Monday, October 25, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Kick Your Lean Cuisine Up a Notch

Today, while eating my standard Asian Lean Cuisine, along with a very boring green salad with shredded carrots and rice wine vinegar, I had a stroke of genius. (Perhaps I exaggerate, but I was very excited). If I combined the two, and added some fresh herbs (mint, Thai basil), chopped green onions and siracha (red chili garlic sauce) I would have a very close replication of one of my favorite lunches. At Miss Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant in Coral Gables, my favorite dish is the Miss Saigon Noodle bowl. It is a big bowl of noodles, mixed with chopped lettuce, shredded carrots, grilled chicken, grilled shrimp and (the best part) sliced spring rolls. They bring it to the table with chopsticks and the siracha, ask you how hot you like it and toss it together for you right there. It is delicious, but as for calories, I wouldn't even want to guess. Taking an Asian Lean Cuisine (this one was 260 calories), you know exactly what you're getting and the rice wine vinegar is only 20 calories per tablespoon, the siracha and herbs- zero. And the taste, priceless. It really improves the flavor and sneaks a couple of the six servings of veggies you're supposed to have each day. Luckily, my mint is going crazy in my garden and I'd just bought some Thai basil at a plant sale, which has a lovely, licorice flavor that is perfect complement to Asian cuisine. There are other Asian Lean Cuisines you could use this idea with- Chicken with Peanut sauce, or my new favorite Thai Chicken Noodle; in fact any Asian entree with noodles will work beautifully. As Rachel Ray says so perkily- Yummo!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Don't Be Tricked by your Treats!

Buying Halloween Candy weeks ahead of Halloween rarely works out, especially if it's a candy you like. But it's so tempting, the huge colorful bags lined up as you walk into the grocery store, like sandbags preventing a flood. I did buy candy early this year because I had a Halloween Bunko party, but deliberately bought candy I would not be tempted to eat. That is why you see Wintergreen Lifesavers (only 20 calories each and individually wrapped so you can't just toss them into your mouth), Autumn Mix (150 calories per 22 pieces but I don't like it) and pumpkin seeds mixed with Dark Chocolate M & M's, which I have been trying to avoid. While this choice seems healthy, I'm sure is loaded with calories, healthy or not.

Halloween seems to usher in the season of overeating, and weight gain. It starts with the Halloween candy and continues on through the pig-out known as Thanksgiving and then, of course, all the food that goes with the festivities of Christmas and other holidays, ending with champagne on New Year's Eve and a resolution to do better next year. Here, to give you a head start, are some Halloween candies that won't break your calorie budget, along with others you should avoid at all costs. ("I'd Turn Back If I Were You!")

  • 3 Musketeers 63 calories for 3.

  • Dum Dum lollipop 77 calories for 3.

  • Tootsie Roll 50 calories for 2 small pieces.

  • Now and Later 53 calories for 4 pieces

  • Reese's bite size peanut butter cups 72 calories for 2 pieces.

AVOID Butterfingers, Twix bars, Reese's pumpkin bars and Milk Maid Caramels like the Black Plague.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Fall Back

In South Florida, when Fall comes, you barely notice it. Then one day, the temperature drops slightly, it's not as sticky outside, stone crabs are back in season, and you know Fall has arrived. While very subtle, I have always noticed a difference to the angle of light outside in the Fall and Fall has always been my favorite season. New beginnings, football games, hot apple cider and reading The Scarlet Letter while waiting for the city bus to pick me up, are my memories of Fall. I think of how it was "in the old days", before air conditioning changed our lives and how much of our conversations revolved around the weather. Now we retreat to our chilled boxes when it gets too hot, but I'm sure in those days, a dip in the weather was a cause to rejoice. And it still is. That, and pumpkin recipes, good maple syrup, apples, fresh stone crabs, kids trick or treating and that certain angle of light outside this time of year. Celebrate Fall in all it's glory.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ The Zen of Rapberries

Raspberries. Lovely and delicious, but very perishable. As I was popping one into my mouth yesterday, I told my husband "Have a raspberry. They're only 10 calories each!" as I continued popping, mindlessly. And that was the problem. Mindlessly. Yes, they only have 10 calories, but if I pop ten of them, there's 100 calories and it's these extra "discretionary calories", ones we don't really need but eat anyway, that are preventing me from losing weight. Although if you have to spend those calories on some treat, fresh fruit is a pretty virtuous way to do it. For me, they are usually spent on a glass of white wine, or a piece of dark chocolate. I have been enjoying Lindt's Touch of Sea Salt lately. Sounds gross but is oh so good. But the point is, SAVOR that raspberry. Don't pop it. I always remember Oprah interviewing this lady who had been imprisoned unjustly and was released and she asked her what she missed most when she was in prison. Her answer? Fresh raspberries. So savor that little ten calorie raspberry as if you were in prison for ten years and were eating your first one after your release. If you don't like raspberries, eat blueberries... or whatever! You get my point.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Upsides to the Down Economy/ Time in a Bottle

Last week I got an ominous phone call from my Dr's office saying my blood test showed an "abnormal" result. I spent the weekend worrying about it until I could get in to the doctor. It turns out, my cholesterol is high, which is actually normal for me, but it got me thinking about life in those few days I pondered my mortality. I recently read an article asking the reader to consider what they would do if they had #1 24 hours left in life #2 1 year and #3 10 years. So, as I went for a walk and tried to put the worry out of my mind, I contemplated my answers. If I only had a day, I would want to spend it surrounded my my family saying goodbye. If I had a year, the thought that came to me was: take more walks. Also, travel more. At ten years, the first thought was: Do more with my writing and then, learn Spanish (a constant goal I have yet to fulfill) and travel. It seems our bucket list shortens to the essentials, the less time we have. Since I am 50, I probably (hopefully) have at least twenty more good years left. In that time, besides the aforementioned goals I would like to: Have more fun, laugh more, love more. The question is why aren't I living those goals right now? Why indeed?