Happy National Popcorn Day!

When someone asks me the “If you got stranded on a dessert island…” question, one of the foods in my top three foods I’d like to be stuck with is POPCORN. Besides being delicious, it would be kind of a useful thing; I mean, think about it, you could plant the seeds, use them as tiny bullets for a slingshot, and have something to do because you’d eternally be picking hulls out of your teeth. Win win win. Today is National Popcorn Day, and I wanted to celebrate this fine day by sharing a few of my favorite popcorny things.

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First of all, I’m a popcorn purist, meaning no microwave crap here unless I’m in a time crunch. (Heh, crunch. Get it?) I like to make my popcorn the unhealthy way; with one tablespoon of olive oil (or avocado oil if I’m feeling ritzy) in a sauce pan on high, with Orville Redenbacher seeds. I’ve tried so many gizmos and gadgets to make popcorn including air poppers, a borosilicate glass beaker thing, microwaveable bowls, and I keep going back to the old school method. It works for a reason. I find that air poppers make your popcorn have a stale sort of crunch to it, and I want that delicious, squeaky stryofoamy feeling that my teeth sink into.

Here are my favorite popcorn related things!

1) Morton’s Popcorn Salt.

It’s like .99 and super fine salt, ideal for making your own popcorn. The link goes to a big size which explains the $5.99 price tag, but this stuff is the ideal in popcornology.

2) THIS recipe for copycat Garret’s style popcorn. I had a wicked popcorn craving when I was pregnant, and you can only get this stuff in Chicago. Thankfully for me the kind lady at A Spicy Perspective had this recipe waiting.  (Side note: I purchased the cheese powder, and while real foodies among you might go “Cheese POWDER?!”, fear not, it’s actually real Wisconsin cheddar that’s been dehydrated and pulverized. This stuff is delicious for other recipes, like mac n’ cheese, cheesey broccoli, or anything else that would benefit from cheese. That’s most things in life.)

3) As for ready made popcorn, I’m a big fan of the Trader Joe’s Herb Popcorn and Gaslamp’s Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn. Gaslamp sent me a few bags to try, and I had some major problems keeping my hands out of the bag. I served it when some guests were over and we all agreed it had the perfect crunchiness, and the sweetness wasn’t overly cloying. I really liked it and now will be hunting it down. PS – It’s made in California and you can tell it comes to you FRESH. Holla! Give this popcorn a try when you’re in the mood for something sweet. Their white cheddar was also phenomenal! (Keep reading for a chance to try it yourself!)

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I also tried some Boom Chicka Pop Dark Chocolate Caramel Popcorn over Christmas, and man oh man, I can’t have that in the house. That just makes it like crack. As long as I don’t douse popcorn in tons of butter, I don’t feel too guilty having a reasonable serving size of it. (Cough… I mean, I would NEVER eat just a massive bowl of popcorn for dinner. I’m an ADULT! Cough)

Tell me how you feel about popcorn – one of my friends says it smells like feet to him! I almost stopped being his friend. Do you love, like, or loathe the miraculous corny goodness of popcorn? Want to win a three pack from my friends at Gaslamp? Comment with the type of their popcorn you’d like to try most! If you want extra entries, “Like” them on Facebook or Follow them on twitter. Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry. Giveaway ends 1/26 at 10:00 p.m. 18+ and USA Only. Good luck!

 

 

Transparent Tuesday: The Double Chin Diary edition

Happy Tuesday! Recently, I was catching up on blogs and my friend Emmie’s post, “Transparent Tuesday” really struck a chord with me. What is Transparent Tuesday? Emmie’s friend Allison dreamed it up, and basically, it’s a day of the week where you remove the veneer of perfection from your social media and blog posts. I love the idea of this because here at the Double Chin Diary I try to be all about transparency — probably sometimes too much, as there are some posts I’ve written that I will probably cringe at ten years down the line 😉

So in the spirit of transparency, here are several truths from today and the past few days. Overall, today was a good day, but there are things about every day that are decidedly unglamorous.

1) I had about half of this post written when my finger slipped, hit the n key, and deleted my whole blog. I was pissed. I thought WordPress would save my butt with its draft function, but when I clicked the post draft, the single, letter “n” was staring back at me tauntingly. I really did think about blowing off blogging for the night, but then I felt guilty because I like my blog. So here I am, writing more. Appropriate for the subject 🙂

2) I have been about 90% excellent with my eating and fitness habits the past week, but I did do something naughty and ate popcorn for dinner on Saturday. I’m hoping I’ve had enough water since then to make good for my salty indulgence when I weigh in at Weight Watchers tomorrow. PS: You should see American Hustle. Really good! I’m hoping Dallas Buyer’s Club wins for best picture, but I am unfairly biased as I haven’t seen all of the nominees yet.

3) I’ve had an upset stomach all day and I skipped the gym because of it. I’ve also felt kind of spaced out and tired all day. I hope I’m not getting sick.

4) I am lying in my bed right now on my laptop drinking electrolyte water. I tried to drink the water with my head too far down and I spilled cold water all over my neck. 🙁

Feeling blah in bed with my water, which I promptly spilled all over myself after taking this photo.

Feeling blah in bed with my water, which I promptly spilled all over myself after taking this photo.

5) We have a basket of laundry sitting at the foot of our bed that has been there for many, many moons. I need to get around to it but let’s face it… there’s always something better to do!

6) It’s 9:47 p.m. and well… I’m going to bed 🙂

So there you have it. My transparent tuesday, except in even more transparency, I can admit that all of these things happened on MONDAY! Maybe we could call it Mediocre Monday. Meh Monday. Is there anything you want to be transparent about for today? Tell me!

 

All or Nothing

Hello! Can you believe it’s November already?! I can’t. It feels like just yesterday that 2013 was starting and I had all the hopes in the world of being at my goal weight by the end of the year. Well, erm… *scratches head* So maybe that hasn’t happened, yet, but in all reality, some things just take time. More time than you imagine. But, I digress.

Today I want to talk about “All or Nothing”, or, what happened to me with food this weekend! The past few weeks I had done a Doublechindiary_popcorngood job eating low-carb. I did meal prep for breakfasts, making scrambled egg whites and pan fried lean chorizo. I ate salads with chicken for lunch, drank water and snacked on persian cucumbers. Sadly, since I’m scaleless, I have no idea if I lost weight. I need to schedule a follow up with my doctor and can weigh in then. I was on track!

Then, Halloween came. That meant pizza with friends for dinner, and a few Almond Joys accidentally fell into my mouth. Halloween passed and I resolved to get back on track to the low-carb eating. Instead, we went out with friends to Dia de Los Muertos, where Matt and I split three tiny tamales. Not satiated by the corn husk wrapped burritos, I smelled the unmistakable smell of popcorn, a treat that had eluded me for the past few weeks, as buttery corn doesn’t really fit into a low-carb lifestyle.

Hunger and the thought of “a treat” got the best of me, and I was in popcorn heaven. We hung out at the festival for a few hours longer, then went to a 24 hour diner where Matt and I split a cheeseburger and onion rings. Thankfully, I was too full before I could do major damage on the onion rings.

I forgave myself for my few days of foodie misgivings and vowed to get back on track today. But then, I saw the open box of Count Chocula and said I’d “start tomorrow”. How could I tell myself that after last week’s blog?! Haha. But, these few slip ups have reminded me of why a low-carb diet will probably be my key to success. When I can’t have a certain food group (in this case, sugar or bread), I stay away from it. It’s All or Nothing. Where I get into trouble is when I am eating a little bit of everything, and trying to pretend that I’ll have the power to say no. Tomorrow is a new day, and it’s back to the low-carb lifestyle. No sugar, no bread, no onion rings. And that’s ok. Because it’s not that I’ll never be able to have them ever again; it’s just that I’ll do better refraining entirely for the next little bit of time. I’m not sure how I’ll navigate the holidays, but I’ve noticed I feel better on low-carb. More energy, less stomach issues, and hopefully, less bloating and weight gain.

Do you notice when you splurge on something (and it doesn’t have to be food), that’s it’s ALL or NOTHING?

 

Banned Words: I’ll Start Tomorrow

It starts out innocently enough. In my case, a movie. The husband and I had been wanting to see Gravity for a few weeks, but overlapping schedules prevented us from the two-hour luxury. We finally made it yesterday night. As we planned our day, I thought about what we’d make for dinner. I had previously said on Saturday that I’d “start low-carb tomorrow.” I’ve been kind of “off” the past few days in terms of exercise, overwhelmed by life and feeling lazy. (House-hunting and being a business owner will do that to ya.) I knew I needed a fresh start. I decided that I’d have movie theater popcorn as my dinner. Yes, yes, that sounded lovely. There’s nothing like hot, buttered popcorn and a suspenseful flick to end the week. Wait! A little voice popped up in my head. “Popcorn isn’t low carb.”

“Oh, who cares,” the other voice in my head reasoned. “If you don’t eat dinner, and have popcorn instead, it cancels itself out. Sure, it’s high in calories, but you ate light today.”

The other voice responds, “Movie popcorn is the worst thing you could eat. The salt alone will make you bloat ten pounds. Add the butter oil and you’re asking for it. I thought you wanted to lose weight. Don’t do it. Losing weight means saying NO. It means discomfort. It means sacrifice. How bad do you want this? You have to make the change.”

The other voice, growing panicked, grasps for straws. “You deserve it! You’ve had a hard week, with lots of important, adult decisions. Movie popcorn is your FAVORITE. AND, you’ve eaten low-carb all day. You’ve already done so well! You can have a little splurge.”

The other voice, sounding sad, tells you to stop and think. “Remember trying on jeans at TJ Maxx? How the cold, metal button on almost every pair gouged into your tummy, made you cringe? How you’re avoiding the scale, knowing that your body isn’t “normal”, and that your small mistakes with food and exercise WILL ALWAYS show? Your hormones are wacky. It’s not just bad habits that make you gain weight, but it doesn’t help. Your body is actively going rogue. You have to work hard to prevent it from defeating you. It is what it is. Popcorn won’t help, on any level. You know that, Alyssa.”

The other voice, feeling defensive now, says “Just start tomorrow, Alyssa. You deserve this. It will make you feel good.”

The other voice says, firmly now, “No. I’m not starting tomorrow. I’m starting today.”

I’ve learned something about myself the past few years. I can’t just decide one day to lose weight and just do it. I have to decide almost every minute of every day. At least once an hour. I need to decide to drink water, to get moving, to not eat bread, or cookies, or candy. To refuse the movie popcorn. I need to recommit. I’m fiercely loyal to the things I love. Clearly, weight loss is not a thing I love.

So I saw Gravity. And for a riveting two hours, I sat, consumed with emotion and angst, completely lost in the story. The movie was phenomenal, and my husband and I left shaky and tense, rocked by the amazing visual effects and captivating storyline. We’re still talking about the movie today. I didn’t even miss the popcorn. Sure, the smell always seduces me when I walk in, but I didn’t need the crunch, the salt, the butter, the motions, the kernels in my teeth. I didn’t need popcorn. I didn’t need snacks. I didn’t need to start tomorrow. I needed to start today.

A relaxing weekend in SLO

Good morning, Chinners! I hope you had an awesome weekend. I sure did! This weekend, Matt and I drove up the coast of California about three hours to get to San Luis Obispo. We had been to San Luis Obispo once before for a weekend away, and had an amazing time. Since then we kept saying we needed to go back, but hadn’t made any commitments. I surprised Matt with a quick one-night get away to our favorite tacky hotel, the Madonna Inn. The Madonna Inn was created by a construction foreman, Alex Madonna, who got sick of having to stay in lackluster hotels off the side of the highway when he traveled. He began to build his own hotel to make up for it – putting imagination and quirky, whimsical touches into each room. Last night, we stayed in the Currier and Ives room, named after the first people who made famous art and photographs into low-cost prints for the mass public.  Here are some photos of our room! Note the details, like the elaborate gold printed wallpaper or the angel light fixtures. The toilet seat was even heated! Now THAT is classy!

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After we checked in, we relaxed by the pool for a bit, soaking up sunshine. Then we headed to Trader Joes to fill up our cooler with snacks for the drive in movie! The Sunset Drive in Theater is a cheap $7 for two movies, and you listen to the movie on your radio, no clunky metal speakers required. I splurged and had a delicious peach Lambic to drink and some movie popcorn. We also had bread with salami, olive tapenade and cheese. I really didn’t overdo it, but apparently, eating squeaky clean for two weeks and then having a little night of indulgence can rip apart one’s stomach. I learned that the hard way this morning, but I had a grand old time in the process…

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I couldn’t resist taking this shot of the vintage coke cup, but it’s a little lost on me since I’m no longer drinking soda. I had my lambic and water and that’s it… but I was just fine! The two movies playing were After Earth and the Fast and the Furious 6. I made it through After Earth with only minimal disruptions (aka me blurting out “That doesn’t make sense! This is stupid!”), but within the first ten minutes of Fast and Furious, I had flipped to my side with my car pillow and started snoozing. Matt made it through both movies and then we were back to our hotel for a night of slumber.

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We woke up this morning and had a yummy breakfast at the Copper Cafe, where I ordered a veggie omelette with egg beaters and fruit on the side. I also drank looooots of water to make up for my little boozy indiscretion the night before. The Madonna Inn is known for their famous pink cakes with white chocolate ribbons on top, called the Barbie Cake. See ’em? Looks sooo pretty. Then, we were headed down the coast to get back to home.

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It was an awesome, low-key weekend, and it was nice to get away from the ever-growing pile of laundry and stack of invoices I need to send out on my desk. I’m a big fan of quick little getaways – it’s great to refresh the mind and body with a change of scenery. What’s the last little road trip you’ve done? Do you like one-night get aways or would you rather save up for one longer vacation? In our case, it’s more budget friendly and we don’t need to take time off work, so little weekend trips are great for us. I hope you have an amazing day today!

 

Weekend Wrap Up!

Toffee at rocket fizz

Hey everybody! I had so much fun this weekend, despite the 102 degree heat in my hometown…  Friday night, Matt and I had dinner at our favorite local Indian food place, Clay Oven. I ordered Matar Paneer in honor of my paneer-flop from the night before. It was deeeeelicious! After dinner, we went next door to Rocket Fizz, a soda and candy shop! We sampled a couple different types of toffee and I tried a low-cal rootbeer, sweetened with honey. It was only 30 calories and so refreshing to try a soda made with natural ingredients as opposed to buckets of aspartame, nutrisweet, sucralose, etc.

Pre-lobster snoozing on the sand

On Saturday, I went to water aerobics with my buddy Virginia and did some aqua-cardio for an hour. The fun in the sun didn’t stop, because Matt and I headed out to Zuma beach in Malibu where he boogie-boarded in the waves while I read and accidentally fell asleep on the sand. Note to self, and helpful hint for everyone else: If there is even a SLIGHT possibility that you will fall asleep on the beach, RE-APPLY SUNSCREEN. I am stupidly suffering from my mistake and cringing every time the crease of skin behind my knee cap moves, which is often. My legs seriously look like I’m wearing red tights, and the best part is how white my bum is in comparison. My lower half looks like a peppermint. No, it’s not sexy. Who says wisdom comes with age?

After the beach we went and saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, which is a very interesting film. Slightly depressing, but really interesting to see and learn about the people of Louisiana who live in the impoverished “bathtub” and choose to live free from modern civilization. It was a phenomenal acting job by the 5-year-old who played “Hushpuppy”, but it’s not a movie I’d pick again for a feel-good Saturday night flick.

Shelley and I rock the golden togas

Today, we went to a Golden Christmas in July party! My sweet friend Merrie hosted with her friends Brian and Erin at their gorgeous house in Thousand Oaks. The party was catered with amazing turkey, ham, roast potatoes and cheeses, and I kept well hydrated on the free flowing lemonade and iced tea. Because my friend Shelley is a creative genius, she came up with these gold togas and hair flowers for the party. Aren’t we cute? She’ll be selling homemade toffee soon… it’s out of this world, you can bet I’m going to link it as soon as her site is up!

Sweet, sweet watery relief.

 

One of the highlights of the party, besides the wonderful people and amazing food, was the crystal clear pool. I waded in and it felt like a chorus of angels singing sweet cooling relief to my sun-chapped calves. Don’t I look ecstatic? At this point Shelley and I had changed out of our stylish gold togas, because while as glittery and beautiful as they were, we quickly learned that Lamé does not breathe. It was a fabulous party, and after several hours I had to peel myself away from the cheese tray and head back to the ‘burbs to work on my thesis.

This weekend was jam packed with fun times, and while I had some food challenges (cheese tray, popcorn, birthday cake), I didn’t majorly overdo it and managed to squeeze in some exercise. I’ll be posting a weight-in post soon, but if you’ve been following the My Fitness Pal counter on the side of the blog, I’m down about 7 pounds when the scale is accurate kind to me. The past week has been a little wacky and I’ve been yo-yoing a  bit, but I think that’s more due to some salty choices and weird heat than actual weight gain, because my jeans are feeling loose. (I LOVE that feeling. Such a good feeling.)

Anyways, thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful week! I start my new job tomorrow, so send me some happy first day vibes, please! 🙂 What did you do this weekend that was fun?