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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Eat for Life – 2

“Eat for Life” – 2

Breakfast is King

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Remember when commercials used to show a “complete breakfast” with fruits, dairy, and grains? That’s not common anymore – the average person doesn’t indulge in a “completely” balanced breakfast every morning. We live in a faster world now, and I suppose the allure of balance is trumped by convenience.

I used to enjoy that convenience until I realized how vital a balanced breakfast was to weight loss.

Breakfast doesn’t have to be a big production. It just has to be nutritious – high in fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates. The key is to eat foods that make you feel fuller, longer. For my weight loss success, that meant cutting out as much bread as possible. Before I did that, I ate bagels, muffins, and scones often. Not good, especially for someone who sat while working.

Smiley Face Breakfast

Nowadays, my claim to fame is called the “Smiley Face Breakfast.”

2 eggs (egg beaters or egg whites preferred)
2 slices of Canadian bacon
1 slice of fiber-rich toast

Use cooking spray to limit how much oil is added. Cook the eggs first because the bacon only needs 30-40 seconds per side. I call it the “Smiley Face” for obvious reasons. It takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and is incredibly filling and satisfying. Add to that an 8 oz. cup of grapefruit juice and a little dab of ketchup, and you got yourself a balanced breakfast, low in sugar, sodium, and carbohydrates.

This breakfast is approximately 300 calories.

Between breakfast and lunch, I eat whole fruits (e.g., bananas, apples) to keep my hunger at bay. I also drink a cup of coffee (black with no sugar – tough, I know!) because it boosts my metabolism and suppresses my appetite.

Breakfasts like this have helped me lose weight and keep it under control for years now. It’s not for everyone, but it’s balanced and nutritious. If you’d like to share your breakfast creations, please do so! I’m always on the lookout for healthy alternatives.

Eat for Life – 1

“Eat for Life” – 1

Before we begin, I thought it would be nice to start with a prologue to offer some background and answer, among all other questions, why I’m doing this.

I’m doing this for my father.

I guess you could say, a couple years ago, I did this for myself (as well). Now, after five years of thoughtful trial, error, and success, I believe many can learn from my example, including (with humility) my father.

When I was 21, I was legitimately overweight at 230 pounds (I’m 6’1”). I had an unhealthy lifestyle, and I was aware, but not motivated to change it – I had a girlfriend and a social life – until after college. When I started living on my own in the real world, I said “enough!”

Enough with feeling like the elephant in the room!
Enough with feeling like the least attractive guy on the train!
Enough with the same old junk!
Enough with the same old excuses!
It’s my life, and my time is now.

When I was 22, I began a rigorous weight loss campaign. I was incredibly blessed; I lived across the street from a gym, and had a job that allowed me to afford it. That’s how it started – after work, I would go to the gym. Simply adjusting my life to include regular exercise was a long and demanding process.

My diet, on the other hand, didn’t change, and that slowed my success. After a year without substantial physical results, I realized my diet also needed to change.

And that’s how we begin here… with awareness – the first step towards change.

I first began to observe what I ate, and took notes. A pattern emerged:

Too much bread!
Too much dairy!
Too much red meat!
Too much sugar, salt, and oil!
Too much alcohol!
Too little vegetables!
Too little fruits!
Too little fish!
Too little creativity!

As I continue on with this series, called “Eat for Life,” you’ll begin to see how a change in diet, coupled with fitness, enabled me to drop 60 pounds in two years.

It wasn’t just a change in diet – it was a change in attitude towards the foods I ate… Gastro-attitude! :-)

Written by Zucker

November 16, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Recipes – “The Simply Best” Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is best made simple, straight-forward, and traditionally without all that funk and improvisation. You can wow your friends and family with “chocolate,” “maple brandy,” and “so-on” variations, but in the end, the simple recipe wins favor. So here’s that recipe, time-tested and mother-approved.

Feel free to use a pre-made pie shell from your grocer. You can make your own pie crust if you’re bold enough, but either way works. Be sure to bake your shell beforehand (10 minutes at 400 degrees, a couple holes poked in it with a fork).


2 cups of pecans, toasted, chopped into pieces
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¾ cup (light) corn syrup
3 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven (or reduce heat after baking crust) to 275 degrees.

A time-saver – toast the pecans while you prebake the crust. You only need 10-15 minutes to toast them. Once cooled, chop with a knife into small pieces.

Pecan Pie Ingredients

Melt the butter in a bowl, preferably set in a pan or skillet of simmering water. Once melted, remove from the water; add the brown sugar and salt until the butter is blended. Add the eggs (beaten first), corn syrup, and vanilla.

Put the bowl back in the pan of simmering water, and stir it around until the mixture is hot to the touch. Remove from the heat and blend with the chopped pecans. Mix well, and then pour it into the pie shell.

Bake on the low or middle rack for between 50-60 minutes (respectively). You’ll know it’s good when you press on it with a spoon, and it’s soft but set. Remove from the oven and let it cool for at least 4 hours before serving. The heat will redistribute through the pie over that time. Cover it with some tin foil so nothing gets at it.

And that’s it! The result is a soft and smooth texture, sugary, but not overpoweringly sweet. It’s perfect!

Pecan Pie

Written by Zucker

November 8, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Coffee Country – 12

Sip Cafe

Zero Post Office Sq
Boston, MA 02109
Neighborhood: Financial District

Review originally published on Yelp.

Sip Cafe

Some coffee shops thrive off the location, and Sip Cafe is one of those shops. Located right in downtown Boston’s Post Office Square, an adorable park compliments the experience of enjoying a coffee. This shop thrives in the warm season, but thanks to a loyal customer base, they do just fine all year round.

I bought a small (8 oz.) coffee on my first visit. Sometimes a small is 8 oz, I get it, especially when the coffee is quality, which it was. They offer a drip coffee as well as a Daterra Southern Italian espresso, which is pretty, pretty nice. Of course, they have teas and other beverages too, as well as a great selection of tasty edibles if you’re hungry.

Go in, get something nice, and take it outside. Sit in the park and watch the city move and breathe around you. I do that on every occasion, as the indoor scene is hard to adjust to.

Coffee Country – 11

Big Bear Cafe

1700 1st St NW
(between N Florida Ave & N R St)
Washington, DC 20001

Review originally published on Yelp.

Big Bear Cafe

As a tourist to DC, I relied on my friend to show me around, and while there, I made him aware of my fascination with coffee. He said to me, “before you leave here, I’ll take you to a great coffee shop.”

Big Bear Cafe is that shop, and I have to agree with him on that. Every bit of the experience prior to ordering reminded me of other truly organic independent cafes across the country. The place feels warm and old fashioned. The casual, intellectual vibe existed both inside and outside, where we ended up enjoying our cups of direct trade brew. They know how to prepare a good cup of coffee, and they do it with a smile.

The coffee was great – strong, well balanced, a perfect pick-me-up after a morning at the farmer’s market. They get their beans from Counter Culture Coffee, a well-known distributor in the area that prides itself on all things coffee. I take that as a promising sign, and the staff at Big Bear agree.

I felt like a regular sitting outside, drinking and chatting with my friend the day before I took off to continue my cross-country trip. I took a button from them that had they’re adorable “Big Bear” logo on it, a memory distilled, even after several future experiences of coffee consumption.

Next time I visit DC, I plan to revisit this place.

Coffee Country – 10

Stell Coffee & Tea Company

1580 Barton Rd
Redlands, CA 92373

Review originally published on Yelp.

Stell Coffee & Tea Company

This place is what independent coffee shops are all about. They roast locally, and distribute locally. And while I only got a cup of the usual on my brief visit to Redlands, I could taste the quality – strong, aromatic, and full of body. It’s a simple operation they have over there, and they’ve perfected the process.

They roast their beans inside the shop, and it gives the place a hearty coffee smell. It’s an adorably small and welcoming atmosphere, half inside and half outside. Their staff is very friendly. Their edibles are pretty appetizing, especially the chocolate chip cookies and panini sandwiches. They put time and effort into their product, and that’s enough for me to buy a bag before continuing on my cross-country trip.

Coffee Country – 9

Tryst Coffee House Bar & Lounge

2459 18th St NW
(between N Belmont Rd & N Columbia Rd)
Washington, DC 20009

Review originally published on Yelp.

Tryst Coffee House Bar & Lounge

Tryst is one of those coffee shops that feels like home to locals, and hell to tourists. I was a tourist, but I actually really enjoyed the atmosphere. Granted, there’s no pleasure in hunting for a seat at peak hours, but the payoff is in the traditional cafe experience.

Small tables with chairs, couches and coffee tables, places by the fireplace (do they work?) where you can read a book, write a book, or talk with others. I was there to write a book, and enjoy a coffee. Waitstaff bring your orders straight to you, lest you lose your seat, and they don’t mind you camping for hours. Just be sure to tip them.

Their coffee is great, and that’s with options. You can have a house drip or their french-press, whatever your pleasure, and I like that. And, if you want to get drunk, then good news! It’s a bar as well.

Their food menu is really… bohemian. They didn’t serve eggs, which is less than ordinary, but they have black forest ham, and honey, and tasty bagels, among a wide variety of healthy items. I made my own sandwich, and the waiter actually took it down as a possible item to add to their menu. No matter, be prepared to try something different. Their baked goods looked good.

I was well-cared for, and definitely would make that a regular hangout if I lived in DC. My fondest memory of that experience was when I reached the end of my stay. A trio was hovering around me, sensing my departure. One of them was wearing a legitimate sports racing jacket, and when I started to collect my things, he jumped on it like a tiger on it’s prey. Expect that when no other seats are available.


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