The Breukelen Life

The Breukelen Life

Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn

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Cinching it with Pasta and Lemon

March 14, 2011 , , ,

Since the New Year I’ve been on a diet. I know, you wouldn’t be able to guess from the things I’ve been posting on here but it’s a true story! When I was home for Christmas, I was literally watching my waste band spread as I lounged around drinking my father’s “special” version of a brandy Alexander. (Ice cream, crème de coco, brandy, nutmeg, BLEND). My mother’s cookies, my father’s beverages and the fact that I didn’t really have much room to grow put me in a sour state. My vain attempts to lie to my mother about why I didn’t bring any pants weren’t fooling me and they were definitely not fooling her. In my defense, I WAS drunk packing but even in my haze of bourbon and apple cider I knew those skinny jeans would be a waste of space in my suite case.


So, when my flight was delayed and another dozen of my mother’s cookies just up and disappeared I decided it was time to make a change. The exact moment happened to be when I was in the bathroom reading mom’s Good Housekeeping. (Don’t judge, it was a rough week.) They had a feature on new diet books and the one called Cinch! caught my eye. I don’t normally go for diets. I absolutely hate the idea of Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and I would rather die than be caught with some book called Skinny Bitch. But this one was different. It talked about cooking and the reality of trying to eat right and eat out. It also covered emotional eating and it came with lots of recipes. I immediately downloaded it to my Kindle knowing that I wouldn’t be able to escape my mother’s glare as I tried to sneak out of the house in leggings again.

When I finally got back to New York, I had one big NYE blow out at Char No. 4 – a four-course cloud of deliciousness with beef tartar, lobster and lots of drinks. And on January 1 I was hung over. Completely and utterly hung over.

But I started anyways. It started with a five day cleanse which was interesting. It’s effects were a complete reboot of my tastes and cravings. While it was happening, I was miserable but now I am still feeling the effects two and a half months later as I still spurn offers of milk chocolate and ice cream and reach for the Mast Brothers dark with sea salt. It also put me 7 pounds down. And since then I’ve lost another 7 lbs.

While I started with the recipes, I quickly ventured away from them as I do with most recipes most of the time. (You can see a few sample recipes here on Shape.)Knowing the formula – lots of veggies and fruit, only 1 serving of healthy plant based fat per meal, 1 serving of grain and a small amount of protein has helped keep me in control in the kitchen and out of it. In turn, I’ve managed to gain some confidence so that even when the situation isn’t ideal, I can still manage. Don’t get me wrong. I cheat. I cheat all the time. But the fact that I’ve been cheating and am still 14 pounds down is incredible! Something is right with this diet and that’s why I wanted to share.

And that’s also why I wanted to share this recipe. I spent the weekend in a fog of cold medicine but I could not stop eyeballing Smitten Kitchen’s Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil. I was dying to make the original but I know that purchasing even the smallest thing of cream will result in me making ice cream with whatever I don’t use. (See gourmet sherbet.) So on Sunday when I finally was able to make it to the store without passing out, I ignored the dairy section and attempted to come up with my own version sans the cream. I chose to shred some brussel sprouts which made the pasta seem a bit hardier. The arugula added a nice spice as the lemon and cheese evened the tastes out a bit. I was extremely happy with the results. I hope you like!

2 cloves of garlic – chopped
½ lemon juice and zest (I used a meyer!)
½ cup cooked spaghetti (I usually go for whole wheat but I was out of whole wheat spaghetti) Reserve ½ cup of pasta water
1 cup of brussel sprouts sliced on a mandolin
1 cup arugula (I used NY state Satur arugula)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped basil
1 tsp crushed red pepper
¼ cup shredded pecorino Romano

Cook pasta. Remember that pasta expands. We only need ½ cup cooked. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water.

Heat frying pan with olive oil.

Add in brussel sprouts. Saute until tender about 4-5 minutes

Add in garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Toss in pasta and arugula. Cook until arugula is tender. Add in a few tablespoon of reserved water if it’s looking a bit dry. Stir in basil once off the heat.

Put in your favorite pasta bowl and top with Pecorino Romano. Enjoy!


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