A trip abroad (not really)

Friday, October 30, 2009

In the neighborhood near our office sometimes known as Little India is a tantalizing portal into the cuisines of many lands: Kalyustan’s Spices and Sweets. They sell specialty foods, cookbooks and cookware from Bangladesh to Belgium, with an emphasis on the Middle- and Near-East.

You can tell from the minute you walk in that you’re not in Kansas – or even New York – anymore by the overwhelming smell of mingled spices. On the right is the grocery, with items ranging from Australian crystallized ginger to Lebanese orange blossom water. On the left is the checkout counter, behind which is a broad collection of cookbooks, from Afghan Food & Cookery to Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia. Near the checkout you can also find bins of fresh nuts as well as exotic sweets, such as Macedonian Halva with pistachios (POINTS value warning!). My coworker Gene, with whom I go here a lot, buys almonds here once a week, and they’re incredibly fresh and crunchy.

At the second-floor takeout counter, you can get the old Middle-Eastern-food standby falafel, but tons of other stuff, including mujadara, a lentil pilaf and comfort-food extraordinaire. I get it stuffed in pita bread with babaganoush, lettuce and tomatoes, black olives and pickles. (I actually don’t like pickles so I give them to Gene.) If you find yourself waiting for lunch, you can always grab a Lychee juice drink made in Holland (another POINTS value warning!), or maybe some Green Apple Herb tea from the staggering tea selection. There are even housewares you can browse, from rice cookers to chaklas (used for making Indian bread). A few months ago, we saw Padma Lakshmi from Top Chef wandering the aisles here…she bought a specialty cooking pan.

You know how it seems like some lunches just cause you to overeat them? Well, if I want to avoid that I go to Kalyustan’s. There’s something about the magic of the place that allows me to get my sandwich, eat exactly half, and be perfectly happy. It could be because the single serving is flippin’ huge. Or because it’s so great, I want to save some. But I think by transporting myself with the sights and smells of this place, I end up more focussed on the adventure than the eating.

--Rebecca Turner


Categories: Eating out, Food, Fun


 

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Avoiding the Candy Coma

Friday, October 30, 2009

As a kid, I loved Halloween because it was a chance to play dress up and it was an excuse to eat candy. Although I now prefer crunchy salty snacks there’s still something about Halloween that seems to trigger my childhood cravings for sweets. Maybe because it stirs up so many food-related memories like sifting through my bag of candy from trick-or-treating and helping my best friend’s mom make delicious candied apples. Then there are the weeks that lead up to the holiday when every store I go into has aisle after aisle of candy displays. And there are always tempting treats around the office at this time of year too. So how do I cope?

I try to focus more on the activity aspect of the holiday. I still enjoy having fun, wearing costumes, going to parties or attending New York’s Village Halloween Parade. When I’m in stores, surrounded by sweets, I remind myself that most of the same candy is available year round so I won’t feel compelled to stock up because there’s a holiday sale. I also keep a few sugar-free strawberry Crème Savers (three pieces for a POINTS® value of 1) in my bag for a satisfying sweet fix. When at the office I make sure that I have wise snacks at my desk like fruit and individually wrapped 100 calorie snacks. I make sure to eat a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I give myself the latitude for small splurges on the holiday.

I’d love to hear how you handle Halloween temptations.


Categories: Food, My weight loss


 

Comments (see all 2 comments)

CEM918


10/30/2009 1:35 PM
Halloween is tough! Most years, I don't have to buy candy. The hours my husband and I work means we don't get home until after dark and most parents take their kids out earlier. When I do buy candy, like this year, I try to buy things I don't like. Even if I do, I bring the leftovers to work. It's hard having the candy in the house so I make sure I have some of the WW candy (English Toffe squares especially!) ,WW snack bars or other sweet snacks with 1 point value.

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Life in the Office

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You might think that because I work at Weight Watchers there isn’t any tempting food around the office. Well, you’d be wrong. I mean, we’re only human.

For starters, snack companies are constantly sending us their products to try out and write about. From alarmingly addictive coconut curry peanuts, to cookies to chocolate hazelnut wafers, we get it all. And we put it all on a communal table in our little part of the office. Need a little distraction? Why not go have a little nibble and chat with co-workers. Stressed about a deadline? Just go over and grab yourself a bag of baked potato chips that in all honesty isn’t that high in POINTS values, unless you eat the whole bag, which I’ve been known to do.

Then there are the treats my fellow workers bring from home. With Halloween approaching, there’s plenty of candy around the office. Even when Halloween isn’t approaching, there’s plenty of candy. Not to mention that we have some really good cooks working here. Oreo cookie cakes. Chocolate cheesecake brownies. Coconut cupcakes topped with homemade butter cream frosting and toasted coconut flakes. It’s all so good. It can feel more like a gourmet bakery around here than a bustling office.

And really, I can only resist so much before I completely give in to temptation. Like last week, I totally chowed down on some snack-size candy bars a coworker brought back from her trip to New Zealand. I don’t know what exactly I ate, but I do know that it was chocolate, and it was good, and I ate a lot of it.

If it seems like I’ve said this before, it’s because I have. That I continue to struggle with the same issues is frustrating, to be sure; but then again, it’s not end of the world. Long as I stick with the basic principles of the Plan, I know I’ll get back on track soon enough.

-Justin Marks


Categories: Food, My weight loss, Work


 

Comments (see all 1 comments)

MADTOWNMOTZIE (Heather)


10/29/2009 12:34 PM
OMG, that seems so wrong! A big tray of candy at the WW office!!! They obviously don't want you to reach Lifetime and stop paying, lol. Good luck!

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Marvelous Matte

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Third day in our beauty week: Matte Nail Polish

You may have already heard about OPI’s matte line, and now SpaRitual has gotten on the trend with their Mind.Body.Spirit collection. As a vegetarian, I appreciate that the shine-free polishes are vegan. And my sensitive skin really digs that the formula is formaldehyde-free.

So isn’t non-shine polish an oxymoron? It may be…but I like it. It’s a way to show your **** rock side without doing something that would make your fellow cubical-dwellers raise any eyebrows. The edgy, black “Body” color looked great on my short nails, and I can’t wait to try the purple “Spirit” next week.

And when the matte craze is over, just slip on a shiny topcoat and you’re good to go!

SpaRitual Mind.Body.Spirit Collection is available for $10.00 each at salons and spas (including Spa Halekulani, Canyon Ranch, and the Mandarin Oriental). For more info/locations, check out SpaRitual.com.

Your matte maven,
Laura March



Categories: Fun, General, Love & life, My weight loss, Shopping


 

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The Magic of Apples

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No, not in an apple-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away sort of manner. But rather, all the ways that apples can instantly enhance my food.

I love the sweet crunch of cubed apples in my salad (instead of croutons). I adore thickly sliced apples on my turkey sandwiches (instead if potato chips). And in my opinion, no peanut butter sandwich is complete without paper thin apple slices (kind of like fresh jelly).

So now I'm asking you, other than the usual cobblers and pies, how do you use apples in your meals?

Leslie Fink, MS, RD


Categories: Cooking, Food


 

Comments (see all 7 comments)

SUSANR


11/9/2009 8:52 PM
I love to bake apples with diet black cherry cola. It's so easy. You preheat oven to 375 degrees. Core 4 large apples almost to bottom leaving large hole. Peel 1/3 of the top Place in a deep pan large enough to hold apples. Mix 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup raisins together and fill the apples. Pour diet soda over apples and bake covered for 30 minutes, basting periodically. Remove, cover, and continue baking for 30 minutes, or until apples are soft when tested with a fork. 2 pt each

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A Hairy Situation

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Second day of our Beauty-Full week: Avon Hair Age Refining Collection

Truth: I’m 24 years old. Not the target audience for a hair “age refining” collection. However, I can’t imagine anyone’s mane could be drier or more brittle than mine (especially after the way I’ve treated it this summer) regardless of age. When Avon’s new line came across my desk, I jumped at the chance to test it out!

The foaming shampoo smells divine, and the conditioner tamed my split ends. After towel drying, I smoothed in the leave-in treatment, and it managed to keep the frizz to a minimum without weighing my hair down. After a weeks worth of testing, I can confidently say that it’s done its job; my hair is smoother and shinier. And at Avon’s prices, there’s no excuse for not trying it yourself!

Foaming Shampoo, $6 (currently on sale for $1.99!)
Treatment Rinse, $6 (also on sale for $1.99!)
Revitalizing Treatment, $6.99


Your Lady of Lovely Locks,
Laura March


Categories: Fun, General, Health, Love & life, Shopping


 

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Just In Case

Monday, October 26, 2009

First up for the week of beauty: Makeup sets from Target

I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to lighten up my messenger bag. My shoulders are constantly sore from the weight of magazines, a wallet, phone, iPod, pens, notepads, a digital camera, a miniature pharmacy and the fleet of extra makeup for after-work touch ups. I’m more than a little worried that I’ll end up like Quasimodo in a few years.

Which is why I’m a little obsessed with this season’s makeup sets being produced by Target’s indie designers. Anything to consolidate the massive amount of stuff I schlep around is worth a try!

Jemma Kid’s JK line translates the upscale UK makeup designer’s ideas into wallet-friendly pieces. Her Makeup Swivel Pallet is…wait for it…a JEM! The set includes a large mirror on top of four shadows (they combine to make the perfect smoky eye) a sheer cream blush, a rose lip gloss and a highlighter (which doubles as a cream shadow or gold lip gloss). All of these can be applied with a fingertip – very important when you need a quick fix.

The NP Set collection from Napoleon Perdis (an Aussie-turned-Hollywood makeup designer) draws its color inspiration from world capitals. I was immediately drawn to the three bronzy-green eyeshadows of the “Dublin” kit. This redhead has tried quite a few green eyeshadows, but I must say that these take the cake. First of all, the included half brush/half sponge is brilliant – no need to search for different tools to create a sharp cat eye or a smoldering smoky eye. And the colors themselves transfer from the palette to skin perfectly – what you see is what you get.

Anyone else have a favorite makeup kit they can’t leave home without?

Your smoky-eyed sister,
Laura March


NP Set Eye Palettes: $20
Jemma Kid Makeup Swivel Pallet: $32
Available at Target.


Categories: Fun, General, Love & life, My weight loss, Shopping


 

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A Beauty-Full week

Monday, October 26, 2009

In last week’s At Work meeting, our awesome leader Liz asked us to think about non-scale goals and things besides eating within our POINTS® Allowance that make us feel healthier. The first thing that popped into my head? Making an effort to look good.

Recently this has translated into a personal beauty boom. Call it the lipstick effect – when the economy suffers, consumers would prefer to spend $10 on a new lipstick than $150 on new jeans. And I am no exception.

So I’ve decided to blog every day this week on some of my new favorites. Please let me know if you prefer a different product, or think I should check something else out. I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Your temporary makeup maven,
Laura March

Monday: Makeup Cases from Target
Tuesday: Haircare from Avon


Categories: Friends, Fun, General, Love & life, My weight loss, Shopping


 

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Eating With My Hands

Thursday, October 22, 2009

When I was in Baltimore a few weekends ago, my wife and I treated ourselves to some steamed Maryland blue crabs at a place that was recommended to us called Obrycki’s. Definitely a good call.

We started with a pitcher of the Obrycki’s Lager, a medium dark brew that reminded me how much I actually love a good beer (my drink of choice has been wine for close to a year now). Then the waitress brought two large sheets of brown craft paper to cover the table, knives, forks, well-worn wooden mallets and a big pile of napkins. No plates. A few minutes later she came back with a tray of freshly steamed crabs and dumped them on our table.

If you’re unfamiliar with the process, you eat steamed crabs right off the table with your hands (hence the paper). You remove the top shell with your hands, use your knife to remove the gills, then break the crab in two, either with your knife or your hands, and dig out these small but oh-so-succulent morsels of meat. You use the mallet to smash open the claws and get at the meat in there.

It’s a fun mess of a meal. A real hands-on experience, as in I literally had cuts on my hands from breaking the shells. And there’s something incredibly satisfying about using a hammer on your food. Plus, crabs are low in POINTS values, which is great, because the beers I drank, not so low.

-Justin Marks


Categories: Eating out, Food, My weight loss


 

Comments (see all 1 comments)

NUUME2009


10/24/2009 12:49 PM
I love eating crabs in Maryland. I lived their for many years and this was a regular treat. Does anyone know a good place to eat crabs in Houston?

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Designer’s Bold Fashion Week Choice

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Canadian knitwear designer Mark Fast caused quite a stir at last month’s London Fashion Week by selecting size 12-14 models to don his latest styles on the Somerset House runway. The 28-year-old Manitoban, who included both slim and curvaceous models in his show, has said his intention was to display how women of all sizes can look great in his dresses. Personally, I think this is a major step forward for the fashion industry, which is often criticized for glamorizing dangerously underweight women.

The decision to use these three plus-sized models reportedly created a serious rift within Fast’s team and even caused one stylist and one creative designer to walk out just weeks before the show. (The term “plus-sized” doesn’t have a strict definition, but in the U.S., it typically refers to anything over a size 8.) Now perhaps the two Fast staffers simply desired not to partake in some “statement” that would condemn the trends of their business. However, I find it bizarre that any fashion professional would refuse to work with a model simply because her measurements creep ever so slightly into the realm of plus-sized. Further, having seen some of the photos from the catwalk in question, I can attest that these models are drop-dead gorgeous and look perfectly chic adorned in Fast’s form fitting apparel. Just take one look at 21-year-old Hayley Morley, who was given the honor of being first on stage, and tell me I’m wrong.

Fast’s notion was really quite an impressive business move. Since perhaps only a small percentage of his clientele are sizes zero through two, it’s logical to demonstrate how his product is appropriate for all women. Of course the unavoidable side effect, which I think Fast probably predicted, is a challenge to the fashion world to showcase models with more realistic body images. I, for one, would welcome such change. Regardless of personal preferences, I doubt many people would argue that being at a healthy weight is unattractive.

-Jamie Gerardi


Categories: Fun, General


 

Comments (see all 5 comments)

Caprice West


10/22/2009 10:05 AM
UMMM When did anything over a size 8 become PLUS???? That is ABSOLUTELY ridiculous!

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