Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fried Chicken: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

THE GOOD - Willie Mae's Scotch House

Willie Mae represents overcoming the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. Famous for her tasty fried chicken, she received the prestigious James Beard Food Award,the Oscar of cooking, in 2005. Once her restaurant was destroyed in the Hurricane, she refused to leave and was helped by locals and food celebrities to rebuild the cultural landmark. (Interesting tidbit: Ben's Chili Bowl won the award in 2004)

THE BAD - Nas' "Fried Chicken" off his new and wanna-be controversial album UNTITLED

Come on now Nas, you done took it too far with the righteousness. Attacking Fried Chicken! It ain't do nothin' to you! Attack the amount of fast food chains in impoverished neighborhoods, attack the fact that in some neighborhoods, people feel it is easier to buy a gun than fruits and vegetables! Attack not teaching your child correct nutrition and exercise habits. While I appreciate the metaphor (however loosely executed), I think this is a bit preachy and misdirected.

THE UGLY - Tyson's Fried Chicken Strips Commercial

Aside from being incredibly stupid, the woman is serving PRE-MADE fried chicken from a BAG!!! What she doing taking it out of that cast iron pan like she cooked something. What's up with the chicken soliloquy and random man playing the piano in the background. There was some mild controversy over whether this commercial was racist or not, I just think it's moronic.

I would include a "healthy" fried chicken recipe here, but there is no replacing the crunchy goodness. Just in case you need a reminder as to why this should be an occasional treat, here are the nutritional breakdowns of Popeye's fried chicken (my personal fave).

Breast - 350 calories / 20 grams of fat /1130 mg sodium / 179 mg cholesterol

Thigh - 280 calories / 20 grams of fat / 710 mg sodium / 135 mg cholesterol

Wing - 150 calories / 10 grams of fat / 690 mg sodium / 92 mg cholesterol

Leg - 110 calories / 7 grams of fat / 280 mg sodium / 59 mg cholesterol

Roughly 30% of those fat grams consist of saturated fat.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Homemade Gourmet Sliders

Yall know I love me some Oprah. I guess that's an Educated Black People Thing (lmao). So when she did her Favorite Things Show and revealed a new twist on a Turkey Burger. Oprah said it was the best turkey burger she ever tasted.

I thought to myself, Oprah eats at the best restaurants in the world, so I KNOW this turkey burger must be good. I went to the store immediately to test out the recipe courtesy of Donald Trump's Mara-a-Lago Exclusive Resort. It includes lots of yummy ingredients such as scallions, Mango Chutney, and apples. Of course, I had to add my own twist, so I decided to make sliders.

Sliders are no different from regular hamburgers, but they seem to have a new reputation. Instead of the tasty oily treats from White Castle, they've become chic. I've seen everything from veggie to buffalo meat sliders on menus these days. There is something about finger food that makes Americans swoon. I made my own version of sliders with the Mar-A-Lago recipe. Beware: the recipe calls for three pounds of ground turkey, so make sure you adjust the measurements if you are only using one pound of ground meat. I only had ground chicken in my fridge, and I don't plan on feeding an army.

I made the burgers as directed, added a little extra Chutney because i like the sweet taste, and I used Weber Grind N' Grill Gourmet Burger Seasoning. Any pre-mixed burger seasoning (another food trend) will do. I plan on treating myself to William & Sonoma's Hamburger Seasoning sometime soon. I made my patties about 3 inches in diameter, and this yielded about eight patties. After cooking, each patty should be about 2 oz. in weight. Eat two of these sliders for only 200 calories and a perfect portion size of 4oz.

How do you find those tiny rolls?

Martin's Famous Whole Wheat Potato Rolls are perfect for homemade sliders. These buns are miniature in size, and each roll is only 80 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 6 grams in protein. Can we say guilt free and tasty? I topped mine with avocado and chutney, but be careful with the chutney because it's about 50 - 60 calories per tablespoon.

  • Need to calculate calories in a recipe? Calorie King is your friend. It is the most comprehensive and user friendly database of calories.
  • Use 2 pounds and freeze the remaining patties like Momma used to do. You'll appreciate the extra effort when you don't feel like cooking and want a great meal.

Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burgers

Oprah found a new favorite food when she tried this turkey burger at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump's private club in Palm Beach. "I believe [it] may be the best turkey burger in the entire world," she says. The Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burger will be permanently available at the Trump Bar and Grille in Trump Tower in New York City, open to the public for lunch and dinner. It will also be served during lunch in Chicago at Sixteen, the Trump International Hotel restaurant.

Ingredients:Serves 6

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3 Granny Smith apples , peeled and diced
1/8 cup canola oil
4 pounds ground turkey breast
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. black pepper
2 tsp. chipotle Tabasco™
1 lemon , juiced and grated zest
1/2 bunch parsley , finely chopped

Sauté the scallions, celery and apples in the canola oil until tender. Let cool.Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl. Add sautéed items and the remaining ingredients. Shape into eight 8-ounce burgers. Refrigerate for 2 hours.Season the turkey burgers with salt and pepper. Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill. Grill each side for 7 minutes until meat is thoroughly cooked. Let sit for 5 minutes.Serve with a side of Mar-a-Lago Pear Chutney and your favorite toasted bread, pita or hamburger roll.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where is the Easy Button?

As a habitual dieter (see Albert Einstein's definiton of insanity), I know the process of getting on the wagon, jumping off the wagon, completely forgetting there was ever a wagon to begin with, and shamefully running after the wagon when that mischevious muffin top appears.

We food addicts know the feeling of waking up one day, after months of behaving badly, and not being able to fit into those reliable jeans. For me, it was around May when all of my professional work clothes started looking like club clothes. Excuse my crassness, but when you can see your cellulite through your MIGHT be time to start hitting the weights and veggies.

This "reawakening" is a vulnerable time in the habitual dieter's life and it comes in stages:

  • Stage One - DENIAL - "The dryer shrunk my jeans! The dryer shrunk my jeans!! I wonder if Home Depot is having a sale?"
  • Stage Two - SEEKING CONFIRMATION -"Baby, do I look fat in these jeans?"
  • Stage Three - ANGER - "Eff these jeans!! They ain't never fit right anyways."
  • Stage Four - ACCEPTANCE - "I knew they started making clothes smaller. It's a conspiracy. This 14 looks JUST like my size 8.
With acceptance, there comes a new resolve to make a change. This is when our fight or flight response appears. Do we fight our learned habits of getting extra cheese, margaritas, and fried comfort? Or do we fly away from the real reason we are in this predicament?

The key to starting and sticking with a weight loss plan is to avoid panicking, and focus on nurturing. Lack of nurturing your body, mind, and soul is what got you here to begin with.

Since I am an emotional eater, I've learned that I eat to avoid uncomfortable emotions. When I realize I am "fat" again, the emotions I face are shame, guilt, anger, depression. Ironically, those are the same emotions I was trying to avoid (via food and alcohol) to begin with.

Panic mode is a vulnerable time. Those hyperbolic weight loss commercials start looking increasingly appealing. I stock up on health magazines and covertly eye the diet pill aisle in Wal-Mart. I become obsessed with calories and measures. I start making self-deprecating fat jokes. Once again, it is something else to focus on than what I am truly feeling inside. This time I am trying not to transfer one compulsve habit to another.

Panic mode is when habitual dieter's fall for the gimmicks, looking for an easy and painless way to make the fat go away. Panic mode is when you start punishing yourself for failure with unreasonable eating and exercise habits.

I have a friend now who texted me this week that she lost 12 lbs. on the Master Cleanse diet. Now, I am happy for her weight loss, but I can't help but wonder how long that will last without implementing any lifestyle changes.

Unfortunately, when it comes to health, THERE IS NO EASY BUTTON. Consistency and longevity is key. I am trying to remind myself of this pearl as I continue on to the fourth week my 234,4343,324th "health program" and see minimal progress.

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Mmmmmmm, Girl if I could cook healthy food like you...

I'd weigh like 2 pounds..."

I am currently posting from one of my best friend's apartment. I'm chilling here catching up on Weeds.

Those were her words after tasting a spinach salad I threw together with the following accoutrements:
  • avocado
  • grilled chicken
  • gorgonzola cheese
  • red peppers
  • pears.

I made a Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette that was the shizzzzzzz. I didn't use measurements, so I will hook you up with a link or two.

The ingredients I used include: fresh cilantro, dark brown sugar, dijon mustard, garlic rice vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice and olive oil.

She didn't have a blender, but I suggest blending.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Books that have inspired me the past couple of weeks...

  • If you like to eat and are an emotional eater - read these to help you make long term changes. Details of my plan coming soon...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Instant Gratification

That is a catch phrase that we hear a lot in reference to our culture. We want to feel good, successful, complete, satisfied – NOW. While we don’t frown on hard work, we actually revere it, we do frown on what we view as a misuse of time, and that includes waiting. I’ve been told often that I am an impatient person. I accept that. Actually, I have been observed to give off an air of impatience, so one can imagine the strength I must use as I try to lose weight once again.

This time I am giving myself a year to get to my goal weight of 140 pounds, because I am obviously not 18 years old anymore and can not lose 6 pounds in a week. Apparently, I can not even lose 2 pounds a week even when I constantly calculate my calories and cardio. For some reason, my body does not fit into a mathematical equation. Go figure. F0r real - Fk math, lol.

I decided to view my weight craze as an addiction. Coincidentally, there was a slew of celebrity drug addict shows on cable this past week. For someone who doesn't have cable, when I get access to it, my reality junkie comes out full force. On one particular show, a recovering addict said that going to a drug rehab program was the easiest part of the process, it was staying recovered that was the difficult part. Being thrown into the same situations and expected to respond in new, yet foreign, ways is difficult.

I am addicted to food. It makes me feel good instantly. It helps me avoid certain thoughts that I have no idea how to handle or deal with. As a matter of fact, the mere feeling of not kowing how to handle something stresses me out. Family issues, relationship stress, job stress, money troubles – all melt away instantly with fried and salty foods. Then, as my waist line expands, I go back to detox a.k.a. dieting. My emotional issues are displayed on my figure like a flag of failure.

I am great at dieting. I know all there is to know about caloric intake, eating times, metabolism, good fats, bad fats, fat fats. I need to become great at lifestylin’

Therefore, my focus this summer is to come up with ways, reteach myself, how to handle stressful situations—particularly the lack of time and energy that will come with the school year--without sippin chard and eating.

New Favorite Recipe

Noodle-Less Lasagna – Use any lasagna recipe, but replace the noodles with thinly sliced eggplants. Use about two medium sized eggplants, season them with salt and pepper, bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

The eggplant soaks up all of the flavors and you never miss the noodles. I prepared mine with fat free ricotta, ground turkey (you can keep it veggie), and reduced fat mozzarella. As always, add fresh herbs.