Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where's my yeast?

Although this post seems a bit more Mr. Hyde than my recent Dr. Jekyll posts...(Get it? More evil than good? Yep, I knew you'd get it. I didn't believe the rumors. I knew you were smart!)...I think you're going to likey today's post. Try it and love it. Guilt free, of course. (wink, wink)

After a recent trip to my new favorite place on earth, Whole Foods, I returned home with a $20/pound chunk of parmesano reggiano, a $7 ball of mozzarella, some organic roma tomatoes, and some beautifully brown baby bella mushrooms ('shrooms to be discussed in the next post). Yum! It's making me salivate just listing these palate pleasing pieces.

Man, I'm killing the alliterations today. :D Are you impressed, Mrs. Hay?

On a previous trip to the wholey land (hahaha...I'm cracking myself up!) I had purchased a stalk of basil. (When I say previous trip...it was probably like 2 days prior. Yes, I'm addicted.) That's really the best way I know to describe it, a stalk. The directions on the bag said to put it in water to extend its life. Well, I'm not sure what I expected, maybe something like the plants that thrive on just water? Ya know the ones, with the beta fish in the bottom? A fish, some water and a plant and poof a little ecosystem in a jar. Miraculous, I tell you. But my stalk of basil wasn't thriving very well. Hmmm, maybe I should've thrown a beta fish in there. That conversation at the pet store would have been a bit weird.

Store Guy: Can I help you ma'am.

Me: Yes, I need a beta fish.

Store Guy: Ok, I can help you with that. Do you also need an aquarium for your fish?

Me: No thanks...I have a lovely stalk of basil growing in a jar of water.

Store Guy: Huh?

Yet I digress.

Back to my point and the ingredients. My point was...that I had a stalk of basil that was quickly needing some attention. And not the attention of a beta fish. Attention from the sweet marrying of roma tomatoes and mozzarella. Honestly, it's more like a weird love triangle kind of marriage.

So first thing is first. I wanted to make a margherita type pizza...roma tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. I wanted it on a thin, chewy, homemade crust. And I wanted it yesterday.

I started off how every home grown chef starts off...with the google. I consulted the google about a great homemade pizza dough recipe...and I found one. It was perfect. I took the laptop with me to the kitchen and made it a countertop. (Buh dun chhh) Then went to the pantry to find my yeast. Where is my yeast? Where did I put it? I specifically remember buying it along with my self rising flour. I see the flour. I do not see yeast. Hmmm, where's my yeast? I asked Eagle Eyes to help me find it. And....still...no yeast.

No yeast? No yeast means no yummy, homemade, google pizza dough! No yeast means my basil goes yet another day without attention. It means it might parish in the middle of the night never knowing the full love possibilities of a girl named Roma and a boy named Mozzarella. No yeast means I gotta figure out plan C.1.a.4.ii. Ugh! Only children who have their mind set on dinner and are thrown a wrench do not enjoy moving to plan C.1.a.4.ii. They wanted their pizza yesterday, remember?

With no yeast in the house, I did the second thing that any home grown chef does...I went to Dollar General. UGH. This place mostly sends chills down my spine, but I was hopeful that the only food carrying place within four miles of my house would carry yeast. Let me just save you a trip. It does not. Cheap toys that break before you get them home? Yes. Checkers who are audibly so very excited that Jen is pregnant that they have to let the entire store know with their immediate and exuberant jubilation? Yes, most definitely. But do they have yeast? No.

What they do have, is a Chef Boyardee Cheese Pizza Kit. Yes, a kit. I was sad, and disappointed, and full disclosure, I was a bit embarrassed. In lieu of my yummy homemade pizza dough idea, Dollar General's lack of yeast forced me to settle for this pizza KIT. Yes, a kit! Oh my. I was only praying that no one saw me as I approached the over zealous checker with my kit in tow.

My plan was to use the crust mix and nothing else. Smart, I thought. So I went home and prepared the crust. At least I wasn't using a pre-prepared crust, I kept assuring myself. After all, I still get to kneed the dough and, if my spectators are lucky, flip it in the air a few times, right? Haha...not really. For the safety of all involved (it was just me), I opted for no dough flipping. Not that night anyway.

Ok, long story longer...I made the dough and much to my surprise I was pretty happy with it. It was light and fluffy and it wasn't as bad as I thought a kit from Dollar General would be.

I had read on The Pioneer Woman's website about a pesto pizza she had made using the same toppings I was using, but used pesto as her sauce. Guess what? I had no pesto...and neither did Dollar General. Surprise, surprise! Plus, I refused to use the pizza sauce that came with the kit. What to do, what to do? I, for some reason that night, was adamant that I didn't want to use a tomato based sauce so I thought of my favorite pizza from my favorite home town pizzeria that uses an alfredo sauce instead. YES! Alfredo!! Why hadn't I thought of that? Wait, I just did.

That settles it...Chef Boyardee pizza dough, roma tomatoes, sliced mozzarella cheese, basil from the stalk...and...homemade alfredo sauce. Everybody say it with me now...mmmmmm. After all, I DID just buy some $20/lb parmesano reggiano! AND I had some half and half in my fridge that needed to be used to boot! YES! The stars are re-aligning!

Can I take a moment and stress the utter importance of using a magnificent piece of parmesan to really make your alfredo go from "this is actually pretty good" to "Mom, this is so good I wish my mouth was bigger."

True story.

(Please excuse the amazing photography...all pics were taken from my iPhone since my laptop is being obstinate and not reading my memory card any longer. iPhone picture quality is lacking to say the least.)

Here is my beautiful pizza constructed as follows: Chef Maceyardee's pizza dough, topped with fresh, homemade alfredo sauce made with parmesano reggiano and half and half (YUM!), covered with sliced roma tomatoes, almost fresh basil from the stalk, and sliced mozzarella covering the entire pizza! Then to top it all off and just to be down right naughty, I finished the entire thing with more grated parmesano reggiano. I'm kind of surprised I didn't eat the entire thing right then and there. I guess the raw dough kept me straight.

Into a hot oven until the cheese was so bubbly I actually had to stick a cookie sheet below it so the gooey cheese would stop dripping onto the bottom of my oven. You KNOW it's gonna be good at that point. And just when the cheese started to get brown...she was finished...and here she is...

This about sends me into food convulsions.

Here's a closeup.

And if that wasn't evil enough for you. Here's how the night really ended up.

This pizza was delicious. Simply and utterly delicious. I really think the homemade alfredo sauce was what really made it killer though. Well, that and the no holds bar quantity of mozzarella completely dousing the pizza. Oh geez, and let us not forget the pizza kit!

Dear Chef Boyardee, please accept my sincerest, most heartfelt and public apology. Your pizza kit, did, in fact, produce a very lovely crust for my pizza heart attack. I do apologize.

But to Dollar General...seriously, man??? Where's my yeast??

Oh! I almost forgot. I had a few left over tomatoes and mozzarella slices, so I made a makeshift salad and topped it off with some balsamic vinegar....YUMMMMMM!

Until next time!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Justification Shmustification

Justification-the act of defending or explaining or making excuses for, by reasoning.
As in, "Macey should win an award for her ability to use justification to make unhealthy food choices."

I know, I know, I KNOW! You're probably just as tired of the whiny, bad decision-making, unhealthy food blogs. I know I am. But I promise, I will add in some other beautifully thought out blogs...some day. That is, when I can aptly justify it. (Bu dun chhhh.)

Truth of the matter is that I do win an award for justifying unhealthy food choices...it's called guilt. As soon as I think about bad food, promptly justify it in my head, then act on it, I'm usually awarded with a sudden, powerful sense of guilt. Not only did I just undo all of the hard work I put in at the gym, but I sadly realize that I seriously lack any necessary will power to understand the consequences of bad eating are far worse than the fulfillment of the justification.

It usually goes like this...I invite you to take a trip with me as I explain a typical justification shmustificaton situation. (Hey, I kinda like that!) About 2 o'clock in the afternoon, approximately 2.5 hours after I've eaten my lunch I get the craving. You know...the craving. The craving for something sweet. I wonder to the kitchen where I find the bowl of fruit that I just bought at Whole Foods for just this very moment of weakness. I pass it by. No, I need something...stronger. And I find it...in the fridge lies 1/4 of a left over cake I took to a friend's house. My mind says NO, not cake! It's laden with sugar...it's consumed with fat...it's burdened with empty calories...it's filled with evil caramel sauce and naughty sweetened condensed milk...it's moist, deliciously moist...it's chocolatey, perfectly chocolately...it's covered in sinful whipped cream...and it's beckoning me to take a bite. It NEEDS me to take a bite. So I take it from the fridge, grab my fork and indulge with a bite. Just one bite. One bite isn't going to KILL me! With a smile on my face and a moan from my tummy, I put the fork down. Then after an entire 4 minutes of not eating anything, I decide I need another bite. And another bite. And, yet, another bite. Each bite commencing with it's own justification..."One bite won't kill me", "Is this little bite really going to cover my abs?" "I work hard to eat what I want and I want this cake." And before I know it, the cake is gone and I'm left feeling out of control.

Guilt is the reward for my justification...and it's a lot longer lasting feeling than the enjoyment of the cake. So why, oh why, dear Lord, is that not part of my thought process? Why can't I see the cake, realize that 1.) I worked WAY to hard at the gym to throw it all away with a moment on the lips and 2.) After I do oblige I'm really going to be kicking myself for it! And probably literally kicking myself to work that cake back off! Why is this so hard to fathom when it comes to a game time decision..fruit vs. cake? I should know by now that I regret the decision every single time. So why, oh why, do I do this to myself? Really, why? It's not a rhetorical question, I need some answers! (Oh help me Jesus!)

Before I completely mentally beat myself up, I have decided to try something...something new, something revolutionary, something that no man before has ever even thought about thinking about. Something that the moment I tell you, you will most certainly gasp, your eyes will widen and you might end up hitting your forehead with the palm of your hand.
So, my question to you is....

Are you ready?

Ok, here it is...



I've decided to start eating backwards.


(Pause for dramatic emphasis.)

(Pausing for the gasp, widening of eyes, and impending palm to forehead connection.)

I know. You're shocked. It's okay, let it soak in for a moment....now, let's continue. Unlike my hopeful yet defeating attempt at South Beach, Eating for my Type (that's blood type, thank you very little) and yes, I even tried being Vegan, this cunning idea is not just a fad diet, here today, gone tomorrow. This is real stuff, man. It's eating with your food behind you. Hello?! How ingenious is that? How can I keep eating what I can't see? How can I feel like I'm depriving myself if I can't even see that half of my food still remains on my plate, even though my brain is telling me that my stomach is full? How is this not the biggest thing to hit the health industry since leg warmers and tube socks? People, I stand (actually, sit) before you today and proclaim that I have found the "magic pill". I'm writing a book. I'm developing a user-friendly guide full of useful tips of how to "Eat Out and At Parties and Still Keep Your Friends", which includes a handy back apron and floor mat. Plus, I've enlisted Cindy Crawford to be my miracle working spokesperson. It's gonna sell like Sprinkles cupcakes at fat camp. And you're gonna say...oh yeah...I remember her (me, not Cindy Crawford) when she was just a lonely ole blog writer, bitterly obsessed with the struggle between working out and eating right!

Ok, so obviously, I'm kidding...kind of. I'm not talking about physically eating with your back to your food. I'm talking about taking your normal days' food and flipping it around. I didn't ask permission from the lovely lady who sent me this information, but she knows who she is and Runner Girl, I thank you and hope it's okay to share the info you so blessed me with! Here is the article she sent to me. Read it. If you don't feel like reading it, let me summarize.

(MRT: I think I pretty much flunked the Summarizing chapter in English class...because obviously my parents forgot to pass on the necessary strand in my DNA structure that allows one's thoughts to be short and concise. I don't know how to "get to the point", as my husband usually requests. Details, baby! They're important. They paint such a lovely picture of what's going on. More so than a black and white...uh hem..boring...Reader's Digest version. I have a problem. I know.)

Back to my summary.

Man Version: Eat your big meal in the morning. A decent sized, filling meal at lunch. Have a nice snack. Eat a light dinner. The End. All is equal and well in the world. Ba da bing ba da boom.

Woman Version: Do you ever feel like you are so good to yourself until about mid afternoon, then all hades breaks loose? This totally makes sense...just think about it for a second. Would you rather fill your car up with gas and park it in the garage for the night or fill it up with gas and take it on a long, lovely, desperately needed road trip? Say, with a group of girls to do some fabulous shopping and relaxing spa time to unwind and escape the hustle of stresses of every day life? Yet, I digress. The point is, why fill up with your biggest meal of the day right before you put your engine to bed? You're filling up to go to sleep. Why not eat those calories when you know you're going to use them? In the morning! Just think, you could actually have enough energy to make it through your day!!! Doesn't it just make more sense, even on some far-reaching logical thought train, that if you're going to have a big meal, you'd want as much time as possible to actually use it and burn it off before you go into hibernation mode?

Eating close to bedtime is like a bear going into hibernation. The difference is, that the bear does it because he needs to store the fat and calories so he can snooze for the winter. (Does that not just sound wonderfully enticing right now, to sleep for months and months?) The point is, he eats so much to store it. Isn't our goal to un-store it? So to un-store it, we need to not store it. There. It's really as simple as that. Ha!

The correct answer is this: it makes no cotton-pickin' sense to eat the majority of your calories at night when, if you're like the rest of us, you sit your saggy butt right down on the couch and watch you DVR queue until bed time. Why not, instead, eat the majority of your calories at the beginning and middle of your day so that you actually have enough energy to make it though the day?! How about avoiding the desire to skip breakfast, eat a measly lunch (or maybe not), then ravishingly prepare a dinner (or grab one on the road because you're so hungry) that you will scarf down...just in time for bed. Not enough calories to be alert and pleasant throughout the day and too many calories late at night before bed. It makes no sense. None.

What does make sense is properly fueling your body for the energy it requires to make it through your day. Did you hear that? PROPERLY fueling your body. Sorry, that doesn't mean doughnuts. That doesn't mean bacon and sausage. It means fiber dense whole grains. It means a small glass of OJ. It means eating the fruit from the fruit bowl (uh hem), since after all they are not just a pretty centerpiece. (Although they are pretty.)

After complaining for the umpteenth time about how hungry I was in the afternoons and how exhausted I was throughout the day, my Runner Girl sent me the article for help. I wasn't eating enough at the right times. Most days I'd start off with a Fiber One bar and head to the gym for an exhausting 1200+ calorie burn off. Then I'd head home and try to replenish my freshly broken down muscles with a piddly salad. Literally 30 minutes later I was starved. And I was starved enough to eat anything and everything I could get my hands on. Well, anything besides the naturally sugared, God given fruit from the aforementioned fruit bowl. Then when I filled up on junk, the cycle began. 30 minutes later, I was still hungry...still grabbing food. Food that wasn't replenishing what I just lost at the gym, so I was exhausted. I was exhausted and hungry and fueling up with junk. It was a vicious cycle.

For the last week I've been working on eating backwards. Eating a decent sized, good carb and protein filled breakfast to get me through my workouts. Eating a nutritious, but filling, good carb and protein filled lunch. Drinking a protein shake filled with fresh fruit and nut butters for a snack. And finishing my day with a light dinner filled mostly with veggies and protein.

The results? I've lost 12 pounds, 3 inches and feel like I'm 15 again. Hahaha...I wish! Honestly, I am feeling a lot better throughout my workouts. I'm feeling more satisfied and energized throughout the day so that I don't feel the need to justify the cake. The cake is from the devil. I find that I'm not even thinking about the devil cake. I'm trying to eat for fuel, not for fun. (Man, that is the hard part!) But my biggest struggle is getting my hard-gainer husband to stop offering me ice cream at night!!! Men!

Now if I could just learn to justify cleaning the house every single day. This could be a happy, happy world.

Until next time!