Tag Archives: good food!

Small change #8: Eat a little breakfast

Don’t skip breakfast.

I hate eating breakfast.  I have a 0% fat greek yogurt (high in protein low in sugar)  just about every day with a nice cup of tea.  It makes me human.  I highly recommend it.

200 calories will do ya, with another 150 or so at 10 am so your blood sugar doesn’t fall through the floor waiting on lunch.  And obviously more if you’re not a short little middle aged woman such as myself!

Breakfast meeting?  Egg white omelette, a bready item that is NOT a muffin, or half a muffin if it cannot be helped (and sometimes, let’s face it, it cannot be helped!), and fruit, though it always pains me just a little when I order not to say Potatoes!  When possible, I poach a couple of breakfast potatoes off someone else’s plate (um, don’t do this at a meeting — but with the spouse, it’s on!).  Keep it light.  I don’t recommend a Grand Slam or anything that slams in the morning, particularly if you are already worried about over doing it.

In a couple of hours, there must be a snack!  See below for some good options: 25_Healthy_Snacks_Kids_2012_Tearpad


The perils of dynamic pricing

I’ve been doing a lot of running around lately, and I have a tendency when out and about to look around at the prices for the things we buy a lot.  Like food.  Although I can barely remember to pick up dog food before we run out, or to make my kid’s dental appointment, I have a decent memory for prices because I’m genetically engineered to avoid being ripped off.

Today I made my monthly (bi-monthly?) trip to Ralph’s (Kroger).  Let me first say that Ralph’s, you have a LOT of nerve saying you have low prices.  Most of the foods in the store were not just priced a little higher, but a LOT higher.  We’re talking a buck or more in some cases.

Of course, I’m not talking about the foods I was there to buy: Pad Thai noodles, sliced water chestnuts, and ginger (which, at the same price as Trader Joe’s, is refrigerated and of much higher quality/freshness).  In fairness, on my way out I spotted organic chard for the same price as at Whole Foods ($1.99 a bunch) and organic carrots for $.79 a pound and made off with both on impulse (whoo, I really like to live big, don’t I?).

Clearly Ralph’s does all right on some items (grapes, for example, were competitively priced on sale, as were apples), and makes up a lot of ground on others (you can get spanked buying detergent there, and the pasta was at least $.20 more per bag).  Beans in bulk at Whole Foods cost less per pound than conventionally grown dry beans at Ralph’s.  That’s how dynamic pricing works:  They grab you for the sale, and grab you somewhere down south for the rest.

I was particularly peeved by the price of Fage yogurt.

Mmmm. How much are you willing to pay to get your yogurt fix?

Like many of my students, I really like Fage, but probably unlike my students I know what Fage costs nearly everywhere a person can buy it.  Fage has really, really dynamic pricing (pricing that changes with inventory, season, or the whims of some evil genius).  Here is a cost breakdown of normally priced Fage in my ‘hood, per 5.3 oz container as of yesterday, 10/17/12:

  • Ralphs:             $1.69
  • Trader Joe’s:   $1.49
  • Target:              $1.42
  • Costco:              $1.09 – but you have to buy a box of 12 in flavors                  chosen for you

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PDX Vegan Bakery/Other Food Roundup

Well, if this doesn’t prove how much I enjoy food, nothing will.

Just back from a couple of weeks in Portland, Oregon, where people really know how to eat.  We had strawberries from the Montavilla Farmer’s Market that were the best strawberries we’ve ever tasted (proof: we demolished 2 baskets between my husband and I and the little kid — in one sitting).

There is a worthwhile Farmer’s Market just about every day in Portland.  The biggie is on Saturday’s at Portland State University, where lots of cheese, produce and bakery make for some seriously easy meal planning.  They also have the best tamales I have ever eaten ever ever ever from Salvador Molly’s.  Ever.  Not mealy, wet and tasteless — sweet, baked perfectly, with a lovely array of veggies inside.  Wish I could have one right now.

But no trip would be complete without a review of bakery, with a special emphasis on vegan bakery, because it’s more of a challenge, healthier, and it can be either really good, or awful, with little in the middle.  Rather than slam anyone for what they don’t do well, I’ll leave out the awful altogether and point out what each bakery does well.  Here they are:

Best overall vegan bakery: Dovetail Bakery (Alberta and 30th).  Morgan Grundstein-Helvey knows what the hell she is doing — she makes cornmeal scone-like I-can’t-remember-what-they-were-called-s with rhubarb/apricot/pink sprinkled sugar that are perfection – and I mean texture, too.  Often vegan bakers get the taste but the texture is wayyyy off.

Last night I was out in L.A. and ate something billed on the menu as “The best vegan cheesecake ever”  It tasted like overcooked, overmixed yams mixed with the Creamy Lemon Di-Gel tablets my father used to take.  Let this be a lesson in overconfidence.

Dovetail would never commit such a sin.  The cookies are huge and flavorful and are crispy on the outside and tender in the middle — not undercooked but genuinely tender.  We tried a variety of things (um, twice) and they were all just amazing.  If you like molasses lace cookies, try the Trail Mix cookies — the perfect mix of nutty, sweet and salty.  Snickerdoodles so good even I ate some.  Throw in the lovely aesthetic of the place Continue reading

Soup on the fly

healthysoupWhat happens when I have a child in the bath and I’m still thinking of what to whip up for dinner?  This is what happens: soup.  Our child loves soup, so on this night, when we were eating something she wouldn’t touch (Spanakopita; is she nuts? Her loss.) I whipped this up while she threw on some jammies.  Soup for one:

  • Broth (we buy a carton for $1.99 at Trader Joes – chicken or veggie — we use veggie.  The following night/day it can be used to make some really excellent rice when it’s the cooking water, or cooking water for vegetables.  Adds flavor without much salt.
  • Rotelle (spiral) pasta – always good to keep on hand.
  • baby carrots
  • frozen broccoli — just take out what you need
  • ditto the frozen, sweet corn
  • beans from a can, or leftover homemade, which was the case here

Microwave the broth with the rotelle pasta and carrots for 5 minutes.  Toss in the broccoli and corn, microwave for another 4 minutes.  Toss in the beans, 1 more minute.  Done!

Add a little bread and butter on the side and you’re good to go without having tons of soup left over.

Good snacking!

Well, we’re getting to that time of year where food and socializing are abundant, holiday celebrations at your kid’s school and at home abound, and many of us start the downward spiral that is the source of many lofty resolutions for the coming year.snacks

This applies most of all to your children (if you have any lying around). Since our child entered public school this fall, I’ve been made aware of what many parents consider a proper snack for their child (mainly because my child relays this to me in a “why-can’t-I-have-


Chips-Ahoy!-cookies for snack” diatribe). Let me just say that I’m not entirely against such foods on occasion, but they are not snacks; they are indulgences and should be treated that way.

The average child usually consumes between 1,000-1,400 calories a day (to find out what your child should be consuming, head on over to MyPyramid.gov and on the left, click the “For preschoolers” or “For Kids” link.  If you download MyPyramid plan for your kids and can’t read it, try opening it in Word.  Anyway, my point is that if you’re giving a kid a 200 calorie snack and it’s devoid of any meaningful nutrition, it wastes anywhere from 10-20% of their day’s calories.

So it’s good to find snacks that are healthy, fast and well accepted by your kids.  The ones we’ve been able to agree on: applesauce, carrots with dressing, celery with peanut butter, yogurt, grapes, nuts, bananas, cheese (not cheez whiz stuff, but real cheese) and whole grain crackers.  Buying a fancy little spoon for their lunchbox and a $1.79 refreezable ice (see the butterfly in the pic?) keeps everything cool and makes everything look more acceptable to both your child and their inquisitive friends.  I once made our child a pasta salad with chopped vegetables and a tiny bit of salad dressing.  She loved it, but her friends made fun of her (“what is that?” and that was the end of that).

Since we run out the door like lightning every morning, it helps if snacks are packaged and ready to go.  And cheap.  I know that.  For many people, that seems limited to 10-packs of chips or 100-calorie cookie packs.  These are not great snacks — they contain little if any vitamins and minerals, and they also disregard one very important point: children are a captive audience during snack time at school.  This means that they’re hungry, and whatever is packed (unless positively shameful) will be quickly consumed because it’s available.  Thus, it’s a great opportunity to get some veggies, fruits or other healthy snacks down the hatch.  A  4-pack of applesauce is about $2.00-$2.50, 3 packs of carrots and ranch, or celery with peanut butter are $2 at Trader Joe’s, little packs of Stoneyfield yogurt are about $3.50 for 6.  Motts makes a “natural” applesauce (avoid the original; it’s sweetened with high fructose corn syrup — and the natural costs the same – about $2.50 for 6 at Target).  Theoretically you can do healthy snacks for kids at well under $1 a day.  And that’s for high-end, organic good stuff.

As a rule, read the label for sodium and fat and avoid the product if either of those ingredients is listed as 20% or more of the Daily Value (that’s those percentages on the right).  That’s about 480 mg of sodium and (yikes) about 12 grams of fat.  Keep the cheese low fat; they won’t know if the difference.

All of this, of course, is good advice for you, too.  If you want to start the year healthier and wealthier, bypass that snack machine at work, bring your own snacks and eat just those (squirrel the money you would have spent at the vending machine or the coffeehouse — those frappucino dealies with whipped cream can kill anyone’s diet — into a jar and you’ll have some money for nice clothes during the holiday sales).  Bring a container to work to take home any especially fabulous goodies, but unless it’s the Christmas party, you really need to just say NO.  Try to remember that alcoholic beverages pack up to 200 calories a pop, so try to choose between one of those or dessert (um, and presumably we’re talking after work, unless things are really going downhill at the job!).  Save the snacking and grazing and enjoying for the social occasions when you’ll want to let go a little, and for the rest of the time, polish that halo!