curried egg salad

It’s Sunday morning, Fresh Direct doesn’t come until tomorrow, and your leftovers are limited. A perfect time for egg salad. I modified this from a New York Times recipe (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1014530-curried-egg-salad) and added a small salad and leftover pitas from Mamouns we found in the freezer.

Curried Egg Salad
2 servings

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon yogurt (something a bit thicker like Greek – we used Bulgarian)
½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sriracha
½ teaspoon sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon dijon mustard
Pinch of curry powder
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Scallions, sliced, for garnish

Blend the yogurt, olive oil, sriracha, vinegar, curry powder, mustard, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. You can add lemon juice if the yogurt is less acidic. Add the chopped eggs. Garnish with scallions, a pinch of sea salt (we like Maldon) and a twist of black pepper. Serve with toast, a bagel, pita, or other bread and a small salad.

Calories with a small salad with an olive oil, dijon mustard, and sherry vinegar dressing, along with a pita, comes to just under 300 calories.

zucchini fries

Another healthy side option for your BLT is Zucchini Fries. Crispy on the outside and luscious on the inside, they weigh in at approximately 125 calories a serving.

Zucchini Fries
2 servings

2 medium zucchini squash
1 egg white
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup pecorino, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
salt
pepper
2 lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut zucchini into 3-inch long spears (or slices, whatever you prefer). Lightly coat the baking sheet with olive oil and prepare the coating bowls. Whisk a bit of water with the egg white in, the first and combine the breadcrumbs, pecorino, spices, salt and pepper in the second. Dredge the zucchini pieces through the egg white and then the breadcrumb mixture.  Arrange in a single layer on the sheet. Bake until golden brown (approximately 30 minutes), flipping after 15 minutes. Season with flake salt (we prefer Maldon) and serve with lemon wedges.

blt

What better way to showcase end of summer tomatoes than in a BLT. I love how the tomato juice mingles with the mayo, picking up a hint of salt from the bacon, and the crunch of the lettuce contrasts with the softness of the bread. So simple, but so scrumptious. Add some oven-roasted smashed potatoes and pickles for a fantastic casual dinner.

We make this diet-friendly by minimizing the amount of bacon and mayo in the sandwich and oil on the potatoes. All in before drinks is approximately 500 calories. The pickles come from The Pickle Guys in LES. We’ve tried everything from new to half-sour to full-sour – you can’t really go wrong.

BLT

2 slices whole wheat bread (choose something around 90 calories a slice)

1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise

2 1/2 slices bacon, medium-thickness

1/2 medium tomato, salted

1-2 lettuce leaves

Lightly toast the bread, and then thinly spread the mayonnaise on each slice. Add the other ingredients in order – the tomato needs to go in the middle to maintain the integrity of the sandwich and not make the bread soggy.

Smashed Potatoes

1 medium Russet potato, diced into 1 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 tablespoon oil olive oil

Salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil potatoes until fork-tender, approximately 10-15 minutes, in heavily-salted water (approximately 1 tablespoon, should taste salty). Drain potatoes and place on cooking sheet. With a large fork, lightly smash the potatoes so that the pieces are intact, but have smaller bits attached (it’s ok if some of the bits fall off the main piece). Transfer smashed potatoes to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, gently tossing with a rubber spatula to coat all sides. Dump potatoes back onto the cooking sheet in an even layer and scrape residual oil from bowl onto potatoes. Season with kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper. Cook until crispy, turning and checking every 10-15 minutes – total cook time approximately 30-40 minutes.

beef lettuce wraps

This meal is one of our favorite Friday night treats. The inspiration comes from our favorite Korean BBQ place in Atlanta, Hae Woon Dae (scallion sesame salad), our favorite Thai place in Atlanta, Thaicoon – but only on Sundays (chile fish sauce), and our favorite restaurant with Vietnamese influences in Hudson, Food Studio (steak and salt & pepper with lime sauce).

You take a leaf of lettuce, add a bit of rice that tastes like butter without adding any (courtesy of Instapot – we know it’s Instant Pot, but we like this name better for some reason), dip the thinly-sliced, rare pieces of steak into the salt/pepper/lime sauce, spoon on a bit of the chile fish sauce, add some scallion sesame salad, fresh mint and cilantro leaves, maybe some smashed cucumbers, roll it up, and then take a bite. All of these flavors combine into an amazing umami experience in your mouth.

You can use pork, chicken, shrimp, tofu, or any other protein for these wraps, which makes them ok for pretty much any diet. Other beef sections like hangar or flank work too, but skirt seems to be the best.

It’s clear we live in NYC because in the photo there is a computer on our dining room table, which is a bar, doubling as a desk. In keeping in line with my normal posts, it’s not a beautiful shot. Going out on a limb, my husband took lots of pictures, so we’ll share them all with you just for fun. We forgot to get a good one of the cucumbers (which are completely optional to the meal, but delicious) or the salt/pepper/lime slurry.

With 4 ounces of steak per person and half a cup of rice, you are around 400 calories of deliciousness per person. Reisling is a good choice with the wraps, because it can stand up to the heat of the chile fish sauce.

Steak Lettuce Wraps
Serves 2

Butter lettuce (enough leaves for 6-8 wraps)
4 scallions
1 t sesame oil
Kosher salt
1 T Korean pepper flakes
Black pepper, coarsely ground
Juice of 1 lime wedge (enough to make a paste with the salt and pepper)
8 oz skirt steak (can also use flank or hangar steak, or another protein)
1 Thai chile (can also use any hot pepper)
1 T fish sauce
1 t lime juice
1/2 t sugar
1 bunch mint and/or cilantro
1 c dry jasmine rice, cooked to your preference

A day ahead, salt and pepper the steak. Remove from refrigerator half an hour before cooking and pat dry.

Combine the Thai chile, fish sauce, and 1 teaspoon of lime juice and serve immediately or let sit. You can make the chile fish sauce ahead of time and save, or continue to add to the jar each time you make this dish.

Slice the scallions lengthwise (a green onion negi cutter will make this easier – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Q37E5C/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) and soak in ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and combine with the sesame oil, sesame seeds (black or regular), and salt to taste.

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat and cook the steak on one side for 1 1/2 minutes, until seared crisp. Turn and cook for an additional 1 1/2 minutes for a rare steak. All of these times are for our particular stove. The main objective is to sear it, so make sure your pan is screaming hot before dropping in the piece. Don’t hurry the process of heating the pan – let it sit over the flame for at least 2 minutes. The meat should sizzle loudly when it touches the pan.

Combine 1 t salt and 1 t pepper in a small sauce dish, and then add the juice of a lime wedge to create a slurry.

Lay out all of the ingredients (steak, scallion salad, rice, lettuce leaves, mint and cilantro leaves, chile fish sauce, and salt/pepper/lime sauce), combine, and enjoy!

Chinese Smashed Cucumbers

3 Persian cucumbers
1/2 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t Chinkiang vinegar
2 t light soy sauce
1 T Chinese chile oil
1 T minced garlic

Smack the cucumbers with the side of your knife or another heavy object to break down the fibers so the liquids can penetrate, and then slice. Move to a strainer, add salt, and drain for 20 minutes. Combine the liquids, sugar, and garlic in a bowl, and then add the cucumbers.

 

zuni hamburger

 

I’m going to start by saying you will rarely see amazing photos on this blog (and this one is definitely not an exception). We are way more into the food than taking pictures of the food. As you can see, it didn’t even occur to me to snap this pic before I had scarfed down a couple of bites. The other thing you should know is that my husband, Derek, is an amazing cook. We eat at home most of the time for a few reasons. One, we can save some moolah. Two, we can stay healthy because we know what is in each dish. Three, the food is better than most restaurants.

This burger, from the amazing and late Judy Rogers of the Zuni Cafe, is one of our splurges. The process begins a day before the meal, cutting the boneless chuck steak (from Pino’s Prime Meat Market on Sullivan – only takes cash) into chunks and salting it overnight. Grind it the next day (this is where the Kitchenaid accessories come in handy – only a few survived the move to the city with our limited space). I think the salting gives it both a better flavor and texture. We went with a typical sesame seed bun instead of the focaccia in the original recipe. Also, our toppings included a bit of dijon mustard, mayo and ketchup, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Strictly a no-cheese zone in most cases.

The pickles you see are from The Pickle Guy in LES – fresh, half-sour, and full-sour all in attendance. Smashed potatoes are the perfect accompaniment – boil in salted water first, smash with a fork, coat with olive oil, and then roast until crispy on the outside. Calorie count before the wine (wine courtesy of my associate, Lisa, from her Italian vacation – thanks!) is just under 600. Obviously almost double my typical weekday meal, but a great option for the weekend.

how to maintain weight over 40

If you are reading this with the expectation that I have an easy answer for how to maintain your ideal weight over 40, you will be disappointed. If you are looking to lose a lot of weight, my techniques may not be effective. If you are within 10 pounds of the weight you want to be and are constantly up and down, this may be the right article for you.

Every decade brought with it a tougher time to maintain my weight. Before I turned 20, I could eat anything I wanted and not gain weight. At 30, I had to practice portion control. The forties required something more – I had to count calories. No one wants to hear this, and some may choose to just add a couple or more pounds per year because the process is too hard.

I am 5’3″, which is unfortunate in the calorie-counting world because it means I can only have around 1,700 calories a day to maintain my weight. Add a 30-minute workout, and I get up to 1,900 – still not a ton. Dividing into breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner, this translates into less than 500 per meal. For those that have any experience looking at calories, you already know that most restaurant meals are one and a half times or double this limit. Which means you have to be creative and, at the same time, practice portion control. Also, it is important to include healthy options in the limited calorie count – I try to have a protein, a whole-grain, and a vegetable at every meal to make sure adequate nutritional needs are met and hunger is satisfied.

It is also difficult to maintain the sacrifice without some breaks, so I have chosen to reduce my weekday (Monday -Thursday) allotment by 500 calories per day and add the extra to my weekend (Friday – Sunday) for some treats. Small amounts of dark chocolate (under 100 calories) as an after-dinner tidbit can also help take some of the sting out of an austere day.

My day starts out with one of a few choices for breakfast:

  • 1/8 cup raw oatmeal with 1/2 tablespoon flax seeds, 1/2 tablespoon chia seeds, 1/8 cup grapenuts, and 1 teaspoon shredded coconut either with 1 tablespoon of labne (can also use yogurt – 30 calories worth) and 5 strawberries (or equivalent blueberries, raspberries, etc.), if in town – 213 calories, or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and a Halo tangerine, if traveling – 280 calories;
  • 1 serving (29 biscuits) of Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal, a hard-boiled egg, and a Halo tangerine or similar fruit – 290 calories;
  • 1 english muffin (130 calories), 1 egg cooked in 1 teaspoon butter, 1/4 ounce of cheese with a Halo tangerine or similar fruit – 300 calories

Lunch is usually leftovers (250-400 calories), which you will read about in the dinner section, but I also need to eat out at times. Some restaurants provide calorie counts to make decisions easier, such as Sugarfish and The Little Beet. Sugarfish’s Trust Me Lite is 349 calories and you can have half of an Avo Fresh Bowl (save the other half for snack) for 285 calories. The best options for eating out otherwise are:

  • chirashi (bowl of sushi rice with sashimi on top – eat 1/2 cup of the sushi rice, 5 ounces of sashimi, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, some nori, pickled ginger, and a salad with the ginger dressing on the side – dip the chopsticks in the dressing and then pick up the salad) – 375 calories;
  • salad with dressing on the side (dip fork in the dressing, and then grab the veggies) and 5 ounces of grilled salmon, grilled chicken, or grilled shrimp (be careful of croutons, cheese, nuts, etc.) – 350 calories;
  • take the meat, cheese, and vegetables out of your sandwich and use mustard and pepper as your flavor enhancers
  • fajitas – no tortilla and limit the meat to 4 ounces, 1/2 cup grilled peppers and onions, 2 tablespoons of guacamole, 1/2 cup black beans, and 3 chips (just enough for a treat) – 385 calories
  • 4 ounces of meat (chicken, beef, fish, etc.), small amounts of vegetables (not including potatoes or other starchy, caloric ones with a lot of oil or butter).

Snacks are normally either 1 ounce of nuts and fruit or 1 ounce of cheese and fruit – both around 200 calories. If you are feeling hungry, think about having drinks such as tea or flavored sparkling water (no sugar or artificial sweeteners in either) or low-calories foods like sauerkraut, pickles (dill, not bread and butter or sweet), or raw vegetables.

Dinner is much easier when eating at home, but follow same guidelines as lunch if you have to go out. Some of my favorite dinners, for which I will post the recipes soon, are:

  • Meat-Lite Chili, which is a mostly vegetarian chili, with a bit of ground beef – 300 calories
  • Send the Rice Down Celery with Ground Beef, Stir-fried Chicken and Shallots, Pock-Marked Woman Tofu, and many other options served with 1/2 cup (cooked) jasmine rice – recipes from The Breath of a Wok and Every Grain of Rice – 300-400 calories
  • Save Your Life Garlic Soup or Fresh and Wild Mushroom Stew from David Tanis – 300 calories

After dinner, we normally have dark chocolate, a piece of See’s Candy, or some other sub-100-calorie treat. On days that I have a surplus, an ounce or 2 of bourbon or a dirty martini with a bleu cheese-stuffed olive make the sacrifices of the day bearable.

You just have to make sure you are weighing things, measuring to ensure the proper serving size, and using an app like My Fitness Pal to track. Also, with My Fitness Pal, it is important to not just choose the first item in the search. Check a few to make sure they make sense. It’s about balance and trade-offs. If you have a birthday at work, have a small piece of the dessert and skip your snack that day. If you know you are going to a happy hour event, skip the snack for the glass of wine. Learn what an ounce of meat or cheese and 5-ounce glass of wine look like.

On the exercise side, it seems to be key to have cardio and weight training in the mix. I work out with weights (large muscles) Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and then switch to a toning routine (smaller muscles) on Thursday and Friday, adding spurts of cardio into each. More on this later.

This is only a peek into my strategy, but hopefully enough to give you an idea of how to start. I’ll post more about the plan, as well as meal ideas and recipes, in the future. The process is definitely not pain-free, but I’m finding it is worth it to fit easily in my clothes every day with no struggles to button or discomfort throughout the day.

homemade pitas

In keeping with our latest kick of recreating classic store-bought goodies from scratch (pop-tarts, hamburger buns, tortilla chips…), I searched for a homemade pita recipe to showcase the gyros recently highlighted in my newest favorite food blog, The Londoner. There were many out there, but this recipe from anoregoncottage.com  seemed to be the easiest (ie. used ingredients in my pantry) that was proven with whole wheat flour. I went with the ratios of whole wheat to all-purpose flour below for my first attempt, but will probably try to increase the whole wheat in the future. Since I am not a consummate baker, I can say with confidence that anyone should be able to make these with success. Let me know how yours turn out!

Homemade Pita Bread   Makes 8 large pitas

  • 2-1/4 c. whole wheat dough
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1-1/4 warm water
  • 2 Tbl. olive oil

Combine all the ingredients and mix them together – by mixer or by hand. Knead by mixer 5 minutes or by hand 8 minutes until you have a soft dough that is tacky to the touch. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic and let rise until doubled, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Place a baking/cooling rack directly on the oven rack.

Turn dough out to lightly floured board, cut in half and place one half under a dampened towel. Divide the other half into four equal portions, shaping each into a ball and placing under the towel. Repeat with the remaining half of dough.

Let rest 5 minutes.

Use a rolling pin to roll each ball one at a time into a circle about 6 inches in diameter and 1/4 thick on a lightly floured surface. Repeat with one or two more rolls.

Place the rolled pitas directly on the baking rack in the oven. Set timer for 4 minutes, check for browning and puffing, and remove or continue cooking for up to 1 more minute, if needed.

While the first pitas are cooking, prepare the next batch. When removing the pitas from the oven, stack them together in a kitchen towel to keep them from crisping as they cool. Immediately add the next batch of dough to the rack in the oven, repeating process until all the dough has been cooked.