Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It has been a while

John here ...

First off, let me congratulate Matt on being 11.5 lbs down as of this past weekend. Home boy is dominating and it ain't stopping any time soon. To put it in 1980's terms so Matt can comprehend it, he has the "eye of the tiger". Keep on keepin on my brutha.

It had been two weeks since we were able to get out of the office for lunch together and it was having an affect on our relationship. I found myself very short with him and easily irritated. If I had a work related question for him, he wouldn't give me the time of day when answering. It was a brutal few weeks but these are things we have to endure. You have to really want it in order to make it through.

We ended our drought this past week and thankfully, didn't miss a beat. It felt like it did back in the early days when we were care free and spontaneous. We were back at Wegmans (one of us dramatically lighter) and all was right with the world.

I can't remember what Matt ate for lunch but I do remember him schooling me on the benefits of salmon. If it has been written up in Men's Health, Matt has read it and shared it with me. So if I had to guess, he had sushi with salmon ... wait ... now I remember. He had some sort of sushi with sweet potatoes in it. Go figure. I didn't know that it was even a possible to mix fish and sweet potatoes. But again, I remember also being educated on the top "super foods" and sweet potatoes were at or near the top

Dude knows his shit.

We finished lunch and thankfully had some time to wander the aisles at Wegmans. Because I am just about in the same class as professional bodybuilders, I made a beeline to the protein powder.               

Don't kill the dream. You'll also notice some vanilla yogurts in the basket. Those are the only yogurts my son will eat. Another reason to bow at the altar of Wegmans.

Each and every time we "shop" after lunch, a trip to the "candy" aisle is a must. Yes I am 41 years old. My choices for the day were the following:

I know, tough call right? Beef Jerky or New Orleans Chili chocolate? Both sound so damn good, it is an impossible choice to make. 

I ended up passing on these options because $5.99 for a chocolate bar isn't my idea of a good time. As much as my curiosity was killing me, I just couldn't splurge. So I went back to a personal favorite that didn't break the bank:

Chocolate and sea salt "anything" is a winner and this one is no exception. 

Matt, aka Dr. Oz Lite, disappeared and after screaming his name and asking for help at Customer Service, I finally located him in the vitamin/remedy aisle. I snuck up on him and took this pic (cause that is what men in their 40's do, right?).

Do not adjust your monitor, that is him reviewing the nutritional information of chia seeds. What the f? Who is this guy? We're both up on nutrition and all of the trends, but this is in a new stratosphere. Of course now that he has since educated me on the benefits of said chia, I will now be buying it and reaping the benefits as well. One of us can never out do the other.    

At check-out, I was still laughing at the thought of chia seeds and wouldn't let Matt forget it. But as we exited Wegmans on our way back to the real world, I did something that trumped "Operation Chia".

True story.

I came to a halt when I saw a display of ... wait for it ... wait for it ... wait for it ... poinsettias.  

Many of you know that I am an avid gardener and plant lover but this was taking it too far. 

How hideous is that color by the way?

Anyway, I caused a back-up like we were on the Major Deegan and I'm pretty sure I saw Matt drop his head in shame. There were disgruntled housewives in workout clothes everywhere. A rubber-necking delay like no other. 

We have yet to discuss my faux pas since and I thank him for that.

All in all, it was good to get back in the groove and hopefully we won't hit such a dry spell again.    

Thursday, November 14, 2013

1 Cup vs 1/2 Cup

Matt here......

My buddy John is not making this Weight Watchers mission any easier by posting these insane mouthwatering pictures of chocolate caramel sea salt tarts and delightful looking doughnuts that could stop traffic. Thanks John for all the support, I appreciate it. 

This past Saturday yours truly was ready for his weekly weigh-in. I was feeling a bit anxious and wanted to see how I did after being pretty strict and counting every crumb that made it's way into my dish. Saturday mornings are the moment of truth and make me start to second guess myself. I'll say things like, "Maybe I should of had a 1/2 cup of rice instead of a whole cup", "Maybe I could have done without that bowl of cereal" or "I should of added some cayenne pepper to speed-up my metabolism".

Unreal...1 cup vs. 1/2 cup. Mr. Dainty. Wait, let me go put my make-up on and fix my skirt.   

During the week you could say I put away a few pomegranates (my favorite), Red Delicious apples the size of pumpkins (Thanks Costco) and enough bananas that would make King Kong proud (All zero point foods on WW).

Being a "carb-oholic", the night before weigh-in I make sure to ease up on all the evil foods and salt. Oh and by the way did I mention that I'm a salt addict as well? Uh Yeah. Can we stack the odds any higher against me succeeding on this mission? On the doctor's scale (conveniently located in the basement next to the exercise equipment that hasn't moved in 2 years) I go. Scared to death that I did something wrong or miscalculated my points during the week, I start to move the little metal scale slider trying to pin-point my weight right down to the quarter pound. Yes, 3 pounds lighter! What a relief, 3 weeks and 9 lbs. Whew, now I can enjoy the rest of my weekend and forget about "1 cup vs. 1/2 cup"

Earlier this week, my wife and I went to her favorite place Whole foods for lunch. She chose to go with her usual favorite salad stuff (You can bank on some kind of Kale, Cabbage and Beets to be included in that container). I on the other hand went in a different direction and did a little browsing of the various food stations whole foods had to offer. Wouldn't you know, I found myself in a trance at the brick oven pizza station. Sure you must be thinking I was ready to cheat huh? I know, given up on me already. Nope, not me, I went for the Balsamic Broccoli Rabe and Pesto on Flat Bread Pizza. Yeah Baby!

27 days into this. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Best Thing I've Ever Eaten

John here ...

My wife and I recently ate brunch at our absolute favorite spot - Lovin Oven - in Frenchtown, NJ. This restaurant is off the charts delicious and has an incredible local vibe. You can taste and smell the authenticity and it is the kind of place you could hang in for hours. But enough of my stellar review ...   

About two years ago I was watching the Food Network show - "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" - and the food being ogled over was a chocolate caramel sea salt tart

The Food Network personality discussing this ridiculously sweet looking dessert had me watching with my tongue hanging out. I had never seen anything look this good. And then when it was revealed that this beauty was from Lovin Oven, I almost fainted. You mean I can go like get this in under ten minutes by car? Holy crap'n crap.

Fast forward two years and I had yet to try it. Even after numerous trips eating at the Oven. Don't ask me why, there is no excuse.

But that all changed two weeks ago. After brunch my wife and I bought a slice and planned on sampling it as soon as we had room to eat again. That was about 38 seconds after we walked in the door at home. Out came the forks and we went to town.

Seriously, it was life changing. Decadent doesn't begin to explain it. The combo of caramel/sea salt/chocolate is always a win, but this was beyond that. It was magic and almost painfully good. Three bites in and I was done; it was that rich.

I think my wife and I talked about the tart for the next hour and that lead to the inevitable discussion of "what was the best thing we ever ate". This topic always pains me as it is an impossible exercise, especially if your memory has started to blur like mine has. I usually tend to blow it off and did this time as well ... until now.

Yes, welcome to my dissertation on "The Best Things I've Ever Eaten". I have broken it down into 4 categories:

Best appetizer
Best entree
Best dessert
Best drink

In line with my discussion on the Lovin Oven tart, today I will pontificate on my favorite dessert. And yes, there was something better than the chocolate sea salt dessert.

Back in 2000, my wife (and fellow foodie) took a ten day trip to San Francisco and Napa/Sonoma. The goal was to eat and drink ourselves (not necessarily in that order) to oblivion. And we did. Included in that eatapalooza was a trip to the "ultra difficult to get a reservation" French Laundry. It was the pinnacle of our trip. This is one of the top ten (at worst) restaurants in the country and yours truly was nervous about how to handle myself. I'll spare you the details, but just know there were close to ten courses and it was a three hour dinner. And the cast of Friends had been there the night before. I was that f'n cool.

And then to top it all off, this appeared for dessert: 

I can't even do it justice by trying to explain how fantastic it was. Read the recipe for Coffee and Doughnuts and you'll see what I am getting at. Imagine the best warm doughnut you ever had and then wrap that in another warm doughnut times three. Thrown in the "coffee" and it was death by deliciousness. Not only was it the best dessert I ever had, it was the best thing I've ever eaten. Pinky swear.  

Up next ... best appetizer I've ever eaten.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

For the love of Peanut Brittle

Matt here ...

Has your kid ever come home from school with one of those catalogs offering the most delicious looking chocolates? Sweets ranging from dark chocolate truffles to chocolate covered pretzels, cookies, gourmet hot chocolate and yes my all-time favorite, Peanut Brittle.

Ahhhhhh Peanut Brittle.

The kind where you run the risk of losing 3 teeth and detaching your gums right from the roof of your mouth. It really is one of my favorites and well worth the risk of requiring some serious dental work.

The problem with ordering from those catalogs is by the time you get your stuff, your kid is graduating from college. It's true. Recently, I came home from work and noticed a big box in the living room that just came in the mail. It was torn open with papers everywhere from the packaging but my eyes made it right to the box of gold. The Brittle. Our eyes made contact and for a moment everything just STOPPED (slight pause) and all I could hear is Etta James sing....."Attttt love has come along". For a moment it felt like it was just me and the Peanut Brittle alone in the room. The box I ordered from like 3 years ago had finally arrived.

So hear I am 18 days into counting Weight Watchers points and having to figure out how I am fitting in this sugary beast into my daily point allowance. There is no way I'm turning my back on this one.

Like most things on Weight Watchers you have to weigh your portions. I know, big pain in the ass. But if your gonna do it right you need a scale.

So, I break out the scale, tear open my new box of happiness and check to see how much of this brick with nuts (I said "brick") I can have.

3 points for this little niblet? Are you kidding me? Please look at that picture. Talk about portion control. This wouldn't satisfy a gnat.

So to make sure I don't have more then a fairy fly portion, I put them in 3 point Ziploc bags.

The next order I place is for the gourmet hot chocolate, that has to be lower in points, I think. 

Until next time.

Monday, November 4, 2013

My yogurt evolution

John here ...

I still remember the day, roughly 33 years ago, when I was watching the nightly news on TV (I was that evolved at age 8) and heard that the key to living to one hundred years of age was eating yogurt. This isn't the case of a fuzzy memory all these years later; I distinctly remember hearing those exact words and the effect it had on me. I was terrified of the concept of "death" at that age so the idea of living to three digits was one I took very seriously.

But I had a big problem ... the idea of yogurt disgusted me, like big time.

I could not watch someone mix the "fruit on the bottom" without dry heaving:
It looked so lumpy and curdled and that smell .... oh lord that smell ... it was like a combination of baby puke and spoiled milk. I could not imagine taking even one bite without vomiting all over the walls.

I had to accept that I would die way too young.

Fast forward 24 years and I was ready to embrace the idea of yogurt again. Healthy eating was finally on my radar and I was mature enough to give yogurt another whirl. I started with Dannon blueberry (the only one I was willing to try) and meticulously mixed the fruit and yogurt to the best consistency possible.

It wasn't too awful, but I didn't like it by any means. I fought on, determined to make myself enjoy it and its numerous benefits. Truth was though, this wasn't going to last. I was going to have to seek out my nutritional benefits elsewhere until ... I discovered "pre-mixed" yogurts, specifically:

The texture was perfectly smooth, that nightmare smell was eliminated and the taste was, well, bearable. But bearable was good. I was back on my path to living until the big century mark.

So now let's jump ahead a few more years, and I'm back to blowing off yogurt again. It just wasn't tasty enough to keep my interest but dammit, I knew that yogurt was too damn good to simply disregard.

And with that, we welcomed in the era of "greek yogurt". When comparing to your "traditional" yogurt, there was no comparison: 

Thicker consistency - check
Double the protein - check
Fewer carbs - check

I was all in and ready to make it a permanent part of my morning dining routine.

So I jumped right on the Chobani bandwagon.

Vanilla was my flavor of choice and I added fresh blueberries, homemade granola and whatever else fit my fancy. I swear to you I physically felt a difference. It was as if the bacteria was eating the badness out of my intestines. For the next year or so, I probably had yogurt 5 out of every 7 mornings and as a snack 1 or 2 additional days.

But best of all, it tasted phenomenal. Home boy was hooked.

But we're not finished there. No, it gets even better.

One day, a few months ago, my wife was eating this yogurt with a bunch of greek symbols on the container. The packaging looked odd to me but she insisted it was "to die for". I inspected these little cups and was intrigued by the separate compartment that held the fruit/mix-in. Was I up for the process of mixing in again? I was still damaged by this concept from my childhood.

My wife insisted that once I tried this yogurt, I would be hooked. She even referred to it as "tasting like a dessert". How could I not try it? She has never once steered me wrong (Steel Magnolias being the exception).

I tried one with "honey" and mixed it in as well as I possibly could. After one bite, I knew this was the real deal. Holy thickness, smoothness and creaminess. This stuff was killer. But we're not done yet (bet you never knew yogurt could be this dramatic?).

I tried a few other varieties of my new favorite greek yogurt but one was emerged as the victor:                                    

Fage blueberry yogurt. Holy deliciousness.

As I mentioned before, the blueberry mix is in its own attached compartment: 

I mixed it in with ease and was a happy camper. But guess what? You guessed it, yet even more yogurt excitement. 

Turns out, you aren't supposed to mix in/blend the blueberries into the yogurt. Nope, if you look carefully, the label on the container indicates one should take a dab of the blueberries and then dip it in the yogurt:

Dude, this is magical stuff. Perfection.

I have it EVERY morning and I would pay $10 a pop for these beauties. No lie.

I have found my yogurt and there ain't no going back.

See you in 2072.

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