Monday, February 16, 2009

Skinny Bitch

I recently purchased and completed two books, Skinny Bitch and the sequel, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. (I'll be honest, I bought the two as a boxed set in Target, and though I'll admit that the pop-culturist inside me was morbidly curious after seeing Victoria Beckham photographed with the book, I was more interested in the recipes). What really spurred me to buy the books, though, was the fact that one day when I was Googling where to buy Bionaturae pasta online, I saw that Skinny Bitch gave a shout-out to Bionaturae. Hey, I thought, cool! There might be some good gluten-free information!

Boy, was I wrong.

I mean, the book starts out with good, albeit strongly worded, sensible advice. You want to be skinny? OK, avoid sugar, refined white flour, alcohol, etc. etc. etc. Yes, brown rice pasta and other popular gluten free varieties are healthier for you (go us!).

Then, my opinion and that of the authors diverge. They start talking about the meat industry, the horrible conditions - written in a way that would make any PETA lover proud - and touting not only the moral righteousness of veganism, but the fact that you will never, ever be skinny unless you completely abstain from all animal byproducts. Ms. Freedman and Barnouin, you probably won't ever read this blog entry, and are laughing all the way to the bank, but please - I know that horrible things go on in industrial agriculture, slaughterhouses, and the fact that a large portion of our food industry is corrupt and awful. You want to write an expose on that, be my guest - and I'll probably be one of the first people in line to read the book. But preaching radical veganism under the pretense of dieting and losing weight is just a little too much for me.

Still, I soldiered on and read all about the horrible conditions of the meat industry - after all, I've been reading Fast Food Nation, etc. and this is just more fuel for the fire - and when I got to the part about recommending fasts and purification I decided that having an IQ over 100 means that I am not part of their target demographic. Sorry for the harsh words, but there you have it.

So, I've been sitting on Skinny Bitch in the Kitch for a few weeks now trying to muster up the stomach to actually pick the book up and read it. It's a cookbook full of vegan meals that are all reasonably healthy - a huge emphasis on good carbs and veggies. Not all the recipes are gluten free - they consider whole wheat and barley among the allowed, "good" grains - but most of them are pretty simple and could be modified to be gluten free.

I'll be honest - most of the recipes didn't really look that appetizing to me. The only one that I'd consider making with minimal modifications was the "Spicy Sushi Rolls with Avocado and Cucumber;" pretty self-explanatory. Most of the recipe titles were enclosed in quotes - e.g. "Chicken" sandwiches, "Cheese" dishes - since I'm not a vegetarian, I'd rather have the real thing than a substitute.

Overall - I wouldn't recommend the book. I plan on giving both books to my formerly vegan (and now vegetarian) girlfriend with the instructions to keep it if she thinks the recipes are useful and to donate it otherwise.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Review: Kinnikinnick Frozen Pizza Crusts

Last Sunday my husband and I spent Superbowl Sunday - at least before the game - in the kitchen. We'd picked up Kinnikinnick frozen pizza shells a couple months beforehand, and decided that Superbowl Sunday was the best time to try them out - along with wings and nachos. The package came with four 7 inch pizza shells. This was a good thing because we burned the first shells we tried cooking! (I blame a combination of no cooking directions on the package, and distracting SuperBowl ads).

The shells looked amazing - the crusts browned quite nicely in the toaster oven and they looked just like personal pizzas. We tried the pizzas, and....

Well, in a few words: the shells were just not good. Now, we're fans of New York-style crusts which admittedly is about a quarter of the thickness of these shells. But these were definitely not pizza shells - the crust was incredibly dry and just didn't taste good. it was the equivalent of eating pizza toppings on dry pita bread.

I ended up eating the olives off of my pizza and leaving the rest of it. My husband ate his pizza, but asked me not to buy these shells in the future.

Oh well - we'll still use other Kinnikinnick products in the future - their rolls have been palatable in the past - but for pizza, I think we've learned the lesson to stick with either making the dough from scratch or buying pizza in a restaurant like Uno's or Nunzio's.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mari's Japanese Cuisine

Mari's Japanese Cuisine in Schenectady is my favorite Japanese restaurant in the Capital District.

My husband, parents and I went there this past weekend. We've gone there several times over the years - I know the owners very well and I have nothing but the best things to say about their entire family, their food, or the atmosphere of their restaurant.

Obviously, I'm not alone - in 2008 Mari's was voted "Best Sushi" in the Metroland with the following statement:

Last year’s winner for Best Japanese is now this year’s winner for Best Sushi. Twenty-three years of artistry by the assured (should be insured) hands of sushi chef Jiro Omiya add up to exactly what it’s meant to be—simple, fresh and consistent. Rolls, sushi and sashimi are traditional, and the presentation is tastefully minimal, letting the banquet before you speak for itself. Try a Dragon Roll, a Union, or a refreshing Salad Roll, just to name a few. If it’s pieces you’re into, the Hamachi (yellowtail) is always buttery and on point. And if you’re lucky enough to visit the friendly family and staff on days when they happen to have Shiro Maguro (white tuna) or Bonito (a seasonal—early fall—small tuna seared and accompanied with a touch of ginger and scallion), you can consider yourself on cloud nine.

If you needed yet another reason to go there or try their food - they carry gluten free soy sauce available on request. How awesome is that? I mean, I don't mind bringing along a bottle of soy sauce but it does make it hard to go out on the spur of the moment - at Mari's, you don't have to worry about that, and can enjoy Jiro's wonderful sushi.

(Full disclosure: I worked there during my undergraduate college years - and I'm still a devoted customer and fan. However, they're not encouraging me to plug for them, I just think that they're that good.)

Here's their contact information:

Mari's Japanese Cuisine
2049 Van Vranken Ave
Schenectady, NY 12308
(518) 381-4881

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Healthy Living Class at Hannaford

The Latham Hannaford is hosting a Healthy Living Class, Eating with Celiac Disease, on Wednesday February 11th from 1 PM to 2:30 PM. The class includes a tour of the store and food samples (the class I attended last year included one free product under $5 of your choice). If you're "old hat" at the gluten free diet it may be a waste of time, but beginners, relatives and people who want a refresher course may find it informative and useful!

Hannaford is a great store and pro-active about the gluten free diet - if you're a beginner to the gluten free lifestyle you may want to check out the gluten free resources on their website.

Full info:

Eating With Celiac Disease
(Includes Store Tour And Food Samples)
Wednesday February 11 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Latham Hannaford, 579 Troy-Schenectady Road
Call to register at (518) 782-1750