Chain chain chain….chain of fools

March 23, 2010 at 7:55 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I woke up this morning feeling incredibly triumphant!  Why, you ask?  Oh, we’ll get to that…

First, lunch yesterday (for accountability’s sake — we’re coming down the home stretch with the “If It Doesn’t Have a Mama” March challenge, now is not the time to start slacking!):

Salad (romaine lettuce, avocado, cucumber, carrot and tomato with EVOO and balsamic vinegar), apples, strawberries, Aldi brand multi-grain chips (natural — I checked the label!) and…

My tra-dish-ional 4 o’clock yogurt with some organic flax seed pumpkin granola (now that sounds SUPER crunchy-granola, no?).  See the pumpkin seed?

So far, so good.  Everything either has a mama or grew in the ground.  Check check check.

We had dinner plans with a friend and would be eating a little late, so I munched on a cashew cookie LaraBar between work and dinner.

Ew, blurry picture, sorry!  And please ignore the monster toy in the background.

Some men, when given the green light to take a last minute trip to see their college friend and take in a NCAA tourney game bring their wives flowers as a thank you gesture.  My husband knows better.  A bouquet of LaraBars was my thank you gesture.  What can I say?  Sam knows the way to make me happy.  Um, it’s usually food.

We were meeting our friend, Gifford, for dinner and he asked us to pick a restaurant.  Sam deferred to me since I’m the one with the self-imposed odd eating this month and I boldly chose a CHAIN restaurant.  Yup, a chain.  *duh duh DUHHHHHH*  Remember how earlier this month, I basically swore off chain restaurants because I thought it was a doomed mission to eat at one and honor the “If It Doesn’t Have a Mama” March rules?  I stared that chain restaurant in the face and laughed.  I am 22 days stronger and wiser.  Hah hah haha, chain restaurant.  Bring it.

How did I manage?  Well, I took control.  I’m the consumer, I should be able to make the changes I want.  So what if they charge me a “substitution” fee (bull! do they NOT have all the same food back there in the kitchen?  is it THAT troubling to heap something different on my plate?  did they have to travel a great distance to accommodate my wishes? whatevah!), I’ll pay an extra $2 for a different veggie as long as I can leave with my conscience clear.  I did just that.

I ordered the “Chicken Fresco” which according to the menu is:

A fresh, all-natural grilled chicken breast topped with vine-ripened tomatoes, lemon-butter sauce, and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette. With steamed broccoli and white cheddar mashed potatoes.

I made some changes, though.  No lemon-butter sauce, please.  I don’t know if what you consider butter is what I consider butter.  Oh, and while you’re at it, I’d like double the broccoli instead of the white cheddar mashed potatoes — who knows how processed that cheddar is.

It actually came to me the way I ordered it!  SUCCESS!  TRIUMPH!!!

My favorite part was when the server said, “wow, I wish I could eat that healthy all the time.”  Secret’s out, dude, YOU CAN.

Overall, a great night with great company.  Sam met Gifford through work (Gifford is a retired history professor) and we love to spend time together and hear his stories.

This morning, oats were in order.  I whipped up some Trader Joe’s Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats…

Mmm, fiber… 😉

I threw it in an empty PB jar with banana and cacao nibs.  If you’re wondering what cacao nibs are, according to the box, they are roasted cacao bean pieces that have a nutty flavor and crunchy texture.  They don’t really have any astounding nutritional value, but they’re yummy and add a hint of chocolate taste to my oatmeal.

Of course, no morning is complete without a cup of coffee with organic half and half and light agave syrup.

A morning without coffee is like an atmosphere without oxygen — UN-INHABITABLE.

It’s raining here, but the monsters and I are going to brave the drizzle for a quick walk and then I’m off to work!  A 5 miler is on tap for later tonight (maybe the rain will fade by then…?)  Hope you find a little sunshine wherever you are.

“If It Doesn’t Have a Mama” March…Restaurant Edition

March 5, 2010 at 10:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Whew!  Sorry I went missing, it was quite the night.  A date night with Sam and then back to the homefront to glue myself to the tv for the most anticipated arrival of the year (um, Jim and Pam’s baby on The Office….duh).

So how did date night work out?  Was I able to stay within my “If It Doesn’t Have a Mama” March guidelines?  You bethcha, but it wasn’t easy.

We haven’t been out to eat in a long time — well, just the two of us.  I’m talking the “what do you want to do for dinner? nothing? well then let’s go somewhere” kind of going out to eat.  I think this is related to our desire to eat healthy and the fact that the last time we did the spontaneous eating out thing, I came home afterward and downloaded the restaurant’s nutrition fact sheet.  I fainted when I saw the numbers on what I ate.

So I’ve been spooked ever since.

Eating out while following my challenge took a little effort.  Okay, a lot of effort.  I started with the phonebook.  I considered all restaurants in our area.  I ruled out the chain restaurants because I figured if each TGIRestaurant is selling the same thing under the same “quality” standards, then the chances are it contains preservatives and chemicals because they are shipping the same food to all their locations.  I don’t know for sure, but it was an educated guess.

Then I started looking at the locally owned restaurants.  I ruled out the ones we don’t like (what’s the point of eating out if you aren’t going to enjoy it?!) I began calling the ones we do like and the conversation went something like this:

Me:  Hi, I’m calling with a nutrition question about your restaurant?

Restauranter: Okay…let me get our chef.

*awkward hold music*

Chef: How can I help you?

Me: I was wondering if your food contained preservatives?  I have a “friend” who has some unique allergies to preservatives and I wanted to bring her to your restaurant.

And then the chef would answer accordingly.  Now, looking back, it was silly to create a “friend” for this experiment, but the truth is, I just didn’t want to explain it all out.  An obscure “friend” seemed more plausible.  I didn’t want to say I was avoiding specific chemicals or preservatives (because I’m avoiding all of them!) — so it worked.  Next time, though, I’ll stand up for myself and my challenge and explain the real deal.  Promise.

I finally found a restaurant where the chef’s answer was, “no, we don’t use any chemicals or preservatives.  In fact, we go to incredible lengths to avoid them.”

Della Zona.

A pizza and pasta restaurant.  You can read more about their mission on their website and on their menu, but the basic summary is they believe in real food — REAL good food. They buy from local growers and producers, incorporate organic food and cook with the season.  They believe in traditional and sustainable ingredients and they have a cute atmosphere.  It smelled heavenly the minute we walked in.

We ordered an Athena pizza on Etruscan spelt crust — it had tomato, artichokes, onion, sauteed greens, olive tapenade, marinara and homemade Della Zona ricotta cheese.

It was amazing.  I ate three pieces, Sam ate four.  One piece escaped, only to be eaten as breakfast this morning.

I also enjoyed a mug of Rooibos tea (I’ve never had it before, but had seen it on a lot of the blogs).  It was good.  A strong-ish red tea with a slightly musky aftertaste.  I didn’t even use any honey — the flavor spoke for itself.

Sam ran next door and picked up a bottle of red wine from Spain (we’re suckers for the Spanish wines…but that’s another post ;)).  Della Zona doesn’t sell alcohol, but also doesn’t have a corking fee, so you can bring in your own and they’ll supply the glasses.  Perfecto!

The best part?  Price wise, it was no different than if we had eaten out at a traditional chain restaurant.  About $20.  For a “gourmet” pizza, I think that’s a good deal.

Lesson learned here: you may have to do a little research, you may have to create a “friend” to hide behind, but in the end, it is totally worth it to stick to your principles and challenges and find some amazing food.

Bon appetit!

Now, I’m off to run.  I don’t know why, but I have a nervous feeling in my stomach about this run.  Maybe it’s the cold…I don’t know.  Can’t shake it.  Time to start thinking positive thoughts!

P.S. Worth adding for accountability’s sake: I split this Raw Revolution Cookie Dough bar with Sam before we went out for dinner.  Pretty yummy and totally natural.  At first, I strongly tasted the dates in the bar, but after a few bites, the cookie dough flavor became more convincing.

Acute Menuphobia

February 22, 2010 at 8:43 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’m afraid the diagnosis is *duh duh DUH* acute menuphobia, the doctor says.

Is there a chance of recovery? the frightened patient asks.

Of course, but it will be long, and it will be difficult, the doctor replies.

No, this isn’t a scene from General Hospital (although it almost could be, it’s written so badly!).  This is how I think of going out to dinner.  Silly, I know.  I’ll explain in just a minute.  But first…

Who’s that lady?  Who’s that lady?

Oh.  That’s just me.  MISS SIX MILES!  BOOM!

The run yesterday went great!  Sam is training for the half marathon with me, on his own schedule of some running and mostly CrossFit, but he’s making it out for the long runs, which is really what matters.  That man is exponentially more athletic than I am and has legs that are almost as tall as I am, so his lack of regimented training works in my favor, really.

We chose to run around the college campus in our town.  It’s my experience that an academic institution is much more in tune with their ice and snow removal than say, the parks and rec department is with the bike path.  Heaven forbid some freshman miss his Intro to Psychology class, but to hell with the dog walkers in the county.

Over the course of the run, I:

-called Sam a liar (he said just one more hill — suuuuuuure)

-accused him of trying to kill me

-stepped in copious amounts of goose poop (if stepping in dog turds is supposed to be runner’s good luck, what does stepping in fowl foul-ness represent?)

-CELEBRATED RUNNING SIX MILES WITHOUT STOPPING.

*addendum: we had to stop for about 2 minutes because he was having a hard time getting the package of energy goo open.  It didn’t affect my time that badly, though!

I run using the iPhone app RunKeeper Pro so it’s easier to tell just how far we’ve gone (it works kind of like a Garmin watch — with GPS).  Once I saw on my iPhone we had hit five miles, I yelled ahead to Sam.  He pulled back a little and matched my stride and then said, “just think, every step you’re taking now is one step farther than you’ve ever run before” (yes, truly, we do have those kinds of Hallmark movie moments in our relationship — don’t hate).  It was just what I needed to power out the last mile and keep a good pace (good for me).  I told him later how it was really inspiring that he said that, to which he replied, “yeah, I realized later, I probably should have saved that one for the actual half marathon!”

😛

So back to those goos….as an energy goo virgin, I was super psyched to try them!  As I read along with Caitlin, Megan and Meghann while they trained for the Disney Marathon, I was pretty intrigued by the shots, the bloks, the gels, the jelly beans…I mean, this was a whole new world.

I saw on a sign at Fleet Feet it is recommended you take an energy supplement (and when I say that I mean like a Clif Blok or GU, not 5 Hour Energy — I think your heart would stop!) to replenish your glycogen stores if you’re going to be active for more than an hour.  Since I run a 10 minute mile, I wanted to go ahead and take the energy stuff along with us, just to be safe.  Um, and to finally be justified in trying them!  This was our limited selection at our local sporting good store:

We agreed to split a package of the orange ones, since there are two servings in it.  I ended up running six miles in 1:01:29, so I just squeaked over that hour mark to take them.  Whatever, a minute is a minute.

What did I think?  Well, not bad.  They were about the size of a quarter and about 3/4 inch high.  They stuck to my teeth, didn’t taste terrible and left me with kind of a citrus-y aftertaste that made me a little thirsty. They were okay, but I’m going to experiment with some others.

After our run, we got cleaned up (it was a fairly unpleasant ride home in the car — windows down, air blowing, eww) and headed out to dinner with Sam’s family.  We were celebrating his younger sister’s 20th birthday.  I love that girl, but this is when my acute menuphobia set it.  *cue scary 1930’s horror movie music*

We went to Brio — a favorite Italian place.  I love food in general, but Italian is crazy good.  Since I started trying to be more conscious of what I’m eating and recognizing the kinds of foods that are good for me and nutritious, I’ve been avoiding eating out like the plague.  At home, I know exactly what’s in each dish, I know just how my lunch is prepared or my dinner served.  It’s a comfort zone, the margin of error is considerably smaller.

But at a restaurant, it’s different.  I suffer from the acute menuphobia.  This is a made up medical term I coined for that feeling you get when you look at the offerings, start salivating over what you REALLY want (um, hello Parmesan shrimp fettuccine Alfredo) and then tell yourself  “no, you can’t have that — get the plain grilled chicken breast instead.”  BUT THAT’S NO FUN.   You leave feeling like you did the right thing, but the right thing tasted like something you could have made at home.  You could tell yourself you deserve the shrimp because it’s a special occasion (which my sis-in-law’s bday clearly was) but then “special occasions” start adding up, the slope becomes slippery and soon, a Tuesday is reason enough to get what you want.

TROUBLE.  The plain fact is you have to balance it.

So, last night, I tried to exercise a little caution and still balance in the fun/specialness.  I chose not to drink, sticking with water (but more on that decision in another post) and scoured the menu.

I tried to find something that I wanted that wasn’t terrible.  Out went the red meat dishes (I don’t really like it anyway) and the over the top cream-based pasta dishes and anything that mentioned frying or pan frying.  I picked the Pasta Fra Diavolo with chicken.  It had a tomato cream sauce (but I asked for them to go light on it) and I decided I would only eat half since most restaurant portions are only appropriate for Andre the Giant.  I avoided the bread basket and I ordered a salad, but forgot to ask for the dressing on the side (Jillian from the Biggest Loser would have a cow) and only had one little bruschetta appetizer.

When my meal came, I visually divided it.  It’s a good trick for when you say you’re only going to eat half of something — actually cut it in half!  If you say half and then start eating it, it becomes half of that, then half of half, then half of a fourth — then it’s gone!  I left my knife in place as a dividing line.

I ate slowly and enjoyed each bite, trying to set my knife and fork down when I could remember.  It helps you recognize when you’re full.  I passed on dessert, mostly because I was full from dinner.

How do I think I did?  Um, okay.  Not great (stupid dressing) but in the end, I “treated” myself without going overboard.  It’s all about moderation.  I ran six miles yesterday and didn’t really eat a lunch (because we went to dinner on the early side and I woke up on the late side), so I didn’t feel bad getting pasta with a little cream sauce.  I balanced it all, and that’s what’s important.

But I’ll never be cured for sure of my acute menuphobia — it’s just something you have to live with ;).

How do you handle dining out?  Does it freak you out?  Do you go overboard or play it safe?

Well, lovelies, I’m off to do morning things before heading to work.  I’ve got a little research to do for my next post about a scary situation I had over the weekend…*cue more scary 1930’s horror movie music*

Mwhahahaha.

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