Calorie-Free Cuisine

I had some questions come up after last week’s post. “Vacation food is calorie-free?” some of you asked. “What are other calorie-free options?”

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Full disclosure, I am not a licensed dietician. But I have found that it is beneficial for mind, body and spirit if sometimes you just assume a certain dish is just meant to be enjoyed and not tracked in an app somewhere.

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So although calorie-free options vary by person and circumstance, one recipe that guarantees you don’t need to fret about calories is a Dark Chocolate Almond Bar w/Sea Salt.

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I think it’s something in the sea salt that cancels out the sugar in the chocolate? Again, not a licensed dietician, but I am pretty talented at justifying things.

DARK CHOCOLATE ALMOND BAR WITH SEA SALT

Ingredients:
  • 1 dark chocolate almond bar w/sea salt
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Procure chocolate bar

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2) Open chocolate bar

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3) Sing “I’ve got a golden ticket” from the 1972 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory movie, then chuckle at your originality

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4) Eat chocolate bar

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(If you are wondering what to do with leftovers, don’t. If there are leftovers, you’re doing it wrong).

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Home, Sweet Home(cooked Meal)

I was lucky enough to spend this past weekend in New York City celebrating people that I love. Including this adorable one-year-old.

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What? The cutest.

Bonus – I got to eat some delicious, calorie-free cuisine while there (remember the golden rule: if you are on vacation, it’s calorie-free).

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It was tough heading back home to full calendars and stacked to-do lists but I knew the right home-cooked meal would soften the blow.

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Here’s a delightful and fairly simple recipe I made to remind myself that every day can feel like a vacation with the right ingredients. I call it Frozen Pizza.

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FROZEN PIZZA

Ingredients:
  • 1 frozen pizza
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Dig around in your freezer and pray there is something edible in there

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2) Find pizza box and open it

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3) Preheat your oven to whatever the box tells you to

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4) Once oven is ready & rarin’ to go, stick the pizza in there (again, follow instructions on the box, going rogue here can have consequences)

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5) Remove pizza and slice it up in whatever way floats your boat

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6) Enjoy!

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Date Night @ Home

There are those times that you go out and treat yourself to a dish that hits all the right buttons. This dish perfectly satisfies your cravings. Or you’re sharing the meal with someone you love so all those butterflies are contributing to your satisfaction. Or maybe it’s simply the act of indulging in a meal that someone else prepared for you and there are no dishes to do afterwards.

Date Night

My partner and I were out on a date last month, and split a meal that tasted extra-delish for all the reasons listed above. So the challenge arose: we decided to have a date night at home, and I wanted to replicate this previous date-night-out culinary experience for us in our own home.

Luckily for me, just a quick bit of creative brainstorming helped me develop the perfect dish, and it was a total hit.

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This Boom-Chicka-Pop Sea Salt Popcorn recipe is perfect for recreating movie theater meal romance, and this time there won’t be strangers crunching along next to you (depending, of course, on how your dates at home roll).

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BOOM-CHICKA-POP SEA SALT POPCORN*

Ingredients:
  • 1 big bag of Boom-Chick-Pop Sea Salt popcorn (you can get the mini-bags, but come on – you know you’d just eat them all in one sitting)
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Look at bag of popcorn and decide you are ready for the best date night of your life

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2) Use your fingers to open the bag

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3) Pour popcorn in a bowl (this may seem like an extra step, but you get way more kernels per handful this way)

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4) Eat popcorn

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* Different varieties of popcorn can work with this recipe. I opted for Boom-Chicka-Pop Sea Salt popcorn due to my discerning taste and because it was on sale.

Downton-Inspired

It’s always surprising (and welcome) when culinary inspiration decides to strike. Recently, for example, I was watching Downton Abbey, and, as per usual, found myself transported back in time.

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I watched with fascination as the scenes in the kitchen unfolded, and multitudes of mouthwatering dishes were prepared with care by Mrs. Patmore, Daisy and Ivy. Meats and breads and pastries, each given careful presentation and thought before being brought upstairs for the Grantham/Crawleys to dine on.

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Although I know in real life I’d be off snarking with Thomas somewhere, I wanted to imagine I was one of the talented cooks in the kitchen.

Inspiration had me pause the episode right in the middle and taking a cue from the show, I made some Tea.

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Not English tea or anything, just some random hibiscus stuff I found in a lower shelf on the pantry.

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I was kind of frustrated that it took as long as it did (Lady Edith’s predicaments are waiting for no one this season), but it was worth it. Cheerio!

TEA*

Ingredients:
  • 1 tea bag (I don’t think tea expires – the tea bag I used in this recipe is most likely from 2008 or so, and I’m still feeling fine)
  • 1 cup of water
  • Parsley for garnish (optional, but classy)
Directions:

1) Find something you can boil water in

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2) Pour water in it

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3) Boil the water (or microwave it) – this takes a loooooong three minutes or so while you are wondering what the hell Mr. Bates and his cane are up to

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4) Put a tea bag in a cup (to save time, you can do this while the water is boiling, so you’re all prepared)

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5) Pour water over the tea bag

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Optional) Adding stuff (honey, sugar, milk) is fine, but don’t spend too much time fretting about it. It’s just tea. You probably have better stuff to do. Just let it cool a bit and enjoy.

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*This recipe is not too difficult to double, if you are indulging in some Downton with a friend. Simply add more water to the kettle or whatever. And probably grab another tea bag. And another cup. You can ask your friend to help out – they might get weird about it if they are an Earl, but tell them it’s a changing world.