Wednesday, 27 May 2009

But, does it have to be so chewy?

I was struck yesterday by a sudden desire for baked goods and chocolate. (Really, what I wanted was an oreo. Except, when was the last time you had a single oreo?) So, I did some digging and I found a recipe through ediets for brownies made with splenda (I don't know if that link will work if you're not a registered member). Of course, I monkeyed around with the recipe because I can't leave well enough alone.

The recipe is meant to make twenty-four 200 calorie brownies and it suggests that you immediately freeze half of them. I think this plan has merit. Or, would do if these were anything I'd want to have to parcel out and enjoy for an extended period of time. Let's take a look at some of the changes I made and why they may have been a bad idea.

The recipe called for egg substitute. Now, I love eggs and don't particularly see the need for fake eggs. Also, I have real eggs in my house because I find an egg mixed with onions and some frozen spinach to be a great breakfast. I don't think any of my problems stemmed from the egg substitution. Then, it called for canola-based trans-fat free margarine. I only have the spray margarine and shortening and the real deal in my house, so I had to come up with something else (or use shortening.) I had an open jar of apple sauce that I'm trying to finish before it goes all furry and gross. I used that. This could have been my undoing. I didn't have baking chips in my house, so I left them out. (This is not entirely true. I do have white chocolate chips from well-played cupcake experiment. But, I didn't feel white chocolate fit in with the overall recipe.) The last thing that was different from the recipe was that my cocoa powder is the Hershey's Special Dark powder. Its cocoa powder, and therefore not a substitute, so I didn't think a thing about it.

The recipe itself was super easy. You mix the chocolate and the fat and then you fold in the splenda, eggs and flour. Piece of cake. Into the bowl, into the pan, and into the oven it went.

I had a moment of...cognitive dissonance when the brownies came out of the oven. My flat smelled like tasty, tasty brownies. But, the brownies looked like they had burnt to a crisp. It would seem that the Special Dark cocoa powder is not lying to you when it says its Special and Dark. It is hard to tell from this photo I took with my mobile, but you can see a contrast between the matte black brownies and my china.


Despite being In-Space-No-one-Can-Hear-You-Scream dark, they weren't overly chocolaty. In fact, they were only so-so chocolaty. This was a disappointment. In addition, they had the trying-too-hard chemical aftertaste common to items sweetened with a compound not found in nature. I know it would change the calorie count, but I think next time I may have to blend the splenda with some actual sugar.

The last complaint I have about this food experiment is absolutely my own fault for mucking about with the recipe. They were too chewy and I'm pretty sure this is due to the apple-sauce-for-fat substitution. I like replacing apple sauce for the fat in baked goods, usually. You get the moisture. You are, ostensibly, getting another fruit in. And, by and large, I usually don't notice a difference. You do get a small amount of textural difference in that shortening creates a moist yet, crumbling feeling in a baked good, but I find that the moisture is really what is key and you get that in spades. But these brownies just turned out...chewy. They look like brownies (albeit, burnt ones), they smell like brownies, they are chocolaty like brownies, but they're just not right. Close, yet so far away. Recently, on the Film Noir Experience I talked about when one thing reminds you of something else, but its not quite right. These brownies are like that, only they don't remind you of something, they are something. And, that something was poorly executed. In short, they were disappointing. But, as last minute, made from stuff I had in my home, under 200 calorie treats, they did the trick.

Friday, 22 May 2009

What do you ask the skinny people?

I love dumb questions (not).

Why is it that when I (a somewhat-overweight-but-not-even-remotely-in-need-of-stomach-stapling 30 year old) get a more-or-less healthy lunch (lasanga rolls, veggies, diet soda) some joker has to go "Oh, eating healthy today?"

What? Considering I avoid anything fried like the plague, try to eat veggies at least once a day, and am attempting to cut down on my pastry consumption, that's pretty out-of-line. Actually, that's just out-of-line in general. Would you say "Oh, eating shitty today?" to the skinny person behind me getting a cheeseburger on white bun with some really hideous looking onion rings, two cookies, and a large regular soda? Would you say it to the extremely morbidly obese person ahead of me (and when I say extreme I could eaily fit inside one pantleg and I'm not little) who has bought enough food for a family and is now sitting down to eat by themselves?

Thanks, dude. And for the record...there's a scone in my knitting bag.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

There could have been tears...

A friend of mine is getting married in July. Today we went dress shopping. Now, it doesn't matter who you are or what you look it, Wedding Dress Shopping can (almost) always be described in two words: Epically Frustrating.

You go in and you sit down after you've made an appointment. You end up having to wait because there are only two fitters and the girl who had the appointment before you is standing in the back, in a beautiful Oleg Cassini bawling her eyes out because it doesn't fit quite as it should in the bust and she is not going to get her dream wedding in which she looks like Jackie Kennedy at the White House. You're nervous as hell because trying on clothes is nightmare and you're going to have a stranger picking things out and shoving you into them and because you want to look just right. Not to mention that dresses are expensive and many bridal places don't let you return things should the romance go belly up, which would mean that, worst case scenario you're stuck with a taffeta, lace and bead extravaganza and a fiery ball full of hate in your stomach. And, you're not even in the fitting room yet.

Should you ever need someone to hold your hand (and your self-esteem) when trying on wedding dresses, I'm your girl for two reasons: 1. You are only allowed to get to have the weepy, "I'm so fat and I'll never find a dress that looks nice on me!" breakdown once. We'll cry. We'll talk it out. I will pick you up by your bootstraps and make you soldier on because you are not fat and any wedding dress that doesn't make you feel like a pretty, pretty princess has failed at its job. Seriously, a wedding dress should make you feel like a Queen because you're going to be wearing for a full day while you are the center of attention. And, no one puts on a burlap sack when they know they're going to be the center of attention. You get out your best shoes for that. 2. I come complete with Mary Poppins bag and kick ass sense of humor. I turned up to the fitting today with an extra pair of two and a half inch heels, a strapless bra, spanx, a bottle of water, post it notes, a pen and a camera. (Well, the camera on my phone which actually takes not-too-shabby photos that you can send to your Momma.)

Amazingly, I didn't have to have the "Look,I know you've gone completely Body Dysmorphic after seeing yourself in the funhouse mirrors, but you really do cut a mean silhouette" conversation. Which was pretty amazing. I did want to smack the woman that checked my friend in when we first got there, though. The wedding is in July and the first question out of the woman's mouth was, "Oh, are you pregnant?" Followed immediately by, "We always go one size up because wedding dresses run small." Be that as it may, you just insulted my tiny-pants friend who does things on short notice twice in one breath. Calm down, woman. Not everyone plans years and years in advance.

It turns out there is only one question you need to ask about wedding dresses and that is, "And, what about it don't you like?" We narrowed it down to three and then discovered that each of those dresses had at least one deal breaking feature. The bad news, we had to start all over again. The good news, we were able to pin point exactly what my friend was looking for because we knew what she didn't want. The dress she got, in the end, was in a size smaller than the other dresses she was trying on (Take that, first measurement lady!). And, I agreed to count calories with her from now until the wedding. She would like to drop a few pounds (and maybe pick up some muscle.) I think we can do it. I'm also particularly pleased that the day went off without any major melt downs, freak outs or morose moments sponsored by an unrealistic of view of What Women Should Look Like. We got off pretty lucky. There could have been tears.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

True Story

True Story. About five years ago, I get this brilliant idea. I'm going to lose all this weight that I've been carrying around my whole life. I enlist my sister (who, at the time, was my roommate) and we go on the South Beach diet. Then, we join Curves. We're wildly successful. I don't know how many pounds my sister lost, but I lost something like a hundred. (I didn't keep good records, I only kept track of pants size, how hungry I was, and how good I felt.) I almost never went hungry (unless I missed a snack), I felt great and I went from a size 28 to a size 14 or a 16. I got to shop at regular clothing stores with my friends. It was amazing! Also, I looked smoking hot. I have seriously long legs, and I'd never realized that before.

And, then I went to graduate school and met a guy and got engaged and it all went to hell.

So, now I'm back to square one. I've put all the weight back on. All of the weight. I've broken up with the guy (he was a total loser. Love really does cause blindness.), I'm still in grad school and I have a fabulous kitten I rescued from a parking lot and some nice houseplants. But, I'm so very, very angry at myself for being back at this weight. Basically, things are pretty great, setting aside the rage and the weight gain. And, if I lost it before, I can lose it again, right?

I'd like to say that I've started this because I'm ready to lose the weight again, for reals, y'all, and that I'm ready to work through my issues. But, that isn't really the case. Mostly, its because I'm a stubborn bitch that's pissed at herself for being back here. Also, its a little bit because I had all this diet stuff sorted and now that I've put the weight back on all these skinny folks keep trying to give me tips. Don't get me wrong, every little bit helps, but seriously, five minutes in my amazing three-inch heels and all you skinny bitches would weep. I already drink diet and count my steps, eat my veggie burgers (that I make myself, by the way) without the bun and I'm a firm believer that a half-cup 10-calorie sugar-free jello cup hits the sweet spot every time. I'm fierce, and don't you forget it.

I suspect that this blog will turn into a lot of ranting about society and body issues and all manner of shit that doesn't really pertain to weight loss, but that's really the name of the game, isn't it? Its not what you look like, its how you feel in your own skin. And, if I can get back to feeling smokin' hot, whether it be at a BMI within the healthy range or a BMI that suggests that my heart is actually pumping around congealed fat instead of blood, I'll have succeeded. That's all I really care about.