What is FOOD?

Spaghetti Sneak Attack

Plastic sample of spaghetti tomato sauce
Image via Wikipedia

As mentioned in my last post we are “stay-cationing” this Spring Break. In lieu of spending thousands of dollars on a family friendly get-away, we are using those funds to renovate our little beach house.

Since I have been on a cooking frenzy since starting the I Love FOOD Diet, I knew right away that I had to get a new stove. The former one we had –  an old 18″ cheapo electric model with raised electric black coils was certainly not going to make me a culinary master. Besides being super tiny (18 inches!), it took forever to heat, was extremely difficult to clean with those damn coils and on top of that would often blow a fuse.

I splurged on a new deluxe stove/oven. This full 30 inches model is super powerful, heats quickly, has a smooth glass cooktop for easy cleaning and is energy-efficient. Now, there is no excuse not to cook healthy, fresh and low carb meals.

Unfortunately I have yet to break it in as we are still waiting for the electrician to arrive and hook it up.

So, for the past few days, we have been forced to eat take-out food or dine-out every meal.

Although this may not sound like a major problem for most of you, the fact of the matter is that it is darn hard to manage your carb and calorie intake when someone else is doing the cooking. Further its just so tempting to steal a few french fries from your kids plate or dive into the bread basket that they serve at restaurants.

When you cook your own meals, you know exactly what you put in to the pot. You are in control of your portion size, the ingredients and the preparation. You can prepare healthy  low carb accoutrements to serve with your meal. When someone else is in the kitchen, the only thing you are responsible for is…. well, eating.

Such was my case the other night when we ate at the local Italian joint. The kids shared a freshly made thin crust pizza and I ordered a big platter of their special seafood platter. When queried about what exactly is in the special, the waitress enthusiastically described a large bowl full of fresh seafood, clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and scungilli in a fresh tomato sauce.

Everything sounded great except the scungilli. I tried scungilli before and was never a big fan of this sea-snail. The consistency is a little too tough and chewy for my palate. I asked the server to “hold the scungilli” which they thankfully did.

The kid’s pizza came out first. Now I have a love/hate relationship with pizza. I love to eat, but I hate what it does to my figure. Usually I can exercise self-control when around the individual pre-sliced kind you can order at pizzerias in NYC. However, wood-fired, brick oven, fresh pizza pies are my nemesis. I find a hot, bubbly,  thin crust freshly baked pizza difficult  to resist. I preemptively told me kids, “Don’t let mommy steal any of your pizza,”. They happily obliged and quickly pulled the gorgeous fragrant pie over to their side of the table.

By the time my dish came out, I was ravenous. As described, heaping mounds of piping hot fresh seafood was blanketed in a lovely fresh tomato sauce. I tied the plastic bib that the restaurant provided around my neck and dug in. Everything was going well until I reached the lower 1/3 of the bowl. There, concealed by the shellfish was a lovely little pile of homemade spaghetti.

Uh oh. I said as I pointed to the offending carb laden pile.

“Well, you don’t have to eat it,” my husband said to my shell-shocked face.

“I know, but the waitress didn’t say there was going to be pasta,” I stammered, …”and ….the sauce is so good ….and its homemade pasta and…. its been soooo long.” Suddenly, before I realized it, I had greedily slurped a forkful of that delicious pasta into my mouth.

OMG! Its been so long since I had REAL semolina pasta. Having avoided pasta for so long, I completely forgot what it tasted like. And you know what? Its goooooooooooood! I slowly savored two more delicious mouthfuls and then passed the rest to my 9-year-old son. Those three generous forkfuls, along with the mountain of fresh seafood that I just consumed, was just what the doctor orderd. I was full. I was satiated. I was happy.

Its OK to cheat a little. In fact, since I had not eaten pasta in such a long time prior to last night made my little pas de deux with the noodles so much more special. Read my old post “Three Steps forward, Two Steps Back” for further explanation. You have to indulge at least a few times a week. This is the I Love FOOD Diet after all. 🙂

Chow for now!

What is FOOD?

Here Chickie, Chickie, Chickpea

Roasted Chickpeas
Image by fritish via Flickr

I was rummaging through my parents kitchen cupboard looking for something to snack on. My mother, annoyed that I was invading her “sanctum” inquired “What the heck are you looking for? You just finished lunch. You’re snacking and eating all the time!” To which I retorted, “Well, HELLO??? I am on the I LOVE FOOD DIET after all.”

I was at my parents house in Florida this past week as my kids had their Winter Break and we all needed a break from the brutal NYC winter weather.

Unfortunately all my parents had in their cupboard was carb filled chips, pretzels and other “no’s no’s that would not suffice on the I LOVE FOOD DIET. Just as I was about to give up and delve in to the “Party Size” bag of Lays Potato Chips, I spotted a lonely and dusty can of Garbanzo Beans way in the back of the shelf.

Eureka! I hit the jackpot. I was going to make a batch of my delicious and nutritious spicy roasted chickpeas! I took out the baking tray from the toaster oven and wrapped it in aluminum foil (easy clean up!).

Then I opened my can o’beans. I drained the beans and then rinsed them in cold water. By doing this you remove the extra starches that ruminate in the canned liquid. I then patted my little golden nuggets with a paper towel and laid these little balls on the baking sheet. I drizzled the chickpeas with a little olive oil and then sprinkled the legumes with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder and a teeny bit of cayenne pepper. I popped these babies into the toaster oven at 450 degrees for about 30 -40 minutes until they were brown and crunchy.

Delicious, salty, crunchy and savory  with just a little kick from the cayenne, I munched on these poolside with a few light beers the rest of the day. Yum! 🙂

Chickpeas also known as  Garbanzo beans, Indian pea, Ceci beans or Bengal grams is an edible legume packed with protein. Chickpeas have a long history dating back thousands of years. In fact depictions of chickpeas have been found on pottery during the late Neolithic (3500 BC) period in what is now Greece.

Further, in their book, Domestication of Plants in the Early World, authors Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf cite evidence of drawings of chickpeas in a cave in Southern France dating as far back as 6790 BCE.

Chickpeas are chock full of zinc, folate, protein and fiber. While they do contain some carbohydrates  (approximately 70 grams for the can), it’s a whole lot less than the 227 grams of carbs, not to mention the huge amounts of fat, in the bag of potato chips I was about to devour.

As the saying goes, beans, beans, good for your heart….

Guiltless snacks. I love the I LOVE FOOD DIET!

Chow for now!