Friday, December 4, 2015

Fitness Update

I mentioned in a previous post that I joined a 60 day fitness challenge at my gym a few months ago.  I am shocked, shocked to tell you that, guess who won the challenge?   the wimpiest one in the class!  yeah, me!  Here is the white board showing my victorious accomplishments:

I just found out yesterday that I won prizes too.  I got 3 personal training sessions, and 1 month membership to a climbing gym.  Those will be fun to cash in on.

One thing that helped me win is that we earned points for eating a Whole Foods Plant-Based diet!    I also improved my fitness, attended the classes regularly, converted some body fat to muscle, and took a lot of yoga classes, all of which earned points.  The best thing I learned from the challenge was that, by golly, I can improve!  Our classes are repeated 3 times each month.  Before the challenge, I was content with just showing up to class and getting through it.  Now I log my exercise, time, weight, etc, and try to improve each time the class is repeated.  I made some substantial improvements in areas that surprised me, like some challenging core exercises and weights.  I had a mindset that I'm weak and there is nothing to be done about it but now I'm thinking I can get a little bit stronger.

Now I have a new challenge.  I'm hoping to do a backpacking trip next fall that I had to cancel this fall.  So I signed up to climb the Hancock building in Chicago on Feb. 25.  That's 94 floors.  I started training about 3 weeks ago with my basement stairs.  I started with 10 flights in a day and am increasing by 1 flight a day.  I'm up to 32 flights right now.   Fun tools to help me with that are my clicker and my stair log posted on the refrigerator.

Here are the stairs that I am becoming close personal friends with:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Opportunity to Participate in a Research Study

I signed up to participate in a "Nutritarian Women's Health Study" run by the Nutritional Research Foundation.   If you follow a Nutritarian lifestyle (Dr. Fuhrman's plan) and want to participate, go to this link.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Monkey Bar Gym 60-Day Challenge

I had to cancel my planned backpacking trip due to an injury of my travel companion.  To keep me motivated for next year, I joined a 60-day challenge at my gym.  It's fun.  And the best thing of all is that the gym owner promotes a whole-foods plant based diet.  You get points for attending classes and improving fitness, but I think you can score the most points for each day that is plant-perfect. Is that cool or what?  We also get points for logging our food.  We can do it simply by just writing down what we eat but they also suggest we could use myfitnesspal.  So I started doing that just for the challenge.  You can see my food logs there--I'm barbarawhitney182.  I don't know if I want to lose weight or not.  I'm at Dr. Fuhrman's recommended weight but I still have a tummy.  But maybe that's just life for a 55 year old who weighed 30 lbs more a year ago.   I think I won't focus on the weight, just staying on my food plan and scoring points with the exercise classes.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Updating the Blog

I’ve updated my links to the right to reflect my current thinking.  I now believe that healthy fat is an important part of my diet so I took off the links to sites that promote extremely low-fat diets.  I’ve recently discovered some vegan Registered Dieticians (RDs) whose recommendations fit very well with my experience and make a lot of sense to me.  I’ve read the new edition of Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, and think that is an excellent resource for anyone who is vegan.   I’m still exploring these sites.  The Reasonable Vegan site is not even about health.  Even though my blog is about health, I’m an ethical vegan first and this blog has many articles of interest for me.  This reminds me that I have noticed that most of the vegans I know are not any healthier than the general population and I’m concerned that some appear to be less healthy.  I think many vegans lack some knowledge of simple ways to make their diet much more healthy.  I think it’s important for us to thrive on a healthy diet so we don’t feel the need to go against our core values and start consuming animal products again.   The Vegan RD website has a few easy-to-read articles that tell you pretty much all you need to know to get enough protein and calcium, and to thrive on a healthy diet.

I'm also updating some of my featured posts that are linked at right.  It will take a few days to get through all of those.


This is a fun lunch I make for housemate.

2 corn tortillas
some beans seasoned with chili & cumin powder
little bit of tomatoes chopped
little bit of cilantro chopped
little bit of lime juice
little bit of avocado

Use these to make the shells:

My tortillas are in the freezer.  I thaw for 10 sec in the microwave, then smash them between two of these pans and heat in the oven (350 F) for, say 10 minutes, then take the top pan off and toast for, say 5 minutes--the longer the better without burning.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Training Plan

I am hoping to do a backpacking trip this fall.  There is a situation out of my control that may cause me to cancel.  But in the hopes I can go, I've started training.  Here is my training plan.  The top table is a plan, the bottom, what I actually do.  I'm having fun doing it.  MBG is Monkey Bar Gym, where I go for exercise class.  Devil's Lake is a state park with some 500 ft bluffs.  That's as steep as it gets around here.  I do a 5 mile walk around the lake climbing 2 bluffs.  It's very pretty.

Update:   The trip was cancelled.  But I'm hoping to go in 2016.  I should be in even better shape by then.  I'll keep training.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Split Pea Soup

This is another soup I make for housemate that I want to log for future reference.  

1 large onion or 2 medium, chopped
1 large carrot or 2 medium, sliced
1-2 potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 cup green or yellow split peas
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
5 cups water

Combine everything into the InstantPot pressure cooker, and cook for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My weight journey

A friend on the BLE forums shared an excel template for plotting your weight, so I've been having fun playing with that.  Here is my 4.5 year history:

The green triangles are pre-BLE, blue diamonds are BLE (Feb. 25, 2015 to present), and the red squares are my fictional future starting on July 9, when I reach goal weight, if I continue on my present course.  You can see my weight gain accelerated over time!  That was due to going off plan more and more as time went on.  My eating was definitely out of control.  Here is a zoom of the BLE portion of my journey:

After the initial faster weight loss (I was on vacation so I have a two week gap between the beginning point on Feb. 25 at 157 lbs and March 11 where you start to see lots of dots), it stabilized at a rate of 1.1 lbs/week.  According to the trend, I should reach my goal weight on July 9.  Then I will start my "maintenance dance"  (currently the fictional red squares), if all goes well!

Friday, June 19, 2015

My Health Update

Here are some blood work results after following Bright Line Eating for nearly 4 months.


ComponentStandard RangeYour Value
CHOLESTEROL115 - 200 mg/dL135
TRIGLYCERIDE10 - 149 mg/dL47
HDL40 - 60 mg/dL46
LDL, CALCULATED50 - 130 mg/dL80
ComponentStandard RangeYour Value
GLUCOSE65 - 105 mg/dL79
ComponentStandard RangeYour Value
VITAMIN B12 239 - 931 pg/mL 778
ComponentStandard RangeYour Value
FERRITIN 11.1 - 264.0 ng/mL 31.0

That looks good to me!   I'm 3 lbs away from the weight Fuhrman recommends (for women, the formula he suggests is 95 + 4 x [the number of inches you are above 5 ft], so for me that's 129 lbs.  

Here is my typical menu:
B:  4 oz cooked oat groats, 2 oz edamame or 4.5 oz yogurt, 6 oz fruit, 1/2 oz nuts/seeds
L:  4 oz beans, 6 oz non-starchy veggies any combo of raw and cooked, 6 oz fruit, 1/2 oz nuts/seeds
D:  6 oz beans, 14 oz non-starchy veggies any combo, 1/2 oz nuts/seeds

Food prep
cook up 6 oz dry oat groats into 4 servings.
cook up 1 lb beans into 8 servings, 4 4oz, 4 6oz

Does it sound boring?  I really like it.  For one thing, you vary the beans and the nuts and the fruit and the veggies every day and every meal.   Once corn season arrives in mid-July, I will modify the plan to include starchy veggies!  I should be at my goal weight then but even if not, I will eat corn!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cream of Tomato Soup

I've been making this a lot for housemate.  I think I have it perfected so I'd better write it down before I forget!

1 medium-large onion, cut into chunks for cooking (will blend later)
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into chunks for cooking (will blend later)
1 medium red bell pepper (optional), cut into chunks
3 deglet noor dates or 1 medjool date
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 16-oz cans of tomatoes (ours are from the garden!)
3-4 fresh basil leaves (or to taste) and/or other fresh herbs (dill, chives), or some dried
1/4-1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1.  Soak the cashews and dates covered in water for 1 hour or overnight.   (If you forgot to soak, you can do a quick load by covering them with waterm microwaving them until hot, and let set for a minute or two).
2.  Strain the juice from the tomatoes and use that to cook with the onion and carrot and red bell pepper until soft.  You'll probably need some water too, but don't use too much.  I usually use a pressure cooker, set for 3 minutes.
3.  Blend the cashews and dates in their water on high until creamy.  Then add the tomatoes and blend again until creamy.  Then add the onions and carrots and blend again.  Add the salt.  Add water if needed for desired thickness.  By this point, my blender container is about 50 oz full which is just about right.  You can add a little more liquid if you want, say 1/2 cup.  Then add the herbs and blend just until they are chopped.
4.  This makes 4 servings, each about 1.75 cups.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Food Revolution Summit

See this link:  The Food Revolution Summit.  John and Ocean Robbins interview experts in many different areas related to food, from health to politics to GMOs to urban farming to ethics.  I thought this year was particularly outstanding.  There's another opportunity to listen to the entire set of interviews for free, but I guess that starts right now so you have to hurry.  Or you can purchase the recordings (the "empowerment package").  I did that.  I figure it's a good cause and it's totally worth it.  I'm going to listen to the interviews a second time.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

potato fries and ketchup/BBQ sauce

I posted yesterday about making a new batch of ketchup/BBQ sauce.  So today I enjoyed potato fries with that.  It's very simple:  take a baked potato, slice and season it, and broil for 8-10 minutes.  I got this idea from Jeff Novick's Burgers and Fries DVD.

I chose different spices for each slice:

Here are the potato "fries":

I had them with steamed broccoli.  It was delicious.

chickpeas and bananas

It is a great day when I have some cooked chickpeas and a ripe banana and that happened yesterday, so I had chickpeas, banana and cinnamon for dinner (with steamed broccoli on the side).  It probably sounds crazy but I enjoy it as a treat.

Friday, February 13, 2015

ketchup/BBQ sauce

This is very similar to my recent ketchup recipe only it doesn't use dates, is easier to make, and has a little barbecue flavor.  If you want it sweeter, which is more traditional, add some dates when you blend it up.  I just find that overpowers the taste of my potatoes, which have their own luscious flavors and sweetness.  I added a little smoky flavor to this which is why its kind of a mix between ketchup and BBQ sauce.

Ingredients (I include exact amounts for no important reason, just because I measured them):

1 onion (159 g), cut into medium pieces (no need to chop finely as everything gets blended)
1 medium apple, peeled, sliced (151 g)
3 cloves garlic, peeled (21 g)
3 carrots, cut into medium pieces (197 g)
1 red bell pepper (148 g)
2 16-oz cans tomatoes
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp liquid smoke
chipotle powder to taste (I just use a sprinkle)

Strain the tomatoes and use the liquid for steaming.  Steam the onion, apple, garlic, carrots, bell pepper in the InstantPot (or any pressure cooker) for 3 minutes then let it slow-release.  Or steam on the stove for 20-30 minutes until the veggies are soft.

Combine everything in the blender including the steaming water.  I poured this into 6 1-cup bowls, froze 5, and am saving one for tomorrow when I make potato fries.  yum.

I make each bowl last for 2 servings of potato fries, so that's a whopping 36 calories per serving.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Freshening up lettuce

I learned this from a produce guy at the grocery store.  In Wisconsin in winter, our lettuce from California can use a little sprucing up.  I slice off the bottom (1/2" maybe?) of the lettuce head and put it in a bowl with water just to cover the bottom, cover with a plastic bag and refrigerate.  One day later, the lettuce head is considerably larger and the leaves are crispy!  Can you tell which is which from these pictures?

Food logs feb. 3 and 4

Yesterday's food was
Breakfast at 9 am before heading off to teach a class:  banana.  I wasn't hungry but knew I would be later.  snacked on carrots while fixing lunch
Lunch at noon:  baked sweet potato, big salad (lettuce, red bell pepper, flax and sunflower seed, 1/2 grapefruit, d'angou pear vinegar and 1 T blueberry juice)
Dinner:  greens from yesterday mixed with lentils from a few days ago;  big salad--same as lunch

Today's food is
Breakfast:  snacking on carrots and apple skins and raw cabbage while fixing food (and peeling apples obviously)
Lunch:  I took a baked potato, cut it up into pieces, tossed with smoked paprika, broiled in the oven for about 8 minutes, and added a serving of the lentils from a few days ago.  The potatoes smelled like barbecue as they toasted.  Pretty yummy for a quick meal!  See pictures.  Oh, then a big salad (lettuce, red bell pepper, flax and sunflower seed, 1 small orange, d'angou pear vinegar and 2 T blueberry juice).

Dinner will be:  chickpeas and banana and cinnamon (try it and see what you think!); cooked cabbage and apple.

1) I had to move my exercise time to attending a 4 pm class instead of 7:30 am like before.  This will take discipline but I just have to treat it like a religious requirement and the habit will take effect.  An unexpected benefit of this is that I won't be snacking in the afternoon because I don't like to exercise on a full stomach.  To fit my schedule and desires, I will extend my eating window to 10 hours.  I like eating something around 9-10 am, and dinner will be closer to 6 pm now and that's fine.
2) The co-op has had good bananas lately so I couldn't resist getting a few more.  That's why I cooked up the chickpeas because that's a nice treat to me, chickpeas and bananas.  I cooked up 1/2 lb of chickpeas and divided into 4 portions to go with my 4 bananas.
3) I cooked up 2 apples and a small head of cabbage and some cinnamon in the instant pot pressure cooker (1 minute then slow release--actually this overcooked it a bit, so either do 2 minutes and quick pressure release or 1 minute and maybe wait a few minutes and then release--but it's still good, hard to ruin it).  I put this into 3 bowls for the next few days.
4) I'm eating more beans than usual.  Normally I would just have 1 serving but I wanted the chickpeas and bananas, and the lentils are still hanging around.
5) I'm thinking next week I will make beans and rice of some sort.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

a different soup every day

Today I made a sort of "soup base" that I can season differently on each day to make a different topping.  I thought that would be a fun thing to do this week.  I cooked up 1/2 lb of lentils (black beluga from, a chopped onion, minced garlic, 1 Tbsp coconut aminos, a large peeled carrot--not chopped or cut--and strained liquid from 2 pints of tomatoes.  I put these in the instant pot pressure cooker and cooked for 8 minutes.  Then I took out the carrot and blended it with the tomatoes and 1 date, and added that back into the "soup"  (more like lentils and sauce).  So that is now my lentils and sauce base.  I dished this out into 7 1-cup bowls to eat this week and season however I want:  chili, Indian, curry, Italian, etc.

For my main meal around 1 pm, I seasoned one dish of the lentils with chili powder, cumin powder, smoked paprika and cilantro, and poured that over a baked potato.  It was delicious!

Other food today was
Breakfast:  cooked broccoli and cauliflower, raw carrots

Dinner:  I was going to make my usual salad.  Then I made some salsa for my partner to have during the Superbowl.  This was a pint of tomatoes with juice drained, a small chopped carrot, a portion of a red bell pepper, very little onion and garlic, a couple of slices of an orange and lime, all blended in a blender, with some cilantro added afterwards.  I didn't have any fresh cilantro so made use of some dried.

It tasted good so I decided to just dip my romaine lettuce leaves in that for my salad.  That was good.

I also ate the rest of the orange, it was a small cara-cara navel and tasted good.

I also finished off the broccoli and cauliflower and ate more raw carrots.  Dessert was some frozen banana slices and cherries.  This tastes like ice cream to me.  It was so good I had to have another bowl of frozen bananas and pomegranate seeds.

Simple meals I ate last week

Breakfasts:  Early last week I cooked up a big batch of kale, onions, garlic tomatoes, mushrooms, and vinegar, and dished it out into 6 bowls and then had one for breakfast every day.  One note to remember in the future, I think I prefer this with just greens and onions.  and that's easier.  I also ate 1-2 lbs of raw carrots in the morning and early afternoon.  I know, that's a lot.  My co-op carries fabulous carrots from a local farm and they are at their peak in sweetness right now--they must cure over winter.

Lunches:  either a baked potato made into oven fries and homemade ketchup; or a baked Japanese sweet potato; and raw carrots or a cooked veggie, e.g., broccoli.  This post describes how to make potato fries and reminds me of a good way to eat them that I forgot about.  Baked Japanese sweet potatoes are like candy!  I just eat them plain like a burrito and savor each bite.

Dinners:  large salad with lettuce, red bell pepper and ground seeds; dressing from 1/4 cup blueberry or cherry juice and 1 Tbsp fruity vinegar.  Early in the week I also had a bowl of chickpeas and sliced banana and cinnamon. Later in the week, I put beans on my salad sometimes with fruit like apple or pear. The juice I use for the salads is Lakewood organic which is cold pressed and probably has a little more of the fiber than the normal juice made from concentrate.  But it also costs twice as much.  Oh well, I only eat 1/4 cup a day at most so I can afford it.  The ground seeds soak up some of the juice and thickens it up and it stays on the lettuce instead of all going to the bottom of the bowl.  The beans were cooked up in the instant pot pressure cooker, 1/2 lb, with 1 Tbsp coconut aminos.  They were split into four servings.  My added sodium was under 100 mg per day.