Eating Better

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

There are lots of meth­ods that folks evan­ge­lize about in terms of eat­ing bet­ter. I don’t like to lis­ten to evan­ge­lists, I learn from mod­el­ing and men­tors. I learned some good things this sum­mer that have helped me eat bet­ter and they’re pretty ba­sic, so I wanted to share. Not evan­ge­lize. I don’t ex­pect these things to work for every­one, but some of the ways of think­ing about food may help change habits.

My fam­ily is all in Indiana. They eat like ba­sic Hoosiers. Lots of meat and carbs. Basically every­thing from this cook­book would be right at home at one of my family’s din­ners. The only veg­eta­bles likely to ap­pear are a salad and green beans. But the salad is a seven layer salad drenched in ranch and cheese, and the green beans are in a casserole. I started mak­ing fruit sal­ads to bring to meals a few years ago. I can tell whether my friends or my fam­ily posted some­thing on Pinterest based on a glance at the photo. If it’s su­per un­healthy it was posted by my fam­ily.

When I moved to Cleveland, I took a fancy to cook­ing. I en­joy it. But for years all I knew how to make was Hoosier home cook­ing. I slowly grew fat­ter. This year, af­ter top­ping out at 205, I de­cided to lose some weight. I’m down to 185 now, and here’s how I did it.

  • Portion con­trol. I put my meals on salad plates and only fed my­self as much as I fed my son.
  • Tactical willpower. Instead of hav­ing to ex­er­cise willpower at home all the time by avoid­ing junk food, I just used that willpower at the gro­cery. Don’t buy it there, you won’t have to re­sist it at home.
  • Easing into bet­ter choices. I didn’t just go all veg­gies all the time. I started buy­ing av­o­ca­dos, and eat­ing half of one with a meal. I’d roast car­rots and broc­coli. I’d make the eas­i­est salad imag­in­able: a hand­ful of spinach, a small splash of bal­samic vine­gar, a dash of Parmesan. All easy, tasty, and un-in­tim­i­dat­ing.
  • Learning by ex­am­ple. I learned a great many easy things to do with rice and veg­eta­bles in a very short time by be­ing in the kitchen with some­one who knew how to do things I didn’t. Finding a friend or mak­ing a new friend with some­one who is handy in the kitchen in ways that you aren’t is great!

That’s ba­si­cally it. After awhile I started crav­ing my now daily salad. I look for­ward to mak­ing an av­o­cado, beet and goat cheese sand­wich. Hell, you just have to steam, peel, and slice the beet. It’s not hard. The fla­vors take care of them­selves. And be­cause my por­tion sizes are smaller, and veg­eta­bles slowly in­creased in per­cent­age, I’m eat­ing sig­nif­i­cantly less carbs and meat. I’m not be­com­ing veg­e­tar­ian, but my diet is much closer to a veg­e­tar­ian diet than it was. I don’t dis­dain junk food, the Pop Tarts I just had are proof against that. But the four lit­tle changes I made have added up to a big dif­fer­ence.

Food evan­ge­lists de­mand­ing a sea change in eat­ing habits did not af­fect me. Being around peo­ple who were good di­etary mod­els but not preachy about it and mak­ing my own small choices has made much more of an im­pact.

To Do List

Monday, 17 May 2010

  • Das Schnitzel Haus
  • Udupi
  • East Coast Original Custard
  • Korea House (The Bibim Bam is as awe­some as I re­mem­bered)
  • Punk Rock Softball
  • Caveman Diaries/​Megachurch CD Release (more to come)
  • Paint up­stairs apart­ment
  • Eat south­ern-roasted turkey, po­lenta and roasted red onion & av­o­cado salad with neigh­bors
  • Jack Frost Donuts (I’ve had the donuts plenty of times, but never ac­tu­ally been there)

I need to hang out in Parma more of­ten. All kinds of great places to go.


Bắc — Restaurant Review

Sunday, 14 February 2010

This was the open­ing week­end for the epony­mous Bắc, the new Asian food place in Tremont. I’d spent most of the day yes­ter­day tramp­ing around Cleveland in the snow, so it was a wel­come change of pace to spend some time in a warm room with great at­mos­phere and cute wait staff. The change in the space from what used to be La Tortilla Feliz is re­mark­able. Gone is the yel­low-or­ange paint, and the stuc­coed walls are now a sooth­ing green. All of the dé­cor was picked by some­body (I’m as­sum­ing Bắc him­self) who un­der­stands that classy looks, com­fort, and util­ity do all go to­gether.

When I met Bắc at the Velvet Tango Room a few months ago, he said that his goal was to cre­ate a place where you can get an ap­pe­tizer, a drink and a din­ner for around $20. He did a good job. The menu is struc­tured in such a way that you’ve got an ar­ray of op­tions that meets this goal, and an equal ar­ray for a diner who wants to shell out a bit more. There’s even a cus­tom cock­tail menu (most run around $7), and $2 PBR’s that are $1.50 dur­ing happy hour.

I wanted to get every­thing on the menu, but whit­tled it down to the Banh Mi sand­wich ($8) or the pad thai ($11). The Banh Mi sand­wich sounds de­li­cious, so I’ll get that next time I go there. I got the pad thai, “fam­ily-hot”, and since Bắc’s fam­ily is in the kitchen mak­ing the food, this was hot. Also, since Bắc’s fam­ily is in the kitchen, the hot­ness was such that it en­hanced rather than over­pow­ered the fla­vor of the pad thai. The spring roll ap­pe­tizer ($5) was also amaz­ing. Fried just enough, but not greasy, the in­ter­nal bits were chopped finely enough that you didn’t pull them all out when you took a bite, and the roll had enough ten­sile strength that it didn’t dis­in­te­grate once one end was bit­ten off.

Look, I can’t em­pha­size enough that Bắc’s fam­ily is in the kitchen mak­ing the food. So we’re talk­ing gen­er­a­tions-old fam­ily recipes here.

Since to­day is Chinese New Year, we were even served com­pli­men­tary co­conut jien duy (a sesame seed dumpling) af­ter din­ner.

Bắc hits all of the restau­rant sweet spots. Go there.

Baking/​Burning Tally

Sunday, 20 December 2009

This Christmas sea­son I have made:

  • 4 batches of Art of Darkness Brownies
  • 3 batches of choco­late-dipped pret­zel rods
  • 12 pounds of fudge (soon to be 16)
  • 4 batches of 7-layer bars
  • a dozen Best of 2009 CDs


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

I have this ridicu­lous idea for a gim­mick restau­rant. This is not the hos­tile takeover of Grumpy’s in which every­thing with “ca­jun spice” would be re­moved from the menu (which would al­low us to ba­si­cally write a whole new menu), all wait staff would be forced to wear flo­ral print aprons and the place would be re­named Frumpy’s. No, this idea is even bet­ter.

The place would be called The WTF BBQ. It would serve trompe-l’œil food. Mexican spaghetti made with corn noodles, chorizo meat­balls and chipotle tomato sauce. Mediterranean tacos made with kibbee and fat­toush. The pulled pork is fish. Cheeseburger pizza. You get the idea.

I am a ge­nius.

Pierogie Pile

Sunday, 4 January 2009


  • 1# kiel­basa, sliced
  • 1 box frozen piero­gies
  • 1 green pep­per, diced
  • 1 red pep­per, diced
  • 12 red onion, diced
  • 8 oz. frozen corn
  • 2 T. but­ter


  1. Put the but­ter in a 13×9 inch casserole dish and stick it in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°
  2. Prep the other in­gre­di­ents, and toss them to­gether in a large mix­ing bowl.
  3. When the but­ter is melted, re­move from the oven and make sure the bot­tom of the dish is fully coated.
  4. Put the piero­gies in the dish.
  5. Layer the other stuff on top.
  6. Cover the casserole with alu­minum foil and bake for 40 – 50 min­utes.

Pierogie Pile!

Eating Out in Cleveland

Friday, 20 June 2008

Over the last few weeks I’ve eaten at a cou­ple of new [to me] Cleveland-area food places. My fa­vorite as­pect of Cleveland is the ease with which one can go to an au­then­tic eth­nic restau­rant and never run out of such places to at­tend. I made it to Sterle’s Slovenian County House awhile back and had a great time. The mu­rals on the walls made it seem like I was back in Slovenia, and the live ac­cor­dian polka ac­com­pa­ni­ment and old folks danc­ing was awe­some. It is right around the cor­ner from Empress Taytu.

Brown Bag Burgers near Great Boredom Mall is an­other tasty lit­tle eatery with a mu­ral on the wall. Although their burg­ers aren’t the Best in Cleveland, they are the ex­act per­fect size for eat­ing, leav­ing you full but not stuffed, sa­ti­ated, not beg­ging for more. That’s a hard bal­ance to strike.