Watching our girlish figure

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A little while ago, Ray decided he was going on a diet.  He was not happy with his body and decided to change it.  I jumped at the chance for two reasons:

1.)  I’m a firm believer that all you have is your health.  Money, people, and things come and go, but your health sticks with your forever and decides your future more than anything else.

2.)  I like the challenge of making tasty meals that are both healthy and something he will still eat, because he’s a picky eater.

My first step in overhauling our diet was to cut out red meat.  Not entirely, because even I, little miss former vegetarian, enjoys a good medium-rare steak now and then.  But in our everyday diet, I say our red meat consumption has gone down around 80%.  I substituted ground turkey for ground beef and it does just fine.  We primarily eat chicken, pork, and fish.

The second step is to get rid of excess sugars and snacks.  No more cookies.  No more pop (even if I really miss Coca Cola).  This wasn’t so hard.

The next step is cutting corners.  You don’t have to solely eat skinny salads and drink ice water to lose weight.  Little changes and substitutions can make a world of good, though that’s not to say it should be your only plan of attack.  Using 98% fat-free canned soups (as I am prone to using in the Winter), using less or no butter, even cutting out a single egg yolk (while leaving the white) in an omelette can make a difference.

The last step is more vegetables. They are so much better for you and the amount most American’s eat is disappointing.  I find them immensely delicious and preferable to meat.  Ray does not quite agree.  This one was a touch tougher.  Ray likes veggies, but the list of veggies he likes is a shorter one.  Sending veggies in his lunch was not well received, so we went and picked up a case of V8 in individual cans up at Sam’s Club.  Two servings of veggies in each can.  Plus it’s tasty.  The only sad part is Ray insisted they be for lunches alone, and not to be enjoyed in the house.

I’ve been thinking of other ways to rebuild our diet, and my mind sprung to a more Asian-styled diet.  It’s no secret I love traditional Japanese (and Chinese) cuisine.  They are often complex meals with lean protein and lots of vegetables.  Ideal for many people watching their waistline.  The drawback is the sodium.  Ray is also watching his sodium intake for medical reasons so I have to keep that in mind too.

I gravitate towards the Japanese-styled diet because the health benefits are apparent.  The Japanese are some of the most long-lived people of the world, and their culture places emphasis on fresh ingredients and seasonal dishes.  The food is visually appealing with plenty of umami.   It is delicious and good for you, holistically speaking.  In the spirit of the theme, I want to cook more fish and use less boxed ingredients when making my meals.

My work has paid off, and Ray lost ten pounds, which he was pleased about.  It emboldens me and makes me think of how to shape up favorites so that they are healthier.  My next big project is gumbo.  I love gumbo, especially after having some at my friend Rochelle’s house in Virginia, courtesy of her step-dad.  Yet gumbo is laden with calories and salt.  I need to make it so that it is both delicious but waist-conscious.  It can be done.  I know it and I will find a way.  I will post pictures of the results, along with a rough nutritional estimate.

So expect tasty but trimmer recipes in the future!

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Ray’s Chili

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All-American

My friend Rochelle got ahold of me one evening to ask about possibly doing a photoshoot with food.  She was looking to beef up her portfolio, and I like taking pictures of tasties.  Sounds like a win-win, no?  So we set up a photography play-date.

But what should we make?  I ran through several ideas, but I wanted to do something a little different.  While strolling through the grocery store, my boyfriend mentioned in passing that he wanted to make some chili sometime soon.  Lightbulb moment!  I decided to not only take pictures of the chili, but to feature Ray’s recipe here in my blog.  A guest feature of sorts.  So we grabbed our ingredients and ran home with them, and I sat back to watch Ray work.

Recipe behind the jump.

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Grandma’s Peanut Butter Cookies

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Grandma's Peanut Butter Cookies

I’ve mentioned in the “About Me” section that one of the things I got after my grandmother’s passing was her hand-written recipes, most of which are for cookies and bread.  It’s the cookie recipes I cherish the most, but for as long as I’ve had them, I’ve not made anything out of them.

I decided to change that.  Recipe to follow.

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Thanksgiving: Turkey

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Thanksgiving is approaching, and people are starting to get things together for the big day.  And what is Thanksgiving without the main event?  That’s right.  Turkey.  The centerpiece to Thanksgiving dinners for generations.  How could I not post a recipe for Turkey?

Well here I go, then.

Turkey can be a pain to cook.  The problem with turkey (or any fowl for that matter) is it is comprised of both light and dark meat, both of which require different cooking methods and temperatures to come out just right.  Dark Meat usually requires a slightly higher temperature to cook properly, but doing that often dries out the breast meat.  Simply put, you need to find middle ground.

On top of that, turkey, just like chicken, can dry out and become bland and flavorless.  You cannot just unwrap a turkey, throw it in the oven, and expect nirvana on a plate when you take it out.  You really have to work with turkey.  You must soak it in a brine to lock in the moisture, you must cook it at the proper temperature, you must add seasonings.

And so, I shall tell you my methods for an excellent Thanksgiving Day turkey.

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Thanksgiving: Stuffing

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Stuffing is one of those things you cannot go without on Thanksgiving.  It’s practically required, right behind mashed potatoes and turkey.  So, yet again, I’m going to present a Grandma Original Recipe, for stuffing.

I do understand though that a lot of concern has been had about actually putting the stuffing in your Bird of Choice due to the possibility of salmonella contamination.  This recipe can also be adapted to cooking separately in a pyrex dish and will come out just as good.

I must say though, I will be referring to this dish as stuffing regardless of whether you stuff it into your Bird of Choice, or if you cook it separately (which is technically called “dressing.)  Where I am from (Pittsburgh) the stuff you make with bread, veggies, and spices that you can put into your Bird of Choice is called stuffing.  So there.

Anyway.

Recipe after the jump.

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Thanksgiving: Gravy

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This is another Grandma Original Recipe.  Make no bones about this recipe: it’s not good for you.  I’m throwing that disclaimer in here now.  Yet some of the best recipes are terrible for you, so this must be a great recipe.  This can also be adapted to oven-roasted chicken, though I’ve not tried it with any other sort of meat.

The problem with my grandmother’s recipes, and how she taught them to me, was that she eyeballed everything.  With the exception of baking (which is more chemistry than anything else) she never measured.  She never weighed.  She just tossed it in and adjusted as she went.  And that’s how she taught me.  So the measurements in a lot of the recipes I use from her playbook have been approximated.

Recipe after the jump.

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