Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Back to Fuhrman

I feel like I need more fat and less starches.  I've been following the low-fat vegan camp for the last 2 years.  It makes sense to me: vegetables, starches, whole grains, fruit.  Dr. McDougall says "The fat you eat is the fat you wear."  The popular Chef AJ didn't lose her excess weight until she gave up nuts.  And in this post, I outline all the arguments I've heard about how you don't have to eat nuts to be healthy.  So I'm sure it works great for a lot of people, obviously Chef AJ, but it's not going so great for me, for three reasons:  One is that my fingernails don't look as healthy and my skin has some irritations.  The second is that I seem to have more trouble staying on plan--probably not the diet's fault.  Then the third, possibly imagined, is that when I go off plan, it seems that my body sucks up the fat like a vacuum cleaner.  I gain weight every time I go off plan (every few weeks), and I maintain when I stay on plan.  So even though I've mostly been following a low-fat vegan diet for 2 years, I've gained 20 lbs. I went off plan when I followed Fuhrman too but it was less often and I didn't deviate as far--often it was just eating too many nut butters and dates and manna bread.  I can't blame the low-fat vegan diet for my weight gain since it happened from going off plan, but the funny thing is I didn't lose when I was on plan.  Maybe it's low metabolism from my age (I'm 54).  Maybe if I followed the Fuhrman plan, I'd have all the same problems, though hopefully not the nail/skin problems.

Then there are the starches.  McDougall says you should have a starch at every meal--which makes sense to me.  There was a 3 week period recently when I was busy and had to go out to eat a lot to entertain job applicants, and so for fun and simplicity I ate nothing but Japanese sweet potatoes and potatoes as my starch (no added sugar, oil or salt, easy to sneak into restaurants).  Of course, I ate veggies and salads too.  I enjoyed it but after three weeks, I was feeling more and more groggy.  I was thinking, come on, I'm doing everything right, how come I don't feel great?  Well, I am sensitive to high glycemic foods.  I don't measure my blood sugar, I can just feel it.  I remember when I was a kid, I loved pancakes (with syrup of course) but I always felt like crap afterwards.  I know potatoes and sweet potatoes should be healthy but maybe the modern version is too starchy for me.  I especially love the Japanese sweet potatoes and I'm therefore suspicious that they are especially high on the glycemic index.  Drs. McDougall and Esselstyn and Jeff Novick say glycemic index is bunk.  Maybe it is, but I just go by how I feel and much as I love the potatoes--which I make especially starchy by baking a long time and then refrigerating--I can't eat them all the time. I went back to eating more beans a few weeks ago and feel a lot better.  I'll still eat the potatoes and sweet potatoes, and rice and other intact grains, but in smaller amounts.  And I'm going to add back in some fat, in the form of nuts and seeds and avocado and soy.

I hope to lose some weight even though I'm adding in fat.  I have a backpacking trip in the Fall and I think it would be easier on my body if I lost some weight.   Dr. Fuhrman says "you have to eat fat to lose fat."  That never made sense to me until recently when I wondered if my body has gone into some sort of fat-starvation mode where it will suck every fat cell from my food it can get, which isn't good if I succumb to the temptation to eat the...whatever it is.  

So I'm going to try Fuhrman again, except for the supplements, for now.  I'd like to try it for 12 weeks and then get my bloodwork done and see where I should go from there.  I could say I'm doing any of the plant-based diets, since they all allow nuts, but I also like to avoid the salt and sugar and flour, so it looks more like the Fuhrman diet.  I don't like the smoothies though, for the same reason I don't like the flour, too processed and stimulating.  

Enough about that, the more exciting news is about our kitchen remodel which I'll post about next.

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.

Edited later:  This dressing was awful after it was frozen and thawed!   Flax and chia in a dressing don't freeze and thaw well.  It gets all clumpy.

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.