Changing Gears

It has been 35 days since my last post. Whoa. Where does the time go? I started this blog as a means of motivation to stay inspired in the kitchen and stick to the Weight Watchers plan all while working the crazy schedule as a waitress. Well, a lot has changed since arriving back in NYC from our two- week trip to Spain.

First, I am no longer a waitress. I am still working at Haven’s Kitchen a few nights a month but now my main gig is hanging out with the two coolest kids in the city- I am a New York City nanny to an amazing family! My schedule has shifted from getting home at 3am from a long night dealing with guests and restaurant drama to snoozing my alarm at 5:53am everyday until I finally pull myself out of bed around 6:15. I’m out the door by 6:45 and on “mommy duty” starting at 7:30am. My schedule varies but I am with the family about 30 hours a week (or like last week, 52 hours…) but I absolutely love it. I have never been this happy in a job. It’s been 2 months (I started shortly after arriving back from vacation) and I think the early morning routine is my only complaint- but it isn’t even really a complaint. As soon as I am out my door in the morning, I am filled with excitement to see what the day with the kiddos holds. They’re just simply adorable, amazing, loving, snuggly and growing every day!

Second, I am no longer doing Weight Watchers. I struggled with this decision for a few months before finally pulling the plug last week. I am a huge supporter of the WW plan and, at only $18.95 a month for the online program, it is affordable. But I wasn’t using the tools and I wasn’t logging. It just started to feeling like a burden instead of a helpful weight loss tool. But I am optimistic in my journey to loose some more weight.

Lastly, I have not been inspired in the kitchen, which is the main reason for my absence here. It is actually a combination of all three things. I originally started this blog with a very specific point of view- WW follower and wildly inspired restaurant employee. I am no longer any of those things.

So I am changing gears.

I have held off on any blog posts recently because I felt like I owed everyone some background on my absence. I couldn’t start a post and just drop in, “Well, I quit Weight Watchers” without some sort of explanation. I have a few posts in mind and one I have been working on so keep an eye out for the new direction.

I will eventually get around the changing around the “About Me” section of the blog but for now, here’s my new focus: eating right while managing two young kids (10 months and 3 ½) while using short cuts to eat as healthfully, locally and seasonally as possible.

Thank you everyone for your support and any all and “mommy” tips would be appreciated. Let’s just say, I have a whole new appreciation for parents. Like, WHOA.

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Vegetables

I totally forgot to add this link to my post yesterday and it’s probably my favorite. I feel like I am constantly trying to eat for veggies and, why not, most of them are zero point on Weight Watchers! I have been utilizing all of these ideas recently and they really work. Veggies can bulk up anything you are eating quickly and easy!

#1: Shop for veggies one day a week. This one is easy to follow if you visit a farmer’s market once a week. Set aside $20 each week and wander around the market and ask what is best that week. Fruits and Vegetables can have short seasons, so this will ensure that you can try the best of each season’s bounty! Right now, load up on squash (butternut, acorn, kombucha), apples, beets, brussels sprouts, and root vegetables (carrots, kohlrabi, celery root). A good rule of thumb is try to and make your plate look like a rainbow.

#2: Prep your veggies. I don’t usually cut up my veggies but I do remove them from the bags/containers and organize them nicely in a colander or two. I wash them all and then put them in the fridge still in the colander. It makes them look pretty (almost on display) and it’s easy to see what you have to use. I find I waste a lot less by doing this.

#3: Breakfast. Adding peppers, onions, broccoli or even brussels sprouts to an omelette or scrambled eggs. Or try…

#4: Blendtastic. Try making a fruit and veggie smoothie in the morning. If you have a lot of dark, leafy greens that might go bad before dinner time, try my kale smoothie. This is a great way to sneak in a serving or two of vegetables.

#5: Snack time. I always have cucumbers, bell peppers and baby carrots in my fridge. Always. I also always keep some sort of healthy dip in there- baba ganoush, hummus and tzatziki are my favorites. It takes about 3 minutes to chop up the peppers and cucumber and these snacks are guilt free!

#6: Lunch. Salad in a mason jar. Enough said.

#7: Dinner. Cooking veggies in a crock pot is a great but not everyone has one sitting on their counter. I love roasting vegetables, especially all the fall/winter root veggies. Just cut them into bite size pieces, spread out in a single layer on a cookie sheet (lining with foil or parchment will make clean up a breeze), drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. It will probably take a bit longer than 20 minutes, so check them at that time and then check them every 5 minutes until they are done to your liking (it will probably take more like 30-45 minutes).

#8: Dessert. I haven’t personally tried using vegetables in dessert but think zucchini bread, banana bread, etc. Or anything pumpkin- just try using another type of squash!

I hope this helps some of you eat more vegetables. Let me know any tips or tricks you might have!

Crispy Pizza Dough

Two posts in one day! I wanted to try this recipe out a few times before posting but here it is: the best crispy pizza dough recipe! I have been making my own pizza dough for a while but I could never get the flour/water ratio right. Like most recipes I develop, I also research at least 5-7 recipes online before grabbing my favorite ideas from each and putting them together.

I was working on putting some ideas together about two weeks ago when I stumbled upon this recipe from Bon Appetit. I decided to just go for it and see how it turned out. I altered it only slightly (used my hands to mix instead of a processor). It was PERFECT! I rolled it out as thinly as possible and it is perfectly crispy and crunchy.

Crispy Pizza Dough

3/4 cup warm water

1 envelope active dry yeast

2 cups (+ 1/2 cup divided for kneading and rolling) all purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions
Pour 3/4 cup warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.

Add yeast mixture and 3 tablespoons oil to dry ingredients and mix (using your hands is easiest) until the dough is stringy.

Transfer to lightly floured surface and knead dough until smooth, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is very sticky, about 5 minutes (the original recipe calls for one minute but I found it worked well by kneading it a little longer because I didn’t use a processor to mix it).

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turn dough in bowl to coat with oil.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough, roll into a large ball and then divide into 4 equal-sized dough balls.

Wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap (or, better yet, an air-tight container) and refrigerate for up to 4 days before using (you can freeze the dough balls for up to a month as well- just be careful of freezer burn- and let it thaw in the fridge for at least 24 hours before using).

WW Points: 6 points per dough ball (makes 4 pizza dough balls)

Brianna’s Poppyseed Dressing

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Hi all! I know it’s been a while since I posted… again. So here’s a quick post about my new favorite salad dressing!

Whenever I visit my family in Maine, I have to make a visit to my favorite restaurant Huot’s. We have known the owner, Denise, and her family since I was young and Huot’s is a part of all my Maine memories. When I was younger, I would go for fried haddock sandwich with french fries but now that I’m more health-conscious I order the clamcake and a house salad with poppyseed dressing. Before Huot’s, I didn’t even know poppyseed dressing existed so I was surprised to I find it on Westside Markets shelves a few weeks ago.

The Brianna’s poppyseed dressing is now a staple in my refrigerator and I find myself using it on all kinds of salads and vegetables. It is great on a simple salad with some cut up fruit, such as strawberries or grapes, or even on top of avocado or peaches on its own. I find myself looking for reasons to use that and for $3.99 a bottle it’s a pretty hard deal to beat!

WW Points: 4 points for 2 tbsp (I only use 1 tbsp on my salads)

Street Tacos

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NYC has some amazing street food. Everyone knows the Halal stalls that speckle every street corner but finding a great taco can be a little challenging. My go-to taco place is called La Fiesta about 5 blocks from my apartment. In fact, La Fiesta is so good it has become the standard to which I compare all other tacos.

Tonight I’m out in Sunnyside Queens visiting some friends. I had a little time to kill and I was starving so I decided to try out a taco truck right next to the 46th St stop on the 7 train. Although it was not quite up to par with La Fiesta, it was well worth $2.50 a taco for a quick meal on the go.

I went with al pastor is essentially a central-Mexican pork based version of shawarma- think Turkish diner kebabs. This version was not the most authentic take on pastor but it had great flavor and the fresh cilantro, radish and lime were the perfect addition. Ill definitely stop back next time in the neighborhood for a freshly made meal for under $5!

I NEED HELP!

I’m in the middle of a “writer’s” block and I can’t find my way out! I’m not sure if other cooks out there ever experience a string of a few weeks where you feel like you are cooking and eating the same thing over and over again but you can’t find the inspiration to try something new! That’s where I am. I have been reading cookbooks and doing online searches and I can’t find the one recipe to get me going. It doesn’t help that I am in the middle of 10 days of work (!) without a day off- all I want to do it relax and watch TV during the day before I head into a long night at the restaurant. This is how my bad habits formed in the first place!

So here is where you can help. Do you have any recipes that you’ve always wanted to try but have never taken the plunge? Or how about a recipe that you make all the time but want to try and cut some calories? SEND THEM MY WAY! I need the inspiration to get out of this rut!

Please leave comments with links to recipes, a list of ingredients or just the name of a dish! I’ll figure it out and post about it! I would love to have some dinner options but I am open to desserts, appetizers, snacks, etc. 

Thanks everyone for your continued support and for reading my blog! Your comments and “likes” on facebook are what keep me going! I promise to try every recipe at some point this summer and I’ll blog about making it and how it turns out! Thanks!!