Sunday, September 28, 2008

Eat Chocolate and Still Look Hot

Like any girl living in LA, I try to keep my weight down. But I love food, and I love chocolate, so sometimes there can be a conflict of interest. I experimented with making some low calorie chocolate cupcakes, but they came out AWFUL-I had to throw them all out. So, I gave up on trying to make something healthy, chocolate and low-cal. Instead, I turn to the goodies shown in the photo above. OK, the cupcakes and brownies have refined sugar and white flour and even some chemicals, but sometimes, it's just necessary. Thankfully, the plain dark chocolate is quite healthy, so you could just stick with that if you want.

  1. Trader Joe's 100-calorie 70% Dark Chocolate Bars
    While any dark chocolate is good, these bars are pre-portioned and individually wrapped, so you can't "accidentally" eat too much of it. Plus it's smooth Belgian chocolate, so it tastes awesome. It also says on the package that each portion has more antioxidants than a 1/2 cup of blueberries. Sweet!

  2. No Pudge Fudge Brownies
    These have been around for a while for good reason. They're super chewy, chocolaty, and at 120 calories for each good-sized brownie, a good choco-calorie bargain. My boyfriend said they were the best brownies he's ever had. Wow, so that's a win-win.

  3. Hostess 100-Calorie Packs Chocolate Cupcakes
    Now, these have artificial stuff and chemicals, but they taste really good. You get three tiny cakes for 100 calories. Sometimes I just pop one of them for 33 calories and that's all I need to make it through the evening.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Albert likes the acorn candle too..

These pictures sent from my iPhone!

Autumn is Here!

Check out my super cute new acorn candle from Bath and Body Works. It
smells sooooooo good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So bad but so good (the buffalo wings anyway) at Cafe 50's

Cafe 50's on UrbanspoonI stopped into Cafe 50's a couple of weeks ago. It's a diner-like restaurant (inside only, no train-car shaped building) in West LA with a real soda fountain and serious 50's theme. It's quite retro, and is technically on historic route 66 (although it's easy to forget that Santa Monica Blvd is more than just a place for car dealerships.) The walls are plastered with memorabilia, so it's kind of a fun little entertaining spot to have a meal or a treat.

Now, the only stuff I tried were the buffalo wings, the meatloaf, and the vanilla ice cream soda. I loved the buffalo wings! If you like mild to medium spiciness like me, these are absolutely perfect. They're meaty, have a nice crispiness to them before they are dipped in the tasty buffalo sauce, and are served alongside ranch or blue cheese dressing and celery. The wings are officially an appetizer but they make a nice meal!

My boyfriend got the meatloaf, which was way too mushy and soft, and an ice cream soda that rocked! You can get a soda or shake to-go in a super cute container (pictured to the left.) They have a very long menu of deluxe shakes that look tasty if you're into that sort of thing. Their website also has a quote from Zagat as "One of the best breakfast places in LA."

Cafe 50's
11623 Santa Monica Blvd
West Los Angeles, CA

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sunset in Palos Verdes

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Anisette Brasserie

Anisette on UrbanspoonWhat's a "brasserie?", you might ask. Loosely interpreted from Wikipedia, it is a French eating establishment that is more formal than a bistro but less formal then a restaurant and supposedly serves the same menu all day. I'm not sure if Anisette is a true brasserie, but it looks cool, is expensive, and is near the Santa Monica promenade, and that's good enough for California.

The one time I went, I was surprised to see no Happy Hour specials, which was a bummer. So, my friend and I (Katharine, pictured below) got a couple of cocktails, which were pretty good and strong, and an amazing charcuterie et fromage tower (meats and cheeses). The three plates of breads, meats, cheeses, figs, capers, and other little goodies were very very good and could have served three or four people, so it was actually a good deal even at $30. Sorry I don't have reviews for any of the other food, but Katharine says she's had dinner there and it was good. You can also read a comprehensive review at Chowhound.
Bon Appetit!
Anisette Brasserie
225 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Power Breakfast: Egg with Soy/Veggie Sausage

The third installation in the Power Breakfast series: This b-fast has been a standby of mine for years now, plus it's super fast when you're on the go. I used to make it at the office all the time.

You'll need one egg. I use free range, grain fed, no hormone, no antibiotic, organic eggs. I know that's a mouthful already. The grain fed aspect means the hens are vegetarian (did you know some are not? yuck!) and you're getting more omega 3's than with the average egg. Then, I use a Morningstar fake sausage patty. See picture below for how the package looks.

How to make it (see photos below for reference):
1 serving, 150 calories
  1. Put the frozen sausage in a small microwave safe bowl and nuke on high for 30 seconds.
  2. Crack the egg over the sausage. Place a piece of paper towel over the bowl-this is important because the yolk can pop and make a real mess in the microwave.
  3. Nuke for about 60 seconds more on 80% power. It might be a trial-and-error thing here because every microwave is different, plus I like my yolk runny. If you like it more firm you might want to nuke it for longer.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!!

Testing from gmail account on iPhone

Albert's tired.

Friday, September 5, 2008

This one's a winner, folks! Roasted Cauliflower with Peas and Onions in a Coconut Curry Sauce

I think I've turned a corner here. I made a mental decision to start embracing my hidden culinary acumen at any and every opportunity. How else can I otherwise hone it? So, the other day, I wanted to cook something healthy and yummy but the only things I had in the house were a bag of frozen cauliflower and an open can of coconut milk. What to do? Well, before my mental decision, I might have just thrown it in the frying pan with garlic. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but where's the challenge? Where's the creativity? Hence, this recipe was born. I felt so alive making it.. it was as if chef Alexis was rising out of the ashes to a new, beautiful world. All this from one.. simple.. decision.

Roasted Cauliflower with Peas and Onions in a Coconut Curry Sauce
Makes 2-3 main course servings or 3-4 side dish servings, the entire recipe is 650 super healthy calories
For the veggies:
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined peanut oil
  • 16 oz cauliflower, either defrosted and drained or fresh
  • 1 cup peas, frozen (no need to defrost) or fresh
  • 1 medium onion, cut into about 8 big chunks
  • Salt and pepper

For the sauce:

  • 2 teaspoons unrefined peanut oil
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 Tablespoons raisins (my boyfriend is out of town so I can put raisins in something.. yess!)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped pickled or fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (yellow)
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • Salt and ground white pepper (if you have it)

Let's see if I can remember how I did this here...

  1. Turn your broiler up to high. Spread out the cauliflower, peas, and chopped onions on a baking pan. I use the disposable aluminum ones for the broiler.
  2. Drizzle the 1 Tablespoon of peanut oil on the veggies, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss everything up and stick it under the broiler.
  3. While the veggies are in the broiler, put your 2 Tablespoons of raisins in the cup of boiling water and set aside.
  4. Heat up a sauce pan over medium heat. When it's hot, add the 2 teaspoons of oil, ginger, and garlic. Sautee for 1 minute. don't burn!
  5. Carefully pour in 3/4 of the raisin water, but not the rasisin, be careful because it will splatter at first.
  6. Add the curry powder, agave nectar, and pepper flakes (add to the degree of spiciness that you like). Stir it all up.
  7. Check the veggies, once they are crispy on one side, turn/stir them just once and then get them crispy on the other side.
  8. Turn the heat on the sauce up higher and bring to a boil.
  9. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat down low (but not too low), stir in the coconut milk and the raisins with the rest of the raisin water.
  10. Let it cook on low, stiring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  11. Salt and white pepper to taste.
  12. Veggies are done when they have some brown/crisp marks to them.
  13. Serve the veggies covered in sauce. This would taste good served over some fragrant Jasmine or Basmati rice.
  14. YUM!!! It smelled so good my cat wanted some (he's a carnivore!)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Power Breakfast: Blueberry Coconut Smoothie

I'm very excited to share this with you because I had an "ah ha!" moment when it all came together. This is truly a power recipe because it combines three very powerful ingredients: Coconut, Blueberries and Agave Nectar. I've been reading a couple of books about the virtues of coconut and its "miraculous" kind of saturated fat which, according to many nutritionists and contrary to popular belief, is actually good for you. These books also poo-poo some of the other fats that are supposed to be good for you, such as Canola oil, saying they are very very bad. So, it's pretty confusing, and I am still trying to make my final judgements on which ones have red devil horns and which ones have glowing halos.

So, if you're worried about the 4 grams of saturated fat from the coconut in this recipe, you can check out the following sources for information on why it's so good:

As for the blueberries, I am sure you already know that they're super high in anti-oxidants which are necessary for preventing cancer and other diseases. And finally, the agave nectar is one of the best sweeteners you can get because it is all natural, unrefined, has a low glycemic index and is said to provide many other health benefits. If you don't have agave, no worries, you can use honey or any other sweetener you prefer or have in the house.

Blueberry Coconut Smoothie
1 serving, 155 calories, plus garnish

  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk (or regular, but adjust calorie total)

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar

  • About 5 ice cubes

Just mix everything up in a blender and enjoy! Another nice thing about this smoothie is that for some reason it doesn't separate, so it always looks great and lasts a while.

For the garnish: brush agave nectar around the rim of a glass and then dip in finely shredded (preferably unsweetened organic) coconut.