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....

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Today's food

Breakfast was some pineapple topped with a little bit of coconut shavings.

I ate a bunch of raw carrots throughout the day.

Lunch was a big salad.   I made up a new batch of my seed mixture where I grind up flax and sesame seed and add that to hemp hearts and chia seeds and mix it all up.  Then I can top that on various things.  Today I mixed it with orange juice and balsamic vinegar to make a dressing for my salad.  Here's my salad before and after a little work on the jigsaw puzzle.

I also made up a batch of split pea soup from this recipe.  I love this recipe!  I added extra cumin and curry because I love it.  I had a couple of small bowls already.

For dinner I'm going to a potluck.  I'm bringing a bunch of baked sweet potatoes and some cooked broccoli.   I'll heat up the potatoes, cut them in half, and put the out on a plate next to some butter, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice.  And I'll put out the broccoli on another plate.  Then I can eat some too, yippee.  It's hard to beat that for a meal.  I won't partake in the butter and maple syrup but I'm sure others will prefer it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My breakfasts of late

Fruit and nuts:

Favorites were an orange, blueberries and nuts.  or grapefruit, blueberries, and nuts.  or bananas, blueberries and nuts.  or apple, blueberries, and nuts.   But I ran out of nuts today so I'll move on to something else for a while.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

wow, I haven't blogged all week

It's been busy.  I'm still eating food from the freezer (see earlier posts), plus salads, raw carrots, cooked greens and veggies; and I've been enjoying a little more of the higher fat foods:  nuts (1 oz), home made soy yogurt, edamame.  Not a lot but enough to be enjoyable.  I had some frozen cherries and soy yogurt today at an ice cream shop (with a friend).   I'll take some pictures and post my food soon.   But it's going to be busy for 3 more days.   But maybe I'll want a break.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

today's food

I was still in the mood for salads at breakfast, and it's easy to do on the weekends.  I forgot to take a picture.  It was lettuce, spinach, grapefruit and 1 oz nuts.  It was really good.

Lunch and Dinner were not real meals as I was cooking and snacking all afternoon.   I ate a lot of raw carrots, some celery, and raw cabbage, a serving of from a big batch of greens I cooked up (kale, onion, garlic), and probably about 2 servings of the chili I cooked up.  I was planning to make some salad but didn't feel like it so just ate more carrots.

Exercise:   easy pilates workout in the morning.  in the afternoon I went up and down the stairs for 30 minutes with a backpack on (slowly).  Then I walked on the treadmill for 1.5 miles with the backpack on.  That was a good workout.  We had an ice storm a few days ago so I've been feeling trapped because the sidewalks are too treacherous to walk on.  I enjoyed discovering that I could still train for a backpacking trip without leaving the house!

Hearty chili stew

This chili is just another version of what I made last week with beans and beets and grains--just a change of starch and spices.  Housemate hates beets so I felt sorry for her and decided to make something she would like.  So now I have two different entrees in my freezer for variation.  This makes it really easy during the week.

1 lb dry beans
1/2 cup lentils
1/3 cup spelt berries
1/3 cup hulled barley
1/3 cup brown rice (I mixed forbidden rice with that)
1/3 cup oat groats
1 large onion or 2 medium
several garlic cloves
1 large sweet potato or 2 small, peeled and chopped
1 large rutabaga or 2 small, peeled and chopped
mushrooms, 1/2 lb or so, whatever you have
two 16 oz cans tomatoes
chili powder, 2 Tbsp (or more, to taste)
cumin powder, 2 tsp
oregano, 2 tsp
smoked paprika, 1 tsp
chipotle powder, a sprinkle to taste (it's hot but has an awesome flavor so I just put in a little)
lime juice, say 1 oz
fresh cilantro (optional)

Soak the dry beans overnight in one pot.  Soak the spelt berries and barley overnight in another pot.  In the morning, add the rice and oat groats to the grains with enough water (too much is okay since it's going into a soup), cook them up for an hour.  Add the lentils and spices to the beans and cook them up for 2-4 hours (varies depending on beans and freshness).  In the afternoon, or whenever you get to it, fry up the onions (dry, add water as needed), add the sweet potato and rutabaga, add some water, cook until tender.  Add the mushrooms and tomatoes near the end.  Combine everything into a very large pot, and let the flavors soak in as it all cools.  Add the lime juice and a bunch of chopped cilantro.   eat and enjoy.   I might add some soy yogurt to mine tomorrow though it's not needed at all.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Today I was in the mood for salads.   Here was breakfast:

That's chopped spinach, chopped pear, 1 oz nuts and seeds.  very enjoyable.

Then at lunch I was in the mood for a big salad:  lettuce, red bell pepper (on sale at the co-op--I wish I had gotten more!), a little chopped red cabbage, some peas, a spoonful of my seed mixture (ground flax and sesame seeds and hemp hearts) and some good balsamic vinegar.

Dinner was same as yesterday's lunch, but instead of broccoli and cauliflower and I had salsa and celery.    And I ate a lot of raw carrots throughout the day.  They are really sweet (local).

I was at a meeting this afternoon and lots of food was served by our host.  It looked good but doesn't fit my dietary specs, so I drank tea and that was fine.

Today's exercise:  I walked to the Y on very slippery streets (ice storm yesterday), did weights and some core and yoga.  I really wanted to go on a long walk afterwards as part of my daily routine, but it was too slippery.   So I did my home stair climbing regime--that's to go up and down my basement stairs with my backpack on--for 30 minutes (very slowly!).   I've got a couple of goals this spring and summer that should motivate me--one is a 17 mile walk, and the other is swimming across a favorite lake of mine.  Of course the big goal is the backpacking trip in the Fall.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

today's lunch

Boy was that good.  see yesterday's post for more explanation.   Dinner was similar but included a salad too.   the drink is the broth from steaming the broccoli and cauliflower.  :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Food for the next week

Today I cooked up enough food for a week.  awesome!   and it was mostly local.  in Wisconsin. in winter.   awesome!  oh yeah, and it's good too.   I cooked up a pound of white beans in one pan, some spelt berries (local!) and oat groats in another; and then in a big pot, cooked up a giant onion, a giant beet, giant rutabaga, purple cabbage, and mushrooms (all local!).   This made 13 servings.  I froze most of them.  Now all I have to do is cook up some veggies on the side.

This is the sort of meal plan I plan for the next week:

Breakfast:  fruit and 1 oz mixed raw nuts (I made my own mixture).  My fruit choices this week are apples, concord pears and grapefruit.

Snacks:  raw carrots (local)

Lunch and dinner:  cooked veggie (e.g., collards, kale, which are local from our garden, or broccoli, cauliflower which are not local) and/or salad (greens, ground seeds, vinegar), serving of the food I cooked up or a baked potato or baked sweet potato with some home-made soy yogurt.

So I may not have much to report for the next week since I just told you my food.  I also am settling on my exercise plan, probably something like this:  in the morning walk to the Y, swim or weights, walk some more.  then in the afternoon, up and down stairs for 30 minutes.  I want to fit yoga in there too.  I'm training for a backpacking trip so want to do lots of walking and climbing and I want to get strong.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Jan. 3 food at the retreat

I'm at a meditation retreat this week.  I took a break tonight to do some home/church duties so am taking the opportunity to post here.  I'm glad I made a bunch of food earlier in the week because the offerings at the retreat are less than what I expected---though it makes sense now that I think about it. I was expecting more fresh salads and fruit (I've been at this place before), but it's not the season for that in Wisconsin.  So it's mostly soups and sandwiches with the usual ingredients I don't want to eat.  Earlier this week I made a big batch of winter veggies (onion, beets, rutabaga) and combined that with cooked beans, wheat berries and oat groats, and froze into individual servings.  I also made a huge batch of collard greens (I have a freezer full from the garden), tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and garlic which I froze too.  Today I am making soy yogurt because that goes so well with beets and sweet potato--I added dill to the beet dish today.  So my meals are:  fruit and nuts for breakfast, carrots for snacks, sweet potato, yogurt, and greens for lunch, winter veggies, yogurt, dill, and greens for dinner.  There's some fruit salad at the retreat so I can have that for lunch and dinner too.

I don't plan to post anymore until the retreat is over, next week.  bu-bye!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Jan. 1 food and exercise

I ate some frozen grapes before exercise.

Exercise:  I walked to the Y (YMCA) but it was not open yet.  Oh yeah, new year's hours.  So I walked home.  It's still nice getting out.  I walked up and down the stairs for 30 minutes wearing a backpack.  That's just as good as using the stair climber at the Y!  even better.  I may rethink my exercise and try to do this at home every day, then do something different at the Y.  anyway, after that I did some yoga and stretching.

Then I ate more grapes.  I cooked up some rice, onion, bell pepper for later, and had a small bowl with chopped grapes and curry powder.  That was good.

Then I ate more grapes.  too many grapes!  and a bunch of raw carrots.

Of course, I wasn't hungry for lunch.  I had some celery and a little salsa.

Dinner was a bunch of chestnuts,  some hoppin' john (rice, yellow-eyed peas, tomatoes, greens, and seasoning) (it's supposed to be made with black-eyed peas, not yellow-eyed), and some celery, carrots and salsa.