August 31, 2010

BL3 First Weigh-In!


So it is that time again, weigh-in day!  Email me or facebook me your starting weight today and then every Tuesday until October 19th.  Let me know if you want to have a prize for the winner, I'm thinking we have enough people and would only need to pitch in $5 and we could probably do prizes for the top 2.  Our winner from BL2 just got her prize, her very own Keri Bag!  Michelle lost 7.69% to get this baby! This is the perfect bag for walking to the farmer's market and buying all sorts of healthy veggies and local items.  It was sewn with love from our very own Pickle, check out her Etsy shop here.  I don't have my list in front of me but so far we have Claire, Danielle, Me (duh), Michelle M-K, Michelle S-B, Amy S-C, Chelsea, Karin, Tracy C-R, Sharon, Marcy...did I miss anyone? Anyone else want to join us?  



A Few Rules:
  • First weigh-in will be Tuesday August 31 with a 1 week grace period for those who are unable on day 1.
  • Weigh in every Tuesday for 7 weeks and report your progress to me via email or facebook message (no one's weight will be shared on this blog)
  • I'll post weekly results
  • Final weigh-in is Tuesday October 19, you have to weigh in sometime during the last week
  • There will be a prize for the winner if we so choose

A Few More Rules:
  • Ladies only, and only ladies I know or who Follow my blog (anyone else can certainly follow along and would love to hear your comments!)
  • We're on the honor system, cheaters need not apply
  • Weekly weigh-ins should be on the same scale, at the same time, in the same outfit (or sans outfit if you prefer) and don't do something sneaky for that first weigh-in like down a gallon of water or put on your snow suit (Claire, this means you). Even though Claire is now skinny, she's still sneaky, so I'll leave this rule in.  :)  
  • The person that loses the largest percentage of body weight (not number of pounds) will be our Biggest Loser
  • Post a comment to this blog or send me an email if you want to participate!!!
  • keri dot hoffman at pepsico dot com


If you want a recap of past contests, click Biggest Loser in the archive by content section on the right.  Good luck everyone!!!!

August 28, 2010

Biggest Loser 3????

So I just spent a fantastic week in good ole Michigan eating my heart out...not intentionally, but eating out 3 meals a day is kind of the norm when traveling.  It was a hectic and stressful week which triggers something in my brain to say french fries are legal.  Seriously, there wasn't a meal without a potato somewhere on my plate.  Anyway, I got to see everyone, spend time with my dad,  and I got a lot of work done.  I spent a minimum of 2-3 hours a day driving in the massive suburban supplied by Avis.  Blah blah blah, anyway, during this week I have eaten a lot of food, not all of it good for me, and haven't worked out.  I miss my juicer and my fruit smoothies, yoga, and workouts with my trainer.  I was already thinking, veggie detox starting Monday!  Then, at least 5 people emailed me in the last two days begging for a new contest.  So maybe it wasn't begging exactly, but there is interest.  I'm in if y'all are in. 

Here is the deal-y-o....we start Tuesday (duh) August 31 through Tuesday October 19.  7 weeks.  Why 7 you ask?  Because Danielle, Karin, and I leave on our cruise later that week and we need a little extra motivation.  If you're "in" send me your weight by Tuesday.

Details will come later.  Do you want to do it the same as the last two or do you have any ideas on how to change it up?  Do you want a prize, and if you do, do you want to contribute $5-$10 each?  I covered the prize last time but I'm no Donald Trump.  Email/FB me your suggestions.  I'm so ready.  See you all on Tuesday.

Yes Please

August 26, 2010

Olivéa's Pickled Carrots

Bernie and I went on a date last weekend to a hip local restaurant named Olivéa.  It was a mile and a half walk each way.  We sat outside and had a fabulous dinner and watched the comings and goings of the drag bar across the street.  

As if going out to dinner wasn't in itself a treat, this place has a charcuterie menu for crying out loud!  That alone makes Olivéa awesome in my book.  We started with (wine) pork belly with pickled spring vegetables (carrots, onions, and a mystery veggie).  Then we had (wine) the prosciutto flat bread with black mission figs and gorgonzola.  Then we had (wine) salads...I had the arugula salad with pistachios, goat cheese and roasted golden beets, Bernie had a cucumber salad that was on special.  At this point I was ready to call it a night but we had ordered entrees which we totally didn't need or want.  Bernie got the pork loin with crispy sweet corn polenta, pickled cherries and shaved fennel and I had the grilled skirt steak with romesco, agro dolce onions and crispy potatoes.  And because we didn't quite eat enough we split a desert...chocolate and fleur de sel caramel tart with milk chocolate gelato and nougatine crunch.  O.M.G.

Thank baby Jesus we were walking home is all I have to say.  One - because we drank way too much and Two - because we needed to walk before our arteries hardened.

So where was this story going?  Oh yeah, pickled carrots.  We were so impressed by the pickled veggies served with the pork belly that I emailed the chef for the recipe and he actually sent it to me!  Same day!  I would share it here but that seems like a douche move since I didn't actually say I wanted to share it with my 6 readers.  If you're interested email me and I'll send it to you.  Typical pickle ingredients: vinegar, sugar, water, salt, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, garlic, chili flakes, and carrots.  The restaurant used very small carrots but not those mutant "baby carrots" sold in bags.  They had a hint of a green stem on top.  I tried my best to use small carrots from the farmer's market but I had to chop some into sticks.  I switched jar size last minute so my sticks were a little height challenged.






We waited a few days to try them.  The carrots were a little crunchier than I remembered them being at the restaurant, maybe they will soften up over time or maybe I should have sauteed them longer.  A little less sugar next time as they are fairly sweet.  You can really taste the thyme, in a good way of course.  All in all they are pretty yummy and very easy to make.  If I make another batch I'm going to try this recipe from David Lebovitz.


August 23, 2010

Contest!

When I worked with Sherri to redesign my blog header I wanted to put some sort of a tag line in small print at the bottom in the blue area but I couldn't think up anything catchy.  One of the downfalls of an engineer's brain I guess.  I'm looking for a single sentence that describes me or the theme of my blog (if there even is one).  If you have any ideas post them in the comments section of this post.  If I find one I like there is a $10 Starbuck's card in it for you!  Come on, you know you want to.


See some examples (also, some good reads):



August 21, 2010

Who are you people?

Blogspot has some new (to me) stats that you can use to see how many people are reading your blog, what country they live in, etc.  So, who are you non-U.S. folks?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you're up to in Latvia, or Denmark, or Bulgaria.  I'm seriously curious here.  And thanks for reading!

Pageviews by Countries
United States
1,020
Canada
52
United Kingdom
10
Latvia
8
China
6
Germany
6
Mexico
6
Denmark
4
Russia
4
Bulgaria
3

August 20, 2010

SuperSecret's Fridge Pickles

I never would have guessed the dill pickles I loved growing up came from a packet.  Just buy yourself a Mrs. Wages packet at your local Wal-mart (gasp!) and for $3.20 you can have all the Kosher dills your little heart desires.  My memory tells me I spent half that much, but I could be wrong.  Either way, cheap-o.  My SuperSecretFriend (SSF) gave me her dill pickle recipe and Bernie and I made 3 pints of kosher dills last week.  I filled one jar with my own pickling cucumbers picked early so they were nice and small, the rest came from the farmer's market.  Follow the instructions on the Mrs. Wages packet until you get to the "prepare" stage.  If you're worried about not water bath canning these, SSF has been using this recipe for ages and no one has died.  That I know of.  Here's how it went down...

fresh from the garden
put 1 dill flower (add first) and 2 garlic cloves in each jar
pack in your cukes
pour the brine in the jars leaving some head space
Put the lids on tight and leave the jars on the counter for 24 hours.  Put them in the fridge and Voila, pickles!  (SSF says/writes Wholla! which cracks my shit up)

Love these pickles, love them more that we made them.  Stay tuned, I have 3 "French" pickle plants growing and hope to can some cornichons before the season is over.

Headers for Hire

Did anyone notice the new layout?  Need a new layout for your blog?

MYSTN was revamped by the fabulous Sherri over at Le Claw.  She recently started offering up her services as a graphic designer to those in need of a new blog header, for a modest fee of course.  Read all about it on the Claw or see some of Sherri's work at Headers for Hire.  She's fast, easy to work with, and cheap.  What more could you ask for?  I love the new look, totally classy.  If you were curious, the picture is of City Park in the summer which is a whopping 30 feet from our house.

Thanks Sherri!

p.s. more layout changes to come if I get the time to play around, eventually it will happen, someday.

August 19, 2010

Under Construction!!!

Details to follow, MYSTN is getting a makeover.

borrowed from the internet

August 17, 2010

Grow Dammit Grow, part 8, August Update

Remember when our garden looked like this?
Or even this?
So clean, so organized, so...engineered.
Now it is a mutant ninja garden
 That three foot tall green thing towards the back right is my giant basil plant, one of them anyway.
When I got my new Mac I lost a month's worth of pictures.  I wish you could have seen all the tomato plants that were seven feet tall before I hacked them down pruned them.  All 8 tomato plants were over the fence.  And Carolina was right, I put them wayyyy to close together and now we have to fight our way in between the plants to pick the fruit.  And when I said to myself, I'm totally planting squash, how bad could it be?  Yeah, that is only two winter squash plants taking over our yard.

So, what does your garden grow you ask?

The tomatoes are starting to come in - red and yellow pears, roma's, New Yorkers, some Black Krim's, and one yellow brandywine.  The pear tomatoes are by far my favorite so far.  The red bell peppers and the red brandywine's are turning colors as I type. We've eaten the beets and half of the carrots.  We've picked lots of cucumbers and a little broccoli.  There is a never ending supply of basil.  Most of the leeks are growing big.  We have a shit ton of butternut squash growing and a good number of buttercup squash too.  The parsnip greens are huge but only time will tell on those next spring.  And if that wasn't enough, the eggplant is finally growing and has blossoms!

As for the latest in city garden planning, check out Phase II on the opposite side of the yard.  I just planted lettuce, spinach, kale, and beets last night.  A little late but oh well.  Next month the garlic will go in.
Ah, so organized, so peaceful...


August 16, 2010

Batali's Pesto

I lurve me some pesto!  I've never made pesto before, typically mine comes economy sized from Costco which actually is pretty good stuff.  Last night Bernie and I made a quadruple batch of Mario Batali's Basil Pesto recipe from his newest book, Molto Gusto.  As a side note, I'm loving that book.  The recipes are mostly vegetarian, fresh, and simple.  What a concept!  We made our pesto with the basil we grew.  I think I have enough basil to make 2 gallons of pesto if anyone needs any, let me know.  I'm going to experiment with other recipes and stock up the freezer before winter.  Will keep you posted on my favorite.

The 4x recipe made 2 half pints and the rest went into two freezer bags.  I'm sorry but these jars are too cute.
For dinner I took some veggies from the garden - pear tomatoes and broccoli
Then I cooked up some fresh pasta and tossed it lightly with the pesto, tomatoes, broccoli, and thanks to a suggestion by David Lebovitz, some reserved pasta water and a little butter
I topped it with a little fresh grated Parmesan and served it with some white wine.  Bernie loved it.  So did I.

Recipe
Basil Pesto by Mario Batali via Molto Gusto
makes 1 cup

3 garlic cloves
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
3T pine nuts
Generous pinch of Maldon or other flaky sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3T grated pecorino romano

With the motor running, drop the garlic into a food processor to chop it.  Add the basil, pine nuts, and salt and pulse until the basil and nuts are coarsely chopped, then process until finely chopped.  With the motor running, drizzle in the oil.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the Parm and pecorino.  (The pesto can be stored in a tightly sealed jar, topped with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil, for several weeks in the refrigerator.)



You like me, you really like me!

I just had to share the most awesome email I received today that made me feel like a Superstar! (I'm picturing Molly Shannon saying this). I've mentioned before I felt like the idea of me writing a blog was kind of a conceited thing to do but I didn't feel that way about other people's blogs.  I mean seriously, I read wayyyyy too many blogs and can't wait for the latest updates!  So when people connect to what I have to say I'm flattered.  And surprised.  I got a ton of positive feedback on the detox blogs (who knew you guys were interested in torture, I mean, ahem, health) and then to get this email I was blown away and I just wanted to say thanks for everyone, all 5 of you, for checking in week after week!

So here it is, my friend is a private person and I've been trying to think up a super secret blog nickname for her but I can't come up with one that wouldn't give her away in an instant.  So I guess I'll just call her my SuperSecretFriend, and here is how much she loves me:

No blogging lately??????????? :(    You get blogging and get us all excited to see what your doing the next day or few days that we are looking forward to what is going on and check it everyday and then nothing, yep we keep checking and nothing there.  It's like getting the newspaper and looking forward to reading your favorite article and when you get the paper it's not in today's paper.  What the heck?  What about your pickles, pesto, mini marathon?  Cheese?  Your garden experience?  Some of these are articles you started your readers curiosity and we are still waiting for the end.  

So here's what some of us are waiting for:
Pictures of your garden all grown- you said in the post of my garden that yours was to follow???
Bernie being gone,you sleeping with a screw driver and locking yourself in the bedroom- what happened, how was it???????
Mini Marathon (forgot what this was actually called) - when is it, are you still looking forward to it??????
What have you made with produce from your garden- would you make it again???????????
Have you found and new wines or wine/food combos that your enjoying??????
Ok I'm sure you get the idea- your readers are waiting :)   Before you get sassy with me remember you started the blog to share and to have people to tell so you would stay on track, so I hope I am helping you and if not oops.   I just really enjoy reading it and find it very interesting.

Thanks for all the awesome blog ideas, I'll get crackalackin on these right away! 

August 8, 2010

CrazySexyJuice Anyone?

Living healthy is about balance right?  So yesterday was about wine, and today is about juice!  Most of you know from my 57 detox blog posts that I bought a juicer a few weeks ago.  Here is the long and the short of it.  

A few years ago I watched a documentary called Crazy Sexy Cancer about a hot young NYC actress who got a rare and incurable cancer.  One of the ways she tried to combat her disease was through food, mainly a raw vegan diet.  I found myself instantly wanting to be healthier and declared to Bernie, "I WANT A JUICER!!!"  I watched the movie a few days before my friend Danielle and I were going to do an all fruit, all raw cleanse.  It was terrible.  We drank store bought juice and stuffed down plain raw veggies and fruit.  One sip of carrot juice and I almost gagged on my desk.  Straight in the garbage that went.  We went through serious caffeine withdrawal. Somehow going to a hot yoga class seemed like a good idea where again I almost threw up.  Needless to say on the way home we went to a deli.  Our cleanse lasted 2.5 days.  Not a good experience which Bernie promptly quipped, "still want that juicer?"  Jerk.  But it was true, I did not want that juicer.  That was almost 3 years ago.

After transitioning to a more vegetarian diet over the last year (mainly due to high protein backlash which made it so I can hardly stomach chicken) and a family member's cancer diagnosis I decided to watch CrazySexyCancer again.  I felt just as inspired as the first time I watched it.  This time I thought, I have to buy a juicer, so I did.  My dad had a stroke.  My mom died of cancer.  Shouldn't I start combating this shit now I thought?  About 2 minutes after I bought the juicer Bernie's cousins Nipper and Karen mentioned the book The Green Smoothie Revolution.  Then I was wondering, do I return the juicer and buy a fancy blender?  Which is better?  I think the answer is there is room for both.  Juice allows you to get all kinds of nutrients straight into your bloodstream while smoothie's offer the great benefits of fiber and less of the fruits/veggies go to waste.  I have mainly been juicing (typically 3 parts green to 1 part fruit)  but want to get more into the green smoothies eventually.  To hear both sides of the argument check out Kris' take on it here.  I will say I'm glad I have a compost pile because juicing produces a LOT of vegetable waste.  You can go through a huge stack of produce for just one glass - I've already got plans for The Garden Phase II to help keep costs down next year.  Seven years after her diagnosis Kris Carr's tumors are stable and she transitioned her website and message to Crazy Sexy Life.  Suiting and inspirational I think.  

Anyway, here are a few pics of me making my favorite juice.  I also wanted to mention I have kept off every single pound I took off during my detox week and then some even after going out of town and indulging on a few things when I returned!  I don't know if it has anything to do with eating raw or juicing but it's like something inside my body has changed.  If you're curious as to which juicer I got and why:  I bought the die cast Breville model 800JEXL from Bed Bath and Beyond.  I bought a Breville because they are easy to clean (all parts are top rack dishwasher safe), they have a large feed chute so you don't have to chop things up, and the die cast model matches the rest of my appliances.  When you talk to people that have juicers collecting dust it is typically because they were too hard to clean and they had to spend too much time chopping.  I'm very happy with it, but there are certainly cheaper models out there.






Waste shoots out on the left, juice on the right.  It tastes much better than it looks!!!  Pour it on some crushed ice and there you have it!

CUCUMBER, BASIL and LIME JUICE (GOOP)
SERVES: 1 (I double it)
Starting with the basil, juice everything into a glass, give it a stir and enjoy.
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise (I typically use regular cukes)
1/2 lime, zest and pith removed
1 apple, cut into wedges (I don't cut them unless they are really large)


August 7, 2010

Wine Anyone?

I can't believe I've never done a blog about one of my favorite things.  Wine!  So when I restocked the bar cart today I decided to share some of our everyday favorites.  Here is our cart, filled to the brim in a corner of the dining room.  Not bad for a $50 Craigslist purchase.
Atteca Old Vines 2008, a Garnacha from Spain.  It's our go to wine to have with pizza.  We've been buying this one since the 2005 vintage and each time you go from one vintage to another it is a little harsh so if you have the time (and money) try to buy enough so you can store it for awhile.  Winespectator rated the 2007 vintage a 90 and had the following tasting notes: Toasted vanilla and smoke notes accent raspberry and black cherry fruit in this sleek red, which has enough tannins for grip. The fresh finish echoes with dark chocolate and spice.

Here is a new favorite everyday red we just had for the first time a couple of weeks ago.  Olivares Altos De La Hoya 2008, a Monastrell from Spain.

Mostly we drink red wines but in the summer I love a good white, so refreshing on a hot day.  This year I've been drinking whatever Gruner Veltliner I can get my hands on, which isn't much since there are only a few choices in the wine store.  Hopler Gruner Veltliner 2008 from Austria.  I couldn't figure out how to get that double dot-thingy over the o and the u so you'll have to use your imagination.
All bottles shown are under $15.  French and Italian wines tend to be my favorites but they get pricey.  To find better prices without going too New World check out Spain, Chile, and Austria.  Bottoms up!

August 2, 2010

Detox Finale - last post I swear

Detox Finale!

Thought I would do one final detox post. Went to bed hungry last night and woke up starving. I didn’t have the time nor the inclination to juice this morning even though I could picture all the fruits and veggies in the fridge that might go to waste while I go to Virginia for a few days.

7:30am Breakfast – this was my typical breakfast that I had every day pre-detox: 2 eggs, 2 pieces of Ezekiel sprouted grain toast, butter spray. Today it is in my stomach like a ton of bricks. I feel gross and dehydrated. I think I’ve grown accustom to starting my day with vegetable juice and then transitioning to fruit for breakfast.  On the way to work I used to get a venti coffee with milk and stevia every single day.  I still haven't had coffee and even though it is like a warm little blanket that I love, I really haven't wanted to put that monkey back on my back.  Look for the dip in the Starbuck's stock.

I didn’t sleep last night – no reason really just kept clock watching every two hours until my alarm went off. I am so lethargic today. Breakfast is not helping my situation either.

12:15pm Lunch – another one of my pre-detox fav’s: eggplant panini with goat cheese and roasted peppers with a salad. It was fine but nothing special. I put this lunch on our calendars as our post-detox celebration and had been looking forward to it all week. I just kept thinking to myself, stay on track and you will have a panini on Monday.  It did not live up.  Tasted blah.  So far I've had three pre-detox foods and haven't enjoyed any of them.  Can your tastes change in just a week?

2:15pm cake. I admit it. Someone had birthday cake and I ate a piece.

After work I was hungry but I kept busy watering the garden, picking some tomatoes and cucumbers, cleaning the house and packing before my trip. Just in time to make dinner and I made my juice for tomorrow morning before rushing off to take Cooper to the kennel before it closed. He was so sad, seriously, I almost cried.  I didn't get to eat until after I got home.

8:15pm Dinner Mark Bittman’s Fried Rice with asparagus, peas, orange and yellow peppers, garlic, etc.  This is one of my all time favorite vegetarian meals although I think some fried pork would be a nice touch.

I think I’m going to try and stay on the “detox” plan as often as possible. This will be difficult when traveling to a town that only has an Applebees but otherwise I think I generally feel better when eating this way….fresh/raw fruits and veggies and nut butters during the day, cooked dinner at night.  The only way I can describe it is it feels like eating vitamins and medicine with every meal.  Health in a glass.  And if my weight keeps ticking down a little more each day then all the better.

Thanks to my two partners in crime, Claire and Chelsea, for doing this with me.  Having a workout "appointment" at the end of each day was the best thing we did for ourselves in my opinion.  How many workouts would we each have skipped if not for not wanting to let down the other person.  I admit I made a few threats but all in good fun.  I'll take motivation in whatever form works.  Good job ladies!

Claire's Detox Wrap-up

One last detox blog post from my partner in crime Claire. 

Bad news: I dropped out of the cleanse early.
Good news: at the time I dropped out my weight was 140! (5.5lbs lost!)

So I got through Friday okay, woke up Saturday a mess- I was hungry, sore, and nauseated; there was no way that my workout with Heather and Keri was going to be any more than me laying in the grass making faces at Kaden, which was fine,  I’m not sure what it was, maybe too much too soon? In any case, I called it quits. I ate tons of carbs trying to get my tummy to quiet down, but nothing seemed to work.

Today I’m feeling better. I had lunch w/ Ker and munched on some unsalted, non-chocolate trail mix throughout the day. I brought some juice but didn’t get to it. My plan moving forward is to juice at least once per day, eat vegetarian and unprocessed for my Monday through Friday breakfasts, lunches and snacks, and for dinner to enjoy the same ol’ healthy and delish meals my darling husband makes. On weekends I won’t go hog wild, but I will enjoy a glass or two of wine (who’m I kidding- I’m a Coors Light girl! Are those mountains blue yet?) and a decent meal, but will keep in mind portion control. That’s one thing this whole diet taught me- I can be satisfied on less, way less. And I’m probably eating a lot of crap because going back to eating “real” food was really painful. Besides the weight loss, I just look leaner, my hair is shinier, and my skin is more radiant and clear. Plus, I felt great- maybe it was the nutrients or just the placebo effect of the fact that I was proud of what I was doing, but in any case, it was totally worth it.

All in all, I’m going to consider this a success. I may not have lasted the whole time, but I did learn a lot about what my body needs versus what my head tells me, how much food I really need to function, and what types of foods I need, and what types I don’t.

If anyone else wants to try this, let me know. I’d be willing to do a few hardcore days again, even if my darling husband asked me not to because it turned me into a lovely biotch :)

August 1, 2010

Day 7 - The Detox is officially over

Day 7
Down 3.4lbs!

10:30am Basil, lime, apple, cuke juice w/kale. My favorite. I’m having some tea this morning, my first sip of caffeine in a few days. Got a late start so I didn’t bother with breakfast.

Shop shop shopped until I dropped. Went a little nuts. I was kind of joking the other day when I said I was going to buy a Mac OR socks OR sunglasses. Well I bought all three plus clothes at Banana and Anthro. I never looked at the clothes at Anthropologie before, why? Dummy.

1:30pm blue cheese and pear salad with dried cherries, pecans and vinaigrette at my favorite mall restaurant of all time – Nordstrom Café. Yum yum yum.

4:30pm Snack. I was starving by the time I got home as the salad was small. I downed the rest of my basil juice from this morning – I made a quadruple batch. In fairness I always make a double so I made a double double. I have a mild headache. I’m ready to rock this MacBook Pro if only Bernie would call with the password for our network. Oooh, he just did. Thanks Marija. (I've been keeping a running log of my detox experience this week so sometimes my tense is past, present, future).

5:15pm leftover homemade pizza from yesterday.

7:15pm dinner was leftover pasta primavera with goat cheese from yesterday.

My new Mac just wiped out the SD card for my digital camera. My last back-up was 6/28. Poor end to an otherwise great day.  I wonder if anything important was lost, or just the typical garden/dog pictures.  Big bummer.

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