Sunday, January 30, 2011

Happy Dog.....Happy Anniversary!

Its been a busy, snowy week in Cleveland. My doggy, Stella, of 10 years had some surgery.

She had a tumor removed from behind her ear and has some stitches. She made it through and I'm happy to report she's back to her perky self. Sometimes poor Stella takes a backseat in this family because of our crazy schedules, but, the thought of possibly losing her this week made me realize how important she is to me. She is always there for us no matter what kind of moods we are in. Nothing like the unconditional love of a dog( sniff, sniff).

There have also been some celebrations in my family this week which has resulted in me eating my way through Cleveland. Happy birthday to my Mom! For her birthday, we ate at Luchitas which is one of my oldest and most favorite Mexican restaurants. But, I will be saving that for another blogging time. The other celebration was my 16th wedding anniversary!! That's right, I got married young at the tender age of 14. Just kidding... just don't want to give away my age right now.
Anyhow, B and I decided to celebrate with dinner and a movie.

I wanted to get caught up on some of the Oscar nominated movies so we saw The Fighter. This is the best movie I've seen in a while. I wasn't sure that a movie about boxing would be my cup of tea. But, the movie ended up being about love, relationships, and the strong bonds of family(no matter how dysfunctional). The big Irish family in this flick was like a trainwreck! I couldn't look away. Christian Bale's performance was amazing. We caught the movie at the Capitol Theatre which is a beautifully revamped theater with very little leg room(guess people were a lot shorter back in the early 1900's). Still, a fun place to see a movie.

Next, we headed across the street to this place.....

We were on a roll because like the movie, this is one of the best places I've eaten in a while. Did we have a romantic candle lit steak and lobster dinner? Not exactly... we ate hot dogs! But
these were like no other hot dogs I've ever experienced. You get to choose as many toppings out of 50 as you want from the toppings menu below. I started out with 3 toppings.... spicy yellow mustard, Bourbon baked beans, and vodka sauerkraut.

My crazy spouse of 16 years was trying to win the hottest hot dog of the year award with his hot dog topping order of hot banana pepper rings, habanero pickled red onions, and spicy mustard. Good thing there is a vast selection of microbrews on tap and in the bottle to wash it all down. For you wine O's, there are a few wines on the menu, but I think we all agree that hot dogs call for beer.

This is my delicious mess of a hot dog.

The only side dish choices are french fries and tots. BUT... there are 19 dipping sauces and 9 toppings to choose from. We chose Chipotle ketchup and Sriracha hot sauce. I had so much fun picking out my toppings and sauces! I can't wait to return so I can try others. The atmosphere was a lot of fun complete with good music(lots of live bands) and a 50's art deco kind of look.

Well, I know my title is The Caring Foodie. And I'm trying to figure out how a caring foodie could send you to a hot dog joint..... In my defense, the toppings are made fresh daily and my selections were low-fat and full of fiber(even though a hot dog was buried underneath). My best advice is to stay away from the cheeses, mayos, hollandaise sauce, and fried egg. You can also split your fries like we did. Oh.. and you can also select a vegetarian hot dog as an alternative. But my best advice after a meal like this is to just work your hot dog buns off the next day as I did cross country skiing. If you can't beat the weather, join it.

Cross country trails at Chapin Forest... another great Cleveland activity.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

YOLO.... Battery Park Wine Bar

Yolo is a new restaurant and wine bar in Cleveland's Battery Park neighborhood. "YOLO" is an acronym for You Only Live Once. So, I have to ask..... If I only live once, why won't you feed me? Why do most wine bars seem to have itsy bitsy portions? As a dietitan, I can appreciate all things are good in moderation, but, I hate leaving a restaurant feeling like I want to order a pizza. That being said, the food we did order was very tasty and beautifully presented. The service was very friendly. The atmosphere was fun and sophisticated.

Our waiter advised my friend and me to order about 3 or 4 menu items as they are more like tapas than full entrees. We started with the mixed board($16) which is a plate of artisanal cheeses, herb marinated olives, cured meats, grapes and bread. The 3 types of cheese were delicious, but, the size of a pat of butter. I also had to stalk the waiter for extra bread(which I hate). The olives and olive oil were both exceptionally good.

Next, I had the soup of the day(pictured below) which was sweet potato bisque with smoked feta, chives, and herb- infused olive oil drizzled. This was definitely the highlight of the meal. It was delicate and sweet combined with the sharp flavor of the smoked feta. The soup was a nice portion size.

Next, we had the Lamb Sliders. These consisted of braised lamb and Kasseri cheese with spinach. They were delicious and I savored my 1 slider because there were only 2 on the plate.
It definitely left me wanting more. So, I don't recommend sharing this plate.

There was a nice selection of wines by the glass and bottle which were reasonably priced. There is also a good selection of beers. So all in all, I would recommend this as a fun place to go out for a drink or appetizer with friends. I look forward to returning on a balmy summer evening to take in more of this newly renovated Cleveland neighborhood.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Slow-Braised Winter Greens

Greens seem to be the latest "sexy" food in my cooking magazines. They have been around forever, but, have recently been picking up steam(no pun intended). Actually, steaming is the best way to prepare them, but, I love most recipes that include the word braised, so, I decided to give this one a try. The recipe calls for collard greens, but, I used Kale. According to the whole foods website, Kale is one of the healthiest foods around. It a "super food" in terms of cancer-fighting properties, anti-inflammatory benefits and it can also assist in detoxification(which seems to be huge goal this year for so many of you). And it tastes pretty damn good. I would say it has an earthy flavor.... a bit peppery. O.K.... That's probably more than anyone wants to know about Kale, so on with the recipe.

Start by cooking 3 slices of applewood-smoked bacon slices(not pictured) in a dutch oven until crisp. Remove bacon and crumble. Then saute 1/2 c chopped onion in bacon drippings for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 t of crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 t salt, and 16 oz of packaged, prewashed greens of your choice. Cook until slightly wilted.

Next, add 1/4 cup of dry white wine, 1/2 c water, 1c. of low-sodium chicken broth, 2 T cider vinegar.

Toss in crispy crumbled bacon.

Cover and simmer on low-heat for 1 hour or until greens are tender.

I served the greens with some oven baked french fries. I simply cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch slices and brushed with olive oil. Sprinkled on some sea salt and favorite spices. Then bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

These make great side dishes for your favorite grilled meat or fish. But for me, the pork chop was the side dish tonight.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can I Have Some of Your Tots???

Last weekend I had a chance to go visit the town of Oberlin since I was at the college for my son's swim meet. And I can't believe that I haven't ventured out there before. It's only 30 minutes away from my house and so quaint. The town has a great book store and quirky five-and-dime. I also spotted some candy and ice cream stores that would be great to visit in the summer. Being my usual foodie self, I had to explore my restaurant options before I headed out there and settled on a restaurant called The Feve. I highly recommend it. One thing I love about college towns is that you can always find delicious, fresh and adventurous food! And that I did.

They had me at Magic hat #9 ( my favorite beer in the world). But they had my daughter at TATOR TOTS! That's right... a menu of homemade tator tots. These tots were a far cry from the frozen, reheated tots I overdosed on in college. The menu included spicy tots, cuban tots, stinky tots, Megan tots, and fresh garlic tots..... just to name a few. Did I mention the dipping sauces. Fun! There were at least 20 different sauces. My daughter and sister could not resist quoting tot lines from Napoleon Dynamite. That joke never got old.

I made a huge blunder and lost the only picture I had of my tots and the delicious spinach pie in filo with feta cheese. Sorry! I did get a picture of my sister's burger above which may have been the best burger I have ever tasted(seriously). There was an extensive variety of burgers as well. The menu had a nice list of salads and sandwiches that grabbed my attention such as the coconut curry chicken salad in a pita. You can visit to view the menu. As for the tots, I guess you will just have to conjure up an image of the tastiest tator tots ever and dream until you too take a roadtrip out to The Feve in Oberlin.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sweet potato and black bean chipotle chili

Its week #1 of the new year. I'm feeling good about my resolutions. I started a new yoga class this week that I love, I am well rested, catching up on lots of reading, and planning a lot regarding my meals. Being the new year, I have been getting lots of questions from co-workers about dieting. My best advice.... don't diet. Stop obsessing over dieting and losing weight. Start thinking about being healthy. Think about what foods you need to eat more of and not what you need to stay away from. Write down everything you eat for a few weeks. This helps to show you the big picture of what you are missing or eating too much of. What makes you feel good and strong? Start cooking. Make big batches of healthy foods so that you have extra for lunches. It helps take the guess work out of what to eat when you already have something ready to go in the refrigerator. When you get tired of eating it... freeze it for a dinner later that month.

Here is my big batch of black bean, sweet potato chili. I found it in Eating Well magazine this month. It is full of vitamin A, vitamin C, and has over half your day's requirement for fiber. Plus, at 307 calories per serving, it helps to take the weight off.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium to large sweet potato

1 large onion

4 cloves of garlic

2 T. chili powder

4 t. ground cumin

1/2 t. ground chipotle powder

1/4 t. salt

2 1/2 c water

1. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add sweet potato and onion. Cook about 4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt. Cook for 30 seconds.

2. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat. Cook for 10 or 12 more minutes until sweet potato is tender. Add beans, tomatoes, and lime juice( I also added 1 c. of roasted corn). Increase heat and cook another 10 minutes until it is slightly reduced.

3. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. I topped off with some more lime juice and some crushed tortilla chips.

Healthy Eating!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I'm back in 2011!

Hi fellow bloggies! Happy New year! Its a sunny day at the start of a new year and I am feeling inspired. I just put away all of my Christmas stuff and at the risk of sounding like a scrooge, it felt so good to take down all that crap. Its time for fresh starts and new goals. But first, I feel the need to apologize in regards to my lack of blogging. I'm ashamed to say that my last post was in November(boo!). I think I started to feel discouraged by lack of readers, the time in took, constantly taking pictures of my food, etc..... But now I realize that this is just something that I need to do for me. It helps me to keep on track with eating well, cooking more, and seeking out other wellness opportunities. Plus, I learn so many great things from all of you bloggers! That cliche about getting right back up on the horse after you fall is so true. We are too hard on ourselves... a slip up does not equal failure. Why do we often feel like quitting when we just have simply gotten off track a bit?

Here are some of my goals and hopes for the year 2011....

  1. Want to continue to cook often trying diverse and healthy new recipes and ingredients.

  2. Want to learn to take better pictures of those foods for the blog(may involve a new camera).

  3. Want to keep exploring different types of exercise. Varying your exercise, not only helps you use different muscles, but, also helps prevent boredom. I want to make exercise more about feeling good and boosting my seratonin levels rather than just about how I look. Although that part is always nice, too.

  4. I am celebrating the fact that I have just paid off a huge chunk of debt and I intend to become more financially savvy this year. Hope to make some home improvements with that extra cash flow.

  5. Want to spend more quality time with my kids as they are growing up too quickly. The 4 of us will take turns picking out 1 family event each month(In December we visited the Christmas Story house which was really fun!) We will also take a family vacation to really get away from it all.

  6. Want to worry less about everyone else(this does not mean caring less) so that I may have more serenity for myself. The only person I can work on is me.
  7. Want to do more for others by volunteering. I really believe happiness can best be achieved in service to people who are in need.

Science tell us that it takes about 21 day to break or form a new habit. So, if you are trying to diet or exercise daily, stick with it throught the first 3 or 4 weeks. One website I intend to visit(just read about it in Family Circle), is They have an assortment of programs ranging from weight loss and smoking cessation to programs that will help you learn to enjoy being in the present. It assists you by providing daily tips and encouraging E-mails. Sounds interesting!!!!

I am off to try a new yoga class at Studio 11 in Tremont(no time like the present). Hope you guys keep cooking, running, and being the dynamic foodies that you are! I would love to hear about any good ideas you have for 2011. Be well.