Thursday, April 20, 2017

The challenge is off

Wow, that challenge was a huge mistake for me.  I was doing perfectly fine before I did this challenge, eating healthy, following UWL.   I do have this notion that I want to go a whole year just to see what it's like to go through all the seasons and a myriad of social situations.  But I raised the bar too high I guess.  I totally went off plan today and I haven't done that in months.  I'm tempted to delete all these posts but maybe they are a good reminder to me and anyone else.  Just pick a plan, follow it the best you can, and don't raise the bar too high, that's my advice.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

That challenge is totally stupid

I can't believe I set up that stupid challenge publicly.  I bet I don't even last a day.  Someone was just talking about peanut butter and I thought, shoot, I should have got some peanut butter before starting up this challenge!  why am I denying myself nuts?  and a little salt occasionally?  I'm setting myself up for failure.  oh well, so far I'm halfway through the day.  it's not hard, I just think it's doomed to failure.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My year-long "ironman" vegan challenge

I would like to try the experiment merging Dr. Goldhamer’s and Chef AJ’s diet and doing it for 1 year.  This is the most strict diet of all the plant-based diets.  It is like the ironman of vegan diets:  no oil, sugar, flour, salt, alcohol, chocolate, and no nuts and seeds either!  It’s essentially Chef AJ’s Ultimate Weight Loss program, which I currently follow, but she recommends full abstinence only from sugar, flour and alcohol (and probably chocolate), and leaves some wiggle room for the others.  Oh, and I'm not going to take any supplements either, besides vitamin E and some nori when I feel like it (for iodine).  I'm curious to see if I have any adverse effects from lack of supplemental vitamin D and all the others.

Why?  Well, when I eat this way, it’s actually super easy, surprisingly, and the food tastes good—my taste buds really sensitize and I taste so many flavors and sweetness in vegetables and fruit.  And my cravings disappear.  And I can eat as much as I want and my weight doesn’t increase, and if anything I lose weight.  And I can eat all the potatoes and sweet potatoes and squash as I want and those are my favorite foods. 

But what about the salt?  That is really extreme.  I mean, what if I’m at a WFPB potluck and the food is perfectly compliant except it has just a little bit of salt?  Well, it’s just a year.  If it’s too ridiculous, I can change my mind in a year and allow some salt.  What if I’m hiking all day in hot weather in the Grand Canyon or some other desert?  Well, I’ve done that twice and both times I only added about 1/8 tsp of salt each day, which is only about 300 mg.  My dehydrated food has celery and other vegetables and probably has plenty of sodium.  But I always bring salt for emergencies so can use it if I think I need it.

But why no nuts and seeds?  Well, sometimes I overeat them and get a stomach ache.  And I’m curious to see if I can get all those omega-3 fatty acids I need with just my veggies.  I guess I can’t help thinking that all those long-lived healthy blue zone societies didn’t have ready access to daily flax or chia seeds, so maybe I don’t need them either.

I’m curious if life is easier or harder under these rules.  And I’m curious to go a whole year, through all the seasons and special events and to see if there is ever a good reason to eat this stuff.  I’d get a good idea after a year.

What are my chances of success?  Well, I think it’s higher than my chances of completing a real ironman.  But…I don’t have a lot of confidence I can do this.  Hardly any.  The salt is going to be the biggest challenge--it means I will have to say no to a lot of people who offer me food.  But I do love a challenge.  And I’ve always wanted to do an ironman.  So this is my version of an ironman.

When should I start?  I guess I’ll start tomorrow, April 19, 2017.

I know, this is crazy. I shouldn’t even post this.  But here goes…

Saturday, October 22, 2016

My Grand Canyon Backpacking Trip was Fantastic!

The title says it all but here are some pictures too.  Everything turned out really well.  It was a geology "class" with the Grand Canyon Field Institute, led by 2 guides and with 8 students.  I prepared my food as described in my previous post.  I had two 16-oz water bottles that I filled with my dehydrated food (75 g each, or about 2.5 oz) and water.  I did this after each meal and then started snacking on the first bottle an hour or two later.  I snacked on the bottles and on my seed mixture (hemp, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and a touch of salt) all day long.  I probably ate at most 1/8 tsp of salt in a day from the seeds, but I put so little salt on the entire bag I think it was quite a bit less.  So I think most of my salt just came from the natural foods, proving that you don't need to add much, if any salt, even in the desert. Our main guide told us at the beginning that we should eat lots of junk food and salty foods. One of the other students said she wasn't used to all the salt she was eating and I wonder if that's why she had swollen feet during most of the trip.   Everyone else ate those packaged backpacking meals where you boil water and then add it to a foil package.  They generated so much garbage that they had to pack out.  I didn't!  Also their food didn't look appetizing.  They made fun of me but I'm sure my food tasted better than anyone else's.  It was sweet thanks to the butternut squash and sweet potatoes.  And it was cool and refreshing with all the water that was added to it.  And I didn't have to carry the extra weight of a stove.  It was brilliant if I do say so myself.

And the trip was great and I was in great shape and had no trouble.  I was so relieved because I was nervous about how I would do.  I practically bounded up the canyon on the last day, in my excitement to reunite with my partner at the top.  I'd love to do this again and be more relaxed instead of nervous about whether I'd packed the right things and how my food would turn out and how I would do physically.  Here are some pictures:

Heading down from the North Rim on the North Kaibab Trail:

Relaxing at Cottonwood Campground on the first night:

The amazing Ribbon Falls, a sacred site for the Zuni Indians.

 Heading into the box Canyon as we approach Phantom Ranch at the bottom.

The mighty Colorado River, where I took a bath

It was cold!

Hiking out on Day 4.  We had an awesome hike on Day 3.

Our guide's favorite rock in the entire Grand Canyon:

Our campground on Day 4, the last night.  We huddled around the tree after the first rainstorm, then had another huge one that led to beautiful waterfalls off the Redwall cliffs and a flash flood very close to our campsite!

The start of thunderstorm #2, right when my camera battery died.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Using Dehydrated Food for Travel

I've used this in a number of ways:  1) for backpacking 2) when visiting friends celebrating a graduation where I didn't have control of the food, didn't have a car, and didn't want to be a bother--it was so much better eating my food than trying to make their food work for me, 3) to visit my family in a similar situation--though there I could have gone to the grocery store and used their kitchen but this was still easier.  In all cases, the dehydrated food was perfect:  I made my meals easily and I ate them while others ate their food, whether on the trail, at their homes or in restaurants.  Here's how I do it:

I order a bunch of food from Harmony House.  I'm sure there are other places too, this is just the first place I found.  I started with their Backpacking kit, and then over time learned which foods I like better than others.   Here is what my current supply looks like.   My starches:

These are peas, butternut squash, sweet potato, and sweet corn.  The corn is somewhat crunchy even after rehydration.  Note I don't have potatoes here.  I don't find the dehydrated potatoes to be very tasty, though I suppose I could give it another try.


Here I have pinto, black, lentils, kidney, split peas, northern and garbanzos.

Broccoli, cabbage, onion, spinach, celery, and "vegetable soup" which is a mixture of carrots, bell peppers, onion, and other stuff like that, all veggies.

I combine them into a big bowl with 4 parts (by weight or measuring cup, doesn't matter) starches, 2 parts beans, 2 parts veggies.  (This is what I did when I originally posted this.  However, the more I listen to Dr. McDougal and Chef AJ, the more I realize I don't HAVE to eat beans all the time, so you could just do starches and veggies if you want!   I bet that tastes great!).  I just pick at random what I want from the 3 categories, or add some of all in.   It doesn't matter much really, just make sure yo have enough sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  Those are essential because they make it taste really good and that's the goal.

Now, how much is a serving?  For backpacking I wanted to make sure I'm getting enough calories, so I looked at the nutritional information for all these different dehydrated items.  It turns out it's very similar for all of them, from starches to beans to veggies.  Why?  because all the water is gone.  Veggies are mostly water and that's why they are low calorie.  When you take out the water, they have a similar calorie density to dehydrated beans.  Interesting, huh?  So it turns out they are all about 3-4 calories/gram.  150 grams then gives about 525 calories.  That's about 5 oz or 1.5 cups.  For backpacking I added about 150 grams to each "sandwich" size ziplock bag.  [Edited later:  lesson learned from the backpacking trip:  To generate less garbage, just bring a big bag of food and a 1/2 cup measuring cup and dole out 1-1.5 cups per meal].   

For my backpacking trip, I put the small ziplock bags into a large gallon-size bag for more complete sealing.  About 6 small bags fit in the bigger bag.

To rehydrate, add about 3 times as much water.  You can use heat or not.  If you use heat, bring it to a boil it and it will be ready in 10-15 minutes (I'd let it sit another 15 minutes after that).  If you don't use heat, you can let it soak for 1-24 hours.   It's very forgiving.  This is a very filling meal and it tastes surprisingly good--the reason is that the squash and sweet potatoes make it taste sweet.  So these are key ingredients you don't want to leave out.  And of course you can change the ratio of veggies to starch to beans to whatever you want.  Maybe try 1/2 starches, 1/4 veggies, 1/4 beans--then it will be even sweeter!  You can of course supplement your meal with any fresh fruit or veggies you can get your hands on.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Soy Yogurt in the Instant Pot

Nowadays whenever I make soy yogurt, I do it in the Instant Pot pressure cooker. It's super easy.  You take a glass bowl, fill it with soy milk, as little or much as you want, add yogurt starter, whisk to mix well, put the bowl in the Instant Pot.  Put on the lid and turn on the yogurt setting.  I up the time to 12 hours.  How long depends on your tastes and your yogurt starter.  I use this for yogurt starter.  Only 1/8 tsp is needed for 1 quart of soy milk.  I use Edensoy unsweetened for the soy milk.  Westsoy also works well, it's just not as thick as Edensoy.  The soy milk should be room temperature--no need to boil it first like you have to do with cow's milk (to sterilize it).  There are other brands of yogurt starter you can use, or you can use store-bought yogurt for starter.  Whatever you choose will affect the flavor of the yogurt, so experiment for yourself to see what you like best.  Some are more sour than others.  I tend to like a less sour taste.

roasted vegetables

This is as easy as chopping an onion, some broccoli, and cauliflower.

an onion
Vegetables:  my favorites right now are broccoli and cauliflower, or asparagus (when in season).

Directions:  preheat the oven to 400 F, while chopping the vegetables.  Put them in a large glass baking dish.  Put them in the oven for 20 minutes.  stir.  Cook another 20 minutes.   Now you decide if you want to cook them longer.  This depends on your oven and your preferences.  Note that they will continue to cook as they cool.  But if you like them softer and sweeter, you can leave them in another 10-20 minutes, or turn off the oven without removing them and let them continue to cook as the oven slowly cools.  After a few experiments you'll know what you prefer.

Note on onions:  The vidalias are the most sweet, and the reds are least.   They will all sweeten up with roasting.

Note on not adding liquids.  Notice I didn't include oil or water.  The onions release water as it cooks.  It's possible if you didn't use onions, maybe you'd want 1 T of water.  But the veggies release liquid too.  Anyway, for this recipe, no added liquids are needed!

Feel free to add any seasonings or salt if you you'd like.  If I'm taking my veggies to a potluck, I'll usually add salt since most people are used to eating a lot of salt.  Otherwise, even though I do eat some salt in my diet, I don't find any desire to add salt to these when making for myself, as they are flavorful and sweet all on their own.

Here are my starting ingredients:


All done: