Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Archive for the ‘Places of Interest’ Category

Okay, so where were we?

Ah, yes.  Next thing to talk about is the meeting.

Salted Caramel Smoothie Pancakes:

Diana and another member talked about using the salted caramel smoothie mix to make pancakes.  You take one pouch of the smoothie mix, and add either one egg or three egg whites.  Then add a little water and whisk until the powder is completely dissolved, and the batter is smooth, and the right consistency for pancake batter.  Spray a bit of non-stick spray into a flat-bottomed pan or onto a griddle, and heat.  Add the mixture (either in one fell swoop to make one large pancake, or by the spoonful to make smaller pancakes) and cook as you would a pancake.  These cook pretty fast, by the way (I tried it Saturday), and taste really good with a little butter or a drizzle of sugar-free syrup (I used about 1 tsp of DaVinci’s Sugar-Free Amaretto Syrup).

We also talked about the updated information that Weight Watchers is going to be releasing over the next week, and a bit more about the ActiveLink device.  Then we were discussing “owning” your process, meaning realizing that whether you are choosing to make nutritional or non-nutritional food choices, you are the one choosing what to put into mouth.  We were also discussing the differences between a diet and a lifelong change of eating habits.

And I tried something new this morning.  Yesterday, while we were doing a grocery run, I picked up a box of Hodgson Mill Multigrain with Flaxseed and Soy Hot Cereal, since I was getting a little bored switching between oatmeal and Wheatena (Wheatena is a comfort food for me — Mom and Grandma both preferred Whetena and Maltex to Maypo, which was maple flavored, and I continued the trend).  The Hodgson Mill cereal is tasty and creamy, but with enough texture to be really satisfying.  Best of all, it had a really nice flavor — while I added about an eighth of a cup of fat-free half and half to my bowl, I tasted it without the half and half first, and it was yummy all on its own!    Given that flaxseed is known to help with some of the elimination issues I have, I definitely consider this cereal a major WIN!

Precious Stonewall (2010) by Jean-Michel Othoniel, photo © 2012 Deborah J. Wunder

Precious Stonewall (2010) by Jean-Michel Othoniel, photo © 2012 Deborah J. Wunder

I should be getting in some good walking today — visiting a museum with a friend to see two different exhibits.  The Brooklyn Museum is the permanent home of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, a major feminist artwork, and my friend J has not seen it, although she had heard about it for many years.  The other exhibit is by a glass artist named Jean-Michel Othoniel, and I have seen it twice before.

Anyway, that’s my update to Friday’s post.  See you all on Monday!



I will post about power foods on Wednesday, but I want to get this one down before I forget details.

Went to meeting Friday, back on program, and took the hit of 2.6 lbs. I had been expecting it, so not a big deal. After meeting, my friend C & I walked over to Memo Shish Kebab, our favorite lunch place — me with a backpack weighing about 15 lbs.  Instead of my usual falafel (my big weekly treat) I had a chicken kebab in pita, with a ton of veggies in it.

Then I shouldered the backpack from Hell, and walked the block up to the express bus stop, so I could head into Manhattan, where I was staying overnight with N, a friend who was in the city to try out for the program Master Chef.  Since I got in before she did, I settled at the Starbucks across the street from her hotel with a grande, skinny Cinnamon Dolce latte — my first Starbucks since I got out of the hospital in June.  After N arrived, we headed up to her room to change clothes, then headed down to the School of Visual Arts Cinema on 23rd Street, between 8th & 9th Avenues, to catch the premiere of the Andy Summers’ film, Can’t Stand Losing You.  N and her friends had bought a bunch of tickets, and since some folks didn’t show, I was able to get one of the tickets from the group, which worked out nicely.  The film was great fun, and if you get a chance to see it, you probably should.  It’s a great, behind-the-scenes look at the Police.

After the movie, N, her friends C & J, and I headed across the street to Asuka Sushi for a late dinner.  The food was plentiful, and yummy, you had the option to have your sushi with brown rice instead of white, and there was something that I have not seen at any other sushi restaurant in NYC:  A salad bar, with some of the freshest salad ingredients I’ve seen.  I had salad, sashimi, and kani (crab) salad, and tasted some Age Tofu, and a bit of the Dancing Salmon roll that N ordered.  (Sadly, I didn’t think to photograph any of the food at Asuka, but I do heartily recommend it.) J then drove N & I back to the hotel, where we crashed fairly early, knowing that N would have to be up early to work on her food.

Sure enough, I woke up Saturday to wonderful smells coming from the suite’s kitchenette; N was making a pork roast, stuffed with pine nuts and herbs.  This was, essentially her backup dish, since she had prepared half of it the day before at home.  She had me taste the earlier dish, and when I said it was delicious (it really was), she decided to use the two perfect slices she had packaged and brought with her.  Her plan was to serve it over some pureed carnival squash, with a side of frisee salad that had been tossed in a shallot vinaigrette, and garnished with crumbled bacon & candied black walnuts.  The dressing and the squash were also delicious, by the way.  (All of the pork  products she used were from a pig raised by her mother, thereby supporting both local farming and head to tail usage of a butchered animal.)  N packed her supplies, and I got dressed; we checked out of the room, and left our bags with the concierge, and went to stand on line. We did that for about an hour, then we were marched about halfway up the block, handed signs, and instructed to march past the host, Joe Bastianich, waving our signs and chanting “Master Chef!  Master Chef!”  It took them three tries to get the shot they wanted.  Then we had to form a mob around Mr. Bastianich.

Nicole and her Nutter Green sign

We were then instructed to go back to the same places we had on the line before, where N’s friend C joined us.  They took in the first batch of applicants (we were two behind the cut-off point), so we were the second group at the head of the line.  Mr. Bastianich came out and briefly walked the line — talking to each contestant and ignoring the rest of us.  Eventually, they started taking in people from the second group — but only the actual applicants.  The friends and relatives were instructed to wait in the hotel lobby.  So C & I found chairs and sat and chatted while we waited for N to come back down. We watched most of the group come back and leave, so we figured that they had liked what N had prepared.  Eventually she returned, with news that she had made the first cut, and then did the interview, but was not among the three chosen on the spot.  They did inform her that she might get a call in the next few weeks, so I am still hoping I will get to see her participate.

By the time N returned, we were all hungry, so we headed to PizzArte, on West 55th Street.  This time I remembered to use my camera:

We also shared their Toto Pizza, which was topped with mozzarella, basil, cherry tomatoes, and roasted veggies.  The food was very good, and since the restaurant is also a gallery, there were some lovely artworks on the wall.  One thing I found particularly impressive was the lentil soup — instead of the thick sludge that most Americans think of as lentil soup, this was a light vegetable broth, with lentils in it and chopped kale sprinkled on top (and about six croutons).

After that, we parted ways — N & C to Penn Station, and me to the express bus stop at 54th Street and Fifth Avenue.  I was very lucky — the express bus came in about 15 minutes.  When I got home, I found the roomie had spent the morning making meat loaf — to be reheated for dinner, since she had no idea when I would be getting home.  I took a nap, and then we had the meatloaf with sides of beets, mixed veggies, and microwaved potatoes.  The meat loaf was particularly good — held together properly when cut, and was still nice and moist.

Sunday was pretty quiet — my cold was being particularly trying, so I slept a lot, but we had an outstanding simple dinner of broiled pork chops, garlic cauliflower, and a hasselback potato each.  Dessert was my version of Hungry Girl’s Hot Apple Pie in a Mug.

The best thing is that I was able to do all of this and still have 38 of my 49 weekly points left over for the rest of the week.  Then again, one of the best things about Weight Watchers is that you can have a special weekend every so often without screwing up your plan.

(Note:  all pictures in this post are the property of Deborah J. Wunder [otherdeb], and use is subject to Creative Commons.)

…I highly recommend checking out the various ethnic neighborhoods.

Little Russia (formerly Little Odessa) is the nickname given to Brighton Beach.  It is a mix of various Russian cultures, and has a ton of supermarkets like Gold Label, and smaller stores where you can find some of the widest cheese, meat, and “appetizing” selections in the borough.  There are also the restaurants, ranging from grand catering halls that do a dinner sitting on nights they are not hosting parties to little holes in the wall, like Varenichnaya, which specializes in dumplings, and where two can eat or under $15.00, if ordering carefully.  While it may take a little bit of time to get there, it’s well worth the trip.  You can get there by taking the Brighton Line subway (B or Q) to the Brighton Beach stop.

The  three Brooklyn Chinatowns (Avenue U, Bensonhurst, and  Sunset Park) are a collection of restaurants, markets, nail salons, electronics stores, and bakeries.  They are fairly easy to access by subway (Avenue U – the B or Q to the Avenue U stop; Bensonhurst – the D train to Bay Parkway; and Sunset Park – the R train to 45th St & 4th Avenue, then walk over to 8th Avenue).  The name “Chinatown” is a slight misnomer, though; these neighborhoods are a mix of Asians!  The Avenue U Chinatown is the one nearest me, and I love the Asian supermarkets there.  The prices are generally better than mainstream supermarkets, and they have a number of things, like shirataki noodles, and seafood that is generally fresher than the chain supermarkets.  I highly recommend both Sea Bay (Avenue U near Homecrest  Avenue) and New York Mart (Avenue U near East 23rd Street, and another new location at around 18th Street and Avenue U).

African/Black/Dominican/Haitian/Jamaican communities are all over Brooklyn, although the greatest concentrations are in Bedford-StuyvesantCanarsieCrown HeightsEast FlatbushFlatbush, and Kensington.  These areas are a melange of restaurants (specializing in jerk meats, oxtail, doubles, etc.), clothing stores, religious articles stores, and bookstores.

Caribbean/Dominican/Hispanic/Mexican/Puerto Rican communities are also all over Brooklyn, with large concentrations along Fourth and Fifth Avenues in and around the Park Slope area. Coco Roco, one of the few Peruvian restaurants in the city is located here, on Fifth Avenue, between 6th and 7th Streets.  (They also have a location in Carroll Gardens.)  There are also large groups of these restaurants in  Williamsburg, and along Fulton Street and Crescent Street in Cypress Hills, and in Bushwick,  East New YorkBrownsvilleConey Island, and Sunset Park.

The Indian and Pakistani communities have their enclaves too.  They are largely located along Coney Island Avenue from Church Avenue over to approximately Avenue M (the B or Q to any stop between Church Avenue and Avenue N), and along McDonald Avenue clustered around it’s junction with Church Avenue (F or G train to Church Avenue).

Park Slope is an unusual concatenation of eateries, ranging from the “Latin” restaurants on Fourth and Fifth Avenues to the varied international restaurants on Seventh Avenue. It’s easily reachable by train; take the F or G to Seventh Avenue, or the F, G, or R to Fourth Avenue-Ninth Street.

Italians are well represented in Brooklyn, too, mostly in the areas of  Bay RidgeBensonhurst, Williamsburg, South BrooklynDyker Heights, and Cobble Hill.

Please note that this is in no way a truly comprehensive list, because there are many excellent ethnic restaurants located outside the noted neighborhoods.

Also, please note that this is just the first part of this exploration, as doing a totally inclusive list for Brooklyn would take more bandwidth than any one entry should occupy!

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