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Ugh.

I semi-successfully navigated a family cookout yesterday with lots of veggies, a hamburger, and a green bean/roasted grape tomato salad I made, but I decided to do a “cheat day” today and I feel HORRIBLE. Funny how your body tells you what’s working and what isn’t.

Off to not throw up I hope! Ugh!


I Love Alliteration and Recipes That Use Them

I tried to figure out a clever way to make my title an alliteration, but I couldn’t pull it off. Sorry, lovers of figurative language.

I am a fan of summer vegetables, and squash and zucchini are certainly among my favorites. When I think of squash, though, I have to stop myself from thinking of those horrifying autumn gourds that look like they’re diseased and will give you and disease if you touch them or think about them too long. I had some leftover farmer’s market swag from last week and had enough to make Poor Girl Eats Well’s Simple Summer Squash Pasta.

A few things before we get started:

1) As an English teacher I am required to appreciate any recipe that uses alliteration.

2) Poor Girl Eat Well is definitely my favorite recipe blog of the moment. I am one year out of a bankruptcy, and while I’m financially comfortable for the first time in… ever, really, thanks to the bankruptcy, I’m still cautious about money. And, as a teacher, I don’t have much of it anyway. So I really appreciate that there is a recipe blog that doesn’t use really expensive ingredients all the time.

3) I love carbohydrates.

Damn! These vegetables are so... fresh! Snap!

So I’m off to a good start with this recipe. The ingredient list is very short, thankfully, and that’s most of the reason it’s so inexpensive to make. The original recipe calls for grape or cherry tomatoes, but I had these huge beautiful tomatoes to use instead, so I just chopped the tomatoes up into smaller pieces.

I also use pre-chopped garlic. Listen, I know this blog is not scoring points for being gourmet, and I don’t intend for it to be. I’m an amateur cook who is also a bachelor living in a studio apartment with a thimble sized kitchen. I cut corners sometimes. And I still get the flavor of garlic but, admittedly, not as much as fresh garlic would have provided. I recommend, if possible, you use actual garlic.

The recipe also doesn’t specifically call for wheat pasta (actually it calls for cavatappi if possible), but I couldn’t find it in wheat. I’m a big proponent of using wheat substitutes if possible, but a lot of that is due to my own health. Several years ago I had a super gross health problem I won’t go into that had my doctor recommending more fiber in my diet. And wheat provides “good” carbs I guess, so using wheat when possible is something I like to do. Feel free to use good ol’ regular pasta. As far as this recipe goes, I actually think some angel hair would be really delicious as well!

I started by boiling the water and getting things ready to go.

My pasta pot setup.

As the water boiled I chopped my vegetables. I decided to just chop the tomatoes up into big chunks, leaving in a lot of the seeds and whatever that slimy thick stuff that’s in tomatoes is. I did that knowing this pasta dish didn’t have a traditional sauce on it, and I hoped the liquid would help. Here’s my veggie action:

Choppin' broccoli... wait, no...

The pasta was cooking while I did this. As previously mentioned, I used wheat pasta. When one thinks of wheat products, perhaps they are turned off by gross wheat things that were in the past. Cardboard textured breads or overwhelmingly blah tasting pasta, or whatever. Anyway, my first official product review on New (f)Attitude is Ronzoni’s Healthy Harvest pasta:

A healthy harvest without a Shirley Jackson inspired murder lottery!

I suppose, looking at this photo now, it’s “whole grain” rather than wheat, but whatever. You know what I mean.

The Healthy Harvest pasta is relatively inexpensive, although more expensive than the old-fashioned stuff. The health benefits are worth it though. The taste of the pasta was slightly nutty and the texture was hearty and not grainy like wheat products sometimes are. I really liked it in this recipe and would use it again. Reccommended!

While the pasta cooked I sauteed the veggies, starting with the squash and zucchini. My skillet is too small, so I actually didn’t add the tomatoes until the very end in the pasta pot where I combined all of the ingredients. I drizzled in maybe 2 teaspoons of olive oil and the pasta came together beautifully. The tomato guts I left in there really helped bind the whole meal together. The original recipe calls for basil, which I didn’t have, but would have certainly been a delicious addition. The biggest note I can highlight from the original recipe is to really season this well with salt and pepper. The salt brings out the liquid in the veggies and continues to help bind the meal together. Here it is!

Looks good, tastes good!

So, the official review:

Taste: As mentioned, I just love squash and zucchini, so I liked those things in here very much. I would actually cook them for a smidge longer than the recipe calls for (and I did) because I love when they get nice and brown! The richness of the pasta was not overpowering in the least. The salt and pepper was necessary- otherwise it would have been a pretty blah dish. Grade: A-.

Ease of cooking: Incredibly simple. Just chopping and sauteeing the veggies and cooking the pasta. Nothing complicated or crazy. Grade: A.

Amount of clean-up: Not too much, but a little more than such a simple dish should supply. The knife, cutting board, skillet, and pasta pot were really it, but the tomato is sloppy. Listen, this sounds super lazy, I know. This is still a really easy recipe to deal with. Grade: A-.

Value: The PGEW page says this recipe is $1.15/serving, and it makes 4-6 servings. If you were using this as a side dish, that would be true, but because I used it as my meal, I’ll probably get three servings out of it, making that cost go up a little. It’s still ridiculously cheap. And healthy! Grade: A.

Overall grade: A. This recipe is easy, healthy, and delicious. It’s also super versatile and could have any number of vegetables added into, or even some protein to make it more of a full meal. This is definitely one I’ll make again!

 

Are there any recipes you’ve been thinking of trying but would like this fat dude in the midwest to try first? Leave me a link in the comments! Thanks for reading!


Why I Hate Exercising Around People

I tried and failed to exercise yesterday.

I live in a large apartment building that offers among its amenities a workout facility. I’ve also discovered it offers gigantic cabinets loosely secured to a wall! Anyway, the way the building is set up, there is a track around the workout room. Yesterday, when I tried to access the room, it was locked. I, of course, took that as a sign from the Lord that I shouldn’t work out that day. I went back upstairs and instead started this blog.

Today it was locked again, but I was SMART today and brought down my building-issued ID card which buzzed me in. Logic is awesome.

I decided, as previously mentioned, to holla at the elliptical machine for my first venture. Several summers ago when, for the bajillionth time I tried to work out more, I used an elliptical machine and ended up not hating it. I imagined it sort of being like the Gazelle machine my parents used at the time, and it isn’t. The elliptical machine makes me hurt like crazy from my butt to my feet. I wish Tony Little were around to help me:

RESULTS! RESULTS! RESULTS! RESULTS!

Actually, I take that back. I couldn’t handle Tony Little in any capacity.

I wanted to work out for 30 total minutes today, and I accomplished that. I did 15 minutes first on the treadmill, 10 minutes on the elliptical, and 5 more minutes on the treadmill. I hope to change those proportions eventually. I felt pretty good about it ultimately, but near the end of my workout, three people joined me in the workout room.

Am I the only one who hates working out in front of people? Listen, I understand my body’s unique floppiness, but I feel like others are staring at my waistline. Watching the undulation of my skin. Trying to figure out if they played a pair of claves to the beat of my manboobs movement if it would make a hit song (answer: obviously yes).

The worst part was it was (what I assume at least) a young child and his parents. Children are always particularly fascinated by fat people and stare at me while I shop or eat at restaurants. It was a boy who was maybe around eight and his mid-30s or so parents, but the most fascinating aspect of their arrival while I was ellipticizing (a word now, yes?) was that the man, who had crutches, brought a folding lawn chair, unfurled it, and sat in it with a book while his wife and son ran around the track which was not even in the same room. At first I thought, “Maybe he’s going to work out his arms,” or “Maybe that book is really heavy.” But no, he simply sat in a folding lawn chair reading a book. He, thankfully, faced his chair in the opposite direction of my workout. Staring him down would have been nightmarish.

I came back upstairs when I was done and felt good, but wondered how effective the whole process had been. When I was doing Couch to 5k I was basically exhausted every day when I finished working out. Is exercise supposed to feel that way? I don’t know, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to die when I was done today. Victory.


Crashing Into Stuffed Turkey Burgers

Last week I literally had a fourplex cabinet fall on me. Would one call that a fourplex? Well, whatever, four cabinets fell on me while I was cooking in my kitchen. I was making what I thought was going to be a delicious meal- garbanzo and mushroom burgers– and, instead, I was nearly crushed to death by my own dishes and food. I was standing at my sink, heard a creak, and looked up to see cabinets falling at me. This was the result

The mess of all messes.

All of my dishes broken, I’m still waiting for my apartment building to reimburse my damages for something that was completely their fault and not mine. I know it’s only been a few days, but I don’t understand the delay. It took my mother, sister, and me an hour to clean it all up, and I imagine it would have taken me triple that to do on my own.

I mention this because I was making something of a burger, but a healthy one. For dinner tonight, I thought I wanted something burger-y again, and I did still have the wheat buns. I landed on making turkey burgers because they were still healthy but fulfilled my need for something meaty. Insert joke here.

I looked online for turkey burger recipes, and the reviews for all of them I found said the same thing: they’re dry. So I tried to find a recipe where the burger wouldn’t be dry, and I landed on Ellie Krieger’s Stuffed Turkey Burgers.

When it comes to cooking for me, I have a few things I look for and will review the recipe upon:

1. Taste. Obviously, that matters, right?

2. Ease of cooking. I’m an amateur (on a good day) cook, so it needs to be simple.

3. Amount of clean-up. I don’t like a lot of it.

4. Value. I’m poor and don’t like spending money.

So I’ll go through my experience with it, and give you my rating, recommendation, whatever.

The recipe is really simple in terms of ingredients. Just ground turkey, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, and salt and pepper. I’ve photographed them for you here. For your viewing pleasure!

Om nom nom!

I had to purchase all of the ingredients except the buns which, as mentioned, survived the Stock (of all of my dishes and food) Crash of 2011. It destroyed my spices too, so I even had to buy the salt and pepper. I could have easily roasted my own red peppers, but it’s approximately 12 billion degrees in the midwest today, so I wanted to avoid doing anything other than cooking the burgers.

The recipe itself calls for skim milk mozzarella which, for whatever reason, I couldn’t find. I also probably didn’t look for it very hard. I did see fat free mozzarella which, in retrospect, I’m super glad I didn’t buy. I have what many would call an unhealthy relationship with cheese, mostly in that I eat more of it than any man should. While preparing the burgers I had to stop myself from doing that fat kid thing (or, really, that every person thing) where you grab as much cheese as you can between your thumb and pointer finger and eat it. And then you do that like seven more times. Because I’m trying not to be so gigantic, I physically restrained myself from doing it this time. SUCCESS.

When I started to actually put the burgers together it was really very simple. I got out a cutting board to chop the peppers, and I guestimated the measurements for them and the cheese. It worked out. Turns out I’m awesome at using math to estimate measurements. Okay, fine, it had nothing to do with math.

So you make four patties, make two out of each of those for a total of eight, then add in the peppers and cheese and re-smush them. I got all into that, forgot to take a picture of it, and just decided to take one apart and show you that:

Sorta looks like blood and guts.

And considering the aforementioned 24 trillion degrees it was in Missouri today, I was not about to travel to the roof of my building and use their grill. Also, I’ve never operated a grill of any sort. I’m 27 and I’ve never actually grilled out. My friends usually handle it. I’ll have to add that to the plan for this blog. Anyway, I used my friend George, the friend of every bachelor:

By George!

The Foreman cooked the burgers quickly and it did indeed make some nice grill marks on them. I’m stupid and forgot to salt and pepper the first two, but I saved the last two. I added some red leaf lettuce I had in the fridge as well as some tomato slices. For a side dish, my grandmother brought me some fresh corn and I used the GFG on that one too. I put melted butter with lime and cilantro on the corn (not too much- maybe three teaspoons?) thanks to inspiration from this recipe.

Burger and corn!

Pretty, right? It’s sort of this all-American meal thing, much the way our founding fathers intended it. But healthier.

The first thing I noticed is that the buns were quite a bit larger than the burger itself. I don’t think I could have made the burgers any larger, so that was a negative, but something easily solvable. Actually, to the end of the buns, I wouldn’t use the wheat buns on this again. The wheat flavor really overpowered the other flavors. Turkey doesn’t have much taste really to begin with, so I was looking for the flavors of the mozzarella and roasted peppers. I think with a more strongly flavored burger they would work really well. They were tender, which sometimes wheat items can be super tough.

The burger itself was good but not great. Forgetting the seasoning really didn’t help, but even when I had a second burger (obviously they were good enough for seconds) that was seasoned it was a bit underwhelming. The meat could have used some additional seasoning or herbs- maybe some oregano or parsley. Maybe even something spicy like cayenne. As I ate the burger and found the stuffing, I could taste the peppers through all the accoutrements, but the cheese may as well have not been there. Maybe putting a slice of mozzarella on top of the burger and melting it would have been more noticeable.

The corn was delicious, though. The original recipe calls for handling everything differently, but drizzling the melted butter over the cob itself was, I’m sure, just as delicious. I also just completely skipped the cheese that recipe calls for- didn’t miss it at all, really.

To top the whole dinner off, I bought a six pack of Hornsby’s Hard Apple Cider. I have tried other hard ciders before and usually like them, but this one was particularly delicious because it wasn’t cloyingly sweet or sour. It struck a great balance between sweet and bitter- I’ll definitely be trying it again. It cost $9.27, which is not bad for a six pack of adult boozage.

So as for my little rating system for the meal, I’ll use grades because I’m a teacher and I’m hilarious and clever:

Taste: Taking just the burger into consideration rather than the overwhelming bun, I think it was a nice attempt at flavoring what could be a bland burger. The peppers were great and kept the meat moist in the middle (innuendo unintended). The cheese, as mentioned, was not really noticeable inside the burger. I’ll give this burger a B-.

Ease of cooking: Really easy. I’ve never made a “stuffed” burger before, and I would definitely do it again. It gets an A here.

Amount of clean-up: Not a whole bunch- I wish I would have saved myself a plate to clean by just mixing the burgers in the package it came in rather than in another bowl then transferring those burgers to another plate. My fault. I’ll give it an A-.

Value: I won’t count the cost of the salt and pepper because most people already have them. The jar of peppers was about $3.50- but buying your own red pepper to roast would be much cheaper. The turkey was about $5.50 and the mozzarella was about $2.50 for a total of $12.00, and I’ll get two meals out of it.A $6.00 isn’t all that bad, but it could have been a lot cheaper if I’d done some of the work myself. I’ll give it a B. Edit- I’ll get three meals! I had a burger for lunch the next day with some home made cole slaw on the side. Pretty good as leftovers, but I would not make the cole slaw again. Perhaps a recipe review of that one coming later.

Overall, I’ll make this again using a “regular” bun. I’ll also melt the cheese on top and mix the peppers into the patty rather than stuff them. Final grade: B+. Solid effort, Ellie Krieger.


I’ve Got A New (F)attitude!

There are several things to know about what this blog will be:

1. I’ve had this song in my head since I thought of the name.

2. I’m a 27 year old fat man.

I’ve been fat for essentially my entire life. I think all fat kids have very specific memories of moments of fatness. I’ll share two:

1. In 4th grade I played on my elementary school’s basketball team. Our team thought it would be clever to get nicknames on our jerseys instead of our last names, and I selected “tornado” because I watched The Weather Channel more than Nickelodeon. At a tournament in Rosendale, Missouri a boy on a third grade basketball team came up to me and said, “They should have called your earthquake!” and the rest of his team, coaches, and parents of the team laughed directly at me.

2. A girl I had a crush on in the 6th grade told me I had ZZZ cup boobs.

3. I like food.

I’ve always liked food, but even as an adult I’ve grown to love eating and cooking food. I watch more Food Network than any 27 year old man should. I think that I’m okay at cooking, but I am not even close to being good at it. I bet you’re better at cutting vegetables than I am.

4. I’m a teacher and a writer.

This will not come into play too much- I try to keep all that stuff separate from the blog. The writer thing, though, that’s important. I’m also going to try to write a book while I’m blogging about things this blog isn’t about, so basically one or both of them will epically fail.

5. Exercise blows.

God, doesn’t it? I see these people who like exercise and it’s like they speak another language. I lack the ability to effectively communicate with them. Earlier this year I attempted the Couch to 5K program. It worked for like a month and a half, and then I got really sick and completely stopped working on it. I’ve probably tried to run three times since February. My latest plan is to use the workout equipment provided to me in my apartment building to maintain variety and enthusiasm for exercise. It probably won’t work. I’m also using the Audible app on my phone and listening to books while I workout. I love reading, so maybe adding something I love into something that is awful will cancel the crap out? The first book I’m listening to is The Happiness Project.

What can you expect?

On New (F)attitude, you can expect:

-recipe reviews. I’m not at all creative enough to come up with my own recipes.

-exercise honesty. I promise you I will not tell you I love using an elliptical machine if I don’t love using an elliptical machine.

-product reviews. These will usually be random things I find in the organic section of my local Hy-Vee grocery store. I’d love your suggestions!

-article reviews. Any health, food, or exercise related article is up for grabs. I’d love your suggestions here, too.

-restaurant reviews. My city does not offer a lot when it comes to healthy food or restaurants that don’t end in Bell or Hut. But there are some. And Kansas City is nearby. A lot of it will probably be figuring out how to eat out at restaurants I already love and not have a coronary attack when I leave.

-rants. Probably lots of them.

So I hope you stick around, and I hope you enjoy!