Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eating Out Survival of the Fittest

Eating out at a restaurant doesn’t have to mean you’re cheating on your diet or forgoing your health. In fact, you can still stay on track when you’re eating out. How would anyone survive otherwise? Eating out – whether it’s on the go or sitting down with friends – is a part of life, and having a social life is just as important to a healthy lifestyle as eating a healthy, balanced diet.
It’s slowly becoming more common for restaurants to display their nutritional information right on the menu, but you won’t find it everywhere. That’s why it’s important to read menu descriptions and be able to figure out which options are healthy and which ones to avoid.  Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done! For example, you’d think ordering a bowl of Chicken Noodle soup would be a healthy starter, but at P.F. Chang’s that starter will cost you nearly 800 calories and 24 grams of fat!
It might be tricky, but with a little will-power and these helpful tips, you’ll learn how to decode menus and never feel guilty about going out to eat again!

1. Plan ahead at a time when you are not hungry.   Most places nowadays have their menus and nutritional guides online.  Before you go, take a minute to look at the menu and plan what you are going to order.   This will help you make an informed decision, and you will make smarter choices when you are not rushed and "starving." This will also make you appreciate the experience more.
2. Ask how food is prepared. If the menu doesn’t specify how something is cooked, there is nothing wrong with asking! You might think you’re ordering a healthy chicken and vegetable dish, but then it comes out swimming in oil. You can usually ask that your food be cooked with less or no butter or oil, and if you order a chicken sandwich, make sure the chicken is grilled, not fried.
3. Always get dressing, gravy, and other sauces on the side. Salad dressing can turn a 400-calorie salad into a high-fat, 800-calorie disaster! By ordering it on the side, you can control how much you use. And you usually don’t need half of what they give you!  If you need a sauce to liven up your fare, try salsas or relishes.4. Avoid items on the menu that say fried (crunchy or crispy), au gratin,braised, buttered, creamed or escalloped.  Anything “smoldered in cheese” is also usually a red flag. Look for baked, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted, or steamed instead!
5. Skip the bread and butter. In fact, ask that it not be brought to the table at all – if no one else wants it, of course. Instead of loading up on carbs before your meal, order a side salad or something light that will help fill you up in a healthy way. One breadstick from Olive Garden has 150 calories, and it’s pretty hard to stop at one!
6. Substitute sides or toppings. Ask for a baked potato or side salad instead of french fries, or a low-carb lettuce wrap in exchange for a sandwich bun or bread. TGI Friday’s Cobb Salad has 1245 calories. Asking for dressing on the side, and getting rid of the bacon and cheese will save you a couple hundred calories. Most restaurants will be happy to accommodate, either for free or a very small charge, and you’ll save hundreds of calories.
7. Order from the “light” menu. Many restaurants now offer a healthy, lower calorie menu that still offers plenty of delicious options. This makes it a whole lot easier to pick something healthy. These options usually have the nutritional info right there on the menu, so you can pick the best one for you, whether it’s something lower in calories, sodium or fat. Some even have “skinny” cocktails!
8. Order à la carte.  You don't want to find yourself looking down at a plate filled with some food that will make you fat and wreck your health. French fries are a good example. They're pure carbohydrate drenched in saturated fat and smothered in salt. And if you get into a test of willpower over them, you'll lose. Ordering each course individually can save you a considerable amount of grief.
9. Share an entree. Portion sizes are much bigger than they should be in restaurants, so why not share an entree? Order a starter salad (with the dressing on the side!) for each person and then ask to share the entree plate. Most restaurants will be nice and actually bring out the dinner on two separate plates. If no one wants to share, or you want to have something to bring home with you, ask for a to-go box when your meal comes. That way you can put half away before you’re tempted to eat the whole thing – sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs!
10. Go for whole foods and fish or poultry.
Pasta should be a small side dish, not a main course. Skip anything that's breaded or battered,
 11. Stick with water with lemon or unsweetened iced tea. Avoid soda and juice, and especially fancy cocktails that sound like desserts. If you’re going to drink alcohol, stick to one glass of wine.

But remember, eating out is supposed to be fun! Don’t stress out too much about every little thing you eat, or everytime you go out to eat. It’s okay to treat yourself once in a while!

Have a great day and Eat Well and Play Well~

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tomato Tart

Here we have the beginnings of a French Wedding Tart.   Isn't it breath taking?
Glorious Tomatoes.
When my mother-in-law was here in August we made this tart, and we made it again Christmas Day to bring over to my dad's for lunch.

When we made it in December we got the bag of sliced swiss and Guyere from Trader Joe's, which turned out to be a perfect mixture.

After removing from the oven.

Ta- Da!

Now the fun part is letting it rest for 20 minutes (if you can) and getting it onto the plate.
Almost perfect landing...

Pair it with some greens and you have a treat of a meal. 

This is a beautiful way to cut the peppers, I will have to remember this, what a difference it makes.

Don't they look cute, nestled together on that plate.

Add Broccoli and this is a good reason to fill your plate and then clean it....

What a wonderful meal!~
Have a great day and Eat Well and Play Well

Recipe from:

A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France

By Georgeanne Brennan

Monday, January 23, 2012

Restaurant Week(s)

Do you love tastey food and only dream of 3 course meals in a restaurant setting, while on your current budget? 

Seek out your local area's restaurant week below and you may find a 3 course lunch for $10, from one of your local and favorite restaurants.

January and February are typically slow months in the restaurant industry, so many towns host a Restaurant Week.

Check below to see the great deals.

Orange County Restaurant Week

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Seafood Cook In

This picture says a lot about our household.  

This is a hand caught Lobster, he was caught on a dark winter evening from California's coast.  

Pretty and scary at the same time, right?

Our inspiration for our New Year's Eve Cook-out started with the above pot.  We received the pot as a gift and it was all uphill from there.

For New Year's Eve we had a small group of good friends over at our house.   Everyone brought "a pound of seafood or meat" and we had ourselves a meal.

I don't have the pictures to prove it, but we started off with oysters on the half shell, with a homemade herb enhanced butter, courtesy of one of the guests.   The other half of the oysters were barbequed up and were said to be very tastey.

This pot is almost empty, as you can see.  I got to it late and everyone had already enjoyed themselves.  You can see the holes in the bottom, which is how the clams steam from the flavored (with beer and other fun additives) broth below.

Here is one of my sampler bowls, which includes the clam broth from the spicket.  Next stop is the fresh french bread for dipping in this clam sauce.

Here is our friend the lobster, well one of them atleast. 

You would be amazed by the ways that we have cooked lobster.  This one is barbequed. 
I still think the best is the flambe's that were happenning a couple years back, I can still see and taste them now.

Here is the aftermath, what a great picture.
A little close up.
We also had a wonderful New Mexican Green Chile Pork Stew (no Picture) that cooked for about a day and a half.  It was overshadowed  a bit,  by the abundance of food and all the seafood, but it was enjoyed the next couple of days by a few.

This was first thing New Year's Day, this shows where we spent most of our evening next to the fire and under the heating lamps.  It was a great night.  Most friends stayed the night, and it was a good feeling waking up to 2012 with a house full of friends. 

2012: I am ready for you knock my socks off in comparison to the previous two years.   So far, you are not dissapointing, keep it up.

Daily Ingredients & Track Stars

Is there one item or a couple of items that you consume or use daily that could be toxic to your health?   Do you track your progress so that you can achieve your goals?

For example, have you ever flipped over the bottle of Coffee-Mate creamer and read the ingredients?   If you haven't, you're in for a (not-so great) treat.   It is full of chemicals and very non "whole foods" items.    Does it really make your coffee taste that much better, causing your to you decide to put that in your body every morning?   One, two or three times, every morning.  If reading the ingredients isn't enough, measure the calorie content in what you usually pour into your mug.      The good news is that there is a new product out with the new year.  Coffee-Mate realized what they're dishing out is not so great and came out with: Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss.  It claims to be all natural and has only 4 (non chemically) ingredients.  How does it taste compared to your old standard?  Let me know.     

Another alternative to the oh so sweet bottle-of-chemicals is just pure sugar and milk.   Yes, I said pure sugar, or even try brown sugar.   Sugar is much more natural then the processed stuff that comes in the pretty little packages.    When you make that choice, you are choosing a "whole food."  If you are worried about your sugar intake, you can cut out sugar from somewhere else in your diet.  Like a processed...anything...

Back to tracking your progress.

A review came out of some new products for tracking your progress.  If you aren't in the market to buy a new product, you can always be vigilent and track your walk, run or skip on www.mapmyfitness.com and it is free.

Here a few new tracking devices to think about if you are planning to put yourself into full motion this year.

Reebok InColor Pedometer: ($40)  The clip-on records your steps, distance, total time moving, and speed.  Plus, it alerts you when you fall behind your goal pace.

Fitbit Ultra: ($100)  Be a stair master wit this, while it measures how many steps you take and how high you climb.  Messages like "Let's go!" pop up if it's been too long.

BodyMedia Fit Core Armband.   ($180)   Wear this 24/7 to track everything from how long and restfully you sleep to your exercise intensity and calorie burn.  If money were no object, I would have one of these :)

Have a great day and EatWell and PlayWell ~

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year Everyone.  I don't know about you, but I am looking forward to a new year with new memories and new experiences.  I was reminded by a speaker on New Year's Eve that this year will hold new challenges, new opportunities, and new problems.  How we handle them and grow from them, are an important part of how our year will turn out.

What are you hoping to get out of 2012?  What are you planning to get out of 2012?  What goals, mini goals, and plans have you put into place to make that happen?  Where will you be 365 days from now and what will you have accomplished that is progress from today?  

I came acrossed this little chart in a magazine, and it struck me as profound.  Hopefully this will serve as motivation for all and as a fun read.

It talks about how even a little exercise improves your well-being, but the benefits multiply as you rack up more time.  Make every minute count, see where your weekly tally falls on this health - o - meter.

Weekly Tally-

90 minutes to Live Longer:  Get moving for just 15 minutes six days a week and you'll increase your lifespan by three years, according to a Taiwanese study.

135 minutes to Feel Happier:  Working out boosts your energy and reduces stress.  Plus, a Duke University study found that 45 minutes of cardio three days a week may be as effective as prescription drugs for treating depression.

150 minutes to Strengthen your Ticker:  Research published in Circulation found that 2.5 hours of exercise lowers a woman's risk of heart disease by 14 percent.

210 minutes to Prevent Diabetes:  Research in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport showed that this amount of exercise improves blood sugar control, which can halt the onset of type 2 diabetes.

275 minutes to Drop Pounnds:  A healthy diet along with 55 minute workouts five days a week may help you lose 10 percent of your weight- and keep it off- according to a studay in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Shape Magazine, January 2012

Those stats are astonishing to me.  The first one alone is enough to get anyone thinking and to get me out on the street pounding the pavement.   I think I may post this article up somewhere in plain sight to help me kick off this year on the right foot. 

New Years Resolutions:   One of my resolutions for 2012 is that I am going to get in more yoga time and more running.   I already walk a lot but it is time to take it up a notch.  What were yours?

Thanks for joining me in this new year on a journey through 2012.

Eat Well and Play Well~