Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What are You Craving?

I have been craving potato soup for several days now. I'm not sure why. So, I went over to Jason's Deli at lunch time and got a cup of potato soup to go. I love Jason's, but not this soup. It seemed very heavy and tasted laden with butter and salt. I dumped it and had a PB & J sandwich instead.  So, this weekend, I will be making The Best Ever Potato Soup. Believe me, it's delicious!  I can't wait!

I was thinking that there must be something in that potato soup that my body is needing.  I figure when we crave something, that it is our body's way of telling us it needs something. When my aunt is visiting ~wink,wink~ I crave chocolate, and it's the only time I ever do. And sometimes, believe it or not, I crave water. It's the only thing that truly quenches my thirst, and especially if I've eaten a large meal or something I don't normally eat, I crave the simple purity of water to flush my system. If I crave something I shouldn't eat or don't want to eat, water will sometimes get me over the yearning hurdle...especially if I put lemon, lime, or an orange slice in it.  Hot tea helps with that too.   My two favorites are Revolution's Tropical Green Tea andThe Republic of Tea's Decaf Mango Ceylon.

What do you crave and how do you beat cravings?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Aunt Jo's Low Fat Cheesecake

So, the twins are having a sleepover tonight to celebrate their birthday that was actually a couple weeks ago. Sam requested I make this delicious cheesecake, and so I did. I'm not sure why we attribute this recipe to my Aunt Jo (she probably made it for us the first time) or where the original recipe came from, but it has become a family favorite. If you try it, I'm sure it will become a favorite of yours as well.

Aunt Jo’s Low Fat Cheesecake

1 Lg. or 2 sm. graham cracker crust

¾ C. sugar

1 – 8 oz. plain yogurt

1 – 8oz. lite cool whip

1 – 8 oz. lite cream cheese

2 tsp. vanilla

Beat cream cheese and sugar till smooth. Add vanilla and yogurt and mix with a spoon. Fold in cool whip, making sure not to over mix. Put into a graham cracker crust and put in the fridge so it can set. Garnish with strawberries or cherries.

Cook’s note: Lite cream cheese takes longer to set than regular. I usually try to let mine sit all night, so this can easily be made ahead of time. If you want, you can even stick it in the freezer10 minutes before serving.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Salad Fixins

So, over the past few weeks, I have been recommitting myself to the Big Salad.  I like salads, but they always seen to bore me after awhile. I think it's because I don't offer myself enough salad variety. So, I am not only recommitted to the Big Salad, but also recommitted to trying to keep it interesting.  Tonight I made just 2 additions to my normal green salad tonight, pine nuts and cherry tomatoes,  and it was very tasty.  So, not ony am I going to try to vary my salad ingredients, but I am also going to try some new dressings like Mama Pea's cinnamon vinagriette or one of Healthy Girl's no oil salad dressings. My favorite store bought dressing is currently Maple Groves Fat free Wasabi Dijon dressing. It's delicious. My goal is to eat some salad every day.

So what do I put on a green salad? Here's my big list of ingredients to choose from:

romaine                                                                               chopped cauliflower & broccoli
spinach                                                                                celery
field greens                                                                         nuts: pinenuts, walnuts, almonds,pecans,
mixed  baby greens with herbs                                                            sunflower seeds
carrots                                                                                beans
cucumbers                                                                          onion: green, red sweet, etc.
radishes                                                                             mushrooms
tomatoes                                                                            edamame
apple                                                                                 hard boiled egg
TJ's Golden Berry Blend                                                  green olives
cheese cubes or shreds                                                     raisins
homemade whole wheat croutons                                    TJ's roasted corn

What's your favorite salad or dressing? How do you keep your salads interesting?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thanks, Oreida, They're O-r-e-i-d-a!

I don't eat a lot of processed foods, and I haven't had fast food in I can't tell you how long. I love salty food like chips, pickles, and green olives. And, while I don't eat them regularly, I love french fries. Tonight, I had a Boca burger for dinner with grapes and these Oreida fries. I wouldn't put them on my regular diet rotation, but if you love fries like me, these are the ones to try. They taste very much like Rally's seasoned fries, which if you've ever had them, you know how much they rock. Oreida fries aren't exactly budget friendly, but if they're on sale and you're feeling a little salty (no pun intended), pick up some to try. Your kids will probably like them too. As a once in awhile treat, I can totally handle them.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Yes, Virginia, You Can Eat Vegetarian Food In Vegas!

I've been back from Vegas for a week now, but between sick kids and a sick spouse and just trying to get back to normal, this is the first chance I've had to write.

WoW! Vegas was terrific! Thanks, Mercer Transportation, for a great time. The company was great. I got to meet some new people and spend time with some old friends that I haven't seen in years. And the food....OMG!

Going to Vegas, and having been in the past, my husband and I thought it would be hard for us to eat in Sin City since we are vegetarians. Vegas always seemed so meat heavy. A friend of our who lives in Vegas told us not to worry because between food allergies and different religious rules, Vegas eateries tend to cater to everyone. We were skeptical...until we actually ate there.

Breakfasts were great, and because I knew I could always pretty much get eggs and fresh fruit, I wasn't too worried about my morning meal. We ended up eating basically two meals a day, breakfast and dinner. If we got hungry in between we snacked on a bag of pretzels and some various protein bars that I brought with me ( and I was glad I did).

Dinner the first night was in a little restaurant in Paris. I had a good salad and some pasta with sauce-no meat (Yay!) but also no whole wheat pasta (Anytime I ate pasta, I did give up on getting whole wheat, but that's okay. I just didn't go hog wild with it). Dinner was just okay to me this first night, but at least I did get to eat. More importantly at this meal was that we had great company! It was fun to be out with adults and to be with friends-old and new.
Dinner the second night was also in Paris at Mon Ami Gabi. The decor and atmosphere was wonderful, and because the restaurant was right across the street from the Bellagio, we could see the fountains every time they came on. This night we had the seasonal vegetable platter. It had creamed spinach, fingerling potatoes, baby carrots, and roasted taro root topped with caramelized onions.  I had never had taro root before or creamed spinach and both were great! I also tried the whipped cauliflower that another person ordered, and it was good too. I had long been curious about "cauliflower mashed potatoes" since I have been reading about them forever on the web.  Now I know what they taste like. Not sure I'll make them, but I did enjoy the new flavors. I had a creme brulee for desert with coffee, but did not eat it all (pure restraint, I tell you!) My only real indulgence was that my hubby and I ordered 1 shrimp cocktail to share. It was more of a memory thing than an "I have to have this" thing, because shrimp was big with us on our last Vegas trip. I ate 2 shrimp and my hubby ate 2 shrimp. That was enough for me. It was delicious, but  not compared to the delicious veggies that came after it. It was the first flesh I had eaten since May, and I thought it would mean more to me having not had it for sooo long. but, really, it was neither her nor there for me. As my dad likes to note, I really have gone now to the dark side...LOL!

The next night was food catered by Paris in our conference room where we had the awards banquet. Oh my Lord was it delicious. They had a meat table, a pasta table, a potato table, a dessert table, and a salad table. The purple whipped potatoes were good, but the salad table?  Delicious...and it had the longest line of any of the tables. I ate a fresh field greens salad with a creamy sesame dressing and the most delicious cold marinated grilled asparagus I've ever had--actually, the best asparagus I've ever had.. I ate 2 plates of salad and asparagus, and even the meat eaters couldn't get enough of the asparagus.

The last night was the best overall. We ate at Bradley Ogden restaurant in Caesar's Palace in Vegas.
The menu was sitting at our places when we arrived. it was Caesar salad, a choice of a steak , salmon, or chicken dish, and banana's fosters cake for dessert. We asked if they had some kind of vegetable plate for us instead, and the Maitre d' said he'd take care of us.  Boy did he!  Our salad was field greens, brie, apples, beets,  and pine nut in a vinaigrette.  It was sooo wonderful and the envy of  the meat eaters at the table who said their Caesar salad was a little fishy. Then our main course was equally as fabulous. It was a trio of spaghetti squash in some kind of cream sauce with herbs, roasted fennel (yummy), and a cappelini mushroom, arugula, brussel sprout, macadamia nut mixture on top of a butternut squash puree. It was a truly Top Chef meal...truly gourmet and f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c! I didn't eat the dessert because I'm not a fan of bananas foster, and also because I wanted to savor the flavors from the meal that were making my tongue so happy. Later that night, we got creme brulee and coffee at Le Cafe back at Paris.

When we got home, I made a big salad for dinner, and my DH was like, "Man, how far we have fallen..."  He was right. I'm a pretty good cook already, but now I plan to stretch myself even more to  constantly include new foods and veggies and combinations into our daily routine. I'll let you know how it works out. That meal at Bradley Ogden was not just the best vegetarian meal I've ever had...it was the best meal I've ever had. Such a wonderful trip socially and culinarily.