• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
  • Previously spoken….

    August 2020
    S M T W T F S
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    3031  
  • Visually taken....

  • Ajax CommentLuv Enabled e1971467377035ccb2b36d25665416b9

Flog it good!

Magazines I got on the scale this morning. It was disappointed in me again. 4 pounds up since Thanksgiving.

It’s possible to gain weight as a vegan or vegetarian. I’ve proven to my mother that just cause something’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthier.

I can pile on Earth Balance — which is amazingly butter-like — on my vegetables and be 100% vegan. I can eat a triple cheese pizza and be lacto-ovo vegetarian. With all the recipe testing and “Oh this looks good” type of cooking, maybe it’s time to step back — counts as exercise, right? — and start food blogging again. I love reading others’ “what I ate today” posts cause I can get some ideas — or feel better about that huge bowl of vegan bread pudding. I am interested in the new program at Weight Watchers but have no time in a few weeks since school starts back up.

There are lots of words of wisdom out there in the interwebs:

We’ll see. I don’t like those 4 pounds. I have more to lose but was taking a break by maintaining for a bit. Meh.

Inspired by Clara: Pasta with peas

Pasta with peas
Inspired by Clara’s Pasta with peas and her “Depression Era Cooking” videos, I reached into my 10 pound bag of potatoes and got to work. As I played with potatoes and onions, I thought back to what I remember growing up. What dish was my Grandma “famous” for? And what do I remember most from my mother’s cooking? After Mom grabbed her bowl, we talked about it.

Me: Know what I remember most about Grandma’s cooking? Delmonico steak with salt, pepper and garlic powder. (Grandma and I both are garlic fiends.)
Mom: That’s all?
Me: Yeah. Weird, huh? I know she could cook anything and remember all the family holiday gatherings where she would cook. But that was just ham and turkey and collards and whatnot.

We then talked about how amazing of a cook my Grandma was. But Mom said she didn’t think Grandma loved to cook. Maybe that’s why I can’t remember much? Near the end, Grandma and I would talk about cooking and it was mostly about sneaking ground turkey breast into Grandpa’s food or how versatile egg white omelets were. I’m going to try and get some clippings that my aunt got when we — well, you know… went through the stuff left behind. Most everyone was in Grandma’s head but maybe I can get an idea from what she clipped out and that will help.

Me: Mom, know what I think of when I think back to your cooking?
Mom: No, what? (I could hear the ‘uh oh’ in her voice.)
Me: Hamburger soup, tuna surprise*, succotash, hamburger helper, tuna helper, chicken helper — yeah, one pot meals.

* Tuna surprise is kind of like a tuna casserole cooked in a saucepan on the stove.

Now, back to Clara. I loved how she said she would ask what’s for dinner and get as an answer: “Pasta with garlic.” “Pasta with peas.” Etc. I had pasta, including a box that had a “use by” date of 2007 — oops, yes, that was tossed, sigh — and some potatoes. Like I said, I bought this 10 pound bag of potatoes cause I was crazy being frugal.

I wanted to get the consistency of a “hamburger helper” type meal because I want something that could hold its own on a plate with some sides. I got something more soupy, but I measured so maybe I can get closer next time.

Pasta with Peas ++
The ++ means I added more stuff… of course.

  • Olive oil
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cups frozen peas (keep frozen)
  • 2 baking potatoes, peeled, diced
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Saute onions and potatoes in olive oil on medium heat till potatoes are softened. I think this took me about 15 minutes and I used a small stock pot. Add salt, pepper, water, peas. Bring to a boil. Add pasta. Boil for 10 minutes. Toss in parsley. Cook for 1 minute. This is where I added the carrots cause the pasta with peas was slightly soupy. Considering I ladled off about 1.5 cups, I’ll reduce the water amount next time. Maybe. The “stock” this all made was very good. I was heavy handed with the salt like Clara but Mom still added salt to her bowl. Ha.

Sauteed Carrots
I ended up dumping this into the Pasta with Peas at the end

  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper

I cooked the carrots in a skillet while I cooked the pasta with peas. The carrots kept browning too quickly on medium heat so I would ‘cool’ them off with a ladle of water from the pasta. I think it added a lovely flavor. I’m not a fan of carrots but these turned out nicely. I think they cooked for about 20 minutes sometimes covered and sometimes not. I tossed them into the pot of pasta right before serving and after the parsley. It added a nice color but since the carrots didn’t cook with the pasta, it had its own flavor but was somewhat familiarized with the ladles of water from the pasta.

Pasta with Peas (and carrots)
Nutrition Facts (via recipezaar)
Serving Size 1 (506g) Recipe makes 5 servings
Points 7
Calories 328
Calories from Fat 80 (24%)
Amount Per Serving %DV
Total Fat 9.0g 13%
Saturated Fat 1.3g 6%
Monounsaturated Fat 6.0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 42mg 1%
Potassium 640mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 54.6g 18%
Dietary Fiber 5.1g 20%
Sugars 5.0g
Protein 8.1g 16%

Some others that tried her recipe:

Laptop Lunch #6

Wow. Number 6 already? I found a tin of miniature letter cutters and got a little silly with my Laughing Cow babybel.

Laptop Lunch #6

Clockwise, starting at the top left: Fat-free cottage cheese with bits of oranges and cantaloupe in it. A pile of plum and orange slices. Next is a Laughing Cow Light Babybel on top of spinach on top of orange slices. Last, but not least, is a bunch of cantaloupe balls with plum slices.The theme of this is cozy neighbors. A little of one container is in another container. Did I mention I was in a silly mood?

I started to get the hang of making balls out of my cantaloupe near the end. A few have rind on them. Oops!

WW Core except for the Laughing Cow (1 point). I just had to try these little letter cutters that I found in a drawer. I wanted to do “C” for cheese but it didn’t have “C”! No idea why. So, this is “N” for “NUM!” Also, a little gotcha… I forgot that there is a paper(?) string thing and the cut-out didn’t pop out as easily as I thought it would so had to cut along the edges of the “N.” When I got to work, I peeled off the strips and it put a slash through it making it look like “No N.” Or maybe it’s a “Z”!

Closeup of the N

Yes. I’m easily amused.

I also discovered that I don’t like orange plus cottage cheese. And the plum was very tangy but was told they’re supposed to be sweet so I’ll try that again. I still really like the combination of spinach and orange.

Flatout amazing! My first time making a flatout wrap

Turkey, tomato, spinach, cheese wrap

Two thumbs up!

I wanted to buy a low-cal, low-fat wrap for sandwiches (yes, thinking about my laptop lunch makings) and found among the wraps a weird looking oblong wrap. Brand name is Flatout and after looking at the nutritional values of those available, I got the Honey Whole Wheat one. It’s a lot of good bread for just 1 point. Odd though, I can’t find it on the Flatout website. This is the closest to the nutritional value that I found: Multi-grain Flatout.

The texture is great. It’s not scratchy or heavy wheat. It didn’t fall apart like the one tortilla ‘sandwich’ that I made did.

I looked on the website to try and figure out how I was supposed to use it. I found a few recipes but no play-by-play. So, I went with the generic “put the stuff on round end of the bread and then roll tightly.” I smooshed the cheese on the bottom using a wet tablespoon. It made the spreading of the cheese much easier. I then put on spinach, some thinly sliced turkey breast, and some slices of tomatoes. I rolled up from the filled end as tightly as I could but couldn’t do too tightly because of the tomatoes.

It held together very well considering I take my sandwiches so dry — no mayo, etc. I sliced it in half and it still held up well.

Fantastic product! I can’t wait to try some other ideas with it. Interestingly enough, after I bought it, I saw a fellow blogger post her fajita photo made with Flatout bread. So weird to go from never knowing about a product to buying it and seeing it in use shortly after!

Laptop Lunch #5

Laptop Lunch #5

I was really looking forward to this one! The shrimp were thawed the night before and nestled in there. I didn’t add anything and ate them cold. I don’t like cocktail sauce. The grapes and cherries were singing their swan songs. Spinach, carrots and light Greek dressing are the bomb diggity.

And I got a new placemat! My precious.

I like this laptop lunch thing. Putting together lunches is so easy! I don’t have to make a lot of one thing, just fill up some little containers.

I’m extremely tempted to buy another one. It’s kind of a pain to wash it and then fill it the same night.

Laptop Lunch #4

Laptop Lunch #4

Clockwise, starting top-left: Fat-free yogurt with cherries and grapes. I cut the fresh cherries in half to get the pit out. Then though that that looked keen so added some halved grapes. Pretty tasty. The cherries fresh are a little tart, so is the yogurt, but the grapes helped calm everyone down. We then have more grapes– can you tell I love grapes? And under those grapes are some leftover apple bits. And the next container has — surprise — more grapes and some apple slices. I put the skin side up and didn’t add anything to it to see how badly it’d turn brown. Didn’t do badly at all! That’s an organic Fuji apple. Num! Last, but not least, we have left-over brown fried rice with a sprinkle of parsley on top cause I was feeling cheeky. I did microwave the rice for about one minute but it was fine cold. Tasted better at least at room temperature, though.

This is a WW Core meal.

Two days of eats

Oatmeal:
How I love thee but won’t it get old quickly? I still have about 2 or 3 cups left in the fridge for nuking. So far my favorite way to make it (other than oodles of brown sugar and milk and butter) is banana. Gotta find some other ways!

PB&J Roll-up massacre
PB&J roll-up disaster
I tried to make a PB&J roll-up so that I can cut it up for my Laptop Lunch. It was a disaster! My little cutting board looked like I just butchered something. The spewed guts (aka: jam) went on top of some yogurt so that was good. But the roll-up…. I don’t know what I did wrong! I put peanut nut butter on the tortilla first so it wouldn’t get soggy and then put on the jam. I put too much jam (2 tablespoons) definitely but the cutting was horrible.

Breakfast
Breakfast

  • Oatmeal, steel-cut, leftover, 1 cup: 2
  • Apple, organic, Fuji, cut-up: 1
  • Cinnamon:0
  • Da Dew! 0
  • Was going to put slices on top of the oatmeal but that’s hard to eat so I chopped some up and mixed apple in after the oatmeal was nuked. Sprinkled cinnamon on top. Not a huge fan. Maybe it’d be better with the apple nuked or some sweetener added like honey or such. I’ve seen people add applesauce to oatmeal so thought this would work.

Chicken fried rice
Lunch

  • Chicken fried rice
    Based loosely on OAMC Chicken Fried Rice. I used some of the cooked brown rice, rest of the chicken, onion, frozen vegetables, 2 eggs, and soy sauce/pepper.

Dinner
Dinner
2 Turkey cheddar dogs, 1 cup corn/lima beans.
I didn’t cook this but photographed anyway.
3 hot cocoas: 12
ice cream (1 cup + chocolate syrup): A kazillion points. Ok, not really.

PB&J Roll-up massacre
Brunch
PB&J roll-ups: 2 Tbl peanut butter, 2 Tbl jam, 1 tortilla (3)
1 cup ff yogurt
Diet dew, 1 can

TOPS versus Weight Watchers

Magazines Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) is a non-profit weight loss group that’s been around since 1948. They have 200,000 members and 10,000 chapters in the world.1 They don’t “sell” a particular way of eating as long as it’s healthful but they do have exchanges on their recipes and such. TOPS has a magazine. TOPS meets weekly. TOPS has weigh-ins. TOPS has success stories. TOPS is a lot cheaper than Weight Watchers. So why did I join Weight Watchers instead of TOPS?

Actually, I joined both. I signed up for TOPS, I think, in January or so. I picked a meeting night based on my school schedule and showed up. I paid $24 for the year which included a new members’ packet with weight-tracking booklet, magazine subscription and information about eating wisely. I went a few times but haven’t gone in a while.

The meetings are member-run which means no TOPS-paid leader or staff. The members come up with contests and games that are weekly or monthly, depending on what the member running the event wants. TOPS also has retreats that all can go to that are held all over the place.

I’ve belonged to TOPS once before and went fairly regularly. I was losing but was basically following the Core plan of Weight Watchers. I even ran a couple of the contests and made a huge contest compilation book for ideas.

So, why’d I join Weight Watchers that costs me $39.95 a month? That’s more a month than I pay all year for TOPS!

DSCN3016
DSCN3013

The top is a WW page layout ( July/August 2008 ) and the bottom is a TOPS magazine layout ( June 2008). WW magazine is slick, 2 months instead of just 1, a lot of ads, better photography, and better layout. TOPS has more reader-submitted content and is not as professionally designed. Which is better? Depends on what one wants.

Weight Watchers (WW) started in the 1963. I couldn’t find a membership number but it has over 50,000 meetings a week around the world. I have over 25 at my meeting. At TOPS, it usually averaged 5-10 a meeting. So, I can assume that there are more members in Weight Watchers than TOPS. Both programs have the support of a meeting (if you sign up for meetings), and both have a maintenance program (oh to get to that!). But, the cultures are different.

My local WW group is about 70% women in their 20s-lower 40s. Also, there is a program each week that is informative. I don’t like how WW pushes their products with little commercials — at least, I feel like they’re commercials — at the beginning of the meeting. “Blahblah is 50% off this week. It’s really good. Here are some recipes on how to use it.” I enjoy the programs of WW more than TOPS but WW has all those paid (underpaid, probably) staff members behind it. It also does the same program at different meetings whereas the TOPS chapter comes up with its own program. I also like that the leader of WW has been there, done that and was successful. Every meeting is different but the TOPS meetings I’ve been too are more openly accepting and friendly than the WW meetings.

Both, I think are great. But I prefer Weight Watchers because it’s more serious… more professional… more consistent. However, if you need a low-cost, fun way to get support, I suggest TOPS.

Footnotes:
1 http://www.tops.org

Saturday foodstuffs

Yeah. Difficult day. Emotionally draining. I’m glad it’s over. I ate those little quarter sandwich things on a boat that I didn’t take pictures of but I did take pictures of the dinner I ate out. Yay? Oh and I am a huge fan of steel-cut oats! Cook up a bunch and store it for a quick nuke each day!

Breakfast
Breakfast [5]

  • Oatmeal, steel-cut, leftover, 1 cup: 2
    I’ve been warming the oatmeal up in this bowl. I measured out how much each line is with water from a measuring cup, but also the oatmeal comes from a storage container that has lines for 1 cup, 2 cup on it. Very helpful.
  • Banana, 1: 2
  • Honey, 1 teaspoon: .5
  • ICBINB, 1 teaspoon: .5
  • Diet Dew, of course: 0
  • I mixed up some cut-up, slightly smooshed banana in with the microwave oatmeal. Pretty lovely combination!

Invisible dolphins
No picture of the food, but enjoy the water….
Lunch [4][9]

  • Finger sandwich, 2 quarters, 1 turkey and 1 roast beef: 4?
  • Water: 0

Dinner
Dinner [9.5][18.5]

  • Diet pepsi: 0
  • 1 fried mozzarella stick: 2
  • 1 broccoli nugget thing: 1
  • Mahimahi: 5
  • Broccoli: 1
  • Hushpuppy, 1/2 of one: .5

After

  • Diet dew, 1 can: 0

And then….

Ice cream with chocolate syrup. It seems the emotions of the day sent me back to my frozen lover. At least now that I’ve figured out how much my bowls hold, I can say how much I had. 13.5 points. How satisfying was it? Not very.

Friday Food Journal

I’m off work today. Thought I’d make a bunch of steel-cut oats for heating up later. This time, I stirred more so I didn’t have a layer of very browned bits stuck to the bottom. Stirring is our friend!

Also, while on the brain train, I came up with a way to outsmart my temperamental card reader. I locked the card before trying so that if it got hungry, it would not eat my pictures.

DSCN2928
Breakfast [7]

  • Oatmeal, steel cut, 1.5 cups: 3
  • Local honey, 1 tablespoon: 1
  • ICBINB, light, 1 tablespoon: 1
  • Banana, 1 whole: 2
  • Diet Mountain Dew, 1 can: 0
  • Notes: I measured out the margarine this time to see how much of a dollop I do. 1 tablespoon was too much. And 1 tablespoon was too much honey. I tried banana chunks in it as I was eating and liked that combination.

DSCN2936
Lunch [6][13]

  • Leftover chicken, 1 breast: 5
  • Mixed vegetables, 1.5 cups: 1
    I put the frozen pile right next to the chicken on the same plate and microwaved everything for 5 minutes. Vegetables were hot. Chicken was warm enough.
  • Apple, organic Fuji, 1 whole: 1
  • Diet Mountain Dew, 1 can: 0

Dinner [6][19]

  • Cereal, 2 cups: 4
  • Milk, Skim, 1 cup: 2

I feel like I’m forgetting something but am finishing this post almost 24 hours after eating this dinner so forgot. Argh!