Monthly Archives: May 2012

Spicy Shrimp Tacos

This week I am enjoying the sunshine in the beautiful Napa valley in California. After two weeks of gorgeous weather in my beloved hometown of Portland, mother nature remembered where I was and it once again started pouring buckets. Luckily, I already had plans to spend the Memorial Day weekend in California’s picturesque wine country.
Lest you think this is a vacation, let me assure you it is not. I journey here every other month to help my uncle with my grandmother, who will be 92 next week and is in the early-mid stages of dementia. Yesterday, I had lunch with her at her retirement home and spent the afternoon joining her in the activities there where I was fawned over by multitudes of old ladies and got to hear my grandmother’s same stories over and over again — how she named me, how my red hair is so like her mother’s, how I’ve always been her favorite, how she so prayed for a girl when I was born. Hanging out with this gaggle of old women is like the movie Groundhog Day or listening to an old vinyl record that keeps skipping.
I do so enjoy spending time with my Nana, though. At her age, I don’t know how many more moments I have with her, and at her mental state I don’t know how much longer it will be before she doesn’t remember who I am. We have always had such a close relationship, I think the latter will hurt more than losing her altogether. So I spend as much time with her now as I can afford, and hope that the memory of me will cling with her as long as this voracious mental disease will allow.
All that said, I do find time to enjoy the area. I love taking a run through the neighborhood in the morning, which sits at the foot of Mt. Veeder and winds through lovely vineyards. My Nana and I always have a girls day out when I’m here, where I get to pick a local restaurant for lunch — like Portland, there is no shortage of fantastic foodie finds here and I love sampling them one by one. And an afternoon drive through the valley, stopping at various wineries to sample the wines, is always on the agenda.
So I am going to lace up my running shoes and go enjoy the morning sunshine. I hope you are enjoying yours, where ever you may be!
Tip of the Week
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
You all know the old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, and of course any attempt at weight loss is immediately associated with  a diet full of vegetables. There is a reason for this: fruits and vegetables are good for you.
Now I hope I’ve shown you that you don’t have to limit yourself to fruits and vegetables to lose or maintain your weight. A healthy lifestyle is about moderation, and a diet of purely fruits and vegetables would, frankly, bore me out of my skull. It is normal to crave meat, grains, and sweets, and it is even okay to eat them — in moderation.
However, don’t forget your fruits and vegetables. Study after study shows that diets high in fruits and vegetables are essential to losing and maintaining weight. They provide essential nutrients and vitamins that you can’t get through other foods. Plus, supplementing your meals with healthy fruits and veggies helps to keep you feeling fuller longer.
You should be getting 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables, so look for opportunities to work some into every meal or snack. Try a banana with your breakfast — the potassium in bananas is great for preventing post-exercise muscle cramps. Or scramble an egg with some dried tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms for a delicious start to your day. Throw a handful of blueberries into your yogurt for your morning snack, the anti-oxidants help fuel your nervous system. Dip some raw veggies in hummus for a nutrient and protein packed afternoon pick-me-up. Room in your calorie budget for dessert?  Throw a handful of fresh raspberries or strawberries on a scoop of lowfat ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Opportunities to include these delicious morsels abound, you just have to look for them.
Recipe of the Week
Spicy Shrimp Tacos
  • 1/2 lb. raw, medium shrimp – peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • Pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 1/3 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 white corn tortillas
Prepare a marinade of olive oil, juice of 1 lime, garlic, cumin, coriander and sea salt. Toss with the shrimp in a resealable plastic bag and set aside.
Wrap the corn tortillas in foil and put in a 400F oven for about 5 minutes. Prepare your sauce/topping of greek yogurt, juice of 1 lime, and chipotle pepper. Prep the cabbage, mango and cilantro — set each aside. Finally, cook the shrimp in a skillet over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, until the shrimp are just pink.
To assemble the tacos, take 1 warm corn tortilla, lay a little red cabbage across the middle. Add a little mango, add some shrimp, drizzle the sauce across the top, and garnish with a sprinkling of cilantro. Repeat for the remaining 3 tortillas. Eat and enjoy!
Tip: If you have some calories to spare in your daily budget, try dicing half of a small avocado and mixing it with the mango for a creamy, cool burst of deliciousness.
Serving Size: Makes 4 tacos, 2 per person
Nutritional Information (for 2 tacos): Calories 338.9, Total Fat 7.2g, Cholesterol 150.0mg, Sodium  419.7mg, Total Carbs 39.0g, Dietary Fiber 5.1g, Protein 29.5g
(Note: I halved the nutritional value of the marinade since most of it is left over after cooking.) 
Warning: This is a recycled webisode, one of my earlier ones, that I decided to repost for newer followers simply because I love this recipe so much. This is why you will see that I am a little heavier, my hair is shorter, and the set (my kitchen) is different. Back to the new me with my next webisode!

Pork Medallions in Chocolate Stout and Mashed Rosemary Sweet Potatoes

Oh the single life…
A couple of weeks ago I decided to try the online dating scene. Again. Yes, I’ve tried it off an on over the years without much luck. The last time I tried it was almost a year ago, but I found that the only guys that responded to me lived in Vancouver. That wasn’t a bad thing then, but disappointing that I would receive zero response every time I reached out to a guy that lived just across the river in Portland.
Now that I live in Portland, I thought I would give the online thing another shot. So I created my profile, took some updated photos, and went cyber-fishing. It’s been two weeks now and while I’m hearing from lots of guys in Portland now, my latest experience, so far, is no better than the last.
It strikes me as a bit odd that online, the only guys that initiate contact with me are older (45+), heavy and fairly physically inactive. Yet when I’m out and about in a bar, at the grocery store, a restaurant, or where ever, I tend to attract guys who are attractive, active and generally younger than me. Which do you think I prefer?
Maybe I need better photos of myself. Maybe I should rewrite my profile. Maybe I should lie about my age online, after all I do look a lot younger in person than I really am. I have developed a theory, though, that people who use these online dating sites are way too picky. I think I even have to include myself in that statement at times.
Online dating sites are like a giant virtual shopping mall, where you have the luxury of sorting and picking through literally thousands of options. Of course you’re going to be choosy about who you pick.
So what’s a girl to do? Give up on the online sites and work the local scene instead? Anyone out there with a success story to share?
Tip of The Week
Eat Your Breakfast
When mama told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day, she wasn’t kidding. Starting your day with a well-balanced meal is essential to kick-starting your metabolism for the day. The best breakfasts are a healthy balance of grains, protein, and fruits and/or vegetables. My typical weekday breakfast is a slice of Dave’s Killer Bread Light toasted, 6 oz. nonfat yogurt, and a banana. With coffee of course. Some more ideas:
  • 1 egg scrambled with dried tomatoes, spinach and artichoke hearts
  • Oatmeal with fresh fruit
  • Smoothie of yogurt, flax seed, and fresh fruit
There are lots of prepared breakfast snacks out there for busy people like me who want to grab and go out the door. Make sure to read the labels, though, and steer clear of breakfast foods that are high in sugar or low in protein as these will leave you feeling hungry again quickly.
Recipes of the Week
Pork Medallions in Chocolate Stout
  • 1 lb. lean pork tenderloin, sliced into 1″ medallions
  • 1 large bottle (1 pint, 6 oz.) chocolate stout
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 oz. (about 2 cups loosely packed) fresh arugula
Arrange the pork medallions in a deep dish and cover with the entire bottle of chocolate stout. Cover and refrigerate overnight.Remove the pork medallions from the stout and pat dry with paper towels. Reserve the stout for use later.

Heat a skillet on medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add the shallots and salt and cook until until the shallots are carmelized (brown and melting). Add 1 cup of the reserved stout to the pan and bring to a boil. Continue to cook on medium-high heat until the stout reduces down by about half.

Serve 3 medallions on a bed of 1/4 oz. (about 1/2 cup) of arugula per person. Top with the shallots in stout reduction.

Serving Size: Makes 4 servings

Nutritional Information: Calories 297.6, Total Fat 10.6g, Cholesterol 89.6mg, Sodium 176.3mg, Total Carbs 2.0g, Dietary Fiber 2.8g, Protein 33.8g
(Note that only 1 cup of the chocolate stout is factored into the nutritional value of the recipe since the rest of it is discarded.)
Mashed Rosemary Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
Fill a large saucepan with water. Add the salt and potatoes and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the shallots. Cook until the shallots are caramelized — browned and melting.Drain the cooked sweet potatoes and return to the pan. Mash with a potato masher then cream with a fork until there are no chunks left. Add the shallots and rosemary and mix well. Serve immediately.

Serving Size: Makes 4 servings of about 1 cup each

Nutritional Information: Calories 121.4, Total Fat 1.5g, Cholesterol 0.0mg, Sodium 125.4mg, Total Carbs 25.7g, Dietary Fiber 3.0g, Protein 1.9g

Chinese Chicken Salad Pitas

Well I will divulge up front that I have not heard back from CG, and given that it’s been over a week I think it’s safe to say that it’s not going to happen. While this has certainly been disappointing, the whole episode, the roller coaster of nerves I’ve experienced, has made me pause and take a hard look at myself. Why do I get so nervous around men? What is it that makes me become so completely inhibited?
It didn’t used to be that way. While I have always dealt with low self-esteem issues in one form or another, there was a time in my life where I was unafraid to initiate a relationship or even pursue a guy. I won’t go into embarrassing detail, but let’s just say that I knew how to have a good time.
I don’t think that changed overnight. My current state of low self-esteem began to bake with my biological father’s suicide when I was 16, layered thickly with an unhealthy physically and emotionally abusive relationship with my ex-husband, and frosted with every pound I gained until the former me, the real me, was completely lost.
As I have shed weight, I have worked hard to re-discover my true self from the music I like to the clothing I wear to the hobbies and activities I enjoy. One remaining piece to the complex puzzle that is me, is overcoming my inhibitions when it comes to sex and men.
While the episode with CG did not turn out as I hoped, it has been a good learning lesson for me. I have learned that, despite what the voices in my head tell me, I am desirable and am worthy of a good-looking man. I have learned that I need to keep reminding myself of that until the voices quiet down. And I have learned that while baring my heart is scary, reward does not come without risk.
Here is my resolve… I am going to discover my new neighborhood one bar, one weekend at a time. If you’re familiar with the Concordia or North Portland areas, you’ll know this will take me a couple of years because there are so many great places to explore. On each outing, I will confidently practice my flirting skills and hope for the best. After all, if I can attract one cute guy, I can certainly attract another.
This weekend I discovered Bar Lolo, a great tapas bar on 29th and Alberta. Nothing magical happened, but I had a good time and I put myself out there, and that’s what matters. So if you’re ever in the area and you feel like exploring a new place, let me know!
Tip of the Week
Something is Better Than Nothing
One of the key derailments to weight loss is time. How often have you been caught at work or busy with your children’s commitments and thought you didn’t have time to get a workout in? I can’t tell you how many times I worked late and skipped the gym because I didn’t have a spare hour for the gym.
So here is the mindshift that you need to make. Something is better than nothing. If you don’t have an hour for the gym, make it a half hour. Take your dog for a 20 minute walk around the neighborhood. Climb the stairs in your office building for 10 minutes.
The point is that activity isn’t all or nothing. Even a little exercise is better than none at all. So stop feeling guilty and do what you can. That’s what a healthy lifestyle is all about.
Recipe of the Week
Chinese Chicken Salad Pitas

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast tenderloins
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 12 oz. broccoli slaw mix
  • 1 can mandarin orange segments, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch scallions/green onions, diced
  • 1/3 cup Newman’s Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger Salad Dressing
  • 4 whole pieces (8 pockets total) Oroweat Pocket Thins

Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, basil, garlic and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Submerge the chicken and make sure it is thoroughly coated. Cook the chicken in an indoor grill pan on medium heat for about 3 minutes per side then remove from heat. Let cool about 5 minutes and dice.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the sesame seeds. Toast until they are just lightly golden in color, remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the broccoli slaw mix, mandarin orange segments, scallions, diced chicken and sesame seeds. Pour the salad dressing over all and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.

Fill each pita pocket with the chicken salad and serve immediately.

Serving Size: Makes 8 pita pockets, 2 pockets per person

Nutritional Information: Calories 356.8, Total Fat 8.8g, Cholesterol 8.3mg, Sodium 890.4mg, Total Carbs 55.3g, Dietary Fiber 13.2g, Protein 22.4g

Savory Goat Cheese and Pear Tart

This week marked a rare burst of bravery for me, an uncharacteristically impulsive loss of inhibition. What is going on you ask? Let me fill you in.
It all started last weekend in my favorite wine bar. I had been exchanging glances with a super Cute Guy (we’ll call him CG) down the bar from me since I arrived, and finally he approached me. We introduced ourselves, talked, there was some casual touching. He asked what I was doing later that night, and I explained that I had a commitment to go see a friend’s band. We talked a little more, then CG excused himself to look for his friend that had been with him.
I turned and started chatting with the owner who was behind the bar, Didier, a charismatic French-Japanese man that makes this place my favorite wine bar. Suddenly CG reappears, sans friend, and parks himself on the empty stool next to me.
Now here is where I get stupid. Instead of acknowledging CG with a simmering sideways glance or casual lingering touch, I reason that I don’t want to be rude to Didier and so I continue the conversation with him. At this point, though, I’m not even actively listening any more. Instead, every molecule in my body is tingling at the presence of CG next to me, and my wine fogged brain is squealing like a giddy school girl.
So what does CG do when I show no outward reaction to his presence? He walks away of course. Out the front door to be specific. Have I mentioned that I suffer from extreme flirting stupidity? *Le sigh* Then I’m reminded of the time and I have to go to the show I promised to attend. And I leave. And I don’t see CG on the way out. But, I did hear later from friends that he returned after I left.
So now what? Since that encounter I haven’t been able to think of anything else but how cute he was and how stupid I am. After beating myself up for a couple of days, I suddenly remembered that not only did I know his name but he had also told me that he was the dean of a particular department at a particular local college. And by the power of Google, at my fingertips I had his faculty listing, bio, contact info and even a picture. Have I mentioned how cute he is?
As his email address stared out at me from the screen, I debated with myself. Should I or shouldn’t I? He was the one that approached me after all – twice to be precise. But what kind of wacko am I to track him down? I consulted with my single friends at work, and, with their overly enthusiastic encouragement, in a rare display of courage I hit send on my email. As soon as I clicked the button, my stomach dropped, the world spun, I felt bile rise up in my throat. What had I done? I have been unable to sleep and nursing a near constant feeling of nausea since.
For those of you that know me well, you will understand how seriously uncharacteristically impulsive and aggressive this move was for me. A lethal combination of lingering dead daddy issues, an abusive ex-husband, and disappointing dating experiences have left me with a fragile ego and deeply rooted fear of rejection. As a result, I am never the one to make the first move and I am typically very reserved with my actions and feelings when it comes to relationships. 
What is different this time, what has caused me to step outside of my cushy comfort zone, is honestly nothing more than hormones. I find myself very physically attracted to CG, more so than anyone I have met in a very long time. While the tantalizing prospect of steamy, unabandoned sex is alluring, the possibility of rejection also hangs over my head like the sword of Damocles.
And so now I wait. I wait and I hope. It’s been 2 days now and while the nausea is subsiding, the hope is beginning to wane. I think I’ll go back to the wine bar today and see if there’s another cute guy to flirt with.
Recipe of the Week
Savory Goat Cheese and Pear Tart
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 sheets whole wheat phyllo (fillo) dough
  • 4 oz. plain chevre/goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 medium red d’anjou pear, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375.

Coat a skillet with non-stick olive oil cooking spray and heat on medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until they are caramelized. Remove from heat.

Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick olive oil cooking spray and lay down 1 sheet of the fillo dough. Spray that sheet with the spray and lay the second sheet on top of it, repeat for the third sheet. Sprinkle the entire surface with the goat cheese crumbles. Arrange the pears over the cheese in a single layer. Sprinkle the caramelized shallots over the pears then finally sprinkle with the rosemary. Fold over the ends of the fillo dough if they are hanging off the baking sheet a bit. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the dough is browned. Slice into 6 equal pieces and serve immediately.

Serving Size: Makes 6 servings

Nutritional Information: Calories 112.7, Total Fat 4.4g, Cholesterol 16.7mg, Sodium 124.2mg, Total Carbs 13.5g, Dietary Fiber 1.2g, Protein 4.7g