No FOOD on the Road

Foto de una carretera en la cual se destacan a...
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Ah, Spring Break. The time of year when school is closed for a glorious 10 days and I have the delightful privilege of entertaining my two young boys without driving me and my family crazy.

We decided that in lieu of spending thousands of dollars on the usual kid-centric vacation (i.e. Disneyland, Atlantis or Universal Studios) we would put that money toward fixing up our country house. The windows needed to be replaced, our deck had seen better days, our fence was rotting away and the interior of the house was in dire need of new paint job.

Being the complete control freak that I am, I was determined to source all the materials myself and buy the best quality materials at the lowest possible prices. This decision ended up saving me almost $2K, however nearly drove me bonkers and took me WAY off the I Love FOOD diet.

It’s a well know fact that FRESH food is hard to find along the myriad fast food eateries that line the highway. Most of what you will find at the local fast food joint is over-processed franken-foods that clearly do not qualify as F-O-O-D on the I Love FOOD Diet (please see my post What is FOOD? for further explanation.)

Running between the hardware store, the lumbar yard, the stone center, Lowes and 2 different Home Depots left me tired, cranky and hungry. I had no time to go home and prepare a healthy meal and no time to sit down at a proper restaurant.

I did what I would strongly recommend you all NOT to do. I did not plan in advance and ended up indulging on gas station junk food.

I knew that I would be schlepping from one home improvement store to another, my husband volunteered to stay home with kids. As I was sans enfants, I was free to start my expedition first thing in the morning. The first mistake of the day was that I skipped breakfast. My usual breakfast of 2 organic eggs and some protein was replaced with a bottle of Diet Coke.

I had a meeting with our contractor at noon and wanted to get all my ducks in a row, before then. I did not have the time nor inclination to cook breakfast for myself and just ran out the door with my bottle of soda in hand.

My 11:00 am, I was famished. I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things on my way home and was accosted by the most delicious smelling fried chicken. I reasoned that I would buy a few pieces to offer the contractor. On the way to our country house, the aroma wafting from my bucket of poultry was too irresistable to resist. I pulled over to the side of the road and devoured 3 chicken wings and 1 thigh….Sigh.

As I immediately regretted my carnivorous consumption of the carb and fat laden poultry, I vowed to eat properly the rest of the day. I skipped lunch as I already inhaled it in the car and proceeded to meet with the contractor, take measurements, visit a few more home improvement centers and scheduled several deliveries. By evening, I was spent.

I scanned the roadside restaurants searching for something to eat. I decided that I would try and tough it out and wait till I got back into the city to eat. I needed to refill my tank so I stopped by a roadside gas station. Upon entering the greasy smelling gas/convenience store, I was welcomed by a large grey cat. Red flag! The unusually hairy and questionably clean attendant did not strike me as a pet enthusiast. The only other reason to have a cat in such an establishment would be to ward off rodents!

I scanned the shelves looking for some sort of healthy snack and finally found a dusty old bag of mixed nuts. Nuts are a great source of protein and are naturally low carb. As I double checked that the bag was still hermetically sealed, I bought them plus another Diet Coke and quickly hightailed it out of there.

Now although nuts are indeed a great low carb snack, when they are honey roasted, and salted, the situation changes. As I was voraciously munching on my bag of nuts, I neglected to notice that this bag has 5 servings. So the 12 grams of carbs and the 160 calories that I thought I was eating was actually 60 grams of carbs and 800 calories, not to mention that copious amount of sodium that this bag contained.

By the time I got home, I was bloated, tired and slightly nauseous. I had not eaten anything remotely healthy all day and was definitely suffering. I ate some leftovers and crawled into bed.

The next morning… well lets just say, the scale was NOT kind to me. Even though I did not eat that much the previous day, the quality of the food was less than stellar.

The next time you are going to be on the road, don’t do what I did. Do yourself a favor and plan your meals ahead.

Chow for now.


When FREE Can be Fattening

Stop Hunger?
Image by Felix42 contra la censura via Flickr

Why is it that I lose all self-control when offered a freebie?

Perhaps this can be attributed to my “penny conscious-dollar foolish” parents who often cut Mc Donald’s coupons for their 2  for 1 Big Breakfast deals, paying the $1.99 on their way to a $100+++ per person golf game at their country club.

Or perhaps it’s because I live in NYC and the price of everything is so jacked up that when presented with an opportunity to save a few cents, I jump.

Or maybe its simply because I was hungry.

Whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is that when offered a freebie, I usually takie.

Such was the case, a week ago when I met some friends for dinner at Cipriani Wall Street.  One of my dinner companions was friends with the manager and she told us to ask for him upon arrival. Upon entering this overly styled (but in a good way) restaurant, we were offered complimentary flutes of their signature (but carb- filled) Bellini cocktail

Cold refreshing champagne with a healthy dollop of the most delicious fresh squeezed peach juice was too good to resist. Never mind that I was carb counting. It was free, it was good and I downed it. When the fine gentleman came around again offering to refresh our glasses, I surreptitiously accepted. At that point, I had already gone over the 50 grams of carbs a day I try to limit myself too and decided to “go crazy” and dig into the bread basket and sample some of their famous carb filled pasta. Although both bread and pasta are big no-no’s on the I LOVE FOOD DIET, I resolved to follow my own sage advice from my post “Three Steps forward, 2 steps back,” and dig in. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

The other day when I was walking home from dropping off the kids at school, I noticed a young woman eagerly handing out what looked like packaged candy. Having been down this road before and not wanting to be tempted by carb filled candy, I stealthy avoided her. However after overhearing her say to another passer by that they were “healthy snacks,” my curiousity was peaked. I slowed down my pace and was quickly ambushed by her coworker urging me to sample the freebie bar.

Healthy candy bar? Hmmmmm. let me see. I looked at the label. the 4 oz bar contained 230 calories and 36 gm of carbs. I should have dumped it right there and then, but I was hungry and it was FREE.

The first bite was good. Crunchy, sweet and nutty. The second and third bites were equally good. However after the 4th bite, the bar was almost gone and I was still hungry.

I cursed myself for having consumed that completely unnecessary breakfast bar. This freebie was going to cost me 40 minutes on the treadmill. 😦

The next time you are offered a freebie, just make sure it is low carb.

Chow for now!

What is FOOD?

Decadence is Over-Rated

Vector image of the Nobel prize medal, annotated
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I thought I had re-invented the wheel. I thought that I was in line for the Nobel Prize for figuring out a way to eat like a pig and still lose weight. My “Day of Decadence” (read that titled post for more info) was legitimate proof that stuffing and gorging yourself on fat-filled foods could actually result in significant weight loss. 

I was ready and pumped up for the following days food and fat fest.

The problem was, that I could not bear to eat another fat-filled snack. The thought of eating another cheese omelette and greasy fried sausage patty was just too much to bear. That delicious and juicy Rib Eye Steak was no longer appetizing. My body craved CARBS!

I ended up falling off the low carb wagon BIG TIME and inhaled a carb- filled,  low-fat scone AND a carb-filled, high- fat croissant for breakfast the next day. For lunch I ate a big bowl of high-carb but low-fat “Pho” (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) and for dinner I had a low-fat but high-carb dinner of Chicken and steak fajitas with rice and beans.

Well, the 2 pounds I had so quickly lost the other day reared its ugly head this morning.

Well, as the saying goes, when the tough get going, the going gets eating! I am determined to continue working on the I LOVE FOOD DIET and find the right combination of carb-laden and carb- free foods to make the weight loss stick.

Wish me luck. I will report my progress, if any, on Monday.

Chow for now!

What is FOOD?

Black Pepper Crab – Bring your own napkins

Black Pepper Crab
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I had lunch yesterday at an adorable little eatery in the West Village called “Fatty Crab“. The restaurant is small and “no frills” but serves amazing Malaysian style cooking. The specialty of the house is the “Fatty Crab” which is 18 ozs of black pepper crab cooked and served in its shell.

The first and only time I had Black Pepper Crab was when I had visited Singapore years ago. It is a very popular dish where the hard-shelled crab is steamed in a thick black peppery sauce. One of the most popular places to eat this specialty is at  the East Coast Seafood Center. It is a huge outdoor restaurant situated right on the water. The problem is that the weather in Singapore varies between hot and humid  and very hot and very humid. Eating extremely spicy hot black pepper crabs in an non-air-conditioned outdoor setting is not my idea of fun. The spiciness of the pepper sauce compounded by the hot tropical humid outdoor conditions give  new meaning to “steamed crabs”. I was definitely steaming and definitely turning very crabby!

The “secret ingredient” of my own sweat dripping off my brow, into the peppery concoction was something I will never forget nor  anxious to repeat.

A little known fact about Singapore is that napkins are not normally provided with your meal. Some eateries will offer one measly single-ply napkin, but for the most part you are on your own. Savvy Singaporeans bring their own tissues and napkins to their favorite eateries. As I was neither savvy nor Singaporean, I relied on the back of my hands to wipe away the black peppery mess from my sweaty face. One of my fellow eaters took pity on me (or perhaps was just repulsed to see my face and fingers covered in sweat-infused black gravy) and graciously offered me one of her treasured Kleenex from her trusty travel size pack. I used that tissue within a centimeter of its life. I used both sides, inside out and upside down. Finally, when the napkin was a mere shred of its former self, I gave up wrestling with the crab all together and ordered a dish that could be eaten with a fork.

That experience with the Black Pepper Crab in Singapore left such a stain on me that I opted to forgo the Fatty Crab version (even though there were plenty of napkins) and instead, ordered the “Fatty Duck”.

All the dishes at this restaurant are recommended to be shared and eaten “family style”. However, my “Fatty Duck” was so good, I cursed that recommendation and wished I had ordered my own family platter. Three sizable chunks of thick, delicious, fat-laden, rare duck smothered in a tasty, peppery, sauce was truly Deee-leee-cious. My only tiny complaint about the dish was the price. It was priced at $29.00 and although it would be totally appropriate at a fancier place, the extremely low-key and low frills  environment of  the restaurant led me to think that more succulent pieces of that delicious “Fatty Duck” should have been served on that plastic plate.

However, as I am always watching my weight, perhaps this was a blessing in disguise. How much “Fatty Duck” does one really need to consume? If the “Fatty Duck” was priced lower, I would probably be eating this all the time and turn into a “fatty pig”. I guess, that slightly prohibitive price is a blessing in disguise.

Fatty Crab on Hudson Street in the West Village – check it out, but just check your wallet first.

Chow for now!