Eating for Energy in New York City


Last week, I went to New York City for Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. I spent Sunday through Friday there and was working long hours almost every single day. I had a blast and came back utterly exhausted. However, one thing that kept me going through the week was eating healthy food. New York City is a Mecca for foodies. You can find every type of cuisine you could possibly imagine there and every street corner has a vendor just waiting to tempt you with their delicious fare. I was determined that I wouldn't splurge on calories and fat while in New York City. I wanted to eat for energy.

I started every single morning with a trip to Pax Wholesome Foods and had oatmeal with brown sugar and either raisins, apples or strawberries. This really hit the spot. I had a small cup of English Breakfast tea with vanilla soy milk to go with it. This was so filling and so energizing that I would be good until 12:30 pm, even without a snack. Which is virtually unheard of in my world. For lunch, I'd have a light meal. Early on in the trip, a few of us went to a nearby Whole Foods. I bought two lunch packs. One with tuna, apples, celery and crackers and another one with quesadillas, salsa, guacamole, plantain chips, mango and pineapple. Those made for great lunches. I kept them cold in the fridge of my hotel room and brought them with me to the show. When I had finished both of them, I would buy salads in the morning at Pax along with my breakfast. This was a great way to avoid the temptation of all the bad food for sale at the convention center. For dinner, I would splurge a little more but not too much more. I tried to cut out as many complex carbohydrates and fat as I could and tried to eat as many vegetables as I could. 

The beauty of my plan was that not only did I avoid bad eating traps by sticking to a routine, I would also get motivated by how successful I was those first couple of days and that would keep me going. The result? I had a lot of good energy. The food I ate fueled me. I didn't have to snack all the time, I didn't need lots of caffeine and I wasn't weighed down by pizza, pastries and coffee. Overall, a success! I will definitely keep this in mind next time I go on a vacation or business trip when I'll be on the go a lot and will need lots of energy. 

Engagement Dinner


On Sunday, Carlos and I got engaged. He proposed to me on rocks of the beach of Conomo Point (in the Essex, MA area). It's our favorite beach spot. I had an inkling that he was going to propose soon but didn't know it would be then. He presented me with a beautiful engagement ring. Of course I said yes! These past two years with Carlos have been wonderful. I'm very lucky to have him in my life.


For dinner, I made steak tips with roasted red potatoes and steamed green beans. We popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate. The dinner was so-so. I had never made steak tips before and I bought the wrong cut of meat. Oops! Oh well. The potatoes were delicious but Carlos had almost half of them before we sat down for dinner. And poor Carlos almost choked on a piece of meat. Ack! I can't lose him now that I have him locked down for marriage!



Before I left for my business trip in New York, Carlos asked me to get him a slice of authentic New York style cheesecake to bring back to him. Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity. So to make it up to him, I made a cheesecake. It took so long that we had a couple of hot slices. Cold is so much better though and was more delicious on the second day.

Sunday was a day I'll never forget. I'm such a lucky woman to be spending the rest of my life with the man of my dreams.

Magnum Ice Cream Bars


Magnum Ice Cream bars come in many flavors. Almond (as seen above), Double Caramel, Double Chocolate, Classic Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream, White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate. I recently got an opportunity to try out one of these ice cream bars as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program. Since Carlos and I are Almond fanatics (we eat plain almonds, cocoa almonds, butter toffee almonds, cinnamon sugar almonds and we drink almond milk), I decided to get a pack of the Almond version. The bar had vanilla bean ice cream and a Belgian chocolate coating with slivers of almond.

Thoughts: These were flipping amazing. The experience of eating one of the Magnum Almond Ice Cream Bars is the equivalent of having an orgasm. I have a devotion to Belgian Chocolate. It's on my list of food items I would like at a last meal if I could decide what I would have. A trip to Europe always ended in several boxes of Belgian Chocolate being transported back to the United States. So Belgian Chocolate is always a winner in my book. The almonds gave a crunch to the bar in addition to what the frozen chocolate did but there were there more for texture rather than flavor. The ice cream inside was real vanilla bean ice cream (you can see the specks of vanilla bean!) and was very rich and creamy. The Magnum bars were luxurious and decadent. My only complaint? That there are only 3 in a box. There should really be four. It was awkward after Carlos and I had one each and we noticed that there was only one left. We had to share the last one. Sharing these should never be an option.



I had a difficult time finding these at first but then my local Market Basket started carrying them. So look for them in the freezer section of your local grocery store. Oh and buy 2 packs so you have an even count. They are a bit on the pricey side but if you keep them in your freezer and save them for special occasions (for example, when you really need a pick-me-up) they are worth the investment.

Full Disclosure: I received a coupon to try one box of Magnum Ice Cream Bars as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program. My opinions are my own.

Episode: True Life - I'm Addicted to Food

If you haven't seen this already, I highly recommend that you do. True Life is an MTV series that looks at the lives of young people through important topics and themes. In this episode, 2 young people who are addicted to food are profiled. They way young people are abusing their bodies by misusing food scares me. Just thinking of how much fast food I ate as a child and how many health problems resulted from it (reactive hypoglycemia, lactose intolerance, digestive issues, ulcer in the esophagus), I've been really thinking about how we need to help people, of all ages, understand that their bodies are their temples and this type of abuse will cost them in the long run. If you have 40 minutes to spare, please watch this!

You like me, you really like me!

I am always unbelievably flattered when anyone tells me they've made one of my recipes. It makes me happy in ways that words cannot accurate describe. Here are two recent examples of friends who have tried out some Thoughtful Eating recipes!

The first is from Meghan, copy editor and world traveler extraordinaire. Meghan is a former coworker of mine who moved to the Netherlands with her husband. She makes my Portuguese Pork & Clams (Carne de Porco a Antejana) recipe on a regular basis (really?!). Meghan writes the wonderful blog Unquiet Time and recently featured pictures of her Shrimp version of the dish in her post entitled Portuguese Cooking in Holland. Thank you Meghan!


Source: Unquiet Time

Then there is Danielle from the fabulous blog There's a Book (and she also is a co-editor of Chick Lit Reviews). Danielle is a wonderful book blogger and mother of two adorable and book hungry kiddos. On Twitter, she recently asked what she should make for her Vegan friend who was coming over to dinner. I responded with a link to my Vegan Almond-Raspberry Chocolate Cupcakes. And guess what? She made them and sent me this photo of the result! Thank you Danielle!



Mother's Day Lunch and a Hail Storm


On Saturday I took my mother out for an early Mother's Day lunch. We went to Nello's Cafe in Ashland, MA which is one of her top favorite restaurants. She knows the owner who is a frequent shopper at the store my mom works at. We always have a great time there. My mom got their Baked Haddock lunch special.



I made my own meal from their Mussels in White Wine appetizer and a side of fries. A sort of Moule et Frites!






We shared an Apple Crisp for dessert. 


Right when it was time to leave we took a look outside and saw that it was hailing! Big chunks of slushy ice was falling from the sky. Wow. What a strange sight to see my car covered in ice in the middle of May!

I hope all the moms out there had a wonderful Mother's Day.

Southampton Wedding Eating Adventure - Day 3

The third day of our adventure started off pretty rocky. First we tried to have breakfast at Oso Restaurant.



But it turns out they open late on Sundays and we were hungry.




Also, I really wanted to swim in the pool and even though the receptionist told us it would be open Sunday May 1st it turns out she BLATANTLY LIED TO US and it opened May 15th. Clearly, I was not happy.



So instead, we went out to a place called Shippy's to see if they had breakfast. But they didn't. Not only that! I got a flat tire. Grrr. So we walked to The Golden Pear to eat before we replaced the tire.


I had a mini egg and cheese sandwich. It was on a whole wheat roll and had Vermont Cheddar Cheese! Have I told you how much I LOVE Vermont Cheddar Cheese?!


Then I had a mini version of the Hearty Oatmeal with brown sugar, berries, bananas and cinnamon that I had the day before. Wonderful!




Somehow we made it to the Ferry after having to swap my flat tire for my spare tire, inflate my spare tire and drive to the ferry to make it in time. We made it by the skin of our teeth! Only 5 minutes before it left. Phew.



On the Ferry, I got a Turkey Club on Whole Wheat. The sign said pickles. There were no pickles in the sandwich. There were also no tomatoes. I was not a happy camper.



But the best part was that we made it home safe and sound. And even with the long journey home, it was still a wonderful weekend. Thanks for reading!

Southampton Wedding Eating Adventure - Day 2

We started Day 2 of our Southampton Wedding adventure with a walk around the center of town. The receptionist at the hotel recommended that we stop by a place called The Golden Pear. It's literally the only place in the area where you can get a hot breakfast and a nice cuppa hot tea or joe in the morning. Otherwise, your grumbling tummy will be unhappy as you stroll by the endless preppy clothes store fronts that line the Southampton blocks.





I had a bowl of Hearty Oatmeal with brown sugar, berries, bananas and cinnamon. It came with a side of melon and extra berries. Delicious! I felt good eating this because I knew it was healthy and would fill me up with good fiber.



Carlos got their Southwestern Omelet Wrap that came with chorizo and all sorts of fixings (he asked for it without salsa, he is a restaurant diva remember?!).


Then it was wedding time!



After the wedding, there was a cocktail hour at Oso Restaurant, part of the Southampton Inn. 


They passed out some amazing appetizers including crab cake balls, shrimp cake balls, teriyaki sticks, bruschetta, etc. There was also a spread of assorted cheeses, crackers, crudite and fruit. It was open bar so I got a couple of Sea Breezes which is a cocktail that consists of vodka, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice. I had never had one before and boy was it tasty. I didn't feel the alcohol until the second one and by then I was ready to PARTAY!



Here is the bride and groom's dining table with all sorts of appetizers from the cocktail hour. See Derek Jeter in the back? Yeah ignore him! Carlos and I are Bosox fans all the way!




First course was a lovely and simple Caesar salad served with a roll and some butter. Perfect! 


The table setting was stunning. The bridge chose a green and black theme which I thought was very stylish.



There were four main courses to chose from. A vegetarian option, a meat option, a chicken option and a fish option. The meat option was Braised Shortribs topped with fried onion strings, mashed potatoes with rosemary and a side of broccoli and carrots. I don't have Shortribs often so I chose that option right away. It was absolutely scrumptious!


The wedding cake!


This cake was magnificent. A really rich yellow cake with dulce de leche between the layers. Spectacular. If I hadn't eaten so much, I would have stolen my neighbor's slice.


After dinner, Carlos went out to smoke a cigar with the menfolk.





It was a wonderful day indeed! And it was great to celebrate the wonderful relationship and promising future of two dear friends.

Southampton Wedding Eating Adventure - Day 1

Carlos and I headed out to Southampton in Long Island, NY for the wedding of two very good friends. Carlos was one of the groomsmen in the wedding party so we stayed for a long weekend so that Carlos could attend the wedding rehearsal the previous day. We watched a little bit of the Royal Wedding on TV then headed out in our car for New London, CT to catch the ferry to Orient, NY. I packed a Mediterranean themed picnic lunch so we could eat before we hopped onto the ferry.


Lo and behold the Mediterranean feast!


First we started off with Mediterranean Style Pasta Salad: Tri-Color Rotini, Sliced Pepperoncini, Tuna, Kalamata Olives, Parsley, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper to taste. Perfect meal to make ahead and pack for the next day.


I also packed some Stacy's Pita Chips in Parmesan Garlic & Herb flavor plus a bag of baby carrots I picked up at Wilson Farm. Oh by the way, all and I mean ALL of the produce comes from Wilson Farm. In fact, the produce in all of my posts and all of my recipes comes from that wonderful place.


We sat on a bench outside the ferry and ate while we waited to board. Doesn't Carlos look happy to be eating?


Next up was some fresh Mediterranean Fruit Salad: Sections of Mandarin Oranges, Slices of Kiwi and some Red Grapes. Delicious!


I also made a big batch of Oatmeal Date Cookies. Take your favorite Oatmeal Raisin Cookie and replace the raisins with chop dates! Then voila. You have a nice Mediterranean treat.


Ahoy! It's off we sail from New London, CT to Orient, NY. Carlos is commanding the ferry's caption, who is probably ignoring him.


Off we go! Oh wait, we are still at harbor.


When we arrived at the hotel, we had a complimentary goodie bag waiting for us! It was quite lovely. A small bottle of hard cider with two small drinking cups and bride & groom decorated chocolate dipped oreos! I had the groom one because I figured Carlos would want to eat the decolletage on the bride one.


The rehearsal dinner was family style. Crusty Italian Bread with butter, Mixed Green Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, 3 types of pasta dishes (the Rigatoni Bolognese was my favorite) and a slice of the Grooms Cake for dessert. The cake was lemon flavored (I think) and Carlos hesitated eating it because the entire cake was emblazoned with the New York Yankees logo. Us folks are from Boston. We no like no stinking Yankees! So we ate the cake but not the frosting.


Carlos, seen here, was very late to the rehearsal dinner because he had to do a wardrobe change. I was worried he wouldn't have food so I plated him some salad and pasta and ordered him a drink before he arrived in case all the food disappeared. I'm a good girlfriend aren't I?


As a gift, I got a small bag of bride & groom chocolate dipped pretzels to take home with me!

Stay tuned. Day two of our Southampton Wedding Eating Adventure is next.

What's the strangest thing you've eaten?

*WARNING: If you are Vegan, do not, I repeat DO NOT, read this post.

My father is from Portugal and my mother is from the Dominican Republic and I was born and raised in the U.S. So needless to say, with the cuisines from 3 different countries (and much more via friends, family, restaurants, etc.), I did not grow up to be a picky eater. When I was a child, I ate everything. I was pretty adventurous. Not to say I didn't give my parents a difficult time like most kids do when it comes to food. My only thing was that I wasn't a member of the clean-plate club. So while my parents struggled to get me to eat enough, they never had to struggle to get me to try new things because there were always new and different things to try.

So I started thinking about the strange stuff I've eaten. When I say "strange", I just mean your average American doesn't consume these things on a regular basis or at all.

Goat 



~ My dad cooked Goat a few times for the family. I haven't had it in eons and am curious to try it again as an adult. I just remember the meat being very very red, very fibrous and it having a really strong taste.


Rabbit


source: iFood.tv

~ my neighbor used to buy rabbits by the crate full and would kill them in his garage. He would resell to Portuguese families in the area but would sometimes give us one for free. Unfortunately, I watched him kill about 30 rabbits once and skin them. Not one of my fondest memories. I can't say I would eat rabbit again. I remember it distinctly tasting like a cross between wild game poultry and goat meat. I hope my vegan friend who owns a lovely pet rabbit will not read this and disown me!

Pigs Ears



~ gross huh? As an adult, I see pig ears as a dry treat for dogs. As a child and a teen, I used to eat them boiled and very rarely with sauce. I preferred them to pig feet which I thought were plain gross. Pig ears are fleshy on the outside and they have a layer of crunchy-chewy cartilage in the middle. If you are particular about texture, these are not for you. I had a pigs ear once that had hair still attached. I was traumatized and couldn't eat them ever again.

Chicken Feet



~ Can't say I ever cared for these. I tried them a few times but they are really skin on bone. Not much too them. My mom, however, grew up eating Chicken Feet in soup. Whenever we would go to the Dominican Republic (or even in Portugal sometimes), she would always ask for Chicken Foot soup with extra chicken feet.

Chicken Hearts



source: Law & Food

~ In a third-world country, you eat ALL the parts of the animal. Nothing goes to waste. My mother brought this mentality with her when she moved to the States. She would cook chicken hearts sometimes . She either saved the hearts from whole chickens or would buy a pack of them separately. I remember they were always fried and served with rice. I enjoyed them and would eat them again if given the opportunity. Not sure I would cook them myself though.

Snails


Source: Catavino

~ As a young girl, I remember visiting Portugal and seeing snails. Everywhere! Especially on the sides of houses. How do you control the population of snails? Eat them! Escargot is popular in Portugal. You can snack on them like beer nuts at your local Portuguese bar. I thought they were interesting but not worth the effort of fishing them out of their shells. I would have them again if I went back to Europe.

Beef Tripe




~ Mondongo is a Latin American recipe popular in the Caribbean, including the Dominican Republic. Traditionally it consists of beef tripe cooked in a tomato broth and served with garbanzo beans or some type of tuber like potatoes or yucca. It's pretty tasty over all but I could never get over the texture of the tripe. However, I am really interested in trying to cook this myself. Or at least having it again after so many years.

Beef Tongue


Beef Tongue


~  Do you hate me yet? Beef Tongue is a Portuguese & Latina American delicacy. Lengua (tongue) is boiled, the skin & bristle removed and then sliced and usually slow cooked in a soup or stew. Or at least in some sauce. I honestly don't even remember what it tastes like. But I do have a distinct memory of my mom bringing a big old cow tongue home from the grocery store.

Octopus



~ We eat this every Christmas! Check out my family's Christmas spread in my post about last year's holiday feast. My dad buys octopus frozen and has a special technique for boiling it. He cools off the hot octopus and dresses it with vinegar, olive oil, onions and garlic. It's very tasty.


Squid with ink


Source: Wikipedia

~ Lulas guisadas - Stewed Calamari is one of my absolute favorite Portuguese dishes. I ate it so often as a child and teenager. It's difficult to get the authentic stuff in the States unless you make it yourself or go to a Portuguese restaurant that knows what they are doing. Last time I was in Lisbon, I was adventurous and had some of my dad's Lula dish. The difference between these lulas and lulas guisadas? The calamari rings were bathed in the Squid's own ink. Blech. It was horrible. The ink tasted like liquid char. Pass.

Eels



~ Whenever we went out to a restaurant in Portugal, my dad just had to order eel stew (caldeira de enguias) at least once. And he would always complain "mais enguias!" (more eel!). I know I've had them numerous times as a child (both in a stew and fried) but honestly I don't remember what they taste like. Most likely, the flavor and texture is akin to a dense fish like mahi-mahi but with a more fishy taste.

Fish Heads


Source: Noob Cook

~ Well, to be honest. I really mean Fish eyes because Fish heads don't have much going for them. I didn't like eating fish heads as a child. My dad would fry whole fish and leave the heads on. Out of curiosity, I would eat an eye or two. Not one of my best moments.

So what's the strange thing you've eaten?

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