Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Eating Out While Staying Healthy … and All That Jazz

Most evenings in December we have spent out of the house. We were either going to eat, to concerts, shows or some other social engagement.   You know it was too much when I didn’t get the Christmas tree up until well into December.  Fear not the boys (Nicco and Masi) helped me. They are pictured here on the ladder that I was using to get to the top of the tree.  Who knew cats could climb ladders?  *shakes head*  Somehow my cats just manage to get into everything.  Good thing I love them is all I can say.

Concert One:  Candy Dulfer

Dan and I had a very jazzy December which we thoroughly enjoyed.  We started with a concert at Rams Head in Annapolis from Candy Dulfer which literally blew our minds.  Both Dan and I were incredibly impressed.  For those you who don’t know Candy here she is playing her most recognizable song "Lily Was Here".  If you like jazz I highly recommend her Crazy CD.  We have been listening to it almost daily since the concert.

We stopped at one of our favorite restaurants in Annapolis for dinner.  For those of you who are local we both really like Viet-Thai Paradise.   I hope you get a chance to check it out when you are in Annapolis.  The food is delicious and very fresh which is what I enjoy so much about Vietnamese food.

Their veggie Tom Yum Soup in lemon leaf broth is amazing. This is something that I order every time we are there, it is that good!

Dan likes the Buddha Delight with noodles.

The spring rolls are good but we prefer the ones at Me KongDelta Café in Baltimore.  Not that this stops us from ordering them.  LOL

They can make the green papaya salad vegan if you ask.  It is typically prepared with dried shrimp and fish sauce but the shrimp isn’t necessary and soy sauce can be used to replace the fish sauce.

Concert Two:  East Bay Soul

This was another concert at Ram’s Head in Annapolis and wow what a show this was.  The band played for a little over 2 hours and then signed autographs after the show.  This is another group not to be missed.  For those of you who are familiar with them here they are playing their version of the Marvin Gaye classic “What’s Going On”.

We enjoyed them so much that while we have their latest CD East Bay Soul 2.0 and have ordered their first CD East Bay Soul.

Dan and I have another concert coming up, in February I think.  Then there is only one more in May.  By then we are back into boat season so I don’t know how many more concerts there will be until fall.  If either of us has to choose between the boat and music the boat is generally going to win out.

Going Out While Staying Healthy and Not Gaining Weight

December seemed to be our month to go out to eat. It seemed like we were eating out three or more times each week.  In times past I would have worried that these trips would show up on my rear or thighs but that doesn’t concern me anymore. After all these years I have figured out how to navigate going out to make sure there is no weight collateral damage if you know what I mean.  Since I think this is something most women think about I wanted to share how I have make this work.

  1. Focus on veggie heavy dishes.   I always look in the soup and salad area of the menu first.  Ask a lot of questions of the server to make sure you aren’t getting a veggie soup in a meat stock. That happens more than you realize.  If you get salad order the dressing on the side or ask that it is lightly dressed. When I don’t know the chef I order the dressing on the side.  I frequently order a soup, salad and sometimes a veggie side. But I share with Dan so I don't eat all of that.
  2. Check out the veggie sides.  It is often easy to make a meal of either a soup or salad and a veggie side dish.  Every restaurant where I have asked them to omit the cheese or meat on a dish they have done it for me.  Just ask for what you want. Restaurants want customers to be happy so they come back. They are happy to give you exactly what you ask for. For example when we order edamame at our favorite Asian place we ask them to go light on the salt and they have no trouble doing that.
  3. Either have a drink or dessert but never both.  Since these are both empty calories I allow myself one or the other and I don’t have either of them very often.  Once you start looking at food as nutrition these items naturally become less appealing.
  4. Share food/Split an entrée.  When Dan and I go out to eat we always share dishes.  He typically eats more them than I do which works well for both of us.  ;-) When he isn’t with me if the only thing I see that I want is an entrée I order it knowing that I will bring at least half of it home.  Can’t say I understand why American restaurants insist on serving such huge portions but they all seem to do that.  It seems to me this is why Americans are getting larger.  We all have portion distortion from going out to eat.
  5. Stop eating when you naturally pause. This is one that took me a while to learn but now it is second nature to me.  In case you don’t know what I mean I will explain it.  When all of us eat there is a point where we naturally slow down.  Maybe we put the fork down, or start talking. This is a signal that we are satisfied. Most people ignore this and keep eating if there is food remaining on their plate. When you learn to listen to your body when it pauses you will naturally eat less.  It also means you will have leftovers to take home which I will also talk about today.
Using these simple tips I ended December a few pounds lighter than it started even with 15+ dinners out.   I think that is pretty amazing personally.  It is also proof that you can eat out a lot and not have it appear on your body.

Restaurant Leftovers

When you go out to eat as much as we do you are bound to have restaurant leftovers in your refrigerator.  However the problem is that these often contain more fat and salt than we would like.  I solve this problem by altering them. For example let’s say we went to Jesse Wong’s in HuntValley and Dan ordered the Hunan Faux Beef and Veggies for his lunch.  When we get home I add a few cups of veggies (either fresh or frozen) to the meal and turn it into two lunches for him.  I also swap out the refined grains for whole grains if necessary. 

For other types of meals you can split them in half or thirds and add a bowl of soup, salad or a piece of fruit to the meal to provide healthy bulk.  

Happy Thoughts:

I can’t believe that I forgot my happy thoughts on the post yesterday. This practice has become a fixture in my day-to-day life. Every day I keep track of what I am grateful for in a calendar program on my IPad.  This does a few things.  It reminds to look for the good things which all of us tend to minimize or overlook completely. But it also provides a record so that I can look back at the things that have made me happy in the past.  Here is what I am happy for now:
  1. I love my electric pressure cooker. I got one for the boat and enjoyed using it so much I now have one at home. Today I used it to make:  tomato sauce and black-eyed pea soup.  This little device makes my life so much easier.  I will write more about which one I have and what I like about it in another post.
  2. New Years Day was very laid back, just the way I like it.  Dan and I slept in and spent the day relaxing.  What could be better after running around the last three days?
  3.  I enjoyed getting on the scale this morning and realizing that I weigh less on the start of 2013 than I did when 2012 started.  Who says you need to gain weight every year?  J
  4. We had a wonderful holiday weekend.  It started with dinner out, then a trip to Annapolis for live jazz, followed by zoo lights in DC.  Then there were fireworks on the first.  What more could a girl ask for?
  5.  I got Vibrams (the shoes with toes) for Christmas and I love them.  For those of you who are looking for “grippy” shoes for weight training or yoga I think these are fantastic. I have a pair for the boat too so I will let you know how that works out once it is boat season again.  Come on spring!  LOL
  6. My sweet husband bought me the latest IPad for Christmas and I am really enjoying that too.  The Kindle app is particularly nice on it.  Now I use the IPad to read instead of my Kindle.  Isn’t technology grand when it works!
  7. Our little boy (Nicco aka Binky) has become a little love muffin. Multiple times per day he needs to cuddle with his mommy.  He is such a precious boy when he is being good.

Since I couldn't add photos above without messing up the numbering on the list here are pictures of my Vibrams for those who don't know what they are.

This is one of the many photos from Zoo lights at the National Zoo in DC. This was so good I will be writing a post about it soon so I can share more photos with you.

Signing Out:

Having been away from blogging for so long I thought I would have difficulty coming up with topics to write about but that hasn’t been a problem yet.  However it is early which means I could still run into trouble.  ;-) 
I hope your New Year has started out well and continues to improve with time. Talk with you again very soon.


  1. well done you for ending the year lighter than you started, despite eating out so frequently:) your toed shoes look very interesting, it will be fascinating to hear how you get on with them!

    1. Good morning Christine,

      Thanks for the kudos. I greatly appreciate the acknowledgement. I was very pleased when I compared my weight 1/1/12 to 1/1/13. I think too often we get used to the scale creeping up a little each year as we age, but that doesn't have to happen. My plan for sharing that my weight was down was to encourage others that it is possible to lose a few pounds even at the age of 50. ;-) I will be sharing more details on how I dropped those pounds in the next post.

      I love my toe shoes! They are a little tough to get on initially as toes are not used to lining up but once they are on the comfort factor makes up for that minor issue. These shoes are designed for barefoot running. Given my creeky knees that probably won't happen. However I love how comfortable they are. What surprised me most was how well they "stick" to the floor. They are wonderful for yoga. As I get more miles in the shoes I will keep you posted.

      I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday,

  2. Looks like you had a lovely holiday!!!!!! That Vietnamese food looks so good!

    1. Thanks Bianca,

      Happy New Year to you! I love Vietnamese food. It is one of my favorites. :-) Thank you, we had a wonderful holiday. I hope you did too.

      Hope you have the most wonderful 2013,

  3. Food looks yummy! Thai is my favorite by far. Good point on the beef broth thing. I hate when I get something that I thought was vegetarian and then it tastes like fish broth or something.

    1. Happy New Year Carissa,

      The broth thing trip me up a few times but now I always ask and that works just fine. This is one of those incidences where it pays to be pushy. ;-)

      wishing you a fantastic 2013,

  4. I managed to gain 4 lbs during the long holiday (though I'm already back down one of them -- yay!). It won't take long to shed them again, but I'm impressed with your resolve!

    1. Brigid,

      Your comment made me smile. I am sure you will get those 4 pounds right back off. The pounds that are a problem are the ones most people keep year after year. I am sure that isn't the case for you. :-)

      Happy New Year, hoping this year exceeds your expectations,

  5. So great to see you blogging again, Ali!

    1. Happy New Year Jackie,

      Thank you so much! It is good to be back though I will admit that I am a bit rusty. It is taking me much longer to write posts and edits pictures than I remember it did in the past. I am counting on the learning (or in this case relearning) curve kicking in soon. LOL

      Hope this year brings everything you desire,

  6. Electronic pressure cooker...I bought one yesterday! It would be lovely if you could share some recipes!'s good to have you back:)

    1. Hey there Simona,

      I just love my electric pressure cooker. Since I got one for the boat I have been using it non-stop. Dan bought me one for home recently and I know it gets more use than my stove. They are great for making red sauce for pasta. If you haven't tried that you should. :-) There will definitely be pressure cooker recipes coming soon since I use it for most of my cooking due to the time element.

      thanks again, :-)

  7. I have a regular pressure cooker and I usually cook soups, potatoes and rice. I've never tried it for red sauce! Looking forward new recipes:)

    1. Mine gets used for beans more than anything. If you remind me (because I always forget) I will send you the cooking time schedule I use for beans.

      Please try to make to red sauce in it. I was very surprised how well that works and being part Italian I make a lot of red sauce. LOL


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