Friday, March 21, 2014

crazy busy

Sorry I haven't posted lately.  I have three part-time jobs and I'm trying to remain calm.  Today was the first day I felt overwhelmed and cranky.   I've been enjoying lots of easy food and minimal prep and have had lots of things I wanted to share, like eating similar things for a few days at a time to save time, and various surprisingly good veggie combos made from whatever was on special at the co-op and whatever was on hand.  I've taken pictures occasionally.   I'll try to post more soon.  maybe sunday.  Tomorrow I'll be gone from 8 am until 10 pm.  I have 2 potlucks.  Tonight I cooked up a bunch of sweet potatoes and some broccoli.  It was really easy.  I'll take them to both potlucks along with some butter and maple syrup--for everyone else.  I suppose I should bring some salt too for them to put on their broccoli.  okay I'd better go try to sleep.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

This week's food

As I mentioned last week, I now have two part-time jobs and an ambitious exercise schedule, so I don't want to do much food prep during the week.  I cooked and froze this weekend so I think all I have to do every day is make a couple of salads (only two ingredients: lettuce and red bell pepper), cut and peel a pound of carrots for snacking, and throw a sweet potato in the oven.  Here is what I did:

Yesterday I made a big pot of greens, onion and mushroom.  I still have frozen kale and collards from the garden in big freezer bags.  I cook those up in the pressure cooker and dish out into single servings to freeze (there were 7).   I also opened a 1 lb bag of beans to soak overnight.

Today I cooked up the beans in one pot, and cooked up a bunch of veggies in another--onions, beets, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower---then combined them and put them into 11 bowls to freeze (left 2 out for tomorrow).  I also made a big batch of salad dressing that I put into 5 small bell jars to freeze (left 1 out for tomorrow).   The dressing was fun.  I used 2 cans of tomatoes, and some onion, garlic, cilantro, flax and chia seeds, blended that all in the blender, and poured into the bell jars.  The fun part was I added different seasonings to each jar.  I don't remember exactly but I put something like cumin and chipotle powder in one, curry and singapore seasoning in another, cumin and chili powder and cajun seasoning in another, Italian and Bouqui garni in another, and garam masala and curry in another.  I thought of adding seasonings to the beans and veggies but they are so flavorful on their own, I didn't want to.  Here are the salad dressings with the extremely messy kitchen in the background.  I had a lot of cleanup after that cooking:


So breakfast will be baked sweet potato and greens after exercise; lunch and dinner will be salad and beans and veggies; and carrot sticks for snacks.   No fruit on the menu this week.  I had a delicious grapefruit today but otherwise, am more in the mood for sweet potatoes than fruit this week.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Update on nuts and seeds

Here are a few background posts on my ramblings about nuts:

Some older posts I think are still relevant:

here is a uTube clip of Jeff Novick showing how flawed the nut studies are:

here are some articles promoting the no-nut route:

Here's my most recent blog post expressing confusion about the whole thing:

And here is my view today, at 5:19 pm (could change any minute).  I've been logging my calories for the past week to help guide me in the process. I want to keep my fat percentage above 10%, unlike I was doing a lot of last year when I didn't even eat flaxseeds much of the time (I was consistently at 7%).  I haven't been eating nuts, but I've added back in some higher fat foods like home-made soy yogurt or edamame or occasional avocado (notice I said "or", as I'm trying to lose a few pounds), and I'm eating about 1 Tbsp of seeds per day, usually in my dressing.  My seed mixture contains flax, sesame, hemp, and chia.  All except sesame are high in omega-3 fats.  My fat percentage has consistently been about 10-15% which is in the range suggested by Drs. Esselstyn and Campbell, and not so much by Dr. Fuhrman (he prefers higher).  I'm getting plenty of vitamin E (about 107% recommended) from the vast amount of carrots and green vegetables I eat (I like them!).  I'm getting about 1.5 gm of omega-3 fats and 2.9 g of omega-6, which is enough and at the ideal ratio according to a lot of the plant-based doctors (except Furhman who says the ratio doesn't matter if the fat sources are from healthy whole foods like nuts and avocado).  I'm loving the soy yogurt.  See yesterday's post for how I eat it.  

Based on this, I don't see any reason to add nuts to my diet, except for the enjoyment of them, but not because there is a dietary need for them.  I'd rather not have large quantities in the house because I occasionally overindulge in them.  When I do that, I suffer from unpleasant burps, YUCK.  Plus I am a person with low-calorie needs (the model of efficiency!  or menopause), and nuts every single day squeezes out things I might enjoy a little more.  So I'm okay with nuts when I want them but I don't think they need to be a part of my every single day diet.  One way I can envision enjoying nuts occasionally is to buy some raw cashews for when I go out to eat and sprinkle them on my salad. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Meal plans, a salad dressing, and some thoughts on eating out

1)  I took a second part-time job, which I'm excited about, but I'm going to be busy now and I need to be efficient with my food prep.   Here's my idea for a plan:   Cook a big pot of soup on the weekend and split into 5-7 bowls for the week (at least 5 for the weekdays).   Cook a big pot of greens and onions and mushrooms (I still have lots of kale and collards in the freezer from the garden) and split into 5-7 bowls for the week.  Freeze some of them for the later days of the week.  Make a batch of soy yogurt (1 qt of soy milk conveniently makes 7 servings).  Then each weekday I just have to prepare breakfast, a big salad, and carrots and celery for snacks  It will look something like today's food:

Breakfast was the first organic strawberries of the season from California!  --along with some frozen (thawed in the microwave) blueberries, mango and cherries topped with home-made soy yogurt.  it was excellent!

Morning snack was carrots and celery:

Lunch was my favorite salad right now:  lettuce, a little raw spinach, red bell pepper, frozen corn (thawed), edamame (optional, didn't have any today), and "salsa salad dressing" (at left):

2)  Here's the salad dressing recipe.
Ingredients:
1 can tomatoes
1 Tbsp seeds (my mixture is flax, sesame, chia and hemp hearts)
small amount of raw onion (really small for me, about 1-2 Tbsp chopped)
1/2 garlic clove or less
cilantro (to taste, optional)
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp high-quality balsamic vinegar (sweet tasting), or 1 oz lime juice
sprinkle of chipotle powder

Blend part of the tomatoes and juice, onion, seeds, garlic at high speed.  Then add the rest of the tomatoes and cilantro and seasonings and cilantro and just blend for a few seconds to coarsely chop.
Enjoy!

afternoon snack is more carrots and celery (my favorite snack and the carrots are one of the other few local foods available in Wisconsin this time of year).

Dinner is soup over lettuce and spinach, topped with soy yogurt.
I forgot to snap a picture of my bowl of cooked broccoli.  I really love refrigerated cooked broccoli.  That is cooked, then cooled.  It's sweet tasting.

3)  Here are some thoughts about restaurant eating.  It is still a problem for me.  This is because I imagine that people think I'm weird and crazy on the one hand which makes me feel weird and crazy, and on the other hand I don't want to compromise my diet just to please others (thought I will compromise to please myself unfortunately).  I don't want to eat oil and salt, which makes most restaurant food off-limits.  My strategy lately has been to order a salad with no dressing and top it with contraband that I bring into the restaurant.  I had some success last week when an old friend visited.  I enjoyed my salads and was happy.  But afterwards, I wanted to pig out and go off plan, partly because I used to party with this guy, eating, drinking and being merry.  And I did pig out on nuts and go off plan a little bit on chips and hummus.  It's ironic that I behave in the restaurant and then misbehave afterwards.   I had better success yesterday when I was out with some good friends that I don't have a history of partying with.  We were at a Mexican restaurant and I ordered a plate of lettuce and tomato and avocado (which was quite good and nicely plated), and I added some split pea soup (that's just what I would have had anyway).  It was really good.  Now the real success was that I had almost no urges to pig out or go off plan when I got home (maybe just a slight pig-out urge but it was easy to ignore).  Maybe this is because I had earlier apologized to my friends for being so weird about food and they said, you're okay, you're normal, and anyway, what's normal and who wants to be normal in this screwed up society that values consumerism and selfishness etc? And that made me feel better somehow. I'm going to have a lot more social events in the next few month,s as I'm on the search team for a minister at my congregation and we will be wining (maybe) and dining candidates for several weekend-long visits.  My desire not to compromise is bigger than my desire not to be weird, but I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable and I don't want to make myself uncomfortable either.  I like my salad plan and think I can make it work.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Today's food

I'm playing a fun game called "Empty the fridge before my next grocery shopping trip."  I didn't do my usual grocery run yesterday because I ate less of my food when my visitor was here (ate too many nuts and restaurant salads).  I think I can make my produce last until my next regularly scheduled run (Tuesday evening).

I've also been playing with cronometer which is fun.  Neal Barnard says you should get vitamin E to fight alzheimers, and he says almonds are a good source.  But it's fun to compare to other foods.  It turns out sunflower seeds have even more.  For a 10 g serving (about a Tbsp), sunflower seeds have 3.5 mg of vitamin E compared to 3 for almonds. For the same number of calories (about 60), my serving of cooked greens has 2.1 mg, which is a good dose.  And a pound of carrots has 3 mg!  I love raw carrots, have I mentioned that before?  Of course, Dr Campbell says not to micromanage your food and just eat a variety of whole foods.  But it's fun to see that when people say to eat almonds for vitamin E, you don't really have to.  When I plug in my typical meals, I'm coming out to 100% of the recommended amounts for vitamin E, even without nuts or sunflower seeds, because of the green veggies (they have everything!) and carrots.  Dr. Campbell says you should eat about 10% of your calories as fat (and 10% protein and 80% carbohydrates). Dr. Fuhrman recommends not going so low in fat: he says anywhere from 15% and up is okay depending on your needs and activity level.  As long as I eat some seeds, and maybe some edamame and soy yogurt, I can get above 10% fat.  

Back to emptying my fridge and today's food, I made this veggie side dish from onions, shitake mushrooms, cabbage, spinach and penzeys's curry powder.  It's really good!  I had half for dinner and I'll have the rest tomorrow.  Breakfast was an apple.  Lunch was a classic:
That's a serving of greens (from the freezer) and a baked Japanese sweet potato.  I was gone all morning so put in the potato to cook before I left (housemate took it out when it was done) and took out the greens from the freezer.   The rest of dinner is a big salad with lettuce, red bell pepper, edamame and a dressing made from orange juice, strawberry balsamic vinegar and ground seeds (flax, sesame, chia, hemp).  I'll eat that when house-mate returns with her Superbowl pizza.  And I ate a bunch of raw carrots and celery. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

good salad and an update

I've been enjoying this salad lately:


It's got lettuce, red bell pepper, sometimes purple cabbage, corn, edamame.  The dressing is canned tomato blended with a little onion, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, cumin (optional), and some ground seeds or nuts if you want.

I had a house guest for a few days this week.  We went out to restaurants a few times.  I have to get better at enjoying restaurants. I don't like being a weirdo but I don't want to eat the tons of salt and oil you get at restaurants.  So I ordered plain salads and topped them with my own contraband.  They were good and I was happy eating my food.  I just wish I didn't feel like a weirdo, wondering if people think I have an eating disorder, etc.   I also ate too much of my food--way too many nuts.  That is partly due to wanting to celebrate with food--I used to enjoy having coffee and wine and good food with this friend.   Why does food have to be so psychological?  I wish I were in a better place with this.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

confused about nuts

For about 1.5 years, I cut back on my fat intake, following the recommendations of Drs. McDougall and Esselstyn in their most strict programs (Maximum Weight Loss or MWL for McDougall, and "plant-perfect" for Esselstyn, or the Captain's plan for Engine 2).   The tradeoff with cutting out the nuts is that I got to eat more starches:  potatoes, sweet potatoes, and grains.  That seemed like a good deal to me.  When you eat no nuts, avocados, coconut, oils, meat, soy, your fat percentage goes down to about 7%.  Mine did anyway---except when I went off plan, which was more than I would have liked, haha.  Well, my nails and hair don't seem as healthy anymore, so for about the last month I started back with some nuts and seeds, just an ounce a day.  Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating the following nuts: walnuts, pistachios, and almonds; and the following seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, sesame, chia and flax.  So I bought them all and mixed them up and that's what I eat.  I think 1 oz of nuts overlaps with all the plant-based doctors' plans except for the more extreme versions mentioned above.  But I still get confused by a lot of the things they say.  I mean, do they really disagree about 1 oz of nuts?

Here are some of the anti-nut arguments: Jeff Novick points out numerous flaws in the nut studies, which I agree with. Here's an excerpt from one of his talks pointing out some of those flaws.  But he also said an ounce of nuts won't hurt you in one of his nuts DVDs. Then here's a quote from Dr. Esselstyn's Facebook page a few days ago:
My preference is no nuts for heart disease patients. That also eliminates peanuts and peanut butter even though peanuts are officially a legume. For those with established heart disease to add more saturated fat that is in nuts is inappropriate. For people with no heart disease who want to eat nuts and avocado and are able to achieve a cholesterol of 150 and LDL of 80 or under without cholesterol lowering drugs, some nuts and avocado are acceptable. No nuts for heart disease patients, includes peanuts and peanut butter, even though peanuts are officially a legume.
Am I a heart disease patient?  No, but all these guys say that everyone who eats the Standard American diet has heart disease, so I don't know, maybe I do have it since I sometimes go off plan and eat SAD food. And the coaches at E2X recommend no nuts when you are trying to lose weight.  Same with McDougall's MWL program.  And Chef AJ lost all her weight when she gave up nuts. And Jeff Novick talks about calorie density and satiation and says potatoes are more satiating than nuts.  So that all leads me to think I shouldn't eat nuts while trying to lose weight and I'll be more satiated if I eat the starches instead of the nuts (I want to lose 10 lbs).   Jeff Novick argues that nuts aren't nutrient dense, they are fat dense.  It's easy to see that in a calorie counting program like cronometer.   You get more nutrients from (lots of) leafy green vegetables, and that includes omega-3 fats and vitamin E.

Fuhrman cites the nut studies which doesn't convince me since the other guys point out the flaws in them, and the nut studies are funded by the nut industry.  But he also cites his experience with patients which does carry weight for me.  Plus I have the study on myself.  I need a few more months to see what the results are--it takes a while to grow new nails.  But I am finding myself satiated by nuts and I enjoy eating nuts with my fruit more than oats. 1 oz of nuts/seeds per day raises my fat percentage to about 15%.  I recall Jeff Novick stating (somewhere) that our ancestors probably ate about 15% fat because they ate a little meat.  The nuts/seeds are similar to meat in their fat content.  Maybe that's a good and healthy thing.  Dr. Barnard recommends almonds for vitamin E which is good for alzeimer's prevention.  I noticed that sunflower seeds are also high in vitamin E.   But again, you can get it from leafy green vegetables.  But it seems to me it's good to have a mixture.  It's more enjoyable too.  And even though our ancestors maybe didn't have access to a daily dose of a variety of nuts, it doesn't mean you shouldn't take advantage of them if they are available to you.  And following the advice of Dr. Campbell in his book "Whole", nuts and seeds might have a symphony of things that work for your body.  Heck if I know.

It seems nitpicky to argue about 1 oz of nuts/seeds.  I don't know why I get hung up on this.  I guess i just want someone to tell me what the best way to eat is and these guys are telling me slightly different things and they also seem to dislike each other which is kind of depressing.  This probably just shows that I am being way too neurotic.  So I should probably just ignore them all and do a study on myself.  Here was today's breakfast by the way:  pear, blueberries, mixed nuts and seeds:
I had this with oats instead a few days ago because I ran out of nuts.  It wasn't as good.  Now I didn't cook the oats.  I do like oatmeal--but it always needs something to make it taste good, it's bland all by itself and that's not true of nuts.  But this brings me to my next issue which is that I seem to prefer lower glycemic foods. I'm just going by how I feel, not but any studies or measuring my blood sugar (no thanks), because of course those guys argue about that too and McDougall and Novick say it's meaningless.  For me, potatoes don't bother me but sweet potatoes by themselves and over-cooked oatmeal and brown rice kind of bother me, make me feel a little bla.  But sweet potatoes mixed with a meal are fine and delicious, so I'm not giving them up anytime soon.  But I feel better with beets, rutabaga and lots of beans.  beans and veggies.  which sounds like the Fuhrman plan.  Then there are the leeways.  Engine 2 and McDougall are more lenient about salt and sugar and breads and I don't do well with that leniency.  Well, I am just going to do my study of one and see what works best for me.   time to stop rambling and go to bed....