Monday, March 27, 2006

South Beach Diet Weekend - Lots of Good Eats

Normally our weekends are what really kill us - food wise, anyway. We'll go out for dinner and have some decadent dessert after eating baskets of fresh rolls to start and everything else in-between. Saturdays typically start with running around town dropping off the dry cleaning, doing grocery shopping….you know, the usual stuff. So naturally we need fuel and we often go to our favorite family restaurant for breakfast to be served by our favorite waitress Effy ( a Greek version of my stepmother, who I love). She knows exactly what we want to order – calling “the yuzzul” (to double check in case we've decided to be adventurous) as we head to a table. That’s scrambled eggs for my Honey and poached eggs for me accompanied by Canadian (we call it pea meal) bacon – so far a South Beach breakfast, but then we have to kill it with toast (preferably white) and the side order of home fries. Oh – and I like jam on my second piece of toast – my breakfast dessert!

By the time we’ve put away the groceries and whatever else we’ve missed lunch (or worse ate a giant burger with fries at The Longest Yard - a great bar style restaurant) and instead relax in front of the TV munching crackers or crusty baguettes with cheeses – and of course one of my favorites is Brie (can’t get much richer than that). That’s only the beginning of the weekend munch fest. There’s always chocolate and who knows what else. If I’ve found some Whippets (marshmallow sitting on a cookie base and coated with dark chocolate) while grocery shopping, they’ll probably be gone before the weekend is over. Bottom line – we’re never really full because we never really stop munching – very bad habit! Then there’s ordering in – something we often do on a Saturday night – pizza, Chinese, Thai, Greek…whatever it is you can be sure it’s loaded with bad carbs and unhealthy fat.

Sundays don't start out much more SBD friendly, starting with French toast often not eaten until close to noon. For a while now, we frequently have family over to taste test some recipe for the cookbook. Now, actually (as my cousin who is also on the South Beach Diet and one of my recipe testers pointed out) most of the recipes in the book are SBD friendly. Unfortunately, most of those have already gone through my round of testing, photographing and editing. Now I’m left with not so South Beach friendly recipes like cheese blintzes (fine for later, just not for Phase One), frozen daiquiri soufflé (for those special occasions), and the one I’ve been waiting for my sister to come over and eat – creamed salmon on toast, our childhood favorite. We used to call it barf on toast – canned salmon, corn niblets, peas, mushrooms (my mother used canned, I sauté fresh in butter), cream of mushroom soup served on white sliced bread, the kind that’s so processed, it seems to stay fresh forever. All that to say, lately Sunday suppers are not that South Beach Diet friendly.

But this weekend was different. We actually did decide to go out to dinner Friday evening – we were debating whether or not we could be mature enough to handle it, but we ventured out to see what we could find in the neighborhood. We passed a favorite Indian restaurant, but how could we go in there and NOT have Nan bread with everything even if we could forego the rice. Next up the street was a new Thai restaurant – NO to that one –rice to sop up sauces, spring rolls and Pad Thai. Then of course there was St Louis Bar & Grill which has the best chicken wings in town. We quickly averted our eyes and raced past! Lots of Italian trattoria choices – too tempting for creamy pastas for me and pizzas for my honey.

So we ended up at a new restaurant called Lola’s – very French Bistro with soft jazz playing and super friendly staff. It’s tiny, very narrow and maybe seats 30 with an exposed kitchen up front by the door. And if you think your kitchen is small, you should see theirs. I should never complain again! Of course I probably will. So we told the waiter not to bring us bread. We passed up what looked like a nice selection of wine and went home for dessert (I had Jello, my honey had vanilla crème). But the main course was fabulous! My honey had sirloin that was melt-in-your mouth tender and so flavorful I almost moaned when I tasted it. I had blackened halibut that was equally tasty. We had told our waiter about the diet and to hold on the delish sounding mashed potatoes so we had blanched green beans and baby carrots, served tender crisp and vibrant looking on the plate. On our way out we chatted with the chef who was stirring the daily special – short ribs marinated for five days in Stella Artois (that’s beer for you non drinkers). I’m still thinking (and drooling) about it as I write this post on Monday morning because it would have been my first choice…but all in all, we were very mature and I’m proud of us!

Saturday started with an easy omelet filled with asparagus, mushrooms, sliced chicken and shredded cheese. We started our day later than the usual weekday 6:30 routine, so breakfast was around 9 or so. Did the groceries (this time I had actually planned next week’s menus, I’m usually more spontaneous a cook, but it is our last week of SBD Phase One - Yay and Hooray!!!) so I'm really trying to be more focused and regimented. .

We had a delicious Greek Salad for lunch and the usual Jello/vanilla crème desserts.

Supper was salmon roasted on a bed of fresh dill served with steamed yellow and green beans tossed with just a touch of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and some freshly ground black pepper. This is frequent choice for us. No matter how many ways I make salmon, this is my favorite. It really allows the natural richness of the fish to come shining through.

Obviously, we ended with the usual desserts – I won’t keep mentioning them, because they will always be the same as is true for snacks – mid morning chunk of cheese; mid afternoon, cheese and ½ glass of V8 juice and I know we probably shouldn’t, but evening snack of almonds – it’s our worst time when usually the chocolate and cookies come out strong, so I don't feel too guilty.

Sunday morning, instead of French toast was a spinach frittata – no picture because it tasted better than it looked. Lunch was some split pea soup I had in the freezer, and I thought I’d try the South Beach Diet ham rollups. Big mistake – first – mine did not look like the picture in the little South Beach Diet magazine I picked up at the grocery store. They kept falling apart as we ate them. Second – and more important….if I’m going to stick a wrap in my mouth it better be a tortilla! Oh, did that sound bitchy? Too bad! I’m starting to dream about the first piece of bread I’ll have next week to celebrate the end of Phase One and the beginning of Phase Two - probably Ace Bakery crusty multi grain bread...maybe I'll head over to Whole Foods and check out options...oops, I digress, back to Sunday.

Dinner on the other hand was delicious. We had lamb chops, marinated in lemon juice, garlic and rosemary grilled on the BBQ served with mashed cauliflower and stir fried baby bok choy. Yum!
I spent a good part of the afternoon baking more vegetable quiches for our breakfasts for the week as well as making Jello and vanilla crème for desserts.

One problem with the diet (and I hope it’s only because it’s the most intense phase where you really are forcing yourself to change your eating habits) is the obsessive focus on the act of eating, particularly on forcing oneself to eat when you’re not hungry. I much prefer to be more spontaneous.

Anyway, enough blabbing about the diet – at least for today. Here are some of the recipes I used.


1 comment:

Cathy said...

I could never go without carb, but your recipes sound great.