Review: Naturally Thin

As you’ve probably noticed by my recent recipe trials:

I’ve been reading Bethenny Frankel’s new book, Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting.  Dori also reviewed this book recently, so check out her take on it as well.

naturally-thin

Bethenny’s book is broken into two parts – Part One: The Rules, and Part Two: The Naturally Thin Program.  She also includes what she ate over a period of 3 weeks.

The main idea of Naturally Thin is that everyone can be “naturally thin”.  You eat what you want, in moderation, and stop obsessing about food all the time.  Sounds familiar, right?  It seems like this is the main idea of most of the newer diet books (like French Women Don’t Get Fat).  The difference with Bethenny’s book is that she gives you a set of 10 rules that make this easier to figure out.

I’m feeling conflicted in my views on this book.  I will admit: at first I loved it.  I couldn’t stop raving about it.  Bethenny had just about replaced Jillian Michaels as my idol.  And she does offer some wonderful advice in the form of cute sayings: “you can have it all, just not all at once”, “pay attention”, “downsize now”, “check yourself before you wreck yourself” (this one’s about bingeing), and “know thyself”.

The chapter on binge eating (“check yourself before you wreck yourself”) was really meaningful and helpful for me.  I struggle with eating a lot at night.  Right now I’m trying to do Ashley’s after dinner challenge, so that’s helping too.

She also offers some solid advice for monitoring yourself – using small ramekins for snacks, only eating when you’re sitting down, eating slowly, etc…  She also has some great recipes (see above) and a bunch of signature drinks.  It’s a very good resource for healthy eating ideas.

Onto the bad.  Bethenny clearly has food issues.  Looking at her food journal, I would guess that she probably eats anywhere from 700-1100 calories per day.  She also exercises (nothing too intense, but lots and lots of walking, yoga, and other random classes).

She encourages some disordered eating behavior – scooping not only bagels (which I think is fine), but even Ezekiel English muffins!  You can also only ever have half of a bagel (scooped of course), you can only have 3 bites of steak, you have to pass off most of your food to other people, and you may never finish anything.  Oh, and it’s perfectly fine to skip meals!  Don’t eat if you’re “not hungry”.

To prove my point I want to talk a little bit about her food diary and give 2 examples.

Wednesday (week 1)

  • breakfast: medium sized oatmeal with a little bit of cinnamon and brown sugar
  • lunch: none
  • snack: none
  • dinner: Greek meze platter with hummus, red peppers, falafel, and Greek salad.

Monday (week 1):

  • breakfast: 2/3 of an egg white omelett, 1/2 pita
  • lunch: bowl of Japanese soup (but don’t eat the noodles!)
  • snack: teeny bowl of ice cream (I would guess 1/4 cup)
  • dinner: salad, 1/2 turkey burger (no bun!), 1/2 baked potato
  • snack: teeny bowl of froyo.
  • Remember – she never finishes any of these (that’s the “cancel your membership to the clean plate club” rule).

This is definitely not a healthy diet but she does admit that she isn’t perfect.  I’ve been talking to Bobby a lot about it and he says, “she has a lot of good ideas and good points, but the way she executes them is pretty restricting.” I think that sums it up pretty well.  It’s a good book, and she has great recipes… but please don’t follow her advice exactly and use your own discretion.

Have you read it?  What did you think?

Pasta with Tomato & Parmesan

I made this after I saw something similar in Bethenny Frankel’s Naturally Thin (I love trying new recipes!).  We had it with the stuffed portobellos that I posted about yesterday.

Pasta with Tomato & Parmesan

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Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pasta (I used fusilli)
  • 4 medium/small on the vine tomatoes (roughly chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (smashed and chopped up)
  • salt and pepper
  • some oregano or basil
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan + more for topping
  • 10-15 crushed and toasted pistachios

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta normally.  
  2. While the pasta is cooking, saute the garlic in the oil over medium-high heat.  When it starts getting crispy, add the tomatoes, salt & pepper, and the oregano/basil (if it’s dried; if it’s fresh then you can add it at the end).  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer everything ’til the pasta is done.
  3. Drain the pasta (save a little bit of the water) and add the pasta to the pan.  Thicken the sauce with a few tablespoons of the leftover pasta water.
  4. Stir in the parmesan, nuts, and basil/oregano (if fresh).  Top with more parm.

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This was really fantastic.  The portion size of pasta is pretty low, so if you’re serving a hungry guy, you might want to use more.  For us it worked out perfectly – Bobby had about 2/3rds of the dish and I had the rest (Bobby would have eaten more if there had been any left though).  Bethenny’s recipe originally called for just 1/2 cup of pasta (for 2 people!), but that would not be enough.

Try it!  What’s your favorite way to make pasta?  I usually hate pasta, but I really liked this…

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

This is inspired by a recipe in Bethenny Frankel’s new book, Naturally Thin, but I changed the recipe A LOT.  I hope you enjoy – we certainly did.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

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Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 big portobello mushrooms
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • salt & pepper
  • 2-3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms
  • 2-3 tablespoons parmesan cheese (I added some finely shredded soy cheddar as well) + extra for sprinkling on top (1-2 teaspoons)
  • 10 pistachios, crushed

Directions

  1. Wipe off the portobellos and remove the big stem.  Discard the very tip of the stem (the hard part), and chop up the stem.  Put it with the chopped button mushrooms.
  2. Mix together the garlic, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Brush the mixture on each side of the portobello caps, then put them in a ziploc with the rest of the mixture.  Refrigerate for an hour or so (more is okay).
  3. Preheat the oven to 400F.  Mix the chopped mushrooms with the parmesan, oregano, and salt & pepper.
  4. Take the mushroom caps out of the fridge and pan-fry them on medium high heat in a saute pan.  No oil or cooking spray is needed.  To make them crispy, flatten them while cooking by pressing down on them with the bottom of another pan.  After about 5 minutes, flip them and repeat.
  5. Place the caps on a baking tray and put the chopped mushroom mix inside.  Top with a little more parmesan and the crushed pistachios.
  6. Bake the mushrooms for 10 minutes, then put them under the broiler for another 2-3.  Enjoy!

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I served this with a pasta recipe that I’ll put up tomorrow.  We both cleaned our plates and wanted more!  (But I’m trying to listen to Bethenny and eat mindfully by listening to my food voice… so this really was the perfect proportion.)

Okonomiyaki (Japanese frittata)

This Japanese frittata is a fantastic and simple way to use up veggies and eggs.  The cabbage is pretty crucial, but feel free to toss in whatever other vegetables you love.  Good options are: leeks, celery, bell peppers, onions, scallions, mushrooms, cauliflower, etc…  You get the idea!

Bobby wanted something lighter tonight so I opted to fry our okonomiyakis in less oil than usual.  I also subbed out some of the flour with wheat bran, which is a lower calorie option.  You could probably fry these with cooking spray, but the oil really does add a certain something – try it, even if you only use a little bit!

Okonomiyaki (Japanese frittata)

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Ingredients (serves 2-3 people; we eat a lot so it served 2)

  • 4 cups finely chopped cabbage (or shredded)
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup wheat bran (or 1/4 cup more of flour)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • oil, for frying (I used olive oil)
  • optional: seafood or meat (I split the batter in half at the end and added cooked chicken thigh to his half)
  • topping: mayo, tonkatsu sauce, or ketchup!

Directions

  1. Mix together the veggies in a big bowl: cabbage, scallions, onion.  Add the wheat bran and flour and toss to coat.  Add the eggs, salt & pepper, and mix well.
  2. If you’re using meat, add it now.  I portioned out the batter into halves and added cooked chicken to Bobby’s half.
  3. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Lightly coat the bottom with oil (less than 1 tablespoon).  Dump in the batter and form into a large pancake.  Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Flip it over (this is the hard part), and cook, uncovered, for another 3-4 minutes.
  5. Repeat with the other half of the batter.  I actually did our simultaneously in 2 saute pans.
  6. Serve hot, with various sauces – mayo, tonkatsu sauce, ketchup.

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I ate my entire okonomiyaki (yes that is a large dinner plate!!); Bobby ate most of his but he also had some rice on the side.  It was very filling. Love eggs!

My favorite part about okonomiyaki is the topping.  I spread mine with a little bit of mayo, some tonkatsu sauce (found in the soy sauce aisle), and a little bit of organic ketchup.

Have you ever had okonomiyaki?  What’s your favorite Japanese food? I love sukiyaki

Review: Homma’s Brown Rice Sushi (Palo Alto, CA)

Saturday night Bobby and I went out to a new (to us) restaurant with our friend.  The friend, David, is a sushi connoiseur, and he wanted to try this new place called Homma’s Brown Rice Sushi.  Brown rice sushi?  Count me in!

Homma’s is incredibly cheap compared to most sushi places.  It’s a hole in the wall restaurant tucked behind a dry cleaners in downtown Palo Alto.  It’s just one room, and the wait is long (about 45 minutes for us; we got there around 7:45pm).  They are open until 9pm.  It’s run by one guy and the assistant who answers the phone and brings out the food.  They also do takeout (I think this is what most people do, and what we’ll do next time).

I started with this salad ($3.30):

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The salad was very fresh and the dressing was light.  Bobby and I got and shared Chirashi ($12.80; various sashimi, egg, & a few random veggies over brown rice):

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The chirashi included squid, tuna, hamachi (yellowtail maybe?  Bobby and I usually call sushi by their Japanese names), masago (some kind of roe), mushrooms, and a few other things that I can’t remember.  It was delicious.  Again, very fresh!

We also got two rollssalmon (sake; $3.30) and pickled burdock (gobou; $3.00; vegetarian/vegan):

9-hommas-gobou-sake-salmon-burdock-rolls

These were probably the best sushi rolls I have ever had.  The rice was perfectly soft yet not mushy; it tasted amazing; the seaweed was great, and so were the burdock and salmon.

David got this plate of goodness:

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He kindly shared one of his ikura (salmon roe) pieces with us.  You can’t see it in the picture, but they came with small pieces of orange on top which were eaten pre-photo.  The ikura was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Their menu had a great variety and lots of vegetarian/vegan options.  Bobby actually got this natto sushi ($2.80 I think; fermented soybeans) to go, and he said it was fresh and delicious.

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I do not like natto so I did not try this.

(Aside – I think I’ve realized why I’m not a great vegetarian/vegan.  I don’t like beans very much.  I’m not into tofu, I don’t like tempeh, and the only bean that I actually enjoy is the chickpea.  Yes, I’m a weirdo.)

We will definitely be going back again soon!  I highly recommend Homma’s if you are ever in the area 🙂

What’s your favorite kind of sushi?  I think mine is unagi (eel) or this gobou (pickled burdock).