Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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Smoothies In The Morning

July 6, 2013

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the lack of value in liquid calories and I would probably agree when it comes to soda or beer or any of the so-called dirty drinks. A smoothie though? I’m pretty sure a well made smoothie can start your day off right. Here’s what I like in the morning. (Usually on workout days).

This Raw Protein plus this So Delicious Chocolate Coconut Milk plus a few blueberries. Blend them together well. Notice what I didn’t add? That’s right, no juice or sugar. Simple, three ingredient smoothie so if I’m wrong and it’s really not at nutritious, at least it tastes great. 🙂

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Variety And The Spice Of Life…or Coconut, Is There Anything You Can’t Do?

June 11, 2013

Since figuring out all these allergies I’ve been doing a lot of experiments with different types of cooking oils. My love of flavor infused olive oils is well documented in this blog but lately I’ve been making my morning breakfasts with coconut oil and I have to say, I like it. Sometimes using the flavored olive oils (even if it is just a little bit) leaves the eggs tasting a little “greasy” which I don’t like. The coconut oil seems to not do that even though I use the same amount. The only thing I dislike about it so far is that it seems to smoke a lot more/quicker than the olive oils do. I could just be doing something wrong with it but I generally cook on a pretty low heat because I hate burnt food. Anyway the amount of products and foods I’ve had to use coconut with is just amazing. I really had no idea it could do so much…coconut sugar for my tea, coconut “milk” creamer for my tea, coconut flour for pancakes and coconut oil for general cooking and baking, I’m pretty sure there is nothing coconut can’t do. I’m waiting for “research” to show that it causes copious amounts of cancer when eaten in large supplies.

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Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

January 10, 2013

Came home today and wife surprised me with dinner, yay dinner! Here is her recipe:

 

Marinate the pork chops overnight in The Olive Scene dark chocolate balsamic vinegar but first rub them down with garam masala. Once they’re properly marinated then sear the chops on each side (about two minutes on each side) then cover for 5 minutes then finish cooking, uncovered until they reach your desired safe pork temperature.

She experimented with cooking down the balsamic a little bit for the glaze but ultimately it is better to simply drizzle the vinegar over the cooked chops and rely on the residual heat to warm the glaze a bit. The chops were quite delicious, enjoy!

 

2013-01-09 20.13.19

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Health & Paleo Update: New Year

January 7, 2013

I was just in a meeting and we got off track, this happens quite a lot around here but today it got me thinking a bit more about my health. We were discussing the Paleo diet and some of the dogma around it, “blah blah cavemen ate this way, blah blah blah” and you know really none of that junk matters to me. I could care less about the dogma around anything really, I just care if it works and this way of eating is working for me. A lot of my previous health issues were related, it seems, almost 100% to diet. I can no longer look back at my previous attitude of “this won’t make too much of a difference, I’ll just  look better and feel better about my blood-work numbers but not actually feel better” and be smug about it.  That way of thinking is dead and gone for me. It may sound obvious and it may sound cliched but you are what you eat and I do actually feel better, not just a little here and there but really a lot better.

Completely changing my eating habits and diet have revealed issues I didn’t even know I really had. Things that I just figured were happening because I was getting older or because I was sick in other ways, my brain could not relate them to eating but, turns out, they were. In fact the only one of my general problems that I never thought was related to eating that hasn’t been fixed by this change is my terrible sleep habits but I’m now convinced that I can change those too without much ill effect. We shall see.

Anyway this was just a general, random update as those thoughts came to me during a meeting and now back to work.

 

 

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Little Did I Know….

January 1, 2013

It’s New Year’s Day and little did I know that one year after I promised myself I would get “healthy” that I would be so well on my way. I’m nearly 200 pounds lighter, no blood sugar control problems and my immune system disorder is in check (if the blood work is to be believed anyway). All in all I would say that 2012 was a pretty good year, health-wise anyway and as I reflect on it now one year on there are just a litany of lessons that I would like to share but really don’t want to be “preachy.” If preachiness bothers you though then tune out now. 🙂 Here we go…

<preachiness>

Little did I know that losing weight could be relatively “easy.”  Before this year I would’ve told you that “I’m just a big guy” or “my whole family is big, there is little hope for me,”  I realize now those were all just convenient excuses to avoid doing something I didn’t want to do in the first place. I’m really glad I did it though.

Little did I know that after losing all that weight I would have to buy new clothes. Okay that one isn’t fair, I knew that but I didn’t realize how quickly I would have to do that.

Little did I know that fixing my diet would have so many different effects on me. The primary one (outside of general health) being that I can think a lot more clearly and am far less unfocused than I was in 2011. This is a good thing.

Little did I know that I would suddenly be more interested in physical activities. I always hated working out and viewed only a “necessary” evil that I did sparingly. I’ve come to enjoy parts of it a lot more and am doing more biking (well not now because we have like two feet of snow) but will do more in the spring. Its the same with running, it is something I’m getting more and more interested in and will try to learn a lot more about it before I really do it, a goal for this year is to try to run at least a 1/2 marathon, we’ll see.

Little did I know and loosely related to the one above, did you know it was possible for your feet to shrink? I sure didn’t. I went from a size 12, sometimes 13 to a size 9.5 sometimes 10. This was a really weird one for me because as a lot of people will tell you, I love shoes. It was sort of a mixed blessing, I had to get rid of my shoes I liked but had to buy more.

Little did I now (and this is a big one) that so many people viewed me as “fat.” I guess I knew they did but it really comes out when you lose a lot of weight. Everyone is so “proud” and so “happy” for me, was I that terrible of a big guy? I guess so. Anyway, this was a big one for me because it really did change how I perceived myself before this and how I perceive myself now. Self-altering events are always big.

The biggest lesson I learned though was that losing weight and getting healthier is not an insurmountable undertaking, it can be done. That is the biggest thing I learned that I did not know before. I thought it would take years if it ever happened and it just hasn’t. Eating affects everything you do, how you feel as well as how you look. Try just eating a little better this year (add a salad to every meal) and see if you feel better. I sure do.

 

</preachiness>

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I Survived The Zombie Apocalypse…er I Mean Thanksgiving

November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving is over that blessed of all “food” holidays we’re obsessed with here in the US and I for one am happy about it. I was pretty worried about it because I didn’t think there was any way I wouldn’t overeat. It was tough, with all the cakes, cupcakes, pies and high carb dishes staring me in the face with every turn in the kitchen but I did it. My official weigh-in this morning had me down 6 pounds from last week so I not only survived but I punched Thanksgiving right in the throat. Here’s how:

This is going to sound cliched but basically it all boils down to will power. I’m all for the low-carb thing but I think most of my weight loss success has been caused primarily by caloric restriction, basically not eating more calories than I burn in a given day, sounds simple but it eludes a lot of people. The low carb count is great for my blood sugar but I don’t think that is really causing the weight-burn I’m seeing, I could be wrong and am not a doctor but I know how to read so there you go. At any rate I won at Thanksgiving very simply, at dinner I had some carbs but less than a full serving. I had a tablespoon of potatoes, a tablespoon of macaroni and cheese plus a normal serving of roasted turkey with roasted cabbage and green beans. This was plenty of food for me without feeling too stuffed and didn’t leave me craving any additional food, it just worked. Here’s where it gets tricky.

My wife loves sweets, cakes, pies, cookies, all of them. Normally it doesn’t bother me too much but this was Thanksgiving, I had to eat some sweets right? It was expected! Guess what? I didn’t, not even a small slice of pumpkin pie. It might sound horrible or even like torture but it really wasn’t bad. I simply didn’t crave that stuff anymore. I had eaten a sufficient enough dinner so I wasn’t hungry anymore and didn’t really want anything additional. This strategy was primarily driven by the fact that if you are hungry you are more likely to crave sweets, at least I am so I simply made sure I wasn’t hungry. Watching other people eat the sweet stuff didn’t bother me either despite them all telling me how good it was, creeps. 🙂

Basically as I’ve said in this blog all along, nothing is easy and it all comes down to discipline and self-control. This is not what the diet commercials sell you of course, they tell you its all easy but it isn’t. It does get easier as you progress though, it really does. My survival of Thanksgiving is a testament to that fact.

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What Is The Value Of Healthy Food?

November 18, 2012

My Great Uncle used to tell me all the time that there was a big difference between price and value, it was something that he really tried to meld into my moral fabric. Just because something was cheap didn’t mean it was not valuable and just because it was expensive, well that didn’t mean it was really valuable. Basically the moral of his stories were always that price does not determine value, this is especially true when it comes to food. I used to love submarine sandwiches because they were quick, cheap and mostly delicious, I never thought about their value and what I mean by value is that sure, I save some money and time but what did the sub sandwich do for me? Well the ones I liked had upwards of 600 calories with a lot of those from fat not to mention around 40 carbs with almost no fiber or vitamin nutrition. The meat used on it was always heavily processed cold cuts and the condiments were a-plenty. All of that before I added the chips and soda that I just had to have. Basically a whole day’s worth of fat, carbs and sugar in one “meal” plus probably a couple of days worth of sodium. Cheap? Yes. Valuable? No.

As I continue my journey to getting healthier, losing weight and kicking diabetes in the teeth I notice this kind of stuff all the time. While I’m grocery shopping I notice that fresh produce is rarely on any sort of convincing sale. The junk food is always on sale, today I could’ve gotten 4, yes FOUR packages of Oreo cookies (basically about the lowest food possible on a nutritional scale) for $5.00, that is CHEAP! I suspect they were old or something because it was in the clearance section, anyway, no one should ever need four packages of Oreos, maybe in an entire lifetime but there it was. In the produce section meanwhile, the baby spinach was $3.59 for a pretty small container (pre-washed stuff). For about the same price I can get FOUR packages of old Oreos which is about 60 servings of 3 cookies (recommended serving size) or about two servings of healthy spinach… does that make any sense to anyone? Looking at that, is it any wonder why people (including me) are so confused about their health and what they should be eating? Eating healthy while looking at that sort of scale you could go broke eating healthy. It is cheaper to eat non-nutritional crap than it is to eat anything healthy, this is sad.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this is just a way to keep the populace too fat and lazy to care about anything else but eating. Eat some sugar, you usually need/want more so the trend just enforces itself. Eat a carrot? Not so much unless you really like carrots. It is great that our country’s food companies have found a product (sugar) that basically makes sure their customers keep coming back for more over and over. It seems like any industry that is truly bad for you (tobacco anyone?) has similar products that do this. Essentially get them hooked young and the product does all the work for you. Like I said though, that’s the conspiracy theorist in me and I don’t listen to him much. I’ve heard reasonable-sounding arguments that we couldn’t feed our population with just healthy food that is grown out there here, that we have to use created foods that don’t really rely on food but chemistry for manufacturing. I hope that’s not really true.

Anyway I don’t have a point to all this other than eating healthy can be more expensive but doesn’t have to be. If you cut out the restaurant trips (like I’ve done) and learn to grocery shop (like I’m trying to do) you can do it. It is tricky but it can be done. If I were smarter I’d start a service that shows people how to do it after I learn how first of course. The economics are against you but I think that with a little effort and focus you can cut through the confusion and eat better. I’m not perfect at it yet but I can tell you from what I’ve learned so far, it is completely worth it. Speaking of economics, check this out:

 

SPECIALS!

SPECIALS!

 

Look at those prices! Two horrendously bad for you energy drinks for $3.00, that’s only $1.50/piece! What is the real cost though? I suspect a few hundred calories and probably very sugar loaded. You then get to have two bags of combos (I didn’t know those existed anymore) for $4.00 so a little more expensive but you get a bunch of pieces so I suppose that counts for something. Finally, my personal favorite, buy one bottle of Nesquik chocolate milk (340 calories, 58 grams of carbs) and, get this, you get a DONUT for free! A glazed donut has around 400 calories with half from fat and about 40 carbs, at least according to Dunkin’ Donuts . I was never a big donut fan but wow did I enjoy my chocolate milk. Chocolate milk and pop tarts was my favorite “breakfast” when I was in high school, wow do I wish I knew then what I know now and I wish I cared as much as I do now. I ask you now dear readers, how valuable do you think those junk food deals are?

 

 

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Low Carb AND Baked Goods? Yes Please

November 10, 2012

Lately I’ve been looking for some variety in my diet. Not that I’m weakening or anything just that I’ve been pretty regimented in what I’ve been eating for so long that it has gotten a little boring so I started branching out a little. Enter The Julian Bakery  . I ordered some of their bread and brownies just for something a bit different, expecting it to be horrible, you know what? It wasn’t. It was different, anyone who tells you that you can have low carb bread and low carb brownies and they’re “just as good” or “just like” regular stuff is lying. The bread is pretty good when toasted but I don’t think I would use it for just a sandwich or anything, I’m planning on trying the cinnamon bread in a sugar-free French Toast (recipe forthcoming when I get to making it). The brownies were pretty great, they are not, I repeat not like regular brownies. They’re not terribly sweet but since I’ve been doing this sort of diet that’s okay, my sweet tooth, such as it was seems to have completely reversed itself. I would recommend this place to anyone that just can’t put down the bread or chocolate. My only complaint about them was that it took weeks for them to deliver even though I paid for overnight shipping to get the stuff sooner so I thought that was weird. Anyone ever get stuff from them? What are your thoughts?

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Stress Eating — Revisited

September 21, 2012

I’ve been accused of being able to distance myself from things happening to try to be objective, it is how I control my emotions in rather tense situations and remain calm. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get nervous, I’m usually pretty much a big ball of nervous energy, I just try not to show it much. The method I use isn’t magic or anything all that special, I just meditate regularly and this kinda allows you some distance between how you feel and how you react to those feelings, that simple. A friend mine once said (in more colorful language than I will use in this paraphrase) that “meditation provides you the seconds you need to not be a jerk in any situation.” I agree wholeheartedly with that so I recommend meditation heavily if you are an anxious eater which I never was but here is why I say that.

During my “week from hell” last week when I was really having some stress eating issues, I was able to look at my behavior objectively to kinda figure out why I wanted to eat a chocolate bar or those chips and really the reason was simple, I had access. I wasn’t particularly hungry but I wanted to do some mindless, easy activity to take my mind off my problems, in this case that was eating. It was easy because we had the stuff, chocolate from my wife’s s’mores addiction and chips from when we had some visitors in from out-of-town a few weeks back. Had I not access to the bad stuff I doubt my first inclination would’ve been to eat, now obviously I don’t know that with 100 percent certainty because I don’t have a time machine to test that theory, yet.

If it ever happens again and I’m pretty sure it almost certainly will as next week promises to be just as stressful, I’m going to try to figure out some other mindless activity to take my mind off of things. Perhaps I will learn how to yo-yo or something equally mind-numbing. I guess the bigger point is, if you’re stressed out and eat a lot when you are, try to figure out the real reason you’re eating and then try to alter that behavior. I know, I know, easier said than done but isn’t worth a show to gain some control back over food? Really I think you could probably apply this to any behavior you don’t like about yourself and think you can’t control. I’m off now to apply this to working out…I really hate working out.

 

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Expiration Dates Are A Sick Person’s Friend (Myth? Probably)

September 21, 2012

I work with a lot of smart people, I just do. This is just a fact of the industry I work in, smart people are attracted to it. Now, if you’ve ever worked with smart people (especially people smarter than you) you will know they also really like to argue, really about anything. Most of the time the points are valid and other times they are born out of sheer paranoia (this is also a common trait amongst smart people).  The problem with this is that they will sometimes argue with you about a topic they know nothing about but will opine endlessly on as if their opinion is fact and every once in a while those arguments become the topic of a blog post, this is one of those times.

The other day I mistakenly mentioned something about expiration dates on food and got an earful about how those dates are BS and no way food companies understand food molecules well enough to “predict” when something is going bad or is bad. Now due to the fact I’m not as smart as all these folks I decided to do something crazy, I researched the topic a little and found out that expiration dates don’t really exist anymore. You see “sell by,” for instance which basically means the stores should remove it from the shelves or deeply discount it but the product is still okay to eat. Then you have the “Best if used by” date which is a quality-only sort of date, this means it might not taste as good after this date but it might, you decide. Finally you will see the closest thing to an actual expiration date we have these days and that’s the “use by” date. The “use by” date basically is the food company saying, “look we’re pretty sure that after this date this product won’t be good anymore so if you eat it and get sick, you’re on your own.”

The various dates you see on packages are not really regulated in any way (except on infant formula) and use a loosely defined system of “open dating” but the actual dating varies from company to company. Regardless of what the smarties in my office think, food really does expire and while it is probably true no one can predict with any certainty when that will happen it is probably not really a conspiracy by the food companies to sell more product. Bottom line is, if you’re a person prone to getting sick (like me), stick to the dates and ignore crazy people who actually have immune systems. 🙂

References: 

USDA Site (good charts)

WebMD