Archive for April, 2007

Shame on you Nokia, Part III

It’s not been a month after Nokia N95’s release and Nokia has already released a new firmware upgrade (at least they recognize the fact that they rushed the damn thing out of the door too early). Here’s an update on what’s fixed based on my upgrade’s experience, 45 minutes after upgrading:

1. I had no memory errors (yet)
2. I had no random resets (yet)
(although it’s early to speak about these problems yet)

What’s NOT fixed:
1. I had VoIP connected 25 minutes straight (better than the 10 minutes average of the previous firmware), BUT, just as I also opened the web browser to browse some (lite) sites, WiFi *again* got disconnected out of the blue, and so VoIP was thrown out of the picture too. SHAME on Nokia for not fixing Wifi still! It gets disconnected SO VERY EASILY from my easy-going Netgear router!
2. Still can’t connect to my Bluetooth headset even if it pairs just fine (that’s an OEM version of a headset, but same model was also ODM’ed by Motorola)
3. Hissing on the headphones when playing music with fewer organs where it becomes audible (e.g. a violin solo). Probably this is a hardware problem — which is a reason why Nokia’s *and* SonyEricsson’s *and* Samsung’s “multimedia phones” are JOKES compared to the Apple iPhone (which I can guarantee you, it won’t have hissing).

Here you are ladies and gentlemen, you get a new super-high-end $750 smartphone, only to get stumble into bugs and problems immediately. So far, this Nokia phone gives me more grief than Linux used to do so back in 1999.

New jelly in town

One of the products I use as a dessert in my low-calorie diet is Del Monte’s “Mandarin Oranges in Lite Orange Gel” (or peach). The pack has 4 cups, 128 gr each, for 60 calories each. Today I found a brand new product from Jell-O though, called “Jell-O Fruit Passions” (difficult to find as of yet, I got it at San Mateo’s Draeger’s), which has 60 or 70 calories (depending on the flavor, choose from 4 different flavors) for a full 170 grams. Their cups are huge! Very filling. Price wise Jell-O’s new line is 20% cheaper than Del Monte’s, but the thing is that Del Monte offers 4 small cups while Jell-O 2 bigger ones. Nevertheless, the Jell-O version will definitely replace the Del Monte ones in my diet (even if it requires refrigeration at all times and has smaller expiration date). Jell-O’s version lets me eat 25% more, for the same amount of calories.

Diet Recipe: Spaghetti Tricolori

As long as you don’t follow a very-low-carb diet, but instead a low-fat/low-calorie one, this filling vegetarian recipe is perfect for your carb cravings, at just 200 calories. It is adapted from one of Ronzoni’s recipe suggestions to fit a low-cal diet. Only requirement is that you should like peppers!

Ingredients (for 1)
* 45 gr of Ronzoni Healthy Harvest spaghetti (140 cals)
* 1 small red onion or shallot, finely chopped (3 cals)
* 1 clove of garlic, minced (2 cals)
* 50 gr of red, yellow and green bell peppers, cut into strips (15 cals)
* 25 gr of frozen peas (20 cals)
* 1/3 tablespoon of cornstarch (10 cals)
* 1/2 cup of fat-free vegetable (or chicken) broth (8 cals)
* 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh basil (2 cals)
* 0 calorie non-stick spray

Execution
1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain.
2. In the same pan you cooked the pasta, spray twice with the non-stick spray. Saute the onion for 30 seconds under high heat.
3. Add the garlic, peppers, peas and basil. Saute for about 1 minute. Add the broth and bring into boil.
4. Add the cornstarch and keep stirring. Boil and stir for a few more minutes, until the sauce is thickened and most of the juice has evaporated.
5. Add the drained pasta into the mix, stir a few times, and serve hot. Enjoy!


My filling Sunday lunch!

Dieting, chocolate

I am entering my third week into the diet this Monday. I’ve lost 7.5 lbs so far. On Tuesday we will start South Beach Phase-I with JBQ that will last 2 weeks (it is similar to Atkins’ Diet Phase-I, except that you don’t eat too fatty meats and you have freedom over more vegetables). Overall, South Beach is “Atkins version 2″, a more healthy approach at it.

However, yesterday I found Hostess, a brand new low-calorie chocolate mini-cake pack, that only has 100 calories in it, and despite a first visual impression of “cakes are bad for you”, they are actually more healthy than the SouthBeach-branded Kraft power bars! The Hostess-100 have way more calcium and fiber than the power bars, and they weigh 9 grams more (when you are on a diet, even 9 grams of more food matters)!

Problem was, when I ate one of these chocolate mini-cakes, I wanted more. I am obviously addicted to chocolate, because I am 2 weeks on a diet and haven’t craved for anything so far! And then, the chocolate hell came — just by tasting a bit of it in these mini-cakes. All this made me remember the Kinder chocolate and especially my favorite Greek chocolate, the classic version of Lacta. I found Lacta’s web site and it brought me back memories from when I was a kid. Sniff…

Bad chocolate! Bad!

Diet Recipe: Grilled Eggplant Fish Bake

This is a very healthy, filling recipe and it has between 180 and 200 calories — depending on the kind of white fish you will choose to use. I used Gorton’s fish fillets (100 cals per serving), which they can be found in 3 flavors: as white fish in Italian herb, or lemon & pepper sauce, and salmon in buttery sauce. I used the salmon with its buttery sauce, although you can save an extra 30 calories if you choose to use frozen cod instead (won’t taste as good though). This recipe is also South Beach Phase-I & II compliant.

Ingredients (for 1)
* 90-100 gr of any low-fat white fish or a Gorton’s fish fillet (100 cals)
* 3 slices of a big eggplant, cut 0.5″ each (about 50 grams, 15 cals)
* 3 thin slices of the big kinds of onions (15 cals)
* 1 big tomato sliced to 0.5″ slices (25 cals)
* 5 slices of zucchini (10 cals)
* 20 gr of fat free feta cheese crumbles (found at Trader Joe’s, 20 cals)
* 5 sprinkles of your favorite Spritzer’s salad dressing (optional, 5 cals)

Execution
1. Preheat oven at 400F (205C). Preheat a grill pan on “high”. When the grill pan is really hot, take the 3 eggplant slices and grill them. Turn over twice each side, grill for about 2-3 minutes overall.
2. In a personal-sized oven dish arrange the tomato, eggplant, zucchini and onion, one after the other, like a fallen domino.
3. If you are not using Gorton’s fish fillets sprinkle 5 times on top of your veggies and fish with your Spritzer’s salad dressing. If you are using Gorton’s fish fillets you don’t have to do that because their fillets come pre-marinated.
4. Add 1/4 cup of water in the oven dish and place it in the oven. 20 minutes into the baking, take a tablespoon and get some of the juice from the oven dish and sprinkle it over the veggies. Bake for another 10 minutes.
5. Get the fat-free feta cheese crumbles and sprinkle on top of the veggies. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the eggplant and zucchini are done. Serve hot.

Diet Recipe: The 200 calorie Pizza

Yes, a 200 calorie full pizza! When you usually find frozen diet pizzas with about 150-200 calories in them, usually these only include one slice, or very-very small-sized mini-pizzas! Here you are, an 8″ full pizza (or 6″ for deep-pan dough), cooked the very healthy way, at just 200 calories and with the real flavor of a pizza vegetariana. I just had this for lunch (the idea was in my mind for a while after finding this fat-free feta cheese at TraderJoe’s store) and it was delicious! I used whole wheat flour as it is healthier and it has fewer calories than white bleached flour. It is a bit tricky to do the dough without going over the calorie restriction of the flour, but with a bit of effort, it is doable. While the recipe looks complex, overall, it is just a 15 minute job.

Ingredients (for 1)
* 25 gr of Trader Joe’s fat-free feta cheese crumbles (25 cals)
* 45 gr whole grain or whole wheat flour (140 cals)
* 3 small slices of yellow bell pepper (3 cals)
* 3 small slices of green bell pepper (3 cals)
* 3 small slices of red bell pepper (3 cals)
* 1/10 of the big kind of onions (10 cals)
* 60gr diced canned tomatoes (12 cals)
* 1 big button mushroom (4 cals)
* salt, black pepper, oregano
* 0 calorie non-stick spray
* 1 teaspoon dried yeast

Execution
1. Set aside 1 tablespoon of flour (that’s about 5 grams). Get 1/4 cup of warm water and set aside. Take a bowl and put in it about 30 grams of the remaining flour and save the rest 10 grams. Add some salt and the yeast in the bowl.
2. Turn on the oven at 400F (205C) for about a minute just until it gets slightly warm. Turn off the oven.
3. Very carefully, add 1 tablespoon of the warm water in the middle of the flour in the bowl. With a fork try to create the dough, by adding small bits of water each time and the rest of the 10 grams of flour as needed. Be very careful to not add too much water, or you will have no alternative but to add more flour to make the dough rigid enough (and that would mean more calories). When the dough is rigid enough and it doesn’t stick to your hands anymore, work it out a bit with your hands. Replace it back to the bowl and put the bowl to the warm-ish oven. Leave the dough there to rise for 1 hour.
4. Dice the already-diced tomatoes in even smaller pieces. In a pan, add 1/5 cups of warm water and the tomatoes. Add oregano, salt and a bit of black pepper and bring it to high heat, until most of the water has evaporated. The sauce should not be too “watery” as this pizza’s sauce is mostly consisted by bits of tomatoes. Remove from the hot stove.
5. Cut the mushroom and onion, vertically, in thin slices. Take a small frying pan and spray twice with a non-stick oil spray, bring to high heat. Add the mushrooms, onions and peppers and saute the ingredients for 1-2 minutes until the veggies are starting to get softer, but not too much. Remove from the hot stove.
6. Remove the dough from the oven, place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat it at 400F (205C). In a clean surface sprinkle some of the flour that you had left aside in the tablespoon. Using your roller pin and flour from that tablespoon as needed, roll your pizza to a circular shape, about 6″ to 8″ in diameter.
7. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon flour on the top of your pizza peel. Transfer the pizza dough from the working surface to the peel. Use a spoon to spread the tomato chunks/sauce on the top of the pizza.
8. Use your hands to equally distribute the frying pan’s ingredients on top of the pizza. Sprinkle with the fat-free feta cheese on top of everything.
9. Carefully transfer your pizza on top of the hot pizza stone and bake it for about 9-10 minutes until the crust is done.
10. Remove from the oven, and use a pizza wheel to cut the pizza in 4 triangles. Enjoy warm!

A full pizza at just 200 calories

Tip: You can certainly add some fat free ham (thinly sliced) just before you sprinkle the cheese. TraderJoe sells big slices of fat-free ham for just 20 calories each! In fact, for this pizza size, half of that slice would be enough. That would make the overall calorie count 210 calories. Or, you can substitute it with the onion or the three kinds of peppers.

Diet Recipe: Baigan Bharta

A low-calorie adaptation for this traditional Indian dish. This is a big, very filling vegetarian dish, amazingly at just 150 calories! This recipe is also South Beach Phase-II compliant.

Ingredients (for 1)
* 1 small eggplant (about 200 grams, 50 cals)
* 60 grams of canned diced tomatoes (15 cals)
* 90 grams of frozen ‘peas & carrots’ (50 cals)
* 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (5 cals)
* 1/2 cup of fat free vegetable or chicken broth (10 cals)
* 1 tbspoon of light soy milk (3 cals, found at the Target SuperStore)
* 1 tspoon of fresh ginger root (5 cals)
* 1/3 of the big kind of onions (10 cals)
* 0 calorie non-stick spray
* 1 tspoon curry powder (2 cals)
* 1/2 tspoon ground cumin
* 1 tbspoon cilantro
* 1 clove of garlic

Execution
1. Preheat the oven at 400F (205C). Fork the eggplant a few times and then cover with aluminum foil. Place it in the oven to bake for 35-40 minutes until soft.
2. Seed and mince the jalapeno. Mince the cilantro, garlic and ginger root. Cut the onion in bite-sizes, about 1.5″x1.5″ each. Set all aside.
3. When the eggplant is done, remove it from the foil, and very carefully peel it away and discard the skin. Place the remaining eggplant in an open plastic dish and add the milk on top of it. Using a mash-potato tool, mash it away.
4. Spray twice in a pan with the non-stick spray, and place it under high heat. Add and saute the onions for a minute. Add the jalapeno, garlic, ginger, cilantro, peas & carrots and tomatoes. Stir a few times and then add the eggplant-mash in it.
5. Add the cumin, powder and broth. Stir well. Lower the heat to medium and let it cook for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated (stir a few times during that time). Serve hot.

Tip: Safeway sells a small can of diced tomatoes that has jalapenos in it. If you have access to Safeway, use that because it’s more convenient, cheaper, and the japapenos will be softer. It can be found in their tomato sauce aisle.

Regarding paparazzis

This is one thing that I don’t like on how complex our world and laws have become. So you have all these paparazzi stalking celebrities at each step they make, and when the celebrities try to fight back they get sued. This shows how crazy our society and laws are, how fighting for your own freedom can get you to trouble. Yes, there is a law that says that if you are outside your home, anyone can take your picture. But it’s a different thing taking a random picture of a buzzy street in London, and another stalking a person and taking 100 pictures of him/her alone.

Paparazzi are stalkers, end of story. And as they have the freedom of snapping 1-2 pictures of you, they should not be allowed to literally follow you wherever you go like leeches. Their freedom should end where the other guy’s freedom starts. There are laws to protect paparazzi from assaults, but where are the laws to protect the celebrities from them?

Diet Recipe: Sweet’n’Sour chicken

Most original Chinese recipes come with a prohibiting amount of calories. And so you constantly need to improvise in the way you cook or the ingredients you use. This is my adaptation of sweet-n-sour chicken — the diet way. What I like from this recipe is that if you look close to the ingredients, it’s a multi-national dish: peach with chicken as served in Morocco, pineapple/mango with chicken as it’s used in the tropical islands, asparagus as it’s used in Europe, salsa as it’s used in Mexico. And if you put all these elements together, you end up with the well-known Chinese flavor! The taste to the original recipe sweet-n-sour chicken is remarkably close. And at only 200 calories per serving, while this full plate will fill up your stomach! It’s very South Beach Phase-II compliant too, much more than the original recipe which requires the very-sugary traditional sauce and rice.

Ingredients (for 1)
* 90 gr fat-free chicken breast, cut in cubes (100 cals)
* 1 red bell pepper (20 cals)
* 1/4 of the big kind of onions (10 cals)
* 4 tbspoons of Archer Farm’s “Mango & Peach” or “Pineapple & Peach” salsa (found at Target stores, 20 cals)
* 4 asparagus (~50 cals)

Execution
1. Boil the chicken and asparagus in some boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain, and place the asparagus to your plate.
2. Cut the onion and bell pepper into a bite size, about 2×2 inch each.
3. In the pan that has the chicken in it, add the pepper, onion and salsa. Add 1/4 cup of water.
4. Cook for a few minutes under medium heat until most of the water has evaporated. Serve hot, do not add salt and pepper.

Tip: If you don’t have access to Archer Farm’s salsas, you can always make them yourself by cutting down and using just a bit of peach, mango or pineapple and a small tomato.

New monitor

I got a new widescreen monitor today, review at OSNews soon. It’s a 22″ Viewsonic LCD with resolution at 1680×1050. Feels big. And videos look fantastic.

My dual monitor setup