Posts filed under ‘friends’

My first gourmet raw meal!

I’ve been looking into alternative eating plans, including vegan and raw.  I’ve done vegan meals before and raw ones, too, but I’ve never gone gourmet with either.  How fortunate that my city offers a raw restaurant with locations on each side of town!  My BF has lots of great qualities, but, as I’ve mentioned before, adventurous eating is not one of them.  So, while he was out of town on business, I hooked up with his brother and his brother’s new GF, and we all went out for a raw dinner.

Wow!!  It was SO good!  Unbelievably, outrageously, amazingly good!! 

Raw Mexicali Sampler Raw Purple Burrito Raw \

Raw Yam Pie Raw Apple \ Raw Strawberry \

Raw Orange, Banana and Date Smoothie topped with Granola My BF’s brother started with a fruit smoothie topped with granola.  Interestingly, it came in a bowl, rather than a glass, and looked like a chilled soup.  He chose the Ora-Bana flavor, which was a mix of oranges, bananas and dates.  Ooo… it was tasty.  Cool, creamy, tropical goodness with a satisfying crunch.

We each picked a meal and then shared bites with each other.  My BF’s brother chose the Mexicali Sampler, which included a Mexi Wrap with a collard green “tortilla”, Enchiladas, Flax Crax and Mexi Toast.  It was served with yam rice, “beans”, guacamole and salsa.  It had some heat, probably because of the spicy red sauce.

My BF’s brother’s new GF chose the Purple Burrito.  She’s allergic to tomatoes and corn, so she skipped the salsa and guacamole, which was made with tomatoes.  The Purple Burrito was beautiful to look at because of all the vibrant colors.  Regrettably, the pic I took doesn’t capture it as well as I’d hoped because you can’t see the deep purple cabbage.  The cabbage “cup” was filled with Mexi pate, veggies and greens topped with sour “dream” and “yam yumm”.  It also came with flax crackers.

I thought it’d be a hoot to have the raw version of a traditionally bad food, so I selected the “Burger and Fries”.  It was a veggie burger made with beets, carrots, sunflower seeds and parsley, served on living bread with hand prepared catsup, mustard, mayo, onion tomato, lettuce, sprouts, avocado and almond cheese.  The “fries” were “breaded” avocado slices. It did not taste anything like a burger and fries, but that was okay with me.  The flavors and textures were lusciously palate-pleasing.  Every bite was fresh and clean, like capturing the crisp springtime air on your tastebuds.

We finished the meal by sharing three flavors of “cheesecake”: strawberry, apple, and yam.  They, too, were very good, especially the strawberry.  It had the tang of cream cheese, but there wasn’t a bit of it in the reicpe.  I found out the filling was actually made with cashews.  So, so good!

We were all astounded by how delicious everything tasted, so flavorful, and how filling it was.  I could easily eat this way all the time, except that the prep is daunting to me.  I talked about this with the proprietress of the restaurant.  She insisted that it really wasn’t that complicated or hard to do.  I was am still skeptical, though.  I think I need hands-on experience, so my BF’s brother’s new GF and I are going to take a 2-hour raw cooking class on a Sunday in late July.  My BF joked that a raw cooking class is an oxymoron.  Goofball!  (But he does have a point, doesn’t he?!?! J)

You never know.  Maybe ‘rich and raw’ will become a new addition to the Sassy Chef’s cooking repertoire!

June 26, 2008 at 12:34 am 1 comment

Smashing Success!

After weeks of planning and much anticipation, the day finally arrived.  I had the PB&J party for my adopted fam this weekend.  I had a bad case of the jitters the night before, but everything went fine.  The recipes came out great, especially my third attempt at a PB&J cake.  I received lots of compliments on my place and on the food.  Many were surprised at the way the peanut butter and jelly were used in a dish.

Here’s the final menu.  I will post pics and recipes shortly.

Appetizers

  • Celery Sticks with Spicy Peanut Butter Mango Dip
  • Apple Slices with Peanut Butter Ginger Dip
  • BBQ Beef Crescents with Apricot Glaze

Entrees

  • Naan Chicken & Veggie Pizza
  • Peanutty Steakhouse Chili with Buttery Jalapeno Biscuits

Desserts

  • PB&J Cake
  • Blackberry Nutter Butters

It was a wonderful day… but exhausting!  I was beat by the time Sunday morning rolled around.  That’s why I didn’t go through my photos and other material as quickly as I’d hoped.  Check back soon!

In the meantime, I’m so glad that it went well, and I’m looking forward to planning my next funky theme party.

June 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm 2 comments

Birthday Reflections

Birthday Reflections Today is my birthday.  As many of us do when a birthday arrives, I’ve been thinking about where I am in my life, at this age.  Excitingly enough, my life is the best it’s ever been.

  • I’m the smallest/lightest I’ve ever been as an adult, wearing a size 4/6.
  • I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in, getting in four to six days of cardio and two sessions of weight training consistently every week.

Even though it makes sense to list these things first because of the blog’s subject, it still seems like I’m giving them too much importance.  But, the fact is, they are important.  For me, losing weight and exercising has not been about vanity, although appearance has played a role.  These accomplishments are the result of me taking charge of my health and wellbeing… watching the physical deterioration of people I loved and deciding to do everything I could to keep that from happening to me.  They represent years – literally, years – of persistence and commitment through really tough personal challenges.  They represent starting over again, time and after time, because I was unwilling to give up in spite of how hard it was… and how hard it continues to be.  This says a lot about how I feel about myself and my ability to stick to it, whatever “it’ may be. 

  • I have wonderful boyfriend to share my life with.

Wow!  This truly is incredible.  As my marriage went south, I began to doubt that a quality relationship was in the cards for me.  The divorce and subsequent dating misadventures reinforced the doubt.  And, yet, here I am, a year and a half into an amazing experience that’s blossoming into a genuine partnership.  We had some ups and downs at the beginning, but we overcame those to start again with an appreciation for what we both bring to the table.  We continue to get better as we go along.  It’s beyond cool.

  • I have a terrific job that is intense, exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time.

My new gig has taken me in an unexpected direction and is a daily learning experience.  Plus, I am finally back to the salary level I was before I relocated here, actually a little bit more.  Not to mention the excellent retirement benefits.  Woohoo!

  • I remain blessed with a fabulous family and fantastic friends.
  • I am the proud of owner of The Best Cat on the Planet.
  • I live in a spacious condo which I’ve been able to fill with my own original artwork. Even better, it’s on the second floor, so I get at least an additional set of stairs in every day!  🙂

Happy Birthday to me, and a giant “thank you” for all the blessings I enjoy every day!

May 26, 2008 at 4:25 am 1 comment

M&M Inspiration

A couple of weekends back, I happened on a trio of punctuation symbol wall art, on sale at TJ Maxx, that I could not pass up.  A ampersand, a # sign, and an @ sign – nifty… and only $7 each!  The pieces were kinda beat up; hence the deep discount.  I had various ideas for refinishing them, but the best one came to me while I was doing my stairs at work.  Candy wrappers! I decided to decoupage the symbols with M&M wrappers.  The packaging is wonderfully vibrant, perfect for a funky art display.  I figured I’d need 15 packages of the three different flavors I’d chosen.  But… what to do with all that candy?  I certainly couldn’t eat it! 

M&M Gift Cups Most of the chocolate became gifts for the lovely ladies who work behind the bar where my BF and I met.  A couple of years ago, I bought a set of four clear glass tumblers that came with removable vinyl stick-on words.  I’d been considering getting rid of them because I never used them, and this became the perfect opportunity.  I layered the three flavors of M&Ms in the tumblers and decorated them with the stick-on words.  The bright colors coordinated well.  Pretty!  I think they made a festive gift.  I brought them down to the bar when we popped in earlier this week. 

Decadent M&M Cake The remaining candies that wouldn’t fit into the tumblers went into a Decadent M&M Cake I invented, using stuff I had on hand.

Decadent M&M Cake 

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 box Butter Cake Mix
  • 1 can Coke Zero Cherry Vanilla
  • 2 packages Dark Chocolate M&Ms

Chocolately Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 3 packages Peanut Butter M&Ms
  • 3/4 tub Cool Whip Light
  • 1 container Marshallmallow Creme

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and mist 13×9 baking pan with nonstick spray.
  • Empty cake mix into bowl, pour in diet soda and stir to combine.
  • Stir in Dark Chocolate M&Ms.
  • Bake according to package instructions.  Allow to cool.
  • While cake is baking, microwave Peanut Butter M&Ms in 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until melted.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Stir Cool Whip and marshmallow creme into chocolate until well blended and chill.
  • When both cake and frosting are fully, cooled, spread frosting on cake.
  • Chill thoroughly before cutting.

May 26, 2008 at 3:37 am Leave a comment

Exactly!

I almost cried when I read “So, you’ve lost 100 pounds. Now, what?”  It could have been written just for me.

“Some are surprised to discover the struggle doesn’t end when they hit their goal weight. While the outside world sees a slimmer body, their personal body image often remains distorted.”

I continue to see myself as Fat Girl… a slightly less fat version of my old self, granted, but still fat. I am frequently so disappointed by what I see in the mirror, even as a size 4/6. It just doesn’t match what I think I should look like. And I worry constantly about “falling off the wagon” and gaining the weight back, even after 5 ½ years.

“What dieters often don’t realize is, while they can relax a little about how much they eat, they have to remain vigilant. The worst mistake dieters who have lost a lot of weight make is to think that they’re “done,” and that they no longer have to choose their food wisely and responsibly.”

“But to maintain your weight loss, you always have to pay attention to what you eat. Yes, always, no matter what you weigh.”

I am well aware that I have to continue to monitor myself carefully if I want to maintain what I’ve achieved. Lots of well intentioned people have told me I need to relax and not worry so much about it. That’s nearly impossible for me to do. As I explained to my BF after a particularly challenging day, with tears pouring down my cheeks, I am a fat person. Keeping weight off does NOT come naturally to me. Although it’s easier than it used to be to maintain the discipline I’ve developed, it is ALWAYS a battle. Sometimes it’s a war; sometimes it’s a minor skirmish, but it’s ALWAYS a battle of some kind.

The article provides great tips for staying on track. One in particular has been a critical weapon in my weight loss maintenance arsenal.

“Allow yourself a weight-gain range of 3-5 pounds without panicking. When you’re at the lower end of your range, give yourself a little freedom to enjoy some of your favorite foods. If your weight goes up another pound or two, then you’ll need to pull in the reins again to keep yourself within your desired range.”

I weigh myself every day so I always know exactly where I’m at.  When my weight is up more than three pounds, I do start to panic, and I rededicate myself to the tactics that have helped me lose and keep off 117 pounds.

Some of my friends have accused me of being obsessive; some have suggested I have a borderline eating disorder because I am so consumed by watching my weight. This article is the validation I’ve needed to show that I do not have a problem. I am merely doing what’s required if I’m truly committed to keeping the weight off.

April 19, 2008 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment

“So, tell me how I can look like you”

Never, in a million years, did I think I’d hear those words from another woman.  Last night, though, I did, and it was awesome.

My BF and I met up with one of his closest friends and his friend’s new lady.  I was wearing my “skinny” jeans and a sleeveless, v-neck top.  We met at a little club in town to hear a fairly unknown band who was opening for a bigger 80s act.  As we got comfy with our drinks, the new girl said to me while looking at my arms, “You obviously work out.”  That was cool!  She noticed the definition in my arms!  My weights workouts and push-ups are paying off.  I started to talk to her about my diet and exercise plan, but we got interrupted.

When things calmed down again, she said, “So, tell me how I can look like you.”  I was thunderstruck.  Imagine another woman – a tall, attractive flight attendant besides – saying that to ME!  It was just the morale boost I needed after these last several weeks of mental and emotional struggle. 

She talked about how she wanted to start working out and lose 25 pounds, and I filled her in on my plan.  Later on, I explained that I’d lost 117 pounds, and she shared that her sister weighs 300 pounds and can’t seem to get motivated to improve her health.  I sure could relate to that scenario.  We talked about other things throughout the night, too; she’s adorable, and I’m glad to have met her.

Her question will remain the highlight of the evening for a long time to come.  Now I just have to remember it when I’m feeling down and let it continue to remind of how much I’ve achieved. 

April 18, 2008 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Becoming the Sassy Chef

I have gotten the entertaining bug.  I’m so excited to have a cool yet comfortable crib where I can have people over, and I’m even more excited to have a BF who likes hosting friends for brunch or dinner or whatever. 

This gastronomic grooving with guests has revealed an unexpected facet of my personality: the Sassy Chef.  Jeepers!  Who saw that coming??  A little history: my mum is a cook, a good one.  She’s always made fresh bread and created yummy meals on the spot from just the ingredients she had on hand.  I never thought I had the talent.  In fact, it had become standing a joke between us.  She could never understand how her culinary genes bypassed my DNA. 

Come to find out, they didn’t!  My previously dormant talent was first activated with a brunch my BF and I hosted at the beginning of the year.  My girlfriend and her husband joined us on a Saturday morning.  Since she was following a doctor-monitored weight loss plan, I wanted to keep it healthy for all of us.  I completely modified a frittata recipe: swapping eggs for eggwhites, using unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of regular – or even skim – milk, adding veggies like bell peppers, replacing full-fat cheese with reduced fat, and more.  I served it with salsa, fresh cut fruit from the grocery store, and two kinds of Hungry Girl’s Yum Yum Brownie Muffins that I topped with a ricotta coconut frosting of my own invention, made with fat-free ricotta cheese, fat-free Cool Whip and Torani sugar-free coconut syrup.

It was a hit!   Next up was Girls’ Night, with my Go Go Guacamole, Rockin’ Rice Pudding, and Mock Sangria.  That showed me I could use ingredients I had on hand to create something yummy, just like my mum does.  How super cool is that!?!?

Now I face a new challenge.  This week, my BF and I are hosting four other people for dinner before we head out to a nifty jazz place in town.  The trick is that one of our guests has very strict food requirements.  She can’t have any form of sugar (real or fake), eggs, grains or additives.  She can eat meat, potatoes, veggies, and red wine.  What can I make that will satisfy her needs but still taste great and be enjoyable for the rest of the group?

I’ve come up with a slow-cooker beef stew with red wine.  I will serve it with salad (that she can eat) and cheddar biscuits (that she can’t).  I will probably go the semi-homemade route with this meal, primarily because we’re having it on a Thursday night right after work, which doesn’t leave much prep time.  For this meal, my fun and funky side will come out in dessert.  I am going to make something delish with Stevia.  Haven’t found the right recipe yet, but I’m researching.

One thing that’s energized me in my lifestyle change is the challenge of meeting multiple objectives: exercising and eating clean and healthy on the cheap while also making it fun and tasty.  Not always easy to do!  This meal is a microcosm of my lifestyle change in that it presents a number of sometimes competing challenges, and again I’m energized. 

Not to worry, I’ll share the details and pics at the end of the week.  Any thoughts you have are welcome, too!

March 11, 2008 at 2:22 am 1 comment

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