Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quinoa Bowls

We were out at the grocery store and talking about what to have for dinner on Sunday, when Liz said "rice bowls!"

Then we walked by the quinoa, and, before I could contribute to the discussion, she said "no, quinoa bowls!" Okay, yes. I have some quinoa that needs to be eaten. Also it is fun to say the word quinoa but you already knew that.

So first get you a cup of quinoa in your rice cooker with two cups water and a little sea salt for sass and good luck. I like to use the gold filter from our coffee maker to rinse my quinoa because the grains are so adorable and tiny that they won't cooperate with our other real adult-sized colanders.

  1. 3-4 scallions, sliced thinly
  2. 1 red bell pepper, diced
  3. 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced, and
  4. 1 carrot, awkwardly julienned
with two tablespoons of oil, then glaze with
  1. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  2. 1 Tbsp of (organic carbon-neutral vegan-certified etc unrefined) sugar
  3. 1-2 tsp hot chili sesame oil, and
  4. 1 Tbsp corn starch.

Set aside your peppers and carrots, rinse out your wok and then stir-fry together:
  1. 5 cloves garlic, sliced, and
  2. 3 big handfuls of baby spinach (something like 8-10 oz)
Then assemble your bowls thusly:

Scoop in like a half-cup of quinoa. Sprinkle with a couple teaspoons of furikake and slip in a couple of wedges of beefsteak tomato on the side. Put your peppers and onions on one side, put your garlicky spinach on the other side. Delicious success!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hungry, by Crystal Renn

One of the things I want this blog to be is a place where I can talk about the struggles of trying to lose weight.  Somehow, I got to be over 100 pounds overweight (that's a story for another time).  I struggled for a long time to accept that I've overweight (actually obese, if you want to put labels on it).  Then it took me a long to accept myself at that weight.  The funny thing is, losing weight actually became easier when I started to actually like my body.  I'm not longer battling myself, battling my body, I'm not losing weight in spite of my body, I'm embracing myself.  I'm able to stay on Weight Watchers because I'm eating nutritious, good food.  I don't feel like I'm depriving myself, I can still live my life.

That's what drew me to the book Hungry, by Crystal Renn.

Front Cover

When she wrote this book, Crystal Renn was the highest paid plus sized model in the world.  She had started her career as a "straight-sized" model, meaning she was about a size zero.  In her book, she describes how the only way she was able to maintain that size was through anorexia and hours at the gym every day.  She hated herself and her life as a size zero.  On top of that, she wasn't a very successful model - she didn't have any spark, nothing unique about her personality, mostly because she was so hungry all the time, all she could thing about was food.

I picked up this book because, even though I struggle with the opposite problem of eating too much, I thought reading about a model's struggle to find a healthy weight and embrace her body would help me work through some of my own food and self esteem issues.

I really, really wanted to like this book.  I really did.  And I commend Crystal for telling her story in such a public way.  I do think the book helps with size acceptance.  But I just couldn't get used to the tone.  It was too cheerful, as though all your problems will be solved if you just learn to love your body.  It's like she was just able to flip a switch and start eating again, as though you can get over an eating disorder through sheer willpower.  

I know this is Crystal's story, not the story of eating disorders.  If I wanted that, I would have found a text book on eating disorders.  But the tone was so cheerful, and that was hard for me to get over.  That may my own problem.  I may be too cynical for this book.

I will give it this - it made me think about how we define beauty.  I know I will never be a size 0.  And I would be thrilled if I could look as good as Crystal looks on the cover of her book.  She's either a size 10 or 12 in that picture.  So the book did help me think realistically about my weight loss goals.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Curried Lentils and Brussels Sprouts

One of my favorite dishes is curried lentils.  Usually we serve them with kale, but since we were out of kale, and since I LOVE brussels sprouts, Matt decided to serve them with roasted brussels sprouts instead. It turns out, any cruciferous* vegetable will work with this dish.  Which is good, because I LOVE all cruciferous* vegetables.

Each recipe makes 6 servings.


3 T. canola oil
1/2 onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 t. cumin seeds
2 t. mustard seeds
2 T. Garam Masala
2 t. powdered turmeric
1 t. powdered ginger
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 1/2 t. black pepper
3 T. sea salt
16 oz. dried red lentils

1. Heat oil in the pan.  We used a 5 quart dutch oven, but any deep pot will do.
2. When the oil is shimmering, toss in the cumin seeds and the mustard seeds.  Watch out, because they will pop out of the pot, and they are HOT!
3. After the seeds pop, add the rest of the spices, stir and fry the spices for about 20 seconds.
4. Add onion and garlic and turn the heat down.
5. Add the lentils and then add cover them with an inch of water.
6. Bring lentils to a boil, then cover and simmer on the lowest setting for 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

7 Points+ per serving

Brussels Sprouts

1. Halve 1 pound of brussels sprouts, toss to coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Two teaspoons will do it.
2. Put on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

0 Points+ (if you have more than one serving, the points from the oil will add up).

Serve with rice.

* Matt insisted that I had to use the word "cruciferous" in this post.  I guess that's what I get for marrying an English major that loves food.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I'll be honest.  The hardest thing about Weight Watchers for me is getting to the gym.  Actually, it's getting off my butt and working out at all.  I've learned over the past umpteenth time I've tried WW that I can actually have good food while still staying within my points.  I don't usually feel like I'm on a diet.  But for whatever reason, I'm having a really hard time incorporating exercise into my life.

Today is the second day in a row I've come home saying I was going to work out.  But when I got home, I sat down on the couch, and next thing I knew, it was time to go to bed.  So here's my new rule - no computer or TV until I've gotten at least 30 minutes of exercise.

Broccoli and Potato Casserole

The broccoli at Safeway looked great today.  Matt saw it, and thought back to a recipe for broccoli casserole he saw on YouTube.  This changed quite a bit from that original recipe, mostly based on what we had and didn't have in the kitchen.

Makes 6 really big servings - it could probably make 8 servings, especially with a big salad.

4 small potatoes
1/2 onion
4 cloves garlic
2 heads of broccoli
1 shredded carrot
28 oz. can of garbanzo beans
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 t. red pepper
2 t. oregano
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Preheat oven to 350

1. Cut potatoes into dice-sized cubes, and boil until tender
2. At the same time, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil
3. Cut florets off the broccoli heads and steam until they are crisp-tender
4. Mash the garbanzo beans
5. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix
6. Oil 9x13 baking pan, put the ingredients into the pan and smooth it out
7. Bake for 1 hour - cover with foil for first 45 minutes, then remove foil for last 15 minutes.

Points+: 12

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bean Soup

Bean soup is one of our go-to recipes - simple, filling, and cheap.  Doesn't always look pretty, but it's delicious.  This recipe is also a good way to combine any leftover beans and vegetables.  This is what we had tonight, but really, any combination of beans and aromatics will do the trick.

Makes 6 servings.

1/4 pound dried adzuki beans
1/4 pound dried canellini beans
1/4 pound dried roman beans
1 small onion
3 stalks celery
1 carrot
4 cloves of garlic
1 yellow bell pepper
2 T olive oil
2 T salt
2 T pepper
2 T oregano
2 bayleaves
1 oz. vermouth

1. Soak beans
2. Combine the aromatics (everything that isn't a bean or a spice or vermouth) in a pan and cook over medium heat until soft
3. Add beans, spices, and water to the consistency you want
4. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours
5. Add vermouth and garnish with parmesan cheese and Frank's Red Hot Sauce

PP+ Value: 6 (not including cheese)

Note: You can add nutritional yeast instead of cheese to veganize.