Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs: I Believe in Miracles


I heard the whispers for months. "Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs are soooo good!" said one. "They really taste like meat!" said another. "Even my carnivore boyfriend likes them!" declared a third. I wanted to believe them, but another part of me said, "No, no, Diana, don't be fooled by their clearly exaggerated pontifications! Do you remember the Trader Joe's frozen spinach lasagna disaster?" I nodded. It ended up in the garbage. And the inside of my dinner napkin.

After a few months of hemming and hawing every time I passed through the frozen food aisle at my local West Hollywood Trader Joe's, I finally made the plunge. I put a bag of the meatless
meatballs in my shopping basket, paid for them (I don't steal) and proceeded to park them in my freezer for the next five weeks. Every time I contemplated testing out the highly-lauded soy-based wonder balls, I found myself reaching for a box of Amy's frozen spinach pizza instead. Why risk a garbage bag reaction when I could be assured of Amy's delightful cheesy goodness?

Then one day, it happened. I grew a pair and extracted those balls from the freezer like a woman on a mission -- a mission for quick and easy spaghetti and meatball satisfaction!

I like to think of the months that followed that fateful day as a new period in my life. I, Diana H., the carnivorous diner and picky palatted princess, was immediately transformed into a Trader Joe's Meatless Meatball believer. The transformation has been so total and complete (think Extreme Makeover on ABC) that I now whip up a batch of said meatballs and spaghetti on a weekly basis, and find myself craving them like I would crave a thick steak or juicy pork chop. My admiration for these meatless wonders is so profound that I can't even imagine ever rolling my own meaty meatballs again. Bold statement? Yes. But, I'm "ballsy" enough to say it again.

Of course not every meatless meatball experience is created equal. There is a right way (my way) and a wrong way (everyone else's way) to prepare a plate of meatless meatballs and spaghetti. Follow the easy instructions listed below and you'll wind up with something that looks like the image at the top of this post. I triple dog dare you to serve them to your boyfriend/husband/male friend and see if he can tell the meatballs aren't actually made with meat.

Diana H.'s Easy-Peasy Meatless Meatballs & Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
7 Trader Joe's Meatless Meatballs
1/2 cup Newman's Own Sweet Onion & Garlic Tomato Sauce
1 serving of Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Parmesan
Italian Seasoning
Red Pepper Flakes

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Step 2: Cook pasta according to instructions on package (boil water, salt water, etc. It's not rocket science, people!) While pasta is cooking, bake the 7 meatless meatballs on a baking sheet lined with foil. DO NOT cheat and microwave them! It will lead to extreme meatball sogginess and unhappy stomach syndrome!

Step 3: Drain pasta. Combine with sauce, baked meatballs, some shakes of red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning. Plate.

Step 4: Sprinkle meatballs and spaghetti with ample parmesan. Place plate (make sure it is oven safe!) in the oven until the cheese melts and the top looks a little crusty. Don't worry -- it's good crusty. Not sleep-in-the-eyes crusty.

Step 5: Remove from oven (with a hot pad, please!) and serve with steamed broccoli. Why? Because it's nutritious, is delicious when dipped in tomato sauce and I said so.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Taste for Relaxation (and really good mac 'n cheese)

As a food snob, one of my favorite past-times (aside from eating and talking about eating) is tearing down a mediocre restaurant with a smorgasbord of well-chosen adjectives. Eateries like Toast, Versailles and Luna Park shake in trepidation when I come to call -- none are safe from the tartness of my sassy tongue. Not even Versailles' divinely sweet plantains can redeem them for the greasy slop they proffer to their clearly inparticular patrons.

Given my visceral opposition to dining at any establishment that defiles my taste buds with mediocrity, I should be loathe to enjoy an evening or afternoon spent at the slightly underwhelming Taste on Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood. Of course because I also enjoy the past-time of defying expectations, it shouldn't be particularly surprising that I am in complete agreement with the domain name on Taste's website: "I Love Taste."

Despite discovering a few "taste" violations over the course of the four occasions I have dined at Taste, including the artichoke starter aberration, I can't help but feel drawn back to the quaint, dimly lit restaurant again and again. Occupying a house-like space on the quieter, upscale end of Melrose Ave., Taste is craveable for its charming unpretentious ambiance and unassuming clientele. It's the type of place I want to bring my mom for brunch when she is up visiting from the OC. It's the type of place I want to go to sip a reasonably priced glass of Sauvignon Blanc while catching up with dear friends after a long work week. And it's the type of place I want to call an extension of my home.

This past Friday night, the two ladies who introduced me to Taste and I enjoyed a delightful hour and a half dinner in what has become a regular spot in our dining rotation. We dug into a standard, but properly executed calamari appetizer, smeared globs of the delectable pesto hummus on slices of warm bread, and devoured the chicken paillard, chicken curry and pork chop entrees with gusto. Though the only thing that really riddled my tongue with desire was the truffle oil mac 'n cheese served alongside my somewhat overcooked pork chop, I don't feel particularly inclined to complain. It was fine as it was, and in a way, the imperfections made the whole experience more authentically like a meal I would have at home. Or it would if my mom stocked truffle oil or fried her own calamari.

I could spend the rest of this entry writing pretentious paragraphs about the food I have encountered over the course of my four visits to Taste -- describing the various textures and layers of flavers (or lack thereof) -- but somehow that seems completely unnecessary. I don't go to Taste to be blown away with epicurean genius. I go to Taste to be comforted. I go to Taste to get a solid, reliable meal. And I go to Taste because it offers a "taste" of home.

Photographic evidence is to follow, but be forewarned, the best thing on the menu (aside from the righteous mac 'n cheese) is not pictured below. The best thing on the menu is the ability to relax with good company -- I highly recommend a Joanne with some Rory on the side.


Fried squid with a mayo-based dipping sauce? Hello, Lover!

The cumin-rubbed pork chop hates being in the limelight...
...but the cheese really does stand alone.

Chicken curry with quinoa: Take with a glass (or five) of water


Chicken paillard: Comfort food does a belly good (the butt? not so much...)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Diana Takes a Bite... of Dirt

Despite running competitive cross-country for eight years and often being mistaken for a basketball and/or volleyball player, I am not exactly a "sturdy" sort of gal. I am tall, but gangly; muscular, but lean like a skinless chicken breast; and in-shape, but devoid of any coordination required for most athletic endeavors.

In my post-collegiate life as a "delicate flower" with more skirts from Anthropologie than I have pairs of underwear, I tend to avoid physical activities that could potentially result in scrapes, unsightly bruises and broken bones. Every fashionista knows that short hemlines don't look nearly as adorable when juxtaposed with a pair of purple, blue and scabbed legs! So when my older brother told me that we, my other brother and my sister-in-law would be driving ATVs (All-terrain Vehicle) last weekend, my immediate reaction was to cash-in my plane ticket to Phoenix and go to a spa instead.

Ok, so that was actually my second reaction. My first was googling "ATVs" to figure out what the heck they were, and then proceeding to become increasingly horrified as I read in depth descriptions about the dangers involved in the extreme sport of riding and operating the off-road motorized vehicles. Girls who wear pink dresses do not do "extreme." Unless it is "extreme" mascara (which btw, is quite effective for plumping up thin lashes). Despite my strong inclination to tell my brother I would rather eat dirt than risk life, limb and the attractiveness of my skin on an ATV, I decided to be a "trooper" and at least pretend to be adventurous. I eat raw fish and things with squid ink -- I do take some risks!

With my brother's assurance that I would be "fine," I approached the whole ATV situation as though I was approaching the sales rack at the Nordstrom's 1/2 Yearly Sale -- I would conquer all (and defeat that scrawny bitch trying to get the last size-26 pair of Joe's jeans). At the time, I didn't realize that conquering all translated into three hours of traversing poorly marked trails that were rife with sizable rocks, precarious bushes and uneven surfaces just waiting to toss me from my pretty red ATV.

It was fun at first. My brother lead us down wide trails that beckoned my siblings and I to test the speed on our ATVs. I even made a few "zooming" noises as I accelerated over the sandy surfaces of the path. I felt powerful, in control, and in sync with my machine and inner (really really inner) nature girl. When we took a short break at the half-way point, I turned to my brother and asked, "So that's as bad as it gets, right?"

He nodded, but something in his eyes made my stomach lurch with anxiety. It was an odd moment in my stomach's life when the lurching was not the result of hunger.

As we started on the next part of our reckless journey, I began to panic. This part of the course did not beckon me to toy with my accelerator. It was full of hills, sharp turns, narrow pathways, rocks, and bushes - lots and lots of bushes. My ATV, previously a good friend that I inappropriately named "Leslie," suddenly seemed to turn against me. When she hit an uneven surface, she darted to the side, necessitating quick action to avoid a collision with a tree, cactus or other bruise-inducing item. Whereas before I had relished the strength I felt as the hot Arizona wind blew dust and dirt in my face, I was now feeling weak and incapable of controlling my vehicle. I was scared.

Every time I approached a rough section, I steeled myself for injury. I prayed more during that ninety minutes than I did during the entire Lenten season, pleading with God to get me back to the site without more than the sizable bruises and scrapes that my limbs had already accumulated through my several brushes with "nature." As I climbed up hills, and narrowly missed tree branches, it was almost inevitable that I would begin philosophizing about the experience. Just the day before, I had been worrying about Excel documents and grids, and whether certain rates and discounts made sense. These matters seemed inconsequential as I clinched the handlebars of my vehicle, convinced I would sustain one of the 136,700 injuries associated with ATVs (as reported in US hospitals in 2005). The contradiction begged the question -- why did I spend so much time focusing on things that didn't really matter?

When my brothers, sister-in-law and I finally made it back to the site, I was overcome with a sense of euphoria and adrenaline. I was also covered in dirt and the very unsightly bruises and scratches that my skirts feared. Oddly enough, it didn't bother me. Not even when the bruises stretched into saucer-sized splotches on both my knees. Not even when my brother insisted on photographing them. I was proud of the markings. They signified my accomplishments -- overcoming my somewhat irrational fears and "delicate flower" syndrome to do something that went totally against my character (and body type).

"My Markings"

While I've had many memorable foodie moments in the past year (including the pasta tasting menu at Osteria Mozza), the memory that will stick out the most for me is not the way the Orecchiette with Sausage and Swiss Chard serenaded my tongue or the Paparadelle Bolonegese caressed my stomach. My 2008 fondest "foodie" memory will be the taste of the dirt that flew in my mouth throughout the three hours of my personally harrowing ATVing experience. I don't think even Mario Batali could make dirt taste as palatable as it did when I finally turned off the ignition on my ATV.

My sister-in-law Amy and me, covered in dirt

Today, as I sit in my office, cognizant that I should be working on my corporate meeting notes instead of blogging about my weekend trip, I am also cognizant of my need for a little perspective in my everyday life. Course some might say I'm already off to a good start -- I just wrote an entire blog entry about ATVing and made it somehow relevant to the general theme of food.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Creperie by Jack N Jill: A Name is a Terrible Thing to Waste


I fancy myself a fairly intelligent speciman. I use words like "speciman," watch Anderson Cooper (He has really pretty eyes), and peruse the New York Times website on a daily basis. I even sometimes read the articles that aren't in the Style or Food sections.

Despite my best intentions to maintain an aura of superiority over everyone in my general breathing space, I sometimes, occasionally make irrational decisions. Like when I didn't buy that pink jacket at Anthropologie three years ago. Or when I convinced myself that I could make a left turn at a red light on Doheny and Olympic if I just went really really fast. Or when I ordered a salad at the new Los Angeles West 3rd Street eatery called the Creperie two Sundays ago.

Ever since I morphed into a full-fledged foodie, I have strictly abided to the general rules of restaurant propriety by ordering what an eatery is known for rather than what is merely a menu page filler for picky people who refuse to challenge their palate. Ordering a salad at a restaurant that specializes in crepes is akin to ordering the salmon at Mastro's Steakhouse, the chicken teriyaki at Katsu-ya, or a sugar-free chocolate at See's. It's just wrong.

Unfortunately, due to my inability to sleep my usual eight hours the night before, I was experiencing decreased mental activity and concentration, and had what some less intelligent folk who don't use their words refer to as a "brain fart." While the pecan citrus salad ($11.95) sounded like a gold mine with its grilled chicken, field greens, mandarin oranges, avocado, candied pecans, almonds, granny smith apple, blue cheese crumbles (I subbed feta), dried cranberries, golden raisins and citrus vinaigrette, two bites into my lunch I realized that I'd been served trail mix rather than the light salad I envisioned. It wasn't bad, and the ingredients were fresh, but if I wanted trail mix, I'd go to Trader Joe's and buy a bag!

Pecan Citrus Salad: Is it a salad or trail mix?

The warm, lemon-accented corn bread (pictured below) that came with the salad helped placate my regret some, but as I watched plate after plate of delicate crepes make their rounds about the somewhat noisy space, my tongue quivered with anger at my brain's synaptic misfire.
Fortunately, my mother did sleep the night before, and was prescient enough to order the Evangeline lunch crepe ($10.95) that oozed artichoke hearts, tomatoes, chicken breast, mozzarella, and basil cream sauce, and came with a garden salad that was an actual salad. Since my mother went through that whole childbirth thing with me and shares my generally superior DNA, she was more than happy to do splitters with me. As I bribed her with candied pecans, mandarin oranges and an excess of dried cranberries in exchange for bites of her decadently delectable crepe, I was hit with blow after blow of my inferior ordering decision.

Evangeline Crepe

Aside from my ordering transgression and momentary failure as a foodie/intelligent speciman, I was genuinely pleased with my Creperie experience -- and not just because my mother and I received a table immediately and didn't have to resort to playing "I Spy" to get through the exorbitant amount of time it takes to be seated at most W. Third St. lunch/brunch spots. Can I really blame a restaurant for not putting a menu addendum warning illogical patrons that specialties are specialties for a reason and the Creperie is not called "the Creperie" because it serves good salads? No. I can admit when I'm in the wrong. But only because I'm in the right the other 99.9% of the time.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Unacceptable things to eat before 11 am in the morning

1. Sushi
2. Popcorn

Sushi is fairly self-explanatory without having to clarify much further. There's something a bit fishy (har har har) about ingesting raw slimy things before the clock striketh noon. The mere thought of letting a piece of yellow-tail carpaccio slide down my throat first thing in the morning is enough to make my stomach flip and tumble like a beady-eyed, angry Russian gymnast.

As fas as popcorn is concerned, while I am not particularly opposed to the principle of ingesting corn/grain-like products for a morning meal, the pungency of that processed buttery smell is offensively repulsive at such an early hour. I can sort of see the logic in making plain popcorn in one of those fancy schmancy popcorn popping machines that only people like Martha Stewart own -- it even seems like it might be a semi-fiberlicious way to break the morning bread! But I draw the line when semi-fiberlicious equates to microwave butter popcorn. Especially when said popcorn is made in the office kitchen at my place of business -- the kitchen that is approximately twenty yards from my nostrils.

While I habitually turn up my nose at the stench of the Lean Cuisines my officemates heat up for lunch, I am not viscerally offended by the scent of cheese ravioli, or one of those funky bean burritos that kind of resemble something a dog might find palatable. If they want to fulfill their sodium (and grossness) quotas for the day in one fell-swoop, it's their arteries/heart's problem -- not mine. I actually sort of enjoy watching them contaminate their bodies while I happily nosh on my nutritious and delicious homemade turkey and hummus sandwiches with raw veggies on the side. (I like to feel superior.)

The problem with microwave popcorn is not so much that it is nutritional hogwash (though it is), but rather that the popcorn consumer is imposing his/her hogwash upon all the other people on the office floor when he/she plops that bag down in the microwave. It is fairly acceptable (though not desirable) in the afternoon hours, but at 10:23 am? I call "office foul!" If I were a client still deciding whether to hire a company, and I walked into a blast of popcorn stench before 11 am, I would immediately say, "Wham, bam, no thank you, ma'am!" But that's not really the point.

The point is: Someone on my floor just made popcorn, it smells and I'm grouchy. Did you get the memo?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chicken Risotto for One?

Chicken Risotto, hold the date

I am slightly concerned that my future husband may grow to hate me if he impregnates me. Even without a little foodie fetus selfishly feasting upon my nutrients, I already suffer from intense cravings for things like Mashti Malone's peanut butter cup ice cream, Joan's on Third's tuna salad and unmentionable yogurt substances that may or may not undermine my authority as a food snob. Fortunately for my stomach (and unfortunately for my wallet), most of the time my cravings are of the upscale, respectable variety -- like this past Saturday when I got a bestial urge to consume chicken risotto.

Armed with cupboards and a fridge that were already fully-stocked with most of the ingredients I needed for my risotto, there was only one key item to acquire before commencing upon my journey toward self-interested digestory satisfaction: Asiago cheese. I immediately hi-tailed it to Froma Specialty Foods on Melrose and Hayworth, and begged the kindly gentleman behind the counter for a hunk of some of the good stuff.

"What's it for?" He asked, sizing me up like he was sizing up an imported salami.

"Chicken risotto -- I don't need a ton... just a little chunk will do." I responded, eager to get home to unleash my inner Giada.

"How many people are you cooking for?" He asked.

"Errr... just one..." I said, and turned away sheepishly, feigning interest in a jar of truffle salt hovering on one of the shelves nearby.

"I'm impressed. Most people wouldn't bother making risotto for themselves."

No, they wouldn't. But most people don't know that making risotto is surprisingly easy, and making it for one prevents it from becoming an unsightly gooepy mess. Plus there's no need to share.

Ingredients:
1 4-5 oz. chicken breast, cubed
2 tablespoons Asiago cheese, grated
1 small vine ripened tomato, cubed
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of diced white onion (can use less depending on personal preference)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup Arborio rice
Olive Oil
Black pepper and/or lemon pepper




Step 1: Saute chicken with dash of olive oil and half the minced garlic in a small pan (preferrably one with a cover). Season chicken with pepper. When chicken is cooked through, remove from pan and set aside.


Step 2: Saute onion and rest of garlic until translucent. I use water because I'm partial to my skinny thighs and would rather use my fat calories on cheese, but a dash or two of olive oil is fine as well.


Step 4: Add 1/4 cup arborio rice and cook on medium-low until the rice grains look slightly white in the center, and translucent around the edges. Note: There is no need to rinse the rice before cooking.

While the rice, onion and garlic are making friends in the pan, combine the wine and chicken broth in a pot, and heat until just under boiling.


Step 5: Once the rice meets your visual standards, add some of the wine/chicken broth mixture to the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer. Add some more pepper and/or lemon pepper to kick things up a few notches, and if you want to go crazy with some red pepper flakes, go right ahead -- no one's watching! Most recipes instruct that the pan remain uncovered for the remaining steps, but I like to make my own rules, and opt to cover mine for part of the cooking time.

Step 6: Continue adding chicken broth/wine to the pan as the rice absorbs the liquid. Part-way through the process, I let the chicken join the pan party so that the flavers can have some time to jive.

Step 7: Once the rice starts looking a bit gummilicious, and all the wine/broth has been absorbed, uncover that sucker, and toss in those juicy tomatoes.

Step 8: Just before serving, add the piece de resistance: the Asiago cheese, and heat that pan up nice and good so it bubbles with glorious flaver. Go ahead, take a little sniff -- you deserve it, you ambitious cook, you!

Step 9: Grab a fork, a glass of white wine, and let yourself get down and dirty with the chicken risotto for one. You'll be glad there's no one around trying to siphon bites off your plate...


Monday, April 7, 2008

Joan's on Third on a Budget

My snack drawer at work stocks imported chocolates instead of Hershey's bars, stinky cheese makes my heart swoon with lust and desire, and if my wine doesn't have legs, I want nothing to do with it.

My name is Diana H. and I am a foodie.

Unfortunately, while my palate craves the best, my debit card (her name is Debbie and I hate her) has recently staged a protest. She's a boring little Mastercard -- never wants my taste buds to have any excess fun or truffle butter. I would cut her up if I could, but I think that's what she wants, and I'm not really the violent sort. Unless I'm really hungry. Or provoked.

Foodies like moi are not programmed to budget. Ever since I graduated to solids, my Newpie parents socialized me to splurge on the contents that grace my flat stomach. I don't do cheap. I splurge! I savor! I stalk the gourmet food markets like I did my crush during sophomore year of college! Or at least I did until I got stuck paying full rent on my 2-bedroom West Hollywood-adjacent apartment for two months. Faced with the reality of paychecks that stay in my bank account for approximately the amount of time it takes me to write my landlord the monthly rent check, I, Diana H., foodie extraordinaire from the OC, have been forced to... gulp (don't worry, that was just tap water) ... budget.

While a foodie on a budget seems like an oxymoron, I've discovered a little trick that marries the two contradictory entities together like organic peanut butter and imported jelly. It's a little thing that smarties like me call "improvisation." No, that does not mean I'm buying the generic Ralph's brand instead of the label (oh the horror!). And no, I am not pulling a Winona -- I'm a good Christian girl -- I don't steal!

Rather than making Debbie take hit after hit of expensive meals out, in these desperate times, I've begun turning to the stove. My stove. You know, the one with the gas grills and the bright yellow teapot? Yep, that's the one! And so far it's been good. Grand even! I know my way around a chicken marsala. I can "Bam!" like the best of them! Except when I get a craving for a tuna salad sandwich from my favorite local purveyor of lunch time fare: Joan's on Third. Then things start to go a little dark.

Joan's and Debbie aren't the best of friends. Some might call them frenemies. I call them evil (Debbie) and good (Joan's). Fortunately, I have come up with a way to defeat the evil for the sake of the good: I buy the tuna salad innards sans sandwich ($2.38 for a 1/4 pound - see below), and use my own bread, lettuce and accompaniments from home!



Knock knock.

Who's there?

Genius.

Genius, who?

I'll give you a little hint... it's ME.

And the best part? I don't have to wait for a table. Or that rehab-worthy A-lister to place her order for a chinese chicken salad, hold the everything. (I never liked her anyway.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Yogurt Parfait: How to Get Away With Eating Dessert for Breakfast

Despite my inclination to keep my body lithe, the thought of waking up to egg white veggie scrambles every morning makes my skin curdle like a carton of skim milk left out on the counter too long. There's nothing that makes me crankier than carbohydrate deficiency, but unfortunately many breakfast options on that level of the food pyramid tend toward sugar overload, mid-morning insulin level crashes, and some serious belly bulge. Thanks, but no thanks, Mister Krispy Kreme -- if I wanted dessert for breakfast, I'd eat a cookie.

In a world of over-sized muffins (aka cake in disguise), cereals that contain the same amount of sugar as candy bars, and pancakes and French toast that necessitate a cup of maple syrup to be palatable, what is a carboholic-lovin', body conscious Los Angelite to do?

Eat oatmeal. And when that becomes tiresome to the tongue and too hot to handle during the summer months, make parfait. Yogurt parfait.

Now I know what you are thinking. Errrr, ok, maybe I don't know exactly what you are thinking, but I am going to tell you what you should be thinking. "But Diana, yogurt parfait is like eating dessert for breakfast!" Yes, I understand -- I'm not completely thick in the head like my hair color seems to indicate. I am fully aware that the yogurt parfait does have the potential to become a diet deathtrap. Most parfaits served at restaurants around town get their crunch from fatty granolas like the La Brea Bakery Nut & Honey granola that has approximately 250 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 15 grams of sugar per 1/3 cup. Paired with a thick and creamy yogurt with its own added sugar (Yoplait's original has 180 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 27 grams of sugar), this "light" breakfast can become enough to send a diabetic's insulin levels into overdrive. Not exactly the wake-up call I'm looking for. Unless of course I want to be hungry, cranky, and ready for a nap under my desk two hours later.

That's why I say "No!" to traditional yogurt parfaits. I don't trust those pesky little chefs with their liberal use of... well, everything that those Skinny Bitches in that book I didn't read tell me I should avoid if I want to be... well, a Skinny Bitch. Fortunately, I have a few tricks up my Splendid tee's sleeves that allow me to have my yogurt parfait and eat it too. Pssst grab a pen...

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Kashi GoLean Crunch Honey Almond Flax Cereal
1 container nonfat Cascade yogurt
1 banana, refrigerated
Dried cranberries (optional)


Measure out 1/2 cup of Go Lean Crunch cereal and pat yourself on the back for getting your granola on with only 100 calories, 6 grams of sugar, 2.5 grams of fat. Bonus points for scoring some serious nutritional goodness with the Crunch's 4.5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Just think how well your colon would be working if you went for a full cup!

Add 1 container of Cascade nonfat yogurt (any flaver) that has approximately 110 calories, 16 grams of sugar (sweetened with fruit juice), and 7 grams of protein. A single carton boasts EIGHT live active cultures that make those Pinkberry yogurt posers cry out in fits of jealous rage.

Chop up one refrigerated banana to add to the yogurt/cereal mixture. Or if you fear bananas because you think the glycemic index is too high, berries work well too.

Stir that sucker together, top it off with some dried cranberries if you are feeling like you haven't invited enough carbs to the party in your cereal bowl, and pair it with a cup of your favorite morning brew. I prefer green tea, but understand if you feel compelled to shock your body with exorbitant amounts of caffeine.