Sunday, May 17, 2015

How I lost 50 Pounds in Five Months


That was me back in August of 2014, all 245 pounds of me. I didn't realize how big I'd gotten until late November of that year when I went in for a simple physical and the nurse reported my weight, and later called me and said that my cholesterol was quite high. Well, that was my wake up call and I decided that it was time to shed a few pounds. That and the fact that my feet and knees were killing me from carrying all that extra weight around everyday. 

The first thing I did was to assess what I ate that was causing the problem. I realized that cheese, bread, and fatty foods were my problem, so I cut them down radically. Okay, I like beer too, but that was not going to end, nor was I going to switch to a watery tasting light brew. In fact what I did was to up my game and switch to less quantity, higher quality, with Imperial IPAs, or Imperial stouts on the weekends. 


This is me after about forty pounds of weight loss in March of 2015. So, how did I lose weight? Please note that I did not say that this is how you should do it, only how I did it. I am neither a nutritionist nor a doctor. Well, the secret is simply portion control and changing eating habits. You don't need a paid program, especially anyone that requires you to buy their products. 

First, I looked at what I ate and realized that my biggest problem was simply too much food, and the wrong foods, especially too much cheese, bread, and bacon. My diet, five days a week, now consists of a banana for breakfast, a large salad at lunch with homemade dressing, another banana and some raw almonds after dinner. For dinner it is strict portion control with four ounces of protein, a proper portion of starch, and some green vegetables. This all comes to under a thousand calories a day. I know, I just lost many of you, but it really is filling enough. 

So, what do I eat at dinner? Pasta with homemade sauce and four turkey meatballs once a week, fish twice a week, either salmon, tilapia, or shrimp, grilled chicken, and red meat only once a week at home. When we shop I portion out the proteins and freeze two servings for us. The trick is to make the food flavorful and pretty. Also, eat slow and drink a large glass of water before eating. Oh, and we stay away from any processed foods. We make everything fresh.

On Saturday we still go out to eat and I still get a nice big juicy cheeseburger. I did sub out the fries for a salad while I was losing though. Now I eat the fries. On Sunday I cook whatever looks interesting at the store. Today I will make steak fajitas with a homemade guacamole. 

Now that I am down to where I want to be, or at least close enough to it, I am taking in about five hundred more calories per day and I have stayed at 193 for about a month now. I have added a bit of exercise as well by walking a couple of miles a day. Over the next few months I will be posting a few low-calorie recipes for some of the foods I've been eating. 

I went to Sam's club the other day and picked up a fifty pound bag of rice and realized that I was carrying that much around all the time. It was heavy. My feet feel fine now, my knee is better, and my cholesterol is down. I also have a whole new wardrobe as I got rid of all of my fat clothes. I am down from a 42 waist to a 34 and my neck is three inches smaller. I hope to be able to stop using the CPAP machine soon too. 

Like I said, this worked for me. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Frogmore Tavern- Kingston, NY


We were headed up to the Woodstock Chimes annual sale and needed a place to go for lunch. I came across Frogmore Tavern by reading North Country Rambler, a blog run by Joe Steiniger who has similar tastes to mine and I trust his judgement. 

We popped in at about two on a nice Saturday afternoon and were given our choice of seats. We took one by the window and looked over the menus. I was toying with the idea of the chicken and waffles, the Rueben, and the Cuban Press, but the grass-fed burger at thirteen bucks won out. I added Swiss cheese for an extra buck and said that I wanted it medium. 

About fifteen minutes (maybe less) later a beautiful plateful of  happiness was set down in front of me. The meat was fresh tasting and properly seasoned. It was also cooked to a perfect medium, crusted on the outside and pink in the middle. It sat in a fresh bun with just the right amount of Swiss cheese melted to just the right ooziness. The fries were some of the best I've ever had. They were extra crispy, yet soft in the middle. 


Teresa went with one of the lunch specials a grilled cheese sandwich with ramps and eggplant on artisan bread for thirteen bucks. She switched out the fries for a salad with a ginger vinaigrette. She said it was great. 


Overall, great food at reasonable prices with excellent service, Patti was awesome. I agree with Joe, Frogmore is good and we will be back. They have a website for directions and menus.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Burger Fi- Poughkeepsie, NY


Burger Fi is a four year old chain of about 70 restaurants, 26 of them are in Florida where they started, modeled along the lines of the new trend of upscale burger joints. Their philosophy is to use quality ingredients, like grass fed beef with no hormones or antibiotics, and prepare it properly. They even show the calories on the menu which I like.

We stopped by the Poughkeepsie location, near Vassar College, for a late lunch on a Saturday afternoon. The inside is nice with wood, polished metal, and lots of natural light coming through the large windows. 

I was going to order the Twenty-eight Burger at $9.97 which is called that because the ground brisket is aged for twenty-eight days. It looked interesting, but I wanted to try their basic burger  to get an idea of how they stack up to the competition and decided though to go with the Burgerfi Cheeseburger at $5.57 which is a two-patty burger with cheese, house sauce, lettuce, and tomato. Teresa did the 'build your burger' with a single patty on lettuce in place of the bun. We shared a small order of fries (I would call them a large) and a soda. The total came to $16.52, less than most comparable restaurants. 

The burgers were good, quite good in fact. There was plenty of flavor, they were nice and juicy, and fresh tasting. The hand-cut fries were excellent. They were hot, crispy on the outside, and soft in the middle, just the way I like them. So, how does Burger Fi stack up to their competition? I would rate them on a par with Smashburger and Habit and that is saying something. 

They have a nice selection of craft beers and the Coke Freestyle fountain. We will definitely be heading back again sometime, I want to try that Twenty-eight burger and a Chicago style hot dog since they use Vienna Beef hot dogs.  Stop by and see for yourself. They have a website for menus and locations. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

YO! Sushi- Paramus, NJ


YO! Sushi is the largest sushi chain in the U.K. and they are making their way across the pond to the former colonies. The first location in the Northeast is in the Westfield Garden State Plaza, and they opened April 30th. We were invited to the soft opening and I thought it might be interesting to check out their unique concept. 


What makes them unique, at least here in the States, is that they have a long conveyor belt running called a kaiten around the restaurant on which dishes ride looking like flying saucers from an old sci-fi flik. You take what you want off of the belt and dig in. The plates are color coded and each color has a price. They tally up the plates when you finish, and you pay. The plates are covered, so they are protected, and they have a code on them which I assume tells them when to pull the item from the belt should it not have been selected. 


Don't see what you want? Don't worry as they have a menu of hot foods and more available. All you do is push a button at your seat and the white light next to you turns blue. Blink and a server instantly  appears (well it seemed so anyway). What you order is quickly delivered. In a real hurry? They have a cooler in front with items ready to go. 


We tried quite a few dishes and they were all very good. My favorite was the calamari with a ginger taste. It was lightly fried and the calamari was just the right texture. 


I also loved the spicy dragon roll. Not too spicy though, just the right amount of heat.


The salmon was fresh, tasty, and a generous portion.


I tried a seaweed dish that was good also. The dishes are not labeled, but there is a large full-color menu with pictures of each allowing the diner to easily identify the plate like using an Audubon book for bird watching. It actually is quite a fun activity.


Now I can see an upside to this system, and a downside. The upside is that you can start eating immediately upon being seated and see what the food looks like, perhaps leading to trying something different. The downside is that with everything passing by, those plates can rack up rather quickly on your table, as can the bill. I recommend exercising caution and eating slowly. 


Overall, the food is fresh and good. Not what I would call amazing, but quite good. The selection on the conveyor is simple, but the menu is more extensive. The ambiance is cool, the staff is friendly, enthusiastic, and helpful. I would go back again and you should stop by for a unique sushi experience. They have a website for more information.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dinerluxe- New Milford, Ct.


Nothing says classic American fare as the diner, especially a good Greek one. When I go to a new diner I look at four aspects to determine whether they are great, good, or mediocre. First, the food, they must be able to present a perfect omelet, gyro, burger, or Rueben. If they can't, they should close up. Next, it has to be clean. Third, I want good service, and last I want reasonable prices. Oh, and cool looking is nice too.

We travel to Brookfield Ct. about once a month to hit the Costco and we like to try new places so when a colleague of Teresa recommended the Dinerluxe we decided to drive up and try them. 

I went with the Carnegie Reuben at $8.99. It was the way I like a Rueben, something that can be held in the hand and not some insane open-faced monster oozing cheese. The corned beef was quite nice, the marble rye bread was buttered and grilled on the flattop the way it should be, and there was just the right amount of Swiss and sauerkraut. With it came a copious amount of perfectly cooked fries, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, a large pickle, and a small bowl of some of the best cole slaw I've ever had. 

Teresa went with the parmesan crusted chicken sandwich at $9.79. It had some darn tasty chicken, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, and arugula with a side of basil vinaigrette, all on a very fresh bun. It also came with fries, pickle, and slaw.


So, let's see how Dinerluxe fared on my criteria. On food and price the place hit the mark. The service was excellent, pleasant, quick, and knowledgable. The place was quite clean too, including the bathrooms. The decor is very tastefully done with what I like to call modern diner chic, a cool nice mix of chrome and color. All that said, I would rate Dinerluxe as a great diner and we will certainly be popping back in the future. I want to try an omelet and a gyro. You should stop by too and see what I mean.

They have a website for more information. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pauly's Burgers- Walden, NY


Pauly's Burgers is a seasonal mobile restaurant parked at Tin Brook Bed and Breakfast. I've passed by hundreds of times, they are just down the road from my house, and said that I had to give them a try. Today I stopped and I will be stopping by again, often.

I got the bacon cheeseburger to go at $8.75 and it came with copious, and delicious, fries. The burger was 1/4 pound and seasoned perfectly with American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and pickles. 

They have a website

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Spicy Jalapeño Pretzel Cheeseburger at Ruby Tuesday's- Fishkill, NY


Ruby Tuesday is a chain we used to frequent, mainly because of the salad bar, but we hadn't been there in some time. We got a gift card from friends so we stopped by the Fishkill location for dinner. Teresa went with the dry-rubbed ribs, and they were quite good. I decided on the Spicy jalapeño pretzel cheeseburger. The burger was good, but not really all that spicy. I ordered it medium and it came out closer to medium-well, but still juicy. Our server, a young man named Tom, was amazing. He was funny, personable, helpful, and had a really good attitude. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Newburgh Brewing Company- Newburgh, NY

Fish Tacos

The Newburgh Brewing Company has only been around for a couple of years, but they have gotten a good reputation in that short time. It took me a while to get there, but a nice sunny day brought me out near the waterfront and I must say that I have been missing out by not having gone there earlier. 

I was there on a Saturday at about 2:00 and there were only a few people there. I believe that it could be a bit noisy when crowded, but it was nice and quiet when I visited. The place has the feel of an old beer hall with plenty of open space, it was once a factory, and long wooden tables. It is brick, wood and has many windows with a view of the Hudson River. You order and pay at the bar, just like they do in Europe, and the food is brought to your table. 

Ginger DIPA

I wanted a flight to sample a few beers, but they don't do flights. They do allow you a sample of whatever you want so after sampling I started with a Ginger DIPA. It had a nice taste, a bit unusual, with the ginger not overpowering the double IPA. No nasty aftertaste either, but I don't think I could have had more than one of them. It was five bucks for a 10 oz glass and weighed in at 8.1%. 

Hop Drop IPA

I followed it up with a Hop Drop double IPA and that was amazing, one of the finest double IPAs I've ever had. The bartender told me it was the same basic beer as the ginger, without the ginger added. It weighed in at 10%, a tad heavier, and cost five bucks. Two heavy beers was my limit as I was driving and between them I ate. 

The food menu is limited so I went with the fish tacos, shown above. There were three of them for eleven bucks and they were quite well executed. Fresh tasting and crispy fish in a blue tortilla with cabbage slaw, cilantro and jalapeño. I would have like a bit more heat, but that is my personal taste. 

So overall, this is one of those rare brewpubs that has both good food and good beer. Oh, and all of the staff that I met were friendly and helpful. I can see why they have such a great reputation and I will certainly be headed back again. They have a website for more information.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Greenwich Wine + Food Festival 2015 tickets now available.


I just got word that the date has been set for the 2015 Greenwich Wine + Food Festival and I wanted to pass this on. This is the best food event I attend and all of the proceeds go to a great cause. I've got the date marked on my calendar, put it on yours. I'll be giving updates over the next few months.

SAVE THE DATE! 
FIFTH ANNUAL GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL RETURNS SEPTEMBER 24-26 

Three-Day Event to Benefit The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and The Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation. Platinum Selling Country Group Little Big Town to Headline Saturday’s Event. More than 200 Participating Restaurants and Vendors.

Ticket Sales Now Open. 

Greenwich, CT – The fifth annual GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL, presented by Serendipity magazine (www.greenwichwineandfood.com) and benefits Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and The Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation, will be taking place Thursday, September 24– Saturday, September 26 at the Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Conn.  The festival will feature a Dinner Under the Stars on Thursday, September 24, the Most Innovative Chefs Gala on Friday, September 25 and the Culinary Village, featuring Little Big Town’s performance, on Saturday, September 26. 

“Our fifth year is positioned to be our best year yet, celebrating food, community, charity, culture and music,” said Suni Unger, Founder & CEO of Unger Publishing, the publisher of Serendipity magazine.  “I couldn’t be more excited to already have over 100 local restaurants and vendors committed to this year’s event, a new Thursday evening kick-off event, and Grammy and Country Music Award winner’s Little Big Town closing out the weekend with an amazing performance!” 

The official weekend kickoff on Thursday evening brings the first Dinner Under the Stars to the festival. This intimate event will accommodate 60 guests to enjoy a five-course dinner, accompanied by awarded select wines.  More details on this event will be announced in the coming weeks. 

The Most Innovative Chefs Gala on Friday evening will feature the 2015 Most Innovative Chef winners from restaurants across Fairfield and Westchester Counties serving an incredible tasting menu (honorees to be announced). The evening will also include elite wines, premium liquor, an exclusive auction and a live musical performance (TBA). 

On Saturday, the Culinary Village, the center of the entire GREENWICH 2015 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL, will offer tastings and demonstrations from more than two hundred food, wine, spirits and product vendors. Culinary demonstration tents and stages will house cooking presentations by celebrity chefs and local talent. Guests will also enjoy sommelier presentations, celebrity chef book signings, the fourth annual Burger Battle, the second annual Top Bartender’s Showdown, Barbecue & Bluegrass, and a live musical performance by Little Big Town.  A special ticketed event, Saturday on Stage Dinner, will give 100 guests the chance to enjoy the headliner performance on an elevated stage while enjoying a special dinner (chef TBA), premium liquor, wine and beer.  In addition, VIP ticket holders will enjoy a VIP Big Easy Dinner, celebrating the culinary, musical and festive atmosphere of New Orleans.  This tented event will feature a traditional Louisiana jazz marching band, the Festival’s Ambassador Chefs serving up signature small plates with a New Orleans Twist, premium liquor, wines and beer, and a private, early-evening concert with the world-renowned band Funky Meters, comprised of Art Neville, Ian Neville, George Porter Jr. and Russell Batiste Jr.  VIP ticket holders will also enjoy a premium viewing area for Little Big Town’s performance.

Visit www.greenwichwineandfood.com for more information and updates about the event schedule, participating celebrity and local chefs, musical talent and more. Ticket sales are now open (with the exception of the Thursday evening event) and are available through www.greenwichwineandfood.com or by calling 203.588.1363. The event’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/GreenwichwinefoodFestival, will be announcing restaurant participants and schedule updates, as available.

The event will be held rain or shine, and anyone under 21, including infants or strollers, will not be admitted.  Animals are also not permitted.

GREENWICH 2015 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL

The GREENWICH 2015 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL is a three-day event that benefits The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a nationwide organization dedicated to providing healing to children and their families coping with cancer, sickle cell anemia and other serious illnesses, as well as The Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation. The festival is hosted by Serendipity magazine, in conjunction with other event sponsors. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Buck Shot Burger- Rosy Tomorrows, Danbury, Ct


Just wanted to share this profile of one of my favorite burgers. This little gem has cheddar cheese, horseradish infused aioli, onion straws, and red onions on a toasted bun for eleven-fifty. It comes with sweet potato fries and they also cook it properly to a perfect medium when so ordered. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Wake N Bake- Carolina Beach, NC


When I travel south I just have to get some donuts, especially when I get to carolina Beach. An annual trip to Britt's has been a tradition, but they are only open in the summer, so when I heard about a new place called Wake N Bake I had to give them a try. When we got there the place was crowded and there was a line. The line moved quick though and the staff was friendly and helpful. 

I got a dozen for fifteen bucks (there were four adults and six children in our group) and mixed them up. Three glazed, a Carolina sand, a Loopy Morning, a Pebble Rock, a Samoa, a maple Bacon, a Couch Potato and a couple more. All were good, my favorite being the Samoa. The glazed were okay, but I do prefer Britt's glazed. 



They have a website for directions and stuff. 

Rucker Johns- Wilmington, NC


Rucker Johns has been around for about 25 years and they have three locations. One is in Greenville, the other in Emerald Isle, and the one we went to in Wilmington. Actually it was in Myrtle Grove, more commonly known as Monkey Junction, on Caroline Beach Road.

We were headed back to the ILM from the aquarium and decided to stop by and see what it was all about. The restaurant has a nice feel to it with the elements of a chain, but a bit more homey. The service was excellent, and the prices seemed good.   

I got the Carolina Burger at eleven bucks which consisted of a half-pound of burger, lettuce, tomato, onion, Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, Thousand Island, and sour cream all on a nice brioche bun. I switched out the fries for spicy black beans, a wise choice. The burger was quite well executed.

Everyone else liked what they got and I would go back again. They have a website for more information. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Camarons Acapulco at Pancho's & Gringo's- Brookfield, Ct.


Shrimp wrapped in bacon, perfectly spiced, laying on a bed of queso sauce. What's not to love about it? Pancho's & Gringo's is fast becoming our favorite Mexican place and a dish like this just explains why. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Chili's Sweet and Smoky Burger- Poughkeepsie, NY


We used to go to Chili's all the time and never had a bad experience, but when we started to focus on local restaurants we drifted away. Today we decided to stop by the Poughkeepsie location for lunch and we realized why we liked it. The food and service were excellent at reasonable prices. If anything, I think they got even better since we were last at a Chili's restaurant.

I went with the Sweet and Smoky burger at $10.79 and swapped out the fries for a side salad for an extra buck. It was fresh and a good sized salad. Teresa went with one of the lighter dishes, the Mango Chicken at $10.19 and she said it was very good.

The burger was excellent. Here's what comes on it direct from the corporate website, "Topped with melted pepper Jack cheese, applewood smoked bacon, NEW spiced panko onion rings, fresh leaf lettuce, tomato, NEW mango-infused smoky BBQ sauce & NEW Chili's Signature sauce. Served with a side of mango-infused smoky BBQ sauce." I ordered it medium and it was a bit closer to medium-well, but the juices were still dripping out. It was nicely seasoned and the combination of all of the ingredients worked very well. 

We will be going back to a Chili's. One thing I remember is that they are consistent across the chain.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Habit Burger Grill- Fair Lawn, NJ



The Habit Burger Grill is a West Coast chain, started in 1969, that is slowly making its way east. There are now two in Jersey and I was invited to the grand opening of the one in River Edge, but we couldn't make it. Today we were near Ikea and decided to hit the Fair Lawn location. To sum up the visit, it was great and this chain has real potential to give its competitors a run for their money.


The inside is modern without being over the top trendy. You place your order and are given a buzzer, then you find a table. In about five minutes or so the food is ready. 

I decided on the Double Char Cheeseburger meal with bacon added at $9.75. Teresa ordered the single Char Burger and a side salad which came to $5.50. Both were quite delightful with quality meat cooked and seasoned perfectly on a toasted bun. 


The fries were just right, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle served hot and seasoned with just the right amount of salt. 


The Salad was a nice size and even the croutons were seasoned, I think I detected a touch of rosemary but I may be wrong. 

Overall, really good burgers and fries at low prices. Our whole meal came to $16.32 with tax. The same thing at similar places would have hit twenty bucks easily. 

So, how does the food compare to the competitors? I would say they are way better than Five Guys, much better than Shake Shack,  a bit better than Jake's, and on a par with Smashburger. Smash has more options, but Habit is cheaper. We will return and we will be going to the River Edge location.