Thursday, December 31, 2009

My New Year's Experiment

Since I'm spending this NYE on my own at home, after just getting home from my holiday travels last night, I wanted to make myself a fun dinner to celebrate. Well, the Giant had a terrible selection of steaks, so I headed over to the seafood counter. On an impulse, I decided to pick up 2 catfish fillets. I don't know if I've ever had catfish before, but I thought this would be a fun night to try.

So I consulted the Internets and found some pointers on how to cook it. I used this recipe for a low-fat oven-fry as my base, but since I didn't have any of the specific spice mixes mentioned here or recommended by friends I made my own blend based on Google's advice.

I used:
- about 1 cup of flour
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt


I had all these spices in my pantry, since Dad was always good at supplying me with any spice you might imagine. I really like making my own little blends and using some of those up, and the bonus was that as the fish was cooking in the oven, these spices smelled FANTASTIC.

Important tip: I skipped the no-stick spray step since I was using foil. Bad move. Definitely spray the pan/foil cuz the breading sticks.


The result? Pretty good! It's very messy, because of the sticking problem, and I think I would use less flour in the future to get a better balance in the breading. But the seasoning is tasty and the fish is substantial and yummy. I'm eating it with a side of a Green Giant lowfat broccoli and cheese thing, and it's a pretty darn successful dinner!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's the little things - Yoga mat

My exercise life just got a zillion times easier. On Sunday, when my sister and I were at Target, she chose a yoga mat for me. We were talking and I said it was a pain having hardwood floors because you couldn't do sit ups on them. She recommended a yoga and mat when we were at Target doing errands, she pointed out the one she uses. So this $10 invest has totally changed my workouts. I am back to my pre-move schedule of doing my sit ups and push ups at home and my cardio at the gym. It's made life SOOOO much easier because its shaved 20 minutes off of my gym workout. That's huge!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Great Thing About Cooking

Here's another great thing I've learned in the last year or so of cooking more... Cooking is social. Sure, I am cooking by myself in my apartment most of the time, but I'm finding there are many ways to build community around cooking.

This new hobby of mine is a great new topic of conversation and yet another way to bond with people. It was a perfect subject for me and Dad to bond over in those last few months, and I'll treasure that forever.

Friends are a wealth of information, with cooking tips, recipes, and lessons learned to share. I myself have handed out several of my favorite recipes to friends of mine in the last few weeks, and it feels great to be able to be a resource on something that's still fairly new to my life, too. Facebook and its instant community have been great for that, as now I'm trading recipes and ideas with people I've known in every stage of my life.

And, cooking can add to your social life. I'm taking 2 more new classes in the New Year, and having a shared interest is an immediate ice breaker in a room full of strangers gathered to learn together.

There's so much more to cooking than just tasty things on a plate... but that's nice too!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Easy and Elegant weeknight dinner

So B, our favorite restaurant serves these awesome California style pizzas. V, our favorite server always makes a recommendation to add arugula and a fried egg on top of their mushroom pizza and truly it's sheer heaven. Being diabetic, I can only have one slice, although I totally poach more than my share of yolky arugula.

Color be delighted when J found an Alsatian tart with bacon and caramelized onions at Trader Joes. For some magical happenstance, there's only 11 grams of carbs for 1/4 of a decent size tart (bigger than a personal pan pizza). That means I can eat the whole damn things and only ingest 44 grams of carbs. Now with bacon and cheese and onions the fat content is off the charts but that's why I run 18 miles a week.

As an experiment this weekend, I decided to top the tart with arugula and a fried egg. My twist was to toss the arugula in a meyer lemon vinaigrette. And OH MY GOD. Arugula salad and Alsatian tart is a better flavor combination of chocolate and peanut butter. The sharp pepperiness of the arugula and the tang of the vinaigrette are in perfect harmony with the salty sweetness of the tart. I've had this twice this week and could have it every night if I had my druthers. This is a total cheap eat because the tart is like $3.99 and the arugula is like $2.99.

And the Meyer lemons come from my tree.

crossposted at: bayareafoodblog.wordpress.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Squash

Another rainy pj's Sunday.... another good day to explore my new veggie options courtesy of my friends at Washington's Green Grocer.

Today, it was time for a new butternut squash adventure. My friend Jane Austen had sent me this awesome recipe for Butternut Squash Sage Orzo, and it looked so divine online I had to have it for myself.

This stuff is delicious! I agree with the blogger that it would make a great Thanksgiving side, or a side to any good turkey dinner, though it tastes just fine as a dish on its own. Try it!


Here's my diced squash. It came from a squash a little shorter and much squatter than the one remaining. I guessed it's about 4 cups or a little more... that bowl holds 4 cups of liquid. Close enough.

The squash making nice in the pan with onions and garlic. This is before I added the wine and the broth. Note, I used lowfat/low sodium chicken broth rather than veggie, cuz I have a ton of it. Worked great.

Mmmm sage.

Here it is! This is the whole bowl, that I spooned out into 3 large servings for lunches. It was delicious! Warm, comforting, with a little tang from the parmesan. I didn't use salt and I forgot to add pepper, but it was seasoned enough for me with the sage, parmesan, and onions/garlic/wine. So tasty.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Media Fail

New York Magazine has some major fat hatred. You see, I think it's a great idea for cities to offer free gym classes. If we want healthy choices to be accessible, this is a great way to do it. But New York magazine blows it big time by tying it to fatness. Healthy living isn't necessarily a war on fatness. Nowhere did Mayor Bloomberg say that this was to address obesity. After all, will you refuse someone with a "normal" or "below normal" BMI from attending one of those free classes? Across the board, people in the U.S. need to exercise more - fat or thin. Stop hating on fat people.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Giving Thanks for Running

The theme for this Thanksgiving should be the Olympian - stronger! higher! faster! because I ran my ass off that weekend. Along with eating a truckload of food.

Eating

On the eating side of things, I did a sorta stupid/sorta smart thing - I barely ate anything leading up to Thanksgiving dinner. You see, I would be having real food professionals over for Thanksgiving. We picked up a maple and rosemary-brined turkey from Cheffie Mark. We would be having a cheese plate selected by the cheesemonger at the wine bar where Bellisima works. And a trio of soup shooters. And that's before we even sit down for dinner. So leading up to the big meal (and I mean BIG meal), I ate a grand total of 30 grams of carbs. 15 grams from a roasted pepper frittata and 15 from an apple. I also had a salad during the day. While I am sure it was playing havoc with my body and my metabolism, I wanted to eat my Thanksgiving meal with abandon. And I did. It was spread out over the course of six hours and all of it was delicious. The great thing about this meal (where we had a summit to plan the menu!) was that we all floated in an out of the kitchen. Noone was slaving over anything because we all contributed.

So yes, we started with the cheese and pate (homemade!) platter with onion jam, fig and raison compete and a red currant gelee. That was followed by soup shooters of tomato soup with a quark dollop, beet and carrot soup with a coriander sour cream, and a cauliflower soup with a bagna cauda drizzle. And then everything settled in our stomachs and we were already full. But we plowed on to eat mashed potatoes, mashed acorn squash, the aforementioned turkey, green beans, homemade rolls, and a kale and sweet potato casserole. We sent everyone home with dessert bags because noone could touch the pumpkin tarts or the apple cobblers. We spent the post dinner part of Thanksgiving nibbling on J's homemade truffles and cheese and pears.

The great thing about this was the bounty of vegetable dishes and the fact that J made truffles with dark chocolate which are intrinsically low-carb (although high fat). by the next morning my glucose level was a surprisingly low 97.

Running


Thanksgiving weekend also entail a good amount of running. On Thanksgiving day, Muffin and June actually found out about a 5K that was within walking distance of our house. It was a great way to start the day. This was a totally informal race set up my a neighborhood gym. No big clock or starting gun. To keep my ankles and knees ok, I run on a gym treadmill. It was definitely different (and more exhausting run on cold, hard concrete. And definitely exhausting to run uphill for a quarter of the race. But all in all, I ran strong and had a good time.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I ran the Run Wild for a Child race in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. It was very interesting to run because I thought there were part where I was running pretty slowly. But in the end I ran the entire 6.2 miles in 51:41 minutes which is an 8:19 minute pace. This is well ahead of the 9:11 pace I ran for the Presidio 10K in March. Yay me! It's interesting to see how much I hate running up hills and how badly I am about gauging my pace.

I'm very Thankful I have this disease under control and am I very thankful I am in a position to get stronger, higher and faster. And, of course, thanks to all of you out there, especialyl stef, who's been an invaluable sounding board.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Biggest Loser - Health?

An interesting article from the NYT on the "dark side" of the show and some of their techniques:

Business / Media & Advertising
On ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Health Can Take Back Seat
By EDWARD WYATT
Published: November 25, 2009
Some contestants of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” say that dangerous weight-loss techniques are common.

Side note: Is anyone else a little skeezed out by the huge merchandise machine TBL has become?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Exercise Thing - I Need goals

So I've put my foot off the pedal when it comes to exercise. I haven't gone off the wagon but I have definitely cut back. Now I am running three times a week for at least 5 miles per workout with the occasional 7 mile run when I feel like it. Much less than the four items a week with the 7 mile run. And I definitely cut back on the strength training from at least twice a week to once a week if I'm lucky.

I think I need a bit of a rededication. So first of all, I am running a 10K the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The goal is to run it in a 9 1/2 minute/mile pace. The next goal is to do the Presido 10 but this time run the 10 miler as opposed to the 10k. If any of you are distance runners, how do you make the time to do an actual ten mile training run? That's over an hour and a half and if you're old and creaky like me, that is about 2 1/2 hours of working out when you include the stretching a cool down. And yes, next year I will do Bay to Breakers in costume. Any suggestions?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Media Literacy - Get Edumacated

Dealing with a chronic disease you get a lot of information throw at you. Most of it bad. With diabetes, I've certainly had to sift through a huge amount of misinformation. Or I should say misinformation about what works for me. For example, going to the American Diabetes Association message boards, you would think we were all confined to lives on the Atkins diet. That is effective for some people. Not good for me. I got plenty of bad misinformation from my primary care doctor who told me to reduce my morning blood sugar level, I should eat less carbs. As it turns out (and a piece of info I got from my dietician Aunt), my blood sugar level went down when I had a snack just before going to sleep.

It's particularly depressing when you try any journalism piece, whether written on televised, about health. They are, for the most part, utter crap. You see, the news media defines news and something that's new and different. That mostly means letting us know when things aren't working. It's not news when something that is designed to work actually does work. Let's look at sex. There's tons and tons of stories about teens going nuts on the oral sex and the sexting and the pregnancies. But the actual research shows that sex ed and contraception works and that teen pregnancy rates have gone down over the last 20 years. Check it http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_ATSRH.html. But hey, let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

In regards to reporting on health, it's suckers harder than a dyson vacuum. Seriously, a completely untested bra that purports to prevent breast cancer is news? As someone who is an avid media consumer (because I BLOG!), I got all happy inside to stumble on this site. They are a group of smarty mcsmartersons who review articles on health for accuracy and quality of reporting. I could spend all day on it if my work would let me. But reading through the reviews, you begin to get skills about what to look for in a health article. I'd highly recommend it.

For example, here's a list of seven words that shouldn't be used in medical news:

Years ago, the publisher of this site wrote an essay with the above title. The words were:
• Cure
• Miracle
• Breakthrough
• Promising
• Dramatic
• Hope
• Victim

BTW, they decided to stop reviewing television health stories because they blow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Special Delivery

I'm really happy with my Washington's Green Grocer deliveries. I just got my 2nd delivery of the "small organic box" of produce - for only $36.50, delivered to my door. It's so worth it! Tonight I got a head of red butter lettuce, spinach, 2 giant yams, Granny Smith apples, pears, bananas, red grapes, green beans, 2 carnival squash, and a whole golden pineapple.

So what does home delivery of organic produce mean?

It means that I'm learning a lot and trying new things. In the last 2 weeks, I've seen, peeled, roasted, and cooked my first parsnips. I made homemade apple sauce. I learned how to peel and dice a butternut squash. I have made and frozen THREE homemade soups.

My kitchen looks totally different than it did a year ago. I now have a big bowl of fresh fruit on the counter, next to squash and an actual pineapple. My fridge is filled with bright green, red, and yellow things. My freezer is filled with bags of veggies and containers of soups and sauces. And everything tastes GOOD.

Fun!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Torta in a jar

One of the great things about co-blogging is that you get inspiration from your co-blogger. I've been long making Stef's muffin tin fritattas because they are easy and good. This past Saturday, J and I went to our local Italian deli for one of their overstuffed sandwiches and saw their artichoke torta. Given that the lowfat fritatta is a consistent hit, could I make a torta version? The answer is hells yeah! On the plus side, it's ridiculously easy. Like cake from a mix easy. Here's how I did it:

1 16oz can of artichoke hearts
1 16 oz jar of roasted peppers
1 8 oz jar of sliced olives
8 beaten eggs (or the egg beater equivalent thereof)
1 cup of lowfat shredded cheese (really it can be anything but cheddar or feta work great)
1/2 cup of milk or milk substitute (I used almond milk and it turned out excellent)
1/4 cup of flour
Pepper to taste (no need for salt)

Stick the artichokes, peppers and olives in a mixing bowl and use kitchen shears or scissors you don't care about to chop them up into bite sized pieces. Dump in the remaining ingredients and mix well. We made it like a crustless quiche and baked it in a pie plate at 350 degrees for an hour. If you want to do it in mini muffin tins it would probably take about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Check it - This is what healthy living looks like


One of the great things about living in the bay areas is the plethora of outdoor activities that are within 15 minutes of our urban centers. In the East Bay we're lucky enough to have the Oakland a Berkeley hills and skyline drive that follows them. It was a gorgeous Sunday and I wanted to give Kaya some exercise. As it turned out we both got a lot of exercise along with breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay. It was nice to do a strenuous hike where our wonder dog could climb steep hills and jump over fallen logs. And she was an angel Sunday night.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kitchen Updates

I have been cooking a lot lately, blogging not so much... but here's some fun stuff for this weekend.

I signed up for home delivery of organic produce from Washington's Green Grocer. I'm very excited about this! Here's my first week's haul... romaine lettuce, apples, bananas, oranges, pears, yellow squash, russet potatoes, parsnips, green beans and butternut squash. I plan to have a good time experimenting with things... like trying a roasted parsnip and pear soup tomorrow, hopefully. Plus I plan to make my first beef stew, hooray!




This afternoon I tried another new recipe - Arroz Con Pollo.

This was originally for a crock pot, and used chicken pieces, but I made it with cubed chicken tenders and cooked it in a big soup pot on the stove instead.

1 lb chicken, cubed
1 can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (or no salt added)
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained (slice into strips if you want, but I left them whole)
1 cup chicken broth (low sodium, low fat preferably)
1 bag frozen peas
1 package Spanish-style yellow rice with seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder or garlic salt

First I browned the chicken in a little olive oil in the soup pot. I added about 1/2 onion, diced, as well, and 1 tsp black pepper.

Then add all ingredients, bring to a boil, and let simmer. Stir often. It took about an hour for the rice to cook and plump up and absorb most of the liquid. Tasty.

Here it is cooking:



And here it is dished up for lunches:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Plant Challenge

So this past week I tried to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. I learned a few things. First is that salad is your friend and a great way to get your veggies in. I have an enormous capacity to eat and when you pair that with eating a salad the size of a mixing bowl, then it's a recipe for healthy eating. I can make a salad that equals four servings of vegetables and plow through it easily. The hard thing is eating servings of vegetables that aren't salads. The hard thing is that I can live on salads all day long. The other salad related revelation is to find a good salad dressing. J and I bought this AMAZING strawberry-chipotle balsamic and a kickass fig syrup that makes the most divine salad dressing. Seriously, a salad with that stuff is like candy. Finally, I am learning I really hate cooking greens like kale. I don't know why I can totally love eating salad but hate eating kale but there it is.

Anyway, in terms of results, I consistently ate more than 5 servings a day but dear god, ten was an act of god. I hit ten servings twice, both on weekends when I had the time to go to the farmer's market. The hard part is the fruit because there are only so many carbs I can eat and I am reluctant to eat fruit that have carbs. But that is solely dependent on what fruit is available because a perfectly ripe apple is like candy.

Here's how it shook out:

Day 1 - 8 servings
Day 2 - 9 servings
Day 3 - 10 servings
Day 4 - 10 servings
Day 5 - 6 servings
Day 6 - 7 servings
Day 7 - 6 servings

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rocking the test results

Saturday, I got my blood drawn and my urine specimened to see what progress I've made dealing with diabetes. It was about 13 months since I was first diagnosed and five months since my last set of test results. In the intervening five months I went off all medication regulating my blood glucose so any result I had would be purely based on my diet and exercise. From the title of the post, you know how things turned out.

Here's the one year ago picture:

A1C level (measuring glucose) - 9.7 (standard is between 4.5 and 6.0)

ALBUMIN/CREATININE ratio (measuring how well my body able to retain protein in the bloodstream) - 122.5 (standard is below 29.9)

Overall cholestorol - 300 (standard is below 236)

HDL (the good cholesterol) - 40 (you should be above 40)

LDL (the bad cholestrol) - 137 (you should be less than 129)

Triglyceride (fat in your bloodstream) - 650 (should should be less than 199!)


So what are the numbers today?


A1C level (measuring glucose) - 5.1

ALBUMIN/CREATININE ratio (measuring how well my body able to retain protein in the bloodstream) - 14.5

Overall cholestorol - 151 (standard is below 236)

HDL (the good cholesterol) - 57 (you should be above 40)

LDL (the bad cholestrol) - 77 (you should be less than 129)

Triglyceride (fat in your bloodstream) - 83 (should should be less than 199!)


So there it is. I have to acknowledge that the Albumin/creatinine numbers and the cholesterol numbers are affected by the medication I'm taking but my doctor and nutritionist say those things don't mean bupkiss if I ain't living right. And the thing is, living right isn't a punishment. Last week I ate CHICKEN FRIED STEAK WITH BEER GRAVY! I made sure to forego the mashed potatoes and have a double order of roasted veggies but seriously folks - CHICKEN FRIED STEAK. What started out as one hellish month and a serious fear of Splenda has morphed into a lifestyle with a lot of Splenda desserts. Thanks y'all for giving me a space to think these things through. Let's keep on keeping on.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Challenge

I work at an organization that promotes healthy living and I get to interview someone on their project to get members of their community to eat 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. It's really fascinating because they are working with a low-literacy, limited English proficient, immigrant population. The learning is very experiential and visual. What I find to be a great success story was the person running the program felt like she had to actually eat 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day so she wasn't spewing hypocriticial bs. And after six months on the program she lost 30 pounds. She didn't do anything else. In fact she was telling me about how she's also be eating nachos and steak. But she was eating a heck of a lot less nachoes and steak because she had to get her 10 servings in. So here's my challenge - eating 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Here's a handy guide for those of you who are unfamiliar with serving sizes for fruits and vegetables.

In this challenge I have amended the rules:

1. Canned fruits and veggies don't count (although frozen does as long as it's not packed in syrup)

2. Beans and legumes don't count. They are the great superfood but they are like loaded with carbs. Great if you are a hunter who hunts and forages all day. Bad if you are diabetic.

3. Hell to the no with juice. It's not a fruit, it's sugar.

So here goes. I'll check in weekly about this but I am curious to see how realistic 10 servings is.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

This is how to keep people healthy


For those of you who live outside of California, I wanted to sing the praises of the above Kaiser Permanente ad. Considering we have a mixed race President with his white mother, Asian American sister, and African immigrant father, this ad acknowledges how every family can be a family of color (as well as a queer family). One of the important things about taking charge of your life is seeing yourself reflected in healthy living. This huge, multi-generational, interracial, queer family reflects the reality of so many of us. It says we need to stay healthy to see how large and diverse and INTERESTING our family can become. Bravo Kaiser Permanente!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pretty Bird

I roasted a chicken today for the first time ever. It felt like a rite of passage, like now I'm really a grown-up, cuz I've cooked a bird.

Here she is:



This was one of Dad's very typical dishes, and I asked Mom for the quick rundown of how he did it. He would always roast a chicken (or a pot roast, or a pork roast, etc.) in a little water and builloin with carrots and celery, hence the little veggie bath my bird is in. I used one of Giant's organic / antibiotic free, etc. fresh chickens. I stuffed in a few sprigs of rosemary fresh from my balcony and a bay leaf, and sprinkled some dried thyme around. I cooked it for an hour at 350 degrees.

The end result?

It probably could've used more cooking time, because some of the dark meat wasn't cooked through. The white meat in the breast was delicious, though, so that made me happy. :-)

The sad part of it? I have *terrible* knife skills, so my attempts at carving were pretty horrifying. At a few points I just switched to using my fingers -- all final vestiges of my former vegetarian self are now gone, with what I put that bird through... I still only ended up getting about 2/3 of the meat off.

I used the veggies as a side and then cooked up some white rice. Also using a Dad trick, I used the pan juice / drippings and mixed it with cornstarch to make a nice light gravy. *That* tasted like Dad used to make it.

So, I had one good meal out of this today and 2 more servings waiting in the fridge for later in the week. This was an interesting experiment... but until I get better with a knife I think I'll go back to buying my chicken in pieces.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Awesome low fat salad dressing recipe

Hey stef! Here's another use for your mini-prep food processor.

South of the border salad dressing

1/2 cup of salsa (I like Trader Joe's 3 pepper salsa)
1/2 cup of nonfat sour cream (or even nonfat yogurt)
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon lowfat mayo (you can use nonfat mayo but I think that stuff tastes vile)
Juice of 1 lime

Additional add ins: chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, finely chopped jalapeno, chili powder, cumin

Throw everything into a small food processor and whirl until smooth. A great dip for julienned bell peppers or sugar snap peas or cherry tomatoes. Make an awesome salad with chopped chicken or shrimp, shredded cheddar, and baked tortilla chips.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Diabetaversary

Whew, it's been a while since either Stef or I checked in. It's funny how the post-summer life starts getting in the way. For those of you who don't know that the Bay area does not follow the regular four seasons but ends up having something like 30 season throughout the year. Whereas most of you probably "enjoyed" a hot summer, the Bay area summer ends up being a chilly, foggy fall climate. Most visitors end up having to do a target run for long pants and hoodies. The funny part is that once September hits, the Bay area experiences the summer that the rest of the country put up with. You see, when the temperature in the rest of the state is summer, the heat gets trapped in the Central Valley and the weather stays firmly entrenched in the 60 degree range. Once it cools down in the rest of the state, our September ends up with temperatures in the 80s.

With that in mind, it was this time last year I found out I had diabetes. And shortly afterwards, I asked stef if she wanted to start a blog. In the past year, I've kicked diabetes ass and learned to love Splenda (like LOOOOVE Splenda). Here's a snapshot of my year living with diabetes.

September
After much crying and freaking out, I take the crappy Living with Diabetes class and learn how to monitor my blood glucose level and learn ways to control my diabetes. Stef and I start the blog.

October
I start hitting the gym on a regular basis and creating the food log. I realize I need to eat more regularly and space out my eating so that I have two snacks and three meals. My midnight snack becomes my savior.

November
I have a great time eating my first post-diagnosis Thanksgiving. Much turkey is eaten and people actually envy my splenda mocha panna cotta with sugar free chocolate mousse.

December
This is where diabetes just becomes a part of my life. The crazy ass blood sugar drops stop as my body adjusts and I meet with my super-awesome nutritionist. My first post-diagnosis blood result comes back and I kick some diabetes ass. I'm in normal range on all of my readings. I also travel like mad and learn how to have some semblance of normal eating and exercise while traveling (entailing many a 10:00 pm run).

January
I run my first race (a five miler) and do it in a sub-ten minute mile pace. I increase my running from two three-mile runs and a five mile run to two four mile runs and a six mile run. My test results come back and I am now beyond normal to crazy ass awesome in my readings.

February
Another praiseworthy month as I continue on the same path. I increase my running to two four mile runs and a seven mile run.

March
I run a 10K across the Golden Gate Bridge. The day is beautiful and I can't complain about running over a national monument.

April
I decrease my medication as my diet and exercise regime is doing a good job of controlling my blood sugar levels.

May
Bay to Breakers! Running on the steep hill for about a mile and still managing to run a sub-ten minute mile pace, in costume! Yay! My nutritionist tells me I can stop taking the diabetes medication.

June
I graduate from the diabetes program and my insurance doesn't think it's cost effective to spend one afternoon a month having a nutritionist praise me. J and I move and getting the the gym becomes harder. I still do it four times a week!

July
We get a dog and I have to add an extra hour of walking to my exercise regime. I also go into maintenance mode and cut back on the running and strength training. I get so good a Splenda desserts I poison J (who is allergic to artificial sweeteners)

August
I gain about four pounds but somehow go down another pants size. How is this possible?

September
New goals - 1) run a ten miler 2) Keep the food log and cut back on the fat 3) Pass a REAL health care reform bill.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Right Wing nutcases are not like you and I

Check it readers, they are excoriating Michelle Obama for supporting the establishment of a Farmer's Market on Vermont Ave. I've been a little over a year since I've moved but are there any Mom and Pop grocery stores selling fresh vegetables that this farmer's market would drive out of business in the neighborhood near the White House? Then the opponents should just zip it. I'll leave you with this hilarious quote:

"Real Americans like fast food and grease, and, if they ever find themselves eye-to-eye with a vegetable, they want it to be flash-frozen or at the very least plasti-wrapped. No one who was actually born in the United States could countenance such disregard for this country's traditions."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Soup's On

I tried a new recipe tonight - curried carrot soup. Yes, it's a Rachael Ray recipe. Yes, it's from a Halloween episode and she made it into a "spiderweb." But I overlooked all that because I'm looking for a good carrot soup recipe.

This is one of those recipes that's dependent upon you having the right, ahem, *equipment* in the kitchen. It requires a good blender, full-sized food processor, or immersion blender. Since I'm becoming a whiz with the blender that's older than me, I fired it up.

Overall, the soup came out really well. It did take more than 30 minutes, of course, since it took longer to bring it all to boil and then orchestrating the puree process in batches takes a while (and is messy) too.

I learned a good lesson - just because you like heat, doesn't mean you need to always lean towards the upper end of the spice measurements. Wow, this had some kick! Next time, I would use less cayenne.

I did not do the "spiderweb" goofball technique, and instead just stirred in some nonfat sour cream before serving. And I skipped the salt and used lowfat butter. But then I did eat the soup with some sea salt crackers... and had to follow it up with a big glass of milk because my mouth was just slightly on fire! :-)

Overall, though, it's a good recipe that's relatively easy to make and I'll just turn down the heat a bit next time. But I've got 2 more containers of this batch waiting for me in the freezer first!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I DID Spend 15 years in DC - Health Care Reform

Has anyone been noticing the subtle (not!) fat hatred going on in the debate about health care reform? Over and over again, by both the right and the left, we hear the same message - you fatties are costing us money! Over and over again we hear how obesity is costing the country trillions of dollars. Yes folks, you fat ass and my fat ass is more costly than the fricking Iraq War. And if only we did more to shrink our fat asses our health care system would be magically fixed. You know the irony of this thinking? It's LAZY. The very thing that society accuses us fatties of. This research doesn't dig deeper to see about co-morbidity factors like lack of exercise. It doesn't look beyond what's on the scale. Because it would actually take EFFORT to look at measures of health like A1C, cholesterol, and incidence of stroke and heart disease.

Real health care reform isn't about numbers on a scale. It's about access. Because when you have access, the other stuff comes together. I spent a study abroad year in England under their "socialist" National Health Service. Because I didn't have to pay a goddamned dime to see the doctor, I went to the doctor every month. I got my teeth cleaned twice during that year and got a pair of contact lenses AND glasses. My doctor spent at least a half an hour talking to me about my health. It was EASY to stay healthy.

For real health care reform to take root, stop telling people to do more. STOP IT. Especially to us fatties. Because are you READING THIS FUCKING BLOG? Or Onyah's blog? Or Laure P's blog? We are working our asses off. We are thinking about this stuff every day. We're cooking healthier. We're getting up early to exercise. Don't tell me or anyone else that we need to work harder.

You want to spend less money on health care? Make this stuff easy. Make cooking easier. Instead of subsidizing Monsanto, why not subsidize CSA programs? Why not allow poor folks to get a box of organic produce the same why Onyah does? Why not spend a couple of million dollars (compared to the $300 million Monsanto gets) to start Farmer's Markets in Anacostia and West Oakland? Why not subsidize programs that get corner stores to replace cigarettes with fresh produce? By the way, this proposal IS BUDGET NEUTRAL. You aren't spending a dime more if you divert a teeny weeny portion of industrial agriculture subsidies to community food access programs.

Make going to the doctor cheap and easy. That means making sure we are guaranteed health insurance and it won't go away because we lose our jobs or because our jobs can't pay for them because the insurance company decided to jack up the premiums. You know what that means? The public option. Let me buy into Medicare. And make sure the insurance covers COST SAVING THINGS like gym membership and nutritionists. The thing is, these things aren't just luxuries for the young and affluent - they can be the determining factor between inexpensive prevention ($100 for a nutritionist appointment) and costly medical procedures ($100,000 surgery).

I find it hilarious that fatties are somehow the scourge of the earth and responsible for the health care crisis. As if the insurance companies don't spend $7 billion a year DENYING coverage. As if those same companies aren't spending hundreds of millions of dollars LOBBYING AGAINST the public option. That's pretty damn wasteful to me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Further Cooking Adventures

I've been getting back into the groove in the kitchen, making easy meals that I can eat for several days as I return to the nutritionist-approved homemade lunch routine during the week.

This week, I tried a very easy low-fat chicken with artichokes recipe. This really was a cinch to make, with several pantry items, and it's very tasty. I've sent the recipe on to Mom and she's going to try it, too.



Here's the finished product, which I served with some Dreamfields low-carb elbow macaroni. It would also be good with rice or just a crusty bread. I used no salt tomatoes in my dish. For those of you who like more seasoning, you might want to add some salt during the cooking process. I'm getting so used to a lower-sodium diet that this was just fine for me, and it made 3 portions I've been enjoying for a few days.


Now, I noticed a few food pics in my folder that I haven't shared yet... so here are a few dishes from the last several weeks.

This is a tilapia dish that Scotte inspired, as I cook the fish with diced tomatoes. I took this pic cuz I loved the look of my own, homegrown fresh parsley in the mix. Alas, the parsley has since fallen victim to the bug invasion on my balcony and I won't have any more to use. :-(

Another tomato dish - which I threw together as a side dish to a steak one night. I halved and roasted a whole package of grape tomatoes (cherry would work too) with just a little olive oil, more fresh parsley, and lowfat feta cheese. Deeeeeeeelicious!


And, one of my successful homemade pizzas, which are a new favorite. Sauteed spinach, lowfat Italian cheese, tomato basil sauce, and a whole wheat pizza crust. SO easy and delicious!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Frank Bruni Interview in Salon - Thoughts?

So I'm reading the Frank Bruni interview in Salon. He gave this little piece of insight to his own challenges with eating.

I think people with eating issues can't imagine the constant temptation of being a restaurant critic. You work out a fair amount. But really, what was the trick in keeping off weight?

Being a restaurant critic helped me maintain weight and not gain weight, because I think my problem is the same as that of a lot of many people whose eating gets out of control in that I really kind of rode a sort of binge-purge roller coaster, and that roller coaster was facilitated by my ability to tell myself the lie that I was going to be really bad today and tomorrow and maybe even the next day because the next week I was going to do a cleanse or a fast. As a restaurant critic, I had to keep eating at a certain pace. By never being able to tell myself with any degree of convincing honesty that I was going to be great and do an ultra-ultra-extreme deprivation next week, I never allowed myself to binge the way I had in the past, because I couldn't tell myself with any convincing honesty or authority that sort of purge was coming up on the far end of it.


I think it does affirm a piece of what we try and say here - it's about the eating and deprivation isn't a great way to approach living healthy. It's a fascinating interview and really makes me want to go out and buy his book.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blurgh. Aaargh. Ugggh.

My rough summer is reflecting itself on my scale, just a great way to start a Monday morning. Aargh. I have gained back 8 pounds since my lowest point, and I can feel it. I can feel it in how my clothes fit and how I move, and it just makes me mad... I have gotten off track, for sure, but I haven't been *that* bad. It's amazing to see just how little slips make such a big difference... or, in reverse, I guess it's amazing to see just how much I had cut out of my diet and what a difference that made.

So, because I don't want to give up and because I know I need to get my rhythm back - and that of all people, Dad was the one rooting for me the most - I have to refocus. I even bought a new little notebook so I can start a fresh food journal and don't have to have the empty pages of the old one taunt me.

I learned so much from the nutritionist, I need to keep putting it to work and I need to find my own feelings of accountability to keep me going.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Everything's Better as a Smoothie

I love smoothies. Mom's always been a big smoothie person, and we spent many a summer night in ye olde 1980's enjoying the bounty of our garden and fruit trees in smoothie form. Yum.

As I've been on my own, I have experimented with smoothies a bit but in all those years without a dishwasher I didn't do much at home and instead paid exorbitant amounts of money for super-sugary, high calorie smoothies on the run.

But, inspired again by several of Mom's concoctions this summer, I am reminded of just how tasty and easy it is to enjoy your fruit in blended form.

Over the past few months, I have used my little 3-cup mini-chop to try to make some good yogurt-and-fruit snacks, but it's always proven to be super messy. So, a few days ago, I dug way deep into the closet and pulled out Mom's awesome (and dishwasher-safe) Osterizer Cyclorama, which dates back to those pre-Stef years of the early 1970's. This baby is awesome, complete with many, many buttons on the front that practically let you set it to stun.

I just fired it up for a really interesting concoction - one fresh purple plum, 1/2 pint fresh red raspberries, 1 little blueberry light Activia yogurt, and about a 1/2 cup of fat-free blueberry-cranberry sorbet. The result is a tangy, bright, fresh snack that I'm enjoying at this very moment.

I'm looking forward to experimenting more with ye olde Osterizer in the coming weeks. Anyone have any favorite combos to recommend?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stretches?

Anyone have any good stretches for your upper back? With all of the quilting I am doing as well as walking a 66 pound husky twice a day, my shoulders and upper back are getting tight. I'd love any advice on stretching that area of my back as I can't get a chair massage every week.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

In Praise of Cooking

Great Sunday magazine piece from Michael Pollan in the NYT. He offers a historical/cultural viewpoint on the decline of cooking and the rise of food tv, and what it means for our collective health. A great call to return to the kitchen...

The very last paragraph says it best:

“Easy. You want Americans to eat less? I have the diet for you. It’s short, and it’s simple. Here’s my diet plan: Cook it yourself. That’s it. Eat anything you want — just as long as you’re willing to cook it yourself.”

Magazine
Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch
By MICHAEL POLLAN
Published: August 2, 2009
How American cooking became a spectator sport, and what we lost along the way.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More to Love The Good, The Bad, and the Whackadoo

I do find it absolutely hilarious that reviewers of More to Love are saying it's not nearly as entertaining because she show treats the contestants as human beings as opposed to famewhores. So seriously, as my civic duty, I HAD to watch More To Love and I found it... engrosssing. There are cringe inducing similarities to The Bachelor like the cheesetastic declarations of wanting to find a soul mate and wanting to connect. But there is a great deal of heart to this show I find endearing. When the ladies are talking about how desperate they are to find someone you don't think to yourself "famewhore!" There's a lifetime of pain in the show that is rearing it's ugly head. So here's my list of the high and low lights of this show.

The Good
1. The fact that Luke's attraction to large women is portrayed as an attraction, not some weird fetish.
2. The fact that Luke isn't made out to be some kind of saint just because he likes large woman.
3. The woman who was all up with people about her weight and just said she was going to buy nice clothes and do awesome things at any weight.
4. There were only two instances of women putting each other down.
5. Noone else was stupid enough to jump into the pool after that girl in the black dress did.
6. Noone made catty remarks about anyone else's appearance (although there were catty remarks about attention whore behavior).
7. Luke made it really clear that he found them all attractive so whether they were "pretty" enough was off the table.
8. Luke likes to eat and hopes to find someone who also likes to eat as well.
9. Luke as a MAN of size admitting he's been burned for being fat.
10. The one remark about the girl in the pool was calling her an otter, not a whale.

The Bad
1. The girl who jumped into the pool.
2. That goth girl who wanted to be all wifey.
3. The endless parade of women who thought this reality show was their last chance at love (at age 25!)
4. The confident photographer who seemed to be pretty comfortable with her body got eliminated.
5. The rocket scientist got eliminated.
6. "What do you like to eat?" "Anything thick and juicy." EEEWWWWWWWW.
7. Every Bachelor style trope imaginable - two girls cuddling with the bachelor, girls gushing about how cute he is, constant talk about "possibly falling in love" and "making connections." You want a connection, get internet.
8. "I always do things when people tell me not to." "Well don't kiss me then."
9. Luke begging for kisses in the most awkward way possible.
10. The trash-tastic outfits those poor women had to wear. Has noone seen the Oprah episode on bras?????

Did anyone else watch it?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Help Needed!

So those of you involved in the President's Physical Fitness Challenge, I need some help. I just passed the 20,000 point mark (after two months and a 12k race) and I'd like to order my damn bronze medal but I can't figure out how to do it online. Can someone walk we through it? Every time I try and order it online, I get to the page with the t-shirts and lanyards. I don't want a damn lanyard, I want my MEDAL!

And yes, I fillay got enough points for some bling. Yay me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sexism and Weight

Has anyone seen a recent picture of Kevin Federline? Without making any value judgments (especially because his weight gain makes him MORE my type), it's a pretty dramatic change. How much have you seen about this in the tabloids? Any headlines about the fact he's gained weight or any admonitions to K.Fed about dieting? Not that I've seen. Of course his ex-wife gains MAYBE ten pounds and decides to give a sad-ass performance at the MTV awards and she's ripped twelve ways to Sunday for having curves. And pluh-ease American society. Britney was a mess at the MTV awards that year because she did a poorly rehearsed lip-sync routine with worse dancing than the anyone paired up with Edyta Slavinskaya (or whatever her name is) on Dancing with the Stars. Her weight had NOTHING to do with Britney being a hot mess. BUT Kevin Federline has a pretty dramatic weight gain a we hear nothing. Is there any possible explanation than sexism? We know that Britney is a zillion times more famous than her ex but it's not like other quasi-celebs like Heidi or Lauren or Kendra have it any easier.

On a happier note, getting a dog is already awesome for my weight. For one, the incentive to walk is pretty high when you know you'll be cleaning up poop on your dining room floor if you don't. For another, I went running this morning with the dog and it was awesome for several reasons:

1) Getting compliments on the dog by all the sane people who live in my neighborhood (because she is the most beautifulest dog in the WORLD!)

2) Being left along by the crazy people in my neighborhood because they think my dog is a bloodthirsty wolf.

3) Running four miles with her and realizing you can run four miles in a little over a half an hour as you keep up with a sled dog. Now THERE'S a sign you're in good shape.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Herby Update

I've been cooking... with herbs! Herbs I grew myself!

Yes, there has been harvesting on the balcony (not just in FarmTown). So far, I have:

- used fresh rosemary on a white pizza and a 3 bean dish
- chopped up some dill into FF sour cream for a veggie dip
- added fresh parsley to a roasted tomatoes and feta dish
- added in several leaves of fresh basil into my sauteed spinach and tomato sauce over pasta

All of it, delicious! And definitely a great reward for all of the gardening fun I've been having.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My lifestyle just got healthier

Because we just got a dog! Her name is Kaya and she's a Siberian husky and she's smart and affectionate. The daily walks will be great for me as well as her. Lookee here!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Halfway to Grilling Success

Tonight I attempted to recreate one of my brother's recent grill meals, and other than a need to figure out how to adapt the marinade for the grill pan, it worked out pretty well.

My brother made skewers last weekend on the outdoor gas grill, with a combo of chicken, pineapple chunks, mushrooms, red bell peppers, and red onion wedges. He made mine without the peppers and onions, by request, so tonight I tried to make my own chicken and mushroom skewers with grilled pineapple as the side.

I started with this new fancy marinade that came in one of the many gift baskets we've gotten lately: garlic rosemary citrus sauce. It was pretty good stuff. I cubed 2 big organic chicken breasts and used a whole small package of mushrooms. I let it all marinade covered in the fridge for about 2 hours.


My Giant only had little skewers, maybe about 6 inches, instead of the big (maybe 10 inch?) ones my brother had. So I made 6 little mini skewers.


Here it all is on my nice Calphalon grill pan. And you can see the problem - unlike on the grill, on the pan the marinade has nowhere to go but to start burning. I kept turning the skewers and the burning didn't end up to be too bad - the chicken and mushrooms still had good flavor. But I would love to figure out how to grill marinaded things in the pan without this problem. So far I've only stuck to seasoned meats, nothing with a liquid marinade. Any advice?


It all came out pretty well, and it was a light, tasty dinner. Grilled pineapple freakin' rocks. I have 3 more skewers for lunch tomorrow, though they were the ones that were a little more burned.


I talked with Mom after dinner and she recommended next time I let the skewers sit over the bowl for a while to let most of the liquid marinade drip off, so it's still got the flavor but less of the mess. Does anyone have any other tricks?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Now I'm Getting Back in the Groove

I haven't really been eating as well as I should the last few weeks. I've been mostly good while with Mom and my brother - Mom always has tons of fruits and veggies in the house, and we ate a lot of them. My brother grilled a lot, so we had tasty outdoor meals with healthy sides. But, I did indulge a bit - popcorn or candy at the movies, some chocolate treats, lots of chips and salsa.

And once I got back home this past week I definitely slipped... chips with onion dip, a big old mayo-dripping tuna sandwich, several cookies. Of course, this is still no pizza-and-wings slip like I've done in the past, but enough of a relaxing of the rules that I'm sure I'll see it on the scale. I'm not beating myself up, though, I recognize this has not been a normal or easy time.

And even though I thought I would do it weeks ago, I hadn't started back on my food journal - until today. Today is exactly one month since Dad died. I figured this is as good a time as any to get back into the swing of things. So, I'm writing things down and feeling good having a fully stocked kitchen again.

So here's the one thing I haven't decided yet... whether or not I will be going back to the nutritionist. I had to cancel an appointment while I was away and haven't rescheduled it yet. She has been VERY helpful to me and I've learned a lot, and the things she has taught me has really helped me turn things around. But, frankly, this decision will be purely financial. I am reprioritizing my finances now in many ways and have to make some tough decisions. The $80 I've been spending each month for a 20-minute visit is a tough call, especially since with each subsequent visit it's been a diminishing return as she mainly reads my food journal and says "good job." Is it supposed to be an indefinite arrangement? We've never talked about any duration of the relationship or plan, and I know some people just go every month for years.

This is going to be a tough call. I think I'm going to take the next few weeks to return to my routine, including journaling every day, and see how I do. I have an appointment with my doctor coming up, and will get my blood work done again this fall to see if there's any effect. I'll make another appointment if I feel like I need it, but if I keep doing well on my own, that money could be spent on some of my other personal priorities. Plane tickets are not cheap.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pavlova – Two Ways (or Damn you Barefoot Contessa!)

It’s been intimated that J and I have some eating restrictions, me with the diabetes and J with dairy allergies as well as an allergy to artificial sweeteners. That makes dessert a huge challenge. I’ve resolved this challenge by making the same desserts two ways – one with Splenda and dairy (for me) and the other with sugar and dairy substitutes (for him). A good example of this is my cobbler recipe. I make a cobbler with almond flour in ramekins. I do a ¼ cup of almond flour with ½ teaspoon of baking powder and 1 tablespoon of sugar and then mix in 1 tablespoon of melted butter, 1 tablespoon of almond milk and a dash of vanilla. Spoon on top of about ½ a cup of chopped fruit (stone fruit like cherries and nectarines work best) and bake for half an hour at 350 degrees. For myself, all I need to do is replace the sugar with the equivalent amount of Splenda and I’m set.

Sunday, J and I were going to Muffin and June’s for a BBQ with Bellisima and West Coast Rebecca. Being summertime in the bay area, I decided to try my hand at pavlova. For those of you who don’t know palvova, it’s a meringue shell that is mashmallowy in the middle. It’s cratered in the middle as well so people traditionally pile it high with fruit and whipped cream. Perfect dessert to highlight summer fruit. Like the cobbler, I decided to make a version for me (whipped cream and splenda) and a version for J (lemon curd and sugar). Because you can freeze the pavlova ahead of time, I tried my hand at pavlova on Friday night. For the first time Ina Garten did me WRONG. I made her Back to Basics it failed. What I got was a gloppy mess of a meringue that was more the consistency of a meringue topping for a lemon meringue pie. Never a waster, I decided to fold in the lemon curb to the failed meringue to lighten the lemon curd.

The next morning I did a little research (Nigella!) and saw that every OTHER cookbook was saying to bake the pavlova at 300 degrees as opposed to the 180 that Ina instructed. I did the whole shebang again using the Barefoot Contessa recipe but using the oven temperature of Nigella Lawson (preheat to 350 and when you put it in, immediately drop temp to 300). It was a huge success. I tried it again using baking Splenda, and another HUGE SUCCESS! So in one pavlova there were raspberries and blackberries over lemon curd and another pavlova there were the same berries over whipped cream sweetened with Splenda. In fact, Muffin, who ate both versions, liked the Splenda version. SCORE!

So here’s my sugar-free version of a pavlova. To make it low-fat, simply use low-fat (or even nonfat cool whip).

• 2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
• Pinch kosher salt
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 5-inch circle on the paper, then turn the paper over so the circle is on the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 2 minutes. With the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks, about 2-3 more minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites, add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it within the circle, making a rough disk. Place in oven, immediately turn down to 300 dgrees and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Invert the meringue disk onto a plate. There will be a cracked crater of delciciousness that is perfect for lemon curd, whipped cream or just fruit and a dash of some old balsamic.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Weight as a Social Construct

Interesting article here from CNN covering everything from "vanity sizing" of clothes to studies done about people's perceptions of their own bodies vs. their BMI's (which my co-blogger will likely have something to say about) to the history of whether and when "thin was in."

Thoughts?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More to Love

Onyah I am SOOOO watching More to Love. Here’s what is totally appealing aobut this show – it’s just as trashy, nasty, and icky and the Bachelor! It’s a Civil Rights moment here that fat folks get to be as drama queeny and attention whorey as the skinny folks. It’s nice that the full figured girls are competing for a guy who is Jim Belushi sized as opposed to a Jim Belushi sized guy getting his pick of his Courtney Thorne Smiths. That and the fact that the guy looks just as slick as any Bachelor and the ladies looks just as cheesy as any of the Bachelorettes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Learning Together

As I've mentioned before on this blog, Dad has always been the real cook in our family. I've been so happy bonding with him over recipes over the last several months, and I know he got real pleasure out of sharing some of his expertise with me and seeing me get really excited about one of his favorite hobbies. (Gardening was another, ditto.) I'm going to miss that, incredibly.

But... something new may come out of this all.

One of the very first things my Mom said when she got off the plane returning home from her horrible ordeal in China was "Well, now I'm going to have to learn how to cook." My ears pricked up. Mom said she'd been so used to Dad cooking for the last 41 years - how long they'd been together - that while she knows the basics she really let the kitchen be his domain and she just enjoyed the fruits of his labors.

Now, however, she needs to find her way around again in the kitchen and learn to try new things to find out what SHE likes after all these years. So, I've made it my mission to help, and to let this be something Mom and I can do together.

On my last visit here, my brother and I took turns doing most of the cooking. He, like my Dad, is a grillmaster, so his meals basically involved lots and lots of meat cooked in the great outdoors. But I got the chance to introduce both of them to the tilapia and asparagus dish (from HungryGirl) that I've come to love. Mom really liked it, being a fish fan and a huge asparagus lover, and as she ate it she kept asking me questions about how I'd made it.

Now that I'm back here for another week, we made plans that I would do a lot of the cooking. Yesterday, I made the HungryGirl Asian broccoli slaw as a side to eat with Mom's broiled teriyaki salmon, and it was a big success. Mom ate 2 big bowls of it! And she kept asking what was in it, and said this was something she could make to take to her picnics and pot lucks since it was a good healthy recipe. Tonight, I'm cooking up a lasagna, Dad's healthy veggie recipe made in Dad's own pans. I hope she likes it, cuz I know it meant a lot to me to be cooking with his knives, and his pans, in his kitchen. Later in the week, I'm going to show her the South Beach breakfast mini quiches I love, and I'm going to whip up some of my spinach-potato-cannellini bean soup.

I think this will be good for us. Mom's always been a really healthy eater, and I know she's looking for creative things to do more than just salads. And I want to keep learning and having someone to share it with. We both have Dad's cookbooks, and I will continue exploring. And Mom doesn't know this yet, but her birthday is this Thursday and I ordered her a gift subscription to Cooking Light. So, even though Dad is no longer with us physically, his spirit will live on in our kitchens as well as in our hearts.

Fat TV - Ruby and Dance Your Ass Off

So summer seems to be the time for Fat TV between Ruby and Dance Your Ass Off. First Ruby. Ruby is so crazy frustrating because there are moments of truth about losing weight and being a person of size. I think of the first season of how Ruby was pointing out that chairs can be her enemy and her triumphs of losing weight. But then there's the fakey stage drama crap and the annoying whining of - Why are you eating that in front of me????? Ruby, people are allowed to eat things that you can't eat. My father-in-law can't have tomatoes or shrimp. While there's a lot less social baggage around a food allergy, noone I know with a food allergy ever treat it like a punishment that people are eating things they can't eat. And if that's an issue, let's get smart about it. Rather than deny myself dessert with J and the in-laws, I MAKE dessert - individual cherry cobblers in ramekins. Mine is made with splenda everyone else's is made with sugar. They get regular ice cream, I get the sugar free stuff. Does it look smell or even taste any different? Not to me. Hey Ruby that's what empowerment is.

On the good side, I really like how the show is portraying Ruby's grief over her Dad and its impact on her staying on the program. I think her psychiatrist is spot on to tell her to cut herself some slack. I feel bad the Ruby, after essentially a month of grieving, felt the need to weigh herself and beat herself up even more for not reaching her desired goal weight. Well, if you are spending a month in a grief-filled funk, then give yourself some space to do that. The real challenge is to see her move out of it and come back to the program. The hard thing about healthy living is living healthy when you don't feel like it. What makes this a bit unrealistic is that I don't see habits being formed. I see Ruby constantly working at it. After a while things do become normal. But that doesn't make for good tv.

Speaking of good tv, the great thing about Dance Your Ass Off is seeing Marissa Jaret Winokour lose her soul bit by bit. Seriously, DYAO is one horrible show. It's on the Oxygen network and it's a combination of Biggest Loser and Dancing with the Stars. A bunch of fat people live in a house, try and lose weight, then learn a dance with a trained dance partner. Their ability to stay in the house is based on their percentage of weight lost and their dance scores (scored by three judges a la Dancing with the Stars). The inspiring weight loss part is totally pushed aside for the dancing stuff which is a total bummer. I'd rather see how they are losing weight than the stupid rehearsal footage. but the true reason to watch is to see Marissa, the host and Tony winner for Hairspray, try to stay perky as she knows this show is her career hitting rock bottom. And over and over again Marissa has to tell each contestant to "dance their ass off." It's hilarious and depressing at the same time.

Monday, July 6, 2009

It must be my month to be right!

Check it. NPR's resident mathematician gives ten reasons why BMI is a big crock.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A New Staple

I've discovered a new food item that I think will now achieve permanent staple status: 3-packs of 7-inch whole wheat pizza crusts.

I bought a package several weeks ago to try this really interesting recipe involving stone ground mustard, chickpeas, potatoes, asiago cheese, and fresh rosemary. It was not the best dish ever, though enjoyable, but it did introduce me to these handy little pizza crusts. I tossed the remaining crust into the freezer knowing I'd use it again soon.

And, ta-dah, tonight I made a very successful clean-the-fridge pizza dinner before I head out of town again tomorrow. One wheat pizza crust, several big spoonfuls of tomato basil pasta sauce, the remaining shredded asiago cheese, and 1 bag of fresh spinach sauteed with garlic and onions. (I drained the sauteed spinach before putting it on top of the pizza.) Delicious, handy, and really easy.

I could see myself using these crusts quite often in the future for just this kind of easy, throw-together meal.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Judgement Day

My in-laws were in town for a week and we all had a great time. It seems that my in-law trips come in two varieties - tourist and handyman. Either the in-laws are making drapes and assembling furniture or we are taking day trips to the beach. Considering we just bought a house, you can only guess what kind of trip this was.

With the massive amount of help we were getting from my in-laws, I feel embarrassed to admit a twinge of judgment and a bit of envy I have for my father-in-law who is also diabetic. He's been living with his diagnosis for three years longer than I have and his A1C is a healthy 7, great for someone in his sixties. Therefore, he does stuff like drink milk and eat desserts and eat more than a cup of rice in one sitting. It was slightly puzzling some of the choices, having a huge bowl of cereal with milk and then sweetening his ice tea with Splenda. I kept on wondering both internally and externally, can he do that?

Looking back on the week I realize it wasn't just curiosity that was promting the wondering, it was envy. How come HE gets to eat dessert when I am working out much more than he does? How does he get to drink milk? It's insidious, isn't it? Part of coming to terms with what is happening in your own body is knowing you don't have any control over anyone else's.

My father-in-law is over thirty years older than I am. His goals will be different. He's got allergies where he can't eat shrimp and tomatoes. I voluntarily don't eat dessert with sugar. Different limitations. I work out like a mofo and eat things like pork belly and pate. He eats cookies.

Here's my clarion call to myself as I go along this journey. It's not about virtue. Taking care of yourself is not about feeling higher and mightier. It's about eating delicious things like a vine ripened tomato with brie and basil. It's about running up these stairs knowing you ran up twice that length during Bay to Breakers. It's about feeling good.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm Back

Kinda. I'm home in DC for this week, then back out to my family next week.

In terms of all the lifestyle stuff... I've actually been pretty good, and I'm proud that I've kept up my commitment in the midst of this ordeal. I know my Dad has been so proud of what I've been doing, and excited to help me along, so I'm fully invested in continuing this journey both for myself and for my Dad. He would want me to keep going, to keep achieving new goals and making myself healthier. It seems more important now than ever.

We've been eating so erratically, though. I totally understand now why people send fruit baskets and casseroles after a death in the family, because it's just too hard for the family to think about cooking or making any decisions about sometime as simple as what to eat for dinner. Having apples and pears and cheese and crackers and fancy spreads and candies got us through several meals where we couldn't think otherwise. And for the first several days, none of us barely ate at all. My appetite has come back a bit, but nothing like normal. I've lost about another 2 pounds, but it was even more 2 days ago before I started forcing myself to really eat 3 meals a day.

I didn't take my food journal with me, but I'm starting that up again today and will get back on track. I'm heading to the grocery store soon to try and get the fixin's for some good balanced meals.

I have to share with you all that I've thought about this blog a lot in the last few weeks, and not in an especially happy way. Because it hasn't been lost on me about how the universe gave me a giant punch in the face... that less than a week after I'd posted about feeling strong and happy and finally content about where I am in my life, I got dealt the worst blow of my life. Is it better that it happened while I'm feeling strong rather than when I've been in a bad place? Probably. But it's really hard not to feel like there was some degree of hubris there, and I'm just not over that yet.

But we're all picking up the pieces and trying to figure out a way to move on. My mom, my brother and I are all taking good care of each other, and we'll continue to need objective friends to help, too.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eating

It’s been hard trying to write anything about the health stuff. One thing I am learning more and more is how dependent I am to routine. When I was in Phoenix for a conference, my glucose level really fluctuated. While I was working out regularly, I wasn’t eating enough. I never was able to get a late night snack in. For those of you who don’t know, late night snacks are a key part of keep my blood sugar low. It was a great piece of advice my nutritionist aunt gave to me. What happens is if you don’t get a late night snack your body decides to dump even more sugar into your system while you are asleep. That’s definitely one thing The Biggest Loser has right – eating. I love the episodes where Bob or Jillian goes and see what they are making themselves on the ranch and get all preachy about the contestants needing to eat more. It’s totally true. I’m finding the eating part (as opposed to not eating) is as important as the cutting back. Eating means I will have enough energy to run 7 miles. I can’t do morning workouts any more because I need to run longer distances and I don’t have time to eat. It does mean I won’t be burning more calories or building muscle which burns more calories. My nutritionist set a floor of how many carbs I need to eat at minimum. When I’ve gone under it’s really been hell. So lesson learned.

As a tip, I offer up string cheese. It's a great snack to address mid afternoon munchies without going into a sugar crash.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The President's Challenge

It's been 6 weeks, and I've earned an award! The goal is to have at least 5 days a week of 30 minutes of exercise for 6 out of 8 weeks. I've been logging my time over the last 6 weeks, and while I should be doing more on my own... my daily commute accounts for a whole lot of walking time.

So I've managed to get in that minimum 5x30x6, and the Challenge website just told me I qualifed for an award! Since I'm all about tangible motivations, I went ahead and ordered my little patch and certificate (signed by BO, or at least designed that way), as well as a t-shirt. You better believe that certificate is going up on my refrigerator!

And now it just restarts again, so I've got another 6 weeks to go before another award. ;-)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Eyes on the Prize: A Testimonial

Change of pace for a moment, dear readers... as I want to share some of my very personal inner monologue.... It's all part of the lifestyle improvement, and this is an area in which I really think it's working.

I had a conversation today with a friend that went down a new road, as I really started articulating something that I've just been starting to realize over the last few months. This conversation was specifically about my single status - which is a topic that I both make jokes about and sometimes feel great pain about, but that's neither here nor there for the moment - but it led me to put it all together about just how important all these things I've been doing are, not just physically but emotionally too.

To start, let's go back to almost exactly one year ago today. In fact, this coming Tuesday is a great marker, cuz it's the one-year anniversary of me moving into my great new apartment.

So, one year ago... I was pretty unhappy. Work stuff is excluded from this conversation, cuz that's the one area of my life in which I always feel pretty confident and in control of my place in life. Personally, not so much.

Last year, and for the FOUR years before that, I was living in an apartment that I had grown to hate. It had major issues over the years - roaches, mice, maggots, mold, horrible management, a fire, renovations in my own place while I was living there, you name it - and I really was not happy there. I didn't invite friends over, and I didn't want people to see the conditions in which I was living. Frankly, I let that apartment defeat me and I just gave up trying to make it better. It got to the point where one time after visiting my parents and staying in their nice clean comfortable house, I actually dreaded going back to my place. As I talked with my Mom about it, that was the moment that I *knew* I had to move. I finally was at a place financially where I could do it, and inertia was no longer a good excuse. So I did it, I moved out of that crap building that had a lot of crap memories to it.

And I ended up in my dream place. Really, I had visited this building years ago - before moving into the craphole - and loved it but I couldn't afford it then. When I knew I wanted to move, I came straight here. I didn't look around and comparison shop, cuz I think this building represented something for me -- the life I *wanted* to lead. So I set an appointment, asked if there were vacancies, and signed the lease right then and there. Done!

Going back again... this time to about a year and a half ago. I had made a New Year's resolution for myself for 2008 that may sound crazy to some of you out there, but it's indicative of the point I'd reached. I resolved to get over my crazy anxiety and start driving again. You see, I had sold my car in 2004 for financial reasons, and I still say that was one of the best decisions I ever made. I signed up for Zipcar (car sharing) and rented a car a few times in that first year or so. But then, months went by... and suddenly years went by... and I hadn't driven in nearly 2 years. At all. And I found that whenever I started to think about it, I got really anxious and afraid that somehow I wouldn't be able to do it again - that I'd suddenly be a nervous driver and a danger on the road or something. I don't know where this came from, truly, but there it was. In my mind, I somehow went from "I don't drive" to "I won't drive" to "I can't drive."

And in the summer of 2007, there was a major health crisis in my family... and that's when I realized that I had to change. Because if they had needed me to come home (which it turns out they didn't, and everything turned out okay thank goodness), I would have been more of a burden than a help. I'd worked myself up into thinking I *couldn't* drive, and that I would then be unable to provide the kind of support my loved ones might need. I felt both helpless and ashamed, all inside my head. That's when I realized I was being ridiculous. I remember saying to myself "you are a strong, confident, accomplished, independent woman. Get over yourself!" So, I made that resolution and I did indeed start renting cars again and... guess what? I can still drive just fine. And that whole mental block is gone, and hopefully I've learned enough about myself to keep something like that from cropping up again.

Okay... last time we're going back in time... but back to a year ago, I was also finally (FINALLY my friends would say) realizing that I had wasted way too much time believing and hoping that a certain relationship I had was or would ever be more than it was... and that what it actually was was really not very good at all. How much time? Five years, off and on. Egad. Again, with a moment of "this is ridiculous!" clarity, I put an end to it... almost exactly around the same time I moved into this apartment, which was a nice clean break all around.

So... all of this is to bring us back to my realization that over the past year, while I have been working hard to try to improve my lifestyle in the physical sense, I have also made great strides in improving my mental and emotional health as well. And this year has been great for me! I *love* my apartment. I love having friends over. I love just sitting here spending time on my own, puttering around in the kitchen or on the balcony. I cook! I garden! I love this neighborhood, and I feel so much safer than at my old place.

I've really spent all this time slowly bringing the focus back to me, and deciding that I no longer need to settle for anything less than what I deserve. I AM a strong, confident, accomplished and independent woman! And while the permanently single status does get to me sometimes, I tell you honestly that I would not trade for the world any of my strength, confidence, accomplishments, or independence just to be in *some* relationship...rather than the *right* relationship. And I truly believe that someday I'll find someone who completely agrees... but until then, I'm content being happy on my own, and finding new ways to explore who I am.

Pretty good stuff, eh? :-)

Monday, June 8, 2009

NOT ATKINS - Carbs

I was going to respond in the comments stef but this warrants a full post. I am right there will your nutritionist on watching the carbs. Once again, don't go all Atkins about it because that's just crazy-talk. But making sure you have enough carbs but not too much is a good thing.

For most people, they should have around 180 grams of carbs per day. 45 per meal for 3 meals and 15 per snack for two snacks. So what does 45 grams of carbs look like?

1 cup of white rice or pasta
3 cups of yogurt
3 apples
3 cups of berries
1/2 cup of flour
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 slices of whole wheat bread.
3 corn tortillas
2 flour tortillas (not burrito sized)
1 cup of beans

Looking at the list for me, I've come to love vegetables, yogurt, and corn tortillas. On top of that, whole wheat is awesome because you subtract the fiber content form the number of carbs. What has been surprising to me (and to J) is how easily 1 cup of pasta can fill you up. The thing is, vegetables (aside from root style vegetables like butternut squash) have negligible carb content. When you do a fried rice and even do 2/3 a cup of brown rice but with chopped carrots, tofu, shredded chicken or shrimp, onions, red peppers and bean sprouts, that's a meal that will make you loosen your belt. Last night, I made a great pasta dish from leftover turkey cutlets that I simmered in a tomato sauce. I did 2 cups of cavatappi (2 servings of the dish) and sauteed spinach, carrots and onions and added about four cutlets worth of lean turkey. That was a filling to the brim pasta bowl serving of pasta. With a salad, that was a filling meal.

Like stef's nutritionist said, do eliminate carbs. They are good. But It's useful to be conscious about how much. While I monitor my carb intake through grams of carbs, other diabetics I know do it through glycemic index numbers. If anyone has any advice on how that works, feel free to chime in.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tweaks

One of the things my nutritionist said I should work on is cutting down on the starches. This isn't Atkins, she's very clear about that, but again it's all about trying to eat the right things at the right times to improve my nutrition and overall health. And the truth is I was eating way too much starch, and that was a major factor in putting on and keeping the pounds.

I used to eat large servings of pasta-based dishes probably 3-5 times a week. And lots of bready sandwiches for lunch, with cookies and chips. Pretty much every meal I had included some starchy element.

So I've been working on this, and I've been making some real improvements. When I am eating pasta, I'm eating less of it and bulking up the sauce with more veggies or adding a side salad to fill me up.

And, I've been making a lot of meals that just don't need a carb at all. That stir fry I make with the beef and sugar snap peas? No rice needed, it's perfectly tasty and filling on its own. One of my usual old dishes - spinach sauteed in olive oil with cannellini beans all over pasta, sometimes with chicken - actually is even better as a soup made with low-sodium chicken broth, no pasta needed.

Tonight, I made a fantastic dinner - a grilled steak with DCFB's recommended sauteed asparagus as a side. In the past, I would've made a potato to go with it, or a boxed version of parmesan couscous or noodles. But the starch is totally not needed, cuz it was a satisfying meal all on its own.

It's all about trying new things, and I'm enjoying these new, less-starchy meals. So is my waistline.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pic of me in my Bay to Breakers Costume

I was hoping to see if one of the race photographers caught a pic of me but it appears not. Here's a pi of my in my Bay to Breakers outfit. It's 6:00 am. Not a bad rendition of a Nickelodeon cartoon character. A


The Spa Staycation

I'm nothing if not a trend followerer and in this economy the staycation makes a lot of sense. Stef, in her other blog asked her readers about what they would do for a staycation in DC. The idea of a weeklong staycation sounds awesome. So I am giving stef my idea of a spa staycation in DC.

Here's some guidelines. That money you were going to spend on hotel and travel, use a tiny chunk of it and get someone to clean your apartment. No, seriously. The first time I had Shirley, my cleaning woman, clean my apartment with J, I giggled at the sight of a spotless apartment that I had no hand in cleaning. One assumption I am making is that you will have an easy morning and nothign really will be happening until 11:00 am at the earliest.

Here's the schedule:

Friday - Get the house cleaned!

Saturday - Get provisions: fruit from the farmer's market. Some good fresh bread from Marvelous Market. Hummus, tzatziki, carrots, and grape tomatoes. A small bottle of good olive oil.

Sunday - The fun begins
Sleep in and informal breakfast
Lunch at Teaism
Walk from Teaism to Dunbarton Oaks and look at the most beautiful garden in DC
Dinner at Dino (they have a great prix fixe for $25)

Monday - Spa day. Take advantage of the fact you'll get an appointment because everyone else will be working
Sleep in and brunch at home
Half day at Serenity Day Spa in Tenleytown (since it's affiliated with Sport and Health Club, you all get a one day pass there)
1 hour of exercise at Sport and Health
Dinner at Lebanese Taverna

Tuesday - Veg out day
Grocery run for snacks
Stay in during the day and watch one season of Buffy
Beginning modern dance improv class at Joy of Motion Dance studio
Take out sushi from Spices (also the Wafu salad is to die for!)
More Buffy

Wednesday - Feeding your mind
Lunch at the Museum of the American Indian Food court (avoid the Fry Bread!)
Look up at http://www.si.edu/events/onetime.htm the Smithsonian one time events. they have tons of stuff going on every day
Dinner in - perhaps broiled tilapia and roasted asparagus?
After dinner: Take the bus up to Politics and Prose and go browsing

Thursday - back to Nature
Morning walk into Rock Creek park (there's a trailhead right in between Van Ness and Cleveland Park)
Lunch at home
The National Zoo
Dinner at home - Salad with a lemon vinaigrette and sauteed shrimp. With bread on the side.

Friday - Day of Beauty
Lunch at home
Spa day at Elizabeth Arden in Friendship Heights
Dinner at Central

Saturday - Yum!
Ok Stef. It's time to step up to the plate and do some entertaining! But I'll make sure you are well supplied and give you a menu where the only cooking is slicing some tomatoes and cooking a steak!

A visit to the Cheverly Farmer's market in the morning to get provisions for a dinner for four
- bread
- salad greens
- grape tomatoes
- cucumbers
- sugar snap peas
- red onions
- fresh fruit in season
- cheese for a cheese plate
Stop by Eastern Market to get a nice flank steak (1 1/2 pounds)
Lunch at Cafe Atlantico where you will get their Latin Dim Sum
Chill out for the afternoon and recover form the enormous lunch
Dinner at home
- cheese plate with bread, grape tomatoes and cheeses (I'd suggest a nice aged gouda, stilton, and a goat cheese
- steak salad (salt and pepper the flank steak, grill in a super hot pan for 4 minutes on either side, let rest under foil and slice as thinly as possible agaisnt the grain). Salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, salad greens, cucumber and sugar snap peas.
- sliced fruit over ice cream for dessert.

Sunday - Feel refreshed yet?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pretty As a Picture

I decided to use some of that asparagus from the farmers' market tonight for this interesting tilapia recipe I found... it's one of those recipes where you cook everything in a foil packet. Fun! Here is the recipe from HungryGirl.

And here it is on my plate - surviving an easy transfer from the oven foil packet to plate with a nice big spatula. This was really tasty, and even though it looks as fancy as a restaurant meal it was very easy to make. One note, though: this needs more than 15 minutes to cook. Give it 20 and check.



Yesterday I dug into some more of my farmers' market finds - here's a gorgeous big salad I had for lunch, topped with cucumbers and tomatoes and a bit of goat cheese. I made my own vinaigrette, with fresh dill, scallions, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, and black pepper. Delicious, and so fresh it all just made me happy.