Friday, May 30, 2008

Amazing Buns

These were so good they deserved their own post :)

The chef's at Cook's Illustrated took their original recipe and tried many variations until they found the perfect combination of ingredients that tasted great while still being light.

I rarely "really" bake- I like boxed items (brownies, cakes, etc)- so I was feeling the pressure. It requires yeast, making a dough, rolling it... all things I never do :) Thankfully MomE and Auntie P bought me a 11c Cuisinart food processor with dough blade for Christmas. That made it much easier.

From Cook's Illustrated- Light Recipes Spring 2008

Guilt Free Cinnamon Rolls- 250c per roll (14 rolls made, 12 rolls iced- I scrapped the ends)

*Depending on the humidity the dough may need up to 1/4c extra flour

Nonstick cooking spray
1 1/3c warm skim milk (110 degrees-- I actually took out my thermometer for this one)
3T Maple Syrup
2T unsalted butter, melted
3.5c unbleached all purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
1 package rapid-rise or instant yeast
1t table salt

1/2c (3.5 oz) packed dark brown sugar
1/4c (1.75oz) granulated sugar
2t ground cinnamon
1/8t table salt
1T unsalted butter

1c (4oz) confectioners sugar
4T light cream cheese (I only had 1/3fat, which added fat and calories to the recipe)
1T skim milk
1/2t vanilla extract

1) Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 200 degrees. Once heated turn off. Lightly grease large bowl with cooking spray. Coat 13x9 dish with cooking spray.
2) Mix milk, syrup, and melted butter together in large measuring cup. Mix flour, yeast, and salt together in food processor (or mixer with dough hook). Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together increase speed to medium and mix until shiny smooth (4-6m) Dough will be sticky, if it seems too wet add additional flour. Turn dough ball onto heavily floured work surface, shape into a ball and place in greased bowl. Cover and let rest in warm oven for 10m.

3) For filling. While dough is resting mix sugars, cinnamon, salt and melted butter in medium bowl until incorporated.

4) To make rolls. On lightly floured work surface, roll dough into 18x12 inch rectangle with long side facing you. Sprinkle sugar mixture over dough, leaving a 1/2in border. Lightly press sugar into dough. Starting at the edge nearest you begin rolling dough. Brush border with water, and press dough to seal.

5) Using a chef's knife (thanks to TE we have one!), slice dough into 12 rounds (I made 14), then place in prepared pan with cut side up. Cover pan with plastic wrap coated with nonstick spray and return to warm oven until buns have doubled in size (30-40min)

6) Remove pan from oven and heat to 350. Remove plastic wrap and bake buns until they are deep brown (20-25m), rotating pan front to back halfway through baking (oops, I forgot to to that...)

7) For the icing. Whisk sugar, cream cheese, milk and vanilla together until smooth. Turn rolls out onto a rack, flip the right side up, cool 10m then spread icing over buns. Serve hot or warm.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

You Will Need Some Time For This One...

This blog has been in preparation for a long time. Now that my stress is over (or just beginning) I can do more fun things, like blogging :)
What prompted me to finally write this entry was the current topic on my new favorite blog, CALERIE! The study I am participating in published the results from the pilot study from one of the centers. You can read it here Its publication has initiated a few questions which I wanted to address on Ouroboros, but I thought my opinions would be better published here. I will try to relate most of these comments to the feasibility of this diet for the majority of the American population.
1) Calorie restriction while pregnant. Ouroboros sites research that mice and rats that are restricted while pregnant have offspring that are anxious and have increased DNA damage. The CALERIE study does not accept women wanting to have children during the 2 year enrollment. Regular use of birth control is assessed.
2) Through the duration of the pilot study no harmful mood changes were noted. There was also no increase in eating disorder behaviors. TE would say that I was a royal snot* for the first month of the study (*he would have selected a worse adjective). You are given all of your food and are not allowed to eat any additional food containing calories. The pilot study participants were given food for 6 months. This fact alone would have severely depressed me- I love making my own food, I love having the freedom of choice. In retrospect, I think I felt extremely restricted in that first month. I am sure I would have found a way to be more optimistic if I was in that situation, but I can not imagine how they did it. I would say that I did benefit from that black and white period, though. Everything was off limits. It gave me time to not think about food and draw the line between my pre-CR habits (eating out/drinking too much, eating large portions, and simply not thinking about what I am eating) and helped me create new ones. I would agree that my mood has improved slightly and I do not show any ED behaviors. I attribute my mood change to the new found passion I have for learning about the growing world of CR (academically and socially), cooking new healthy foods, and the fact that I can dry my jeans and they still fit!
3) CALERIE participants are screened so critically that we do not reflect the general population. True! This study requires people to record every minor detail of food/drink they consume for 2 years. Not many people want to do that. The remaining volunteers who are not deterred can not smoke or drink excessively, take medications, have fluctuations in weight, want to have children in that time period (females only), or have psychological conditions. The remaining volunteers then must also have a flexible work schedule that permits them to take sporadic half days off, full days off, and be local for food pick up 3x/week and available weekly for individual and group counseling sessions throughout the duration of the study. That does not leave many willing/able people (lucky for my graduate student schedule!). But I feel that having a control group that is not calorie restricted from the same pool of volunteers is a sufficient control for this skewed selection bias.
4) Will the results of this study be relevant to the majority of the population? Maybe. If these results provide enough motivation for someone to start their own CR diet that would be great! There are so many diets out there right now- I am always amazed at the diet book section of book stores… If this diet can become a lifestyle (not just for weight loss but for health and aging benefits) people can maintain- the more realistic it will be for CR to be increasingly relevant.

OK I am going to cut myself off there. I would like to go on about another topic-- CR vs. CRON (CR with Optimum Nutrition- eating all your vitamins and minerals in your food, maximizing calorie efficiency). While I agree that ON is ideal and something anyone eating any number of calories “should” do, I just don’t know how realistic that diet is for the majority of America. I think once you start labeling foods as “bad” and “off-limits” you become fixated on them (at least I do!) so nothing for me is off limits. I eat a normal, balanced diet. I may not get 100% of each and every vitamin and mineral in my foods every day, but I feel very satisfied with my food choices. I think that alone will keep me successful with this diet. I feel like I can go out to eat, drink wine and beer, and eat candy or anything that I want really and as long as I account for the calories. I still have my life with CR.
The next human study I would like to see: CR vs. CRON. I do wonder if ON would enhance the results seen with CR. Maybe that would be the motivation I need :)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Relief and Brunch

My friend Rachel came over for brunch this weekend. (link) She hates eggs and has been eating cookie dough and cold pizza for breakfast since her husband left for overseas work (or chocolate covered fruit recently). I spoke with my dietitian about breakfast alternatives that I could make/recommend to Rachel, and she gave me an assignment to try out Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt can be purchased with 0%, 2%, or full fat and tastes much more thick and rich than "regular" yogurt. It also has 20g of protein per cup. This is an unreal amount of protein in a food that is not meat. TE has been trying to get me to enjoy protein shakes with him for years and I refuse to even sip one because I swear that I HATE protein powder. Especially soy protein. I love veggie burgers, veggie sausages, veggie anything made with soy, but I will never, ever, ever eat any soy "dairy" products, protein powder included. Yes it is probably a mental block, but still it is a real aversion for me. So getting back to shakes. This is a perfect way for the two of us to enjoy shakes in the morning, all we need is to add Greek yogurt rather than regular yogurt or milk and no protein powder needed to get a large amount of protein! Happiness.
I have not done that yet but here is the recipe I did make with the Greek yogurt for Rachel:

Greek Yogurt with a Fig, Date, and Honey Swirl
(recipe from
Serves 3

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup almonds (nuts toasted in frying pan)
8 figs, dried, cut into quarters
8 dried dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups Greek yogurt

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the figs, dates, honey, water, and lemon juice.
Cook for about 10 minutes until fruit is soft.
Set aside and let it cool slightly.
Place the yogurt into individual bowls
Spoon the warm fruit onto the yogurt and gently swirl the fruit through the yogurt.
Sprinkle on the nuts.
Serve immediately.

*I served this on top of 1/4c lowfat granola with raisins. The picture was taken after we mixed the yogurt so it looks sloppy, but it was totally yummy.

Must get moving so I will update the post with calorie info so check back in a few...
Also I will include the amazing cinnamon buns that accompanied the yogurt.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day Breakfast

TE and I cooked for our mothers (and grandmother) on Mother's day. I got the recipe from epicurious- it was very well received!

Eggs in Brioches

1 Brioche (top removed, guts removed for a hollow filling for egg) (120c)
1 slice Canadian bacon (20c)
.3oz Gruyere cheese shredded

Add cheese to hollow brioches, then add the bacon, and next one egg.
Bake at 400 for 20min

Serve with toasted brioche top

We also made a fruit salad, and sliced potatoes as a side. Yum!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Summer Steak

I seem to always post my steak pictures... Well here is another one. It was a warm night here, one day last week, and I wanted a "summery" steak dinner. TE and I broiled 2- 8oz NY Strip steaks and I ate half of one (4oz) with a side of roasted corn salad and gazpacho (both recipes are originally from weight watchers).

Here are the recipes as I made them:

Corn Salad- Serves 2, 115cal/serving

1Tbsp olive oil

2 sliced green onions (white and light green parts)

1c quartered grape tomatoes

1c Trader Joes frozen fire-roasted corn

Salt and Pepper to taste

1Tbsp Balsamic vinegar

Heat oil in pan and cook green onions (3min).

Add frozen corn and cook until it is heated (5min?)

Add tomatoes and cook for ~3min

Once the dish is done cooking remove from heat and add vinegar.

Mix well and let the pan sit for 3-5min

Serve on top of greens.

*Gazpacho- serves 6, 45cal/serving

1 large can of stewed plum tomatoes, chopped (with juice)

1/2 of 1 "English" (seedless) cucumber chopped with skin
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
4 Scallions (green part) sliced

Basil, torn (1/2 of a storebought package)

2c Vegetable juice

1 jalapeno seeded and minced
3 gloves of garlic

juice of 1 lime

2Tbsp red-wine vinegar

Mince/puree jalapeno with lime juice, garlic, and vinegar.
Add the puree to the other ingredients and marinate overnight in the fridge.
Serve cold with a garnish of lime.

*This has not been totally successful yet. The basil overpowered the soup and TE thought it tasted like salsa. I will be adding more vegetable juice and cucumber to the soup and pureeing the entire thing. I will be sure to update with the verdict.

You didn't finish your lunch...

That was all it took for me to get started on my CR-tangent today. A few of my classmates and I took a guest speaker out to lunch where I ordered a large vegetarian chili and a side of the restaurant's special slaw (no mayo= light and yummy). Luckily these classmates had not heard my "CR story" yet so I didn't feel *too* bad about the fact they had to listen to me for most of the lunch-- however I did feel bad about monopolizing the conversation... I have been trying to cut back on how much I talk about CR.
I have been enrolled in this diet study for almost 3 months now and it has been a big change in lifestyle and for me to embrace it enthusiastically required excessive research (new foods, better foods, other people out there who can provide proof CR is possible, etc), telling everyone I know about CR, and starting this blog! Four months ago, I thought participating in this study/being on a diet was going to be impossibly difficult. Now I can say I am 12lbs lighter, eat more consciously, and I am having a fun, healthy relationship with food. Sure, I still have not faced a holiday season on CR, but I will deal with that in November...
But back to my CR ramblings, I am hoping that these first 3 months have prepared me for a more "quiet" next 3 months. Quiet in the sense that I will not need to talk so much about what I am doing, I will not obsessively check and recheck calorie amounts in recipes (once is enough!), I will be able to go out to lunch/dinner without having to pre-analyze the menu for CR friendly items, and I can refocus my energy on other things (school? graduating? fun?!).
Of course I will keep blogging (and mastering my food photography skills) so keep reading for more yummy, CR friendly, healthy recipes!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Friday Night Stew

I successfully made a beef stew about one month ago for a small dinner party, and it was great. I basically threw whatever I had available into a slow-cooker in the morning before leaving for work, and when I returned home, dinner was ready for the party! Totally easy!

I wanted to make the recipe again last week for another after work gathering, but I have been recording my recipes on a few different computers-- so when I was ready to make the stew again, I could not remember which computer had the original recipe. Remembering that I basically threw everything together I figured, "How hard could this be? It was not that long ago..." (*I was also running late for work, as usual, so I did not have time to hunt down original web recipe)
This is the most recent recipe

Beef and Mushroom Stew
7 servings- 242cal each

1.5lb Lean Stew Beef
1 medium potato (412g)4 Carrots (223g)
2c Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
1.25c Victoria brand marinara sauce
1- 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with green chili (juice and all)
2 small onions (210g)
1/3c Worcestershire Sauce
Pepper, Mrs. Dash Italian Seasoning, and salt to taste
1c Beer (*I was leaving the house when TE asked me which beer I used for the stew- I forgot to add beer- so I ran to the fridge and selected a Magic Hat Spring 08 -at his recommendation)

This recipe has very little liquid added. That did not cross my mind as a problem until I was calculating the calories on CRON-o-Meter during the day. I found the other recipe on my laptop, and had a mini-freakout when I realized that the other recipe had 3c of vegetable broth in it!

I had visions of the King clawing his way out of our burned down apartment (dramatic- I now know). Needless to say I finished what I had left at work and rushed home to save my puppy. As you can all appreciate in my before and after photos, the recipe did not need another drop of liquid! I do not know where it came from but it was perfectly stewed and there was no fire or burning puppy!
Having left work early, I time though to thoroughly clean my apartment, walk/play with the King, and make some CR friendly snacks! Gotta love the crock-pot....

Serving Note: I served this stew with 1/2c barley, sliced sourdough baguette (for the non-CR), and a hearty red wine (red zinfandel). Mmmm.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Favorite Breakfast

This is what I eat at least 4x a week for breakfast. Not terribly exciting, but I like it :)

Special K Red Berries (1c = 120 cal) *I eat this cereal not only for the taste but because it is one of the lowest calorie cereals for the volume. I need the full cup...

1/4c Fiber One cereal (30c) fiber is good

1Tbsp + 1tsp Slivered Almonds (82cal) protein and fat helps keep me feeling full

3/4c Skim Milk

(Not pictured= coffee with skim milk)

Grand total: 343 calories!