Archive for February, 2010

Shrimp Cocktail and Coctel de Camaron

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

I love shrimp cocktail, but rarely order it in a restaurant because it’s so expensive (and you get so few shrimp).  It couldn’t be simpler at home.   I thaw cooked shrimp in cold water, and I mix up some cocktail sauce (or your could buy bottled cocktail sauce).

My sauce

ketchup (about 1/4 cup per person)

prepared horseradish (about a 1/2 to full tsp per person – or to taste)

optional (dash or sprinkle of any or all: worcesteshire sauce, lemon or lime juice, cayenne pepper, minced onion).

As I said, I rarely order shrimp cocktail in a restaurant, but several years ago I ordered the shrimp cocktail (Coctel de Camaron) in a mexican restaurant as an appetizer (it was in the appetizer section).  It came in three sizes, and since in my experience, a shrimp cocktail had maybe 5 pieces of shrimp, I ordered the medium. 

When my “appetizer” arrived, it was served in a brandy snifter the size of a small aquarium.  It was essentially shrimp served in what seemed like a chunky blend of tomato juice and pico de gallo, almost like a  gazpacho-like sauce (I don’t like gazpacho, but this was awesome).  Not only did I not have room for the main course, I didn’t finish the appetizer (I ate all of the shrimp of course, but left much of the liquid and some of the chunks of avocado behind).

It was so, so very good that I had to learn to make it at home.  At the end of this post I’ve added an online recipe and then my own guessipe (my pet name for recipes without precise quantities – handful of this and pinch of that).

If you decide to order it in a restaurant, learn from my mistake, before ordering, ask about the sizes.   Some restaurants serve reasonable portions and others serve gargantuan aquarium bowls. (I’ve never found a restaurant that served what I would consider small portions of this stuff). 

If you’re not going to eat much of the cold soup/sauce or aren’t going to eat any of the saltine crackers served with, you will probably want to order one size larger than you think you’ll want). 

If you want to make it at home, here’s a recipe and my guessipe…ocktail-310287

Kaplod’s Cotel de Camaron
The amounts of ingredients aren’t really that important.

about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of
chopped green onion, small handful
chopped bell pepper and/or cucumber
chopped tomato (seeds and soft center removed – just the firm parts)
salsa of your choice, about 2/3 to 1 cup
(Ideally I like to use a fresh salsa or pico de gallo, but in a pinch I’ll use Pace. Often fresh salsa eliminates the need for the onion, tomato, and cilantro).
finely chopped cilantro, couple tablespoons
avocado diced in small cubes (optional, If I use it, I only use a little bit of avocado)
cooked shrimp, about a cup
tomato juice (to thin the salsa to your taste – optional)
little squeeze of lime (I don’t use if I don’t have it)
pinch of sweetener if the salsa is too tart (optional)

Just mix everything together (sometimes I don’t thaw the shrimp, I just put them in the salsa the night before and let them thaw and marinate in the salsa – but don’t add the fresh ingredients till right before I’m ready to eat it)


Garlic chive buds: sweet garlicky goodness (and no peeling)

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Hubby and I were shopping in our local asian market, and I bought a package of what looked like giant chives with little buds on the ends.  The bundle looked pretty, and I was pretty sure they were garlic chives, but figured whatever they were they’d be good, and I’d use them in place of chives or scalions.

Searching online, I found this blog entry and confirmed that what I bought was indeed garlic chive buds.
When I opened the package tonight, I saw that ttems are more solid than chives (not hollow).  I’d describe them as a cross between chives and very, very skinny scallions with no whites (and with a garlic flavor).
Tonight I decided to roast some eggplant,

My standard recipe:  I slice eggplant (or other veggies) and toss in a ziploc bag with canola oil and ranch dressing powder (I make my own with dried buttermilk powder, onion powder, parsley, garlic, dehydrated onion, dried chives, seasoning salt, salt, and dry mustard).  I pour the veggies into a foil lined roasting pan, and bake at 450 degrees until the edges are carmelized and tender.

So tonight I added the tops of the garlic chives (just the bud and about two inches of the green).

It’s impossible to describe just how wonderful this tasted. The little garlic buds tasted like sweet, miniature roasted garlic heads (but each head is only the size of a sunflower seed).

Yum, Yum, Yum.
I’ll use the stems in a stir fry, but I want to run out and get more of the ones with the buds.  I think I’m addicted to them.  I love fresh garlic, but I hate peeling it.  I think i’m going to try the garlic chives in place of garlic in all sorts of recipes.  I bet it would be awesome in a shimp scampi-style stir fry.


The Wolves You Feed

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

I always tell people that the only difference between me and a person with multiple personality disorder, is that all my personalities communicate and are all named Colleen.   It’s just unfortunate that we all get punished when one of the Colleens does something stupid – but it’s great when we all get to benefit from one of us doing something kind, brilliant or wise.

It reminds me of the native american legend/parable about “the wolf you feed:


One winter’s evening whilst gathered round a blazing camp fire, an old Sioux Indian chief told his grandson about the inner struggle that goes on inside people.

“You see” said the old man, “this inner struggle is like two wolves fighting each other. One is evil, full of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, deceit, false pride, superiority, and ego”.

“The other one,” he continued, poking the fire with a stick so that the fire crackled, sending the flames clawing at the night sky, “is good, full of joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith”.

The grandson pondered his grandfather’s words and then asked, “So which wolf wins, grandfather?”

“Well”, said the wise old chief, “The one you feed!”


I’d like to think that if I have a totem animal it would be the wolf (although it’s probably a fat golden retriever), but regardless…

I have to be conscious of which wolf (or which Colleen) I’m feeding, and how I’m feeding her (them), and not just symbolically but literally.  Do I want to feed Colleen (literal and mataphoric) crap and make sick Colleen sicker, or do I want to make healthy and strong Colleen healthier and stronger (physically and metaphorically).

Apathy and other negative states makes it easier too feed on junk.  Not just junk food for the body, but junk food for the mind.  Creating a negative mental/emotional environment by bitching, whining, and all-around pessimisim is so much easier (it often seems) than creating a positive environment with creativity, industriousness, and optimism.  The “default” setting can easily become a slowly (or not so slowly) descending spiral of negativity.

But we do have the power to change the direction of the spiral, and it doesn’t take a dramatic conversion experience.  We don’t have to become a different person, or change our outlook entirely, a small change can make dramatic change.

If pessimism is your natural state, you wil not become an optimist overnight (and possible never), but you do have to start with a glimmer of hope.  “There’s a chance that life doesn’t have to suck entirely as much as it does now,” may be as far as you can push yourself in the positive direction.   It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a start.  And afterall, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.





My Dreamsicle Smoothie.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I bought some protein powder the other day (Pure Protein, Vanilla Creme flavor) at Target.  Almost $20 for 2 lbs (26 servings in the tub according to the label – but about 80 protein exchanges according to my exchange plan).

Here’s my smoothie

1 cup strawberries, frozen (about 200 g)

about 1/4 cup (60g) of orange sherbet

28 g Pure Protein whey protein powder, Vanilla Creme flavor (or any vanilla or unflavored protein powder)

3 t orange flavored psyllium fiber (I used Walmart’s equate brand, comparable to Metamucil)

1 packet of sugar free tang (the packets you add to bottled water).

8 ice cubes

1/2 can of diet orange soda.

Blended everything in a blender.  Mad about three cups of smoothie.


310 calories; 3 fruit, 2 protein


Results:  Very yummy, but a little too sweet and the vanilla flavor was a bit strong.  Next time I’ll make a few changes.  I’ll omit the sherbet.  I don’t think it added anything to the smoothie.  I’ll cut the protein powder down to half (1 protein, rather than 2).  I’ll only use half the protein powder.  I’ll also omit the Tang, or use only half a tube, and cut the fiber powder to 1 – 2 tsp.


Following the amended recipe, the smoothie stats would be about 140 calories, 1protein, 1 fruit.


Gaining respect for slow weight loss.

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

All of my life I’ve focused on the end result when dieting, measuring my progress by how close to goal I was getting.

As a result, maintaining the loss I already had managed was always still “failing” if I wasn’t moving closer to the ultimate goal. I felt like a failure more often than a success.

When I was 13, and weighed 225 lbs my doctor prescribed an amphetemine diet pill. By junior year I wasn’t taking the diet pill any longer (they’d stopped working long before) and was struggling just to maintain my weight loss (I’d gotten to 155 lbs, and my goal was 150). I was yoyoing around that 150, and my doctor decided to change my goal weight to 140. I suspect he thought it would “motivate” me. It had the opposite effect, I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. I was now 15 lbs “further” from my goal rather than just 5. Not only did the new goal seem impossible, because I measured success only by how close I wasw to goal, I didn’t see any way for me to succeed. I was only 16 or 17, so I didn’t have the maturity to look at the success I’d already accomplished. I saw only my failure and the likelihood (it seemed) that I would never see success.

I kick myself even today (because I was a very smart kid. My IQ measured at Mensa level, for Gosh sake) that I wasn’t smart enough to decide that regardless of what the doctor said 155 was worth maintaining even if I never reached 140 or even 150.

I didn’t learn my lesson until THIS attempt, that every pound loss IS a celebration-worthy success. I don’t have to worry about whether I will eventually lose all the weight I would like to. Every pound lost is a success – no matter how long it’s taken me to achieve . Another mind game I find a hard habit to break, is thinking that my weight loss doesn’t “count” as much as someone who is losing those pounds quickly. If the message wasn’t coming only from myself it would be bad enough, but I get the same harsh message loud and clear from many outside sources (family, friends, other dieters, acquaintences, doctors, magazines, books, television) – only fast weight loss is admirable weight loss.

Most people don’t find a loss of 5 lbs (especially when you start with more than 250 to lose), very impressive (even to those who have never done it themselves). I think everyone assumes “well anyone could do that,” and losing the 5 lbs is easy, it’s maintaining it that is a lot harder, and most dieters don’t do that. If you know the statistics, maintaining a 5 lb loss for 4 years is VERY impressive.

I impress the heck out of myself when I realize that I’ve gone 6 years without a significant gain; that I’ve maintained a 20 lbs loss for about 4 years; a 50 lb loss for about 2 years, and an 80 lb loss for several months.

My husband and I are just starting to get a little respect from our families about our weight loss, because we’ve each lost about 80 lbs now. Though we have family members on both side who keep pushing us towards gastric bypass surgery because “it would be so much quicker,” even though we’ve explained every time the reasons our doctors have discouraged us from the surgery.

“Oh I’m sure you could find a doctor willing to do the surgery,” we’re told. They don’t get that we agree with our doctors that the risks outweigh the benefits of the surgery for us. We do not believe that being fat is worse than being dead.

My mental state has much improved since I’ve chosen to focus on how far I’ve come, rather than how far I have left to go (and when or whether I’ll get there).

I don’t have to have confidence in the next 175 lbs, only the next one. And on days when I don’t have confidence in the next pound, I can have confidence in maintaining the loss I’ve already achieved. Even on my worst day, I do have confidence that I can maintain the loss I’ve already achieved. I realize that’s something I never had before. I never looked or thought to maintenance, only loss. Now my prime focus is maintenance and further weight loss is a side benefit (but each pound I’ve lost, hasn’t yet shaken my confidence that I can maintain that loss too).

I don’t know where I’ll end the weight loss, and it really doesn’t matter. I only have to be confident in the current and next pound. If I focus on that, everything else will fall into place without my worrying about it.

Fat taboos

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

I dearly wish that it weren’t taboo to acknowledge fatness (without assigning horror, blame, evil…. to the word).

If I see someone crocheting in public, I can say “I crochet too, and I love that yarn, where did you get it?” without risk of offending.  Yet if I see someone approximately my same size, I can’t say “What a lovely blouse, would you mind my asking where you bought it?” without potentially offending the person for indirectly implying a size comparison.  If the person isn’t HUGELY fatter than I am, the question is almost guaranteed to offend.

And God forbid talking to another large sized person (except in fat acceptance clulbs, weight loss groups and on fat acceptance or weight-loss websites) about the special challenges of being a large sized person.

Hubby and I were recently eating in our favorite Thai restaurant owned by a Hmong family. It’s a very small family place, and we’ve become very close to the family. Occasionally the owners’ children are in the restaurant. They’re all extremely well-behaved, and the four year old is an absolute doll. She’s allowed (by mutual agreement between my husband and I and her parents) to come sit with us while we eat.

She’s fascinated by my husband’s freckles and the fact that I have only a few and she (and her family) have none.

The last time we were in, she was fascinated with our glasses, so I let her try on my glasses, and she started talking about all the ways people look different including belly size and such, and I was very matter-of-fact that “yes” my husband and I are very big people, and that she is a very little person, and that yes David is taller than her daddy, and I am rounder than her mommy, David needs a cane to help him walk (she loves to borrow his cane and walk around the restaurant)…

It dawned on me only after we left, that some people may consider the conversation “wrong” both in our allowing the child to ask such questions without reprimanding her or at least distracting her, but also in our straight-forward, happy-to-talk-about-it answers.

To me they were innocent and wonderful question, and I enjoyed talking to her about all the ways people are different and the same.

I believe her parents did overhear most of the discussion, and they didn’t appear to be offended by any of it, so I suspect that the taboos about talking about a person’s size might be different (or they just suspect we’re a bit on the odd side, which we’ve already acknowledged).

I just wonder though if I made her life easier or harder by being so nonchalant and comfortable with talking about things that many people in our society consider taboo. Will someone freak out on the poor child if she asks them a similar question.

Not long ago a (very chubby) child in the Walmart made a comment to her sister that I had a big butt. The child was old enough to know this probably wasn’t a nice thing to say and her mother made the girl apologize and I was mortified.

Not because of the comment, I’m not afraid or ashamed to talk about my being quite a bit different than the average person. Fat isn’t a bad word to me, and I really am uncomfortable with children being punished for talking about it. Especially for a very chubby child, I think it sends a really messed up message. “Fat is really, really bad. So bad you’re not allowed to even talk about it or acknowledge that it exists. If you are fat, you are therefore also very bad, and you can’t talk about it.”

As a chubby child by kindergarten, I remember being very confused about being fat. I knew I wasn’t supposed to “notice” that anyone was fat but me. I wasn’t supposed to say much about being fat, yet everyone in my family and even sometimes adult strangers were allowed to talk about MY fat (and they usually did it with sad or angry faces), but I wasn’t allowed to talk about anyone else’s fat or even my own in most situations. But then at 8 I was enrolled in Weight Watcher’s meetings where everyone did talk about being fat (even women who had never had more than 10 lbs to lose). Talk about confused!

Sometimes I’m still confused. The taboos don’t make any sense (but then again taboos almost never do).

Rant: Obese does not = Evil Monster

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I remember the days long ago when I felt guilty for being fat.  So much so, that I also felt guilty when eating – no matter how much, how little or how healthy I was eating.  Being fat meant I didn’t “deserve” a lot of things, but most especially enjoying my food.  If it tasted good, I was sure that I wasn’t supposed to be eating it because I didn’t deserve the pleasure.

In fact, I didn’t deserve much.  I punished myself by withholding most pleasures, telling myself I didn’t deserve any of them until I reached goal weight.

I’m very thankful that I gave up those beliefs in my 20’s when I found “Fat Acceptance.”  A controversial movement, but I do credit it with teaching me not to waste my life with self hatred.  Being obese since age 5, and having  never reached my goal weight in all that time, I would have had a very miserable existence if I were still torturing myself for being overweight, and putting my life on hold until I was magically worthy when the scale hit an arbitrary number.

I vowed not to let obesity prevent me from doing anything it didn’t prevent me from doing.  I can’t run up a flight of stairs and I accept that, but there’s no reason to avoid swimming or bicycling just because I “look ridiculous” doing it.

I’m finding though that I’m having less and less patient with folks who believe that they are evil, disgusting, and worthless because they do not weight what they’d like.  It drives me craziest when the person has only a few pounds to lose (although anything under 50 lbs feels like “only a few” to me, but even if the person has 800 lbs to lose, I still find myself internally screaming when they bash on themselves.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that shame, guilt, and embarassment are always inappropriate, and it is natural to hold yourself to higher standards than you hold others, but when a person treats themselves more harshly than they would treat a violent criminal, something is seriously WRONG.

If guilt and self-punishment worked, maybe I’d have a different opinion.  Then again, the cost still has to be considered.  What are the consequences of hating yourself to a lower weight?  Will you recognize a healthy weight when you see it?  Will you be able to turn off the self-hatred switch or will it have become a habit that you find harder to break than overeating.

Replacing self-hatred and punishment of fat isn’t easy.  It’s the social norm – so much so that women with not an ounce of body fat to spare, often call themselves “disgusting” over imagined curves.   Magazines and other media criticise petite celebrities for “letting themselves go,” if so much as a dimple can be seen on their size-4 thigh.

Fat-bashing contributes more to the problem than it does to the solution, and we’ve got to find that solution.  Obesity is becoming in reality the evil that we’ve to this point only imagined it to be – but obesity is the vilain – not the obese person.   We can’t confuse fighting obesity with fighting the obese person.  And I think that’s the distinction we are failing to make.  Punishing a fat person (even if that person is ourselves) doesn’t do much to combat the obesity.  It often does the opposite, by making the person feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless.

Without hope, nothing gets accomplished or even attempted because “what’s the use, it won’t work out anyway.”  We end up creating in ourselves, the monster that we see.