Thursday, October 3, 2013

Baked Apples and Getting Back-to-the-Basics II

Well, it’s finally “after the chagim” and it’s beginning to feel a lot like autumn (all eight days of it).  It’s time to talk about a perfect fall/winter dessert that can also double as a wonderful evening snack.  I am talking about baked apples.

I grew up on baked apples and then they kind of fell out of favor and interest (for me) for something like thirty years.  What’s lovey about baked apples is that they are easy to make, wonderful to eat warm or at room-temperature and are a great points-friendly dessert!  

Don’t worry, I did hear your thinking about how well they go with ice cream and I have chosen to ignore that comment!

 Yochi's Baked Apples

1.   Apples.  I am sure there is an entire “torah” regarding which apples are considered the best for baked apples.  Since my new favorite fresh apple is green and tart, I like to use a sweeter small to medium-size red apple for this dish. 
2.   Lemon juice
3.   Fake sugar
4.   Cinnamon
5.   Water
6.   Baking dish that is deep and wide enough to fit the apples comfortably.  The depth of the dish should be able to accommodate (at least) over half the height of the apples.
How to work:
1.   Choose apples that are whole, firm and without blemishes, gashes or soft spots.  The size of the apple is up to you; just keep in mind that if the apple is too small, it is much harder to clean out the heart (center) of the apple without damaging the ‘meat’ of the apple and the skin and will leave a very small portion to eat. If the apple is too large, it may take a long time to cook and may leave you with only half-cooked, hard apples.
2.   Carefully cut a circle of flesh around and including the stem (top) of the apple and set aside.  I like to place the "top" back on during baking.
3.   Using a paring knife, carefully cut into the heart (center) of the apple; from the top of the apple until about a thumb nail size above the bottom of the apple.  Using a rotating motion, cut out thin layers of the heart of the apple until all the seeds and the hard shell of the seeds are removed from the apple. 
4.   If you accidently cut or pierce the bottom skin of the apple, use some of the apple you cut out to “plug” the hole.
5.   Place each apple into the baking dish. I like to fit the apples snuggly together, so that they can’t fall over, but not too tight that they are pressing on each other.
6.   Pour lemon juice into and around each apple, to prevent the apples from turning brown.
7.   Pour cinnamon and sugar into each apple, filling the entire hole.  As you all know, I love cinnamon, so I add A LOT of cinnamon.
8.   Pour lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar and water into the pan around the apples, until about a third of the way up the pan.  You can mix the ingredients before you pour them into the pan or simply pour each ingredient separately, like I do.  During the baking process, this mix will turn into a wonderful golden brown sauce that you can pour over the apples before you serve them.
9.   Bake in a preheated oven to 180°C for about an hour. Baking time may vary according to oven, baking pan and apple thickness.  
10.                First bake uncovered for at least half the baking time, to ensure the apples come out golden and then cover to help keep the apples and the sauce in the pan from drying out.
11.                If the sauce around the apples begins to dry out, add more water and a bit more sugar and cinnamon.
12.                The apples are done when their skins feel soft and flexible to the touch.
13.                You can even finish this dish or re-heat the apples in a microwave oven.
Portion size:
One apple is one serving. That was easy enough!

How to store:
Always store in a covered container in the fridge. 

Be’Tay a’Von!

Getting Back-to-the-Basics II

Drum roll please: If you best friend hasn't told you yet, then I will: It’s after the chagim.  So I am continuing my talk about getting back to the basics.  The only way to get yourself back on track is to get back to the basics.
So let’s all take a deep breath.  

If know that you “have sinned” over the chagim; well then I forgive you my dear.  So get over it.  If you have not weighed yourself since Chag ended because you are afraid of what you will see in the little dial - DON’T WEIGH YOURSELF YET.  

Get back to the basics.  

Take charge of your life again and then and only then you can weigh yourself.

So today begin at the beginning.  No matter what diet program you choose, there is always these rules are always part of the common denominator:

1)   Keep a food journal of what you ate and how much you ate.  Be thorough and be honest.

2)   Count and measure your portion sizes.

3)   Eat on small plates and eat s-l-o-w-l-y!

4)   Be mindful of everything you put in your mouth.

5)   Chew your food.  Really, chew each mouthful – and put down your fork while you are chewing.

6)   Eat THREE MEALS ADAY.  Begin with breakfast.  Have a healthy snack between each full meal.
7)   Never start a meal hungry!

8)   Plan your meals at least one day in advance.

9)   Take healthy snacks (and meals, if you plan to be out of the house for a whole day) with you when you leave your home.

10)               Weigh yourself on a regular weekly basis.  Weigh yourself at the same time of day, wearing similar clothes.

Want more tips or need to just talk to someone about your lifestyle?  Contact me.

Do you enjoy reading this blog, please LIKE me on Facebook, tell your friends and follow this blog on email!

NEW! Want to change your eating habits and change your lifestyle? I now provide one-on-one weekly mentoring meetings and weekly group classes.  Learn to cook healthy meals, set your own goals and learn to love yourself! Contact me today!     052-3413249

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fresh (no-cooking needed) Spaghetti Sauce and Getting Back-to-the-Basics and Eating Right!

This is going to be your NEW favorite spaghetti sauce!  We all know, pasta always makes a great year-round side dish.  My fresh, no-cooking-needed, sauce is pareve, quick, easy, fresh and points-friendly and perfect for our still-hot-days-to-come!

Yochi's Fresh (no-cooking needed) Spaghetti Sauce

1.   Whole wheat spaghetti. Half a box of uncooked spaghetti makes four to six portions of cooked spaghetti.   
2.   Large pasta pot
3.   Hand-stick blender
4.   Tomatoes (either two large tomatoes or ten or more cherry tomatoes)
5.   1 medium onion
6.   2-3 fresh cloves of garlic, (depending on how "garlicky" you want the sauce)
7.   Mushrooms
8.   Garlic powder
9.   Freshly ground pepper
10.                Paprika
11.                Chopped fresh parsley
12.                Oregano (fresh or dried)
13.                Basil (fresh or dried)
14.                Thyme (fresh or dried)
15.                Water
16.                PAM
How to work:
1.   Preparing the spaghetti: I'm sure you've heard this a million times: to make good el dente spaghetti you need to start with good quality spaghetti (in our case, whole wheat spaghetti), a large pasta pot and lots of water.
2.   Fill the pot with water, a little bit less than three-quarters full.  This should be enough water to cook the spaghetti.
3.   Bring the water to boil.  I no longer add oil or salt to my boiling water to prevent the spaghetti rom sticking; I shpritz the water with PAM before adding the spaghetti
4.   Measure out half of the spaghetti from the box and add a quarter or half that amount to the boiling water at a time, to avoid sticking.  Stir and then add another quarter or the second half of the spaghetti.  Stir gently to avoid further sticking.
5.   Cook the spaghetti until it is el dente: pliable, but not soggy. 
6.   Once the spaghetti is cooked; immediately take it out of the cooking water and strain; so it will STOP cooking.  You can rinse the spaghetti with warm water if you wish or just leave it as it is. Try to prevent the spaghetti from cooling completely. If the spaghetti gets too dry, spritz with a bit of PAM or pour hot warm over it.
7.   Now begin to make your sauce.
8.   Clean the tomatoes, onions and garlic and blend to a semi-chunky-saucy consistency using a hand-stick blender.  The consistency depends on how you like your sauce.  Ask yourself: do you like a sauce with pieces of vegetables or a smooth sauce? Blend to the consistency you like.
9.   Working with the mushrooms: you can either slice them and add them to the sauce “as is” or gently sauté the mushrooms in a bit of PAM and then add them to the no-cook vegetables.
10.                Add all the spices to the sauce.  If you are using fresh spices, I warmly suggest you mince the spices by hand and then add them into the sauce. Mincing the spices with the stick blender may turn them into a paste.  The spices should add a fresh aroma and distinctive taste to the dish.
11.                Mix the sauce completely and pour over the warm pasta.  Gently toss and serve.
Remember that portion control is the name of the game – watch your portion and you’ll watch your weight!

Portion size:
Spaghetti is a tough dish to portion out as tablespoonfuls.  I suggest using the plate method: a quarter of a plate, NOT PILED HIGH, is a sufficient amount.

How to store:
Always store in a closed plastic container in the fridge. 

Be’Tay a’Von and Chag Sameach!

Getting Back-to-the-Basics and Eating Right

I was recently talking to a close friend who wanted to lose weight and had heard about and tried just about every diet program out there.  She heard how much Sid and I lost weight and she wanted to UNDERSTAND how we did it.  Not the points – but the how we did it.  I began by explaining the general idea to her; but that was not enough for her.  She wanted and needed to hear the exact details – the “hows” and the “whats”.  I knew with whom I was talking: I know her lifestyle, how she thought and how she felt.

I told her exactly what I ate for each main meal and then what I ate for the small meals.  Except for the Chagim, I eat just about the same foods/combination of foods every day (including similar Shabbas menus). 

Then I got down to the basics and the emes - it was simple - you must never be hungry.  Your mind and your body must know that it will never starve.  Once that lesson is internalized, your body will not store fat and you can lose weight!   As I said this statement out loud, I realized it really made sense TO ME and I had internalized the message:  three main meals and the two-three small middle meals keep me at an even keel and a good weight. 

I told her that I eat breakfast EVERYDAY.  I don’t “wait” to eat until I am starving.  I make the time to eat.  I eat lunch on Fridays!  Believe me, each of these little steps is a minor miracle. 

I shared with her another important step: portion size.  I explained to her that a tablespoon of food is one tablespoon – not two, not two and a half and not some kind of rough measurement. That you need to treat losing weight and changing your eating habits as a semi-religion where you set the rules and framework and you work within it.  Not following your framework – only hurts you.

Exercise is another big step.  I always exercised, but if you never did or do not at this moment, then it is time to introduce yourself to the concept.  Start moving.  Start walking up and down stairs.  Start walking around your neighborhood. 

I know that there is a common theory that walking/exercising with a partner is a great way to exercise and I say – maybe – it depends on your exercise buddy.  If you choose a friend who is - how should I put this – as exercised-challenged as yourself - you may never get into the “shvung”.

So listen to Tante Yochi: find an exercise that suits you, that is: it's reasonably easy to do on a long term basis.  I warmly recommend WALKING.   Walking suits everyone and every body shape, take music along as your exercise buddy and just get out there.  No excuses.  Your body will thank you!

Do you enjoy reading this blog, please LIKE me on Facebook, tell your friends and follow this blog on email!

NEW! Want to change your eating habits and change your lifestyle? I now provide one-on-one weekly mentoring meetings and weekly group classes.  Learn to cook healthy meals, set your own goals and learn to love yourself! Contact me today!     052-3413249

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chocolate Cake and Never Eating while you are standing!

Rosh Ha’Shana is gone and Yom Kippur is just around the corner.  This moist chocolate cake is a great way to break your fast!

Just about everyone loves chocolate cake, especially if it is thick, rich and has that great chocolate aroma.  This is the ultimate chocolate cake recipe!  One of the greatest things about my cake recipes is that you can add in the ingredients in ANY ORDER you wish, so long as you add the eggs at the end! 

Another plus to these cake recipes is that you can mix these cakes by hand with a large spoon or spatula and you only need a hand mixer for the egg blending and egg-white whipping at the end of the recipe! You do not have to schlep out the big mixer for these sweeties!

 Yochi’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake!

·        1 cup whole wheat flour
·        1 teaspoon baking soda
·        1 teaspoon baking powder
·        1 teaspoon salt
·        1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
·        1 1/2 cups sugar substitute
·        1-2 tablespoons of coffee in about an eighth of a cup of water
·        200 grams applesauce
·        1 1/2 cups water
·        3-4 teaspoons of vanilla extract
·        1 whole egg
·        4 egg whites
·        PAM spray

What to do:
·        Sift flour into a large bowl and then add the baking soda, baking powder and salt.
·        Slowly add in the cocoa powder. Use the best quality unsweetened cocoa powder you can find!
·        Add the sugar and mix.
·        A note of caution: Be careful when you begin to add the liquid ingredients, as the cocoa powder doesn’t “like” to be mixed with water and tends to start flying up in the air.  “Wet” the powder by slowly pouring some liquid over it and then blend slowly.  As more liquid is added to the mix, the cocoa powder will begin to behave itself!
·        In a separate cup or small bowl, mix one to two tablespoons of coffee in about an eighth of a cup of water. The water does not have to be hot!  I love a good strong coffee-chocolate mix.  If you are not a particularly big fan of coffee, use only one to two teaspoonfuls of this stuff.  
·        Add applesauce and mix well and carefully!
·        Add water and vanilla.  As usual, I love vanilla and love to add a very generous amount to all my cakes!
·        Make sure all ingredients are mixed very well before you add the eggs.  Remember that whole wheat flour tends to stick to the bottom of the bowl.
·        Next add the whole egg.
·        In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they are stiff (usually you will quadruple the original volume of the egg whites) and then gently fold them into the mix.  You can add a bit of sugar into the eggs as they whip. This step is key to creating a light textured cake.
·        Spray a round Bundt cake pan with PAM.
·        Pour the mixture into the cake pan.  The cake should fill the pan until almost the very top.
·        Bake in a preheated oven to 180°C for about 40 minutes.  Baking time may vary according to oven, baking pan thickness and season, so check the cake after about 30 minutes of baking.  The top should be golden brown.  Cake is ready when a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
·        I do not invert the cake and remove it from the pan, but rather cut slices as needed.

Portion size:
I cut 8-10 slices from my Bundt pan for a very points-friendly dessert.

How to store:
Always store these cakes in the fridge. 

Be’Tay a’Von!

Ess – Never Fress!  Never eat while you are standing!

I was always taught that only animals walk around with food in their mouths; that people must sit down and eat, even if it is just a simple snack.  This is the difference between “essing” – how people eat and “fressing” – how animals eat. 

Obviously house cats are the exception to this rule and everyone knows that!  My cats always take their time eating and never walk around with food in their mouths. Mine only eat dry premium food and bite each morsel in half and only eat one half – leaving the other half in the bowl, don’t ask!   Fair enough, they are also finicky and know a thing or two about training humans, but that’s another story.

Back to never standing while you eat!  You can drink a bottle of water standing, but anytime you have to chew something – it should be done while sitting!

This little piece of logic is very important for healthy eating and successful dieting!  One of the hallmarks of healthy eating is becoming aware of what we put into our mouths.  This cannot be achieved when we are standing and eating.  While standing, we simply cannot pay attention to what we eat let alone how much we eat. 

Think about it: at wedding receptions we are “forced” to eat a large selection of dishes off of small plates, while walking around looking for friends, avoiding relatives and making sure not to get our nice Shabbas clothing dirty two minutes after arriving at the Hall.  It’s a nightmare, especially when we know that (a) the food at the reception is usually better than the meal served after the chuppah and (b) we will eat too much and then not want the meal anyway.

Several issues are at play here.  First of all: it’s a kind of “out of sight out of mind” game our brains, mouths and stomachs play on us.  When we stand and eat we cannot pay attention to what foods we are putting (ok, stuffing) into our mouths.  Even as women, we cannot multitask the standing, eating and paying attention actions all at once.  So I really cannot tell if I just ate carrot sticks, mini-meat balls or sushi!

Next I cannot keep track of how much of each food/ingredient I just ate: one tablespoon? five tablespoons? or a whole plate?  My legs are moving, my brain is doing all kinds of stuff and my mouth is moving, but “there is no one home” to check on how much I am eating.  My brain cannot tell me when I am full.  I will probably only stop when the hall either runs out of a certain food item or the chuppah begins!

Lastly, I cannot enjoy my food while in transit.  I cannot possibility enjoy the aroma, taste, chewing, and sensation of each bite.  This whole enjoying-your-food-experience is still kind of new to me! Heck chewing my food is still a novelty, but I do enjoy it. 
Today, when I feel myself rushing or not chewing each bite, I put down my fork and knife (or spoon) and c-h-e-w.  No, I do not chew one hundred times.  That’s ridiculous!  But I do chew each bite and I do try to get the most pleasure out of each one! 
So listen to your momma – chew your food slowly, enjoy your meal and DON’T WALK AROUND WITH FOOD IN YOUR MOUTHS – only (some) animals do that!  So ess and don’t fress!
Gmar Chatima Tova!  Tzom Moeil!