Sunday, February 20, 2011

Food Glamour Shots as Diary

Tomato and Olympus camera. Photo: Emily Farris.
Many of you that are visiting today may have arrived from a link on Facebook.  If that is the case, then more than likely you know me in real life and are familiar with my year in photos project that I just completed this month.  For those of you from other places on the internet, let me briefly explain:
I decided last year on my 30th birthday that I was  going to challenge myself.  I had just been provided with an iPhone from my company and decided to make the most of it's camera capabilities and instant Facebook publishing and then came Photo of the Day on Facebook.  Every day for a whole year (ended up being 366 photos), I posted a picture.  Sometimes funny stuff in everyday life like personalized license plates or silly signs.  Sometimes amazing views of the area I live or travels I took over the last 12 months.  Often times one of my four cats.  And very often times food.

It was really fun and made me look at every day life just a little closer.  I took time out to think about various images that were passing by my eyes.  I also tried to keep it interesting and a bit funny at times.  The self-assigned project actually led me to purchasing a nice D-SLR camera this year for Christmas and I'm working on teaching myself how to use it.  It also gave me a bit more confidence to create this blog. 

Everything I Ate: A Year in the Life of My MouthThis leads me to a great little article I found a few weeks ago at Planet Green.  The article, Take a Photo, Lose Some Weight, really hit home with me.  Not only is it about taking pictures of food, but using those photos to your advantage.  A friend of mine also just told me about a book, Everything I Ate, that does this same thing (but I'm not sure for the same point).

The article suggest using photographs as a food diary.  I already, irregularly, log my food intake so moving up to photos sounds interesting.  Additionally, I can attest that this article is correct!  Ever since I started this blog at the beginning of the year, I've been photographing most everything that I've cooked as well as other items I have eaten as I'm never sure if something will be good enough to blog about so I don't want to miss the photo.  Taking the photo, especially when you know it will be published, really makes you take time to think.  Do I want to show 3 cups of pasta with a cup of cheese on top?  Will that huge bowl of soup look appetizing to others?  Maybe I need a few extra vegetables in this shot?  It is thought provoking and amazing.  The hard part is not putting more on the plate AFTER you take the photo!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Read the Label!

I learned a very important lesson at the grocery store today.  Read the labels.. always.
My local grocery had Margaritaville Shrimp on sale this week so I thought, since I will be traveling for part of this week and Dan will be home alone, that it might be a quick meal that he could make after dinner.  Shrimp is within our diet plan and falls in line with pescetarian limits so why not, right?  Wrong!

I have been making it a habit to read the labels of the pre-manufactured food that I have been purchasing just to make sure that there are no chicken, beef or other meat products in them, as well as getting a general idea of what products container more 'junk' than others.  So I tossed the Island Lime Shrimp box into my cart and decided to go back and take a look at the ingredients:


Really?!?!?!  Chicken Fat in a frozen shrimp entree?  That is crazy!  Needless to say, I did not purchase this product.  Additionally, when I got online to write this post I did the research to find the info at the producer's website and note that in the pasted text above the special 'Contains'  area includes shrimp, milk, wheat and soy but on the actual package, as show in the photo, it only lists milk and shrimp.  Interesting.  I don't know the specific labeling laws and requirements for various food products, but I do find it to be a shame that this product does contain chicken.  Hope this helps provide a bit of a warning to my fellow pescetarians, vegetarians and vegans - especially those of you just starting out like me - be sure to read the labels!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday Night Pizza!

Dan and I were both in the mood for some pizza for dinner on Friday night.  It was great night for us to have a nice evening together and enjoy a movie (old, married folks do date night in-house sometimes).  So instead of forking over $20-$30 for a take-out pizza from whatever major chain or even a local pizza establishment, I decided to see what options were available to us at the local Fresh Market.

As I have mentioned before, I would probably almost kill to have a Whole Foods that is close to us, but unfortunately the nearest one is about 100 miles away.  We do, however, have a Fresh Market that is right near my office.  While Fresh Market does not have the variety that Whole Foods does, they still carry a quality of product that, to me, is a bit improved over most of the other big box grocery stores.  We've also tried a handful of other freezer to over pizzas, and while some of them were good, none were overwhelming.  There was always that residual freezer flavor at the end.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple options at Fresh Market and decided to go with their in-house brand.  I picked up the Fresh Market Margherita Pizza and the White Pizza flavors - which happen to be the only two varieties of their brand available that did not include meat (two other flavors available are Pepperoni and BBQ Style Chicken).  BONUS! Pizzas were on sale - Two for $9.00!  We decided on the Margherita to have first and it came out great.  The instructions are to bake directly on the rack so the crust did get crispy and nice and brown.  The flavors were great and although, yes, it was clearly a frozen pizza, I was quite impressed with the flavor.  The most notable for me was that when I opened the oven to remove the pizza, the entire kitchen filled with the wonderful aroma of fresh basil. 

The pizza was enough to feed us both without us actually gorging ourselves.  Nice thin crust and, as mentioned, wonderful flavor (for a frozen pizza).  Well worth the $4.50.

5 Alternatives to Traditional Grains

Here is a great article from TreeHugger that provides some really good information regarding flax, quinoa, buckwheat, spelt and amaranth.  5 Trendy (and Seriously Healthy) Alternatives to Traditional Grains

Looking to try something new?  Here are some options for you! I've been interested in trying quinoa as I have run across a few recipes that include it.  I've also actually located it at the local Fresh Market so its not an elusive ingredient. 

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Vegan Tempeh Tex-Mex Noodles

I'll start off with admitting that the photo of this meal doesn't look all that awesome, but really it was pretty darn good.  I found this recipe via my Whole Foods iPhone application (see? told you I was an app addict!).  I still had another package of tempeh left over from when we first tried this new (to us) product, and although it didn't go over really well the first time, I had to give tempeh another chance. As mentioned, this recipe is from Whole Foods, I'm very sad to report that there is not one in our area (but I had to have the app).

There are a lot of ingredients in this meal, but it was really easy to prepare.  I left out the brown rice syrup because, as mentioned in my post about my homemade Clif Bars, I still can't find this product at any of our local grocery stores.  The tempeh use in this recipe was a little different than our previous experience as it got more cooking time with the other ingredients, so I think that helped it take on more complex flavors.  I liked the browning time that it got in the skillet and that definately assisted in adding flavor.  I had never made a pasta dish before where you cook the pasta in the entire dish - I've always cooked it seperate and mixed - so I was a bit nervous about this one.  There were a few of the noodles (we used ziti) that came out a bit crunchy on the sides, but overall, most of the pasta was cooked through.  I would vote this one as a success.

Dan said that he liked this dish, but neither of us were in love with it; and he also thought the tempeh was better suited in this dish as opposed to the previous use in the Tempeh Tomato soup.  The green chilies are the predominate flavor throughout the dish and I found that I liked it better once I added a little pepper.  I'm glad that we gave this another shot, but I still don't think tempeh will be a product that we use regularly.  Go ahead and try it out for yourself, if you haven't already, and let me know what you think about tempeh.  Or, if you have any recipes that include tempeh that you are a fan of, let me know... would be game to try again.
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