Mikey’s Food Resolutions for 2012

The last few years, Mrs. Mike and I have done New Year’s resolutions together on New Year’s Day. And I must say, we’ve stuck to many of them, often referring to our lists as the year wears on. That’s what resolutions are intended for, but many of us forget about them on or around January 3. But I thought it would be fun to put together a few food resolutions for 2012–feel free to add yours below or on Facebook:

Try one new kind of cheese per month–I started doing this in 2011 and got sidetracked or disinterested. But wait, I live in Wisconsin. Disinterested? Not an option, so I’m going to follow through this time. There are simply too many good cheeses to try in this part of the country.

Try a few things that are out of my comfort zone–I’m not a big fan of seafood, or anything in the organ meat vicinity. But in a meal at Graham Elliott in Chicago this past September, Mrs. Mike and I had a meal that had cooked fish; a deconstructed Caesar salad with a whole anchovy on top; and a foie gras lollipop with watermelon pop rocks. That was enough out of comfort zone for a whole year for me, but the foie gras was phenomenal–and I’m glad I took a step out of my comfort zone to try it.

Eat less junk–and by junk I mean stuff like candy, snack cakes and greasy chips. I am vowing to get back into shape in the New Year, and especially after having back surgery in February. And while I don’t think there is anything wrong with occasional junk food, I ate far too much of it in 2011. Time to start eating more nuts, dried fruit and sensible snacks when possible.

Work even harder to eat what’s in season–we belong to a CSA (community supported agriculture) but found ourselves not using everything in our box before some of it went bad. I want to make more of an effort on that one.

Teach our son to eat better–our four year old, who has autism, is very picky about his food. We work hard on this, but it’s extremely difficult to get him to open his mind with food. I think we can work harder at it.

Revive “a can a week”–that was a fun column I started here but need to revive it, reviewing a canned food item per week, be it a new product or one that we’ve been eating for decades.

Use the deep fryer more–I don’t think I took that thing out at all in 2011, and that’s a shame. Who doesn’t love fried food (except me, when my doctor is reading this!)?

Find more cool restaurants and review them here–We live in Madison, one of the coolest food cities on the planet. Mrs. Mike and I love trying new places to eat but need to do so more often. And I’ll bring you the play by play here.

DVR more food shows–I keep seeing press releases and then forget to DVR the shows.

Eat more tofu–seriously? No, that was a joke. Blech.

Thanks for reading, and happy new year!


Product review: Biggest Loser Simply Sensible meals

Chef JimNBC’s “The Biggest Loser” isn’t just a hit reality TV show–it’s become big business with cookbooks, workout videos, and now with easy-to-prepare refrigerated meals that you can buy in your grocery store. These aren’t frozen meals, and they aren’t the same meal plan fare we reviewed recently. These are meals anyone can buy, and nuke at home, putting a healthy option dinner on the table in minutes.

The PR company for the meals sent us four of them to sample, and quite honestly, they were all very good. Some stood out and some had things that stood out in a bad way, but for the most part, it’s hard to find food you can have on the table this fast that is this healthy that you don’t make yourself or eat in a restaurant. Here is the breakdown of what we tried….

Beef Tips with Gravy and Brown Rice–The meat was fairly tender, and while the sauce lists garlic high on the ingredient list, the garlic did not overpower the meal at all. The sauce was flavorful, and despite the fact that the rice was sort of undercooked and grainy, I didn’t want to stop eating this one.

Mediterraean Chicken with Bowtie Pasta–This meal had a strong red bell pepper flavor, and the chicken was surprisingly moist and tender. The pasta, like the rice in the beef tips meal, was kind of dry and grainy, even served with the sauce from the chicken.

Pot Roast and Gray with Mashed Potatoes–This one was a bit baffling, mainly because the meat was one big chunk instead of several little ones, but maybe that is the authentic feel they wanted. It was certainly tender meat that you could break apart with a fork, and was quite delicious. It was also stringy the way pot roast should be. However, the potatoes, which were supposed to be real potatoes, were bland and also grainy. I also would have liked to see more carrots in the dish.

Zing Chicken with Brown Rice–This one had a really nice sweet and spicy kick–maybe a bit too sweet for a “healthy” meal, but it sure tasted good. The chicken was tender, and just like the others, I would have liked more vegetables and the rice was dry and grainy. But overall this was maybe my favorite of the four.

If you have a chance to try these Simply Sensible meals, you can buy them and store them in the fridge for months before having to eat or freeze them….and they are really great meals to have on hand if you need something quick and healthy in your fridge.


Product Review: The Biggest Loser Meal Plans

You’ve probably seen the commercials and ads online for The Biggest Loser Meal Plans, by eDiets. The TV show on NBC of the same name has been wildly successful, in part because of the fact that our country is dealing with a horrible epidemic of obesity; and in part because it’s just a brilliant premise for a reality show.

But while I do blog about the show for Premium Hollywood, I’m no nutritionist, so keep that in mind when reading my review of the Biggest Loser Meal Plan samples that were sent to me. I’m going to go light on the nuts and bolts of nutrition information, and heavy on how this stuff tastes and how it made me feel afterward.

The cooler they sent me had 15 meals–five days’ worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners–and a box of five snacks. The instructions are to refrigerate immediately, or if you’re not going to eat them within 7-10 days, to freeze the meals.

The breakfasts included panckakes with egg whites and blueberry-apple compote (the pancakes were crumbly and egg whites rubbery, but I could have eaten a whole bowl of the blueberry-flavored apple slice); a Southwestern egg and cheese burrito (the tortilla held up remarkably and the burrito as a whole was tasty but could have used more cheese—perhaps that’s why they call it a “diet”); and the spinach and cheese frittata more resembled an “egg loaf,” and it came with some really tasty sweet potato hash.

The lunches included oven roasted turkey and gravy with cranberry-walnut rice and a jerk-rubbed pork loin with bourbon espresso sauce. Both of those featured meat that was thinly sliced and tender, and the dishes as a whole were delicious and did not taste like diet food. The chicken pesto pita was good except for a grisly chicken piece or two, and came with a bright three-bean salad. The tuna salad wrap unfortunately was soggy upon opening, and the edamame it was served with did not taste fresh.

Among the dinners were a few real winners—the Asian chicken with black bean pesto and sugar snap peas; and Tex-mex chicken with black beans, corn and salsa. The chicken meatloaf was also tasty and the Cuban style pork sandwich was nicely intact, but the quinoa salad it came with was not.

In the snack box were items such as cookies, chips and popcorn—healthier versions than what you’d buy in the store, but also small enough portions so that you won’t over-indulge. In fact, that’s the point of meals like this—you eat these, snack sensibly and drink lots of water, on top of exercising properly, and you should lose weight. The portions are small, but so are meals like Lean Cuisine and Smart Ones—and that’s because portion control is as big a problem as any when it comes to obesity.

But a funny thing happens when you eat these meals, too—you feel full for hours afterward. And for that reason alone, these Biggest Loser Meal Plans have done their job. For more information on the diets, please visit


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