Five Things I Buy at the 99 Cent Store

June 19, 2012

You can’t count on the 99 Cent Store to actually have anything that’s on your shopping list. Merchandise changes as frequently as I change my underwear (once a week) (kidding). That said, in the past few weeks, I’ve been going specifically to the 99 Cent Store looking for a few items, and, for the most part, I’ve been lucky because they’ve had them in stock. I’m aware that my luck with change any day now (probably as soon as I publish this blog), but that’s a risk that’s worth taking, just because nothing at the 99 Cent Store costs more than a buck.

Here’s my list of healthy items that I’ve been buying at the 99 Cent Store:

1) V8. I love vegetable juice!

Read the rest of this entry »

What’s in the RediSetGo? Part Five

October 31, 2010

There’s been a two-week delay, but absence makes the heart grow fonder.  So let’s all roll up our pant legs and wade knee-deep in the newest installment of everyone’s favorite internet game, What’s in the RediSetGo? Click here for rules and archives, or just keep reading – I promise you’ll pick up how to play in a snap.  Are you ready to play?

What’s in the RediSetGo?

SWEET POTATO FRIES are in the RediSetGo!

I didn’t actually fry them, so I suppose they’re not sweet potato fries as much as they’re just sweet potato sticks, but that’s enough nitpicking.  I got a sweet potato at the farmers’ market weeks ago, and finally got around to using it.  It wasn’t very big, especially after I peeled it:

Perfect for one serving.  A little Pam went in the RediSetGo, and then the sticks, and about 15 minutes later, they were crispy and cooked through.  I hit them with some Mrs. Dash as soon as they were done, got a little Dijon mustard for dipping, then cut up some raw broccoli, carrots, and 2 radishes.  Voila!  My lunch:

In other news, I had a good workout at the gym today:  about 25 minutes of weightlifting, and then 48 minutes of cardio: 5 on a treadmill until an elliptical opened up, and then the rest on the elliptical.  My headphones were on the fritz, which was annoying.  A few days ago, the left side died, and today, the right side started crackling.  Not good.  I need my headphones during my workouts!

On the way home, I made a split decision to buy new headphones.  A few years ago I saw headphones for sale at the 99 Cent Store, so I stopped there to see if they still stocked them.  They did!  Success!  I also picked up a slightly dented can of garbanzo beans for 60 cents and a bag of lettuce for salads (click here for my prior adventures in 99 Cent Store produce).  Here’s my $2.70 haul (including tax):

Why yes, observant readers, they are Uninex International brand headphones.  Jealous?

I also saw this in the check-out line at the 99 Cent Store:

I’m not sure which is the more disturbing thought:  That the 99 Cent Store places pregnancy tests in the checkout lanes alongside other impulse buys, or that this checkout lane was almost sold out of them.

The two people ahead of me in line bought nothing but candy, and the guy behind me in line bought candy and other Halloween decorations.  How much candy did I buy?  None!

Keep it up, David!

Various Monday Food Notes

October 4, 2010

A few disjointed thoughts – although all of them are about food.  Well, not the first one.  But all the rest.  (I couldn’t think of a snappy title… after reading, if you have a good title idea for future posts that feature a variety of topics, let me know in the comments section!)

1)  When I left work tonight, it was raining.  It made my evening.  Rain in Los Angeles is rare.  Any type of weather in Los Angeles makes for a nice change.  I hope it rains more, but I never pay attention to weather reports, so when it does, it’s always a nice surprise.

2) I’ve tried the pineapple guava that I bought at the farmer’s market on Saturday.  Here’s what they look like on the inside:

Once I quartered them and separated the flesh from the skin, there wasn’t much edible fruit that remained, but since I paid a quarter a piece for them, I’m not complaining about it.  I liked how they tasted – a little sour and tart, a nice crisp bite.  As for the flavor, well, the best I can describe it was that it tasted tropical to me.  Like a tropical Lifesaver or Starburst – but a little more sour.  Not the best description, huh?

3) I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 8 years.  So when was the first time I hung out in the Little Tokyo neighborhood downtown?  Yesterday.   Sad, but true.  My friend Jonathan, who’s visiting from New York, and I went to the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (which is housed in a really cool space that was converted from a former police car warehouse into a museum), and then we walked around Japanese Village Plaza, a shopping area full of gift shops and restaurants:

There was a Japanese grocery store, where I picked these up:

Fried Fish Balls!  In two different flavors – Age Ball and Minch Ball!  They caught my eye because they looked tasty, and seemed to be made of magical ingredients.  Each fish ball is only 25 calories, and the Minch Balls (on the left) have 1 gram of fat per ball, while the Age Balls (on the right) are fat free.  How do the Japanese fry something and keep it fat-free?   They really have thought of everything.  And only $1.99 per package!

I took 6 of the Age Balls as part of my lunch today, and they were fantastic.  You would never guess they’re fish – they’re highly processed, like imitation crab, but with no fishy smell.  These had a sweet glaze on them that was almost maple-syrup-like.  I’ll try the Minch Balls later this week – will keep you posted.

4) I had three oranges left from the bag of oranges I purchased during my 99 Cent Store Produce Challenge.  This morning, when I went to grab one from the fridge so I could juice it, I noticed that two of the three were moldy and puffy.  I threw all three out.  I bought them 1 week ago today.  I’d like to say I’ll never but produce again from the 99 Cent Store, but in all likelihood, I probably just won’t buy oranges.  For now.  The peaches, pears, and mini bell peppers that I bought during the challenge have all worked out just fine, and a 3 out of 4 success rate is pretty good in my book.

5) My new roommate, the brussel sprout stalk, is now wandering around my condo half naked.

The bottom half went into part of tomorrow’s lunch (or dinner, I haven’t decided yet).  I sauteed them in a little PAM, then browned chicken breast pieces in a marinade of nonfat italian dressing, garlic, and lots of various herbs (Oh, and if you read this post out loud to someone, please pronounce that word Mar-In-Odd, like Martha Stewart, and not Mare-In-Aid).  I threw in some heirloom cherry tomatoes with the chicken, and threw in some leftover couscous that I made on Sunday.  The end result, along with the rest of tomorrow’s lunch and dinner:

The chicken/brussel sprouts/tomato/couscous dish is top left.  At the bottom is a salad with mixed baby lettuces, yellow bell pepper, sunflower greens, scallion, onion sprouts, capers, sprouted wheatberries, sprouted fenugreek, sprouted sunflower seeds (I should probably discuss all these sprouted things in a future blog, huh?), and a couple teaspoons of light honey mustard dressing.  Everything in the salad, except the dressing and the capers, came from the farmer’s market.  There’s a pint of strawberries and a box of raisins, for a snack.

Keep it up, David!

What’s In the RediSetGo? Part Two

September 30, 2010

This game is sweeping America.  If this is your first time playing, you’ll catch on to the rules quickly, I assure you.  For the backstory on my RediSetGo, click here.

I fired up the RediSetGo last night to make my lunch for today, which I ate a few hours ago.  So… What’s in the RediSetGo?

ROASTED EGGPLANT is in the RediSetGo!

Even though I committed to eating more veggies when I started my diet in January, I didn’t really start buying eggplant until a few months ago, when I start making farmer’s markets a near-weekly pit stop during my weekly routine.  In July or August or so, I saw these amazingly purple baby eggplants at one of the stalls that were no bigger than a medium-sized potato.  A perfect amount of eggplant for one person.  Since then, I’ve bought a baby eggplant or two about twice a month, and, more often than not, throw it on the RediSetGo for quick and easy cooking.

Sometimes, I slice it into long thin planks, and after they’re done roasting, I put a little dab of cream cheese on one end, load it up with sprouts or sunflower greens, and roll it up into a little bite-sized pinwheel.  I did something different last night, though, as I didn’t have any sprouts or cream cheese.  I sliced the eggplant into rounds, and smeared 2 tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Satay Peanut Sauce over all of them.

Could have wiped away those tomato seeds before snapping the photo, David.

Anyway – the sauce is delicious.  This is my second jar, and I’m almost done with it.  And those two tablespoons only added about 60 calories and 4 grams of fat to the eggplant.  And the eggplant was delicious.

Eggplant was available when I went to the 99 Cent Store to purchase produce for my 99 Cent Store Produce Challenge, but I didn’t buy any, because they were selling two large eggplants per package, and that’s a lot of eggplant for me to consume before they turn.  Oh, and while I’m on the subject, I pulled out one of the 99 Cent Store oranges I purchased to juice it this morning, and… it was moldy.  White, hairy, and puffy – three words that are perfect to describe a poodle, but not an orange.  I’ll spare you the photo, because it’s gross, and I didn’t take one anyway.  Here’s the deal:  I know fruit turns, and it could have happened from produce purchased anywhere, so I shouldn’t hold the 99 Cent Store responsible.  And I immediately checked the other 5 oranges, and they all looked fine.  But I know this wouldn’t have happened had I had the convenience of picking my own produce, instead of picking a pre-sorted bag of produce.  I don’t know if one moldy orange is a deal-breaker or not, in terms of returning to the 99 Cent Store for produce…  we shall see.

My dinner tonight was a big ole salad, and I took a photo because I thought it looked particularly lovely and colorful:

That’s mixed greens, tomato, mini bell peppers (from the 99 Cent Store!) in three colors (yellow, orange, and red), garbanzo beans, roasted piquillo peppers, capers, and lime juice.   And soon, a 1 ox box of raisins as I heading off to Latin Jam class.

Keep it up, David!

99 Cent Store Produce Challenge!

September 28, 2010

Based partly on your comments to a post from a few days ago, I’ve decided to try buying produce from the new 99 Cent Store just down the street from my place.  There was a decent selection, and I ended up with a bag of 5 oranges, a bag of 6 peaches, a bag of 5 bosc pears, and a bag of mini sweet peppers:

I weighed it, and it ended up being close to 7 pounds of produce, for 4 bucks.   Very good deal!  Haven’t tried any of it yet, though, and not exactly sure what I’m going to do with it all.  I have a hunch all the pears and peaches will turn ripe at exactly the same moment – so maybe I’ll stash half of each in the fridge and slow their down their ripening.  Not too worried about the oranges – I can always just juice them if I want to.  And the peppers can go in one of the big salads I make about every other day.  Oh – I also liked that everything I bought, except for the peppers, was grown in the US (the peppers were Mexican).  I’ve been trying in the past few months to not buy produce from South America or New Zealand, especially since I live in California, which has a year-round growing climate and produces nearly half of entire country’s fruit, nut, and vegetable supply.

Will definitely keep you blog readers posted.

This morning I met up with a friend, Dave, for a hike.  We used to work together but I haven’t seen him in maybe three years or so.  We parked at the Griffith Park Observatory and took a trail neither of us had been on before, that winded up and around Griffith park, giving us views from the ocean to downtown and around to Glendale and Burbank.  It was a nice 90 minute or so excursion that had a pretty constant slight incline or decline, and it was really nice catching up with Dave.  I snapped a couple photos:

That’s the Observatory with the domed roof, and downtown LA in the back left.  For all you non-LA-readers, the yellowish-brown layer just above the horizon line is smog.  And this was on a reasonably clear day!

In the very back is the Pacific Ocean, with the skyscrapers in the back right being Century City, and the tall buildings just beyond the park being Hollywood.  And, of course, smog layer.

I love this photo because you very rarely see the Observatory with the city in the background, usually it’s the mountain that I’m standing on.  It’s nice to see a city landmark from a new perspective, no?  Looking at this photo makes me want to watch Rebel Without a Cause again (a lot of which was filmed at the Observatory).

Lastly, Dave took this photo of me and the Hollywood sign:

Does it look familiar?  It’s because I cropped it and made it black and white and stuck it up as the new header for my blog.  I’m not sure if I love it and will keep it forever, but it’s definitely more exciting than the default blue background that used to be up there.  What do you think, readers?  Do you like?

Breakfast today, pre-hike, was a nectarine and a pluot, and post-hike I had some cantaloupe, about 1/2 cup of great northern beans and some raw broccoli.

Keep it up, David!