Roasted Asparagus with Meyer Lemon

Oh Asparagus. Bright and delicious. We forgive you for making our pee smell weird.

Ever since Alice Waters got on the Meyer Lemon bandwagon you can find them everywhere from your hand soap to your frozen yogurt. I’d like to say I fly above food trends, but I’m as guilty as the next foodie. May is the last month when Meyer Lemons are in season, and I don’t feel as guilty splurging on them.  I love how their bright lemon-y goodness is somehow more round and sweet than the conventional lemons.

Since I love all things creamy and savory, I used to forget to consider balancing acid into what I cook. Acid was for salads, and perhaps afterthought garnish for fish. Not so when you’re cooking healthy. Since I’ve begun limiting fat as a vehicle for flavor I’ve turned to acids to add a nice bright punch. It’s not the comforting “eerrrrmmmmhhhh…!”  feel you get from cheese and butter, but it’s more of a “ShakahkAH!” And in this simple asparagus recipe meyer lemon juice is a perfect accent. So yummy and quick!

  • 2 lbs asparagus (medium thickness preferred)
  • 1/2 C very thinly sliced onion
  • 1 meyer lemon
  • 1 TBsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh black ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 and position a rack towards the top.

Line a sheet pan with foil. Cut the bottom third of the asparagus stems off and place on prepped pan with the onion. Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus and onion with salt and pepper, and toss  or massage to coat evenly. Spread into a single layer and put into the oven for 8-10 minutes, making sure to shake the pan halfway through cooking. Keep an eye on it, the asparagus should be bright green and fork tender, but perfectly cooked can quickly cascade into stringy olive-colored mush.

After the Asparagus is nicely roasted, place on a dish and drizzle meyer lemon juice on top. Delicious!

Serves Four

Calories: 81  – Fat : 3.7 grams –  Carbs: 10 – Fiber: 5 grams – Protein: 5.2 grams

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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).

The Gym Motivator

The Gym Motivator. Notice he's brandishing a magic wand...

I’m trying to do a lot of things this month, like go to the gym with regularity, and be on twitter more often. I subscribe to this guy on twitter who describes himself as “Gym Motivator” (@inspirationboss). Usually he just posts motivational quotes, but he posts over ten times a day, so every time I check in his tweets are usually near the top. Some quotes are the ol’ standbys:

“You must be the change you want to see in the world” -Ghandi

Others seem completely unrelated to gym motivation:

“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” -Zig Ziglar

However, recently I noticed that @inspirationboss just rapidly cycles through about 15 of the same quotes, and constantly re-uploads them every few hours. Gym Motivator is one lazy SOB.

In the grand scheme of themes, that doesn’t really matter. I doubt anyone on the planet was relying on their hourly, if very familiar, motivational quote from @inspirationboss to get their butt to the gym. But as someone who is trying to get themselves back into the swing of all things gym I have to ask: How do you do it? What’s more, is how do you keep doing it?

Thus far in my adult life I’ve had a lot of “Monday Resolutions.” Y’know, things I was going to really get crackin’ on come Monday. Or post-holidays. Or next New Years.

A few weeks ago I was going to start going to the gym as soon as I got my new New Balances from Zappos. But, in a crushing blow to my well-laid plans, when they arrived they were too big. And that’s really thrown off my projections of operation gym. I’m going to have to push back the deadline. My new shoes were really the foundation of the whole gym platform, and I can’t see moving forward without them.

Welcome to my brain. I’m ridiculous.

I know all of that is silly. If I was really motivated to exercise I could do it barefoot, without the perfect playlist, for free. It’s becoming clear that I’m stretching these rationalizations because I’m shooting for the wrong goal. I don’t want to go to the gym. I want to want to go to the gym. How do I motivate myself to get motivated?

Gym Motivator said  today (and every day for over 3 months):

“I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.” -Oprah Winfrey

I don’t want to dwell in a place of unspoken excuses and wake up (if I’m lucky) in the ER for a cardiac arrest because I was waiting to use my refund from Zappos to fund a crucial pair of gym shoes. That, at least, I know.

I guess that’s a place to start.

Broccoli Slaw

Image

Inspired by a Good Eats episode, I set out to make a healthier Broccoli Slaw! They sell a great broccoli salad in Whole foods but it’s plastered in Mayo. This uses raw broccoli that has been sliced thinly (less than 1/4″) at a diagonal. You could use a mandolin but I sliced mine by hand. I also added a good hit of chili flakes to give it a nice heat. They say spicy foods up your metabolism after a meal, but it’s probably just a bunch of hooey. Besides, who needs a metabolic reason to make something spicy?!

This has an Asian slant to it, and although I use a little honey and sugar you could theoretically substitute Splenda ( I just feel weird whisking powdered sweetener into a dressing. It just seems wrong).

Salad:

  • 1 lb Broccoli, sliced thin at a diagonal (’cause it’s prettier that way).
  • 1/2 C Red onion sliced very thin
  • 1 C Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/4-3/4 C Roasted Cashews or Peanuts chopped (depending on how caloric you’re willing to go)

Dressing:

  • 2 TB Fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 tsp Fresh Orange zest
  • 1 TB Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 TB Honey
  • 1 TB Sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 tsp Mustard
  • 1 TB Olive Oil
  • 1 TB Dark Sesame Seed Oil
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Red Hot Chili Flakes to taste

Prep all of your veggies but keep them separate. Prepare the dressing, adding the oils last. Whisk vigorously to combine. Add red onion to the dressing and let sit for 5 minutes.

Combine the broccoli, tomatoes, and nuts with the dressing. Toss to coat the broccoli well, then let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour, but preferably 3. It has to marinate a while so the salt can work on the Broccoli and give it a nice, manageable texture. Take out of the fridge at least 15 minutes ahead of time to let it come to room temperature before serving.

NOTE: DO NOT sub a bag of “Broccoli Slaw” stems for your own sliced broccoli in this recipe. This dressing wilt the little shreds until it’s an awkward texture.

Calories: 128  – Fat : 8 grams –  Carbs: 13 – Fiber: 2.5 grams – Protein: 3.5 grams

Summer Sauteed Corn

Fresh Farmer's Market Corn with Herbs. Golden Goodness!

I crave having some kind of starch with dinner. As I’m lightening up my favorite recipes, a big challenge is finding a starch that isn’t calorie-laden, or riddled with butter, oil, and cheese. In the summer time I reach for corn. Corn is delicious in the summertime; sweet and juicy, and so filling! It’s a guilt-free grain and packed with fiber (It even has protein!).

For a quick side dish I saute fresh corn with fresh herbs. I like to save myself the messy step of boiling whole ears by just cutting the kernels off the cob while fresh. Apple cider vinegar adds a nice little zing and compliments the sweetness of summer corn.

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1/4 C  minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp butter (optional)

1.) Cut the kernels off the cob using a very sharp knife. I like holding the cob upright in a bowl, since the kernels like to roll off onto the floor. Heat a medium saute pan over medium low heat. Add olive oil and onion and saute until onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.

2.) Add water, apple cider vinegar, corn, salt, and pepper. Stir corn occasionally to keep kernels from browning. Keep over medium low heat just until the kernels cook through and the liquid evaporates, about 8-10 minutes.

3.) Take corn off heat, add fresh herbs. If you would like butter (and who wouldn’t?!) you can add that here as well, but honestly you won’t miss it if you don’t.

Serves 4

Calories: 75  – Fat : 3 grams –  Carbs: 30 – Fiber: 2.5 grams – Protein: 2.5 grams

(Nutritional info without Butter)

Bison. It’s a Lean Meat.

Delicious lean Bison NY Strip Steaks, With Parsely for a Prettier Picture

I am not a vegetarian. Aside from a brief one month stint I spent as a vegan (on a dare, of course), I have no intention of giving up meat. And even though I’m trying to shed the pounds, red meat is not a luxury that I’m going to give up any time soon.

Enter expensive Bison, the other red meat.

Lordy, this leaner meat is so tasty, the best thing I can do is to stay out of its way. Bison/Buffalo tastes very similar to beef, but pound for pound it has less fat than chicken. I used strip steaks instead of rib eyes to keep the fat content even lower. These are great on the grill, but I ran out of propane so I threw them on the pan. As this is a leaner cut of meat, I sweat these steaks so that every little bit is seasoned. This works for beef as well.  Continue reading

Garlic Brocoli with Sharp Cheddar

Apologies for the iPhone pic- but you can detect the hint of cheesiness lurking underneath 😉

Like most kids, I hated broccoli growing up. I remember watching Velveeta commercials when I was little, and seeing electric orange goo slather in ribbons over broccoli. Then the people in the commercial would eat the broccoli by the forkfuls, as though it wasn’t disgusting. My kiddie palate imagined Velveeta was an Excalibur of cheesy flavor that would slay all the icky bitterness of vegetables far and wide. Why oh why wouldn’t my mom buy this miracle cheese?!

She was right not to, of course, because Velveeta is quite gross. But my instincts at least were correct. Even though I like broccoli now, cheese still improves on it’s flavor. And since I can’t eat a lot of cheese anymore, I better make all that cheese count. Sharp and strong-flavored cheeses make every scant ounce pack a bigger punch. Buy a nice aged full-fat kind- It’s covering a lot of broccoli.

  • 3 Cups Broccoli florets
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 oz Sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 1/4 C Onion sliced thin
  • 1/4 C Water
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper or red pepper flakes to taste

1.) Coat medium sized saucepan with cooking spray (make sure you have a lid handy for the saucepan, bonus if it’s a transparent lid). On medium low heat, saute onion until just turning translucent- About 4 minutes.

2.) Add water, salt, and garlic and cover until you see the mixture begin to simmer. Add all the broccoli and cover again. Once every minute use thongs to toss the broccoli in the saucepan to prevent the broccoli on the bottom from overcooking. Re-cover with lid after each stir until the broccoli is just cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Florets should be bright green and you should be able to pierce the thickest stems with a fork.

3.) Uncover saucepan and take off the heat. Quickly sprinkle grated cheddar over broccoli and toss broccoli to coat. Grind pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Serves 4

Calories: 87 – Fat: 5 grams – Carb: 4 grams – Fiber: 2 grams – Protein: 4.5 grams

Veggie Egg White Omelets and Breakfast Stratege-ery

I recognize that a recipe for an egg white omelet is kind of lame. Almost everybody knows how to make an omelet, but it’s my first posted recipe. I’m on training wheels :).

Start your morning right, and set yourself up for a week of sauteed veggies!

Egg white omelets are a filling way to start and end the day. I saute a big batch of veggies and only use 1/4 for my single omelet. The rest of the sautéed vegetables I save for easy omelets later in the  week, or even salads, sandwiches, or an easy side-dish. Just about any mix of veggies will do, just try to cut them all in a similar shape/size so they cook in the same time.

  • 4 Cups sliced veggies. (I used red onion, carrot, and bell pepper)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh herbs. (I used cilantro)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 Tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 oz Reduced fat Cheese, grated (I used a cheddar/jack combo)
  • pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Olive oil cooking spray

1.) Slice up your veggies and set them aside in a bowl. Toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Use your hands to massage the oil and salt into the veggie mixture. This seasons every little slice, helps pull out water more quickly from the vegetables, and stretches the relatively small amount oil. The result: quicker cooking and a more luscious ‘mouth feel’.

2.) Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Add the coated veggies and saute just until tender. Throw the fresh herbs in and then return sautéed vegetables back to the bowl. Carefully wipe down the pan and put back on medium heat. Coat with olive oil cooking spray.

3.) When pan is hot, add egg whites. When egg whites are almost cooked-through, add cheese and 1/4 the sautéed veggie mixture to one side of the pan. Flip egg whites over top to create the typical omelet semicircle shape. Sprinkle salt to taste. Serve on a warm plate with Tapatio!

Serves 1

Catching this bus…

An empty pan. Ohhhh the possibilities

Tonight I noticed, while sitting on the couch, it was a little too hard to get up. I’m not saying a flopped and strained like a beached whale. I’m just saying it took a little more effort than I know it should.

Somehow that clinched it. I’m back on the wagon.

I know, I know, It’s a lifestyle change. It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. I know that’s what it’s supposed to be, but for me and millions of other Americans it’s not. It’s a health bus we get on, then fall off. Or get on, decided to get off (y’know, for a rest… to see the country… and eat some greasy Chinese food), then are surprised when we forget to get back on. Let’s not kid ourselves, them’s the statistics.

You can say what we eat or how much we eat is a lifestyle choice, or you can say that it’s a hundred little choices we make every day. Donut or whole wheat toast? Coffee with sugar or Splenda? Cherries or Cheetos? But for me, healthy or not, food is a hobby and a passion. I love to cook. I’d rate myself a solid 7.8 on a ten point foodie spectrum. I love good food, and I resent having to skimp on stuff that makes food good. So I need to find a way to cook healthy food even a foodie can love. Not easy, but I love a good cooking challenge!

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for some time now, so welcome to my life! Follow me if you dare! I anticipate at least a handful of good recipes, a few quick tips diced here and there, and maybe a dash of complaining.