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Monthly Archives: April 2010

I made a tapas style dinner the other night that I would like to share. I haven’t done one of these in quite awhile and it was fun to present the food on my favorite rectangle plate from Cost Plus. I get all my dishes there, by the way. That place is amazing. Anyways, I bought a box of French green lentils from the farmers market and after eating these, I will never go back to regular lentils. The difference? Well, French green lentils are supposedly the best of the best of lentils. They retain their shape very nicely even after cooking it forever, and they have a naturally buttery and nutty taste. Holy moly! Delicious.

From left to right: French green lentils bathed in a little bit of melted butter, roasted roma tomato topped with a hint of olive oil, sea salt, basil, and parmesan cheese, and oven roasted carrots glistening with a smidge of olive oil and sea salt. And now…the close-up shots.

On a side note, I have been incredibly busy at work lately. I have been taking my work home with me (tsk tsk such a bad habit) and working after dinner, too. UGH! This won’t last long, though. And it better not. My ass is going to get so big from sitting all freakin’ day and I’m going to go blind from all the pixel pushing I do. Anyway, to take a break from all the graphic design work I’m doing, I’ve been having lots of fun superimposing heads on bodies HAHAHA! Below are pics of my two friends and the men they are SOOOO in love with. The top picture features my friend, Jenn, and her crush, Bill Schulz (writer and panelist) from Red Eye on Fox News. The second picture is her sister and my other pal, Nicole, and her dream honey, Ian Somerhalder from LOST and Vampire Diaries. HAHAHA! Looks pretty real, doesn’t it? By the way, Nicole would really kill me if she found out I posted this. Eh, she doesn’t read my blog anyway 😉

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Time to get healthy! Ding ding ding! I spent $75 this week for Chris and I and stocked up on veggies, fruits, nuts, and more veggies from the farmers market. So what have I been eating and drinking?

Green juices! Lots of them! Daily! Cucumber, spinach, lemon, ginger, apple, and pear. God after a week of cheese and bread, I was LOVING my juice.

Salads galore! I have been adding avocado, hemp seeds, dulse, seaweed, walnuts, and even banana to mine.

Fruit! Here, pineapple chunks that I had for breakfast.

Smoothies. All day, everyday. Here is an avocado lime shake I made. Super easy and tasted just like key lime pie.

Asian inspired meals. I bought a big jar of kim chi, which isn’t exactly ideal to eat all the time since it’s quite salty but it adds so much spice and flavor to your dish. I’ve been eating alot of wakame seaweed and sauteed spinach, too. The plate above has squash that had been baked in the oven and in the dish right below, I added soba noodles to the mix. My only “dressing” is a couple dashes of Braggs Amino Acid, which tastes like soy sauce but is far superior.

So how have I been feeling? Seriously, I have been feeling GREAT. So much more energy, I’m not passing out super early, I am clear headed and focused at work, and I only need half a cup of coffee now. I really do believe in the power of green juices and eating raw and even though I fell off the wagon awhile ago, I’d really like to get back on and pursue a semi-raw lifestyle again. I say semi-raw because 100% raw is impossible for me and I wouldn’t want that. But 50% raw maybe? Now you’re talkin!

So my week’s challenge of eating food for only $5 a day + anything in the pantry is over and thank god. Unfortunately, in Los Angeles especially since it’s so expensive to live here, sometimes the cheapest foods are the unhealthiest. And even though I made a conscious effort last week not to buy junk food (like chips, frozen foods, sweets, etc), a week’s worth of bagels (whole grain, mind you), eggs, and cheese is enough to make anyone’s health plummet a little bit. My wallet may have thanked me last week but my digestion nor my energy did not! I was fatigued the whole time, my focus at work was fuzzy, I was yawning every two hours, and my skin was turning dry and flaky and a little pale. Not good. So what did I learn?

Of course, there is a learning lesson behind everything and making myself do this food challenge taught me to really think carefully about all my food purchases and what I spend my money on. It made me realize that the afternoon hot chocolate from across the street is absolutely unnecessary and the $15 salad with goat cheese from next door is absurd. I learned to plan carefully, not let anything go to waste, and monitor my mindless spending when it came to things like packs of $2.99 Juicy Fruit gum, $1.75 coffee at night, a cup of $4.95 gelato from the market….it adds up!

Anyways, as much as I’d like to only spend five measly dollars a day on food, my body was begging me to cleanse a little from all the dense foods I had been ingesting. Here is a little rundown on some of the things I’ve been noshing on. It’s soooo nice to be back on a healthy kick, by the way. I think I’m going to juice in the mornings for a little bit to get my organs back into gear, followed by my usual cup of joe (because I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a coffee addict and nothing will come between me and that little cup of steaming hot caffeine.) I’m going to try and go raw until dinner, too, but don’t be surprised if I sneak in some cooked foods every now and then for my nooner meal.

Before I go through a reel of my healthy foods this past week, let’s take a look at what I did with pantry items to save some money.

Ah, the good old tuna sandwich. I found a can of tuna in the pantry (zero dollars for me to spend) and had some Ezekiel bread in the freezer, which I toasted and then proceeded to cut off the edges. How elementary school of me, no? I melted string cheese (zero dollars yet again because we have a HUUUGE pack from Costco), some lettuce from the garden and paprika and chili powder.

FAGE greek yogurt is my favorite. I get a large container of 2% yogurt and it’s $4.99 a container, and it lasts me for a good four to five days. I found a really old ruby grapefruit in our fridge (I know, ewww…) but it was still good! No mold or defects. So I drizzled honey over the whole thing and called it a day.

Ha, this was my gourmet lunch. We always have sweet onions lying around so I sauteed a giant onion with some sundried tomatoes I found in our pantry in melted butter, olive oil, and garlic. Then, I pulled out some frozen fish from Costco (I HATE eating farm raised fish but then again, I was on a budget) and baked it in tin foil in olive oil, herbs, and spices. Mmmmm! Very tasty although the thought of ingesting farm raised fish really grossed me out the whole time. Farm raised is BAD! Unless you’re saving money and need to have fish, always go for fresh.

Mmmm pizza. I had frozen cornmeal pizza crust in the freezer from decades ago and poured a container of pesto sauce over it, then layered string cheese and red pepper flakes on top. Baked in the oven for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees. It came out super oily (what was I thinking with all that pesto) and the crust tasted stale. BLAH! That’s what I get for eating a thousand year old crust from the freezer!

So there you go. I may have saved some good money but my energy completely plummeted! Onto the healthy foods….

This challenge of living on $5 a day for food (but can use any pantry items already in the kitchen) is actually fun. It’s making me think twice about what I purchase at the grocery store and how to wisely use my food. It also makes me realize how MUCH I was spending on food for just one person! I checked my bank statement and in one day last week I spent $50!!! I grabbed a breakfast sandwich ($8), then I got an expensive chicken salad for lunch ($14) since I work in Pacific Palisades and everything there is pricey grrrr, and then I got a hot chocolate ($3) as a snack, and then for dinner I went to Whole Foods and blew $25 getting organic this and that for dinner. UGH!!! Shame on me. Oh well, live and learn, right?

I found this great article called “The 20 Healthiest Foods Under $1” by Brie Cadman on DivineCaroline.com but keep in mind that where you live and where you grocery shop really matters. Even though I am on a budget, I still make myself shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joes for their quality so I know some of the items below are definitely NOT under $1. But it’s a good guide so read on! I’m already planning next week’s grocery list, which will include lentils and some sort of reasonably priced meat so I can make a huge stew.

1. Oats
High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have also been shown to lower cholesterol. And they sure are cheap—a dollar will buy you more than a week’s worth of hearty breakfasts.

Serving suggestions: Sprinkle with nuts and fruit in the morning, make oatmeal cookies for dessert.

2. Eggs
You can get about a half dozen of eggs for a dollar, making them one of the cheapest and most versatile sources of protein. They are also a good source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may ward off age-related eye problems.

Serving suggestions: Huevos rancheros for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and frittatas for dinner.

3. Kale
This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium. Like most greens, it is usually a dollar a bunch.

Serving suggestions: Chop up some kale and add to your favorite stir-fry; try German-Style Kale or traditional Irish Colcannon.

4. Potatoes
Because we often see potatoes at their unhealthiest—as fries or chips—we don’t think of them as nutritious, but they definitely are. Eaten with the skin on, potatoes contain almost half a day’s worth of Vitamin C, and are a good source of potassium. If you opt for sweet potatoes or yams, you’ll also get a good wallop of beta carotene. Plus, they’re dirt cheap and have almost endless culinary possibilities.

Serving suggestions: In the a.m., try Easy Breakfast Potatoes; for lunch, make potato salad; for dinner, have them with sour cream and chives.

5. Apples
I’m fond of apples because they’re inexpensive, easy to find, come in portion-controlled packaging, and taste good. They are a good source of pectin—a fiber that may help reduce cholesterol—and they have the antioxidant Vitamin C, which keeps your blood vessels healthy.

Serving suggestions: Plain; as applesauce; or in baked goods like Pumpkin-Apple Breakfast Bread.

6. Nuts
Though nuts have a high fat content, they’re packed with the good-for-you fats—unsaturated and monounsaturated. They’re also good sources of essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, and protein. And because they’re so nutrient-dense, you only need to eat a little to get the nutritional benefits. Although some nuts, like pecans and macadamias, can be costly, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds, especially when bought in the shell, are low in cost.

Serving suggestions: Raw; roasted and salted; sprinkled in salads.

7. Bananas
At a local Trader Joe’s, I found bananas for about 19¢ apiece; a dollar gets you a banana a day for the workweek. High in potassium and fiber (9 grams for one), bananas are a no-brainer when it comes to eating your five a day quotient of fruits and veggies.

Serving suggestions: In smoothies, by themselves, in cereal and yogurt.

8. Garbanzo Beans
With beans, you’re getting your money’s worth and then some. Not only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but ’bonzos are also high in fiber, iron, folate, and manganese, and may help reduce cholesterol levels. And if you don’t like one type, try another—black, lima, lentils … the varieties are endless. Though they require soaking and cooking, the most inexpensive way to purchase these beans is in dried form; a precooked can will still only run you around a buck.

Serving suggestions: In salads, curries, and Orange Hummus.

9. Broccoli
Broccoli contains tons of nice nutrients—calcium, vitamins A and C, potassium, folate, and fiber. As if that isn’t enough, broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Plus, it’s low in calories and cost.

Serving suggestions: Throw it in salads, stir fries, or served as an accompaniment to meat in this Steamed Ginger Chicken with Asian Greens recipe.

10. Watermelon
Though you may not be able to buy an entire watermelon for a dollar, your per serving cost isn’t more than a few dimes. This summertime fruit is over 90 percent water, making it an easy way to hydrate, and gives a healthy does of Vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant that may ward off cancer.

Serving suggestions: Freeze chunks for popsicles; eat straight from the rind; squeeze to make watermelon margaritas (may negate the hydrating effect!).

11. Wild Rice
It won’t cost you much more than white rice, but wild rice is much better for you. Low in fat and high in protein and fiber, this gluten-free rice is a great source of complex carbohydrates. It packs a powerful potassium punch and is loaded with B vitamins. Plus, it has a nutty, robust flavor.

Serving suggestions: Mix with nuts and veggies for a cold rice salad; blend with brown rice for a side dish.

12. Beets
Beets are my kind of vegetable—their natural sugars make them sweet to the palate while their rich flavor and color make them nutritious for the body. They’re powerhouses of folate, iron, and antioxidants.

Serving suggestions: Shred into salads, slice with goat cheese. If you buy your beets with the greens on, you can braise them in olive oil like you would other greens.

13. Butternut Squash
This beautiful gourd swings both ways: sometimes savory, sometimes sweet. However you prepare the butternut, it will not only add color and texture, but also five grams of fiber per half cup and chunks and chunks of Vitamin A and C. When in season, butternut squash and related gourds are usually less than a dollar a pound.

Serving suggestions: Try Pear and Squash Bruschetta; cook and dot with butter and salt.

14. Whole Grain Pasta
In the days of Atkins, pasta was wrongly convicted, for there is nothing harmful about a complex carbohydrate source that is high in protein and B vitamins. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest staples you can buy.

Serving suggestions: Mix clams and white wine with linguine; top orzo with tomatoes and garlic; eat coldFarfalle Salad on a picnic.

15. Sardines
As a kid, I used to hate it when my dad would order sardines on our communal pizzas, but since then I’ve acquired a taste for them. Because not everyone has, you can still get a can of sardines for relatively cheap. And the little fish come with big benefits: calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins. And, because they’re low on the food chain, they don’t accumulate mercury.

Serving suggestions: Mash them with parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil for a spread; eat them plain on crackers; enjoy as a pizza topping (adults only).

16. Spinach
Spinach is perhaps one of the best green leafies out there—it has lots of Vitamin C, iron, and trace minerals. Plus, you can usually find it year round for less than a dollar.

Serving suggestions: Sautéed with eggs, as a salad, or a Spinach Frittata.

17. Tofu
Not just for vegetarians anymore, tofu is an inexpensive protein source that can be used in both savory and sweet recipes. It’s high in B vitamins and iron, but low in fat and sodium, making it a healthful addition to many dishes.

Serving suggestions: Use silken varieties in Tofu Cheesecake; add to smoothies for a protein boost; cube and marinate for barbecue kebobs.

18. Lowfat Milk
Yes, the price of a gallon of milk is rising, but per serving, it’s still under a dollar; single serving milk products, like yogurt, are usually less than a dollar, too. Plus, you’ll get a lot of benefit for a small investment. Milk is rich in protein, vitamins A and D, potassium, and niacin, and is one of the easiest ways to get bone-strengthening calcium.

Serving suggestions: In smoothies, hot chocolate, or coffee; milk products like low fat cottage cheese and yogurt.

19. Pumpkin Seeds
When it’s time to carve your pumpkin this October, don’t shovel those seeds into the trash—they’re a goldmine of magnesium, protein, and trace minerals. Plus, they come free with the purchase of a pumpkin.

Serving suggestions: Salt, roast, and eat plain; toss in salads.

20. Coffee
The old cup-o-joe has been thrown on the stands for many a corporeal crime—heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis—but exonerated on all counts. In fact, coffee, which is derived from a bean, contains beneficial antioxidants that protect against free radicals and may actually help thwart heart disease and cancer. While it’s not going to fill you up like the other items on this list, it might make you a lot perkier. When made at home, coffee runs less than 50¢ cents a cup.

Serving suggestions
: Just drink it.

Although that bag of 99¢ Cheetos may look like a bargain, knowing that you’re not getting much in the way of nutrition or sustenance makes it seem less like a deal and more like a dupe. Choosing one of these twenty items, or the countless number of similarly nutritious ones, might just stretch that dollar from a snack into a meal.

One of our favorite things at the house is the hot tub. After a long day at work, muscles aching, brain fried, it’s just nice to sit back in a giant vat of scalding hot water with power jets against your back. Kihei is digging the hot tub cover just like Guido…during a warm day, the cover gets nice and hot and I think the dogs like to lay there and nap.

This is the first weekend I did NOT shop for special groceries for our Saturday and Sunday night dinner. WHOA! That’s a first but one of my many attempts at saving some money. Instead, we raided the pantry and did what we could with random things lying around the fridge. I think I created an awesome dish that fuses both Mexican and Asian cuisine…I’m going to call it “Sexy Mexy”: leftover carne asada meat from a previous taco bar BBQ party re-sauteed in butter, olive oil and garlic +  yellow noodles from the chinese grocer in Chinatown + Braggs Amino Acid + sesame oil. This was for Chris…

I had the same noodles but topped with a fried egg and soaked hikiji seaweed, then doused with Braggs Amino Acid. MMMMMM!!!

Then, after dinner I pre-made my lunch for the next day: more noodles (hey, it’s cheap!), edamame beans from the freezer, more seaweed, macadamia nut oil and Braggs Amino Acid. So delicious (I sneaked in a little taste while I was tossing the whole dish….yummmmm!)

I also grabbed some fresh kale from our garden because I wanted something salty but healthier than potato chips. Ah ha! Kale chips!! I’ve tried them before and they are so good and packed with flavor and nutrients. It’s so easy to make, too: wash a bunch of kale, chop the leaves off the stems and discard the stems, massage with olive oil and some sea salt, and then bake for 15 minutes. Enjoy!!

Alot has been going on lately so I’ve been too busy to post (yet again!)

Here’s a scene from work…clothes, models, photo shoots galore! Hectic work schedule this week, like, 12 hour days.

We have an amazing rose bush next to the side of the house and it’s blooming like crazy. I picked a couple roses and placed them on my favorite little table from Culver City’s HD Buttercup in glass bowls to add some color to the living room. I love free flowers!

I feel bad saying this on a food blog but Kihei has worms 😦 She has already been de-wormed twice and still has them. Vet said she just has a major infestation of roundworms so she’s been looking a little skinny since all her nutrients are getting sucked out of her. I feel so bad for the little pup but she’s as cute as ever.

Hmmm…how do I get her into the Marley & Me sequel??

We got hibiscus today from Home Depot and planted them in giant terracotta pots. Aren’t they pretty?

Oh! So my new challenge….yeah, I’m trying to save money BIG TIME right now. I’ve decided to spend $25 for the work week and make that last me all five days for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. Tough, right? I went and bought bagels, eggs, cheese, soy milk (for oatmeal) and a big tub of FAGE yogurt. I have some pantry staples like walnuts and raisins that will add flavor to the yogurt so that can work as breakfast and snacks. I’m most likely going to be eating breakfast sandwiches for my lunches and possibly dinners ha. Here’s one from this morning: two scrambled organic eggs, one slice of monterey jack cheese, and half an Alvarado Street Bakery sprouted wheat bagel toasted.

Speaking of saving money, I had a dinner the other night out of some pantry items: edamame, seaweed, and Braggs Amino Acid. YUM!

I think I want to start a new blog called “101 Breakfast for My Boyfriend” lol. Lately, my obsession is making breakfast for Chris and then snapping pictures of them. I think I’m obsessed with doing this because I never eat any of the food I make for him. Guys can get away with eating buttery eggs, greasy meat, and a load of carbs and not gain weight it seems like. Me? Not so much…Here are a couple of breakies I’ve been making for Chris. I love the new canvas I’m using to display the food. It’s the beautiful reclaimed teak dining table we bought 🙂

Scrambled organic eggs with spicy sausage and topped with burrata cheese, served alongside warm tortillas.

Scrambled eggs and chorizo, served alongside more tortillas.

Scrambled eggs with leftover steak, served alongside toasted rye bread.

I call this “The Eyes Have It” because the eggs look like eyes, no? I found these interesting little “pizzas” from the local farmers market. They are thin crusts topped with a layer of meat and sauce. The package comes frozen but I heated two slices up and topped each with cheese and a sunny side up egg.

Mmmm….Giada de Laurenttis’ “Pizza di Spaghetti“. This is seriously my favorite way to use leftover spaghetti.