Tag Archives: Salad

3 Ways to Eat Barley

22 May

Barley is an excellent source of fiber and essential amino acids (Google it or read the package it comes in). In addition to loving its taste and texture, I’ve noticed that it really has helped improve my digestive system. This fact is not only good news for my general health, but it also seems to have helped boost my metabolism. I feel like eating more yummy sources of fiber, like barley, is helping me lose weight in a really healthy way. Plus, barley is such a versatile grain. Below are just three ways I have incorporated it into our meals. I look forward to hearing more ideas from you readers! [Note: Barley does contain gluten.]

fried egg on barley

For a breakfast high in protein and fiber, throw a fried egg on some boiled barley and enjoy the yumminess!

Breakfast

By itself, boiled barley has a hearty grain taste. I like to cook it for a long time, stirring frequently (and occasionally adding extra water) so that the barley is soft and tender and the starch water thickens to a yummy consistency. Add a bit of salt while cooking. A bowl of this plain barley as a porridge can be a terrific alternative to oatmeal. Or, for extra protein and variety, throw a fried egg on top. It makes for a great-tasting, super healthy breakfast. By the way, in my experience, barley always takes longer to fully cook than the package indicates, so allow for extra boiling time.

Side Dish

The other day, I mixed boiled pearled barley with choclo cut off the cob. (Peruvian corn; for image and other uses, see this recipe). I boiled both separately first, then mixed them together and boiled them for an additional 30 minutes with some butter and salt (stirring every few minutes). The resulting side dish was one of the yummiest things I’ve made in a while. The texture of the corn perfectly complimented the barley. The taste of the extra soft barley with the potato-like corn and butter blended so well! I took some over to Vita’s apartment and we gobbled it all up. We started calling it kasha, which she taught me is a Russian word for a savory, hearty side dish like this turned out to be.

Main Course

I always cook enough dinner so that there are leftovers for lunch the next day. Sometimes there’s even more than that so I try to get creative and use the leftovers in new ways so that we’re not eating the same thing for three or four days in a row. For example, back in April, I made a giant batch of pea soup. There is still one small container of it in the freezer. Once defrosted, it will be enough for one big lunch or two small sides for dinner. However, I’ve also got some plain boiled barley left in the fridge, which can be an excellent ingredient in soup. So, I’m going to combine the leftover soup and the barley as a base for a stew. I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I plan to add some carrots and maybe also some choclo. It’ll be one of the heartiest vegetable stews I’ve ever made. We also have some leftover pulled pork roast, which could be added since the soup was originally ham stock-based, but I’m not sure about that yet.

pearled barley

Barley is a great source of fiber and amino acids. This tasty grain can be used in many types of hot and cold dishes.

There are so many other ways to cook barley. I even saw some recipes for salads that mix barley with soybeans and other veggies, which sounds really yummy. For a salad, I would stop cooking the barley once it reached a sort of “al dente” texture so that it would blend well with other cold veggies because you wouldn’t want mushy barley in a salad.

I hope you enjoy trying it out in new ways in your life!

–Michelle

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Special Order with a Smile

7 May
Sally special orders her food

In “When Harry Met Sally,” Sally special orders everything to suit her personal tastes without any hesitation when making the requests.

When you’re dieting, it can be tough to have fun going out with friends who aren’t dieting. Instead of staring at a restaurant menu feeling guilty, get creative. If you’re polite and kind, pretty much any restaurant will let you special order something to suit your needs. (Check out this great scene from “When Harry Met Sally” when Harry first hears how Sally special orders everything. Love it!) Here are some ideas to help you special order when you’re out so that you can keep losing weight:

  • Order a combination of small items from the appetizer and side dish sections of the menu. For example, you can get an appetizer of shrimp or small pieces of chicken and combine that with a small side of a favorite veggie. This way, you’re not getting the huge entree-size portion and you’re only eating one side dish instead of also having a roll, soup, potato with butter, etc. Continue reading

Updates On The Skipping Dinner Experiment

7 May

Not a long time ago I decided to make a little experiment and see whether I’d be able to go without dinner for a whole week. You can read all about how it started here. It seemed a relatively easy experiment, to have a full breakfast and late lunch, which theoretically should have lead to the skipped dinner. Well, I have to confess it wasn’t that easy, I broke down after the fourth night. However I have to admit even if I ate after six o’clock, it wasn’t anything heavy, a very light dinner. In fact, one of those nights was a raw vegan experience, which I posted about in this post.

Even though I failed this little experiment, I still have hope that I’ll be able to go though it again.

All the best,

– Vita :)

PS: If you haven’t voted yet on our little poll, we’d highly appreciate just a second of your time to answer one simple question, meat or seafood till the rest of your life? Thank you! :)

My First Experience With Vegan Raw Food

3 May

Last Saturday our good friend invited us to try a new restaurant that he got a coupon from. We didn’t even know where we are going until practically the last minute; all he told us was, “This is a new place and you guys are gonna love it!” There were four guys and me in our group and it was hard for them to resist making snarky comments when they realized that we had arrived at a vegan restaurant. Even though I was quite skeptical about it, I decided to reserve my judgement until I was done with my food.

We started with drinks, which I thought were pretty good. For example, I ordered a delicious coconut cocktail, which consisted of muddled limes, fresh coconut water, and raw sugar cane. It was sweet and refreshing at the same time! Our food arrived one plate at a time, which I thought was kind of weird. Continue reading

5 Reasons to Grill Everything!

30 Apr
teriyaki and pineapple chicken

Grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce and pineapple slices. Delectable.

It’s mid-morning on Monday and I’m still full from all of the BBQ we ate this weekend at my folks’ house a little over an hour’s drive from our home. I didn’t overeat. Everything was cooked beautifully on the grill. And now I’m reminded that BBQ can be incredibly filling. I know it’s technically spring, not summer, but we’re having such beautiful weather lately that it feels like summer already…or maybe that’s my sunburn talking.

While my mom’s husband grilled–he’s extremely talented at the grill–my mom, my husband, and I spent most of our time in the pool working up an appetite. When the weather turns warm like this, it’s impossible to not be outside running around, gardening, swimming, or just enjoying the sunshine. All of those activities require good food to keep you going and lots of water to keep you hydrated…between these gorgeous strawberry daiquiris, that is.

robert strawberry daiquiris

My mom's husband made these perfect strawberry daiquiris for us while we were lounging in the pool. Life is good these days!

[Side note: Most, if not all, diets and nutritionists will tell you to not drink alcohol when you want to lose weight because it’s nothing but “empty calories.” This is one of those diet rules I’m dropping–and I think it’s safe to say that Vita is with me on this one. First of all, pretty much anything in moderation isn’t going to affect long-term weight loss. Secondly, diet-related restrictions tend to bring out the rebel in us; and I want my diet choices to be things that I can maintain in the long-term (I know I’m not going to give up all alcohol forever). Thirdly, you can choose to have an alcoholic drink instead of a high-calorie snack and still be within a healthy daily calorie-intake amount. And finally, I know I was burning calories while swimming around so I’m not worried about the calories in a drink.]

Grilling is an excellent cooking method for several reasons, especially if you’re trying to lose weight without boring your taste buds. Here are my five reasons to grill everything:

1. Food tastes better outside. Haven’t you ever noticed how great food tastes at a picnic or in the backyard on a summer evening? Maybe it’s because all of the senses are heightened and stimulated by the outdoor environment. Whatever the reason, I know that those meals are special and worth repeating as often as possible.

2. Fat drains off. Regardless of how you like your meat cooked, grilling offers a way to drain off excess fat that other cooking methods can’t match. Think off all the fat that sits in your broiler or the oil that you put in a frying pan when you cook on the stove or even in the oven. Now think of how wonderful the grill smells as the fat burns off and your meal comes to the table perfectly cooked with those grill marks.

3. Total control. When you cook at home, you are in total control of what goes into the meal and into your body. When you grill, you are assured that your meat is cooked exactly the way you want it (I like mine extra well done) and that any sauces or marinades you use are in line with your personal tastes. I’ve had teriyaki chicken at restaurants that was just awful because they used a crappy marinade. Grilling also provides such a unique flavor on its own that you don’t need to rely on a lot of oil, salty seasonings, or additives because the right taste is seared in by the flames.

4. You can grill almost anything. Our weekend was filled with burgers, steaks, chicken, corn on the cob, and more, all cooked on the grill. It was so efficient and tasty. My mom and her husband use their grill all the time and we were more than happy to help this weekend. It kept us all outside enjoying the weather and each other’s company. Corn grilled in its husk is so delicious. My mom’s husband does a great job balancing and cooking everything to perfection. He even toasted the burger buns on the grill, which is an amazing flavor-enhancing touch! The only things we didn’t grill that we ate this weekend were the baked beans, veggie toppings for the burgers, and popcorn. (My mom’s husband even reheated some leftover pizza on the grill because it was efficient and made the crust nice and crispy without burning it.)

5. It’s budget-friendly. We felt so spoiled eating all those delectable, grilled meals because the cost of eating steak, giant burgers, and teriyaki chicken like that in a restaurant day and night would be way beyond our budget. Think of the cost of steak dinners for four people at your favorite steak restaurant (plus the gas to get there, the wait time, sales tax, and tip). Now, think of the four pack of steaks you can get at the grocery store, some potatoes, corn, and salad fixin’s, and the fun of grilling with the family. It’s an easy choice, in my opinion. Plus, clean up is easy too. There are no oily pans to scrub. Take care of your grill and it’ll take care of you.

The only non-healthy foods we ate were the macaroni salad, potato salad, and BBQ potato chips. However, I was so content and full with dinner that I didn’t have seconds and I didn’t have any dessert. I think that those choices, combined with the physical activity, balances out pretty well in my favor. I’m not worried about it. By the way, a perfect low-cal snack for a summery evening after BBQ is homemade popcorn! My mom pops the yummiest popcorn on the stove with just a little oil and some salt and it tastes better than anything you can get at the store (and it’s not bad for you).

Have a wonderful grilling season, everyone! What’s your favorite thing to grill? Let us know in the comments section.

–Michelle

A Single Serving at a Holiday Feast

9 Apr

I hope you all had a lovely Passover and Easter weekend!

Easter lilly

An Easter lily at my mom's house where we had dinner.

Dishing out heaping spoonfuls of all my favorite things is my usual modus operandi at holiday gatherings (especially gravy-soaked Thanksgiving). I certainly did plenty of overeating while visiting my husband’s family in New Jersey last week (more on that tomorrow). This Easter at my mom’s house in Los Angeles, however, I think I kept myself pretty well under control…even if I did start the day with a Cadbury caramel chocolate egg. That’s better than no breakfast at all, right? It would have been rude to not partake of gifts from the Easter Bunny. ;)

After a prayer, my family celebrated with a typical American Easter meal: a ham drizzled with a mixture of pineapple juice and golden (not dark) brown sugar; creamy mashed potatoes with butter; great northern beans; and corn bread muffins. In years past, we’ve varied our veggie choice (usually we have green beans) but this is what sounded good this weekend. As difficult as it was–because the food was so yummy–I only took one normal-sized serving of each item. Taking only one serving of  a holiday dinner is a big step forward for me. Diet Drop is about empowering ourselves to make healthier choices in order to lose weight by freeing ourselves of strict diet plans and supporting each other through friendship. I’ve described in previous posts (like this one) how our friendship has helped me immensely. Now, I feel like I’ve taken another baby-step forward in terms of making better eating choices. Maybe it seems silly to make such a big deal about only taking one serving. But, to me, it is a big deal.

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The Snack Monster

5 Apr

Late at night, when a hush falls over the city and the moon rises high in the sky, a throaty howling screech pierces the calm. Ripping, shredding, gnawing noises cause people to wake from their sleep, cats to arch and hiss, and the sirens of the police start blaring.

I wish I could say it was an attack. A single, isolated event in which I was the victim. But the  dark truth is that last night I was not mauled by a monster, I became the monster…the snack monster. Just past midnight, I felt my hair frizzing, my eyes widening, my stomach grumbling, and my mouth salivating for anything I could find that was salty or sweet.

The Snack Monster

Late last night, Michelle became...The Snack Monster! Illustration by Michelle.

 

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