Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dear God, Whole Foods

Seems like Whole Foods is getting on the fat shaming bandwagon. Check it. Y'all know how much i think BMI is a load of crap as a health measure, but this is some seriously effed up thinking. If you do buy the idea that we should encourage more people to eat healthier, should you offer the discounts to the people with HIGHER BMIs so that they take advantage of the all of those fruits and vegetables?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And interesting post on Pandagon

So I just read this post on Pandagon, a feminist, political website. It brings up two really good points.

1. BMI sucks and as an indicator of health. I have a cousin who is 6 feet and thin as a rail. I can run circles around him and my BMI is a zillion times more than his. My sister's boyfriend's BMI is a zillion times bigger than his - my sister's boyfriend IS A TRIATHELETE.

2. All of this fear on women "bulking up" is based on misogynist ideas that women should be frail and weak. My question for you readers of the female persuasion is - do you do weight training? Why or why not. I personally do the absolute minimum of weight training mainly because I find it boring and I cannot stare at the tv while I'm doing it.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Don't Cry for Me Stef...

I get to eat plenty of sweets. Ever since I've gotten over my fear of Splenda and learned about almond flour, the sweet are pretty plentiful in my household. Given the fact I am replacing flour for ground almonds, the fat content will be high, but that's why I run 18 miles a week.

But here's my list of sweet stuff:

Fruit cobblers
Peanut butter cookies
Dark chocolate
sugar free ice cream
almond flour pancakes
Hot chocolate with almond milk and splenda (and a shot of sugar free hazelnut syrup)

All of them are less than 15 grams of carbs and taste pretty awesome. In fact, the sugar free pancakes are 1 gram of carbs per pancake. I can only eat five before I'm full.

Here's a recipe for the pancakes

* 1 cup almond flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 2 eggs
* 1/4 cup water (for puffier pancakes, you can use sparkling water)
* 1 tablespoons oil
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon sweetener
* 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix ingredients together and cook as you would other pancakes. I like to use a nonstick pan with a little oil. The only real difference is that they won't "bubble" on top the same way as regular pancakes. Flip them when the underside is brown. Serve with sugar free maple syrup.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Cooking with Veggies

I'm still experimenting with new ways to use veggies, and/or using new veggies in my usual ways.

I tried this great recipe for a creamy celery soup. I'm loving pureed soups lately, and this one is really yummy. It's the surprisingly great combo of celery and thyme, and I even used dried thyme. The potatoes give the soup the creamy consistency, so it tastes much richer than it is since it has no actual cream in it. Yum! Great frozen and reheated, too.

And here's just a variation on the usual, but I thought it looked pretty with all that green in the pan. It's chicken stir fry with baby bok choy, which I served over brown rice.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Salt and Public Policy

The research and debates continue....

Health / Fitness & Nutrition
Big Benefits Are Seen From Eating Less Salt
Published: January 21, 2010
Scientists writing in The New England Journal of Medicine conclude that lowering the amount of salt people eat by even a small amount could reduce cases of heart disease, stroke and heart attacks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sweet Heaven

Sorry co-blogger, this one's gonna be all about the sweetness....

I can always tell when I'm about 2-3 weeks into healthy eating, cuz that's when I start to crave things like cookies, cake, ice cream, etc. I don't normally have a huge sweet tooth, but if you put it in front of me I'll eat it. And when I'm focusing more on veggies, fruit, lean proteins, and fiber - well, my brain starts thinking "Dooooooooonnnnnnuuuuuuuuttttttttttttttt."

Anyway, I decided tonight to try and curb my craving with something I could whip up from the pantry. And although the result is not *totally* guilt-free, I have to say this is one of the awesomest things I've ever made.

Breakfast, it's what's for dinner. In the form of CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA PANCAKES.

Oh, dear Lord. I want to lick the plate. Reduced fat "Heart Smart" Bisquick. Non-fat organic milk. Egg beaters. Sugar Free Maple Syrup. Low-fat butter. One banana. About 20 semi-sweet chocolate chips. Two pancakes. One giant smile on my face.

Cravings begone!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The conundrum

I am totally grateful for this blog because it does keep me focused on what I need to focus on. Case in point, since I've gone off the medication to control my blood sugar I've gained about 8 pounds and gone up a pants size. I talked with my doctor about it and he said that a beneficial side effect of the metformin is that it facilitates weight loss.

I've been at the same weight for two months so it's not like I'm blowing up. And on every other measure I am rocking.

- My cholesterol, A1C, and urine scores are actually better than when I was at my lowest weight

- I've increased my running from two 3-mile runs and a 5-mile run to to two 5-mile runs and a 7.5 mile run.

- My speed in the races improved dramatically.

So everything is going well BUT I was damn tempted to ask for some drugs to get the weight off. It's a conundrum. I need to celebrate that my body does well enough on its own (as along as I do the things I need to). The flip side is that I am pretty damn tempted to get back on drugs I don't need just to lose a few pounds.

Now where was that forest again?

Monday, January 18, 2010

It's Working

It is nice to be reminded that you DO know how to do this, and all it takes is just DOING IT.

I've been paying more attention to my diet as my New Year's resolution, cutting out all the pre-holiday treats (goodbye cookie dough) and keeping my food journal regularly. I'm making the most of my produce delivery and making lots of veggie-rich meals and fruit-based snacks. I'm trying to drink more water -- though I always need to do better on that. I'm not starving myself - I've even eaten out many times - but I'm trying to eat better things.

And, it's working. In 18 days, I've lost 7.8 pounds. Hooray!!! I know how to do this.

Now, at some point, I'm going to have to confront my nemesis.... exercise. Grumble.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cheap and Easy in the Kitchen

I just got back from a great cooking demonstration class. (Thank you, Groupon!)

Personal chef Zan Dial of Nova Personal Chef taught us how to cook 3 of the recipes from his upcoming book Cheap and Easy in the Kitchen. His whole idea is to share tips on cooking meals for a family of 4 for a week for under $100. He gave us all 7 recipes from the book, so I've got lots of stuff to try. (I'm not going to reproduce the recipes here, out of respect for his upcoming book. I will post in the future if I make my own variations on them.)

In the demo, he made - and we sampled:

- Shrimp Creole - This was delicious and had great heat to it. I loved it with the shrimp, and he said it can be made with chicken, scallops, or white fish too. I asked about reheating, and he recommended that it would be better to make it with chicken for a meal to eat all week, since microwaving shrimp is NOT a good thing. I will definitely make this.

- Baked Ziti - A good simple recipe, with a great basic tomato sauce that I loved. It's got the usual, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, onion, and garlic plus a little sugar to cut the acidity. His recipe can be made with or without meat, and it also would be a great meal to make once and eat leftovers for a few days.

- Braised Beef with Root Vegetables - OMG this was delicious. What a great reminder of how awesome beef is when braised in red wine. :-) This is similar to my beef stew recipe, just slow cooked either in a crock pot or on a stove top. I need to start adding wine to my stew, cuz it just makes it out of this world.

In addition, we got recipes for:
- Penne with Vodka Tomato Sauce
- Pasta Primavera with Chicken
- Grilled Flank Steak and Red Peppers
- Beef or Chicken Kabobs with Cucumber Salad

I will most likely be buying the book when it comes out, cuz these recipes are all pretty easy for a beginning cook. Zan also has a weekly email list where he shares new recipes - you could probably email him (at the address in the comments) to be added yourself.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Caitlin Flanagan = Asshole

So Caitlin Flanagan wrote an article in the Atlantic criticizing Alice Waters Edible Schoolyard. While I have plenty of criticisms of the Alice Waters/Michael Pollan crowd, I can only point my finger at Ms. Flanagan and yell - douchebag! First of all, Caitlin Flanagan is the same "journalist" who decided to excoriate feminists with nannies in the selfsame pages of the Atlantic in 2003. This lady who is pretty damn surrounded with rich privileged white folks gets to sit on her high horse and feel sorry for those brown people who take care of rich folks kids.

This time around she feels sorry for those brown people's kids who are forced to pick organic vegetables as part of the school curriculum. Rich white lady worries about those poor brown folks whose education are getting shortchanged because they have to learn about vegetables. "Will this help them pass Algebra?" she asks.

Here's the thing. The HUGE criticism about No Child Left Behind is that it focuses too much on test scores. Those "fluffy" subjects like art and sports and anything that isn't covered on a scan tron teach skills that are really necessary in the working world - cooperation, problem solving etc. None of which will be measured on a scan tron. Same with raising organic vegetables. You learn a whole lot of biology gardening. As a quilter, I've had to use the Pythagorean theorem more in a month of designing a quilt than in a semester's worth of geometry.

On top of that, there is tons and tons of research that shows that eating well balanced meals and BREAKFAST boosts brain capacity and helps with test scores. Watch Supersize Me to see a real life example. These types of programs have a huge impact on classroom performance even if there isn't a direct correlation to test scores.

For all of her concerns about these poor brown children, she really does seem to advocate for shortchanging their education. So shut it Flanagan.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Since we're comfort cooking...

Friday night I really wanted a comfort meal. I already had a cauliflower mash on hand and J defrosted some turkey cutlets to sear but I needed another vegetable. With a bag of frozen spinach, I decided to make creamed spinach but low carb and low fat. It was SOOOOOO good. I mean warm and delicious and gooey. Perfect for a cold night. The key with creamy stuff is to use sharp cheeses instead of mild cheeses. That lowers the fat content but keeps the flavor. Also this recipe has no cream or even flour for a roux.

Here's my recipe.

1 onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of EVOO
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 12 oz package of frozen spinach
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons lowfat or nonfat sour cream
salt to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the evoo with the nutmeg and pepper (it's good to add the spices early to bring out their flavor) for about five minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the frozen spinach and cook until the spinach is unfrozen. Obviously, you can defrost earlier but it's just as easy to just dump it in and then break it up as it cooks in the pan. When all of the spinach is unfrozen, ass the cheese and sour cream. Let simmer for about 15 minutes. Add salt and more pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Health-ifying Restaurant Food

I know a lot of people are against the idea of a "mommy state" politically, but I am all in favor of this kind of government reform. I know just how hard it is to battle obesity and lifestyle diseases. I'll take all the help anyone wants to offer. Here's a NYT article about a new NYC voluntary plan to make restaurant food hold the salt:

New York Seeks National Effort to Curtail Salt Use
Published: January 11, 2010
The broad new health initiative sets a goal of reducing the salt in packaged and restaurant food by 25 percent over the next five years.

Comfort Cooking

Oh, the weather outside is frightful... but spending the weekends in the kitchen has been a good way for me to stay warm! I've made a couple of low-fat comfort food recipes the last 2 weekends that have been great as dinners and lunches all week.

Tonight I made a good old chicken pot pie. YUM. This low-fat recipe was pretty easy. (Laura, this one is perfect for you!) I used a bigger pan and doubled the veggies, so I did 1.5x the topping mixture, too. The cooking time was off, I ended up going another 20 min in 5 minute intervals just to get this good golden crust. It's mighty tasty!

If you're a fan of those frozen, sodium/fat/preservative-laden pot pies you can get at the store, trust me. This is WAY better.

Last week, I made this cheesy rice and broccoli casserole. Again,it was a very simple recipe, though it required a few pots to cook the rice, steam the broccoli, etc. I prefer one-pot dishes, but that's okay.

I think I ended up using too much rice, cuz I did 2 cups UNcooked... it probably meant 2 cups cooked. This did dry out a little bit, so I should've used more of the soup or chicken broth. But it still tasted good for lunch 5 days later, so that's a winner too!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Who Needs Takeout?

Seriously, who needs it? With just a little bit of work in the kitchen, that I've really grown to enjoy, I can make my own Asian-style dinners that are way tastier and much healthier than anything I can get from the Chinese delivery place. You can control what goes into the dish (ie less sodium and fat) and tweak it to your particular tastes. It's so much better!

For example, I make a pretty darn good beef stir fry at this point. I buy top round steaks and trim them myself into small strips. Then, in a frying pan... some olive oil, some thin-sliced green onions (scallions), some low sodium soy sauce... sautee the beef strips, add in some ginger (I use dried from the spice rack), and then add in a veggie. I love sugar snap peas, just from the frozen food section. In about 10 minutes, it's all done and it's delicious. I don't even serve a carb with it.

Tonight, I wanted to use some of the Annie Chun's stuff I bought at the cooking show with Onyah a few months back. So I did a similar routine -- this time with regular diced onion and olive oil, trimmed pork strips, broccoli, and the Annie Chun's Korean Barbecue sauce. Then I served it over one of their rice express dishes of microwaveable sticky rice (no fat, no sodium). It's delicious! Tangy, flavorful, and none of that oily aftertaste that always makes me regret ordering from a delivery place.

Now.... I will still get Indian takeout, cuz I'm not quite up to cooking chicken tikka masala or vindaloo at home yet. But I might as well throw away all those Chinese food delivery menus. :-)

Skills Gained in 2009

In Keep with the Itsalifestyle theme, rather than talking numbers for my 2009 recap, I'll give you a list of the skills I've gained. Because weight can be gained or lost but knowledge is forever.


1. How to count carbs and track my eating
2. How to eat regularly (especially good because you don't want to make entries if your food log twelve times a day)
3. Portion sizes
4. How to cook with almond flour and splenda
5. How to accept Splenda as a part of my life.
6. How to roast beets (Beets, goat cheese and walnuts with a dash of Balsamic - eating good!
7. How to order something at fast food places without a zillion grams of carbs
8. Avoiding smoothies

1. How not to overdo it - don't do cardio two days in a row
2. The importance of strength training including all of that abs work
3. How to run a race and make sure I have energy at the end (now I am working on the middle)
4. Having a net game in tennis
5. How to exercise while traveling
6. Lower back stretches

Friday, January 1, 2010

Cooking for One

I love this article from NPR...

Cooking for One: A Privilege, Not a Chore

And the recipes look divine. I'm going to have to try that tomato-zucchini bake sometime.

It's a New Year

As Shakira says, "hips don't lie" and mine are saying it's time to cut out the cookies and the chips. Yeesh.

As a New Year's tradition, I stepped on the scale this morning to see where my resolutions will start. It was not a happy moment. As expected, I am now at my NEW highest weight ever. Yikes. I knew it was happening, and I really have given myself a sort of psychological pass over the last 6 months to not be too hard on myself while I've been adjusting to the "new normal" in my family and emotional life.

But, a psychological pass doesn't equal a biological pass. And I haven't been feeling good - I know I've gained weight and fallen even more out of shape.

So as long planned, I got myself through the holidays (I even did work out one day at the Holiday Inn when we visited my home town) and I'm now recommitting to the whole healthy lifestyle effort. I'll say it again, what my co-blogger and I strongly believe, it's NOT a diet. It's a way of life. That way of life includes going back to journaling my food and exercise (well, it includes actual exercise too), it includes more consistent cooking, and paying more attention to myself and my choices. I want to get back to following my nutritionist's advice for a low sodium, low fat diet, and I know that this works. I just have to do it.

So, that's my New Year's resolution - to get back to that good place of healthy cooking, eating, and moving that I found last year. Thanks for coming along for the ride.