In A Pickle

Pickles can be pretty, too!

Pickles can be pretty, too!

I wish getting back into healthy living/weight loss was a 100% empowering moment. It’s a good moment- don’t get me wrong- but it’s not 100% empowering, especially if you’re someone like me. This is a marathon I’ve signed-up for a dozen times. Thus far, each time found me a) falling to the asphalt, grabbing my ankle, and limping off to the sidelines (less common), or b) starting the race strong, but being completely distracted by a taco cart on the sidelines of the race… mmmm… delicious tacos… and before I’m done licking Tapatio off my fingers I’ve completely forgotten I was supposed to be running a race (far, far more common). When I start this anew I feel like I have to acknowledge that this is something I’m an expert at failing at. And it’s totally killing my Xena-like war cry. So I’m not gonna right now.

So yeah. I haven’t updated in a while. But I’m back. Now let’s make pickles.

These quick house pickles are delish- even for people who don’t generally like pickles in a jar. It’s a great way to enjoy veggies without a dip or squirt of ranch dressing. Recently I entertained and made a platter of heirloom carrots, french green beans, red onion, and Persian cucumber pickles. It looked very chic and took almost no effort. There were no leftovers, but the pickled onions would have been fantastic on a sandwich or a turkey burger.

For the Stuffs:

  • 1- 1 1/2 lb of veggies. This can include almost anything. Carrots, onions, green beans, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccolini, asparagus, zucchini. Run Wild!

For the Brine:

  • 1 1/4 C Cider Vinegar
  • 1 C Hot Water
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1/3 C Sugar or 1/2 C Agave Nectar
  • 2 TBsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 TBsp Whole Peppercorns, give them a good smashing
  • 1-7 Cloves Garlic, Chopped (I love garlic so I used a lot)
  • 1 Bay Leaf

1.) Dissolve the Sugar or Agave into the hot water. Add the peppercorns, bay, garlic, salt, lemon juice, and cider vinegar. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2.) Cut/trip your veggies so they’re uniform in size. If using carrots, green beans, cauliflower, broccolini, or asparagus, blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. This really helps get a nice texture and color.

3.) Pack your veggies tightly into your pickling containers of choice (I used several tupperware containers) and pour the cold brine over them. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Serving size is 1 Cup.

Eat within a week. These are not the kind of pickles that hang out in your fridge for an eternity! 1 week tops!

Calories: 60  – Fat : 0 grams –  Carbs: 15 – Fiber: 4 grams – Protein: 1 grams

(Nutrition info given for pickled carrots)

How To Take a “Before” and “After” Photo

The faces of the changed. Smiles abound!

As I mentioned, I’m starting turbo fire today. And, not wanting to miss even a workout of progress without documenting the soon-to-be-astounding change in my body, I set out to take my “before” photos. The documentation in this kit is pretty insistent that you do, it’s like they’re farming them for their “Look what we can do!” photo montage of flabby schlubs turning into happier, if inexplicably tanned, muscle machines. But hey, I’m game. Here are their instructions:

The more you show, the more you’ll know. Wear a swimsuit, underwear, or something comparable so you can see where you need the work and where you’re making progress. Don’t be afraid to show some skin. No. No. No. No. And no. Every woman under the sun knows the areas where she thinks she needs some work: thin, small, fat, or tall. We chant these areas in our head like a twisted mantra whenever we look in full-length mirrors. I don’t need to document the beginning of this quest in a two-piece. Eff you.

1. Use a plain background if possible. Mmmkay. Check.

2. Take a few front shots (hands on hips, “bicepts flex” muscle pose). A few side shots (hands at sides), and a few back shots (hands on hips, “biceps flex” muscle pose). “Bicepts flex”? Nah, that’s okay. The front shots I can totally do. Side shots…. okay. But the back shots mean that I have to involve another person in this process, and that’s NOT happening. And is it weird that I feel an obligation to frown in these? Every “before” picture I’ve ever seen on TV the person looks a bit dead inside, like they’re in the home stretch at an IKEA sale on a Sunday afternoon. If you really want a motivating before picture, why not suggest people take the photo sitting, knees closest to the camera, in light-washed tapered mom jeans eating a piece of cake? Nightmare.

3. Don’t suck it in or push it out. You want a true reflection of your body’s appearance. This is not just a “before” photo, it’s a goodbye photo. I’ve spent my whole life “sucking it in”. And it’s obvious I don’t want a true reflection of my body’s current appearance, that’s why I’m endeavoring to change almost everything about it..

4. Repeat this process to chart your visual progress.

5. Visit blahblahblah.com and post your photos online. Free marketing photos for you, irrelevant bragging rights for me?

I get that this “before” picture is supposed to be a photo I can later reflect on when I’m an “after”. Whenever I hear “afters” talk about their “befores” it’s always with an air of disgust or sadness: “I can’t believe I used to look like that!” “I was so miserable!” “Ugh! Chins! Chins everywhere!”

I consider myself to be a happy person. And, save for some requisite weight-centric self consciousness, I also consider myself to be confident. I hate thinking that my future self will look back on me as I am now and see disappointment and sadness. I don’t feel that way now. I feel empowered.

In short: I took my “before” pics. I smiled wide. I might have even flexed in a few. I most definitely did not wear a swimsuit.

I’ve decided to look at my “before” pictures, not as my personal “rock bottom” of fitness, but rather the cheery photo you might take at the beginning of a long hike over a big mountain: It’s a start, I have no idea what’s around the bend, it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m excited 🙂

The 64 Calorie Chocolate Sauce That Goes With Everything

Chocolate excuse 139,234,901: Chocolate is full of antioxidants.

I see a lot of dessert recipes on diet blogs that involve making 12 calorie reduced cupcakes, or 2 dozen low fat cookies, or one sugar-free cake. That’s great if you’re cooking for a crowd of dieters, but when we’re on our own isn’t that playing with fire? What am I supposed to do with the other 23 servings of cookies that doesn’t involve a large glass of milk and a two day True Blood marathon?

What about a dessert you can make when you want to be good and you don’t have an emergency pint of gelato in the fridge because you were a champion and didn’t buy any? What if it was Chocolate? What if it was 64 calories? What if it took 5 minutes to make?…

TaDAH!!!!

This is The Chocolate Sauce that goes with Everything! It makes a perfect single portion and tastes decadent and decidedly un-diety. Drizzle it over bananas, strawberries, raspberries, apples, popcorn, even carrots (maybe I’m a freak but I love dunking thin slices of carrots into this). Add it to a hot glass of milk, a cold cup of nonfat yogurt, a cup of coffee. Make everything chocolate! I love this stuff!

Use a high-quality unsweetened cocoa like Ghiradelli or Scharffen Berger, or Valrhona. I forbid you to use a crappy brand. Use the good stuff. Yes, it makes a difference.

  • 2 TBsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 TBsp half and half
  • 2-3 packets of Splenda or Stevia depending on how sweet you like it.
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp water or coffee, depending on the consistency you’d like
  • pinch of salt

Heat the liquids in a very small pot over the stove or in a large mug in the microwave until hot (not boiling). Add the cocoa and whisk until there are no clumps and the chocolate is smooth. Last, add the sweetener and salt and whisk to combine.

Now put it on everything!

Calories: 64  – Fat : 4.9 grams –  Carbs: 7.2 – Fiber: 3.6 grams – Protein: 3 grams

Love Your Onions

I love onions, but in raw applications they can be a bit overpowering. Never fear- the solution is here (and super low calorie!)

What gives cut raw onions that acrid umph are sulphonic acids, and they’re the same things that are responsible for making you cry while you cut them. There are two things that denature these compounds: heat, and an acidic liquid.

To make raw onions delicious in salads, sandwiches, or any other raw onion recipe, simply coat or massage your cut onions in a small amount of vinegar or citrus juice and let it sit for 5 minutes. I use about 1 teaspoon of acid per medium sliced or chopped onion. The resulting onions will be free of pungency, taste much sweeter, and have a nice pliant texture about them.

The powerful raw onion- some people are repelled by its animal magnetism...

See how a little acid can tame the wild beast? Like a hunky macho guy who decides to date the kind of girl who wears shirts that say "Princess" on them and then BAM! He has to walk her little rhinestone-collared chihuahua and pick up its number twos. So yeah... Onions in acid!

As a bonus, this also mellows the flavor of scallions, leeks, garlic, shallots, and chives (though if you’re cooking them that will take care of the sulphonic acids anyway).