Class Pass: A New Way To Get Fit

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Class Pass just launched in Austin, and I am genuinely excited. Have you ever wanted to take a cardio rowing class? Perhaps you hoped to someday visit Ride Indoor Cycling? Maybe you’re more extreme (like me) and are just dying to sign up for a torturous session of boot camp at Heat? Class Pass charges a flat monthly fee of $99 that let’s you take a plethora of classes at places all around town.

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The site is super easy to navigate: You choose your neighborhood(s), activity, time, and date. You can input as much or as little information as you’d like, and once you spot a class you like: you reserve the spot. I’ll be taking my first class on Friday and can’t decide between Zumba and barre. Don’t wait until after the holidays to get in shape! Class Pass gives you so many options that you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll enjoy.

Disclaimer: I will be trying these services free of charge. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Thai Inspired Shrimp & Shirataki Noodles

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Shirataki noodles are those “scary” looking noodles that you may find near the meat alternatives/dairy products at your local grocery store. Generally, they’re stored somewhere cold. They promise 0 calories, or in some cases, 20 calories per serving, and are extremely low in carbs. I’ve been eating them for years, and highly recommend getting the type that’s blended with tofu. I was in the mood for Thai the other night, and whipped up a delicious shrimp stir fry to use with my noodles.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb frozen shrimp
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 zucchini
  • 1″ peeled, chopped ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 red chilis
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • basil
  • cilantro
  • fish sauce
  • lemongrass
  • soy sauce
  • chili oil
  • toasted sesame oil

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I heated a large skillet with a blend of toasted sesame and chili oils. I added garlic, ginger, onion, tomato, zucchini, bell pepper, jalapeño, red chili, and fresh lemongrass (peeled and sliced in large chunks) to the oil. As I let that cook over medium-high heat, I thawed my frozen shrimp using cool, running water. As soon as the shrimp were ready, I added them to the pan, and used a colander to rinse my shirataki noodles for several minutes under hot water. Trust me, you want to do this. Shirtaki noodles have a strange smell to them until they’ve been either thoroughly rinsed, or par-boiled. With the shrimp now in the pan, I added both soy and fish sauce to taste. When the vegetables looked soft, and the shrimp were almost done, I added the juice of 2 limes, a bit of my fresh basil, and some green onions. At this point I poured the mixture, and subsequent sauce, over a bowl of shirataki. You may also want to try stirring the noodles into the pan ahead of time so that they absorb more flavor. Once it was all done, I covered the dish with even more basil, and a fistful of cilantro leaves. This dish is so low in both carbs and calories that you can enjoy it guiltlessly and frequently.


Sensational Side: Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

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I know what you’re thinking: What’s the easiest possible side dish to bring to Thanksgiving? One that makes it looks like I put in a lot effort, when I really just slapped 2 ingredients together, and made them look and taste phenomenal without breaking a sweat? 

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At least that’s what I was thinking.

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This dish makes a great low-carb side, and it’s excellent as a party snack. Simply take a bunch of asparagus, and a few thinly sliced pieces of bacon (I sliced mine vertically in half), and wrap the bacon around each stalk. Spread a bit of olive oil on a baking pan, and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until you see that the bacon is done. If you’re using thinner stalks, you may want to cook for a shorter amount of time. That’s it!

Broccoli Bacon Cauliflower Cheese Soup

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I’ve been doing the low-carb thing for almost 8 months now, and the results are great. Sure, there are days when I have a little way too much wine, and my weight goes up a bit, but all in all I am consistently shrinking my waist. One of the biggest downsides of the diet has been that I find myself eating eggs constantly, and I do mean constantly.

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 I was recently craving something that didn’t come from a shell, and recalled the pureed soups I used to make back in my vegan days. I was always amazed at how something could come out so silky and creamy without the use of milk (dairy or otherwise) or cream. I decided to take the idea of a decadent ‘baked potato soup,’ and combine it with the low-carb, veggie-packed elements of those blended soups.

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One of the greatest things about this recipe is its versatility. You can make it vegan/dairy-free if you want, or load it up with cheese and bacon if that’s more your style. It’s very low in carbohydrates either way, and a decadent tasting treat that you can add spinach, and other nutrient packed items to.

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You can even eliminate the greens, and go straight for the cauliflower for something that more closely resembles a baked potato in a bowl. Essentially: you do you on this soup. 😉

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Ingredients:

Fistful size floret of caulilfower

Large broccoli Crown

Enough vegetable/chicken stock to barely cover vegetables

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 white onion

3 slices bacon

Salt and pepper to taste (I add cayenne)

Cheese (I mix 2 different kinds: cheddar and a white cheese made for enchiladas, but anything goes)

Optional: spinach, parsley, jalapeño

Instructions:

Cook the bacon over low/medium-low heat. Boil the stock, and add one of the pieces of bacon to the stock when it looks about 3/4 of the way done. Add the vegetables (chopped) and cook until soft. Remove bacon when it is finished and drain on paper towel before cutting into bite sized pieces. Once the vegetables are soft, remove pot from heat and use immersion blender to puree until smooth. If this mixture is too ‘liquidy,’ add more cauliflower/broccoli and cook until soft, then puree again. Ladel into bowls, garnish with a sickening amount of cheese and bacon in each. I’d recommend a good dose of salt (after tasting) and pepper. Pasley also works well, if you have it.

Happier Hour: Soto Japanese Restaurant

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I’m probably one of this city’s biggest sushi fans, and make a point to try and sample every single sushi bar within driving distance. Soto may be a little on the north side of things, but after hearing numerous rave reviews, I thought it might be worth a 20 minute “road trip.”

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We knew that it would be all night happy hour on Monday, so that’s the night we went. The space was intimate and dark, but quickly went from nearly empty to brimming with diners in a matter of minutes.

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The happy hour menu included rolls, as well as some cooked items. We ordered the salmon collar, which was delicious, but a bit bony, which is to be expected with certain parts of the fish.

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My seafood-weary partner got adventurous and tried exotic-to-him pieces of nigiri, and several sashimi orders. He loved every bit of it.

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Despite service being a bit slow (they were a little understaffed on that particular night), we decided to stick around for dessert. I couldn’t sample anything sweet because of my (insert curse words here) diet, and so I watched in agony as my dining companion licked the bowl clean from his green tea tiramisu dessert. Next time you’re looking for high-end, well-presented sushi, look no further than Soto. A lot of people are calling them the “Uchi of the north,” but I think that creatively, they have their own thing going for them, and they really are in a league of their own.

East Side Find: Jalapeno’s Taco Bar

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I went to Jalapenos Taco Bar expecting not to like it, and boy was I wrong.

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The place was small, but not cramped, and the salsa was delicious.

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I mixed it into everything.

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The ceviche tostada was overloaded with fish, and my boyfriend’s bacon breakfast tacos more than filled him up.

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Their prices were already low, but we had a Restaurant.com coupon, and the check was unbelievably cheap. We essentially had a Mexican Thanksgiving feast for what came out to be around $13. I highly recommend stopping by this place for good, cheap tacos.

Inside the Box: Mantry

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I recently threw a fantastic Thai dinner party, and I owe it all to a hip, new monthly subscription service called Mantry.

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Each month they send high-end, artisanal food products matching a theme such as coffee, bacon, or in our case –  Thai.

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Once I surveyed the box, which included  products such as Dried & True Sriracha Beef Jerky, and drinking vinegar from the world-famous Pok Pok restaurant, I knew that a get-together was in order. The stuff was just too nice not to share!

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We carefully read their enclosed product guide, gathering ideas for what to make.

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Then we rounded up a few extra ingredients, and set off to our friend’s house to do the cooking. (His house is much, much nicer than ours – plus he has a fully stocked bar.)

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We snacked on a few the items as we cooked, including the Dallas-based Lord Nut Levington’s Thai-Dyed Peanuts.

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I took full advantage of our host’s prior bar-tending experience, and had him make delicious summer cocktails from the drinking vinegar.

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I essentially had a house full of men all doing the dirty work (cooking) for me.

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We made shrimp and used Apinya for the dipping sauce. It was fantastic – I think I may prefer it to sriracha now, and normally nothing tops that condiment for me.

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I sampled a few of the other enclosed ingredients, and secretly wished that we had thought to make Thai nachos.

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We meandered through all of the enclosed delicacies until at last we arrived at the coconut chips, which alongside raspberries helped to elevate our simple vanilla ice cream dessert.

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If you’re looking for a creative, delicious, and unexpected Father’s Day gift, be sure to check out Mantry. The items they will send you are normally hard-to-find, and make eating an exciting adventure, as opposed to an everyday chore.

Disclosure: I received this box free of charge for reviewing purposes, but opinions expressed are my own.

Recipe: Cajun-Spiced Poached Egg Over Sautéed Mushrooms

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As a pescatarian on the Atkins diet, I have to cook a LOT of eggs. In fact, if I ever see an omelette again, I will scream. Given my extremely limited diet, I have become a Food Network star in the kitchen. (Most of the time. There was an unfortunate incident involving fish, but we won’t talk about that.) The cajun-spiced poached eggs that I made this weekend were truly one of the greatest things I’ve accomplished, and my partner can vouch for it. (He’s already requested that I make them again.) If you’re looking for something low-carb, low-cal, vegetarian-friendly, and exceptionally delicious – look no further than this recipe:

1 egg

oil (enough to cook with)

white vinegar and salt (just enough to poach the egg)

1T of veganaisse or mayonnaise

cayenne pepper

freshly cracked black pepper (don’t you dare use pre-ground pepper)

creole seasoning (Tony Chachere’s is the only brand you can use. I’m Cajun, trust me.)

handful of each of the following 3 ingredients:

arugula

mushrooms (sliced)

shredded romano cheese

If you don’t know how to poach an egg, don’t worry. I’m a complete screw-up, and if I can do it – you can do it. Get a pot of water boiling over medium-high heat. You don’t want it to be a violent rumble, like a crazy witch’s cauldron. You want just a gentle boil. Make sure that you add in a healthy splash of white vinegar and salt. I don’t know why vinegar makes the egg stay together, but it does. I’m not Neil deGrasse Tyson, so we’re just going to assume that vinegar is magic.

While you’re waiting for this, and if you feel like multi-tasking, go ahead and put some oil in a pan. On medium heat, sauté your sliced mushrooms, adding in the arugula and romano cheese once the mushrooms look almost done. Is that water boiling in the other pan yet? Okay. Time to poach the egg.

This is the moment of truth. Crack your egg into a bowl, and generously shake the creole seasoning onto it. Take a spoon, and stir the boiling water. Really stir it. Make a swirl. If you don’t get the water swirling, then you don’t get your poached eggs, so focus! Once the swirl is going strong, slowly pour your egg from the bowl into the center of the cyclone. Now turn that burner off. Don’t ask questions. Don’t touch anything, don’t move the pot, don’t mess with the egg. Just turn the burner off, and LEAVE IT ALONE for 4-5 minutes. This is a pretty exact science, so you better look at the clock.

Plate your mushroom mixture, and feel free to add salt or pepper if you haven’t already. This is all to your taste. Once the egg has been sitting for the 4-5 minutes, gently remove it with a slotted spoon. Let me stress this again: GENTLY. Lay the egg atop your vegetables, and add a dollop of veganaisse (I swear I think I’m misspelling this) on the side. Feel free to cover it all in cayenne and even more black pepper, because that’s how I roll, and pepper is delicious. The end. Enjoy your egg. 🙂

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