Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend Fun and What Are You Eating This Week?

We had some fun at the park on Saturday. The toddler chased me either with his trike or his running shoes… Smile We also played in the sand a bit (and the evidence is still in the car…).

We also ate a delicious brunch on Saturday that hubby prepared.

Weekend meals are easy as we usually have more time. Plus, once in a while hubby cooks. Well, at least he did this past weekend,  but it’s rare that he cooks… Yes, hubby, I’m talking to you here! Smile I have to say however that you are off to a good start this year… Keep up the good work! Smile   When it comes to weekday meals, things are not quite as easy.

To keep weekday meals “sane,” I plan meals for the week, but I’m very flexible as to when we eat what.  Over the years that’s what I have found works best for us. Here is what I have planned for this week:
  • Baby greens with grilled salmon
  • Baked potatoes with Trader Joe’s Organic Vegetable Chili, Greek yogurt, and a little cheese; broccoli on the side
  • Vegetable curry and naan
  • Brown rice pasta with tomato/basil/almond pesto and a salad
  • Barley soup with carrots, onions, celery, and mushrooms
Questions: So, how about you? Are you a meal planner? If so, what are you eating this week? I'd love some ideas for next week… If you are not a meal planner, how do you decide what to eat every day? 

Be well,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lettuce Wraps with Bulgogi and Pace Picante Sauce

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received two bottles of Pace Picante Sauce. I love Pace Picante Sauce and frequently use it, for example in breakfast burritos (one of my early posts; wow, my blogging style has evolved a lot…) And several months ago, I made my first video post, making breakfast burritos using Pace Picante Sauce.

When I received the Pace Picante Sauce, I decided that I wanted to use it in an “unusual” dish that could be served at a Super Bowl Party. My mind wandered right away towards Korean food – I know, not a big surprise considering my love for Korean food. How about bulgogi (Korean, marinated beef) wrapped in lettuce? And instead of serving it with gochujang (Korean red pepper paste) and/or kimchi, I thought I’d try Pace Picante sauce. Unusual? Definitely. Tasty? You can find out at the end of the post!

Lettuce Wraps with Bulgogi (Korean Marinated Beef) and Pace Picante Sauce

  • Red leaf lettuce leaves, washed and dried
  • Bulgogi meat (sirloin, rib-eye steak, or tenderloin available thinly sliced in Korean grocery markets, or you can slice the steak paper-thin yourself). I like cutting the meat myself as I have more control over where my meat comes from. Putting the meat in the freezer before-hand makes cutting it paper-thin easier.

 Bulgogi Marinade
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced (depending how much you love garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • a little less than 1/4 cup sugar (I know this is a weird “measurement” but that’s what I do…)
  • 1/4 cup lemon/lime soda (Sprite, 7-Up, etc.)

  • Pace Picante Sauce
  • Cilantro

  1. Mix the beef marinade ingredients and pour them over the beef, making sure to cover each layer of beef.
  2. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
  3. Heat some oil in a wok or frying pan, and cook the meat over high heat, turning it frequently.
  4. Serve the lettuce leaves, beef, Pace Picante Sauce, and cilantro separately and have your guests make their own lettuce wraps.

Even though I think hubby was quite skeptical when I first told him about my idea for this meal (I’m an expert at reading his non-verbal cues), he truly ended up loving the dish! And so did we all...

Thanks FoodBuzz Tastemaker Program and Pace Picante Sauce for inspiring this tasty, interactive, and fun meal! Smile

Questions: Have you ever had bulgogi? If so, did you like it? Are you going to watch the Super Bowl? If so, what are you going to eat? What’s your favorite party dish? 

Be well,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pomelos and Massaged Kale With a Korean Twist

Two of our recent food “discoveries:”


Pomelos are related to grapefruits, but they are bigger and much milder in flavor; there is none of the bitterness that grapefruits often have.  We bought a few at the Farmers’ Market the other day, and now they are our new favorite fruit! 


Massaged Kale with a Korean Twist

I’ve read about massaged kale for a long time now and it had been on my “list” forever, but for some reason I had never made it. And when I finally decided to make it, I didn’t follow a recipe (shocker, I know) but did what I thought I had read months ago, with a twist. I basically massaged 2 bunches of kale with the following (without measuring anything):
  • Juice of 1 Meyer Lemon
  • Olive oil (~ 2 - 3 tablespoons)
  • Honey (~ 1 teaspoon)
  • The twist: Gochujang (spicy Korean red pepper paste) ~ 1 - 2 teaspoons
  • Salt
  • Pepper
We loved it! The honey adds a nice sweetness (in hubby’s words: “It’s not bitter at all.”) and the gochujang adds some complexity and a slight spiciness. I think the honey and the gochujang work really well together.

Massaged Kale with a Korean TwistGochujang

Questions: Have you ever had a pomelo and/or massaged kale? Do you like them? What are some of your recent food “discoveries?” What’s on your “must make list?” 

Be well,

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Veggies, Sunshine, and the Beach

The weekend started off with a CSA box. Here is what we got:

  • Collard greens
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Oranges
  • Meyer Lemons
  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
As soon as we opened the box, the toddler declared that the carrots were his. And he wasn’t kidding…

I grew up in a very cold climate, so I feel very lucky to have lived in California for the past 20 years. In fact, one of my childhood dreams was to have a palm tree in my yard (which seemed very, very unlikely at the time…). Well, the palm tree in my yard never happened, but there are quite a few palm trees in my neighborhood. Anyway, we were lucky to enjoy fabulous weather over the weekend. Sunshine and 70 degrees. Today, we decided to head to the beach.

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If you’d like to see more of our fun at the beach, you can check out our video below:

Questions: What was the climate like where you grew up? Did you ever dream of moving to a totally different climate? If so, did you ever make the dream come true? What’s the best thing you ate over the weekend? I really liked the Greek salad I had at the beach, but my favorite was the simple salad I made with the lettuce in our CSA box. And I also loved the kale chips I made with the kale from the box…

Be well,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Trying Out Different Exercise Programs

A while ago, I saw several posts and positive reviews of Charlotte Hilton Andersen’s book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything. Charlotte writes the blog The Great Fitness Experiment, and I enjoy reading her blog, so I decided to order a copy of the book, and I am glad I did as I very much enjoyed reading it.

In the book Charlotte describes her fitness experiments (Functional Training, Double Cardio, CrossFit, The Celebrity Workout, The  Action Hero Workout, Jillian Michaels, Primal Blueprint, Suspension Training, Kettlebells, High Intensity Interval Training, Going Vegan, and Karate). Charlotte and her gym buddies try out each plan for one month, and she then  writes about what worked and what didn’t work for her and her gym buddies. The book is a fun read, and I learned quite a bit about different exercise and eating plans.

While the book is overall very funny and entertaining, there is also a serious side to it when Charlotte describes her unhealthy, obsessive relationship with exercise at one point in her life. She describes her struggles to have to make it to the gym “no matter what” and to have to work out for a certain amount of time each day.

While I was never as obsessive as Charlotte was at one point, I can relate to her struggles as I had a very difficult time finding the right exercise balance myself. As I wrote a few weeks ago, just a year ago, I had to do a “real workout” every day. If I didn’t, I felt guilty, anxious, restless and wasn’t very much fun to be around. In my mind, a “real workout” involved the gym and great amounts of sweat. In the process, I didn’t listen to my body and caused more harm than good.

Reading the book made me look at my own relationship with exercise and how this relationship has evolved over the past year and is much healthier today. Just as general relationships can evolve and grow and get better, so, too, can your relationship with exercise! But it takes some serious work. I was able to “let go” and do less on my own, but I know that if the problem is more serious, it is often necessary to get professional help.

If you are looking for a predominantly fun, yet informative, read about different types of exercises with some food for thought about exercise obsessions, I think you’ll enjoy The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything. Also, if you are in a rut and are looking for something new, I think the book will leave you with many ideas of what to try (and not to try) next.

Questions: What new exercises have you tried lately? Did you like them? Why or why not? What’s your favorite workout? I really want to try P90X, but I’m a bit worried about the time commitment, and I don’t want to start obsessing over it. Has anyone tried it? Any advice? 

Be well,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do It Yourself Kettle Corn

I met Lisa aka Snack Girl at the FoodBuzz Festival in November, and we had a fun time chatting a bit. Lisa writes about healthy snacks on Lisa is an avid snacker, foodie, published author, and mother of 2. An evolutionary biologist by training, she has become obsessed with how food contributes to our overall health. I follow her on Twitter and read her site, and I love her fun and informative posts.

Lisa asked me if I wanted to trade posts, and I happily agreed. The following post is a guest post by Lisa. Check out my celery salad guest post on her site.

Here is Lisa: 

Kettle corn has that perfect combination of crunchy, salty, and sweet that keeps you eating it long after you should stop.

I had been thinking of making my own kettle corn because I saw a PRETTY scary bucket of microwave kettle corn in the aisle at BlockBuster.

This brand, which shall remain nameless (Jolly Time), had 4 grams of Trans Fat stated in its Nutrition Facts.  Ummm, did you get the memo?

Also, it included sucralose AND sugar.  Why not just add enough sugar to make it sweet?  I guess they were trying to keep the calories low. 

So, I didn't come up with a way to make it completely in the microwave, but I did come up with a tasty version which is sweet, made with natural ingredients (no sucralose here!) and only 80 calories per serving.

I added peanut butter and maple syrup to the freshly popped popcorn AFTER it was popped.  The result is dreamy and my kids went bezerk.

It is a bit messy (you have to mix it with your hands), but the result is worth the work.  You can get it evenly distributed if you melt the maple syrup and peanut butter together - trust me.

I used a microwave popcorn bowl that a reader suggested.  You just dump 1/4 cup of unpopped corn in the bowl, turn the microwave on for 2.5 minutes, and you have freshly popped popcorn without using any oil. 
This is a bit easier than using the paper bags that I suggest in

Homemade kettle corn is a great party snack, watching football snack, or after school snack.

Give it a try and tell me how it goes!

Homemade Kettle Corn Recipe

(3 servings)
1/4 cup unpopped popcorn
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter (can substitute smooth)
dash of salt

Pop popcorn in microwave, air popper or stove top (see  In a small bowl in the microwave, heat peanut butter and maple syrup for 30 seconds.  Pour over freshly popped popcorn, add a dash of salt, and mix with your hands.  Enjoy!

//80 calories, 3.0 g fat, 11.8 g carbohydrates, 2.3 g protein, 1.6 g fiber, 78 mg sodium

Thanks, Lisa! I know my family will love this! Find more healthy snacks on

Questions: Do you like popcorn? What’s your favorite way to eat it? I like adding finally chopped rosemary to mine, but I’m making Lisa’s kettle corn soon! Do you have any ideas for homemade kettle corn?

Be well,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Weekend Fun and Barley Soup

We have been enjoying the weather. After temps being in the low 30s at noon just last week and lots of rain, yesterday it was in the low 60s in the early afternoon. It felt hot! Smile We took full advantage of the gorgeous weather and headed to the park and playground.

After the park, we stopped by Whole Foods to pick up a few things. It has been many months since I shopped at Whole Foods as I tend to have a problem with  “controlling myself” there. Since it was early afternoon, and we hadn’t had lunch yet, we decided to eat there. I got the spicy tuna rolls with brown rice – one of my favorites at WF. They didn’t disappoint.

Hubby and the toddler love the sugar cookies there and got some. They really enjoyed them.

The teenager is still home, and he wants me to cook all  of his favorite meals from childhood. After visiting my parents and eating barley soup in Austria a few weeks ago, he remembered that I used to make barely soup a lot when he was little. He also complained that I hadn’t made it in years. I don’t actually remember how I used to make it years ago, but I came up with a new version. I started  the soup right before we sat down to eat dinner and finished it while I was cleaning the kitchen after dinner. It worked out very well, and we have a nice homemade soup for lunch today. Plus, we had chicken for dinner, and I used the carcass after hubby carved the meat off the bones. 
Barley Soup
  • 1/2 cup organic barley (there is a lot of barley in the soup; you could use less)
  • 8-10 cups liquid (I used half water, half vegetable stock)
  • 1 chicken carcass (optional; I usually make soups vegetarian, but since we had chicken, I decided to us it)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 carrots, sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the chicken carcass and the barley.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour until the barley is soft.
  3. Remove the chicken carcass.
  4. Add the vegetables and continue to simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.
  5. Enjoy! 
I put the soup in the fridge, and it’s ready to be eaten today! I tasted some last night, and I really liked it. Let’s hope the teenager will like it, too! Smile

Questions: What’s your favorite childhood meal? Do you still eat it today? I loved my mom’s potato soup, but I haven’t had any in years. I think I will have to make some soon! What are you up to this weekend?
Be well,