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October 2009

Shrimp and grits heavy on flavor, light on calories

My version of Whole Foods' shrimp and grits.

A couple months ago, I went grocery shopping with my son, who can make extras seemingly leap into the shopping cart. That week it was instant grits, cheese flavored.

So I made it for breakfast the next morning and the boy was not impressed. Great, what am I going to do with a box of grits?

Then, on a trip to Whole Foods, I found the answer. Right outside the door was a stack of The Whole Deal, the grocery chain's newsletter/coupon treasure trove. (Grab one of these when you go because there are a ton of great coupons, and great recipes.)

This time there was a recipe for Easy Shrimp and Grits With Sweet Peppers. Bing! I found a use for the grits. I followed the recipe pretty much as written but I subbed out the regular grits for the cheese grits and I added more shrimp, to boost the protein. Shrimp is crazy low in calories so a few extra only adds 20 calories per ounce. I also didn't add the salt and used reduced-sodium bacon because I'm a bit obsessed with reducing sodium.

But this recipe has it all -- crunch from bacon, creaminess from grits, sweetness from red peppers, heat and tartness from the hot sauce and lemon juice (I used Frank's Red Hot sauce). And each serving has only 280 calories. Here's the recipe from Whole Foods:

Easy Shrimp and Grits With Sweet Peppers

(Recipe from Whole Foods Markets)

3 slices 365 Everyday Value Uncured Bacon
1 cup white or yellow grits
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 small yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green or red bell peppers, cored, seeded and sliced
1/3 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (fresh or frozen and thawed)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons hot sauce, plus more for serving (optional)


Cook bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, flipping once, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off and reserve all but one teaspoon bacon fat from skillet. Set aside off heat.

Meanwhile, bring 3 1/2 cups salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Whisk in grits, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thick and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. (Some grits have different cooking times, so adjust water and cooking time as needed.)

Reheat the one teaspoon bacon fat over medium-high heat; add onions, garlic, peppers, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Move onion mixture to one side of the skillet and add another teaspoon bacon fat. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add lemon juice and hot sauce. Toss shrimp and onion mixture together. Spoon hot grits into bowls and top with shrimp mixture. Crumble bacon over the top and serve with additional hot sauce on the side.

Makes 4 servings.


Per serving (about 14oz/393g-wt.): 280 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 65mg cholesterol, 630mg sodium, 39g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 12g protein

It's bargain workout DVD time!

DeluxewalkLooking to shake up your workout? How about a fitness DVD for less than 4 bucks?

Uncle Graveyard (don't know why it's called that) has a bunch of DVDs right now. A few selections:

  • Kathy Smith Fat Burning Pilates
  • Kathy Smith Yoga Sculpt
  • Leisa Hart's Fit Mama
  • Shape Up With Sharon Mann: Yoga/Pilates
  • Deluxe Walk With Leslie Sansone
  • FitmamaLilias Yoga 101: Workout for Beginners, 2 DVD set
  • The Firm: Express Cardio
  • The Method Dynamic Body Makeover, 3 DVD set

There are others, too, but all of these are $2.99 apiece, even the multiple DVD sets. Some of them are a few years old but there are a lot of good Kathy Smith and Firm titles.

I've ordered from Uncle Graveyard before and they're a good company to deal with.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's food journal

The-very-hungry-caterpillar I wrote this piece last year to honor The Very Hungry Caterpillar's 40th birthday, but today the beloved children's book was used in the Read for the Record Day. Millions of kids read the picture book along with teachers, parents and celebrities. It was one of my son's favorites and he still has it in his bookshelf.

I had a little fun with the book, breaking down the insect's "food journal." Let's check out the little bug's eating plan (with annotations):

  • On Monday he ate through one apple. But he was still hungry. (Should have had some peanut butter or string cheese with that -- a little protein and fat for staying power)
  • On Tuesday he ate through two pears, but he was still hungry. (A little surprising because as fruit goes, pears are high in fiber, but still, mix in a little protein; a nonfat Greek yogurt would be lovely)
  • On Wednesday he ate through three plums, but he was still hungry. (Plums are quite small)
  • On Thursday he ate through four strawberries, but he was still hungry. (Strawberries are among the lowest calorie fruits as they are full of water)
  • On Friday he ate through five oranges, but he was still hungry. (But you did get more than a day's worth of vitamin C)
  • On Saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon.

That night he had a stomachache. (Well, no wonder, buddy. You overdosed on fat, sugar and refined carbs!)

The next day was Sunday again.

The caterpillar ate through one nice green leaf, and after that he felt much better. (Some may call this a remorse salad)

Biggest Loser season 8, ep. 4 recap: Dining out, dining in

Biggest Loser Julio

(Since Google has pretty much blacklisted, I'm going to start posting my Biggest Loser recaps here as well!)

We continue with the reign of Queen Crazy Eyes Tracey as Shay chews her out for going back on her word at elimination.
Billian (that's Bob and Jillian) comes into the gym to try and bring the contestants together, post-elimination. Bob also reminded Queen Crazy Eyes that she hasn’t yet worked with the trainers in the gym and still needs to get medical clearance from Dr. H.

Jillian felt like doing a little verbal boxing and her punching bag was Julio. She asked him if he was happy. Yeah, sure, he said, he was happy -- with everything but his weight. “You’re not 407 pounds and happy!” she pleaded with him. “Have you ever been excellent at anything?” she asked. His answer: food.

Tracey met with Dr. H and got bad news – her CPK (not California Pizza Kitchen) levels were high in her blood, so he forbade her from doing any kind of exercise. “I don’t want to go home looking like this!” she cried. “It has to get better.” Her teammate, Coach Mo, consoled her, and told her he’d carry the weight for Team Purple.

Ali greeted the contestants in the kitchen, where every cabinet, freezer and fridge was locked up and was to stay that way all week. And here’s the shocker: They had to order out for every stinkin’ meal all week. Tracey’s eyes got huge – imagine not being able to workout and eating restaurant food all week. Ali had a little quiz for them on the calorie content of restaurant foods. The people who guessed correctly would win a year’s worth of healthy foods. (I guessed correctly, did you?) Pink team won that contest.

After ordering takeout meals and having them arrive not quite as they wanted, Danny decided that he was going to make it easier when he got home by precooking grilled chicken breasts and having them ready for meals instead of being at the mercy of takeout. Billian took the crew out to dinner to show ‘em how to order healthfully. They took them to a Mexican restaurant (California usually does Mexican food more authentically than the rest of the country, ie: no mountains of cheese). Jillian exhorted them to bring a calorie counter with them. I use Calorie King Mobile, which is fantastic for dining out and throwing a big wet blanket over your friends’ meal enjoyment. :)

The challenge: They were playing for immunity again. They had to hang on to handle bars bolted to a platform over a pool, and over time the platform would tilt, making it harder. It looked pretty sadistic.

Quote of the week, from Daniel, the winner: “I can freakin’ hang from my shoulders all day.”

That win was big for Daniel – this is week 4 and last season he went home at week 4.

Last chance workout: Wow, I’ve never seen anyone workout with two kettlebells before. Fierce, Rudy! Liz stumbled on the step jumps (oh, how I hate that exercise!). Here’s a tip, though, if you want to do those infernal things, put the step near a wall so you can grab onto the wall if you have to. Coach Mo worked out for himself and Tracey with his intensity. But it might have been too much – his lower back seized up. Bob thought Coach Mo’s panic over being injured was intensifying the pain.

Weigh-in and elimination: Everyone was nervous about Week of a Thousand Takeout Meals. Daniel registered a goose egg on the scale. Everyone thought it was a strategic move; Daniel swore it wasn’t. But he has immunity so it didn’t count anyway. Poor Tracey (yeah, I said it!) could barely walk up the steps to the scale. Much to Team Purple's surprise, Tracey lost 4 pounds and Mo lost 8. Julio and the brown team of Liz and Danny were below the yellow line. So elimination would be two gone vs. one gone. (Note to Tracey: Your “frowny face” is terrifying.) And in a tearful decision, Julio was sent home.

The update: Julio looks great and is an exercise machine. He’s into eating local fresh produce, healthy cooking and teaching his family what he learned at the ranch. So far he’s gone from 407 to 299 pounds.

Next week: It’s Blue vs. Black and the return of the Golden Ticket. And it looks like Queen Crazy Eyes might be running the show again!

NBC photo