Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Weekend Cookout

Last night we had about 25 friends over for a cookout in the backyard.  It was a blast.  We had neighbors, family, old friends, new friends.  And great food, if I do say so myself.

We started out with some appetizers:

Spinach artichoke dip (I used frozen spinach)
carrots and Trader Joe's garlic hummus
Sweet potato chips from Trader Joes

Main course:

Hamburgers (pre-made patties from Harris Teeter)
Hot Dogs (Ballpark brand Angus franks) - These are sooo delicious
Black bean burgers

Sweet potato casserole
Tracey's baked beans (recipe below)

1 LB bacon- chopped
2 large onion- chopped
½ c white vinegar
1 c packed brown sugar
1 t garlic powder
3 (18 oz) cans baked beans- I use bush’s flavored with bacon and brown sugar
2 (17 oz) cans lima beans
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans
1 (15 oz) butter beans- I use 2 cans of butter beans because I like them, no need to adjust anything else if you do.

Cook bacon in skillet till crisp, drain on paper towel. In bacon fat, cook onions till soft.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl including beans, onion, bacon, vinegar, sugar, spice- mix well.  Put in large casserole dish (lightly greased) and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. 

Salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, chopped up bell pepper, cranberries and blue cheese


Cherry pie (I used pre-made crust and pre made filling I bought at the Fresh Market and it turned out great! Let's be honest people, we can't do it all!)

Everyone ate a lot and had a great time. We hung out in the backyard well into the evening.  Great times with good friends.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to eat out during a business dinner and not blow your diet

We all know that desks jobs are killing us. And making us fat. So what is one to do when you have a business lunch or dinner scheduled . . . at a steakhouse?  In the legal/finance field, we have what are called "closing dinners".  A big deal closes, the lawyers and bankers get all of their fees, and the lawyers take the bankers out to a big, long dinner to celebrate.  We have one tonight at Del Friscos in Charlotte.

Work dinners can be delicate.  You don't want to be the loser that orders a salad, dressing on the side and that's it.  You'll look silly to both your co-workers and clients and that type of order will inevitably cause you to be the center of attention/conversation for at least a moment.  And you don't want that, especially if you're on the bottom of the proverbial totem pole. But you don't want one night out for WORK (i.e. not with your man) to contribute to weight gain.  I mean, a romantic dinner out with your husband or your girlfriends is one thing.  Work is another.

So, we've got to go in with a battle plan, folks:

(1) Step 1: Look at the restaurant's online menu and analyze your choices.  I'm going to have to order a cocktail, an appetizer, an entree, a side (it's one of those steakhouses that serve sides family style, a la Capital Grille) and possibly a dessert if everyone is ordering one.  Those are none negotiable.  So, we have to evaluate our choices and make the healthiest decisions.  My plan:

App: Oysters on the half shell
Entree: 8oz filet mignon
Side: Asparagus (probably has butter but it's the least harmful of all of the side choices)
Drink:  Club soda/sparkling water and MAYBE a glass of wine.

Dessert: Wild card (not sure if anyone will order and the dessert menu is not online)

(2) Step 2:  Avoid the bread plate.  This will be tough.  I crave the carbs.

(3) Step 3: Execute battle plan.  Don't get swayed by what other people are ordering.  For me, this will also be tough.  I'm one of those "Oooo, that sounds delicious, I'll have that instead" people.  I can also be swayed by specialty cocktails that taste like they don't have alcohol but really do.

I've laid out the plan.  Let's see how it goes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Early Morning Workouts

Given my busy schedule, I've had to give my self over to the dreaded early morning workout.  Since I often have to work late into the evening, I never know when I'm going to get off work and when I do get out of work at a reasonable time, I just want to go home.  Therefore, I'm forced into the early morning workout routine.

I used to hate, I mean hate, morning workouts.  I moved slower in the mornings, I never felt motivated, it was too cold, etc. Terrible.  But now I've sort of grown to like them.  There are several benefits to an early morning workout:

(1) Guaranteed - Unless you oversleep or talk yourself out of what seemed like a great idea at 10:00 pm the night before, you're going to get your workout in.

(2) One shower - If you workout in the morning and then shower, then you only need to shower once for the day.  Plus, everyone looks better with a morning shower!

(3) Classes - I've found that the breadth of classes offered at gyms in the morning tends to be wide.  At my smaller gym, there are morning bootcamp, spin, yoga and pilates classes.   There are always lots of classes in the evening, but you certainly are no worse off choosing to go to a group exercise class in the morning.

(4) Traffic - My gym is located in the building next to the one in which I work.  Therefore, when I drive to the gym, I am essentially driving to work. At 6:30 in the morning, the commute is markedly faster than the commute at 9:00. Granted, I am only traveling 1.8 miles but still... it makes a difference.

(5) Time saved.  By choosing to work out in the morning, you are, many times, packing a bag the night before with an entire day's worth of outfits, makeup, shoes, jewelry and hair products to take the following morning.  While this is a pain at 11:00 at night, it makes for an efficient morning.  You have no choice but to wear the outfit you brought to the gym, so there's no staring longingly into your closet thinking "I have NOTHING to wear.  I need to go shopping ASAP."

I've noticed that I've adjusted pretty well to the morning workout routine.  It's not so bad and you definitely have more energy to "tackle your day."