Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sweet Potato Garlic Fries with Scallions and Smoked Paprika


For those of you that don't know, we live in Central California, so naturally we're Giants fans. That said, we're also big fans of San Francisco garlic fries, the must-have fare at AT&T Park. I had the privilege of attending an actual Giants game there years ago and I absolutely fell in love with those amazing fries at the time. Seth and I have also made our own at home to have during the World Series for years alongside a hot dog or two. However, this year, we were interested in figuring out how we could make a lower calorie version to help us maintain our weight loss. 

This sweet potato version is what we came up with and they were absolutely delicious. Plenty of seasoning, fresh chopped garlic, and a few fresh scallions really took these to the next level. Feel free to try them yourself while you're enjoying the last couple of games of the World Series or any time, for that matter. I would absolutely eat these again alongside hamburgers, hot dogs, or sandwiches in a heartbeat. You'll need:
  • 8-10 medium-sized sweet potatoes 
  • 8-10 cloves of fresh, peeled garlic
  • 5-6 fresh green scallions
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper
  • Smoked paprika

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees while you cut your sweet potatoes into fries or wedges. Finely chop both the garlic and the scallions and set aside. Spray a standard size baking sheet liberally with cooking spray and arrange the sweet potatoes evenly on top of it. Spray the sweet potatoes with the cooking spray as well and season generously with the salt, pepper, and paprika. 

Bake until crisp and cooked through, turning the fries over halfway through cooking so they're crispy all over. You may or may not want to add more seasoning and/or cooking spray when you take the fries out to turn them, but I usually will. Sprinkle garlic and scallions over the top of the fries and continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes or until toppings are done to your liking. Some people prefer their garlic almost raw, while others would rather it cook a big. It's up to you.


As I touched on above, these go fantastically with anything you'd normally serve with fries, including hot dogs, hamburgers, or grilled meats. They're also awesome sprinkled with a little Parmesan cheese and/or dipped in some Sriracha. Enjoy!

Friday, October 3, 2014

No Tricks, No Gimmicks: Just Real People Getting This Weight Loss Shit Done

Sourdough Taco Toast
Seth and I are getting to the point where people are really starting to marvel at the amount of weight we've lost over the past few months, especially collectively -- 50 pounds for me and 30 for Seth. People that follow us online, especially on Facebook, really just don't get it and it's mostly because they don't really see the difference in the foods we're eating. They still look tasty and like something you'd want to eat. We still clearly enjoy making and eating our meals. The only difference is they're lower in calories and our portions are better.

It's really making me realize that most people really do think that food can't be delicious looking, but also low in calories. They don't think it's possible to lose weight and eat foods that you're excited about to the point that you still consider the experience to be worth photographing or writing about. I'm here to tell you that that is the dumbest lie the dieting industry has ever told you. They need you to believe this is something you can't do by yourself so that you pay out the ass for expensive gym memberships, and special diet foods, and miracle pills. They're out of a job if you ever figure out that you can do this on your own.

At the end of the day, if you're solely focused on trying to lose weight, all that matters is calories in versus calories out. If you burn more calories than you take in, you'll lose. Period. Technically speaking, you could live on nothing but chocolate cake... if you keep your calorie intake in check. (Don't actually try that, because gross... but yeah.) Of course, there are genetic and health-related factors that might mean you burn fewer calories than someone else might... or more calories. You'll have periods where your metabolism decides to stall for a little while as well, but the basic equation remains the same no matter what. Just stick with it and don't get discouraged.

A Bit of What We're Doing Differently

I thought it might be helpful if I recorded some more details as to how we're actually doing this. You can do differently, so long as the total equation adds up to more calories burned than consumed.
  • We don't like to exercise, so we're taking in very few calories a day -- a total of around 1000 calories or so. On an average day, we have one full meal (usually dinner). We might also have a very small, low-calorie snack either after dinner or for lunch. We also like wine and such, so we leave room in our calorie budget for a couple of glasses each day.
  • We do most of our calorie-cutting by scaling way, way back on carby sides like pasta or potatoes. We also are very restrictive when it comes to cheese. Butter and oil quite simply don't go on our foods at all anymore. However, we cut back whenever and wherever we can. If I don't feel a half of slice of cheese would improve that tuna wrap I'm having for dinner, it doesn't go in there at all.
  • We keep careful records of every calorie we consume, so we know for sure how much we've consumed on a given day. Pour a glass of wine? Record it. Snagged a few Saltines for a snack? Record it. Decided to take seconds of that homemade chili. Record it. Then make future decisions throughout the day accordingly. 
Days when we do let ourselves off the leash a little -- like we did when we went to the fair and such -- you can bet that it was because we exercised for a damn change. Seth and I do not own a car, so we walked to and from the fair all three days we went. That helped us justify eating super cheesy pizza with pepperoni, corn dogs, fried fish, and all that other good stuff. By walking for such a long distance, we actually burned off the great majority of the extra calories we consumed... but after the fair, we were right back on the wagon again with our side salads and our baked fish, no matter how fun it sounded to just continue eating pepperoni pizza and bacon cheeseburgers instead.

English Muffin with Red Peppers and Cheese
Having Fun with What You're Doing

I don't know about you, but I personally can't stick with anything that isn't enjoyable. I'm not a terribly disciplined person, especially when it comes to depriving myself of things I enjoy... like tasty food. That said, you really need to work on finding foods to eat that aren't just low in calories and relatively healthy, but that you actually enjoy eating. You can't just decide to exercise. You need to find something active to do that you actually look forward to.

We are able to let go of some foods altogether, but not others. For instance, we don't really need gloppy, high-calorie condiments like ranch dressing or butter in order to enjoy our food, so we don't eat them. However, you will pry our wine and whiskey from our cold dead hands. That's exactly why we cut out the condiments, the extra cheese, and the heaping portions of pasta but not the alcohol (although we did cut way back on the amounts). 

We also will never be people that don't eat pizza, or burgers, or hot dogs... but we really watch the calories as far as the components now (no more bacon or extra cheese as a rule). We also no longer pair those things with piles of fries or macaroni and cheese. It's all about side salads and steamed vegetables these days. Either way though, we still get that great burger or pizza feeling that we love, just without all the fat and calories. 

Most importantly of all, we still make our food with love and care. We take the time to season it well, make sure it's cooked just right, and make it look beautiful on the plate. The pictures in this post are of snacks anyone could make with what they have in their house right now, probably. It's just store-bought English muffins or bread toasted really nicely. Then we just add half a slice of cheese, some seasoning, and some leftovers. The top toast has a spoonful of leftover taco meat, while the English muffin has a little bit of sliced pepper we had around. That's it! Both are under 200 calories. The sourdough toast is well under at roughly 110 or so.

We just did what we could to make an event out of them, like we do with all of our mealtimes. We don't buy into the lie that low-calorie meals don't taste good or that you can't be "on a diet" and eat hamburgers or pizza. No, you can't eat the same foods you did the way you did, but you can have things that you like and want for sure. Just do the math with your calories, be honest with yourself about what you're eating... and for fuck's sake, have some fun. The more you like the way you're living, the easier it will be for you to stick with your new habits.