Thursday, March 31, 2011

flour bakery boston: bacon, egg and cheese

Bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwiches were a staple growing up. Every Friday AM during our junior and senior years of high school, I'd pick up my friend Emily 20 minutes early so we could get them at the bagel shop and make it to school in time to get a good parking spot. We'd eat the sandwiches and chat. It was good times. 

Flour Bakery does an excellent version of this sandwich. Theirs includes tomato, mixed greens and spicy Dijon. You can get any of their sandwiches "as a salad". I thought eating salad for breakfast sounded nasty. I am what some might call "fragile in the morning". As much as I am a pizza addict, I could never eat pizza for breakfast. Especially cold. Gross. Salad sounded too indelicate for me but I decided to try it. It was delicious!! I just pretended I was somewhere in Europe for a fabulous trip. The first time I ever saw tomatoes before lunch time was in London. It will always be weird to me, an American who would prefer a bowl of Cap'n Crunch. Anyway. I had the Flour bacon, egg and cheese salad for lunch today. Yum!
Greens are tossed in balsamic. That little container has the Dijon. Eggs and tomatoes covered in a slice of cheddar.  
 The other night I served up some romaine, tomato and a burger with Caesar dressing and two Parmesan cheese crisps. Just put a handful of Parm on a cookie sheet (use a Silpat or it will not work!!!) and bake for 5-10 minutes on 400 degrees...watch them and take them out as soon as they're evenly melted and browned. Not a fancy dinner but it worked.


And just for good measure, a lil Ruby-doos...

Photo by my sister
Photo by my sister       




Wednesday, March 23, 2011

recipe: spaghetti sqash alfredo/how to cook a spaghetti squash

Just because I am sticking as close to Atkins Induction as I can right now doesn't mean I can let go of old habits and notions. Like enjoying pasta. Or not being terrified of fat. What better way to give those two incomplete sentences the middle finger than with "spaghetti squash Alfredo"? The inspiration for this recipe came from George Stella's Fettuccine Primavera and the alfredo sauce recipe from Atkins.com.  


First, let's go over how to cook a spaghetti squash. Because most people don't get it right and they complain that it is mushy or the strands don't come out. I feel my method is the fastest and best way to achieve the spaghetti-est strands out of your squash. The strands will separate (not be a big mush ball) and will act as wondrous carriers of whatever sauce you choose to pour on it. I like my strands slightly on the al-dente side because they hold up better to sauce and reheat the next day without being soggy. Maybe I'll take some of those high-end pictures I so often produce and do a little step-by-step pictorial of the process. For now plain old words will have to suffice. It looks like a lot of steps but that's because I talk a lot, not because it's really a lot of work.


Cooking a spaghetti squash:
Turn your oven on 400.
1. Peel off the metallic tag. I don't know if it's a fire hazard but let's play it safe.
2. Prick the shit of of it with a fork. Pretend it's your neighbor who parks in front of your house because her driveway doesn't fit the 6 cars they have for the 18 people in their house. Like it's your fault all their adult children are on disability and stay home drinking all day and strumming their guitar to overplayed Sublime songs. You were, like, 30 years old in 1995 - stop pretending like you're reminiscing your high school years.
3. Cook in the microwave for about 5 minutes on high. Take it out and TEST IT - try using the best knife in your kitchen to cut off the ends. If the squash gives you attitude and you're thinking the knife could slip and take off a finger, it's not done. 
4. Back in the micro for 2 minutes. Test it again. Repeat this process until the ends of the squash come off easily but NOT like buttah. You should have to use muscle but not have the knife get stuck either. My squash was done at 7 minutes and was a pretty big guy.
5. With both the ends cut off, cut the thing in half the long way. 
6. Pick out the seeds and stringy bits (just like a pumpkin). I like to do this now because those stringy bastards can be stubborn. When the squash is totally done, ripping the gross strings out can sacrifice the yummy spaghetti strands. When it's only partially cooked, the spaghetti guys are still fairly firm and won't pop out when you scrape the stringy junk away. 
7. Place a few hunks of butter on a cooking sheet or in a baking dish and then put the squash halves, face side down, on top of the butter. Some people do face side up. It's your squash, not mine, do as you'd like. This shit will cook for about 15-25 minutes. Because overcooked squash is not edible in my world, I tend to be conservative and pull it out at the 15 minute mark to test it.
8. Testing it: using a fork, scrape the sides of the squash. If the strands pull away easily it's done or very close to it. Try tasting the strands to see if they're to your crunchiness preference...If they still seem on the raw side put it in for another 5 minutes or so. Repeat. 
9. Gut the things when they're done and put the strands into bowls.


Alfredo sauce/Cheese sauce:
True fettuccine Alfredo consists of fettuccine, freshly grated imported Parmesan cheese and unsalted butter. That's it. Like most things, what lots of people now refer to as Alfredo sauce is a bastardization of its former, glorious self. Few places do it the right way. To me, what I provide below is just different than alfredo sauce and is delicious in its own right...but I'll still call it Alfredo no matter how inaccurate that may be in order to credit Atkins for the recipe. This is really more like a plain old cheese sauce than Alfredo. So should we call it squasharoni and cheese?! I DON'T KNOW! Semantics, people. Just make it, it's yummy.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ cups heavy cream
½ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg

Directions:
1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add cream and simmer until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes.
2. Remove from heat; stir in Parmesan, Pecorino Romaro, pepper and nutmeg until the cheeses have melted and sauce is smooth.
3. Serve right away.
Amendments: I did not have Romano so it didn't go in. My butter was salted and since I had to add extra salt in the end it didn't hurt (the squash is VERY bland on its own so you might find yourself loading up on a bit more salt than usual). I DID add some Cheddar Shake - eff yeah!! You could omit the nutmeg and use garlic instead. Notice the directions to eat immediately? I saved some for my lunch today and it was fine once I nuked it on the squash for a few minutes (stored squash and sauce apart to reduce sogginess). 
This actually looks like spaghetti! Albeit slightly gross spaghetti...but don't worry it's yummy!

And with that, I leave you with this awesome music video (music not so awesome...) via i09:
 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

back in the saddle again

Well talk about lack of will power. Going low carb is supposed to be easy because you can eat lots of food without guilt and lose weight. Then it was my and Dave's birthdays last week. Too many dinners out while I was semi-buzzed led to some bad decisions.

Several things:

1. Even before the Birthday Eating Disaster of 2011, I hadn't lost a damn pound.  This might be because I didn't cut wine (I drink a few glasses/week) and might be because I incorporated that reduced carbohydrate bread. I was just too unwilling to eat eggs and bacon every. Single. Fucking. Morning. I've been frustrated. This is supposed to work!! My frustration led to denial of the science in order to justify: basmati rice with my chicken tikka masala on Friday night, a roll and pizza binge at Bertucci's on Saturday night, and a slice of lasagna and a cookie on Sunday night. Don't worry. I am going through the Atkin's Flu again as I try to detox from carbs again so I am paying my dues.

2. So it's to the Induction basics of Atkins. I'm not effing around now. No fruit. No low carb bread substitutes. Wine...replaced with vodka/Crystal Light/seltzer (let's be honest: no drinking for two weeks would probably make me homicidal. Just knowing a drink is off limits would make me want to drink. No lectures, please? I don't really care.).

I may still be giving my 25 26 (eff!) year old body too much credit. I thought only old fogies who have 100 lbs. to lose had to do Induction. "I am young, this shouldn't be hard!" I thought, naively idifuckingotically. Then I realized my eating habits weren't already that bad which meant; I never ate a lot of sugar or bread to start with. Before I started this, I didn't eat pasta on a regular basis (maybe twice a month) nor did I eat bread everyday. I would have oatmeal for breakfast with a Splenda and almonds. I'd have a full-fat yogurt for a snack. A sandwich with whole wheat bread a few times/week. This all means that little changes (like cutting out milk and yogurt and oats) aren't enough - like you know how someone stops drinking soda and eating Snickers every day and they lose 40 lbs.? Well my vice was goddamn flippin' OATMEAL. What a rebel! So, because my eating habits weren't that bad to start, I have to go that much harder at this.

3. I've also had to redefine "bad eating habits", in order to change my overall thought process about food selection. Previously, bad eating habits meant cookies on a daily basis. Or using butter on my toast. Or cheese on my pasta. Now it means eating the toast and the pasta - but I can have the butter and cheese. It's a total reversal of what I learned growing up and challenges me every day, despite having read and understood the book. It doesn't help that everyone around me is constantly telling me I am crazy for eating all this fat (saturated, too!) and I am DOIN IT RONGG. Especially when I espouse the lack of virtues provided by cardio - which, of course, allows me to skip the treadmill and releases me from this Women's Health-type of forced goal of being able to run a 6 minute 45 second mile. I flippin' HATE cardio. Since everyone I know follows the calories-in/calories-out formula they say "just do more cardio". Then when I don't do cardio, because I hate it and know it won't help with weight loss (it is good for you in other ways), I am wracked (racked?) with guilt. Which leads me to the final point of my ramble:

4. Could The Secret  cult people actually be right? Maybe my negative attitude and lack of belief in the low-carb way of eating is what's keeping the weight on. Oh great. So now I have to perfect my weekly meal planning, cook satisfying meals and snacks using the, like, 5 Induction-approved foods I actually like, resist wine at all costs, give up the rolls with garlic oil at Bertucci's, AND try to be positive? This is not "effortless"!!

But the beat goes on. I will effing do this. And I will look effing amazing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

happy birthday to me

Since I have to be at work on my birthday, I might as well have something good for lunch.

This is what my lovely husband grilled for me last night and packed up for me to bring into work. I love him. And I looooove steak!

Who needs a fuckin' sandwich when you have a whole cow?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

open thread

I'm hoping some folks from Amy Alkon's thread on Gary Taubes will visit and we can discuss low carbing for dummies!

Some things I'd love to discuss:
  • Sluggishness on a new low carb plan
  • How many carbs a day you're eating - can you really NOT count and just eat limitless eggs, meat, green veggies, a little cheese, butter, etc.?
  • What you're eating - snack ideas beside pepperoni, salami and cheese?
  • Recipes
  • General low carb nutrition questions
  • More reading recommendations
  • Sob stories about forgoing your own birthday cake to keep your carbs down
  • ...Happy endings where you cook a delicious low carb cake with cream cheese frosting the next year and declare victory on your ass fat
  • Do you use low carb substitutes - like the bread I talked about in yesterday's post? Do you find you can lose weight while eating that kind of stuff or do you totally eliminate it?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

product review: Pepperidge Farm Carb Style 7 Grain Bread

Some things can be easily substituted with a low-carb product (using Dream Fields spaghetti), swapped for something similar (using spaghetti squash instead of real spaghetti) or eliminated completely from one's diet with little suffering (be strong!). When you're going low carb the first thing you think about when you start is "no bread or pasta?!" followed by a big fat frowny face. If you're doing Atkins, a lot of substitutions may not okay for Induction, however once you're in maybe phase 2, and definitely phase 3, some of these things can be introduced. 

Also, a random tangent: Is 1 net carb from reduced-carb wheat bread somehow worse than 1 net carb from another source like a green veggie or steak?

Everything I've read talks about blood sugar levels and subsequent insulin spikes - and I understand how carbs (from bread, fruit, sweeteners, etc.) affect these levels and that the goal is to keep the levels low and stable. 

But is a net carb a net carb? I'm not talking about other nutritional value. Of course one net carb from strawberries is "better" than one net carb from a bread product because the berries have more nutrients and also a higher water content (lots of carb-cutting people find themselves dehydrating more quickly because they're eating less fruit and therefore consuming less water without realizing it). I have no idea if a carb = a carb. If it goes beyond mere net carbs I'd like to know because I'd hate to think I am really sabotaging myself. Remember when Snackwell's were huge? We all thought we could eat a box of cookies and never get fat. Wrong! I hope this Carb Style bread isn't something similar.

However, lots of low carb blogs seem to mention plenty of substitute products, like reduced carb bread and Dream Fields pasta (review soon!) and find it doesn't necessarily cause them to gain weight...but these products MAY cause SOME folks to have slower weight loss. So, I guess, see how your body responds and add these things in back in slowly after first cutting them out altogether.

I really like the Pepperidge Farm Carb Style 7 Grain Bread. It's not on their main website so I hope it's not discontinued!!!! This bread only has five net carbs per slice, and the slices are a nice size. They're not monstrous but nor are they thin and weak. These slices can stand up to your sandwich and breakfast needs and the texture is nice and dough-y. They toast up really nicely for you to slap on lots of butter and eat along side some fatty protein. It is awesome for adding variety into the sometimes boring bacon and eggs routine (who ever though they could get sick of bacon and eggs?!). See my first post: Stawberry Toast

Keep in mind that this bread's net carb content doesn't give you carte blanche to eat the loaf. I know, it's so tempting. Five carbs per slice is great for a bread but other tenets of low carb dogma include ingesting protein and fat to help maintain steady blood glucose and to feel sated sooner and stay that way longer. Simply sitting down to a few slices of bread might only be a marginal improvement with Carb Style over regular. But with a little careful planning it will help you stay on track without having to make one more sacrifice and leave you trying to reinvent breakfast and lunch - toast and sandwiches are back (just make sure to include extra bacon and real mayo...mmm turkey club anyone?)! 


My friend, Pele, mentioned another bread that I might investigate after I use this one up. If you have any recommendations I'd love to hear about them!

UPDATE March 9, 2011: I've decided to cut bread out of my eating plan, at least until the weight is off. I fear that including the bread is slowing my weight loss down. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

guest appearance: Ruby

I'm one of those annoying people who is obsessed with her dog. I'll post about her every now and then to break up the low carb stuff sometimes...because it gives me an excuse to talk about my lil girl and show off her cuteness.

Ruby is a one year old Boxer. True to her breed, she loves to cuddle, meet new friends (humans and canines, felines...we can't tell if she wants to play or eat them), and run around like a mad woman. She is so cute it hurts.

Where's my ball? It's under the couch! Crap! Ah! Must get it! My head won't fit! My wrinkles are so cute!!

Hey, hey! I found some pumpkin in my bowl, mmm!
I wonder if they can see me?
I love Birthday Monkey - my friend Barley is such a thoughtful lil guy! He's pretty cute, too...

Excuse me? Lady with the camera? Um, wear did my lip go? I cannot find it.