Monday, August 25, 2014

My trip to New York City

I went to NYC with my long-time friend G to see her son perform in a play and celebrate his birthday.  I also got a lot of other unplanned treats, like seeing my cousin, and one more I'll mention later.  We had a great time and did a lot of things in the 5 days we were there.  I no longer try to force myself to follow my diet because I want to spend my mental energy and thoughts on other things.  So I had no expectations for what would happen, but I knew if I wanted to stay on plan, it would be easy.  And it was and it didn't interfere with anyone else's plans.

We went grocery shopping on the first day, because two of us wanted groceries (me and the boy).  I got a few cans of beans and some fruit.  I already had some nuts and dried mangos that I brought with me.  They didn't have any no-sodium cans of beans, just low-sodium, which had whopping amounts of sodium--I wonder what the normal-sodium cans had in them.  So I rinsed the beans before eating.  There are fruit stands and small grocery stores all over the place in NYC with plentiful fruit and nuts.  At one point, I found a Whole Foods store, and also a really good grocery with good lettuce and spinach.  So I got my greens in as well as the fruit and nuts and beans.  I had plenty to eat. I usually ate my dinner before we went out for dinner and drinks and there I enjoyed a club soda with lime while my friends enjoyed their food and drinks.  Breakfast and lunch for my friends were take-out or eat-in so I could eat my food with no problem.  I had no desire to eat anything they were eating, but...

I did go off-plan once for a small dessert.  It's a long story, but at the recommendation of a friend, I had very recently read this memoir of a chef, Gabrielle Hamilton ("Blood, Bones, & Butter").  It was interesting and well-written, which are the two ingredients for a good book to me--subject matter is less important to me.  She is about as far away from vegan as you can be.  Well, she has a restaurant in the lower East side of Manhattan.  After the Friday afternoon showing of the play, when we were in a restaurant eating (casual enough for me to eat my bring-along food), I thought, hey, I wonder if Gabrielle's restaurant, Prune, is nearby.  I checked my iPhone, and discovered it was only a few blocks away!   So we had to go there and I wanted to post a picture to my friend's Facebook page and make her really jealous.  When we got there, G said "let's see if we can get dessert," and amazingly, they had a table we could use for 30 minutes.   So I did order a dessert and a small glass of port.  It was very enjoyable and very simple:  a sliced fresh peach on a small piece of buttered toast (home-made), with some sugar on top.  I thought it was worth it.  The port was also very enjoyable, especially stimulating to a non-drinker like myself.  I paid for the three of us since it was my idea to come there, and after I got the bill I thought, well, maybe that wasn't worth it after all, haha.  No, it was fun, and really fun making my friend from back home jealous.

My only other digression was that I bought some raw cashews for a treat and ate way too many.  I ate that with fruit while others were eating birthday cake and brownies and drinking beer; on multiple occasions (there was also this famous cake store where they had lots of treats).  I figured the cashews and fruit might be a good psychological tactic and it seemed to work.  And I ate carrots in the movie theater while they ate popcorn and soda.  I love carrots like they love popcorn.

It was a great trip.  My food choices didn't interfere with anyone's fun, except perhaps G, who I worried was feeling self-conscious about her food choices.  I asked her to not let food interfere with our friendship or fun.  I have another old friend who doesn't like me anymore because of my food choices so I know this can happen.  I know G wouldn't be that way but I also don't want her to feel self-conscious.  One interesting tidbit is that I didn't wear out like my companions who needed lots of coffee in the mornings, haha.

Intermittent Fasting

Somehow I stumbled on a couple of talks and interviews with Dr. Mark Mattson, maybe from one of the Healthy Librarian's Facebook posts--she has a lot of interesting posts.   First, I saw this Ted talk.   Then I found this interview with him and Dr. Michael Mosley and Dr. Valter Longo on the Diane Rehm show.  So then I read Dr. Mosley's book, which is very good.  He prefers the 5-2 diet, where you eat normally 5 days a week, and eat 1/4 your normal calories 2 days a week.  That didn't sound as appealing to me as the "fast-8" diet, where you eat in an 8 hour window every day.  Both seem to have positive effects on insulin sensitivity and blood pressure and cholesterol, even for those eating the Standard American Diet.

I started the fast-8 plan almost 4 weeks ago, with the expectation that I wouldn't like it, but I'll try it for a day and see how awful it is.  Well, it wasn't awful at all and I felt great the next day.  I like to exercise in the morning, and, behold, that feels better on an empty stomach.  I was hungry at night for a few days but then that went away.  I guess most people eat their meals between noon and 8 pm, but I prefer 9 am - 5 pm--I have a lot of evening meetings and don't want to eat late at night, plus I like breakfast.  I expected I would pig out too much during the 8 hour window and then feel deprived during the 16 hour window.  Neither happened.  I enjoyed eating what and when I wanted and during the 8-hour window.  Then I enjoyed not eating the rest of the time and busy-ing myself with other things.  I've lost 5 lbs and it doesn't feel like I'm trying. I'd like to lose 10-15 more--that's the weight I've gained the last 2 years.  Plus I feel better.

Interestingly, this is the sort of eating that Dr. Fuhrman promotes with his recommendations to reach the true hunger stage before eating (at least some of the time).  I'm finding myself gravitating back to the Fuhrman diet because I feel better not eating too many starchy foods.  I also like eating some nuts and seeds every day.  I talked about that some in this post too.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I modified this waffle recipe from Cathy Fisher, and it is perfect to me and super easy to make--I make the batter up in the blender.  I'm amazed how good it is. We had house guests three times this week, and twice we made waffles. Housemate makes traditional waffles only a few times a year, when we have house guests. So she did that for the first set of guests, and I did Cathy Fisher's recipe for myself.  It was good but I found the corn meal a little too crunchy for my tastes (I used polenta which is coarse ground).  I thought I could modify it to make it better for my tastes and easier.  I tried it out today on the kids we had over. We didn't bother with housemate's waffles because we wanted to play more instead of taking time in the kitchen.  So I made mine and everyone loved them. This is great news because my recipe is easier than housemate's and we can all enjoy them.  So here's my recipe.

Ingredients for 3 or more people (halve the recipe for 1-2 people):
2 cups non-dairy milk or water (I used home-made almond milk)
3 medjool dates
2 Tbsp almond butter (I actually didn't use any since I had the almond milk and they turned out fine).
2 cups rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla


1.  Add 1/2 of the milk or water to the blender with the dates and almond butter and let soak for 15 minutes.
2.  Turn on the waffle iron.  I use this one, the same as Cathy Fisher.  It seems to work great.  I put it on the middle setting, following her recommendation.
2.  Blend up the stuff in the blender.
3. Add 1/2 the oats and blend
4.  Add the rest of the liquid and the rest of the oats and blend
5.  add the cinnamon, vanilla and baking powder, and do a final mix (very quick blend at low power, just to mix)
6.  Transfer to a bowl if you wish for easier scooping into the waffle iron.
7.  When the waffle iron is ready, pour 1/2 cup into the center, cook until ready (you have to experiment for your iron).  The longer you cook, the less the waffles will stick.  I find that wooden chopsticks work great for getting the waffles out.
8.  Serve immediately.  I top with a date-water-fruit puree and/or chopped fruit.

I was so busy with the guests I didn't take pictures, but I'll do that next time.  This is one of my favorite treats.  It's pretty calorie-rich depending on how many waffles you eat.  If I were to make a half-recipe, I'd probably use 1.5 dates in the waffle mix and maybe 1.5 dates in the topping, so that would be 1/2 oz of almond butter, 3 dates, and 1 cup of oats, or about 600 calories, not including fruit.  That's a hefty meal if I eat  it myself, but maybe I can get housemate to share with me. That would make 1 big waffle for each of us.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

another good description of how to eat

From Dr. McDougall's latest newsletter:

The pictures of what to eat are so appealing!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

mashed potatoes and gravy!

Our kitchen remodel is finally done and I think I'd be happy with any kitchen after 8 weeks without, but I'm very happy with ours.  Today I made mashed potatoes and gravy!  It was good good good!  

Here's the kitchen.

Who cares, here's the mashed potatoes, gravy and greens!

Dessert was watermelon.  Dinner was mashed potatoes, gravy, and sugar snap peas; and watermelon for dessert again.

The gravy is fabulous and guilt-free.  To make this delicious food, I cooked up some beans the old fashioned way, on the stove after soaking overnight.  In the pressure cooker I put potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and garlic cloves with some water and cooked them.  These were cut into big chunks for easy separation later (didn't cut the garlic or mushrooms).   After cooking, I whipped the potatoes along with some of the garlic, a little onion, and liquid from cooking.  I blended the beans with their cooking water and the garlic in a blender, then added the onion and mushrooms and Italian seasoning and just pulsed it so they were still chunky.   Most people would also want to add in soy or tamari sauce or salt to the gravy.   It's fun being able to load on the gravy and knowing that it's all healthy!   Housemate likes this too.  We'll have it again tomorrow since I have lots of gravy left over.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

how to eat

This pretty much sums it up!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

favorite oatmeal

not the favorite but one of my favorites:

oats, curry powder and spinach.   easy to make in your hotel room but good enough to eat at home too.   Tomorrow's will be oats, strawberry, bananas, blueberries, and cinnamon.