Meet Kira!

Whoa, it's been a while... Almost a year! I'm still here, and very busy with our new addition! Kira Idele was born at 1:52 am on November 18, 2015, and we're absolutely in love with her! Its been such fun watching her grow and develop her own little personality.  After this, I don't think I'll be posting here anymore, but I'll keep this place to store my recipes. Thanks for all your support over the years!
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Oh Baby! 

Things have been cooking in the imadedinner house... But definitely not in the kitchen!!    Baby Rosenbloom is due in November 2015!!!! 
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Starbucks Blogger Program: Welcome Kit

Oh hey there!

Yeah, I still have this little spot on the internet for my food musings, and there’s nothing like a bunch of Starbucks Coffee to bring me out of hiding!

Throughout my whole weight-loss journey, the only thing that really stayed constant was coffee. My first question to my dietician was “Can I still have coffee?” The first thing I perfected when eating nothing but meal replacements was my morning “caramel mocha” shake. I think it stems from the fact that a) my whole family loves and drinks coffee and b) I worked for Starbucks for over 5 years in high school and college!

I was lucky enough to be selected for the Starbucks Blogger Program, and a couple of weeks ago, they sent me my “welcome kit”. It was like the first night of Hanukkah all over again!

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I received a gorgeous box full of new-to-me Starbucks products, and a couple of classics. Clockwise from the top left:

  • Ceramic pour-over set-up
  • 12 oz. Caffé Verona beans
  • 12 oz. Veranda Blend beans
  • 12 oz. House Blend beans
  • Starbucks Coffee passport, full of information and space for notes on each coffee (you’ll see more of this in a minute)
  • unbleached coffee filters for the pour-over system
  • 16 oz. mug from the Starbucks Dot collection
  • 2015 Starbucks calendar (in the background)

I immediately started using the Verona beans in my espresso machine for my morning Americano. Caffé Verona is a dark roast, and it’s got almost chocolate notes which make for a truly delightful Americano.

The House Blend beans went to work, and are used on the daily in the automatic coffee machine. There’s a reason this is one of Starbucks’ most popular blends: it’s really perfect! The roast is dark, but not too dark, and not at all bitter.

The Veranda Blend was new to me though. In my years of working at Starbucks, I learned how to properly taste coffee (including a slurp and spit method that is super attractive), and most importantly how to brew a great cup of coffee. Coffee pod users: you’re exempt. But, if you’re someone who brews a pot of coffee, a French press of coffee, or use a delightful pour-over system, pay attention!

To make a truly great cup of coffee:

  1. Use filtered water. Yes. This matters.
  2. Grind your beans for the appropriate filter. French press is the coarsest and espresso is the finest. The longer the beans are in contact with the water, the coarser your grind should be.
  3. Use 2 Tbsp. of coffee grounds for every 6 ounces of water. Yes, that’s a lot. Yes, it matters.
  4. Don’t use boiling water, but use water that’s near-boiling.

I tried the Veranda Blend beans in my new pour-over set-up, and rather than using my green mug, I used my new mirror-finish travel mug (it’s splash-proof and I’m clumsy.)

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I measured FOUR tablespoons of coffee, appropriately ground for a cone-shaped filter in the unbleached filter placed in the pour-over set-up.

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Looks nice, huh? It’s also a LOT of coffee grounds. It’s worth it, trust me!

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Then, I slowly poured 10 ounces of near-boiling filtered water over the grounds, making sure that all the grounds were covered by the water. Then the wait. ALL the water had to go through the grounds, so I had to wait a whole 90 seconds. Time for artsy coffee photos!

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OOOOOHHHH Steam swirls! (I’m still totally a nerd. I know you missed me!) The steaming grounds smelled a bit like toasting almonds, a little like chocolate, and a lot like perfect coffee.

Finally, my first cup of coffee of the day.

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I did the slurp method, but I wasn’t about to spit out this coffee. It’s slightly floral, slightly nutty, and nat at all bitter. It has a very bright coffee flavor without being overwhelming.

I decided to use my adorable coffee passport to make a couple of notes:

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I gave myself the Veranda Blend stamp (put a bird on it!) and made a few notes so I’d remember that I liked this blend the next time I need to buy beans.

Thank you Starbucks, for including me in the first-ever Blogger Program! I’m looking forward to seeing what else you have in store!

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I’m A Recovering Food Blogger

**This post is cross-posted on my weight-loss blog, FoodieReset**

Hi, my name is Mara, and I’m a recovering food blogger.


This post has been a long time coming, and years in the making.

Over five years ago, I started my food blog, What’s for Dinner? with the hopes of chronicling losing “those last 20 pounds” after a successful stint in Weight Watchers. Friends were always asking me for recipes so I figured “what the hell?” and started writing them down.

The recipes gave way to pictures of the food.

Which then gave way to bringing a camera to every meal out…

…which then gave way to a more expensive camera at every meal out.

I think months went by and I didn’t eat a hot meal because I had to get the photo “just so.” There were eye rolls when the camera came out. People started passing me their plates before they started eating so that I could get a picture. I’m apparently the only one who didn’t find it ridiculous.

Being a food blogger was a huge contributor to my weight gain.

When I say huge, I mean “in the top ten reasons I piled on over 80 pounds in a few short years”.

At first, I was sharing healthy recipes, measuring my portions, and if I remembered to photograph them, great.

Then things changed. I don’t know if it was the advent of Pinterest, the insane competition that started happening between the “bigger bloggers” and the “smaller bloggers” to get as much blog traffic as possible, or whether I used these things as an excuse to make deep-fried appetizers, cheesy pasta-filled main courses, and decadent (I now shudder at this word) desserts. I got a kick out of people loving my food. I also loved my food, way too much and way too often.

When I started my Optifast weight loss journey, I abruptly said goodbye to this way of life. I think in the whole 14 weeks of the intensive program, I took one photo of one shake one morning. ONCE. They just weren’t interesting.

See? Boring.
I used food blogging to fuel my food addiction, which I wholeheartedly accept and acknowledge as a real thing. The difference, as they say, is that one needs food to live, unlike other addictions which can be 100% cut out of a person’s life. I couldn’t just stop eating. I could, however, take away the parts which made it anything more than a necessity. I stopped cooking. Stopped planning. Stopped shopping. Food became fuel only.
I vowed to myself to only take photos of food for my own accountability. Thai spicy broth for dinner instead of Optifast? Photo. First sashimi dinner after 14 weeks of no real solid food? Photo. I would not, however, break out the good camera and set the plates out just so and make the photos look perfect. I used my phone and some Instagram filters and shared my food with my followers there, and watched my attitude about food continue to be that of fuel and not my primary source of success or pleasure.
I realized during our trip to Barcelona that there is a huge difference between photographing a meal for the memory of it, and photographing a meal “for the blog”. I have dozens of photos of food from that trip, and I also know there was plenty of food consumed that was not photographed. I also realized that the sheer act of feeling like I “had to" photograph a meal can be likened to putting an alcoholic in a bar, or a gambling addict in a casino. I found myself overeating, over-drinking, and under-thinking
One thing that absolutely has not changed is my appreciation for the beautiful. I take a huge amount of pleasure in eating a beautifully prepared meal, and even indulge in the occasional dessert (preferably made by my über-talented sister). Yes, I still take photos of meals occasionally, but only because I feel they are too beautiful to not be recorded, or too delicious not to share.

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Pan con tomate and mussels on the Mediterranean, saved for posterity in my iPhone

I told you my sister is talented!

While one of the most important things to come from this is my now 97.5 pound weight loss, I truly feel that THE most important thing for me is my change in attitude regarding food. Sure I eat to live. Sometimes, I live to cook. But I truly and honestly feel that I no longer live to eat… and that’s something that took me 33 years and some months to learn, and will take a lifetime to reinforce.


What does this mean for What’s for Dinner? I’ll still post here when I have new food discoveries, or a truly special meal to share. Gone are the days of the phenomenal photos with cute captions, but all the recipes of yore will stay here for you to enjoy! This is not goodbye…it’s see you soon!

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Eat Well Bingo

Master the Eatwell Plate with Eatwell Bingo

Many of us share a love-hate relationship with food, enjoying its wonderful flavors, yet completely aware of what too much intake can do to us. If the sheer number of specialized diets like the Paleo Diet tell us anything, it’s that more people are pushing to learn more about eating right, and about eating nothing but the most necessary food. Enjoyment is often pushed to the side in favor of nutrition, but the UK’s Food Standards Agency has sought to prove that you can still eat your regular food, as long as you eat in proper proportions.

Promoting the Eatwell Plate, an improvement on the now-defunct Food Pyramid, the UK’s FSA is coming up with some incredibly unique ways of getting their message across. According to the Eatwell Plate, you can have pretty much anything – yes, even sugary drinks like soda – so long as you proportion well. “Eating healthily is about eating the right amount of food for your energy needs. In England, most adults are either overweight or obese,” says the FSA. “This means many of us are eating more than we need, and should eat and drink fewer calories in order to lose weight.”

Because the Eatwell Plate applies to nearly everyone (except children under the age of 2), the FSA has wasted no time in trying to propagate it, even utilizing one of the most popular pastimes in the UK: bingo. The UK’s bingo industry is worth a whopping $557 million annually, prompting even British supermarket chain Iceland Foods to create Iceland Bingo in 2012. The FSA uses a game called Eatwell Bingo, which aims to encourage players to get the balance of their diets right.

All resources for playing Eatwell Bingo – call cards, bingo cards, and information sheets – can be found on their website. The aim of the game is to inform players so that they will be “able to recognise types and proportions of foods that strike a healthy balance, encouraging an interest in healthy food choices”. Playing the game is just like playing regular bingo, except instead of numbers, you draw food items, and then are treated to nutritional information about these items, hitting two birds with one stone.

If you’d like to download the Eatwell Bingo kit, click click here.

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