What I’m Eating These Days

First off, thanks for all your awesome comments and suggestions on yesterday’s, er, mildly uncomfortable post. I really appreciate how helpful you all are, and will definitely be implementing some of these strategies!

So with all my proclamations about how I’m changing up my diet and whatnot for my renewed weight loss, I imagine there be at least one or two of you out there who are curious as to what kind of stuff I’ve been eating lately. No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway, so tough cookies. (Spoiler alert: cookies are, sadly, not something I’ve been eating.)

As a refresher, I’m embracing more protein and fats in my diet, and trying to actively reduce the number of refined carbs and excess sugar I consume. I’m certainly not carb-free or any such nonsense, and I allow myself the lenience to follow my cravings/not deprive myself (within reason). So when my future sister-in-law baked up a batch of awesome blueberry breakfast muffins, OBVIOUSLY I partook. I just slathered some coconut oil on it first. Thus far, I’m finding that aside from the issue I discussed (a little too openly) yesterday, I’m actually feeling pretty good. My periods of satiety are longer, so I’m actually not eating as frequently, and, as you guys know, I’ve lost over four pounds in the past month (which, granted, isn’t a rocketship pace, but considering how badly things were going for my weight loss before, I am pretty ecstatic).

Now because I’ve been absolutely heinous about taking pictures of my food lately as well (WHAT KIND OF BLOGGER AM I!?!), so you might be seeing a few repeat pictures here. But they illustrate the right kind of things, and primarily I’ll be painting you a picture with my words anyway. So, it’s cool. ‘Cause I’m, like, a writer. Kinda.

Anyway! A typical day of eats in my life these days, subject to frequent changes and falling-off-the-wagon… but it’s all about the effort, right? Heh.

Okay, breakfasts. This has really been the biggest overhaul, since most of my experience with breakfasts come in the form of cereal and/or bagels, neither of which fit into the new parameters of my diet. So typically, I’m having something like smoked salmon & cream cheese roll ups, or high-protein toast with half a mashed avocado and an egg patty on top. Both of these are delicious, fairly portable, and really (REALLY) satiating. I usually have some fruit, too–a pear, apple, or some grapes. f I’ve premade breakfasts earlier in the week, like my smoked salmon eggs cups, I can just heat those up and get going. If I have the time to actually sit down and eat breakfast instead of being in the car and cramming bites into my mouth between stoplights, I might do up some eggs and bacon.

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I’ve been finding these breakfasts keep me seriously full until lunchtime, so I’ve eliminated my need for mid-morning snacks. Which is good, because these breakfasts are higher in calories than, say, a bowl of Special K Red Berries with almond milk. But obviously it all works out!

Okay, so lunch–if I’ve been good about packing my lunch–generally is either dinner leftovers from the night before (which is the best when I’ve had STEAK FOR DINNER AHAHAHA), or strange little ensemble tasting plates. I’ve gotten REALLY into just like, a ton of different snacks, combined into lunch, lately. So, things like baby carrots and celery with hummus or sunbutter, a few slices of aged cheddar, grapes, lunch meat roll-ups, any leftover chicken/steak I might have, a Babybel cheese wheel, a hardboiled egg… etc, etc, etc. It’s fun, because it allows me a lot of variety in my lunches, and easy, because you can just store everything separately in the fridge, and grab whatevery you’re vibing on that morning.

Of course, I fall victim to the laziness of not packing/forgetting my lunch more often than is probably good, at which point I really have to steel myself against all the awesomeness that the food trucks bring to the area where I work on a daily basis. I mean, yes, there is a mac and cheese truck… and a grilled cheese truck… and lots of pho trucks… and an empanada truck… okay, I need to stop. Anyway, I often talk about how I don’t feel you have to give up going out for dinner or trying new restaurants (two of my favorite things) in order to lose weight, and buying lunch is no different. It’s just about finding something that fits. There are places nearby that offer great salad options, there’s a sushi truck, and tons of halal trucks that offer awesome meats served over salad, with chickpeas or spinach on the side. Om nom nom. Can you blame me for occasionally forgetting my lunch at home?

Aaaand, dinner. This is really the wildest card. I have dinner at my parents’ house once a week, and still tend to eat out quite a bit. But when it comes to cooking (if I’ve been good about grocery shopping) a lot of the time it’ll be something like marinated baked chicken or grilled steak with veggies (green beans, aparagus, brussels sprouts cooked in olive or coconut oil) and probably a salad on the side. If I’m feeling fancy, there might be shrimp or scallops involved, hehe. And there might also be some rice if I’m having dinner with Sean (he’s a rice man through and through, and I don’t say that because he’s half-Asian, I say it because I literally think if rice were the only food left on the planet, he would still be a very happy guy).


Half of this gorgeous filet would go on to become part of my lunch the next day.

Of course, as mentioned above, we still eat out kind a lot. I’m trying to be better about only eating out on the weekends, though it really is something I enjoy, so it’s tough. But from both a health- and monetary-standpoint, I know it’s something I need to work on. All that said, I just want to reemphasize the part about how it is still possible to eat healthy/in line with your current dietary preferences even at a restaurant. It’s just all about making certain choices, and not being afraid to ask about possible substitutions and whatnot.

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Scallops, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower from Clyde’s

Okay! So there we go! This ended up being a much wordier post than I was anticipating, so I’ll cut myself off here. Feel free to weigh in with any comments you may have about my current eats–I really value the insight that I glean from you guys. Plus, I know that someone out there has to have an opinion of some kind. 😉

What do your daily eats look like these days?

Duck, Duck, Goose?

My mom was in Houston visiting my super preggo sister, my aunt, and my grandmother last week, and returned on Tuesday. To celebrate her return (before she goes right back in a couple of weeks, haha) my parents took my brother, Taylor, Sean, and I all out to dinner at Lotus Garden, a Chinese restaurant in Vienna.

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As we always tend to do when we go to Chinese restaurants, we leave the ordering to the expert (my fittingly Chinese mama). She rustled up some peking duck, lamb, seafood stirfry, kung pow chicken & shrimp, and a veggie dish made with morning glory (?), and it was all delicious. Especially the duck. Because peking duck is the bomb diggity.

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Even if it wasn’t quite as good as it is at the Peking Gourmet Inn. But, of course, what is?

Unnnnfortunately, the duck is the only thing that I actually managed to get a picture of, because I just plum forgot to take photos of anything else before it was all demolished.

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Blogger fail. Oh well, at least you can take my word that it was tasty stuff! (Though never as good as my mom’s home cooking, I say suck-uppily.) 😉

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The proof is in the pudding empty plate.

Peking duck is probably one of my all-time favorite specialty dishes–out of any kind of ethnic cuisine! Granted, I may be at least 50% biased due to my genetics, but surprisingly enough, I actually tend not to eat a ton of Chinese food unless I’m at my parent’s house. Probably due to the fact that I grew up eating so much of it? I dunno. But when I’m craving ethnic food, I tend to go for Thai or Indian instead. But offer me a chance at some peking duck, and pad thai and palak paneer might as well not even exist.

What’s your favorite kind of ethnic cuisine? Your favorite dish?

Founding Farmers, Take 2

Happy President’s Day, everyone! I’ve got the day off, and thus have sworn to high heaven that I’ll be making use of my holiday by writing (we’ll see how well that goes), but for those of you who are stuck dredging away the day in the office, I’ve got some mouth-watering photos for ya.

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I had dinner with my good friend Lauren from Oatmeal After Spinning, and my new friend Kelly from Kelly Fiore Writes on Saturday! Lauren and Kelly are best friends from high school, and while I’ve known Lauren for a while thanks to the mad and lovable world of blogging, I got to meet Kelly for the first time last weekend (at the Frederick Restaurant Week sneak peek).

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We dragged our significant others out to dinner to belated celebrate Lauren’s birthday, and to celebrate Kelly’s husband’s birthday. While I was obviously super excited to get to hang out with these lovely ladies (and their equally lovely husbands), I was admittedly a little hesitant as well. See, our dinner destination was the Montgomery County location of Founding Farmers, and some of you may already know that I had a pretty miserable experience at the original Founding Farmers in DC a couple years back. So even though I knew this was an entirely different location, I was still a little bit unsure of how the experience would go.

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Well, I’m happy to report that things went MUCH better this time around! It wasn’t an impeccable dining experience, service-wise, but it was like 10,000 steps up from what I experienced before. And since the food was indeed delicious, and the company was perfect, overall I really did end up having a great time. I started with a glass of Willamette Valley pinot noir (the best!) and we all shared a few of the small plate appetizers from FF’s extensive farm-to-table menu. (Seriously, I spent like 15 straight minutes poring over the menu–so many options that ALL appealed to me!)

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The selection of apps included housemade ranch popcorn, bread and dips (including this garlicky green goddess dip that I wanted to spoon directly into my mouth), and spicy pickled carrots. Lauren also ended up getting a thing of skillet corn bread with her meal, which ended up being my favorite thing on the table. Lots of real pieces of corn, and an epic honey butter (which was literally butter and honey combined in one little condiment cup, haha)… mmm, I’m drooling just thinking about it. Regretting not having snagged a picture.

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For my meal, I started out with a sample sized Farmer’s Salad, which included romaine, avocado, figs, cherry tomatoes, grapes, slivered almonds, olives, and a bit of parmesan cheese. Yum.

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Then, for my entree, I ordered the Lemon Meunière Diver Scallops, which were delicious. I loooove scallops, so it’s pretty hard to screw them up for me, and these were garlicky and lemony and cooked very well.

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They were served with a butternut squash risotto in the middle, which ended up only being okay for me. While I loved the concept of the butternut squash in the risotto, there was just something off about the flavor–it had kind of a bitter aftertaste that I wasn’t expecting. Still, overall I enjoyed my plate a lot. And I also enjoyed the bites from Sean’s steak and enchilada dish that I stole, hehehe. Ultimately it was an awesome dinner out with friends, and certainly helped redeem Founding Farmers in my eyes–at least at the Maryland location.

Now I’m off to write! And if you’ll allow me just one li’l shameless plug before we part ways here, I do have a fun announcement: My book, Terra is currently on sale!!

Pick up a digital copy for your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or iPad/iPhone for just $3.99. Happy President’s Day!

Twinsies

You know that person? That one friend who is so eerily similar to you, it’s a little bit frightening? I like to think that most people have someone like that in their lives. And for me, that person is my good friend Aileen.

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Our friendship story has either been in the works for a very long time, or it’s still pretty new–I can’t really decide which. In the grand scheme of life, we haven’t actually known each other that long, but I think we all know that time isn’t everything. Aileen is the sister of Joanna, my freshman year college roommate. I’d heard about this mystery sister quite a bit that year, but we didn’t actually meet until many years later. Joanna and I reconnected after we graduated from college (go Dukes!) due to the amazingness that is social media, and it was at this point that I connected with Aileen as well.

And thank goodness for that.

See, Aileen and I are basically twins. Which hopefully Joanna won’t get mad at me for saying, since she and Aileen are ACTUAL twins. Like, born-60-seconds-apart, shared-the-same-womb twins. (…as opposed to the other kind? Hahahahaha.) But there is just so MUCH that Aileen and I share: a tendency to stray toward the melodramatic, lifelong battles with the neuroses that actually make us totally awesome and super good listmakers, and a deep, unyielding love of Harry Potter, cheese, and American Musical Theatre. Oh yeah, and there’s this:

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That’s right, in case you hadn’t already pieced it together from the numerous mentions I’ve made of her before, Aileen is my glorious, patient, wonderful book editor as well. In fact, check out this interview article where Aileen talks about what the painstaking editing process for Terra was like, or her own blog post on it!

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Aileen has been such a HUGELY integral part of Terra being as awesome and kickass as it is (in my, y’know, totally unbiased opinion, hahaha), and last night we finally got to celebrate the book’s launch together… and in the best possible way. With a homemade meal, mini bottles of champagne, and pumpkin-spice rice krispie ball pops (!!) that Aileen brought over.

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Being the good sport that she is, she happily (?) helped make my garlicky dreams come true by helping me whip up my delectable Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic recipe.

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We also had roasted Brussels sprouts (uh, duh) and I found this particularly huge B-sprouts stalk at the grocery store… which reminded me that while it really does look cool, but it’s such an extra pain in the patooty. Which I guess is why I’m lucky that Aileen was willing to shuck the stalk, hahahaha.

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Aaaanyway, the two of us got down to business in the kitchen, chopping and dicing and drinking champagne–as all truly great chefs do, I’m sure–whilst simultaneously taaaaalkingtalkingtalkingtalkingtalking because we’re really, really good at that.

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Also, we peeled so much garlic that my hands still smell like garlic as I type this. I keep vacillating between whether that’s a good or bad thing.

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PEEL ALL THE GARLIC.

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Ultimately, garlicky-fingers or not, we ended up with a feast fit for kings. Er, queens. Er, modern day self-proclaimed princesses. We also made the recipe for Celebrations Quinoa with Dried Cranberries and Spiced Pecans that was served at Anne’s wedding.

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I have been sitting on this recipe since Anne sent it to me and now I do not even understand why I waited. It. Was. Phenomenal. Seriously, make it, make it now. SO easy and SO delicious. I don’t even love quinoa that much, and I’m still saying it.

ANYWAY. Basically, it was kind of a perfect Tuesday evening. Which is actually awesome, because I make no attempts to hide my general hatred for Tuesdays. They are typically the very worst day of the week, after all. But not this one! There was delicious homemade food, booze, baked goods, and my amazing friend. Also, schnauzers in Christmas sweaters. Win-win-win…win.

(Also, I know I linked to it way at the top, but it bears mentioning again that Aileen’s blog, Army Pants and Flip Flops, is amazing. It’s seriously fracking funny, and you should read it. Her writing is legitimately laugh-out-loud hilarious and there are many, many, MANY references to cheese. And Harry Potter. And basically all things awesome. Okay, I’m done now.)

Happy Wednesday! My sister flies into town tonight and is going to be here through Christmas, and I’m SO EXCITED!! And scared, because I haven’t seen her in over a month and I really have no idea what to expect with regard to her super-preggo-baby-belly situation. If you feel like winning a bet tonight, I suggest you put money down on me crying.

POPs

Before I get into my little weekend recap post, I just wanted to take a second to pay homage to the tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, CT. I would feel like an a-hole if I said absolutely nothing, but, of course, there’s really nothing I can say. It’s a horrific tragedy, and I just… there are simply no words. Anyway, I’m not trying to be a downer, I just think that a tragedy of this magnitude deserves acknowledgement and, of course, remembrance. Not for the monster that did this, but to commemorate and celebrate the lives that were taken.

Okay. So. Now to pluck myself out of the doldrums again, very awkwardly and non sequitur…ly. Eeeeyeah.

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Thanks to my book release as well as the birth of one pretty neat older brother, this weekend was full of little celebrations. Friday night, my boyfriend Sean took me on a date to my beloved Sweetwater Tavern to celebrate the book, then Saturday we had a birthday potluck in honor of Ben’s 29th birthday at the house! Sadly, I took absolutely zero photos of either event. Womp womp fail.

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What I *did* take photos of was Sunday’s excursion. Also, many vain outfit shots. Heh. My whole family gathered together to go see the National Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday POPs concert at the Kennedy Center! Naturally, I found this the perfect excuse to bust out one of my Oh-em-gee-this-dress-is-only-$9-but-when-am-I-ever-going-to-wear-it purchases from when I decimated the Leesburg Outlets with my friend Holly back in October.

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I love a good reason to get dressed up! We had dinner at the Terrace Restaurant in the Kennedy Center before the show, which was delicious and extravagant.

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I started with a salad that had bibb lettuce, blue cheese, candied cashews, apples, and an apple vinaigrette (and helped myself to not a small amount of Sean’s seafood chowder, hahaha). I got the mussels & frites for my entree, which was actually listed as an appetizer so I got an OBSCENE amount of mussels. Not that I’m complaining. But yeah, literally, I had a cauldron full of mussels. Om nom nom.

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Then it was time for the show! The concert itself was wonderful. It was a lot more jazzy than I expected — the NSO collaborated with an a cappella quartet called “New York Voices” and the result was a lot of complex harmonies and jazz interpretations of our favorite traditional holiday tunes.

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Okay, fine, it was mostly Christmas tunes (they even had Santa come out at the end, haha), but they DID play one non-Christmas song (O, Chanukah) so I guess that’s what makes it a “Holiday” concert, hahaha. Either way, it was super enjoyable, very impressive, and really got my holiday gears cranking (’cause… you know… I have such a difficult time getting excited for Christmas… lololol). GUYS. THIS IS THE LAST WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS WEEK. AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!

What’s your favorite thing about the holiday season? You know, pre-actual Christmas, what’s your favorite thing about this Decemberiffic time? The decorations, the baked goods constantly available, the tacky sweater parties…?

PS: Quick note. Just in case any of you are looking for me on Twitter moving forward, I’ve updated my handle to @gretchenpowell!