Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Glycerides

Well, if a busy month ahead, pregnancy and the like weren’t enough to keep us busy, turns out after a visit to the doctor, Binks has high cholesterol and unbelievably high triglycerides.  For the sake of complete honesty, his triglyceride levels are 1000 +.  Let’s just say when I saw the number, I freaked beyond belief.  Just to put it into perspective, “Very High” is 500+Oy.

High triglycerides is different from high cholesterol.  Namely, the doctor said it’s from a diet high in carbs and not enough protein.  It made sense in every way.  We had cut down our meat intake drastically and I have been replacing it with carbs – and not all good carbs. And, I suppose it didn’t help that prior to his blood test, we went to a party at a friend’s house wherein Binks had a good amount of sangria – and by a good amount, I bet at least 2 pitchers worth.  He kept screaming it tastes like juice! LOL!!

In an attempt to attack this naturally instead of going on medicine, we told the doctor we will do what we can at the house with diet and exercise and come back and get retested.  So, for the past week, we have had a serious food lifestyle change in the house.

The changes include:

–  No alcohol.  Which is not a big deal because (despite the above reference) we do not drink often.  I would say twice a month.

–  No beef, chicken, or pork.  We eat fish, tofu, beans and other forms of heart healthy protein.

–  No refined sugars or flours or products made from the same.  Any candies, cookies or cakes have been substituted with limited amounts of fresh and dry fruit.  And, even with the fresh fruit, we pay attention to the glycemic index in certain fruits.

–  Vegetables and more vegetables.  For lunch and dinner, I include veggies in whatever way possible.  Salads, steamed veggies, and Indian food is a great option for us.

–  Exercise every day.  And, for him – walking is not counted.  He has to do more.  So, every day, we have been walking after every meal as a warm up and then starting our exercise routine.  He’s continuing his P90X.

–  Eating out limitations.  Sometimes you just want the cheapest option – i.e. fast food.  And, sometimes you want the most indulgent options – i.e. fried chicken (did I mention I’m in love), pasta, etc.  However, lately we have limited our eating out to places that offer healthy options and cuisine.  It’s not hard considering that we love Mediterranean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian, etc.

–  No processed foods.  Sometimes heating up a Lean Cuisine is easier than packing lunch.  No longer.

So what have we been eating?

Salads made from the mutant Persian cucumbers growing in our garden.  I love these cucumbers because the skin is not as bitter as the traditional cucumber.  It goes wonderfully with some sliced red onions, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Refreshing!

Smoothies as always

No sugar and topped with Cheerios, which the doctor recommended.  Inside contains almond meal, coconut, blueberries, 1/4 of a frozen banana (as they are higher in sugar compared to other fruit), and almond milk.

Fish and no refined breads.

This was excellent.  Fish was perfect.  Salad – I have had it for many days now and don’t see any stop to it in the near future.

While I am craving this meal every day, I have to pace myself with the fish.

Blackened Tilapia

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound tilapia fillet
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Spice Mix

  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black ground pepper (if you have white pepper, you can sub half of the black pepper for that)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Directions

  1. Mix together the spice mix.
  2. Spread onto the tilapia fillet.  I let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Heat pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add olive oil and wait for pan to get really hot.
  5. Cook each side for 3 minutes each.

Salad – The salad really is a mix of romaine, tomatoes, red onion, banana peppers, and a sprinkling of feta cheese.  The dressing is a mix of olive oil, red wine vinegar, italian seasoning, lemon juice and dijon mustard.  I’m in love.

NOTE:  From my stereotype of what a high-cholesterol person ‘looks’ like, Binks didn’t fit the mark.  He is not overweight.  He doesn’t drink often.  He exercises fairly regularly.  He doesn’t eat a lot of meat.  You would not think that such a person would have such a high triglyceride level.  (This is in stark contrast to my dad who does have high cholesterol and triglycerides.  He is overweight, doesn’t eat well (high on meat and refined carbs like rice), drinks often, and gets no exercise.)

Partly, the high triglycerides is common in Bink’s family and the eating style hasn’t helped.  After making the changes for the past week, Binks has already lost 5 pounds (which was not something he was looking for), and we hope that the changes will give us better blood test results in about 3 months when he gets tested again!

Any experience with high cholesterol or high triglycerides? 

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Filed under Health, Life, olive oil, Uncategorized

Lunch with the Inlaws

Binks and I designate every other weekend as parents weekend and we usually go to the parents’ houses for lunch and dinner.  This past weekend, after finding out that we are having a baby boy, I thought we should do a gender reveal party just for the parents.  However, due to our severe excitement to blurt it out and scheduling issues, we just told everyone and had a lunch with Binks’ parents for his birthday.

‘Tis a rare occasion that I cook for my in-laws.  ‘Tis a rarer occasion that I cook Indian food for my in-laws.  I love my MIL, but cooking Indian food for her is a stress that I have imposed on myself.  The lady can cook.  And, I am a hot mess and I get nervous.  So, in order to pull off a seemingly-easy-full-course Indian meal was something I had to gear up for.

Menu

–  Appetizers:  Fresh cut veggies and lemon wedges. To me, this is the perfect beginning of a heavy Indian meal.  And it goes great as a salad on the side of the meal itself.

–  Main Course:  Naan, Fried Rice, Chicken Tikka, Palak Saag, Potato Sabji, and Raita.

I must apologize.  The only picture I got of the naan was this.

This is the dough at the initial stages.  I totally intend on making this again soon so recipe to follow I promise!

The chicken tikka recipe I used (my absolute favorite) can be found here.  This time, I doubled the sauce because you can’t have enough for soaking with your naan or pouring over the rice.

The saag again is another favorite of mine.  I have to say I love the preparation and ease of saag.  First, you start out with a sink full of greens.  Literally – a sink FULL.

And it all cooks down to this:

The potato sabji is favorite of mine.  It’s truly comfort food for me.  Recipe to come soon!

Finally, to me, no meal is complete without raita.

Dessert:  The best yellow cupcakes with chocolate buttercream frosting!

Meal Preparation

An Indian meal, in my opinion, takes a long time to prepare.  Unless, you’re my aunt who somehow does everything in an hour.  So, to prepare my meal (as a novice) and have time to clean up (so it looks somewhat effortless), this was a two-day process.

Day Before:
–  Grocery shopping
–  Marinade chicken
–  Make saag and refrigerate in the same pot you made it in.
–  Make raita
–  Clean up entire kitchen.
–  Set out the plates/serving ware you want to use.  This will give you a great head start for the next day.
–  Set out butter before bed to have it softened by the next morning.

Day Of:
–  Make dough for naan.
–  Make cupcakes.
–  While dough is rising, prepare chicken tikka.
–  While chicken tikka is simmering, boil potatoes for potato sabji.
–  After naan dough has its first rise, roll into balls and allow for second rise.
–  Heat saag on low in the same pot.
–  Make buttercream.
–  Frost cupcakes.
–  Plate and set out food, dishes, cups, drinks & utensils.
–  Clean like crazy.
–  Make fried rice
–  Once rice is cooking covered, plate your other dishes.
–  Make naan.

I make naan last so it’s most hot and fresh when people arrive and if people were to arrive when I’m making naan, it’s not as bad or as busy as if people were to arrive when I’m plating or cleaning.  You know?

The best thing to show you would have been my detailed calendar for the day, complete with time frames.  I’ll save that craziness strategy for another post.

How do you plan for guests?  Do you start days early?  What do you take into account when planning a menu?

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Filed under Favorites, Indian, Lunch, Uncategorized

A Purposeful Cupcake

This weekend, we celebrated Bink’s 34th birthday.  And what has the 34-year-old Binks been wanting for his birthday?  Why none other than the mighty cupcake.

What’s the purpose to the cupcake?  Read to the very end and find out!

Call me ignorant – well for many reasons but namely this one – I don’t care whether it’s cupcake or cake.  I like both and both love me.

Binks, on the other hand, will go bonkers for a cupcake over a cake any day.  Even if we were at a party and there was a delectable cake and an average looking cupcake, he would reach for the cupcake.  I don’t get it.  Maybe you can explain it to me?

To me, it’s the difference between picking a blue M&M as opposed to a red one.  Am I stirring up some feathers?  I apologize.

Meet Bink’s birthday cuppy-cake.  The cake recipe is the same that’s used here.  I will never buy or make another yellow cake again now that I have this.

The frosting is none other than a chocolate butter cream.  Again, I won’t look any further.  I’m happy with what I concocted.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1.25 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Directions:
  1. Cream butter in your mixer on medium speed.
  2. Gradually add in powdered sugar.
  3. Gradually add cocoa powder.
  4. Add vanilla extract.
  5. Add cream.
  6. Add salt.
  7. The consistency should be soft, light and spreadable.  Keep scraping down the pan so that all the ingredients are incorporated.
Trust me, there is nothing better than laying out on the couch after dinner with one of these in your hand.
P.S. Want to take a wild guess as to why I’m eating cupcakes in a blue liner from a blue plate?
🙂
Did you guess?  Do you prefer a cake or a cupcake?  Do you prefer a color M&M?  If you do, tell me why please!  I want to understand!

18 Comments

Filed under baking, Cake, Desserts, Favorites, Vegetarian

Cravings

Yesterday, when Lindsay asked what I was craving, I could have written an essay about it.  Why not a blog post?

While I never got sick during the first trimester, I had serious cravings and aversions.  Prior to finding out I was pregnant, Binks (and even I) thought I was just being weird.  I did not want any bacon or be near it – pork in general.  Meat was just hard for me altogether.  I could not stand the smell or sight of mushrooms.

What I lacked in aversions, I sure made up and keep making up for in cravings.

Pickles

I cannot get enough.

Yep that is mustard and pickles.  Together.  It’s a fabulous thing.  Try it.  I eat a pickle everyday.  This is my pickle of choice these days.

Turns out pickles actually quell sugar cravings, which makes sense because I do have a huge sweet tooth.  Body – 1; me – 0.

Spicy Food

I ate spicy food before, but this is another issue altogether.  I can drink this stuff:

I cook a lot with this:

I don’t know why I crave spicy food.  I don’t know any reason behind this except to know that spicy food does rev up your metabolism a bit.

Cereal/Granola

I could eat this morning, noon and night.  I limit it to just breakfast because pickles don’t go with cereal.

I love to drown my cereal in the almond milk – which is something I did previously anyway.

I love granolas/cereals – it makes me feel like I’m eating a dessert and I swear to the heavens that the vanilla macaroon granola I picked up at Sprouts tastes like a cookie.  So, I’ve been eating cookie cereal.  My favorite these days is Cascadian Farm’s Dark Chocolate Almond Granola.  Again, tastes like cookies!

And, it keeps me full.

Cold Crazy Breakfast Bowls

To the exclusion of cereal, I’m in love with smoothie bowls and yogurt bowls.

This purple goodness is a mixture of prepared banana oatmeal, blueberries and almond milk.  Topped with Justin’s Maple Almond Butter.

That my friends is Noosa Blueberry.  If you haven’t tried Noosa yet, you need to.  I don’t know what they do to make it delicious, but it is.

Miscellaneous

Other cravings include:

Justin’s nut butters.  If you notice my pictures above you seethat I use it often.  I wish it were a mental thing but it’s not.  I have other Natural Peanut butters and nut butters but something about this one sets it above the rest.  So much so that I’m contemplating buying a $10 jar.

Bananas.  Maybe I’m needing potassium but I find every which way to sneak in bananas – usually at breakfast.

Coconut.  As seen above, I love the stuff.  And let me tell you coconut sprinkled on banana slices – O.M.G. dessert for sure!

Actually coconut has been not just a dietary supplement but an all-over body routine lately.  I use it on my face as a mask and I notice a huge difference.  I’m working on different anti-inflammatory (natural) masks and once I get together a palatable ‘recipe’, I’ll share!  I also use coconut oil on my stomach for stretch marks.

Being from Kerala, coconut is used often and widely.  Not for nothing.  Coconut is a power house of nutrition and other health benefits.

Are all my cravings healthy?  No.  I frequently crave and sometimes eat (sometimes because these are not every day foods):

(1) potato chips – Kettle Sea Salt & Vinegar.  ‘Nuff said.

(2) french fries – Always and forever

(3) fried chicken – This will never go away

(4) pizza – With garlic powder, red pepper flakes and Sriracha sauce for toppings.  I dare you to try it.

(5) Magnums – Shall we go there again?

Pregnant or not – tell me what you crave – a healthy craving and a not-so-healthy craving.

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Filed under Breakfast, Pregnancy, Uncategorized