Sunday, September 30, 2012

Recommended Books

I have recently been reading Make Shift Happen, by Dean Dwyer and Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. I highly recommend both!

Make Shift Happen is all about changing how you think. He uses examples outside of the fat loss world to show you how your thinking cash hold you back or help you get ahead. I found it very inspiring for my life, not just fat loss. The shifts that had the most profound impact for me were:

#17 Think in beta: Consider that you are the beta version of yourself right now, testing to see what works for you and what doesn't and once you test drive some theories, you will upgrade to You 2.0. Following the lead of software engineers where the dream of perfection doesn't get in the way of getting started but rather pushes them to create something that functions but has bugs that will get worked out after being used to figure out what changes to make. This excited me not only for fat loss and realizing that there is no set plan for my body and lifestyle and it will take me some time to figure out weekday works best for me...
I also saw it in my desire to sew. I love sewing and fabrics and dreaming up images of clothes I would make... But the fear of failure along with wishing my body had a different more "fashion" shape has prevented me from even starting. I have been living in places with space to sew, finally, for 11 months now and not sewn a single item of clothing. This has not stopped me from buying fabric and sewing patterns! For some reason, the thought that seeing clothes for the body i have now can NE a beta period of testing out not only fashion but also my sewing skills (which will only improve the more sewing i do) means that when I do have my dream body, by then I will have developed superior sewing skills and will be able to make even better garments (or alter garments I had already made to adjust to my new body!)

#8 Be 911. Could you save yourself in the event of disaster? Could you save a loved one? He writes about survival and what it means physically to be able to save yourself (endurance running, pullups, pushups, swimming 1 km, etc.) And saving a loved one (carrying 80 pounds for a distance, pulling 180 pounds of dead weight). If you needed to pull someone out of the water to safety could you do it? His entire exercise regimen, while being under 30 minutes, another shift, is designed with survival in mind. This gives your workouts a purpose. Not just mindlessly riding a stationary bike and watching the news, but focusing intensely on your workout and knowing you ate working towards a goal that could mean life or death to you our someone you love. Pretty much blew my mind.

There are other shifts that have been inspiring as well, but I don't want to give it all away :)

Practical Paleo has way more than just recipes. She explains the digestion process and how grains, legumes and sugar effect your digestion, mood and body. It also includes several reference sheets to help sum up fats, foods to eat, and a carb index showing you where to get carbohydrates from vegetables. I found her one sheet references on her website before I got the book at Balanced Bites.After some serious GI tract issues last month I am all about healing my gut and the first half of her book explains the science of digestion and HOW TO FIX IT! This is important! I've only just started reading it and flipped a bit through the recipes which look delicious.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Organized kitchen

Having an organized kitchen is going to make is so much more pleasant to cook!

Monday, September 17, 2012

My first frittata!

I hope it is delicious, I am too full from dinner (chocolate beef chili and sweet potato fries that were disappointingly soft) to try it, so I shall wait until breakfast tomorrow! I love an evening of cooking that is not food for the same night! It takes the pressure off timing and feels more fun and experimental rather than a chore. It just means every meal is a leftover!

Friday, September 14, 2012

SUGAR!! Oh, and getting things done

Yesterday I had a bit of sugar, made my teeth hurt and I felt like I had a long drawn out sugar crash through the evening. So I'm going to work hard to cut as much sugar out of my diet as I can. I've found some chocolate bars I can make that use cocoa powder and agave nectar (though from the Amazon preview of the cookbook Practical Paleo Agave is suggested to be avoided). I think I eat too much fruit. I've slowed down on the fruit smoothies since I first got the Blendtec blender. I need to suck it up and go without sugar for a while to get it out of my system.

I've cut out soda and I feel good about it. I still have some hard cider and beer on occasion. I love Crispin Cider so I'm fine not really having beer and just having cider.

Last night we watched Ratatouille. I love that movie. It makes me so excited about cooking, and plating and trying new recipes. Last weekend I spent some time prepping foods (pressing garlic, chopping onions, making Pad Thai sauce) so that we'd have food ready to go for the week. The prepped food lasted about 2.5 days. So this was brilliant to do but I need to do more! As much as I enjoy cooking, when I get home from work or the gym, I hate that we don't eat dinner until about 9pm because prepping food takes a long time.

One part of this is when the kitchen isn't cleaned up the night before, if I leave a few pans in the sink after dinner and get home the next day from work and want to make dinner but first have to do dishes it makes me procrastinate. This leads to an even later dinner. I have a 7 minute commute! I used to have this problem when I had a 45 minute commute and I thought "oh, if only I had a shorter commute, I could eat dinner earlier!" This is not the case I am learning. I need to keep the kitchen ready to go for whenever I want to cook. There was actually a Good Magazine tip about this in 30 days of home cooking.

Looking up "clean kitchen" I found this article from The Kitchn about how to keep your kitchen clean by doing a little something everyday. This is a concept I have been planning/thinking about incorporating into my life - the only want to build a stone wall is one stone at a time. So the quilt I am working on, I'm going to start by gathering the fabrics, then cutting the pieces, then slowly assembling quilt blocks.

I downloaded a desktop timer program to use the Pomodoro Technique to try to focus more on work when I'm working and also in seeking things to help me not only study for my exams but also get things done like chopping up veggies on the weekends, cleaning the house/my woman cave, etc.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Awesome dinner, curry and mashed cauliflower

Mashed garlic cauliflower and red pineapple curry. Eating while watching Ratatouille, quite possibly my favorite movie :)

Cook up 2 bags frozen cauliflower.
In small saucepan, heat up a couple Tbsp coconut oil and a cup of coconut milk, a crushed clove of garlic. Heat up for a few minutes.
Put cauliflower in the food processor with the liquid and blend until smooth. Add Salter and pepper.

For the curry... Coconut oil in hot pan, spoonful of red curry sautee a bit, toss in some thinly sliced onion, sliced zucchini, can of pineapple chunks after drinking most of the juice, shredded 1/4 cabbage. Sautee for a while then pour in a can of coconut milk and add a pound of sliced already cooked chicken thighs (cooked on the George Foreman). Put lid on and simmer!

I was so pleased with this dinner... deliciousness! And paired with Ratatouille?! Now I'm even more excited to cook more! Omnomnom!

Shifting to a budgeted, stationary lifestyle

The hardest part of a food budget is that I know I have enough food for the week and my fridge is getting more and more empty. Normally I would go to the store now and buy more food just to fill it up - I have to keep reminding myself that I have food already for the rest of the week, it just requires thawing some meats and using things in the pantry. (The plan for tonight is grass-fed steak with cauliflower "mashed potatoes" and sauteed kale and spinach; then is red curry with chicken thighs with cucumber to cleanse the palette afterwards.

I've been keeping track of our grocery spending, we're just about to halfway through the month and we are more than halfway through the month's small food budget ($300).

Spending Since Sept 1st (for two people)

TOTAL                   $165.04
Meat                 $60.40
Fruit                         $42.23
Vegetables         $27.16
Alcohol                 $20.02
Spices                 $16.72
Fats                         $16.33
Dairy                 $9.10
Eggs                         $8.99
Sweets                 $8.65
Coffeeshop         $6.00
Nuts + Seeds         $5.89
Restaurants         $3.95 (a Jamba juice)

Internally saying "no" to going out to eat when we're tired and hungry has been difficult, but it has also lead to  making a random stir-fry with whatever veggies and meat we have which always turns out delicious - especially with some coconut amios and Worcestershire sauce! Mmm.

I made soft caramels last weekend, mainly because I wanted to, I'm not really eating them. And now I found this recipe in Imbibe Magazine for Apple Cider Caramels! I very much want to try these.

I have also started a budget spreadsheet where I am keeping track of expenses. I'm adding in big ticket items I know about, average bills that I then update when I actually get the bill, spending as it happens and trying to keep track. I have this vision of the future that is keeping me going. Visions of living debt free, in a house that I own, with a puppy and a garden. Not too much to ask right? So I just need to keep that vision clear every time I want to splurge on something that's not a neccesity in the budget.

The gas budget is a big stumbling block because having a car makes it feel really easy to so somewhere, "Oh my friend is in Seattle? I'll just pop up there for a weekend." Well, the cost of gas is really high and then the expense of buying food when I'm visiting a town where I don't have a kitchen just adds to it. So as much as I love to travel and visit friends - this is going to be a big change for me.

I'm excited about it too though because I will be studying to take my Architect's exam and I have many projects at home, and a lovely fella who I can happily lounge around with at no expense :). When I first moved here back in October of last year, I spent most weekends not at home and wondered why I felt like I wasn't accomplishing any of the things I was so excited to have space and time for now that I didn't live in the Big Apple anymore.

I hadn't stopped my living on the road mentality from the travels of the previous summer. So now, I'm here, I'm buckling down, staying home and studying as well as sewing, learning to cook more things, bonding with local friends and working on fitness. I'm excited about this, but I just have to remind myself of that when I start feeling restless... and maybe go for a jog in the park and hang out with some friends among the trees. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dentist for the first time in like 6 years

I went in for my initial exam and x rays for starting at a new dentist (one I hope to keep for a while as he is located 2 floors above my office!) I had more cavities than I care to utter the number of and the start of tooth decay in many locations. There were cavities between my teeth which he said is a result of poor diet choices. I'm going to list some things that we discussed:

  • When brushing your teeth it's not about pressure, it's about time, 5 seconds in each area
  • He recommended a Sonicare toothbrush and said that would help with my gum sensitivity. Thier office sells them without a markup because he believes in them and wants them to be affordable. I need to inquire what model it is though. 
  • Apparently I never was taught how to floss, just told to do it. He showed me how, taking the floss down the side of each tooth once getting it past the point of contact. Also pushing down on the gum a little bit but the idea of flossing is more to scrape stuff off the teeth
  • Wait at least 20 minutes AFTER you eat something sweet/acidic to brush your teeth. The acid makes your teeth soft and brushing too soon can actually scrape away parts of your teeth. 
  • If you are going to drink a soda, use a straw to keep it off your teeth - that way it just goes straight down your throat without pouring all over your teeth.
  • Cavities on the side (between) teeth is generally caused by diet, and not flossing. 
  • Probably most people know this but hard candies (when you suck on it for a long time) or gummy candies are the worst. They provide the longest exposure to sweets to your teeth causing the most damage.
I told him that I had begun to eat a Paleo diet which he said would help. I was also informed of dietary studies of reversing tooth decay a while back by a friend who was researching it because one of her teeth is dying and she wanted to see what she could do without resorting to a gap or replaced tooth. Basically the gist is avoiding sugars, limiting fruit to 1 piece a day, A DAY! Consuming fish, bone broth and organ meats as well as taking Cod Liver or vitamin D3 supplements. I have also read some reports of people chewing Trident gum with Xylitol and having cativies go away, or even cracked teeth fix themselves. So I'm reading into this a bit more and I think my plan is to get the two big cavities on my right side fixed because I know about them and they make it hard to eat sometimes (and they are big) and see what I can do diet and hygiene wise (getting a Sonicare and stepping up my flossing)  to reverse the issues, or at least stop them in their tracks. 

The x-rays I got were digital and I read something online that the digital x-rays are more powerful/sensitive than traditional films and therefore can pick up more cavities that weren't considered there before. This can mean better preventative work but it can also mean lots of money for dentists filling cavities that previously wouldn't have been found. I told him I wanted to spend as little out of pocket as I can (I have dental insurance, but it doesn't generally cover that much) so it looks like I'll be getting silver fillings rather than white ones. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Semi-daily Journal

Had a banana on my walk to work while the air was cool and wet. I walked a couple extra blocks this morning to be able to go walk along the edge of Bush's Pasture Park on the bark mulch trail. How lovely would it be to have bark mulch sidewalks everywhere instead of concrete? After walking on the trail I feel the desire to go for a hike in the woods in my Vibrams :) The doughnuts smelled SO good when I passed by, but just like yesterday when I saw the cookies in the office kitchen, I reminded myself how crappy I'll feel AFTER I ate them and then chose to ignore.

We went to the grocery store Sunday afternoon around 2:30pm. Holy smokes, never again! It was SO crowded!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Food Journal

Pear, so ripe and juicy

Took out the cardboard in my craft cave so I can get started on my big project, watching Project Runway to get inspired (trying to ignore the drama and just look at how they make clothes!) Also reading up on weight lifting exercises and exercise as it relates to the Paleo lifestyle. I'll be going to the grocery store later and doing a couple hours of cooking/prep so we have some food ready to go for the week!

Morning snack:
4 large cherry tomatoes
2" sq. of Freezer nut/chocolate bar, omnomnom

Paleo Pad Thai from Well Fed, this is quickly becoming a staple in our diet, it is so delicious!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Dayton Fiesta 5k

I ran (jogged/walked) a 5k today! The last time I ran a 5k my time was about 42 minutes, today I did it in 37:19! I'm so proud of myself! I couldn't have done it without my friend Laura running along side me. We were chatting the whole way and when I would walk she'd slow jog next to me :) Hooray for good, supportive friends! The race path was not that interesting but it ended at Seufert Winery where we got food (pulled pork or a veggie wrap) and a beer or wine, in a real glass we got to keep! Yeah perks!

At the race there was a woman promoting her zombie race in October and now we're going to sign up for that! It's a 5k trail race or 1.5 mile race and you can sign up to be a survivor or a zombie. Huge theatrics like zombies rising up out of the water, a helicopter with a spotlight (it's an evening race) and the starting gun is a tank. It's going to be awesome. Signing up this weekend is $10 off! I'm still on the fence about it though cause it's a more intense race than the one I just did... 5k plus obstacles and things jumping out at me. You can just be a spectator though, so maybe I'll do that and get pumped up to do that actual race next year?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Food Journal 9/4/2012

freezer bar

1 cup leftover carne asada and sauteed bell pepper, zucchini, onion, celery and garlic
lettuce-less salad:
  1 cucumber
  2 medium tomatoes
  1/4 red pepper
  1/2 avocado
  sea salt

1 sq. lindt dark chocolate hint of sea salt

2 meat spinach "muffins", also from Well Fed cookbook
bag of Fritos'... damn it working late. I avoided soda at least! And the Frito's tasted burned, and totally disappointing  Need to remember that next time I think I want them!
1 sq. lindt sea salt dark chocolate

Food journal 9/3/2012

4oz coconut milk
handful spinach greens
Now that's a blackberry!
approximately 1 pint of giant Oregon blackberries
3 huge spoonfuls thawed raspberries
6 ice cubes

I spent my morning cooking and it was great! I am remembering that back when I lived in Brooklyn I would spend my Saturdays playing tennis in the park at 7am then hitting the farmer's market then going home and making food for a few hours. The leftovers would feed me for a couple days after. I love to cook and bake! Starting this new way of eating (Paleo) makes it even more exciting! I'm trying to make pretty much everything in the cookbook Well Fed.

I had the little double burger with lettuce wrap instead of bun
and 3 walla walla sweet onion rings. They are so yummy.
I am very proud that I resisted a milk shake, cause those things are delicious!

Paleo Pad Thai from the book Well Fed, except I didn't have any peas in their pods. It was really tasty and I will definitely be making this again! But adding more green veggies :)
2 (12oz) bottles Crispin Apple Cider (so yummy!)
Mostly Paleo freezer Nut bar!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Food Journal

Breakfast: (around 11am)
2 pcs Applewood smoked bacon from Trader Jose, best bacon!
1 pint strawberries
1/2 pint blackberries
2 huge serving spoonfuls of raspberries (thawed)
2 handfuls spinach
6 ice cubes

Snack (2:30pm):
~1.5" Square of mostly Paleo freezer bar

I just spent the last hour and a half cleaning and reorganizing the kitchen. It feels great! We got a whole bunch of containers so I can prep foods on the weekend and then throw things together during the week. I got the idea, well, I got more specific instructions on how to make this actually work!, from the book Well Fed. Today I want to try out the spinach-egg muffins (sounds gross but think of it like a mini frittatta and then it sounds delicious!) and the Paleo Pad Thai. We both love pad thai so it's kind of a bummer not to have it anymore. I hope this replacement satisfies that craving :)

Linner (4:30pm):
Sweet potato fries
left over sauteed ground grass-fed beef, onion and zucchini cooked in coconut oil

Banana chips
I think these have sugar in them... no mas!

Gin & tonic... totally not Paleo!

Dinner totally late at about 10pm:
Carne asada (think sliced beef my fella baked int eh oven with some spices)
julienned red pepper, zucchini, onion
chopped celery
sauteed in coconut oil and he added a splash of coconut aminos

I had just finished watching some knife skills youtube videos and wanted to julienne everything! I did use my mandoline for the zucchini though :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mostly-Paleo Freezer Bars

These are not wholey paleo with the addition of the chocolate but good for a treat! A small treat since it's all nuts and seeds! Inspired by my aunt's bars.

All nuts are unsalted and raw:
1/2 c Hazelnuts
1/2 c Almonds
1/2 c Walnuts
1/2 c Cashews
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c dry shredded coconut
2 heaping spoonfuls raw honey
3 heaping spoonfuls coconut oil
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Blend together in food processor (slowly adding each nut might get you a finer texture and more even mix).
Press into an even layer in an 8" x 8" pan
Nut mixture pressed into the bottom of the pan

In a double boiler, melt
approximately 14 ounces of chocolate
2 Tbsp butter

Pour melted chocolate over nut layer, evenly spread with rubber spatula making sure not to disturb nut layer below. Let come to room temperature then place in freezer.
Melty chocolate spread evenly
Once it's been frozen for a while (I waited overnight but I'm sure a couple hours would be fine) cut out a small slice! They are pretty rich bars and they do need to be kept in the freezer to keep from becoming gooey piles of nuts and chocolate. You might be able to do without the chocolate and keep a bar form but with more coconut oil. Because coconut oil is solid when it's cold and liquid when it's warm it can be used as a binder.

The first bite was delicious!
Experiment with whatever nuts or seeds you have on hand or prefer. My aunt was making bars like this all last summer and they were a great dessert or mid afternoon snack, one little bar and you're good! She didn't have a recipe so when I asked her how to make it, she explained a very organic process in which she used whatever she felt like using! I wanted to write it down so that if it worked and I liked it, I could re-create and share :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Food Spending + Shopping on a budget

I love data. Charts, spreadsheets, lists... these things make me feel like all is right in the world.
I started in the middle of last month (8/19) keeping track of my food spending ina spreadsheet knowing that we were making the switch to Paleo.

This is the chart for food spending for the end for August. The categories could use some refining, there was one item on a receipt that I couldn't tell what it was so I think also filling out the spreadsheet as soon as I get the frozen and fridge goods put away is going to be necessary as store receipts can be very hard to read. I want to include restaurant meals as well, though preferably there will not be a lot of restaurant meals because a) eating Paleo at restaurants is kind of a pain b) eating out is expensive c) I'm kind of a picky eater and just plain prefer the way I make things a lot of the time!

Here is this month's chart starting with today's trip to the farmer's market. Categories will be added as they come up and I will re-post the chart at the end of the month. This chart is for two people, I will try to get my fella's receipts to include when he does grocery shopping as well. One of the arguments people have against Paleo is the expense of things. We won't be buying any bread, cereals, ice cream, or much cheese so we'll save money in those categories, as you can see below, our meat category may be a bit high but meat makes the feeling of fullness last longer and veggies and fruit will fill us up!

A few thoughts on saving money on food:

  • Think really hard if a CSA is right for you. We got a CSA and divided by the weeks it's $27/week for a tub of organic food. The problem is it includes things I don't like (fennel) or things I can't eat (white potatoes). If had done a little more research I did find another CSA that would have been $20/week. My issue is that I don't think I'm getting my money's worth. I love the idea of a CSA, supporting farmers at the front end of the season when they need they financial help and then getting what feels like a free box of produce once a week. I just feel like I end up wasting a lot of food or being disappointed in what I get. There are some CSAs with a different format where you assemble your box yourself based on what's available (this is the type of CSA I had in the past in Brooklyn,NY) , but it's still the same price. 
  • Shop at the farmer's market. When produce is in season and super available the prices at the farmer's market will be much cheaper than at the grocery store in order to get rid of excess product. The quality of meat available at the farmer's market is better. Knowing your farmer, you can ask questions about how the meat is produced and if you felt so inclined you could probably arrange a visit. This is important if you are that kind of foodie (which I am) but also, you are keeping your money local and helping people and small businesses rather than corporations. 
  • Buy things in bulk. If it's something you eat a lot of (I'm about to start hunting down large quantities of coconut oil) the bigger quantity you can buy (and store properly) the cheaper price you should be able to get. I decided we'd start out with smaller amounts though, while figuring out what we eat exactly and to give me time to find the best deals.
  • Shop around, but don't spend so much on gas getting between different stores that you negate your savings! We have a Costco membership but don't really go that often. I'm trying to keep track of how much things cost and what store they came from so that I can figure out, in my town, where the best deals are. Safeway and Roth's have online copies of their weekly fliers which you can check before going shopping to see if the items you are shopping for are on sale. 
  • Make smoothies when fruits (and veggies if you have a good blender) start getting a little less cosmetically appealing, you can still use them in smoothies without wasting them
  • Learn how to properly store your food. The longer you can keep your perishables fresh the less you'll waste. Saving money on food is part finding a good price for things and part not wasting what you've purchased already. It's too easy to forget the cost of materials when paying for it is behind you but that's money sitting on your counter or in your fridge or freezer. Don't let things go bad, and if they do get beyond consumption, compost what you can and give it back to the earth!
Geeze, I forgot how much I enjoy blogging :) I hope you'll continue to read as I find my blog voice :)

My first Salem Saturday market haul!

OMG, in love with this farmer's market! There is also a year round indoor market at the Salem Public Market. The Salem Public Market is actually just down the street from my house so in trying to save money I could really easily walk there, especially if I got myself a shopping cart of some sort for the walk back. I would love to go grocery shopping once a week and get everything I need at the market. Then I could go once a month or so to a bigger grocery store for things like oils and spices and whatnot. I've started doing some meal planing thanks to tips found in the Paleo cookbook Well Fed. I'll get into this more, especially once I figure it out a little more :)

Part of Paleo is eating grass-fed and pasture raised meat and eggs and eating organic produce. Unfortunately pastured eggs run about $7/doz at the farmer's market. This is ridiculously expensive so I won't be purchasing those eggs any time soon. After reading Ominivore's Dilemma and watching Food Inc., I prefer to spend the extra money the further up the food chain I go. You are what what you eat eats!

My Haul:
$2.50 Kale
$3.45 peaches (@ 1.75/lb)
$2 for 2 red peppers
$1 for 2 zucchini
$3.90 (@ $1/lb) 3 apples & some pears
$6 buffalo jerky
$40.70 Grass fed longhorn beef sampler pack (frozen)
    2 Sirloin steaks
    2 ribeye steaks
    2 lb ground beef
    1 lb beef patties
$15 flat of berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries)
$3 lamb stick two
$36.85 subtotal without meats
$77.55 TOTAL

On the ride home picked up Dutch brothers
$3.50 Medium Carmelizer for the fella
$2.50 Medium hot chocolate for myself!
$6.00 TOTAL

I am a berry fiend! I freaking LOVE berries. When I moved back to the PNW last summer it was peak berry season and I had big ol' bug eyes when I went to a farmers market in Seattle and could just smell berries in the air and I divined my way over to the berry stand, bought a 4 snack pack of berries (4 1/2 pints), went back to my friend's place and just ate a big bowl of berries. Heaven!

Next summer I'm going to be more on top of U-pick farms. Price is a huge reason to do U-pick. A pint of berries in season at the farmer's market is about $3. A pound of blueberries at the place I went was $1.10. For a POUND of berries!!! I picked up a 7.7 cubic foot upright freezer when it was on sale at Home Depot after moving into a bigger place, and it's got a lot of berries in it, but not nearly enough to feed my berry habit through the winter (aka-non-berry season). My only rule for doing U-pick is that once a berry is in the bucket, you can't eat it! I think that may have been my mom's rule when I was a kid :P

Next summer, I'd like to pick and freeze blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and peaches. I'm hoping to do apple picking later this month and make apple chips and apple sauce. I was super excited to get into preserving this summer but I just haven't been home enough. So... next summer :)