Keep It Poppin’ (My Kettle Corn Obsession)
Aug18

Keep It Poppin’ (My Kettle Corn Obsession)

I used to drive all the way to the Main Street Farmer’s Market in Santa Monica.  Park my car.  Go for a 30 minute run. Pick up my bag (or 2, or 3) of kettle corn.  Then drive home. Do you remember the little white bags they’d fill up with fresh kettle corn, and then stick it in a plastic bag and tie it up with a wire tie?  If I convinced myself to only buy one or two that week, chances are I’d find myself at the Westwood Farmer’s Market on Wednesday buying another bag. When I say I was obsessive, I’m not kidding! Then I joined Weight Watchers and discovered that my little white bag—overflowing into the clear plastic bag, neatly tied with a wire tie—was FIFTEEN POINTS.  Not worthy! Eventually, after LOTS of sugar snap peas (zero points) and carrots (zero points) during the day to make up for my kettle corn habit at night, I decided to try Orville Redenbacher’s 94% fat free kettle corn instead.  Not quite the same experience, but at 3 points a bag (on the old points system), it was a much better value than the regular kettle corn. And then began the new habit of an entire bag of “diet” kettle corn… every single night. If I was out for dinner or at a family gathering, everything was compared to my 3-point kettle corn at night, and nothing measured up to my alone-time with my kettle corn.  I know, seems pretty sad.  For me, that huge bag of popcorn every night was filling an emotional void; it was pretty much my boyfriend!  Only when I found the love of my life did I manage to completely kick the habit. Then one day, Sam’s mother sends him home with a large sample of Angie’s Kettle Corn from Costco.  (Does this woman have it in for me or what?)  He didn’t quite get it when I told him that I have a thing for kettle corn!! Back to Basics Now when I need to get back on track, the first thing I change is to go back to my 94% fat free Kettle Corn as a nighttime snack. It’s on my Top 10 Weight Watchers Power Foods list. There’s nothing quite like it when you’re craving a sweet-and-salty fix! The difference is that now I really only need a 100 calorie bag. Before, the huge bag was just feeding myself emotionally and was a habit that I wasn’t willing to break. I find that the danger with the big bag varieties is that once you’ve had one cup, it’s far too easy...

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Bikini Blues plus FIRST TEN get Summer Coaching Deal
Jul11

Bikini Blues plus FIRST TEN get Summer Coaching Deal

In two weeks (yikes!) we’re off for a three night mini-vacay with five other couples and our littles. It’s interesting what fear and panic three little days has instilled in me. The fact that Palm Springs will be like an oven, and we’ll basically be parking in the pool, isn’t helping. Plus, said friends are all a) gorgeous and b) much younger than me. After wasting hours and energy discussing this (with sister, trainer, friends, and—I know I’m not supposed to, but yes—hubby too), I’ve come to the conclusion that: Everyone feels self-conscious in a bathing suit. (Or “costume”—as we called it in South Africa. Took me a while to stop saying that one!) I mean, obviously I’m not referring to the godly workout freaks who count the days (with joy) until they get to bare their bods to the rest of us mere mortals. But even the skinny minnies beat up on themselves and feel scrutinized. (Why, oh why is that?!)   Do you feel self-conscious in a bathing suit? Has it stopped you from having the summer fun you deserve?   I decided that the first step to feeling better about the trip was to get a brand new bikini, because: a) I’m sick of squeezing the water out of the Vic Sec “Bombshell” bikini tops I already own—not to mention the extreme neck ache (and occasional bruising) from all that padding—especially once they’re saturated with water. (Though I’m pretty good at discreetly squeezing them out with my inner arms.) b) You know how they say getting brand new, cute workout outfit will inspire you to work out? Well, it’s the same with a bathing suit. If you have one that you love—that’s comfortable and flattering—you’ll feel better, hold yourself proudly, and look less self-conscious. And people will be attracted to your positive aura instead of staring at your body parts.   Bikini Buying I must say that Diane’s Beachwear at the Calabasas Commons made it far more bearable. (They have 21 branches nationwide) I’m thinking they probably (no definitely) have some special lighting that hides the lumps, bumps, and bulges. With the encouragement of sweet and sassy Mara, I didn’t even try on one black thing. And a one-piece? Not for me. Here I am attempting to take a selfie of a flirty, fun two-piece to send to hubby.  Unfortunately, when I pulled the cover-up over my head, I revealed more of myself than planned, so went with the safer orange bandeau—way less chance of a wardrobe malfunction when I pick up my four-year-old. Plus it reminds me of the “boob-tube” orange bikini that I had when I was a little girl. (And brings me the same joy.)...

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How I Gained 4 Pounds in 4 Days (NY Confessions)
Jun26

How I Gained 4 Pounds in 4 Days (NY Confessions)

We’re back from 7 nights in New York and Boston, and after a fantastic trip I’m happy to say there’s no place like home! I’m definitely a West Coast girl. Staying smack dab in the middle of Times Square did not a relaxing vacation make. But we didn’t go there to relax! And what a trip to be staying “On Broadway!” (Those of you who knew me in my musical theater days will appreciate that.)     I was sooo happy that I packed my Best Weight Watchers Travel Snacks when we were delayed for NINE hours. (You might have seen my #IHateDelta tweets) Who needs stale pretzels when you have Cosomi Cookie-Crackers? Anthony Bordain’s Kitchen Confidential on my iPad Mini kept me from losing it completely! (Though I’m not sure I wanted to hear what really goes on in the kitchens of NYC just before dining in some of them. Scaaaary.) We checked into The W Hotel at 3:45am (!), and were ecstatic that Hazel had attempted to erase our nightmare travel day with a gorgeous corner suite on the 55th floor. After numerous warnings about teeny-tiny NYC hotel rooms, we were stoked. (Can you say upgrade?!) And so ensued a Four Day Eating Fiasco You must know by now that I’m a bonafide foodie, and despite having a (mostly) healthy food blog, I’m obviously into baked goods, hence the name “OrnaBakes.” So I wasn’t about to miss this opportunity for trying good eats across NYC. It’s a good thing we walked for MILES each day. (Would you believe I forgot to take my FitBit Flex!!!)   Everyone asks me the same thing: What was your favorite food? So here it is!   Eataly (sigh) Wow. What an experience. I mean—there’s an entire Nutella Room! (Check out my Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Nutella Sauce for the BEST dessert EVER!)       Seriously the best pizza ever to pass my lips—with fresh buffalo mozzarella that tasted like Italy.   And who knew that simple spaghetti in butter, olive oil, parmesan and pepper could taste so unbelievable!   And then of course I couldn’t miss fresh Hazelnut Gelatto. (My top 5 foods on earth)   Fun to watching these friendly bakers effortlessly make foccaccia. (Not sure why there were three of them on this task. But it looks interesting!)   Sam was ecstatic to find his beloved GUS (Grown Up Soda) which is increasingly hard to find in LA. (Gelsons still carries it)   I was so overwhelmed by the shelves and shelves of magnificent Italian confections, that I didn’t even come away with a single one! (Plus I knew if I bought a...

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Two Dinners and a Movie
May12

Two Dinners and a Movie

You MUST see “Chef” by Jon Favreau—now playing in select movie theaters. Not just for foodies; though if you’re passionate about cooking—or eating— you will LOVE every minute of it! And wish you could jump right through the screen and devour every delicious dish… (See below for how you can actually make that happen!)     Filled with positive messages, this heartwarming comedy about a chef who quits his restaurant job to start a food truck, will inspire you to be true to yourself, and be the best you can be—as a writer, parent, artist, or whatever your passion. Most touching was the broken, workaholic chef’s relationship with his soulful young son—played by talented 10-year-old, Emjay Anthony, who had to keep up with improvised lines from Favreau and Leguizamo. The flick cleverly incorporates Twitter, showing how destructive—and influential—social media can be, and how naturally it comes to the youngsters. (I need a “Percy” to promote OrnaBakes!) And you might think twice before posting a nasty review about a restaurant—or movie—on Yelp! I had been dying to see Chef from the minute I saw the trailer, and hubby, Sam—who was not dying to see it—graciously agreed to indulge me. (No pun intended.) But alas, turns out that opening night on Friday, May 9th, was for limited release only, and not playing in our area. So instead of being at the movies, I was in usual my place on the couch, watching charmingly humble Pharrell Williams on Jimmy Kimmell. And then, next up… Jon Favreau promoting the ultimate ode to food! Well, when Sam saw that it co-starred Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., and Dustin Hoffman (yes, in that particular order), he was suddenly keen to go with me! (Interesting.) I then discovered on Facebook that Favreau was doing Q&A at the AMC Century City following the movie, the very next night! So… we snatched up the last two decent seats; got Granny on board to babysit, and less that 24 hours later… #bestdatenightever    Orna with Jon Favreau 5:30pm Happy Hour at Pink Taco (Owned by 31-year-old Harry Morton, of Morton’s Steakhouse family. Highly recommend!) 6:30pm Quick visit to the Container Store (sigh, love love love that store) 7:00pm Chef: Movie Tribute to Food 9:30pm Q&A and photo op with Jon Favreau 10:30pm BJ’s Pizza (I told you it was Two Dinners and a Movie…) What more could a girl want on the eve of Mother’s Day?   Q&A with Jon Favreau Hearing writer, director, and star, Jon Favreau speak openly and honestly about the movie—and his creative process—was deeply inspiring, so I wanted to share some of...

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Weight Watchers Simple Start Works!
Jan06

Weight Watchers Simple Start Works!

Weight Watchers just released their two week, kick-start-your-metabolism program that is guaranteed to work! (If you follow it, of course.) This past Saturday I caught the last meeting of the week (WW runs Sunday through Saturday) where the new Simple Start program was the meeting topic. (Don’t worry, if you’re just joining—or returning—they’ll be happy to go over it with you after any meeting.) Happily, I already dropped three of the FIVE pounds that I gained in the last month—after following Simple Start for just one week. (See, I told you it works!) I’d been struggling to get back on track, after giving in to emotional eating in the unsettled weeks following our incredible trip to South Africa. I can only imagine how many points I inhaled night after night—while listening to my jet-lagged toddler yelling that she will NEVER EVER go to sleep! (Now my hubby understands why I gave him a hard time about bringing all those slabs of chocolate back with us.) It didn’t help that we returned smack-dab in the middle of the holidays (after oddly missing Thanksgivukkah)—landing in Christmas pandemonium and a changed season. No wonder I was out of sorts! And this after being out of my exercise routine for a month—and then getting sick, blah blah blah. (But I don’t have to tell you… you know how it happens.) Each pound that I watched the scale creep up made me feel a little worse and a little more out-of-control, but when I entered a whole new decade, I knew it had to stop! Enter “Simple Start” program I dragged myself to a Weight Watchers meeting, and got on the scale even though I knew it was an all-time hideous high. But like I used to tell my members way back when I was a Weight Watchers Leader: If you don’t like the number you see on the scale, that’s okay because you never have to see it again! Once you’re in the habit of eating chocolate or other full-fat, high-sugar “trigger” foods, it’s hard to break the cycle. That’s why Simple Start is so brilliant: when you focus on wholesome, quality foods, your body miraculously stops craving all that other stuff.  Simple Start is basically Simply Filling (which is how I live my life and how I’ve managed to keep my weight down)—choosing from a list of Weight Watchers Power Foods, which are healthier and more satisfying.     Now, even white potatoes and reduced-calorie breads are included.   The difference is that with Simple Start you get 7 PointsPlus a day for “indulgences”—but they don’t carry over if you don’t use...

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Starbucks and La Boulange: Picks and Points
Nov07

Starbucks and La Boulange: Picks and Points

I’m not usually tempted by full fat baked goods at Starbucks (evil!), but ironically, since they partnered up with San Francisco’s La Boulange—which they now own—the “reduced fat”, artisanal options have brought up some serious cravings in me for pastries! Do labels like ‘low fat’, ‘whole grain’ or ‘oatmeal’ make you more likely to give in? I was surprised to find that the “Wheat” Spinach Croissant was higher in fat and calories than the Tomato & Cheese Croissant, after assuming the opposite. (That’s clever marketing for you!)     I managed to stick with my Skinny Caramel Latte (yay me!) and inhaled a Corazonas Oatmeal Square Mini as I got into my car. (One of my favorite Costco items.) This small victory inspired me to compile this guide—with nutritional information and Weight Watchers PointsPlus values—to empower us in the upcoming holiday season! I’ve included my Top Ten Best and Worst Choices, but you’ll find the complete guide below. Even if you’re NOT a Weight Watcher, this list will help you make good choices. Print it! Pin it! Bookmark it! Have a plan before you’re staring longingly through the glass. FACT: All calories are not created equal Weight Watchers does not consider calories at all to calculate points. (Surprised?) By comparing the points versus the calories, you’re automatically making better choices, because PointsPlus values are based on fat, carbs, fiber, and protein—which affect how long you will feel satisfied, and what food choices you make for the rest of the day. TIP: Take something delicious with you, and compare points and “worthiness” to it!  Ask yourself… Is that Lemon Pound Cake really worthy of all those points? You can’t expect a banana or a fruit cup to stand up to the temptation of a 14-point pastry. But if you have something with you that you consider a special treat (not your usual protein bar or Apple Chips), you’ll be better equipped to resist.  My Top 5 Bring Along Snacks Corazonas Oatmeal Square Minis – 2 PP (The regular size Corazonas Oatmeal Squares are 5PP per chewy square of whole-grain, oaty goodness, with 6g protein to keep you feeling satisfied! My fav is the Peanut Butter. Great to keep in the car because they don’t melt. Check points for different flavors!) Vitalicious Vitatops Muffin Tops – 3 PP belVita Golden Oat Breakfast Biscuits – 3 PP for two biscuits Luna Fiber Bars – 3 PP (my fave is Peanut Butter Strawberry) Bobos Oat Bars – 5 PP for half the bar, so a little decadent, but sooo delish and all natural ingredients. Does the ritual of buying something in a little paper...

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