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Maple Bacon Walnut Oatmeal

First of all, I wanted to apologize again for falling off of the grid. My passion for food has not gone away, though I have had to make a few adjustments in my diet which I will get to shortly. Mostly, it’s been a time issue, but it’s been a bit more than that. Without going into gory details, let’s just say my cholesterol, blood pressure and weight have been far less than ideal and my doctors suggested some changes to not only help with those issues but to help with my lower back disc issues. So I did something I thought I may never do–I saw a nutritionist. Granted, I know a lot about food and maybe you do too. But you can always learn more about anything and you certainly should do that when it comes to food.

I thought that overall my diet was not horrible, until I started a diary and recognized that while I’m currently not drinking alcohol and mostly stick to coffee and carbonated water/seltzer, I was compensating by eating tons of empty calories. And even when I thought a light lunch of a baked potato and tomato soup was good, little did I know that it was a double whammy of bad–because of the carbs in the potato coupled with the sugar in the soup (more carbs)….but the thing my nutritionist pointed out about this lunch made a light bulb go off in my head. “You’re not eating enough protein,” she said. That lunch had zero protein (or maybe a negligent amount), and because of that it explained why I was often hungry an hour later.

When she started to plot out some good choices for me, it started to make sense. Would you consider a breakfast of cottage cheese and fruit, two slices of whole wheat toast each with a tablespoon of peanut butter, and a small glass of tomato juice part of a “diet?” Trust me, it’s not. That breakfast is filling as hell. Which of course means no mid morning blood sugar spike leading to pretzel or doughnut gorging. The plan is now to have 30 grams (or more) of protein AND up to 45 grams of carbs, with some vegetables–at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And to have 7-14 grams of protein plus 15 grams of carbs as a snack (example apple and cheese or greek yogurt and nuts or an orange and some jerky). The magic words I heard are that I CAN have carbs. I’m also allowed to have one treat per day–ice cream after dinner or cookies or jelly beans. If I have the treat during the day, I have no treat after dinner. It’s a fair trade and way of deal-making with myself.

Look, I know you don’t come here for health and nutrition advice. But I think it’s important enough that you should consider looking at your own eating habits, especially if you need to lose a few pounds (oh yeah, I lost 3 pounds this past week and I’m just starting) and are getting up there in age. So I’ll offer hints and suggestions where I can, starting with my breakfast this morning–Maple Bacon Walnut Oatmeal. Yes, I’m serious.

I told my wife the other day that I had a single serving of oatmeal (I like to make it from scratch, which only takes 10 minutes or so), with walnuts and maple syrup, and bacon on the side. She suggested taking it one step further and crumbling bacon on the oatmeal. That’s one of the many reasons I married her–she is simply brilliant (and hilarious, I may add). So I tried that this morning. I made the oats the same way (with a splash of half and half too) and crumbled two slices of bacon on top. As good as it sounds, this particular version was not a home run. The bacon was overpowering because it was all on top. But as I got deeper and had more spoonfuls of oats with bacon accents, it was, then, a home run. A touchdown. A three-pointer at the buzzer. You get the idea, sports fans. I also need to try this with bacon that crumbles better without burning quickly as I used today. You’ll notice that frosty glass of milk on the side. I have always had milk with my oatmeal, and now even more so since I need that extra protein to balance the carbs in the oats. But I like to also put the milk in the freezer before I cook the oats, making it ice cold in a frosty glass. It’s the little things, I tell you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Does bacon grow on trees? My kid thinks so

Kids say the darnedest things, don’t they?

Well, this past week, my 5 year old son Jonathan attempted to be a trendsetter when the teacher in his 4K class asked each student what they would grow if they had a garden. Most answers were what you’d expect–tomatoes, veggies….and less traditional items like peaches and watermelon. But Jonathan’s answer took the innovation prize–bacon.

Hey, she asked what they would grow, not what type of “produce” they would grow. Besides, to Jonathan, it must seem like Mommy and Daddy pick bacon from the microwave tree for him every morning.

More pizza and eggs

Chef JimI recently whipped up a kickass omelet using cut up pizza as the filling. It’s a combination that I’m not sure why it’s not done more. So when I was in upstate New York last week visiting family, and had the most awesome pizza from Bud’s Place, I commented that this pizza was so good, I might have to have it for breakfast with my eggs in the morning. And I wasn’t joking.

So the next day, I heated up a slice of pizza (my sister showed me that the best way to re-heat pizza is in a frying pan, and she was right). Then I fried an egg, sunny side up, and slipped that right onto the pie. Pure heaven. Seriously, I wasn’t hung over but if you can think of a better hangover food combination, tell me what it is.

Man, I’m hungry now. I wish I had some pizza on hand!

Sometimes ya gotta love the French

Sometimes the French get a bad rap. Even sometimes in our American minds, when the stereotype of skinny, stuck up wine-drinking cheese eaters conflicts with the vision of our core audience on Bullz-Eye.com, which is more chubby, loud, beer-swilling, bratwurst and Velveeta folks.

But let’s face it–the French make some damn good food, and we sometimes need to give them some love for it.

Such an instance reared its head in my world this past Saturday, as I was heading to the eye doctor. I’d never been to this doctor, and his offices are located in a strip mall here in Madison. Before I walked in, I noticed a French bakery next door, and it was hopping. So as I’m having flashing lights shone in my eyes, and puffs of air shot at my eyes, and having to read these tiny letters on a chart, and picking out glasses (by the way, when did the price of eyeglasses become akin to buying a television?)–all the while I’m thinking about that bakery and wondering what they might have. It didn’t help that my eye appointment was at noon and I was starving.

I went into the bakery and literally the women behind the counter all had thick French accents. This place was REAL. It’s called La Baguette, by the way. First I noticed some fruit tarts….something I don’t normally eat, but they looked amazing. Then I noticed these croissants…real ones, not the thin grocery store croissants. But next to those were something sort of round and croissant looking. I asked one of the ladies behind the counter what they were and she replied in her French accent, “chocolate croissant.” Are you kidding me? Count me in. I bought one of those, two plain croissants and a pear tart. Then I noticed the row of baguettes, and had to have one. It was warm and right out of the oven. Wow. I told the lady I would buy more if I stood there longer, and she said, “Please take your time!”

Needless to say, the baked goods from La Baguette were amazing. I managed to not eat all of it on the ride home, so my wife and I made a nice sandwich with the baguette, and we ate the chocolate croissant for dessert. The next morning we split the pear tart, and then while my wife ran out to an appointment, I made a fantastic breakfast sandwich using a croissant (see photo). I made some bacon, and cooked an overeasy egg and put those right on the croissant, and it was amazing. It helped that I had the perfect vehicle, but the bacon and egg came out perfectly, and that doesn’t always happen.

So hey, for right now anyway, I salute the French and their food. I also salute La Baguette, where I will return when I pick up my glasses next week.

Maple cheddar

Okay, so if you don’t live in Wisconsin, this might be a bit more difficult to relate to. But on a recent visit to the most awesome Brennan’s Market, I came across a new flavor of cheddar–maple cheddar. It’s cheddar cheese literally infused with maple syrup. I was a bit skeptical but when one of the employees asked me if I needed help and then saw the maple cheddar in my basket, she said that was her favorite. Okay, if I was ambivalent before, now I was sold. And I was already imagining what to do with this cheese.

I had also picked up some thick cut bacon at Brennan’s, and so my breakfast the next morning was an open faced bacon/cheese melt using the bacon and the maple cheddar. And as you might expect, it was awesome. Of course, you can make this with any type of cheese, but this maple cheese gave it that hint of sweetness, and it was subtle, as if you were eating pancakes and some of the syrup slid onto your sandwich. Yum.

And it’s simple–just cook 2-3 slices of bacon. Cut a thick slice or two of crusty Italian bread, top with the bacon and some shredded cheese, and broil or toast for about 2-3 minutes or until the cheese melts and is bubbly.

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