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?

Spiderman Pushup

Image via Wikipedia

Is it me or is everybody talking about Spider Man lately? Every other day there seems to be some reference of our 8 legged friend in the news. From the troubling stories surrounding the beleaguered Broadway musical, to the casting of the new and fresh-faced actors for the 4th installment of the movie to NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg recently dressing up as our webbed hero at a recent Inner City Charity Function.

So, when my I heard Coach Emily instruct us all to “do the Spiderman Push-Up,” during the “Total Body Conditioning” class at Five Points the other day, I thought she was kidding.

What the heck is a Spider man Push up?”

Basically it is like a regular push up but WAY, WAY, WAY HARDER.

Although I am no expert on this contortionists move, I believe that you need to start in a regular push-up plank position, then balance your self on one leg, then take the other leg and slowly bend it up to your elbow, then bend your arms slowly lowering your body up and down…all the while keeping your body in alignment and your knee up to your elbow.

Now ” breathe….balance…bend”  coaxed Coach Emily in her sweet and disarming voice.

“Ok. I can do this.” I reasoned with myself. I breathed…I balanced…I fell on my face.

I tried again. I breathed..I bent..but I could not balance!

As I lay sprawled on my chest looking around to see if anyone else was having as hard of a time with this as me, I saw my neighbor, an adorable young woman in perfect physical shape do this “push-up”  successfully without even breaking a sweat.

This Spider Girl, saw my struggles and whispered to me reassuringly, “don’t worry, it gets easier,” as she proceeded to do several more reps of the Spider Man Pushup.

After two more unsuccessful tries, I gave up and decided that I would just hold the plank position, instead of risking any more physical injury to me or my neighbors.

Many attest that the push ups are one of the fastest and best ways to get fit. In the blog, http://www.pushups100.blogspot.com, the author  lists the incredible benefits that push ups can do. They include working your chest, hands, forearms, biceps, triceps, shoulders, traps, upper back, lower back, abs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calf, feet, your core, your balance and your heart. They also can be done anytime, anywhere, you don’t need any special or expensive equipment, and you don’t need to spend hours at the gym to see results.

It is a well-known fact that soldiers in the military are ordered to “get down and do 20” if they are insubordinate to their superior officers. Instead of viewing these push up as punishment, they really should be saying ‘Thank you sir, may I have another. ”

As I am neither a soldier nor in the military, I will just keep trying to do these push ups and someday be just like Spider Girl.

Chow for now!

What is FOOD?

Shopping Frenzy

Mannequin with Jeans in Sannicolau Mare, Rumania
Image via Wikipedia

As Spring has (sort of)  sprung, I woke up with a bout of shopping fever. Well, in all honesty, being mistaken for PREGNANT (!) would jump start anybody to buy some new flattering clothes. After a quick inventory of  my closet, I decided that I had enough of the New York de rigour uniform of black colored clothing. I was going to buy COLOR.  I had a double mission that day, not only was I going to shop for new duds, I was going to buy cheerful-colorful-figure-flattering clothes! I was on a mission…a mission to shop….CHARGE!!!

My first stop was the GAP. Now, say what you will about the GAP, but the fact of the matter is that I LOVE their jeans. I own a fair amount of designer jeans, you know, the kind that retail for over $175 a pop. But at the end of the day, my GAP jeans are the most comfortable and fit me the best. I walked into the store and was struck by just how many styles of jeans the GAP offers. What to do? Should I go for the “Legging Jeans” or should I go for the “Real Straight”? What’s the difference between their “Perfect Boot” and their “Sexy Boot”? After popping in and out of the dressing room, asking my way too bored attendant, which style she liked better on me, I ended up with my “go-to jean” – The Always Skinny 1969 jeans in dark blue. I tried to take a walk on the wild side, but could not get my ass into them.

Invigorated after my new purchase, I continued my shopping spree and perused the boutiques along lower Fifth Ave. I popped in and out of several boutiques, stopping to try on a few things along the way.

Finally I made a pit stop at H&M. Most of the clothes on display were a little “too young” for my, ahem.. more mature age, however, out of the corner of my eye, I did notice a very familiar looking garment. Hmmm, why did this look so familiar? Any why did that look so familiar? It ends up that I was looking at the “capsule collection” that designer Alber Elbaz from Lanvin designed specifically for H&M. Pay dirt!

Now I have a unique relationship with Monsieur Elbaz. Shortly before he became the chief designer for Lanvin, he was the immediate successor to Yves Saint Laurent and was chief designer from 1998-2000. As I was sales and marketing director of  Yves Saint Laurent USA during that time, I worked side by side with Alber. The capsule collection that he designed for H&M had his signature style. In fact my “Egg Shaped Tweed YSL Coat – the one that kind of makes me look pregnant and was the catalyst of this whole shopping spree) was designed by Alber.  I could not believe my luck and soon was in a shopping FRENZY. I joyfully scooped up 3 new skirts, 2 new trousers and one top all from his collection. As much as I admired the “Egg-Shape Dress” and the “Egg Shaped blouses” he offered in the collection, I learned my lesson and steered clear of them.

I sailed downstairs to the cash register to pay for my newly acquired figure flattering purchases. Unfortunately I picked the wrong line. There were 3 busy cashier. I stood on the first line and then noticed that the one next to me was slightly shorter. So, I slid my self over and smugly waited, averting my eyes from the women on the first line. Well, it seems that the reason the second line was shorter than the others was because the cashier was in the process of doing a return. Now normally a return should not take that long, however because this was a BIG return, it needed to be authorized by a manager and that manager was MIA.

As the customers on the first line that were originally behind me were now already fully paid and out the door, I had yet to be rung up. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the manager showed up.  After re-examining each item that was to be returned, she eventually authorized the transaction. As I laid my purchases delicately on the counter, I reached my hand into my pocketbook, when I realized something was missing. I was missing my pocketbook!

Holy Sh**!!! I was in such a shopping frenzy that I inadvertently put my handbag down and left it somewhere! OMG. My iPhone, my wallet, my money, my credit cards, my work, my keys, my LIFE is in that bag!

I quickly traced my steps and dashed from the register upstairs to the dressing room. I ran to the escalator but ran to the wrong end. This escalator was going down. Flustered and panicked I ran around to the other end. This escalator was “out of service”. I quickly mounted up the immobile escalator stairs two at a time. Upon reaching the landing I headed to the sign that read “Dressing room”. However, upon approaching, I noticed that this dressing room looked slightly different that what I remembered. I immediately figured out that there were 2 dressing rooms on that floor, and that I was in the wrong one!

I ran to the other side of the store, breathless and panicked. Luck was on my side that day as my lovely but bored dressing room attendant saw me and said “I was trying to call you back but you were already gone.” I gave her a big hug and thanked her for holding my bag.

I calmly strolled back to the cashier, proudly yielding my credit card briefly explaining why I had just up and left. He smiled and added “And you were waiting for a long time too!”

My charges were complete, my clothes were packed and after gaining my composure, I started strolling out the door. That was until, the dreaded sensor alarm went off. I immediately looked around with the expression on my face that clearly read, “It’s not me!” The security guard approached me and asked to look through my bag. I acquiesced and handed over the bag. Luckily he found the culprit – a skirt that still had a sensor attached. After examining my receipt and verifying that I was not indeed a thief, he instructed me to go back to the register to have it removed.

“It’s me again” I cheerfully announced to the cashier, wielding my senso-ed skirt and receipt. “Oops sorry about that”, apologized the cashier. To which I just winked at him and said “No problem.”

Finally I came home and inspected my newly acquired purchases. After carefully laying them on my bed, I noticed that they all had something in common….they were ALL BLACK. There was nary a color among them, unless you count dark navy denim as a “color”. Oh well, you can take the girl out of the city….

At least I wont be mistaken for pregnant again!

Chow for now!

What is FOOD?

In Pursuit of My Balls

I have to apologize to the  readers who have been  kind enough to bestow upon me a few moments in their day to peruse my blog. Since late last week, I have been extremely pre-occupied. The reason being is that I received some unfavorable comments on my blog last week and those few comments threw me for a loop.

What started out as a simple hobby has become a major part of my life. I had no idea that the I LOVE FOOD DIET would grow and reach as many people as it has. I assumed that the daily visits to my site were from family and friends however, it seems that REAL people have been actually paying attention and even going so far as to COMMENT!

Instead of basking in the glory of my “minor success”, and focusing on the positive aspects of reaching a “real” audience, all I was doing was focusing on those negative comments and commenters.

I began questioning myself on everything that I put down on paper. Instead of my “off the cuff” style and occasional rambling that personalized my blog, I began hesitating and re-thinking everything that I wrote. I would start, stop and erase over and over again trying to appeal to all.

I  second guessed myself on everything that I wrote and ultimately wrote nothing at all these past few days. Where I used to jump out of bed at the crack of dawn eager to write, I suddenly felt stifled and un-inspired. Many friends have tried to help me with my “bloggers-block” offering me ideas, recipes and suggestions. And although I greatly appreciate all the suggestions and their very kind support, ultimately I needed to re-find my own voice which is something I find hard to do with other people’s ideas.

Sooooo, after much wrestling back and forth, I figured that a “flawed” blog is better than “no-blog” and have decided to shelve the negative commenters and focus on me, my body and the I LOVE FOOD DIET.

I found inspiration at my lunch today with a dear friend of mine. She has been recently following the I LOVE FOOD DIET and has successfully lost weight. She graciously suggested that we  enjoy a “high fat-low carb” meal together.

I suggested that we  check out the new offshoot of the very popular Bar Stuzzichini in the Flatiron district. This offshoot in my TriBeCa nabe is a smaller version called Stuzzicheria. At lunchtime, they offer a “mix and match” lunch where for a mere $16.00 you have your choice of 3 small plates of delicious homemade Italian dishes.

I quickly scanned the menu and ordered the 3 least carb filled items. I had the grilled octopus, the cured pork and 5 small meatballs. As we were both avoiding carbs, we passed on the crusty italian bread with extra virgin olive oil dipping.

Those five tiny meatballs were deeeliiiiiiccccious!

This got me thinking. I need MORE balls.

Meatballs have made a serious comeback in recent years. Several restaurants in New York City have jumped on the  meatball bandwagon serving up their own unique versions of the ubiquitous ball. The Meatball Shop on Stanton Street in the Lower East Side has been churning out thousands of tasty meatballs a day since its opening earlier this year. Locande Verde offers their own delicious nouveau itailien version, Blue Ribon Bakery offer a veal and rabbit version. Tanuki Tavern in the Hotel Gansevoort offers a Japanese version – deep-fried meatballs with a crispy rice crust.

And no wonder?  – who doesnt love a Meatball? Meatballs are like ball-shaped hamburgers – only better. Whereas the lowly burger is often simply flavored with salt and pepper, meatballs are often home-made with unique combinations of eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic, chopped onion, seasoning and spices. Meatballs are more like meatloaf (another fave!) than a burger. 

I quickly ran to the Food Emporium and stocked up on some supplies.  I plan on test driving a few versions tonight. Will report my findings tomorrow.

Chow for now!