Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pizza galore!

Despite my not-really-New Year's resolutions (I'll post those up later) of cooking more at home, I still crave take-out food. So instead of going out and buying it, I've been recreating the same foods at home. And they really do taste better (for the most part) if you make them yourself. Yesterday was sushi, and today is pizza.

This time we bought pizza dough (I know, kind of cheating but it's raw and we have to cook it ourselves so it kind of works) but once I get more time and energy, I'll make the dough from scratch, and here's the perfect recipe from Smitten Kitchen:

Pizza, Updated
A slightly gussied-up version of my standby.

Yield: One small, thin-crust pizza. Can serve two with a big salad.

6 tablespoons warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)
2 tablespoons white wine
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour

Cornmeal for sprinkling
Flour for dusting counter
1/2 pound torn-up buffalo mozzarella
Few leaves of torn-up basil

  1. Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and no matter how dry it looks, work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if you need, but in my experience, this is almost never necessary.
  2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a minute or two.
  3. If you’re like me and always trying to reduce the number of dirty dishes left at the end of the night, wash the bowl you made the dough in, dry it and coat the inside with olive oil. Put the dough in, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled.
  4. [Easiest way to tell if a dough has risen enough? Dip two fingers in flour, press them into the dough, and if the impression stays, it's good to go. If it pops back, let it go until it doesn't.]
  5. Meanwhile, make some sauce.
  6. Preheat your oven to its highest temperature. If you have a pizza stone, sprinkle it with cornmeal and put it in the oven. Otherwise, sprinkle a baking pan with the same.
  7. Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured counter and gently deflate the dough with the palm of your hands. Form it into a ball and let it rest on a floured spot with either plastic wrap over it (sprinkle the top of the dough with flour so it doesn’t stick) or an upended bowl. In 15 minutes, it is ready to roll out.
  8. Do so on the floured counter until pretty darn thin, then lift it onto a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet or pizza paddle. Add the sauce, torn-up mozzarella and slivers of fresh basil.
  9. Slide the pizza from the paddle to your preheated pizza stone, or just put the baking sheet in the oven as is.
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes, checking at 7. Slice and serve immediately.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ramping up the metabolism

I read this article called "How to get your metabolism moving" on CNN about little health tips to speed up that darn metabolism. For the most part, it's pretty straight-forward and stuff I already knew, but here are some bullet points to help myself remember the important parts:

  • A pound of muscle at rest burns three times as many calories as a pound of fat.
  • 45 minutes of any sweat-inducing exercise increases your resting metabolic rate for 14 hours after the workout (190 calories for a group in a study on average).
  • A sleepless night reduces your resting metabolic rate by about 5% several hours into the next day.
  • The morning after skipping sleep, you burn 20% fewer calories from diet-induced thermogenesis.
  • Low blood sugar levels cause the breakdown of tissue to turn it into glucose to feed the brain, which in essence leaves you with less muscle which slows down the metabolism.

And now onto the tips for eating differently:

  • Eat smaller meals with 100- to 200-calorie snacks in between to keep blood sugar levels even.
  • Have a small snack (peanut butter on a graham cracker) to get your metabolism working while you sleep.

Like I said, pretty straight-forward but worth putting into list form so it's easier to reference.

Friday, January 6, 2012

State of my weight, 2012 edition

I've been trying to lose weight since I can remember, but I've only been writing down my weight since 2004, my freshman year of college. Some years, there aren't many entries (college and my time abroad), but more recently I've been keeping track semi-regularly. Of course, when I'm actively trying to lose weight, there's a weigh-in every day. So that data is skewed.

Here is the history of my attempts at weight-loss since freshman year of college:

Period Minimum Maximum
College 166.0
Post-College 202.0
Colorado 206.5

And by the years:

Year Minimum Maximum
2004 167.0
2005 166.0
2006 -- --
2007 196.0
2008 202.0
2009 209.0
2010 209.5
2011 206.5

I can explain each one of those mins and maxes (especially 2010 and 2011). When I'm low, it's because I've upped my exercise (triathlon training in 2010 up until June, and swimming in early 2011, then rugby this spring) even if my eating and drinking habits stayed the same. The weight crept back up as soon as I began sitting on my butt for whatever reason (traumatized by June triathlon so nothing in late 2010, and wrist injury this summer thus no biking and too busy for rugby this fall).

If I exercise but don't change anything else about my life, I will lose weight.

As a parting shot, here's my weight during all these years in graphical form: