Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Weighty Issues

In my class at the Boston Center for Adult Ed, my students have been tackling a different genre of food writing each session. Last week they tried their hand at the fastest and newest: blogging.

The following is the first ever blog post by Jeanine Slater, one of the class. Let her know what you think!

I used to think that healthy food couldn’t taste good too. Brown rice? Sorry, no. Steamed vegetables? Again, no.

I’m a Yankee with southern roots and I love all kinds of food, so you might say I have equal parts clam chowder and fried chicken running through my veins. In high school I joined the track team and ran 10 miles a day, played tennis, ate whatever I pleased and until I was 18 never weighed more than 110 pounds. Then I went to college. You’ve heard of the freshman 10? Try the freshman 30. So began my on-going battle with my weight.

A few years ago, with the assistance of a Health Coach, I lost 55 pounds and have continued to maintain a healthy weight. The basic formula is very simple: calories in, calories out, but of course we all know it isn’t quite that easy. Finding time to exercise and prepare healthy meals can be very challenging. To help me stay on track, I began creating lighter versions of my favorite foods using both fresh and prepared ingredients.

You’ve heard of Sandra Lee? Oh, please. I was creating semi-homemade meals long before blondie appeared on the Food Network - she just got there before I did.

But you would be amazed by what you can eat while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Now that Spring has arrived I am experimenting with grilled chicken & fish (thank you George Foreman!) and preparing tasty and filling salads. I rarely use recipes but have created one for the shrimp salad below. It is simple, tasty and a crowd pleaser at large or small gatherings. Feel free to use the reduced calorie dressings or herbs of your choice


Recipe: Peppery Shrimp Salad

1-2 lbs cooked or raw shrimp
1-2 fresh lemons
Herbs - Sweet basil, thyme, oregano (or whatever you have on hand)
1/4 Cup Ken’s Reduced Calorie Creamy Parmesan with Cracked Peppercorn Dressing (this is my favorite)
1/8 Cup Hellman’s Low Fat Mayonnaise (optional)
Lettuce or other greens

Step 1: If using cooked shrimp, remove tails, rinse & drain thoroughly. Proceed to step 3

Step 2: If using raw shrimp, peel and de-vein (if desired); add shrimp to a large pot of simmering water to which a few lemon slices and herbs have been added. Shrimp will immediately begin to turn pink ; stir & cook for 1-2 minutes depending on the size of the shrimp; remove 1 or 2 & taste for doneness; shrimp should be pink & firm but not mushy (undercooked) or tough (overcooked). When done, empty into a strainer and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Step 3: Drain shrimp thoroughly (pat dry with paper towels if necessary); place in a strainer and refrigerate overnight if you are not in a hurry.

Step 4: Place shrimp in a non-metal bowl & add salad dressing, mayonnaise, a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice, and herbs to taste. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours; adjust seasoning & serve on a bed of lettuce or other greens; garnish with lemon twists.

Serves 6-8.

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Jay said...

I'm wasting too much time at work (copywriter) coming up with a critique for this blog post, so I'll just make a couple of points.

1) It's a little wordier than necessary. That's a problem most of us seem to have (for example, I could have got my point across with just "omit needless words"), and it makes the piece seem a little meandering and clunky. For example, no need to say "I love all kinds of food," because that's clear from the "clam chowder and fried chicken in your veins." Instead of saying "until I was 18. Then I went to college," just say "until I went to college." If a word, sentence, or paragraph isn't interesting or adding any information, it should go.

2) Speaking of extra paragraphs, the one about Sandra Lee--whoever that is--seems superfluous and makes you sound like a blowhard. What's the point of taking a random shot at a tv personality?

3) It's usually best to try to avoid repeating yourself. You use the phrase "you've heard about" twice in 3 paragraphs. Try changing it up.

4) Try for a sense of closure. You set up a nice problem a the beginning and you do resolve it at the end, but it would be nice to give a callback to your opener. For example (and by no means the perfect one): So if you think that healthy food can't taste good, try this shrimp salad. Will it change your mind? Yes.

5) If this is supposed to be the first post of an ongoing blog, it seems like it should set up what the blog will be about. What's the hook? Is it going to always be about tasty health food, or more about your eclectic tastes? Try to make that clear (and don't take Aaron's original T&F post about Paella as an example)

Jay said...

ugh, i should have listened to #3 and not started off 2 sentences in a row with "try." So-

6) Proofread before posting.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the blog entry just the way it is, whether rambling or repeating a word or phrase to me a blog is like speaking to the writer face to face.
The recipe for shrimp salad I will try though I will use non fat Greek yogurt in place of the salad dressing and mayo adding in a few spices this is a personal choice not a reflection on the recipe,
I don't watch television and I know who Sandra Lee is and the comment was well place, Jay seems like a complete blowhard, though this too is my own thought meant to be shared.

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