Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Traveling down into the nobs and back through a jungle

After 3 months of Ohio living...

...Max was excited to learn about an upcoming weekend trip to Kentucky (his mom was excited too).

Of course, he wasn't too thrilled about the 6.5+ hour drive.

But Max made the best of it by sleeping through most of it (especially the bad weather conditions through Columbus)...

...waking up only twice to eat...

...and asking us (with his eyes) when we would arrive so that he could get out of that seat!

When we finally did, he was delighted to see the sites...

...meet his great-great aunt and some family friends...

...and get to see his other Kentucky relatives again for some regular catching up.

Meanwhile, yours truly took advantage of the trip to Kentucky...

...and got some bourbon from where Max's great-great aunt used to be employed...

...but I'll crack it open after the diet.

Speaking of the diet, it was a little difficult to be on one while traveling.  I did bring my own lunch on the way down plus bits of food for snacking and breakfast, but there were times when I just had to bite the bullet and get things that weren't so diet-friendly.

As we headed back north, we ended up going to Wendy's...

...and I got this Baja Chili Salad.

This might not have been the best diet option (there were two other salads available), but I didn't add the optional dressing and tortilla strips, making it only 540 calories.

Not too bad really, considering it was a salad at a fast food restaurant - and a really filling meal!

By the way - my current weight loss is 8-9 pounds!

As we passed through Cincinnati...

...we stopped to check out (and grocery shop) at the new Jungle Jim's location off of I-275.

Founded by Lorain native Jim Bonaminio, Jungle Jim's International Market is a foodie's dream come true...

 ...I mean, look at this smile!

 Once you pass the theatre...

 ...and the award winning restrooms (not joking!)...

...you can load your shopping cart with either items you've never seen...

 ...or tasted.

The store is huge (HUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE) and it can be a jarring experience at times.  

After venturing through the sections divided by country, we coasted through aisles with basic grocery store fare...

 ...only to turn a corner into the seafood section...

...and then see more sections around corners for candy, cheese, deli meats, baked goods, wine...

...and so much more!

We were in the store for 45 minutes and it was a fast shopping trip.  We would have actually been there longer if Max wasn't hungry and didn't start breaking down.

Poor babe!  I should have brought in a bottle.

Fortunately, I was able to get some key products...


...including this great roaster pepper and eggplant spread...

 ...some in-house products...

...and even some salmon roe...


 ...because it makes my egg white and hummus breakfast taste even better!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Weekend Diet Tests AKA Eating out during my second diet weekend

Weekends are horrible for diets for a variety of reasons.
  1. You don't have the same fixed schedule as you do at work.
  2. Meals are less likely to be planned because of #1
  3. You're more often to eat out.
  4. It's harder to eat out on a diet.
I went to a festival on Saturday, which meant either eating out or packing a lunch.

Since I didn't have enough food on hand, I decided on the former and was fortunate to find Pacific East...


...who whipped up this nice low-calorie sashimi lunch special for me (with 2 Ikura sushi pieces).


While on that trip, I also picked up some monkfish from Whole Foods...

...which I prepared that evening by cutting the fish into filets...


...poaching them in a water/butter blend (3 minutes one side and 1.5 minutes the other)...


...and serving them with a squeeze of lime and a side of zucchini and shallots.

Sunday, I took Max to see Mom and family...

...and, for lunch, we had homemade butternut squash soup (thank you, Vitamix) and a Romaine taco-style salad with hummus, anchovies, grape tomatoes and avocado.

I ate the salad with my hands.

Then, on Sunday night, I ate with my brother and his family at Aladdin's...

...and I got a lamb salad (my first time with red meat and this much cheese)...


 ...and a fava bean appetizer that I used as the dressing with some lemon juice.

I took the rest of the appetizer home for a salad the following day.

Speaking of Aladdin's, the Cooker Girl blog shared a pickled turnip recipe that I decided to try out...

 ...they're pickling as we speak (or I write, rather).

So not too shabby!  I actually think I did a pretty good job.

This weekend will be a little harder, since I'll be a little further from home.  But I have complete faith that I'll be fine.

And then I'll even weigh myself and see where things are.  

Maybe I'll even try on some pants in a small size!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Only good diets let you eat (octo)-pi.

In the above picture where Max got to go to his first festival (read about that here), you may possibly see the slightest bit of weight loss in my face.  It would be minimal at best...

...I was only in the diet about 10 days.

Now that today is my 15th day, I can say that I still may not look that much different, but my clothes are definitely fitting in a different way...

...and thank God for that!

Some foods during this diet have continued to be the same, like the pounded chicken cooked in lime/lemon juices...

...which I most recently tried in grapefruit juice (and zest) with a cabbage side.

But, more recently, I have been using more creative ingredients.

The baby octopi were so interesting to look at when defrosted...

...although Max didn't particularly know what to make of them...

...but once their tentacles curled in the bubbling water...

...and they were tender to cut up after 40 minutes...

...I turned them into this flavorful octopus salad with chick peas, olives, parsley, cilantro, green onion and pickled cucumber and onion.

Not too shabby.

I've lost anywhere from 5-7 pounds, depending on the scale and time of day.

Here's to another 15.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Just in case you felt bad for me in the last post...

In the last post, I told you about my diet and the hard boiled egg whites and pounded chicken that I've been eating.  Of course, although it might be easy to prepare this every day until I lost the targeted weight, I think I would eventually go insane.

So I've been trying to change it up, searching through the cupboards and freezers for other things to eat...

...only to learn that a majority of it has gone bad.

The majority of foods past their prime were found in the freezer, especially the grass-fed cow meat I bought in 2010.  Sure, I may use some of the burger meat but the majority (unfortunately) was pitched.

Most recently, I went in the freezer for some shrimp to boil for dinner...

...only to find that it was freezer burned.

A sad moment.

But, in any case, I have gotten creative when I needed to be.

Last night, for example, I had some brussels sprouts, which I cooked with onions, garlic and olive oil until the mixture got toasted (brown).  Then I added some lime juice to finish it off.

I also had some cooked mushrooms, some canned tuna fish (packed in olive oil) and a container of 40 Spices hummus that I wanted to try.

So I dolloped some hummus in the center of the plate, topped it with tuna, added some capers, surrounded the pile with mushrooms and surrounded the mushrooms with brussels sprouts before sprinkling on some parmesan...


A dinner where I used expletives to explain how delicious it actually was.

This morning, I had my same egg whites with hummus, but I added some lox to change it up...

...it just makes dieting easier, you know?


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Eating less so that I can eat more AKA Diet Time

I really have no pics to post in this posting since it would be nothing more than boring pics of egg whites, pounded chicken breasts and lentil soup.

Yes, this is now my 8th day of dieting and I fear it will go into March, possibly April, as long as I stick to my guns and lose from 20-30 pounds that currently reside in various parts of my body.

I've purchased new clothes (shirts and underwear mostly) that don't necessarily fit me well as of yet.  But they will...

...oh they will...

...by a few weeks in this diet.

In the mornings, I've been eating the egg whites of 4 hard-boiled eggs with small dollops of hummus.

Lunches have been pieces of pounded chicken breast that I've cooked in citrus juices (last week was only lemon/lime.  This week, I incorporated freshly squeezed orange juice).  There is also a vegetable that I eat at lunch.  Today, it's yellow squash with tomato.

Dinners have usually been a salad or bowl of homemade soup.  This week, there's a lentil soup I made with carrots, onions, garlic, tons of endive, diced tomato and chicken broth.

Very good and almost gone.

I've also included snacks, such as pieces of fruit or a handful of mixed nuts at night before bed.

Soon, though, I will incorporate some grains and possibly cheeses...just not yet.

I am going to lose this weight.

I am.

When this beard is shaved, a thinner, more handsomer man will come forth. 

He may even look younger.


Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's Eve 2012 at Crop - Cleveland

This year, since Julia's sister offered to watch Max on New Year's Eve, Julia and I decided to go out...

...dress up...


 ...and eat a fancy dinner at Crop Bar & Bistro.

The meal was exciting for various reasons....
  1. It was a surprise menu
  2. It was fancy (like I said)
  3. It was the longest and furthest the both of us have been apart from the little one.  Wowsa!
En route to the restaurant, Julia and I discussed what we hoped would be on the menu.  My listed items were...
  1. Scallops
  2. Pork belly
  3. Risotto
  4. Oysters
 Let's see how psychic I am...

Course 1: Amuse Bouche - Mushroom Cappuccino

With a gentle, yet enjoyable, truffle foam on top, the soup underneath was like a concentrated mushroom broth with butter.  I really enjoyed this dish.  I would have loved some bread (with more butter) to dunk into it!

Course 2: Oysters Cropeffeler - Crispy fried, spinach & bacon, hollandaise aioli

Oysters were one of my psychic hopes and they were pretty good, although not very crispy fried nor with enough salt (the bacon helped but some sea salt would have been better). 

Overall a good dish, but I should have asked the waitress for salt. 

My bad.

Course 3: Scallop & Foie Gras - Pan au lait, Maine sea scallop, Hudson Valley foie gras, truffle demi-glace

 Psychic hope number two - the scallop!  Whoo hoo!
The presentation was nice, but that was too much bread - especially with ingredients that could easily squish out.  Therefore, I took off the top bun and ate with a knife and fork, realizing that the foie gras was raw in the middle and not like a pate that I expected.

It was later that I would ask the waitress, "Was that a goose liver and not pate?"
She told me that it was actually a Mallard Duck liver and from a very good farm.

It was almost getting to be a little Portlandia-esque...

...but I stopped her before I got too many details.

This dish, honestly, was one of my favorites.  I LOVE chicken livers this duck liver was great.

The remaining top half of the bun was eventually slathered with Crop's honey/pepper butter before pulling a scarpetta to get the remaining sauce.


 Course 4: The Belly Bomb - Pork belly, wonton, kimchi, peking

 This dish was really cool to look ate...


 ...especially as that pork belly spilled on out.

Did you notice that this is the THIRD psychic hope?

Overall, it was decent with some tougher pork pieces mixed with the really tender fatty pieces.  Mmmm.

The slaw was okay.  I could have used salt here as well (or maybe fresh wasabi mixed in!).

Course 5: Intermezzo - Champagne Granita Siciliana

I got the granita and Julia got a blood orange sorbet.  Although the granita had a dried pear slice on it, I thought Julia's was much better.

Course 6: Roule' de boeuf - Tenderloin, spinach, mushroom, smoked shallot risotto, bordelaise

 I was happy to see that the last of my psychic hopes (the risotto) was present.

Good job, Crop!

The tenderloin was more tender in the areas that were a little more rare and the flavors were good overall.

A nice dish.

Course 7: Baked Alaska - dark chocolate cake, Mitchell's coffee ice cream, toasted Italian meringue

Beautiful presentation when served...


...and when eaten.

I wish I would have had more meringue for this one, but I mean this as a compliment to how good it was.

It was a really nice finish.

So that's how we ended our 2012.

Special thanks to Becca for watching Max and especially Crop for the grub.

We'll be returning in 2013...

...once I lose 20 pounds after all this good eating.