1. Be a Better…Cook.

    Spicy Parmesan Almond Crackers Edition:

    Usually, I don’t miss much on my low-carb diet…(minus buckets of chips and salsa), but one thing that can be challenging is to find a crunchy, crispy alternative to a good ol’ fashioned cracker. What the heck am I supposed to shovel a pound of guac or cheese in my face with? 

    I have found the answer folks and it is GLORIOUS. If you’re a regular reader, you know my love of almond flour…but this might be the best things I’ve ever done with that magical dust of the Gods. 

    Here’s the recipe for crackers that won’t make you fat and WILL make you happy.

    image

    2 cups almond flour

    2 egg whites

    1/2 tsp. thyme

    1 tablespoon fresh rosemary roughly chopped

    1/2 tsp. garlic powder

    1/2 tsp. onion salt

    1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (lessen if you’re spice sensitive) 

    5 T. grated parmesan cheese

    Sea Salt garnish

    Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and to prep your pan, cut two pieces of parchment paper the exact size of the pan. Line the pan with one, and leave the other aside. Mix all your ingredients together until combined thoroughly. Place dough mixture on the pan and apply the second sheet of parchment paper on top. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough as thin as you can without touching the edges of the pan. Then, score the dough into the desired size squares…Mine were about 1”x1” and turned out perfectly. Top the uncooked crackers with a generous shake of course sea salt. Then, cook for 10-12 minutes and then break up the crackers and sprinkle on some extra parm. Finish up baking by keeping an eagle eye on the browning of the crackers and remove when they are crispy and medium in color. Let cool and then just TRY to not eat the entire pan in one sitting. 

    Let me know what you think!

    xo Chinae

     


  2. Be Better at…Life.

    How to NOT Completely Demolish Your New Year’s Resolutions by February 1st Edition:

    Did you spend the first half of the winter packing on enough pounds to embark on a 6 month tour of Himilaya’s sans food supply? Finally join the gym only to realize that you have to actually hike your ass there to lose weight (bum central)? Want to finally meet someone that tickles all of your fancies (ehem) in 2013? 

    We all make New Year’s Resolutions and SWEAR it’s gonna stick and beach body 2013 will be in check by June, right? WRONG. Fast forward to June and you still look like a member of the Boo Boo family (Mr. and Ms. Honey, that is)…and then soon after, you find yourself once again watching Ryan Seacrest’s NYE Broadcast, a little bit fatter, a little bit poorer, and still kissing Puurrrfect your cat at midnight. 

    5 Be Better Tips to Keep Your Resolutions:

    DIETING: I don’t care if you are The Bundchen herself, I KNOW you still aren’t totally happy with that residual gut you may have gained during your sudden interest in Gingerbread Home-Constructing this holiday season. I get it. As a recovering fatass (Jesus take the wheel), I can honestly say these are a couple pointers that keep me in check daily and have ensured keeping off the poundage:

    • Tell Everyone: No, not in an annoying “look at me, tell me I’m not that fat” way (you are actually huge, btw). Let those closest to you know the details of your diet plan. It’s way harder to cheat when you’ve got a couple people checking in with you and lovingly examining your ordering skillz. You find it’s a sure fire way to deter your casual suggestion for splitting that family-style Brownie Explosion while out with friends.
    • Be Militant: Make a list of approved foods and stick to it like glue. Write it in your phone. Save it to your desktop. Tattoo it backwards on your forehead. I don’t care. There is an awesome amount of freedom in this sort of discipline and having little choice in what to eat…and yes, I know it sounds contradictory and yes, I can see you rolling your eyes. If you bend once, you’ll bend again and again so just stick to it in detail and it’ll become easier by the day. 
    • Stop Lying To Yourself: Making excuses of why you’re allowed to go off the bandwagon is utter and complete bullshit. “I had a hard day”, “I was travelling and there were no options”, and “I’m on my period” are no longer in your food coping vocabulary. Deal with it.

    EXERCISE: Now, as much as I hate waiting for a grown man to do 10lb sets on the leg extension machine (complete with the soundtrack of clanging weights from over-zealous/too easy lifting), I really feel hopeful for people getting their butts in gear and getting active in the beginning of Jan. Some easy gym-motivators:

    • New Music: When new tunes comes out, I make myself wait to listen until I get to the gym. That way, pop pop gets a treat AND I’m focused on something other than my quads burning with hellish fury on squat set #3.
    • Look Good: Now, I’m not saying to put on a full face of makeup before a tough workout, because we all know that that’s a big waste of Laura Mercier’s* time and efforts (*a brand of makeup for my male readers). BUT I am saying pull your shit together…you DO know you are in public, right? You’ll be more motivated to push yourself you don’t look like a dog giving birth in the mirrors of the gym, TRUST ME. Buy workout clothes that are slim-fitting (so you can see your body working and moving), swipe a coat or two of waterproof mascara on before hitting the mats, and for God’s sake gentlemen…buy a new pack of Hanes V-Neck T-shirts and run a damn comb through your hair. 

    DATING: I love the newfound hope a calendar-shift can bring. I really do. But girl/duder, if you think that by doing the exact shit you did last year is going to bring the love of your life to you, I think you might be mistaken. Make a plan to do things differently this year, mix with different circles, ask to be set-up through friends, join groups or find new interesting places to meet people. A hot/smart/downright hilarious girl is not going to walk into your decrepit living room, turn off your Law and Order SVU marathon, and sweep your Olivia Benson-loving butt away for a romantic vacation in the Alps. Get off the couch and make an effort, because expecting different results from the same action is insanity..and no one wants to bring an insane person on their mid-February beach getaway. 

    MONEY: Ah, saving money…SUCH an annoying concept. This one’s my personal resolution this year and man, the prospect of letting my split-ends just sit there and rot due to budgetary constraints is downright depressing. Here are some ways I am gonna try and beat my budget into submission:

    • Make a monthly goal: I’ve made my monthly goals and have to stick to them, or else I get no treats the next month. If I hit my goal mid-month…I get to treat ma’ self! This month’s treat is a hair cut and color…now all I have to do is save, save, save. 
    • Buddy System: Share a copy of your goals and progress via Google Doc with a friend/loved one/spouse/therapist….give them the responsibility and freedom to check in on it whenever they want (this will keep you updating the document and sticking to writing in specifics), and also set up a standing check in every three months to track progress.
    • Drink Less, Cook More: Ugh. Yeah, I get it…

    WORK: Want to be more positive at work and not plot your ballsy escape every afternoon? Want to feel less like you want to kick the water cooler over after a meeting? A couple tips for a great work/life balance:

    • Stop Eating At Your Desk: Chances are, if you are scarfing down your tuna melt while glued to your computer, you are overeating, you are more tired and less satisfied, and your day feels like it lasts an eon. Get up, stretch your legs, insist on eating out or at least get out of your seat and relocate. Even if it’s 15-30 minutes, you’ll feel more productive the rest of the afternoon and less like you want to slam your forehead into the keyboard to see if it would really hurt (it does). 
    • Arrive On Time: This is easy. If you start your day off rushed and off-kilter, that feeling will follow you all the live long day. Get up early enough so you’re not channeling a Cathy comic by the time you get to your desk.
    • Leave On Time: Be clear about what time work is O-V-E-R. You’ll feel less burnt out and you now have NO excuse not to get to the gym/happy hour/date night. Voila! All New Year’s Resolutions are met!

    Happy New Year and Here’s To Being Better in 2013,

    Chinae

     


  3. Be a Better…Cook. {Guest Post by Laurel Dailey}

    Friends, 
    Everyone once in a while, my wild ego takes a break and I let someone else write on my very mediocre blog. Today is that day.
    Welcome.   
    Laurel Dailey is a friend of many friends (including the BF) but I couldn’t help but steal her away partially from all of them and make her a personal friend of mine as well. She started low carbing months ago and this is a journal into her first foray into low-carb baking…pretty stellar I would say. During her time not ranting HERE, she’s making people look good with her photography skills, HERE. She resides in LA with her enormous fur pelt collection.
    Enjoy.
    xo Chinae
     
    **********************************************************************************
    Low Carb Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookie Edition:
    Love will make you do crazy things.
    Though I’ve yet to make any kind of insane proclamations for the sake of a fella (but if that day comes, I’m going to request that each and every one of you kindly refrain from wagging your finger and crowing, “I told you so!” because yes, I know. And you told me so. And I didn’t believe you. And, as of Monday, October 8th, I still don’t, but you all keep saying, “Just you WAIT!” And I keep saying, “Pffft.” All clear? Good.) Er…though I’ve yet to experience that lovely little slice of life cake, I will tell you that having a best friend, and then loving that best friend, will make you do crazy things as well. 
    Such is the case with one of my best friends, Jess Kemp. She’s one of my low-carb lifestyle spirit guides, as is the eternally bodacious Chinae Alexander (HEY THAT’S ME). Jess turned 30 last week, and, though I partially blame the heat for this feverish idea, it’s also love that compelled me to take the following completely-out-of-character actions:
    1. I came up with a recipe for low-carb bourbon bacon chocolate chip cookies.
    2. I baked a test batch on Monday’s triple-digit heat day. 
    3. I adjusted the recipe and baked a SECOND batch for Jess on Friday.
    4. Did I mention that I baked? Because I did. I used a mixing bowl and a whisk and I greased a cookie sheet, and I didn’t even make any lewd jokes in the process. 
    If you can believe that I, Laurel Dailey of “I don’t cook EVER, don’t make me, I can’t even boil water” fame achieved all of these things, then the only explanation I have for you will take you right back to the beginning of this post:
    Love will make you do crazy things. 


    If you’ve got a hankering for the kind of cookie that is inherently awesome (because of the bourbon) and also low-carb, then here’s my recipe. I made a recipe. And though it does contain alcohol, it isn’t a cocktail. Oof. These growing pains I’m getting from going from awesome to awesome-r are really starting to bug me.
     



    -LD

     


  4. Be a Better…Cook.

    If you’ve been reading along for a while…you’d know that I’ve been on a low-carb diet for the past two years and have since shed about 50lbs and got a brand new body in return. Yay for a less-fat ass. 

    During the summer months, I don’t miss carby foods at all…in fact, most of the time it’s too damn hot to eat so I suck on Crystal Light flavored ice cubes while dreaming about chips and salsa, and call it a day. BUT, now that the seasons are changing, my affections for eating are too. When Fall begins, pumpkin pie, stuffing, fruit+crumble, and potato-landen stews start saying my name just like a Destiny’s Child song and there I am, tempted as all-getout. 

    Instead of going on a nutmeg-infused food binge, I’ve tried to make some moderately comparable substitutes for these seasons of comfort and joy. Here is a great autumnal recipe that won’t have people mistaking you for Mr/Mrs. Claus due to your expanding waistline. 

    No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake:

    What You’ll Need…

    CRUST-

    -1 1/2 cups almond meal (or hazelnut meal)

    -4 Tbsp melted butter

    -3TBSP of Granulated Splenda

    FILLING-

    -1 14oz can pumpkin

    -2 8oz packages of cream cheese

    -1 1/2 TBSP of Pumpkin Pie Spice

    -1/2 tsp cinnamon

    -2 tsp vanilla extract

    -1/3 cup of Granulated Splenda

    STEP ONE: 

    The crust is first here people…mix your butter (melt that up before), Splenda, and almond meal and then press it into a 9” pie pan evenly. Bake this without filling (ok so this isn’t completely NO BAKE…whatever) at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until it’s a little browned on top. Let it cool while you make your filling. 

    STEP TWO: 

    With an electric or hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth and the add in the full can of pumpkin. Beat that some more now.  Add in your spices, sweetener  and vanilla and whip on high speed until it’s super fluffy. 

    STEP THREE:

    Spread your filling into the cooled crust and then sprinkle with some extra cinnamon to appear fancy and good at cooking. Refrigerate for 2 hours and then eat em’ up. 

    Happy No-Baking folks,

    Chinae

     


  5. Be Better at…Health.

    I’ve pledged my allegiance to butter many a time on this blog, but today, I’m introducing you to a new friend I made over the weekend.

    Coconut Oil. 

    I’d heard a lot of buzz over this stuff lately, and decided to do some research, haul my ass to Trader Joe’s, and take this jar of slick goodness on a date. 

    I think I’m in love. I haven’t used it in the kitchen yet, but I’ll tell you, my body is already thanking me for spending that hard earned (not so hard earned) $5 bucks.

    My first thought was…putting oil on my body is reserved for beachtime and I would NEVER put it this Exxon-Valdez oil spill of a face (too soon?). But after reading a lot of info on the interwebz, I tried it out. First, I dipped my proverbial toe in the water with using it on my legs after shaving. Result? My legs were smooth, supple, not greasy, and smelled lightly of a beach vacation. Not pissed. 

    Next up, I used it to take off my makeup and as an eye cream before bed. Now, it did feel super oily when I went to sleep, and I was uber paranoid that I would wake up with a face full of pimples. My coworkers might disagree, but I am simply glowing today. My skin felt fresh with no signs of coconut related acne this morning, and my legs still felt incredible. Lastly, I fell and scraped my knee pretty bad last week, yes I am a five year old child, and I applied some coconut oil on my wound before bed…my knee looks SO much better this morning, just saying…

    Here are some properties of coconut oil that make it fucking awesome:

    • Anti-microbial/Infection Fighting 
    • Anti-bacterial (kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum diseases, and other bacterial infections)
    • Anti-carcinogenic 
    • Anti-fungal (kills fungi and yeast that lead to infection)
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • An Antioxidant
    • Anti-parasitic (fights to rid the body of tapeworms, lice and other parasites)
    • Anti-viral (kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other viruses)
    • Infection fighting
    • Known to improve nutrient absorption (easily digestible; makes vitamins and minerals more available to the body)
    In my www.research, there are a million cajillion uses for coconut oil but here were some of my favorites and some of the especially surprising:

    After Shave 
    Body Scrub – mix with a little sugar and insta-exfoliation!
    Diaper Salve 
    Eye cream – apply on the lids directly at night.
    Lubricant – an all natural substitute, but not compatible with latex.
    Makeup Remover – use with a Q-tip or cotton pad.
    Sun Burn Relief 
    Fitness - when ingested, coconut oil has been proven to jumpstart your metabolism, improve thyroid function, and raise energy levels!
    Allergies (seasonal hay fever)
    Cellulite - And all God’s women said “AMEN!”
    Gum Disease and Gingivitis-(use as a toothpaste or rub directly on gums)
    Nutritional Supplement – melt and add to cooking or juices.
    Insect repellentmix coconut oil with peppermint oil extract and brave the outdoors
    Seasoning cookware: great for cast iron pans!
    Moisturizing and cleaning leather products: hello, newly revitalized Fall boots!
    For a full list of uses, look here and here
    One warning…when you open the jar, it’ll look like hardened candle wax but the moment you put it in your hands it will go Alex Mack on you and instantly liquify!
    Let me know what you think when you try it out!
    Later bitches,
    Chinae

     


  6. Be Better at…Health.

    7 Ways to Stick to a Diet:

    Well, first off…we’ve got to chuck the word diet. Let’s use a better word…LIFESTYLE. Diets equate to short term fixes for long term issues. It’s like Kim Kardashian and black men…she’s on a diet (engaged to a half white guy), but she’ll be back on the bandwagon soon, trust. Yes, lifestyle changes are tough, (I haven’t had carbs in a year…see you later 55 lbs.) BUT totally doable. 

    See, the problem is…we want to change our lives, but aren’t actually wanting to take action to see it through. Let’s all get off our lazy asses and do something about our hotness level and oh yeah..that whole health thing. 

    7 Ways to Stick to Your New Lifestyle:

    1) Tell Everyone: Yeah, you talk a lot. So put your big, fat, mouth to good use with your new plan. Tell everyone you know: gym keycard checker, neighbors, friends, mailman, orthopedic surgeon, mom, dad, and the cigarette sales guy at your local deli. The point is…the more people you tell, the more you have people watching you…you are less likely to cheat. And honestly, you’ll have more people encouraging you to make the right choices. Just think, with all that talking you are doing with your mouth, you’ll have a lot less time to eat. 

    2) Pick the Right Change: Pick the right plan for yourself. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing, because the likelihood that it will work for a stay-at-home mom in the midwest AND a busy New Yorker is low.

    Example…I was looking for a nutrition switch up about a year ago. Here’s how I decided which plan to execute:

    -I really dislike cooking… especially difficult things.

    -I eat out ALL THE TIME.

    -I don’t want to go to f*cking meetings.

    -I have no time to think and count points, calories, or any of that nonsense. (Ironic asian, not wanting to count, I know..)

    -I heart vodka.

    So, after making my list of likes and dislikes…I decided on low carb as the best option for myself. Pretty much I can drown myself in vodka, steak, and bacon (all easy to cook, especially the vodka), find something to eat at any restaurant with a few annoying substitutions, and I don’t have to think about counting anything so that leaves space in my brain to write this annoying ass blog. 

    So, pick something that fits with your lifestyle, if you are a social butterfly, eating Jenny Craig at home for every meal probably isn’t for you and you will be crying in your low calorie cereal every morning. The upside to that? I hear tears are lower calorically than milk.

    3) Never Cheat: Just don’t even let yourself for a bite. Not for special occasions, not for vacation, nothing. Unless the Russian Mob has a gun to your head and a latke to your lips…but since that isn’t probably going to happen, don’t go there. One taste can be the first step off the proverbial fatass cliff.  If for some reason you accidentally fall off the wagon after consuming some adult beverages and find yourself face down in a chorizo/egg burrito…STOP, DROP, and ROLL (away from the burrito). A common issue for people is that they cheat a little so they think the whole day/weekend is shot so they let themselves off the hook. Pick up in your next meal, right where you left off weakling!

    4) Be Creative: If you have to eat gelatinous egg whites, a dry ass chicken breast, and a cup of greens for lunch everyday…you are going to quit (or go on a shooting spree in your office). And I don’t blame you. Figure out things you actually REALLY like to eat within the constraints of your new lifestyle plan..and if there are things you are really going to miss, find a close alternative that will tide you over. Make a list of things you’ve really liked eating while on the plan, so when you are stumped for lunch one day, instead of cheating…you’ve got your handy list of deliciousness. 

    5) Exercise Your Way: I hate to run. So I don’t (weak ankles..weeble wobble). Find ways to move your body without putting yourself through what feels like Ancient Chinese water torture. Take up LARPing, jump rope to work, do the worm on your lunch break through the halls of your department…whatever. Set a goal for times per week of exercise that you can actually attain because you’ll become more and more frustrated and guilty if you set your goal too high. I choose weightlifting because it makes me feel badass. So yeah, figure it out. 

    6) Attainable Goals: If you need to lose a buck fifty…don’t set a goal to lose that much in a year. Some people could reach that goal, but to set yourself up to fail miserably is going to consistently make you feel like you are playing catchup rather than rewarding yourself for being on top of your game. Also, don’t weigh yourself daily…do it once a week at a similar time of day. You’ll drive yourself nuts if you are tracking it every day and we are also trying to minimize the crazy in all of our lives.  

    7) Long-Term Plan: Don’t think of this as a jolt or a patch, figure out a long term plan for keeping it up. When you are starting a new plan, think about the fact that you should be incorporating some form of it into the rest of your life…and choose accordingly. 

    Cheers to a less fat ass,

    Chinae