Nutritional bang for your buck

I adore breakfast food.  All of it: eggs, carbs dripping with butter and syrup, processed meats, everything.breakyBut, I absolutely cannot face the thought of bellying up to the breakfast bar the moment I roll out of bed.  It makes me queasy to even think of food then.  I think my stomach wakes up much slower than the rest of me.

So often my breakfast is almost at lunch time.

In the spirit of total honesty, I have to confess though that some days I fall far short of nutritional excellence and my meal is sorely lacking.  But frozen yogurt and lattes both have calcium.  Right?  Right?

It’s an inconvenient bit of truth, but even though two foods might, on paper, have the same amount of calories, in reality they don’t.Think about it.  Say you drink a 200 hundred calorie latte.  Although you get a tiny bump of calcium, it really is nutritionally empty and your body can digest it in mere minutes.

But say that instead you have 200 calories of oatmeal made with skim milk, and studded with dried fruit and nuts.

Just off the top your body has to work much harder and longer to digest this meal.  It also contains complex carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.  It fuels your body, and you will feel full for hours.  Full enough to walk right past that vending machine.So, this week I have some suggestions for quick meals that will fill you up, be better for you, will be much more satisfying, and make you feel much more virtuous.

Quick, homemade meals:

Hot cereal- Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, grits, or even something like hot Grape Nuts are all terrific.  You can make them sweet with additions like honey or maple syrup, then stir in nuts, seeds, and fresh or dried fruit.  Also don’t be afraid to add things like cocoa powder, vanilla and spices.

But hot cereal is also very tasty when you go in a savory direction.  Try topping it with things like caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes.  Nuts work well here too.  Then you can perk it up even more with hot sauce, cheese, horseradish, and herbs.  Maybe top it off with a poached egg.Toasts and sandwiches:

First, get rid of that spongy white bread-like substance that they sell in plastic bags.  Then get to know multigrain.  The labels can be confusing, and manufacturers can be deceptive, so either buy it at a bakery so that you can talk to the baker and learn how it was made, or purchase products that say “100% whole grain”.

You can fill that healthy platform with anything that tickles your fancy.  Smashed avocado, scrambled egg, peanut butter and sliced apple, even a grilled cheese that you stuffed with some tomato and fresh greens.  How about tuna mixed with hummus?

Smoothies: Buy various frozen fruits, leafy greens, and maybe some low fat Greek yogurt. Throw different combos into your blender until you find a recipe that you like.

Store-bought, but pretty healthy:

Tacos:  Gosh, I love the fact that tacos can be on this list.

Yes, tacos can be fatty, nutritional nightmares.  But done right, they can be downright good for you.  Leave off the cheese and sour cream—dress with salsas only.  Then fill with grilled or roasted meat, and raw veggies.  I wouldn’t go for more than two for lunch though, no matter how tasty they may be.

At the deli:  Clear soups and lightly dressed salads are both good choices.

In addition, sandwiches can be a wise choice as long as it’s on whole-grain bread or wraps.  Grilled meat is better than cold cuts.  Raw veggies can be eaten with impunity.  And everybody knows that regular mayo isn’t great.  But be careful with mustard, too.  Some are chock full of sodium and/or fat.

The biggest thing to remember when eating out is to watch that serving size.  At most places, a single serving is enough for two—meals or people.  Either take home half in a doggy-bag or think about possibly ordering the child’s size.So, become mindful of what you put inside your body.  That way, you can have that second cookie before bed.

Thanks for your time.


Random stuff I discovered and wrote down in 2015 Part 3

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been relating excerpts of a food log that I kept throughout 2015.  This week will conclude with September through December.

September 14th– The Kid and I braved rush hour traffic and drove over to Cary this afternoon, and finally visited La Farm Bakery (4248 NW Cary Pkwy).

The reason we made the journey is because I really love to go by their stand and grab a loaf of sourdough at the “Got to be NC” festival in the spring.

Boy, am I glad we went.  It’s always nice when something lives of to the hype, and La Farm did not disappoint.  It’s a very French looking space in a generic strip mall.  Not only a bakery, they are a café, and coffee shop.  Everything’s fresh and fragrant.  One of the sides they offer for their menu of hand-crafted sandwiches are house made potato chips.  It was almost worth the trip just for that, but they also have various flavors of French macarons.

October 25th– It’s the fair!

This year I got to go twice, and got in free both times.  At the request of Lisa Prince from the NC Agricultural Department, I judged a couple specialty cooking contests.  It was a crazy amount of fun, and totally new for me.

Lisa Prince and friend.

Even though the novel holds much appeal, I’m delighted that some things never change.

Al’s French Fries: Without a doubt, the best fries at the fair.  Yeah, yeah, your fancy frites and duck fat fries are great, but there’s nothing better than stumbling through the midway, burning your tongue because those salty, crispy pieces of heaven are just too darn good to wait.fair-fudgeAll-American Fudge:  Located in the same spot every year at the end of the hobby and craft building, smiling faces will greet you and weigh out piles of fudge in old-timey cast iron scales.  Whether your first stop on the way in or your last on the way out, nobody anywhere does fudge like these guys.  I’m just grateful they only come around once a year.

Every couple of years the names changes, but the wooden barrels and the delicious root beer doesn’t.  Regardless whether they come as Pappy’s, Max’s, or your great-aunt Helen, those aluminum tankards of icy root beer are always as good as you remember.

November 16th– When I worked at Bosco’s bookstore at Woodcroft Shopping Center back when The Kid was elementary school, I grabbed dinner there every few weeks.  But it’s been years since I enjoyed the food at Hong Kong Restaurant (4711 Hope Valley Rd).  Recently though, after a doctor’s visit Petey and I went in for take-out.

I was hoping that my favorite dish, chicken mei fun was still on the menu.  In another win for stability, they had it.  It’s a sort of fried rice dish, made with veggies and scrambled eggs, only instead of regular rice grains, it’s made with rice noodles.  And although other restaurants will say they have it on the menu, many use regular wheat noodles instead of rice; which is just all kinds of wrong.

Actually, this is beef mei fun…still yummy, though.

Hong Kong makes is right.  It’s really yummy, and you get a take-out box so full it almost won’t close for about six bucks.  It’s enough food for three very filling meals for me.

December 17th– Went up to Greensboro for my mom’s annual Christmas cookie decoration party.  As always, we had lunch at their favorite G’bo eatery, Monterrey Mexican #29 (3724 Battleground Ave, Greensboro).

The first time I ordered tacos there I was very disappointed to get the hard u-shaped grocery store taco shells.  But I was ordering the wrong item.

This time I ordered tacos Mexico style.  Was rewarded with three fresh corn tortillas stuffed with the absolute best carnitas I’ve ever had the pleasure to devour.  The meat was as silky as a prom dress.  I’ve recently decided it will be my final meal.  It’s that good.

December 30th– Tomorrow night make some fun inconsequential resolutions so that it doesn’t matter when you break them.  And try to enjoy 2016.


Thanks for your time.