich), but I like it well enough.  When I’ve made it before, it’s typically been steamed and covered in butter or some reasonable-ish facsimile and liberally sprinkled with salt.  However, this recipe was just fine on its own, no high-calorie condiments needed!  I even left out the bacon (due to lack of supply) and threw the foil-wrapped cabbage on the grill.  The end result was amazing!  If you’ve typically shied away from cabbage before, try it this way!

In other news, I’ve officially lost 80 lbs, and I feel like I’ve finally broken through the eating funk that’s been plaguing me lately.  No bingeing, no eating when I’m not hungry…I feel better about where things are going.  I’ve got a lot of social eating situations this week, so I’ve got to continue to try harder to keep it in check.  Meredith was SO RIGHT about the snowball effect – one good choice/behavior/activity breeds another.  In a metaphor of ultimate nerdiness, it’s like friction (y’all know I love my metaphors).  It takes a lot of energy to start moving against static friction, but once you’ve got the object in motion, it requires less energy to keep moving it against oppositional frictiony forces.  Too geeky?  Meh, it’s how I roll.  Once I make a good choice for lunch, I want to continue the streak for dinner.  Once I eat well for dinner, I want to go to the gym the next day.  Just gotta keep this ball rolling…

Have you found any good recipes that have made you appreciate a “meh” food?  (I’m still looking for one to make brussels sprouts less putrid!) What’s your best trick to ensure continued motivation when you finally find it?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Liquor and Lace and a quicky sewing project

On Saturday night, I went over to Catherine and Scotty’s house for an engagement party/couple’s shower being thrown for them. 

Catherine and Scotty

The theme was “Liquor ‘n’ Lace” – the bastard child of a “stock the bar” party and a lingerie shower.  People brought gifts of liquor and sexy lingerie – I think both the bride and groom can benefit from both of those gifts, amiright?  smile_wink

I think she liked my gifts; the Patron tequila was immediately opened and shot, and the panties were immediately donned…

Catherine

sorta.

Yesterday started off relaxing – I watched streaming Netflix movies from the Wii (there really are very few reasons to leave the house anymore) and went through magazines that have been piling up on my desk for months while I enjoyed my coffee.  Definitely the best way to spend a Sunday morning.

Coffee, magazines, and movies in bed

Later when I went out to run errands, though, I nearly had a panic attack – I couldn’t remember if I had blown out the candle on my dresser!  I knew that even if it was burning, it’d probably be ok since the wick was far down in the jar, but I just couldn’t relax until I got home…only to see that the candle was out and had been out for some time.  I hate that I didn’t pay better attention, because the anxiety totally killed my calm buzz!  I HATE feeling absent-minded!

For lunch yesterday, I had a salad I’ve been craving for awhile – blueberries and low-fat feta cheese on romaine and spring mix with Marzetti’s Raspberry Cabernet Vinaigrette dressing.

blueberry, feta, raspberry cabernet dressing

So light and refreshing!

My big project this weekend required the use of my sewing machine – making curtains for the garage windows.  Boring, tedious, but it gave me a sense of accomplishment.  Sometimes there’s nothing better than having a finished product in-hand after a few hours of effort.  Even better than the curtains, though, is what I made when I wasn’t quite ready to put away the sewing machine.

This fabric…

Paisley fabric 

…got magically transformed into…

yoga mat bag

A yoga mat bag!  I’ve never had one before!  I always use a strap of elastic to hold my mat together, but it was starting to fall apart and leave unsightly cinch marks on my mat.  This bag is MUCH more fashionable, IMHO.  It was supposed to have a drawstring, but…math is hard, y’all (I mis-measured).  Plus, a drawstring would just slow me down.  Now I need to get my ass back to class to show it off!

What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday?  Favorite refreshing summer salad recipe?  Do you sew or do crafty things?