Category Archives: Thoughts

Two foodies in a pod

Recently Brad emailed me this article CNN Eatocracy article about Foodie Friendships.  It is a really interesting read and the author went to UNC-Chapel Hill (like me!).  In the article, the author discusses how she met a good friend at a class at UNC, where they bonded over their love of delicious food.

The article got me thinking about why I have  become such good friends with certain people.  And it is true that I often bond with people who enjoy delicious foods and trying new cuisines.  I definitely believe this was a bond for Brad and I.  Our first date was at a tapas restaurant with a bunch of other mutual friends.  Although no one else really shared their food, Brad and I had a great time getting to know each other and tasting each others food.

We have had so many great memories together that go hand-in-hand with a special meal I made or a really unique restaurant we visited.  In fact, I would have never started cooking quite so much had it not been for Brad’s encouragement or the way he happily ate everything I made and made me feel like it was the best-tasting thing in the world.

Friendships are no different.  When you find someone as adventurous about their dining and as appreciative of the quality of food set before them as you are, there is definitely a connection there that allows you to bond over  your mutual interest.  I guess it is this way with all interests, whether that be running, movies, reading, traveling, etc.  But what other interest is also a necessity of life in that you have to engage in it several times a day?  What other interest is considered more beneficial to participate with another person rather than by yourself?  (google “eat together” and “eat alone” if you don’t believe me on this one).  And what other interest encourages you to sit across a table from someone and engage in conversation…okay, besides boardgames.  You can’t say, “wait, I’m thinking,” then leave your dinner companion hanging for five minutes when you’re sharing a meal.

Food is such a culturally rich thing that brings people together and opens us up to new ways of life.  Food is a commonality; a  nourishing thing that we all require.   But finding someone who sees food the way you see it, is a rare beauty.    I feel so lucky to have this rarity in my own life.

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Changes to come

I didn’t make it back to blogging yesterday to post late day eats, but you’ll know why in a second.

When I first got home, I thought I would blog a  bit, munch on this Gnu Foods Chocolate Brownie Bar, then do some 30 Day Shred.  Oh how things changed.

Gnu Foods recently asked me if they could send me some of their bars.  This is the first one I tried and I really liked it.  It reminded me of the brownie Clif Bars.  Very similar consistency and taste.  Plus with 12 grams of fiber and a non-scary ingredient list, it sure trumps other fiber bars.  I have several other flavors to try, but in true Kelly fashion, I went straight for the chocolate one first.  Notice Rascal in his standard “I’m going to stare you down while you eat” pose.

Then, I don’t know what happened.  The longer I sat there attempting to blog, the sadder I became.  I don’t want to just blog about my food.  I want to blog about my life.  But so far my day was not worth blogging about.  I have been struggling with some things in my life recently and have been uncertain as to what to do about them.  I feel like Brad, my family, and my friends have been supportive, but I can’t look to them for answers.  I have to figure out what to do about this  on my own.

Brad and I talked a long time about this.  I think we have come to some decisions and I’m trying to make peace with these decisions.  At the same time, I’m still mulling it over uncertain as to what I will do next.  But I feel like some changes are coming one way or another.

In the middle of our heavy discussion, we found time for dinner.  I browned some corn tortillas for us (in a skillet using my meat mallet to press the tortillas to make them brown faster).  I added the last of our Denver Sole from last night.  There wasn’t enough for two people, so we split it and added black beans, topped with mango salsa from last night as well, and a generous dollop of Greek yogurt.  There was no wrapping these fish tacos; I had to use a fork and knife to get this to my mouth.

Added later:  I don’t know how I forgot this, but before going to bed I had quite a bit of dark chocolate, which was totally necessary.  I don’t feel guilty of this one bit.  Chocolate heals all.

This morning I woke up thinking, “Can I make overnight oats with cottage cheese, instead of yogurt?”  Well yes, you can.

All of my bananas are in the freezer so I took one out and microwaved it.  Frozen bananas that have thawed have the weirdest consistency.  It feels kind of spongy but can very easily be whipped into whatever your adding it.  No banana chunks when you use this process.

Next I added my usual ratios of 1/3 cup of oatmeal (still working on the gluten-free oats), 1/3 cup of almond milk, but instead of yogurt I added 1/3 cup of cottage cheese this time.

Toppings were frozen blubes I nuked in the microwave making them super juicy, 1/2 Tbsp. blueberry jelly, and 1 Tbsp. AB.

This was good but I didn’t care for the consistency.  Whether it was the juice from the blueberries or the cottage cheese, which isn’t quite as thick as Greek yogurt, it was too liquid-y.  I want to make this again, because I really liked the flavor and the bit of saltiness cottage cheese adds to the mix.  However, next time I’m going to cut back on the almond milk and try it without the blueberry juice to see if that helps.  Maybe fresh fruit would be better?

I get brownie points this morning for managing to get ready so fast I had time for breakfast at a table, rather than on my lap in the car (which ultimately finds its way onto my clothes).  I figured out a new strategy to cutting my time spent getting ready…rolling my hair.

I always shy away from this because 1- my hair doesn’t hold curl very well and 2- I’m afraid of having big Southern hair (at least temporarily).  However, these two ladies (Lara and Andrea) often hot roll their hair and they look lovely, so I was inspired to give it a try.

After brushing it so I looked a little less like Shirley Temple, I thought it looked okay.  And yes my fuchsia decorations are necessary, but no, the grimace on my face is not.

I’m curious to see what this looks like at 5 pm.

Maybe I’ll have a more lighthearted post then about something outrageously silly.    I’m sure Rascal or Brad can handle that assignment since they are both well-versed in outrageous silliness. 🙂

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What’s up with Greek yogurt?

A friend recently posed this question to me.  I just love questions like that.  Not because I always know the answer, because I usually don’t know, or I just don’t think I know enough.  It turns out I like doing research on things I’m curious about and I like being helpful. 🙂

I know why I like Greek yogurt.  It’s creamier, thicker, and richer.  But it does have some health benefits too.

Here is a break down of what I think are the most important stats when it comes to yogurt.  The first two are your standard plain fat-free yogurt.  The following four numbers (3-6) are fat-free Greek yogurt.  All stats are for 6 oz. servings, even if they aren’t sold in that serving size.  I converted them for comparative purposes.  How nerdy of me. 🙂

Calories Fat Sugars Protein % of daily Calcium
1. Dannon (All Natural) 80 0 12g 9g 30%
2. Yoplait* 98 0 13g 11g 30%
3. Greek Gods 60 0 7g 6g 25%
4. Fage* 90 0 6.75 15g 18%
5. Chobani 100 0 7g 18g 20%
6. Oikos** 105 0 7.5g 18g 23%

*Individually packaged in 8 oz containers.

**Individually packaged in 4 oz. containers

The most notable difference is the amount of sugar in plain non-fat versus plain Greek yogurt.  In most cases, the amount of protein is greater in Greek  yogurt, except in the case of Greek God’s Greek yogurt, which puzzled me a bit.  The only reason I can think of is that because their calorie content is lower than the other Greek yogurt, some of the protein (almost 2/3) is removed during the process of reducing the calories.  On the other hand, this yogurt has the most calcium, although the difference is pretty negligible when compared to the Oikos.

That being said, it seems that there are obvious health benefits of the Greek yogurt, mainly with the lesser sugar content.  However, if you’re a fan of sweetened and flavored yogurt the Greek yogurt can pack in almost as much sugar as the traditional yogurt.  Flavored Greek yogurt ranges anywhere from 16-23 grams of sugar in their flavored varieties, based on my observations.  Traditional flavored yogurt fall in the 25-30 range.

But like all things in life, there is a trade-off.  Greek yogurt is typically more expensive than plain yogurt; sometimes even twice or more than twice as expensive per individual serving.  I try to be as thrifty as possible, within reason.  I believe in buying quality foods because it’s a good investment in my health, which is worth more than saving money only to fill it with questionable chemicals.  I typically buy Greek yogurt, but not always.  If I do not buy Greek, it’s Organic and plain. Mostly I buy the larger containers of yogurt because you save money with less packaging than when you buy individual serving sizes.  I figure I can be inconvenienced a little if it helps me save some money over time.  I also am willing to try different brands, so if I see a brand on sale, I grab it.

This is how I recently came to try Greek God’s Greek Yogurt and full-fat Greek yogurt for the first time.   I also had the good luck of being sent coupons to try the Greek God’s yogurt line, which I happily obliged.  Stay tuned for a full review.

Question: Do you prefer Greek over plain yogurt?  Is the cost differential worth nutrition/taste difference?

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Look what I did

Last night I did it.  I’ve been thinking about it.  I’m been scheming in my head how to make it happen.  I’ve been whispering about it in Brad’s ear while he sleeps and when he’s awake.

And finally we did it!

We bought the Vitamix.

Sorry for the somewhat fuzzy shot.  I was so hungry by the time I took this photo, I had the shakes.

Brad took much better pictures while we pretended to do a Vitamix infomercial.


My arm is gigantic in this photo.  Maybe it’ just the angle or maybe my 30 Day Shred is really working. 🙂

See how much I love it?

No, seriously, this was just for the photo opt, but I really do love it.  What you’re seeing here is me making my Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie.  And I have to say that what resulted was the absolute best smoothie I’ve ever had.  I used frozen bananas and frozen strawberries and no ice because of all of the frozen fruit (ice is really just for consistency).

I have to admit that I’m a bit biased against my old blender.  It was on its last leg.  It couldn’t handle half of a frozen  banana without some nurturing and coercing, which is pretty aggravating in my constant state of morning rush.  Also, my spinach has never came out smoother in the smoothie.  For the past two weeks, my old blender was leaving chunks of spinach leaves which were clogging up my straw.  Yuck!

I mentioned the 30 day shred so I feel the need to give you an updated on my Wedding Shape-up Challenge.  If I had to grade myself on my adherence so far to my plan, I’d give myself an 85.  There were two days I did not do the 30 day shred in the past 8 days, but one of those days I walked around DC for at least 5-6 miles so I definitely got in some exercise.  The other day I was just being plain lazy.

My eats have been as planned most of the time, except last weekend in DC.  Even still, I think I ate well the majority of the time.  I ate a sensible breakfast every morning with what little we had to choose from at the hotel’s continental breakfast and did pretty well with lunch.  There were three meals where I wouldn’t say I went crazy, but I probably should have stopped before I did.

That being said, I’m still pretty happy with how it’s going.  I managed to do the 30 day shred one of the two days we were in DC, but still managed to exercise a lot with all the walking we did.  Also, I’ve been working out way more than 30 minutes total most days like I had planned.  I even ran 5.6 miles last night in addition to the Shred.  Also, Level 1 became a bit too easy so I decided to push myself and do Level 2 beginning yesterday.  I’ve done Level 2 before, just not everyday, which is way more intense.

What’s more, I’m happy that I’ve worked out something that is working for me right now but is not stressing me out.  If you can’t live life while you clean up your eating and work on your fitness level, it’s just not worth it to me.  I was discussing this last night with a friend about girls who starve themselves the month before the wedding.  I want to remember this as a happy time in my life and ease the stress I mostly put on myself without adding more.

Question: What do you think about brides who take dieting to the extreme to look good in a dress?  Is it worth it


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Wedding Shape-up Challenge

Yesterday I finally got myself together to truly to commit to getting in tip-top shape for my upcoming nuptials on August 7.  I dabbled in P90X a few months ago and really toned up, especially in my arms.  But, I think I need to buckle-down and commit to a balanced diet and consistent exercise for the next 60 days.  Lately I’ve found numerous reasons to splurge more often than not and slacking off on the weight training.

I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I think over indulging is happening because I’m so ravenous by the time I get home.  Then once I over-do it at dinner, I go to bed soon after and that’s not good for my digestion.  Also, being ravenous is deterring me from exercising.  I did the 4:30 am exercising for a long time, but would really like to avoid that again at all cost within reason.  My plan in reality is for 58 days because I want to be successful before the wedding and I threw in my rehearsal dinner in there for good measure.

Here is my plan for the next 58 days:

– Spread calories evenly over four meals + one (150-200 calorie) snack

– Exercise for at minimum 30 minutes 6 days a week

– Complete Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred

– No more than 4 alcoholic beverages per week

-Weigh myself once each week

And here are more detailed thoughts about my plan:

Eating:

Calorie counting has turned me into a maniac before, so I have to find a way to do this without tapping into my OCD and becoming a hermit because I don’t know the calorie content in restaurant foods.  Keeping all my meals the exact same calories will help with this because I can keep returning to those meals without having to meal plan way in advance or spend hours each day figuring out the calories in a cucumber.  I kid.   I don’t really think that’s a good use of my time.  For the first few days I’m going to write down what I eat, not in journal style, but as a reference so I can quickly say, “oh this and that meet my calorie requirement for a meal so I’ll just eat that again”.  Yesterday, I wrote down a bunch of things I know when added together meet my calorie requirement.  I don’t tire easily of eating the same things, so I think this will work for me.  Also, I think this strategy will keep my blood sugar more stable so I don’t do a dive bomb into food when I get home from work.  By the end of this I see having a calorie reference for all the things I typically eat in food combinations that I typically use.

I’m not going to spaz out at restaurants.  I repeat, not spazzing out.  I’m going to make the best choices I can, including eating half of large portions and trying to eat whole foods that I understand and could make myself.  I even accepted an invitation to lunch tomorrow to go to a Mexican restaurant near my office.  No spazzing occurred.

Exercise:

I’m not setting the bar too high with this one.  I typically exercises about an hour 4-6 times a week.  I plan to continue this.  I think it’s those 2-3 days a week that I don’t exercises that could be turned-around to make big changes.  I fully believe in rest days, but this is only for 60 days and we’ll see how it works for me.

I decided to do the 30 day shred for the next 30 days at least, because I’ve owned it for a while and have used it, but never used it the way it is intended – over the course of 30 days.  Jillian believes in it and although I don’t agree with all of her mantras, the girl looks good and I wouldn’t mind harnessing her experience to benefit my own fitness.  This conflicts a bit with my 6 day exercise goal because you’re supposed to do the 30 day shred every single day.  I plan to finish it through the recommended 30 day period, but I won’t need to supplement it one day a week with additional cardio.  After the 30 days I will figure out another specific exercise schedule for the remaining 30 days.

Alcohol:

This limit is a good limit to have in general (for me) and will most likely mean I won’t have the occasional glass of wine on weekdays.  This is positive for two reasons: less unnecessary calories that don’t fuel my body and meeting friends briefly after work will not prevent me from exercising.

As I said before, I started this yesterday and the even calorie spreading worked like a charm.  Everyone has a different philosophy about this and I really don’t think any one person is right.  I think this might work for me. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you.  I hear healthy people say things all the time like “I tried this to see how it would work for me and it did” and another person will say something totally contradictory.  The point here is that you have to figure out what works best for your own physical and mental state.  Everyone is so different, why would we think that identical eating and exercising habits will work identically for ever person?

This is also why I’m not stating my caloric goal.  I am a short person who needs less calories than a tall person, but I am also a pretty active person who needs more calories than a less active person.  You shouldn’t compare numbers with anyone.  I’ve lost weight before and I know what I was eating at the time.  I was also a little less active so I added some to compensate for this.

I’m starting the 30 day shred with Level 1, although I know I’m perfectly capable of Level 2.  I don’t want to be too intense since I’m going to be doing this everyday.  In case you’re not familiar, there are three levels, each increasingly more difficult.  Jillian wants you to start out at Level 1, then progress to Level 2 when you feel you can.  In a perfect world, I’ll do 10 days of each.  I don’t even know what Level 3 looks like, so this should be interesting.  Another little mini goal for me is to be able to do more “boy-style” push-ups.  When I do the video now, I do 5 the regular way, then the rest are “girl push-ups” (15-20?).  I wonder if it’s unrealistic to think that I can add 1 regular push-up each day.  We shall see.

I’m  happy with this plan.  I think it’s reasonable and won’t feel overwhelming.  I’ll keep you updated so I’m held accountable, which was my main reason for blogging about it.  I’m not going to mention any numbers although I do have a number in mind as a weight goal.  I truly believe that if I give this my best effort and follow through with my plan, I’ll be perfectly happy, regardless if I see that number on the scale in 60ish days.  This brings me to the last part of my plan.  Stepping on the scale ever day turns into stepping on the scale multiple times a day to see if “it’s working”.  To discourage my neurosis, I’m holding myself to this.

I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on my plan.  I’m always interested in hearing what has worked for others, even though this is my plan for the next 60 days.  Even though I don’t believe in modeling your habits after others, learning more about others healthy habits helps you develop your own – the reason I started reading healthy living blogs in the first place. 🙂

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Organic vs. Local Foods – two heavyweight contenders in the food scene

I have been thinking the past few months about the lack of creative outlets in my life and how much I enjoy writing.  This is one of the main reasons I started my blog.  But, I have also been thinking about what it might like to do this in a more public arena.  So this week I applied to be a writer for the Examiner.com.  Below is my writing sample that I submitted. The submission actually removed the quotes due to a 200-300 word limit, but I think they compliment the theme of divergent viewpoints on this topic, so I included them for the blog.

Organic vs. Local – Two heavyweight contenders on the food scene

“Organic foods are the only things that will ever pass these lips.  My body is a temple.”

“We have to save the planet and the best way to do this is by harnessing our purchasing power to reduce our carbon footprint by buying only local foods.

These are the new food consumer stereotypes.  Chances are you do not exclusively fit into only one of these categories.  You most likely dabble in one or both.  You may be an expert on the philosophies driving the organic food and the local food movements.  However, you have probably heard of them.

So which are better – organic foods or local foods?

The answer: it depends and you get to decide.

Michael Pollan, who advocates for real food in his latest book In Defense of Food, sheds some light on the subject with Organic Gardening magazine. When asked if he supports organic over local foods, he responded that if [he] were a supermarket shopper he would [support organic over local], because you can’t meet farmers face to face and you don’t really know what they’re doing.

Christopher Wanjek, author of Bad Medicine and Food at Work has another take on the controversy, stating in 2006 on the online publication LiveScience.com that [he doesn’t] worry so much, as long as it is local.  [He] can trust the food because [he’s] buying it from the person who produced it.

Food philosophies are typically not black and white.  There are not true right and wrong choices.  Food is a reflection of your ideals and what you think is important.  If being “green” (i.e. conserving energy) and supporting the local economy is of primary importance, keep your food origins close to home.  If fueling your body with the most natural foods is your mantra, please continue to nourish your body with organic foods.

But take heart that there is a happy medium.  Many local foods are organic and if you are not sure, get to know your farmer.  Talk to the worker at the farm stand. Many farms that offer CSA’s in the Charlotte area host farm tours on the weekends where you can learn all about their farming practices.  Also, more and more grocery stores, like Harris Teeter, are labeling their produce as “NC grown”.  Look in the organic produce section for these labels.  In other words, buy both organic and local when possible.

And finally, don’t sweat it.  Food is supposed to be nourishing, creative, and fun.  Your reflection on your role in the food economy illustrates that you are a part of the American population who is a responsible consumer, in every sense of the word.

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