About carlakempert

Fiction Writer wannabe; mom of 2 boys (one teenager, one with autism); addicted crocheter/knitter; BIG fan of the iPod and the Philadelphia Phillies. Ask me about my camera, too. Or better yet, say cheese!

Eat to Live…

…not the other way around. (Yes, I’m the queen of cliches. Sue me.)

My dad is a former smoker, and to this day he has a real problem with people who smoke around him. Once, after changing seats because the person behind him was smoking, he told me, “There is no zealot like a convert.”

I live that concept. When I find an idea I like, I jump into it with both feet.

In the 90’s, I tried the Atkins diet. I didn’t buy the book; I just went with what my cousin told me, boosting my protein intake and cutting back on carbs and fats. I must’ve missed the part about having fats. I dropped 25 pounds in no time flat…and gained it all back.

In the 00’s, I tried South Beach. This time I got smart:  I bought the book. Loved the whole idea. Ate meat like it was going off the market. Finished the induction period and ate salads every chance I got. Actually, I found South Beach to be healthier than Atkins; I felt better on it. I lost at least 40 pounds and wore size medium pants. Then somewhere along the line, and I can’t remember what it was, I hit an emotional downturn and ate back all the weight I lost and then some. Not in one sitting, but eventually I ended up weighing the same as I did when I was 9 months pregnant.

Welcome to now. I’m a vegetarian. My son says it’s “just a phase Mom’s going through” but I’ve always been a veggie fan. My brother and I were polar opposites; he’d feed his broccoli to the dog while I slipped her the gristly pieces of meat I couldn’t bring myself to chew. Needless to say, she was one happy dog. Also a bit overweight.

Over the weekend I saw a show on PBS by Dr. Joel Furman about micronutrition. Unfortunately I missed the first half hour, but I got the gist of it. It suggested that for “incredible health”, we should focus on micronutrition and make GOMBS staples in our diet:

G – greens

O – onions

M – mushrooms

B – beans/berries

S – seeds

I thought, well heck, I’m doing that now. I’m a mushroom junkie. If I can find a way to work mushrooms onto my plate, they’re there. (For the record, mushrooms and low-sugar ice cream…no.) Supposedly this combination not only results in optimum health but after a short time making this your regular routine, it’ll taste delicious to you.

Know what? It’s right.

When I first became a vegetarian, I did this exact thing, and I came to think of cashews and macadamias as a treat akin to chocolate. Better still, I lost my chocolate cravings. I kid you not. My Girl Card is at risk but there you have it. Strawberries became delicacies; I’d see them on TV and salivate. Cake and cookies lost their appeal because I knew if I had one, I wouldn’t feel as good as I would after a small bowl of berries (okay, sprinkled with Splenda). And you already know about me and mushrooms. 🙂

I’ll let you know my progress as I continue. In the mean time, what have YOU changed in your life to make yourself feel good?


And in conclusion…

On Sunday I ran the Rock & Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. A gorgeous, perfect-for-running morning like this:


ended with this:


Quite honestly, there were times along the course that all that kept me going was thinking of the free beer at the end. Well, free after you consider the miles run and the registration fee. Anyway, I’ve had Mich Ultra before, but it never EVER tasted so good as it did after 13.1 miles of running. I highly recommend it to anyone (who’s over 21 and not driving afterward).

Alas, my finishing time sucked, so I’m watching more closely the things I eat, and exercising more, because I have another half marathon in October. Maybe next year or 2015, I’ll try for the Philadelphia Marathon. Or maybe I’ll wait ’til 2017, when I turn 50. 🙂

Homemade French Fries

I was going to post about cookouts on Labor Day, but the truth of the matter is, I haven’t unfurled our barbecue grill since my ex left. I’m afraid to use the thing since the time I tried to start it without supervision and singed the hairs off my arm. I’m just grateful that’s all I did, and I can laugh about it now, but propane makes me nervous. Just ask the manager at my first apartment. Every time the pilot light went out, I called the main office.

Anyway, we had some fun today at my house. After a pity party in which I bemoaned my lack of success with OurTime.com, I decided to get off my arse and go do something. As it turned out, I’d split up a bag of white potatoes I picked up at the farmer’s market, half for boiling, half for french fries. See, ever since we had Boardwalk Fries in Ocean City, I’ve wanted to make homemade fries, to prove to the boys that fresh food was way better than fast food. Continue reading

Who Doesn’t Love Fries?

Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to be healthy, what with all the running and the veggies and stuff. Once in a while I need have a glass of wine. Or three. Sue me.

However, not long ago a local restaurant tried out some new ideas for summer, and one got my attention: eggplant fries. Needless to say, I had to try them.

The next time I went there, they were my lunch. Me. a glass of water, and an order of eggplant fries. OMG, you’ve never tasted anything like it. Even if you swore up, down, left, right, and sideways that you’d NEVER in a zillion years eat eggplant, believe me, you’re going to fall in love with these. For starters, who doesn’t love fries? They were my son’s dinner of choice on his first birthday. It’s been a never ending love affair since then. Chances are darn good my first daughter in law will have worked at McDonalds at some point in her life. (Let’s leave the politics aside for today, please.)

Anyway, today at lunch I went to the local produce shop and found a beautiful eggplant. I was there for apples but this called to me. Later, the tomatoes and cucumbers beckoned too, but that’s another story.  I’ve been wanting to try eggplant fries at home, and I figured, “No time like the present!” Only problem is, I’m damn tired. It’s my first day back in the office after working from home for two weeks. I’m not a happy lady.

So I’m going to try out this recipe tomorrow, but it looks enticing (and easy) enough, so I thought I’d share. You could dip the finished product in ranch dressing or marinara, but trust me, they’re perfect on their own. P-E-R-F-E-C-T. They’re also vegetarian, low carb, gluten-free, and delicious. Hence, Perfect.


 You’re welcome. 🙂

My latest addiction

Sorry for the extended absenteeism. Once it started getting hot, the inspiration to stand in my non-air-conditioned kitchen all but disappeared. On the up-side, I can say we’ve discovered a lovely new solution to the summertime dinner dilemma: Wawa hoagies. 🙂 Put your order in the machine, take the slip to the cashier, and walk out with a custom-made hoagie. My oldest in particular LOVES the chicken parm, but then again, he eats so much chicken, I should check him for feathers. (You are what you eat, you know.)

Me, I’m turning into a total iced tea lemonade junkie. I can’t stop drinking it. I found it in Wawa in diet form, had one, and sighed. I’m tempted to say it’s better than sex, but it’s been a while so we’ll just let that one go, shall we?

Over the weekend, I almost picked up a case of Lipton low-cal iced tea lemonade. I don’t treat myself very often (shut up, Milky Way bars in the fridge) so why not, right? But then I saw the drink mix aisle. One pack of sugar-free lemonade and one pack of sugar-free iced tea later, and now thanks to two half-gallon jugs, I’m making it myself for less than $1 a gallon. The bottles went back.

I don’t know what it is I love about this stuff, but I do. Just enough tart, just enough sweet. I am one happy girl. Well, except for the aforementioned Hawaiian disease*, but you know what I mean. 😉 For now, this will do just fine, thanks.

(* As explained to me by an old foreman at my construction job, “Hawaiian disease” is known as “lackanookie.”)

More Kale, Please!

Believe it or not, the kale chips recipe is still a winner. We’re on our third bag of greens, and the last time I made them—after dinner one night when I was bored and there was nothing on TV–I popped ’em in the oven and 15 minutes later shouted, “Guys! Kale chips!” Within a minute I had two drooling teenagers in my kitchen, gleefully surveying the spoils. So far we’ve flavored them with kosher salt, garlic salt, and Old Bay. No preferences yet; every roll’s a winner! 🙂

I’ve also been informed that Whole Foods has a vegan version of General Tso’s chicken. This, I need to try, so I’ll report back as soon as I’ve given it a taste-test of my own. I have to admit, there’s a lot of different Chinese foods I do miss since I went veggie, but I’ve also found a lot of super-delicious options.

That is all. Carry on.

Kale Chips

I can’t believe this just happened. I was in the kitchen, testing out the kale chips recipe, when my 16 year old walked in and saw the bag on the counter.
“Kale! What’s kale?” he shrieked.
I said, “I’m making kale chips. Want to try some?”
He reached into the bag and ate a leaf. To that point, I’d only sniffed it. I was a little iffy when I noticed the bag said “A bold and bittersweet flavor.” It made me think of broccoli rabe, which is bitter and a very acquired taste. It took me a while to learn to like it but I do, so long as it’s smothered in garlic and/or cheese.
I turned to see his reaction. Continue reading

Roasted or Broiled?

Okay, I need some help here. The local produce market advertised asparagus, and recently I saw a TV show where it said asparagus is good for the libido. I was intrigued. If only that nice young man from “The Doctors” would like to share some with me…?  🙂

Anyway, I picked up a bunch of asparagus from the store yesterday and I think what I did with it was considered broiling, though I didn’t use the broiler; I baked it at 350 for about 30 minutes, drizzled with olive oil, garlic salt, minced onion and parmesan cheese. It didn’t turn out half bad, but I think there’s a better way to do it.

I’m looking for suggestions. (Polite ones, please.) How do you cook fresh asparagus?

For the record, I didn’t end up with any “woodies”, as we used to call them; those hard ends of the asparagus that you couldn’t chew through without rodent teeth. For that reason alone, I consider last night’s dinner a win.


I think I’ve posted before that I’m a runner. The events in Boston yesterday still have me off-balance. I wasn’t there but I’ve been to Boston (and loved it), and a co-worker runs the Boston Marathon every year, and I had a friend there as a spectator. Everyone’s checked in, and Tom finished in 3:15, thank God. (Though hey, the dude finished 26.2 miles in just 25 minutes more than I finished 13.1. Now I feel like a complete slacker.)

People in the running community are wearing their race shirts today to show solidarity and support for the runners, first responders, spectators and family members who were affected. I’m wearing my Color Run shirt. When my husband moved out, I’d only just begun running, but after my first 5k I felt like I’d found a place where I belonged. There’s something about the sound of sneakers hitting pavement that makes me feel like I’m home.

Hearing the news of yesterday–doing 70 mph on the NJ Turnpike, on my way back from visiting my family in New York–this attack touched me personally because runners are my family too. I won’t even tell you how many laws I broke, trying to get home to get more information. (I could barely get any AM radio reception.)

If you want a really great first-hand account of yesterday, I read this blog this morning. I also saw that runners are wearing this race bib today when they go out:

runners united

I’m adding it to my bib banner, which hangs proudly in my room by the window. Every morning I open my eyes and smile, knowing, “I did that. I belong somewhere. I run.”

Today my heart is in Boston. When I started running, my goal was the Broad Street Run, which I’ll be doing in 19 days (assuming it’s still on; so far yes, but with tightened security). I never believed I could run a marathon. Now I want to try, for those who can’t run ever again.

Good Things

Just a quick note because I’ve been short on time lately and therefore short on kitchen creativity. However…

That homemade pizza recipe I posted has become a weekend staple in the house. One weekend I had too much going on, and I asked if the boys wanted to order pizza instead. I was met with twin expressions of disappointment. “Yeah, it’s okay…” they said.

This past weekend was another busy one; RWA meeting, garden overhaul, baseball. On Sunday I told the boys I was going to the Phillies game but I’d set the bread machine timer so the pizza dough would be ready by 6, and I’d pick up the “good cheese” on the way home. You know you’ve done something right when you watch a 16 year old boy grin from ear to ear because you told him you’re making homemade pizza.

The only complaint I got was that we were out of black olives. Next week, our pizza will be fully loaded. Pics to follow! 🙂