I Won’t Scream, But I Did Love This Ice Cream

A while back, I joined a site called Influenster because I love test-driving products for review. And, with my luck, I received my very first Voxbox…for Weight Watchers Ice Cream.

I don’t usually have a sweet tooth. In fact, I much prefer the flavor of roasted garlic to most things sweet. That said, my Memorial Day festivities called for something sweet, so I decided to use my two coupons from Weight Watchers to snag two boxes of bars for my in-laws’ house.

The Bars

I opted for the Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche and Divine Triple Chocolate. I’m a sucker for caramel flavor, and chocolate is an old standby for even the pickiest sweet-eater.

The Verdict

I’m glad to say that these particular ice cream bars were delicious, and nothing about them felt like a sacrifice for some of the more indulgent brands and varieties. The chocolate shell that’s on both bars adds a really nice texture and flavor against the creaminess of the bar itself. I most enjoyed the caramel bar because of the well of caramel at its core.

I offered one to my husband without the wrapper, and he thought it was Haagen Dazs.

The size was just right – more than a taste, and not even close to a splurge.

I would recommend these bars to anyone – Weight Watchers member or not. They’re nicely portioned, real-tasting (which is big in the world of lower calorie sweets), and affordable.

I’m excited to try new flavors to beat this city heat!

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Aubergine Dreams: An Ode to Eggplant

Before Mark Bittman penned his praise for eggplant via the New York Times, I became acquainted with the fantastic fruit.

Sometime after I lost interest in microwaving spaghetti squash, I picked up a beautiful Italian eggplant at Whole Foods. Like my foray into egg poaching, I was intimidated by this purple-skinned ingredient.

Nerves were lifted when I pulled my first attempt at baked eggplant out of the oven. Lightly sprayed with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and other fresh herbs, I had successful made juicy, tender eggplant steaks. And I ate all of them. In one sitting, without regret.

Fast-forward a year later, as I live happily with my boyfriend, a confirmed carnivore. Eggplant is our unity fruit — the one ingredient we can agree upon as the star of a meat-free meal. Whether it’s his stewed eggplant and tomatoes, or my eggplant with cherry tomatoes, lentils, and spinach, together we enjoy it, and Mark Bittman was right, it does make me happy, as I do eat it everyday.

Sliced, lightly battered and fried with a honey drizzle on-top, or char-grilled and topped with a dollop of skordalia, I can’t think of an eggplant dish I would want to pass up. Most recently, my boyfriend grilled up eggplant steaks that I proceeded to eat for one week straight, often topped with a slice of ovaline mozzarella and a poached egg, I’ve spent some time collecting a series of eggplant recipes I cannot wait to try on my own:

  • Fried Eggplant with Molasses Recipe – Berenjena Frita con Miel de Cana: This recipe reminds me of a dish I tried at Tapas Adela in Baltimore (their dish was called Eggplant Fritas, and was served with a lavender honey). It’s like an eggplant donut, and makes this otherwise healthy ingredient just a wee bit sinful. Remember: no regrets.
  • Grilled Eggplant with Tomato and Feta: I love eggplant, but I especially love eggplant with tomatoes. The acidic sweetness of the tomato mixed with the hearty earthiness of the eggplant work so well together, and the fresh bite of feta adds a nice touch. I might add mint to this recipe for kicks.
  • Mediterranean Eggplant Salad: I love a good eggplant salad, and the prep is so fuss-free, that there’s no excuse not to try this one at home. Another added benefit? This recipe comes from Weight Watchers, so it’s inherently PointsPlus-friendly.
  • Black Bean and Red Pepper Burgers: Where does the eggplant come in? You see, that’s the genius behind this recipe. As a fan of any opportunity to ditch the bun, I was so pleased that this recipe replaces the simple carbohydrates of a bun, with the ever-loved eggplant.
  • Roasted Eggplant Bruschetta: Like I said, I like to ditch unnecessary carbs. And with eggplant acting as the base of this bruschetta, the flavors of the other fresh vegetables will be better blended, also allowing the textures to shine without competing with the toasted baguette.

On the Wagon

The past few months, I’ve been really busy, and my diet has fallen to the side. I have still be tracking my points, but not as diligently as normal. I’m thankful that I’m active enough where what I’ve gained back (a little less than 5 pounds) is manageable, but I need to tackle it. So, I figured if I wrote something here, I’d be able to stare my hurdle in the face, and share my struggle.

Still 35 pounds down, with the ultimate goal to double that number.

It’s hard, though. I’m not the only source of pressure.

I love my family, but when relatives start asking about my weight-loss journey, I revert back to my “need to please” tendencies.

I feel healthier now than ever before, and am looking forward to continuing on this path of health and happiness. I’m back on the wagon.

Phat

For those who see me in-person on a regular basis, it should come as no surprise that I’ve shrunk a bit. Well, thirty-four pounds to be exact.

And in my eyes, it’s still only the beginning.

Not part of some get-thin-quick scheme, or some corny – far too high in carbs – New Year’s Resolution; my decision to lose weight was mine, and mine alone.

I come from a family that is obsessed with its weight. I’ve had relatives on both ends of the spectrum – too skinny and too plump.

I knew, then, when I decided to sign up for Weight Watchers in July, that my decision would draw some familial attention.

For the most part, I tend not to care what people think of me. In my family, though, they make it known.

First, there was my Great Uncle. He has a reputation for jousting people about their weight, despite his own struggles to maintain his own. Following his prodding was my paternal grandmother. Obsessed with aesthetics, she began equating weight to beauty. Leave it to a member of the Kirsch clan to make someone feel ugly. Lastly, a cousin of mine, who I admire more than I can explain through written words, made a comment about how I present myself. She tiptoed around what had become “the weight issue,” and I caught on quickly.

I started to care. People noticed something that it seemed I had ignored.

The first steps were the hardest. The decision to rejoin the gym and Weight Watchers were stepping stones in what continues to be a long, but successful journey.

The next in those first steps involved filtering out the noise.

Dieting, as a concept, annoys me just as much as the word “fat” when applied as an insult and not an element of daily nutrition. I had become so sick of hearing people, close friends included, pick apart passersby, people whom they had never met, based on appearance and most often on weight.

I once heard the phrase, “Guilt is fattening,” and it has since become one of my favorite ways to let insiders in on my lifestyle change.

I’m holding myself accountable – all bites count – but I’m in no way “dieting.”

Nothing is off limits, but everything requires planning. And, it would seem that in my family of prodders and change-inducers, this is something that they do not understand. I still hear mumblings of, “Well, you can’t have that.” Or, “Is there something you can have on this menu.” And, while I’m tempted to call them daft, I smile, nod, and move on with my order or nibble, knowing that this is my journey, not theirs.

So please, spare me your information on the glycemic index, or your rules about not eating after 6 p.m.

I have it under control.

I didn’t think anything could be as hard as committing to making a change. But there was just one more thing I had not planned for – the fact that not everyone would be so thrilled with my weight loss.

So, I say this to anyone thinking about making a lifestyle change, do it for you, and do it wholeheartedly. If you hold back, even a little bit, it won’t last. Do what you can to eliminate the outside noise, the naysayers, anything that is adverse to motivation. Surround yourself with positivity, and make health the most important.

I continue my weight loss, with no set goal or expectation in mind. I’ve made great strides, and hope only to continue on that path for life. My cheekbones are far too high for emaciated to be a good look on me, and my hips would jut out in low-riding jeans.

I just want to be comfortable being me.

Pauper’s Pantry: Pumpk it Up and Breakfast for Dinner

I have been beyond obsessed with pumpkin this fall. It’s one of my favorite seasonal flavors — only in competition with peppermint during the winter holiday season. Two of my favorite uses for pumpkin include pumpkin pudding and pumpkin spread. See below for pictures and recipe details, as well as a picture of my first-ever successfully flipped egg-in-a-basket (fried egg in a whole wheat bread slice).

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Mama Frozen Yogurt (Astoria, NY) [Review]

A few weeks ago, I noticed a cute, modern-looking yogurt shop around the corner. I decided to welcome Mama Frozen Yogurt to the neighborhood, by indulging in the sweet treat after work one day.

Image Courtesy of MamaYogurt.com

It’s so incredibly inexpensive for such a great-tasting, not-so-awful-for-you treat. I opted for the nonfat New York cheesecake flavor with passion fruit-flavored bobba (bubbles), kiwi, and strawberry. If you’re watching your weight and follow Weight Watchers, it has a points plus value of 3 for a half-cup serving. My half-cup serving with all of that fruit cost me less than $5. Amazing. I only had my credit card on me and while they normally have a $6 minimum, they were willing to let me charge my balance, and so I gave a $2 tip. I loooved the passion fruit-flavored bubbles, but would probably opt for a less rich flavor next time, like the nonfat nondairy or no sugar added varieties.