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

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."


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.