Diets, wraps and the alcoholiday

SteakwrapLong overdue, I have decided to start watching my (our) intake and try to get a handle on the slow but steady weight gain that’s been getting the better of us both. I’m not a diet kind of guy — self-restraint is hardly my strong suit — and I despise all those fad diets that involve either categorically eliminating or overconsuming one thing or another. Atkins? Feh. Carbs are food, people.

The other reason to cast such a critical eye on our food is that DPaul has been given two new medications for his back problem. One gives you a false sense of hunger, specifically for carbs. The other can cause unexplained weight gain. Great combo.

So the two-pronged approach is simple: Firstly, I am back to tracking points on Weight Watchers. It’s not perfect, but it does help you make decisions about where to put your caloric investments, and it’s worked for me in the past. 

The thing is with Weight Watchers is that, the less you weigh, the fewer points you get. Now, I’m a man of small stature, and though I want to drop a few pounds I am hardly obese. So I am allotted a mere 20 points a day. Tuesday I went to the Farmers Market and got a lamb sausage at Prather Ranch. Hm, lessee … 12 points. Good sausage, bad diet food. Good thing I didn’t have a Coke with that sausage.

The second thing is moderation of alcohol. Now, DPaul and I like the occasional drink, and lately there have been a lot of occasions. So we’re setting boundaries, what we call company rules, or alcoholiday. Basically, it means that if we are home alone, just ourselves, no alcohol, period. If there’s company, or we go out, then we can drink. And of course, at least for me, those drinks have to fit within my points limitations.

(There is a bylaw to company rules, and that is vacation rules: All bets off when you’re on vacation, and pick up the pieces when you return.)

And there you have it. Two days in so far, and we haven’t killed each other yet.

And so the wrap. I am mildly embarassed to say that the inspiration for this came from a dish I had at the clubhouse of the resort where my father’s wedding was held. The menu was funny — there were groupings of salads, sandwiches and entrees, and if you looked carefully they were basically repeats of each dish in each category, just composed differently. Those crafy Coloradans.

So I pulled out a flank steak from the freezer (and I think there’s maybe one or more left in there yet), and I had gotten some cracking good, peppery arugula at the farmers market. OK, we’re halfway there. Reminds me of a fantastic salad I had in Florence — arugula, grilled steak and shavings of parmesan.

But I had a wrap in mind, and a wrap I made. This is where it goes all Olive Garden. You know, how they take traditional Italian, or at least Italian-sounding  things, recombine them with other Italian or even non-Italian things, and derive a dish that is somehow new but familiar (if not appetizing). Like Chicken Scampi Penne Alfredo, or whatever. Let’s call this the Southwest Tuscan Rancho Wrap. Catchy, no?

Steak, grilled. Lovely Ella Bella dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes, sliced and seeded. Magic sauce for which I could not possibly recount a recipe, done. Arugula at the ready.

I only wish my wrapping technique were better than it is. My plan was to make neat, tight little wraps that I could lightly griddle to crisp up the outsides, but in the end I got kind of awkward, wide wraps that wouldn’t stay closed too well. But what matters is that they tasted good. And at by my reckoning about 8 points, I can swing it at dinner. As long as I don’t have a lamb sausage at lunch.

  • For some reason reading this reminded me of the “dolma incident” I had. Let’s just say the few that did come out were not were the many lives lost, kitchens destroyed, and swear words wrought.
    Still, that picture looks delicious!

  • Sounds yummy — I could really go for one of those here at my desk. I’m trying to drop perhaps 2 or 3 lbs so I have fresh spinach and julienned veggies with fat free strawberry basalmic dressing. My kingdom for some STEAK!!!

  • tg

    arugula, yes
    i like your “alcoholiday” concept. the idea of having a glass of wine at home, alone, seems so harmless – but it’s also so-not-necessary, and i always feel so righteous when i skip it.

  • Oh dear. I think most days are alcoholidays for me.
    I love the phrase, “This is where it all goes Olive Garden.” Too funny.
    I just found you through you finding me at my soon-to-be food blog and I can’t wait to read more of your writing.

  • Garrett: I’ll pass on the complement to my partner, who photographed the dish. (I’ve been doing the bulk of the photographing since I got this thing started, but he’s finally getting interested.) And as for wrapping techniques, well, if it’s one thing I cannot do well in the kitchen, I’ll live.
    Kevin: Dude, believe me. I’m not even all that big on steak, but when faced with the prospect of not being able to have it, I *must* rebel.
    tg: You’re right — it’s the righteousness that makes it worthwhile (not, like, the health benefits or anything). Is it possible to feel more righteous than yourself? I’m determined to find out.
    Greetings, Schmoopy! I look forward to having you as a reader, and to your upcoming project. I found you by way of Kalyn’s posting on food bloggers at BlogHer. Keep up the good work!

  • I had such fun reading this! Thanks for commenting on my blog so I could find yours! We are also trying to drink less/eat healthier lately – it’s hard. For the two of us, we drink a half bottle of wine (always pouring half of each regular bottle into a half-sized bottle to keep for the next night) and limit ourselves to that with dinner. Habits are hard to break, for sure! Also loved the olive garden remark. SO true! Such an chain restaurant concept to name dishes like that…makes me think of the waiter in Office Space. Love your blog!

  • Glad you enjoyed the post … I thought it might have been a tad controversial exposing my drinking habits, but I suppose somewhat unsurprisingly others in the food blogosphere are at least somewhat sympathetic. 🙂