Wednesday, August 25, 2010


To all of my reader (ahem), I apologize for my lack of posts as I have been on vacation. A wonderful, relaxing, food filled trip to my beloved Maine: where lobster throw themselves onto your plate ready to be cracked and dipped into butter. A full report to follow!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Beet It!

Amy is a beet fanatic. Really, she loves the things. So, because of that, I try to find a lot of ways to prepare them. Let's call them "brownie points." We've enjoyed them in many ways (see post #1), but our absolute favorite has to be with goat cheese and oranges.

I've made this recipe a bunch of different ways, but tonight I decided to make a quick vinaigrette and throw everything onto a bed of greens. After roasting the beets all afternoon, ok, actually I bought them precooked from Trader, after opening the package, I diced them small and put them in a bowl with a little of the vinaigrette I made using orange juice, a little beet juice, and canola oil. Tossed in some segmented orange that I diced and then added crumbled goat cheese. Remember, a little goes a long way with goat cheese......An 1/8 -1/4 cup is fine for one orange and 6 medium beets. Little salt and pepper and set it aside while I prepared the greens.

Greens went into the BAB (big ass bowl...see last post) with vinaigrette to taste and then to the platter where they were united with the purple (and orange) goodness. Very simple, very easy and VERY delicious!

Tomorrow, Bean Supper!

Friday, August 6, 2010

"The bowl"

Where would I be this week without "the bowl"? It is silver, dented and VERY large. Oh, and I found it on the side of the road. Don't worry, it wasn't garbage, but it was in a pile of things marked "free" in some one's driveway. When we found it, Amy exclaimed that I would never use it, but I have and I do and I will there.

"The bowl" is what I use to help save us from, what is quite possibly the biggest caloric issue with salads today, the salad dressing. In general, there is not a lot of nutritional value in salad dressing, but they taste SO good. Not to mention, who wants salad without dressing? Rabbits?

I've learned 2 things about salad:

1) Salad still tastes good and sometimes better with less salad dressing, but the key is to make sure every ounce is covered. Grab a bowl and put all of your ingredients in it. Add a little dressing, then use your hands (or spoon) and mix until your ingredients are all covered. Taste it. If it's not enough, add some more.

2) Don't be afraid to make your own salad dressing. It's easy! No, really. Do you have a bowl? Do you have a whisk? Oil? Vinegar of some kind? The best way to cut calories in any food is to cut the oil from its preparation, so make your own and decide how much you like. The standard equation for a vinaigrette is 2 parts oil (1 tablespoon equals 100 calories) to 1 part vinegar (1 tablespoon equals 20 calories), but I really prefer more of a 1:1 ratio......saves me 100 calories in my dressing alone. Put the vinegar in a separate bowl from your ingredients. Add anything else you like (spices, 1 tsp mustard, maple syrup) and slowly add your oil while you whisk. Tada!

Now, go out and find your really big bowl!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Basic Math

That's what makes Salad Week so productive, so simple, so...awesome. For today's word problem, let's tackle Jicama Pineapple Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette (as adapted from Bon Appetit Cookbook).

Cilantro Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (100 calories/tablespoon x3 tablespoons=300 cal)
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (3 calories/tablespoon x3 tablespoons=9 cal)
1 small shallot, minced (free)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (1 calorie)
1/4 tsp cumin (free)

Jicama Pineapple Salad:
1 small Jicama cut matchbook sized (140 calories)
1 1/2 cups cubed pineapple (78 calories/cup x1.5 cups=117 calories)
3 ounces salad greens (15 calories) (Yes, REALLY.)

Combine salad ingredients in large bowl, toss with vinaigrette to taste.
Serves 2 entree portions.

Okay, here comes the math. If you're following at home, that comes to a grand total of 582 calories. Or 291 calories per person. If you use the whole vinaigrette and lick the plate. I used 3/4 of the vinaigrette which takes the total per person down to 254 calories. If you round up. That's what makes Salad Week work. Three ounces of salad greens (do you know how much that is??? You're exhausted from greens before you run out of available food) for 15 calories. A satisfying salad with good flavor, texture, and plenty of calories left over for dessert.* Yum, dessert.
*We have been eating on a roughly 300 calorie breakfast/ 300 calorie lunch/ 500 calorie dinner plan with 2 x200 calorie snacks and 100 calories of dessert daily= 1600 calories. It worked both before we worked out and since we've started exercising regularly. This is referred to in future posts as the 3/3/5 plan.

What's on your kitchen counter?

Amy and I had a moment today that could only be explained with a picture. So, what's on your kitchen counter?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Feeling blue......

The market behind my house is a godsend. It allows me to decide what I'm going to make for dinner completely at the last minute.....which is what I do.....almost every day. When I don't have a market in my backyard, I screw-ed.

So, I head through the yard with my 3 year old and 1 year old in tow and have to make the first of many important decisions: which shopping cart? You see, our market has MANY different choices and they all elicit different responses.

The "wagon" is a favorite, but doesn't hold much food and the two kids end up bashing poor old women in the legs with it. The "regular" cart, well, it's just not fun at all. The last cart is the mini kid sized cart. Let's just say we imposed a McBee family ban on these types of carts.......before the market banned my children altogether. Apparently, sharing is not an option.

BUT! What's this? Someone has left two oversized car carts outside of the market. You know, the ones where the car (or fire truck, or police car) is attached to the front, they seat two kids, have steering wheels, seat two kids, have seat belts, and did I mention, it seats two kids. Who cares that the market has REALLY small aisles and that this monstrosity is impossible to turn with both kids in seats two kids!!

This shopping trip was glorious. I almost forgot that I had brought the kids. I quickly maneuvered my way through the store picking up ingredients for Cobb Salad with Green Goddess dressing. Parsley, tarragon, green onion and garlic from produce, chicken cutlets from the butcher and lastly, the biggest piece of blue cheese you have ever seen. Seriously. I love my market, but it is small and while they do have most things I need, they don't always have a lot of choices. So, need 1 oz of blue cheese equals buy 12 ozs. Let me know, I'll mail you some.

So, Salad Week Day 1 is ready to go. And what better salad to kick off Salad Week than our favorite? This Cobb Salad is low cal (approximately 453 calories for a pretty darn big salad, including dressing) and fantastic. It has flavor, texture, and lots of food which makes it very satisfying as a first salad for the week. You don't leave wanting more.

Without further ado, Cobb Salad with Green Goddess Dressing!
(modified from Cooking Light 20 salads in 20 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1/8 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • SALAD:
  • 8 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 2 tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges (about 1 pound)
  • 2 hard-cooked large eggs, each cut into 4 wedges
  • 1/2 cup diced peeled avocado
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese


To prepare dressing, place first 10 ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Chill.

To prepare salad, place 4 cups lettuce mixture on each plate. Arrange 6 tablespoons chicken, 4 tomato wedges, 2 egg wedges, 2 tablespoons avocado, and 1 tablespoon cheese over each serving. Serve each salad with 1/4 cup dressing.

Serving size: 2 (453 calories per)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Salad Week

Welcome to Salad Week!

You may ask "What the heck is Salad Week?" First, thanks for asking. Second, Salad Week is what my wife, Amy, and I use to kick start better eating in our house.

Here's the short version of our story. We are yo-yos. In the 14 years we have been together, our weight has, let's say, fluctuated. So, after our second child was born, my wife and I started thinking a little more about what we were eating. After 6 months, she hit a plateau and wanted to do something about it. She asked for my help and Salad Week was born.

Stay Tuned!

Peachy keen

A bag of peaches. That's what I brought home from the farmer's market last week and I had no idea what to do with them. They looked great, but there were a TON of them and they were REALLY ripe....I mean, two handed, juicy faced, two paper toweled, ripe.

So, as the fruit flies started making a plan about how they were going to invade, I quickly decided on a chilled peach soup from a Whole Foods recipe. Verdict: Amazing. Just ask my wife.

Chilled Peach Soup Recipe (adapted from Whole Foods)

8 peaches
2 cups water
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup honey
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Mint sprigs


Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cut a small “X” through the bottom of each peach, then drop them into the water to blanch for 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer peaches to a bowl of ice water. When peaches are cooled, drain well then peel them, starting from the “X” at the bottom of each peach. Discard skin and pits and transfer peaches to a blender.

Add water, apple juice, honey, lime zest and juice, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Serves 6 to 8 (Serving size: just over 1/2 cup (90 calories per)