Take me to Flavour Town!!

Sorry It’s been so long since the last post.  I’ll do better.  I promise.

You all know I like food.  Probably tooo much.  Kinda obvious right?  That’s why I am trying to get back to my “fighting weight.”  I have willingly restricted my caloric intake.  I have made some changes to the things I “normally” eat, yeah it’s been awhile since I’ve had eggs benedict and pasta doesn’t happen a couple of times a week like it used to.  But that’s ok.  I have seen some results, and that’s what I wanted.  A smaller waist.  It has happened quicker than I thought it would.  Some days I would also say “easier” than I had thought it would.  But in truth there have been days of struggle, and there have been moments when I was truly on the verge of completely folding, giving in, and just “settling” into the idea of being a fat “happy” gay man.  But still Todd and I persevere.

We have, however, needed to find ways to keep moving forward.  Yes, there are certain items which have become a routine occurrence (especially in our lunch bags).  I will admit that I often find some turkey pepperettes in my lunch bag.  Why?  They are low calorie (100 calories for two pepperettes), they are MEAT (my favourite food group), and they have some flavour (cardboard is NOT a flavour!).  Yogurt and berries are always found in the lunch mix too, because again, they have a nutritive value, are lower in calories and make a great breakfast or mid morning snack without killing my calorie count.  There is always some fresh fruit as well, pears, apples, kiwis etc. (bananas too, but hey…careful, the calorie count is starting to climb there!).  It seems that we have found a way to get through that concept of “brown bagging it.”  I will honestly say that STRAWBERRIES have become my new best friend.  I find them satisfying, just sweet enough to keep my from craving sugary things, low calorie enough to be ALMOST “free” and filling enough to keep me from the higher calorie foods which I would otherwise indulge in. I probably should have started with a post about surviving the “brown Bag Lunch” (actualy thanks for the idea….  draft started right now!).  But lunches are “utilitarian.”  It’s mostly just fuel for the engine.  When you work 12 hour shifts, sometimes you barely even taste what you eat, or remember it 30 secconds later.  Lunch is survival.  Lunch is necessary, but lunch is not a food forward moment (most days).  Unless you are one of the “ladies who lunch” and hang out in Yorkville regularly, just killing time shopping and browsing, you would probably agree with me that lunch is not the starring meal of the day.  Sure, theres that occassional day when you have a wednesday off work and lunch with that friend who just happened to be in town.  Yes, There’s always that occassional sunday brunch with the boys.  But these meals are not the “usual” star.

Dinner.  YES!!  That’s where it’s at!!!  Dinner is the star!!  Dinner is the meal we spend our day waiting for.  That time when we get to sit, without watching our watches, timing ourselves before we head back to the rat race of whatever it is we do “professionally” (so in my case, being sarcastic).  Dinner has a different feel, a more complex expectation.  Dinner is the grown up meal.  Maybe I have different expectations, since I am one half of a childless homosexual DINK couple.  Maybe dinner is no different than lunch.  I’m sure my friend and fellow blogger Mary Beth (hystericallyeverafter.com) might disagree with me, but this is MY reality we are talking about here, so the rest of you can all “get the “F” out” (inside joke, maybe I’ll share it with you later, but it involvees a cottage, some alcohol, great friends and an “F” shapped piece of metal….  Hilarity ensued!).

 Maybe I have a husband who is just a frustrated 50’s “househusband” or maybe he’s just Toni Collette in “United States of Tara.”  I haven’t figured that out yet, but in our house DINNER is the star.  And we eat it LATE…  rarely before 8pm, often as late as 9 or 10pm, we are kinda European that way (really, it’s 100% because of my shift work….).

For us, one of the biggest frustrations with this whole journey has been the flavour/calorie balance.  This comes as no surprise to you all, because I have written about it before.  You know how we have cut fats to be able to control calories.  Likewise sugars have also been slowly finding their way to the door.  This is a good thing.  Yes it is…  BUT.  I.  LOVE.  SAUCES.  They are my world.  They make my meals enjoyable.  I live for flavour.  Todd wooed me into this relationship with flavour.  He then got me addicted to flavour, got me fattened up and proceeded to pull the rug out from under me when I least expected it.  He’s just LUCKY that I love him for more than just his sauces, and that I’m STILL willing to marry him, despite the recent changes in our kitchen.  So, as you can guess, I am constantly trying to find things that will add flavour without adding calories.

 What have I found recently?  Well.  If you like some heat (which I really do) there are a couple of options that I can reach for right away.  My first happy find?  It’s a narrow tall bottle, with a very nice purple/red colour.

On the dark blue label is a very serious looking woman.  The label reads “BUBBIES” beet horseradish.  I’m sure you are already trying to open you lips and tell me “that’s just not my for me.  I don’t like hot!”  So let me just say, it’s not as hot as you think, and the beets add a nice little sweetness to it that cuts the heat.  And I just have to say that it adds flavour, but few calories…  at only 3 calories a teaspoon (which is 9 calories a tablespoon which I am sure is MORE than you’d want to consume), it is a very calorie conscious flavour addition.

 My recent discoveries do not end there however.  I have also been very pleased to find a product marketed by the crazy camaro guy of the Food Network.  Guy Fieri himself!!  First off let me say that I am every bit as influenced by marketing as the next guy.  I also LOVE/HATE that concept, so I often buy things, like say a Gordon Ramsay cookbook, because I truly want it to be good.  Then again, I sometimes, (let’s be honest, quite often) buy things with the distinct expectation (hope really) that they’ll be a flop and prove to me that my Todd is actually just as good as, if not maybe even a little bit better than all of those “celebrity” chefs out there.  I really do realize that there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in use these days.  There is photoshop and, of course, food “stylists” who laquer and manipulate food until it is no longer even edible, just to get a good picture that can never be replicated by an edible product.

 Maybe that’s why I buy things sometimes, just to prove that they are failures!!  In this case though, that was not the way it was to be.  I actually LIKE this sauce.  I won’t say it’s the best thing I have ever eaten.  Yes, it’s mustard based, and I have an even better “go to” mustard that I adore.  But this is a mustard based sauce which has a little warming sensation on the lips (I can’t say it’s hot, but there is a sense of heat there that I find pleasant).  It has a little more to it than just mustard, some little minced bits of peppers so there is a bit of texture, that helps it feel a bit more substantial than a “mustard dip.”  While it may be billed as a “wing sauce” I think it is wonderful on steamed vegetables, or with some meat  such as a grilled chicken breasts, or some roast beef.  Truth is, if you have a meal that seems just a bt too bland and ordinary this sauce can spice things up a little at just 10 calories per table spoon.  Yup that’s it….  1 tablespoon =10 calories.  Big flavour with little investment.  My kinda deal!!

 Ok, here’s another flavour profile I love that reduces the boredom, costs you no calories at all, and is completely in season right now….  SMOKE!  This weekend Todd and I took the time to “dust off” the nice ceramic BBQ we own.  Here’s my recipe….   Hardwood lump charcoal, a chunk of hickory thrown in on top.  Place your meat on the grill, close the vents till you almost choke out the fire and let a wonderful thick smoke roll!!!  Low and Slow baby!!  That’s the trick!  The longer you can get your meat to cook in this environment (without drying it out of course) the more smoke flavour you will be able to add, so control the heat and let that meat enjoy it, like you’d enjoy the beach in Mexico in Feburary.  Of course, you aren’t just restricted to hickory, there’s pecan, applewood, cherry, mesquite… the list goes on and on.  Where there’s smoke there’s flavour!!!

To do a quick recap of a recent blog post.  Cattle Boyz hot sauce.  GET IT!  Flavour and heat and goodness.  If you see a bottle, buy it.  If you don’t like it?  Send it to ME  I’ll make sure it’s well taken care of!!!  ZERO calories…YES I SAID ZERO.  Hard to find LESS than ZERO.  But try if you like…..  let me know if you have any success.

 Still not enough flavour options?  Well, there is another that I like.  It’s a bit more simple.  Not quite as hot.  It has a great pedigree, and the recipe goes back hundreds of years.  You might have a little difficulty finding it, and when you do you’ll pay a little more for it.  It’s Pommery Mustard.  This ain’t “french’s mustard” flavour  and it isn’t “french’s mustard” cheap.  It follows a recipe created by monks sometime in the 1600’s (I believe… but hey who’s gonna quibble over a year here or there right?).  Let’s just say it’s grainy, tasty and goes wonderfully on anything you want, but is especially wonderful on a nice rack of lamb or a juicy chicken breast.  All for only 10 calories for a teaspoon (or 30 calories for a tablespoon).  Still amazingly low calorie.  And very much worth the cash you’ll spend.  Of course, at a teaspoon or two at a time, it’ll also last for a very long time.

These are the newest developments on my journey to low calorie flavour.  I’m sure there will be more discoveries…  We will be planting Todd’s herb garden very soon and I am sure that will inspire yet another blog post as well!  We will be sure to continue to share with you all.  We are kinda generous that way.  I hope you keep reading, and hopefully sharing, the blog loves you and so do We.


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