To the east side! To a deluxe apartment in the sky-i!
My long hiatus is now over—we have moved into our house in New York! It’s a whole ‘nother world up here: a world of $0.05 deposits on all glass bottles bought, a world of no parking on certain sides of the street on different days, a world of no central AC*.
I really want to take advantage of this shake-up and make some changes to my lifestyle. I’ll let you in on a secret: I have always battled with my weight. I have a lazy thyroid which contributes some to this problem but most of the responsibility rests on me. I have tried too many diets and have gone on many an exercise binge. While I may lose some weight during each of these phases, these short fluxes are unsustainable and the weight finds me as soon as I go back to my “normal” life.
So new state, new state of mind. I think I have realized my past mistakes and I feel like I am ready and able to make some real life changes. I am focusing on changing my lifestyle gradually into a healthy routine that I can keep up for the rest of my life. I’m going to be accountable to myself but I am also going to be honest with you and be accountable to the blog.
I have a few simple goals for myself:
1) Be active every day. This might mean walking for an hour with The Boyfriend, exploring our new neighborhood. Or it might mean working out to a Jillian Michael’s DVD**. I would like to try different workout classes (hot yoga, kickboxing, etc) at local places but that will have to wait for now, in the interest of finance.
2) Eat only when I get hungry and only until I am full. I want to stop overeating and I need to stop eating just because I’m bored or because The Boyfriend is eating or just because something tastes good.
3) Eat good-for-me food. This is what I thought would be the hardest since I am used to eating whatever I want to eat. This, unfortunately, usually amounts to several trips a week to McDonald’s or Taco Bell. But actually, after eating so much bad food all summer I am ready for a change. I’ve been eating breakfasts with protein, lunches with lots of veggies and good, lean dinners***.
*We bought our first window-box unit on our third day in NY. Being that I’m from Florida, I never thought I’d live in a place that I would need to BUY an AC unit. But I am happy to report that a 12,000 BTU unit (plus 2 fans) is enough to cool our 1100 ft2 apartment. Also, pro-tip: if you want to cool multiple rooms, you have to get a bigger unit; they may cost more but they cool a much larger area. I offer this advice in case anyone else is facing the dilemma of “What the hell is a BTU?” and “Isn’t it smarter to buy three 5000 BTU units rather than one 12,000 BTU unit?” The answer is no; two 5,000 BTU units is not equal to one 10,000 BTU unit. Rant completed!
**I bought Jillian’s 30 Day Shred DVD about a year ago and I got through 20 days before I let my hectic schedule get the best of me. The DVD was super tough and I loved the results I saw but I hated the monotony—doing the same workout everyday gets old fast. I decided to get a hold of the other Jillian DVDs (Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism; Ripped in 30; No More Trouble Zones; Yoga Meltdown). I have since tried the Ripped in 30 DVD and it is great! Definitely brutal though. The point of the asterisk is to pretty much impress upon you how awesome Jillian’s workouts are. They run you ragged and you curse at the screen and you hate your life; and you see results immediately. If you like quick workouts (24 minutes—including cool down and warm up!) that are high impact, you’ll love Jillian. Well, you’ll hate her but you’ll love how she whips your body into shape.
***Specifically I have been eating 1 egg and a slice of oatmeal toast for breakfast (an old standard: eggs-in-a-hat; look for the recipe in a future blog post, if you’d don’t already know it). For lunch, I have either a veggie wrap or a salad (salad recipe down below!) for lunch and a lean protein + veggie for dinner (ex: last night’s dinner was steamed cod with chipotle/garlic sour cream, roasted broccoli, and a salad. I would usually include a starch in with the dinner meal but as I am without a rice cooker, I have been foregoing the dinner starch and I think it’s working out for the best). I also eat 1-2 snacks per day; this week, the snacks have been half of an apple + a few slices of sharp cheddar cheese OR 1 wedge Baby Bell Light Swiss Cheese with 8 Roasted Garlic Triscuits and 4 slices tomato. Mmm… I also replaced soda with iced tea–iced black tea! I feel really posh when my tea and snack time happen at 4pm, haha.
But enough about me. You’re here for the food, aren’t you?
Iced Black Tea
- 1 cup water
- 1 Twinnings tea bag (I recommend Lady Grey)
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp milk OR 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
1) Fill a coffee cup up with 1 cup water. Heat in the microwave about 1:15.
2) Seep tea bag in hot water about 8 minutes. Remove tea bag and add honey.
3) Pour hot tea over ice in another glass. Add lemon juice or milk if you’d like.
4) Drink with pinky extended.
Makes 2 salads
- lettuce, whatever type you prefer (I used a mix of red leaf and green leaf lettuce)
- 1/4 orange bell pepper, diced
- 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 4 slices cucumber, diced
- 1 small handful shredded carrots
- 1 chicken breast; seasoned, cooked and chopped
- 1/2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
1) Add all ingredients to bowl; toss to mix. Top with 1 tbsp Instant Dressing.
- Equal parts extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- Badia Complete Seasoning*, to taste
- lemon juice (optional)
1) Add all ingredients to squeeze bottle. Shake to combine.
*If you have never used Badia’s complete seasoning, you’re missing out. It is delicious! Badia is a self-described “ethnic” seasoning line. They make a ton of spices and they’re usually cheaper than McCormick’s and taste every bit as good; however, their complete seasoning is a cut above the rest. Unfortunately, it does have MSG in it but I still think that the flavor it imparts is worth it.
I ate one salad for lunch and split the remaining salad (minus chicken) between The Boyfriend and I for a side dish for dinner. Dinner tonight was steak with mushroom sauce, green beans, and leftover Super Salad. I know that steak doesn’t sound too healthy (or very cost-effective) but we bought shoulder steak! Shoulder steak is very inexpensive (about $3.50/lb at our local grocery store) and an 8oz piece only has 9 grams of fat (compared to 25 grams in a sirloin). My portion was only 4oz which cut the fat total in half. Red meat is still a sometimes food rather than an everyday food, but I urge you to “splurge” and eat steak sometimes. Onto the recipes!
Splurge-tastic Shoulder Steak
- 1 lb shoulder steak
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Bragg’s Amino Acids*
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 4 cloves garlic, quartered
- 1/4 cup onion, sliced
- paprika, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning**, salt and pepper to taste
1) 12-24 hours prior to making dinner, make the marinade. Combine lemon juice, Bragg’s, OJ, and garlic in a bowl. Mix salt and pepper, paprika, cayenne, and Italian seasoning together. Rub seasoning onto both sides of the steak. Put the steak in a large Ziploc bag with the marinade and onions. Place the whole bag inside of a bowl so that the marinade completely covers the steak and place the bowl in the fridge. Marinate (preferably) overnight***.
2) One hour before cooking, take bowl out of fridge and sit it on the counter to come to room temperature****.
3) Heat a skillet on medium heat; add ½ tbsp olive oil as well as about 1/3 cup marinade to hot pan and add steaks. Cook 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from pan immediately but let the steak rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into it. Top with mushroom sauce.
*Bragg’s is another product that I highly recommend purchasing. It is a “liquid protein concentrate” that can be used in sauces, marinades, etc. It has a savory taste similar to soy sauce but less salty; it also contains less sodium than soy sauce. Bragg’s is liquid amino acids: amino acids are essential for humans and are only found in food.
**I used one of those premixed Italian seasonings spices but you could make your won. It is typically thyme, oregano, garlic, and dried parsley.
***The reason you need to marinate the steak overnight—this is very important. Shoulder steak is a tougher cut of steak; it is meant to be marinated and/or braised rather than grilled. To render the steak as tender as possible, the steak must be marinated for a long time in an acid-based marinade. The acid helps break down the connective tissue and collagen making the steak tender. If you had a meat tenderizing tool, I would advise using that on the steak before putting it in the fridge. If (like me) you do not own a meat hammer, a regular hammer will do in a pinch. It won’t work quite as well but it’s better than nothing. Also remember that acidic (in this case, lemony) marinade = acidic (lemony) steak. Your steak will taste like whatever your marinade tastes like. I happen to like the light tang to this steak but if you have an aversion to lemon, use a different acid (like vinegar).
****Always cook meat from room temp. I’m not sure why it works but it does.
Creamy Mushroom Sauce
Adapted from Taste and Tell
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 4 ounces mixed mushrooms, sliced
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1) Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saute pan on med-high heat.
2) Add the onion and cook until soft, 3-5 minutes.
3) Add the mushrooms and cook until tender.
4) Stir in the water, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasoning; cook for 2 minutes.
5) Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.
Groovy Green Beans
- 1 lb fresh green beans
- 3 tbsp butter
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- garlic powder, paprika, Badia Complete Seasoning, salt and pepper to taste
1) Start by washing and trimming all of your green beans. For those that have never cooked fresh beans, “trimming” just means snapping the ends off of each bean; think Pollyanna.
2) Add beans to a pot; add enough water to cover beans. Add salt to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil beans 4-5 minutes.
3) While beans are cooking, prepare a large bowl with ice water. When beans are cooked, drain them and add them to the ice water. Let sit 5 minutes.
4) Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
5) When skillet is ready, add garlic and beans to it. Sauté beans 5 minutes, adding seasonings about 2 minutes in. Immediately remove beans from skillet when finished and add lemon juice.
I didn’t get any pictures of the cooking process—sorry! It’s hard enough to learn how to cook in a new kitchen and I didn’t want to have to stop and take pictures along the way. Expect more pictures (and recipes!) as I get unpacked and more comfortable in my new kitchen.