Shrimp and Scallop Scampi with Spaghetti Squash

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Spaghetti squash is a great low-carb, low-calorie alternative to regular pasta. One cup of spaghetti squash has only 30-40 calories and 10g carbs, compared to 220 calories and 43g carbs in a cup of cooked spaghetti. In fact, you could eat an entire spaghetti squash for only 150-200 calories! It can be substituted for spaghetti in any recipe and is a good option for anyone who is low-carb, Paleo, gluten-free, counting calories, or just finds regular pasta to be too boring. The seeds are good roasted too!

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, peeled
  • 1/2 lb scallops
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp pesto
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Basil
  • Pepper
  1. Cut spaghetti squash in half, place halves facedown, and bake at 375 degrees for about one hour (you’ll want to give it about a 30 minute headstart)
  2. When squash is baking, prep other ingredients: peel shrimp; pat shrimp and scallops dry on paper towel and cover them with pepper; cut up onion, garlic, tomatoes, and mushrooms
  3. Melt 1/2 tbsp of butter on stovetop on medium heat and sautee shrimp and scallops until translucent but not brown (about 5 minutes)
  4. Add another 1/2 tbsp of butter then add in succession: garlic and onions, then tomatoes and mushrooms, then spinach; sautee for another 2-3 minutes
  5. Add wine, lemon juice, and an additional tbsp of butter (optional), cover, and bring to a boil. Once liquid boils, reduce heat to low, uncover, and let simmer until about 1/2 the liquid cooks off
  6. Meanwhile, remove the squash from the oven, scoop off the gunk and seeds (you can eat the seeds or roast them further if you want), and scoop out the insides (ie the spaghetti part) into a bowl. Stir in the pesto, using a fork to help separate out the spaghetti strands.
  7. Once the shrimp/scallop/vegetable mixture is done cooking on the stove, pour on top of spaghetti squash, add basil and pepper to taste, stir up, and enjoy!

Note: The butter and pesto are great sources of healthy fat and you should not be afraid to cook with them! However, if it fits your nutrition requirements better, you can reduce the fat and calories by eliminating the second tablespoon of butter and some or all of the pesto (if you do so add extra basil). You *can* cook with olive oil instead of butter if you don’t eat dairy products; however in general butter is better for cooking scallops so I highly recommend butter for this recipe even though I normally cook with olive oil. (DO NOT use butter substitutes ever because they are unhealthy and nasty. Period. )

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Strawberry Salad with Grilled Chicken

Strawberry Salad with Grilled Chicken

Yesterday I really wanted to eat lunch at Aruba, a nearby beachfront restaurant, so I could have their “Strawberry Fields” salad with blackened chicken, which I am obsessed with. But we didn’t get up until 3:30pm and my boyfriend had to work at 5 so there wasn’t time. At first I was really upset (hello PMS!) but then I realized I could probably recreate it myself and save some money too!

I bought a container of mixed spinach and argula; added strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, feta cheese, and pre-cooked grilled chicken strips (which I heated in the microwave); and tossed it in lime juice. Then I brought the container down to the beach with me to eat!

This salad was delicious and very easy to put together! The precooked chicken strips are a good choice if you don’t have an oven, and tossing the salad right in the spinach container saves on cleanup and makes it easily portable. It would be a good meal for someone living in a dorm room!

3000 Calories

Item #1: I’ve been eating ~3000 calories/day over the past month, up from ~2500 in mid-March through mid-May. I don’t have an exact number because I haven’t regularly tracked calories for months now and I eat out a lot so I don’t know the calorie content for most of my food. But I can estimate my average by tallying up whenever I have what I consider a low calorie day (ie when I think “wow, I’ve barely eaten all day”) It’s always at least 2000 calories. And that’s pretty rare. And I know there must be some days when I’m consuming upwards of 4000 calories when you include alcohol. So I think my average is closer to 3000 than 2500.

Item 2: Most of those additional calories were essentially discretionary calories from desserts, restaurant food, and carbs I don’t normally eat. It’s not that I was going out out of my way to eat extra treats, it just I didn’t avoid it when the opportunity presented itself. First there was eating out with my family and friends over the week of my college graduation: bread, cake, nachos, chocolate chips, fro-yo by the pound, and of course alcohol. Then in Costa Rica I ate chips and salsa, nachos, burritos, tons of banana bread, and copious amounts . And over the past week at my grandparents and at home I ate about 2 loaves of pumpkin and zucchini bread, brownie bars, tons of cake, chocolate chip cookies, fro-yo, bread, cheesecake, 1/2 a pan of Ghiradelli brownies. Additionally, most of my healthy meals were higher fat versions than normal due to use of butter, olive oil, cheese, avocados, and sauces/dressing in restaurants and cooking.

Item #3: Over the past month, my body has finally been changing. Obviously my weight was changing from January to March as I lost weight. But my body hadn’t really changed after that. It was frustrating because I felt like all the time I spent in the weight room wasn’t making a difference in my appearance. Sure I enjoyed it, and sure it sustained my ability to eat a lot, but I wasn’t seeing any muscle development. Then right before I left for Costa Rica, it was as if all of a sudden everything changed: my arms got more cut, my legs and glutes got harder, my waist looked smaller. Even my cheek bones looked more defined.

I couldn’t figure it out. Was all this junk food somehow good for me? Was it providing me with nutrients that I had inadvertently been lacking? Fat maybe? Should I have been on a high-fat diet all along?

Then yesterday it suddenly hit me with a flash. The increase in calories and changes in my body were probably correlated, and my body was responding positively to the extra calories. When I thought about it, it made sense. If 2500 calories is maintenance level for me, then I need to eat more than that to continue to build muscle. And it didn’t matter where they came from, just that they were there. It’s not that cake and nachos somehow have beneficial nutritional properties, just that I wouldn’t have inadvertently consumed that many calories from healthy foods alone.

So what am I going to do with this insight? Nothing actually. (Besides, you know, sharing it with you guys). I’m just going to keep eating whatever I want when I’m hungry and see what happens. That is literally the easiest approach possible and why mess with what’s working? Especially since I could be wrong so I’m not going to deliberately manipulate my behavior based on a theory.

Basically I just wanted to share this with you because:

  1. I want to be as honest and accurate about my eating and exercise habits, therefore I feel obligated to update my previous estimate of ~2500 calories for accuracy
  2. I’m trying to pay attention to the impact that various inputs have on my body, so keeping a record is beneficial to me and to anyone else that can apply what I’ve learned.
  3. No one on tumblr eats as much as I do. No one. There is a such a skewed sense of what is healthy and normal. I’m trying to combat that by showing that you don’t have to starve yourself to improve your body and maintain your weight.
  4. There could be benefits to increasing your calories that you don’t even realize, and you might be inadvertently shooting yourself in the foot by restricting your intake.

So there you have it. And I will keep you guys posted!

Kava Tea Bar!

Kava Tea Bar!

Hi guys!! Checking in from my first evening shift at Fiji Kava Bar in Ft Lauderdale, Florida!

Have you guys heard of kava tea? I never had until I got hired here. When the owner offered me a job at a tea bar, I was picturing tea that you brew and drink with milk and sugar…in actuality, it’s a cold earthy-tasting tea that you drink by itself—we serve it in coconut shells! Here’s what I’ve learned about kava tea:

  • Kava tea is made from a kava root and is originally from Fiji. Fijians have been drinking it for thousands of years as a social, ceremonial drink
  • Drinking kava tea reduces anxiety and creates feelings of calmness and relaxation. It also helps you clear your head and focus, and it makes you sociable and talkative. I describe it to people as a cross between marijuana, adderall, and xanax—but natural, legal, and without negative side effects.
  • Kava tea is also a diuretic and appetite suppressant, so it helps with weight loss

I work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 9am – 6pm, and Saturday and Sundays 6pm – 2am which I think is a good schedule! It’s a small bar, so only one person works per shift. We’re working primarily for tips, so I have the opportunity to build up my client base through marketing and networking and therefore increase my income.

I’m definitely going to be pushing the appetite suppressant/weight loss angle—after all, people pay hundreds of dollars for dangerous and unhealthy diet pills that don’t even work, whereas this is natural and healthy so if it works then it’s definitely worth the money! I’ve only worked 3 shifts so far but I’ve noticed that I am notably less hungry while I’m drinking it at work. In theory I’m not trying to lose weight, but it would be nice to lose a little just for the sake of selling the product—I wouldn’t promote this aspect if it turned out not to work. So I’ll see how it goes with time, and I’ll let you guys know!

Food Addiction

I Know Why The Fat Lady Sings by Caitlin Moran

I just saw this article today in the Wall Street Journal. Incredibly interesting perspective comparing compulsive eating to more “glamorous” addictions like alcoholism, drug abuse, shopping, etc. From the article:

“People overeat for exactly the same reason they drink, smoke, have serial one-night stands or take drugs. I must be clear that I am not talking about the kind of overeating that’s just plain, cheerful greed—the kind of Rabelaisian, Falstaffian figures who treat the world as a series of sensory delights and take full joy in their wine, bread and meat. Those who walk away from a table—replete—shouting, “That was splendid!” before sitting in front of a fire, drinking port and eating truffles, don’t have neuroses about food. They aren’t “fat,” they are simply…lavish.

No—I’m talking about those for whom the whole idea of food isn’t one of pleasure, but one of compulsion. For whom thoughts of food, and the effects of food, are the constant, dreary background static to normal thought. Those who walk into the kitchen in a state bordering on panic and breathlessly eat slice after slice of bread and butter—not even tasting it—until the panic can be drowned in an almost meditative routine of chewing and swallowing, spooning and swallowing.

In this trancelike state, you can find a welcome, temporary relief from thinking for 10, 20 minutes at a time, until finally a new set of sensations—physical discomfort and immense regret—make you stop, in the same way you finally pass out on whiskey or dope. Overeating, or comfort eating, is the cheap, meek option for self-satisfaction, and self-obliteration.”

Thought-provoking piece and definitely worth a read!

A Day in Pittsburgh

I spent yesterday visiting my little sister Heather in Pittsburgh, where she lives, works, and goes to school.

She just moved into a really nice apartment with an amazing view of the city, and we wanted to take advantage of her finally having a kitchen and access to cheap produce markets by cooking together!

For breakfast I wanted to see if I could duplicate the guacamole omelets I had in Costa Rica using the leftover guacamole we made the night before:

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It wasn’t *quite* as good as the omelets from Costa Rica but still pretty delicious!

After breakfast we headed downtown to Pittsburgh’s Strip District. There was a fish market, bakery, produce stands, and lots of little shops. My favorite was the tea store!

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We must have spent 20 minutes smelling every kind of loose tea before deciding on chocolate chai and acai berry. I also bought a box of chocolate mint–I love chocolate teas and they’re hard to find!

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Later Heather tried bubble tea for the first time:

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Both of us liked the tea but not the bubbles!

I also discovered a new kind of zero-calorie water–I am a sucker for any zero-calorie drinks and always looking for new ones. This was delicious!

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For lunch we opted for frozen yogurt at a self-serve place called Sweetlix. I mixed all four flavors: original, orange sherbet, vanilla, and red velvet. It was some of the best fro yo I’ve eaten!

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We also bought scallops, shrimp, vegetables, bread, and white wine to make mango salsa and scampi for dinner.

It was JUST starting to rain when we got back to Heather’s apartment around 4:30, so we decided to hang out, watch Forrest Gump, and make the mango salsa.

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ThIs is super easy to make: just dice all the ingredients in tiny pieces, mix together, and let sit for the flavors to absorb. (You can find my recipe here: Mango Salsa)

We also made brownies:

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Heather didn’t have vegetable oil so I modified the recipe using plain greek yogurt, water, and 1 egg. They turned out more fudge-like than brownie like so I cut them in tiny pieces and put them in the freezer as fudge!

After the movie was over, I went to the gym in the basement of Heather’s apartment to get in a quick upper body workout while she hung out with her boyfriend. The free weights only went up to 30 lbs and there was only one bench, so I used a stability ball in lieu of a bench to make the exercises slightly more challenging.

Upper Body Workout:

  • Chest press on stability ball: 30 lb dumbbells, 8×5
  • Chest flies on stability ball: 25 lb dumbbells, 8×5
  • Military press on stability ball: 20 lb dumbbells, 8×5
  • One leg bench dip: 8×5
  • Dumbbell flies: 10 lb dumbbells, 8×5
  • 10 pushups alternated with 30 second planks, x3

We were inspired to make shrimp and scallop scampi for dinner because Heather had a spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash looks like a normal squash, but when you bake it and pull out the insides they look like spaghetti! It is a great substitute for regular spaghetti and can be used in lieu of pasta in any recipe. It has less carbs and calories and tastes much more flavorful in my opinion (I may be the one person in the world who genuinely doesn’t like pasta, didn’t even as a kid). The seeds taste good too!

The squash takes about an hour to bake, so we gave it a head start and had the mango salsa with a whole-grain baguette as an appetizer in the meantime:

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We based the scampi on recipes we based it on scampi recipes we found online, but modified it to accommodate the vegetables we wanted to cook with. The scampi took about an hour altogether to make, during which time we drank chardonnay and watched Accepted (the movie about the kid who makes his own college–very funny!)

The scampi turned out AMAZING! Probably the best tasting thing I’ve cooked myself (granted not all by myself–things never seem to turn out right when I cook solo which is why I like to cook with my parents/sister/friends.) We sprinkled parmesan cheese on top and had more of the baguette on the side.

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Afterwards I ate a couple brownie pieces and fell right into bed!

It was really fun to spend some time with my sister and see Pittsburgh. This was my second time visiting her; the first time was in April 2011 when she was still living in the dorms and it was still cold outside so it was nice to be able to stay in an apartment and see the city in nicer weather! She also booked plane tickets to visit Ft Lauderdale for a week in July, which I’m so excited about–I’m already planning out activities for us to do!

Mango Salsa

This homemade salsa is light, flavorful, colorful, and absolutely delicious! It’s a cheaper and healthier alternative to store-bought salsa and would make a great appetizer or contribution to a party—try serving it with sliced cucumber and bell peppers “scoops” as extra-healthy alternatives to tortilla chips! It also can be used as a topping for salad, accompaniment to chicken or fish, filling for an omelet, or side dish for any meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 mango
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 yellow or red onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Bunch cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  1. Cut mango, pepper, cucumber, onion, tomato, jalapeno, and cilantro into tiny pieces.
  2. Mix ingredients together and add lime juice
  3. Allow salsa to sit in fridge for at least 2 hours for flavors to absorb.
  4. Enjoy!

Note: You can modify the ingredients based on what taste you’re looking for or what vegetables you have on hand. A higher ratio of mango will make it sweeter; more jalapenos makes it hotter; more bell peppers makes it crunchier. You can also substitute the mango for peaches, pineapple, or any fruit with a similar texture. Just don’t leave out the cilantro—that’s crucial for the “salsa” taste!

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