Make 3 Salad Dressings

Wouldn't it be awesome to have these in your fridge?

That’s what was requested for work yesterday.  Three dressings to be delivered to a friend who’s in the hospital.  A very sweet request, but a tad vague.

So I made the first two dressings that came to mind.  A basil balsamic vinegrette & a citrusy gingered oriental(ish) dressing.  Typical weekday dressings. They’re asked for all the time at work, because they’re bold, extra vinegary and relatively low in oil.

But what about that third?  I had to sneak around the fridge for inspiriation. There was pesto!!  Oh, the poor thing, languishing in the back, it really wanted to be enjoyed.  So a quick search later popped up a post about a creamy pesto dressing and we had a winner.  Expect that there was no mayo & I’m still not sold on the taste of Miracle Whip in salad dressings.  And  I only had a little sour cream left.  Well, there went the exact recipe, but 1 part pesto, 2 parts sour cream, 3 parts parmesan & 6 parts buttermilk made a tasty variation.  Just remember to always test a dressing by dipping in a piece of lettuce.  I’ve made some amazing dressings that weren’t that great when they met the salad.  Lessons learned.

PS Anybody know why my homemade buttermilk is so sharp tasting?  I only like it cooked with flour so far & didn’t dare use it in a dressing (regarding the flour: think cakes, biscuits, & bread pudding).  Had  to use store-bought for this…

PSS Macaroni goulash uses porportions around 9 pounds hamburger, 4 onions, 2 celery heads, 2 bottles tomato juice, lots of A-1 & worshestershire & a subtle bit of celery salt.  Oh, and 2-3 pounds macaroni shells.  Not 6.  Baked 30min.  Tonight I get to use the extra 3-4 pounds shells that is left over when you cook  all six pounds…  And I’m feeding 2 people.  Hooray for freezer casseroles! Oh, and the extra 4 chopped onions freeze beautifully for quicker prep throughout the week…


My ideal (anti)Diet

This is actually taken directly from the  It’s nothing new, or revolutionary, but I agree with it, as far as calorie awareness goes.  I’d just throw in some bits about a variety of fruits and veggies & lots of cultural food for happy tastebuds.  …and I would have personally had more pictures of sexy men too…

The Anti Diet


Ok, so this is the blog post I get asked for again & again.
I’m not going to give you some faddy diet that will help you lose a stone, only to find it again next month.
Because it’s a waste of both of our time & it’s bad for you.
That’s why.
Instead, I will give you my tips, rules & advice to living your life, & losing weight along the way.

1. First & formost you need motivation.
I’m going to go out on a limb here & say that as you’re reading my blog, you like the internet.
You’re smarter than your average bear & I bet you check Facebook nearly every day.
So, how about we use that as your basic motivation?
Let’s say that by the time summer comes around, you’ll be ready to jump into a bikini and mess around with your friends. The next day, when you realised you’ve been tagged on Facebook, you don’t get a feeling of dread incase you look like the fat one, you’re just excited to see them because you all look great!

That’s your goal.
By summer, you’re going to be so comfortable with your body, you’ll be able to strip off & jump in the pool or run giggling (not jiggling) down the beach.

2. Now, let’s work on hunger.
There is a big difference between real hunger & emotional hunger.
It’s important to pay attention to real hunger, and really important that you recognise emotional hunger.
My beautiful little chart should clear this up-

3. Hunger is also one of the first signs of dehydration.
If you’re not drinking enough it’s your body’s way of saying “Please!! Need liquid, I don’t care if it’s the water from a cheap burger, I just need it!!”
Not great.
Whenever you feel hungry, stop, have a big glass of water & wait 10 mins. If you’re still hungry, eat!
The water will aid your digestion anyway & you’ll absorb less of the fat from the food you eat.

4. The key to a healthy lifestyle & shedding unwanted pounds, is understanding that there are levels of hunger.
Think of it as a scale:

You should start eating at around a 3 or a 4.
If you wait until 2 or 1, your body will go into starvation mode which means when you do finally eat, your body will hold on to every bit of fat it can get it’s hands on incase you decide to starve it again.
Not great news for weight loss.
If you accidentally get to this level of hunger, take it slow. Have something light or you’ll go right from a 1 to a 10.
If you’re actively trying to lose weight, stop at 5.
If you’re happy just maintaining your current figure, stop at 6.
You’ll soon train your body to eat what’s just right for you. It’s just a case of being in tune with what your body needs.

5. Talking of needs, let’s move on to cravings.
A craving is your body’s way of telling you you’re lacking something.
However, craving an enormous ice cream sundae with extra chocolate sauce doesn’t mean you should eat it!
Here’s a breakdown of what your cravings really mean:

Your body’s lacking Chromium, carbon phosphorus, sulphur, Tryptophan.
You can get these from: 
Broccoli, grapes, cheese, chicken, fresh fruit, beef, liver, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, cranberries, horseradish, kale, cabbage, turkey, sweet potato & spinach.

You need nitrogen.
You’ll find this in: 
High protein foods; fish, meats, nuts, beans.

Fatty snacks
You’re lacking calcium.
Eat more:
Mustard, greens, dairy, legumes & sesame seeds.

Your body’s craving phosphorous, sulfur & iron.
Try eating more: 
Chicken, beef, liver, fish, eggs, dairy, red peppers, garlic, onion, sea salt, apple vinegar, seaweed, greens & black cherries.

Carbonated drinks
You need more calcium.
Mustard, broccoli, kale, legumes, dairy & sesame.
*If you crave a specific drink, this is an addiction, we’ll talk about this later.

Salty foods
You need chloride.
Try and eat: 
Goats milk, fish & unrefined sea salt.

Obviously this is a physical addition to nicotine, but you can ease cravings by eating more silicon & tyrosine.
Eat more:
Nuts, seeds, citrus fruits, green vegetables.

Put down the chocolate, zinc is what you need young lady!
Get your hands on some:
Red meat, seafood, leafy vegetables, root vegetables, marmite or bovril.

My epic fish taco recipe is a great balanced meal & a fab craving buster.
So don’t go thinking meals have to be boring, just because they’re healthy.

6. While I’m getting you away from the bad stuff, stay away from McDonalds. 
I know it sounds obvious, but the ‘just once wont hurt’ attitude is what’s keeps you going back for more. 
The chemicals in fast food are highly addictive & trigger your brain to want more. This effect can last for several weeks. 
Stay away and soon you just wont want it any more. 
You need to get off your ass. 
I’m not saying you have to be in the gym every day, or ever! But you do need to get active. 
Get off the bus a stop early and power walk the last bit. 
Take the stairs, not the escalator. 
Carry your shopping bags home, don’t drive. 
Next weekend, go for a long walk or a run. Don’t kid yourself that you don’t have time. 
If you have the time to go online, you’ve got time to go for a run! 
Little changes will make a big difference in the long run. (Run… geddit?)
8. Give up fizzy drinks, especially diet ones. 
This is by far the hardest step. I’ve been addicted to Diet Coke for as long as I can remember. 
I’ve had at least 2 cans a day for the last 10 years. 
I quit just over a month ago & without changing anything else I lost 5lbs. 
Over Christmas! 
When I was eating all day every day with no regard for the hunger scale! 
Let’s just put that into perspective: 
There have been countless articles & news stories explaining just how bad diet soda is, but I’d been putting it off for years. 
In the end my friend & I quit together, and now I see the difference, I seriously recommend doing the same. 
This article explains why it’s bad for you, but basically the artificial sweeteners trick your body into thinking you’re ingesting sugar. This means you produce insulin & stomach acid to break down the sugars. Obviously as there are no sugars, this just makes you incredibly hungry & you’ll need to eat. 
The most popular sweetener used by drinks companies is Aspartame, which is a proven cause of cancer. 
This doesn’t mean you should skip on over to regular Coke. Most full sugar fizzy drinks contain around 200 calories, but wont fill you up. 
This is what 200 calories looks like… 
Wouldn’t you rather have one of those? 
9. The most important part of The Anti Diet is to remember that you are not on a diet! 
This is a way of life & in order for it to be sustainable, you have to be naughty sometimes. 
That’s why I live by the 80/20 rule. 
80% of what I eat is healthy, delicious, nutritious & good for me. 
If I know I’m having something naughty for supper, I’ll have fruit for breakfast & soup for lunch. 
Or if I’ve had a couple of really naughty days, I’ll make sure I’m good for the rest of the week. 
10. Last but not least. 
Don’t stress about your weight too much. 
Food is for enjoying, not worrying about. 
Eat little & often. Snack at your desk, but try and make it carrot sticks, not a family pack of biscuits (yes, we’ve all been there). 
Quit weighing yourself. It’s not a true reflection of how you’re doing & you’ll only feel miserable. 
Go on how you feel, how you look & how well your clothes fit. 
I guarantee, if you follow these easy peasy rules, you’ll have lost 10lbs by the end of February, easy.
Oh, and remember…
Your body deserves better than they way you’ve treated it in the past. 
You need to decide to love yourself & change for good.
A year from now, you’ll wish you started today.

The Need to Compost


Isn’t it a pretty dream? Complete with Dog & someone else to do all the work? Too bad it’s not my yard yet…

So now that I’m domesticating, and have a tad more control over my space, there’s going to be stuff growing.  And a clean house.  And some wood floor installations, kitchen redesigns, attic room creation, canning, and, and, and… Well, maybe I’m a bit ahead of myself.  But there will be stuff growing. 

We’ve got 16 packets of seeds already , plus all the random seeds we’ve collected from fruits and veggies.  And a crazy yard/s.  And lots of composting materials.  And snow waiting to melt.  So I figure it’s time to get the compost going & quit “just” collecting.

Here’s my thought: We have a half full bin of food material, LOTS of extra leaves, and odd spaces all around the house.  Plus a neighbor/lover who’s got her own rocking compost pile.  …which I may just ask to be a part of… *makes a note to ask about that*… But I’m currently smitten with the idea of building one of these”:

A Cool DIY Compost Bin with building directions Here (The picture at the top is of this)

Or Picking one of These, though I haven’t clicked around too much yet.

And of course, there’s all the links for advice and info and learning, that I’m in need of too:, This Wise Bread Primer for lazy composting, and perhaps some info from the Four Season Farm who manages to grow year round in Maine. Passively.  Respect.

Polished wood fantasies…

So I’m a dork and this made me happy:

and makes me want to get my hands into some spoon oil.

Stephanie wrote:

Last weekend I gathered all my wooden spoons, bowls, cutting boards and serving pieces and polished everything with spoon oil. Spoon oil protects the wood from drying, cracking, staining and collecting unwanted bacteria. It was a really relaxing activity and would be safe and fun for even small children (the making of the spoon oil would be for adults-only, but the polishing is totally kid-friendly).

Spoon oil is a blend of beeswax and mineral oil and is completely food safe and non-toxic. I made my own, but you can also buy it bottled. I developed my spoon oil recipe after lurking around a few woodworking message boards when we were installing our wood countertops in our kitchen (which are also finished with spoon oil). All you need is natural beeswax (check craigslist or your farmer’s market for a local supply) and mineral oil which is sold in the laxative section of the pharmacy or supermarket (right there next to the milk of magnesia). For every 16 ounce bottle of mineral oil, I used about a quarter of a pound of beeswax (that’s a one pound brick in the photo). This makes a quart jar of spoon oil which should last you quite a while if you’re just treating kitchen items.

  • In a large sauce pan of boiling water, I placed a quart mason jar with my beeswax (a quarter of a pound) cut into small chunks. Once the wax was melted, I placed another jar with the 16 ounces of mineral oil in the water to gently heat. Then I poured the mineral oil in with the beeswax and allowed them to continue to heat and emulsify, gently stirring until smooth and even. Take your jar out of the water bath, allow to cool and it’s ready to use.

To treat the wood, you may want to sand surfaces that are stained or nubbly with fine grit sandpaper, then simply dip your hands into the spoon oil (it’s a thick consistency) and rub into the wood. Any spoon oil left on your hands can be just massaged into your skin (it actually makes a great moisturizer for weather-beaten winter hands). Allow the wood to sit and absorb the oil for anywhere from a few hours to a few days, then buff dry with a clean cloth. That’s it!

Can I have these, pretty please?

My current dream counter

Complete with instructions!

He was kind enough to give me instructions on how he managed to get that rich, dark, ultra-smooth finish, and so I’m sharing his secret with all of you.
1.  Top is made from 2′ x 4′ x 3/4″ knotty pine plywood (you can purchase from hardware stores in 1/4 sheet size).
2.  Edge is made from 1″ x 2″ x 4′ pine.
3.  Cut plywood to size and draw and cut out the hole for your sink.
4. Attach edging with water-based carpenter’s glue and by countersinking a finish nail on each end. Make sure to wipe up any excess glue with a damp cloth right away. Use a non-shrinking and stain-able wood filler to fill in the holes – he likes LePage.
5. After drying for 24 hours, sand with 320 grit sandpaper.
6. Apply wood sealer as per manufacturer’s instructions.
7. Apply 3 coats of stain (waiting 6 hours between each coat) in your choice of colour- he used Flecto Varathan Diamond Wood Stain in Dark Walnut. But here’s the trick- DO NOT wipe off excess stain when applying the coats. It allows it to sink into the wood for a darker finish.
8.Once dry, apply 5 coats of latex polyurethane – he used Flecto Varathane Diamond Wood Finish in satin. Sand with 320 grit paper in between each coat until smooth to the touch. Make sure to use tack cloth to wipe the counter down after each sanding.

What happens when you don't stop in time. On the freeway.Some things happened.

Some things no longer work quite right.

Like my poor car, this site is in need of some strenuous overhauling which supposedly will be finished sometime.  Feel free to browse in the mean time, but know that you’re only getting a chunk of the picture.  And a kinda odd chuck at that.


Work Menu: 9/13’s week

M: Mostaccioli, a romaine/spring salad with basic vineagrette, and some forgotten vegetable from the crisper drawer

-A riff of of a sausage & tortellini tomato soup some friends served me.  Unfortunately, kielbasa has a habit of overpowering the whole dish when it sits for lunch the next day.

W:Grilled elk loin steaks vacuum marinated with balsamic, olive oil, basil, pepper, and lemon juice. Mashed sweet potatoes, oregano roasted broccolli and a simple spring salad with a fresh orange-balsamic dressing rounded off dinner

-Lunch became a brocolli chicken alfredo dish from ____________.

F:Roasted a Rump Roast, mashed some potatoes, oven-fried some zucchinis, tossed a spinach salad with some fresas and balsamic dressing, then congratulated myself for the homemade blueberry sherbert and gazpacho to be enjoyed at their leisure.

-Roasted a smaller pork roast for an Asian Cabbage Slaw with Pork that I must try again with meat that hadn’t been thawed and re-froze.  Some mixed wild rice sauteed with diced onions and carrots rounded off the meal at about 550 calories.

SS:I braised some elk with mushrooms ala this recipe, and served it with a simple salad and spaghetti squash parmesan for dinner.

-A couple thin crust pizza‘s and a personal favorite Greek chop salad formed lunch.  A meatlovers was created with ground beef, extra roasted pork, slivered onions, and some mozzerella and cheddar.  The veggie pizza starred home-grown tomatoes, zucchini, more onion slivers, and mozerella and shredded parmesan.  I love how good healthy food tastes.

Healthy (packed) lunch: Elk & Bean Chile Verde with Cornbread & a funny salad. 500 calories.

Ground elk & ground beef can actually be swapped out pretty easily. You may have to add some liquid or oil when you cook ground game though, it tends to be super lean.  I froze 2 servings & packed two for tomorrow.  You can make the salad dressing & let it set in the fridge a few days, but I haven’t tried freezing it yet.  It’s just so easy to make.  And tasty.  And healthy.  And funny.


Recipe, pretty straight from

Elk/Beef & Bean Chile Verde. 4 servings, ~1 1/2 C each

30 minutes total seemed about right to me 

  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground elk/beef
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (we only had some random thai spice. it worked)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 16-ounce jar green salsa, green enchilada sauce or taco sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed
  1. Cook beef, bell pepper and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
  2. Stir in salsa (or sauce) and water; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat just before serving.

Cornbread.  Buy a packaged mix and follow the directions.  I used a 160 calorie/serving “sweet cornbread” bagged mix that I cooked up in a special skillet.  Whatever you use, I recommend preheating it to get the oil/butter/pam all sizzly before you pour the cornbread in.  It’s just right.

Wedge Salad with Tomayo Dressing (from the VitaMix recipebook)

  • Romaine lettuce hearts, quartered & cored.  Plan on 2 quarters per person.
  • Tomayo dressing
  • Bacon Bits (or crumbled bacon fresh from the skillet for you with time)
  • Figure out how to put the lettuce wedges on a plate & sprinkle stuff on ‘em.

For the dressing: (this makes 1 cup, enough for 4)

  • 1 lg tomato
  • 1/2 C low fat/cal mayo (we had a 10 cal/.25 cup jar to use…)
  • 1/2 t dried Basil (or way more if you’re like me. at least double it if using fresh basil)
  • 1/4 sm, peeled onion (or a shallot, if you have a bunch on hand…)
  1. Toss it all into the VitaMixer or food processor and whiz away until it’s smooth. 
  2. Tada.  It actually tastes wonderful, thick, and unhealthy.  But it’s less calories than a vineagrette.  Funny, huh?

Healthy Dinner: Mostaccioli, Green Bean Medley & Salad. Under 600 calories.

Plus a lunch of Elk & Bean Chile Verde with Cornbread and a different salad, for about 500 calories.

I first recall trying mostaccioli last night before prom.  One of my best friends had been regaling me with how she was trying to get a recipe from her childhood but wasn’t sure if the nice old lady who prepared it was still alive and able to share it.  Yesterday the recipe arrived.  Very cutely phrased.  There was a warning not to use too much cheese because it’s “caloric.”  Made my day.  Especially after I got to taste the dish last night too.  Mmmhmmm.  I used a different recipe because it already had caloric values calculated.  Still pretty tasty.

Today’s recipes were inspired (read: straight from) Taste of Home’s Healthy Cooking magazine and website.  Ms B gave me a bunch of the mags & I was just picking something simple.  The Dinner was served to Ms B and her guests, and everybody spoke contentedly of the mostaccioli.  The green beans were good, nothing spectacular, and the salad received no accolades because it was standard in that household.  My personal gripes were that the green beans were a bit softer than I personally prefer, and the salad may have accidentally been drowned in the tasty dressing.

Dinner. Truncated.  My adaptations included

Baked Mostaccioli.  35min prep, 30 min bake, 6 servings (I found this pretty true)

  • 8oz uncooked mostaccioli (penne in my case)
  • 1/2 lb lean ground turkey (elk from my employers actually)
  • 1 sm onion, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained, & 1 (6oz) can tomato paste (I just used the 26 oz jar of chunky spaghetti sauce that was 70 cal/serving…)
  • 1/3 C water
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/8 t pepper
  • 2 C (16oz) fat free cottage cheese
  • 1 t marjoram (or italian spices or whatever green leafy mix you have on hand.  I used “Fine herbs”)
  • 1 1/2 C (6oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese & 1/4 C grated parmesan (lazy me, the pkg of pizza cheese comes in w 4 different cheeses, so I went with that.  All 8oz’s of it just for spite)
  1. Cook the pasta like the pkg says.  Meanwhile, cook the meat in a big saucepan.
  2. Toss in the tomatoe stuffs, water, oregano & salt & pepper.  (I add: Take a second to pour the measured spices into your hand to get a feel of how much you should be adding so you can gradually quit pulling out so many measuring spoons.) bring it all to a boil, reduce it to a covered simmer for 15 min (covered? so that’s how there was supposed to be liquid…)
  3.   In a sm bowl, like the one you bought it in, mix the marjoram & cottage cheese, then put it aside.  Drain your pasta if you’ve forgotten.
  4. 1/2 C red stuff goes into the 11×7 pam sprayed dish.  Then half the pasta, red stuff, and mozzarella.  Next all of the cottage cheese & repeat with the remaining pasta, red, and mozzarella.
  5. Bake, uncovered, 350o, for 30-40 min till is bubbly & heated through

About 300 calories.  And tasty.

Green Bean Medley.   gets done somehow during everything. serves 4 by my generous portions. 

  • 1lb fresh green beans, trimmed (takes time or costs extra)
  • 1 sm sweet red pepper, fine chopped
  • 4 green onion (scallions), chopped
  • 1/4 C sliced fresh mushrooms (or a full cup if you’re like me)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 garlic, minced, ran thru the press, or from the minced jar
  • 1 T sherry vinegar (we had seasoned rice vinegar on hand…)
  • 1/2 t dried basil (I like basil… so more like 1 T)
  • 1/4 t salt & pepper (measured?  yeah right.)

Cover beans with water in a large sauce pan, like your now empty pasta pot, and bring to a boil.  cook ‘em for 4-7 min until “crisp-tender”

meanwhile, prep your fresh veggies.  Then toss them all into another skillet & saute them with the oil & garlic till they’re tender, or till you’re just about ready to serve.  Toss in the beans, drained please, and everything else.  Heat it “through.”

The end.

technically, every 3/4 c serving = 59 calories.  Or figure under a hundred for a quarter of the total.

Organic Spring Salad with Strawberries and lemony dressing

  • one ziplock baggie of salad from the local food basket people
  • the leftover strawberries from something or other.  The small ones were the best.
  • The homemade salad dressing that used something vinegary, lots of lemon-olive oil (from Newzealand I believe), and a nice bunch of dried herbs.
  1. Slice the strawberries & toss it all together. 
  2. Realize you forgot the feta cheese.
  3. Ponder if you’ll ever get a real recipe…

somewhere around 100-150 calories, if you know what’s in your dressing.

First dinner

DSC03549 So I got a yob.  Nothing phenomenal, but a decent one.  Preparing a nutrition dinner and packed lunch for a nice couple.  16 hours over 4 nights a week.  & I’m hijacking this blog to keep track of it.  So here’s my first offering to them:

Mediterranean.  Butternut squash soup with a slew of veggies (even kale) and  a bit of bacon.  Chop Greek Salad, or green beans and tomatoes with homemade dressing.  Thin crust pizza.

Just about killed myself trying to come up with multiple menus for them to choose.  They liked it.  They’re even letting me come back another time.

Hallelujah, thine the glory.

What a couple, what a kitchen, & what an adventure.


Eventually, I’ll even post caloric values,  maybe recipes if I’m feeling particularly spritely.